Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wonderful Christmas Idea and ... a $200 Giveaway!


(Leafwood Publishers, October 2008)

A wonderful new gift book, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, is available in October for Christmas giving. Today, I’ve invited the six coauthors to share their unique story of how they came together to publish this exciting book full of stories, recipes, tips for simplifying the holidays and so much more (click on bookcover to see the trailer!).

First, let me introduce Cathy Messecar, Leslie Wilson, Brenda Nixon, Trish Berg, Terra Hangen and Karen Robbins. Thank you for being here today, ladies.

Karen: Thank you for the invitation.

You are from three different areas of the country—Texas, California, and Ohio. How did you all meet?

Terra: We all six joined The Writers View, an online group for professional Christian writers. Trish and Brenda met in person in 2004 for lunch, I understand, and on 9/18/04, after reading a post Brenda sent to TWV, I sent an email to Brenda, asking if she would like to join with me and walk alongside each other, as a Barnabas group. Brenda said yes that same day, and suggested Trish too. Very quickly Cathy, Leslie and Karen joined in and our stalwart band of six was formed. Living in California, I was so happy to find 5 Barnabas writers in other states so we could bring together a wealth of different viewpoints and expertise

Brenda: Actually, We haven’t met. We’re all great colleagues and friends via the internet. Four years ago Terra and I formed a dyad to support each other as Christians who write in the secular markets. Along came Trish, Cathy, Karen, and Leslie (not necessarily in that order) and we formed a close knit bond of support, creative energy, and professional accountability.

Karen: I met Trish through an online forum called The Writers View and she invited me to join the group.

Trish: Although we belong to the same Yahoo writing group, we met one by one online. Eventually, the six of us decided that since we all write as Christians for a secular market through magazine articles and newspaper columns, we could support and encourage one another.

Leslie: Though we met virtually through The Writers View, I have been blessed to give and get hugs from Trish (at a MOPS conference), Cathy (in the area on business) and Karen (in town for a writers' conference). I can’t wait to meet Terra and Brenda face-to-face, though I feel as though I already know them!

How did you come up with the idea to do a book together?

Brenda: The book is Cathy’s brainchild. She mentioned the concept of telling stories of events that happened for the first time at Christmas and sharing holiday historical tidbits and recipes and each said, “If you need any help, let me know.” That offer morphed into each of us equally contributing and co-authoring A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts.

Trish: Yep, Cathy came up with the idea and the title, and asked us if we wanted to join her on this project. Of course, we said Yes!

Terra: Cathy mentioned the idea for a Christmas book to the group, and someone (I think it was Leslie) suggested that maybe our group could all write the book together. Cathy agreed to lead the way on the project. The earliest email I have on this is from 9/7/05, which shows that this has been a three year collaboration from idea to publication.

Karen: (Chuckling) Terra is a librarian and keeps our historical records by saving our e-mails.

Leslie: Actually, Terra, I wrote that comment (in a group e-mail) kind of tongue-in-cheek. Cathy, the ultra-sweet person she is, took my joking at face value and here we are. However, I believe God prompted the passion and ideas we all bring to the project and that He will do mighty things as a result of our collaboration!

Why did you decide on a Christmas theme?

Brenda: It was Cathy’s concept to write a book centering on Christmas.

Cathy: For several years, I’d been thinking about Christmas as a threshold to introduce Jesus to folks who aren’t familiar with him, and I love a simpler Christmas with the emphasis on family, friends and doing for others. I knew of some families who had experienced “firsts” at Christmas—reunions, losses, special surprises—and I wanted to collect those stories.

Terra: Cathy’s idea immediately resonated with me because Christmas books are “a way past watchful dragons,” as C. S. Lewis wrote. Many people won’t buy a book about being a Christian, but will buy a holiday and family fun book, thus the “past watchful dragons.” People who want to grow in their faith, and people who have no faith but celebrate Christmas will buy our book and hopefully be led to put the focus back on Christ for the holiday, and for their lives.

Leslie: Though Cathy birthed the idea, the rest of us quickly hopped on board. Not only is Christmas special to me—especially now that I have a family of my own—but also that particular holiday cries out to be simplified, to return to the meaningful aspects of celebration, and to lose some of the hype and commercialism.

Tell me a little about what is in A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts? What is your favorite part?

Cathy: I like that you can read one chapter in about 15 minutes and, with all the different suggestions, it feels like Christmas Eve. Makes you want to set up the nativity! Many of the suggestions for family activities can be adapted for any family get-together.

Karen: There are heartwarming stories about things that happened for the first time at Christmas. For instance, one of my stories is about the first Christmas with our adopted children. And the book is pretty. When I first saw the colorful pages and drawings, I fell in love with the illustrator’s work.

Brenda: I don’t have a favorite part – I love it all!

Terra: I like the way the parts are woven into a seamless whole, like a patchwork quilt, that is stronger and more beautiful than the parts.

Trish: It’s like everything you ever wanted to know about Christmas, all the best tips and recipes, and neat stories all wrapped up in this perfect little package.

Leslie: I love reading the special stories, hints, recipes—whatever—and imagining the precious family time that precipitated each moment. Plus, the book is gorgeous, beautifully printed, truly something to be proud of. And we are.

I’ve heard that the book is really a nice gift book; can you tell me a little about the format?

Cathy: Yes, it’s a hardbound book, full color interior. The layout makes it easy to read. It has a definite scrapbooky look on the interior. Different logos identify sections, such as an oilcloth-look Christmas stocking appears beside the “Stocking Stuffer Tradition” (help for connecting family members), and the “Cookie Canister” recipes are on a recipe card, and the back ground of “A Gift For You” is a gift box with bow. It’s a classy gift that they can be placed on a coffee table or in a guest bedroom during the holiday season.

Brenda: I like to describe it as a Starbuck’s sorta gift book. It’s high quality, crisp, and practical.

With six different personalities and areas of ministry, how did you manage to put this all together and still remain friends?

Karen: We pray a lot for each other and it helps that none of us have an over-inflated ego.

Cathy: There were no squabbles. Surely, we had differing opinions, but we knew that any of us could suggest an idea for this book and that each idea would get fair reviews from others. We actually voted on some aspects—everyone in favor say, “Aye.” If you’ve ever watched women at a Dutch treat luncheon when they divide up a meal ticket, it can be intense as they split the ticket down to the penny. As the project came together, I was in awe of my gracious coauthors, unselfish women who respect each other.
For some decisions, we did a round robin—things like book title and chapter titles and what categories to put into the book. Then, as compiler, I’d send out a list of needs to The Word Quilters, that’s what we call ourselves. For instance in a section we call “Peppermints for Little Ones” (hints for children’s activities), I’d put out a call, and the WQs sent in their hints, and then I put them into appropriate chapters.

Brenda: (Smiling) Are we still friends? Seriously, we each have our own platform, ministry, and family life, and those interests kept this project in perspective – it was important but not the only thing on our plates. No one was so enmeshed in this project that she campaigned for her own way. We never had a bitter disagreement or insistence to be “right.”

Terra: We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders.We offer support and ideas for our separate writing projects and for personal prayer requests. I love these ladies, and I have only met one of them in person. So far, Karen is the only one who has met each of us, and one day we hope to meet in person, in a circle of friendship and love.

Trish: I think we are all very flexible and forgiving. We do have a variety of personalities here, but God has worked amazing things through our little group.

Leslie: Though I have seven non-fiction projects in various stages of completion, I could not be more thankful that this is the one to reach publication first. I am truly blessed to have worked with these women, learned from them, watched as they’ve poured heart and soul into crafting a product that will impact lives for the Lord.

Where can my readers get a copy of SOCF?

Cathy: The coauthors will all have a supply, plus our publisher, Leafwood Publishers, will have plenty of copies and discounts for buying five or more. Or they can be ordered at most online stores or by your local bookstore.

Karen: And anyone who leaves a comment here can be entered in a drawing for a free book and a gift basket worth $200! For a list of its contents, check our blog, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts. And while you're there, leave another comment and increase your chances of winning!

Tell me more about your blog.

Karen: We started our blog in July and it is accumulating a wealth of information about Christmas. Each of us posts one day a week following the theme for that week. Watch for new recipes, tips, ways to simplify, stories, etc., similar to what is in our book.

Leslie: Ooh, ooh, let me answer this one. I’m probably the newest to blogging among the group, but I LOVE it. I’ve enjoyed posting and receiving comments back from readers. What an amazing adventure having an online voice can be! This blog will focus on a different theme each week—anything from tips to avoid overeating during the holidays to how to give a guest room special touches—and expand on the material in the book. I think readers will get to know the authors’ individual personalities and connect on a more personal level. Plus, they get that many more ideas, information, inspiration (!) at no additional cost.

WQs: As an added bonus for inviting us to your blog, we’d like to pass along this Christmas tidbit to you and your readers:

Enjoy a blessed Christmas this year! And thanks for inviting us to share our book, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, with you.

Let's re-visit that giveaway info: Please leave a comment here, and I (Lid) will draw a random name and send it to the publisher to be entered into a drawing on October 19 for basket worth $200.00. You can also enter again by leaving a comment on the Scrapbook blog (linked above) during the Christmas blog tour. I hope you win!


Pam from alertandorientedx4 said...

What a great concept....I love the idea of gifting it to 'unchurched' friends. Can you give us ISBN # to order?

Linds said...

I love the sound of this book - tell me, will it be available here in the UK before Christmas?

Patrice said...

What a wonderul book, I would like to be entered into the drawing!!

Dena @ Green Acres said...

I would love to be entered in the drawing Linda!

Plus, from what I've read, this book has just made my Christmas shopping a whole lot easier. These would make great gifts.

Smilingsal said...

Thanks for the opportunity to win.

The Bayou Belles and Their Beau said...

Sounds like a great book. Thanks for entering me in your drawing.

BTW, Linda, I thought of you last night when I ordered "The Sound of Music" DVD for my youngest daughter for one of her birthday presents. She is a musical-lover just like you. Thanks for the image of your face over Julie Andrews' face forever burned in my memory.

Cathy Messecar said...

Hi, all, first, let me say thank you to the blog owner for hosting our book blog tour. Your site is lovely and the background color of the blog is so coffee-ey, yum.

Here are a few answers to the comments: Amazon UK, should have the book listed now for pre-orders. They begin shipping next week. We've already sold nearly a third of the first printing, so order early.

Second, someone asked about the ISBN: 978-0891125648 or you can Google it at Amazon, or order from Leafwood or see our Web site for pre-orders.

Thanks for all the lovely comments. We had a great time compiling this book and living out Christmas over six months ago when we shared our ideas and "first" stories. You'll probably recall a first story, too, when you read the book.

And, yes, all blog owners names will be entered into drawing...

Cathy Messecar, co-author A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts ~Stories to Warm Your Heart and Tips to Simplify Your Holiday

Mocha with Linda said...

Sounds like a fun book! Count me in!

Dina said...

Thanks for having this fun tour, I have found so many new blogs. I am so ooking forward to Christmas now. :)

Anonymous said...

Would love to read the book


Anonymous said...

I love the theme, the layout, and these ladies hearts! Thanks for the chance!

Anonymous said...

I love the theme, the layout, and these ladies hearts! Thanks for the chance!

Chatty Kelly said...

Great job on the interview Linda. And good looking book.

By the way, I'm looking forward to Tuesday. Loved the linked up blogs yesterday! So creative.

Jackie @ Our Moments Our Memories said...

This book sounds like it encompasses everything I love about Christmas. I can think of 3 people right off the bat that I'd love to give this to. Thanks, Linda!

Anonymous said...

How cool!? Could I get the ISBN??? I want to see if I can find out more infor on it! Thanks!!!

sara said...

That sounds like a book i would love!

Hey linda, thanks for commenting on my Friday fill-ins...I think you just gave me the idea I needed for my video!!! :)

Cindy-Still His Girl said...

Looks so cute! When you said, "I hope you win," were you talking specifically to me?

Cathy Messecar said...

ISBN: 978-0891125648 , Christina, or check out our Web site to read endorsements:

Best wishes to all who commented...Cathy Messecar, co-author, A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts

Beverlydru said...

This book will not be in anybody's "regifting" closet, of that I am sure!
The book alone would be a rich prize! Count me in. Thanks.

Kelly said...

Hi, please enter my name in the drawing for the book!
Thanks so much!

pam said...

What a wonderful book.
Thanks for the giveaway!

Deven said...

Enter me, please!

Anonymous said...

Lucky me, I just found this blog today! Can't wait to read more...

windycindy said...

Another enjoyable blog tour post! Many thanks, Cindi

Chel - An Abiding Branch said...

I love it when God weaves Himself in and through each other's lives! It is simply amazing!

enter me in perty please!

Nadine said...

I love the story of how the ladies met and worked together on this book. It sounds delightful.

Becky said...

I love looking through books of ideas. I would love to win the gift basket too.

Stonefox (otherwise known as Heidi) said...

Sounds great! Please enter me in the drawing!

Wendi @ Every Day Miracles said...

How neat! Awesome post and wonderful give away. Really - who doesn't LOVE a give away - especailly one this sweet??

Barbara H. said...

Sounds like a great book! I'd love to be entered in the giveaway.

Brenda Nixon said...

Woo hoo - I'm impressed with all your readers and their comments. Thanks again for interviewing us and alerting everyone to the new holiday read, A SCRAPBOOK OF CHRISTMAS FIRSTS.

I wish everyone who comments could win a free book, but alas, that wasn't my decision.

Brenda Nixon, co-author

Joanna said...

Looks good! Sign me up.

Anonymous said...

Awesome, thanks for this! :)

Jerralea said...

It sounds like an awesome book. Please enter me. Thanks!

Barb said...

Please put my name in!!!

Abi said...

I love this tour. this book looks like it is right down my alley. I'd love to be included in your drawing.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Krystyn said...

Thanks for visiting, Linda!

The recipe posted here is one of my favorites! I bring it to all of the holiday parties! Yum!

Sherry said...

I would love to read the book and be entered into the contest. Thanks for the review.

Elizabeth said...

This book looks amazing. I am so ready for the Christmas season this year!

lmerie said...

How Exciting! I love the Christmas season!

Fresh Girl said...

I LOVE scrapbooking, so this sounds great! Thanks for entering my name. :)

Chappyswife said...

Wow, that looks like an amazing and lovely book!

Joanna said...

Hey I gave you a shout out. I met Trish over the weekend at a Heart of Home conference. I saw the book and said hey I saw this on a blog. Made her day!

Trish Berg said...

Joanna-So great to meet you at Hearts at Home! Yes, my dear, you DID MAKE MY DAY!!!

We are so thrilled that you guys are all as excited about A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts as we are.

We can't wait for you all to get your hands on a copy and see for yourselves what an amazing gift book this is.

I may even sing a Christmas carol or two.....just be glad you can't hear it from there since I am NOT a singer.


Anonymous said...

This book sounds great! A must-read and give!!! Thanks for sharing it with all of us.
Carol Bleich in Michigan