Enjoy a contemporary romance collection of four heartwarming novellas that capture the sights and sounds of Christmas in New York City. Christmas plans are set askew when a schedule-bound professional organizer meets a free-spirited poet. Holiday bustle is the means two tourists try to use to get lost in the crowds. Christmas in Rockerfeller Center puts a widow’s dreams on center stage. The gift of the Magi comes full circle for two lonely Latinos. Romance is in the air from Fifth Avenue to Chinatown, but can faith bring the love home?
Below is my interview with the ladies who wrote A Big Apple Christmas .
Tell me a little about yourself.
Lynette: I’ve been married for almost 13 years, and I was the one who married into a
readymade family. I’m a Yankee who lives in Texas and I love have one foot in
each world. 🙂
Gail: I’ve been married for over 25 years (to the same guy) and have 3 kids, 2 dogs, and a lizard. I love to read, and I’ve recently joined a jazz band which is a lot of fun.
Carrie: My husband Scott and I have been married for almost thirty years. We are blessed with five great kids, a lovely daughter-in-law and two grandsons. I homeschooled my children for many years, but I recently “graduated” and enjoy having more time to write and be involved in ministry with my husband. When I am not writing I like to garden, read, cook for family and friends, and walk around the lake near our home.
Vasthi: I’m a Puerto Rican native New Yorker. Mother of two teenagers, my daughter Zila, eighteen, just started college and my son, Lucas, fifteen, who is a sophomore in high school. My husband of 27 years I met at youth group. I love ice cream (my weaknesses) and roller coasters.
How long have you been a author?
Lynette: I’ve written with the hope of getting published since 1998, but I didn’t get my
first fiction contract until 2005. I started writing when I was a kid, and it seemed
the most natural thing in the world to make up stories.
Gail: I started writing not too much before my 40th birthday. I refuse to do the math.
Carrie: I have been writing since 1999 and was first published in 2005.
Vasthi: This is my first novella published. I have had articles and reviews published though.
Tell me a little about your publication journey.
Lynette: Lots of persistence, tears, smiles. Lots of reading, lots of writing and deleting. I
found an on-line small group of writers back in the late 90’s. Some were
published, and a few were hopefuls like me. I am grateful to them for taking me
under their wings and letting me see what a writers’ life is like. I also attended
a lot of on-line chats that author Lynn Coleman hosted (one of the founders of
ACFW). I started attending writers’ conferences and met authors and learned
from them. All I can say is, what a giving bunch! I hope to give back what I’ve
Gail: When I first started writing, I wasn’t focused at all and just wrote for the sake of writing, loving it more as I wrote more. Then I found the guidelines for Heartsong Presents in a writers book at the public library. I submitted that as my first Inspirational novel, and it sold. The rest is history.
Carrie: I joined ACFW in 2000 and I have made some wonderful friends and learned a tremendous amount from this group. I met my agent and co-authors for the first novella project through ACFW. My first novella was “Wherever Love Takes Us” in WEDDED BLISS. I’ve also had a novel published by Steeple Hill Love Inspired – ALONG CAME LOVE, and two other novellas.
Vasthi: Carrie Turansky, another author in this anthology, invited me to join the group to submit the proposal to Barbour. I was thrilled to be included with writers that had so much publishing experience. I learned so much from them just in preparing the proposal that I thought that alone was wonderful. Then Carrie called me from the ACFW conference last year (a conference I had wanted to go with all my heart but we lacked the funds at the time) and told me we had gotten the book contract! I was so thrilled! My first book contract! But after I hung up the phone I started to question, had I heard Carrie right? Was I dreaming? Maybe they made a mistake. But it was all true. And the book is now here.
In your writing career have you ever had any big publishing mistakes?
Lynette: I’d say the times I forget it’s a business, and take things personally that I
shouldn’t. I didn’t make any mistakes anyone noticed in that aspect, but I know
I would have had an easier time if I adjusted my own attitude. And one time, I
talked to an editor after drinking too much coffee. Not good. But, live and
Gail: I’m not sure how to answer that. I can’t think of any big publishing mistake I’ve made. I don’t think I want to ask my editors about that, though.
Carrie: I have had wonderful editors who have caught the mistakes I’ve made, so that’s a blessing!
Vasthi: Not yet. I’m just starting.
Your new book is a collection of four Christmas stories, called A Big Apple Christmas. How did your story for the collection come about?
Lynette: I saw a news clip on the Today Show, about how the Christmas tree for
Rockefeller Center is chosen. That really inspired me.
Gail: It just felt fun, and right. As soon as the other ladies came to me with the idea, I knew I immediately wanted to join them, and I had an idea that was just begging to be used, so I did.
Carrie: Lynette Sowell contacted me and we talked about proposing a Christmas novella collection. We tossed around some ideas and decided NYC would be a wonderful setting for our stories. She invited Gail, and I invited Vasthi, and that’s how we got started.
Vasthi: My passion is to write stories that reflect my heritage and my faith. I wanted to write a story that reflected the Latino’s experience in celebrating the holiday. That is why my story focuses on Epiphany, the Three King’s Day celebration on January 6th, which is when the Christmas holiday ends for Latinos.
What is the hardest thing about writing a story for a novella collection?
Lynette: Keeping the continuity, especially if we’re all writing about the same family,
or in this collection, keeping track of the weather. 🙂
Gail: Length, or rather, the lack thereof. In a novella, every word counts because you don’t get very many. You still have to develop the characters, they have to grow and change, make decisions, work them out, and go with the plot and its ups and downs in a very short space of time. Writers are generally long-winded – that’s why we are writers, so at least for me, shorter is harder than longer.
Carrie: I think the biggest challenge is working out the initial plan for the project. Since we all live in different areas of the country this is all done by email. We are all creative, so there has to be a lot of give and take as we work it all out.
Vasthi: Cutting out all the precious darlings you just know can’t be in the story or it would be a novel.
What do you want your readers to take away from your story?
Lynette: God loves to bless us, not just with what we need, but sometimes, we
get those precious gifts that reminds us how much He cherishes us.
Gail: The knowledge that God will work everything out for an ultimate good, even if you don’t see it at the time.
Carrie: There are two main themes in my novella Moonlight & Mistletoe. One is to be careful about making judgments about people because of initial impressions. People may be very different than you expect, so it’s good to really get to know people and keep an open mind. The other theme is the power of faith to overcome our fears.
Vasthi: A taste of celebrating Christmas Latino style and the assurance that trusting in God is always better.
I have noticed that Christmas is a fairly popular theme for the new September releases. Do you have a favorite Christmas moment you would like to share?
Lynette: I love the moment on Christmas Eve, when the kids are in bed, and my husband
and I have played “Santa,” and we sit up and let the quiet settle around us and
watch the lights on the tree. Earlier that night, we’ve had about 50 friends and neighbors troop through the house and eat goodies. We celebrate loud, and then we celebrate quiet.
Gail: For me, Christmas time is family time. I think one of our most memorable moments, a favorite only because my husband and our sons all share the same quirky sense of humor, would be the Christmas when, just at the end of opening presents, and just when I turned off the video camera, the dog stepped on the tree stand, it broke, and the whole tree fell over on top of the dog and one of our kids, in the middle of all the torn paper and gifts still strewn about the floor. The tree didn’t look so great for the balance of that particular Christmas season, but we laughed about it all day, and then some. It may not sound funny to read this, but it was definitely one of those ‘you had to be there’ family moments.
Carrie: Christmas is a wonderful holiday for our family. We all try to be together to celebrate. We have collected ornaments from all our travels and enjoy unwrapping each one and sharing memories as we hang them on our tree. We also enjoy setting up for our Christmas Eve service and sharing that time with our church family.
Vasthi: My favorite Christmas moments center on food. I love eating pasteles, alcapurrias, pastelitos, pernil. All staples of the Christmas season in a Latino home. We’ve even put up some recipes on our web site because food is such an integral part of celebrating.
What is the best piece of advice you have received as a writer?
Lynette: In the beginning, it was “never turn down an opportunity to write.” I contributed
to several nonfiction books before my fiction sold. I received free/discounted
copies, sometimes a small payment, and I was glad to add the title to my
Gail: If you want to write, then write. Close the door, unplug the phone, and inform your friends and family that it is your writing time, and then write for that writing time.
Carrie: Never give up! It takes a long time to learn to write well enough to be published. Perseverance is key.
Vasthi: Discard the urgency to get published and just write. The urgency won’t let you enjoy the process of writing. And isn’t that why we write for the joy it gives us?
What has been your worst piece of advice you have received?
Lynette: Hmmm. That’s hard to say. If there’s something that I don’t think is a good idea,
I let it pass through one ear and out the other after I have a moment to ponder it. Can’t say as I remember any bad advice. Okay, maybe pitching an idea before it’s ready. That’s bad. You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Cliche, but true…
Gail: I don’t think I”ve recevied any bad advice. I generally ask for advice from writers who are well-established, and I’ve never been told anything bad or wrong.
Carrie: Most all the advice I have received has been very helpful. Sometimes people’s advice doesn’t seem to fit me and my career, so I just listen and thank them and let it go.
Vasthi: That there is no market for stories about Latinos in Christian fiction. But the minute I heard it I knew that wasn’t true.
Do you have any new books in the works for us to look forward too?
Lynette: I’m writing a cozy mystery series for Heartsong Presents: Mysteries. The
first one releases in March 2008, A Suspicion of Strawberries. It’s been
really fun, and also a learning experience, too.
Gail: I’ve got another novella anthology coming out soon – the set is called Race To The Alter, and my story is called Winner Takes All. It is set at the Talladega Speedway, at the time leading up to and including a NASCAR race. It was another fun story to write, so I think it will also be a fun story to read.
Carrie: I just submitted a novel to Steeple Hill that I hope my editor will accept. The Title is Surrendered Hearts. Here is the one sentence blurb. Scarred by an explosion and fire, a young actress seeks refuge in Vermont where she learns faith can overcome her fear and make her truly beautiful in God’s eyes and in the eyes of the man she loves. Please stop by my web site to see what’s new! www.carrieturansky.com.
Vasthi: I’m working on an contemporary adaptation of the Book of Ruth with Latino characters. It will be a trilogy titled, Mangoes and Apple Pie.
I want to thank you ladies for taking the time to answer my questions. I suggest that if anyone hasn’t picked up a copy of A Big Apple Christmas to do so now.