Your First Christmas Story

A Christmas Story
(you may have already read this on my Facebook feed)

On the first day of December, I was walking along the frost-encrusted streets, watching the last fine pink veil of dawn fade away. I heard an insistent chirruping, over and over again. I searched for the source, as the little tune would not let me go.

Eventually, I found it. A little robin, so fat as to almost spherical, sat on a bare winter branch, singing its tiny heart out. It looked like the living image of a classic Christmas card.

As I watched this perfect evocation of Christmas spirit come to life, the robin fell silent, and looked at me. It stared straight into my eyes – did a massive poo, and flew away.

The moral of the story is, when people tell us a tale could not happen in real life, they’re wrong. Misers can come to their senses, snowmen dance, robins sing on bare branches. Art can come to life.

The difference is, when Life imitates Art, it always puts a sting in the tale.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Sent from my iPad

I Need Some Christmas Mystery Suggestions by Christine Duncan

I just finished Sharyn McCrumb’s Nora Bonesteel’s Christmas Past and I loved it.  I‘ve never read any of the Nora Bonesteel series before but I will be looking for more after the holidays.

Meanwhile I’m looking for more Christmas themed mysteries.  If you’re an author and have a Christmas mystery, please comment below.  I need something new to read and I want to help authors get the word out about their work.

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone by Christine Duncan

Every year, I think I will spend the days of November remembering what I am thankful for. And every year I am too busy. And besides, it’s such a cliche to talk about being thankful for husband and family and home and life.
And yet I am so thankful. As I go about the preparations for this holiday, I can’t help but look at all that I have and breathe a short prayer of thanks. And I hope that you too are feeling that blessed, that happy.

Don’t Skip It

Have you ever heard that when you write it a book, you should put it away for a while, then get it out and look at it before you send it off to anyone? Give it a few weeks away from you before you do the final edit.

Don’t, whatever you do, skip that step.

I was in a hurry. I wanted to get the manuscript sent off. I thought I knew what I was doing. I just sent it straight off. I didn’t leave it sitting in a draw for a while before doing the final edit.

It’s not that it’s a bad book. But it’s come back with a lot of notes, mostly along the lines of how busy and complex the book is. And my editor is right. Now I’ve not looked at it for a while, I can see where it needs to be tidied up. But, if I had not skipped the ‘let it rest’ stage, I wouldn’t have needed all those notes.

It may seem time consuming. It may seem pointless. You may see the need. But do not just send the manuscript off straight away. Leave it alone for a while. Have a break. Believe me, you will both need it.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

Seeking Refuge in Books by Christine Duncan

I can relate to Michelle’s post about escaping in books. Certainly, it helps when things are messed up in real life. I tend to pick books where the hero/heroine has to fight awesome odds. I want to read about people who just keep going and never even think about giving up. I don’t want to read about a whiner.
I don’t know anyone whose life is easy. People always have problems. Books whether they are mysteries, romance, sci-fi or general fiction are about people who are solving their problems. It makes sense then that we go there. Sometimes real life is just unsolvable. But we want to believe.


It has not been a good week for me. Many things, huge and little, have upset me. More than a few news events, but also those tiny personal upsets that needle away at you and make you miserable, but affect no-one else.

Basically, it’s been one of those weeks where I wish I had a different life. So I went out and found one.

Not literally, obviously. I went to books. I hid in books. I found other lives in books. I found my solace and comfort in other people’s problems and solutions. I took strength from their strength. I cried when they cried, and I felt better for a good cry. They made me laugh and feel and love and I did not once have to look up from the page and despair at my own problems.

But more than that, they give us hope. They can warn us, as so many sci-fi novels too, but they can also give us the tools to survive our own personal dark nights of the soul. We can imagine ourselves to be the characters who are stronger than we are, who survive what we think breaks us, who walk out of the darkness into the light. They can give us words to live by.

My own personal mantra, the words I say when I need to remember that I can keep going, come from Jane Eyre

‘I am no bird, and no net ensnares me. I am a free human being with an independent will’

Charlotte Bronte never knew me, never knew my troubles, or my problems, but she gave me the words to cope with them.

That’s what we do, you and me, when we write. We give ourselves and our readers another world to escape to, and then gives us the strength to come back again.

The House at Baker Street by Michelle Birkby

The Women Of Baker Street

The Election by Christine Duncan

There is no getting around this. This thing is happening. Either Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton is going to be president.

No, I am not going to urge you to vote or tell you how to vote. I am going to explain mine.

I decided I could do nothing about this election. I don’t agree with either of the candidates. I voted Stein in the hope that we can get other parties above the five percent floor that means they can get Federal money. Then maybe in the next election we will have more choices.