Christmas, Cookies and Main Street

Hello, my name is Ashlyn Storm. I am a writer, and mother, who lives in Suffolk Virginia. I usually write fantasy, although I do dabble in contemporary fiction. Sweeter than Honey is one such case and will be my first published book.

It came about when one of my friends, E. Ayers, approached me about an anthology set she was working on for the Authors of Main Street. The theme was Christmas, and I happily agreed to enter the world of Santa Claus and sugar cookies a full six months early to get into the spirit of the holidays.

But I didn’t know where to begin. I considered doing a ladybug theme, although after some consideration, decided the little insects just didn’t fit. So, I changed the bugs to bees, made some cookies using honey, and started writing. 

My main character, Brigitte Bailey, also uses honey in her recipes. She has cinnamon hair, emerald green eyes, and is the proud owner of B’s Bakery. In the book I had her trying to come up with a new cookie recipe while dodging her grandmother’s matchmaking attempts. Most notably, to the new police officer in town, Todd Sweeney.

While writing, I experimented with a few cookie recipes of my own. Using infused honey, just like in the book,  I made two flavors. The first was Apple Pie. Along with the honey, I used cinnamon sticks and apple slices to make a sweet tasting treat. The second flavor I made was called Yuletide. It had cinnamon sticks, cloves, and orange slices. It was still sweet but had a distinctively holiday taste. Still, I liked both flavors, and so I decided the best thing to do was to give a taste test. Luckily, my son and my three nephews  were nearby. I gave them each a Yuletide and an Apple Pie cookie and asked them to vote on their favorite. Their votes were as follows:

Matthew (9 years old) “Um… actually… both.”

Zachery (6 years old) “BOTH!”

Christian (2 years old) “Yum.”

Bryson (7 years old, and my son) “Yuletide is better.”

Apparently, my son is the only one who understands how to cast a vote. And he confirmed my suspicions. Yuletide is the Christmas cookie of choice.

With the cookies decided, my next step was to come up with a name for the book. I considered using Yuletide Honey, but never really warmed up to it as a title. Although, I did like the idea of using honey in the name. I played with several different possibilities, including Cookies, Honey, and Christmas, Honey do Christmas, and Baked with Honey. But I disliked all of them, and instead focused on writing the story. By the  time I was finished, I had the title. Sweeter than Honey. 

Most of Sweeter than Honey was written and edited in local coffee shops along the Eastern Shore. If there is one thing I can tell you, it is to never underestimate the power of a good pastry and a strong cup of coffee.

Ashlyn Storm

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