16 days until Christmas
Sarah M. Eden is the author of multiple historical romances, including Longing for Home and Whitney Award finalists Seeking Persephone (2008) and Courting Miss Lancaster (2010). Combining her obsession with history and an affinity for tender love stories, Sarah loves crafting witty characters and heartfelt romances. She holds a bachelor’s degree in research and happily spends hours perusing the reference shelves of her local library. Sarah has twice served as the master of ceremonies for the LDS Storymakers Writers Conference and will be the keynote speaker at the 2014 American Night Writers Association conference. Sarah is represented by Pam van Hylckama Vlieg at Foreword Literary Agency.
Please take a minute to visit Sarah at one of the links below:
BLOG | TWITTER | FACEBOOK
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LDSWBR: What is your favorite Christmas song/hymn? Does it have special meaning to you?
SARAH: My favorite is probably “In the Bleak Midwinter” (There are two tunes that this hymn is traditionally set to. While both are beautiful, I personally prefer Gustav Holst’s). I think these lyrics are among the most poignantly personal ever written about the birth of Jesus Christ. It beautifully sets the scene of the nativity and conjures up so many of the emotions surrounding it: a world lost to cold and darkness being lit by the Light of God; the being who would later raise the dead and heal the infirm, who had the power to command angels, coming to earth in the humblest of settings; the tenderness his mother must have felt in that moment and the unique role she played in his life. For me, however, the power of this hymn is found in the final verse, which takes this moment of eternal significance and makes it one of personal importance:
“Oh, what can I give him, poor as I am?
If I were a shepherd, I would give a lamb.
If I were a wiseman, I would do my part.
Yet what I can, I give Him. Give my heart.”
LDSWBR: Do you get together with friends/family to play board games on Christmas or New Year’s? What games do you like to play? Do you have a favorite game from your childhood?
SARAH: For us, the night of games and revelry and all-around fun, is actually Twelfth Night. Traditionally, the Twelve Days of Christmas began on Christmas Day and ended on January 6th, the Feast of Epiphany, which marked the coming of the Wise Men. The night before the Twelfth Day was Twelfth Night. It was the end of the holiday season and, as such, was meant to really be a party. There is a lot of food. Twelfth Night was when “wassailing” occurred (think, “Here we come a’wassailing among the leaves to green…”). Mummers travelled around performing and received food and drink and generally some coins as payment for the entertainment. Our favorite part of the night is the traditional Twelfth Night Cake, in which was hidden a bean. The person who found the bean was crowned King or Queen for the night and ruled over the evening’s festivities, choosing the games that were played and the activities everyone enjoyed. Our daughter finds the bean pretty much every year and requires that we all call her “Your Majesty” whilst being as tyrannical a ruler as seemingly possible. We look forward to Twelfth Night every year.
LDSWBR: If you could recommend only one book from those you read this year, what would it be and why?
SARAH: Oh, wow. Just one, huh?
Well, little known fact about me… I love poetry. Love with a capital L. I can’t write it, but I devour it. This past year I read both volumes of The Selected Poems of Seamus Heaney, a remarkably gifted poet from Northern Ireland. So, so many amazing works. “Death of a Naturalist,” “Digging,” “Mid-term Break,” “From the Frontier of Writing,” and my personal favorite “Requiem for the Croppies.” As a writer, I think studying poetry is essential to truly grasping the power of words. For example, in “Mid-term Break” the poem’s narrator is a young boy brought home from school for his brother’s funeral. Heaney, in choosing how to describe the casket, captures so much more in so few words: “A four foot box, a foot for every year.” Seamus Heaney actually passed away only a couple of months ago, but left behind a tremendous legacy of words. If you haven’t read any of his poems, I highly recommend them.
LDSWBR: Thank you, Sarah!
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Longing For Home
AMAZON | KINDLE | BARNES & NOBLE | NOOK | DESERET BOOK | SEAGULL BOOK
Twenty-six-year-old Katie Macauley has placed all her hope in Hope Springs, a small town in the 1870 Wyoming Territory. But if she wants to return home to Ireland to make amends with her estranged family, she’ll need to convince the influential Joseph Archer to hold true to his word and keep her on his payroll as his housekeeper despite her Irish roots. The town is caught in an ongoing feud between the Irish and the “Reds” the frontiersmen who would rather see all the Irish run out of town and the Irish immigrants who are fighting to make a home for themselves in the New World. When Joseph agrees to keep Katie on as his housekeeper, the feud erupts anew, and Katie becomes the reluctant figurehead for the Irish townsfolk. As the violence escalates throughout the town, Katie must choose between the two men who have been vying for her love though only one might be able to restore hope to her heart.
Have you heard the song “In the Bleak Midwinter”? If not, there’s a sample in the iTunes store of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. It is the centerpiece of my ward choir’s Christmas program this year, and the lyrics are simple yet beautiful.
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NO PURCHASE NECESSARY; entrants must be 18 years or older; open to residents of continental US only; giveaway begins December 3, 2013 and all entries must be received by 12:00 Midnight December 23, 2013 Mountain Time; to enter, complete the required entry on each post and any additional entries of your choice if listed; LDS Women’s Book Review reserves the right to determine what is considered a thoughtful comment as per each post’s required entry; giveaway prizes include a $50 Amazon gift card and a variety of book prizes donated by featured authors; the number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning; LDS Women’s Book Review is not liable for technical problems which may affect entry into the giveaway; winner identity will be verified by email address; winner will be selected December 28, 2013 by use of a sequence generator on random.org; winner will have until January 4, 2014 to claim their prize; if any prize winner forfeits or does not claim prize, prize will be re-awarded to next winner in sequence; all prizes will be awarded; limit of two prizes per entrant; this contest/giveaway is not associated with Facebook, Twitter or any other entity unless otherwise specified; by entering the giveaway you give LDS Women’s Book Review the right to publicize your name on the LDS Women’s Book Review blog; winner agrees to release LDS Women’s Book Review from any liability as a result of winning; email comments and questions to LDS Women’s Book Review – ldswbr (at) gmail (dot) com; giveaway subject to Utah regulations; VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.
**Book Prizes (as of 12/9/13 – more to be added to this list!)**
- Rocky Road by Josi S. Kilpack (personalized copy)
- Shannon’s Hope by Josi S. Kilpack (personalized copy)
- The House at Rose Creek by Jenny Proctor (signed copy)
- Penumbras by Braden Bell (signed copy)
- The Reluctant Blogger by Ryan Rapier (personalized copy)
- Just Ella by Annette K. Larsen (personalized paperback)
- Longing For Home by Sarah M. Eden (signed copy)
Previous Countdown to Christmas 2013 posts: