Posts Tagged ‘Victorian Christmas’

It’s only 7 days until the charity book for the year is released, yes, the 12 Days of Stickleback Hollow is coming out on 30th September and all the royalties are going to charity!

12 Days of Christmas promo 1“The whole concept of the book started out as simply being 12 blogs that I could do in the run up to Christmas,” said C.S. Woolley, “I got through 8 of the 12 days and ran out of time with all the other Christmas stories I was doing for the other book series. So when it came to deciding what I was going to do as my charity book for the year, finishing this collection off seemed the logical choice.”

If you haven’t read any of the Mysteries of Stickleback Hollow yet (or even if you have), you might not know that most of the characters in the series are named after cricketers.

“I love cricket and as well as following the national side, I am also a member of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club. Trent Bridge really is my Disneyland and I spend as much time as I can there. I’ve done some fundraising over the last year for their charity, the Trent Bridge Community Sports Trust, and I thought it was only fitting that the book benefit them in some way.”

But then why the Broad Appeal?

“The Broad Appeal is a charity that was set up by Chris Broad (former cricketer), Stuart Broad (current cricketer and publican) and Gemma Broad (who used to work for the England Cricket Board). As I was fundraising for the TBCST it seemed a good idea to include the Broad Appeal as well – especially considering how much time I spend writing in Stuart’s pub.”

Stickleback HollowTitlesThe 12 Days of Christmas in Stickleback Hollow is based on the song, the 12 Days of Christmas and features 12 short stories that are each set around the 12 verses of the song in some way, shape or form. There are different characters followed in the different stories, it doesn’t keep to a strict timeline and the stories slot in at different points in the series narrative but you don’t need to have read the series to enjoy them. C.S. Woolley has also written them so that they avoid as many spoilers as possible, so you can read them without worrying that you’re going to discover any major plot points.

The 12 Days of Christmas in Stickleback Hollow is currently available for pre-order for £1.99 from Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, Kobo and Nook in digital format and will be available in paperback from 30th September.

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Below is some more information about the two charities that the book is supporting. To find out more, please follow the links.

The Trent Bridge Community Sports Trust:

Chaired by Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club Chief Executive Lisa Pursehouse, the Trent Bridge Community Trust delivers projects that have a profound and meaningful impact on communities across our county.

This impact is highlighted by statistics, but equally by the personal stories of young people who have prospered having been given the one thing they need, a sporting chance.

The Trust is the charitable arm of Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club and our fortunes are intrinsically linked. All Trust staff are directly employed by the Club, allowing commercial partners and grant aiding bodies to have confidence that every penny they provide has an impact on frontline community initiatives.

The Broad Appeal for the MND Association:

Few disorders are as devastating as motor neurone disease (MND). Imagine a healthy and alert mind trapped inside a body that can’t move, that’s the devastating reality of MND.

MND attacks the nerve cells (motor neurones) that send messages from the brain to the muscles. As these motor neurones gradually die, the muscles stop working. If affects people in different ways, so no two people will have exactly the same symptoms or experience of MND.

In the majority of cases MND is a rapidly progressive, fatal disease that can affect any adult at any time. The cause of MND is unknown and with NO cure half die within 14 months of diagnosis.

It is impossible to convey in words the overwhelming and devastating nature of a disease which in as little as a year can turn a potent, able parent, partner and employee into someone totally dependent on others for the simplest and most private actions we all take for granted.

 

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As promised, here is the second short story from Stickleback Hollow, the 8th Day of Christmas.

8th Day of Christmas

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, eight maids a milking

Christmas was always a busy time to be an innkeeper. Lots of people came to Stickleback Hollow to visit relatives in the nearby city of Chester and also in the village itself. Some people chose to stay in the inn that Wilson ran because his wife’s cooking was known far and wide as the best in the area. Some people didn’t like staying in the city as it was too busy and full of bustle.

Whatever the reasons that people came to the inn, Wilson and Emma were both every busy. Unlike the staff at the house and many others in the village, they didn’t close, not even on Christmas Day. They went to the house for Christmas dinner after going to church, but they were always the first to leave as they had to get back to the inn. They made sure that all their guests knew that the doors of the inn would be locked from when they went to church until after Christmas dinner had finished, but this never seemed to be a problem as all their guests had prior plans for Christmas Day.

But on Boxing Day things were back to normal. In fact, the inn was often busier on Boxing Day than any other day of the year as people like the blacksmith and Miss Baker were not at work, and so came to the inn to talk and swap seasonal greetings – though they had all seen each other the day before.

Wilson liked running the inn, especially around Christmas. He didn’t really need time off to put his feet up. There was nothing to do when he stopped working, and often found the days when the inn had to be closed to be rather boring. Emma preferred to be busy and even when the kitchen wasn’t open, she could be seen bustling around the inn, making sure that everything was running smoothly.

One of the problems that faced the inn during the busy time of Christmas was the risk of running out of milk. Every day during Christmas, Wilson woke up early to walk out to one of the local dairy farms to get the farmer to buy more milk. When he walked down the path to the dairy farmer’s house, he could hear the milkmaids singing in the small field that lay next to the house. The milkmaids were the daughters of farmers in the local area, but not all of them were the daughters of the dairy farmer. There were eight of them in all and all of them enjoyed singing, though not one of them could carry a tune.

Wilson waved to them as he passed and went about his business with the farmer.

“It’s a sad thing, but today is the last day you’ll see those milkmaids.” the farmer said as the two men walked outside to fetch the pails of milk for the inn.

“Why is that?” Wilson asked.

“They’re all to be married, can’t stay milkmaids forever. There are a bunch of young farmers coming later on today to meet them, then the dates for the weddings  will be set and the girls will be gone.” the farmer sighed.

“Who is going to milk you cows?” Wilson asked.

“Oh, there are more girls coming to do that, the cows won’t mind at all, but you might want to say your goodbyes. My two are going to be going down to Kent, only God knows where the others will end up.” the farmer shrugged.

“Will they be well provided for?” Wilson asked.

“They will. I know all the boys that are coming to meet the girls, some haven’t bought holdings yet, others will be going back to their father’s farms. I’ll miss them, but it’s better than them winding up as old maids.” the farmer shrugged.

A Thief in Stickleback Hollow

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can read more about the characters in Stickleback Hollow in the first book the series of The Mysteries of Stickleback Hollow. Digital copies from £1.80 and paperback copies from £6.99.
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Today we are giving you two short stories for the price of one as our New Year gift to you. Yes, we have two short stories from Stickleback Hollow just for you that fall on 7th and 8th day of Christmas. So to begin with here is the 7th day of Christmas.

7th Day of Christmas

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, seven swans a swimming

“Are you ready?” Lee asked his brother. The two of them had waited until their mother had gone out to her shop for the day before they made their plans. The two boys had been adopted by Miss Baker when they had been found on the doorstep of her seamstress shop.

“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Stanley asked as he followed Lee out of the small house that stood on the edge of the village of Stickleback Hollow.

“Of course! We need to go get our boat back.” Lee smiled at him. Both of the boys knew that Miss Baker wasn’t their real mother, but their family was closer than most that were related by blood. Stanley worked as the boy for the butcher and Lee was the boy for the baker. Both boys started working long before their mother rose to go to her shop, but the boys always came back for breakfast before she left.

Christmas was always a quiet and enjoyable affair for the family. They spent Christmas Day at Grangeback and then on Boxing Day they went for a walk around the woods. It had been on Boxing Day that Lee had begun to plan rescuing their boat from the frozen lake. Stanley hadn’t wanted to go back to the lake ever again, but his brother was far more convincing than Stanley liked.

It had taken three days for Lee to talk his brother into his scheme and a day to gather the items that they would need in order to get their boat back. Lee had borrowed some pikes from the blacksmith without the old man knowing; promising Stanley that he would return them once the boat was safely back ashore.

The two boys set out from the house and went around the edge of the village, making sure that no one saw them as they went. They ran as quickly as they could until they reached the safety of the tree line. The two boys paused in the trees to catch their breath before they walked to the edge of the lake.

The snow was still thick on the ground and the lake was frozen solid. The two boys walked gingerly across the ice until they reached their boat and climbed over the side of it. When they were both settled in the bottom of the boat Lee handed Stanley one of the iron pikes he had stolen from the blacksmith. The two boys hit the ice around the boat until the boat was freed from the ice. Stanley took up the oars and started to manoeuvre the boat back towards the shore. Lee leaned over the side of the boat and kept breaking the ice in front of the boat until they reached the bank.

It was hard and slow work, but by the time they had finished, both of the boys felt proud of what they had accomplished.

“You know that if your mother finds out about this, you’ll not be able to sit down for a week.” Alex said. The two boys froze in the boat as they looked up at the hunter who stood on the shore, leaning against one of the trees.

“You’re not going to tell her, are you?” Stanley asked as Lee jumped out of the boat and started to pull it onto the bank. Stanley followed his brother to help him get the boat out of the water.

“I won’t need to; did you even think about what you are going to tell her when she sees that the boat isn’t stuck in the lake anymore?” Alex asked with amusement.

“No.” Lee said slowly.

“You told me that you’d thought of everything!” Stanley cried.

“I wouldn’t worry about it too much.” Alex smiled at the two boys.

“Why not?” Lee frowned.

“Leave the boat here and I’ll tell her I got it out for you.” Alex said with a shrug.

“Why would you do that?” Stanley asked.

“Because you’re going to need to put those pikes back before the blacksmith notices they are missing and because you haven’t noticed what breaking the ice did for the lake.” Alex grinned.

“What are you talking about?” Lee asked.

“Just look at the water.” Alex said. Lee and Stanley both turned around and looked out at the lake. A group of seven swans had come out of the forest and was moving across the ice to the open water. The two boys watched as the swans slipped into the cold water and started swimming around.

A Thief in Stickleback Hollow

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can read more about the characters in Stickleback Hollow in the first book the series of The Mysteries of Stickleback Hollow. Digital copies from £1.80 and paperback copies from £6.99.
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Available from Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Createspace, our Etsy Store and other good retailers.

Sign up to our mailing list to get the latest news, releases and offers from Mightier Then the Sword UK.

Having had a few days of extracts from our fantasy books, we’re now heading back to our short stories with a little offering from Victorian England and Stickleback Hollow.

6th Day of Christmas

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, six geese a laying

Mrs. Bosworth was not a woman that liked to do very much, aside from work. She hated to sit down and waste time; after all there was always something better that she could be doing, especially around Christmas. Mr. and Mrs. Bosworth had no children of their own, three had been born and all died before they had reached the age of five.

For Mrs. Bosworth, it made Christmas a rather difficult time of year. Mr. Bosworth had borne the loss of two sons and a daughter with remarkable fortitude, and had buried himself in his duties at Grangeback. Mrs. Bosworth had looked on Lucy Kneelingroach as a surrogate daughter, satisfying her maternal instincts by mothering the young lady. When she had died, it had caused Mrs. Bosworth to become even more fastidious than she had been before.

Every Boxing Day, when she and Mr. Bosworth were not working, Mrs. Bosworth would sink into a quiet depression. She didn’t speak a word to Mr. Bosworth for the whole day, but sat in their room, holding an armful of old knitted geese. When Mrs. Bosworth was pregnant she spent her evenings knitting things for the baby she was expecting. She wasn’t very adept at knitting, but had skill enough to create blankets and toy geese. Each pregnancy she had done the same thing – knitted two blankets and two geese. The blankets had been put to good use when Lucy had been a baby, but Mrs. Bosworth couldn’t bring herself to give the geese to the young lady of the house. Instead she kept them for herself, a reminder of the children she had once had and the short time she had to cradle them before they were taken from her.

Mr. Bosworth never tried to take the geese from his wife, nor did he offer any word of comfort. He knew that there was nothing that he could say that would make the loss of their children any better. When their daughter had died, Mrs. Bosworth had told her husband that she couldn’t take losing another child and the two had agreed that there would be no more children. Mr. Bosworth was a man that kept his feelings to himself, he had his own pain over the loss of his children, but he didn’t want to burden his wife when he knew of the pain she was suffering. He consoled himself every year by watching his wife as she cuddled the six geese and gazed out of the window at the lake.

A Thief in Stickleback Hollow

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can read more about the characters in Stickleback Hollow in the first book the series of The Mysteries of Stickleback Hollow. Digital copies from £1.80 and paperback copies from £6.99.
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Available from Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Createspace, our Etsy Store and other good retailers.

Sign up to our mailing list to get the latest news, releases and offers from Mightier Then the Sword UK.

We’re a little late in getting today’s advent calendar to you – we have been slightly distracted by the cricket and having to watch the highlights from the Ashes at Trent Bridge in 2005 to raise our spirits. Today is our last day in the office before the festive break so we are making sure that the rest of the advent calendar is set up and ready to go out so you don’t miss out.

With today being 19th day of Advent we’re going back to Victorian England and our new favourite place of Stickleback Hollow.

5th Day of Christmas

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, five gold rings

The sun was bright in the sky as Sarah awoke on Christmas morning. She could hear the sounds of the household bustling through the white marble corridors. She rolled over and closed her eyes. She waited until she heard the door to the room open and her ayah walk in.

“Still abed on Christmas morning?” ayah asked as she pulled back the sheets and Sarah buried her head under the pillow.

“It’s too early.” Sarah’s moan was muffled by the pillow.

“When you and your mother were little girls, both of you used to jump out of bed before most of the household had woken up to see if there were any gifts for you.” ayah said shaking her head and pulling the pillows off the bed.

“I’m not a little girl anymore, ayah.” Sarah whined and tried to grab the pillow back from her nanny.

“No, now you’re a young lady and should start acting like it. At your age, your mother was married to your father. Nearly all girls your age are married and expecting families.” ayah clucked as she disappeared into Sarah’s dressing room to get out her clothes for the day.

Sarah sighed and sprawled out on her bed before she rolled out of her bed and traipsed over to her dressing room. Ayah had taken out a white muslin dress and a long white lace shawl that was pinned over her shoulder. Sarah stood with her arms out as ayah washed and dressed her.

“You’ll do.” ayah said finally and Sarah left her room to go enjoy breakfast.

Her mother and father were both sat out on the veranda enjoying their breakfast whilst looking out at the Indian countryside that lay around their home.

“Merry Christmas.” Sarah said as she walked out onto the patio.

“Merry Christmas, my love.” Colonel Montgomery Baird said without looking up from the book he was reading.

“Merry Christmas, there are some visitors waiting to see you.” Lady Watson-Wentworth said and led Sarah away from the breakfast. Sarah glanced at the breakfast table with longing as she was led back into the house to a sitting room where five young men were waiting.

Each of them were dressed in the uniforms of lieutenants and all seemed to be very nervous. Sarah looked at her mother with a raised eyebrow as she saw the five lieutenants.

“Gentlemen, please place the rings on the table on your calling card and then address my daughter as my lady. When she is finished talking to you, you will be escorted out by the butler. An answer will be returned with your calling card. If she rejects your proposal, then the ring will also be returned with your card.” Lady Cynthia Watson-Wentworth said in a clear voice.

“Mother.” Sarah said in protest as her mother turned to leave the room.

“Good luck, dear.” Lady Cynthia said as she patted her daughter’s arm and kissed her cheek.

Sarah turned back to face the five lieutenants and looked down at the five gold rings that lay on the table on the velvet pillow that had the five calling cards on.

“This is not what I wanted for Christmas.” she said under her breath as the first lieutenant approached her.

A Thief in Stickleback Hollow

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can read more about the characters in Stickleback Hollow in the first book the series of The Mysteries of Stickleback Hollow. Digital copies from £1.80 and paperback copies from £6.99.
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Available from Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Createspace, our Etsy Store and other good retailers.

Sign up to our mailing list to get the latest news, releases and offers from Mightier Then the Sword UK.

We’ve only got twelve days left until Christmas! If you haven’t finished shopping yet, time is running out! Today we are back in Victorian England for another of the 12 Days of Christmas in Stickleback Hollow.

4th Day of Christmas

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me, four colly birds

Doctor Jack Hales sat in his house sipping on a glass of sherry in front of a large fire. The doctor had done well in his life. He lived in a village that was an interesting place to live and was much more pleasant than any city he had ever visited.

He had spent the day visiting the Manchester Royal Infirmary to help the doctors with an influx of people suffering from chest infections.There had been so many this year that the doctors had been struggling to cope before Jack had arrived.

“Father, you’re back.” his son, Richard said as he walked into the library where the doctor sat.

“Yes, it didn’t take as long as I thought it would.” the doctor yawned and took another sip from his glass.

“Well, that’s very nice, but we weren’t expecting you back until tomorrow.” Richard said looking furtive.

“What are you up to?” the doctor frowned at his oldest son.

“Nothing.” Richard said, trying to sound off-hand.

“Where is your brother?” the doctor asked as he put down his sherry and leaned forward on his knees.

“Nowhere.” Richard replied too quickly.

“You always were a terrible liar.” the doctor tutted.

“Please, don’t ruin things, father. Promise me you won’t ask any questions and that you will stay here until we come and get you.” Richard begged.

“Fine, but if whatever the two of you are up to gets Constable Evans coming to visit us again, your lives won’t be worth living.” the doctor warned.

Richard disappeared from the room quickly and the doctor picked up his sherry again. He loved his sons dearly. He had raised them alone as his wife had died giving birth to his youngest son, Gordon. Richard was almost thirty in age and was training to be a doctor. He had tried a few different career paths before deciding to follow in his father’s footsteps. Gordon was in his mid-twenties and training to be a lawyer. Both boys had applied themselves to their studies and the doctor was proud of them, though he rarely expressed such emotion.

The two boys, though studious, also had a knack for getting into trouble. They often argued over the same girls, and though neither seemed inclined to marry, they were in and out of love as often as the moon changed.

In the next room, the doctor could hear shuffling and the odd expletive being uttered as his two sons worked on whatever surprise it was that they had in store. The doctor had an uneasy feeling about it all, but he was a man of his word, so he waited patiently until Gordon and Richard came to fetch him.

The two boys were grinning as they led their father into the next room where there was a coup of four blackbirds sat by the windows.

“What is this?” the doctor asked.

“Well, you said that you always waiting birds to send messages with to the hospital to save on sending messengers from the village. So we went into Chester and found these.” Gordon smiled.

“We thought they’d be less likely to be shot at that pigeons. Not many people like colly bird pie round here.” Richard grinned.

A Thief in Stickleback Hollow

If you’ve enjoyed this story, you can read more about the characters in Stickleback Hollow in the first book the series of The Mysteries of Stickleback Hollow. Digital copies from £1.80 and paperback copies from £6.99.
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Available from Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Createspace, our Etsy Store and other good retailers.

Sign up to our mailing list to get the latest news, releases and offers from Mightier Then the Sword UK.