December 31st Kicks Off Reader Voting ~ Grace Awards 2012

Grace Awards Logo

The third annual Grace Awards is thrilled to announce that reader voting for Finalists will commence on December 31, 2012 at midnight and ends February 28, 2012.

Wow! It’s a New Year’s Eve cyber voting party! Join in the fun!

The Grace Awards is reader driven. That means in the first round readers vote for their favorite novels and chose “Finalists” in five literary categories.


Individuals (not organizations). Readers who maintain a networking page (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, ShoutLife, Linkedin, Ning sites, etc.) created before November 1, 2012. We check each link to verify there’s a real person there.

Books, Reading

Readers can only vote for ONE novel in each category.

Authors are also readers and can vote, but not for their own novel(s). DON’T vote against yourself, simply vote in the other genre categories for novels you deem worthy.

Editors, publishers, agents can vote, but not for a book they authored or co-authored. 

Board members and judges can vote, but not for their own novel(s).

TYPES OF NOVELS READERS MAY CONSIDER: Traditional Christian, Inspirational, realistic and/or gritty Christian and edgy Christian, stories from a Christian worldview, redemptive themed, biblical, messianic, catholic, faith-based, values imbued, grace and forgiveness oriented, marriage and family friendly, depicting Christian lifestyle (can be struggling with it), spiritually and emotionally healing, mystical and mythic fiction.

Books, a stack


Original novels presenting a Christian worldview written in English, published in hard cover, trade paperback, or in Ebook format.

Traditional publishers, Small press, Indie publishers, self-published works. To us, Pbooks and Ebooks all compete on the same level playing field.

The novel must have been released between January 1, 2012 and December 31, 2012.

Most of all, the novel must reach the highest of literary standards and add something of value to Christian, inspirational, faith and values based fiction, and to the world at large.


Women’s Fiction  –  serious women’s issues, can have humor and/or suspense elements

Contemporary Romance/Historic Romance — the primary element is love/marriage, then or now

Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller/Historic Suspense — crime fiction, there’s probably a body

Speculative — sci-fi, fantasy, horror, etc

Action/Adventure, Western, Historic Epic Fiction — exploits, quest, daring, expansive

Young Adult (YA) — appeals to ages 12 – 22-ish

**Note: submit Urban Fiction into the category where it best fits (ie, Women’s Fiction, Young Adult, etc.)

Books,  Reading 5


1. Was the novel well written? Did the author use language correctly? Did it make sense?

2. Was the plotline logical? Did any plot turns surprise you? In a good way, as in what a surprise but this really works — or in a bad way, as in “Yikes” this doesn’t work at all?

3. Did the characters feel like living people? Could you identify with the characters and their situations in the novel? Were the scenes plausible?

4. How about pacing? Did you ever get bored?

5. Was the novel true to its setting: time, place?

6. Was the novel entertaining? Did it uplift, send you on an emotional roller coaster, have you on the edge of your seat, tickle your funny bone (depending on the category)?

8. Did the novel engage your Christian walk in a meaningful way? Did it depict Christian life in a plausible manner (in some genres, this would be symbolic)?  Do you think the work adds something of literary value?


Readers MUST use the Official Grace Awards Voting Ballot 2012. It is an electronic ballot with questions that MUST be answered fully and emailed to the Grace Awards.

To obtain an Official Grace Awards Voting Ballot 2012 click on this link.

After you chose which categories you want to vote in answer the questions for those categories, copy, and email to


New Year

Grace Filled 12-Days of Christmas Book Blitz

Xmas, Bethlehem Star

Twenty-two authors, determined to enjoy the Christmas holiday to the max, are embarking on a GRACE FILLED 12-DAYS OF CHRISTMAS BOOK BLITZ. December 26th – January 6th.

These are the 22 authors of the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour, sponsored by the Grace Awards. And you bet, these writers most assuredly see the connection between Christmas and grace. ~~ At any rate, each author will share a few witty, tantalizing, exciting, scintillating, devastatingly charming, stop-you-in-your-tracks lines from their novels on each day of the 12-Days of Christmas. What fun! 

Keep an eye out on Facebook, Google+, Goodreads, Shoutlife, and all Ning sites for a blitz of  FABULOSO short excerpts from their novels.

Look For :  Nike Chillemi ~~ Shaunna Gonzales ~~ Naomi Musch ~~ Elaine Marie Cooper ~~ Meg Moseley ~~ Sharon Leaf ~~  Tracy Krauss ~~ Suzanne Williams ~~ Amanda Stephan ~~ Barbara E. Brink ~~ William D. Burt  ~~ Tammy Doherty ~~ Christina Freeburn ~~ BJ Robinson ~~ Carole Towriss ~~ Jean Thompson Kinsey ~~ Karin Kaufman ~~ Katie Gansher ~~ Mikayla Kayne

Xmas, Three Wise Men 3

Many people think the 12-Days of Christmas precede December 25th, the day we celebrate the birth of Jesus. This is not true.

The 12-Days of Christmas begin on December 26th and end on January 6th with is the Feast of Epiphany, or Three Kings Day. Epiphany symbolizes the end of the journey of the caravan of Wise Men or Kings…ending when they found the Baby Jesus in a manger in Bethlehem.

Xmas, Pear Tree

Of course we all know the Christmas song “The Twelve Days of Christmas” which tells the story of the birth of Jesus in a kind of code that chronicles the journey of the Wise Men who followed the star to Bethlehem.

Henry VIII of England was desperate to have born to him a male heir. He married Catherine of Aragon, who was the widow of his older brother who died of the “sweating sickness.” When she miscarried four times he was sure God was punishing him for marrying his brother’s wife. The Pope (who was being held captive by Charles V of Spain, a Catholic) could not annul the marriage as Catherine was Spanish and it would not be in the best interests of Spain. Henry began a secret relationship with Anne Boleyn and severed England’s church relationship with Rome. He then obtained a decree of nullity from the Archbishop of Canterbury and married Anne Boleyn. At this time Henry’s Protestant Church in England began persecuting Catholics and prohibiting them from practicing their religion. The lyrics to “The 12-Days of Christmas” were devised as a way for Catholics to pass down the tenants, rituals, and teachings of their religion.

Lyrics to “The Twelve Days of Christmas”

  •  The First Day of Christmas – A Partridge in a Pear Tree – This symbolizes Jesus Christ, the son of God and Savior to the Christian world.
  • The Second Day of Christmas – Two Turtle Doves – This represents the Old and New Testaments, the two books that comprise the Holy Bible.
  • The Third Day of Christmas – Three French Hens – The theological Virtues are Faith, Hope, and Charity.
  • The Fourth Day of Christmas – Four Calling Birds – The four Gospels and their writers, Matthew, Mark,  Luke, and John.
  • The Fifth Day of Christmas – Five Golden Rings – The first five books of the Old Testament, known as the Pentatuch: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
  • The Sixth Day of Christmas – Six Geese A-Laying – In Genesis, the creation story takes six days to create the world.
  • The Seventh Day of Christmas – Seven Swans A-Swimming – The seven sacraments of the Catholic faith: baptism, communion, reconciliation (the idea that sins are forgiven once you confess and repent), confirmation, marriage, ordination, and the ritual of last rights.
  • The Eighth Day of Christmas – Eight Maids A-Milking – The eight Beatitudes, which can be found in the passage of the Bible that talks about the Sermon on the Mount. Condensed, they are:  Blessed are the poor in spirit, blessed are the meek, blessed are they who mourn, blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice, blessed are the merciful, blessed are the clean of heart, blessed are the peacemakers, and blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’s sake.
  • The Ninth Day of Christmas – Nine Ladies Dancing –  The nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
  • The Tenth Day of Christmas – Ten Lords A-Leaping –  The Ten Commandments, brought down by Moses and passed down as Catholic law.
  • The Eleventh Day of Christmas – Eleven Pipers Piping – The eleven faithful apostles: Peter, James, John, Andrew, Phillip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James, Jude, and Simon  (Judas is excluded due to his betrayal of Christ)
  • The Twelfth Day of Christmas – Twelve Drummers Drumming –  The doctrine of the Apostle’s Creed: I belive in God, the Father almighty, creator of heaven and earth. I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord. He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended to the dead. On the third day he rose again. He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting. (The Catechism of the Catholic Church)

Xmas, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

These Authors a Unique Approach to a Story and They Love Christmas

Xmas, Nativity Scene, 7

Twenty-two talented authors are participating in the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour, sponsored by the Grace Awards. These writers have a great love for Christmas and would like to share with the public their thoughts about what inspires them and their Christmas memories.

Xmas, Bow Border

KARIN KAUFMAN (SPARROW HOUSE, a cozy mystery about ancestry and family trees)

Grace Awards:  What is your favorite Christmas carol and why? Do you have a favorite performing artist who sings that song?

Karin:  My favorite Christmas carol is “O Holy Night.” Like most carols, it has a beautiful melody, but unlike a lot of carols, its lyrics are also beautiful. And bold. Is there another Christmas carol that unabashedly mentions sin? Even the original French version does.

And then there are those two stirring lines, where melody and words meet perfectly—“Fall on your knees” and “Christ is the Lord.” No matter how many times I hear this carol, those two lines still touch something deep inside me.

I think the best versions are by Martina McBride and Celine Dion.

Grace Awards:  Are your Christmas decorations traditional, or do they have a more modern flare? Do you have a particular theme to your decorating? Or does each and every ornament and decoration have a personal meaning to you?

I tend toward the traditional when I decorate, but only slightly. I also like a more modern look. I like it all. Honestly, I’m a Christmas decoration fanatic. I like simple wreaths tied with juniper and holly berries, but I also like wreaths made of bright, shiny, multicolored ball ornaments. I love trees decorated with simple wooden ornaments, or my bird ornaments, but I also love trees like the one I saw on TV the other day—heavily flocked and decorated with turquoise-colored ornaments.

Sometimes I go with a theme when I decorate, like birds and pinecones, but more often I go with a color or colors. This year it’s copper, browns, and greens in the living room and red in the kitchen. Of course, great thought went into this simple color theme—starting last June. And I already have ideas for next Christmas. I’m hopeless!Xmas, Colorful Tree

Karin Kaufman

Karin writes cozy mysteries with a bit of an edge. The first two books in her Anna Denning series, The Witch Tree and Sparrow House, are now out, and a third book is planned for this fall. Karin lives near the foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains with Sophie and Cooper, her crazy but lovable shelter dogs.

Link to Karin’s show case on the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour. Check out a novel with twists and turns galore.

Xmas, Berries

KATIE GANSHERT (WILDFLOWERS FROM WINTER, romance, secrets, a few laughs)

Grace Awards:  What is your favorite Christmas carol and why? Do you have a favorite performing artist who sings that song?

Katie:  Oh man, that’s tough. It’s probably a tie between Little Drummer Boy and O Holy Night. Both of those really tug at my heart strings and lead me to worship. I feel so much kinship with that little drummer boy, when he has nothing fit to give the King. So he plays his drum for Him. He plays his best for Him. It inspires me to do the same. And then the lyrics of O Holy Night. They capture the magic and the anticipation of this amazing holiday. Long lay the world, in sin and error pining….a thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices….And then when our voices rise together as we sing Fall on your knees. Oh hear the angel voices…It gets me every single time.

Grace Awards:  Are you a Christmas fanatic, a real crazy? Or is your approach to the holidays more down to earth and relaxed?

Katie:  I’m usually pretty laid back, but this year, I’m trying to be more of a fanatic. Our son is four years old and I feel like this is the first Christmas he might remember. I don’t want him to buy into this idea that Christmas is about toys and presents and getting. I want us to marvel at the manger. I want us to delight in the angels, and that star in the sky, and this amazing gift from God. I want him to celebrate the birth of Jesus—the light of the world who came in the dead of night. So this year, thanks to this book called The ADVENTure of Christmas by Lisa Welchel, we’ve been doing something special each day of Advent to build the sense of anticipation.

Xmas, StarKatie Ganshert

Katie was born and raised in the Midwest, where she writes  stories about finding faith and falling in love. When she’s not busy  plotting her next novel, she enjoys watching movies with her husband,  playing make-believe with her wild-child of a son, and chatting with her girlfriends over bagels. She and her husband are in the process of  adopting from the Congo. Her debut novel, Wildflowers from Winter, released this past May and her second novel, Wishing on Willows, will follow this March.

Link to Katie’s showcase on the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour. Find romance and faith at the same time.

Winter, Snow Covered Railing

MIKAYLA KAYNE (THE ANGEL CREST DECEPTION, an unusual twist to the end times)

Grace Awards:  Tell us about your fondest Christmas memory?

Mikayla:  A few years ago we created our own Norman Rockwell Christmas experience and coordinated four family’s schedules from three states to surprise my in-laws. I’m a stickler about Christmas morning being pajama time in our own house, so we had a massive family sleepover on Christmas Eve, enjoyed gifts and brunch at home, then caravanned almost two hours to Grandmother’s house. By the time they knew anyone was there, we had sixteen people wearing elf hats and reindeer antlers lined up singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” outside my in-law’s family room window. My mother-in-law had been recovering from a major surgery and couldn’t travel, so seeing all of her kids and grandkids, even the ones from half-way across the country, standing there in the snow singing just floored her. It was a precious afternoon. We topped our road trip day off by visiting extended family, more quality cousin time, and the kind of snowball fight that teen girls will only have if they are from Atlanta.

Grace Awards:  What does Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men (KJV) mean to you?

Mikayla:  We live in a time when peace is on everyone’s mind, rather, the lack of it. At Christmas, we call to mind Scriptures that refer to Jesus as the Prince of Peace, and this expectation that when He came it was to bring peace to the entire earth. The story of His birth is filled with that hope, but fast forward a bit, and Jesus Himself tells us that He didn’t yet come to bring peace, but a sword [Matthew 10:24]. Jesus does offer us peace, individually, but the idea of peace on the entire earth is still a future hope. Until the Millennial Reign of Christ, we won’t see peace on earth. When Jesus came as a baby, He had one purpose – to become the savior of the world through his death and resurrection, paying the price for the sins of all who choose to follow Him. That selfless act of love has caused more conflict than any one event since, because so many are willful and stubborn, offended by His sacrifice, unable to face their grave need for salvation. Peace happens one heart at a time, as we surrender ourselves to Jesus and accept His ultimate gift.Xmas, Cross

Mikayla Kayne

Mikayla moved this year from the Chicago area to Rochester, NY with her husband and co-writer, Gregory, and their three sons. Yes, she is aware that it’s just as cold and snowy there. Some people are crazy like that.

Link to Milayla’s showcase on the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour. Go on an extraordinary journey to the end times.

Xmas, Bow Border

This concludes the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour and it sure has been merry, joyous, and fun.

Oh, by the way, in case you were wondering…voting for the 2012 Grace Awards will begin on December 31st. There will be instruction on the Grace Awards blog on how to vote for you favorite books of this past year.

Xmas, Santa

Have A Very Merry, Blessed Christmas Filled with Good Reading and Good Cheer!!!

And A Healthy, Happy, Prosperous New Year!!! Shalom!!!

Xmas, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Two Write Southern Fic, One Biblical, All Share Their Love of Christmas


Twenty-two talented authors are participating in the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour, sponsored by the Grace Awards. These writers have a great love for Christmas and would like to share with the public their thoughts about what inspires them and their Christmas memories.Xmas, Bow Border


Grace Awards:  Have you ever had to handle a significant loss during the holidays? How did you cope?

BJ:  Before I was even old enough to read, Momma had me hooked on fairytales. She bought a new one for me each month out of the small social-security check she received after my father’s death. She would rock me to sleep reading my favorite fairytales each night. I loved The Glass Mountain, Cinderella, and Snow White. I was only four years old when my father died one cold Christmas Day in a charity hospital. Four years earlier, I had been born in a charity hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana. We never had much, but I had not yet realized that. To me, before Daddy died, we had everything. The last memory of my father before the Christmas he died runs through my mind often. One sunny day daddy and I strolled down Pine Street on our way to the grocery. As we passed Richardson’s Hardware, my eyes caught a little pink wringer-type washing machine in the showcase window. I tugged at dad’s jacket and pointed, “Look, Daddy! It’s a little pink washing machine just like Momma’s big machine. Oh, Daddy, can I get it to wash my doll’s clothes? It’s so cute. It looks just like Momma’s big white washer.” He told me, “Not today, but who knows, Christmas is right around the corner and perhaps Santa heard you.” I remember wishing Christmas would hurry up and come, not realizing that with it, my father would be lost to me forever. I grew up watching all the other children I knew with their fathers and yearning for mine. It was many years later before I realized I still had a heavenly Father, and He would never leave me alone. The first time I had to handle a significant loss during the holidays was the loss of my father as a child. As an adult, I didn’t lose my mother and youngest sister at Christmas, but I lost them both a mere six years apart and Christmas has never been the same without them.

Grace Awards:  Tell us about your fondest Christmas memory?

BJ:  One of my fondest memories centers around a Christmas my husband and I traveled to Louisiana and stayed in our camper in my daughter’s front yard. I had all my children together for Christmas that year, and it was such fun. My husband shot fireworks, my son fried a turkey, and my daughter made dressing and all the trimmings. It will be a memory forever etched in my heart when I remember a favorite family Christmas. It wasn’t the presents, but the people that made it so special. I thank God for those sweet, precious memories.  I just want to add that I’m thrilled to be a part of this fabulous showcase of twenty-five talented authors, ones I love to read myself. I want to wish a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all my readers, Facebook friends, and family. As we remember the reason for the season, may God bless you and yours with a heart-warming, safe holiday season.Xmas, tree decorations


BJis a multi-published, prize-winning author who writes from Florida where she lives with her husband, two dogs, and a cat. She has authored four novels as well as numerous poems, short stories, essays, and devotionals. She is blessed with children and grandchildren, and Jesus is her best friend.

Link to BJ’s showcase in the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour. Check out southern suspense with more twists and turns than you can shake a stick at.

Xmas, Poinsietta Ball

CAROLE TOWRISS (SHADOW OF SINAI, hope amidst despair, trust in the face of terror, and a love that binds)

Grace Awards:  Tell us about your fondest Christmas memory?

Carole:  My oldest daughter was born on Christmas Eve. The year before we had lost a baby on Christmas Eve after just a couple weeks. We’d been trying for eight years. That was quite a wallop, and a difficult holiday. For a few days I wasn’t even sure I could hold onto my faith. But Emma Noelle came three weeks early to be born exactly one year later. At the candlelight service they announced she’d been born at noon and everyone cheered because they’d all been praying for so many years. We took her home on Christmas Day. They even gave us a baby-sized stocking. She is a living, breathing reminder of God’s faithfulness, and the best Christmas present I ever had! She’ll be nineteen this year and is studying for a BFA in photography.

Grace Awards:  What is your favorite Christmas carol and why? Do you have a favorite performing artist who sings that song?

Carole:  “O Holy Night.” It’s my absolute favorite by far it because it embodies the real meaning, the purpose of Christmas. “It is the night of our dear Savior’s birth. Fall on your knees!” Without Christmas, there is nothing else—no life, no salvation, no redemption, no forgiveness, nothing. No Easter! I listen to it over and over all during the season until my kids get really annoyed! I love it by any singer—I have ten different versions on my iPhone. That being said, my favorite is Gary Chapman’s.Xmas, Stocking

Carole Towriss

Bio: Carole Towriss grew up in beautiful San Diego, California. Now she and her husband live just north of Washington, DC. In between making tacos and telling her four children to pick up their shoes for the third time, she reads, writes, watches chick flicks and waits for summertime to return to the beach.

Link to Carole’s showcase on the Grace Filled Blog Tour. You might think you know the story of the Exodus, but you might be surprised., Angel 2

JEAN THOMPSON KINSET (SECRETS OF WILLOW SHADE, THE LIGHT KEEPER’S DAUGHTER, whether it’s a contemporary or historical novel, it’s the warmth of family in rural Kentucky)

Grace Awards:  Tell us about your fondest Christmas memory?

Jean:  One of my fondest memories dates back to 1946, when I was six-years-old. Traditionally, we received a gift from Momma and Daddy separately from Santa. Living in the country, as we did, it was a real treat to go to the movies and buy that wonderful, delicious, buttered popcorn. So when Momma asked what I wanted from her for Christmas, I said, “All the movie popcorn I can eat.” Daddy insisted day-old popcorn was not what I really wanted for Christmas. Maybe a pretty doll would be better. Christmas morning, after Santa’s gifts were opened, Daddy said excitedly, “Here’s my gift.” The tobacco crop had been good that year, and he could afford a nice present. Then Momma calmly said, “Here’s mine.” You should have seen my daddy’s long face when I sped past a big beautiful, curly-haired, baby doll to dig into Momma’s humongous bag of cold, buttered, movie popcorn. That was the best popcorn I ever tasted, especially at the break of dawn on Christmas morning. Sometimes I think back to those days and wonder why I ask for so much today, when it took so little to satisfy me then.

Grace Awards: What does keeping the true spirit of Christmas alive mean to you?

Jean:  When I hear bells jingling, my spirits soar at this joyous season. When accepting a nicely wrapped package, I am aware of the Ultimate Gift I’ve already received. The pretty, twinkling lights remind me of the star that led the wise men to Jesus. Christmas carols make me think of the angels heralding the news of the King. “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”( Luke 2:14 kjv) I cannot do away with the commercialism, the greed and the coveting that surround us during this holy season, but I keep the true spirit of Christmas in my heart when I allocate His love to others. When I help someone in need, I share God’s generous spirit. Sometimes a smile might be all that’s required. Other times I may have to dig deeper and give generously. By sharing Christ Jesus, I keep His spirit alive throughout this hallowed time of year. I sincerely wish everyone a “Merry Christmas.”Xmas, Gifts

Jean Thompson Kinsey

Jean Thompson Kinsey lived in rural Kentucky until she married in 1960. She has lived near Louisville, KY since then. Jean loves to travel. She and her husband, Glen, explored the back roads of many states of the U.S. and Canada in their motorhome until she was widowed in 2005, at which time she expanded her hobby of writing. Jean teaches adult Sunday school at her church. She is the mother of three, the grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of two.

Link to Jean’s showcase in the Grace Awards Christmas Blog Tour. Find real life in rural Kentucky on display in a sweet-tender way.

Xmas, Inside Cathedral

Xmas, Bow Border


There will be more author interviews to follow. The authors on the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour want to share their Christmas hopes, dreams, memories, decorating trips, perhaps even a recipe or two. Stay turned as these terrific and very interesting authors share about what Christmas means to them.

Link to access the Calendar of the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour:

Xmas, Merry Christmas 2

Authors Writing Historicals, Contemporary Novels and Fantasy Speak of Their Love of Christmas

Xmas, Nativity Scene 8Twenty-two talented authors are participating in the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour, sponsored by the Grace Awards. These writers have a great love for Christmas and would like to share with the public their thoughts about what inspires them and their Christmas memories.Xmas, Bow BorderSHARON LEAF (LADY AND THE SEA, Russian Jews voyage to Israel, taken from real life)

Grace Awards:  Tell us about your fondest Christmas memory.

Sharon:  Raised in Southern California, we picked our Christmas trees from local tree lots; that’s when Mom would remind us of her Christmases in South Carolina.  “Mommy would bundle us up, then Daddy would take my sister, Jackie Jo, and me out in the woods to chop down a special Christmas tree.”  What fun that must have been, traipsing through the snow, I thought.  So when I was eleven and Mom and Dad announced that we were going to drive to South Carolina for Christmas, I was beside myself. Several nights after our arrival, I spotted Aunt Jackie Jo and my Dad gathering their coats.   “Where are you going?” I asked. “It’s time to get a Christmas tree,” Aunt Jackie Jo replied. “I’m coming too!” I yelled as I ran for my jacket, gloves, hat, and boots.  But once in the car, I wondered why we were the only three going on this magical Christmas event. When Dad pulled up in front of the Piggly Wiggly Market and Aunt Jackie Jo scurried inside, I figured she had to buy some rope and a saw, but when she walked out, a store clerk carrying a Christmas tree followed close behind.  As he tied the tree to the top of Dad’s 1954 Chrysler, I asked,  “Aren’t we going to the forest for your tree?” My father joined my aunt in bellows of laughter.  “Darlin’, that was many years ago.  We do it the modern way now. I still smile when I recall my memory of going with Aunt Jackie Jo to chop down the family Christmas tree California style.

Grace Awards: What does keeping the true meaning of Christmas alive mean to you?

Sharon:  When I was a child I loved helping Mom decorate our small table tree (all we could afford), then placing the ho-ho-ho Santa Klaus decorations throughout our humble home.  At sixty-six, I’m still a child at Christmas.  I enjoy decking my halls with boughs of holly more than opening presents.  Sounds silly, but I can’t help myself.  My Christmas themes often change.  The past six years I’ve been collecting ice skates for my ice skate tree and for each room my home.  Why, you ask?  Ice skates remind me of years gone by when my Daddy bought me my first pair of ice skates and took me ice-skating on Saturdays.  Ahh, I can still smell the frozen aroma of that local ice rink.  Yes, themes come and go, but for forty-plus years, I have placed the same lovely nativity in our living rooms, reminding those who gaze upon the peaceful scene that Jesus is the reason for the season.  And that, my friends, is a theme that keeps the true meaning of Christmas alive in our home.Winter, pine trees

Sharon Leaf

Since turning forty, Sharon has traveled to over fifteen countries, including living in Sweden while attending Bible college, traveling on the Trans-Siberian Railway, and volunteering on a World War II ship in 1994, whose sole purpose was to transport Russian Jews from the Black Sea to Israel.  Lady and the Sea is Sharon’s debut novel.  She lives in South Carolina with her husband.

Link to Sharon’s showcase on the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour. Check out this thrilling read., door sprayWILLIAM D. BURT (THE KING OF THE TREES, TORSILS IN TIME, THE GOLDEN WOOD, an allegorical Christian alternative to secular fantasy books )

Grace Awards:  Tell us about your fondest Christmas memory.

William:  I most fondly recall our family Christmas tree and singing Christmas carols. My mother taught piano, and she would accompany us as we sang our favorite carols. Only recently did I learn that my parents could not afford to buy a Christmas tree every year. Some years, my father would wait until the junior high school where he taught math closed for the holiday. Then he would retrieve one of the school Christmas trees from the dumpster and haul it home for free, decorations and all. Christmas lights back then were not the petite energy-misers that we use nowadays. Instead, we had bold, hot-burning, thumb-sized bulbs that scorched our fingers when we touched them. Our bulbs were painted a sky blue—the only color we used on the tree. They lent a mystical quality to the evergreen (usually a Douglas fir). I loved to turn off the overhead lights and sit in the darkened living room gazing at the tree’s splendor and listening to vinyl records of German Christmas carols. To this day, those carols take me back to the simple joys of a childhood Christmas.
Grace Awards:  What is your favorite Christmas carol and why? Do you have a favorite performing artist who sings that song?
William:  Probably my favorite Christmas carol (in English, at least) is “Good King Wenceslas.” I love the simple message in this carol as it dramatically recounts King Wenceslas’s selfless act of charity in personally delivering a Christmas feast to a poor man during winter’s bitter weather. This carol has defied the modern tendency to water carols down or syncopate them, which is probably why most musical artists avoid it. Symbolically speaking, King Wenceslas represents Christ, Who humbly left His heavenly kingdom in order to bring a “feast” of salvation and comfort to the poor lost souls of planet earth. Xmas, tree blue lights

William D BurtHaving spent most of his teenage years adventuring in Middle Earth, Burt is an avid fantasy fan. His first allegorical fantasy title, The King of the Trees, came out in 1998 (WinePress). He has expanded the series to include a total of seven titles to date, with more to follow. While still in high school, he began his writing career editing his father’s popular identification guides, Edible and Poisonous Plants of the Western/Eastern States. As an Assistant Professor in the Special Education Department at Western Oregon University, he served as a successful grant-writer and program coordinator. Burt holds a B.S. in English from Lewis and Clark College and an M.S. from Western Oregon University in Deaf Education. In addition to writing books, he works as an RID-certified American Sign Language interpreter with over thirty years’ experience. His interests include reading, foreign languages and mycology. He is married with two grown children.

Link to Burt’s showcase on the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour. Take a look-see and find out what a Torsil is.

Xmas, Nutcracker 2

TAMMY DOHERTY (CELTIC KNOT, CLADDAUGH, CELTIC CROSS, historical western suspense with a Celtic flare)

Grace Awards:  What is your favorite Christmas carol and why? Do you have a favorite performing artist who sings that song?

Tammy:  I have to answer this one, but true to me, the answer isn’t exactly what you’re expecting. Christmas carols hold a special place in my memories. As a teen, I was a horse-loving girl. My parents had to drag me from the barn some nights. So when hunting season came around each fall, you can bet a little thing like maybe getting shot wasn’t going stop me from going riding. My best friend and I loved going on long trail rides, mostly along roads not wooded trails. Still, they were back roads. So to let hunters know we weren’t deer, we sang Christmas carols at the top of our lungs. It’s a wonder no one shot us just to shut us up! We sang the ones we knew all words to:  “Hark The Herald”, “O Little Town of Bethlehem”, “Silent Night”, “The Little Drummer Boy”, and “The First Noel”. I also know “Jingle Bells” in French, so we’d sing that, too. As an adult, I love all the traditional carols but some of the new ones, though beautiful, make me too sad. The one that gets to me the most, now that I’m a mother, is “Mary Did You Know” – I cry every time I hear it.

Grace Awards:  Do you have a favorite Christmas movie? What about that movie thrills you…makes you tear up?

Tammy:  Everyone loves “It’s a Wonderful Life” and “Miracle on 34th Street” – me too. But how about the Christmas specials you waited for all year to see just that one time of year? When I was little, my favorite was The Night the Animals Talked. I can’t even remember the story now, but oh how I loved it then. Of course, Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman were also favorites. My family loves A Charlie Brown Christmas so much we bought it on DVD. There were two that I loved as a kid; they both made me teary-eyed then and now. The first is Nestor, the Long-Eared Christmas Donkey. When Nestor’s mom sacrifices herself for him…I’m crying now just writing about it! It’s a beautiful story about Christmas told from the perspective of the little donkey that Mary rode to Bethlehem. The second is The Little Drummer Boy. As a kid, I just loved the idea of another kid doing something great for God. As an adult, I’m moved by a God who would give His son as a gift to all mankind while at the same time wanting nothing more than our love in return.Xmas, Horse

Tammy Doherty

Tammy Doherty writes Inspirational Romance. Her Western romance series is now available in print and eBook: Celtic Cross, Claddaugh, and Celtic Knot. She grew up in the family greenhouse business but decided to go into an animal related career and became a veterinary technician. Her husband is “The Perennial Guy”, so she’s back to being immersed in the plant business. Currently, she works for a veterinary distribution company, selling pharmaceuticals and supplies in the Northeast. Tammy shares a blog, Faith, Fiction and Friends, with critique partner Nike Chillemi. There you can find information about the world of writing along with personal interest articles. Yes, writers have lives too. They just need to be reminded of that sometimes!

Link to Tammy’s showcase on the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour. Check out these rip-roarin’ romances set in 19th century Colorado., Poinsettia


Grace Awards:  What does keeping the true spirit of Christmas alive mean to you?

Christina:  Hope and love. The world can seem dark and complicated much of the times, and to me the Christmas spirit is about embracing hope. It’s believing love and goodwill are out there in the world, that there is more good than bad. Evil might be more ‘well-known’–infamous–as the news and even our minds at times focus on the hard and painful times, but evil is not in control. Happiness, hope and love are out there. Those feelings do exist and are more prevalent in the world. People are more loving than we give them credit for. Christmas has people acting ‘softer’, more loving, and patience not only toward others …but also themselves. We remember more about the good and even adults make more time to just enjoy life.

Grace Awards:  Are your Christmas decorations traditional, or do they have a more modern flare? Do you have a particular theme to your decorating? Or does each and every ornament and decoration have a personal meaning to you?

Christina:  I have an eclectic style of holiday decorating, a mix of traditional and modern, of ‘don’t touch’ and ‘you can play with it’. Currently, we have five Christmas trees of varying heights. A one foot wooden tree was made by one of my daughters in VBS (Vacation Bible School) and has small mini ornaments. My office tree has some Santa and also a couple of my favorites so I can see them while I work. Our largest and ‘main tree’ is upstairs in our living room. It has a mix of ornaments made by our children, ones we pick up on vacation, religious ones, and ornaments that represent our interests. The two trees downstairs are themed. The one in our family room has nutcracker and snowmen ornaments. My newest tree is the white 4 foot tree in the craft room. I have started enjoying using my Cricuit die cut machine and made a whole collection of Finding Nemo characters from cardstock. I turned those into ornaments and put them on the white tree. Next year, I hope to add some of our favorite Nemo sayings to it. Xmas, white tree

Christina Freeburn

Christina Freeburn writes The New Beginnings, published by Desert Breeze, featuring a skip-tracing business that specializes in relocating abused and stalked women. The first three books in the inspirational romantic suspense series are out, Lost Then Found, Led Astray, and Safe and Sound. Two more are scheduled for release in 2013. Cropped to Death, the first in her cozy scrapbooking mystery published by Henery Press, was released November 20, 2012. Christina has been a judge for the Edgar award for the Best Novel category and the ACFW Carol Awards, and previously chaired MWA:Reads, the youth literacy committee of MWA.

Link to Christina’s showcase on the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour. Find out what a firebrand skiptracer’s life if all about., Red Candles

Xmas, Bow Border

There will be more author interviews to follow. The authors on the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour want to share their Christmas hopes, dreams, memories, decorating trips, perhaps even a recipe or two. Stay turned as these terrific and very interesting authors share about what Christmas means to them.

Link to access the Calendar of the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour:

Xmas, Merry Christmas, Very Red

They write about Christmas Angels, Learning to Trust, and Amish Vampires! Wow!

Twenty-two talented authors are participating in the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour, sponsored by the Grace Awards. These writers have a great love for Christmas and would like to share with the public their thoughts about what inspires them and their Christmas memories.

Xmas, Bow Border

SUZANNE WILLIAMS (CHRISTMAS ANGEL, MISSING, FOUND, Christmas hope, soldiers missing in action)

Grace Awards:  What foods do you prepared for the holidays?

Suzanne:  Our family Christmas is untraditional. We don’t have a big sit-down meal, but instead fix an array of hors d’oeuvres. It’s a chance to try out recipes you’ve held onto all year and display your culinary skills. I always tend to lean toward making desserts (which all my friends and family will know about me). But the favorite of everyone are always the Bacon-wrapped Water Chestnuts my aunt makes. We fight over these and consume every one. There’s something about bacon soaked in BBQ sauce that appeals to the senses and the crunch of the water chestnuts is added bliss.

Grace Awards:  What is your favorite Christmas carol and why? Do you have a favorite performing artist who sings that song

Suzanne:  I have always loved Silent Night. I sometimes sing it during other times of the year when I need to find peace. I prefer Josh Groban’s version of the song. I also love The Prayer as sung by Celine Dion and Andreas Bocelli. I have an eclectic taste in music, from pop to rock to classical. But there is something at Christmas-time about hearing the angelic voices of Groban and Bocelli that really makes me happy.

Suzanne D. Williams is a native Floridian, wife, mother, photographer, and writer. She is author of both nonfiction and fiction books. She writes a monthly column for on the subject of digital photography, as well as devotionals and instructional articles for various blogs. She also does graphic design for self-publishing authors.

Link to Suzanne’s showcase on the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour.

AMANDA STEPHAN (THE PRICE OF TRUST, LONELY HEARTS, beaten, betrayed, and on the run, love the second time around)

Grace Awards:  What is your favorite Christmas carol and why? Do you have a favorite performing artist who sings that song?

Amanda:  Ooh, hands down, I’d have to say my favorite Christmas song is Mary Did You Know? I love how Mark Lowry sings it, but to tell you the truth, I think I’d probably love the song no matter who sang it ~ as long as it wasn’t rap. I’m not sure I could handle a rap version. Huh. Perhaps I’ll have my kids give it a try…that could be interesting! The meaning and how Mary could have been feeling or thinking ~ that just sends chills up my spine.

Grace Awards:  Do you have a favorite Christmas movie? What about that movie thrills you…makes you tear up?

Amanda:  My absolute, hands-down, without-a-doubt favorite Christmas movie is It’s a Wonderful Life. I realize it’s an oldie, but it resonates deep within me. No matter how bleak life looks or seems to be at a certain time, it’s still worth the living.

Mary and Jesus

Amanda StephanAmanda is your normal, everyday country girl. Residing in Middle, TN with her husband and children who closely resemble several of the seven dwarfs, (Sleepy, Sneezy, Grumpy/Happy), three cats, one dog, and multiple roosters that love to roost under their bedroom windows. She loves to laugh and have a good time, and loves to read a good book. She finds writing to be an opportunity to share God’s love for others in a fun and entertaining way. Her first novel, The Price of Trust, was published in May of 2010, her second novel, Lonely Hearts was released at the end of October, 2011, and she is currently working on a short Christian paranormal novella as well as a three book Christian romantic suspense series.

Link to Amanda’s showcase on the Grace Filled Blog Tour. Check out her touching romantic novels.

Xmas, Angel Ornament, Purple

BARBARA E. BRINK (CHOSEN, SHUNNED, RECKONING, the Amish Bloodsucker Trilogy, YA that’s lots of fun)

Grace Awards:  Do you have a favorite Christmas movie? What about that movie thrills you…makes you tear up?

Barbara:  I love Christmas movies but my favorites tend to be comedies. One that makes me tear up with hysterical laughter would have to be Elf. Will Ferrell plays Buddy, a human raised by elves who leaves the North Pole to find his real father. Buddy is a naïve and innocent child-like man. He thinks the food pyramid consists of candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup. He also likes to talk a lot, which really annoys his dad, a book publisher played by grumpy James Caan. One of the funniest scenes is when Buddy sees a children’s author talking to his dad in a board meeting. The author just happens to be a midget, so of course Buddy assumes he’s an elf. To make a funny story short…he’s a very angry elf.

Grace Awards:  What is your favorite Christmas carol and why? Do you have a favorite performing artist who sings that song?

Barbara:  I love Christmas carols but I’m always looking for something different to add to my holiday collection. I’m a country music fan and Brad Paisley and Sara Evans are two of my favorite artists, so when I heard them sing this song from the movie, Passion of the Christ, it became one of my favorites. I can hardly listen to it without tearing up. It’s one of the songs on Sara Evan’s “I’ll be home for Christmas” album, called New Again. It’s not really a carol but sort of a dialogue between Jesus and his mother, Mary. She’s broken hearted seeing her son, the tiny baby she gave birth to in that manger, now hanging on the cross. “God, how can this be your will, to have your son and my son killed?” And Jesus says “Mother… Whatever happens, whatever you see, whatever your eyes tell you has become of me. This is not the end. I am making all things new again.” It’s what Christmas is really all about.

Barbara is a multi-published author of mystery, suspense, and now a young adult series. She resides in the great state of Minnesota with her husband and their two lovable mutts. Her children, now grown, seldom return to the nest except for holiday meals or birthday celebrations, but they live close enough that they still get blamed if something turns up broken or is missing from the garage. Barbara enjoys white water rafting, cliff diving, and underwater exploration. Not really. Actually, she can’t swim, but as a fiction author she’s gotten rather accustomed to making stuff up. But she really does like black licorice.

Link to Barbara’s showcase on the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour.

There will be more author interviews to follow. The authors on the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour want to share their Christmas hopes, dreams, memories, decorating trips, perhaps even a recipe or two. Stay turned as these terrific and very interesting authors share about what Christmas means to them.

Link to access the Calendar of the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour:

Xmas, Merry Christmas Santa w