#seasonsgreetings! Let’s #celebrate #Christmas with the #Gift of #ChristmasStories, #Fantasy #FreeFiction, and Whatever #Storytelling You Love Because this #December, #LiteracyMatters.

Greetings, greetings, one and all! I hope you have your health this season, because right now that’s lacking in the Lee house. We did manage a trip to Watertown to visit Santa before a virus grabbed Bash, then Biff…

Bash (with hat), Santa Claus (with different hat), Biff (with hidden hat), and Blondie (with hat hair) in Santa’s house in Watertown.

…just in time for our Christmas church service, no less! At least Blondie’s ready and raring to recite Luke 2 and sing oodles of carols.

But enough whinging over fevers.

Firstly, I wanted to thank you for supporting me through what’s been a very bumpy year. My publisher discontinued my series, which meant I had to pull my free short stories Tales of the River Vine and overhaul my platform. You held me up when I felt like the game was over, and you encouraged me to write on and fight on.

So I did, and got a novella published in the process.

It seems so bloody easy to walk away. To give up the battle because the world says we’re just not good enough. I’ve seen these faces of defeat in many classrooms over the past few months: eight-year-olds who still cannot connect letters to sounds. Twelve-year-olds who’d rather throw books than read them out loud. Eighteen-year-olds who’ve never learned to use an index, let alone critically dissect a few textbook paragraphs. And the teachers? The teachers will move them onward and outward whether the students are ready or not.

We live in illiterate times, my friends. You may know proficiency rates are low where you live, but do you know how low? I learned last week that in the public schools of Wisconsin’s capital, only 36.6% tested proficient in reading.

Think about that for a second.

Only three in ten can read at grade level. And that’s just the basic stuff without all the critical thinking skills to go with it. These kids are graduating high school without the skills to read literature appropriate to any profession, let alone write a resumé. They’re simply dumped into the workforce and expected to survive.

Not for lack of trying, mind. Teachers in Madison, Wisconsin, and anywhere are in a terrible place. When I see what they’re up against, I can’t help but think of World War 1: embedded in trenches dug by faulty philosophy, living with almost no resources, struggling through the barbed wire that is parental criticism with little support from administration, their very livelihood determined by the results of tests created without their input.

But let’s save education for the new year.

Right now, we must step up. If you can’t turn the little ones’ screens off without a meltdown, then switch up games with storytelling apps. If they’re dyslexic or have difficulty focusing with their eyes, then turn their ears to audio books. According to the US Department of Education, Children who were read to at least three times a week by a family member were almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading compared to children who were read to less than 3 times a week. If they’re seeking escape in games of adventure, mayhem, fantasy, or all of the above, then give them the authors who tell such stories. Thousands of stories of every genre are within our grasp thanks to e-book publishers like Kobo, Nook, and Kindle. It is our duty as readers and writers to give these stories to those too small to reach them on their own.

And what better time to give these stories than the winter holiday break?

This week, Night’s Tooth will be free on Amazon.

As for the novel Fallen Princeborn: Stolen, the e-book copy will be $2.99 until New Year’s Day.

This Christmas, let’s tell our kids stories by the light of the Christmas tree. Let’s enchant them, spook them, tickle them. Let’s engage them with characters and places realer than real. Whether it’s a story about Christmas or a story to love all year long, it is time to give the sweet gift of story…with cookies. Never forget the cookies!

Don’t Bo’s Christmas tree cookies look scrumptious?

From our sniffly house to yours, may you have a most blessed Christmas and an adventurous new year!


It’s so exciting to see my author interviews fill up for 2020! I can’t wait to share these wonderful writers with you. I also got an early Christmas present of music I MUST share with you next month. First, however, we need to discuss a serious writer’s problem, one which has gotten lots, and lots, and LOTS of press lately.

Oh yes. Next week, we are going to a galaxy far, far away to discuss what went wrong with Disney’s sequel trilogy…and no, I’m not just going to bash Rian Johnson and/or JJ Abrams for a thousand words.

Read on, share on, and write on, my friends!

46 thoughts on “#seasonsgreetings! Let’s #celebrate #Christmas with the #Gift of #ChristmasStories, #Fantasy #FreeFiction, and Whatever #Storytelling You Love Because this #December, #LiteracyMatters.

  1. Let’s hope the Good Health Fairy takes an urgent detour to Wisconsin. It does sound like I perpetually have a go at teachers. Hopefully people will see the line that always follows starting with ‘But the Government’. You’ve described it so better than I have it is the trenches. Reading is a problem. It’s going back to Victorian times where it was a mark of elitism and wealth. Son is dyslexic yet he is regularly getting the top marks for spelling in his class. But that’s the point if you can’t read then the system can write you off – your the forgotten ones, the cannon fodder. Sorry rant over.

    Those photos brought a big smile this morning. I’m going to reread Nights Tooth tonight. Best book I’ve read this year. Happy Christmas my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really is like the trenches in those classrooms, doing your best to keep as many as you can alive. The teacher who had the boy preferring to throw books, you could see on her face that mentally, she’d already written him off and was working to focus on the rest of the class. On the one hand, I get that you need to do what you can with those who are willing to work, but on the other hand, this boy CLEARLY needed help. But how do you help someone who’s basically threatening to assault you?
      It’s damn tragic.
      I’m glad the photos brought a smile. 🙂 You and your son have a GLORIOUS Christmas Day, okay? And stay healthy! Now to go out and set a net for the Good Health Fairy….

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Happy Christmas to you and your family. Literacy is a big issue in Australia too. Kids seem to be going backwards on ability. But a friend of mine goes to her town’s public school twice a week to sit with the second graders and help them to read. She loves it and so do they. She calls them her Little Poppets and they call her Big Poppet.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh my dear, the cold is something common nowadays 😜 I hope you and your wonderful kids get recovery as soon as possible ❤ wishing you all beautiful buddies a lovely Xmas days and a successful new year 😘❤❤👍😊🤗❤

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A whole generation and more lost to illiteracy and more in the public schools here. What a terrible waste. The private schools are better, but…
    Same in the UK where we have many teacher friends in the State system, looking for a way out.

    However… for the holiday season, very best wishes to you and yours, Jean… hopefully germ-free for the big day 🙂 Keep on with that wonderful writing!

    Liked by 1 person

    • And may your writing spark with some lovely magic of the season, Chris!

      I think that’s one of the stark differences between private and public schools, at least here in the US. Sure, there’s lots of private schools that cost HUUUUGE and have lots of great stuff. When it comes Blondie’s private school, which is very small with few resources, volunteers from church (cuz the school’s tied to it) have made ALL the difference in giving kids the one-on-one when they need it. I just don’t think public schools have that kind of volunteer force.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hell’s Bells. I spotted this yesterday, I think. Thought to myself, ‘I’ll read it later’ then the fading mind of this Old Fool entirely forgot to do so. My apologies. Regardless, great stuff and you and your family have a wonderful Christmas. Best wishes, The Older than Old, Old Fool.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You and the Ghost of Christmas Past must have some wild times together, Master Steeden! Hugs and love to your talented, wonderful family. Enjoy some smelly cheese and fantastic wine with some sweet carols in the background. xxxxxx

      Liked by 1 person

  6. And… I’m ALL behind! So sorry I haven’t swung by sooner. Happy Christmas… Happy New Year… I’m now very much hoping Bash and Biff are completely well again. As for the situation with literacy – there has always been a major issue with getting our children functionally literate in the UK. And it doesn’t help that resources have been continually squeezed for years. I hope your experiences during the new term are easier!

    Liked by 1 person

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