books

Top 5 Christmas reads

“The only other sound’s a sweep of easy wind and downy flake.” Robert Frost, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

Are there certain books you make time for, no matter how busy the holiday season? I know I have a handful that I come back to time after time. So, if you’re looking for a good book to curl up with anytime soon or you have other favorites to share, scroll on!

  1. Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. I’ve never seen the movie (Christmas with the Kranks) because I fear it won’t live up to the book. John Grisham’s legCIMG5821_edited-1al thrillers are amazing, but this novella displays the breadth of his range. Hilarious, wry, heart warming. It’s all there in this story about a couple who attempts to skip the holiday hoopla when their only child heads off to the Peace Corps.
  2. Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. This vignette of life at the edge of the American frontier is worth reading for the food scenes alone. Food, in fact, should be listed in the roster of characters, right alongside Ma, Pa and the rest. Sitting on pumpkin “chairs” in the attic. Making candy from molasses and snow. This is a book you can practically taste.
  3. Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, written by Robert Frost, illustrated by Susan Jeffers. Frost’s poem must be read aloud, with its whooshing alliteration that mimics snow. Jeffers’ mostly black-and-white illustrations are pure magic, full of hidden creatures and a story line of their own.
  4. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Christmas is laced through this coming-of-age story about a group of sisters whose father heads off to the Civil War. There are carols I’ve never heard before, food scenes, family, humor, heartbreak. A perfect read for a cold night.
  5. The Perfect Christmas by Debbie Macomber. She’s written a lot of beloved Christmas stories, several of them made into Hallmark movies, but this is my absolute favorite. A young woman disgusted with the dating scene (or lack thereof) employs a matchmaker who gives her a series of holiday-hero tasks before he will introduce her to her “best match.” The Salvation Army bell-ringing scene had me laughing so hard it hurt.
books, women, writing

Got build?

“Be patient! The Great Wall didn’t got build in one day.” today’s actual fortune cookie wisdom

God certainly has a sense of humor. If otters weren’t enough to prove that, my odd career trajectory would. There is absolutely no other way to explain why, almost four years ago, a journalist would sit down to write a romance novel, actually do so,debbienora.jpeg and Debbie Macomber would come alongside a few months later to help move things along.

Yeah, that Debbie Macomber. If you are not familiar with the queen of clean romance, or romance in general, this is a lot like a novice horror writer being befriended by Stephen King. Staggering. Gobsmacking. Miraculous enough to make one laugh with joy.

The first time we spoke — an incident prompted by an unlikely series of events that included a TV cop show that turned itself on in the middle of the night — my heart was pounding so hard I could actually hear it in my head. Whoosh, whoosh. Whoosh, whoosh.

As we’ve gotten to know each other over the last three years, however, her real star power has come to the forefront. Beyond the sales (more than 200 million books in print and more than 1,000 weeks on the New York Times bestseller list), beyond the Mark Twain-like humor and the Steve Jobs-like business acumen — there is an exceptionally decent woman. A Christian woman, in fact.

She’s suggested. She’s referred her favorite how-to books on scene pacing — slooooow down, deadline writer. She’s pointed me toward critical contacts inside the daunting labyrinth of the publishing industry. She’s been wise enough to let me fumble through the big decisions and the ever-present doubt and fear, pointing me to God instead of her own considerable industry know-how. In short, she’s stuck around as more than a mentor. She’s a friend.

That truly came home this weekend, when we met in person for the first time. She, one woman from her team of experts and I sat at a lunch table and strategized as to how I can enact a homespun version of social-media platform expansion that reflects her own. That’s pure Debbie. Graciousness and guidance. Not, “Let me do this for you.” Patience and encouragement. Not, “What were you thinking?”

It’s true. That’s what she’s like. That’s what God’s like. I hope that’s where I’m headed, as well, even if I don’t “got build” in a day.