Tag Archives: Christmas

What books did you get for Christmas?

Another Christmas is past and the clean-up has begun.  Where do we put all these new things? Another incentive to purge and declutter?

This year I received a variety of books from several of my loved family and friends. Here is a  picture (poor quality – sorry!):

Books I got for Christmas '15.1

 

 

 

 

You know I love books. :) 

Close ups:

Books I got for Christmas '15.5

 

 

 

 

Books I got for Christmas '15.3

 

 

 

 

 

Books I got for Christmas '15.4

 

 

 

 

Books I got for Christmas '15.2

 

 

 

 

You can see (I hope, despite the dark views) I received the following:

  • two adult colouring books with markers and coloured pencils. Have you tried colouring again now you may not be a child anymore?
  • a drawing instruction book. Do you love to draw?
  • a writers’ book. Do you doubt yourself or push on through?
  • a novel. Have you read any of Ken Follett’s series? If so, which is your favourite? or what are you reading?
  • a daily devotional and two different types of journals – one for notes of gratitude, one for recording of blessings. Do you refer to any kind of inspirational reading/writing?

These books remind me I am a creative – in a couple of ways. I also love to read so must read more. I have to get writing more, too, including from my Christian perspective.  Yes, 2016 is going to be a different kind of year for me, and I already have my word for 2016 which I’ll share in the new year.🙂

Now, I’m eager to know: What books did you get for Christmas … or during the season, however you celebrate it?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂

 

Sue Harrison’s “Writing the Third Dimension”, part 35: Fare Thee Well

Welcome back for the final installment of Sue Harrison’s writers’ workshop: Writing The Third Dimension. We invite you to return here anytime to read and learn from the fabulous thirty-five segments from January 2013-December 2015.  (There was no post for WTTD in December 2013.) Simply click on the page title WRITING THE THIRD DIMENSION, found under Writers’ Quotes, Helps & Workshops on my drop-down menu. Please feel free to ask questions and leave comments for Sue. I’ll be sure to let her know when you do so she can reply. We both love hearing from you.

Now for the topic for month thirty-five:

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“Writing the Third Dimension” – part 35: Fare Thee Well

When I began writing these posts for Polilla Writes, I thought I would have enough material for about a year, maybe a year and a half. It turns out that I’m much more verbose than I ever dreamed! However, the time has come for me to conclude the “Writing The Third Dimension” series. What a joyous privilege has been mine to write these posts, get to know all of you, and to learn so much from all of you!

This is not good-bye. I’ll be back, commenting on the wonderful posts Lynn, “Polilla,” shares with us all, and from time to time, I’ll drop in with a post about books — mine and those of others.

In this, my closing segment, I thought perhaps you might like to read the second chapter of the novel I’ve been writing during the time I was also writing for Polilla Writes. Sharing stories is one of the great joys of my life. So here’s another story, at least the beginning of a story. I hope you enjoy it!

[Note from Lynn: Please note, the shared segment is COPYRIGHTED, no copying by any method allowed. Thank you.]

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BONE FIRE, A Novel of Ancient Europe

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Chapter Two

Awna the Woman

The-Month-of-Dying-Sun

(November)

5814 B.C.

 

The earth was frozen less than a hand-length down, so Awna needed only half a morning to chop away the soil and the tree roots to carve out the old man’s grave.

Under the oak trees that spread their autumn-broken leaves against the sky, she used the wide, flat blade of her digging stone to pry up pads of moss. Webbed with the night’s meager snowfall, the moss carried the heavy scent of rich, wet earth, a smell the old man had loved, so Awna layered it as a bed at the bottom of his grave. The size of an eight-winter child, that old man, smaller even than Awna, but she was strong from the years she had spent as his slave, carrying his packs. She easily pulled his body to the hole, her fingers cupped gently over his brittle bones. She lowered him in, feet first, and, when he was lying in the grave, she crouched on the edge as if she might slide down and claim space for herself.

“So Rolf, finally I am free. You could have waited until spring. It would have been easier.”

At least he had died quickly, his hands suddenly fisted against his chest, his teeth clenched, his breath pulsing out in one long hiss. She should not have told him. What was there about that crooked old man that so easily coaxed out the truth even when it was best forgotten?

Sunlight, shredded by the canopy of oaks, cast splintered shadows over Rolf’s pile of trade goods. Perhaps all those things were hers now, being who she was. Perhaps they were not, considering what she had done.

She did not care much about the shell necklaces, the birdbone needles, the small flint darts, the arrowheads, not even the oval bracelets cut in one piece from pearled edges of sea-clam shells. The bags of dried and pounded pot clay? She could dig up more.

Most of all, she wanted his thick fox-pelt blanket. Once, in the summer, when some bird spit a fever into Awna’s head, Rolf had wrapped her in that blanket, and the cool, soft fur chased out her blighted dreams, lured her back into the real and living world.

So what could she take and what should she bury? Would the old man come back to curse her if she did not give him enough?  He needed gifts for his ancestors.

Of course, she would not bury the hand-sized flakes of salt sewn into their deerskin packets. If she buried the salt, the earth would leech it away from Rolf’s grave. Perhaps then it would poison the guarding oaks. Why put herself into the middle of that fierce battle?

Always, always, though, that salt had been dearer to him than Awna could ever be, except during the one moment which had killed him.

She gave first what was easiest to give, the flute Rolf had made from the hollow wing bone of a vulture. Rolf had drilled five finger holes into the vulture bone and given it a strange fishlike mouth – pike, not carp — that somehow caught his breath and turned it into the low trembling melodies that only Rolf knew how to make.

She lay flat on her belly at one side of the grave and leaned down, slid that flute into his clutched hands. Some contrary part of her spirit wished for one more night song, firelight dancing. That wish made her eyes burn, so she stood and shook herself loose of the memories. Then she untied her grass cloak, swung it away from her shoulders. She had cut the grass for the cloak and dried it, then stitched it length over length until it hung long enough to reach her ankles. It shed water far better than fox fur ever could. She dropped the cloak into the grave, watched it settle in stiff folds over his beautiful fine-boned face, over his thin crooked legs and large clever hands.

“For you, Rolf, a trade.”

Awna held his fox-pelt blanket close to her mouth, blew into the fur to make it hers. Then, except for the salt, she divided all things between them, gave him half the blades, half the dried meat, half the smoked fish, half the beads and bracelets, half the pot clay, even half of her furred suslik skins, although she herself had caught those tricky ground squirrels, and she herself scraped away the flesh, stretched the small pelts on greenstick hoops, and knuckled soft fat into each flensed side.

When Rolf’s share lay with him in the grave, Awna pushed the forest’s thick, dark dirt over top until the hole was full. She layered leaf mold over the dirt then searched out what stones she could find, those rocks carried high into the forest by the Mother River, one year or another, as that river bucked herself free of winter ice. Awna piled the rocks over the grave so no digging animal could get to the old man.

She brushed the soil from her deerskin tunic and from her leggings. She licked the dirt’s dark stain from the palms of her hands. Would the old man follow her, his spirit given breath by longing? She had buried him so far from his home, traveling as they had been on their last trade journey before winter. Surely he would be restless, even under the comfort of the oaks. She cupped her hands over her belly. Would he try to take her baby now living there?

As small as the cap of an acorn, that baby, as the stem of a cap.

Perhaps Léleks would try to steal it, since she had lost the old man’s protection. Those deadly Léleks, twisted spirits, offspring of lost curses.

The wind sent its edged breath deep into her lungs, making her cough. Winter. Too close.

Always, since her mother sold her, Awna had only followed. How does a follower learn to walk her own path?

She leaned close to the grave, spoke loudly so Rolf could hear her through the stone and earth. “So what should we do, this baby and me? We cannot live outside in winter. Would you let me return to your house and use it as my own?”

A long journey that would be, but better than spending winter’s hard, cold days alone in an oak forest.

As if Rolf had traveled back to answer her, underbrush snapped and voices came from just beyond the stand of oaks. Awna crouched low and small, raked her fingers through her hair until the dark curls fell forward to cover her face. Her breath squeezed in so shallow that her acorn-baby lifted a thin cry of protest from her belly. But as she peeked through her hair, she saw those noisy ones walk into the oak clearing and realized they were just ordinary men.

Dark of hair and eyes they were, as are all people. Two carried a dead boar, hung by its legs from a sapling they balanced on their shoulders, an old boar, blood dripping black from age-stained tusks. The third man, although muscled thick in his arms and shoulders, carried nothing but throwing-spears, cradling them as if he were a woman holding a baby.

The three men stopped and stared at Awna, and the one holding the spears opened his mouth, ready to speak, but said nothing. His hair and beard had grown into a tumble of ringlets; his eyes were large and his ears. He shifted his gaze to the packs jumbled in a heap against the nearest oak. Then he pointed at the grave and asked, “A child?”

Awna pushed her hair back from her face and stood up. “No. He was old.” Why tell them more than that?

The spear-carrier turned and spoke to the others, and he spoke with such a wide swinging rhythm that Awna’s ears were not quick enough to catch all his words. Dried blood marked the men’s faces as if they had used it for paint, and their wide belts bristled with flint-blade knives.

So what was best, she asked herself, to pretend she had people waiting for her? Or should she try to find a place with these three men?

She did not want them to think the old man’s packs were theirs to take, so she walked to the pile and slung the largest on her back. The smaller ones she tied to her belt, and she hung the packets of salt from her shoulders. Slow she was, doing all this, but the men stood and watched. She tied the fox-pelt blanket around her waist. When she had taken all there was to take, she stared down at Rolf’s grave, wondering if she would hear his high, thin voice scolding her for greed, but he said nothing.

Awna pulled in a breath and was sure she could smell the moss of his sunken bed. So how terrible would it be if she and her acorn-baby were killed and left in this good place? They would be safe from winter. Everyone knew the dead did not feel the cold.

She pulled a small chert blade from her belt and cut a few stitches at the top edge of a greased packet, lifted it so the men could see the hand-size flake of salt inside. Then she waited for them to kill her, salt being more precious than any woman’s life could ever be.

The one who carried the spears stepped close and pinched the edge of the salt. He licked his fingers and looked at the other two men, shifting foot to foot under the weight of the dead boar. The salt-taster laughed, a low troubled sound, as if suddenly he had something to worry about.

“Where are you going?” he asked Awna, his words slow enough that she understood.

She pointed east and then south.

He said: “My village is close.”

Of course, their village was close. Men did not carry a dead boar, dripping blood, any great distance. Wolves, dogs, soft-pawed mountain lions would catch the scent. In near-winter, those animals would be glad for the meat, even of an old bitter-flesh boar.

“My village is not close,” she said, trying to match the rhythm of his words. She was a fool to admit she had no protection near, but her back ached and her arms, and she had blistered her hands digging that grave. Inside, she felt so empty that she wondered if her soul had stayed down there with Rolf. Why not give the salt-taster greater reason to kill her? Better to have the pain over soon than waste more time listening to his high-singing words.

Awna breathed in one last smell of moss and earth and oak. She would be a part of it whether these three buried her or simply left her body for whatever animal found it first.  Be strong, she told her acorn-baby, and she tilted back her head, so the man could see the long vein at the side of her neck. “Quickly,” she told him.

He set the butts of the spears on the ground, braced them in the crook of his left arm. He ran his thumb down the length of her pulsing vein, and Awna pulled her thoughts into that warm, dark world where her acorn-baby lived.

The man caught a handful of her hair and tugged gently until she lifted her head to look into his eyes. His voice was little more than a whisper when he said, “My name is Cob. I need a wife.”

copyright, 2015, Sue Harrison

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 So this is not Good-Bye, only Fare Thee Well, and Thank You

More than Words can ever Say.

Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Hanukkah!

Strength to your pen!

Sue

*Writing the Third Dimension, copyright, 2010 Sue Harrison*

Sue HarrisonBestselling author, Sue Harrison, has written two bestselling Alaska trilogies: The Ivory Carver Trilogy and The Storyteller Trilogy – all of which went digital in May 2013. She also wrote a middle readers’ book SISU. Prior to the publication of her novels, Harrison was employed at Lake Superior State University as a writer and acting director of the Public Relations Department and as an adjunct instructor in creative writing and advanced creative writing. For more information, click here. To inquire about booking Sue for workshops or speaking engagements this year, click here.

Thanks for joining us! Please feel free to leave your questions and comments. Sue has generously shared her knowledge and expertise with us for free all these months. This has been a tremendous gift, one for which I am very grateful. If you want to let Sue know what this has meant to you, if her teaching has benefited you in any way, I’m sure she would be thrilled to hear about it.

Thank you, Sue, so very much. I look forward to receiving posts from you when you have something to share with us. 

 

 

A Christmas surprise!

It seems I am hardly at my computer these days, which is very unusual for me, so I have not been posting on my usual schedule. I can peek at my blog on my iPad, but doing much more than responding to comments is limited because my frustration level is quite high. The iPad just won’t cooperate!

Some positive things as this year reaches its close …

  • my sprained foot is healing so is much better now, still a little sore and I have to be careful yet, but it’s much improved;
  • my depression has lessened, and I am getting a B12 shot every three weeks to help with that;
  • I’ve started trying my hand at sketching again. So far I can’t say my efforts are anything to brag about but I might follow the advice of an illustrator I ‘met’ through PiBoIdMo and post my drawings on my blog – eventually … if it’s not too embarrassing;
  • I have many more story starters to work on, and I found that participating in Susanna Hill’s challenge was quite inspiring even though my story wasn’t chosen. Now to keep writing (I really need to develop a writing habit that helps with that);
  • I still have many books to read, several to review but I’ve decided to cut back on accepting books to review and may mostly write about the books I read of my own choosing as I have so very many in my stash find it hard to keep up with everything;
  • I have so very many delicious tempting interesting (or all those descriptions!) books in my stash to read for my own enjoyment and I can hardly wait. Oh, I sort of said that already.
  • We had the most wonderful Christmas surprise!

Our Christmas surprise …

Christmas week was my sister’s turn at Dad’s, but my husband and I stayed overnight Christmas Eve so she could go home to her own family for that night and Christmas morning. When she returned we went home and got the rest of our Christmas preparations finished, including cooking the veggies we were contributing to the dinner later in the day. Back at Dad’s I told someone I had a really good feeling about it this year, more peace and contentment, but I didn’t know why.

Twelve of us shared the main meal – which was exceptionally delicious this year – then two more of our family arrived which meant we could move into the next phase of our day … the gifts. We all were making our way to the living-room for that fun when behind me a voice said, “Is anyone going to feed me or do I have to get it myself?” I spun around and there stood our daughter who lives in Alberta!! She had come home to surprise us, and had told no one she was coming. What a fantastic surprise that was! It was so great having her join us, especially since the last six Christmases she has not been able to get home. We expected to FaceTime with her later, but this was MUCH better.🙂 Hug break!! Well, after I let go of her.

After gifts exchanged with Dad and my sister and her family some of us enjoyed a variety of desserts. We learned a few years ago that it was more sensible to leave the dessert until after we’d been away from the table awhile.🙂 After a major clean-up so it wasn’t all left to my sister to do alone, my husband and I and our girls and families headed to our place where we exchanged gifts – (I was thrilled when my daughters gave me a family ring with their birthstones and names on it) – and spent such a pleasant evening. All my family home for Christmas! Yay!  You can be sure I’ve been thanking the Lord for that. 🙂

Okay, now it’s your turn. What special thing happened for you this Christmas? What positive things do you have to share about (Please do!) as the end of 2014 nears?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂

My story entry in Susanna Hill’s 4th Annual Holiday Contest

Yesterday I found out that Susanna Hill is hosting her 4th Annual Holiday Contest right now. The challenge is to write a story for children in no more than 350 words, the theme being wild weather that impacts the holidays in some way. I decided to give it a try, so this is my first attempt. Next I have to link back to Susanna’s blog so my story can be connected to the contest, and then the entries are narrowed down to a few finalists whose stories are posted next Monday or Tuesday (Dec. 15 or 16). Those stories are then voted on by anyone wanting to read them. I hope you will go to Susanna’s blog and add your vote, even if it isn’t for my story. You have from Dec. 15 or 16 till Dec. 18 at 5 PM EST to VOTE.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings!  :)

Now, here’s my story in 349 words.

 Blizzard Blessings

Suzie frowned out the window, her chin resting on her hands. It was Christmas Eve day and it was snowing – a lot! “Daddy, can’t we go to the pet store anyway?”

“I’m sorry, Suzie; there’s too much snow. The wind is blowing so hard we could get stuck in a snowdrift and not get back home tonight. Remember, you have to be in bed for Santa to come.”

Suzie pouted. “But you said for Christmas I could get a pet to live in the cage I found in the attic. I have it all ready!”

“Pouting won’t make the blizzard go away, Suzie. You have to wait until after Christmas now,” Daddy said. “How about we stay safe inside and read the Christmas story together?”

In the meantime, at the North Pole the elves were helping Santa load his sleigh. Soon he would be on his way, bringing gifts to all the girls and boys while they slept.

Santa picked up his warm red hat to wear that stormy night. When he gave it a shake out dropped a sleepy, little white mouse. “Sylvester! Ho! Ho! Ho! You can’t live in my cozy hat,” said Santa.

The little mouse sadly scurried away. Every time he found a nice place to live he was told “No!” – not in the dollhouse, not in the red fire engine, not in the drum set, not even in Santa’s hat. Where could he go?

That night Santa climbed into his sleigh. “Ho! Ho! Ho! What blustery weather for old Santa!”

Everyone was sound asleep when Santa landed his sleigh at Suzie’s house. He reached into his pack. “What’s this!” He pulled out a little white mouse. “Ho! Ho! Ho! Sylvester mouse! You can’t live in my pack, and it’s too stormy for you outside.” He looked around. “Look here! I see just the place for you. Merry Christmas, Sylvester.” Sylvester’s whiskers twitched from excitement.

Christmas morning Suzie squealed, “Daddy! Daddy! Look what Santa brought me!”

Under the Christmas tree, in the old cage from the attic, sat a happy little white mouse.

PiBoIdMo has ended – my update

Today is the first day of December … already!! Where did the time go? Yikes! And I love that it’s snowing on my blog. :)  (Thanks, Word Press!)

Soon it will be Christmas Day; I have a lot to do at home and at Dad’s to even feel ready for this special time of year, but I have begun – with help. I appreciate the beauty of this season (not the intense cold that comes with it) and especially the true meaning of Christmas.

The writerly news is …

PiBoIdMo ended at midnight November 30 …

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Just at the last moment I came up with the cutest title which has me thinking of a story to go with it. The great news is I completed PiBoIdMo with a win. The goal was to have 30 ideas, be they ever so small or detailed, and I got almost 50. YAY!

vinvogel_piboldmo_winnerPicture Book Idea Month is truly helpful when one is pursuing creative writing goals. Now Tara Lazar has begun a week of Post-PiBo posts which are a fantastic way to end this month-long event. She is genius in her contribution to the world of writing for children, and I’ve been very encouraged along the way – thanks to her.

The next fun part is after all this ends Tara has the task of giving out prizes to those of us who completed the challenge. Of course, with so many of us signed on not everyone will win a prize, but we are all winners if we participated in this event and took in what all the authors, illustrators and agents shared with us. It’s been an especially good PiBoIdMo for me at a time when I really needed to put my mind on creative things.

Did you take part in PiBoIdMo; if so how did you do? OR … Do you have any other successes to share, or goals you wish to achieve?

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 

Book Review: Cowboy Christmas by Rob Sanders

Cowboy Christmas by Rob Sanders
Book: Cowboy Christmas
Author: Rob Sanders
Illustrator: John Manders
Publisher: Golden Books-Random House
Date: September 11, 2012
Genre: picture book
Pages: 32
Price: $11.49 or less, in both hardcover and Kindle
My rating: A funny and colourful book that is enjoyable to read
 
 

 

I bought this book – Cowboy Christmas by Rob Sanders – as a Christmas gift for my grandson and borrowed it from him to review. He said he likes the book, and then enjoyed reading it to me.

Even though it currently is not in season, Cowboy Christmas is well worth the read anytime. Rob Sanders is expert with words, using some that will broaden a child’s vocabulary while enhancing the story. He has written such a cute twist on the idea of preparing for Christmas when things are not the same as one is used to having available.

Three days before Christmas four cowboys are in the desert – three are taking care of a herd of longhorn cattle and the fourth is the fatherly cook. The three worry that “Santy” won’t find them way out in the desert. They individually lament over being without a Christmas tree with decorations, yummy Christmas cookies to eat, and horses to dress up as reindeer to hitch to a wagon. Cookie (the cook) quietly convinces each that they can do that, and each makes the attempt – with hilarious results. For example, did you ever see a cactus Christmas tree with cans of corn hanging from it in lieu of popcorn? Rob Sanders wrote: Dub corralled cans of corn. “No corn popper,” he explained.

The surprise ending (for the young reader) is satisfying and yet leaves the reader imagining what is coming next beyond the end of the story. The illustrations by John Manders are colourful, funny, and well-matched to the story, adding great visuals to the descriptive words. 

Visit Rob Sanders’ very informative website (www.robsanderswrites.com) and check out the trailer for Cowboy Christmas, a book you may want to buy now for a young reader for Christmas – or anytime.

You can find Cowboy Christmas listed on my BUY THE BOOK! page.

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂

Merry Christmas!

It’s minutes before the clock ticks into CHRISTMAS DAY!

Before that happens, I want to let you know that my husband’s surgery went well on the 18th, although it was a difficult post-surgery time for him. He is gaining strength and stamina each day. We are now waiting for his next appointment, December 28, when the bandages come off.  We don’t know if the test results will be available that day or if we’ll have to wait for a call from his local medical doctor sometime within the next two weeks.  He feels the results will be negative, but there is that little ‘what if’ in there.

On a lighter note, we are enjoying my week home while getting ready to celebrate Christmas with our family. Perhaps we can even “face time” with our daughter in Alberta.

Now I’ll end this short note with best wishes to YOU.

MERRY CHRISTMAS, my friends! May you find blessings of joy and peace this holiday season. For my Christian readers, may you rejoice in the Lord Jesus Christ, our Hope and Salvation!

Thanks for reading, and … Creative Musings! 🙂