Monday, November 9, 2009

Cecil Murphey & Marley Gibson interview

Interview with Cecil “Cec” Murphey

by Marley Gibson

Co-authors of Christmas Miracles, from St. Martin’s Press

I am extremely privileged to have the opportunity today to talk to my friend and co-author, Cecil “Cec” Murphey, and to chat about our upcoming book, Christmas Miracles.

Marley: Cec, thanks for spending some time with me today.

Cec: Marley, it's great that you could take time away from important things like making a living to spend a little time with me.

Marley: I’m so jazzed about our Christmas Miracles book that’s coming out soon. I’ve had a lot of questions from folks wanting to know how we met, what brought us together, etc. So, I thought we’d do a back and forth on how it all came to be. Of course, I have to give props to our amazing agent and friend, Deidre Knight, for bringing us together. For those of you who don’t know, Cec co-authored the runaway New York Times bestselling hit 90 Minutes in Heaven with Don Piper.

Cec: I have to say thanks to Deidre Knight as well. Between Deidre and my assistant, Twila Belk, I've been able to sell quite a few books. 90 Minutes in Heaven has been my big book. I'm also proud of a book I wrote in 1990 called Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story. The book has never been out of print and has hit close to four million in sales. Early this year, Cuba Gooding Jr. starred in the made-for-TV film version.

Marley: That’s amazing! You are truly prophetic and definitely “the man behind the words.” Now, people ask how we teamed up. Sadly, there was a personal tragedy that brought Cec and me together as friends.

Cec: True. In early 2007, our house burned and our son-in-law died. Aside from the grief over Alan, we lost everything. Deidre and Jan, my-then-assistant, sent the word out of our tragedy without telling me. I'm immensely grateful for every gift people sent, but I probably wouldn't have admitted I needed help and wouldn't have asked. They taught me how much we need other people.

Marley: Deidre put out a call to other clients of The Knight Agency, to help Cec and his family out in any way in their time of need. At the time, my company was moving and we were cleaning house. We had a ton of office supplies that we were either going to throw away or give to some of the charities the company worked with. I got my boss’ permission to send a large care package to Cec…full of office supplies for him to re-stock his writer’s office. You name it…post-its, staples, paper clips, pens, pencils, markers, white out, ruler, scissors, paper, notebooks, notepads, envelopes, a laptop case, tape, glue, folders, binder clips…etc. A veritable potpourri of office delights. I was hoping that it would help Cec have a sense of getting his office back so he could keep working.

Cec: Marley's gift was the most unexpected I received. We hadn't met, although Deidre Knight had spoken of her many times and kept telling me she was wonderful. I wonder if you can imagine what it was like for me to open that box from someone I didn't know. I saw all those practical things for my office and yelled for my wife. I felt as if I were reading a first-grade book. "Look! Look and see! Oh, look!" I was overwhelmed by the gift and even more to receive it from a stranger. Those supplies were the most practical gift anyone could have given me. I'm still using black paper clips and red folders from Marley.

Marley: Awww…thanks, Cec! I didn’t have to think twice about doing it. Writing is such a solitary “sport,” but the writing community always astounds me with how they help their own. Not long after that, over plates of spinach and Gouda omelets, Deidre introduced me to Cec in person and I was thrilled to finally meet the man behind the words. Deidre knew we needed to work on a project together and thus began our brainstorming. What did you think of that first meeting, Cec, and cooking up the idea to work together?

Cec: Deidre and I had already spoken about a Christmas book and I had some idea about what it should contain, but nothing had come together. One day Deidre told me that Marley was coming to visit her and she wanted us to work together on a Christmas project. Marley and I talked before we ate and again during the meal. Everything felt right to me. I knew my strengths and Marley knew hers (and Deidre knew both of us). Everything clicked. Marley, a far better networker than I am, immediately sent out the word for submissions. Within days she had almost four times more than we could use. (She read every one of them!)

Marley: I was truly impressed with the submissions we received and it was hard narrowing it down to the ones we chose for the book. We’re fortunate to have such a go-getter agent in Deidre Knight. Cec, can you share how the whole idea of Christmas Miracles came about and what you thought of the project originally?

Cec: For me, it actually started while I was on the rapid-rail train from the Atlanta airport when I listened to teens talk about Christmas and it was mostly about gifts. I had the idea then, but nothing really came together. Months later when Deidre I and had a meeting, she brought up the idea of a compilation and mentioned my working with Marley. I've been Deidre Knight's client since 1997 and I've learned to listen carefully when she comes up with an idea. I said yes before she gave me all the information.

Marley: That’s the truth about Deidre! Getting back to those submissions, I want to say we got more than two hundred submissions for Christmas Miracles. So many wonderful stories to read through and select for the book. It was a challenge to pick and choose which ones were right for the book, but I loved every minute of it. After I chose the entries that would go into the book, Cec toiled long hours editing the works for a unified voice. What was the biggest challenge you found in the editing process, Cec?

Cec: I've been a ghostwriter and collaborator for twenty-plus years and this was a switch to give the book a unified voice—which was mine. It would have been easier to stay with each writer's voice, but the book—like many compilations—would have been uneven in tone and quality. When I discussed this via email with our delightful editor, Rose Hilliard, she was (to my surprise) familiar with my work. She told me she liked the warm tone of my writing and that I don't waste words. "That's the voice we want," she said. It still wasn't easy, but it was an exciting challenge. After Marley and I agreed on the stories and gave them that unified voice, our editor pulled six contributions. Although different, Rose felt they were too similar to other stories.

Marley: Can you give our readers a preview of the book? A favorite story perhaps…or one that moved you to tears? (I have to say the little boy who wished for nothing but to be able to read a book all the way through because of his stutter had me bawling when I read the submission.)

Cec: That's not fair! I liked them all. The one that touched me most, however, is the last story in the book, "Sean's Question." We had almost finished the book and I was teaching at a conference in Florida. I felt we needed one strong story at the end. Despite all the good ones, I didn't feel fully satisfied to conclude the book. On the last day of the conference, I met a conferee named Sara Zinn for a consultation. As we talked, I mentioned Christmas Miracles and that I still needed one more story. "I have a Christmas story," she said and told me about Sean. As I listened, tears filled my eyes—but, being the macho type I am, I was sure it was an allergy. Sara wrote the story, and it became the one I sought.

Marley: Oh yes…that one is an emotional one all right. It was meant to be in the book because of how you met at the conference. Now, you and I have both had challenges in our lives that others might have found too much to take, but we are both very strong in our faith and our relationship with God. How do you think Christmas Miracles is going to help others feel closer to God and experience His miracles in their own lives?

Cec: Awareness and appreciation are the two things I want readers to grasp. Awareness means for them to realize that they're never totally alone in life. Those unexpected, out-of-the-ordinary events remind us of that. Appreciation means to be thankful for what we already have. Too often, and especially at Christmas, we focus on what we'd like or what is supposed to make us happy. Christmas Miracles gently reminds readers of both.

Marley: In this day and age when our country is fighting two wars, unemployment is high, and a lot of people have a lack of hope and faith for their future, what do you want readers of the book to take away from Christmas Miracles and how can the stories in our book help provide comfort to those struggling?

Cec: I want readers to see that miracles do happen—sometimes simple, unexpected blessings or those that involve the supernatural (as in one of Marley's stories). I call myself a serious Christian. For me, the world's greatest miracle began with the birth of Jesus. Regardless of a person's religion, this book encourages readers to think about life during the Christmas season and see that life as more than gifts and celebrations. It's also a reminder that God loves us and hears our needy cries.

Marley: Beautifully put, Cec, and I couldn’t agree with you more. Can we share what’s next after Christmas Miracles? J

Cec: Why it's the Cec and Marley show, of course. Because of our go-getter agent and our enthusiastic editor, we've already received thumbs up for The Christmas Spirit. This will be stories of people who express the true spirit of Christmas by acts of love and kindness, for release in the fall of 2011.

Marley: And I can’t wait to start working on that project! Thank you so much for your time, Cec, and answering my questions. It was a privilege and honor to work with you and I look forward to our future projects together. You’ve helped me along during a trying time and I appreciate your friendship and support.

Cec: I liked this project because Marley had to send out the word, collect submissions, read them, and discard the weaker ones. I get to see only the better-written stories. (Don't tell her that I have the better job.) Although I mentioned only one story, all of those in the book touched me because of the poignancy of their situations and the miraculous answers. I won't say the stories increased my faith, but they increased my appreciation for the delightful mix of human need and divine intervention.

Marley: Thanks again, Cec! God Bless! And to our readers, please be sure to pick up a copy of CHRISTMAS MIRACLES, out October 13, 2009 from St. Martin’s Press. It’s a great stocking stuffer or gift basket filler. We hope you, too, will discover your own Christmas Miracles in your life.





Award-winning writer Cecil Murphey is the author or co-author of 114 published books, including the NY Times bestseller 90 Minutes in Heaven (with Don Piper) and Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story (with Dr. Ben Carson). He’s also the author of When Someone You Love Has Cancer and When God Turned Off the Lights, both 2009 releases. Murphey’s books have sold millions and have given hope and encouragement to countless readers around the world. For more information, visit www.cecilmurphey.com.


Marley Gibson is a young adult author whose first published books in the Sorority 101 series were released by Penguin Group in 2008 under the pen name of Kate Harmon. She has a new Ghost Huntress series with Houghton Mifflin written under her own name. She can be found online at www.marleygibson.com.


(Atlanta, GA) Many ordinary people experience Christmas miracles—those special moments during the season of giving and receiving when Christmas becomes more than just a holiday. In Christmas Miracles (St. Martin’s Press, October 2009), Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson share the stories of those who have recognized the special moments that transcend daily experience and transform their lives.

In these stories, people overcome desperate situations through a miraculous twist of fate—all during the most wonderful time of the year. A young boy sits down to read a Christmas book and discovers that his learning disability has vanished. A woman stranded in a blizzard is rescued by a mysterious stranger who she suspects is an angel. And a woman living far from home gets an answer to her prayer in the form of an unexpected gift.

Bestselling author Cecil Murphey says, “We all face discouraging times, whether it's the lack of money, being stuck on a road in a snowstorm, feeling stress, or being hungry and homeless. But God's help is available. I want readers to see that miracles do happen—sometimes simple, unexpected blessings or those that involve the supernatural. We start by asking, and in strange and wonderful ways God tiptoes into our dark nights; we experience renewed joy in life and witness God in action through people and unexpected events.”







Leave a comment for a chance to win the Christmas Miracles gift basket.

Tell me what do you put on top of your tree?

Wouldn’t you love to take home this amazing basket filled with Christmas goodies galore? This amazing gift basket contains everything you’ll need to make your Christmas holiday a success. Inside you’ll find a stocking stuffed with hard candies, kitchen towels and oven mitts, seasonal potpourri, holiday-colored candles, stuffed animals that talk, snowman candle, nutcrackers, Christmas ornaments, gift bags, gift tags, gift bows, ornament hangers, Christmas cookie cutters, a Merry Christmas doorstopper, a picture frame, Christmas cards, Santa ear muffs, and not just one, but two copies of Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson’s Christmas Miracles – one to keep and one to give away to someone special.

Good news. KCWC is willing to ship anywhere. So come on those not in US and leave a comment. (for a second bonus: after first comment leave a second comment and tell me where you live). This is an open Giveaway to anywhere. Yeah!!!
Drawing will be Nov. 23rd. (this is new date: extended) Be sure to leave a way to for contact.


A copy of this book was provided for review by KCWC.

This blog tour is through:



books

45 comments:

Katy said...

Great interview and great giveaway! :)

I like to put a simple star at the top of our tree.

srfbluemama at gmail dot com

Luvdaylilies said...

A star tops our tree=)
Luvdaylilies at bellsouth dot net

Shawntele said...

We put a star on our tree as well. :O)

savedbygrace7215(at)yahoo(dot)com

Charity said...

We like to put a star with Bethlehem written on it on top of our tree. Please enter me. Thanks so much!!
esterried[at]yahoo[dot]com

Charity said...

And I live in Florida:)

Carole said...

I would love to read this book and it's already on my wish list. What an incredible giveaway!

A simple star with multi-colored lights always sits at the top of our tree.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Carole said...

I live in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia - not far from where I was born 62 years ago.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Betty said...

What a wonderful interview. Thanks for sharing your story. I'd love to read this amazing book. When we first got married we purchased a very simple shell motif tree top ornament made of bisque porcelain by Margaret Furlong. Her designs are known for their simplicity and nature inspired design. Now, 18 years later, our tradition is to top the tree with this ormnament and remember all the years we've enjoyed together and how our family has grown.

Betty said...

I am located in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the giveaway.

We put an angel at the top of our tree.

Please enter me in this giveaway. Thanks.

musician [at] gra [dot] midco [dot] net

Anonymous said...

I live in the Midwest US

Thanks


musician [at] gra [dot] midco [dot] net

flchen1 said...

We hang a large silver star-shaped snowflake at the top of our tree :)

--Fedora
f dot chen at comcast dot net

flchen1 said...

Oh, and we live on the West Coast, near the SF Bay Area. :)

--Fedora

Donna B said...

The story sounds wonderful - and what better time of the year to open people's eyes to the miracles that happen all around us.

The story of how they met is pretty awesome too.

Robin Bayne said...

Wonderful book, even the cover is terrific.

We put an angel in a hunter green robe on top of our tree : )

Robin Bayne said...

oops, forgot address

RLBayne(at)nbayne(dot)com

~Cindy~ said...

ohh I would love to win the basket JUST for a chance to read the book, the goodies in the basket would just be extras..contact info cndloven@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

We put a star on our tree. Thanks for this lovely giveaway.

GrandmaCarol [at] gmail [dot] com

Anonymous said...

I live in MI

GrandMaCarolB [at] gmail [dot] com

Anonymous said...

We put an angel at the top of our tree. Thanks

RDB

pastorsdaughter [at] gra [dot] midco [dot] net

Anonymous said...

It's midwest living for me. Thanks

RDB

pastorsdaughter [at] gra [dot] midco [dot] net

Stacie said...

We put a star on top.

simplystacieblog at gmail dot com

Stacie said...

I live in Nova Scotia, Canada.

simplystacieblog at gmail dot com

catss99 said...

What a great giveaway! I put a white fuzzy star on top of my little fake tree;-) I'm a grad student so I can't afford much more!
Amanda
catss99@yahoo.com

catss99 said...

entry 2--I live in central IL
amanda
catss99@yahoo.com

Virginia C said...

We have a very old "golden angel" that tops our tree each year. She didn't cost much, but she has grown in value each year from the loving touch of the hands that place her atop the tree.

gcwhiskas at aol dot com

Virginia C said...

I live in the beautiful mountains of Southwestern Virginia.

gcwhiskas at aol dot com

Edna said...

I put a star on top of mine that I made with my embroidery machine a little like the butterfly I make, I also put 3d angels all over it and all the ornament I hand make.

mamat2730(at)charter(dot)net

Edna said...

entry 2

I live in good old South Carolina, from the Blue Ridge mountains to the Atlantic Ocean, we live almost in the center of the state.



mamat2730(at)charter(dot)net

Edna said...

can I have a 3rd entry I follow your blog.



mamat2730(at)charter(dot)net

Abi said...

'Tis the season to be Jolly. Why not three tries Edna. Sure! You go girl.

thanks. You made me chuckle. but you got a third try.

thanks for visiting my blog so faithfully.

Abi

Abi said...

I'd better chime in here.

Up until 1997, when we lost all our Christmas decorations in our flood here in Grand Forks, we had a lighted poinsettia flowered star for our topper. Since 1997, a lovely lighted angel has graced the top of our tree with the exception of 2001 after 911 we put a flag on top of the tree that year.

Abi said...

It's me. I'm from good 'ole North Dakota.

Abi said...

Thanks to you all that have commented. It has been neat learning what you all put on your tree top.

Anita Yancey said...

We put a multi-colored star on the top of our tree. Please enter me. Thanks!

ayancey(at)dishmail(dot)net

MarthaE said...

We put an Angel with lights on the top of our tree.
This book sounds wonderful. Thanks for a chance to win!
mesreadsATgmailDOTcom

MarthaE said...

Bonus entry - I am live in the Florida Panhandle but was born in Pennsylvania. :)

April said...

Great interview. I put an angel that was my Daddy's from years ago,but she is beautiful to me. Been on a tree for over 50 years. This book sounds great. Please enter me. Blessings.
tarenn98[at]yahoo[dot]com

April said...

I put an angel, been on a tree for over 50 years.
tarenn98[a]yahoo[dot]com

April said...

Great interview, by the way. I live in Henderson, NC. Blessings
tarenn98[at]yahoo[com]

April said...

Hi 2nd entry. I live in North Carolina, Henderson.
tarenn98[at]yahoo[dot]com

Joyful said...

We put a star at the top of our quaint tree.

moma3homeschoolatgmaildotcom

Emma said...

We put an Angel with lights on the top of our tree.
Great interview. CHRISTMAS MIRACLES sounds wonderful.Please enter me in the Christmas Miracles gift basket giveaway.augustlily06(at)aim(dot)com.Thank you.

throuthehaze said...

Great interview! We top with a star

throuthehaze at gmail dot com

throuthehaze said...

I live in Virginia

throuthehaze at gmail dot com