Merry Christmas From All at Writers Abroad
Category: Writing



With many thanks to subscriber, Patricia Feinberg Stoner for this entry to our Newsletter Muse. We loved it so much and Patricia kindly agreed we could feature it on our blog for Christmas.

All Seasons Greetings Where Ever You Are...






By Patricia Feinberg Stoner

“God rest ye merry gentlemen!”  I hear the people say.

They’re getting all excited cos it’s nearly Christmas day.

It’s time I got a move on, and never mind me feet,

Me chilblains, me lumbago, nor rain, nor snow, nor sleet.


OH - I’m harnessing me reindeer and loading up me sleigh,

And putting on me muffler cos Santa’s on his way.

OH - I hates the flipping chimneys they never thinks to sweep

And all the pussyfooting while the kiddies is asleep.


And I hates the flipping driving, especially after dark,

And it isn’t always easy to find a place to park.

And while we’re on the subject, I think it’s pretty thick

All this flying round the country when air travel makes me sick.


BUT I’m harnessing me reindeer and loading up me sleigh

And pulling furry boots on cos Santa’s on his way.

And there’s another matter that gets me on the raw:

Them flipping understudies you see in every store.


It’s not as if I minds it when I sees me face to face

In Debenhams or Tesco’s – or any flipping place

But where’s the recognition for a job I’ve done so long?

And, come the New Year honours, why don’t I get a gong?


STILL, I’m harnessing me reindeer and loading up me sleigh,

And filling a hot bottle cos Santa’s on his way.

There’s just one ray of comfort that stops me feeling sore:

Me working year’s a day long, and the hol’s three sixty four!


So spare a thought for Santa as you feast and play and dance.

I’ll be celebrating Christmas in the sunny south of France.

OH - I’ve unharnessed all me reindeer and emptied out me sleigh.

Come wine!  Come song!  Come women!  Cos Santa’s on his way.


Visit Patricias blog here

And see her books on Amazon here

Category: Writing
Tags: Writing goals planning taking stock


As we all race around, trying to finish projects at work or home as well as prepare for the festivities of the most important (at least for most of us…) holidays of the year, there is not much time or space for sitting back and relaxing. As of today, the final pre-Christmas week is upon us and panic sets in. It’s at this point that I begin looking forward to the days between the holidays, when the pressure of Christmas expectations has been lifted and I can kick back, read a bit, watch some good films and maybe even have enough leisure to reflect on the accomplishments – or lack of same – during the year just coming to a close.

                As writers, many of us are able to work at our own pace, not necessarily held to account by large corporations and their deadlines. Unless of course, you happen to be one of the lucky few among us who have climbed bestseller lists and do have to produce those manuscripts to a schedule. If so, congratulations on your success. You don’t need to read any more of this!

However, for one such as I, an apprentice writer eager to learn and develop my skills, taking the time to perform my own personal annual review, as happens in real, live day-jobs, is a worthwhile undertaking. How many stories did I write, revise or edit this past year? How many made it into print? Did I submit pieces to any contests or lit magazines? Which of the goals that I bravely set down for myself in January of this year actually came to fruition or are at least works-in-progress? Of course, this assumes I actually did some planning in the previous January.

                As luck would have it, a new January is just two weeks away, offering us a new opportunity to set goals, if we haven’t been doing this previously. It can only help if I, as a semi-professional wordsmith, set down on paper some targets at which to aim. This doesn’t have to be a solemn contract with myself – unless I want it to be. But a modicum of pressure can help concentrate the mind. Maybe it’s less intimidating to think of this goal-setting as a to-do list that will keep me busy and out of trouble all year. Another way of thinking of it is as a roadmap. Traveling is always easier if I know the direction I need to go and what I expect to find at the end of the journey.

                Merry Christmas to all and may the New Year bring many opportunities for you to show off your word prowess!

Early Words
Category: Writing
Tags: Writers Abroad writing ex-pat writers first books

Following on from Sue’s excellent post last week about what inspired us to write, I decided to look at our first reading experiences. I’m guessing that we all learned to read – or were read to – before we learned to write? That was certainly my experience.

I owe my early love of books and reading to my mother, who was an avid reader herself. Every night, when I was tucked up in bed, she read me a story. That was one of my favourite moments of the day. Like all children, I especially liked the stories I already knew by heart and I would say the words out loud when she came to them. (‘“Pooh,” said Sir Guy of Gisbourne.’)

It’s too far back for me to remember the very early picture books. My earliest memories are of the Ladybird books. They were little hardback books, both fiction and non-fiction. All were written as an illustrated story. The ones I particularly remember are the classic fairy tales, the Crusades, Robin Hood, What to Look for in Winter and What to Look for in Summer.

I was delighted to learn that the Ladybird books are still published under the Penguin imprint. But they are no longer in their original format. The company was founded in 1867 by Henry Wills when he opened a bookshop in Loughborough. In 1914, the company first published its range of children’s books, using a ladybird logo. The first ladybird with open wings was replaced by the classic closed-wing Ladybird logo in the 1950s.

You can see some of the old-style covers on this website, which is dedicated to the Ladybird books. 

I graduated from those to a set of Newnes Encyclopaedias with red leather binding and gold-tooled lettering. My favourite volume contained the Greek, Roman and Norse myths, to which I returned time and again. And, joy of joy, I discovered dinosaurs, an abiding passion during my childhood.

From there, my tastes veered towards the supernatural. I loved the idea of a parallel world to ours, peopled by strange, and sometimes menacing beings. Books that greatly influenced me included:

  • The Borrowers, tiny people who lived in the wainscot and “borrowed” things like empty cotton reels to make stools;
  • The Forest of Boland Light Railway, by a mysterious “B.B.”, in which a community of elves living in a forest construct a railway line to transport them from their village to their silver mines; and
  • Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisingamen and The Moon of Gomrath.

I must have been a rather whimsical child, but oh to recapture that “land of lost content.”

What were your first reading experiences?    



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