Thursday, November 08, 2012

THE CHRISTMAS STAR - Ace Collins - One Free Book

Dear readers, The Christmas Star is the first Christmas novel I read this year. It's a nostalgic tale from the early 1940s, with believable characters, who will steal your heart. I think you'll love it as much as I did.

Welcome, Ace. God has really been moving in your writing life. What do you see on the horizon?
In truth, I don’t know. The writing business is changing so much that we authors are not nearly as secure in the knowledge of looking ahead as we were a decade a go. Obviously I will be writing and I want to keep writing both fiction and nonfiction, but this changing market will have to determine what specific kind of writing that is. I truly believe that technology is going to open us new doors of opportunity for writers. So though I don’t know what is ahead, I’m excited about it.

Tell us a little about your family.
Kathy, my wife, is an education professor at Ouachita Baptist University and is the dynamic force in my life. She is constantly pushing herself and growing. It is a joy to be around her. Our oldest son, Clint, is a restaurant manager in Dallas, Texas, and our youngest, Rance, works for Warner Bros. in Hollywood. We also have three cats, all rescues, and two collies. One of our collies is a rescue who was born blind. Sammy is an amazing dog who is constantly teaching me the potential we have to overcome obstacles.

I attended Ouachita the first two and a half years of my college career and took one summer course at Henderson. Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
The direction my writing has taken has changed my habits in the sense as I write a particular style book I tend to read books of a similar style as research, but otherwise what I read is what I’ve read since my youth. I pour over newspapers and online news sites daily, I dig into books that feature history and still read lots of biographies. So I am pretty much in the same place I was in college with the addition of online reading.

What are you working on right now?
As with most writers, when not dealing with book deadlines I am working on a proposals. I have a journal where I write down ideas and, when I have time, develop those concepts into book ideas. I am really excited about a devotional concept I have right now (that’s something I’ve never written) and I have a dozen or so novels I am turning into book proposals. Those novels range from mysteries to romances, from historical settings, to modern day, from save the world adventures to one that takes place in a small town over a span of just a few days.

What outside interests do you have?
I love college sports! In fact I do play-by-play for Ouachita Tigers’ basketball games. I am active in church, attend the local colleges (we have two) various plays, musicals and concerts. I keep active running the Arkansas hills. I also have three classic cars, so cars shows take up a bit of my free time as well.

How do you choose your settings for each book?
In truth, I would love to write a detective book set in New York, but I never have because I simply don’t know the city well enough. Hence, I write about what I know. I pick places I’ve not just been to, but gotten a real feel for, places I can clearly see in my head. 

If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
Narrowing the list to one is really impossible, so it would vary day by day. As I watched a classic Hollywood film last night starring Jean Harlow, who died so young, today I guess it would be her. I have a fascination with classic film, I’d love to know more about the mechanics and dynamics. Tomorrow the person I pick might be Mark Twain.

What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
It is not really a wish, but rather a trait I didn’t have early in my career. I have always had wonderful ideas but didn’t have the self-discipline to flesh them out into books. So I guess I wish I’d know how fulfilling it was to bring characters to life because that might have forced me to develop the discipline to jump into fiction sooner than I did.

What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
Being in a college town, the lessons I’m learning now deal with optimism. I am surrounded by kids who truly believe they can make a difference! Just being around them gives me a boost of energy needed to make small impacts in my own world. So I guess I am finally getting closer to living out a life that is more mission oriented.

What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
I often lecture in college writing classes and when I do, I explain that a successful writer has to have unique vision. We must see what others miss. To go with that vision you have to have self-discipline and a thick skin. The latter is needed to withstand the rejections that are a part of this business.

Tell us about the featured book.
The Christmas Star is set between December 21 and December 25 in 1945. Our lead character is teenager who is filled with anger because his father was killed in the war and is one of those not coming home. Jimmy’s sense of loss pushes the boy over the edge and it takes a Christmas miracle to save him. In a real sense this book is about forgiveness and second chances that come through faith.

Please give us the first page of the book.
December 21, 1945 3:20 p.m.

It was doubtful that Sharp County had ever experienced such a collective sense of euphoria. First, the Great Depression and then the war had created an atmosphere of heartache, insecurity, chaos, and turmoil, tearing up families while dashing dreams and crushing security, but now there was a hope fueled by the fact that freedom had been preserved and “Peace on Earth” was no longer just a line on a greeting card, it was a reality. Christmas was more than just a holiday this year; it was a celebration! The promise that had been offered in Bing Crosby’s hit single “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” had been realized and for almost everyone in every corner of this part of Arkansas, as well as all over the United States, it was the most wonderful time of the year, the decade, and perhaps even the century.

December twenty-first was the day everyone in the rural school district, children and teachers alike, had been looking forward to. For those spending seven hours a day behind the native stone walls of Ash Flat High 3:20 p.m. was the moment when Christmas really began. As the clock signaled that specific instant and the final bell sounded, kids poured through the old two-story school building’s large oak front door and down the well-worn concrete steps like the bulls racing through the streets of Pamplona, Spain. Their warm spirits met a cold north wind as scores of enthusiastic kids rushed across the yard and onto Calvin Jenkins’ yellow GMC school bus. Other equally ecstatic youngsters raced past the mud-splattered vehicle, up the dirt road toward downtown Ash Flat just to spy all the wonder that was waiting to be discovered in the community’s handful of stores. Smiles and laughter were everywhere, as everyone seemed caught up in holiday spirit—everyone but Jimmy Reed.

While others rushed past at supersonic speed, Jimmy, a tall, thin, sixteen-year-old hung back at the top of the steps, a tormented look filling his deep green eyes. Dressed in a blue wool jacket that was about two sizes too small, he stuck his ungloved hands deep into the pockets of his patched jeans. In a sense, he was an outcast in a world of holiday cheer. For the boy, there was no light at Christmas, only foreboding darkness brought on by great loss. While all his friends saw Christmas as a joyous dream, to Jimmy it was a nightmare, a prison of loneliness and a day of despair. If Jimmy could erase any day from the calendar it would be December 25.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website is or they can join Ace Collins on Facebook.

Thank you, Ace, for helping us celebrate the season with a good story.

Readers, here’s a link to the book. By using it when you order, you help support this blog.
The Christmas Star

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link.


Patty said...

What a sad state for Jimmy to be in. Would love to read his story and learn more.

Patty in SC

Lyndie Blevins said...

Thanks for the opportunity to get this book.
Lyndie Blevins
Duncanville, Tx

Diana Gardner said...

Please enter me in the drawing. Thanks! Portsmouth, VA

Unknown said...

This sounds like a heart touching story, probably more truth than fiction in many cases...thanks for a great post, and chance to win, Ace and Lena.

marianne from northern Alberta


Ace Collins said...

Thanks for your wonderful words. The Christmas Star was one of those book that almost wrote itself. I had a wonderful, wonderful time taking the trip!

Ace Collins

karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read this novel...

kmkuka at yahoo dot com
from PA

Linda Kish said...

I would love to read this book.


lkish77123 at gmail dot com

sharon m. said...

Sharon in San Diego, Ca
I really enjoy Christmas books.
Christmas Star sounds like a good one. Please enter me to win.

Jo said...

Would love to read this book. Thanks for the opportunity.

Jo from Southern Arizona

Mary Preston said...

A fascinating time period. THE CHRISTMAS STAR looks to be such a heart felt story.

Mary P


Judy said...

This book sounds so good and I can't wait to read it! I would love to win a copy of it.

I enjoyed the interview. Sounds like Mr. Collins has an amazing wife and isn't ashamed to let the world know it!

Judy B from Indiana

rubynreba said...

I'd enjoy a Christmas book set in the 1940s. This is when my parents met and it would be enjoyable to read about this time period.
Beth from Iowa

apple blossom said...

love Christmas stories thanks for chance to win

live in ND

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Sarah Rebekah Richmond said...

Enter me!!

Diana Montgomery said...

I would love to read your book. Hope I can win. Thanks for the chance.

sharon m. said...

I really enjoy Christmas fiction.
San Diego

Hannah said...

This sounds like a good book :) I would love to win!
Hannah from CA

Nancee said...

I would love to win a copy of "The Christmas Star!" I've heard such wonderful comments regarding this book. Thank you for offering your interview and giveaway!
Nancee in Michigan

Shopgirl said...

I've heard great things about this book! I'm in MN.

Sharon Richmond said...

Enter me this book looks great!!
Sharon Richmond

spangldlady said...

I'd love to win The Christmas Star--it sounds like a good read set in a different time. Good interview too! Please put my name in the drawing. Blessings! Darlene from MO

Unknown said...

I love Christmas stories and can't wait to read "The Christmas Star." Thank you for the giveaway.

Val Pearson in Las Vegas, Nevada
lastnerve2000 at gmail dot com

Diana Montgomery said...

Thanks for letting me have a chance to win your book.

Nathanael Richmond said...

Looks Interesting!
Enter Me!
Blanch NC.

Liz R said...

I'd love to win this one! I'm a little bit late on this one, hope I'm not too late to enter!

Liz R in Al