When I hear these songs, I know it’s Christmas

“A Charlie Brown Christmas” (1965)

There are certain songs you always associate with Christmas, from Bing Crosby’s White Christmas to Nat King Cole’s The Christmas Song. There are so many songs significant to the Christmas holiday that brings a bit of nostalgia and are memories we all share in one form or another. There are some songs that truly epitomize the spirit of Christmas, and when you hear them, you know the holidays are upon us.

I have a few favorites that are at the top of my Christmas playlist and the songs I always crank up in the car and sing along whenever I hear them. Please believe me when I say I love all Christmas music, but these are my absolute favorites that I have to hear regularly from Thanksgiving through Christmas Day.

David Bowie and Bing Crosby, Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas (1977)

Little Drummer Boy/Peace on Earth by Bing Crosby and David Bowie – If you haven’t found this absolute gem on YouTube, you need to find it and watch/listen to it NOW. Just seeing and hearing these two distinct generations of singers come together to sing such a classic and beautiful Christmas song in such a unique way was so memorable. The deep tones of Bing Crosby with David Bowie’s powerful voice were so perfectly matched. This song takes a simple Christmas carol and makes it an instant classic.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Bruce Springsteen – There are so many versions of Santa Claus is Coming to Town, but none is better than the gruff vocal tones of “The Boss” in this Christmas hit. As soon as you hear the jingling of bells and Bruce talking to the band about if they’ve been good or not, you are instantly put into the Christmas spirit. Then it goes to the next level with Clarence Clemon’s saxophone solo near the end of the song. You can’t help but find yourself singing and dancing with Santa Claus and the E Street Band.

Christmas Time is Here by The Vince Guaraldi Trio – There is one holiday special we all watch every year, and that’s A Charlie Brown Christmas. The Vince Guaraldi Trio made jazz hip in the decade of Elvis Presley and The Beatles. You know every note of every song but when you hear the tinkling of the ivories, the quiet rasp of the drum, then the children’s choir singing, you run to the TV and sit down because A Charlie Brown Christmas is on. The innocence of this song makes you think of ice skating, decorations and aluminum Christmas trees.

I Believe in Father Christmas by Greg Lake – This is such a unique Christmas song that crosses both religion and the legend of Father Christmas in one song. Greg Lake, the voice of 70’s rock “superband” Emerson Lake and Palmer, strums an acoustic guitar and sings a memorable song about Christmas, and yet, its not. It was intended to be a song about the commercialism of Christmas and the loss of innocence of childhood. And yet, when you hear this song, it means none of those things to me. I just love the symphonic sound and the melodious vocals in this song that means Christmas to me.

Do They Know It’s Christmas? by Band-Aid – This was one of the first modern Christmas songs to stand on its own. This song, to me, has a bit of the spirit of A Christmas Carol in it. We listen to the lyrics of this song and we think about how, at Christmas, we need to be a little more kinder, a little more generous to help those in need. Band-Aid was a super group of every star of the British Invasion of the 80’s. From Sting, Bono, and Duran Duran to George Michael, Boy George and more, this song catapulted Live Aid, USA for Africa and other songs for charity. But when you hear it at Christmas, it reminds you to be a little more thoughtful of your fellow man and woman.

The Year Without A Santa Claus (1974)

I want to end this post by giving one “Honorable Mention” shoutout to I Believe in Santa Claus from the holiday classic The Year Without a Santa Claus (as sung by the great Mickey Rooney). This TV special is better known for Heat Miser and Snow Miser, but I love it because of this song. This is a favorite Christmas song of mine that you don’t hear on the radio but I love it none the less. It talks about the simple belief in Santa Claus and why we should continue to believe in him (and I do!)

I believe in Santa Claus,
Like I believe in love.
I believe in Santa Claus,
And everything he does.
There’s no question in my mind,
That he does exist.
Just like love, I know he’s there,
Waiting to be missed

If I missed any of your favorite or eclectic Christmas songs, let me know in the comments. But no Grandma Got Runover by a Reindeer please. Not happening!

# # #

Mark Piggott is an independent author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series and other fantasy/steampunk novels and short stories. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon and as an audiobook from Audible and iTunes. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers. His latest fantasy novel, The Last Magus: A Clockwork Heart is available through Lulu and other booksellers.

Get ready for the steampunk historical fiction, Corsair and the Sky Pirates, coming soon from Revolutionary Press; and The River of Souls novella, coming soon from Curious Corvid PublishingThe Prometheus Engine: Book 4 of the Forever Avalon Series and The Last Magus: Dragonfire and Steel are future installments of my current fantasy book series, coming soon.

They don’t make Christmas specials like they use to anymore

I really miss the innocent, timeless classics associated with Christmas. We use to watch these specials every year on TV, when I was a kid and even with my own children. We would all sit in front of the television as a family, almost like a tradition. These are the shows, and the stories, that made Christmas such a magical time.

Rankin/Bass was, and always will be, the best ones made. They had clever characters, great songs, and memorable stories that drew you in. From legends like Santa, Frosty, and Rudolph to religious stories like the Little Drummer Boy and Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey, these specials brightened the eyes of kids everywhere.

You can’t help but dance when you hear the Heat Miser/Snow Miser songs from “Year Without a Santa Claus” or find yourself in the Christmas Spirit when you hear Burl Ives sing “Holly Jolly Christmas” from “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.” My favorite song, and to me the ultimate Christ song, is “I Believe in Santa Claus” from “Year Without a Santa Claus”… If you haven’t seen the special or heard the song, Google it and you’ll understand why. Everyone knows the songs and when you hear the tune, or even the voices, you begin to quote lines from them religiously.

“I want to be… A dentist!” — Hermey, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

“Driving a Vixen on the wrong side of the street, and wearing funny clothes on Sunday!” — Policeman, Year Without a Santa Claus

“A yoyo? I love yo-yo’s!” — Burgermeister Meisterburger, Santa Claus is Coming to Town

“Ears, Nestor!” — Nestor’s Mother, Nestor the Long-Eared Donkey

There are so many more that stick in your mind and you can recollect every Christmas, even before the specials begin to air. That’s what makes them timeless classics, even though the old stop motion animation is nothing compared to today’s CGI. My kids use to laugh at these specials, never understanding why I loved them so much. I have to admit, they are a little cheesy and somewhat corny, but I love them. And, as my kids grew older, they began to appreciate the uniqueness of them too.

The 5 Craziest Rankin/Bass Holiday TV Specials | The Saturday Evening Post

The other memorable thing about these specials were the stories they told. Before I ever watched “The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus” I never realized the L. Frank Baum (of “The Wizard of Oz” fame) wrote a book about a more mythological origin of Santa Claus. A council of immortals debates whether or not to grant Santa immortality as they examine his life story, which is quite unique. Santa was raised by a lioness, befriends magical creatures, and staves off what are essentially goblins and demons responsible for making good children do bad things. Crazy, right? It is a wonderful story and to watch it and the many unique characters within it. That’s what made it so memorable, even though its barely shown anymore.

Jack Frost Movie 1979 | Jack Frost on AllMovie | Christmas characters, Jack  frost, Christmas cartoons

“Jack Frost” is another special that’s both fascinating and not really about Christmas. It’s more of a winter special with Christmas thrown in for good measure, and this version of Jack Frost is nothing like the ones seen in other holiday specials and movies (i.e. “Santa Clause 3” or “Rise of the Guardians”). Jack falls in love with a human girl, Elisa, and petitions Father Winter for humanity. Father Winter suggests a rather long list of things for Jack to prove that he can cut it as a human: A horse, a house, a bag of gold, and his wife by spring. This is all complicated by an evil king with a clockwork army and the fact that Elisa already loves someone else. This has a slightly more complicated plot and action that other specials, and it’s definitely bittersweet in the love story department.

So, whether it’s on television, dvd, blueray, or steaming somewhere, these specials will touch your heart and maybe, just maybe, bring a little joy into your holidays in the midst of a pandemic. Trust me when I say, they are worth the trouble of tracking them down and watching. So, please, have a Merry Christmas and a blessed holiday season, for you and your families!

# # #

Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon fantasy book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides: Book 2 of the Forever Avalon Series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from iUniverse Publishing and at Amazon, and other booksellers. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishing, and at Amazon and other booksellers.

I miss my Doctor Who Christmas specials

I know its Christmas when we put up our Christmas tree and I hang my Tardis ornament on its branches. This year, I got a K-9 ornament to hang right next to it. For geeks like me, it’s not Christmas without Doctor Who. But lately, that’s been missing.

When Jodie Whittaker took over as the 13th Doctor, some changes came (as usual) along with new showrunner Chris Chibnal. One of then was the end of the annual Doctor Who Christmas specials, replaced with a New Year’s Day special instead. Now, I enjoyed last years special (you can never go wrong with Daleks) and the new season debuts this year on January 1, 2020. But something is still missing.

It’s just not Christmas without aliens attacking Great Britain, a “space Titanic” threatening to crash into Buckingham Palace, or a trip to Frank Sinatra’s Christmas party with Marilyn Monroe. All done with the subtle humor and great storytelling Doctor Who is known for.

My favorite episodes are the Matt Smith specials, specifically “A Christmas Carol” and “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe.” Matt Smith had the best comedic timing and was great at making you laugh and making you cry.

The Doctor: “Ah. Yes. Blimey. Sorry Christmas Eve on a rooftop. Saw a chimney, my whole brain just went ‘What the hell!’ Don’t worry, the fat fellah will be doing the rounds later. I’m just scoping out the general chimney-ness. Yes! Nice size. Good traction. Big tick.

Father: “Fat fellah?

The Doctor: “Father Christmas. Santa Claus. Or, as I’ve always known him, Jeff.

It was amazing and heartwarming in “A Christmas Carol” when you hear the beautiful singing voice of opera singer Katharine Jenkins singing the song to calm the shark (long story, watch the special) and at the end when she opens the clouds. It was equally incredible when you see the Doctor spend Christmas with the Ponds after two years apart at the end of “The Doctor, the Widow, and the Wardrobe.”

That’s what sets these Christmas episodes apart from the regular season episodes of Doctor Who. They not only bring the humor and action we fans expect from Doctor Who, but they also accentuate the spirit of Christmas. It’s the total package.

So, we dont know what awaits us in the new season, but I hope the folks at the BBC will listen to the fans and bring back the Christmas specials. It would be a shame to end traditions here.

# # #


Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Is it too early for Christmas decorations? You would think so…

This is what I came home to last night. Not pumpkins, skeletons, or witches flying through the night, like you would expect on Halloween. No, not me. I come home to find my Christmas tree set up already. According to my wife, she needs time to let the branches fall into place so it’ll be “just right” for the holiday. This revelation coincides with the fact that most stores spent this past week taking down the autumn colors of fall for Christmas red and green (and Hanukkah blue and silver).

It always seems like the holidays get here earlier and earlier every year. Television shopping channels like QVC have been air since July (halfway point, i.e. “Christmas in July”) selling Christmas gifts, foods, and decorations. Of course, Hallmark Channel started its non-stop bombardment of holiday movies since the beginning of October. It’s utter madness.

Look, I love Christmas. It is my favorite time of the year. I love the lights, the movies and music, the annual TV Christmas specials (Rudolph and Charlie Brown especially)., and giving back to family, friends, and your community. It’s best represented by Scrooge’s nephew Fred’s speech in the Charles Dickens classic “A Christmas Carol”…

“There are many things from which I might have derived good by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew, “Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas-time, when it has come round-apart from… the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that-as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”

That’s what I love about Christmas, I just wish it wasn’t thrust “in your face” so quickly. I live with a woman who embodies the Christmas spirit all year long. I mean, the full nine yards (music, movies, 24/7, 365 days a year, with a Christmas Countdown as her smartphone wallpaper) which is something I love about her… But it’s not for me. I long for the old days when we eased into the holidays, one after the other.

Related imageToday, it is about the almighty dollar and retailers try to get as much “bang for their buck” in the short amount of time during the holidays. When I watch movies like “A Christmas Story” and “The Homecoming”, you see the simple life of what Christmas was about. From Thanksgiving to Christmas Day, you slowed down and took the time to enjoy the holiday. Now, we’re rushing around so much, before you know it, Christmas is over.

Let’s all take a breath, step back, feel “Jack Frost nipping at your nose” and listen for the sound of jingle bells. Let’s enjoy the holiday season with family and friends, good food and  plenty of libations (remember, be safe with a designated driver) and all the love and happiness it brings. So Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Kwanzaa. Let the continuous bombardment of Christmas commercials, movies, music and TV specials commence.



Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at Amazon. The Dark Tides is available for purchase as a paperback/ebook at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniversepublishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Doctor Who provides geeks with their own Christmas tradition

doctorwho2811aThere are many traditions from various cultures around the world when it comes to Christmas; but in Great Britain, and in the homes of geeks around the world, nothing is more sacred than the Doctor Who Christmas special. After a long day of presents, family, and food, it’s nice to curl up under a Tardis blanket, wrapped in a eight-foot long scarf, with a nice bowl of fish fingers and custard to watch Doctor Who celebrate the joy of Christmas and, sometimes, regenerates into the new Doctor.

This year is no exception as the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi, meets up with the first Doctor (brilliantly played by David Bradley, recreating the role originated by William Hartnell) and will conclude with his regeneration to the 13th Doctor, Jodie Williams.

During the first run of the program (1963 to 1989), while not an official Christmas special, one episode aired on Christmas Day: “The Feast of Steven”, the seventh episode of the twelve-part serial The Daleks’ Master Plan, which aired on 25 December 1965. The episode was a comic interlude in the style of a pantomime, in the middle of an otherwise epic adventure. In its final scene, the Doctor and his companions celebrated Christmas with a toast; the episode ended with the Doctor (William Hartnell) turning to camera (breaking the fourth wall) and saying, “Incidentally, a happy Christmas to all of you at home.”

The actual Christmas specials we know and love today started with the 10th Doctor, David Tenant, after his regeneration from Christopher Eccleston’s 9th Doctor, at the end of the first season of the relaunch of Doctor Who under Russell T. Davies. “The Christmas Invasion” was about an invasion by the Sycorax while the Doctor recovers from the effects of his regeneration. It ends with David Tenant donning his famous suit and trenchcoat. So, from that point on, here is my TOP 5 Doctor Who Christmas specials.

gallery_uktv-doctor-who-bernard-cribbins-5.  The End of Time, David Tenant (2009) — The End of Time was the final episode with David Tenant as the Doctor. It involved the return of the Master (John Simm), an alien device called the Immortality Gate, and the return of Rassilon (Timothy Dalton) and the entire planet of Gallifrey to bring about the end of time. The best part of the episode is the end, when the Doctor takes a grand tour and visits all the companions he met over the years, including a stop off with Rose Tyler on New Year’s Day of the year before she met him. It’s a sad ending with the Ood singing an operatic farewell as he limps back to the Tardis. The one thing everyone remembers is his last words, “I don’t want to go!”

the-10-best-doctor-who-christmas-specials-that-every-true-whovian-must-watch4.  The Doctor, The Widow, and the Wardrobe, Matt Smith (2011) — I will start off by saying that Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor has three spots in my Top 5 Doctor Who Christmas specials. His specials were the most memorable to me. Besides the 4th Doctor (Tom Baker), Matt Smith is one of my favorite Doctors. After a World War II widow saves his life, he repays her and her children by trying to bring a little fun in their Christmas; but, as usually happens with the Doctor, things run amok, including a trip to another world that’s about to be destroyed. In the end, the Doctor saves her and her family, including her deceased husband. As with most Christmas specials, the ending was the best when he reunites with Amy and Rory for Christmas dinner. The fact that they always set a place for the Doctor brings a tear to his eye, and makes it a memorable special.

 landscape-1448898478-doctor-who-the-husbands-of-river-song3.  The Husbands of River Song, Peter Capaldi (2015) — River Song has been one of my favorite companions of the Doctor since her first appearance in “The Silence of the Library” with David Tenant. We learned about River’s long history with the Doctor through Matt Smith’s run as the Doctor. It all came to a close with Peter Capaldi when they finally reached the “Singing Towers” on the planet of Darillium, where he gave River her own sonic screwdriver. It also has the best “Hello Sweetie” in all the episodes of Doctor Who with River Song. This episode had everything you want to see in a Doctor Who Christmas special–giant robots, split-head aliens, a spaceship falling from space, and a jewel heist. What more could you ask for?

time-of-the-doctor__1311261242432.  The Time of the Doctor, Matt Smith (2013) — This episode was Matt Smith’s final one as the Doctor, leading to his regeneration into Peter Capaldi’s 12th Doctor. It also spanned centuries as the Doctor defended the town of Christmas on the planet of Trenzalore. This was supposed to the Doctor’s last battle, where he dies at the end of his regeneration cycle. Every race across the universe is trying to prevent the Doctor from answering “the oldest question in the universe” that would return the Timelords and Gallifrey from it’s exile in another universe. They feared the resurgence of the Time War and so, the Silence was born to stop the Doctor. Like The End of Time did with David Tenant, The Time of the Doctor brought everything from the beginning of Matt Smith’s tenure to a close–the crack in the wall, the question, Silence will Fall. In the end, Matt Smith gives, what I think, is one of the best speeches by the Doctor at the end of his time. Add to that, the reappearance of Amy Pond and her final words, “Raggedy Man, Goodnight,” touched my heart as he took off his bow tie and regenerated.

christmascarol1.  A Christmas Carol, Matt Smith (2010) — There are so many reasons I absolutely love this episode, it’s hard to pick just one. I’d have to start with the music. Singer Katherine Jenkins is the voice of an angel, bringing a beauty and soul to this special that has never been matched. Her song brings the joy and spirit of Christmas to life. Second, the comedy is just so damn funny. In my opinion, Matt Smith has the comedic timing of Charlie Chaplain and it shows in this episode. From his photo of him with Santa Claus (“or as I like to call him, Jeff”),  to the shark in the wardrobe, and his “marriage” to Marilyn Monroe was absolutely priceless. Lastly, the story was a wonderful rendition of the traditional Charles Dickens classic. Michael Gambon gives a perfect rendition of Scrooge, or Kazran Sardick in this episode. I especially loved their twist on the Ghost of Christmas Future, showing a young Kazran his grouchy, future self to change his heart. I will watch this Christmas special before all others. It is, at heart, what Doctor Who is all about.

So, here it is. I have a feeling that that the “Twice Upon a Time” might make it’s way up there after this year’s episode airs. Until then, Merry Christmas to all!

# # #

51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and iUniverse publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon.

Stop the PC madness and start saying Merry Christmas again!

A Charlie Brown Christmas

A Charlie Brown Christmas

First and foremost, this post is not for those of you who are so politically correct in your life you won’t read “To Kill a Mockingbird” because of its colorful language, wave the American flag because it might offend somebody or say the Pledge of Allegiance because of the words “Under God.” I am not PC and never will be. We have lost our identity as Americans due to political correctness and I for one am sick of it.

But the most PC thing I hate is people not being allowed to say Merry Christmas. In every corporate press release over the past few years, everyone from Starbucks to Target said they will no longer say “Merry Christmas” to its patrons so as not to offend anyone. Why? What’s offensive about Merry Christmas?

It’s a cordial greeting between people to celebrate the festive time of year. It’s not a declaration of war, slang or a swear word. If I went into a Jewish Deli, ordered a pastrami on rye and the cashier said “Happy Hannukah” to me, I wouldn’t be offended or upset. The same with “Happy Kwanza” or “Merry Winster Solstice” either. These are terms of affection by people who want to be a little bit kinder and spread some good feelings of the holiday with it.

Every Christmas, you’ll find one more school that doesn’t allow Santa Claus to be seen anywhere in the classroom or allow candy canes to be passed out because of their religious basis. Have we become a society where we let every little thing offend us? It’s beyond ridiculous how people go out of their way not to be offensive with things that would never be considered offensive in normal society.

I don’t mean to get political here, but I hear from many of my liberal friends and family how we should emulate Europe more in education, social practices, etc. Really? In Europe, they have CHRISTMAS markets and CHRISTMAS displays with the Nativity and Santa EVERYWHERE without any worry of being sued. In Europe, schools sing CHRISTMAS carols and put on CHRISTMAS pageants, with the Three Wise Men and Baby Jesus.

As a writer, I love the old TV specials and cartoons about Christmas because they are so open and frank about the love, the joy and the spirit of the holiday with no apologies necessary. It’s why I love to write. I want to be as frank and open with my imagination within my novels. That’s why “A Charlie Brown Christmas” will never get old to me. Linus speech about the true meaning of Christmas is so touching and so powerful that it resonates with me even today.

So if someone says “Happy Holidays” to you as you pick up your Peppermint Mocha Latte, wish them a Merry Christmas. It’ll brighten your day and maybe theirs too. Merry Christmas!


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.

There nothing more magical than a Christmas Wedding – An excerpt from The Dark Tides

winter-wedding-winter-wonderland-ceremony-decor-preston-baileyThere’s nothing more magical than a Christmas wedding. It’s that time of year that makes something as special as a wedding even more spectacular, and nothing ruins a wedding more than an evil sorceress hellbent on total domination. That is the setting for The Dark Tides: Book Two of the Forever Avalon series.

You can really find inspiration in the strangest of places. Christmas is very special to my family, especially my wife. She listens to Christmas music year-round, watches Christmas movies all the time and shops for anything and everything to make the house sparkle even more at the holidays. Being overwhelmed like this, it seemed natural to me, as a writer, to use Christmas as a foil in my novel.

You have that perfect setting of this pristine wedding, like a blanket of new fallen snow, and you throw in a deadly plot to destroy Avalon and resurrect the most vile sorceress in history to boot. So, you are all invited to the Wedding of Ashely MoonDrake, daughter of the Gil-Gamesh of Avalon, to Andrew St. Johns on the floating island of Emmyr on Christmas Eve.


On Christmas Eve, all of Avalon gathered on Emmyr for the wedding of Ashley and Andrew. Port Charles closed for the first time so as to allow the ships carrying the many dignitaries to dock for this special occasion. But even with a “who’s who” of royalty attending, the most important people invited were the people of Emmyr. Everyone in the city was invited by the Gil-Gamesh. So they all put on their best clothes for what many described as the wedding of the millennium. It’s not often that ordinary people mingle with the Lords of Avalon, but that’s how the Gil-Gamesh saw himself. He was a person of the people, especially to the people of Emmyr.

This was also a first, for many on Avalon, to see the wedding of two Outlanders hold such fervor with the people; but then again, these were no ordinary Outlanders. In any case, everyone made their way to the city square just outside the Dragon’s Veil. Rows of chairs encircled the statue of Lady Stephanie and her children, divided by small aisles with a main aisle coming directly from the gates of the Dragon’s Veil. A raised dais stood at the rear of the statue, where the ceremony would be performed, draped in white and blue silks. Cardinal Dominici Allistar Magelleon stood on the dais, waiting to officiate the ceremony.

The aisles are lined with iron torchiere, but instead of burning wood, they each held a magical flame, suspended to provide warmth and light. White Poinsettias lined the aisles and around the dais as a symbol of the winter season. Around the square, the large mirrors focused the light from all around on the square.

As the guests filtered into their seats, special attention was given to the arrival of certain dignitaries to the wedding. A herald announced each arrival as they arrived at the wedding.
“Master Dinius Oddbottom, Lord of the Gilded Halls,” the herald announced as Dinius and a small company of Dwarves took their seats. They were dressed in their finest armor, but it’s hard to tell as their long beards hide them from view.

“Lord Baldrid and the Lady Lyllodoria of Alfheimer,” came next, as the King of the Elves and his wife were escorted to their seats by a company of Elves. Though most people have seen Elves before, it was rare to see the Lord of Alfheimer away from his home. As they walked in, most people are overwhelmed by the glow of their presence.

Many others were introduced, including friends of the Gil-Gamesh like the Wizard Browbridge, as well as all of the Lords of Avalon and members of the Wizard’s Council. One of the more spectacular arrivals was that of Kragmar and Nihala, who landed on a stone outcropping just above the square. Though their presence was intimidating, they are looked upon with respect and awe.

The last to arrive was the Queen. “Her Royal Highness, Queen Cadhla Edaline Raewyn Pendragon, Queen of Avalon … Long Live the Queen!” the herald announced. All stand and bow or curtsey as she made way to her seat. She was accompanied by Hunter, who led her personal escort for the wedding, and her son Bowen. Though only five-years-old, Bowen was quite reposed for a toddler. His red hair and freckled face showed off his innocence, something he is well known for in New Camelot, as a well-behaved boy and dutiful prince.

Once the Queen is seated, everyone else filled in the remainder of the seats or stood at the rear as the wedding was about to begin. A chorus sang “Ave Maria” as the wedding party marched in. They are dressed in the finest Elven silks, draped in the colors of the House of MoonDrake.
Stephanie was escorted by Andrew along with her grandson Thomas. She held Thomas’ hand and Andrew’s arm as they walked down the aisles to their seats before Andrew stepped up to the dais. Next, Nevan and Sarafina walked down the aisle, taking their seats next to Stephanie.

Chancellor Ocwyn followed, escorting Mrs. Thurgoode. Bryan and Stephanie wanted to make sure their longtime friends were a part of this special occasion. Rose was escorted by Captain O’Brian, the best man. Rose could barely contain her delight in being able to walk down the aisle with Edan, something she hoped to do again in the future.

Lastly, as the wedding march began and the audience rose to their feet, Bryan escorted Ashley down the aisle. Her dress was a work of art as white silk was layered with a frosted lace that glittered like falling snow. It was trimmed with a white mink collar and cuffs to complete the package. Her veil was also made from the same glittering lace, held on her head by a diamond and sapphire tiara, an early wedding gift from the Dwarves of the Gilded Halls. Around her neck, she wore the blue stone pendant given to her by Merlin. She carried a bouquet of white poinsettias and blue roses.

Bryan walked down the aisle, head held high, beaming with pride. This was something he had looked forward to since the day she was born. Ashley smiled, though it was hard for her to hide her nervous jitters.

“I can’t believe all these people came to my wedding,” she whispered to her father. “If I wasn’t so nervous, I’d probably faint right here.”

“Don’t worry sweetheart, I’m here to catch you,” he joked. “Besides, everyone out there is looking at you and they are totally jealous of how beautiful you look.”

Ashley smiled as a tear rolled down her cheek. “Oh no, I can’t start crying yet.” As they reached the dais, Bryan lifted her veil and dabbed her cheek with his gloved hand.

“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today in the sight of family, friends, and our Lord God to bring together this man and this woman in holy matrimony,” proclaimed Cardinal Magelleon. “Who gives this woman?”

“Her mother and I …” said the Gil-Gamesh as he placed Ashley’s hand in Andrew’s before taking his seat. Once seated, Stephanie noticed a tear on her husband’s cheek. She wiped the tear with her hand. She knew that beneath that gruff warrior-like exterior he was really a softy, especially when it came to his children. He smiled then took her hand in his as the ceremony continued.
The ceremony concluded with Cardinal Magelleon announcing to the gathering, “May I present to you, Andrew and Ashley St. Johns of Avalon.” The crowd erupted in applause as the couple made their way down the aisle. One by one, the official party and some of the dignitaries were escorted behind them into the Dragon’s Veil while the square was transformed from wedding seating to a huge reception for all.

Ashley and Andrew took their place at the head of the receiving line, along with Bryan and Stephanie, to be formally congratulated by everyone. Ocwyn hovered close by to ensure they knew exactly who they were speaking too and that the proper protocols were adhered to. Queen Cadhla was the first to greet the happy couple.

Ashley and Andrew bow and curtsey, respectfully, exactly how Ocwyn instructed them as the Queen approaches. “Congratulations to both of you, it was a beautiful ceremony,” she congratulated. “You should be very proud Lord and Lady MoonDrake.”

Bryan bowed, ever respectful of his monarch. “We are honored that Her Majesty could attend.” He then turned his attention to young Bowen. “And did you enjoy the ceremony, Prince Bowen?”

“It was okay, but I preferred watching the dragons,” he said, pointing up the mountain to where Kragmar and Nihala sit. “I’ve never seen a dragon before.”

Bryan saw an adventurous streak in the young prince. “Well, maybe your mother will allow me to take you on a flight around Emmyr so you can see the dragon’s a lot better.”

Bowen brightened up at the chance of seeing the dragons up close and he turned to the Queen for approval. Queen Cadhla hated to burst his enthusiasm, but she knew this was not the right time.

“I don’t think we’ll have time for that today Bowen,” she cautioned, causing the boy to look sullen and disappointed. “But perhaps, the next time Sir Hunter comes home to Emmyr to visit, you can tag along and spend some time here, alright?”

Bowen practically jumped for joy. Bryan and Stephanie were surprised that the Queen, who had been so over-protective of her son since his birth, would allow him to come to Emmyr alone.
“I will look into making the necessary arrangements, Your Majesty, once we get back to New Camelot,” Hunter interjected.

“We would be honored to have the young prince as our guest,” Stephanie added. “Thomas would love to have another boy his own age to play with.”

As the Queen moved off to talk with some of the other guests, Ashley leaned into her mother, looking curiously at Queen Cadhla and Prince Bowen. “Mom, I’m confused … Who is the boy’s father?” she whispered.

“No one knows really,” Stephanie replied softly, so others wouldn’t hear her. “Rumor has it there was this young knight who was completing his training in New Camelot when the Queen fell madly in love with him and seduced him. However, he was honor-bound to his home and left without saying good-bye. It broke the Queen’s heart. He was said to have been killed in Blackbriar Forest, but no body was ever found.”

Others came through the receiving line, including the Gil-Gamesh’s friends Eonis and Dinius. The pair greeted Bryan and Stephanie warmly before turning their attention to the wedded couple. “Congratulations laddie and welcome to Avalon,” Dinius said, reaching up to give Andrew a hearty handshake. Andrew was slightly tongue-tied to the fact that he’s talking to an actual Dwarf and Elf.

“Congratulations laddie and welcome to Avalon,” Dinius said, reaching up to give Andrew a hearty handshake. Andrew was slightly tongue-tied to the fact that he’s talking to an actual Dwarf and Elf.

Eonis gave a courteous bow to Ashley and Andrew. “You are a welcome addition to the MoonDrake family.”

Ashley reached out and gave Eonis a hug before she realized that she might have breached protocol. “I’m so sorry Eonis, I shouldn’t have done that.”

Eonis just ignored it altogether. “Not to worry Ashley … Being a friend of your father, I have come to grow accustomed to involuntary hugging.”

“If you like lass, you can hug me. I don’t mind it as much as the Elf,” Dinius quipped. Ashley knelt down and gave the old Dwarf a hug, leaving everyone with a good laugh. “Andrew lad, the Gil-Gamesh tells me you’ve taken to swinging the axe?”

“Yes sir, Róta and Myst are the perfect weapons to have.”

“Indeed it is laddie, any knight can wield a sword, but it takes a real man to swing an axe …” he exclaimed before pausing and turning to Bryan. “No offense intended Gil-Gamesh.”

“And none taken Master Dinius, as always!” he joked.

Dinius grumbled before he turned back to Andrew. “If you ever need some tips lad, I’d be happy to share them with yeh.”

“That would be great Master Dinius, how about we talk about it over a pint?” Andrew replied, knowing the Dwarf’s fondness for ale, or so Bryan told him.

“Ha-ha, now you’re talking lad! You’re buying!” Dinius agreed as he slapped Andrew in the back, a stronger blow than he was expecting, as it nearly knocked the wind out of him.

After the entire line of dignitaries made their way through the receiving line, they all moved back into the square for the reception. The area had been transformed, thanks to the uncanny precision and meticulous organization of Mayor Henri Beauchamp.

The servers brought out large roasted pigs, peccadillo, roast chicken, chicharones, fried plantains, mango salsa, black beans and more … It is a feast unlike anyone has ever seen in Avalon. Though some ate the food with slight trepidation, others dove in with enthusiasm. It was a rousing success as great food and music brought laughter and love together.

Ashley and Andrew sat at a table on the dais with Rose and Edan. The four young adults were enjoying their meal as well as their time together. Bryan kept a close watch on Edan from down below, but Stephanie nudged him every once and awhile to mind his own business.

Even with all the festivities going on, security was still paramount. Amelia and the other Shield Maidens had been intertwined with the Gil-Gamesh’s Dragon Guard and Knights of the Round Table from New Camelot to surround the square and keep a watchful eye. Amelia wandered around, looking at everyone who came in and left of the square.

One person caught her attention out of the corner of her eye. A woman wearing garish clothes—probably a prostitute from the local brothel—placed a small box on the gift table. The table was filled with a variety of presents from both the dignitaries as well as the people of Emmyr. It wasn’t anything unusual so she just noted it and continued her patrol around the square.

Ocwyn stepped up to the head table and tried to get everyone’s attention, but even he was unable to be heard over the crowd. He finally pulled out his wand from within his robes and pointed it into the air. “Silentium!” he chanted. The tip of his wand glowed as waves of magic rippled through the air cascade from his wand. The load roar of the crowd turned to utter silence as the spell took hold over the square. Once Ocwyn saw he had their undivided attention, he waved his wand and canceled the spell.

“Your Majesty, Lords of Avalon, Ladies and Gentlemen … It is a noted tradition that on Christmas Eve, some parents allow children to open one gift. To continue that tradition, I invite Mrs. St. Johns to pick one of the gifts from the table to open before our assembled guests.”

The audience roared in approval as Ocwyn helped Ashley down to the gift table so she could make her choice. She walked along the table, looking at all the gifts, each wrapped beautifully. People in the audience shouted out advice as to which gift to pick as she walked down the long table.

She finally stopped and spied a small box neatly wrapped. For some reason, her eye was drawn to it and she picked it up, garnering applause from the crowd. She made her way up to the table and stood next to Andrew. Together they unwrapped the ribbon and Ashley opened the box. People stood and strained to see what she would pull out of the box.

Ashley was speechless as she reached in and pulled out a small orb, about five inches in diameter. It shimmered in the light as she fawned over such a beautiful gift. But from near the front, Archie watched as Ashley pulled the orb out of the box and his delight turned to fear.
“Ashley no!” he shouted. “Put that down!”

But his voice couldn’t be heard over the applause and cheers of the crowd. The orb pulsed with energy, drawing the attention of Nihala who roared out a warning, silencing the crowd. Suddenly, the pulsing energy transferred from the orb into Ashley. She looked up as her eyes rolled back into her head; she looked down, bracing herself on the table.

“Ash, are you alright?” Andrew asked. Ashley righted herself and opened her eyes, but it wasn’t Ashley looking back. It was Morgana le Fay.

“Repello!” she commanded, firing a bolt of energy from the orb at Andrew that sent him flying across the square and crashing into the wall.

She turned to Rose and Edan, sitting next to her looking confused. “Repello!” she commanded again, sending the two flying off the dais.

Shouts of horror and disbelief could be heard around the square. Stephanie rushed to help Andrew while Sarafina and Nevan looked after Rose and Edan. Bryan rushed to his daughter but Archie stopped him.

“Ashley, what are you doing?!” he shouted.

“No, no Gil-Gamesh … it’s not Ashley,” Archie explained. “That’s the Orb of Veles. Ashley has been possessed! It’s Morgana … Morgana le Fay! The sorceress has returned!”


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.


Happy Christmahannukwanzadan! I think that covers everybody …

ef04f779cd7f475526a590fe1593b047This may be a tired subject to some people, but I really need to vent. We are getting to the point that there is no holiday season, it’s just three months of continuous holidays! Every year, it gets to be earlier and earlier and its driving me crazy. There’s even a definition for it.

Christmahannukwanzadan is defined in the Urban Dictionary as “a combination of the main holiday terms; Christmas, Hannukah, Kwanza, and Ramadan. To be used in this age of correctness where people may be offended by wishing one person a seasonal greeting but leaving another person out, thereby offending their race or creed.” Really? There is now a definition for this condition and it’s getting worse each and every year.

I saw the first signs of Fall in JULY when our local Wal-Mart starting putting out Pumpkin Spice coffee creamer. Then came the Fall decorations and the Halloween candy and costumes in Costco in AUGUST. Now, this past weekend, right next to said Halloween costumes and decorations, there are Christmas trees and lights being put on display … in SEPTEMBER!

I know that, for some people, Christmas is a mindset that lasts all year long. I married one of those fanatics so I know what I’m talking about. I spend my year watching Christmas movies and listening to Christmas music on a regular basis, so I’m immune to these dastardly effects, and please, don’t think I’m a “Grinch” either.

Call me old fashion, but I remember a time when there were three distinct holidays. October was the start of Fall and then Halloween. The day after Halloween, you started planning for Thanksgiving, parades, and football, and then into Christmas. You didn’t decorate your house until mid-December. I mean, look at some of the classic movies like “A Christmas Story” or “Miracle on 34th Street” or “The Waltons Homecoming” and you’ll see what it was like.

To paraphrase a line from the classic “Miracle on 34th Street,” there’s a lot of “isms” out there and commercialism is the worst. I mean, just look at what we eat and drink. Everything is pumpkin flavored this time of year, from coffee and beer to donuts and pasta. It’s out of control! I’ve even already started seeing ads for the “Countdown to Christmas” on the Hallmark Channel.

132452_1693116215144_6008395_o-1Look, I love the holidays. I am a master of lights and displays this time of year and I love to show it off, but can we please concentrate on one holiday at a time so we can enjoy the fun of each and everyone. You lose some of that holiday spirit when you run things together like this, then you skip over the true meanings that they bring to all of us. So let’s try to enjoy this holiday season without having everything run together to where it ruins those special days. Happy Christmahannukwanzadan to everyone!


51nd6H6sATL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_SKU-000941753Mark Piggott is the author of the Forever Avalon book series. Forever Avalon is available for purchase at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. The Dark Tides is available for purchase at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iUniverseThe Outlander War can be previewed at Inkitt.

The holiday season flies by faster than Santa’s sleigh with a tail wind


Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

It’s finally here! Christmas is only four days away. It’s strange how time flies so fast around the holiday season. You blink and it’s over. Jus as your finish putting up the Christmas decorations, you barely have time to enjoy them and suddenly, you start to take them down.

I’m not trying to burst the holiday bubble, really I’m not. It’s just every year, as the holidays start earlier (as in October) they seem to go by faster. You look forward to going to holiday parades, Christmas tree lighting celebrations, visiting family and before you know it, POOF! It’s all gone.

By the end of the week, the annual parade of Christmas specials will change into “Year in Review” specials and a look back at 2015. It’s just too abrupt. We have become a society where “we want it fast and we want it now” as we try to cram everything into one holiday, not even enjoying it as we rush off into the next. It’s like when you mother tells you “to slow down and enjoy your dinner” but you just want to get it over with so you can go back to playing video games or watching TV.

Some cultures even take Christmas out farther to January 6 to celebrate the Epiphany, or Three Kings Day, when the three wise men finally arrived at the manger to present gifts to the baby Jesus. There are so many significant differences in cultures and how they celebrate Christmas, you wouldn’t even recognize it in other countries.

In the Far East, like China and Japan, Christmas is not a recognized national holiday. It’s more of a commerce-driven celebration. Sure, they still exchange gifts, hang up decorations and send out Christmas cards, but not for the same reason as us. In most African nations, Christmas is a time when people empty the cities and return to their ancestral homes to be with family. In all of this, you can still see the one common denominator, bringing people together to celebrate family and friends.

So, however you celebrate Christmas this year, I hope you can spend that time with family and friends and enjoy the holiday and the end of 2015. So here’s wishing you a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanza, and a Happy New Year!


What Doctor Who teaches us about the magic of Christmas

Christmas has many traditions that people observe in their own way, from when do we get to open presents to what foods we get to eat. My favorite Christmas tradition is watching the annual Doctor Who special on BBC America.


“The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe”

It may not seem like a normal tradition to some people, but it is very normal to geeks like me. Doctor Who has been around as long as I’ve been alive. These Christmas specials are special on so many different levels. They are wonderful stories in their own right, setting up the next season of Doctor Who, and they demonstrate the universal truth about the Christmas holiday. “The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe” taught us the importance of family at the holidays. “Last Christmas” taught us to believe in Santa Claus, even with an alien crab stuck to our heads. “Voyage of the Damned” told us why Titanic is a bad name for a ship in any universe.

To fans like me, the Doctor Who Christmas specials are just as important as watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas or It’s a Wonderful Life every year. These are special episodes made to make us laugh, make us cry and tease us for what’s happening next season.


“The Snowmen”

Sometimes, they even help us say goodbye to the old Doctor and hello to the new one. The past three Doctors have all regenerated during a Christmas special. The 10th Doctor, David Tennant, died in “The End of Time” and regenerated into the 11th Doctor, Matt Smith. Consequently, Matt Smith died in “The Time of the Doctor” and regenerated into the 12th Doctor, Peter Capaldi. I think BBC does this to make it easy on the fans as they watch these specials on Christmas with family and friends who share their enthusiasm for Doctor Who.

The other great aspect of the Doctor Who Christmas Specials is the wonderful actors that guest star in these episodes. Kylie Minogue played a waitress on the Titanic starliner in “Voyage of the Damned” Christmas episode. Michael Gambon and opera star Katherine Jenkins were in my favorite Doctor Who Christmas special, “A Christmas Carol.”


“Last Christmas”

The origins of the Doctor Who Christmas specials date back to 1964. During a seven-part serial “The Daleks Master Plan” premiered one episode on Christmas Day called “The Feast of Steven” which included breaking the “fourth wall” in television, wishing viewers a Happy Christmas. The tradition really started in 2005 with “The Christmas Invasion” as the Doctor (David Tennant) and Rose Tyler (Billie Piper) helped stop an alien invasion on Christmas Day. From then on, people have enjoyed their Christmas pudding and spiked Eggnog with an extra helping of Doctor Who.

Some people will tune into 24 hours of A Christmas Story, go to church or maybe gather around the piano and sing Christmas carols on Christmas night, but not us diehard Whovians. We will sit and wait and tune into the BBC for our annual tradition of the Doctor, his sonic screwdriver and the TARDIS. It just wouldn’t be Christmas without the Doctor.