INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Robin Densmore Fuson

Welcome, all, to another day and another blog! I have another Tennessee author for you today – author Robin Densmore Fuson. And my interview with her was just delightful. I can’t wait for you to dive in. But keep with me, there is a giveaway if you can hang in there. But I doubt that will be a problem.

I met Robin through our affiliation with the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), but it seems we have other things in common as well. I have been a part of a critique group (mine is online) called Word Weavers International that she is a member of as well (we are not in the same critique group). This is a fabulous group that can place you in a group that will offer valuable feedback no matter where you are in your writing journey.

Again, I ramble. Let me jump right into the interview…

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

At first blush, fifty-two-year-old Renee Harris appears to be a confident sophisticated woman. Hidden are the scars of deep pain and fear. A meeting in an ordinary elevator will not only take Renee to the designated floor but also on a journey of discovery.

Chaplain Lance Freeman’s only thought is to help a family in their hour of need though unknown to him, the woman in the elevator needs him more than the family down the hall.

Elevators can be strange things. Full of ups and downs, they may be used as a vehicle to change the course of someone’s life. Renee and Lance are about to find out just how much a chance meeting can alter a person’s direction. Can real love be a part of their new beginnings? Will they allow God to lead and interrupt their lives so they can eventually find peace, joy, and love?

Interesting. And I must say, rather intriguing. I don’t see a ton of romance novels where the primary characters are more in the prime of life. What was the inspiration for The Encounter?

My publisher, Cynthia Hickey asked for a romance where the characters were older than the typical young love. I have experience with this. A few years after my husband passed away, I met and married my husband, Jimmy. Older people have more life experience and can have a bit more baggage. At age fifty-three, my character Renee has both. She needs to heal and learn who she is in Christ. Some of the issues Renee faces I had to face. Love reigned supreme in my life as well as Renee’s. I pray this book will touch hearts with romance and help people solidify how the Lord sees them.

So great. I love it when the book contains a bit more of the writer’s own experience.

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

 I didn’t dream of becoming a writer although I loved to tell stories. I first wanted to be a chiropractor then an elementary school teacher.

Fun! But eventually, that writing bug got ya!

I know we as writers are always learning more about our craft. Some of tht is learned, I believe, intuitively from what we read. And, reading is often a writer’s first love…

What are you currently reading?

I have a book going all the time. Currently I’m reading, Canyon of Death by J. Carol Nemeth. I love to read friends books and new author’s works and review them.

Same here. I like to find new authors to introduce my readers to. (And to find those gems for myself.)

One thing I do to “set the tone” when I write is listen to music. Especially i a coffee shop…some of those places have the strangest music playing 🙂

What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

In romance scenes, I listen to romantic music mostly songs from favorites from eras gone by. When suspense is going on the page, I gravitate to exciting instrumentals or movie tracks. I also listen to praise and worship music. There is always music going or I’m singing. 

Love it! Do you have a favorite time of day to write?

I’m not a morning person so I don’t typically hit the keyboard till after 11am. I am known to work nights but my favorite block of time is 12 to 3 in the afternoon. I wake in the night and jot down things in the dark—sometime whole scenes. My husband is amazed it’s legible.   

I’m amazed it’s legible! Jotting notes is the last thing I can imagine doing at night!

What about a favorite place?

I love my office. The room is bright and cheery. I angled my computer desk so I can see out the window to the beauty of God’s creation and listen to the birds as well as see down the hall into the living room.

Sounds so nice! A pleasant set up 🙂

Readers are always curious about this next question: How long does it take you to write a book?

I’ve written children’s chapter books and novellas which typically take me two to three months, start to finish. The historical works take a bit longer because of the research needed. I also write flash fiction which is a complete story in under a thousand words. Those I can complete in a day. The novel I’m writing is a long project of the last few years. I fulfill my contracts for the novellas and go back to, The Race of Her Heart.I

I would be remiss if I let you go without asking this one last question: Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

As I stated, The Race of her Heart is a novel I’m always working on. LOL! This contemporary story takes place in Durango, Colorado. A romantic suspense set in the rugged and majestic Rocky Mountains. An injured Olympian, Jalyn is being stalked and threatened. Jalyn’s name is a combo of my parent’s middle names. Jay and Lynn, only with five letters because my name and my children’s names all have five letters. I’m also delving into devotionals and hope to submit them soon. 

Seems like you are one busy lady! I wish you well with those endeavors. Thank you again for coming on the blog and sharing about your release and your process with us. I don’t want to ramble too much before I let my readers jump into the details of your novel (including a video and except!)…

The Encounter

Book Trailer

Enjoy an Excerpt

The elevator moved as slow as a sloth on a tree branch. The normally crowded elevator stood vacant a moment ago as Renee glided her blue tennis shoe-clad foot into the gaping space. The cubical swallowed her as the doors closed with the usual swish and she pressed the top floor number, causing it to light up. Tension snarled her shoulders as the conveyer inched upward.

Only acquainted with the three parts of the hospital, she tried to steady her nerves as she ascended to the floor and the familiar place where her husband lay in a bed all alone. She had only been gone to the cafeteria for half an hour when she received a call from the nurse to hurry back up.

Earlier, the nurse on duty, Carol, practically pushed her out the door. “Girl, go grab some food. I called down and they still have some of the amazing chili and sandwiches. Even at three in the morning, they serve some delicious food. You need to keep your strength up. He will be fine. Now, go.”

The ascending lift seemed to slow even more as thoughts crept into her mind, she mulled over the crash. What could they have done differently? Darin said he had swerved to miss the deer. She had screamed when the car swerved. The car began the skid that took them off the shoulder of the road. Renee awoke to men banging on the window for her to unlock the door.

The throbbing in her casted arm and headache reminded her that she was one lucky woman whereas Darin’s injuries were far worse. She sighed.

The elevator chimed as it came to a stop. The door slid open and a tall man entered. That’s when she glanced up and saw she hadn’t made it to her destination. Renee scooted back and to the right out of the man’s path.

He nodded. “I see I’m not the only one up. Well, the staff are, of course. Visiting?” He frowned as he took in her cast and sling.

“Yes. My husband.”

His eyes bespoke of compassion and intelligence that had quickly summed up her ordeal. Blue eyes. Crinkles of laugh lines around them. The badge hanging from the lanyard read “Chaplain.” A shudder skimmed down her spine. She pulled her sweater closer but it slipped out of her grasp, causing it to slide off instead.

“Here, let me help.” He took hold and clasped the edges and buttoned it before dropping in into place. Not touching her but it felt as if he had.

“Thank you.” The automatic words slipped out. The ding of the elevator saved her. She glanced up. Relieved. “My floor.”

He stepped up and placed his hand on the edge of the door to keep it open so she could make her way through. She heard him follow. Of course. This was the top floor, after all. She kept her eyes on the hall in front of her that led to Darin’s room. Before she got to his open door, she paused to place the smile on her face and squared her shoulders. The scene that met her inside caused the world to spin out of control.

~

Lance noticed the sway and grabbed her before she collapsed. He swiftly took in the scene and guided her to the only chair, close to the door. He helped her sit and then stood next to her with his hand on her shoulder as the emergency team worked on the man in the bed whom he assumed to be her husband.

One nurse glanced up and nodded before returning her attention to the task at hand. Lance turned his attention to the whiteboard. Patient’s name, Darin, interesting spelling. Wife, Renee. Nurse, Carol. Phone numbers followed. Area code—not from Utah. No secondary contact. Renee must be alone. He counted five people trying to get a response out of the heart they jolted. The team worked feverishly but to no avail. The doctor he assumed, shook his head. “Time?”

“Three forty-three a.m.” They turned in unison at the gasp from the woman beside him.

Lance aided her to stand. The staff parted, clearing the way as she walked to the bed and took hold of the still hand. Her husband’s bare chest did not rise. Dead. Lance hated the word. He itched to help this woman, this stranger. Spiritual needs were heightened during this sort of crisis. He grabbed the chair and took it over and again clasped her elbow and guided her to sit. The silent staff wheeled out the machines…

Buy Link

Amazon

More About the Author

Robin recently moved to Murfreesboro, Tennessee with her husband Jimmy. Together, they celebrate with seventeen grandchildren. An award winner for romance and flash fiction, Robin is multi-published and also writes stories on her blog for children. Her historical and contemporary romances are wrapped around a twist of intrigue. The Rosita Valdez series for children lends itself to a character building lesson through an adventure. Robin is a member of Word Weavers International, ACFW, and a member of John316 Marketing Network. She enjoys the new challenge of helping a start-up church, NewPath Community, touch lives in the Antioch, Tennessee. Robin loves company and challenging her young guests to discover the many giraffes in the obvious and hidden nooks and crannies of their home.

Connect with Robin and her work

Robin Densmore Fuson

http://www.robindensmorefuson.com/

Blog, kid Bible lessons

http://www.kidbiblelessons.com/

Twitter, Robin L Fuson

@RobinLFuson

Facebook, Author Robin Densmore Fuson

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorRobinDensmoreFuson/

Amazon Author Page

https://www.amazon.com/Robin-Densmore-Fuson/e/B06XGKVDDV/ref

Google+, Robin Densmore Fuson

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+RobinDensmoreFuson

Pinterest,

https://www.pinterest.com/revelation411/the-encounter/

Goodreads,

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6604786.Robin_Densmore_Fuson

GIVEAWAY!

Robin is offering an e-book copy of The Encounter to one winner, chosen by Rafflecopter. Please follow the instructions below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

SPOTLIGHT & INTERVIEW: Author Sara L. Foust

Welcome to another Friday and another author on my blog! This week I have another special friend for you to meet. Although, this author friend is one I have met, face to face! Author Sara L. Foust and I met at a Writers Retreat that the writing ministry I help lead, Clarksville Christian Writers, hosted a few years ago. Sara was an absolute delight and I am all too eager to introduce you to her and her books…

Welcome to my blog, Sara! I’m so happy to have you visit. First things first…can you tell us a little about your novel?

On the surface, SIMON FINCUFF and FERN STRONGBOW have nothing in common. Simon has served his sentence, but his past conviction still haunts him. Fern is a veterinarian and grew up on an off-the-grid homestead. The one thing they share? Each has a dark secret they would do almost anything to protect.

When their current careers are yanked away, they are left scrambling to pick up the pieces. A reality television show falls into their paths, offering a life-changing opportunity that tests their resolve and their faith.

These two unlikely partners must battle to survive for thirty days in the untouched wilderness of Rarity Mountain with only a handful of survival items and a director who is out for drama, no matter the cost. With their lives and their carefully guarded skeletons on the line, they will discover how far they are willing to go to win the million-dollar prize for Survival Tennessee.

Ooohhh….sounds interesting. I love settings I’m familiar with. Being a Tennessee girl myself (as you know), I’m intrigued!

What was the inspiration for Rarity Mountain?

I enjoy watching survival shows and, after much prayer, God gave me the idea for Rarity Mountain. I’ve also thought East Tennessee is so wild in places, it would make a great location for a reality show, so why not write one?

East Tennessee is wild. And is ripe as an amazing setting for such a book. Love it! I love all the places inspiration can come from for writers.

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

I have always wanted to be a writer. I’ve also wanted to be a veterinarian, a horse boarding stable owner, a National Geographic photographer, and a mom.

I wanted to be a veterinarian for a short while. Quickly dismissed it. I know they love, care for, and help animals in pain, but I didn’t think I could mange the regularity of seeing animals in pain. Though I know that’s not what it’s really about…just a 7 year old girl’s tender heart…

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

Second grade.

Nice! And I’m sure, like most other writers, there are parts of the journey you like and parts you are not such a fan of. Is there a part of the writing process you dread?

I love writing. I love editing for other people. I do not love editing for myself. Once I write the story, I want to move on but I can’t and I have to go back so many times for thorough editing. Ugh!

I hear you! Once I’ve been through the story for the umpteenth time, I am soooo done! Soooo tedious!

What are you currently reading?

I am in between fiction books right now and reading a couple different self-help, psyche-understanding nonfiction books.

Interesting. I, too, try to keep my fiction and non-fiction running at the same time. I’m sure you find the same struggle I do…house and kiddos and ministry means the time left a balancing act between writing and reading. So difficult!

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

I don’t listen to music when I write. Usually, I listen to whatever chaos is happening with my kiddos ha!

I’ve got plenty over here if you run out! Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

I tend to grab writing time whenever it is available, and I love writing outside. I think better with fresh air, sunshine, and birds chirping.

Sounds wonderful! I’m so glad it’s warming up. My deck is calling to me!

I get this question a lot…people seem very interested in writers’ processes and their productivity. So, about how long does it take you to write a book?

It takes me about 6 months to write a full-length book and then another 1-2 to edit.

Last question, I promise, then I’ll let my readers dig into Rarity Mountain! Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share? 

I am writing a book called, Jade Owl.  It is the first book in the Serafina Jones Chronicles and tells the story of a self-conscious archaeologist looking for pirate treasure somewhere in the Smoky Mountains.

Another book series based in this region. I love it!

Sara, thanks so much for being on the blog and taking the time to share about your writing and giving us a peek atRarity Mountain. So, without further ado, I’ll let you all (readers) jump right in:

Rarity Mountain

Excerpt

Dr. Fern Strongbow settled into a folding chair across the desk from Dr. Sylvia Greenlee. Fern popped a flower into her mouth and smiled as her friend and mentor grimaced. “Dandelion?”

Sylvia shook her head. “You eat some strange things, Fern.”

“They’re delicious.” Fern ate another yellow top and smiled. “What’s on the agenda for our weekly session?”

A dog whined in the next room, drawing Fern’s gaze to the office door. No doubt Max was having trouble awakening from his dental surgery. Pentothal did some strange things to their patients in recovery.

“I’m sure Kaylee can handle that.”

She was probably right. But what if Kaylee was otherwise occupied? Fern leaned back into the cold metal and sighed. “I miss the old chairs.”

“Well, they were worth $50 at the farmer’s market. Paid the water bill last month.”

Max whined again.

Fern’s gaze once again darted to the closed door. “You sure Kaylee isn’t busy with something else?”

“Max will be fine. We need to talk.”

Sylvia’s gaze landed on the wall behind Fern’s head instead of greeting her head on in that penetrating, straightforward way Fern had come to appreciate long ago. Strange. Did she have more news about the clinic? Fern’s pulse skipped.

“As you know, things have been tight around here. But I haven’t been completely honest with you about how bad things are.”

Fern’s stomach flip-flopped. Her chewing mouth stopped. “Oh?”

“I know I promised you partnership in another nineteen months, but we aren’t going to make it that long.”

Wait. What? Her pulse swished in her ears, thumping like the poor dog’s tail against his crate-prison in the next room. “What are you saying?”

“As of today, I’m seeking a buyer for the clinic. I’m sorry.”

Words ping-ponged around in Fern’s mind, but none of them found her mouth. She swallowed the bitter flower.

“You’ll be fine, Fern. You’re a survivor.”

Her neck stiffened. “Survivalist. There’s a difference. We’ve discussed it a million times.”

“I mean it. You are a survivalist, but you’re also a survivor.”

No, she wasn’t. She was a mess inside. Barely keeping it together so no one noticed. Where would she go now, with her dreams of part ownership in Knox Highway Veterinary Clinic dashed? Her safety net yanked away, feet dangling over open space, a chasm of uncertainty yawning below. How could she remain in control when everything was being turned upside down?

####

Simon Fincuff returned his attention to the strips of flooring. Not a hard floor to lay, but one that required his best work considering the customer. Arnie reminded him of that every morning when they arrived.

Mrs. Golden’s nasal squeak sounded from the other room. Growing louder with each word.

Upset again. Why didn’t that surprise him? Was it his imagination or did he hear her spit out his name?

Arnie’s muffled argument ended with the slam of a door.

Simon glanced up as Arnie entered the room, reading the words on his boss’s face before they formed on his lips.

Arnie shook his head. “I’m sorry, man.”

“Not your fault.”

“It’s different this time.”

Simon’s motions froze. The next words coming, the sentence forming in Arnie’s mind would change everything, wouldn’t it? Again.

“I’ve got to let you go, Simon. She insisted. I’m sorry.”

Heat burned Simon’s cheeks. “Not your fault.”

“She did a background check of her own, you know. I didn’t tell her.”

“I know.”

“If I have another job I’ll call you.”

Yeah, that’s what they all said. Once he’d been let go, he never got that follow-up call.

Simon gently gathered his tools and tucked them into his canvas bag. He didn’t say goodbye to Arnie or the job site. No one would miss him after a few days passed. Why couldn’t people see past his past? Yes, it was dark but there was light underneath. One he wanted to shine brighter than the penned ink of failure.

Another job lost. Another uncertainty looming. What was he supposed to do now?

####

“Come in, Betty.” Gregory Vanderbilt, III, laid down his pen and took the chewed lid from his mouth. “Don’t hover.”

“Sorry, sir. I didn’t want to interrupt.”

“We do this every day. What exactly did you think you were interrupting?”

“I don’t know, sir. Sorry.”

Gregory held out his hand. “List.”

Betty’s hands shook as she gave him the clipboard.

She wouldn’t last another week. He’d bet money on it. “This is all of them?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Buy. Pass. Buy. Buy. Pass.”

“Sorry, which ones?”

“Good gravy.” He picked up the pen and scribbled in the margins. Buy veterinary clinic. Pass putt-putt course. Buy television station. A good buy, that one. Buy the gas station. With an overhaul of its front appearance, it should be profitable. Pass on the bank. He owned enough banks already. Well, his dad did anyway.

Gregory thrust the clipboard into Betty’s hands and waved her out.

The Knoxville Sunsphere’s copper sides glittered under the gaze of a late summer’s sunset. Would Pops be satisfied with his purchases today? How would he react if he wasn’t?

Buy Links

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

More About the Author

Sara is a multi-published, award-winning author and homeschooling mother of five who writes surrounded by the beauty of East Tennessee. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from the University of Tennessee and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is the author of the Love, Hope, and Faith Series, which includes Callum’s Compass (2017), Camp Hope (2018), and Rarity Mountain (March 2019).  She also has a story, “Leap of Faith,” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone and a novella, Of Walls (November 2018).

Sara finds inspiration in her faith, her family, and the beauty of nature. When she isn’t writing, you can find her reading, camping, and spending time outdoors with her family. To learn more about her and her work or to become a part of her email friend’s group, please visit www.saralfoust.com

Connect with Sara and her books

SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: Author Catherine Brakefield

I have such a treat for you today! Author Catherine Brakefield is back on the blog sharing about her Destiny Series. And there is some fabulous bits of history in these books. I am soooo in love! But I won’t bore you with my thoughts…I’ll get you to Catherine as fast as possible!

Catherine Brakefield’s Destiny Series

Sara, it is a true pleasure to be back on your blog with you and talking about the third book in the Destiny series, Destiny of Heart. I was on last year talking about Destiny’s Whirlwind and really enjoyed myself!

Before I begin, I’d like to refresh you and your reader’s memory about the series:

Swept into Destiny, book 1, begins in 1857. Maggie Gatlan may be a Southern belle on the outside, but inside she’s a rebel. She meets the handsome, strong Irish immigrant Ben McConnell. Ben is enchanted by Maggie’s beauty and fiery spirit, but for him the South she dearly loves represents the injustice and deprivation he left behind in Ireland. As the country divides and Ben joins the Union, Maggie and Ben are forced to call each other enemies.

Destiny’s Whirlwind, book two, begins in 1898. Smallpox and the townspeople’s fears capture the McConnell family into its evil clutches. Collina promises her dying father that his legacy for Shushan will continue. Dashing Rough Rider Franklin Long offers his help and suddenly Collina’s heart has a will of its own. War calls him to the shores of Cuba. Collina is flung into a tangled web of deception and greed when a vindictive lawyer places the family in peril. Will Franklin return in time?

Tell us a little about your novel, Destiny of Heart?

Book three opens in 1917 and Ruby McConnell (Collina’s sister) is married to Stephen Meir. The story unfolds as they travel to the prairies of Colorado for Stephen’s health. Ruby’s sister Collina and Franklin Long are also in this story. Destiny of Heart covers a large span of history and three states: Colorado, Kentucky, and Michigan. The reader will experience the patriotic fan-waving that plunged America into World War I, as well as the extravagant lifestyles of the Roaring Twenties, and the grand old sport of fox hunting. 





Readers will experience those affluent lifestyles evaporating in a blink of an eye and Maggie, Ruby, Collina, and Franklin’s spirals into the Great Depression. Destiny of Heart concludes in 1933 after Theodore Roosevelt’s inauguration into the presidency and a life-altering decision must be made.  

Thank you for that wonderful synopsis! I am all the more eager to hear more! First, can you share the more historically significant events behind your story?

I’d love to! I could not rely solely on the internet for my research, nor modern-day history books or Hollywood movies. When I tried, I felt out of step with the story. I had one foot in modern pop culture and one foot in a watered-down version of the past. I sought out people who had lived the era and interviewed them.

WWI – troops marching toward the Battle of Somme

I learned that the typical American did not cherish the modern conveniences of their day. Their family, however, was a vital part of their existence. Wow! I realized that people of this century were polar opposites of their ancestors who did not carry a phone in their pockets or check the latest news, weather, and style.

Our children are brought up to believe they are ‘the enlightened generation,’ but I want my readers to experience a feeling of entering a time capsule. I decided not to watch any show or read any books dated from the 1960s forward.

History books published before 1959 gave me insight, as did old newspaper clippings and interviews. From the 1800s up through the 1940s scripture verses were a common part of everyday language. Some of you might recall seeing a Bible where your ancestors recorded their marriages, births, baptisms, and deaths within the reverend folds of their Holy Bible.

Wow! I so appreciate your dedication to your research!

What was the inspiration for your Destiny series?

My grandmother’s stories and my father’s memoirs are a major part of the Destiny series. My siblings and I would ask Dad, “What was it like back then?” So he wrote about the good ol’ days. We sure learned those days weren’t always so good. You will learn more about that in book 4, Waltz into Destiny, which releases on D Day, June 6.

I think what Harry S. Truman one said sort of sums this up: “There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.”

Much that our young people are learning today about our America is a watered-down version of the truth. Much of our classic literature that I grew up reading are now being banned or edited. I feel this is wrong. I have heard the age-old jargon that history can repeat itself. So how can our young people know what not to do if they don’t know the truth about our American history? Hence, my reason for writing the Destiny series.

Enjoy an Excerpt

President Wilson’s words blared out. “The right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have carried nearest our hearts.

“Come on.” Stephen took her hand and they rushed down the stairway. Bus boys arrayed in flashing red and gold braided suits greeted her. Crystal chandeliers twinkled gaily about the lavishly decorated lobby of the hotel, accenting the deep red and gold drapes and rich mahogany furniture in the lobby.

The doorman opened the outside doors of the Grand Hotel; a gust of cold air greeted them. Snow lined the newly shoveled walkways. The horses’ neighs and the tinkling of sabers clashing against the soldiers’ stirrup irons mingled with the cheers of the crowd.

A regiment of the cavalrymen rode before them, the insignia of the crossed swords displayed on their sleeves and cavalry blankets. “How dashing.” Ruby squealed with delight. “I can envision that gallant Rough Rider Franklin Long there among them.”

“Far better it is to dare mighty things…even though checkered by failure,” Stephen said, quoting Theodore Roosevelt. “The United States became a world power because of the Rough Riders when America defeated Spain in 1898.”

The horses nodded their fine heads, and their flowing manes caught the sunlight and glistening snow, as they pranced forward as proudly as the foot soldiers in the snow that last evening and this morning.

Stephen laughed. “I seriously doubt we have seen the last of Franklin Long.” He drew her hand to his lips and kissed it. “Shall we purchase our tickets for tomorrow’s train to Colorado?”

“No, you mustn’t,” the woman’s voice vibrated with emotion. She dotted her eyes. Her embroidered handkerchief was moist. “The porter said the railroad crew just tunneled through a large drift.”

Stephen nodded. “He told me that Amarillo’s never seen a storm of this magnitude.”

The woman dabbed at her eyes again. “True. This morning I overheard one of the workers on the railroad crew tell the engineer that they hadn’t been able to clear all the track… He said the passenger car could become a steel death trap for those foolish enough to ride the iron horse tomorrow.”

More About the Author

I am an award-winning author of the inspirational historical romance Wilted Dandelions. My faith-based Destiny series includes Swept into Destiny, Destiny’s Whirlwind, Destiny of Heart, and Waltz into Destiny, which releases June 6.

I have written two pictorial history books. Images of America: The Lapeer Area, and Images of America: Eastern Lapeer County

My short stories have been published in Guidepost Books True Stories of Extraordinary Answers to Prayer, Unexpected Answers and Desires of Your Heart; Baker Books, Revell, The Dog Next Door, Horse of my Heart, Second-Chance Dogs, The Horse of my Dreams (releases on September 17);CrossRiver Media Publishers, The Benefit Package and Abba’s Promise; Bethany House Publishers, Jesus Talked to Me Today.

I am a longtime Michigan resident and live with my husband of 45 years and our Arabian horses in the picturesque hills of Addison Township. I love traveling the byroads across America and spoiling my two handsome grandsons and two beautiful granddaughters!

Connect with Catherine and Her Books

https://www.catherineulrichbrakefield.com/

Blog: Hopes, Hearts, & Hoofbeats: https://catherineulrichbrakefield.wordpress.com/

Twitter: : https://twitter.com/CUBrakefield

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

https://www.linkedin.com/in/catherine-brakefield-4710b315/detail/recent-activity/shares/

https://www.amazon.com/Catherine-Ulrich-Brakefield/e/B001H6UI8U/ref=dbs_p_ebk_rwt_abau

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3387463.Catherine_Ulrich_Brakefield

https://www.instagram.com/catherineulrichbrakefield/

GIVEAWAY

Catherine is offering a giveaway! A copy of Destiny of Heart or whichever novel the winner chooses in the Destiny series. Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below to enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Wendy May Andrews

Hello, readers! Author Wendy May Andrews is back on my blog today with a new clean Historical Romance. And the cover is oh so good! I won’t delay you any longer. Let’s get right to Wendy!

Hey, Wendy! Thanks for rejoining us on the blog. It’s good to have you back. I’m sure I’m not the only one eager to learn more about this new novel. So, what was the inspiration for The Debutante Bride?

This story explores the rollercoaster of emotions that could ensue if an arranged marriage starts off on the wrong foot. I’m always fascinated by the possibilities when a couple is forced together by circumstances. It wasn’t so uncommon throughout history. But what if there are too many factors tearing them apart? In this story, I wanted to explore how love could conquer the external and internal pressures society and we ourselves put upon relationships, but in the complicated context of the Regency era.

Interesting. I do love reading in the Regency Era, but have never tried to write in that time period. Just hasn’t spoken to me…or maybe it just intimidates me 🙂

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

I did go through a phase as a child when I wanted to be a writer but I thought it was too fantastical of an idea. Then I wanted to be a vet until I realized how allergic I am to cats. Then I didn’t really know what I wanted to do except that I knew I wanted to work in an office in a brand new building in my home town – it was so big and shiny. I took a couple side trips as an executive assistant and an insurance broker before returning to my first love – the written word.

I know…once you get bitten by the writing bug….as they say…

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

After I wrote my first book 🙂 I wrote my first book more as fulfilling a dare from my husband. I never really considered that it could be a serious pursuit. Then I fell in love with writing and the rest is history.

I hear ya! But as much as we love it, I know there are those things we don’t love as much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Editing is my least favorite. By the time I’ve gone through the manuscript 35 times I’m ready to throw it across the room. But the discovery of first draft writing is the joy that keeps me returning story after story.

Isn’t that the truth! So many times through the manuscript.

Just for curiosity’s sake…what are you currently reading?

A non-fiction book on marketing. There’s always something more to learn.

Sometimes I like to write in silence, but most often I get the right mood going…music and everything. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I don’t listen to music while I’m writing. I think it would be distracting. I find music to be very inspiring. But I don’t want to run after new ideas while I’m working on my current WIP.

I can understand that. What about your atmosphere? Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

Whenever the words are flowing is my favorite time of day 🙂 But I’m a morning person so first thing in the morning is usually my most productive time. I have my computer set up in one room, so that’s where most of my writing takes place. But I carry a notebook with me wherever I go so that I can jot down any notes that come to me when I’m not in front of my computer.

Readers are always curious about this next question: How long does it take you to write a book?

It really varies for me from book to book, depending on what else is happening with LIFE while I’m writing. So anywhere from two months to two years has been my experience. I have written the first draft of a full-length book in as short of time as two weeks. But then there are the edits…

My last question…Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I’m currently in edits for my second Proxy Brides story – A Bride for Ransom (set to release in April) and brainstorming for the third. It has been a fun multi-author project to be a part of.

Wendy, thanks so much for your time and for sharing about your process. I know I’ve got readers eager to see your cover (if they haven’t peeked already) and read more about it. So, I’ll turn them loose to dive in 🙂

The Debutante Bride

First comes marriage, then comes love.

Miss Elizabeth Dunseith grew up in genteel poverty, happy despite her abusive father and weak mother. The marriage her father has arranged for her seems shady, but despite her fears for her future, Beth is relieved to get away from home with her handsome, new husband.

Justin Fulton, Earl of Westfield, is puzzled by the contradictory behavior of his purchased bride. One moment she is haughty and cool, the next she is warm and endearing.

Their relationship is just starting to develop when Justin’s meddling sister throws them off course and an old friend of Beth’s complicates matters further.

Can their differences get sorted before it’s too late to claim their happily ever after?

Enjoy an Excerpt

As she came to wakefulness, Beth held herself very still, momentarily surprised to find herself in a strange bed, but then it all rushed back to her consciousness. She was a married lady. A countess at that. And she had only met her husband thirty-six hours before.

The thrill of freedom flowed through her as she reminded herself once more that she would never again have to return to the house she grew up in unless she so chose. Of course, she would want to see her mother again, but she allowed herself to bask in the contentment she was experiencing. She wiggled her toes and stretched her arms, revelling in the new sensation.

The unknown factor of her new husband was obviously of concern, but so far, he had been remarkably even tempered. She would even go so far as to describe him as kind, at least what she had seen of him in their short acquaintance. Beth could not decide how she felt about how handsome he was. He was deliciously attractive, but she was unsure if that could be trusted. No doubt other women would find it to be a point in his favour.

Feeling surprisingly rested from the long day of travel but reluctant to climb from the warm, comfortable bed, Beth allowed her mind to drift as she thought of the varied events she had experienced over the last day and a half. It had all started when she had spotted her father’s carriage bowling down the road, and it had felt like she was in a runaway carriage ever since.

She pondered her new circumstances and allowed her mind to drift. After several moments of quiet reflection, Beth felt very much awake and remarkably cheerful. She blinked languidly against the sunshine that was streaming into her room. The sound of chirping birds filled the air, causing her to smile slightly. It was rare for her to awaken to such peace, so for a moment, she simply lay there in wonder at the feeling of lightness she felt. Then she remembered that she was free of her father forever, and although she had always been told the devil you know is better than the one you don’t, her naturally optimistic outlook allowed her to have some hope for her future.

Buy Link

Buy linkhttps://amzn.to/2Uwejxt

More About the Author

Wendy May Andrews loves words. She loves words so much she’ll even read the cereal box repeatedly. This love affair has lead her to her new love, writing. So far she has published thirteen sweet, historical romance novels. Wendy and her husband love to travel either for hiking or for research and they are happiest whenever they manage to combine the two. When not traipsing around the world, Wendy can be found in front of her computer or with her head buried in a book in their cozy home in Toronto. She loves hearing from her readers and hopes you love her books as much as she does.

Connect with Wendy and her books

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wendy-May-Andrews/e/B002W42H3A

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

Website: http://wendymayandrews.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/WendyMayAndrews

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/WendyMayAndrews

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/profile/wendy-may-andrews

Pure Romance Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/readersofpureromance

Giveaway

Wendy May Andrews is offering an ebook copy of Book 1 in her Orphan Train Series to one (1) winner chosen by Rafflecopter. See directions below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Kathleen Neely

Hello, all! I have a fresh face to introduce you to today, Kathleen Neely. Kathleen is another author I have encountered through ACFW. This wonderful organization allows authors to network and glean from each other in the most amazing way. I wish I’d joined sooner 🙂

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

I love novels that focus on relationships, particularly inter-generational. I also enjoy reading stories that involve the legal system—law suits, court cases, attorneys. The Street Singer is actually my second novel, although the first to reach publication. When I finished my first novel and breathed a big sigh of relief, my mind went to work weaving story lines, building and discarding ideas, until I decided on what eventually became The Street Singer. It’s about Trisha, a final-year law student, and Adda, a once famous recording artist known as Adaline. Although it’s their story, everyone loves a little romance. That keeps things interesting.

The Street Singer blurb:

Trisha Mills, a student in her final semester of law school, has fond memories of listening to the music of Adaline, a once famous recording artist. She learns that Adaline, now Adda
Marsh, is a street singer in Asheville, NC. Adda’s sole means of support in her senior years comes from the donation box. Along with her meager possessions, Adda has a box labeled, “Things to Remember.” Adda agrees to show Trisha the contents. With it comes her story. Adda reveals her journey by sharing a few items at a time, beginning as a sharecropper’s daughter in Mississippi, to fame in Nashville, and to poverty in her old age.

Trisha is busy cleaning out the home of her deceased grandfather, preparing to sit for the bar exam, and planning her wedding to Grant Ramsey. However, she cannot overlook the
injustices that Adda has experienced. Aided by Rusty Bergstrom, an attorney who will work pro bono, Trisha convinces Adda to seek restitution. Will her growing friendship with Rusty Bergstrom affect her engagement to Grant?

Sounds interesting. I love novels that give us multiple storylines like this. I always have to ask fellow authors: Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

My advice is more for new writers. Surround yourself with people in the industry. Garner all of the help they can give you. I’ve found writers to be the best and most willing mentors. Read trade books on writing and attend conferences.

That is sound advice. Never stop learning. Non-writers are always curious about the length of time to complete a novel. Now, most understand this varies from author to author. What about you? How long does it take you to write a book?

Writing a book takes the better part of a year. About six months of that time is actually drafting the manuscript. After that, comes editing and rewrites. Unlike what I hear from many authors, I enjoy editing—not the line editing checking for every punctuation mark. Once the skeleton of a story is written, I enjoy embellishing it, bringing it to life with words. I go through my manuscript many times, looking to add sensory details and thinking through the emotions that should be evident. I use beta readers to review the finished work, then, if needed, will do further edits.

You’ve got one on me. I certainly do add depth, but editing is not my favorite 🙂

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

I was mesmerized by a youtube video of a drum circle. I knew I had to have a scene in The Street Singer that included it. Here’s a link:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2O6melWFemg

So cool! Lastly, do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I’m working 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.

Oh my goodness! What a teaser that is!

Research in Writing:

Research is a vital part of writing, and is not limited to historic settings. Most people know a little bit about the legal system. I knew enough to get myself in trouble if I hadn’t consulted an expert. Actually, two experts. I reached out to an attorney who read the legal portions of my manuscript and provided feedback on my misunderstandings, then passed it along to her husband whose area of law was more closely compatible.

An interesting sub-theme shows the renovation of an older home. That research was easy for me. My husband has worked for decades in every area of home building. He walked me through each phase of the work.

Thanks, Kathleen, for sharing your insight and for being on the blog! And now, it is my pleasure to introduce you all toThe Street Singer

The Street Singer

Enjoy an Excerpt

Excerpt from The Street Singer

“I done figured you knew. You wore them questions all over your face. She opened her water bottle and took a long, slow drink. Here’s what you gotta know. There ain’t no more Adaline. I’m Adda, my given name. That’s all I am.”

Trisha nodded but remained unsatisfied. “Can I ask what happened?”

Adda laughed. “Honey, age happened. You too young to understand. The body goes. The voice goes. The energy goes.

“I know, but your records, they sold…maybe millions.”

Adda chuckled at that. “Well, you be givin’ me too much credit, but yeah, they did sell back in the day.” Adda looked at her watch and took a bite of her sandwich. “So, I guess you’re wondering where all my money went.”

Trisha backpedaled. The bluntness made it sound so callous. “That’s none of my business, but…”

“You right there. It ain’t none of your business. But I’ll tell you anyways. My daddy, he was a sharecropper in Mississippi. We young’uns had to help when we got big enough to hold a shovel. I never got me past primary schooling. Them record people knowed it and all them fancy papers I signed didn’t give me much left over.”

Trisha gasped. “That’s terrible.”

Adda looked up from her lunch. “Oh, they treated me good. Real good. Set me up in a fancy place to live, bought me clothes and food. Dressed me for pictures and took me to the studio. But they never let me go places where I’d get to talk and never let me talk in microphones where I went to sing. Didn’t want me having no friends. I knew they feared my poor schooling would show. Them fancy papers I signed didn’t leave me much left over.”

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, to be released in February, 2019. Beauty for Ashes and The Least of These will be released in 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 first 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 giveaway to one (1) winner within the continental United States: a scripture print (picture with related scripture). Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

DEPRESSION: An Honest Look at Symptoms & Treatment

Hey, all! I apologize for the delay in this series. We’ve had sickness, and houseguests, and you name it! But my burden for increasing awareness and understanding of depression and mental illness weighs on my heart (in a good way).

So today, let’s dive into how to recognize if you or a loved one is experiencing a mental illness, such as depression.

Are you just “under the weather”? Tired? Baby blues? Or is it something more? Discerning if your symptoms are actually caused by a mental illness or something else can be more difficult than you’d think sometimes. But it is best to be aware of the common “calling cards” of these disorders so you can pinpoint what’s happening more easily.

Each mental illness has unique makeup, and therefore, different symptoms, but there are some common things that tend to show up:

  • worry or fear that is excessive
  • Feeling overly sad or “low”
  • Problems concentrating and learning or just general confusion
  • Mood changes that seem extreme, even “highs” that feel somewhat euphoric
  • Irritability or anger that lasts or is intense
  • Shutting down and avoiding friends or any social situation
  • Having a hard time relating to others or even understanding their feelings
  • Tiredness, low energy, changes in sleep patterns
  • Increased hunger or a lack of appetite
  • Noticeable changes in libido
  • Reality doesn’t quite always seem right – delusions or hallucinations
  • Lack of insight – doesn’t notice the change in own feelings, behavior, personality
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Headaches, stomach aches, other “aches and pains” that persist without a cause
  • Thoughts of harming self
  • No longer able to perform daily activities or manage daily problems or stress
  • Fear of weight gain that is overly intense or uncharacteristic concern with appearance

There are also marked symptoms to look for in children as their behavior is usually more telling. For the most part, children do not know how to verbalize what they are feeling and thinking:

  • Notable changes in academic or school performance
  • Fighting or defiant behavior, or excessive worry/anxiety
  • Hyperactivity
  • Increase in bad dreams
  • Increased aggressiveness
  • Temper tantrums – more numerous than before

If you think you have more of these than you should or you have a couple to a greater degree than is normal, REACH OUT! A trusted friend or supportive spouse is a great start. One of the things about depression and mental illness is that it alters your cognitive filter…you know, that thing that helps you identify thoughts as crazy or not crazy. A good, reliable friend can help be that filter for you in a non-judgmental way. Hear me – YOU are not crazy…you just need a little help.

Your primary care physician (regular doctor) is a good next step. He or she can help with a diagnosis and get you the right kind of help. Being aware of the signs and symptoms above can aid you in this conversation. The diagnosis is the necessary first step as only then can your provider develop a plan for you…tailored to you.

There is NO “one-size-fits-all” treatment for mental illness. But there are, again, common approaches. These include medication, talk therapy (counseling), and possibly life style changes.

The NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) HelpLine can assist in finding services and supports in your area as well: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or info@nami.org

You can also text NAMI to 741-741 to interact with a crisis specialist.

If you, or someone you care about, needs immediate help…do not delay. Call 911 or the Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255

Join me next Wednesday. I’ll be sharing about things I’ve learned in my years living with chronic depression that have helped me along my recovery and kept me stable. Call them tips if you’d like…these are things that helped me and tend to be helpful to others. Maybe a couple will spark for you or your loved one. Again, mental illness is NOT a “one-size-fits-all” kind of thing.

Thanks for joining me 🙂

Has Depression Become An Epidemic?

I spent some time at a Women’s Retreat this past weekend and was struck by the number of women I ran across who had struggled with, at some point, a depressive disorder. And I thought about our country. The number of depression-related suicides we’ve seen in the last several years, and the sheer amount of those suffering whether in silence or opening up and sharing their struggle.

Has depression become an epidemic?

Well, first, I thought it might be helpful to seek out Webster and find out what “epidemic” actually means.

epidemic – a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time

Yes, usually “epidemic” refers to infectious diseases, but further looking determined that it doesn’t always have to. If a disease or disorder excedes 7.7% of the population, it is considered “epidemic”. But the definition does speak to a sudden upsurgence of instances in a certain area.

Does this fit depression/mood disorders? Is it confined to the U.S.? Has there been rapid growth in the recent years or is there just better testing? More awareness? Less stigma so more willingness to report?

Here are some of the facts:

A study done by Harvard Medical School found that approximately 27.4% of United States adults experience a mood disorder (depression, bipolar depression, or seasonal affective disorder) at some point in their lives. As far as how affected they are, 45% experience “serious impairment”, 40% experience “moderate impairment”, and 15% experience “mild impairment”.

And it’s striking younger and younger, too. A study found that those 18-29 years of age are more likely to experience depression than those over 60. And college students reporting a period of depression in the previous year (those that reported, depression is frequently an under-reported number) were 33% of the women in the student body and 27% of the males. That’s a big number!

The suicide rate for adults has increased 25% since 1999. That’s absolutely crazy!

The World Health Organization (WHO) projects that the level of disability and life lost due to depression will exceed that seen in war, accidents, cancer, stroke, and heart disease by 2030. WHO already sites depression as the #1 cause of illness and disability worldwide.

Worldwide.

This is not just epidemic. It’s pandemic!

And just what does “pandemic” mean, you ask?

pandemic – prevalent over a whole country or the world

This is a major issue. Worldwide. And definitely within our country, our states, our communities. Our neighborhoods. Even, dare I say, our spheres of influence – our friends, families, and the people we interact with.

So many lives, hurting, suffering – again, some in silence. And with a problem so big and so wide reaching, the hardest thing about depression (from someone who deals with chronic depression) is how isolating it can be. How alone you feel.

This is a big deal.

Join me next week. I’ll share more about the symptoms of depression, treatments, and some tips (for the one experiencing depression and for the one who sees a loved one struggling in depression).

REFERENCES:

www.nimh.nih.gov

Psychology Today. Why We Can’t Stop the Depression Epidemic. by Jonathan Rottenberg, Ph.D

https://www.webmd.com/