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When a Film Crew Arrives on Your Doorstep….(Video to Accompany Liz Curtis Higgs’ New Book, It’s Good to be Queen—Becoming as Bold, Gracious and Wise as the Queen of Sheba will also release 7/21)

Monday mornings don’t especially thrill me. You?

Gifted at overcrowding my calendar, I have to mentally gear up for the week, fussing at my own self for what I signed up for.

Oh, but….this past Monday? This was sure to be a Super Special Monday. It was to be “filming day” in our home with my dear friend, Liz Curtis Higgs, who just happens to also be a fabulously talented author and speaker. www.lizcurtishiggs.com

Her new book, It’s Good to Be Queen: Becoming as Bold, Gracious, and Wise as the Queen of Sheba, releases July 21st  .  This past Monday featured Liz teaching five of my sweet friends, one-on-one, all about the Queen of Sheba from the ten chapters of her book. Thus July 21st is a double bonus day: Watch for the book at your favorite book store (or better yet, you can pre-order it from http://www.itsgoodtobequeen.me .  You’ll also receive Scripture cards with a quote from each chapter, only available by pre-ordering) plus the video will pop onto www.vimeo.com/lizcurtishiggs . Don’t forget:  July 21st!

The “film crew” arrived, pulling in behind Liz. What you may not know, also caused me to stand there, mouth agape: In strolls Bill, Liz’ dear husband, armed with lighting equipment, sound boards, cameras, tripods, and laptops. I still can’t figure out how he got all of that in his car!!!

Bill was followed by Beth Higgs, their darling-n-gifted daughter-in-law who would be filming the shoot. Beth was followed by Lilly, Liz and Bill’s very creative daughter who always blesses my socks off. Lilly was the tech consultant juggling all the Higgses which was sheer fun to observe. (A ten-talent family comes to mind.) Who knew?

All we were missing was a tub of popcorn!!!

Naturally there was a morning rainstorm. Thankfully the rain subsided as we unloaded Liz’ outfits. Never mind she had sloping hangers which allowed one top to spiral downward smack dab in the middle of a rain puddle. Thank you very much, Satan.

Ahhh, but we wouldn’t let him get us down. Liz asked if we could set up an iron and ironing board. Scurry we did. Hugely tickled at our efforts, I simply said, “It takes a village.” (A very fun one at that!)

Trying to think of everything which could potentially wreak havoc for a taping, we took our perpetual puppy, Gracie, to Tatter, a phenomenal dog sitter/whisperer for a “play day”. Then, I unplugged the phones.

Thinking all was set, I never considered our Grandfather clock which chimed all day long! Funnier, it’s twelve minutes fast (???), so while the film crew thought to watch for the hour, the clock chimed at twelve before the hour. By God’s grace, this did not ruffle their feathers. grandfather clock My post, a/k/a the “Holding Area”, was in Hubster’s  “Man Cave”. You must know this little cottage, across from our home, is the real reason we bought this house. Amazingly, females are allowed. (Kidding, sorta.)

While the crew was filming, I got to chat with whoever was next to be filmed.   When they finished filming with one gal, Bill would come to fetch the next “student”. For me, it was like having long lunches to catch up with my buddies. STELLAR. Man Cave So you can have a sneak peak into our day, let’s hear from my friends what Monday was like plus here’s a Scripture which depicts our day as well:

“Dear friends, let us practice loving each other, for love comes from God and those who are loving and kind show that they are children of God, and that they are getting to know Him better.” (1 John 4:7 TLB)

Liz Points Something Out

This is how each shoot mostly looked, with a side view of the student and Liz teaching. Pictured here is Amy Cooper. She was our youngest student and was amazing.

Liz with Amy

Liz also introduced each of her students so you could see a full shot of them as well.

Sherry Leavell said, “I’ve known of Liz Curtis Higgs for many years, having heard her speak and having been a fan of her books and Bible studies. This was the first time I’ve had the opportunity to sit down one-on-one and get to know her in person.

The one word that comes to mind and what I discovered is that Liz is authentic. I looked that word up and the definition says, ‘genuine, real, lack of falsehood or misrepresentation.’ It could’ve had Liz’ name beside the definition.

She’s the real deal. She laughs at herself, she loves the Lord, she loves God’s Word and she loves others. She made me feel so comfortable and affirmed.

Another blessing from the day is that I was able to share this experience with my daughter, Amy…One last thought: I do believe we turned John’s Man Cave into a Woman Cave for the day!.” Major laugh out loud…..

Elizabeth Jeffries said, “Elizabeth, I felt like a queen, even tho’ I missed the Tiara bit! Waiting my turn and chatting with you in the Man Cave, catching up with Bill and the Higgs gals, observing the elaborate production of the taping (wow!), learning about Sheba and laughing with Liz….All special moments! What a blessing this video will be to all of us!”

Diane Kennedy said, “Since I was the first session of the morning, I had the opportunity to see some of the technical set up with audio/video and to chat with Liz…As you know, the tech team was her family. Nothing more authentic than working with the ones who know you best! And they worked seamlessly! I sensed great respect and love for our Lord all around.

When the camera came on, Liz put me at ease right away with her charm and seasoned teaching skills! I honestly felt as tho’ I’d been to Bible study.”

Denita Arnold said, “Liz, your family is precious. I loved seeing the Higgs family in action as Kingdom workers. God is certainly blessing your efforts to show us all who HE is thru’ your wonderful encouragement and teaching. You are a treasure and I am so grateful to have been able to sit at a table with you.

It was an answer to prayer that I’ve prayed. I’d hoped that one day I would get to visit with you…anything else is just frosting.” Smile. Liz with Denita And, finally from Lizzie: “Elizabeth, What a blast we had, taking over your beautiful house on Monday! I loved meeting your friends one-by-one, and opening the Word with them. It was my joy to teach them, but even more thrilling to learn from their helpful comments. So FUN! We could never have done it without your superior hostess skills in the Man Cave. THANK YOU!”

Ah, well, dear, dear Liz, it was MY joy, honor, and privilege to be included. Our friendship is one of my favorite gifts from God.

Before we wrapped up, Liz and I did a brief shoot for the camera because she wanted to talk about our friendship and our mutual love of opening God’s Word together. We were going to do this first thing in the morning, but the set-up of all the equipment took longer than we thought, so we did this at the end of the day.

By this time, we were a tad on the slaphappy side, so for more giggles, we donned tiaras. Check it out: Liz Laughing with Elizabeth How many girlfriends can you do that with???!!!! Thank you Liz, Bill, Beth, and Lilly for a day beyond my wildest dreams. And many thanks to my good friends who dared to do something a little out of the ordinary, stepping out of their comfort zone. You will be blessed!!!

Don’t miss the Queen of Sheba (Crown Jewels) jewelry also available thanks to the wonderful women from www.vibellajewelry.com Vibella helps “provide employment, education, and opportunities to artisans in Hairi, Mexico and the United States.” It’s very affordable, adorable, and a wonderful way to help these ladies!

Let’s close with my top three favorite pieces of  “Wisdom from the Queen of Sheba” (out of ten!!!):

Encourage everyone who crosses your path.

Praise God in all things and in every season.

End well by loving well all the days of your life.” (From the final chapter in It’s Good to Be Queen.)

‘Til next time!

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REVIEW of Liz Curtis Higgs’ “A Wreath of Snow”, and INTERVIEW with Liz!

Liz adores a cup of steaming hot tea now and then, so let’s all go brew a quick cup and sit down together to talk about her new Christmas novella, A Wreath of Snow.  Wherever you are, let’s just pretend we’re cozied up by a warm fire, primed for some fun discussion.

FB Teacup

I suppose a disclaimer is in order since many of you know I’m blessed to call Liz a dear friend, mentor, advisor, and occasional therapist!  The Lord crossed our paths many years ago and I’m forever grateful.  Therefore…I’ll try to be objective. (Mischievous  grin.)

Seriously, A Wreath of Snow is a rich, enjoyable read.  Because it’s a novella, it’s also a quick read.  However, I was determined to savor every word knowing what a wordsmith Liz is.

If you’ve read other books by Liz, you’ll be shocked to know this one is also set in Scotland!  Ever so slightly enamored with Scotland, Liz takes us back to Christmas Eve in 1894, in the lovely town of Stirling.  (As I type, Liz is taking two different groups, a week each, through a lovely tour of her favorite country, Scotland.  We ought to be snacking on a scone or Scottish shortbread in her honor.)

Stirling Scotland King's Knot and Victorian Neighborhood for EH

Perfectly picturesque, complete with snow falling, we meet several characters.  Two of which happen to be taking a train, in the same car, to Edinburgh.

 You’ll become acquainted with Margaret Campbell and Gordon Shaw.  Liz will prove to you, there are no coincidences in life.  The sweet and most gracious Almighty orchestrates several God-incidences throughout A Wreath of Snow.  See how many you can find!  They are beautiful!

Pretty quickly, the plot derails.  (No pun intended ‘til you read it, then total pun intended!)  Not as in the plot falls apart, but you’ll be shocked early on.  And just when you think, “Oh, now we’re headed in a safe direction…”, be prepared to be stunned again!

Stirling Railway Station 1894 for EH

Some of Liz’ characters cause you to become quickly attached to them, and some, well, not so much.  Relatable  for certain.  Her excellent descriptions  make you say to yourself, “Oh, brother, does he ever sound like so-and-so…” (That’s the unlikeable sort).  Then on the flipside, you’ll be saying about some others, “Oh, now they are such a match!”

While set in the 19th century, Liz broaches topics which nearly topple us right here in the 21st century. See if any of these have every tempted you: guilt, running from God, weaving webs of lies, lack of forgiveness, lack of repentance, and dodging attempts for reconciliation?   Oh, please guide us Lord and guard us from temptation.

One of the many things I love about this novella is how Liz purposefully includes Biblical truth on these very topics.  Scripture speaks to these characters.  You find yourself telling them to sit up and pay attention!

A favorite paragraph will give you a taste of A Wreath of Snow:  “The tension inside her slowly began to unwind.  She heard the minister’s voice but deeper still, another voice, even more tender.  I have loved thee with an everlasting love.  Tears welled up, threatening to spill onto her lap.  Meg knew this voice, these words, their meaning.  …But on Christmas morning in a candlelit sanctuary she’d known since childhood, Meg could not refuse him.  And  did not wish to.  With loving kindness I have drawn thee.  Her breathing deepened, and a sense of warmth moved through her, despite the frigid temperature.”  Aren’t you right there in the next pew, right beside Meg?  See how Liz draws you in?

Park Church for EH

This novella is not just a great read for you during Christmas, it’s a great gift for you to give your friends and family.  Big brownie points for you the gift-giver too! Guess I’d better not tell you anymore without giving away the rest of the story.  Just trust me, you’ll love it.

Well, let’s chat with Liz for a minute.  I’ve thrown her some questions and let’s see how she answers:  (By the way, if you’d like  to hear Liz speak in person about this lovely novella, mark you calendar to come to our next Branches Book Club meeting, Monday, January 28th, from 6:30-8:00 p.m., at Middletown United Methodist Church. More details on the book club can be found in a separate blog post, “Brand-new Branches Book Club“.)

FB Liz in front of red door SQUARE

Let’s talk about the book first, and then you….

While writing the novella, did you find yourself liking one character more than another?

All the characters quickly became very dear to me, even the hard-to-love ones, like Alan. That’s just the nature of writing fiction. It’s not unlike being a mother! Each character has their own back story, their own reasons for doing what they do, and so they win my sympathy early on.

Flawed characters are especially interesting because they have the most capacity for change. In A Wreath of Snow, Gordon was my favorite (shhh! don’t tell the others!). There’s just something about a reformed Bad Boy that really grabs my heart.

Where in the world do you find all your epigraphs, much less fitting ones for your novels?

I spend a crazy amount of time reading through books and searching online for just the right literary quote to capture the heart of my book, as well as the heart of each chapter. Whenever possible, I use quotes from the time period in which I’m writing or from an earlier era—so, nothing from the 20th Century—and if that pithy quote was spoken by a Scot, so much the better!

Will you write a sequel to A Wreath of Snow?

I would love to do that, if I can just figure out how to squeeze another project into my writing schedule. I had no intention of continuing the story when I wrote it, but after I turned in the manuscript, the characters kept talking in my head. When that happens, I know there is more story to be told.

I’ve already chosen a title and epigraph, and have begun plotting. We shall see how God leads!

Tell us WHY  & HOW you came to adore Scotland and a little about your new Scottish blog.

Oh, Scotland. It’s a beautiful country with the friendliest people I’ve ever met. The history, the literature, the culture, the language, and the music all fascinate me, and have for two decades or more. But the reason I write about Scotland is all about God! This interview on YouTube reveals just how that happened:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f_kwlS7lTFs&feature=youtu.be

My new website, MyScottishHeart.com, is a gathering place for anyone who enjoys my novels or adores Scotland as much as I do. It’s filled with photos from my 15 trips there, and fun things I’ve learned over the years.

Here are all the places online where you can find out more about my Scottish historical fiction and the misty isle that I love:

Website: http://www.MyScottishHeart.com

Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/MyScottishHeart

Twitter: http://www.Twitter.com/MyScottishHeart

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/lizcurtishiggs/a-victorian-visit-to-stirling-scotland/

Tell us something most people wouldn’t ordinarily know about you.

Tee-hee. I think everything people might care to know about me is either in one of my books or online somewhere! Still, they may not know I won a Most Improved Bowler trophy in the 1970s!

What do you like to do for fun, when you’re not on a deadline (even tho’ you are always on a deadline!!!)?

I love watching movies, at home or at the cinema. I love getting lost in a nice, thick historical novel. I love having lunch with friends. I love going for walks with my sweet husband. And I love traveling to new places.

How do you juggle writing, traveling, speaking, family? 

Not very well, actually! The key for me is to immerse myself wholly in each moment. Rather than fretting about what I should be doing elsewhere, I embrace the now and look for ways to serve God where I am at any given hour.

How will you and your family celebrate Christmas this year?

Our traditions are simple, even silly, but we love them. Trimming the tree is a family affair, with a particular holiday CD to put us in the mood, chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven, and our grown daughter running through the house with the tree skirt tied around her neck like a caped superhero—something she’s done since she was three.

Christmas morning begins with stockings, then breakfast, then gifts are opened one at a time, amid much laughing and hugging. Christmas dinner comes next, with a traditional Kentucky menu: honey ham, corn pudding, green beans, flaky biscuits, cooked apples, and an assortment of pies for dessert. By evening the house is quiet again and we’re curled up on the couch, grateful not for our gifts, but for one another, and for the One whose birth changed everything.

Do you have an all-time favorite book?  Author?

For nonfiction, that would be Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. For fiction, Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

If you were to give a book to someone for a gift (besides one of your own), what would it be?

See above! ;>) Actually, I choose books for friends and family with great care, hoping to give them hours of reading pleasure. Books are the BEST gift, I think.

You know my favorite book of yours is Embrace Grace because I find articulating God’s grace very difficult.  You seem to have loads of grace beautifully woven into each of your books.  Can you talk about that a bit?

Bless you for your kind words about a real book of my heart. I’ll be leading a study of Embrace Grace on my Bible Study Blog in January and February 2013. So looking forward to walking through the pages with my readers! Pop on http://www.LizCurtisHiggs.com/blog/  to join us.

Grace is at the heart of everything I write. Because God has freely given us this precious gift, I’m compelled to share it with others—on the platform, in my books, online. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

If I may say in closing, Elizabeth, you are an abundant grace-giver. Bless you for sharing yourself and your heart for God on this blog!

Thanks again, Liz, for taking the time to do the interview!  I pray you’re having a BLAST in Scotland!

‘Til next time…

(This December blog post is obviously going to be dedicated to sweet Lizzie.  She’s had an unbelievable, milestone year:  2012 marks her 30th year as a Christian and the printing of her 30th book!!!!!  Please join me in offering a grand standing ovation to our dear Liz Curtis Higgs!  Bravo!  Please keep writing & may God continue to bless you abundantly.)

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Filed under Author Interviews, Book Reviews