Welcome to the blog of author Tricia Goyer!

Monday, December 31, 2007

Story of hope...

I'm excited because next week I'll be flying to Chicago to work with Kristen Anderson on a book about her story of attempted suicide and the transformation that has taken place after she survived laying down in front of a train. I've talked with Kristen many times over the past few months, and I'm excited to finally meet her in person.

Last week, Kristen's story was aired on Oprah again. You can read the highlights of that here:
http://www2.oprah.com/tows/slide/200610/20061004/slide_20061004_284_106.jhtml?promocode=HP13

Please pray for me that I'll have a safe trip, that we'll have quality time together, and that everything we need to tell the story effectively will come together. Also, pray that we'll connect with the perfect publisher so that this story will reach the many, many people who need to hear this story of hope!

Friday, December 28, 2007

Assignments...

Recently, I wrote a blog about "What if she'd said NO" concerning God's assignment for Mary, which was birthing and raising the Son of God.

You can read that here: http://triciagoyer.blogspot.com/2007/12/what-if-shed-said-no.html

One of the people who commented on my blog asked, "If Jesus does have an assignment for each of us and we are truly willing, what should we do when the door never opens to make the assignment a reality in our lives?"

First, I have to thank this person for bringing this up ... because it's something we ALL wonder about. Second, I think we need to ask a few questions to answer these questions, such as:

1. How do we know God's assignments?
and
2. Are God's assignments always fulfilled?

Of course, the answers aren't easy. There are times (like with Abraham) that God's assignment took a really, really, really long time to come to pass. Yet, looking back we can see that it happened. It became a reality in Abraham's life, even though it wasn't on Abraham's time table. (Abraham's story is told in Genesis 12:1-25:18.)

Then there are those things we THINK are God's assignments. For example, consider Saul (later to become Paul). He was out to destroy this "Christian" sect that believed in a guy named Jesus and was threatening all Saul held dear--the law and the temple and the promised Messiah. Saul was zealous, but for the wrong things. It took a bright light and a personal encounter with Jesus to get Saul/Paul on the right path. (Paul's story is told in Acts 7:58-28:31 and throughout his New Testament letters.)

These are two possibilities for willing followers of God:
1. God's assignment will happen, but it may take longer than we think.
2. God's assignment will happen, but it may be different than what we first thought.

I also want to add something that I learned from the book, "Experiencing God" by Henry Blackaby, which is: God often doesn't give us one big assignment for our lives, but rather He gives us smaller assignments that will benefit His kingdom for His purposes. Because of this, we must daily seek God to see where we're supposed to be and when we're supposed to be there. God doesn't give us a task and then sends us off to be on our merry way. Instead, He speaks to our hearts daily. He calls us TO things. He calls us AWAY from things. And looking back, we see His assignments are fulfilled but often in ways we never dreamed of or planned.

So how does this work in real people's lives today? Here is an example from my life:

In 1998, just when I felt my writing was "taking off," God made it clear I was supposed to launch a Crisis Pregnancy Center in our town. The center started with three of us and quickly grew as we saw God work in miraculous ways. For a while I was the director, a board member, and the coordinator for the teen mother support groups. (Which led to being the NW coordinator for MOPS--Mothers of Preschoolers.) Then, God brought people in. First a director, then lots of volunteers, then a coordinator for the support groups. And as He did, I felt free to step back from my responsibilities for the center and my position at MOPS (even though I LOVE that organization). It was then my writing really did take off ... in ways I couldn't have imagined.

About two years ago, I was still on the board and frustrated. I had started this thing and there were a whole bunch of people with different ideas for where the center should go! :-) They weren't wrong ideas, just different. I went away for a few days to pray and seek God for both my writing and other ventures. I felt a complete release from God, and I resigned from the board. It was a step of obedience ... just as starting the center had been a step of obedience. Then the writing really, really took off.

In the end, I think we don't need to wonder if God's assignment are ever going to come true. Instead, we need to make emancipating decisions that free us to explore God's assignments.

Emancipation can mean two things ... 1. to be free from oppression/servitude or 2. to make ones own way in the world. In my cause the latter became the former. My desire to 'make my own way' was what oppressed me. And once I stopped trying to figure out "my own way" and followed God's, then I found true freedom.

Emancipation to me means tuning into God and listening up. Sometimes it means adding something (even though it makes no sense). Sometimes it means letting go of something (even though I really don't want to). It's also understanding there are seasons, and just because God calls me TO something today, doesn't mean it's forever. And just because God calls me AWAY from something doesn't mean it won't come around again.

Currently, I still mentor young moms, but on a more personal level. The board has asked me to sign on again, and I'm praying about that. And as the seasons in my writing world are shifting, I'm paying attention to where God is leading, because that is where true freedom is found.

All that to say ...

God does have assignments for us, and I think both Abraham and Paul would tell us that sometimes they are far different than we think. But if we are willing to follow God's assignments, and if we are watching and obedient on a daily basis, I have no doubt that their fulfillment will become a reality in our lives.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Character Arch...

A new year is almost here. I'd like each of us to take a deep breath and think back ... if YOU were a character in a novel, how would you sum up your character arch for the year?

Character development is one of the challenges of writing novels. We need to keep the plot moving, and the conflicts peaking, but it's also important for the characters to grow and change (for the better) throughout the story. They need to be different people than when the story started.

The more writers work on a project, the better we understand the characters. After I finish a book, I often have to go back to fix some of the scenes at the beginning of the story. Mostly, because I know my character better, and because I realize that I have her doing/saying things that she would never say/do. Of course, real life is not that way. We cannot go back an "edit" the early scenes. Yet we can note how we have grown and changed for the better.

So, tell me. How did you change and grow during 2007? What was your character arch?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The 12 Authors of Christmas -- Mindy Clark


Meet Mindy!

Mindy Starns Clark is the author of The Million Dollar Mysteries series, The Smart Chick Mystery series, and the nonfiction how-to guide The House That Cleans Itself. Her latest novel, a standalone mystery set in Louisiana called Whispers of the Bayou, will be released in January. A singer and speaker (and former stand-up comedian), Mindy lives near Valley Forge, PA, with her husband, two daughters, and two shih tzus. Check out Mindy's website at www.mindystarnsclark.com.

Tell us about your first Christmas memory?

I can remember getting a cowgirl outfit complete with pistols and holsters when I was about five. Perhaps the joy I took in those guns was a foreshadowing of my career as a mystery writer!
Growing up, did your family have Christmas traditions? Tell us how you incorporated them into your family life. Or, how you created new ones.

My grandmother was an excellent seamstress, and every Christmas she would give me a beautiful handmade Christmas nightgown (and pajamas for my brothers). This was the only gift we were allowed to open on Christmas eve, and as such it always took on special significance; Christmas was official once we were wearing the new jammies! Though I'm not much of a sewer, I did always try to put my kids to bed in something new—or at least something cute--on Christmas eve, so that they would look their best in the Christmas morning photos.

We also love the family get-togethers that surround the holiday. They're so much fun! With my husband's side of the family, we buy gifts for the children only—and every adult brings their favorite CD, wrapped without a tag. After the kids have had their present-opening time, the adults sit around and have a blast doing a round-robin CD exchange.

The Christmas Eve service at our church is the spiritual highlight of our holiday, especially when it ends by candlelight, singing Silent Night.

When do you put up your tree?

Growing up in the South, I was always taught that the tree goes up the Saturday after Thanksgiving and comes down on New Year's Day. My husband, however, would like to see it go up much closer to Christmas—and stay up at least a week or two into the New Year! Taking all of that into consideration, we tend to compromise somewhere in the middle.

Some years, our decorating is quite elaborate, though the older I get, the less I seem to do. (I have a feeling that once the kids have grown up and moved out, I'll scale it all way down and maybe just put up a small tree and maybe the lighted village.) I'm trying to go easy on myself these days and not always have everything so elaborate or so perfect. There are more important ways to spend my time than obsessing over the wreaths on every window!


What is your favorite Christmas song or album?

To sing at church or with a choir, it's Angels We Have Heard on High.

For pure listening pleasure, I love Handel's Messiah. I always put it on as I decorate, so I can belt out the alto line as I work! I love almost every recording of the Messiah I've ever heard, even a hip hop version my brother once found for me.

I usually sing a Christmas solo, such as "Bethlehem Morning" or "Breath of Heaven." My daughters have beautiful voices but would rather die than sing a duet with mom—though a few years ago I finally convinced my youngest to perform with me at a distant church where no one knew her. Our duet on "Mary, Did You Know?" was thrilling for me. (Though when it was over, she said, "I did it because you wanted it so bad, mom, but don't ever ask me again." Sigh.)

I also recently discovered the beautiful "Perfect Love (Mary's Song)" by Darlene Zschech, though I have yet to perform it.

Relive your childhood Christmas mornings for us.

My mom would be up most of the night getting things ready, so we always had a "minimum time" we were allowed to get up. Of course, I would usually pop awake an hour or so prior to that—then I'd have to endure the sheer torment of watching the clock and waiting.

Once it was time, my brothers and I would wake up our parents and then wait in the back of the house while they went out front to wake our visiting grandparents, make coffee, and get the movie camera ready. Once they yelled the "all clear", we would open the door to the den and step inside to see the vast array of gifts that Santa had left for us.

As we got older, that morning became less about the toys and gifts and more about the family just being there together, relaxing and laughing and enjoying the sweetness of the day. My grandparents were such special people, and the memory of their presence still lingers over every Christmas. It doesn't take much to picture Grandpa carefully opening each of his gifts with his pocket knife, or hearing my grandmother exclaim (as she did each year), "Well, I do believe this was just the best Christmas ever!"

Seems to me snow and Christmas go together, and in Montana that's almost a given! Tell us about your Christmas setting?

Growing up in Louisiana, there was little chance of snow, but we always hoped for a cold snap! I was devastated whenever it turned out to be a hot Christmas.

Now that I live in Pennsylvania, however, I'd give anything for some of that warm weather. I'm not big on cold or snow, and a late-December break from the chill would be a Christmas dream come true.

It’s Christmas Eve… Describe your day and evening.

Running late despite all of my best intentions. Running late on gift buying, wrapping, decorating, planning for guests or travel, etc. Acting like a chicken without a head, scratching things off my list as I get them done, finally calling a halt to all of it around 6 pm—ready or not. Go home, get cleaned up, head to church for the Christmas eve service. Deep breath. Regroup.

Come home afterwards with priorities straightened out, family in a good mood, and the peace of our Savior in our hearts.

Eat a take-out dinner and relax a bit, then shoo the kids off to bed and spend a few hours alongside my husband, wrapping and setting things out in preparation for the morning.

Crawl into bed around midnight, thankful for my blessings—ever-mindful of the whole point, the birth of Jesus!

Confession time. Shop on line or at the mall?

On line!!! I live near the largest mall on the Eastern seaboard, and I will avoid it at all costs. Ugh. I hate shopping—except for toys. I dearly love to buy toys. Maybe I have an arrested development.

Christmas grows more and more commercial every year. Setting the hustle and bustle aside, what does Christmas really mean to you?

It means setting the hustle and bustle aside…and focusing on the reason behind all of it. There's always a lot of "noise" inside my head—every item on my to-do list screams to be heard—but when Christmas eve finally rolls around, I'm able to quiet that noise and remember the point. Then with a big slap to the forehead, I'm wishing I had remembered earlier in the season so that I could have relaxed and enjoyed it all more.

As a child, it meant hanging our favorite ornaments on the tree, the arrival of our beloved grandparents from North Carolina, and the magic of a very generous Santa Clause who always seemed to know exactly what we wanted. It also meant lighting the advent candles every Sunday leading up to Christmas…and reading our way through Luke 2 a little further each week until the end.

It’s Christmas day… what’s for dinner? Do you make cookies or other traditional foods?

The menu varies year to year, though we'll usually have a ham or a pork roast—and never miss the sweet potato casserole. Most years, we split the cooking duties so that everyone takes responsibility for a dish or two. And we always end the meal with a birthday cake for Jesus, complete with the song and candles that we blow out for him.

Tell us about your favorite Christmas memory.

Every year, my mother would buy two special ornaments, one for me and one for my older brother, which commemorated something important that had happened that year. The year that I was nine, we were blessed to adopt a baby boy, my younger brother Joey. After his adoption hearing—the day he finally became ours for good—my parents stopped at a Christmas shop near the courthouse and bought all three of us ornaments that looked like little baby toys. I remember getting it that Christmas and thinking it was the most special ornament I could ever own.

When I got married, my mother gave me all 27 of my special ornaments, to start my own tree filled with memories. I treasure each and every one, but especially that little baby toy.

Any final thoughts on Christmas?

Just some advice for mothers and fathers that I learned the hard way: Remember that you set the tone for the holiday from the very first Christmas your children ever have. If you go overboard with the gifts and the massive decorations and the fuss, they'll grow up expecting that every time. As they get older, you'll find yourself wanting to scale back—spend less money, decorate less, enjoy it all more—but it's so hard to downsize if your celebrations set the bar too high too soon, and your kids end up feeling cheated!

If I could go back and do it all again, I take it all down to size by half—half as many gifts, half as much trouble—and make a point of scheduling more family activities and doing more for others at holiday time. Once our kids became teenagers, they actually began leading the way toward a simpler celebration. Last year our oldest daughter chose several charities and asked for donations in lieu of gifts. That was great fun, to turn our backs on the rampant commercialism of the season and do something more significant with our money. This year, she just wants Spanish Bibles to bring on a spring mission trip to give away to the children—and that's a gift that we're more than happy to give her!

Just remember that the toys eventually break, the decorations all have to come back down, and the big Christmas dinner is but a memory once it's been eaten. Better to focus on the reason for the season and the people God placed in your life to share it with. All of the rest is just fluff that sucks up your time and can easily get out of hand.

Simplify! These days, the harder the stores push us to spend, spend, spend, the easier it is turn our backs on that and have a real Christmas celebration—the kind Jesus would have wanted. So start when they're young by keeping it simple, and keep the focus where it belongs: on the baby that started it all.

Thanks Mindy! May you be "simplified" in the New Year!

Friday, December 21, 2007

The 12 Authors of Christmas -- Nancy Moser


Meet Nancy!

Nancy Moser is the author of three historical novels about real women-of-history: Mozart’s Sister, Just Jane—about Jane Austen, as well as Washington’s Lady about Martha Washington coming out in July 2008. She is also the author of over a dozen contemporary novels including the Christy award-winning, Time Lottery, the Mustard Seed Series, and The Good Nearby. Coming out in January 2008 is Solemnly Swear about the jury on a murder trial. Read excerpts at: http://www.nancymoser/. com

Tell us about your first Christmas memory?

1960. I was six years old and received a Barbie doll from my parents—one of the first ones in the black and white striped swimsuit, with the blond ponytail. The clothes were too expensive to buy, but my mother sewed many Barbie outfits for her, though I will say her wardrobe was heavy on the prom and wedding dresses. All my dolls had wedding dresses, whether they were baby dolls or fully grown. I carried on the tradition for my daughters’ dolls. The poor things may not have had pajamas or a play outfit, but they had a frilly prom dress! A couple years after receiving my first Barbie, Mattel had a trade-in program where any little girl could trade in her Barbie for one of the new bubble-haired Barbies. So I gave up my original Barbie. Hmm. I wonder if Mattel knew what they were doing?

Growing up, did your family have Christmas traditions? Tell us how you incorporated them into your family life. Or, how you created new ones.

We always celebrated on Christmas eve, with a dinner and the presents. Santa was not a big deal. I don’t remember ever getting more than an orange and/or my very own Scotch tape or crayons in my stocking. When I had my own family we continued many of these traditions, but added many more. Now, my grown kids are very into finding a certain ornament, or eating certain foods they remember from their childhood. One tradition I did not carry on (because I hated it) was having the kids put on a Christmas program for the adults.


As my siblings and I married, we started having our family Christmas with our own children on the 23rd, went to the Mosers on the 24th, and my family on the 25th. Three days of celebration!
When do you put up your tree? At my house, it goes up when my kids' begging is louder than my procrastination (around December 1). My husband works assembles my prelighted tree. I do the rest. Describe the decorating at your house.
Growing up, we always put the tree up on my birthday—December 2. But with our own kids we put it up the weekend after Thanksgiving. Before they grew up and moved away, we put on a Christmas CD (Mannheim Steamroller is a favorite.) My husband assembled the tree and I usually did the lights and the garland. The kids would put up the ornaments—many were hand-made sequined balls. I still love making those. Also, I bought three ornaments every year, one for each of our kids, and wrote their initial and the year on them. When they got married I gave them all their old ornaments. The rest of the Christmas decorations inside are mine to do (I have little charts to tell me where I put things last year) and my husband does the outside. We have a few decorations that I didn’t know were important to my kids until this year when they started to claim them “I want the Bumpkin cr├Ęche someday.” “I’d love to have the advent tree.” Sorry, I’m not done with them yet! But I’m looking for duplicates on Ebay.

What is your favorite Christmas song or album? I recently bough Unexpected Gift and I love it! They are old favorites sung in a new way. Includes "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" (Bethany Dillon); "Do You Hear What I Hear" (Nichole Nordeman); "O Little Town of Bethlehem" (Steven Curtis Chapman); and "Silent Night" (Sanctus Real).

Besides Mannheim Steamroller, I love the Time/Life traditional Christmas album because it has the oldies I remember, the songs with Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, and Perry Como.


Our church has a big Christmas cantata a few weeks before Christmas, complete with a small orchestra. I love singing in that, and usually sing all three services. I think it is very important for the next generations to learn the traditional carols/hymns.

Christmas morning, my parents brother and I would head over to my grandparents' house and open all our presents there. Or they'd come to our house ... so we didn't open them until we were up, dressed, showered and fed. Relive your childhood Christmas mornings for us.

As I said before, we opened presents on Christmas Eve. I have no memories of what we did Christmas Day! I do know that presents were not the big deal they became when my husband and I had our own kids. We received less, but plenty. I do remember saving up my money in order to buy my parents a gift. For some reason, I remember buying them some crackled glass salt and pepper shakers for $1.98. Odd what we remember…


At some point in our children’s upbringing, I remember being rather disgusted by all the gifts we gave them. We cut back after that. And started doing more of the Angel Tree type of giving.

Seems to me snow and Christmas go together, and in Montana that's almost a given! Tell us about your Christmas setting?

I grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska and now live in Kansas (though we go back to Nebraska for Christmas with both sides of the family.) I was always disappointed if there wasn’t snow. My childhood home had a nice hill in the back and the year I got a saucer sled was a favorite. I never remember being cold and used to play and play and play until I was soaked.

Confession time. Shop on line or at the mall?

Both, though I’m doing more online than I used to. Especially when a company has free shipping. I like being able to peruse at my own pace, in my jammies, and have it sent to my house.

I sure like the sales. When I was growing up (even into adulthood) there were NO sales before Christmas. My sisters and I would go shopping on the 26th to get half-price things. But now, you can get that before Christmas. That’s fine with me.

We give far fewer presents than we used to. After all my siblings were married, we used to draw names, and then our kids would draw names, but even that got ridiculous because none of us needed anything. So, instead of buying presents for each other we started to trade off adopting a family in one of our towns, buying presents for the children and the parents, and groceries. But eventually, we realized the logistics of that were daunting (as was the shipping) so we each started to adopt families in our own towns.

Now, as far as family gifts, we only give to our own children, and to our parents. I like that a lot.

Christmas grows more and more commercial every year. Setting the hustle and bustle aside, what does Christmas really mean to you?

Love. I know that sounds trite, but that’s the gist of it. God gave His Son to us because He loved us, and now we get together and celebrate with those we love. It’s all about tradition, warmth, hugs, music, and laughter. And cookies. Lots of cookies and kisses.

It’s Christmas day… what’s for dinner? Do you make cookies or other traditional foods?

There’s ham, mountains of mashed potatoes, corn, my mother’s rolls and butter, cranberry relish, Jell-o salad, lots of green olives, and pie—pumpkin or cherry or pecan. I also make my homemade Heath toffee. I like how everyone gets “known” for something. Our daughter in law Mallory brings peanut butter balls, my SIL Nikki makes “trash” (Chex mix) and hard fudge (don’t ask. It’s a Moser thing that makes no sense whatsoever. Hard as a rock fudge! Yuck.) For many years I changed the menu and made some fancy dessert for our dinner. But then the kids would whine about not having mashed potatoes, and no one ever had any room for dessert, so I went back to the staples. It sure makes menu planning simpler!

Tell us about your favorite Christmas memory.

Once in awhile I’ve thought of a special gift for someone that is just perfect. At those times, I am like a kid, almost sick with excitement wanting to see people open it. One recent gift was a set of DVDs for our grown children. I took all the old VHS tapes that we had taken of them growing up, and transferred them onto DVDs. On the face of the DVD I made a label with a photo from the year that the DVD represented (or the vacation.) Each child got a set. We had such fun watching them! Plus, it’s nice to have those tapes backed up like this. Another gift I had fun creating was a three-ring notebook with all the family recipes the kids loved from their childhood.

Memories…I’m a chronicler (I’ve kept a daily diary for 28 years) so any gift that celebrates memories is high on my list.

What are you plans for this season?

The kids’ Christmases are more complicated now, with them needing to be with their spouse’s families. We will have our own Christmas on the 23rd, as usual, here at our house, then my husband and I will travel up to Nebraska to be with our siblings and parents—without our kids! I know I will not like that one bit, but time marches on and traditions adapt, and change.

Any final thoughts on Christmas?

This year we celebrate the birth of our first two granddaughters so suddenly Christmas is more.

More important, more special, more poignant, more full of traditions—old and new. We look forward to see the season through their eyes . . . I am already creating precedent for new traditions as “Grandma”. For instance, I made each girl a needlepoint stocking for their home, and a special stocking for the mantel here. I also created a sequin ball with their name on it. And on the 17th, I had both girls overnight. I know since they’re only six months old, they don't know what’s going on, but I want to be able to tell them “You’ve always stayed overnight at Grandpa and Grandma’s house during the Christmas season. You’ve always come to “Grandkid night”…” Who knows? I sat both girls on the counter and made cookies—cookies they can’t eat yet!

All this said, I want to extend many blessings to all of you. I hope the old memories and the new ones created, are as special as the season.

Christ is born! Hallelujah.



Amen Nancy! Merry Christmas and thank you for sharing!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The 12 Authors of Christmas -- Rene Gutteridge

Meet Rene!

Rene Gutteridge is the author of thirteen novels with over 150,000 books in print. She is a full-time novelist and mom. She studied screenwriting under a mass communications degree and has also worked as a playwright. She lives in Oklahoma City with her husband and two children. Her next release, SKID, is due Spring 2008. Her latest release is Boo Humbug, available now. Visit her website at http://www.renegutteridge.com/.


Tell us about your first Christmas memory?

I remember coming down the long hallway of our home and through the living room into the den. It seemed like the entire den was filled with toys for my sister and me. It looked endless. I remember the Barbie Winnebago and pool. I believe it was that same Christmas that I accepted Christ as my savior on Christmas Eve. I think I was five. I totally understood all of this was about him. The beauty of the season reflected everything I believed about Him.

Growing up, did your family have Christmas traditions? Tell us how you incorporated them into your family life. Or, how you created new ones.

We always watched Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph and all those great cartoons. For some reason, the Wizard of Oz always played during that time, too. And the Sound of Music. As a parent now, we always attend the Christmas Eve service and then have my In-laws over for dinner. My husband writes a note to the kids from Santa and always puts Jesus in there to remind them what it's all about. We ALWAYS go get coffee and hot chocolate from Starbucks and drive around and look at Christmas lights a few days before Christmas, while listening to Christmas music.

When do you put up your tree? At my house, it goes up when my kids' begging is louder than my procrastination (around December 1). My husband works assembles my prelighted tree. I do the rest. Describe the decorating at your house.
It's up the day after Thanksgiving. I also put up my 100 piece Dickens Village collection, which I've spent a decade acquiring. That stays up through February because it takes so long to put it up and it's really cool! We have a big tree we all decorate together and then a slim tree that is mine to do themes on. That's only been in the last couple of years so I'm still trying to figure out what my theme is. I think I'm going to start collecting cross ornaments.

My husband always does the outside lights. Each year it's a different design with the exception being the cross, which he always hangs above our garage.

What is your favorite Christmas song or album?

O Holy Night. That makes me week in the knees, except when it's sung poorly. Then the hairs bristle :)

Christmas morning, my parents brother and I would head over to my grandparents' house and open all our presents there. Or they'd come to our house ... so we didn't open them until we were up, dressed, showered and fed. Relive your childhood Christmas mornings for us.

My parents were very frugal. We rarely got extras, but at Christmas, they went all out. My mom made gigantic stockings for us. I bet they were four feet tall or so. We had Santa gifts plus wrapped gifts from mom and dad. We'd open presents and then eat pumpkin bread. In our teen years, we'd try on all the outfits we got. Mom even bought extras so if there was something we didn't like, we could exchange right there on the spot!

Seems to me snow and Christmas go together, and in Montana that's almost a given! Tell us about your Christmas setting?

In Oklahoma, it can be snow, ice, rain or 90 degrees. We live in a very unpredictable climate. It's usually at least cold, but sometimes not even cold enough for a sweater. December is a big ice month, so we tend to get that more than snow, which makes travel hard.

It’s Christmas Eve… Describe your day and evening.

I'm usually preparing for the meal that evening. We'll bake cookies, drink hot chocolate and stay at home. Then we get dressed up for the Christmas Eve service. The kids get to stay in the service with us, so I let them bring a drawing pad and a pencil, but they love listening to our pastor, too, and my husband leads worship, so that's a thrill for them. Then my husband's parents come over and we have a nice non-Christmas type meal. I really go gourmet for them, and we have egg nog too. Then we spend two hours trying to get the kids to bed!!

Confession time. Shop on line or at the mall?

Both! Though these days we have things like Kohl's and free-standing JC Penneys, so I don't have to go to the mall as much. I do love ordering online, though.

Christmas grows more and more commercial every year. Setting the hustle and bustle aside, what does Christmas really mean to you?

A few years ago, I became very sick and chronically ill. I got out of the hospital two days before Christmas. It meant so much to be able to just enjoy everything. I don't take anything for granted anymore. It's a blessing to wrap presents, be well enough to go shopping, have enough energy to bake cookies. I feel a peace and warmth during the season, and I feel the wonder of Jesus in so many ways.

It’s Christmas day… what’s for dinner? Do you make cookies or other traditional foods?

Luckily, my mom still likes to do the Christmas meal, so we go over to their house for it. Often times it's an exact replica of our Thanksgiving meal but nobody minds because we all love turkey. But Mom has decided to try ham on occasion. Not our favorite but we can't complain since we're not cooking! We have tons of pumpkin pies and pecan pies. That's a must. With whip cream. Coffee comes all day.

Tell us about your favorite Christmas memory.

I think it's the night I accepted Jesus as my savior. I remember being tiny in my bed, wrapped in warm covers, staring at the ceiling like it was heaven and knowing God was there with me.

What are you plans for this season?

Lots of time with friends and family. I have a new nephew so that will add to the fun. Our church is doing a series called Christmas Uprising, talking about God's command to take care of the poor, so we're putting an extra emphasis on it this year and doing some additional things we haven't done before in terms of charity.

Any final thoughts on Christmas?

I pray for those whose Christmases aren't filled with warm memories. For some, Christmas is the worst time of the year. I pray that they would allow God to embrace them and give them a glimpse into what that Baby means for their lives.

Thanks Rene! Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Your Heartache, Your Story

The themes for my novels have a common thread. They center around ordinary people plopped into extraordinary situations (mostly centered around war), and with the guidance of God these people rise above ... and help and save others in the process.

Also, all my novels have some level of abandonment by a parent that leads to internal struggles. I never planned this, but looking back it's in all my books! Even my third (and final) novel in my Spanish Civil War series.

As I was writing book #3 a light clicked on and suddenly every element of the story came together as it was revealed to me that one of my main characters was abandoned by a parent ... and WHO he really is.

I didn't plan that in Book #1, but it seems as if I did. It makes the whole story work and takes the whole series to a deeper level than I anticipated.

Hmmm ... as someone who didn't meet my biological dad until my late 20s and who got pregnant and was abandoned by my boyfriend as a teen I WONDER why I keep writing about this issue?!

This reminds me about something I read this morning from the book Loving God by Chuck Colson:

>
One Easter morning, as I sat in the chapel at the Delaware State Prison waiting to preach, my mind drifted back in time ... to scholarships and honors earned, cases argued and won, great decisions made from lofty government offices. My life had been the perfect success story, the great American dream fulfilled.

But all at once I realized that it was not my success God had used to enable me to help those in this prison, or in hundreds others like it. My life of success was not what made this morning so glorious--all my achievements meant nothing in God's economy. No, the real legacy of my life was my biggest failure--that I was an ex-convict. My greatest humiliation--being sent to prison--was the beginning of God's greatest use of my life; he chose the one experience in which I could not glory for his glory.

Confronted with this staggering truth, I understood with a jolt that I had been looking at life backward. But now I could see: Only when I lost everything that I thought made Charles Colson a great guy had I found the true self God intended me to be and the true purpose of my life.

It is not what we do that matters, but what a sovereign God chooses to do through us.
>

Consider this in your own writing. Do your historical novels have elements of your greatest loss and humiliation? If not, my suggestion is that you prayerfully mine those areas, because it is there you can write with passion, pain and conviction. It is from those hurt places that you will touch the soul of a reader in ways you never expected.

Tricia Goyer
http://www.triciagoyer.com/

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The 12 Authors of Christmas -- Kim Sawyer


Meet Kim!

Kim Vogel Sawyer is a wife, mother, grandmother, author, speaker, singer of songs and lover of chocolate... but most importantly, she's a born-again child of the King! A professional teacher, Kim recently closed her classroom door to follow God's call on her heart to write and speak. Now blessed with multiple writing contracts with Bethany House and Barbour Publishing, Kim enjoys sharing her journey to publication as well as the miraculous story of her healing from a life-long burden of pain and shame. Kim's gentle yet forthright testimony lends credence to the promise of Ps. 117:2--"Great is his love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever."


Tell us about your first Christmas memory?

The Christmas right before my 8th birthday stands out in my mind because we were living in Mountain Lake, Minnesota. The snow that year was amazing! Drifts reached the peak of the roof at the back of our house, and my brother and I received a sled for Christmas. We would tug it clear onto the roof, then glide through our yard, over the neighbor's fence, and into their yard. That ride seemed to last forever. I asked for a pair of ice skates that year, too, because the city flooded the park across from our house in the wintertime, but I didn't get them. I spent the rest of the winter skidding over the ice in my boots (or on my bottom).

Growing up, did your family have Christmas traditions?

Every year we traveled to Hillsboro, Kansas, to spend part of Christmas day with my paternal grandfather and part of the day with my mom's sister and her family. That spoke a message to me that Christmas is a family day. It is still important to me to be together on Christmas even though my older girls are married and have children of their own. We gather at my parents' house for an early Christmas supper and packages. I can't think of anything better than sitting with my family around the tree and listening to Daddy tell the Christmas story. I never tire of hearing it.

A tradition that started when my oldest daughter was kindergarten age was for us to play "Christmas elf." We either take names from the Salvation Army tree and purchase presents, or adopt a family and make their Christmas a little brighter...anonymously, of course. I hope this instilled in my girls the joy of giving instead of getting caught up in the "gimme-gimme-gimme" mindset that can be so prevalent.

When do you put up your tree?

Traditionally, the tree goes up the day after Thanksgiving. This year, however, my husband is in Baghdad with the Air National Guard, and we will be celebrating Christmas late. To avoid leaving the tree up so long, my youngest daughter and I plan to put it up on Christmas Eve day. We cover our tree in my collection of Precious Moments ornaments, red and green glass balls, and snowmen as well as a handful of blown glass ornaments representing family memories. There is always a Precious Moments angel on top, smiling down at us.

What is your favorite Christmas song or album?

I have the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas CD, and I love listening to it. I also have several instrumental CDs of Christmas hymns. I enjoy singing along with those.

Christmas morning, my parents brother and I would head over to my grandparents' house and open all our presents there. Or they'd come to our house ... so we didn't open them until we were up, dressed, showered and fed. Relive your childhood Christmas mornings for us.

I have vivid memories of sneaking down the hallway to my brother's room and waking him long before the sun was ready to shine. Then, giggling and shushing each other, we would creep to the living room, hoping to have a few moments to snoop under the tree before Mom and Daddy heard us and awakened. Even now, I tend to wake long before everyone else. I get the coffee started, then sit beside the tree and wait for my family to join me. I'm still an inveterate snoop, so they never leave me alone for long. :o)

Seems to me snow and Christmas go together, and in Montana that's almost a given! Tell us about your Christmas setting?

Kansas is incredibly unpredictable. My favorite Christmases are white, but there's never a guarantee. We've had some Christmas days when all you needed was a light jacket to go outside! I'm crossing my fingers and hoping for snow this year.

It’s Christmas Eve… Describe your day and evening.

We usually attend the Christmas Eve service at our church. Supper is light--soup and sandwiches. A quiet, relaxed evening is my preference, getting a fire going in the fireplace and curling up on the couch to watch old videos like Miracle on 34th Street (the original version) or The Sound of Music. I always have my shopping done well ahead of time, so there's no last minute rush to wrap things--it's just a nice, peaceful time of togetherness.

Confession time. Shop on line or at the mall?

Neither, for the most part. :o) I gather things over the course of the year while I'm traveling, and I also like to make gifts. Hubby has a woodworking shop, and he's crafted everything from quilt racks to a China hutch. When the girls were little, I made each of them a handcrafted doll every Christmas; now I'm more inclined to quilt a wall-hanging or frame a calligraphy project.

Christmas grows more and more commercial every year. Setting the hustle and bustle aside, what does Christmas really mean to you?


Giving is the first word that pops into mind. God gave us such an incredible gift when He sent Jesus to be our Savior. He gave us freedom from sin, His holy presence, and eternity with Him! I love to find the perfect gift for my friends and family; it's my way of remembering how God gave His very best to us.

It’s Christmas day… what’s for dinner? Do you make cookies or other traditional foods?

At our house, Thanksgiving means turkey, Easter means ham, and Christmas means German sausage! Mom makes her unbeatable shredded fried potatoes, my sister-in-law Bev provides a scrumptious strawberry salad (recipe in the Newsletter at my website), and I bring the...ta-da!...green bean casserole. lol Homemade bread, tons of relishes (including Mom's home-canned pickled beets), and enough desserts to carry us through to New Year bury the table. Mom is the traditional baker, and we all love her peppernuts (a nickel-sized, pecan-laden cookie). The girls and I bake nutbreads to give to the neighbors, and when they were younger we always made a gingerbread house. (I need to start that up again now with my grandsons!)

Tell us about your favorite Christmas memory.

I have to say my most recent favorite Christmas memory was Christmas 2005. Many years ago, my dad wrote a children's story based on his childhood on the farm during the depression. I sneaked off with it, had one of his former students design a cover, then turned everything over to a P.O.D. company. On Christmas day, Daddy opened a box containing a dozen copies of Jimmy of Cottonwood Valley. I will never forget the look on his face.

What are you plans for this season? Admittedly, Christmas day will seem strange this year with Don gone. All of my girls and I will be with my parents, my brother, and my brother's family on Christmas day, but our "Sawyer" family get-together is on hold until Don's return.

This Christmas will be especially sweet when we're all together again. :o)

God bless~Kim SawyerBestselling, award-winning author sharing gentle stories of hope…http://www.kimvogelsawyer.com/http://www.shoutlife.com/kimvogelsawyer

AVAILABLE NOW: Montana Mistletoe; Beginnings, Book 2 of the Sommerfeld Trilogy


Merry Christmas Kim, thanks for sharing with us.

Monday, December 17, 2007

The 12 Authors of Christmas -- Tamara Leigh


Meet Tamara!

After Tamara Leigh earned a Master’s Degree in Speech and Language Pathology, she and her husband decided to start a family, with plans for Tamara to continue in her career once she became a mother.

When the blessing of children proved elusive, Tamara became convicted to find a way to work out of her home in order to raise the children she and her husband longed to have. She turned to writing, at which she had only ever dreamed of being successful, and began attending church. Shortly thereafter, her agent called with news of Bantam Books’ offer of a four-book contract. That same day, Tamara’s pregnancy was confirmed. Within the next year, she gave up her speech pathology career, committed her life to Christ, her first child was born, and her first historical romance novel was released.

As Tamara continued to write for the secular market, publishing three more novels with HarperCollins and Dorchester, she infused her growing Christian beliefs into her writing. But it was not enough, and though her novels earned awards and were national bestsellers, she knew her stories were lacking. After struggling with the certainty that her writing was not honoring God as it should, she made the decision to write books that not only reveal Christianity to non-believers, but serve as an inspiration for those who have accepted Christ as their Savior. Her inspirational romances are peopled with characters in varying stages of Christian faith, from mature believers to new believers to non-believers on the threshold of awakening.

Tamara Leigh enjoys time with her family, volunteer work, faux painting, and reading. She lives near Nashville, Tennessee with her husband, David, and two sons, Skyler and Maxen.


Tell us about your first Christmas memory?

Goodness, this is going to sound like a sob story, but it isn't. It's just...different. When I was growing up, our family attended a church that didn't allow for the celebration of Christmas, Easter, or birthdays--due, in part, to the commercialization. Thus, my earliest Christmas memories are of peering through a window as the other kids on our block burst from their homes with new bikes, rollerskates, balls, etc. Though my father said we were Christians, Christmas day was hardly different from the next. When I was a teenager, my mother rebelled a bit and made a beautiful white macrame tree that she hung from the ceiling. She wove lights through it and that was the first Christmas we celebrated in our home, complete with a few gifts. Unfortunately, I don't think it had much to do with Jesus.

Growing up, did your family have Christmas traditions? Tell us how you incorporated them into your family life. Or, how you created new ones.

Obviously no Christmas traditions to carry on, but we have created our own. On Christmas Day, we go easy, especially now that are boys are older (no more wild, pajama-flying sprints to the gifts beneath the tree). Before we open our gifts, we each write down what we are giving to Jesus for Christmas (i.e. reading the Bible more, practicing patience, NOT bugging our little brother). We share these with each other, then place them in little boxes that we keep on our mantle as a reminder throughout the upcoming year.

Then there are the gifts that we give to one another... We do this one at a time and each gift is passed around so that everyone can see and enjoy it. After we have opened a couple of presents each, we break so that the presents can be enjoyed rather than balanced on a teetering pile.

When we come back together to open more presents, there are fingerfoods and hot drinks. This can last for hours and it's more enjoyable than plowing through presents, at the end of which time no one knows what gifts the others received.

When do you put up your tree? At my house, it goes up when my kids' begging is louder than my procrastination (around December 1). My husband works assembles my prelighted tree. I do the rest. Describe the decorating at your house.
The later the better. Otherwise, the newness and beauty seem to wear off and it ceases to dazzle :) Usually the tree is up one to two weeks after Thanksgiving. A real one--wahoo! Well, not quite real. But once the tree is unboxed and each limb affixed, it does look like a real evergreen. While we put up the tree, we watch a Christmas movie, one of my favorites being "It's a Wonderful Life." Fingerfoods abound, as do hundreds of tiny tissues as the ornaments are unwrapped.

What is your favorite Christmas song or album? I recently bough Unexpected Gifts and I love it! They are old favorites sung in a new way. Includes "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" (Bethany Dillon); "Do You Hear What I Hear" (Nichole Nordeman); "O Little Town of Bethlehem" (Steven Curtis Chapman); and "Silent Night" (Sanctus Real).

The Christmas collections of Mannheim Steamroller are always uplifting.

Seems to me snow and Christmas go together, and in Montana that's almost a given! Tell us about your Christmas setting?

When we lived in the foothills of Lake Tahoe, we often had snow, even if only a little. Now that we live in Tennessee, snow is a rarity and when it does fall, it's usually light. And very icy! Some Christmases are briskly cold with frost on the sleeping grass. Others are warm enough to go outside to throw a ball around.

It’s Christmas Eve… Describe your day and evening.

Christmas Eve consists of last minute present wrapping and pre-baking of our Christmas day meal. Later, we attend a Christmas mass at our church. When we return home, we usually stay up late playing Christmas music and watching a movie like "Polar Express."

Confession time. Shop on line or at the mall?

More and more ON LINE! I do not like crowded malls.

Christmas grows more and more commercial every year. Setting the hustle and bustle aside, what does Christmas really mean to you?

The older I get, the more Christmas means "Jesus"--as it should, though at times I get so busy with something approaching a production (to make up for those lost Christmases, I suppose), that the decorations and food and presents are uppermost in my mind. And for this reason, our family strives to "simplify" with less emphasis on the presents and more emphasis on our blessings and the One who makes them possible.

It’s Christmas day… what’s for dinner? Do you make cookies or other traditional foods?

Ham! I simply cannot make a turkey without drying the poor thing out (honestly, with as much jaw action that goes on, one would think we had peanut butter in our mouths). Then there's sweet potatoes, green apple and cranberry stuffing, yeast rolls, pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce... Pretty much a repeat of Thanksgiving, but it's what we like.

Tell us about your favorite Christmas memory.

Though chaos reigned, one of my favorite Christmas memories is of the last time I was with my entire family for Christmas. My oldest son was 5 and his brother was toddling. It was a mess flying from the east to the west coast with two young children, but once we were all squished into my sister's house--relatives abounding--it was wonderful. Yes, the wrapping paper went flying. Yes, it was noisy. Yes, it was exhausting. But it was blessed to be in the midst of so much love.

What are your plans for this season?

Unless my husband has something in the works that he hasn't let me in on, we'll be staying put and enjoying being home with each other--well, that's the idea :) As for shopping that can't be done online, that gets done during the off hours when the boys are in school.

Any final thoughts on Christmas?

I am so grateful that I finally know and can celebrate the true meaning of Christmas. As commercial as we've allowed it to become, the easiest way to enjoy it is to simply close your eyes and thank God for sending his son to die for us.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Merry Christmas to you too, Tamara!

Friday, December 14, 2007

The 12 Authors of Christmas -- Rachel Hauck


Meet Rachel!

I've always wanted to be a writer. My dad used to tell me, "You're a writer." I have letters he wrote me post college, exhorting me to write. In this, I believe he had the heart of God.
In '93, I started an epic WW2 novel with two plots. It was well rejected. After that ordeal, I took a break and put efforts into my job as a software project manager. But, I missed writing and in late ' 99, I took up the craft again.

With a little help from my friends, my first book was published in ' 04, Lambert's Pride, a romance novel. I love writing chick lit and romance. I love writing. What an honor. My current release is Diva NashVegas, May 2007 from Thomas Nelson. To learn more about Rachel visit her website and blog!


Tell us about your first Christmas memory?

I have memories before this one, but it's the most vivid. We'd gone to my grandparent's house in Columbus, Ohio and it was Christmas Eve. My older brother and I slept upstairs in my grandparent's room. It was late, but I was awake, freaked out, because I imagined hearing Santa's reindeer on the roof top!

My mom and grandma slipped into the room to see if we were asleep, and I think I must have asked if Santa had come. Cause I was sure I'd heard him.

Growing up, did your family have Christmas traditions? Tell us how you incorporated them into your family life. Or, how you created new ones.


My dad always wanted to wait until close to Christmas to put up the tree. I'd beg and beg to get one right away. Dad and my older brother would string colored lights, the kind that screwed into the light string, then mom and I with the rest of the kids would hang the ornaments.

We didn't have a lot of traditions other than being with family and eating a great dinner. My grandma and mom makes the best rolls.

There was always a lot of love, joy and laughter at Christmas time and those traditions are as much a part of me as the color of my eyes. Tony and I carry on those qualities each Christmas season.

When do you put up your tree?

When I became a teenager, I bought my own iddy-bitty Christmas tree and I put it up in my room Thanksgiving day. It was fun. Now, as an adult, I do the same. Tree goes up right after Thanksgiving. Or when my kids' begging is louder than my procrastination (around December 1). My husband assembles my prelighted tree. I do the rest.


What is your favorite Christmas song or album? I recently bought Unexpected Gifts and I love it! They are old favorites sung in a new way. It includes "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" (Bethany Dillon); "Do You Hear What I Hear" (Nichole Nordeman); "O Little Town of Bethlehem" (Steven Curtis Chapman); and "Silent Night" (Sanctus Real).


Growing up we listened to Johnny Mathis, Ray Coniff singers, and Andy William Christmas albums. We had one instrumental recording for the Philadelphia Orchestra. The vinyl disc was red. The kids always liked that one. Now, I have a few added favorites. Amy Grant's Christmas albums, Bryan Duncan, Martina McBride, and a collection of old favorites sung by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole and Mel Torme.

I also had a Wayne Newton album, "Merry Christmas To You." My sister and I searched for it, but it's hard to find. I finally bought a CD, probably copied from the album, off of eBay this year.

Christmas morning, my parents, brother and I would head over to my grandparents' house and open all our presents there. Or they'd come to our house ... so we didn't open them until we were up, dressed, showered and fed. Relive your childhood Christmas mornings for us.

We couldn't go out to the tree until my parents plugged in the lights. We'd wake up early, around five a.m.and bang on the floor to wake them. Then, we'd sit on the stairs waiting for their call. The anticipation of it all is half the excitement of Christmas.


Seems to me snow and Christmas go together, and in Montana that's almost a given! Tell us about your Christmas setting?

While I was born in Ohio, I've lived most of my life in the south. I'm a Florida girl. My first sunny Christmas with 80 degree temperatures was a shocker.

It didn't feel like Christmas, but now, sunshine and balmy breezes on a blue Christmas morning is the perfect Christmas day to me.

It's Christmas Eve. Describe your day and evening.

Growing up, Christmas Eve was thick with excitement. Grandparents visiting, or the family visiting them. We'd go to church, then come home to wait for the big day. There was always a lot of excitement and laughter. We'd play games or sit around talking.

Now, if my husband and I aren't visiting family, we attend Christmas Eve service at church. He's one of three staff pastors, and I'm the worship leader, so we are working. But, it's a fun kind of work.

After service, we might visit friends or come home to our own traditions like egg nog and watching a Christmas movie like It's A Wonderful Life or White Christmas.
Since we don't have children, we lose some of the laughter and joy, but we take advantage of sleeping in Christmas morning and leisurely open gifts.

Confession time. Shop on line or at the mall?

Both! Who doesn't? Mostly online, though.

Christmas grows more and more commercial every year. Setting the hustle and bustle aside, what does Christmas really mean to you?

It is about celebrating Jesus. While I strive to do that all year, it is one thing I keep near to my heart at the Christmas season. But it's also about remembering peace, remembering those we love.

Christmas is a great time to lay down offenses and love one another. Jesus came to demonstrate love. What a great birthday present to Him if we reach out to someone in love.

It's Christmas day. what's for dinner? Do you make cookies or other traditional foods?

Since it's just my husband and I, cooking is not a priority for me. But Christmas day, I love to make a meal, even if it's just the two of us. I make turkey and potatoes, and carry on the tradition of home made rolls.

I do make cookies, too. I love peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. But this year, I asked mom for her Christmas cookie recipe and think I'll take a stab at making those!

Tell us about your favorite Christmas memory.

One Christmas Eve when we lived in Lexington, KY, we were waiting for my grandparents to arrive from Columbus. It must have been a balmy season, cause the windows were open and my siblings and I were running around, laughing and playing.

Somehow, I talked my dad into playing a girl's hand game with me. He'd mess up half way through, laugh and tell me, "I can't do this."

We laughed a lot. And I remember the freezer was full of frozen mini Snickers bars! My Dad loved those frozen treats. In fact, that is another small tradition I continue to this day.

Another memory was in the '90s. The family had gathered at my home and during the Christmas Eve service, the pastor gave an invitation to accept Jesus as our Savior. He asked people who were not save and wanted to be, to stand and say, "I embrace the Cross."

The presence of God was so strong. People were popping up all over the candle lit sanctuary. My heart pounded knowing the Holy Spirit was moving over my sister-in-law.

Finally, she stood. "I embrace the Cross." Even now, it brings tears to my eyes. It was an amazing night.

What are you plans for this season?

We try to spend one holiday with family and one at home. We were gone for Thanksgiving, so will be home for Christmas.

One of our "daughters" from youth church days in on her way to Israel with her husband and children. But, they are in town until January, so I think we're going to have dinner with them, and her Dad and his wife.

I'm looking forward to it.
And, I'm on a deadline, so I'll be writing. :)

Any final thoughts on Christmas?

Just blessings to everyone. Remember, Jesus is the Prince of Peace. If you need peace or hope, run to Jesus.

Thanks to all the readers and fans of fiction out there, too. I really appreciate you, as does Tricia and all the writer's we know!

Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

You too, thanks Rachel!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Give Great Books!

Finish your holiday shopping in minutes!

I'm offering any of my books signed, gift wrapped, and shipped for $15 each (parcel post) or $18 each (priority)! You can pay via paypal (amy@triciagoyer.com) or check!

The books will be mailed the day after your order. (Disclaimer: I will not guarantee holiday delivery on parcel post orders placed after December 18th. Or priority orders placed after December 20st.)

Meet your favorite authors!

Hi there!

Like lovable Tigger I pounced on Rachel's excellent idea and asked if I could take the overflow. So ... she had The Twelve Authors of Christmas! (Running the first 1/2 of the month, see links below), and I have it the second 1/2 (see schedule at the bottom).

The 12 Authors of Christmas - Linda Hall
The 12 Authors of Christmas - Marlo Schalesky
The 12 Authors of Christmas - Donita Paul
The ninth 12th Author of Christmas - Jill Nelson
Continuing The 12 Authors of Christmas with DiAnn ...
The 12 Autors of Christmas, Terri Blackstock!
The 6th Author on a 12ish Author Tour - Kristen He...
The 12 Authors of Christmas Tour Welcomes Gayle Ro...
The 12 Authors of Christmas welcomes Deborah Raney...
The 12 Authors of Christmas Tour Continues with Ja...
The 12 Authors of Christmas - Kathryn Mackel


December 13 -- Linda Ford
December 14 -- Rachel Hauck
December 15 -- Camy Tang
December 16 -- Bonnie Leon
December 17 -- Tamara Leigh
December 18 -- Kim Sawyer
December 19 -- Roxanne Henke
December 20 -- Rene Gutteridge
December 21 -- Nancy Moser
December 22 -- Susan Meissner
December 23 -- Karen B
December 24 -- Neta
December 25 -- Maureen Lang
*Bonus* Mindy Clark

What a privilege to host these wonderful ladies! Fun!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A classic...

A classic is classic not because it conforms to certain structural rules, or fits certain definitions (of which its author had quite probably never heard). It is classic because of a certain eternal and irrepressible freshness.

~~Edith Wharton

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Time Management 101: Life



I always get TONS of requests on info on how I do everything, so ... in November (and now into December) on Tuesdays and Thursdays I'm going to have Time Management 101 with tips for balancing family, hubby, life, job, friends, house, etc.


Life


1. I shop BIG and make sure I have full cupboard to choose from when I cook. Some weeks I plan a menu … but most of the time I try to think a few days ahead. I schedule in to start making dinner at 5:00 p.m.


2. I daily sort mail and clean off my desk. I weekly try to catch up on emails. I bi-weekly pay bills.


3. I don’t usually answer the phone during the day. I’ll let people leave messages, and then I’ll return them later.


4. I don’t get sucked into email. I schedule that like everything else.


5. I often answer email when we’re hanging out and watch family movies. My family is amazed I’m able to follow the story and go through messages. (Of course, if it’s a movie I’m really interested in, the computer gets put away.)
6. I schedule in “learning time” which is reading a writing book or even doing an on-line class. This month I did one with Margie Lawson called Deep Editing that I’d highly recommend.

7. As if you couldn’t tell, I’m extremely time-conscious. Wasting time is a pet peeve of mine. I continually think of saving time throughout the day. For example, if I need to heat up my coffee and put water in the dog dish, I’ll think, “I can put the coffee in the microwave and then give the dog water while it heats.” I’m that anal about it!

8. I give my full attention to the thing I’m working on. We have guests over once a week or. When I’m entertaining, I’m there. When I’m writing, I’m there. When I’m talking with one of my kids, I’m there. No guilt. No worries. No regrets.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Skip...

I try to leave out the parts that people skip.

~Elmore Leonard

Friday, December 7, 2007

If only it was that easy...

I think I did pretty well, considering I started out with nothing but a bunch of blank paper.

~~Steve Martin

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Thursday's Tip...by Barbara Warren

This bit of advice was taken from Barbara's November newsletter: WRITING TIP OF THE MONTH --WATCH YOUR CHARACTERS:

Don't let your character's be windbags. You shouldn't lecture your reader, and neither should your character. And don't let them drone on for long paragraphs blowing and going and boring your readers to tears. And vary your sentence lengths. Make some short, some middle length and some longer. Keep your character on a short rein. When he starts to talk too much, haul him in.

Don't forget to let your characters think. Don't let them turn into mental giants, just a sitting and a thinking, but do break up long stretches of dialogue with a few thoughts. Let your reader get inside your character's mind. We learn what king of person they are by what they think. Sometimes what we say and what we think are two different things. So get inside their head and show what they are thinking.

Don't let your characters preach a sermon. I have just finished reading a book where almost every page reminded the reader that the character was a Christian. And let me tell you, I've been a Christian since I was thirteen, which was a long time ago. And even I got bored by the constant barrage of piety. I like listening to a good sermon. I've listened to a lot of them, but remember when we write fiction we write to entertain. Being lectured or preached to is not entertaining. And characters who are so holy and pious they would never dream of doing anything wrong are not only unbelievable, they are extremely boring. Let your characters live their faith, show it through their actions, but don't whack the reader over the head with your religious beliefs. You'll never reach them that way.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Sometimes this is true...

'Writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.'

~~E. L. Doctorow

Monday, December 3, 2007

Christian Writer's Market Blog

Hi friends...

I just received an announcement about Sally Stuart's (author of the Christian Writer's Market Guide) new Marketing blog for Christian writers!

The blog focusses on the latest marketing information for Christian writers. Check it out and let Sally know what you think.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Better...


Deliver me from writers who say the way they live doesn't matter. I'm not sure a bad person can write a good book, If art doesn't make us better, then what on earth is it for.

~~Alice Walker

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Thursday's Tip...Writing the perfect scene by Randy Ingermanson

Writing the Perfect Scene

Having trouble making the scenes in your novel work their magic? In this article, I'll show you how to write the "perfect" scene.


Maybe you think it's impossible to write the perfect scene. After all, who can choose every word perfectly, every thought, every sentence, every paragraph? What does perfection mean, anyway?


Honestly, I don't know. Perfection is in the eye of the beholder. Style is a matter of taste.
But structure is pretty well understood. Maybe you can't write the perfectly styled scene. But you can write the perfectly structured scene. And that's a whale of a lot better than writing a badly structured scene.

A scene has two levels of structure, and only two. They are:
The large-scale structure of the scene
The small-scale structure of the scene

Read the rest here!

Also, check out Randy's blog for interviews with Jeff Gerke who is launching his own Publishing House! Cool.

Also, stay tuned...I'm being interviewed by Randy in a few weeks.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Manufacturing art

Writing ought either to be the manufacture of stories for which there is a market demand -- a business as safe and commendable as making soap or breakfast foods -- or it should be an art, which is always a search for something for which there is no market demand, something new and untried, where the values are intrinsic and have nothing to do with standardized values.

~~Willa Cather

Monday, November 26, 2007

Some scribes you should know...

This list is from Wellness Walkers.com


African American :

Inspirational Romance: Marilynn Griffith


Inspirational Women's Fiction:Stacy Hawkins Adams


Inspirational Contemporary Fiction:Victoria Christopher Murray


Inspirational Urban Fiction: Michelle McKinney Hammond


Inspirational Break Out Author of the Year: Sherri L. Lewis


Mainstream*:

Inspirational Historical Romance: Tricia Goyer

Inspirational MultiCultural Fiction: Marilynn Griffith

Inspirational Suspense: Brandilyn Collins

Inspirational Science Fiction: Donita K. Paul

Inspirational Young Adult Fiction: Melody Carlson

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Little Thanksgiving Trivia!




Thanksgiving:

1623–July 30, Governor Bradford ordered a day of prayer for their withering harvest. Rain soon fell and the crops were saved.

1777—General George Washington proposed a national holiday that would combine harvest home with a more formal day of giving thanks.

1789—The year of his inauguration, President Washington issued the first national Thanksgiving proclamation—but it lacked popular support.

1798—President John Adams designated May 9, 1798 as a time for “solemn humiliation, fasting and prayer.”

1815—President James Madison restored the observance of Thanksgiving on April 13.

1827–Mrs. Sarah Josepha Hale begins petitioning presidents and government officials to make Thanksgiving Day a national holiday.

1861–First Pilgrim celebration

1863–President Lincoln issued two Thanksgiving proclamations—August 6 & the last Thursday of November.

1864--Thanksgiving has been celebrated on the last Thursday of November since this time.

1941–In December, a Congressional Joint Resolution specified that the holiday be permanently set on the fourth Thursday in November.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Lynne Thompson's Writer's Corner

Lynne kindly let me share this with you all!

Magazine Writing Q & A
(Answers to my most asked questions)

Question: Should I send an e-query or send my query letter in the mail?
Answer: Personally I love e-query. No envelopes or stamps to mess with and usually a quicker reply. You need to check though with the market guide to see if the publisher accepts e-queries. Most do, but there are a few who hang to the old tried and true through sleet and snow group.

Question: Do I have to send in the entire article or is a query enough?
Answer: Well, the answer is both. You need to send the query to get the assignment. If you are a beginning writer, or new to that particular magazine, they may want to see the entire manuscript first. This is called “on spec” and means you may do all the work and they will still reject you without pay, but if they like your style they will probably use you again. It's a way to get “in the door.”

Question: Can you send the same query letter to different magazines at the same time?
Answer: Yes, but...
First, be sure and tell them in the query that you are sending this as a simultaneous submission (you don't need to list to whom). Second, I'm hoping that your query isn't a “shotgun” letter ie. sending the exact letter to everyone. Each query should reflect the individual voice and needs of that particular magazine.

Question: When can I send my published article in to another magazine?
Answer: That depends. First, it depends on the kind of rights the first magazine purchased. If they purchased “All Rights” then you can't sell the article again. It belongs to them forever. Personally, I don’t sell “All Rights.” If you sold “First Rights” which is what I sell, then you need to refer to your contract or writer's guidelines. Most magazines secure their right to that article for 60 days after it runs in their publication. Be sure and check before trying to sell the article again, called “Reprint Rights.”

Question: How many rejection letters did you get before you finally sold an article?
Answer: This is a dangerous question. If I said 20, and you've received 21 rejection notices, does that mean you're going to quit writing? The reality is, God is looking for obedience. So if you've received 100 rejections, and He says keep going, then that is your answer. I would suggest, however, that you keep working to improve your craft.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Stepping Stones

This just in from Rita Gerlach!

Stepping Stones is now an online magazine for writers. New features have been introduced, such as ‘Advice from the Pros’. You can read what advice Brandilyn Collins and Tricia Goyer have to offer this month. Also, there are two interviews you may want to read, one for suspense author Wanda Dyson, the other for fiction writer Susan Page Davis.

Rita asked authors, ‘If you only had one classic to read, what title would it be?’ Fun! Go on over and find out what your favorite author/s had to say.

Also, Check out ‘Comfort Foods for Writers’. A yummy recipe for Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Cheese Cake, and a Pumpkin Bread recipe from Hershey awaits! There are other recipes in the sidebar link. One is from Christian cookbook author Jennifer Cote for her luscious caramel sauce.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Fire and smoke...

"You write to communicate to the hearts and minds of others what's burning inside you. And we edit to let the fire show through the smoke."

~~Arthur Polotnik

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Writing advice from Mary DeMuth


10 Ways to Get Started in Writing


Here are some specific ways you can hone your writing skills this year. This list is by no means exhaustive, but if you incorporate some of these ten tasks into your writing life, improvement awaits you (how's that for passive voice?!):

1. Find a writing mentor and establish a prayer team. I fledged my way through eight years of writing before I met my mentor (who is also one of my closest friends). Although I definitely see those eight years as greatly important in terms of learning to labor in obscurity, I see the last four years as more fruitful because of my friend Sandi. She helped me craft my first sellable query letter. She rejoiced with me when I actually sold an article. She attended Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference with me.

Even more important: consider pulling together a team of praying folks who will lift you up as you write. I don’t think I’d be where I am today without my Writing Prayer Circle. You’ll see them thanked in every acknowledgment section of my books. Stop right now and pray about who God might want to bring into your circle of prayer. Send out an invitational email, then faithfully email your team on a regular basis. Prepare to be blessed.

2. Start blogging. If you would like to make yourself write (and volume of writing is very helpful in developing your voice), start a blog. Go to http://www.blogger.com/. Follow their instructions and begin posting. I am not techno-savvy, but I was able to do this with little pain. Here are some of my favorite writing industry blogs:
· http://www.michaelhyatt.com/fromwhereisit/ (Industry insider Michael Hyatt’s blog),
· http://www.advancedfictionwriting.com/blog/ (Randy Ingermanson’s amazing blog for fiction writers)
· http://terrywhalin.blogspot.com/ (A very, very good resource for writers)
· http://www.themastersartist.blogspot.com/ (I post here on Tuesdays). There are more amazing blogs listed on the right of this page. Do yourself a favor and check them out.
· http://noveljourney.blogspot.com/ (Novelists are interviewed there nearly every day!)
· http://www.mywritingmentor.blogspot.com/, (Tricia Goyer’s mentoring blog)
· http://www.chipmacgregor.com/ (an agent’s perspective on the industry, very valuable)
· http://wildfiremarketing.blogspot.com/ (a marketer’s perspective)

3. Join a writer's group. If you haven't been critiqued yet, it is important that you accustom yourself to this. If you happen to live in Dallas, you can look up The Dallas Christian Writers Guild or the Rockwall Christian Writer's Group. From the Rockwall group, three of us split off to form Life Sentence, a more intensive critique group. I would not be the writer I am today without Leslie and D'Ann.

There are also amazing online groups that provide information, community, and sometimes critique. Here are a few:
· The Writers View 1, for professional writers. Format: Every week we pose two industry or writing related questions. Both professional panelists and members give valuable information. Go here to join.
· The Writers View 2, for new and upcoming writers (same format as above). Go here to join
· American Christian Fiction Writers: Cost is 40 dollars a year. You get a discount for the annual conference and access to loops and great teaching. Critique groups often spur off this larger group.
· Fellowship of Christian Writers
· Christian Writers Group International
· American Christian Writers
· The Writers Information Network
· Christian Writers Guild

4. Go to a writer's conference. I personally recommend Mount Hermon Christian Writer's Conference. Last year I taught there about the spiritual life of the writer. Mount Hermon is where I got my start. An amazing Christian fiction conference is the American Christian Fiction Writers annual conference. Go here for more information.

There are MANY other amazing conferences. Here's a comprehensive list.

5. Set a weekly word count goal. For the novel I just handed in, I set a 10,000 a week word count goal. For my non-fiction (since it involves more research) my goal is 6000. I used to think that many words were impossible, but once I set the goal, I met it. If you are serious about writing and improving your craft, set goals.

And set deadlines, too. Tell yourself you must finish an article or book by a certain day and then EXCEED that deadline.

Give yourself baby-step goals. Want to break into publication? Set a query letter writing goal per week, or an article-producing goal per week. Write a short story a month, or three poems.

6. Pay it forward. Do some writing for free, whether it be a long-thought out letter to a struggling friend or a non-profit publication needing your words. When you’re starting out your journey, there will be opportunities to do this. My teenage daughter got her first writing publication (not paid) through our church’s magazine. Not bad, considering the circulation is 10,000. Not only did she minister to many, but now she has a publishing clip to show magazines when she starts pursuing publication.

7. Do something you've never done before. Terrified of poetry? Pick up a book of sonnets and try to construct one. Non-fiction proposals freak you out? Write one. Here's a 50 page tutorial I’ve written that you can purchase for ten dollars on my website.

Terrified of query letters? Don’t even know what they are? Check out this free query tutorial on my website. Never written a short story? Just do it! Stretch your wings; flex your writing muscles. Doing a variety of writing will also help you hone your voice.

8. Read great books and articles.
· Sally Stuart’s Christian Writers Market Guide
· Writers Market Guide
. Sandra Glahn’s amazing tutorial about great writing
· Sandra Glahn’s information about magazine writing:
· Sandra Glahn’s How to Break Into Publishing:
· On Writing by Stephen King. A bit raw, but one of the BEST books on fiction writing I've ever read.
· Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott. Again, a bit raw, but very, very good advice. Anne writes crazily (if there is such a thing) but it works. She's got a terrific voice.
· Randy Ingermanson’s Advanced Fiction Writing Ezine
9. If you've had a novel in your head for days (months, years, decades), why not make this year the year you write it? November is National Novel Writer's Month. My friend D'Ann wrote a novel in a month that way, later honing it. It garnered the attention of a really great agent! Here's a link: http://www.nanowrimo.org/. If you aren't sure how to start, check out Randy Ingermanson's Snowflake method.

10. Get your head (and heart!) on straight. Writing for publication is a difficult journey, particularly if you’re a Christian and don’t want to fall into prideful temptations. My notes about the inner journey of the writer addresses this issue of pride and many others. You can download it free here!
*****

There you go! I hope this has given you a good foundation for exploring writing. I look forward to hearing about your writing journey.


With joy,
Mary E. DeMuth
Silly Bio Stuff:
Mary E. DeMuth loves to help folks turn their trials to triumph, particularly Pioneer Parents. Her books include Ordinary Mom, Extraordinary God (Harvest House, 2005), Building the Christian Family You Never Had (WaterBrook, 2006), Watching the Tree Limbs, Wishing on Dandelions (NavPress, 2006), and Authentic Parenting in a Postmodern Culture (Harvest House 2007). A mother of three, Mary lives with her husband Patrick and their three children in Texas. They recently returned from Southern France where they planted a church. She blogs nearly-daily at www.relevantblog.blogspot.com . Check out her newly redesigned website at
www.marydemuth.com