Saturday, December 26, 2015

HER CANDY CANE CHRISTMAS - Bonnie Engstrom - One Free Book

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 Newport Beach, California, 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.

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 Newport Beach where we lived for forty years or in Scottsdale where we live now. I do have a future Christmas novella set in Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania, where my family vacationed when I was a child. A novel that is waiting to be revised is partially set in 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 George Washington University in D.C. when he was assassinated, and he made a huge impression on me. That’s a tough question, 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 stories evolved.

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 fiancĂ© 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 Sherman 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.
Newport Beach, California
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 MacArthur 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 Rogers Gardens had started its opulent annual boutique that attracted so many out of towners.

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 Newport Coast Drive. Still, I would have passed Rogers Gardens on 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 hate that.

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 anymore.

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?

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 (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.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Google+, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link:


Connie said...

Bonnie, I also thought I would never be a grandmother. My daughter was over 42 and had been married for over 10 years when she told me she was pregnant. My granddaughter is 22 months old and has given this 65 year old grandmother more joy than she will ever understand. I don't think she will have siblings but I thank God that she was given to me!
Your new book sounds delightful. Happy New Year Bonnie and Lena!
Connie from KY

LauraHix said...

This book sounds fantastic! I love being Memaw to 14 beautiful kids from 19 to 2. I am fully blessed. Live in Northeast Texas and also have a husband and a Diva Chiwiennie named Roscoe!

Linda Kish said...

I felt like I was going home reading that passage. My sister used to live in Newport Beach before she died. All of those streets and places sound so familiar to me.
Now I understand The Candy Cane Girls name. I was confused until I read that passage. Thanks for that. Makes sense.


lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Bonnie Engstrom said...

Hi, Connie! I am thrilled for you that you now have a granddaughter! Don't worry about her having siblings. Both my hubby and I are only children, hopefully not spoiled ones, and we not only survived, but loved it! However, it was a challenge raising three kids since we'd had no experience with sibling rivalry. Just enjoy! You are blessed. But, do buy out all the adorable outfits for little girls ... and make sure she wears them before she outgrows them. Have fun!
And ... I do hope you enjoy Her Candy Cane Christmas.

Bonnie Engstrom said...

Laura ~ Thank you for your comment. I don't know if I'm jealous or relieved that I don't have as many grandchildren as you. You have been blessed 14 times! I'm not sure I could afford the Christmas presents for that many! Lola and Sam send Christmas wishes to Roscoe. I bet your fourteen grandkids adore him. Thanks for reading Lena's blog. I hope you enjoy my book.

Hugs, Bonnie

Bonnie Engstrom said...

Dear Linda ~ Newport is really a small town where we often met each other in the market. I wonder if I knew your sister. We lived in Harbor View Homes; where did she live? If you are comfortable sharing her name and former location, email it to me, please. I hope you will read my book. I think you will enjoy learning more about the Sherman Foundation Gardens and have fun with more locations you will recognize. If you still have friends in Newport, please share this blog with them. Thanks for your wonderful comment.


Gail Kittleson said...

Fun to learn a bit more about you, Bonnie. Hoping to meet you in the new year.

Mary Preston said...

I think it's fun that you include real people into your stories.

Mary P


Cindy W. said...

Hi Bonnie! Wow! Reading the excerpt made me fill I was right in the car traveling with Noelle. I used to live in Anaheim, CA and my hairstylist used to work at Kitty Olivier's on PCH. I use to travel down that way once a month and loved to continue driving after my appointment just for the ocean view. I always went early so I could find a parking place, and the 'gridlock' you described brought back such memories. I live in Indiana now and really miss the ocean and the beach towns.

I would love to win a copy of your book. Thank you for the opportunity.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W. from Indiana

Diana Flowers said...

Hi, Bonnie! I enjoyed the interview and getting better acquainted. I used to live in Southern CA and my son was born in Anaheim. I loved it there, but my hubby wanted to move back to his roots in SC and so after 27 years, I feel more southern than anything else! I'm fighting the accent, but I fear I am losing the battle. Lol I would love to read Her Candy Cane Christmas and take a small vacay back to CA via your book. :)

Diana in SC


Beth Gillihan said...

Sounds like a great read! Thanks for hte chance to win!

BEth in Montana

Edward Arrington said...

This seems like it would be a book that would interest my wife. I'd love to win it for her.
Edward A in VA

Melanie Backus said...

Sounds like a winner to me!

Melanie Backus, TX

apple blossom said...

sounds like a lovely read thanks for the chance to win
live in ND

Brenda Arrington said...

Sounds like one I would really enjoy reading. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.
Brenda in VA

Bonnie Engstrom said...

Hi, Mary! I am glad you like the idea of including real people. I try to do that in all my stories. It makes it more fun for them and me. Hey, don't we all want to be a star at some point in our lives? Thanks for liking the idea. I hope you will read the story and enjoy it. And, leave a review on amazon.


Bonnie Engstrom said...

Wow, Cindy W.! We probably met at some time. Yes, I used to go to Kitty Oliver's for hair styled by Jenny. She even gave my now 39 yo daughter her first haircut. So glad you enjoyed reading about the area and the PCH travel along the ocean. Pretty spectacular. My kids all took riding lessons there. On the beach.

Thank you for enjoying Lena's blog interview. I hope if you don't win (but I hope you do), you will read the book and enjoy it ... and, please, leave a review on amazon.


PS ~ Please sign up for my new newsletter on my website.

Bonnie Engstrom said...

Hi, Diana Flowers! What a beautiful name. I am glad you have adjusted to living in the south, but understand missing S. CA. My children were all born in various hospitals near N.B., so we have something in common besides Newport. Maybe you could take a small vacay back to Newport for an anniversary, or to attend a book signing I hope to have there soon. Then, we could 'do lunch' at Tommy Bahama's, like in the book.

Thanks so much for enjoying Lena's interview. I hope if you don't' win (but, I hope you will),
you will read Her California Candy Cane Christmas and enjoy it. Also, if you liked it, please post a review on amazon. I would really appreciate that.


Anne Payne said...

Hi Bonnie! I've been perusing your website and wow! You have a fantastic testimony of how God has worked in your life and moved you into writing novellas. I'm looking forward to reading your works. I wish you the best! Oh, I signed up for your newsletter too. :)

And Lena, Thanks so much for introducing me to another author!

Anne~ Chesapeake Bay, VA

Kim Amundsen said...

Nice interview!

Bonnie Engstrom said...

Thanks, Beth. I hope you enjoy it. Good luck!


Bonnie Engstrom said...

Good morning, Edward. Thanks for commenting. If you don't win the book, be sure to buy it for your wife. Good luck!


Bonnie Engstrom said...

Thank you for commenting, Melanie. I hope it is a winner in many ways. Happy New Year!


Bonnie Engstrom said...

Dear Apple Blossom,
Lovely name! Thanks for commenting.


Bonnie Engstrom said...

Hi, Brenda! I hope you will enjoy reading it. Don't forget to sign up at my website for my upcoming newsletter.


Bonnie Engstrom said...

Hi, Anne! Thank you for enjoying the interview and for checking out my website ... and, for signing up for my upcoming newsletter. Yes, God has blessed me so much.


Bonnie Engstrom said...

Hi, Kim. Thanks for the compliment. So glad you enjoyed the interview.


Sharon Richmond Bryant said...

Enter me!!
Conway, SC.

rubynreba said...

Beautiful cover and the story sounds equally wonderful. Look forward to reading this.
Beth from IA