Saturday, December 7, 2013

Countdown to Christmas | Interview & Giveaway w/ Ann H Gabhart

Y'all! I'm so excited that Ann Gabhart was gracious enough to drop in this afternoon! She's sharing about some of her family's Christmas traditions (and one that I just love as a booklover!) and giving away a copy of her latest novel, Christmas at Harmony Hill. Join me in giving Ann a big welcome!

(You can find other stops along the way—and lots of giveaways—here. Later today, I'm sharing some great gifts that help others (finally!). Tomorrow, we're taking a tiny break from the party, but there's more fun all next week!)

i blog 4 books: Ann, welcome back to i blog 4 books! What is your most memorable Christmas and why?

Ann H. Gabhart: That’s a hard question. I’ve had so many great Christmases, but when I thought about how to answer this, the first memories that came to mind were the ones where things weren’t all good. When my youngest son was about 22 months old, I so looked forward to his excitement on that first Christmas when he would be old enough to really enjoy his gifts under the tree on Christmas morning. I knew he would be my last baby and I wanted to treasure every moment of his toddler time. And then… He came down with a stomach virus on Christmas Eve and had no interest at all in Christmas morning fun. My older two children did enjoy the morning. Of course two days later when the whole family caught my youngest’s bug, none of us were enjoying anything. LOL. I have had many really wonderful Christmases with my family where the kids did love their gifts, where the spirit of Christmas was fresh and real, and where nobody was sick!! But this is the one that came to mind first. I’m not sure what that says about me. LOL

ib4b: Ha! I'm not sure what that says about you either, but it definitely sounds like a memorable Christmas. :) Name three words that you associate with Christmas.

AHG: Joy. Family. Gift.

ib4b: How will your family celebrate Christmas this year?

AHG: We’ll have a traditional celebration with my kids and grandkids coming here on the weekend before Christmas. We’ll have Christmas dinner with lots of their favorite dishes. We’ll drive the grandkids crazy making them wait to open gifts, and we’ll feel blessed to share another year together. I’ll also enjoy celebrating with my church family at a candlelight service celebrating Jesus, the greatest gift.

ib4b: What is the best gift you’ve ever given?

AHG: Books. Years ago I started the tradition of buying my kids and my husband at least one book every Christmas. After my children married, I extended the tradition to their spouses and then to the grandkids when they came along. Everybody has to get a book. I like to believe that those book gifts fostered and encouraged their love of reading. What better gift could I give them?

ib4b: I love this tradition! I may have to borrow this one from you. Who gave you the best Christmas gift you’ve ever received? What was it?

AHG: My parents. They gave me a desk when I was a young teen dreaming of being a writer. When I sat at that little desk to write my stories or in my journal, I could believe that this little country girl who knew absolutely nothing about how to be a writer might someday put words together to make a story other people would want to read. I still have that desk with those early stories tucked away in its drawers even though my work desk now is a big old wooden secretarial desk my husband bought at an office salvage sale and had refinished for me years ago. Maybe that’s my second best gift.

ib4b: I love that your parents (and your husband) encouraged your dreams to be a writer! Tell me about the Christmas tradition that means the most to you.

AHG: Family gatherings. I love getting together with my family and also with our extended families. I love seeing the excitement in the grandkids’ eyes.

ib4b: How do you keep your focus on Christ during this hectic but wondrous time of year?

AHG: I do want to remember the Reason for the season – the birth of Jesus. But you’re right. It can be a hectic time when it’s hard to get everything done. The joy in Christmas music helps me focus on the wondrous gift of love. Our church candlelight service is a time to pause and reflect on God’s love as are all the Sundays leading up to Christmas. If I can remember that love is behind all the hustle and bustle, that helps. I give the gifts, cook the food, do the decorating because I love my family and want to make the holiday good for them. 

This or That ...
  • White or colorful lights? Colorful.
  • Turkey or ham? Ham.
  • Tree - real or fake? Fake.
  • Hot cocoa or apple cider? Hot apple cider. Yum!
  • Frosty or Rudolph? Rudolph.
  • Wrapping paper or gift bag? Wrapping paper until crunch time. Then gift bags.
About Christmas at Harmony Hill
It is 1864 and the nation is still torn apart by civil war when Heather Worth discovers she is with child. She has been working as a laundress with her husband's army unit, but when the army gets orders to march south to Tennessee, Gideon insists Heather go home to have their child under safer conditions. Heather agrees, but returns home to another kind of devastation--deaths in the family and a father who refuses to forgive her for marrying a Yankee. With nowhere else to turn, Heather seeks refuge at the Shaker village of Harmony Hill, where her great aunt Sophrena lives. There, after many peaceful years at Harmony Hill, Sophrena is having doubts about her Shaker path. Both women are in need of love and forgiveness--whether given or received. With Christmas coming, can the miracle of new life fill their hearts with unexpected joy?

Ann H. Gabhart's many fans will be thrilled to return to Harmony Hill at Christmastime for this stirring story of healing and hope.

About Ann H. Gabhart
Living just thirty miles from a restored Shaker village in Kentucky, Ann H. Gabhart has walked the same paths her character might have walked in generations past. Her thorough research provides a colorful backdrop for her Shaker novels. Ann is the author of several bestselling novels, including The Outsider, The Believer, The Seeker, The Blessed, and Angel Sister. The Gifted is the fifth book set in her Shaker village of Harmony Hill.

Ann lives on a farm with her husband, Darrell. They have three children, three in-law children, and nine grandchildren.

Connect with Ann Gabhart Online
Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Pinterest

Ann is offering one of YOU a copy of Christmas at Harmony. Giveaway is open internationally (paperback copy is available to residents of the US and Canada; e-copy is available to everyone else and ends December 12. Enter using the Rafflecopter widget below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*** All participants must be 18 years or older. The winner will be contacted via email. Once contacted the winner has 72 hours to respond with the required information. If the winner does not respond within the timeframe specified, another winner will be chosen. I am not responsible for shipping mishaps. Void where prohibited. ***


  1. Wrapping paper, love to watch my loved ones opening it! I loved Ann's answer to this, "Wrapping paper until crunch time. Then gift bags." Thanks for the great interview and giveaway!

  2. I would rather do wrapping paper. More that way. But sometimes I just don't have time to wrap everything.

  3. I don't know about you guys, suburban prep, Kara, and Amy C, but I'm way behind on my wrapping and may have to start hunting those gift bags. That's next week's focus. Wrapping and finishing decorating.

  4. I get more creative when I used wrapping paper. I tend to go with simple brown paper but then combine raffia and pretty ribbons or we stamp the paper. Though I do like how you can reuse gift bags. Okay...let me stick with an answer. :) Wrapping paper. :) Thank you for sharing.

  5. I am a gift bag person. I have never been able to wrap a present that looks good much less tie a pretty bow. My Mom says I use too much tape. I can make gift bags look good. I'm always in charge of those.
    Barbara Thompson

  6. I prefer wrapping paper, because I love the anticipation while opening the gift, & they are usually prettier, also. However, gift bags are easier, & quicker, & I'm usually running behind with Christmas preparations - & opt for the gift bags.


  7. I so enjoyed reading this! Merry Christmas!

  8. Gift bags,

  9. Enjoy following Ann, would sure love to have her christmas book

  10. I like wrapping paper and gift bags, some have such pretty designs. Loved reading this blog.

  11. i use wrapping paper most of the time, i will use a bag if needed, i love Anns books a lot, hope to win this giveaway thanks
    Shirley B

  12. I actually use both it depends on the gift and who it is for. I love the invention of the gift bag, but sometimes they aren't big enough. Merry CHRISTmas

  13. Great to read that some of you get behind with wrapping too. Not that that is going to be any help at all to me as I rush to wrap my presents before Christmas. I so appreciate you following me over to read about my Christmas celebrations and oddities.

    Kelly, I don't get real creative wrapping the way you do. I'm more like you, Barbara. I get creative with that tape. Sometimes you have to patch that hole you rip in the paper when you hit the sharp edge of the box. And sometimes you have to piece in a little extra paper when you didn't quite cut the piece big enough. All kinds of creative ways to use tape. :) I do decorate the packages with cut out scenes from old Christmas cares sometimes. Is that creative or is that borrowing the creativity of others?

    1. P.S. I would have answered you all individually, but I had three of the grandkids here all weekend. I'm bushed!

  14. Wrapping paper for kids, gift bags or boxes for adults !
    Linda Finn

  15. I like the questions on this blog. I like gift bags, always! I'm the worst gift wrapper, ever! Love to win the book Christmas at Harmony Hill. sharon, CA wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

  16. I am going to say gift bags ! They are so much easer to take out and put away

  17. Wrapping Paper. Newspaper works, too.

  18. Linda, I try to wrap for my grandkids too. They love tearing into the packages. Of course, then they are ready for the next package!!

    Sharon, my wrapped gifts wouldn't win any prizes either, but there's something neat about wrapping presents with Christmas songs on the radio.

    Danie, the gift bags do recycle better although I had an aunt once who would carefully remove gift wrapping and then iron it to use it over. Not going to happen with my grandkids' presents. Nothing careful about their unwrapping.

    Holly, I've wrapped a many a birthday present for the kids in the comic pages. They love it. Never used other parts of the newspaper. I do have a huge present to wrap this year, so newspapers might be the thrifty solution. I'd rather spend my money on the gift than the wrapping, wouldn't you?

  19. I use fabric bags, paper bags, tissue paper, wrapping paper, and lots of tape!

  20. I really use both! Depending on the shape of the gift, I wrap some and gift bag some. I have been known to use trash bags when it is a really large gift.

  21. I would like the gift bags more. Less hassle and easy to get to the goodies.

  22. Laura, sounds as if you are very creative with your gift wrapping. I have wrapped birthday presents for the grandkids in plain paper and then cut out the letters of their name free hand from construction paper to put on the front. Always turns out cute. Of course I need lots of tape too. A desk tape dispenser really speeds up the process.

    rubynreba, happy wrapping!

    Melanie, great to hear from you here. I just put a basketball in a gift bag. Sometimes it just makes sense to use the bags instead of wrapping a lopsided package. I actually got started on my wrapping today. Lots more to do though.

    Robyn, I've always thought people would rather tear into the a wrapped present. Maybe I need to re-adjust my thinking on that. The kids do like to get to the goodies.

  23. Use both. I agree it depends on the shape of the gift.

  24. I thinks the bags are easy, but they take up a lot more room because you can't stack them like boxes. And, since we usually go elsewhere for Christmas Day, we can only put so much in the car. So has to be boxes mostly. But, I sure could get things done sooner. I really would love to win Ann's book. Thanks for the chance. Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

  25. Great to hear from all of you. Abigail, I love using wrapping paper too, but bags are looking better and better as Christmas day approached. So Wilani and I can stuff things in there quick. You're probably better at getting the tissue paper to peek out of the bags than I am, Wilani. Somehow mine just look mashed in there. LOL.

    Deanna, that's the wise approach. Use what works best.

    Maxie, when you have a lot of gifts to carry to other houses or even stack under the tree, wrapped boxes do work better. Always fun to hear from you when I go out visiting on the web.

    Thanks for all your great comments and for entering to win Christmas at Harmony Hill. Wishing you and yours a very merry Christmas.


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