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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Lynn Gardner & Victoria Gunther - Countdown to Christmas 2009

1 Day until Christmas!

The LDSWBR Countdown to Christmas 2009 Contest ends tonight at Midnight, MST. Get your comments posted today!

Lynn Gardn
er is the author of 12 novels: ten in the gem series and two Maggie McKenzie Mysteries. Pursued is her most recent release. She also participated in Famous Family Nights with Anne Bradshaw.

You can purchase Pursued, as well as Lynn's other books, from Covenant Communications, Seagull Book, Deseret Book, Amazon, and through Lynn at lynngardner@verizon.net.

Visit Lynn at her website: www.lynngardner-author.com.

LDSWBR: What favorite holiday traditions do you and your family participate in every year? Will you be starting any new traditions this year?

LYNN: Since Christmas is my favorite holiday, we go all out. We decorate the house outside and yard with lots of lights and a lighted nativity scene. Inside, I remove books from book cases and use every surface available including the dining room buffet for my nearly 100 nativity sets that I've collected from all over the world. I have two children that travel internationally for their business and they have collected many for me. We chose some needy or lonely families to do the 12 Days of Christmas and deliver presents anonymously from the 13th through the 24th. The nice part of living in Southern California is that we don't usually have to trudge through snow and blizzard conditions to do it. I bake up a storm and take home made gifts to friends, and make tons of caramel corn to deliver to friends and neighbors. The caramel corn is our Christmas trademark.

We chose one present from under the tree to open on Christmas Eve so there was a lot of angst and feeling, smelling and shaking when the kids were little to find the most intriguing to open. It was always a huge decision: do we read the Christmas story first from the Bible or do we open presents first? Dad usually prevailed and the story came first, then the presents.

On Christmas
Day, my husband was always the first one up so he could light the fireplace or turn up the heat, get the cameras set up, and put on the Christmas Carols, the we would wake the kids. We open one present at a time, beginning with the youngest and go around the family. This can actually take hours because we have to examine each gift (and I have to write down who received what so they/we can write thank you notes.)

We have cinnamon apple tea ring for breakfast (a tradition since the 60's) with hot chocolate, orange juice or egg nog. Dinner used to be a big affair, but I decided I was spending too much time in the kitchen and not enough enjoying Christmas with the family, so when my husband was on a remote tour t
o Turkey (we are an Air Force family) we decided hot fresh rolls with sandwich fixings and Christmas salads and desserts was much easier, so that is now our Christmas menu.

I love all Christmas music (though I can do without the noisy renditions of some.) When the kids were little, we lived in Austin, Texas and saw The Nutcracker Ballet every year.

LDSWBR: What books are on your Christmas wish list this year?

LYNN: Way too many to list, but on the top are Jennie Hansen's Shudder, Betsy Brannon Green's Murder By the Book, Gerald Lund's The Undaunted on CD as I don't have time to read that huge tome, and Dorothy Keddington's latest. Also Chris Stewart's Seven Miracles that Saved America. Better stop there! :)

LDSWBR: What books have you purchased/will you purchase for loved ones this Christmas?

LYNN: I have given each of our children copies of Famous Family Nights, each family gets a C. S. Lewis collection of books and CDs of The Chronicles of Narnia and I made Shutterfly books for each one of the Christmas my husband was in Turkey. We were missing him and he was missing us, so we took Polaroid pictures of us decorating the house, making caramel corn and home made root beer, wrapping presents, etc. and I wrote a little poem to go with it along the lines o
f The Night Before Christmas. We made a little Christmas book and sent it to him. I scanned those old pictures and made each of us a permanent record of that time. I love Shutterfly books!

LDSWBR: Thank you, Lynn, for taking the time to share with us. Merry Christmas!


Victoria Gunther's first book, The Girl in a Whirl by "Dr. Sue" and Other Things that Women Do, was published in September 2009.

The Girl in a Whirl is available for purchase at Amazon, Deseret Book and all LDS book stores.

More about Victoria: Victoria Gunther earned an M.D. in the state of California, although it's taken her over thirty years to do it. (All those who do mothering in any form undoubtedly recognize how much work goes into obtaining a Mothering Degree.)

Victoria likes goodness, hot bubble baths, people who are kind, white-cheese popcorn, hugs from her kids, and kisses from her wonderful husband. She is not particularly fond of finding out about massive science projects that are due the next day, gruesome movies, dogs who discover an especially delicious piece of trash that they spread all over the entire living room, and seeing a daughter come home from her friend's house after they decided to play "beauty shop," with one of her ponytails cut off.

Victoria has ten children to whom she personally gave birth, as well as one wonderful bonus son. She and her husband Jay are thrilled to live just five minutes away from the beautiful Redlands California Temple with their last three teenagers. And even though she tends to be kind of an off-beat and crazy type, one of her overall desires in life would be to be able to help others to feel encouraged, strengthened, and reassured of their abilities to be faithful followers of Christ regardless of what their circumstances are.

Shanda here: Victoria is an inspiration to me because, as I recently learned, she and her family lost everything in October when their house burned down while they were at church, just after the release of Girl in a Whirl. She and her family have found themselves in circumstances this year that have tried their faith, yet she has endured with faith and gratitude. And Victoria has generously donated a copy of her book to our drawing. Thank you, Victoria, for being an example.

Visit Victoria on her website: http://girlinawhirl.com and her blog: Victoria's Place.

LDSWBR: What favorite holiday traditions do you and your family participate in every year? Will you be starting any new traditions this year?

VICTORIA: We choose a few people or families (from 1 to 3 depending on the year) to do the Twelve Days of Christmas for. We try to choose those who perhaps have had a hard year, or a new family in the ward, or maybe someone who doesn't seem to get noticed much. Some of our kids' favorite memories involve different stories about when they were sneaking up to a door to secretly deliver that day's gift and how they almost got caught when someone had jerked the door open all of a sudden, or about how they had to try to hide behind that skinny little tree, or and so on.

Some years we do what we call "Shepherds Night." We all come together by the Christmas tree when it's getting close to bedtime, with all the lights in the house off except for the lights on the tree which represent being under the stars. We have a simple shepherd's meal with things like olives, dates, goat cheese (which they've all decided is yummy!), grapes and bread. We talk about what it must have been like to be one of the shepherds who saw the angels announcing the Savior's birth and got to go see him. Then we all sleep under the "stars."

New traditions..... Ha! Yes, this would be a great time to start some new traditions, wouldn't it!

LDSWBR: What books are on your Christmas wish list this year, Victoria?

VICTORIA: Oh my gosh. What a question! Let me say that I absolutely ADORE books and ALL of ours need to be replaced. We love books at our house, but I think I love them most of all. So I'm up for just about any one of several zillion!

LDSWBR: What books have you purchased/will you purchase for loved ones this Christmas?

VICTORIA: Hmmm... Let me think....

Brianna, My Brother, and the Blog by Jack Weyland and Eyes Like Mine by Julie Wright for our daughter. She has (well, used to have....) everything either of them have written and they're both so wonderful for teens to read.

Nephi's Isaiah by Denver Snuffer Jr.
The Second Comforter by Denver Snuffer Jr.
A Mother's Book of Secrets by Linda Eyre and Shawn Eyre Pothier
What a Friend We Have in Jesus by Chieko Okazaki
Almost Sisters, Three Tickets to Peoria, and Surprise Packages by Anderson,Littke and Morris
English Trifle by Josi Kilpack
Ripley's Believe It or Not--Seeing Is Believing
Women of the Old Testament by Camille Fronk Olson

...and more. Those are the ones I've gotten that I can think of right now.

LDSWBR: Thank you, Victoria. We wish you the best and have a very Merry Christmas!

This is the last Countdown to Christmas 2009 author post. It has been a lot of fun getting to know these authors a little better and adding their books to my own wish list. I've also added some new traditions to our existing ones. I hope you've enjoyed our Countdown to Christmas as well.

After reading about everyone's favorite holiday activities, the one thing that everyone included was FAMILY. Some families are big, some small, but every single one matters. When all the decorations and gifts and what-not are stripped away, Christmas is family- our physical AND spiritual family. This time of year it's easy to remember that we are all brothers and sisters with a loving older Brother who came to earth for us, and a Heavenly Father who loved us enough to send Him.

I don't have any questions for you to answer today, but I would love to hear your thoughts about the Countdown to Christmas 2009 event (likes and dislikes), how you feel about what you've read in the author posts, this Christmas season in general, even your testimonies about our Savior.

Sheila, Hillary and I thank you for your participation. We're especially grateful to those who continue to read our blog and listen to our podcast. We enjoy sharing the love of books with you.

Don't forget to check back tomorrow to see the winners of all our wonderful prizes :).

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Don't forget to nominate your favorite 2009 books by LDS authors for Whitney Awards by December 31! Can't remember what you read? Visit the LDS Publisher blog for a list of books published by LDS authors in 2009.

***Countdown to Christmas Contest***

LDSWBR will hold a drawing on Christmas Day for a $25 eGift Card from Deseret Book, as well as a variety of books being offered by some of the LDS authors that will be featured on the blog. Simply post a thoughtful comment on the Countdown to Christmas author posts to enter. Here are the rules:

  • LDSWBR reserves the right to decide what determines a "thoughtful" comment.
  • Only one comment per person per "Countdown to Christmas" author post will be entered into the drawing. This allows the potential for 24 entries per person at the end of the contest. Feel free to comment more than once per post if you'd like, but only one comment will be accepted as an entry.
  • Contest ends at 12:00 Midnight MST on December 24, 2009. Drawing winners will have until 12:00 Midnight MST on December 31, 2009 to claim their prize. After that time, another name will be drawn to receive the prize.
  • Book prizes can only be shipped within the contiguous United States.
Books that have been generously donated by the author for drawing prizes:
  • Loyalty's Web by Joyce DiPastena
  • Hidden Branch by G.G. Vandagriff
  • Altared Plans by Rebecca Talley
  • A Modest Proposal by Michele Ashman Bell (includes a bonus copy of Michele's Christmas booklet, A Candle in the Window)
  • Her Good Name by Josi Kilpack
  • MISSING by Ronda Gibb Hinrichsen
  • Famous Family Nights by Anne Bradshaw
  • Love Letters of Joseph and Emma (autographed copy) by Angela Eschler
  • Family Home Evening Adventures by Rebecca Irvine
  • Counting the Cost by Liz Adair
  • Shudder by Jennie Hansen
  • Mormon Mishaps & Mischief by D. N. Giles & C. L. Beck
  • Dawn's Early Light by Laurie (L.C.) Lewis
  • The Fairy Thorn (brand new release!) by Dorothy Keddington
  • Torn Apart (signed copy) by Diony George
  • Pursued: A Maggie McKenzie Mystery by Lynn Gardner
  • Girl in a Whirl by Victoria Gunther (just added!)
Thank you so much!


  1. I am really excited about the new author Victoria Gunther and her book. I went to her blog and read about her book signings in California at Ensign Bookstore. That brought back memories for me because that was the lds bookstore I always went to growing up. I loved hearing her positive attitude on her blog even after her house burned down. Your countdown to Christmas idea was great, I hope you do it next year! I loved learning about all the authors.

  2. i think it is wonderful because it helps people to get to know the new authors and decide if they wan to read there books

  3. It has been AWESOME getting to know so many authors! Thanks, ladies, for your time and efforts. It was a great week on your blog!

  4. This has been such a fun giveaway and a great way to read about some authors I haven't heard about. I've loved the question/answer interviews as well. Great job ladies! Hopefully you can do something similar next year with more authors!:)