Wednesday 24 December 2008

Making Changes - An Advent Calendar Full of Stories

Well, we hope that those of you who have been following our blog or indeed have bought and read the book have enjoyed all of our stories. I'm sure you'll agree that they're timeless and not just for Christmas. I'm afraid that's all for this year.
But Bridge House has other plans. There'll be an audio version of this next year and a brand new collection for 2009. Alongside it will appear a similar publication for children. And for after Christmas, our longer slightly darker stories.
But you won't have to wait that long. We have new anthologies coming out in the spring, summer and autumn.
So readers, stay tuned and writers get writing.
We hope you've all had as much fun with this one as we have.
Bridge House and all of its authors wish all of their readers a very merry Christmas and all the best for 2009.

24 December, Advent 24, Gill James, Mantek's Journey

Two days later we set off at dusk. The star shone brightly even then. We planned to travel mainly by night, so that we could always see the star. I believe it was actually so bright we would have still been able to see it during the day.
All went well at first. I was pleased that I had chosen the right horses. Each day we rode three and three carried our extra supplies. Archamid, the longest-serving of the Master’s other servants, accompanied us. The horses were well-behaved and strong. We made good progress, though I was not sure exactly where we were going. The Master talked to Archamid as though he were a friend and not a servant at all. They said little to me, and I was left to my own thoughts. But they didn’t treat me like a boy and they showed me every respect when they wanted to know about the animals. I was the expert then. I was allowed to do everything for the horses on my own. Except that the master always insisted in packing his own things. Every evening, I saw him place very carefully into his saddlebag. something wrapped in several pieces of cloth
We slept by day. It was warm then and we could get snug in our tents. I was much better cared for there than I was at home: the stable master always sleeps in the stables with the horses. Here, the horses were kept outside the tents and my tent was as fine as those of Archamid’s and the Master’s.
But on the third evening the trouble began.

Tuesday 23 December 2008

23 December, Advent 23, Jean Lyon, Before Twilight

It was that time of day before twilight when you can still see the colour of things, although the brightness is dimmed, a time when you might walk in the garden to check the growth of new carrots and wonder at the beauty of the magnolia, walk past the herbs and press a few leaves together to release their smell. It was the time just before the street lights at the end of the lane responded to the low light levels, opened their eyes and lit up the road for the motorists. Drivers need the street lighting so that they can get to where they were going in a hurry, she thought, but they miss so much. They miss the fading of the day, and the pleasure in that. It was early spring, before the clocks were moved forward to give the extra light in the evening. The weather was mild and the smell of freshness was in the air. All the people who lived in the village and worked a regular day had returned home by now, even those who worked in town, and so there was little traffic on the road as Betty left the house and walked towards the village.

Monday 22 December 2008

22 December, Advent 22, Sarah Harris, A Present for St Nicholas

St Nicolas was tired. This time of year was always extremely busy but the older he got the quicker December seemed to arrive and the bigger the pile of presents seemed to become. The letters had been streaming in for weeks now and were in the process of being sorted. The 6th of December was looming. Mostly he looked forward to it. It was his big day, after all. The reason he existed as Pete, his assistant, kept pointing out. 'If only I had a day named after me,' he would grumble. 'Always doing things for other people and never getting noticed. But if it wasn't for me they'd all be getting the wrong parcels, the way you've been carrying on these last weeks.'
St Nicolas was usually able to cheer him up by promising him the pick of the presents and a slap-up meal at the end of it all, but this year was different. Pete was right. He seemed to have lost his touch, both with customers and colleagues. The trouble was he just couldn't get himself going. And there was so much work to do. Along with the dinosaurs and the dragons and the dolls that could dance, there were stacks of letters asking for Star Wars 6 or Harry Potter 7 and it all had to be compatible with Windows 3000. All these numbers and he never had been good at mathematics. It was making him feel positively dizzy. 'More post,' grinned Pete, as he dragged in another sack. St Nicolas' heart sank. He wondered what was wrong with him. He hoped he wasn't coming down with something. That would be most unfortunate.

Sunday 21 December 2008

21 December, Advent 21, Rosemary Bach-Holzer, Sally and the Sign People

My name is Sally and I live by the sea.
It’s my home. And by the way, I’m a seagull. Although, science bit coming up... are you concentrating? What do you mean, no! Tough. Here it comes. Officially there is no such thing as a seagull. It’s a commonly used name to describe all the different types of gulls who live near the sea. Lesson over.
Where am I supposed to live? London? And catch the tube every morning while carrying my little briefcase under one wing. Or, perhaps I should move to the North Pole? Be a bit cold with only my feathers to keep me warm.
Do I sound a little angry? That’s probably because I am.
It all began the other day. I was on the seafront waiting for Mrs. Harris and her sardine sandwiches. My favourite! They were meant for me. Mrs. Harris had made that very plain.
“Come here my feathered friends,” she called out. “Let’s be having you.”

Saturday 20 December 2008

20 December, Advent 20, Wendy Busby, No Smoking Please

‘You still serious about giving up then?’
Steve looks across at his colleague who is silently releasing wisps of grey smoke through his nostrils.
‘I don’t really think I have a choice Barry, the wife’s been ranting on for ages about my smoking contaminating the children’s lungs’
‘You smoke around your kids?’ asks Barry astonished
‘My missus wouldn’t let me get away with that, I’m not even allowed to smoke in the garden!’
Steve smiles at Barry who has just lit up his second cigarette in 15 minutes.
‘It was different before we started a family, Stephanie never seemed my cigarette butts or the smell, but now she’s like a lioness protecting her cubs’.

Friday 19 December 2008

19 December, Advent 19, Linda Lewis, First Impressions

The roads narrowed. Trees were replaced by tall dark hedges.Tricia’s unease grew. Even the landscape was strange. She had no idea how different it would be. She’d been to Devon many times as a child, but they’d always stayed near the sea, never venturing more than a few miles inland. She glanced across at James. He looked as relaxed and happy as she was tense.
“We’re here,” he said at last as with practised ease he swung the car into a wide drive. “Come on, we can fetch the luggage later.”
She stepped cautiously out of the car and gazed up at the house. Several wide steps led up to an imposing front door. It looked enormous, easily twice the size of her parents’ terraced house in West London. She took a deep breath. Even the air smelled different.