Happy Holidays! And the Start of MW Book Giveaway Week!


Welcome to the first installment of MW’s Book Giveaway Week….

So, I have a new project underway.  No, not the historical fantasy I mentioned several weeks ago, but a new one that fell in my lap at the beginning of December, and that I’ve yet to announce publicly on this site.  I am writing the novelization for the Ridley Scott/Russell Crowe/Cate Blanchett “Robin Hood” movie that is coming out in May 2010.  It’s a tremendous opportunity, and also an interesting project, one that I’ll post about eventually, when it’s all over (I’m only allowed to say so much about it right now).  But one of the most “interesting” parts is the timeline for the book.  As I say, I got the gig at the beginning of the month.  I started writing December 3; the book, all 90,000+ words of it, is due January 4.  And despite the fact that last week I listed “Hitting deadlines” as the #1 thing the Ideal Writer does, I won’t be making that deadline.  I will be close, though.  In the two and a half weeks since I started, I’ve written 57,000 words, or 230 pages, which is really fast for me.  In fact, here at MW we call that a Murphian pace…  [Winks at Catie…]

Anyway, my point in all this (yes, there is a point) is that I’m feeling a bit crunched for time right now, particularly with this all happening in the middle of the holidays.  So today’s post will be a bit different and a lot shorter than usual.  Today I’d like to leave the writing to all of you, and to make it interesting, if you offer a comment, and you follow the guidelines (should have thought of this last week — the Ideal Writer ALWAYS follows guidelines specific to a publisher or agency), you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a signed hardcover copy of any one of my books that you’d like (except my very first, CHILDREN OF AMARID, or my most recent, THE HORSEMEN’S GAMBIT, because I don’t have any copies to spare of either).  Still that leaves the second and third books of the LonTobyn Chronicle (THE OUTLANDERS, EAGLE-SAGE), all the books of Winds of the Forelands (RULES OF ASCENSION, SEEDS OF BETRAYAL, BONDS OF VENGEANCE, SHAPERS OF DARKNESS, WEAVERS OF WAR), and the first Southlands book (THE SORCERERS’ PLAGUE).  Your choice.

And what are you supposed to write?  Well, a description of your most memorable Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa/New Year’s, of course.  The guidelines?  Bring in as many of the five senses as you can and adhere to a STRICT 150 word limit.  151 and you won’t be entered in the contest.  And if you think I’m a hard-ass, wait until you start dealing with New York editors….  The book winner will be chosen randomly from those who leave comments and follow the GLs.

Here’s mine:

We lived for a year in Australia, where Christmas, Hanukkah, and New Year’s are Summer holidays.  We spent Christmas day at Wollongong’s North Beach, along with about half the city.  The air was redolent with brine and sun lotion and parking lot barbecues.  Silver Gulls wheeled overhead, their cries blending with the endless roar of breakers and the laughter of a thousand children.  The sun was so bright that it gave the daylight that bleached, almost colorless quality that you get at the beach.  We ate cold prawns and strawberries — the sweetest I’ve ever tasted of either — and salt and vinegar potato crisps.  We played in the cool waves with our boogie boards and on white hot sand with our cricket set — presents from Santa — and finally made our way home, tanned and exhausted and happy.  Best Christmas any of us has ever had.

144 words.  Your turn.  Good luck!

And Happy Holidays to all of you.  Thanks so much for making MW such a unique and vibrant place to post.

David B. Coe





33 comments to Happy Holidays! And the Start of MW Book Giveaway Week!

  • L. Jagi Lamplighter

    Congrats on the new gig, David! Cool~

  • L. Jagi Lamplighter

    Here you go:

    One Christmas, John and I were living in Maryland and we were very poor. We lived in “the hovel” a three-roomed place with an ancient carcinogenic heater.

    On Christmas eve, I found myself teary-eyed. Tomorrow was Christmas, and, we had nothing. No presents and less than two dollars to our name. I commented about this aloud.

    John replied, “We have enough to go down to the all night High’s and buy a hot dog. That’s red. True, there’s no tree, but we could put it under the couch. If we leave it there long enough, it will turn green..”

    I laughed so hard I could hardly breathe. I can’t think of anything less like Christmas than a hot dog, much less one stuck under a couch.

    As it turned out, we had a perfectly wonderful Christmas with John’s mom.

  • I’m not up as a part of the contest, but I have to share my 142 words…

    It was early, dawn still in the thinking-about-it stages as I shuffled to the living room, my footsies dragging on the wood floor with sharp scuffs, the smell of Mama’s biscuits baking warm on the air, and the tang of the tree, piney and prickly to my nose. I knuckled my eyes in the dark, dim, light, hurrying to see if Santa really came. When I reached the room, the tree lights came on all by themselves—-like magic—-red, blue, green, yellow, lighting the walls with a soft glow…and illuminating the mound of presents. Pink stuff was everywhere, and dolls, three of them. One that talked, and one that walked, and a Barbie—a grown up doll. And mama and daddy, laughing and playing with my toys and with me. I was four, and it was the first Christmas I remember.

  • Thank you for that, Faith. Lovely.

  • Welcome, and happy happy, David! (I was a tomboy and wanted a swimming pool and a pony. But the dolls were all good — especially the one that talked!)

  • After my undergraduate degree I lived in Japan for a couple of years. This was in the eighties and in those days though Japan was fascinated by all things Western they tended to be kept separate from “real” life, like they had inverted commas around them. This was particularly true of Christmas which appeared fully formed in shop windows but had (for obvious reasons in a culture with minimal connection to a Christian tradition) no weight in the life of the people. Since this was my first Christmas away from my family, I found it all disorienting and depressing.

    So I opted to ignore Christmas entirely this year and went to Thailand. I spent Christmas day on the back of an elephant in a bamboo forest near Chaing Mai. Oddly enough I stumbled upon a tiny church decked out with lights and found a version of Christmas which suited my mood, clearly strange and foreign but rooted in an actual community which–somehow–connected me with home.

  • Very cool, AJ. Thanks for sharing that. I think that experiencing holidays outside of our normal culture can be enormously enlightening. Disorienting, too, but on the whole I’ve found it a positive experience.

  • Gina St.Phillips

    Christmas Eve night found us in the car at 11:45. I was drowsy, huddled in my staticky coat, bits of hair in my Chapstick – what little Chapstick I hadn’t chewed off. It tasted cold. I breathed damp warmth into my mittens and sniffed at the yarn and the dressed-up-for-church smell of Mom’s lipstick.

    What was unusual was the lack of snow. Also, we were going to a different church where my brothers were playing in band. The service was decidedly un-Catholic, so less work than usual. As we left, my mind was already on tomorrow, which made the big slow fluffs and blanketed white trees a surprise. The lights glowed in a magical way that turned the little church into something perfect and froze it in my memory as the loveliest I’ve seen. We stood for a long time while my chest filled up and my eyes got hot.

  • Okay, I’m jumping in, too. Just for the fun…

    The year my son was three, we were in church waiting for Christmas Eve services to begin. The Beetle was fascinated with the brightly burning candles on the Advent wreath, particularly the large white Christ candle in the center. He kept saying the Baby Jesus would be coming out of that candle. We tried to tell him that there’d be no miraculous appearance, but he didn’t care. We assumed he was confusing the Christ story with Santa Claus, and we laughed in that all-knowing way grownups do. Later on, during Eucharist, we were sitting in our pew waiting for our turn to go up to the altar. The choir was singing softly and all was peaceful. A young woman passed by our pew, carrying her newborn in a soft blue blanket. The Beetle leaped to his feet, pointed at the woman and announced, in a voice loud enough to be heard in heaven, “I told you the Baby Jesus was coming!”

  • Thanks for joining the fun, Gina. Lovely memory.

    And Misty, that’s hilarious! Gave that baby a lot to live up to, didn’t he….?

  • David, no kidding – I imagine that mother tells the story in her own family to this day. Poor old Beetle sure has to hear about it every year when we go home for Christmas. *hee*

  • Well, paraphrasing what we say to our kids all the time…. If you don’t embarrass him, who will?

  • Beatriz

    It was the first Christmas after I converted to Judaism. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I walked through my Nana’s front door. The entire apartment looked like it did every year—a factory of tacky Christmas decorations exploded. Not a surface was free of Santas, reindeers, fake red velvet bows, or snowmen.

    Then I spied beneath the tree a pile of presents wrapped not paper that bore resemblance to a Martian slaughter, but instead pretty blue-and-silver paper.

    My Nana, accepting me for who I am.

    — And LOL, Misty.

  • Beatriz

    *slaps forehead*

    How did I miss this? OMGOMGOMGOMG! David this is amazing and awesome news! *kermit arm-flail*


  • Thanks, B! For the memory and congrats. Yeah, I’m pretty excited about it. And will be even more when it’s done….

  • I’m a sad panda that I didn’t get a chance to add anything. Ah well. Been too busy trying to get Christmas finalized. Maybe I’ll try to post something anyway later.

    Awesome news about the Robin Hood book. When I heard they were doing the movie I thought it was pretty cool, but even cooler that you’re gonna be writing the novelization.

  • What an honor! And 57,000 words already? That is faster than a speeding bullet.

  • Just wanted to add here that I took my son to see Avatar yesterday (great fun BTW) and saw a preview for Robin Hood. When I first heard about another Robin Hood movie (almost a year ago), I thought, Oh no, not again. But knowing you’re writing the novelization and seeing the highlights on the screen, well, I’m suddenly excited to see it and read it. Good luck and Congratulations!

  • At least *somebody* is writing at a Murphian pace around here! 🙂

  • It’s not too late, Daniel. Winners will be announced next week. So feel free to chip in an entry! And thanks for the kind words.

    Thank you, April. Everything I’ve written thus far might be crap, but at least it’s getting done quickly….

    I appreciate that, Stuart. I just saw the trailer for the first time a few days ago, and I thought it looked pretty good.

    LOL, Catie. I’m doing what I can…

  • Squeak

    I can’t imagine writing so fast! Congratulations David and good luck. Word limitations are difficult but here’s my attempt:

    My most memorable Christmas found me on the shores of Hawai’i. The air was heavy with the promise of rain but I refused to stay indoors. The ocean captivated me. The Pacific I knew was dark and cold with a bitter wind. This Pacific was a brilliant aquamarine, like polished gemstones cut to reflect light. I could even spot multicolored angel fish beneath its surface – like magic. The breeze was refreshing and the world was at peace. There were no bells or familiar carols. There were no presents to unwrap and we had no tree. It was perfect and surreal all at once. It didn’t feel like Christmas but at that moment, I didn’t want anything more. Except for maybe a bit more courage as I fumbled for the ring in my pocket, wondering if men felt as nervous as I did just before they proposed.

  • Thanks, Squeak. Up until about four weeks ago, I couldn’t imagine writing this fast either….

    And thanks for the shared memory. Beautiful. And did the proposal go well….?

  • Judy

    One year, my decidedly “Yankee” mom tried to make an “Authentic Virginia Ham” for Christmas.

    When she peeled back the burlap covering, the sight of the mold-covered ham was revolting.

    She followed the complicated directions to the letter and many hours later the house started to smell…of something the dog had dug up and rolled in.

    As per the directions, we set the ham to cool.

    A few minutes later we noticed a long slime-trail of fat slowly creeping its way across the dining room floor. The grease from the ham had oozed over the edge of platter, across the table and down to the floor.

    The ham was so salty, we couldn’t eat it.

    Chinese carry-out never tasted so good!

  • Okay…Yuck!! But a very funny story. I don’t think I’ve ever had a real Virginia ham. Not sure I will, now….

    Thanks, Judy!

  • The grinding of the ended when the spinning silver puck launched out into the game. My hand slammed the paddle back and forth in a feeble attempt to stop the silver rocket from entering my goal.

    With a rattle came a brief defeat. A small cheer resounded. The little brat. I fished the puck from my net and set its points back into the launcher. I started cranking the wheel which set the puck spinning like a top. It spun faster and faster until it couldn’t accelerate any more.

    Quickly, I hit the release and grabbed my paddle. The puck zipped across the game, bouncing off walls. The laughter of my dad and uncles echoed in the basement as I fought to beat my brother. The puck ground to halt in my brother’s net. I glared triumphantly across the game, knowing there were more goals to come, hoping they were of this kind. My brother grabbed the puck and started to spin it again.

    I won, he won, he won, I won. The wins and losses became unimportant. It was the next goal that mattered. I wiped my sweaty palm on my sweats between goals and sipped my drink. The adults had long since drifted back upstairs, uninterested in the unending clash of Rocket Hockey on Christmas Morning. For me it would last forever, somewhere in my mind.

    Happy Holidays, everyone.

  • ack, forgot about the word count. OH well, it was still fun.

  • Fun to read, too. Many thanks for sharing that, Dave.

  • Squeak

    Thanks David! The proposal went well enough, after a fashion. It was much less a proposal and much more a presentation of the ring, which in itself is a funny story. He also makes for a good critic to bounce ideas off of. After reading my entry aloud, he paused and glanced at me, “You didn’t mention smell or taste at all.”

  • Judy

    It took us forever to clean the grease up from the floor and table! Everything we used to try and clean with just seemed to spread it around.

    Now I know where the saying “Slippery as a Greased Pig” comes from.

  • Robin

    Well, you didn’t set a firm deadline, and you didn’t specify the type of writing, so here’s my 11th hour poem…. 🙂 It appears the lines may be a bit broken up:

    The Legion Hall, with tree and all, was packed to overflowing
    With noise and kids and good will, too, which round the room was crowing.

    The “barbeque,” so aptly named, (called “Sloppy Joes” back home),
    Filled the air with tang of beef: a meal all of its own.

    With bellies filled, we sat around on chairs of folding metal
    Whilst warmth through songs of babes and stars upon us all did settle.

    The gift exchange is always… fun, for those who ditch their pride
    For others, though, forced smiles show their gift ought not have tried.

    And I, so new to all this fuss: an implant wanna-be
    Held gift of fluff—which held my ring—as Jerry took his knee….

  • Squeak, having that good critic is crucial.

    Yeah, Judy, pig grease is not fun….

    Robin, thanks for the poem! Wonderful stuff!