Terra Hangen Interview

A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts
by Trish Berg, Terra Hangen, Cathy Messecar,  Brenda Nixon,
Karen Robbins, & Leslie Wilson

Terra Hangen, mother of two adult sons, lives in coastal California with her husband and their two cats. She loves to write and share tips on gardening, Christmas celebrations, cats, recipes, book reviews, and everything else that catches her fancy. Her articles have been published in Country Woman, Victorian Homes, Back Home, San Diego Family Magazine, Lutheran Digest, Mature Living and many others. She is currently writing a gardening book that includes scripture. Her garden column appears each month at www.positivelyfeminine.org

Terra along with five other women authored “Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts,” a book written to help us unclutter Christmas and bring harmony to this busy season. Turning the pages of this practical book, you’ll find tips for creating traditions, gift giving, growing myrrh, and so much more! The colorful eye-catching design makes this book the ideal gift!

I understand that you co-authored your book with five other women, what prompted your group to come together on this project?

We are all members of an online Christian writer’s group, and I noticed that Brenda Nixon, like me, was a Christian who wrote for secular publications. I sent her an email and asked if we could be Barnabas partners, and our group quickly grew to 6 gals. Cathy had the idea for a book of Christmas firsts, and we all got involved, with Cathy Messecar doing much of the shaping of the book.

How did you go about naming it, “A Scrapbook of Christmas Firsts?”

Cathy came up with Christmas Firsts, and we liked “quilt” and “scrapbook.” I love “scrapbook” because all of our tiny parts created a more beautiful “whole.” We call ourselves “The Word Quilters,” so we got to use both words.

Was it difficult to coordinate the project with several writers being involved?

Yes and no. Together we work remarkably well, and agree that the hand of God is in this. Each writer has different strengths–I am called the “garden guru.” I wrote many green related tips for the holidays like how to make a wreath of pine cones, and how to select a living tree. Leslie is an expert on several aspects of Christmas, and gives many presentations on the topic, so she was already poised to contribute.

We have been surprised that our votes on book related questions were often unanimous. Now how often does that happen in everyday life with a group of six gals? (By the way, we have never all been in the same room together. Only one of us, Karen Robbins, has met all of us.)

Since I’m a designer, I have to ask…who designed the book cover? It’s beautiful!

Thank you. Leafwood Publishers used Thinkpen Design to create the artwork, and they have won awards for other books they have designed.

The entire book is as pretty as the cover, and I wish you all could see the pages; it is not white paper with text, but full color on each page, with a scrapbook feel.

When we saw the color designs for the cover online, and got to vote on our favorite, we were unanimous in loving this cover, with the blue background and silver stars.

What is one of your favorite “firsts” from the book?

Several favorites are “Purple Stocking” where Karen describes how her adopted daughter chose the color of her first Christmas stocking, and “Mr. Paul” where Brenda describes how her daughters created a bountiful gift basket as a surprise for an elderly man.  “Decorating For Love” tells about Trish’s attempt to create a tradition while decorating an outdoor tree in freezing weather.

Is there a general message our readers can take away from this book?

We help readers put Jesus front and center for the holiday, and this takes the pressure off of doing too much. We share some easy cookie recipes, my baklava recipe, and ideas for creating family traditions.

What great Christmas tips or ideas did you glean from your co-authors?

I felt a few pangs of joy as I read their contributions, and a smidgeon of sadness (just a touch) that I hadn’t learned about their traditions years ago.

Cathy explains how to set up a Santa chair, which won’t cost you any money, and Leslie describes a fun balloon bouquet tradition.

You’ve said that creating traditions creates stronger families. Can you share a personal example of that?

Things families do each year become threads that bind us together. One day my children may recreate some of our traditions for their own families, and take them to see the Nutcracker Ballet, for example.

How does this book differ from other Christmas books?

It offers stories of Christmas firsts, which I have never seen in any other book. The idea is the first time for a Christmas milestone, like a prodigal child returning home, or my story of my first Christmas camping in the Everglades.

I understand that you’re on the CWO blogroll. Where do you hang your hat in the blogosphere?

My own blog is http://terragarden.blogspot.com  I blog about all sorts of topics, with a focus of gardening ideas, and also book reviews and book giveaways.

Each of us blogs one day a week at http://scrapbookofchristmasfirsts.blogspot.com
My day is Friday. This blog is an ever growing resource for any Christmas subject, with answers to many holiday dilemmas.

How long have you been blogging?

I began my blog in January 2008, I visit other folk’s blogs and leave comments, and especially like gardeners’ blogs.

Where can readers go to find out more about the book, and can we order it online?

You can order from Amazon and from Christianbook.com, call toll free 1 877 816-4455, or visit: 

Lots of people have told us that if you hold the book in your hands, you will want to buy it. It has a warm, friendly, scrapbooky feel to it.

You’re right, Terra! I’ve held it in my hand, and thought that it was one of the most beautiful books that I’ve seen. It would definitely make a great gift, or a coffee table book for the holidays.

When you think of Christmas, is there a Bible verse that comes to mind?
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16 KJV

In closing, is there anything that you’d like to add?

Writing is a journey, and I am very joyful to have my writing partners with me: Trish Berg, Leslie Wilson, Cathy Messecar, Brenda Nixon and Karen Robbins. We are now a very close family and hope that our creativity and love of Jesus will reach out and hug you in the pages of this book.

Great job, ladies. We look forward to seeing many more book projects from you all in the future!

(Congratulations to Blair Frye, who won a copy of this book!)

Find out more about the book at:

Visit Terra at her blog:

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