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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Spotlight on Anita Higman and Irene Brand and Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe

Don't forget the rules of the spotlights here. Answer the random question associated with this spotlight in the comments in order to be entered in the drawing.


ANITA HIGMAN is an award-winning author with twenty-six books published (several coauthored) for adults and children, and she has been honored as a Barnes & Noble Author of the Month for Houston. Anita has a BA degree, combining communication, psychology, and art. Her favorite things include exotic teas, movies, and all things Jane Austen. Please visit her site at

IRENE BRAND's first inspirational romance – A Mighty Flame – was published by Thomas Nelson in 1984. The Mistletoe book marks the publication of her 47th book. Some of these are two-book anthologies, and four of the titles are non-fiction. Approximately 3 million copies of her books have been printed. She has been published my many of the major Christian publishers: Standard Publishing, Fleming Revel, Thomas Nelson, Zondervan, Kregel, Barbour, Steeple Hill, and Summerside Press. In addition to her rigid writing schedule, Irene is actively involved in the ministry of her local Baptist church, where she’s been a member since she was eleven-years-old. Irene’s home is at Southside, West Virginia, where she has lived all of her life. She’s been married 54 years to Rod Brand, and they’ve traveled to thirty-five foreign countries and all fifty states.

by Irene Brand and Anita Higman
Published by Summerside Press


Appalachian Christmas by Irene Brand

When there was no response, David called loudly, "Mr. Walden, it's David Armstrong. I must speak to you."
Julia didn't hear a sound until the hinges squeaked slightly and the door opened about five inches.
"What do you want? a man muttered in a harsh, raw voice.
"I have someone who wants to talk to you," David said, gesturing for Julia to come to his side.
On trembling legs, she stepped forward and took her sleeping nephew from David's arms. She shook Bobby gently to awaken him. The waning twilight revealed a white-haired, whiskered man with a vicious expression on the stony mask of his face.
"Mr. Walden, I'm Julia Mayfield. My sister was married to your son, Robert," she explained in a shaky voice. "She died two years ago when their son was a month old. Her deathbed wish was for me to bring your grandson to meet you." She thrust her nephew closer to the screen door. "This is Bobby."
The old man gasped, and a keening wail escaped his lips. "Go away, go away!" he shouted. "You lie. I'll kill you if you ever come here again. I'll kill you." Wailing like a banshee, he slammed the door, and a key turned in the lock.

Once Upon a Christmas Eve by Anita Higman

Holly Goodnight's store has just been voted best Christmas shop in America. All the new publicity draws flamboyant novelist Van Keaton to the cozy town of Noel, Missouri, demanding to write Holly's story - a dramatic tale of misfortune and triumph. She is swept up in his world of beautiful words and fanciful interludes...until Owen Quigly, her lifelong best friend, launches a plan to win her back.

Readers, buy your copy of Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe today!


1. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

Anita: The idea for Once Upon a Christmas Eve may have started with my interest in the fairy archetype. I loved the movies Cold Comfort Farm and Chocolat for that very reason. There was something enchanting about those two heroines as they whirled around, fixing people’s lives. I gave my main character, Holly Goodnight, some similar fanciful qualities.

Irene: I'm a retired history teacher, and I built many of my teaching segments around United States wars. As a child, I knew many World War II veterans, and I've always been interested in that part of United States history. One young soldier from our community was killed in the war, and his mother became a recluse for years. She turned her back on God. A cousin of mine served in the War and he sent gift items to me from all over the world. As for inspiration, I was motivated by the different veterans and how they reacted to their war experiences.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced your characters? What aspects became traits that were theirs and theirs alone?

Anita: I’m not sure of the percentage, but yes, my own personal experiences as well as my own personality traits definitely make it into my work. Just to use one character as an example, Van Keaton suffered with some unique issues in the story, and they did come from some of my own struggles. But Van had a slightly arrogant side to him too, and I pray that’s not me. I hope I’ve successfully stamped out that part of my personality!

Irene: I don't intend to use any of my personal experiences, such as love affairs or conflicts, in my story. However, as I've stated in the first question, my memories of the post war experiences influenced my attitudes and thoughts. I make an effort to never put myself into the life of a character. So each character is a fictitious person.

3. If your hero/heroine were an ice cream flavor, what would he/she be and why?

Anita: Holly Goodnight would be licorice ice cream. (And yes, that flavor does exist). It’s a jazzy flavor that says, “I’m not afraid to be different!”

Irene: I'd choose strawberry. For one thing, my hero raised strawberries for a cash crop and sold them in nearby cities. And wild strawberries grow in most parts of the Appalachian region.

4. Are there any themes in your story in Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

Anita: The primary theme was, “No matter how impossible circumstances look, God can work all things for good.” Any other story themes revolve around that one. Just as a side note, I don’t usually set out with certain themes in mind. They usually rise up on their own.

Irene: Love overcomes all difficulties which would keep a couple from planning a life together. Despite the bad reputation that many Appalachian communities have of poverty, illiteracy and similar problems, the people, in general, are intelligent, warm-hearted, and devoted to God. An impressive number of Kentucky men and women served in World War II.

5. What were your most difficult parts to write? Your favorite?

Anita: When I first started writing my story within Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe I was having trouble getting a feel for the characters. In fact, it was really tripping me up! So, I had to just keep writing and writing and writing to figure out who they were. Once I knew them, really knew them, I could soar. My favorite part is when my fingers can finally feel like they’re flying.

Irene: The most difficult part is the first draft. I have to drive myself to finish the story background. I love to edit and would find something to change if I read the manuscript a hundred times. I loved doing local research for this book.

6. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

Anita: I have four books coming out in the next two years, and one of them is a novel entitled, Another Grave Matter. It will be released January, 2012. It’s an inspirational gothic mystery with some comedy. This novel will finish out The Volstead Manor Series.

Irene: I don't have a contract for another book, as yet, but I have several manuscripts being circulated by my agent. Watch my website for future publications.

* * * * *

Thank you, Anita and Irene, for being in the spotlight with us.

ENTRY RULES Readers, answer either question or both questions associated with the spotlight in the comments, then leave your email address for your chance to win a FREE autographed copy of Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe. THREE winners will be chosen this week, thanks to the generosity of our spotlight authors. If you do not answer the question, you will not be entered.

Question: What flavor of ice cream would you be?

Question: Did you have an ancestor who served his/her country during World War II? Please share a brief note highlighting his/her experiences.

Make sure you also leave your email address (name at domainname You won't be entered in the drawing without it. If you wish to comment but don't want to be entered, say so when you post.

This week, the contest is open to US/Canada residents only.


Anita Higman said...

Thanks, Tiff, for featuring Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe on your blog.

Irene and I had fun with our stories. I really do love all things Christmas. In fact, I've already started my holiday shopping, and I've started listening to Christmas music! Can't help it!
Anita Higman

Anonymous said...

Thanks for featuring our book on your blog, which is a very well-structured blog, BTW. Although, we've never met face to face, Anita and I became friends during the work on the book. It's been a great experience.
Irene Brand

Unknown said...

I would definitely be vanilla with sprinkles on top! :)

Merry said...

I'm mint chocolate chip!

My brother-in-law was a bomber pilot in WW2. He's a hero to me. ;-)

Sheila Deeth said...

These both sound interesting. I need to be looking out for Christmas themed books to share with my Mum when she visits from England, but how can we be so close to Christmas (9 weeks!) already.

I'd be mocha icecream--chocolate and coffee--bliss!

And my Dad was ground crew in the RAF but spent a lot of the war as a prisoner of the Japanese.

sdeeth at msn dot com

squiresj said...

I am a lover of Anita Higman's books.
As far as ice cream goes - it has to have caramel on it. If it doesn't, I will add caramel to it.
It cannot have nuts as dentures make them hard to eat.
I did not have a relative who served in World War II. But I had a special friend growing up who worked in the factories during that time.
jrs362 (at)hotmail (dot)com

Jo said...

I really enjoy reading Christmas themed books.

What really sounds good to me right now is peach ice cream dipped in hard chocolate on a cone.


Anita Higman said...

Oh, wow, all this talk of ice cream makes me want more! I just finished a slice of homemade apple pie with some very creamy vanilla ice cream on top. Oh, yeah. I love ice cream almost as much as reading.

Hugs from Anita Higman

The Fishermens Line said...

Butterscotch for sure! Or vanilla with butterscotch topping....a ton of it, of course!

My father-in-law served during WWII, but I'm not sure in which capacity. As he is no longer with us, I have no way of finding out, but I loved him dearly and we often talked politics!

The Fishermens Line said...

Butterscotch OR vanill with a TON of butterscotch topping!

My wonderful father-in-law served in WW II but I don't know in which capacity. He is no longer with us, so I have no way of finding out. I was close to him and we often discussed politics and agreed mostly on everything.

Donna Reimel Robinson said...

I'm not sure what ice cream I am, but I love soft chocolate from Dairy Queen with marshmallow topping!

My dad served in WWII in Burma, which you don't usually think of as a place for WWII, but it was a world war. He was a fighter pilot in the Air Force.

I wanted to comment to Anita and Irene because my daughter's name is Holly and she is married to David Armstrong! So they have the names of characters in both of your stories.

Donna Robinson
derobin7 (at) gmail (dot) com

Renee (BlacknGoldGirlsBookSpot) said...

It's almost Christmas time can you believe it?! I'm excited to start hearing the Christmas music on the radio!

Oh yeah I'm definitely cotton candy ice cream! Super sweet and rare LOL!

XOXO~ Renee