Bio: Bonnie Engstrom and her psychologist husband, Dave, live in
Arizona near four of
their six grandchildren. The other two live in Costa Rica where they surf. But
they share their Arizona
home with Sam and Lola, their two rescued mutts in charge of the household. She
used to bake dozens of Christmas cookies in November and freeze them so she
would have a lot to pass out to neighbors. Now … well, that was a long time
ago. Instead of cookies for Christmas, she writes. Her Candy Cane Christmas is
set in , where her family was raised and
where they have many fond Christmas memories; it is perfect for gift giving. Or
for just cuddling up by the fire for an inspiring romance read. Newport Beach, California
She hopes you enjoy it and will also gift it to a special female in your life. Don’t forget to leave an honest review on Amazon.
Welcome back, Bonnie. God has really been moving in your writing life. What do you see on the horizon?
Sometimes, I wish I could see in the future. But, prophesying is not one of my gifts. I have started a sequel to Butterfly Dreams, my debut novel – only got through several chapters, then set it aside when I started to write Her Candy Cane Christmas. Now I’m excited about writing a whole novella collection based on Candy Cane. There are enough characters in it that their stories could go on for a very long time. I’m writing Cindy’s story now for a Valentine Day release. But one would have to read Her Candy Cane Christmas to know who Cindy is.
Tell us a little about your family.
For many years another friend and I were the only two in our Bible study without grandchildren. I clung to Psalm 37, the part about desires of your heart. Ten years ago, God blessed me with our first grandchild, an adorable girl. Then God gave us the explosion! Three more siblings for her (a sister and boy/girl twins) and two darling boys in
Costa Rica. I also have four black
grand cats, two in Arizona (Loco and Poco)
with our daughter and two in Maryland (Riley
and Blackie) with our son and daughter-in-law, and a grand dog, Lucy a French
Bulldog, in Costa Rica.
Plus, our own twosome, two adopted mutts.
Please rescue and adopt a pet and give it a forever home. We’ve even had a rescued love bird and a turtle. Only drawback is you can’t cuddle them.
Our mutts, Lola and Sam. Lola just had extensive back surgery - $7500!
Oops, I do have a husband, Dave, of fifty years. He is the most important. He is a shrink (psychologist) and a drummer. Also the resident chef. His chicken and salmon dishes are divine.
Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
Not really. I read every night before bed for about two hours; read mostly romances, but lately as a diversion, I’ve been reading silly cat mysteries.
What are you working on right now?
I guess I answered that in your first question. But, I hope your readers will look in January for my Valentine story (as yet un-named). Maybe you will be willing to host me again for that book?
Of course. Email me when you have a title and a pub date. What outside interests do you have?
Not much time for any, except Bible study and helping with four grandchildren. For thirty-five years I was super involved in PTA and held five presidencies, including a school-district-wide one. Education has always been very important to me. Now, it seems like I’m either helping in a grandchild’s classroom or attending a spelling bee or a fifth grade concert. I do moderate two online prayer chains, and that sometimes takes up a lot of time.
How do you choose your settings for each book?
Almost all of my stories are set either in
Beach where we lived for forty years or in Scottsdale where we live now. I do have a
future Christmas novella set in ,
where my family vacationed when I was a child. A novel that is waiting to be
revised is partially set in Cambridge
Springs, Pennsylvania Sweden
where Dave’s and my ancestors hailed from. I like familiar.
My stories are all character driven, so I like my characters to evolve in the environs I know so well. However, I still have to do some research to make each setting authentic.
If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
It would probably be John F. Kennedy. Dave and I were at
in D.C. when
he was assassinated, and he made a huge impression on me. That’s a tough
question, George Washington
University Lena. It would also be fascinating
to spend time with Salinger or Shakespeare or F. Scott Fitzgerald. Any
well-known contemporary author. It would be fascinating to learn how their
What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
How time consuming editing is. I actually go over each novel or novella laboriously about five times before turning it in to my publisher. I’m sure I still miss some errors. In fact, Cynthia Hickey, my publisher at Forget Me Not Romances, caught one immediately in Her Candy Cane Christmas. I missed spelling “once” correctly, spelled it “ounce.” Yikes!
What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
Trust and patience. Two of my children are going through divorce. Because that affects the grandchildren, I worry, I pray, I worry, I pray. Then, I trust.
Things like that are really hard. I have a grandson who is divorced, so I know. What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
What I just said above. Have patience, trust, pray, and keep writing. Of course attend conferences and make connections with other writers, especially through American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). That’s where I met Cynthia Hickey who is now my publisher at Forget Me Not Romances.
Tell us about the featured book.
I wanted the title to be Her California Candy Cane Christmas, but publisher said “no.” Still, she put A California Romance on the cover. And, as I always do, I include real people in my stories as minor characters. That makes it more fun for me, and hopefully for them. Of course, they each get a complimentary, signed print copy.
About the story:
Noelle Day finally has the courage to break off her ill-fated engagement with her volatile fiancé and cancel their Christmas wedding. It’s embarrassing, and she has to share the humiliating reason with her friends The Candy Canes. The other five girls were to be her attendants in red taffeta gowns.
When she faints and falls into the arms of Braydon Lovejoy, the now former wedding florist, Braydon is confused by her abrupt manner. Who is this beautiful woman with the sepia hair and the huge brown eyes? Is she a damsel in distress as he suspects by the yellow bruise on her wrist?
When he backs his delivery van into her precious red car, he’s sure she would never go out with him, especially since he was hired to deliver a huge bouquet of roses to her from a secret admirer.
Noelle is confused how to respond when Bruce, the school principal, physically forces himself on her. After all, he is her boss, and she’s just a first year English teacher.
She finally accepts a lunch date with Braydon, and he takes her to
Gardens in Corona del Mar, California where she
learns he is the local rose expert. But Noelle worries their friendship is
happening too fast and calls a respite.
One of the Candy Canes has a tragic accident, and the women bond together. But Braydon, who is not sure why he is involved, becomes their anchor.
Will Braydon’s prayers heal the hurts, physically and emotionally? Will the injured Candy Cane forgive the woman who caused her accident, the woman who is related to Bruce the principal?
Will Noelle ever have her California Candy Cane Christmas?
Please give us the first page of the book.
NOELLE pumped on the brakes and surveyed the string of cars through the fog on her windshield. The sea mist was especially heavy this afternoon. She slammed her palm against the leather-covered steering wheel and gnawed on her lip. Why had she taken
Boulevard to the Coast Highway today? Is this the first
day of the Christmas Boat Parade weekend? No, that’s not until December. This
is only the Friday before Thanksgiving – not yet holiday season.
Yet, it was in full swing. Must be stuff like the fifteen decorated Christmas trees for charity at the Fairmont Hotel and the special Thanksgiving event of the film festival. So much was always happening in this tourist town. Even
had started its
opulent annual boutique that attracted so many out of towners. Rogers
She had read about all the events in the Daily Navigator, but in her stressful frame of mind she’d forgotten. I could have avoided Corona del Mar completely by taking surface streets and
Coast Drive. Still, I would have passed
on Rogers Gardens San Joaquin Hills Road
and had to deal with the tourist buses. She gripped the steering wheel with
damp hands. Either way, I will be late for my appointment with the florist. I
Jill, her now former wedding coordinator, said the florist was forgiving, but Noelle lived for punctuality. Her mother said she was a bit obsessive about it, but she didn’t care. Being on time was a matter of courtesy. If only the faculty meeting hadn’t lasted so long. Then the principal followed her to her car chatting and constantly touching her arm. Maybe she should have left early. But, as the new teacher that would have made her look bad. Canceling her wedding just a month before the planned date made her look bad enough.
The cars inched forward along
Pacific Coast Highway, truly inched,
giving Noelle no way to change lanes or get out of the mess. She would be at
least twenty minutes late. Maybe thirty.
Finally! The Persian rug store and a few niche restaurants came into view, including Rothchild’s. At last she was turning south. She passed the Starbucks at the corner of Marguerite Avenue where three tiny tables were crowded with bundled-up patrons each holding a dog leash, and amazingly, sleeping dogs. What gives with that? Guess those people aren’t going to any tourist events. Smart move.
The light finally turned green and Noelle’s little car crept past the Five Crowns Restaurant and through the last clogged intersection of Corona del Mar. Breathing a sigh of relief, she gunned the gas and sped past the open spaces. The endless
Pacific Ocean on
her right spouted huge waves that rolled in to spit up on the sand below the
bluffs. It was a beautiful sight she never tired of, although she seldom saw it
She passed the Sugar Shake Shack and memories flooded her brain. The girls from her swim team had pulled into the sand lot in front of it. They were tired and smelled of chlorine from the high school pool, but they’d won. Their relay team, dubbed the Candy Canes because of their red and white striped swimsuits, was responsible for Vista del Mar High School taking the All-state title. She’d thought Coach Douglas might have a heart attack, he was so excited. He’d hugged each of them, all the team members, not just the relay team, then slipped a twenty into each of the Candy Canes’ hands.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
My website is www.bonnieengstrom.com and my Facebook author page is https://www.facebook.com/bonnieengstromauthor?ref=aymt_homepage_panel
I hope readers will sign up for my newsletter that will begin quarterly in January. There is a signup link on my website.
But, my favorite way to connect is via email at email@example.com. (Be sure to put the word BOOK or the title of the book in the subject line.) Of course Her Candy Cane Christmas and my other books can be found under my name on Amazon.
Did you know you can get a free Kindle App on Amazon, and read my novellas and novels on your computer? Give it a try.
Author’s note: My photo was taken by my ten-year-old granddaughter across the table during breakfast at IHOP. I think I should take her to the next ACFW conference to be the photographer.
Thank you, Bonnie, for sharing this new book with us.
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