Christmas #3: The Most Perfect Christmas

I’m assuming, from the use of quote marks, that this first part is a conversation between two people, who we later learn are Dave and Dave. But this initial conversation is too confusing. You don’t have to completely identify both speakers, but you do need some tags to make it clear that you’ve got two people speaking here. Also you need to differentiate the voices in some way. We need to be able to figure out which is the “real” Dave speaking and which is his alter-ego, or split personality or whatever it is that he is. Or, if it’s the same “person” speaking here, you’ve used the quotes incorrectly.

“I am going to have the most perfect Christmas this year. I won’t let anything or anyone stop me. I had a perfect Christmas once when the kids were little, maybe four and six. Well, I am going to have another one this year. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is going to stop me.”

“This year they get to come for Christmas vacation. They live in the snowy north so when they come to Arizona it’s really different weather. [a little trite] I’m a good dad. Really I am. I plan all kinds of good things for them to do when it is my turn to have them. Look, I never agreed that they should go to that fancy-schmancy private school. So when I get them here, I get crazy to give them freedom and a noworry existence. They’ve got to do good at this school or it makes my ex and her new husband testy. “ [Paragraph is choppy. Rearrange the sentences so it flows better.]

“So here we go camping. [awkward] Eat fast food. Go to bed late and get up late. Neither of them have to read anything and I buy new video games for my Wii just for them. I got a girl’s game this year for Sammie, she’s eleven and Devin is nine. She still likes dolls so I got a few Barbie dolls and some new clothes. Devin loves those Transformer things so I got him a couple of those.” [choppy; if this is intentional, to show that he’s unstable, you need it to be a little more obvious.]

“But that’s not Christmas. That’s just to show them I love them. You know, presents I hand them when they get here. I always get them presents when they come to visit.”

“For Christmas, we’re going to decorate a palm tree. Yep, I said palm tree. I bought little pepper lights to string along the fronds and lizard ornaments. But that isn’t the big big present. You know I got them something really wonderful this year.”

“I don’t have to tell you what it is. On Christmas Day my sometime girl friend [narrators use this type of description, not the actual character], Rita, is coming over to cook a Southwest dinner and after we’re all going to the movies. It’s going to be great.”

“Want to come with me when I go to the airport to pick them up? Okay, well, it’s tomorrow at noon and we’ll go out to the airport. They always like my friends, Dave.”

# # #

“There they are, Dave.”

“Hi kids! Hi Sammie, Hi Dev! Look how you’ve grown.” I grinned and waved at them. “Dave, I told you they were cute.”

“Hi Daddy! Hi Daddy!” They yell and run at me; they’re not so old that they don’t do that any more. I swept them up in my arms and hugged them. It seemed a long time since last summer.

We all got in the car. The kids were talking a [at] the same time. About school and their friends. They said they had a dog.

“Daddy, the dog’s name is Snuffy. He walks around smelling everything.” Dev was all boy, despite [delete-of] his frailty. He was small and thin for his age with horn-rimmed glasses. I use to think [thought] it was some Harry Potter fixation but his mother said n,o he didn’t like Harry Potter but did like the glasses. A little egghead just like me. Sammie was more like my sister, Vera. She was taller and just as thin because she was at that age when girls shoot up but don’t look very female [feminine]. She was almost to my shoulder. She wanted to play basket ball in middle school.

“Dave, these kids are my whole life.”

“Oh, yeah? What about the lab? What about your ‘project’ that you keep telling me is SO important? Important enough to change the world?” Dave’s eyes blinked at me.

“Well, sure it’s important but not as important as the kids. Kids are the future.”

“Ha,” said Dave in a lower voice. “I thought you said I was the future.”

“Shut the heck up. They don’t know anything and they’re not going to know anything, Dave.”

He lapsed into a sullen silence as the kids continued to tell me more about their lives. Before we got home my head was muddled with all the noise and stuff from the kids. [awkward] I’m not use to kids any more. But I love my kids, don’t get me wrong.

We went out for pizza after the afternoon playing in the pool. [awkward] I wanted Dave to come but he decided not to. I sort of minded that Dave wasn’t there to enjoy the fun. [awkward] Rita met us at theDel’s Pizza Parlor; she’s a great woman. Kind of ditsy, if you know what I mean. Never reads anything. Watches a lot of TV. But she’s smart in her own way; you know, like clever. I decided Dave didn’t want to come because of Rita. For some unexplained reason he didn’t like her.

But the kids did. Rita was able to talk to them about all kinds of things. She gave them a couple of dollars each in quarters so they could play the game machines. I hate those games. I play my games with the sound down. But of course I wouldn’t make the kids do that. They like noise.

We got ice cream cones after at a mall shop [awkward] and wandered for a bit looking at Christmas things. I asked the kids what they wanted for Christmas.

Dev yelled, “A dirt bike! Or an ATV!”

Sammie stood still smiling in front of a beautiful blue party dress with a low-cut front. “I don’t care; I like everything.”

Rita said, “I bet you’d like a dress like that, huh?”

Sammie shrugged. I lost it and shouted at Rita.

She a kid for crying out loud, quit pushing her.”

“Okay, okay. You’re cranky. Maybe you’d bet go home to bed. You took these two weeks off didn’t you? You said you were going . . .” [???] Rita scowled at me, standing with a stiff back and her arms folded over her bosom. “Dave?”

“Sorry.” I mumbled not meaning a word of it. [it’s only one word] We walked a bit further and then turned back. The whole mall was alight with music, people and lights. It was a zoo. At the door we parted. [what door?] The kids and I watched until she got in her car and drove off. Then we went to my car.

“Dad, you going to marry Rita? Are you?” Sammie asked, not getting in when I opened the door.

“Get in with your brother. I don’t have time to marry anybody. I am working on THE PROJECT. I still work in research and design for Zen-nano Byte, inc. If I don’t produce a PROJECT a year they’ll let me go.”

“Dad are you still trying to get the cat that is allergy-free and glows in the dark?” Dev never forgot anything.”

“Not anymore. That was last year. Somebody else beat us to it. I have a new project this year. Actually it’s finished. I hope the new models will make us lots of money.”

“Cool, Dad.” He immediately lost interest and started looking out the window. In the rear view mirror I could see his face slacken and his eyes start to close. He was tired.

“Dad, what’s your project this year?” Sammie was persistent. Just like her mother.

“I’ll tell you later. Maybe. It’s a secret secret. Very big secret.”

“Please tell me. Is it another animal?”

“It’s better than an animal. You will love it, I promise.”

“Tell me, Daddy, please.” She was nagging me now. That is one reason the kids bother me. Their mother nagged me too. I shook my head at her, scowling in the mirror. I almost drove off the road trying to shut her up. It would have been her fault too. What does she want from me? I said no rather vehemently.

We got home and the kids went to their rooms. I kissed them good night and went back to the kitchen.

Dave was sitting at the table. He sat a beer in front of me.

“Gee thanks, Dave.”

He nodded.

“I didn’t hear you come in.”

“It’s my little cat feet.” He smiled in that familiar wry way.

“Good to see you, Dave. You should have gone with us.”

“No I had to think. Do you think that THE PROJECT is a suitable, responsible choice as gift for your children? I mean, what if they freak out or something?”

“They won’t freak out as you so succinctly put it. They are the children of a scientist, for crying out loud.”

“Okay, but remember I brought it up.”

“Don’t jerk me around. You wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for me. I made you my friend.”

“I thought we were more than friends.”

I picked up my beer and went to bed. Dave could just cope by himself. I don’t need to hold his hand.

In the morning we planned our Christmas Eve day. First we decorated the palm tree. Then we drove to the mall and I gave the kids money to shop for me, their mom, and their step-dad. That step-dad guy was a car salesman. I bet with this economy and everyone wanting little cars he won’t be making much. Serves him right.

After shopping, I was tired and hungry but I wanted to show the kids a good time so we went to Chuckle Cheese and then a stupid panda movie. They ate way too much candy and were so hyper I felt like I wanted to drop them off at park and go on home. I didn’t, of course; after all, I am a responsible father.

They should have known how much candy to eat. After the movie we stopped for a barrel of chicken and mashed potatoes to eat at home.

We watched a bunch of sick Christmas stories on television. You know the kind, where something bad happens to ordinary people and then something else totally UNBELIEVABLE happens and make it all right again. I don’t think anyone believes that crap. The kids love it though. Especially that old one where nobody believes there is a Santa Clause, only Natalie Wood when she was little. Too bad she fell off the boat. Her stupid husband was probably to drunk or she was kidding around with that other guy. She was wearing a coat, for crying out loud. And nobody heard her or anything. Poor Natalie.

Finally, after the kids got so tired they were stumbling, I led them to their beds and kissed them on their sweet foreheads. There’s nothing like your own child’s forehead, is there? It symbolizes all the hope you have for them and for yourself.

Just before I went to bed I talked to Dave. “You be here early, okay?”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“And sit under the tree.”

“You’re kidding me?”

“Just do it. I’m still in charge, Dave.”

I didn’t say another word but went to bed and slept like a baby.

First thing I knew I heard the kids screaming. I sat up bleary and dazed. Christmas.

They must have found Dave.

I wandered out to the kitchen to pour a cup of coffee then went into the living room.

“Dad, where’s our presents?”

“Look under the tree.” I laughed but it sounded hollow and echoing to me.

“Dad, there’s nothing there.” Dev was anxious and worried.– I could tell.

I looked under the tree. There was Dave just sitting there grinning. I looked at the kids.

“See! I made you a new daddy. You can take him home with you. He’ll always be with you.” I laughed happily. “He’s just like me, only invisible.”

They really started screaming then. [Why? Wouldn’t they more likely think their dad is joking with them? Or if they did realize he was nuts, wouldn’t they be really quiet and withdraw from him, rather than scream?]

“ Merry Christmas !” I shouted.

What I liked best: There are places where you show the psychotic break very well, like when he gets mad at the kids for eating too much candy, then later loves kissing their foreheads.

Magazine ready? No. Other than the fact that this is set at Christmas, it’s not really a Christmas story. For it to be a Christmas “horror” story, you’d need to tie various Christmas items more closely into what is happening with Dave—almost like it’s causing his breakdown. Also, it’s really not clear enough what is happening. I’m guessing psychotic break, but I’m not sure. We need a little more development to make it clear what’s going on.

Christmas #2: Empty Arms

“Come on, honey. We’re going to be late.”

I ignored my husband and continued shoving laundry into the washing machine. I knew Jason wanted to go to the ward Christmas party like we had every year since we’d been married. But I couldn’t take one more evening of Christmas carols and ho ho ho’s, or hearing one more story of a destitute family who got what they most wanted for Christmas. Those things were good and I didn’t begrudge them to others, but no amount of mistletoe and holiday cheer would solve my problems. [Love this paragraph. We get a very clear picture of her.]

We’d been married only six months when we decided to start having children. Jason and I both came from large families and we couldn’t wait to fill our home with the pitter-patter of little feet, even though we knew those feet would need shoes and we were living on a tight budget. But time passed. We finished school, Jason got a good job, and in all that time, no baby.

At first I tried to be cheerful about it. After all, we were much better off financially now—maybe the forced wait had been a blessing. But eight years of hoping and fasting and praying had taken their toll on me. I felt angry and betrayed. God had told me to have a family. It had been confirmed to my mind over and over again. Why couldn’t I get pregnant?

Jason appeared in the laundry room doorway, holding my coat in one hand and our contribution to the feast in the other. He’d baked a cake. I thought if I didn’t scrounge something together, maybe he’d change his mind about going. But he’d hunted in the cupboard until he found a cake mix. I knew I should have hidden it better.

We drove to the church in silence. Jason tried once or twice to get me to talk, but I refused, and he gave up. My determined sullenness didn’t seem to put a damper on his holiday spirit, though—he waved and smiled at passing cars, even if we didn’t know the drivers. I wanted to strangle him with his own scarf.

“Can we leave right after dinner?” I begged.

“I’d like to stay until Santa comes. You know, see the kids’ faces?”

That was exactly why I wanted to leave early. Jason found comfort in surrounding himself with children, while I watched them from a distance and envied their parents. He couldn’t understand my standoffishness and I couldn’t explain how badly it hurt to let my guard down. I wanted to share the joy of the holiday with my own children, to see their eyes light up with excitement. I couldn’t live by proxy like he could.

I didn’t say anything. Jason took that as agreement and tucked into his dry turkey dinner with good appetite. I just pushed my food around until the meal was over.

The microphone squealed when our ward activities director flicked it on.

“Sorry,” he said, clearing his throat. “Um, brothers and sisters, we have a special treat for you tonight. I’d like to ask you to remain seated and be as reverent as possible during our presentation.”

He stepped aside and the stage curtains opened. I gasped as I saw the elaborate scenery that had been constructed to depict a stable in the dark of night. The bishop began to read a narrative of the Christmas story, and actors filed onto the stage, taking their places and then holding their poses. I didn’t recognize any of them. They must have been borrowed from another ward.

I sat and listened, somewhat dispassionately, until I saw a tiny fist pop out of the bundle in Mary’s arms. She wasn’t holding a doll, like I first thought—she held a real baby.

I watched that hand wave back and forth while tears streamed down my cheeks. Mary got what she wanted for Christmas. But I wouldn’t.

I slipped out of the gym and went outside, not bothering with my coat. I wrapped my arms around myself and looked up at the sky, seeing thousands upon thousands of snowflakes rushing toward my face. I closed my eyes and let the snow mingle with the tears on my cheeks.

“Why?” I whispered, the stone in my heart growing heavy and constricting my breathing. “Have I done something wrong? Am I being punished? Why can’t I have a baby?”

I don’t know how long I stood in the falling snow. My pain took away all sense of time. From inside the church, I heard the faint strains of music, first “Silent Night” and then “Away in a Manger.” I couldn’t help but picture that holy baby, welcomed to earth by concourses of angels at what had to be the most glorious baby shower the world has ever known. I imagined that baby and my empty arms ached to hold him.

I glanced up and noticed a break in the clouds just large enough to let me see a patch of stars on the other side. At that moment, I felt a warmth seep into my soul, and my shivering stopped. The thought that struck my mind was so powerful, my knees nearly buckled.

Jesus was not just God’s baby or Mary’s baby or Joseph’s baby. He was sent into the world for all of us—He was my baby, too. And then He grew and fulfilled His mission on the earth, suffering to take away my suffering. He was my baby and He was my Savior and He was my brother and He was my friend.

I started to cry again, this time with relief at being understood and loved so completely. I felt as though a prison had been thrown open and I was allowed to walk free.

My coat came down over my shoulders as Jason stepped up behind me. “It’s freezing,” he said, wrapping the coat snugly around me. “What are you doing out here?”

I didn’t answer. I couldn’t. Instead, I turned to face him. He wiped my tears away with his thumbs, then just held me.

“You see that patch of sky?” he said after a moment. “The stars aren’t any less bright—they’re just hidden away for a little while. We’re going to make it through this, and there will be stars on the other side.”

I let him lead me to the car and we drove home, again in silence, only this time, my head was on his shoulder and my heart was full of gratitude. I didn’t know if I would ever be a mother, but I was a daughter, and that knowledge was priceless to me.

What I liked best: Great characterization. I get a very clear sense of who this woman is. And her change in attitude is believable, although it needed just a tad more development.

Magazine ready? Almost—I’d send it back and give you an extra 100 words to add to her attitude change.

Christmas Story Contest Reminder

We haven’t had many submissions for the Christmas Story Contest. I have a few that will be posted next week, but not quite enough to make a contest out of it.

Remember, Saturday, December 13th, is the last day to submit for the contest. For more details, click HERE.

Please spread the word—send emails to your friends, blog about it, announce it in your writer forums and groups. We need more stories!

We also need two more sponsors for this contest. If you’d like to provide a book for a prize winner (you’ll need to ship it to them), please send me an e-mail ASAP.

And thanks. 🙂

Christmas #1: Angel’s Song

Jacob almost wheezed as he set his heavy burden next to the dry-stone fence at the top of the grassy knoll. He glanced behind himself to be sure neither of his dogs had followed. As far as Jacob could tell by squinting, the dark specs [specks] he assumed were sheep dogs still slept in shade by a well. He wiped sweat from his stinging eyes with a sleeve, brushed his nearly ink-black hair out of the way, and looked up. A white puff in the summer sky hid both Aqua and Azure from his gaze. [I’d prefer to have them identified as sister-suns here.]

He grabbed up the cloth-covered reed basket, and gingerly leaned over the rock fence. Jacob stretched and let go. His mother’s basket dropped but did not topple. Jacob heaved himself to the other side, picked up his burden once again, and started down the other side of the hill. About half way down, the full fury of the sister-suns beat upon his back again.

A bleat from a goat caused Jacob to look eastward across the narrow valley where a few of the animals milled about near a stone hut almost too small to be called a house. The stone structure did not seem to get any bigger once he found himself at the bottom of the valley. He stepped onto a wooden foot-bridge which spanned a mountain stream. Thick planks bounced under his weight. Jacob shifted the bulging basket to his other hand and started up the hillside towards Eder’s home.

He purposefully avoided looking to his right, where a bow-shot away, a burnt-out oak tree stood alone. The dark, leafless remnant was a contrast to forested peaks in the distance. He hastened on.

The goats which grazed on the eastern slopes mostly ignored him, but some chewed their cud almost thoughtfully as Jacob passed by. Their curious heads turned to follow. After passing Eder’s well, Jacob shuffled up the dirt path made hard by frequent use.

“Jacob, is that you?” came a voice from within the stone hut.

Amazing. How did he hear me? Jacob hadn’t made a sound, or so he thought, and the only window in Eder’s home didn’t have a clear view of the pathway.

“Yes – mother sent me to market this morning. Did you know the grapes are turning? I brought you some.”

“Wonderful! Please come in!”

Jacob turned the door handle and stepped into the dimly lit, but cool room. He left the door slightly open. The thin beam of light which fell upon Eder’s round table, swirled with dust. Just the thought of it made Jacob sneeze.

“To health!”

“Thank you, Eder,” Jacob said as he pushed the basket to the center of the table. He turned and shut the door. The small home was a single room furnished only by the table, a wide, stone fireplace, a dry sink, cupboards, two chairs, and a goose-feather bed in one corner. Eder sat on the edge of the bed with hands clasped in his lap. He looked as if he had been recently napping. Jacob pulled a chair close and sat down.

Eder reached for Jacob’s knee, and then fumbled until Jacob moved a hand where the old man could find it. The gray-haired goatherd pulled Jacob closer, and patted his top of his hand.

“I am so pleased you came, Jacob! It has been awhile since you have come to visit. Where is your younger brother?”

“Mother sent Micah to check on the flock.”

Eder patted Jacob’s hand more firmly. With a knowing smile, he said, “I asked your mother to send you in Micah’s stead.” The old goatherd didn’t let go.

Guilt swept through Jacob like a winter blast. I knew I should have come last week, Jacob thought. He sighed.

“I am fine, Jacob. But I miss our visits.” Eder reached for his walking stick which leaned against the bed, and stood.

Jacob followed him to the table. “I am sorry. I have been so busy.”

“Hmmm. What did you bring?”

Eder was feeling his way into the basket with both hands. He found a cheese wheel and pulled it up to his nose, inhaling deeply.

“Ah! This is a ripe one! Good and strong.”

Jacob smiled. “Picked it out myself.”

“It will be delicious. Can I share lunch?”

“I thought you might ask, so I packed our lunch separately.”

“You are a fine young man, Jacob! Just like your father.”

Eder sat at the table expectantly. Jacob pulled two leather bags from the basket and set them to the side. Jacob described the rest of the items as he placed them carefully on a cupboard. In addition to the cheese, there were grapes, breads, dried meats, dried fruits, a bag of wheat flour, a flask of oil, and oats – enough to feed the old man for a few days. Eder was particularly excited about three tin containers: salt, sugar, and dried mint leaves.

Jacob tidied the area, filled two fired-clay goblets from a water bucket, grabbed a wooden platter, and sat down. He opened the first bag and placed a chunk of cheese and small sausage on the platter. He watched Eder’s reaction closely as he pulled a small wicker bowl from the second bag. It was brimming over with berries. Eder’s eyelids fluttered over lifeless orbs as the scent of the berries reached him.

“Ooh! Thank you Jacob, those are my favorite! May I pray?”

“Yes, of course.”

Eder thanked their creator for the bounty. He asked for a blessing to be upon Jacob, Micah and their mother. The words he chose in closing were heartfelt and touched Jacob deeply. They ate in silence.

When they were done, Eder insisted that they take chairs outside to sit in the growing shade of a birch tree next to the house. They were grateful for a cool mountain breeze flowing down the valley. Eder’s goats still wandered over the grassy hillside.

As they sat there, both quite content from their lunch, Eder began to sing a tune known throughout much of Gideon. He sang about the beauties of mountain flowers, verdant trees, and cold, pure waters. He sang about a king who would come from a far-away land, and a promise of a peace.

Eder’s voice was clear and strong, the notes in perfect pitch. Jacob’s chest tightened as he recognized the melody as one his father would often sing when Jacob was a boy. Jacob turned away from his father’s closest friend, and fought back emotion.

When Eder finished, he sat as if in quiet reflection. Jacob was grateful for the silence. He did not comment on Eder’s singing.

“Joshua was a fine singer. He actually helped me to improve my technique. Do you remember your father singing?”

Jacob looked down the hillside, and his eyes found the burnt-out oak tree. Why he had associated the tree with his father’s singing, Jacob did not know at first. Then it came to him. [What? We need to know.] He looked away.

“Jacob? Jacob?”

“Yes?” Jacob replied after some delay.

“I am going away – the day after the crossing of the sister suns.”

Jacob was shocked. “Where are you going?”

“I am going to live in Hasor for a while, but I do not know when I shall return. Would you help me?”

“Help you?”

“Yes – with my herds. I have asked your mother. Dinah has consented for you to stay here at my home. She is proud of the young man you have become.”

Jacob swelled with pride. Mother considers me a man? He was only fourteen, but having her confidence meant the world to him. He looked over at Eder who was smiling.

“Yes! I . . . I . . .” Jacob stumbled over his words.

“Thank you. It is settled then.”


Almost two weeks later, Jacob sat in the cool of a summer evening. He waved one last time as his mother and little brother, Micah, disappeared over the dry-stone fence at the top of the hill between [the] two homes. Yes – I have two homes now, Jacob thought. It is nice that they now come to visit me.

His mind wandered to recent days when he would visit Eder [awkward–to days recently past?]. Jacob missed him. He worried if Eder had arrived in Hasor safely, but dismissed the thought. Jacob remembered the contingent of Gideonite soldiers which had escorted Eder as if he was a king. Eder the Goatherd: Ambassador and Counsel to the people of Daniel. The idea warmed Jacob.

As Jacob reflected, he once again heard Eder’s song in his mind. He softly hummed it. The burnt out oak tree seemed to call to him.

Jacob retrieved his shepherd’s staff. With an almost leisurely pace, he left Eder’s home, and walked towards the tree. Today he was strong. He wanted to go. Jacob had put this off for far too long.

When he found the valley floor, he followed the stream until it veered away, then arrived at the tree. Most of the upper trunk was pure charcoal, except for one spot where it had been split. The large fallen branch still lay on the ground, and was nearly rotted through. Grasses around the branch were tall, undisturbed by the herd.

Jacob reached. He touched the splintered wound. It was dry and rough. His fingers traced down the blackened trunk. Jacob looked down. At the base of the tree was the place where Jacob was on that fateful night [awkward sentence structure]. He knelt there and brushed his hand across the ground. Jacob looked up again, and rolled off his knees to sit. He could almost feel the rain and hear the thunder.

“Eder does not blame me,” Jacob said to the tree. [Why would Eder blame him? Did Jacob do something to cause this? Is this why Eder is blind? Need to answer these questions.]

The tree did not answer.

“I realize now I was protected, even though . . .”

Jacob did not complete the thought. He remembered his father in the field. Joshua was with Eder. Both of them were running to him. He heard them calling loudly. The lightning was fierce. Jacob hugged the trunk of the tree. As they approached, Jacob let go. A bolt of energy hit the tree and sprang forward.

He saw them fall.

Jacob wiped his eyes. Low in the eastern sky, Aqua and Azure were now touching. By morning, their weekly cycle would be complete. Their crossing would mark the Sabbath day. He looked away for a moment, then again checked on their progress.

When the suns finally dipped below the eastern horizon, all of the color of a typical evening filled the sky. But then, just as the last beams hurled themselves over the mountains, the heavens brightened.

The light came from the west, just like any other suns-rising Jacob had ever seen. Jacob watched the curious display, his eyes full of wonder. Jade, Ebony and Sienna, the three moons of Gan, all rose, nearly together. The sky was full of light.

Then he heard music. There was singing! Unseen voices from above increased in volume until, like the unrolling of a scroll, the heavens opened. Jacob saw the angels. The magnificent power of their shining presence, all in shimmering white, caused Jacob to fall onto one elbow. He raised his other hand as if to call to them.

The angels declared their message with boldness. Worlds away, the King had been born. [I’d end it here.] They sang His praises. Their voices lifted again heavenward. They began to depart.

One angel turned. Jacob saw joy in his face. The angel smiled.

“I love you, Jacob.”

You have a good sense of place. I like the slow and thoughtful way the story unfolds. I like the idea that angels announced the birth of the Savior on other worlds, to other shepherds. However, Jacob’s world is just a little too much like ours. I’d suggest making it more different—unusual names, unusual animals, unusual customs.

What I liked best: Angels announced the birth of the Savior on another world. Unique twist on the shepherd story.

Magazine ready? Not quite, but close.

2008 Christmas Story Contest

Get ready for the holidays by entering the Christmas Story Contest

Submission Rules:
Write a Christmas story in any genre. Stories should be positive and family friendly. I reserve the right to refuse any story I deem inappropriate for this blog.

Maximum word count: 2000; no minimum.

Stories published anywhere other than your personal website or blog are ineligible. (That includes books, magazines, e-zines or other contests.)

Stories submitted for previous years’ contest are also ineligible.

Paste entire story into an e-mail. NO ATTACHMENTS, please.

In your e-mail, indicate whether or not you are a published author. “Published” is defined as someone paid you money (or comp copies in the case of magazines) for your story or book. (So either a publisher paid you, or you self-published and people bought your book.)

You may submit more than one story. Send each submission in a separate e-mail.

SUBMIT your story any time between now and Saturday, December 13th.

I will post the stories starting December 1st, in the order that they arrive.

Voting Rules:

VOTE between December 14th and December 20th.

There will be four winners: Readers Choice (Published authors), Readers Choice (Unpublished authors), Publisher’s Choice (Published authors), and Publisher’s Choice (Unpublished authors).

Publisher’s Choice winners will be chosen based on quality of writing and uniqueness of story. You can vote by whatever criteria you want, just don’t make it a popularity contest.

You MAY vote for yourself.

You may vote twice in each category: Published and Unpublished. You may only vote once per story. We’re on the honor system here.

You may make all the comments you like, but VOTING COMMENTS must clearly indicate that it is a vote. (Ex: I’m voting for this one…)

I will post comments on stories and announce the winners on Friday, December 19th.


I need FOUR prizes for this contest. I’d prefer that they be Christmas-related books. Prize sponsors will have a listing on a bio post and will display in the sidebar, like the monthly sponsors do. If you want to sponsor this contest, please make that clear when you e-mail me. I will need photos of the author(s), book cover, author bio info, a link to author website and/or blog, and a link to where the book may be purchased online.

Help spread the word! Post about the contest on your blog, in your forums, and e-mail all your friends.