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Peggy's Pages Blog 

Christmas Greetings!

December is such a busy time of year for just about everyone. People celebrate the season in different ways. For me and my family it’s about celebrating the birth of the Christ Child, and Christmas. Many of us also tie in waiting for the Christ Child with waiting for Santa to arrive. Santa goes by different names in different cultures. Here are just a few.

St. Nicholas was a kind monk born in Turkey. He is known as a protector of children and sailors. St. Nicholas day is celebrated on December 6th.

Sinter Klass is given by the Dutch, who brought the tradition to America.

Christkind is German for “Christ Child, and was something like an angel that went along with St. Nicholas on his missions.

Kris Kringle most likely came from the Pennsylvania Dutch in the 1820’s. He would ring his bell and give out cakes and nuts to small children, but if they misbehaved, they would receive a spanking with his rod.

Father Christmas came from England. He would come down the chimney and leave treats in the children’s stockings.

Pere Noel comes from France. He puts treats in the shoes of well-behaved children. He is joined by Pere Fouetard who provides spankings to bad children.

Babouschka comes from Russia. One story is that she put off traveling with the Wise Men to see the Baby Jesus, instead opting to have a party, and regretted it afterward. So she set out every year to find the baby Jesus and give Him her gifts. Instead, she does not find him and gives the gifts to the children she finds along the way.

Santa Claus originated in the 1800’s. By 1840 holiday ads featured Santa. In 1890 the Salvation Army began dressing up unemployed workers as Santa and having them solicit donations throughout New York. But it was Clement Clarke Moore, an Episcopal Minister, and Thomas Nast, a cartoonist, that brought us the picture of our modern day Santa. In 1822 Moore wrote a long poem titled, An Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas. It is what we now know as 'Twas the Night Before Christmas,

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, or Happy Holidays in whatever way you celebrate! I leave you with an unpolished verse for those of you who are fellow children's writers.

If Santa came to visit
Children's writers late tonight,
Would he leave some magic stardust
To help us when we write?

Would his elves tuck great ideas
in the stockings by our beds,
with words and plots and characters
to dance inside our heads?

Would jingle bells inspire us
and first lines come with ease?
Would action, voice and poetry
await beneath our trees?

May all your dreams become great books!
May ideas soon take flight.
And the joy and peace of Christmas
be with you when you write!
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Don’t just wait—Do something!

We do a lot of waiting at this time of year! Waiting, and wishing, and hoping. There’s a lot of waiting going on for writers, too.

Some writers wait for ideas. You don’t get very far when you do this. You need to make the ideas come to you. Ok, it’s snowing outside. There are stories about snowflakes, snowmen, kids making snow forts, snowball fights, sledding, skating (let yourself get off on a tangent), and much more. All ideas that came from the fact that it snowed.

Other writers wait for time to write. First their house has to be spotless. Then they cook, shop, garden, iron, organize their closets, alphabetize their pantry, watch their favorite TV show, facebook their friends that they just drank a cup of coffee. You get the picture. Writers who write make time to write. They get up at 4 am or stay up until 2 am. They write in the car, waiting in line to pick up their kids, or at the doctor’s office. Their house might be clean but it’s usually messy. They wear clothes that don’t have to be ironed, and they cook once a week (sometimes for the whole week at once). They DVR their favorite TV show to watch next summer. If something happens and they miss a day, or a week, they jump right back in.

Sometimes waiting can be a good thing. Like when we’ve written a first draft that we love, then put it aside, and wait. We forget about it for a couple of weeks, then take it out and read it again, for a fresh look. Because then we can see that it’s not as great as we first thought. And we revise. Because good writing is re-writing.

So finally our manuscript is ‘done,’ and we send it out to publishers. And we wait, and hope for acceptance. But waiting doesn’t mean that we can’t do something else in the meantime. Ok, maybe we’ll celebrate with a piece of chocolate first, or make the bed. But get ready, and start something new! Pick another idea from things going on around you, or from memories. Make it fresh. How will it start? Who is it about? Where will it go?

Woo-hoo! Our manuscript is accepted! And with it comes—more waiting. Waiting for the contract. Waiting for the editor to send her revision requests. Waiting for an illustrator (in the case of a picture book). Waiting to see their sketches and color prints. Waiting for the cover art, and finally the finished book. Done!

But wait! There’s more. We wait for the reviews, and hope that they’re good. We wait to get our books in the mail. We wait to see it in the stores and libraries, and hope that kids (and parents) like it.

Editors (and agents) wait for us, too. They wait for that manuscript that will make them laugh or cry, and that they just can’t put down. They encourage us when they tell us what they’re looking for, on the web or at conferences. And they help us with revisions when we’re lucky enough to have our manuscript accepted.

Like the season we’re in now, we need to do something while we wait. Whether it’s Christmas or another holiday that you celebrate this season, we all do things while we wait for the day to arrive. We decorate our homes, sing carols and songs, light candles, and do things for others.

Writers write new stories, blog, write, read, write, go to critique groups, celebrate children’s books, write…. and wait.

So Happy ‘Waiting’ Times to you! And Happy Stories to all!  Read More 
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