Christmas Tat

image1No, this isn’t a post about my latest tattoo (I haven’t had a new tattoo since circa 2007!), but about what the lovely Brits refer to as “tat.” I’m sure Americans call it that occasionally, too, but I’d never heard the word used as such until I moved here. Useless junk. Tasteless whatnots. Whatever you want to call it.

Every year at Christmas, I notice more and more Christmas tat lining shelves by shop doors and registers, sections right along main entryways and aisles full of gift sets out the wazoo. I’m not talking about quality products that come in box sets. I’m talking boxes of cheap perfume and cologne, no-name-brand bath soaps, and cheap toys and novelty items that get played with for three days. The cheesy junk that feels like it was left over from a rummage sale. A reindeer hat that will get worn once and then given to a charity shop! A touchscreen stylus in the shape of a carrot! And then, there’s THIS.

Total impulse buys — just walk two inches in a department store and you’re bombarded with candy containers the size of Montana, boxed candle sets that smell more like feet than pine trees, and Christmas-themed EVERYTHING so you can basically buy one of each and be set for your entire gift list.


Seeing all this junk makes me think extra hard about what I buy for people these days. Christmas isn’t JUST about giving, but giving is a lot of what we do at the holidays. And giving isn’t just about buying something on your way to the register so you can fulfil an obligation. Companies package stuff in a clear plastic tray inside an easy-to-store red & green box, practically screaming, “This is an awesome buy! Look, it’s all holiday-ready and all you have to do is stick it in one of these nifty £5 gift bags (when an entire roll of Christmas wrapping paper might only cost £2)!”

I was reminded even more of this last month. Black Friday has made its way to the UK (despite there being no Thanksgiving and national holiday and therefore no crucial day off work on Friday for people to shop). Stores were in the news for hordes of people stampeding for dusty big-screen TVs that no one would touch 2 months ago because they were cheap, overstocked rubbish. But take ten quid off the price, put a bow on them, open the doors 3 hours early, and BAM! Instant sellout.

I love giving gifts. Things I think people will enjoy, or need, not what’s easy to grab on my way toward the tills. Making things or buying personalised items or just something that took a bit of consideration is what I want to do. And the more outrageous the tat gets, the easier it is for me to think about what I’m giving to someone else. I want to say, “I care about you and I thought about you,” not, “I ticked you off a list, here’s random item #8.” It’s so easy to get swept up into the consumerism madness, but it’s all just stuff, in the end. I want the stuff to symbolise something much more important: the love and appreciation I have for someone else being part of my life.

(That’s not to say I didn’t buy a whoopie cushion at a gift shop last summer. But I bought that for myself. 😉

May your Christmas season be filled with love, family, friends, and peace <3



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WIPMarathon Check-In #3

I’m moving very slowly on these goals, but I’m here to say January is where it’s AT 😉

Last Check-in Wordcount + ChapterCount (+ scene count if you’re revising): I still don’t even know what to put here. Haven’t been working on the WIP apart from a chapter/scene outline, but that’s nearly finished, so then I can move on to actually WRITING WORDS 🙂 Then I’ll have some numbers for ya…

WIP Issues this week: I was planning to leave one MS alone over the holidays, but I finished a LitReactor class and got very encouraging feedback that kickstarted a train of thought about a change in a thread of the MS. No plot change, but motivation change, in a way. And as you might imagine, this change had tentacles woven throughout about a quarter of the chapters. So while this was an “issue”, it was also a huge, huge blessing that I realised what I could change, and how it would tidy up and smooth out the MS. When I finished this revision (after making a Rachel Aaron-style Google doc full of changes and what chapter each necessary change takes place in), I felt so peaceful. And I slept like I hadn’t in weeks, so I can only think this “issue” was the thing I’d known in the back of my head for a long time I needed to address. Having done so feels like magic. 🙂

What I learnt this week in writing: I read Rachel Aaron’s 2k TO 10K book (highly recommended!!) and I highlighted tons of stuff in it on my Kindle, but here’s one:

Never put a scene you don’t love in your book.

AMEN! That’s earth-shattering. I don’t know why, but it is. Really made me think about those “Oh, ugh, how do I make this boring chapter interesting?”-type feelings.

What distracted me this week while writing: Christmas. We did a mini Christmas yesterday, opened presents my family sent from the States, watched Rudolph and The Snowman, and then went to see Die Hard at the cinema late showing. YIPPEE KI-YAY!!! Love that film. Classic on so many levels! 🙂 Then we left this morning at sunrise for Scotland and made it under 6 hours in sunny weather (rain didn’t hit ’til we arrived). Now, time to catch up on sleep before getting back to the WIP!

Last 200 words:

He moved to rise when we finished our meal, but I put a hand on his arm and he stopped.

“What is it, lassie?”

“Promise me something, Finlay.”

He inclined his head and I locked onto his eyes. “You can’t ever tell me anything you might . . . See. If I know the future, anything negative, I’ll be tempted to try to stop it. And I can’t let that happen. I told Marnock I wouldn’t.”

Finlay’s brows knitted together, but he rubbed my hands with callused fingers. After a moment, he nodded.

“Of course. I promise.”

His left eye twitched. I lurched forward across the table, my chest leaning on my now-empty bowl as I gripped his hands. “You’ve already Seen something, haven’t you?”

He smiled sadly but squeezed tight. “It doesna concern us, lass. I will keep my vow to you, this one and all.”

Despite all my posturing, I trusted those eyes. After a moment, I sat back down. I was damned if I’d cry in a roomful of strangers who needed reason to remember us. I’d spent twenty-two years barring my emotions, treating men with indurate regard and lightning-fast defenses. It felt better than coming home to say, “I love you,” out loud.

And that was what worried me.

– – –

Merry Christmas to all and hope you find time to squeeze in some writing, but if you’re home visiting family & friends you’ve not seen in awhile, ENJOY THAT PRECIOUS TIME! 🙂

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ChristMAS is all around us…

A Christmasy view from Glen Nevis, Scotland

First off, Christmas is soon, so MERRY CHRISTMAS (that’s right, I didn’t say “Happy Holidays”) and I hope you (yes, you!) have a fantastic time with lots of cookies, food, drink, people, presents, movies, books.. whatever your thing is for this time of year. Since I’ve jumped the gun on my annual LOTR-marathon thanks to the new Blu-ray and home cinema my fiance’ recently bought (we had to test it out the best way I knew how 😉 I’ll be pulling out my other holiday favourites: Love Actually (who can resist Bill Nighy trying to get his Christmas number 1’s rhythm correct?), It’s a Wonderful Life, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and The Snowman.

One of my favourite gifts from last year was not the wine that came in this (though that was good, too!) but the Santa-wine-snuggie itself.

I plan to do a lot of writing over the season since we’re headed up to Scotland for 18 days and likely to be snowed in once we get there. *rolls up sleeves* Perfect time to make some killer headway on my work-in-progress, a fantasy (possibly YA, but still working that out… bit hazy as the MC is 17, but it’s not really focused on YA-type situations so much as her specific situation.. anyhow, more on that later) set in what might’ve once been Britain but is now very much overrun with magic gone wild, snarky unicorns, sexy hags (you read that right), and a desperate attempt to find a cure for the MC’s hometown, centuries-old magical plague that’s imprisoned them on their ruined island.

AND for fantastic news on a great Christmas contest, check out C.A. Marshall’s website:

It’s “Editing Advent 2011” and she has graciously been giving a winner an editing prize a day! Go enter! And while you’re at it, check out her website, too. I just stumbled over this inspirational post of hers – there are many more!

On that note, I should get back to my WIP. Hope you have a lovely Christmas season <3

Yes, I have a giant red plush crab who likes to wear a Santa hat this time of year. Isn’t he the sweetest?
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