December 8, 2020

Hope For Endings and Beginnings

Lindsey P. Brackett

Every year about this time, I get nostalgic. Not for evergreen boughs and red bows, sugar cookies and candy canes. Instead, I’m remembering the year my parents slipped a book with a yellow cover under the Christmas tree. A paperback with pencil illustrations and simple words about a little family in a little house in the Big Woods.  When asked how I knew I wanted to be a writer, I show them those now tattered paperbacks. I knew because I sincerely believed that if Laura Ingalls could write stories about her family, then so could I.

Not to mention, the world of Laura’s prairies and long winters made me feel safe and secure. Though I realize now, as an adult, how little security her life really held. But under the influence of her stories, I found myself always gravitating toward novels that give me that same sense of contentment.

These days my nightstand is stacked with Sarah Addison Allen’s magical realism, Patti Callahan Henry and Karen White for escapes to my beloved Lowcountry, and new discoveries like Ariel Lawhon and Kristen Harmel who take me to war-ravaged France but never leave me in despair. I gravitate always toward the hopeful ending—and even in those stories where it’s non-traditional, I believe in the best for these characters I’ve come to know and love.  

Which is why it only made sense to me that I take two of my favorite minor characters from my debut novel and give them a happily ever after all their own.

When I started writing StillWaters in 2008, I didn’t know it would be a book ten years in the making. I certainly didn’t expect readers to have such strong opinions or to be the driving force behind The Bridge Between, my second full-length novel. But the prompting of readers who loved this story and its rustic setting on Edisto Beach, South Carolina was all it took to help me dive a little deeper. Pulling out Hannah and Ben into a story all their own seemed like a fun side venture, a little treat for my newsletter subscribers. Then a friend suggested I make it even sweeter and set their tale at Christmas, when we all know magic is bound to happen.

Magnolia Mistletoe was written on my back porch on sunny summer days when thoughts of hot chocolate and Santa seemed far away. I peppered my mother for tidbits about her mother’s Christmas traditions, since Walterboro, where my mama grew up, is only a hop-skip-and-jump from Edisto Island. She shared her mother’s letters, one detailing the curtains my grandmother dyed red for the season. She told me about how they strung pinecones and evergreen boughs together to form wreaths and garlands that were draped over doors and staircases. She sent my grandmother’s sugar cookie recipe—again—with the admonishment that I better pay attention to the directions.

Hopefully, I paid attention to it all. And I wrapped it up as sweetly as I could in this little Christmas novella that’s now available from your favorite bookseller, just in time to stuff in a stocking. It’s cute and fun, and every time I look at it I smile. This is the story of two people so busy planning everyone else’s happily ever after they almost miss their own—and I could not be more thrilled to hold it in my hands and pass it on to yours.

Because right now, we could all use a little more hope for both endings and beginnings.

Hannah Calhoun knows what she wants for Christmas. But before she can become a full-fledged partner in her mother’s wedding planning business, she first has to prove she can handle her own shortcomings. Benjamin Townsend is an entrepreneur always looking out for the next big thing—and if hosting weddings on Edisto is it, he’s all in. Even if that does mean spending a lot of time with Hannah, whose world is full of way more happily ever after than his. Once the magnolia and mistletoe are hung, will an Edisto Christmas be exactly the magic these two need?


Lindsey P. Brackett has taught middle school, read radio obits, and directed musicals but her favorite job is writing women’s fiction inspired by her rural Georgia life and Lowcountry roots. Find her podcasting at A Rough Draft Life, stress baking on Instagram, and writing at



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