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One Minute Past Christmas

An Appalachian Christmas Short Story

One Minute Past Christmas is the story of a Greenbrier County,

One Minute Past Christmas-Header

Book Summary

One Minute Past Christmas

One Minute Past Christmas is the story of a Greenbrier County, West Virginia, family in which a grandfather and his granddaughter share a special ability — they call it a gift — that enables them to briefly witness each year a miraculous gathering in the sky. What they see begins at precisely one minute past Christmas and fills them with as much relief as it does wonder. But they worry that the “gift” — which they cannot reveal to anyone else — will die with them because it has been passed to no other relative for forty-four years.

What readers say about the book🧐

To all my librarian and other teacher friends: I just finished reading this book, One minute Past Christmas, written by one of my favorite MU journalism professors, Dr. George Arnold. It is a great read and an inspirational story for middle school and high school students. Adding it to your book purchases would be a great service to your students.


(Amazon Review)
About the Author

George T. Arnold

Most who know George T. Arnold know that the man can tell a story. The readers of his newspaper articles and columns back in the 1960s knew it. His former journalism students at Marshall University certainly knew it. Of course, anyone who’s gotten the chance to enjoy much conversation with him has known it.

And now, there’s a whole new audience learning how well Arnold can transport someone to another place in time: his fiction readers.

After 46 years of working as a journalist, as an award-winning professor in Marshall’s W. Page Pitt School of Journalism and Mass Communications, and as an author of the Media Writer’s Handbook: A Guide to Common Writing and Editing Problems, Arnold has started a journey into fiction writing. And he’s having a ball. “I thoroughly enjoy writing fiction,” he said. “The day it becomes no fun, I’ll quit.”

From a story about a little girl with a bit of magic and an attachment to a misshapen, unwanted Christmas tree, to a story about a gunslinger out West who wants a new start, Arnold has already demonstrated that his talents go beyond the truth-telling forms of writing to the kind that is filled with all things made up — imaginative, vibrant characters and page-turning plotlines. His works of fiction include Old Mrs. Kimble’s Mansion.

Wyandotte Bound recently earned first place in the Laramie Award Best Western division of the Chanticleer 2021 International Book Awards competition. Now 83 years old, Arnold has been retired from Marshall for over a decade and resides in South Carolina to be near family. As he and his brother and sisters raised their own families, they were living and working in four different states, he said, but they decided they should try to get back together in retirement.

And so they did, all landing in South Carolina. “I was one of those fortunate people with a very close family,” he said. “This was thanks to my mother.” Though his wife, who was a registered nurse, passed away at 54, Arnold remains a devoted father, grandfather, and great-grandfather. “They are delightful,” he said of his five grandchildren and great-grandchildren. “It’s fun being a grandparent.” When family time and life slowed down during the lockdown of COVID-19, writing picked up for Arnold. He published two books in 2021, and he’s still going strong.

Even with the steady, year-after-year success of his Media Writer’s Handbook, originally published in 1995 by McGraw Hill, Arnold said he never gave a thought to writing fiction until one day, his sister, Patty Noll, posed a challenge. At the moment, they were driving and he saw some neglected, unwanted evergreens in an empty lot. Arnold mentioned to his sister and brother-in-law that he had “the perfect ending for a Christmas short story if somebody would write it.”

His sister’s response: “You know how to write; do it yourself.” “With nothing to lose but time and effort, I gave it a try and wrote and self-published One Minute Past Christmas,” he said. His next two novels — an untraditional action/romance Western, Wyandotte Bound, and a suspense/romance titled Old Mrs. Kimble’s Mansion — were traditionally published by Speaking Volumes.

“The number of books published each year is estimated to be more than 2 million, when self-publishing and hybrid publishing are included,” Arnold said. “Anyone can self-publish, whether the writer’s book is terrible, great or somewhere in between. But only about 1.5% to 2% get traditional contracts with established publishers who pay all costs, including marketing, and provide a royalty to the author.” Arnold challenged himself to get a traditional contract and he succeeded.

As for the stories he creates, they unfold day to day. He’s in as much suspense writing the novels as his readers are reading them. “I don’t plan out books,” he said. “I get an idea and start there, and they go where they go.” He loves finding the right rhythm and mixing up short and long sentences. He likes the challenge of starting each chapter with something interesting and ending it with something lingering.

As far as the characters, it’s been fun creating personalities and backstories from scratch, and he admitted to laughing out loud a time or two at the things he can make them do. “There’s a freedom in writing fiction. You can do whatever you want,” Arnold said. He made a pledge not to write novels that were, essentially, about himself. However, some stories are set in West Virginia and demonstrate the southern West Virginia native’s familiarity with life in Appalachia. Writing a Western was inspired by a childhood during which Saturdays were spent at the movie theater in town. “I never got tired (of Westerns),” he said, “I love those things today.” And he’s working on his next one. “I’m 15,000 words into a new Western, and I don’t know how it’s going to end,” he said.

Why, one might ask, after such a rich, rigorous, and successful career, does Arnold still write? “As I told a writer who interviewed me on his podcast some time ago, I know nothing I have ever written or ever will write will alter the course of American literature. I just hope my books will provide readers with a few hours of relaxation, entertainment, and enjoyment.

“Because I am retired, I have the time,” he said. “And I have no other talents. I regret I neither sing well, nor play any musical instrument other than my 1950s-style Wurlitzer One More Time jukebox. Writing and rewriting my textbook was hard work,” Arnold continued.

“Researching and verifying everything required both mental and physical labor. Writing it was not fun, but I have enjoyed the satisfaction of producing an enduring resource for both students and professional communicators.

“Conversely, writing fiction is pure fun for me. Unlike journalistic writing, I do not have to be objective, keep my own opinions out of my writing, and be as fair in presenting all sides of an issue as I possibly can be. Those are goals I consider not only necessary in news writing, but also honorable.” He would never spend his retirement doing something he didn’t find rewarding.

With all this fun writing fiction, his book on writing is still helping students and professionals and recently won an award. The seventh edition of  Media Writer’s Handbook was the Gold Medal Winner in the Readers’ Favorite Book Reviews and Awards at the 2021 International Book Awards Contest.

The second-place winner was none other than the renowned astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson for his Cosmic Queries. “When I looked it up and saw that I was first and he was second, I was very pleased,” Arnold said. “I’m old enough that I can brag about it and people won’t hold it against me.”

(This article was written by Jean Hardiman in the Winter 2022 edition of Metro magazine.)

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One Minute Past Christmas is the story of a Greenbrier County,

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