Spotlight on A Big Apple Christmas anthology
Today, I have the privilege of featuring not one but FOUR authors.
So... what do a Canadian, a Yankee transplant from Texas, a New Jersey lady, and a Latina from Manhattan have in common? A BIG APPLE CHRISTMAS. As we get into the Christmas season, may this book help encourage the festive thoughts. Enjoy!
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Vasthi is a native New Yorker. she resides in the Washington Heights/Inwood neighborhood of Manhattan with her husband and two teenaged children. She is excited about writing stories that bring a message of hope through Latino characters.She wants readers to find themselves reflected in her work and to learn about her heritage and her hope, God. She wrote "Gifts from the Magi" in this anthology.
Gail is the author of over 30 books and, when she's not busy writing or doing Mom's taxi, is active in her church where she plays bass guitar (loud) for her worship team. Outside of church, she plays in a local Jazz band, and that's loud too. Gail Sattler lives in Vancouver, BC, where you don't have to shovel rain, with her husband, 3 sons, 2 dogs, and a lazy lizard named Draco, who is quite cuddly for a reptile.
Lynette works full-time as a medical transcriptionist for a large HMO. But that's just her day job. In her spare time, she loves to spin adventures for the characters who emerge from story ideas in her head. She hopes to spread the truth of God's love and person while taking readers on an entertaining journey. She's part of the on-line blog team at Keep Me In Suspense, and is a past Secretary of American Christian Fiction Writers. Lynette is a Massachusetts transplant, who makes her home in Texas with her husband, two kids by love and marriage (what's a step-kid?), and five cats who have their humans well-trained.
Carrie and her husband Scott have been married for thirty years and live in beautiful Central New Jersey. They have five grown children and two grandchildren. When she is not writing Carrie enjoys working in her flower gardens, cooking for friends, spending time with her family, and walking around the lake near her home. She also teaches women's Bible studies and has spoken for women's events. Carrie is an award-winning author of several novels and novellas.
A BIG APPLE CHRISTMAS
By Vasthi Reyes Acosta, Gail Sattler, Lynette Sowell, Carrie Turansky
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1. A Christmas-themed anthology set in New York City. Just in time for some enjoyable Christmas reading. What gave you the inspiration for this story?
Vasthi - Growing up in New York City, as a small Puerto Rican girl, I loved the fact that Christmas didn't end on Christmas Day. I still had El Dia de los Tres Reyes (Epiphany or Three Kings Day) to look forward to. We received gifts on that day too. The night before epiphany, tradition dictates that water and grass be left out to assist the wise men along their journeys to Bethlehem, to worship the new born King. In return the three Kings left a small gift. Curiously, I never worried about how they reached a fifth floor apartment. Santa Claus made it up there, why couldn't they?
Gail - As soon we began to talk about the theme of New York City, I immediately thought about what it was like to be shopping in New York, the busiest city in the world, during the busiest shopping time of the year, and imagined what it would be like to be lost in the crowd, and my story just happened.
Lynette - I think New York is a special place at Christmas time, and I'd always wanted to write a Christmas novella. Then one November, I saw a news clip of how the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center is selected. Enter my widowed heroine and her scheming children who surprise her with a trip to see her tree in Rockefeller Center.
Carrie - Lynette approached me with the idea of joining her to write a Christmas anthology after she saw a news story about how they select the Christmas tree for the Rockefeller Center. We know there is a very magical feeling you experience in New York City at Christmas time, and we thought our readers would enjoy stories set there.
2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters in your story? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?
Vasthi - Most of the traits are each character's own. The only similarity to me is that like Cecilia, the heroine, I was a graduate student at Columbia University and I lived in Washington Heights.
Gail - I love to get lost in the wonder of the sights and sounds of a place in which I don't live. I love being a tourist! I also love the techie toys that both my hero and heroine love. the traits that are theirs alone are how they chose to deal with finding themselves alone in a crowd during the most joyous time of the year.
Lynette - Like my heroine Gwynn, I have an art degree and I love to paint...but I haven't done it in years. I'm thinking of picking up my brushes again. When in college, like Gwynn, I went to New York but it was only for day trips. I went to most of the locations that my couple does in the story. I think Gwynn is a lot more nurturing than I am, but she's older than I am, and she's a widow at the beginning of the story, so I drew on others' experiences for that aspect of her character.
Like Theophilus Stellakis, I can get impatient with people. After a hard day, it's tempting to become a hermit. But like him, I know that the Lord uses people to work in our lives. We do need people. Unlike Theo, I am NOT an expert in Chemistry and got a C+ in the class in high school. No way did I take it in college, either. Blah!
Carrie - The heroine is a professional organizer who thinks she can maintain control of her life by organizing everyone and everything. I tend to be like that at times, and I've had to learn to relax, let it go, and enjoy my home and family. And since I homeschooled my five kids, it was either learn to relax and allow a little chaos or go crazy. So I am glad to say I have mellowed out over the years.
My hero is a successful children's poet who I modeled after Shel Silverstein. Our family loved reading his poetry as the kids were growing up. I imagined that a poet would have to be a very creative person who even woke up in the middle of the night with ideas that had to be written down. Of course his spontaneous, creative personality is a direct opposite to the heroine's, so I thought that would be a fun contrast.
3. What themes exist in A Big Apple Christmas that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?
Vasthi (Gift of the Magi) - The idea that one must trust in God for everything and not rely on your own strength or wisdom.
Gail - I hope the reader sees that God wants us to have the desires of our hearts, but they often don't happen the way we want them to, or the way we envision they will happen. I did have the theme in the background that even though the story was about shopping, both the hero and heroine hated shopping at the beginning of the story, but by the end, they couldn't do enough shopping, but only when they were together. The theme would be that having an open heart can change our outlook.
Lynette - This story is mostly about Gwynn's journey, and as I started it, I realized it didn't seem like she had any "issues" in her life. Isn't it tempting sometimes as a writer to go easy on our characters? But then her plans went awry and even her life at home started to change while she was in New York. She tore her focus from herself and determined to find a way to make Christmas special for the Stellakis family, a father and daughter living separate lives under the same roof.
Another theme that surprised me is the fact that God delights in us, and there are times He enjoys showing us how much He cherishes us. Gwynn wasn't needy in the sense that she "needed" someone to love again. Both she and Theo had loved and lost, and had full lives. But part of them did, very much, want someone to love again. So those aspects were fun to discover.
Carrie (Moonlight & Mistletoe) - Sarah realizes that behind her desire to control everything are fears she needs to resolve. Learning to live by faith and trusting God to guide and protect is an important lesson for Sarah and a meaningful theme. The importance of honesty in relationships is another theme that grew as the story progressed.
4. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?
Vasthi - The most difficult parts to write were the romance scenes because I wanted them to feel real and not forced. My favorite scenes to write were the ones that involved Cecilia's crazy family.
Gail - I don't think I had a difficult part in this story. It was fun, and I enjoyed putting it together. My favorite would be in the subway, when Emily takes Bryan's picture when he doesn't expect it. I, too, am dangerous with a camera.
Lynette - Oh, ENDING the story was difficult. I fell in love with these characters and wanted to keep their story going. But the important thing to remember about a novella is that it's a tiny slice of a character's life, just a part of their bigger story to be told. My favorite part was the scene when Gwynn dragged Theo shopping on Canal Street and in Chinatown. Probably because I've done that myself! :)
Carrie - I think the most challenging part of the story to write was the ending. You want to tie all the threads together and be sure it is emotionally satisfying and leaves a lasting impression. My favorite parts to write are the funny scenes where the hero and heroine are wondering what the other is thinking. I like including some subtle humor in my stories.
5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?
Vasthi - My next book is a contemporary adaptation of the story of Ruth with Latino characters. I have three editors interested and I'm in the process of preparing the proposal.
Gail - My next book is actually already out right now. It's another novella anthology called Race to The Altar, and it's theme is love at NASCAR events.
Lynette - My next release is in March 2008 through Heartsong Presents: Mysteries. A Suspicion of Strawberries is my first novel, and it's a cozy mystery. My heroine runs a soap shop in a small Tennessee River town, and a bride-to-be dies my heroine’s store. Right now I'm working on book two which releases in fall 2008.
Carrie - I just sent a completed manuscript in to my editor at Steeple Hill. The working title is Surrendered Hearts. It is a sequel to my first Love Inspired novel Along Came Love. Here is the one sentence description: Scarred by an explosion and fire, a young actress seeks refuge in Vermont where she learns faith can overcome her fear and make her truly beautiful in God's eyes and in the eyes of the man she loves.
Thanks so much for doing this. God bless.
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Thank you, Vasthi, Gail, Lynette and Carrie, for being in the spotlight. Readers, leave a comment for your chance to be entered in the drawing for a FREE, autographed book. If you don't wish to be entered, but still wish to comment, say so when you post. This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.