Monday, December 12, 2011

Marisa de los Santos shares some holiday favorites and her latest novel!

**Giveaway is now closed**

There have been many positive reviews and buzz since "Falling Together," by New York Times bestselling author Marisa de los Santos, was released this past October. (We can totally understand why...check out Gail Allison's review right here!) We are very excited she's here today with us to share some of her holiday favorites. Marisa was born in Baltimore and grew up in Virginia. She went to school at the University of Virginia, Sarah Lawrence and The University of Houston, where she studied poetry and published a poetry collection called "From the Bones Out." One of her favorite hobbies is attending the ballet and taking ballet classes. Her two other novels are "Love Walked In" and "Belong to Me." She lives in Wilmington, Delaware with her husband, and two children, Charles and Annabel.

Thanks to HarperCollins, we have one copy of "Falling Together" to give away to a lucky reader in the US.

You can visit Marisa at Harper Collins and on Facebook.

Author photo credit: Tisa Della-Volpe

What is your favorite holiday recipe?
I am a fool for stuffing! I sort of fly by the seat of my pants when I make it, so it’s a little different every time, but it always involves sausage, mushrooms, chopped Granny Smith apples, fresh herbs, and onions sautéed in ungodly amounts of butter. I go easy on the sage because I don’t like the way it can elbow out all the other flavors. I like cubed breadcrumbs best because my family likes a toothy stuffing, not a mushy one. And I always use lots of turkey drippings, along with a couple of eggs and some chicken stock to sort of glue it all together. I put some in the turkey and bake some in a pan in the oven. It’s not particularly gourmet but it is so delicious.

What is your favorite childhood holiday memory?
I can’t think of my childhood Christmases without calling up the taste of onion dip, the sound of billiard balls hitting each other, and the backseat of my parent’s car. We would go to my Aunt Kitty and Uncle Perry’s house in Maryland, a couple of hours away. The place was always full of people. We’d all eat dinner in their dining room and at tables set up in their living room, but we’d spend the rest of the time in their big finished basement, playing pool (I loved chalking the pool cues) and eating things like Ruffles potato chips, onion dip, cheese straws, and honey-roasted peanuts. I felt so at home in that basement with the woodstove going and everyone talking and talking, but I may have loved the ride home best of all: my parents quiet conversation, Christmas carols on the radio, the starry dark and cold out the window, and my sister and me in the backseat, half-asleep, perfectly together, perfectly safe, heading home.

How are the holidays celebrated in your family?
My sister and her husband and their two kids usually come to our house, and, honestly, there’s never any of that famous holiday family stress. We all just like each other too much. We spend a very happy, very boisterous, very informal holiday. We open presents in our pajamas with Christmas carols playing. After that, we just sort of do things as we feel like doing them: breakfast, showers, table-setting, cooking, cleaning up. The kids play with their toys. We eat whenever everything’s ready. Usually there’s a football game on at some point. Sometimes, we dress for dinner, sometimes not. If a dish doesn’t turn out, no one really cares. Often, we’ll take a walk after dinner. Occasionally, I wish we were a little more formal, but easy-peasy, slightly chaotic, and jolly just seems to be what suits us.

What is your favorite holiday themed movie?
It’s a Wonderful Life, without question. I am a breathless Capra fan, and I start putting that movie in the DVD player beginning around Thanksgiving. It just sort of plays in the background all holiday season, a kind of cinematic wallpaper. I don’t understand how anyone could find it sappy, although I’ve heard this criticism more than once. I think it’s brave and true and funny. I have never—not once—failed to cry when Harry Bailey shows up at the end and makes the toast to his big brother George, “the richest man in town.” I’m getting choked up just thinking about it!

What is the best gift you ever gave or received?
When I was a gymnastics-obsessed ten-year-old, my grandfather made me a balance beam. It was a low beam, about a foot off the ground, padded with foam and covered with a piece of carpet. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I was in love with it. I practiced on it as soon as I woke up in the morning, would drag it out the screen doors into the yard on nice days and do beam routines in the yard. During the school day, I was a small, bookworm-ish, nerdy girl in glasses. But on that beam, I was Nadia Comaneci: perfect. I can’t remember if I ever told my grandfather how much that beam meant to me. I hope so!

Thanks to Marisa for answering our holiday questions and to HarperCollins for sharing Marisa's latest novel with a lucky reader!

How to win "Falling Together":
Please comment below with your e-mail address. (Please note:Entries without an e-mail address will NOT be counted. You can use AT and DOT to avoid spam. Or provide a link to your facebook page or blog if you can receive messages there.)

Bonus entries (can be listed all in one post):
1. Please tell us: What is your favorite childhood winter holiday memory?
2. Follow this blog and post a comment saying you are a follower (if you already follow, that's fine too).
3. Post this contest on Facebook or Twitter or in your blog, and leave a comment saying where you've posted it.
4. Join Chick Lit Central on Facebook. Edit settings if you don't want to receive a lot of messages at your e-mail account. Please read our posting guidelines, as well. (If you're already a member, let us know that too.)
5. Add a friend to our Facebook group. (Tell us who you added.) Be sure to remind them to edit their settings.

US only. Giveaway ends December 18th at midnight EST.


Nina said...

Nice to hear about her holidays without any of that family stress! I am looking forward to that this year! My favorite memories would just be the time between waking up Christmas morning and waiting for my parents to wake up Christmas morning! My siblings and I would just sit and take everything all in with such excitement.

Klarissa Shaninghouse said...

I am looking forward to the holidays because this will be the second year for my daughter, and just to see her face with the opening of her presents will be a pure joy for me,along with spending time with family because family at the end of the day is the most important thing.

Anonymous said...

Favorite childhood holiday memory? It has to be my mom taking my sister and I to see The Nutcracker ballet. It was something we'd do every year until we grew up and all scattered. To this day, it's my favorite of classical music.

Nancy H
ndbh39 at yahoo dot com

Karlene1024 said...

My favorite childhood memory was getting a Chatty Cathy for Christmas:)

Karlene1024 said...

Whoops! forgot my e-mail address.

My favorite memory was getting a Chatty Cathy for Christmas.

Joanie said...

My favorite Christmas memory was Christmas Eve 1965. My sister and I went to the local Five and Ten store with a few dollars to buy gifts for the family. We saved enough to buy sodas at the hoagie shop after our shopping trip. We bought Frescas. Now if you remember the old Fresca commercial, where a blizzard happens when someone drinks it... well, that happened on that Christmas Eve! My older sister got stuck at her job overnight and my dad didn't get home from his weekend job until 5 am (his shift ended at 11 pm.) We thought the blizzard was our fault!

Joanie said...

I should have added I"m not sure if that was a big favorite but it sure was memorable!

Rhonda Rae Baker said...

I love Marisa's writing...would love to win her novel. Thank you for the review as well...(-:

email me at

Anonymous said...

I think Falling Together is a great example of people who come together as a family and share occasions/make memories. Thanks for such a great story that gave words to such times.

Kristi said...

Thanks for considering me in the drawing. I love Marisa's two previous books and tell everyone I know about them. My favorite childhood memory is getting a Barbie horse from Santa. Thanks for the giveaway. I just became a follower and posted this on twitter. THanks!

Joanie said...

commented: check!
added email: check!
following blog: check!
shared a link and commented on Facebook: check!
requested to friend on Facebook: check!

faithspage said...

Growing up on a farm was one adventure after another. There is a HUGE hill in the back of the farm we would sleigh ride down. The old wooden sleighs, so much fun. We would stay out all day and loved every minute of it.
I follow on gfc and fb

kyfaithw at aol dot com

Kelsey said...

We always spent Christmas Eve at my mom's parents' home with tons of aunts and uncles and cousins, Andy Williams Christmas albums on the stereo. Every year, we'd be bundled in the car on the way home and ask my parents if we could open our presents when we arrived home if Santa had already been to our house. Of course they always said yes! :-) There was always a few moments of excitement and possibility when we'd walk into the dark house and imagine shadows beneath the Christmas tree, but alas, he'd never made it there before us.


Kristen said...

Love her books and would love this one.

Favorite memory - I would wake up Christmas morning and shake because I was so excited. This should have warned my parents that I would be high maintenance!

I follow on FB and email.


Anonymous said...

Reading your memories certainly brought back some wonderful memories for me of our family gatherings. Thanks for your kinf comments!

karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read marisa's latest the cover art :)

i'm a follower, too

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Carol N Wong said...

My favorite childhood holiday memory is when my father handmade and painted blocks of different shapes-triangles, rectangles, squares, and cyclinders for me to build with. Since my parents didn't have enough money to buy presents for me, they always made toys,etc. for Christmas.


Carol N Wong said...

I am a long time follower of your blog.


Carol N Wong said...

I posted this giveaway on my Facebook contest:


Carol N Wong said...

I have joined Chick Lit Central on Facebook.


Amber @ A Little Pink in the Cornfields said...

1. My favorite childhood winter memory is definitely spending hours outside in the snow, between running back inside to get warm and dry off and then run back out for more!

2. I'm a follower!

3. I tweeted!

4. I'm liked CLC on Facebook!

amber_johnson2004 at yahoo dot com

BRN2SHOP9 said...

We had so much snow one year we were able to sled down the pile at the end of the driveway.

i follow via gfc, twitter, and facebook

brn2shop9 at gmail dot com

Anonymous said...

My favorite memory is driving around looking at Christmas lights and drinking hot chocolate!

I'm a follower of your blog.



Shannon said...

I would love, love, love to win this book. My email is


Shannon said...

I follow this blog now!


Shannon said...

I asked to join your group on facebook!


Shannon said...

I blogged about your giveaway even though I don't want anyone else to know about it because that increases my chances of winning this great book! :) Just joking!


Len Lambert said...

Hi Chick Lit Central! Thanks for sounds to be a good book! :)

I'm already a member of Chick Lit Central on FB. I've shared this on my wall.

My favourite Christmas memory - the checking of stuffed stockings on Christmas mornings!!! I loved the feel of the sweets and surprise treats inside the stockings...and we always used my Dad's socks! In those days there wasn't any fancy decorative stockings yet which are available now :)

Jeryl M. said...

I would like to read this book.

Jeryl M. said...

My favorite childhood holiday memory is picking up all our wrapped presents and shaking them around and trying to guess what they were before we opened them by the way they shook or the size of the package.

I am a Facebook follower.

I am a subscriber.

Nancye said...

My favorite childhood winter memory was from when I was about 8 years old. We had about 2 feet of snow which is very uncommon for Kentucky. We played for hours and have to be frced to come inside. Our "igloos" were So cool!

nancyecdavis AT bellsouth DOT net