Sandra Orchard
Christmas Reads – Part 3 – Christmas in Canada & CD Giveaway

For this month’s Christmas Reads profile, I’m delighted to invite two-time national award nominated singer/songwriter and freelance writer, Sally Meadows, to tell us about her music and newly published stories. I had the privilege of meeting Sally at this year’s Write Canada conference.

Sally and Sandra

She’s  from Saskatoon and just had her first two short stories published in two different anthologies. This fall she is also promoting her Christmas CD Red & White, which is fabulous. Take it away Sally…

Sally:

Thanks so much for hosting me, Sandra! This fall marks the publication of my very first short story, called “Love, Shania and the Whispered Wish” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas in Canada, which has been #1 on The Globe and Mail’s (Canada’s national newspaper) bestseller list for the last two weeks! My story starts on my wedding day – I was married shortly before Christmas, 27 years ago – and the very first feedback I received on my story was that it is “very romantic”! Here’s a scrapbooked photo of my husband and me coming down the aisle just after we said our vows.

 wedding

My story was inspired by my very first wish as a newlywed – that one day I would sing and play the piano in beautiful settings, just like the lovely brunette who serenaded us with Christmas music at the honeymoon resort. Little did I know back then, that not only was that whispered wish going to be fulfilled, but maybe – just maybe – the singer who inspired me all those years ago was none other than one of Canada’s most beloved stars, before she was discovered.

cover_art_44633

My story ends with a mention of my Christmas CD Red & White, so it’s so cool that I can promote these together this fall! My Christmas album includes four original songs and eight Christmas classics, so there’s something for everyone. I am especially proud of my song “This New Year”, which was shortlisted for a 2014 Word Award in the category of song lyrics.

Click Image to buy at iTunes

Click Image to buy at iTunes

 

While my story “Love, Shania and the Whispered Wish” is all about the joyful aspects of my musical journey, my story “Choosing to Praise”, which appears in the book “Organized Obstacles: An Underdog Anthology”, has a more serious note as I discuss the challenges I have faced in music ministry. But it also has a happy ending, as do all the stories in this book. Each story inspires and provides hope as the author chronicles how he or she has turned his/her stumbling blocks into stepping-stones, rising above “underdog” status to become an “overcomer”.

Organized Obstacles BOOK COVER 2014

I thoroughly enjoyed writing these stories and songs, and my sincere hope is that you as reader and listener will enjoy them too! Here’s how you can connect with me: I’d love to hear from you!

http://sallymeadows.com

sally@sallymeadows.com

https://www.facebook.com/SallyMeadowsMusic

http://www.youtube.com/SallyMeadowsMusic

Twitter: @SallyMeadows

Sandra again: Sally is giving away one Free download card for her CD “Red & White”–the full album. To have your name added to the hat, please leave a comment or question for Sally and let us know your favorite Christmas song.

A name will be randomly chosen from all comments on Sat. Nov 22nd.

You can also find the books and music CD at Amazon and Sally’s webstore: http://sallymeadows.com/store

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Who Are You Really?

If you witnessed a crime and reporting it meant you might be targeted by the criminals, would you report it?

That’s the dilemma Nicole faced before the opening of my newest release, Identity Withheld. Her boyfriend tried to talk theIdentity Withheld young kindergarten teacher out of reporting what she believed was a baby being sold, but her conscience wouldn’t allow her to turn a blind eye to what she’d seen.

The Consequence?

The bad guys targeted her and she was compelled to go into witness protection.

The deputy marshal handling her case warned her to never tell anyone who she really was and to trust no one, because the person could be luring her into a false sense of security.

Have you ever confided in someone and later regretted it?

I have.

Could you imagine second guessing everything you said to every person in your life?

If you allowed yourself to fall in love, how would you feel knowing the person loving you back doesn’t even know who you really are?

Or is that true for most of us these days?

Do we only let people see what we want them to see? Or what the world tells us we should be?

ID-10012566_woman in maskOftentimes we don’t even realize how we’re misleading people (maybe even ourselves).

In new relationships, it’s natural to enthusiastically participate in activities that don’t particularly interest us, because they are an opportunity to spend time with the person we’re attracted to. But are we duping the person into believing we share their interests?

Maybe that football fanatic husband has grounds to be resentful after the wedding.

In Identity Withheld, Nicole was given a new name, a new job, a new state to live, her ties to all her friends and relatives were cut, and she was told who to be.

Could you stay true to yourself in that situation?

We actually face it daily on many levels—at school, at work, at church, at home.

Experts, peers, family, friends, the media all tell us how we should act and how we shouldn’t; what we should value; how we should spend our money; what we should think.

Nicole moves to the new state and adopts the new name and the new job. Her faith and fortitude are tested in countless ways.

Thankfully, the kind of tests she faces don’t happen to most of us. But our faith and fortitude are constantly tested, too. Often in subtle ways.

-Being tempted to tell a little white lie to whitewash something we did or didn’t do
-Hearing a friend or colleague or family member say something against God, something we should speak up against

Read Identity Withheld to see if Nicole ultimately turns her back on who she really is.

For yourself, decide who you really are and stay true to it.

Your Turn: What or who has helped you stay true to yourself (or the person you know God wants you to be) in a difficult situation?

 

Masked woman image courtesy of graur codrin at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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5 Tips that Could Save Your Life and Those You Love

The cooler winter months tend to bring with them more home fires than any other time of year, so I’ve invited firefighter, Jake Steele, the hero of my new release, Identity Withheld to share his top five fire safety tips that he wished every family would implement.

Because the actions you take before firefighters arrive is what will save your life.

image of fire

1) Maintain working smoke detectors outside all bedrooms in your home and a carbon monoxide detector on each level of your home.

Did you catch the maintain part? That means:
-vacuum the dust from them regularly
-install fresh batteries in them TODAY

2) Plan your escape route in case of fire. Practice it. Designate a specific place outside your home where family members will meet.

3) Keep bedroom doors closed at night to slow the spread of fire.

4) Do not leave candles or cooking unattended. Fires can flare up in an instant.

5) Check that your chimneys and vents are clear to allow proper ventilation of deadly gases.

Do you fight the fire or flee?

If the fire is confined to a small area such as a frying pan or trash can and is not spreading, the room is not filled with smoke, and/or you need to move past it to escape, then attempt to extinguish it by an appropriate method:

-A lid on a frying pan to deny the fire oxygen.
-Water on solid fuels such as paper, wood or cloth, but never on oils, gases or electrical fires
-Baking soda or fire extinguisher for class B and C fires.

If the fire extinguisher runs out, smoke fills the room, the fire begins to spread or firefighters arrive, leave immediately.

Your Turn: Have you implemented Jake’s tips?

Fire Image courtesy of Sailom at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


About Identity Withheld:  Book Cover for Identity Withheld

WITNESS IN HIDING

After exposing an illegal adoption ring, newly named “Kara Grant” is promised safety in Witness Protection. But someone has found her—and wants her dead. If only she could trust the handsome firefighter who catches her fleeing from a suspicious fire. Jake Steele seems to think she’s guilty of burning her own home. But how can she tell him who she really is and what she’s been through without bringing danger to the widowed father’s door? Yet with the criminals fast closing in, taking such a risk might be her only chance at survival. Because the price she’ll pay for her silence could be her life.

Click Book Cover Image to enter this week’s giveaway!

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Review – A Promise to Protect

Patricia Bradley, in A Promise to Protect, the second book in her Logan Point series, once again delivers a wonderful, keep-you-guessing romantic suspense. And don’t worry, you don’t have to have read book one. This is a standalone novel that will give people who have enjoyed book one the added fun of seeing what some of its characters are up to now.

A Promise to Protect book cover

And who could resist the stunning cover?

Pat does a fabulous job of making the Mississippi setting come to life. As a Canadian who’s never traveled to the deep South, it was quite a vivid experience. One particular scene involving snakes even haunted my dreams!

Here’s the book blurb:

Acting Sheriff Ben Logan hasn’t heard from Leigh Somerall in a very long time, but it doesn’t mean he can get her—or their whirlwind romance of ten years ago—out of his head. When she calls out of the blue it is with a strange request to protect her brother, Tony. But when Tony dies just days later, Ben is charged with a different task—protecting Leigh and her nine-year-old son, TJ, from the killers. But how can Ben keep an eye on Leigh if she’s doing everything in her power to avoid him? And could the secret that Leigh is keeping change Ben’s life forever?

Suspense, intrigue, and a touch of romance make A Promise to Protect perfect for readers who like their stories with a hearty dose of mystery.

Me again: Now, as you probably guessed from the description. This is a secret baby story. While I often have a difficult time sympathizing with a heroine who keeps her child’s parentage a secret from the father, and admittedly there were a couple of spots that I wanted to knock Leigh upside the head for not finally coming clean, for the most part, the fast-paced scenarios compelled me to suspend judgement and read on to see how the Lord might change her heart.

Let’s Get to Know Pat & Her Characters Better

I borrowed the idea for the following questions from Jessica Patch’s blog. BTW, I’ll be there on Friday doing a giveaway.

Would you rather be single or married?

Pat: since I’ve been dating the same guy for going on 17 years, I figure I’d rather be single. Maybe that’s why I write a little romance. :-)

Leigh: Married, but he’d have to really like children.

Ben: Single. I have panic attacks when I get around kids.

Would you rather be invisible or read minds?

Pat: I’d rather be invisible. I used to watch Topper and really wanted to be like George and Marion Kerby.

Leigh: I’d rather read minds. I think I’d be a better doctor if I could. And I’d like to know what Ben Logan is thinking.

Ben:  I’d rather read minds. It would make being a sheriff much easier if I knew what the criminal was thinking. And Leigh, too. She’s so hard to read. And maybe I could discover what’s really bothering her.

Oh, I remember, Topper! Thanks so much, Pat, Leigh and Ben!

I actually had the opportunity to room with Patricia Bradley this past September at the Writer’s Police Academy. It was especially fun to hear her warm Southern drawl, which I then found myself hearing in the character’s voices as I read. :-D

In getting to know her, it quickly became clear that honoring God through her writing is her top priority. She is also an abstinence/healthy relationship speaker. And when she’s not writing or speaking, or posing for crazy pics with me

Pat & Sandra

she throws mud on a wheel and tries to make something beautiful.

A Promise to Protect is available from all the major retailers. If you’d like to connect with Pat, you’ll find her at: http://patriciabradleyauthor.com/ and her Facebook author page

Your Turn: Pat is crazy busy these days with approaching deadlines for both another book from Revell and one for Harlequin’s Heartwarming line. But she’ll be happy to answer your questions. So ask away!

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A Fabulous Love Inspired Giveaway!

Check out

Soul Inspirationz New Releases page for

November in category fiction, and…

Enter to win a copy of one of 12 different books, including

Identity Withheld by Sandra Orchard ;-)

 

Nov New Releases Giveaway

Contest entries close 
Wednesday October 29 NZDT.

What’s Scribd and Why Should you Care?

If you enjoy reading books on an Ereader, tablet, or other electronic device, and you read more than a couple of books a month, then you need to check out Scribd.

Scribd has been called Netflix for books. For one low monthly fee, you can download and read as many books as you want.

Screenshot 2014-10-17 22.48.58

The number of Christian fiction and non-fiction titles in Scribd’s library is growing daily.

Harlequin has begun adding their family of Love Inspired titles to the subscription service. So far, all the books in my Undercover Cops series are there, as are my Port Aster Secrets books from Revell Publishing.

And the best part is, thanks to Harlequin’s special promotion…

You can try Scribd for free for three months by clicking here

You can download up to 20 books at a time to read offline, as well as, organize all your chosen titles onto personal library shelves while online.

Scribd describes itself as “your personal digital library, where you have unlimited access to the world’s largest collection of e-books and written works.” With their premium subscription service you’ll have access to over half a million books from nearly a thousand publishers, from New York Times bestsellers to literary classics.

They also store an eclectic collection of user-uploaded written works, from landmark court filings to academic papers from scholars around the world.

You have nothing to lose by trying it. If you decide it’s not for you, just be sure to cancel before your free trial period ends and you won’t be charged a penny. But be sure to read all my books first.  ;-)

Find all Sandra Orchard’s titles on Scribd here.

I’m guessing that if you choose to “follow” me on at my profile on Scribd, you’ll receive notices when new books are added.

If you still have questions, check out Scribd’s frequently asked questions page here. I’m still learning my way around the place myself, working on “claiming” my author profile so I can add a photo etc.  :-D

BTW, you won’t find any erotic fiction (at least not at this time) available in the subscription service–reassuring if the kids start browsing.

Stack of BooksYour Turn: What do you think of this concept? Do you plan to try it?

 

The service has been around since 2007, but I imagine with Harlequin now on board the number of users is bound to boom, at least for the next three months. However, I would very much hate to see it further undermine the viability of our local bookstores.

 

Image courtesy of Master isolated images at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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Christmas Reads – Part 2 – The Forest Ranger’s Christmas

Autumn LeavesWelcome to part 2 of my Christmas Reads series, but first Happy Thanksgiving to all my Canadian blog readers!

As regular Love Inspired readers know, the Christmas stories start rolling out this time of year, and I was fortunate to win an advanced copy of Leigh Bale’s October release, The Forest Ranger’s Christmas.

If you’re collecting Christmas stories, a couple of Christmas-themed Love Inspired Suspense that are also in stores this month are Holiday Defenders, a collection by various authors, and Covert Christmas by Hope White.

Identity Withheld Holiday Defenders covert christmas

And I’ll put in a plug for my November release, Identity Withheld, since it is also Thanksgiving/Christmas themed, and already available directly from Harlequin. ;-)

I don’t read many of LI’s contemporary romance, since as a primarily romantic-suspense/mystery reader, I tend to like a lot more going on in the novels I read, but The Forest Ranger’s Christmas was a nice change of pace for me with a lot more focus on the romantic conflict than the external conflict, which tends to be the main fodder of my own novels.

The Forest Rangers Christmas

A Small-Town Christmas

Josie Rushton’s in Camlin for the holidays—but not for long. She has just a few weeks to persuade her ailing grandfather to leave his small Nevada town and move closer to her Las Vegas home. But after seventy-five happy years in his house, Gramps isn’t going anywhere. Josie can’t imagine what’s so great about Camlin. When she meets single dad and forest ranger Clint Hamilton, she quickly begins to see the appeal. Clint shows Josie the joys of living in a close-knit community, especially at Christmas. She’s soon falling for the town, Clint’s charm and his adorable daughter. Can Clint convince her that love and family are the best gifts of all?

This book received a 4 1/2 star review from Romantic Times!

It does a great job of showing the challenge of caring for aging parents, or in this case, grandparent. And who could resist a handsome forest ranger who’s always eager to lend a helping hand?

Award-winning author, Leigh Bale, is the daughter of a retired U.S. forest ranger, and holds a B.A. in History.  Married in 1981 to the love of her life, Leigh and her professor husband have two children and two grandkids.  You can reach her at www.LeighBale.com.

Your Turn: Do you have other Christmas reading recommendations?

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Introducing Kara Grant or… is she?

Identity_WithheldIdentity Withheld is my newest Love Inspired Suspense, and although the novel doesn’t hit bookstores until November, it’s already available directly from Harlequin. So, I thought I’d whet your appetite by interviewing the heroine today. [Just in: Tuesday & Wednesday only, buy 2 books and get 1 free at Harlequin, using coupon code: HNB2OC14]

Identity Withheld is Jake Steele’s story, brother to Sam Steele, the hero of Perilous Waters. But the identity of Jake’s romantic interest is a tad more complicated. Thankfully, I’ve managed to coax her into revealing a little more about herself here today.

Sandra:  Tell us about yourself, Kara, and how you came to be in the midst of such suspense. 

Kara:  My real name is actually Nicole Redman, but after witnessing what looked like a man buying a baby while out for a jog in the park in my hometown of Boston, bad guys tried to kill me with a parcel bomb and the police sent me into witness protection. I was quietly biding my time as the rechristened Kara Grant, nighttime janitor, living across the continent in a small town outside of Seattle, until the bad guys found me and set fire to my new home. That’s how I met firefighter Jake Steele.

Sandra:  Tell us about Jake.  What was your first impression? 

Kara:  My very first impression, was not good, I’m afraid. When he spotted me running from the scene, he thought I’d set the fire and grabbed me none too gently. But once he realized his mistake, he was very gentle and protective and had the sweetest, lopsided smile, even if he was annoyingly insistent that I go to the hospital when it was the last place I wanted to go.

Sandra:  It sounds like the two of you clashed more than once. What would you consider your strengths and weaknesses?          

Kara:  I guess my determination to do the right thing no matter the personal cost would be my best strength. My boyfriend in Boston warned me to not go to the police after I witnessed what I was sure had to be the sale of a kidnapped child, saying it would only lead to trouble, but I couldn’t not speak up. Thankfully, I’ve always been fairly self-reliant as well, which helped me a lot once I was placed in witness protection, although Jake would probably say that is my weakness, since I’m so resistant to letting him help me.

Sandra:  You have a scripture at the beginning of the story.  Tell us why this scripture is significant.       

Kara:  When I learned I would have to move across the country and cut off all contact with my friends and family, I clung to this scripture with all my might: “If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,’ even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you.”

Sandra:  Why can you never see yourself ending up with the hero?

Kara: My life isn’t my own. Kara Grant is not who I really am. And I wasn’t supposed to tell anyone who I was. Being with me, puts Jake and his son in danger and I couldn’t live with myself if I brought them to harm or had to uproot them from their family here in Washington State, because the bad guys have found me and I have to be moved again.

Sandra:  What do you hope people will learn from your experience?

Kara:   To do what’s right even when it hurts and trust God to work it all out according to his plan and purpose.

A worthwhile lesson! Thank you for visiting with us today, Kara.

Blog readers, if you’d like to read more of…

Kara’s interview and other bonus features, such as deleted scenes, as well as an excerpt of chapter one, click here.

If you like to bake, you’ll want to check out the recipe for Gran’s Pumpkin Muffins, also in the bonus features. October 13th is Thanksgiving here in Canada, so in preparation we’ve been experimenting with a few new recipes. As these pumpkin muffins baked, they made the house smell wonderful. They tasted great too!

Your Turn: If you had to go into witness protection, what would be the hardest thing for you to walk away from?

 

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Author Interview – Gina Holmes

pic of Gina Holmes

I’m still in St. Louis this week, doing research for my next series, but I’m delighted to have the talented Gina Holmes here to tell you about her newest release.

Gina is the founder of popular literary site, novelrocket.com. She is a two-time Christy and ECPA Book of the Year finalist and winner of the INSPY, Inspirational Reader’s Choice, and Carol Award. Her books regularly appear on Christian bestseller lists.

 

Gina, tell us a little bit about your newest release, Driftwood Tides.

 

Driftwood Tides tells the story of an aging, alcoholic driftwood artist turned beach bum, Holton Creary, and young Libby Slater. Libby grew up with an absent father and a loving but cold, socialite mother. Leading up to her wedding, Libby and her groom-to-be go through genetic testing and she learns her blood type doesn’t match either of her parents. She confronts her mother and is reluctantly told that she’s adopted. She goes searching for her mother, Adele, only to find her husband, Holton Creary lying face down on the carpet of his Nags Head beach shack.

 

She lies about her real identity until she is finally found out. Holton does not welcome the news. He never knew the wife he had given saint status too had given up a daughter for adoption. Together the two search to find the truth about Adele, Libby’s father and themselves.

 

What do you hope readers will take away from this book? pic of Driftwood Tides

 

At its heart, Driftwood Tides is really about discovering who we are, whose we are, where we belong and the need to accept and bestow forgiveness.

 

Why did you set the novel in Nags Head?

 

Oh, how I love that place! I’m not sure there’s a more peaceful setting in all the world. And the further out I get from civilization, the happier I am. I love the sand dunes, the untouched nature, the quaint towns. Just everything! (Well, except sand in my bathing suit maybe J)

 

You seem to have a recurring theme in your novels about absent fathers, if it’s not too personal, why do you think that is?

 

It is too personal, but I don’t mind answering (wink!) When I was 6 years old, I was packed up by my stepfather and driven to my father’s house. Overnight I had a new Mom, new sisters and brother, house and life. It was as traumatic an experience as I can imagine. There were few explanations that made sense to me and I missed my other family desperately. I think ever since I’ve been trying to settle some pretty deep-seated questions. Writing books is wonderful for that.

 

crossing-oceans-25012-200x300The novel you’ve written that seems to be a fan-favorite is Crossing Oceans, do you ever see yourself writing a sequel?

 

I love that book too. Makes me cry just thinking about certain scenes. I would love to write a sequel, prequel or off shoot stories. I love those characters dearly. I’m under contract for three different novels, so I’m not sure when I’ll have the time, but I’d love to explore Craig’s story and of course, Bella’s. I miss Mama Peg very much!

 

You’ve said that your favorite novel you’ve written is Wings of Glass. Why is that your favorite?

 

Well, for storyline, I think Crossing Oceans is the strongest. I think my writing in Wings of Glass was my best, plus when I was very young I watched my mother in one abusive relationship after another, and then two of my sisters. I had been there too, despite thinking I was better than that. I know the mindset that keeps a woman (or man) in a relationship like that and I wanted to give insight to those who don’t understand. I’ve received enough letters to know I did what I set out to do.

 

That’s so rewarding. You’re originally from NJ but write all your novels from the South, why do you set your novels down South if you’re from up North?

 

Ha, you found me out! Yes, I was born and raised in NJ. As much as I love my friends and family, I am definitely more suited for the slower pace of the South. I’ve lived in Southern VA for half of my life and I plan to spend the rest of my life here if I can help it. I try to write books from settings that make me happy. So I write where I want to be. (Although, I’ve got to say, NJ food is amazing and you’ve got to love a boisterous NJ laugh!)

 

What do you like most about being a writer? Least?

 

Most, I like being able to have a platform to share lessons I’ve learned in my life that I know others would benefit from. And more than that, I just love to tell a good story.

 

Least, would be the unpredictability of the business. Sometimes it seems so random and the lack of control makes me uncomfortable sometimes. (Which is probably right where God wants me!)

 

I know what you mean. Do you have any advice for aspiring novelists?

 

My advice is pretty much always the same:

1. Write. So many people want to have written but don’t actually do the work.

2. Get to a writers conference because there’s so much you don’t know, that you don’t even know you don’t know. If you don’t you’ll be spinning your wheels for years, wasting valuable time.

3. Run, don’t walk, to the nearest bookstore and buy yourself a copy of Self-Editing for Fiction Writers. Then apply it. (Best money I ever spent!)

4. Join a good critique group and get a nice thick skin, ‘cause you’re sure going to need it!

 

If you could go back to the pre-published writer you were, knowing what you do now, what advice would you give her?

 

Well, I wouldn’t have told myself how many novels I’d write that would never see the light of day, because I would have given up. I wouldn’t have told myself how little money there is actually to be made or how lonely writing can sometimes be. I wouldn’t have told myself that I’d still have a day job with 4 novels out in stores, including 3 bestselling novels… okay, but that wasn’t your question… I would tell myself to relax. Some of this, most of this is, is out of your hands, and that’s okay. It’s not going to be at all what you think it is, but it’s going to be so much more. You won’t get rich, but you will touch lives. At the end of the day, that’s going to be exactly what will fulfill you.

 

Where can readers find your books and more about you?

 

Thanks for asking. My books are in B&N, BooksaMillion, Amazon, Lifeway, Parable, Family Christian and hopefully a good number of independent bookstores. You can find me at Ginaholmes.com. Thanks so much for hosting me!

You’re very welcome, Gina, and blog readers, today, Sept 29th is the…

Last Day to enter Gina’s Giveaway for a cool book table.

Check it out at her website: http://www.ginaholmes.com/

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Christmas Reads – Part 1 – Snowflake Tiara

I know, I know, it’s only September, still 3 months and 3 days until Christmas! But…

one of the ways I treat my overworked brain at Christmastime is by indulging in a month-long fest of reading Christmas themed romance novels and novellas. I start collecting them as soon as I find them and I decided that this year, I’d share some of those finds with you. My first is…

Snowflake Tiara by Angela Breidenbach and Valerie Comer

book cover of Snowflake Tiara

This is a Christmas romance, with two books in one, celebrating Montana’s 125th anniversary. They both have the same great hook:

What if you were caught doing something good, but the man you loved didn’t see it that way?

Now usually, I collect the Christmas novellas I find and save them for December, but I actually read these two novellas while traveling earlier this month. They were a fabulous way to fill in all those hours between flights. They are both set in Helena, Montana, and center around a fictional beauty pageant–the first a hundred and twenty-five years ago, and the second this year.

In the first novella: The Debutante Queen by Angela Breidenbach ~ 1889 (Helena, MT)

Calista Blythe enters the first Miss Snowflake Pageant celebrating Montana statehood to expose the plight of street urchins. But hiding an indentured orphan could unravel Calista’s reputation, and her budding romance with pageant organizer, Albert Shanahan, if her secret is revealed. Will love or law prevail?

I’ve got to admit that I was so swept up by the historical details that I was convinced that Angie and Valerie based the books on a real event. But Valerie has since told me that no, the event is completely fiction, although Helena was the wealthiest city in the world per capita in 1889 (thanks to the gold rush), so it’s not too big a stretch that someone may have considered something of that nature.

The Debutante Queen mentions the first recorded American pageant in Delaware, which took place a few short years before 1889. While her heroine and hero, Calista and Albert, are fictional (as is his inn), many of the other characters and locations and historical tidbits are real.

In the second novella: More Than a Tiara by Valerie Comer ~ 2014 (Helena, MT)

Marisa Hiller’s interest in competing in Miss Snowflake Pageant for the city of Helena’s 150th anniversary is at zip, zero, zilch when she discovers the official photographer is former boyfriend, Jase Mackie. Can Jase make amends for past mistakes and offer her, not only a tiara, but a partner in her crusade to help needy children and families?

True to her farm lit roots, Valerie does a fabulous job of marrying two seemingly incompatible worlds, that of farmer and beauty queen. I love how she weaves in her own personal passion for local grown produce.

I asked Valerie what inspired their collaboration on Snowflake Tiara pic of Valerie Comer and Angela Breidenbach

Here’s what she had to say: Angela entered pageantry as a means to develop her platform as a speaker and author. Being Mrs. Montana International 2009 has expanded her opportunities to speak on an increasingly wide basis, which is something Angie loves to do!

I, Valerie, have never entered a pageant, nor played a contestant on television. In fact, I grew up a little Mennonite girl in a traditional household, where beauty, elegance, and grace were not celebrated. Writing More Than a Tiara (my novella in Snowflake Tiara) gave me opportunities to internalize God’s views.

We hatched the general idea of writing a novella duo together several years ago, but agreed immediately we’d only do it if the stories fit both our brands. Angie loves turn-of-the-century Montana, and I love to write farm lit. It took several Google hangout sessions before we narrowed in on the pageantry themes with my character’s platform centered on real food. Focusing both novellas on children in need, both in Helena and around the world, further pulled the stories together.

As we worked back and forth, brainstorming, sharing snippets, critiquing, and editing, we were able to tighten the connections between the stories and themes.

We’re both delighted with how the stories developed, and are thankful that our readers are enjoying the collaboration as well!

Sandra, again. The stories are fun and I wholeheartedly recommend this unique pairing for my blog readers’ Christmas reading list.

This book is available in print, but is under $4 on Kindle. Learn about other novels by these talented authors by clicking on their names above the book image to link to their individual websites.

Your Turn: Do you like to indulge in Christmas-themed books or movies as the season approaches? Or crafting or decorating? ;-)

 

 

 

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Sandra Orchard
Sandra Orchard
Sandra Orchard

 
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