Love Comes in Unexpected Packages Four childhood friends from Mistletoe, Montana, made a pact to find true love by their twenty-eighth Christmas. As the deadline looms, each woman keeps busy with expanding careers and experiences that threaten to douse their Christmas spirit – as well as their chances for romance.
Christmas Confusion by Lena Nelson Dooley
Lori Compton, mayor of Mistletoe, needs ideas for ways to prop up the sagging economy. After having her heart broken by the former pastor, she doesn’t want to spend time with the new pastor. Rev. Russell Brown has plenty of ideas, even one that includes his spending the rest of his life with the beautiful mayor. Will Lori be able to move beyond her hurts and recognize God’s intentions for the future of the town – and for her own future?
Return to Mistletoe by Debby Mayne
Deanna Moss assumes Frank is the man she’ll marry, until her old flame, Anthony Carson, arrives in town on business. Their attraction is as strong as ever, but she doesn’t want her heart to be broken again. Anthony has a reputation for not staying in one place for long. Deanna loves Mistletoe and wants to protect not only her heart but the place she loves from people who only care about the bottom line. Will Anthony ever convince Deanna that he’s serious about loving her and making Mistletoe his permanent home?
Under the Mistletoe by Lisa Harris
When Madison Graham leaves the quaint town of Mistletoe for New York City to buy products for her year-round Christmas store, Under the Mistletoe, she’s positive she has met her man. Albert Kendall is everything she’s ever dreamed of: successful, good-looking, and well off. But is worldly success really what she’s looking for in a man, or have the bright lights of the city so blinded her that she’s forgotten the real meaning of Christmas?
All I Want for Christmas Is. . .You by Kim Vogel Sawyer
When Kathy Morgan returns to her childhood home of Mistletoe for a stroll down memory lane before accepting the marriage proposal of her business-partner boyfriend, she doesn’t expect to have her world turned upside down. But local postman Erik Hoffman ends up delivering more than mail – he delivers the disturbing message that Kathy needs to get her heart back in order with her Savior. Although Kathy resists Erik’s advice at first, she slowly comes to realize he’s right – what she need most for Christmas isn’t a husband; it’s faith.
When Romance Arrives in Unexpected Packages, will Each Woman Be Able to Accept the Gift?
Below is a interview with three of the four ladies who wrote this book. Lena Nelson Dooley, Kim Vogal Sawyer and Debby Mayne, Lisa Harris was unreachable do to travels.
1) Tell me a little about yourself.
Lena: I’m married to the love of my life and have been for almost 43 years. We have two daughters, two sons-in-law, two grandsons, two granddaughters, one granddaughter-in-law, and just last month a great grandson. We live in Texas and love to travel. We’re active in a wonderful church. Several times a year, I have a speaking engagement.
Debby: My husband and I will celebrate our 27th wedding anniversary in October.We have 2 grown daughters–one married and one a senior in college. OurChristian faith has kept us focused on what’s important in life, sowe’ve managed to weather the many storms of life without too many scars.I work as a product writer for a television retail network, and I writebooks. Several times a year, I judge contests for Writer’s Digest. In myspare time, I read, go for long walks, and experiment with new recipes.
Kim: I am a wife, mother, grandmother (of four of the cutest little boys in the world!), lover of chocolate, singer of songs, and…most importantly…a born-again child of the King! I taught for many years before God called me out of my classroom to live out my childhood dream of writing, and I praise Him every day for the opportunity.
2) How long have you been a author?
Lena: God told me to become a professional writer in the middle 1980s. I’ve been a novelist almost that long.
Debby: My first article appeared in a newspaper when I was a teenager. I’vebeen a published book author since 2000.
Kim: I’ve been a WRITER my whole life. :o) I self-published a novel in 2002, and the reader feedback gave me the encouragement to actively pursue traditional publishing. I signed my first contract in May of 2005, and I’ve been writing full-time since June of 2006.
3) Tell me a little about your publication journey.
Lena: You can read about how God told me to become a professional writer on the main page of my web site: http://www.lenenelsondooley.com/ It took 8 years to get my first book published. Then God took me away from fiction, and I wrote a lot of curriculum for several companies. Then my second novel came out t10 years after that first one. In the next five years, I had 15 book releases.
Debby: I dabbled at writing for publication for many years, but I got seriousabout it immediately after the birth of my first child in 1983, when Istarted writing parenting articles. I’ve had almost 100 articles appearin regional parenting publications. I continued looking foropportunities to publish short stories and articles while working on thecraft of writing books that people would actually want to read. It tookalmost 5 years from when I submitted my first manuscript to sell myfirst book. A week after I made my first book sale, a second publishercalled with an offer for my second one.
Kim: If I started, I would take up waaaay too much space. lol! Let me just say that God’s plans and my plans weren’t exactly on the same page, but over the years God taught me HIS plans are best. It took quite a bit of time…and His miraculous intervention in my life…to prepare me for publication. I understand now that writing is my ministry rather than my creative outlet, and I’m so glad I waited for His timing to see this dream realized.
4) In your writing career have you ever had any big publishing mistakes?
Lena: Yes, I had sent a complete manuscript to an editor, who had requested it. Her letter back wasn’t an acceptance letter, but I didn’t realize until much later that it wasn’t really a rejection later either. By the time I learned that she was just asking for me to make some changes and send it back, it was way too late. She was no longer with the company. It helps to know other authors so they can help you evaluate what’s going on in your writing life.
Debby: I’m sure I have, but I try not to look back. It’s too easy to stumblewhen I look over my shoulder.
Kim: Hm, I don’t know if you’d call it a mistake, but my very first submission accompanied a letter that read something like, “Here is my story. Please pubish it and send me a copy of the book when you’re done.” Of course, I was only 11 years old at the time!
5) Your new book is a collection of four Christmas stories, called Montana Mistletoe. How did your story for the collection come about?
Lena: The idea for the collection came from Lisa Harris. She had some ideas for what the stories could be about. I chose the one that resonated with me.
Debby: The four of us worked hard at coming up with characters who would befriends in this town, and we needed plausible situations for the premisethat these women would find true love. Because of the town’s Christmastheme, having my heroine being tourism director and the nostalgic herolonging to return seemed likely to me.
Kim: Christmas is my favorite time of year, so when Lena Dooley put out the call for authors to join her in a Christmas novella set, I jumped at the chance. When I heard the premise, I immediately thought about a friend who’d drifted away from the others finding her way back into their circle of friendship. I included a couple of personal, real-life events in the story and dedicated it to the two friends involved in those events. That was fun. :o)
6) What is the hardest thing about writing a story for a novella collection?
Lena: I’ve been in two different kinds of novella collections. Those where the stories are disconnected, and those where the stories are closely linked. It’s easier to write the former one, but readers really like the ones that are linked. That presents all kinds of problems that you have to work through with the team. In this collection, we worked really well together, and I believe the collection is better because of that.
Debby: All four authors had to stay in constant communication to keep thetime-lines and geography consistent. We did quite a bit of preliminarywork to make sure the whole book worked. Afterward, we read each other’sstories in sequential order to catch anything that seemed out of place.It required extra work, but I feel that it was totally worth it.
Kim: This was my first novella experience, and I really enjoyed it! The hardest part was making sure everything meshed–not only time-line-wise, but details-wise. If Flossie’s (a cafe) is at this place on the square in story one, then it has to still be there in story four. Lisa put together a “map” of the town for us that really helped.
7) What do you want your readers to take away from your story?
Lena: That God’s ways are much better than your plans.
Debby: My stories always show hope for people who believe in Christ.
Kim: There is NOTHING in life that will satisfy us as much as a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ.
8) I have noticed that Christmas is a fairly popular theme for the new September releases. Do you have a favorite Christmas moment you would like to share?
Lena: When our children were young, we always read the Christmas story from Luke and Matthew and placed the emphasis on the Lord before we opened presents. Then when the girls married and had children of their own, for many years, we all attended a Christmas Eve Communion and Candlelight service at our church. This was a high point of the holiday season.
Debby: I love every Christmas because the whole family goes to church onChristmas Eve then we spend Christmas day together.
Kim: As I said earlier, I love Christmas, and I have dozens of wonderful Christmas moments. A recent joy was sending a children’s story my dad had written many years ago to a print-on-demand company and having a dozen copies of it printed for him. One of his former students (Dad was an educator for over 45 years!) did the cover design. Seeing Daddy’s face light up when he held that book for the first time was very precious to me.
9) What is the best piece of advice you have received as a writer?
Lena: Don’t compare your writing or your success to that of other writers. God has a unique journey for each of us.
Debby: Don’t give up and continue to learn. We can only control a few things,among them the quality of our own writing and our reaction to the wayothers receive our writing.
Kim: PERSEVERE. All the talent in the world will get you no where if you quit, so hang in there.
10) What has been your worst piece of advice you have received?
Lena: I don’t remember any of the advice as being bad. I do evaluate each thing in light of what God is telling me about my journer.
Debby: Stop writing and get a “real” job.
Kim: “If you want to be published, you’ll have to write edgy, suspenseful fiction.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that kind of book, but it doesn’t match my voice. I needed to stay true to the voice God gave me, so I’m glad I didn’t follow that advice.
11) Do you have any new books in the works for us to look forward too?
Lena: My next release will be in October. It’s a Heartsong Presents book, Who Am I?, and it’s a suspense. And I’m in another Christmas collection that will come out next September, Snowbound Colorado Christmas, set in the early 1900s.
Debby: After Montana Mistletoe, I have 2 Heartsong Presents coming up soon. Mynext one is DOUBLE BLESSING, going out to Heartsong subscribers in earlyOctober and available to non-subscribers a few months afterward. Then IFTHE DRESS FITS will go to subscribers in June 2008.
Kim: Thank you for asking! In October, the second in the Sommerfeld Trilogy, Beginnings, will release by Barbour, followed by Kansas Weddings (a compilation of my three Heartsong titles) in December, and after the first of the year the final book in the Sommerfeld Trilogy, Blessings, will come out, as well as an historical from Bethany House called My Heart Remembers. So I have a lot to anticipate!
I want to say thanks you to all three lovely ladies for answering my questions. I encourage you to follow the Montana Mistletoe blog interviews to enter in a chance to win a copy of Montana Mistletoe.