Guest Post – How Veggie Tales Inspired a Biblical Novella

Today I’m featuring a guest post by author Amber Schamel.

Amber Schamel is a multi-published author of Christian Historical Fiction. Her passion for history and culture has led her to travel extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and the Holy Land. Amber is actively involved in her church and enjoys volunteer work and music ministry.  Raised in a family of twelve children and homeschooled throughout her education, she currently resides in the beautiful state of Colorado where she also serves as bookkeeper and marketing director for their family businesses. Find Amber on her blog, or on all the main social media sites:

http://amberschamel.com/
Blog: http://www.stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmberSchamel
Twitter: @AmberSchamel
Pintrest – http://pinterest.com/AmberDSchamel/

Amber Schamel

How Veggie Tales Inspired a Biblical Novella

It was a summer evening, I was in the kitchen making dinner while my little siblings (for some odd reason) were watching The Toy That Saved Christmas, a Veggie-Tales movie. My publisher had asked me to write a Christmas story and I was deep in thought wondering what I should write when I suddenly tuned in to what was playing on the screen.

Grandpa George was reading a scripture to Bob, Larry and Buzz-saw Louie. “And she brought forth her first born son and wrapped him in baby clothes and laid him in a manger.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait a minute, the passage didn’t say baby clothes. In the King James it says swaddling clothes. That got me to thinking, what exactly are swaddling clothes? Are they just baby clothes? Or is there another meaning to them?

I looked up the passage in Luke chapter two and noted that it was mentioned not only once, but twice that Mary wrapped her first-born son in swaddling clothes. So I began my research.swaddling

I found out that swaddling clothes did not necessarily mean that Mary and Joseph were poor or destitute. Swaddling clothes were used by people of all classes to wrap a newborn in hopes that it would help their limbs grow straight, as well as calm the babe. But if swaddling clothes were so common during that era, why was it specifically mentioned as a sign to the shepherds of who the Messiah would be? So I searched some more.

Another source said that in the eastern countries they would use a cloth to put between the yoke of an ox, and the ox’s shoulders. When Mary and Joseph were in the barn, they had nothing else to use, so they used this ox’s cloth that was translated as swaddling cloth to wrap the Messiah that would carry the yoke of our sin and bondage.

Many hours and websites later, I emerged armed with a ton of information, four different theories, and a story forming inside my head. So, I guess you could say that my new book The Swaddling Clothes was inspired by a Veggie Tales movie.

The things that inspire people, or give them an idea is very interesting to me.

What are some odd things that have given you an idea or inspiration?

*****

Download Amber’s newest release from Amazon, Kobo, or Barnes & Noble

The Swaddling Clothes


Christmas Is . . .

Last Sunday we were sitting in church with our five not-so-angels. As you mothers know, Sunday morning can turn from peaceful worship preparation to frantic survival mode in less than a second. This particular Sunday had more trigger points than usual:

  • It was Christmas program day. Not only that, but it was also last minute rehearsal day and we were having a potluck at church between the rehearsal and the actual program. I had promised to take sandwiches and squares.
  • I was expected to curl my youngest daughter’s hair and she doesn’t like anyone touching her. She didn’t want me to use rags in her hair the night before, so that meant I had to plan extra time into my Sunday morning routine.
  • The children had been promised horse-drawn wagon rides and caroling, adding more excitement to the already frenetic activity of the day. The wagon rides were supposed to happen the day before, but the weather had been frigid and the activity had to be post-poned
  • My husband was in the shower when I had hoped he would lend a hand.

Despite all the extra stress, we made it to church on time with everything done and all the props, clothing, and food we needed.

That’s when it happened: Pastor Kelly called all the children up to the front to say a prayer with them before they went to Sunday School. Our four younger children said goodbye to us and walked to the front. As the children were finding a place to sit, Pastor Kelly asked, “Are you getting excited about Christmas and presents and . . .”

Our son, Luke, blurted out, “Pastor Kelly, Christmas is NOT about chocolate or presents or trees or anything else. It’s about the KING!”

Wrapping paper

Those are words I’ll treasure for a long time. Some days when we are instructing our children, we wonder if anything is sinking in. This was a rare moment when we glimpsed the depth of understanding Luke has about Christmas. It’s even more special because although Luke has celebrated 13 birthdays, his comprehension is closer to that of a 5 or 6 year-old. He may not be able to understand numbers beyond 10, but in my mind, he understands something much more significant and important than anything he’ll ever learn in school. He knows that Christmas is when we celebrate the birth of our Saviour and King. Not only that, but Luke enjoys a personal relationship with his King and tells anyone willing to listen.

How would you finish the sentence: “Christmas is . . .”?

 


Area author publishes novella | Cold Lake Sun

Area author publishes novella | Cold Lake Sun.

By Theresa Seraphim, Cold Lake Sun

Monday, December 16, 2013 12:03:24 MST PM

“Cecile’s Christmas Miracle” is, indeed, ready for Christmas.

Glendon author Ruth Snyder’s story was released on Dec. 4. It is currently available on Kobo and will be out in print in the New Year.

Snyder, who has had articles published in Testimony, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and FellowScript magazine, said the story is about a girl who turns down her boyfriend’s marriage proposal to go overseas to help at a medical clinic.

“He can’t forget her and she can’t forget him,” noted Snyder.

She used the years she and her family spent in the past in South Africa and Botswana as reality background for the story. Historical events played a role, too, especially the discovery, in the early part of this century, of a cache of diamonds in Botswana, resulting in the forced eviction of people in the area. For example, in the novella, Cecile is told she has one day to pack up and get out of the clinic.

Snyder said she has always enjoyed writing, a pleasure that came with the exercise of letter-writing skills when her family lived in Africa.

“The only way of contact was through letters, so I learned to describe what was happening,” she said.

Then, several years ago, Snyder competed in a contest called Fiction in Five, in which writers were given a prompt on Monday and asked to use it to write a story by Friday.

“One of the prompts was ‘Christmas in the desert is so boring,’” she said, adding that’s the summer season over there.

“We used to eat watermelon and go swimming on Christmas Day.”

Snyder knew in August she would have to have “Cecile’s Christmas Miracle” written by Nov. 1.

“I wrote most of it in October,” she commented.

Snyder is currently at work on a full-length novel called Olga’s Discovery, a Canadian-based mystery dealing with a woman whose fiancé passes away – or may not have, as the case may be.

Snyder said her editor “is waiting for the first 20,000 words of (that) novel and she’ll give me a contract if she likes what she sees.”

Snyder is also president of InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship.

@ColdLakeNews


Guest Post: All I Want for Christmas Is

Today my friend and fellow author, Janice Dick, joins me on my blog. Janice Dick writes historical and contemporary fiction, inspirational articles, blogs and book reviews. She also edits and presents writing workshops.

Janice DickWebsite:  www.janicedick.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/janice.dick.56

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JaniceDick54

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jldwriter/boards/

Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/review/list/12780648

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/janicedick

Google+: google.com/+JaniceLDick

All I Want for Christmas Is . . .

I recently received a phone call from one of my grandkids, four-year old Jordy. He schmoozed a bit first because that’s what he does, then said something garbled about Christmas, followed by, “This…and this…and this…and this…”

“Jordy,” I interrupted, “do you have a list there?”

“Yes.”

“Have you been looking at the catalogue?”

“Yes.”

“Are these all things you want for Christmas?”

“Yes,” followed by a cheery goodbye. Mission accomplished.

Is that how my prayers sound to God? Do I schmooze my way into His presence with the prescribed praise, confession, thanksgiving, then get to the good stuff: my list of wants? Some of them are legit, some are just plain selfish. Sometimes I’m ashamed of how childishly I approach the Holy God.

But wait. Jordy’s chitchat didn’t bug me; I was more than pleased to hear from him. Sure, he was thinking of himself, but he also thought about me and took time to call—I know how he is. I loved piecing together the puzzle of his thoughts and deciphering his words. I guessed at what “this” and “this” might be. He made me smile and my love for him grew, as it does every time I see or hear from him.

I have a heavenly Father who adores me. He calls me the apple of his eye. Every moment of every day His thoughts are with me. When I rattle off my list of wants, He stoops to listen, and I like to think He smiles when He hears my voice. He knows how I am, yet His love for me is greater than I can dream or imagine. He tells me to approach Him with confidence and I am safe in His love.

This Christmas season I sense that Jesus is taking time to teach me—through the words of a child—how to love Him better. I trust His love and acceptance of me as much as Jordy trusts that I’ll open my arms to him when he comes for Christmas. And yes, there will be presents.

© Janice L. Dick

December 9, 2013

Check out Janice’s newest release, Other Side of the River, available from Amazon. (Currently volumes 1 and 2 are available)

Other Side of the River


Is God Enough?

There are times in our lives when all of us ask, “Is God enough?” We live in a fallen, sinful world where bad things happen to good people. I’ve had a few experiences in my life which have shaken me and forced me to think about what I believe and why.

  • Gifts from a loving God, the first piece I had published, details my journey through infertility and adoption. My husband and I were told we would probably never have children of our own. Several months later, I found out that I was pregnant. I was ecstatic! However, after a few short weeks I miscarried. I still grieve the loss of that baby. Is God enough? Yes!
  • We adopted several children, including twin boys who are now 13. We knew before we adopted the twins that they had special needs. They were born at 27 weeks gestation and were not expected to live because of their high needs. We found out several years later that they were born early because of abuse. More opportunity to grieve. Is God enough? Yes!
  • My dad was diagnosed with dementia about 5 years ago. It’s painful to watch his decline, to see him become a shell of the amazing person he once was. Is God enough? Yes!

I appreciate what Renee Swope challenges us to do in chapter 11 of A Confident Heart:

“Let’s make a promise that every time doubt casts its shadow over us, we will run back to Jesus, turn toward the light, and stand in the shadow of the cross where everything changes. In the shadow of the cross:

  • When you feel inadequate, God says: You are CHOSEN (Isaiah 43:10)
  • When you feel afraid, God says: You are REDEEMED (Isaiah 43:1)
  • When you feel unloved, God says: You are LOVED (Isaiah 43:4)
  • When you feel forgotten, God says: You are REMEMBERED (Isaiah 49:16)
  • When you feel insecure, God says: You are SECURE (Deut. 33:12)
  • When you feel unable or unstable, God says You are ABLE (Hab. 3:19)
  • When you feel worthless, God says: You are CALLED (1 Pet. 2:9)

Open book

Here are a few truths I would add:

  • When you are grieving, God says: I UNDERSTAND (John 11:1-35)
  • When you don’t know how to pray, God says: I’ll INTERCEDE for you (Romans 8:26)
  • When you are staring death in the face, God says: I am preparing a HOME for you. (John 14:1-3)

[youtube=http://youtu.be/yUR7BFTphmI]

As the Apostle Paul says, “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” (I Cor. 15:19) Fortunately this life is not all we have to look forward to – – we also have the hope of eternity in Heaven because of Christ’s death and resurrection. Paul ends his teaching on the resurrection of Jesus Christ by challenging us:

“With all this going for us, my dear, dear friends, stand your ground. And don’t hold back. Throw yourselves into the work of the Master, confident that nothing you do for him is a waste of time or effort.” (I Cor. 15:58 The Message)

When life throws it’s worst at us, we can:

  1. Stand our ground – meditating on God’s truths
  2. Refuse to give in – choosing to live by fact, not feelings
  3. Continue on in the work God gives us – stepping out in faith and allowing Him to work in and through us.

Is God enough? YES!


Blog Tour

Today I’m participating in a blog tour at the request of my friend and fellow author, Tracy Krauss. “Participating authors answer a series of questions about their writing, sharing their journey with other authors and interested folk.”

What are you working on right now? My first novella, Cecile’s Christmas Miracle, was just launched on December 5th. Besides spreading the word that it’s now available, I’m also working on a full-length novel, Olga’s Discovery, a Christian historical fiction work. My main character, Olga, is a first year teacher in rural Alberta. Her fiancee, Viktor, is far across the country in Ontario pursuing his dream as a science researcher. A serious accident, a mysterious and unexpected death, and a private investigation all challenge Olga to figure out who she really is and what she wants in life.

How does it differ from other works in its genre? The story is a mixture of historical fiction, romance, and mystery.

Why do you write what you do? Writing often helps me process things in my own life. I hope it will do the same for my readers. Writing is something that I not only enjoy, but I also feel compelled to do. I believe God created each one of us with unique abilities, experiences, and messages. I want to be faithful sharing my unique messages with people God brings me into contact with, whether face to face, on the internet, or through a story.

How does your writing process work? When I write, I generally work best if I have an overarching outline or plot. I need to know where I’m starting, a few major points in the middle, and where I’m going to end up. The details come as I write. I’ll do some preliminary research before I start writing, but my major research comes as I’m in the process of writing and I need details to fill out my story. The hardest part for me is getting the first draft written down. Once that’s done, I enjoy the process of editing and revising. I find it easiest to “write” at the keyboard of my computer. The only time I write with pen and paper is when I’m writing in my journal.

Look for these authors participating in the blog hop next week:

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What do you look for in a story?


Guest Post – Making Peace with Christmas

Today I’m sharing a guest post by Sheila Seiler Lagrand:

Sheila Seiler Lagrand, Ph.D., earned her doctorate in anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles. As an undergraduate at the University of California, San Diego, she studied anthropology and literature with an emphasis in writing. Currently she blogs at sheilalagrand.com. Sheila is a member of The High Calling. As a young woman she published poems in dozens of literary magazines. She has also contributed to anthropology journals and contributed a chapter to the book, Fieldwork and Families: Constructing New Models for Ethnographic Research.

More recently, her work has appeared in Wounded Women of the Bible: Finding Hope When Life Hurts, Paul’s Letter to the Philippians (BibleDude Community Commentary Series), and a few volumes of Chicken Soup for the Soul. Her Christmas tale Yankee Doodle Christmas releases December 12th as part of Kathi Macias’ the Twelve Days of Christmas series.

Sheila lives with her husband Rich and their two dogs, J.D. and Doc, in beautiful Trabuco Canyon, California. She enjoys serving at her church, Trabuco Canyon Community Church, gardening, cooking, and most of all, spending time with their children and nine (so far) grandchildren. She has lived her entire life in southern California, except for a year spent in French Polynesia as she conducted research for her dissertation. She doesn’t understand boredom and is passionate about words, their power, their beauty, and their care and feeding.

Her Christmas story, Yankee Doodle Christmas, releases this December. You can read more from Sheila at http://sheilalagrand.com

Sheila Seiler Lagrand

Making Peace with Christmas

In my strident youth I was a Christmas militant. I railed against the displays of candy canes and chocolate snowmen lurking about the bags of Halloween candy. I fumed as tinsel mingled with the harvest cornucopia in some kind of mall marketing miscegenation. I averted my eyes when neighbors’ Christmas lights brightened the street before we had celebrated Thanksgiving.

Not this year. Maybe it’s because I’m not as young as I used to be. Maybe it’s because the grandchild count has risen to nine—which means more gifts, more wrapping, more time to dream up selections that say I love you. Maybe it’s because I’m traveling across an ocean to spend Christmas with my daughter, her Navy-Chief husband, and their children on Guam. For all these reasons, I have overcome my Christmas-season-snobbery. Never again, Lord help me, will I judge the mom scooping up the latest Legos in October.

And never again will I jam all the gift-choosing, making, ordering, or buying into the precious few weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a legalistic maneuver all along, I see now, not a decision born of grace and joy. And what is more important at Christmastime than grace and joy? As I consider it today, I can’t even remember why I thought it was such an achievement to exhaust myself by squeezing every bit of preparation into a few short weeks.

Christmas TreeAfter all these hard-line years, it’s been deliciously daring to choose gifts in October, to be laying in stores of red-and-green tissue during the first crisp days of autumn.  Once I committed to changing my approach, and my attitude, about the Christmas schedule, I reaped an unexpected bonus: The rejoicing heart, the sense of blessedness as I reflect on the priceless gift of our Savior, the real key elements to the Christmas season, they kicked in early, too. Instead of three or four weeks of an overflowing heart, I’ve enjoyed the jubilation since late October.

I understand better now the friend who sings carols in March, the heart-sister who displays a Christmas tree all year long. I’ve been cheating myself out of a heap of exultation. So if we cross paths at the beach next summer, please don’t be surprised if I greet you with a hearty “Merry Christmas!”


Announcing: Cecile’s Christmas Miracle

Cecile's Christmas Miracle Book Cover

Today is the day Cecile’s Christmas Miracle becomes available! You can download your copy from:

At this point, the story is only available in e-book format. Keep your eyes and ears open for releases in print format in 2014.

Synopsis: It’s Christmas time, but Cecile is surrounded by heat, dust, strangers, and death. If she’d accepted Colin’s proposal and stayed in Canada, she would be enjoying a “normal” Christmas. Instead, she’s stranded in the middle of the Kalahari Desert, serving as the lone nurse at a mission clinic, faced with medical emergencies she wasn’t trained to deal with. Little has changed despite months of hard work. Cecile has never been a quitter, but she’s tempted to just pack it in and return home. She wants her life to make a difference. Did she mistake God’s calling in her life?

Bio: Ruth L. Snyder was privileged to spend the first ten years of her life in southern Africa where her parents were missionaries. She now lives near Glendon, the pyrogy capital of Alberta, Canada with her husband Kendall and their five young children. Ruth enjoys reading, writing, teaching piano, photography, crafts, and travel. She is a member of The Christian PEN, The Word Guild, and InScribe Christian Writers’ Fellowship. Learn more about Ruth and her writing at http://ruthlsnyder.com.