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Christmas is a time for family, friends and yes, traditions!  Do you have a family tradition? What about a personal tradition you do every year?  

I’ve always been a reader and reading the Christmas story, the famous birth of our Lord Jesus seems fitting on Christmas Day. Then reading seems almost a perfect thing to do during this time. I don’t know when did it start, but I’ve re-read Pride and Prejudice every year the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day. It wasn’t really planned, but possibly because that time of the week, school’s off and I didn’t own many books besides textbooks. Living in New York, the weather’s usually chilly, so I love to cozy up with a comfy blanket, hot cup of tea and with my bedside lamp’s soft yellow glow, read the night away.

Classics I read every Christmas season!
Classics
My typical stack of Christmas reads will always include Pride and Prejudice and one other Jane Austen’s novel. It changes yearly, but the first will always be the story of first impressions. Even years later, married, this personal tradition continued on, but with one change - more titles were added to the mix.  Classics such as The Christmas Carol and The Little Prince added to the tradition, along with some inspirational titles I’ve came across during my initial exposure to Christian Fiction. 

Some of my favorite Re-Reads

A Spin off a Tradition
With my re-reading tradition, I’ve decided to make it a standing tradition to not only reread some of my favorites, but make that particular week just for re-reads. Since I’ve started reviewing books, I haven’t had that much opportunity to reread novels in its entirety. So in the last two years, I’ve decided to carve out specific times in the year to focus not on titles I’ve not read, but on titles I’ve already read and have enjoyed tremendously.
 
Titles I'm adding to this year's re-reading season!

I know many fellow readers think re-reading books is a waste of time, especially with so many great books published every year. For me, I think every time I read a book, even if it was a previously read title, I grasp something entirely different, or that I can find it more relevant this time versus the last. I also think even if we read a book, what we’re meant to take away from it, may not necessarily be the right timing. Sometimes it’s not about the message, but just pure entertainment, and that is also enough for me.

💬   How about you? Do you reread books? Any classics or recent favorites? Do you also have a personal Christmas tradition?

Christmas Giveaway 

I’m gifting one US winner a mystery box of books! And it will include at least one of the books photographed in this post!  To enter, just answer one or more of the questions I asked above.  
Subject to Seekerville giveaway terms and conditions.


Seekerville Advent Giveaway
Don’t forget, Seekerville is hosting a month long Advent Giveaway for 2 winners to each win a Kindle Fire!  Enter using the Rafflecopter below.

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Hello Seekerville,

How fun to join you again today.  I was just up to the North Pole and got caught in a whirlwind of activity with Santa and Mrs. Claus. Guess what Mrs. Claus wants to do now?

Write a novel.



My, my, they took advantage of my visit and picked my brain.

Now you might be asking what I was doing up at the North Pole and you might also be asking why Mrs. Claus has the sudden urge to write a novel.

Well it turns out both are for the same reason. We both have had a lot of changes in our lives and the old traditions we had for Christmas just won’t be happening any more. In my case, family and friends have moved on to celebrate with the Lord and so we won’t be traveling to California to their house as usual and won’t have the big family get-together, bicycle rides on the beach or the homemade tomales.

In Mrs. Claus life, she has all this time on her hands because their children are taking over most of the jobs she used to do. She is delighted with this change because it gives her time to pursue a dream she has apparently harbored in her heart for years.

Santa advised both of us to find a new tradition to replace the old. How fun is that?  And you know how the Lord places us in positions to help each other. So that is how I came to be around to help Mrs. Claus. I’d never been to the North Pole and thought it would be a perfect destination for the holidays.

Mrs. Claus has never written a novel before so we had to start at the beginning.  Placing my finger on my chin, I thought back to that lovely visit. I asked her what kind of books she loves to read because that is the genre you would be best at writing.

“Romance novels,” she replied.

“Great,” I responded, excitement bouncing around in my heart,  “I happen to have a lot of experience in that genre and I know a great place to get help.”

“Where is that?”

“Seekerville .”  And I told her all about the wonderful support and writing tips that abound on this marvelous blog.

 Mrs. Claus wrote down all the contact information and smiled, “I’m ready. So what do I need to know?”





“The elements of story to start with,” I settled into the big wing back chair and tucked the down comforter around my legs. “A romance involves a heroin and hero who fall in love, but there are conflicts that prevent them from doing so. The story shows how they resolve those conflicts so that they can live happily ever after.”

“I have a heroine for sure and I think my hero might take after Mr. Claus a wee bit.”

“That’s perfectly normal to use people we know as character models.”

“I’d be careful not to make it obvious,” Mrs. Clause twirled a strand of her white hair around her finger.

“There is a problem with using characters we know and love.” I chewed on the end of my pen. “There has to be conflict. We need to be mean to those characters and make their life rough.”

Lines creased across Mrs. Claus’s brow. “I can’t be mean.”

I straightened and pointed my finger. “Exactly. That is why its best to make up your character. Because my dear, you will have to write in problems that will make it seem its impossible for the hero and heroine to ever get together. Read some of the Seeker novels. They are very good at doing that. Their characters get into some real pickles sometimes.”

Santa danced around the Christmas tree. “You don’t do so badly yourself on that score, Miss Sandra. Tell her about poor Danny on the isolated and primitive island in the San Juan Straights. The city guy had to be taught how to dig for clams, collect oysters off the rocks and….”



“Yes, the heroine of LOVE’S REFUGE, who had escaped to the island because of the trauma she’d faced in an attack from gangs in the city.” I smiled, happy Santa thought to use an example from one of my books.

“I get it,” Mrs. Claus straightened, “She’s a country girl and he’s a city boy.”

“Oh yes, but its much more complicated than that. He works with youth trying to get  out of gangs.”

Santa turned and winked. “The novel was quite humorous during their trials on the island, but when Skye found out about his work, it put her to the test.”

“And that’s another thing you need to keep in mind.” I tapped her notepad. “The hero and heroine need to grow and overcome their flaws.”

Mrs. Claus scribbled more notes onto her notepad.

“The other element you need for story is a setting. And it helps to make it intricate to the conflicts within the plot.” I readjusted the comforter before it slipped to the floor.

“In LOVE’S PROMISES, the setting played a key role.” Santa stepped back, admiring his handiwork. “The heroine wanted to build her famous father’s last house at Lake Tahoe, but the hero worked for the agency that prevented her from doing so.”

“I get it.” Mrs. Clause grabbed Santa’s elbow and spun around in a delightful dance.

Snatching up the notepad that had dropped on the floor, I quickly scrawled a list.

ELEMENTS OF STORY
1.      Strong characters
2.      Setting
3.      Conflict
4.      Growth of characters in resolution of the conflict.



Mrs. Claus clapped her hands before grasping the notepad. “This is wonderful. I’m ready to write.”

“You have a start, but I advise you to get online and follow Seekerville. Each post is stock full of helpful tips and useful information.”

“Thank you so much.” Mrs. Claus hugged me tight.

I smiled, thankful I had made the journey even though it was freezing out.




And hey, since autographed books make terrific Christmas gifts, I will pick two winners for my latest book "Love's Healing."



Sandra Leesmith is retired now, but she used to write sweet romances to warm the heart. Sandra loves to play pickleball, hike, read, bicycle and write. She is based in Arizona, but she and her husband travel throughout the United States in their motorhome and enjoy the outdoors. Sandra’s books are still available and three of her most popular books are audio books. You can find all of Sandra’s books and audio books on Amazon.




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It is such an honor to be part of our Advent days here in Seekerville... a time of waiting, of anticipation, of work, joy and play and prayer... and a time of preparation! Preparing the way, much like John the Baptist did.

What is Advent? Great question! Advent is the first season of the Christian church liturgical year, starting with the first four Sundays before Christmas. It's a soul-searching time. A helping others time. A happy time, filled with all kinds of things. The idea of waiting for a good thing to happen... learning patience... being patient... these are the things of a maturing mind and a blossoming civilization.  We use an Advent Wreath on the table to remind us of the waiting... One new candle is lighted each Sunday... And the tiny lights show our anticipation of the Savior's birth!



The other thing we do now is have Mary and Joseph "travel" the dining room on their journey to Bethlehem. I'll do that with Finn and Lena this year as we learn about Baby Jesus's birthday. Again, that sweet element of anticipation (much like we build in our books...) is a huge catalyst to making even the simplest Christmas special.

We've  become accustomed to instant gratification. We want our TVs to turn on when we hit a button. If they hesitate, we get snarky! And if the computer spins while connecting, we stare at it like we've been insulted by 2010 Internet! :)

We expect our car to run. We expect our phone to get and give calls, to search the web, to contact people on voice command, to order food (and pay for it!) and to amuse us when we're required to wait for anything.

We have made ourselves dependent on technology and gadgets! Oh, silly us!

I love the prayers of Advent. The image of Mary and Joseph, carrying such an emotional and physical load in their travels... and then in life.  Imagine, for the few moments of these beautiful songs, being Mary...

Mary, Did You Know?

Breath of Heaven by Amy Grant

The evening prayer, also called "vespers". The songs of preparation aren't the joy-filled celebratory songs we sing on Christmas! The Advent hymns speak of waiting... of cold... of darkness. They seek forgiveness and peace. They touch the sorrowed soul and the waiting heart.

This beautiful video by the Notre Dame Folk Group with "What Child is This?/Child of the Poor" is so beautifully done to reflect the real meaning of Christmas.  VIDEO HERE

Christmas is a beautiful celebration of love but it wouldn't be nearly as dear to me if I didn't quietly observe that time of waiting and reconciliation. The time of hope and forgiveness. The time of grace, freely given.

I think the best Christmas stories come from that season of waiting. The quiet hope. The joy of anticipation. Those are the stories that touch my heart. The "Saint Maybes"... "Christmas in Conway" "It's a Wonderful Life" and so many more.

Christmas-- and writing about Christmas and holidays and soul-searing moments-- isn't about the date, the calendar or the celebration. It's about the climb. The walk. The road less traveled, and the emotion that drives those choices.

Ever wonder why some Christmas stories fall flat?

No depth. No emotion. No grip-your-heart joy when the Grinch's heart grows THREE SIZES in the space of a few minutes.

Advent is that walk for us a humans, and your story line is that walk for readers. You are preparing the way, just like John the Baptist did.... only you're doing a literary roadway. It can be a wilderness or it can be old-fashioned dirt-and-gravel... or a red clay road... or a paved highway.

Consider the emotion of the moment with every step of that path and your Christmas story will thank you for it. And so will your readers.

Now, on a lighter note, I've got a couple of real feel-good stories here... and chocolate.... for one lucky winner! Leave a comment on the blog, anything about Christmas... Advent... Preparation.... Joy! Or yes, even sorrow because when we've lost someone to anger or death or divorce that's a painful wound when the rest of the world is going around with "Merry Christmas" on their lips. (Scrooge, Dickens, "A Christmas Carol")

Here's the prize pack, darlings!


And Merry Christmas to you!


http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/674ae8c46/


Multi-published, award-winning author Ruthy Logan Herne loves wearing an inspirational author hat because she is unabashedly grateful to God for all of his blessings... and she likes wearing hats! :) The author of more than 50 novels and novellas, Ruthy lives on a pumpkin farm in Western New York, she loves to bake and hang out with small children, she doesn't mind snow and she thinks her mini-donkeys are really stinkin' cute! Connect with Ruthy on facebook, follow her on BOOKBUB or @Twitter and you can directly email her at loganherne@gmail.com or browse her website ruthloganherne.com She loves to meet and greet readers and writers! All are welcome....
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A Christmas Story …
Once upon a time … there was this not so bright CDQ (caffeinated drama queen) author who had this very “bright” idea to write a Christmas story called A Light in the Window. Not just any Christmas story, mind you, but a prequel Christmas story that would tie a pretty bow around two series she’d written about an Irish family with a deep passion for God.

“Oh, it will have everything Christmas,” she exclaimed with hands clasped in delight, “from cookies and snowflakes to angels heralding at night.
Laughter and tears, romance and more, all wrapped up in magic
with a Christmas play fundraiser for the downtrodden and poor.”
As busy as an elf at the North Pole in July, she penned a 115K “novella” that would hopefully make people sigh. Next she badgered her husband to design a cover extraordinaire, complete with the snow globe from the story and her very own daughter with silky-blonde hair.

Dizzy with excitement, she spun into promotion without a single doubt,
whirling and twirling to tell the world what Christmas was all about.
There were blog tours and interviews till her fingers were sore,
all coinciding with proofing and editing and contests galore.
Facebook and Twitter and blurbs kept her busy,
never as an author had she been in such a tizzy.

And then … t’was the night before release and much to her dismay,
Her nerves were all a flutter—what would the reviewers say?
Worry and hand-wringing over rankings and reviews
stole both her sleep and her joy—would they bring good news?
Good news, bad, it didn’t seem to matter, for in her heart of hearts,
gloom descended with a clatter. Stealing her hope, her joy, her peace all aglow,
Until that magical moment when she saw … a light in the window.

A flicker, a flame, the warmth of a still, small voice,
Take your eyes off Amazon, dear author, for you have much to rejoice.
Your true joy lies not in sales or in the approval of men,
But in the birth of a Savior who redeemed you from sin.
So let His light shine brightly within your window aglow on your sill
To spread the warmth of His love and peace, holy and still
To proclaim the true message of Christmas with all of your might,
That it may be a holy Christmas to all and to all a good night!

Unfortunately, this Christmas story is true, but happily, ends well. You see, it took my own Christmas story—A Light in the Window—to focus my eyes on what Christmas is really all about. Yes, it’s about family and giving and reaching out to others with our love and our faith, but it’s also about receiving. Receiving His grace and His wisdom to focus on Him rather than ourselves.

This “light in the window” came to me via my experience with my own Christmas e-book and a pretty amazing book entitled The Well by Mark Hall, pastor and lead singer for Casting Crowns. You see, my church had been urging each of its 6,000 members to read this book, and once you do, it’s pretty obvious why. Like Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well, He is the only source of “living water,” and to try and draw our confidence, peace, hope and joy from stagnant holes of our own devices will never truly satisfy and only make us sick.

Oh, as Christians, we all talk a good game and most of us even trust God and love Him with a passion most pure (sorry, couldn’t resist!), but when it comes to the source we tap for our hopes, dreams and happiness? I suspect most of us—or at least myself, for sure—dip into stagnant holes of our own choosing to make us feel better rather than drawing our sustenance from the Well of Living Water. These stagnant holes can be anything we run to instead of God—be it food, drink, money, approval, success—you name it—and we may not even be aware of just how much of an idol these things have become. I certainly wasn’t fully aware that I was trying to draw my happiness from success as an author, and yet the more I drank from this stagnant hole, the sicker and weaker I became. Sewer water that almost ruined the joy of the beautiful gift God has given me—the privilege of writing for Him!

Today's Giveaway!


And so my Christmas story ends happily and to celebrate that, I would like to give away a signed paperback copy of any of my books—top winner’s choice. Plus, four additional winners will receive a free e-copy of my latest Christmas novel, A Dream Fulfilled.

So, how is your Christmas season going and what’s your favorite thing about it? Let me know, and you’re entered to win.
And, if it’s too busy to enjoy, let me know that, too, and I’ll pray for you, okay?




BONUS DEAL!
If you haven’t read A Light in the Window or any of my three Christmas novellas—A Whisper of Hope, The Best Gift of All, or The Gift of Grace—do I have a deal for you!

All four are now available in one anthology called A Christmas Stocking Bundle for only 99 cents just for the holidays, so do check it out, okay?




FREE DOWNLOAD!
As a special Christmas gift to those of you who haven’t read my award-winning novel, Isle of Hope, now’s your chance to download it FREE from Dec. 11-13. I am honored to say that Isle of Hope was listed on Family Fiction magazine’s Top 15 Novels of 2015 and currently enjoys a 5-star rating on Amazon with over 262 reviews, so it’s not a dog, I promise! And because it is loosely based on my own dysfunctional relationship with my estranged father and how God healed it, it’s very special to me as well.




Additional Giveaway! 12 TOP-AUTHOR BOOKS & $150 GIFT CARD!

Join me and eleven of your favorite authors for a HOPE FOR THE HOLIDAYS WITH 12 AUTHORS OF CHRISTMAS giveaway! This is your opportunity to chat online with some of your favorite authors—Hannah Alexander, Tamera Alexander, Colleen Coble, Rachel Hauck, Denise Hunter, Robin Lee Hatcher, Cara Putman, Deborah Raney, Katherine Reay, Becky Wade, Beth Vogt, & moi—PLUS a chance to win 12 books and a $150 Amazon card! Winners will not be drawn till December 13th, so you still have a chance to enter. Just check out the following link for all the details and GOOD LUCK!



P.S. As a special giveaway for Seeker friends ONLY, show up tomorrow (Wed., Dec. 12) for my Facebook Live at 2:00 PM CST and leave a comment with the word SEEKERVILLE in it, and you’ll ALSO be eligible to win free e-copies of my two Western novels, For Love of Liberty and Love’s Silver Lining in addition to my FB Live giveaways!





Julie Lessman is an award-winning author whose tagline of “Passion With a Purpose” underscores her intense passion for both God and romance. A lover of all things Irish, she enjoys writing close-knit Irish family sagas that evolve into 3-D love stories: the hero, the heroine, and the God that brings them together.

Author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, Heart of San Francisco, and Isle of Hope series, Julie was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and has garnered over 18 Romance Writers of America and other awards. Voted #1 Romance Author in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards, Julie’s novels also made Family Fiction magazine’s Best of 2015, Best of 2014, and “Essential Christian Romance Authors” 2017, as well as Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction and Borders Best Fiction. Her independent novel A Light in the Window was an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers' Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. Julie has also written a self-help workbook for writers entitled Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Sweet and Inspirational Markets. Contact Julie through her website and read excerpts from each of her books at www.julielessman.com



Seekerville Advent Giveaway

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Missy Tippens


Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.                                           1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)


As we move through the season of Advent, each week we light a candle—representing hope, love, joy, peace. But what if while lighting the candle of hope, we feel hopeless at home or at work or at school? What if while lighting the candle of peace, conflicts rage inside and out?

Sometimes we see the command to rejoice always, and give thanks in all circumstances, and we just can’t wrap our heads around how to do that. When we’re crushed by grief, overwhelmed by responsibilities, or stricken with guilt, how can we give thanks? When we’re rushing around trying to prepare the “perfect” Christmas even while feeling empty inside, how can we pray continually?

The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who lived in a land of deep darkness—on them light has shined...For a child has been born for us, a son given to us; authority rests upon his shoulders; and he is named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.                        Isaiah 9:2, 6 (NRSV)

A child has been born for us—for us!—into all the messiness and craziness of our world. How can we not pray and give thanks? How can we not pause and turn our eyes expectantly to the Christ child this Advent season?

The Prince of Peace has come. 

A gift.

For me. For you.


So let's pause and wait expectantly together in the coming weeks! Let's encourage each other to remember Whom we're celebrating. Do you ever fall into the trap of trying to pull off the perfect Christmas? I'd love to hear how you battle the busyness and remember the true reason for the season: Jesus's birth.


Unlucky in love, police deputy Hardy Greenway has spent his life in the friend zone. But now he’s fallen hard for the girlfriend of his nemesis. Dori Blanchette has been waiting for a proposal from her boyfriend, but how can she say yes when she has feelings for Hardy? With Christmas tree ornaments playing spontaneously and secrets being revealed, there’s no telling who will end up together at Christmas!

Welcome to Dahlia, Georgia, where everyone feels welcome!

Buy here!



Today's Giveaway! I've taken up painting this year and have done a small acrylic painting of an angel to give to one commenter. (Please note this image isn't of the actual prize.This is a painting I did in my Bible journal!) Please let me know in the comments if you'd like to be entered. 



The month-long giveaway!


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If you are not familiar with our giveaway rules, take a minute to read them here. It keeps us all happy! All winners should send their name, address, and phone number to claim prizes.  Note our new email address and please send your emails to Seekerville2@gmail.com







Monday:  Jubileewriter is the winner of a signed copy of Three Christmas Novellas

Tuesday: Myra Johnson returned to Seekerville and talked about Advent traditions. The winners of Hill Country Reunion are Wilani Wahl, MJSH, Cynthia Herron 

Wednesday: Mindy Obenhaus talked about Anticipating Christmas by choosing joy. The winner of her holiday prize package is...Sherrinda Ketchersid!

Thursday: Glynna Kaye reminded us of the beauty of Christmas Eve. The winner of an ecopy of High Country Holiday is Lee-Ann B and the winner of an ecopy of The Pastor's Christmas Courtship is Trixi.

Friday: Leslie Ann Sartor shared the obstacles of writing a Christmas novella. The winner of an ecopy of Dream Of Me This Christmas Eve is Cindy Regnier.



Monday: Is Christmas a tough time for you? Missy Tippens will be talking about how we can remain focused on what's important during the Advent season--the true reason for the season. And she will be giving away an angel painting--original by Missy herself!

Tuesday: Julie Lessman returns to spread Advent cheer with "An Author's Christmas Story" and bookish giveaways!

Wednesday:  Ruth Logan Herne poses the question, "What Makes Advent Special?"

Thursday: Sandra Leesmith celebrates Christmas with us!
  
Friday: Annie will spread Christmas cheer with us today!







A CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR EVERYBODY!

Cowboy Christmas currently free on Kindle and Nook.
Get ready for a fun and suspenseful Christmastime romance. Trouble follows singer Annette Talbot to Wyoming—and rancher Elijah Walker finds himself directly in its path. Though still wounded by the betrayal of his ex-fiancée, Elijah finds himself attracted to the secretive singer. When it appears Annie is a threat to his mother’s life, Elijah must decide if Annie’s deep faith and love of God is genuine or if it’s all just a ruse. He decides to trust her—until he discovers she’s a wanted woman. As Christmas draws near, will Elijah respond to God’s gentle persuasion to find the truth before he loses Annie forever?



AMISH SAFE HOUSE
By Debby Giusti
Hiding in Plain Sight 
The second thrilling story in the 
New Love Inspired Amish Witness Protection continuity!

After Julia Bradford’s son witnesses a gang shooting, hiding in witness protection on Abraham King’s Amish farm is the only hope the Englischer and her children have. Even as danger closes in, Julia is drawn to the community’s peaceful ways—and the ex-cop turned Amish protector. But when their location is discovered, can Abraham protect her family…and possibly have a future by her side?

Pre-order HERE!





Centrello Details Crown Reorg by Jim Milliot at Publishers Weekly.

Tips for Success in 2019 as an Indie Author by Sarra Cannon at An Indie Adventure

Joy Is Important To Success as an Author by Sarra Cannon at Heart Breathings

Organizing Your Writing Life with Trello by MacKenzie Kincaid 

The 10 Biggest Book Marketing Mistakes You Need To Stop Making by David Gaughran at BookBub Partners

Lyrics In Your Books: Your Questions Answered by Scott McCormick at BookBaby Blog







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Guest Leslie Ann Sartor



It’s funny that I pin my hope for the world on the short season of Christmas, but I do. While I try to always offer a smile to anyone who passes by, at this time of year I make it brighter to the harried store clerk, or frazzled family. And I also fervently send up prayers for peace, for mankind to believe that the goodness in each of us should be shared and that war and hate and discrimination are never solutions. Light and love seems more powerful during this season. Let us each light up the world and become the miracle we so believe in. 

It's one of the reasons I wrote a series of novels featuring the holiday season. To give hope to readers and coax a little "magic" into the holiday season. 

And then, I thought writing a Christmas novella would be easy. Short and sweet, piece of cake, walk in the park…you get it. 

Well, not for me.  Dream Of Me This Christmas Eve was turning into a nightmare.
I was sooo keen to start writing Caroline Young’s story because—get this—readers were asking me to write her story. They learned about her in Forever Yours This New Year’s Night, book two of the Star Light ~ Star Bright series, and they wanted more.
Sure, no problem I thought. 


Except that I needed to make the conflict in this 24,000+ word story not as deep as I usually did in my 60,000+ word tomes. And I needed to build the romance and develop the character.

Caro was a wild child growing up in Kansas, now she’s an engineer who designs and builds floats, and she lives and has her company in Pasadena. My hero, Maximillian Henderson III, lives in Boulder and is a second-generation lawyer.

Easy conflict right? Who is going to move where? 

Well, neither can. 

So, as I was pulling out tufts of hair, my buddy Audra came to my rescue. Happily Ever After I asked? How about Happily For Now she responded.  And she suggested that I stop making food their crutch and start making them need each other. Not that yummy sushi I had four paragraphs about them eating. (But I love sushi, I whined.) She just gave me that Audra look.  Okay one paragraph.


I needed to find ways to add in the romance immediately, make the story work and make my readers fall in love with Caro and Max. LET ALONE give cameos to the other characters in the series. 

But you know, with the help of some trusted friends who pointed out a few or many issues, I was able to pull it together by make each scene a bit more intense, choosing my words carefully, putting myself in the character and consciously think about what they’d do and want. 

Word choice was key, along with reminding myself as I wrote (then edited each scene) that this was a short book that still must deliver an emotional pull of the heart-strings. As well as entice the reader to read the other three books in the series. Each scene had to pack in all the above … in less than half the words.

Phew!!





So, it wasn’t an easy learning curve. And you know, I can’t wait to write another one.
Dream of Me This Christmas Eve is the fourth book in the bestselling Star Light ~ Star Bright series.  Book one, Believe In Me This Christmas Night won the prestigious International Digital Award for Contemporary Short. The series has garnered the coveted #1 seller on Amazon, both achievements are dreams come true.

I’ve been asked why the star in the books.  We do have a star on Flagstaff Mountain in Boulder and I recalled a story mom told me about it. She was at a party and one of the neighbors was grousing about the star being too Christian. Mom said she completely disagreed.  That no matter your faith, the star represented the feeling of hope, the promise of the new day, the talisman of looking forward. 


Amazon



Merry Christmas to you all.

PS. One commenter will receive Dream Of Me This Christmas Eve as an e-book.





I started writing as a child, really. A few things happened on the way to becoming a published author … specifically, a junior high school teacher who told me I couldn’t write because I didn’t want to study … urk … grammar…

That English teacher stopped my writing for years.  But the muse couldn’t be denied, and eventually I wrote, a lot, some of it award winning. However, I wasn’t really making a career from any of this.

My husband told me repeatedly that independent publishing was becoming a valid way to publish a novel. I didn’t believe him even after he showed me several Wall Street Journal articles. I thought indie meant vanity press. 

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I started pursuing this direction seriously, hit the keyboard, learned a litany of new things and published my first novel. My second book became a bestseller, and I’m absolutely on the right course in my life.


Please come visit me at www.lasartor.com, see my books, find my social media links, and sign up for my mailing list. I have a gift I’ve specifically created for my new email subscribers. And remember, you can email me at Leslie@LeslieSartor.com  

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O come, O come, Emmanuel,

And ransom captive Israel,

That mourns in lonely exile here,

Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel

Shall come to thee, O Israel.


How I love that old hymn! The words (centuries old). The tune (dating to 15th century France). It so well captures the longing of the ancient Israelites for the coming of a promised Messiah . . . and our longing for His return. 

Emmanuel. God with Us.

On Christmas Eve, I like to slip outside after dark for a few quiet moments alone with God, and this hymn often plays through my mind.

The night might be starry or thick with heavy clouds or filled with dancing snowflakes—but there’s always a sense of anticipation, an almost magical hush, a wonderful stillness to the night. It’s as if the whole of mankind is pausing from its frantic, noisy gyrations to listen for “the still, small voice" of God as our souls yearn for a deeper connection with our Creator.

During those quiet, thankful moments spent reflecting on the gift of God’s Son, I never fail to feel His presence and His peace.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

During the coming days as Christmas approaches, commit to deliberately set aside a few minutes daily to reflect on the momentous gift we were given 2,000 years ago—a bridge to our Heavenly Father through His Son Jesus Christ. And the assurance that He will return and fulfill the promises made to us, God’s children.

Today please share with us what makes YOUR Christmas Eve special--what draws you closer to Emmanuel? Do you attend worship services? Gather with family or friends? Read the Christmas story? Listen to songs of reverent and joyful celebration?

To celebrate this advent season, I’m giving away a copy of two of my earlier Love Inspired Christmas releases on Kindle – High Country Holiday and The Pastor’s Christmas Courtship! If you'd like to be entered for a chance to win, mention it in the comments section!

Wishing all of you a beautifully meaningful Christmas!
Glynna


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Merry Christmas, Seekerville! 

I love that we are celebrating this season of Advent, because Advent is about anticipation. Anticipating the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. So while I had planned to talk about some of my favorite Christmas traditions, I decided to pause on this instead.

Have you ever wondered why some radio stations start playing Christmas music before Thanksgiving? Or why Hallmark begins airing holiday movies before Halloween?

Some would say it’s all about sales and money, but I prefer to think of it as building the anticipation. When I watch those Christmas movies on October 29th, I’m chomping at the bit to pull out the tinsel and twinkling lights. Now granted, not everyone is going to feel that way. There are those who actually dread Christmas for a variety of reasons. Some will be facing their first holiday season without a precious loved one. Others stress over gifts and money or complain that Christmas has become too commercial.

So where’s the joy?

Joy is more than a feeling. Joy is a choice. Whether you have plenty or little, you can choose to be joyful. You can be surrounded by loved ones or all alone and still choose joy.

Why?


Because Jesus is our joy. He has promised that He will never leave us or forsake us. Jesus, the King of kings, born in a humble stable. Today, His birthday is the biggest celebration of the year. That alone should bring us joy.

So if you find yourself feeling stressed out this holiday season, stop and remember the reason for the season. Then choose joy. 

I’d love to send you a little bit of Christmas cheer. So I’m giving one lucky commenter a holiday prize package containing a handcrafted ornament, my favorite holiday scent packet and a daily devotional celebrating the season of Advent.

Before I go, though, I have one other thing I’d like to share with all of you. The cover for my April release, Her Colorado Cowboy, hot off the presses.



Lassoing the single mom’s heart…
A Rocky Mountain Heroes story

Socialite Lily Davis agrees to take her children riding…despite her fear of horses. But now widowed cowboy Noah Stephens is determined to help her get comfortable in the saddle. And, at her children’s insistence, Lily finds herself promoting his rodeo school. As Noah and Lily work together, will Noah continue to shield his heart…or can they discover a love that conquers both their fears?
I love it. My first cowboy cover. He’s a handsome cowboy, indeed.

Okay, now it’s your turn. Do you anticipate Christmas? Do you look at the coming holiday season with joy or dread? Most of all, I’d like to know what’s your favorite part of Christmas? What brings you joy?





Three-time Carol Award nominee, Mindy Obenhaus, writes contemporary romance for Love Inspired Books. She’s passionate about touching readers with Biblical truths in an entertaining, and sometimes adventurous, manner. When she’s not writing, she enjoys cooking and spending time with her grandchildren at her Texas ranch. Learn more at www.MindyObenhaus.com








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By Myra Johnson

Hello, Seekerville! Hard to believe almost a whole year has gone by since my retirement from the blog! This has definitely been a year of change and adjustment. My “One Word” for 2018 was NEW, and I chose two focus verses:
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.(Isaiah 43:19, NIV)

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17, NKJV)


Waiting to see what new thing God has in store for our lives can be both scary and exhilarating! His plans may not always match up with what we would have chosen for ourselves, but we can rest in full confidence that God desires only our highest good.

The season of Advent is a time of watching and waiting in hope and expectation of God’s promises fulfilled. In the Lutheran worship tradition, on each of the four Sundays before Christmas, we light a candle in the Advent wreath and sing “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” adding one more verse each Sunday. Instead of the familiar Christmas carols they’ve been playing on the radio since before Thanksgiving, the hymns we sing during Advent all speak of our anticipation of Christ’s coming. Then at our Christmas Eve candlelight services, the sanctuary echoes with many favorite Christmas carols in a joyous celebration of music and praise!

This Advent season, as you reflect on the Lord’s promises and anticipate His coming again in glory, may you know the peace and joy that comes from faithfully waiting in Christ.

What does the season of Advent mean to you? Are there any special traditions you follow at this time of year?

If you haven’t read my latest Love Inspired romance, Hill Country Reunion, let me know in the comments if you’d like to be included in the drawing. I have three copies up for grabs!
Click to Buy


If you’d like to learn more about Advent, here are some resources:

6 Advent traditions you may not have heard of

Why the Wreath

With the lighting of one candle, it begins

Lutheran Advent Traditions

Myra Johnson writes emotionally gripping stories about love, life, and faith. She’s currently at work on a new Love Inspired mini-series, Hill Country Haven, with returning characters from Her Hill Country Cowboy and Hill Country Reunion. The first book in the series, The Rancher’s Redemption, is slated for a May 2019 release.

Myra is a three-time Maggie Awards finalist, two-time finalist for the prestigious ACFW Carol Awards, winner of Christian Retailing’s Best for historical fiction, and winner in the Inspirational category of the National Excellence in Romance Fiction Awards. Originally from Texas but currently residing in the beautiful Carolinas, Myra and her husband love the climate and scenery, but they may never get used to the pulled pork Carolinians call “barbecue”! The Johnsons share their home with two very pampered rescue dogs who don’t always understand the meaning of “Mom’s trying to write.” They’ve also inherited the cute little cat (complete with attitude) their daughter and family had to leave behind when they moved overseas.









Sign up to receive Myra’s e-news updates here!


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