Monday, December 3, 2018

Love Blooms at Christmas by Martha Rogers ends December 10th



Family Christmas Traditions



Most families have traditions handed down through the years at Christmas time. Ours is no different although some have dwindled because of our growing family and being scattered over the country.

One we still hold to doing is attending our church’s Christmas Eve Candlelight service. From the time our youngest son was two years old and the services begun at our church, we haven’t missed going. Sometimes it’s with the whole family, sometimes it’s only my husband and I who attend because the others are all across the country or have responsibilities at their own churches. This year we will attend with our middle son and his family and have Christmas together the next day.

My step-mother began a tradition when the first great-grandchildren came along. She made stockings for each grandchild and great-grandchild with their names on them. The stockings were then filled with trinkets and candy. We loved the surprises she put into each one. She passed away in 1996, and the stockings were passed on to me as the oldest. I still have them and still use them today for our family with new ones added for my great-grandchildren. My sister took the ones for her family and now does the same for them.

Because middle son was born on December 10, we began buying and decorating our tree on his birthday. We did that until he went off to college and wasn’t home until after his birthday. Now I begin decorating it the week after Thanksgiving. Here is a picture of our tree last year.



Every year since 1971, I have been a part of our church’s Christmas production that has been copied all over the country. Our choir and volunteers from our membership present a program consisting of two acts with the first act being a secular Christmas program with songs and characters of the season. The second act is the Christmas story beginning with prophecies from the Old Testament and ending with the resurrection of Jesus and ascension. This year because of health issues, I will not be able to participate. It was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever made, but listened to my body and to the Lord.

One other tradition I have with my friends. Every year for the past twenty years I give a Christmas luncheon for twenty or so friends. We’ve been exchanging ornaments in a fun-filled drawing of numbers and choosing our gifts then “stealing” one if someone has one we like better. Because most of us are now in our seventies and eighties, we decided last year we didn’t need more ornaments and collected toys for a toy drive instead. Here are a few pictures from the past. Here is a picture of one of the tables I set for the luncheon. 



My Christmas release, Love Blooms at Christmas year includes a pageant put on by the children of the orphanage in the town. I used it as a way to bring my hero and heroine closer together as they worked with the children. The hero is a Bible professor at the Bible college in town, and he makes sure the whole presentation is Biblically correct including having the Magi come when Jesus is closer to two years old. It’s a part of a larger collection titled Small Town Christmas: Historical.




GIVEAWAY: 
I am giving away a copy of the novella either as a paperback or an e-book to a commenter to be selected by Debbie. Answer the question, make a comment and please leave your email address to be entered in the drawing. The link for the book is: https://amzn.to/2Q2mRNo



QUESTION: Does your family have Christmas traditions? If so, share one with us.



Martha Rogers is a multi-published author and writes a weekly devotional for ACFW. Martha and her husband Rex live in Houston, Texas where they are active members of First Baptist Church. They are the parents of three sons and grandparents to eleven grandchildren and great-grandparents to four, soon to be five. Martha is a retired teacher with twenty-eight years teaching Home Economics and English at the secondary level and eight years at the college level supervising student teachers and teaching freshman English. She is the Director of the Texas Christian Writers Conference held in Houston in August each year, a member of ACFW, ACFW WOTS chapter in Houston, and a member of the writers’ group, Inspirational Writers Alive.
Find Martha at:  www.marthawrogers.com
Twitter:  @martharogers2                                
Facebook: Martha Rogers Author




Monday, November 26, 2018

The Plum Blooms in Winter by Linda Thompson ends December 3rd

Please welcome Linda Thompson to my blog this week! Linda has recently joined us on the Heros, Heroines, and History blog (HHHistory) and so I've recently been privileged to get to know her. I'm so glad she has joined us here this week! Linda has written a WWII story fiction but based on a true story. Read on down to hear her interesting story as well as how to enter in the giveaway.


If I’d Known Then…

I suppose every published author has their journey. Their tale of inspiration, toil and rejection. My publishing saga started the day my husband, Michael, thrust a military history book he’d been reading at me. “You need to read this story,” he said, a ring of awed excitement in his voice.

The book was The First Heroes by Craig Nelson. It’s an account of the Doolittle Raid of April 18, 1942, the very first Allied bombing raid over Japan. And Michael was right—the story he flagged for me grabbed me.

After the raid, eight downed airmen were captured by the Japanese. They endured forty months of every hardship Japan threw at their prisoners in that war. Starvation, systematic torture, solitary confinement, neglect and abuse. Only four of the eight made it home.



This wartime poster shows Doolittle Raider Lieutenant Robert Hite, captive in Tokyo. April, 1942.

But somewhere in the middle of that span, the four who remained received some reading material, including the gem of all gems, a Bible. The opportunity to read the Bible in their dank individual cells impacted them all. For one man, in particular, that gift of a Bible transformed his prison experience. The love of God through Christ consumed him, to the point where he yearned for his Japanese captors to understand it too. He developed a certainty that the Lord was calling him to return to Japan as a missionary—a living object lesson of God’s forgiveness through Christ.

After the war, he returned to Japan, ultimately spending decades ministering there. My novel focuses on how the Lord used this transformed heart to transform another life. Specifically, a young woman who intended to assassinate him for the role he played in the death of a man she loved. (True story.  )

My husband fingered his copy of The First Heroes and pinned me with intent brown eyes. “Someone should write a book about this.” I prayed about it for some time and put out my fleeces, and ultimately concluded that, yes, I was that someone. “Here am I Lord. Send me.” (Is 6:8)

As a marketing professional, I was a prolific writer. But fiction is a very different beast and honestly, I had no idea what I was getting into. I figured a couple of years and I’d knock this thing out. Ha! More than six years later, I signed my publishing deal with Mountain Brook Ink. Six years of steady effort, of critique groups and classes and conferences and paid editors—and the learning process isn’t cheap, by the way!—and, of course, those infamous rejections. 

That’s the part of the journey I want to talk about today. I definitely had what I’ve come to think of as my “Mount Moriah moments.” If the manuscript was my “child of promise,” if I picked it up because the Lord had called me to it, was I ready to surrender it on His command as well?

If you’re a Christian writer, you’re probably familiar with Allen Arnold and his book, The Story of With. It’s an extended allegory of a creative who seeks self-actualization and worldly success, but without a deep partnership with her Heavenly Father. She ultimately learns that the endpoint is not the point. The real point is the journey—with God.

My most discouraging “Mount Moriah moment” came a couple of years ago, when my first agent dropped me. I didn’t even know that was a thing! And you had to be kidding, right? This person had seemed committed to my success. Had been generous enough to coach and mentor me through several revisions. Only a few months earlier my manuscript had garnered a significant industry award, which I know would not have happened without that agent’s guidance.

Me in 2016, the evening I was blessed to win the ACFW Genesis contest at a big glam awards ceremony. Pinch me!


I couldn’t fathom going through the process again—the query piles, the hopeful meetings at conferences, the emailing of book proposals and samples, the waiting, waiting… waiting. And, to add insult to injury, that email came just days before Christmas.

Lord, what are you telling me?

He was telling me what He tells us all. At the end of the day, it’s not about any earthly outcome. It’s about our relationship with Him. About relying on Him through the journey.

“Count it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials. For the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (James 1:2-3) Hardships come to prove—and in many cases, improve—the quality of our faith. And that’s the outcome that actually matters.

Naturally, I meditated on scriptures on waiting. “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” (Is 40:31), right? I noticed for the first time that the word for “wait” in this passage has a sense of being intertwined.

From the Complete Word Study Bible:

קָוָה qāwāh: A verb meaning to wait for, to look for, to hope for. The root meaning is that of twisting or winding a strand of cord or rope….

I should be so intertwined with my Lord that my will disappears into His! Didn’t Jesus also say something like this—something about abiding? “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John 15:4)

Today, my saga appears to have ended in what the world would call success. A respected agent (Wordserve Literary) and a quality publisher. My novel based on the Doolittle Raid to be released as of December 1. And it’s a beautiful “book baby,” if I do say so myself! Thank you, Mountain Brook Ink!

But the real end game isn’t a pretty book. Or even solid sales. It’s impact on hearts and lives. I can hammer out words and my publisher can bind them into a book, but only the Lord can produce that spiritual harvest. I’m waiting and praying to see what He will do!

And if He should call me to put my WIP in a drawer and my writing career on the altar again? Well, I think I’m ready for that too.





Have you ever had a mission you felt came from the Lord? How did it work out?

What’s your favorite WWII story, book or movie?



GIVEAWAY

Answer one or more of the above questions and be entered into the drawing for The Plum Blooms in Winter, Paperback or ebook.



ABOUT LINDA:

Linda Thompson stepped back from a corporate career that spanned continents to write what she loves–stories of unstoppable faith. Her debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter, is an A.C.F.W. Genesis award winner. Linda writes from the sun-drenched Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, a third-generation airline pilot who doubles as her Chief Military Research Officer, two mostly-grown-up kids, and a small platoon of housecats. When Linda isn't writing, you'll find her rollerblading–yes, that does make her a throwback–taking in a majestic desert moonrise, or dreaming of an upcoming trip. She and her husband recently returned from a tour of Israel and Jordan and a visit to Wales. Next up: Seattle and Charlotte.

Linda loves to connect with readers! Linda’s website: http://lthompsonbooks.com

Follow Linda on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or Instagram (@lthompsonbooks).




A taut, crisp debut achievement that colorfully evokes the Pacific theater of WWII. Start this one forewarned: it's a stay-up-all-night read."

-Jerry B. Jenkins--21-time New York Times bestselling author (Left Behind, et al)

A Prostitute Seeks Her Revenge--In 1942, Miyako Matsuura cradled her little brother as he died on the sidewalk, a victim of the first U.S. bombing raid on Japan. By 1948, the war has reduced her to a street-hardened prostitute consumed by her shame.

A WWII Hero Finds His True Mission--Dave Delham makes military aviation history piloting a B-25 in the audacious Doolittle Raid. Forced to bail out over occupied China, he and his crew are captured by the Japanese and survive a harrowing P.O.W. ordeal. In 1948, he returns to Japan as a Christian missionary, determined to showcase Christ's forgiveness.

Convinced that Delham was responsible for the bomb that snuffed out her brother's life, Miyako resolves to restore her honor by avenging him--even if it costs her own life. But the huntress soon becomes hunted in Osaka's treacherous underworld. Miyako must outmaneuver a ruthless brothel owner, outwit gangs with competing plans to profit by her, and overcome betrayal by family and friends--only to confront a decision that will change everything.



Monday, November 19, 2018

Snow Angel by Davalynn Spencer ends 11/26

Be sure to read on down to see how to enter to win Snow Angel. 

Many little things from my life make it into my historical novels and novellas, including something as simple as the smell of wood smoke on a chilly fall morning.

When I step outside to take my Queensland heeler, Blue, for a walk, that sweet woodsy smell greets me from my own chimney. Though I have electric heat, it’s only a backup, and I warm my home with a woodstove. There is something cozy and companionable about building a fire each cold morning, pulling my rocker close, and watching through the stove’s glass door as bright flames embrace the logs.




Some mornings, dawn arrives with spectacular beauty, washing the horizon in blazing red and gold. A sunrise like that usually signals a storm, so after walking Blue up the hill, around the bend, and back, we return home where I split firewood. Fall temperatures in Colorado can fluctuate overnight as much as 30 to 40 degrees, so preparation is key.



My recently released Christmas novella, Snow Angel, is peppered with such details – the scent of wood smoke, a rocker by the fire, the chock of an ax splitting wood, and a companionable dog. The story is set in the 1880s along Colorado’s Front Range, and yet these same details fill my life now in the twenty-first century. I count these simple elements as the Lord’s timeless blessings, and they warm my heart as much as my home.


Do you have a special tradition or everyday task that warms your heart in a simple way? Or is there something you do to prepare for colder weather and seasonal change – maybe reading Christmas stories – that prepares your heart as well as your mind? I’d love to hear what those traditions are in the comments below. Thanks for reading! 

GIVEAWAY: Answer the above question for a chance to win an e-copy of Snow Angel. Don't forget to leave your email so we can contact you should you win!

As a child, she lost something precious at Christmas. Twenty years later, she's about to lose her heart.
Lena Carver works as her physician brother’s medical assistant, housekeeper, and cook despite her disfigurement from a childhood accident. Each year, the Christmas holidays come with contradictions—cherished memories of a mysterious encounter and painful recollections of a great loss. She lives with the belief that she is beyond love’s reach, until a dark-eyed cowboy arrives broken, bruised, and bent on changing her mind. 
Wil Bergman wakes in a stranger’s house with a busted leg, a bullet-creased scalp, and no horse. Trail-weary, robbed, and penniless, his dreams and plans for a future are suddenly unattainable. Forced to recuperate in the home of a country doctor, he finds himself at the mercy of a surgeon whose sister’s healing touch has power to stitch up his lonely heart and open his eyes to the impossible.
ABOUT DAVALYNN
Davalynn Spencer is the award-winning author of ten inspirational Western romance titles, both contemporary and historical. She is a former journalist, the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, and chief wrangler of Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Contact her via her website at https://www.davalynnspencer.com .
Links:
Snow Angel buy link: https://amzn.to/2pPaLbE
Quarterly Author Update and free ebook: http://eepurl.com/xa81D