What made you decide to do a Christmas themed book?
The Christmas Project is the fourth book in a series. Though each book is a standalone story, they’re all set in the same fictional town and pick up the timeline where the last book left off. The third book ends in November. It made sense for the fourth to take place during the Christmas season.
How did you come up with the idea for your Christmas themed book?
Once I decided that the fourth book in my Stories From Hartford series was going to happen in December, I knew the small town was going to have a lot of Christmas traditions. Then I imagined the main character as an eager participant in those traditions.
Could you give me a short synopsis of the story for my readers?
All four of the Hartford books are clean romances. In this one, Gaby is trying to get her friend and next-door neighbor, Owen, involved in the Christmas festivities. He resists only because he knows how much Gaby enjoys the friendly struggle. Meanwhile, Owen is trying to figure out how to put a romantic spin on their relationship.
What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions?
I was raised Catholic and always loved going to Midnight Mass. We lived close enough to walk to church. There was something magical about passing all the lights and decorations in the stillness of that late hour. I still enjoy it. Getting out of bed after being up so late is harder now than it was when I was younger though.
Last year, we were visiting my parents, and their pastor scheduled “Midnight Mass” for 10 pm. My kids were not impressed. I thought it was a wonderful idea. I also get some German Christmas bread called stollen from my aunt each year. My grandmother used to bake it and pass it out to the family and my great-grandmother before her. I think my favorite traditions are the ones with deep roots. And this one is delicious.
My next book is coming out in January. They See a Family is a light Christian romance, like most of my books. I’ll be passing out review copies starting in the middle of November. Anyone interested can contact me through Goodreads to ask for one. Though this book is not part of a series, I am writing a short story that precedes it on my blog.
Any special awards or achievements you’d like to mention?
The first book in the Hartford series, Andrew’s Key, was given the CWG Seal of Approval.
What’s the best writing tip you’ve learned or been given that you’d like to share?
I guess I would say that there is always room for improvement. It’s easier to avoid being defensive if you’ve accepted that principle. Not all criticism means ‘You’re a terrible writer.’ It might mean ‘The smile I got from that paragraph could be an outright laugh if you tweak the delivery.’ Of course, that doesn’t mean you always have to take advice, just be open to it.
What do you know now about writing and publishing you wish you had learned sooner?
It’s worth it. I went into this with a fairly realistic (or pessimistic, depending on how you look at it) view. I expected it to be hard. I expected to make very little money. And I expected that not every review/reaction would be positive. I was stubborn enough to call myself a writer anyway.
It has been hard. I do feel underpaid. And at least one review made me cry. That’s my reality. But I’ve been writing and publishing for more than ten years now. When I look back on my experiences, it’s the good things that stand out. I remember the thoughtful reviews, the readers who thanked me for entertaining them, and the satisfaction I get from calling another book finished. Some of the obstacles along the way might have been easier if I’d known how they’d be overshadowed by the joys.
That's all for today's interview. If you would like to learn more about Amanda’s books, excerpts, and short stories, visit her website:
Goodreads author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/929579.Amanda_Hamm