Monday, December 1, 2008

New Contest: Christmas Firsts

This week, we're celebrating the release of A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, written and compiled by six authors. One of them, Brenda Nixon, joins us today, answering a few questions about the book, but first, the contest information. Be sure to read the directions thoroughly - I'm request entries a bit differently this week.

CONTEST: Share with us - in the comments section only (no e-mails this time) - some memory of a Christmas "first." Do you remember your own first Christmas? Or perhaps the first Christmas with your spouse? Or with a child? Or maybe a first Christmas without a parent? Or a first white Christmas? Or ... ?

Submit your comment by Friday, December 5th, midnight (Central time) for your chance to win a copy of A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts. Winners will be chosen by random drawing from anyone leaving a Christmas First memory.

About the Book:

Is your Christmas cluttered? Does it leave you fretting instead of singing "Joy to the World"? In A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, discover how to bring harmony to this busy season. As you turn the pages of this practical book, you'll find tips for family traditions, children, gift giving, how to grow myrrh and much more. Try the scrumptious "Cookie Canister" recipes, read heart-warming stories about families who experienced Christmas firsts and enjoy the feelings of nostalgia and home. This is a book to help you uncomplicate Christmas, rediscover the real source of joy and usher in the celebration of faith, family and a Savior. The eye-catching scrapbooking designs used throughout the colorful book make this an ideal gift as well as coffee table book.

The first time something happens in your life is usually a significant moment and often a transforming event. Who doesn't remember their first kiss? Christmas is a time of year when events become even more significant because of the importance we place on the holiday. The First Christmas truly changed lives--and this compilation of "Christmas Firsts" show families enriched by the holiday, the beginning of new traditions, and a fond remembrance of why we continue to celebrate that First Christmas.

A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts invites you to enjoy the true meaning of Christmas. Laugh with the light quotes and quips, learn about the origins of many Christmas traditions, and enjoy holiday tips to make your celebrations complete.

About the Authors:

These women have never all been together at one time, they haven't even all met each other in person! If you are looking for a great interview...schedule them all for an informative interview that's sure to be sprinkled with a family reunion feel.

You can find out more about each of the contributing authors at their blog or at their personal websites:

A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts Blog

Brenda Nixon

Cathy Messacar

Karen Robbins

Leslie Wilson

Terra Hangen

Trish Berg

Now an interview with Brenda Nixon:

What is A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts? How is it like a scrapbook?

If you like quick quotes, inspirational short reads - some tear-jerkers, tasty recipes, historical fun facts, and tips to simplify and savor the holidays then you've just described A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts.
The scrapbook concept came about because six of us authors each contributed so it's a collective feel, and the layout of the book is similar to an old-fashioned scrapbook with those black corners, coffee stains, and a threadbare look to some pages.

How did this book come about? Share a bit about the writing process and procedure since all six authors live in six different areas.

Yes, I think we're an enigma because we're in this six-author business relationship and have yet to be together in one place. Three of the authors I've never met face-to-face.

Karen Robbins, Trish Berg and I are all Buckeyes - that's Ohio. Cathy Messecar and Leslie Wilson are in Texas while Terra Hangen, our gardening guru, is in the Pacific Northwest. A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts is Cathy's brainchild. We were (and still are) in a Barnabas group where we support, encourage and hold one another accountable in our professional lives. Terra and I birthed the group and invited the others to join us. At the time we first "met," our common thread was that we were all writing columns for mainstream publications.

After a year, Cathy mentioned her book proposal on unusual stories and events that took place for the first time around Christmas. Being the supportive bunch we were, everyone offered to help either with editing or contributing a story. Well, those offers morphed into all of us equally having a share, but we consider Cathy the head-writer (sounds like the Dick Van Dyke Show). Two members of the group asked their agent to help us sell the ms to Leafwood Publishers. But Cathy had a previous and positive relationship with Leafwood so it was an easy sell.

What great Christmas idea or tip did you learn from your co-authors while writing the book?

Good question, Tracy. Hmm, I've learned a lot from having a six-person business relationship. But, from writing the book, I learned that each has something of value to contribute. Just as God gives different gifts to His Body, so each team member has different strengths to add to this project. Everyone chipped in and it came together into a beautifully packaged holiday read that rivals anything Hallmark can produce (geesh, do I sound partial?).

When I received my advance author copy, I sat down immediately and read the book cover-to-cover. I learned about growing Myrrh and re-blooming poinsettias, vowed to try the baklava recipe, sniffled at some of the stories and learned about my co-authors' favorite memories.

Tell us about your own personal writing journey - how long you've been writing, how long it took to be published, etc.

Well, I began writing when I was five years old. With a bobby pin I etched my name into the side of my parents' oak desk. They weren't pleased. Professional writing began for me in 1998 when I was the parenting columnist for a monthly publication. I also wrote for compilations; the first was Life's Little Rule Book (Starburst) and then I moved into the Chicken Soup series. I joined the Kansas City Christian Writer's Association (at the time we lived in KC), which is now the Heart of American Christian Writers Association (HACWA) and they offer fabulous annual writers conferences. (There's a plug for you Mark & Jeanette Littleton.)

In 2000, I participated in a CLASS speaker training. But their enthusiasm for my writing became the push I needed to publish.

In 2001, my book, Parenting Power in the Early Years, self-published through WinePress, released. From 2001 - 2007, I wrote articles, columns for Children's Ministry magazine, and promoted Parenting Power. Writers conferences began asking me to teach workshops, so now I also "give back" to the industry by serving as writer conference faculty.In 2007, my agent sold the Parenting Power ms to Revell and it will release this January as The Birth to Five Book.To date, I'm a contributing author to 23 books and A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts, is my first co-authored work.

Since empowering parenting in their enormous task is my mission and passion, I write parenting articles for numerous family publications, have been quoted in Woman's Day, Child, Working Mother, and Parents Magazines, on WebMD and USA Today Weekend, and serve as a parenting guest expert in the media. For those interested in enriching their parenting knowledge and skills, see the free articles on my site. Is that 'nuff about me?

You are offering a wonderful service to your readers, Tracy. If any have questions for me, they're welcome to leave them in the comment box and I'll check in to see if I can adequately answer.

post signature


Anonymous said...

Seldom did I see snow as a child on the southern coast of rural NC. The first time I remember seeing snow, I was five years old and too sick to go outside the house. My daddy made a small snowman (about 18" tall) on the front porch for me as I watched through the window. It's one of my favorite early memories of my daddy. Ann Knowles,

Kathy Fuller said...

My first memory of Christmas was the cardboard fireplace my parents set up for Santa to come down. We didn't have a real fireplace, so that was their solution. You couldn't hang stockings on it, but I didn't care. We had that fireplace for years until it finally wouldn't stand anymore, but I can still visualize it leaning against the wall, with the painted orange and yellow flames that never went out.

Anonymous said...

One of my Christmas 1rst with my children was 1 year my husband and I placed a servalence camera in the living room and had it hooked up to our t.v. in the bedroom and told our girls before they went to bed that night to make sure they checked to see if Santa had came and then come and get us up. We watched our 2 young girls walk into the livingroom Christmas Day. Seeing the look on their faces with just the 2 of them together was priceless they were trying to be real quiet and we could hear them saying Santa must've got our letters we sent and thought we were good!!! and they were peeking in their stocking and clapping their hands : ) that was the best gift my husband and I got that year was watching them. I would love to be entered in your contest.
Lori Barnes

Stephanie Craig said...

I remember the first Christmas that I didn't believe in Santa. We had moved to a new town and I didn't have very many friends, so it wasn't a good year. I also got less gifts than normal because my mom figured that if I didn't believe in Santa anymore, she didn't have to try very hard. The thing is I wanted to believe more than I wanted the extra presents. The magic of Christmas was gone for me and I wanted it back. Thankfully, I later learned about Christ and the true meaning of Christmas. But even as an adult, sometimes I miss believing in and anticipating Santa. stephaniewrites(at)hotmail(dot)com.

Tracy Ruckman said...

@ Ann - what a great memory of your first snow and of your father! We have limited snows in Bama, too, and I think I was almost a teen before I experienced my first snowfall!

@ Kathy - I purchased one of those cardboard fireplaces for my kids when they were young and we loved it. That first Christmas of having one seems to stand out in our minds even many years later!

@ Lori - what a great way to record their reactions - without having to worry about staging it for a video camera! What fun!

@ Stephanie - I know exactly how you feel. To help combat that a little, I designated myself as Santa's helper each year, and try to surprise a few people each year as finances allow. That really helps!

Thanks for all these great comments! I'll announce the winner momentarily!