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Monday, December 5, 2016

An Oklahoma Christmas read: Author Interview with Linda Brooks Davis

How did you come up with the idea of your Christmas themed book?
A Christmas to Remember is a natural next step after The Calling of Ella McFarland. Readers asked what happens with Ella and Andrew in the future. Since their love for one another is such a strong thread in Ella’s story, a Christmas novella focusing on them—and the challenges to their relationship—seemed a natural next step. 

In addition, in the last few pages of The Calling of Ella McFarland, readers learn Ella and Andrew have taken in five orphaned sisters. What better time than Christmas to see what’s going on with those girls?

Could you give me a short synopsis o
f the story for my readers?
Readers first met Ella in the multi-award winning, The Calling of Ella McFarland. They cheered as feisty Ella battled to raise women from dark places, and they fell in love with Andrew alongside Ella. In the novella, A Christmas to Remember readers revisit Ella and Andrew three years into their marriage. Oklahoma has achieved statehood, and life in the cottage on the banks of Rock Creek has changed. What could have prepared the couple for the challenges thus far? Or those ahead? It's Christmas, 1908, and Ella's life is about to be transformed. Again.

What made you decide to do a Christmas themed book?
What time of the year is more saturated in love than Christmas? What better gift is there than Jesus? What better time to focus on children? For a couple as deeply in love as Ella and Andrew, Christmas is the perfect time to highlight love, gifts, children, and Jesus.

What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?

My favorite tradition is our grandchildren’s gathering at our house for the opening of the ornament boxes. Snapping off the lids … folding back the paper … peeling aside the batting … and holding up the same ol’ ornaments never lose their appeal. The ornaments don’t change from one Christmas to the next. Nor do the stories that accompany them. “This tiny wooden angel was made in Germany and bought for your mother for her first Christmas” … “This one was from our trip to the Passion Play in Oberammergau” … “Your dad gave me this little hedgehog when he was nine” … on and on they go. Each lifting of an ornament from a box, holding it to the light, and recounting its history is a gift to me each year.

This year I went through my mother’s old ornaments and divided them four ways—for myself and my three brothers. Now the tradition that began in Mother’s living room and is continued in mine is multiplied four times over! Can’t get any better than that.

What’s up next for your writing?
I’m currently working on a second novel telling the story of a different character from The Calling of Ella McFarland. It’s set in 1914 Oklahoma but moves elsewhere. Stay tuned!

Any special awards or achievements you’d like to mention?
After winning the 2014 Jerry Jenkins Operation First Novel award, The Calling of Ella McFarland debuted in December 2015. It just recently won the 2016 ACFW Carol Award in the debut category. I never dreamed it would be so honored. The story is fictional, but it’s sewn together with threads of truth from my ancestors’ lives and the Gospel.

What’s the best writing tip you’ve learned or been give that you’d like to share?
From Jerry Jenkins: “Get the story down.”

This may seem like one of those “Duh” comments, but it couldn’t be more helpful to someone like me. I catch myself trying so hard to perfect a chapter, a paragraph, even a sentence as I go along that I can’t progress. And so the reminder to get the story down, that the first draft is me telling me the story, is a tip worth gold.

What do you know now about writing and publishing you wish you had learned sooner?
The publishing world is tough. Few velvet gloves exist even in Christian publishing. Not everyone will appreciate your story. Or come away inspired. Not everyone will rave about your prose. Or your captivating plot. But that’s okay. Not everyone drives the same make or model or color of car. Do we all enjoy sweet tea? Or choose shabby chic decor?

Readers’ tastes vary. And so do agents’ and publishers’. But that doesn’t change the why we write. Or the for Whom.

Any last words or tips?
Focus on why you’re writing. Prepare yourself. Put in the time and effort. And release the rest to God.

That's all for today's interview. If you'd like to learn more about Linda's writing and upcoming books, here is how to get started.
Twitter: @LBrooksDavis
A Christmas to Remember:
The Calling of Ella McFarland:

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