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Posts from the ‘Character Interviews’ Category

Character Interview: Molly Cambridge from June Foster’s Misty Hollow

Today’s guests on Inner Source is the heroine on June Foster’s latest release, Misty Hollow teacher, Molly Cambridge. Molly, welcome.

I’m so glad to have you here with us today. Will you tell our readers a little about yourself and what has brought you to Misty Hollow, Tennessee?

Thanks, Fay. It’s a privilege to appear on your blog. I’m from the metropolitan area of Nashville. I trained to become an elementary teacher, but if I hadn’t allowed my controlling father to dictate my life, I would’ve learned how to work with illiterate adults. My dad insisted I teach little kids, like my mother and grandmother before her. He said it was a Cambridge tradition, and I didn’t argue with him. But truthfully, my heart goes out to the dear people of the Appalachian Mountains, especially those who are limited by their lack of reading skills. I’ve read a lot on my own and feel qualified to teach adults. I’m planning on opening a learning center in the Misty Hollow Town Hall. Only thing—the stubborn mayor doesn’t quite seem open to the venture.

While you are from Tennessee, what do you find different about Misty Hollow from your hometown of Nashville?

The after school and weekend activities of children in Misty Hollow as compared to those in Nashville is the first thing that comes to mind. My students back home used to play with video games, iPads, and watch TV all weekend. Here the children romp in the forests, discovering ways to make up games using sticks and rocks. They go frog gigging, play hide-and-seek, and learn how to milk a cow.

But another big difference is the ethos of the adults. I ran into a group of men who expect their wives to remain at home, cooking, cleaning, and caring for the children. Literacy instruction wasn’t a high priority. Not all Misty Hollow residents hold to this mindset, however.

Another big difference is the availability of groceries. In Nashville, the mega stores sold every kind of food item imaginable as well as providing a hair salon, a fast food restaurant, a floral shop, and financial institution all under one roof. But I’m partial to the grocery in Misty Hollow because my uncle owns it. He sells homemade items Aunt Sue makes like bar-be-que, boiled peanuts, collard greens, and buttermilk bread.

You champion the cause of teaching adults who struggled to learn to read for whatever reason. When you meet someone who doesn’t know how to read, what problems do you see that they encounter that most of us take for granted as simple tasks, and how do they manage to work around their problems?

When we go to a restaurant, we pick up the menu and read the items available to order. We couldn’t possibly comprehend how difficult it is for an illiterate adult. They have no idea what’s offered. My friend, Joel, compensates by sniffing the air and identifying what’s cooking—like fried chicken. Too, he asks what the special for the day is and orders that. Another trick he uses is saying he forgot his glasses and asks the server to read some of the entrées to him.

When we’re driving and need to locate a certain street but aren’t sure how many blocks away it is, we watch the signs. Not so for illiterate adults. People who can’t read are granted the ability to obtain a driver’s license, but they still encounter difficulties in maneuvering the area, especially if they’re driving in a new environment. Again, Joel compensates by observing the country side. If he’s visiting another farm, he can look for houses, barns, etc.

Reading billboards is impossible and only the pictures give a clue as to the nature of the ad.

Joel once described the problem as if a magic carpet had transported him to China, and he had to decipher the written language there.

What would your advice be to a reader of this blog who knows someone who cannot read? What would you recommend they do for this person, especially one who is timid about letting someone know of their illiteracy?

My author, June Foster, once attended a national reading conference in Canada and the guest speak was John Corcoran. She told me what happened. Amazingly enough, John went all the way through college with an extremely limited reading ability. His book, The Teacher Who Couldn’t Read, delves into the unbelievable journey. Finally, in his thirties, with a private tutor, John mastered the ability to read. I would tell the friend who can’t read about John’s story and explain how it is nothing to be embarrassed about. Around 32 million adults in the US can’t read at a functional level, so I’d remind the person they aren’t alone. There are many local literacy centers, and you could ask the non-reader if they’d like you to help them enroll.

One more question for you, this time as a teacher to a parent. What do you suggest a parent do to encourage a child who might be slow to pick up on reading?

My author’s own daughter had a problem with reading, and she told me about it. In third grade, her daughter still couldn’t read, so my author tutored her privately. That didn’t work as her daughter was a stubborn girl, so my author appointed her older daughter as a tutor. That helped and today her daughter is a teacher herself. But not every parent feels comfortable tutoring. So, I’d suggest enrolling your student in an after school literacy center. Another option is to talk to the classroom teacher and request your child be tested for a reading disorder such as dyslexia. Public schools have special classes for these students. I’d suggest parents keep their child in prayer and remain patient. Never under any circumstances belittle your child for not reading on the level with their peers.

Thank you, Molly. Your story has a unique backdrop and message, and I know that the readers will enjoy their trip to Misty Hollow. I look forward to speaking with your author, June Foster, on Wednesday.

About Misty Hollow:

When two people are cultures apart, only God can bridge the gap.

Molly Cambridge arrives in the tiny Appalachian town of Misty Hollow intent upon bringing literacy to the area’s uneducated women, only to be met by opposition at every turn by the headstrong, unbending mayor. When she asks for use of Town Hall, he refuses her offer to teach without pay and turns her down flat saying he only allows village business conducted there.

Joel Greenfield, son of a poor dirt farmer, is illiterate. When he admits to his passion to turn the family farm into a dairy business, the obstacles are insurmountable. He couldn’t even read the manual on how to use farming machinery, much less generate the necessary capital. His father’s objections further frustrate his desires.

When Joel offers Molly use of the old barn on the Greenfield property, they discover an irresistible attraction for each other. But the mayor has plans of his own to break them up, send Molly back to Nashville, and seize the Greenfield farm for himself. Can Molly and Joel overcome the hurdles to fulfilling their dreams and find their way to each other? Only God has the answers.

More About the Author:

An award-winning author, June Foster is a retired teacher with a BA in education and MA in counseling. June’s book Give Us This Day was a finalist in EPIC’s eBook awards and a finalist in the National Readers Choice Awards for best first book. Ryan’s Father was one of three finalists in the published contemporary fiction category of the Oregon Christian Writers Cascade Writing Contest and Awards. Deliver Us was a finalist in COTT’s Laurel Awards. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood Series, Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, and Deliver Us, and Hometown Fourth of July. Ryan’s Father is published by WhiteFire Publishing. Red and the Wolf, a modern day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, is available from Amazon.com. The Almond Tree series, For All Eternity, Echoes From the Past, What God Knew, and Almond Street Mission are available at Amazon.com. June enjoys writing stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. Recently June has seen publication of Christmas at Raccoon Creek, Lavender Fields Inn, Misty Hollow, and Restoration of the Heart. Visit June at junefoster.com.

Character Interview: Hayley Blankenship from Redemption’s Whisper by Kathleen E. Friesen

Today’s guest is Hayley Blankenship, the heroine of Kathleen E. Friesen’s Redemption’s Whisper Hayley, thank you for joining us today to share a little about the new release.

So, you’re from Toronto, and you’ve left the big city of Saskatoon. Has the move taken a lot of adjustment?

Oh, yeah. Big time adjustment! But while leaving Toronto was an act of desperation, my move away from the city to the farm was based on hope.

You’ve had a lot of ups and downs due to your own decision making. Without giving away too much of the story, we’d love to hear what you’ve learned through your struggles?

It took some time and many prayers by some special people, but I’m finally learning to leave the past behind and look forward to the future God planned for me.

Your hero, Trevor, walks a line between farmer and doing the unique job he loves, but he struggles with accepting the goodness of God. Based upon your struggles, what would you say to someone else who puts a roadblock up when it comes to accepting God’s grace?

You’re only hurting yourself. No, that’s not true. When you refuse God’s grace, you put up walls of bitterness that keep you prisoner and keep others—even those who love you—out.

What’s the most unique thing you’ve done since you’ve returned to Saskatoon or maybe even since you’ve taken up residence with Franklin and Laureen?

I don’t want to give too much away, but it was incredible. Gross and exhausting, but amazing.

The truth of Romans 8:28 is that God is in the details and that He works all things out to our good. Would you care to talk about how He was in the details of your life, even when you were making bad decisions?

When it came to making bad decisions, I made some doozies. Because I’d become convinced I was unloved and unlovable, I pursued love no matter the cost. Turned out, that lifestyle cost much more than I’d ever dreamed.

But for some reason, God never gave up on me. He sent me to Saskatoon, even though I thought that was my idea. He introduced me to people who changed my life—and my perceptions of Him. He was there, through everything.

Thank you, Hayley. Redemption’s Whisper officially releases today, and this Sunday is Easter. I know that our readers will love your story that shows the awesome power of redemption. I look forward to speaking with author on Monday.

About the Author:

Kathleen Friesen writes contemporary stories of faith that overcomes tough trials and deep heartaches. Her desire is for her readers to see themselves in the characters of her stories, and to realize that Jesus Christ is the true hero. Kathleen spent her childhood in the Pacific Northwest and, after marrying the man of her dreams, survived the first thirty years of married life on the Canadian prairies, where they raised three fantastic children. Now she and her patient husband, Ron, live in the beautiful Okanagan Valley of British Columbia.

More About Redemption’s Whisper:

Desperate to escape her past, Hayley Blankenship flies from Toronto to the Saskatoon home of Pastor Dave and Lydia Harris, the only people who may be able to help her. If she doesn’t find a reason to hope, she may give in to the temptation to end it all. If only someone could love her, in spite of what she’s done.

Trevor Hiebert aces the interview for his dream job in Toronto, but he’s torn. His beloved parents need him, and while he doesn’t want to let them down, he craves the affirmation he hopes to find in the big city. But on the flight home to Saskatoon, he meets an intriguing, gorgeous redhead with dark secrets of her own. Can these two troubled souls gain the peace they need—and in the process, find love?

About Nila’s Hope:

Just when her career as a carpenter and a relationship with handsome co-worker Will Jamison are within reach, Nila Black’s abusive ex-boyfriend is released from prison. He’s out of jail, out for revenge, and making promises she knows he’ll keep. Nila will do whatever it takes to save her friends from the evil that will come their way if she doesn’t put distance between them-even if it means abandoning her new-found faith. It will take a miracle and an angelic messenger to show Nila that God is her greatest protector. He has never left her side, and He wants only the best for her and for the man she loves.

Inner Source previously interviewed Nila and Kathleen regarding Nila’s Hope.

Character Interview: Melody Reese from Victoria Buck’s Killswitch

perf5.000x8.000.inddToday’s special guest is Melody Reese from Victoria Buck’s near-future adult Dystopian novel, Killswitch. Welcome, Melody. You are quite a character. Actually, you’re one that I couldn’t wait to see again. While Chase Sterling might be the hero of Wake the Dead and Killswitch, you are most definitely the true heroine. Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Wow, I really don’t feel like a heroine. I feel like I let Chase down when I left him to face everything on his own. Of course, I had no choice. Now, I’m so glad he found me. Found us—me and the rest of my group here in this branch of the underground. I was a Christian living in a society no longer accepting of people like me and so I went into hiding. But before I did, I wrote computer code to help the Underground Church, and I hid it in Chase. It was risky for both of us but I knew God had a plan. With His help, Chase and I will make it all work. But I don’t know how he feels about me. I know what I want. I’m not sure Chase knows what he wants.

In the first novel, Chase was quite a different character. I’d love to have your insight on the changes that you’ve seen in him since everything happened.

When the government sent me away, and Chase went rogue, I missed a lot of the critical moments that helped shape him into the man he is today. I can’t believe he’s so different. So willing to be a servant, instead of being served. I see a hint of that old ego once in a while, but he’s a new man. I’m not talking about him being a transhuman, which is what he is and he won’t let me forget it. But he changed on the inside. His character is different. Still, we’re worlds apart because I’m a Christian and he’s… He’s on his way. I know it. It seems like there’s just no time to get inside his head on this issue. But I believe he’ll come around.

You’re sort of an expert on artificial intelligence. How has that helped you deal with what’s going on inside of Chase?

My education is in AI. I’m kind of a prodigy, but I just couldn’t do it—I couldn’t go down that road that’s so far from the one I walk with Christ. Now I see a purpose for all the training forced on me by the government. The knowledge I have helps me help Chase, of course. But so much is going on inside him that I don’t understand. His abilities are beyond me. God definitely has His hand on this man.

Can you give us an idea of what it’s like to live in the future? How do you hold on to hope? Where do you find peace in the midst of hatred? Do you think you’ll survive and be able to live without looking over your shoulder all the time?

Everything about the world I live in seemed to come in an exponential shift. Technology, society—it all changed. For years—decades—it seemed gradual, harmless. And then all of a sudden it was a different kind of world. As for hope, it’s hard. I know the only solution is Christ’s return and it can’t be far off. Until then, we just have to endure. As for peace, it’s all about what’s deep-down inside because there is no peace left on this planet. I think I will survive the evil rule pressing in on me. I don’t think there will ever be a day I’m not looking over my shoulder. Not in this lifetime.

You’re living in a place and a time where there is much peril. It’s almost certain that the human race is moving in that direction. What advice can you give to the generations that will eventually live through what you and others are facing in Killswitch?

That’s a tough question for someone who’s running for her life. I guess I’d say to remember that good or bad, it’s temporary. Hold on to your faith that God will get you through. Don’t stop loving. Don’t be ruled by fear. Speak up even if Christianity is outlawed. Like a lot of others, I learned to keep quiet. I have a feeling Chase is going to change all that. It scares me, but I’ll be right beside him. I hope we’re never separated again. But I don’t know what my future holds. None of us knows. Only Jesus.

More About Killswitch:

In the near future, fugitive Chase Sterling evades the transhuman life his creators intended him to lead. He connects with the Underground Church, confident his enhanced strength and intelligence make him the perfect guardian for those forced into a strange and secret existence. What could possibly go wrong? His unimpressed bodyguard is out to get him, his affection for a certain young woman may not be mutual, and a deceitful recruit accompanies Chase on a rescue mission . . . with plans to kidnap him. The leader of the underground is dying and the government is closing in. The super powers Chase relies on are switched off by an enemy he thought he had escaped. It’s enough to make a transhuman give up. Will he find the courage to keep going before all humanity is lost? You can see the trailer for Killswitch here.

WakeTheDead_h11557_300About Wake the Dead:

What if the first man reborn of an evolutionary leap doesn’t like his new life? Is escape even possible? The time is right for introducing the world to the marvels of techno-medical advancements. An influential man, one loved and adored, is needed for the job, and who better than celebrity Chase Sterling? After suffering injuries no one could survive Chase is rebuilt like no one has ever seen before. In the not-too-distant future a man–if he can still be called a man–breaks away from the forces taking over his life and finds new purpose in the secret world of hiding believers.

photo (7)About the Author:

Victoria Buck is a lifelong resident of Central Florida. She clings to the Gospel, serves in her local church, relishes time spent writing, and curiously contemplates the future, and she brings that future to life in her novels.

You can connect with Victoria at her website, at her author page, on Twitter, and at her publisher’s site, Pelican Book Group.

Character Interview: Wendy Robichaud from 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status by Cynthia T. Toney

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status FC MedToday’s guest is Wendy Robichaud. Wendy is back for another interview now that she is starring in her second novel, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, written by Cynthia T. Toney. Wendy, tell the readers what you’ve been doing since your first novel, 8 Notes to a Nobody a/k/a Bird Face.

In this first semester of high school, Gayle has become one of my two best friends! If you remember Gayle, she was one of the Brainiacs in eighth grade who hung around with John (John-Monster). When John committed suicide, Gayle was devastated, and I wanted so much to help her get through her grief. I got to know her better, and we are both on the track team. But there’s even more to our relationship than meets the eye.

Of course, I remain interested in animal rescue and also enjoy helping my puppy, Belle, grow up healthy and happy.

This story finds you on the verge of a whole new life, not only starting high school, but other things are going on. Would you like to tell us about some of those changes?

I’m so happy for my mom because she has found the perfect man to love and spend the rest of her life with. He is Daniel, Alice’s father, so that’s even more special for me. Alice reached out to me in eighth grade, and she has enriched my life. Now she, her father, and her little brother are part of my family. Alice and I have our differences, but I wouldn’t want to be without my new sister.

My relationship with my real dad has continued to improve. I thank God that Dad found Alcoholics Anonymous.

I have worked to get over most of my shyness, learning to reach out to people and express myself well. I slip up and say something totally Bird Face at times, but I’m doing better.

David, the boy I had a crush on in eighth grade, has started asking me out. I am thrilled!

I remember my early high school years. I was scared to death. One of my biggest fears still haunts my dreams today—the high school locker combination. I still remember it, and … uh-hum … many years later, I dream that I’m late for class, and I can’t get the combination to work. I’d like to know if there is anything that frightens you about entering high school.

Remembering where your locker and classes are located can be a challenge in a big school during those first few days! Going from being one of the oldest kids in school to one of the youngest is scary, too. There are always people who try to make someone else feel bad, but I’m working on not letting that get to me.

You have a little family mystery going on. I don’t want you to give it away, but I’d love to know what you learned that had you hunting for answers.

Wow, I’ve always been such a curious person who can’t ignore a mystery, especially if it involves me personally or someone in my family. Do you think that’s because I grew up as an only child? Anyway, I love looking at old photos. I sometimes feel that I’m right there with the people in the setting of the photo. It’s their eyes that draw me in. Well, when my neighbor and surrogate grandmother, Mrs. Villaturo, showed me a photo of herself with two of my family members I didn’t even know she knew—and one I’d never heard of—you can imagine how I simply had to find out more.

I have to tell you. Number ten on your list made me go, “Ahh …” I couldn’t think of anything else to add to the list, but I’m wondering if after reaching number ten, if you have found there might be a number eleven, and if so, what might it be?

I think Step 11 might be “Agreeing to have God in our lives.” Once you get to know a boy as a friend, you should know where he stands on the subject of God. Often girls forget about that when they fall for a guy.

That’s definitely an awesome bit of advice.

Thank you for coming back to talk with me, Wendy. I look forward to speaking with your author, Cynthia T. Toney, later this week.

More About 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status:

Wendy Robichaud is on schedule to have everything she wants in high school: two loyal best friends, a complete and happy family, and a hunky boyfriend she’s had a crush on since eighth grade–until she and Mrs. Villaturo look at old photo albums together. That’s when Mrs. V sees her dead husband and hints at a 1960s scandal down in Cajun country. Faster than you can say “crawdad,” Wendy digs into the scandal and into trouble. She risks losing boyfriend David by befriending Mrs. V’s deaf grandson, alienates stepsister Alice by having a boyfriend in the first place, and upsets her friend Gayle without knowing why. Will Wendy be able to prevent Mrs. V from being taken thousands of miles away? And will she lose all the friends she’s fought so hard to gain?

8 Notes to a NobodyAbout 8 Notes to a Nobody:

“Funny how you can live your days as a clueless little kid, believing you look just fine … until someone knocks you in the heart with it.”

Wendy Robichaud doesn’t care one bit about being popular like good-looking classmates Tookie and the Sticks–until Brainiac bully John-Monster schemes against her, and someone leaves anonymous sticky-note messages all over school. Even the best friend she always counted on, Jennifer, is hiding something and pulling away. But the spring program, abandoned puppies, and high school track team tryouts don’t leave much time to play detective. And the more Wendy discovers about the people around her, the more there is to learn.When secrets and failed dreams kick off the summer after eighth grade, who will be around to support her as high school starts in the fall?

8 Notes to a Nobody received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval. In its original edition, Bird Face, it won a 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, bronze, in the category Pre-teen Fiction Mature Issues.

Toney, Cynthia- 006 3x5 BW.ret2.cropAbout the Author:

Cynthia T. Toney is the author of the Bird Face series for teens, including 8 Notes to a Nobody and 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status. She’s always had trouble following directions and keeping her foot out of her mouth, so it’s probably best that she is now self-employed. In her spare time, when she’s not cooking Cajun or Italian food, Cynthia grows herbs and makes silk throw pillows. If you make her angry, she will throw one at you. A pillow, not an herb. Well, maybe both.  Cynthia has a passion for rescuing dogs from animal shelters and encourages others to adopt a pet from a shelter and save a life. She enjoys studying the complex history of the friendly southern U.S. from Georgia to Texas, where she resides with her husband and several canines. She is a member of ACFW, Writers on the Storm (The Woodlands, TX), and Catholic Writers Guild.

You can connect with Cynthia on her website, her blog, her Facebook Author Page, and on Twitter.

 

Character Interviews: Molly, Lenni, and Bianca from Anna Marie Kittrell’s Storm Season

STORM SEASONToday, I’m attempting to do something I would normally find impossible: interview three teenage girls at one time, but I feel as if I know each of them, and I believe I can get them to speak one at a time so that I can be assured of accurately recording their responses.

So, please meet Molly Sanders, Lenni Flemming, and Bianca Ravenwood of Anna Marie Kittrell’s young adult series, Redbend High School (and I believe a series for all ages). Today, we’re talking about the novel, Storm Season, in which they share center stage.

Okay, girls, it’s the last year of high school for you, and each of you have been through a lot. I’d like to know how you feel about this final year when you will all be together.

Lenni: Do you have a tissue? I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to burst in to tears so quickly. It’s just that the thought of not seeing my two best friends every day just kind of rips my heart out, you know? Did you see the way Bianca just rolled her eyes at me? It’s things like that I’ll miss so much. I don’t think I can talk about it anymore right now—do you happen to have another tissue? Thanks.

Molly: I’m excited and terrified at the exact same time. Excited, because even after everything we’ve been through, we’ve managed to remain friends. At the beginning of my freshman year, I would have NEVER envisioned Bianca and me forging a friendship—not in a million years! But I truly believe God kept the three of us together for a reason, and that we will remain close even after graduation. Why would He bring us this far just to sever us at such a crucial time in our lives? Knowing that God is rooting for us is a pretty good feeling. Maybe terrified was too strong of a word. Insecure is a better adjective. Even though I know God has special plans for each of our lives, I’m not sure exactly what the future holds. Although I believe Lenni, Bianca, and I share an emotional bond, we will be in different physical locations—which will be very tough to get used to. Could I borrow one of those tissues?

Bianca: You don’t happen have an extra barf-bag do you? I’m having a hard time digesting all of this melodrama. I’m just joking—don’t get uptight, Molly. Okay, I’m being serious now. I consider Molly and Lenni my sisters. We’ve been through some very tough situations together. For me, the end of this year will bring the toughest challenge I’ve ever faced—real life. An apartment over a thousand miles away in California. Enrollment in a huge performing arts school. Driving on the interstate. And even though I’ve been through the fire many times before…I’ve never been through it alone. Without these guys. I’m really going to miss them. I’ll be creeping their pages so much, they’ll block me from FriendFlitter. Hey, let go! That was not an invitation for a group hug—you’re messing up my hair!

During the Spring Break of your senior year, you faced some peril and met someone. I’d like to hear from each of you (one at a time, please), how you feel this event changed your thinking or may have even changed your life personally.

Molly: It’s hard for me to think about that—how close we came to letting Raley Hale tear our friendship apart. It actually causes my cheeks to burn. I guess, for me, that event caused me to put more thought into the situations I involve myself in. If I’m placing myself before others, I seem to recognize my selfishness more easily. I also try to line up my relationships with God’s word. If I don’t want to read in the Bible what God has to say about what I’m doing or what a friend is doing—that’s always a bad sign.

Lenni: Molly, are you okay? Your face is really, really red. What was the question, again? Oh, never mind. I remember. My way of thinking has changed so much since Raley Hale blew into, and, thankfully, out of our lives. I depend on the Holy Spirit a lot more now. If I’m really paying attention, I get this little tingle all through my body when something isn’t quite right. It’s kind of like a super power. I call it my “Spirit-Sense.” Yeah, I knew Bianca would laugh at that, but I don’t care. It’s real, and it works. When I think back about the Raley days—a timeframe I refer to as the Great Depression—I can remember feeling that tingle most all the time. But I ignored it, and tried swatting it away like a housefly. Now I know that doesn’t turn out so well.

Bianca: Growing up in Oklahoma, I used to believe tornadoes were the ultimate danger. Raley Hale—I can hardly say that name without gagging—taught me that subtle dangers are sometimes deadlier. He prayed on each of our vulnerabilities, and although I hate to admit it, he was really good at it. For me, his being alienated from his family was what drew me in. I had similar feelings of abandonment. We both had sentimental objects that we treasured: Raley had a pocket watch given to him by a mentor. I had a locket that belonged to my deceased mother. He made specific associations with each of us, and then used his connection as a tool to get inside our hearts—and rip them to shreds. I used to pray for God to erase the memory of Raley Hale from my head. But in time, I’ve learned to use his memory to make myself a better person. It keeps me from taking advantage of others, because I know how much it hurts to be taken advantage of. And it keeps me from falling into the same trap. I almost lost my two best friends over nothing but a pack of lies. No way I’m ever letting that happen again.

Each of you had an eventful high school career where you faced difficulties, dangers, new revelations. Do you believe that what happened to you before might have affected the way you handled the events that happened in the park during Spring Break? If so, how?

Molly: I believe past occurrences had a lot to do with how I responded to Raley Hale, but I’m not proud of that. Raley somehow dragged up the insecurities I used to have about Bianca back before she and I were friends. Even though I had forgiven Bianca for mistreating me when we were freshmen, all of that hurt and anger bubbled too quickly back to the surface when Raley scratched at it. In hindsight, I learned that sometimes I have to check myself—better yet, have God check me—to make sure I’m still “clean.” What I’m trying to say is that for me, harboring bad feelings is like an addiction. Let’s say I’m thinking about something good—like how far God has brought me in life, and everything he’s carried me through—but in the process, maybe I started to think about how badly I was initially treated and how unfair that was. Before I realize it, I’m having a pity party and God isn’t being glorified at all. Suddenly, I’m mad at the person who mistreated me all over again—the person I’ve supposedly forgiven. Today, I try not to bury bad feelings, but to completely excavate them, and then give them over to God.

Lenni: At first meeting Raley Hale reminded me a lot of when I first met Molly—no offense, Molly. I thought it would go the same way; we would all have a new friend to hang out with. We all seemed to get along so great. Raley was funny and interesting. But he was also cute, and before I knew it, I was falling for him—falling for the fake him, I should say. Not only did I almost lose my best friends, I almost lost my boyfriend, Saul, the nicest, sweetest boy on the whole planet. You’d think I would have learned my lesson back in my sophomore year when I befriended a dangerous girl that nearly destroyed my reputation and my friendship with Molly and Bianca. Apparently I didn’t. I just really love people, and I think that’s a good thing. God made me that way, so it has to be, right? At least this time, I can say I rode out the storm in my own skin, instead of pretending to be someone that I’m not. And I’m glad. Because I really didn’t want to chop off my hair again. It’s finally grown all the way out.

Bianca: I’m trying to think of how my past experiences impacted the situation with Raley in a positive way, but like Molly and Lenni, I also fell for the same old tricks. Jealousy, I’ve learned, is the emotion I struggle the most with. Man, do I hate to admit that. For my own sake, I have to believe that I was quicker to apologize this time, and quicker to forgive. If I don’t forgive others, God doesn’t forgive me. I try to always keep that in mind. Sometimes it’s a tough pill to swallow, but it’s the difference between life and death. Besides, as we’ve all heard before, refusing to forgive someone doesn’t hurt them—it hurts you. I haven’t just heard it, I’ve experienced it. And I’ve never felt more alive than when I’ve forgiven someone. Oftentimes that “someone” is me.

Okay, one more question for the three of you. Where do you expect yourselves to be in life when you walk through the doors of Redbend High School’s ten year reunion?

Lenni: Following graduation, I’m attending medical school. I was planning to be a nurse because I enjoy helping people, but then I decided to become a doctor instead. Maybe a pediatrician, since I love to be around children and they seem to like me. When I walk through those Redbend High doors, I’ll have a shiny stethoscope around my neck. And one of those little penlights in my front pocket.

Molly: I’m enrolling in Redbend College to pursue a degree in education. My dream is to co-teach with Mrs. Piper in the same creative writing classroom where I found myself—and Christ. It will be amazing to be on the other side of the big desk next time around. So, God willing, in ten years walking through those doors will be commonplace to me. Redbend High holds so many great memories. There’s no place on earth I’d rather be.

Bianca: Well, first of all, ten years from now I plan on walking across a red carpet to get to the doors of Redbend High. Molly—you’re in charge of rolling it out for me, since you’ll still be here. You’ll more than likely be on the reunion committee. Then, after my bodyguard opens the door for me and my famous celebrity escort, I plan to turn my nose up at the décor, look down on everyone else’s clothing while flaunting my designer labels, begrudgingly sign autographs for an hour, and then be whisked away in the back of a stretch limousine. No, I’m just kidding. I would never flaunt a designer label—unless my name is on it. I also plan to have my own clothing line.

This last question is for Bianca, as I’ve noted that you’ve allowed Molly and Lenni to answer each question first, and I sense that you have something more to say. Bianca, I’d like to know—with your fashion sense and know-how, why acting takes center stage over fashion design?

Well, as I just mentioned, I’ve been putting some thought into fashion design lately. I’m just not sure anyone will get what I’m trying to express through my creations. Unlike many designers, I’m not really out to make a lot of money, and I don’t really care what’s in style. I started out designing my own clothes because I couldn’t afford to buy new ones. The thrift store was my oasis. I could buy a variety of different styles and piece them together to create my own look. It allowed me to be unique and stretched my creativity. To create a clothing line that is affordable, yet still considered “designer” would be pretty awesome. And I would definitely keep that vintage, thrift store feel to every piece.

As for my acting taking center stage over fashion design…acting is my first love. I suspect it has something to do with my little brother’s death and my mother’s suicide attempt when I was young. When my mother was sent to the mental institution following her drug overdose, I felt I had to invent a different life in order to cover up what was really happening in my own. I learned to be something I wasn’t, and it was really easy for me—so much so, I began to confuse reality with imagination. Through the years, I learned to accept my life experiences as tools from God, even the really terrible occurrences. When I decided to see every trial as a lesson and began asking myself what I had learned from each experience, my life changed for the better. Now I can separate what is real from what is imaginary. But I still love the freedom that exists solely in the imagination. That is where I flourish. And for that reason, I will win an Oscar one day. Make that Oscars, plural.

Now, Molly and Lenni, I can see that you have something to say. So, with regard to Bianca’s career choice, what would be your advice to her?

Lenni: I would say she should follow her acting dream. She’s definitely on the right path. And with regards to her fashion designing, she should design a really cute line of clothing for doctors. I’ve been looking online, and there just really isn’t much to choose from. Talk about bland. And shoes—there should definitely be more fashionable doctors’ shoes. Oh, and when she comes to the reunion and walks across the red carpet, she should maybe think twice before wearing puce, being a redhead and all. I read that in a fashion magazine last week.

Molly: I can’t picture Bianca being anything but successful, no matter what career she chooses. But I’ve seen her acting first hand, and she nails every role. The best advice I can give to her is to remember to honor God, who bestowed her with talents, gifts, and abilities. I’ve heard the stories, and I know how crazy and confusing it can get out there—especially in Hollywood. Just be true to who God created you to be, Bianca. And when you’re up for that first Oscar, Lenni and I had better receive front-row tickets in our mailboxes. And backstage passes, too.

More About Storm Season:

Sometimes the shelter is more dangerous than the storm.

A courageous stranger risks his life to save Molly, Lenni, and Bianca from a deadly tornado, leaving the girls thunderstruck. As his injuries heal, the hero claims the girls’ hearts while reclaiming his strength. In their friendship strong enough to withstand the brutal winds of jealously, heartache, and betrayal? Or will graduation from Redbend High really mean good-bye forever?

These three wonderful characters have their own stories to tell as well:

SECOND BESTIEAbout Second Bestie:

New to the small community of Redbend, Molly Sanders is delighted when she and Lenni Flemming become instant friends during the final weeks of her first Oklahoma summer. However, Bianca Ravenwood, Lenni’s best friend and self-proclaimed “witch” in training, is less than thrilled. In fact, she’s cursing mad, vowing to destroy Molly while honing her craft in the halls of Redbend High School.

DIZZYAbout Dizzy Blonde:

All of her life, Lenni has been the perfect child, but still her parents are divorcing. Invisible and angry, Lenni trades her innocent princess image for the rebellious likeness of her favorite rock icon, Dizzy. In an effort to shed the old Lenni, she turns her back on those who love her most, trading true friendship for a dangerous affiliation with a shady upperclassman. When deception and rumors threaten to ruin Lenni’s life, she learns the value of good friends and the importance of an honorable reputation. But can this realization save her from the clutches of danger? Or was the lesson learned too late?

LINEAGEAbout Lineage:

Bianca can’t walk away from her family—she’ll have to run.

Following the death of her mother, Bianca and her dad are on their own. But when a redheaded stranger at the funeral claims to be her biological father, Bianca’s reality crumbles. She soon finds herself trapped between the alcoholism of one father, and the wicked schemes of another—with no way to escape.

Anna K Author Pic 15About the Author, Anna Marie Kittrell:

Anna works as a middle school secretary in her beloved hometown of Anadarko, Oklahoma, where she resides with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband, Tim. She has written for as long as she can remember. She still has most of her tattered creations—leftover stories she was unable to sell on the playground for a dime—written in childish handwriting on notebook paper, bound with too many staples. Her love of storytelling has grown throughout the years, and she is thrilled her tales are now worth more than ten cents.

You can catch up with Anna on her Amazon Author Page, on Facebook, or by e-mail at kittrellbooks@gmail.com.

Character Interview: Merial from Flood, A Wife for Shem

cover imageToday’s guest on Inner Source is Merial, the heroine from Laurie Boulden’s terrific Biblical historical novel, Flood, A Wife for Shem. 

Merial, my first question has to be about your life in the days before you met Noah and his family. How would you describe it? Before? I think it was about fear and hiding. Just walking between the shelters, who would someone grab me? Some mornings there was the stench of death in the air. None of us would dare step outside. Jermi was the only one I felt safe with, for a little while. When he started to change, I would run into the fields as early in the morning as I could. I stayed away as late as I dared. It wasn’t living. I was just trying to survive. I didn’t want to end up like Jermi or Rosen.

When I read your story, I sensed that you felt a call toward the woods. You tried to get your dear friend to go with you, but he would not, and then he could not. What do you think that call was for you? I think it saved my life. Rithi, I mean Cherith, put that thought in my head. I was so young, I forgot about her, but I never completely forgot what she told me. When I first saw the trees gathered together like that, up by the witch’s lair, my heart thudded. I knew, no matter how far away it seemed, I was going to make it there.

Now, I’d love to hear the differences that you saw in Noah and his family versus those you left behind? The ones we left behind. My heart still mourns for them. My mother never knew love. She’d been forced into relationships since she was not much more than a child. I can see that now. She made her life the best she could, not caring about anyone or anything. Rosen was like her. I still feel a bit sick inside. I was scared of my sister. Scared of both of them.

Shem and the others, I was never scared of them. I was afraid they wouldn’t want anything to do with me, a filthy village rat. They were so different. I remember the first time I spied on them, the three brothers were working together. Gangs in the village worked together, but they meant to harm others or turn on themselves. Shem, Ham, and Japheth, they were felling trees big enough to make the earth shake, and they seemed to enjoy being together with a purpose.

I think I was overwhelmed when I met the rest of their families. Naamah, I hope you get to meet her someday. Her skin is the most beautiful color of ebony. She has scars, she calls them her battle wounds. But there is no battle in her eyes. She is kind and loving. They all are. You sit beside Naamah, she’ll tell stories that are as beautiful as the tapestries she weaves.

I think that’s the difference. Being with Shem and his family, I feel drawn into something special. In the village, everyone was for themselves. Survive or die.

If you could have returned to the village you left behind before the days of the flood, what would you have said to the people? I’m not sure what I would say. I didn’t want them to die. Not by a flood and not by those hideous creatures. I wanted to tell Mother about Noah, bring her far enough away from the village that she might listen to me. Noah said anyone could have a relationship with God. I wanted her to know that. But I never got the chance to try.

I’m very curious in your attraction to Noah’s son, Shem. What drew you to him to make you want to be his wife and to follow his family in building something that others ridiculed? (giggles) Shem, yes, wow- there is something about him, isn’t there? You know, if I hang on his arm, he can actually lift me off my feet? Even carrying little Arphaxad on my back. I don’t know, there’s a connection between us. He looks at me and I feel… important. I feel like this is who I am. That sounds weird, doesn’t it?

First time I saw the ark I thought it was a bare mountain. That thing was huge. I touched it. How could anyone see that and not believe Noah’s warnings? I don’t think I ever doubted. I didn’t understand, but even if Shem hadn’t wanted me, I still wanted to be on that boat. Being with Shem – I think we helped each other through the storm. It’s like God knew we would be exactly what the other needed.

More about Flood: A Wife for Shem:

Merial, of the village of Amon Ra, looks to the fields and forests to escape the wickedness that prevails in the lives of the villagers. What she finds there offers more than she could ever hope. But those she cares about remain trapped in the village, and Merial will have to choose to join with the protected family of Noah, leaving the others behind, or be destroyed with all who remain of her kin. A Wife for Shem takes readers on an incredible journey through a world condemned, aboard the rudderless ark upon the waters of a worldwide flood, and into a changed world where life begins anew. It’s more than the romance of Noah’s middle son, it’s the love of God for his creation and the path to redemption.

Flood: A Wife for Shem has received three novel awards from the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference (2013, 2012, and 2010).

author imageMore about the Author:

Dr. Laurie Boulden has been writing  since she was a child. Her favorite class in high school was Writing Science Fiction. Having moved recently, she found that she had a collection of three tubs of various sizes, each holding a variety of spirals. Spirals filled with stories, ideas, poetry, thoughts–all those things that make a writer who she is. Even with a love of writing and toying with stories off and on forever, she never really felt pulled to publish until a few years ago. She earned a Bachelor degree at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, and taught elementary science for a decade at Barnard Elementary in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She earned her Masters in Education from Oklahoma State University in Stillwater.

Laurie moved to Florida and earned her PhD in Education from Walden University. Lots of education, both learning and teaching. It is what she loves to do. But stories still spin in her mind, and she can’t help but put words on a page. Wanting to see her name on a book in a bookstore. The desire led to a search for local writing opportunities. She found the Florida Christian Writers’ Conference, and attending that conference for several years has helped her to hone her craft. It has fed her spirit and lifted her heart. Flood is a result of the conference, as well as several other projects. You can learn more about Flood at Laurie’s website: website Get On the Ark (www.GetOnTheArk.com), which is set to house additional Flood stories.

Meet the Heroes of Unlikely Merger: Daniel Knight

Lexington, KYToday, we’re putting out last hero on the spot. Please meet Daniel Knight who is moonlighting for Knight-Link & Associates while working on one of his favorite type of projects. 

Daniel, tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do when you’re not working?

I was born in Lexington, Kentucky and spent my childhood on a farm in Versailles, Kentucky. I moved to Boulder, Colorado to pursue my degree in architectural engineering and fell in love with the area. That’s now my full-time home, but I travel back to Kentucky whenever my uncle needs me on a project. When I’m at home in Colorado, I’m always outdoors. On my days off, I love to hike and ride horseback or mountain bike. In the winter, I ski and snowboard. When I’m in Kentucky, my off days are usually spent working on my grandparents’ horse farm, fishing, or horseback riding.

You recently met with Mercy Lacewell of Lacewell Limited regarding a merger or a buyout of your company. Tell me what immediately came to mind when you first met Ms. Lacewell.

I laugh every time I think of my first encounter with Mercy, I’m not sure which one of us was more surprised. But what I remember most about that meeting is her startling blue eyes. As blue as the Colorado skies. A guy could go into cardiac arrest caught in her gaze.

What do you remember most about Mercy as a result of that meeting?

Her gentle spirit. Mercy is a nurturer. She walked into an uncomfortable situation at my uncle’s firm, but she turned it around in no time, and when she finished, they knew she cared about them and their situation. The girl’s got spunk. She reminds me a lot of UK basketball’s most famous fan—Ashley Judd—when she was younger, of course.

Tell us how you really feel about Mercy Lacewell. Don’t be shy.

No one ever accused me of being shy. Mercy’s a thoroughbred. She’s beautiful, she’s real, and she’s tougher than she looks. But like a thoroughbred, she’s a little skittish at first. I knew to keep my distance and take it easy with her. She was only in town for a couple of days, but after those few hours with her, I definitely wanted to get to know her better.

Do you think that you and Mercy could have a future together? If so, tell us why you think you’re the man for Mercy.

If God is in it, yes, I know we can have a future together. I don’t go anywhere He doesn’t lead, and I know Mercy feels the same way. I’m a Colorado transplant, but I love it there. I’ve no intention of leaving. And Mercy needs to be near her family. We have a lot in common—our faith, our mutual love of the great outdoors—skiing, running, hiking. And she’s a carnivore. She prefers a good slab of prime rib to a bowl of vegetables. Now that, my friend, is a woman I could spend the rest of my life with.

Unlikely Merger Cover

More About Unlikely Merger:

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?.

You can meet Daniel today by reading his chapter of Unlikely Merger at Write Integrity Press.

Our authors at Write Integrity Press love collaborating on novellas. Here are a few of our other works:

A Dozen Apologies:

Mara Adkins, a promising fashion designer, has fallen off the ladder of success, and she can’t seem to get up.In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a A DOZEN APOLOGIES FINAL FRONT COVER (282x425)coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better.

Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job than she ever thought possible.

Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

LOVE BOAT BACHELOR CoverThe Love Boat Bachelor:

Romance is a joke.After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too. Brent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry? Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise. As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.

Meet the heroes from previous chapters: Dustin Rogers, Landon Gates, Ric Montoya, Gabriel “Gabe” Mann, Talon Hawthorne. Douglas “Digger” Grant, Levi Shepherd, Steve Leclerc, and Reuben “Rube” Miller.

Remember, voting for your favorite hero starts tomorrow.

More from our authors:

Marji Laine: A Horse of a Different Color

Julie Arduini: Our Business Influences Part 5

Meet the Heroes of Unlikely Merger: Reuben Miller

Los Angeles City Skyline At Night

Today, I’d like to introduce Reuben “Rube” Miller, today’s hero from Unlikely Merger.

Reuben, please tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do when you’re not working?

I was born right at Cedars Sinai and raised around the L.A. Metro. When I got into the music industry and all that, next door to Hollywood was a good place for me to stay planted. While I’ve traveled around the world for my work, the City of Angels has always been my home base. At this point, though, I could go anywhere. Colorado, maybe?

When I’m not working, my life isn’t nearly as exciting as people expect. My clubbing days are over, and I’m not a big spender. Most of my extended family is still in the area. We’re close and get together as much as we can. I’ve found a good church where I can be involved behind the scenes. And I spend a lot of time hiding out around my house. I try to attract as little attention as possible, honestly, because it always turns into too much, and it’s almost never good.

You recently met with Mercy Lacewell of Lacewell Limited regarding a merger or a buyout of your company. Tell me what immediately came to mind when you first met Ms. Lacewell.

Mercy is a lovely lady. Sweet, smart, and real. I loved that she didn’t recognize the “rock star” me. That doesn’t happen often, and it was charming.

What do you remember most about Mercy as a result of that meeting?

How she held onto my hand so tightly during the earthquake. It was electric.

Tell us how you really feel about Mercy Lacewell. Don’t be shy.

I’ve never met anyone quite like Mercy. I meet a lot of people in my line of work, but she stands out. She’s smart, clever, conscientious, helpful, and—sometimes—vulnerable. She’s willing to face her fears and insecurities and grow as a person.

My life is changing a lot right now. I want the chance to focus on others instead of whatever Hollywood and the world-at-large thinks of me. I want to follow Jesus wherever he takes me. Mercy is the sort of person I’d want by my side in the future I dream about and pray for.

Do you think that you and Mercy could have a future together? If so, tell us why you think you’re the man for Mercy.

I kept her calm during an earthquake, so I think she’d feel safe with me. I see her strength and her beauty, and I value what she has to offer not only to a husband but to others who need a kind heart, a smile, or an open ear. I’d make sure she had opportunities to share that with people who needed it.

I could give her a life where she’ll always be able dream, grow, take on challenges, and go on adventures. I share her values of following Jesus, staying close with family, and being active, so I think we’re a good match, lifestyle-wise. Besides, we’d have a lot of fun together. Who doesn’t want that?

In case you haven’t been reading the hero’s interviews, and you’d like to know more about Unlikely Merger, you can read Reuben’s chapter, and all of the hero’s chapters at Write Integrity Press.

Unlikely Merger CoverMore About Unlikely Merger:

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

Reuben’s story can be read at Write Integrity Press today.

Our authors at Write Integrity Press love collaborating on novellas. Here are a few of our other works:

A Dozen Apologies:

Mara Adkins, a promising fashion designer, has fallen off the ladder of success, and she can’t seem to get up.In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a A DOZEN APOLOGIES FINAL FRONT COVER (282x425)coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better.

Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job than she ever thought possible.

Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

LOVE BOAT BACHELOR CoverThe Love Boat Bachelor:

Romance is a joke.After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too. Brent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry? Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise. As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.

Meet the heroes from previous chapters: Dustin Rogers, Landon Gates, Ric Montoya, Gabriel “Gabe” Mann, Talon Hawthorne. Douglas “Digger” Grant, Levi Shepherd, and Steve Leclerc.

More from our authors:

Marji Laine: Shake It Up

Julie Arduini: Our Business Influences Part 4

Jennifer Hallmark: Your Comfort Zone by Raelee May Carpenter

Meet the Heroes of Unlikely Merger: Steve Leclerc

New Volvo FH Tank Truck By A WarehouseToday’s hero taking center stage is Steve Leclerc.

Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do when you’re not working?

I’m blessed to have a little farm in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts. It’s one of God’s special places. Oh, and I drive a truck to support the farm, so I guess I’m a farmer when I’m not working.

You recently met with Mercy Lacewell of Lacewell Limited regarding a merger or a buyout of your company. Tell me what immediately came to mind when you first met Ms. Lacewell.

Actually, she’s financing my brother’s trucking firm. She’s cute and funny. At first I thought she was there because she was Daddy’s little girl, but she not only knew a lot about trucks, she was interested in my dreams for my farm. I liked her.

What do you remember most about Mercy as a result of that meeting?

Her ability to laugh at herself. And she had a lot to laugh at. Oh and not getting mad. After all, the mud puddle was really my fault. But I guess what I like most was that she really listened like she cared about me.

Tell us how you really feel about Mercy Lacewell. Don’t be shy.

Wow. I really liked her. No, it goes deeper than that. I really want to spend more time with her. She’s got an inner spirit that just lights up when she talks to you.

Do you think that you and Mercy could have a future together? If so, tell us why you think you’re the man for Mercy.

Oh yeah. I think she’s looking for a way to serve God so we would just click. She’s got a tender heart with an empty place and I’m just aching to fill that up with love.

Unlikely Merger CoverMore About Unlikely Merger:

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

You can read Steve’s chapter in Unlikely Merger today at Write Integrity Press.

Our authors at Write Integrity Press love collaborating on novellas. Here are a few of our other works:

A Dozen Apologies:

Mara Adkins, a promising fashion designer, has fallen off the ladder of success, and she can’t seem to get up.In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a A DOZEN APOLOGIES FINAL FRONT COVER (282x425)coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better.

Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job than she ever thought possible.

Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

LOVE BOAT BACHELOR CoverThe Love Boat Bachelor:

Romance is a joke.After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too. Brent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry? Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise. As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.

Meet the heroes from previous chapters: Dustin Rogers, Landon Gates, Ric Montoya, Gabriel “Gabe” Mann, Talon Hawthorne. Douglas “Digger” Grant, and Levi Shepherd.

The authors of Unlikely Merger are continuing to provide more insight:

Marji Laine: No Joy in Mudville

Julie Arduini: Our Business Influences Part 3

Meet the Heroes of Unlikely Merger: Levi Shepherd

City of St. Louis skyline.Today’s hero, Levi Shepherd comes to us from St. Louis, Missouri. Levi, please tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do when you’re not working?

I live in St. Louis Missouri now, but I grew up in a small town in central Missouri. I didn’t necessarily appreciate it when I was growing up, we’d all kind of complain about it being so boring, but being from a small town and practically growing up outdoors in God’s creation has taught me all kinds of valuable lessons and really shaped who I am today. I attended college at Mizzou (Go Tigers!) and while there were plenty of guys there like me, I was surprised at all of the city boys that grew up right here in Missouri but didn’t know the first thing about all there is to enjoy about rural life. There is so much to learn about God by knowing how to live close to His creation.

I love city life, don’t get me wrong. Living in a city with so much to do and take advantage of is amazing. Going to restaurants, museums, professional sports (Go Cards!) and a really vibrant church are all things I get to take part in because St. Louis is such a remarkable city. But within less than an hour’s drive I can be in the great outdoors. I love a good day of hunting or fishing or canoeing. I guess you could say I have the best of both worlds. I love every minute of it!

You recently met with Mercy Lacewell of Lacewell Limited regarding a merger or a buyout of your company. Tell me what immediately came to mind when you first met Ms. Lacewell.

Well, of course, the first thing that comes to mind any time you meet a woman like Mercy is her beauty. She’s a knockout, but in such a sweet, special kind of way. I couldn’t stop stealing glances at her. I wanted to stare, but that wouldn’t have been gentlemanly. The first thing I thought when I saw her was that I wanted to know more about her!

What do you remember most about Mercy as a result of that meeting?

She’s just a kind, genuine person. I was impressed with her selflessness. To choose to become a nurse in the first place, then to put all of that on hold to serve her Dad … well, not a lot of twenty-somethings today would make that kind of sacrifice, even temporarily.

I felt really comfortable talking to Mercy that first day. Without even trying she got me to open up and yammer on about things I’d been keeping to myself, or only sharing with close friends and family. I was surprised by how much I wanted to share with her about myself. It was as if she knew things about me already, and I just needed to fill in the blanks.

Tell us how you really feel about Mercy Lacewell. Don’t be shy.

She is … super special. Not someone you come across every day. I truly am blessed to have met Mercy. She makes me think about the future in a new way. I’ve had some lofty dreams about the kind of career I want to make for myself, but so far haven’t had the courage to act on those dreams. Mercy made me see my future in a different light. I appreciate her vision. And her listening ear. And her amazing hair, and beautiful smile, and those dazzling eyes … I definitely like the person I can see myself becoming when I’m around Mercy.

Do you think that you and Mercy could have a future together? If so, tell us why you think you’re the man for Mercy.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about a future with Mercy. But things are a little complicated right now. Her father’s company is considering investing in, or outright buying, my employer. I don’t want to be responsible in any way for influencing that decision one way or the other. Then there’s the whole issue of what our professional relationship would be if Lacewell Limited does become my employer. Very complicated.

There are a lot of obstacles to overcome, but I can definitely picture a future for us. Mercy and I have a lot in common. We complement each other. I think we’d make a great team. Those dreams I have for my future have kind of evolved since I met Mercy. When I dream those dreams, there she is, right in the middle of it all. I’d love to be the man to show her the future. To love and serve and protect her. She deserves a wonderful life. And I want to be there to provide it.

I’m just trusting that if it’s part of God’s plan, He’ll make a way for us to be together. Yes, I’m definitely hoping that is His plan!

Unlikely Merger CoverMore About Unlikely Merger:

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

You can read Ric’s chapter today at Write Integrity Press.

Our authors at Write Integrity Press love collaborating on novellas. Here are a few of our other works:

A Dozen Apologies:

Mara Adkins, a promising fashion designer, has fallen off the ladder of success, and she can’t seem to get up.In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a A DOZEN APOLOGIES FINAL FRONT COVER (282x425)coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better.

Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job than she ever thought possible.

Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

LOVE BOAT BACHELOR CoverThe Love Boat Bachelor:

Romance is a joke.After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too. Brent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry? Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise. As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.

Meet the heroes from previous chapters: Dustin Rogers, Landon Gates, Ric Montoya, Gabriel “Gabe” Mann, Talon Hawthorne. and Douglas “Digger” Grant.

Catch up with our other authors:

Marji Laine: Eat Your Heart Out, Uncle Thomas

Julie Arduini: Our Business Influences Part 2

Jennifer Hallmark: Working with Family by Betty Thomason Owens