For today’s Sunday Dinner, I invited A.M. Heath to talk about Movie-made Romance.
A.M. Heath is a multi-Selah Finalist, Painted Memories and enjoys writing romances that entertain while feeding the soul in contemporary and historical settings. Under the pen name Chelsea Michelle, she co-authors Christian cozy mysteries. She is happily married and raising four kids while embracing the small-town lifestyle and southern standard of back porch relaxing, sweet tea, homemade comfort food, strong Christian values, and tightly woven family bonds.
Sunday Dinner is a traditional (noon) meal served after church on Sundays. Whole families, including extended family, would gather over a large meal to celebrate a day of rest. Multiple cultures enjoy this Sunday Dinner tradition. In my experience, I know it from both my Midwestern farm family as well as my Italian-American family. Now, I’d like to bring Sunday Dinner virtually to you. So, pull up a chair as we invite various guests to join us each week!
Without further ado, please tell us something interesting readers would enjoy learning about you.
I’m a foodie. I love to cook, grocery shop, bake, and eat. I often write my cravings into my stories. Sometimes it’s a one-time feature, but, sometimes, the dish practically becomes a character in the book. So far there I’ve added copious amounts of tamales in The Engagement Cover, Little Debbies in Falling Between the Pages, hot chocolate in Project Scrooge, and the William’s Cranberry cake in the Ancient Words series (which was a dish that I wound up creating the recipe for).
Can you tell us about your latest novel?
He wants a second chance. She wants him to get lost.
Carleigh St. John is tired of watching everyone else get their happily-ever-after, and her little sister’s engagement is the last straw. Stewing down the overused plot lines from Christmas Romance movies, Carleigh creates a dating playbook. With a marathon of Christmas dates ranging from picking out a tree with her first crush to volunteering with her grumpy co-worker, she’s bound to find her perfect movie-made ending. … If only her ex will stay out of the way.
Joshua Price has spent the last four years trying to outrun his past and the ex-fiancé he had hurt, but now he is back home. As he strives to help his grandfather, he keeps bumping into Carleigh. The pull between them is undeniable, and Joshua longs to convince her to see him as a changed man worthy of a second chance.
Will Carleigh’s movie-inspired dating book bring her the happy ending she desires, or is God ushering in a plot twist of His own? Find out in this heartwarming, laugh-out-loud romance full of all the sweet, cheesy movie moments you can’t get enough of.
Why did you choose to write a story set in Garland, TN?
I’ve lived in the same small county in middle TN my entire life and wouldn’t have it any other way. When I was crafting my Christmas setting, I chose to model it after my hometown. I chose the fictional name Garland because it’s sweet and Christmasy.
What Christmas traditions do you highlight in your story?
Throughout the series, I’ve highlighted a little bit of everything. The mistletoe kiss is one that I purposely feature differently in each story.
In Movie-made Romance, Carliegh is working off a list of Christmas date ideas inspired by the things we commonly see in a Christmas romance movie. Things like: tree picking, decorating, baking cookies, volunteering, wrapping gifts, and of course the mistletoe kiss. 😉
She also watches a lot of Christmas romance movies with her neighbor and friend, which is a personal favorite tradition of mine.
Overcoming bitterness is a theme in your story. Can you elaborate on why you chose to weave that theme into your story?
I have a history with bitterness. The Lord has taught me so much over the years, and I’ve become passionate about helping others recognize the signs of bitterness and how to remove the roots of it from their lives permanently.
This theme crops up quite a bit in my stories, the Christmas ones in particular for some reason. But I’ve noticed that each time, the angle of the lesson looks a little different, which only goes to show how complex bitterness can be.
What does a day in the life of one of your characters look like?
Carliegh is an elementary teacher assistant. So during the school year, she wakes up in a good mood (she’s a bubbly sort), makes her breakfast, and packs her lunch. At school, she’s a bit invisible, working behind the scenes to support a number of teachers by making copies, working solo with struggling students, or stepping in to oversee a class for a few minutes when the teacher needs to step out. While she’s overly friendly, she feels left out among her co-workers and even in her family as she is the last single gal of her sisters.
After work, she spends most of her time with her elderly neighbor and best friend, Ms. Wanda. They often eat dinner together and watch Christmas romance movies. Then she heads back to her lonely side of the duplex and prays for the Lord to send her a worthy man to share her life with. … Thankfully for her, her brilliant movie-inspired dating plan is going to shake up her ordinary life.
Were resources easy or difficult to find on these topics? Do you have a favorite resource?
The two main topics in this novella were Christmas romance movie plots and bitterness/overcoming past sins. Thankfully, I have a lot of experience with both, so I didn’t have to go far for knowledge. 😉
I was actually overstuffed on Christmas romance movies one weekend when I started asking myself what it would look like if we took their wash-and-reuse plots and applied them to a dating strategy. Much like my character, I simply took pen and paper to jot down ideas.
And for the characters’ spiritual themes, I worked with my personal lessons. I’ve been teaching a ladies’ Sunday School class for a few years now, and I’ve noticed these lessons bleedy into my novels. That’s been the most natural, and absolute coolest, thing to witness.
What is one piece of your research that you couldn’t include in the book, but wish readers could know?
That overcoming bitterness is a moment-by-moment decision. And I’ve learned that it begins with being brutally honest, which is something I explain in greater detail in Project Scrooge. The truth is, someone clinging to anger doesn’t want to forgive. We say we do because we know we’re supposed to forgive but we don’t really want to forgive.
The first big step to true forgiveness is simply admitting to God that you’re still mad and unwilling to let it go. Then ask Him to give you the desire to want to forgive. Over time, you’ll work up to praying for forgiveness but the first step is desiring it.
Do you have another book in the works? What can you tell us about that book?
I am co-writing cozy mysteries under the pen name Chelsea Michelle. We’re editing our first full-length novel and hope to release it sometime next year. Our Watson Twins series features twins and amateur sleuths, Chelsea and Michelle. We chose our pen name after our characters because our characters are based on our personalities. My character, Michelle, is overly suspicious of everything, while her sister is constantly trying to keep her out of trouble.
It’s been a blast to work with my best friend and mystery partner, and our characters feed off that energy so well, making the stories a true joy to write. We’re working on our Amazon presence, but if you follow my A.M. Heath brand, I’ll clue you in on the Chelsea Michelle links as they become available.
Is there anything else you’d like readers to know?
I love to inspire and encourage through my writing. It’s a joy to get to know my readers. If you’re into edifying romances, I’d be honored to have you follow me and join in on the conversation.
The afternoon is slipping away, so we have to draw the stories to an end. Thank you for joining us today!
If readers would like to purchase a copy of Movie-made Romance where might they be able to do so?
It releases November 17, 2023, and is currently available for .99! Get it on Amazon!
If readers would like to learn about you or your other books, how might they find you online?
My website is christianauthoramheath.net.
Over Sunday Dinner next week author Jamie Ogle will be joining us. See you then!
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