The Best Present Ever

Upcoming book appearances

Sat. Dec. 9 Grant Christmas Tree Farm

Friday, Dec. 15 2-5 pm Thrifty Way-DeRidder

Saturday, Dec. 16  8-noon  Nichol’s DeQuincy


Learn more about Christmas Jelly and our other twelve books at

The Best Present I Ever Received

Chapter 7 from Christmas Jelly by Curt Iles


It seemed to be a sorry excuse of a Christmas present ever as I unwrapped it.

I now value it as the best I’ve received.

It was Christmas 1973. I was a seventeen-year-old high school senior.

The present was from my Uncle Bill.

Always my favorite uncle.

He still is.

I held the cheap brown booklet in my hand, wondering what it was.

I flipped it open. It was a blank journal.

There was a handwritten note to me.

Encouraging me to write about my life.

Here’s a portion of what he wrote.

Write about the things that turn you on– the things you like, and the things you love. And also write about the pain you see and feel– the things that upset you or disturb you. In writing these things down in this, your little book, you will be discovering parts of yourself that lie deep within, next to the soul of your being . . .

I still have the original note.

It’s still tucked in the journal that now call Journal #1

It’s still the best Christmas present I’ve ever received.

That first journal sits on the shelf next to the eighty-nine I’ve filled since then.

My first journal. Christmas 1973

Thanks Uncle Bill.

Most of all, thanks for always believing in me.

Even when I didn’t believe in myself.

That’s what favorite uncles do.


A copy of Uncle Bill’s Christmas note.

A reader last week requested a complete list of our books as well as series and bundles. Here it is.


The Westport Series   Historical Fiction

As the Crow Flies – the third and final book in the Westport Trilogy (Historical Fiction 2017)

A Good Place  (2009)

The Wayfaring Stranger  (2007)





As the Crow Flies is also available in large print.

Trampled Grass  (2016)   African short stories

Christmas Jelly  (2012)   Christmas short stories with recipes from Dry Creek friends.

 Louisiana Skies Series*    Historical Fiction

Book 1  A Spent Bullet  (2011)*

Uncle Sam: A Horse’s Tale   (2011)  Children’s Companion Book to A Spent Bullet

Earlier Short Story Collections

Deep Roots  (2010)

The Mockingbird’s Song   (2007)  Essays about Depression

Hearts across the Water   (2006)

Wind in the  Pines   (2004)

The Old House  (2002)

Stories from the Creekbank  (2000)

Learn more about ordering each of these books or series here and


*Our next historical novel, (Working Title) 1918: No Man’s Land, will tie together As the Crow Flies and A Spent Bullet.  Then we’ll publish the sequel to A Spent Bullet,  (Working Title) As You Were

So the Louisiana Skies Series will be:

  • 1918: No Man’s Land
  • A Spent Bullet
  • As You Were

A Spent Bullet is my favorite Creekbank novel to date. Its companion book, Uncle Sam: A Horse’s Tale, share the legend of how the Ft Polk wild horses came to be in 1941.

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