Monday, December 19, 2011

Author Sarah McNeal and her Supernatural Christmas

The winner of the 2011 Christmas Anthology is...Calisa Rose. Congratulation!
Karen: I'm thrilled to have Sarah McNeal here today to share her Christmas tale, Gifts of an After Life that's featured in the 2011 Christmas Anthology and her long awaited sequel to Harmonica Joe's Reluctant Bride, For the Love of Banjo! She's also giving away an e-book copy of the Anthology to one lucky reader. Just in time for the Christmas Stocking!

Let’s start with you telling us a little about yourself:

Sarah: I live in North Carolina with my four-legged kids, Liberty (cat) and Lily (Golden Retriever).  Both of my pets are rescue animals.

Until 2009, I worked as an RN in critical care, the last 17 years in the ER.  I took an early retirement so that I could devote all of my time into writing.  I was lucky enough to have worked for a hospital that had a pension plan.

I’ve yearned to be a writer since I was 9 years old.  I’ve had quite a few ups-and-downs on my path to becoming published but, with the help of writing classes, writer mentors and dogged persistence, I published my first short story back in 2005.

Karen: Gifts from the Afterlife is your new release featured in the 2011 Christmas Anthology. Why don’t you tell us a little about your story. What inspired you to write it?

Sarah: Gifts From the Afterlife is about a young woman who is facing the Christmas season completely alone. Her flagging spirit and loneliness undermine her desire to celebrate anything, let alone Christmas.  But Lydia is about to have a life-altering encounter with an angel, a few ghosts and a childhood sweetheart.

Karen: Tell us about Lydia Sinclair. Why has Christmas lost its meaning to her?

Sarah: Lydia lost her father and sister in an auto accident years ago.  For most of her life, she has celebrated the holidays with her very loving mother.  After the recent death of her mother, Lydia faces her first Christmas alone.  The prospects of spending Christmas alone has depleted her of all joy.

Karen: You have an angel and ghosts featured in your story. Do you believe in angels? Ghosts? What fascinates you about these entities?

Sarah: Mostly, I’m a cynic.  I doubt many of the claims by people that they’ve seen ghosts or angels but I feel confident that they exist in our world.

I think I could live quite well without having an encounter with a ghost but the thought of witnessing the presence of one is very intriguing.  An angel is another matter altogether.  I would love to meet an angel, talk with the angel and learn something only an angel could tell me.   

Karen: You have an upcoming release, For the Love of Banjo, a sequel to Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride. I loved this story and can’t wait for Banjo’s tale. Will you share a snippet with us?

Sarah: Deceit stands between Banjo Wilding’s love for Maggie O’Leary and his search for the father he never knew.


Banjo Wilding wears a borrowed name and bears the scars and reputation of a lurid past.  To earn the right to ask for Margaret O’Leary’s hand, he must find his father and make something of himself.

Margaret O’Leary has loved Banjo since she was ten years old but standing between her and Banjo is pride, Banjo’s mysterious father and the Great War.

Will either of them find happiness?     


          In one graceful movement, he dismounted the pinto then stepped to the porch where Maggie stood with unrestrained tears that flowed down her cheeks.  Banjo swept her into his arms and kissed her.  The kiss wasn’t his brotherly, friendly peck on the cheek.  He kissed her with a slow burning need and ran his tongue along the groove of her lips then slipped inside. 

          He tasted of coffee and mint.  Maggie reached up to weave her arms around his neck.  She stepped on her tiptoes to better reach him and taste him.  Her heart raced and heat rushed hungry waves of yearning into places in her body she never knew existed as she responded to his explorations with her own.  If only she could slip into his pocket and follow him wherever he went.  She wanted to become the marrow in his bones, to always be a part of him.

          Just when she thought he would take her to her room and make love to her as she had asked, the kiss ended.  Banjo bent his head his rough cheek rasped against hers.  The fragrance of him, a combination of horse, pine and crisp snow, caressed her senses.  He slipped his hand into her hair and gently rubbed the tender skin of her neck where her blood pulsed beneath his thumb.

          His mouth so close to her ear she felt the warm moisture of his breath as he spoke his last words.  She would never forget them, not as long as she lived.  Breathless from the kiss, he said, “Don’t forget me.  Write to me every day and I’ll write back.  You are the star in my sky and my compass home.  I’ll come back, if it’s the last thing I do, I will come back.  I swear it.”

Karen: What do you find most rewarding about writing?

Sarah: I love coming up with new story ideas.  I keep a writer’s journal with me everywhere I go and jot down things I see and hear (like a little voyeur, LOL) to use in stories later.  In this crazy world where nothing is certain, writing is the one thing where I say who lives, who dies and who falls in love with whom. 

Karen: What are your current projects and works in progress?

Sarah: The newly revised edition of The Violin is about to be released by Rebecca Vickery Publishing.

I 'm working on the plot for the next Hazard story.  Robin Pierpont, an English immigrant from the book, For Love of Banjo, falls in love with one of Lola and Joe’s girls.

I also have a paranormal, The Light of Valmora, that I am presently submitting to publishers. I am working on another book in this series, Silent dancer, where a cursed violinist falls in love with a deaf woman.

Karen: What genre inspires your writing?

Sarah: Besides romance, I love stories with a bit of mystery woven into them.  I am particularly drawn to time travel and paranormal.

Karen: Tell the readers where they can find you:

Sarah: My website:

Sarah’s Provocative Ponderings:

Karen: Is there anything else you’d like to tell the readers?

Sarah: Readers are wonderful treasures.  I hope that my stories entertain, inspire and live in the hearts of readers who honor me by reading my stories.

Karen: Contest: All you need to do is answer this question: What is your favorite Christmas story? It could be a book, movie or TV show. One lucky commenter will be chosen on Friday, December 23rd to win a e-book copy of 2011 Christmas Collection. Good Luck!  

Sarah, thank you so much for sharing with us today. I wish your the best success. I can't wait to read your new releases.


Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Thank you so much for having me here today, Karen. You have a beautiful site and I am happy to be a contributer on your blog.

Chrisbails said... Best Blogger Tips

I would have to say that my favorite Christmas story is Rudolph. My favorite Christmas book is Home for the Holidays by Johanna Lindsey. My favorite Christmas movie is a tie between The Christmas Story and Elf. My favorite Christmas TV show is Charlie Brown Christmas or any Christmas variety show that they have on. Especially the Christmas music shows. Love to see singers have their take on Christmas songs.

This is a new author for me and would love to win and read this book. Thanks for the chance to win.

Karen Michelle Nutt said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Sarah!

I'm so glad to have you here. I love your storytelling and can't wait to read your new releases!


I've read some of Johanna Lindsey's books, I haven't read Home for the Holidays though. I'll have to check it out. Elf was hilarious. Good movie! Thanks for stopping by and joining us. :)

Cathy said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Sarah and Karen,

I enjoyed getting to know you, Sarah. Your books sound like something I'd liked to read. What a nice giveaway, too.

My favorite movie is: It's a Wonderful Life.I like a lot of the Hallmark Christmas movies, too.

I wish you a Merry Christmas and thanks for the chance to win.

cnickol at verizon dot net

Katrina Gillian said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi Sarah,

Your stories sound really good. I guess if I was going to choose a favorite movie, it would have to Elf. It just cracks me up.

Thanks for a chance to win.
mysweetpirate at yahoo do com

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Christiine, I love Christmas Story. Even though I believe it is a Depression era story, it reminds me of my own Christmases from back in the day--Waaay back. LOL
Thank you so much for coming by today.

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Oh gosh Cathy, you have hit on my favorite Christmas movies--the ones on the Hallmark Channel. I'm like addicted to them.
The nice thing about anthologies is that it's a great way to find new authors. I found Debra Macombre and Linda Lael Miller that way.
Thank you for coming by my blog today.

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

I saw Elf for the first time this past week, Katrina. It is funny.
Thnak you so much for leaving a coming by and leaving a comment today.

Kathryn Merkel said... Best Blogger Tips

My favorite Christmas story is The Gift of the Magi. I can hear it over & over, but never tire of it.

drainbamaged.gyzmo at

Jacquie Rogers said... Best Blogger Tips

We have a bunch of Christmas story lovers here--we've all written them. LOL. So barring present company (Sarah and Karen have terrific Christmas stories!), I'll pick a movie, The Polar Express. Oh, and another movie, Love, Actually. Maybe I should go watch it now. :)


Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

hey Jacquie
I also love the movie Love Actually--Colin Firth--*sigh*
Polar Express was neat but totally at night, so kinda dark.
I love that you dropped by, Jacquie. Thank you.

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Kathryn, I agree, The
Gift of the Magi is a wonderful story. This year I saw a new rendition of it on Hallmark that was great.

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Katrina, thank you for coming by. Boy, everybody loves The Elf. LOL

LK Hunsaker said... Best Blogger Tips

Hey Sarah, I have to ask... it seems all of your books have something to do with music. Did you study music or are you only music obsessed (which in my book is a really good thing, lol)?

I love the classics: It's A Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, Miracle on 34th Street.

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Hey Lorraine! To answer your question--you really pay attention I see--both. I played flute first then received my Uncle John's violin (he was a real person). I played violin through high school first chair and seriously considered becoming a professional violinist. Later, in the 60's during the folk music period, I took up the guitar and harmonica. Finally, I became interested in the bagpipes and learned to play from several pipe majors (the most difficult instrument I ever played.) I still play all of the instruments though not as well as I used to except the flute. My oldest niece had my flute with her when she was in an auto accident and both she and the flute never made it out.
I love music and I listen to all kinds except rap. Although I have written a few stories without a musical instrument in them, they are very rare.
I am so delighted that you came to visit me here. I really appreciate it.

Calisa Rhose said... Best Blogger Tips

What wonderful sounding stories. Thanks for sharing Sarah.

My favorite Christmas story is A Wonderful Life (the black/white version)

Celia Yeary said... Best Blogger Tips

Hi, Sarah--I, too, am a cynic when it comes to ghosts and angels. I'd be more inclined to believe in angels, I suppose...but still, I really don't believe everything I hear!
I love the theme of musical instruments in your books. Very clever and inventive...and catchy.
I saw your Banjo book on one of the Amazon Top lists--seems like it was #22...I sorry I didn't take notes so I could tell you.I remember just racing through things that day.
Good luck!

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Calisa, thank you so much for dropping in for a visit and entering the contest.
My oldest sister loved this classic black and white movie called (I think) All My Own about an Irish immigrant family with kids living on the edge of poveerty when both parents end up dying. The oldest son gives away his brothers and sisters on Christmas Day to families in the town then the last scene he disappears over the snowy hill pulling an empty sled. Saddest thing I ever saw. I always thought they should have done a follow-up story on that one but no one ever did.
Thanks again for coming by.

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Boy, I wish that were true, Celia but Banjo hasn't been released yet so it must be someone else's book. Drat! I wish you remembered where you saw that.
I'm glad I'm not the only cynic in town. LOL
Thank you so much for coming by and leaving a comment. You know, I really appreciate it.

Usemeplz said... Best Blogger Tips

The Gift of the Magi is my favourite. Kathryn Merkel, I am glad that found a person, who likes the same story, cause many my friends said that it is not the best.

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

That's a very unique handle, usemeplz. LOL
I can't imagine anyone not loving on the story by O'Henry, The Gift of the Magi. What a well thoughtout and electrifyingly tender story of love and sacrifice.
If you want to enter the contest, be sure you leave your email addy so we can send your prize if you win.
Thank you so much for dropping by today.

hotcha12 said... Best Blogger Tips


Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Hey Linda
Did you ever watch the version of It's A Wonderful Life with Marlo Thomas? Although not the classic that the Jimmy Stuart one is, I thought it was pretty good, too.
Thank you so much for dropping by and leaving a comment.

hotcha12 said... Best Blogger Tips


Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

I would love to see soldiers come home from everywhere--Afghanistan included. I'm sick of war. I know their families are so excited right now--best present in the world is to have your loved one safe at home.

hotcha12 said... Best Blogger Tips


Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

When I see those soldiers, men and women, coming home and reuniting with their loved ones I get all sappy and misty-eyed. No kidding. I hope we don't turn around and send them to Afghanistan.
I am wishing for eveyone to have a terrific Christmas and maybe this coming year will be one of peace and prosperity. Maybe that's the wish of a lot of people.

Sarah J. McNeal said... Best Blogger Tips

Congratulations Calisa Rose. You are the winner of the 2011 Christmas Collection.
I want to thank everyone for participating and commenting on my blog and Karen Nutt for having me here. It's been so much fun.

hotcha12 said... Best Blogger Tips


hotcha12 said... Best Blogger Tips