Wednesday, November 13, 2013

IT’S BEGINNING TO LOOK A LOT LIKE CHRISTMAS

 (and Giveways)!!

Brrrrr … can you feel it? That chill in the air that says winter is on its way? When scarlet and gold leaves swirl into a bluster and the blue sky fades to a gunmetal gray that looks and feels like snow? Oh, sure, as a kid we all loved the wintertime — snow days and sledding and hot chocolate with marshmallows. But as adults? Let’s face it, the only real redeeming factor about wintertime is that magical season known as …

 

Christmas!


Some say it’s the tinsel and the trees and the ho-ho-ho, but as Inspirational writers, we all know what really makes Christmas tick … it’s that soul-deep, feel-good feeling that doesn’t come from eggnog and presents or stockings hung on the hearth. Nope, it comes from faith in God, redemption, family, and hope.

Which clearly explains why Christmas books are SO popular this time of year because people want—no, they crave—those wonderful feelings. And who better to give it to them than we Inspirational writers who know and write for the True Reason for the season?

So … how does one go about infusing Christmas into Christmas book? Well, I only know how I went about it, and since my Christmas book, A Light in the Window, just came out in paperback and is now on sale in ebook for $ .99, I decided this would be a great time to not only talk about this subject, but tell you about my ALITW PROMO CONTEST where you can win having a character named after you in my next book, a signed copy of that book, and a $50 gift card (details at the end of this blog). Of course, it doesn’t hurt that my artist hubby just made me a truly beautiful video for A Light in the Window starring my very own daughter. I mean, really—how can subjects like deep POV, power verbs, or writer’s block even compete?

They can’t, pure and simple. Because it’s the “the pure and simple”  we’re all looking for this time of year, which is why I opted to list Christmas triggers we can use to do just that. I will also talk about a few (or we'd be here all day!) of the feel-good components I utilized in A Light in the Window (all bolded below) and other Christmas scenes in my books. Mind you, this is not a complete list by a long shot, but it’s a start and we can certainly add to it in the comments section, eh?

  • Advent
  • Angels
  • Baking
  • Bells
  • Candles
  • Candy cane
  • Carolers
  • Christmas cookies
  • Christmas decorations
  • Christmas play or recital
  • Christmas tree
  • Church
  • Cranberries
  • Elves
  • Emmanuel
  • Epiphany
  • Family
  • Food/drink (egg nog/wassail)
  • Gingerbread men/house
  • Greeting cards
  • Hearth fires
  • Ice Skating/Sledding
  • Jingle Bells
  • Kids
  • Lovable characters
  • Memories
  • Mistletoe
  • Music/Christmas carols
  • Nativity
  • North Pole
  • Nutcrackers
  • Pine boughs
  • Poinsettia
  • Presents/boxes/bows
  • Priests/nuns/ministers
  • Redemption
  • Reindeer
  • Santa & Mrs. Claus
  • Setting
  • Sleds
  • Snow
  • Snowmen/Snow angels
  • Soup kitchen/Salvation Army/parish fundraiser
  • Sugar plums
  • Three Wise Men
  • Traditions
  • Twelve days of Christmas components
  • Wreaths

TRADITIONS:
Okay, take my Christmas story, A Light in the Window—please! ;) What do you suppose was the very first thing that came to my mind when I brainstormed this Marcy/Patrick prequel to my Daughter of Boston series?

Tradition! (all together now, hum the song from Fiddler on the Roof here).

You see, I knew I wanted to have the heroine Marceline O’Connor oversee the St. Mary’s parish fundraiser play that supports the church’s soup kitchen during 1895 (which was one of the worst depressions up till then). And no, I did not cheat and name the church St. Mary’s because of the Christmas movie The Bells of St. Mary’s, although that was a definite plus. I actually named the parish St. Mary’s way back in my Daughters of Boston series.

Anyway, I needed a title for the Christmas play and thought to myself, mmm … maybe an Irish Christmas tradition? So I googled that and BINGO! The #1 Irish Christmas tradition listed was none other than “a light in the window,” placed there from Christmas Eve to Epiphany to welcome the Holy Family. This actual tradition not only became the name of my book and the play within, but symbolism for the story itself where two men pledge their undying love to Marcy, but only one truly responds to the “light in the window,” meaning the love of Christ in her heart.

SETTING:
With setting, I have found that you don’t want to go on and on and on, but it is essential to set the mood of the room in the first few paragraphs at least, which is what I tried to do in this scene from A Passion Most Pure, where I used the five senses all bolded below—taste, touch, smell, sight, and sound) to convey a Christmas feel, along with things from my Christmas list above.

        Faith was certain the parlor had never looked lovelier. She wished Mrs. Gerson could see it as she ushered her to a chair by the hearth. Her mother had every oil lamp, candle and light glowing, causing the tree to shimmer with a dazzling array of ornaments and candied fruit (sight). The air drifted with the sweet scent of pine and cinnamon (smell) while the fire crackled and spit (sound), warming the room with the cozy feel of family (sight/touch). Her father chatted with Mrs. Gerson as he stoked the fire while her mother divvied out mugs of steaming hot cocoa and coffee (taste and touch). Faith savored the rich residue of chocolate (taste) on her tongue, a tempting taste of the delicious things to come.  
        Under the tree, Katie was busy playing with the manger. She placed Mary and Joseph on their sides, covering them with her bear’s blanket. Steven lay prostrate beside her, galloping the camel like a stallion.
        Katie snatched it away, a look of disapproval on her face. “Give me the horse. It’s time for his nap,” she said.
        "It's a camel," he snapped, wrestling it from her hand. "Camels don't take naps."
        "Mama, Steven took my horse!" Katie wailed.

KIDS:
Okay, let’s face it—toss some cute kids or pets into a scene, and hearts just automatically melt like snow on a salted sidewalk. Think about the favorite Christmas movies out there—A Christmas Story, A Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street—all have a kid in a subordinate or main role. So I knew that A Light in the Window just had to have kids, especially since the story itself was about a parish Christmas play, right?

Here’s a scene where one of the heroes (yes, there are two!) meets a little girl who is a cast member—or “outcast” member, I should say—since she’s ostracized by the other kids because she’s bossy and poor. I don’t know about you, but this little ragamuffin won my heart as she eventually wins that of the hero and everyone else in the play.

        “So … what’s your name?”
        Hammer in hand, Patrick paused, one nail lodged in his teeth and another positioned against a kitchen cabinet façade while he, Sam and a few other men built scenery. The smell of sawdust and popcorn filled the noisy auditorium along with thick, humid air from the sweltering summer night. One of the little girls from the play blinked up at him, obviously more interested in pestering him on her break than playing duck, duck, goose with the rest of the kids in the cast. He studied her out of the corner of his eye, her impossibly thick eyeglasses magnifying her hazel eyes at least double in size. His lips quirked, angling the ten-penny nail straight down. “Atrick,” he mumbled, dropping the “P” in the absence of being able to press his lips together.
        The little squirt squinted, nose wrinkling almost clear up to her eyes. “What kind of name is that—Aa-a-a-a-aaa-trick?” she said, grinding it out. “Sounds stupid to me.” She slapped a molasses-colored braid over her shoulder like a challenge.
        Patrick pounded one nail into the wood, then spit the second into his free hand, righting it in the air. “P-atrick,” he enunciated, popping extra “puh” into the “P.” He placed and buried the nail with a single deafening whack, eyeing her with a slant of a smile.   “And you are?”
        “Matilda,” she said with a sharp thrust of her pointed little chin. “But my friends call me Tillie.”
        He wiped sweat from his forehead with the side of his upper sleeve. “They do, do they? So, what should I call you?”
        She cocked her head, assessing him through slivers of golden brown eyes. “You can call me Tillie, I guess, but only ‘cause you’re cute.”
        His lips parted in a grin. “Funny, I was thinking the same thing about you.”
        The little dickens actually blushed. “No you weren’t neither,” she said with a scowl. “Nobody thinks I’m cute.”
        He jagged a brow, tucking a nail in his teeth while he fixed another to the wood. “I do.”
        “No you don’t.”
        Thwack! He drove the nail home and angled to face her, removing the other one from his mouth. “You calling me a liar, Miss—?”
        “Dewey. Matilda Dewey.” She jutted her chin. “And you bet I am, mister, ‘cause ain’t nobody ever called me ‘cute’ afore, so you gotta be lyin’.”
        Huffing out a sigh, Patrick scratched the back of his neck with the hammer, then peered up beneath slatted lids, his heart going out to the little dickens who couldn’t be a day over six. “Well, I’m not lying, Miss Dewey, and for your information, I happen to know a thing or two about pretty women.”
        She folded her arms. “Ha! That proves it. I ain’t no woman yet and I ain’t pretty neither, leastways not accordin’ to Omer.”
        He slacked a hip, hammer loose at his side while he scanned her head to toe, taking in the frayed grayish pinafore he supposed had been white at one time. He sighed. “A girl is just a woman not fully blossomed yet, Miss Dewey, and it’s easy to see you’re gonna be a pretty one when you’re finally in full bloom.” Hammer in hand, he motioned toward her head. “For instance, take your hair. Sure, it’s in pigtails now, but it’s the color of summer wheat at the edge of dusk, with just a glow of pink about it. And those eyes?” He shook his head as if he had no earthly idea why she couldn’t see what he saw. “Like polished amber, guaranteed to turn more than one male head down the road.”
        Her nose rumpled in a scrunch. “What’s amber?”
        “Ever see the eyes of a tiger, darlin’?” he asked, face in a squint.
        “Nope.”
        “Well, they’re the prettiest honey gold you ever did see, downright hypnotize a man if he isn’t careful.”
        Her face squished again. “What’s hip-no-tize?”
        He shifted his weight to the other leg with an exhale as thick as her glasses. “You always ask this many questions?”
        “More,” she said, eyes wise beyond her years and all too sober. “Which is why Omer hauls off and whacks me sometimes.”
        The hammer suddenly felt like a 2-ton sledge. “Hits you?” he bit out, jaw clenched. “Who the blazes is this moron, anyway?”
        She shrugged her shoulders as if getting whacked were an everyday occurrence, and Patrick’s gut felt like he’d swallowed a handful of those blasted ten-penny nails. “Ma’s friend. He don’t like it when I talk too much, so he whacks me.” She pulled up the sleeve of her arm, displaying a rash of ugly bruises from wrist to elbow and beyond, no doubt. “He done this and lots more I cain’t show ya on account of it ain’t proper, but see this?” Finger sliding her neck, she rubbed a whole patch of gray he’d just assumed was dirt, lips pursed as if it were a badge of honor. “Tried to whack my mama, but I spit on his boots, so he throttled me instead,” she said with no little pride. “Hurt like perdition, but least Mama got away.”
        The hammer clunked to the floor when Patrick squatted to his knees, jaw hard but grip soft as he clutched her skinny arms in threadbare sleeves, the feel akin to twigs wrapped in tissue paper.   “Why the blazes does your mama let him come around, Tillie? Why doesn’t she just kick the bum out?”
        Her tiny rib cage expanded and contracted, deflating like the pride in her eyes. “For crying out loud in a bucket, mister, don’t ya think she tried? But he keeps coming around, drunk as a skunk and ain’t nobody can make him go away.”
        A knot jerked in Patrick’s throat as he rose, eyes as steely and pointed as the nails in his pocket. “Can you give this Omer a message for me, darlin’?”
        She tucked dirty fingernails into the tattered pockets of her pinafore. “Sure, I guess.”
        He pointed the hammer like a threat. “You tell that worthless sack of dung that if he lays another finger on you or your mama, that me and my hammer are gonna pay him a visit, you hear?”
        A grin split her face, complete with a missing tooth. “Jumpin’ toadstools, mister, shore would pay good money to see that! Iffen I had any.” She tilted her head as she studied him through those larger-than-life amber slits. “Say, how old are you, anyway?”
        “Old enough to arrange a few of Omer’s teeth,” Patrick said with a wink.

PRIESTS/NUNS/CHURCH:
Some of my favorite Christmas movies feature beloved priests or nuns, and they always give me a warm feeling in a movie or book, I guess because ministers, priests or nuns represent people who love and serve God and give to others. Just look at movies like Going My Way or The Bells of St. Mary’s, with Bing Crosby, or even The Bishop’s Wife with—be still my heart—Cary Grant. These are all movies that rise to a level of respect and sacred tradition just by virtue of having clergy involved. So I sure wasn’t going to miss out on putting a crotchety, stick-wielding nun or a beloved Irish priest into my Christmas novel! Here’s a scene where Father Fitzgibbon’s catches the two rogue heroes drinking stolen sacristy wine in his confessional and makes them pay ...

        With a cumbersome sigh, Father Fitz tucked the bottle under his arm. “No, gentlemen, I’m afraid Hail Mary’s and Our Fathers have run their course here.” He shook his head with a grimace. “Trust me, I’ve stockpiled them for you both since you crossed the threshold of St. Mary’s, so now it’s time to put your money where your mouth is.” His chin inched up with a steeled sobriety Patrick had seen many a time. “And since time is money, you will pay through the nose with as much community service as I can possibly bleed from the both of you.”
        “And if we won’t do it?” Sam said, a glint of challenge to his tone.
        Father Fitz studied Sam with a firm tilt of his head, the faint shifting of a jaw that Patrick recognized all too well from countless hours of detention with a man few students defied. “You know, it’s a curious thing, Samuel—your mother has been after me to come to dinner for months now, so perhaps I should come next week, imparting some information that just may batten your hatches a wee bit.”
        Patrick’s eyes weighted closed. Great. Another knock-down, drag-out with Pop.
        “I think I may just chance it, Father,” Sam said, the dark stubble on his jaw as menacing as the stubborn gleam in his eye. “I can live without my mother’s approval.”
        “Ah, yes, Mr. O’Rourke, but the question remains—can you live without money?”
        Sam blinked. “Pardon me?”
        Humor played at the edge of the priest’s mouth, which was compressed like his jaw in a battle of wills. “Money, Mr. O’Rourke. You know, remuneration for a job well done that allows you to buy a round a drinks at the corner pub, dazzle a pretty girl with an ice-cream soda, or purchase the proper clothes befitting the neighborhood rakes?”
        The blood drained from Patrick’s face as quickly as it did from Sam’s.
        “Yes, well, you see, gentlemen,” Father Fitz continued in a tone as matter-of-fact as his smile, “a priest has friends in high places in addition to the Almighty, you know. Such as, shall we say, the Herald?”
        Patrick’s eyes lumbered closed, the lump in his throat as tight as the noose Father Fitz was cinching around their necks. Both he and Sam needed their jobs at the Herald if Patrick was going to go to college and Sam was going to rise to management.
        “I don’t know if I’ve ever told you boys, but Arthur Hennessey and I go way back.” Father Fitz nodded with a faint smile, eyes trailing into what apparently was a fond trip down Memory Lane. “Actually coached him on the parish league, if you can imagine that.” He snapped out of his reverie, his smile brightening considerably. “Of course that was way before he took over as CEO of the Herald, you understand. Although I have to admit, nobody tossed a meaner knuckleball.”
        Patrick stifled a groan. Except you, Father Fitz ...
        “So … “ Patrick jolted when the priest clapped his hands, his grin almost as loud. “I look forward to seeing you gentlemen at the fundraiser meeting next week, where you’ll learn all about just why absconding with the sacristy wine is not a good idea.”
        “This is blackmail, Father,” Sam said with a scowl.
        Father Fitz blinked, a wedge popping at the bridge of his nose. “Yes, I suppose it is, Samuel …” He quickly dismissed his concern with a wave of a hand. “Well, no never mind,” he said with a shrug of his shoulders, his smile veering into dazzling, “I’m on good terms with the Man upstairs—I’ll just absolve myself.”

MUSIC/CHRISTMAS CAROLS:
I don’t know about you, but every time I hear the song, O Holy Night, I get tears in my eyes, so I knew that I wanted that song to play an important part in my book. Here is an emotional scene where a little girl in a wheelchair is wheeled in by her brother to audition for the play, and I strongly feel that the reader’s familiarity with this song helps to elicit the emotion I was trying to convey:

        Marcy took a quick swipe at her eyes and leaned forward, awarding Holly the brightest smile she could muster. She noted the faded calico dress the little girl wore that appeared three sizes too big and a pale face that made her appear like a china doll with liquid-brown eyes. “Holly, are you ready to read from the script?”
        The little girl nodded, chestnut hair trailing fragile shoulders as she gave Marcy a sweet smile. “Yes, ma’am,” she whispered, her voice so soft and wispy, Marcy worried that no one would be able to hear.
        “Start at the beginning, then, sweetheart, reading the script just like you’re that little girl in the play who’s excited about Christmas, all right?”
        Holly nodded again and paused … right before she belted out the lines as if they were coming from an entirely different little girl.
        “Excellent!” Marcy said with a grin when Holly had finished. “Are you ready to sing, and do you know the Christmas carol, Oh, Holy Night?”
        “Yes, ma’am.”
        “Perfect!” Marcy glanced up at the piano. “Julie, let’s try C major, all right?”
        Whether it was the fact that it was late and everyone was tired or whether it was the sight of a frail little girl in a wheelchair who longed to be a part of the play, the room stilled to a hush. Marcy’s breath suspended as she waited, the pounding of her own pulse in her ears drowning out Julie’s musical intro. And then, in the sweet and soulful song of a little girl, a steamy and noisy auditorium became the gate of heaven itself as a sound so poignant rose in the room, Marcy had no power over the tears that slipped from her eyes.
        For several thudding heartbeats after the last note was sung, the silence was almost painful, an ache in Marcy’s chest over the loss of a voice that had ushered them into the very presence of God. And then, in a blast of applause that swelled to the ceiling, the audience shot to their feet along with Marcy and Sister Francine, dewy-eyed over a delicate little girl who may not be able to walk, but whose voice could soar to the sky.

***

Okay, those are a few of the ways I've tried to put the feeling of Christmas into my books, so give me some ideas of your own or just leave a comment, and I’ll toss your name in the pot for your choice of my signed books. AND … if you’d like an opportunity to have a character named after you in my next book, a signed copy of said book, and a $50 gift card, hop on over to my VIDEO CONTEST going on over at my Journal Jots blog. There are three chances to win and all you have to do is watch and “LIKE” the video, then vote for your favorite rogue. I will even award extra points if you click on the Rafflecopter option on my contest page, telling me you read this post on Seekerville first. Here’s the link and hope to see you there!

121 comments :

  1. Perfect timing again, Julie!

    I'm in the middle of writing a proposal for a Christmas story, and you've given me a lot meaty things to ponder over and weave into my story. Thank you!

    And yes, I LOVE Christmas stories! heading over to buy A Light in the Window right now :)

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  2. Julie - I've got to run read A Light In The Window! Sounds wonderful. I'm with you and I love Christmas books. Oh, and another thing we agree on - Cary Grant.

    Your husband did an amazing job on the video!

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  3. Hey, Everybody ... I brought TONS of my favorite Christmas cookies to nibble on along with cinnamon roll coffee and hazelnut ... oh, and red velvet for Sandra Leesmith!

    Would you believe that I used to bake 60 dozen cookies and 30 rum cakes every year for YEARS??? I was inflicted with MSD at the time (Martha Stewart Disease) and drove my hubby crazy. I would make 30 cookie plates, complete with 8 different types of cookies, rum cake, and candies, decorated with pink saran and real holly leaves from my bush in the front yard.

    Favorite cookies I made??

    --Russian teacakes
    --Rice Krispies wreaths
    --White spritz flowers with different jam centers (peach, raspberry and blackberry)
    --Iced sugar cookies (all shapes and all decorated with three colors of icing ... would take me 20 minutes per cookie!)
    --Fudge
    --White and mint almond bark
    --M&M cookies

    What are your favorites??

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  4. Oh, JAN, that's AWESOME!! I LOVE timely things, don't you?? Of course Christmas is timely in and of itself this time of year when we need a bit of break from the winter, eh?

    Thank you SO much for buying ALITW ... I sure hope you enter the contest by clicking that option in the Rafflecopter box, okay?

    Hugs!!
    Julie

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  5. TERRI!! LOVED your blog a few days ago, my friend, so it's fun to see you on this side of the comment box!

    Thank you SO much for buying ALITW, and like I told Jan above, make sure you enter the contest by clicking that option in the Rafflecopter box, okay?

    Oh, and THANK YOU for your sweet comment about my hubby's video -- I will admit that I think it's pretty cool. The video you actually saw has two typos in it, but YouTube won't let us fix them. You can post a whole new video with the corrections (which we did), but you lose all the LIKES, which I didn't want to do, so I don't tell anybody about the revised one. :\

    Mmmm ... maybe I ought to give points to anybody that can find the typos ... ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  6. Not sure how I'm going to handle this Christmas in the desert thing.

    I just turned on the A/C as it is 78 in my office.

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  7. I'll be back for more tomorrow...

    But I will make lots of cookies. More than I make for ACFW. I have that many teachers/former teachers/specials teachers/aides/front office peeps/nurses/etc.

    Sigh.

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  8. I wish I didn't have so many books stacked up to read and review. I would love to start on A Light in the Window right now. I loved this blog post Julie you did a fantastic job.

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  9. No ... I STILL haven't gone to bed yet despite hubby snoring beside me. But soon, I hope ...

    LOL, TEENSTER ... I'll trade ya ... it's 19 degrees right now in St. Louis ...

    CAROL!!! You did NOT tell me the kinds of cookies you make, girlfriend ... I'm curious!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  10. Your examples are perfect, Julie. I always have to remind myself to include all the senses when I'm writing. I forget the reader needs to know what I already know.

    Christmas is such a nostalgic time. I love a good Christmas story, too, and am definitely going to have to pick up A Light in the Window.

    Christmas cookies in our household have to include Peanut Butter Snowballs, Almond Crescents and what our kids call "Kiss Cookies" -- balls of shortbread with a chocolate kiss buried in the centre.

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  11. Aw, DEBBIE, THANK YOU!! I feel a bit badly it's so long, but I just figure people can read what they want and chuck the rest. And believe it or not, I cut out 2,000 words!! YIKES, but I'm a chatterbox, aren't I???

    And, DEB, you still have a month and half before Christmas (OUCH ... that actually hurt to say that!!), so hopefully there's time to get ALITW in. But even if you don't, it's not reallllllly just a Christmas book -- I just market it that way at Christmas. But since it's a story that takes place from June to June, I'll just market it as an "Irish Love Story" the rest of the year, so you really have a whole year or more, right?? ;)

    KOPI SAID: "Christmas and cookies both are as river and bank of river. They are not count without each other."

    Okay, KOPI, call me old or just plain stupid, but you may have to explain that one to me, my friend ... :|

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  12. Loved this post! Got me all excited for Christmas!
    I skipped reading the scenes from ALITW-sorry-cause I'm huge no spoilers/everything in order girl and I wanted to enjoy the scenes when I read the book! Which will actually be arriving this afternoon!!!!!!! I can't wait to read it though I have a pile of review books I have to read first and I will have almost no reading time this week and next.
    For the past I've-lost-count-of-how-many-years our family has put on a bazaar and bake sale the Saturday before Thanksgiving. In the past it has been to raise money for mission trips but since none of us are going on a trip this year we decided to use the money to dig a well in India. So for the past few months I've been crocheting up a storm and now this week is crunch time on that since next will be baking week where I'll be lucky if I get to sit down! We make hundreds of cookies, tons of quick breads, freshly ground whole wheat bread, and more! It gets rather crazy! So yeah reading will be at an absolute minimum till this is over! But as soon as I can I'm curling up with ALITW!
    Thanks for the chance to win one of your books!!!

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  13. I absolutely love the cover of A Light in the Window. I am also a HUGE fan of Christmas stories. I just finished ready two and am reaching for another.

    The video was beautiful Julie. Your husband did a fantastic job!

    I use to make tons of cookies at Christmas (Spritz, Peanut Blossoms, Surprise Cookies), See's Fudge, Gumdrop Fruitcakes... but when I got married I stopped as my husband is diabetic and I didn't want to tempt him.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com

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  14. I love snow. I love Christmas. I don't get sick of snow until late February when the urge for flowers grabs me, heart and soul!!!

    I love writing and reading Christmas stories, I get giddy with Christmas music, I love the deep reflective layering of a moral premise that is shored up by the season of miracles... Much like setting a Jewish story of regret and redemption around Yom Kippur, setting uplifting romances at Christmas is a perfect blend, like a caramel macchiato at Starbucks.

    Happy, happy, happy! :)

    Julie, thank you for this reminder! Now must go work on next year's Christmas book... and how fun to be doing it during the Christmas season! Yay!

    Julie, I'm going with you can't have a river without a bank.... A river without a bank becomes a lake.

    But I'm all over Kopi's idea of Christmas and cookies! Let the baking saga begin!!!

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  15. JULIE- I love Christmas! Can't go wrong there!!


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  16. Abbi- That's a beautiful tradition and I love that you're raising money for a well. We just don't know what it's like to not have clean water...

    I have two book signings in the next two weeks and I ordered 100 copies of my book. I'm coordinating with our local homeless shelter and if people bring an item from their wish list (socks, gloves, coffee) then they get a free, signed book!

    Maybe next year, we'll fundraise for a well in a foreign country. I just love that idea.

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  17. Watched your video twice. So beautiful. And I love your characters. Also headed over to buy A Light in the Window right now.

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  18. I love reading Christmas books too. Maybe one day I'll get to write one. Thanks for these wonderful hints.

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  19. Julie....what a great posting! Can't wait to read your latest novel! Merry Christmas, too.

    karenk
    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

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  20. Great post, Julie! I love reading about how authors come up with ideas for their books, so I enjoyed it very much. =) I absolutely LOVED the Christmas feel in ALITW, and how Patrick was with Tillie- SO cute!
    The trailer for this is amazing! Your husband did a great job! =)

    Hugs, and hope all is well!

    lubell1106(at)gmail(dot)com

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  21. A Light In The Window is now a Christmas classic on my reading shelf! You packed so much emotion and CHRISTMAS into that novella, it was difficult to remember is it was, afterall, a novella!!!!

    Great advice here, Jules. I love how you make scenes come alive through the senses and the raw emotions the characters portray.

    Wow.

    Anyone ever tell you that you were a born romance writer????

    Each time you post in Seekerville, it's like getting a mini workshop. I love it.

    Well, you certainly infused the Christmas spirit into this day in November. I'm so looking forward to Dec 25 already!!

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  22. Oh, and baking cookies? My daughter and I splurged and bought a KitchenAid mixer a few weeks ago. I know it's just a mixer, but it seems to make everything we bake taste just a tad bit better : )

    My favorites are:

    Rumballs
    Spritz cookies
    "Ear" Cookies - I have no idea what they're called but they're German : )
    Anything chocolate!!

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  23. A Light In The Window is now a Christmas classic on my reading shelf! You packed so much emotion and CHRISTMAS into that novella, it was difficult to remember is it was, afterall, a novella!!!!

    Great advice here, Jules. I love how you make scenes come alive through the senses and the raw emotions the characters portray.

    Wow.

    Anyone ever tell you that you were a born romance writer????

    Each time you post in Seekerville, it's like getting a mini workshop. I love it.

    Well, you certainly infused the Christmas spirit into this day in November. I'm so looking forward to Dec 25 already!!

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  24. Julie, I loved this. I think it would be wonderful to write a Christmas story, some day. In my first book, I included a scene from my MC's memory of dancing with her father to a Christmas carol. I loved your list of ideas to include in a Christmas story. At the moment, I can't add to your list. I'll keep thinking though, and see what I come up with.

    BTW, O Holy Night is my absolute, all time favorite Christmas carol.

    Please enter me in the drawing for one of your books. :)

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  25. A fun post! I love Christmas time and christmas stories are my very favorites!

    I have to hit the road early this morning and didn't have time to read the entire post—but I'll enjoy a relaxing read this evening. :-)

    And I'll be humming 'It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas all day long'.... :-D

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  26. Julie -- I love everything you write, especially Christmas. One of my favourite things about the season is reading Christmas stories. Blissful sigh. I'd add animals to your list of what can make a story Christmassy. Abandoned puppy, a child's wish for a kitten for Christmas or how about a reindeer farm? I'm about to start reading that LI book! What can I say -- I'm an animal lover and I swoon over a hero with a soft heart for critters. :-)

    Oh -- and speaking of cookings. Just saw this idea on a tv show yesterday -- they made a nutella sandwich out of shortbread cookies! Yummmmmm!!!!!

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  27. Love Christmas stories. And Hallmark movies. It's all good!

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  28. Chocolate chip cookies, Julie! If I'm making that many, I go with easy peasy ;).

    We'll make sugar cookies, too. With my MIL. Probably the day before Thanksgiving and as close to our family Christmas as we can [otherwise, they won't make it that long].

    Tina - Dad would often turn the air on Christmas Day - so we could have a fire.

    Why, yes. There are fireplaces in Phoenix. To this day, I don't know why...

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  29. Julie, I love these excerpts. You are amazing! :)

    It's certainly beginning to FEEL like Christmas around here. Cold and brisk. Brrr!!!

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  30. Julie, I just loved this post...it truly put me in the Christmas Spirit! You mentioned why you put certain things in ALITW and that's why I love this book so very much! It has such a warm, cozy Christmassy feel about it that I have decided to add a new tradition. I want to read it again every Christmas and I NEVER reread books! Just the best Christmas book ever!

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  31. Julie, Julie, Julie! Love this post! You are such a masterful teacher. I always learn so much from you--thank you for sharing your wealth of knowledge to inspire the little people like me. ;)
    Makes me want to write something Christmas-ie...
    And I brought a delicious hazelnut flavored Italian Soda to share with you, since I believe you still haven't had one yet. ;)
    Hugs and loves!
    Amber

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  32. AND real quick--I LOVE The Bishop's Wife--I grew up on that movie!! Such a great Christmas film... and Cary Grant? Swoon!

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  33. Thanks, Julie! I've had the bug to write another Christmas novel for some time now. I have the bare bones of an idea but haven't had the chance to develop it.

    Hmmmm, wonder why . . .

    But it's true--Christmas stories seem to have a ready readership, especially this time of year. What great tips and inspiration you've shared to get started on one!

    BTW, A Light in the Window is a beautiful story!

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  34. Julie, thanks for your reminder that our faith equips us inspie writers to tell Christmas stories.

    Your list of triggers that bring the emotion of Christmas into our hearts and minds is fantastic! Loved your excerpts!

    Mega congrats on the release of ALITW in paperback!! If anyone hasn't seen the video, don't miss it!! It's fabulous!

    Janet

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  35. Great post, Julie! I'm bookmarking this page so that I can find these tips again when I try my hand at a Christmas story. :)

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  36. Julie, that video is amazing! As is A Light in the Window.
    It is such a beautiful story and I absolutely loved little Tillie!

    I'm all signed up for the video contest!

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  37. Jules,
    I was so super duper excited to see your name pop up in my feed this morning :)

    Not sure if you saw on Casey's review on her blog recently, but I commented on there admitting (with my head hung low) that even though I have been a HUGE fan of yours as long as I've known you....I'm just now reading A Passion Most Pure for the first time *gasp* I know, I know. I'm a terrible person lol and I honestly don't know how it took so long? I think it ended up pushing its way to the back of my book shelf with a bunch of other ChristFic in front of it lol but I dug it out a couple weeks ago and it. Is. FABULOUS!

    Faith really reminds me of myself. Given, I haven't read the others yet....but Faith just reminds me of myself so much. Not in other ways, but yes in some ;) Lol and the book is really just feeding my soul. So thank you for writing it, though I know you've heard this before. Your writing is exquisite and comforting as I read into the wee hours in the morning lol!

    I have to say, I am a total Christmas fool. I love it, everything about it. This year I'm especially ready for it for some reason and your post didn't help :P I've decided I really need to read A Light in the Window because Marcy and Patrick? Be still my heart....the epitome of romance. I think they're what everyone wants. Your list of triggers certainly does just that....

    Thank you for a wonderful post :) I think I may just listen to Christmas music on my walk that I'm getting ready to leave for LOL it's not too early yet, right??
    Hannah

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  38. Oh, CAROL ... GOTTA LOVE THOSE "KISS" COOKIES!!! ;) Cannot BELIEVE I forgot to include those on my list, given how much I love "kisses" ... both chocolate and others! ;) Thanks SO much for your kind comment AND for picking up ALITW -- it's at the lowest price of the season at 99 cents for ebook, so I hope you'll take advantage, my friend. HAPPY READING!!

    ABS!!! LOL ... glad I could give you a rev for the holidays, and I don't blame you for skipping the excerpts, although they aren't spoilers because I would NEVER do that, trust me!! And, WOW, I am sooooo impressed with your family's bazaar and bake sale, girl -- that ROCKS!!

    HUGS,
    Julie

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  39. Aw, CINDY, THANK YOU!! I'm pretty partial to the cover as well because I love anything my talented hubby does, and then, of course, it's SO fun to see my baby girl on the cover!! And the video?? Oh, girl, don't even get me started. YOUTUBE is gonna ban me for all the times I watch it. :) Oh, and WOW -- gumdrop fruitcakes??? First time I heard of that, but makes SO much more sense than that nasty candied fruit!!

    LOL, RUTHY ... I'm glad I'm not the only one who didn't track with Kopi's river analogy. Obviously Kopi is WAY above my head ... kinda like Vince!! ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  40. LOL, VIRGINIA ... I'm with you, girlfriend, but just a suggestion if you really want to bless someone this Christmas ... stop beating me in the "Best Historical Romance" sales ranking on Amazon, all right?? Come on, girl, give me a shot to sell some books!! ;) Seriously, I have several of your books on my iPad Mini, and am just chomping to dive in, my friend!!

    And, WOW ... what an absolutely FABULOUS idea with that book signing, Virginia!! I am SOOOO impressed!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  41. BLESS YOU, CARA G!!! Sooo appreciate you watching the video AND buying ALITW ... I hope you enjoy it.

    AND ... if you do, keep in mind that I will be running a newsletter contest soon where even one review posted on Amazon enters you for a random drawing to have a character named after you in book 3 of the Heart of San Francisco series and a signed copy of that book. PLUS … the top poster also wins a $50 gift card, so if you do post any reviews, DO let me know, okay? BUT ... if you are not comfortable posting reviews, NO WORRIES!! I am just SO grateful that you read my books in the first place, okay?

    JACKIE ... my contention is that everybody eventually tackles a Christmas book (or wants to) at some point, or at least that's what happened to me. ALITW actually wasn't really intended as a Christmas book, but I decided to promo it that way during the season because it is based on an Irish Christmas tradition, and I thought -- why not?? But it actually takes place June through June, so I do market it all year.

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  42. KAREN!!! I can't wait for you to read my latest novel, either!! Can you believe it's only SEVEN WEEKS away from release?? And I have to say, Dare to Love Again is THE SWEETEST and least passionate (and, I hope, funniest) of all the books I've written, including ALITW. :)

    Thanks SO much, ELYSSA!! No question that Tillie and the other kiddos bring a warm feeling to ALITW, as do Father Fitz and Sr. Francine. :) And the trailer?? Oh, yeah, my hubby is a WONDER!! Not only because he is so talented, but because he puts up with this CDQ day in and day out and hasn't taken to drink yet ... ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  43. Julie,
    I ADORED A Light in the Window!!!!

    I love Christmas movies, but my favorites are the ones we watched as kids. You know, Frosty and Rudolph...my favorite--A Year Without a Santa Claus.

    I still enjoy every minute of Christmas, but it was more fun when the kids were little and believed in Santa Claus. The excitement as they ran to see what was under the tree. Those are the best memories of all.

    One of these days, I'll try to write a Christmas story but there's not any swirling around in head right now.

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  44. AUDS!!! "Novella," you say??? LOL ... well, it was originally pitched that way to my publisher, yes. But when they told us they wanted to slate it for 2014 two years ago, my agent and I decided to do the project ourselves, and you know what happens when there's no editor to watch over me ... this 40,000-word novella suddenly became an almost 120,000-word novel. :| There's just no stopping the chatterbox in me when I get going, I'm afraid ... And "born to romance"?? Yeah, I'm inclined to think that, too ... ;) Love ya, girl!!

    Oh, WOW, a Kitchen-Aid is the ONLY way to go!! My momma had one and I have one, and I simply can't see baking without one. Of course, mine is half-dead from neglect ... ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  45. And Julie, all that baking? Wow!!!

    My side of the family has a tradition that we have a big "snack" meal on Christmas Eve. No turkey or fancy dinner. Homemade Reeses PB cups? We got it. Cheese dip. Someone normally makes shrimp or salmon, but it's served like finger foods. Throughout the year we get together for real meals but I love the break at Christmas time.

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  46. JEANNE T!!! O Holy Night is your fave too??? Gosh, girlfriend, then you really need to read ALITW because in its entirety, that O Holy Night scene will rip you up ... or at least it does me. :)

    LOL, MARY ... yeah, I'll be humming it too, along with O Holy Night, which pops up in the excerpts. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  47. KAV!!! I actually have pets listed above, but when I read the word "animals" in your comment, visions of reindeer and stable creatures came to mind, so YES, that's a great add!! And nutella shortbread??? Goodness, anything with shortbread, and I'm SO there ... ;)

    COURTNEY ... YES, YES, YES!! LOVE those Hallmark movies!!! My hubby and I watch them all -- SO fun!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  48. CAROL, REALLY??? Your dad would turn the fireplace on on Christmas to have a fire?? That is sooooo ADORABLE!! :)

    LOL, PAMMY, yes it is, and it's a good feeling, isn't it??

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  49. Aw, DIANA, you just brought tears to my eyes!! To think that you would reread ALITW every Christmas when you don't even reread books is SUCH a blessing -- THANK YOU, my sweet friend!!

    LOL, AMBER ... I promise I will get that hazelnut Italian soda before I am through -- HOPEFULLY with you, my friend. The next time I come to Spokane, it's a date. :) Love ya!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  50. Thanks SO MUCH, Myra -- coming from a respected peer and favorite author, your approval of ALITW means more than I can say, my friend! I absolutely LOVED your Christmas novel, An Imperfect Christmas ... both the title and the story!! :)

    Thanks, JANET -- I do think that list of "triggers" helps when we are crafting a Christmas story ... kind of like a mini-brainstorming session, you know?

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  51. Hey, ANNA, THANK YOU!! And I have to say, Christmas stories are SO fun to write, so good luck with yours when you get the whim to do it. :)

    Aw, thanks, DONNA ... I appreciate your kind words AND your entry into the contest -- GOOD LUCK, my friend!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  52. I adore Christmas books and read several each Christmas. It has always been a dream of mine to write a Christmas novel...or several. :-) Your book sounds terrific, Julie!

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  53. HANNAH!!! LOL ... of course it's not too early to listen to Christmas music, girl, so strap that iPod on and get cracking!!

    And, seriously??? You haven't read any of my books yet??? I could of sworn you won some in a contest, no? Can hardly believe you are reading APMP for the first time now, but I am SO happy you are enjoying it. And, yes, I LOVE Marcy and Patrick's relationship (which is based on my hubby's and mine, by the way), so I'm thinking you will absolutely LOVE A Light in the Window, to see how these two got their start. :) Good luck in the contest, Hannah, and sooooooooo good to see you back in Seekerville, darlin'!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  54. CONNIE!!! Thank you SOOO much for "adoring" ALITW -- that warms the cockles of my heart, although I've never really been sure just what "cockles" are, but I figure they must be good if they're heart-related, right??? would you believe I have NEVER heard of "A Year Without Santa Claus," much less seen it??!! Is it a Hallmark movie??

    And, WOW, Connie -- LOVE the idea of a "snack meal," girl -- sounds fun ... especially those homemade Reeses -- YUM!!

    HUGS,
    Julie

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  55. Hey, MEGHAN ... you should definitely do it, girl, because there's something so magical about writing a Christmas story, truly. And it's a story that come out yearly, always close to your heart. :)

    and thank you for saying ALITW sounds "terrific" ... I hope you think so if/when you read it!! :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  56. Oh no, Julie. A Year Without a Santa Claus is one of those animated shows like Rudolph. Honestly, I love it because of the songs. Two by the snow miser and heat miser, a then little girl sings I'll Have a Blue Christmas Without You. It's kind of a silly show, it just brings out memories from watching it as a kid.

    I remember getting excited anytime any of those shows came on. THEY SHOWED RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER EVERY YEAR ON WEDNESDAY NIGHT. I know because we went to church and we'd always miss it.

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  57. One of my favorite Christmas traditions is filling the stockings and baking and delivering treats. I'm so excited for the Christmas season!

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  58. LOL, CONNIE ... that explains why I haven't seen it -- I'm not much of an animated gal (too much of my own to deal with, I guess! ;) But I'm sorry you missed Rudolph all those years. Thank God for DVDs, right???

    Hey, HEIDI, the stockings were definitely part of my kids favorite things, but I just hated it!! I sound like a Grinch or a Scrooge, don't I??? But the baking and delivering treats?? Oh, YES ... I'm with you there!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  59. Julie
    I love a Light In the Window. I got it the last time you posted it up for free (or I won it. either way a read and LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it).

    The old christmas animated shows are actually edited versions of the originals since when they were made, they were not so "politically correct" (which is why The Little Drummer Boy doesn't get air time - the arab portrayals are seen as "negative" - well, duh, the Arabs killed the little drummer boy's family... whole baseline backstory for the main character). Sorry, animated person here. I bemoan the loss of a lot of "Classics" because of PC, cra... er, stuff.

    As for Christmas. Our family loves it. I used to bake hundreds of Spritz (cookie press) cookies and fill ten or more tins with the frosted treats. Not so much anymore. I still blow out eggs and decorate them for ornaments (i use the egg innards for making cookies or cupcakes). We also have three full mangers around the house. My little one loves "hiding" Jesus from Mary and Joseph - usually on the "roof" of the stable. Don't know why...

    Can't see the video here at work, so I'll have to wait until I get home. I'm thinking I'd like to talk "shop" a little with your hubby about graphics stuff (like book covers...) It appears my employment situation is morphing and I could use some info.

    Love the post. Of course, I adore Christmas as well. I have a Christmas novella idea percolating in my mind. Sci-fi.

    Oops, this is getting long, better stop. Guess you got me inspired Julie. THANKS!

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  60. oh, p.s.

    my favorite song is "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

    not sure why...

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  61. YES, I believe you did do all that with the cookies, Julie. Been there and done that myself. Hey, I am thinking aLitW would make GREAT Christmas "cards" for people since right now it only costs that much for the Kindle version! Whaddayathink? Oh, just finished a scene with my carriage driver, Mr. Lessman, btw--he's such a sweetie!!!

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  62. Loving all this talk... I love the video , its great.
    I have lots to do but I wanted to stop in and pay a howdy. Love ya Jules !
    Linda

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  63. Thanks Julie, This is a wonderful opportunity. And I loved your video and book excerpts! Can't wait to read it! :)

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  64. Gosh, DEBH ... thank you SO much for your kind words about ALITW -- MUCH appreciated, girl!! And I am SO with you on the PC stuff -- that sucks pond water, and I wish it wasn't that way.

    SPRITZ, YES!!! Those and Russian Teacakes are my ALL-TIME FAVES!! What kind of spritz did you make? I did three kinds -- green Christmas trees with red-hot ornaments, white flowers with different color jam centers and sprinkles, then spiral candy-cane shape. SOOOO good!!

    You blow out eggs??? For Christmas ornaments??? Now, THAT is the first time I've ever head of that, seriously. Easter, yes ... but Christmas? You're amazing, girl!!

    LOL about talking shop with my hubby. He's already given me STRICT warning that that is not his career -- videos or book covers or ads, etc. He does them for me, yes, but only because I'm pushy and we live in the same house. The poor man can't escape!! But seriously, there are TONS of great book-cover designers out there, and Ruthy turned me on to one -- Jennifer at Killion -- OUTSTANDING!!

    HUGS,
    Julie

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  65. DEBH ... oh, I love that song, too!! I have SO many favorites, though, as I'm sure you do as well. :)

    CARRIE!! LOL ... I laugh every time you mention your carriage driver, girl!! TOO CUTE!!

    And I think you may have something there, my friend, so THANK YOU for suggesting it!! I always try to bully Keith into doing a Christmas card for me each year, but the man has already done about five and is WORN OUT!! I think sending the video is an EXCEPTIONAL idea, so THANK YOU!! OH WAIT ... you meant sending the e-book as a Christmas card, right? Mmmm ... that's a pretty cool idea as well ... :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  66. LINDA!! Thanks SOOO much for stopping by, darlin', and you know I love you too, girl!!

    Thanks, MELISSA ... I'm anxious to see what you think of ALITW. And if you like it, keep in mind that I will be running a newsletter contest soon where even one review posted on Amazon enters you for a random drawing to have a character named after you in book 3 of the Heart of San Francisco series and a signed copy of that book. PLUS … the top poster also wins a $50 gift card, so if you do post any reviews, DO let me know, okay? BUT ... if you are not comfortable posting reviews, NO WORRIES!! I am just SO grateful that you read my books in the first place, okay?

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  67. I'd love to win one of your books, Julie! I've read almost all of them (and have loved those I've read). I'm still missing A Love Surrendered and Love at Any Cost. :)
    My favorite Christmas songs are "Mary, Did you know?" "Strange Way to Save The World" and "Joy to the World." Not really sure why those are my favorites, they just are, I suppose. :)
    I want you to know how much your books (those I've read) have encouraged me in my faith. I've really enjoyed how you include the couples from previous books and show us how they handle struggles in their marriages and life in general, with faith and prayer. :)
    Thank you for using your talent to bring glory to God and to encourage others!
    Blessings,
    Sarah

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  68. P.S. I forgot to include my email address just in case you need it! Sorry! It's booklover1492[at]rocketmail[dot]com
    Thanks again!
    ~Sarah

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  69. Julie, do you and Ruthy get together every Christmas? You seem like you two have a lot in common. :-)

    Love the Christmas post, not sure I could write my own Christmas book though!

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  70. Loved the post, Julie. The cover for Light in the Window is lovely. Thanks for the ideas for future stories.

    Last year while participating in a Christmas bazaar for charity ideas for a short story came to mind. While still in the setting I quickly wrote them down when I wasn't busy with customers. I'm happy to say The Christmas Bazaar will be included in Splickety Magazine's Dec. issue.

    I wrote a Christmas scene in a novel during the summer. That was far more difficult to do.

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  71. OOOH Julie,
    Pass the hot chocolate!
    This was delicious as a read too.
    Love how you give examples. It helps tremendously.

    May and I are off to see the video shortly.
    Thanks for letting us know about it and the success of ALITW!!!

    And oh wawzah - the assortment of cookies you made. I'm a Snickerdoodle (with extra-cinnamon please) girl myself! or fudge. But that's it's own category! ;)

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  72. OOOOH - Your hubby did GOOOOOD!

    Really scrumptious video. And Sam. Definitely (guy on the right). :)

    about 40-45 seconds in... there's a wee typo. I think??
    Should "women" be "woman"? ACK! I've not read thru the comments so maybe I'm off-base here. Don't know how hard that is to change if necessary.

    Now I'm going to have to scour the archives to find video production. If not, your hubby may need to do a tutorial for us! Really gorgeous. Ya done good there, but, obviously, so did he! And had some terrific material to work with!

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  73. Julie you are my all time favorite author!! You're characters are so real!! I love the O'Connor family and have laughed and cried (yes, actually cried while reading your books). I do have a very serious criticism though...you don't write fast enough for me!!!!! May God continue to bless us while blessing you!

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  74. Pat, congratulations on the magazine article!!!

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  75. Julie, I never imagined a list that long! Great job compiling all the ways we can enhance our Christmas stories!

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  76. Hi Julie, I too love Christmas books and Christmas scenes. I try to put at least one of my family's Christmas traditions in each book I write. I'm working on one right now called All is Bright which ends at Christmas time!

    Loved your scenes from A Light in the Window and can't wait to read it!

    My daughter and I make Christmas candy for friends and neighbors--peppermint bark is a fave and crockpot candy that you just dump chocolate and nuts in the crockpot and let it cook while we make the rest, then our husbands help dip it out onto wax paper.

    And it was 19 here this morning in KY too with a little snow on the grass and lots of frost on the windows of the car.

    Thanks for the chance to win one our your books I don't already have.

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  77. Ahh, JULIE, the reason for wanting to talk shop with your hubby is that I desire to become yet another one of those great book-cover/book trailer designers. Present employment future is looking dim and I'm seeking the next phase of what God has for me. Several Seekerville posts have put seeds of desire in my heart. Coincidence or Divine Providence? Needing good ears to hear God's voice.

    Started with the Christmas egg ornaments back when poor art student with no money for family gifts. Dozen eggs was cheap and I had lots of art supplies so... Ding! New family tradition. My brother and his wife have a Christmas egg ornament tree from the twenty-plus years of my annual gifts (tried buying them a "real" gift one year and they wanted to know where their egg geft was *heh*)

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  78. oops, forgot. SPRITZ cookies were mostly Christmas trees and camels. Did the powered sugar frosting thing with different colors plus cinnamon bits for decorations. So yummy...

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  79. Please enter me in the drawing for one of your books!
    Kathy Bailey

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  80. JULIE that is a gorgeous video -- marvelous music and such a lovely mood.

    I would have been here sooner but I was busy downloading "A Light in the Window." Thanks for letting us know!

    One of our Christmas traditions is fig cake. Yum! In late summer, we freeze some of the figs from our tree just so we can bake fig cakes during the holidays. The kitchen smells of figs, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves ... oh my!

    We're just fine with a warm Christmas and no snow, by the way ;-)

    Nancy C

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  81. went over to see the video. wowzers... really, really cool. compliments to your talented personal artisan.

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  82. Oh my! I'm late today and it's JULIE day!

    Great post to go with a great story! LOVED it!

    Everyone rush out and get a copy! Right now!

    Okay, I'm tired after all those exclamations!

    My favorite cookie at Christmas is Shortbread! So good, but so fattening. LOL.

    Back to judging...

    Cheers,
    Sue

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  83. Hey, Sarah, thank you SO much for reading my books, my friend, AND for your kind words for how they encourage you in your faith. All those scenarios between the couples are based on similar things God taught me in my marriage, so I enjoy imparting the lessons to my readers through the trials and tribulations of the O'Connors. Especially Charity!! ;) No sense in everybody going through the hard knocks I did if I can pass the info on, right?

    I LOVE Mary, Did You Know too!!

    YES, we need to get both ALS and LAAC in your hands, but I do have a secret for you. I don't know the date yet, but Revell told me that Love at Any Cost will be on free download for ONE DAY in December, so keep your eyes peeled, okay? I will always announce deals on my Joural Jots blog, so check that every Friday or my website calendar for any giveaways or freebies, okay?

    Hugs!!
    Julie

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  84. LOL, NAOMI ... I wish!! Ruthy's a blast to hang with, as are all the Seekers, so I would love that, but no, we don't. :|

    You know, Naomi ... I have faith in you, girlfriend -- I not only think you CAN write a Christmas book, I think you will within the next three years. ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  85. WOW, PAT JEANNE ... SUPER CONGRATS on the sale to Splickety Magazine, girlfriend -- sounds like a fun magazine!!

    LOL ... and, yes, writing a Christmas scene in the summer is a wee bit more difficult! ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  86. Oh, MAY ... I LOVE Snickerdoodles too, but I have to admit, I didn't always. Must be an acquired taste. :)

    And THANK YOU for checking out the video -- make sure you enter the contest by clicking on your favorite rogue, okay?

    Mini marshmallows for my hot chocolate, please! ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  87. LOL, LINDA ... you had me worried with the line, "I do have a very serious criticism though ..."

    Trust me, girl, I'm moving as fast as I can, but it sure ain't fast enough, that's for darn sure. :|

    But THANK YOU, you sweet thing, for your very kind words -- I am truly honored to be a favorite of yours, Linda, more than I can say.

    Here's to a win in the contest!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  88. Thanks, MISSY, I didn't either, but when I went to research, I was delighted to discover that I had already utilized quite a few! :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  89. ROSE!!! WHAT A SPECTACULAR IDEA!! Putting your own family traditions in a Christmas story -- SO fun!!

    I actually did that a couple of times, but my editor scratched one. You see, my Aunt Julie (who was like my mom since my mom died when I was 16) would fix whiskey sours, ham and herring for New Years and invite us down, so I had Marcy and Patrick doing the same thing in A Passion Most Pure. Needless to say, the whiskey sours went by the wayside ... ;)

    Brrrrr ... 19 is WAY too cold, girlfriend ... we both need to move to Florida!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  90. Oh, DEBH ... I am putting you on my prayer list RIGHT NOW, girlfriend, for God to guide and direct you in this career AND for supernatural favor. I would definitely try and connect with successful designers to talk to them AND network. Who knows ... maybe one of them would hire you. :)

    Hugs and GOD BLESS your new career!!

    Julie

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  91. Oooooo, DEBH ... sprint camels??? WOW ... I will have to try those ... ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  92. Hey, KATHY BAILEY ... consider yourself entered, darlin', and GOOD LUCK!!

    HUGS,
    Julie

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  93. LOL, NANCY C. ... EXCELLENT REASON for being late, my friend, and you are excused!! ;)

    Yeah, I'm pretty fond of that video, too, and VERY proud of my hubby and daughter. Of course, Patrick and Sam aren't too shabby either ... ;)

    And just FYI -- I will be running a newsletter contest soon where even one review posted on Amazon enters you for a random drawing to have a character named after you in book 3 of the Heart of San Francisco series and a signed copy of that book. PLUS … the top poster also wins a $50 gift card, so if you do post any reviews, DO let me know, okay? The good news is if you haven't posted a review on any of my books in one of my contests before, YOU have a distinct advantage in that you may post a review for all eight books, upping your chances. And you can even post the same 2- or 3-line generic review for each of the books, which makes it easy-peasy! BUT ... if you are not comfortable posting reviews, NO WORRIES!! I am just SO grateful that you read my books in the first place, okay?

    Fig cake??? Oh, honey, anything with cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg, and I am SOOO there!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  94. LOL, DEBH ... this must be a record, girl -- FIVE COMMENTS!! Heck, you should get extra points for that, my friend!!

    Thanks for viewing the video -- hope you entered the contest by voting for your favorite hunk ... ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  95. Hey, SUZI-Q, better late than never, girl, so THANK YOU for coming by.

    And, YES, YES, YES ... LOVE shortbread too!!

    Happy judging!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  96. Hey Julie, I'm glad you enjoyed my post! Okay, good thing you make lots of Christmas cookies because I'm a total flop in the kitchen. I have a ton of adorable cookie cutters, they're just so cute. I love those iced sugar cookies.

    By the way, the video was so lovely, I never noticed a typo.

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  97. Hi, Julie!

    I have no Christmas feel-good components, to add to the list, - & if A Light in the Window were any better, I would have been a total, weeping, basket-case! You aren't the only one that looks at the video repeatedly!

    My grandmother used to make tons of cookies/candy at Christmas, & give to neighbors, friends, family, & even the mailman! I do the same - I try new recipes every year, but also make some of our favorites: buckeyes, no-bake cookies, rice krispy bars, peanut butter with kisses, gumdrop bars, sugar cookies with cranberries & nuts, noodly clusters (with chow mein noodles, peanut butter, etc.), a chocolate cookie with marshmallow & chocolate topping, fruit fudge, & peanut butter fudge.

    In the mood for Christmas now, thank you - not only for A Light in the Window, but for ALL your books! Back to my reading marathon of your books - love you, & love your books, Julie!

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  98. There is just something about sitting in front of a crackling fire and reading a winter/Christmas story. One of the books on my TBR stack is Susan May Warren's older release Baby, it's Cold Outside and something inside me can just not bring myself to read it before the winter months. Which probably explains why it's still on my TBR stack...I never seem to have the time to reach for it! This winter. This winter... ;-) Good post, Julie!

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  99. Sorry to be so slow stopping in today, Julie. The morning was wrecked and 'morning' lasted until about 3 pm, then I guess I just thought the Seekerville bus had passed me by. BUT I AM HERE NOW!!!!

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  100. I love Christmas stories.

    I'm sorry I didn't get in here to talk more with you today. :(

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  101. What I like most about this is your ability to actually bring in priests into the story. I struggle with that as I'm worried it will cut me off from consideration for publishing.

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  102. SO sorry I'm late chiming in today, Julie---but I did really enjoy your post! Cannot wait to read A LIGHT IN THE WINDOW (and viewed that video several times--wow! Great job, and your daughter is LOVELY!!).

    I've always loved Christmas AND Christmas books! Haven't tried my hand at writing one (yet) but love to read them.

    Thanks for this great post today, and again my apologies for being so "tardy" (my kitten had surgery today, then the remainder of the day flew *sigh*).

    Hugs, Patti Jo

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  103. TERRI ... Thanks for coming back by AND for taking a look at the video, girl -- MUCH appreciated!!

    And, WHOA ... you have NO idea how glad I am that you didn't see the typos because I was SHOCKED at how OBVIOUS they really are! But I proof and write for a living just like you, and I didn't catch them either, which is a real testimony to my hubby in keeping the video flowing so well and capturing the reader so much that few will see the mistakes. :)

    Or, at least that's what I hope. :|

    Correction, my friend. I USED to make a lot of cookies. That came to a screeching halt when my first book was published, and I haven't made more than a couple of dozen cookies since. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  104. BONNIE!!!! You had me with sugar cookies with cranberries & nuts -- YUM!!!

    LOL ... you and I are two peas in a pod ... or two weepy basket cases, if you will, because I cry in all my books too. :)

    Grin ... I have to watch the video every night, and not just one video, but TWO. You see, Keith did a revised one with the typos corrected and lots of tweaks I wanted, and it's WONDERFUL. But when he went to upload the new video, YouTube wouldn't allow us to replace the old. We did upload the new, but because all the LIKES are on the old video (768 as of this comment), it seemed foolish for me to waste all that promo to get likes over two typos that most people don't see. So I watch both every night myself ... ;)

    Happy viewing and reading, my friend!

    Love you!
    Julie

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  105. Hey, CASE, SO good to see you here, my friend!! Oh, PLEASE let me know if you like Susie May's book (can't imagine you won't -- she ROCKS!!) because then I'll have to read it too. LOVE your taste in books, my friend!

    LOVE your hair long, too, girl, in case I haven't told you enough ... ;)

    Hugs and more hugs,
    Julie

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  106. MARY!!! Do NOT apologize, PLEASE!! I usually never miss commenting on Seekerville, but have blown it a TON this month because I am so spacey these days with this book deadline breathing down my neck.

    So I forgive you, but I really don't have to because there's really nothing to forgive. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  107. LOL, WALT ... credit my Catholic training over the years that began with parish kindergarten and went all the way up through senior year at a Catholic girl's academy -- I didn't know anything else, so I just wrote what I knew. :|

    But I don't blame you because the CBA is a tad reluctant to go there, preferring a more generic approach so as to not offend any one denomination. But Revell is REALLY a class act, and they were wonderful to me, giving me sway, especially my editor, whom I LOVE!! So I totally understand and agree with you. If I were trying to break into today, I'd tone that feature down, I think. :)

    Hugs!!
    Julie

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  108. PATTI JO, you sweet thing, you -- I'm just thrilled you came by, late or no, so THANK YOU, my friend. And I hope your kitty is doing well and recuperating nicely.

    Thanks, too, for your kind words about the video and my daughter -- I'm pretty proud of them both, along with my talented hubby. :)

    Here's to a win, girlfriend!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  109. I do enjoy all the traditions at Christmas. Yes, I do have FIDDLER ON THE ROOF in my head.

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  110. Not sure if it's been mentioned (lots of comments to read through!), but regional traditions can be a unique way to add some Christmas cheer. For example, Christmas in Hawaii --along with the traditional Christmas things you'd expect, there are also those who put their own island twist to it (e.g. making "sandmen" instead of snowmen, Santa dressed in an aloha shirt & sandals, etc.) =)

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  112. LOL, MARY ... sorry about that, but at least it's a GREAT musical, right???

    And ... "if I were a rich man" ... I'd buy the CD! ;)

    I'm a brat, aren't I?? ;)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  113. LDK!!! Hey, girl, long time, no see!!

    And Hawaiian twists to Christmas traditions sound REALLLY fun!! The only "sandman" I ever heard of was the one who helps people sleep, but yours sounds pretty cool!

    Good luck in the contest, my friend!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  114. Wonderful post, Julie. Love your books. You're a great author. Please enter my name in the giveaway. Thank you!!
    Barbara Thompson
    barbmaci61(at)yahoo(dot)com

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  115. Barb, thank you SO much for your kind words, my friend, and for coming by. Here's to a win!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  116. Julie you are such a sweet lady and I thoroughly enjoyed your post as I do all of your posts. You know me, I have been trying to win a book from you FOREVER so throw my name in the hat please! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and coming Christmas.

    Blessing,
    Wanda Barefoot
    flghtlss1(AT)yahoo(DOT)com

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  117. WANDA!!! Oh, girl, you have NO IDEA just how much I'd like to send you a signed book, my friend, so here's to a win, you sweet thing!!

    Thanks for coming by, and keeping my fingers crossed for you. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  118. Julie, I never tire of reading anything you post, and this was great. It's wonderful to see the way your family supports you through the video and many other ways, I'm sure. Christmas is bittersweet with my parents gone, but my daughter will be home for the first time in two years, so I will be calling everything to a halt as soon as our Christmas program is over at church.

    May you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family, Julie.

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  119. Oh, CAROLE, I am SO thrilled for you, with your daughter coming home -- I know how close you two are!

    Thanksgiving is such a wonderful time to take measure of all that God has done in our lives, isn't it? Not the least of which is family. :)

    SO appreciate you, my friend!!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  120. I read ALITW a while ago but I LOVED IT SO MUCH! I want to re read it to put me in the Christmas spriti! Can't wait for your new release!!!

    Have wonderful Christ filled holidays!

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  121. ALLYSIA!!! Bless you, girlfriend, for your support!

    And, hey, if you want a signed bookplate for the paperback, just shoot me an email through my website, okay?

    Hugs,
    Julie

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