Before you read the guestblog article by Ann Gabhart below, I want to remind you to leave a comment on this post and on yesterday’s post where I did a review of this great book if you want to be entered into the drawing for a chance to win a copy. Drawing to be held next Sunday, Dec. 8th to US mailing addresses only, so make sure to leave an email or other way to contact you if you are the winner.
Seeking the Christmas Story Spirit by Ann H. Gabhart
Even before Halloween ghosts glide out of sight down Trick or Treat Street, Christmas decorations start popping up in the stores. By Thanksgiving, the ads with shopping reminders and gift hints are tattered with age. But the spirit of Christmas is always fresh in the new Christmas novellas that hit the stores this time of year.
There have always been Christmas stories from that very first Christmas story set in a Bethlehem stable, now read millions of times. Perhaps we love Christmas stories so much because of how we want to embrace the true meaning and spirit of Christmas even as we scurry around doing all the busy things we must do at Christmas time.
I had never considered writing a Christmas story. So when, several years ago, my editor suggested I write a Shaker Christmas book, I had no idea if I would be able to do that or not. My agent told me to just make it like a Hallmark movie. Sweet. Gentle. With a touching love story. Right there, I was in trouble since if you know anything about the Shakers, you know they didn’t abide romantic love among their members. Once again, as with my other Shaker stories, I had to find a way to slip my love story in the back way of my Shaker village. I went a little farther with this story and slipped in a heroine who is with child.
My research into how the Shakers celebrated Christmas in the 1860’s opened up more story ideas. Every year shortly before Christmas, the Shakers observed a day of atonement they called Sacrifice Day. On this day, they were to leave behind any grudges, hard feelings and disaffection toward their brothers or sisters. They were to ask forgiveness from those they had wronged and from the Lord. Anything that was settled on Sacrifice Day could never again be brought forward against anyone in their family of believers. They were also to offer forgiveness fully and completely to those they felt had done harm against them. All this fit in with my story’s theme of forgiveness.
Somewhere along the way as I was writing, I must have mislaid my agent’s advice. I doubt readers would classify Christmas at Harmony Hill as sweet or gentle. I’d be pleased if they found the love story touching, and I do hope my heroine looking forward to the birth of her baby and thinking about how Mary might have had similar feelings awaiting the birth of Jesus gives the story an underlying Christmas theme.
Still, Christmas at Harmony Hill is more historical novel than the usual Christmas novella. The story’s set in December 1864 with the Civil War drawing to a close. Gideon is still fighting for the Union Army while Heather returns home to have their baby. When she finds no welcome at her father’s house, she seeks shelter in the Shaker village where her aunt Sophrena, the Shaker journalist in The Gifted, has lived for many years. Sister Sophrena is ready to help Heather even as she is beginning to doubt her own Shaker walk. And so Christmas comes to Harmony Hill.
Do you read Christmas stories? What do you like best about them? Do you only read them at Christmas time or are you willing to read them any time of the year? One reader told me she liked to read them in July, that it kept her cool.
Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and much joy in the coming year!
ANN H. GABHART, the author of several bestselling novels, has been called a storyteller, not a bad thing for somebody who never wanted to do anything but write down stories. She’s published twenty-six novels for adults and young adults with more stories on the way. She keeps her keyboard warm out on a farm in Kentucky where she lives with her husband, Darrell. They have three children, three in-law children, and nine grandchildren. To find out more about Ann or her books visit www.annhgabhart.com. Check out her blog, One Writer’s Journal, www.annhgabhart.blogspot.com or follow her on Facebook, www.facebook.com/AnnGabhart, Twitter, https://twitter.com/AnnHGabhart , or Pinterest, http://pinterest.com/annhgabhart/.
thanks for the chance to read this wonderful Christmas story, rose.
kmkuka at yahoo dot com
Would love to be a winner.
Would love to be a winner.
Hi, Karen. Those boys in blue haven’t found it as easy as they expected, but they’re doing okay. Always fun to hear from you. Good luck in the drawing.
Good luck, Carolyn. Thanks for coming over to read my post.
Merry Christmas Rose and Ann, I love the small town on your blog, I came from small town in Ky and now live rural area in Ga smaller then where I grew up…Thanks for your comments Rose on this author and her book, I am a fan and want to read this one too…
Still hoping to win Ann’s christmas book :)
Thanks for this opportunity
Hello Rose. Love your name, as I love roses. Thanks for asking a favorite author of mine as your guest. I love this sweet lady. A very caring person. She has many good books and if you other ladies haven’t read her books you really should. She definitely is a Storyteller. I would sure love to read this newest book Ann. Hoping to be the winner. Of course the others do too. But, just maybe this will be my time.
Thanks for the give-away.
Paula, Rose does have a neat banner on her blog, doesn’t she? Always so good to see your comments. I appreciate you checking out my guest posts.
Loretta, maybe this will be your lucky time unless it’s Maxie’s lucky time. :)
Right, Maxie? I do so appreciate you coming over to read my guest blog. And you’re so sweet to encourage others to read my stories, Maxie. Thanks so much.And maybe this will be your lucky time.
Would love to win, love to read. Thank you
Enjoyed your blog post, & learning more about Sacrifice Day – reminded me that God expects me, as a Christian, to observe Sacrifice Day – daily!
I love Christmas books, buy a new one every year, & while I read them, primarily, at Christmas – can enjoy them ANY day of the year, just because I love reading. There are several reasons why I love Christmas books: there is usually a happy message contained within, they bring to mind – warm & cozy feelings, & happy memories of Christmas in previous years (when my grandparents were alive), & they remind me, once again – of the eternal gift of salvation that was given to me, through God’s gift to the world – Jesus.
Thanks to all you ladies for visiting my blog, and thanks for liking my small town header, Paula O. Hope you all will come back, and check next Sunday to see if you are the winner. And be sure to buy Ann’s book if you don’t win. It is a keeper!
Thanks for coming over, Rhonda. Good luck in the drawing next weekend.
Bonnie, always fun to read your comments and what you have to say. Thanks for sharing what you like about Christmas stories. I like some of those things you mentioned in any story. Merry Christmas!
Great post! Would love to win!
I love Christmas books, especially ones that include snow! Rhonda
Thanks, Susan and good luck in the drawing.
Rhonda, it’s been fun hearing what some of you like to see in a Christmas story. My story has snow, but I’m not sure it’s the lovely White Christmas type snow. :) Thanks for coming over to read the post.
Hi Ann, thank you for giving me a chance to win a Christmas book i love Christmas story so very much. A great interview with Anita Higman. God blessings.