It doesn’t seem possible that Christmas is just over a week away, a New Year chasing its heels. So much has changed, not least of all the weather. The last couple of weeks in southern England have been unseasonably mild, although unlike last year, we did have a few frosty days in November.
What happened to those white Christmases of my childhood I wonder? For me, they really did exist. It took me a while to get used to a Californian winter when I first moved to Los Angeles. Winter wonderland scenes with fake snow, icicles and huge, plastic snowmen in front yards looked out of place against the azure sky, bobbing around in warm, Santa Ana winds.
But it is Christmas Present I am more keen to think about today. Which means presents! And what better presents than books, especially debut novels recently published by three dear friends.
An urban fantasy, sci-fi crossover fiction, it’s best described as ‘St Trinian’s meets Invasion of the Body Snatchers‘. And it is, and it’s a wonderful read. I know, because I read and reviewed it on Amazon.
Sarah followed up very recently with her latest upper-middle grade crossover fiction novel, Noah Padgett and the Dog People which tells:
‘The tale of a boy who fell into the paw-hands of a villain crazier than the Mad Hatter and more puffed up than Mr Toad…‘
Great stories take us to places we might otherwise never go. A classic, of course, Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, takes us back in time to a world very different to ours, yet its message of forgiveness and love is timeless.
Every first weekend in December, with great anticipation of seasonal celebration, my family catches a steam train to the tiny, medieval village of Dunster in Somerset, England, its narrow streets transformed into a Dickensian candlelit delight.
A castle overlooks the village from on high, hosting a Victorian Christmas all of its own…
Away from the peace of the castle, once owned by the Luttrell family but now by the National Trust, things were more boisterous…
Thinking back to that beautiful library, what a thrill it must be to at last hold the book you’ve written, laboured over and finally published. I know this is just how Hugh Roberts is feeling right now with the launch of his debut novel Glimpses this month.
A collection of 28 short stories sure to delight – and shock – with thrills and spills, twists and turns, humour and horror. I know, because I’ve read most of these great stories on Hugh’s blog, Hugh’s Views and News, although he tells us that he’s changed several and added some new ones. To celebrate his book launch, Hugh is running a competition with the top prize a £100 Amazon Gift Certificate.
One of the happier parts of this year have been the many, long walks I’ve taken, through sunshine and rain (but no snow, yet…). I think of another lovely friend, ‘restless’ Jo, who takes us on her Monday walks with her gorgeous photographs and narrative no matter the weather; I know she will remember the beautiful, Roman city of Bath.
Hubby and I managed to squeeze in a visit to the Christmas markets at Bath at the end of November. It was very cold that day – our brief frosty phase – but a warming cup of mulled wine helped greatly while walking around the market, admiring the beautiful, Bath stone buildings, including the old Pump Rooms (where afternoon tea is now served)…
This year, my blogging hasn’t been exactly prolific, but I’m so grateful to those who still visit the Summerhouse. I’ve known dear Jude since my very early blogging days, and I’ve always enjoyed participating in her photography challenges when I can.
Jude runs a Garden Photography challenge over at her gorgeous blog Earth Laughs in Flowers, and December’s theme is urban floral displays. I wonder if her ears were burning when I told hubby I had to take photos of these pretty floral displays outside a restaurant just for her…
Although I don’t blog as much as I used to while working on my memoir, since returning in October, I have continued to write 99 word flash fiction over at dear friend Charli Mills’ Carrot Ranch. I post them in her comments in response to her weekly prompt rather than here for the time being, purely because of time constraints.
Through Carrot Ranch, I’ve met a wonderful group of writer friends, one of whom is Sarah Brentyn who blogs at Lemon Shark. She very recently released her debut collection of short fiction, Hinting at Shadows…
‘No one escapes life unscathed. Delve into the deeper reaches of the human condition and the darkness
that lives there.’
Last, but not certainly not least, I must tell you about the beautiful post my wonderful, sweet friend Patsy Parker shared, in which she tells of the absolutely stunning painting she made for me called Sherri’s Red Fox in honour of my dad and our walks in the woods.
And then she mailed it to me, from California, framed and all. Isn’t it stunning? I cried when I opened it…
Please check out Patsy’s awesome blog Patsy’s Creative Corner and her other amazing artwork. She is incredibly talented. You’ll get a wonderful welcome, guaranteed.
Thank you so much dear Patsy, and many congratulations to Sarah, Sarah and Hugh…thrilled for you all!
This is my last post until after the New Year, but I’ll be hanging around to visit and do the rounds for as long as I can before launching into next week’s Christmas preparations.
Until then, I wish you, dear friends, a Merry Christmas and a
happy holiday season filled with joy, love and peace
from my home to yours…
…and a Happy New Year to all!
Love Sherri xxx
*All photographs and videos copyrighted by Sherri Matthews and a View From My Summerhouse 2016