Dreaming of a Carolina Christmas #newrelease #anaiahpress #countdowntochristmas

Meg Bryson isn’t exactly proud of how’s she’s spent the last year and a half – or the two-inch scar across her chin. So when she’s commissioned to paint a mural for a retirement home, she jumps at the chance to get away for a while. There’s just one problem… she has to face her sister and the pain of her past.

But when the reunion with her sister goes much differently than she anticipated, she quickly settles into a new routine. Surrounded by a slew of new friends, including an exceptionally skittish stray dog who eventually chooses her as his new owner, she’s forced to deal with an arrogant, unfriendly veterinarian. But if she’s learned anything from the past, she knows that appearances can be deceiving. Could she be mistaken about Heath Campbell? On a very special Christmas night, she finds the gift of God’s mercy and grace was meant for her, scars and all.

Happy Thanksgiving week, Michelle! Congrats on your latest release, Carolina Christmas.

Tell us how your characters celebrate the holidays

            Meg and Dr. Heath Campbell spend their first date at Christmas on Fayetteville Street. For this festive celebration, the streets of downtown Asheboro, North Carolina are closed off and the small specialty shops open their doors to shoppers. There are carolers, Christmas choirs, all to be enjoyed with warm apple cider, hot chocolate, even roasted chestnuts! This is a real event in Asheboro where I live, but the celebration is called Christmas on Sunset. I changed a few details and the street name for my story.

Does you hero have a favorite Christmas carol or movie? Does your heroine?

            Meg enjoys listening to the hand bell choir so much on her date with Heath that she stops by the church office to buy a CD for her very special assistant in painting the mural, an elderly woman named Nancy.

What is the theme of this book? If it’s part of a series, how does this book fit into the series?

            The theme for CAROLINA CHRISTMAS is one of accepting God’s grace and moving beyond our mistakes.

Why do you write this genre?

            I actually love reading historical romances, but writing contemporary and inspirational fiction came naturally for me. I write in memory of my mom, who was my biggest fan, and I find writing inspirational romance therapeutic, as I can usually learn and reflect from the Bible verses I choose to incorporate in my writing.

Any tips to share with fellow authors/aspiring authors?

            Write every day or as often as you can. This tip may sound generic, but I do find writing a little every day helps me stay in a creative mindset. I may not always use what I write, but practice makes perfect! The more I write, the more improvement I see in my story-telling.

What is your favorite Christmas memory?

            My favorite Christmas memory is baking Christmas cookies with my mom. She always made the holidays special, and I can still picture our living room and the stereo where she played The Living Voices Christmas album. I have the actual LP album with blue Christmas trees on the cover, and I treasure these nostalgic Christmas songs. The album is tucked away safely in storage, but a few years ago I was able to save the album on my music app, and I play it during the holidays for my family. Baking Christmas cookies with my son is a new favorite memory!

Finally! Real Christmas tree? Or fake?

            Definitely real! Picking out a live tree is so much fun! We have used fake trees often, however, and we at least get a real pine wreath. Nothing says Christmas quite like the scent of a real pine Christmas tree!

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Second Chances and Homecomings–what the Home to Harmony series has meant to me

When I first started writing the Home to Harmony series, I knew I wanted each book to stand on its own and compliment the others in the series. I came up with the idea of following a group of friends and a cousin and having each book happen in a different season.

BUT!

Originally, I thought I’d end the series with Zoey and Noah’s story until it occurred to me–Hannah’s story is actually a full circle to the start of book 1.

Spoiler alert: in Her Hometown Dream, Amy learns she has family she has never met. Growing up in a very small community and tight-knit family, the news is shocking. When she realizes her best friend Hannah may be keeping a similar secret, Amy encourages Hannah to be truthful.

What Amy doesn’t know, however, is that Hannah has tried and can’t make amends.

Until Hannah films a TV commercial while participating in the Christmas in July launch in Book 2 and sets the stage for a reckoning…

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I’m a plotter. I like to spend time working on an outline for a story so when I’m in active writing mode I always know what comes next. AND–I know this is shocking to some–if I’m working on a series, I need completed first drafts of every book before I approach a publisher. Why?

Interconnectivity.

Only after I’ve written everything, can I see how the stories intersect and make each other richer.

This is where having an idea of every story is so important. What would make a TV star return when he hasn’t been home in almost a decade? Why now? A national TV campaign that shows him something shocking.

Also–the little girls.

If I had placed Hannah’s story second, I don’t know that Isla and Olivia’s friendship in book 3 would have been as important and vital to the books (to the characters, yes, but to readers? ).

Home to Harmony is a series about faith, family, and forgiveness. It’s about all kinds of second chances. It’s about coming home–even when home might mean an entirely new place.

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Publishing with Anaiah Press has felt like coming home. And working with the team has been an absolute pleasure. I’m hoping to work with them on future endeavors (although–at the moment–I’m working on a cowboy trilogy! more info coming soon). Their support throughout each book has been invaluable.

I mentioned my process before–knowing how everything will work first and then publishing. This can mean I need a lot of time. My editor at Anaiah Press, Kara Leigh Miller, has been nothing but patient and encouraging. I wish for every author to have such a supportive editor.

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I hope you enjoy the entire series. Happy reading!

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Christmas Confusion #anaiahpress #holidayromance #countdowntochristmas

When Tiffany Marano’s high school sweetheart drove off to join the Marines and never looked back, she swore off men. Now, she’s content to teach at Summer Creek, South Carolina’s local elementary school, lead a Sunday school class, and spend weekends with her niece—until Nick Walsh suddenly reappears wearing a wedding ring and with a daughter in tow. Everything about Tiffany’s calm, quiet life is now one disordered mess.

Nick Walsh comes face to face with Tiffany after all these years, and sparks fly. But not the happy glittering kind, because each of them thinks the other responsible for their estrangement. Before they can work it out, though, Tiffany’s sister disappears. Left with custody of her niece and forced to work with new police detective Nick to find her sister, old feelings begin to resurface. As they start to unravel the truths that left them confused and apart for too long, Nick must learn to let go of his past. But can Tiffany let go of her fear and learn to trust that God isn’t the only one who won’t abandon her? 

Available on Amazon

Welcome, Christina!

Tell us how your characters celebrate the holidays

Tiffany and Nick would first attend the Christmas Eve service at Grace Church and then head back home to baked penne, salad, bread, and dessert—got to have dessert. On Christmas Eve, dessert would be sugar cookies decorated by Elloree, his daughter. Christmas day would be spent opening gifts just the three of them in the morning, and then bouncing from house to house for Christmas dinner.

The day after Christmas, they recover from their food comas and just play board games and relax.

Does your hero have a favorite Christmas carol or movie? Does your heroine?

Nick swears that Die Hard is a Christmas movie and that’s his favorite. Tiffany loves “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

What is the theme of this book? If it’s part of a series, how does this book fit into the series?

The theme of this book is trusting in God, despite our fears. This is part of a series, and I think the overriding theme is turning to God—whether we are afraid or in need of forgiveness.

Why do you write this genre? What inspired this story? Do you write any other genres?

I write contemporary Christian romance. I love this genre because I want to share the salvation story in the here-and-now. This story was inspired by a young lady in my church—I wanted to give her fictional counterpart a happy-ever-after. Funny thing is, I had no idea but her prom date had the same name as my hero and the real life Nick also left her to join the military. The real-life Tiffany moved on, but the fictional heroine never did.

I haven’t published in any other genre, but I would love to do so—historical romance is another favorite.

Any tips to share with fellow authors/aspiring authors? What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?

I believe we should never stop learning—I’ve been attending writing workshops and critique groups for decades. The best advice I’ve ever heard is that each of us has her own journey—don’t ever compare.

What is your favorite Christmas tradition and/or memory?

My favorite Christmas tradition is attending Christmas Eve service at church and lighting those little stubby candles and singing “Silent Night.” There is something magical about the church lights going down and the congregation’s voices rising up.

Finally! Answer for either yourself or your characters: Real Christmas tree? Or fake?

You might hate me for this, but for me personally, both. We have a real tree in the family room every year that we decorate with all the personal ornaments. In the front room, now my office, we place an artificial tree that has a seashell theme. So, the best of both worlds for me!

Thank you for sharing and I hope you have a wonderful, joyful Christmas!

Want to learn more about Christina? Connect with her on social media