We Three Kings: German Traditions

We Three Kings: German Traditions

In part 2 of my We Three Kings release blog posts, we will look at some of the German traditions that take place in our novellas–and I’ve linked to how you can do one of your own traditional German Christmas crafts.


German Christmas Traditions

Cara wanted to connect her story to her WWII novels, so it only made sense that the family line would be of German heritage. Not only did that give us some fun historical scenarios to work with, but it also gave us a rich and deep well of Christmas traditions to incorporate into our stories. Each of the below traditions can be found in some form in our novellas.

Nikolaustag

All over the world, December 6 is known as St. Nikolaus Day and is a celebration of Saint Nikolaus, the Bishop of Myra and the patron saint of seafarers and children. Children leave shoes outside their door in order for Saint Nikolaus to deposit a sweet treat for their year of good behavior. However, in Germany, Saint Nikolaus is accompanied by a more sinister figure who carries a sack and switch. Children who were bad could be given a switch or taken away in the sack. This assistant has various names based on the region, the two most familiar being Krampus and Knecht Ruprecht. I chose to use Knecht Ruprecht, as he first appeared in a seventeenth-century Nuremberg Christmas procession, and Krampus appears to be used more often in the Alpine Region.

Weihnachtsmarkt—German Christmas Markets

These open-air markets are a German Christmas tradition that signal the beginning of the Advent season and date back to the Middle Ages. Traditionally, the stalls are made from timber, and everything sold must be locally produced and handmade. Twinkling lights, music, and the scent of traditional German foods mixed with the scent of a hot mulled wine called Glühwein set the atmosphere for this unique experience. If you ever get the chance to go, be sure to check out the hand-carved ornaments, Advent calendar wreaths, and my favorite, Quetschemännchen—the little figurines made from dried fruit and walnuts.

Epiphany

January 6 is the religious feast day known as Epiphany or das Dreikönigsfest (“three kings festival”) in Germany and some other locations. Epiphany commemorates the journey of the wise men who traveled to seek the Christ child. Often, the letters CMB can be found written in chalk on the doors to welcome and commemorate these men. According to German-way.com, “Traditionally, the three letters in the inscription stand for the names of the three Wise Men (Magi): Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar (German spelling). Another possible explanation is that “C+M+B” stands for the Latin phrase: Christus mansionem benedicat, which translates into “Christ bless this house.” The inscription is usually made with chalk that has been blessed by a local Catholic priest.” While there are variations in how it is done, in Cara’s story, three men travel from door to door, offering blessings to those at home. Often, the children would also dress up, and sometimes, a leader of the procession would carry a star. Small gifts are given to the children, just as the wise men gave their gifts to the Christ child.

Martinstag

Martinstag, or St. Martin’s Day, is celebrated on November 11 with a lantern parade. Tradition says St. Martin was a soldier who had given away his last cent when he spied a man shivering in the cold. Out of compassion he took off his cloak and cut it in half with his sword to share. The whole town heard of his generosity and wanted to praise him. Embarrassed by the attention, St. Martin hid in a goose house, so the townsfolk had to use lanterns to search for him. Today, that search for him is mimicked through a lantern parade complete with song and, depending on where you are, candy.


Make Your Own German Paper Star

There is a reason why Celestia struggled to make her star . . . There are a LOT of steps. Depending on whether you are a video tutorial person or a printed instructions person, I’ve given you the link to two great options below:


About We Three Kings

Purchase Links

IN THIS CHRISTMAS COLLECTION, WEISE MEN STILL SEEK JESUS–AND LOVE

Best-selling romance authors Caudill, Putman, and Strong follow three generations of the Weise family in this third collection of Christmas novellas from Kregel that will prove just as popular as the previous award-winning volumes.

“Star of Wonder” by Crystal Caudill
The Christmas-themed maiden voyage of his family’s grand steamer ship was supposed to be Aldrich Weise’s chance both to instill investor confidence and to romance Celestia Isaacs. Instead, he must foil a criminal and leave his lady love behind forever.

“Beauty Bright” by Cara Putman
Lieutenant Charles Weise served as a Monuments Man after World War II and now works to restore stolen art to rightful owners. Captain Lillian Thorsen pairs up with him not only to return treasures but also to fix the war-torn lives around them.

“Perfect Light” by Angela Ruth Strong
Essential oils mogul Brendon Wise is drawn to Lacey Foster, the event planner for his huge Christmas lights festival. But when he inadvertently makes a spectacle of her on television, Lacey wants nothing to do with him. Will a chance to give gifts to those in need at Christmas be the key to discovering common ground–and maybe love?

We Three Kings Releases TODAY

We Three Kings Releases TODAY

I cannot believe it is here! With all life’s circumstances, today has snuck up on me, and I feel unprepared. For me, this officially kicks off the Christmas season. Sorry Halloween, I never liked you anyway, and Thanksgiving, I’m still going to have a wonderful feast and celebrate time with family. But there is just something special about the Christmas season and its ability to refocus us on Christ our true King. It settles me. It brings about a reverent awe that sometimes gets lost in the day-to-day grind of life. And that’s what I hope you will feel about this collection of novellas from me, Cara Putman, and Angela Ruth Strong–the awe, wonder, and power of Christmas to refocus us on what truly matters, Christ.

I thought it would be fun to check out some behind-the-scenes information from We Three Kings. So for the next two weeks, I’m going to share some fun information. If you haven’t already, you can pick up your copy of We Three Kings from your favorite retailer now.


How did We Three Kings come about?

While many books come about because the author sends out a proposal and the publisher accepts it, Kregel reached out to me, Cara Putman, and Angela Ruth Strong to see if we would be interested in writing a set of novellas connected with their Christmas novella collection series based on Christmas hymns. This year’s hymn was to be “We Three Kings.” But it wasn’t just free reign, they wanted our heroes to be from one family line of moguls (yes, I had to look that up, so don’t feel ashamed if you had to too), and they would like us each to have our books connected with each gift of the kings: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The stories didn’t have to connect to our current series with them, but that was an option if we desired it.

At first, I explored the idea of something new. What would be a fun twist on gold? Liquid gold–oil? Nope, by the time of my book, there would have been only one major oil mogul, and while I could have twisted that for fiction, I didn’t want to. Gold bars or someone who dealt in gold? Eh. Too on the nose, and I wasn’t a fan of trying to dig into gold mining history at that point. Not with the turn-around time I’d need to work with for research. I can’t exactly remember how, but I landed on the concept of ocean travel via the predecessors to the Titanic. Once I struck on that, remembered the influx of Italian counterfeiters who printed in their home country and then swindled new immigrants, and realized I could connect it to my Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age series, I was off to the races.

Originally, Counterfeit Faith was set to release after We Three Kings, so I set up my story to happen in my story-world timeline before Josiah had his story, and gave his sister who has an appearance in Counterfeit Faith, her own story. It was a joy to dive into Josiah’s family, bring out some of their dynamics, and then develop the beginning of the Weise family line.

And yes, Cara, Angela, and I were goofy enough to use the Weise name as a play on the wise men of the Bible. It was so fun to work with these amazing women who are much further along in their careers to develop a legacy that left me in awe and wonder of my characters. I hope when you get the chance to read our stories, you will be left with the same sense of awe of how one family can have such an impact on those around them and leave a legacy of Christ that is passed down through the generations.

When it came to choosing a title for each of our stories, Kregel told us we didn’t have to use lines from the song like it had been done in the other stories. After examining the lyrics, some of which are really depressing and difficult for use as a Christmas title, we put titling on the back burner until the last minute. For me, “Star of Wonder” had always fit, but finding uplifting titles for the other two was difficult until we realized that all three stories are tied to the Light of Christ. Then we were able to select phrases from the lyrics that fit the stories and didn’t break with the tradition of the other Christmas novellas that came before us.


Inspiration Board

This is the background I used while writing this story, aka, my inspiration board. You can also check out my Pinterest board which has more for you to browse through.


About We Three Kings

Purchase Links

IN THIS CHRISTMAS COLLECTION, WEISE MEN STILL SEEK JESUS–AND LOVE

Best-selling romance authors Caudill, Putman, and Strong follow three generations of the Weise family in this third collection of Christmas novellas from Kregel that will prove just as popular as the previous award-winning volumes.

“Star of Wonder” by Crystal Caudill
The Christmas-themed maiden voyage of his family’s grand steamer ship was supposed to be Aldrich Weise’s chance both to instill investor confidence and to romance Celestia Isaacs. Instead, he must foil a criminal and leave his lady love behind forever.

“Beauty Bright” by Cara Putman
Lieutenant Charles Weise served as a Monuments Man after World War II and now works to restore stolen art to rightful owners. Captain Lillian Thorsen pairs up with him not only to return treasures but also to fix the war-torn lives around them.

“Perfect Light” by Angela Ruth Strong
Essential oils mogul Brendon Wise is drawn to Lacey Foster, the event planner for his huge Christmas lights festival. But when he inadvertently makes a spectacle of her on television, Lacey wants nothing to do with him. Will a chance to give gifts to those in need at Christmas be the key to discovering common ground–and maybe love?

The Creation of a Cover & Cover Reveal

The Creation of a Cover & Cover Reveal

I’m excited to reveal to you today the cover of We Three Kings: A Romance Christmas Novella Collection. You’ll find the blurb and fun cover process below, but I wanted to let you know that Baker Book House has it (and all my books) for 20% off right now, so it’s a great time to order/preorder books.

Creating a Cover

The process of creating a cover rarely involves me beyond the initial form I fill out to my publisher of critical information about the story that might work its way onto the cover. Generally, other than seeing the final product and saying I like it, that’s about as involved with the process as I get. However, with the We Three Kings Romance Christmas Collection, the experience was very different.

The Draft

Cara Putman and Angela Ruth Strong are my co-authors in this collection, and all three of us were sent the cover asking for input on how it might be tweaked. Really the only element from our story on the cover other than the snow indicating winter/Christmas was the ornament of the three kings. The ornament is one that my characters buy at the end of the story, and it reappears in various forms in the other two stories. You can see the original cover they sent us below:

It wasn’t a bad cover, we just were afraid it wasn’t compelling enough for readers to pick up. Especially when compared with the previous novella collections in the series: Joy to the World and O’ Little Town.

These covers were stunning, in my opinion, and I felt like our cover didn’t match the “feel” of these other two. After tossing some ideas around with Cara and Angela, I decided I wanted to play in Canva, an image creation program. I’m a pretty tactile person, and this was how I process anything that requires a visual image. After talking with a friend who is a cover designer, one of the things I realized that was missing was that “aisle”  or framing feeling. The columns in Joy to the World draw your eyes to the house and up to the title. In O Little Town, you have the lamp posts creating that same sort of effect.

Playing Around

Using Cara and Angela’s suggestions, I brought in more trees to create the framing feeling. But in our conversation, we also brought up the fact that each of our stories has to do with some form of light. My story is “Star of Wonder,” Cara’s is “Beauty Bright,” and Angela’s is “Perfect Light.” And considering our stories connect to the three Weise (wise) men, the cover would probably benefit from having a star. I’m getting pretty savvy at using Canva with layering, and so after lots of playing with removing backgrounds and editing various features, this is the mock-up I came up with:

Making the layers match in coloring is something I’m still learning, and since this was just me playing around, I didn’t bother with even trying. I sent the mock-up to Angela and Cara but did not intend to send it to Kregel. I responded with some verbal tweaking ideas that we’d discussed, but I didn’t mention I’d created a mock-up or anything. Design is not something I have a lot of confidence in, and besides, it was more or less just playing for my own sake so I could communicate some suggestions without overstepping.

However, Angela added my mock-up to her email when she sent in her recommendations. I am so thankful for her boldness in doing that. It gave a much-needed encouragement boost, and Kregel’s response was equally encouraging. And I think you might understand why when you look at the two options they sent to us afterward:

Option 1:

While that was better than the first one, we unanimously agreed that the second option was the favorite. And now, I get to reveal the FINAL cover of We Three Kings: A Romance Christmas Collection.

 

Cover Reveal – the FINAL Cover

 

Didn’t they do a phenomenal job? AND LOOK!!! They took my playing-around mock-up and turned it into something beautiful!!!! I’ve always loved my covers from Kregel, but this one will always have a special place in my heart (and on my Christmas tree). God is so good to bless me with that sort of encouragement, and I am so grateful that He used Angela to place it into Kregel’s hands. Now we just have to wait for it to release in September. Want to know more about each of our stories? Here is the blurb and preorder links!


We Three Kings: A Romance Christmas Collection

In this Christmas collection, Weise men still seek Jesus–and love

Best-selling romance authors Caudill, Putman, and Strong follow three generations of the Weise family in this third collection of Christmas novellas from Kregel that will prove just as popular as the previous award-winning volumes.

“Star of Wonder” by Crystal Caudill
The Christmas-themed maiden voyage of his family’s grand steamer ship was supposed to be Aldrich Weise’s chance both to instill investor confidence and to romance Celestia Isaacs. Instead, he must foil a criminal and leave his lady love behind forever.

“Beauty Bright” by Cara Putman
Lieutenant Charles Weise served as a Monuments Man after World War II and now works to restore stolen art to rightful owners. Captain Lillian Thorsen pairs up with him not only to return treasures but also to fix the war-torn lives around them.

“Perfect Light” by Angela Ruth Strong
Essential oils mogul Brendon Wise is drawn to Lacey Foster, the event planner for his huge Christmas lights festival. But when he inadvertently makes a spectacle of her on television, Lacey wants nothing to do with him. Will a chance to give gifts to those in need at Christmas be the key to discovering common ground–and maybe love?

 

Preorder Links:  Amazon  |  Baker Book House  |  Barnes and Noble  |   Books-A-Million


What do you think of the cover and the process?

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