Posted in author interviews, book giveaways

Day 7 of the Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Celebration with Penny Zeller & Karen Baney

I am super excited because today commenters have a chance to win a copy of Karen Baney’s book A Dream Unfolding and a copy of my book McKenzie – the first book in my Montana Skies Historical Romance Series! Scroll down for the fun question of the day and information on how you can have a chance at winning both books!

A Dream Unfolding 

Here is the blurb about A Dream Unfolding:

The promise of a new life and a chance to start over…
Hannah Anderson had the life she always wanted, married to the man of her dreams. When her husband’s brother gets in trouble with the law, the town turns against them, shattering her perfect life. Now they are left with only one choice–to head west to the Arizona Territory in the hopes of creating a new life. Will the journey be worth the cost?
Will Colter, after burying his father, is forced to leave the ranch he has called home for nearly thirty years. The journey is dangerous, challenging him and his men. Will he find the new life he was hoping for? 
Or, is there a new dream quietly unfolding before their eyes?

And the blurb about McKenzie:

Desperate to save her sister from an abusive husband, socialite McKenzie Worthington responds to a mail-order bride ad in the Montana Territory—where God-fearing rancher Zachary Sawyer prays for a wife to share his life. But when McKenzie arrives with a plan that includes divorce, will Zachary’s persistent kindness and self-sacrifice change her heart?

Today’s fun question is – what is your absolute favorite Christmas song? Leave a comment for a chance to win both books! And don’t forget to go back and leave comments on Days 1-6 for more chances to win. A winner for each day will be chosen at random on December 19. We have only a few more days of the Christmas giveaways left, so be sure to leave a comment! (U.S. residents only, please) Also, confirmed subscribers receive two entries!

And now for some Christmas memories and traditions!

My Christmas Memory by Karen Baney

Karen Baney Ever since I lost my mom, ten years ago now, I have a hard time looking back at holidays.  It seems far easier to stay in the present than to travel back in time to my childhood because I miss her so much.  So, when Penny came up with the idea for this series, I had to work up the nerve to go through some old photo albums.

Boy, am I glad that I did.  I came across this picture from my mom on Christmas Day 1986.  This is the perfect picture to describe a long standing Armstrong gift-giving tradition that Mom instigated.

Don’t worry.  Mom didn’t really get a box of Fruit & Cream Oatmeal for Christmas.  Nope.  Instead, Dad took the lovely string of pearls in the iconic felt jewelry box and wrapped it inside the oatmeal box which then got a layer of wrapping paper.

Our tradition: disguise gifts, double wrap gifts, hide gifts around the house.  Anything was acceptable.  I think one of us girls even got a bra wrapped in a two-cup measuring cup one year.  That was Mom’s idea.  She loved it—two cups having double meaning and all.

Yeah, we were creative (evil) with gift wrapping.  Half the time I think we put more thought and effort into making it a challenge to open gifts than we did on the gift itself.

Just in case you think this tradition died in the 90’s when the last Armstrong graduated high school, think again.  The story of how my brother proposed and gave his future wife the engagement ring involves many boxes, duct tape, and a very patient woman.

The best part?  As our family grows we have even more people to torture with creative (evil) gift wrapping techniques.  The Armstrong Family Tradition lives on.  (Mwahaha!)

Join Karen and 9 other Christian authors as they celebrate the release of her new novel Nickels, with a blow out $0.99 sale for Kindle books. You can connect with Karen at

My Favorite Christmas Traditions by Penny Zeller

Years ago, my husband and I started three fun traditions with our children that we look forward to each Christmas season, in addition to attending Christmas Eve services at church. Each year…

We go “Lighting.” Everyone snuggles into their pajamas, then we head out in the car for a drive around town and a night of enjoying the creativity of those who use Christmas lights to decorate their houses. We then grab a bite to eat – since we’re in our PJs, we go through the drive-thru of course!

Our second fun tradition is that our girls exchange “Gag Gifts.” These are presents that appear to be normal to the unsuspecting eye (and are wrapped beautifully), but inside contain wacky gifts, such as an empty milk jug for the daughter who loves milk or an old avocado seed for the daughter who detests avocados! We capture these hilarious moments on film and laugh about these gifts for months afterward.

Finally, our third yearly tradition takes place on Christmas night. We watch Christmas movies (The Nativity Story, etc.) and for dinner we eat popcorn, crackers with spray cheese, and other fun junk food items. My husband found some large football-shaped plates from the Dollar Store that we use only on this special night. Our daughters have commented that we are the “coolest” parents because we allow them to have an all-you-can-eat Christmas dinner with nothing nutritious!

But no matter how many traditions the Zeller Family enjoys each year, the most important thing we celebrate as a family is the celebration of Jesus Christ!

Penny loves to hear from her readers at her website at, here on her blog,  and on Facebook at


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 on Facebook at

57 thoughts on “Day 7 of the Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Celebration with Penny Zeller & Karen Baney

  1. Oh – I’d love to read McKenzie! A Dream Unfolding too! It’s impossible to have too many books. My favorite Christmas song is Breath of Heaven. For lyrics and emotion, it doesn’t get any better than that!

  2. What great stories! Karen – you reminded me of the year my dad bought my mother a set of expensive kitchen knives in a wooden box. He didn’t want just a plain box, so the fun began. We had found a discarded bowling ball, so we put the wrapped knives in the bottom of a large box, and put the bowling ball inside – loose. During the days leading up to Christmas, we’d move the box around just so she could hear the ball rolling. We even poked holes in the side of the box, telling her it needed to breathe. LOL!

    Penny – you gave me a GREAT idea for our own Christmas celebrations this year. I think we’re going to institute Wacky Gifts as part of our gift-giving. LOL! I’d love to do that Jammy-drives, but I don’t think I could talk anyone into it. I’ll save those for when we have grandchildren! Ha!

    Oh – my favorite Christmas song? O Little Town of Bethlehem is my favorite “serious” song, but I like to play Christmas music all year long, so it’s hard to come up with just one non-serious one! Sandi Patty’s Jingle Bells A La Sandi is hysterical, so is Ray Steven’s Bad Boy. And I love Elf’s “Baby It’s Cold Outside.”

  3. Penny – thanks for having me today. I love the gag gift idea. The creative (evil) wheels are turning on what would make a good gag gift for my hubby…

    Tracy – I love the bowling ball! That’s exactly the kind of thing my mom would have done. Aren’t those memories the most precious?

    My favorite Christmas song: Little Drummer Boy – the version that Jars of Clay does.

  4. My family has similar stories about hiding gifts in unusual wrappings! Anyway, it’s so hard to choose just one favorite Christmas song! I love “O, Holy Night”, “Drummer Boy”, “Carol of the Bells” – so many beautiful songs are written about Christmas! My father’s #1 favorite is “Mary’s song”.

    1. I agree, Kat, it is so hard to choose just one favorite Christmas song. There are SOOOO many good ones! I love “O, Holy Night” too and some of my favorites are “What Child is This” and “Mary Did You Know?”

  5. I love Christmas songs… Deck The Halls,…..Silent Night…..we play a lot of Christmas music during the holidays too

  6. Silver Bells is my favorite Christmas song. I used to play it on the piano when I was a preteen. I have since lost that sheet music but turn up the radio whenever it comes on.

    1. I will have to see if my daughter can play “Silver Bells” on the piano. That is really such a Christmasy song – perfect for listening to when decorating the tree and sipping a cup of hot chocolate! Terri, it is always nice to see you. Thank you for stopping by!

    1. That is a great song! When we were little, we had an old little record that had that song on it that someone found at a garage sale. We used to play that thing over and over on my cousin’s little ancient record player. What fun memories!

  7. I have a couple of favorite Christmas songs! O Holy Night and Mary, Did You Know. Actually, the more I think about it, I love pretty much all Christmas songs. I would truly play them year round if my family would let me!! 🙂 Got your Christmas card, Penny! Thank you so much! Looking forward to talking with you in January. I will pin down the date and get back with you soon!

  8. I have a lot of favorite Christmas songs but my very, very, favorite is Mary Did You Know. That song just touches my heart and brings me to tears everytime I hear it. I Love Christmas. Thank you Jesus!!

    1. I have to agree with you, Judy. “Mary Did You Know” is one of my all time favorites too and the words are so touching and really bring to mind the real reason for the season – Jesus Christ!

    1. Linda, that is my favorite song too (along with Mary Did You Know). My oldest daughter has been playing “What Child is This” on the piano. I love the words, love the music- what a beautiful song!

    1. Hello Faye! Thanks for stopping by. That is such a great song. I remember four years ago when our little friend sang that song with such joy in his heart at the Christmas program. Shortly after, he was diagnosed with leukemia. Every time I hear that song, I think of how the Lord healed our friend, who is now 10.

  9. I adore SILENT NIGHT. It always brings tears to my eyes, especially when sung durong a candlelight service!

    Merry CHRISTmas,

  10. My current favorite Christmas song, was never marketed as a Christmas song…Adoration by the Newsboys. It’s on their worship album, but it’s from the perspective of a shepherd who saw the angels and went to see the newborn king. It is so obviously Christmas and it reminds me that this holiday really is all about worshiping Him.

    I’d absolutely love to win McKenzie, I’ve read Hailee and Kaydie, in that order. Now I just need to read the first one.

    I’m wondering if you ever got anywhere on the idea of a story for Reuben. ??

    1. Andrea! So nice to see you here! I am a huge Newsboys fan and love that song as well. And I so agree, this holiday really is about worshiping Him!

      I love that you have read Hailee and Kaydie – in that order. 🙂 I think you’ll find that what we spoke of about Reuben has some similar elements in McKenzie. However…that idea is still in my mind!!! Have a Merry Christmas!

    1. Thank you, Andrea! I appreciate you subscribing and I appreciate you letting me know. It makes it even easier when the time comes to drop all the names in the hat! 🙂

  11. It seems that I like so many of the traditional Christmas carols that I can not pick just one. Probably whatever one I am at the moment engaged in singing would be my favorite

    I just received the new CD “Joy” by Keith and Kristyn Getty so I expect as I listen to that today those will be my favorites for Dec.10th!

  12. My favorites are “Mary Did You Know” and “Silent Night” although there are several others that I enjoy as well.

    What a great giveaway and would love to win it. Thank you for the opportunity.


  13. My favorite Christmas song is “The First Noel.” I love many others, but I think that this one is my ultimate favorite.

    Thanks for the chance to win this.


    1. That is such a beautiful Christmas carol too. I have to laugh because I’m not in the least bit musical, but “The First Noel” was actually one song that I could play (well the chorus anyway!) on the keyboard. Have a Merry Christmas!

  14. I cant enter being an aussie but my favourites are O Holy Night and Mary Did you Know.

    Karen love the gift idea. I have a friend who cant wait to open a gift I wrapped her gift one year with about 10 rounds of paper and half way through used alot of tape so she thought she was at the end and as she couldn’t get in had to be so careful with the scissors as she thought it was the last layer. She really really didn’t love me that year. My brother wrapped up a show box with some cooking weights for me with a note where to find the gift (it was a bean bag full of beans and was outside).

    1. Hello to my favorite Aussie!!!!! I think there might be a couple other giveaways that are open to international residents (because they have ebooks as giveaways).

      Ha ha! I loved reading about your friend and the 10 rounds of paper and all of that tape! What a great joke! The treasure hunt your brother created sounds fun too.

      Thank you for stopping by, Jenny. It’s so nice to see you. I hope you have a Merry Christmas *waving enthusiastically from the U.S.!!!*

    1. That is right up there with my favorites, too, Marissa. We recently sang that in church and I think that song has some of the most beautiful music. Thank you for stopping by!

  15. My favorite christmas song is White Christmas. However, there are several others that ware close to my first choice…too many to mention.

    1. Hi Brenda! Mary Did You Know is quite a popular one. The lyrics are so moving and so convicting. I love that song too! Thank you for stopping by and I hope you have a blessed Christmas season!

  16. Like so many others have said, Mary did you Know is one of my all time faves esp. when sang by Michael English. but another fave is Miriah Carey’s All I want for Christmas is You….it just makes me happy and want to dance! Penny, I hope I win McKenzie! of course, we’d all love to win any (ALL!!) the books you are introducing us to…thank you and God bless you Penny! teelayoung at

  17. The 3rd verse of Away in a Manger. I remember during the Iran Hostage crisis. It was the second Christmas for the hostages, and one of them, a woman, who had been away from her children for something like 400 days sang that verse on camera from where they were being held so her children would know that even though she couldn’t be with them, Jesus always would. Still brings tears to my eyes:

    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 fit us for Heaven to live with Thee there.

    Such incredible courage! I still remember that and can picture her to this day.

  18. My absolute favorite Christmas song is “O Holy Night”. I fell in love with this song when I was a young girl and to this day, many years later, it is still my very favorite. I think it just epitomizes exactly what Christmas is all about.

  19. My favorite Christmas Song of all time would have to be: Oh Holy Night, but I’d have to say, I’ll be home for Christmas is my 2nd favorite – I cry nearly every time I hear it!

  20. I would have to say Mystery by Selah and How Many Kings by Downhere. What an incredible message in those 2 songs!!!! margie at mijares dot net

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