today’s book: A Louisiana Christmas to Remember
Cue all the Christmas music and bring me your favorite Christmas cookies because….IT’S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN!!! ARE YOU EXCITED?!? It’s time for our annual blog series spotlighting (over 70 this year) new and recently-released Christmas reads! This is the 7th year for the Christmas Reads Giveaway series, and I think I get more excited about it every year 🙂
Christmas is still 42 days away, according to Google, BUT it’s never too early for Christmas stories. Beginning now and continuing through just after Christmas, I’m going to spotlight several Christmasy releases from 2023. So… snuggle in, grab your fave hot beverage (wassail anyone?) and comfiest blanket, turn on some Christmas tunes and start your bookish Christmas list! And no doubt you know the drill by now – there are GIVEAWAYS with EACH POST in this series??!! (Because authors are awesome!)
A LOUISIANA CHRISTMAS TO REMEMBER by Morgan Tarpley Smith, Betsy St. Amant & Lenora Worth
GENRE: Contemporary Romance Collection (Christian)
PUBLISHER: Barbour Fiction
RELEASE DATE: September 1, 2023
A Rare Snowfall Leads to a Christmas to Remember
Three heartwarming, interconnected stories of faith, love, and restoration, brought to you by three Louisiana-native authors. Will a rare snowy Louisiana Christmas bring restoration and hope to the hometown and hearts of three women from the town’s founding family?
In A Louisiana Snow by Morgan Tarpley Smith, meet Mattie: A passionate visionary who learns to forgive and finds love in unexpected places…
In Restoring Christmas by Betsy St. Amant, meet Jolene: An artist and prodigal daughter who discovers love exists in the very place she once called home…
In A Christmas Reunion by Lenora Worth, meet Adale: A beautiful widow who finally dares to love again…
And don’t forget Granny, whose feisty spirit, blunt dialogue, and quirky ways play an important and endearing role.
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You can read my review of A Louisiana Christmas to Remember HERE
Q&A with the Authors
by Morgan Tarpley Smith, co-author of A Louisiana Christmas to Remember
What do gumbo, an old French chapel, and a feisty granny have in common?
They’re all at the heart of “A Louisiana Christmas to Remember,” our three-novella contemporary Christian romance collection from Barbour Publishing.
Two unique aspects of our collection are that the novellas are interconnected with one seamlessly weaving into the other during the three weeks leading up to Christmas in the fictional town of Moreau, Louisiana, and that they were penned by authors who are either originally from Louisiana or lived there several decades. Betsy and I (Morgan) still reside in Louisiana.
The idea for this collection began with a 2021 social media post. An avid reader of Christian fiction was compiling a list of Christmas books set in all 50 U.S. states and hadn’t listed one for Louisiana. I was tagged in the post, but I couldn’t think of a single title. Then, someone commented, “why don’t you write one,” and my mind was whirling!
Not long afterward, Lenora and Betsy were graciously on board, and the characters of Mattie, Jolene, and Adale drifted into our lives like a Christmas snow. We had the best time planning and writing these stories and adding to our Pinterest boards too.
Since our book is set at Christmastime, we thought it would be fun to name a few of our favorite things about this special time of year. We’d love to know yours too in the comments!
Morgan: decorating the tree and sharing memories about all the special ornaments
Betsy: driving around with my family, drinking Starbucks hot chocolate and looking at Christmas lights
Lenora: I love baking cookies and preparing gumbo, listening to Christmas songs.
Morgan: I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day by Casting Crowns
Betsy: O Holy Night
Lenora: So many, but I love Please Come Home for Christmas by the Eagles
Morgan: gingerbread cookies and my husband’s gumbo (not together—ha!)
Betsy: my dad’s sausage balls on Christmas morning!
Lenora: All—anything that is sweet and bad for me!
Morgan: White Christmas
Betsy: This isn’t a conventional Christmas movie, but – Family Stone is a tradition!
Lenora: Christmas Vacation—a tradition
Morgan: twinkling white lights on trees and houses
Betsy: the homemade gnomes my mom made for me a few years ago
Lenora: decorating my fake palm tree
Why did you set this book in Louisiana?
Morgan: Lenora, Betsy, and I are proud Louisiana girls, who wanted to bring some of the warmth, humor, and spirit of our home state’s Southern culture to the page. Our stories are set in the fictional town of Moreau, which is loosely based on the lovely city of Natchitoches, the oldest European settlement in Louisiana.
Natchitoches was founded by a French explorer in 1714, and in the late 1700s, my ancestors were actually married there. I love visiting this charming place adored by tourists for its gorgeous scenery, delicious food, and friendly people.
It’s also known for being the setting of the hit 1989 film, “Steel Magnolias,” and for dazzling Christmas lights displays and decorations, which have drawn the masses each year for the Festival of Lights since 1927.
What was the experience like to work with co-authors to write interconnected novellas instead of standalones? Have you written in this way before?
Betsy: I’ve never written this way and it was a lot of fun—and a lot of work! There was a lot to coordinate, and Morgan was great with keeping us on task with maps and visual aids so we could keep consistency. The novella sets I’ve done before were loosely connected to the same town, but never to the same family in a continuation. But our never-ending Facebook Messenger chain of back and forth was pretty hilarious!
Lenora: I’ve done several novellas with others, but this one was a joy and so much fun. These characters came to life for us because we worked hard to make them real.
What are some universal themes for your stories? How did they come about?
Morgan: Restoration is a theme that resonates through all three stories in more ways than one. One of the central focuses of our book is the physical restoration of a historic chapel that was built by our characters’ ancestors centuries before and damaged during a hurricane. Our main characters, Mattie, Jolene and Adale, also have their own journeys of restoration as they are forced to face the past during this Christmas season.
Betsy: Second chances are also a big theme of our entire set. Second chances not only in romance, but in friendships, family relationships, and with the town in general.
What do you love most about your character?
Betsy: I love that Jolene puts on a bit of a tough shell but underneath, is vulnerable and in need of healing. I also really like how she’s artistic and “marches to her own drum” in what she wants and how she dresses.
Morgan: What stands out to me the most about Mattie is her loyalty to her family and friends and how much she cares for those in her life and anyone she meets really. She is fiercely loyal and reliable and works hard to help others.
Lenora: I loved writing the older characters because, well, I’m old. I can relate.
Do you have a favorite minor character? If yes, why are they your favorite?
Morgan: Hands down, it’s Granny Eloise for all of us. She tried (and sometimes succeeded) stealing every scene she was in. She is definitely a strong Southern woman.
Betsy: Definitely Granny! She was so much fun to write.
Lenora: Yes, Granny.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from the stories?
Betsy: I hope readers finish this novella set with a sigh of contentment, a new appreciation for Louisiana culture, and a hankerin’ for a big bowl of gumbo!
Lenora: That family matters, and small towns can blend a whole community, and faith will always guide our decisions.
Thank you so much for allowing me to be your guest today! I hope y’all have a Merry Christmas and happy reading!
Morgan Tarpley Smith is a world traveler who weaves stories of history and heart. She loves to write inspirational fiction that transports readers to faraway places and intertwines past and present to explore questions of truth and faith. Morgan is an award-winning journalist, freelance writer, and author assistant, who lives in Louisiana with her husband and son. “A Louisiana Snow” is her debut novella. For more information, visit her website.
Betsy St. Amant is the author of over twenty romance novels and novellas. She resides in north Louisiana with her hubby, two daughters, an impressive stash of coffee mugs, and one furry Schnauzer-toddler. Betsy has a B.A. in Communications and a deep-rooted passion for seeing women restored to truth. When she’s not composing her next book or trying to prove unicorns are real, Betsy can be found somewhere in the vicinity of an iced coffee. She writes frequently for www.ibelieve.com, a devotional site for women. For more information, visit her website.
Lenora Worth is an ACFW Honor Roll member. She writes inspirational fiction for Harlequin’s Love Inspired and sweet romance for Tule Publishing. She also writes for Kensington Books and helped launch the Rodeo Knights Western Romance imprint. Her LIS Body of Evidence made the NY Times Bestseller list and she is also a USA Today and Publishers Weekly Bestselling author. In 2016, she received a Romantic Times Pioneers of Fiction Award. Three of her books have been nominated for the ACFW Carol Award and she is an RWA RITA finalist. Lenora has written over 100 books and has an estimated three million books in print. She loves cheesecake, shoe shopping, walking on the beach, and reading. For more information, visit her website.
Morgan Tarpley Smith is offering a print copy of A Louisiana Christmas to Remember (signed by her) to one of my readers! (US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.) This giveaway is subject to Reading Is My SuperPower’s giveaway policies which can be found here. Enter via the Rafflecopter form below.
What about you? What makes you want to read A Louisiana Christmas to Remember by Morgan Tarpley Smith, Betsy St. Amant & Lenora Worth? What are some of your fave things about Christmas?