My Christmas holiday starts today, so I won’t be blogging for a while.
I’ll be doing plenty of cooking, reading, walking with my family and Alex, and plenty of garden planning. While all this ice and snow is hanging around I won’t be doing much gardening, but there’s always planning. I’ll be watching and feeding the wild birds, too as well as my poor quarantined hens. Most of all though, I’ll be enjoying a break!
I’d like to thank you for reading my blog this year, and I’m looking forward to sharing my writer’s life with you again in the New Year.
If you need some inspiration for reading over the holidays, you can find details of my books here.
Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas, a peaceful, happy New Year, and plenty of time for reading (and writing!) in 2023.
Lots of us are busy with parties and Christmas preparations this month. I started early! However busy you are, take some time out to and relax. When the weather is cold and clear we can get some wonderful sunrises and sunsets this month. Here are some December notes and writing prompts, to give your creativity a nudge.
December 1st is the official start of winter. At this time of year insects are in short supply. Wildlife has already eaten most of Autumn’s berries and seeds, so birds and animals are getting hungry. Even if you don’t have a garden, you can feed them. There are windowsill feeders to bring life and movement right up close. That can provide inspiration for non-fiction work, or simply a break from work. I waste lots of writing time watching the finches, nuthatches and woodpeckers squabbling!
December in the Dark
One of my favourite December memories is trudging home from school one dark winter afternoon, weighed down with a ton of homework. With a hundred yards to go I looked up—and saw the coloured lights of the Christmas tree in our front window, shining through the darkness. They were only the old-fashioned, static Woolworths fairy lights, but that didn’t matter. Seeing them gave me a real boost. It’s important to include contrast in your writing. The difference between reality and promise, or darkness and light, add depth to your work.
Sensory Treats at Christmas
December brings lots of sensory treats. There’s Jack Frost nipping at your nose, and the fragrance of crushed pine needles, or marzipan, and all kinds of exotic citrus fruits. I love the sensation of sliding into a brand new bubble bath on Christmas morning. It’s a shame those bubbles are always cold, no matter how warm the water!
Editors schedule magazine features and stories about Christmas months in advance. The The People’s Friend , for example, looks for Christmas pieces in early summer. You can get some inspiration ahead of Christmas 2023 deadlines by studying what is on offer right now. Background reading of this month’s Christmas fiction and non-fiction will give you an idea of what is wanted. Make lots of notes. Then you can spend the next few months working them up for submission.
Now It’s Your Turn!
Create your own December Notes and Writing Prompts to inspire you this month. If you have a busy Christmas, the time between the big day and New Year celebrations can be a bit of a let-down. Writing gives you focus. If you are on your own this Christmas, writing can help to ease loneliness. Either way, you can use the dark days of December to squirrel away inspiration for your new writing year.
Ideas to get you started
What if the family member who always did the cooking went on strike, and refused to cook Christmas dinner?
Power cuts are predicted. How would your characters cope, faced with cold baked beans and bread toasted over a candle?
Mincemeat originally contained real meat. What’s the worst traditional dish you can think of—and how could you persuade your fictional characters to try it?
Kisses under the mistletoe—a huge mistake, or the start of a beautiful friendship?
Christmas 1914 saw a football match between British and German forces during the First World War. How would you mend a rift between opposing sides? This is the idea behind my latest story Goodwill to All, by the way!
November has been wet and gloomy here in Gloucestershire. The news, both national and international is as dark and threatening as the weather. That’s not good for anybody’s mental health. I’ve been trying to look on the bright side, as I did with my Instant Lift page during lockdown. It’s only a month until Christmas, and luckily I’ve found some things which I hope will put a smile on your face.
Children in Need raised over £35 million on the night of its annual telethon. The Children in Read segment, which is operated by Jumblebee and the inexhaustible Paddy Heron, ran their annual book auction. I donated a paperback copy of Struggle and Suffrage in Bristol, which will soon be on its way to the winning bidder. Thank you for your generous donation, S!
I’ve been finding it difficult to get out and about since the Covid lockdowns, but DD managed to drag me out of the house last Saturday. We visited a Christmas sale of work in a nearby village and had a great time. The homemade cakes were delicious, and the handicrafts were beautiful. We stocked up on Christmas presents and bought some raffle tickets. What do you think? We won not one, not two, but three prizes! A photograph frame, a box of chocolates, and this beautiful hand-made Advent Calendar which doubles as a giant Christmas stocking.
As the raffle was drawn after DD and I had left, I had to go and collect the prizes afterwards. To be honest I had a bit of a wobble about that. It took me several days to summon up the courage to do it, but the lady custodian of prizes was very kind.
Although the rain here has been torrential, the weather has been mild. As well as the usual winter jasmine, viburnum bodnantense ‘Dawn’, and winter honeysuckle, a few last buds on the passion flower have opened. We’re enjoying them while we can. Meanwhile indoors, the cyclamen I sowed last spring have burst into flower. I should have pulled out these first flowers to make sure there are plenty for the Christmas festival itself, but I couldn’t bear to do it!
On the international stage, a lovely video was posted on Twitter by @Imposter_Edits. A baby chimpanzee at Sedgewick County Zoo, Kansas, had to be taken away from its mother and put on oxygen. This is what happened when keepers reintroduced the baby. Make sure the sound is on! https://twitter.com/i/status/1593402415985971200
My writing is fuelled by tea, and a kettle burns up lots of energy. I thought I knew all the energy-saving tips about boiling water. I either avoid boiling more water than necessary, or I fill a vacuum flask after I’ve filled the cups. Then the other day a retired science teacher suggested a real winner during a phone in programme. She pointed out how long a kettle stays at boiling point before it switches itself off. The fact is that a perfectly good cup of tea can be made by switching the kettle off as soon as the water starts to bubble furiously.
Standing over the kettle and turning it off manually the second it boils, I can save at least ten seconds of electricity each time I make tea. That may not sound like much, but over a year that adds up to about three and a half hours of electricity. It also cuts down the amount of steam produced. In this old house, we have to do everything we can to reduce condensation.
Have you got any good money-saving tips you’d like to share during the run up to Christmas?