Tag Archives: Christmas

Author Interview – Kristy Cambron!

Kristy Cambron PromoI’m so excited to introduce you to Kristy Cambron! She’s a dear friend of mine who has been fascinated with history since hearing her grandfather’s stories of his experiences as a B-17 co-pilot in WWII. She writes vintage-inspired, historical Christian fiction titles, which placed first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations & 2012 FCRW Beacon contests, and finaled in the 2013 Lauries. Her debut novel, THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN (Hidden Masterpiece #1) released in July 2014 from Thomas Nelson (HarperCollins Christian Publishing), and is a nominee for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Inspirational Novel of 2014. A SPARROW IN TEREZIN (Hidden Masterpiece #2) will release from Thomas Nelson in April, 2015.

She’s a proud first-time aunt, who lives in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons (where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good Christian fiction read).

Butterfly and Violin

The Butterfly and the Violin 

“In her historical series debut, Cambron expertly weaves together multiple plotlines, time lines, and perspectives to produce a poignant tale of the power of love and faith in difficult circumstances. Those interested in stories of survival and the Holocaust, such as Eli Weisel’s Night, will want to read.” —Library Journal, Starred Review

“. . . debut novelist Cambron vividly recounts interwoven sagas of heartache and recovery through courage, love, art, and faith.” —Publishers Weekly

A mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz—and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl—a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover, the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul, who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together, Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting’s subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: in the grim camps of Auschwitz and in the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.

Kristy, The Butterfly and the Violin is a warmhearted, tender story set against the dramatic backdrop of World War II. What made you decide to choose this time period?

More than ten years ago, I was a young art student in a college history class. I remember the distinct moment when the professor presented a topic I’d never heard of – the art of the Holocaust – and I was captured from that moment on. I devoured books on the subject (especially Elie Wiesel’s Night, which I still read every year). I remember hearing that whisper in my soul, that this topic was special; the art of creation and worshiping God, even in the midst of the most horrific of circumstances one could imagine – it’s a stunning expression of beauty that I’m still trying to understand. And though it’s a very weighty subject, I wanted to give a voice to these known artists, to help others hear their story. So I stored the idea away, hoping that someday I’d know what to do with it. It just so happened that God opened the doors for it to become a book a decade later.

 I know you love Jane Austen novels, like I do. Were you influenced by Austen while writing The Butterfly and the Violin? Or by any other authors?

I actually started my writing career penning stories in the Contemporary Romance genre, though I noticed early on that all of my story ideas centered around vintage themes – including the writings of Jane Austen and Regency England. I’d written four contemporary manuscripts before I tried crafting a historical storyline. It was in writing the first few chapters of a historical novel that I finally felt at “home” as an author. Using the research from my undergraduate work in Art History/Research Writing years before, I was able to really dig in and focus on the topics I love in both art history and classic literature. So while Jane doesn’t have a specific mention in these books, I do mention other classic novels: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN, and Dickens’ Little Dorrit in A SPARROW IN TEREZIN.

My favorite novel actually does have a connection to classic literature. (Click here to see my Video Café segment, where I answer the question of my favorite books.)

Who is your favorite character in The Butterfly and the Violin, and why?

What a fabulous question! While many aspects of Sera’s character includes things I naturally gravitate to (Paris, art history, Manhattan, to name a few), I have always felt a particular kinship with Adele. I love her journey in this book. I was moved by the depth of her faith, and how it guided her in the most dire of circumstances. And her strength – even that which she wasn’t sure she possessed – was something that served as a witness to me in my own life. Portions of Adele’s story were edited while at the local cancer center as my Dad underwent chemo, and the remaining chapters were edited in the weeks after he’d passed away in late 2013. So the strength that Adele was able to summon in the midst of her grief displayed a deeper level of hope that even I could draw from as the author who created her.

What ways are you finding most effective for marketing your debut novel, and what are you planning to release next?

Right now, we’re working on bringing the follow-up novel to THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN to store shelves in April, 2015. A SPARROW IN TEREZIN tells the story of the children of the Terezin ghetto, north of Prague. The historical story continues with one character from The Butterfly and the Violin, as well as introducing new characters who live through The Blitz in London and the war-torn world of Nazi-occupied Prague. Sera and William will be back in the contemporary storyline, though their journey to happiness is tested in similar ways to the characters in WWII-era Europe.  

Readers can click here to read the back cover summary, and can click here to read a deleted scene from the book! And I hope everyone stops by my website in the weeks to come. I should have some exciting news to share about what I’ll be writing next. It’s still historical fiction, but it’s a new genre for me. I can’t wait to share this story with you!

Thanks for stopping by today. I love to get to know readers! I look forward to connecting with you on social media. And if you’re an aspiring writer, I hope to meet you at the national ACFW Conference in September 2015.

Butterfly and Violin

The Butterfly and the Violin, Hidden Masterpiece Book #1 – Available now – and a wonderful holiday gift!

A Sparrow in Terezin

A Sparrow in Terezin, Hidden Masterpiece #2 – Coming, April 2015!

With joy,

Kristy Signature

Kristy - Casual

 You can connect with Kristy at:

Twitter: @kcambronauthor – Facebook: Kristy Cambron – GoodReads: Kristy Cambron

Website: KristyCambron.com


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Time to Banish Your Christmas Cactus to the Garage!

Do you have a Christmas Cactus that never blooms at Christmas? Here’s the secret to GORGEOUS Christmas blooms:Flowers 010
This Christmas Cactus is the daughter of my mom’s plant – which is older than I am! She (the plant, not my mom) had a habit of blooming every few years or so in odd times like July. I’d read they need to be ignored in an attic or cellar to prompt blooming, but I never had the heart to force mine into dormancy until a few years ago. I did a little research, gave her a shot of Miracle Gro on the day after Thanksgiving, and banished her to my garage for the month of December, watering only a little bit once or twice a week. Voila! Buds started to form. I brought her back in and gave her nice, warm sunshine – and the buds did nothing. Back to the garage! This time the buds grew. I didn’t bring her back in until the first flower bloomed.

Flowers 022

Now she’s happy as a clam and blooms away every Christmas! It turns out Christmas Cacti need 13 hours of darkness at temps between 50 and 70 degrees F to be prompted into blooming.




Go figure. If you did that to me, well, let’s just say blooming’s the last thing I’d think of doing.

Flowers 020

After the blooms drop off, I give her a pruning haircut to stimulate thicker growth and more blooms for next year, and I’ll send her to the garage again next Thanksgiving!

Flowers 023


Filed under Cool Facts and Ideas, Holiday

Christmas in South Carolina

written by my daughter, Karen E. Hall

Christmas in the post-War United States (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

’Twas the night before Christmas; ’twas 70 degrees,
And people went round in short sleeves and capris.
Though decked all in holly and bright ribbons fair,
The windows were open to let in the air.
Downtown in shops was sold candy molasses,
To shoppers in flip-flops, wearing sunglasses.
At home in the neighborhood kids were at play,
In air that felt like Midsummer’s Day

Around the bright tree Christmas gifts lay by,
But the fireplace lay empty; the A/C was on high.
If not for the Christmas songs one well remembered,
One might have thought it was sometime in September.
Then Christmas Eve came, and a cool night it was,
But no one believed for one minute it’d snow.
The kids were snuggled all cozy in bed,
While visions of X-Box games danced in their heads.
Some dreamed of Barbies, and others of guns,
Anxiously awaiting the rising of the sun.
Then up came the sun and not a moment too soon:
Not a kid was in bed any later than noon.
They rushed down the stairs with a bump and a clatter.
Their parents knew exactly what was the matter.
The room was a mess, of course, in due time,
But the children’s glee was perfectly sublime.
Gift-wrappings, ribbons, paper, and bows,
Littered the floor like Siberian snow.
Outside the window the landscape was gray,
But no one quite noticed; they were used to it that way.
The turkey was cooked and the table was set
As the sun shone through the wide-open dining room windows.
There may be snow in those far northern states,
But we Carolinians are proud of our state.
We know it ain’t Christmas to some without snow,
But mark us, we’ll get some, by and by low.
We may have warm winters, brown trees, and clear skies,
But we’ve got warm hearts and streets safe to drive.
So when the weather gets cooler than sixty-and-two,
We’ll wish a Merry S.C. Christmas to you!

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Crock Pot Breakfast Casserole for Christmas Morning!

This looks absolutely delicious! From www.Time2TakeAction.net:

Breakfast casserole in the crock pot!


-1 bag 26 oz. frozen hash browns

-12 eggs 1 cup milk 1 tablespoon ground mustard

-1 16 oz. roll sausage – maple, sage, or regular

-16 oz. bag shredded cheddar cheese

-Salt and pepper

1. Spray crock pot and evenly spread hash browns at the bottom.

2. Crack 12 eggs in a large bowl.

3. Mix well (and slowly) using a whisk.

4. Add the milk.

5. Go ahead and sprinkle in the ground mustard. This might sound like a weird ingredient, but I’ve come to love (and use) this in most of my recipes.

6. Add plenty of salt…. …and lots of fresh pepper. Mix well and set aside.

7. Cook the sausage on high heat, drain and set aside.

8. Add sausage on top of hash browns.

9. Is this enough cheese? Maybe? Probably. Throw the whole big bag in there.

10. Mix it up well. Or good, depending on where you’re from.

11. Pour the egg mixture over everything in the crock pot. Using a wood spoon, even everything out so it’s spread evenly.

12. Turn the crock pot on low for 6-8 hours.
Some fun variations of this recipe. Before cooking (during prep) you can add:
chunks of sourdough bread, diced chili peppers, salsa, diced green onions

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Hope for Poinsettia Killers!


If you’re like me and LOVE beautiful, red-flowered poinsettia plants at Christmas but avoid taking them in because they unfailingly die slow, painful looking deaths in your house after the holidays are over, here’s some helpful info from:http://www.helpfulgardener.com/container/2003/poinsettia.html:


Poinsettias are a widespread Christmas tradition both for gift-giving and holiday decorating. Yet many of these lovely plants end up in the trash once the holidays are over. Your poinsettia will not only make a beautiful indoor plant all year long, but can also be coaxed to bloom again each year in time for Christmas.

Poinsettia Legend and History

Poinsettias (euphorbia pulcherrima) are native to Mexico and Central America. The Aztecs called it cuetlaxochitl. Poinsettias were introduced in the United States in 1825 by Joel Poinsett, the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, and quickly caught on as a popular Christmas plant.

Joel Roberts Poinsett, U.S. Secretary of War, ...

Poinsettias have thin, pale green leaves. When in bloom, they display brightly colored bracts (red, pink, or white) on the top of each stem. Although many mistakenly think that these bracts are flower petals, the actual flowers are the tiny yellow clusters found at the center of the bracts (Bract are simply leaves masquerading as petals). Another common misconception is that the plant is poisonous. Like most euphorbias, the sap is a little caustic and may cause skin irritation, and certainly indigestion if digested, but if you’re going to knock the hubby off for the insurance money (there’s a cheery holiday thought…), find another plant.

Forcing Poinsettias to Bloom

Poinsettias bloom in response to shortening daylight hours. If you wish to coax your poinsettia to bloom in time for the holidays, you will need to put the plant in total darkness for at least twelve hours (fourteen is better) each night for approximately ten weeks (this also applies to forcing Christmas Cacti to bloom). Late September or early October is a good time to begin this regimen. You can place your plant inside a box, a cupboard, or a closet to achieve complete darkness. Be sure to bring your plant out during the day and place it in a bright, sunny spot. After it flowers, gradually decrease the water until the bracts all drop, then allow the plant to dry out completely (like many of the euphorbias, this is a desert plant). Store in a place with cooler temperatures (50 degrees);  remember we are trying to recreate a Mexican Winter, so a 50 degree basement or garage makes a fine location.

When it really begins to warm up again (Late May for us, but just so long as you’re around 50 degree evenings), repot your mummy in the same pot with fresh soil and start to water again (we stopped gradually and that’s a good way to start) and fertilize (also gradually). Around August, cut the plant back by a third and make a decision. Do we want bushy with small flowers or shrubby with big flowers (my pick)? If we choose the latter we cut the plant back to three to five stems and grow it out (remember         gloves if you have sensitive skin). A poinsettia can look quite lovely when planted with foliage plants with contrasting leaf color, shape, and/or size. Don’t prune your plant any later than September, however,         if you wish to force it to bloom for Christmas.

Poinsettia Care

Poinsettias like lots of bright, indirect sunlight and prefer humid conditions (so you may want to mist your plant if your home is very dry due to heating or climate). As for watering, let the soil dry out between         watering. The soil should be dry to the touch. Also, be sure not to let  the plants pot stand in water at the plants base or saucer(A layer of pebbles in the bottom of the tray keeps the plant out of the water and         increases the humidity around the plant). Poinsettias are sensitive to extreme temperature, so don’t place your plant next to a heater or near a drafty window or doorway. A daytime temp of around 65 degrees         and nights around 60 degrees will provide perfect conditions for your  poinsettia. Whitefly can sometimes be a pest for this plant; check your purchase closely. If you pick it up, and things fly, and they’re white,         well, there it is. Pretty easily taken care of with insecticidial soap or my favorite indoor pesticide, pyrethrine (made of daisies; it’s organic and safe if you don’t drink it).Poinsettias

Poinsettias are a beautiful holiday tradition, but your enjoyment of these charming plants does not have to end when the Christmas tree comes down. With just a little effort, you can derive pleasure from your poinsettia all year long and bring it to bloom for many holiday seasons to come.

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Advent Meditation # 2

From John Piper’s Good News of Great Joy Daily Advent Readings

For God’s Little People

“In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus

that all the world should be registered. This was the first

registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And

all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph

also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to

Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem,

because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be

registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child.”

—Luke 2:1–5

Have you ever thought what an amazing thing it is that God

ordained beforehand that the Messiah be born in Bethlehem

(as the prophecy in Micah 5 shows); and that he so ordained

things that when the time came, the Messiah’s mother and

legal father were living in Nazareth; and that in order to fulfill

his word and bring two little people to Bethlehem that first

Christmas, God put it in the heart of Caesar Augustus that all

the Roman world should be enrolled each in his own town?

Have you ever felt, like me, little and insignificant in a

world of seven billion people, where all the news is of big political

and economic and social movements and of outstanding

people with lots of power and prestige?

If you have, don’t let that make you disheartened or unhappy.

“For it is implicit in Scripture that all the mammoth political

forces and all the giant industrial complexes, without their

even knowing it, are being guided by God, not for their own

sake but for the sake of God’s little people—the little Mary and

the little Joseph who have to be got from Nazareth to Bethlehem.”

God wields an empire to bless his children.

Do not think, because you experience adversity, that the

hand of the Lord is shortened.

“It is not our prosperity but our

holiness that he seeks with all his heart.”

And to that end, he

rules the whole world. As Proverbs 21:1 says, “The king’s heart

is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord; he turns it wherever

he will.”

He is a big God for little people, and

“we have great cause to

rejoice that, unbeknownst to them, all the kings and presidents

and premiers and chancellors of the world follow the sovereign

decrees of our Father in heaven, that we, the children, might be

conformed to the image of his Son, Jesus Christ.”

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Meet JoAnn Durgin, Author of Meet Me Under the Mistletoe

I had the privilege of meeting JoAnn Durgin at the 2011 ACFW Conference in St. Louis, and was delighted by her warm, enthusiastic spirit. Her newest release, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, is now available from Pelican Book Group.

She was recently interviewed about her experience at SeriouslyWrite. I encourage you to check it out!

Pelican offers a Holiday Extravaganza where all new Christmas e-books sell for $1.00 during December. Here’s a link to learn more.

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Keeping Holy in Holidays

My conscience stabbed me in the back last week when our pastor Jim Britt asked, “Are we too busy celebrating the King of Kings to spend time with Him?” While I do have devotions every day, I’ve been as guilty as anyone lately of speeding through my precious time with God so I can get on with the task of speeding through all the other tasks and events of the holidays.

Our friend Uk Chong, serving God in Thailand, wrote on his family’s Christmas card this year, “We wish you the ability to focus on the birth of Jesus like the Wise Men did when they followed the star on their long journey. May all the distractions fall into the background and may the most glorious Christmas gift shine His light into your life.”

Charles Spurgeon wrote the following for December 25 in Morning and Evening, “It ought not to be true, but it is true, that our days of feasting are very seldom days of sanctified enjoyment, but too frequently degenerate into unhallowed mirth.” Thankfully, he also wrote, “Have you been forgetful of your high calling?…Then confess the sin, and fly to the sacrifice…This is the best ending of a Christmas – to wash anew in the purifying fountain. Believer, come to this sacrifice continually; if it is so good tonight, it is good every night. To live at the altar is the privilege of the royal priesthood.”

Let’s celebrate our Lord’s birth and enjoy our precious time with friends and family. But let’s never forget to honor Him in our hearts through every bit of it.

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