CHRISTMAS IN MY HEART 23 NOW AVAILABLE

BLOG #38, SERIES #5
WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE
CHRISTMAS IN MY HEART® 23

September 17, 2014

N E W S R E L E A S E

Just out is this, our 89th book, and 74th story anthology!

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Hard to believe but, after 23 long years, Christmas in My Heart® is still alive! Clearly God’s plans for the series are not yet complete. As long-time readers of the series know, there is no resting on laurels where this series is concerned: for an entire year I winnow the stories down to a pure gold fifteen to nineteen stories; hundreds may be rejected for every one that makes it in. It normally takes me ten to fifteen prayerful winnowings before I feel the slate is perfect. I take special care in creating kind of a roller-coaster trajectory between laughter and tears, long and short, child and adult, love stories and stories with some other appeal. I make no apologies for the love stories since God created love, and love and Christmas are inextricably woven together. Indeed, I’ve come to the conclusion that, judging by our mail, the romance element is one key reason why the series is still alive today.

During the last two years, there has been a run on complete sets. Today, as more and more publishing houses fold their doors or are bought out by a bigger company, out-of-print books have swelled into epidemic figures. Not surprisingly, most of our now 89 books are today out-of-print. Consequently, if you or someone you love is a Christmasaholic—there are so many of us terminal cases out there!—, you might wish to take this occasion to take advantage of our Christmas sale 40% discount (close to our cost) for the complete set!  Scan_Pic0113

So let’s look at the line-up of what’s in the new collection. First of all, all 23 covers have timeless, Currier & Ives artwork on the covers, a veritable art gallery if you are lucky enough to own them all.

Secondly, most of the stories are illustrated with a timeless woodcut, most at least a hundred years old; thus contributing to the heirloom look. Since most of our stories don’t come with illustrations we can use, I usually pour through tens of thousands of pages in old magazines or books in search of those few unique ones that seem born to illustrate certain stories.

I also vary the time-frame story-wise: a story may date back to Bible times or hundreds of years ago; or it may have been set in the nineteenth or twentieth centuries. Or written during the last year or two. What matters is whether the story remains relevant today.

Nor does the name of a given author mean much to me. I believe I am one of the very few story anthologists who are convicted that the power of a given story alone ought to determine whether it makes it in the collection or not.

Now for the Gold list of the stories that did make it in:

•      Introduction: “Psst! I’m Giving Away All My Secrets” – Joseph Leininger Wheeler. In it, I pass along many of my anthologizing secrets so that when I pass off the stage of life, perhaps someone else will be ready to take my place.
•      “Two Christmas Mornings of the Great War” –Edward Hulse and Wilfred Ewart. I’ve been saving this powerful story until 2014, the 100th anniversary of an unbelievable Christmas Day truce in the World War I trenches of France. It had to be the lead story this Christmas.
•      “Santa for Certain” – Earl Reed Silvers. Earl Reed Silvers is one of the most beloved of all writers of stories for young people. This is his second inclusion in our series.
•      “The Gift” – Bruce R. Coston. A little girl who longed for a kitten, and parents who definitely did not.
•      “Father Carter and the Herd of Elelphants” – Pat Thornborough. Had to go clear to England to land this very special story.
•      “The Crinoline Lady of March Manor” – Irma Hegel. Whoever heard of falling in love with an old painting?
•      “Flight of the Second Section” – Edward S. Marshall. Just imagine flying an airliner that had an altitude ceiling at barely 8,000 feet—and in a Christmas storm at that!
•      “The Children Who Played with the Manger” – Iones Haynes Keene. Manger animals are to be looked at, not to be played with; well, doesn’t that make sense?
•      “The Return of Christmas” – Marlene Chase. The unadulterated nerve of her sister Lexi: trying to foist off on her a thirteen-year-old going on twenty-three girl at Christmas. This is Marlene Chase’s fourth inclusion.
•      “The Christmas Doll” – Jeanne Bottroff. A poor little girl who had not realized she was cold—read it and find out why.
•      “Christmas at Bethlehem” – Anna Brownell Dunaway. What could be worse than being marooned in a one-horse town in a rickety old hotel at Christmas? This is Dunaway’s second appearance.
•      “Sweet Singing in the Choir” – Deborah Siepmann. You’ll never again be able to listen to a boys’ choir the same after you read this poignant story from England.
•      “Twenty Acres for Christmas” – F. McKinnon Morton. What if you are sitting on valuable land you’ve long considered your own, but discover someone else owns it? But if you don’t say anything about it, it’s most unlikely anyone else will ever find out about it.
•      “The Monkey Manufacturing Company” – Harold D. Robinson. The boys were out of business—or were they?
•      “Personal Delivery” – Gail Courtney Rittgers. Marcia stopped Kent from reaching for his checkbook. Why?
•      “A Christmas Triumph” – Frances Lewis. Father never participated in Christmas. Said he couldn’t afford it.
•      “Because of Christmas” – Phyllis Naylor. What to do with leftovers at Christmas—find out!
•      “The Tides of Life” – Joseph Leininger Wheeler. She never wanted to see him again—not unless, a very unlikely “unless”. But she got on a cruise ship anyhow.

The hand-tasseled bookmark is worth $5.00 by itself!

ORDERING INFORMATION

Publisher: Pacific Press Publishing.

Binding: Trade Paper

Pages: 128

Price: $13.99

Shipping: $4.50

Personally inscribed by Joe Wheeler, if requested, at no extra cost. You may secure your copies from us, so give us a call, or email, or letter, and we’ll fill your orders for you.

Mail your request to: Joe Wheeler, P.O. Box 1246, Conifer, CO 80433.

Or Phone us at: 303-838-2333.

Or send an email to: mountainauthor@gmail.com.

COMPLETE SET OF 23 BOOKS

Available this Christmas at only $170 (a 40% discount), plus shipping. Inscribed too, if specifically requested.

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THE SECRETS OF THE CREEPING DESERT AND OTHER MYSTERIES FOR BOYS

BLOG #32, SERIES #5
WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE
THE SECRETS OF THE CREEPING DESERT
AND OTHER MYSTERIES FOR BOYS
August 6, 2014

N E W S R E L E A S E

Just out is this, our 87th book. It was born three and a half years ago and contracted for three years ago. Due to unexpected developments, the manuscript was given a three-year-nap. Result: we have a surfeit of books carrying my name out this year; such a thing is not likely to ever happen again. Here’s how it happened.

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The date was Friday, December 3, 2010. Each first Friday of December, for many years now, I spend with my extended family at Focus on the Family in Colorado Springs. That particular Friday, for the fifteenth Christmas in a row, for morning worship, I shared with them a story included in the latest Christmas in My Heart® collection. The rest of the day, I spent signing books in the Focus on the Family bookstore. As is true with most epiphanies, I never saw this one coming!

As I inscribed the last couple of books, my long-time cherished friend, Editorial Director Larry Weeden, walked in to debrief on my day. As God would have it, then bookstore manager Bill Flandermeyer joined us for the same reason.

After we’d reviewed the events of the day, one of us posed this question (completely out of the blue–no antecedent for it): “When people come into this bookstore, is there anything that many of them are searching for that we don’t have–and they sadly leave without?”

It was a rhetorical question, not one we expected a definite answer to. Instead, without even stopping to think about it, Flandermeyer shot back: “Yes! Books for boys!” He went on to note that buyers young and old (grandparents, parents, uncles, aunts, friends, children and teens), found all too few books for boys on the shelves. Then I was put on the hot spot: “What do you have for boys? Can you step in and fill the need?” I had to admit that though almost all of our books would appeal to boys, nothing I had was geared just for boys.

We had also discussed the subject of books that would appeal just to girls. We could all think of available options for them. But the problem was even bigger than that: today, we have a national crisis on our hands that has profound implications for America’s tomorrows. Boys are bailing out of education at an ever earlier age, veering instead into escapist virtual reality–be it video games, texting, alcohol, tobacco, pornography (their options are legion) rather than eagerly preparing themselves for productive adult careers. Since their parents don’t read much themselves, and there are all too few books, magazines, and newspapers in homes today, there are few incentives for their children to read either.

* * *

After I returned home, I couldn’t get the discussion out of my head. Was God directing me to become more pro-active rather than re-active? What could I do personally to help turn the tide? I’ve learned over the years that when God sets you up for action, you don’t have to wait long for His follow-through. In only weeks Dan Balow (the new publisher for Mission Books/eChristian) was in our home, with Greg Johnson (our long-time agent); the agenda had to do with possible book projects I felt strongly about. Fresh in my mind was the discussion at Focus on the Family. I brought it up. The result was a contract for six books, two of which came out right away: Showdown (sports stories for boys) and Bluegrass Girl (horse stories for girls). But not long after, Balow left the company, and we wondered if the other four books would ever see actual publication. Serendipitously, recently Todd Hoyt, the president of the company, reinserted the four titles in the pipeline: Only God Can Make a Dad and A Mother’s Face is Her Child’s First Heaven came out some months ago; and now, finally, here comes our second book just for boys.

In that 2010 discussion, specific emphasis had been placed on my consideration of mystery stories for boys. After all, almost every boy is fascinated by books and stories that incorporate mysteries in the narrative.

So, finally, here they are, the result of an exhaustive search for the most powerful value-based mystery stories I could find. I specifically sought out stories that were compatible with Judeo-Christian values, that didn’t veer into darkness–as all too many youth-oriented mystery stories do today. I searched for stories that were not merely good-reads but would also result in the reader’s positive inner-growth. In the process, I discovered that mystery stories for boys tend to be longer than those written just for girls. Possibly because boys revel in taking things apart to find out how they work. They want to know both how and why. In detail.

By the way, the third-grade boys at Jefferson County Elementary School in Conifer, Colorado helped to choose this cover illustration. More about how that happened in next week’s blog.

So here are the stories:

■ “Jimmy the Sleuth,” by Frank Farrington
■ “Black on Blue,” by Ralph Henry Barbour
■ “The Prisoner,” by Jeannette C. Nolan
■ “Mystery of the Missing,” by Ruth Herrick Myers
■ “Black Canyon Mystery,” by John Scott Douglas
■ “Jack’s Electric Signal,” by F. Lovell Combs
■ “Pluck and ‘Thousand Acres’,” by A. May Holaday
■ “The Egg Mystery,” by Earl Reed Silvers
■ “The Gassoway Goats,” by Ruth and Robert Osborne
■ “Scoop,” by E. Mark Phillips
■ “Four Men In Boats,” by Russell Gordon Carter
■ “The Secrets of the Creeping Desert,” by Richard N. Donelson

For this collection, I drew from the finest mystery stories for boys published during the twentieth century. I was already familiar with many of the authors, for their works were prolifically published by the leading magazines of the time–authors such as Ralph Henry Barbour, Ruth Herrick Myers, John Scott Douglas, A. May Holaday, Earl Reed Silvers, and Russell Gordon Carter.

Next week, I’ll tell you about The Talleyman Ghost and Other Mystery Stories for Girls.

You may secure copies from us; let us know if you wish any of the books to be individually inscribed. They ought to appeal to boys of all ages; they certainly appealed to me. Great stories are enjoyed by the old as well as the young. Get a head start on your Christmas stocking list by gifting a copy of this book to each son, grandson, nephew, godson, or friend.

ORDERING INFORMATION

Binding: Trade Paper
Pages: 174
Price: $14.98
Shipping: $4.50

Personally signed or inscribed by Joe Wheeler, if requested, at no extra cost.

Mail your request to Dr. Joe Wheeler, P.O. Box 1246, Conifer, CO 80433.
Or Phone to 303-838-2333.
Or send an email to: mountainauthor@gmail.com.