Posted in author interviews, book giveaways

Day 1 of the Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Celebration with Staci Stallings & Sarah Witenhafer

Welcome to  day one of the Days of Christmas Giveaway Celebration! Each day for the next several days (excluding weekends), I will be hosting your favorite authors in a variety of genres for a chance for you to win their books!

Here’s how you enter…just leave a comment for the authors – it can be an encouraging comment or, please feel free to share your favorite Christmas memory or tradition. You can enter to win on as many days as you wish! For example, you can enter to win the two books for today and also the two books I’ll have on tomorrow’s post and the two books on any other day. Remember, anyone can enter, but subscribers to this blog (who have confirmed their subscription) receive two entries.

A winner will be drawn for each day at random using All winners will be announced on December 19, just in time for Christmas!

We have two wonderful books up for grabs today…

Product Details

Tamed is an action-packed Christian novel.

Cowboy by Staci Stallings is a love story that will tug at your heart and have a special place on your own book shelf.”  For more information, please see

And now, for fun, here are Staci and Sarah’s favorite Christmas memories/traditions!

The Great Tumbleweed Christmas by Staci Stallings

West Texas in December means tumbleweeds. Rain in the summer will make any field not plowed for a crop grow thick with iron weeds.  When winter hits, the iron weeds wilt and wither.  Then the wind starts, breaks the stems, and off they go.

When I was a junior in high school, we had a wet year–perfect conditions for growing tumbleweeds.  Now my mom had this thing about flocking our real Christmas tree every year. She would take the tree to the barn and cover it in flocking.  However, that year for some unknown reason she had an idea…

Why buy a Christmas tree when she could take two tumbleweeds, tie them together and flock them?   Funny.  I never thought of my mom as particularly crafty, but she put her heart and soul into that Tumbleweed Christmas tree.  She flocked it green (yes, they have green flocking… why?  I don’t know!).

Then she reflocked it white.  Well, all that flocking made the thing extremely heavy.  Plus, a tumbleweed stem was never meant to go in a Christmas tree base.  (I’m not even sure how they got it to stand up in the living room at all, but they did.)

Christmas Eve was always when our family celebrated Christmas because Christmas Day was spent at Grandma’s house.  My sister and I were old enough by then to “know” things about Christmas, but for the sake of hanging on for one more year, Mom and Dad sent us to our room. With my brother’s help they commenced putting gifts under the Tumbleweed tree.

That’s when we heard the crash!  My sister and I ran out only to find Mom, Dad, and my brother sprawled with the presents under a giant tumbleweed that had lost most of its flocking in the topple from its perch in the corner.

The moral?  Texas tumbleweeds were never meant to be flocked and decorated!  Leave them in the fields where they belong!

Favorite Christmas Tradition by Sarah Witenhafer

Like many people, Christmas as a child was not the happiest time for me. So when I began my own family I stuffed the season things to make it memorable. My kids were going to get enough traditions to convert any Grinch.

On the list to buy each year: Christmas mugs, Christmas books, Snowbaby ornaments, Christmas candy to stuff the advent calendar, more candy to decorate the gingerbread house, Christmas snow globes, and of course – a new Nativity set – let’s not forget Jesus! We did Christmas crafts for friends and stamped cards. Then there was the baking, twenty different types of cookies, at least six dozen of each, made ahead of time and frozen so we could feast on them Christmas Eve.

Added to all of this were the Christmas events I thought were a must – Zoolights, Nutcracker, and such. Needless to say, I had our Christmas budget blown before we purchased one gift! Plus, I was exhausted from chasing away ghosts of Christmas past. That’s when my husband, Dale, and I started to reevaluate.

We ended up dropping the shopping spree. No more mugs, snow globes, books, or Nativity sets. How many do you really need? We scaled back the candy, and we limited the cookies to twelve different kinds.

And what we kept became sweeter. Christmas Eve is spent in candle light, singing hymns, reading from Luke and eating cookies. We break bread together, reminding ourselves of Christ’s mission: He came to save us from our madness, to free us from our past, and to bring peace with God into every season. May God rest you this Christmas.

Join Sarah Witenhafer and 9 of her author friends at WoMen’s Literary Cafe’s Christian Book Launch, December 13-15. Ten authors will discount their ebooks to just 99 cents. Buy 3 get 1 FREE!


Don’t forget to enter and join us tomorrow for authors Amanda Beth and Lisa Mukkove Johnson!


Penny Zeller is known for her heartfelt stories of faith and her passion to impact lives for Christ through fiction. While she has had a love for writing since childhood, she began her adult writing career penning articles for national and regional publications on a wide variety of topics. Today Penny is a multi-published author of over a dozen books. She is also a homeschool mom and a group fitness instructor. When Penny is not dreaming up new characters, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters and camping, hiking, canoeing, reading, running, gardening, and playing volleyball. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency and loves to hear from her readers at her website,, her blog,, and through her newsletter via

84 thoughts on “Day 1 of the Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Celebration with Staci Stallings & Sarah Witenhafer

  1. Beautiful memories.

    I remember one year in our “big” house we set up a 12 foot tree, trimmed and decked out beautifully! We got home around midnight after an event and prepared for bed, when a LOUD crash interrupted our anticipation of some rest. 🙂

    Sure the worst burglar in the world had chosen our place to rob, Needless to say, our tree had toppled. Crashed! We’d failed to “nail” it properly.

    And yes, we managed to re-do it before Christmas!

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Getting robbed on Christmas? That’s just wrong! But it makes me remember that old Growing Pains episode when Ben came flying down the stairs Christmas morning only to find all the presents were GONE! That scream still cracks me up.

      I’m glad you got to have Christmas anyway. 😉

      1. Stacy, love your Christms tumble weed story.

        Agree getting robbed at Christmas is wrong. But it just happened to the best friend of our former foster child. The 18 year old girl is out on her own and was purchasing Christmas gifts at the mall. What she had left in her wallet was her money for living expenses. When she looked for her wallet it was gone. She’s been pick pocketed. (sigh)

        Praying for all to be safe from thiefs and robbers this Christmas season. In Jesus name.

  2. Thanks for sharing your memories Staci, who would have thought tumbleweeds could make a Christmas tree, clever woman.
    I am partial to love so would like to be in drawing for your book “Cowboy”
    Paula O

    1. I agree, Paula, I love those types of books too! And the neat thing about this giveaway is that the winner wins both books! Thank you for stopping by, Paula! It’s great to hear from you. 🙂

      1. Thank you for hosting us, Penny. It’s great to read all these wonderful comments. I’m so thankful to share the first day of the season with your readers. 🙂

  3. Staci – I love the tumbleweed story. I can totally picture it (especially since we get a lot of tumble weeds in AZ too).

    Sarah – I totally understand the desire to do everything at Christmas. I agree that simplifying makes each thing that we do even more special.

    Thanks for sharing your stories!

    1. Thank you, Karen. What a fun kickoff, huh? Almost makes me want to go out and add more traditions back into our Christmas. (My husband just started hyper-ventilating.) Seriously though, like many children from broken homes I overcompensated. We really only need One thing in Christmas – Jesus! Although I’m glad He gave us the cookies too.

      1. I think I’m with Dale, Sarah… twelve dozen is PLENTY!

        And I didn’t know they had tumbleweeds everywhere else too. I thought that was a Texas thing. 🙂

      2. Sarah, We’ve had traditions we’ve handed down from year to year. My childhood Christmases were not unhappy, just not extremely festive. My folks were very simple in their ways.

        So, I once I got married, like you, I wanted to make our Christmases very festive. My decorating philosophy was more is more. I’ve got bins of Christmas decorations stored in the garage. And out they come every year and yes, I buy even more every year.

        This year with finances being what they are, we’re scaling back on the gifts. I did replace a few outdoor decorations that had gotten dowdy from weather, but I went to a discount store. To be honest, most of my Christmas decoration shopping has been done at discount stores even in the past.

        I’m looking forward to a more intimate Christmas this year.

      3. My son is 9 this year. Last year he found the “joy of Christmas lights.” He put up 1,100 of them (literally) inside of my house. His mantra this year, “WE NEED MORE LIGHTS!” I’m thinking people on the Space Station may be able to see us this year. 😉

  4. When I was a Freshman in High School my folks built a house on 40 acres (mostly wooded) they had bought years earlier. Shortly after buying the 40 acres they planted pine trees one year because farm service had a deal on seedlings, I think we planted close to 2,000 trees. In college one year all of us kids (2 older sisters) were gone and not expected to make it home for Christmas. Mom broke down that year and bought an artificial Christmas tree, something about if we were not going to be home she was not going to go through the trouble of getting a real tree. Something happened and at the last minute all three of us kids wound up coming home. So there we are in Northern Illinois on Christmas Eve with an artificial tree. It was snowing outside and it was a beautiful Christmas Eve, minus that ugly artificial tree. We gave mom such a hard time about it that she finally said “Fine, go cut one down”. She made sure I went to “do it right” and the group of us headed through the woods on Christmas Eve in the snow looking for the perfect Christmas tree. We spent what must have been more than an hour laughing, joking, throwing snowballs, and searching for the right tree before we found one we thought would work. We cut it down and dragged it back to the house. We took all the decorations off the artificial tree and put them on the “real” tree. Snow falling, real Christmas Tree, Fire in the Fire place, house lights off, tree lights on, it was a memorable Christmas Eve. Of all my growing up memories of Christmas Eve I think this one is my favorite.

    1. Steve, this is such an awesome story! I can just picture you and your siblings outside having all of that fun while finding the perfect tree! Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. I love ALL CHRISTmas stories~from tumbleweeds to the simplicity of sugar cookies! It would be an honor to read either or BOTH of these books. If Penny Zeller suggests it…It’s got to be Good!!
    Merry CHRISTmas!~Brenda

    1. Brenda, thank you for that awesome compliment! Wow! Yes, both of these authors are extremely talented and I’m excited to see who wins their books and all the books in the books in the Book Giveaway Celebration in the days to come! Merry CHRISTmas to you too!

  6. Awesome memories, growing up in W.Va. with my Grandma… I loved Christmas, because it meant that all my Aunts, Uncles and cousins would be there for Christmas Eve as well as Christmas Day.. And there were a lot of family all sitting in the living room on Christmas Eve. My Grandma or Dad would read to us from the Bible about Jesus being born. We would then thank the Lord for coming to us as a baby to teach us the right things. Then we would all get to open One present…

    Would love to win these wonderful books. Please but me in the drawing..

    1. I love your Christmas memory, Kim! I, too, had a lot of extended family Christmases as a youngster. Wonderful memories! Thank you for your kind comments about the books. I’ve got you entered! 🙂

  7. Well Steve, congratulations. You are the first one to make me cry! Wow. That is a cool memory!

    I think, like Sarah, we all have this idea of a “perfect” Christmas–lots of presents, all the cookies, etc. We get so wound up in all the preparations we forget that the most fun things are just being together and going out throwing snowballs, laughing, joking, and just being together! Wish more of us could remember that.

      1. Me too! Staci, I bet you found it hard to believe that I felt like I had to do it all. hehe. Your story is wonderful. I’m so blessed to know you, and Penny.

  8. One of my favorite traditions growing up was always putting the tree up the day after Christmas (no black Friday shopping for us), and taking it down on the 6th of January – my Dad’s birthday & coincidently, 3 Kings Day. There’s something special about both days being special, rather than just regular days.

  9. Great giveaways, Penny! Both books sound great!

    Staci – LOL, love your Christmas memory! Too funny!

    Sarah – What a great story of what Christmas really means. We’ve scaled back too. I don’t want to be stressed out and broke from Christmas. I want to enjoy it with my loved ones, focusing on Jesus, the true reason for Christmas.

    God bless you all:)

    1. It sure is easy to feel like we have to do more. For me, it sure ain’t just a Christmas thang. I stick with the same theme all year. 🙂 Thankfully, God really is in control, and He’s great about slowing me down.

      I look forward to reading your post!

  10. Staci – I LOVE the tumbleweed story. You know, people actually pay real money for those things on eBay. Hard to believe. It’s stuff like that – things that go wrong – that become the best memories. I recall one Christmas we were “snowed in” but refused to miss Christmas Eve so my father in-law drove out to get us on the farm, we used sleds to carry packages 1/4 mile down our driveway in a snowstorm, had major car trouble on the way with snow clogging the engine but in spite of everything finally made it to the celebration! Best Christmas ever!

    Sarah – I’m with you. Simple is nicer. The things that really matter are being together with family and friends. Although – I love the “stuff” too and sometimes its hard to stay away from the Christmas mugs nobody needs. But, the memories are all that’s left once Christmas is put away for the year. Make them good ones!

  11. Wonderful memories you both shared! One of my favorite memories is going to pick out our Christmas tree. We will be going this coming Saturday to do that. I can’t wait to get pictures of my kids walking around looking at all the tree!
    The Cowboy book sounds just like something I would love to read!

    1. Thanks, Joy. It’s one of my favorites. As for us, we never had enough trees to actually chop one down. We always stood outside the 7-11 trying to find one that wasn’t completely dead already… You know, that makes the whole flocking thing and even the tumbleweed make a lot more sense!

  12. We had tumbleweeds in southern California. One Christmas when I was in high school we decided the theme for our Christmas formal would be Tumbleweed Dreams. We got lots of tumbledweeds spray painted them white and then hung Christmas balls in them. Draped the whole room in sparkly white and gold netting. It really turned out beautiful.

  13. I really enjoyed reading the stories 🙂 I live in NH and have seen a tumbleweed once when visiting my daughter for her Air Force grad in TX. Interesting looking One of my favorite Christmases was that year when she unexpectedly got to come gome for Christmas =) I don’t know that I’d buy one, but I bet having one would be a real conversation starter.;p

  14. Hi! I’m a new subscriber, so glad I stumbled upon your blog!

    I have two favorite family traditions during the Christmas season. The first is hunting for our Christmas tree. It’s usually a three hour ordeal in the woods that ends in fighting and laughs, but it’s always fun and a great story.

    My second is taking my grandma to Christmas Eve mass. I love sharing this time with her.

    1. I know, right?!
      “Mom, why are you so crabby?”
      “Cos the little drummer boy is getting on my nerves! Somebody take his sticks and give us back a silent night.”

      Have a blessed Christmas, Carrie. 😀

  15. love the story and t hey are great flocking my family did that a lot to tree when they bring them home it look pretty but it could catch fire mine did one night it was a 8 ft tree and then lost every thing on the tree and then they pushed out the window it was funny

    desi the

  16. I love these stories! Staci – I used to love tumbleweeds when we lived in OK – I always threatened to use one as a tree, but never thought about flocking them or putting two together – what a memory!!

    Sarah – we’ve been forced to scale back in recent years due to finances. But the times have been sweeter, and less hectic. I have to say though – 12 different kinds of cookies? Wow. Whattalottacookies. 🙂

  17. Haha, I love Staci’s story. Hilarious! 🙂 It must have been quite a scene.

    My favorite Christmas memory is the year we had a Christmas tree. We don’t have Christmas trees when I was young because there wasn’t any space in the house for it. One year, me and my sisters bugged our parents for a Christmas tree and they relented. It was really fun stocking the presents below the tree!

  18. I love Christmas! I love everything about it, the sacred as well as the secular. Every year I buy new Christmas music to listen to and this year my favorite so far is the new Christmas release by The David Crowder band. One of my all time favorites that I picked up a couple of years ago is Snow Angels by Over The Rhine. Merry Christmas to everyone who reads this.

    Here’s a little Advent prayer written by a pastor friend of mine.
    “O Lord Immanuel, our eyes see you anew this season of Advent. Appear to us. Let all who have sight focus on Your everemerging presence. Amd may our lives frame You faithfully for the world to view. Amen” Rev. Charles Packer

    1. Music is one of my favorite things about Christmas. Years ago when I was in college, my roommate was obsessed with the California Raisins (I know… right?!). Well, she bought their Christmas album, and I played that thing until everyone was sick of it. I made myself a tape of it and played it every year at Christmas. Then one year I couldn’t find it. It just wasn’t Christmas until I heard those songs. Then the Internet showed up and I actually found a copy… the “Collector’s editions” were selling for like $250! See, I’m not the only one who likes the Raisins Christmas! 🙂

  19. I love reading all these Christmas memories that all of you are sharing. I was brought up in a Jewish home so we never had a tree at all although we did have some friends who had Hannukah bushes. So, I really enjoy hearing the memories of all.

    1. You know, I think it boils down to special times with people we love… no matter what the holiday. I know, for me, one of my favorites is Thanksgiving. Just getting together for a whole day of talking and laughing and just being together. I think what makes Christmas so special is that it’s like the world stops for a day or a couple so that everyone can just take a breath and enjoy each other.

  20. A favorite holiday memory is the last Christmas with my adopted mom (my grandmother). We didn’t know it was our last year but we were able to spend it together and I have some pictures of us together. I will cherish them forever. (That was 12 years ago)

  21. As a child, my favorite memory was our gift exchange Christmas morning.
    I could hardly sleep at all that night because of anticipation!
    I was so overjoyed when my parents said that it was time to go downstairs and unwrap the gifts, but we had to wait for them to dress and come down, and that seemed to take forever!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Thanks for the chance to win!!!!!!!!! God bless!

    1. Santa for us always came when we got home from Grandma’s on Christmas Eve night. We’d get home and Dad would line us up outside, youngest to oldest and then yell, “Go!” and he always beat us inside! My little sister never liked getting run over by the rest of us. To this day my heart leaps with joy when I think of my new bike sitting in the middle of that living room floor… Good memories! 😉

  22. I realize that you don’t know me, but I would just like to say that I am an avid reader. Even at 27, I usually end up reading good, Christian books – difficult to find in English in Qc. I’m afraid that living in Canada does have its downsides.

    ENGLISH books are hard enough to find around here, but CHRISTIAN + ENGLISH books is almost impossible. Really, the closest they are is in Ontario (Ottawa), but I can’t drive, so I can’t exactly go there often. It’s several hours away, too, so I can’t get one of my parents to take me.

    I’m bad, though. As a child, I would read books at all hours of the night, using any means of light I could. Flashlight, nightlight, even the light coming in the window from outside! Thankfully, now I’m more ‘in control” of my love of reading, but when I was 7 – even 6 – years old, it was never easy to keep my curiosity away from a good book.

    OK. Enough out of me. Thank you for listening. I certainly hope I win – since good CHRISTIAN books are so hard to find here. But, if not, I’m glad whoever won DID. And I’m thankful for the opportunity to participate.

  23. Oh my, that must have been quite the adventure with trying to make tumbleweed into a Christmas tree! What a story that was and know that is a memory you will never forget.

  24. haha..Staci, never thought of using them for Christmas trees. But I do remember us moving from OK to NM and seeing our first tubbleweed and we got one boxed it up and send it back to our school in OK so they could share in our experience! Thanks for sharing and I know your book must be equally as interesting to read. Merry Christmas, teelayoung at hotmail dot com

  25. Sarah, love your picture….you look so happy in it! And Christmas is about being happy….because Jesus came to earth! wahoo!!! We’ve never gone overboard on Christmas (ok….except for the cooking and eating of cookies and candy) but my husband and I decided that we would always give Jesus a gift that was more than we spent on anyone esle…and we’re still doing that (our denomination has a special Christmas offering for our missionaries). God is good, all the time…..All the time….God is good. Merry Christmas, Teelayoung at

  26. Great post! What awesome book covers. I’m always interested to see the cover. I think it can make a difference especially when not buying online.
    I hope you all have a great Christmas!

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