Thursday, October 10, 2013

Christmas Eve and Other Stories and How to Write Them!

Ruthy here, and we're talking about Christmas stories today. There is a reason that Christmas stories
traditionally outsell others...
People love them.

There is a reason that Hallmark Channel puts on a different new Christmas movie/night for 30 days... because people love them.

And raise your hand if you have holiday favorites!

(raised hand high, waving for attention, of course!!!!)  Most of us do.

So what are the elements that draw us in for the most endearing Christmas stories?

The Four "R's":

Reflection, redemption, renewal and reward.


Are you familiar with TSO? Their music? Their stories set to music?

TSO is famous for its Christmas rock operas, stories set to music, imagery, majesty, crescendo, pianissimo, whispers, shouts, gamuts of expressionism... Their "Lost Christmas Eve" CD was what formed the image of Conor Bradstreet in my head, the hero of my first independent release "Try, Try Again"...

The vision of this rich man lamenting the lights of the holiday and the light of faith, turning his back on the holiness of a Virgin birth because it takes him back to a birth gone amok, a child left deformed, a young mother gone too soon.

Oh, too soon.

And that's what a good Christmas story does, it wraps the wonder of that first Christmas around you, choke-holding your heart, the thought of a baby, a tiny babe, born in the squalor of a stable, because no matter how sweetly we doll it up on a greeting card, a stable is the lowliest of lows... but safe. Quiet. Dark. Unsought,  unfound except in dire need.

The music from this album and TSO's "A Christmas Attic" shaped the storyline for "Try, Try Again" and it embodied "reflection" in the loss of a child and a new child coming into the family... Redemption in the form of Conor's new spirit of giving from his heart and not just his pocketbook... Renewal in Alicia's soul as it unwound in a tight spiral of outspoken anger, fermenting over time. And reward in the second chance of new life, old love.

So this is what you GRAB HOLD OF when you want to write a Christmas story, what writers everywhere have known and used and lauded and shared... the miracle of faith restored, life renewed.

Dickens' "A Christmas Carol" must be the reigning king of the Christmas story, known internationally and withstanding the test of time, a story of a greedy, terse man's redemption, his second chance, God's olive branch extended if Scrooge will only grab hold... hang on. And change.

The Muppet Christmas Carol is my favorite rendition of this Dickens' classic. Go ahead. Laugh. But I love it!

Trailer For Muppet Christmas Carol!!!!!
Frank Capra's "It's a Wonderful Life" is a Blodgett/Herne family favorite because the viewer desperately wants George Bailey rewarded for his integrity, for his honesty, for the sacrifices he's made for so long... But who among us hasn't reached for something in desperation, wishing and praying things would get better?  Capra's story touches the "normal" within us, his moral premise highlighting George's goodness with Mr. Potter's greed and lust for total world domination before that became a buzz-phrase. George represents the good in the world and we want that goodness rewarded.

The hero's reward becomes your readers' reward. (Vince Mooney will love that!!!!)

I could cite you many more good examples, but there's only so many hours in the day and you've probably all seen or read the gamut, so let's keep this simple:

Reflective plots for Christmas: Plots involving babies, small children, loss, lack of funds, darkness, hidden, unplanned pregnancy, single mothers, fathers overwhelmed by the task at hand, sacrificial love, putting others first.... If you gently dissect the Christmas story, you can take snippets from that to create a new story, reflective of the first Christmas. And that's a big draw to people's hearts (and editors) at Christmas.

Redemptive plots for Christmas:  Guilt, forgiveness, grudges, abandonment, anger, shunning, loss of faith, desertion, wrath.  Anne Tyler's "Saint Maybe" is one of my favorites of this style. "A Christmas Carol" would fall into this grouping. My upcoming Kirkwood Lake book "The Lawman's Holiday Wish" splits itself between reflective and redemptive and reward....  And I'm giving away a few copies today, so you can win it before you can buy it and see for yourselves... Because I love youse, that's why.  :)

I love this cover. It looks like a Ruthy-cover, doesn't it??? The lights of the house, the snow, cute kids... It doesn't show you the MESS THOSE KIDS MADE INSIDE.... Uh, uh... Because right now, we're not thinking about picking up shoes and sweeping up sprinkles and vacuuming glitter. We're thinking Aww... and Happily Ever After.  :)
Renewal plots for Christmas: Coming home, finding faith, finding family, reunion stories, new hope, new child, analogy of coming into the light, starting over, starting again, rebuilding, communities coming together to help one another. "Red Kettle Christmas", my just-released historical novella from Summerside Press falls primarily into this category. And yes, you can buy it HERE!!!!  :)  (Come on, you knew I'd give you the link at least once, right? And it just got 4-STARS from Romantic Times, so it's really a delightful pair of stories for one price, a "two-fer"!)

Reward plots for Christmas: Money isn't everything, Spirit above want, need above greed, putting others first, self-sacrifice for others, self-sacrifice for the good of the whole (soldier stories fit this niche nicely), self-realization/awareness, replacing pride with humility. (Richard Paul Evans "The Christmas Box" is a great example of this one, the young father finally understanding that the first gift of Christmas was a child).

I think the best stories embrace more than one of these and that works well for Christmas because people expect it to be the Season of Miracles. But that kind of story also examines the human side of Christmas, the frailty of the human condition, our penchant for sin because it's just darn easy to mess up... and we love to see the story unfold to show us any one or more of the "R's", because we identify with them.

Using the four "R's" in story-building helps me to lock in a Moral Premise, an organic depth to the story that kind of (hopefully!!!) rises from the narrow beginnings into an expanding property, like the Biblical analogy of grains of wheat, sprouting and working together to form a field... One grain feeds little... but left to grow, it blossoms and fruits and spreads. And that's how I like a story to grow....

And at Christmas time, the beautiful story of the first Christmas offers all the story elements we'll ever need.

Hey, come on in, let's chat about whatever you'd like!!! AND... I'm giving away a few copies of both Christmas books today, Love Finds You in the City at Christmas and The Lawman's Second Chance...

And they let me put a great Tres Leche cake recipe in "The Lawman's Second Chance" so can you imagine the fun Mandy and I had developing this recipe??? And the pounds we gained????  :)

Leaving a comment gets your name put in the cat dish for my books today... and also into the weekly drawing for wonderful birthday bash stuff!!!! (Delves into bag to discern weekly prize....)

Ah, yes!!!  :)


I'll bring coffee is Helen doesn't stop by, but if she does, grab a cuppa, there's homemade pumpkin roll with chocolate chips and cream cheese frosting, help yourselves...

Let's chat!



  2. ruthy you need a winter picture for this and other winter releases.
    Get a coat with a fur neck or maybe a hood, dropped back.

    C'mon girl. You write a Christmas book nearly every year. Go slap a parka on and try to look like it's brisk. Maybe you could do an action shot, blowing on a cup of hot chocolate.

    You need me, Ruthy. Advice I mean.

    You're welcome.

  3. I am actually put off by holiday books. . . . *ducking from the tomatoes Ruthy is throwing at me* Maybe because I feel that I can't read or reread them whenever I want? Like, I do have some favorite holiday movies Holiday Inn, Easter Parade, White Christmas...but I only pull them out at holidays and if I'm too busy?? Well then I have to wait another year!

    Maybe that's just entirely silly, but my mind just rebels at reading Christmas on the Fourth of July.

    I don't mind if there are holidays in them, but if the cover says "This is a Christmas book" then I obey and figure it's only a Christmas book.

  4. At least it wasn't on a park bench!

    Oh Ruthy, I do adore Christmas stories. You're so prolific!! Amazing what you get out there and so well!

    Congrats with all your successes. Well deserved!!

    Thanks too for the examples. I like examples. :)

  5. When I began tap tapping on the iPhone, my comment was just under Mary's first neener neener one. I'm soooo slow on this.

  6. okay, im up wayyyyyyy too late. i was trying to finish a 1000 word challenge over at eHarl before deadline. i think i barely snuck it in. my laptop keyboard isn't working and hubby's wireless keyboard is twitchy.

    anyhoo, will save the coffee for the work break when i come back and read comments and comment more intelligently.

    i do love Christmas stories. but i'm sorta with Melissa on the don't read Christmas story in July. Just doesn't seem right.

    okay. off to bed. later folks!

  7. Great tips for writing a Christmas story, Ruthie. A Muppet Christmas Carol is my favorite holiday movie, too. We watch it every year and I still crack up at Rizzo the Rat! I'll take some of that pumpkin roll and coffee. Can you make mine a hot latte with whipped cream on top? Throw my name in the cat dish, too. Would love to win a Kindle version of one of your Christmas books. (Printing out this post for when I write my Great American Christmas Novel)

  8. Wait - I just saw that "Red Kettle Christmas" was published by Summerside Press. They're the "Love Finds You" publishers, right? I thought they closed down that imprint????

  9. I am very much the type of person who likes to save my Christmas books for the Christmas season. I love reading them when everything around me feels and sounds like Christmas! And I love when you find a Christmas story that you love so much you reread it every year for Christmas and it turns into an awesome memory! For me that book is Cowboy Christmas a novella collection by Catherine Palmer, Linda Goodnight, and Lisa Harris. I haven't gotten to it the last two Christmases but I am determined to read it this year!

  10. I do need a winter picture. In lieu of that I put up a winter snowscape/Christmas church... but you're right Mary... Only you need to come to upstate and TAKE THE PIC.

    Clearly I cannot do that! :) Maybe when the snow flies I'll grab out the fun scarf I have and put on a coat and pretend I'm cool. It will be a S-T-R-E-T-C-H!!!! :)

    Melissa, I get it completely! And why waste tomatoes, darling??? Waste not, want not. Tsk, tsk. :)

    But I love Christmas stories, just love the sentimentality of them and I do occasionally pull them out out of season that is when there was time to read at leisure... BUT having said that, they are my reward to myself at Christmas time. Like watching a movie at the end of the year, or allowing time for a re-screening of Colin Firth in P&P once each winter, my Mini-Reward system jumps into place and I reward myself with a book or a movie if I've gotten through my list of things I want to get done. I've always done that, ever since I was a kid... and I have no idea where that urge came from but it works for me and then...

    OH, MELISSA, THEN!!!! I can read or watch a movie and not feel guilty and since I love Christmas movies and books, I'm HAPPY DANCING IN DECEMBER!!!!!


    That's the sap within, no doubt! And maybe it helps that the snow flies long and deep here from December into March, so that escape makes me smile! And are you snuggling that sweet, sweet baby for his Auntie Roofie?????? You tell him we are just loving him THIS MUCH and I'd say I've been snuggling Finn but that is NOT TRUE... Dagnabbit. I took over pre-schooler and toddler detail, leaving Bethie to take care of Finn because she had some healing to do...

    I am in baby deprivation mode. But SOON!!!!! :)

  11. I loved your post Ruthy! I am a BIG fan of Christmas books! I love the feeling Christmas evokes every year and why not enjoy that feeling all year round? If I could read a Christmas book every day I would be extremely happy. But then I love reading my other books too!

    I have too many Christmas movie favorites to name them all. One movie most people probably have never heard of is SAY ONE FOR ME and the song "The Secret of Christmas" sung by Bing Crosby is beautiful and tells a story in itself. Try googling it on YouTube and you'll find the clip from the movie. Listen to the words. Powerful.

    Have a blessed day today everyone!
    Ruthy - love BOTH book covers and would love to have my name tossed in the cat dish. :)

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

  12. K.C. and May, Thank you!!!!!!

    :) Big Ruthy grin!

    I love examples, too, KC, just going through those lists helps me to see where I can deepen a story or add to the conflict... and therefore add a measure of poignancy.

    And I Love Christmas Stories!!!

    (I think I said that already.) :)

    Deb, good morning/evening/whatever!!!!

    I think most of us like Christmas stories at Christmas but for me that starts somewhere in October once the cold weather hits... I don't have to wait until December to enjoy them, way toooooo busy, right? But now, with crisp, cool nights and the occasional fire? Perfect for relaxing into a holiday story...

  13. Connealy!!! You got Love Finds You in the City at Christmas with "Red Kettle Christmas"?????

    Oh, you will have to tell me what you think of it, my first historical!!!! I had so much fun transporting myself into 1947! What a hoot to envision things the way they were... I had so much fun doing that, a neat change-of-pace and time!

  14. Cindy W., you're in! I have heard of that movie but don't think I've ever seen it... will check it out, I wonder if it's on Netflix????

    Nope, not on Amazon Prime, either. Gotta order a DVD which they MAKE ON DEMAND when you order it... That sounds kind of sketchy, right? But then I guess no different than ordering a book on demand print????

    I've never seen that before! New to me, DVD's on demand!


  15. And I was so sad to see them close their doors this past summer. It was delightful working with Rachel Meisel and JoAnne Simmons (my editors on Red Kettle Christmas), the entire experience was positive and good... We might be their last book...

    Isn't that so stinkin' sad????

    The good news is that I haven't put Love Inspired out of business yet, they're thriving and expanding and we'll keep writing those delightful sweet books because it thrills this former poor kid from the wrong side of the tracks that folks can spend about $5 and buy a great book...

    That means a great deal to me!

  16. Abbi Hart, yes, yes, and yes!!!

    Honestly, my big push right now that our new addition is nearly complete is to RECLAIM MY DINING ROOM...

    Why? We don't eat in there except on holidays...


    What a dork, right? A total nerd!!!! But I can't wait to see lights in the clean windows (shoot just to have clean windows is a thrill around here!) and some kind of fun green stuff strung through the overhead light and little cute ornaments hanging from the window panes....


    Color me crazy, but how fun does that sound?????

  17. I love christmas books although last year most seems to have the same issue the death of a mother, wife,etc. I remember reading Mary's at the cricket and crying at the scene where the little boy couldn't remember what his mother looked like. while I could remember what mum looks like I couldn't remember her voice and I could feel for the little boy. then a couple days later at the cricket I was crying cos the hero was remembering past christmas's with his mother and there was something he remembered that reminded me of mum and how it would my first christmas without her. Then it seemed every christmas book had the same theme. So far this year the 2 I have read dont have that issue!

    I need some aussies to write christmas stories! or a Hawaiian christmas story.

    I can read Christmas books at any time of the year. I tend to read more in Nov - Jan but have read one and on the second one now. But dont want to think of Christmas yet. I know its going to be a tough Christmas in many ways.

    Saw the dr today shes put me on a new medication which I start tonight. She suggested seeing the dentist and optometrist to rule out issues there and to see the physio for maybe acupuncture. (nothing can be easy or cheap).

  18. I just purchased the love find me in book for the kindle. I love my kindle. of course the way im reading it may be 2045 before I get it read.

    Got Debby's latest in the post from the Book Depository today So excited Im loving suspense this year.

  19. Oh, Jenny, praying for your full recovery. GRRRRRR!!!!! I'm so sorry that you're having continuing issues. You hang in there while you read "Red Kettle Christmas" and "Manhattan Miracle" the two WONDERFUL STORIES (big grin!!!!) in Love Finds You in the City at Christmas.


    Thank you so much for buying it, oh my stars, you rock, woman! And I'm just covering you with prayers because you have to be better to help with our January Virtual Retreat Down Under! Get better!!!!

  20. I love Christmas stories and read them year round. Yes, I watch the Hallmark movies in July thanks to the DVR. *big grin at Melissa.

    Ruthy, Red Kettle Christmas is on my TBR list. I love the title by the way.

    Am I the only person in the world who doesn't like "It's a Wonderful Life"? I had to force myself to finish the movie. Once. Never again.

  21. As much as readers love reading Christmas books, I love writing them! With so many wonderful themes to choose from, some of my work has already been done by generations of talented storytellers. These plots are familiar and resonate with lots of people, so writers basically can't go wrong. Pick a couple, re-spin the traditional, and see what happens :)

  22. Hi Ruthy!! I love your books! The Lawman's Holiday Wish's cover is awesome! I see it snowing and I want to be there sledding with them. That way I don't have to pick up after the kids lol. I'm just there to have fun. Once we go back inside from sledding, there will be hot chocolate! I love Christmastime and Christmas movies and Christmas books. Yours are the best! Every December I read Two from Galilee and my most favorite Christmas movie is Christmas Comes to Willow Creek with Tom Wopat and John Schneider. I want to decorate for Christmas now and I watch Christmas movies and read Christmas books all year long. I have my own collection of Christmas movies so I don't have to wait on Hallmark to show them. Not sure what that says about me, but there you go! I would absolutely love to win The Lawman's Holiday Wish! Thanks for the chance to win!
    tscmshupe [at] pemtel [dot] net

  23. Hi Ruthy,

    I can't listen to TSO without getting totally pumped.

    After reading your post, I'm glad it's almost Christmas. I overheard one of my sons say this week he can't wait to watch Elf again. He plans to watch it every Christmas.

    Thanks for sharing today!

  24. I read The Christmas Carol every year around my birthday. The tradition started because inevitably I'd be stuck in the State library studying for finals. Found my fave Dickens on the shelve. Instant mind break.

    I cringed when folks started putting Christmas books out in October. I love Autumn and the sight of Christmas decor up since before the first of October has driven me crazy.

    But you know what? I figured out I can buy them, stock pile and have reading marathons starting with Thanksgiving weekend! Just like with watching all those Christmas movies non stop.

    Have your books on my kindle. But you can put me in for the other goodies.

    Peace, Julie

  25. Ruthy and Christmas stories were made for each other.

    I'd love either Christmas story (I'm saving your Indie for a writer reward--meaning I have a few I hold out as goals to reward myself when I'm done with editing).

    But oh, I feel so Scroogey here - I don't want to hear Christmas music or watch any movies until at least December! So I'm only politely nodding and trying NOT to let TSO music infiltrate my "writing a scene set in May" brain!


    In December I'm happy to visit Bedford Falls!

  26. Hi Ruth, I love to read Christmas stories and have recently read a couple. I would enjoy reading your Love Finds you at Christmastime book,have not read yet. Tell Mary to be quite, you know what to do for your books but then the two of you banter back and forth is eye catching and makes me think of my sister always getting after me...She recently told me she was sorry for treating me so mean when we were kids..can you believe it-50 yrs later. I do enjoy stopping by to say hello and seeing what is happening here in Seekerville. I will be looking for your book if I dont win it.
    Paula O

  27. I LOVE Christmas stories! And movies! I can read and watch them all year long. I've never written one though.

    The cover for your new book is gorgeous, Ruthy! Makes me want to drink hot cocoa and bundle up with all that snow.

    Happy Thursday, Seekerville!

  28. RUTHY, I loved this. Your post is definitely a printer-outer! :) I love reading Christmas stories, and watching Christmas movies—especially the oldies. But I liked The Christmas Shoes when it came out. Though I cried.

    I'd never thought about it, but I love how you gave great suggestions for story themes. LOVED, LOVED!

    Congrats on the 4 star in the RT! That's very exciting. :)

  29. Good morning!!! Ruth...look at all those books! lol Congrats. :-) Great post. I looooooove Christmas and am excited to get past Thanksgiving so I can start my decorating. lol

  30. I love Christmas stories. Can't wait to read yours, Ruthy! Like you, I reward myself with a Christmas book on the nightstand or in my Kindle. A nightly dip into a story that embodies the spirit of Christmas with the bloom of romance is a lovely escape from the hectic pace.


  31. Jenny, great new photo! Praying for you to feel better soon.


  32. I LOVE Christmas themed books. I buy one (gulp! a few!) every year for my 'Christmas read'.

    AND most of the time, I buy them based on the cover. Have you seen Holly Jacobs cover for her Christmas release???? Gorgeous!

    Great topic, Ruthy. I'm printing this one out.

    P.S. I'm with Mary, you need a picture in a cape with fur trim. You know, like Belle wears in Beauty and Beast!

    This is good stuff. Don't know where to begin. I enjoy Christmas movies and try to save them for Dec., although I did watch "Elf" one summer when nothing else was going well. "Elf" is my favorite modern film and "It's A Wonderful Life" is my favorite classic. Stewart, who served in the war, poured a lot of his post-war angst into that film from what I've heard, and Donna Reed was never better. And Will Ferrell was never better than in "Elf." I don't like things like Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Jingle All the Way," too crass, but if something captures the spirit of Christmas the way WE understand it as Christians, I'm in. Can't go wrong with the Muppets or Charlie Brown, love the way the television network let Linus read from the book of Luke, how often does that happen today.
    I also love Christmas novels and novellas. It's a time when people are the most vulnerable and anything can happen. It's a time when everything is magnified -- you're lonely, you're lonelier; you're happy, you're happier; you're supposed to be happy but you're not; you want what you can't have more than ever; the person you should be celebrating with is gone or unavailable; your spiritual issues are magnified by the meaning of the day. I've put Christmas scenes in nearly everything I've written. In "Lost and Found," the other story I'm shopping around, Karl breaks up with Violet because he doesn't think she can handle life on the Lower East Side, where he's committed himself to social work. She stops by the settlement house on Christmas Eve, and they have a moment while she's playing Christmas carols and their eyes meet. Then he follows her outside and as she's waiting for her ride, they kiss in a snowstorm. But the next day is back to normal. It sounds better in the book.
    This is a good day. A RUTHY post, a RUTHY post about Christmas, and pumpkin roll. Did you know one serving of pumpkin pie fulfills your daily supply of Vitamin A? Good excuse to indulge in October. Does anybody know what Vitamin A DOES?
    Please put my name in cat dish, love Christmas stories.
    Kathleen D. Bailey
    Freelance writer

  34. I love Christmas stories - reading and writing. Try Try Again is one of my favorites. And for Tina - most of my short stories involve Christmas. Its one huge element that needs no words of explanation. Everybody gets it. Please put my name in the cat dish. All these beautiful covers have me imagining the mess Ruthy could make of what's inside before she puts it ll together for HEA.

  35. Back again. Systems down at work so i can visit Seekerville without feeling guilty (or waiting for a coffee/lunch break).

    I love Christmas and my hubby does too. Love the Muppets movie and the Charlie Brown Christmas. Linus quoting the Bible gets me every time. This year will be the first where my little guy will be able to appreciate a Christmas movie. Oh, he knows about Baby Jesus and the wisemen and sheperds (he spent much time playing with the Nativity scene in our dining room last year. always putting baby Jesus on the rooftop "hiding" from mommy and daddy... not sure what's up with that.) This year, I can see he's really absorbing the meaning of things - so I want to give him good movies and books to help him understand the meaning of Christmas best.

    My hubby slings freight for retail place and hates that Christmas merchandise hits the shelves before Halloween. Last year he was so Christmassed out by retail stuff by the time Christmas DID roll around - he struggled to enjoy the day. He doesn't want a repeat of that this year.

    We both love to decorate for Christmas - but we do that the weekend after Thanksgiving. Sort of tradition. Don't break out Christmas before you've been truly Thankful.

    Anyway, I would love my name to go in the cat dish. Christmas stories are awesome and you can never have too many. Sort of like chocolate.

    Love the post, Ruthy. Love those Christmas covers too. They do get a person in the right frame of mind.

  36. Mia Ross, who shares a spot in the 2013 Christmas line-up with me with her Jingle Bell Romance!!!!

    Hi, sweet thing, and I agree. I love transferring my love for the warmth and tradition and beauty of the holy day/holiday into a sweet love story.


    Is anyone else totally jonesin' for pumpkin EVERYTHING???????

  37. Bridgett, It's a Wonderful Life is one of those love it/hate it movies.

    We've got family in the "hate it, why would you ever buy the DVD club???"

    And others that love it.

    But if it evokes strong emotion one way or another, I guess they did something right, eh?

    But I love so many Christmas movies as to be ranked #RIDICULOUS!!!!

    And Christmas music????

    Music to my ears, LOL and I play it all year and love it!!!!

    Breath of Heaven? Joseph's Song? What Child is This/Child of the Poor????

    Oh, tears welling already!

  38. Sally, your enthusiasm should be bottled!!!! I LOVE IT!!!!!

    Hey, here's a little "Straight-No Chaser" Christmas Can-Can that just makes me laugh because it's awesome!!!

    Christmas Can Can

  39. Jackie!!! I love it when our kids are as wacky as we are!

    Saint Maybe is one of my dramatic favorites. It follows the family through multiple holidays and you see/feel their growth and change, a story that grips me EVERY TIME.

    1776 is another one, the air of self-sacrifice and humor blended perfectly.

    But for Christmas, oh my stars, I loved the Little House Christmas with the tin cups and Mr. Edwards and a shiny penny!!!!!

    And the original Miracle on 34th Street... And of course Holiday Inn and White Christmas and I'd be remiss to say that LETHAL WEAPON movies aren't/weren't a big fave here, LOL! And that's shoot-em-up bang bang Christmas! And Die Hard.

    BOYS. :)

  40. Julie, huge mega thanks for having my books on your KINDLE DEVICE!!!!

    Oh mylanta, I love saying "Kindle device" because it's just way fun.

    Okay, back off the caffeine, Ruthy... Hold out, a little bit!!!

    Hey, that's actually true, I love decorating for fall... I have not done this in three years for various states of home disrepair and PUPPY but I promise I will next year.

    (I said that last year, too)

    But puppy Jeter is adorable and still pesky and I've been busy staining and painting anything that doesn't move inside the house, which means the porches are not neat, clean country porches.


    Uh, huh.

  41. Wonderful post today, Ruthy! You've put me in the mood for some holiday reading! :)

  42. Deb Marvin, did you see my thing yesterday about the Elmira prison? But then I saw it was all dismantled and turned back into farmland...

    My mother-in-law remembers German POWs working on the Eichas farm when she was small, sitting under the big tree at lunch time. What a difference, right? Working on an upstate farm, food and shelter... or a miserable prison, cold, unkempt, and no food.

    My eyes have been opened to the possibility of a Ruthy historical... It kind of just came to me yesterday from a few things jumbling together, then falling into place like a kaleidoscope puzzle.

    Very interesting stuff, this history of ours!

  43. Paula, Love Finds You should be out in tons of bookstores... So that's cool, right? And of course Amazon, but who knows, you may get your name pulled out of the cat dish today!!! Oh, happy day!!!! :)

    I really should rein in my Christmas enthusiasm... Because as holy days go, Easter and Good Friday are my favorites....

    but I love the brotherhood of good cheer Christmas brings!!! I totally buy into the twinkle lights.

    One can never burn too many candles or twinkle lights!!!! :)

    And living in a big ol' farmhouse means Dave suffers through my lights every December.

    Pfft. That's what I say to him.


    If December wasn't so darned dark around here, I wouldn't burn all these pretty lights.


  44. Morning Ruth! I'm a sucker for those Hallmark movies, even though some are a little cheesy. ;)
    Like Melissa J, I only read Christmas books during the season. I've written one Christmas-themed story. It was a challenge to instill the magic of the holiday. Maybe I would've had an easier time with a contemporary. How do you go about making each of your Christmas stories unique?
    Love your covers!

  45. It’s impossible for me to pick a favorite Christmas story, but “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” is right up there near the top. And the Muppets with their quirky, definite personalities? Oh, yes, I’m a big fan. Children’s stories are magic with beautifully woven messages.

    As to reading Christmas stories at times other than Christmas, I don’t. Anticipation is a great part of the pleasure. And just being reminded about books, fireplaces, chocolate, and snowy days jump-starts my anticipation.

  46. Mary - I think the only appropriate response is... :p~~~~~~~

    Ruthy - love Christmas stories! I think Mickey's Christmas Carol may be my fave, but I haven't seen the Muppet one in eons. I think we have it though...

    Fave Christmas movie? Miracle on 34th Street

    The original. Though the remake wasn't bad.

    I need to write a Christmas story...

    I need to think on this...

  47. Bridgett until several years ago I didn't realise A Wonderful life was even a Christmas movie as they use to show it hear at other times.
    I liked it but its not one of my favourite christmas movies.

  48. Ruthy,

    Loved this posting...Merry Christmas :)

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  49. Raising my hand for loving Christmas stories.


    Sometimes I do think, "the author is just trying to make me cry." And since movies never make me cry, I don't.

    We watch It's a Wonderful Life, and then all the old kiddie favorites every year.

    Okay, I'm weird, but best scene is in A Year Without a Santa Claus when the little girl sings I'll Have a Blue Christmas Without You. I'm weird...

    Lawman and Christmas. Ruthy sounds great!

  50. Annie Rains, you're a natural for a Christmas story, then! Jump in, the water... er... snow's fine, LOL!

    I love the welling emotion but I also love multiple aspects of layering you can use easily with Christmas. One thing feeds and offsets another, so it creates its own montage of emotion.

    I need coffee... I'm putting a fresh pot on and I'm making chocolate chip cookies to share. Just straight this time, no doo-dads.

    You'll love 'em!

  51. Jeanne, thank you so much! You know, I think the 4 R's technique works for any story, but it's especially helpful for Christmas...

    It also works for patriotic holidays because the same themes hold through... reunions, loss, new beginnings, second chances, coming home... so much of a soldier's story can be told through those 4 R's.

    I think it helps to see the themes in print, at least it does for me...


  52. Jessica, good morning! I've started decorating the week of Thanksgiving because we have the boys come home from NYC and I know that single guys don't go back to their high rise apartments and DECORATE.

    So this way they can carry the visual of family Christmas back with them.

    Now, the REALITY is more National Lampoon, but that's another blog, another day.


    How I wish I was kidding!!!!

  53. Janet, I love your way with words... I can see you there, snuggled up, reading on that Kindle!!!

    We've been taken over, Janet!!!!

  54. ROSE !!!!

    Mary says I have to talk to you about a quilt.

    More on that later.

    Okay, me and Belle????

    Young and gorgeous and Disneyfied vs. aging and well...aging and Oil Of Olay-ified....

    Oh dagnabbit, I think I'm going to LOSE THAT MATCH UP.


  55. Oh my. I've had a Christmas book idea buzzing around in my brain for several months but have been putting off developing it. You may have just pushed the right buttons, Ruthy!

  56. Kathy Bailey, I could power up half of Manhatta with your energy these days. I love it!!!!!

    Okay, I'm all over how sweet and inviting that story sounds, KB. Really, lovely, cityscape stuff.

    I love city stories even though so much of my work is in small towns.

    I love small towns, too. Like ours, right now, we're doing this wonderful benefit for a marvelous young family whose little boy is fighting AML, a rare form of leukemia that isn't supposed to strike children. Well, this one didn't get the memo, so the whole town and the surrounding towns are rallying around this young family.

    I'm so touched by this outpouring because it's the "It Takes a Village" come to life.

    So your cityscape grabs me... and so do small town/country romances.

    I just love romance.

  57. Cindy Regnier, LOL!!!

    Have you ever seen how an e-mail gets SCRAMBLED in cyber-space, then put back together??????

    and it shows up in your "IN" box nice and neat.

    Yup. That's the picture, LOL!

    You're in the cat dish and I'm using the old (cracked) china one today, because the two cats haven't been fighting. The clean china dish is their reward.


  58. Oh, and Cindy!!!! Thank you for loving Try, Try Again, I do too!!!!

    Conor and Alicia... how people with so much going for them can get totally messed up and turned inside out....

    Only God can untwist that kind of spiral, right???? :)

    I love that you mentioned it!

  59. Well, I adore Christmas books and Ruthy books so I'm in a double swoon up here! Can't wait to read both your new releases, Ruthy. I know you'll make me cry. :-) I'm buying multiple boxes of kleenex in order to be prepared.

    I start reading Christmas books in October because I do giveaways on my blog so I want to make sure the books get to the winners before Christmas. I was really excited to see the number of Christmas books coming out in the Love Inspired line. And there are some great Amish Christmas stories coming out as well. I'll be in Christmas reading euphoria soon.

    Season's Reading everybody!!!!

  60. Ruthy, good post! :-) I love Christmas stories and movies. I can read or watch anytime of the year!

    Sometimes I get sick of summer around the end of August and I pull 'White Christmas' or a good Christmas book. :-)

    I'm out of town and right now and I can hardly find a moment to to read or comment—but having fun!


  61. I love Christmas stories, especially the historical collections. I'm already three stories into A Pioneer Christmas. I finished Anna Urquhart's A Silent Night and I won't be doing any reading for a while. I want to hold onto the magical feeling her story left me with for as long as I can. (if that makes any sense ... I'm such a nerd) :)

  62. I love Christmas. Even in July! Maybe because I love babies, and any story that includes children . So, stories, songs, whatever...I read and sing them throughout the year...after all, I need the Christmas spirit always! Thanks, Ruthy...I'm looking forward to my books (it's time I have some new ones!)

  63. MELISSA J you and I have the same movie tastes and habits. If I can't watch a Christmas movie between now and Christmas, it waits another year. Holiday Inn, It's a Wonderful Life, Going My Way are some of my favorites!

  64. RUTHY—Love, LOVE Christmas music. Breath of Heaven is my favorite-est song ever. And O Holy Night. And, you got me totally in a Christmas mood today. Maybe I'll drive my kids crazy and play Christmas music all day long. :)

  65. Ruthy, I LOVE the covers of your books - especially the two you showed! They are fantastic! I love Christmas books! They can come out anytime of the year, as far as I'm concerned! Doesn't matter to me! I start my Christmas shopping in August so Christmas books help me get in the mood as soon as they come out! I live in Oregon so I love snuggling up on the couch as soon as that rain starts coming down and reading about whatever the characters are doing in their holiday stories! Thanks for the post today!

  66. Put me down as one of those who LOVES Christmas! Trees, decorations, cookies, music...but especially the four R's you mentioned: Reflection. Redemption. Renewal. Reward.

    Every Christmas story worthy of the name has at least one of those at its core.

    My favorite is "A Christmas Carol". I like all the movie versions, but the one with Alistair Sims (an old, old version) shows Scrooge's delight in his redemption so well - it bring tears every time.

    At our house, we keep Christmas under wraps until November 1st. Then, even though we're in the middle of our harvest celebration (and we don't want to lose sight of that), some of the Christmas music is allowed to be played.

    But once Advent's Christmas heaven :)

    I can hardly wait! But, alas, like you, Ruthy, I need to reclaim the house first. I still have three bushels of apples needing to be taken care of. Today.

    Please put my name in the cat dish!

  67. Thanks for the post, Ruth. I'm trying to figure out how you found time to write it. :-)

    I do like Christmas in July sometimes, when I'm needing a shot of peace maybe.

    My tastes for stories and music bounce with my mood.

    I cry every time I watch The Christmas Shoes not so much because of the story, but the song. I don't know how many different ways I've watched A Christmas Carol. I like the Mickey Mouse Version. and George C Scott. I have to watch it at least once during the holiday season.

    Liked it so much I have an offbeat Christmas Carol releasing for the Holidays called Christmas in Shades of Gray.

    I like Holiday in Handcuffs with Melissa Joan Hart. I think I watched about three holiday movies just last month. Must have needed the lift.

  68. Ruthy, from now on, I'm calling you the QUEEN OF CHRISTMAS...


    or CQ.

    Such a nice post today. I'm hearing "Silent Night, Holy Night" play in the background!!!

    Plus, Walmart is putting out their Christmas decorations, although I agree with Julie HS about it being a bit early. I like falling leaves and Thanksgiving.

    But Christmas books are fun to read anytime. Especially if they're yours, Ruthy!!!

  69. I get emotional listening to "The Little Drummer Boy," one of my favorite Christmas songs.

    Always makes me ask, "What will you give the Christ Child this Christmas?"

  70. JENNY!!!!!

    Thanks so much for ordering my book!!! Hope you enjoy the story! I'm touched that it's finding a home in Australia!

    Sending hugs and love!

  71. Wonderful info!!! Thank you. I love, love Christmas stories.

    Hallmark is my favorite. Looking forward to reading another couple Ruthy Christmas tales.

  72. This comment has been removed by the author.

  73. Ruthy,

    A great column! I'm really looking forward to reading your historical, so please, put me in the drawing. And congrats to you for writing it!

    I've never thought about writing Christmas stories, but there are elements there, historically, that have not been written about, so I should think more about trying one myself.

    My favorite version of A Christmas Carol, (and in my family we make a habit of doing annual comparisons), is Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol. Love those songs, they are classic!


  74. Great post, Ruthy! Already got this one filed away. And that last photo of the gazebo is so Christmassy and serene. Love it.

    I'm so glad you included TSO in your post because their Christmas Cannon Rock is one of may family's favorite Christmas songs. It's the kind of song that people stop what they're doing, close their eyes, pick a part, and sing away. The words are a blessing and the flowing music draws you into the symphony. It may be rock music, but it's done in such a way that you forget what it is and immerse yourself in the experience.

    Looking forward to your books, Ruthy. Congrats.

  75. The Muppet Christmas Carol is my all-time favorite Christmas movie! My sister and I have it memorized... I love watching/reading Christmas stories on Sundays randomly throughout the year- maybe because it's a special day.

  76. Christmas stories, tres leches cake, coffee, and that gazebo...too cute!

    What's not to like?

    Headed your way, Ruthy.

    I want cake!!!

  77. From mid-September to December is my favorite time of the year. And Christmas is the best holiday (even though I remember reading that Jesus was actually born in September, I think. . .).

    I'm one of those who can only read Christmas stories during the holidays, but I do enjoy finding a good one. And Hallmark movies--my mom and I end up recording most of them to rewatch during the season:)

    Such a fun post!

  78. Deb, my husband is in retail and by the time Christmas gets here (and yes, they've had back room displays for months, waiting to be put up) he's kind of burnt out...

    So I make fun of him.


    I did convince all of my children to stay out of retail because every busy family time of year... summer, holidays, holy days... life is crazy in retail. So it's always a tug of war. Now if you LOVE It, that's one thing, but retail and restaurants are tough go's at holiday times.

    I know hospital and police and major services (airports, etc.) stay open and go crazy too, but they're essential. Retail doesn't seem quite so essential to make it so rampantly crazy all through the fall.

    So Deb, I applaud your hubby's decision to not let it make him crazy!

  79. I love Christmas books, I look for them all year and save them for Christmas time. Then I tend to reread older ones as well. It helps me get in and stay in the Christmas spirit. Holidays can be tough for some so the books help to remind you of the good things about the holidays and to stop and enjoy the time not just buy stuff. It is the season to give but a lot of Christmas books I have read remind you there are better things to give than just stuff. TO give more of yourself.

  80. Hey, Vetsch!!! I saw on FB you were writing today!!!! Go you!!!! Glad you stopped by, girlfriend!

    (puts Erica's name in the cat dish because she's a darned cutie!)


    Now back to work. Slacker.

  81. Karen Kirst!!!

    How do I make the stories unique????


    I'm supposed to DO THAT??????


    Well, they're different... but that's not the answer you're looking for.

    The characterization makes them stand out from each other... and then those 4 R's (for real, each one of those themes will produce a very different and unique story because your character will handle the plot very differently based on character, right?)

    So Callie in Yuletide Hearts would never react to Matt Cavanaugh (her hero) the same way Rainey Cabrera McKinney would in The Lawman's Holiday Wish because they're at opposite ends of the character spectrum.

    So they both might need renewal, but from such different pov's that it's unique.

    I hope.

    I pray.


    And His Mistletoe Family is just so darned nice, such a beautiful second chance love story that I just sigh thinking of my retired Colonel Brett Stanton and those two little boys, the new beginning he never thought possible.


    I'm getting SAPPY talking about it!

  82. Cara G...

    Oh, the Grinch. Conor Bradstreet vocalized the Grinch mentally in the opening of Try, Try Again.

    He felt very Grinchlike. Poor man. I mean to feel Grinch-like on Christmas Eve is TOUGH. It's a total downer. And then God sent his own version of a NY miracle, a homeless guy named Sarge... and a story begins anew.


    I love the Grinch's growth curve!!!

  83. Thanks for the post. The three "r"s have given me much to think about. And I love TSO, too. I look forward to reading your book!

  84. I love Christmas stories and have already started to read my pile of them. I can never get enough. I listen to Christmas music year round. Soothing to my soul.

    Christmas stories make my heart feel good and tears flow naturally. When I think about the birth of the Christ Child and what He did for me, it simply amazes me.

    So yes, I can never have too many feel good emotions of hope, faith, renewal, redemption, mercy, and grace that are wrapped up in a good Christmas story. I say the more the merrier!

    Loved your post Ruthie!

    Judy B

  85. Carol Moncado, you've never dabbled in Christmas????

    I wonder if northern writers are more prone to the "snow-filled" New England Christmas scenario????

    Because you don't see many southern-based Christmas stories that don't at least HINT snow, even if they haven't seen a snowfall in thirty years. Are we that programmed or am I just WRONG LIKE USUAL????

  86. Karen K, good morning/afternoon! I love it when you breeze in and Merriest of Christmases to you, too! :)

  87. Aw, Connie, I don't wait until CHRISTMAS to try and make folks cry!

    I'm an equal opportunity emotion-wringer!!!! Cry all year, that's my mantra!!!!

    And then rejoice in the joy of a new day dawning! The Lord is risen, Alleluia!!!! :)

  88. Myra, what a perfect time of year to start it! I usually am off-season, which is A-OKAY fine with me because then I have an excuse for playing TSO at top volume during January and February!!!! Yay me!!!! :)

  89. Kav, we're on the same schedule!!! Once October hits, I can read Christmas with NO GUILT, lol!!!!

    And thank you for all you do to promote not only our books on Seekerville but romance and Christian fiction and life. Kav, you are an amazing person and I'm so glad we live in the same village!!!!!

    And Mary Hicks!!!! On vacation, oh my stars I messed up my phone trying to get onto Seekerville in August while in NYC... I have no idea why, but it was pretty funny!

  90. Jamie, that's not nerdie at all! It's the greatest compliment an author or musician can wish for, someone who just plain doesn't want the magic to END.... You rock!

    Marianne Barkman!!!! I love little kids and babies and the hope for babies in Christmas stories too. I mean OBVIOUSLY I'm trying my best to over-populate the world as we know it by encouraging people to have cute, big families and live happily ever after...


    (BIG GRIN!!!!)

    I love those too, Marianne!!!

  91. Oh I forgot Going My Way! I haven't watched that in forever!!!!!

    (scribbles feverishly, adding to list!!!) Thank you, Jeanne!!!

    And Breath of Heaven paints such a real picture for me, that young mother, the conditions, the fear, the excitement of that angel's appearance a long-distant memory.

    Love it. I love the emotions it makes me feel.

  92. Valri!!!! The rain is a game-changer, isn't it????

    Just the mix of sounds/light/temperature, "the gloaming" makes me want to add twinkle to the world!

    It's a light thing, no doubt, but it's such a strong urge to lose myself in the miracle of a newborn savior's birth.... Oh the very thought is a smile a minute!

  93. Jan, you're in!!!! And I agree, after Halloween and my little grandchildren and daycare treaters.... then I let myself embrace the new season. No decorating at that point, but I sign up to bell ring, we sign up to have a Salvation Army family to do Christmas for, and we start having extra choir practices. With all of that, decorating is just the frosting on the cake on Thanksgiving week!

  94. I love holiday books, Ruthy. Especially Christmas stories. You hit the mark when you said Hallmark knows what people like, and what they like are heart-warming, endearing books loaded with the 4 Rs!!

    Besides baking and eating, watching movies with a box of tissues at Christmastime makes my holiday experience complete.

    TWO CHRISTMAS BOOKS FROM RUTHY THIS YEAR!!! WooHoo! Who can ask for anything more??

  95. I love (lurv lurv lurv) Christmas stories!!

    And I think the winter author photo is a great idea!!

  96. Hi Ruth:

    I’m reading your “Red Kettle Christmas” right now. I’m not happy that you are calling it a historical when I was there on the scene! You have the flavor of the times. You also nail the attitudes of the times.

    I felt sorry for the little girl, Laurie, because she brings back memories of Ted Williams feeling neglected as a child because his mother spent so much time as a Bell Ringer. (Here I was a little kid feeling sorry for the adult Ted Williams because his mother neglected him.) I just wonder if the SA helped Ted’s mother as much as it helped the heroine, Karen, in your story. I’m going to think so. “Red Kettle Christmas” has the best motivation. Totally believable. Just love it.

    I love Christmas romances. I read twice as many romances between November and December than I do the rest of the year in any 60 day period.

    I believe that there are two types of Christmas romances: 1) the true Christmas story which is really about Christmas and its message and 2) the ‘there is a Christmas that happens in the story as an incidental’ event. (Like Mary’s “Winter Wedding Bells“ which has the saddest Christmas morning I think I’ve ever read. I had a Sidney moment.:))

    I like reading the first type only during the Christmas season and the second type any time of the year.

    I like your 4 R’s. I think ‘reward’ is the most significant. Up until Christianity, all the religions of the time (that I know of) had gods that demanded sacrifices. The gods had to be ‘paid off’ or bad things would happen to the people.

    With the birth of Christ and Christianity that changed forever. God was giving to man not asking for sacrifices. Christians soon abandoned sacrifices. After Christ there was every other religion in the world and then there was Christianity which offered a completely different view of God: a loving God who cared about humans.

    This new view changed man’s view of God and as such, I believe, it became the greatest Christmas Gift of all time. (God knew from the very beginning that it was a good idea to reward His believers.)


    P.S. Please put me in the cat dish for the Kindle cover. I pretty much have all the Seeker books but a Kindle cover, now that’s a reward to raise an eyebrow and curve a smile almost to my eyes.

    P.P.S. I like Mary’s idea of a winter photo. The next time it snows go to a zoo and have your picture taken next to a live reindeer. Try to have no sign of a cage or other restriction in the picture.

  97. Yay! It's that time of year to start reading Christmas stories. Ruthie, your stories sound like ones worth reading!

  98. Love the Hallmark Christmas stories, especially The Christmas Shoes. Last year found another that's become a favorite. It's titled The Christmas Lodge by Vivendi and filmed in Canada. I can watch these any time of the year, but wait closer to the holiday to read Christmas themed stories. Bought a Christmas reunion novella in May, but will wait until Dec. to read it. Thank you, Ruthy, for the 4R's for plotting. Last Dec. I tried my hand at a Christmas short story. It was fun to write.

  99. Great post, Ruthie! I'll be coming back to read it again in slower detail. I am also working on a Christmas story on The Swaddling Clothes. :D

  100. I absolutely love Christmas stories! I used to only read them starting in the fall but as I get older I find I like them anytime I start to feel a little down and want a good story to touch my heart I will watch a Christmas movie or read a good Christmas story. Thanks for your wonderful article. And yes anything pumpkin is great>

  101. I like good holiday books and movies. My favorite movie is A Christmas Carol (Alistair Sim version). However, I also love Miracle on 34th Street and White Christmas.

    By the way, one of the lesser known movie facts is that Miracle on 34th Street was actually a summer romance when it was released.

  102. The movie Christmas Shoes always makes me cry but I like to watch it most years. Couldn't last year.
    The song always gets me.
    love Breathe of Heaven, Mary Did you know and others.

    Last year hearing the Hallelujah chorus on Christmas eve had me a blubbering mess as mum always said when she died she would be up with the angels singing it as she didn't think she had a good singing voice on earth.

    headache is at a controlled level today upped the meds. But its also made me tired so at 8am ready for a nap.

  103. Hi Ruthy,

    Great post. I never read Christmas stories until Thanksgiving. It's just something to savor. That's why I've been saving Try, Try Again for my ritual. I reread a lot of favorites from past years, always including A Christmas Carol and add a few new ones every year.

    I'm going to write my first Christmas novella for NaNoWriMo. When I first came up with this plot I was in grade school and it was a contemporary. Now it's historical. It's setting is 1963 Macon Georgia. Oops, I came close to telling you how old I am. Anyway every scene is plotted, Vince, and I've carried these characters know how many years, and it's so sappy I love it. Can't wait.

  104. Ruth,
    LOL I meant more along the lines of holiday stuff. Do each of your stories have Christmas pageants, sugar cookies and hot cocoa?? :D
    Or do you sprinkle different aspects into each one?

  105. Oh, Ruthy, I have been excited about your Christmas books...I put both in my "to purchase" cart. But if I could win one....that would be fantastic. Please count me in. I love the covers and always look forward to reading Christmas stories.

  106. LOVED this post, Ruthy---and I have to say I genuinely LOVE all things Christmas: books, music, movies, decorations, food, etc.--I'm even humming "Deck the Halls" as I type this.

    And bless you for sharing these excellent pointers with us about writing Christmas stories--this post goes to the front of my Keeper File.

    Please toss me in the cat dish for one of your books---but if my name isn't picked--it's okay, because I plan to buy them anyway! (did I mention I love ALL things Christmas?!). ;)

    Since you wrote a Christmas-related post today, I've baked some of my Thumbprint Cookies (with red and green icing in the middles). YUM---my family loves these! :)

    Hugs and Merry Christmas, Patti Jo

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  108. If it's a good book and it happens to take place at Christmas, I'll read it anytime of the year. Maybe that's because I don't identify with the 'traditional' Christmas marketing folks assume happens everywhere in the US ;-)

    Muppets! Oh my gosh, Ruthy ... have you seen the bit where the Swedish Chef is ready to make Jack-o-Lanterns out of those two adorable pumpkins? And did you know there's a new book out about Jim Henson, a biography? Heard about it on NPR.

    So glad I'll be able to visit Kirkwood Lake again in The Lawman's Holiday Wish. Do Lisa and Alex make any appearances? Theirs was a fantastic story!

    Nancy C

  109. Oh and I forgot Holiday Inn with Bing and Fred.

  110. I can't wait to read both Christmas novels! I don't know if I can wait until December. : /

    Please put my name in the kitty dish.

  111. Ruthy, you write the sweetest Christmas stories. I don't think I could do that. In fact, I thought I was going to be stuck with a December 2014 release date for one of my books, and I frantically emailed my agent and said. "Oh, no. What do I do???? This is a book about people trying to escape France during the middle of the Napoleonic wars. I can't have Christmas and clandestine escapes, they just don't go together!!!!!"

    Fortunately my publisher bumped me back a month so I don't have to try to Christmas-i-fy my escape story. I don't even know if France was celebrating Christmas in 1804. They didn't celebrate it during the French Revolution. Ruthy, I hope you never, ever, ever have to write a book set in the French Revolution for that reason alone. I can't imagine you and no Christmas.

    And I agree with Melissa about needing to read Christmas books at Christmas. I couldn't read a Christmas book in July.

  112. Ruthy, you must be the queen of Christmas stories! I've never written a Christmas story. Most of my books begin in spring and end in late fall before Christmas. I wonder if I have some sort of mental block about Christmas? Oh well. I'll have to explore that in a plot some time in the near future. :-) Thanks for all these tips, Ruthy! You are very generous. :-)

  113. I'm all about exploring my many neuroses.

  114. Tina Pinson, laughing with you! I robo-wrote it, in my sleep, LOL!

    I love your ideas, they'e always shading to fun and different and I really like that.

    Deb Giusti, I'll be a Christmas Queen any time! Do you remember that gal in Steel Magnolias? The perfect family???? Oh, I loved that!

    And I love The Little Drummer Boy. I get to sing alto on it (or with the men!) and it's beautiful! The thought of that little boy, longing to give to the baby king... Oh, heart strings!!!!

    TEEEEEEEENA!!!! Glad to oblige, Christmas stories are just a marvelous thing.... All that holly and mistletoe! :) I love me some mistletoe!!!

  115. This post got me all excited, Ruthy! After I'm finished my current ms, I'm planning my next one to be set around Christmas, 1813 style :)

  116. Piper! I forgot all about Mr. Magoo!

    Oh, how could I forget him???? I think you could have a wonderful slant on historical Christmases from either side of the color line, Piper! One thing I liked about the original American Girl dolls was that they tried to portray the immigrants in a realistic fashion. And I love that... I just bought an "Addy" doll for my granddaughter on e-bay and she'll love it... because she cries every time she reads anything about slavery or persecution or injustice. I love that open-heartedness of children, it begets the better side of humans.

  117. Anita Mae, I love that Christmas Cannon Rock!!!

    Of course there's probably not anything I don't love of TSO, but yes, that's beautiful... and when I hear Old City Bar from Christmas Eve and Other Stories, I try to imagine my dad being one of those old bums on the barstool that night, that maybe there was a time of goodness and magic I wasn't privy to. God's ways are far above mine! :)

    Heidi, I love your designation of Sunday as a special day... I confess that I forget it too often, through the hustle and bustle of trying to keep up and catch up on weekends. So yes, Christmas as a Sabbath treat: Excellent!

  118. Oh Ruthy, Seekerville has been very bad for my discipline this week.

    First Giselle had me wanting to ditch my WIP and work on a reunion story.

    Fortunately I remembered there was a reunion element to it, so I stood firm.

    But now you're tempting with Christmas. I mean CHRISTMAS. That's so not fair.

    Now I want to ditch my summer-set story for my Christmas story.

    Must stand firm.

    Bit I will cave with reading. I have A Seaside Christmas by Sherryl Woods on my bedside table and I have to read that so I can send it to my sister. Good excuse to brew a cup of cinnamon tea on this cold wet evening and settle in.

  119. Pam, I've got cake right here and I'm determined to try Melissa Jagears version of Carrot Cake. I do think The Connealy and I are going to have a Cake-off Bake Off some day.

    I will win.

    It's academic, but I want her to feel good about herself. Well. Until she loses. But I'm not above using Melissa's recipe because it sounds so stinkin' tropical! Loving it from afar to date!

    Courtney Faith, I'm with you and Mom. I have a DVR function now (which is how I grab the 43 minutes for Castle and NCIS and Downton Abbey....) and I set that baby for anything that looks good! And if it isn't, I have a delete button!


  120. Hilleary Peterson I like how you think. You know, I know folks who hate the holidays for various reasons. And when I wrote Try, Try Again, I wanted to nail that anger, that loneliness that seems so much more chill in December when you/we are surrounded by joyous voices, carols, hymns, lights, TWINKLE LIGHTS to boot!!! Dancing marionettes and animated santas... If life has handed you a kick in the head, that's a tough time.

    I think that's why I fell in love with St. Maybe. Because after tragedy, Christmas doesn't feel the same. Traditions change, feelings are raw, thoughts are roughed up.

    And then, healing.

    I love the healing. I live for the healing.

    And that's when a Christmas story drags me in. The healing.

  121. Mary Yelesin, hey!!!! I'm glad you liked the "R's"!

    I tried to keep it simple, Mary. Did it work?



    That was my goal. I had to SIT on my hands to stop typing.

    It's an illness, I think.

  122. Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday. Every 25th of a month I count down to the next Christmas. Come to my house and see the little nativity set year round. I do indeed love Christmas.
    And I would love to win Ruthy's books.

  123. One of the reasons why Christmas books are so popular at my house is because of time - chances are that you'll find the clan posed in various positions with a book in their hands because we always take vacation at Christmas. That means uninterrupted reading.

  124. Audra-kins!!!! Hey, sweet thing!


    And it was purely by accident. I had none lined up for this year and then someone wasn't able to fulfill their Summerside contract and my beautiful and brilliant agent-of-the-year Natasha Kern called me and asked if I was interested in picking it up because I love NYC, I'm familiar with NYC and I love Christmas...

    NO BRAINER!!!! So it was an accident... and then my Love Inspired book was going to be too late for the holidays... SO SAD... Until someone saw a tweet that said they were looking for one more holiday book...

    And guess who had her book finished a month early???? So I e-mailed Melissa and offered the book... because in my head and heart I knew this should be a Christmas book and tell me what you think when you read it... because the feelings and the town and the children and the pain of fixing things was so ripe for Christ's birth!!!!!

    And Melissa said "You sure you can do it?"

    And I said "Yes"... and it came out just beautifully, I mean so sweetly beautiful that it makes me smile to think of it.

    And my youngest son is the model for that gorgeous cop on the cover... and my grandson David is the model for the little boy and they look alike so it was perfect! Stinkin cute, aren't they????

    I'm talking too much. I blame Mary.

  125. Virginia, my lovely!!!!

    :) I'll work on the winter pic. In my spare time.

    Hey, remember I borrowed that 1K camera for that summer pic?????

    I was a NERVOUS WRECK having it in the house! Crazy nervous!!!!

  126. Judy B, thank you!

    I have to agree wholeheartedly, I feel so lame compared to God.

    And then I remember I'm supposed to feel lame compared to God. And that makes me feel better about being lame.


    Good to see you!!!!

    Amy C, thank you!!! I hope you're right, honey. Otherwise I'm headed to the unemployment line!!!! I think you should win one and find out... and then tell us, okay?

  127. VINCE!!!! MY BUDDY!!!

    Well, here's the test of time because Vince is READING A STORY SET IN A TIME AND PLACE HE LIVED.





    Do tell me what you think when you're done. I felt like I nailed it so that's a good indicator to me, but I value your opinion... and your (sigh...) memory!!!!

    Thank you for reading it, Vince Mooney!!!

  128. I haven't been here in sooooo long...but thought I'd read your post quickly, Ruthy, as a much-needed pick-me-up.

    I love "It's A Wonderful Life" and "Muppets Christmas Carol"! Actually, any good Christmas movie does it for me, but we haven't gotten to watch many the past couple years because of extra people in the house and I expect them to still be here this Christmas (third one in a row). *sigh* Also like the goofy ones such as "Elf". :)

    Would love to win the "Love Finds You in the City" book, so please toss my name into the kitty dish. "The Lawman's Second Chance" is the other one? Or did you mean "The Lawman's Holiday Wish"?

    Okay, getting off of here to go drown my mood in some warm dish water. Or to make some popcorn. One or the other will do.


  129. Amber, I love your idea of The Swaddling Clothes... I'm like THIS TEMPTED to steal it.


    Not really. That would be wrong, but the notion of it is like "The Crippled Lamb" strong, you know????

    Hey, Pat Jeanne!!! I'm so glad you jumped in to do a short story. That's a great way to get started... and then I just have to know the rest of the story, very Paul Harvey, right?????


    It's fun to stretch the imagination. And to color it up with those shades of "R".

  130. WALT MUSSELL!!!!

    I actually have that fact in Red Kettle Christmas because it was released in May of 1947... and my hero took his younger sister to see it.

    MGM was afraid it wouldn't find an audience in November/December and their teen audience was huge in May-July. But what a funny release date, right???? And I still love the opening mock trailer, with the corporate execs all hemming and hawing about what to do!

    Jackie McNutt me too... I can totally see you curled up reading them whenever. Sometimes we just need a little Christmas.


  131. Jenny, I'm going to say that those were/are therapeutic tears. And so understandable. And there were times for years when something would catch me by surprise and I'd cry because my mother wasn't there to share it with...

    But I love your mother's take on singing with the heavenly choir! Good for her.

    And I love how strong you've become despite adversity. That's just beyond marvelous, Jenny!!!

  132. Karen, LOL!!!

    Okay, umm.... no.

    I'm not a Christmas pageant director kind of heroine-creator.

    And no hot cocoa, either. Although we did come up with egg nog in August in Falling for the Lawman!!! :)

    And the cool tres leches cake with my own recipe... I see what you mean now, and truly I try to break out of that mold. Not that it's bad, it's not, but it's not me and readers would purse their lips and glower.

    I'm trying to think if there's any traditional stuff like that...

    Naw. There's Shadow Jesus in His Mistletoe Family and a sad graveyard and an old barn. :)

    And Yuletide Hearts has a work crew on rooftops, mostly old guys, big at heart and short on change and they're the sweetest old things. :)

    Of course the heroine was a roofer, too so that was way fun.

    Some divorce... lots of death...(good heavens, I'm gruesome, why on earth do youse read my stuff????? WHY????? WHAT IS THE MATTER WITH YOUSE?????)

    I'm probably not considered traditional in the Christmas sense. I remember one reviewer of His Mistletoe Family said something like, "Three people had to DIE to make this story happen. They had to DIE and I found myself okay with that because I loved the story."

    And you know, hey. Death... umm... happens.

    Oh, bugger, now they sound kind of sad... well. A little. But then they get happy! ANd then maybe sad again. A little.


    Karen, I'm laughing that I totally mis-read your question this morning. Oh my stars, and I was barely tired then!

  133. Elaine!!!! What if you hate Try, Try Again???? What if I ruin Christmas for you? What if you never read another Ruthy book????

    Oh the pressure!!!


    I'm going to bet you'll love it because I love it and the romance and the Christmas spirit and the second chances just make me see more clearly: Money isn't everything.

    But some times it clouds our very being!!! I'm glad it's your reward and I want to hear what you think of it when you're done.

    I think.

    I mean I think I want to hear about it.


  134. Jackie Smith, you're in!!!

    And thank you for putting them in your cart!!!!

    But if you win one, it'll save you a few bucks and that's never a bad thing!

    Patti Jo!!! I love thumbprint cookies!!! Oh, they always looked so cheery in the cookbooks, like green/red happy cookies!!!

    Now I'm smiling, thinking of thumbprint cookies! Yay you!!!!

  135. Beautiful cover, Ruthy!

    You wrote a historical?!!! Oooh! I must read this. And about Christmas, too. Sounds wonderful!

    So does that Leche cake. Making me hungry. :)


    It's kinda crazy, but I'm not a big Christmas-book gal, although I'm obsessed with Hallmark Christmas movies, so not sure why. I did write one ... sorta ... A Light in the Window, but since it runs May to May, I sell it all year and only think of it as a Christmas story at ... well, Christmas. :)

    But I had to admit, this blog has gotten me thinking and wishing and hoping that the spirit of Christmas will creep into my brain a little more because there are SO many great Christmas books out there (I've read most of the Seekers' ones),that I would like to settle in and read in front of the fire with a cup of cinnamon hazelnut coffee.

    The problem is, Christmas is always here before you know it and then, BOOM ... reading a Christmas book in Jan. just doesn't seem right, you know??? :(

    Sign me,
    Julie Bah-humbug-no-more Lessman.


  137. Ruthy - both those covers are beautiful. I love Christmas books and usually end up with more than I can read. I read them starting the day after Thanksgiving through the New Year.

  138. The Muppet Christmas Carol is a great favorite of mine.

    I always enjoy Christmas stories.

  139. Thank you for this 'workshop in a blog'. I have been waffling about writing a Christmas play and this has given me several ideas.

  140. Jeanette, I'm so glad!

    This idea sharing stuff totally works! Good to have you here!!!

    And Mary Preston great minds think alike! I love the whole thing.

    The pig. :)

    The frog.

    The mean guy.

    The rat. Laughing out loud at "No cheeses for us meeses!"

    And tiny Tim???? OH, be still my heart we know I love frogs anyway, but little lame frogs????

    THE BEST!!!

  141. I love Christmas books, right along with Ruth Logan Herne, one of my new favorite authors. I've been known to read a Christmas story if I felt like it in the middle of our 95 degree Virgina summer heat! I just bought your first two books, I am back-tracking to read everything you've written. I've read most all of them with the exception of these two new Christmas stories. (I bought Try, Try Again the day it came out and LOVED it.)
    Anyway, you definitely have the ability to give me a case of the "warm fuzzies" and who doesn't need more of those in their life? Can't wait to read the two newest additions to my RLH library!

  142. I'm a day late!! So sorry I missed a fun Christmas post. Ruthy, this is such a great breakdown of the perfect type Christmas stories. I love to read them and would love to write more!

  143. Oh, my goodness look at all these comments already and it's just after 9 my time.

    I used to be like Melissa, not liking Christmas stories, but then I read one and fell in love. Now I can't get enough of them.

    I've never attempted to write a Christmas story, but I did try to write a first footing story. I'll have to open it up and take another look at it. It's been a few years.

  144. I didn't recieve this Ms. Ruthy post until today 10/11, a day after it was posted. In light of the contest that may be to late. Any way to get the posts on the day they appear, instead of a day later? :)

  145. Thank you for a funny and though-provoking post, as always!

    I LOVE Christmas stories. Perfect timing to read this now, I got an Amazon voucher today, so I may have a little shopping spree...

    "Reflection, redemption, renewal and reward," that's exactly what they should be about. The joyful wonder and strangeness and truth of the first Christmas story (I mean, a King, born in a stable? He made Himself THAT low for us?)

    I'm so enjoying writing my first Christmas themed story, my SYTYCW entry aimed at Heartsong, and want to make sure I bring in all those themes!

  146. I watch lots of Christmas movies on the Hallmark Channel and their movie channel. We used to get the ION channel but don't anymore. They had Christmas movies, too. I like Christmas cozy mysteries, too.

  147. I love the idea of Christmas movies, though I rarely watch them.

  148. I love Christmas and I love stories set in the holiday/Christmas time of year. Put my name in the bowl!

  149. I absolutely love Christmas and I love Christmas books! I love Christmas movies too. Every year I bring out my favorites. The Love Finds You series is awesome. Some great authors there! The story or our Savior being born is the most important Christmas story of all, though, and I make sure I remember that every Christmas and all throughout the year.

    Thank you for a great post and giveaway!

    Wanda Barefoot

  150. Christmas books...sigh. I like them, but they're usually so short! I'd love a nice big mystery centered around Christmas. But it can't be sappy or I'll walk by.