The One About Christmas

IMG_20171219_113631We are always so busy this time of the year, and yet I often think our hearts long for simpler days. A little peace, a little comfort and joy. And love, too, of course. All of which may get lost in all the hustle and bustle of baking and buying, cleaning and planning. In our rush to give, we sometimes just plumb give out!

But I have something for you, and I hope you have a few moments to give it a read. It’s a story from Pearl S. Buck called “Christmas Day in the Morning,” and it will surely lift your weary heart.

And if you have twelve minutes, then maybe you can have a hot cup of tea and listen and watch this same story here. Either way, I hope you’ll feel it’s been worth your time.

And happy, happy Christmas to you all from me and Libs!


Happy Christmas from Mr. C, Dolly, and Me

pexels-photo-250175I always think of Perry Como at Christmas.

My dad loved Perry and so I watched Mr. C’s shows–in black and white; yes, I’m that old–and even after I left my parents’ home, I watched the Christmas specials in living color. It just wasn’t Christmas if I missed Perry!

Good, old Perry, gone these fifteen years. I miss him. And this year, I’m missing Dad, and Mom, too. And I miss the Beneficent Mr. Hall, who basically sat on the couch from December 1st on while I ran around like the holiday Little Red Hen, doing everything.

Hard to believe I miss that, but yeah, I even miss Mister Man ditching his holiday duties.

So it’s a little bit of a hard candy Christmas here at the Hall House. But like Dolly sings, I won’t let sorrow get me down. Because you know what I’m not missing? The love of Christ and family and friends far and near. I’ve got lots of love walking with me this Christmas and that’s still about the best gift ever.

And so for those of you having any kind of a hard time this holiday, I’m sending a special song, from Mr. C. himself, singing in one of his very early–yes, it’s in black and white–Christmas specials. You’ll never walk alone, friends.

Happy Christmas!




Fun Friday Find: Christmas Kitchen Towel Greetings!

First, I found A Southern Christmas kitchen towel and it was perfect!

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And then I had to get Southern Christmas towels for all my relatives and found another kitchen towel and it was also perfect! But I couldn’t afford to buy a gazillion Booklover’s Christmas kitchen towels for all of you. So consider this Fun Friday your Merry Christmas greeting, from my blog to yours! (I’ll be thinking of you when I dry the dishes. Well, technically, I make the Junior Halls wash and dry the dishes for our feast, but while I’m enjoying a bit of grog and watching the Junior Halls clean up, I’ll raise a glass and say, in a snobby, literary, not to mention British accent, “God bless us, everyone!” and then, I’ll be thinking of you.)

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Things-To-Do Lists and Prioritizing and The Grinch and Me

You know I’m a crazy list-er, right? (Or you know now–)

I list goals for the year, the month, the weeks, and daily goals, too.  I’m sure, if you’re not a list-er, it sounds like a lot of work. But I’m so used to thinking in terms of “Things To Do” that I get a little anxious if Monday rolls around and I can’t find my list of “Writing Things to Do.”

So you would think I’d get anxious when life interrupts the goals and the lists, right? But I don’t. Maybe it’s because I have The Junior Halls, and it’s impossible to always stay on track when kids (yes, even grown ones who refuse to pose decently for one lousy picture) are around. Maybe it’s because I’m a woman of a certain age. Women of a certain age seem calmer, less Oh-my-Lord-we’re-all-gonna-die-if-I-don’t-get-this-done and more Oh-my-Lord-we’re-what-was-I-trying-to-get-done?

But I think the most likely reason of all (to quote my favorite Dr. Seuss,  How The Grinch Stole Christmas) is not that my heart is two sizes too small, but that I’m pretty good at prioritizing. This past month has been hectic, what with my mom taking a spill, and me zipping back and forth to Savannah, and Thanksgiving hoopla and I don’t know what all. So. I’m just now getting to piled-up emails and manuscripts I thought I’d finish long before the end of the month.

And that’s okay. Folks are usually pretty understanding when you finally email them back. And the manuscripts will get finished, maybe by the end of December.

Maybe not. Which is my very long way of saying that I’m on a sort of semi-vacation during December because family and Christmas take priority. It’s possible that you may not see as much of me on the blog or your blogs.

Plus, you know I have this lazy streak, right? (Or you know now.)

Finding The Christmas Village Just in Time!

Oh, I’m so excited to have Melissa Goodwin here today as part of her WOW! Blog Tour! She’s the author of a delightful middle grade novel called The Christmas Village, and she’s generously giving away a copy to one of my lucky commenters! Plus, she’s generously sharing her tips for entering the children’s magazine market! (I know that’s a lot of exclamation points, but I’m really excited.) So, heeeeere’s Melissa!

I began writing for children’s magazines about 10 years ago, after spending almost 30 years working in a corporate environment.  After having focused so long on honing taut business writing skills, writing for kids demanded that I loosen up and rediscover a sense of playfulness in my writing style. I also wanted to build a resume that would later show agents and publishers that I had worked hard at my craft, persisted and succeeded. Since then, more than 50 of my stories, articles and poems have been published in children’s magazines and my middle grade novel, The Christmas Village, has just been released. I’d like to share some resources I used and some steps I took to get started, in the hopes that they will boost you along your writing path too.


Resources to Help You Get Started

Today, there are many blogs and websites with information for writers in every genre. But the two that helped me the most continue to be at the top of my list for writers trying to enter the children’s market: This site has a terrific archive of helpful “how to” articles and videos, from which I mined a tremendous amount of information. They also have an e-zine called Children’s Book Insider, which provides market leads.

SCBWI: Similarly, The Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators has a newsletter with publishing leads and articles about writing for kids, along with information about the market.  

Figuring Out Where to Submit Your Work

I put this before “Figuring Out What to Write,” because many magazines provide Theme Lists that are a huge help with that part – it’s great when you don’t have to guess what a magazine might want! So here are my suggestions for finding magazines to target:

Go to and search on children’s magazines. You’ll get a comprehensive list,.

Pick the magazines that seem like the best fit for you, based on the age group you’re interested in writing for and the type of writing you’d like to do (fiction, non-fiction, poetry).

Order several sample issues of each magazine.

Study the stories and articles. I mean really study them. Make note of the tone – is it light and fun, or a little more serious? How many words is a typical piece? Does there seem to be a consistent  format to the articles?

Get the Theme List, if they have one.


Figuring Out What to Write

I wrote many pieces for the Fun for Kidz family of magazines, which consists of Fun for Kidz, Boys’ Quest and Hopscotch for Girls. This gave me the chance to write for both boys and girls. Sometimes I came up with ideas for their themes right away, but often I came up blank. One theme was “Fun with Rocks,” and I thought, I’ll never come up with anything for that! Then I did a search on “famous rocks.”  The next thing I knew, I’d sold an article called, “If These Rocks Could Talk,” about The Blarney Stone, The Stone of Scone and The Black Stone of Mecca.  So, if you don’t have an idea right away, don’t give up! If I could write about rocks, you can probably write about sticks!

 There’s so much more that we could talk about here, but I hope that some of what I’ve shared will help you along your path to writing and publishing your work in the children’s market. I look forward to hearing your thoughts and continuing the conversation.

GREAT tips from someone who knows her stuff! And now, I’ve just got to share a little something something about Melissa and The Christmas Village.

I don’t always get my copy of a book that’s on tour in time to read it, but Melissa sent The Christmas Village early and I’m so glad! It’s such a charming story, and a cozy tale that will appeal to all ages. Jamie, a 12-year-old boy, dreams of escaping his troubles and wishes he could live in a simple town like Canterbury, his grandmother’s Christmas village that is spread under her tree. When his wish comes true, Jamie finds that all is not so calm and bright in the village, and it’s up to Jamie and his new friends to make a happy Christmas for all. And then Jamie is ready to go home again. But how?

I know you’ll enjoy this holiday story! It’s a fun mystery, and a perfect read for a winter’s night. Oh! And Melissa has promised to stop by today if you have anyquestions about entering the children’s magazine market, or writing a novel, or…you know what? I bet she’ll answer just about any question you have. Hmmm…maybe I’ll ask her what I’m getting for Christmas!

(P.S. You can get your own signed copy of The Christmas Village for the holidays if you leave a comment! I’ll draw a winner this time, next week!)