Grace Awards

Expanding the Tent Pegs of Christian Fiction

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. www.sharonleaf.com

Link to Sharon’s showcase on the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour. Check out this thrilling read. http://tiny.cc/0i4wowXmas, 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. http://www.greencloaks.com/

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

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! https://www.facebook.com/TammyDohertyAuthor

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

CHRISTINA FREEBURN (LOST THEN FOUND, LED ASTRAY, SAFE AND SOUND)

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. www.theselfrescueprincess.wordpress.com

Link to Christina’s showcase on the Grace Filled Christmas Blog Tour. Find out what a firebrand skiptracer’s life if all about. http://tiny.cc/4mazowXmas, 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: https://graceawardsdotorg.wordpress.com/grace-filled-christmas-blog-tour-2012/

Xmas, Merry Christmas, Very Red

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4 thoughts on “Authors Writing Historicals, Contemporary Novels and Fantasy Speak of Their Love of Christmas

  1. Wow. there is so much to respond to here! First, Sharon, I have come across your book before and I’m intrigued by your travels abroad. William, I enjoyed your story about salvaging a tree and I, too, listened to German Carols as a child on LPs. (Heinze was our favorite) I laughed when I pictured Tammy singing at the top of her lungs and scaring all the game away! When I read Christina’s answers I smiled. In the past we’ve had trees that were decorated with super tacky homemade ornaments made by my children. I’m actually glad to be over the ‘tacky tree’ stage, as sentimental as it was!
    Happy holidays

  2. elainemcooper on said:

    LOVE these interviews. Everyone’s Christmas memories bring tears to my eyes. I keep hearing the theme here that money was not important, but simple traditions with family made the holiday so special for everyone. Of course, Tammy, your line that it was a wonder the hunters didn’t shoot you singing carols on horseback cracked me up!! Thank you, everyone, for these wonderful Christmas reminiscences.

  3. I really enjoy reading everyone’s stories and memories. I can especially relate to William’s memory of those big, hot-burning Christmas bulbs on a last-minute tree, and listening to carols on vinyl. Thanks to all of you for taking me down memory lane!

  4. Sharon, I envy you your travels. Maybe next time you can tuck me in your suitcase. LOL

    Tammy, I’m surprised the hunters didn’t shoot you guys deliberately for scaring all the deer away. LOL

    Christina, I think Christmas is a time when light is so evident in the world that even the nonbelievers can see it. That’s why the enemy wants the nativity scenes taken down. I think every Christian yard should have a nativity scene. All the commercialism doesn’t bother me. The light shines through it. It’s the effort to shut it all down that scares me.

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