Maybe Christmas Is A Little Bit More

This week I had three Thanksgiving dinners.  One with family, one volunteering, and one at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Franklin -my interfaith community. Family, friends, and community.  Family was fun and boisterous. Friends was thoughtful and interesting. Community was touching and made me grateful for what I have both in the way of people in my life and physical comforts. Things can be bought, but mainly it made me more grateful for my family, friends, and my mate.Now that I’ve gotten past that introspection, I’ve changed the quote on the board at work, something I do regularly. I changed it to part of this quote.

“Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”
Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Most people in Western Culture have probably been exposed to Dr. Seuss and How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  Many of us have been exposed to Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol.  I am proud to be able to claim Dickens for my faith tradition, though strictly speaking Dickens was a Unitarian since Universalism had not merged with Unitarianism until the 1960s. I don’t usually go religious but the holidays brings out sentimentality in me and most people don’t realize that Dickens wasn’t a traditional Christian.

I want to share with you another quote from Dickens this time, but from another source that’s probably unfamiliar to you, “What Christmas is as we grow older“:

“Welcome, everything! Welcome, alike what has been, and what never was, and what we hope may be, to your shelter underneath the holly, to your places round the Christmas fire, where what is sits open- hearted! In yonder shadow, do we see obtruding furtively upon the blaze, an enemy’s face? By Christmas Day we do forgive him! If the injury he has done us may admit of such companionship, let him come here and take his place. If otherwise, unhappily, let him go hence, assured that we will never injure nor accuse him.

On this day we shut out Nothing!”


How I Learned to Stop Worrying About NaNoWriMo and Embrace My Bombing Wordcount


Okay, I was going for Doctor Strangelove meets NaNoWriMo there. For a while now I’ve been feeling like NaNoWriMo ate my soul. Other people on Twitter and forums seem to adore NaNoWriMo and seem to be able to just spit out words and meet their word count goals effortlessly.  I am not one of those people.

Someone was telling me about the curse of the second book.  I can’t claim to have this curse since Threads of Fate is still resting on my hard drive in an amniotic state. I can empathize with this pressure, however, that I want to create something that’s “the same thing, but different” with what I am crafting this time.

I’ve had to admit to myself that a) I physically have not been able to sit in front of the computer as much as I would like this month, and b)  that  it doesn’t matter because I’ll finish my second novel in my own time.

The “at this rate you’ll finish your novel on x date” ticker in NaNoWriMo is stressful for me.  It causes undue stress, and I’ve decided that I’m combining both documents.  Document A for the original story and Document B, what I was using to keep track of what I had accomplished during NaNoWriMo, so now I’m no longer able to differentiate what was written in November.  I know it was approximately 20k words.

How did I get to this point? Step one: I had an epiphany that first drafts all suck and that it’s okay if this one does.  I went through five major revisions of Threads of Fate and guess what… it’s still not perfect and it never will be.  Perfection is impossible.
Step two:  My critique partner encouraged me to make my creative mind happy.  He told me what works for him (multiple WIPs, video games). For me, it’s reading and watching quality TV.  I know that sounds lazy, but I’m very particular about the TV that I watch — Westworld, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Once Upon a Time, etc.  My husband and I discussed Westworld tonight and that made my creative mind very happy. Sounds simple enough, but I hadn’t been doing this.   I’d just been pushing the creative well without allowing it to replenish or even considering what made mine replenish.  

Surprising from the start

Silent Hall was a well executed novel. What I found surprising about the start is that I felt that the opening image did not “save the cat“. That is to say, the character was engaging but not endearing.

There were diverse characters throughout the story. Not only were the five main characters darker skinned islanders in contrast to the lighter skinned continentals but there was variety among the regions of the continentals as well, which showed thought and realism. Handicaps were also addressed along with age, again showing care and adding depth to the world. Gender inequality and slavery were also addressed briefly in this world.

I’m not sure if it’s enough to warrant a trigger warning, but there were moments of domestic violence in this book in the context of three different perspectives—Galanea, Criton, and Bandu. It will be interesting to see where Mr. Dolkart goes with this theme with the next books in his Godserfs series or if all has been resolved.

The theology was impressive though dry at times. The pacing kept me engaged though the direction was not always clear. I kept looking to the back cover and wondering how we would make it to the dragon and the primordial monster, but by the end the cover had more than delivered.   It was a diverting read and I’ve enjoyed it this past week.   I had pre-ordered this book, but I just now got around to reading it and I’m glad I did. I highly recommend it.