Let The Christmas Story Hop Begin


Funny how the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry. After rounding the corner at Thanksgiving to head into the Christmas season, my plans did a complete one-eighty and nothing has gone as I thought it would. This unexpected turn of events in the form of a family emergency did two things. First, I have a half-written Christmas story that remains half-written. I’d intended to share it in the blog. Maybe next year. And second, like most people during this season, I grow pensive, reflecting not only on my current circumstances but also how I arrived at them. Perhaps this year I’ve been a bit more contemplative than usual.

What better time to ponder life’s persistent problems than while running? Well, for me anyway. Today while logging my five and mulling over this blog it struck me how many young families have moved into the area. I saw toy and diaper boxes set out for Saturday morning recycling, and I wondered what Christmas morning was going to be like at that house or that one. Tired parents from staying up late to finish wrapping gifts and stuffing stockings? Wide-eyed, over-anxious kids ready for the day to begin at 5AM? Yes, that’s the way it was for Valerie and me when our children were young.

I also thought today about my own childhood, and one particular Christmas came to mind. To set the scene, I grew up in a small New England town where we didn’t lock the doors at night. The milkman still made deliveries, and if we weren’t home he would open the kitchen door, walk in, and put the milk in the refrigerator. So it sounded perfectly reasonable to me that Santa used our front door, since we didn’t have a fireplace.

On this Christmas Eve I was about five or six. My brother and I were in the habit of following my father around when he finished work, keeping him company when he changed from his work clothes. This night was no different, as he encouraged us to go upstairs with him, except that lo and behold when we came back downstairs, the front door was wide open to the frosty winter night. My mother came in from the kitchen where she’d been making dinner and asked what all the commotion had been. Wouldn’t you know, Santa had already visited us. My brother and I were flabbergasted. Santa came to us first? Wow!

When I was older I learned that my father’s family celebrated on Christmas Eve, and while my mother was a traditional Christmas Day person, he’d talked her into having stockings, gifts, and a big dinner on Christmas Eve that year. A small thing, but isn’t it the small things that make the big events special? And this year, despite all the unpreparedness, will be special too.

Merry Christmas, y’all. Now go read some good stories!

Terry West ~ Cecil and Bubba Meet Santa

Denice Garreau ~ Solstice Moon Spell

K.K. Allen ~ Arctic Winter Masquerade Ball (an excerpt from The Descendants, a Summer Solstice Novel by K.K. Allen)

John TM Herres ~ The Slaying Song

Ann Swann ~ Winter

JMD Reid – The Grotesque’s Favorite Season

EM Kaplan ~ Slay bells Ring, A Josie Tucker Story

Lizabeth Scott ~ Christmas Dreams

Lynette Creswell ~ Skullduggery in Elftown

Chess Desalls ~ Yellow Snow Cones

Merritt Kelly ~ Dani’s Prayer

JV Carr ~ Everyday Miracles


Thoughts on Hollywood and the Film Industry


The Big Film ReviewRecently I was interviewed on The Big Film Review, a show hosted by Sudip Bhaduri on the BBC Lincolnshire. I met him through a mutual friend of ours, the talented author and ever-gracious Lynette Creswell. Sudip is articulate and intelligent, and our conversation felt as if we were having it at the local pub over a pint of stout rather than in front of a radio audience an ocean away. Unfortunately, my fifteen minutes of fame went faster than I thought they would and things were left unsaid. In particular, Sudip and I had earlier discussed the current state of Hollywood and the movie industry, so I thought I’d take the opportunity now to work these thoughts into this month’s blog.

No doubt movies like Mission Impossible 5 are gong to make a lot of money. However, I find it typical of Hollywood’s current mindset in that they are trying to cater to two audiences: baby boomers who grew up watching the old TV show, and young people with its fast action and blow-‘em-ups. Furthermore, they continue to underestimate (insult) the moviegoer’s attention span through the overuse of gadgets and special effects as well as the barrage of movies based on comic books.

Hollywood may well be in danger of marginalizing itself if they continue to stick to this formula. For quite some time now they’ve been willing to sacrifice characterization and well-developed plots for action-adventure and computer generated magic. So far audiences have been willing go to the big screen to see this, but as the cost of home entertainment centers comes down, staying in will certainly become more popular. Why go out if you can get the same effect at home? Add to it that tickets aren’t cheap and revenue is down, movie houses may go the way of drive-in theaters, which have all but vanished, especially since films already have to compete with HBO, Showtime and AMC on cable.

If Hollywood insists on continually remaking the old—Mission Impossible and Mad Max are good examples—instead of trying to innovate, we may well be watching the Hollywood Network on cable in the future.   And I wouldn’t be surprised to see it competing with the Indie Movie channel or maybe some independent movie/coffee houses showing films such as The Doo Dah Man that have more than half an hour’s worth of dialogue.

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Do I think all is lost in Hollywood? No, but we need more films like Whiplash, Black Swan, Juno, and Nightcrawler. And I’m heartened to see that Colm Toibin’s novel Brooklyn has been made into a movie, due out in November.

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So Sudip, if you’re out there, here are some of my thoughts on Hollywood that you may have been looking for earlier. Best wishes from Texas and see you at the movies!

The World Book Blog Tour

The World Book Blog Tour is an invitation to share not only an author’s work but also the work of other authors/writers. Then the idea is to pass it on in hopes of authors reaching authors and readers across the globe. Thanks to all of you who jumped on board to participate in the fun.

Thanks to J.V. Carr, author of Username: Bladen and Patty Cakes and the Stolen Ball, both published through Westbow Press, for adding me to the tour. Ms. Carr, who has a degree in psychology, has six children and hosts four exchange students from whom to draw inspiration for her work. As she says herself, she feels “inspired to share the beauty of life and the importance of education and entertainment through children’s books.” More about J.V. Carr can be found at http://jvcarrwriterauthor.com/

These are the question posed by the World Book Blog Tour:

What am I working on?

Right now I’m in the planning stages for a sequel to my dystopian-clifi The Wastelanders, published by Reputation Books and available at Amazon. I actually picture two more books. As with most second acts, the next novel will be darker and place the main characters in peril before giving way to hope and redemption in the third book. Along the same lines, I am preparing to send out a related short story that introduces a new character to The Wastelanders.

I’m also writing a young adult urban fantasy. When I was in my twenties, I worked for a high-end caterer in Houston, Texas. The whole time I was there we had a kitchen witch hanging from one of the air vents as a sign of good luck. I’d always wanted to write a story about a kitchen witch but could never make it work. Then last winter a librarian friend of mine suggested I try writing a young adult novel. For some reason the image of the kitchen witch returned and an idea took hold. It was further enhanced when I ran a 30K with my seventeen-year-old son, who ran alongside a young lady friend of his all pinked-out in her running gear, and I realized I had my two main characters. The novel is titled Son of a Kitchen Witch. I recently finished the first draft, which was pure fun to write. Now comes the hard part—the editing and revision.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

The Wastelanders came about because of my concern for the environment. That doesn’t necessarily make me exclusive in this genre as most people who write clifi are trying to bring attention to climate change. Yet in my novel I also deal with power, political corruption and mass movements and cite often from that unique American blue-collar philosopher Eric Hoffer. I like stories that mine for feelings and explore complex themes. There’s nothing like being immersed in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina or Henry James’s The Wings of the Dove. Of course I also enjoy lighter reads. The young adult novel I’m now working on is less complicated than The Wastelanders in that it’s more direct. It’s a love story and a coming of age story that focuses on good versus evil, and I’ve loved every minute I’ve spent with those characters.

Why do I write what I do?

Life interests me. I enjoy learning new things and doing new things. I have a hard time sitting still, which might sound funny coming from a writer, but I consider writing a bit of a contact sport anyway because it challenges the mind. Besides writing, I am a runner, having completed a number of marathons, half-marathons, 25 and 30Ks. As I said, I’m also passionate about the environment and often blog about it. I trail run, fly-fish, and simply enjoy being outdoors. Because of this I feel it’s my duty, in the words of Dr. Jonas Salk, to be a good ancestor so future generations can also enjoy nature.

How does my writing process work?

For me, every day is an idea for a story and every person and everything within that day contains the seed of a story. Sometimes it’s in the big picture, such as climate change and drought, but often it’s in relationships. My characters inspire me. I know a story is working when they spring from the page and have a life of their own. For instance, the two main characters in the young adult urban fantasy I’m now working on seemingly stepped out of thin air and invited themselves into my life. It was as if they sat down in my study and said, “Here we are, Tim. Now what are you going to do with us?” The same happened with The Wastelanders. I knew the characters needed to be well-rounded, in that the antagonists couldn’t simply be cardboard representations of evil and the protagonists needed to have their flaws, but I didn’t expect to like the antagonists as much as I did, particularly the president’s manipulating, power-hungry wife. On the flipside, I couldn’t wait to write about each of the protagonist’s story line. Strangely, though, it wasn’t Joey, Bernie or the Bear but the young Time Witch who kicked the novel into another gear and raised it beyond what I had originally imagined.

Next stop on the World Book Blog Tour?

K.K. Allen is the author of The Summer Solstice Series. Her first novel, Summer Solstice: Enchanted is a wonderful coming of age paranormal urban fantasy that takes place in Apollo Beach, Florida. As I teach adolescents, I read a fair share of young adult novels, and Ms. Allen’s ranks up there with the best of them. The next book in the series, The Equinox, is not coming soon enough! In addition to writing urban fantasy, Ms. Allen also works in the Media Industry as a copywriter for websites and a scriptwriter for video productions. You can find her at http://www.kk-allen.com/, on Facebook and on Twitter @KKAllen_Author.

Lynette Creswell is the author of The Magic Trilogy, which includes Sinners of Magic, Betrayers of Magic and Defenders of Magic. The popular and gifted Ms. Creswell has created a fabulously rich world filled with intrigue, mystery and, of course, plenty of magic. She has also penned the light-hearted romance The Witching Hour. As she herself says, “For me, writing is like breathing fresh air, I cannot live without it and I hope my passion shows in my work.” Indeed, it does as demonstrated by the accolades Ms. Creswell has accumulated. Find her at http://lynetteecreswell.wordpress.com/, on Facebook and on Twitter @creswelllyn.

Chess Desalls is the author of the series Travel Glasses, the first book of which is The Call to Search Everywhen, now available on audio book, too. This delightful young adult time travel series will leave you wanting more. In fact I found her twist on time travel intriguing, her characters interesting and the plot tightly written. Toss in some mystery, romance, and a whole lot of adventure and you have a fun read. In addition to being a longtime reader of fantasy and sci-fi novels, the talented Ms. Desalls is also a flutist and recordings of her work can be heard on her website http://www.chessdesalls.com/  Find her on Facebook and on Twitter as well @ChessDesalls.

Interview with English Author Lynette Creswell

This week I had the good fortune to be interviewed by Lynette Creswell, author of the Magic Trilogy and The Witching Hour.  It was a wonderful, thought-provoking experience, and Lynette is an intelligent and gracious person to work with.  Check out her work at lynetteecreswell.wordpress.com and on Twitter @creswelllyn

Click here –> http://wp.me/p3cviT-AC <–to read “In The Spotlight: Novelist, Tim Hemlin.”

If you have questions for me, leave a comment on this site, message me on Facebook or leave a comment in my status on my Facebook Author page TimHemlinAuthor.  And as many of you know, you can always find me on Twitter @TimHemlin

I will return with my regular blog next week.  Embrace the moment my friends!