Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Planting Seeds with the Greatest Treasure

The trials, tribulations, joys, and triumphs of the past several years have taught me one particular thing - to seek out Scripture about everything. Today, I want to share with you some events that have taken place over the past three months, but first, I want to share a verse I read this very day:

"I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God has been making it grow. 
So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow." 
1 Corinthians 3:6-7 NIV

On September 28 of this year, Joan Campbell pitched an idea to me and to Write Integrity and Pix-N-Pens authors. Her idea was to write a progressive Christmas story together. Seven other authors jumped aboard: Jennifer Fromke, J.A. Marx, Fay Lamb, Sheryl Holmes, Ruth O'Neil, Deanna Klingel, and Debbie Roome and each agreed to write one chapter of what soon became The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt

But, it needed something more, and I haven't earned the title of "idea queen" for nothing. We decided to hold a contest and invite writers and wannabe writers to submit a chapter for possible inclusion in the book. We asked anyone interested to contact us, and then we presented them with two things - a list of general basics about the story (written in 1st person, length required, briefly explained how the project would work, and provided a general character description of our main character, Grace.) We also provided them the original draft of what became Chapter One of the published story. That was it. Nothing more. 

As the contestants got busy writing their chapters, so did the original authors. Julie Marx finished her chapter first, and that became the foundation upon which the other chapters were built. Story and characters were fleshed out a little more as each writer finished her chapter. 

On November 15th, the contest ended for chapter submissions and all entries were submitted, anonymously, to the other authors for judging. 

Marji Laine's chapter was chosen as the winner. One of the judges commented that her chapter seemed to fit with all the others "like a glove." 

Then we went to work assembling the story. Joan and I exchanged several e-mails, putting the chapters in a good order, then we worked to blend the chapters together. Fay and Jennifer pitched in (big time!) with editing, and the resulting first nine chapters were sent to Jennifer, who had the difficult and daunting task of writing the final chapter and tying all the others together.

On December 3, we launched the story in serial format - half a chapter per day on blogs. Each author posted their own chapter, one section at a time, over the next 9 weekdays. On day 10, or December 14, we launched The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt in Kindle format. For four days, we offered it free. 

For the first half of December, marketing took over our lives. Collectively, we sent out thousands of tweets on Twitter, bombarded folks with Facebook updates, wrote blogs posts for the WIP blog, for each others' blogs, offered guest blogs and interviews for others, and kept up the pace for their own blogs, entertained (and are still entertaining) at Magnificent Hope's Christmas party, sent out e-mails to family and friends, sent out postcards and newsletters - digital and print - and shared about the book in public at speaking engagements, book signings, and even church.

I've thanked them privately, but I want to publicly commend all of the authors involved in this project. They worked tirelessly to brainstorm, write, edit, and promote this book. It was truly a team effort and would not have been the HUGE success that it was without each and every contribution. This book was placed into the hands of tens of thousands of people in four short days. It went out all over the US, India, the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan and Brazil.

This book is a seed, and all of those involved in its creation and publication, are seed planters and water girls. Here's why. The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt was meant to share our authors with the world. Our authors have their own unique stories that can and will touch hearts and change lives and the world needs to know about them. The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt was one way to take our "talents" and multiply them, to grow the ministry potential of each author and to grow the efforts of our publishing mission. 

But the book serves as another kind of seed as well, and I know the authors will agree that this seed is the most important. 

At the end of The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt, we shared "The Greatest Treasure" with readers. I'd like to share it here with you now, with the hope you'll catch our vision and our purpose, and continue to help us spread word about The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt

The Greatest Treasure

The authors who collaborated on The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt hope that you have enjoyed our stories. In Grace’s travels, she received the gift of friendship, the gift of knowledge, and the various presents her Grammie left for her along the way. However, the greatest treasure Grace received is a gift that is available to all of us: forgiveness.

You see, the real Christmas story is much more than a tale of a husband and wife traveling to Bethlehem to pay their taxes and so much more than a woman giving birth in a lowly manger. The Christmas story is the truth about God’s greatest gift to mankind: His Son.

John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

That Babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in the manger was the most precious, most valuable present God could give—Himself—a sacrifice to the world for the sins that beset us, for the wrongs that we cannot right ourselves. Christ came, He died, and He rose again, victorious over sin and death—the perfect sacrifice for you and me. Why? Because we are unable to save ourselves.

A gift is only a gift if it comes without price to the receiver. But, oh, what a price our Lord and Savior paid when He came to this earth to save us all from our sins.

In The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt, Grace’s forgiveness of Lauren comes from a heart born of gratefulness. Sometimes, we forget what our Heavenly Father sacrificed for us so that we might know His forgiveness. We hold tight to the anger and bitterness when we are wronged or when we feel we are wronged. In understanding the deep nature of God’s forgiveness, we should also forgive others. In the forgiveness of others, we can truly find peace—just as Grace has done.

Christmas is a season in which we begin to think about new beginnings. How better to begin anew than to begin with forgiveness—that offered to you by God, through the gift of His Son. 

As you study on this—the world’s greatest gift—it is our prayer that you will bow your head in meaningful prayer, and ask God for His forgiveness. Ask Him to fill Your heart with His presence and to reign as Lord in your life.

And if you have done so, we would love to pray for you and rejoice with you. Write to us at editor [at] writeintegrity [dot] com and share your story with us.

It is this story, this seed, that we planted into the hands of tens of thousands of people in just four short days. We prayed, and continue to pray, that this book will touch hearts and change lives, and that this seed will grow and flourish, and produce a great harvest, producing even more seeds of its own.

Won't you join us? The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt will remain on sale at 99 cents through the end of the year. Share it with others, help us spread the word. And pray. Pray for our authors and for their incredible talents to multiply and flourish and that they will each be used mightily to grow God's kingdom.

If you've already snagged a copy of the book and loved it, THANK YOU. We'd also be grateful for a review of the book on Amazon.

For Prime Members, the book is free to borrow.

Now for some fun and updates:

Jennifer Fromke announced the winner of a huge prize basket today on her blog. Drop over and check it out.

She also announced another giveaway that ends Friday. Here are the details.

Visit Magnificent Hope's Christmas Party and sign in as guest. That's your contest registration. We'd love for you to participate in the party - share your Christmas with us. We'll be hanging out there through the end of the month - it's a "come as you are" virtual party going on 24/7!

This prize basket includes:

Print copies of:

A Familiar Shore
Contagious Hope
Grandparenting Through Obstacles
Love Letters from the Heart
Christmas Miracles
Bread Upon the Water
Avery’s Battlefield
Avery’s Crossroads
Just for the Moment: The Remarkable Gift of the the Therapy Dog

A set of beautiful greeting cards by Barbara Parentini

$25 to spend in the Magnificent Hope Store

Gift Certificates for the following books:

Prophecies Fulfilled in the Birth of Jesus (available now)
Parenting on Your Knees (coming January 2013)
Stalking Willow (spring 2013)
Destiny Defied (spring 2013)

Total value: $200.

Come join the fun!!!

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