Winter Blogfest: J. S. Marlo

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This post is part of Long and Short Reviews’ Winter Blogfest. Leave a comment for a chance to win a digital copy of The Red Quilt TWO winners will be picked at random among the readers who visit and leave a comment on my post.

Santa’s Reindeer

‘Male reindeers lose their antlers in winter and females don’t, so Santa’s sleigh is actually pulled by a team of women…’

When I saw that quote on Facebook, it caught my attention. First, reindeer, like deer, don’t have an “s” in their plural forms. Second, it struck me as odd that the females didn’t lose their antlers, so I did some research.

Female reindeer can grow antlers, making them unique in the deer world. However, not all females have antlers since growing them costs lots of energy. In habitats where food is scarce or of poor quality, antlerless females dominate.

The female reindeer use their antlers to dig through the snow in search of food and to defend themselves. Those with the largest antlers tend to be socially dominant and in the best overall physical condition, but they still shed their antlers every year. Unlike male reindeer who lose them late autumn after the rut, female reindeer retain their antlers until spring because access to food is critical during their winter pregnancy.

Does that mean female reindeer are pulling Santa’s sleigh?  Not necessarily. Most of the reindeer used to pull sleds are castrated males because they are easier to handle than “full” males. Castrated reindeer have antler cycles similar to those of the females, only losing them in the spring.

Conclusion: Santa’s reindeer are either female or castrated male. 

Other interesting facts:

– There are more than 15 subspecies of reindeer, some of which are extinct. 
– Reindeer are domesticated or semi-domesticated caribou.
– They live primarily in the Arctic, where winter is drastically colder and darker than summer.
– Their hooves are soft during warmer months, but in winter, they become hard and sharp for breaking through the ice to forage vegetation.
– To adapt to seasonal changes in light levels, the part of their eye behind the iris changes color from gold in the summer to blue in the winter.
– They travel up to 3,000 miles and swim long distances.
– They have two layers of hair to keep warm: a dense woolly undercoat, and a top layer of hollow air-filled hairs which float. Their hair have been used to fill life jackets.


In my newest story, a Christmas mystery titled “The Red Quilt”, Grandpa Eli is marooned on a potato farm with his five-year-old granddaughter. On Christmas Eve, Eli ventures outside to draw reindeer hoof prints in the snow. Here’s an excerpt:

The two forward toes made prints resembling curly teardrops with the tip pointing ahead, toward the carrot underneath the branch. He added a dot behind each teardrop design to account for the two back toes.

A vehicle turning into Lana’s driveway diverted his attention from the second print he was drawing. When blue and red lights began to flash, Eli dropped the carrot and the branch, and raised his hands as he straightened to his full height beside the bush.

The door of the patrol car opened and a silhouette stood behind it. “Mr. Sterling?”

“Yes.” The female voice jogged his memory. “Fancy meeting you here tonight, Constable Davidson. May I lower my arms?”

“Yes, please. I didn’t mean to scare you.” The lights stopped flashing, but the door remained opened as she walked toward him. “The lights were on so I thought you might be up, but then I saw someone hunched by the bush, so I overreacted.”

“I’d rather you overreact than ignore a suspicious guy making reindeer hoof prints in the snow in the wee hours of the morning,” he teased.

A smile enlivened her face as she shone the beam of her flashlight in the snow. “It’s small for a reindeer, but otherwise, it’s pretty accurate.”

Stumped by the remark, he squatted the snow. “What do you mean by small? Do you masquerade as a biologist in your spare time?”

Her laughter rose in the crisp air. “No, but I have an older sister who’s a conservation officer in the north. She spent years following the caribou herd’s migration. I know more about caribou than I ever wanted to know. For accuracy’s sake, you want them to be about four inches long.”


Happy Holiday 2021!

J. S. Marlo

A last-minute Christmas trip goes horribly wrong for Eli and his five-year-old granddaughter, Ruby. On their way to a Bed and Breakfast on Prince Edward Island after a kitchen fire forced them out of their house, they get caught in a blizzard and end up in the ditch.

Retired Military Nurse, Lana, lives on a potato farm with the ghosts of her husband and son. She welcomes into her home the marooned Eli and the young child he raises alone. The storm outside rages on and problems arise as Eli faces the demons and mistakes of his past, Lana becomes entangled in her neighbors’ illegal activities, and Ruby wishes for something Santa cannot give her.

The resulting mix offers hope for a second chance even as it threatens their lives. Can Eli and Lana survive another storm to enjoy the love growing between them? And will Ruby’s wish be granted?

JS Marlo spent her childhood in a small French Canadian town, reading and daydreaming stories. One day, she met her hero, a dashing young officer, and followed him back and forth across the country.

The “memorable” adventures she experienced with her young family fueled her imagination and kindled the dream of one day becoming a published author. When her three spirited children left the nest in pursuit of their own adventures, she gave writing a chance.

JS lives in northern Alberta with her hubby, and when she’s not visiting her children or spoiling her gorgeous little granddaughter, she’s working on her next novel under the northern lights.

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