Text by Diane Slocum

For many families, the holidays will look different this year. All those who have lost loved ones, those who have lost their homes and those who just are not going to travel or gather will be exploring new territory.
“Healing Your Holiday Grief: 100 Practical Ideas for Blending Mourning and Celebration During the Holiday Season” by Alan D. Wolfelt includes such topics as creating new traditions and blending healing rituals into the holiday season.
“Homeless for the Holidays” by P.S. Wells and Marsha Wright tells the story of Jack Baker, who loses his lucrative career, and his family must learn what is truly important after they lose all
their material possessions.
In “Homeless for Christmas” by Hannah Miller, Nancy Springer and her family lose their farm and are forced to move in with her cousin. There, she meets a widowed neighbor, grieving the loss of his wife. As Christmas approaches, their growing friendship may help them both recover from their losses.
On the other side of the coin is “Sad Janet” by Lucie Britsch. Janet wishes that she could escape from the whole holiday season. Everyone encourages her to try the new “Christmas pill” designed for people like her who find the seemingly endless preparations and excitement tedious and depressing.

VALLEY WRITERS
One more YA novel by Janet Nichols Lynch that we have not mentioned here is “Commie Pinko.” In 1950s Berkeley, 14-year-old Donna’s life starts to come apart as her father is threatened with arrest for treason, her sister joins a beatnik group and disappears, and her mother is hospitalized with a nervous breakdown, leaving only Donna to unravel these dilemmas.
In addition to her first children’s picture book, “Pen the Tale Oogie,” Karen J. Moore has written “A Story for Cleocatra” and “Drots the Dragobotosaurus.” Illustrators for her books are, respectively, Doug Hansen, Lyn Meredith and Diego Cardena. The Cleocatra story involves twin cats who are envious of each other’s situation and trade places, only to regret it. The Drots story tells of a boy who wants to win a week at robot camp and builds a robot with a mind of its own.
Mark Arax, winner of the 2005 nonfiction William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, is one of the judges for the contest this year. Arax’s writing has been compared to Saroyan’s portraits. His latest book is “The Dreamt Land: Chasing Water and Dust Across California.” In it, he follows the California dream that seeks and finds vast riches whether they come from gold or pomegranates. He studies the Herculean systems built to redistribute water, and what they have created and destroyed. His writing digs deeply into each subject that he explores as he interviews kings of agriculture and workers in the field.

 

WRITING OPPORTUNITIES
Mediabistro lists jobs for writers, mostly related to marketing. One of the recent openings was for a freelance marketing copywriter in real estate. Although the firm is located in New York City, the applicant would work fully remotely, off-site. Another position was for a grant writer for a Seattle company, also an off-site opportunity. An on-site offer by Quanta Magazine is for an intern who would work full-time in New York City from June through August next year
as a beginning science writer delving into fields from biology to physics and developing journalistic skills.
Hyphen Magazine looks for articles by |and about Asian Americans. Topics it is looking for include creative non fiction and personal essays, culture, food and agriculture, fiction and poetry.
WRITING RESIDENCY
The Margery Davis Boyden Wilderness Writing Residency for 2021 and 2022 offers a writer or pair of writers the opportunity to concentrate on their work in a remote cabin near Oregon’s Rogue River from April through October or beyond. The award includes a $5,000 stipend. One hour per day caretaking work is required. Applicants will be judged on the quality of their writing and their suitability for this opportunity. Details: johndaniel-author.net/mdb-res.php.

WRITING CONTESTS
Deadline for the Virginia Commonwealth University First Novelist Award for first novels published in 2020 is Dec. 31. Details: firstnovelist.vcu.edu/submit-a-novel/.

THE LAST WORD
“The valuable lesson is that holidays are about love, and that’s what I have to try and channel.” — Tana Mongeau (1998).

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