16 Dec 2014

Guest post by the fabulous Sheila M. Cronin

Do all gifts have strings attached? Yes, believes pert, inquisitive Jonquil Bloom as she sets out to counsel gift givers at a local department store. A single mom and UCLA graduate student in psychology, gifts fascinate Jonquil. When are they sincere? When are they not? She is skilled at helping customers choose the perfect gift for any occasion, but she soon discovers that her elegant theory doesn’t apply to every situation, leaving her to wonder: what are true gifts?
Ten-year-old Billy Bloom is the center of her life. Billy yearns to have a dog but his mom has told him repeatedly that she is allergic to them. Instead, his bedroom is crammed full of toy animals, each of them demonstrating her misguided attempts to distract him. Billy, a generous and hopeful boy, refuses to give up.
Into both their lives enters Claude Chappel, a native French Canadian and general contractor working on a construction site across from where they live. Claude, who’s eager to settle down, is instantly captivated by Jonquil. Past traumatic losses make her wary of him. Still, his charms are irresistible, if impetuous, and after a bumpy start they begin seeing each other. Yet, Claude cannot help but notice that the gift counselor has denied her own son what he most wants, a troubling paradox that spurs him to action.
A romantic and touching story filled with inspirational and psychological breakthroughs, The Gift Counselor will warm your heart this Christmas and all year through, and be the ideal stocking-stuffer for your family, friends and co-workers. Be sure to order early and often!

Author Guest Post

Do all gifts come with strings attached? I don’t mean the tempting ribbons and bows on the outside of box that make one’s eyes shine and one’s fingers itch to discover what’s inside. I mean the hidden strings of emotions and manipulation that can be more binding.
I consulted one of the most fun gift-givers I know, “Ginger,” my drop-dead gorgeous and generous beautician. She stunned me by saying that every Christmas after she turned fourteen, her mother would give her some article of clothing not in her size. A lacy slip, a stylish robe, a pretty blouse, whatever the gift, it was always two sizes too large for her. Guess who it fit?
I gasped. “So none of your mother’s presents were for you? They were for her?” Ginger nodded. She was calmly doing my hair as she told me, a broad smile on her face.
“Ginger, that’s not gift-giving.”
“Well,” she said philosophically, “I knew what she was doing wasn’t right. My mother had problems. But her odd behavior was a blessing in disguise because it made me want to become a good gift-giver and now nothing gives me more pleasure than giving good gifts.”
Hidden agendas spoil gift-giving. True gifts are free but many don’t measure up to this high standard. Obligation, bribery, showing off, indifference, jealousy and a slew of other negative feelings get in the way. True gifts are thoughtful or spontaneous, sexy or serious, light-hearted or poignant, simple or elaborate but always they come from the heart.
To give well one must be able to receive. What comes first, the chicken or the egg? In the case of giving well, one must first have had the thrill and joy of receiving. Don’t wait for someone else to gift you. You can practice by giving yourself a gift. You’ll discover as Ginger did that true gifts have no strings attached.
Sheila M. Cronin’s novel, The Gift Counselor, is a timeless mix of romance, drama, psychological and spiritual insights and humor. Visit her website at www.giftcounselorbook.com for more information or order the paperback or Kindle format at amazon.com. Happy holidays, happy reading!

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