Archive | December, 2013

Interview: Joanne Bischof

19 Dec

My Hope is Found

I recently had the opportunity to ask Joanne Bischof a few questions about My Hope is Found, Book 3 in The Cadence of Grace series.  This is a MUST READ series and I cannot recommend it enough!  If you missed my review of My Hope is Found, simply click the link below. 

https://buzzingaboutbooks.com/2013/12/17/my-hope-is-found/

I am delighted to share Joanne’s interview today!

Authorpic1fb

Joanne, each of your book titles is so profound and a wonderful descriptor of each book.  How did you choose your titles?
 

Thank you!  I really wanted each of the titles to have a lyrical quality.  With music being one of the elements that runs throughout the series, it just felt like the right fit.  Also, was the desire to have each title really represent the emotion of each individual story.  Sort of what the characters might say they were feeling in each book.  And in a way that progresses through those ups and downs, finally ending with My Hope is Found.  I was so happy when we’d settled on that title and it was going to be the one to represent this final piece of the story.

 
I have heard authors say they were surprised by a character/scene/or other element in their writing?  Did you encounter any surprises while you were writing My Hope is Found? 
 

I really did experience many surprises.  I think the one that most often happens, is when a character does or says something that I never anticipated.  I don’t typically give a lot of thought or attention to identifying a character’s full personality when I first begin a novel.  Actually, I find that I don’t know them all that well.

I take the idea of them and let the rest evolve with what seems the most natural.  For example, with Gideon, I didn’t think about the ins and outs of his personality and his beliefs.  Here was this man who was once a womanizer and an alcoholic and as his character grew and matured, I’d often sit back and would be tempted to write him one way, often what felt like the easy way.  But then I’d have to stop and think, “no…he would do or say…this. Because of who he is and where he’s been…”

It was an intimidating part of the process, but one that I most enjoy with characterization—letting all the aspects that make that person who they are, who they were, and who they will one day become, define all they do on the page.  It’s very freeing and very fun.  Almost like going on an adventure myself!

 
My Hope is Found is a stunning conclusion to The Cadence of Grace series.  When you began writing, did you know how the series would ultimately end? 
 

Thank you so much!  I confess, that I did always know that Lonnie and Gideon would end up together.  But that doesn’t mean the journey to that point wasn’t loaded with challenges.  One of the greatest challenges there was with Toby McKee, the Scottish reverend who has the ability to completely win Lonnie’s heart in the third book.  He’s such a good man, and such a worthy hero, that as the story was unfolding, it became more and more difficult to approach that point in the story when Lonnie would have to choose between two good and worthy men.  It was at that point, that I didn’t so much get doubts as to how it would end, but I got butterflies.  Would readers be satisfied?  So far the response has been wonderful, but let’s just say that I get a lot of emails on the subject of a particular Scottish reverend along with requests for just one more book.  It’s been amazing to see how many readers really connected with this cast.

 
Did you find yourself eager to write this conclusion or were you reluctant to let these characters go?
 

Most definitely reluctant!  It was truly so bittersweet.  Spending three whole books with the same characters really was quite an experience.  Looking back, this series was about 7 years of active work and writing, the last of those years being during the publishing process.  So saying goodbye to this cast of characters I had spent so much time with and knew so well, was definitely bittersweet when My Hope is Found went to print.  But the joy!  Knowing the characters and story would be able to one day connect with readers…it was (and is!) so exciting.

 
As the author, who created and nurtured these characters, how did you feel when you wrote the very last word of My Hope is Found?
 

I think I had the biggest smile. Writing those words was such a long time coming and there was such a victory there. It was sort of the final expression of how God truly can build something out of nothing and even this couple who thought they could never be happy together, would not only lose one another, but one day find a way back.

 
Do you think you will ever revisit these characters, perhaps in another book or series?
 

It’s something I’ve often thought about. I don’t know if I’ll be visiting them again or not, but the idea is always there for another little snippet of story or even to visit some of the other characters whose stories are a bit untold.

 
I know you are deep into a story now and you have said the characters have already made you cry.  What can you share with us about this next book?
 

Oh yes, I don’t know that I’ve ever cried so much while writing a single book! Not because of some heart-wrenching tragedy, but because it’s a tender story and what to me feels like a powerful love story. One I can’t not tell. It’s another Appalachian romance, the first of three books sketched out, and so much of my heart is wrapped up in those pages that I often find myself wiping tears as it unfolds. It’s a project I’m really, really excited about and one that I’m (on a daily basis) having to continually give back to the Lord and trust that His plan for it will be the perfect plan.

 
Oh, I cannot wait to get my hands on your next book!  Thank you so much, Joanne, for taking the time to answer these questions and for sharing your talent with us through your amazing writing.  You are such a blessing! 
 

To learn more about Joanne Bischof and her books, please visit her website at www.joannebischof.com.

The Cadence of Grace series:

Book 1: Be Still My Soul
Book 2: Though My Heart is Torn
Book 3: My Hope is Found

My Hope Is Found

17 Dec

My Hope is Found

My Hope Is Found by Joanne Bischof

Synopsis:

Gideon O’Riley has been given another chance at a life with Lonnie. But will the fight for her heart risk it all over again?
 
After finally finding love with his sweet bride Lonnie, Gideon’s heart was torn when a woman from his past claimed to be his true and rightful wife, forcing him away from his family. God’s merciful hand saw Gideon through the heartache, and with Cassie’s blessing, he is able to return home. But his journey back through the Blue Ridge Mountains will hold a trial he never anticipated.
 
Meanwhile, Lonnie determines to seal off her heart from Gideon, convinced he is lost to her forever. Strengthening her resolve to move on is her growing fondness for the handsome Scotsman, Toby McKee—the young reverend she has come to care for deeply. His proposal of marriage offers a bright future for her and her young son.
 
Yearning to allow joy back into her life, Lonnie must put aside the broken pieces of her heart that still love Gideon. When he returns to find her betrothed to another, he has to place his hope in God, trusting that the One who redeemed their love once can do it again.

Thoughts:

Rarely have I found a book or books that evoked such strong emotions. However, Joanne Bischof masterfully stirred my emotions with every turn of the page.

My Hope Is Found is a stunning conclusion to The Cadence of Grace series. I gave my heart completely to the compelling characters and the vivid beauty of the Appalachians in Book 1, Be Still My Soul. I wept at the heart-wrenching emotion so beautifully written in Book 2, Though My Heart Is Torn. Wanting and needing to know what was going to happen to these precious people I had come to know and love, I was eager to read My Hope Is Found. I found myself speeding up and slowing down and savoring every last word. As I finished reading the last words of this book, I exhaled the breath that I found myself holding. Sighing with great satisfaction in the fact that, despite despair and suffering, hope is found!

Joanne Bischof has written an amazing series of books that will touch your heart. The spiritual thread so beautifully and eloquently woven into these books is a gift and a blessing to everyone who reads them. The Cadence of Grace series is a poignant story that you absolutely must read!

Biography:

Christy Award-finalist and author of Be Still My Soul, Though My Heart Is Torn, and My Hope Is Found, Joanne Bischof has a deep passion for Appalachian culture and writing stories that shine light on God’s grace and goodness. She lives in the mountains of Southern California with her husband and their three children. When she’s not weaving Appalachian romance, she’s blogging about faith, folk music, and the adventures of country living that bring her stories to life. You can visit her website at www.joannebischof.com.

On Thursday, I will be sharing my recent interview with Joanne.  I am so excited to be discussing My Hope Is Found, as well as a bit about the book Joanne is writing now.  I hope you will join us!  

A Wild Goose Chase Christmas

13 Dec

A Wild Goose Chase Christmas

A Wild Goose Chase Christmas by Jennifer AlLee

Synopsis:

Upon her grandmother’s death, Izzy Fontaine finds herself in possession of a Wild Goose Chase pattern quilt that supposedly leads to a great treasure. 

Of course, once the rest of the family finds out about the “treasure map,” they’re determined to have a go at the treasure themselves. And, if that weren’t enough, Max Logan, a local museum curator, contacts Izzy and says that Grandma Isabella promised him the quilt.

What is it about this quilt that makes everyone want it? Is Izzy on a wild goose chase of her own, or a journey that will lead her to the treasure her grandmother intended?

Thoughts:

A Wild Goose Chase Christmas is an enchanting tale that will warm your heart!  I fell in love with this story on the very first page and loved it even more as I read the last words. 

Izzy Fontaine receives a very special gift, a Wild Goose Chase pattern quilt, from her beloved grandmother.  Izzy does not understand the gift, or its value, and is surprised when Max Logan appears on her doorstep claiming ownership of the quilt.  Max is a local museum curator and claims that Isabella promised him the quilt, to be used in a museum exhibit. 

If that isn’t strange enough, notes begin to arrive from unexpected people and places.  Soon everyone is on a wild goose chase searching for the treasure that Grandma has alluded to.  What they find is something they least expect but need the most! 

Jennifer AlLee has written an endearing story that is sure to delight readers!  With a wonderful cast of characters, including Bogie, the Jack Russell Terrier, and important lessons beautifully woven throughout, A Wild Goose Chase Christmas is a story you won’t soon forget! 

Click to enjoy an excerpt from A Wild Goose Chase Christmas!
 
 

Please read Jennifer’s delightful interview below.

AlLeeJennifer

1. I adore A Wild Goose Chase Christmas!  What inspired this enchanting, heartwarming story? 

Thank you so much! There were several inspirations for this book. First, my grandmother was a professional dancer, so she was the inspiration for Grandma Isabella. The dynamic between Izzy, her mother, and her brother was inspired by my own family, even though our personalities are much different. And finally, the town of Monrovia is an actual place in Southern California that actually has a Friday night Street Fair. I’ve got lots of happy memories of it, so it seemed like the perfect place to set the story.      

2. A Wild Goose Chase Christmas is part of the Quilts of Love series.   Are you a quilter and/or do you have any quilts that are meaningful to you?  

I’m not a quilter myself, but I do have a special quilt. It’s a pattern called “Grandma’s Flower Garden” and was made by my mother. She used material from dresses and other clothing that had belonged to four generations of women in the family, from my great-grandmother to me. The quilt was a present when I went to college.      

3. The quilt in this story leads to great treasure.  What are some things you treasure?  

My greatest treasures are the people in my life, my family and friends. My son, Billy, is twenty, and he’s been my number one treasure since the day he was born. God certainly did bless me with that boy!      

4. Christmas is quickly approaching!  Please share with us one of your favorite Christmas memories.  

When I was in kindergarten, I was an angel in my school’s Christmas pageant. That’s one of my best Christmas memories, because I was so proud of my angel robe and my sparkly, gold tinsel halo!  

Thank you so much, Jennifer!  Merry Christmas to you and your family!!

 

Jennifer has shared a special character post, written by Izzy Fontaine.

I love my family, but you know how it is. Spending time with them, especially at the holidays, can be beyond stressful.

Take my mother… please! Just kidding. My mother and I have always had a bumpy relationship. For some reason, she can find fault in everything I do while my brother, Brandon, remains the golden child. But this year, Brandon’s not shining quite as bright, and Mom and I are spending way more time together than we expected to.

And it’s not just family that causes stress. There’s a new man in my life, and not because I went looking for one. No, Max Logan showed up at my door looking for his grandfather, who had gone AWOL from an assisted living facility, and for the Wild Goose Chase quilt that my grandmother left to me. He’s got the crazy idea that Gran gave the quilt to his museum. 

I tried not to like Max at first. I told myself that he was pushy and only cared about the quilt and making it the centerpiece of his new exhibit. But he also is smart, and funny, and I can’t ignore how much he loves his grandfather.

Thanks to Grandma Isabella, this could be the best – and craziest – Christmas yet.

 
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Abingdon Press.  All thoughts expressed are my own and no monetary compensation was received.

 

The Christmas Star

12 Dec

The Christmas Star

The Christmas Star by Ace Collins

Synopsis:

Can the broken heart of a child be healed by an unexpected Christmas letter?  Robert Reed gave his life for his country in the early days of World War II.  His sacrifice was honored when his widow and son were presented with the Congressional Medal of Honor.  At Christmas, the final decoration Marge Reed hangs on the family’s tree is that medal.  Rather than being a symbol of honor for young Jimmy Reed that shining star represents loss, pain, and suffering.

Yet a message delivered by one of Robert’s fellow soldiers and a mystery letter found in a Bible put a father’s sacrifice and faith into perspective and bring new meaning to not just the star hanging on the Christmas tree but the events of the very first Christmas.  Then, when least expected, a Christmas miracle turns a final bit of holiday sadness into a joy that Jimmy has never known.

Thoughts:

As you open the pages of The Christmas Star, you will be swept back in time to the December of 1945.  Ace Collins captures the essence of days gone by with his wonderful use of nostalgic details and descriptions.  This is a captivating tale that is sure to be enjoyed this holiday season! 

While the small town of Ash Flat, Arkansas gears up to celebrate the first Christmas after the war, Jimmy Reed is feeling less that celebratory.  Embittered by the loss of his father, Jimmy begins to run with wrong crowd and soon finds himself in a situation beyond his control.

However, the events that transpire are a beautiful illustration of hope and faith.  The Christmas Star is a touching story that will warm your heart.  I encourage you all to read this special book! 

Click to enjoy an excerpt from The Christmas Star!
 
 

Please continue reading to enjoy my interview with Ace Collins. 

 
CollinsAce
 

1. The Christmas Star is set in a small town in Arkansas during the Christmas of 1945.  What inspired you to write about this time in history?
 
The first Christmas after World War II was a remarkable holiday. Imagine the joy in families reuniting. Many fathers were seeing their sons and daughters for the very first time. The message of the 1942 hit single, “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” as being realized. But put that in context with the reality of those whose loved ones had died in World War II and their reunions would not be coming this Christmas or any other.  Those contrasting emotions made this time period rich with drama and a perfect platform for the story.
 
2. The star that adorns the top of the Reed’s Christmas tree is the Congressional Medal of Honor.  What are some special things that adorn your Christmas tree?
 
We have many ornaments that go back through our family history that we used on our trees. I also always have a tree with blue lights as a way of being reminded of my Grandmother Shell who only put blue lights on her tree and beside the tree are angel chimes just like my Grandmother Collins always set out each holiday season.
 
3. The themes of faith and hope are beautifully woven throughout this story.  What do faith and hope mean to you?
 
Faith for me is believing in things you feel in your heart but can’t see with your eyes. Hope is vehicle that runs on faith. You can’t have one without the other.
 
4. Jimmy Reed receives a joy greater than he has ever known.  Please share with us one of your greatest joys. 
 
Buying Christmas presents and delivering them to children who otherwise would not get a gift are what brings me the most joy. Seeing faces light up when they are surprised makes me understand the power of Matthew 25:35-40.

Thank you, Ace!  Merry Christmas to you and your family!

Ace has also shared a special character post for us to enjoy.  The following is Jimmy Reed’s letter to Santa.

 

Dear Santa,      

All my friends just want normal gifts this year. Audrey wants the newest Sinatra record and John wants a new coat. Matt has the most way out list and it includes a 1940 Mercury Coupe. But I don’t want anything that you can bring on a sleigh or make in your shop, unless you actually have the power over life and death. You see my dad died fighting in the war. You might have heard about it. He fought off a whole batch of Japanese soldiers so that hundreds of his fellow Marines could escape to safety. While they got out through the jungles or by using Army Air Corp planes, my dad held his ground. He died alone.      

Everyone says Robert Reed is a hero. They even gave Mom and me something that pretty much guaranteed that he was all that and more. They call it the Congressional Medal of Honor and it means so much to Mom that she hangs it on our Christmas tree each year. Can you imagine a star on your tree being a stand in for someone you love and will never see it again? It may be wrong, but I’d rather have had all those Marines die that day in 1942 in The Philippines than have my dad die saving them. So I wish I’d never seen that medal.      

So this Christmas, almost four years after he gave his life for his country, all I’m asking is that you give me my father back. I’m not just asking just for me. I’ll asking for my mother too. She might even miss him more than I do. You see our lives are empty without him. And now as I look toward Christmas 1945, with the war over and peace on earth being so much more than just a saying, and with all my other friends having their fathers come back from the war, my heart is breaking.

So Santa, if you can’t bring my dad back to life, I ask you to please make Christmas go away. Please make it disappear so that I don’t have to see that star on the tree and realize just how lonely and lost I am. You see, I don’t want to celebrate the fact my dad died a hero, I just want to have him be a regular guy who can still put his arms around me and assure me everything will be all right.                                                                              

Sincerely,                                                                          

Jimmy Reed

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Abingdon Press.  All thoughts expressed are my own and no monetary compensation was received.

Blame It On The Mistletoe

11 Dec

Blame it on the Mistletoe

Blame it on the Mistletoe by Joyce Magnin

Synopsis:

Is There Really a Fountain of Youth in Paradise?

Welcome back to Bright ‘s Pond, where strange happenings are afoot at the Greenbrier Nursing Home. Strange even for Bright ‘s Pond. The residents suddenly act like kids again riding trikes, climbing trees, and of all things falling in love. Some of the townsfolk blame it on the crooked new gazebo, or its builder, a quirky little man who quotes Don Quixote, collects water from the fountain at the Paradise trailer park, and disappears on a regular basis.

While Chief of Police Mildred Blessing investigates the mystery, Griselda and her friends deal with a luau Thanksgiving, preparations for the Christmas pageant, and maybe even an upcoming wedding. Only, in Bright ‘s Pond, nothing ever really goes as planned . . .

Thoughts:

Blame it on the Mistletoe is the fourth novel in Joyce Magnin’s Bright’s Pond series.  In the small town of Bright’s Pond, the characters are a bit quirky and the situations sometimes bizarre!

Residents of the local nursing home seem to have found a source of rejuvenation and are acting years younger than their age, leaving those in the community to wonder who or what is responsible.  With a mystery to solve, as well as an on-again, off-again love story, Blame it on the Mistletoe is full of surprises and lots of laughs!  I enjoyed this delightful visit to Bright’s Pond and wonder what these characters will come up with next!

I have not read the other books in the series, so this was my first introduction to Bright’s Pond.  While I didn’t really know the time setting of the novel or the history of the cast, I was able to read this book as a stand-alone novel.  However, I would assume that reading the first three books would certainly add to the enjoyment of Blame it on the Mistletoe.

Click to enjoy an excerpt from Blame it on the Mistletoe!
 
 

Joyce has graciously answered a few of my questions.  Please read her delightful interview below! 

 
Joyce Magnin
 
 

1.  Blame it on the Mistletoe is the fourth novel in the Bright’s Pond series.  What inspired this fun series?  Oh boy, that’s hard to pinpoint. I just love small town life and quirky characters. I guess it was the character of Agnes Sparrow that started it all. She arrived one day and said, “Write my story.” And I went from there. I love these characters and  I just follow them around and write down the things they say and do.      

2.  What can we expect next from the quirky characters of Bright’s Pond?  Well, my publisher isn’t doing any more Bright’s Pond books but I am hoping to continue the series with E-Books. I get requests for more all the time. I’d like to see Charlotte open her pie shop and Griselda and Zeb finally adopt Mercy and maybe some more romance and even a little intrigue as the characters grow.      

3.  This book is full of humorous and bizarre situations.  Have you ever found yourself in such a situation?  If so, please share.  MY life is a humorous and bizarre situation. HA! The truth is the church in Bright’s Pond is pretty much the church I grew up n. Very odd and quirky. MY father once built a cannon and set it off one fourth of July. It turned out okay, the police were understanding. My mother was the pie baker and we still talk about the cherry pie of 1982. It was incredible. Of course the year my father drop kicked the turkey through the living window was interesting. So yeah, lots of stuff.   

4.  What are some special traditions or celebrations you and your family enjoy during the holiday season?   I enjoy Christmas lights. Cuckoo for them. So stringing as many lights as possible is always a goal. And of course going out and driving around town to see other displays. They crack me up sometimes, especially when folks mingle the religious with the secular traditions. Frosty visits the Holy Family–those are my favorite.Of course in my home, someone always manages to sneak an elf or a giraffe into the creche. But that’s okay, everyone is welcome to see the baby Jesus.      

Thanks for asking. Merry Christmas to All. Peace!

Thank you, Joyce!  Merry Christmas!!

Joyce has also shared a fun character post written by Charlotte Figg!

 

It’s almost Christmas. I cannot imagine where the year has gone. But here we are facing the hustle and bustle of the season. Ha, I guess it’s more bustle than hustle for some, especially after eating all those Christmas goodies. And speaking of goodies I just got back from Shoops with Griselda and Rose Tattoo. We bought all the ingredients I need to make pie. Yep, pie. Lots and lots of pies.  

Don’t worry though, I know Zeb has the market cornered on lemon meringue what with his famous Full Moon Pie. But I’m planning on Apple, Dutch Apple, Pumpkin, Cherry, Mince and my brand new experimental Super Duper Chocolate Praline pie. That’s right, experimental.

Now I know, I know it’s not a good idea to experiment with recipes during the holidays and especially not good to serve something that has not been tried and found true. But I’m gonna give it a whirl. I just love pralines. Don’t you.  

And so does my dog, Lucky. That pooch will sneak them right off the counter, right out of the bowl if I’m not careful or keep them tucked up high or in the fridge. Ha! That’s the perils of pralines, I suppose.  

But I got to say that amidst all the hustle of shopping and decorating and wrapping – oh dear, the wrapping, I enjoy the day most when I’m wrist deep in flour or rolling out my extra special flaky crust. It might sound odd but it’s at those times when I find it easiest to remember the real reason for the season. That’s right, the birth of our savior, Jesus. Not that Jesus has a lot to do with crust mind you, it’s just that at those times the house is quiet, the Christmas carols are playing sweetly in the background and I can let my thoughts drift on account of I can make crust blind folded and with one arm tied behind my back. Anyhoo, with each roll of the rolling pin and each pinch on the crust I say a little prayer for well, two things, Peace, Peace on Earth for all humans, and that Jesus will make his return quickly. Don’t you agree?

Merry Christmas.

Love,

Charlotte

 

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Abingdon Press.  All thoughts expressed are my own and no monetary compensation was received.

The Long Awakening

10 Dec

The Long Awakening

The Long Awakening by Lindsey O’Connor

Synopsis:

On a crisp October day in 2002, Lindsey O’Connor woke from a 47-day medically induced coma. She heard her ecstatic husband’s voice and saw his face as she emerged from the depths of unconsciousness. She was bewildered by the people around her who looked so overjoyed and were so thoroughly attentive and attuned to her every move. Then came the question: “Do you remember that you had a baby?”

Lindsey drifted in and out of consciousness again for weeks. When she finally and gradually surfaced permanently from her long submersion, she struggled to understand that the day her baby came into the world was the day she left it. Her awakening was the happy ending for her family and friends–the miracle they had been praying for–but it was just the beginning of Lindsey’s long and frightening journey toward a new reality.

With visceral images and richly layered storytelling, Lindsey O’Connor vividly tells the poignant true story of the struggle to reenter her world and rebuild her identity. Underlying this life and death battle is a story of lost and found love, the effort to make sense of life-altering events, and the continuing search for self. This moving memoir paints a powerful picture of pain, beauty, and the unsurpassable gift of finally knowing who you are.

Thoughts:

“The riveting true story of a life-threatening coma, a miraculous awakening, and the long quest to regain what was lost.”

Lindsey O’Connor has courageously shared the story of her awakening, after being in a medically induced coma for 47 days. In her stirring memoir, Lindsey recounts the events that would forever change her life and the lives of her family and friends. She details the physical and emotional struggles, as well as the triumphs, she endured on her arduous road to rediscovering herself and her family. Told with compelling candor, The Long Awakening is an unforgettable story that will speak to the heart of every person who reads it.

Lindsey O’Connor is a gifted writer and has written a book that will amaze and inspire you. Her story is one that is meant to be shared and one I hope you will read!

Biography:

Lindsey O’Connor is the author of five books, a freelance journalist, and speaker. Her newest book is a memoir called The Long Awakening. She’s a narrative storyteller, produces radio stories, and has contributed to American Public Media’s Weekend America, WashingtonPost.com, The Rocky Mountain News, Christianity Today, Guideposts and others. She’s a former radio and television anchor and her audio book was a finalist for an Audio Publishers Association award. True story is her thing.

To learn more about Lindsey O’Connor, please visit her website, http://www.lindseyoconnor.com/.

 

My thanks to Lindsey O’Connor for sharing her story and for the opportunity to read The Long Awakening. I received a complimentary copy of this book; all thoughts expressed are my own and no monetary compensation was received.

The Christmas Quilt

9 Dec

The Christmas Quilt

The Christmas Quilt by Vannetta Chapman

Synopsis:

Babies have their own schedule. But so does God.

Annie’s life is deliciously full as the Christmas season approaches. She helps her husband, Samuel, attend to the community’s minor medical needs. She occasionally assists Belinda, the local midwife, and most days, she finds herself delivering the buggy to her brother Adam. Annie’s sister-in-law Leah is due to deliver their first child before Christmas morning, and Annie is determined to finish a crib quilt before the boppli arrives. With six weeks to go, she should have no problem . . . but God may have a different plan. Leah is rushed to the English hospital when the infant arrives early, and Annie discovers the Christmas quilt may hold a far greater significance than she ever imagined.

Thoughts:

In The Christmas Quilt, we revisit the characters and community first introduced by Vannetta Chapman in A Simple Amish Christmas.  I loved returning to Mifflin County, Pennsylvania and catching up with this special Amish community! 

Samuel and Annie Yoder continue to help the community with their medical needs.  Expecting their first child, they are eager to share the experience of parenthood with Annie’s brother and sister-in-law, Adam and Leah Weaver.  Leah is pregnant with twins and due to deliver before Christmas. 

While Annie pregnancy has been a smooth experience, Leah has experienced some emotional and physical difficulties.  When Leah goes into early labor, Annie hurries to her side and convinces her that going to an Englisch hospital is best. 

As they wait for the arrival of the twins, Annie and Leah begin working on a nine-patch crib quilt for the babies.  As they work on each square, they pray together and share stories inspired by the fruits of the Spirit.  What started as way to fill the time begins to hold a far greater significance! 

The Christmas Quilt is a wonderful story of faith and beautifully illustrates the fruits of the Spirit.  I love The Christmas Quilt and would love to visit the residents of Mifflin County again!  

Click to enjoy an excerpt from The Christmas Quilt.
 
 

Vannetta has graciously answered a few more of my questions.  Please read the interview below.

 
VannettaChapman
 

1.  In The Christmas Quilt, we return to Mifflin County and catch up with Annie and Samuel and the other residents, whom we grew to know and love while reading A Simple Amish Christmas.  Do you enjoy revisiting characters when you are writing?

Yes, especially since there was a 3 year period between the two books. This was a wonderful chance for me to show how my characters had changed, grown closer in some instances, and encountered problems in others. Through it all, their faith is a major component.

2.  I love the significance of the Christmas quilt and its squares.  Are you a quilter and/or do you have any quilts that are meaningful to you?

I am a beginning quilter, which means that I’m doing wall hangings and lap quilts at this point. I love doing it. On days when I finish my writing early, I reward myself with an hour of two of quilting. As far as special quilts, I have several. One is the nine patch quilt a friend made for me as I wrote The Christmas Quilt. She pieced and quilted it by hand, and I definitely treasure it. I also have quilts that were my grandmother’s and her mother’s. These are a sweet connection to our ancestors.

3.  Can you share with us one of your favorite Christmas memories?

My husband had a torn retina a few years ago. It required surgery, and then several days lying horizontal, and then when he was up and about still no driving. So I took him to see Christmas lights. I look at Christmas lights at the same speed I go through a museum–rather quickly. We were zip zipping around the lighted neighborhoods in our town, when Bob finally admitted he was getting dizzy. Oh we laughed about that, and I slowed down a little. But it’s a good reminder of my need to enjoy the moment a little more, especially at Christmas time. 

4.  What can we look forward to reading from you next?

I actually have two books releasing in March. Murder Simply Brewed is book one in my new Amish mystery series and will be set in Middlebury, Indiana.  Where Healing Blooms is part of a novel collection, An Amish Garden. You can view both of these on my Amazon page at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_16?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=vannetta+chapman&sprefix=Vannetta+chapman%2Cstripbooks%2C235

As a special treat, Vannetta has shared a character post with us.  The following is an interview with Annie Weaver Yoder. 

1. What is the most interesting things about you?   Some might say that the most interesting thing about me is that I’m a nurse, and I’m Amish. Those two things don’t usually go together – but I earned my high school equivalency and nursing certification while I was living with my aunt. I suppose you’d say I was on my rumspringa then. Actually, I was just following my heart, and soon my heart led me home. I think the most interesting thing about me is that I’m surrounded by a loving family, including my  husband, Samuel.  

2. What do you do for fun?   I love to quilt! I’m not the best quilter in my family—that would be my mamm. I love to do it though, and when I’m not helping Samuel with his patients, cooking, or cleaning then I am quilting. Right now I’m working on a nine patch crib quilt for my brother’s wife, Leah.

3. What do you put off because you dread it?   I will admit that I dread going to visit Rachel, Samuel’s sister-in-law. She is a sad, bitter woman and try as I might we’ve yet to become friends. When I’m with her, I’m at a loss for what to say, and when I leave, I wish that I could have thought of some way to brighten the situation.

4. What are you afraid of most in life?   I think the natural answer would be death—but after working in the hospital I know that death is a part of life. Perhaps I knew that even before I pursued my nursing certification. Since we are Amish, we believe that each person’s life is complete when they die, that God is all-knowing. Sometimes I think about my father’s accident, and how I wasn’t here to help him. Then I grow afraid that something similar could occur again. When those thoughts plague me, I know that praying is the only thing that will ease my heart.

5. What do you want out of life?   To be with my family—all of my family. Samuel and I are expecting a boppli, so this is a very exciting time. What I want more than anything is for our child to be raised in this circle of love that includes my parents, brothers and sisters, and friends.

6. What is the most important thing to you?   My faith. I know that without my faith I would be floundering through life. The scripture is what guides me. I’m grateful that I was raised in a house of faith, and that each day brings me a little closer to my Lord.

7. Do you read? If so, what is your favorite type of book to read?   I do read—a lot! I read all sorts of things—nursing books and articles, quilting books (even Amish enjoy new patterns), and I also like to read a good fiction book. We visit the small library in our town quite often.

8. If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?   I’ve been trying to learn to slow down. Now that I’m 23 and expecting a child, I shouldn’t run around like a small child. I’m trying to remember to measure my steps and think before reacting. That’s hard for me, as I become caught up in whatever is occurring and my first reaction is to act—not always the best thing.

9. Do you have a pet? if so, what is it and why that pet?   We do not have pets in the traditional sense, though I wouldn’t be surprised if Samuel purchased a hunting dog. He’s been looking at them lately, though he thinks I don’t know that. I suppose our horses are like pets though, as we spend a lot of time caring for them and we depend on them for transportation. My mare’s name is Beni. She is a quarter horse, 14.2 hands high and  6 years old, sorrel colored.

10. If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?   I would go to the night of my father’s accident, when his buggy was hit by a car. I would be with him, to care for him as he lay in the snow. But I can’t go back, and I’m grateful that Gotte used that incident to bring Samuel and me together.

 

 Thank you so much, Vannetta!  Happy holidays to you and your family!

I received a complimentary copy of this book from Abingdon Press.  All thoughts expressed are my own and no monetary compensation was received.