By the time many of you are reading this, it will be Christmas Day. I am currently spending time with my family and my sister, who I visited last month, has returned the favor and come down to join us this month. I hope that all of you have a lovely Christmas Day with your loved ones. Even those of you who are not Christians or who do not celebrate this holiday might appreciate the day off from work and the general spirit of peace and friendliness that is an expected item of this season.
Every little kid is told you have to be good at least once or you won’t get ANY gifts. (This is one of the reasons peace and friendliness become so common this time of year, as many people clock in their last-minute acts of kindness. 😊) And the holidays are one of the few times of year when people lay off some of their disdain for talking about money. After all, we all know someone less fortunate than we are and this is a time of year when we reflect on it. Even in our own families, some people are able to afford more or nicer or newer gifts to give, while others simply give what they can. And I know in my own family there is never any jealousy, backstabbing, or pride about that. It doesn’t matter WHAT you get. It’s that someone cared enough to give you a sign of affection and love.
That’s what Christmas is all about—doing what you can, not competing with others, is what matters. Christ, whose birth is celebrated during this holiday, once praised a woman who was very poor. But she still gave the tiny amount that she was able—a mite, in fact—to the temple. He approved of her more than many who gave bigger gifts that meant little to them. Because for her, that tiny donation was a true sacrifice and a sign of her love for God.
During this season, churches offer chances to donate gifts to charities around town. Our church has a display for several charities with a Christmas tree for each one and every year we buy a little gift to give to a stranger--someone unknown. They need basic pajamas and personal care items, T-shirts and sports clothes for youth events, gift cards for supplies and food, winter clothes—and God. When people are cold and selfish to others, their chance to reflect God’s nature is lost. Instead, the less fortunate see a world that doesn’t care about them and a God who is far away. Deep inside, many of us feel we’re the “less fortunate” at times. Almost everyone knows someone who they think is doing better than they are. It’s hard to admit someone might see US as fortunate and it takes humility to accept that and give what we can even if we feel we are not doing as well as we’d like.
After all, this is a bad world. Nobody is doing as well as they should. Nobody is perfect. And nobody has an excuse not to care about the person next to them.
My book The Birthday Present is about a tough world (think post-apocalyptic) with a lot of income disparity. But that doesn’t mean all hope is lost—especially when people you didn’t expect to be the good guys turn out to surprise you. 😊
Life after the apocalypse is supposed to be simple.
World collapse is absolutely bad news. A disaster of the worst order. And when it was generated by the rising of engineered mutants who created an autocracy whose sole purpose seems to be to trample on humans, it's inevitable that the world is filled with so many injustices you lose track of counting them on your fingers. Humans are also said to be extinct. And mutants are supposedly oppressors, never victims. Oh, and mutants are never out to get each other, only humans. In short, there can be a lot of assumptions about the distant future.
The one thing that is certain, though, is that some people in this bleak world have a lot more money than others. In this pair of novelettes, two girls (Lucy a human and Alyce a mutant) find themselves tangled up with the rich and famous of the millennium following ours. Lucy is a bubbly and reckless girl who befriends every boy she meets and Alyce is patient and tolerant to an extreme. But Lucy has a little nefarious scheme under her sleeve and Alyce, it seems, does have a limit to her patience after someone tries to kill her simply for being related to someone else.
I mean, who wouldn't get annoyed by that, right?
And there will be more updates.
It’s a pretty good bet a lot of you are getting ready for the holidays, right? 😊
Of course, for many Christians like myself (as well as a hefty chunk of Americans who aren’t Christians but celebrate our biggest and most popular holiday anyway) it’s about Christmas. The year-end festival devoted to commemorating Christ’s birth. But by holidays this year I really do mean what I say, because the last 3 weeks have been Thanksgiving, Christmas, and birthday all rolled into one!
Thanksgiving we visited my sister in Oklahoma, as I mentioned last newsletter, and while there we went to see a Christmas lights show and did some ice skating. There was a small rink with very rough ice on the outskirts of the light displays, so the four of us sisters had a lot of fun there. For two of us, including me, it was a first to ever try to put on skates and hobble around the rink as true beginners, gripping the sides for support. I fell on my right side when I got going a little faster and developed a big bruise over the next few days. Lol My married sister said she’s still pretty bad at skating but it appears her husband is a natural—although he didn’t join us to skate that evening, so I didn’t get to see for myself.
Next day they gave me an early birthday gift while attempting to visit a park with a waterfall—Turner Falls. Unfortunately, it was closed. Only 2 days in the year it’s closed and that day was one of them. But I got some really nice pics of the scenery from a distance, climbing around some rocks, and spent some quality time with family as we posed for group pictures. We used to do this years ago, but have not got together to do it for a long time.
Then this Wednesday was my birthday. Yes, I was born the day after Pearl Harbor Day and it seems, from anecdotes, that the doctors who delivered me discussed Pearl Harbor while I was being born. Go figure. 😊 Monday was very close to the day and there was a lovely concert of religious music held at Baylor University by a small student choir. They perform this every year in the Armstrong Browning Library, a simply gorgeous little building dedicated entirely to the poets Robert and Elizabeth Browning. I snapped a few pics of the room and the singers (who are DIMLY VISIBLE in the extreme front of one shot) although the pics just really don’t do it justice. It was a beautiful place and a perfect evening.
Here's a link to a video I took while riding in a horse-drawn carriage. It really captures the sights and sounds of the Christmas lights show.
And here are a few pics from various places I went.
Which brings me to the point—during this holiday season, which is centered around an event meaningful to a particular religion, the thought at hand for everyone is “what do you believe?” Because everyone has a philosophy or religion of some sort. I won’t be presenting any review copies this week since I doubt anyone has time to review for the next couple weeks. But I’ve done a nice, snappy little overhaul of the interior formatting and descriptions for all 11 books. I also added little 5-page teaser scenes about the next installment in the backs of the Palladia Trilogy books, something I'd been needing to do for a while. And I’ll leave you with thoughts about Facets of Fantasy, a book that is all about what the characters believe morally and philosophically. 😊
What do you believe? When it comes to Karl, Don, & Juranai, that's never been in any doubt. Until they run into situations that challenge their beliefs to the core.
For Karl Kallai, like all Medosans, following a path of destructive glory seems inevitable. He's going to chase down the ancient Golden Belt of the Kings no matter what. Visiting the enemy city of Niferna on a diplomatic tour isn't nearly as interesting as searching for magical artifacts. Until the darkness within the things he seeks is challenged by the last person he expected.
Don Tachimant, born in the intergalactic world of the far future, is a skeptic. He believes only in family and government—and as a lawbreaker and a runaway from home, increasingly doesn't believe in those either. When he's dragged back to his family's military school on a secret mission, he finds that great spiritual power is flourishing right under his nose.
Juranai, a grandson of the Wolf-King Thazan, is able to change his form from human to wolf. For enchanted beings like himself, it's natural to believe in the mythical kingdom of Tsayan. But all that is very much in the shadows for Violet Vail, a human from modern Renari. These legends are about as improbable as King Arthur's sword—until a run-in with Juranai leads her straight into the past.
And there will be more updates.
Young Adult Fiction Author
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