Spotlight: Harlequin Holiday Blog Tour with Sheila Roberts

Posted December 14, 2019 by Sophia Rose in Book Tour / 4 Comments

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Spotlight: Harlequin Holiday Blog Tour with Sheila Roberts

Is it more (or less) challenging to write your book with the holiday element?  If so, what are those challenges?

Sheila Roberts:  I love Christmas. It’s my favorite holiday. So I find it great fun writing a holiday tale.

Do you lean more toward humorous or poignant when you’re writing a holiday romance?

Sheila Roberts: I love humor, love to laugh, so somehow, something funny always sneaks into my stories. But because life is the way it is, I like to think I manage some poignant moments as well. Don’t we all love it when a character has a bittersweet moment or is touched by something special, learns an important lesson? I think a story, especially a Christmas story, should touch our hearts.

What’s your favorite holiday cookie or dessert?

Sheila Roberts: I have to pick a favorite? Oh, that’s cruel. How about I give you my top three? Red Velvet Cake, frosted sugar cookies and Andes mint cookies (the Andes mint serves as the frosting.) I think I gained five pounds just thinking about those goodies!

Tell us about your favorite Holiday tradition.

Sheila Roberts: Gathering with my big, extended family for Christmas Eve. Been doing this since I was a child and it is really special – games carols, and, of course, a reading of the real Christmas story from the Bible. That used to be my oldest brother’s job but we lost him two years ago and now middle brother has taken over. Bittersweet.

What Holiday treat is on your must-make, or must-eat, December to-do list?

Sheila Roberts: The cake and cookies I mentioned, of course. By the way, I’ve been making Red Velvet Cake for Christmas ever since my kids were little. We’d always light candles and sing happy birthday to Jesus. My kids are grown now, but still come home for Christmas. One year I thought it would be nice to try a different cake. Let me tell, you, that went over about as well as Santa not stopping by with presents. Both kids wanted to know where the Red Velvet Cake was. Some traditions you just can’t do away with.

What’s the most memorable Holiday gift you’ve ever received or given?

Sheila Roberts: I still remember the Christmas when my husband and I were having some lean times. My parents, who weren’t exactly rolling in the green stuff either, gave us a Christmas ornament… wrapped in five ten dollar bills. It saved the day.

What are some of your favorite novels? What do you like the most when writing 

Christmas/Holiday-themed books?

Sheila Roberts: If we’re talking Christmas, I must say the Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is the best Christmas tale ever written. Brilliant. And such a great message. Wish I’d written it! 🙂

What inspired you to start writing novels? What do you hope are some of the key takeaways from of your latest holiday novel?

Sheila Roberts: I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. I think story tellers just have to tell stories. That imagination muscle demands being used. I hope readers will enjoy Christmas from the Heart, and come away inspired to donate to their favorite worthy causes. There are so many organizations in need. If we all picked one and pitched in we could make a big difference in the world.

When did you start writing Christmas/Holiday-themed stories? What was your inspiration for your latest holiday novel?

Sheila Roberts: My first contemporary Christmas novel was On Strike for Christmas (inspired by my husband, who was being naughty). Ever since I’ve been writing a Christmas story almost every year. This year’s offering came about because I wanted to write a Scrooge story of my own, my nod to Mr. Dickens. 

And I guess there’s no better way to end this interview, after saying thanks for allowing me to join you, than, to quote Mr. Dickens himself. “God bless us, every one!”

Christmas from the Heart
Sheila Roberts
On Sale Date: September 24, 2019
Fiction / Romance / Contemporary
304 pages

Summary:

USA TODAY bestselling author Sheila Roberts takes readers to a small, snowbound town, where a young woman fights to save her family’s charity that brings Christmas to families in need, and a stranded millionaire loses his heart and finds the true meaning of Christmas.

Sometimes you need to look beyond the big picture to see what really matters

Olivia Berg’s charity, Christmas from the Heart, has helped generations of families in need in Pine River, Washington, but this year might be the end of the road. Hightower Enterprises, one of their biggest donors since way back when Olivia’s grandmother ran the charity, has been taken over by Ebenezer Scrooge the Second, aka CFO Guy Hightower, and he’s declared there will be no more money coming to Christmas from the Heart.

Guy is simply being practical. Hightower Enterprises needs to tighten its belt, and when you don’t have money to spare, you don’t have money to share. You’d think even the pushy Olivia Berg could understand that.

With charitable donations dwindling, Olivia’s Christmas budget depends on Hightower’s contribution. She’s focused her whole life on helping this small town, even putting her love life on hold to support her mission.

When Guy’s Maserati breaks down at the edge of the Cascade foothills, he’s relieved to be rescued by a pretty young woman who drives him to the nearby town of Pine River. Until he realizes his rescuer is none other than Olivia Berg. What’s a Scrooge to do? Plug his nose and eat fruitcake and hope she doesn’t learn his true identity before he can get out of town. What could go wrong?

Buy Links:

AmazonGoogle PlayBarnes & NobleApple BooksKobo

Author Bio:

Sheila Roberts lives on a lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her novels have been published in several languages. Her book, Angel Lane, was an Amazon Top Ten Romance pick for 2009. Her holiday perennial, On Strike for Christmas, was made into a movie for the Lifetime Movie Network and her novel, The Nine Lives of Christmas, was made into a movie for Hallmark . You can visit Sheila on Twitter and Facebook or at her website (http://www.sheilasplace.com).

Social Links:

Author website

Facebook: @funwithsheila

Twitter: @_Sheila_Roberts

Instagram: @funwithsheila

 

From: Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart
Date: 2-14-19
To: Ms. Marla Thompson, CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises
Subject: Holiday Joy

 Dear Ms. Thompson, 

Happy Valentine’s Day to you! I’m following up our January newsletter with a special greeting as this is, of course, the month for love. Love for our sweethearts, our family and friends, and for those in need. As you could see from the newsletter, we put the money our loyal supporters donated to us to good use. So many families benefited from your generous donation to Christmas from the Heart last year and I just wanted to remind you that, even though the holidays seem far away they will be here before we know it. I hope we can count on Hightower Enterprises again this year. We have such a history together. Let’s keep up the good work! 

Warmly, 

Olivia Berg
Christmas from the Heart
Giving from the heart makes all the difference

 

From: Marla Thompson, CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises
Date: 2-14-19
To: Ms. Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart
Subject: Holiday Joy

Dear Ms. Berg, 

Thanks for reaching out. Our fiscal year is just ending and I haven’t yet received word as to how our charitable donations will be dispersed this year. I will keep you apprised. 

Best, Marla Thompson
CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises

 

From: Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart
Date: 2-14-19
To: Ms. Marla Thompson, CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises
Subject: Holiday Joy

Thank you so much. Looking forward to hearing from you! 

Olivia Berg
Christmas from the Heart
Giving from the heart makes all the difference

 

From: Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart
Date: 5-1-19
To: Ms. Marla Thompson, CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises
Subject: Happy May Day!

Dear Ms. Thompson, just wanted to wish you a happy May Day. The flowers here in Pine River are now in full bloom, and our organization has been busy helping people make their dreams bloom, as well. As you know, while our focus is primarily the holidays, Christmas from the Heart tries to help people all year round when needs arise. Of course, Christmas is our big thrust, and as there is no other organization working in this area, we are much needed. As are your kind contributions. I still haven’t heard and I do hope we can count on you.

Warmly,
Olivia Berg
Christmas from the Heart
Giving from the heart makes all the difference

 

From: Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart
Date: 5-5-19
To: Ms. Marla Thompson
Subject: Just checking

Reaching out again in case my last email went astray. I’m wondering if you have any news for me regarding Hightower’s involvement with our cause for this coming year.

Thanks!

Olivia Berg
Christmas from the Heart
Giving from the heart makes all the difference

 

From: Marla Thompson, CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises
Date: 5-5-19
To: Ms. Olivia Berg
Subject: Just checking

Ms. Berg, sorry I haven’t been able to get back to you sooner. I’m afraid I have some bad news for you. It appears that the company is going to be scaling back on their charitable giving this year and funds have already been budgeted for other causes. I’m aware of the fact that in the past we’ve donated to your organization and I’m sorry I don’t have better news for you. I do wish you all the best in your search for other funding.

Best, 

Marla Thompson
CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises

From: Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart
Date: 5-5-19
To: Ms. Marla Thompson
Subject: Just checking

There must be some sort of misunderstanding! Hightower has always donated to Christmas from the Heart. The company’s founder, Elias Hightower, was my great-grandmother’s first contributor, and he promised her that Hightower would always be there for this organization. This is a company tradition! Please speak to your director.

Hopefully, 

Olivia Berg
Christmas from the Heart
Giving from the heart makes all the difference

 

From: Marla Thompson, CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises
Date: 5-5-19
To: Ms. Olivia Berg
Subject: Just checking

I’m sorry. The decision is out of my hands.

Marla Thompson
CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises

 

From: Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart
Date: 5-5-19
To: Ms. Marla Thompson
Subject: Just checking

Then please tell me who I need to talk to. Who’s your CFO?

Olivia Berg
Christmas from the Heart
Giving from the heart makes all the difference

 

From: Marla Thompson, CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises
Date: 5-5-19
To: Ms. Olivia Berg
Subject: Just checking

Our CFO is Guy Hightower, and his email is ghightower@hightowerenterprises.com

Good luck!

Marla Thompson 

CSR Director, Hightower Enterprises

From: Olivia Berg, Director, Christmas from the Heart
Date: 5-5-19

To: Guy Hightower, CFO, Hightower Enterprises 

Subject: Please reconsider

 

Dear Mr. Hightower, I understand from your corporate social resources director that Hightower isn’t planning on making any donation to Christmas from the Heart this year. There must be some mistake! Surely you’re aware of the long-standing relationship between your company and our organization. I’m sure I can count on you for some small amount. 

Best, Olivia Berg

Christmas from the Heart

Giving from the heart makes all the difference

 

Guy Hightower frowned when he saw the email from Olivia Berg in his in-box. Marla Thompson had been forwarding her emails to him, keeping him abreast of Olivia Berg’s varied begging tactics, and had finally even come into his office, trying to dump the load of guilt the woman had laid on her from her shoulders to his.

“Don’t open it,” he told himself. He opened it anyway. Then he read it and swore.

Actually, he’d been swearing ever since meeting with his brothers to discuss the budget back in December. If either of them had listened to him three years ago, they wouldn’t be having to pull the company belt so tight now. This was the problem with being the youngest. It didn’t matter how many degrees you had, how smart you were or what your job title was. Big brothers never listened.

Hard to listen when you were going through your third divorce.

That was Mike’s excuse. What was Bryan’s? Oh yeah. He was a wuss. He always agreed with Mike, no matter what. And Mike hadn’t wanted to change directions. Never mind that the company was struggling, keep on doing the same thing. The definition of insanity.

Sorry, Little Miss Christmas. Times were tough all over. Hightower had kept its commitment to the more visible causes and turned the little fish loose. And that was how it worked in the corporate world.

He typed his reply.

 

Dear Ms. Berg, I regret that Hightower can’t help you this year. We’ve had to reassess our commitments to various causes. I’m sure you’ll understand.

Then he signed off with the time-honored adios: Respectfully, Guy Hightower.

And if she didn’t understand, well, not his problem. He had his hands full trying to keep the family company afloat. Maybe now Mike would be ready to take his advice and diversify.

 

Olivia Berg—Livi to her family and friends—read the email from Guy Hightower a second time. Yes, the message was the same. Really? Really? Who was this man, Ebenezer Scrooge the Second?

She plowed her fingers through her hair, the birthstone ring Morris had given her for her birthday catching in the curls. She was so angry she barely noticed.

With a snarl, she began to type.

 

You should be ashamed. Your great-grandfather is probably turning in his grave right now. What’s the matter with you, anyway, you selfish bastard?

She pulled her fingers off the keyboard with a gasp. What was she thinking? Was this any way to get someone to contribute to her cause? And what kind of language was this? Her great-grandmother would be turning in her grave right now, along with Elias. Adelaide Brimwell had been a lady through and through. So had Livi’s grandmother, Olivia, as well as Livi’s mom. 

The thought of her mother made her tear up. How she wished Mom was still around to advise her. They’d always planned that Livi would take over running the organization one day, but neither had dreamed that day would come so soon. Her mother’s heart attack had struck like lightning. Livi’s brother had left town, moving to Seattle, which was just far enough south to keep the memories at bay. Livi had stayed put, holding on to every single one, weaving them together into a lifeline to cling to as she kept Christmas from the Heart afloat.

Oh, Mom. What should I do?

Try again came the answer.

Yes, her mother never gave up. She’d chased one potential donor for two years before he finally came through. Livi still remembered the day her mom left the house, clad in a Mrs. Santa costume she’d created—requisite white wig along with a frilly white blouse and a red skirt topped with a red-striped apron. She’d taken with her a batch of home-baked cookies nestled in a red basket and returned home with a check for five hundred dollars. The man had been a loyal contributor ever since. Livi still took him cookies every year.

“Persistence pays,” she told herself as she deleted what she’d typed.

She started over.

 

I’m asking you to reconsider. Your company is our major donor, and without you so many people will have little joy this Christmas. Any amount you can give will be greatly appreciated.

There. He’d have to be a heartless monster not to respond to that.

Guy trashed the guilt-inflicting email. What was he, Santa Claus? He had his hands full keeping his company solvent.

But then, people like Olivia Berg never considered the fact that a company might have needs of its own. What made them feel so entitled to sit at the edge of the salt mine while a man slaved away and then greet him with their hands out when he emerged broken and bruised? Maybe some of those people always begging for money should get out there and actually earn a living. Let them work their tails off, putting in seventy-hour weeks. Sheesh.

Anyway, the company had already met their good deed quota for the year. The only cause Guy was interested in now was Hightower Enterprises.

 

By the end of the workday, Guy Hightower still hadn’t responded to Livi’s last email. “You are a heartless monster,” she grumbled, glaring at her empty email in-box.

“No word yet?” her part-time assistant, Bettina Thomas, asked as she shut down her computer.

Livi sighed and shook her head.

“That is so wrong,” Bettina said in disgust.

It sure was. “They’ve been our major donor ever since my great-grandmother founded Christmas from the Heart. Without their contribution how will we put on the Christmas dinner at the community center? How many families won’t have presents under the tree or Christmas stockings or a Christmas turkey?” There was no Salvation Army in Pine River, no Toys for Tots— none of the usual organizations serviced this area. There had been no need. Christmas from the Heart had it under control.

Until now.

“We’ve had to reassess our commitments,” Livi quoted. The words left a bad taste in her mouth and she frowned. “It sounds like something your boyfriend says when he’s dumping you.”

“They are dumping us,” Bettina pointed out. “But don’t worry. We have time. We’ll find someone else to come through.”

“Not like Hightower. There must be something I can do,” Livi mused.

“There is. Go home and eat chocolate.”

And try not to think bad thoughts about Guy Hightower.

In all fairness, he probably didn’t grasp the situation. She’d call him the next day and invite him to come to Pine River for a visit so she could let him see the need, show him a little of what Christmas from the Heart did for the community. She could take him to lunch, introduce him to some of the people in town, put a face—or better yet, several—to Christmas from the Heart. She’d top it all off by following in her mother’s footsteps and baking him cookies. Then how could he help but catch the vision his great-grandfather and her great-grandmother had shared?

Yes, that would do it. Sometimes you had to be a little patient, give people a second chance.

Excerpted from Christmas From the Heart by Sheila Roberts. Copyright © 2019 by Roberts Ink LLC. Published by MIRA Books. 

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I was born and raised near Sacramento, CA. I have read since I was four years old and developed tastes that run the gamut of literature. I went away to college and have a degree in education, a certificate in family history research, and a certificate in social work. I worked for a non-profit agency with low income families for 20 years which included being responsible for the children’s library and promoting/teaching adult literacy. I have lived in Southeast Michigan for the last 18 years and I am currently a book addicted homemaker with a cat and husband who keep me grounded. Recently, I made it a challenge to review each book that I have read as a favor to author friends who said reviews are important. I have done reviews for Good Reads, Amazon, eBay, and Smashwords, but mostly at Goodreads and Amazon.

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Mary Kirkland
6 months ago

This sounds like a good book. I love red velvet cake.

Sophia Rose
6 months ago
Reply to  Mary Kirkland

I do too, especially with cream cheese layers and frosting. 🙂

Carole Rae
6 months ago

Fun post!

Sophia Rose
6 months ago
Reply to  Carole Rae

I love reading Q&As from authors so I can get to know them and their books better. 🙂