Happy November! How has fall been for you? I had the best time traveling to Wisconsin to meet our new granddaughter, Grace. It was our first time flying to Milwaukee and driving to the Prairie Du Sac area, and I’m a fan! Everyone was so nice. I completely understand the midwest spirit.
I also prepared Restoring Christmas for release. This inspy romance novella first appeared in last year’s boxed set, A Christmas to Remember. If you grabbed the box set last year, you have Restoring Christmas. If you missed out, I really believe Restoring Christmas will put you in the holiday mood.
When I was promoting the boxed set, I confessed that my writing goals were never to be a famous bestseller with my own cardboard cutout at a bookstore chain or have lines of people waiting for me to sign their book. No, my biggest wish was to have an author or a group of authors I trusted invite me to be part of—a Christmas boxed set. As you can imagine, I enjoyed every moment of the experience.
Well, I admit I have another bucket list wish, and I feel funny saying so. In my imagination, someone from Hallmark movies discovers my work and begs me to lend my books to their brand. I’m probably not the first author to want that, but I might be the rare author that usually watches action movies more than romance! I love writing and reading romance, but when I watch movies with my husband, they are either Fast and Furious, or something from Marvel. Go figure!
Anyway, when reviews came out last year, one remarked that Restorng Christmas reminded them of a Hallmark movie. That stayed with me because I can’t think of a higher compliment. You have a small, college town in Upstate New York. There’s a holiday-themed Christmas attraction in need of repair. Two grieving family members. A special education teacher. An ex who carries a lot of weight over the mansion’s future. My favorite? A group of students committed to bringing the Christmas Mansion back to its glory.
Here’s the Restoring Christmas blurb:
Holly Christmas left Geneseo Valley and her family’s holiday tourist attraction, The Christmas Mansion, as soon as she graduated. Now both her parents have passed, and Holly returns when her uncle needs her help running the mansion. On Holly’s first day back, a blunt middle-schooler proclaims Holly hates Christmas. His comment forces her to reconcile the past while planning for the mansion’s future.
Kevin Holt is invested in offering hope to students with challenges. His best friend’s son is in Kevin’s class, and Noah needs guidance. Their community project placement at The Christmas Mansion is an opportunity to make a positive difference. When Noah blurts out his thoughts to the beautiful co-owner, Kevin wonders if he has what it takes to help restore the mansion to its former glory, mentor Noah, and convince Holly Christmas she’s exactly where she needs to be.
Here’s an excerpt of Restorng Christmas:
If Holly Christmas’ heart was in charge, returning to Geneseo Valley never would have happened. She slowed her Subaru Forester and blinked away fresh tears. The car shook as Holly wavered between the brake and accelerator. If memories alone could steer, the car would be parked in the lot she had played in since she could walk.
With her uncle expecting her, she cruised into the parking area adjacent to the family business. Holly found a space to stop thanks to faded yellow lines. Dabbing her eyes and cheeks with a tissue, she grabbed her planner, slung her purse over her shoulder, and got out. With a deep breath, she faced the historic mansion ahead of her.
The crunch of late September leaves marked her tentative steps toward the main entrance. Glancing ahead, she noted the overgrown weeds and bushes out front in desperate need of a pruning. The once red and white striped pole showed rust spots and the red faded to pink. The sign that once proudly displayed the tourist destination was now a rotted piece of splinter. The engraving was more of a petri dish for moss and algae, making it barely readable.
Welcome to Christmas Mansion.
Holly stopped, a shudder zigzagged from head to toe. Re-gaining her balance, she kept her focus on the cement steps as she sidestepped a jagged chunk in the path. The porch still featured the wooden soldier she stood next to every year to mark how much she’d grown. The stiff greeter was a shell of his former holiday glory, nearly as faded as everything else. She opened the almost pink colored door and sighed at the sound of a sinister squeak. This isn’t the Christmas Mansion. It’s a Halloween spook house.
Fighting the urge to run back to her car and her life in Ohio, Holly cleared her throat. “Uncle Nick? It’s Holly. Are you here?”
She glanced around the lobby, the same register with a bell sound she pushed as a teen after a customer purchase. Dusty shelves housed a potpourri of holiday items—candles, snow globes, and ornaments thrown together in complete chaos.
Before she could investigate further, a shuffle echoed from the hallway and her uncle entered. “Holly? I can’t believe it, right here in Upstate New York. What an answer to prayer.” The cobalt blue glint in his eyes reminded her of her father.
She stepped into her uncle’s hug, surprised by his emotion as he held onto her arms and gazed into her eyes. “I don’t know about answer to prayer, but things changed with my job, and I thought it was a good time to help out.” She waved her hands with animation. “Here I am!”
The younger Christmas brother nodded. “I’ve tried to keep things going after your father passed, but I can’t even fit into his Santa suit.”
Holly smiled as she glanced at his thin frame. “A few cookies from Mrs. Olson will take care of that.” The volunteer greeter was a Geneseo Valley legend for her sugar cookies.
His smile disappeared. “You didn’t hear? Mrs. Olson passed in July. That’s one of the many things I need to do—find a new greeter. Then there’s a landscaping team. I know it’s September, but it won’t be long until school kids visit.” He scratched his balding head. “I did take care of one thing. I arranged for a group from a local school to get the gift shop back in order. Your father was so beloved as Chris Christmas that everyone seemed to overlook the haphazard way he organized the shop.”
Holly attempted to tame the rolling waves in her stomach. Mrs. Olson was a Christmas Mansion staple as much as her father was all about dressing up as Santa and entertaining. Her grin didn’t last long. She didn’t need to tour the mansion to know the entire place was a mess. The financial state most likely wasn’t much better. “Great. The students will have their work cut out for them. I still have unpacking to do at the house, but the place still opens at eight on weekdays, right?”
Uncle Nick hesitated. “Yes, but…”
She fished the keys out of her purse. “Great. I’ll be ready to start tomorrow.” Before she could find her sunglasses, the front door burst open and a choir of adolescent chatter filled the lobby. Kids who looked to be around junior high age swarmed the area, pointing at the shelves and leaning on the glass case that housed the register. “Uncle Nick?”
Before he could speak, among the chaos emerged a man with a red and black plaid flannel shirt. His wavy black locks bobbed as he whistled. All the students froze and focused on him with the same intensity Holly gave. The mesmerizing stranger pulled out his phone, opened a screen, and traced his finger down the screen before looking up. “Hi. I’m supposed to meet with a Nick Christmas?”
I hope the excerpt leaves you wanting more. Tell me if you are a Hallmark movie fan or not and I’ll choose one winner to receive Restoring Christmas. USA winner can choose between print or eBook International winner receives an eBook.