Thanksgiving is next week, which means it’s definitely time to think about Christmas stories! A couple of years ago, I shared a two-part story by Valerie Comer and Angela Breidenbach called Snowflake Tiara. It was a fun book, and I am excited to see that Valerie has released a sequel! We have the privilege of visiting with her about it today, but before we begin, here’s a quick look at Other Than a Halo.
(Christmas in Montana Romance, book 2)
Even though she’s a new woman in Christ, single mom Bren Haddock was no angel as a teen. Now managing the Hiller Farm for a CSA, life is good until a friend offers to enter her daughter into the Little Miss Snowflake Pageant. Old insecurities flare when she meets the intriguing head of marketing for the pageant.
Rob Santoro isn’t so sure about handling the pageant portfolio until he meets Bren. Soon he’s fallen for her and her two kids, but when a Thanksgiving adventure goes awry, he’s left wondering how to love a woman who refuses to be loved.
What will it take for Bren to retire her tarnished halo and move into a fulfilling, forgiven future?
Welcome back, Valerie! What inspired you to write this series, or this novel in particular?
My friend Angela Breidenbach and I released Snowflake Tiara, a historical/contemporary duo, just over two years ago. As we’d planned, we’ve left the duo for sale but also released our short novels individually, although it took me until October, 2016, to release More Than a Tiara on its own. I knew I wanted to use it to kick off a series of Christmas stories. It didn’t take long for the remaining titles to come to me — Other Than a Halo and Better Than a Crown — and I knew who the next heroine would be.
Single mom Bren Haddock was a good friend of the heroine in the first novel. The title Other Than a Halo seemed to suit her, but I was struggling to figure out the main themes of the story or what kind of hero would best suit her. Then I realized I’d mentioned Rob Santoro in the Urban Farm Fresh Romance series. When I began wondering why Rob had left the bosom of his large Italian family in the (fictional) Spokane neighborhood of Bridgeview, the story began clicking into place.
I had so much fun writing Bren and Rob’s Christmas romance, including the scenes with her two kids, Davy (9) and Lila (7)!
I love those little connections between the stories! Why did you choose this particular setting, and have you been there?
The setting was chosen before Snowflake Tiara was written several years ago. Helena, Montana, was the wealthiest city in the world per capita in 1889 (the year Angie’s half of Snowflake Tiara took place) due to the discovery of gold in Last Chance Gulch.
We visited Helena together, took many photos, and explored both the downtown area and the mansion district at length. The State Capitol building is breathtaking, and so is the Cathedral of St Helena. It was fun to use these settings within the stories set there.
What a fun trip that would be! Tell us a little about yourself. Paper or e-reader? There are certainly pros and cons to each. Which is your favorite?
E-reader for this girl. There are a few reasons. One, we live in a very small house. Though we have many built-in bookshelves, they’re all jammed full already, and there isn’t room for more! Two, we live in a remote/rural area with little access to paperback books. Three (and most important), I have poor eyesight, so I love that I can set my e-reader to make reading as easy as possible. Honestly, I’d have had to give up reading for pleasure by now if it weren’t for e-readers, so I’m extremely thankful for their invention! After working on my own stories all day, I read fiction by other authors for at least an hour every evening.
I can’t even fathom having to give up reading. Oh, the adventures we would miss!! Authors are busy people. How do you juggle all of the demands on your time, so that you can maintain your sanity?
Sanity is over-rated!
Okay, that might not have been the answer you were looking for. I find it vital to protect my prime writing time, which is mornings on my husband’s work days. Continuing to write and produce new material is the most important facet of my business. Some days the writing flows into the afternoons, depending on when my next deadline is, or how the creative juices are flowing. Other business tasks take up afternoons and sometimes evenings, while I try to keep my husband’s days off as free from work as I can. It’s not always possible, but I put in a good effort!
It sounds like you’ve found a schedule that builds in both consistency and balance, which is awesome! Can you share about something you feel the Lord has been teaching you recently?
As I wrote Other Than a Halo, I realized that Bren had accepted salvation from Jesus but still clung to her tarnished halo, finding it hard to believe that God truly did not see her sin anymore. She felt she was lucky to be forgiven and shouldn’t expect anything more from her relationship with Him. Even though my life and my sins are different from Bren’s, I realized that I, too, am too often content to hang out on the fringes of God’s people instead of embracing the bounty and the beauty He longs to bestow on me.
If the devil can discourage us, and keep us from realizing who we are in Christ, he can minimize our effectiveness as believers. I don’t doubt that he’s hard at work with that effective “tool” in his pocket… Somewhat along those same lines, if you could offer a word of encouragement to an aspiring author, what would you say?
Don’t think of writing fiction as frivolous or non-spiritual. Jesus used stories to impress His truth on His listeners. He still uses stories to slide home truth that might be blocked if it came in a different way. Write what He lays on your heart.
Absolutely! If fiction had no value, Jesus wouldn’t have employed it… 😉 Thanks so much for taking the time to visit with us again today, Valerie!
Your turn! When do you begin reading Christmas stories?
More about Valerie:
Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local food movement as well as their church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.
Valerie is a USA Today bestselling author and a two-time Word Award winner. She has been called “a stellar storyteller” as she injects experience laced with humor into her green clean romances.
Please visit me at valeriecomer.com to connect with me on social media, read my blog, and explore my many links. You may also subscribe to my email newsletter and receive a free Christmas short story called Peppermint Kisses.
Also by Valerie:
Marisa Hiller abandoned her modeling career to nurse a broken heart in Montana, far from the photographer who ruined everything. Her family farm is now part of a CSA program teaching gardening and cooking to single moms, but when the coordinator begs her to represent the program in the Miss Snowflake Pageant, Marisa balks.
Jase Mackie has long regretted the hot accusations he’d flung at Marisa over two years before. God has forgiven him but hasn’t answered his prayer to bring Marisa back into his life… until Jase finds himself out West as the official photographer for a beauty pageant, face to face with the woman he’s never forgotten.
Can Jase make amends for past mistakes and offer Marisa not only a tiara, but a partner in her crusade to help needy children and families?
‘Other Than a Halo’ Giveaway:
Valerie has generously offered to give away an e-copy of Other Than a Halo (or More Than a Tiara, if the winner hasn’t read that one yet!). Giveaways are subject to the Giveaway Policy.