REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Tara Johnson

BLURB (Back Cover Copy)

Reluctant debutante Keziah Montgomery lives beneath the weighty expectations of her staunch Confederate family, forced to keep her epilepsy secret for fear of a scandal. As the tensions of the Civil War arrive on their doorstep in Savannah, Keziah sees little cause for balls and courting. Despite her discomfort, she cannot imagine an escape from her familial confines―until her old schoolmate Micah shows her a life-changing truth that sets her feet on a new path . . . as a conductor in the Underground Railroad.

Dr. Micah Greyson never hesitates to answer the call of duty, no matter how dangerous, until the enchanting Keziah walks back into his life and turns his well-ordered plans upside down. Torn between the life he has always known in Savannah and the fight for abolition, Micah struggles to discern God’s plan amid such turbulent times.

Battling an angry fiancé, a war-tattered brother, bounty hunters, and their own personal demons, Keziah and Micah must decide if true love is worth the price . . . and if they are strong enough to survive the unyielding pain of war.

My Review

Well, first of all, this was a fantastic read. It became one of my summer reads because of where it fell in my TBR (to be read) pile. This was not a gentle, slow read, though.

The story whisks you away, starting with the first line! And you are in this world with Keziah, Micah, and the challenges of the historical time. I truly couldn’t put it down.

Johnson’s ability to put words together and express the character’s point of view, while remaining easy to read was spot on.

The main characters are well-developed and come across so. They are definitely the “three-dimensional” characters we all long for. The secondary and minor characters are less filled out, but that is not atypical. Johnson’s focus on the hero and heroine’s development was well-spent. And she did not commit the egregious sin of “weighing the reader down with info dumps” as can be the case when the author spends so much effort on backstory. She continued to move the story along as we see different parts of these characters.

In the end, I really enjoyed the romance, the historical accuracy, and this story of overcoming. I would highly recommend it to anyone who loves Clean Historical Romance, or just a well-tailored story in general.

Interview

Welcome to the blog, Tara! Thanks for visiting. We have become a little more familiar with your novel, Engraved on the Heart. Can you tell us a bit about the inspiration for Engraved on the Heart?

The spark of the idea for Engraved on the Heart began when our family visited Savannah, Georgia. I was entranced with the history and charm of the town. Secrets seemed to ooze out of every corner.

The first spark was ignited by a still unknown soul. During a historic riding tour of the city, I was intrigued by a fact rattled off by our tour guide. “Many of the older homes and buildings in and around Savannah were built by slaves. In fact, if you look closely, you can find some of their fingerprints in the bricks.”

I walked down the cobblestone streets, admiring the weeping willows and moss hanging from the towering trees. As I passed a home, a darkened impression molded into the crumbling brick snagged my attention. I sucked in a surprised breath over the precious detail. There it was, staring back at me. The fingerprint of a slave.

I ran my finger over the scarred impression, marveling that such a small mark could tell such an exquisite story. Whose hands had formed the old brick? What was his name? What were his dreams? Running my fingers over that precious print linked me inextricably to the past, binding an invisible cord between the nameless slave and me.

The next day, we visited the Georgia State Railroad Museum where I found several books in the gift shop about famous women of the Civil War. Courageous heroes like Elizabeth Van Lew who fought against the norms of her culture to give freedom and hope to those trapped in darkness.

God slowly unfurled a story in my heart…the tale of a girl who battled epilepsy as a child, just as I did, but grew to understand her worth in the eyes of a loving God.

Absolutely fascinating. I love how history is telling, but holds so many secrets.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

No, first I wanted to be a singer, which is funny because for ten years I was signed with a Christian ministry and record label. I would imitate everyone from Julie Andrews and Sandi Patty to Ethel Merman and Mariah Carey. Later, I wanted to be a teacher, then a marine biologist and later a physical therapist. Writing was never on my radar, although I was a voracious reader.

What a story! I guess most writers start with being an avid reader. And remain so.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

After traveling for ten years and singing concerts in churches, prisons and for ladies’ conferences, I was diagnosed with gastroparesis, which quickly began to limit my ability to sing more than a few songs at a time. I began blogging about my frustration and the lessons I was learning. I discovered a beautiful outlet in writing.

A friend suggested I attend the American Christian Fiction Writers National meeting. I balked, still confused as to why God would let my voice disappear when it seemed He’d told me He would use it to bring others to know Him. In my very first ACFW class, the speaker taught us about every author’s voice, their unique way of spinning words and phrases together. That’s when God showed me I could have a voice and still not have a voice. I’ve been writing ever since.

That is beautiful! A voice though you don’t have a voice… Love it!

I’m always learning from others…do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

I received two great pieces of advice early on in my writing career. The first one came from Tamera Alexander. She said, “Your books are not your babies. They are a product. Never confuse the two.” It was such a terrific observation. Keeping this distinction in mind takes the sting out of criticism, and helps me remember my worth has nothing to do with how well or poorly my latest story is received.

The second piece of advice was, “Villains are always the hero in their own story.” I’ve never forgotten it. This simple thought prevents me from writing cardboard characters. We are all deeply flawed, yearning for significance and desperate for love.

Love both of those nuggets!

Tell us a little about your writing process. Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

My favorite time to write is in the morning or early afternoon, and my favorite place is outside. Always outside, whether the sun is shining or I’m on my porch watching the rain fall. There is something so soothing and creatively stimulating about nature.

The outdoors is inspiring for certain!

The question I most often get from people about being an author is “How long does it take you to write a book?” So, let me turn that question on you.

On average it takes me eight to nine months to write a book. That includes research time. I usually spend a month or two just doing research and developing character wounds before I ever begin to write a word.

I, too, have found as I grow as a writer that taking the time to develop the character thoroughly is so valuable.

Thank you, Tara, for being on the blog today and for giving us a peek at your process. Now, I believe it is that time to let the readers delve into your books!

Engraved on the Heart

Enjoy an Excerpt

April 12, 1861

Savannah, Georgia

Don’t fail. Tonight of all nights, don’t fail.

Keziah Montgomery placed her gloved fingers into the waiting hand of the man smiling at her with confident expectation.

Taking a shallow breath against the corset threatening to crush her ribs in its unyielding grip, she willed her fluttering stomach to calm and allowed Mr. Watson to lead her into the middle of the crowded dance floor. A colorful array of bright silks and lace flurried around her in spinning circles. The thick, sticky air carried the weight of bay rum and a nauseating mixture of expensive perfumes and rice powder. The din of chatter and polite laughter choked her dizzying thoughts.

From across the room, she caught Mother’s penetrating stare. Elsie Montgomery had been adamant Keziah be at her best. No one must know her shameful secret. The sooner she marry, the better . . . before her future husband realized what her parents were so desperate to keep hidden.

Looking up, she smiled into the youthful face of Tate Watson as he cupped his warm hand against her waist, keeping the proper distance between them as the musicians struck up the opening strains of ”The Scenes of Our Childhood”.  She noted the golden stubble lining his jaw, his brown eyes bright. A flush of heat crept up her neck.

She blinked away the grit filming her vision. It was late into the festivities and the night seemed to drag. Still, she maintained her pasted-on smile and allowed him to sweep her through the swirl of spinning couples and blurring faces.

“Are you enjoying the dance?”

Mr. Watson’s lips moved, but it took her several moments to focus on what he was saying. If only it wasn’t so warm.

“Yes. The Ballingers throw an exquisite party.”

“Indeed, although I fear all the talk of impending war may have dampened the festivities to a degree.”

She nodded demurely, though she’d never admit conversing about the possibility of war was far more interesting than being forced to make polite niceties to the elite of Savannah’s upper echelon. Her mother would faint if she allowed her tongue to spill the unladylike sentiment.

“If war is declared, will you go?”

His eyes glinted, his bearing starched as he circled her past potted palms, pulling her into the thick of the dancers. “Without hesitation. It’s my sacred calling and duty to defend the freedoms Mr. Lincoln is attempting to rip from our way of life. No man worth his salt would dare flee his duty.”

Keziah pressed her lips tight, unwilling to say anything further, knowing if she did, she would be unable to stop. The issues did not seem so starkly cut to her. Instead, she smiled and nodded again, praying her mother could understand the depths of her desire to please. She would not mortify her. Not again.

The room suddenly dipped and twisted. Her breath thinned. Stay upright. Focus.Blinking hard, she realized Mr. Watson was asking her something, though she didn’t understand what. Alarm flooded her, followed by a frisson of something indefinable tingling up her spine.

No, God. Please, no. Not here. What will Mother think?

The prayer had hardly crossed her thoughts before she plunged into the abyss, the spinning colors collapsing into merciful blackness.

Where Dandelions Bloom

Cassie Kendrick is on the run. Her abusive father arranged her marriage to a despicable man, but she’s discovered an escape. Disguised as a man, Cassie enlists in the Union army, taking the name Thomas Turner. On the battlefields of the Civil War, keeping her identity a secret is only the beginning of her problems, especially after she meets Gabriel Avery, a handsome young photographer.

Anxious to make his mark on the world and to erase the darkness and guilt lurking from his past, Gabriel works with renowned photographer Matthew Brady to capture images from the front lines of the war. As Gabriel forges friendships with many of the men he encounters, he wonders what the courageous, unpredictable Thomas Turner is hiding.

Battling betrayal, their own personal demons, and a country torn apart by war, can Cassie and Gabriel learn to forgive themselves and trust their futures to the God who births hope and healing in the darkest places?

Buy Links

Engraved on the HeartAmazon

Where Dandelions BloomAmazon

More About the Author

Tara Johnson is an author and speaker, and loves to write stories that help people break free from the lies they believe about themselves.

Tara’s debut novel Engraved on the Heart (Tyndale) earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly, as well as numerous other accolades. In addition to be published in a variety of digital and print magazines, she has been a featured guest on Voice of Truth radio, Enduring Word radio, television and podcasts. She is a history nerd, especially the Civil War, and adores making people laugh. She, her husband, and children live in Arkansas.

Connect with Tara and Her Books

Website: www.TaraJohnsonStories.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TaraLynnJohnsonAuthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tarajohnsonministry/

Twitter: @TaraMinistry

GIVEAWAY

Tara is offering, for one (1) winner, chosen by Rafflecopter:

Winner’s choice! A paperback copy of Engraved on the Heart, or a paperback or ebook copy of her new release Where Dandelions Bloom.

Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter to enter. This giveaway is only for those in continental United States.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Shaen Layle

Welcome, readers! It’s been a little bit since I posted. I’ve been quite busy, rather sick, and then traveling this summer. But I am back today with another author for you to meet–Author Shaen Layle! Shaen is a suspense author and is here today to share about a couple of her works as well as her process. So, I’ll turn it over to Shaen…

Welcome to the blog, Shaen. First, can you tell us a little about your novel?

The back cover blurb says it best 😊 Prickly Virginia Lawrence, a preeminent scholar of Vineyard history, is also a notorious recluse. Therefore, the island is abuzz when Priscilla manages to book a library lecture with the local eccentric. However, on the evening of the event, Virginia is a no-show and nowhere to be found, and the valuable museum artifacts in her possession are now missing as well.

As Priscilla delves into the mystery of Virginia’s ill-timed disappearance, a seemingly unrelated puzzle emerges. Could a rash of random cemetery plunderings somehow be connected to the missing historian? As pressure builds to find Virginia and the missing priceless artifacts, Priscilla begins to doubt her own instincts- especially when she spies Gerald having mysterious dinner meetings with a lovely blond-haired woman.

Ooohh…interesting! Did you always want to be a writer?

Always, always, always. I found a home early on in the world of words.

Excellent! Usually people find their way there. How neat that you knew from early on. But though we love it, there are things that we don’t love as much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

When tech goes awry! The only time I get super frustrated as a writer is when my computer freezes/crashes or my phone goes dead.

Nightmare for me! I’m in that “should know tech” generation, but I don’t do super well with it…

I love hearing from authors where they are getting inspired through reading…and maybe like getting some recommendations 🙂 So…what are you currently reading?

I’ve really been digging into a lot of contemporary romance and women’s fiction lately. I thoroughly enjoyed Wooing Cadie McCaffrey by Bethany Turner and am partway through Whose Waves These Are by Amanda Dykes. Amanda’s book has the most beautifully lyrical language- and the atmosphere! You feel drenched to the bone with seaside. Next up in my TBR pile is Becky Wade’s Sweet On You. I’m trying to politely avoid mentions of it on social media because so many people have already read it, and I don’t want spoilers!

I like to set the stage for my writing…music and all. What about you? What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I used to have to have silence while writing, but that’s changed since I had kids! I’m a full-time work-at-home parent, so I have to figure out ways to tune out Daniel Tiger now. Sometimes I listen to classical music, but more often, I pull up white noise in an app (I’m particular to rain sounds) or background soundscapes on YouTube.

It’s Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse over here 🙂 Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

If I had my pick of writing time, it would definitely be early morning (after a good cup of tea, of course). Some people, like my husband, like to burn the midnight oil; I’m more of a sunlight and primrose kind of person myself. I love the possibility the morning holds, and it’s also when my house is the quietest and my energy is the freshest. I’m a nomad when it comes to location- another way I’ve had to learn flexibility after having kids. I have a small laptop that I carry from the living room to the bedroom to the sunroom as I need to. I write in the car a lot. I hardly ever sit at a desk, even though I have the space set up.

I hear you. I find myself concentrating better away from my desk strangely enough…

How long does it take you to write a book?

Like any other writer will probably tell you, it all depends on the deadline! I am the worst about obsessing over the details of a piece if I don’t have a solid date when I need to stop. I have a contemporary romance I hope to pick up again this summer that has been in the works for five years, but I wrote my last cozy mystery in several months.

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I’m actually stepping outside of my wheelhouse this summer to participate in the Summer of Suspense anthology, which is a collection of mystery and suspense novelettes from some of the top names in Christian Fiction. The anthology is available for pre-order right now, and you get sixteen novels for .99. If you haven’t gotten a copy yet, it’s a lot of reading for a little price!

Summer of Suspense is available for pre-order at:
Amazon – https://amzn.to/2VsrPqs
Nook – https://bit.ly/2DZC0YQ
Apple – https://apple.co/2VcpYkA

Thank you so much for being on the blog today and for sharing! Now, let’s have a look at Waves of Doubt and check out an excerpt!

Waves of Doubt

Enjoy an Excerpt

This scene happens partway through the book, when our sleuth, Priscilla, and her cousin, Trudy, are trying to track down missing scholar, Virginia Lawrence, and get sucked into a high-speed car chase across the Island!

Priscilla waved at Trudy to jump into her car. A few seconds later, a pink Cadillac came into view. Virginia, wearing her distinctive red cape, hunched so low over the steering wheel that Priscilla couldn’t even see her face. Bu Virginia obviously saw Priscilla. Virginia threw the car into Reverse and peeled out of the driveway so fast, tornadoes of gravel swirled in her wake.

“After her!” Trudy yelped and clicked on her seat belt.

Priscilla dropped her phone into the cup holder and gunned the engine.

Ahead of them, Virginia continued driving fast, kicking up clouds of dust that coated Priscilla’s windshield. Trees swaying overhead threw shadows on the road in front of her, further obscuring her vision, but she kept Virginia’s taillights in view.

“Watch the speed limit, Priscilla,” Trudy cautioned. She gripped her hands in her lap. “The last thing you need right now is to get in more trouble with the authorities.”

Priscilla set her lips in a tight line and pressed the gas pedal down a bit more. Thirty, forty, fifty. She watched the red line on the odometer creep up, bit by bit, and tightened her sweaty grip on the steering wheel. She turned left, then right, then left again, following Virginia in a maze of directions. Trudy alternately egged Priscilla on, and then shrieked at her to slow down.

Priscilla tried her best to keep up with Virginia, but the pastel car twisted and turned so rapidly on the wooded roads in front of them that she lost sight of it within a few miles. She found a clearing where she could pull over, and she put the vehicle into Park.

Trudy’s eyes were wide like saucers. “I had no idea Virginia could drive that fast.”

Buy Link

https://www.shopguideposts.org/waves-of-doubt-mmv22.html

More About the Author

Trained as a literary novelist and with a decade of librarianship under her belt, Shaen Layle writes inspirational fiction from her home in the Midwest, where she lives with her artist husband, Danny, and their two rambunctious, but adorable, little boys. She loves drinking Lady Grey tea and discussing all things bookish with readers at her website and on social media.

Connect with Shaen and her works

Website URL: www.shaenlayle.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorShaenLayle/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/shaenlayle

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shaen_layle/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/shaenlayle/pins/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/69552794-shaen-layle

GIVEAWAY

Shaen is giving away, to one (1) winner, one (1) signed, hardback copy of her Guideposts’ cozy mystery, Waves of Doubt. Please read the directions on the Rafflecopter linked below to enter. (Must be in the continental United States to be eligible.)

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/08e7dd2514/?

GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: Author Kadee Carder

I am participating in a compilation devotional project. Each author has chosen a fantasy author or popular book series and will write devotionals based on those. I chose “The Maze Runner” series. Below is one of the devotionals included in my selection:

Everybody Needs a Chuck

What’s the difference between humility and self-deprecation? Can an audacious someone also be humble? And in the Maze Runner, why did Thomas care so much about Chuck?

Think of the famous warriors we study from the stories of old – the legends, the rulers, the patriots, the freedom fighters – and what picture do you draw? What adjectives would you provide to describe them? Bold. Fierce. Strong. Valiant. Brave. Would you ever say, “humble”? Would that be a first-word choice?

Humility has four definitions:

  1. Not proud or arrogant; modest
  2. Having a feeling of insignificance or inferiority
  3. Low in rank, importance, status, quality; lowly
  4. Courteously respectful

Humility shows up all over the place in the Bible. Deuteronomy 8:2-3 reminds, “Remember that the Lord your God led you on the entire journey these forty years in the wilderness, so that He might humble you and test you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep His commands. He humbled you by letting you go hungry; then He gave you manna to eat, which you and your fathers had not known, so that you might learn that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.”

We find our true selves in times of trouble. God provides these opportunities to let us see who we are and who we can be. He also allows us to see his provision as our Shepherd. He allows us to see what we can be and whose we are. He loves us enough to allow us to become stronger; and remember he’s there with us the entire time. This builds our reliance on him, teaching us those hard-learned, hard-earned lessons of trust, faith, and humility.

The Jews for Jesus website offered a unique take on the idea of humility. “In the Bible, the most common word group displaying the meaning of humble uses the related words ‘ani’ and ‘anav’. ‘Ani’ usually denotes a condition of circumstance. Those who are ‘ani’ are suffering or afflicted and as a result find themselves in a lowly condition, whether physically, materially or socially. This affliction is often imposed by someone else: usually, the wicked…There is a related verb, ‘anah’ (to “humble”) that not only refers to what one might do to one’s enemies but also to what one does to oneself as a spiritual practice or what God uses to bring about repentance (Deuteronomy 8:2-3)… Often, being an ‘ani’ in circumstance leads to being an ‘anav’ in character…The difference between the two is that the ‘ani’ is needy and must depend on God to meet his or her needs; the ‘anav’ is humble because he or she has chosen to depend on God. The first is circumstantial; the second is a mark of character.” (Rich Robinson)

***

Part of the plot of Maze Runner was that the boys in the Glade were gifted, and placed intentionally within the program to see which of their attributes would be the perfect, precise mix of abilities to survive despite the worst odds. The boys’ memories were wiped, and they were planted with specific drops of memories to attend the Glade with them, along with new names. The names were given based on historical people of influence.

“So…Thomas,” [Chuck] said through a huge bite of mashed potatoes. “Who am I nicknamed after?”

Thomas couldn’t help shaking his head–here they were, about to embark on probably the most dangerous task of their lives, and Chuck was curious where he’d gotten his nickname. “I don’t know, Darwin, maybe? The dude who figured out evolution.”

“I bet no one’s ever called him a dude before.” Chuck took another big bite, and seemed to think that was the best time to talk, full mouth and all. “You know, I’m really not all that scared…I mean, last few nights, sitting in the Homestead, just waiting for a Griever to come in and steal one of us was the worst thing I’ve ever done. At least now we’re taking it to them, trying something” (324). 

Chuck was not well-liked among the Gladers. He was not on the council, he was not a leader, he did not draw the crowds in with his star personality and ruggedly handsome good looks. Chuck did not seem to belong in The Glade. Newt adapted well, ready to try ideas, a friend to the willing, and courageous in his tasks. Minho followed orders, used his strength and perseverance to run his course, and obviously had a memory of stone, capable of learning and memorizing in a snap. Thomas had his audacity, his willingness to run farther and faster, and his loyalty. And Chuck? Chuck was a bit clumsy, a bit annoying, and scared. He wasn’t quick. He wasn’t quick-witted. He waited for instructions. He lacked leadership capability. He lacked skill; he picked up the trash.

But Chuck was Thomas’ friend when everyone else looked away.

Chuck believed in Thomas from the start.

Chuck believed life could and would be better.

Chuck gave Thomas a reason to want to survive. Chuck inspired Thomas to take the hard steps, because Chuck was worth helping.

Perhaps Chuck’s greatest gift was his humility. His meekness. His simplicity. He didn’t require perfect people and circumstances; he didn’t demand more from others; he didn’t seize attention and commodities. He did his job. He stayed the course. He took courage when necessary.

“Chuck’s pudgy face was there, staring with frightened eyes. But then they lit up and a smile spread across his face. Despite it all, despite the terrible crappiness of it all, Chuck smiled” (298).

So you see, we all need a Chuck. We need a friend who can smile even during the grievances. When the grief comes, where’s your Chuck? Are you Chuck?

Let’s go back to those four definitions of humility:

  1. Modest
  2. Awareness of smallness
  3. Awareness of rank
  4. Courteously respectful

Humility is not simply lacking in pride; humility is not simply thinking less of self. Humility has many layers. Humility has a lot of intention. Modesty protects; smallness realizes bigness of others; rank recognizes there are those above and those below; and courteous respect treats all with dignity. Humility serves the leader in his power so that he sees the significance of each member of his tribe. Humility serves the follower in that he knows his worth.

Charles Darwin was known as a leader in the scientific community of his day; he was the man who made popular the idea of, “survival of the fittest.” The Creators of the Maze must have seen in Chuck the necessary characteristics to inspire warfare and survival. They understood what made humans motivated the most: life and love. They saw in Chuck this ability to befriend and build up, a scarce commodity in times of trouble.

In these days where almost everyone has a platform and the opportunity to make a staunch position, sometimes the best is the calm, quiet one. Being willing to accept that every leader follows another reminds even the smallest of us that the quiet smile serves as inspiration for even the most courageous of hearts. We all need a Chuck at our side in the halls of the maze. We all need a Chuck to follow along. We all need a Chuck to inspire us to lead.

Even if you’re the Thomas, or the Newt, the Minho, Teresa, or even the Gally…everybody can be a Chuck. He’s a gift. A rather scarce commodity. And one of the most valuable of them all.

*** Follow @kadeecarderink on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, to see updates on when this devotional book releases. Each devotional of my selection has application questions for you to dive in to your own maze running abilities

Interview

Hey, Kadee! Thank you so much for those thoughts. And thank you for being back on my blog today. First, I want to ask about the inspiration behind your book series.

The particular book I am offering for a giveaway today is called, “Kingdom Come,” which is a non-fiction inspirational book I wrote almost simultaneously with my fifth science fiction adventure, “Earthshine.”

Through the multi-year process of writing my five-book series, I experienced every emotion a human can endure, and most of them were the dramatic ones – rejection, frustration, depression, the cliché blood, sweat and tears, betrayal, loneliness, and fatigue.

The book industry is a challenging one. As Moriah Peters wrote it, “No one ever told me / This would be easy / But I never knew / That it could be this hard.” So as I found myself stumbling, questioning what I had spent about ten years working toward, I did some seeking. I took several mindset course, spent many hours praying, walking in the sunshine, and “Kingdom Come” is the result of the questions I asked in the darkness.

“Earthshine” tells the story of Saylor getting back up again, while “Kingdom Come” is the guidebook to the mindset we need when we are required to rise from the ashes.

I don’t have all the answers—we each have a unique journey—but I think “Kingdom Come” will serve as a field guide for anyone going through trials of their own. It digs into the lies we tell ourselves, embracing the truth, and deciding to be an overcomer despite all odds.

I love this idea…of a parallel journey almost, between you and your Saylor character. You’re right, this whole writing/publishing/marketing journey is not for the faint of heart.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I worked as an office manager at a church after college. I enjoyed the job but also felt like something was missing as I folded bulletins, placed offering envelopes in chairs, and checking off role sheets.

I started a blog and complained on it A LOT and one of my friends noticed my struggle. She simply told me to read the book, “Walking On Water,” by Madeleine L’Engle. I did, and the book changed how I viewed my life.

I decided to get my Master’s Degree, and when I saw that Creative Writing was an option, it’s like I came awake for the first time. Poetry began to flow out of me, stories began to take shape, and I realized I could do the things my heart ached to do, starting one step at a time.

Now I teach English at Liberty University online, I am a fitness instructor at my local gym, I have written five amazing adventure books, and I write articles for the local school district.

I get to tell stories of underdogs, I get to help others become stronger, and I get to help others communicate better. Words and writing make life sparkle for me; I just had to find the outlets for it that suited me and that required some heartbreak in the process.

I love this story about your journey to where you are now! Can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

I took the photo on the cover of Kingdom Come. My husband and I like to take the week of the Fourth of July to go hiking in the mountains. One year we went and explored Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.

This staircase showed up along a trail, so visitors could view the waterfall from a clear spot, and as the sun meandered through the sky, dwindling over the mountaintops, the peacefulness of it all registered in me. I wanted to remember that moment of adventure, peace, and hope forever. This earth, this life, truly is our kingdom come.

As I worked with editors on the cover choices, looking at stock photos and trying different elements, this photo continually won the choice. It’s a little gritty, it’s authentic, it’s taken from a place of exploration, which captures the heart of “Kingdom Come.”

Thank you again, Kadee, for being on the blog…for your sharing your devotional post and for answering a few of my questions. Now, I’ll let my readers get a look at Kingdom Come and Earthshine!

Kingdom Come

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Opt in for an adventure to discover purpose, tenacity, and to build your empire. Are you stuck? Questioning your purpose? Are you tired, broken, and hurting in the stale crumbs of the daily grind? Even the most ordinary of humans can do impossible things. The elements of storytelling are tools to help us understand our purpose and to build a life greater. Here we discover the three protocols every hero satisfies in order to fulfill the mission. You’re the hero in your own story. Transforming into the hero may be the most difficult thing you’ve ever done, but it will be the best thing you’ve ever done. Within these pages, discover the ultimate objective in understanding and experiencing the combined unity of these three tools in your hero story. Get ready to travel the vast horizon of the hero plot line and forge new paths toward your legacy.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Crucible: a situation of severe trial, or in which different elements interact, leading to the creation of something new (Merriam-Webster.com). What’s your crucible? Are you there?

My kids and I dove into a Bible story the other day, where God rescued his people from Pharaoh’s impending doom. He’d rescued them from slavery in Egypt, and Pharaoh allowed them to leave captivity. The people left, headed home, facing days and nights in the hot desert, following a pillar of fire toward the unknown. They ended up on the sands of the Red Sea, a body of water flowing for miles in both directions. And then Pharaoh and his 600 men and their raging chariots raced to recapture them. The Israelites freaked out then, as I think most of us would. They projected their fear, they cried, they whined. And God replied, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the Israelites to move on. Raise your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea to divide the water so that the Israelites can go through the sea on dry ground” (Exodus 14:15-16).

Essentially, God told Moses to tell the Israelites they couldn’t go over it. They couldn’t go under it. They couldn’t go around it. They had to go through it. And to stop whining.

Just like the classic picture book of “We’re Going On A Bear Hunt,” the adventurers had to face a challenge bigger than they understood.

You, oh incredible wayfarer, will face challenges bigger than yourself and bigger than you understand. It’s the plight of mankind. It’s your job. Don’t ask, “Why isn’t this easier?” Ask instead, “How can this make me better?”

The good thing about these challenges is that they make us into our best selves. Challenges aren’t just part of the story; they’re the story.

Buy Link

Amazon

Earthshine

Fear may be a liar, but hope can be a monster.
Saylor single-handedly saved the world from a devastating solar flare…and it nearly killed her. Now her father’s Alliance Military Guard must track down pirated tech, missing ships, and a rogue billionaire, and they’ve requested a reluctant Saylor’s help.

Tucker spent a year training the rookie Guardsmen. They call themselves Dragons. He calls them defiant. Dispatched across the ocean on a mission to retrieve AMG’s bootlegged tech, he rallies Saylor to overcome her fears and return to the field by his side. 

Working together wielding unprecedented tech and determined to defy their destinies, the two wrangle missing ghosts, brunt force betrayal, and the swagger of power. What lies beneath the earth just might save it.

Standing on top of the world changes a person. So does dying.

Buy Link

Earthshine will be $0.99 from May 31st – June 7th!!!!

Amazon

More About the Author

Fierce yet sparkly, Kadee rallies seekers to thrive in their stories. The goal is magic, the medium is ink, and the fuel is coffee. And sometimes pizza. Kadee teaches English on the university level when she’s not dancing around the living room with her family, lifting heavy at the gym, traveling the planet, or binging superhero shows.

INSURRECTION, INCOMPLETE, INDELIBLE, HERE BE DRAGONS, EARTHSHINE and non-fiction inspirational KINGDOM COME roll out perilous motives, twisty plots, and daring protagonists. Grab some real estate and your copy of my latest adventure and follow along on KadeeCarder.com.

Connect with Kadee and her works

Visit http://www.kadeecarder.com for inspiration, encouragement, freebie codes, and more!

Let’s connect on social media!

Website: kadeecarder.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kadeecarderink/

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And please feel free to subscribe for encouraging blogs! Kadeecarder.com

I’m giving away a free, empowering e-book to those who subscribe to my email list at kadeecarder.com/subscribe. Titled IGNITE, the 60-page book offers a serving of inspiration, a dash of hope, and a cup of grace to help you get kickin’ on those challenging tasks you’ve got to do!

Giveaway

Kadee is offering a print copy of Kingdom Come to one winner (in the continental United States). Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below.

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INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Dana Mentink

I have a fabulous, award-winning author for you to meet today. And is she ever prolific! Author Dana Mentink has joined me today on my blog to share about her release and is offering a giveaway as well as talking about her process! Let’s jump right in…

Welcome to the blog, Dana! First, can you tell us a little about your novel?

Danger on the Ranch is a romantic suspense novel set on the California coast. Hero Mitch Whitehorse is a loner since he put his serial killer brother in prison, but things are about to change when Wade escapes and returns to settle the score.

Whoa…a serial killer brother!? You’ve got this Law & Order enthusiast’s attention. What was the inspiration for Danger on the Ranch?

I read a non fiction book about a woman who was married to a serial killer and had no idea what he was up to. I wondered what kind of impact that would have on a person’s psyche, and how they could triumph over that terrible situation.

I have to say, that thought has crossed my mind, too. But not for long enough to birth a story…I am intrigued!

Tell me, did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

I wanted to be an Olympic ice skater, and a circus clown. Now I am a third grade teacher and a writer, so that wasn’t even close!

Circus clown? That’s different. I loved watching ice skaters when I was young! When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always been a story teller. My fifth grade teacher really encouraged me to write fiction and I’ve been doing it ever since!

I know you know this…The beginning to end of putting a book out into the world is not all fun and games…as with pretty much any occupation, there are things we writers would rather pass off to someone else if we could. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Writing a synopsis is like crawling over glass. It’s just a nasty, ugly process to strip down a story to the bare bones. I usually wind up cleaning out closets and reorganizing the spice cupboard to avoid this job.

It can be a bear! Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Read, read, read. The best writers are passionate readers.

Sound advice…

I usually “set the mood” for my extended writing sessions…music included. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

Not a thing. I need quiet or I can’t get anything on the page.

That seems to be the majority of writers I encounter…

Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

If I can sit in my garden, early in the morning and bang away on the keyboard, I’m a happy camper!

Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

The series follows the men and women who work on or around the Roughwater Ranch. They are unofficial siblings. This was very special to write, as I am also a third grade teacher and I’ve seen so many “unofficial” families that are just as loving and caring as biological families. Our God given capacity to love one another is breathtaking.

What a wonderful thread to hold a series together!

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I write three books a year for Love Inspired Suspense. I also write ebooks for Forget Me Not Romances, and I’m looking forward to clacking away on a mystery series idea.

Fabulous! That is just amazing how prolific you are! Thank you so much, again, for being on the blog and sharing about yourself and your books. Well…I won’t linger too long, I want to give my readers the chance to dive into the featured work, Danger on the Ranch, the excerpt, and the other wonderful things below! So, here goes…

Danger on the Ranch


A Roughwater Ranch Cowboys story

Her child’s life is on the line

After putting his serial killer brother in prison, former US marshal Mitch Whitehorse chooses a solitary country life—until his brother escapes. Now Mitch’s former sister-in-law, Jane Reyes, needs protection…for herself and the toddler she’s kept a secret. Mitch still isn’t sure of Jane’s innocence in his brother’s crimes, but to keep his nephew out of a killer’s grasp, trusting her is his only option.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Storm’s coming.

The illogical notion trickled again through Mitch Whitehorse’s gut as he surveyed the late afternoon fog choking the windswept cove. Strange, since there was no sign of a weather front moving in through the mist. He fingered the scar that grooved his cheek, the rough patch oddly numb, a dead spot courtesy of his brother. The occasional blurred vision and migraines were an additional reminder of how close he’d come to dying at Wade’s hand.

But it wasn’t so much the pain of having his occipital bone crushed or the resulting symptoms that stuck in his mind, it was his brother’s smile. Even when Wade was led from the courtroom after the guilty verdict which would send him to prison for two lifetime sentences, he’d been smiling right at Mitch, a smile of pure evil, cold as the grave, unrepentant, undefeated.

Rosie, the big roan mare, shifted underneath Mitch, probably wondering why they were standing on a bluff in the numbing fog, staring out at the crawling Pacific instead of sheltering from the February wind. They’d spent a full day moving a herd of cattle from one pasture to another and chasing down an ailing cow to administer medicine. Straightening, Mitch ignored the twinge in his back, courtesy of his days as a US Marshal and the fact that he was now a hardworking cowboy staring forty in the face.

Storm’s coming.

There it was again, the warning his instincts kept whispering in spite of what his eyes could see. 

Buy Link

Amazon

More About the Author

Dana Mentink lives in California where the weather is golden and the cheese is divine. Her family includes two teen girls (affectionately nicknamed Yogi and Boo Boo.) Papa Bear is retired from the fire department and he met Dana doing a dinner theater production of The Velveteen Rabbit. Ironically, their parts were husband and wife.

Dana is an American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year finalist for romantic suspense and a two time ACFW Carol Award winner. Her suspense novel, Betrayal in the Badlands, earned a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award. She is honored to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired, Harlequin Heartwarming, and Harvest House Publishers. Besides writing, she busies herself teaching third grade. Mostly, she loves to be home with Papa Bear, Yogi, Boo Boo, a dog with social anxiety problems, a chubby box turtle and a feisty parakeet.

Connect with Dana and her books

Website –danamentink.com

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/danamentink/

Twitter – @DanaMentink

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/authordanamentink/

YouTube – Author Dana Mentink

Instagram – dana_mentink

Giveaway!

Dana is offering a giveaway! She is offering a print copy or ebook of Danger on the Ranch (print in continental U.S. only). Please follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter below to enter:

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INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Sara Jane Jacobs

Welcome back, readers! And I am welcoming back another author for you today as well! Author Sara Jane Jacobs is sharing with us about her upcoming release, Season of Faith. And she has some wonderful extras for us as well! Including a peek at the cover! So, let’s dive in…

Thanks for being on the blog today, Sara! First, can you tell us a little about your upcoming release?

My new release (scheduled for June) brings everyone from the first story, Season of Hope, back to Nathan’s Mountain. What starts as a reunion full of joy and new beginnings will soon turn into tragedy.

We can’t have everything going smoothly, now can we? What was the inspiration for Season of Faith?

Although I was satisfied with the amount of closure at the end of book two, I had readers asking me if there would be a third book in the series. I told everyone that I was starting a new series that focused on Hannah who is mentioned in Season of Deception, as Eric’s former girlfriend. In the back of my mind I was entertaining the idea of something like a special Christmas novella to wrap up the story of Tyler and Amanda. (The story of Hannah had been rolling around in my head since 2006 and I needed to get it out!) In May of last year, I was well into writing that story when a song came on the radio that sort of threw me off track and started me thinking about Tyler and Amanda again. Although I was nearing the completion of Hannah’s Story, by August I completely switched gears because I had become convinced that there was definitely going to be one more Season and it needed to come first. So, that’s when I started on Season of Faith. Now readers will get better closure and I’ll feel like the story has closure as well. That’s the long answer, lol. The short answer is this song:

I like the long answer (and the short answer). I love how the creative mind works!

Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

No. When I was little, I was always fascinated by child actors and was about eleven when I decided that was what I wanted to be. Although I was painfully shy, when I started high school, I ventured out of my comfort zone to audition for plays at our community theater. That eventually led me to writing. To me, writing is like every part of making a movie and I love it!

So fun! I hadn’t thought of it like that, but that’s true.

But as much as we love writing, there are parts that we don’t love as much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

After I type that last sentence and my seemingly endless rounds of editing begin! It can be daunting when you’ve put all that time into getting the story out but you know it’s nowhere near finished.  Once I start working with my editor, I actually enjoy it because of the team work involved. I love reading her reactions and getting her suggestions along with the challenge of rewriting things to make them better. 

Neat. I, too, like getting my editor’s reactions. I love the feedback.

What are you currently reading?

Surrender Bay by Denise Hunter. I’m only on chapter three but this book drew me in quickly. I actually just picked up a copy from the library so my daughter could read it with me! I’m really excited about this book!

It always intrigues me when someone uses that phrase “it drew me in quickly.” I might have to give that a look.

I always set a “mood” when I write…just my process…music is a big part of that. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I mostly have the windows open so I can hear the birds but occasionally I will put on some classical (I can’t write if there are words!) Sometimes I will write a scene that has a song on the radio or in the background. I will pause the writing and start listening to a variety of genres for inspiration. So far, all of my books reference a song or hint at lyrics. Even Hannah’s Story.

I like it. Before I let you go, I have to ask–can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Hmm. Someone very unexpected is going to show up. It even caught me by surprise. This was not planned.

That is by far my favorite thing about writing—the surprise, the unexpected things that happen as the story unfolds for me, much like it will for my readers! Love it!

Thanks for being here with us, Sara. I’ve enjoyed our interview. But I don’t want to delay getting the readers to the details of your book and the fabulous excerpt below. So, here you go….

Season of Faith

Enjoy an Excerpt

Excerpt from Season of Faith.  Tyler and Amanda have just been talking about where they’ll go after they get married . . .

“Sounds perfect.” She welcomed his lips as they brushed across hers. His strong hands caressed her shoulders before wrapping around her. Nuzzling his neck as her cheek rested against his shoulder, she caught the faint scent of his cologne. This time she picked up on the notes of oakmoss, Brazilian rosewood, and juniper. Feeling like they had just made a small step toward reconnecting, now seemed like the right time to bring up her plans to return to modeling. “And since we’re not really sure when that is going to be, I’m thinking seriously about going back to New York.”

“Oh. Like, to visit?”

She lifted her head to monitor his reaction. “Um, I was thinking more like to live . . .  and model.”

His embrace loosened slowly and then it was gone as he released her.  Moving hands to hips, a puzzled look clouded his face, followed by a shake of his head. Dropping his gaze to the dusty floor, it seemed as if he was searching for a way to handle her announcement.

“Why?” was the only word that came out as he lifted his eyes back to hers.

She caught a glimpse of the slight twitch in his square jaw. Why did this have to be so hard? He had to know how much she loved him. And she knew he loved her. Yet emotionally, it felt like there was a canyon between them most of the time. How were they supposed to get across it and stay close without his deployments pulling them apart again and again? She’d eventually figure it out but while she was experimenting with different coping methods, she knew staying busy was what would work for her right now. 

“Because, I go a little crazy when you leave on deployments and I barely get to communicate with you. And I feel like I need a life besides the one where I’m constantly thinking about when I’ll be able to talk to you again.”

“Do you not want to do this?”

“Do what?”

“Get married?”

She threw her arms out to the side and let them drop as her words came out with a mix of anger and frustration. “Here we go again with that question! You haven’t exactly asked me to marry you yet!”

Tyler barely let a second pass before he reacted. “You know, what? You should go to New York. Go get your life back.”

Amanda froze. She lowered her jaw, and a tiny puff of air escaped her lungs with a muted, “Ha.” She was way too stubborn to let him see her cry right now. “That’s it, huh?” She nodded and her eyes locked with his. Their bright blue color had the power to melt her heart again and again. But not this time. “Okay, then.” The words came out with a quiet but fierce determination. With a single shake of her head, she stormed past him, secretly hating the fact that he didn’t stop her this time. Her determined strides had her out of the barn, across the stretch of pasture and almost to the house in just under a minute.

“Did you find him?” Her father stopped rocking as Amanda raced up the steps.

 Amanda pulled the screen door ajar, her voice trembling as she continued to hold back her tears. “No. The only person out in the barn is a stranger. I have no idea where Tyler is.” Rushing inside, she let the door close with its familiar squeak of the spring, followed by the slapping sound of wood on wood. As Amanda hurried through the den, her mother’s laughter echoed from the kitchen, fading behind her as she ran up the stairs to hide inside her old room.

A sob caught in her throat at the sudden memory of her last time in here; changing out of wet clothes after a playful fight out in the yard with Tyler over the water hose. Lowering herself onto the bed, she let the tears come as her head fell across the blue and yellow floral pillow sham. Rolling over on her side, her body shook with the cries she fought to keep silent.

Buy Links

Season of Hope FREE DOWNLOAD – HERE **MAY 3rd is the LAST DAY**

Season of Deception BUY HERE

Season of Faith – COMING SOON

More About the Author

Sara Jane Jacobs is an author of contemporary romance who makes her home in Pensacola, Florida. Her summer vacations in her father’s hometown of Franklin, North Carolina were the inspiration behind her first novel, Season of Hope. A few of the adventures of her characters on the fictitious Nathan’s Mountain outside of Bryson City give us a glimpse into some of her cherished childhood memories. While Jane loves the Florida sunshine and Pensacola’s sugar-white sand beaches, the Great Smoky Mountains hold a special place in her heart. She’s a mom to two, Nonni to four and shares her home with a family of felines.

Connect with Sara and her books

Website – https://sarajanejacobs.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/sarajanejacobsauthor

Twitter – https://twitter.com/sarajanejacobs

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/jacobsjanesara

Instagram – https://instagram.com/authorsarajanejacobs

GIVEAWAY!

Since Season of Hope is still be free for download today, Sara is offering to one (1) winner, the second book in the series – Season of Deception – as an ebook. Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below to enter:

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INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Brett Armstrong

Hello, readers…coming to you a bit later in the day. I have a returning author for you to “meet” again. Author Brett Armstrong is here, sharing about his newest release. And a special treat, he has some hand-drawn images of this world he has built narratively AND a giveaway! So, I won’t keep you from the post, but let you have at it:

Thanks, Brett, for being on the blog today! Can you first tell us a little about your new release?

It’s the first entry in a saga that revolves around two characters, Jason and Anargen, who live centuries from one another. Jason has a dark past he’s trying to escape and accidentally stumbles on an inn where the owner is telling a story about Anargen. Jason’s world is an early 20th Century society so they regard the stories from Anargen’s early 17th Century world as fables. But as he listens to the storyteller, he notices the teller himself doesn’t seem crazy. Or like he questions the reality of what he’s saying. Jason gets pulled into the very quest Anargen was on centuries before and their efforts to fulfill this quest span the length of the Quest of Fire series, gradually weaving together and building off one another.

ORIGINAL ARTWORK FROM AUTHOR BRETT ARMSTRONG: Ecthel Honorguardsman, tasked with protecting the Viceroy of Ecthelowall on the eve of a historic peace accord. Intensely loyal, they stick by their ruler no matter the cost to themselves or those in their way.

Wow! Just fascinating. What was the inspiration for THE GATHERING DARK?

This book had a kind of fun start. It began as an assignment in my high school creative writing class. We were told to write a three to five-page fairy tale retelling. My teacher was really accommodating for me, so what I wrote was a twenty-seven-page fusion of my favorite parts of Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Chronicles of Narnia. I’ve re-written over and over and over since then. It looks very different, thankfully, from back then. The inspirations, still carry through, along with Biblical influences. I got the idea for swords that burn without being consumed from the account of Moses and the burning bush, for instance.

And this is why I so like your work…creative, imaginative, and has those recognizable Biblical influences.

Now, we know that the writing process is not all rainbows and sunshine. There are things we don’t all love so much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Everything after release. Tolkien said it rightly when he released Lord of the Rings: “I am dreading the publication, for it will be impossible not to mind what is said. I have exposed my heart to be shot at.” It’s kind of nerve-wracking waiting to see whether people will love what you’ve written the way you did. Writing is like trekking through the mountains for me. During the writing I discover things much like a reader would. I’m also not much of a salesman, so getting the word out about my books isn’t my strong suit either.

So much agree with this. I discover with my characters and readers as I write. And I am not the promoter I could be either.

Here’ s a question for curiosity’s sake…what are you currently reading?

I’m in between reads, but I’m planning to start Jason Joyner’s Launch soon, which is a Christian superhero novel. I’ve been following him as an author and after all the excitement over Avengers: Endgame, I kind of wanted a little more superhero storytelling in my life.

Interesting….I am on a kick to watch all the Marvel superhero movies right now myself leading up to this weekend, when my husband and I will finally watch Endgame. It’s been interesting, this intense movie-watching of one genre…

Now, as my readers, know, I usually “set a mood” when I write with music and whatnot. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

All different kinds. Classical, movie scores and soundtracks, Christian hymns and contemporary music, select classic and alternative rock, etc. While writing this I really like the sound of the Hunger Games: Sounds From District 12 and Beyond. There’s a lot of folk music in it with that Appalachian sound to it. Which having grown up in Appalachia seems like an obvious choice though it was more for the tonal quality. I feel like even when it’s a happy song, Appalachian music has a kind of somber almost melancholy edge to it. That tenuous balance between tragedy and triumph fits well with a lot of The Gathering Dark. I also really like TobyMac’s Move and Beyond Me for thematic reasons as well.

Neat. I typically do a lot of instrumental soundtracks and had my go-to mix. But recently have made a new mix for each book based on historical time/place.

What about your writing “atmosphere”? Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

My favorite time isn’t really a specific time of day, its’ that first instant when an idea hits me. Like really hits me and I can’t stop imagining how this bit of a scene or dialogue or sometimes whole chapters play out. I’ve never quite had writer’s block, but normal writing compared moments like those are almost like writer’s block by comparison. They can hit me anytime, anywhere. So long as I have the means to write everything down, that place and that time are my favorites.

How long does it take you to write a book?

It varies pretty wildly. I’ve written books in a few months, others I’ve refined for years. The Gathering Dark took about fourteen years from the first time I wrote about Anargen to holding all 424 pages in my hands. I believe God works everything out in His timing, and with books sometimes there is some essential element of what a book could be that is lacking when you first type “The End.” It’s kind of like making pottery. Every time you hit “The End” again after the first is like the clay spinning around and around, being shaped, reshaped, and ever so subtly adjusted till at last you have something more than the sum all it was composed from. I feel like that might be an “artsy” type answer, but writing is art. And craft. And a journey for reader and writer. Above all, it’s a phenomenal privilege, whether it takes a couple months or a decade and more.

It really is a journey…each time. Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I keep a page with some select projects in the works on my website: https://brettarmstrong.net/works-in-progress/. I will say that in addition to those listed there, I’m closing in on finishing edits to my dystopian/sci-fi novel, Day Moon. I’m pretty excited for that because it’s the first time I’ve had expectations from readers. People ask when I’m going to be done with it and that’s a pretty great feeling. Even if it’s also terrifying, because I don’t want to let anyone down. For the record though, I think Veiled Sun is pretty special and works a lot like Empire Strikes Back for my Tomorrow’s Edge Trilogy.

Nice! Well, I appreciate you coming back on the blog and sharing more about your work and especially opening up about your newest release. I won’t ramble on here though, I bet my readers are eager to jump into the details and the excerpt!

Quest of Fire: The Gathering Dark

Jason is an expert at running from his past. When it catches up, he finds himself hiding in a peculiar inn listening to a tale from centuries past.

The story is Anargen’s, a teen who is pulled from all he loves to follow his oaths of loyalty to the fabled King of the Realms. Together with his mentor, Cinaed, he rides north on a special quest to mediate peace talks between ancient foes—the men of Ecthelowall and the dwarfs of Ordumair. Nothing goes as planned. Many on both sides of the dispute despise Anargen’s Order. Worse, an arcane evil has returned to the North. This “Grey Scourge” seeks to ruin the peace talks and ensure a lost treasure held by the dwarfs is never found by those for whom it is meant.

As Anargen’s story unfolds, Jason begins to wonder whether it is truly just a fable. He soon finds himself drawn into the conflict Anargen faced—a battle which has shaped and can destroy his world.

Enjoy an Excerpt

As much as Quest of Fire is epic fantasy and has adventure and action, I think this scene was among the most fun to write. There are layers of things going on here in both Anargen and his mentor Cinaed, with the backstory for Cinaed appearing in a novella that will release soon. It also inspired the song that became the theme music for the whole book (you can hear the melody in the trailer: https://www.youtube.com/embed/t3KEBnl7E80?rel=0).

Anargen ducked a low hanging tree limb. As he passed under it, he felt its gnarled branches rake over his back like fingers through hair. Spurring his horse on a little faster, he worked his way past the offending tree. Rain continued to fall on the stand of trees in a steady downpour. It was as though the Knights were walking through curtains of rain suspended before them rather than it simply falling from the sky.

After days journeying across a rolling plain of tall, verdant grasses, Anargen should have been glad for this forest. It was, after all, far more evocative of the home he’d left behind. Before entering it, however, the wind took on a boisterous bluster, buffeting them as if trying to push them back to the coast. Then came the rains, which persisted ever since. Today marked a full day of rain. A full day of rain in a wood lacking most of the beauty to which Anargen was accustomed. This stand of spindly ironwoods and other gangly trees was bereft of most of its leaves already. Coarse bushes and thorny vines filled out the spaces and complicated the passage. The scent of multi-flora rose was heavy here, almost sickly sweet.

Somewhere in the distance a limb broke loose and crashed with a muted cry to the ground below. Anargen wanted to spur his horse on faster, but the forest passage was too narrow.

At the head of a single file column, Sir Cinaed cut the path. Into the dark, he trilled the notes of a song.

“Will you be home, will our wait ever end?

What friend may we seek, for our hearts’ rends?”

Cinaed’s voice was clear and mellifluous, the best Anargen had ever heard. But the song was about a family waiting for a father who would never come home. It was the saddest song Walhonde’s mountains ever bore.

“When all our journeys’ ways mend,

Will you be home again?

Will you be home again?”

The songs words pierced between the plates of Anargen’s armor. Passing his mail coat unopposed to strike his heart. Memories of a fire, warm and low in his home’s hearth beset him. His father’s laughter as he told familiar stories with fresh mirth. Mother cooking a savory stew from the autumn garden gleanings.

Then there was something new to the scene. Seren’s smile. Her hand soft and sure in his own as they sat by the fire. It was no longer memory but a longing. Hiraeth. Cinaed’s song was more than words now, it was in his very bones.

Anargen shook his head and refocused his thoughts on where he was. In the unfamiliar wood, dark and cold, riding to the unknown. The storm masked the sky and only the luminance of their armor afforded any light.

Amidst the sea of dreariness, the rain drops sticking to their armor did not extinguish the faint flames. As the drops slid down, they glowed. Ahead, Sir Cinaed looked like a body of earthbound stars gliding through the ebon night.

Of a sudden, the song and stellar migration halted, hovering in wait. Sir Cinaed had reached a wider point in the path. The sound of rain striking the softened soil was like the roar of a small waterfall. Over it, Sir Cinaed boomed, “We’re only a mile or so from a village. We’ll stay there the night and head out tomorrow. Pair up so you don’t get lost, the path becomes rather winding soon.”

Buy Links

Amazon – ebook

Amazon – print

Barnes & Noble

More About the Author

Brett Armstrong has been exploring other worlds as a writer since age nine. Years later, he still writes, but now invites others along on his excursions. He’s shown readers hauntingly sorrowful historical fiction (Destitutio Quod Remissio), scary-real dystopian sci-fi (Day Moon), and dark, sweeping epic fantasy (Quest of Fire – April 2019). Where he heads next is as much a discovery for him as readers. Through dark, despair, light, joy, and everything in between, the end is always meant to leave his fellow literary explorers with wonder and hope.

Connect with Brett and his books

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/brettarmstrongwv

Twitter – https://www.twitter.com/BArmstrongWV

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/BrettArmstrongAuthor

Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/ChristianKid044

Website – https://BrettArmstrong.net

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8281587.Brett_Armstrong

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/embed/t3KEBnl7E80?rel=0

GIVEAWAY

Brett is offering one copy of the Kindle version of Quest of Fire: The Gathering Dark one winner. Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

INTERVIEW & SPOTLIGHT: Author Amy R. Anguish

Welcome, all, to another edition of the blog and another fabulous author for you to meet–author Amy R. Anguish. Amy writes clean contemporary romance. I met her through the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Romance Genre Facebook page, which I continue to enjoy networking and learning through. But enough of that…let’s meet Amy!

Welcome to the blog, Amy! First, can you tell us a little about your novel? 

I got the idea for this book at a time when my sister and I didn’t see eye-to-eye. I’m sure most siblings go through years like that, even after they’re grown. We’re much closer now, but the idea was still there.

What would happen if two sisters who didn’t along were forced to spend a summer together? Would it push their relationship to the limits? Would it bring them closer together?

I let this idea stew for several years, before I realized it paired well with another idea that had been simmering in the back of my brain about a girl who has finally overcome her infertility struggle. Faith, the older sister in my book, is that girl. The younger sister has other issues – mainly trying to figure out what she really wants to do with her life now that she’s lost her dream job. And, of course, there’s a bit of romance, too. 😊

Intriguing…my sister and I did go through this period as well. And now she is one of my best friends!

My readers already know this about me: I definitely set the mood when I write…I have my coffee, my instrumental music…you know? What about you? What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I’ve heard that you’ll always prefer the music you grew up with to any other kind that comes along later. That’s probably why I listen to a lot of 90s pop when I write. Although I do branch out and listen to some of what my parents grew up with sometimes (ABBA, the Monkees, the Carpenters, etc) or every now and then I throw in my Glenn Miller CD.

Sweet! I grew up on my dad’s favorite music–the Beatles!

What about your writing “atmosphere”? Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

I don’t know if it’s my favorite time of day, but the time of day I can actually find a quiet moment to write is usually early afternoon. That’s when my kids are napping. I have a comfy chair that rocks a bit and is beside the window and the fireplace with stacks of papers and books around that I can never keep cleaned up.

Kids napping–I know that’s right! Mine are just now starting school. My last one will start this next Fall. Having them home has been a joy, but it does limit your writing time 🙂

How long does it take you to write a book?

Amazingly enough, most of my books were written (first draft) in 30 days. I participate in Nanowrimo every year, and the goal is 50,000 words or more in 30 days. I think I’ve only ever written one manuscript outside of that.

That’s cool! I have done a few manuscripts during Nanowrimo, but not all. That’s a really interesting factoid!

Can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

This book is set in central Texas, a place my husband and I lived for five years. Even though we love where we live now in Tennessee, there are a lot of things about that area that we miss. Right now, I’m missing the bluebonnets.

Aw…I’m a Tennessee girl myself. Born and raised. Lived in Central Florida for a few years, then moved back to really settle down. Can’t say I miss the palm trees though…

Before I let you go, I have to ask…do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I’ve got one manuscript on the back burner, waiting to see if it gets accepted by the publisher I’ve submitted it to. It’s about a girl who tries to adopt a baby who is the only other survivor in a wreck she’s in. I’m also re-writing another manuscript written ages ago that had good bones, but lousy everything else. It’s about a widow who is trying not to fall in love with her husband’s best friend.

What an interesting concept! Hope you have success developing those. Editing and re-writing can be so much harder than writing that first draft.

Thanks again for being on the blog…for sharing about your process and your release. And now, readers, without further ado…I release you to experience this peek at Faith and Hope!

Faith and Hope

Two sisters. One summer. Multiple problems.

Younger sister Hope has lost her job, her car, and her boyfriend all in one day. Her well-laid plans for life have gone sideways, as has her hope in God.

Older sister Faith is finally getting her dream-come-true after years of struggles and prayers. But when her mom talks her into letting Hope move in for the summer, will the stress turn her dream into a nightmare? Is her faith in God strong enough to handle everything?

For two sisters who haven’t gotten along in years, this summer together could be a disaster … or it could lead them to a closer relationship with each other and God. Can they overcome all life is throwing at them? Or is this going to destroy their relationship for good?

Enjoy an Excerpt

“In all honesty, I really thought this meeting might have been to say I was going to get a raise next year.” Hope Cook gave a little chuckle. Anything was better than bursting into tears in front of her boss, even if it was faking laughter.

“Trust me, Hope. If I could have done that, you would be at the top of my list.” Mr. Smith straightened some papers. “Unfortunately, the school board has spoken. The team has to have another coach.”

“I know.” Hope half-heartedly held up a fist. “Go Buckley!”

“If anything changes at all, I’ll let you know.”

Hope couldn’t help but slump her shoulders as she opened the doors to rain. Evidently, the weather was in the same mood she was. She stepped out from under the overhang … and directly into a puddle.

Laid off.

Wet clothes.

Soaked feet.

She listed every bad thing the afternoon had wrought thus far as she squished her way through the parking lot.

“You have got to be kidding me.” The umbrella doused her with another shower as she fought to close it. She tossed the miscreant tool into her backseat and slammed the door.

She took a moment to lay her head on the steering wheel and give in to her depression. “Why, God? Why give me my dream job only to take it away?”

A clap of thunder sounded. She lifted her head and hands.

“Okay, okay. Sorry. But I don’t understand.”

She shook her head. Was she really arguing with God? Obviously, she needed to go home and rest.

Buy Link

Amazon

More About the Author

Amy R Anguish grew up a preacher’s kid, and in spite of having lived in seven different states that are all south of the Mason Dixon line, she is not a football fan. Currently, she resides in Tennessee with her husband, daughter, and son, and usually a bossy cat or two. Amy has an English degree from Freed-Hardeman University that she intends to use to glorify God, and she wants her stories to show that while Christians face real struggles, it can still work out for good.

Connect with Amy and her books

Follow her at http://abitofanguish.weebly.com or http://www.facebook.com/amyanguishauthor

INTERVIEW & SPOTLIGHT: Author Diane E. Tatum

Hello, Readers! A special Wednesday edition for you of Author Spotlight! Today I have an author who writes clean romance – both contemporary AND historical! Author Diane E. Tatum has a new release that is the second book in a three part series set in early American history. And I am just itching to get my hands on it. But let me introduce you to Diane and get this interview going…

Welcome, Diane! First, can you tell us a little about your novel?

Michael Browning was the first child of Amanda and Colin in Book 1. His parents have died when he was 19, leaving four siblings who needed his care. A blacksmith like his father, Michael has run the forge and supported and cared for his siblings. When his Uncle Ben died, Michael feels left alone with no hope for a life of his own now that his siblings are grown and gone. Like Beauty and the Beast, he became bitter, striking out at those around him, particularly the beautiful new pastor’s daughter Susannah who encouraged his youngest sister to elope and has promised to care for him. In the days before the War of 1812, Michael and Susannah find they have A Time to Love.

Interesting storyline…and take on Beauty and the Beast. Care to share the more historically significant events behind A Tie to Love?

Michael’s brother Theo is impressed into the British Navy. Michael postpones his and Susannah’s wedding to find Theo and bring him home before he is murdered.

Quite a twist! What was the inspiration for A Time to Love?                      

I wrote book 3 before the others because the Civil War is so integral to the American experience. Clearly Book 1 was about the American Revolution. Being an intergenerational story, I needed to write Michael’s story, and the historical setting had to be prior to the War of 1812. Having been born during the Battle at Bunker Hill, Michael’s age is older than the average to be married and having a family. His bitterness at not having that experience due to his parents’ early death reminded me of the Beast in Beauty and the Beast. So I brought a beauty to help him shed the curse of bitterness.

Fabulous! I love how the writer’s mind has to work like this. And I love even more that I’m not the only one!

Did you always want to be a writer?

I always wanted to write, but I was also pragmatic. I studied Accounting for my first degree, then married and had 2 sons. When they entered high school, I went back to college to get a Masters of Teaching – Language Arts and a teacher certification.

Finally, my husband asked me to retire from teaching and “come home to write your stories.” Gold Earrings is my first novel. I began it as a short story when I was in high school.

How wonderful to have such a supportive and encouraging husband! I have one at home, too. We are blessed for certain.

But not everything about writing is roses and sunshine, as you well know. Some things would be great to “farm out” if we could. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Marketing and finding a publisher

I know for most of us our first love was reading, and most of what we learn is intuitively picked up from reading other authors, or from research, or from reading books on the craft of writing. What about you? What are you currently reading?

The Black Prince: England’s Greatest Medieval Warrior  by Michael Jones

This is research for a contemporary romance set in Oxford, England, called Oxford Fairy Tale.

Love it! I generally have to “set the mood” when I write. I love instrumental music of some connection to what I’m writing. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I don’t listen to any particular music while writing, but I do have themes for each of my novels, should anyone want to produce them for Hallmark!

What about your writing environment? Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

I’m an adjunct English professor teaching Composition 1 & 2 in the dual enrollment program for our local community college at our local high school from 7-8:15 AM Fall and Spring semesters. I love being able to come home by 8:30 and still have the whole day to write. Mornings are my best times.

Sounds like a nice segue. Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

A Time to Choose, Book 3 of Colonial Dream. The latest novel of the Browning family as they navigate the Civil War.

Kudzu Sculptures, a Main Street Mystery, Book 1

Dorie Hudson moves to Daelin, GA, to be an investigative journalist who discovers a murder and works to solve it with her fiancé Ross MacAvoy.

How exciting. I, too, have to have multiple projects going at one time.

Thanks again, Diane, for your time and for visiting. I appreciate you sharing about your process and your works as well. Now, I’ll not delay, but let my readers dive into A Time to Love!

A Time to Love


Michael Browning, a child of the American Revolution, becomes surrogate father for his four siblings after the early death of his parents. His Uncle Ben has also died, leaving the pulpit empty in the church he started after the war. Bitterness has overcome Michael as each of his siblings finds love with only his youngest sister, Louisa, remaining at home. When the new pastor and his daughter, Susannah, take over the rectory adjacent to the Browning home, he cannot accept Reverend Hawthorne as a substitute for his Uncle Ben. When Louisa falls in love with Susannah’s cousin Theo, Susannah encourages Louisa to elope and offers to serve Michael in her stead. Susannah enjoys matchmaking and sets out to find a match for Michael.
When Michael’s brother Isaiah is taken by the British Navy, Michael must leave his bride before the wedding to find and save his brother as the country begins a new war with Britain.

Can the beauty tame the beast and his bitterness to create a new relationship based on trust and love?
How will a second war for Independence from Britain affect their love?

Enjoy a Video

CLICK FOR VIDEO LINK

Enjoy an Excerpt

Chapter 1

A Time to Elope

Warwick Village, VA, 1810

After a hard day at the forge, Michael Browning entered the kitchen. The aroma of the mouth-watering stew emitted from the iron pot hanging over the fire. His sister Louisa was known throughout the village for her stew. He began eating as soon as she served him.

“Wonderful stew, as always.”

Louisa nodded, then bowed her head in prayer.

Michael had no use for religion since Uncle Ben died. A new pastor filled Ben’s pulpit and parsonage. He couldn’t abide that.                 

When she looked up, he asked, “What issues fill your prayers, Louisa?”

She stretched out her hand to cover his enormous one.

“A ring?” Michael jumped up from the table. “What does this mean?”

“Theodore asked me to marry him. I said yes.”

“Without consulting me nor asking for my approval? I am the head of this household. In lieu of Papa, he should have asked me for your hand.” Michael sat back down, but he shook. He softened his tone. “Do you love him, baby sister? Has he found a home here then?”

Louisa came to him and knelt beside him. She turned her blue eyes up to meet his. “I love him with an everlasting love, Michael. But he’s returning to Baltimore tonight. Talks with the British are failing, creating political disruption in the District of Columbia. He feels he needs to return now.”

Michael kissed her forehead and tucked loose strands of her blonde hair behind her ear. He remembered the first time he’d had to braid her fine hair after Mama died. “When does he plan to return for this wedding?”

Louisa’s eyes were bright with unshed tears. “The wedding is tonight. Please give us your blessing and come with me to the church.”

“Tonight?” Michael’s voice sounded louder than he intended. “Were you going to tell me this at all? No, I forbid you to leave with Theodore James tonight, or any night. You’ve not posted banns at church. He has not asked me for your hand!

Tears flowed down Louisa’s blushed cheeks. “You must let me go sometime.”

“I forbid it. I cannot run the forge and the household without you.” Only then did Michael notice her bag by the door, packed and ready to go. Why hadn’t he noticed it before now?

Buy Link

Amazon

More About the Author

Diane Tatum grew up in St. Louis, MO. She started writing her own stories in elementary school. Her first novel grew out of a short story she wrote in high school. College was a detour to a Bachelor’s degree in Accounting and Business Administration and later a Masters in Teaching Language Arts. Between degrees, she stayed home raising her boys and began writing again. She started freelance writing for magazines and church Sunday school curriculum. She also finished her novel, Gold Earrings.

After teaching middle school language arts in Tullahoma City Schools for 11 years, she retired with her husband’s encouragement to write the historical fiction books that she had been starting and saving on her computer. Gold Earrings was published in 2011. She completed her second novel, A Time to Choose, in 2012, and finished her third, Colonial Dream, in 2013. In addition she serves as an adjunct English professor at Motlow State Community College.

Diane has taught and worked with youth at her church for 38 years. Her Bible study Guide and Resource Book are meant to help youth workers create new Bible studies to use with their youth groups.

If interested in these youth materials, you can find them by clicking HEREfor Bible Study Materials and HERE for Resources

Connect with Diane and her works

www.dianeetatumwriter.com

Facebook:

Diane Elaine Tatum

Diane E. Tatum (author page)

Gold Earrings (book page)

Twitter: @DianeTatum

Instagram: tatumlight

Check out some of Diane’s other works

Buy Link: Amazon
Buy Link: Amazon
Buy Link: Amazon

INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Kathleen Neely

Hello, readers. I am welcoming back to the blog an author who visited a couple of months ago – author Kathleen Neely. She has a new release to share and a giveaway opportunity! So, let’s tune in with Kathleen and find out what she’s got for us today.

Welcome back, Kathleen! Can you tell us a little about your newest release?

Beauty for Ashes is a story about living with guilt, recognizing its far-reaching consequences, and seeking redemption. Novelist Nathan Drummond carries a secret for ten years, one that gripped him with panic attacks at the thought of it being revealed. Vowing to never forget the cost of his sinful folly, he journals. With his fear of discovery, he burns each journal entry, keeping the ashes hidden in a jar.

When he’s forced to move back to his hometown, Nathan comes face to face with his past. He begins to write a novel that parallels the events of ten years ago. He begins to see the cost of his sin and realizes it will cost him the only woman that he’s ever loved. 

Beauty for Ashes blurb:

Nathan Drummond’s actions at the age of eighteen had devastating consequences. Writing became therapeutic, leading him into a successful career as a mystery writer. With seven novels to his credit, Nathan is rapidly becoming a household name. 

Family responsibilities force him to return to his home town , pushing him too close to painful memories. Although he’d intended the living situation to be temporary, Nathan didn’t count on falling in love. 

As guilt threatens a return of panic attacks, Nathan begins to write a novel paralleling the tragic event from his youthful folly. Will the novel be seen as a work of fiction, or will it expose his secret? 

Wow. I’m interest in piqued. What was the inspiration for Beauty for Ashes?

I read Water from My Heart, a novel by Charles Martin, one of my favorite authors. When I finished that remarkable novel, I knew that I wanted to write something with a similar theme, living with guilt, seeing its far-reaching effects, and seeking redemption. My novel is a different story, different plot, setting, and characters, but the over-arching theme is the same.

I do like this theme – one of my favorite tropes.

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

I think that characterization is one of the most important elements of writing a novel. Authors need to dig deep down inside their characters, show what drives them, how they think and feel. I recently read a novel that gripped me. When I finished, I realized the simplicity of the plot. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t a deeply orchestrated story line. I lived it through the well-written characters.  

James Scott Bell writes about this quite a bit. He believes the plot should be simple enough to explain in a couple of sentences and simple enough for most anyone to grasp. It truly is the characters that set it apart and, in the end, drive the story. Great advice!

Do you have a favorite time of day to write What about a favorite place?

Writing a book takes a long time. For me, it’s the better part of a year. It’s important to be comfortable. I like natural light. When the house is empty and quiet, I move from my office to the kitchen table, right beside a big double window. That’s where I work best. When I can’t claim that spot, I hide away in my office. My desk is beside a window, but light is more hampered by trees and my Camellia bush.

I like this perspective – “writing a book takes a long time…it’s important to be comfortable…” I don’t often put that much thought into my writing sessions. But I will from now on.

Can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Readers will encounter an urban ministry, details about basketball and the NBA, dyslexia, and classical violin.

Nathan finds himself volunteering at an urban afterschool center working with teens. He tutors and mentors a dyslexic teen. They share a love for basketball.

Angie, an employee at the center, plays classical violin. I had the assistance of a first chair violinist from a major symphony orchestra as part of my research.

That’s quite a bit! Great tidbits!

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I’m doing on a story about a mother’s love. After a teenage pregnancy, she gave her baby up. Twelve years later, she has another chance to be part of his life. Until the unthinkable happens. That’s all you get. Sorry. No spoiler alert.

Thank you so much for your time, Kathleen, and for sharing about your process. Now, readers, let’s dive intoBeauty for Ashes !

Beauty for Ashes

Enjoy an ExcerptE

Nathan picked up their sandwiches at the counter while Angie found a booth. He slid in to join her. They made small talk, avoiding the obvious conversation. The question hung heavy. Did they have a chance at a relationship? Nathan found his heart and his brain at war with each other, knowing his brain would win. It felt like a knife to his heart. How ironic. He had saved a woman from her knife wounds but couldn’t stop his own from bleeding. 

Angie dabbed at her mouth. “Carlos probably won’t be returning to the center. His Aunt Rosa told me she plans to take them to live with her. She has two children and was frightened to do it when his father was a threat. If his mother agrees, they will move in with them.” 

Nathan finished his sandwich and pushed his plate to the side. “I hope he doesn’t have to go back to the house for anything, even after they clean it up. It would be way too traumatic.”

When they finished their sandwiches, they stood and walked toward the door. Angie reached for Nathan’s hand, turning her eyes toward him. Coffee brown with fringed lashes, flecked with light. The eyes that he froze on his TV screen. Could he really walk away from her?  “Is your car still at the center? Shall I take you there or home?” he asked.

“Yes, it’s there, but I’m weary. Would you just take me home? I’ll ride in with Elizabeth in the morning.” 

Nathan turned onto her street and parked in front of her house. “Is Elizabeth home?”

“No.” Angie raised her eyebrows with a slight smile. “She’s with her friend.”

Nathan opened his car door. She stopped him. “I’m fine, Nathan.”  He ignored her and walked around to open her car door. Angie walked beside him, fishing her keys out of her pocket. When they reached the door, he took the key from her and unlocked the front door.  They entered in the darkness until Angie reached the light. “I never expected to be this late or I’d have left lights on.”

Nathan glanced up toward the porch. “You should have motion-detector lights here. OK if I check your house out? Your dad would want me to.”

“Yes, worrywart.” But pleasure glowed from her eyes. “Shall I make us some tea?” 

He should check the house and leave. There was no good that could come from spending any more time with her. After a prolonged pause, he nodded. “Sure.” As Nathan did a quick walk-through, another irony hit him like a boulder. He was walking through Ramón Garcia’s home. This is where he’d lived, laughed, loved his wife, raised his daughter. And now, ten years later, the man who killed him walked through his home. Nathan returned to the kitchen. 

“No monsters under the beds?” Angie teased as she reached the mugs. 

“Nope. All clear.” Only me.  They carried their mugs to the living room. He should have chosen the chair, but Angie sat on the sofa and looked up at him with those doe eyes. None of this was her fault. They had started something, and he owed her more than a brush off. He sat beside her and placed the steaming mug on a coaster before moving an arm behind her.  “Angie, it was wrong for me to kiss you. Wrong to care for you as much as I do. There’s no possibility of a future for us. I know you don’t understand the reasons, but please trust me on this.” 

“Why don’t you just tell me the reasons? How can I trust you when I don’t know? You said it’s something in your past, but I don’t care about your past. I care about the man sitting here with me today.”

“You can say that because you don’t know everything about me. If you did, you’d probably hate me.” 

She raised her hand and laid a curved palm against his cheek. “I could never hate you, mi amor.” 

Mi amor, my love. It was Nathan’s undoing. He pulled her close and held her as he had done at the crime scene. Only now, she was the strong one, and he needed a place of respite. Her hands went around his neck, buried in his hair as she cradled his head against her. Her lips touched his cheek, and he turned to meet them. The kiss deepened, leaving him breathless.  “Oh, Angie,” he whispered against her. 

She stepped back and tilted her head so she could see his face. Her eyes twinkled. “Nathan, here’s the wonderful thing. You have a mysterious secret in your past, but that is past. You say we cannot have a future together, but the future’s not here. Today is not the past or the future. It’s the present, so it’s our time together.”

Her words brought a curve to the sides of his mouth. “Yes, it is. But what does that make tomorrow? Isn’t that the future?”

“Yes, but here’s the beauty. When it arrives, it will then be the present.”

He suppressed a chuckle. “And next week?”

“It’s also the future that will soon become the present.”

He allowed the smile to grow. “Angie, Angie. Always the optimist. Are you ever a skeptic?”

“Not if I can help it. What good does it do? We can choose sorrow or joy. I choose joy.”

He leaned in and kissed her again.  She held her face inches from his. “Nathan, do I make you happy?”

He rested his forehead against hers. Had he ever really been happy before Angie? He’d had accomplishments that pleased him. He had enjoyment playing basketball. But those were temporary— superficial feelings that didn’t touch the heart. Angie awakened something deeper that had been missing. “More than anyone ever has.”

“Then choose joy, mi amor. Choose joy.”

Buy Link

Amazon

More About the Author

Kathleen Neely resides in Greenville, SC with her husband, two cats, and one dog. She is a retired elementary principal, and enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading.

She is the author of The Street Singer and Beauty for Ashes. A third novel, The Least of These, will be released in May, 2019. Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFW-VA for her short story “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance”. Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her novel, The Least of These, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through Almost an Author. She has numerous devotions published through Christian Devotions.

Kathleen continues to speak to students about writing and publication processes. She is a member of Association of Christian Fiction Writers.

Connect with Kathleen and her books

Website – www.KathleenNeely.com

Facebook – www.facebook.com/kathy.neely.98

Twitter – https://twitter.com/NeelyKneely3628

GIVEAWAY

Kathleen is offering a digital copy of Beauty for Ashes to one (1) winner, chosen by Rafflecopter. Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Candice Sue Patterson

Hello, readers! I am pleased to introduce you to author Candice Sue Patterson today. I met Candice through the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) Romance Genre Facebook group page. I’ve mentioned how much I appreciate these networking, assisting, and encouraging opportunities afforded to us through this organization. At any rate, let’s meet Candice!

Thanks for being on my blog today, Candice! First, can you tell us a little about your novel?

How to Stir a Baker’s Heart is a contemporary romance set in coastal Maine. It’s book two in my Cadence of Acadia series. They’re written as standalone novels, so book two can be read without reading book one first. Here is the back cover description of the novel:

Certified mental health therapist Olivia Hudson has spiraled into a dark depression her own training can’t pull her out of. Since Olivia can’t return to her practice when she can’t even help herself, she moves to Stone Harbor, Maine, to heal and help her dementia-ridden grandmother run her once-famous bakery.

Blake Hartford is living his dream of farming blueberries and restoring a Victorian farmhouse on his coastal property, while his beloved community withers away under a rocky economy. Blake joins the town board to help revamp things and boost the much-needed tourism that can turn his community around. 

After a misunderstanding with the bakery owner’s granddaughter and the town board’s suggestion they lead the tourism project together, life in Stone Harbor gets a little bit sweeter. But when the truth of Olivia’s past comes to light, Blake is forced to confront his own. 

How to Stir a Baker’s Heart is a story of healing and forgiveness, proving God can mend our brokenness and soften even the hardest of hearts.

This seems particularly interesting to me. I have experienced postpartum depression after each of my three children’s births. I feel depression is just now coming out “into the light” and being understood at large. We as a society are fighting the stigma and being more open. I hope that your book is only one of many that increases others’ understanding. So, thank you.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

I’ve wanted to write books since I was old enough to hold them. They’ve always held a fascination for me. I always wanted to be a librarian, too. It drove my mom crazy when I would “stamp” the inside covers of my books, pretending to be a librarian. When we passed those books along years later, the covers were full of black ink. I’m blessed to be living both dreams now.

Fun! My grandfather always said “find something you love, then find someone who will pay pay you to do that.”

What are you currently reading?

Tamera Alexander’s With This Pledge. She’s one of my favorite historical romance authors. Her attention to detail, and the complex, moving way she writes her characters amazes me every time.

I, too, am a Tamera Alexander fan. I am just starting to make my way through her books. Looking forward toWith This Pledge myself.

What about your writing environment? What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I don’t listen to music, but I listen to sounds to immerse me in the setting. For example, my Cadence of Acadia series is set in coastal Maine, so I would listen to ocean waves while writing. Sometimes I’ll even light a candle for inspiration. If I’m writing a Christmas novella, I’ll light a balsam and cedar candle to help set the mood.

Interesting. Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

Yes! My favorite time of day to write is in the morning after my quiet time with God until around noon. My mind is most clear and active during these hours, and I get more accomplished. Unfortunately, I can’t utilize that time slot often, unless it’s a long break from school or summer break (I’m an elementary librarian), so I mostly write after work or on lunch breaks.

We do what we can, right? How long does it take you to write a book?

If I’m able to write consistently every day, a novella will take me about three to four months (that’s from first draft to critique partners, another polish, and then to the editor). A full-length novel will take me eight to ten months.

One last question before I let you go…can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb?

Several things in the novel were real-life experiences I had when I visited Maine in 2011. For example, there’s a scene where the hero takes the heroine to a shoreline off the beaten path to hunt for heart-shaped rocks. She’s so busy looking that she’s not paying attention to the fact high tide is beginning and large waves are heading her way, and she gets soaked in icy water. I’ll never forget how cold that water was.

There’s another scene where they stumble upon a group of seals sunbathing in a cove. This will always be one of my favorite memories from that trip.

I love those authentic moments that are breathed into the story!

Thanks again, Candice, for taking the time to share about your release and your process a little bit. I won’t keep my readers waiting any longer…I’ll let them dig into your fabulous cover and excerpt. But read on, there’s something fun at the end.

How to Stir a Baker’s Heart

Enjoy an Excerpt

Here is the first page of the novel:

For Olivia Hudson, starting over was like trying to bake an award-winning pie out

of olives and sauerkraut. No matter what ingredients she added to balance the flavors or how she arranged them, it wouldn’t work. Life was not a beach or a box of chocolates. Though chocolate did help.

The delectable, fudgy scent of her triple layer chocolate cake stirred Olivia’s senses as she stretched across the bakery counter and placed a fresh slice in front of her favorite customer. In the four months Olivia had lived in Stone Harbor, Maine, she’d formed an attachment to Arianne Anderson. The sugar-craving bridal boutique owner had an honest, down-to-earth personality Olivia found refreshing.

“Thanks.” Arianne lifted her fork as though it weighed a hundred pounds.

“Vanilla latte?” Olivia picked up a disposable cup and started the process, already knowing Arianne’s answer.

“With a shot of espresso.”

“Wow, someone’s had a rough day.”

Arianne stared at the thick brown frosting in a daze, sighed, and swallowed her first bite. Her eyelids fluttered closed, and her shoulders relaxed.

Olivia chuckled. All would be well in Arianne’s world now—at least until the plate was empty.

“It’s hot.” Olivia placed the latte in front of her friend then leaned her elbows on the counter and clasped her hands, her lower back grateful for the reprieve. “What’s got you down?”

Arianne’s dark blue eyes pooled with tears. She swallowed and tucked a strand of curly blonde hair behind her ear. “I….” Arianne glanced down at the cake. “I’m cheating on my husband.”

Olivia straightened.

A tear dropped onto the granite countertop. Arianne swiped away the dampness on her cheeks and sighed. “Two evenings a week for the past three months, I’ve had things to catch up on at work,”—she made air quotes over the last word—“when really I’ve been driving twenty miles to escape my husband and indulge in the sinful ecstasy of your baking.”

The tight band around Olivia’s throat eased. “There isn’t another man?”

Arianne shook her head. “No. But the way I lust after this cake when I’m with Huck is adultery.”

Relief almost swept Olivia’s legs out from under her. She threw a wadded napkin at her friend, satisfied when it made contact with Arianne’s nose. “You scared me.”

More tears. Now that Arianne’s faucet was running, there was no turning it off.

Olivia checked the time on the tea-stained clock with a cupcake from an old Victorian postcard decoupaged to the face. Close enough. She locked the front door and flipped the sign to Closed. “What’s got you running?”

Buy Link

Amazon

More About the Author

Candice Sue Patterson studied at the Institute of Children’s Literature and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three sons in a restored farmhouse overtaken by books. When she’s not tending to her chickens, watching her kids play sports, or helping children discover a love for reading as an elementary librarian, she’s working on a new story. Candice writes Modern Vintage Romance—where the past and present collide with faith. She is represented by Linda S. Glaz of Hartline Literary Agency.

Connect with Candice and her books

Readers can always find me on Facebook at: https://m.facebook.com/Candice-Sue-Patterson-Author-420360958035447/

My website is also a great place to contact me: www.candicesuepatterson.com

I LOVE  to hear from readers!

GIVEAWAY

Candice is offering an ebook copy of her novel How to Charm a Beekeeper’s Heart to one winner, chosen by Rafflecopter. Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway