Thursday, December 5, 2019

Advent Day 5 -- A Timely Tale for Christmas by Seeker Julie Lessman

by Julie Lessman



Hello, everyone—Julie Lessman here, and I am delighted and honored to be back on Seekerville today for the “Advent in Seekerville” celebration. This year’s theme is “Home for the Holidays,” and I have to say my story below details one of my favorite holiday memories.

You see, I grew up in a family of thirteen kids, and all I remember of Christmases past is a wall of presents piled halfway up a ten-foot tree. As soon as presents were distributed, all of us tore into the gifts at the same time, completely swallowed up in a sea of paper and bows. To this day, I have no memory of gifts I received or what anyone else received because, frankly, it was bedlam.

So, when I met my husband, I discovered their tradition was opening gifts one at a time, everyone seated in a circle of laughter so we could all oooh and ahhh over each token of love. Wow! That sealed the deal for me and from that Christmas on, that became my favorite Christmas tradition of all that we still honor today.

And so, I thought I would share a “timely tale” of that very first Christmas I spent with my husband’s family when we just going together, not married yet. Because the greatest gift I received that year was a very special lesson from God, which to this day, has given me a life“time” of joy. Hopefully this lesson will inspire you—like it did me—to take “time” to thank God for His abundant blessings.

I wish you and yours a happy, healthy, and holy holiday season!

Hugs,
Julie



🎁 When God Wraps a Present ðŸŽ

We’ve all heard the adage “it’s better to give than receive,” but never have I agreed more than the year I was dating the love of my life—my husband, Keith.
It was truly a Christmas to remember—spiced egg nog and snickerdoodles and shimmering presents unwrapped in a circle of love. Of course, we all ooohed and ahhhed over each gift opened, one at a time, reveling in the glow of excitement for giver and recipient alike.
And then it was my turn. Everyone waited while I tore into a small jewelry box, fingers trembling while anticipation fairly shimmered in my boyfriend’s eyes. 
“Do you like it?” he asked, grinning like a little boy when I unearthed a very pretty silver watch.
No.
“It’s beautiful,” I said with a shaky giggle, slipping it on and holding it up for everyone to admire. I quickly gave him a sweet kiss on the lips. “Thank you so much, babe—what a perfect gift!”
Uh … perfectly awful, that is. 
You see, when you are a twenty-seven-year-old Type A career woman who is very set in her ways (not to mention expecting a piece of jewelry for your finger instead of your wrist), there are just some things you have to buy for yourself.
Books, costume jewelry, purses … a watch
All right, yes, I’ll admit it—“high maintenance” is my middle name because heaven knows I’m one of the most particular people on the planet, especially when it comes to watches. They have to be digital, waterproof, have a day and date window, an alarm, chronograph, second hand, both silver and gold metal to wear with either silver or gold jewelry, stretch band skinny enough to fit my wrist … and a GPS. Okay, I’m pulling your watch chain on the last one, but you get the picture—not easy to find, especially with numbers big enough for someone blind as a bat.
So, yes, I faked it, of course, thanking my boyfriend for the “prettiest watch I had ever owned,” because it was—I just didn’t like it. 
But did I “fake it” with God? Uh, no. I went straight to His throne in prayer and BEGGED Him to help me love this watch because the man I loved gave it to me and I just flat-out didn’t want to hurt his feelings. I even went so far as to write the prayer request on a piece of paper and tuck it in my Bible so I could “wrap” it in prayer every single day, which I did for a number of years. 
Until the fateful moment long after we were married when my husband used my Bible one day and found the note.
“You don’t like your watch??” The hurt in his tone matched the look in his eyes when his gaze flicked to the pretty watch on my wrist. 
“What are you talking about?” I asked, somewhat confused. 
He held up the note. “You told God you hated it in this note I found in your Bible.” 
Uh-oh … BUSTED!
“Oh, babe,” I said with my brightest smile and a quick kiss on the lips. “That was then and this is now. It’s perfect for me, just like you, and I absolutely love it.
And you know what? I did! 


🎁GIVEAWAY!
And now it’s “time” for a giveaway, so leave a comment, and you’ll be entered to win all six of my Christmas e-books below:



🎁 EXTRA JOURNAL JOTS CHRISTMAS GIVEAWAY!
Then come on by my Journal Jots blog for EVEN MORE chances to win the following:

🎄$15 Amazon gift card
🎄 All six of my Christmas e-books (if you don’t win them in this Seekerville)
🎄 Christmas books by Becky Wade, Allie Pleiter, Toni Shiloh, Mary Manners, etc. and more.
🎄 Your choice of any one of my indie e-books
🎄 PLUS a character named after you in my next book

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

Author of The Daughters of Boston, Winds of Change, Heart of San Francisco, Isle of Hope, and Silver Lining Ranch series, Julie was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and has garnered over 18 Romance Writers of America and other awards. Voted #1 Romance Author in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Reader’s Choice Awards, Julie’s novels also made Family Fiction magazine’s Best of 2015, Best of 2014, and “Essential Christian Romance Authors” 2017, as well as Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction and Borders Best Fiction. Her independent novel A Light in the Window was an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers' Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner. 

Julie has also written a self-help workbook for writers entitled Romance-ology 101: Writing Romantic Tension for the Sweet and Inspirational Markets. Contact Julie through her website and read excerpts from each of her books at www.julielessman.com.

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Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Advent Day 4 - Baking Memories

by Mindy Obenhaus

Christmas. The word alone conjures up images in our minds. The twinkling lights, familiar carols, the aromas of cinnamon and cloves and Christmas cookies fresh from the oven.

Ever since I was a little girl, I have always loved Christmas cookies. The cut-out, decorated variety, in particular. Unfortunately, my mom was not a big baker. My great-aunt Gladys, on the other hand, loved to bake, however she didn't have any children. Matter of fact, she never married. She was quite a character, actually. Very independent. And quite different from most women born in the late 1800s. 

One day every December, Gladys would invite me and a couple of my cousins to join her in her very tiny kitchen to decorate Christmas cookies. For me, it was a dream come true. The cookies, the icing, the sprinkles! I looked forward to it all year long.
It was a snowy Saturday morning in mid-Michigan when me and my cousins Betsy and Jeff gathered at Gladys's for our annual cookie-decorating event. I was so excited I could hardly contain myself. The smell of vanilla still hung in the air from all those fresh-baked cookies. Christmas trees, stars, snowmen, angels... I don't remember what I was doing, I only recall turning quickly and running into my cousin Jeff--who happened to be carrying a sheet pan that contained his allotment of cookies to decorate. The collision sent the pan tumbling to the linoleum floor, where the cookies promptly broke into pieces. Boy, was I glad those weren't my cookies. 

Then Aunt Gladys uttered those words that still haunt me today. "Mindy, you'll have to give Jeff half of your cookies."

The thought of parting with half of my beloved cookies had my bottom lip trembling. Tears welled behind my tortoise shell glasses. But no one dared argue with Aunt Gladys. She was a retired school teacher, which, in my little mind, was akin to a drill sergeant. So I gave Jeff half of my cookies and vowed that one day I would make my own Christmas cookies.
Years later, when I was a young bride, a dear family friend gave me a recipe for sugar cookies that I still make every December. I've shared it over at the Yankee-Belle Café and you can find it here. They're soft and delicious, just the way I like them. And whether I'm with my kids, grandkids, or by myself, decorating them is still a treat. 

For today's gift, I'm giving one commenter a set of holiday cookie cutters and a copy of my February 2020 release, Her Rocky Mountain Hope (US only - International winner will receive ebook only). Simply leave a comment telling me about your favorite holiday treat.

And don't forget about the Kindle Fire drawing found at the end of each post during that Advent season. We'll choose a winner after 12/25/19 and announce it on New Year's Eve Day.


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



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Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Writing a Love Triangle


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Most romance novels focus on the hero and heroine falling in love. However some women’s fiction and cozy mystery romance threads involve a love triangle. Since my current release, Cobblered to Death, is a clean cozy mystery with two love interests, I thought I’d share my do and don’t suggestions in writing a love triangle.

Do create attractive love interests. This covers more than looks. It includes personality, occupations, activities and general outlook on life. Give each love interest a personality trait that draws the protagonist to them. Example: One love interest shares the same love of classic movies as the protagonist. The other love interest and the protagonist volunteer on the same community betterment project.

Don’t make the love interests perfect. Give them flaws. Make them clumsy or overly helpful, stubborn in certain instances or generous to a fault.

Do keep the love interests different. Although some people have a certain ‘type’ of person they are attracted too, if your love interests twin each other in physical traits, speech patterns or occupations, it will confuse the reader. Use an opposite approach. One might be a home body while the other enjoys socialization. Example: A detective and a pastor bring vastly different world views to the relationship which could help or hinder the protagonist figuring out the whodunit part of your plot.

Don’t forget to have each love interest provide a different emotional support to the protagonist. One could be the voice of reason while the other points out possibility. Both should show concern for the protagonist’s safety and wellbeing.

Do keep the love interests civil to each other despite their jealous feelings. It’s okay to show their jealousy in words, tones or actions, but not to the point of an argument or fist fight. The love interests can’t torment or taunt the other about spending time with the protagonist. After all, you want your reader to cheer both of them on and wonder who the protagonist will choose by the end of the book or series.

Don’t have the protagonist pit the love interests against each other. The protagonist must be upfront with both love interests that they don’t have an exclusive relationship. This allows flexibility in each book to have the main character favor one love interest over the other to keep the reader guessing, and hopefully buying the next book if it is a series!

That’s my list. Do any of you have more do and don’t suggestions on love triangles? Do you like to read books where the main character has more than one love interest? If so, have you ever been disappointed in the characters choice?

I’ll be giving away one copy of Cobblered to Death to a U. S. resident (sorry…foreign postage costs more than the book). Leave a comment to enter the drawing!

*************************************************************************************

RosemarieRoss is a pseudonym of multi-published in multi-genres author, Rose Ross Zediker. Rose writes cozy mystery novels, contemporary and historical inspirational romance novels, and has hundreds of publishing credits in the Christian magazine genre for children and adults. Her titles have appeared on ECPA bestseller lists and been finalists for the RITA, National Reader’s Choice, Booksellers Best and Book Buyers Best award contests. 



Blurb: Courtney Archer is known for hosting the show Cooking with the Farmer’s Daughter … despite the fact that she’s actually a pediatrician’s daughter. Now she’s signed on for a role on The American Baking Battle. On this reality show, she can start developing a more authentic image for herself—and as a bonus, the usual backstabbing and manufactured drama isn’t part of the Baking Battle script. But genuine drama is heating up behind the scenes …

During a film shoot in the scenic Pocono Mountains, Courtney has to juggle career commitments like pots on a six-burner stove. Adding to the stress is Mick, a contestant who finds out about her fake farm-girl story. Determined to succeed at her new gig, she whips up a cherry cobbler in a cast-iron fry pan one evening and leaves it out to cool. But the next morning, it’s Mick’s body that’s cooling—right next to Courtney’s pan, now classified as a murder weapon …



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Monday, December 2, 2019

Advent Day #2--Christmas presents for YOU



Day 2 of Advent.


First a recipe


Connealy Scalloped Corn


This is my kids’ absolute favorite

It’s more really fantastic macaroni and cheese than scalloped corn but whatever it is, it’s a Connealy Family Reunion staple.



1 can whole corn-drained
1 can creamed corn 
1 c. small macaroni-the kind isn’t important
1 cup butter cut up
1 cup Velveeta cubed
Dump in greased casserole dish
Stir
Bake 30 minutes-stir
Bake 30 more minutes

And a Christmas Memory

When my kids were growing up I was always really frugal at Christmas (okay call it cheap...BE THAT WAY!!!)

My Cowboy worked so hard! And I was a stay at home mom and I always tried to treat his hard work with respect...which extended to spending the money.

So inevitably I'd set a budget...maybe $25 dollars a kid...and shop sales and start early...work really hard to get them something nice without busting the budget.

And then very close to the big day I'd talk it all through with My Cowboy, what I'd gotten and if I needed to get them anything more, and he'd say, "Let's get them all (fill in the blank...something big and fun and exciting)."
And we'd often go shopping together.

I remember the year, at the last minute, we went and bought them all sleds. All of a sudden my tidy Christmas plans were pretty extravagant and I had his blessing for that. And I could see he was having fun. And we could afford it, I was just hesitant to spend big.

An interesting fact about me and my cowboy. Our parents were ten years apart in age. I was one of the first of my parents eight children, third, and he was sixth of his parents seven children. 

His parents were like...wildly tight-fisted with money. My parents were pretty careless with it. But they both started out with NOTHING.
I mean seriously poor. And they both worked hard and bought farmland...hard to pay for...and ended up fairly rich (No money but valuable holdings).

My parents careless generosity meant little because they had nothing. So I grew up in a very poor household...eight kids in a three bedroom farmhouse. 

By the time my little brothers and sisters could remember there started to be some money but when I was growing up...nothing. I mean NOTHING. I remember coming upon my mom once crying...my mom was a ROCK I'm telling you. She did NOT cry...so this was shocking.
And I asked her what was wrong...I was scared to death...still pretty young. And she said, she wanted to write a letter to her mom...who lived about 90 minutes away but we rarely went to see them...gas cost money!
She wanted to write a letter to her mom but she couldn't afford a stamp. 
A ten cent stamp.

I've always remembered that as a shocking example of just how absolutely poor my family was. An my folks didn't burden us with worries about money which made this moment all the more shocking to me.

And his parents, by the time he came along were very well-to-do...in the context that they were always cheap. 

So we came into our marriage with very different attitudes about money. I just always knew that, by comparison to how I grew up, we were pretty well-off. He always felt poor.

I smile when I think of how he remembers our early years of marriage. Very desperate times to his way to his way of thinking. To me...I couldn't believe we actually had some money in the bank!!! I felt rich but was so used to worrying about money I was careful not to spend much. He felt poor and was so used to his parents parsimony that he was careful not to spend much.

It worked because big picture, we agreed to be cheap...but for really different reasons.

That made his generosity with the kids at Christmas very special. And I still remember him 'coming through' with big gift ideas that I'd have never dared plan on. The sled year was a great example.



Thank you for joining us in this season of faith, of peace, of holiness.


Christmas





And prizes...let's call them presents...presents you can WIN...which isn't exactly a present...still...




Leave a comment.
Let's talk great Christmas books.
Leave a comment about your favorite Christmas book to get your name in the drawing for an ebook copy of----------

by Margaret Brownley
Ruth Logan Herne 
                                    Mary Connealy al


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