Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Christmas Spotlight on Amber Miller and giveaway

I am excited to introduce Elanna Scott the main character from Promises and Quills and the mother in Deceptive Promises by Amber Miller to join us. What is so awesome about this is Elanna is visiting us during the Revolutionary War period of American History. The magic of technology!!!She is going to share some of the traditions and foods that were eaten during this time. So get ready for a fun Christmas interview.

Elanna lets start off with my favorite subject besides books-food. Are there any foods that you only have at Christmas? Could you please share a family favorite recipe?

We did not have many unique foods when I was a young girl, but wassail and gingerbread were commonly available.

  • 1 gallon apple cider
  • 16 ounces of unsweetened pineapple juice
  • 3/4 cup tea

Place in a cheesecloth sack:1 Tablespoon whole cloves1 Tablespoon whole allspice2 sticks cinnamon Allow the cheesecloth sack to brew with the cider and tea. Let it simmer very slowly for 4 to 6 hours. You can add water if it evaporates too much.

The recipe for gingerbread cookies has been adapted for those of you who are living in what I hear is a more modern time period than them time in which I live. If you were to bake these cookies the way we did, I do not believe you would have much success. Perhaps this adaptation will prove successful, though.

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup melted margarine
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup evaporated milk
  • 1 cup unsulfered molasses
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon lemon extract
  • 4 cups stone-ground or unbleached flour, unsifted

Combine the sugar, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, and baking soda. Mix well. Add the melted margarine, evaporated milk and molasses. Add the extracts. Mix well. Add the flour 1 cup at a time, stirring constantly. The dough should be stiff enough to handle without sticking to fingers. Knead the dough for a smoother texture. Add up to ½ cup additional flour if necessary to prevent sticking. When the dough is smooth, roll it out ¼ inch thick on a floured surface and cut it into cookies. Bake on floured or greased cookie sheets in a preheated 375° F oven for 10 to 12 minutes. The gingerbread cookies are done when they spring back when touched.

Thank you for the recipes, I'll have to try them this Christmas. When we marry, our family traditions change to join with our spouse’s traditions. What traditions to you have that are different from when you were growing up? What traditions do you hold most dear?

One of my favorite traditions is the hardening and curing of oranges in preparation for making pomander balls to hang around our home. A blend of cinnamon, nutmeg and orrisroot were combined and inserted into holes poked into the oranges with nails, and whole cloves or other spices would also be added. Those combined with the netting filled with rosemary, dried lavender, rose petals and bayberry would make Christmas come alive with rich aromas. Even now that I am married, I have shared that tradition with our children. And they all love to be involved in the process.

My husband, Madison, hailed from Boston, and Christmas was quite different for him. We in the middle colonies never really identified the day as different from the rest, but we did honor the season with our decorations. But Madison and his family decorated with sprigs of evergreen and holly, attended a church service and even engaged in dancing afterward. They might also visit another family or receive visitors at their home. We adapted the evergreen and holly for our windowpanes, and now, we have a special meal, making a point to share this time with our family.

I love that you blended his traditions with your own. Christmas is a time that many memories are made. What is the best Christmas memory you have?

That must be an occurrence that took place this year. My daughter, Margret, had been keeping company with a young gentleman her father and I believed to be divided in his loyalties between England and our colonies. As such, her father forbade her from having any associations with him. However, on the night of Christmas, who should appear at our door but the young man himself, escorting Margret’s cousin who had been captured by the British during a recent battle at Cooch’s Bridge. General Washington’s army had reported him as missing, but Samuel Lowe brought him home. And despite being forbidden to appear at our home, he also made a bold proposal to my daughter, requesting permission for her hand in marriage. He had more than proven his loyalty and redeemed himself in our eyes, so Margret’s father had given his approval.
I am so happy to hear they are getting married. I wish them a blessed marriage. What does your family do to remember what the real reason for Christmas is?

Giving thanks to our Father in Heaven for sending His Son for us is ever present in our hearts and minds. We take time to ask for His blessings on our lives as the year comes to a close and request that He grant us favor and continued blessings for the coming year. As this time of year is always celebrated by time spent with our family, we have nothing else occupying our minds which needs to be dismissed. If we do exchange gifts, a reminder is always stated pertaining to the gift of God’s son for all of us.

Now a few questions for Amber Miller the wonderfully gifted author of three Heartsong Presents book. Two of which I have read and loved.

Amber, what led you to write a Christmas story?

This story isn’t exactly a full Christmas story, but it does conclude on Christmas Day. The book preceding this one included several traditions that are referenced in this one, but not given as much focus. As this time is a special time of year, and as the greater timeline of events provided a clear point where Christmas could be the focus, I decided to end the story there with references to what would happen later. It worked out quite well, I believe.

I look forward to reading Deceptive Promises. I love that you have written books that link three generations of family. Could you please briefly describe your novel?

Quills & Promises
Innocence paired with wisdom beyond her years--With these traits, Elanna Hanssen unwittingly captures the attentions of Major Madison Scott. Her honest desire to understand the war fascinates him, and he resolves to get to know this perspicacious young lady better. When he is called away to fight the French and the Indians, they begin a correspondence, cautiously baring their hearts to one another. Elanna has never known emotions like these before, but she is drawn to the integrity she sees in her major. When a writer for the first newspaper in the colony questions the major's credentials and activities, however, will she allow her heart or her head to rule? Can true love grow over such distance and around such obstacles?

Deceptive Promises
Is deception fair in wartime? Margret Scott finds she must deal with this question as she becomes attracted to the enigmatic Samuel Lowe. As the tensions grow between the colonists and the British soldiers and loyalists, Margret struggles to determine where Samuel's loyalties lie, despite his reassurances that they lie with the colonists. Samuel's duties have him working for both sides of this war, and he is often torn between what is right and what is wrong. He promises Margret she can trust him, and Margret promises him she does. But can promises born in deception be trusted? Can relationships built in uncertainty survive?

If you would like to visit Amber's website click here

Amber has offered an autographed copy of Deceptive Promises to a luck winner so if you would like to win a copy please leave a comment and answer the following question. What Christmas traditions do you cherish the most? Don't forget to leave an addy in disguise (yourname[at]ouraddress[dot]net)


Anonymous said...

I love navity scenes all over my house at Christmas. I am never board with the variations I have of this beautiful time in Christs' life.

Gayla Collins

I would love to be entered in the book drawings.

Becky C. said...

I love the tradition of hearing the Christmas music at church, and going to a Christmas eve service with some friends.

Please enter me in the contest.

Thank you,

Becky C.


Donna Moore said...

I love nativity scencs too. We several in our house.

Becky, I agree with you about the traditional Christmas Carols. Last Sunday we sang " Go tell it on the Mountain" and it is one of my favorites.

Robin Shope said...

I love Christmas traditions! One is selecting an angel from the angel tree and buying that child a gift. Another one my family and I enjoy is volunteering at a soup kitchen.
Please enter me in this drawing!

MaryLu Tyndall said...

My mother filled our stockings with all kinds of goodies from candy to toys to jewelry to perfume and she would sneak into my bedroom and lay the stocking at the foot of my bed while I was asleep. I remember how exciting it was to wake up and see it there and open it up before I even got out of bed.
Great interview Donna and Amber, please enter me in the contest!

Ann Shorey said...

I arrange the nativity scene across the top of our upright piano, with a lamp behind it that spotlights the manger itself. It's the first thing I get out every December.
Also have to admit being overly fond on Almond Bars, which I make with almond paste, and serve only at Christmas time.

annshorey at msn dot com

Anonymous said...

The Christmas tradition that I miss the most is spending Christmas Eve at my Grandparents house. We would all gather there after the Christmas eve services at church and have Ham buns or Turkey buns, jello, and lots of Christmas cookies.

Please enter me, the book sounds great! Gail

bookwurm70 [at] yahoo [dot] com

Donna Moore said...

bookwurm70 I have no idea what turkey buns are but they sound interesting.

Ann-I too love nativity scenes. We have a special on my father-n-law gave to us when we got married that is always one of the first things we unpack.

marylu- We always put the stockings on the back of the couch. The kids know that they can get into them before we open presents.

Robin-We let the little ones pick an angel this year and I just hope they understand what they are doing. I know we need to spend more time doing missions with them.

Ausjenny said...

here in my town in Australia every year we have Carols in the town square or the town hall if it rains. Its a time where alot of the town come out we sing christmas carols by candlelight and have a special program, the school kids will sing, and some solos, and a message and community singing. Thats what i love.
Its a tradition I really look forward to its normally the Friday before Christmas.
please enter me
ausjenny (at) gmail (dot) com

Jo said...

I just love the reason for the season and how special it is. We really don't have any special traditions except to be with our family.


Sheri said...

We get the kids new jammies and a stuffed animal to open on Christmas Eve. We also read the Christmas story (Luke 2) before breakfast. Since our kids are so young - 5, 3 and 10 mos. - we usually read a children's version with pictures. :o) It's a wonderful time.
Please enter me in the contest

Wendi B. - Wendi's Book Corner ~ Rainy Day Reads in Seattle said...

Wow - our family has some great traditions. One long-standing one is the luminary walk around Greenlake. It is a 3 mile walk after dark, the second Saturday of December - volunteers line the 3 miles with luminaries and you walk and sing carols to candlelight - it is wonderful!

Every year we also make gingerbread houses and decorate them with our favorite candies.

I really could go on and on - my family loves the holidays - not for the gifts, but rather how the season makes us feel and the fact that we try to get together more often!

:) Wendi

Pamela J said...

I used to look forward to the stockings filled with peanuts, hard candy, an orange and an apple along with some little trinket toys. I can almost smell the combined goodness coming from them as I poured it out to see what was in the toe of the sock. That is when I was young, growing up.
Now I love the music that sings of Christ's birth as well as just traditional songs and the glittering lights displayed or anyone to see.
I love to remember why we are celebrating the season in the first place and focus on that rather than the "what am I going to get this year" syndrome.
Amber is a great writer, I'm glad her next book is out and look forward to reading it some day. Great sounding recipes! I'm going to try them out soon.
Pam Williams
cepjwms at yahoo dot com

Anonymous said...

hello our Christmas tradition is on Christmas morning we like to go Carolling in the morning before we open gifts
please enter me into your giveawya thanks and Merry Christmas

Cherie J said...

We love to go out one night close to Christmas and look at all the light displays. Then we return home to sit by the tree to drink hot cocoa or eggnog and listen to Christmas music. Would love to read this wonderful book. Thanks for the chance to win a copy.


Martha A. said...

I enjoy making homemade raviolis with my family! Also, I sort of am trying to begin a new tradition for our own family, and that is looking for families in need and trying to encourage them in any way we can, not just this time of year, but in special ways this time of year.

kalea_kane said...

My favorite Christmas tradition started when I was a single mom. Every Christmas Eve I would read the Nativity Story with my son, make a batch of cookies for Santa, make a pile of reindeer food, and write a letter to Santa with my son. He is 13 years old now, and we share this tradition with my husband of a year and a half. I have family traditions with my extended family too, but I will always cherish these times.

Thank you for the chance!