Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas readers!

Sands and Storms, it really has been a whole year, hasn’t it? It almost doesn’t feel like it, but another one has passed. Somewhere between the hours poking away at a keyboard, it all added up, and once more we’ve arrived at the finale of the year.

Christmas.

Okay, some might count New Years, but dang it, that’s next year. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. The last holiday of the year, the one that matters most to me, is Christmas.

A lot of reflection goes into this season. Which it should, don’t get me wrong. This is a holiday dedicated to remembering the birth of the Savior and all that comes with it. Ideally, self-reflection should be involved. It’s a holiday where we can sit back and think about things for a little while. Look at where our lives have been. And where they’re headed.

This, by the way, isn’t at all what I expected to post when I started writing this, but then again that’s sometimes how these things go. I’m just rolling with it.

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The Non-Trad Christmas Gift Suggestion List (With Optional Trad)

Right, so this is pretty spontaneous. This morning, I woke to news on my feed of John Scalzi putting up a “Non-Trad Published Gift List” on his website. Curious, I clicked over.

Unfortunately, it was a little disappointing. It wasn’t actually a Gift List. What I had expected, especially titled such, was that Scalzi had actually read some Non-Trad books and was promoting a few of his favorites. But it wasn’t. Instead what the post turned out to be was Scalzi saying “Hey, non-trad writers, please use my comments to plug your books today.”

Predictably, the result is basically a lot like the “Self-Published Satuday” grab-bags on Reddit. Hordes of books from all over the spectrum, presented with no rhyme or reason.

So I immediately thought “Why not try that for real? Rather than create a self-advertising space, why not throw out one of my favorite non-trad pub books I read this year, and encourage others to do the same? Something not by me, but by someone else?”

Which, in turn, is where this post popped up from. Why not? After all, it’s my site. Why not use it for some real Christmas promotion?

So here’s the challenge. Look back on books you’ve read in the last, oh, two years. Pick out at least one that must be non-trad pub. An indie of some kind. If you’ve got a second that’s a lesser-known trad, then it can go up second, but the first must be indie. EDIT: Oh, and please no erotica or extreme content. This is a friendly site, but not that kind of friendly.

Then post about it! Tell us why you liked it, who you think the book might be a good gift for, and where we can find it! Then, if you’ve got a lesser-known trad-pub book you’d like to talk about, throw that one up too!

I’ll start us off! Here’s my two picks!

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Merry Christmas, Readers

Merry Christmas!

I love this time of year. Even when it’s rough. Even when it’s difficult.

Why? Well, probably because it’s one of the few times each year where people feel a bit more—I don’t know, free?—about being nice to one another.

Reasons for this vary. For me, personally, it’s because it’s the time of year when Christians celebrate the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ, and remember what He brought into the world. Which, personally, encompasses quite a bit, from family to the age old adage “Peace on Earth, good will toward men.” The ultimate gift.

Others have picked out bits and pieces of that feeling, and you know what? That’s fine too. For them, Christmas is hot chocolate and a kind word to a stranger. A smile to those they pass on the street.

I love this time of year. Lights, gifts, good will. Giving thanks.

Sure, I know that last one is usually thought of as a Thanksgiving thing, so how about I call it being grateful instead. Reflecting upon Christmas, the birth of Christ, and everything else that bundles up this season really does end up in my mind making me grateful for a great many things. Despite the trials and difficulties of my year, there are many things that I can still be grateful for. My warm apartment, for instance. Still head and shoulders above my old apartment, and warm during this cold season. The continuing sales of my books (that one’s a double, as I’m grateful they’re selling, and readers are grateful they’re awesome!). I’m grateful that my knee is healing, and that I can walk.

Point is, Christmas is a season where, as a whole, most of us feel encouraged to think about the things we’re grateful for, and then maybe go out of one’s way to perhaps bolster that feeling in others. We look to the ideal of Christmas, this meaning that’s collected from sources such as A Christmas Carol (a timeless classic, that one) and based on the birth of a tiny child roughly two-thousand years ago—a birth that sages and wise men had looked forward to for thousands of years, and that mankind now looks back to so much later—for goodwill, peace, and good feelings. We embrace them, hold them … and then if we’re wise, go out and share them with others.

Which … I guess is what I’m really getting at. I’m grateful for the many blessings that have hit my life this year (yes, even despite all the hardships). And I hope that wherever you are, readers, whatever your situation, your circumstances, or location, you’ve got a bit of good will in your life.

Merry Christmas, readers. Merry Christmas.

Merry Christmas From Unusual Things!

It’s that time of year once again.

Okay, so it has been for a while now. This post is probably a little late to comment on the “arrival” of the season, seeing as Christmas Eve is tomorrow, and Christmas Day—Well, it comes right after Christmas Eve. That’s kind of a given.

The season isn’t “coming.” It’s here. And I’ll be honest, it’s one of my favorite seasons. For a lot of reasons. Like hot chocolate. The wondrous drink known as eggnog (non-alcoholic, just to be clear). Upbeat music about finding happiness and joy in family, faith, or even just the most ordinary things (I mean, think about it, what other season gets music that urges us to look at the weather and enjoy it so wholeheartedly?).

But those are all … elements. Things. And to be fair, I can enjoy them any time of the year. So while they’re part the pieces that make up the Christmas holiday … they’re not Christmas itself. They’re not integral. They’re signs of Christmas. By-products.

Because Christmas is about more than just hot chocolate, pretty lights, music, or snow. Thankfully, since I don’t even have that last one at the moment. Or the lights. But I don’t have to, because Christmas isn’t about those things. They add to it, but only because we let it.

Christmas is built, not on those, but on something grander.

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Christmas Clamor

Okay, so it’s not too much of a “clamor,” really. More of just a general “busyness,” but I really wanted to get that alliteration in the title, you know?

Anyway …

So, this post is essentially the usual “information” post keeping you guys up to date. If it seems like I’ve been quiet, well … that’s because I have been. I’ve had family in town visiting for Christmas, and that’s taken a bit of precedence over my usual schedule.

Which is fine. I actually gave myself a lower-than-average quota to fulfill for the month of December. Something I did last year as well. I’ve learned.

Anyway, with where Christmas is falling this year, and with this being Monday, the usual posting day of the weekly Being a Better Writer post, I thought I’d deliver some quick updates for everyone.

First of all: There will be no Being a Better Writer today, nor will there be one next Monday. This doesn’t mean that there won’t be anything coming. Instead, you expect a Christmas message sometime this week to replace the missing BaBW post. Because it’s the season to focus on more important things. “More important things than writing?” you might ask? To which I’d say “Yes, they’re rare but they exist.

And yes, Star Wars: Rogue One (which I will see this Wednesday) happens to be one of those things.

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The Season

Today is December 21st. Four days until Christmas day.

I’ve thought a lot about what I wanted to write for today, and I do mean a lot. I had a lot of drafts that I went over in my mind, debated, discussed with myself, and eventually discarded. I even debated sitting down and writing this all out in advance. But … I never quite did. Instead I waited until this exact moment to write this out, because while I knew what I wanted to say, wasn’t sure how I wanted to say it, what method I wanted to use to present what’s taking this week’s place from Being a Better Writer. I spent a lot of time thinking over it, weighing the various things I could say, the topics I could tie in—and make no mistake, there were plenty of those this last year. More than anything else, now, I think the world needs the message that the celebration of Christmas reveres and brings once more. This last year has seen hatred piled upon hatred, vitriol on vitriol. The world at large … well, it wouldn’t have us think kind things, or even good things. The message from it has been that we must hate those that disagree with us, and revile against those who are different then us.

It’s sad. Now more than ever, I think, we need to remember what Christmas is truly about.

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