When her Advanced Placement English students challenged her to quit talking about writing and "just do it," Jo Robertson wrote her first completed manuscript, The Watcher, which won the 2006 Golden Heart Award for romantic suspense. She's authored six indie published romantic and historical thrillers and three novellas. Read more about Jo at her website.
Jo is offering one e-copy each of her two Christmas novellas, The Perfect Gift and The Hitman’s Holiday to two readers who post comments to the blog. Be sure to include your email address or check back on Sunday to see if you’ve won. -- AP
The Shepherds Returned to Their Flocks
Happy holidays, everyone, and a big thanks to Lois for inviting me to visit today!
Although I'm not particularly religious, I've always been fascinated by the Christmas holidays, the varied ways we celebrate them, and the traditions that grow up around these stories.
Luke records the version of the birth of the Baby and recounts the tale of the shepherds.
You know the story – the long trek to Bethlehem to be taxed, the no-room-in-the-inn scenario, the cave and the manger, the angels and the shepherds. But because angels with wings and holy seraphim seem more metaphorical than literal to me, I always found what those shepherds did after visiting the manger more interesting than their actually getting there.
Ah, those brave shepherds!
Since the concept of a shepherd and his or her flock has universal application, I was intrigued by what they did next.
They returned to their flocks, Luke says. And although they told the glorious news and sang praises for God’s gift, they did return to their flocks.
They didn’t rush out to build a holy tabernacle. They didn’t write up the story and publish it in the Bethlehem Daily Journal. Nor did they try to sell their sheep and get a higher fee for them because they’d seen the actual babe in the manger.
You see how crass and commercial my mind runs?
No, instead the shepherds returned to their flocks.
They went about the daily business of sheepherding, or shepherding if you prefer. Sheep, you see, are rather stupid animals. My father-in-law was a sheepherder and used to regale us with tales of the sheep and their rather dumb antics. In real life apparently, sheep really need someone to shepherd them about.
I like to think of myself as a shepherd, and if we’re all shepherds like those ancient commoners, what represents our “flocks”?
Teachers teach. Parents parent. Presidents preside. Grandparents – ah yes, they simply spoil. Readers read. Writers write. And so it goes.
Although I’ve actually been to the Grotto and the hillside in Israel, I’m not particularly concerned whether the shepherds visited a real hillside cave and found a new-born child two thousand years ago, or whether it’s a beautiful metaphor for a religious belief.
But I do care about the message.
The shepherds returned to their flocks.
Thinking about those shepherds gives me new resolve to return to my “flock,” whether it’s my family, my career, my church, my hobbies. Or right now – to rededicate myself to my writing.
We’re about to herald a new year. The thought of an entire year stretching out before me unblemished by my blunders and mistakes is really intriguing. I want to rush out and write something on that pristine year ahead! I want to slough off the old and begin anew!
Like the shepherds, I want to return to my flock.
What about you, readers? What would you like to renew your energies toward? What would you like to rededicate yourself to? If you are the shepherd in your life, what’s the “flock” you’re returning to?
The Perfect Gift
When her husband dies unexpectedly Jane Stark is left with four young boys and a mother-in-law who hates her. When she finds herself pregnant with the longed-for baby girl her husband wanted and ex-detective Rick moves in next door, Jane doesn't know whether to be happy or overwhelmed with the changes life has handed her.
The Hitman’s Holiday
Logan is a professional hit man. He finds the Christmas Season the dreariest and most boring of the year, but this particular year he gets caught up in a holiday jingle that lodges in his mind. When he gets an unusual December contract, he follows a sassy twelve-year-old and her odd companions through the Bronx ... and serious trouble.
This assignment brings Logan face to face with the concept of how far he can go on this dark path before there's no turning back. Is it already too late for redemption?
Readers, if you’d like a chance to win copies of Jo’s Christmas novellas, post a comment. Leave your email address or remember to check back on Sunday to see if you’ve won. -- AP