What it takes to write a book, no a series, without going completely crazy

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I have to admit, this has been a journey for me. I like to say it’s been a 20-year trek, since Forever Avalon was first published in 2009, but in actuality, it’s been a nearly 40-year journey for me. I wrote a little bit in high school, but not as much as I do today.

It all really started around 1984, for me. I just joined the U.S. Navy, finished boot camp, and was waiting for to join my “A” school class for military journalism at the Defense Information School, Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind. I spent my time in specialty classes to improve my typing speed (I still “hen and peck” at the keyboard to this day) and performing odd duties, like manning a reception desk in the Broadcast Department office. This was really “busy work” while I waited for a spot to open in the next available class schedule.

When I wasn’t on duty, I found some like-minded friends and we spent our evenings and weekends playing Dungeons and Dragons. I had also started writing then, although it was nothing like the Forever Avalon series. I originally had ambitions of being a screenwriter, so I wrote a D&D based screenplay called “Justice by the Sword” and, to be honest, it sucked. I think most writers probably feel the same way about their first piece of work. I still have it, though, as a memento of my first attempt as a writer, to remind me of this journey I started on.

After “A” school, I reported to my first duty station, the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal. It was a behemoth, quite intimidating for a young sailor, but it was an experience I’ll never forget. Like at “A” school, I spent my off duty nights at sea playing D&D with my friends. Yes, I was a full blown nerd. You have to remember, this was before video game consoles, the internet, cellphones, and satellite TV. The only video games we had were the arcade machines on the mess decks that you dropped your quarters into. D&D let us escape those 16 hour work days, separated from family and loved ones, into a world of fantasy.

It was in that haze between fantasy and reality that I found my calling, my dream, my story as a writer. It started as a recurring dream. Whenever I was deployed, I would have this dream about being with my family on a magical, medieval fantasy world. It was like living in an Isekai anime. This dream stayed with me for more than 20 years, half of which was spent on sea duty, deployed overseas. Finally, in 2001, during my last deployment aboard the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (Yes, I served on the Enterprise! Take that, nerds!) I decided to write down the story. I didn’t play D&D anymore (not many Chief Petty Officers into RPGs) so I took my stories to heart and started to write. I spent my off duty time developing my Forever Avalon story, including world building, developing characters, and creating the stories behind the myths and legends of this fantasy world of mine. It was a breathtaking experience.

I finished writing my manuscript over the next few years, followed by editing and then researching publishers to send it to. It wasn’t until 2008, two years after I retired from active duty, that I was finally accepted by a publisher and my dream became a reality. Forever Avalon was published. Then, I stopped having my recurring dream. It was as if I was telling myself that I had to write this story and my job was done. I can’t explain it, I couldn’t if I tried, but this story was, and always has been, a part of me. Now, more than 20 years later, the story (at least, this part of it) is complete.

I don’t mean to sound overtly mysterious, but I can say I’ve already written Book Four in the Forever Avalon series, and started writing Book 5. I have one more trilogy planned before I completely finish this fantasy series altogether. To be honest, the same thing happened to me recently. I started having a dream about waking up at a crossroads in another world (do you see a pattern here…), nearly murdered, and resurrected with a “clockwork heart” to train as a magical warrior. This dream led me to write another new novel I recently finished, The Last Magus. I haven’t done anything with it yet as I’m still editing, but it’s cut from the same cloth.

I know a lot of these stories have been influenced by the movies and television shows I’ve watched and the books I’ve read. It’s the same for many authors; you are influenced by the experiences of your lifetime. The first part of this journey of mine is coming to a close, but I still have more stories to tell. To me, it’s just getting started.

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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 iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is available for presale and will be released on 28 February 2020 from Austin Macauley Publishing.

The Outlander War now available for presale!

The Outlander War: Book 3 of the Forever Avalon Series is now available for presale! You can order your copy at Amazon UK! Here is a brief synopsis:

It is an island frozen in time and space. For more than 3,000 years, the island of Avalon remained hidden from the outside world; a place of eternal magic, where the descendants of King Arthur ruled over a land filled with magical creatures, Elves, Dwarves and dragons. The island was only accessible through a rift in the Bermuda Triangle, where mariners and aviators disappeared throughout history. No one believed Avalon was anything but a myth.

In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, in the heart of a naval exercise, Avalon suddenly reappeared, causing disruptions on both fronts. The US Navy, now circling the mysterious island, wants answers. On Avalon, they fear Outlanders would intrude on their home; and caught in the middle of it all is Lord Bryan MoonDrake, the Gil-Gamesh of Avalon, Knight Eternal and champion of the magical realm.

The Gil-Gamesh was once a US Navy sailor, lost at sea in a freak storm, who found his way to Avalon. After his family followed him to the island, they decided to stay and make this their home. Now they are torn between loyalty to their new home and compassion for their old one.The tensions build as modern technology faces off against ancient magic on an island where the laws of magic supersede the laws of science, causing mechanical weapons to falter and shut down. As military forces continue to surround the mysterious island, bringing both sides to the brink of war, an ancient evil arises from within, one that has been seeking the throne of New Camelot for three millennia.

UPDATE: The Outlander War is now available for pre-order on Amazon for your Kindle! It will be auto-delivered on 27 February to your device!

Thank you to everyone for the great support! Keep an eye out for a schedule of upcoming book signing and other events.

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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 available for presale and will be released on 28 February 2020 from Austin Macauley Publishing.

It’s Hollywood award season, blah blah blah blah blah!

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It’s award season and Hollywood is all abound with red carpets, dazzling lights, gorgeous gowns and million dollar jewelry on the stars of your favorite movies. Top it all off with a dash of politics, a smidgen of hypocrisy, and a lot of self-inflation and you have the Academy Awards.

At one time, these award shows garnished millions of viewers as people looked forward to seeing their favorite celebrities win top honors. The last time the Oscars had top ratings was in 2004 when Billy Crystal hosted the ceremonies. That year, Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King won Best Picture and the award show had 43.5 million viewers. This year, Oscar hit an all time low with only 23.6 million viewers.

Part of it (besides the hypocritical slant of rich actors standing on their soapbox telling everyday people how to live) seems to be that more movies get picked for their “artistic” vibe and not box office records. I mean, doesn’t that make a movie a success… The people who spend the money to go see a movie again and again. Am I right? I mean, Parasite, a foreign language film from Korea, won Best Picture. I never even heard of it before. Plus, they nominated The Irishman, a movie made for Netflix. Are we now counting streaming services the same as box office movies?

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The standard seems to have gone down dramatically from the days of Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, and On the Waterfront. I understand the world is changing and streaming services are now a part of everyday life. But what has it done to improve the quality of movies? Absolutely nothing. Does the success of these movies affect its award? No, because some really, really bad or unknown movies make it to the award stage.

Back in the heyday of Hollywood, it was the top grossing movies that made it to the Oscars. Now, all you have to do is be downloaded a few times on Netflix and you get an Oscar nod. Now, I’ll admit, I haven’t seen Parasite, nor am I interested in seeing it. But they are saying that this movie is better than 1917 (Hell no), Ford vs Ferrari (no), Joker (no, no), Little Women (eh, maybe), etc., etc. It’s a joke.

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I mean, think about it. Do you know what the top movies of 2019 were? Avengers: Endgame, The Lion King, Frozen II, Spider-Man: Far from Home, Captain Marvel, Joker, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, and Toy Story 4, and that’s only the top 8. Out of those 8, only Joker was nominated for Best Picture, and Toy Story 4 won Best Animated Film. The rest were locked out. Once Upon a Time in Hollywood was #23, 1917 was #29, and Ford vs. Ferrari was #39. Little Women ranked #1201 out of 1300 films released in 2019. And this movie was nominated for Best Picture. Best Picture! Really?

It’s a joke. I’m sorry, but it’s a joke. It’s Hollywood’s way of patting itself on the back and giving each other high fives, but otherwise, it’s a freakin’ joke. I know I’m ranting here, and I shouldn’t be, but it just makes you wonder why we have award shows anyway.

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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 will be released on 28 February 2020 from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Now that your book is published, it’s time to market the Hell out of it

The Outlander War: Book 3 of the Forever Avalon seriesI was happy to announce last week that my third novel, THE OUTLANDER WAR, is being published on 28 February 2020. Now comes the next daunting task… MARKETING! For an Independent Author, marketing is a dirty word. Why? Because, unlike authors signed to big publishing houses, we have to do it all ourselves.

From getting copies of your books for sale, paying for a booth for book signing events and festivals, buying marketing merchandise (i.e. bookmarks, flyers, banners, etc.) and sending out press releases to entice local media. It’s a daunting task, especially for someone working a full-time job while trying to become a full-time author. It can be exhausting.

To begin with, I already run my own social media on three platforms (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) as well as this blog on WordPress. Thanks to a great FREE online and app, Hootsuite, I can easily schedule my posts. I try to plan for two a day, a week at a time, and then add additional posts as I need to. I try to include meaningful quotes from books, authors, anime and other media that interests me as well as the occasional writer’s meme. In addition, I push out images, reviews, and promotions for my books, in the hopes that people will buy it, read it, and review it.

I’ve been told, across more than one website, that you need reviews to build your presence, especially on Amazon, to gain more visibility. However, reviews cost (in some cases) and again, you’re spending money you haven’t even earned yet. I try to offer other authors a book exchange or a review for a review. It’s how we Independent Authors use our network to help each other. However, the unfortunate reality for most Independent Authors is that you spend more money than you make.

I spent close to $10,000 on a marketing campaign and attending a Hollywood marketing seminar during the release of my second book, The Dark Tides. I thought this would be my chance for a breakthrough so I spent the money. Unfortunately, it didn’t pay out. On top of that, there is a lot of scams out there trying to take advantage of desperate authors. I can’t tell you how many phone calls and emails I received about getting my book as a Netflix show, placed in international book fairs, etc. It’s mind blowing the corruption we face, just trying to make a name for ourselves.

I’ve already signed up for the Gaitherburg Book Festival, on Saturday, May 16, from 10am-6pm, at Bohrer Park, 506 S. Frederick Avenue, Gaithersburg, Maryland. I’ll be selling signed copies of all three of my books. It’s free and open to the public. If you’re in the Washington, DC, area, I hope you’ll come out and support me.

I am an author and I’m going to continue to write and publish my books. I may not be the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, but I will continue to try and find my niche, even though it’ll cost me more than I make in return. That’s the price of being a writer.

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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 iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series will be released on 28 February 2020 from Austin Macauley Publishing.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS! “The Outlander War” book release date set for 28 February 2020

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I am happy to tell you that The Outlander War: Book Three of the Forever Avalon Series has an official release date! The conclusion of the first trilogy in the Forever Avalon series will be available as a book/ebook from Austin Macauley Publishers on 28 February 2020.

Here is a brief synopsis of the novel:

It is an island frozen in time and space. For more than 3,000 years, the island of Avalon remained hidden from the outside world; a place of eternal magic, where the descendants of King Arthur ruled over a land filled with magical creatures, Elves, Dwarves and dragons. The island was only accessible through a rift in the Bermuda Triangle, where mariners and aviators disappeared throughout history. No one believed Avalon was anything but a myth.

In the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, in the heart of a naval exercise, Avalon suddenly reappeared, causing disruptions on both fronts. The US Navy, now circling the mysterious island, wants answers. On Avalon, they fear Outlanders would intrude on their home; and caught in the middle of it all is Lord Bryan MoonDrake, the Gil-Gamesh of Avalon, Knight Eternal and champion of the magical realm.

The Gil-Gamesh was once a US Navy sailor, lost at sea in a freak storm, who found his way to Avalon. After his family followed him to the island, they decided to stay and make this their home. Now they are torn between loyalty to their new home and compassion for their old one.

The tensions build as modern technology faces off against ancient magic on an island where the laws of magic supersede the laws of science, causing mechanical weapons to falter and shut down. As military forces continue to surround the mysterious island, bringing both sides to the brink of war, an ancient evil arises from within, one that has been seeking the throne of New Camelot for three millennia.

I will have more information on how you can get a copy of the book, as well as any dates and locations for book signings and other events I’ll be attending this spring and summer to promote The Outlander War. Thanks for all the great support, from my family and friends and other independent authors I network with.

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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 iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

 

The new season of Doctor Who has one foot in the Tardis, and one out!

The new season of Doctor Who started with a bang, a big bang! I mean, in Spyfall 1 and 2, we had the return of the Master, the world population being converted into computer harddrives, Nazis (never go wrong with Nazis), spies, and other dimensions. It was great. I thought Chris Chibnal was finally listening to the fans. But…

Then, in the next two episodes, it was the same old Chibnal trying to give us “teachable” moments about climate change (Orphan) and the evils of capitalism (Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror). We were back to square one… And then, a breakthrough.

In Fugitive of the Judoon, we got the return of Captain Jack Harkness, the foreshadowing of the return of the Cybermen, and another version of the Doctor. Wait, what? (I know, I can’t believe it myself). Here was another version of the Doctor, played wonderfully by Jo Martin, supposedly from the past, locked away in human form by the chameleon arch. And once she was unleashed, she was a bad ass. She reminded me a lot of the War Doctor. She even disregarded and mocked the sonic screwdriver, a tool for nearly every man/woman who has worn the mantle of The Doctor. Crazy, right?

So, here Chibnal has given us a proper mystery for the series. This I like. This is what I want. Not only the Judoon, who continue to display their absolute ferocity for the letter of the law, but also another look through the keyhole into the mystery of Gallifrey. Now, I have a theory here, so bear with me. If you’re new to the series, you may not understand this, but you only have to Google one word… Valeyard.

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My theory is that the Jo Martin version of the Doctor is actually from the timeline of the Valeyard. The Valeyard, from the Sixth Doctor’s time, was the prosecutor during The Trial of a Timelord arc. He was a darker amalgamation of the Doctor’s persona, somewhere around his 13th regeneration. However, his plot was uncovered and the Valeyard was supposedly killed but he was seen, at the end of the episode, disguised as the Keeper of the Matrix. Since then, there have only been mentions of the Valeyard, here and there, but nothing more.

Now, we know that this  supposed timeline changed when Matt Smith’s Doctor got a whole new set of regenerations at his finale, The Time of the Doctor. So, did that change the future and the destiny of the Valeyard? If so, how? I think that is the story behind this fractured timeline that Jo Martin’s Doctor comes from. We’ll have to wait and see if it turns out that way, but it’s a definite possibility.

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No then, back to my rant. I want Chibnal to stop preaching to us about social issues. Yes, we’re all afraid that the world may be affected by climate change, but I’m old enough to remember the “second ice age” predictions in the 70’s and Al Gore’s 10 years until Florida is underwater in 2006’s An Inconvenient Truth. We have had dire warnings about the future from every dystopian book and movie for the past 100 years. Remember George Orwell’s 1984? How about Mad Max or Waterworld? I will admit, that Doctor Who has done it’s share of dire warnings about the future in stories (global warming mentioned in Doomsday Cybermen episode for example) but not “in your face” like Chibnal does.

We know we’re going to get taught a few things in Doctor Who… The horrifying deaths in the destruction of Pompeii, how the banana daiquiri was invented in France during the reign of Louis XV, and how the Empire State Building was built by mutated pig men and Daleks. Seriously though, Doctor Who was created to help teach kids about history with a few aliens thrown in from time to time. The Daleks themselves are a living metaphor for the aftermath of nuclear war. It’s been a great plot turn for more than 50 years, so don’t stop now. Leave the “social justice warriors” to the news networks and keep the Doctor  as the witty, time travelling, Earth-loving alien with two hearts for double the fun!

Teach us about the possible and the impossible!

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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 iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Cover… Check! Interior Art… Check! Read through edits and proof manuscript… Double Check!

Well, I’m happy to report a other hurdle completed to publishing my third book, The Outlander War. Over the Christmas and New Year’s holiday, I received the proof from my publisher to review. During that time, I spent my holiday vacation reviewing their edits, commenting on questions raised within my novel, and even suggested a few changes and edits myself. I find that reading it over for the hundredth time, and you still see different ways to tell the story.

The hard part is not over editing. You have to watch how much you change because it might affect the overall quality. I think, as a writer, we are consistently not satisfied with our work, and would continue to edit unless we stop ourselves. It’s the nature of the beast.

The biggest difference for me has been working with a publisher, Austin Macauley, in Great Britain. They use traditional, Old English, for certain words like honour, defence, realise, and artefact for example. It’s not a big deal, to me. The words still have the same meaning so it’s okay.

In fact, the one thing I will say is they gave me the best edit on one of my novels to date. It was clear, concise, and thoughtful. The biggest issue we had was on the term shield maiden. I had it capitalized throughout my novel, treating it as a proper name, but they thought that was excessive and should not be treated as such. In the end, we compromised. I made it lowercase in general references and capitalized it in titles.

Now I’m just waiting for the finished product, to see the final proof of everything together. This is the end of a journey that began more than 20 years ago. The story behind Forever Avalon has been incredible fun, any its not over yet. The first trilogy of this series may be complete, but the story goes on. More to follow as I get closer to its release. Thank you for all your support.

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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 iUniverse Publishing. The Outlander War, Book Three of the Forever Avalon series is coming soon from Austin Macauley Publishing.

Vote for FOREVER AVALON for Cover of the Month

Forever Avalon has been nominated for Cover of the Month by allauthor.com!

Click here to VOTE so we can kick off 2020 with a win! Thanks for your support!

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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.

“Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” is worthy of the legacy

It’s a Christmas tradition (at least in my house) to watch a Star Wars movie over the holiday. First, I spent the holidays thrilling over The Mandalorian and Baby Yoda. Then, on Christmas Day, I got to see the end of the original series with Episode IX.

My son called me before I saw it to let me know he really didn’t care for it and I may be disappointed. I wasn’t fazed by his review. After all, he liked The Last Jedi.

BTW, NO SPOILERS HERE!

In any event, I think people seeing this movie will either like it or hate it. It’s that polarizing. The way the story of Rey, the Resistance, the First Order, the Jedi and the Sith, and the Emperor all came to a conclusion was a bit clunky. It was all over the place, from beginning to end, not sure which way was up or down, light side or dark side, etc. But even through all that, the story came to a close with a bang, not a whimper. It was brilliant.

The way this all started out, I thought they were taking Rey down the dark side, learn to control her emotions or end up like Vader and Kylo Ren. We all got that vibe from images in the trailer. Luckily, there was more to it than that. Rey’s story is the most complex within the movie, and I wish it didn’t take the whole movie to sort it out, but I’m glad it finally did.

The Rise of Skywalker ticked all the right boxes for a Star Wars movie… Epic battle scenes, beautiful vistas, balanced comedic and tender moments, and “edge of your seat” suspense. It was quintessential Star Wars.

One of the things I tend to hate about Star Wars movies is the over/under use of characters. Rose, who played a big role in The Last Jedi was so under used here. Likewise was Dominic Monaghan. You don’t bring in someone like him to Star Wars and give him four lines. I am thrilled they were able to work in the last scenes of Carrie Fisher. It was an appropriate end for “our” princess!

I loved the various cameos and the nods to characters from film, television, books and comic books. That’s one of the things that made this movie great for me. They didn’t forget where the story began and brought it to a close.

We can now look forward to new stories from the Star Wars universe, or so we’re told by our Disney Sithlords. Let’s hope we get more like The Mandalorian and less like The Last Jedi.

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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.

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.

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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.