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.

Joy Comes in the Morning

For his anger endureth but a moment; in his favour is life: weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning. ~ Psalm 30:5 KJV

When troubles lay like a heavy blanket on our souls, it’s difficult to believe the pain will end. Annabelle Cross, heroine of my latest novel, endures unbelievable pain after losing her husband and both sons in a tragic boating accident. Three years after the incident, she still suffers bouts of sadness and melancholy.

But for Annabelle, life is about to take a turn.

In the third and final installment of my Kinsman Redeemer series, Annabelle will discover that happiness is not as important as joy. Happiness is a dance on the surface, but joy is a deep dive into tranquil waters.

In a few short days, Annabelle’s Joy releases. I’m nervous and excited at the same time. I hope my readers will love where the journey ends.

If you’re on Facebook, I have started an event page for the release. It will be live for the week of August 7 (the release day) through August 14. You’ll find fun facts posted there, along with a couple of Annabelle’s favorite cookie recipes and maybe a quick game or two.

And of course, there will be prizes. You don’t have to buy anything to enter. You don’t even have to sign up for a newsletter. Just check in and leave a comment or two.

If you’ve read Annabelle’s Ruth and/or Sutter’s Landing (books 1 & 2), I hope you’ll stop by the event page and leave a short comment about the book.

This all begins on August 7, but before that time, my other books will be on sale–maybe even free on Kindle. So keep an eye on my Amazon author page!


Wandering Through the Garden – Today, you can find me on Catherine Castle’s beautiful blog, talking about gardens. Here’s a shortlink to the post: https://wp.me/p2dBDK-1PN

Back to the Land of Ruth

Happy Thursday morning! Coffee needed and keep it coming! We’ve had an extremely wet week in our neck of the woods. I’m hoping for sunshine and maybe a little more summertime.

I’ve spent several weeks in memory mode, contemplating my future writing. Now, it’s time to return to the story of Ruth. Once again, I’m immersing myself in the beautiful Biblical story. Once I’ve studied it, I’ll re-read Annabelle’s Ruth and Sutter’s Landing.

This past week, I’m also researching my setting for the third and final book in the Kinsman Redeemer series. Something caught my interest, and may find it’s way into the story line. If you are of a certain age, and lived in the southeastern region of the United States, you may remember what happened in the late fifties/early sixties.

Jackson, Tennessee, just a short drive south from my rural setting, was often in the news in those days. It’s the home of Lane College, a traditionally all-black college (during that time), associated with the Methodist Episcopal Church. Several brave young men and women took it upon themselves to force the desegregation issue by staging “sit-ins” at area drug store soda fountains (like the one in my stories).

This, and several other “powder-keg” events happened during the timeline of book three. So, of course, I need to find a way to incorporate it in the story.

Back to the present: the church I attend is culturally and racially diverse. Though comparatively small, our congregation has a wonderful balance. Right now, under the leadership of our pastor, we are studying The Third Option by Miles McPherson. It’s a book about honor and respect, and learning to love your neighbor without prejudice.

The timing couldn’t be more perfect. One of the main reasons I’ve been able to handle the racial issues in the first two books in this series with grace, is the balance in my life. I believe it is directly tied to interaction and fellowship with my church family—a vibrant group of men and women united by their love for God and each other.

At one time in the south, it didn’t matter whether a person was Polynesian or Haitian, or African, or even Latin or Native American. They were considered a lesser race. Even a person of mixed race was denied the privilege to marry a Caucasian at one time. So my main character in books one and two had a couple of hurdles ahead of her.

Why even include this in my story? Why did I need the racial element in Annabelle’s Ruth? Consider the original story. If you’re familiar with the book of Ruth, you’ll remember that she was a foreigner, a Moabitess. She left her home, where she was in the majority, and traveled to Naomi’s homeland, where a Moabite was definitely a minority, and subject to prejudice. It is obvious from content that a Moabite looked different.

Ruth earned something dear—God’s blessing—through her loyalty to Naomi, one of God’s chosen.

As I complete this series, I need to finish with a bang and tie up all the loose ends. I believe I’ll find what I need in the pages of the original story. I can’t wait to find out what happens!

Character Interview – Rebecca’s Legacy

Hello, Thursday Morning friends! I’m so honored you stopped by. How do you take your coffee? I like a little half-and-half in mine.

I have a guest today! One of the characters from my upcoming release—Rebecca’s Legacy

Jack Emerson

Welcome to my blog, Jack Emerson. Jack is Amy Juliana Emerson’s elder brother. How are you, Jack?

Jack: “I’m great, thanks, happy to be here. I take my coffee black, by the way.”

Me: “Oh, I’m sorry. Of course, you do.” (Pours coffee) “Well, I’m sensing a deeper meaning in that simple statement, ‘happy to be here’. You’re happy to be alive, I think.”

Jack: “Yes, I am. Thank you for keeping me alive, not killing me off in that prison camp.” He sips his coffee.

Me: “Are you kidding? Amy would’ve killed me if I didn’t bring you back alive. No, Jack, one thing I’ve learned about you is, you’re a survivor.”

Jack: “Thanks for saying that. As I learned early on, bad things can and do happen. It’s how you handle what life throws at you that makes you the person you become. I chose a different path than what my parents expected of me, but they recognized it was right for me.” He pauses. “But this story’s not about me, is it? What would you like to know about my sister?” He grins. “I’m an open book.”

Me: “Good one, Jack. Okay, you’ve known Amy all her life, so tell us something only you would know about her.”

Jack: (Coughs behind his fist) “That I can get away with? You know she’s going to read this.”

Me: (My turn to laugh) “Hah! I hope she will. So, what can you share and still hold onto your skin?”

Jack: “She snores. Not loudly, but she snores. It’s funny. I’ve teased her a lot about it.”

Me: “But, you snore, too, Jack.”

Jack: “I know, but it’s okay if guys snore.”

Me: “I’ve always heard that. So, let’s talk about Amy. There’s a thing she does, to build herself up before she heads into a situation. When did that start, and why do you think she does it?”

Jack grins. “I’m sure you’re talking about the pep talk.” He grows more serious; thoughtful. “You know, she’s not as self-assured as people think. That’s pretty much all a mask. A ruse. She’s faking, big time. Don’t get me wrong, the girl’s got an ego. She’s always been a princess.” He rubbed the back of his neck. “She’ll bust my chops for calling her that—she hates it.” He grinned. “Which is why I always loved to say it. I’m afraid I pestered her quite a lot, growing up.”

Me: “Isn’t that what brothers are for? From what I’ve observed, you, Amy, and Bobby are all very close. You seem to really love each other.”

Jack: “Oh, absolutely. Even though I was—let’s see—twelve, when Bobby came along. Mother and Dad kept us together, kept us communicating. Dad was often away, and worked late when he was in town, but we spent holidays at Perry’s Landing. He made sure we were together at all the right times.”

Me: “That’s great. Something you can pass along to your own family.”

Jack: “Dad taught us more than that, let me tell you. We learned by example that hard work pays off. Yes, he inherited the business, but he earned every penny of it. His sacrifices were labors of love. He gives Great-grandmother Amelia all the credit for the corporation’s health and longevity, but he’s a lot of that reason, too. If he’s tough on us, that’s the reason. He wanted us to grow up with that same attitude, so we could step into his shoes and carry the baton forward, just as he did.”

Me: “I like that. And you’re right about your Dad. He is the reason the company has stayed strong. So, what does the future hold for you? Will you be the one to receive the baton?”

Jack: He shook his head. “Not me. That’s not my path, I can tell you that right now. It’s not in my blood. You know that.”

Me: “I do, but our readers don’t, unless they’ve read Amelia’s Legacy. There’s a little-known secret about Jack Emerson that only readers of that first book know.”

Jack: “Good thing Amelia’s Legacy is a free download during the upcoming release.” He glanced around. “Oops, is that a secret?” He winked. “Did I let the cat out of the bag?”

Me, laughing: “No, I was going to announce the free e-book at the end of this interview. I have no problem with you doing it.”

Jack, faces you, the reader: “So, if you don’t know, or maybe don’t remember what we’re talking about that’s only revealed in Book 1, Amelia’s Legacy, don’t miss the free download on release day.” He frowns. “What is an e-book, anyway?”

Me: “That’s complicated. Your great-grand kids are going to love it, though.”

Jack: “I’ll take your word for it. I know this, your readers are going to fall in love with Amy. She’s a beauty with a heart of gold. She grew up a lot that summer. I’m proud of the woman she’s becoming.”

Me: “Thanks, Jack. I appreciate you taking the time to talk to us.”

Jack: “Oh, no problem.” Eyes on the reader again. “See you in Rebecca’s Legacy. Be sure you buy the book. Hey, it’s only a buck and some change.”


Readers, you’ll find my newsletter sign-up in the right sidebar (← looks like this). You can click on that big square in the sidebar to sign up. I will never share your email address with anyone, and you can unsubscribe at any time. There will be freebies and giveaways that will only go out to my newsletter patrons. All new sign-ups will receive a free novella – Lake Frigid Aire – a quirky little mystery I wrote.

You won’t miss out, though, if you’re already receiving my newsletter. There will be other opportunities to win, AND not long after the release, you’ll find it online for only 99¢ Thanks so much! See you next week!

Two Legacies: Amelia and Carlotta

Hello, Thursday Morning readers! Thanks for stopping by my blog. Today, I have a special treat planned, so you might want to stick around til the end. Don’t cheat and skip there already. You’re going to need to know a thing or two I’ve included in this post.

My excitement level increases with each day we draw closer to the release of the third book in the Legacy series. I loved writing this book. Since we still have two months until the official release date, I’m going to occupy myself with Legacy-related posts.

Note: Before you read any further, I want to apologize for the number of times I’ve repeated the word legacy. Maybe it will be less distracting if I used [L]. So every time you see [L] you’ll know what it means. 🙂

A legacy is what is left or willed to someone after death. It’s also a memory or a life change because of something that happened in the past. For instance, women’s lives changed due to the legacy of the early suffragists.

In book one of my [L] series, the [L] may seem to be what Amelia Woods Sanderson left to her granddaughter, Nancy. Yes, the inheritance was quite substantial, but there was more to that story.

Amelia was a schemer. This aspect of her personality served her well in the business world, but less so in the personal realm. She had a life laid out for her granddaughter that Nancy chaffed at and resisted with all her energy. Further complicating things, was the fact that Nancy, orphaned at the age of six, had never felt loved by her grandmother.

Amelia’s aloofness was a symptom of her great losses in life.

The lesson Nancy learned was this: Regardless of her problematic nature, Grandmother knew a thing or two about life. She would be long remembered for more than the fortune she left behind.

In book one, Amelia’s death released the [L]. In book two, the title’s [L] character, Carlotta, did not die. Instead, her life—her daily witness—changed her daughter-in-law Rebecca’s life.

Readers of Amelia’s Legacy will remember Rebecca Lewis, Nancy’s best friend (and sometimes partner-in-crime). As the main character in book two, Rebecca must learn to live a different sort of life after marrying into an aristocratic Umbrian family. But they aren’t like other aristocrats. Carlotta puts on an apron and works alongside her servants in the kitchen.

Carlotta at 18

The woman has the servant’s attitude down. Her Roman Catholic roots have taught her to serve and give to others. You wouldn’t know that when you first meet her. She is quite resistant to the idea of an American daughter-in-law, especially one whose father gambled away his fortune.

After getting to know Rebecca’s mother, and a bit about the girl’s early life, Carlotta’s cold facade begins to melt. Rebecca’s attitude of humility, coupled with a willingness to learn, crumbles the last of the older woman’s resolve.

What Rebecca gained in Umbria, living with the Alvera family, was an organic [L] that would serve her well in years to come. She’d pass on the servant’s heart, love, and humility to an Emerson in book three, and she doesn’t have to die to do it.

So, now that you’ve made it through all that, you may be wondering what the “treat” is–I’m giving away a $10 gift card! Just leave me a comment on this blog post and let me know you’d like to be included in the drawing. Also include in your comment the word I left out in the blog post. Here’s a hint: [L].

The prize will be winner’s choice of an Amazon gift card, or a Starbucks gift card. Now, don’t forget, you have to include two things in your comment!

Have a wonderful weekend!