Thursday, December 24, 2015

MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM THE SUSPENSE SISTERS!

Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas. Thank you for being our friends. We look forward to sharing more suspense and mystery with you in 2016. May God bless you, and may you always remember the "Reason for the Season." 



Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A CHRISTMAS STORY

                                              
The young couple knew the long trip would be difficult, but it was the Depression, and although there was no work in the small Texas town where they had started their married life, the husband had heard of work in California. So they packed up their car, praying that it would hold up for the trip. The wife’s father slipped a couple of crumpled bills into her hand and said, “In case of emergency, Honey.” Her mother stood nearby, twisting her apron, obviously worrying about her daughter but just as obviously trying not to show it.

The couple used up the last of the daylight driving. They had reached deep West Texas when they realized it was time to stop for the night. “We can’t spare the money for a hotel,” the husband said. “I’m going to see if the folks at one of these farms will put us up for the night.”

They pushed on between pastures marked by sagging barbed wire, the road a winding black ribbon in the flickering yellow headlights. At last the driver spied a cluster of lights in the distance. “I’ll try there.”

The man who came to the door wore overalls and a gray, long-sleeved undershirt. He didn’t seem to take to the idea of this couple spending the night, but his wife came up behind him and said, “Oh, can’t you see she’s pregnant. The hands are out in the north pasture with the herd, and the bunkhouse is empty. Let them stay there.”

In the middle of the night, the young husband was awakened by his wife’s cries. “I’m in labor.”

“But, you’re not due until—“

“Just get help. Please.”

He did. In a few minutes, the rancher’s wife bustled in, laden with towels and blankets. “Just put that down,” she said to her husband, who trailed her carrying a bucket of hot water in one hand. “Then you two men get out.”

Soon, the men tired of waiting outside and the rancher grudgingly invited the stranger into the kitchen. They’d almost exhausted a pot of extra strong coffee when they heard a faint cry. Then, “You men can come back now.”

The two men were halfway to the bunkhouse, following the faint light of a kerosene lantern, when three weary cowboys rode up and climbed off their mounts. “We saw lights on here. What’s going on?”
           
“Come and see,” the young husband said. And they did.

When he saw the mother holding a wrinkled, fussing newborn close to her, the gruff old rancher turned to his wife and said, “Well, Mother, I’m glad you talked me into letting these folks stay.”

“We had to,” she said. “It was a wonderful gift for me, seeing that little baby born. Who knows? Maybe he’ll grow up to be someone special.”

Now imagine that the scene wasn’t West Texas, it was Bethlehem. It didn’t take place in a bunkhouse, it occurred in a stable. And it wasn’t just a baby—this was God’s own Son. Does that make it more real to you? I hope so.

During this season, as you think about Jesus’ birth, don’t put him in spotless white swaddling clothes in the middle of a Christmas card. Picture him in the most humble surroundings your imagination can conjure up, the Son of God Himself in a diaper, born to give each of us the best gift we could ever imagine. 


Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 21, 2015

ANNOUNCING THE WINNER OF OUR CHRISTMAS CONTEST!!!!


 
CONGRATULATIONS TO WESLEY HARRIS! HE'S WON:

Books: Nancy Mehl’s Finding Sanctuary series, Elizabeth Goddard’s Mountain Cove series, Silent Night, Deadly Night, Fatal Trauma and Miracle Drug by Richard Mabry, the first three books in Ellen Kennedy’s Miss Prentice Cozy Mystery series, Dana Mentink’s Dangerous Tidings, eBook copies of Grime Beat and Grime Wave by Marji Laine, eBook copy of Christmas with Stormi Nelson by Cynthia Hickey, and an eBook copy of A Scottish Christmas by Roxanne Rustand.

Additional gifts: Candy, Christmas decorations, Christmas mug with hot chocolate mix. A $25.00 gift card to iTunes, and a $50.00 gift card to Amazon!

Thanks to everyone who entered, and stay tuned for more contests and prizes on the Suspense Sisters!

W
e pray you have a wonderful Christmas and hope you will always remember the real reason for the season. God bless you.



Saturday, December 19, 2015

THE SUSPENSE SISTERS CHRISTMAS CONTEST!



ONE PERSON WILL WIN:

Books: Nancy Mehl’s Finding Sanctuary series; Elizabeth Goddard’s Mountain Cove series; Silent Night, Deadly Night, Fatal Trauma and Miracle Drug by Richard Mabry; the first three books in Ellen Kennedy’s Miss Prentice Cozy Mystery series; Dana Mentink’s Dangerous Tidings; eBook copies of Grime Beat and Grime Wave by Marji Laine; eBook copy of Christmas with Stormi Nelson by Cynthia Hickey; and an eBook copy of A Scottish Christmas by Roxanne Rustand.

Additional gifts: Candy, Christmas decorations, Christmas mug with hot chocolate mix. A $25.00 gift card to iTunes, and a $50.00 gift card to Amazon!

To enter: Leave a comment, along with your contact information. You can enter twice if you also join our email mailing list! (U.S. only for prizes other than eBooks, please.) 






  


Friday, December 18, 2015

Happy holidays! from Roxanne Rustand

Best wishes to everyone here.  May the wonder of the Christ child's birth touch you this Christmas and bring you peace, happiness and hope in the coming year!

Though the true reason for the season has nothing to do with tinsel and bows, I have to admit that I so look forward to all of the decorating, baking and shopping for our family that usually starts the weekend of Thanksgiving.

And, being a true Minnesotan, I love snowy, wintery weather.  Both ice storms and blizzards are, I have to admit, exciting to me.  The thought of hurrying off to the grocery store for some extra supplies stirs the pioneer spirit, maybe. 

And maybe my sense of anticipation stems partly from all of those years in school, when inclement weather kept me close to  WCCO on the radio, hoping to hear that school was closed.  :)

This year, we had our first taste of what a far southern Christmas season was like.  What fun!  Our daughter and her husband live right on the Gulf, and we just returned from an eight day trip to see them.  All of those days were humid and in the 70's, T-shirt weather for sure.  The grass was green, the evenings balmy.  At first, the Christmas decorations everywhere seemed incongruous to us without a blanket of snow.  

But the evenings---how beautiful those Coastal towns are, with Christmas lights twinkling in the live oaks, and rimming the beautiful old houses.  We spent an evening in Bay St Louis for dinner and shopping, and pretty Christmas lights were everywhere--even on the sailboats docked along the shore.  There were carolers on street corners, small bands playing zydeco and Cajun music as we walked past.
And even, a live nativity scene at a Baptist church in town, with a large audience gathered to watch the story unfold.

The season is truly beautiful wherever we are, isn't it?  Because the true meaning is unchanging.
Where do you spend your Christmas season each year?  And what are your favorite traditions?

Blessings to you all!
Roxanne Rustand

USA Today bestselling author Roxanne Rustand is the author of over thirty-five traditionally published novels, and four indie novels.  A Golden Heart winner in 1995, she has received two RT Bookclub Magazine Reviewers' Choice Awards, was nominated for two others, and has been nominated for an RT Bookclub Magazine Career Achievement Award.  She is currently working on a three-book contract for Harlequin's Love Inspired line, and is continuing with self publishing.  She and her husband live in the country with three horses, two goofy rescue dogs, and a half-dozen barn cats.



Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The bittersweet of Christmas







Christmas has changed for me over the years. As a youngster, it was all about the fun and frolic, sharing my excitement with my three sisters. No matter if we were at my Grandma's palatial home in Florida, or our own little house in California, Christmas was always filled with joy and delight. When times were tight financially, I never noticed it. When there was tension over jobs and family disagreements, I was oblivious. There were still packages to be opened, meals to be shared, family to enjoy. Lately though, I've been seeing Christmas through a different lens, as loved ones age, as illness creeps in, as children grow and get ready to fledge. I savor the sweetness even more now because I see how incredibly precious the season is. So here are three Christmas memories that I will always savor.

1. Papa Bear proposed marriage to me next to his artificial tree (purchased for my benefit, I'm sure.) The tree is old now, scraggly and missing a few twigs, but it still sparkles in my mind.

2.  I remember the year I climbed up to put the angel on top of the tree and somehow it shorted out the whole house. Instant darkness!

3.  I recall the laughter on Christmas Eve every year when Papa Bear helps the cubs make their own pizzas. They're not little cubs anymore, but if I close my eyes I can picture them there, standing on chairs with their little aprons made by grandma. Sigh! Such sweet memories.

So I pray that your holiday is filled with joy, and if there is pain and loss this year, I pray that God will find you and fill your heart with peace. Please feel free to share your own Christmas wishes below. God bless you this Christmas season!


Monday, December 14, 2015

FROM OUR REVIEW PAGE!



From Marji:

All the way from New Zealand, Iola Goulton, our reviewer from the other hemisphere shares her thoughts about Denise Hunter's latest. This Christmas story seems to have it all! 

Check out the full review at our Review Page!

Thursday, December 10, 2015

LOVE, WAR AND CHRISTMAS


LOVE, WAR AND CHRISTMAS

By E.E. Kennedy

Our family, circa 1955. That's me on the left.

I grew up in a very Christmas-friendly family. My mother, especially, made sure we enjoyed all the traditions and frivolities associated with the holiday. I believe it stemmed from her own childhood in the Great Depression, where a minister and his wife raising three children had very little to give each other.

Even when she became an adult, WWII shortages and rationing made things we consider common today almost impossible to obtain. “What do you want for Christmas?” her elder brother asked her one year during the war. “A box of Kleenex and a streakedy-stripedy piece of candy,” was her sarcastic reply. Sure enough, that was what she found when she pulled off the wrapping, and she never forgot her disappointment. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons she made it her mission to make our Christmases memorable--and then some.

Mommy, as we called her, was scrupulously honest the rest of the year, but when it came to Christmas, she didn’t hesitate to lie, sneak and make up stuff, all so we’d have a breath-taking Yuletide morning. “All’s fair,” she would say, paraphrasing an old cliché, “in love, war and Christmas!” Santa was one such prevarication. She wanted us all to believe in the old guy. Once, I found a cache of small toys in a bedroom drawer and asked her what these were. “Oh, Sugar, Santa must have put them in the drawer for safekeeping,” she said. “Let’s leave them there and see who he gives them to later.” I bought it. After all, I was only a kid.

We lived in Northern New York State, near the Canadian border. My mother was a wartime transplant from the Deep South—Alabama—and brought traditions from there, such as a delicious fruit dish called Ambrosia, consisting of oranges and shredded coconut. (Nothing else; she was a purist.) If it snowed, we made “Snow Ice Cream,” which seemed to also come from a popular southern recipe. A big bowl of fresh snow was doused in milk, sugar and vanilla and eaten quickly, before it melted. Another tradition was called “Christmas Eve Gift,” where the family member who said it first on Christmas Eve won. There was no prize, just bragging rights. Even today, cousins and aunts call us on the phone and yell “Christmas Eve gift!” when we answer, just to get the drop on us.  

Though you could cut her Dixie accent with a knife, she embraced the “Yankee” traditions, too. She made tourtiere, a dense and extremely rich French Canadian meat pie. It became the Christmas Eve meal. She pulled out all the stops, using heavy cream and adding my favorite, mushrooms, to the filling. In order to keep up Santa’s globe-trotting reputation, Mommy and Daddy would travel to Montreal to get candies from around the world for our stockings. (I have no idea when they had time to do this; perhaps when were in school? After all, the big city was just an hour away.) I especially remember some wonderful hard candies filled with exotic fruit preserves—quince, for instance. I’ve never encountered quince outside of a poetry book, but we had quince candy!

I remember decorations that I don’t see much of today. On a table in the living room, there was a little kind of gold-colored contraption involving a candle, which would slowly whirl little angels around in a circle and there were also thin strands of a silvery substance called tinsel which we draped generously on the tree to represent icicles.
This was before my little sister was born.
We look serious, but we were just back from the midnight service and were ready to get to sleep!
(Please also notice the tinsel!)

Of course, the real reason for Christmas was never very far from our minds. We would round up our friends in the neighborhood and stroll from house to house, singing “Away in a Manger” and “Silent Night” in well-meant harmonies. My mother was always the one who had hot chocolate and cookies ready for the singers. And we never missed the midnight candlelight service at our church. It was the one time we were allowed to stay up that late. We would each bring a “white gift,” a canned good wrapped in white tissue paper that would be given to the less fortunate.

I think my favorite Christmas Eve memory was at the conclusion of those midnight services when we would emerge from the warm sanctuary, our feet crunching on the ice and the moonlight sparkling on the surface of the newly-fallen snow. The stars would twinkle in the inky sky and I would wait until the very, very last minute to blow out the candle I carried as “O, Come All Ye Faithful” still rang in my ears.

Right before we went to bed in our new flannel pajamas, Mommy would gather the three children in the living room and my dad would read the Christmas story from the Bible. I don’t remember much about the gifts we got the next morning, but the warm, safe feeling and the joy of receiving the newborn baby Jesus into the world rings down the years in my memory.

As writers, we are instructed to write about what we know. Those who knew my mom will recognize her in Amelia's descriptions of her own late mother. And although my mother struggled with health issues during much of her life, she ended it well: loving God, always thinking of others and firmly fixing herself in the memories of her grandchildren as the "Pixie Dust Grandma." So, thank you, Mommy, for the wonderful Christmas memories. When I write my mystery series, I can't help but make it cozy. Now you know part of the reason.

~~~~~~~~~~


Ellen Edwards Kennedy, aka E.E. Kennedy, is the author of a cozy mystery series about a high school English teacher. The stories are set in the Adirondack region of NYS, where she grew up. The fourth one in the series, Incomplete Sentence, will be released February 1 by Sheaf House Publishers. Ellen and her husband live in North Carolina. Her website is www.missprenticecozymystery.com



 

Monday, December 7, 2015

A CHRISTMAS POEM By Cynthia Hickey

I DID NOT WRITE THE BELOW POEM, but in lieu of what's been happening in the world lately, I thought it very fitting.
 
 
 
 
A Christmas mystery collection. Only .99! Christmas With Stormi Nelson
 
Christmas is no time for a mystery...or is it?

Celebrate two Christmas's with kooky best-selling author and Private Investigator, Stormi Nelson as she discovers the true meaning of the season despite her family's mishaps and misadventures!
 
 
 

Multi-published and Amazon Best-Selling author Cynthia Hickey had three cozy mysteries and two novellas published through Barbour Publishing. Her first mystery, Fudge-Laced Felonies, won first place in the inspirational category of the Great Expectations contest in 2007. Her third cozy, Chocolate-Covered Crime, received a four-star review from Romantic Times. All three cozies have been re-released as ebooks through the MacGregor Literary Agency, along with a new cozy series, all of which stay in the top 50 of Amazon’s ebooks for their genre. She had several historical romances release in 2013, 2014, 2015 through Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents, and has sold half a million copies of her works. She has taught a Continuing Education class at the 2015 American Christian Fiction Writers conference. She is active on FB, twitter, and Goodreads, and is a contributor to Cozy Mystery Magazine blog and Suspense Sisters blog. Her and her husband run the small press, Forget Me Not Romances, which includes some of the CBA’s well-known authors. She lives in Arizona with her husband, one of their seven children, two dogs and one cat. She has seven grandchildren who keep her busy and tell everyone they know that “Nana is a writer”. Visit her website at www.cynthiahickey.com

From Marji:


This week, the review page analyzes a new release from Linda Glaz through Lighthouse of the Carolinas, FEAR IS LOUDER THAN WORDS. In addition to the "masterful plot of intricacies, red herrings, and unexpected detours" this story incorporated two unique devices that made the story even more interesting.

Find the entire review on the Suspense Sisters Review Page.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

And the winner is...

The randomly selected winner of a copy of Five Editors Tackle The Twelve Fatal Flaws Of Fiction Writing is Ginger Solomon. I'll be sending an email to Ginger, with a copy to Christy Distler, one of the editors, to arrange for delivery of the book.
Thanks to everyone for participating.
Richard

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Christmas Giving by Elizabeth Goddard


Christmas comes much too fast for me. I put up my Christmas tree and get out the decorations the day after Thanksgiving, but Christmas arrives in a month or less. While I’m not a big fan of celebrating Christmas before Thanksgiving, can we just move Christmas out some? Seriously, I’d like more time to enjoy the holiday and all the work I put into decorating my house.

I'd like to enjoy the spirit of giving longer, too. 

Since the Christmas season is only a month, it’s rush, rush, rush to make sure I've purchased all the gifts I need. I don't want to forget anyone! I know many people have been able to step away from the commercialization of the holiday, but I enjoy buying gifts with a certain freedom I don’t have any other time of the year. It’s a way of blessing others extravagantly, showing them love through a gift—which is our representation of God giving His gift of Love—His Son.  

Jesus is the reason for the season and it follows that giving to others is our way of celebrating Jesus.


Besides purchasing gifts, what other ways do you enjoy giving this season?

I pray you have a BLESSED CHRISTMAS!!!

Beth