Christmas is fast approaching and this year’s will be the first normal Christmas many of us will be experiencing since 2019.
Last year, South Africa had an outbreak of Covid-19 round about now and we all went back into hibernation. My cousin and his family were here from the UK and they got trapped for an extra 2 1/2 weeks because of the quarantine requirements in the UK.
We are looking forward to a lovely family Christmas this Saturday before my family and my mom leave for the UK for just over two weeks. We are looking forward to seeing our extended family for the first time in three years.
The run up to Christmas is a wonderful time to read books with your children. There are numerous books that celebrate the Christmas story and also a significant number of books that share the message of kindness and sharing without any specific religious affiliation.
These are a few of my favourite Christmas stories and I’ve slipped in my own two newly released Christmas books for children at the end. These books are my first attempts at publishing on Kindle Direct Publishing and I am pleased with how they’ve turned out.
How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss
What Amazon says
The timeless Christmas classic from the iconic Dr. Seuss is now available in ebook. Read this favourite story of joy, love and acceptance anytime, anywhere!
(This ebook is optimised for Kindle tablets and the Kindle App. It is not suitable for e-Ink kindle devices, such as the PaperWhite. We recommend you download a sample to your device before purchase if in doubt.)
“The Grinch hated Christmas! The whole Christmas season! Now, please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason…”
With a heart two sizes too small, the Grinch is the meanest creature you’ll ever meet. He hates Christmas and the whole festive season. But when he hatches a dastardly plot to steal Christmas, he’s in for a big surprise!
This classic seasonal story has become a favourite for good reason. Through hilarious rhymes and beautiful illustrations, Dr. Seuss teaches readers the true meaning of Christmas.
With his unique combination of hilarious stories, zany pictures and riotous rhymes, Dr. Seuss has been delighting young children and helping them learn to read for over fifty years. Creator of the wonderfully anarchic Cat in the Hat, and ranked among the UK’s top ten favourite children’s authors, Dr. Seuss is a global best-seller, with over half a billion books sold worldwide.
A few quotes
“Packed it up with their presents, their ribbons, their wrappings, Their snoof and their fuzzles, their tringlers and trappings! Ten thousand feet up, up the side of Mount Crumpet, He rode with his load to the tiptop to dump it!”
“And the Grinch, with his Grinch-feet ice cold in the snow, stood puzzling and puzzling, how could it be so? It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. 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.”
“Seeing is believing, but sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.”
Late one Christmas Eve after the town has gone to sleep, the boy boards the mysterious train that waits for him: the Polar Express bound for the North Pole. When he arrives, Santa offers the boy any gift he desires. The boy modestly asks for one bell from the harness of the reindeer. The gift is granted. On the way home the bell is lost. On Christmas morning, the boy finds the bell under the tree. The mother of the boy admires the bell, but laments that it is broken—for you see, only believers can hear the sound of the bell.
Awarded the prestigious Caldecott Medal in 1986, ‘The Polar Express ‘has sold more than 7 million copies, become a classic holiday movie, and been translated into stage productions that take place across the United States during the holiday season.
Mr. Men and Little Miss Christmas Books by Roger Hargreaves
Roger Hargreaves has an array of different books in the Mr. Men and Little Miss series of illustrated books for children. Among his many amazing books, he has a few dedicated to Christmas.
One day Mr. Christmas receives a call from his uncle, Santa Claus, asking for help. Can Mr. Christmas help Santa deliver presents to all of the Mr. Men?
Mr. Stingy is a stingy old miser who hates Christmas. But one night he is visited by three ghosts who show him that heÕs been living his life badly and needs to mend his ways! In this lighthearted adaptation of DickensÕs A Christmas Carol, Mr. Happy plays Bob Cratchit and Mr. Nosey, Little Miss Wise, and Little Miss Bossy play the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future.
Little Miss Christmas spends all year wrapping presents for Santa Claus. But when the wrapping isn?t done in time, Little Miss Christmas has to call on her Mr. Men and Little Miss friends to help out!
The Christmas Bird by Robbie Cheadle
The Deanne family is having a difficult time financially. Mr. Deanne’s business has failed and there is no money for Christmas presents and other luxuries. The family’s undernourished dogs discover a bird’s nest on Christmas Day and attack and kill the chicks. All except one tiny ball of fluff with luminous bright eyes like drops of oil. The baby bird is in shock, but the four Deanne girls try to save it. Will the Christmas Bird survive?
The Christmas Fairy’s harp has gone missing. Without it, the parents and children won’t sleep on Christmas Eve and Santa can’t deliver Christmas presents. Can Sir Chocolate help Santa find the missing harp and save Christmas? Includes five fun related limericks and five Christmas themed creative activities and recipes that caregivers can make with small children.
I made a video for this book and I would be delighted if you would view it and let me know what you think of it here:
About Robbie Cheadle
Robbie Cheadle is a South African children’s author and poet with eleven children’s books and two poetry books.
The eight Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.
Robbie and Michael have also written Haunted Halloween Holiday, a delightful fantasy story for children aged 5 to 9 about Count Sugular and his family who hire a caravan to attend a Halloween party at the Haunted House in Ghost Valley. This story is beautifully illustrated with Robbie’s fondant and cake art creations.
Robbie has published two books for older children which incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.
Robbie has two adult novels in the paranormal historical and supernatural fantasy genres published under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle. She also has short stories, in the horror and paranormal genre, and poems included in several anthologies.
Robbie Cheadle contributes two monthly posts to https://writingtoberead.com, namely, Growing Bookworms, a series providing advice to caregivers on how to encourage children to read and write, and Treasuring Poetry, a series aimed at introducing poetry lovers to new poets and poetry books.
In addition, Roberta Eaton Cheadle contributes one monthly post to https://writingtoberead.com called Dark Origins: African Myths and Legends which shares information about the cultures, myths and legends of the indigenous people of southern Africa.
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I love reading origin stories, which set the groundwork for all like stories which come after. Although the legend grows and changes down through the years with each retelling. The legend of Santa Claus is one that I hold near and dear to my heart, and I truly enjoyed allowing The Santa Claus Stories of L. Frank Baum take me back to where it all began.
Did you ever wonder where Santa Claus comes from, or how he got to be Santa Claus? Ever wonder how he came to deliver toys to children all around the world? Or why he only delivers one night out of the year? Or why he wears red? Or why he comes down the chimney? Or where his magic comes from? The Santa Claus Stories of L. Frank Baum answer those questions and more. And I’m guessing that not many people today are aware that Santa Claus was in attendance for Princess Ozma’s birthday party in the land of Oz, along with Dorothy and Toto, the scarecrow, the lion man, the tin man, and many other of Baum’s colorful and memorable characters.
The literary value of classic stories such as these is beyond my abilities to describe. Although I feel unqualified to rate classic gems, such as this one, these stories left me with a good feeling inside. Here is born the true spirit of Christmas and you can see the origins of the Santa Claus legend offered here in many contemporary Santa Claus stories. In Baum’s telling, his reindeer don’t fly, but they do wear bells, and magic is in the air, as Santa toils to make all of the toys for the children year round by himself. Over the years things have changed a bit, but I think the magic is still in our hearts, if we look for it.
This is my final Treasuring Poetry post for 2020 and I am sharing my favourite Christmas poem, an extract from How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr Seuss. I love this piece of his lovely Christmas story because it really illustrates what Christmas is all about. I love how the Grinch was unable to stop Christmas from coming because Christmas is in our hearts and souls and its not about the gifts, the food, the Christmas tree or even our families. It is about us, as individuals, and our own personal relationships, beliefs, and aspirations.
…So he paused. And the Grinch put his hand to his ear. And he did hear a sound rising over the snow. It started in low. Then it started to grow. But the sound wasn’t sad! Why, this sound sounded merry! It couldn’t be so! But it WAS merry! VERY! He stared down at Whoville! The Grinch popped his eyes! Then he shook! What he saw was a shocking surprise! Every Who down in Whoville, the tall and the small, Was singing! Without any presents at all! He HADN’T stopped Christmas from coming! IT CAME! Somehow or other, it came just the same! And the Grinch, with his grinch-feet ice-cold in the snow, Stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?” “It came with out ribbons! It came without tags!” “It came without packages, boxes or bags!” And he puzzled three hours, till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before! “Maybe Christmas,” he thought, “doesn’t come from a store.” “Maybe Christmas…perhaps…means a little bit more!”…
Ani, the small dog, and her two legs, Sue Vincent, know all about Christmas and making the best of it. Ani, with the help of Sue, has written a number of lovely rhyming poetry books, one of which is Pass the Turkey: The Small Dog’s Christmas. This is one of my favourite poems from this book:
Dear Santa, I’m a little dog who doesn’t do religion. I’d rather chase a tennis ball or terrorise a pigeon Than argue over who is wrong or maybe who is right… It seems a silly way to me to get into a fight.
I know the Christmas story, ’cause she told me long ago, About Joseph and Mary when they had nowhere to go, And that’s the bit that got to me, ’cause someone found a place, Although they slept with beasts and not with others of their race.
According to the tale we’re told, they slept beneath a star And shepherds brought their lambs to see and kings came from afar. They gathered where the Baby lay, beside the ox and ass, While angels sang above, they knelt in wonder on the grass.
Now, that’s a lovely story that the world will celebrate… And then go back to living in their prejudice and hate. They look askance at strangers if they wear a different skin… I wonder if the Babe returned, if they would let Him in?
You know, I have to wonder, if there’s any point at all, In putting presents on the tree or trimming up the hall Unless they feel the Christmas spirit bringing love and peace And know that it is in their hearts hostilities must cease.
I know, I’m just a small dog and my voice will not be heard, I’m only good for cuddles and to chase a ball or bird. But maybe when you visit you could tell them while they sleep And give them just a bit of your compassion they could keep.
It would be nice to think it could be Christmas every day (Without the preparations and the bills they have to pay) But being gentle with each other, giving Love a place Within their hearts and in the smiles they’d wear upon their face.
My review of Pass the Turkey: The Small Dog’s Christmas
Pass the Turkey: The Small Dog’s Christmas is a delightful book full of Christmas cheer. Ani, the small dog, is reflecting on Christmas’ past, present and future through a combination of letters to Santa and poems. The perplexities of ‘fake’ Santas, the ‘theft’ of a favourite sofa, and gifts of tennis balls and a chicken flavoured biscuit, all require Ani’s consideration. Her naughty secrets are also revealed such as the time she ate all the left over turkey and salmon and fell through the ice in the pond [it was shallow]. The indignities of baths and having to wear reindeer antlers are also shared.
Join Ani and her two legs, Sue Vincent, for a glorious romp through advent and Christmas Day.
A few of my favourite verses: “I’ve tried to help with household chores, I’ve laundered all my balls, I’ve chased the pigeons form the shed And spiders from the walls.” from Request
“She’s like a puppy when it snows We just go out to play… And if she wraps up warm enough We might stay out all day.” from Wishing for the White Stuff
“The windows are all closed at night The keyhole seems to small To wriggle through with turkey And a brand new tennis ball.” from Chimneys.
You can purchase Pass the Turkey: The Small Dog’s Christmas here:
Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire born writer currently living in the south of England, largely due to an unfortunate incident with a map, a pin and a blindfold. Raised in a spiritually eclectic family she has always had an unorthodox view on life, particularly the inner life, which is often reflected in her writing, poetry and paintings.
She maintains a popular blog, https://scvincent.com and is currently owned by Ani, the inimitable Small Dog, who also writes.
Sue lived in France for several years, sharing a Bohemian lifestyle and writing songs before returning to England where the youngest of her two sons was born. She began writing and teaching online several years ago, and was invited to collaborate with Dr G. Michael Vasey on their book, “The Mystical Hexagram: The Seven Inner Stars of Power”.
Since then she has published a number of books, beginning with “Swords of Destiny”, a magical tale set in the ancient landscape of Yorkshire. Her retelling of the Egyptian myths, “The Osiriad”, came shortly afterwards along with her collaboration with Stuart France. Together they have written the Triad of Albion, the Doomsday trilogy and the first books in the Lands of Exiles series.
These books tell a true adventure in a fictional manner. They are at once a journey into the ancient and sacred landscape of Albion and the story of a growing and rather oddball friendship.
The Triad of Albion was followed by the Doomsday trilogy and France and Vincent are now working on the three books in the Lands of Exile series, where the adventures of Don and Wen stray down the paths of fiction.
They have also published a number of graphic works together exploring folklore and legend, as well as writing independently. https://franceandvincent.com/
Sue, along with Steve Tanham and Stuart France, is a Director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness, an international modern Mystery School that seeks to allow its students to find the inherent magic in living and being. https://thesilenteye.co.uk
About Robbie Cheadle
Robbie Cheadle has published nine books for children and one poetry book. She has branched into writing for adults and young adults and, in order to clearly separate her children’s books from her adult books, is writing for older readers under the name Roberta Eaton Cheadle.
Robbie Cheadle’s Sir Chocolate children’s picture books are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision. Her books for older children also incorporate recipes that are relevant to the storylines.
Roberta Eaton Cheadle’s supernatural stories combine fabulous paranormal elements with fascinating historical facts.
Children’s picture books – available as a square book and an A5 book (co-authored with Michael Cheadle): Sir Chocolate and the strawberry cream story and cookbook Sir Chocolate and the baby cookie monster story and cookbook Sir Chocolate and the sugar dough bees story and cookbook Sir Chocolate and the Condensed Milk River story and cookbook Sir Chocolate and the Sugar Crystal Caves story and cookbook Sir Chocolate and the Fondant Five story and cookbook Sir Chocolate and the Ice Cream Rainbow Fairies story and cookbook
Middle school books: Silly Willy Goes to Cape Town (includes five fun party cake ideas) While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with Elsie Hancy Eaton)
Poetry book: Open a new door (co-authored with Kim Blades)
Supernatural fantasy YA novel: Through the Nethergate
Horror Anthologies (edited by Dan Alatorre): Spellbound Nightmareland Dark Visions
Paranormal Anthologies (edited by Kaye Lynne Booth): Spirits of the West Whispers of the Past
Murder mystery Anthology (edited by Stephen Bentley) Death Among Us
Want to be sure not to miss any of Robbie’s “Treasuring Poetry” segments? Subscribe to Writing to be Read for e-mail notifications whenever new content is posted or follow WtbR on WordPress. If you found it interesting or entertaining, please share.
I want to start by telling you that I have been a very good girl this past year. I’ve done everything I was supposed to. I always wear a mask in public and I try to stay at least six feet away from anyone around me. That’s not always easy to do when you’re in a store with people shopping up and down the aisles, but I have done my best, ordering many things online and only going into public when absoloutly necessary. And I sanitize my hands, my wallet, any cards that I used and anything I purchased, after every place that I go.
I’ve tried to give back, through the2020 WordCrafter Stay in Place Virtual Writing Conference, which WordCrafter hosted in April, when Covid 19 first began to spread and we were all ordered to stay in our homes and we were all still trying to figure out and adjust to the “new normal”. It was a great event, with twenty-two authors offering instruction and advice in live lectures, interactive workshops and panel discussions, and we had a pretty good virtual turn-out, and it provided an opportunity for all of my fellow authors to interact, learn and socialize virtually, as they would have had all in-person events not been cancelled, so I feel like I may have done a good turn for my profession.
Also in April, WordCrafter Press released the Ask the Authors anthology. This anthology is a great writing reference, where authors and potential authors can turn to find writing advice from seventeen different authors, because we don’t all write in the same way. Thank goodness. In October, we had another release, Spirits of the West, which is the anthology resulting from the 2020 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest. More recently, these anthologies and all WordCrafter Press books are now available in print, which not only helps me, but all the other contributing authors with increased chance of sale.
In addition to publishing my short story collection, Last Call and Other Short Fiction, and my paranormal mystery novella, Hidden Secrets, WordCrafter also aided two new authors to bring their work into fruition. Pastor James Richards of the Christian Cable Ministries television program, Raise the Tide, just released his new devotional collection, Raise the Tide, and author Arthur Rosch will be releasing his massive volume of poetry and photgraphy, Feral Tenderness, in early January. I’ve got some great things cooking for next year, too, like the WordCrafter Book Blog Tours or The 2021 WordCrafter Short Fiction Contest, but I guess it’s too early to count those as good deeds, since I haven’t done them yet.
In years past, I’ve asked you for many things, mostly tools which I can use in my writing. This past year, I’ve been collecting the equipment needed to move into the audio and video realms, and I’m hoping to create a podcast with paid subscriber content, to enhance the Writing to be Read blog, so this year you may be expecting me to ask for a new video camera, or the extra money I need to put the podcast together, but that’s not what I’m going to ask for.
The past year has been a rough one for me, I’ll admit. Due to various life circumstances, I found myself unable to complete my B.S. in Marketing, which would have been completed in the spring of this coming year. But, as I look around me, I see local business owners shutting down their doors, people out of work and homeless, people grieving at the loss of their loved ones, and I realize that this damn virous hasn’t really been kind to anyone. Although I’ve had to make many adaptions to function while governments strive to get it under control, it has effected many others more harshly than it has effected me. I still have my home, my business and my health, and I am thankful for that, but there are so many out there this year who don’t. There are many out there whose needs make my own feel small and trivial. Between the virous and all the wild fires and riots of 2020, there are many out there who have lost everything and are attempting to start to build again.
So, this year, Santa, I’m asking that you deliver to those folks whatever it is they need to fill this Christmas with hope and make things a little easier for them. I know that in the end, I’ll be okay. So, this year, take care of those less fortunate than I. I’m a survivor. I’ve got a plan. 😉
Merry Christmas, Santa!
Kaye Lynne Booth, M.F.A.
P.S. I will still leave the regular milk and cookies out, if you just want to stop in for a bite on Christmas eve. That sleigh travel can be hungry work. I’ll leave a few ears of corn on the roof for the reindeer, too. 😉
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When my kids were little, we didn’t have a lot of money, and many Christmases when there was nothing under the tree for me. It didn’t matter as long as there was something for each of my kids to open. To me, the joy of Christmas is in giving and making others happy. With twelve grandchildren, I haven’t always been able to do that, but this Christmas I was able to get a little something for my kids and for each one of my grandchildren. It wasn’t anything much, but it isn’t what I gave them that matters, as long as it puts a smile on their faces when they open them up on Christmas day.
This holiday is supposed to be a celebration of the birth of Jesus, right? When I was a girl, I believed that since Jesus is in heaven now, we couldn’t give him birthday gifts, so we gave gifts to each other instead. As I grew older, I found that giving gifts made me feel good inside. I came to understand that we give to each other in tribute to the greatest gift of all. The spirit of Christmas is about love, and kindness, and giving.
When watching the goings on that occur at this time of year, one can’t help but see that it has evolved into more of a commercialized celebration of materialism. The pre-Christmas hype starts even before Thanksgiving, as all the brands compete for our attention. Buy! Buy! Buy! We find ourselves competing with our neighbors to see who has the best and brightest decorative display in our yards, or give the most expensive gifts. We wait in lines through the wee hours of the night, just to ascertain that we get the best deals of the year on Black Friday, and some are willing to do bodily harm if necessary, in order to reach that goal. We’re all so busy keeping up with the Kardashians and emulating our favorite Hollywood icons that we’ve lost sight of the true spirit of Christmas.
We had a recent death in our family this past year, which brought together family who hadn’t seen one another in many years, and served as a reminder of how quickly things can change. It’s important to let those we care about know it while we can, because they could be gone from this life in the blink of an eye. We don’t have to give the latest video game systems or state-of-the-art tablets. We don’t have to buy the most expensive doll in the store or the deluxe gift box set. We can’t always be with all those who are dear to us on Christmas, but even a Christmas card with a lottery ticket inside, or a pocket knife, or a $5 gift basket, can let someone know that we are thinking of them, even if we can’t be with them in person. When they open it, they think of us and the knowledge that we love them and their feelings for us are what generates smiles, not the gift inside the wrappings. The love behind the gift always shines through, and that’s what gives us that good feeling inside. And that is the true spirit of Christmas.
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Dan Alatorre’s Santa Maybe is a delightful tale that will make you believe in the magic of Christmas at any age. This story is brief, but it will keep you smiling all the way through. A brief trip to the store and a bearded man in a red shirt lead a dad and his daughter to ask, “Could it be?” What they discover may not definitively resolve the existence of Santa Claus, but it proves that the magic of Christmas is real and everlasting. This is a great seasonal feel good story to brighten the holidays and capture the Christmas spirit in all of us.
Some stories you just judge by the way they make you feel inside. I give Santa Maybe five quills.
Kaye Lynne Booth does honest book reviews on Writing to be Read in exchange for ARCs. Have a book you’d like reviewed? Contact Kaye at kayebooth(at)yahoo(dot)com.
It was two nights before Christmas, a cold and cloudy day
When the Roundy Twins thought of a new idea for play
Into Sir Chocolate’s Chocolatier, the naught pair snuck
And found his sweet decorating tools; for them a bit of luck
They spent the long winter’s evening, having a lot of fun
And admired their handiwork, when they were quite done
They had painted the town with Sir Chocolate’s edible-paint
The tubes were all empty, they had painted without restraint
Pictures and graffiti adorned every house in town’s walls
They’d been to the local market and sprayed all the stalls
And the stage in the park, was full of paint and a mess
The twins were shocked at how it looked, I must confess
They felt some remorse, the annual play was on Christmas Eve
They’d painted all the props, not one did they miss and leave
Now that they had finished, they knew they’d been bad
The concert would be ruined, and their friends would be sad.
Bright and early the next day, Sir Chocolate heard a knock
He was hoping to sleep late, but could not the loud sound block
Mr Christmas Pudding and Miss Christmas Cracker were at his door
They were really upset, their tears made puddles on the floor
They’d been preparing for months, for this Christmas event
The invitations to the townspeople had already been sent
“We’ll have to cancel the show and it is such a shame”
“We can’t carry on now; without props it won’t be the same!”
A short while later, Constable Licorice joined them for tea
Everyone helping clean up, was the only plan he could see
He and Sir Chocolate walked about town, looking for clues
It didn’t do them any good, only wore out their shoes
Of the irresponsible trouble makers, no trace could they find
When discovered, they’d get a piece of Constable Licorice’s mind
Signs asking for information, were put up all around the town
Passersby read them with interest, then shook their heads with a frown
The towns people rallied round, and worked extremely hard
The culprits, once caught, from the concert would be barred
It took all day, and everyone was feeling really tired
There was so much to do, some extra help had been hired
Sir Chocolate was amazed at how the mess disappeared
The stage and props looked fine when the paint had been cleared
The town’s people sat down to enjoy a picnic on the grass
And to their great cleaning effort, they all raised a glass
Mr Christmas Pudding and his friends all the concert tickets sold
Miss Christmas Cracker performed and was a sight to behold
At the end of the play, the crowd gave a standing ovation
Which the performers on stage, received with great elation
The next day, Sir Chocolate was awoken early once again
Mrs Roundy had come to visit and her boys behavior explain
She had seen them mopping around, looking most upset
Their naughty and destructive actions, they both did regret
Constable Licorice and the boys had a long conversation
Sweeping the street clean of snow, became their obligation
In this way they made amends for their naughty silliness
They knew the results of their actions, had been quite serious
Each promised they’d never write graffiti on walls again
This was one form of art from which they’d always abstain
They spread the news to their younger siblings and friends
They felt it was the least they could do, to try and make amends
By Robbie and Michael Cheadle
About Robbie Cheadle
Hello, my name is Robbie, short for Roberta. I am an author with six published children’s picture books in the Sir Chocolate books series for children aged 2 to 9 years old (co-authored with my son, Michael Cheadle), one published middle grade book in the Silly Willy series and one published preteen/young adult fictionalised biography about my mother’s life as a young girl growing up in an English town in Suffolk during World War II called While the Bombs Fell (co-authored with my mother, Elsie Hancy Eaton). All of my children’s book are written under Robbie Cheadle and are published by TSL Publications.
I have recently branched into adult and young adult horror and supernatural writing and, in order to clearly differential my children’s books from my adult writing, I plan to publish these books under Roberta Eaton Cheadle. My first supernatural book published in that name, Through the Nethergate, is now available.
I have participated in a number of anthologies:
Two short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Dark Visions, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre;
Three short stories in Death Among Us, an anthology of murder mystery stories, edited by Stephen Bentley;
Three short stories in #1 Amazon bestselling anthology, Nightmareland, a collection of horror stories edited by Dan Alatorre; and
Two short stories in Whispers of the Past, an anthology of paranormal stories, edited by Kaye Lynne Booth.
I also have a book of poetry called Open a new door, with fellow South African poet, Kim Blades.
Every month, science fiction and horror writer Jeff Bowles offers advice to new and aspiring authors. Nobody ever said this writing thing would be easy. This is your pep talk.
The holiday season brings a lot with it. Presents, pie, turkey, presents. I like presents, always have. Not just receiving them, though when I was a kid, that was the absolute pinnacle. I also like to give, which is why in this month’s Pep Talk, I’m giving the gift of solace, a little thing called the holiday writer’s blues, or as you might know it in the common tongue, loneliness.
It creeps up on us when we least expect it. Christmas, New Years, Thanksgiving. Like a perfect trifecta of sadness and stress, unbidden yet punctual, the same time every year, and it can be a bummer for people who don’t have anyone special in their lives. Most fortunately, and thank God this is the case, I’ve never had to be alone for the holidays. I’ve got a very loving family, a loving wife, but even so, there have been occasions when I’ve had to do the one thing I don’t want to do when everyone else is decking the halls, drinking eggnog, and crushing into department stores to return those awful socks.
Writing is both a noun and a verb, and so, it turns out, is the word writer. If you consider yourself a writer in the subjective sense, you are perhaps the thing not doing the thing, potential energy instead of energy realized. In the active sense, though, you’re a writer who is, you know, as energized as a red-nosed reindeer. Regularly, it is to be hoped. If you follow the Pep Talk, you’re familiar with my attitude toward cutting yourself a break and taking time away from the craft whenever you need it. I hate seeing writers burn out, and I’ve seen it a lot.
If for the holidays you find you have to put the laptop down and decompress after a long year of hard work, I say go for it, no shame necessary. In fact, if a writer feels the need to take months or even years off, I don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t. We practice a unique and distinguished artform, one which engages the intellect as well as the emotional center. Sometimes you need to feed your creative engine rather than letting it burn, and burn, and burn. If you can do that comfortably, while at the same time allowing yourself the freedom to recognize your desire to write is safe and sound right where you left it, then to my mind you really have the best of both worlds, because you’re the writer who writes, but only when your mind and emotions are strong, fresh, and ready enough to make it possible.
But sometimes we’ve got to work on Christmas, right? Or on any other holiday. If there’s one thing young writers learn pretty quickly, it’s that solitude is essential to the craft. But it can in fact get lonesome. Especially during a time of year traditionally reserved for friends and loved ones. So how do we work when all we really want to do is socialize and rest? How do we keep those words flowing, locked up in our writing spaces with the door closed, about as merry as a stocking full of coal?
It comes down to this: ambition is costly, and sometimes, we must choose our dreams over our immediate desires. Again, if you’re seriously in need of a break, I say take one. In any other case, though, it’s for the best if you can produce every day, or damn near every day. This season is meant to be about love and a deeper kind of appreciation. So appreciate yourself properly. Follow your dreams whenever you can, as steadfast and as boldly as you can, because to do the opposite cultivates regret. I hate regret. It’s like opening a big box with a big bow only to find novelty gas relief pills inside. I did that to my brother one Christmas, by the way. He laughed. Sort of.
The most basic thing to provide yourself, not just in the month of December, but throughout the whole year, is a daily word count limit. Now, it may seem prudent to make that limit high. A lot of writers like to do a bare minimum 2,000 words per day. That’s a great habit to get into if you can manage it, but in the long run, depending on your proclivity for exhaustion, it might turn into a liability. For the holiday season, at least, I’d recommend dropping your daily word count goal to something more manageable.
For instance, in my general daily habit, I’ve started writing a scant 430 words per day. That’s nothing, a half-hour commitment at most. But at that pace, I can lay down just over 3,000 words per week, which works out to almost 157,000 words per year. Now I don’t know about you, but to me that’s a pretty good sum total. In other words, you could literally write two whole standard-length novels in a year if you write for just a half an hour every single day.
Now in terms of the holidays, an easy half-hour commitment allows you to enjoy the festivities and skip the Quasimodo act. Sanctuary! Sanctuary! You could even fit in some revisions or edits between that first football game and the precise hour and minute your uncle starts snoring on the couch. The other good news with such a low word count goal is that it’s common to overshoot the target, which means in a year’s time, you’ll have written far beyond that 157,000 word benchmark. If it suits your needs, just pull back a little. You can still be productive, be the writer doing the writing, the thing doing the thing, without behaving like a hermit.
I can offer another piece of advice here, ironically the exact opposite of what I’ve told you thus far. I know, that tricksy Bowles and his tricksy ways. Yet this might help you deal with unavoidable loneliness directly. I’m not the first guy to suggest it, and I sort of wish it weren’t the case, but it’s possible the only way to combat the holiday blues is to work even harder than you normally do.
Now I wouldn’t recommend this for someone with a lot of family obligations, but look, workaholism is a thing because it actually can be effective on some basic emotional level. To paraphrase the Christian aphorism, idle hands (occasionally) do the work of loneliness. Sometimes it does no good to stay stuck in your head. Maybe try expressing yourself and your feelings on the page. Pour that pent-up stuff into whatever you’re working on, and don’t be afraid to get real about it. As Ernest Hemingway said, writing isn’t hard. What you do is sit at the typewriter and bleed. Now, I’m not suggesting you bleed all over your nice, brand-new, Santa’s workshop custom Dell notebook, but look, people choose to soothe themselves in a lot of ways, some of which are pretty unhealthy. Writing a whole bunch? It’s not the worst thing you can do to yourself.
Loneliness sucks. So if you’re doing it to yourself by working too hard, or conversely, if you don’t have a choice about it because at this point in your life, you really do feel alone, adjusting your regular work routine may be the ticket to feeling a bit more jolly this season. Don’t overdo it. That’s all I ask. Look after yourself first and foremost. I really do mean that. And don’t forget that nice shiny sense of pride and fulfillment. This is a high calling, after all. Maybe not as high as buying Jeff Bowles some presents, but you know, pretty high.
By the way, that’s:
1234 Nowhere Street
Care of the Grinch living on top of the mountain
All right, everyone. Thanks for reading, and Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night. Now for some John Lennon! War is over, if you want it. The war within yourself, that is. Cheers!
Jeff Bowles is a science fiction and horror writer from the mountains of Colorado. The best of his outrageous and imaginative short stories are collected in Godling and Other Paint Stories, Fear and Loathing in Las Cruces, and Brave New Multiverse. He has published work in magazines and anthologies like PodCastle, Tales from the Canyons of the Damned, the Threepenny Review, and Dark Moon Digest. Jeff earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in creative writing at Western State Colorado University. He currently lives in the high-altitude Pikes Peak region, where he dreams strange dreams and spends far too much time under the stars. Jeff’s new novel, God’s Body: Book One – The Fall, is available on Amazon now!