Posted in author interviews, book giveaways

Final Day of the Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Celebration with Gina Conroy, Shellie Neumeier and Darlene Shortridge

Today is the final day for my special Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Celebration (but not the final day to enter!). I hope you’ve enjoyed all of the fantastic giveaways! Tomorrow, I’ll be providing a listing of all the giveaways so you can go back through if you haven’t already, and leave comments for any of the books you’d like to win. Yep, you can enter as many giveaways as you’d like! All giveaways end December 18 and the winners will be announced on December 19.

I’ve enjoyed the giveaways, but I am eager to get back my regularly scheduled program with humor posts, movie reviews, and devotionals! I’ll be having some Favorite Top 10 Posts, and on December 20, please join me for my popular humor post “5 things a man shouldn’t buy his wife for Christmas!” You won’t want to miss that post!

Today, let’s bring some humor into the mix! Leave a comment telling us your most hilarious Christmastime moment! Or the most hilarious Christmas gift you’ve ever received!

And now, without further ado, here are the three books up for grabs today…while I haven’t yet read the books, they both look awesome!

Following  is the blurb for Cherry Blossom Capers

Four townhouse neighbors encounter romance and mystery near our nation’s capital. In State Secrets, White House assistant chef Tara Whitley and FBI agent Jack Courtland stop a plot to sabotage a State dinner—and find love still hidden in their hearts. In Dying for Love, attorneys and opponents Ciara Turner and Daniel Evans uncover love while searching for justice. In Buried Deception, archaeologist Samantha Steele and security guard Nick Porter dig up love while uncovering a forged artifact. In Coffee, Tea and Danger, amateur sleuths Susan Holland and Vince Martini find love while investigating a string of mysterious accidents.

Below is the blurb for Driven…

Robyn can’t help but notice the handsome new guy at her school. She ignores, however, the arrival of another being at Brookfield Central High School—a demon assigned to destroy her…

Robyn loves her friends, enjoys her youth group, and looks forward to meeting cute Caleb Montague. But when a caustic news reporter challenges her school’s prayer team, Robyn must choose: defend their right to meet on campus and pray for whomever they wish or back down at the principal’s request.

Now she must learn what God wants her to do. And she had better learn fast, because there’s a supernatural enemy in town whose sole mission is to stop her—no matter the cost.

And the blurb for Until Forever

Until Forever is a story of a young family that is torn apart by the devastating effects of alcoholism. Can healing take place in a relationship when an unforgivable act is committed? Will Jessi’s pain and Mark’s guilt keep them apart forever, or will unforeseen circumstances bind them together?

Join Jessi and Mark as they travel many roads that lead them to places of healing and forgiveness.  Where will God draw the line at allowing circumstances in our lives that lead us to Him?  Is there any earthly pain that isn’t tolerable if it leads us to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?  As you read “Until Forever” you may find yourself asking these types of questions.  As in real life, the answers don’t come easily to Jessi and Mark.  You will find yourself walking in their shoes, crying their tears and laughing with them as they experience real and pain and find true joy. 

And now for some Christmas memories!

A Christmas Memory by Shellie Neumeier

When I was five or six, Christmas at my house always started with dark nights (‘cause in MI, December nights start at 4p.m.) and sugar-cookie smells.  Time brought friends and family to eat the feasts my mother made and sleep on our couch and floor. But as a child, the best part was the culmination of Christmas morning. The moment when everyone raced into the family room, tripped over Uncle Frank (sleeping on the floor), and shifted through the pile of presents to find the ones with your name on it. Mom and my aunts would drink from steaming coffee cups and hide from Grandpa’s camera or ooh and ahh at just the right time while Dad would dole out the gifts after fending off eager hands.

One Christmas, I changed all that. Oh sure, the cookies were baked and the feasts, all eaten. The relatives came in car loads, and Uncle Frank slept peacefully on the couch (it was a good year for him). But with dawn hours away, I woke bright-eyed and ready for the morning. I skipped down stairs to peek at the Christmas tree. Lights from the window sparkling off the multi-colored bows and papers. It had to be time for Christmas. Oh how I was tempted to rip apart those gifts, right then and there, but I remembered one clear rule my father gave the night before.

“No one opens any gifts until an adult says it’s okay.”

I raced back upstairs and popped into my parents’ room, but no amount of jumping pulled them from their slumber.

My brothers didn’t count, so I let them sleep, but I had to find someone…somewhere. I knew my aunts and uncles would tell me to ask my parents and we all know how well that worked out. Grandpa would probably say no, no questions asked. What was a kid to do without a willing adult nearby?

Then again, there was one. One that always said ‘yes.’

Uncle Frank.

I dashed for the family room and bee-lined for the couch. With a gentle hand to my uncle’s shoulder I shook him until he groaned.

“Uncle Frank,” I whispered.

“Huh?” His eyes still closed.

“May I open my gifts, please?”

“Uh-huh.” He mumbled as he rolled over.

That was enough. I had an adult’s permission, even if that adult was barely out of his teen years. I demolished my gifts, tore the paper from every Shellie-labeled box. As the last ribbon hit the floor, the lights flickered on. There in the doorway stood my father.

“What?” was all he could mutter.

It didn’t seem to matter that I’d followed the letter of his ruling; he looked deflated at having missed my Christmas morning. And now that it was after seven, my bleary-eyed brain couldn’t figure out why. Christmas morning was all over the family room floor. What had he missed?

“You’ll figure it out when you have children of your own,” he said.

And he was right. Now that I’m slightly older, I look forward to every Christmas morning. Not for the presents, but for those moments spent watching the children rip open their gifts, spying their excitement over that oh-so-special toy, and talking about that first precious Christmas. It isn’t about the gifts anymore; it’s about family and Christ, but I bet you knew that.

Merry Christmas, every one.

Shellie loves to connect with her readers at

A Favorite Christmas Memory by Darlene Shortridge
How do I choose one favorite memory of Christmas?  You have asked a hard thing!
Growing up in difficult circumstances, I have very few childhood memories.  There is one occasion that left me with a smile.
I was young.  How young, I cannot remember.  My parents divorced when I was five so, I must have been a little bit older than that.  My father brought gifts and he gave me the coolest present ever.  I received a pair of studded green jeans with a matching jean jacket.  Yes, I am giving away my age…but come on…isn’t that just so darn cool?
They fit perfectly and I loved them.  I’m not sure if there ever was a more joyful moment in my childhood.  That is my best childhood Christmas memory!
Darlene loves to connect with her readers at

Remembering Saint Nicholas, the Man Who Became Santa by Gina Conroy

In my efforts to steer materialism away from December the 25th and create new family traditions, I thought a great idea would be to exchange gifts on Saint Nicholas Day. Only problem is, it always snuck up on us and we’d miss it. Usually we end up remembering Saint Nick and his “spirit of giving” on Christmas Eve,

The following ideas are some suggestions on how to remember Saint Nicholas, the man who became Santa. You can adjust the activities depending on the age of your children, but no matter how you choose to remember Saint Nicholas, I’m sure it will soon be a treasured family tradition.

Share the story of the Real Saint Nicholas

We’ve always taught our children the true meaning of Christmas and shared who the real Saint Nicholas was. The video Nicholas, The Boy Who Became Santa, is a sweet and entertaining historical tale of an orphan boy who grew up to be Santa Claus. It really captures the true meaning of Christmas and one man’s sacrifice for the savior he loved. Caution: you might want to have a tissue nearby.

Nicholas, the Boy Who Became Santa

Synopsis: Nicholas was still a young child when he discovered a very special secret that changed his life. It was the gift of giving, by which he brought happiness to many people; but in sharing this great gift Nicholas had to face many dangers. Here is a fascinating story of the boy whose love and care for others make him one of the most popular figures of all times. Today, more than sixteen centuries later, the entire world celebrates the kindness and generosity of the man we call Santa Claus.
 Santa’s Birthday Gift by Sherrill S. Cannon

Whether you read the traditional stories of Saint Nicholas or take the Santa approach, here’s a study guide to make the most of Saint Nicholas and the Christmas story.

Discuss: Nicholas’ life and contrast it with today’s version of Santa Claus. What do you like about the real story? How has the real story of Saint Nicholas strayed from the original story. What has remained true through the ages? Is it okay to blend the two stories of Christmas?

How can you emulate Saint Nicholas and his spirit of giving this Christmas season? Talk about ways you can give to others throughout the entire year.

Do: Exchange gifts to one another in honor of Saint Nicholas and his love for Jesus and helping others.

It’s not hard to reconcile Santa with Christmas once you know the real story. Make it a goal this year to share the true story of Santa Claus with young and old alike. It’s what the real Saint Nicholas would want!

Gina Conroy used to think she knew where her life was headed; now she’s leaning on the Lord to show her the way.  She is the founder of Writer…Interrupted at  where she mentors busy writers and tries to keep things in perspective, knowing God’s timing is perfect, even if she doesn’t agree with it! 😉 Her first novella, Buried Deception, in the Cherry Blossom Capers Collection, releases from Barbour Publishing in January 2012. On her blog Defying Gravity at she chronicles her triumphs and trials as she pursues her dreams while encouraging her family and others to chase after their own passions. Gina loves to connect with readers, and when she isn’t writing, teaching, or driving kids around, you can find her on Facebook at and Twitter 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 through her newsletter via

33 thoughts on “Final Day of the Days of Christmas Book Giveaway Celebration with Gina Conroy, Shellie Neumeier and Darlene Shortridge

  1. Seven Christmas’s ago on our first Christmas as husband and wife, my husband gave me 4 gifts to open. He sat on the edge of the sofa in what I thought was anticipation of him watching his darling wife open such thoughtful and precious gifts. (Remember this was our first Christmas as a married couple). I open the first gift and oh my stars there was a pair of the most gaudy earrings I have ever seen in my life and the color was HOT PINK. I didn’t want to hurt is feelings so I got up went to a mirror and put them on. The second gift was a pair of shoes that were scratch up and well worn. I knew they came from a second hand store. I swallowed hard and thanked my husband and then I put them on. The third gift was this really ugly handbag that had seen better days. I bit back my tears and thanked him. To myself I thought what in the world is going on. He kept asking me if I liked my gifts and I kept telling him yes. I then went in to take my shower. I cried and cried of such disappointment. I dressed and came back out into the living room and my husband handed me a christmas card. In it was four 100 dollar bills. I couldn’t help it I started to cry again. My husband was playing a joke on me and he thought for sure after the second gift I would ask him about the ugly gifts I received so far….but no, being me I didn’t want to hurt his feelings. He apologized to me because he didn’t know that I would be so kind about it and he knew that my feelings were hurt. Today we get a good laugh about it. I have kept in storage these gifts. Believe me, I don’t need them to remind me of that Christmas. It was a Christmas I will never forget!

  2. How about when my 2 young sons got bunk beds from Santa. We wanted them to wake up Christmas morning in their new beds so we tried to move them after they were asleep into sleeping bags in the next bedroom, put the new beds in their room them bring them back. Should have known better. The oldest one woke up while we were ever so quietly making up the new bunk beds and wandered into the room. His dad immediately scooped him up and took him back, but as he sleepily crawled back in his sleeping bag,he said “Daddy, I didn’t see any bunk beds.”

    1. LOL, Cindy! I loved your son’s comment about not seeing any bunk beds! What a neat idea for a Christmas gift and one that probably has been a wonderful memory for your sons!

  3. One of the funniest was a few years ago. I think my kids were 4, 7, and 11 at the time. Because of family stuff, we decided to do Santa at my parents’ house instead of at ours before going down for the holidays. Christmas morning arrived, and the presents were under the tree. The 4 year old woke up first, and when Grandma and Grandpa got up, he was sitting right next to the tree and the presents trying to see them well enough to see if he could figure out what they were–he hadn’t touched one! The other two woke up presently, followed by my husband. I had stayed up talking with my sister half the night, and with no alarm clock to wake me, I was in la-la land. Finally at 11 o’clock, they just couldn’t take it anymore. They all came in and woke me up. My parents are STILL amazed at how patient my kids were that morning!

    1. Wow, Staci! That is some amazing patience your kids have! I was laughing when I read about you staying up all night talking to your sister. Isn’t it awesome how sisters can never run out of things to say?! 🙂

  4. Shellie, I totally get it from your childhood point of view and the adult one! I remember thinking how silly it was to have to wait instead of just ripping it all open. But as adults we understand so much more! We know that moments are fleeting. Once they are gone, they are just a memory. We want to be there for our children’s memories so they are ours, too. We spend time shopping for that perfect gift and want to see their first expression as they see it. Thanks for sharing that with us! By the way…when is the next book coming out?

    Darlene, Those clothes do sound just too darn cute!!! I can imagine how that was one of your memories. It was something bright and sparkly to focus on instead of the dark times that you were living through. I am glad God blessed you with that ray of sunshine to remember even today.

    Penny, thanks so much for doing this. I must admit I am having a hard time thinking up a funny gift. I am SURE there are some, just not sure. I have tried to think of something but I am sure it will come to me AFTER I click post. Anyway, thanks again, Penny. This has been so much fun, even if I win nothing. I have enjoyed reading about all the authors and other posters about their Christmas memories.

  5. Hmm, the only Christmas memory that stands out to me as rather hilarious was the time my sister got a dog for Christmas. He was about 4-years-old, my parents had gotten him from the shelter, and even though he was a small terrier, he definitely knew how to take care of himself. My brothers had both received dogs the year before – huge bird-dogs. Well, it took all of 5 seconds for the new little mutt to round up every dog toy in the house, pile them under the coffee table and stand guard over them. My brother’s dogs were literally cowering on the couch, toy-less, unsure what to do about the feisty family addition.

    Since today is the final day, I thought I’d share my most powerful Christmas memory, too. When I was about 10 or 11, I remember my dad getting a second job in the late summer. He was career Air Force but he started working nights as security at a medical supplies factory. I remember us going out to visit him at 9 or 10 at night to drop off his “lunch” when he’d forgotten it, him taking us around to see the fox that would visit him every night, having to be super quiet in the day so he could sleep and get back onto day schedule for his work-week in the Air Force, and so on. He only worked the job for a few months. Years later I asked my mother about it – why did he get a second job like that? Turns out that for whatever reason money was extra-extra-tight that year. He worked that 2nd job for one reason – so that they would be able to afford Christmas presents for their 5 children. I’ve never forgotten the love and sacrifice my parents put into that Christmas – I don’t remember what the physical presents were – but their example is something that I will carry with me forever and aspire to with my own daughter.

  6. Those are great stories! What a fun way to celebrate the holidays, Penny. Thank you for hosting this and for letting me share:).

    Terri, LOVE that you asked:). A mid-grade chapter book is coming out in Feb., entitled The Wishing Ring (co-authored with my youngest two kiddos–they thought up the fun stuff:).

    Merry Christmas and Good Luck, everyone!

  7. My children were teenagers. I had had surgery in October and was unable to work much. It was the year Cabbage Patch Kids were such a big deal and you couldn’t find them or when you did they were so expensive no one could by them. I love to sew and I made hundreds of them. My sixteen year old kept saying he better not get one of those dolls.
    Of course I had to make one for him. It had on a camouflage shirt, pants, a hunter orange vest, an orange cap, boots, and a gun. He laughed so hard. It was great.
    Glenda Parker

  8. I don’t have anything super hilarious. Recently I received this awesome penguin hand fan as a Christmas gift. It is kind of funny.

  9. When I was 7 my grandma got us toilet paper for Christmas. As rude 7 yr. old I was like Grandma what is wrong? lol We laughed about it on the way home and finally concluded that she must have thought, well everyone one uses toilet paper so I can’t go wrong with that! 🙂

  10. I can’t recall any funny Christmas stories, but I will never forget the year I got a bicycle for Christmas. My dad stayed outside with me until I learned to ride it all by myself. It is a memory I will never forget. 🙂

  11. I remember the Christmas I got a bike. It was not a new bike like bought at the store. No, Daddy had bought a used bike and had it painted, the rust on the chrome parts removed, and put a new wire basket on the front of the handle bars. That bike wasn’t new but it sure did make my happy. I still have a picture of me and that bike and my little puppy sitting in the basket.

  12. I remember one year my hubby got me 5 tubes of Blistex! 5??? Guess my lips must have been pretty rough and chapped!

    1. Leanna, your story reminds me of the time two years ago that I had a bad cold and my brother told me he was going to mail me some cough drops. I figured it’s the thought that counts so why not. A box arrived with no fewer than 20 bags of assorted cough drops – we still have a huge stash in the closet! But I always laugh when I go to open a new bag – it was an odd gift, but very sweet. (no pun intended – lol)

  13. I remember the year that we found gifts under my parents bed that were still unwrapped and were pretty excited about it. Turns out they were gifts for the next door kids who were not getting any gifts that year. We were pretty disappointed. I guess that taught us not to snoop. 🙂

  14. I would have to say that the oddest present I received was from my husband on our first Christmas together. He and his mom had gone shopping for me and picked out a sweet pink sweatshirt with abc blocks on it. It was cute. However, I noticed when I took it out of the box that it was a maternity sweetshirt. Fine — except I wasn’t pregnant…. Oh well, I got to use it a couple of years later.

  15. i can’t remember any halarious christmas story right now…but i appreciate reading all of the submitted stories…priceless.

    penny…thanks for sponsoring these fabulous giveaways.

    merry christmas to you…and to all of the authors who participated over the past 10 days…i had a lot of fun visiting your blog 🙂

  16. I remember one Christmas when my hubby was pastoring in Florida and we were so far from our family and had 3 small children. I got up on Christmas morning and there was a brand new piano in our living room! How he ‘snuck’ that in during the night is still a wonder to me. Our oldest at the time was 5 and now she’s our church pianist! Isn’t God good!! would love to win these books. Thanks Penny for hosting . teelayoung at hotmail dot com

  17. Wow…you ladies have some awesome memories. Originally I wrote out this long blurb about our Christmases and when I realized how long it had gotten to be…I decided to use it for my own blog instead!

    Penny, thank you for having me. You have been such a blessing and I have enjoyed being a part of this awesome blog special.

    Merry Christmas! May God bless each and every one of you through this next year. May He lift you up and encourage you, provide for you and your family and be the love of your life.

    Darlene 🙂

  18. Would love to win the book Until Forever sounds right up my alley… As for my most hilarious Christmastime moment, well our kids would say watching me open my Christmas Stocking last year… I had made the statement last Dec. that for 29 years, since we had been married.. I had never received any thing in my stocking. That I always make sure that our kids and grandkids as well as my husband receives a full stocking. I mean FULL…. candy, toys, diff. kinds of toiletries and so on.. Well This Was A Big Mistake… to tell my husband lol Last year I was promptly set down and told specifically that I was to open my stocking and empty it on my lap so all could see. (hint: should have known better) I received a can of chicken soup, crackers, m.m.s, a can of mixed nuts, and lotion, cream, and an orange.. Everyone Enjoyed a good laugh… me too…

  19. One Christmas eve, I was so busy with putting gifts under the tree, I forgot to fill the stockings. I did,however, put a clementine in each earlier that night. When the kids get up on Christmas morning they are allowed to open their stockings while waiting to open gifts. We found them sitting on the couch, each holding the clementine in their lap,as quiet as can be. I guess they must have thought they were on the naughty list or :p

  20. I have read Until Forever and highly recommend it. It’s a great story! I have also had the pleasure of meeting Darlene and she is a wonderful person (and a great cook)!

    I am blest to have many fond Christmas memories, but I have two favorites…
    The first one is when my grandpa bought me a Kermit the Frog phone for Christmas after we were both told I was not to get one since it was so pricey. Grandpa and I used our best acting skills and I got my phone. (I still have it today). The other memory is when I asked my grandpa what he wanted for Christmas and he said just me. So, I made myself into a gift and showed up at his door. Grandpa and I had such a great relationship that I wrote a memoir about him. What special memories!

    Merry Christmas Everyone!

  21. I have many fond Christmas memories, but I recall one winter when I and my siblings still believed there was a Santa and our father took us outside one crisp, clear Christmas Eve and showed us the light in the sky and told us it was Santa’s sleigh delivering toys to all the children – course later I learned it was a plane flying by, but it sure made us want to get ready for bed and wait for the him to arrive at our place (probably Mom and Dad’s way of getting us to bed early)! I also remember a Christmas when I received a dog. He was a huge blessing and turned out to worm his way into my entire family’s hearts. My folks found him at a feed store when they were Christmas shopping in the city – Toby was his name and he stood on his back legs and put his two front paws together and acted like he was begging or praying for them to take him home when they passed by the window. He had been trained to do that and could also speak on command. He wormed his way into my folks hearts that day! So many fond memories over the years that we had with him in our home that we all still speak of them today. We are all blessed and better for him being a part of our family.

  22. I have read Until Forever and it is awesome! If you don’t win the book, grab a copy and read it, you will not be disappointed!

    And I have a lot of fond memories, but one is one year Santa bought me a set of dishes, ceramic ones with little pink flowers and with a china cabinet to go with it. And I still have it today. Of course the reason I have it is because I would never let anyone use it, and when my sister and I wanted to play house, we used hers, and of course she doesn’t have them now. I really feel bad!
    Merry Christmas to all of you!

  23. I remember the Christmas that I asked for a Cabbage Patch Kid Doll. They had just come out and there was no way my Ma-Ma could afford to get me one. We kids were put on a Christmas list through our Church, and I had put it on that list as my “toy” I wanted. I did not think I would get one at all, but my Aunt had made a homemade one and it was sitting on the seat of a new bicycle in front of the Christmas Tree that Christmas morning. And to my surprise! There was a REAL one in a package under the tree as well!

    Merry Christmas, and thanks for the giveaways!


  24. My favorite memory is only from pictures, but it has always been my favorite picture of my great-aunt. I was about 3 years old and had gotten a ride-on toy for Christmas from my aunt and uncle. In showing me how to use it, a picture was taken of my great-aunt sitting on my toy with her heels and skirt on–trying to look very lady-like while sitting on a little tiny child’s toy.

  25. One of my most funniest Christmas memories is seeing my nephew’s funny reaction when he was so excited that he got a toy train. We caught it on video.

  26. A Christmas that stands out in my memory was the year my brother fell out of a tree and broke his leg….he had been going up and down the ladder all day at Grandmama’s house while the men were putting a new roof on….she sent him and a cousin across the road to play in the woods, where he promptly fell from a tree and broke his leg…Christmas came, and he was still in a cast that covered all of the broken leg and 1/2 of the unbroken one…keeping him flat on his back. As usual, he and my other brother received cap pistols. The rest of us kids were running around the room shooting the cap pistols when we heard our brother begin to scream, “My head is shrinking, my head is shrinking!!! Get me a mirror!!! My head is shrinking!” And thus my 8 year old brother suffered his first ever headache!!! margie at mijares dot net

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