A Season to Remember

by Carole Brown

It’s such a pleasure and privilege to remember the past–the good times that encourage us we can move one, keep on, be better, endure again, and make it. Here’s a few thoughts that might give you a smile and urge you to remember your past Christmas good times.



  • The children’s faces. Their smiles, eyes and expressions of wonder.



  • The trees–the good and ugly–the Charlie Brown ones and the big city, breath-taking, eye-popping gorgeous ones.


  • The meals–simple soups, luscious deserts and finger foods. The lavishly delicious dinners with people being proper and elegant.


  • The quiet times of devotion, cuddling our children and babies, reading and exchanging of thoughts and ideas.

May you have a special memory to enjoy or share with family and friends.

Guest Author Michelle Levigne – Don’t Forget Your Friends (Book Giveaway)

michelle-levigne-hr-3Michelle Levigne is our guest author today. Michelle is giving away a copy of her novel Undying. Go to the end of this post to find out how to enter this drawing.

Michelle has been a story addict for as long as she can remember, starting with The Cat in the Hat and Weekly Reader Book Club. She discovered Narnia and Star Trek in elementary school, and was a familiar face in the school library, especially when she became addicted to Greek mythology. She fell into fandom in college, and published many short stories and poems in various universes, all while sending out original stories to magazines and publishing houses, eventually receiving rejections that weren’t the standard photocopied photocopy of a form letter.

She has a BA in theater/English from Northwestern College and a MA in communication, focused on film and writing from Regent University. In 1990, her writing career finally broke into the public market when she won 1st place in the 4th quarter of the Writers of the Future contest, which included publication in that year’s winners anthology. Her first published novel Heir of Faxinor came out in 2000. Since then, Michelle has published 70+ books and novellas with multiple small presses, in SF and fantasy, YA, women’s fiction, and romance. She makes her living as a freelance editor and proofreader.

Don’t Forget Your Friends

by Michelle Levigne

I have this huge problem.

The word writer in print letter cases

I wrote Commonwealth SF books for years before I got published. I had a huge backlist. That was good, because when a publisher said, “What else have you got?” I could send something right away.

However … I hopped between eras of Commonwealth history as inspiration struck. Madame publisher says sales will pick up if I start at the beginning and write straight through history. She feels people hesitate to buy books because they want to read in chronological order, and new books keep changing the order.

Problem: Book ideas come while writing, when characters talk about historical events, ancestors, etc. Example: the Sunsinger series (remember this later), 10 YA books about a boy growing up on a small starship. The captain talks about Commonwealth history, how their star-faring civilization rose from the ashes of a previous civilization. This launched stories further back on Commonwealth history.

Problem: Every new book increases the chances that I’ll contradict history, or names, or terminology established in a book I wrote 10 years ago, but which happens 500 years in the future. Does George Lucas feels this way with Star Wars …?

Image of opened magic book with magic lights

Solution: read ALL my published books and take massive, detailed notes. Revisit places, draw maps, family trees, and chronologies. Refresh my memories from when I wrote those books. I need to revisit old friends and remember their adventures. While it would be fun … who has the time? While I’m reading, I’m not writing!

Case in point: Today’s giveaway book, UNDYING, was written in 2011. I have maybe 5 more Age 1 books to write before I get to Age 2, when UNDYING starts. What if I run out of ideas and adventures for Marnya, my heroine, before I get to the 4th book? The title’s set in stone! It has a number.

Problem: Marnya is essentially immortal — hence the title. She has already appeared in Age 3 books. I have to be careful in the new books not to contradict what she has already done later in her life.

There is no pill big enough for this headache — and it’s all my fault.

Moral: Even if you don’t plan on a book becoming  a series, take notes on the people, relationships, places and history AS YOU WRITE THE BOOK. You never know when you’ll write a sequel, or characters will visit from one book to another, or you end up writing a series after all. Plan ahead! It’ll save you a major headache.

Giveaway question: Go to my webite, www.MLevigne.com, and find the YA series and the specific book where Sister Marnya, heroine of UNDYING, makes a guest appearance.


You can find Undying on Amazon.


My 10 Favorite Christmas Carol Movies

Christmas movies and holiday classic cinema and TV flicks with a red clapperboard and a Santa Clause hat white fur trim as an entertainment symbol of the winter film industry cinematic releases on a white background.

by Tamera Lynn Kraft

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is my favorite Christmas novel. Although no movie adaptation has ever done it justice, here are my top 10 favorite Christmas Carol Movies.

10. Mickey’s Christmas Carol

Released 1983 (animated)

Starring Allen Young, Wayne Allwine

In this Mickey Mouse animation, they keep the essence of the story but add a little more when Scrooge is cast into Hell by the 3rd ghost.

9. The Muppet Christmas Carol

Released 1992

Starring Micheal Caine

This isn’t exactly Dickens, but it is a fun retelling using Muppets as the characters.

8. Ms. Scrooge

Released 1997

Starring Cicely Tyson

Cicely Tyson make a great female Scrooge in this twist on the old story.

7. 12 Days of Christmas Eve

Released 2004

Starring Steven Weber and Molly Shannon

This adaption is sort of A Christmas Carol meet Groundhog Day. It’s a funny retelling that works.

6. Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol

Released 1962 (animated)

Starring Mr. Magoo

What’s not to like about Magoo as Scrooge. This is one of my favorites.

5. A Christmas Carol

Released 1951

Starring Alistar Sims

The is the best old classic movie of the story.

4. An American Christmas Carol

Released 1979

Starring Henry Winkler

Winkler plays Scrooge in a very un-Fonzy way and is believable in the part. This Christmas Carol set in the Depression era is one of the best in changing the setting yet keeping the essence of the story.

3. Disney’s A Christmas Carol 3D

Released 2009

Starring Jim Carey

This animated retelling of A Christmas Carol is one of my favorite. Jim Carey does a great job of showing a repentant Scrooge.

2. A Christmas Carol

Released 1984

Starring George C. Scott

George C. Scott’s portrayal of Edenezer Scrooge is the best. He is a perfect Scrooge both before and after the transformation.

1. A Christmas Carol

Released 1999

Starring Patrick Stewart

This is the adaptation that is closet to the actual story. There are few differences. That is the reason this is my favorite. Patrick Stewart also does an excellent job as Scrooge. Only George C. Scott did a better job.

A Moravian Christmas in 1773

achristmaspromise_medA Christmas Promise

By Tamera Lynn Kraft

A Moravian Holiday Story, Circa 1773

During colonial times, John and Anna settle in an Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away to help at another settlement two days before Christmas, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day.

When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.

Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.

“Revel in the spirit of a Colonial Christmas with this achingly tender love story that will warm both your heart and your faith. With rich historical detail and characters who live and breathe on the page, Tamera Lynn Kraft has penned a haunting tale of Moravian missionaries who selflessly bring the promise of Christ to the Lenape Indians. A beautiful way to set your season aglow, A Christmas Promise is truly a promise kept for a heartwarming holiday tale.” – Julie Lessman

A Moravian Christmas in 1773

By Tamera Lynn Kraft

img_1022In the wilderness of Ohio in 1773, a small band of missionaries and Lenape Indians celebrated Christmas at Schoenbrunn Village, the first settlement in Ohio. They’d come to this wilderness and started the village a year earlier to preach the Gospel to the Lenape, also known as the Deleware.

The missionaries, both white and native families moved from a town in Pennsylvania called Bethlehem. Moravians had come to Bethlehem years earlier when a preacher named John Wesley had donated the land to them. But the Lenape had been forced west as more white men had moved into the area, so the Moravians decided to move west with them.

Life was hard in Schoenbrunn. Cabins were quickly made and community gardens were planted that included beans, corn, and squash. Most villages also planted potatoes and turnips next to their cabins. The rest of their food came from hunting. But the real danger came from the many Indian tribes surrounding the village, some of them hostile.

img_1023They didn’t have time to build a fence to keep out varments and the first Ohio church until Spring, 1773, but they did manage to build a school, the first built in Ohio. The school taught both boys and girls, a first for the colonies, how to read the Scripture in their native language and in English. The Moravians printed a Bible in the Lenape language.

The village council was led by David Zeisberger and including white Moravians and Lenape converts. The rules for the village were established by the Lenape Christians. These missionaries did not consider the native converts to be beneath them but instead brothers in Christ.

vector-christmas-candle_f1gwjyl__lAfter a year and a half in Schoenbrunn, the villagers were excited to celebrate their first Christmas. They had many traditions that we still use today. They would have a candlelight Christmas Eve service called a Lovefeast. During this service, they sang Christmas hymns, shared sweet rolls and coffee together, and prayed for each other. The service concluded when they gave each child a bleached beeswax candle and a scripture to hang on their trees at home. The white candle symbolized the purity of Christ and the flame showed that Jesus is the light of the world. A red ribbon would be wrapped around the candle to symbolize how Jesus shed His blood for a lost world.

schoenbrunn-cabinIn every home in Schoenbrunn, families decorated artificial Christmas trees with candles and papers with scriptures written on them. The trees were made by putting together a wood frame and decorating it with real pine branches. The family would also make a putz, a nativity village that included the nativity scene, the wise men, and other Biblical scenes and place it under the tree. Most Moravians gave small gifts at Christmas, but resources were so limited that the children in Schoenbrunn were happy with their candles they received at the church. After a Christmas feast, the family would read the verses hung on the tree and talk about God’s blessings at Christmas.

Schoenbrunn Village has been restored and is open to tourists. Find out more at this link (http://www.ohiosfirstvillage.com) .


This Week in History 12/5 – 12/11

HistoryThis Week in History

December 5:

  • Antibaptist Hans Schlaffer martyred for standing for the Gospel (1527)
  • US President Polk triggers Gold Rush of 1849 by confirming gold discovery in California (1848)
  • German physicist Albert Einstein granted a visa to enter America (1932)
  • Prohibition in US ends when 21st Amendment ratified and 18th Amendment repealed (1933)
  • US President Truman creates Committee of Civil Rights by Executive Order (1946)
  • 500 Jews of Nuremberg massacred during Black Death riots (1349)
  • Charlemagne becomes the sole King of the Franks after the death of his brother Carloman (771 AD)
  • Televangelist Jim Bakker was charged by a federal grand jury with mail fraud and conspiracy to defraud the public (1988)
  • The French Franc is created (1360)
  • Earthquake strikes Naples killing 35,000 (1856)

December 6:

  • St. Nicholas died (341 AD)
  • US Civil War: 13th Amendment of the United States Constitution is ratified, abolishing slavery (1865)
  • First recording made of the human voice – Thomas Edison reciting “Mary had a little lamb” (1877)
  • Washington Monument completed (1884)
  • NASA reveals photographs taken by Mars Global Surveyor suggesting the presence of liquid water on Mars (2006)
  • Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery in Maryland for the second and and final time (1849)
  • Thomas Aquinas had a vision of Christ (1273)
  • Joseph H Rainey becomes first black in US House of Representatives (1870)
  • First edition of Encyclopedia Britannica published (1768)
  • Coal mine explosions in Monongah, West Virginia kill 361 (1907)
  • Everglades National Park in Florida is dedicated (1947)
  • U.S. Congress moves from New York City to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (1790)
  • China votes for universal human rights (1912)
  • Several villagers are shot dead during protests in Dongzhou, China (2005)
  • First US Presidential address broadcast on radio by President Calvin Coolidge (1923)
  • Hugo Chávez is elected President of Venezuela (1998)
  • Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer first airs on TV (1964)
  • NASA reveals photographs taken by Mars Global Surveyor suggesting the presence of liquid water on Mars (2006)
  • Cokesbury College, the first Methodist college in America, was founded (1787)

December 7:

  • WW2: Imperial Japanese Navy with 353 planes attack US fleet at Pearl Harbor Naval Base, Hawaii killing 2,403 people and starting American involvement in World War 2 (1941)
  • Delaware becomes first state to ratify the US constitution (1787)
  • WW1: US becomes 13th country to declare war on Austria (1917)
  • Naturalist Alexander von Humboldt reports his discovery of the decrease in intensity of Earth’s magnetic field from the poles to the equator (1804)
  • Apollo 17, final manned lunar landing mission, launched (1972)
  • Microwave oven patented (1945)
  • The American Colony of Massachusetts suspended the Corporal Punishment Act of 1656 which had imposed harsh penalties on Quakers and other religious Nonconformists (1661)
  • At the Synod of Rome, Cyril of Alexandria formally condemned the doctrine which claimed there were two separate Persons in the Incarnate Christ – one Divine, the other Human (430 AD)
  • Emperor Lo-Yang in China sees supernova (185 AD)

December 8:

  • WW2: US declares war on Japan and enters war (1941)
  • WW2: Great Britain declares war on Japan (1941)
  • WW2: FDR makes famous date in infamy speech about Pearl Harbor attack (1941)
  • The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of student organizations holding religious services at public colleges and universities (1981)
  • George Washington’s retreating army crosses Delaware River from New Jersey possible only because an unusual fog covered the area (1776)
  • WW2: Dutch government-in-exile in London declares war on Japan (1941)
  • Ludwig Von Beethoven’s 7th Symphony in A premieres (1813)
  • US President Reagan & Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev sign a treaty eliminating medium range nuclear missiles (1987)
  • 114-day newspaper strike begins in New York City (1962)
  • US Civil War: Abraham Lincoln’s Amnesty Proclamation and plan for Reconstruction of South (1863)
  • Christmas seals were sold for the first time to fight tuberculous (1907)
  • US & USSR sign treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons in outer space (1966)
  • Pope Pius IX declared the Immaculate Conception of Mary an article of faith for the Catholic Church (1854)
  • Sister Anthony, known as the Angel of the Battlefield for her service to the wounded during the Civil War, passed away (1897)
  • Japanese military police launch violent suppression of the religious sect Oomoto for worshiping figures other than the emperor (1935)
  • US President Dwight D. Eisenhower gives his “Atoms for Peace” speech at the UN in New York (1966)

December 9:

  • WW2: Hitler orders US ships are to be torpedoed (1941)
  • WW2: China declares war on Japan, Germany & Italy (1941)
  • Robert Cushman preached first recorded and printed sermon on US soil (1621)
  • UN General Assembly unanimously approves Convention on Genocide (1948)
  • Scottish missionary explorer David Livingstone set sail on his first journey to Africa (1840)
  • WW2: First US WW II bombing mission in Far East, Luzon, Philippines (1941)
  • US Civil War: The Joint Committee on the Conduct of the War is established by the U.S. Congress (1861)
  • First Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in North America (1851)
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas premieres (1965)
  • Alfred Tennyson’s poem Charge of the Light Brigade published (1854)
  • NLS, a system for which hypertext and the computer mouse were developed, is publicly demonstrated for the first time in San Francisco (1968)
  • Nicolae Ceaușescu becomes Communist President of Romania overthrown 1989 (1967)
  • Noah Webster establishes New York’s first daily newspaper, the American Minerva (1793)

December 10:

  • The Gift of the Magi, a short story by William Sydney Porter known as O. Henry, was first published (1905)
  • Wyoming becomes first US territory to grant women right to vote (1869)
  • Spanish-American War formally ended by the Treaty of Paris; US acquires Philippines, Puerto Rico & Guam (1898)
  • Martin Luther publicly burned papal edict demanding he recant (1520)
  • Isaac Newton’s derivation of Kepler’s laws from his theory of gravity, contained in the paper De motu corporum in gyrum, is read to the Royal Society by Edmund Halley (1684)
  • Kaspar Schwenkfeld, German theologian and reformer who influenced Anabaptist, Pietism, and Puritans, died (1561)
  • Massachusetts Bay becomes first American colonial government to borrow money (1690)
  • Italian archaeologist Antonio Bosio, known as Columbus of the Catacombs, first descended into the subterranean Christian burial chambers located under the streets of Rome (1593)
  • Nobel Peace Prize presented to Dr Martin Luther King Jr. in Oslo (1964)
  • US Civil War: General Sherman’s armies reach Savannah & 12 day siege begins (1864)
  • First Nobel Peace Prizes awarded to Jean Henri Dunant, Frederic Passy (1901)
  • Poet Emily Dickinson is born  (1830)
  • Nobel Prize for Physics awarded to Pierre and Marie Curie (1903)
  • Albert Schweitzer receives Nobel Peace Prize (1954)
  • Edward VIII signs Instrument of Abdication, giving up the British throne to marry American divorcee Wallis Simpson (1936)
  • President Theodore Roosevelt becomes first American awarded Nobel Peace Prize (1906)
  • Ruyard Kipling receives Nobel prize for literature (1907)
  • First traffic lights are installed outside the Palace of Westminster in London (1868)
  • WW2: 2nd part of Hitler’s Mein Kampf published (1926)
  • 6-year old Donny Osmond’s singing debut on Andy Williams Show (1963)

December 11:

  • 103 Mayflower pilgrims land at Plymouth Rock (1620)
  • WW2: Germany & Italy declare war on USA (1941)
  • Myles Standish and a group of 18 settlers are attacked by 30 Native Americans, which became known as the “First Encounter” (1620)
  • Edward VIII becomes the first English monarch to voluntarily abdicate the throne after the Church of England condemns his decision to marry to Wallace Simpson, an American divorcee (1936)
  • WW2: Dutch government in London declares war on Italy (1941)
  • WW2: Japanese occupy Guam (1941)
  • WW2: Japanese attack Wake Island (1941)
  • WW2: New anti-Jewish measures proclaimed in Poland (1939)
  • English Puritans introduced the “Root and Branch” petition to Parliament demanding the English episcopacy, “with all its dependencies, roots and branches”, be abolished (1640)
  • First recorded display of Aurora Borealis in north American colonies (1790)
  • 13 black soldiers hanged for participation in Houston riot (1917)
  • Indiana becomes 19th US state (1816)
  • Colored moving pictures demonstrated at Madison Square Garden (1909)
  • Magnum P.I. premieres on CBS (1980)

A Season to Read!

by Carole Brown

Voltaire once said, “Poetry is the music of the soul, and, above all, of great and feeling souls.”

December is here, and Christmas is part and priority of this month. What a beautiful month to share a few favorite stories and poems with readers. Here are five for your enjoyment:


1.  Twas the Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore Clark. Fun, lighthearted poem that thrills the hearts of both adults and children.


2.  The Three Kings by Henry Wadsworth Longsfellow. An entertaining story of the Three Wisemen. What a gifted poet Longsfellow was!



3. How the Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss  Who else? The children’s poet with imaginative characters, rhyme and trisyllabic meter. What child doesn’t delight in his books?


4.  Away in a Manger–unknown, but attributed to Martin Luther, German reformer. Sweet, sweet children’s hymn that is sung world wide. 



5.  ‘Jest Before Christmas by Eugene Field.  This is such a fun, old-fashion poem that I’ve always enjoyed reading. Whether modern boys or those from by-gone, this child’s reasoning give me plenty of smiles, along with fond thoughts of how they look upon life. 

Stop for a bit and take a breather. Hum a hymn or tap your feet with the rhythm of the beats. Read one or more to a child. Play with a child. Kick up your heels. Dream for awhile. Ponder life and the meaning of Christmas. Rejoice in your faith. Enjoy the month. Reflect on your blessings. Give praise. Hope in the impossible. Keep the peace. Love all. 

And wishing you a very Merry Christmas. 

Guest Author Gail Kittleson Talks About the Season of Advent

gailI’d like to welcome guest author Gail Kittleson. An Iowa author, Gail writes World War II Women’s Fiction, with heroines who face tough odds, make-do and ask honest questions. She and her husband enjoy the Arizona mountains in winter. Gail delights in word play and quotes, and facilitates writing workshops and women’s retreats.


The Season of Advent

by Gail Kittleson

O come, oh come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel…

The Season of Advent is upon us. While these forty days once meant waiting for Epiphany, when the Magi visited the Christ child, God Incarnate, with a focus on the His Second Coming, the Roman Christians began to associate this season with the birth of Jesus.

Advent means the arrival of someone or something. These early December days have turned gloomy in Iowa—the sun has gone AWOL, and a daylight savings time five p.m. seems like ten o’clock. It’s good to switch on the lights our granddaughter arranged atop our piano on days like this.


This energetic eleven-year old transformed our abode into a haven of lights and words last weekend.


They help me recall the hopeful meaning of Advent. Today, what will come to us? Will we connect with someone whose kindred spirit encourages us? Will an unexpected gift arrive through something we hear or read? Or perhaps we’ll plot the perfect scene to show our characters’ resolve?

Whatever happens, an attitude of expectancy can make all the difference. This year has brought me new readers—even a few that qualify as fans. What a blessing their kind words have proven on my writing journey—thank you Irene and Jean and Ann and Lisa.

It’s hard to put into words my delight that Addie’s story, In Times Like These, has touched readers’ hearts and lives. One even says she’s earmarked passages that help her in her personal challenges right now. It doesn’t get better than that!

2016 has also provided great editing for the sequel, With Each New Dawn —thank you, Amberlyn and Ann. I look forward to this new release in February, and to new WWII stories to meld into a third novel with Kate, Addie’s best friend, as the heroine.

What lies ahead in the new year? Not knowing creates expectation. We keep expecting, one day at a time, and our lives unfold. The lights around us brighten our spirits in the shadows, and good memories shore up our anticipation of even better experiences ahead.


Every day, I seek words and light. Note how our granddaughter brightened my reading nook.

The other day my morning devotions contained this: “All the best to you from THE GOD WHO IS, THE GOD WHO WAS, AND THE GOD ABOUT TO ARRIVE…” Revelation 1: 4 MSG. The God about the arrive … what a great approach to every single day.

How will the divine manifest in our lives during the next twenty-four hours, our present, allotted time on this earth? As writers, we can count on words coming to us, and light.

gail-bookIn Times Like These

Pearl Harbor attacked! The United States is at war.

But Addie fights her own battles on the Iowa home front. Her controlling husband Harold vents his rage on her when his father’s stoke prevents him from joining the military. He degrades Addie, ridicules her productive victory garden, and even labels her childlessness as God’s punishment.

When he manipulates his way into a military unit bound for Normandy, Addie learns that her best friend Kate’s pilot husband has died on a mission, leaving her stranded in London in desperate straits.

Will Addie be able to help Kate, and find courage to trust God with her future?