Tag Archives: Christmas

Giveaway Winners Announced!

Here are the winners of the giveaway!

1. $30 Amazon Gift Card – Linda Trinklein

2. In the Company of the Dead Limited Edition – Brent Strassburg

3. Signed Set of The Seven Circles of Hell – Nicole Martin

4. Complete set of Ballintyne ebooks – Mary Ann Cloud

If you’re a winner, I’ll email you shortly!

Christmas Giveaway – Amazon Gift Card and Books To Be Won

Yes, I know it’s not Christmas yet. Don’t worry, I’m not hanging the tinsel just yet. This is so you can receive your prizes in time for Christmas, should you choose to give them away as Christmas presents!

Here’s the prize list:

1. The complete set of The Seven Circles of Hell books, autographed by the author

2. In the Company of the Dead, autographed by the author at Caerlaverock Castle in Scotland, which inspired the book’s setting – one of only five in existence!

3. The complete set of my ebooks – Confronting the Demon, Stalking the Demon, and In the Company of the Dead

4. $30 Amazon Gift Card

So what are you waiting for? Best of luck! Entry is open to residents anywhere in the world.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Gifting Ebooks: The Complete Christmas Guide

Stalking the Demon

Do you know someone who has switched whole-heartedly to ebooks? My parents have even gone so far as to instruct me ‘not to buy paperbacks’!

So if you’re accustomed to having piles of wrapped books under the tree, what do you do now? Giving a gift card seems so impersonal!

Never fear! You can ‘gift’ your own choice of ebook on several platforms, and here’s how.

You don’t have to own an ereader to gift ebooks – all you need is an email account (and I assume if you’re reading this you probably have one of those!).

Kindle

If you don’t have an Amazon account, set one up – make sure you use Amazon US! This is because you can’t give Kindle books as gifts from many Amazon Kindle Stores, but residents of most countries can still shop at Amazon.com if you set it as your default store.

If you already have an account linked to another Amazon marketplace, see instructions under the heading ‘Return to the Amazon.com Kindle Store’ at the bottom of this page for details of how to transfer to another store.

  • Choose your books – In the search bar on the Amazon home page, use the drop down menu to select ‘Kindle Store’ and search for books you know your loved one will like;
  • Gift details – On the right of the book page, click ‘Give as a gift’, and select ‘Email the gift to me’. Complete the recipient’s details, and your gift message. Change ‘Your Name’ to the names you want the gift to be from e.g. Mary, Bob, Matt and Lucy;
  • Place order – Select place order to have the gift voucher emailed to you;

iBooks

confronting-demon-stack

You will need iTunes, or an Apple device like an iPad or Mac to access iBooks, and an Apple account.

  • Choose your books – In iTunes or iBooks, use the search bar to find your ideal gift – make sure you are searching ‘Nook Books’;
  • Gift book – below the picture of the book cover on the left side of the page is a ‘Buy Now’ button, and on the right side of this button is an arrow indicating a drop-down menu. Click the arrow for the menu. The top option on the menu is ‘Gift Book’. Select it;
  • Gift details – A popup box allows you to insert details of the email address to receive the gift, the name of the sender, and your gift message. I suggest sending this to yourself using the ‘Now’ option so you can print it out. Keep the email to forward to the recipient later to make it easier for them to redeem – they can use a code on the voucher, but it seems like this is a really difficult way to claim the book. Select ‘Next’ to proceed;
  • Choose theme – iBooks let’s you choose one of several pre-set themes for your voucher. Select one, then click ‘Next’ to place your order;

Note: you can only gift iBooks to someone in the same country as you.

Nook

If you don’t have an account at Barnes & Noble, set one up.

  • Choose your books –Use the search bar at the top to find your ideal gift;
  • Gift book – Next to the orange ‘Buy Now’ button is a smaller ‘Buy as gift’ option. Select it;
  • Gift details – Complete the recipient’s details, and your gift message. Use your email address so you can receive and print the email for gifting, but keep the email as it seems you will actually need to forward the email to the recipient so they can actually claim the gift;
  • Confirm order – Select the orange ‘Submit’ button to confirm the order;

Wrapping your gift

Gifts_xmas

Once you receive the emailed voucher, print it and cut it to size. Amazon gift vouchers (when cut to size) fit nicely in pre-made DVD gift boxes, and I expect the others likely do to, so you still have a gift to put under the tree!

If you can’t find any of these boxes, you could use any shape gift box and fold the vouchers to fit, or put the vouchers in a beautiful Christmas card.

It’s not necessary to forward Amazon vouchers electronically as they contain a code to redeem the book, but it seems forwarding the email for Nook books and iBooks after you’ve presented your gift is likely to make life simpler for the recipient.

Got it wrong? If the recipient already owns the book, or doesn’t want it, they can easily exchange it on Amazon and B&N for a gift card to use as they choose. It’s less clear if this feature is available on iBooks and I haven’t been able to find confirmation from an Apple help topics.

Don’t forget me if you have a loved one who loves fantasy! 😉

Father Christmas vs Santa Claus vs St Nicholas: Same or Different? – The Mythology Series

Santa Claus

Today, it’s common to use the names Santa Claus, Father Christmas and St Nicholas interchangeably. I’ve done it myself without thought, as have, I’m sure, many other people of my acquaintance.

But while today they are more or less treated as the same figure, their origins are entirely separate.

A depiction of St. Nicholas

A depiction of St. Nicholas

St Nicholas

You may know that the actual St Nicholas was a bishop, who had his own celebration throughout Europe and England as far back as the Middle Ages. The bishop supposedly gave generously to three daughters of a man who planned to prostitute them to pay his expenses, but did so by throwing the purse through the father’s window at night.

This gave rise to the tradition of many parents giving to their children on the vigil of St Nicholas, and the children would believe they owed thanks to St Nicholas for the gifts. Looks a lot like Santa Claus, right? He does, although visually he was not represented at all the same, and St Nicholas’ Day was December 6 (December 19 in Eastern Christian countries) and not December 25. In 1542, St Nicholas was banned by Henry VIII as part of the English Reformation.

Santa Claus

Santa Claus

The traditional image of Santa Claus

In the American colonies, German colonists kept the feast of St Nicholas, but gift-giving was on New Year, as it was in England and Europe. It wasn’t until 1804 that Dutch in New York began promoting St Nicholas as the patron saint, and in 1809 Washington Irving published the satirical fiction, Knickerbocker’s History of New York, which contained references to a jolly St. Nicholas character. This version of St Nick was shown as an elfin Dutch burgher with a clay pipe. The next year, the New York Historical Society held its first St. Nicholas anniversary dinner on December 6, 1810, and here St Nicholas was shown in a gift-giving role with children’s treats in stockings hanging at a fireplace.

In 1821, The Children’s Friend was published. This anonymous poem featured ‘Sante Claus’ arriving from the North in a sleigh with a flying reindeer. The poem and its illustrations began the shift away from images of a saintly bishop. Sante Claus rewarded good behaviour and punished bad. This book was the first we know of to mark Christmas Eve as the date of the arrival of Sante Claus, rather than December 6. His new jolly elf image was then cemented by the poem we all know, then called A Visit from St. Nicholas, now better known as The Night Before Christmas. The name Santa Claus seems to be a natural phonetic alteration from the German Sankt Niklaus.

By the end of the 1920s, the image of Santa in a red, fur-trimmed suit had emerged from the work of popular illustrators.

Father Christmas

The Ghost of Christmas Present from Dickens' 'A Christmas Carol' - likely Father Chrstmas

The Ghost of Christmas Present from Dickens’ ‘A Christmas Carol’ – likely Father Chrstmas

Father Christmas, so far as we know, first appeared in Europe in the 15th century in a carol called Hail, Father Christmas, hail to thee! and was a personification of the idea of Christmas rather than an actual person (of course, as fellow Discworld readers know, on the Discworld, such a concept would quickly be anthropomorphised into a real person like the Hogfather!). He was linked to the idea of Christian hospitality, and his tradition came with familiar elements of children, gifts at New Year, traditional Christmas foods of minced pies, roast beef, and plum pudding, and carols. It also came with less familiar traditions, like the Lord of Misrule, who was usually a peasant appointed to preside over the drunkenness and revelry of the Feast of Fools. Father Christmas originally wore a doublet, but by the 18th century wore a fur-lined red or green robe, with holly or ivy on his head. He did not bring gifts. It is likely that Dickens’ Ghost of Christmas Present was Father Christmas.

Father Christmas originated from a mix of groups, including the Roman Saturn and his Saturnalia (a celebration typified by food, wine, revelry and equality, and a possible origin of Misrule), the Saxons, who were known for anthropomorphising seasons and weather, and the Vikings, whose Odin distributed goods to worthy folks and whose Thor had a long white beard and lived among the icebergs. These influences seem to have coalesced into Father Christmas by the 1400s, and he was a primarily secular symbol of the arrival of the season, rather than a Christian tradition. Notice that he has no links to St Nicholas, and actually appeared contemporaneously with St Nicholas in Christmas celebrations until his banning.

Following Henry VIII’s suppression of St Nicholas, the Puritans tried to eliminate Christmas (including Father Christmas) entirely in 1643. Shops were required to be open, and churches closed (because of ‘popery’), and there were attempts to stamp out misrule and its associated drunkenness, gambling and revelry, and mince pies, mummers, holly and church services were all banned. Festivities reappeared seventeen years later, but the beginning of the Industrial Revolution changed the celebration forever. While previously country life observed the entire Twelve Days of Christmas, gift-giving moved to Christmas Day from New Year’s Day when it became the only day the workers had off.

Modern UK Santa - still sometimes dressed as Father Christmas

Modern UK Santa – still sometimes dressed as Father Christmas

At the same time, the holiday in England and Europe was being domesticised much as was the case in America. Unlike America, who turned St Nicholas into Santa Claus, England had no gift-giver since Henry VIII banned the bishop saint. But they did have Father Christmas, who by the 1870s became more like Santa. Although still typically depicted in a robe with holly, he moved away from the traditional drinking, feasting, merriment and revelry to become the gift-giving children’s friend.

Sources:

Father Christmas – http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/father-christmas/

Saint Nicholas and the Origin of Santa Claus – http://www.stnicholascenter.org/pages/origin-of-santa/

How To Gift a Kindle Ebook – A Christmas Guide

How To Gift a Kindle Ebook


Do you give books for Christmas? If you’re giving them to someone who has an e-reader, consider giving ebooks instead!

Many e-reader owners no longer want paperbacks, or only want select titles in paperback, due to:


  • Storage – paperbacks take up room, and avid readers will already have stacks of books (possibly literally);
  • Convenience – paperbacks are heavy to carry around, and inconvenient when about to finish a book, as you must carry two;
  • Ease of reading – E-readers are generally easier to hold and manoeuvre, particularly for readers of large books or readers with problems like arthritis or carpal tunnel.


Don’t like giving gift cards? No fear! You can gift a personalised selection of Kindle books on Amazon and here’s how.


  • Account – If you don’t have an Amazon account, set one up. Follow the link to Amazon – note that you can’t give Kindle books as gifts from some Amazon Kindle Stores;
  • Choose your books – In the search bar, use the drop down menu to select ‘Kindle Store’ and search for books you know the recipient will like;
  • Gift details – On the right of the book page, click ‘Give as a gift’, and select ‘Email the gift to me’.  Complete the recipient’s details, and your gift message. Change ‘Your Name’ to the names you want the gift to be from e.g. Mary, Bob, Matt and Lucy;
  • Place order – Select place order to have the gift voucher emailed to you;
  • Print voucher – Once you receive the emailed voucher, print it and cut it to size;
  • Gift Wrapping – Amazon gift vouchers (when cut to size) fit nicely in pre-made DVD gift boxes, so you even still have a gift to put under the tree! If you can’t find any of these boxes, put the vouchers in a beautiful Christmas card.
DVD gift boxes – perfect for Amazon gift vouchers


Got it wrong? If the recipient already owns the book, or doesn’t want it, they can easily exchange it on Amazon. 

So next time you’re considering buying a paperback for someone with an e-reader, think twice – I know people who no longer want paperbacks, and even have paperbacks that have been loaned to them lying around unread.

Christmas doesn’t mean you can’t give digital books!

In the New Year, I’ll be posting about what e-book preferences means for brick-and-mortar stores, and how bookshops need to adapt and evolve to survive.