Bonnie S. Calhoun
the Founder and Publisher of Christian Fiction Online
Magazine . She is also the Owner and Director of the Christian
Fiction Blog Alliance which is the parent organization for
Meet the Authors
Anita, you and Irene Brand coauthored a Christmas book together—a two-in-one collection of novellas entitled Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe. Tell us how this collaboration came about:
Anita: Well, the publisher thought this kind of collaboration would do well in the marketplace. Irene and I were already working on our Christmas stories when were asked to do this project together. It worked out well, since I feel my story is stronger because of the publisher’s idea. And Irene and I got along really well. In fact, we’ve become long-distance friends!
Irene: I was planning a 90,000-word romance novel with a Mistletoe, Kentucky, setting. Anita was planning one with a Noel, Missouri, background. The Summerside Press editor approached us and asked if we would be willing to cut the size of our stories and publish them as novellas for their first venture into a Christmas anthology. After discussing the idea between ourselves, and with our agents, we agreed to do so.
Tell us about your individual novellas?
Anita: My story, Once Upon a Christmas Eve, is a love triangle. There are two men after one woman—a silver-tongued novelist who sweeps Holly off her feet, and the down-to-earth Owen Quigly, who’s been Holly’s best friend since they wore diapers. I’m not going to tell you who wins out.
Irene: My novella is a historical book, which takes place in 1946. Kentucky, as well as other areas in the United States, was returning to normal after the war. David Armstrong had served more than four years in the U. S. Army. Although, he’d seen a lot of the world, nothing looked as good to him as the Appalachian area of Kentucky. Julia Mayfield had also served her country by joining the WACS. Julia’s sister married a man from Mistletoe, who was killed during the war. Margaret’s sister also dies, leaving behind a son, who is two years old when Julia returns from overseas duty. Margaret’s dying wish was that Julia would take her son to see his grandparents in Mistletoe. She does, expecting to be in Kentucky no more than a week. She ends up staying for a lifetime.
In Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe you both tied your stories together. Did you work by phone or e-mail, and was it difficult to connect them?
Anita: We worked both by phone and e-mail. It was a very pleasant experience tying the two stories together. It was quite fun, really. We hope readers enjoy the ride.
Irene: We probably used e-mail more than the phone, but we did talk occasionally. It wasn’t difficult to connect them. Anita’s novella had a contemporary setting, but with a few changes in each of our stories, we made the connection.
How are the two novellas connected? Will telling us give away too many secrets about the story?
Anita: The stories are tied through the mistletoe, but no secrets are revealed by mentioning that fact.
Irene: Julia, the heroine of the Mistletoe novella, had paternal relatives living in Noel, Missouri. She sent a handcrafted mistletoe ball to a cousin. The mistletoe ball is a family heirloom by the time it’s featured in the second novella.
What do you hope readers will remember most about your stories?
Anita: I hope they laugh a little and maybe think warm and cozy Christmas thoughts. And most of all, I hope they come away with the knowledge that there is no human dilemma too messy for God to untangle.
Irene: Julia renewed her faith in God while she was in Mistletoe when she heard her first sermon after she came to the area. The pastor’s message was directed to the many people who were at a crossroads in the aftermath of the war. Her faith had faltered and almost died during the war years. When she came to Mistletoe, she was at a crossroads. I would like for my readers to realize that once we’re a child of God, He will keep us in the hollow of His hand.
I heard you created some unique promotional materials to go along with your Christmas book. Tell us about that.
Anita: E-books have become popular, and I thought giving away a free Christmas e-book might be a fun and unique way to promote our novella collection. The e-book is entitled Christmas—All Things Bright and Beautiful, and it’s full of family traditions, memories, recipes, and cozy Christmas thoughts. The gift book is on our websites and is free to view, download, print, or e-mail to a friend. We hope you enjoy it!
Irene: I enjoyed furnishing special Christmas food recipes in our gift book, as well as having an opportunity to share my Christian witness with people I may never meet this side of heaven.
Have you ever created anything like this before as a marketing tool?
Anita: Never. But it was fun to put together, and so far the response has been good enough that I might consider using this method of promotion with all my books.
Irene: This is the first time.
Do you think e-books will become a popular marketing tool in the future?
Anita: With the recent popularity of e-books, I think it will become a valuable marketing tool in the future.
Irene: Yes, I think they will. Several people have commented favorably after receiving the e-book. Most people like innovative ideas, and I think this idea is.
Where can people find this e-book?
Anita: Irene and I both have the free e-book on our websites. My site is www.anitahigman.com. I hope you’ll stop by and check it out.
Irene: Go to the home page of my website, www.irenebrand.com, scroll to the bottom, and you will find directions to the book.
Christmas is coming. What are some of your favorite things about this wonderful holiday?
Anita: I love being with my family, making crafts, listening to Christmas music (Josh Groban’s Noel is my favorite!), and generally being grateful for such a grace-filled holiday.
Irene: Christmas programs, family gatherings, carol singing, sharing gifts with friends, relatives, and those less fortunate than we are.
Any favorite movies surrounding the holiday?
Anita: The older I get the more I love the movie classic It’s a Wonderful Life. It never fails to get me into a Christmassy mood.
Irene: We watch more movies at Christmas than any other time of the year. These are all Hallmark movies, I believe. A Grandpa for Christmas; Boyfriend for Christmas; The Christmas Card; The Ultimate Gift; Christmas in Canaan; Sound of Music; Road to Christmas; What I Gave for Love; It’s a Wonderful Life.
Thank you for inviting us to chat on your online magazine! It’s an honor to be here. Irene and I hope your Christmas is filled with the joy of Christ and all things bright and beautiful!
Award-winning author, Anita Higman, has twenty-six books published (several coauthored) for adults and children, and she has been honored as a Barnes & Noble Author of the Month for Houston. Anita has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Her favorite things include exotic teas, movies, and all things Jane Austen.
Irene Brand has written Sunday School curriculum, edited a two-year series of mission curriculum, and her works have appeared in five program-material anthologies. Her publishers include Zondervan, Standard Publishing, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Fleming-Revell, Barbour Publishing, Kregel Publications, Steeple Hill (inspirational imprint of Silhouette), and Summerside Press. She has had 4 non-fiction books published, and 43 fiction works. Her first inspirational romance was published in 1984.