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Thursday, December 20, 2012


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


Jo Robertson said...

Thanks for inviting me to join your Friday Author Blog, Lois! I always enjoy talking about reading, writing, and anticipation (none of that arithmatic stuff for me!) with other readers and writers.

Camille Minichino said...

I have flocks of students -- over the break, I look for new ways to teach.

I'm glad to meet such a witty, imaginative writer, Jo. You would also have made a great mathematician!

Thanks for the blog and "contest."

Loucinda McGary aka Aunty Cindy said...

Interesting post Jo!

My flock is pretty small indeed (just my immediate family) but luckily I am part of several much larger flocks. ;-)

I've taken a couple of trips to Turkey and both times saw shepherds with their flocks. I was fascinated. I don't think they have changed much in the last 2000 years, which I found quite comforting somehow.

Best of luck with your holiday themed stories and all your other writing.


Cindy Sample said...

Hi Jo and Lois. I really enjoyed this post. It also led me to think about all the flocks I've joined since my series was first published. Perhaps I need to de-flock a few and focus on writing! I love the concept of a clean slate:-)

Happy holidays to you and your family.

Jo Robertson said...

Thanks, Camille! I'm not sure about the mathematician-thing, but I sure do miss teaching teenagers. They're so full of natural chutpah and love of life!

Jo Robertson said...

Hi, Cindy! Thanks for swinging by! This is the perfect time of the year for a clean slate, but I've so enjoyed getting to know you through SVR. Such a wonderful "flock" of women writers!

Jo Robertson said...

Hi, my good friend, Cindy M.! I know what you mean about the timelessness of some of those countries. I remember looking out the train window traveling from Cairo to Luxor many years ago and watching farmers plow with wooden plows!

Thanks for stopping by and may we all have much success in 2013!

Jo Robertson said...

Hey, Lois! I was scrolling through your previous blog entries, and I swear I put on 5 pounds just reading those delicious-sounding recipes!

Kathleen Kaska said...

Since I'm an avid birder, the flock I'd like to return to is the flock of endangered whooping cranes now wintering on the Texas coast, which is where I was last week. It was warm and sunny, except when it was cool and sunny. Now I'm home in the PNW and it is cold, windy, and rainy.

Nancy Northcott said...

Jo, very thoughtful post! I'm pretty much with my flock, but I hope to be more focused and orderly so I have time to read in the New Year.

I have The Perfect Gift and The Hitman's Holiday here to read and plan to do so as soon as I finish shopping--which I really, really, really hope will be tomorrow!

Shelley said...

I never thought about the "return" before. Glad you did. Nice Post.

Jo Robertson said...

Hi, Kathleen! Thanks for stopping by. How interesting about the whooping cranes. I didn't know they were an endangered species. You must really enjoy your bird-watching. I'd think that would be fascinating.

Jo Robertson said...

Hi, Nancy, so glad you could stop by. Hope you enjoy the novellas and have much, much success with your debut release RENEGADE. It's fabulous!

Jo Robertson said...

Hi, Shelley. I've always wondered about what the shepherds did after such a miracle in their lives. It's fun to explore happenings beyond the story in the book.