by J.T. Ellison
With all the publishing news this week – Random reorganizing, the layoffs at S&S, Houghton and Thomas Nelson, Penguin and Harper instituting a pay freeze, Macmillian's uncertainty, and who knows what else looming in the coming days, it's hard to be cheerful. Friends and loved ones are suddenly out of work, faced with unbelievable economic challenges on the heels of a major recession. It seems this holiday season is going to be one of the hardest we've faced in many years.
This is always a difficult time of year for me anyway. I'm not sure when the candy cane fun of my youthful holidays became a drudging chore to me. Thanksgiving hits and my holiday-induced schizophrenia kicks in. Carols – good. Shopping – bad. Cards to friends and family – good. Decorating – bad (the cat loves to eat the tree and spends the month ill. We haven't figured out a way around that yet, so the decorations don't go up until the last minute.) Giving gifts – good. Budgeting for gifts – bad. I flip and flop my way through December, half the time giddy and foolish, the other half staring mournfully out the window, wishing it were January.
For the past two years I've also been on production deadlines during December, so I need to stay focused and tapped into my creativity. Malls and addressing oodles of cards kind of yanks me out of the mindset I need.
I've blamed it on all sorts of things in the past – the fact that all the good holiday shows suddenly stop running anywhere near Christmas and are relegated to awkward times and zero advertising; the fact that my family is in a another state and I can't see them until right at the holiday; the fact that I live in a state with no appreciable snowfall. Yes, I still equate SNOW with CHRISTMAS.
But the truth of the matter is I wish I was still a child, without the concerns that adults face.
One of the most important lessons that I took from my childhood was about lying. Lying is bad. Pinocchio lied and look what happened to him. I distinctly remember telling some sort of untruth and Daddy sitting me down with Pinocchio, making me watch it and explaining the metaphor to me. I got it. I've never been a very good liar. Don't get me wrong, I can spin a tale with the best of them. But looking someone in the eye and telling them an untruth – that's not my forte.
But on paper? On paper, I can fool anyone.
So today, to lift all of our spirits, I thought we should play a game. It's the brainchild of Arthur Phillips, the opening of his novel Prague, and I've stolen the idea directly from the utterly charming Tasha Alexander, who of course would be the first person to think to bring this to the blogosphere.
The game is called Sincerity. Here's how it works.
- Each player makes four statements, none of which can be verifiable facts.
- One must be true, the other three, lies.
- Everyone else tries to guess which statements are true.
- Finally, each player reveals what he said that was sincere.
Score as follows:
+One point for each of your lies that was accepted.
+One point for each correct identification of a true statement.
So tell your biggest whoppers, and be sure to include one truth. And take a guess at your fellow commenters' true and false statements. Toward the end of the day, come back to the blog and reveal your truths. I'll keep score, and the person who win will receive a signed copy of my new novel, JUDAS KISS, that won't be in stores until the end of December.
I'll go first.
1. I was once held and frisked by the Secret Service for hitting the Vice President of the United States.
2. My first pet, a Siamese cat named Jezebelle, lived to be 23 years old.
3. On my honeymoon, a maid stole my diamond earrings from the bedside table, and we had to bring in the Bahamian authorities to have her arrested.
4. I ate escargot for the first time in Paris when I was 18.
Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone who is suffering this holiday season. I hope there is joy in your life again soon.
Wine of the Week: Since we're being all dignified this week, how about a nice glass of port. Fonseca Vintage Porto
PS: NaNoWriMo is over, and though I didn't succeed in hitting 50,000 words this month, I have a promise to keep. If you made it, send me an email at jtellison at jtellison dot com, and I'll do a drawing next Friday to see whose opening pages get a free critique.
PPS: I've added a link in the Round Up to BUY MORE BOOKS, an effort by fabulous new author Karen Dionne to encourage the continuing message that buying books during the holidays is crucial to our longevity. Check it out here, and add your latest buys to the list!