How can an author spend time with family members, over the holidays, when they’ve already gone on to heaven?
Sounds like a crazy question, doesn’t it? But I’ve found that in writing Christmas stories I’ve been able to revisit with family members by writing about them! When I spend time putting a family members characteristics or situations into a book it is a lot of fun and very nostalgic for me. I was a psychologist for twenty-five years before becoming a fiction author. Hands down–writing about the loved ones I’m missing is so much more therapeutic than simply spending time reviewing old memories, even if I’m fictionalizing them!
For instance in Snowed In, in Guidepost Books A Cup of Christmas Cheer Volume 1, my hero is a WWII veteran inspired by my father and a heroine (inspired by my mother) and little sisters (my aunts). The former infantryman takes his girlfriend and her sisters to his grandmother’s cabin in the countryside, and his bachelor uncle is a little put out, at first, over the visitors. My real life great-grandparents cabin is part of The Tahquamenon Lumbering Museum, in Newberry, Michigan. So during the time when I wrote the story, I shed a few tears at getting to “spend time” with my family over the holidays (even though the loved ones weren’t there and I was writing in the spring and summer!) I listened to a lot of Bing Crosby for the story and imagined how it may have been for my dad, a wounded WWII vet, to have come home from the war, and both his mother and father are gone (my grandmother died when my dad was twelve and his father died during WWII before my dad returned.) So although this was fiction, I enjoyed getting to spend time with a story world populated by my family!
For my Selah award finalist, The Fruitcake Challenge, which was published last year, I once again drew upon my mother’s feisty personality for my heroine Josephine, and Mom’s background in a lumber camp. It was fun imagining what she would do with a guy like the hero, Tom Jeffries, showing up at her camp and challenging her to make a fruitcake “as good as my mother makes” and he’ll marry her! I hadn’t planned on doing any new writing in late 2014 as I’d spent the summer working with several editors on multiple manuscripts, and I thought I needed a break. But the opportunity to have a Christmas story where I could hang out with my spunky mom again was too good to resist! She died five years ago of bile duct/pancreatic cancer. But in my story, I imagined a heroine in a lumber camp with many of her character traits and it was a balm to missing her! (The Fruitcake Challenge was included in a release by Forget-Me-Not Romances as part of an 8-in-1 collection with all of the Christmas Traditions novellas.)
This year I went a little further back in time and included family members I never knew. My grandfather grew up in lower Michigan with his British-born parents. Many of my great-grandmother’s Wenham family members also moved to the area. So although my hero and heroine in this novella aren’t inspired by family, I had fun sneaking in my great-grandparents, grandfather, and great-uncle! Not nearly as therapeutic as the other stories, but still fun! And I included a friend’s husband who departed the earth last year—way too soon. That still doesn’t seem real that he could have died so quickly from that evil thief, cancer. But in this story, part of Carlton lives on.
What about you? Do you have any Christmas traditions that help you remember loved ones who’ve gone on to join Jesus?
GIVEAWAY TIME! One person who leaves a comment will be picked to win a THREE book prize package from Carrie! For an EXTRA chance share this post and leave a comment if you do.
Winner’s package (Void where prohibited by law):
- The Substitute Bride Ebook or Paperback
- The Fruitcake Challenge Ebook or Paperback
- Christmas Traditions 8-in-1 Collection Ebook
Giveaway starts today, Friday, December 4th and ends Friday, December 11th.
*Giveaway is only open to US residents*
Former “Yooper” Carrie Fancett Pagels writes Christian historical romances about overcoming. She grew up in Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where many of her stories are set. Possessed with an overactive imagination, that wasn’t “cured” by twenty-five years as a psychologist, she loves bringing characters to life. Carrie and her family reside in Virginia’s Historic Triangle, which is perfect for her fascination with history. Carrie enjoys reading, traveling, baking, and beading—but not all at the same time!
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