Monday, December 3, 2012

Ushering in December with a Special Guest!

Welcome, welcome, everyone to my third annual Christmas Blogfest here at Project Journal! Yaaaaaay :) I am SO excited to reveal what I have up my sleeve for all my friends, both the old and new ones I hope to make!

It's officially December! I presume all of your holiday festivities, decorating, and  caroling are well under way? Mine definitely are! I've also been hard at work trying to bring some new and exciting things to the celebration this year. We have all new guests, exciting, right??

Today, to help us kick off this fun blogfest, is Cheryl St. John! Cheryl St.John is the author of over forty Harlequin and Silhouette books. Her first book, RAIN SHADOW was nominated for RWA’s RITA for Best First Book, by Romantic Times for Best Western Historical, and by Affaire de Coeur readers as Best American Historical Romance. Since then she's received several RITA nominations and three Romantic Times Achievement Awards. In describing her stories of second chances and redemption, readers and reviewers use words like, “emotional punch, hometown feel, core values, believable characters and real life situations. (Courtesy of

Onto the interview!

Me: Cheryl, it's wonderful to have you on the blog! Admittedly I gave you rather short notice, so thank you so much for slipping me into your busy schedule. When does the Christmas season officially start in your household? What is the first thing done that marks the start (i.e. putting up Christmas tree, baking first gingerbread men, etc)?

Cheryl: The first thing I do as December nears is get together with a committee at church to select families for whom we will purchase Christmas gifts. My friend and I then make gift tags listing the names of each person and their ages, sizes, etc.. On the weekend before Thanksgiving I decorate a tree in the sanctuary and we hang the tags on it.  Our generous members then take tags and buy gifts and return them with the tag on the package. Each year on the Sunday before Christmas we bless and deliver to families who wouldn’t otherwise have gifts.

Me: WOW! Definitely impressed right now. My aunt runs the "Community Baskets" through school (she works in an elementary school) and our church, but yours sounds different haha. Incredible, thank you so much for all that you do. So many appreciate what you are doing. In a Christmas fantasy land – who would be the famous figures, past and/or present, at your dinner table and why?

Cheryl: Well, this question took much thought. I finally came up with famous figures I’d like to eat a meal with. Both are still alive, and maybe after they read this, they’ll probably get in touch with me, you think?

LaVyrle Spencer, because, even though I always wanted to write and dabbled at it here and there, her books inspired me to get serious and go for it. She wrote some of my favorite books of all time. Rye Dalton from Twice Loved remains my ultimate hero.

The awe-some Stephen King
Stephen King, because, well, he’s Stephen King. I’m in awe of his brilliant ability to create characters and scenarios that engage readers on an astonishing level. Before I read romance, I read western and horror, and he was my go-to author. When my kids were young we had a pool, and every summer I read The Stand while lying on the deck. I enjoyed both mini-series versions too. I love his book On Writing, and I’d love to pick his brain. 

Me: I can't say I've read anything by LaVyrle, but I love Stephen King!! I am completely with you on being in awe of him honestly. Do you have specific traditions for Christmas Eve?

Cheryl: For many years when my kids were small we gathered at my parents’ home, ate chili and potato soup and exchanged gifts. I remember those times fondly. With all of our children grown and following their own traditions, we most usually gather at one of their homes for the traditional chili. The soup has evolved to potato cheese. We attend a late Christmas Eve candlelight service at church, where we give thanks to God for the true meaning of the season, and enjoy gathering with our church family.

Me: That sounds wonderful, Cher :) I love hearing everybody's different traditions. They're always unique and they're always their own, which I love getting to experience a bit. You have two books coming out in the next two months! Can you introduce us to those story lines?

Stowaway Angel
Harlequin Special Releases
December 1, 2013

Charlie McGraw never should have bought the angel book for his precocious daughter. Because then Meredith wouldn't be convinced that getting a new mommy was as simple as having an "angel" sprinkle him with her "miracle dust." And she never would have believed the beautiful blond-haired woman who drove a truck called the "Silver Angel" was some treetop angel come to life.

Starla Richards was no angel. But try telling that to a five-year-old who was so starved for a mother's love that she'd stowed away on Starla's rig. Or convincing herself that miracles just didn't happen to ordinary people when Starla found herself snowbound with a handsome, caring widower and his adorable daughter….

Revised for the Heartwarming line from a previous SIM edition, Charlie's Angels


Colorado Courtship
Love Inspired Historical 2-in-1
January 1, 2013

If Violet Kristofferson had known that her new employer was the town undertaker, she might never have come to Carson Springs as his cook. Yet she needs a fresh start away from scandal. And Ben Charles’s unflinching faith could be her path to something truly precious—a new family.

Me: Thank you so much for sharing all that! Do you have a favorite character you’ve written so far?

Cheryl: I have a few that are difficult to choose between.
Joshua McBride in Saint or Sinner, which will be an indie release soon. (More about that later.)
Annie Sweetwater in Sweet Annie.
Mariah Spangler and Wes Burrows in Her Colorado Man.
Meredith Abbott in A Magical Gift at Christmas/Snowflakes and Stetsons anthology.
It’s almost impossible to single out even a few, because if I didn’t love the characters I wouldn’t be able to feel the story to write it.

Me: Spoken like a true author, I'm sure. How could you only have one? Why do you enjoy writing Christmas/holiday/winter themed books?

Cheryl: One thing about writing a novella is that I enjoy the short format. Many times I come up with an idea, but it’s not big enough to carry a full novel, so I put it in my idea binder. When I need a novella, I pull out those ideas and have fun with them.

And Christmas is a feel-good time of year almost everyone can relate to. Emotional connections happen at the mention of a Christmas tree, a stocking hung by the fireplace, or making a loved one a gift. As a writer I can tap into those built-in feelings and take the reader on a journey.

Me: Honestly....I'd never thought of either of those before. Great points! And so neat that you have a binder of ideas just waiting to be written up :) What can your readers expect from you in the coming months?

Cheryl: Besides my December and January books, Stowaway Angel and Colorado Courtship, I am getting ready to release my early books, revised and ready for the digital market. I’m so excited about reaching new readers and for faithful fans to find these favorite books for their ereaders. I have three ready to go in a few weeks.

Land of Dreams
Saint or Sinner
Heaven Can Wait

These are some “short answer” questions. You can answer them in as few words as possible – even simply one word.

Favorite movie seen this year?

That would be One for the Money.  I love Janet Evanovich and got a kick out of seeing Hollywood’s take on Stephanie Plum.

Last Christmas song you heard?

I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.
Believe it or not I’ve been listening to it so I can sing and record it for my blog.

Favorite food to make or eat during the season?

(I’ve been wishing I had a big bowl of puppy chow.)
My favorite food of the season is creamed turkey on mashed potatoes, served with cranberry sauce. My kids and grandkids enjoy turkey, but they’d rather save most of it for the leftovers. It’s a family favorite.

Favorite place to spend Christmas day?

With my family. I love when we gather and just hang out. Sometimes we play games and do a lot of laughing. As the family grows and the kids are older, it’s more and more challenging to get everyone together, so those days are even more special.

Me: How can readers connect with you?

Cheryl: Admittedly I’m blog crazy. I have a personal blog, From the Heart:, a recipe blog, and a blog that follows a home remodel. I guest blog whenever and wherever I’m asked, and I’m a Founding Filly at Petticoats and Pistols: . Readers can email me at or visit me on the web:
I’m also a Pinterest Junkie. You can follow my boards on everything from jewelry crafts to vintage collections, like teapots and teacups:

Thank you for the opportunity to blog with you, Hannah.
 Merry Christmas!

Thank YOU so much for joining us today, Cheryl! You're such an interesting woman, I loved seeing your pictures :) I hope everyone connects with Cheryl and picks up one of her many books coming out soon. Keep an eye out for them!

Song of the Day:
Now let me introduce a couple of YouTube singers that I stumbled upon: Callie and Colette! I believe they're sisters, if I remember correctly, and their harmonies blend beautifully. It's a different sound for these two classic tunes, but I like it. Perfect for sitting by your Christmas tree and relaxing :) Let me know what you think of them!

God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Link

That's all I've got for ya today, but tune in tomorrow for more : ) In the meantime, what have you been doing to get ready for the holiday?


  1. Wonderful interview! I've never read King's fiction but I'm in the middle of his memoir and am loving it. I'm sure I'll end up reading some of his work now.
    Thanks for sharing, ladies! Best wishes on the indie release!

  2. Hi Jessica! I appreciate King's early books more than the later ones. And there are one or two I didn't like at all and didn't finish. But The Shining, The Stand, Carrie, Salem's Lot (and that was LONG before The Walking Dead)Firestarter are brilliant character studies.

  3. HANNAH, I LOVE the song! Thanks.

    p.s. I struggle with captchas so I'll be limping with my comments today, sorry :-(

  4. I'm with you on LaVyrle Spencer. She has a huge section of my keeper shelf!

  5. And, Liz, have you kept your original copies, because they're the special ones? I have one that's completely marked up and highlighted. She has sentences in those early books that are over 100 words long! Obviously no one cared.

    They are magic.

  6. Hi Jess! Thanks for stopping by :) You've stood by me and my blog for so long, I really appreciate it! You should really try King, I think you'd like him. I also really like Dean Koontz, but it's more on a story basis. King has much more debt, but Koontz does do a good job too : ) Thanks for stopping by!

    Cher, THANK YOU for coming by! You're being awesome about stopping in too, which people really love when that happens lol : ) Aren't they good? I think it's so neat that they're sisters and they sing together. My lil sister and I were talking about singing some songs to post to YouTube. I don't know if you're planning on sticking around throughout the blogfest, but we made our own 12 Days of Christmas (supplementing appropriate words and actions lol) last year and I know I'll be posting it again! It's pretty fun, slightly embarassing :P

    Hi Liz! Thanks for coming! I guess I'll have to check out LaVyrle, huh? I hope you come back!

  7. I love Christmas so I always love stopping by for your Christmas party Hannah! You always have such fun, interesting posts!

    Hi Cheryl, Land of Dreams looks great! When I get my new Kindle I'm going to have to see about downloading that one if I can't download all three! ;-)

    Merry Christmas,
    Renee C.