23 December 2021

All Things Father Christmas - including Santa and NORAD

Image from Pixabay

Here I am, back again with my traditional Christmas post, because, as with all good Traditions, it has the right amount of fact while not taking itself too seriously. And after yet another year of Covid do we need a bit of not taking oneself too seriously! 

Let it raise a smile as snippets are retold over a glass of something warming and yet another mince pie.

Wishing all my readers, of this blog and of my books,
a wonderful festive season, whatever your beliefs. 


Who will be leaving gifts at your hearth? 

Here in the UK it is definitely Father Christmas who will be visiting, and despite his title he has nothing to do with Christianity, or parenthood, or even humans. It is the spirit of Mid-Winter, a personification clothed in evergreen, wrapped in holly and ivy, and garlanded in red berries and mistletoe. 

Striding in from the myths/mists of pre-history, this jovial spirit arrived at the solstice to partake in the mid-winter frivolities. The people welcomed it with entertainment, plied it with food and alcoholic beverages, and gave offerings so that it might not linger too long but instead beat smooth a path for an early spring.

Not a terrible lot changed when the Roman Legions made a home in these lands. They brought with them Saturnalia, a festival of light. Homes were garlanded with evergreen, and a good deal of partying was undertaken beneath the watchful eye of their god of agriculture, Saturn, often depicted carrying a scythe. So far so good.

Enter Christianity and a need by the early church to leverage ‘Jesus the Christ’ against entrenched Paganism. No one knew the birthdate of Jesus of Nazareth, so the Pope of the time decided Jesus should be given one. The Pagan equinox celebrations of spring and autumn had already been coveted, so why not align the day to the biggest Pagan celebration of them all? A bishop from the Middle East, recently raised to sainthood for his good works, was also pressed into action: Nicholas (more or less). In the face of such worthiness the Brits remained steadfastedly wedded to their eat, drink and make merry.
The Romans assimiliated or left for sunnier shores, and the Saxons and Jutes invaded from Germania, bringing along their Woden and winter’s Father Time. They also believed in eat, drink and make merry, so they fitted in quite well. 
A few centuries later came an invasion by the Norse and Danes (Vikings) who also believed in eat, drink and make merry (you might notice a pattern developing). They brought along their own version of Woden Odin who, during mid-winter, took on the manifestation of Jul – Yule – in that he was portly, white-bearded signifying age, had the ability to see into people’s minds and know if they’d been good or not-so-good, and rode a horse, Sleipnir, which travelled at terrifying speed due to it having eight legs. Father Christmas as we know it was beginning to coalesce.

Saint Nicholas didn’t truly put in an appearance on British shores until the islands were invaded yet again, this time in 1066 by ex-Vikings, the Normans. However, no matter how the populace was “encouraged” to be pious, once out of the church doors after celebrating Jesus’ birthday, eat, drink and make merry remained the national stance. 
Not even the Puritans, who in the mid-17th century took the field and the country during the English Civil War, could fully ban Christmastide – ie the eat, drink and make merry – though they certainly gave it a determined try. In retaliation, Father Christmas, as he was by then well known, made appearances in Mummer’s Plays, basically to raise a glass or an obscene gesture (or both) to the Puritan Parliament. And what happened to the Puritans? We happily waved them off to America (more or less).
1836 book illustration of Mummers entering a house, led by Father Christmas, and including St George and the Dragon.
A group of Mummers entering a well-to-do Victorian house, Father Christmas leading. Note his holly staff & crown, and drinker’s nose. Assorted characters in the troupe following include St George and the Dragon, England’s patron saint. Illustration, by Robert Seymour, from ‘The Book of Christmas’ by Thomas Kibble Hervey, 1836. Image in Public Domain via Wikimedia.

It was in America, after the War of Independence in the 18th century, that the populace began to embrace a certain Sinterklaas from the Dutch tradition of Saint Nicholas, doubtless because it wasn’t British (ungrateful individuals). 
In 1810 the New York Historical Society held a dinner in honour of Saint Nicholas, and twelve years later Clement Moore, drawing on Norse and Germanic folklore, wrote a poem A Visit from St Nicholas which was subsequently published as The Night Before Christmas. Thus Santa Claus came into his own, wearing the vestiges of Father Christmas/Jul. Even the reindeer and sled mentioned in the poem came from the Sámi people of Lapland, who the Viking peoples to the south of them firmly believed were ‘magicians’.

The Coca-Cola Company? Bah humbug! Late to the party. Santa Claus and even Father Christmas were wearing red before it showed up with its non-alcoholic beverage. But it had, and still has if its vivid red pantechnicon is anything to go by, damned good copywriters.
Which finally brings me to NORAD. Yes, the North American Aerospace Defence Command based in Colorado Springs. In 1955 Sears Roebuck & Company, also based in Colorado Springs, placed an advertisement in the press inviting children to phone Santa. Except the phone number was misprinted. Guess who was inundated with phone calls? CONAD – the Continental Air Defence Command and forerunner of NORAD. Despite being in the grips of the Cold War and personnel supposedly watching for in-coming missiles from you-know-where, the Defence Command put diplomacy to the fore and gave radar updates to children on the progress of Santa from the North Pole.

And thanks to the late Colonel Harry Shoup, Director of Operations at the time, it still does. Check on Santa’s progress at https://www.noradsanta.org/ Arrive before Rudolph gathers the other reindeer, visit the Elf Village where there are activities and games to keep you and your little ones enthralled.

So, wherever you are, and whatever spirit of Nature you believe in, be sure to eat, drink and make merry this festive season. It's a Tradition.

With grateful thanks to Wikipaedia, History Today, Time-Travel Britain, Museum of UnNatural Mystery, and NORAD for their assistance in producing this tongue-firmly-in-cheek blogpost.

24 November 2021

Medieval Romance #Free Amazon Ebook

Hostage of the Heart - a medieval romantic suspense set on the English-Welsh borders - is enjoying a five-day free promotion on Amazon. Download it now, while it's available:

Global Amazon link: https://viewBook.at/HostageOfHeart

Book Description:

England, September 1066: the northern militia has been raised to support the new English king, leaving the Welsh marches dangerously unprotected. Rhodri ap Hywel, prince of the Welsh, sweeps down the valley to reclaim stolen lands, taking the Saxon Lady Dena as a battle hostage.

Appalled when her kinsfolk refuse to pay her ransom, can Dena place her trust, and her life, in the hands of a warrior-knight shielding dark secrets of his own? When the tables are turned, where stands her belief in honour?

Enjoy your free read!

22 September 2021

Torc of Moonlight Boxed Set Discounted to 99p / 99c


Or #RomanticFantasy - whichever is your preferred sub-genre label.

The boxed set Torc of Moonlight Trilogy is currently discounted to 99p / 99c for just over 900 gripping pages. Set in real places readers can visit, even on StreetView, this alternative reality story is for those who like their Fantasy set in the Here & Now with a hard-core side-helping of History.

White Ladies are renown for guarding water courses. They are seen from the corner of your eye - except modern sensibilities insist you are mistaken. Yet browse any village history and a White Lady will be there, perhaps in a line drawing surrounded by puddles and bullrushes. She kept the spring water clean. She's the reason Well Dressing festivals survive in this age of water on tap and mains sewerage.

You can read more about White Ladies HERE

To purchase the boxed set for those long, dark, autumnal evenings just around the corner, go to your preferred vendor:

Kindle  ¦ Nook  ¦  Smashwords
Alas, despite asking nicely some time ago, Apple and Kobo refuse to discount the price. What can I say? Go buy it from Smashwords instead.

Also just entering a 99p / 99c discount period is my Dark Fantasy short story collection Contribution to Mankind and other stories of the Dark.

There are six stories to create a frisson down your spine or have you checking the door is locked and bolted. One is even based on true events.

Links: Kindle : Nook : Kobo (Hurrah!) : Smashwords : (only Apple refuses to play nicely)


If Fantasy, SciFi, & Horror, or the plentiful sub-genes thereof, are your cup of hemlock, have a look at the current 99c offerings at SFFBookBonanza 

 Enjoy your reading!

31 August 2021

August has been... about gardening


Part of our garden; my veg plot in the left background.

It wasn’t supposed to be about gardening. It was supposed to be about lazing on a sunlounger with my Kindle in one hand and a cool glass of fizz in the other. Or, if pushed, a notebook and pen for when the muse decided to strike a glancing blow with her serrated wand.

Instead, it has been mostly cutting back spent blooms and staking survivors against the wind, which on some days has sounded as if a winter gale attempting to suck out the double glazing, or doggedly putting in a shift with the watering can in the early evening beneath a clear sky when it has been cloudy throughout normal daytime. Or, as happened twice, running round the house with a rain-hat on my head and an old bath towel over the shoulders of my clothing, bucketing water from one set of overflowing barrels to the other which were gaining a mere trickle from the roof in comparison. Rain, I always thought, was supposed to fall straight, not near enough horizontally. Not in August.

As I write this, and yes it is Bank Holiday weekend when the town should be full to bursting with holidaymakers building sandcastles and throwing themselves gleefully into the sea, the breeze is buffeting what are left of the flowers, it is drizzling on and off, and the temperature is only 3C warmer than Iceland – and Iceland is having a bad day. Spring was late and now Autumn is early. At this rate we'll soon be eating stew and dumplings.

But back to the writing. Have I been doing any? Yes, though it could hardly be described as intensively. I so admire those novelists who can let all the extraneous bits of life and constant interruptions flow around them without derailment.

However, there is good news: I have titles on promotion during part of September, so sign up in the right column to Follow the Blog to have the info delivered to your inbox as soon as it becomes available. You might even enjoy some of them. And I promise not to grumble about the weather. Well, half promise.

31 July 2021

July has been... about reading books


Part of the Watts Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice at Postman's Park, London (click image to enlarge)

I entered the month reading Matthew Harffy’s Wolf of Wessex. Set in 838AD, it tells of widower Dunstan, an ageing ex hearth companion of note, living a lone existence in a forest while attempting to put the deeds and misdeeds of his youth in order before he is reunited with his wife. 

Coming across a mutilated body starts him on a trail well-worn by Westerns, Mysteries, and a whole host of adventure fiction, in print and on screen, but this did not detract at all. The joy in reading Harffy’s tales is learning aspects of the Anglo-Saxon way of life, the beliefs and superstitions rising from it, how and what to forage in the forest for food, down to the system of enforcing law codes when most of the population was illiterate. 

It was a joy to read, and I shall doubtless return to it.



A news article prompted me to check out Laura Dodsworth’s A State Of Fear – How The Government Weaponised Fear During The Covid-19 Pandemic. Unfortunately, its title says it all. Despite it ticking a lot of lurking suspicions, reading it was an eye-opener, as was the history of such “persuasions” all the way back to Freud. 

Remember the early video of China’s people keeling over in the street and medics in hazmat suits running into shot to help? Yeah, right. Information “leaked” to the press, such then being dismissed by Government, only for the “leaked” info to be implemented weeks later? It’s called seeding – well, of course it is, every novelist uses the technique in writing fiction; so how naive was I for not recognising it being practised under my nose? Even the orchestration of the “clap for the NHS”, which I always thought emotionally manipulative, er… was. And Mainstream Media? It just moved from Project Fear Brexit to Project Fear Covid, and remains fixed there. 

The book is, of course, being condemned as conspiracy theory. I’d suggest detractors explain the content of 25 pages of referenced footnotes.  

And so to the image at the top of this post. 

We’ve been in London, for the first time staying within the precincts of ‘The City’, which more or less encompasses the area of Roman Londinium and much of what became the medieval capital. Unexpectedly still under lockdown, most of London was either shut or entry by timed-ticket only. Plan B meant we did a lot of exploratory walking, often taking in the smaller, hidden, gardens which are London’s best-kept secret.

Postman’s Park is one of these, and within its oasis of greenery and flowerbeds we came upon the Watts Memorial to Heroic Self-Sacrifice, opened in 1900. George F Watts, a renowned artist of the period, had proposed a memorial to ordinary men, women and children who had given their lives endeavouring to save the life of another. Only 54 of the originally envisaged 120 ceramic plaques were raised. They make stark, yet valiant, reading.

John Price, some hundred years after the official opening, merely sought a quiet spot for his lunch, but was so awed by these snapshots of history that it caused an abrupt change in career. He moved into academia and ended up as a professor of Modern History, specifically, it seems, to enable him to research and write Heroes of Postman’s Park – Heroic Self-Sacrifice in Victorian London which details the lives and times of those whose scant information adorns the memorial. I’ve only dipped in to the book so far, but can tell it is going to make riveting reading.

Enjoy your August.

11 June 2021

Hello from Linda Acaster's Blog!

This post is for people who signed up, probably years ago, to receive my blog posts direct to your Inbox (~~waves~~ and thank you!). It was run by Feedburner, which I thought was doing a decent job but it seems may not have been. So if you haven't heard from me for a few months, this explains a lot.

However, Feedburner is closing next month, and so I've sought a replacement - hence the green all-singing, all-dancing email from follow.it you will, hopefully, have received to read this.

To keep receiving my blog posts - currently only one a month - you may need to confirm the feed if asked, or you may need to do nothing. To unsubscribe, there should be an Unsubscribe link. I'll be sorry to see you go, but if you haven't heard from me for a while, I quite understand. No one likes to be messed about.

For anyone picking up this post on a link, if you want to subscribe please choose the form 'Get new blogposts by email' form on the right. As an incentive, there will be news of a new Mystery title coming shortly.

Regards to everyone - Linda

31 May 2021

Writer Blowout: 10 Books To Help Hone Your Craft


David Gaughran's Blowout runs until 4th June

Yes, it's the end of May already, and the wettest, dullest, chilliest May since... Ahem! Didn't we do this in April? Unfortunately, yes. And as I write, here in the UK it is the close of the Late May Bank Holiday. Most of the country has been basking in sunshine all weekend; here on the Yorkshire coast we've had low cloud and sea mist. It's enough to send a writer screaming to her desk.

Which I have been doing (not the screaming bit, though I've been sorely tempted on occasions). No fainting at the back there, but the Mystery novella is on its final stretch, with the finish line in sight. More on that next month, if not before.

If you are a writer, you may have heard of David Gaughran, a dynamo of a facilitator and a damned good Historical novelist to boot. He runs the free 'Starting From Zero' course (with no added extras needing payment), and has a very decent weekly marketing tips newsletter, again for free. So what's the catch, you may ask? There really isn't one. Occasionally he may ask for a Twitter or Facebook share, but that's it. And this is one of those occasions, which segued easily into my monthly blog.

David has put together a list of ten ebooks he's read - always a good start - which offer value for novelists. He's taking an affiliate cut, the authors take their own sales proceeds, and the rest of us get to see books that may not have crossed our radar but may well help our writing. And who among us doesn't want that? 

The Blowout runs until 4th June, so don't delay. For links to participating retailers visit:

30 April 2021

Busy Doing Nothing...

Image by Clikr-free-vector images via Pixabay

Well, April has felt as if I’ve been part of a musical comedy, à la the 1949 A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court; either that or I’ve been doing a good impersonation of the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking Glass. Yes, I seem to have been running very fast and seemingly getting not very far.

The mystery novella (metaphors as well) isn’t yet completed when it should have been, and I am still without a cover for it. I’ve done better with Medium.com, where I now have nine articles live, plus my own Table of Contents, and I better understand the platform's ins and outs. As with everything we are new to, it takes time.

The most interesting refilling of the creative well came in the form of the Wrexham Carnival of Words, and I have to say it proved £15 well spent to gain a gateway ticket to eight days of its litfest. Not that I managed to watch any of the speakers live, but this is the joy of YouTube and a ticket code. History Day and Historical Fiction Night were my favourites. I hope Wrexham Carnival of Words produces next year’s litfest via video as well as the usual in-person attendance, which I won't have a hope of making.

The highlight of the month was a profile of me written by author Penny Grubb, which made me seem far more productive than I am. Now we are moving out of Lockdown I shall endeavour to live up to her depiction.

So, I’d better get back to catching up before May arrives. Enjoy your month, and let’s hope it proves to be a bit warmer. Here in the UK it has been the frostiest April for over 60 years, and boy, can our central heating account vouch for that. I hope you've done better.

31 March 2021

Of Fiction, Non-Fiction, and Volcanic Eruptions

By Jonatan Pie via Unsplash
It’s been an interesting month. More on the pic in a moment.

My current work-in-progress is crawling to its finish (let’s not mention when I started writing it). It’s a Mystery, which is a bit of a departure for me, and there will be more on this next month. I should have a cover for it by now, but I don’t, organised as I am.

I’ve also become aware of the potential of the blogging platform, Medium. Though, to call its subject matter blogging is a bit of a misnomer; it’s been referred to as social journalism, and I think that fits.

The platform, which works as a subscription model, holds a large number of digital magazines marketed under diverse topics. Like paper magazines, it majors in non-fiction articles, most of which are behind a paywall. If an article holds perceived quality for its readers, then the writer is paid, and the article can be widely distributed under its topics, not merely available in a search. Despite being early in the learning curve I am finding it rather better than I expected, both in reading content and in rewards.

And now to the image. Since mid-month our household has been glued to Iceland and the natural wonder that is the birth of a volcano in Geldingadalir, the Valley of the Wethers. Or, if you prefer the blunt version, the Valley of the Castrated Rams – Gelding? Get it? Dalir is the English dale, or valley.

The Reykjanes peninsular, where the Keflavik international airport is situated, began being hit by earthquakes in late February, which by early March had built to a swarm – the official name for quakes numbering in the tens of thousands. As nearly 600 were over magnitude 3 and over 60 over magnitude 4, the earth was meaning business.

On the evening of 19 March a red glow was seen reflected from clouds south of the capital, Reykjavik. When daylight broke the first scientists flew out, followed by hiking Icelanders who refused to take no for an answer. I wrote an article on it for Medium. If you’re a member you can view it HERE. If not, enjoy this two-minute time-lapse recorded on 22 March.


Or watch the daily Live Feed. The weather can be interesting, too.



Update 05 April 2021: around noon local time a line fissure opened up 500 metres away from the main double cone. Within eight hours it was throwing up a cooling dark-lava wall along its length. CameraFlo is showing it; CameraBob is focused on the original double vent. Both cameras are renewed daily.

[Note: apologies for the line spacing. This is what happens when technology is updated. I have no idea.]

26 February 2021

Spring Conferences: Archaeology, Hull Noir Crime, Wrexham Carnival of Words

The Pandemic might still be with us, but spring is springing, therefore the Virtual Conference Season is starting. I have notification of three, and no matter where you are in the world you can join in. Two are even free!

05-07 March - FREE via YouTube
Current Archaeology magazine is hosting Current Archaeology Live! 2021 (note the March date)

There are 20 talks scheduled including an update on the prehistoric dig at the Ness of Brodgar, Orkney; various Roman themed talks; Ice Age art on the Jersey Channel Island; the Worsley Man Bog Body; work by the National Trust, and more.

All talks will be uploaded to YouTube for viewing only during the weekend of 5-7 March. 

19-20 March - FREE via Zoom

Hull Noir is again holding its annual Crime & Mystery event, but this time via Zoom. Friday evening kicks off with author Peter Robinson in conversation.

Saturday 20th is a day of panels and discussions by various Crimewriters of renown. Registration for each is a must. Follow the link for further details.



17-24 April - £15 to include all events via YouTube

The Wrexham Carnival of Words is hosting a fantastic line-up - more authors talking writing and research than anyone could shake a stick at.

There's no point me trying to explain the line-up. Best follow the link for a full write-up and buy your ticket. Then ensure the phone is off the hook, the snacks are in, and your chair is comfy.

What else can I say? Enjoy all three events!

31 January 2021

When Your Health Turns On You: #Hypothyroidism --- 9: Covid-19 and Vitamin D – Jan 2021 Update

Vitamin D3 capsule

When I started this series in February 2020 I never expected still to be adding to it in January 2021. There again, one year on from the first Covid-19 hospitalisations in the UK, no one here expected to be living under Lockdown-3. It could be worse, and it is in some parts of the world; at least we don’t have a curfew.

However, the UK figures, horrendous as they are, speak for themselves:  3.8m people have tested positive for Covid-19; deaths within 28 days of a positive test have topped 100,000.

There is good news: 9.97m people have had the first dose of available vaccine; 491,000 the follow-up dose. In my area those aged 70+ are being called, which means that the vast majority of the most vulnerable (80+) have been vaccinated.

The even better news is that people are beginning to take seriously the role of Vitamin D within the human immune system, except, it seems, the Government and its health advisers.

One of the leaders of the publicity push – apart from Dr John Campbell, much mentioned during this series – is David Davis, MP, who has been writing articles in every newspaper that will print them. Mr Davis is an old-school politician: not only did he work for a living before entering politics, he has a Joint Honours degree in Molecular Science/Computer Science, so he knows what he’s talking about. More important, he’s not afraid to stand up in Parliament and make the case for Vitamin D, as he did on 14th January, now available on YouTube: https://youtu.be/Gog5mgBv0hM

The video is 24 minutes in total, and an eye-opener. Who knew, despite growing evidence from around the world, funding for trials to ascertain the efficacy of Vitamin D had been refused – twice? The response, towards the end of the video, from NICE/Public Health England is, shall I say… beyond belief.

Today I watched a discussion between David Davis and Dr John Campbell which brought to light some fascinating, and quite horrific, points: 

  • As long ago as 1983 (read it and weep) the medical profession was beginning to understand the impact of Vitamin D on the body at cell level, and particularly in the immune system.
  • In 2017 there was an article in the British Medical Journal suggesting that Vitamin D could inhibit respiratory infections by up to 70%. (Note: around 17,000 people die annually in the UK due to seasonal influenza – Public Health England figures.)
  • In March 2020 Mr Davis ramped up his own study, believing there is a correlation between more people dying of Covid-19 with low Vitamin D levels (ie the elderly; darker skin tone; co-morbidities), and if correct low Vitamin D “could” account for around 50% of Covid-19 deaths.

The discussion is well worth watching. It is 1hr 20mins, but the most pertinent information is within the first 30 mins: https://youtu.be/bQyhjQUjHjU

How about me with an autoimmune disorder I strongly suspect – a suspicion boosted by the above discussion – was caused by a long-standing lack of Vitamin D? I shall reiterate the results from my last two Vitamin D blood tests which, let me remind UK readers, I have had to pay for:

mid August 2020: 124 nmol/L             early November 2020: 109 nmol/L
(Optimal is 125-150 nmol/L)

Considering I have stayed on my relatively high level Vitamin D3 supplement and its co-factor protocol throughout, what prompted such a fall in only two and a half months? Lack of sunshine. It was autumn.

I am intending to pay for a further test at the end of March, the end of winter. That should prove interesting. I’ll keep you posted.

Stay safe. 


Update 30 March 2021:
My paid for panel of blood tests are completed. All results look reasonable;
Vitamin D stands at 128 nmol/L (tick!).

Image from PublicDomainPictures via Pixabay

When Your Health Turns On You #Hypothyroidism series:

1: Symptoms
2: Vitamins & Minerals
3: Blood Tests
4: Vitamin Co-Factors & the Microbiome
5: Functional Medicine & YouTube
6: Covid-19 Coronavirus
7: Covid-19 & Vitamin D
8: Vitamin D - The Results!
9: Covid-19 & Vitamin D - Jan 2021 Update

1 January 2021

Let’s Embrace 2021 with a New Hobby - or Two

Let’s lift a glass in a dubious welcome to Covid-19 Mk2. Well, we manoeuvred Mk1 and now better know what to expect. Just as important, we know to balance our expectations while awaiting the full roll-out of various vaccines. For most of us that isn’t going to happen anytime soon so we just have to make the best of it. And, after whinging in true British style, that's exactly what we're doing.

For many this has meant re-acquainting with long-laid-aside hobbies, which shows no sign of slowing. The sales of jigsaw puzzles has soared, but that's understandable. It’s a non-competitive, absorbing, brain-exercising pastime that lowers blood pressure and heart rate, and calms the mind; something akin to active meditation. 

My husband was bought a jigsaw as a joke back in the summer, but he enjoyed it so much Father Christmas has off-loaded another four to keep him occupied until the better weather heralds the call of his garden. I was tempted to roll my eyes, except I discovered that novelist Nick Hornby, like me a non-too-fast writer, has one on the go beside his writing desk. Adding the occasional piece or two frees his thought processes and stops him dipping into social media, the biggest time-suck known to man. Or woman. I just need to find a clear surface big enough to set one out.

Another huge resurgence hobby is Philately. Yes, stamp collecting. I blinked at this one, too, especially when I realised it could be undertaken “virtually”. YouTube is awash with fascinating videos. Honest, they can be fascinating. Dip into Exploring Stamps for snazzy delivery of interesting information, not just on the stamps themselves, but on what they commemorate. The Swearing Parrot, for instance. No, honest. Her name was Millie and she was “deported” from Expo 67 in Montreal for not just swearing but swearing in two languages, only to become immortalised on a set of Guyanan stamps.

And finally, the biggest resurgence of all, the Bókaflóð, or to be precise in Icelandic where it originates, the Jólabókaflóðið – the Christmas Book Flood. For a nation of slightly over 350,000 people there are more bookshops per capita than anywhere else in the world. Everyone is gifted at least one physical book on Christmas Eve, it’s a tradition that dates back to WW2 when just about everything else was on ration. And modern technology has not dented the tradition one bit. In fact it has enhanced it. As one might surmise for such a reading nation, the country has embraced foreign language ebooks in a BIG way, especially English ebooks. Which is good news for writers.

After a bit of a wayward year my own writing is sailing into smoother waters. There'll be more blogposts and an update on my resurrected newsletter. Sections of my e-backlist will be promoted, and there's a change in direction for my fiction. Relationships will still be to the fore, but they always have been, no matter the genre.

All in all, I have decided 2021 will be a year to enjoy rather than worry over. I think that's the best attitude any of us can take. Come join me.