Christmas in July Reader Give Away

Happy Christmas in July! Welcome to the 17th blog in this Christmas in July Reader Giveaway, which runs July 12-23, 2021. At the bottom of each author’s blog post, you will find the secret words. Write them all down and provide the provide the entire answer on this Google form

Note: You must grab all the secret words from every author in the Christmas in July Reader Giveaway to be eligible to win a $400 Amazon gift card. At the end of this blog post is a link to the next blog, and so on, to the final blog post (20 in all). At each blog stop, the author will also give away a copy or copies of their featured Christmas book.

Don’t we sometimes need Christmas excitement in the summer months? I hope the Christmas in July Giveaway will add fun to your summer and the many books shown will fill you with reading pleasure.

Gift of the Magpie has a story before the story in how it was born.

One day, I perused Christmas book covers on Amazon. O. Henry’s story, “Gift of the Magi,” popped into my mind. Remember, that’s the story in which a couple agonizes over the gift they’ll give each other for Christmas. She cuts and sells her hair to buy a chain for his treasured watch, and he sells his watch to buy a comb for her treasured hair. 

On the heels of that thought, the words “gift of the magpie” flashed into my brain. Huh. How could I write a winter romance named Gift of the Magpie? Something different than O. Henry’s tale. Like popping popcorn, scene ideas populated my imagination. 

About that time, I read what author David Baldacci said in an interview, “If you can take a little slice of the world and a little piece of dirt and really focus on details, you can drive large, seemingly spectacular movements.”

Hmm. A snowstorm where they don’t have enough snowplows to handle the roads would limit the world. Richmond, Virginia, where I lived for about 30 years would provide a slice of the world. The area between, and including, the hero’s and heroine’s houses was “a little piece of dirt.”

So, on that limited turf, I focused on the details and the relationship between two opposites. Amanda and Cam’s story was born in Gift of the Magpie, a book that can lift reader’s spirits at Christmas or any time of the year.

Gift of the Magpie

What do a snowstorm, a deadline, and an embarrassing disaster have in common? Camden Lancaster.

Middle school English teacher, Amanda Larrowe must forgo the Christmas activities with family to meet the deadline on her middle grade book for boys. But when photographer Camden Lancaster parks a moving van at the house across the street after Richmond, Virginia’s huge snowstorm, Amanda plans to hide from the guy who ignored her following their perfect Valentine’s Day date in high school. Now, when Cam doesn’t recognize her on their first two encounters, she thinks it’s safe to be his fair-weather neighbor. Boy is she wrong.

The magpie is not a bird in the story.

For a chance to win one of two e-book copies of Gift of the Magpie (USA only, please), tell me what are Amanda’s (she has two) and Cam’s jobs in Gift of the Magpie’s blurb above. Three jobs in all.

Now it’s time for the secret words: done unto you.

Save the secret words, and when you reach the final blog, enter all the secret words on this form for a chance to win a $400 Amazon gift card!

Thank you so much for visiting! The final author on the tour is Sherry Kyle and her Christmas book Forever Yours This Christmas. You can find it at this link. Remember, this Christmas in July Reader Giveaway will end on July 23 at 8 PM EST!

A Lively Indoor Winter Activity for Children

“I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all people. Today … a Savior has been born to you … the Messiah, the Lord.” —Luke 2:10-11 NIV

image by benuithamann
image by benuithamann

Winter is upon us. Here’s my Christmas gift to you who have children, grandchildren, or teach preschoolers. In winter, children must often stay inside when it’s too cold to play outside. Here’s an activity to allow children to use their large muscles and expend their energy so they can sit awhile.

A Friendly Indoor Snowball Fight

Materials needed:

  • Inexpensive white panty hose or tights
  • Polyester fiberfill
  • White thread
  • Needle

Aim, ready, fire, laugh.
Aim, ready, fire, laugh.

Directions to make snowballs:

  1. Cut each leg of panty hose into 4-5-inch sections.
  2. Sew  one end of each section closed by hand or on a sewing machine. Don’t worry about neat stitches.
  3. Pack sections with polyester fiberfill to make balls.
  4. Sew open ends closed.
  5. Make about 25 “snowballs” for a good, but safe, battle.

Directions for play:

  1. Find a safe indoor area. If you don’t have a playroom or large area free of fragile or dangerous items, back your car(s) out of the garage. We use a large, open foyer.
  2. Place a rope, wrapping paper rolls, or yardsticks end to end to separate the space for a safer fight.
  3. Divide up children (and adults) and “snowballs” so you’ll have even, armed teams on each side of the “line.”
  4. Explain the rule that team members must not cross the line.
  5. Have an adult give the signal, “Fire away!” and start a mental or real timer for a minute of battle.
  6. Have an adult call, “Cease fire!” at the end of a minute.
  7. Declare the side with the least “snowballs” the winners.
  8. Play for ten to fifteen.

Alternate play: No sides, no teams, no rules, except banning physical contact.

I’ve used my “snowballs” for large-muscle play for years with preschoolers at home, in Sunday school, and at Bible Study Fellowship. No child was ever hurt when bonged in the face with one of these “snowballs.”

Have fun!

An indoor winter activity for children: a “snowball fight!” Click to tweet.