The REAL Christmas Story 

For those of you who haven't read it. here's Joseph's side of the story. THere is a YouTube link that has illustrations. And you thought you had it rough at Christmas. HAH!


By R. L. Clayton


Three days on the road with a pregnant woman. God, I’ve about had it. “The seat is too hard, the seat is too soft, my back hurts, my ankles are swollen, my feet hurt, I’m hot, I’m cold, I’m thirsty, I’m hungry, I gotta go potty again. I got the runs from that strange food you bought last night.” It hasn’t stopped since we left. This whole trip just to settle a tax situation. I have orders to fill, work to do. I got stopped by the cops for going too slow. And that rest stop last night had some really shady characters hanging around. I didn’t sleep all night. We were lucky to get out of there with our stuff.

The traffic has been horrible – nose to butt. It’s been an endless stream, and everybody just throws their trash out. Nobody cleans up the roads. This is a disgrace. I’m going to complain.

“Joe honey, are you alright? You’re muttering to yourself again,” came the high-pitched voice.

“I’m sorry, dear. It’s just the heat and the dust and everything.”

“I know. I haven’t been too helpful either. Lucky for us we’ll be there in another few hours. I can’t wait for a hot bath and some good food. What’s the name of the hotel again?”

“Harold’s Club, I think. I made a reservation three months ago.”

“Oh, look! There’s the city. I can see it from here.”

Of course you can see it from there. You’re up high, while I’m down here in the dust and dung. Oh crap! What was that I just stepped in. Camels! They should be banned from the slow lane. It squished up between my toes, UGH!

“Mary, can you see how come we’re stopping?”

“There’s a lot of traffic ahead. I can’t see very well because it’s getting dark, but there’s some soldiers with a roadblock. I think they’re checking IDs or passports or something. They’re probably worried about terrorists.”

Great, just what we need. Another delay, and I really have to take a dump. I can’t do anything around here, there’s nothing but sand. Oh, man! That camel in front of us just farted. This is the worst!

“Honey, can I have a drink of water?”

“Sure, babe. Can you see how long we’ll be stuck here?” That’s the last thing she needs. Water now, potty later. It takes fifteen minutes just to get her down off the donkey and on the ground and then half an hour to get her back and ready to go. Man, we’ll lose our place in line. “Here’s the water. There’s not much, though.”

“Honey, it’s hard to see, with that glare in my eyes. You know, that’s the brightest star I’ve ever seen. Looks like not too long a wait, though.”

“There must be some sort of celebration. That’s why all the people. Maybe it’s tax day. That would figure.”

“Hush, honey. There’s some soldiers approaching. Don’t make ‘em mad.”

“Driver’s license and proof of insurance,” demanded a gruff voice behind a gnarled hand.

This guy is huge! It looks like someone ran over his face with a plow. Where the heck did I put my driver’s license?

“Hurry up,” came the raspy voice again.

“Oh crap it’s in my other tunic. I’ll get it officer. Just hold on.”

“What’s that smell?”

“I had a little accident a ways back.” The people behind me are starting to yell.

“Just step to the side there,” indicated the soldier.

“Mary, where’s my other tunic?”

“Here, honey. I was using it for a back rest.”

Thank God. Once out of line, we might not get through this gate until morning. “Here you go officer.”

“Nazareth huh. I heard there’s nothing there but sand and fleas. Okay, get going.”

Wow, the streets are crowded. I think our hotel is three blocks in and two to the left.

“Honey do you know where we’re going?”

“It’s just over there, I think.” I’ll never hear the end of this if it isn’t.

“I thought it was on the other road. Joe, are you lost? Should we get directions?”

“There it is, just ahead. Look at that parking lot! There must be a convention going on. Do you see any parking places?”

“There’s a place just in front.”

Drat! Drat! Drat! It’s a handicap place. Okay. “Mary, you stay here with our stuff until I get back. I’ll just hurry in and register.


“Good evening sir, May I help you?”

“Hi, the name is Joseph of Nazareth. I have a reservation.”

“Hmmm. Joseph you say. I’m not showing a reservation in that name.”

“I have a confirmation number.”

“Ah, good. Uh, sir, your check in time was four-o’clock. We couldn’t hold your reservation, and I’m afraid we’re fully booked.”

“But I have a confirmation number!”

“I’m sorry sir. You weren’t here.”

“You can’t do this. I have a confirmation number!”

“Sir, don’t make me call security.”

“Look, I’ve been on the road for three days with a pregnant woman. We had to stop at every bush along the road from Nazareth. We got caught in traffic. We’re not that late.”

“I’m sorry sir. Now please leave peacefully.”

“Can I at least use your restroom?”

“Patrons only. Goodbye”

Where did that large guy come from? “Okay, I’ll go.”


“Joseph, where have you been! I’ve been trying to explain to this officer that you’d be right out. He was writing us a ticket. See officer, he’s right here, and we’re going to our room now.”

“The next time I catch you in a handicap spot without a permit, I’ll have you towed. Now get out of here.”

“Let’s go to our room, dear. I can already feel that hot bath.”

“Unh, they’re booked. We lost the room because we were late.”

“I told you not to take the newspaper into the bathroom this morning. But Noooo. You were in there an hour. The flowers were wilted when I finally got in. Even the flies left. I nearly wet my pants.”

I’m tuning this out. Okay, where to now? There was a parking garage a block back. We’ll go there.


“Sir, we’d like to rent a little space in your stable just for the night. Our hotel lost our reservation, and there’s no place else to stay. Honest, sir we won’t be any trouble. Thanks.

“What is this place? We’re not staying here, are we? There’re animals inside. It stinks!”

“It’s the only place I can think of. Look, there’s some fresh straw and that feed trough looks pretty comfortable. You get settled, and I’ll go get something to eat. I saw a fast food place about a block away. I’ll just tie Bessie up here and be right back.”

“Honey, Bessie just took a dump on the floor. Can you clean that up before you go?”

“Yeah, sure, sweetie.”

The air out here is cool, but fresher than it is inside that stable. How did I get in this mess. I mean, I don’t even remember getting married, and I certainly don’t remember consummating the marriage. The first thing I know, she says she’s preggars and that ‘It happened that night you got drunk.’ Then she won’t let me touch her.

It is pretty light out here. That’s a bright star! What’s with all this traffic? These rich men and their hoity toity fancy camels. I better watch where I step. My toes are still stuck together from the last time.

“Help ya, Mac?”

“Yeah, sure. What’s that meat?” Why is he looking at me that way? “Let me have some of that grilled stuff and a skin of that wine. Thanks. How much? Is there some gold in this meat or something? Yeah, so’s your old man!”

Wow! Everybody must be trying to park at the stable. Look at all the ritzy people outside. There’s even chauffeurs with the camels! There’s a whole crowd! I hope they aren’t disturbing Mary.

“Excuse me, pardon me, I have to get in, Oops, sorry about your toes. Mary, what’s happening?”

“Just after you left, my water broke. All those Lamaze classes were wasted. Pow and it was out. I didn’t even have time to gasp once. It was a lot of fuss for nothing. Look, here’s your son!”

Oh man is he beautiful! He’s perfect with ten fingers and ten toes and and and...

“Joseph, on behalf of my kingdom, I’d like to present you with this gift for your special son. He is the prophecy,” said a bejeweled man as he handed me a glittering box.

“What is it?”

“Frankincense, from lands far away. It is for the child.”

Frankincense, what’s that? It sure smells good, though. I wonder what it tastes like. “Uh, thank you, sir.” There are boxes of stuff all around, rich boxes. The men are crowding in to get a look at my son. What’s that racket? Some boy just started beating a drum.

“Sir. what are you going to call him?”

“Mary, I’m going to name him after my father, Bruce. I’m going to call him Bruce.”

“Oh no you’re not! Your father was a bum, and a nasty one at that. Two cups of wine and he was three sheets to the wind–cursing up one wall and down the other. We’re going to call him Jesus.”

Jesus, what kind of name is that? It almost sounds like a curse word. “Uh …”

“Jesus, I said Jesus. We’re calling him Jesus.”

“Okay, honey, Jesus is fine. That’s okay. We’ll make up a sign for the shop. ‘Joseph and Jesus - Carpenters Supreme.’ It has a nice ring to it. I’ll teach him everything I know. I can teach him to hammer, saw, drill, sand, finish. It’ll be so great to have a son. I can teach him to burp and fart too.”

“That’s enough of that. Jesus is going to grow up a special child.”


I went to the TusCon 46 conference last weekend. Check out the website.  What a blast it is. Eric Schumacher ( and his company were filming a movie there. I got to be in it, but you'll have to look really hard to spot me.  The movie is the sequel to Revenge of Zoe. Fun people running around for that. Hi, Paula. Think you'd make a good Kiki? Costumes galore and really good sessions. In addition to the instruction writing session, NASA had reps there along with the Kitt Peak Observatory and Univ of AZ Astronomy group and the planetary studies group. They want to see sci-fi writers get the science right. Sign up for next year. It's really a bargain.

Self Pub #2 

Here's my second installment on self-pub stuff.

Self PUB

Chapter 2


Formatting Text

As I use Microsoft Word 10, most of these instructions are geared toward that. Look at published books to get an idea of what to do.

Font and text:

Once you have the edited manuscript, it’s time to get it formatted for the publisher/ printer. There are people who will format for you for a price, and it may be worth it. I like to do things myself.

See what font to use. I use Microsoft Word and make use of the Styles feature, This is the block in the middle of the tool bar under the Home tab. By right clicking on Normal the conditions can be modified–you can define what Normal is. I use Times New Roman as my font, 12 as the font size, Justified as the setup, and double spacing for my working manuscript. My heading for chapters is New Times Roman font, 14 point as the size, Bold, and center for my text location. That way I only have to click on the Styles block to set up the text. After the editing is complete, I only have to modify the definition of Normal to change the whole document. For submission, those changes would be to 1 or 1.15 spacing.

One advantage to using the Styles is that style changes (e.g. From Normal to Headings) are shown in the Navigation window like an index. This allows you to move rapidly around your document. The Navigation Pane is activated in the View tab.

The chapter heading is not at the top of the page. Publishers vary on what they want. I use 5 spaces (Normal style) before the chapter heading. I use one space (Normal) after.

Size & Margins:

For the working manuscript I use 8-1/2 x 11 paper and wide margins. This leaves room for comments. I also assign Section 1 to the first pages for title, copyright, acknowledgements and other information. If there’s a prologue, that goes before the section for the body of the text. This is so that headings and page numbers apply to the text body. When the editing is complete, change the page size to whatever the book size is to be. Make sure you click on Whole Document box. Once page size is applied to document, set the margins and gutter. Typical margins are 0.5 to left and right and top and bottom. Gutter is the space needed when binding so that the text is visible. Typically, gutter and margin on the inside of the page is about 0.8 inches total. The margins can vary as you decide.

Headers & Footers:

Headers and footers can be installed using the insert tab in the 1st Section. Make sure the “Same as Previous” is off. The first pages with book information don’t normally have headers, footers or page numbers. You can decide to have different headers on odd and even pages, like title on the right hand page and author name on the left hand. Page numbers can be on top or bottom of pages and centered or on left or right. Start page 1 on Chapter 1 which will be the first right hand page of the text body after a blank left hand page. Title page will be on the right hand side with the back blank.

Submission format:

It is usually required to imbed your fonts into the file. I didn’t know that fonts are not part of the file unless they are imbedded, silly ignorant me. To imbed fonts in Word files, click on the File tab. At the bottom of the menu, click on the “Options” tab then on the Save” selection. Under the “Preserve fidelity when sharing this document” heading, click on the “imbed fonts” and check the “Fonts in this document” option. If you imbed all fonts, the file will become HUGE.

It is typical to submit a book as a PDF file rather than a word processing file. Word allows the conversion from a DOC or DOCX file to PDF. IngramSpark (the printer/distributor I use) suggests that the PDF conversion be done under the Print selection under the File tab.


Formatting Cover

Different publishers want different cover files (JPEG etc.). It also varies whether e-book or print. A template will help determine the size of the cover (page size plus bleed) and the width of the spine (page count and paper type.) My graphic artist, Steve Linebaugh does covers for me which includes the color style. Thank you Steve!

Your cover is the first thing a buyer’s eye catches, so make it eye-catching. Don’t scrimp on cover design. It is one place to put dollars that is needed along with editing. Usually text files and cover files are separately submitted.

I find the submission process the most frustrating part. Don’t be afraid to call and seek help. With IngramSpark, you are the publisher. They are the printer distributor. They are not really helpful, but Steve and I have managed to struggle through the process.


self-pub #1 

I thought I'd start a podcast, but have decided to try out instructional blogs to see how it goes, so here's the first installment. Gimme feedback.


Self PUB

Chapter 1

This article assumes you’ve completed your manuscript. If not, WRITE! After self-publishing nine books, I thought I’d offer a series of comments about my experiences that might be helpful to others. I originally was going to do a PODcast, but thought I’d see what the response to blogs was first, so here goes. (This means you should respond. My skin is thick enough that I can take criticism.)


            When I finished writing my first book, Sea Species, I tried to go with traditional publishing. The manuscript was BAD, so that went nowhere. Luckily, one agent kindly told me to rewrite. I did and submitted. A few agents and pub houses did send rejection notes, others never got back to me. Sea Species was a time sensitive novel with reality quickly catching up to the science fiction, so I decided to try self-publishing. I checked with a publishing house that charged to publish, known as vanity publishing. For a mere few thousand dollars they’d be happy to publish. I didn’t have a spare thousand dollars hanging about.

Amazon had a self-publishing division called Create Space. For no cost, they’d publish my book. Though the publishing was free, the submission of text and cover had to be complete and correct unless one wanted to pay for editing and cover artwork. Checking graphic artists showed me how expensive they could be. One GA took pity on me and gave me contact info for Steve Linebaugh. What a godsend he turned out to be.

After toing and froing several times, we clicked and came up with the first cover. I had several friends help me out with the editing, and I was ready. Or so I thought. Create Space was helpful in getting the formatting correct, and two weeks later the book was in my hands. I ordered a bunch. Create Space took a heavy percentage of pricing, but they have to make money somehow. Create Space has now become Kindle Publishing.


Get the work professionally edited. Whether you are submitting to an agent/publishing house, or self-publishing, it must be correct. I was embarrassed by the number of errors. You name it and it was in there­–spelling, word usage, words omitted, POV changes, way too much rambling, all of it. Shop around, submit samples to see how good this editor is. I actually left some errors in to see if she would catch them. The most expensive are not necessarily the best.

Self-Edit First. After going through the work several times, including back to front reading (That keeps you from reading the story and skipping over errors), I use the Word editing tools. After hat I use Pro Writing Aid as my second line of self-editing. It’s not expensive and a full report means you are going through the work a dozen more times for each topic without reading it. I found myself changing my writing after using Pro Writing Aid.

I want to give my editor the best I can do so she isn’t focused on spelling and punctuation and helps on characters, POV, and story development. Remember, the editor is your friend and makes suggestions. You are the author but you want a great product.

Consider an editing group. I belong to and editing group. We meet weekly, read up to 10 pages after handing out copies to each of the members and each member notes comments and corrections and talks about them. It is critical that the members of your editing group are all helping each other. No room for egos. Carping or snide remarks will hurt your efforts. That means you have to take criticism as attempts to help. If that’s not the attitude, Get out. We haven’t done online editing, but there’s no reason it won’t work. I think it may be better in some ways, the members have more time to go over the submission and note comments and corrections. I did this as part of a writing class for ThrillerFest.

One important thing is that the members must have a commitment. We meet every week. There are times that some can’t make it. That’s understandable we do have lives outside of editing and writing, but chronic absences show a lack of commitment. Oust them.

Sending the MS to my editor is the last step in text preparation; I can accept or reject her recommendations,


Review, Penelope the Pooting Spider by reader 

Here is a review that Amazon wouldn't post on Penelope, so I decided to do it. Thanks you, Kim.

Creating Peace in our outdoor environment with our cooperation!
The format of the book was incredibly knowledge based. The message was directed at first about the spider, then the child learning that spiders are welcomed into our world. I liked the mixture of the diseases that mosquitoes carry however; the knowledge was much more powerful about learning about the incredible design of Nature & how we as humans should be paying attention and live in the moment!

It's in my hands 

Risen from the Dead is out! Got my first copy Monday and have ordered a stock for myself. I checked, and Amazon, Kobo and Barnes and Noble are carrying it. I'm also working with Eric Shumacher of 

seeliestudios-com to put together an audio book of Penelope the Pooting Spider. We'll see how it goes.

e-book out 

Risen from the Dead e-book is out. Don't know who has it on line yet. Print book  will be out in a week or so. Whew! Submitting is always an ordeal because I don't do it all the time.Already working on the next one. Maybe Paradise is Dead.

So close 

I'm putting final touches on Risen from the Dead and anticipate it will be available early in August. I will announce it!

I've started on the next Kiki adventure. My plan is to tie this even closer to the Evolution River series. Working on opening and plot now.

OOOH so close on RFTD 

Got some rewrites on Risen from the Dead to do as first run at editing from DeeAnna are are in my hands. Steve and I are close on the cover. Here it is. Comments are welcome. Steve & I are thinking of doing a PODcast. Comments about topics and length are welcome.

It has finally arrived


DeadSpace is OUT! I received confirmation my order has shipped. I am so excited to have this done. I will continue with the Tao of OPS.

Got my first round of edits from my editor. I'll ber going throught em. Christmas is still a possibility for the release of DeadSpace.

I am nearly done with the 2nd rewrites on Dead Space . Ready for beta readers then editor.

I watched a program on AI that went into the military uses. SOOOO of course Dead Space is changing again. Much more detail with AI. It is scary what the incorporation into the military will do. No matter what laws or agreements are made, I will come to pass. Reminds me of the movie Terminator. No, humans don't go to war with AI, as such, but it there.

I'm 200 pages into Dead Space and it keeps changing. Since my edit group finished with DeadWare I'm going to have to go over what I have written in Dead Space to edit before I read.  That will slow the page production count down. I'm having a lot of fun with this book. With AI as a major character, it's becoming interesting.

DeadWare: A brief Summation

Join the Newsletter Now! A FREE Ebook will be available mid-march- the ebook is about R.L. Claytons' years of self-publishing, from writing, publishing and marketing.

The Reviews are In for the Latest in the Dead Series

How it all Started: From Seaspecies to The Genesis, futuristic themes, dystopian futures becoming the Dead Series

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