Book Title: The Christmas Angel in Apt. 3C
Author: Holly Cohen
Publisher: Anaiah Press
Target Audience: Middle-grade (8-12 year-olds)
Genre: Inspirational fiction, Children’s Book
Publication Date: November 30, 2018
Available on Kindle from Amazon and free on Kindle Unlimited!
From the Back Cover:
Without Mama, Christmas has ceased to exist for Papa, but this year, Angel is determined to bring some Yuletide joy back into their lives. With little money, no decorations, and not much time left until the big day, she is facing an uphill climb all the way. Help comes one night in the form of an ethereal voice that drifts through her window, singing words of comfort. Angel vows to find the singer, and what she discovers inspires a plan with the nativity at its core. Making it work won’t be easy, though, with bully Brian tormenting her and obstacles springing up like weeds. Angel must rely on new friendships and deepening faith to spur her on in the face of mounting uncertainties, but will that be enough to return Christmas to Papa’s world?
The Christmas Angel in Apt. 3C is a delightful story full of Christmas cheer. Although this book is targeted toward middle grade readers (ages 8-12), this a lovely story that will warm the hearts of both children and adults. The love of God seems to radiate off of every page. I love the fact that this book manages to share the beauty of the true meaning of Christmas with children without being overly preachy or pedantic.
The story moves quickly and the pacing is done very well. The main characters are very well developed, especially for a middle grade novel. The protagonist, Angel, was particularly well developed and the author made me deeply empathize with her story. I truly felt for this little girl who had lost her mother. I was cheering for her throughout the entire book as she embarked on a quest to share the true meaning of Christmas with her father. I also enjoyed the fact that the author explored the motivation behind the bully who makes Angel’s life challenging for the first two acts of the story. There is more to this little boy then there originally appears.
I will admit, I had to fight back a tear once or twice as I watched Angel struggle to bring the true meaning of Christmas to her home. This would be a great book for parents and children to read together. I strongly recommend this book for parents, middle grade readers, and anyone who is in the mood for a heartwarming Christmas story. Reading this book was like drinking a warm cup of cocoa for the soul.
Note: I received a free digital PDF copy from the author in exchange for an honest review
My Interview with Holly Cohen
I love to read and one of the joys of writing a book blog is having the opportunity to speak with authors regarding their craft. One of my favorite genres is inspirational fiction; therefore, I was particularly delighted that Holly was willing to take time to talk to me about her writing process, her inspiration, and her tips for other Christian writers!
Rev. Rebecca: I really enjoyed reading The Christmas Angel in Apt. 3C. Was this your first book? What inspired you to tell this heartwarming story?
Holly Cohen: Thank you, Beckie! The Christmas Angel in Apt. 3C is my first middle-grade novel and my first published book. I have written some other books (picture books and a book of poetry about Exodus) that are currently unpublished. I’ve always wanted to write something centered on Christmas. It’s such a sacred time, but that often gets missed amidst all the rushing around that has become a big part of the season. I wanted to emphasize the true meaning of Christmas in the context of Angel’s deep longing to change her world.
RR: Would you please share a little bit about your writing process? For you, what comes first- the characters or the plot? Do you use outlines to plan your work?
HC: For me, the plot comes first, but the characters are such an integral part of the plot that it’s almost hard to separate them in my mind. First, I sketch out a very high level outline. Then, I write my first draft in longhand without editing anything. I just write in pencil in a notebook until I’m done with my first draft. This feels less formal and less intimidating to me than starting by writing at my computer. As I go along, sometimes the story demands to stray away from the outline in places, but overall the story stays with the general shape of the outline. Once I have the first draft done, then I begin the process of multiple rounds of editing on my computer. I keep polishing until I think my story is ready for others to read.
RR: I really appreciate how the warm love of God just seems to shine forth from your story without it seeming overly preachy or pedantic (and trust me, I know a thing or two about preaching!). What advice do you have for Christian writers who want to share their faith in a way that young children will both understand and appreciate?
HC: I would suggest thinking about what it is like to be a child hearing about Jesus for the first time. Remember those people in your life who shared Christ with you in the most loving and lasting ways. Then, try to capture that essence in your story. Also, don’t forget that God has made no one exactly like you. Your experiences allow you to share the gospel in a unique way.
RR: I’m an animal lover and Mr. Mustachio was one of my favorite characters. Is he based on a feline that you have known in your own life? Do you have any pets?
HC: I love Mr. Mustachio, too! He is a combination of all the wonderful cats I have been blessed to have in my life so far. In the last few years, my family and I have had to say goodbye to two sweet cats who were sisters named Maui and Hana. Maui was almost 18 years-old when she left us, and Hana was 20. They were definitely part of the family. One of my unpublished picture books is loosely based on an adventure that Maui had, and is titled Maui to the Rescue. We are currently catless, but I don’t think that will last for long. We do have a wonderful aquatic frog named Swimmy (apropos name, no?) who my youngest son won at school when he was 8 year-old. My son is now 18 and in college, so that tells you how old Swimmy is!
RR: I see that you are published with Anaiah Press. What advice do you have for other Christian Writers who are seeking a publisher? Any tips for those of us working on the dreaded query letter?
HC: My introduction to Anaiah Press came as a result of the Twitter pitch party, #FaithPitch. It is a pitch party for faith-based fiction and non-fiction. I would suggest giving it a try. I would also generally encourage writers to branch out and try new things, even if they seem a little daunting. I had never participated in a pitch party before, and I was a bit nervous, but it all worked out great!
Regarding query letter writing, I would advise doing some research on what makes a query letter effective. There are lots of great articles out there on this. Then, use what you’ve learned to write an outstanding query letter that makes the agent or editor want more. Don’t forget to polish, polish, and polish some more!
RR: Finally, what are you most excited about right now? Are you working on another book or creative project?
HC: I’m excited to apply the things I’ve learned in bringing The Christmas Angel in Apt. 3C to fruition to future projects. I am currently doing some research for my next novel, which will be a historical middle-grade novel. I am also working on some picture book projects.
Holly Cohen is the author of the middle-grade novel, The Christmas Angel in Apt. 3C from Anaiah Press. She is a technical writer by trade, but her passion is writing for children. Holly lives in Southern California with her beloved husband, whose sense of humor she treasures. They are blessed with two wonderful sons and a daughter-in-law they adore. Holly loves spending time with her family and friends. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, creating, riding waves, and hiking. Her secret talent is extracting stuffed animals from claw machines.
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