Unwrapping a Novella

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! A couple words about the weather: Hot. Dry.

I’m not complaining, but rejoicing that our A/C unit is working. I do love Fall, so it will be missed. 🙂

It’s hard for me to admit, but I’m kind of a scrooge when it comes to Christmas. I love some things about the season itself, but honestly, I like Christmas to occur in December. What makes it such a special season (to me) becomes not so special when it goes on for months, or even all year.

But, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Sandra Ardoin’s Christmas novella, Unwrapping Hope. It was not over-the-top Christmas-y, but I definitely absorbed the feel of the season as I read. Ardoin’s historical fiction is authentic, drawing the reader into the era, as well as the season.

The main character, Phoebe Crain, lives under a dark cloud of pain and mystery. Even the reader doesn’t know her past until it surfaces near the end. Phoebe is flawed, but I came to appreciate her strength as she casts her pride to the wind in order to make Christmas special for her daughter.

I like flawed characters. I enjoy reading a story that brings their deepest flaws to the surface, but doesn’t heal the flaws or even make them go away. A well-told story shows its readers how love can accept and encompass those differences. That’s so much more realistic and for me, oh, so satisfying.

My only complaint about Unwrapping Hope? It’s short! It is a novella, after all. So, I was pleased to discover that this story will open a series called “Widow’s Might.” I like the name and the implications behind the name. That’s another part of the story I enjoyed—this character didn’t wallow in her misfortunes—she joined together with other widows to help bring relief where needed.

Click-to-Tweet: Unwrapping Hope by @SandraArdoin is not your typical cookie-cutter Christmas tale, and it earns an easy five stars from me. #BookReview #NewRelease


A Bit About the Book – Unwrapping Hope

Phoebe Crain, an accomplished pianist, lives in near poverty to protect her five-year-old daughter from scandal. When Phoebe receives a handcrafted cigar box by mistake, her desperation to give the child something special for Christmas drives her to suggest a trade with Spence Newland, a man she views as no more principled than her daughter’s late father. But the more time she spends with the department store heir, the more Phoebe struggles to keep up her guard against him.

Spence believes the cigar box will help him gain a reclusive investor’s financial support for his proposed five-and-ten-cent stores, demonstrating his ability to manage the family fortunes. Yet he hesitates to bargain with a widow who mistrusts him for no apparent reason…until he meets a charming little girl at the train station who awaits the arrival of a prince.

Will a betrayal in Phoebe’s past and Spence’s unraveling plans derail their hope for happiness and keep a child’s fairy tale from coming true? [Release Date: Oct. 15]

Click to Preorder

About the Author – Sandra Ardoin

As an author of heartwarming and award-winning historical romance, Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith. Rarely out of reach of a book, she’s also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out.

Visit her on her website. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pinterest, and BookBub. Become a member of the Love and Faith in Fiction community and discover what’s upcoming, and learn of specials and giveaways.

A High-Low Day

Hello, Thursday Morning! Hey, is it raining much near you? Remember earlier this year when I was all, “woe is me” over the rainy weather? Yep, you guessed it. We are in a drought in the state of Kentucky.

That’s kind of the way it rolls, isn’t it?

I’ve just returned from a too-brief visit with Mom. She lives in Lexington and she’s within half an hour of some of the most beautiful countryside around. Even in its crispy state, it’s still beautiful.

This time, we visited Wilmore, home of Asbury University, and High Bridge, home of a Victorian-era railroad bridge and park. We stood above the Kentucky River Gorge and looked far below to the green puddle of a river. I’ve never seen it so low.

I have not included the picture of Mom. She made me pinky-promise not to share it, as she is due for a haircut. But really, these photos don’t do the park justice. It was absolutely beautiful out there, and so quiet, until the train went through. Yes, the old bridge (built in1877) is still in use.

While riding in the car, Mom told me how much she’d enjoyed Annabelle’s Joy. She loved being back in the small town and remembering the folks. She could almost smell the cookies baking, along with some of the other tasty dishes they cooked back then.

She also told me about one of her favorite scenes in the book. Annabelle is uncertain why the new woman in town rankles her nerves. For months, she struggles with guilt over it. Do you know anyone like that, who grates on your nerves and you either don’t know why, or you don’t really want to contemplate why?

Here’s the scene:

The pixie sat at the well-worn, upright piano, running a lacy handkerchief over the keys. Annabelle turned her gaze away. Why did the woman rankle her so? Maybe because she was everywhere, into everything. She’d already insinuated herself into the choir, taken the pianist’s position, among other things. Of course, Hattie Overton, the former pianist, was only too happy to give it over. At ninety-two, she was ready to retire.

Annabelle had stifled a twinge of disappointment when Rosella never hit a sour note. Every song, even the most difficult came out perfectly.

It didn’t help to hear such words as “effervescent” used to describe the newcomer. Effervescent. Made her think of those seltzer tablets you used for an upset tummy. Something Annabelle could use right about now.

Thankfully, Lillian slid in beside her as the music started. Everyone stood for the Doxology. Annabelle did her best to let go of her ill feelings toward the pianist. She managed to keep her thoughts away entirely. She did not want to contemplate the reason for her attitude.

I love that scene, too, and I know the reason for her ill feelings!

Do you love an imperfect character? Do you prefer to see their character changed by end of book, or would you rather not have all the ends neatly tied?

Click-to-Tweet: At High Bridge Park in #Kentucky, we stood above the Kentucky River Gorge and looked far below to the green puddle of a river. I’ve never seen it so low. #travel

A Winning Partnership

The demise of another local Christian bookstore. The dwindling number of books in the Inspirational/Christian section of other bookstores…

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! I’m so happy you stopped by. On Saturday, Sept. 21, I’ll be signing Annabelle’s Joy at our local Barnes & Noble. Throughout the month, I’ve received their online newsletter and it’s exciting to see my name listed in the Upcoming Events.

This morning, I’m thinking about that. It’s an opportunity, one that I’m thankful for and I’m not going to take it for granted. This type of opportunity is not only priceless, it could disappear tomorrow.

If you’re a writer, take advantage of the opportunities offered. Visit your local B&N and see what you need to do to either get books on their shelves, or be hosted for a book signing. When they host you, they do a great deal of marketing on your behalf. Your name and book may be on a poster in their front window. And, you’ll be listed in their online newsletter, on their Facebook page, and other venues.

Yes, I’m a member of B&N. I paid a small sum for a card that gets me on their newsletter list and saves me money when I make purchases at their store. I shop there whenever I can, because they’re local, because I have friends who are on staff. And they’re offering me a wonderful opportunity, to get myself out there. To be seen, and to be heard of, if only for a few moments.

I hope you’ll take advantage of this opportunity, not only as writers, but as readers.

Click-to-Tweet: When you hear that an Inspirational/Christian writer will be in the area signing books, give them a moment of your time. Stop in to meet them. Don’t let this opportunity pass.

I’m supporting local business and they’re supporting me. Seems like a win-win. 🙂

Support Local Business and Me! I’d love to see you.

No Greater Joy

Hello, Thursday Morning readers. Welcome.

I have officially renamed this post three times. Hah! And I am fully coffee’d up, so I can’t use that as an excuse. Speaking of coffee, I wish we could meet for a cup one day. I’d love to talk to you. Hey, we can, if you live nearby.

I’ve got a book signing at Barnes & Noble next week, and they have a cafe!

What is your greatest joy-producer? We have lots of things in this world that can bring us happiness (or take it away). But, joy runs deep and tends to last throughout the driest season.

We happen to be in a dry season right now. Everything’s looking pretty wilted and the temps are soaring past the 100-degree mark. Hot! The sun bakes the soil and cracks form along the surface, but down deep, water flows. You know it’s there, because the trees, whose roots run deep, are still green and healthy.

Are you deeply-rooted in a joy-producing life?

I hope so. But, if you’re experiencing a dry season, here are a few helpful suggestions:

  • Immerse yourself in the Word of God. Since joy is a fruit of the Spirit, it needs to be cultivated.
  • Singing praise and worship always lifts my heart. Find good music on YouTube or your favorite Christian stations or apps.
  • Pray and spend quiet time with the Lord. Find a quiet place to sit in His presence.

Joy is a choice you make. Doing any one of these things will help you. Making a regular habit of doing all of them will provide the growth you need to send your roots down deep.

Let me know how it goes. I’d love to hear from you.

Shout for joy to God, all the earth;
2     sing the glory of his name;
    give to him glorious praise!
3 Say to God, “How awesome are your deeds!
    So great is your power that your enemies come cringing to you.
4 All the earth worships you
    and sings praises to you;
    they sing praises to your name.” Selah [Psalm 66:1-4 ESV]

Click-to-Tweet: Are you deeply-rooted in a joy-producing life? No Greater Joy via @batowens #Joy #ThursdayInspiration