Stuff Your Stocking Blogfest: Delia Latham

Making Room at the Inn
© 2011 Delia Latham

With Christmas fast approaching, signs of the season are everywhere.

Beautifully decorated trees adorn every store window and mall walkway. Tinsel, ornaments, lots of red and green…all familiar, well-loved traditions that make the season festive. Christmas music is piped into every possible sales venue to put shoppers in the Christmas (i.e., buying) spirit.

The lyrics to one of those songs talks about the twelve days of Christmas.

I don’t know a lot about partridges in pear trees. What lords a-leaping and swans a-swimming have to do with Christmas is beyond me. Somewhere in the annals of history, there could be a reason they made their way into this song…I don’t know.

But I do know about a newborn baby in a manger, surrounded by animals and angels and a few very wise men. I know about an inn that could not find room for the Christ-child. I know about these things because they are what Christmas is all about.

I enjoy a gorgeous Christmas tree as much as the next person. I love all the pretty baubles hanging on the branches, and the smell of pine. Nothing gives me greater pleasure then placing my angel at the tip top of the tree when everything else is hung and strung and picture perfect. You just can’t beat that bated-breath feeling during the countdown to the “plug-in” and seeing the tree light up for the first time…sparkling, twinkling, filling hearts with the joy of the season.

I love that! I do.

My heart is thrilled at the sight of children tearing into the gifts they’ve waited all month to see. I especially enjoy all the extra love that seems to just be there on Christmas day. It’s as if everyone tries a little harder to be kind, loving, and forgiving—thinking a little more of others, and a little less of themselves.

Giving and receiving…but especially giving, is a beautiful part of the season. And what could be more welcoming than the fragrance of hot apple cider, cinnamon and bayberry, and pumpkin pie spices wafting through a home?

Those are all good things. Great things.

But I can’t help but wonder.

Have we over-filled our holidays with gifts and decorations and cooking and scheduling a dozen and one Yuletide events, to the extent that—once again—there’s no room for Christ? When our little ones dive under the tree on Christmas morning, headed straight for the biggest box they can find…is that all the day means to them? Have we taken time to tell them about that lowly inn in Bethlehem? When they sing “Away in a Manger,” do they have even the slightest clue as to what a manger is, and why this one made its way into a song?

Or have we allowed our children to think Christmas is all about talking snowmen, elves and reindeer, and jolly men yelling ho-ho-ho?

If the Christmas morning of tomorrow is to have any meaning beyond the commercial holiday it has become, it’s up to us to make it so.

Let’s open the door to Christ on Christmas!

Bring that baby in out of the cold and allow His love to make Christmas CHRIST-filled. Unlock the doors of your “inn,” and let Jesus spend Christmas at your house.

He is, after all, the Reason for the season…

Born and raised in Weedpatch, California, Delia Latham moved to Oklahoma in ’08, making her a self-proclaimed California Okie. She loves to read and write in her country home, and gets a kick out of watching her husband play Farmer John. She’s a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister and friend, but especially loves being a princess daughter to the King of Kings. She loves Dr. Pepper and hearing from her readers. Contact her through her website or e-mail delia AT delialatham DOT net.

Delia writes inspirational romance and women’s fiction, and is currently contracted through White Rose Publishing and Vinspire Publishing.

Please leave a comment for a chance to win the winner’s choice of a download or autographed print copy of Destiny’s Dream. Print to US or Canada winners only.

Author Interview with Delia Latham

The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Delia Latham, whose third book in the Solomon’s Gate series will be coming out soon (release date to be announced).

Delia often says she was born with a pen in her hand—and it’s not that far from the truth. She can’t remember a time when she didn’t keep a pencil and paper in hand—writing little poems and songs and then graduating to what she calls “very bad short stories.” She won an essay contest when she was in the third grade and was determined to be a bona fide author one day.

“I continued to write all my life, and became a newspaper journalist for a while, but I always promised myself a novel…someday,” she said. “One day a few years ago, I just kind of woke up to the fact that I’m not getting any younger, and if I really wanted to write a novel and see it published, I needed to get crackin’! And the rest, as they say, is history.”

Not only did she write from an early age, Delia shared with me she’s also been a voracious reader.

“I was reading far ahead of my age group from my very first reader – always LOVED to read. I devoured all the Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Bobbsey Twins, and Sherry Ames books I could get my hands on. (There were others, too, but I can’t remember all of them now. That’s been (ahem!) a few years ago…),” she told me. “As a teenager, I started reading Grace Livingston Hill, and she was probably the strongest influence on my own writing. Even though I’ve worked hard to develop my own voice and style, I occasionally notice ‘shades of Grace’ in my writing. And that’s okay – I’d be honored if readers recognized her influence in my work.”

“How do you develop your plots and characters?” I asked her.

“Okay, I admit it…I’m not a plotter. In writing, as in the rest of my life, I pretty much fly by the seat of my pants. (I feel like I should stand up in front of a roomful of writers and confess: My name is Delia Latham, and I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer.) What usually happens is that I get the seed of an idea, and if I like it, it won’t go away. I mull it over in my head while I’m washing dishes and making beds, chew on it while I vacuum the floor and dust the furniture, and dream up plot elements as I drive down the road. By the time I actually plant myself in front of my keyboard and start writing, I have a fairly good idea who my characters are and where I want the story to go. Which is not to say that when I start putting the words together, things don’t change. Most often, the characters take over and tell me what’s going to happen!” she said with a laugh.

Titles are always a lot of fun for Delia, and she’ll often have the title before she even starts writing the book. Sometimes she’ll sit down and start making lists of titles that sound like a great story could be built around them.

“For instance, I overheard a conversation in which someone sarcastically stated, ‘In your dreams!’ It’s nothing new, right? Still, at that moment, it triggered something in my mind and I jotted it down,” she explained.

She’s currently working on a story titled “In Her Dreams.”

“When did you first consider yourself a writer?” I wondered.

“When I sat down and seriously started working on my first real manuscript. Until then, I considered myself a ‘wannabe’ writer, even though I had been writing for many years, and had seen my byline in print over and over again in newspapers and magazines. In hindsight, I know that I was a writer all along,” she said, with a smile. “But getting to the point where I could comfortably answer, ‘I’m a writer,’ when asked what I do…that was a huge step for me—and an important one. Because once I learned to think of myself as a writer, and to declare myself a writer, I began to perform that role with more believability and success.”

Delia does her best writing at night, when the rest of the world is asleep.

“Nobody’s knocking on the door, the phone isn’t ringing, no one’s sticking their head in my office to ask questions or trying to drag me out of the house to go shopping or yard sale-ing or any of a hundred other things that can get in the way,” she told me. “During the day, I use my computer time to market and network.”

She was surprised to learn that writing the book was only the beginning—and that the creating of the book was the fun part.

“There’s still the long process of submitting and being rejected—sometimes over and over again; marketing, which is not really my cup of tea, is also a necessary part of things; networking never ends,” she said. “Most writers would love to just write and leave all the other pieces and parts to others. While I guess it’s possible that authors who are household names, like maybe Stephen King and Nora Roberts, can get by with that…but most of us can’t. So it’s important to be willing to jump through all the hoops.”

I asked her which of her books was her favorite.

“That’s like asking a mother to choose her favorite child!” she said with a smile. “The closest I can come to an answer is that each new novel is my favorite for a little while. But every book means something special to me, and I love them all. I will say that the Solomon’s Gate books are near and dear to my heart because God did such a profound work in me as I wrote them. It was an amazing experience, and I will always treasure these book for that reason—and I think they’re seriously good stories, if I may say so myself!” she added with a laugh.
You can keep up with Delia on her blog,


A Change of Character

Let’s talk about changes of character. No, I don’t mean becoming a “good person” through some spiritual miracle—though I’ve seen that happen and believe God changes hearts and characters every day. For now, however, I’m referring to fictional people, and when it’s time for an author to give them a makeover of one kind or another.

Here’s an example. The heroine in Destiny’s Dream, the first book in my upcoming Solomon’s Gate series, underwent a name change in the final edits. A character in the second book, Kylie’s Kiss, morphed from a saucy redhead to an equally dynamic black sistah about two-thirds of the way through the book.

Why the character changes?

I had a couple of reasons for changing the heroine’s name from Karissa to Destiny, though I am admittedly still getting used to the new moniker. After all, I thought of her as Karissa through the entire writing process. (One of my real-life friends, whom I’ve known since I was ten, legally changed her name from Judy to Julie when she reached adulthood. That’s been at least thirty years ago, and I still slip and call her Judy from time to time. Old habits really do die hard.)

In Karissa’s case, it turned out that manuscript had too many characters whose names started with the hard “K” sound: Cassie, Carrie, Carson, Claire, Karen, Cameron, Clay—and, of course, Karissa. Why on earth was I so drawn to those hard “K” names at that time? Who knows, but apparently I was. So why not change the other characters’ names? Especially since Karissa’s name was also in the book’s title, Karissa’s Dream.

Well, that’s why. The other two books in the series will have alliterative titles—Kylie’s Kiss and Gypsy’s Game. In order to make the alliteration consistent across the whole collection, my editor and I decided Karissa should get the name change. She became Destiny, and the title is now Destiny’s Dream.

Why would I give my fun little redhead in Kylie’s Kiss a complete racial makeover? Because I recognized a lack of racial mix in my overall writing. Every character in my books up to that point was Caucasian, like me. Not good! So Dayna became a beautiful black gal with plenty of attitude, but retained her role as the heroine’s best friend. I find that I rather like Dayna in her new skin—it fits.

Recognizing and being willing to change that lack of racial variety will add depth and more realistic peopling of my future writing. Kylie’s Kiss boasts a loveable, loyal Hispanic character named Trina. Here again, there was a character change part way through the manuscript. Catarina (Trina) was originally named Anina, but called Nini by those who knew and loved her. Another character, Winona, went by Noni. See the problem? As much as I loved Nini, I decided I could use that name in another book someday. Noni fit the other character so well—and it is my sister’s name, so held a rather special place in my heart.

Changes of character. Changes of attitude. Changes of skin color, occupation, age, eye color—every author must make them at some point in her writing career. Reasons vary, and range from simple to complex, but when they are recognized, it’s important that the author be willing to reshape her brain children. It hurts sometimes—I did not want to change Karissa’s name, and I nearly cried when I changed Nini’s, while Dayna’s racial makeover gave me not a single moment’s pause.

I reworked those things because it was the right thing for my characters, my readers, and the book as a whole. As the creator who breathed life into these fictional people, it is my sole responsibility to change them in any way that will improve the storyline, even when doing so demands a sacrifice of some quality or characteristic that I personally love. (I’m pretty sure our Creator sometimes sheds a tear when he rids us of some characteristic that doesn’t work out for our good, or His glory.)

As a writer, have you made character changes that helped your storyline but hurt your heart? As a reader, have you come across characters you wish the writer had taken time to change?

Tell us about them. What did you change, and why? What bothers you as a reader?

We want to know—it’s a matter of character….

DELIA LATHAM is a Christian wife, mother, grandmother, sister, and friend. While she considers each of these roles important ones, she treasures most of all her role as a child of the King and an heir to the throne.

A former newspaper staff writer, Delia promised herself a novel for years, while raising her four children, working at various jobs and writing the occasional article, poem, or song. She fulfilled that promise when Vintage Romance Publishing released Goldeneyes in 2008. A Christian historical romance with a touch of the divine, Goldeneyes is set in the farm country of the author’s childhood, and therefore close to her heart. In 2010, White Rose Publishing released Yesterday’s Promise in electronic format. A children’s book, Adam’s Wings, will be available in December 2010. The Solomon’s Gate series is in the publisher’s hands and awaiting release dates.

Delia grew up in Weedpatch, a tiny agricultural community near Bakersfield, in California’s San Joaquin Valley. She and her husband Johnny recently transplanted from that area to Okmulgee County, Oklahoma.

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