In this special bonus episode, Maryann Landers and I talk about her new book entitled Alaskan Christmas. She also shares some fun facts about Alaska and the local sled dog races in her area. We also talk about our writing process and she shares some special tips and inspiration for writers of all stages in the author process.
INSPIRATIONAL JOURNEYS PRESENTS!
Alaskan Christmas with Maryann Landers
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Thursday, December 8, 2022
MORE ABOUT GUEST AUTHOR Maryann Landersâ€¦
Alaskan based author Maryann Landers writes womenâ€™s faith filled fiction based on true stories of extraordinary women of her magnificent state. She loves to showcase the unique north and give her readers a little taste of rustic Alaska.
While writing in her log home in the woods she is also looking forward to her next adventure with her Alaskan husband, juggling mom tasks such as crafting homemade meals from moose and caribou meat, building DIY projects from scrap wood piles and guiding her teens in their homeschooling.
Maryannâ€™s featured book is entitled, Alaskan Christmas
Iâ€™d anticipated my first Christmas as a newlywed with excitement,
Then a crisis threatens to crush the strides Iâ€™ve made in my faith.
After completing my fall semester, I’m desperate to join my family at my parents’ log cabin and show my new husband how Christmas in rural Alaska sparkles. Lazying in front of the woodstove, snowmaching across the frozen lake, and helping my mom make festive treats will be the perfect way to regroup before my teaching practicum) starts
Before leaving to enjoy the holidays, we attend a friendâ€™s wedding at a Bible camp outside of Palmer, Alaska. The rustic backdrop sounds romantic and memorable until Collin and I have a fight and it threatens to ruin the holidays.
When we face a blustery mishap will I recoil to a flurry of insecurities or will I discover Godâ€™s promised peace and a resolve to plow through?
Purchase Direct and Save: (There is some fun merc on there as well)
â€œChristmas in Alaska was always the most peaceful and endearing time of year. This Christmas was especially memorable, as it was my first one as a newlywed.
Growing up on a remote lakefront property, my childhood memories of the season were filled with long sunrises and sunsets, along with ample time cuddled near the woodstove reading books. Each year, my family shared Christmas celebrations with other families in the community since many of us in Alaska lived far away from our own.
You would think no one would want to be outside in the middle of an Alaskan winter, but my family enjoyed plenty of traditional outdoor Christmas activities. Of course, I always preferred to watch from the comfort of the cozy couch, gazing out the large living room window at my brother and his friends as they snow-machined on the lake. I was more than happy to bake a pumpkin roll, find a warm blanket to cover my legs, and slide on my slippers for the rest of the afternoon.
This particular evening, I sat in our apartment in Anchorage and checked the boxes on my Day-Timer, licking a candy cane while noting the scribbles Iâ€™d etched for the weekend before Christmas. My former roommate Candiceâ€™s wedding was penciled in.
Recently married myself, back in August, I let out a sigh of understanding. A formidable amount of work went into my own quick ceremony with Collin, and I empathized with all the planning and organizing Candice was tackling.
As the radio played Randy Travisâ€™s version of “Jingle Bell Rock,” I rubbed the embossing on the invitation. Candiceâ€™s wedding celebration to her high school sweetheart, Sean, was a bright spot Iâ€™d anticipated during these dark days of December. Candice and Sean were starting out right, though, keeping it simple: a ceremony with friends and family at a local Bible camp situated on a lake outside of Palmer, Alaska. The casual setting and snow-covered-mountain backdrop promised a peaceful memory to be followed by a wintery outdoor reception with skating, riding on toboggans behind snowmachines, and visiting by the lakeside bonfire.
“Collin?” I called out to my husband, who was making himself a cup of hot chocolate in the adjacent kitchen. “Can you help me think of a gift for the wedding next weekend?”
“Just give them money.” The clinking he made in his mug with his spoon filled the small apartment.
I crunched my candy in my mouth and rolled my eyes, knowing he wouldnâ€™t see my unimpressed face. Giving gifts didnâ€™t come naturally to me, unlike my mom, who thrived on timely and thoughtful gifts for each occasion. Thinking of presents was workâ€”hard workâ€”and I needed help. “Well, I was hoping to find something unique that someone else might not have thought to get them. Like for our wedding, what stood out to you as one of the best presents?” Tucking my legs under me, I pulled the folded afghan my mom had crocheted for my high school graduation from the arm of the couch and spread it across myself.
Collin walked into the living room and eased into the oversized beanbag chair on the floor, carefully balancing the frosted mug his mom had made him for his birthday in his hands to keep his coffee from spilling. “Thatâ€™s a hard one. Ask your mom. Sheâ€™s good at that sort of thing.”
I shook my head. “I didnâ€™t inherit that trait from her.”
During my teens, I questioned what I shared in common with her. We rarely saw eye to eye until close to my senior year when I began to see her kind character more fully. Iâ€™d pushed against almost every wish she had for me, as well as her patient instruction. Iâ€™d tested the boundaries of both my parentsâ€™ love. Now, in regret, I wished for those times back so I could join my mom around the house and property and learn her many talents.
My older brother Rusty and I moved to rural Alaska from Michigan when we were only five and seven. A summer vacation to Alaska turned into a job at a roadhouse for my parents, and then ended up being a permanent move when my dad chose to go to a small Bible school in Glennallen. During his first semester, my parents purchased property over thirty miles away from the town. We lived in a little cabin with no running water for over five years, and our days were full of simple joys on the lake and in the woods.
“Iâ€™m sure youâ€™ll think of something.” Collin added, opening a skiing magazine next to him on the floor.
My man of few words wasnâ€™t much help in the gift-brainstorming department. However, he was gifted at meticulously fixing most anything, bore the patience of Job, and was the most handsome man I knew.
When in college, Rusty made friends with Collin. I met him when Rusty took up an offer to room in Collinâ€™s parentsâ€™ basement while he studied at the university. I relied on my older brother for rides around the city when it was my turn to attend the same university a couple of years later, and soon, Collin was offering to drive me instead. His shy smile and tender ways drew me to him. The enduring care he had for his folks was admirable for a young man. Now, having been married for a few months, I hoped and prayed that one day weâ€™d have a family with a whole brood of little ones just like their daddy.
“Thatâ€™s just it. I canâ€™t think.” I rubbed my temples with my hands. “Now that classes are done, Iâ€™m having trouble focusing on much of anything.”
I was studying to be a teacher and wrapping up my last year of college. I had one last semester in the new yearâ€”as a student teacher.
Collin moved next to me and pulled me in close. “With finals done, Candiceâ€™s wedding, and time at your parentsâ€™ place, Iâ€™m certain youâ€™ll find the time to clear your head.”
An inch under five feet tall, I felt like a miniature doe next to a broad-shouldered, muscular moose. Sheltered within his presence, my vulnerabilities faded.
“Maybe money really is the best gift. Then they can decide how to use it to get something they might need.” I reached up and stroked his chin, and he smiled and tilted his head to read his magazine.
He spent many hours outside, and the reflection of the sun off the snow had given his face a brazen glow. Heâ€™d grown up in the city of Anchorage, and his family entertained the Alaskan lifestyle in their own way: with hiking and skiing. Heâ€™d taken cycling more seriously the last couple of years, until he crashed his bike shortly after we were married. The quick-release wheel had come unclasped and sent him hurtling to the pavement. Heâ€™d shrugged it off and planned to get a new bike in the spring.
“Ha, I can hardly believe he did that hill so fast,” Collin commented to himself about the article he was reading as he turned the page. “Which reminds me, Iâ€™m going to ask Rusty if heâ€™s bringing his sled this weekend.” He walked over to the cordless phone on the counter.
“What?” I pulled my legs in closer. “Câ€™mon. Youâ€™re not going to ski behind the snowmachine, are you?”
“Yah, why not?” shrugging his shoulders, Collin dialed my brotherâ€™s number.
Determined to make my point, I talked louder as he listened to the receiver. “Because”â€”I moved close to the edge of the seat and raised my voiceâ€””itâ€™s really dangerous. Even for you. Iâ€™ve heard of skiers getting injured at competitions in the spring on the mountains outside of Valdez, and I donâ€™t want you getting hurt.”
He waved me off. “Oh, hey Rusty, itâ€™s Collin. Just wondering if youâ€™re bringing your sled to the reception this weekend. Talk to you later.” He turned off the phone and picked up his mug. “He must not be home yet.”
I pictured Collin racing behind Rustyâ€™s new snowmachine. “We canâ€™t afford to have any mishaps.” Blurting out another pivotal point, I crossed my arms. As newlywed college kids, medical bills would ruin us financially. The days of security on our parentsâ€™ insurance plans were over.
“Youâ€™re assuming something horrible is going to happen.” His back turned to me, he picked up his ski goggles from a hook by the entryway door and placed them in a duffle bag. “Iâ€™ve taught skiing for years, navigating the hills of Alyeska Ski Resort, and now youâ€™re telling me I shouldnâ€™t ride behind a sled across a little lake?” He turned to face me narrowing his eyes and crossed his arms. “Iâ€™m not one of your students who has to ask permission to get a drink at the water fountain.”
I bit at my top lip, and heat pulsated from the top of my head down to my toes. I kicked my blanket off and sifted through memories of my parents. How did they communicate when tempers flared? I longed to dart for our room and wait out the brewing storm to stew over the disappointment Iâ€™d stirred up like Iâ€™d done countless times as a teen when I acted before thinking.
Collin stuffed his ski pants in the oversized duffle bag where he kept his other winter gear and tossed the bag toward the door.
In silent protest, I stood up tossed my half eaten candy cane on the coffee table and hurried to the bathroom. Masking my shaking hands, I pressed them under my eyes, hoping to blanket the emotion threatening to erupt from my tiny frame.â€
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As authors, creative artists and entrepreneurs, we often find it hard to stand out above the constant chatter on the internet. If that sounds like you, Iâ€™d like to help you boost the visibility of your brand. My name is Ann Harrison-Barnes and I run a podcast called Inspirational Journeys. On my podcast I post solo episodes of value to my listeners, led by the Holy Spirit. I also talk to authors, creative artists and entrepreneurs who want to share their inspirational journeys with the world. If youâ€™re interested in being a guest on my show, please send an email to email@example.com with Inspirational Journeys in the subject line of your email, so I can send you my featured book questionnaire.
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