INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Toni Shiloh

Hey, all! I have another author for you all to meet today! This is an author I met through Pure Romance Reads, a group of clean Romance writers that help created a place where readers can find clean romance and talk about clean romance on the Facebook page: Pure Romance Reads. I am just as excited as anyone to hear more about her work and dive deeper into her process. As a writer, I feel I can (and should) never stop learning. So, here’s Toni…

Thanks for being on the blog today, Toni. Many of my readers wonder about writers and how we chose this career path…or, for many of us, how it chose us.

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

Love this question! It took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to be when I grew up. I had different ideas of what that would look like from being a cop, lawyer, interior designer, librarian, and bookstore owner (although that still sounds awesome).

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

The first time would probably be when I took a creative writing class while getting my bachelor’s degree. I had thoughts about it beforehand, but taking that class made it feel like an obtainable possibility.

Alas…you, too, were bitten by the bug! No regrets though, right? Except that there is inevitably something about the writing/publication process that every writer doesn’t care for so much. What part do you dread?

Editing! I love writing the first draft and sometimes even rereading it to polish it. But I dread editing and editing and editing. By the time I’m done editing, I don’t want to read the book any more, lol.

I agree. You get tired of those characters making the same bad choices. Or worse, you get to be like “who wrote this”!?!

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

Read other authors. Figure out what it is about the book that hooked you and then do it in your unique way. Figure out what you didn’t like and avoid that.

I see that. I agree that we pick up a lot intuitively from reading other authors. On that note…what are you currently reading?

While riding a stationary bike in the morning I read Vilette by Charlotte Bronte. For a book club I’m reading Tammy L. Gray’s Until I Knew Myself.

I always have to “set the mood” for my writing…especially when I’m feeling a little blocked. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I love listening to music while I write. I usually try to create a playlist that speaks to what the characters are going through. Usually a mix between contemporary Christian, country, pop, and Indie.

I ask this for sheer curiosity sake from a reader’s perspective. Just one of those “I wonder…” things. How long does it take you to write a book?

It took me three months to write the first draft of Finally Accepted. I would say that’s pretty standard for most of my books unless their a novella or short novel. If that’s the case I probably only need a month or two for the first draft.

Thanks again for being on the blog, Toni, and for sharing with us about your process and letting us “peek behind the curtain” for a moment. Readers, I’ll turn you over to the details about Toni’s Finally Accepted as well as the giveaway below. Happy Reading!

Finally Accepted

 

There’s only one thing Chloe Smith has ever wanted: family. Yet the DNA results she’s received have thrown her life into a tailspin. Her utmost desire has ended up being the catalyst for shaking her faith. She doesn’t even know who she is anymore, and she’s certainly too messed up for her longtime crush to give her more than a second glance.

Darryl Jones is struggling between his past and the grace God so freely offers. His sins feel too big for him to handle, let alone expect the woman of his dreams to accept. Chloe is the only woman he’s ever wanted and the one he doesn’t deserve.

As they form a tentative relationship and examine their faith, Chloe and Darryl ache to know they are finally accepted and fully loved.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“Grandma, why is my skin different than yours?” Chloe stared at her arms. They weren’t white like the color in the crayon box, but they weren’t dark brown like her grandma’s.

“Because God made us in all different colors. It’s a way for us to remember our uniqueness and how special we are to Him.”

It sounded good, but… “I want to be the same color as you.”

“Why?”

She frowned. Her grandma always asked a lot of questions. “So I can be Black.” She wasn’t sure why people called her grandmother black. She didn’t look like the color but maybe they never heard of dark brown. The kids in her class said she wasn’t Black even though her grandma was. It really didn’t make any sense to her.

“Well, baby, I’m Black and your mama is Black…”

“So I’m Black?” It came out more a question than a statement as her mind tried to wrap around her grandma’s words. Chloe sat up straight. She didn’t know what her dad looked like and right now that didn’t matter.

My mom is Black. Grandma is Black. “I’m Black,” she whispered.

“And loved by God, no matter how light or dark your skin is. Remember that, baby, okay?”

“I will.”

Buy Links

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2wblC2C
B&N: https://bit.ly/2PgZKeT
Kobo: https://bit.ly/2MsahVP
iTunes: https://apple.co/2MPyHpq
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41150978-finally-accepted

More About the Author

Toni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian contemporary romance author. Once she understood the powerful saving grace, thanks to the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior. She writes to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

She spends her days hanging out with her husband and their two boys. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and president of the Virginia Chapter.

You can find her on her website at http://tonishiloh.wordpress.com.

Connect with Toni and Her Books

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authortonishiloh
Twitter: www.twitter.com/tonishilohwrite
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/tonishiloh
Instagram: www.instagram.com/tonishiloh
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/tonishiloh
BookBub: www.bookbub.com/authors/toni-shiloh
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/cmNFKD
Blogs I’m part of: http://puttingonthenew.com ; http://heartwingsblog.com ; http://diversitybetweenthepages.wordpress.com

GIVEAWAY!!

Toni is offering, to one winner, an ebook copy of Finally Accepted. Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: Author Rachel Magee

Hello, readers, I know it’s been a little bit since you’ve heard from me. There’s be a LOT happening in my personal life and it has been hectic. How timely author Rachel Magee’s post is! She’s with us today talking about how to add reading into our back-to-school routines. And, as much as I haven’t been able to fit my normal routine in, reading has not been something I’ve been enjoying lately either. But she has excellent advice. AND she is offering a giveaway! AND telling us about her book Happily Ever Afters! So, this post today, my friends, is full of fun things for you. So, I’ll stop rambling and let you get to it…

Four Ways to Add Reading to Your Back-to-School Routine

by Rachel Magee

Four Ways to Add Reading to Your Back-to-School Routine

It’s back to school season. That time of year when every store is teeming with freshly sharpened pencils and brand-spanking-new backpacks. The air is electrified with the excitement of new beginnings. And whether you’re headed back yourself, sending your little darlings out the door each morning, or simply having to adjust your daily commute to deal with the school zone traffic, this is a great time to rethink daily routine, making healthy choices a priority. But is reading one of those priorities?

Reading has tons of benefits for every age group. Studies have proven spending more time reading or being read to can increase vocabulary, is directly linked to doing well in school, lessens stress and makes you more productive at work. Plus, it’s enjoyable. Who doesn’t love curling up with a good book? But in our busy lives, finding time to carve out for reading can be tricky. So here are four easy ways to add more book time to your daily schedule.

  1. Read to your kids before bedtime, even the big ones.

Many parents do this when their kids are little, but do you continue when they get into elementary school, junior high or even high school? Making this part of your daily routine, even if it’s only ten or fifteen minutes before lights-out can be a great thing for both of you. Besides all the benefits of reading before bed (helps you sleep, reduces anxiety, sharpens mental focus) it can also give you a chance to connect with your child. Have your kid choose books he/she likes or pick titles they have to read for school. It’s a great way to learn what your child like as well as spark discussion. You might even try throwing in a favorite book from when you were their age. Your kids, especially the big ones, might find you have more in common than they thought.

  1. Read out loud to your spouse.

I know several couples who have celebrated decades together who have always made this part of their daily routine. Sharing a book with your significant other can create intimacy and keep you connected. At first, choose a book you will both enjoy and take turns reading out loud. As you get more in the rhythm of this routine, take turns picking titles from genres each of you enjoy. This will deepen your understanding and appreciation of each other as well as expose you to books you might not have chosen on you own.

  1. Listen to audio books on your commute.

We all spend time in the car, and with audio books so widely available, this is an easy way to incorporate more reading time into your day. Even a ten minute commute is enough time to listen to several pages, if not a whole chapter of a book. Do you carpool? Perfect! You now have your very own book club. Driving kids to soccer practice and piano lessons? This is a great time to read a book together as a family. For some added discussion, stop the book from time to time and ask thought-provoking questions. You might learn something new about the people you drive with every day.

  1. Make waiting time reading time.

Whether we want to or not, we spend a lot of time waiting. Waiting for an appointment, waiting in carline, waiting to see the doctor or while you get your oil changed. And let’s be honest, most of us waste that time staring at social media. Why not make this time your reading time? Keep an ebook on your phone just for these occasions. Not only will it make the wait go faster, you’ll be doing something good for yourself at the same time.

So what do you think? Are you ready to make reading part of your daily back-to-school schedule? I’d love to hear from you! Comment below and let us know when you’re reading this fall and who you’re reading with

Thanks for that wonderful post, Rachel. Now, if I can nab you for a couple of questions, I’d love for you to tell us a little about your novel.

Happily Ever Afters came to me when I was on vacation with a group of my girlfriends. It is a love story, but at its core it’s a story about friendship, resilience, and learning to love after loss.

I also have a new book coming out next month based on one of the characters in Happily Ever Afters. This new book is a lot of fun and I’m really excited about it, but I’m not releasing any details until next week. If you want a sneak peek now, you have to head to my website: RachelMageeBooks.com

I love those kinds of sequels–ones that are not necessarily a cliff-hanger, but give us more of the story in that “world”.  What are you currently reading?

The titles on the stack of books next to my bed may change, but the composition pretty much stays the same. There is a devotional, a non fiction book about some topic I want to learn about (right now it’s writing) and, of course, a novel with a happy ending.

Rachel, thank you so much for being on the blog today, sharing your thoughts and giving us some practical ways to enjoy reading even as our schedules get a bit more hectic. And now, readers, we’ll turn more toward Rachel’s book, Happily Ever Afters and get a closer look.

Happily Ever Afters

Lainey Stratton does not fall in love with strangers she meets on vacation. It simply doesn’t make sense. So when Lainey meets Carter Thompson on the first day of her Caribbean vacation, she knows it could never amount to anything more than a crush. At the end of the vacation she will return to Dallas, and he will return to DC, and that will be the end of it. Well, unless he wants to join her at a friend’s destination wedding, which would be considered vacation too, right?

But when an unexpected tragedy sends Lainey’s world spiraling out of control, she realizes her vacation crush might be the only one who can help her pick up the pieces of her shattered life. That is, as long as she can get out of the way of her own happiness. And as long as Carter’s past doesn’t catch up with him before she gets a chance.

Enjoy an Excerpt

I found myself face-to-face with a long, slender fish that had to be close to three feet long. His shiny stainless steel scales looked tough, and his eyes seemed to fix on me as he glided through the water with confidence. I inched back, but he continued straight for me. His lips curled up, and he flashed a smile revealing two ominous rows of razor sharp teeth. I’ve seen pictures of the majestic barracuda before and admired their sleek beauty, but seeing one up close and personal made me want to pee my pants.

I scrambled to the side, out of his direct path, hoping he would continue on to wherever it was he seemed so intent on going. But the fish altered his trajectory, his menacing smile widening as he came right at me. The realization that I was his intended destination shivered through me.

Let the record show that in the battle of Lainey versus the fish, the fish won. I conceded. I screamed, a muffled sound that shot out my snorkel, and turned for the boat’s platform. Grabbing the ladder, I pulled myself out of the water and struggled to tuck my finned feet up to the highest rung. The fish sauntered under me, pausing to cast one last menacing glance my direction.

“Holy fish!” I breathed out, spitting the snorkel from my mouth. A chuckle came from above me.

“They might be scarier than sharks.” Carter sat casually on the end of the platform with his feet dangling in the water, his fins and mask propped next to him.

“I wasn’t expecting him.” I climbed all the way out of the ocean and onto the boat. Scanning the water to find Kara and Reece, I located them midway over the reef, seemingly unaware of my absence. I slunk down next to Carter and pulled my knees into my chest. Until my shiny friend was long gone, I wasn’t willing to dip anything into the water. I slid my mask off and wiped the salt water from my face.

“What are you doing up here and not out there?” I asked.

“Watching a hardcore chick take on an unusually large barracuda.”

“Yeah, thanks for the help.”

“I never doubted your ability to take him.” A playful half smile lit his face.

“I did. Did you see those teeth?” I shivered thinking about it. “He was not my favorite fish of the day.”

“You going back out?”

I peered over the side and searched the water below. “Still trying to make up my mind. You?”

“Same. I’m enjoying the solitude of the moment.” Carter stared serenely out at the sparkling water before us.

“Is that a hint for me to dive in?”

“No,” he said, his blue eyes meeting mine. “Stay.”

Buy Link

Amazon

Also on Kindle Unlimited

More About the Author

Rachel wrote her first novel when she was twelve and entered it into a contest for young author/illustrators. Unfortunately, the judges weren’t impressed with her stick figures. So she dropped the dream of becoming a world famous illustrator and stuck to spinning stories. When she’s not busy working on her latest book, she loves to travel with her family and friends. By far, her favorite destination is the beach, which tends to work its way into most of her stories. Between vacations, you can find her at home in The Woodlands, TX with her wonderful husband, their two adventurous kids and a couple of spirited pets, all of whom share Rachel’s love of the ocean. Well, except the cat and dog. They’re both afraid of water. Find out more about what Rachel has been up to at rachelmageebooks.com.

Connect with Rachel and Her works

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rachelmageeauthor

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/rachell_magee

Google +:  https://plus.google.com/u/2/100755997821645118769

GIVEAWAY!!!

Rachel is offering a $10 amazon gift card for one winner!! The winner will be chosen from among the comments on this blog post. We will close the contest September 5, 2018 at 11:59 pm. You can find the comment button most often at the top of the blog post. You can react to the post in your own words or answer this question:

How do you find time to read in the busyness of the school year?

INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Sara Jane Jacobs

Welcome, everyone! I have another author to introduce to you today. I met Author Sara Jane Jacobs through Clean Reads, our common publishing company. But Sara and I are also connected through Pure Romance Reads, a small collection of authors who write clean romance. You can find more information about this group on our website: pureromancereads.com or on our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pureromancereads/

But I would love you to meet Sara and get a feel for her process and her work. So, without further ado, here’s Sara:

Hello, Sara! Thanks for being on the blog. First, can you tell us a little about your novel.

Here’s the blurb:

“I’m deploying.”

The words slam into me with an unseen force that robs me of my next breath. Tyler has been my best friend for the last ten years, and we never keep secrets from each other. Well, except that one. The big one. The one where I’m in love with him. And now that he’s deploying as a Navy SEAL, only one thought consumes me: What if I never get the chance to tell him?

But I think Tyler keeps a similar secret of his own. Sometimes I’m sure I see it in his eyes. And then it’s gone.

With his impending deployment, we’re both warring in an inner struggle that threatens our undoing. Throw in my controlling, matching-making aunt and our secret love might never get the chance it deserves.

Or will it?

What a great blurb! I’m drawn in already!

Did you always want to be a writer?

No.

What did you want to be when you were a child?

I wanted to be an actress, although I was very shy! But that didn’t keep me from auditioning for plays whenever I had the opportunity.

So fun! I did, too! But, while I enjoyed being on the stage, my parents encouraged my love of science and medicine.

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

When I was working at an insurance company just out of high school. There was a guy who worked in the mail room who was a script writer (his goal was to write for a soap opera). I had this idea that maybe I could create a character for one of my favorite TV shows, so I started to experiment. After I left that job and got married, I decided to try writing a script for a movie. I sent it off to a few places but didn’t pursue it any further. A few years later, a friend suggested I turn my story into a book.

It’s very interesting what paths lead people into writing. But one thing that I find we all have in common is a love of reading and stories. And that never seems to die.

What are you currently reading?

I am currently reading If Not for You by Debbie Macomber. It’s my first Debbie Macomber book. I am loving it!

I have heard so many good things about her. That makes one more. I need to add this to my TBR pile.

Now, I am always curious about other writers’ processes and writing environments. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I usually don’t listen to music, especially if I’m able to open the windows and listen to the birds. But occasionally I will turn on classical. I can’t listen to music with words when I’m writing. But during short breaks I might listen to a song for inspiration. It will usually be something my current character enjoys or something that inspires me about the story.

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

Early in the morning is my favorite time to write. That way I have a better chance of reaching my word count goal (which can take anywhere from three to four hours). I usually write on my desktop but my favorite place to write is outside.

I am trying to nail down a good balance of marketing and writing and mothering and housekeeping. Though I’ve been doing this for a few years now, things are constantly changing and I am still looking for a good balance.

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

I’m currently working on the third and final book in the series (although there will be at least one spin-off!)

Thanks so much again, Sara, for being on the blog. I have enjoyed talking with you. Now, I’ll turn this over to my readers so they can learn more about Season of Hope.

Season of Hope

Video Trailer

Enjoy an Excerpt

To set this up, Tyler and Phoebe (Amanda’s controlling aunt who doesn’t like Tyler) have just had a huge argument during dinner bringing the evening to an abrupt end . . .

A heavy cloud of silence hung in the room. Amanda looked as if the roof had just caved in. Her eyes met Tyler’s, finding a hint of remorse there before he lowered his gaze and disappeared down the hall.

Ten minutes had passed before he slipped into the kitchen, trying in his own way to make amends. Amanda was so lost in her thoughts that she didn’t notice him behind her, until he grabbed a dish towel and reached for the pan she had just washed. He stood next to her, and she could feel him glance her way.

“AJ, dinner was fabulous.”

She turned a blank face to him, then went back to washing dishes. “It was certainly an evening to remember,” she said without emotion.

“Listen,” he continued, “I am sorry. I know she’s your aunt, but—AJ, she is putting her ambitions ahead of your well-being! I couldn’t just stand by and let that happen!”

“Tyler, I know you meant well.” Her voice remained low and controlled, but her anger came through loud and clear. “But you and Phoebe are both forgetting that I can think for myself. I want your advice because I trust you. And I’ve let Phoebe have as much control as she has because I trust her. I realize that she has been taking every offer that we can possibly fit onto my calendar, but right now I need that. I need to stay busy.”

“Why, AJ? Why do you feel like you need to stay busy?” he pressed.

She avoided his gaze, sensing there would be a probing look in his eyes. Her focus stayed on the task of dishwashing as she answered his question. “Because I miss home and the life we left behind. And what might have been if you and I had both stayed on Nathan’s Mountain.”

An inner cringe ran through her over her last comment. The last thing she wanted was for Tyler to know of her feelings for him. Right now it was clear to her that the timing was all wrong for them. The country was at war, and it was just a matter of time before he was deployed. A year ago she was still living in her bubble on Nathan’s Mountain, not knowing what it would mean for Tyler to become a Navy SEAL. Now she understood all too well.

“If you miss home, why don’t you just go back?”

She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “What? The BUD/S graduate wants me to quit? Give up and go home?”

“I want you to be happy.” There was a fierceness in his tone. He took a moment to gain control of his emotions. His voice was calm as he repeated the words. “I want you to be happy.”

Amanda could feel months of pent up frustration rising to the surface as she rinsed the last pan and yanked the stopper from the sink. “Happy, Tyler? Where is the happy in all of this?” she asked, drying her hands and tossing the dish towel on the counter. “Where is the happy in knowing the danger you will be in once you’re deployed? Home can’t fix this, Tyler. Nothing can fix this.” Amanda tried not to burst into tears as she hurried from the kitchen.

A Special Treat – another Video Trailer (for The Visitor)

More About the Author

Sara Jane Jacobs lives life Corem Deo along the Emerald Coast of Florida. She’s a mom to two, a nonni to three and a cat wrangler to four. A morning enthusiast, she loves the outdoors and open windows, even in the middle of summer.

She dabbled in writing for thirty years before deciding to send her work to a publisher in 2016. Her first book, Season of Hope was published in March of 2017. Book two, Season of Deception, followed in August of the same year. The two stories were originally written as one manuscript (Season of Deception) but she was forced to divide them in order to align with submission guidelines and that’s how Season of Hope was born!

Connect with Sara and her books

website: https://www.sarajanejacobs.com/

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

instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorsarajanejacobs/

GIVEAWAY!

A copy of Season of Hope. Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below.

**Continental United States only.**

a Rafflecopter giveaway

REVIEW, INTERVIEW, & GIVEAWAY: Kelly Goshorn’s “A Love Restored”

Review

A Love Restored by Kelly Goshorn is a story about the things we tell ourselves, the truth that goes beyond that, and the affect that can have on our ability to love others. It is a lovely story about a romance that is sweet at first, but gains real depth and dimension as you dive in further. The well-crafted writing skills of the author make for an enjoyable and easy read. You can see the mountains, feel your own heart beat quicken with Ruth Ann’s, and even smell the pie.

The characters are well developed and, like the romance, they all have depth to them. And there were all the feels. For sure.

One of the things I loved about this novel was that the main female character is not your “typical” size. She’s got curves. And she struggles for the way society looks upon her (as would be expected during this period for the described amount of plumpness she possesses). This led to some insecurity issues and challenges loving herself, but in no way did the author demean or mishandle the situation historically or for anyone reading that has experiences such inner and outward struggles. To the contrary, I felt Goshorn elevated this situation and showed that this type of heroine is appropriate and belongs.

I absolutely enjoyed this story and look forward to reading what comes next from Goshorn.

5 STARS!

Interview

Hey, Kelly! It’s great to have you on the blog. I so very much enjoyed the book. But for my readers who haven’t read it, can you give us an overview of the book?

From the back cover: She was nothing like the woman he’d envisioned for his bride, but he was everything she’d ever dreamed of—until a promise from his past threatened their future.

With pert opinions and a less-than-perfect figure, Ruth Ann Sutton doesn’t measure up to society’s vision of a perfect lady. When she accepts a position teaching in a Freedman’s School, it threatens the only marriage offer Ruth Ann is likely to receive. She’s forced to choose between life as a lonely spinster or reinventing herself to secure a respectable proposal.

Determined to rise above his meager beginnings, Benjamin Coulter’s reputation as a fast learner and hard worker earn him the opportunity to apprentice with a surveyor for the railroad—a position that will garner the respect of other men. After a chance encounter with Ruth Ann Sutton, Benjamin is smitten with her pretty face, quick wit, and feisty personality.

When others ridicule his choice, will Benjamin listen to his heart or put ambition first?

You had mentioned something to me about your inspiration for A Love Restored that I found very interesting. Care to share it with my readers?

A Love Restored is based on my real-life love story with my husband, Mike—all of our ups and downs, including our emotionally devastating break up. When I first began writing, I tinkered with a story about Irish mail-order brides (the whole mail-order bride thing just fascinates me). Hubby read it, told me it “wasn’t bad,” then suggested I write our story. Skeptical, I questioned him. “Are you sure. I mean you don’t look so good in that story for a long time.” He grinned and responded, “Yeah, but I think it turned out all right.” I’d have to agree. We celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary in mid-June.

I loved so many things about this. And there were definitely times in the story (knowing ahead of time that it was inspired by your own romance), that I wondered which details were based on real life and which were fictionalized.

How much of your heroine’s journey mirrors your own?

Like my full-figured heroine, Ruth Ann, I’ve struggled with weight issues my entire life. That struggle plays an important part in our story. I’ve had cruel things said about my appearance. Oftentimes by people who were supposed to love me. But their insensitive words failed in comparison to the ugly way I spoke to myself. I’d become so defined by the negative comments and opinions of those surrounding me, I no longer saw anything to esteem. I’d allowed my self-worth to be determined by a yardstick that measured my value according to the size of my waist or the flatness of my stomach, always coming up short. My own journey to self-acceptance, as well as what a loving God will do to grab a stubborn woman’s attention, are pivotal to the story line.

And, as you saw in my review, was one of my favorite things about this book! I loved seeing a heroine that wasn’t so typical, yet was handled appropriately to the period and still affirmed the value of women of all sizes.

You mentioned that your husband “doesn’t look so good” in the story for a long time. What were the highlights and challenges of telling your husband’s journey through your hero, Benjamin Coulter?

Showing readers what a jewel my husband, Mike, is was definitely the highlight. Like my husband, Benjamin makes Ruth Ann laugh, holds her accountable to herself and is very generous with his time and talents. He is extremely intelligent, and like my husband, Benjamin woos Ruth Ann with his guitar and teases her about my not-so-stellar singing voice.

Like my hero, Mike also struggled with his pride and let vows, words he’d spoken over himself, dictate his choices. Benjamin’s journey is about finding the courage to challenge society’s idea of what success and beauty look like as well as trusting God’s plan for his life. I found it challenging to write his character, who struggles to come to terms with Ruth Ann’s fuller-figure, without making him look shallow.

I hope readers will find him to be strong, good-hearted character struggling with a very human flaw who looks to God and scripture for guidance and healing.

Now, as much as the story rings true for you and your husband, there are pieces that speak to history. Care to share the more historically significant events behind your story?

Since the story is based on my life, it was a natural choice to make my heroine a teacher as well. While researching the post-Civil War history of my town and the county as a whole, I began reading about the life of the freed slaves in the area and the Freedman’s Schools to educate them. I discovered that Fannie Wood, a white woman from Middleboro, Massachusetts, came to the area to teach in one of the newly authorized Freedman’s Bureau schools in the nearby town of Warrenton.

But in Reconstruction Era Virginia, Miss Wood’s tenure would not be without opposition from those who did not want the freed slaves educated. A Warrenton newspaper, The True Index, printed the first paragraph of a threatening letter sent to Miss Wood: “We the young men of this town think you are a disgrace to decent society and therefore wish you to leave this town before the first of March and if you don’t there will be violence used to make you comply to this request.”

That threatening note became the inspiration for my secondary storyline in A Love Restored.

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

Truthfully, I never saw it coming! I had always enjoyed writing papers for my college history classes, but I NEVER considered writing fiction. I’d been a successful in-home childcare provider for nearly twenty years, but I knew in my heart it was time to move on to something new.

My husband and I began praying for God to give me a new direction, a new passion in my life I would undeniably know He’d planted in my heart. On a whim, I began tinkering with storytelling and it didn’t take long for my secret hobby to become my God-given passion!

Though our hearts long to write, there’s always that part of the process we don’t care for so much. What is it for you?

Filling up the blank page. Ugh. Sometimes it is a real slugfest to fill up that empty page and get the draft written. I much prefer the editing process. Taking those rough words and polishing them until they shine is the part I enjoy the most.

Everyone is so different. I’d much rather fill that blank page than edit any day! How fun!

We are also always learning from others – conference, books on the craft of writing, workshops, critique groups…even when we are reading. What about you? What are you currently reading?

I just finished a wonderful retelling of the book of Hosea, Hosea’s Heart, by Linda Wood Rondeau. Next up: I’m torn between The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jamie Jo Wright and More Than Meets the Eye by Karen Witemeyer. I tend toward historical fiction/romance but also want to read Unbreakable by Ruth Buchanan that looks laugh-out-loud funny and I just picked up Once Upon A Laugh (a collection of contemporary novellas) and am itching to read that as well. Perhaps your readers can help me decide?

I wonder if they can. I may have some willing to give it a go!

My readers all know by now that I have to set the mood for my writing–music definitely included. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

When I’m writing I usually listen to classical or big band music. Nothing with words or I begin singing along and lose track of my storyline. LOL! I do have a playlist for my current series that I listen to when mowing the lawn or driving to keep me connected with the story. Those songs are a mix of country and contemporary Christian music.

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

After living most of my life as a night owl, I’ve become an early morning person! Gasp! I usually roll out of bed around 5am, make a cup of tea, have some quiet time with the Lord and get to it. I usually have my modest word count goal of 1K/day made by 7-7:30 am. As far as a favorite place to write, not one in particular. Have laptop will travel. LOL! I’m downstairs in the early morning so hubby can sleep, but later in the morning when editing or working on other writing related tasks I can be found in the leather recliner, on the back porch when the weather permits or at my local coffee shop indulging in a chai tea latte.

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

A Love Restored is not only a story of love, romance, heartache and restoration, but also a story about the power of words over our lives. It is a story about the struggle each of us faces to take our thoughts captive to the truth of Scripture so we may experience the fullness of God’s unequivocal love for us. As Benjamin and Ruth Ann discover, it is only then that we are truly able to give and receive love, unconditionally.

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

I’m very excited about the series I’m working on now, Surrendered Hearts. Set in Civil War Virginia, the series examines what happens when God calls us to surrender those things we hold most dear. Characters are called to sacrifice their dreams and ambitions, their pride, and ultimately their hearts as God recklessly pursues each of them. Hearts and wills are challenged, and lives transformed as characters experience restoration with one another and with God. If readers are interested in learning more, the can visit the Surrendered Hearts page on my website.

Thank you, Kelly for being on the blog today. It has been wonderful to chat with you and delve into some of the things behind the book and behind your process a little bit. Now, I must give the blog over to my readers so they can explore the novel for themselves!

A Love Restored

Enjoy an Excerpt

Loudoun County, Virginia

August 1873

Benjamin Coulter cringed as the shrill tune hung in the air. That woman sure knew how to ruin a Sunday afternoon. Sounded like something was dying and needed to be put out of its misery.

He shook his head. All he wanted to do was rest a while longer. His decision to go around his headstrong superior and talk to Mr. Farrell directly about his boss’s inaccurate measurements had made for a nerve wracking week. That decision could have cost him his job. Thankfully, his discovery had been received well, saving the struggling railroad both time and money.

Benjamin leaned against the sycamore tree and tossed his line into the creek. A slight hint of remorse nicked his conscience. He now sat poised to guide the construction of the Washington & Ohio Railroad through the town of Catoctin Creek and over the Blue Ridge Mountains to Winchester, but he hadn’t intended to get his boss fired. If only the man hadn’t refused to admit he’d made a mistake.

Yep, it was all coming together. Just the way he’d hoped it would when he agreed to leave Texas and take this apprenticeship in Virginia. All he had to do was pass that examination next spring and…

He shuddered. The woman’s screeching escalated to a bone-grating pitch. She’d frighten the fish away for sure. Like most folks, Sunday was his day off, and he didn’t intend to spend it listening to her sing off-key.

Wedging his pole in the mud of the creek bank, he set off to investigate. Her ear-piercing slaughter of The Merry, Merry Month of May led the way. He spied his first glimpse of the lyrical assassin through the thin limbs of a dogwood tree. Perched on a large, flat rock at the edge of the creek, she swirled her bare feet in the water. Behind the rock sat a pair of woman’s boots—fancy ones. Too bad she hadn’t spent some of her shoe allowance on singing lessons. Her voice cracked. “The skies were bright, our hearts were light, in the merry, merry month of May…”

Benjamin winced. That was the fourth time in a row she’d sung that part. For the love of Pete, didn’t Miss Fancy Boots even know the words? He needed to put a stop to this so he could continue fishing—and napping. He stepped forward then stopped. The woman reached up and removed a pin from her hair, then another. Mounds of long chestnut brown ringlets spilled over her shoulders into the middle of her back.

Curls. He groaned. Why’d she have to have curls?

“The skies were bright. Our eyes were light…”

Never mind. Curls or not, the woman’s voice could haunt the dead.

Buy Links

A Love Restored is available on Amazon, Amazon UK, and Barnes & Noble

More About the Author

Kelly Goshorn weaves her affinity for history and her passion for God into uplifting stories of love, faith and family set in nineteenth century America. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Kelly has been enjoying her own happily-ever-after with her husband and best friend, Mike, for 28 years. Together they have raised three children, four cats, two dogs, a turtle, a guinea pig, a gecko, and countless hamsters. Thankfully, not all at the same time. When she is not writing, Kelly enjoys spending time with her young adult children, scrapbooking with friends, board gaming with her husband, and spoiling her Welsh corgi, Levi.

Connect with Kelly and her works

Website http://kellygoshorn.com/

Twitter https://twitter.com/KellyGoshorn

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/kelly.j.goshorn/

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

Pinterest https://www.pinterest.com/KellyGoshorn/

GIVEAWAY!!

Kelly will giveaway one E-copy of A Love Restored to one random commenter below. To enter, help Kelly choose what book to read next from the following choices: The Reckoning at Gossamer Pond by Jamie Jo Wright, More than Meets the Eye by Karen Witemeyer, Unbreakable by Ruth Buchanan and Once Upon A Laugh (Anthology or Rom-Coms). Be persuasive and let her know the why behind your choice. Have you read it? Want to read it? Love the cover? Read other books by that author?

SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: Sara R. Turnquist’s “Trail of Fears”

Welcome, everyone! I know I usually have an author to introduce you to, but today, I wanted to introduce you to my newest release: Trail of Fears! I have some goodies below for you to jump into the book a little more and a giveaway following so you can possibly snag yourself a copy!

Trail of Fears

He’s a steadfast missionary. She’s a proud Cherokee. Can their love survive the brutal Trail of Tears?

Thomas Greyson believes God had called him to spread the gospel. He leaves his sheltered world behind to live among the native peoples and teach in their school. But as the government tightens its grip, not everyone is ready to listen to the gospel’s message of love… least of all the stubborn beauty who stole his heart.

Adsila resists bending her knee to the white man’s God when Thomas seemingly tries to steal away the last remaining shreds of her heritage. Is she prepared to fight him tooth and nail? But when he stands with her people in the face of hardship, her soul begins to long for the curious stranger and his unshakeable faith.

Against impossible odds and staggering loss, can Thomas and Adsila find the strength to follow their hearts’ true path?

Trail of Fears is a stirring historical romance that captures the heartbreaking reality of the Trail of Tears. If you like spirited characters, personal journeys of faith, and enduring love stories, then you’ll adore Sara R. Turnquist’s gripping tale of survival and salvation.

Buy Trail of Fears to embark on a harrowing journey of faith and love today!

Teaser Video

Video Trailer (**you’ll want your volume on)

Enjoy an Excerpt

Thomas let out a deep sigh. Having finished his lessons for the day and dismissed his students, he took a moment to gaze over his humble classroom. Was he reaching them? His students performed well in their subjects, but had he made any lasting impact? He sighed again as he rubbed chalk dust from his hands. Perhaps only time would tell.

He gathered his things and made short work of closing the small schoolhouse. As he stepped out of the makeshift building, a breeze flowed over him. His eyes slid shut. If only it could take his worries and cares with it. The burst of air washed over him and refreshed his senses. And he allowed it. For several blissful moments.

His shoulders tightened, and his brow furrowed. What interrupted his peace? The children. Their eyes stared into him even now. Wanting, hurting, asking for something deeper than grammar and equations. It was important they get good instruction in these basic subjects; but it was vital they learn about God, about Jesus, about the Gospel.

Opening his eyes, Thomas gazed across the landscape. There were a few cabins visible from this vantage point. The Cherokee, his mission field, had proved more resistant than he had anticipated. His studies had taught him how much they’d given up to become ‘civilized.’ Much of who they were now lay in the past. Curious.

He began the walk toward his own cabin.

Did the Cherokee believe he now asked them to give up the last bit of their culture? Their religion? Was that the reason for the difficulty he had acquainting himself with his neighbors?

He had been invited to sup with Atohi and his family once a week, and he had the school. Beyond that, no one would open their doors, or their hearts. Or listen to the message he brought. No matter what the chief said, he was an outsider.

He spotted his cabin on the horizon. The structure’s modest proportions were nothing compared to his parents’ large home in Charlotte. But it belonged to him.

What would his mother think of him living in such a tight space? Unthinkable! Inhumane! And all other such craziness. But the little house had been more than adequate.

Ducking, he stepped through the door and set his school supplies down. He crossed his arms as his gaze wandered about the small space. It needed a good cleaning. There were dirty plates and a pile of clothes in the corner—it made him long for one day of the housekeeper’s time.

But as much as this humble abode belonged to him, the chores did as well.

Not today.

He needed respite for his soul. Having no one to talk to or share his concerns with, he often found himself in need of time alone with God. Grabbing for his knapsack, he walked back into the sunlight.

Today he needed space. From this village. From these worries.

Working his way up the creek, he left any semblance of the known behind as he sought a quiet spot in which to commune with God. He lengthened his stride, and the worries of the past days faded as the cabins diminished in his view.

He pulled at the strap of his knapsack, reassured by its weight. It was but a slight burden, bearing only his Bible, a block of wood, and his whittling knife.

From his youth, his father worked with him to whittle, using first soap and a dull blade. Soon after, he graduated to wood and a real blade.

His mother encouraged him to pursue art and sculpting as he grew, but his true passions lay with God’s direction—the mission field. Still, there was nothing like using his hands to create statuettes of birds, squirrels, and many other things in God’s natural world. But it could never be more than a hobby.

Glancing back, the village had long since disappeared. Perhaps now he should look for a place to nest down. Then he might read and study to his heart’s content.

And pray.

Perhaps even work the knife over the block and bring something new into being.

A tree nearby stood tall and proud. The grass around it appeared a lush seat. Nature’s chair, already prepared for him.

He stepped toward the aged oak, placing a hand on the trunk and shrugging the knapsack from his shoulder. Gazing up the height of the tree, he wondered at the storms it had weathered. Would he, too, prove sturdy enough to stand such tests?

Water splashed. Where did that come from? It seemed close. Should he concern himself with it? Maybe it was nothing more than a wild animal further upstream.

Or was it?

He wouldn’t have to go but a few feet.

But would it be dangerous to sneak up on an animal with no rifle?

The splashing continued.

Didn’t sound too large, he wagered.

He pulled the bag over his head, the strap resting across his chest, and stepped in the direction of the sound. The creek made a sharp turn a few yards upstream.

Following the bend, he kept his footfalls as soundless as possible and slowed his steps as he drew ever nearer.

The sounds were so clear now. For certain, he was only a few yards from the animal. He came to a stop and, holding his breath, lifted a shaking hand. This was nonsense. There was nothing to fear. Steeling himself, he pushed the tree limb to the side.

A young Cherokee woman stood in the creek, water to her knees. More striking—she wore a traditional deerskin dress.

He had never seen such, except in pictures.

Belted at the waist with fringe on the hem and on the sleeves, it was rather… becoming. And because of the depth of the water, she had hiked the skirt until the hem only covered her to mid-thigh. Long, black hair hung loose, flowing about her shoulders.

His face warmed. He wanted to turn away, to back up, to slip from this scene. In truth, he should. But he couldn’t.

She was captivating. The young woman hummed a tune that could have been as old as her people. And she moved back and forth in the water to a rhythm all her own. Was she from a nearby village? Perhaps she sought the same thing he did—solace.

Yes, he should go. Should have gone before now.

Moving one foot back, he put his weight on it.

Still, he could not tear his eyes away.

As he pressed back on that foot, the ground moved underneath him.

And he slipped.

When he stopped sliding down the small embankment, he was in the creek.

Jarred. And well deservedly so. But as he moved, nothing seemed broken, thank the Lord.

He opened his eyes and shifted forward, squatting on his toes. And the blunt end of a rather large branch greeted him. Mere inches from his chest.

Two angry deep brown eyes glared at him from the other side of the scary-looking limb.

His hands shot in the air.

“What are you doing here? Spying on me? White man!” Her voice was strong, harsh. Not at all like the gentle cadence he’d just heard.

“No.” He backed up as he rose, almost tripping on the smooth stones in the creek.

She kept step with him, not allowing for one inch of distance to come between him and the branch.

“I was… I was walking along and came upon you… by accident” He tried to find his words.

“By accident? You expect me to believe that?” Her eyes flashed. One side of her dress kept slipping down, exposing a perfectly browned shoulder.

He lowered his eyes. “I promise you. I am the village missionary. My village is three miles… that way.” Raising a hand a hair higher, he pointed behind himself.

“Missionary? So, you are the one teaching our children lies.” Her voice gave no hint of softening. She raised the branch higher so it was in his face.

“Yes. I mean, no! I mean…” He touched the branch with one finger to ease it back down.

Clearing his throat, he attempted to speak more firmly. “I am the missionary sent to teach. But I speak only the truth.”

Her lips curled into a snarl. “I suppose that is what you believe.” She lowered the branch… slowly.

“Please.” He stuck his hand over the lowering branch. “My name is Thomas.”

She stared at his hand, eyes dark and hard. “You should make your way back to the village before it gets dark, Missionary.” Taking a step back, she left no room for argument.

He let his hand fall to his side. Still, he could not just let it be.

“And you are?” he called after her.

“Someone who doesn’t trust you,” she said as she backed away from him, her gaze continuing to follow his every movement.

Pursing his lips, he lowered his eyes. What more was there to say? He swallowed against the tightness in his throat.

One more person who didn’t trust him.

His hands balled into fists. Was there nothing he could do to change his plight? Moving toward the embankment, he stepped out of the creek.

But before he began his climb, he paused. Nothing would excuse him not being a gentleman. He ground his teeth. “Shall I escort you back to the village?”

No answer. Not even a sharp rebuke.

He turned.

But she had vanished.

Buy Link

Amazon

More About the Author

I’m a coffee lovin’, word slinging, Historical Romance author who’s super power is converting caffeine into novels. I love those odd little tidbits of history that are stranger than fiction. That’s what inspires me. Well, that and a good love story.

But of all the love stories I know, I’m living my favorite. I live happily with my own Prince Charming and our gaggle of minions. Three to be exact. They sure know how to distract a writer! But, alas, the stories must be written, even if it must happen in the wee hours of the morning.

Happy Reading!

Connect with me and my books

Website – http://saraturnquist.com

Twitter – @sarat1701

Facebook – AuthorSaraRTurnquist

Pinterest – SaraVTurnquist

Instagram – @sarat0103

YouTube Channel – Sara Turnquist

GIVEAWAY

I am giving away TWO (2) ebook copies of my release, Trail of Fears. To enter, follow the directions on the Rafflecopter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway