A Mysterious Benefactor … A Secret Guardian by Sandra Ardoin

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Dora here. Over the last few years, I have been blessed with many writing friends, but few so dear as Sandra Ardoin. Sandy and I connected initially through ACFW, and when we realized we lived just a few miles from each other, decided to get together. Since then, we’ve scaled the writing mountains and wandered through the valleys of publishing while we share our writing and personal journeys over lattes. Today, I’m beyond thrilled to share that Sandy’s debut novella, The Yuletide Angel, releases on October 15 with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Congratulations, Sandy!! 

About The Yuletide Angel

It’s Christmastime in 1890s Meadowmead, and someone is venturing out at night to leave packages at the homes of the needy. Dubbed The Yuletide Angel, no one knows the identity of this mysterious benefactor. 

No one, except Hugh Barnes, a confirmed bachelor who finds himself drawn to the outwardly shy but inwardly bold Violet Madison, a young woman who risks her safety to help others. 

When Violet confesses her fear of eviction from her childhood home, Hugh longs to rescue her. His good intentions are thwarted, however, when Hugh’s estranged brother shows up in town … and in Violet’s company. 

But Violet faces an even bigger threat. A phantom figure lurks in the shadows, prepared to clip the wings of The Yuletide Angel.

Please join me in welcoming my dear friend, Sandy:

I’d like to introduce you to a charming couple—the hero and heroine in my Christmas novella The Yuletide Angel. As I interview them, Hugh Barnes and Violet Madison are sitting shoulder-to-shoulder on the sofa in the formal parlor belonging to Violet’s recently-married brother. The air is filled with the sweet scents of sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Mmmm…. Please don’t be surprised if this interview is a short one.

Hugh, what was your first thought when you discovered the identity of The Yuletide Angel? Violet turns to him. Her head is tilted at a slight angle, as if she’s eager to hear the answer, too.

Frankly, I was stunned to see my shy neighbor, a woman I’ve spent months trying to get to know, trotting across town in the dark while toting small flour sacks. Of course, it piqued my curiosity to learn just what she was up to. When I saw her leave the first sack at the home of someone I knew to be in need, I realized the truth. At first I thought her a beautiful woman. Then reality chilled my pleasure. She was quite the reckless woman, and I feared for her safety.

Violet pulls a handkerchief from the pocket of her dress and balls it in a fist. Hugh reaches for the hand with the handkerchief. His thumb caresses the back of it. Encouragement? A silent apology for calling her reckless?

So you decided to follow her. Why?

Hugh: To protect her, of course.

Violet: She shivers and ducks her chin. I’d rather not discuss the frightening part of the story, Hugh.

Violet, how do you feel about having had a secret guardian?

Amazed. The men in my family have protected me in one way or another my whole life—first my father, then my brother. I suppose it was a good and honorable thing, but a bit smothering. Hugh’s protection was different. He allowed me more freedom.

When did you first realize you were meant to be together? They turn adoring eyes on one another. Really, friends, the look is as sweet as the icing topping one of Violet’s desserts.

Violet: I fell in love with him soon after I met him, but never believed he would look at a plain woman like me a second time.

Hugh: She was wrong. I looked and kept looking. And she’s not plain. She’s my beautiful Violet. He kisses her cheek. Once I realized the goodness of her heart, I knew she was to be mine.

So what’s next for the two of you?

Violet: A spring wedding, then—

Hugh: We’ll sail off on the adventure of our lives.

They look at each other and laugh. Must be an inside joke. I drop my pen and notepad on the nearest table.

Well, no one is leaving before I sample a large slice of Violet’s apple cake!

Sandra Ardoin

Sandra Ardoin is a multi-published author of short fiction. A fan of old westerns growing up, it’s only natural that she sets stories in the days of the horse and buggy. Her Christmas novella The Yuletide Angel is available on Amazon.com.

She’s the married mother of a young adult and lives in North Carolina. Learn more about her at www.sandraardoin.com and connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.

Click the link and sign up for Sandy’s newsletter to receive Violet’s Apple Cake recipe, along with news and other tidbits. Enter The Yuletide Angel Facebook Launch giveaway. http://tinyurl.com/kyk2cdm

Agape for Writers…

I so appreciate Sandra Ardoin for inviting me to participate in a writer’s blog hop. Sandy’s blog is always a great source of encouragement to writers, especially her High Five Fridays!! Discovering new blogs and getting to know other writers is the perfect reason to join a blog hop, don’t you think? But I’m following an example of another sweet writer friend and, instead, sharing some “Agape” love to some writers who have meant a lot to me in my life. Sorry, Sandy, for shaking it up a bit. Hope you don’t mind! 

So here we go…

What am I working on?

After cranking out six books in the last sixteen months, I breathed a relieved sigh and scheduled a little decompression time. I stuffed three weeks full of family, travel, and…not so much writing. I used that break to prayerfully consider my journey and reestablish some goals. An idea for a new series simmered, featuring three Kester siblings who vow to save their ranch after their father’s sudden death. It’s my first contemporary western featuring, you guessed it…cowboys!

Roping the Cowboy is the first book in the Kester Ranch series:
Hungry for the coveted VP position in her father’s company, an ambitious oil executive chooses the cowboy’s heart over the contract.

Picture Channing Tatum as hunky hero Fargo Kester who attempts to romance Darby Brewster (Keira Knightly) away from her father’s company and onto the ranch to stay. Have I mentioned lately how much I love being a writer? 🙂

This is my first venture outside the inspirational genre, but it’s still sweet, with the same values and standards as my other books. 

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

My writing tends to veer towards the steamy side of inspy, which might make some people uncomfortable, but I don’t believe romance is all about the bedroom. You don’t need to be embarrassed if your children or grandchildren pick up one of my books and start reading. They won’t find graphic bedroom scenes or vulgar language. They will find stories bursting with passion and depth, and characters who deal with real life issues such as single parenthood, domestic violence, weak self-images, emotional or physical abandonment, and more. 

The major difference between secular and inspirational romance is the faith element. I love creating stories where the faith thread is weaved, natural and seamless throughout the story, framing a theme or message that wraps itself around your heart and remains with you long after you reach “the end.” 

But lately, I’m sensing a call to toss my fishing net farther away from the boat. 🙂

Why do I write what I do?

To me, romance is an integral part of everyday life. It takes on many forms. Whether that’s sharing coffee or lunch with my hubby on our back deck, content to just soak in each other’s company and the natural beauty surrounding us; catching my grandson’s face light up when he sees me arrive at daycare and his tiny hand stretching up to grab mine; that sweet spot in my soul as worship music covers me like a warm blanket; or feeling the warmth of the sun on my back as I walk around the park. God showers me with His love every day. How can I not write about love and hope, grace and forever? How can I not sprinkle my books with messages of forgiveness or that it’s never too late for redemption?

How does my writing process work?

I started my writing career as a total pantser. My goal was to give birth to great characters or an idea and let the story flow organically from there. Since I’ve graduated to contracting on proposal with my publisher, I have forced myself to become a plotter, but that just means I have an initial story concept, like the blurb on the back cover, along with a skeletal outline, including the cute meet and how I want the story to end, but nothing is written in stone. Then, it’s all a matter of planting my tush in the chair and tapping out the story, four hours a day, five days a week.

Maria Bostian

That wraps it up for me. Now, to share some AGAPE love for writers who have blessed my life. Say hello to Maria Bostian > 

She’s a Life Safety Educator for the City of Kannapolis Fire Department and- who knew? -a writer!  She works at the fire station with my hubby and she always has a smile on her face. Can’t you just see the joy bubbling over? That’s Maria. Her September debut is a children’s safety book about playing with matches and lighters. You can get to know Maria here. Maria will be carrying the blog torch, and be sure to stop by and congratulate her on her contract and her blog debut.

Susan Tuttle

Next, I’d like you to meet someone who has encouraged me tremendously and faithfully… 
<<Susan Tuttle. When I put out the call for influencers for my first book, Journey’s End, Susan immediately responded with a fabulous review. She took a chance on a new writer, and for that, I will be forever grateful. When I asked her to join Seriously Write as a monthly contributor, she didn’t hesitate. She’s an inspiration, a blessing, and a true friend. One day I will meet her face to face and tell her how much she’s meant to me. Susan just completed her first novel, and I’m sure we’ll be hearing wonderful news from her real soon! Be sure to check out her blog, Steps Into An Abundant Life. Her devotions always seem to be just the words I needed to hear on that particular day, and I look forward to her Wednesday quotes and Bookshelf Fridays. 

Sandra Ardoin

And lastly, Sandra Ardoin. >>
Sandy and I met online through ACFW, and imagine my surprise to discover that we lived just a few miles away! Our friendship has evolved over coffee breaks and local ACFW meetings, and I treasure our time together. Since inviting me to join this blog hop, Sandy signed her first contract with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas for her Christmas novella, The Yuletide Angel! Don’t you just love the title? I can’t wait to read it! Congratulations, Sandy! If you know Sandy, please stop by and offer your congratulations here. Even if you don’t know Sandy, I’m sure she’d be thrilled to hear from you. 

Sandy and Susan have already shared some writer love, but how about you? How can you encourage your favorite writer? Find a way to spread the love…


I’m no Gidget. I’ve never surfed and never had a notion to do so. But life can be like surfing—you catch the wave, ride the tube, and your amped. Dude! Then, the wave collapses and you’re locked in, eating it.

For two months, we had illness and hospitalization in our extended family. Thankfully, surgery took away the immediate danger, but a complication left my father-in-law to recuperate in the hospital for many more days than any of us (including the doctor) had planned. It has been a hectic and worrisome time. He came home the day before Thanksgiving and we were stoked. Until…

My daughter and I got out on Black Friday—no, not in the wee hours of the morning. I’m past the age of finding midnight shopping an adventure to be experienced—but we were gone all day and into the evening. We had a great time looking for the right clothing that would “class-up” her wardrobe. We ate a nice lunch and she got her Starbucks fix. We bought various items, including the gorgeous dress that pleased her—at a price that pleased me. We talked and laughed. Cowabunga! Until…

She lost her cell phone—her only-owned-for-four-months cell phone. I won’t go into the details other than to say it was our last stop and we wiped out.

Have you experienced times like these? The waves are cranking and so are you. Then, BAM! You take a pounding and ding your board—or worse.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 (NIV)

Great words to remember at all times, but especially when life gets gnarly. Right now, I’m in the lull, waiting for the next wave. Where are you?

Sandra Ardoin loves history and fiction, so how could she help but put the two together? Her work has been published in various forms, but fiction allows her to share the stories that run through her imagination. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Contact Sandra through her website at www.sandraardoin.com. Follow her on Twitter, Google+, and Goodreads.

(Thanks to the website http://www.surfing-waves.com/surf_talk.htm for the surfing terms.)