Thursday, December 14, 2017

December Memories

I love December. There are just so many special things about it. Advent. Christmas. Baking Christmas cookies with my children and decorating the house. I even like the snow, although I have to admit it gets old by February.

I have another reason for liking December. Next week I will celebrate my 20th anniversary with my husband, the love of my life. I knew when I met him that he was the one. He took a little longer to figure it out. Let me back up a bit.

Growing up, I remember my parents telling the story of how they had met. My mom had been visiting her sister, my aunt. While there, she met my aunt's neighbor and his brother, my dad. My dad went home that night and told his parents that he had met the woman he was going to marry. Six months later, they were married. Sigh. The romantic in me always hoped I would have my own story to tell.

And I do. My best friend moved from Illinois to Pennsylvania after college. When she got engaged, she asked me to be her maid of honor. Several months later, I traveled to PA. I met the best man, and we clicked. After the wedding, I told my parents I had met the man I was going to marry. My mom and dad just laughed. They had already decided that we were perfect together. A year later, he proposed. Six months after that, we were married, and our best friends were our honor attendants.



That was twenty years ago. We're still together. We have three children and enough animals to make our own petting zoo. Life has been good.

I am releasing my fifth book with Love Inspired Suspense this month. Another milestone that makes the month special. Amish Christmas Abduction was a book that had been in my heart long before I sat down to write it. I love this story and am so grateful that God gave me the opportunity to share it.



"KIDNAPPED IN AMISH COUNTRY After catching a glimpse of something she wasn’t supposed to see days before Christmas, Irene Martello is run off the road and barely survives. More shocking is the backseat whimper of an Amish toddler stowaway and the familiar sight of their rescuer—the man who’d let her down years earlier. Police chief Paul Kennedy fears Irene stumbled onto a kidnapping ring with two dangerous agendas: retrieving the girl and silencing the witness for good. Only Paul can keep them safe for the holidays. Guarding Irene means risking his heart—and his secret—but to save the child and the woman he never stopped loving, it’s a risk he has to take."

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

When you dream, dream big.

Pamela Tracy here.

Roughly twenty-three years ago I decided to really try my hand at writing.  I set up my computer on a card table in my bedroom and I started writing a Star Trek novel.

I typed merrily for quite a few month before admitting to myself that there had to be some kind of guidelines for actually knowing what to do.

I've always loved school.  I've taken sign language and even a math class just for fun.

Signing up at my neighborhood community college was a no-brainer.  I was so excited my first night of creative writing class.  I felt like I'd arrived.

Clearly, a few of the other students had arrived earlier than me.  Some were taking the class for a third or fourth time.  I, quite frankly, was jealous.  Why hadn't I thought of taking this class sooner!!! I was behind!!!!

There were a few other newbies.  Sitting across from me, much younger and prettier was a woman named Stacey Connelly.  We exchanged pleasantries and soon friendships in the class formed.

A year later, Stacey and I were in the class for the third time because we WERE going to become writers.  

From that class, a core group of six formed a critique group, including the creative writing teacher.  We stopped taking the college class and once a week, we met at a restaurant and exchanged chapters.  The group ebbed, flowed, grew, shrank, but stayed cohesive with five - yup, count em - five of the original core members.

Stacey and I were the romance writers.  We went to conferences, joined RWA, and strove to perfect our prose.  We dreamed, and we dreamed big.

Last week something bearing Stacey's name arrived in my mailbox (ordered from Amazon!)

Nope, not a book.  She sold her first many years ago.

It's a movie.  A Hallmark movie.  Taken from one of Stacey's books!!!
Look, her name is right there!
Under the photos of the actors and actresses.  

I want to cry when I think of that long ago day.  It was before I married, had children, had wrinkles!  There I was in the hard, wooden classroom chair with my spiral notebook ready.  I was in a room with other people who had stories to tell.

Stacey was across from me, as she would be for many years and up until today.  We still room together at Nationals and such.

See, when you dream, you need to dream big.
Stacey's cover

Stacey did.

Tonight there are five of us meeting for a Christmas party.  Three are from the original six. The dream hasn't ended.  I wonder what will happen next?

Pamela Tracy, who sat across from Stacey Connelly, is still waiting for her Hallmark movie.
In the meantime, her most recent release is from Harlequin Heartwarming.



Monday, December 11, 2017

New for December from Our Love Inspired Historical Authors

Jean C. Gordon here with two new must buys from our Love Inspired Historical authors. Just click on a cover to buy one. And to learn more about these talented ladies, click on their names.

http://amzn.to/2AUxAl6
Once Upon a Texas Christmas
by Winnie Griggs 

PARTNERS FOR THE HOLIDAYS
Abigail Fulton is determined to find independence in Turnabout, Texas—and becoming manager of the local hotel could be the solution. But first, she must work with Seth Reynolds to renovate the property by Christmas—and convince him she’s perfect for the job. If only he hadn’t already promised the position to someone else…

Ever since his troubled childhood, Seth yearns to prove himself. And this hotel is his best chance. But what does someone like Abigail know about decor and furnishings? Yet the closer the holiday deadline gets, the more he appreciates her abilities and her kindness. His business ambitions require denying Abigail’s dearest wish, but can they put old dreams aside for a greater gift—love and family?


http://www.christineelizabethjohnson.com/boom-town-brides.html
Would Be Mistletoe Wife
by Christine Johnson

MISTLETOE MATCH
Worried she might lose her teaching job if funding is cut for her boarding school, widow Louise Smythe must consider marriage. But the only prospective groom in town is lighthouse-keeper Jesse Hammond, and he wants children—something she may never be able to provide. While Jesse waits for the ideal woman to make his wife, though, Louise can’t help but long for something more than his friendship.

If he wants to be promoted to head lighthouse keeper, Jesse needs to find a wife suited to his rustic lifestyle. But as he and Louise partner to give the town’s homeless orphans a joyous holiday, he’s drawn to the petite woman. Will the light of Christmas finally inspire them to trust in each other’s hearts?

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Sunday Scripture & Prayer Requests


Second Sunday in Advent

The Baptism of Christ, painted by Andrea del Verrocchio and his
student, Leonardo da Vinci, 1472-1475, Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
[PS-US]

The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God.

As it is written in Isaiah the prophet:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way.
A voice of one crying out in the desert:
"Prepare the way of the Lord,
make straight his paths."

John the Baptist appeared in the desert
proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
People of the whole Judean countryside
and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem
were going out to him
and were being baptized by him in the Jordan River
as they acknowledged their sins.
John was clothed in camel's hair,
with a leather belt around his waist.
He fed on locusts and wild honey.
And this is what he proclaimed:
"One mightier than I is coming after me.
I am not worthy to stoop and loosen the thongs of his sandals.
I have baptized you with water;
he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."
Mark 1:1-8

If you have prayer needs, please mention them in the comments section so we can join you in prayer. You do not need to include specific names or situations of a private nature, just say that you have a prayer request. The Lord knows your heart and the needs you have. It is a privilege and honor to pray with you and for you.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Getting "The Call" by Cate Nolan


I imagine most "Call" stories don't involve the author missing the editor's call because she was asleep.

That's what happened to me.

But let's go back to the beginning.

Once upon a time - a very long time ago - a young(ish) reader got the idea stuck in her head that she could write a book.

That writer was rather nervous. Authors were her very favorite people. They created wondrous books that filled so many happy hours. She had really never dared think that she could be one, too. Writers were special, talented people, and she was just an ordinary person.

But then one day, she read an article in a magazine about two secretaries in California who wrote romance novels on their lunch breaks (Rosemary Rogers and Shirlee Busbee).

The reader dared to dream. Was it possible? Could an ordinary person become an author?

So, like any good heroine, she found a goal. She would write one of the stories she'd been making up in her head.

Okay, so this is where the director steps in and says CUT!

This reader turned writer did have an unfortunate tendency to write looooong.

So fast forward 30 years. There had been many contests, a good number of prestigious finals and even some wins, but no book contract. Neither the Golden Heart nor the Genesis offered the magic key to publication.

But the author, for she now dared think of herself as such, persevered. She wrote on lunch hours and in coffee shops, she tried historical and contemporary and even paranormal.

And then she got discouraged and went back to grad school for a degree in teaching special ed.

But the stories were always there, so eventually she would start writing them again. She had no choice.

Then one day in early February of 2014, Harlequin's Love Inspired Suspense editors announced a contest - The Search for a Killer Voice.

Hmmmmm, there was that story idea... the one where everyone at the Christmas party was poisoned....

So over the next frantic weeks as the contest progressed from round to round, I (yes, let's abandon all pretense, it's me) wrote like crazy.

The contest had four stages.

Stage one was to submit a first page. Based on that, the editors chose teams. Emily Rodmell chose my entry.

Next up - authors had to submit a synopsis. Again the crowd was winnowed down. Those who made it through were invited to submit the first three chapters.

Finally, in May, the editors each asked 5 people to submit the full.

I wrote like crazy for a month and emailed in the entry less than an hour before deadline. I was exhausted, but proud to have miraculously completed my story.

And then the waiting began.

Side note: In my story, the heroine has a favorite hymn that she sings when she is troubled - How Great Thou Art. I had played Holly Tucker's version from The Voice often while writing the book.



So on a warm Sunday in July, as I came out of church, all of a sudden the church bells started playing How Great Thou Art. Goosebumps literally rose on my arms. Was this a sign?

I don't remember much about the next day, except that it was hot and mid-afternoon, I sat down on my bed to read. I fell asleep. When I woke up, I noticed a missed call on my phone.

A missed call with a 212 area code.

My hands shook as I played the message.

I couldn't believe it! Emily Rodmell had called to buy my book - and I had been asleep!!!!

In retrospect, it wasn't a bad thing because I was able to keep the message and replay it when I started to imagine it had all been a dream.

The message said she would be in a meeting, but I had slept long enough that her meeting was over, and I had just enough time to call before she left.

Emily was so sweet. After we talked through the whole part where SHE WANTED TO BUY MY BOOK, she told me they knew I was planning to head out to RWA in a few days (San Antonio that year), so she and Tina had rushed to get a decision so they could invite me to all the Harlequin events.


And that is how an author works for 30 years to sell a book - and then misses the call because she is asleep! But there is one little extra part.

That RWA conference was such a surreal experience, from breakfast with my new editor to attending my first ever Harlequin party, but the absolute highlight of the conference was finally being able to swap out my general member badge for my PAN badge. That little pink band along the bottom proclaimed to all that my dream had really come true.


Christmas in Hiding, my debut book from the Killer Voices contest, was released in October 2015 and is still available on Amazon.




Thanks so much for letting me relive the memory!


(PS - after many rounds, Emily and I came to the conclusion that the poisonous Christmas party had to go. I rewrote the beginning.)

Thursday, December 7, 2017

True Love Was Born In a Stable

 
 
As a Christian romantic suspense author, the love story plays a huge part in each of my books. That love can been seen from the beginning to the end. Just like God’s love for us can be seen from Genesis to Revelation.
Throughout the Old Testament, we can see God’s love for us shining through from the creation He made for us to the way He foretold His plan of salvation through the prophets of old,m right down to how Jesus birth would come about, to the lineage in which He would descend from, to the town in which He would be born.
Isaiah 7:14, Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Isaiah 9:6-7, For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
Micah 5:2, But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
But God’s love story didn’t end with Jesus birth. Just like His birth, Jesus’ suffering and death was foretold as well.  
In Psalm 41:9, we see that Jesus would be betrayed by a close friend.
Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.
Isaiah 53:4-6 we see that He would suffer for us.
Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
There are so many more signs of God’s love written throughout the Bible, including the promise that one day we will be with Jesus in heaven.
John 14: 1-3, Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Our salvation came as a Babe in a stable. And that truly is the greatest gift even given.
Merry Christmas


 
 

Christmas In Delaney Mountain, A Christmas Romantic Suspense novella
Blurb:
Kara Edwards has been looking over her shoulder for years. After being kidnapped and held hostage by a man who claimed to be her late husband’s friend, she’s no longer in the trusting business. She moves to Delaney Mountain with one expectation: to outrun her stalker. Never does she expect to meet a man like David Delaney—one who not only makes her want to trust again, but to love again, too. David Delaney is drawn to Kara from the first moment he meets her. There’s an attractive strength behind her no-nonsense caution and independence. He knows Kara is running from something, but nothing prepares him for what she has to say. When Eli Redford escapes from prison, Kara and David find themselves on one side of a Christmas Eve showdown that brings everything to a deadly head.
 
Mary Alford
 
 

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Cheryl St.John: These are a few of my favorite Christmas inspirations

For years I've done a popular Christmas Tree Tour on my blog. With a new grandbaby born a week ago today, I didn't do the tour this year, and I'm missing sharing the trees and Christmas memories -- but I am enjoying our 11th grandchild, Genevieve Grace. beyond measure.

I thought I'd share some of my favorite Christmas photos with you today. Pictures inspire me and bring me joy. I hope you enjoy them today.

I counted. I could fit most of my village houses on this tree

Most of us could do this in a heartbeat, right?

Can you imagine walking along this peaceful street?

le sigh - vintage Shiny Brite ornaments

such a lovely tree

love this door and porch

Looks like a Victorian Christmas scene

I have a collection of these Santa mugs too

love this tree! where would I put it?

I can see these on my Victorian tree

so pretty

Connie Cooper's tree

My metal sculpture tree is up all year round, but it is decorated at Easter and Christmas

2015 Elli with their tree

who wouldn't want to take this little tree home?

ready for guests


And the star of our Christmas season, Genevieve Grace

MERRY CHRISTMAS! GOD BLESS YOU!



Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Sometimes we find love. And sometimes like an unexpected gift, love finds us.

Love Changes Everything

I have always been struck by the great faith shown by Joseph of Nazareth. At how far his love was willing to go in obedience to God and in his love for the Child who was not his own.

The story of Bethlehem cannot be properly appreciated without also understanding Calvary. Bethlehem and Calvary are not two different stories—but one story with intertwining threads. And this is God’s story of love for you and for me.




In writing The Christmas Baby I was forced to ask myself, how far was I willing to go for love? What would I sacrifice? What would I risk?

To risk much for love, like Anna the heroine of this story, I have to be willing to come to the end of my pride and self-sufficiency if I am to discover God’s best, often unexpected, gifts for me. Like Ryan our hero, I, too, have grappled with what this kind of love will cost me.


Sometimes I've lacked the courage to love this way. The price of obedience too hard. The cost of laying down my plans too high. The death of self too painful.

But love is a choice. An unconditional love with no expectation of return demands courage. My prayer—like Ryan’s—is for God’s love to be born in me so that I might love the way God loves us. And to persevere in loving, despite knowing the outcome may never be what I long for most—but trusting God anyway.

How far is your love willing to go? How far was God’s love willing to go for us? All the way from heaven to the manger to the cross.

Because Love changes everything. Every. Single. Thing.

God is a good father. His Son sees you and I as worth the pain, worth the grief and worth the cross. In His ultimate heroic sacrifice of love, we find our Bethlehem. It is not a something we have earned, but a gift of unfathomable grace.


Bethlehem and Calvary — the greatest love story. God’s love story for all mankind when He chose to make our heart His home. Love is calling, and I pray you will answer love’s call this Christmas season.

I hope you will enjoy Anna and Ryan's journey in The Christmas Baby.

 Merry Christmas,
Lisa

P.S. I love this cover! This is my favorite Love Inspired cover ever!

For more behind-the-scenes inspiration from The Christmas Baby, visit Pinterest.

Monday, December 4, 2017

New for December from Our Contemporary Love Inspired Authors

Jean C. Gordon here with two new must buys from our Love Inspired Contemporary authors. Just click on a cover to buy one. And to learn more about these talented ladies, click on their names.

http://amzn.to/2iAWLCB
The Christmas Baby
by Lisa Carter 

MISTLETOE MOMMY
Anna Reyes is pregnant and widowed, and a Christmas homecoming isn’t so simple. Reuniting with her best friend, Ryan Savage, makes it easier—even though she knows he’ll soon be leaving their small coastal hometown. After putting his career on hold for his family’s business, Ryan’s finally ready to pursue his goals. But as he and Anna work to make the holidays special for a group of at-risk kids, Ryan wonders if he can give up one dream for another. They’re determined to make this a Christmas to remember, but can Ryan and Anna also make their holiday family last forever?

http://bit.ly/dkweb1
Texas Christmas Twins
by Deb Kastner

CHRISTMAS ON THE RANCH
Miranda Morgan’s Christmas will be twice as busy now that she’s guardian of her sister’s sweet twin babies. But the celebrity photographer is happy to trade a glamorous LA lifestyle for motherhood in her small hometown of Wildhorn, Texas. Unfortunately, the twins’ handsome godfather, Simon West, is unconvinced. The brooding rancher isn’t thrilled about letting sunny, spontaneous Miranda into his carefully managed world. Though they disagree on almost everything, Simon and Miranda discover common ground as they work to make the twins’ first country Christmas cozy and bright. Could this holiday transform Miranda and Simon’s tentative friendship into a forever love?

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Sunday Scripture and Prayer Requests

The First Sunday of Advent


Jesus said to his disciples:
"Be watchful! Be alert!
You do not know when the time will come.
It is like a man traveling abroad.
He leaves home and places his servants in charge,
each with his own work,
and orders the gatekeeper to be on the watch.
Watch, therefore;
you do not know when the Lord of the house is coming,
whether in the evening, or at midnight,
or at cockcrow, or in the morning.
May he not come suddenly and find you sleeping.
What I say to you, I say to all: 'Watch!'"
Mark 13:33-37

If you have any prayer needs, please mention them in the comments section so we can join you in prayer. You do not need to include specific names or situations of a private nature, just say that you have a prayer request. The Lord knows your heart and the needs you have. It is a privilege and honor to pray with you and for you.

Friday, December 1, 2017

Getting "The Call" by Christine Johnson



Every author remembers her first sale. For me, I was pretty sure it wasn’t going to happen. After all, it had been 15 years since I received my first rejection letter. Crushed by that, I turned my attention to graduate school and getting my Masters degree in library science. It was a heady time in the field. The internet was just extending beyond research universities to the general public. New technology brought access to research materials to people like me who lived in rural areas.

I thought writing could wait.

A few years later, the stories couldn’t stand to be pent up inside me any longer, and I joined RWA. My first conference was an eye-opener! I attended 16 workshops and left realizing that my creative writing courses as an undergrad in no way prepared me for writing commercial fiction. That’s when the apprenticeship began.

Fast forward to 2008 when I received the email that two of my manuscripts had been named finalists in the Golden Heart Award. I thought I was on my way! Alas, nothing happened from that except a great reason to dress up and more rejection letters. 151 to be precise.

Before the award ceremony
Here I am before the award ceremony trying not to look nervous.


Then, one day I received a telephone call from an editor at Steeple Hill (the predecessor to Love Inspired). She detailed at length what needed to be revised in the manuscript I’d submitted. I took copious notes on the scrap of paper by the phone, wondering all the time why she didn’t just send a letter because there was no way I would make sense of all my notes later. Then, to my utter shock, she said they were offering me a contract. I didn’t remember much of the rest of the call. I’m sure I muttered something unintelligible before hanging up. All I could think was that they wanted to buy my book!

The cat was the first to hear the news, since no one else was home at the time.

sleeping cat


As you can see, she was thrilled.

Then I got on the phone to spread the news. Among the first to hear were my critique partners, who had been through every word of that manuscript with me. No one understands this moment like another writer. We screamed and laughed and cried.

And a year later, in November 2010, my first historical romance, Soaring Home, was published.

Soaring Home cover


That book, dear to my heart and chock-full of years of research into early women aviators, was just the beginning. This month, my 12th and last Love Inspired Historical, Would-Be Mistletoe Wife, will be published. It’s a bittersweet moment. Love Inspired gave my historical romances a chance, and I will always be grateful for that. I have met many incredible readers and authors along the way an am so blessed by this journey. What’s next? I’m working on another book of the heart, and we shall see where the Lord leads.

Thank you, dear readers, for seven wonderful years.



Christine Johnson
Would-Be Mistletoe Wife (Dec 2017)

Thursday, November 30, 2017

My Hero: The Texas Rangers By Margaret Daley

My Hero: The Texas Rangers
By Margaret Daley

I have written three books in the Lone Star Justice Series for Love Inspired Suspense. The last one, Texas Ranger Showdown, will be out in April 2018.  I also wrote four book in my Abingdon series called the Men of the Texas Ranger. What a group!

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about the baseball team in Dallas called the Texas Rangers. I’m talking about the oldest state organization of law enforcement officers. Sam Austin formed the first version of the Texas Rangers in 1823. The word “rangers” was coined because these men ranged over the land they protected and guarded.

Through the early years the Texas Rangers, one of the main duties of the group was to protect the people against Indians. Then after the Civil War in 1874 the organization was divided into six companies with 75 men and usually a captain. Their duties were partly a soldier and partly a police officer. By the 1900s the organization totally focused on enforcing the law. A Texas Ranger was called in when the case was too risky for the local agency.

Today there are 172 Texas Rangers who served the state in many investigative capacities. They are part of the Texas Department of Public Safety. The Texas Rangers’ headquarters is in Austin. There are six companies: Company “A” headquartered in Houston, Company “B” in Garland, Company “C” in Lubbock, Company “D” in Weslaco, Company “E” in El Paso, and Company “F” in Waco/San Antonio. The companies were adjusted recently.

The Texas Rangers handle the usual kind of cases like murder, assault, robbery and kidnapping, but they are also tasked with investigating threats against the governor and other state and federal officials. I used some of these crimes for the stories in my series: Lone Star Justice (High-Risk Reunion and Lone Star Christmas Rescue).


Lone Star Christmas Rescue blurb:
A baby's frantic cries lead Texas Ranger Drake Jackson to an injured woman in Big Bend Park, the infant by her side. But "Kay" has no idea who she is or what happened. All she seems sure of is that she's in terrible danger. When someone comes after her—determined to snatch the child—Drake takes her and little Kaleb to his family's ranch to protect them. But with the attackers circling closer as Christmas approaches, the guarded ranger knows they won't be safe there for long. Vowing to uncover her identity and catch her attacker, Drake plans to give mother and child the holiday they deserve…safe by his side forever.


My newest release in the Lone Star Justice series is my November book, Lone Star Christmas Rescue available at: Amazon, B&N, iBooks, Kobo and Google Play

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Christmas Cards

Hello everyone, Winnie Griggs here.  Don’t you just love this time of year – the crisp weather, the holiday gatherings, folks in a thankful, giving frame of mind, festive decorations, the airwaves filled with carols and Christmas movies – it’s truly joy-filled!

One of the things I usually do the week after Thanksgiving is begin addressing Christmas cards to send out.  This year I got to wondering about how and when that particular custom originated and decided to do a little research on the topic.

I was delighted to discover that the first person to commission a commercial Christmas card was an author.  Sir Henry Cole (1808-1882), using the pseudonym Felix Summerly, wrote children’s books in addition to handbooks and articles on a wide variety of topics. But writing wasn’t his only passion. Sir Henry was a member of the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufacturers, and Commerce, was instrumental in the development of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and he is credited with the design of the world’s first postage stamp, the Penny Black.  He also designed the Felix Summerly Tea Service, an award winning design that was produced by the Herbert Minton ceramic Factory.


Because of his various interests, and high level of success, Sir Henry became a popular and exceedingly busy man. It was custom in his day to hand write letters of Christmas greetings, and to respond to everyone received with a personal missive as well. But in 1843, at the height of his popularity, Sir Henry knew he just wasn’t going to have time to meet this particular obligation. So he hit on an idea to simplify the process. He commissioned a London artist named J. C. Horsley to design a card for him based on an image idea he had. Sir Henry then took the illustration and carried it to a printer who created 1000 copies on stiff cardboard. Sir Henry then mailed these out to his family and friends in lieu of handwritten missives. Those he didn’t use for himself he sold for a shilling a piece. 
Here is what they look like.



It's estimated that there are a little over a dozen of these cards still around today and they have become quite the collector’s item.  In 2013 one of these cards sold for over $6,800!


So what about you – do you send out Christmas cards? (I have to admit that there have been years when I let the busy-ness overwhelm me and let that tradition slide). Do you prefer funny, sentimental, spiritual or homey type cards? Do you select custom cards for each recipient or pick one you love and send it to everyone? Leave a comment below and I’ll enter you in a drawing for winner’s choice of one of the two Christmas books I have out this year.

ONCE UPON A TEXAS CHRISTMAS

Partners for the Holidays 
Abigail Fulton is determined to find independence in Turnabout, Texas—and becoming manager of the local hotel could be the solution. But first, she must work with Seth Reynolds to renovate the property by Christmas—and convince him she's perfect for the job. If only he hadn't already promised the position to someone else… 
Ever since his troubled childhood, Seth yearns to prove himself. And this hotel is his best chance. But what does someone like Abigail know about decor and furnishings? Yet the closer the holiday deadline gets, the more he appreciates her abilities and her kindness. His business ambitions require denying Abigail's dearest wish, but can they put old dreams aside for a greater gift—love and family?




CHRISTMAS ROSES Anthology

Come visit a place where love blooms and holiday magic fills the air…

There’s no better gift than finding love among the roses. In this collection, you’ll find second chances at love, couples who find more than friendship under the mistletoe, and holiday reunions that bring the joy of the season.

 Set against the background of the Gardens of the American Rose Center, these stories are sure to warm your heart and put you in a festive mood, so grab a cup of hot cocoa and curl up with Christmas Roses.