Friday, December 30, 2011

Oh Crap...

Shoot.

There are only two more days left in 2011. Two days. Where has the year gone?

I don't feel like I've accomplished much this year.

A few book reviews written and published. A few stories written and rejected. One story published this year.

Barely touched my novel all year. Only in little bits and pieces.

Resurrected 6 year old research for another novel and began to tackle it again, full force. Even did more research. New stuff I never got to do back in 2005 because life just took over and got in the way of writing. And I've even made some progress on the written part of that one.

I have a lot of unfinished stories to complete, a few stories to revisit and probably edit, a lot of book reviews to write, and two novels to work on. Should keep me busy in 2012.

Hope you all accomplished a little bit more than I did.

On the book review note...I will be publishing book reviews on Mondays. One review a week. Unless I happen to get more done, but I think that's reasonable and doable. Until I run out of books to review.

Don't forget, if you have a book you want reviewed, contact me. I'll get it done as soon as I can.

ONLY TWO MORE DAYS! HAPPY 2012.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I redid my website. Check it out.

Still trying to work out the redirection kinks from my domain registrar, but I am much happier with this one than any of the previous I tried to do. And it's super easy. Easy is always good. Gotta add a few more things but for the most part, it's done.

Went to a bridal shower last night. I'm not usually a big fan of showers and the silly games that are played. But I have to admit, I had a lot of fun with the whole toilet paper wedding dress and the who has the most crap in their purse and the clothespin grab (can't say the groom's name or cross your legs). I didn't do well on anything although our toilet paper wedding dress came in second and I never did lose any of my clothespins, and gained one.

And, have you ever seen a cake so amazing?

I left before it was demolished. Just too pretty to eat.

Anyway, all in all. Fun times.

Only a couple days until the end of the year and the start of the New Year.

2012 will be full of great things for everyone. I'm sure of it.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Child woke obscenely early this morning. Apparently a nightmare or something. Woke up screaming and then wouldn't go back to sleep. Too early for me. I plopped her in front of the TV and tried to grab a few more hours of sleep. To little avail. Got a few zzz's here and there but she kept needing something. So of course, it wasn't what I would have liked. My fault I suppose for staying up way too late reading.

So now, coffee in hand, today I'm making an effort to get back to normal. It's not going so well. In my heart I want to write, but my body is telling me otherwise. Telling me, lay down, get some more sleep. But that's not happening either so I am up and now I am writing this post and wondering what the rest of the day will bring.

Would be great to be able to predict the future.

I have a couple of reviews to start working on in my effort to post at least one book review a week. There is plenty of the actual paying work to do. Getting ready for the new year and new writing programs. Also wouldn't be a bad idea to start working on my intro creative writing course I am hopefully teaching starting the end of January. Still time. But we all now how time can get away from us. Before I know it, the course will be upon me and I will have nothing done and I will stress.

That should probably be a New Year resolution. To not stress so much about little things. To be more organized and get more accomplished. We'll see.

Only a few days of 2011 left. How will I make the best of the remainder of the year?

Tell you what I am going to do. I am going to end this post and go work on an important part of my novel that is stewing around in my head. Better to get it done and on the page before it's gone.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Post Christmas Confusion/Chaos

Getting back into the regular and mundane is so bloody hard after the holidays. It's worse than taking a two week vacation in the Bahamas and trying to get back to work.

The house is chaos. Chocolate wrappers, unwrapped Christmas gifts scattered all over the floor, still tucked under the tree. Holiday leftovers overflowing from the fridge, it won't all fit you know. A stead non-stop vibration of the dishwasher trying to play catch up just as much as me. And the family glued to the newest most exciting gift of the season.

For hubby it's his new laptop. For daughter, it's our OLD laptop. Funny when you realize you really didn't have to give the child anything. Just give her the old hand me down and she's happy as can be.

For me, I don't know what it is for me. I got some great gifts, but I really wanna do is get back to writing but the motivation is still skirting somewhere along the fringe of normal life and post Christmas laziness.

The problem with the Christmas season, I think, is the few days you are supposed to get back to work, get back to normal, and then WHAM! in the middle of it all, another fricking holiday. A holiday by the way, that is just no good for us old people. I can't party and drink like I used to. With each passing New Year, it's a constant reminder of just how old I'm getting.

I know, I know. Many will say, you're not even 40. And they're right. But I am too old to stay up partying and trying to deal with the hangover the following day. It's just not how it used to be.

Anyway, I am getting quite a selection of books for review for 2012. Still accepting more, so send them my way. Need all the motivation I can get to get back to the daily grind.

Happy New Year, peeps. Hope you're getting over your post-Christmas chaos.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Old Nick to Krampus

By Verna Bewick

A response came in from Old Nick to Krampus.
Beware, this is not the Santa we know and love.

Merry Christmas!

Krampus,
You were not my love, nor my first “wife,” and you should not have written that letter. Mrs. Claus is the woman who showed me the way; she’s the one who taught me that all is not lost, that redemption is always possible. People look at me now with adoration, not the fear and loathing that I received while with you. They still leave gifts by their hearth, but out of love and welcoming, not fear. The fear is gone. They even leave their precious babes asleep alone upstairs. I cannot belong to you. I belong in this world now.

I do remember those nights on the sleigh, but over the centuries, it became tiresome. I could no longer stand the hatred borne upon me by the children’s families. They were naughty, but Mrs. Claus has shown me that there is goodness in each of us, especially the children and even me.

Do you still have the big, black kettle hanging in the fireplace? I remember the sweet taste of stew made from potatoes, turnips and the flesh of bad little boys and girls. But I am no longer that person. I don’t even eat reindeer meat.

I must admit, I do think of those nights, locked away together while the year passed.  What I remember most is the sour sting of our sweat and soot upon my tongue, and the smell of copper. To this day, I always keep pennies in my change pocket and sometimes even slip one into my mouth. That was another world with you, another time. The world has moved on.

I went on the run last night. It is long and tiresome, but I know I spread joy. You recall the little people who inhabited this land long before we ever arrived? The ones we hunted mercilessly in those early years? Now, they live in our village, caring for the reindeer and maintaining the sled. The sled no longer has bone runners, but is instead made of hickory – the very same wood that goes into our baseball bats and doll houses. 

I did get fat. And are you still the serpentine creature that I knew so intimately for centuries on end? I can still feel the slip and slide of our bloody bodies against each other. I really didn’t mean to bite off your toe that time I was licking your feet, but it did make me want to suck even more. I’ve never had a more delicious orgasm.

Krampus, remember when they feared us? When they hid in cellars and prayed we wouldn’t come. Now they throw tantrums to get X-Boxes and I-Pods. Whatever happened to little tin horns and little toy drums? Not only do they request, but they expect. Due to “self-esteem,” I am not allowed to drop coal into stockings. The missus thinks I should take each year as it comes. She says it’s only a parenting phase and will soon end.

The children need to learn respect.

She loves me, Krampus, in spite of the babies that I ate, in spite of the horrible “accidents” that we always manifested near Christmas Day – the candle lit trees that happened to catch fire and sleds with loose runners. Mrs. Claus has shown me the Christ, and he is love, just like her. I cannot leave her. I cannot let her down.

But then, that leaves you in that hole with no one. Does the fire stay stoked? Are you lonely 364 days of the year? Have you found another?

Mrs. Claus has her God, her Jesus, and her elfin friends, but you are all alone.

Is a cat wrong for killing a mouse or a bird when it is only in the cat’s nature to hunt? Oh Krampus, you should never have written me. You should have left me behind that wall. I fear you, the temptation of you. I fear


~~~ 


I have killed the reindeer. Krampus, I am alive! I have ripped my fangs into their soft flesh, looking in their eyes and knowing they see the terrible knowledge that it’s Santa’s talons holding them down. The ermine on my coat is dripping and I’ve thrown the pennies into the snow. I can see my toes again, and the old member, disused these many years, is ready for action.

Mrs. Claus is singing softly to one of the newborns. You will have your Christmas wish in spades, my love, and once again we will take back the night.

I can hardly wait for next year.

Yours forever more,

Old Nick

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Thank you for visiting Writing on the Wall. That's true dedication and I love you for it. However, it's Christmas Day so I am kinda busy, as you should be, too.

We have probably already opened our gifts, the child is probably hopped up on all the chocolate she can muster, the hubby is probably sprawled on the couch, drinking beer and watching the tube, with my brother. Though the bro is quite possibly playing with his neice. And me, well I am probably slaving in the kitchen with my Mom, preparing all the fixings for a holiday feast. And drinking wine. With any luck, maybe I am passed out drunk on the floor and my Mom is cooking, but I doubt it. Maybe I'm close. If not, there is still hope for the rest of the evening.

Wishing you all the very best this holiday season.

Come back tomorrow. I promise to have something worth checking out.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Magic of the Holidays

Santa's warming up his sleigh and exercising the reindeers. All in preparation for tonights extensive and speedy journey. I hear Rudolph has a bit of a cold so his nose is especially shiny tonight. So if you find dirty tissues in the morning, it wasn't Grandma leaving her snotty rags inside the chair cushions. It was just because Santa's sleigh has no room and he needed to find someplace to stash them.

Anyway, tonight is the night little kiddies. So go to bed early. No fight, no fuss, for tomorrow the magic begins. The magic of family.

Eat lots, enjoy the true spirit of the holidays. Treasure it more than that new Barbie house or that video game you've been longing for because what you're going to remember ten or twenty years from now is not what gift you got, but the togetherness.

The food.

The holiday squabbles with Uncle Mortimer and Cousin Timmy, the one with the black mohawk and the bone through his nose.

The love.

The Night Before Christmas




'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar-plums danced in their heads;

And mamma in her 'kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled down for a long winter's nap,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow
Gave the lustre of mid-day to objects below,

When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But a miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,

With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
I knew in a moment it must be St. Nick.

More rapid than eagles his coursers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name;

"Now, Dasher! now, Dancer! now, Prancer and Vixen!
On, Comet! on Cupid! on, Donder and Blitzen!

To the top of the porch! to the top of the wall!
Now dash away! dash away! dash away all!"

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky,

So up to the house-top the coursers they flew,
With the sleigh full of toys, and St. Nicholas too.

And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof
The prancing and pawing of each little hoof.

As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Down the chimney St. Nicholas came with a bound.

He was dressed all in fur, from his head to his foot,
And his clothes were all tarnished with ashes and soot;

A bundle of toys he had flung on his back,
And he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.

His eyes -- how they twinkled! his dimples how merry!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!

His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath;

He had a broad face and a little round belly,
That shook, when he laughed like a bowlful of jelly.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And I laughed when I saw him, in spite of myself;

A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread;

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the stockings; then turned with a jerk,

And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose;

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.

But I heard him exclaim, ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good-night."





Thursday, December 22, 2011

I, You, He/She

The right point of view (POV) in a story can make or break it. Sometimes it takes awhile to play with it, try different things before you find the right fit, like searching for that perfect pair of shoes. If you don't get just the right fit your feet will hurt and you'll get blisters. But sometimes, all it takes is a little breaking in.

When reading a story, personally, I am a huge fan of 1st person POV. That is, a story told using I, me. I walked to the store and got hit by the car. I'm not sure why I like it so much. Maybe it's because I feel more a part of the story this way and get a real close and personal look into the mind of the protagonist.

When I write, I often write from the 1st person POV but also feel quite comfortable writing from the 3rd person POV. So instead of me getting hit by the car, she walked to the store and got hit by the car. (Thank God. Better her than me. I don't deal well with pain or near death experiences.) This is somewhat easier when telling a story with more than one important character.

Tucked in with 3rd person are two other alternatives. Limited 3rd person or omniscient. Limited only means you're still in only one characters head, your protagonist. But still told in he or she. Omniscient is different because the narrator is not actually in the story at all. It's kind of like a fly on the wall kind of thing, where the narrator can see and hear everything, and if he's really good he can also read minds, but it's not that common and for me, it's really hard to read. I can't even think of a story told from that point of view.

Then there is the 2nd person POV. That is a story told using you. You walked to the store and got hit by the car. It's not a common POV I think because it's difficult to write. If you don't do it properly, it can sound very close to first person and can easily confuse the reader. Or in a lot of cases, piss off the reader, because it's like the writer is talking directly to the reader and telling them what they did or what they are going to do or what they are doing. (No one likes to be told what to do.) But when it's done right, it can be an incredibly powerful tool. Especially for emotional situations that are hard to write about. For me, I find the 2nd person tends to slow down the tone of a story. It makes the reader, in this case me, really pay attention to what's going on because it's got to be something important if the writer chose to tell the story that way.

Choosing a POV can come down to preference in the writer. Or can be based on the protagonist. Maybe your main character has some really interesting quirks and thoughts, and an undeniably intriguing voice so the only possible way to tell it is from his POV. First person.

Maybe you're writing a story about a really difficult topic. Maybe it's a true story about something that happened to you, or loosely based on something that happened to you. And in that case, third person helps the writer create a distance between themselves and the story.

The same can be said for 2nd person. It creates somewhat of a distance. The writing is putting the bad thing that happened onto someone else. Or good thing, but more often than not, I think it's bad or sad. Evokes more emotion that way.  I just recently started reading, Kalila, by Rosemary Nixon. The story is told from multiple points of view from multiple characters. But it's the 2nd person POV that really draws me in for some reason. And it's beautifully written. And it's on a really difficult topic. A sick newborn baby and the parents dealing with it each in their own way.

Long ago I tried writing in 2nd person and found it limiting and difficult to maintain. But I also don't think I was doing it right. So I stuck with what I knew. What I was comfortable with. That is, until recently.

I was once again on Twitter, and came across a tweet from Sarah Selecky, doling out writing prompts. One of them really struck me. It was, write a story titled The Way to Amsterdam. Yes, I was drawn in simply because the only European country I've spent much time is the Netherlands and that's where my hubby is from. And, I really liked the title.

So I took the challenge and started a story called, The Way to Amsterdam. And what do you know, but much to my surprise, the story automatically started coming out in 2nd person. I didn't plan it that way. It just happened. (Sometimes you just have to go with what feels right.) And even though I still don't quite know what the story is about, I can feel something coming. Something unexplainable, something sinister (maybe) something emotional and raw. Perhaps even bone chilling. And that's not how I usually write. But heck, there's nothing wrong with stepping out of your comfort zone now and again.

Anyway, the point is, I am trying it again and I like it. In this one instance. I really like it. And who knows, maybe I will end up doing it well.

Ultimately, my only recommendation would be, to stick with what feels right. If you're unsure. Try it multiple ways. A recent exercise I did with my critique group was quite eye-opening. We took the first paragraph of a story (that someone else wrote) and changed the POV. Rewrote it, to see how it sounded. The big thing I learned was that a simple POV change can alter the tone of the story significantly. For the better. Sometimes for the worse.

But if a change makes it worse, you know your initial choice was the right one.

So go with it.

Maybe I will share The Way to Amsterdam when I am done with it.

Happy writing and happy holidays and all that fun stuff.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

LOST SIMILES

Last seen back in October or November. Sure I used them, just can't remember where I put them. If you find them, please let me know cause I just can't survive without them. Without similes, and good ones, all I'm left with are cliches. Bad, bad, evil cliches.

Dead as a doornail. Soft as a baby's bum. Quiet as a mouse. Dry as the desert. Dirty as a pig. Party like there's no tomorrow.

Ack. Kill me now.

Please, please. If you find my similes, I would be forever grateful.


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

So Close, Yet So Very Far

Speaking of rejections...

I've been sending out a story all year that has been rejected time and again. Twice early in the year it came close: made the short-list for a contest and another magazine, "decided" not to take it but wanted to hold onto it for a possible later issue. I didn't let them hold on to it. Pulled it a short while later and sent it off to other places where it was subsequently rejected.

The latest one, was a good rejection, if there is such a thing. We writers say "good" when the editors of a specific publication provide positive feedback. It gives insight into just why the story wasn't selected.

In this case, the letter indicated the story had made their short-list but went on to add what was great about it and what was problematic for some of the editors. (I say some because it looks like there was one person who wanted the story to be chosen but the others had problems.) The problem for this one, the ending. Apparently seemed too neat and tidy to be plausible. They also wanted a little more backstory. All things I will look at in the New Year.

Needless to say, rejections aren't all bad and demoralizing and make you want to hide under the table and drink yourself into oblivion, or pound your head against the wall. (However you choose to cope.)

Being short-listed in such a competitive market is a success all on it's own.


On another note: Where did all my page views come from? I go away for a few days and find I've gone up nearly 1000 page views in a week. Not that I'm complaining.

Thank you to everyone who follows my ramblings. It may not always be interesting, there may not always be something new, yet you stick around. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Merry Christmas to everyone!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Surviving Rejection

I recently came across a Twitter post where the tweeter suggested there should be a workshop of sorts called, Surviving Rejection. Kind of a how-to approach to dealing with a writer's worst fear. That someone does not see the vision they worked so hard on.

I've been thinking about this ever since.

How do we survive rejection? Why don't we all just curl up in the fetal position and pray the creativity is stripped from us?

I guess the first question is to ask yourself, why? Why do we do it in the first place? Because we want to tell a story. Because we want to have our voices heard in a way that hasn't been done before. To put your own spin on the world and hopefully, in some way, find meaning.

This begs the question, why do we write for other people? Why not just keep your thoughts closeted in a drawer or stuck safely away in a folder on your hard drive? Why do we want people to notice?

Because we're suckers. We like the pain, because it makes us feel as though we are still doing something. That we have come into our own as a writer. Face it, if we weren't getting rejections, it would mean we weren't submitting anything for the world to see, and in turn, how can we call ourselves writers if we aren't trying? Just because someone sits down and writes a letter to a long lost friend, doesn't mean he's a writer. Just because someone journals everyday to deal with the demons in our past, doesn't mean she's a writer. Or does it?

What does the term writer really mean? A writer is someone who puts pen to paper and creates sentences, and then paragraphs, then stories. Fact or fiction.

I've heard it said, if you want to be a writer you have to write. Seems simple enough. But then the only way to make the world (or your friends) really believe you're a writer, and for you to really believe it, you have to send stuff out. You have to face the rejection all writers face. You have to feel demoralized and doubt your talent.

Doesn't seem fair does it?

So we branch out. We send stuff off in the hopes of getting it published. And then we wait. And we wait and we wait. Our heads create all possible scenarios. They're taking a really long time to get back to me because they are considering it. They lost it. The post office lost it. They stole it. It's been published somewhere under someone else's name.

Oh we can dream up anything. Because we're writers and we have the imagination to do so.

Finally, the email or letter arrives. You're still imagining all possible scenarios. They liked it, they didn't. They want to offer you the biggest advance you could dream of. It's just THAT good. Your heart pounds, you tear into the envelope or double click the email.


Thank you for allowing, (insert publication here) to consider your work. We regret that we are unable to accept it at this time. Although we would like to respond to each submission individually...yada, yada, yada.


The words become a blur. A big black smudge on the screen.

Then you continue to imagine. What was wrong with it? How could they not like it? Why, why, why?
You begin to doubt yourself. I'll never be a writer. Who am I kidding? What a waste of time and energy?

You go to the cupboard and pull down that big bottle of wine you've been saving for a special occasion. Screw it. Gonna get drunk now. (By the way, I really believe that's why there's a close relationship between writers/artists and alcoholism.)

But guess what? It's okay to mourn. It's okay to feel sorry for yourself for awhile. It's okay to question your self-worth.

It's okay.

Anything worth doing isn't easy. There will be obstacles. Rejection is just one of them. The simple fact remains, if after you come out of your drunken delirium you still want to be a writer, you have to keep going. Keep trying. If at first you don't succeed...yeah, yeah. We've all heard it. But it's true.

Many seasoned writers will tell you, the moment you get a rejection, send it out again. And keep sending it out.

I've also heard it said, every rejection brings you that much closer to an acceptance. Some writers have had one story rejected twenty plus times before it was finally accepted.

Listen to your peers. Listen to those who have been doing this for a long time. They know what they're talking about.

You're not a bad writer.

You just haven't gotten enough rejections yet.

Oh and if I were to teach a workshop on this...it would involve a lot of alcohol and tissues.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

2012 Books to Review

Along with the rest North America, I am drowning in Christmas. But it's given me time to think about how I might make some changes in 2012. And because I was thinking about it, I decided to write a blog post. A little escape from the excessive energy of one recently potty-trained 3 year old.

It's not a resolution per se. But a committment. To read at least one book every month and write a review.

But now, it seems, my pile of books to review is dwindling. So I am reaching out to anyone with books soon to be released, or just released, self-published or trade published, paperback or e-book.

Now, I say my pile is dwindling, but I do still have a few to get through. But send me your stuff. I would love to have at least 12 new books for review to remain committed to my "one a month promise".

The review will be posted one of two places. Right here at Writing on the Wall, or on Suite 101.com

I know there are lots of self-published writers out there looking for publicity. And I love to read. And write. How can you go wrong?

So, check out the specifics for book reviews in the side bar to the left of this post. I won't promise I will like your book, I won't promise to write you a stellar review. But I will promise you, no matter what, it will be fair.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Best Christmas Gift Ev-ah

Just when I thought she would be in diapers until she was 21, my child decided it was time. Time to discard the diapers for regular panties and...wait for it...actually do her business in the potty.

Really, I thought this day would never come and quite honestly, I was just entering the acceptance faze. When voila.

I can safely say, I have not had to change in a diaper in 3 days. It's heaven.

Maybe it's because Grandma is coming in a few days to spend the holidays, maybe it was my constant begging and pleading with her. Or maybe, and it loathes me to even consider this...but maybe, she just wanted to do it on her own time and the time was now. Who am I to complain? Except I like control. Too much. And when I don't get my way, well, no I don't kick and scream like she does, but I go into my special place and quietly sulk. Wonder why and how the world could do me so much wrong.

People have told me time and again, "She'll do it when she's ready. Don't worry she won't go to school in diapers." I desperately wanted to believe them. I desperately wanted to make it happen faster. ON MY TERMS!

But that's just not how it works. And now that she is going regularly, it feels as if it is just the way it was supposed to be.

And you know what? It is!

Now if only I could figure how to get her to keep her clothes on.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

I'm Writing This Post

I'm writing this post from my iPhone
And it's rather claustrophobic in here.

So please excuse the typing
as the auto-correct might not be too clear.

This afternoon I spent too much time on Twitter and Facebook
and I'm afraid I couldn't break free.

And so I'm writing this post from my iPhone
and It's rather claustrophobic in here.

Couldn't resist playing with the poem of Shel Silverstein.

And this is the first time I've written a post from my iPhone. It kind of sucks by the way. Still had to get online to fix minor formatting errors.

Have a great Monday.

Cheat Day

I was going to write an amazing post for today. Something, thrilling and edgy and maybe a little off kilter. But I came across this post at The Huffington Post and I wanted to share it instead.

The Real War on Christmas  by Derek Flood

Read and enjoy your Sunday.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Politically Correct Christmas

Urban Dictionary definition:
1. A way that we speak in America so we don't offend whining pussies.
2. The laws of moral and ethical relativism; all systems of cultures and thought are equal in value, steming from a perceived guilt from white liberals who believe that the Western Civilization is the root of all evil to the exclusion of all else.

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings: it's become increasingly difficult to wish someone a Merry Christmas because of the mix of religions and ethnicities in our culture.

For me, I was raised Christian and to me it's Merry Christmas no matter what anyone else says. I don't become offended because someone says something else, but when I speak I would like to be able to speak the way that is comfortable for me.

It's all the same, with slight differences, but it's the holidays and however you choose to celebrate or not, whatever your upbringing has taught you, great, but why do I have to say something different that comes naturally, in fear of offending someone?

I am all for respecting other cultures and religions. But why does it feel that my choice is not being respected? It's not discrimination. It's not disrespectful. I am not wronging someone or hurting someone morally or ethically...or physically.

If you are someone who does not celebrate Christmas for religious or cultural reasons, that is your choice. But you have chosen to live in a country that for the most part does celebrate these holidays and therefore it is our choice to celebrate the way we choose, just as it's your right to celebrate the way you choose. But it does not give you the right to get upset because someone wishes you a Merry Christmas.

Not all that long ago, in the days of my work in customer service, it became standard that we could ONLY wish people a Happy Holidays or Season's Greetings. How many times did I slip up? More than you can count. And only once of actually saying, Merry Christmas, did someone get upset. And that was because they were a Jehovah's Witness and did not celebrate Christmas.

Fair enough. But is it really worth getting upset over?


I could be way off base, but it feels that with the growth of multiculturalism in our country, the natives of this country are being forced to surrender their beliefs to make room for others. Isn't there enough room for everyone in this country?

Just as calling someone a mail person rather than a mail man or the cable person rather than the cable guy, what's the point in getting your panties all twisted? It's a figure of speech that really doesn't mean anything. My mailman is female, but mailman still feels comfortable. It rolls off the tongue with ease. But it doesn't mean I think all mail carriers should be men. Or that men are more superior. It's words. So what.

Airlines switched from stewardesses to flight attendants. So what? The mail flight attendants could be called stewards. Is there anything wrong with that?

Nowadays in articles and books you often find a switch throughout between gender. For fairness? To not single out one more than the other? I found this common when I was pregnant. Many of the books out there (and websites) didn't want to single out one gender. I get it. Some people have boys, some have girls. But the information is more or less the same. So if I read a book that used he more predominantly, what difference does it make? Unless you have a girl and it's a potty training book, I personally don't see the big deal.

But back to Christmas. I love Christmas. I celebrate Christmas and if I want to wish someone a Merry Christmas, that's exactly what I am going to do. Just as you should wish everyone a Happy Hannukah if that's what is comfortable. I won't be offended. And no one else should be either.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A Great Evening of Readings

Wanted to send out a special thank you to Laurie Fuhr and Meghan Doraty of fillingStation Magazine for inviting me and my friend Sarah Johnson to read for the December Flywheel Reading Series held at Pages on Kensington.

We were there partly to promote the Freshwater Pearls Anthology so of course we read from our stories in the anthology but also because of the amount of time allotted for each reader, we were able to read from other works.

By the way, if you haven't picked up your copy of Freshwater Pearls they are available through the Alexandra Writers Centre Society, Owl's Nest Books, Pages on Kensington and Recliner Books.

Sarah kicked us off with an excerpt from You're Bleeding. Not only the piece published in the anthology but also an excerpt from her novel in progress. The excerpt was a gripping tale of a poor bullied girl with huge family issues of her own.

Her second piece, was a humourous essay about the perils of raising a toddler boy.

We weren't alone in our readings. Local Calgary poet, John Creary, shared a number of his poems, most of which were already published or soon to be published.

And then there was me.

I read from Wednesday, my story in the anthology and also from a story I just recently finished that held many references to the Beatles and John Lennon. Funny, too, as the anniversary of Lennon's death was yesterday.

I learned rather quickly that 15 to 20 minutes is a long time to read. My throat almost closed up a couple of times. So this is why readers have water by their side.

Near the end of my reading, a book suddenly went tumbling to the floor. The Visual Orgasm. Not sure how it's related, but for a brief moment, I thought maybe I had pissed off the spirit of Lennon and he was letting me know. (and apparently some of the audience thought the same thing)

Maybe mere coincidence but you never know.

Overall, fabulous night. I had loads of fun. Now can't wait for the reading in March with Writing in the Works. March 10 at Memorial Park Library.

For anyone who's interested, Flywheel is always looking for readers. Check out the Filling Station website for more information on how you can get involved.

The Real Spirit of Christmas

We all remember Christmases of tearing into the piles of presents left by family and friends. The stockings hung by the fireplace full of treats and gifts from Santa Claus. The joy of ripping apart the colourful gift wrapping, feeling the paper under your fingers, shivering with excitement as the surprise is revealed. Then tossing it aside and going on to the next one. We felt happy and loved and maybe at times a little ungrateful.

Imagine you were one of the millions of children every year who don't get the opportunity to enjoy that feeling which most of us take for granted.

My family was never rich, but I always had something - often a few somethings - to open Christmas morning. And even to this day, I still love getting presents. Who doesn't?

But we aren't all that fortunate and we don't want to forget what the true spirit of Christmas is all about.

There are many organizations around the city which accept donations of gifts, food, etc. help out the less fortunate during the holidays. And they are all in need.

The Magic of Christmas - needs volunteers, donations of gifts or money to help make a families Christmas a little better this year.

Samaritan's Purse - get a shoebox and fill it with goodies for a child.

Toy Mountain - take an unwrapped toy or gift to any of the hundreds of dropoff locations around the city.

Calgary Food Bank - needs gifts of unperishable food items and holiday trimmings or a monetary donation.

Alexandra Centre Society Christmas Hamper Program - drop off an unperishable food item or gift, or make a monetary donation.

The Mustard Seed - This isn't so much about holiday giving as it is about helping the homeless out on the Calgary streets. Now that the temperatures are dropping to the near -20's, they could use your help too. Old blankets, jackets, gloves, mitts, toiletries. All will help someone be a little more comfortable this winter.

These are only a few of organizations trying to help those less fortunate. There are more. Check it out and I encourage you to make a difference in someone's life this year, in whatever way you deem worthy.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Dear Santa...

By Dan St. Yves

This letter originally appeared in the Kelowna Daily Courier's Event Magazine. You can catch more of Dan's humour, wit and ramblings on his blog, Such is Life. Also follow him on Twitter, @thatdanguy1


Dear Santa…

Long time no talk. How’s Mrs. Claus? I bet it’s real cold up there at The North Pole. Do you eat a lot of chicken noodle soup?

I’ve been good. Really good. Even my sister would agree, if she had half a brain.

Sorry, that was wrong. She’s a very nice person, with more than half a brain…(gotta be nice…gotta be nice…gotta be nice…)

I tried to get out to see you last year, but even though I was pretty sure I had to be at the North Pole, the clerk at the Petro-Can told me I was just outside Winnipeg. Holy doodles, how much colder can it possibly get???

By the way, I just wanted to apologize in advance. My family went to a “Wild Night” at a local restaurant, and I think the waiter said one of the meats was reindeer!!! I sure hope it wasn’t one of your older deers, but I understand they may be getting too old to pull that sleigh around. Wattaya gonna do?

I’ve given Mom & Dad the annual list, so I’m hoping they’ve sent it already. If they could just embrace modern technology, you might have already got a copy, via e-mail. 

Sorry. That wasn’t right. They are great, and continue to be very nice parents, even if they do send me to bed at a completely ridiculous hour…

Alright, let’s just clarify a few of this year’s requests. I don’t recall asking for corduroy pants last year, or that ugly matching scarf with the tassles. If that’s supposed to be your idea of humour, you need to get out more…

Sorry. I didn’t mean to say that. I understand that things are tight, what with the economy and all, but I really had my heart set on the Star Wars Action Figure Collection, from all of the movies in the series, NOT the pathetic Stone Cold Steve Austin doll I did find under the tree. If you’re going to improvise, haven’t you ever heard of The Rock?

If you can’t find them up there, they have tons in stock at our Wal-Mart store…

I should also recap just how good I’ve been all year. Mom has significantly reduced the number of times she has had to send me to my room. I don’t have the full number count in yet, but I think we’ll have seen about a 27% reduction since last year. Not bad, eh?

I’m attaching a personal note from my sister, confirming the continued terms of the treaty we signed in 2002. I do admit to checking her into the garage door a couple of times while playing street hockey, but she has to learn to keep her head up.

OK, gotta go. We’re going to see “Elf” at the theatre tomorrow, so I’ll be looking for you. Keep cool!!

Your friend Danny       

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Stump

Most of my childhood was full of drunk holiday parties. Many of those years I'm sure have been blocked from my memory for reasons I don't even know. Maybe I was too young. Maybe it just wasn't that memorable. Whatever the reason, there is still one which stands out among all the rest.

Don't ask me exactly how old I was because I can't tell you. I could venture a guess, and say maybe I was around 7 or 8. Let's say 7 and a half for these purposes. My brother would have been a mere fetus growing in my mother's belly.

On this particular December evening when I was probably 7 and a half, we spent a fun filled evening at my aunt and uncle's home as was the norm every year. All the family was there. My parents, my aunt and uncle (obviously since it was their house), my grandparents and cousins.

Anyway, it's not so much the party that holds the memory for me, because frankly I don't remember it. It's what happened afterward. Driving home in the truck, my mother at the wheel, my father slumped against the window, appreciating the coolness of the glass against his face and me in the middle - probably without a seatbelt because they weren't mandatory back then - warm, stale air blasting from the heater trying to erase the cold.

We pulled into the driveway, the tires crunching snow, and parked in front of the tree stump. I don't remember how long the stump was there. Did my parents remove the tree? Was it gone before we moved in? I don't remember.

I climbed out of the truck behing my mother, my father stumbled out of the passenger side.

My mother told my father to go in the house, she would plug in the truck. I watched with mild amusement as they argued over this simple task. My father insisting he could do it, my mother telling him to stop being a stupid sonofabitch and get inside. My father was stubborn. He was drunk. My mother finally tells him "fine, have it your way" and guides me into the house.

I couldn't tell you how much time passed before I went outside to see what was keeping my father. It shouldn't take too long to plug in the truck. But I went outside and there was my father on the ground. Groaning in pain, because he wasn't a cryer, and dragging himself toward the house. He must have said something to me because I recall running into the house screaming, "Daddy broke his leg, Daddy broke his leg."

He tripped over the stupid stump.

I can't even remember if my mother helped him into the house or just left him there. She could have left him there and let him suffer on his own, let him get his own stubborn self into the house. But I don't think that's what happened.

It was cold. She must have helped him into the house.

She phoned my aunt and uncle. My uncle came and picked him up and drove him to the hospital. When he got back home, he had a cast that ran from his toes to his knee.

And now every Christmas we talk and laugh about the year my father tripped over the stump and broke his leg.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Working on My Christmas List

By Joanne Dippel

This Letter to Santa is more of a letter to the entire adult population of the world who have forgotten they can still write their own lists. It's a reminder that Christmas and Santa are not just for kids. We all have wants and needs. Some more than others.

Having recently learned that Santa accepts lists from adults, and feeling a little miffed that I hadn’t known this earlier, I decided to compose a list. Perhaps Santa could work with my husband and we could all avoid a repeat of the Swiss Army Knife incident of 2004. Admittedly not as nasty as knife incidents can be, I was disappointed by the choice of a Swiss Army Knife for Christmas. Yes, it was practical. But I’m not. So, here are some of the things I’m considering for my list:

1.      A small home renovation project – I’d like French doors installed. My concern in asking Santa for such a project, though, is the reliability of his contractors. Are they licensed, bonded? Are they elves? It would be so disappointing to need Mike Holmes to come in and fix the shoddy workmanship of a bunch of well-meaning elves. It’s tricky to ask for this one.

2.      Shoes – I like shoes. I’m not shoe-crazy but there are shoes I’d love to buy. With shoes, however, there’s the issue of fit. I don’t want to have to nag Santa for a receipt so I can return shoes. He’s so worn out after Christmas. And you just know he gets a lot more requests for returns and exchanges than he gets Thank You cards. Any shoe request would have to be very specific to ensure success.

3.      A Sock Matching Application for Smart Phones – You know this is coming. I suspect it’s in a beta testing phase right now and being kept very hush-hush. If Santa has some inside knowledge on this, he might be willing to provide access to those of us who are, for now at least, in his good books. The technology will be life-changing; I want in.

4.      The return of my hairstylist – Rebecca left me without a word. She was always quiet but she didn’t have to be silent about her departure. My life and my hair haven’t been the same since. If teams of private investigators can’t find her, maybe this request is beyond even Santa’s abilities. And, really, does Santa know a lot about hairstylists? He wears the hat a lot; a good coif might not be a priority for him. Rebecca may be gone for good.

5.      Starbucks Behaviour Modification – Ideally, I would ask that from now on, every Starbucks customer orders a drink as simple as my favourite – “Tall Bold with Room for Cream.” That’s a lot to ask though and, as long as people know what they want, it’s fine if they go into incredible detail with their drink requests. More troublesome are people who ask questions about the moisture content of beans and people who stand in front of the cream and sugar and lids when they don’t even want cream or sugar or lids. The problem with requesting any changes is that I don’t know Santa’s Starbucks habits. There’s the potential to really offend him and I don’t want to do that.

6.      A Chef – It’s time. I have defied the odds. Most people would bet that, after 20 years, a person’s cooking has to get better. I have proven this is not the case. I am still making the same poor quality meals. My Kraft Dinner is inconsistent. I’ve had a slow cooker for a year and a half and learned how to set the (wrong) temperature this week. I would like to have a chef for a little while. My family would like to have a chef for a little while. It looks like Santa eats quite well and he and Mrs. Claus keep all those elves fed. I think he can help with this one.

I don’t need any of the above items, except the chef. Santa put out the request, though, and it can’t hurt to offer some suggestions.  If he wants to know what I really want, it’s to arrange a meeting with him in the New Year, when he’s had time to rest. I’d love to hear the perspective of a caring man who travels around the world and understands the lives of all children. I’m sure he’d be fascinating even if it turns out he has bad hair.

Good luck with your lists.

Merry Christmas!  Season’s Greetings!

Joanne

Monday, December 5, 2011

Santa Prayer

by Shelly Deuchar

We've always asked for things for Christmas that we've never received. Who's fault is it? Have we been asking the wrong person all along?

Dear Santa,

Remember me?

Well, probably not.  I probably haven't been on your "good girl" list for a million years now. 

I'm sorry I always eat the cookies.

Every year I've asked for:

~World Peace (I swear this has always been first on the list),

~A beautiful singing voice (So far Canadian Idol judges would still cringe),

~A slim, trim, fit body (I don't see why I have to actually put my effort into it),

~A winning lottery ticket (Again, I don't see why I have to actually buy a ticket),

~My Soulmate (You sent me a disaster in the form of a human being.  *Sigh*.  I guess I should have been more specific on the details?),

~and....

Oh wait...maybe I've been asking God.

Nevermind.

Yours truly,
Me.

Sinterklaas is Coming to Town

In the spirit of Christmas and celebrating my husband's heritage, I thought it only fair to share a little of what it's like to celebrate the holidays in  Holland.

Sinterklaas is similar to who we know as Santa Claus or St. Nicholas or Father Christmas. One big difference though is that Sinterklaas does not have a weight problem and dresses much like a bishop. He doesn't travel around in a sleigh pulled by reindeer and he doesn't have elves.

You better not cry, you better not pout...Sinterklaas is coming to town.

Sinterklaas arrives in the Netherlands in mid-November, by boat from Spain. No frigid northern climate for this guy and only the best mode of transportation. When in Holland he travels around on a big white horse named Americo. And his helpers? Zwarte Pieten - little men with dark skin and colourful clothes. In other words, slaves. As they parade through the streets, these slaves make fun of the bystanders, much like a clown at the circus, and throw pepernoten - little candies - at the kids.

He knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake.
Over the next few weeks, Sinterklaas assesses the children, finding out if they've been "naughty or nice". And he keeps a tally in his big black leather-bound book. The children are invited to sit on his lap and admit to whether they have been good or bad. But heaven forbid they lie, or they've actually been bad because Sinterklaas has no qualms about stuffing the treacherous little humanoids in is sack and taking them back to Spain.

On December 5, Pakjesavond, Sinterklaas rides his horse over the roofs of houses while his assistants - see he doesn't even do the work himself - are sent down the chimney to get carrots left by the children. A little treat for the horse. I guess that's how he keeps his trim figure. No milk and cookies for this Saint. If you were good, you get presents or candy left in a shoe by the fireplace. But if you were bad? Nevermind those lumps of coal. You get kidnapped. In a sack.

From what I can glean, Holland still has the traditional Christmas we North Americans have come to know and love, celebrated on the same day, December 25. So in essence, they get TWO Christmases. And we get one.

But to be fair, this little bit of history has long since become a legend to keep the kinderen in line. He doesn't really steal the children. Rather, the naughty kids have to sing a song and they are forgiven.

Sinterklaas is actually a pretty great guy who the kids love and admire. Though he ain't so jolly, and he still keeps slaves.

But, hey, we're not all perfect!

I thought I would also share this great essay by David Sedaris that talks a little about Sinterklaas. Have a listen...and a good laugh.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Yes, Virginia. There is a Santa Claus...


This classic letter, and response, answers the age old question.
A must read for everyone.
We take pleasure in answering thus prominently the communication below, expressing at the same time our great gratification that its faithful author is numbered among the friends of "The Sun":
Dear Editor,

I am 8 years old. Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus. Papa says, "If you see it in The Sun, it's so." Please tell me the truth, is there a Santa Claus?

Virginia O'Hanlon


Virginia, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours, man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! How dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus! It would be as dreary as if there were no Virginias. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The external light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies. You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if you did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived could tear apart. Only faith, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernatural beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, Virginia, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! He lives and lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay 10 times 10,000 years form now he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.


Francis P Church


Bishop Nicholas of Myra

By Madelaine Wong

This Letter to Santa reflects the goodness and hope we have all come to associate with Santa and the true spirit of the holiday season. It's a reminder of the things we should not take for granted. Truly moving and honest.

December, 325 A.D.

Dear Bishop Nicholas of Myra,

Your most humble servant asks for nothing as the anniversary of the birth of our Lord Jesus approaches. I am writing to thank you for saving my life and the lives of my friends, one year ago, today. As you know, we were unjustly condemned by Eustathius, the ruler of Myra, and sentenced to death.

We were, the three of us, held for months without trial in a small cell, starved and beaten, accused of unimaginable crimes. Oh, the misery of that dank, dirty prison. Rats bit our feet while we slept and the guards abused us when we awoke. I must tell you, I preferred the rats. Of course, I don’t have to tell you about the misery. You were also unjustly imprisoned, years ago.

On the day of my arrest, I was pulled away from my potter’s kiln, locked in chains as the neighbours watched and my wife wept. I yelled to my wife to write to you, to beg your assistance. You are known far and wide as a wise and generous man. I still remember how you helped that poor man who could not afford to pay the dowries for his three daughters. They would be suffering in a life of prostitution if not for you. I knew you were a man with a reputation for justice.

I still have nightmares, remembering the day of our execution. We were pulled into the glare of daylight. After spending so much time below ground, the sun was painful to our eyes. Our heavy chains dragged behind us. We were unused to walking after being confined in a cell too small to stand upright. Our bodies were weak and malnourished. The crowd gathered. Their eyes glowed with excitement. They chanted, “Chop off their heads!” They were hungry for blood. I saw my wife, jostled by the crowd; she clasped her hands across her chest. She was praying for me.

They picked me to die first. They told me to bow my head. I did. I awaited death. I admit I almost welcomed it. The executioner raised his sword. I saw the glint of the metal, and squeezed my eyes tight. Death was imminent. Then I heard you shout, “Stop!” I opened my eyes and saw you standing in front of me, your hand grasping the sharp blade of the sword. You stayed the executioner’s hand. I remember you called out, “What good is served by their killing? How is the God of mercy honoured by bloodshed?” You demanded our release and we were unbound.

I collapsed on the ground. I looked up at your face, smiling down at me, your beard as white as snow. I hadn’t the strength then, to offer you thanks. My body, so weak from famine and shock, poor wife and son had to support me on our return home. You never asked me to repay you, and indeed I cannot, being a simple tradesman. All I can offer you now is my sincere thanks.

You will certainly go down in history for your goodness and generosity.

Your friend in Christ

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Workplace Grievance

by Robin van Eck

Santa's toy shop is no different than any other big corporation. Politics, ethics, sexual harrassment, it all comes into play. No one is immune,

Dear Mr. Kringle,
It pains me to write you this letter. I have faithfully served you for the past 400 years and have never in that time had a single complaint. And it makes my stomach curl to speak ill of another person. But I feel I can no longer keep this under my britches.

This situation I hesitate to speak of has caused my performance to suffer in the most grievous of ways. Maybe you recall back in the spring when I inadvertently sewed Raggedy Ann’s eye on where her ear should be? I still pay the price for that mistake. The constant ridicule from the other elves has made it difficult to concentrate on my responsibilities and now their looks are making it impossible.

They know.

I am sorry to report, sir, that I have been sexually harassed. It is still going on and I wish for it stop or I will have no other choice but to find work elsewhere.

It started as what seemed to be innocent fun. A group of us elves were hanging out at the Candy Shop when Mrs. Kringle approached and invited us all to a friendly game of Cricket. Now I am pretty good at Cricket. It runs in my veins. As you may recall my father was a Cricket Pro in his day and he taught me everything he knew. So of course, I was all for a friendly game. Everyone else declined, except for Claude.

So we said goodbye and followed the good lady to the Cricket field. I was winding up for my first shot when Mrs. Kringle said, “Let’s raise the stakes. I win, you two cook for me and Kris for a week. One of you win, I will be your faithful servant for one week.”

Claude and I quickly agreed you see, because we never had no lady ever offer to take care of us that way. Not since my good mother, God rest her soul. Thing is, I knew I could beat her. Kind of seemed unfair at the time, but it was it was.

So of course, I won.

Mrs. Kringle invited me to the house for a lovely dinner – you were out doing the yearly maintenance on the sleigh – and it all seemed good until later that evening she came to my room and insisted on giving me a sponge bath. She peeled off my tights and forced me to sit naked by the fireplace. I didn’t know what to do, she being your wife and all. She did give me a towel to cover my parts but once she had the bucket of suds and the sponge, it didn’t matter if I was covered. That sponge was put in places I didn’t even know I had.

Then she showed up the next morning to pick out my clothes for me, help brush my teeth, hair, back - then shuffled me off to the toyshop. She brought me lunch, ironed all my clothes, even my shoes, Mr. Kringle. Who does that?

The only saving grace was knowing it was only a week. I could make it. The other elves were curious about all the attention I was getting from the “boss's wife” but they paid it no mind when I explained I won a bet.

But the week came and went and it never stopped, sir. She followed me everywhere. Remember Rudolph’s swearing in ceremony? She was right by my side and kept touching my nether regions, oh so subtly. She brushed past me, making sure my nose was right between her breasts. She touches me, sir. And frankly I’m getting scared.

And now the other elves whisper.

I’ve asked Mrs. Kringle to stop. That her part of the deal is long since done. But she hasn’t. She winks at me and blows kisses when we pass in the hallway.

I hate to have to tell you this, as you have been such a wonderful employer. But last night was the final straw. She came to my room when I was sleeping. I woke and she was sitting there, cross-legged on the floor, watching me. Her breathing was rapid. I was afraid to look at her. But I did. And she was doing things to herself, sir. Things she should not be doing in front of me.

Please, Mr. Kringle, make it stop.

Otherwise, I will have no choice but to find other work. Don’t know where I would go. But I hear Utah is nice this time of year.

Respectfully yours,
Lourds Elfkinhoff III

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Letters to Santa

Hey y'all! Gonna try something different. In honour of the approaching Christmas season, I am inviting you to submit Letters to Santa to be published on my blog throughout December. Make them funny, gritty, serious, erotic...basically anything goes. 500-1000 words. And send them to rzvaneck@gmail.com No payment, it's just for fun and glory.

December Brings...

It's December. Officially.

On this day, the realization that Christmas is only 24 days away, is all too real. Only a small amount of Christmas shopping is done. Like I mean, one thing has been bought. I have a list of some of the other stuff I need to get, want to get. But I hate shopping so Christmas can be a miserable time of the year. Until it's all done. And I sure do like getting presents.

This is the first year we've given the child an advent calendar. I was sitting here just moments ago and remembered, Hey, today is the first. Time to break out the calendar. Great way for a 3 year old to learn her numbers, by the way. I asked her to find the 1 and she searched through all the mixed up numbers and voila! she found the 1. A simple moment of pride for me, I suppose. Now if only she would learn to use the potty the way she's supposed to, then Mommy would be REALLY proud. And selfishly ecstatic.

This December Grandma is coming to visit. She will leave the moderate Okanagan climate to slog through the bitter chilliness that is Calgary. At least Christmas isn't in January or February. That would be brutal.

Deadlines, deadlines, deadlines. There was so much I hoped to accomplish this year and now it feels as though time is running out and nothing has been done. My novel was supposed to be finished. Not even close. On the bright side I did get quite a few stories submitted and lots of rejections in return. But it also came with a few publications as well, so it wasn't all bad. Book reviews in FreeFall, a short story in an anthology, a short story short-listed for a contest. All progress. And, I taught my first ever workshop less than a week ago and it went better than I could have imagined for a first try.

I've done a few public presentations. Readings at the AWCS Open Mic, An Encore Reading of Freshwater Pearls on November 23 which went really well, and I was invited to read for filling Station's flywheel Reading Series next week. December 8 at 7:30 at Pages on Kensington for anyone who's interested. And, I was invited to read for Writing in the Works in March. Very excited about that. Just really need to work on the novel so I have something decent to read.

December also brings snow and cold. I hate cold. I hate snow more. But one thing I've noticed this year, we haven't yet had as much snow as last year and even though it snowed just the other day, I kind of liked it, more for the sake of the child. It reminded of those snowy days as a child when I actually loved to see the white stuff on the ground. As we grow older and have to drive in the misery, it loses that childlike appeal. But watching the excitement in the child's eyes when she looked out the window, and later when she sloshed around in it, brought just a touch of warmth and appreciation back. Not to mention it wasn't all that cold and the roads weren't that bad so no need to white knuckle it down the Deerfoot.

The Christmas tree will go up. Probably today. The outside lights, maybe this weekend. And then we wait for good old Santa Claus. Would it be silly to put out cookies and milk every day until Christmas? Has Santa ever gotten stale cookies and sour milk?

The long and short of it...December brings the end of a year. And no matter how good or bad that year was, the bright side is, it's over and January starts a new year.

New opportunities and growth.

For all.