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Posts from the ‘Character Interviews’ Category

Interview with Kristen Esh, the Heroine of Linda Maran’s The Stranger

Today’s guest is Kristen Esh, the heroine of Author Linda Maran’s The Stranger. I’m so glad to have you here with us Kristen since your story was released on Friday.

Will you tell us a little about your life—as it was and what it has become?

I was alone a lot due to my mom working so much and the arrangement of our living situation. Mom was the live-in help for Ross Maddock, who was a wonderful man, but he was the employer. There was no eating around the table together for meals or holidays. I had no extended relatives so my best friend, Cindy, invited me to her home for dinner and Christmas. Living close to the beach was the bonus of our situation. I loved everything about it…the scent, the sounds, the sunsets and having a great place to hang out with my friends and to walk with Mom on her Sundays off.

Now I live in the country without my ocean. But here there’s a whole set of different smells and views that I have come to love too. I have family…aunts, uncles and cousins. This is still so amazing to me. Especially eating every meal in the company of all or most of them. Cell phones and television are not missed as much as I’d assumed they’d be because I’m too busy and not alone and needy for Social Media.  I also learned how to pray and not until I came here did I realize the importance of prayer.

It’s been a while since I was your age, but as I read your story, I couldn’t help but to think of how I would handle your situation. How difficult was it for you to adapt to the Amish life?

I was totally panicked. Everything and everyone I knew before I arrived to live with my Amish family, was gone. I dressed different, spoke different and came from a completely different background. I was literally a stranger among them. And on top of that, to not have the modern conveniences like electricity or an indoor bathroom was more change than I thought I could deal with. During those first weeks, I cried myself to sleep.

What are some of the things that you miss from your life outside of the Amish community? What in the Amish life do you embrace?

I miss the Jersey Shore environment of sand, ocean and boardwalk activity. I miss wearing my hair down in summer and jeans in winter. I miss getting to places by public transportation or by car. And I miss kissing people ‘hello’ or ‘goodbye.’

I love the feeling of belonging. Of having family and of growing in my faith. I like having simple choices now in what I wear and what to do. I like the clean natural living.

Based on your life experiences, both outside and inside the Amish community, what is one thing that you feel young adults need to know about life in general?

That no matter what changes happen you will be able to get through it and come out OK in the end. That even if you feel you don’t belong or are not one of the crowd, there is a place and others just like you where you do fit and belong and God will lead you there. Trust in who you are on the inside. Pray every day.

More About The Stranger:

When Kristen Esh loses her mom in a tragic accident months before her eighteenth birthday, she suddenly finds herself among Amish relatives she never knew she had. The dramatic change from the Jersey Shore to the remote Stone Arabia in upstate New York is difficult enough, but abiding by the Amish rules and lifestyle is a challenge unlike any other.

When anonymous notes begin to arrive for her to go back to where she came from, Kristen longs for her past life and her mom. As she discovers secrets that unravel her true identity, she finds an unlikely ally in John Wagler, the step-son of her aunt. He lessens Kristen’s fears and encourages her faith.

Interwoven with gradual revelations is the growing love between Kristen and John. One that encourages forgiveness and helps seal Kristen’s fate.

More About the Author:

Linda began writing poetry as a teenager and then turned to food and self-help article writing in her adult years. Now, in her sixties, she is blessed to have her first novel published, which has been her goal for many years. She enjoys reading, writing, research, painting, music, playing drums, walking, contemplative prayer, and sampling new eateries. Her personal experiences, both good and challenging, have become material for stories. This helps her to write about what she knows best, which lends authenticity to her platform. She has been married for thirty-eight years, is a practicing Catholic, and has been surrounded by musicians most of her life. She resides in both city and country settings. Wherever Linda is residing, you can find her on Facebook, on Twitter, on her blog, and you can learn more about her debut novel here.

 

Character Interview: Ruth Brown from Linda Shenton Matchett’s Under Fire

This week, I’m happy to introduce you to author Linda Shenton Matchett. Linda has been very busy since I first met her via the book we’re featuring.

Today’s guest is Ruth Brown, the heroine from Linda’s World War II historical, Under Fire. Ruth tell us a little about yourself and your story.

I grew up in Hazelton Falls, a small town in central New Hampshire. My best friend is Varis Gladstone, and she’s been with me through thick and thin. She’ll tell you I’m too curious for my own good, so she has to keep me in line. (laughs) She’s probably right, but I’d say that’s an asset to my career as a journalist. My sister and I were very close, so when she went missing, I knew I was the one who had to find her. Traveling to England in the middle of the war was scary, but I didn’t have a choice. That’s where the clues led me. The destruction and death caused by Axis powers made me angry at God. I didn’t understand how he could allow the war to happen.

You are a strong, determined heroine. To what do you owe your intrepid spirit?

My dad believed in me even when he didn’t understand why I pursued some of the things I did. He made me realize I could do or be anything I wanted to, which is unusual in our day and age. That gave me a lot of confidence. I’m also the oldest, so I felt like I had to take care of my younger sister and brother at school. On top of that I’ve always been a bit stubborn, so when it feels like someone is against me, I dig in my heels and try even harder to succeed.

You are drawn to a career that is not exactly considered a woman’s job in your time. Did you look up to other women from your time that perhaps paved the way for you? If so, I’d love to know a little about them and why you were attracted to that career?

Some would call me nosy. I’d like to think I’m merely inquisitive, but I want to know the story behind an incident. Why did something happen? Who caused it, and how did they do that? When I was in high school I discovered Ida Tarbell and Nellie Bly. They were tenacious at ferreting out injustice and social ills. Nellie went undercover as a mental patient at an insane asylum to shed the light on the poor conditions patients were subjected to. Ida’s reporting led to the breakup of the Standard Oil monopoly. I wanted to be just like them. I wanted to make that kind of an impact, so it was only natural for me to follow them into journalism.

Your travels took you away from America and truly under fire. How did your journey to war torn Great Britain change your ideas about the world?

I didn’t realize how sheltered and protected I was at home in New Hampshire. In England, I experienced bombings and saw terrible destruction of property and human beings. Deprivation was everywhere. Many people didn’t have enough to eat and lived in constant fear of invasion and death. I had no idea evil was so rampant in the world.

In your travels and in the things that occurred to you, there had to be a lesson that you’d love to pass along to your readers. What words of wisdom would you like to give to future generations?

Even when things are at their worst, God is in control. He can bring good from evil and his plans, though sometimes unfathomable, are for mankind’s best. Have faith.

More About Under Fire

Journalist Ruth Brown’s sister Jane is pronounced dead after a boating accident in April 1942. Because Jane’s body is missing, Ruth is convinced her sister is still alive and follows clues to war-torn London. By the time she uncovers the truth about Jane’s disappearance, she has stumbled on black marketers, resistance fighters and the IRA – all of whom may want her dead for what she has discovered.

About the Author:

Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, journalist, speaker, and history geek. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry, Linda has lived in historical places most of her life. She is a volunteer docent at the Wright Museum of WWII and a Trustee for the Wolfeboro Public Library. Active in her church, Linda serves as treasurer, usher, choir member, and Bible study leader.

Follow Linda on her website, her Facebook Author Page, on Pinterest, and on LinkedIn.

As I noted, Linda has been a busy writer. Here are her other works:

Love’s Harvest, a Modern-Day Retelling of the Story of Ruth: Noreen Hirsch loses everything including her husband and two sons. Then her adopted country goes to war with her homeland. Has God abandoned her? Rosa Hirsch barely adjusts to being a bride before she is widowed. She gives up her citizenship to accompany her mother-in-law to her home country. Can Rosa find acceptance among strangers who hate her belligerent nation? Basil Quincey is rich beyond his wildest dreams, but loneliness stalks him. Can he find a woman who loves him and not his money? Three people. One God who can raise hope from the ashes of despair.

Love Found in Sherwood Forest: Award-winning Broadway actress Leighanne Webster has it all until an on-stage panic attack brings her career crashing to the ground. Returning to England to help produce the annual Robin Hood Festival play, could be the diversion Leighanne needs. But with ex-fiance, Jamison Blake, as the play’s director, focusing on her new job won’t be easy. Breaking his engagement with Leighanne so she could pursue her dream of being a Broadway star was the hardest thing Jamison Blake ever did. When she returns to Nottingham, his heart insists he made a mistake. Can he convince her to give their love a second chance, or will he have to let her go again? This time, forever.

On the Rails: A Harvey Girl Story: Warren, Ohio, 1910: Katherine Newman loves being a teacher, but she loves Henry Jorgensen more, which is why she’s willing to give up her job to marry him. But instead of proposing, Henry breaks up with her. Devastated, Katherine seeks to escape the probing eyes and wagging tongues of her small town. A former Harvey Girl, Katherine’s mother arranges for Katherine to be hired at the Williams, Arizona Harvey House. Can she carve out a new life in the stark desert land unlike anything she’s ever known?

Henry Jorgensen loves Katherine with all his heart, but as the eldest son of a poor farmer can he provide for her as she deserves? The family’s lien holder calls in the mortgage, and Henry must set aside his own desires in order to help his parents meet their financial obligation. But when Katherine leaves town after their break up, he realizes he’s made the biggest mistake of his life. Can he find her and convince her to give their love a second chance?

A Love Not Forgotten (part of The Hope of Spring collection): Allison White should be thrilled about her upcoming wedding. The problem? She’s still in love with her fiancé, Chaz, who was declared dead after being shot down over Germany in 1944. Can she put the past behind her and settle down to married life with the kindhearted man who loves her?
It’s been two years since Charles “Chaz” Powell was shot down over enemy territory. The war is officially over, but not for him. He has amnesia as a result of injuries sustained in the crash, and the only clue to his identity is a love letter with no return address. Will he ever regain his memories and discover who he is, or will he have to forge a new life with no connections to the past?

WWII Word-Find: Enjoy hours of fun with 78 WWII-themed word-find puzzles. Descriptive paragraphs include facts and information about each topic.

 

Character Interview: Mattie Colby from Mattie’s Choice by Gay N. Lewis

Today’s guest is Mattie Colby from Gay N. Lewis’s novel, Mattie’s Choice. Welcome to Inner Source, Mattie. Would you mind telling us a little about yourself, about your life, and anything else you feel is important for us to know?

Thanks for asking me to introduce myself to your readers. I’m a little shy, but I’ll try. My name is Mattie Colby. I grew up in a loving home in rural Oklahoma. My father is English and my mother is Cherokee. My dad is a builder, and he patterned our home after Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. Most of Osage Country admires and envies it. My father acquired land in Oklahoma Territory during the land rush of 1893. My mother’s ancestors endured the Trail of Tears. I have a twin brother, Maury, and three sisters. Maury and I are the first born. By intuition, we know what the other thinks and feels. Maury is my best friend. We were looking forward to graduating high school together, but I eloped with Jesse Colby and quit school. Maury is grieved over it.

I love my family and I love my husband. I’ve wanted to be is a wife and mother for as long as I can remember. Maury tells me I shouldn’t have quit school to elope with Jesse, and thinks I should have waited to marry. He even wanted me to go to college with him, but in my day and time, women didn’t have many opportunities. Careers? Those were unheard of. Heavens to Betsy! In 1925, our goal was to become wives and mothers, and that suited me just fine. What about you in your modern day? Have times changed much? Do women have careers in your day?

Yes, women have many more opportunities in this age to become anything they want to be. We even have women serving beside men in the battlefields. Not all charges are good, though. For a while, a stay-at-home mother was considered inferior to those who were out in the work force. Along the way, especially in America, we have lost our way. Our children are sometimes not the most important commodity for parents. Slowly, though, some are beginning to realize that raising children is an important task.

Your author placed you into the center of a very controversial and difficult subject for an author to tackle. You’re a stubborn lass, Mattie Colby, and you’re made of stronger stuff than I am. You were offered choices to make, but you stayed the course. Tell us why that was important to you.

My father taught his children to keep our word. I made a vow to God and Jesse that nothing but death would separate us from our marriage. I was a naïve, seventeen-year-old when I married. My parents had a good marriage and I thought I would too. I didn’t believe anyone’s tales that Jesse had a temper. Looking back on it, I should have investigated more about him. Courted him longer, too. I might have chosen differently if I had, but what was done was done. I gave my word, and that was that.

Your sister-in-law, Ella, made a different choice. I got to know you well, and I know that the two of you stayed friends, but I want to know what you were thinking about her choice deep down inside?

Now that’s an interesting question. Ella and I are lifelong friends, and we’re opposite in personality. She chose a nursing career while she lived in Galveston, and she continued to work in a hospital after she married Jesse’s brother and moved to Oklahoma. She’s outspoken and opinionated. You always know where you stand with Ella. When she left Oklahoma to move back to Galveston, I admired her. Truth be told, I wished I could escape my life and move far away., too. We had different ideas on commitments, and to this day, I can’t say which one of us was right. In some ways, we both were.

I agree with your assessment. You were clearly a victim of historical precepts and interpretation of Scripture. This is something your author, Gay, and I spoke of quite a bit. Shh, don’t tell her, but I agree that there was a time in history where the theological thinking concerning the protection of women, especially in a marital relationship was skewed. In the end, though, I think that your choice took a lot of courage, but if you had to do it over again, would you make the same choice?

Your comment about Gay makes me giggle, and I won’t tell her you asked this question. I’m pretty good at keeping secrets. As you know, I kept many over the years. Thank you for saying I have courage. That means a lot to me. Early on in marriage, I was stubborn to a fault. I think my pig-headedness was what kept me going. I didn’t believe my dad would help me, and I learned too late that he would have. I had too much pride to ask for help. Courage? I think I developed it as I grew older. Courage comes with self-confidence, and as I became confident, I became courageous. Does that make sense? If I could do it over, I’d have chosen to become assertive much sooner than I did. Keeping my beliefs and standing up for myself turned out to be the best choice in the long run.

Mattie, everyone who reads this blog understands that the verse I stand upon, even when it hurts to grasp hold of it, is Romans 8:28. That does not mean that I approach others who are hurting and declare this truth. I feel that, for the hurting, this verse’s truths can be very hard to grasp, but that very God declared the depth of it when He sent His Son to the cross. That verse tells us that all things work to good to those who know God … So, as a woman who has had a life of extreme hardship I’d like to ask two difficult questions: what good do you see coming from the choice you made, and 2) what good do you believe came from the choice Ella made?

Heavens to Betsy! I have to ponder that one. Yes, I had hardship. My husband was not easy to live with. In fact, he was downright awful at times. Life circumstances were difficult, too. The Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, all the world events made life unbearable at times, but my faith grew stronger through the trials. That was a good thing. Some, like Jesse, grew angry with God. I chose to stay close to Him and trust. Another good thing. My marriage with Jesse brought me eight children. Eight blessings. And guess what? Every one of them are productive, successful, God-fearing adults. Four are in the ministry. Like a rock thrown into water, the circle grows bigger, and in my case, a lot of good is in the circle.

Good came from Ella’s choice too. After seeing the way most of us women lived in our day, she started women’s shelters in Texas and became a crusader for women’s rights. I think all contemporary women owe Ella and women like her a debt of gratitude. Their lives are easier, thanks to Ella and others like her.

You are so right about Romans 8:28. I can look back on my life now and see the good God brought about with Ella’s and my choices. I believe I won’t see all the good until heaven. Scripture tells us our works follow us. Revelation 14:13 says, “…Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works follow them.” KJV To me, this means that what we do here continues to influence, bad or good, to those who come after us—like that rock thrown into water, impact lasts, good and bad. What I began with my children carries on to future generations, and most of it was good. Same with Ella. Women will continue to be helped with better lives as a result of her influence. I believe we both did more good to follow us than we did bad.

Mattie, thank you for being with us today. On Wednesday, your author, Gay, will be sharing a little more behind the inspiration for your novel.

About the Author:

A native Texan, Gay lives in Fulshear, a small town west of Houston.  She loves to travel and engage in artistic ventures. Two videos she produced —The Canadian Rockies, English and Japanese translations, and Psalms from the Mountains, sold well in international markets. Graphic skills kept her busy as a portrait photographer, and for over ten years, she used her imaginative insight in the interior design field.

As a pastor’s wife, she writes Faith Features for various church periodicals. She also writes articles for Texas Hill Country.  Gay is also a published author for Pelican Book Group in romance and fantasy fiction. Her current series is about a dyslexic angel who comes to earth to help humans, but Sarah, the angel, is more like Lucy Ricardo with humorous antics and bumbles.

All of the Sarah books have appeared on Amazon’s Best Seller’s List. The Sarah series is available in eBook format as well as print at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Pelican Book Group, and other book sellers. Some additions are available in Amazon Audible. Each book in the series is a standalone novel.

Her latest books, Mattie’s Choice, and Clue into Kindness are not fantasy and romance. These books are women’s fiction. The stories are about abusive men and women who are addicted to an unhealthy relationship.

The books are available in print, eBook, and audio.

For more information, please go to http ://gaynlewis.com/

Gay would love to have you see her video trailers and become a follower of her blog.

http://www.gaynlewis.blogspot.com

https://www.amazon.com/author/gaynlewis
www.facebook.com/GayNLewis and also on Twitter @GayNLewis2.

Sarah has her own Facebook page. Follow Sarah on Facebook@ Sarah Wingspand

More About Mattie’s Choice:

It’s 1925 in rural Oklahoma. A naïve seventeen-year-old Mattie chooses to elope with Jesse, leaving behind an ideal life with her wealthy and loving family. With hope for a happy future, she vows to stay with her husband through good times or bad, but the wonderful life Mattie dreams of is shattered by Jesse’s abusive nature and his refusal to allow her to see her family.

When Jesse’s brother, Joe, brings home his new wife–the vivacious Ella–Mattie believes Ella is living the life Mattie prays to have with Jesse. As the years grow harder and Jesse and Mattie’s growing family struggles to survive The Great Depression, The Dust Bowl and illness, Jesse’s abuse worsens.

Life also unravels for Ella and Joe as he begins to abuse his wife. Ella makes the choice that Mattie has never considered.

Will Mattie keep her vow to stay with Jesse at the risk of her own life and the life of her children or will she leave him despite the vow?

Character Interview: Janie Manson from Julie B. Cosgrove’s Baby Bunco

Today’s guest on Inner Source is Janie Manson from Julie B Cosgrove’s Baby Bunco, part of the Bunco Biddie’s Mysteries.

Welcome, Janie. I’d love for you to introduce yourselves to our readers because I think you have an interesting life to share.

Oh, my dear. I think all of us live interesting lives, don’t you agree? We all have our woes and joys. It makes us who we are.

My husband, Jack Manson, a renowned detective in the Austin Police department, was killed in the line of duty―leaving me a widow when my children were in their late teens and early twenties. After two decades, I decided to sell the house and move into a Fifty-five Plus community to be nearer to my daughter and her family. Her husband is the Chief Detective of the Alamoville Police Department. Not as famous as my Jack was, but he is a sharp cookie, nonetheless.

Anyway, several of my lifelong friends already lived there or were planning to make the move as well. Eventually we started a Bunco group going because (she whispers with her left hand angled to her mouth) their scheduled “senior” activities here at Sunset Acres are awfully lame.

Early on in our adult lives, Betsy Ann and I became walking buddies, and Ethel also joined us. It has kept us fairly fit and spry through the years. We still try every morning to power walk the almost two miles around the side roads of the community, not counting the golf course. We veer away from it. Old men with poorer eyesight swinging clubs at little hard balls with divots? That can get a bit dangerous. (She laughs.)

True story. My husband and I were driving around a curve at a local golf course, and an older man was on the tee. He swung the ball with all his might, and I tell you, I saw his eyes widen as he noticed his ball sailing right toward our car and my window. He missed, and I don’t know who was more thankful. I think you’re smart to avoid the golf course.

As the widow of a detective on the police force, I can’t imagine how difficult it was for you to let your husband go out the door every time he headed for work. With the growing crime rate against our police officers, is there any bit of wisdom, maybe even a Scripture, that sustained you through those years?

You cannot live healthily in fear. Our hearts, bodies and minds are not designed to do that. God asks us to live by faith instead, believing that come what may He is right beside us and has a purpose for all we go through. Romans 8:28- 31, knowing He works all for good to those who love Him, often was my go-to verse. Well, it still is.  Many a time I also poured over Psalm 144 in the wee hours of the morning when Jack was on a stakeout. I know it is the Soldier’s Psalm, but my husband often faced a battle of good versus evil, too. (She chuckles). But, then again, don’t we all?

Yes, we do. You have some awesome friends, and I’d love for our readers to be introduced to them by you. I believe you have a unique perspective on each of these quirky ladies and gents.

Let’s see. I’ve told you a bit about Blake. He is a good and honest man who loves his family. More than a job, his mission is to protect the citizens of this community. But underneath that Stetson is a fairly hard head. Even so, I think we get along okay, as much as any mother-in-law and son-in-law can.

Ethel and Betsy Ann are my lifelong buddies. We met early on when I Jack and I moved into our first home back in 1970. Betsy Ann and I were both pregnant at the time, and Ethel was organizing a neighborhood watch. She is a mystery aficionado and has collected, and read I might add, over five hundred whodunnit paperbacks. She has them sub-categorized in a file catalog by author, crime and method. Betsy Ann was a reporter for the garden section of the local newspaper for twenty-five years, so she has a touch of the sleuth gene in her as well.

If you had to pick one of the Bunco Biddies to go into a dangerous situation with you, which one would you trust the most? Which one would you not want to go into a perilous adventure by your side?

I’d trust Ethel the most because she is level-headed and has a no-nonsense attitude about life. Betsy Ann is a dear, but she tends to be a bit emotional and, well ditzy. But that’s part of her charm. Mildred has a tender heart, but she is too fragile right now. She’s had some major life challenges in the past year. We try to tiptoe on eggshells around her right now, but she’s gonna be fine. (Janie winks.)

And my last questions have to be about your son-in-law. You know he loves you, don’t you? I actually think he admires you very much. Blake is a wonderful guy, but I really want to know how you took the news when you learned that your daughter, Melanie, would be dreading her husband walk out the door, just as you must have all those years.

I hope that, by watching me as she grew up, I showed her how to boldly live this life. Perhaps I showed her too well. Blake reminds me a lot of my Jack at that age. There are times I wish she’d married an accountant or something, but I know God planned for them to be joined and truthfully, she couldn’t have picked better. Trust me though, each night I go down on my knees for her and the kids, and each morning I ask God to send His angels to guard Blake.

Being a cop’s wife is not easy, but at least their husbands come home when they get off duty, God willing. Of course the same goes for the families of our policewomen who serve. I cannot imagine how the spouses of our deployed service men and women make it day to day knowing their loved one is a second away from danger at any moment. They have to lean on God Almighty as well as family and friends. I pray for them as well. We all should, don’t you agree?

I agree 100%. I believe prayer is the best gift that we can give to those who stand between us and evil.

Thank you for visiting with us, Janie. I look forward to the interview of your author, Julie B. Cosgrove on Wednesday.

More About Baby Bunco:

Who would leave a newborn baby in the bathtub of a condo in Sunset Acres, a retirement community, and why? And was a young woman slain behind the convenience store across the highway it’s mother? Janie and the Bunco Biddies want to find out, but soon they discover sleuthing can get a bit dicey.

Julie’s First Book in the Bunco Biddie’s Mysteries is Dumpster Dicing

As Janie and Betsy Ann go for their morning jog, the city sanitation vehicle follows its normal five-mile Tuesday morning route through their retirement community of Sunset Acres. The two Bunco-playing biddies spot a leg dangling out of the dumpster when the truck lifts the trash container high in the air. Someone diced up one of their newest residents—a grouchy loner named Edwin Newman. Did he unpack too much of his dicey past when he moved in last weekend?

About Julie’s next release, Three, Sixies and Thieves

In Sunset Acres, some of the condos with threes and sixes in their house numbers are being robbed. The police see it as random, but Janie thinks otherwise. When she and her Bunco friends catch the thieves red-handed, one of the robbers is arrested. However, the next morning he is found hung in his cell. With her son-in-law, Chief Detective Blake, on vacation, can she trust anyone in the department to reveal what really happened?

More About the Author:

Besides being an award-winning suspense and cozy mystery writer, Julie is also an Internet missionary for Campus Crusades Canada. The articles and devotionals she writes and edits reach over 600,000 people a month and lead many of them to contact mentors who guide them through life issues and into a deeper relationship with Jesus. She writes for several other faith-based devotional sites as well, and her blog Where Did You Find God Today has readership in ten countries.

Character Interview: Hugh Foster from Deborah Dee Harper’s Misstep

Today’s guest is the pastor of a little church in Road’s End, Virginia, and the hero of Deborah Dee Harper’s novel, Misstep. Welcome to Inner Source, Hugh. We’d love to hear a little about your past and just what brought you to this small Virginia town.

Thanks, Marji. Glad to be here. Melanie and I just finished up twenty-seven years in the Air Force where I served as chaplain. We lived all over the world, but through it all, Mel has dreamed of owning an inn much like the ones found in the Colonial Williamsburg eighteenth century style. When we found Road’s End, quite by accident, we were intrigued with the beautiful house that we’ve since bought and named The Inn at Road’s End. We were hooked.

Now, in one sentence, I’d love to have you describe your parishioners?

My parishioners at the Christ Is Lord Church are fine (funny), loyal (loony), patriotic (pushy), Christian (without a doubt), awesome (argumentative), and unconventional (off-the-wall) folks who enrich (exasperate) my life in so many wonderful (wild and wooly) ways.

That’s a delightful description of that unique crew of wacky individuals.

Your wife, Melanie, is a wonderful person. She has to be because I’m going to tell you that while you might not believe so, you fit right in with the rest of the folks in that little place. Melanie seems to be the stable one, and well, she’s put up with a lot. What do you believe is her secret to remaining calm in the midst of lunacy?

Yes, well, Fay, I’ve begun to wonder myself if I’m part of the problem here. I have my own idiosyncrasies (fear of spiders, snakes, close places, storms, etc., not to mention my OCD tendencies—and I do mean don’t mention it—please).

Mel is a lucky woman in that she married me—which allows her to remain calm in the face of constant chaos, serene when everyone around her is psychotic, and happy when I’m hot under the collar. And she can do all that because in contrast to what I’m doing, she can’t help but appear calm, serene, and happy. (That’s why she’s lucky. She gets to be compared to me which makes her look supremely better in all situations.)

All joking aside, though, her secret is her deep, abiding faith in Jesus Christ. She, better than me (and I’m the pastor, for crying out loud), has been able, ever since I’ve known her, to throw all her burdens at the foot of the Cross and believe with all her heart that Christ has her back. She’s cool when I’m sizzling with frustration and anger. She’s calm when I’m clutching at straws and looking for the lifeboats. She’s unflappable when I’m … well, flappable. Mostly, though, Mel is a child of God, and I will be everlastingly grateful to Him for putting her in my life.

Of all the characters that you live amongst, which one (besides Melanie) would you say is your best friend and why? Which one would you avoid the most if you could and why? And which one makes you laugh the most and why?

I’d have to say Bristol Diggs is my best friend, if for no other reason than he’s the only other totally sane person in town. Bristol has some strange things in his past, but those have only made him stronger and have brought him to Road’s End, for which I will be eternally grateful. He shares my sense of humor, and maybe most importantly of all, is just about as clueless as I am, particularly when it comes to women and what makes them tick. We make a great team.

Without a doubt, the person I avoid the most HAS to be Ruby Mae Headley. Don’t get me wrong, Ruby’s a fine lady, but she never …stops …talking. Never. With her daughter Grace being my secretary, Ruby Mae thinks she’s somehow got the inside track on anything remotely church-related, which in her mind means she’s in charge. If it isn’t what hymns she’s going to torture…whoops, I mean perform on Sunday, it’s what topics I should address in my sermons (just how God chooses His special projects, meaning her, for instance) or how we can bring in more money to the church coffers (which usually involves the church buying something from her to turn around and sell to someone else). And don’t get me started on those hats.

The one who makes me laugh the most would have to be Dewey Wyandotte. Bless his heart, he’s a little dim, and George, who has an inflated opinion of himself anyway, takes full advantage of every opportunity to let Dewey know just how dim he is. On the other hand, Dewey can be shrewd; you just have to sort through all the silliness to find out who the real Mr. Wyandotte is. In the third book of the series, Misjudge, the readers will get a closer look at the characters and find out just how much they’ve contributed to our nation and their neighbors. Dewey is always good for a crazy idea, and more often than not, gives it right back to George. Go, Dewey!

Yes, Ruby Mae, bless her heart, is a strange bird, and I would love to sit and listen to Dewey and George ague all day.

Hugh, I purposely shared your story with my pastor and his wife, more particularly his wife, because I wanted them to know that they are not the only ones with eccentrics in the congregation. As a pastor who has a whole church filled with eccentrics, I’d love for you to provide some advice on how you deal with a total group of lovable loons so that maybe my pastor can learn to deal with a group of them, of which I know he considers me one.

Ha! If your name was Clair, we could call you Clair de lune. Just a little joke there. Just as your pastor does, I’m sure, I rely on God to keep me sane. If He didn’t want me as a pastor, believe me, He had every chance to make sure I didn’t make the grade. I’ve often asked Him whether or not He’s blessing or punishing me by setting me in the midst of all these crazy … er, eccentric people. In fact, I ask that very thing in Faux Pas after a particularly insane meeting in the church basement. I take it one day, or argument, as the case may be, at a time and ask for His guidance continually. He never lets me down.

Thank you for visiting us, Hugh. I’m looking forward to the next adventure Faux Pas.

Thank you, Fay, for hosting me. I’ve had a blast, but please don’t show this to any of the folks in Road’s End, because then I’d have to hurt you, and you can imagine how that would go against my grain, being a pastor and all. Still … (sorry, Lord).

Your secret is safe with me. However, I know at least one of those eccentrics can use a computer, can’t they?

I look forward to the interview with your author, Deborah Dee Harper on Wednesday. Until then, I want to introduce her to your readers.

More about the Author:

Deborah Dee Harper currently resides in Alaska where she writes inspirational and humorous books for both children and adults and takes thousands of photographs. When she isn’t writing or taking photos, she stalks moose and other wildlife, survives earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, endures the long, dark, frigid winters, revels in the endless summer days, and is awestruck by the rippling northern lights of the Alaskan night skies. She also leaps mountains in a single bound and wrestles grizzly bears along hiking trails. (Not really. Just making sure you were paying attention.) Whenever she can, she loves being with her daughter, son-in-law, and three grandsons in Kentucky, and her son, daughter-in-law, and two more grandsons in Michigan. (For real.)

She can be reached at deborahdeetales@gmail.com, at her website www.deborahdeeharper.com, and her three blogs: www.deborahdeetales.blogspot.com, www.deetrails.blogspot.com and www.laramieonthelam.blogspot.com.

More about Misstep:

Winnie and Sadie are still fighting, and I’m still living in the strangest town on earth.
It’s December in Road’s End, Virginia, a tiny town long forgotten by anyone but its residents, where Colonel Hugh Foster and his wife, Melanie, have chosen to live—for better or worse. The jury’s still out on that one!
Road’s End is comprised entirely of senior citizens whose kids have grown and left for greener pastures. Hugh, Melanie, and Bristol (one of the few sane people in town) are faced with a crumbling church in desperate need of repair and renovation, a dwindling congregation of opinionated, ornery senior citizens, and a camel—yes, a camel. And if that’s not enough, the trio and the rest of the Road’s End residents, are soon mired in danger and intrigue when a group of gun-toting drug dealers arrive in town, bent on killing the church handyman, and conspiring to ruin the doggonedest record-breaking blizzard the town has ever seen.
Poor drug dealers.

Deborah has an upcoming sequel to Misstep entitled Faux Pas. Here’s more of the hilarity you’ll find in Road’s End, Virginia.

What would you do if the President of the United States was attending your daughter’s wedding?

Panic. You’d panic. Add in a severe storm, crazy senior citizens who believe the POTUS lied his way into office, a crumbling, but historic church you happen to pastor, a cranky Secret Service agent, a four-year-old grandchild-to-be you know nothing about, and a son-in-law-to-be whose faith in the Lord has waned, and you’ve got yourself a humdinger of a wedding. Not to mention that same future son-in-law is a University of Michigan Wolverines fan (not a Michigan State Spartans fan) and prefers sweet tea to unsweetened. My gosh, what is the world coming to? Talk about a faux pas! Well, good luck with all that, Pastor Foster.

And Heaven help the president.

Stepping out of her humorous genre, Deborah also has another upcoming release entitled The Sin Seeker.

Sin Seeker, is the first book in my Sin Seeker series. The story deals with sin and the very real battle we’re in every day of our lives with the forces of darkness. Graves (Gray to his friends) Hollister is a discouraged social services employee tasked with the thankless job of keeping children safe from parents who don’t deserve them in the first place and who neglect and abuse them regularly. He starts hearing demonic voices shortly before a hideous tragedy occurs, after which he quits his job and sinks to the bottom of a bottle of anything he can find that’ll put him in an alcoholic stupor. He spends two months trying to obliterate his memories. Finally, he realizes he can’t; he must face them, so he enrolls in seminary and becomes a pastor. With his new role as pastor and his newfound ability to actually see the sin on the people God has tasked him with helping, Gray finds himself thrown head-first into a world of evil and demons, angels and miracles.

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.