Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Surprise Box Winners

First Prize of the Christmas box goes to Miss Kallie. Hope you enjoy it. Second Prize of a book goes to Jackie and Third prize winner of a book is Joy Hannabass. Congratulations to the winners and a great big thank you to all who dropped by and left a comment.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Christmas Promise

The promise of Christmas lies in the birth and life of the child born on that day. He brought a promise to free us from sin and give us eternal life. In my new book, Winter Promise, a baby is born near Christmas day and he brings a new realization of God's love to a young doctor whose soul is tormented by a tragedy he believes he could have prevented.

The baby in the book is named for a very special baby boy whose life on earth lasted less than a month. In the brief weeks of his life, he touched so many hearts. His parents' faith and testimony during the weeks that followed little Connor's death had a tremendous effect on my faith and on that of so many others. I dedicated the book in honor of his parents and in memory of him. I named the baby in the book Connor Allen so that Connor Allen Peterson would live on in the pages of my book as Connor Allen Winston.

Forty-nine years ago last week, God performed another miracle with a tiny baby. Our middle son came prematurely and weighed around 4 pounds when he was born. His lungs were not fully developed and he had the same condition that caused the death of the Kennedy baby just months prior to Robert's birth. Robert was born on a Monday, and the doctors didn't expect him to make it through the next day, but he did. Then on Wednesday, my Sunday school class met in our classroom and had a prayer vigil. On Thursday morning the doctor came in to tell me that something had happened during the night and Robert was breathing on his own and his heart beat was strong. That morning was the first time I was allowed to see him. From that day on he began to thrive and grow. God gave us a miracle that Christmas in 1962. Today Robert has a wonderful career, a beautiful wife and two great sons.

Christmas is a time for special happenings. We've had some sad times and some extremely happy times at Christmas, but it is still a magical time of year to marvel at the miraculous birth of our precious Lord and Savior.

How do you celebrate the true meaning of Christmas in your home?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Christmas Food

Around our house, I have a standing order for Pralines and my Peanut Brittle every Christmas. Our middle son will even bring over a bag of peanuts and request that I make the whole bag up into brittle just for him. I gave him a batch just this past weekend for his birthday.

Along with her story in A Biltmore Christmas, Rhonda Gibson includes recipes with each chapter. What do a pastry baker and a beekeeper have in common? Not much, especially when the baker is allergic to bees. Then Peggy gets involved with Joshua, the son of Mark the beekeeper. This young boy and his reading problem bring Mark and Peggy together, but the threat of death from a bee sting keeps her from opening her heart and life to love. What will it take for these two to find the lasting happiness and love that the two of them desire? This is the basis for Rhonda Gibson’s story, A Honey of a Christmas in the Christmas novella collection. An easy read with a few twists and turns makes this story a great one to read curled up in a chair with a cup of coffee, hot tea, or hot chocolate. Add one of the recipes Rhonda includes, and you have a very nice treat for Christmas.

Read below where Rhonda found the recipes and why they were included.
     The recipes I used in this book are from a collection of different books I used from the early 1800's, that I found listed on the web. Most of them came from this website: http://www.vintagerecipes.net/ That's why some of them are hard to read/follow. I didn't try them all out, some I did but some I didn't try, such as Peggy's Sweet Sandwiches because I'm not sure how much "their weight in pounded sugar, butter, and flour" is. Since this recipe is from an 1861 cookbook, there is no way of finding out. But, the recipe sounded so good, I had to include it in the book. For readers, my understanding is that you can slice up angle food cake and use it in place of the actual bread in the Sweet Sandwich recipe.
     Why did I include the recipes? Well, that was easy, Peggy loved cooking and I figured why not share some of the pastries and dishes that she created. I hope the readers enjoy her recipes as much as I do. And to be honest, I was thrilled when my editor decided to allow me to include them. I feel like they give the readers a look into the past and how women cooked back then.

What is your favorite Christmas recipe? Do you have one that is requested or that it wouldn’t seem like Christmas if you don’t have some of whatever it is?

This is Round 4, so even if you’ve commented on the others, get another chance at the drawing on this post. Be sure to leave your email address so you can be contacted.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Christmas Journeys

Imagine Mary's discomfort on her long journey to Bethlehem. Although her time of delivery drew near, law dictated that she and Joseph must go to Bethlehem to be registered. Traveling a great distance in a car or on a plane at that state of pregnancy is diffictult enough, but to make the journey on a donkey would be unthinkable today. But Mary knew what had to be done and how special her baby would be, and she made the trip willingly.

One year, when our boys were one and two, we made a journey back to my husband's home. We had set a tradition of always having Christmas Eve at home then maybe traveling the day after Christmas, but his year my mother-in-law lay gravely ill. Traveling with two small boys is a chore at anytime, but add to that all the "Santa" stuff and other gifts and you have a lot of work. We didn't spend time making a decision, we were going. We began our journey to Arkansas with a stop in Longview on the way to visit my sister and her family and to see my husband's brother and sister-inlaw. My father, who was at my sister's home for Christmas that year, graciously offered to loan us his car for the rest of the trip. We had a small Ford Falcon and it was loaded to the max. Dad had an Oldsmobile sedan with lots more room. That offer made the second leg of our journey much easier. When we arrived at Rex's home, his mother lay near death. We visited with her in the hospital, and because of her living in a small town, and everyone knows everyone else, we were allowed to take the boys in to see their grandmother for a few minutes. We stayed over the weekend and returned home on December 27. On December 28, we received word that Mrs. Rogers had gone home to the Lord. Never have I been more thankful that we had broken our tradition and gone to be with Mrs. Rogers that one last time before her death.

In her book A Christmas Journey Home, Kathi Macias gives us look at another pregnant woman on an incredible journey and a woman who bears a hatred for all the the pregnant woman represents. It's a beautiful story of two women who lives are woven together in way that brings both of them redemption.

Kathi, how did you come to write this beautiful story?

Having become known for my “fiction with a mission,” issues-related stories, I had to keep that focus as I considered writing a Christmas novel for the first time. As I often do, I “cruised the news” for a bit, looking for something that caught my eye (and I hadn’t already dealt with in previous novels). The explosive issue of illegal immigration kept cropping up, and since my husband and I live so close to the Mexico/San Diego border and are therefore quite familiar with (and even somewhat impacted by) the topic, I began to look for a way to build a Christmas story around it. At the same time I knew I didn’t want the book to be a political statement, so I wanted to be careful not to let my personal feelings on the subject color or influence the story. Above all I wanted to show that just as in the original Christmas story, when the Light of the World came and shone in the darkness, God still shines His Light in the darkness today. Translation? I knew this would not be a warm, fuzzy Christmas read but rather a triumphant story of God’s unconditional love in the midst of difficult and even dire circumstances. That, of course, is a message that applies to anyone at any time in any situation, and it is the message I hope my readers will take away with them after reading A Christmas Journey Home.

Kathi Macias is a multi-award winning writer who has authored more than 30 books and ghostwritten several others. A former newspaper columnist and string reporter, Kathi has taught creative and business writing in various venues and has been a guest on many radio and television programs. Kathi is a popular speaker at churches, women’s clubs and retreats, and writers’ conferences, and won the 2008 Member of the Year award from AWSA (Advanced Writers and Speakers Association). Kathi “Easy Writer” Macias lives in Homeland, CA, with her husband, Al.

To enter the drawing for the Christmas Surprise Box, tell us about a time Christmas didn't turn out exactly as you had planned or of a Christmas trip you took one year. Be sure to leave your email address so you can be contacted.

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Christmas Celebrations

All over the United States, cities and towns everywhere celebrate Christmas in various ways, but beautiful ways. The River Walk in San Antonio is one such place. Twinkling lights abound all along the river through downtown with decorated barges to transport people, carolers, and dinner parties along the river to view the sights. Trees drip with lights up and down the river as well in other parts of the city. It’s a beautiful sight to see and inspired the stories for the Christmas Anthology, A River Walk Christmas. All four stories involve the River Walk at Christmas time. Authors, Beth Goddard, Lynette Sowell, Martha Rogers, and Kathleen Y’Barbo Turner collaborated to bring the River Walk to life.

Echo Lewis moves to Texas for a fresh start her mistrust of men almost ruins her chances at love. Valerie Murray is in danger of losing her gift shop unless she can open her heart and release old hurts. Gabriela Hernandez must learn to forgive that which she thinks is impossible before love can enter her heart. Sienna Montalvo struggles with her career, but will hosting the star of a new movie about the Alamo be the break she is longing for?

Four young women all learn the true meaning of love in the lights and beauty of San Antonio at Christmas.

Other cities and towns in Texas also celebrate Christmas. You’ll find ice-skating rinks open for business in seventy degree weather, giant Christmas tree lightings, decorations up and down the main streets and out in the suburbs. Homes compete for prizes for best decorated with Christmas themes, and in many neighborhoods, cars line up in a constant stream to drive by and take a look at the spectacular displays of light, sound and animation. Churches present concerts and pageants to tell the story of Jesus’ birth, theaters in larger cities present special Christmas productions.

Yes, Christmas is a time of celebration everywhere. No matter where you live, you’ll find something special at Christmas time.

My favorite thing at Christmas besides family gatherings is the Celebration of Christmas presented by the choir, orchestra, and members of our church. Hundreds of voices blend in the music as the songs, the spirit and the story of Christmas unfolds. I’m always worn out after the last performance, but I love doing it and have not missed a year in the forty or so we’ve been performing and celebrating Christmas.

So what is your favorite thing at Christmas time?
Be sure to leave your email address with your comment to be eligible for the drawing on December 17. The box keeps growing each week. You don’t want to miss a chance at this great package.

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Remembering Christmas

Today I am happy to kick off my Christmas Box Surprise with Dan Walsh and his book, Remembering Christmas. His is one of the five books I’ll be featuring between now and December 17. On December 17 I will draw a name from all who have left comments for each author. That means you can have up to five entries for the drawing. You also get an extra entry if you invite friends and they mention you name in their comment.

Remembering Christmas is another wonderful Christmas book by Dan Walsh. The book begins with Rick Denton noticing all the changes that have taken place in his hometown since he lived there. That sets him to remembering the time he hadn’t planned on spending the Thanksgiving holiday in the hospital with his mother and step-father, but that’s what he did. Art’s stroke sets off a chain of events that forever changed Rick’s life. The memories are set in a quaint book shop in 1980, and the story will charm you right off your feet. Rick must run the store while Art is in the hospital, and meets a number of characters who will warm your heart, tickle your funny bone, and open your heart to those who have less than we do at the Holiday season. His part-time helper, Andrea and her daughter Amy also open his eyes to what the store really means to the community as well as to love. In giving up his hectic schedule to help his mother, Rick discovers the true meaning of Christmas and what it means to give one’s self to others, and what it means to love with all his heart. This is somewhat of a “framework” story as the first chapter and the ending are set in the present to wrap around the story filled with memories of that unforgettable holiday.

Here's more about Dan.

I met Dan at an ACFW conference in 2009 in Indianapolis. I took an instant liking to him, and after reading his biography, I understood why. Two interesting facts I learned about Dan. One is that he was born the year I graduated from college, so I’m old enough to be his mother. The second fact is that his dad was the first one on either side of the family to attend college and I was the first one in my family to attend college

Dan was born in 1957 to a hard-working, blue-collar family. Dan spent his childhood years playing basket ball and surfing in Florida where he grew up. His father became an engineer with General Electric on the Apollo space program. It wasn’t until his senior year in high school that Dan came to know the Lord. That same year he met his wife, Cindi. Then later Dan became an ordained minister and pastured the same church for 25 years. Their two children are now grown and on their own. Dan retired from the ministry in August and is devoting his time to his writing career.

Check out his website www.danwalshbooks.com for more information about his books and his latest project.

What is your favorite holiday memory? Be sure to include your e-mail address with your comment so I can contact you if you win.