Wow. This is New Year’s Eve. The last post I will ever write in 2018. 😨 Can you believe it? So much has changed! This year has been wildly amazing and Next Year promises to be just as amazing.💚
On the Blog in 2018, I:
// Wrote at least 1 post every month! (That’s a feat! I missed 4 months in 2017!)
// I wrote 67 posts this year! Here’s the break-down:
January 6 February 1 March 1 April 2
May 7 June 6 July 7 August 5
September 9 October 6 November 9 December 15
That means I’ve written 104 posts in three years. WOW! ☺
// Published my third book in my Battle for Heritage Series! 📘
// Started a subscription to my blog!
// Participated in 4 book releases! (Counting my own 😉)
// Started doing blog tags!
// And participated in blog events!
I started a writing series and finished it. I asked for feedback from my subscribers and got a response! It’s been an amazing journey and I treasure each of you for joining me!
And now, let’s get into our monthly Wrap-Up!
We had a more relaxed month, as it is harder to get meetings in December, but we were able to visit several of our supporting churches and give them updates on our ministry! ⛪ Plus, we were able to put on a Christmas play for the church I grew up in. We did Christmas on the Air by Majesty Music and we had so much fun! I was Joanne/Sheep, lol! 🐑 Loved my part 😉
This month was kinda crazy! We had the Country Christmas Train event, where I give tours of a Civil War Plantation House, give out FBN information, and sell my books! 🚆🚂 📚 It’s so awesome getting to meet people and tell them about my stories! Of course, we celebrated Christmas and got to gather with both sides of the family! 🎄❄My sisters came down and we all had a blast! The last of them are leaving today ☹
I am still working on A Song of Home, but I am very pleased with how much it has changed this year! It’s actually turning into a story! I am getting somewhere!🖋💻
Well, as can be expected, most of these books are Christmas books. 😉 Lets see how many I actually read this month…
1.Unto Him by Rebekah Morris 5 Stars
This was an adorable story written from a little boy’s perspective. It teaches about the spirit of Giving and how when we give to the least of these, it’s just as if you have giving to God. The only thing I wasn’t too crazy over was the fact that this family said they were having Christmas since they couldn’t afford gifts. The main family didn’t present that, but I do think there should have been a more clarification that Christmas isn’t about the gifts.
2. Red Boots by Kate Willis 4 Stars
This one was so cute! I really enjoyed it, but I do think it needed to be a little longer. Again, it focused on the spirit of giving, which was a nice theme! And who doesn’t like red boots?
3.Christmas Delays by Rebekah Morris 5 Stars
You can read my full review here, but this book is just so sweet! Read it, even if Christmas is over!
4.Strange but True Civil War Stories by Nancy Clayton 3 Stars
Okay, so I gave this one 3 stars because I would have marked a couple of stories if it were my book, but otherwise, it would have gotten a 5 star review! I loved this book so much! Aside from the three stories (I’m pretty sure it was just three…) I think this book would be a great read aloud for children of all ages. It tells stories from both sides of the war and steers away from why the war was fault, making it easy to enjoy all the stories no matter who you agreed with! If you want to read it but want to know about the questionable content first, please contact us and we will be glad to inform you 😊
5.Christmas Quilts by Rebekah Morris 4 Stars
This book was adorable! I loved it so much! It really had a nice cozy Christmas feel and had a sweet plot line (loved the brother/sister relationship!) The only thing that kept this from being a 5 star review was a reference to stockings and someone saying “Ho Ho Ho.” Nothing personal if that doesn’t bother you, it’s just something I don’t prefer, lol! And I loved how she intertwined a little know Christmas song through the story! So good!
6.His Law is Love by Rebekah Morris 4 Stars
Another good one! And I promise, I didn’t just read Ms. Morris this month! I just happened to have a lot of her books on my TBR, lol! This book gently dealt with prejudice against Indians in the old west. Having some Indian in my blood, it hit home for me. We are all made in the image of God and the color of your skin doesn’t change that. That is the message of this story. And the 26 Rangers! AHHHHHHHHH! I’ve got to read more about these guys!
7.The Land of Cotton by…Me!
No, I will not rate my own book, lol! But yes, I finally got through the reread. Why is it so hard to read your own writing! I keep questioning why I wrote this or why I decided to go that direction with the story, lol! Please tell me I’m not the writer who feels this way…
8. Left to Die by Ivy (Hailey) Rose 4 Stars
This book y'all. My heart was so sad and happy and oh! I was in an emotional turmoil! This book so vividly shows the orphan situation in China and it's so heartbreaking! The two reasons this book lost a star was because the scriptures were not King James and there was some mild romance. It was a little more than I prefer, but not the worst I have accidentally run up against ;)
9. Muslin Mystery (Patchwork Mysteries #3) by Vera Dodge 4 Stars
This is such a charming series so far! While this book had a situation that was a little intense for me, it was beautifully written and ended so wonderfully! I didn't like a few comments that seemed to say it wasn't our business to correct people on their spiritual view. While I don't think the best way to win someone is through debate, I do think it is our responsibility lovingly share the Gospel. Other than that, it was a lovely weaving of mystery and a Grandma who knows how to pray!
10. Nancy Drew Diaries: A Nancy Drew Christmas 3 Stars
This should be sold as a young adult book. There were two words that didn't belong in a children's book and the climax was way too intense. Sorry, it was marketed to the wrong group. I did enjoy a lot of the story and I hope to edit our copy to make it enjoyable for our family, but there was no sense in calling this a children's book.
11. O Come All Ye Faithful by Faith Blum 3 Stars
I enjoyed this collection of short stories, though one of them didn't quite make sense to me. I probably just read it too fast. My Favorite story was the first one, about the Christmas Truce in WWI. I like parts of the second story, but the talk about the boyfriend and the use of a different version of the Bible turned me off. I enjoyed the Christmas setting of these stories and even though I read it New Year's Eve, it made Christmas last that much longer for me!
There were three other books I read, but they weren’t my cup of tea, so, I really don’t want to mention them here. This doesn’t mean they were bad books, they just weren’t my thing. There was only one I didn’t like because of content, the other two were just hard to follow.
There was one other book that I read that I'm really not sure about yet...I feel like I need to read a little more by this author before I make a verdict on her series. There are elements I do like, but there are a few things I question.
Let’s take a look at December’s goals and see how I did…
1. Get to November with my A Song of Home Revisions YES! I’m in December!
2. Post a blog every week (Plus participate in something super fun...more on that Dec. 14th!) Check!
3. Read at least 5 books! (The Land of Cotton being one of them!) Check!
4. Make Peppermint/Chocolate cookies with my younger siblings. (These are so good, y'all!) Check, although the younger ones opted to watch, lol!
5. Finish gift wrapping. Check!
6. Read some Christmas stories to my siblings (And myself!) Unfortunately, I didn’t get to read them a Christmas story (we did read another book!) but they loved the 12 Days of Christmas in North Carolina book I gave them! And I did get to read several stories to myself, usually before everyone got up or after everyone went to bed. Our life is crazy busy y’all!
7. Take time to reflect on the Reason for the Season. No need to get too caught up in the commercialism! In spite of the busyness, I feel like I actually did take the time to reflect and enjoy the season and remove myself from commercialism! So, Check!
8. Do a Christmas craft with the little ones. Well, not a craft, but we opted to play some fun board games, listen to Patch the Pirate and just hang out, which was nice!
January…the new year! Here are my goals to start off 2019…
And here are your writing prompts of the month!
One last thing. I want to make sure everyone understands that even though I post articles from time to time about the War Between the States, from Southern perspective, I am by no means trying to make people uncomfortable, divide and conquer, or trying to force you to believe the way I do on the subject. (If you would like more information on why I support the South, you can see this post.) It has never been my intent to hurt anyones feelings and if I have, I am so sorry! I have many friends in both the North and South, and I actually have quite a large readership in the North! It is not my desire to make anyone uncomfortable, but rather proud of the Heritage God has given them! Thank you so much, subscriber, for bringing this to my attention! Please know that any posts on the subject in the future are based on my personal research and are not meant to hurt anyone. I, likewise, will try to be more careful in the way I present my information henceforth!
That pretty much wraps up this post…my last post of 2018…*sobs*
See you on the other side of 2019!
*Emoji art supplied by Emoji One
Good morning, evening, afternoon or whatever else it may be wherever you are! Today, I am concluding my first ever writing series, Writing 101: I Have a Story! Now What? It’s been so much fun, and I thank you all for joining me! Without further ado, let jump in!
Okay, so let me first say, if you are a writer seeking professional publication, do not read further. I am self-published or an Indie Author, so I know NOTHING about the traditional publishing format. For info on that, see Books and Such Literary Society’s blog, Between the Lines, as they have many helpful articles on that. There are many other sites you can check out with this in mind as well.
So, with that being said, I will explain to you what my personal set up looks like. I don’t use Internet platforms like Kindle or Create Space (which are effective. I have friends who use them. I’m just too busy at this time to get into all of that…). Here’s what I do to get ready for Publication…
Read through my book one more time and make sure I am fully satisfied with it.
Finish making my copyrights page, extra information in the back of the book, and formatting. Formatting includes…
Scene separators (I use stars in my Battle for Heritage Series)
Making sure the first letter in every chapter is larger than the others (It just looks nice and professional)
Checking the Contents page so that page numbers line up correctly
And checking to make sure all my font sizes are consistent throughout the book
Make my cover! I design the covers for my Battle for Heritage Series. Originally, I made the covers in Microsoft Word, but with The Rivers of Sorrow, I used Canva. They are super easy to use, and I am working on switching all the covers over to that program. My older sister made my Coffee Shop Christmas cover using Adobe Photoshop Elements. I try to make sure every book reflects the tone of my story. My sister really captured the essence of my book, Coffee Shop Christmas, very well! It’s got the snow, the warm coffee cup and mittens…blues of all the wintery shades and a nice police light going across the top, setting the tone very well I think 😉
Taking it to the Press.
Well, we have a local printer, who prints and binds my books for me (actually, a friend helps them out with the binding, but they will have their own bindery soon!) They take care of several very important details for me.
ISBN. This is like your Books id number. You can type in the number of any of my books online and find them. This costs $50.00. I could do this myself, but they offer the service and I love not dealing with all the hassle!
Barcode. They use my ISBN to generate a barcode for me (so kind of them!).
Cover sizing. I have no idea how to size a book spine (I am still learning; there are always things to learn in the Self-publishing community!) so the printers are so kind to do this for me 😉.
The actual Printing! Yes, shocker, haha, they print my books for me! It take between two to three weeks usually for me to get my books back from them, so yeah, it’s a great set up! This is also why I haven’t been able to set a release date ahead of time; neither of us knows exactly when they will be done! That’s mostly because of the binder, so, maybe that will change in the future!
So that, my friends, is the conclusion of my Writing 101: I have a Story! Now What? Series! I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did! But stay tuned…some of you have given me so dangerously great ideas for new Writing Series… and who knows what 2019 will bring…😉
Have a Blessed Day!
MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone! As you celebrate with family and friends on this holy day, don’t forget to take time and thank God for sending the Most Precious Gift known to mankind! (Click here for more Christmas Fun!) And now, for the conclusion of Stille Nacht!
Part Eight : Stille Nacht
The next morning, Christmas Day, Adler was awakened by Joey, complaining that he was cold. Adler sat up and shook his head, untangling himself from between Sarge’s rucksack and Harold’s discarded blanket.
“You look like you’re feeling better this morning,” Adler replied.
Joey grinned his boyish grin and sat up on his elbow. “Some better, but I still can’t walk on my own. Already tried. Y’all must have been unconscious not to hear me fall earlier. I had to drag myself back into bed.”
Adler yawned and adjusted Joey’s blankets. “I didn’t get just a whole lot of sleep. I think it was about 4:00 when I finally nodded off.”
“Two hours sure ain’t a lot of sleep. What kept you up?”
Adler sighed and held up the book he had tucked in his shirt pocket. “Sarge’s Bible. You know, there are an awful lot of scriptures on the Messiah…and this Jesus does seem to line up.”
Joey nodded soberly. “That’s what we’ve been trying to tell you, Micah. Even the prophet you’re named for knew who He was, before He was born.”
“Maybe. I’ve still got more reading to do.”
“Good. There’s hope for you then.”
The others rolled out of their self-made cocoons and began to mill about the room as Marta prepared breakfast. Rudi came over to change Joey’s bandage and feel his forehead. “You’re still warm, Yank. Better take it easy today. There’s no way you can walk.”
“Ain’t got a choice. Sarge can’t carry me all day on his back!”
Harold whispered something to Rudi, who smiled and nodded. “Be right back,” he called over his shoulder. He motioned to Stefan and the two hurried outside. Adler didn’t pay them any mind.
Hilde skipped around the room shouting “Frohliche Weihnachten!”
Adler smiled. “Merry Christmas.”
Marta smiled and set out bowls to fill with left over potato soup.
The door blew open, nearly knocking Lars into the wall, as Harold and Stefan trudged in with two sturdy branches. Lars shut the door behind them and pulled out his knife. When Sarge realized what they were doing he pulled out his as well. They hacked off the twigs and limbs, making two semi-smooth poles. “We need rope and a sheet,” Lars commented.
Rudi hunted through his pack and Adler reached for his. In the same moment, they pulled out a roll of sturdy cord. “Got it!”
Marta laughed as she headed to the small side room and returned with a stout looking sheet. Working quickly, Lars and Sarge tied together the sheet, branches and rope.
“And there you have it!” Harold said with a grin. “A stretcher for Joey!”
Adler half smiled. “Joey, you’re getting king treatment today.”
Marta turned back to her breakfast preparations. Hilde, still very much in the Christmas spirit, started humming a tune. Stefan smiled at her and hummed along.
Then, Marta’s lone voice began to sing.
Stille Nacht! Heil’ge Nacht!
Alles schlaft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hoch heilige Paar.
Holder Knab’ im lockigen Haar,
Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!
Sarge smiled as Joey took up the song.
Silent Night! Holy Night!
All is calm; as is bright
‘Round yon virgin, mother and Child.
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in Heavenly Peace!
Sleep in Heavenly Peace!
Hilde smiled and clapped her hands, soon joined by everyone. “Merry Christmas!”
After breakfast, Rudi helped Sarge carry Joey out on the stretcher while Lars, consulting a map and compass, showed Adler the way back to American lines. “If this is still accurate,” Lars warned. “They are probably much closer by now. And keep a sharp watch for our men.”
Adler nodded and jotted down the directions on his map. “And you for ours, though I’d guess you’d be better off than us in such a situation.”
They turned as Marta and Hilde came out of the cabin, bundled up and carrying their meager belongings with them. They would accompany their soldiers out of the danger zone back to their lines.
“Well, I guess this is goodbye,” Sarge said, shaking hands with each German present. “I’ll admit, I think at times I’d forgotten you fellows were humans too. Thanks for everything.”
Rudi grinned. “Thanks for proving Americans are equals as well. War paints ugly pictures.”
“Hatred too,” Adler replied. He turned to Lars. “I appreciated our talk.”
Lars smiled. “Keep hoping. They may still be out there.”
The soldiers trooped to the wood shed and Stefan handed out their weapons.
“Thank you, Frau Engel, for everything,” Joey called from the stretcher.
“Yes, thank you,” the others replied.
Marta smiled. “Thank you for sharing Christmas with us. May the Lord Bless and keep you.” She turned to Lars. “Shall we go?”
“Ja, forward march!”
The Germans headed one way, the Americans another. But they were different now. Each carried memories that would last the rest of their lives. Hope for peace and healing had been lit in their hearts…all because of a Baby born in Bethlehem.
And know, for the true story that inspire Stille Nacht...
Have a very Merry Christmas! Jesus is the Reason!
Merry Christmas Eve, Happy 11th Day of Christmas, and welcome to my official 100th post! Can’t believe I’ve been blogging that long! So it’s fitting to celebrate by giving you the next to last part of Stille Nacht! Thank you so much for joining me today! Let’s go star gazing! (Don’t forget to visit Stories by Firefly for more Christmas Eve Fun!)
Part Seven: The Christmas Star
Rudi grabbed his jacket and hat and followed the boys outside. Sarge stood and followed. “I could use some air.”
Lars and Adler remained at the table, staring into their empty bowls until Marta took them to the sink. Lars chanced a glance at Adler. “What happened to your family?”
Adler let his breath out in a rush. “They, um,” he cleared his throat. “They weren’t able to get out of Germany before the boarders closed. A friend wrote me and said they were transported to a concentration camp called Dachau.”
Lars winced and shook his head. “Do you know if they are still alive?”
Adler swallowed. “Mama died two months after arrival. Papa never made it to the camp. He was gunned down at a transport when he tried to get the others to fight back. I don’t know what happened to my siblings.”
“I…I’m so sorry,” Lars said, his voice low. “My family is gone as well. They died in the Normandy storming.”
“They were at Normandy?”
Lars nodded. “I was fortunate enough to have them stationed in France with me. But I still can’t understand why they had to die, civilians, and I still live, a soldier.”
“Was it a bombing?”
“I never should have gotten into all of this! If I had pushed back, taken a stand…”
“You’d be dead.”
“Maybe. But I wouldn’t have guilt plaguing me on a daily basis.”
Adler nodded slowly. He stood and walked quietly over to Joey. The young soldier looked up at him. “Why’s everybody going outside?”
“Going to look at the stars I guess.”
Joey’s face lit up. “I want to see!”
“Alright, uh…oh, there’s your stuff. Let’s get your coat on and I’ll help you outside.”
Lars put on his coat and offered to help with Joey. They went out and helped Joey get settled on a bench beside Stefan. No one said a word, just stared up at the stars, lost in thought.
Joey smiled as he located Orion, while Stefan hunted for Leo. Lars leaned up against the house determined that this time he would find the little dipper which always seemed to evade his watchful eye. Sarge and Adler gazed up at the north star, mentally trying to map their way back to their lines.
The door swung open and Marta came out, holding Hilde’s hand. “Look, Hilde! It’s the star of Bethlehem!”
Rudi translated for Sarge as the group followed Marta’s pointing. The North Star. The brightest one in the sky.
“Is that the star that shone over Baby Jesus’ house in Bethlehem, Mama?”
Marta smiled. “We don’t know for sure, dear. But we like to think so. But do you know why it shone?”
“It was for the Wisemen to follow so they could give Jesus their presents.”
Hilde paused, then asked, “Mama, I love Jesus, but why did He have to come to earth?”
Adler shifted uncomfortably. Here we go again, he thought.
Marta hesitated. Christians had been stiffly persecuted in Germany, since their teachings contradicted Hitler. Should she risk explaining everything to her daughter in front of her guests? Or should she put Hilde off until it was safer? Marta swallowed hard. I am not ashamed of You, Lord…
“Baby Jesus came to earth and was born in a manger, because He loved us enough to die for us. He knew that since we are sinners, we could never get into heaven. So He lived a sinless life and took our sins upon Himself and died in our place. After He was buried, three days later, He rose from the dead, our eternal Lord and Savior. He did all of that because He loved us.”
“Even Hitler, Mama?”
Adler smirked and crossed his arms, eager to hear this reply. “Yes, even for Hitler, darling, if he will only ask Jesus to forgive him of his sins. He died for everyone, man, woman, adult, child, black, white, German, Jewish, American, all of us.”
“What makes you so sure that Jesus is the Savior, the Messiah?” Adler challenged, though the words lacked the bite he normally intoned.
Marta smiled and quoted, “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. (Micah 5:2) Jesus was of Bethlehem, was He not?”
“Well, yes, I suppose so.”
“Do you know anyone else of Bethlehem that had done as great things as Jesus?”
“If what they say is true, no.”
“Isaiah 40:11 says, He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. Wouldn’t you say Jesus fits that description? He certainly loved the weak and children. He seems like a shepherd to me.
“Isaiah 49:6 says, And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. Thus far, I would guess that more Gentiles have come to accept Christ than Jews. And He is our Light.”
Marta wrapped her shawl tightly about her. “There are many more verses that solidify who Jesus is, Pvt. Adler. I challenge you, get a Bible and read the Old Testament. Find the prophecy of the Messiah and see if Jesus doesn’t measure up to every one of them.”
Adler nodded slowly. “I’ll think about it.”
“I’ve got a Bible you can use,” Sarge reminded.
Joey shivered and winced as pain sliced through his leg. Rudi turned to him. “We’d best get him inside. He needs to rest.”
“We all do,” Marta said, opening the door. As they all entered the house, Marta entered a small room and brought out three blankets. “I’m sorry this is all I can spare.”
The soldiers pulled out their own blankets. “We should be able to make do, Frau, thank you,” Lars assured her.
“Then good night,” she said, leading Hilde into the little room.
Joey, Stefan and Harold got the extra blankets. Pallets were made by the fire and each agreed that whoever woke up during the night would chuck on another piece of wood.
As the others faded off to sleep, Rudi checked on Joey one more time. Satisfied that he was sleeping peacefully, he turned back towards their pallets. Lars was looking out the window. “Something wrong?”
Lars shook his head and grinned. “No. I just found the little dipper.”
Be sure and come back tomorrow for the conclusion of Stille Nacht! Have a very Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas everyone and welcome back to day 10 of the 12 Days of Christmas! Two days until Christmas, y’all. Two. Days. Where has time gone? Things have been crazy busy here getting ready to celebrate and I’m sure each of you can relate!
Who doesn’t like a good Christmas song? Today, I’m going to share my top 5 favorites…in a few different categories!
5. We Three Kings
4. Silent Night
3. While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks By Night
2. O Come, O Come Emmanuel
1. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
You can probably tell by looking at this list that I love songs in minor keys (5, 2 &1). I don’t know why, but these songs appeal to me so much! While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks, in my opinion, is best when sung to a tune similar but not exactly like When I Can Read My Title Clear (the Celtic sounding one; I keep forgetting there are several tunes to that one too!)
And Silent Night…I don’t know why, but this song makes me want to cry every time I hear it! I’m not sure if I’ve shared this before, but my ancestors came over from Germany in the 1750’s and since this song was written in German, it’s very near and dear to me (even if the song was originally written in Austria 😉). It was also translated into English in 1863, which is during the American War Between the States, which I love (didn’t know that did you, lol!)
Secular Christmas Songs
5. Jingle Bells
4. 12 Days of Christmas
3. White Christmas
2. Christmas Pipes
1. I’ll Be Home for Christmas
Okay, so these songs are so fun! Jingle Bells was written by James Pierpont, who wrote many patriotic songs for the Confederacy and he thought for sure they would be far more popular than his Thanksgiving song. Yes, I said Thanksgiving! It’s not even meant to be Christmassy! He was originally from Boston, so I suppose that makes sense. He also wrote “Our Battle Flag”, “We Conquer or Die”, and “Strike for the South”. He was a staunch abolitionist and fought for the Confederacy.
Number 3 and 1 are a nod to my love of World War Two, may second favorite time-period! I love listening to Bing Crosby sing these classics every year!
And Christmas Pipes! Y’all, I love this song so much! It’s so Celtic and captures the whimsical feel of Christmas so well! Listen to it!
Runners up would be Christmas Dinner Country Style (Bing!) and Mele Kalikimaka (Also Bing 😉).
Non-Traditional Christmas Songs (Christian)
5. Let the Joy Begin
4. Everything Changed That Night
3. The Wealth of A Thousand Kingdoms
2. Elizabeth’s Song
1. How Should a King Come?
Each of these songs have such an amazing angle on Christmas! Three are Majesty music (5-3). I’m not sure where Elizabeth’s Song comes from, but it is about Mary visiting Elizabeth and John leaping in the womb. So Pretty! And How Should a King Come! AHHHH! I love this song so much! You just need to hear it…
Was that not epic?!? (Please excuse the video being from The Nativity. I do not endorse or recommend that film!) This is a song I look forward to hearing every year!
What are your favorite Christmas songs? Make a list and share them on your blog if you have one, or share them with a friend! Make a playlist and enjoy the sounds of the season!
Merry Christmas and don’t forget to hop over to Stories by Firefly for more Christmas fun! Be sure and come back tomorrow for Part 7 of Stille Nacht!
Christian. American. Southern. Author.