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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

VBT - Christmas Miracles

Today I'm hosting a very special virtual book tour by Kathy Carlton Willis Communications ~ Christmas Miracles by Cec Murphey written with Marley Gibson.

Award-winning writer Cecil Murphey is the author or co-author of 114 published books, including the NY Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (with Dr. Ben Carson). He’s also the author of When Someone You Love Has Cancer and When God Turned Off the Lights, both 2009 releases. Murphey’s books have sold millions and have given hope and encouragement to countless readers around the world. For more information, visit www.cecilmurphey.com.

Marley Gibson is a young adult author whose first published books in the Sorority 101 series were released by Penguin Group in 2008 under the pen name of Kate Harmon. She has a new Ghost Huntress series with Houghton Mifflin written under her own name. She can be found online at www.marleygibson.com

(Atlanta, GA) Many ordinary people experience Christmas miracles—those special moments during the season of giving and receiving when Christmas becomes more than just a holiday. In Christmas Miracles (St. Martin’s Press, October 2009), Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson share the stories of those who have recognized the special moments that transcend daily experience and transform their lives.

In these stories, people overcome desperate situations through a miraculous twist of fate—all during the most wonderful time of the year. A young boy sits down to read a Christmas book and discovers that his learning disability has vanished. A woman stranded in a blizzard is rescued by a mysterious stranger who she suspects is an angel. And a woman living far from home gets an answer to her prayer in the form of an unexpected gift.

Bestselling author Cecil Murphey says, “We all face discouraging times, whether it's the lack of money, being stuck on a road in a snowstorm, feeling stress, or being hungry and homeless. But God's help is available. I want readers to see that miracles do happen—sometimes simple, unexpected blessings or those that involve the supernatural. We start by asking, and in strange and wonderful ways God tiptoes into our dark nights; we experience renewed joy in life and witness God in action through people and unexpected events.”

Interview with Cecil “Cec” Murphey by Marley Gibson Co-authors of Christmas Miracles, from St. Martin’s Press


I am extremely privileged to have the opportunity today to talk to my friend and co-author, Cecil “Cec” Murphey, and to chat about our upcoming book, Christmas Miracles.

Marley: Cec, thanks for spending some time with me today.

Cec: Marley, it's great that you could take time away from important things like making a living to spend a little time with me.

Marley: I’m so jazzed about our Christmas Miracles book that’s coming out soon. I’ve had a lot of questions from folks wanting to know how we met, what brought us together, etc. So, I thought we’d do a back and forth on how it all came to be. Of course, I have to give props to our amazing agent and friend, Deidre Knight, for bringing us together. For those of you who don’t know, Cec co-authored the runaway New York Times bestselling hit 90 Minutes in Heaven with Don Piper.

Cec: I have to say thanks to Deidre Knight as well. Between Deidre and my assistant, Twila Belk, I've been able to sell quite a few books. 90 Minutes in Heaven has been my big book. I'm also proud of a book I wrote in 1990 called Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. The book has never been out of print and has hit close to four million in sales. Early this year, Cuba Gooding Jr. starred in the made-for-TV film version.

Marley: That’s amazing! You are truly prophetic and definitely “the man behind the words.” Now, people ask how we teamed up. Sadly, there was a personal tragedy that brought Cec and me together as friends.

Cec: True. In early 2007, our house burned and our son-in-law died. Aside from the grief over Alan, we lost everything. Deidre and Jan, my-then-assistant, sent the word out of our tragedy without telling me. I'm immensely grateful for every gift people sent, but I probably wouldn't have admitted I needed help and wouldn't have asked. They taught me how much we need other people.

Marley: Deidre put out a call to other clients of The Knight Agency, to help Cec and his family out in any way in their time of need. At the time, my company was moving and we were cleaning house. We had a ton of office supplies that we were either going to throw away or give to some of the charities the company worked with. I got my boss’ permission to send a large care package to Cec…full of office supplies for him to re-stock his writer’s office. You name it…post-its, staples, paper clips, pens, pencils, markers, white out, ruler, scissors, paper, notebooks, notepads, envelopes, a laptop case, tape, glue, folders, binder clips…etc. A veritable potpourri of office delights. I was hoping that it would help Cec have a sense of getting his office back so he could keep working.

Cec: Marley's gift was the most unexpected I received. We hadn't met, although Deidre Knight had spoken of her many times and kept telling me she was wonderful. I wonder if you can imagine what it was like for me to open that box from someone I didn't know. I saw all those practical things for my office and yelled for my wife. I felt as if I were reading a first-grade book. "Look! Look and see! Oh, look!" I was overwhelmed by the gift and even more to receive it from a stranger. Those supplies were the most practical gift anyone could have given me. I'm still using black paper clips and red folders from Marley.

Marley: Awww…thanks, Cec! I didn’t have to think twice about doing it. Writing is such a solitary “sport,” but the writing community always astounds me with how they help their own. Not long after that, over plates of spinach and Gouda omelets, Deidre introduced me to Cec in person and I was thrilled to finally meet the man behind the words. Deidre knew we needed to work on a project together and thus began our brainstorming. What did you think of that first meeting, Cec, and cooking up the idea to work together?

Cec: Deidre and I had already spoken about a Christmas book and I had some idea about what it should contain, but nothing had come together. One day Deidre told me that Marley was coming to visit her and she wanted us to work together on a Christmas project. Marley and I talked before we ate and again during the meal. Everything felt right to me. I knew my strengths and Marley knew hers (and Deidre knew both of us). Everything clicked. Marley, a far better networker than I am, immediately sent out the word for submissions. Within days she had almost four times more than we could use. (She read every one of them!)

Marley: I was truly impressed with the submissions we received and it was hard narrowing it down to the ones we chose for the book. We’re fortunate to have such a go-getter agent in Deidre Knight. Cec, can you share how the whole idea of Christmas Miracles came about and what you thought of the project originally?

Cec: For me, it actually started while I was on the rapid-rail train from the Atlanta airport when I listened to teens talk about Christmas and it was mostly about gifts. I had the idea then, but nothing really came together. Months later when Deidre I and had a meeting, she brought up the idea of a compilation and mentioned my working with Marley. I've been Deidre Knight's client since 1997 and I've learned to listen carefully when she comes up with an idea. I said yes before she gave me all the information.

Marley: That’s the truth about Deidre! Getting back to those submissions, I want to say we got more than two hundred submissions for Christmas Miracles. So many wonderful stories to read through and select for the book. It was a challenge to pick and choose which ones were right for the book, but I loved every minute of it. After I chose the entries that would go into the book, Cec toiled long hours editing the works for a unified voice. What was the biggest challenge you found in the editing process, Cec?

Cec: I've been a ghostwriter and collaborator for twenty-plus years and this was a switch to give the book a unified voice—which was mine. It would have been easier to stay with each writer's voice, but the book—like many compilations—would have been uneven in tone and quality. When I discussed this via email with our delightful editor, Rose Hilliard, she was (to my surprise) familiar with my work. She told me she liked the warm tone of my writing and that I don't waste words. "That's the voice we want," she said. It still wasn't easy, but it was an exciting challenge. After Marley and I agreed on the stories and gave them that unified voice, our editor pulled six contributions. Although different, Rose felt they were too similar to other stories.

Marley: Can you give our readers a preview of the book? A favorite story perhaps…or one that moved you to tears? (I have to say the little boy who wished for nothing but to be able to read a book all the way through because of his stutter had me bawling when I read the submission.)

Cec: That's not fair! I liked them all. The one that touched me most, however, is the last story in the book, "Sean's Question." We had almost finished the book and I was teaching at a conference in Florida. I felt we needed one strong story at the end. Despite all the good ones, I didn't feel fully satisfied to conclude the book. On the last day of the conference, I met a conferee named Sara Zinn for a consultation. As we talked, I mentioned Christmas Miracles and that I still needed one more story. "I have a Christmas story," she said and told me about Sean. As I listened, tears filled my eyes—but, being the macho type I am, I was sure it was an allergy. Sara wrote the story, and it became the one I sought.

Marley: Oh yes…that one is an emotional one all right. It was meant to be in the book because of how you met at the conference. Now, you and I have both had challenges in our lives that others might have found too much to take, but we are both very strong in our faith and our relationship with God. How do you think Christmas Miracles is going to help others feel closer to God and experience His miracles in their own lives?

Cec: Awareness and appreciation are the two things I want readers to grasp. Awareness means for them to realize that they're never totally alone in life. Those unexpected, out-of-the-ordinary events remind us of that. Appreciation means to be thankful for what we already have. Too often, and especially at Christmas, we focus on what we'd like or what is supposed to make us happy. Christmas Miracles gently reminds readers of both.

Marley: In this day and age when our country is fighting two wars, unemployment is high, and a lot of people have a lack of hope and faith for their future, what do you want readers of the book to take away from Christmas Miracles and how can the stories in our book help provide comfort to those struggling?

Cec: I want readers to see that miracles do happen—sometimes simple, unexpected blessings or those that involve the supernatural (as in one of Marley's stories). I call myself a serious Christian. For me, the world's greatest miracle began with the birth of Jesus. Regardless of a person's religion, this book encourages readers to think about life during the Christmas season and see that life as more than gifts and celebrations. It's also a reminder that God loves us and hears our needy cries.

Marley: Beautifully put, Cec, and I couldn’t agree with you more. Can we share what’s next after Christmas Miracles? J

Cec: Why it's the Cec and Marley show, of course. Because of our go-getter agent and our enthusiastic editor, we've already received thumbs up for The Christmas Spirit. This will be stories of people who express the true spirit of Christmas by acts of love and kindness, for release in the fall of 2011.

Marley: And I can’t wait to start working on that project! Thank you so much for your time, Cec, and answering my questions. It was a privilege and honor to work with you and I look forward to our future projects together. You’ve helped me along during a trying time and I appreciate your friendship and support.

Cec: I liked this project because Marley had to send out the word, collect submissions, read them, and discard the weaker ones. I get to see only the better-written stories. (Don't tell her that I have the better job.) Although I mentioned only one story, all of those in the book touched me because of the poignancy of their situations and the miraculous answers. I won't say the stories increased my faith, but they increased my appreciation for the delightful mix of human need and divine intervention.

Marley: Thanks again, Cec! God Bless! And to our readers, please be sure to pick up a copy of CHRISTMAS MIRACLES, out October 13, 2009 from St. Martin’s Press. It’s a great stocking stuffer or gift basket filler. We hope you, too, will discover your own Christmas Miracles in your life.

Wouldn’t you love to take home this amazing basket filled with Christmas goodies galore? This amazing gift basket contains everything you’ll need to make your Christmas holiday a success. Inside you’ll find a stocking stuffed with hard candies, kitchen towels and oven mitts, seasonal potpourri, holiday-colored candles, stuffed animals that talk, snowman candle, nutcrackers, Christmas ornaments, gift bags, gift tags, gift bows, ornament hangers, Christmas cookie cutters, a Merry Christmas doorstopper, a picture frame, Christmas cards, Santa ear muffs, and not just one, but two copies of Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson’s Christmas Miracles – one to keep and one to give away to someone special.

Leave a comment for a chance to win the Christmas Miracles gift basket!

I'll send the name of one lucky person to be entered into the drawing for the gift basket.

Good luck!
PamT

30 comments:

Debby said...

I always find christmas to be magical. The candles, the decorations and the excitement of everything abbut Christmas makes for miracles.

Sylvia Dickey Smith said...

Pam, what a gorgeous blog site. A person can spend hours checking out all the neat info provided here.

Christmas is a time, I believe, when miracles arrive in greater numbers.

Clare Revell said...

The book sounds wonderful. The sort of thing Mum would enjoy reading.

JoAnn said...

Miracles do happen. Christmas--Jesus' birth is one of them. :0)

The gift basket sounds wonderful! Please enter me into your contest

mammakim said...

Christmas is my favorite holiday. Everyone is happy and willing to help others

Salena Ardoin   said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Salena Ardoin   said...

Yes I finally made it to the comment section. What a wonderful blog I think my mother would love to read this also. She reads a christmas book every year. Then she passes it to each of her kids to read. Sort of a family thing to then get together at christmas and talk about the book. I think I would love this book myself.

Pam, Blogging no fun for bad typist. I reading though.

Donna B said...

Christmas is definitely the season of miracles. I pray the miracle of God's gift touches all our lives this Christmas.

And what a wonderful book. To be able to share some of the every day miracles that most people never see or acknowledge...

Crystal said...

Pam,
I'm a member of the White Rose blog and came to read about your Christmas blog after you advertised there. WHat a wonderful surprise!
Cec Murphey was my Sunday School teacher for several years. He is a totally AMAZING individual and I have read a number of his books. THis one sounds like another winner and I'm so happy for him. Sign me up for your gift basket drawing and thanks for featuring Christmas Miracles.
crystalrclass@yahoo.com

Abi said...

Hey, no need to sign me up. I'm having the same tour. So when you're done here come over to my blog and sign up for a second chance at winning.

http://myheartbelongs2books.blogspot.com/2009/11/cecil-murphey-marley-gibson-interview.html

Liz said...

Thanks so much for sending me a note about this article, Pam. The book does sound interesting, as do the people.


BTW, I appreciate being on your mailing list.

Donna J. Shepherd said...

The blog is great! Thanks for the contest.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Hey Pam! I'm putting the link up at my blog today. Hope all's well with you and yours. :)

PS Put my name in the hat?

Cherie J said...

Wonderful interview! Such an inspiring story of how Marley helped Cec when he lost everything. Reminds me of when I was a little girl and our home burned down and we lost most everything. It's amazing how kind complete strangers can be after a tragedy.

cherierj(at)yahoo(dot)com

Wilma Frana said...

I can't believe the holidays are coming up again. The year has just flown by.

Shannon Robinson said...

Wonderful site and interview! Christmas is also a favorite time of year for me. It's a magical time where my own-childhood spirit really comes out. Of course, it helps with having kids who still believe in the magic. And I enjoy helping those beliefs along with little setups. :)
Thanks for sharing this with us.
Shannon Robinson
shanc2281@yahoo.com

Tisa said...

Sounds like a great book..looking forward to reading it! Please count me in the drawing...what a great prize package ~ :) Thanks!

flchen1 said...

Thanks for the introduction--I love Christmas, and love Christmas stories!

--Fedora
f dot chen at comcast dot net

Debbie K. said...

Christmas is a time of miracles and also a time of hope for the future. I'll enjoy your book very much-I'm sure there are some very touching stories in it.

Debbie K. said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diane said...

Gumbo Writer sent me over. Your blog is lovely and the book sounds encouraging. Have a great day! :O)

Mary Ricksen said...

What a great combo these two make. Like Yin and Yang they cover all bases.
The emotion of Christmas couldn't be a better venue for these two hearts full of love for others.
Looks like a great read to me, I can't wait!

Jodi said...

Thanks for introducing me to book that sounds fantastic.
I love Christmas with all of the lights, decorations and family memories. My favorite decoration is the Nativity scene and I try to buy at least one new one every year.

K.M. Daughters said...

I'm so glad I stopped by, Pam. Christmas is THE season for miracles when He was born - the most monumental miracle for us all. I can't wait to read this book. A blessing to know you, Pam and to meet these talented authors.

petite said...

This books sounds incredible and beautiful. I think that the Christmas season is filled with lovely family dinners, warmth, relaxing and memorable time spent together which is so important and what makes life wonderful.

melanie said...

Christmas ad Easter are my Favorite times of the year. You actually get to see the joy and the Love GOD feels for his people. and The Love we feel for one another.

Theresa N. said...

I love Christmas and look forward to it all year.
Theresa N
weceno(at)yahoo(dot)com

traveler said...

Christmas is definitely a wonderful holiday which I enjoy especially with family and the celebrating with feasts together. The family time is precious and special.

Charity L. said...

So glad I stopped by. Please enter me!! Thanks:)
esterried[at]yahoo[dot]com

Emma said...

Great interview. CHRISTMAS MIRACLES sounds wonderful.Please enter me in the Christmas Miracles gift basket giveaway.augustlily06(at)aim(dot)com.Thank you.