Christmas is hands-down my absolute favorite time of the year. I’ve always wanted to write a Christmas story, but I’ve never had an idea for one that compelled me to take action. Until now. Most story ideas flit through my mind and disappear, but the inspiration behind my novella, The Christmas Gift, showed up and demanded I start writing. (Which, by the way, is my excuse for being so, so far behind on my Christmas preparations!)

Like all my stories, The Christmas Gift started randomly enough: what-if questions, endless pacing, hours of online research, and more chocolate than I’m wiling to admit consuming. But while I was toying with ideas for a contemporary series, I started wondering how my bundle of characters came to be connected. How did this diverse group of people get together? I kept looking back in time until I stumbled across “The Monuments Men” of World War II.

Have you heard of them? This group of over 300 men and women from 13 countries were part of the MFAA (Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives) section during the war. Their job was to protect and preserve monuments and cultural treasures from the destruction of war. (Go to http://www.monumentsmenfoundation.org/ to learn more.)

I was hooked. I’d had no idea this group existed. The more I learned about “The Monuments Men,” the more impressed I was. Suddenly, a storybook hero began taking shape in my mind and The Christmas Gift demanded to be written.

The Christmas Gift by Connie Mann

It’s finally finished and I’m delighted to share it with you. All I ask is that you take a moment to sign up for my newsletter. Once your email address is confirmed, you’ll get a link to download The Christmas Gift FREE. Or, if you’re not a joiner, you can purchase a copy of The Christmas Gift on Amazon for $.99.

In the midst of the Christmas craziness, take a few minutes to slip back into another time and place. Pour yourself a hot drink and come meet Polish immigrant Sophie Dolinski, who is desperate to find her missing sister, and Captain Will Stoddard, who is desperate to find a missing painting. At this magical time of year, will these two find the precious gifts they seek?

Merry Christmas, everyone! Let me know what you think of Sophie and Will!

PS–Isn’t the cover gorgeous?? All the credit goes to Michele Klopfenstein (Photography) and Ben Klopfenstein (Design).