Monday, December 17, 2012

Post-Bulletin Article

Thanks so much to Jeff Pieters for the great interview and the opportunity to share my work! I really apprecaite it :)

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Few More Christmas Things

All right, now that there is snow (not much, but some white aroud here), the mood is starting to set in. So here are a few of my favorite things to make, do, or listen to:

1) Make an igloo:

2) Listen to A Christmas Carol (Lionel Barrymore and Orson Welles): FREE here:

3) Cookies, bars, and fattening treats, oh my!

These are all from a little book I put together for the fam:

The CAKE ~ Triple-Chocolate Cake with Chocolate-Peppermint Filling

This is referred to simply as “THE CAKE!” by my family. It is overly rich, delicious, fattening, and phenomenal. It’s a hell of a lot of work, but it’s worth it.


8 oz Lindt chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup whipping cream
1 T light corn syrup
½ tsp peppermint extract


1 cup sifted all purpose flour
cup unsweetened cocoa powder
½  teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
cup (packed) dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs
½ cup buttermilk
1 ½ cups miniature semisweet chocolate chips
Chopped up candy canes for garnish


8 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
¾ teaspoon peppermint extract

For filling:

Place chocolate in medium bowl. Bring cream and corn syrup to simmer in small saucepan. Pour hot mixture over chocolate; add extract and let stand 1 minute. Whisk until mixture is smooth. Let filling stand at room temperature while cake is baking and cooling.

For cake:

Position rack in lowest third of oven and preheat to 350°F. Butter 9-inch-diameter cake pan with 2-inch-high sides. Line bottom with parchment paper. Butter parchment. Dust pan with flour. Whisk first 5 ingredients in medium bowl to blend. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in both sugars, then vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk in 2 additions each. Mix in chocolate chips.

Transfer batter to prepared pan. Bake cake until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 1 hour 5 minutes. Cool cake in pan on rack 5 minutes. Turn out cake onto rack. Peel off parchment. Cool completely.

Using electric mixer, beat filling until fluffy and lightened in color, about 30 seconds. Using serrated knife, cut cake horizontally in half. Place 1 layer, cut side up, on rack set over baking sheet. Spread filling over. Top with second layer, cut side down. Chill filled cake 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare glaze:

Stir chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in heavy small saucepan over low heat until melted and smooth. Mix in extract. Cool glaze until just lukewarm but still pour able, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.

Pour 1/2 cup glaze over center of cake. Spread over top and sides of cake. Chill until glaze sets, about 15 minutes. Pour remaining glaze over center of cake, then spread quickly over top and sides. Chill until glaze sets, about 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with cake dome; chill. Before continuing, let stand at room temperature until softened, about 4 hours.)

Sprinkle candies around top edge of cake. Garnish with fresh mint leaves.


“Pepper nuts” or “spiced nut”. These little cookies are a favorite during the holidays. Not too sweet, not too spicy, and rolled in copious amounts of powdered sugar, they go well with strong black coffee.

Sift together:

2 cups plus 2 T sifted all-purpose flour
¾ tsp double-acting baking powder
⅛ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper


¼ tsp nutmeg (use ½ tsp if using freshly grated nutmeg)
¼ tsp ground cloves
2 tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp anise seeds
1 tsp cardamom

Cream together:

½ cup butter
⅓ cup sugar

Add and bet well until light:

1 egg


¼ cup finely chopped almonds
1 T finely chopped citron
¼ cup finely chopped candied orange peel

Add the flour mixture to the above ingredients in thirds, alternately with:

⅓ cup molasses
1 T corn syrup
¼ tsp brandy extract
1 tsp grated lemon rind
1 T lemon juice

Beat well, then set aside overnight. Preheat oven to 350. Shape into 1-inch balls and bake on a greased cookie sheet 10 to 15 minutes. Roll while warm in a vat of powdered sugar.

Non’s Sugar Cookies

Nellie (“Non”) Finnane was my great-aunt and I didn’t know her long as she died when I was a child. But we still have her recipe for sugar cookies. She would not use a butter cream frosting, but instead sprinkle sugar over the still-warm cookies out of the oven. I’ve added the frosting recipe because it’s pretty damn good, too.

Oven to 375°

3 cups flour
1 cup butter
1 tsp salt
⅛ tsp cream of tartar

2 eggs
1 cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla

1 tsp nutmeg (double if using freshly grated)
4 T. milk
½ tsp baking soda

Cream together butter, flour, salt, and tartar. The mixture should like the beginnings of a pie crust. Add nutmeg, milk, and baking soda and mix well. Then add eggs, sugar, and vanilla.  This mixture keeps one week to one month.

Bake on greased cookie sheets 10 to 15 minutes.

Optional: Butter Frosting

Cream together 2 cups powdered sugar, ⅓ cup butter, 2 T milk, and ½ tsp vanilla. Add more milk if mixture is too thick.

Peanut Blossoms

A holiday favorite!

½ cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
2 tsp baking soda
4 T. milk
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 cups plus ⅔ cup flour
1 tsp salt
1 bag chocolate kisses

Mix peanut butter and butter and add in the sugars. Beat eggs, milk, and vanilla into mixture. Add dry ingredients. Form spoonfuls of dough into a ball and roll in sugar. Bake 8 minutes at 375° and press chocolate candy into each one. Cook another 2 to 5 minutes.

Nut Bars

Now this is a holiday bar! It beats any other bar, hands down. Something special happens with the butterscotch and corn syrup that transforms them into one of my favorite naughty treats. Of course, they are loaded with nuts and butter, but these marvelous nuggets are a special occasion dessert, anyway.

1 ½ cups flour
¾ cup brown sugar
¼ tsp salt
½ plus 2 T. cold butter
1 can (11 ½ oz) mixed nuts
1 cup butterscotch chips
½ cup light corn syrup

Combine flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl. Cut in ½ cup butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press into 9 x 13 pan. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Sprinkle with nuts. Melt chips in a small saucepan and add remaining butter. Mix well. Pour over nuts. Bake another 10 minutes. Cool and cut.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Truce - The Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting

All right, enough about my tiny little corner of the world.

I was browsing through Amazon and came across this gem of a book:

It is the story of a little Christmas miracle during WWI. I have heard similar stories in WWII, and am always touched when the two sides can put down their arms and recollect on the true meaning of Christmas. Even when Americans sing Silent Night (originally a German carol), it reminds us that we're all in this together, regardless of which nation has decided to fight which nation.

This book is highly recommended.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Holy Spirit Church - Thank You!

I would like to extend a huge thank you to Holy Spirit church here in Rochester, MN. The book signing was a huge success, especially in terms of networking and discussion. A lot of people got to see the book, hear the story, and whether they bought the book or not, I think I was able to get the message out.

It was a fun, busy day, ending with setting up risers for the kids' Christmas concert. At least it was snowing, which helped us all get into the Christmas spirit.

The three kings gave up everything to follow a star, to follow Christ. What would we be willing to give up if we were called? Our cell phones? Tablets?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Prologue and Epilogue

The final version of Following Yonder Star does not include a prologue or epilogue. While these little snippets were interesting, they did not necessarily move the story forward.

I am posting them here. The epilogue is pretty much unedited, since we agreed to chop them before the editor worked through it.

As mentioned in the text, there was a Hill of Vaws. In ancient times the keepers of this Hill (also called Hill of Victory). Here, the sentinels of Ind watched day and night against the Children of Israel, and eventually against the Romans. It was a strategic point, atop which they would make a big fire to warn the land.

Balaam had prophesied a Star that would herald the coming of the Christ, and so for many years people kept watch on the Hill of Vaws, watching for the star. Well, on one night, the Star burst into life, and the rest is history.

The prologue and epilogue are my take on what could have happened at the hill.

** NOTE: The following contains spoilers for the book Following Yonder Star **

Click here to view the Prolgoue and Epilogue

Monday, December 3, 2012

Great Weekend, Happy Monday

Thank you, thank you, thank you to a million folks for a great weekend.

Christian Book & Gift in Rochester, MN, for hosting a great signing for myself and other great Christian authors.

Please support these great Christian authors:

Curtis Martin (author of Proverbs for Practical Living and Effective Spiritual Growth). I would highly reccomend the Provers for Practical Living, because it takes out 300 words from Proverbs and adds relevant and meaningful advice for how to live our lives in the crazy, mixed-up world.

John Schreiber (bestelling Christian author)

From these two guys, I learned a lot about how to do a good signing. Plus, met a lot of great folks I would not have otherwise.

I didn't get to talk much to the following, but we did chat a little.

Dennis Aaberg

Bobbie & Mandy Horning

AM 850 WPTF - Raleigh/Durham

Thanks Doug for the opportunity to chat up Following Yonder Star. It was my first interview, and I hope I didn't sound like I was atop a washing machine on spin. I made sure to carry the message of faith, perseverance, and sacrifice.

I have a few more interviews this week, and am very pumped to tell the tale!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Book Signing Part II + Radio Interviews

OK, now that I've cooled off from my little rant against Barnes and Noble, I'll once again remind folks of the upcoming signing.

I will be at Christian Book & Gift this Saturday from 10-Noon, signing copies of the book! The store is located in Rochester, MN.


Radio Interviews

I have booked a call in for station WKNY in Kingston, NY on December 6, 9:15 Eastern.

On December 21, I will be interviewing with FoxNews Online. 2PM Eastern.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Re: Barnes and Noble and other “Noble?” booksellers:

I have generated quite a bit of interest in this book, Following Yonder Star. So far I have about six radio interviews booked, including FoxNews online. However, when I went to our Barnes and Noble, I was told the book is in a “pre-order” status, meaning they cannot stock it, but will “gladly” order the book on request. “We support local authors, but...” There is no support in the word “but.” I talked to corporate and got the same reply. No amount of begging, pleading on behalf of the author will do any good.

But all is not lost. If enough people walk into their local store and request that the book be carried, they will have to order enough copies for the demand. I can understand why they don’t carry all titles, especially from the independent and small-press authors, but now it’s getting silly.

So, if you have a local bookstore, please ask them to carry the book. When people listen to the radio interviews, they will wonder where they can buy the book... if all they have is Amazon, it’s not going to go over too well. And so, if people are out there asking for it, perhaps the giant will change its ways. Until then it will only be available locally, and a few scattered independent stores.

Following Yonder Star
By: Martin Gibbs
ISBN: 978-1475080605

Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Book Signing this Saturday!

I will be at Christian Book & Gift this Saturday from 10-Noon, signing copies of the book! The store is located in Rochester, MN.


There will be candy!

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Let's remember to pray for those who have little or nothing to eat today, and those fighting for us overseas. And be reasonable tomorrow--remember it is all just stuff, no matter the deal.

We are supposed to be happy with who we are and what we have, as little or as much. We're lucky to be here.

God Bless,


Friday, November 16, 2012

Great Christmas Books

OK, so this is the Christmas season (or very, very, very close!) and so it's not really fair for me to spend my webspace hyping my own stuff. Lots of great stuff is out there. Here are just a few great works by other hard-working authors (kids stuff):

The Rainbow Stick Boy

"This is the story of Huey, a stick boy who is born a little different than everyone else in the town. He doesn't let his differences keep him down. Huey finds a friend who is also a little different and together they find the magic at the end of the rainbow, and discover that their differences are really only skin deep.

This is a great Kindle e-book about diversity and the beauty within!"

Mailbox Kitten

"A small boy named Bubba unexpectedly finds his first love. He learns what it is to truly love, care for and tend to another. He does so happily, and with his whole heart. Sadly, just as unexpectedly his loved one dies through no fault of his own. Mammy and Pappy (his parents) console Bubba as much as they can. Until, one day Pappy discovers something that, if all goes right, will fill Bubba's heart with joy again."

Reckless Rudy and the Green Vase

"He kicks toys about. He knocks lamps over. He forgets to do his homework. But it doesn't stop there. He also steals food from his little sister. He makes his little brother do his chores. He doesn't care one way or the other what anyone thinks. He'll step on your toes if you get in his way. He's just reckless, and he gets away with all of it.

When Rudy's mom brings home a beautiful, old green vase to keep for their aunt, Rudy just can't keep his hands off the priceless antique. He will soon step into a weird and wacky, afternoon adventure of chases and flight. Ages 5 and up."

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Meeting of the Ways

The storied Meeting of the Ways is the spot where John of Hildesheim claimed the three kings met one another. In his 14th century tale, the three kings raced across thousands of miles in a single night, and met each other at this spot. Was this miraculous or simply an easy way to explain how they met each other?

Since we all must make sacrifices in following Christ, why would the three kings be any different? Even if they didn't know exactly what the star meant (when they first saw it), it is hoped that they knew it was a portent of a very special event. Is it out of the bounds of possibility that they saw the star long before others, and that God was calling them to sacrifice their kingdoms and themselves?

And so a Meeting of the Ways could have other connotations, too. Perhaps a spot where they chatted, or had another revelation, or perhaps even had tea. Maybe they met the legendary "Fourth King Here" (that, my friends is for another story, as it doesn't happen in mine). Who knows? But the idea of them traveling the thousands of miles in a single night is a little stretch, and since their journey to Christ is not detailed in the Bible, for me it remains an open question.


... Next up... The Hill of Vaws.

Friday, November 9, 2012

A House or a Manger?

Matthew 2

After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. 10 When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11 On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 12 And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.

I've been having some great discussions over on the Amazon forums. Verna mentioned that in Matthew 2: 11, it is written that the kings went to a house. Was it a stable/manger, or a house? Or both? When did they get to go to a house? I thought the inn was full?

It brings up an interesting question... most of us have in our minds the image of the three royal figures bowing down before Jesus, knees touching the straw, arms outstretched with their gifts. Our manger set growing up always included the three kings standing by. As such, the imagery is so embedded that sometimes we forget to re-look at what was really written.

And so I admit that Following Yonder Star, at least in this case, does not feature the wise men entering a house. Sure, they are offered a place by the so-called mayor, but they still make their way to the stable.


Who saw the star first? Was it always there? Did its coming signal the exact moment of birth, or was it merely an indication? So many questions, and my story embraces the theory that the star was there for quite some time, giving them the chance to travel the distance.

How long did Herod detain them? Was Jesus already born then? Or not quite?

The Main Event

The main event here is Jesus' birth. We can speculate and research and discuss, but that was the entire focus of the journey. Even if, upon starting, the kings did not know exactly what they followed, they realized very quickly that they were following something holy. If the devil had put that much effort in stopping them, they had to push on.

So... the key message is still the birth of Christ. Heralded by a star, a star which three foreign rulers followed, He is the focus of everything.

Friday, October 26, 2012


Here is the full prologue to this book. I'm thinking of taking it out of the final work and leaving it free on the site like this.

e felt as old as the hill he climbed. The vaunted, once-strategic, and impossibly high Hill of Vaws challenged him daily to climb its height and worship at the temple atop its craggy summit. The mound in the desert had once been relevant; now it looked out over a wide, empty and sere desert. Atop the hill’s scrub-covered crust, an equally ancient temple clung barely to live, kept going only by the priest and his four apprentices. A joint popped and he reflected again on retiring. But a glance at the gilded star atop the shrine, its glittering outline and the shadow it cast upon the hill, reminded him of his purpose here. Chapped lips creaked open in a half smile.
The golden star was a beacon of sorts, a thing by which to herald the Liberator, Savior, Redeemer, or Protector as He was wont to be named. Though the star reflected light, it was said that it would glow like the sun should the Liberator come. The priest, the star, the pillar, the chapel, and even the hill itself waited patiently for the Son of Man. “Glow like the sun,” the priest panted.
At one time, twelve wise men had kept constant vigil inside the chapel; they had long since passed on, leaving only the old priest and his apprentices. Finding young men to devote their lives to a run-down building atop a barren hillside in the middle of nowhere was almost impossible—and he wasn’t sure how long these men would remain. The perils of youth.
The ancient priest put his head down and trudged the remaining feet to the top of the hill. He was bent over with exhaustion and sore, tired muscles. It took an effort to straighten his frame, and a chorus of pops and snaps sounded. The priest grimaced and gazed out at the brown and dusty desert that stretched on in seemingly endless directions all around the hill.
A few scrubby trees near the chapel provided shade and aromatic herb bushes imparted the area with a sweet and heady fragrance. Being the highest point in the area, the vantage provided a vast overview of... nothing. Far beyond his vision, behind a cloud of dust, the large city of Jerusalem hulked in its teeming of humanity. Jerusalem... the old priest sniffed at that word—he called it by another name entirely, Urušalimum, an ancient name for an ancient settlement.
Inside, the chapel was a mirror of its outside. Stone walls inlaid with thick timbers, three small, windowless openings carved from the stone, a slightly peaked roof, and a small statue with a star atop it. The star inside the chapel did not spin and was dull with age. The old priest sat on a bench, his old knees long since retired from kneeling on the hard surface. Heaving another tired sigh, he gazed at the star on the altar. His lids soon became heavy, fluttered briefly, and finally closed.

He awoke with a start and stared around the room. Night had fallen and the chapel was cloaked in darkness, the only light coming from a bare crescent of a moon. Every few seconds, a tiny glimmer of light would reflect through the small openings in the chapel—moonbeams bouncing off the gilded star outside. But night would not have awoken him.
There had been a bright burst of light in his dream, and as he opened his eyes, he felt warmth on his lids. He closed them again. When an even brighter radiance lit up the backs of his eyelids, he snapped them open.
His head whipped around, aged and worn tendons creaking in agony. He stared at the once-dull statuette as it lit up with a bright white glow.
The star!
The star on the altar!
For only the barest of seconds, the room filled with the light of a hundred suns and the warmth of a midnight bonfire. Eyes lined with the wear of many years sparkled with vibrancy, knees that had long been ground down with age and decay fell painlessly to the floor in reverence, sagging ears perked, and wrinkled lips curved upward in a gap-toothed grin of ecstasy.
In the time it took his ancient eyelids to open and close in the heavenly glow, the light sniffed out and he was once again alone in the dark. But his smile did not waver, and his tired knees held out for a few more moments as he relished a sense of peace and fulfillment.
The Chaldeans were right, a star was coming… but it was more than a star. Deep in his soul, he could feel a presence, a great, overpowering, and peaceful presence. Warmth filled his cheeks and his eyes watered. A man, a man was coming with the star. The Redeemer! At last, the Savior of Man! He could almost hear the tiny heartbeat, far off near Urušalimum. A baby was going to be born, a new king, the King, the King of Man, the Redeemer...
A fallow and hoarse voice cried out, “He comes. He comes!”

(c) 2012 Martin D. Gibbs

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Cover Reveal

Well I guess the top banner gives it away, but here is the cover. We are really hoping to get this thing out by November!

Stay tuned for snippets and exerpts!