Story Spark: “The Letter” by Debbie Lynne Costello (And Giveaway!)

Christmas Cheer Volume 3Today’s guest is Debbie Lynne Costello, whose short story “The Letter” appears in this year’s Guideposts’ A Cup of Christmas Cheer: Heartwarming Tales of Christmas Past. Debbie shares the inspiration behind her WWII Christmas story.

Here’s Debbie Lynne:

Thank you so much for having me on your blog, Johnnie. I’m excited to chat with your readers! You asked me to tell you what led me to write ‘The Letter’ and I’m happy to share that with you and your readers.

I have a strong sense of patriotism. Military service can be traced in my family’s genealogy all the way back to the Revolutionary War where my 5th great grandfather and his three brothers fought for our freedom. With a husband who served in the Air Force when we married, a father who served in the Navy Reserves, a son who served in the Navy, and uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, and grandfathers having served in all branches of our armed forces, I find my mind wandering to all the valiant heroes who have fought through the years for the freedom we enjoy.

3825a8bbf0be928d2f39bd05f638981fWhen I was attempting to come up with a Christmas story for Guideposts Books, my thoughts went to our military heroes and my great uncle who fought in World War II, but never made it home. I began to think what if… I won’t tell you the what if’s I asked because I don’t want to spoil the story for you, but that is where that little spark of an idea started.

I knew the story needed more than just a World War II widow and two children continuing on with their lives to keep a story going. I needed conflict. I thought back to stories I’d heard on family strife that could add to this story. I remembered hearing of discord caused from a mother-in-law who felt her daughter-in-law wasn’t good enough for her son. She’d planned on him marrying a family friend’s daughter.

The true story didn’t end that well, but I started asking the what if questions again. What if both the widow and her in-laws received letters and each think the other has initiated reconciliation? What if the daughter-in-law came to visit the week before Christmas and felt unwanted? And what if the father-in-law wanted the reconciliation more than either of the women? That was just the conflict I needed.

In writing my story that began with what ifs, my characters learn what true forgiveness and reconciliation is all about. I had a chance to give everyone a happy ending and hopefully the readers a few surprises.

TriggerSpeaking of surprises, I had a real surprise when my hubby gave me an early Christmas gift this year, a Tennessee Walking Horse named Trigger. My favorite Christmas gift ever!

I’m super excited to be giving away a signed copy of A Cup of Christmas Cheer with my story ‘The Letter’. To enter, please answer one or both of these questions:

  • What was your favorite Christmas gift?
  • Have you ever received a gift that was a total surprise?

Looking forward to hearing your responses!

“The Letter”

A recent WWII widow receives a mysterious letter seeking reconciliation with her in-laws, but when she goes for a visit only her father-in-law seems to be interested in mending fences. As the days pass, mother-in-law and daughter-in-law learn a little about themselves and the true meaning of forgiveness.

Here is the link to buy the A Cup of Christmas Cheer set:


Debbie Lynne Costello has enjoyed writing stories since she was about eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina. She has worked in many capacities in her church and is currently the Children’s Director. Debbie Lynne has shown and raised Shetland sheepdogs for eighteen years and still enjoys litters now and then. In their spare time, she and her husband enjoy camping and riding their Arabian and Tennessee Walking horses.

Connect with Debbie Lynne:

Facebook       Twitter       Google Plus

Debbie Lynne blogs at:

Debbie Lynn Costello       The Sword and Spirit       Christian Fiction Historical Society

Join the Christmas Cup of Cheer authors

on their group blog (click here).

Remember to answer one or both of Debbie Lynne’s questions to be in the drawing for your own signed copy of A Cup of Christmas Cheer. Please leave your comment before Sunday evening at midnight. The winner will be announced on Monday, December 8th.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete offensive or off-topic comments.

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30 thoughts on “Story Spark: “The Letter” by Debbie Lynne Costello (And Giveaway!)

  1. I’m excited to have Debbie Lynne as my guest today. I had a WWII story in last year’s Guidepost Christmas story collection, so it’s especially fun that Debbie Lynne has a story in this year’s collection. Sounds like an intriguing one, too!

  2. Hey Johnnie! Thank you so much for having me on your blog! I am super excited to chat with your people today. Merry Christmas!

  3. Keeping my fingers crossed! I am certainly intrigued! Thank you for the wonderful giveaway!

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

  4. Wow! Debbie Lynne, what a nice gift you got for Christmas! I can’t say I’ve ever gotten anything quite like that. However, I have received many lovely Christmas gifts through the years. My husband loved to buy and make presents and give gifts. He was a woodworker and every year he would make special gifts for friends and family members.
    may_dayzee (AT) yahoo (DOT) com

    • Hey Kay!! This is the first time I’ve gotten such a HUGE gift in all ways. LOL> But I think my husband was worried about me getting hurt on our Arabian and so he got me a horse that is broken. My dad made me a sewing cabinet and I treasure it! The work that goes into woodwork is a sacrifice of love!

    • Penny!! Now that is a beautiful gift! Two of my boys were born in December. My oldest was born on the 30th and my middle son was born on the 31st. Children certainly are our greatest gifts that God has given us. I just can’t imagine life had we not had our kids. And now is the joy of grandchildren! A double blessing! Thank you so much for stopping by!!

    • Penny, I love that! We thought my youngest granddaughter was going to be born on Christmas Eve, but it was a false alarm. She arrived early in the morning on January 3rd. While I was in the hospital parking lot eating an English muffin and expecting to spend a long day waiting for her.

      The labor lasted less than two hours. When I got to the room, my son-in-law had her all snuggled in a blanket, and the doctor was still tending to my daughter.

      Happy early birthday to Cortney. Merry Christmas!

  5. I remember my first bicycle…my only bicycle as a child. I was 6 and it was a 26″. Had to stand up to ride it. lol. And I love your horse. Beatiful color! I had a black Tennessee Walker once. Such an easy gait.

    • Hey PT. That was a BIG bike for a 6 year old! I love a Tennessee Walker, but I do love our Arabians too. The gaits can’t be compared, like comparing riding down a new paved highway to a washboard dirt road. LOL> But the Arabs are great if just walking.

  6. My favorite remembered gift was a saddle for my fat pony. I had a terrible time staying on him he was as round as a barrel We jokingly called him Two Ton Tony LOL
    Your horse reminded me of that long ago Christmas.. made me 🙂

      • Hey DK! Thanks for sharing! I am very tempted to get my granddaughter a pony! She loves horses but at 4 I’d rather see her ride something smaller, even if my Walker is about bomb proof, he’s very tall should my grandchild slip! Johnnie, that happened to my hubby just recently on his Arab. He didn’t stop and tighten the saddle and it slipped sideways while he was running the horse. Hubby ended up with a concussion. Hard lesson learned but we won’t forget to stop and tighten the cinch again!

      • My favorite Christmas gift ~ well actually there are two. The first was when I was eleven and received a short-sleeved turquoise sweater with little pearlized buttons and my very first yellow rooted-hair doll. The second was the Christmas morning my little girl and I were quietly sitting looking at the lights on our tree twinkling when there came a knock on the door. Our mailman delivered a package from my parents ~ Christmas morning ~ with remnants of those long ago memories; coloring books and new crayons, warm mittens, Juicy Fruit gum and Tootsie Roll pops. It brings a smile now as I think of those special days and family. Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net

  7. Wow, Kathleen! First I have to say what an wonderful mailman you had to come out and deliver your package on Christmas day! He must have known how special it would be to you to receive your package on Christmas. And second, what wonderful parents you have to put together a package so you could enjoy those fond memories of your childhood! I am still in awe of your mailman. He’s my hero! Thank you so much for sharing your story. PS the sweater sounds lovely!!

  8. Love and hugs to you, DL!!! I had SUCH a nice SURPRISE at my house from a really SPECIAL FRIEND and DEBUT author!!! Not a TN walker (which I sure couldn’t manage lol) but gorgeous PINK gifts!!! Thanks so much. Love you! Love your story!!!