Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Christmas spotlight on Robin Shope

I want to introduce you to a new friend of mine Robin Shope. She is a fellow Texan and works in the juvenile justice system with at-risk children. Robin is joining us today to tell us about her traditions and memories of Christmas. Her new novel The Christmas Edition is a fun romantic Christmas story with just a hint of suspense. Also Wendy has an interview with Joe McNamara at her blog. Be sure to visit for another chance to win.

Robin has offered to give a lucky reader a copy of her new novel so if you would like to win a copy please leave a comment and be sure to answer the question at the end of the interview.

So without further delay let's meet Robin.

Christmas carols are one of my favorite things about Christmas. What is your favorite carol?

My all time favorite is AWAY IN A MANGER…it brings tears to my eyes each time I hear it. The three last choruses are less well known but nonetheless my very favorite…
I love Thee, Lord Jesus
Look down from the sky
And stay by my side,'
Til morning is nigh.

Be near me, Lord Jesus,
I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever
And love me I pray

Bless all the dear children
In Thy tender care
And take us to heaven
To live with Thee there

Oh I love that carol. I heard my five and six year old singing it the other day.

I remember sneaking with my sister into the living room one day where the tree stood and together we untapped all of the packages to see what we were getting. Thinking that we would get away with our little caper we re-wrapped all of the presents. As my children would say we were ‘busted’ when our parents came home to presents that were not shall we say wrapped to perfection. Are you a person who loves the secrets and surprises or do you want to know what is hidden in the packages under the tree? As a child did you do any sneaking around to discover hidden presents?

My favorite holiday is Christmas. When I was a child I couldn’t stand the suspense of wondering what was in the pretty packages all tied up in a bow with my name on top. I did plenty of sneaking around. Let’s call it ‘investigating’. When I was ten I wanted a Patty Playpal doll but my mother said I was too old for dolls…because of that, I wasn’t sure if I was going to get one or not. I worried. Prayed. A Patty Playpal was the size of a small child, which meant I could buy her real clothes, not doll clothes.

One day near Christmas, when Mom was busy baking cookies, I snuck up the steps and went into her bedroom. I poked through her side of the closet, where all the packages were kept. I had to remain invisible so I didn’t turn on the light. Behind hanging dressed, I found the tall box holding Patty Playpal! Oh the joy!

But just knowing I was getting her wasn’t enough. What was her hair color? Was it black like I had asked? Or was it blonde like all the other dolls I had? Carefully, I opened the lid and tried to see the face of the doll. It was way too dark in the back of that closet to tell hair color. But her dress was checkered. I pulled a couple of strands of hair out (forensic evidence) and then crawled out of the closet and sat under a light. They were dark strands. I was getting the exact doll I wanted!
A few years later, when we moved from Chicago to Wisconsin, my mother left her behind. I was sad. But a few years ago, I found another Patty Playpal doll and bought her. Now an adult, I was just as excited as I had been as a child when I first saw her.
Oh a fellow sneak. hehe! I am always trying to stay a step ahead of my children now.

What is the best Christmas present you ever received?

Even though I loved Patty, she wasn’t my favorite. The best Christmas present I ever received was Amy…the ballerina doll! I am not sure if she was made by Revlon or Made. Alexander. But how I loved her. She slept in a doll canopy bed, next to my bed each night. She was the guest of honor at all my tea parties.

And then something happened. I gave her away. And a day later regretted it but it was too late. It was done. I cried. My mother told me that when something important goes out of your life it only makes room for something better. I applied that lesson years later when my husband and I found out we couldn’t have biological children. I looked for that something better and into my life came Kimberly and Matthew. We adopted them as babies. When Kimberly was eight, she wrote this story that I just summarized here and the book was published by Standard Publishing, A BEAR NAMED SONG.

Your mother sounds very wise. Isn't it wonderful that you learned that lesson young and were able to apply it as an adult.

When we grow-up our family traditions change to join with our spouse’s traditions. What traditions to you have that are different from when you were growing up?

A great tradition was we cleaned out the old toys and donated them. We also gave a portion of our allowance to The Salvation Army so other boys and girls could have a nice Christmas too.

As a family we always went to Christmas Eve Service and then we walked to the Catholic Church afterwards to look at their nativity scene. Only then could we return home to open our presents. When our children were small, they were in the Christmas service.

They also bought presents for the names on the Angel Tree. Now my children are grown. Kimberly has a house of her own and is expecting her first child this spring. My husband and I still attend Christmas Eve service and then come home to a quiet meal. Things are a bit different when your children become adults. It will be fun to watch my daughter build her own family traditions.
I love Christmas Eve service too. It is one of my favorite traditions.
What traditions do you hold most dear?
I really look forward to receiving Christmas cards in the mail with news of family and friends. When the cards arrive, my husband and I open them up at dinner time and read them aloud to one another. We talk about our happy memories. Then we hold hands and pray for the sender of the card before moving on to the next envelope. We keep the Christmas cards displayed on the mantle until after the first of the year. The following Christmas season, we make ornaments out of last year’s cards.

Christmas is a time that many memories are made. What is the best Christmas memory you have?

We moved to Texas when the kids were very little. Money was hard to come by that year although both my husband and I worked hard. I didn’t want to spend money on a tree when we needed food. The children came up with a wonderful idea!

Kimberly, Matthew and I made a Christmas tree from a long sheet of butcher paper and then painted the tree green. After it was dry, we hung it on the wall and then hand made the ornaments. It was the most beautiful tree we ever had. And although we didn’t have many gifts, we had lots of fun. My children learned from an early age that Christmas isn’t about buying things…its more important what you have in your heart then what you hold in your hand.

I imagine your children remember that Christmas too. What pet peeves do you have associated with the Holiday season?
Christmas is not a gimme season. The real reason for Christmas is the birth of our Savior and thinking of the needs of others. Helping others should be an all year around event.

I so agree with you. Everywhere we look we in our society we see the greed instead of the love of Christmas.

Could you please briefly describe your novel?

I can hardly believe it has been just one year since the idea for this novel came to me. I began writing it right after Christmas 2007 and completed it in six weeks. I expected my editor to send it back saying it was somehow flawed…that I had missed something really important; after all it did come together very quickly. But the opposite happened…one week later, my editor sent me a contract. It isn’t the Great American novel…but it tells a good story, set at Christmas time.

It’s filled with hope and the holiday spirit. It also tells of the Collin’s family traditions and how the heroine Lucy has been wounded by this tradition. Enter the hero Joe McNamara who cannot understand that sadness but wants to help Lucy anyway. However there is something from his past that he withholds from everyone.

This is my first contemporary romance book, although some feel it’s also a mystery. It is also written from two points of view, which was really a fun thing to do. We get Lucy’s point of view and later Joe’s point of view of the same scene. At times they interpret what happened between them very differently. Misunderstandings take place. I think this happens in real life because a woman’s perspective varies from a man’s. This is the perfect Christmas book, filled with all those sights, sounds, tastes of the season and a sweet love story of two people trying to connect and find true love.

Order your own copy of The Christmas Edition here

Visit Robin here for her blog or here for her shoutlife page

If you would like to win a copy of the Christmas Edition please leave a comment and answer if you are a peeker or do you love the suspense? As you know as a kid I did peak and sneak more than once to discover what my presents would be. What about you?
Please leave an addy in disguise (yourname[at]youraddress[dot]com) to keep the web crawlers from snatching it.
Be sure to stop by Wednesday for an interview with Lucy Collins the main heroine from The Christmas Edition. She has a special giveaway too.
***For an extra chance to win sign up for the email subscription***
The contest is limited to the United States and ends December 19th.


Anonymous said...

hello i look forward to reading your book.and would like to wish you a merry Christmas please enter me into your book draw thanks

Cheryl said...

I'm not a peeker. I just wait until Christmas and like the surprise. I would love to win a copy of your book. Please enter me in the contest. My email address is shryackmom[@]charter[.]net

Debra Ullrick said...

Hmmm A peeker or a lover of suspense. I'm a shaker. I used to love to feel the packages. To hold them and shake them to try and figure out what was in them. And of course I always got it wrong which was a fun surprise. *smiling*

Please add my name to the drawing.

How do you leave an addy in disguise?


Debra Ullrick
The Bride Wore Coveralls
Déjà vu Bride
Dixie Hearts, coming February 2009

Becky C. said...

I loved reading the interview.

I think I also was a shaker, and snooper, but never actually opened a gift!

Please enter me in the contest.

Thank you,

Becky C.


Pamela J said...

I didn't DARE go snooping in my folks' closet. Hot water isn't an accurate explanation of what I'd be in if I'd have been caught. But I loved seeing the gifts under the tree and my siblings and I spent hours studying the packages. We studied all the sides, perhaps shook them a little but never did I peak. Once I KNEW what I was getting from my older sister because we had shopped in the same store and came out with exactly the same long, slender box for the other one as was wrapped with our name on it. It was a doll but the most pretty one I had ever seen.
I love the mystery of the gift giving and wanted to hold that suspense in my own kids as they waited for the O.K. to open them. Our tradition was a married combination of two families. My husband always opened Christmas Eve but we had always waited for Christmas Day. We compromised by opening one or two the night before but the bulk of them on the Day.
I love the explanation of what this book is about: "romantic Christmas story with just a hint of suspense". Fits right in to the season, I'd say. Please enter my name in your drawing. Thanks.
Pam Williams
cepjwms at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

I am a non-peeker. We might have shook the presents as children, but I never opened it up. My 30 year daughter shared that she has been the most devious peeker since she was 4 years old. Just shocked me as I went to such great lengths to wrap them....she learned how to wrap form that I guess. LOL

Gayla Collins

shelburns said...

Hmmm...as a child, I too was a peeker, sometimes. As an adult, I love the suspense of waiting to see what's in the package. I would love to read this book!

Ausjenny said...

please dont enter me I love this book.

I was a peeker infact i knew where mum hid presents but i often got surprised cos i thought gifts were for my brother and they were for me.
now im a keep me in suspense girl. i like the suspense of it all.

Jo said...

I wasn't a peeker. I always liked surprises. Think it adds to the intrigue. Please enter me in the drawing for a copy of the book.


Donna Moore said...

I am so glad I am not the only peeker. I don't peek anymore but I did when I was a kiddo!

M. C. Pearson said...

I never peeked, but one time I walked in early and saw my parents getting a new bike ready for me...I felt so guilty that I cried for a week!

I'd love a hard copy of Robin's book!

4pearsonz (at) gmail (dot) com

Mimi Pearson

Michelle Sutton said...

That cover is so pretty, who wouldn't want to read it. :)

Martha A. said...

I do not like the suspense, but I know better than to peek as that would be cheating....so I would probably be a peeker, but I know better!


kalea_kane said...

Oh dear, I am a shaker. I was a peeker, but I realized it kind of spoiled the fun. Shaking was fun too, because I still got to guess. I loved looking at the pictures. Thank you for sharing! This blog is awesome!




grammyellen said...

i have to say that i grew up in texas.
i like to wait till the end to see who dun it.
when i was younger though i was a peeker.


bigguysmama said...

As a kid I think I tried to peek, but I was a stinker as a kid. When I became a single mom 13 yrs ago, I looked at all the gifts the family had sent because I could! I was so bummed Christmas day that there were no surprises, I've never looked again. None of my kids are peekers because they all hear moms depressings story and they understand wanting to have the excitement! They also obey, unlike me as a kid. :)

Merry CHRISTmas,
Mimi B

mnjesusfreak at gmail dot com