You know how much I love Christmas novella collections. Here's another new one written by these four ladies:
Now, ladies, tell us how did your story for the collection come about?
Jeanie Smith Cash: Tammy emailed to me and asked if I would be interested in doing a collection with her about four heroes that rescue four young women in distress.
Linda Lyle: Someone, I’m not sure who asked for people to work together on a collection centering around heroes. Almost a year later Barbour asked if we could change the setting to Christmas. We reworked our proposal and resubmitted. It was accepted.
Jeri Odell: I was asked if I would be interested in doing a collection about four women in distress that are rescued by old fashioned heroes.
Tammy Shuttlesworth: In my part of Louisiana, our fire department goes out the Saturday before Christmas and rides through our subdivisions and towns. Santa sits on top of the fire truck and waves and tosses candy. I remembered how my daughters looked forward to that day and asked myself, "What if there were a little boy who needed a dad, his mother who was worried about the decisions involved in raising a child as a single parent, and a Santa who knew Christmas traditions from different nations." The story grew from there.
What are you reading right now?
Jeanie Smith Cash: Kingdom Come the last book in the Left Behind series, and A Bride For Christmas. A collection by Linda Goodnight, Kelly Eileen Hake, Vickie McDonough, and Therese Stenzel.
Linda Lyle: I’m working on a Ph.D. in Instructional Design for online Learning, so I’m reading a lot of research. I’m also reading Beverly Lewis’ Abram’s Daughters series as well as a mystery from Barbour.
Jeri O’dell: The Shack (fiction) and Who Switched Off My Brain (Nonfiction)
Tammy Shuttlesworth: Since I'm a high school teacher, and since our school started this week, I'm reading lesson plans and getting familiar with Exploration of Space and Astronomy material as that's what I'm teaching this year.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
Jeanie Smith Cash: I have three Christmas collections published with Barbour: Dr. St. Nick, in Wyoming Christmas Heroes, A Christmas Wish, in Christmas in the Country, and a new one that will be coming out next fall, The Christmas Miracle, in Christmas Love At Lake Tahoe. I have several submitted to Barbour and a couple more in progress. I also have two short stories published in a local magazine.
Linda Lyle: I have four published with Barbour: The Plan, Elizabeth’s Choice, Dear Miss Lonely Heart, and City Dreams. I have another book that I’m trying to find a publisher for that is a romantic suspense and two new ones in progress.
Jeri Odell: I have published 8 novellas 8 short novels with Heartsong and one nonfiction book.
Tammy Shuttlesworth: I've written "A Different Kind of Heaven," "Healing Sarah's Heart," "Fishing For Love" in Attic Treasures Novella collection and "Outranked By Love" in Christmas Duty Novella collection, all for Barbour publishing. Other books are in the works...
What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?
Jeanie Smith Cash: Making certain our stories all coincide.
Linda Lyle: Making sure that any characters that cross stories are consistent.
Jeri Odell: Making certain our stories dovetail.
Tammy Shutlesworth: To me, the hardest part of writing connected stories in a novella is making sure you don't overlook the small details that keep the stories true to each other.
How did collaborating with this team impact you?
Jeanie Smith Cash: I really enjoyed writing with this team. Everyone was easy to work with and it’s very satisfying to see all of the stories come together when they’re finished.
Linda Lyle: Collaborating with this team was great. They were so easy to work with and everything just seemed to fall into place. It was almost two years from when we first started talking about a proposal to the actual sale. They were a great source of encouragement during that time and were willing to change a few minor things in order to make this collection happen.
Jeri Odell: Writing is a solo flight, so it’s always wonderful to do a project that involves human interaction.
Tammy Shuttlesworth: Having everyone on this team meet their deadlines assured me that we're all professional authors and take the talents we've been given seriously.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Jeanie Smith Cash: I have a book of babies’ names, sometimes I use it and sometimes I just hear one I like that fits my story. In this case I just liked these names and they fit my characters.
Linda Lyle: My main character came from the title of my story – Saving Christmas. I knew that her name had to be Chris, short for Christmas. The other characters were names of people that I have met over time and liked the sound of.
Jeri Odell: Kloie was my daughter’s nickname. Mel is my daughter-in-law and I based the character after her. I knew some Jolly’s and thought it would be a fun last name for a Christmas novella. I chose Holly because of the humor of Holly Jolly, and I just like the name Luke.
Tammy Shuttlesworth: I always start with my heroes name first, and so far, four out of five times, it's started with a "J." The fifth time, his last name was the "J." Just a quirk I've decided I want to use. For my heroine, she tells me who she is. She introduces herself as I start to define her background characteristics and personality before I start writing.
What did you want the reader to take away from your story?
Jeanie Smith Cash: How important it is to forgive. The Lord gave His life on an old rugged cross to forgive us from our sins and we as Christians need to remember that we all make mistakes, so therefore we need to be forgiving of each other and love one another as He loves us.
Linda Lyle: I wanted people to realize that we often want to pin the blame for issues in a relationship on the other person without really being honest with ourselves and realizing that both people in the relationship have some ownership in the problem.
Jeri Odell: The God connection. His love for each of us—no matter what we face in this life—is more than we can imagine or comprehend
Tammy Shuttlesworth: I'd like my readers to find love in their Christmas, no matter their circumstances. I know we all come from different backgrounds, but as Christians we all strive to reach the same goal; heaven.
Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?
Jeanie Smith Cash: Yes. To interact with and learn from other Christian writers, and to be a part of the prayer group.
Linda Lyle: Yes. I recently joined in order to have access to information and a critique group.
Jeri Odell: Yes. The people connection.
Tammy Shuttlesworth: Yes, I belong to ACFW. I like the support and encouragement of those who write the same type of stories I do.
Good, maybe I'll see some of you this week in Minneapolis. What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?
Jeanie Smith Cash: As you sit down to write always start with prayer for guidance. Remember that the stories come from the Lord and we should feel blessed that He’s chosen us to write it for Him. Someone helped you when you needed it, so try to return the favor by helping someone else.
Linda Lyle: Really, I received two good pieces of advice: start with prayer and do everything to the best of your ability because it is a reflection on Christ.
Jeri Odell: The Lord chooses who He uses.
Thank you, Jeanie, Linda, Jeri, and Tammy, for spending this time with us.
Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win one of the four copies of Wyoming Christmas Heroes.
Want to know more about these wonderful women? Here are their websites: