Welcome back to our new Tuesday segment, where we’ll be revisiting some of our most popular posts from the last few years.  What’s stayed the same?  And what’s changed?  We’ll be updating you on the facts, and taking a new (and hopefully refreshing) angle on a few timeless classics of Self Publishing Advisor.


[ Originally posted: December 20th, 2013 ]

‘Tis the SEASON to……BELIEVE.

You may recall from a previous blog—or two—that I’m working on a children’s book series.  So…fairly often, my thoughts tune-in to those stories “dancing like sugar plums” in my head.  This season of Christmas and Hanukkah cheer is no different, especially as I realize that my great-grandchildren are “aging” rapidly.  So it is that I’ve gone to the bookstore shelves and selected two of my favorite storybooks—written by other authors—to share with them on Christmas Eve.

The theme or technique I most enjoy in storybooks is when writers personify animals, allowing them to offer a perspective that children easily grasp and “grownups” might have lost the capacity to imagine.  This Friday-before-Christmas, I offer you one more story—a legend really—a bit of generational tradition-telling reminiscent of Native American oral-histories—written by yours truly for all my children—author/clients included.

THAT NIGHT a handsome Nubian Ibex—Samuel—stood on the high point of a knoll watching the shepherds and their flocks in the rock-strewn meadow below.  His masked friend, Barney Owl, was restless and had just circled his favorite perching-tree for a third time.  With a twist of his large antlers and a twitch of his tail, Samuel signaled to Barney, What bothers you, friend?  With a flutter of wings and a high pitched shriek, Barney gave the warning: A crackling is in the air—the heavens are about to open.  Samuel lifted his head and sniffed the cold air.  He shook his huge antlers and pawed at the ground sending the message: There’s no hint of rain.

At that very moment a brilliant light removed the darkness from the night and rainbow spears of sound filled the air!  Voices of thundering melody fell upon their ears waking every living creature.  An announcement was being made—in every language of creation.  “The Babe is born!  Your King has come!  He sleeps in Bethlehem; the earth is now His home.”

The shepherds fell to knees and hands; and sheep scattered the rocks and sand.  Barney Owl flew to Samuel’s back, marching to-and-fro; pushing him to GO!

The unseen singing voices raised to higher pitch, then softened to mellow notes as Samuel blinked.  And so they went—Samuel with friend Barney Owl—followed by squirrel, and mouse and racing deer—wooly sheep, goats and gazelle—and bevies of beautiful birds flying at all altitudes.  They seemed to be dancing to the crescendo of voices—voices that vaulted from meadow to mountain tops.

Then they were there—in the Presence of the King—a wee-tiny Babe wiggling to see.  It was brave Michael Mouse who first touched His Hand.  The whole of the gathering pulled in a deep breath.  Then Hoopie, the bird, let go a melodious coo-oo—that started everyone singing in words they never knew.  The language of humans came from their throats—as the Babe laughed and giggled with each new note.

This One Night when Light came to earth—brought a gift to animals of every kind—voices to use and words to speak—in Praise of their King—their Creator and Friend.  Their harmony soared with the Angels of Heaven—then softened to humming as the Babe’s eyes closed.

One tear was then seen in the eye of the Owl.  He knew this gift would fade at sunrise.  “Samuel,” Owl whispered in the Ibexes’ ear.  “Let us all stay here—and sing while we can—so this miracle will be passed forward in the memory of man.”

by Royalene Doyle


Christmas is just days away, and there’s no better time to bring back a classic Royalene post than three days out from the big event.  There’s something touching, something profoundly moving, in the words of that final paragraph–even for those of us indie authors who may not celebrate the holiday as a religious event.  What better way to close out a year than with a little meditation, a little reflection on the importance of joy and memory to all of our lives?

One of my own personal favorites when it comes to Christmas stories is the short story “Finding Christmas: An Australian Christmas Story,” written by Annie Bryant.  It’s sweet, as all Christmas tales are, but it manages to steer clear of saccharine in part because it revolves around a little boy named Joey and his experiences on a farm Down Under–and the details Bryant weaves in help keep the story grounded in his world.

The story begins:

Where do you find Christmas in your family? Is it hidden within the pages of your favourite story book? Maybe it’s wrapped up in a gift made especially for someone you love? Or perhaps, it can be found amongst the delicious smells of a Christmas feast? Well, this is the story of a little boy who went on his own search for Christmas….and you’ll never guess what he found!

I’ll leave it up to you to read the rest, since I don’t want to spoil either Bryant’s rich voice or the story’s ending.  Suffice it to say, you won’t regret taking a couple of minutes to peruse the full version.  Bryant, who self-publishes her stories first and foremost as songs, draws upon the imagery of her home country, which may not seem like the perfect conduit for a traditional Christmas in the Northern Hemisphere–except that, by stripping away our stereotypes of snow and cozy fires and church spires in winter, she manages to get at the real heart of what the holiday is about: discovery, human compassion, and connection with others.

I hope your Christmas season is as richly textured as those we read about in stories, and has an equally happy ending. ♠

barn owl


KellyABOUT KELLY SCHUKNECHT: Kelly Schuknecht is the Executive Vice President of Outskirts Press. In addition to her contributions to the Outskirts Press blog at blog.outskirtspress.com, Kelly and a group of talented marketing experts offer book marketing services, support, and products to not only published Outskirts Press authors, but to all authors and professionals who are interested in marketing their books and/or careers. Learn more about Kelly on her blog, kellyschuknecht.com.

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