Scan_Pic0052BLOG #41, SERIES 4
October 9, 2013


Joe L. Wheeler, Ph.D. is pleased to announce the arrival of his 82nd book, Christmas in My Heart® #22 (Pacific Press Publishing Association, 2013). How mightily God has blessed this series! Amazingly, still alive and energetic 21 years after the dream was born with that unnumbered Christmas in My Heart® collection back in 1992, and now the longest-running Christmas story series in America.

Way back then, Joe and Connie Wheeler had not even an inkling that that white-colored book with a Currier & Ives illustration on its cover represented a life-changing force that would radically change the course of the rest of their lives.

Those simple common denominators: horizontal trade-paper cover with a Currier & Ives illustration, old-timey woodcut illustrations inside, and stories chosen for their spiritual values and their emotive power (think Kleenex®) would go on to become that rarity: an unchanging and dependable icon of Christmas, faithfully showing up on time for every new Christmas.

This year, the cover is printed in a gorgeous metallic blue, Currier & Ives-ish cover art created by George Henry Durrie and cover design by Steve Largo.

Two Christmases ago, Pacific Press celebrated the series’ 20th anniversary with a beautiful multi-colored bookmark, image taken from the book’s cover illustration. By itself, the bookmark spiked sales. A Barnes & Noble manager told Wheeler that his bookmark was more beautiful than most of those sold in their bookstores for five dollars each. And a tassel to boot!


Well, that bookmark made such a splash that the publisher was persuaded to create another for Christmas in My Heart® #21. By then, devotees of the series (many thousands now had all 21, calling themselves “Christmas in My Heart Completists”) now considered the newest books to be naked without the now obligatory tassel. So it came to be that for most of a month now, in the Boise, Idaho publishing headquarters and plant, almost everyone has been hand-tying tassels on the newest bookmark. Just imagine that: a twenty-first century publishing house caring enough about a mass-produced product to hand-craft a tasseled bookmark for each book!

If you already have one of those heirloom matched sets, of course you’ll buy the new collection right away, so you can savor the stories all the way through the 52 Days of Christmas (the interlocking three seasons: Nicholastide, Advent, and Christmastide, concluding on January 6), as well as re-read your favorite stories in the previous 21 collections.

On the other hand, nothing is sequential in the series; each book being a stand-alone story collection. Second, these stories are anything but same ol’ same ol’, for Wheeler made a vow to God that if ever a new collection should prove to be weaker than those before, then he would terminate the series right there! Note his statement on the back of this collection:

As I ever so slowly chose the stories that would grace this series, each day I prayed that God would choose the finalists, not me. As usual, it took many drafts [more than ten] before I felt confident that God had signed off on the collection.

It is once again my humble prayer that God will bless each person, each family, as they vicariously experience the stories in the newest collection.

–Joseph Leininger Wheeler

Just to give you a feel for this new collection, all the following stories are included:

Introduction: “A Child Looks at Christmas,” by Joseph Leininger Wheeler
“Our Little Lamb,” by Cath Delaney
“The Gifts of Joy,” by Pearl S. Buck
“The Season’s Greetings,” by Margaret Weymouth Jackson
“Christmas Emergency,” by Ann Howard
“Christmas on Dock Street,” by Seth Harmon
“Lesson in a Stable,” by Clarence S. Hill
“Think Big,” by Elizabeth F. Noon
“Happy Miracle,” by Charles G. Muller
“When Polly Ann Played Santa Claus,” by Eleanor H. Porter
“The Big Christmas Present,” by Eleanor Hoyt Brainerd
“Christmas Express,” by B. J. Chute
“Barby,” by Persis Gardiner
“The Man Who Had Nothing to Give,” by Marie Harmon
“Once Upon a Time,” by Christine McKerrell
“Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow,” by Joseph Leininger Wheeler

A word about Wheeler’s Christmas stories. This one is the longest Christmas romance he has ever written–it had to be with a cast of 20 characters!~ His Christmas romances are cherished by so many that in 2014, Howard/Simon & Schuster is publishing a self-standing collection of his Christmas love stories. Another reason this one is so long is that it is really a novelette-length story about living; consequently, Wheeler incorporates into it all the key motivational poems and quotations he’s used for his students during his long teaching career. It also incorporates the settings frontier writer Zane Grey loved most. And lastly, Wheeler never writes a story unless God first joins forces with him. Note his explanation of what happened with this story (on p. 122):

“Without question, with twenty characters, this is by far the most complex story I have ever tackled. But even after I’d written twenty-five pages, the words remained flat on their backs; no vital signs whatsoever. In near desperation, I prayed day after day that God would come to my rescue so I could meet my book deadline. Then, at 4:00 a.m. on the morning of October 19, 2012, God gifted me with a dream in which all twenty characters miraculously sprang to life, a number with distinct personalities. I got up, ruefully looked at the twenty-five pages, and started all over again. But this time, I was dealing with three-dimensional characters who created their own plot–I had no idea as to where they’d end up or how. Only God knew.”

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Price is $13.99, plus $5.00 packaging and shipping. For those interested in picking up the entire set at a great Christmas season discount, retail for the 22 books in the core series (published by Review and Herald 1-16, and Pacific Press 17-22) is $262.78. But you may purchase it from us during this Christmas season for only $160.00 (over $100 discount). Should you wish to insure story completion, by also purchasing the Focus on the Family/Tyndale House hardbacks #13 and #15 (includes three stories not in the core series), retail would be $299.77; sale price would be $175.00. U.S. shipping (includes packaging, insurance and UPS home delivery) would come to $35.00 for the complete set of 22 or 24 books.

Upon request, Wheeler personally signs or inscribes each book at no extra cost to the purchaser.

Write to me at P.O. Box 1246, Conifer, CO 80433.

Published in: on October 9, 2013 at 5:00 am  Comments (1)