The Echo Ridge Christmas Anthology (available here for the introductory price of 99 cents!) has been a wonderful project and experience. What has made it so great is the challenge of coordinating stories, characters and setting with four other authors. You would think–because authors are usually solitary creatures who disappear into caves and imaginary worlds–that we wouldn’t play well with others. However, working with these women has been quite the opposite. They are giving, kind, talented beyond measure in more areas than I can count, and–above all else–they are dedicated to their families. Because I’ve admired them, I wanted to give you all a chance to get to know them better too. Therefore, I’ve put together a spotlight of each woman and I’m going to post them here each day. Today, the second day of posting, I’m taking a deep–not paparazzi deep–look at
Bestselling Author Connie Sokol.
Connie Sokol is a mother of seven, (that alone should win her an award!!) and a favorite local and national speaker for over fifteen years. She is a TV core contributor “Studio 5 with Brooke Walker” and a national blogger for www.ksl.com. She is one of seven female hosts of The Living Room, an online value-based radio show where they dish on life, loving, and learning (www.fromthelivingroom.com). (AKA total celebrity!) Mrs. Sokol is a bestselling author who has written 14 books, including her fiction: Christmas Kisses: An Echo Ridge Anthology, and Caribbean Crossroads; and her nonfiction: What Every 6th Grader Needs to Know, Faithful, Fit & Fabulous, Simplify & Savor the Season, Create a Powerful Life Plan, and 40 Days with the Savior. (See what I mean about talent!) Mrs. Sokol marinates in time spent with her family and eating decadent treats. For her TV segments, blog, podcasts and more, visit www.conniesokol.com. You can connect with Connie at the following links: http://www.fromthelivingroom.com–Downloads Website, Twitter, Facebook
On the lighter side
I asked Connie to tell me five random thoughts about herself or her Echo Ridge story and this is what she said:
- The idea was born at a writing conference speaker’s table with Rachelle, Christina, and myself
- My husband is from upstate New York, where the story is based
- Although I’ve penned 13 other books, this is my first novella
- I write in between raising seven kids — I have to add that I am impressed she can find an between in their!! 🙂
- I’m originally from Scotland and this year traveled back to Europe for two fabulous weeks! (This one surprised me!)
Sharing a brief sample of Connie’s writing from Soda Fountain Christmas is always a treat. Here you go, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
“Bravo,” Cecilia glanced at her file folder. “Beautiful speech. I can’t imagine how many times you ran through it but it’s not going to happen. I’ve already called in the heavy artillery.”
“The what? Who?” Not another “sure-bet” one-time hire.
“A marketing genius, graduated summa cum laude from Yale, and works in a marketing agency in my old downtown.”
“As in New York?”
“Yes, that downtown. He knows how to make the numbers really crunch and that’s what we need this Christmas, Miss Kenworth. Or the store, you, and every employee here is done.” She leaned closer, taking off her reading glasses. “No touchy-feely Hallmark campaign is going to save this sinking ship or get the numbers we need. And certainly not a Kenworth’s poster-child-turned-marketing assistant. Do I make myself clear? Tayton Wells is the answer to our problems, with a fat bonus waiting at the end of the rainbow to ensure success.”
Before Keira could respond to the rudeness, Cecilia looked past her shoulder to the reception area and smiled. “Ah, there’s Tayton now. My noon appointment,” she emphasized clearly.
Keira turned to the three people waiting in the sofa and table area. A dark-haired broad-shouldered man sat in semi-profile to her, texting on a phone. His briefcase lay on the coffee table in front of him. Keira pressed her lips together. Rich, “downtown”, and ready to glam-up her father’s beloved store right out of memory.
Not this time.
Keira spun on her heels and marched over to him though his head remained down. “Mr. Wells, Keira Kenworth. Excuse me for being frank but I have to be absolutely clear up front. I’m sure our little hick city of Echo Ridge can’t compare with the savoir faire of say, 5th Avenue, but there’s one thing you should know.” She glanced back at Cecilia, who stood in a rare moment of open mouth and no sound. So what if she was fired. She’d think about that later.
The man looked up from his phone and glanced around the room as if to be sure she spoke to him. Keira glanced at Cecilia but plowed on. “That’s right, I’m talking to you. No Neiman-Marcus suit ideas will make a bigger impact on our store than the old-fashioned strategy of creating a family-friendly place to shop. A place that connects people. A worthy cause that fills their hearts, not just their gift lists. I can guarantee”—okay, that was stretching it, but in for a penny…–“that not one of your bottom-line glitzy concepts are going to fly in this town. Not long term. It doesn’t work that way here.” Her voice rose. “And I will work night and day to prove that the heart of Christmas is the real secret to saving this store.”
Shirley smacked her gum. “Oh, sugar, that’s a whopper speech right there.”
Keira’s chest heaved slightly while standing her ground. The man smiled—or was it a smirk? Then he stood up, all six foot six tall of him. He smiled openly as he appraised her. “For the record, I’m not—”
Another man suddenly stood next to Keira. “Are you looking for me?”
A deep baritone voice. Like warm rushing water. Keira turned to her right. A well-built dark-haired man in a nice-fitting burgundy jersey and snug jeans stood with a hint of a smile. “I’m Tayton Wells.”
“You? But I—” Keira willed her face to remain neutral but could feel the tinge of red spreading from her cheeks to her earlobes. Glancing back at the original man, he stuck out his hand. “Drew Stirling. Remember me?”
“Wait, Drew? As in our Echo Ridge basketball legend? I didn’t recognize you in a suit. I mean, not wearing sweats.”
Tayton stepped slightly in front of Drew, necessitating their handshake to break. Though tall, Tayton only rose to his shoulders. “I apologize for the confusion between people. As for business attire, the driver ran late so we didn’t have time to stop at the resort first. Are we meeting with Ms. Grange right now?”
“Not we. Just you.” Cecilia had walked over to them. “Drew, I’ll be with you soon, touch base with accounting. Tayton, in here. Keira, go make yourself useful.” With that she turned on her red heels and entered her office.
Dismissed. The redness in Keira’s face burned. Drew grabbed his briefcase and with a nod and smile headed toward the open office door. Tayton feigned gentlemanly interest in his duffel bag while Keira shook off the embarrassment, holding her work folder close to her chest.
He stood. “Sounds like we’ll meet later then.”
“Apparently.” She shrugged. “Possibly.” Turning to go, she looked back, surprised to find him watching her. “I meant what I said, Mr. Wells. If we have to go toe to toe, I’m in the ring.”
He watched her for a moment longer than he should have then nodded with the start of a smile. “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Not knowing what to do with that, Keira walked through the open door and into the nearest restroom to calm down. She forced herself not to beat her hands on the door.
What an utter failure of a morning.