Rose Allen McCauley – Nick’s Christmas Carol

Since Rose Allen McCauley loves all things Christmas, it was a wonderful day when she found out her first book to be published by Barbour was a Christmas book. She now has five other books pubbed, and two of them are Christmas also!

Rose is our guest today, and she has supplied the Writing Prompts blog with an excerpt from that Christmas book. She’s also giving away a print version of the book, so if you’d like one, leave us a comment below. One of you will be chosen to receive the book — just in time for Christmas giving!

Rose: I need to preface this scene with the reason my hero and heroine are dressed like burglars! They have decided to make Christmas brighter for a young single mom with two little girls and are taking them a gift each day for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. In the midst of helping others, they realize they are falling in love.

Excerpt from chapter 13, Nick’s Christmas Carol in Christmas Belles of Georgia:

Nick arrived at seven. Also dressed in black down to his ski mask and gloves, he pulled another ski mask from his pocket. “I love the golden streaks in your hair, but we need to cover it tonight.”

“Thanks.” He’d used the word love again. This time about her hair. Would he ever say he loved her? She took the mask and pulled it over her hair, only leaving her eyes, nose and mouth uncovered.

When she turned to face him, he kissed her on the tip of her nose. “You sure make a cute burglar.”

“I guess that’s better than a cat burglar.”

“I’m allergic to cats, so I’m glad you’re not one.”

“Me, too.” She had a lot to learn about this man, but she already knew the important things like his love for God and others.

He helped her into the truck.

“Thanks.” She looked at the tree filling up most of the truck bed. “It’s beautiful, so full and green.”

Nick hummed then began to sing, “Lavender’s blue, dilly dally. Lavender’s green.” His eyes locked on hers. “I’ve been humming that song ever since we met again this fall. I see your lovely lavender blue eyes every night when I go to sleep and when I awake in the morning.” He moved closer to her. “But tonight, in the dark, your eyes look lavender green.”

“Maybe it’s the reflection from the tree.” Me and my wise mouth. Right when he might have kissed me.

He scooted back to his side and started up the truck. “Maybe.”

The young mom’s home was only a few blocks from the Warren House. They drove the dark streets in silence. Nick shut off the engine and coasted to a stop two doors down in his minister friend’s drive.

“Stay warm inside until I get it untied.” He hopped out of the truck and spent a couple minutes unloading the tree, then brought it around to her door. He tapped on the door—two shorts and three longs.

“I’ve got the heavy end. You get the top of the tree.”

“Okay.” The light brown bird nest near the top glowed in the moonlight. She wished she could be inside when the children noticed it.

They quietly situated the tree on the small front porch. Nick motioned her to go on and hide behind the neighbor’s bushes. As she did, she heard the sound of a doorbell then felt two strong arms around her as he slid into place beside her.

The front door opened. A child’s high-pitched voice hollered out, “Mom, come look what’s on our porch.”

Another child began to clap. “It’s a Cwismas tree, a Cwismas tree.”

Phyllis stood on the porch, her arms around each child protectively.

The older girl pointed up. “Look, Mom, a card.”

The young mother picked off the note and read, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of  lights.” Her gaze searched the yard, and Carol could see the woman’s tears glistening. “God sent us this gift through His helpers.”

“Like Santa’s elves?” asked the younger child.

“Only better.” Phyllis motioned to the taller girl. “Connie, if you get hold of the treetop and pull, I think I can get the rest of the tree inside.”

The shorter child began to jump up and down. “Can we decowate it tonight? Pwease?”

“Yes, honey. God has given us this tree, and we will decorate it to be the prettiest one on the block. I’ll even pop some popcorn and teach you—” The mom’s words faded as the door closed on the happy family.

Carol lifted one gloved hand to wipe at the moisture in her own eyes. Surprised to find her other hand warmly held in Nick’s, she wondered when and how it got there. Although he might not know it, he also held her heart. She loved him.

***

Nick loved the wonder on the faces of the two young girls, and the joy and pleasure he read on Carol’s face. I love Carol Peterson. Now what am I going to do?


Rose: You’ll have to read the rest of the book to find out.

You can order the book from Amazon by clicking here: Nick’s Christmas Carol

Or, you can leave a comment and let us know you’d love to be included in the drawing to receive a free print version of the book. Note: this book makes a lovely stocking stuffer!

Betty: here’s another chance to win a book–If you’ve never read my book, Sutter’s Landing, #2 Kinsman Redeemer Series, you can comment for a chance to win it on Rose McCauley’s blog. Click here for more details: Win a copy of Sutter’s Landing!

3 Questions Wednesday with Carlton Hughes

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday.

Carlton Hughes

Today’s guest is a familiar one, a member of the Writing Prompts Crew. Among other things, he’s a communications professor, a children’s pastor, and an all-around great guy. Our readers know him for his warm, humorous posts.

So, let’s see how he answers our 3 Questions–

Question: Carlton, what inspires you?

Carlton:  Many things inspire me, but I’ve narrowed it down a bit. (1) I live in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, and you truly witness the creativity of God here. Right now the colors of autumn are vivid, and nature inspires me. (2) I’m also inspired by the people in my life—my family, friends, students, and co-workers. There are always good stories floating around! (3) This one may sound strange, but I love classic sitcoms and get inspiration from them. When I’m feeling down, I’ll watch an episode or two of I Love Lucy, The Andy Griffith Show, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, etc. I love to write humor, and what better way to learn than to watch the best.

Sounds like you’re inspired by life. And you’re right–stories are everywhere. For humor writers, those classic shows are the best.

Next question–You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Carlton: This question is hard, but I’d have to say a vibrant royal blue, mostly because I bleed Kentucky blue!

The color blue indicates patience and calm, and also fealty (loyalty), and you are certainly loyal to your Kentucky Wildcats!

Final Question–As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Carlton: For a long time, I wanted to be an architect—I think it was the “Mike Brady Effect.” When I realized you had to take a lot of math to be an architect, I changed my mind quickly. I developed an interest in journalism starting in junior high and wanted to be a broadcast news anchor—I even double-majored in broadcasting and print journalism in college. God had other plans, though, and I became a professor and a freelance writer. However, I use the skills from my broadcast journalism classes in my writing all the time. Math? Not so much.

Good choice! This is a perfect example of how God uses our gifts to be a blessing to others.

Thanks, Carlton, for visiting 3 Questions Wednesday, and giving our readers the chance to get to know you better. Readers, besides here on our blog, you can find Carlton on Almost an Author (blog).

Click to tweet: Carlton Hughes bleeds blue! #Kentucky #3QuestionsWednesday #InspiredPrompt


Carlton W. Hughes is a communications professor at Southeast Kentucky Community College and coordinates the Dual Credit Program at Harlan County High School, where he also teaches part-time. He is children’s pastor at Lynch Church of God and won the 2013 Shepherd’s Cup Award, the highest honor for children’s pastors in the Church of God denomination. Hughes is also a year-round volunteer and Relay Center Coordinator for Operation Christmas Child. As a writer, his works have been featured in numerous publications, including the books Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dating Game and Simple Little Words. Hughes is a two-time first-place winner in the “Dramas/ Plays/Scripts” category in the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Writers Contest. He resides in Cumberland, Kentucky, and he and his wife Kathy have two sons, Noah and Ethan. He is a fan of chocolate, good books, basketball, and classic television shows like “I Love Lucy.”


And don’t forget to enter our “Once Upon a Christmas Giveaway III” — you’ll see a “click-meme” in the sidebar on the right, or if you’re on your phone, you can click here to enter: Rafflecopter Giveaway

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

3 Questions Wednesday with Deborah Dee Harper

Welcome to 3 Questions Wednesday!

Deborah Dee Harper

Deborah Dee Harper writes “humorous and inspirational books for both children and adults.” She says that God has given us “a sense of humor with which to appreciate those aspects of human behavior we can’t quite explain any other way.” So, with that in mind, let’s see how she answers our 3 questions.

Question: What inspires you?

Deborah: This is not a particularly unique answer, but nature inspires me. I am awed at the beauty and diversity of what God has created for us. There are many places on earth where man has never stepped, yet there are so many beautiful things in those places—grass, flowers, waterfalls, streams, wildlife, etc. Even though He knows no one will ever venture to those areas, He still provides the precious flora and fauna, water sources, and geographical elements to take our breath away. Perhaps it’s for His own Glory that He does this. I hope so.

I’m also inspired by music. Listening to Christian music gets my blood pumping and never fails to motivate me to write for His Glory.

It may not be unique, but it’s still a good answer. Nature has a way of reflecting God’s glory–His word often uses natural images to reveal deep truths.

Just for fun–You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?

Deborah: I’d be a bright yellow. For one thing, I love yellow, but in addition I like the connotation it holds—light, the sun, bright and beautiful flowers, lemons, and all other sorts of cheerful and hopeful associations. I like to bring light and humor and inspiration to my readers through lots of humor, and I associate yellow with all of those writing elements.

I’m not really surprised by your answer–lovers of the color yellow are generally in a good mood most of the time, and display a wonderful sense of humor. They are often shrewd, intellectual. 

Final Question–As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Deborah: As a child, I wanted to be a “stewardess,” the term used back then for flight attendants. I decided I’d work for PanAm airlines, now defunct, and fly exclusively to Italy. There I’d immerse myself in the beauty and culture of Italy while waiting for my next trip home. I even thought about taking lessons in Italian, but once I figured out I wasn’t going to find a tutor in our small town, and that PamAm wouldn’t guarantee me exclusive rights to an Italy run all the time (seniority and all that), I gradually lost interest. It’s a good thing, too, because I’m not fond of flying, hate crossing big bodies of water, and I’m not that crazy about heights!

It would’ve been fun, though, had it worked out and had you not been afraid of those things. Lol! Thank you, Deborah Dee Harper,  for visiting 3 Questions Wednesday.

Readers, here’s more about Deborah and her books–


Deborah Dee Harper currently resides with her daughter and granddaughter in Alaska, where she writes inspiration and humorous books for both children and adults and takes thousands of photographs. When she isn’t writing or taking photos, she stalks moose and other wildlife, survives earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, endures the long, dark, frigid winters, revels in the endless summer days, and is awestruck by the rippling northern lights of the Alaskan night skies. She also leaps mountains in a single bound and wrestles grizzly bears along hiking trails. (Not really. Just making sure you were paying attention.) Whenever she can, she loves being with her daughter, son-in-law, and three grandsons in Kentucky, and her son, daughter-in-law, and two more grandsons in Michigan. (For real.)

Click to Tweet: Find out how author Deborah Dee Harper answered our 3 Questions!


Heaven help the president!

What would you do if you discovered, by accident, no less, that the President of the United States was attending your daughter’s wedding in less than two weeks?

Panic. You’d panic, I tell you.

That’s what the parents of the bride, Pastor Hugh Foster and his wife Melanie did. Add in a severe storm, crazy senior citizens who believe the POTUS lied his way into office, a crumbling, but historic church you happen to pastor, a cranky Secret Service agent, a four-year-old grandchild-to-be you know nothing about, and a son-in-law-to-be whose faith in the Lord has waned, and well … you’ve got yourself a humdinger of a wedding. Not to mention that that same future son-in-law is a University of Michigan Wolverines fan (gasp! … not a Michigan State Spartan fan) and prefers sweet tea for unsweetened. My gosh, what is the world coming to?

https://www.deborahdeeharper.com/
Goodreads
Twitter: https://twitter.com/deborahdeetales
Save
Sav
Save

Grandma Had No Recipes

I heard a rumor it’s already November. I’m not sure I’m speaking to November. However, I am leading with the topic for this month, so I’ll just have to get over it. The official topic is “From My Grandmother’s Kitchen.” This means that all our wonderful bloggers will be writing about some of their favorite foods, and sharing memories, along with one of Grandma’s favorite recipes.

Grandma

Here’s my dilemma: oh, wait, you already read it in the title of this post. Maybe I shouldn’t have led with it. You may be wondering why Grandma had no recipes. Everyone uses a cookbook, or borrows recipes, right? She probably did, at one time or another, but by the time I came along, most everything Grandma made, she knew how to cook. She never used a recipe. She added a little of this and a pinch of that.

My grandma made the best biscuits ever. If you’ve read my Kinsman Redeemer series, or maybe just the first book, Annabelle’s Ruth, Cousin Thelma’s biscuits were like my grandma’s. They were big and fluffy. Toasty on the outside, moist on the inside. Is your mouth watering? Mine is!

I watched her make them. We all did. But no one could duplicate them. We’ve all tried, with no luck. She also made wonderful teacakes—an old-fashioned sweet biscuit-y cookie. I ate plenty of that cookie dough. As soon as Grandma turned her back, into my mouth went another lump. It was delicious, but no one could duplicate the recipe. She even tried writing that one down. We could get really close, but not quite. It was so disappointing.

Grandma was a plain cook. Kind of like Amish plain. She cooked the best vegetables–lima beans, corn pudding, grits and red-eye gravy. Yum! And her creamed potatoes were a-maz-ing. She even made a warm mashed potato version of potato salad, topped with sliced hard-boiled eggs. Delicious, but no recipe to be found, anywhere.

However, she could not create a meat dish unless it was fried. She fried steak. And nine times out of ten, her cakes came out burned, or dry. Her egg white frostings cracked. Sorry, but it’s true. We ate a lot of crumbled cakes, because nothing was wasted in Grandma’s kitchen.

The meringue for a lemon pie was a way to redeem herself. She made a lovely meringue, and the filling was scrumptious. Not me, I usually pile on the whipped cream. I’ve made meringue in the past, and it turned out pretty good, but I take shortcuts these days. She did, too, as time went on. An invention came along that changed her life. It was called “canned biscuits.” It set her free. From that day forward, we ate canned biscuits at Grandma’s house. It was heartbreaking. Such a sad waste of talent.

So, what recipe shall I share, since Grandma had no recipes? Well, I have a binder filled with all my favorite recipes, and guess what? I’m Grandma! So I’ll share one of mine.

Here’s the scene: You’re going to brother’s house for Thanksgiving, and sister-in-law asks you to bring a dessert. She’s a wonderful cook, and always has a gorgeous array of desserts, so you’re intimidated. This simple little cookie may save the day. They taste a little like a pecan sandie. Make a practice batch a few days ahead, just to get the hang of it. These are a hit, wherever I take them—almost as good as Grandma’s—but not quite.

Click to Tweet: Find out why my Grandma had no recipes. #holidayrecipe #cookies

Butter Pecan Cookies

Ingredients

¾ cup pecans
½ butter, room temperature
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ cup (or less) confectioner’s sugar

Instructions

  1. Spread pecans on a baking sheet and bake in 350-degree oven for 5-6 minutes to toast them. Remove and let cool completely. When cool, chop finely and set aside.
  2. Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add vanilla extract and beat again. Slowly add flour and salt until completely combined.
  3. Mix in pecans.
  4. Use a medium cookie scoop to spoon out cookie dough (a regular spoon works fine). Roll dough into a ball. Roll the top of the ball in reserved sugar. Place sugar side up on an ungreased cookie sheet (I line them with parchment paper). Use a small glass to gently flatten cookies.
  5. Bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 12-14 minutes, just until edges start to brown. Remove from oven and let cookies cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes before removing to racks to cool completely.
  6. After removing to racks, sprinkle with confectioner’s sugar.

Makes about 30 cookies.

Save

Save

For Such a Time as This: Write to Inspire

by Tracy Ruckman

When Betty invited me to write a post for this month, I was going through yet another challenging time in our lives, and I originally wrote a post that was pure pity party. I even had the gall to send it to Betty, and she graciously scheduled it.

But that night, the Lord convicted me. My own challenges pale in comparison (more like they’re invisible in comparison) to the world’s current challenges. Most of the people I know can only bear to watch or listen to the news in short spells – every moment seems to be fraught with horrific details of disasters, evil acts, hate-filled opinions. The images burn into our brains, and the fear and doubt mounts.

So I decided to rewrite this post, and Betty has allowed me to get rid of the pity party and offer these words of encouragement instead.

The last 20 years have been filled with so many changes, so much horror and destruction. What do we do with all this news? What do we do as we watch friends suffer through floods and fires or become victims to the latest maniac bombing or shooting spree? What do we do as we watch politicians play war games with our countries like we’re all pawns in a child’s board game? What do we do when loved ones go through one health crisis after another? Or when our child suffers from mental illness?

Many of us pray and give, and somehow manage to get through each day, yet we long to do something more.

I’m going to assume that most of you reading this blog are writers, so my following comments are directed specifically to the writers, but even if you’re not one, I hope my comments will encourage and inspire you just the same.

Writers – we have a task in the midst of all this turmoil and tragedy! We are WRITERS. We must record these events, write about them.

No, we’re not all reporters, and we’re not all on the front lines. But we can still write from our own perspective.

I’m not saying we all need to start shouting our opinions to the world. There’s too much of that going on now, and I honestly feel like that aspect leads to our overwhelmed feelings at times.

The kind of writing I’m talking about now is this: our words, our stories, our experiences MATTER, because we can be a light in the darkness. We can offer hope and encouragement, we can offer sympathy and comfort, right when the world needs it most. Our words, our attitudes, our actions, our beliefs can point people to Jesus when they’re desperately seeking a lifeline.

Even if you don’t have a blog or Facebook page, you can still use your writing. Keep a journal. It will not only help you process everything, it could serve as an encouragement or inspiration to the next generation of your family (or as a good reminder for you later in life.)

Send letters, or even short notes, to friends, loved ones, even the local news editor or a politician. Offer words of encouragement, or special insights the Lord has given you about these times.

If you do have a blog, website, or Facebook page, could you use them in some way to offer hope or encouragement specifically for these trying times? What have you experienced that has strengthened your faith? Was there some event in your life that brought you to Jesus? Think on those things and figure out a way to convey your story to the world.

Don’t worry about the audience for your writing. Let God handle that. Just pray, then write the story God lays on your heart. He’ll put your words in front of the person who needs them most, and you may never know it.

If you have a blog, website, and Facebook page, and are already using them for this purpose, is it time for you to write a book? Or the next book? Your story matters. Your words matter.

We’re right here, right now, for a reason. For such a time as this. Ask the Lord to use you for His purposes, and you’ll be amazed at how He will change your perspective. You’ll still be burdened for the world, but from His viewpoint, not your own.

Here’s a great song to remind us:

Click to Tweet: Writers have a task in the midst of turmoil and tragedy. #Write to #Inspire.


Tracy Ruckman owns TMP Books, a subsidy press, and is currently accepting new clients. TMP publishes fiction and nonfiction, and children’s books.

 

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save

Save