Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Hello world,

This week I'm posting something a little different. Irene Brand and Anita Higman each have a Christmas novella in the new 2-in-1 compilation entitled, Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe. Also, both novellas are interconnected. In this Q&A, they tell us about that process.

1. 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

2. 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.)

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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

9. 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.

10. Where can readers find you online?

Anita: I would love for folks to drop by my website at


About Anita:

Anita is the bestselling and award-winning author of 28 books (several coauthored) for adults and children. She has been honored in the past as a Barnes & Noble “Author of the Month” for Houston, and her latest coauthored book, Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe, was on the Nielsen’s bestseller list for five weeks as well as #6 on the CBA bestseller list (for fiction in January, 2011). Some of Anita’s publishers are Guideposts/Summerside Press, Barbour Publishing, Bethany House, McGraw-Hill, Roman & Littlefield, Lillenas Drama, and Simon & Schuster/Howard Publishing. She also has contributions in eleven nonfiction compilations.

One of Anita’s coauthored books entitled, A Tribute to Early Texas, has won a San Antonio Conservation Society Citation as well as a Westerners International Book Award. She was named a Favorite New Author in the 15th Annual Heartsong Presents Awards, and in the 16th Annual Heartsong Presents Awards her coauthored novel, Castles in the Air, was one of the winners in the Favorite Contemporary Romance category. Also Anita contributed to an animation script that won a Gold Remi Award.

Her novel, Love Finds You in Humble Texas, was chosen by Crossings Book Club and is now available in hardback and large print editions. Anita and the novel, Love Finds You in Humble Texas were featured on The Harvest Show, a Christian program with eight million regular viewers.

Anita has won two awards for her contribution to literacy and has raised thousands of dollars for literacy with her book, I Can Be Anything, while serving on the board of directors of Literacy Advance of Houston.

Anita Higman has written for radio, ezine, and advertising. She also cohosts a show on blogtalkradio called the In Faith Network, which reaches 80,000 listeners. She has a B.A. degree combining speech communication, psychology, and art from SNU, and she is a member of ACFW as well as The Writer’s View.

About Irene:

Irene has been publishing inspirational fiction since 1984. She was one of the four launch authors of the Promise Romance series started by Thomas Nelson in 1984. She also came on board the Steeple Hill team in the sixth month of their publication, with their 18th inspirational romance, in 1998. My Love Finds You in Valentine, Nebraska (2008) was the third book published by Summerside Press. This novel reached #32 on the Nielsen's latest list. And my novella, “An Appalachian Christmas,” was included in the first anthology published by Summerside Press, Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe, which was released on September 1, 2010. Irene also reached #6 on the January 2011 CBS Best Sellers list of Christian novels.

You can read one of her and Anita's e-books, Christmas: All Things Bright and Beautiful, for free. In it you will find a collection of quotes, family recipes, traditions, and memories about the coming season.

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!

~ Angela ~
No Rules. No Formulas. Just Love.

"Mile High to Heaven" and "Mr. & Mrs. Foster" available at Whiskey Creek Press Torrid.