Monday, December 31, 2012

New Stories for the New Year?

It's the last day of 2012. has your year been? What fabulous stories did your read? How many brilliant ones did you create?

Well today we're going to celebrate the story possibilities for 2013!

There are new ones just waiting right around the next midnight. New heroes to make us swoon. New heroines for whom to cheer. More adventures and romances and homecomings....

In expectation of the New Year, I invited some of the AlleyCats to share a premise from a story they hope to write in 2013.
Check these out!!!

Southern gal, Ashley Clark, plans to write this story in 2013:

Katie is devastated when her childhood home is destroyed by a hurricane and her always-happy parents announce their marriage trouble. She heads to Atlanta, but returns to Peachfield once she catches wind of a tourism grant that seems perfect for their town. If she wins the grant, Peachfield could become a major tourist local for destination weddings. But when winning the grant means earning the approval of the quilting club and working alongside the town sheriff she's always had a crush on, will God show Katie the way to her dreams, or is she destined to live among the shattered fragments of the place she once called home?
Doesn't this sound fabulous?
How about this story question from Julia Reffner, who is brainstorming a new novel for the New Year:
How do you forgive your 4-year-old son's killer? What if its your mother?
Mary Vee and Krista has some more humor planned for the new year. Mary's newest idea sounds like this:
Sam Hatman’s family talks her into taking a long-needed vacation from her corporate job at the family mountain lodge two weeks before Christmas. She arrives in blizzard conditions and finds Hank Macroy, who'd assumed Sam would never show up for her scheduled weeks - since she never had in the past. Besides, everyone knows Sam hates snow. Trapped by the blizzard in the timeshare lodge owned by two families, Hank's immaculate housekeeping rubs Sam who prefers to relax now and clean later.
But Sam's call home fuels an old gripe between the two families.

The families clash at the cabin during a second wave blizzard upsetting Christmas plans. The only way Sam finds quiet is in Hank’s hunting blind . . . where he also happens to be hiding from the kerfuffle.
Their great grandfathers certainly didn't do their families any favors by building one cabin, or did they?
Woohoo! Doesn't this sound like fun!!!
Now check out Krista's pitch for her new story:
He ruined her life on national television in front of millions of people. And now he wants her to forgive him? Over her frozen, Minnesota body...
(Snicker) SO. MUCH. FUN!!
Do we have time for one more?
I'm going to give you a glimpse of our newest AlleyCat's blurb for her new idea for 2013. We're going to announce her this weekend, but I'll just keep you in "suspense" for now...which will go right along with her genre :-)
The story is about two supporting characters from the first two books... an FBI agent (sidelined by injury) and a medical examiner who suspects someone in the FBI is connected to a string of serial killings. The agent, who used his powers of perception in his past life to run scams, lives very squarely between the lines despite his wise-cracking demeanor. But when the ME he has a major crush on asks him to become a mole inside the organization he has sworn his loyalty, he has to decide if he can keep her safe and catch a killer without becoming the man who destroyed his family.
WOWZERS! Fabulous sounding, isn't it?
So - what do you have in mind for 2013? Do you have a new story brewing? Can you give us a pitch? We'd love to encourage you as you jump into writing in 2013.
If you're not a writer - are there any books you can't wait to read in 2013? Share!!
Happy New YEAR ...and remember:
God's best stories "new" stories are not written in books, but on the pages of our lives!
Pepper Basham writes historical and contemporary romances inspired by life in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Because she's a full-time university instructor and mom-of-five, writing happens in those knooks and crannies of life. She finds that laughter, chocolate, Jesus, and a small sliver of insanity help solve about every problem in her life. She lives in Tennessee with her hubby, kids, and giant hound, Sampson.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

What's Up the Street Next Week!

2013 is right around the corner from The Alley and what's on YOUR resolution list?
Do you have any special plans for wishing in the New Year?

Here's what the AlleyCats have for you to help welcome in 2013.

Monday - Pepper chats about 'New Story Ideas" for the New Year - and shares some premises from the AlleyCats. Come share YOUR ideas too.

Tuesday - Sherrinda gives us the Top 10 New Year Resolutions for a Writer

Wednesday - Stop by and read Mary's fabulous post Five Ways to Write From the Heart

Thursday & Friday brings surprises from Krista and Casey - who have BOTH been busy celebrating Krista's book, Sandwich with a Side of Romance  as one of the books of the month for the ACFW bookclub!! WOOHOO!!

Have a wonderful celebration of 2012's end and help us bring in God's New Year of 2013!!

Friday -

Friday, December 28, 2012

God's Christmas Blessings in Unconventional Packages

I can't believe it's already a new year! Like many of you, I'm very excited about the great blessings God gave me last year and I'm looking forward to everything He has for me this year.

Our lovely Alley Cats have been posting about Christmas for the last two weeks and I felt inspired to share a special gift/blessing God gave me for Christmas this year.

It came, however, in one of those unconventional (i.e. unexpected and pretty much unappealing) packages. I don't know if you've ever gotten one of those, but I'm willing to bet you have.

Those are the kind that start with a flat tire or an unexpected bill in the mail. The kind you look at and think "well, this isn't good" or "no thanks, I don't want this." And yet somehow, those moments turn into our chance to praise God because He fixes the situation. Or you realize He orchestrated the situation so you had the chance to bless someone else. Or He uses it as the opportunity to help you grow in an important way.

And, looking back on it, you can't help but the grateful for God's perfect timing.

So, God's unconventional present to me this year was telling me to take a break from writing. And blogging. And looking for an agent. But when I first realized what He was saying, it came across as something more like, "It's time to stop this whole pursuit of publishing thing."

Kind of huge (and unpleasant) because I've been trying to get published for about...twelve years. Because I've written 15 books to get there. Because I've been blogging and entering contests and networking and querying. You know, doing everything I'm supposed to be doing. And...I'm still not there.

So...what? Now I'm just supposed to quit? When it came down to it, I realized He was telling me to take this time to be with my family. My three kids are young and I haven't been doing such a great job with balancing my writing time and time with them. I've been missing out. And so have they. Along with that, I've been stressed, not writing much for many reasons and I had completely lost sight of why I wanted to be published in the first place. I sort of got caught up in the whole competition and race of it all. Not a good feeling.

Long story short, I realized this was a blessing, not something I didn't want. I'm following a path that doesn't take me away from writing entirely or stop my pursuit of publication, but it does put a few things on hold and help put the entire process in perspective.

And I'm grateful.

My point of this post is simply to say, God wants the best for us. And even though His blessing might come to us in a way that doesn't look so fabulous, we have to be willing to trust Him.

So...this will be my last post here at the Alley. I'm going to miss connecting with you all (not that I won't be around here and there on Facebook :D) but it's a good thing.

Another cool thing is that you'll get to see a new Alley Cat around here and get to know her, too!

This is just a small goodbye. But I'd love to connect with you in the comments. Are there any blessings that have been delivered to you in an unconventional package? What did God give you for Christmas this year?


Cindy is a Colorado native, living near the mountains with her husband and three beautiful daughters. She writes contemporary Christian romance, seeking to enrich lives with her stories of faith, love, and a touch of humor.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

It Really Is A Wonderful Life

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and have plenty of leftover Christmas cookies for the rest of the week! Last weekend, I had the incredible opportunity to see It's a Wonderful Life in a beautiful old theater. Wow, what an incredible experience! I always tear up at the end of the movie when Harry says, "To my brother George, the richest man in town," but I usually do that sneaky wipe-the-corner-of-your-eye-with-your-knuckle trick, hoping no one sees how emotional I'm getting. Well, let me tell you, after seeing it on the big screen, all bets were off! I and my best friend were setting there, all-out crying through the last scene.

What makes It's A Wonderful Life such a classic, and why does it pull on the heartstrings? In addition to brilliant acting, the story itself is so well-written. Today I'm going to break down several components of the movie that we can implement into our own writing to leave readers with that "feel good" effect we get after seeing this movie.

  • George's motives are very clear, and they are conflicting. Conflicting motivations and values are always a recipe for good writing. On the one hand, George wants nothing more than to be an architect and to see the world. But on the other hand, he loves his family dearly. So what happens when loving his family means giving up his own dreams? Well, that's the magic of the movie. How can you shape the characters in your own story so that they have competing values they must choose between? How can you use that choice to affect the plot?
  • The characters are relatable. George and his family represent universal values and struggles with which almost all viewers can identify. Maybe not on the specific level, but on the moral level. Perhaps you've never dreamed of being an architect, but I've bet you've had to make a choice between two things that both matter very much to you. If we train ourselves to be more conscious of these predicaments in everyday life, our writing will be come much more convincing and will have a stronger emotional pull over readers as they come to see themselves in our stories.
  • The characters are likable. Even when George Bailey yells at his wife and kids just before his total meltdown, we like him. Why? Because we know what he's been through. We know who he is deep down. How does the movie show us these things? Not by telling, and not even by the words of other characters. Instead, it allows us to see George Bailey in action. We see when he saves Harry's life and refuses to deliver the poison capsules. We see the pain on his face when his father has the heart attack and he must leave Mary. We see the disappointment in his eyes when Harry gets married, taking away George's opportunity to go to college. So even whenever George melts down and considers suicide, we're with him 100% because we are feeling what he's feeling, and we're rooting from him on a very deep level. We're interested in the story because we're invested in the characters on an emotional level.
  • The challenges are real. George's father dies. George has to give up his honeymoon money to save the bank. George can't go to college because Harry's getting married. Yet George overcomes each of these things. But when his uncle loses the money, it's just too much to handle. George's spirit is broken. And we get that. We believe it. We understand why George would feel like there's no other option in his life than to commit suicide, and we see why he would think this is ultimately a selfless act to preserve his family. So while we're saying to ourselves, "Don't do it, George!" we're also saying, "But we understand why you want to." This is key. Too often, we shortchange our characters by giving them weak obstacles to overcome. If the obstacles are weak, our characters' success over the obstacles will seem likewise. Worse yet are challenges that are unbelievable. Really work to make sure your stories play off the characters' struggles and fears, just as George's finds that even after giving up his dream to be an architect, his back-up plan also brings failure. What other options does he have left?
  • A bigger-than-we-expect ending. I absolutely love the ending of this movie. As a storyteller, I expect George to get his happily-ever-after moment. I expect that he'll get to be an architect, that he'll finally go to college. Thing is, George does get a happily-ever-after moment, but in a different way than we expect. See, somewhere along the way, George's dreams change because his perspective changes. And that's really what makes this movie worth watching again and again. How easy would it have been for the writers to give George a chance to design a bridge, especially since it's a bridge he jumps off of during his black moment? But instead, the ending defies our expectations because it takes the story and puts it into an even greater context. George doesn't get to be an architect. No, what's much more powerful is the fact he no longer needs to. George's realization is that his life has been wonderful all along. Can you take a step back from your story to give it a bigger-picture framework? Instead of giving your characters all they want and seem to need, could you change their needs somewhere within the story, even as George's change in the movie?
I've heard that It's a Wonderful Life was created to restore morale after the war. It's easy to see why the movie accomplished this task. The moral is so much bigger than the typical "reach for the stars" theme we often see. Instead, this movie gives us something we can use in everyday life. Wherever you are and whatever you're doing, you're alive. And that's a reason for rejoicing.

Do you have a favorite Christmas movie? Why does the story appeal to you?


Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and enjoys teaching literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW and runs their newcomer's loop. When she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals and finding charming new towns. You can find Ashley on her personal blogFacebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. She is represented by Karen Solem.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Happy Boxing Day

Today is Boxing Day.

Yeah, those of us from the U.S. probably have a quizzical expression right now :-)
That's okay. We don't celebrate it in the U.S., but for those of you who are from beautiful, exotic places Cananda? or our very own Aussie, Karen, or any Brits, you'll know exactly what I'm talking about.

Boxing Day is a holiday celebrated in a lot of countries around the world. The ones I've already mentioned, along with others like Hong Kong and New Zealand.

Traditionally it was thought to be the day when, after Christmas, people bestowed 'blessings' or donations to others who were in need. OR a day when superiors shared 'goodwill' with their subordinates.

So - clerics would gather donations in boxes to give to the poor. Lords of the land would bestow gifts to their servants or tenants. Employers would share bonuses with their employees.

Sounds like a GREAT day to me :-)
Nowadays, although the employer/employee bonus idea might still stand, it is also very similiar to the U.S.'s Black Friday. Shopping DAY!
(the comic to the right looks a WHOLE lot like people in the U.S. on Black Friday)

It also has a lot of signficance in the sports world for being a BIG day for cricket and yahting in Australia and rugby in the U.K.

In South Africa it is known as Day of Goodwill (LOVE that name)

In Ireland it is called St. Stephen's Day

In the Netherlands it is celebrated as The Second Day of Christmas

A wonderful lady I used to know in England shared how special this day was as a time to give to those in need.  Share with the poor.  Show generosity.

(speaking of , she is a FABULOUS artist and author. You should totally check out her website,

Because Christmas shouldn't end on the 25th of December, you know? It should be a spirit of giving in our hearts year-round.

So today - as we glean from the gifts and blessings of yesterday and the celebration of Jesus' birth, I'd like you to share your blessings with us!

What is something you received (tangible or not) that you are thankful to have? Words of wisdom? Advice? A Bible verse?

Feel free to share with us...and others today, because the gift of giving should be in the hearts of Christians EVERY day :-)


Tuesday, December 25, 2012



THE ALLEY CATS: Angie, Ashley, Casey,

Cindy, Julia , Karen, Krista, Mary, Pepper,

and Sherrinda!!!!

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. -Isaiah 9:6, KJV

Monday, December 24, 2012

Engage Your Senses

"Mom." A gentle whisper nudges me. "Moooom." A long hollow moan like the winter wind outside my window. The little boy beside my bed grips my shoulder and his  warmth seeps through my sleeve. An urgent shake pulls me from my toasty comfort.

"It's morning." His voice is full and bold now. It's not just any morning, though.

 It's Christmas morning.

I rise and follow anxious thuds on creaking steps. The twinkle of Christmas lights prods the last of sleep from my eyes. The piney scent draws me close to the tree adorned with memories. My little boy is beside its boughs, a jumping bean whose energy is contagious--a reminiscent excitement that I once felt long ago.

My husband is ready with a steaming cup and I settle into my chair while we finally say, "Go!" And he tears into his gifts. The rips of crisp,vibrant paper, the squeal of delight while I savor the fullness of my hot drink on my tongue, the fullness of my heart in this moment of childish joy.

The babe in a manger is not forgotten, as our last present waits--a sparkly box with a red bow. Our simple, humble gift to our great and mighty Savior. We open it and read the deeds written on slips of paper. Each one is a symbolic love sacrifice we now give to the God who loves. And yet, it seems not enough. Just as the manger of hay and the lowly stable with its earthy smell of wood and livestock, surely seemed unfit for such a babe. But we revel in the Grace, the Hope, the knowing that nothing is enough, but our very hearts for Him.

And in this we rest and spend our blessed morning in a quiet celebration for the birth of a King.

In a handful of paragraphs, the senses are engaged, the scene captured by sound and touch, sight, taste, and smell. As writers, we are called to transport the reader into our stories to the fullest. As children of a creative, giving God, we remember best through the senses He has bestowed upon us.

In your next scene, remember those five senses, and see how your writing comes to life when you engage each one.

May this Christmas morning be one that delights your senses and gives you ample reason to praise the God whose great Gift surpasses any other we receive!

Merry Christmas!
Angie Dicken first began writing fiction as a creative outlet during the monotonous days of diapers and temper tantrums. She is passionate to impress God's love on women regardless of their background or belief. This desire serves as a catalyst for Angie's fiction, which weaves salvation and grace themes across cultures and social boundaries. Angie is an ACFW member and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

12 Days of Christmas....ALLEY STYLE!

On the first day of Christmas, The AlleyCats could see......
The first Cat to fulfill her writing dream.

On the second day of Christmas, The AlleyCats could see.....
Two cats a-stylin'
And the first Cat to fulfill her writing dream.

On the third day of Christmas, The Alley Cats could see.....

Three hungry pals,
two cats a-stylin', and the first Cat to fulfill her writing dream.

On the fourth day of Christmas, The Alley Cats could see....
Four looney tunes,
three hungry pals, two cats a-stylin', and the first Cat to fulfill her writing dream.

On the fifth day of Christmas, The Alley Cats could see....
FIVE Agented gals
Four looney tunes, three hungry pals, two cats a-stylin', and the first Cat to fulfill her writing dream.

On the sixth day of Christmas, The Alley Cats could see...
Six voices singing,
FIVE Agented gals,
Four looney tunes, three hungry pals, two cats a-stylin', and the first Cat to fulfill her writing dream.

On the seventh day of Christmas, The Alley Cats could see...
Seven Seekers Smilin'
Six voices singing,
FIVE Agented gals,
Four looney tunes, three hungry pals, two cats a-stylin', and the first Cat to fulfill her writing dream.

On the eighth day of Christmas, The Alley Cats could see....
Eight Cats a-meetin',
Seven Seekers smilin', six voices singing,
FIVE Agented gals,
Four looney tunes, three hungry pals, two cats a-stylin', and the first Cat to fulfill her writing dream.

On the ninth day of Christmas, The Alley Cats could see...
Nine pals a-posting
Eight Cats a-meetin, seven Seekers smiling, six voices singing,
FIVE Agented gals,
Four looney tunes, three hungry pals, two cats a-stylin', and the first Cat to fulfill her writing dream.

On the tenth day of Christmas, The Alley Cats could see...
Ten who write for Jesus,
Nine pals a-posting, eight Cats a-meetin', seven Seekers smiling, six voices singing,
FIVE Agented gals,
Four looney tunes, three hungry pals, two cats a-stylin', and the first Cat to fulfill her writing dream.

On the eleventh day of Christmas, The Alley Cats could see....
Eleven Carol winners,
Ten who write for Jesus, Nine pals a-posting, eight Cats a-meetin', seven Seekers smiling, six voices singing,
FIVE Agented gals,
Four looney tunes, three hungry pals, two cats a-stylin', and the first Cat to fulfill her writing dream.

On the twelth day of Christmas, The Alley Cats could see...
Twelve new months for blogging,
Eleven Carol winners, ten who write for Jesus, Nine pals a-posting, eight Cats a-meetin', seven Seekers smiling, six voices singing,
FIVE Agented gals,
Four looney tunes, three hungry pals, two cats a-stylin', and the first Cat to fulfill her writing dream.

Merry Christmas!! From our Alley to yours :-)
Angie, Ashley, Casey, Cindy, Julia, Karen, Krista, Mary, Pepper, and Sherrinda

Friday, December 21, 2012

Editing the Future: Another Pair of Eyes and Unwritten Manuscripts ~ A Guest Post by Amber Stokes

Photo Credit
Casey here. I'm excited to spend the day with a great friend of mine, Amber Stokes. Amber has a heart for books and writing like I do and we connected over books and blogs long before we met in person. Read through the post and be sure and leave a comment at the end of the post for one of Amber's editing packages!

An Unappreciated Luxury
Editing is a luxury I haven’t come to fully appreciate. Like many of you, I find it much easier to edit someone else’s work than to hear someone’s comments (and criticisms) regarding my own work.

Consider this: In life, we don’t get to change the past. In our writing, though, we have the opportunity to correct our mistakes (or at least some of them!) before the world sees them. We can rearrange the plot, add new characters, delete unnecessary descriptions, and make the story better than we first envisioned it. I find such a “gift” easier to give others than to accept for myself… I really struggle with changing a story I poured my heart and soul into the first time around!

But that is a tale of woe for another day. What I want to talk about today is another benefit to editing. If the above-described “benefit” of having someone else edit your work is a step you’re not yet ready to take, I completely understand – such is the place where you’ll find me. But I’ve discovered that editing doesn’t just affect the past; it also affects the future.

The Essence of Editing

Several people have read my first manuscript. A few friends offered me the encouragement I needed along the way to keep writing, as well as the understanding I longed for to help me know the story of my heart could touch another person’s heart. But the words of my father and an author friend, while certainly including kindness and encouragement, were ones of correction – not in any sort of mean way, at all, but correction nonetheless. Alas, such is the essence of editing!

My father’s comments were broader in nature; my author friend’s comments included generalizations and line-by-line help. I confess to not being nearly as appreciative as I ought to have been. I wanted a pat on the back, a star sticker on my paper, unending words of praise, and all those other clichés. I really didn’t want to hear about the errors…

And, shameful to say, I have not yet edited that first manuscript. I haven’t taken all the advice I was given and the corrections others pointed out to me and used them to make my first novel better.

To all of you who have edited a book, I admire your courage! It takes humility to accept words of correction, and bravery to envision how your book can be more than it once was because of all that help.

To anyone who might be in the same position as me, I say that those other pairs of eyes that read my manuscript and those other voices that offered their suggestions still have given me something I didn’t have before they looked and spoke.

Here Comes the Future

Those words that were meant to make my first manuscript better might still do that someday…possibly. But I think they have also made my second manuscript (my current WIP), my other writing since then, and those stories yet to be written (Lord willing that they are meant to be written) better.

Did I need a stronger villain and more danger/drama in my first story? Did I need to have a more exciting beginning/first chapter? Did I need to avoid repetitive word usage and too much back-story dumping? Well, I can take those missing ingredients and consider adding them in the future. I can be more aware of my problematic tendencies and be careful to sidestep them in the future. And I hope I have done so to some degree already.

As hard as it is to hear what you’ve done wrong, in time it truly can help make your future stronger.
Photo Credit
This doesn’t just apply to the world of novel-writing. It applies to the story of your life. You don’t have the luxury of going back and editing out all the mistakes you’ve made or changing the routes you’ve taken or adding in the things you should have done. But you do have the option of hearing the corrective words of those who care about you and applying them to your future – with your future beginning as soon as this moment has passed.

My pastor, in discussing the church in Laodicea (as mentioned in Revelation 3) a couple of Sundays ago, talked to us about the importance of repentance. He referred to Hebrews 12 in talking about God’s loving discipline. Consider vs. 11:

“Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.”

Accepting correction and applying it to the future, whether in writing or in life, can be a “grievous” process in some ways. But the fruit it eventually produces is grand, indeed.


I may still have a lot to learn about editing my own work, but as an avid reader and a recent college graduate with a degree in English, I’d like to help others edit their work. J A few months ago I started a freelance editing business, and today I’d like to offer a FREE editing package to one of you. Short story, novella, novel – no matter the stage you’re in and no matter the type of story, as long as it’s “clean” (no explicit sexual content or strong language, which shouldn’t be a problem with this crowd), I’m game! I’ll tell you what I like and I’ll also whip out my pen so I can catch the grammar errors, plot holes, and all that. My hope is that, no matter what you decide to do about my remarks, you’ll be encouraged as well as challenged to constantly become better and better at your craft. 

Giveaway Details

This giveaway is open internationally; however, please note the following:

•If the winner mails me a copy of his or her manuscript, the winner is responsible for
the cost of shipping.

•If the winner is from the U.S. and e-mails me a copy of his or her manuscript, I will
cover the cost of mailing the edited (marked-up) copy back to the winner.

•If the winner is from any other country besides the U.S. and e-mails me a copy of
his or her manuscript, the winner is responsible for covering the shipping cost when I
send the edited copy back to the winner.

If anyone has any questions regarding the giveaway details, please feel free to ask for
clarification in the comments section! Be sure to include your e-mail address in the comments
section so I can contact you should you win. And feel free to look at my “Seasonal Services”
page to browse my editing packages. If you’re the winner, you could have any one of those – even that
$550 “Winter” novel package – for FREE!


Amber Stokes has a Bachelor of Science degree in English, and she loves to write poetry, short stories, novels, and blog posts. After her brief time at college in Oregon, she is now back home among the redwoods of Northern California, living life one day at a time and longing to follow God, wherever He leads her! She has recently started a freelance editing business, Editing Through the Seasons.

You can find Amber on Mondays at TheBorrowed Book blog, and all the time at her personal blog, Seasons of Humility.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas --- Phillips' Style

You can't have a Phillips' Christmas, at least in THIS house... without something going wrong at least at some point.

This blog post, written at 7:30 pm on the day that it was supposed to be posted (vs early in the morning as it SHOULD have done) is one.

Oh, did I mention we've had someoen sick in my house at some point for the last two weeks? Including my sweet Gabby who was up all night with the stomach flu?

Oh, 'tis the season!

But if there is one thing I've learned in the last few years is this...

The joy of Christmas can't be measured by "what" happens.

It can't even be measured by being "home" as I found out two years ago when we spent Christmas in a hospital room with our daughter, who'd been there for five months.

Or last year, when I had these grand hopes of a fabulous "first" Christmas home for Annabelle, only to be caught up in edits due on my first novel and having to scrape for every once of time to do anything Christmas-y.

We all give Christmas these great definitions... it's about family, it's about joy, it's about cheer, it's about giving.

We have decorations, lights, yummy cookies, and fun songs to sing.

But while those are all grand things... I'm here to tell you.

God has reminded me over and over again that Christmas is about JESUS!!!

That's really what I wanted to share today, although I didn't plan for it to be quite this short.

And since it IS short... I'll give you fun pictures from our past two Christmas's!



FYI: that chub? yeah, it was fluid retention from heart failure. Not cute baby fat:-)


MUCH happier this Christmas!

Mom and Dad were super happy too!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Christmas Light Writing

Each morning during the Christmas season, I go to the living room, still dark from a much too late rising sun, and flick on the Christmas lights.

The room glows reds, yellows, blues, greens. Twinkle lights blink a new layer of color on, off, on off. Ornaments of gold, silver, crimson, navy, and hunter made from glass, plastic, or wood reflect the light, adding new shades.

Tinsel mirrors the affect like sparkly glitter.

The angel on top holds a raised candle high above her head, which radiates a sunny yellow onto the ceiling and out to the walls.

On the other side of the room, the manger scene is spread out along the top of the piano. Baby Jesus’ manger, the lowest object, is clear of shadows and illuminates, brightening a lowly stable.

As the only early bird in my family, I turn on the Christmas songs to a soft volume, for my ears only, and sit in the comfy chair in the corner. There I drink in Christmas, the great gift of God, and meditate.

For the Christian fiction writer this is a great time to listen to God’s nudging, contemplate my world, and reflect.

Our writing ministry is designed to have the same impact on our readers, an opportunity, through story,

1.     For God to nudge:  Recently, Krista, one of our Alley Cats, received a comment from a reader about her new book, Sandwich with a Side of Romance. The reader said Krista’s book helped her understand something God had been speaking to her about. It was as though a light sparked. Other authors have shared similar comments about their books. And isn’t that one of our goals? To write in such a way that the Holy Spirit can use our books to clarify, guide, awaken, or move the reader, through the steps of a character, towards a closer walk with God?

2.     For readers to contemplate their world: Karen, one of our Alley Cats once spoke about a neighborhood book club she belonged to. It was her turn to pick the book. The Lord lay on her heart to propose Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers. Karen asked the Alley Cats to pray with her that the non-Christian group would accept the recommendation. I don’t know the result at this time. But what I do know is Karen contemplated her world,  saw an opportunity to use Christian fiction to share God’s love, prayed, then based on all that, acted.

3.     And to reflect: Powerful stories have brought to mind Christian concepts for many readers. Key words, a piece of dialogue, well crafted setting, anything could spark the very message God wants to bring to the forefront of a reader. To me the greatest benefit is seeing how different readers can be moved in different ways.

Today I listened to a CD of a writer's media workshop by Craig Von Buseck. This godly man summed up his talk by saying;  "We ought to all be like the moon. Reflecting the light of the Son."

Legend has it that Martin Luther began the tradition of decorating trees to celebrate Christmas. One crisp Christmas Eve, about the year 1500, he was walking through snow-covered woods and was struck by the beauty of a group of small evergreens. Their branches, dusted with snow, shimmered in the moonlight. When he got home, he set up a little fir tree indoors so he could share this story with his children. He decorated it with candles, which he lighted in honor of Christ's birth.

*Sure writing should be a business, this forces us to produce quality work.

*Yes, our writing should tell interesting stories to get readers to read out work.

*Uh huh, we need to constantly work to hone our skills to refine our work

BUT, most importantly, and above all, 
we need to reflect the light of the Son of God.

May His light shine on you and yours this Holyday season. 
Merry Christmas.

photos courtesy of

This blog post is by Mary Vee

Mary has moved to Michigan with her husband, closer to her three college kids. She misses the mountains of Montana, but loves seeing family more often. She writes contemporary Christian fiction with a focus on the homeless population and loves to pen missionary and Bible adventure stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids.

Visit Mary at her website
Step into Someone Else's World

Ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids