Friday, December 2, 2016

The Christmas Ball Diaries

In a faraway corner of a dark dusty attic stood a small stack of time worn old boxes. Inside one of the oldest boxes, nestled in a blanket of aged, yellowed newsprint, the Little Red Christmas Ball yawned awake from a long, peaceful, waiting sleep.
Amid the tales of yesterday he’d waited. Through the soft bloom of spring to the crisp colors of autumn and winter's shortening light, he’d waited and waited...and dreamed....        

And so begins “The Little Red Christmas Ball” my new book which is—as the subtitle proclaims—a story for kids and anyone whoever was...and would be again.

So, pretty much least I hope.

I wrote these words— my first lines of fiction—way back in 1992 when a video producer overran his budget and basically didn’t have enough money to pay for my services rendered. So, in lieu of cash he offered me one of his old computers and told me to go write that novel I’d always talked about.

And I did, night after night, into the early morning hours, over the course of a year; I sat and brought this story and characters to life.

At the time, this was kind of amazing since, up ‘til then, the only things I’d ever written were grocery lists and notes to my landlord saying the check was in the mail; which, now that I think of  it, was probably my first real lines of fiction.

But there I sat in the dark, for it didn’t seem possible to tell this story in the light, even if I had paid my electric bill. And slowly but surely emerged this great adventure, with these quirky little characters performing on Christmas Eve, no less...which, in fact, every night became as I sat in the soft glow of white words on a blue screen, my least for a magical little while.

Writers work in different ways.  Many are methodical, outlining their entire story, chapter by chapter, every twist and turn, dead ends and resolution, long before they ever write a sentence. Others, like me, prefer winging it, letting the story tell itself while struggling to keep pace.

The best part—at least for me—about this method is: I’m constantly surprised, just like a reader, where the story takes me.

When I began, I had little more than an idea; an idea that rattled around my head for a decade or so after I knocked a small little Christmas ornament off our tree, one night, as I was unplugging the lights.

While in truth, the ornament was not an actual little red Christmas ball, it became that—one of my mom’s simple glass ornaments from the 60’s—in my mind as I struggled to sleep that night, feeling all kinds of guilt for not picking the little guy up and putting him back on his modest evergreen home.
I mean, he’d waited all year for this.

The curse of imagination, I suppose. How upset this little red Christmas ball must be…how could I be so cruel?

As the idea continued rattling over the years, a few more details emerged while I related the tale to a few family members and friends, from time to time.

A loose plot and a small cast of supporting characters slowly emerged.

Somebody had to share this adventure with this little red Christmas ball, so who better than two insects and a rodent.


Okay, maybe a little off putting, but who else roams your house in the dark of night…whether you like it or not? 

Besides, Mr. Disney had some luck with similar types of critters. Why couldn’t a cockroach be as lovable as a cricket? 

As I was introduced to Cookie Cock-a-Roach, with the hyphenated A, I was surprised to discover after a few pages, he had taken on some of the characteristics of a fastidious and overly cautious C-3PO from Star Wars.

Go figure.

But it seemed to be working and played well with the careless, oblivious, single minded nature of  the House Mouse, who I imagined as a bit Joe Pesci-ish, so I went with it.

Spindy Spider is, as spider often are, the calming, sensible, feminine influence, who keeps the boys in line. Through patience, understanding and love she creates order out of disorder while this disparate group races the clock, spinning plan after plan to return the Little Red Christmas Ball, back to his rightful place on the Christmas Tree, before Santa arrives.

What kind of Little Red Christmas Ball would I be if I missed a Christmas? I would have no purpose at all….”

So every night as the sun went down, I took to my keyboard to discover what happened next.

And night after night I was surprised to find…something always did.  Sometimes what I‘d intended, but often what I had not.

So, in this way I spun the tale of “The Little Red Christmas Ball” until, reluctantly, I found myself at the story’s end.

But not entirely.

The best part of writing a book, as opposed to reading a book, is you never really say goodbye to your characters. There’s never the sense of, “I’m gonna miss hanging with these guys.”

Your characters are always with you, prodding and poking, reminding you of your better self.

Plus, I admit, from time to time, I do hear the House Mouse, suggesting a series of sequels called “Cheesy Mysteries” featuring, guess who.

“It would be da poifect follow up. Poifect, I tell ya. Who doesn’t love a good Mouse Detective…who…come on, tell me who...huh...who???”

To which Cookie, replies, “No, no, no dear boy…what an utterly ridiculous idea. ‘Cookie’s Chronicles’ is much more, appropriate. Don’t you agree?”

While Spindy rolls her spidery eyes, still amused by the familiar squabbling, and the Little Red Christmas Ball giggles from above, thinking, some things never change.

I hope you enjoy the story, but even more…I hope it becomes one of your family’s new Christmas traditions as you curl up on the couch with your kids and your kids kids or even alone, warmed by the fire and a cup of hot chocolate, garnished with a peppermint candy cane.

It’s the best part of the writer’s privilege, this world I created; a world, once, only for me…now shared with you.

Even if you are hogging all the candy canes....


Looking for a fun, new Christmas Tradition to share?

"The Little Red Christmas Ball" will shine bright and hold tight for you and your family...this year and every year to come....

Now available at Amazon

And don't forget

“The Kingdom of Keys”

also available at Amazon

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