The book releases on September 1, but they'll be giving away a free copy to one visitor. To enter to win leave your email address with a comment. I'll put the names on pieces of paper and draw one on Sunday, August 29th.
Both novellas are interconnected. And, Anita and Irene are here to tell us how they did it.
Was it difficult to connect your two stories?
Anita: Not at all. We had a brainstorming session by phone and by email and figured it out. Irene’s historical novella, An Appalachian Christmas is tied to my contemporary novella, Once Upon a Christmas Eve. They are connected through the passing of a mistletoe ball through the generations. It was a delight to work with Irene. She’s very easy to get along with. In fact, we’ve become long-distance friends.
Irene: It wasn’t difficult. Actually, this may have been the easier part of the writing project. After we’d each read the other’s manuscript, I provided Anita with the information necessary for continuity, and she did the same for me. It was easy to insert the other story line into my novella.
Do you think you’d consider working on another project together?
Anita: Yes, in fact we’ve been chatting about working on another project together.
Irene: It would appeal to me. Although our writing styles aren’t the same, still the differences seem to improve the book.
How did you come up with the idea for your story?
Anita: My novels are more character driven, and so my characters tend to move the story along. The idea for Once Upon a Christmas Eve may have started with my interest in the fairy archetype. I loved the movies Cold Comfort Farm and Chocolat for that very reason. There was something enchanting about those two heroines as they whirled around, fixing people’s lives. I gave my main character, Holly Goodnight, some similar fanciful qualities.
Irene: My husband and I spent a few days in Owsley County, Kentucky, where my novella is located. After we met the local people, visited the site where the action would be, and learned about the local history, the story was easy to develop.
Out of your novellas, which characters are your favorites?
Anita: Beyond the heroine I loved Van Keaton, the author. He was flawed in a number of ways, but he had enough endearing qualities to make him loveable too. At least that is what I hope readers will feel.
Irene: The hero and heroine turned out to be great characters, but Granny, the hero’s grandmother was a lovable person – the kind of grandmother all of us would have liked. (I don’t remember either of my grandmothers.)
What did you want the reader to take away from your story?
Anita: That no matter how impossible circumstances look, God can work all things for good.
Irene: That even when a romance seems hopeless, true love can overcome any barrier.
What does a typical workday look like for you?
Anita: I’m usually up at 5:30 to have breakfast and a devotion time with my husband. Then I go up to my office, reply to emails, and start on my writing. I stop for lunch, run a few errands, and then to go back to work again. I don’t watch TV in the evening, but I do treat myself to a new movie or two on the weekends.
Irene: My husband and I get up at 5:45 each morning. While he shaves, I prepare breakfast. We also have a devotional period before we eat. We’ve used THE SECRET PLACE, our American Baptist devotional material, since we were married. We have a list of different people for whom we pray at each meal time. Weather permitting, we take a 2-mile walk after breakfast. I open my e-mail next, then read the Bible and have private devotions. The last 3 days of the week, I prepare to teach my Sunday School lessons. I write as much as possible, but the time spent on my writing depends upon what else needs to be done. I’m very active in the work of my church – choir, playing piano, women’s work and teaching a Sunday School lesson. Unless I’m on a deadline, I don’t write after 6:00 p.m.
Where do all your ideas come from?
Anita: Ideas flood in from everywhere—while I’m running errands, or chatting with a friend, or drifting off to sleep. I can barely keep up with the flow. I have to write them down to use later.
Irene: From reading research books or fiction. I get ideas from talking with others, or news items on television.
What are you reading right now?
Anita: I’m reading, A Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L’Engle.
Irene: I’m reading a Regency romance, one I’ve had on my shelves for a few years. First Season by Anne Baldwin
What are your five favorite things about Christmas?
Anita: The birth of Christ, of course. But then I love the music, the scents, the special foods, and family time together.
Irene: Local church activities, music, baking and visiting shut-ins with goodies, Christmas dinner with extended family, holiday movies on TV.
Where can readers find you online?
Anita: I would love for folks to drop by my website at http://www.anitahigman.com/.
Thank you for inviting us to your blog? Irene and I hope your Christmas is filled with the love of Christ and all things bright and beautiful!
It was my pleasure.