Songs for Christmas – Mary, Did You Know?

A more recent song which has touched hearts is Mary, Did You Know? – a Mark Lowry song, made popular by Michael English.

Mary, Did You Know?  was written in 1984, but not performed by Michael English until 1992 – when it truly became more popular. There are some poignant messages woven throughout this song, forshadowing the ultimate purpose of Christ’s incarnation.

Here is Kathy Mattea’s version of the song –

And here is the most recent recording of the song, performed by Clay Aiken –

So, what does award winning author, Deeanne Gist have to say about her favorite Christmas song?

My favorite Christmas song is the contemporary Christmas classic, Mary, Did You Know?  It moves me every time I hear it. It humanizes Jesus for me in a way no other song has. He is my Lord, my Savior, my Redeemer, my Groom. But he was also a man, born of the Virgin Mary. As a mom, I held my newborn babies praising God for such miracles, while simultaneously having no idea what life had in store for them–some of it good, some of it not so good.

 This song channels those feelings I had and then transfers them to Mary as I envision her holding her newborn the way I held mine. It makes me think about what it must have been like to have shepherds come and behold her baby, then tell her what the angels had said. I think my favorite, though, is the way the Scriptures say Mary “treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.”  That’s what this song makes me think about. And every time I hear it, I am blessed.
Wow – what would it have been like to be in Mary’s place?
Do you have a particular Christmas song you like that focuses on a specific person of the Christmas story? This one focuses on Mary (as does a later featured song, Breath of Heaven) – but are there others?
Don’t forget to stop by Friday for the song The Little Drummer Boy! Which author(s) chose this song as his/her favorite?

12 Songs for Christmas Blog Series

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas – so I thought I ring in the season with a blog series to help you rock around the Christmas tree.

Starting next week, some of your favorite authors will Deck the Blogosphere with some of their favorite Christmas songs. Don’t miss the opportunity to learn more about them and a little about the songs themselves.

From classic carols to newer choruses and popular music, there will be a grand array of music to jingle your Christmas bells with.

Next week, four lovely songs set the intro to this series:

O Come O Come Emmanuel

Mary, Did you Know?

The Little Drummer Boy

I’ll Be Home For Christmas

Stop by to learn which authors picked which song – from Melanie Dickerson, Siri Mitchell, Tina Radcliffe, Deeanne Gist, Rachel Hauck – and more.

May your days be merry and bright…and don’t forget to join in the Christmas fun.


The Yearning

Tomorrow is the first day of Advent – the time in which many Christians celebrate the ‘coming of the Messiah’.

Emmanuel – God with Us.

In celebration of this wonderful God-gift and in anticipation of His coming, our choir is singing a series of fantastic choir anthems. The first song is a new arrangement known as The Yearning by Craig Courtney. The words to this piece are absolutely beautiful.

There is a yearning of hearts weighed down by ancient grief and centuries of sorrow

There is a yearning in hearts that in the darkness hide – and in the shades of death abide, a yearning for tomorrow

Later on the piece reads:

There is a yearning for the One who visited His own and by His death for sin atoned

to bring to us salvation

Apart of beautiful words, the music stems from a feel of ‘yearning’. A call to all of our hearts that the Hope for our Salvation is not only real, but has already come. Jesus Christ

The fulfillment of every yearning in our hearts.

Follow this link and enjoy a new Christmas song for the season –

And speaking of songs – starting in December, I will be hosting Twelve Songs of Christmas – a celebration of famous Christmas songs and some of your favorite authors with chime in as to why it is his/her favorite!

Come join me for visits from Julie Lessman, DiAnn Mills, Ruth Logan Herne, Missy Tippens, Siri Mitchell, Rachel Hauck, Mary Connealy, Deeanne Gist, and many more!

Love on the Line with Deeanne Gist

Deeanne Gist’s newest novel, Love on the Line, is definitely a novel worth ringing home about. With rich historical detail, humor, suspense, and enough romantic tension to have all sorts of bells ringing, this story captures the essence of the changes during the turn-of-the century that affected the changing relationships between men and women.

Georgie Gail isn’t a typical Victorian gal. Besides having an occupation outside of the family, she’s strong-willed, smart, and a little eccentric (which is another reason she’s likeable). While she’s busy keeping the phone lines going in Washington County, TX and bird-watching on the side, an unlikely hero slips into her life.

Texas Ranger Lucious Landrum has a score to settle with the notorious train robber, Frank Comer, but the outlaw has evaded all of Lucious’ attempts to catch him. Assigned to go undercover as a telephone repairman, Lucious (aka Luke Palmer) has to work in close quarters with the sassy telephone operator. Sparks of all sorts fly between them igniting romance, humor, and intrigue that ends up shedding light not only on the truth behind Frank Comer, but the truth about what real love means.

From hat-making to sparkin’ to pistol-firing lessons and a little bit of everything else in between, Love on the Line is the perfect call for any romance reader.

There were moments I wanted to laugh out loud – pistol-lessons, luscious…

There were moments my heart squeezed from the tension – tweezers.

There were moments my heart ached for them both – betrayal & siblings

And other moments I wanted to sigh from the tenderness – phone calls, yellow dresses, & ice cream

It’s such a sweet story as only Dee can write. Maid to Match is still my all-time favorite of hers, but Love on the Line will definitely not disappoint. Fabulous & fun story!

Provided by Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

Fun Posts and a new Review

Hey guys,

I’m blogging at The Writers Alley on Monday about the Green Eyed Monster 😉

But Sunday, don’t forget to stop by and check out Jennifer Slattery’s post-conference tips.

And my review for Deeanne Gist’s newest novel, Love on the Line, is up at

A Bride in the Bargain by Deeanne Gist

Deeanne Gist is one of my favorite historical authors. I have a top 5 group. She’s among them. Her books are funny, deep, and beautifully written with fantastic characterization and swoon-worthy romance. A Bride in the Bargain is another great fit to her ‘brides’ collection.

 Deeanne brings her historical fiction to 1860′s Seattle.  Filled with lumberjacks, misunderstandings, and romance as big as the redwoods, A Bride in the Bargain is sure to tickle your funny bone and warm your heart.Joe Denton needs a wife…and any wife will do. Forced to ‘buy’ a wife from entrepreneur Asa Mercer, Joe plans to meet his new lady, marry her, and keep his hard-earned claim. Unfortunately, the bride he purchased has no intentions of becoming a bride at all.

Anna Ivey ran away from New England under the impression of becoming a cook for a lumberjack who would pay her way. With her painful history, marriage doesn’t seem to be a reasonable option for her future, but nothing could have prepared her for Joe Denton. Evidently, when this mountain of a man sets his big heart on Anna, not even the towering hurts of her past can withstand the strength in his love… or can it?  Anna’s a fighter and fear is a mighty foe.

Does Joe have the patience to chop down the wall protecting Anna’s heart?  Will he be willing to give up his dreams to win the love of a woman who might not love him back?

To find out, pick up this delightful read. Of Gist’s books, this would be third on my favorites list – Deep in the Heart of Trouble being second and Maid to Match in FIRST place. It’s definitely worth the time and the imagination.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Bride In The Bargain, go HERE

ACFW here I come

indianapolis-1872528_1920.jpgWell, I just had to share my news, cause I’m tickled down to my toenails.

Last night, my roommate and I ordered our plane tickets – the LAST thing we needed to secure our plans for the ACFW conference in Indianapolis. Yes, that’s right. My VERY first American Christian Fiction Writers Conference. I can’t tell you how excited I am.

I registered for the conference in June.

Secured the hotel the first week of July.

And now…plane tickets are a GO.

It’s a very real opportunity. Yipee kiyay!!

Why am I so excited? Well, here are a few reasons.

I’ll get to meet the SEEKERS!!!!! (waving to Julie, Mary, Tina, Ruthy, Janet, Myra, Camy, Cheryl…and all the other wonderful ladies at Seekerville)

I’ll get to dress up (Woohoo, banquet on Sunday night)

I’ll get to celebrate with the winners of the Carol Award (btw, 4 of my FAVORITE authors have finaled for this award in the Historical genre- you know who you are)

I’ll glean from all the great lectures and encouragement of being with other writers.

I might even get time to…write. I know, that might be pushing the possiblities a bit too far 😉

AND (drumroll please)

I’ll get to SLEEP!!! can you believe it? Three full nights without little people interruptions. I LOOOOOVE my kids, but oh my, what a treat to get an entire bed for an entire night. This may sound like a small celebration to some of you, but for those with kids (especially more than two with ages VERY close together) you know what I’m talkin’ about here 🙂

What a wonderful blessing and honor. I can’t wait.

And Mary, Julie, Janet, Myra, Deeanne, Laura, Cathy, Helen, Melanie…and so many other wonderful authors…

I reserve the write…er….right to get a hug and give a hug to each of you. So don’t be too afraid with this southern chic, with freckles and a somewhat insane look in her eyes, comes up to you. It’s probably me.

Are you going to ACFW? What are some of your favorite things about writers conferences?

Daggling the Reader by a Cliff

One of the hallmarks of a great story is the ability to keep the reader engaged. Now, of course, fantastic characters and riveting plots are the main contributors to fantastic novels. Conflict is another thing. But something else to remember in the grand scheme of a story, is the element of cliffhanging.

What is a cliffhanger?

According to, a cliffhanger is:

  1. a melodramatic adventure serial in which each installment ends in suspense in order to interest the reader or viewer in the next installment.
  2. a situation or contest of which the outcome is suspensefully uncertain up to the very last moment.

 So, how do authors do this? Let’s take a look at a some examples for the next few days to get a ‘taste’ for how the experts do it.

 I’m going to start by introducing you all to one of my son’s favorite authors. He’s quickly becoming one of mine too. Stephen Lawhead writes epic fantasy with historical threads, with Celtic and Britain mythology braided throughout. In his book, Hood, he takes on the tale of Robin Hood and brings it to life.

Here are the last few paragraphs of chapter one:

 As he turned to take the third attacker, Iwan glimpsed his king struggling to keep his saddle. He saw Brychan lurch forward and topple from his horse into the water.

 The king struggled to his knees and beheld his champion fighting to reach him a short distance away. “Ride!” he shouted. “Flee! You must warn the people.”

 Rhi Brychan made one last attempt to rise, got his feet under him and took an unsteady step, then collapsed. The last thing Iwan saw was the body of his king floating facedown in the turgid, bloodstained waters of the Wye.

 Now, do you wanna turn the next page and see what happens? Sure. You’re left wondering what’s going to happen next. You can’t just go to sleep now?

 Okay – okay, for those of you with a more romantic leaning, let’s visit Denise Hunter’s newest novel, Driftwood Lane. Can ladies who write romance create cliffhangers too?

“The fact is, the children are in dire need of your assistance, Meridith. Since Mrs. Hubbard fell ill, members of the church have been taking shifts. Very kind of them, of course, but it can’t go on. If you don’t come quickly, I’m afraid I’ll have no choice but to alert Child Protective Services. I’d hate to see the children go to foster care, even temporarily. And there’s no assurance they’d be placed together.

Foster care! Meridith imagined suited men coming into their home, carrying them off. She imagined the littlest boy, screaming for his mommy.

From somewhere deep inside compassion swelled, followed quickly by a surge of protectiveness she didn’t know she was capable of. She had no doubt there were decent foster homes. But the thought of the children being separated seemed cruel when they’d just lost their parents. Besides that, they were orphans. And didn’t he Good Book admonish them to look after the orphans?

She had to do something. It was her responsibility, even if she’d never met them, because T.J. and Eva had named her the children’s guardian. And because, like it or not, she was their sister.

 Yep, I’d say Denise does a nice job of a cliffhanger here at the end of chapter one.

How about one more for today. Let’s try Deeanne Gist’s novel, A Bride Most Begrudging.

“How dare you!” she cried. “You will not get away with this. Mark you, if you do not arrange an audience with the governor at once, I will create a commotion of such magnitude they will write legends about it.”

 The captain did not even bother to acknowledge her. “Throw her back in the hold, Cooper,” he said over his shoulder as he descended the steps.

 She filled her lungs with the intention of letting out a scream the likes of which would not be ignored. Before she could release it, the first mate squeezed a band of flesh between her neck and her shoulder.

Debilitating pain cut off her scream and buckled her knees. She crumpled to the ground. Cooper did not let go but followed her to the floor. She whimpered, trying to pull away from the torturous vice his fingers created.

     His hot, foul breath invaded her ear. “Not one sound, dovey. Not one.”

 What’dya think? The key element of the cliffhanger is creating a question in the reader’s mind. It’s an unsettling thing. That’s why snatching the reader’s emotions in the first chapter is so important. They HAVE to find out what’s going to happen to this character they ‘care’ about now.

 How have you created a cliffhanger in your WIP? Or novel? Is it a sufficient hook to make the reader HAVE to turn to chapter two?

Maid To Match by Deeanne Gist

Deeanne Gist does it again, and I must say that her newest novel, Maid to Match, is one of her best so far. Set in the beautiful Biltmore House of the Blue Ridge Mountains during the turn of the twentieth century, Gist brings the culture, class clash, and era alive.

 Tillie Reese is living her dream, or is it her mother’s dream? She is one of two women being considered as Edith Vanderbilt’s lady’s maid, a position that will promise prestige, financial security, and travel. All Tillie has to do is keep from falling in love with any other servants, especially the new, rugged mountain man-turned-footman, Mack Danvers.

 Sparks as brilliant as the electric lights in the Biltmore flash between Tillie and Mack from their very first encounter. As they work together to serve the Vanderbilts, and then protect the local orphans, their lives and hearts entwine in a dangerous way – a way that will certainly lead Tillie to answer a difficult question: What is God’s dream for her life?

 This book has so much romantic tension and conflict that the reader gets drawn in, unable to release the book until the end. Once I started reading it, I was stuck. Deeanne’s beautiful writing and descriptives bring the era to life, her characterization causes the reader to experience the conflict, humor, and romance of Tillie and Mack.

 I loved the hero. Mack is totally human – flawed, but carries enough manliness to fill up the entire Biltmore Estate. The reader feels his presence on the page as if he’s entered the room. The attraction between Tillie and Mack is palpable – at every encounter. I mean, this book is saturated with romantic tension. I love it.

 If you’re looking for a story filled with high-stakes romance and wonderful humor, Maid to Match is definitely for you.

 To learn more about Dee’s fabulous books (all of them are FANTASTIC), check out her website at


Hidee ya’ll.

So many people entered but only two can win.  But make sure you visit The Writers Alley on July 3 because Mary is going to have another giveaway for Doctors in Petticoats (and I’m sure she’ll have more giveaways at Seekerville.

So the winners are….

Deeanne Gist’s book Maid to Match goes to Jan Marie

and Mary Connealy’s novel Doctors in Petticoats goes to Casey Herringshaw

Please contact me at pepperbasham(at)yahoo(dot)com

Congrats – and look for more giveaways this week. Julie Lessman on Friday for sure