Friday, September 19, 2008

My Christmas Book, Gift Basket Prize


(Leafwood Publishers, October 2008)

A wonderful new gift book, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, is available in October for Christmas giving. Today, I’ve invited the six coauthors to share their unique story of how they came together to publish this exciting book full of stories, recipes, tips for simplifying the holidays and so much more (click on bookcover to see the trailer!). Leave a comment on this post to enter to win a deluxe Christmas gift basket.

First, let me introduce Cathy Messecar, Leslie Wilson, Brenda Nixon, Trish Berg, Terra Hangen and Karen Robbins. Thank you for being here today, ladies.

Karen: Thank you for the invitation.

You are from three different areas of the country—Texas, California, and Ohio. How did you all meet?

Terra: We all six joined The Writers View, an online group for professional Christian writers. Trish and Brenda met in person in 2004 for lunch, I understand, and on 9/18/04, after reading a post Brenda sent to TWV, I sent an email to Brenda, asking if she would like to join with me and walk alongside each other, as a Barnabas group. Brenda said yes that same day, and suggested Trish too. Very quickly Cathy, Leslie and Karen joined in and our stalwart band of six was formed. Living in California, I was so happy to find 5 Barnabas writers in other states so we could bring together a wealth of different viewpoints and expertise

Brenda: Actually, We haven’t met. We’re all great colleagues and friends via the internet. Four years ago Terra and I formed a dyad to support each other as Christians who write in the secular markets. Along came Trish, Cathy, Karen, and Leslie (not necessarily in that order) and we formed a close knit bond of support, creative energy, and professional accountability.

Karen: I met Trish through an online forum called The Writers View and she invited me to join the group.

Trish: Although we belong to the same Yahoo writing group, we met one by one online. Eventually, the six of us decided that since we all write as Christians for a secular market through magazine articles and newspaper columns, we could support and encourage one another.

Leslie: Though we met virtually through The Writers View, I have been blessed to give and get hugs from Trish (at a MOPS conference), Cathy (in the area on business) and Karen (in town for a writers' conference). I can’t wait to meet Terra and Brenda face-to-face, though I feel as though I already know them!

How did you come up with the idea to do a book together?

Brenda: The book is Cathy’s brainchild. She mentioned the concept of telling stories of events that happened for the first time at Christmas and sharing holiday historical tidbits and recipes and each said, “If you need any help, let me know.” That offer morphed into each of us equally contributing and co-authoring A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts.

Trish: Yep, Cathy came up with the idea and the title, and asked us if we wanted to join her on this project. Of course, we said Yes!

Terra: Cathy mentioned the idea for a Christmas book to the group, and someone (I think it was Leslie) suggested that maybe our group could all write the book together. Cathy agreed to lead the way on the project. The earliest email I have on this is from 9/7/05, which shows that this has been a three year collaboration from idea to publication.

Karen: (Chuckling) Terra is a librarian and keeps our historical records by saving our e-mails.

Leslie: Actually, Terra, I wrote that comment (in a group e-mail) kind of tongue-in-cheek. Cathy, the ultra-sweet person she is, took my joking at face value and here we are. However, I believe God prompted the passion and ideas we all bring to the project and that He will do mighty things as a result of our collaboration!

Why did you decide on a Christmas theme?

Brenda: It was Cathy’s concept to write a book centering on Christmas.

Cathy: For several years, I’d been thinking about Christmas as a threshold to introduce Jesus to folks who aren’t familiar with him, and I love a simpler Christmas with the emphasis on family, friends and doing for others. I knew of some families who had experienced “firsts” at Christmas—reunions, losses, special surprises—and I wanted to collect those stories.

Terra: Cathy’s idea immediately resonated with me because Christmas books are “a way past watchful dragons,” as C. S. Lewis wrote. Many people won’t buy a book about being a Christian, but will buy a holiday and family fun book, thus the “past watchful dragons.” People who want to grow in their faith, and people who have no faith but celebrate Christmas will buy our book and hopefully be led to put the focus back on Christ for the holiday, and for their lives.

Leslie: Though Cathy birthed the idea, the rest of us quickly hopped on board. Not only is Christmas special to me—especially now that I have a family of my own—but also that particular holiday cries out to be simplified, to return to the meaningful aspects of celebration, and to lose some of the hype and commercialism.

Tell me a little about what is in A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts? What is your favorite part?

Cathy: I like that you can read one chapter in about 15 minutes and, with all the different suggestions, it feels like Christmas Eve. Makes you want to set up the nativity! Many of the suggestions for family activities can be adapted for any family get-together.

Karen: There are heartwarming stories about things that happened for the first time at Christmas. For instance, one of my stories is about the first Christmas with our adopted children. And the book is pretty. When I first saw the colorful pages and drawings, I fell in love with the illustrator’s work.

Brenda: I don’t have a favorite part – I love it all!

Terra: I like the way the parts are woven into a seamless whole, like a patchwork quilt, that is stronger and more beautiful than the parts.

Trish: It’s like everything you ever wanted to know about Christmas, all the best tips and recipes, and neat stories all wrapped up in this perfect little package.

Leslie: I love reading the special stories, hints, recipes—whatever—and imagining the precious family time that precipitated each moment. Plus, the book is gorgeous, beautifully printed, truly something to be proud of. And we are.

I’ve heard that the book is really a nice gift book; can you tell me a little about the format?

Cathy: Yes, it’s a hardbound book, full color interior. The layout makes it easy to read. It has a definite scrapbooky look on the interior. Different logos identify sections, such as an oilcloth-look Christmas stocking appears beside the “Stocking Stuffer Tradition” (help for connecting family members), and the “Cookie Canister” recipes are on a recipe card, and the back ground of “A Gift For You” is a gift box with bow. It’s a classy gift that they can be placed on a coffee table or in a guest bedroom during the holiday season.

Brenda: I like to describe it as a Starbuck’s sorta gift book. It’s high quality, crisp, and practical.

With six different personalities and areas of ministry, how did you manage to put this all together and still remain friends?

Karen: We pray a lot for each other and it helps that none of us have an over-inflated ego.

Cathy: There were no squabbles. Surely, we had differing opinions, but we knew that any of us could suggest an idea for this book and that each idea would get fair reviews from others. We actually voted on some aspects—everyone in favor say, “Aye.” If you’ve ever watched women at a Dutch treat luncheon when they divide up a meal ticket, it can be intense as they split the ticket down to the penny. As the project came together, I was in awe of my gracious coauthors, unselfish women who respect each other.
For some decisions, we did a round robin—things like book title and chapter titles and what categories to put into the book. Then, as compiler, I’d send out a list of needs to The Word Quilters, that’s what we call ourselves. For instance in a section we call “Peppermints for Little Ones” (hints for children’s activities), I’d put out a call, and the WQs sent in their hints, and then I put them into appropriate chapters.

Brenda: (Smiling) Are we still friends? Seriously, we each have our own platform, ministry, and family life, and those interests kept this project in perspective – it was important but not the only thing on our plates. No one was so enmeshed in this project that she campaigned for her own way. We never had a bitter disagreement or insistence to be “right.”

Terra: We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders.We offer support and ideas for our separate writing projects and for personal prayer requests. I love these ladies, and I have only met one of them in person. So far, Karen is the only one who has met each of us, and one day we hope to meet in person, in a circle of friendship and love.

Trish: I think we are all very flexible and forgiving. We do have a variety of personalities here, but God has worked amazing things through our little group.

Leslie: Though I have seven non-fiction projects in various stages of completion, I could not be more thankful that this is the one to reach publication first. I am truly blessed to have worked with these women, learned from them, watched as they’ve poured heart and soul into crafting a product that will impact lives for the Lord.

Where can my readers get a copy of SOCF?

Cathy: The coauthors will all have a supply, plus our publisher, Leafwood Publishers, will have plenty of copies and discounts for buying five or more. Or they can be ordered at most online stores or by your local bookstore.

Karen: And anyone who leaves a comment here can be entered in a drawing for a free book and a gift basket worth $200! For a list of its contents, check our blog, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts. And while you're there, leave another comment and increase your chances of winning!

Tell me more about your blog.

Karen: We started our blog in July and it is accumulating a wealth of information about Christmas. Each of us posts one day a week following the theme for that week. Watch for new recipes, tips, ways to simplify, stories, etc., similar to what is in our book.

Leslie: Ooh, ooh, let me answer this one. I’m probably the newest to blogging among the group, but I LOVE it. I’ve enjoyed posting and receiving comments back from readers. What an amazing adventure having an online voice can be! This blog will focus on a different theme each week—anything from tips to avoid overeating during the holidays to how to give a guest room special touches—and expand on the material in the book. I think readers will get to know the authors’ individual personalities and connect on a more personal level. Plus, they get that many more ideas, information, inspiration (!) at no additional cost.

WQs: As an added bonus for inviting us to your blog, we’d like to pass along this Christmas tidbit to you and your readers:

Enjoy a blessed Christmas this year! And thanks for inviting us to share our book, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, with you.

Everyone who leaves a comment here on this post, will be entered to win the Christmas Gift Basket, valued at $200, all goodies chosen with love.


Karen said...

Terra, I'm so excited to be on this blog tour with you! Thanks for sharing!

Patterson's page said...

Sounds like a great project that you have all come together on! Please enter me in the gift basket draw.

Catherine Patterson

Karyn said...

The book looks wonderful and I look forward to getting it! I love Christmas books :)

mommy2twindaughters said...

I can't wait to get my hands on the book! I love Christmas and I am hoping my daughters will love it too. I am thinking of some traditions I can start with my girls!

Crystal Laine Miller said...

Wow, how did I miss you folks when they were passing out Barnabas groups? God had a plan for you all, evidently. This is a fabulous contest.

Can I get you on my blog at Chat 'n' Chew Cafe'? Or if you want to get nostalgic, When I Was Just a Kid? (We could do Christmas memories!) Fun book.

Enter me! mrsinewaTG [at] aol dot com

windycindy said...

I love reading how the four of you managed to put this wonderful book all together. Amazing! Cindi

windycindy said...

The six of you. By now, I should have the number of your wonderful ladies memorized! Cindi

Lacresha on Writing, Women and Wisdom said...

Hi Terra and all. I think its wonderful how you guys all became friends. I dream of one day meeting my best online friends in person. I had an "Awwwww" moment when I read your post. LOL!

The book looks wonderful. Glad you brought my attention to it.

Morgan Mandel said...

Great concept. The book looks beautiful.

Morgan Mandel

Chris Redding said...

I love anything about Christmas. This sounds like a great gift to for teachers so I may have to buy more than one.
Good luck on it's success.

Cathy Messecar said...

Hey, Terra, nice posting. Of course, I like it! We're still without power this Saturday morning. Last Saturday Hurricane Ike was making the 100 foot pine trees sway and bend like they were soda straws. I'm extremely grateful for the calm this peaceful Saturday.

The folks across the street have electric power and my neighbors to the north, maybe we'll be "turned on" today....hoping for Edison's invention...soon...Cathy

Anonymous said...

This is totally awesome. I have dabbled in the scrapbooking thing and I have a friend who is much more prolfic in it. She has two small children and is a beautifully spiritual person. I can't wait to see her face when she opens her Christmas present from me this year. ;)

Thanks for the inspiration.

Karen Syed

Anonymous said...

Terra, I think your blog is so unique!
I wanted to share with you that Martha is having a blog contest. Perhaps you'd like to join in!

You can read about it HEREand post a comment.
Have fun!

Marisa Le'rin Salas said...

I look forwar to getting the new book! Please enter me in for the gift basket. It looks lovely, living here is Arizona, a basket like that would be a treat to have, to "pretend" that I can get cozy with a blanky and read.

photoquest said...

What a beautiful book and Christmas basket.

*** Kelly Maria said...

What a wonderful Book!!
Love to be apart of the gift basket giveaway.

Speaking of giveaways.....
In the Spirit of Autumn Bliss I would like to invite you to my Autumn Giveaway!!

Beautiful Blessings~Kelly Maria

~The Robin's Nest~ said...

Thanks Terra for coming to my blog~ I am so excited to read more about your book! How very wonderful for all 6 of you ladies! I've been wanting to write a craft book for years called "The Robin's Nest Country Christmas" I have many ideas but didn't know where to start. So I will be coming here and reading your blog and learning more. What a blessing. I can't wait for your book to come out in October! What a blessing!

Princess Of Pink said...

Would love to be entered in the gift basket draw.
Interesting interview that was, BTW!!
I love Christmas books

Hugs from Marian

Raquel said...

Count me in, that looks fabulous! Much love, Raquel XO

Cindy said...

This books sounds really good. I love christmas and everthing to do with Christmas. Please count me in on this prize.


Jean said...

The book sounds wonderful. Christmas is a magical time and I look forward to it. Please enter me in your drawing.
Jean in Virginia

Heth said...

Thank you so much for signing my blog and introducing me to your wonderful blog and information on the upcoming book! I absolutely love it!!!

*Heth* said...

I can't wait to read this book!

I did want to make sure you knew about the contest because you commented on one of my farming posts but not the contest post. I think you'd want in on the contest, too!

I write for GRIT magazine and but I've never heard of Hobby Farms Magazine. I'm off to check it out. Thank you for your very sweet comment. Your compliment made my day!!!


Pearl said...

Ohhh my! This book is just so exciting for all of you... I look forward to seeing it! Please toss my name into the hat for a chance to win your awesome give~away!

Much success to you with the book...


Abi said...

Love to win this basket of surprises.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Anonymous said...

Wow! What a generous giveaway! THank you for entering me in this please- I am so glad I came across your blog- looking forward to reading the past posts- so gotta go!!

blessings to you


Tranquility said...

How exciting - I can hardly wait to it pick up a copy!

Elizabeth said...

I love the teamwork between all of you. It's amazing at what a tool the internet can be - even in God's hands. Your book looks very tempting...


©Hotbutton Press said...

Just jumped straight over from Twitter. I thought the book was only about scrapbooking - am pleased to learn it's about Christmas which is my very favorite holiday. I'm already starting to read Christmas novels - how's that for getting in the spirit early?


Ruth said...

Ooh, please enter me! I really enjoyed the interview. What a great collaborative effort!

Cami said...

I know hearts and souls were poured into this book. Congratulations. Sending best wishes and a big thank you for telling us all about the collaboration.

L.L. Barkat said...

Terrific cover. Congratulations.