12 Lucky Holiday Winners

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Sunday Musings: December 14 2014

Morning All Musers!

Happy Holidays to all. This is the time for so many celebrations. A time of fun and warm feelings. A time for looking back and looking forward. And for some, a time of great sadness.

But as I read the words of my friends and look to those around me, I know it is also a time of wishes and hope.

Strange how this time is also one of the craziest, most stressful times of the year as well.


How do you overcome/handle the stresses of the holiday season?

To make it easier on everyone' s pockets our family only spend between £20 and £25 on each of my eleven grandchildren 39;s Christmas presents and on three of their birthdays on the 12th, 19th and 26th December. If the older children want money to put towards something more expensive I give them £20 plus a small gift to open on Christmas Day. I give the adults small but carefully chosen inexpensive presents.

To avoid a last minute rush I try to finish my Christmas shopping by the 31st November and then wrap up the presents when I have time.

Now that my children are adults with their own families I no longer have to cook Christmas lunch. I visit everyone on Christmas Day to hand out gifts and eat at one of their houses.

During the school holidays I invite each family to lunch so that we can share quality time over an extended festive season.

The Christmas season.

A few years ago our family decided not to purchase gifts, but to give money to charity, or a few charities. I give money to The Healing Cycle. It's an organization that assists hospices in Ontario. I support palliative care.

The kids still get gifts. Little people receive a small gift to open and money to put toward their education.  Starving students and those just starting out receive practical things they need. 

Christmas is all about family and friends getting together. 

DAWN KNOX, author

Christmas is usually fairly stress free in our household, so I don't need to de-stress. However a few years ago, I realised how stressful I found the food shopping in the supermarket, a few days before Christmas. From the parking, to the queuing, everyone seemed to be so fraught - with determined 'get out of my way, I'm Christmas shopping' looks on their faces. So, one Christmas, I made a special effort to keep relaxed and to determine exactly what was causing the stress. There seemed to be a general air of panic although I couldn't pin point why and it also seemed to be infectious, so even when I wasn't in a hurry or needed a specific item, I was starting to behave as if I did.

My solution is now to allow plenty of time when I need to go in the supermarket, so I'm not in a hurry. Then, I give way to people if they are in a hurry to push in front of me and I SMILE (well, they're going to push in front anyway, so I might as well give way!). I smile at everyone and behave as if it really is Christmas. For some reason it seems to defuse things. I'm not really sure if anyone else notices, to be honest, but when I come out of the supermarket, I'm quite relaxed!


How to reduce stress over the Holidays? It's a good question, and I guess I draw my attention toward the 'reason for the season' axiom (be it Christmas, Hannukah or whatever). So I focus on family. My sons' homes are in the same city, so we have brunches on Saturdays, decorate each others' homes, bake specific cookies tailor-made for daughters-in-law, offer to babysit on shopping evenings. But the other thing I do is understand a) that I cannot accomplish everything, and b) don't beat myself up if my writing/editing slows a bit.

Oh! And I make 'sip of wine by the fireplace every now and then' a mandatory event for my wife and me.

These little things seem to work.

Oh, can I write about Holiday Stresses! The amount of extra things we add in to our already crazy writer schedules is nuts. Is my Christmas letter written yet? Nope. Have I purchased all the gifts? No. Fortunately, the family draws for gifts now, and I do have  a gift for one of my SsIL. And this morning, DH said he really needed a new white shirt! So I can handle that. And I ordered Highlights for all three grands. So maybe I’m not too bad off. :)

To combat all the sadness of the world (the homeless, starving, enslaved, hurting people), which for me this holiday magnifies, I have to take the Starfish example. I look at the individual differences I can make: the Angel Tree purchases and the various charities my husband and I contribute to. It’s not everything, but it’s something. Do you give special gifts at this time of year?

Thanks for joining us and see you next week!
 If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at MuseChrisChat@gmail.com

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Sunday Musings: December 7 2014

Happy December Musers! 

It is the holiday season and time for warm fuzzy thoughts to all.

However, writers never stop. We keep writing...if only to silent the voices in our heads (to steal an overused saying). To use another saying, how many of you are familiar with K.I.S.S.? No, not the band but the phrase - keep it simple silly (okay, I know it's supposed to be a different word from, silly, but I'm not using that word ;)

Now simple is good. Actually, keeping it simple is very good. Then there are times you want to bring a feel, smell, or sound to your piece as well. Here you may find a bit more wording works.

So, today's Musings is another writing exercise. Our Muse-authors are using touch, smell, and/or sound to describe colours.

Now what I'm going to attempt is to hide the actual colour being described. All you, hopefully, need to do is cursor over the space between the *  * markings and see if you read the right colour.

Let's get going:

The Aroma of *Red*

Powder-puff rose petals,
spicy persimmon,
the tart taste of ripe apples,
sirens outside my window,
sweet-sour cranberry sauce,
Rudolph's bright nose,
a fire burned down to coals



It's cold, like dipping your feet into an icy lake.
It's sweet like a grape and leaves your tongue tingling.
It's soft like a cloud, but sometimes it can be harder than a rock.
It's deep, the distance you feel when you take a ring off your finger.
It's sad, melancholy like a burning slap across your cheek,
stinging like the wind has bitten your nose.
*Blue* is lighter than a rock and heavier than a feather.
Quieter than a brass band, but louder than a church mouse.
*Blue* is all things medium and in between.
*Blue* is a math problem you just can't solve.
It is the chill ache in your brain when you eat ice cream too quickly.
It smells like bleach and antiseptics.
*Blue* is. It just is.

DAWN KNOX, author


From the merest blush in the sky as the sun sinks below the horizon, to the richest marmalade, studded with tangy shreds of peel.
From the heat of flame flicker to the chill of burnished metal.
From the stickiness of fragrant honey to the silky smoothness of polished amber.
From the brittleness of autumn leaves to the moist crunch of carrots.
*Orange*, you are sunny, you are warm and you delight our souls. 

The Joy of *Green*

Spring Leaves
Forest *Green*
Cos Lettuce
Savoy Cabbage
Peas on the Vine
Beans nestling among Leaves
Watercress soup
Spinach garden fresh
Holly and Ivy
Sycamore and Oak Leaves
*Green* in all its variety.

Ken:    Ouch, turn out the light, willya?

Anne:  Aren’t you working today?

Ken:    (Holding his hand over his face).  Can’t.  Migraine.  Did you see the Sunday Musing this week?

Anne:  “Using only touch, smell, and sound describe colors.”  Hmmmm.

Ken:    Ouch, ouch ouch! Please!  Don’t repeat it.  If you could see the inside of my eyelids, you would have mercy.

Anne:  What color are they, Ken?

Ken:    You know the color the edge of the sky gets on a clear night when the sun goes down?

Anne: I think so. Tell me more.

Ken:    Combine that with the sparks that molten iron throws off when a hammer strikes the anvil.

Anne: That bad?

Ken:    Plus, you know the stuff in the air after an electrical storm?

Anne: Ozone? 

Ken:    That’s the taste in my mouth right now.  I’m sorry.  I just can’t.

Anne: It’s okay, I think we’re good.

Thanks for joining us and see you next week!
 If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at MuseChrisChat@gmail.com

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Research - Minor Detail

I can hardly believe how long it took me this morning to choose a regiment which a minor character in Monday's Child, a traditional Regency novel, joined. It must have taken me over half an hour to check non fiction books, on line and photo copies. However, it is worthwhile because I want to get all the details right.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

New Resolution, Christmas Shopping, Diaries

No, I haven't made a premature New Year's resolution. I did some Christmas shopping today and chose a desk diary and a pocket diary. There is so much more to being an author than writing books. So I have made a resolution to enter all the writing related activities I need to do every day. In other words, I have made up my mind to be more organised.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Amazon Keywords

Hi all,

Here is the keyword 'Cornwall' for Sam and the Beast of Bodmin Moor. It currently sit at  page 58 of 60 pages, so as you can imagine, no one will find it.

I'm going to ask you all a big favor. Here is the link to Sam and the Beast of Bodmin Moor. Can everyone click on the link then click on the book. Take a look, have a read if you wish, but that is all I'm asking then we can see if it rises up the Amazon search engine. If it works for me, it will work for you.


If you do this for me, I'll reciprocate.



M. P. Ward

P.S. This link has been put through Bitly.com to shorten the link. I tried it from Twitter and it works okay from there at least.

Sunday Musings: November 30 2014

Hello, Musers!

To our US Muser Family, Happy Thanksgiving weekend. Hope you've had and are having a great time.

Being Canadian, I celebrate Thanksgiving in October, but the one thing we have in common is a sense of giving thanks during this time. As writers one of the major aspects of our careers are our readers. With that in mind...

...what do our reader responses mean to us?

 For me readers response is VERY important. Even you don't agree, the fact that anybody took the time out of a busy life to bother answering is one big compliment.  I love hearing from readers.

Reader response is the best feedback I can get. Some readers leave a short review, just expressing what the book mean to them. Others are more detailed, going into which characters interested them most and how they felt about the scenes. At other times, criticism has helped me improve my next book. Without readers, our books would languish without anyone but us to enjoy them, so I think appealing to readers is the most important thing to do.

Reader responses mean everything to me. I love it when people tell me that they enjoyed my book/books. Personal enjoyment and satisfaction and readers responses are the greatest rewards that I get from writing.


To me, it's nourishment...even the "bad," because without knowing what's not working, how can I fix it? Also, what Jean said: it's great that someone took the time out of their busy schedule to a) read my book and b) comment on it. Readers make this whole crazy process more worthwhile than if I were just writing for myself, and hearing from them always makes my day!

I treasure reader responses and always answer every comment and question I receive. Some individuals ask for considerable detail and raise significant points that lead to a series of complex communications. I have included some suggestions in the later volumes of my series.

That a person reads my work and thinks enough of it to contact me about it is a great honor. I hope I shall continue to be worthy of it.

DAWN KNOX, author

So far, I've only had good reviews for 'Daffodil and the Thin Place'. All the responses have all been unsolicited, so I've been thrilled.
I get a bit embarrassed if people tell me face to face but I still really appreciate it. I can't bring myself to ask anyone what they think of the book as I always assume if they like it they'll tell me and if they don't they'll keep quiet. However, I'm prepared for people to respond negatively at some point and I tell myself that it's just a matter of taste and if someone doesn't like my book, that's fine, but when it happens, I know I will be hurt.

On 6th December, the first script that I've ever written for a dramatisation  will be performed and I imagine that I will be able to see people's responses in their faces! That's going to be interesting!

Thanks for joining us and see you next week!
 If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at MuseChrisChat@gmail.com