Wednesday Writers-Writing the Backstory for Troubled Writers by Eris Field

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Eris Field is today’s Wednesday Writer’s guest and she’ll be talking about

Writing the Back-Story for Troubled Characters

from Eris Field

Photo Courtesy of geralt pixabay.com

In reality, psychiatric disorders are similar to physical disorders in that they have predisposing factors (risk factors), protective or buffering factors, and an impact on the family as well as the patient.

Recently, I’ve been reading novels that include a family member developing early onset dementia (onset before the age of 60 years) and the necessity of one of the characters (usually the son or daughter) to take over the care. The information seems to be plunked down with no description of possible risk factors—certainly a big cause of fear for every other family member—and little description of the effect on the person’s life and on the caregiver. Just think of someone younger than 60 years. An energetic time for most and certainly too young for retirement. They’ve got things to do and places to go. The person’s children are in their 30’s and there are probably young grandchildren.

As a retired psychiatric nurse I turn the pages frantically looking for the writer to provide more information about the afflicted member and the impact on the family member assuming the caregiver role.

It occurred to me that readers want to know and writers need to address three vital questions:

1. What are the predisposing factors? What in the character’s backstory might have contributed to his developing the illness? Do I have those risk factors?
2. What are the protective factors? Family members wonder what can I do to avoid the same illness?
3. What is the effect of the illness? What would the effect be on me: my career, my savings for the future, my children’s educational funds, my marriage, and my plans for retirement.

In writing about early onset or late onset dementia, it should be remembered that it is a gradual process. Mild cognitive impairment is believed to be a preclinical phase of dementia. People with mild cognitive impairment have impaired memory for recent events but they also frequently have apathy, depression, irritability, and anxiety. They may appear to be agitated without cause. The onset of mild cognitive impairment may be followed by dementia, often within three to five years.

Predisposing factors for developing mild cognitive impairment include:
• Lower level of education
• Fewer stimulating mental activities
• Less physical exercise

Protective factors include:
• Higher level of education achieved
• Being employed or volunteering
• Engaging in physical exercise
• Maintaining good health
• Having an active social support network
• Not smoking
• Having one glass of alcohol a day

Effect on Others
Family members often notice that the person has difficulty remembering future commitments and the family begins to compensate for person’s inability to remember things.

Dementia is an impairment of cognitive functioning—thinking, reasoning, knowing, and memory– that is severe enough to cause problems with communicating, self-care, and functioning at work, within the family, and within social situations.

Predisposing factors for dementia that occur in middle age:
• History of trauma to the head: repeated injuries to the head, concussions
• Hypertension
• Diabetes
• Obesity
• Cigarette smoking
• Physical inactivity
• High cholesterol,
• Depression

Protective factors for dementia that occur in middle age
• High levels of academic achievement
• Mediterranean diet
• Engaging in intellectually challenging activities
• Engaging in physical exercise
• Moderate use of alcohol (one glass a day)

Predisposing factors for dementia that occur at old age
• Stress
• Cigarette smoking
• Depression
• Head injuries, especially head injuries from falls
• Social isolation and loneliness
• Medications with anticholinergic effects

Protective factors for dementia that occur at old age
• Following a Mediterranean diet
• Drinking wine daily in moderation (one glass)
• Maintaining physical activity
• Engaging in cognitively stimulating activities
• Engaging in leisure activities: music, walking, visiting friends, reading, volunteering, playing games with friends
• Maintaining social networks
• Spirituality

Effect of dementia on others
Grief over the loss of a partner, a relationship, and a shared dream of the future,
Guilt over losing patience with the person with dementia.
Guilt for not being able to keep promise to care for them at home,
Anger over changes, financial burden, and lost opportunities associated with caring for the ill person.
Fear of being at increased risk of developing dementia, and
Fear that dementia in the family may jeopardize chances of marriage for younger family members.

Writers often hint at a genetic influence as the cause of the development of dementia, but if they would include the presence of other risk factors or absence of protective factors in the back stories of their troubled characters and would describe broader effects on the caregiver, their stories would be richer, more compelling.

Here is a brief intro to one of my romance novels that deals with some of these issues. I hope you enjoy it.

 

At some time in our lives, many of us will be refugees–people fleeing from traumatic situations such wars, earthquakes, fires, floods, or the aftermath of debilitating illness, death, divorce or betrayal. Help for some may come from family members, friends, and spiritual leaders. Within the medical profession, it is often psychiatrists who help those who have been traumatized by such events. No Greater Love is a contemporary, international romance featuring a psychiatrist and a nurse who help those who are refugees only to discover that they are the only ones who can save each other. The story moves from East Aurora in Western New York to Leiden and Amsterdam in The Netherlands.

Descended from legendary Circassian beauties once sought for Sultans’ palaces, Janan, a survivor of an earthquake in Turkey that killed her family when she was eight years old, was adopted by an older, childless couple in East Aurora. Her adoptive father was raised with a cousin, Carl, who, in 1939 at the age of 5, had been sent from his home in Leiden by his Dutch-Jewish father to his uncle in the US to save him from Nazi occupation of The Netherlands. Now, 28 years old, Janan has spent her life working as a nurse, caring for her parents, and, after their deaths, helping the aging Carl.

When Pieter, a young Dutch psychiatrist who Carl mentored, comes to Buffalo to be evaluated at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, he meets Janan and knows the sweet power of love for the first time. He also knows that, even if he lives, treatment for leukemia may leave a man unable to father children.

Realizing she has fallen in love with Pieter and fearing that life is passing her by, Janan asks him for one night. During that one night, cloistered in Room 203 of the venerable Roycroft Inn, Pieter teaches Janan the eight different kisses of seduction. It is a night that changes the lives of all.

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Eris Field was born in the Green Mountains of Vermont—Jericho, Vermont to be precise—close by the home of Wilson Bentley (aka Snowflake Bentley), the first person in the world to photograph snowflakes. She learned from her Vermont neighbors that pursuit of one’s dream is a worthwhile life goal.

As an impoverished student nurse at Albany Hospital, Eris met her future husband, an equally impoverished Turkish surgical intern who told her fascinating stories about the history of Turkey, the loss of the Ottoman Empire, and the painful experience of forced population exchanges.

After years of working as a nurse, teaching psychiatric nursing, and raising a family, Eris now writes novels–international, contemporary romances that incorporate her interest in psychiatry, history, people from different cultures, and the problems of refugees.

Although the characters in Eris’s novels are often from other countries—The Netherlands, Turkey, and Kurdistan— her novels are usually set in Western New York–The land of Father Baker, Jericho Road Refugee Center, the Buffalo Bills, Wings, and snow–chunky rain snow, lake-effect snow, horizontal snow, the snow of thunder snow storms, dry, fine snow, curtains of wet heavy snow, and whiteouts.

Learn more about Eris Field on her website. Stay connected on Facebook.

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Tasty Tuesdays–Good Morning Breakfast Bread from HL Carpenter

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Good Morning Bread

from HL Carpenter

It’s week three of Hot Tea Month and I have another recipe for you to celebrate tea. Today’s Tasty Tuesday’s blog recipe isn’t a tea recipe, but it doesn’t have tea in it. The recipe is courtesy of mother and daughter writing team HL Carpenter who are sharing their Breakfast Bread recipe. While I don’t make yeast breads often anymore, because of the kneading process, this bread looks easy, tasty, and festive. I think when I try it I’ll use a flavored herb tea from my stash.

While you’re enjoying your breakfast bread, why not settle back with their newest cozy mystery release Murder by the Books, available from Amazon.
Books and Bread. What more can the soul want? Enjoy!

Breakfast Bread

1½ cups dried mixed fruit (we used one 5-ounce package of mixed cranberries, cherries, blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, and filled in the remainder with dried cranberries)
½ cup warm tea, any flavor
1 package regular yeast
½ cup warm water
2 tbsp. butter
½ cup coconut milk
3 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. salt
1 egg
1 tsp. cinnamon
3 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup nuts of your choice (we used pecans and pistachios)

Spray 2 loaf pans with cooking spray or line with parchment paper.

Soak dried fruit in bowl with warm tea. Set aside.

In separate bowl, add yeast to warm water. Set aside in a warm draft free location.

Melt butter.

Mix coconut milk, sugar, honey, salt, and egg. Add melted butter and stir. Next, add yeast and water mixture and stir.

Mix cinnamon and flour. Add to liquid ingredients and mix well.

Drain fruit. Add fruit and nuts to dough. Use your hands to mix, adding additional flour by tablespoons if necessary.

Let dough rise 1 hour. Punch down, divide in half, and shape into two equal loaves. Put loaves in prepared pans and let rise 40 minutes.

Heat oven to 350° F. Bake loaves 30 minutes. Cool in pan 5 minutes and remove to rack.

Serve warm or cold with butter or topping of your choice.

While you’re enjoying your bread, we invite you to sample an excerpt from our soon-to-be-released mystery.

Certified public accountant Fae Childers is not an embezzler, despite the belief of the accounting firm that fires her for stealing. But proving her innocence is harder than convincing an IRS agent to allow a deduction. She’s lost her mother, her job, her fiancé, and her self-respect. She’s running out of money and the lease is about to expire on her apartment.

Then the fortune-telling grandmother Fae never knew existed, whose name and psychic abilities she now learns are also hers, issues a challenge from beyond the grave—a challenge that brings Fae face to face with murder, embezzlement, romance, and a hidden family legacy.

When the mystery of Fae’s past collides with the troubles of her present, the situation veers out of control. Her very life is threatened. Who can she trust? The man she’s falling in love with? The former fiancé who has already betrayed her once? Or only herself?

With justice, romance, and her future at stake, Fae must overcome personal and professional obstacles to save herself and those she loves. And she’s going to have to do it fast, before someone else dies.

Mother/daughter author duo HL Carpenter write family-friendly fiction from their studios in Carpenter Country, a magical place that, like their stories, is unreal but not untrue. When they’re not writing, they enjoy exploring the Land of What-If and practicing the fine art of Curiosity. Visit their website to enjoy gift reads and excerpts and to find out what’s happeni
ng in Carpenter Country.

Stay connected on Twitter, Pinterest, Linkedin, Google+, GoodReads,
and their Amazon Author Page.

Tasty Tuesdays–Mandarin Orange Spice Tea from Catherine Castle

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Welcome to Tasty Tuesdays!

 

In keeping with the Hot Tea Month theme, today I’d like to share a spiced tea recipe I developed.

Years ago, in the 60s, Tang—the orange juice of the astronauts—put out a spice tea recipe using Tang (a powdered orange juice drink) and instant tea. Instant tea was a favorite of my mother-in-law’s. She served it all the time. I can say with absolute certainty that instant tea isn’t my favorite cup of tea, but when the Tang spiced tea recipe came on the scene, it wasn’t bad. Probably the sweet, orangey flavor of Tang made the difference. Back then my husband and I drank Tang all the time because it was much cheaper than real orange juice and we were on a tight budget.

As the years have gone by, Tang, which is full of sugar and off my diet now, is no longer an option for spiced tea. So, I came up with this spiced tea flavored with mandarin orange juice and warm spices.

Here’s my by-the-cup recipe. It, too, goes great with cookies and a good book read beside the fireplace. If you need to cut the sugar, feel free to substitute an artificial sweetener, or leave it out if the real juice makes the tea sweet enough for you.

 

Mandarin Orange Spice Tea (by the cup) 

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 1 black tea bag
  • 3 mandarin oranges, juiced
  • 1/16th teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8th teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon sugar

Directions:

  • Place the tea bag in a cup and add boiling water.
  • Steep 3 minutes (or less for a weaker tea)
  • Remove tea bag and add the mandarin orange juice and spices.
  • Stir well to mix spices into the tea.
  • Grab a copy of Catherine Castle’s award-winning sweet romantic comedy A Groom for Mama, a blanket, and settle into your favorite reading spot for a great cup of tea and a great read.

A Groom for Mama

By Catherine Castle

Beverly Walters is dying, and before she goes she has one wish—to find a groom for her daughter. To get the deed done, Mama enlists the dating service of Jack Somerset, Allison’s former boyfriend.

The last thing corporate-climbing Allison wants is a husband. Furious with Mama’s meddling, and a bit more interested in Jack than she wants to admit, Allison agrees to the scheme as long as Mama promises to search for a cure for her terminal illness.

A cross-country trip from Nevada to Ohio ensues, with a string of disastrous dates along the way, as the trio hunts for treatment and A Groom for Mama.

You can find A Groom for Mama at Amazon and Barnes and Noble

About the Author:

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE, as well as placing in several other contests. Her sweet romantic comedy/drama A Groom for Mama, also from Soul Mate Publishing, is the recipient of the 2018 Raven Award.

Connect with Catherine at here on her blog or at:

Goodreads Twitter @AuthorCCastle or Facebook

 

Start the New Year with Tasty Tuesdays—Mountain Mist Tea recipe from Catherine Castle

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Tasty Tuesdays

Mountain Mist Tea recipe

from Catherine Castle

 

Hi, everyone! Happy New Year to you!

 

This year I’m starting the blog off with a new series called Tasty Tuesdays. On various Tuesdays I’ll be sharing recipes from my family’s recipe boxes and my original recipes. In addition to my recipes, I’ll have guest authors sharing their original recipes and recipes from the cookbooks and recipe boxes of their family and friends. You’ll also get a sneak peek at our books, so you’ll have something new to read with your cup of tea or whatever recipe you’ll discover on the blog this year. I hope you’ll follow us on this new blogging journey and discover some new recipes, books, and authors.

To kick off the blog I’m celebrating Hot Tea Month with a tea recipe. Did you know January is Hot Tea Month? There’s no better way to warm up on a chilly winter day or a cold rainy day than with a cup of hot tea, a cozy blanket, and a book. After all, who doesn’t love tea? I know I do.

Tea is one of the oldest drinks in the world. According to Chinese legend the discovery of tea dates back to 2737 B.C. when the Emperor Shen Nung was boiling water out in the open one day and the leaves of a tree fell into his pot and brewed, thus inventing tea. Over the centuries the Chinese developed the tea plant, Camellia Sinesis, and the tea ceremony surrounding the drinking of tea to such heights that at one point in history it was forbidden to export tea from China, which is probably why it took centuries for the drink to reach the rest of the world

The Portuguese were the first to bring tea to Europe. The Portuguese princess Catherine of Barganza brought tea to Britain in her royal dowry when she married Charles II in 1662. Tea had a rough start in England as coffee was well established. The clergy declared that tea, which had originated from a heathen country, was a sinful drink. Doctors claimed it was not good for one’s health, and brewers lobbied it for fear it would replace ale as a breakfast drink. The government decided they needed no better excuses for taxation, and so they laid a heavy tax on the foreign drink. The taxation on tea made it a drink of the wealthy until about 1784 when the taxation on tea was reduced and Britain became a nation of tea drinkers.

Today tea is a favorite drink across the world and comes in an array of flavors that is staggering.

My pantry is chock full of teas of all sorts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I tend to go on tea kicks and drink the same one for a while until I tire of it, then I start on a new box. Right now, I’m drinking Mrs. Patmore’s Pudding tea from Republic of Teas Downton Abbey collection, and pumpkin flavored and gingerbread flavored teas. Pumpkin-flavored creamer goes great with the last two, and while it’s seasonal I make sure I get my winter teas in.

To start off the new blog I’m sharing a recipe for Mountain Mist tea. Years ago I bought a box of tea called Mountain Mist and I fell in love with it. When I went to buy a new box of the tea I couldn’t find it anywhere. So I started experimenting with the basic teas listed on the box, using loose teas, and came up with this blend which was pretty close to the original.

Here’s the recipe. It will go great with those leftover Christmas cookies.

 

Mountain Mist Tea (by the cup)

 

Ingredients:

½ tsp. (rounded) loose peppermint tea

½ tsp. (rounded) loose alfalfa tea

½ tsp. (rounded) chamomile tea

Directions:

Place teas in a tea ball and put in a cup. Add boiling water. Steep for three minutes. Sweeten with honey or sweetener of your choice. Enjoy!

Note: I think when I originally made this I didn’t have loose teas on hand and had no alfalfa tea. I did have peppermint and chamomile in tea bags. So, I bought some alfalfa tea bags and tore them open, along with a bag of peppermint and chamomile, and started experimenting until I came up with the right blend.

How about you? Do you have a favorite hot tea?

 

The Nun and the Narc

Multi-award-winning book

By Catherine Castle

Where novice Sister Margaret Mary goes, trouble follows. When she barges into a drug deal the local Mexican drug lord captures her. To escape she must depend on undercover DEA agent Jed Bond. Jed’s attitude toward her is exasperating, but when she finds herself inexplicable attracted to him he becomes more dangerous than the men who have captured them, because he is making her doubt her decision to take her final vows. Escape back to the nunnery is imperative, but life at the convent, if she can still take her final vows, will never be the same.

Nuns shouldn’t look, talk, act, or kiss like Sister Margaret Mary O’Connor—at least that’s what Jed Bond thinks. She hampers his escape plans with her compulsiveness and compassion and in the process makes Jed question his own beliefs. After years of walling up his emotions in an attempt to become the best agent possible, Sister Margaret is crumbling Jed’s defenses and opening his heart. To lure her away from the church would be unforgivable—to lose her unbearable.

About the Author:

Multi-award-winning author Catherine Castle has been writing all her life. Before beginning her career as a romance writer she worked part-time as a freelance writer. She has over 600 articles and photographs to her credit, under her real name, in the Christian and secular market. Besides writing, Catherine loves traveling with her husband, singing, and attending theatre. In the winter she loves to quilt and has a lot of UFOs (unfinished objects) in her sewing case. In the summer her favorite place to be is in her garden. She’s passionate about gardening and even won a “Best Hillside Garden” award from the local gardening club.

Her debut inspiration romantic suspense, The Nun and the Narc, from Soul Mate Publishing was an ACFW Genesis Finalist, a 2014 EPIC finalist, and the winner of the 2014 Beverly Hills Book Award and the 2014 RONE, as well as placing in several other contests. Her sweet romantic comedy/drama A Groom for Mama, also from Soul Mate Publishing, is the recipient of the 2018 Raven Award.

Connect with Catherine at here on her blog or at:

Goodreads Twitter @AuthorCCastle or Facebook

 

 

Wednesday Writers–Hair Calamities and Hot Cash by Gail Pallotta

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Today Wednesday Writers welcomes award-winning author Gail Pallotta. Gail’s been a guest a number of times on the blog. Today she’ll be talking about her newest book, Hair Calamities and Hot Cash, which Cynthia Hickey, author of the Shady Acres Mystery series, has called “A comedic romp from small town to big city in search of missing money, hair catastrophes, and love. A truly fun read.” I have to say, Gail, I love this title and the concept of the book. So, without any further ado, I’ll turn the blog over to Gail so she can tell you about the story’s origins. Keep reading to the end for an excerpt from Hair Calamities and Hot Cash.

 

Thanks, Catherine.

My mother’s beauty shop in a small town at the foothills of the North Carolina Mountains inspired Hair Calamities and Hot Cash. Triville, the fictitious community, has a similar ambiance, but the book’s set at a higher elevation to include the breathtaking scenery.

Mother started her hairstylist career in a large North Carolina city in an upscale salon in a high-end department store with a formal atmosphere. However, when my father returned from World War II, he and Mother moved to the foothills of the North Carolina mountains.

In our garage turned beauty shop, she settled into her true calling—part hairdresser, part psychologist and friend. Chatter about dating, marriages, births and deaths echoed between the walls. Mother and her customers solved many a problem amid the mix of floral, sweet-smelling shampoo and caustic permanent solution, and the town was better off for it.

The folks who came there had their differences and disagreements, but they respected and accepted each other. They had best friends, acquaintances, folks they tolerated and others they kept at a distance. The customers caught up on the latest news and often gossiped about it, but when a crisis struck, prayers went up, casseroles went out and visitors poured to the home of the person in need.

I loved the care, concern and warmth the patrons had for one another and wanted to create such clientele in Hair Calamities and Hot Cash.

What happens when a New York stockbroker crashes his car into Eve Castleberry’s North Carolina beauty shop…on the same day the young widow’s defective hair products are causing wild hairdos?

Soon Eve finds herself helping the handsome stranger hunt the thieves who stole his client’s cash…and hot on the trail of two of the F.B.I.’s most-wanted criminals! Romance blossoms amid danger, suspense and Eve’s hair-brained plan to get back the money.

Philip eats so well as a visitor to Triville, N.C., he wonders if he’s gained weight. Eve suggests they stop by the general store and check it out on the scale there. An excerpt follows:

♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Hair Calamities and Hot Cash

by Gail Pallotta

Excerpt:

The scale, which sat in a nook beside the counter for filling prescriptions, resembled those in doctors’ offices except the weight unit across the top beam was much larger.

Eve motioned toward it. “Here we are. Hop up there.”

Philip stood on the scale and moved the weight. Three hundred and fifty pounds. Was this thing defective? He must have done something wrong. He pushed the weight to the end and started over. Three hundred fifty pounds. “No way. I couldn’t have gained that much.”

Eve snickered.

He turned around and caught her an instant before she eased off. “I don’t believe you did that.”

She laughed out loud. She was full of fun.

Philip pulled her close, brushed the hair from her face and kissed her.

A door squeaked and Frank burst out of the storeroom. “Eve Castleberry, the two of you will have to find another place to…” He waved his large hand in their direction. “I’m going to lock up.”

Heat crawled up Philip’s neck. He felt like a kid who’d pulled a prank at church and gotten caught by the preacher.

Eve wiggled free and pointed her finger at him. “You’re not supposed to be doing that anywhere, and certainly not in public. Frank, we were just…”

Frank laughed. “Oh, yeah, I see you were. As far as I’m concerned, it’s about time, but not here.”

Eve sputtered as bad as the ornery car. “No Frank, we were, were…we came for Philip to weigh.”

Frank tapped his foot and stared at them with a twinkle in his green eyes as though he enjoyed embarrassing Eve.

Eve tilted up her chin. “Have you met Philip?”

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Want to read more? You can find Hair Calamities and Hot Cash on Amazon

 

About the Author:

Award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. A former Grace Awards Finalist and a Reader’s Favorite 2017 Book Award winner, she’s published five books, poems, short stories and two-hundred articles. Some of her articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums.

Social media links: Website http://gailpallotta.com  Blog  Facebook

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Writers—Until I Met You Interview by Kimberly Rose Johnson

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Today’s Wednesday Writers’ guest is Kimberly Rose Johnson. Kimberly is no stranger to Wednesday Writers, and I’m glad to have her back today talking about the Christmas collection A Christmas to Remember she’s put together just in time for the holidays, and specifically her novella Until I Met You. Welcome back, Kimberly!

 

 

 Thanks, Catherine.

In early 2018 I decided that I wanted to put together a Christmas collection so I posed the idea to several authors and all the spots were quickly taken. A Christmas to Remember has a total of eight Christmas novellas. My contribution to the collection is Until I Met You.

Until I Met You is the prequel to my Brides of Seattle series. There are two books that follow this one. As I wrote The Reluctant Groom (book 1) I realized Brandi needed her own book. Brandi is the best friend of the heroine in The Reluctant Groom.

Writing a prequel was quite a different experience since I had to back up and create the beginning of her love story. It was a fun process because when I wrote her in book one I hadn’t thought about how her romance how it had come about, I only knew the part of her backstory that related to Katie, the heroine in book one.

I thought it’d be fun to interview Brandi here.

 

Kimberly: Thanks for joining us today, Brandi. When you first met Ian you were taking a break from dating. What prompted you to do that?

Brandi: It seemed to me that I was always in a relationship—not that I bounced around from boyfriend to boyfriend, but for the most part I was the other half of a couple. Somewhere along the way I lost who I was and my relationship with the Lord had suffered. One of my small group leaders suggested I take a six-month hiatus from dating and spend that time digging into the Bible and getting to know God and myself again. It sounded like a great idea until I met Ian.

Kimberly: The two of you had an interesting meet cute.

Brandi: Yes. I for one will never forget it.

Kimberly: Speaking of your meet cute, I like to share it with the readers here today, if that’s okay with you.

Brandi: Sure.

Kimberly: Thanks, for taking the time to visit with us Brandi. Without further adieu here is the meet cute for Brandi and Ian.

Excerpt from Until I Met You

by Kimberly Rose Johnson

Early Saturday morning, Brandi Prescott held her latte in one hand and opened the door to leave her favorite coffee shop in the Green Lake neighborhood of Seattle. She raised her hood and tightened the belt of her trench coat as rain pounded the ground.

“Bring it on.” She tilted her head and spoke to the black cloud overhead. Nothing was going to ruin her good mood. It might be a dreary fall day, but it was the weekend, and she planned to spend it reading beside a cozy fire in her apartment a few blocks away.

She walked to the crosswalk and frowned at the huge puddle of water blocking her path. How had it rained that much in such a short time? When she’d crossed the street, ten minutes ago, it had been fine. No way could she use the crosswalk without soaking her feet. She should have worn rubber boots instead of sneakers.

A vehicle careened through the yellow light. “Oh no!” She ducked her head as a wave of water splashed over her, knocking her latte from her hand. She balled her fists at her sides and glared after the red SUV.

“Of all the nerve!” She wiped water from her face, which had managed to get her even though she’d ducked her head.

The car braked and pulled into a parking spot. A man with dark hair hopped out. He jogged toward her. “Are you okay? I didn’t notice the standing water until it was too late.”

She squared her shoulders and raised her chin. “My coffee is ruined, and I’m soaked. Otherwise, I’m fine.” She bent down and picked up the paper cup and the plastic lid that had popped off.

“I’m really sorry. Let me get you a new one.”

She studied the man a moment. His neatly trimmed beard and mustache framed a young face with kind brown eyes. “That would be nice. Thank you.”

“It’s the least I can do, considering I nearly drowned you.”

She chuckled. “Well, I don’t know if I’d go that far. My coat did a pretty good job of keeping me dry.”

He raised a brow. “Come on. Let’s get out of the rain.” He walked toward the coffee shop and pulled open the door. “After you.”

I hope you enjoyed the excerpt! You can pick this book up on Amazon for only 99¢ until December 30th. The collection will no longer be available after that time. Here is the link to A Christmas to Remember.

Until I Met You

Graphic designer, Brandi Prescott hopes to work her way to the top at the Seattle ad agency where she’s employed. She’s dedicated and distraction-free since she’s taking a hiatus from men to focus on her relationship with the Lord and get to know herself without the influence of another person.

 Software engineer Ian Parker is in a good place. He loves his job, his social life and the direction his life is going. At least that is the case until one fateful rainy morning when he inadvertently drenches a woman standing on a street corner. He pulls over to apologize and is intrigued. The only problem is, she won’t go out with him because she made a pledge to not date for six months.

 Brandi’s six-month pledge ends on Christmas. Will Ian wait or will his scheming to get to know her destroy what might have been?

 

About the Author:

Award winning author Kimberly Rose Johnson married her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest. From a young child Kimberly has been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing. She especially loves romance and writes contemporary romance that warms the heart and feeds the soul.

Kimberly holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

Connect with Kimberly at Kimberly’s Website: Facebook: Twitter

 

Wednesday Writers–On Angels’ Wings by Ginger Solomon

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Today’s Wednesday writers’ guest is Ginger Solomon. Ginger’s been a guest before and today she’ll be sharing about her Christmas story On Angels’ Wings, which is part of the Christmas Collection The Heart of Christmas. Welcome, Ginger!

 

The First Holiday Season Without a Loved One

By Ginger Solomon

 

It’s always the hardest. You keep thinking that your loved one—whether a parent, sibling, or a spouse—would enjoy hearing about _________ (fill in the blank). You may even pick up the phone to call. And then the grief fills you all over again.

I’ve been there—a couple times. Both of my parents and one of my siblings have passed. Sadly, I wasn’t close to either of them, so my grief was not as great as it could have been, but I still felt their loss. I still missed their presence.

As does my character in my latest release, On Angels’ Wings. Jenna lost her twin sister and both of her parents in a freak car accident and will spend her first holiday season alone. Or so she thinks.

But her former neighbor—a woman who was like a second mother to her as she grew up—invites her to Thanksgiving dinner and won’t take no for an answer. She even sends her son, Thomas, to make sure Jenna comes.

Jenna isn’t sure she wants to spend so much time in Thomas’s presence. After all, the crush she had on him when she was a teen never quite went away, which she realizes the moment he walks into her bakery.

Thomas makes it his goal to give Jenna something else to think about besides missing her family. He doesn’t want her to forget her grief; he wants to help her through and to make her smile. And maybe a little more. With him.

Grief feels less burdensome when shared. Words are meaningless when a person grieves. Action, even just sitting with someone, means so much more. When my mother died, my sixth child was four days old. Friends and family congregated around me. They loved on me. Sometimes all they did was hold my baby while I cried. And that was enough.

Thomas came alongside Jenna, helped her decorate for Christmas, made her relax outside of her work, and took her mind off her problems by sharing his own.

As Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up! Again, if two lie together, they keep warm, but how can one keep warm alone? And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him—a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”(ESV)

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On Angels’ Wings

by Ginger Solomon

Bakery owner, Jenna Wing prepares to spend Thanksgiving alone—her first without her family. When her former neighbor, Thomas Hayes, invites her to dinner, she finds that she can’t say no. Their previous friendship turns to something more, but Thomas’s family issues threatens their new-found relationship.

The Heart of Christmas Collection

Announcing five new stories filled with faith, hope, forgiveness, and of course happily-ever-afters. Each story focuses on an element of the Nativity, from the angels to the wise men. Be swept up in the love of the season and the promise of forever that the Christ child, the true Heart of Christmas, brings.

 

Excerpt: from On Angels’ Wings

(scene with Jenna and Thomas)

He sat at the table across from her—the only other seat available in her small kitchen. “Tell me what you were thinking in the cafe.”

Jenna inhaled the steam from her tea cup and then took a sip. “I miss them. Mostly I miss Keira.”

“Understandable. I’ve heard twins have an uncanny connection to each other.”

“We did, but more than that, she was my best friend. We were so excited to …” Fresh tears cascaded down her face. “She couldn’t wait to marry Titus. It made me happy to see her so happy. And seeing Titus today … it was hard. I’m sure the reverse is also true. He doesn’t seem to be doing well.”

“He’s not. He gets up and goes to work, and then comes home and watches TV or plays video games. His church attendance is nil. He’s angry with God for taking Keira from him.”

A small smile crossed her lips. “Yeah. I wanted to blame God, too, but God didn’t take my family. A truckload of poorly strapped logs did. Could God have stopped it? Yeah. Could He have made it so they weren’t in that space at that time? Yeah, He could have. I may never understand why things happened the way they did, but my job is not to understand His ways. My job is to trust Him even when I don’t. But it’s so hard.”

“Wow. I feel humbled. I’ve taken a few minutes of my time to rant at God about how unfair life is. You put me to shame.”

She rested her hand on his for a millisecond before blushing and pulling it back. “Don’t feel bad. I’ve had my moments. Just a few minutes ago, actually. I didn’t rant, but I did ask why. A simple heartfelt question that will probably not get answered. But something Mom taught us from a young age has helped. Life isn’t fair. No one ever said it would be. God has promised that we will go through trials, but He also promised to always be with us. I’m not going to stop trusting Him just because my life isn’t going exactly as I planned. The Psalms are full of David’s anger and questions, but God still called him a man after His own heart. Why? Because David admonished himself to remember who God is, and then he turned his anger into praise. God can and will give me ‘joyous blessing instead of mourning’ and ‘festive praise instead of despair.’ And in the meantime, I’m praising Him for the time I had with my family.”

“I came here to comfort you. Instead, I am comforted by your faith. I’m … words fail me.”

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Want to read more? You can find Ginger’s book here

About the Author

Ginger Solomon is a Christian, a wife, a mother to seven, and a writer—in that order (mostly). She writes or reads inspirational romance of any genre, and if she’s busy homeschooling, doing laundry, or fixing dinner, books are on her mind. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, president of her local writing group, and blogs regularly for InspyRomance.com and at gingersolomon.com.

Social Media:  Website  Facebook Author Page  Twitter @GingerS219

 

 

 

Wednesday Writers–When the Geese Fly North by Tracey L. Dragon

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Today’s Wednesday Writers’ guest is Tracey L. Dragon. Tracey will be sharing her dual-time romance When The Geese Fly North – Book 2 of her Return to the Home Front Series. She’s also sharing an excerpt, so be sure to read to bottom of the post. Welcome, Tracey!

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks, Catherine,

When the Geese Fly North is Book 2 of my Return to the Home Front Series. Like my novel Cherished Wings – Book 1 (Fran’s story), When the Geese Fly North is a dual time romance that begins in the present but weaves in and out of the past. When the Geese Fly North returns you to the town of Albion, NY during the late 1940’s where you will once again meet the characters from Cherished Wings. This time it’s is Amy’s story being told.

After I finished writing my novel Cherished Wings which was inspired by my own mother’s story and the pair of Navy wings she’d kept hidden in her dresser drawer, I discovered that I liked Amy Lake, a secondary character in the book so well that I thought she deserved a story of her own, and thus, When The Geese Fly North was created.

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When The Geese Fly North

By Tracey L. Dragon

Callie Baldwin, former Army nurse suffering with PTSD from her tour in Afghanistan, takes on a safe, low-key, nursing job caring for Will and Amy Henderson, an elderly couple who are long-time friends of the family. The only fly in the ointment is their annoying grandson, Dr. Michael Henderson, who manages to get under her skin during his weekly visits.

In an attempt to help Callie come to terms with her war experience, Will and Amy share their poignant love story that began in 1948 when Will, an emotionally and physically scarred Marine, takes on the job of farmhand for a newly divorced and bitter Amy. As the story unfolds, its beauty and richness transforms Callie as she learns the healing power of love.

 

Excerpt:

March 1948

Now that Amy could see Mr. Henderson in the broad daylight, she trembled inwardly at his visage, not in fright but more with curious fascination. Beside the fact he stood a good foot taller than her, and outweighed her by a hundred pounds, there was something in the depth of his eyes—a deeply held pain maybe, but she wasn’t sure. His lids briefly shuttered and when he opened them again the dark emotion was gone, and an amiable expression spread across his face.

“How’s the head this morning?”

Amy felt her cheeks flush with heat. She tucked her head, embarrassed. “Not good and I have you to thank for it.”

Will chuckled. “Sorry little lady, don’t think I should shoulder the brunt of the blame. All I did was pay for what you ordered.”

“And that’s the point.” She jabbed her finger at him. “If you hadn’t been buying, I wouldn’t have drunk quite as much. I couldn’t have afforded to.” She bit down on her tongue, wishing she’d kept that tidbit to herself. She had some pride after all. Irked that she’d admitted her precarious financial position to a mere stranger, she proceeded to cram the rest of her foot in her mouth. “If you hadn’t been plying me with drinks all evening, I wouldn’t have needed a ride home, and hence, I wouldn’t be forced to drive you back to Albion this morning, now would I?”

Will’s steady gaze locked with hers then shifted back toward the road. His lips pursed as if he were pondering her choice of words then he gave her a curt nod and limped off the porch.

Amy stepped back into the house and slammed the door behind her. Fine, she thought with a pout. He could go sit in the truck until she was ready to leave. She closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose, horrified at her own rudeness to a man who’d been nothing but kind, an injured Marine to boot. Geez, what next? Kick a puppy while it’s down. She couldn’t have been any ruder if she tried. Her mother would be ashamed. What on earth had come over her? Just because she was bitter about Rob, didn’t mean she needed to take it out on the rest of mankind.

She glanced at the clock. If she didn’t hurry she’d be late for work two days in a row. She only had fifteen minutes to spare before she needed to leave. The dang man would have to wait a little longer.

 

Want to read more? You can find Tracey’s book at Amazon. Warning to readers of sweet, clean romance: this novel contains some mild language.

 

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About the Author:

Tracey L. Dragon is a relocated New Yorker, former Navy wife, and retired educator who now lives in Florida with her husband. After seven military moves, raising two Navy brats, and twenty years teaching troubled youth, she is now able to put her full attention to publishing the children’s stories and romance novels she’s written over the years. She’s a member of Romance Writers of America and Florida Writers Association.

Look for Tracey on social media at http://traceyldragon.com/  and  https://facebook.com/traceyldragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday Wedding Tales–Restoring Love at Christmastime by Bonnie Engstrom

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Welcome to Tuesday Wedding Tales blog series,

where wedding-themed stories are the fare.

Bonnie Engstrom is today’s guest,

and she’ll be sharing about her story Restoring Love at Christmastime

The Story Within the Story of Restoring Love at Christmastime

 

The old hotel in Restoring Love at Christmastime is, or rather was, real. The inn was filled with childhood memories for me that were fun to recreate and bring up to date. The day before I was scheduled to send the story to my publisher I decided to revisit a few facts online. I was shocked to learn the historic inn had burned to the ground three days before. I was devastated and indecisive. Should I publish the story that featured the hotel as the background for love? I decided to go ahead. It would be a tribute to the rickety old building that had housed guests for over one hundred years.

My many summer visits to Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania had special memories of trail rides on handsome Traveler. Yes, the Traveler in the story is a tribute to a gorgeous chestnut-colored steed, the first horse I’d ever ridden. Jenni stands on the impressive wraparound veranda and borrows books from the hotel’s library – both authentic memories. That’s as far as genuine memory went. I had never seen snow there, but I do have a vague memory of ancient bathroom fixtures, old even fifty years ago.

My publisher retitled the book to add at Christmastime when we both latently remembered the story takes place during the holiday. A colorful new cover adorns it. Just before the new title was revealed the book won a 5 Star Readers Favorite Award. It was a fun story to write, especially the teasing banter between Jenni and Jake and how their old friendship grows. I almost forgot . . . readers will meet a skunk, an owl and a preying hawk. Trail rides can be interesting.

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Restoring Love at Christmastime

By Bonnie Engstrom

Why was Jenni taking this journey back in time during the Christmas holidays? Surely, Jenni didn’t expect to see Jake the stable boy. She had moved on from sneaking kisses in the barn after trail rides. He must have, too. Who on earth would stay in the tiny town of Cambridge Springs?

She planned for a respite from teaching, time to read, take quiet walks and indulge in delicious hotel meals. At least no one knew where to find her, none of her friends, and not even her family.

The internet site for Pleasant Springs Hotel highlighted an annual holiday production of A Christmas Carol that guests sometimes played parts in. That sounded like fun, maybe a minor way to fulfil a fanciful dream, if only for a few minutes. Hopefully some handsome guest would play Scrooge.

Odd the name of the historic hotel had changed. Who would have done that? Maybe new owners. She hoped the rooms were still filled with antique furniture. She wanted to soak up memories, alone. Unless by a Christmas miracle Jake was still there to share them.

Can romance still flourish after fifteen years? Will a teacher and a former stable boy remember their first kiss?

 

Excerpt:

They raised their heads, and their eyes met – brown and blue. Both sets of lips grinned and they dug in. Jenni was glad the kitchen had included a large spoon for her to twirl her pasta on. Her Italian friend Corentina had taught her that when she was growing up. It seemed more civilized than sucking the strands into one’s mouth.

Jake watched her with curiosity. “You always eat spaghetti that way?”

“Yes. It’s the proper way to eat long pasta. You don’t?”

“Naw. I just chop it up.” He proceeded to do so, almost mashing it. He shoved a big forkful in his mouth.

“But, that takes the fun out of it. And, it’s easy to twirl.” She demonstrated. “See!”

“Oh, boy! You gonna make an issue of how I eat?” He put his fork down and glared at her. “If there is any future for our relationship, we shouldn’t squabble over eating habits.”

Squabble? Future? What was he insinuating?

Want to read more? Restoring Love at Christmastime is available in eBook and print at https://amzn.to/2OtSRoW.

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About the Author:

Bonnie Engstrom is a multi-published author who mostly writes romances. She has published fourteen books and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America and Christian Writers of the West.

She and her Ph.D. psychologist husband, Dave, reside in Arizona near four of their six grandchildren. The other two live in Costa Rica on the beach with their father who surfs every day and has taught the boys to surf and skateboard since they were toddlers. Pura Vida!

Bonnie spends a lot of her time, when not writing, helping with the four Arizona grandkids. Dave is a full-time faculty member and faculty advisor at the University of Phoenix, as well as a psychologist at Honor Health Medical Center, Scottsdale, Arizona.

They have been a team for fifty-three years.

Please visit Bonnie at her website to see the grandchildren and figure out who the surfing ones are. Fun fact: The little red-head imp recently got baptized with her.

Follow her on Twitter at @BonnieEngstrom1 and on Facebook

Email her at bengstrom@hotmail.com. Please put BOOK in the subject line so your post doesn’t fly off into cyberspace.

She loves to hear from her readers, and reviews are a special way to say you liked her books.