Monday, November 21, 2016

Spotlight on Jeannine Carroll, Author of The Christmas Gift Book Set with Hand-Painted Baby Jesus

Now that my holiday gift guide is in full swing, I wanted to share a wonderful Christmas book set with you, that I know would make a great addition to your family's holiday traditions. But, before I share my review of The Christmas Gift Book Set with Hand-Painted Baby Jesus, which I was sent for review for my gift guide, I wanted to share my interview with the creator of this wonderful gift set, Jeannine Carroll.  

I have been blogging since 2008 and love being able to share wonderful gift ideas and product reviews with you.  My favorite thing to do is search the Internet for unique gift ideas that you otherwise might not have known about or considered giving.  This past summer I stumbled across the Secret Good Deeds website where I saw the different The Christmas Gift Book Set with Hand-Painted Baby Jesus, which comes in a variety of options including an angel with a white dress, one with a red and green dress and even different Christmas angels (you can choose hair and skin color) and baby Jesus, which you can choose skin color (light or dark complexion)...

The Christmas Gift Book Set with Angel Dressed in WhiteThe Christmas Gift Book Set with Angel Dressed in Red and Green

The author graciously sent along two of her gift sets to show the different types of Christmas Angels and Jesus you can choose from when buying one of her The Christmas Gift Book Set for the holidays (Only $21 (includes only baby Jesus with gift set) and $28 (includes Christmas Angel and Jesus)

 "During the Christmas season place the empty manger and bag of straw where your children can reach them (unless they're very young!)  Each time someone in the family does a good deed, they can place a piece of straw in the manger.  By Christmas morning, the manger will be full from all the kind things your family has been doing.  It will give baby Jesus the gift of a warm bed- but we know Jesus is the best Christmas Gift of all!"
The Christmas Gift Book Set with Angel Dressed in White

You can learn more about the wonderful The Christmas Gift Book Set with Hand-Painted Baby Jesus from Jeannine Carroll here --  But, in the meantime, please enjoy my Author Interview with Jeannine as she shares her inspiration on creating this book and what is working on now. And, be sure to head back here the end of this week when I will be sharing my personal review of her The Christmas Gift Book Set with Hand-Painted Baby Jesus.  

Please let me introduce you all the creator of the The Christmas Gift Book Set with Hand-Painted Baby Jesus, Ms. Jeannine Carroll...

Jeannine Carroll

Jeannine Carroll and her husband, Jimmy, live on a farm outside of Smithfield, VA.  

I love gardening!

She wrote The Christmas Gift and put the book set together to share a tradition that she and her two children, Adam and Amy, enjoyed as they grew up.  It took Jeannine many years to figure out how to share this tradition and she is delighted that it is now ready!  She loves knowing that her grandchildren and other families can now share this wonderful tradition to help families celebrate the real meaning of Christmas

1. Tell me about your book.  How did you come up with the story or idea?
Secret Good Deeds
When my two children were young, back in the 80’s, I heard about a simple tradition.  You put out a manger and bag of straw during the Christmas season.  Every time anyone in the family did a good deed they could put a piece of straw in the manger.  The goal was to do enough good deeds to fill up the manger and give baby Jesus the gift of a warm bed on Christmas morning.  I loved how this tradition focused on giving to others and not just on getting.  It, also, brought us back to the real meaning of Christmas, the birth of Jesus.
When my children were young, I was a single mother.  We used a small basket as a manger.  I had a small plastic baby that had been a cupcake decoration from a baby shower and I’m not sure where we got the straw.  Year after year, I brought out these items for our tradition.
I knew I wanted to share this wonderful tradition, but was not sure where to begin.  I had a childcare business in my home and a degree in Early Childhood Education. With my background, I finally decided the best way to share it was to write a children’s book.

The Christmas Gift
I wrote the story and then didn’t know what to do with it.  I attended a Christian Writers Conference in Estes Park, Colorado.  By this time, my children were grown.  I loved the conference and learned so much but the book still sat.
I happened to meet a man, who owned a small publishing house, while I was on a trip to Florida.   He helped me find an illustrator and published the book. Then the work began!
I met Bill in February and wanted the book out before Christmas.  He said that he could help me with books, but he didn’t do mangers or babies or bags of straw. I felt strongly that the book needed to be sold as a set so everyone would have everything they needed to begin.  I remembered my own plastic bag of supplies!
The accomplishment I felt from figuring out how to package the book and where to get everything made, is one of the things I am the most proud of.  It was a challenge and took most of the money from my retirement account.  Getting 5,000 mangers made and custom designing a bag everything would fit in was expensive!
A few years later, Ashley, my niece and a young mother, called and said that I needed to add an angel to my set.  In the story, there is an angel hiding on every page and watching the family as they do their “Secret Good Deeds”.  I knew children would enjoy finding her.  Ashley suggested that parents could hide the angel and let the children find her watching them as they did their good deeds.  Parents could, also, talk to their children about how God is watching over them and how he sometimes uses angels to help him.
This was a great idea but now I had to figure out how to add an angel to the sets!  So what you see here is what I came up with.  I make the angels, paint the babies, cut the straw and put everything together.  This is a year round job!
My next goal is to stop doing everything myself so I can concentrate of writing and selling!

2.  How did you get interested in writing this particular genre?
Writing for children was natural because of my background and love of reading from an early age.

3.  Do you have any favorite authors or favorite books?
I have so many favorites that it is hard to know where to start!  
I love Charles Martin because his main characters are men with character.  I love to see really good stories that have a Christian flavor but aren’t preachy. Water From My Heart is my favorite.
Francine Rivers has a series called The Mark of the Lion.  It brings you to the time of the first Christians and you won’t be able to put the books down till you finish all three of them!

4.  What’s a typical working day like for you?  When and where do you write?  Do you set a daily writing goal?
I still work, so writing is often an early morning thing.  It is, also, a challenge because I have so much work to do in getting the sets ready for each Christmas season.  I have to be great at time management.
5.  What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Starting, once I start I don’t want to stop!

6.  What’s the best thing about being an author?
The absolute best is when I hear stories about how families have used this tradition and the impact it has- Nothing is better!

7.  What are you working on now?
I am working on a story called The Birthday Gift.  It is a story about a ten-year-old girl who decides to give away ten gifts for her birthday.  She has everything planned and then a tornado hits an area close to her home and everything changes.

8.  What advice would you give aspiring writers?
It has never been easier to get a book published or harder to get it into stores!  You have to become great at using social media and marketing.  Publishers don’t do this unless you are a best-seller!

9.  What question have you always wanted to be asked in an interview?  How would you answer that question?
Lewis Howes has a podcast I love called The School of Greatness.  He always asks his Three Truths question.  If at the end of your life, all your accomplishments are gone, and your love ones are standing around your bed, what three truths would you like to give them?
At this time in my life, mine are:

  1. A simple child’s prayer says it all- “God is great.  God is good.”
  2. Don’t set small goals – you may accomplish them. Set great goals and dream big!
  3. Life is in the simple things.  Love well and enjoy every minute!

Stay tuned for my review of Jeannine's The Christmas Gift Book Set with Hand-Painted Baby Jesus later this week. :-)

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