Anytime I hear from Shelley Shepard Gray, I smile. She’s so gracious and charming, and her books are the same! Today, Shelley joins us as part of the Litfuse blog tour for The Gift, the latest book in her Amish of Hart County series set in Kentucky.
New York Times Bestselling Author Shelley Shepard Gray gifts us with a special Christmas story about love and blessings in this next book in her Amish of Hart County series.
The Schwartz family is happy to be spending Christmas on their new farm in Hart County. But when Susanna Schwartz hears gunshots that causes her buggy to overturn, and then her little sister falls through a wooden bridge into the icy creek, it becomes clear from these dangerous “accidents” that someone wants them gone.
Neil Vance has been heartbroken ever since his parents lost their family farm. He knows it’s not the Schwartz family’s fault, but he can’t help but be resentful. Until he meets Susanna. She is kind-hearted and bold, and Neil can’t stop thinking about her pretty green eyes.
Neil thinks the accidents are just that, but Susanna’s father is convinced the Vance family is responsible. Susanna refuses to believe Neil would do anything to harm her. She’s fallen in love with him and knows he is a good man. But her family is ready to pack up and move, and time is running out to uncover the truth before someone gets hurt…or worse.
I have to admit that I got a little carried away while writing THE GIFT! I spent a lot of time working on everyone’s characters, trying to make everybody flawed but still likeable so readers would have a variety of suspects. I worked hard on the Horse Cave scenes, trying to recreate the feelings I had when I wandered around the cave in the dark. Finally, I loved the messages about forgiveness and Christmas and God bringing people into our lives as unexpected gifts. I wrote and rewrote those scenes in an effort to do those themes justice.
But then I realized it wasn’t all that…well…Christmasy. Nobody was decorating, shopping, singing, baking, or sledding around in the snow. Oops!
After reading through the book again, I changed a couple of the scenes so I could have Susanna and Neil delivering Christmas cookies. After I wrote those scenes, it now felt like a ‘Shelley Shepard Gray’ book, at least to me. After all, anyone who knows me knows I bake all the time!
Here are two of my most recent ‘adopted’ Christmas cookie recipes. I actually think it’s kind of fun to drop those Snow Drop Cookies into the paper sack (once an elementary teacher, always an elementary school teacher). And as for the bars? Well, who doesn’t enjoy the ease of 7 ingredient layered bars? I hope y’all enjoy the cookies. Who knows? Maybe in the midst of your Christmas preparations you’ll give them a try when you realize you, too, are in need of a little Christmas pick-me-up.
Wishing everyone many blessings this holiday season!
Snow Drop Cookies
1 c margarine or butter softened
½ c sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 ¼ c flour
¼ tsp. salt
¾ finely chopped walnuts or pecans
Extra powdered sugar
Small paper bag.
Mix butter or margarine, ½ cup powdered sugar and vanilla together thoroughly. Sift flour and salt together. Stir nuts into flour. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture until all is blended. Chill dough 2 hours. Roll into small balls 1-inch in diameter. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake @ 350* for 12-15 minutes. While hot, drop a few cookies at a time in bag with powdered sugar. Gently coat cookies. Remove and cool on waxed paper. Makes about 30 cookies.
Almond Coconut Bars
1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup butter, melted
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 7oz package flaked coconut
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup peanut butter
24 blanched almonds
Preheat oven to 350*. Combine graham cracker crumbs and butter. Press into an ungreased 13×9 baking pan. Combine milk and coconut and carefully spread over the crust. Bake 18-20 minutes until lightly brown.
Combine chocolate chips and peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl or small skillet. Microwave for 1 minute or heat on stovetop until chips are melted. Stir until smooth. Spread over warm bars and garnish with almonds. Refrigerate for one hour before cutting.
Shelley Shepard Gray is a “New York Times” and “USA Today” bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.
Enter to win a copy of The Gift. Five winners will be chosen! Click the image below to enter to win. The winners will be announced November 22nd on the Litfuse blog!
What about you? What’s your favorite Christmas goodie??