Sandra Ardoin

Previously, Sandra Ardoin has published short stories
and devotional work. Her fondness for horses and westerns led her to write The Yuletide Angel, a delightful holiday
romance novella taking place in the 1890s, and available through Amazon.
The publisher, Lighthouse of the Carolinas, matched Sandra
with a good friend of mine, Susan F. Craft, who is both a wonderful editor and
author. Susan’s award-winning The
is available through Amazon, and she has two post-Revolutionary
War novels being published by Lighthouse of the Carolinas in 2015.
I asked these two engaging authors if they would tell
us a little about the writing and publication of The Yuletide Angel. Here’s a brief summary of the story:
As Christmas approaches in Meadowmead, the residents
anticipate visits from the Yuletide Angel, an unknown benefactor who leaves
packages on the doorsteps of the needy. While others speculate about the
identity of the Yuletide Angel, grocer Hugh Barnes has discovered it is his
quiet, socially awkward neighbor, Violet Madison, a spinster who keeps house
for her brother. Hugh takes it upon himself to be Violet’s secret protector
during her nighttime journeys. When Violet’s brother announces his engagement,
Violet decides to support herself by seeking to sell her baked goods and Hugh
gives her the opportunity at his store. While Violet encounters resistance from
her family, Hugh must deal with a visit from his brother Kit, who previously betrayed
Hugh by stealing Hugh’s sweetheart.
Can Violet find the courage to do what she believes is
right? Can Hugh forgive his brother’s past transgression? Can Violet and Hugh
find happiness with each other? All these questions will have readers rapidly turning
Sandra, how did you develop the idea for this story
and why did you decide to focus on Violet and Hugh?
Paula, thank you for inviting me to talk
about The Yuletide Angel.
I set out to write a Christmas novella
and tried on various plots and characters, both historical and contemporary.
Among the ideas, I wrote about 1,800 words set in the late 1800s (what became, basically,
the first two scenes of the novella). However, with no clue what the story was
actually about, I settled on writing a contemporary. Lacking a chapter of
finishing, I decided I disliked the story and went back to peruse the previous
ideas. When I read what I had written on the historical, everything clicked,
and I knew this was the one God had in mind.
In Violet’s original scene, she was much
less accepting of her brother’s engagement, but I felt her character was headed
for trouble—that she’d be too unlikable. Also, Hugh’s first scene began as an
exercise in mood, so I needed a reason for him to be out late at night. That’s
when the secretive Yuletide Angel was born.
Currently, you are working on a novel about Hugh’s
brother Kit. Did you always plan to write about Kit or did your fascination
with him grow as you wrote The Yuletide
When I read a novel, I invariably find a
secondary character or two I want to get to know better. It’s no different when
I write. I needed a problem/conflict for Hugh, so I gave him trouble with his
younger brother over an incident that happened five years earlier. Once Kit
appeared, I kept mulling over ways in which I could give him his own
happy-ever-after. That book, tentatively titled A Reluctant Melody, is scheduled for an early 2016 release. It
brings Kit together with the woman with whom he once betrayed Hugh—fireworks in
the making!
Will Hugh and Violet appear in Kit’s story or in
future stories of their own?
Hugh and Violet will not appear in A Reluctant Melody, although they are
mentioned several times since so much of the backstory involves Hugh. As for
future stories …?

Susan F. Craft

Susan, with your love of history and romance, I can
see how you were an excellent editor for Sandra. Please tell us how you came to
take on editing duties with Lighthouse of the Carolinas.
selection by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas to work as one of their
editors was one of those “for such a time as this” moments, when pieces of a
puzzle came together in God’s perfect timing.
the past 35 years, I’ve strived to hone my craft by reading books about writing,
attending conferences and workshops, and being a member of a writers’ critique
group. I’ve learned quite a lot (and have more to learn), and wondered how I
could share that knowledge.
LPC decided to publish two of my historical suspense novels next year, I began
a cordial relationship with staff members, who were impressed with the quality
of my novels as far as the writing, editing, and especially the spelling,
grammar, and formatting. Through conversations with LPC, they asked if I would
like to be an editor for them.
timing was right in that I recently retired after working fulltime 45 years. Can
you imagine my joy? I get to work–from my home—with excellent authors and to
read historical fiction–and get paid for it.
What did you most enjoy learning about the historical
period when Sandra’s novella takes place?
area of historical expertise includes the American Revolutionary War and the
Civil War, so when I was asked to edit The
Yuletide Angel
, which takes place in 1890, I wondered how much research I’d
have to do. Which was fine with me, because I’d rather research than write.
had fun learning about the history of glass making. This came about because
Sandra mentions the “plate-glass window” in Hugh’s store. I wondered if that
was a modern term, and set about my research journey. I was fascinated by
learning about
the use of glass as a building material on display at The
Crystal Palace of 1851, built by Joseph Paxton to house the Great Exhibition.
Because this blog is The Stiletto Gang, shoes and
accessories are frequent topics of discussion. Sandra, let me ask you to
respond to a question that Susan suggested. At Violet’s brother’s wedding, what
kinds of shoes would the bride and Violet be wearing?
Good question and one I didn’t address
in the story, so I’ll do so here. Lila, the bride, wore ivory satin tie shoes
with floral-patterned beadwork to match the beadwork on her ivory satin gown.
By this time, Violet was becoming more bold in her choice of attire and shaking
off the black in favor of brighter colors like red. However, she didn’t want to
show up the bride and chose a velvet dress of deep purple and matching purple
satin pumps with a purple bow on top. Both pairs of shoes had a thick, flared
heel no higher than two inches. It’s amazing how fashion is repeated over time.
It isn’t uncommon to see similar heels today. You’ll find examples on my
Pinterest board for The Yuletide Angel.
Susan, here’s a similar question for you: in your
Revolutionary War novel, The Chamomile,
a wedding occurs. What shoes did your bride wear and what special accessory did
she carry?
had such fun chatting with naturalist, Rudy Mancke, asking him, “The wedding
between Lilyan Cameron and Nicholas Xanthakos takes place in May 1781 in the
South Carolina swamps near Charleston. What would my bride carry in her
bouquet?” When Rudy mentioned that orchids grow wild in those swamps, my scene
was born. In that scene, Brigadier General Francis Marion, Nicholas’s
commander, has one of his men present Lilyan with an orchid he spent hours
searching for in the swamps. The other camp followers offer Lilyan a blue
mantua dress, a kerchief, and slippers. Her brother, Andrew, drapes the clan
Cameron scarf across her shoulder and pins it with the clan brooch.
Thank you both for being with us today. Please let me
highly recommend Sandra Ardoin’s and Susan F. Craft’s work. They each portray
fascinating characters and convey historical periods in excellent narratives.
Treat yourselves and others to their stories.

A legislative attorney and former law librarian,
Paula Gail Benson’s short stories have been published in Kings River Life, the Bethlehem
Writers Roundtable
, Mystery Times Ten
(Buddhapuss Ink), A Tall Ship, a
Star, and Plunder
(Dark Oak Press and Media, 2014). Her most recent story, “Moving On,” appears in A Shaker of Margaritas: That Mysterious
(November 2014). 

12 replies
  1. Sandra Ardoin
    Sandra Ardoin says:

    Thank you for having us today, Paula! I loved reading Susan's replies and knowing she's got my back on the research! She was wonderful to work with, especially when my grammar and wordiness can be questionable. 🙂

  2. Debra H. Goldstein
    Debra H. Goldstein says:

    What an interesting combination of author/editor to produce an even more interesting final product. Look forward to reading it.

  3. Susan Craft
    Susan Craft says:

    Thank you, Paula. I had fun doing this interview. And don't let Sandra fool you, she's an excellent writer whose manuscript needed very little editing. It was so good, I found myself getting wrapped up in the story and I would forget to edit.

  4. E. B. Davis
    E. B. Davis says:

    All month I've downloaded Christmas novellas. I'm so glad I have a new title to download. I also had never heard of Lighthouse Publishing. Since my novel is set on the Outer Banks, I might inquire about if they are accepting new manuscripts. Great interview, Paula!

  5. Paula Gail Benson
    Paula Gail Benson says:

    Thanks so much, E.B. I don't know which I enjoyed more, reading Sandra and Susan's work or interviewing them. They are lovely people and fine writers. I'm so glad you and Debra are adding them to your reading lists!

  6. Georgia Ruth
    Georgia Ruth says:

    I have spent many happy hours in research of the 18th century for a historical blog for my neighbor's family whose roots are in Wales. It is easy to lose an afternoon but very enjoyable for me. I look forward to learning more about the research shared by Sandra and Susan's work. Thank you, Paula.

  7. Paula Gail Benson
    Paula Gail Benson says:

    Thanks so much, Georgia! I love reading your historical stories. Best wishes for a wonderful holiday!

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