Thursday, December 14, 2023

Talkshow Thursday: Welcome back, Kathleen Bailey!

Talkshow Thursday: 
Welcome back, Kathleen Bailey!

December marks the observed birth of my Savior (of course), my umpteenth appearance on this blog (thanks Linda!) and a couple of firsts: my first novel with Elk Lake Publishing and my first contemporary Christian Christmas romance. There’s a lot to celebrate. Here’s how the book came to be:

For many years our family enjoyed a Christmas festival in the next town over. It was unabashedly “Christmas,” not “Holiday” or “Jingle Bell” or “Winter Solstice.” Though a local church sponsored the event, the town joined in, providing security and allowing the festival to use the old library, old schoolhouse, and other town buildings. Any funds raised went into a separate festival account, and the church didn‘t receive a dime. It was a collaboration between church and state I never saw before or since.

“Lights on the Hill” fell victim to COVID-19 and a dearth of volunteers. But by then I had the germ of a story and a series. I asked the traditional writers’ questions, “What if” and “why not?”

WHAT IF…a small town held an annual Christmas festival that was more than the sum of its parts?
Pixabay/Michelle Rapponi
What if estranged children came back to their parents and to Christ during the event, what if warring couples reconciled? What if old hurts were banished over a bowl of soup or a sleigh ride?

The “what if” became the foundation for Hilltop, my small town series, and its slogan: “Welcome to Hilltop, the Town That Heals.”

But I still needed people for Hilltop to heal. WHAT IF…a young woman came home to Hilltop, to run the festival for her convalescing grandmother, even though she’d avoided Hilltop, and religion since she left town for college? WHAT IF…the new pastor, a California misfit in this snowy hamlet, decided to make her conversion his personal project? WHY NOT…throw them together on the festival planning, and have God and the festival do the rest?

I had so much fun with this one. The New Hampshire mountains are a treasure for anyone who lives here or wishes they did. I was able to incorporate the Kancamagus Highway, the spot where the Old Man of the Mountains stood, the town of Littleton and more. I wrote about places that have been special to me since childhood. And I was able to create my own quirky small town, with flinty, funny New England characters.

So this Christmas season, why not join me in Hilltop? Have a doughnut at the French Hens Bakery, attend the fish fry at the Limelighter Café, take a sleigh ride or toast a marshmallow or listen to the carols pealing from the carillon.

Welcome to Hilltop. We’re glad you’re here.

About A Hilltop Christmas

When Jane Archer comes home to tiny Hilltop, New Hampshire, her goal is to take care of her convalescing grandmother and get back to Boston as soon as possible. She doesn’t expect to be saddled with the direction of the Hilltop Christmas Festival, three days of activities exalting the birth of a God she no longer serves. But Gram asks her to take over the Festival this year, and she can’t say no to the woman who saved her life.

The Rev. Noah Hastings didn’t want to come to Hilltop in the first place. Too small, too cold for this California boy. And he has trouble figuring out these Yankees, with their “thin sharp faces and sharper wits.” It’s his first church, and his goal is to amass some “ministerial brownie points” and be out of there. But his early life with his father has left Noah with damaged confidence, and despite his call, he’s not sure he can handle a pastorate, let alone Jane Archer.

Though the people of Hilltop have never stopped loving her, coming home reawakens memories for Jane of a childhood no child should have to live through. She feels her carefully constructed world crumbling, even as she resists the pull of Christ on her life.

But when the integrity of the Festival is threatened, Noah must call on his Lord, and Jane on the God from whom she's drifted, to find justice and restore Hilltop to what it is.

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1 comment:

  1. I am happy, once again, to be on Linda's blog. This book marks a milestone for me in several ways. I'd love to talk about it with you -- Christmas romances, Christmas in general, small New England towns, and anything in between. Let's chat!