Gail's Book Nook

Monday, August 16, 2010

Looking Out the Window: Welcome Irene Brand and Anita Higman

The heat indexes may be soaring, but before we know it the temperatures will fall and Christmas will be right around the corner. Irene Brand and Anita Higman give us a great opportunity to get an early start on our gifts or purchase a treasure for ourselves. They each have a Christmas novella in the new compilation, Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe.

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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
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?
I would love for folks to drop by my website at

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.


Anita Higman said...

Thanks for having us on your blog!

I'm already getting into a Christmas mood even though the temps are around 100 in Houston!


Anita Higman

Miss Mae said...

What an intriguing idea to work together on an interconnecting story! Here's wishing you both much success. :)

Anne Patrick said...

Enjoyed the interview, ladies. Your book sounds wonderful. Best of luck with it.

Laurean Brooks said...

You won't believe this! Just 30 minutes ago I was visualizing what it would be like if a certain author friend and I did a book together. Then I turn on the computer and, Voilla! There it is.

Anita and Irene, I envy the way you schedule your day. It seems no matter how determined I am to find extra writing time, something unexepected throws me off-kilter.

I'm open for suggestions! Can you ladies HELP?

This books sounds wonderful. I really, really hope I win!

Gail, this was a wonderful interview. I enjoyed every word. You couldn't have picked more gifted writers, and more Godly women, than Irene and Anita.

Wendy said...

I really love the Love Finds You books. Thanks for offering it.

Debra's Reading Corner! said...

Wow! Wonderful interview. This book is combined with two of my favorite things. First I love reading the LFY series, and I also love Christmas stories. Both in one both...oh yeah!
Thanks for the opportunity on a chance to win a copy.


Molly(Buukluvr81) said...

Please enter me in this giveaway!

I really love Christmas and books so what better thing to win than a Christmas book! LoL! Thanks for this chance!

Mollydedwards AT yahoo DOT com

JoanneR said...

Working together sounds so exciting and satisfying. What a great way to bounce things off another person and come up witha wonderful book!

Victoria said...

Love when two authors work together on stories like this. I am so sick of this heat. A holiday story sounds great right now!

Michelle V said...

I can't wait to read this one! Please enter me.

Michelle V

Merry said...

A "cool" book sounds great on this hot day, please add me to the drawing. Thanks!

lotus82 said...

Sounds like a great book. I`d love a chance to win this one.


misskallie2000 said...

Hi Anita and Irene, Enjoyed your interviews and glad to find two more Christian writers. I love Christmas books and Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe does sound like another great book. Thanks for stopping by to chat.

Just found your blog Gail and will be back to read more.
Pls include me in the drawing.

misskallie2000 at yahoo dot com

scrapbookangel said...

Please enter me in the drawing.

We are Christmas fanatics. My husband has a wish to put out so many Christmas light, we can be seen from space. Will never happen but he can dream.

Best of luck with the book.

avidreader at middleswarth dot net

Gail Pallotta said...

wow! I'm a little late getting here, but I'm so happy to see all the comments. Thanks to everyone for stopping by.

Cara Lynn James said...

Great interview! I love Christmas stories (I love Christmas) and I look forward to reading this one. It's a little hot in Florida to be thinking about the holidays, but they always happen quicker than I think they will.

Jo said...

I enjoy the Love Finds You books and enjoy reading Christmas books so what a wonderful combination this is.Would love to get entered for the book.


Anita Higman said...

Oh wow, all these comments are amazing. Thank you so much.

My favorite was the comment from the gal who said her husband wanted to put out tons of Christmas lights so that their house could be seen from space. Great dream. What fun.
Merry Christmas early!
Anita Higman

PatriciaW said...

I like the idea of a historical and a contemporary connecting, and it's always nice to get a glimpse into the writing lives of favorite authors.


GABixler said...

Personally, I think Christmas was made for July...Let's face it, Mary and Joseph didn't have to worry about snow...just getting to some place that would put a cover over their heads! I think Jesus is probably laughing each year when the whiteness starts descending!

Best to you both in your writing! Glenda

Never2manybooks said...

We Christians carry the hope of Christmas with us daily so it is never too early to start thinking about Christmas! I LOVE Christmas Christian fiction! I would love to read this book!!!!

Kim Thorne

heidi330 said...

Thank you for the great post...I am soo ready for Christmas and cooler weather..I've been xmas shopping for a few months now.
I look forward to reading your book. Love stories when authors get together and work on it. I'm also going to get a copy for my mother to read..She is going through a lot these days and if she can walk away with the message that GOd loves her, it will be so worth it.

Thanks again,
please include me in the giveaway...

Brandlwyne aka Brandy B said...

Hi. Thanks for talking to us. I love the cover... I have always wanted to take a horse drawn sleigh ride like the book has on the cover :)


A J Hawke said...

Always enjoy Anita Higman's stories. Please enter me.

A J Hawke
ajhawkeauthor at aol dot com

Anita Higman said...

Thanks for all your kind and supportive comments. Brandy said she likes the idea of a horse drawn sleigh ride like on the book cover. Me too. It looks so cozy and romantic. Houston rarely gets snow, though, so I'd have to go north. Sounds good to me!

Hugs from Anita Higman

Jackie S. said...

Please enter me: love LFY books and love Christmas stories. Thanks!!!

Jennifer Mathis said...

oh now I'm looking forward to christmas and all the good holiday reads :)

Sandee61 said...

I would love to read this book, I always try to find new Christmas novels to read in the winter. And I'm just new to the LFY books so I'm looking forward to reading all of them! I enjoyed the interview very much. Thank you! Please enter my name in your giveaway. Thanks again.



Random Ramblings of said...

Christmas is my favorite time of the year. I am looking forward to reading this one especially after getting a peak into the behind the scenes of how this book came to be.

peachykath said...

Christmas books are my favorite kind to read and I sometimes find myself pulling the books off the shelves in the middle of the summer to re-read them before the season starts. Please enter me in the drawing for this book.