Shannon here: Ellen E. Withers shares the inspiration for her novella, Carving Out Love, which is included in the collection, A Gift of all Time. I’m excited about this book since I’ve known all three authors for years, through local writer’s groups. Comment or answer the question in this post to enter the drawing for a print copy of the novella collection. Deadline: Sept 16th, 11:59 pm central time. Here’s Ellen:
What a blessing I received when offered the chance to write a novella for this Christmas themed collection, A Gift for all Time. Each story features a romance that emphasizes God’s gift of Jesus through the meandering journey made by a historical nativity scene. They take readers on a trip through three different sets of characters, in three locations, and in three eras. We designed our novellas to incorporate romance, adventure, and the love of Christ into this Christmas collection. All the stories share an uplifting romance and a message that God’s love never fails.
The first novella is set in the 1840s. An immigrant family experiences a catastrophe in a violent storm. They escape the riverboat with their lives, but all of their possessions, including their treasured nativity, are dumped into the Arkansas River. In the town of Van Buren, Arkansas, a young woman enlists a local blacksmith to help return a recovered heirloom, the treasured symbol of hope to its owners, before they continue their journey to St. Louis, Missouri. Sparks fly between the young woman and the blacksmith as they work toward this goal.
The second novella addresses the time when our country was divided during our Civil War. The nativity scene is now in Mexico, Missouri in 1861, a little worse for wear. A soldier recovering from injuries sustained in the War takes on the project of refreshing and restoring the set as a gift to his lady love. Discover whether his love and upstanding character convince his sweetheart to love him in return.
The third novella takes place in a new millennium. The nativity set is uncovered in an old church in the Arkansas River Valley. A college student and her new friend work to restore the spirit of a forgotten little town and the symbol of the first and most holy family becomes the focus once again.
My story is the Civil War era novella. I’m grateful for the opportunity to tell two love stories in my portion of this collection. One is a sweet love story between two young people, George and Alice, finding their way in a world at war. George is captivated by Alice’s spunk and her pretty appearance. Can a girl like her care for a man whose wounds left him with a permanent limp?
I have experienced those feelings of instant attraction to someone who became my husband for twenty-six years. It was fun to relive those emotions while writing a story about the mutual interest George and Alice felt for each other.
George hopes his talent for whittling beautiful things out of wood will impress Alice. Whittling became an art form during the Civil War because of the extra time soldiers had between battles. History reports whittlers from both sides would meet in peace and share tools and techniques related to their art.
The second love story in my novella involves the open heart of an older woman who nurtures an orphan lost in the world. Over the years, my faith has pulled me through a lot of heartache and taught me to count my blessings. By the time I was twenty-three, both my father and mother had passed. I experienced love from extended family members and I’ve wanted to incorporate the love I received from my relatives into my writing for a long time. The opportunity in this novella to write about the love between the orphan, the older woman, and her extended family gave me that chance.
My novella, Carving Out Love, is set in my hometown of Mexico, Missouri. I’ve incorporated some history related to the town being occupied by the Union Army from 1861 to the end of the conflict. In addition, I added a historically accurate sheriff who was a fair man to all, even though he was a Southern sympathizer.
Being able to collaborate with Jenny Carlisle and Tonya B. Ashley has been a gift from God. We live in different parts of Arkansas, so we communicated both in person and by email. Our task was to interweave these stories to have a similar message. I’m proud of our finished product and hope we will captivate our readers with the romance and faith that shines through each page of this collection.
Question for Readers: Do you have a favorite Christmas memory associated with a nativity scene?
I cherish a “foldout” nativity scene that belonged to my Grandmother when I was a girl. It now belongs to me. I put it on my fireplace mantle every year. It is wooden and the figurines are attached to the bottom of it. The bottom folds out to display the figurines and folds inside the creche when you need to store it.
About Ellen: Ellen Withers is a multiple award-winning fiction writer, freelance writer and retired insurance fraud investigator. She is excited about her mystery dual-time series, Show Me Mysteries, set in her picturesque hometown of Mexico, Missouri. Show Me Betrayal, the first book of the series, was published by Scrivenings Press on May 16, 2023. Scrivenings Press will publish Show Me Deceit, the second book in the series, in May 2024.
She is also proud to be one of three contributors to a Christmas novella collection titled A Gift for All Time, to be released September 26, 2023, from Scrivenings Press. Her novella, Carving Out Love, is the middle of the three chronological stories related to Christmas.
Ellen will soon have a nonfiction book to help writers win writing contests. Magic Words: Enchant Judges & Conjure Contest Wins for Novels, Short Fiction and Nonfiction is scheduled for publication by Scrivenings Press in March 2024.
Follow her column, How to Win Writing Contests, in Writers Monthly Magazine PDF. When not writing or reading, Ellen enjoys spending time with her family, traveling the world with her adventurous friends and performing with Top of the Rock Chorus, a Sweet Adeline chorus in central Arkansas. Learn more & connect:
About the novella collection – A Gift for all Time:
A beautiful hand-carved nativity set travels from its original home in Germany to a riverboat in Van Buren, Arkansas, in the mid-1840s, then to Mexico, Missouri, at the beginning of the American Civil War. More than a century later, it resurfaces in a tiny town in the Arkansas River Valley.
Three stories tell of the impact this treasure has on the families who own it. God’s love survives tragedy, turmoil, and even abandonment. His love is the gift for all, for all time.
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Come back Sept 12th for Shirley Gould!