Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Merry Christmas

First a bit of news.
While I have been hard at work writing Scarlet and the Barrier's Fall (only a hundred pages to go) and playing entirely too much Destiny on the old Xbox One, eating too many Christmas cookies, not exercising enough, and attempting for the world record in procrastination, a few notable things have happened which are quite exciting.
First, the audiobook for Scarlet and the Keepers of Light is finished, read by the talented Harriet Stevens.  The post production has been turned in and all that remains is for it to go live in the world of Amazon.  Book two of the series, Scarlet and the Dragon's Burden is now available for preorder and set for a February 2nd release.  Finally, Scarlet and the Keepers of the Light is currently ranked number 3 on the Amazon Top Sellers List for it's genre.  I couldn't be more thrilled.  A special thank you to all the readers out there who have made this possible and I am overjoyed at how many people have expressed their love for the book and their excitement for the next installment.  According to my sources, it is even better than the first!

Now to some fun.  My daughters and I decided to write a Christmas Story together today and after reading it to their mother, we thought it would be neat to share it with you.  I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Holiday Season.  




A Doggy Sleigh Ride
By: Brandon, Charlotte, and Meredith West

A long time ago, before cell phones, Xboxes, computers, and even cars, there lived a young dog who called the Artic Circle his home.  In this magical word of cotton snow and sparkling ice, the young dog, whose name was Toby, loved Christmas.  And of all the wonderful things about Christmas, Toby loved Santa Claus most of all.  Every year he would wait at the entrance to his den, which sat outside his human’s hut, and wait for Santa’s sleigh to travel overhead.  This is the story of the greatest blizzard the Artic Circle had ever seen, and 10 lost presents.
            It was Christmas Eve, the night of the blizzard.  Toby sat where he always sat, looking up expectantly at the sky.  It was very difficult to see through the haze and swirl of white, and he was afraid that he might miss seeing Santa’s sleigh altogether.  When suddenly, the jingle of bells rang out through the night, and there it was.  A giant red sleigh pulled by nine, magnificent flying reindeer, a bright red light shining from the front of the team.  Toby howled with delight, calling to his fellow sled mates (Toby was a part of a sled team himself.  A dog sled team).  He heard them grumbling from the den, but none actually got up. 
            As the sleigh passed overhead, Toby saw something quite strange.  Small, green and red boxes were falling from the sky.  They landed with a thud somewhere in the distance.  What could they be? Toby thought.  He knew he should probably stay in his den, especially on a night like tonight, but curiosity got the better of him.
            The snow was deep and despite Toby’s well suited paws that had allowed him to run over many a snow fall, he found himself sinking into the drifts up to his chest as he tried to make it over to where the boxes had fallen.  Behind him, the small town of Bjord, normally bright with Christmas lights, sparkling ornaments, and baubles, was dim—the blizzard having blown over most of the decorations.  Toby trudged on through the darkness, sure that if he didn’t find the boxes soon, he might not be able to find his way back to town.  It was so difficult to see, that he actually tripped over the first box before he saw it.
            Wrapped neatly in red and green paper, one of Santa’s Christmas gifts—ten in fact—lay in the frozen snow. 
            “Oh, No!” Toby exclaimed.  When Santa Claus visited ten little children’s houses tonight, he would find their presents missing.  Ten little children would get nothing from Santa for Christmas. 
            Toby took one of the presents in his mouth and ran—more of a trudge, really—through the snow and back to his human’s hut.  He lay the present on the doorstep and began barking furiously.
            Seeing as dogs have much better hearing than humans, and the wind was howling considerably, Toby’s sled mates heard him barking before his human did.
            “Toby, what is all the racket about,” Bob, a particularly cranky old malamute, called.
            “Yeah, haven’t you ever heard of sleep,” Jack said, and started to walk out of the den.
            “What in the world are you doing up, Toby,” Max exclaimed.  He was Toby best friend, and normally a bit more understanding of Toby’s late night wanderings.  He was especially tired this evening, however, and even he was a bit on the cranky side.
            “Santa’s presents,” Toby responded.  “He’s lost ten of his presents off of his sleigh.
            “Oh, no,” Lilly exclaimed.  She was a white Siberian husky, who, if it weren’t for her bright blue eyes, would have been all but invisible in the blizzard.
            “There’s only one here,” Bob said.  He might be cranky and old, but missing presents from Santa was serious business.
            “I could only bring one,” Toby explained.
            “Well come on then,” Bob ordered.  “The five of us should be able to handle it.”
            Toby led them back to where the gifts had fallen and after two slow trudging trips, they were able to get all of the presents back to the hut.  Then, all five began barking and howling in unison.  The wind was no match for five noisy sled dogs.
            The door to the hut burst open and standing in the threshold was a giant of a man, his face covered in a thick brown beard, and his body covered with bright pink pajamas that looked utterly ridiculous on his massive frame.
            “You are going to wake the whole town,” he exclaimed.  “What’s got into you?”
            Toby circled the gifts, yipping excitedly.  His human finally noticed the boxes and bent down to pick one up.
            “To Suzie, From Santa,” the big man read.  He looked from the gift in his hands, to his sled dogs, and then to the other nine gifts.  “How in the world did you…where did you…these are gifts from Santa.”
            Toby yipped: “Yes, they fell from his sleigh,” but to his human his worlds only came out as, “Yip, bark, snarl, snarl, yippy yip.”
            “I know who Suzie is and I know just what we’ll do.  We’ll race Santa and hopefully we’ll get there first.  Come on team hook up,” the big man said.
             The sled raced through the night at top speed; the blizzard wasn’t going to stop the dogs and a guy in bright pink pajamas.  They kept racing through the piercing wind even with shoulder deep snow. They had almost reached little Suzie’s hut when the saw Santa’s sleigh.
            “Mush my doggies, mush.  You can beat those reindeer.  Mush!” the big man yelled over the wind.
            The dogs pulled.  Santa’s sleigh sailed.  Neither gaining on the other.  Santa’s sleigh had begun its decent to Suzie’s house, when the sled team reached a huge snow bank blocking their path.  It would take too long to go around.  There was no time.  Santa worked fast.  He would be done and moved on to the next house before the sled team…
            “Mush, doggies.  Straight on.  We’ll bust right through it,” the big man called.
            The sled dogs threw their weight against their harnesses and plowed into the snow bank, drifts of white powder exploding in all directions.  Breaking through the other side, the big man pulled them to a skidding halt at the front door, just as Santa’s sleigh alighted on the roof.
            The dogs began barking, trying desperately to be heard over the wind.  The man in the pink pajamas grabbed Suzie’s gift and started jumping up and down calling for Santa.  For one horrible moment, they thought Santa wouldn’t be able to hear them; the blizzard was blowing so strong and the howling wind so loud.  When suddenly, Santa turned and his smile was bright enough see even through the snow.  He put a finger to the side of his nose and in a blink, appeared beside the big man.
            “Why, Big Alvid, I haven’t seen you since you were a wee big lad.  What have you got there?” Santa asked.
            For a moment, Alvid—the big man in the pink pajamas—was too star struck to speak.  Finally he said: “Presents.  Suzie.  Race.  Dogs.”
            Santa laughed.  “Ho, Ho, Ho.  I thought my sleigh felt a bit light.”  He bent down and ruffled the dogs’ fur, stopping beside Toby and giving the young pup and extra ruffle and a wink.
            Santa gathered the presents in his arms. “And now who found these presents that fell from my sleigh?” Santa said his eyes twinkling as he smiled.
            “My dogs, they found the presents,” Alvid answered.
            “But of course they did, good dogs,” Santa bellowed, his laugh shaking his considerable belly.  “Well, you all should be getting back home before this blizzard really picks up.  Thank you again.  And Merry Christmas.”
            And in a blink, Santa was gone.  A moment later, his sleigh lifted into the night and Alvid, at a much slower pace, guided his sled team back home.
            Back in the den, Toby thought for sure he would never be able to get to sleep.  It wasn’t everyday you got to meet Santa Claus and save Christmas for ten little children.  But the race through the blizzard had been exhausting and before he knew it he was fast asleep. 
            When he woke the next morning, Toby was hit by a sad realization.  The blizzard had destroyed all of the decorations in town.  It certainly wasn’t going to look very Christmassy today, but at least the children had all gotten their presents.  He stood, stretched his soar legs and back, took a step toward the den entrance, and tripped onto his face.  On the ground, beside each of the dogs, was a massive, juicy bone.  Toby smiled.  Santa had even made time to visit five little sled dogs.
            Talking his bone, Toby left the den to survey the damage the blizzard had done to the town.  His mouth fell open and his eyes went wide.  The town decorations were not destroyed.  In fact, the lights, the ornaments, and the baubles were more spectacular than ever.  Santa had been quite busy indeed.

The End

24th of December 2014

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Scarlet Hopewell