Sunday, December 11, 2016

12 Books of Christmas: Two Collaborations

Not only will one of our readers (US residents only) receive 10 paperback books of some of the best of Write Integrity Press, but we'll be giving away our two Christmas e-books as well!


THE CHRISTMAS TREE TREASURE HUNT, a novella that was team-written by nine of our authors, is an Amazon best-seller that catapulted all of the authors onto the top 100 list for eight days.

Here's the Amazon short version:

Grace takes delivery of a package and her life is turned upside down by nine sealed mystery envelopes from her late grandmother. Grammie’s instructions require Grace to take the journey of her lifetime, not only to far off places, but also into the deepest parts of her heart. As she follows the trail laid out for her and uncovers her family’s darkest secrets, Grace is forced to confront the loss and betrayal that has scarred her past and seek the greatest Christmas Treasure of all.

A RUBY CHRISTMAS was a follow-up collaboration put together by another nine authors. This book is extra special this year because it will be permanently retired in January. Get it while you have the chance!

Here's the Amazon short version:

Ruby Joy Buckner, cowgirl, has never left the Lone Star State, but at her father’s request, she takes her faithful canine companion and travels the world in search of Nativity pieces. As Ruby collects the pieces, she also collects a few unexpected surprises, including an awareness of the beauty in other cultures, and quite a menagerie of new friends, thanks in part to Yippee Ti Yi Yo who charms everyone they meet.

Ruby’s budding awareness of life outside Texas opens her eyes to a world of whimsy, and the Nativity pieces she collects are unusual. Will her father approve her eclectic collection … and the changes that travel brought to Ruby’s world?

12 Days of Christmas:

You can win an e-copy of both of these books along with the 10 print books (US residents only) by commenting below and leaving your email address for us to add to our monthly newsletter list. (Unsubscribe anytime.) And while you're commenting, tell us what you look forward to most at Christmas.

Oh and one more thing! When the winner is picked on Tuesday, December 13, if you didn't win, don't worry! You've got a special coming your way - All of the books we are giving away (that are currently available) will be only 99¢. It's our Turquoise Tuesday special! But be ready for the special because all the books will only be at 99¢ for only the one day!


Saturday, December 10, 2016

12 Books of Christmas: CHRISTMAS MEMORIES by Fay Lamb


My children were very young when my husband and I bought our first house in our hometown. The Christmas Eve before we purchased the home, we drove through the neighborhood known for its Christmas Eve luminaries and the all-out decorations. Our boys had many friends who lived there, and as we drove through the streets and marveled at the ingenuity of the lighted spectacles, we spoke aloud our dreams of someday living there.

Our miracle on Ayshire Drive happened in June of the next year and not on Christmas Day.  My aunt, our realtor, showed us a nice little house sitting on the street facing a cul-de-sac. We toured the place. I fell in love with it, and my heart sank. The homes were just too far out of our reach. That’s when my aunt smiled and announced that the home was an assumable mortgage without qualification … and the seller was motivated.

My husband surprised me by placing an offer on the home, and the next Christmas Eve and for seventeen Christmas Eves thereafter, we lived on Ayshire Drive; we purchased our luminaries from the homeowners’ association in October; we went to the sand pile on Christmas Eve morning (read: sneaked onto a sandpit of the neighborhood golf course where folks would be hidden, their heads bopping up to look around to make sure the groundskeeper wasn’t scurrying toward us in his cart to chase us away), and we sifted sand into bag after bag for luminaries that would line our driveway and front yards. Neighbors would get an extra set of bags and candles to help out neighbors who planned to travel for the holidays.

On Christmas Eve, our family would sit outside, sometimes bundled heavily against the sixty-degree weather freezing our thin skins, sometimes in shorts and still sweating (this is Central Florida after all), and waving and calling out “Merry Christmas” while cars drove slowly by with their lights out and Christmas music blaring.

Later, when the traffic slowed, my husband and I would walk arm in arm through the neighborhood, the memories of each Christmas Eve stoking the warming fire that blazed in my heart. We live in a different neighborhood now, but not a Christmas Eve goes by that I struggle with the urge to drive to the north end of town from where we now live. Even now, tears fill my eyes because I miss that place as if it were an old friend I’d moved away from so long ago.  Yet, I know that God blessed our family with those many Christmases together. Time moves on and the memories of my boy’s laughter during the season only grow sweeter with each passing Christmas.

About the Author:

Fay Lamb is an editor, writing coach, and author, whose emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. For more information about Fay and her books, check out her author page on the Write Integrity Press website.

Before you go, you have to read through Fay's Three-Layer Brownie recipe. This dessert sounds decadent. Drool away!

Recipe: Three Layer Brownies:

First Layer Ingredients:
For First Layer (Brownies):
2 cups sugar
1  ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup baking cocoa
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract

First Layer Instructions:
In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients; add oil, eggs, and vanilla; beat at medium speed for three minutes; Pour into a greased 13”x9”x2” baking pan. Bake at 350 degrees for thirty minutes or until brownies are done. Cool completely (very important).

Second Layer Ingredients:
½ cup butter, softened
½ cup packed brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour

Second Layer Instructions:
Cream butter and sugars in a bowl; add milk and vanilla; mix well. Slowly beat in flour. Spread over COOLED brownies.

Third Layer Ingredients:
1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
1 tablespoon shortening
¾ cup walnuts (for what I consider a fourth layer and highly optional)

Melt chocolate chips and shortening either in microwave or on low on stovetop (preferably stovetop); stir until smooth; spread over second layer.
Optional: sprinkle nuts over glaze immediately.

Also very important: Let the glaze set before serving.

12 Books of Christmas: 

You can win a copy of the first book of Fay's Amazing Grace Suspense series, STALKING WILLOW, along with 11 other books (US residents only) by commenting below and leaving your email address for us to add to our monthly newsletter list. (Unsubscribe anytime.) Here's a question you can answer: Family is so special at Christmas. What is one of your favorite family traditions?

Friday, December 9, 2016

12 Books of Christmas: THE MOST SPECTACULAR TREE by Shirley Crowder

Each Christmas as I unwrap the ornaments and decorations, years of memories flood my mind. I remember countless family and friends with whom I have shared Christmas—in Nigeria, West Africa, and in the States.

When it is time to decorate, I lay out all the ornaments in color groups so I can see each one. Next I put the lights on the tree (even though the tree I have now is pre-lit, I add a bunch of colored lights).

Then I begin the several night process of putting the ornaments on the tree in the way that my big brother Tim taught me. Admittedly there are times since his death that I have fussed at him as I decorated my tree. The reason I fuss is because it wasn’t enough for Tim that I have a few lights and a few ornaments on my tree, HIS little sister had to have the most spectacular tree of all!

So, a tree must be decorated so that from whatever angle or height you look you see ornaments. Seeing all the way through to the trunk is a huge no-no! As you can imagine it takes a lot of ornaments of all kinds: fancy, handmade, expensive, cheap, old, new, pretty, not so pretty, big, little—you name it!! A tree just looks skimpy if I don’t decorate it the way big brother taught me!

After putting the last (well, maybe the last) ornament on the tree, I sit down and soak up the beauty of the lights and the ornaments while one of my favorite Christmas music boxes plays “Joy to the World.”

I reflect upon my life, God’s grace and mercy to me, and how the Lord has blessed me throughout the years. I think of the tree as representing my life. The white lights represent The Light of the World (Jesus) Who came to this earth to redeem me. The colored lights represent all the experiences that have given depth and meaning to my life, some bright and cheerful, others darker and more somber. The ornaments represent the many different family and friends who have added color and dimension to my life through shared worship, laughter, fun, sorrow, encouragement and comfort.

I thank the Lord for the rich blessings of family and friends!! And I am thankful for my family and friends, and for the wonderful ways each one has enriched my life!!

About the Author:

Born in a mission guest house under the shade of a mango tree in Nigeria, West Africa, where her parents served as missionaries, Shirley is passionate about disciple-making, which is conducted in and through myriad ministry opportunities. She is a biblical counselor and co-host of "Think on These Things" a Birmingham, Alabama, radio/TV program for women. Shirley is commissioned by and serves on the national Advisory Team for, The Addiction Connection. You can learn more about Shirley at her author page on our Write Integrity website

And before you go, enjoy Shirley's favorite recipe for an easy version of fudge!

Recipe for Jeannie’s Microwave Fudge:

3 cups of Chocolate chips
1 can (14oz) of Eagle Brand Condensed Milk
4 TBS butter (at room temperature)
1 TSP vanilla extract
¼ TSP salt
8x8 pan, line with aluminum foil, spray foil with Pam.


Put chocolate chips, condensed milk and butter in microwave safe bowl. Heat for 1 minute (note: if butter is very cold you may need to cook an additional 30 seconds. DO NOT OVERCOOK.) Mix all ingredients until well blended. Add vanilla & salt. Continue stirring until thoroughly mixed. Pour into pan and refrigerate uncovered for at least 2 hours. Cut into squares or triangles.


Best served room temperature.

12 Books of Christmas: 

Shirley's written a companion Bible study guide for our yesterday's book, PRAYER: IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU by Harriet Michael. Available in early January, you can win your own copy of both books, along with 10 other books (US residents only) by commenting below and leaving your email address for us to add to our monthly newsletter list. (Unsubscribe anytime.) Here's a question you can answer: Do you have ornaments that, even though they aren't the best or nicest, you just can't release?

Thursday, December 8, 2016

12 Books of Christmas: A CURRY CHRISTMAS by Harriet E. Michael

Christmases of my childhood felt more summertime, or maybe spring, actually. The days were hot but the nights and early mornings could sometimes be chilly enough for sweaters. I was reared in West Africa and Christmas there falls right in the middle of the dry season, in a special part of it called, Harmattan, when the dusty winds from the Sahara Desert blow south. The world around me was dry and dusty. My missionary father always said he liked that Christmas came in the middle of Harmattan, because in some ways it felt fitting to him.

The Christmases of his childhood were spent in America where the world around him was stark and cold. Against these two backdrops—one stark and cold, the other dry and dusty, Christians celebrate the birth of their Savior with brightly lit trees, colored packages, singing, and rejoicing.

One of my family’s favorite holiday traditions was enjoying a meal of curried chicken. This tradition started in Africa where beef was scarce but chicken abundant. It was such a strong tradition among the missionaries that to this day many of my missionary kid peers still serve it at our Christmas or Thanksgiving family get-togethers.

About the Author:

Born in Nigeria, West Africa, as the daughter of missionaries, Harriet E. Michael is a writer, gardener, wife of over 35 years, mother of four, and grandmother of one.
She holds a BS in nursing from West Virginia University but has discovered her passion for writing. Since her first published article in 2010, she now has over a hundred and fifty published articles and devotions.

You can learn more about Harriet on her author page at the Write Integrity Press website: www.WriteIntegrity.com

Curry Recipe: 
(for 6 people)

Boil 3-4 chicken breasts in 8 cups of water along with 1-2 tsp curry powder, ½ tsp thyme, ¼ cup dried onions (onion flakes), and salt & pepper to taste.

Boil until chicken is very tender. Take chicken out and either cut it into bit size pieces or shred it. (Do not discard the water!)

Put chicken pieces back in the pot. Add a flour/cold water mixture that has been thoroughly whisked together. (This is to thicken the water. I got the recipe from my mother and she did not give specific amounts for this water/ flour mixture.)

Bring back to a boil and add 2 chicken bouillon cubes. May need to add water to keep the soupy sauce to about 8 cups.

Serve over rice with additional foods on top including: chopped fresh onion, chopped celery, chopped tomatoes, chopped up hard-boiled eggs, peanuts, friend okra, chopped oranges, grapefruit, fresh pineapple, and coconut.

We place all these other food options in small dishes and people can choose what they like for on top of their curry and rice. Though it may seem hard to believe, the combined tastes of these various foods is amazing!

12 Books of Christmas:

You can win a copy of Harriet's Bible Study, PRAYER: IT'S NOT ABOUT YOU, as part of our 12 Books of Christmas contest. Leave a comment below with your email address (US residents only). Your email address will also be added to our monthly newsletter list. (Unsubscribe anytime.) While you're commenting, share a memory of a unique food that graces your Christmas dinner.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

12 Books of Christmas: CHRISTMAS MEMORIES by Elizabeth Noyes

Elizabeth Noyes writes suspense
and romance in her Cameron series.
Learn more about her at her author
page on the Write Integrity Press site.
Christmas has always been a special time for me.  As a child, my Daddy would read the Christmas Story from the Bible to us on the night before Christmas. He had a strong voice that grew deeper as he read. It filled with reverence as he made the story come to life for us. My sister, brother, and I would crowd around him, spellbound. It didn’t matter that we heard it year after year.

Afterward, Mama would make ‘real’ hot cocoa with marshmallows, and then we’d gather around the tree to open all the wrapped presents we gave each other.  That’s because Santa left his presents on Christmas morning. He didn’t wrap them, either because he had to visit every child in the world and wrapping paper took too long.

Despite my suspicions and lots of heckling from my brother, sister, and friends, I held onto the myth of Santa long beyond the normal age. My parents, bless their hearts, never once let on that he wasn’t real. They let me come to that conclusion on my own. It was a slow process for me. There was no conscious one day it’s fantasy and then the light bulb came on. No abrupt understanding, only a sad acceptance and a loss of wonderment.


Fast forward to my young adult years and I met the love of my life. Some might think it serendipity, happenstance, or chance. Others might call it fate, but as I look back I know it was God working in our lives. All the twists and turns that led to our unexpected meeting went way beyond possibility, one of those ‘you can’t make this stuff up’ kind of circumstances.

We got married, roamed the world, had kids, and started our own traditions. We collected ornaments and decorations from all the places we visited, and kept every tiny decoration our kids made when they were little. And every year, our tree grows more meaningful. There’s a Rudolph peanut with googly eyes from our little girl in first grade, a hand-painted ornament a Korean artist made for us, a clothespin nutcracker soldier our son made in third grade, a brötchen (hard roll) that a German friend decorated and varnished (40+ years we still have it!) … and the list goes on.

We still travel and collect ornaments, and now we save those treasures our grandchildren make. You see, ours is not just a Christmas Tree – it’s a Memory Tree.

About the Author:

Elizabeth Noyes—professional writer, aspiring author, dedicated dreamer—lives in the suburbs of Atlanta with her husband and best friend, Paul, who listens tirelessly while she regales him with all the tales in her head of damaged, but very human characters clamoring to be heard.

You can learn more about Elizabeth and all of her books at her author page on the Write Integrity Press website: www.WriteIntegrity.com

Mama’s Old Fashioned Homemade Hot Cocoa:
(with marshmallows!)
Ingredients

¼ c. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
½ c. Granulated Sugar
½ c. Hot Water
¼ t. Salt
3 c. Whole Milk
1 c. Heavy Cream
1 t. Vanilla Extract
Marshmallows (we like the big ones!)

Instructions
1. Mix milk and cream together and set aside.
2. Combine the cocoa, sugar, water, and salt in a medium saucepan. Over medium heat, stir constantly until the mixture comes to a boil, and heat/stir for 1 minute.
3. Reduce heat and add the milk and cream mixture slowly, still stirring constantly. Heat, but do not boil.
4. Remove from the heat and add vanilla. Stir well. 
5. Serve immediately, topped with marshmallows.




12 Books of Christmas: 

You can win a copy of the first book of Elizabeth's Cameron series, IMPERFECT WINGS, as part of our 12 Books of Christmas contest. Leave a comment below with your email address (US residents only). Your email address will also be added to our monthly newsletter list. (Unsubscribe anytime.) While you're commenting, share a memory of a handmade decoration!


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Special News Bulletin!

We interrupt this program for a special alert ... We realize that readers are poised for another Christmas memory article from one of our outstanding authors. They will resume tomorrow, although any comments left today will also go toward entry for our contest! So leave some love!

Today is the release day of

6 DATES TO DISASTER

Cynthia Toney's first two books of the Bird Face series have earned high praise such as:


… most emotionally moving … it's never easy to see someone you love lose their grip on life. Cynthia Toney does a lovely job handling this difficult topic [in 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status].”
 ~A.J. Cattapan, author of Angelhood and Seven Riddles to Nowhere

Cynthia T. Toney’s Bird Face series captures the young teenage years well. Toney weaves serious issues in with humor, mystery, and interesting storylines, making these books hard to put down. The challenges and surprises faced by the characters, especially Wendy Robichaud, help them grow and also bring to light issues relevant to today’s teens.
~Theresa Linden, author of Battle for His Soul, Life-Changing Love, and Roland West, Loner.


Book Three follows right along with the first two, giving insight into a teens life with both poignancy and humor. 

Here is the Amazon link.

Enjoy the first scene: 

People will hide just about anything inside a jewelry box—especially a secret.
As a kid, I tried saving a hard-boiled Easter egg in mine. But during a warm Louisiana spring, it doesn’t take long for that secret to get out.
Two hours on a Saturday afternoon at the biggest flea market in the parish, and I hadn’t found a single jewelry box.
My stepsister, Alice, and I hoofed from table to table, covering territory as quickly as possible. Wearing shorts … in February.
If it hadn’t been for the merchants’ canopies, we would’ve sunburned. A little more air between my body and the one standing next to me would’ve been nice, but the place was too crowded with shoppers.
“How adorable!” A lady at the next booth squealed over a wooden Easter bunny yard ornament that could be personalized with her child’s name.
I crossed my eyes. Even as a six-year-old, I wouldn’t have wanted anything in front of my house to read “Wendy.”
Enough distractions. Back to the day’s goal. Finding a jewelry box for Mom among thousands of items scattered across a hundred folding tables might be harder than I thought.
“There’s too much junk in this flea market.” I rolled my shoulders and sighed.
The booth owner stared daggers at me.
“Haven’t you spent enough time looking? Why don’t you just buy her a new one?” Alice flicked perspiration from above her lip with a fingertip. Her strawberry-blonde hair had begun to frizz, and she lifted it off her neck, fanning it behind her.
I shook my head, ponytail slapping my jaw. “Anyone can go to a store and do that. It’ll mean more to Mom if the jewelry box has history—or at least some character. I know the right one is here somewhere.”
Alice shrugged. “You should know. She’s been your mom longer than she’s been mine.” She picked up a dingy-white crocheted vest and held it against her front.
Mom and Papa D—short for Daniel—had been married almost six months. In the four months between the end of eighth grade and my first semester at LeMoyne High School, Alice had gone from being a classmate I hardly knew to being both my running buddy and my sister. We suffered through our share of quarrels, but living with each other had become easier since Christmas. And it was nice having a sister to go with me on errands. If only she would focus.
Alice sniffed the vest under the armholes. She slid her hands through the openings and shrugged the vest onto her shoulders.
My gaze traveled two booths down toward a collection of antique-looking tabletop accessories. “I’ll be over there.” I pointed.
“I’m coming.” Alice slipped out of the garment and followed me.
Rusted and tarnished items cluttered the table. A pair of wrought-iron candlesticks towered above the rest of the display.
I gasped. Beneath the candlesticks sat a large mahogany box almost the same color as our hair—Mom’s and mine.
Hands shaking, I moved the candlesticks aside and lifted the box. It contained three drawers with brass pulls. The sides and hinged top showed only a few scratches. I set the box back down and opened one of the drawers.
“See?” I whispered as though in the presence of a holy relic. “This is what I’m talking about.” I glanced at Alice to make sure she was paying attention. “Made of solid wood with red velvet inside. You can even see impressions in the velvet where bangle bracelets were stored. This is all real.”
Alice rolled her blue eyes but grinned.
“It’s the right size, too—much bigger than her old one. It should hold all her jewelry and Grand-mère Robichaud’s antique pieces. She won’t need those cardboard boxes anymore. She’ll love it.”
“Then let’s get it.” Alice reached inside her pocket for some money, which she’d never lacked since I’d known her. As part of the Rend family, Mom and I were still getting used to having extra money for luxury items.
Alice and I split the cost fifty-fifty, and I bagged the box. I’d never spent that much on a gift before, but Mom was worth it.
Alice phoned Papa D that we’d meet him and my little stepbrother, Adam, at the car. They’d found gifts for Mom, too.
This was going to be her best birthday ever.

12 Books of Christmas: 

The first book in Cynthia's Bird Face series, 8 NOTES TO A NOBODY, is part of our 12 Books of Christmas contest. Leave a comment below with your email address (US residents only). Your email address will also be added to our monthly newsletter list. (Unsubscribe anytime.) While you're commenting, share your favorite book from your high school years.

Monday, December 5, 2016

12 Books of Christmas: REVISING CHRISTMAS EXPECTATIONS by Marie Wells Coutu

Marie Wells Coutu's Mended Vessels series
brings biblical stories into a contemporary
setting. Look for her newest, A SECRET HEART,
coming in February, and learn more about
Marie at her author page at WriteIntegrity.com
Christmas traditions when you’re growing up aren’t always what you end up with as a grown-up. And your own traditions change as your own children grow up and move out.

In our early marriage, some years we spent the Christmas holiday with one or the other family, but most years, we didn’t have enough time off from work to travel, so we developed our own tradition. We would read the Christmas story, open presents, have a small dinner, and read or play card games the rest of the day (we didn’t even own a television back then).

When we had children, of course, that changed somewhat. Opening gifts became a bigger deal, and playing with them and their new toys consumed more of the day. In the days leading up to Christmas, we spent a lot of time decorating the house—inside and out. My husband often played Santa Claus for various events. And every few years, we managed a trip to the grandparents for the holiday—which changed everything. More people, more food, more gifts, and more celebration.

Now our traditions have changed once again. A few years ago, with both children married and living a thousand miles away, getting together became more challenging. My son’s job kept him extremely busy during Christmas, and we began a custom of getting together at Thanksgiving and exchanging Christmas presents early. We still had a large tree, but when the kids weren’t coming to our house, the decorations became simpler.

Circumstances have changed again. We live only about four hours from each of our kids, but we have no desire to stay in snowy Iowa or Minnesota until the end of December. So even though job situations are different now, we continue our celebration at Thanksgiving, then my husband and I make like snowbirds and head south.

Again, our actual Christmas Day is observed with just the two of us. Because we celebrate in two different locations, we’ve become minimalist in our approach to decorating for Christmas. We attend the Christmas Eve service at our church, and go to a potluck dinner with other snowbirds. We’ve heard of some families who take a tiny tree to the beach to open their presents. But we’ll probably continue to spend Christmas morning with just the two of us, reading the Christmas story, opening a couple of presents that we’ve saved for that day, and feeling blessed to celebrate the birth of our Savior.

Because, no matter what the tradition or what the day’s activities, we don’t want to forget the reason we celebrate.

About the Author:

Marie Wells Coutu claims she has been writing all her life. Through story, she hopes to inspire women to find God's purpose for their lives regardless of where they've been or what they've done.

A writer and editor for newspapers, magazines, nonfiction books, and government agencies, she has edited devotionals and other books published by the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Learn more about Marie and all of her books at her author page on the Write Integrity Press website: www.WriteIntegrity.com.

White Fruit Cake:
(makes 2 small loaf cakes)

Lots of people joke about fruit cake at Christmas, but this recipe is soft and tasty. My mother always made several to give away and my husband loves it.
FOR SUCH A MOMENT is the first
book in Marie's Mended Vessels series
and is available in print and e-book at
Amazon.

2 sticks butter or margarine
1 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 oz. lemon extract
2 c. flour
¼ t. salt
½ t. baking powder
½ lb. candied cherries
½ lb. candied pineapple
½ lb. pecans

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Chop up fruit. Cream butter and sugar well in separate bowl. Add eggs one at a time to butter and sugar. Beat well after adding each egg. Add other ingredients in order given. Pour into two greased and floured loaf pans. Bake very slowly at about 250 degrees for 2 hours or more, until toothpick in center comes out clean.

12 Books of Christmas: 

You can win a copy of Marie's book, FOR SUCH A MOMENT, as part of our 12 Books of Christmas contest. Leave a comment below with your email address (US residents only). Your email address will also be added to our monthly newsletter list. (Unsubscribe anytime.) While you're commenting, share your favorite holiday drink. Is it cocoa, wassail, eggnog, something else?