This week’s word for Wednesday, (thanks again to Haggard Hawks) is the noun yuleshard, a person who still have gift buying or errands to run on Christmas Eve. You know who you are.

Any thoughts on how this is pronounced? I didn’t have much luck finding a pronunciation guide on the internet. At first I assumed it was “yule-shard,” as in a chip off Yule… but I can make an argument for “Yules-hard” too.


2018’s SmofCon, a convention for people who want to learn how to put on conventions, will be held in Santa Rosa California, beginning November 30, 2018. It will be held at the Flamingo Resort and Spa (the planners are lucky that is one of the hotels that was unaffected by the fires.) If you are more interested in SmofCon, here is a link.

Holidays and Housekeeping.

Ailson Krouse and Yo-Yo Ma collaborate on The Wexford Carol.

Happy Hanukkah, a peaceful solstice, happy holidays and a merry Christmas to all. There will be no column on 12/27/2017, but I will be back in 2018.

Check our Giveaways. As of today, we are current through December 8… or at least, I think we are. You may already be a winner. Or, if I’ve missed one, please let me know.

Books and Writing:

Botnik set up its predictive keyboard to write the next great Harry Potter novel. And it is great, in some weird alternate universe, or, as the UK guardian says, “bonkers,” kind of way. I figured it wasn’t conventional Potter when Ron started eating Hermione’s family.

BuzzyMag interviewed writer and editor Jaym Gates at DragonCon and released the interview earlier this month. (Full disclosure; I have a story in the anthology Strange California.) It’s a wide-ranging and interesting discussion about balancing writing and editing, fiction and nonfiction, and Gates’s own interesting background.

Cavan Scott shares what he’s been reading recently.

Audible has released its Best of 2017 list. Lots of great books on this list.

Here are the Locus best-sellers for December, 2017.

Publishers Weekly reports that book purchases are down for the third week compared to last year. It’s an fact-filled article that doesn’t really talk about what the reasons might be.

At Book Smugglers, Tansy Rayner Roberts writes about her female main character in an upcoming Book Smugglers novella, a woman reporter. The column is not about Lois Lane, Roberts assures us as she provides of information about Lois and about real-world women who uncover, write and read the news. It’s not about Lois Lane at all.

TV and Movies:

The Last Jedi has opened last weekend. CNET offers a spoiler-free review here. Of course the box office was good; $220 million. And (just because this is funny) Daisy Ridley ignited controversy at the film’s red carpet premiere in London by wearing a black nylon dress that either looks awesome and totally edgy… or like a garbage bin liner.( Several folks on Twitter pointed out that Ridley looks amazing in a bin liner.)


More Star Wars themed stuff; Ripley’s Believe-it-or-Not Museum in Hollywood, California paid $450,000 for Luke Skywalker’s original prop lightsaber.

After last week’s Patreon kerfluffle, Patreon has issued a handsome apology and is stepping back from its fee structure changes.

If you are looking to expand your charitable giving before the year ends, John Scalzi’s blog can help with that. Annually, Scalzi uses his blog as a guide for gifts, and the final post is always recommendations for charities. These are not from him but from the blog’s readers. There are some good ones here.


Advances in photography may let researchers read the text under the texts on ancient manuscripts.

This handbell choir plays The Carol of the Bells.


  • Marion Deeds

    Marion Deeds, with us since March, 2011, is the author of the fantasy novella ALUMINUM LEAVES. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthologies BEYOND THE STARS, THE WAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, STRANGE CALIFORNIA, and in Podcastle, The Noyo River Review, Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online. She’s retired from 35 years in county government, and spends some of her free time volunteering at a second-hand bookstore in her home town.