Merry Christmas!

I’ve torn myself away from potato peeling, present wrapping and blowing my nose (yes the dreaded lurgi has reached our household) to do something for me this Christmas Eve; wish all of you a Merry Christmas!  I don’t think I can ever remember a Christmas Day where I’ve woken up to snow and although I’ve been cursing the stuff all week – and its ability to send my Christmas preparations into mayhem – I can’t wait to wake up to a white Christmas and the squeal of my boys when they find their presents from Father Christmas!

And in between the chaos of roasting turkey, fighting competitively on Mario Kart Wii, refereeing family feuds – and that’s not just the kids (!) – and consuming more than my body weight in Cadbury’s Heroes I’m going to find some time to read.  Actually the latter and reading will go very well together… 

So here’s my Christmas TBR pile.  Sue Moorcroft’s Love Writing I’ve been reading for a couple of weeks and I’m finding immensely useful in the preparations of my rewrites of my first novel – how have I got this far without identifying the ‘type’ of Hero and Heroine I have?  And who knew there were so many?  If you want to learn Alpha and Beta male heroes or Heroine’s on a mission I suggest you sneak this onto your belated-Christmas-present-list! 

Julie Cohen has been fantastically helpful to me in the art of trying to write a novel this year for which I can’t thank her enough.  She led the Cornerstones Writing Womens’ Commercial Fiction course  I attended in September and has been on call for all the idiosyncratic queries I’ve needed answering ever since.  I really enjoyed reading Nina Jones and the Temple of Gloom back in the summer so I’m going to indulge in Girl from Mars to accompany my evenings of mulled wine drinking.  Yes, I have three children.  I don’t get out much. 

But today, to get me in the festive spirit, I’ve read a passage from one of my favourite books Cider with Rosie by Laurie Lee.  As some of you will know my father is a generation down from Laurie Lee and also grew up in the Cotswold idyll of Slad near Stroud in Gloucestershire.  In fact I grew up the next valley across and I love to read this collection of stories and evoke the memories of Lee’s countryside in my mind.  But nothing feels quite like Christmas to me like reading Lee’s musing of his time Carol Singing or ‘Carol Barking’ as he refers to it:

By instinct we knew just when to begin it; a day too soon and we should have been unwelcome, a day too late and we should received lean looks from people whose bounty was already exhausted.  When the true moment came, exactly balanced, we recognised it and were ready…  Our first call as usual was the house of the Squire, and we trouped nervously down his drive.  For light we had candles in marmalade-jars suspended on loops of string, and they threw pale gleams on the towering snowdrifts that stood on each side of the drive.

Laurie Lee, Cider with Rosie, ‘Winter and Summer’

I hope you all enjoy your Christmas celebrations and find a little time for some indulgent reading of your own.  Here’s hoping Father Christmas brings everything you wish for –  I’m hoping for Sean-Bean-in-a-Box again this year.  Past experience suggests I might be disappointed…

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