Welcome to my little bit of cyber-space. It is my prayer that all who enter here may be richly blessed by the God of all grace. All praise to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Guest blog by author, Ann Gabhart and Christmas giveaway

Before you read the guestblog article by Ann Gabhart below, I want to remind you to leave a comment on this post and on yesterday's post where I did a review of this great book if you want to be entered into the drawing for a chance to win a copy. Drawing to be held next Sunday, Dec. 8th to US mailing addresses only, so make sure to leave an email or other way to contact you if you are the winner.

Seeking the Christmas Story Spirit by Ann H. Gabhart

Even before Halloween ghosts glide out of sight down Trick or Treat Street, Christmas decorations start popping up in the stores. By Thanksgiving, the ads with shopping reminders and gift hints are tattered with age. But the spirit of Christmas is always fresh in the new Christmas novellas that hit the stores this time of year.

There have always been Christmas stories from that very first Christmas story set in a Bethlehem stable, now read millions of times. Perhaps we love Christmas stories so much because of how we want to embrace the true meaning and spirit of Christmas even as we scurry around doing all the busy things we must do at Christmas time.

I had never considered writing a Christmas story. So when, several years ago, my editor suggested I write a Shaker Christmas book, I had no idea if I would be able to do that or not. My agent told me to just make it like a Hallmark movie. Sweet. Gentle. With a touching love story. Right there, I was in trouble since if you know anything about the Shakers, you know they didn’t abide romantic love among their members. Once again, as with my other Shaker stories, I had to find a way to slip my love story in the back way of my Shaker village. I went a little farther with this story and slipped in a heroine who is with child.

My research into how the Shakers celebrated Christmas in the 1860’s opened up more story ideas. Every year shortly before Christmas, the Shakers observed a day of atonement they called Sacrifice Day. On this day, they were to leave behind any grudges, hard feelings and disaffection toward their brothers or sisters. They were to ask forgiveness from those they had wronged and from the Lord. Anything that was settled on Sacrifice Day could never again be brought forward against anyone in their family of believers. They were also to offer forgiveness fully and completely to those they felt had done harm against them. All this fit in with my story’s theme of forgiveness. 

Somewhere along the way as I was writing, I must have mislaid my agent’s advice. I doubt readers would classify Christmas at Harmony Hill as sweet or gentle. I’d be pleased if they found the love story touching, and I do hope my heroine looking forward to the birth of her baby and thinking about how Mary might have had similar feelings awaiting the birth of Jesus gives the story an underlying Christmas theme.  

Still, Christmas at Harmony Hill is more historical novel than the usual Christmas novella. The story’s set in December 1864 with the Civil War drawing to a close. Gideon is still fighting for the Union Army while Heather returns home to have their baby. When she finds no welcome at her father’s house, she seeks shelter in the Shaker village where her aunt Sophrena, the Shaker journalist in The Gifted, has lived for many years. Sister Sophrena is ready to help Heather even as she is beginning to doubt her own Shaker walk. And so Christmas comes to Harmony Hill.

Do you read Christmas stories? What do you like best about them? Do you only read them at Christmas time or are you willing to read them any time of the year? One reader told me she liked to read them in July, that it kept her cool.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and much joy in the coming year!

Displaying perryville 005.JPGANN H. GABHART, the author of several bestselling novels, has been called a storyteller, not a bad thing for somebody who never wanted to do anything but write down stories. She’s published twenty-six novels for adults and young adults with more stories on the way. She keeps her keyboard warm out on a farm in Kentucky where she lives with her husband, Darrell. They have three children, three in-law children, and nine grandchildren. To find out more about Ann or her books visit www.annhgabhart.com. Check out her blog, One Writer’s Journal, www.annhgabhart.blogspot.com or follow her on Facebook, www.facebook.com/AnnGabhart , Twitter, https://twitter.com/AnnHGabhart , or Pinterest, http://pinterest.com/annhgabhart/.   

Friday, November 29, 2013

Book Review--Christmas at Harmony Hill by Ann Gabhart and giveaway

Displaying 9781441244413.jpgBook Review of Christmas at Harmony Hill by Ann Gabhart

 Gabhart's Christmas Shaker story is quite different from her other Shaker books. It is a romance, but it is of the love of a married couple separated by the Civil War. As I read, I thought how apropos this story is this Christmas season while we have so many service men and women separated from their loved ones. My husband served in Thailand twice during his Air Force days, and both times he was gone at Christmas, so I could identify with this young woman even more.

Heather Worth had traveled with her husband as a washerwoman for the first part of his time in the Union Army, but after growing big with their child, they both agreed the battlefield was not a place for a pregnant woman or a baby, so she would go back to Kentucky so her mother could help with the delivery. But, when Heather returns, all is not how she left it, and she ends up at Harmony Hill, a Shaker Village in central Kentucky, where she awaits the birth of her baby, and the return of her husband. Both take longer than she had hoped.

She is attended by the Shaker doctor and a woman who was her mother's aunt before joining the Shaker village. This aunt, Sophrena, is a minor character in some of the other Shaker books by this author, but you do not have to have read them to follow the story in this book, although I do recommend reading them for your own enjoyment! She has a more major role in this book, and helps everything to come to a satisfying ending for most of the characters.

While Heather is at Harmony Hill, Gideon is marching all over the Southern states, fighting while trying to stay alive to return to his wife and soon-to-be-born child. Will he survive and make it home? While Heather is praying for his safe return, he wonders if his wife will survive childbirth, and will they both live to reunite once more. You'll have to read the book to find out if they do.

And if you leave a comment today on this post and/or tomorrow on a guest post from Ann Gabhart, you will be entered into a drawing for a copy of this book. Drawing to be held the following Sunday, December 8, so I can mail it to you to read before Christmas! US mailing addresses only, so make sure to leave an email or other way to contact you if you are the winner.

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Review of Winter in Full Bloom by Anita Higman

I'm back from a 4 day retreat and on its heels, the birth of a new grandson. Both wonderful events, but I feel like I am still catching up on writerly things like posting on my blog. One of the books I read while in the hospital waiting room was Anita Higman's delightful new novel--Winter in Full Bloom, so I wanted to share this review in hopes you will want to read it too!

Australia is a place my husband would like to explore someday, and after reading this book which begins in Melbourne, I want to go, too! The descriptions of this city and other close-by places in the Down Under are very well done. And I enjoyed learning a little of the Aussie slang for certain words. But, the main attraction of this book is the marvelous story and its unique characters.

The whole story is told in the first person point of view of widow Lily Winters who goes to Melbourne to find her identical twin sister she only recently learned about. What struck me as I leafed through the pages to do this review is how well the author handled the whole story in only Lily's POV, but still made me feel like I knew the other two main characters--the sister, Camille, and Lily's love interest, Marcus Averill--as well as I did Lily. I don't read a lot of first person novels, but would definitely want to read another one by this author. Superb job of writing!

There are also Lily's daughter and Lily's mother and a few other characters. Her mother is so set in her destructive ways, that you know only a miracle can change her, and like many miracles, it is not the way we expect it to happen.

I don't want to give away any of the surprises which bring us to such a satisfying ending, but if you love romance and its happily ever after ending after lots of twists and turns, then I highly recommend this book.

Although it was a gift to review, all opinions are my own.