Unwrapping Hope ~ Sandra Ardoin

I am privileged to be on Sandra Ardoin’s launch team for her latest release, Unwrapping Hope. Squee! I’m sure you’re going to love this one. Let’s get started!

Book Description

Phoebe Crain, an accomplished pianist, lives in near poverty to protect her five-year-old daughter from scandal. When Phoebe receives a handcrafted cigar box by mistake, her desperation to give the child something special for Christmas drives her to suggest a trade with Spence Newland, a man she views as no more principled than her daughter’s late father. But the more time she spends with the department store heir, the more Phoebe struggles to keep up her guard against him.

Spence believes the cigar box will help him gain a reclusive investor’s financial support for his proposed five-and-ten-cent stores, demonstrating his ability to manage the family fortunes. Yet he hesitates to bargain with a widow who mistrusts him for no apparent reason…until he meets a charming little girl at the train station who awaits the arrival of a prince.

Will a betrayal in Phoebe’s past and Spence’s unraveling plans derail their hope for happiness and keep a child’s fairy tale from coming true?

My thoughts

Novellas have been the perfect read for me this year. Even better were the historical Christian fiction stories. And Sandra Ardoin’s Unwrapping Hope didn’t disappoint. I loved her stories and her characters. All of them!

Ardoin drew me in with breadcrumbs bursting with promises and led me to the perfect ending. Along the way, I empathized with Phoebe as she struggled with the answers to her problems. I cheered for Spence as he chased his dreams. And in the middle of all this book love, I fell for a little sprite waiting at the train station.

Unwrapping Hope is a refreshing story of love, forgiveness, and mercy that you will not want to miss!

I received a copy from the author, but I pre-ordered my own Kindle edition. All opinions are my own.

5 Stars

Here’s that link:

Unwrapping Hope by @SandraArdoin is a refreshing story of love, forgiveness, and mercy! 5 stars #bookreview #newreleases

Women of Faith and Fiction ~ Sandra Ardoin

Good morning, dear reader. Welcome to Women of Faith and Fiction Tuesday. This morning we’re talking with author Sandra Ardoin. I am thankful to call her friend. She’s as beautiful on the inside as her lovely books. If you haven’t read her books, you’re missing out on a treat. And who wants to miss out on a treat? Not me! So let’s not waste another minute…

Personal

Good morning, Sandra, tell us a little about yourself.

Sandra Ardoin_Headshot

I’m a married mother, now an empty-nester. I was born a Hoosier, then became a Texan before finding my way to the Tar Heel state of North Carolina. When I’m not watching NASCAR and entertaining my family with enthusiastic cheering during NFL games (Keep Pounding, Panthers!), I spend my spare time reading fiction, listening to country music, and digging rocks out of my garden.

 

Sandra, you are a busy woman! I love working in my garden. It’s therapeutic. Now, let’s talk about you as a writer. Where did you get the idea for your latest WIP or your current release? And what inspired you to choose the setting of your story?

Professional

I set A Love Most Worthy in Nome, Alaska during the gold rush of 1900 and submitted the idea to meet a publisher’s request for a mail-order bride novella. In the story, Hallie searches for something that, for her, has been more elusive than gold—a loving family. What she finds are the gale-force winds of distrust and insecurity that threaten to destroy her dream of becoming a cherished wife and mother.

The choice of the setting came because I wanted something different from the typical “western” mail-order bride story. I researched the Klondike Gold Rush, but there were issues I felt were better met by the Nome location.

Although the novella idea wasn’t chosen by the publisher, I finished the story and am preparing to take my first dive into the indie publishing waters with it. The timeframe of the release is tentatively set for February 2019. Stay tuned. 😉

My current, unfinished story is historical romance and set it in a small, fictional North Texas town because that area was my stomping grounds for twenty-three years. And the Lone Star state makes a great location for a story set in the 1880s, don’t you think?

Congratulations on the indie adventure! I can’t wait to read them both. Tell me, what is your favorite thing to do when not writing?

Reading, of course. 😊 As stated in answering the first question, I like to garden. Unfortunately, I don’t have as much time for it as I used to, which is evident in the condition of my garden areas. But I love plants and get excited when spring rolls around and perennials start popping out of the ground and plants flower.

I get spring fever too. Can’t stay away from the plants. 🙂 Please share a writing quirk—a ‘must have’ or a ‘must do’ to get words down on paper.

Well, the “must have” is coffee. My writing runs on coffee. As far as a true writing quirk, I need silence and privacy. I’m too insecure to let someone peer over my shoulder at what I’ve written, and I’m not one to play music in the background. I’d find myself paying more attention to the music (probably singing along) than writing. I need a closed office and quiet.

I understand that! Last question. This year’s theme is First Things First. Setting our priorities is a must if we’re to be about our Father’s business. What advice would you offer someone struggling to spend time with Him? And, how has spending time with Him changed your life?

Inspirational

For me, it’s in your “First Things First,” Gail. I need routine and organization in anything, or I flounder, so I make it a priority to spend time in my Bible and with a devotion first thing in the morning. If I allow myself to get tied up in other things, I put it off. So, to answer your first question, I think setting a routine is a must if you’re struggling to find the time. Also, praying “continuously” is scriptural. It’s wise to talk to God off and on during the day. Think about how relationships widen when you don’t talk to a friend in a while. Which leads to the second question…

There was a time when I moved away from God. During those years, my life was not the way either of us wanted it, but He didn’t give up on me. Life is much better, much easier, when we remain close to Him—under the shadow of those protective wings—than to move away.

You are so right, Sandy. Love those thoughts. Thank you so much for joining us, encouraging us, and sharing with us.

Click to Tweet: “Well, the “must have” is coffee. My writing runs on coffee.” ~ @SandraArdoin with @GailJohnson87 #WomenofFaithandFiction #author

BIO:

Sandra Ardoin engages readers with page-turning stories of love and faith. She’s the author of the heartwarming novella, The Yuletide Angel and the award-winning novel, A Reluctant Melody. Rarely out of reach of a book, she’s also an armchair sports enthusiast, country music listener, and seldom says no to eating out.

Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com.

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A Reluctant Melody ~ Sandra Ardoin

ARM Cover

 

Gail: I’m excited to have with me today, Sandra Ardoin, author of The Yuletide Angel and her latest A Reluctant Melody. And let me take this moment to say if you haven’t read it you don’t know what you’re missing. I recommend picking up a copy today for your next summer read.

 Hello, Sandy. Glad you could stop by and talk with us. I loved A Reluctant Melody! It had everything you could want in a novel. History, Suspense, Romance, and the Gospel. I enjoyed watching your characters grow in their Christian walk.

For those who haven’t had the chance to read it, would you please take this moment and tell us a little about it.

Sandra: Thank you for your kind words, Gail, and thank you for having me on your blog.

A Reluctant Melody is set in North Carolina in 1892. It’s a story of two people with a shared and sorry past. Joanna is haunted by the consequences of her sins. Kit knows he’s been forgiven of his sins, but can’t give up the idea of atoning for them. It’s a story of grace, redemption, and second chances. Here’s the back cover copy, which explains a little more:

Kit Barnes’ alcoholism ruined more lives than his own. Now sober, he wants to make amends by opening a mission for drunkards. But the most suitable location belongs to Joanna Cranston Stewart, a love from his sordid past.

Friends of her late husband blame Joanna for his death. Although eager to flee from the rumors, she will let the walls of her rundown property crumble around her before she allows Kit back into her life.

When a blackmailer threatens to reveal Joanna’s long-held secret, will she risk losing everything she owns to Kit … including her heart?

Gail: Nothing like a second chance story. In fact, it’s the story of our lives. I absolutely love reading them. I would love to hear why you chose to write one.

This story began with the Christmas novella The Yuletide Angel. I needed a problem for my hero Hugh, so I created a drunken brother, a rift between them, and a need for forgiveness. I decided to reform that brother (spiritually and physically) and have him visit Hugh, forcing Hugh to either forgive Kit for once dallying with the woman he’d hoped to wed (the rift), or not. If so, the brothers are given a second chance at a relationship.

As I wrote the novella, I became curious about Kit’s relationship with Joanna, the woman who caused the estrangement between the brothers. I guess I’m just a romantic, but I saw them as needing to be together and knew I had to write her story. In A Reluctant Melody, Joanna is in dire need of a second chance at understanding salvation and living a good life, however, she can’t see Kit being part of either one. However…well, it is a love story.

Gail: I know when I’m researching a story, truths often fall into my lap that I wasn’t looking for, but somehow it was the very thing I needed for the story and for myself. While researching the spiritual thread, did you come across something that made an impact on you?

You’re so right when you say truths fall into your lap. I love it when I’m working on a manuscript and the pastor says something during a sermon or I read something in my daily reading that stands out and I know the gist of it has to be put into my story. To me, those are faith-building moments, times when I witness God as my writing partner.

For A Reluctant Melody, I think the spiritual thread that stands out to me is Kit’s thinking he has to make amends for his mistakes in order to make everything right. Yes, there are consequences for sin, but he can’t “make everything right” and neither can we. He can’t do something good and wash away the past. Only Jesus can do that.

Personally, I’ve found my faith and my Biblical knowledge has grown stronger as I’ve written of characters who find that God can bring them through their struggles.

Gail: Let’s talk about research. I love history. I could get lost in researching the past! Of course, I know you love old pictures. What else did you do to prepare for your story?

Ha! Yes, I think my Facebook page shows how much I love the old photographs.

In choosing my setting, I came across information about a community in Charlotte, NC, and its creation. It had some unique elements—a park and manmade lake with recreational activities, a variety of housing and businesses, stops on the trolley system. Then, I spent a while drawing a map of my fictional town so I’d have my directions right in the story and could picture the sights my characters saw as they traveled from one place to another.

I also used a business directory for my area. In it, businesses were listed (both types and names), churches, government and law enforcement offices/titles, products raised and made. It was a wealth of information and allowed me to add little historical tidbits to the story as well as choose to center things around a broom factory. I researched the industry and watched numerous videos about the craft of broom-making. That was fun.

Gail: I enjoyed getting to know all of your characters. Not just Kit and Joanna, but the supporting cast. What made you decide to incorporate a used up boxer?

Ah, Donovan “Dynamite” O’Connor. What a sweet guy…sort of. As a writer, you know you can be writing along, minding your own business, when bam!, an unplanned character pops up. As Kit walked through town, he came across a man sleeping in an alley. The next thing I knew, the man hit him—not through meanness, it was simply a reaction when Kit tried to wake him from a sound sleep after a night of drinking. I asked myself why someone would strike out like that at a total stranger for no reason. That’s when I realized Dynamite was a former fighter down on his luck. He turned into an important player in the story and one of my favorite characters. Don’t you love it when that kind of thing happens?

 Gail: I noticed Joanna’s love for music and her propensity to play an imaginary piano on her lap. Do you play?

I don’t play any instrument, but my daughter took piano lessons for years and we own a piano. However, I love music and will often surreptitiously “direct” the choir while seated in the pew. J Joanna has an amazing ability, but playing is also her way of escaping things that trouble her. So when she’s nervous or in the midst of some kind of difficulty, she plays the piano, even when one isn’t around.

Gail: Thank you, so much, for sharing your thoughts with us today, Sandy! Congratulations on the 5-star reviews. I’m looking forward to your next project.

 

Sandra Ardoin_HeadshotSandra Ardoin writes inspirational historical romance. She’s the author of The Yuletide Angel and A Reluctant Melody. A wife and mom, she’s also a reader, football fan, NASCAR watcher, garden planter, country music listener, and antique store prowler. Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Join her email community to receive occasional updates and a free short story.

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