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Interview with June Foster, Author of Misty Hollow

Today’s guest in June Foster, the author of Misty Hollow. An award-winning author, June 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.

June, you and I have known each other for a while now, and I’m delighted to have you back with us. I have watched your career grow as you work hard to bring your stories to life, and I know that your books are the favorite of many readers. So, tell us the secret of being a prolific author.

Thank you for inviting me to your blog today and for your kind remarks. Indeed, we have known each other for quite a few years. I first met you through Scribes at ACFW when you were the moderator. I’ll always appreciate your patient instruction.

I am prolific in the sense that I’m presently working on book number fifteen and have only been writing since 2010. I credit any success to the Lord Who sent me on this journey. I didn’t write my first book until I was in my early sixties. I laugh and explain that God must’ve put me on the fast track to writing and publishing because He knew my time on earth wasn’t as long as my many author friends.

Misty Hollow is your newest release. Will you tell us a little about the story and about what led you to write it?

Misty Hollow is the story of a young teacher, Molly Cambridge, from Nashville who has a heart for teaching adults to read. She takes a position in the elementary school in Misty Hollow, but her primary goal is to open a learning center to teach adults to read. Misty Hollow is her ancestral home, and Molly had witnessed her paternal grandmother struggle with illiteracy, another motivation to teach adults.

Joel Greenfield is a dirt farmer who longs to turn his unproductive land into a thriving dairy farm. Only thing, he can’t read the manual on how to operative a milking machine.

When Molly and Joel meet, they find an immediate attraction, but Molly can never learn Joel’s secret—he’s illiterate.

Before I began writing, I taught elementary children and, of course, reading was a big part of their curriculum. As Molly told you, I attended a reading conference and had the privilege of hearing John Corcoran speak. His story of how he didn’t learn to read until his thirties touched me. So my author’s imagination set to work asking questions like what if an illiterate young farmer from the Appalachians fell in love with a teacher from the big city? Another theme I explored was Christian maturity. Joel and part of his family, though they couldn’t read the Bible, still loved the Lord. Christianity isn’t about how smart or rich we are, but about a life of humility. The Greenfield family in their small town of Misty Hollow typifies that quality.

Misty Hollow is a fictitious town in Tennessee, and I know that you visited the Smoky Mountains because you’ve been there with me a couple of times. Tell me what led you to the Appalachians as a backdrop for Misty Hollow?

I can remember a couple of adventures we had. Especially when we made a wrong turn and ended up high in the mountains. Only thing, we found a great place for lunch.

Oh, yes, we found our way from Atlanta, Georgia, to Waynesville, North Carolina, via a very sharp turn that I couldn’t remember ever being on my road home–because I’d read the sign that said “Highlands” as “Franklin.” After said curve we headed up one side of the mountain to Highlands, and back down the other side past Glennville Lake and into Sylva, North Carolina. But we had a good laugh and a great meal. So back to the question after my little reminiscing …

Yes, I’ve read articles and seen documentaries of how reading illiteracy is prevalent in the Appalachians so I figured this might be a good location for a story about illiteracy. Though the number of farms have dwindled in recent years, I decided to make my hero a dirt farmer. One only needs to look at photos of the Smoky Mountains to see the hazy, smoky mist that settles over the hills and valleys. Often those valleys or hollows feature a river or stream running through. Thus Misty Hollow came to life.

You’re a retired teacher, and I’m going to tell you for the first time, that if someone asked me, without my knowing, what you did before retirement, I would have guessed that you were an elementary teacher. You just have that curious way about you (I still laugh at our Florida alligator misadventure), and you have this caring and nurturing nature. I see that in your heroine, Molly. So, tell us, is there any part of you in Molly?

Yes, authors often see their characters through the own past experiences. Molly loves her eager, rambunctious third graders in Misty Hollow. She’s anxious to see their success as much as I did when I taught my little ones. But like Molly, I taught adults, as well. Not illiterate adults, but grown students who were learning to speak English. I desired to see their success in mastering the language the same way Molly wants her Appalachian students to read. So yeah, Molly is pretty much like me. Only thing, I didn’t fall in love with an illiterate man but a soldier in the Army.

If one of our readers knows someone who needs help learning to read, especially an adult who has struggled, do you, as a retired teacher or through your research for Misty Hollow have any advice or know of anywhere they can seek help?

Yes. There are many tutoring centers in communities throughout the US. Some are paid, but others are manned by volunteers. It’s only a matter of doing a bit of investigating. John Corcoran learned to read with a one-on-one tutor. Some require individual help, like John and Joel Greenfield. A tutor doesn’t always have to be a teacher by profession, but can be trained to help students. Nevertheless, the job requires an infinite amount of patience. If one goes to a reading center, the teaching materials are carefully selected for the appropriate age group. In Misty Hollow, Joel reads a book on a third grade level but a story that would appeal to adults.

One last question for you, June. What new and interesting characters are you writing about that we may soon be able to meet?

My work in progress is set in small town Alabama. Zack Lawrence is a young pastor who’s seen more than his share of tragedy. His pregnant wife suffered a pulmonary embolism, and he discovered her on the floor dead, the baby gone as well. To make matters more difficult, the church he’s pasturing must close the door for lack of parishioners. He blames himself and can’t move beyond the guilt holding him captive.

Ella Harris is a high school counselor with a heart for hurting teens. When Zack returned from seminary with a wife, her heart broke as she’s loved him since they both went to high school together.

This novel leans more toward a character study of hurting people and how God intervenes with His healing power.

That sounds like another excellent June Foster read. I look forward to it!

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.

 

Author Interview with Kathleen E. Friesen Author of Redemption’s Whisper

Today’s guest is Kathleen E. Friesen, who 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.

Thank you for being with us today, Kathleen.

Thank you for having me!

I so enjoyed your book, Nila’s Hope, and I was thrilled to see that Hayley Blankenship has her own story. We don’t get to read too many novels with Saskatoon as the backdrop. Can you tell us a little about the area and why you wanted to bring to life that setting?

I lived in the Saskatoon area for thirty years, and we raised our children there. I grew up in the lush, gentle climate of the Pacific Northwest, so the Canadian prairies were a shock to my system. To be honest, I never really acclimatized, but it was a wonderful place to raise our family. I wanted to share some of the unique aspects of Saskatchewan life with readers, maybe even entice them to plan a trip to experience the prairies for themselves.

Changing courses here, I know, but Hayley has struggled with the decisions she’s made in her life. Many of us have suffered for our own wrong choices. Can you tell share with us why you think that a character’s struggles are important for a reader to see?

We all struggle for one reason or another; it’s part of what makes us human. Hayley’s issues run deep, but through her journey to forgiveness, I hope my readers will recognize themselves and find forgiveness as she did.

So true. When we struggle against God’s goodness toward us, afraid He won’t love us for what we’ve done, we don’t realize that our hands and our feet are tied by the enemy. When we stop our struggling and understand that the only way to have our bonds broken is to allow God to set us free, we can give our guilt and shame over to Him.

Trevor also has problems, but his seem to be more from his stubbornness toward God. I’d love to know if you ever faced those type of struggles or if you gleaned your knowledge from dealing with someone who fought against God’s goodness in their lives?

Trevor’s story was a tough one for me. I’ve been angry at God many times, but His grace held me close. Someone very close to me, however, continues to resist God’s forgiveness and love. I needed to show that grace is real and God is good, no matter how things appear.

Hayley is a city girl, and she ends up in the unlikeliest of spots? Are you a city girl or a country gal and have you ever had to change your lifestyle? If so, how did that turn out for you? If not, what kind of changes do you think someone who does change lifestyles so drastically will face?

I’ve lived in big cities (Portand OR, Tacoma WA) as a child, but at heart, I’m a small-town girl. Our family had an acreage north of Saskatoon for several years, and I had to learn to handle large animals and help care for sick ones. Sickness and death is part of life, but I never got used to that. I loved the special freedom that farm/acreage life allows, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

Any lifestyle change comes with plenty of challenges, but with the right attitude and a patient friend (spouse, in my case), it can boost confidence and strengthen character.

Hayley made a huge change in spite of her worries. I hope her story will resonate with my readers and encourage them to face their own fears.

I’m sure Hayley’s story will do just that. So, are there going to be any new works from Saskatoon or are you on to other settings? We’d love to hear what’s next for you.

My work in progress in the first of a series set in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, where I live now. It features the four siblings of the Rockwell family. Kennedy Rockwell’s story is called Hearts Unfolding.

Someday, I may head back to Saskatoon for more novels. It is a place rich in history, courage, and drama—and full of stories.

Thank you, again, Kathleen, for sharing the big news about your newest release. I look forward to your guest blog post here on Wednesday.

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.

Did you miss the Inner Source interview with Hayley Blankenship, the heroine from Redemption’s WhisperIf so, you can read it here.

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

Interview: Victoria Buck, Author of Killswitch and Wake the Dead

photo (7)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 recent novels.

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

Victoria, what a ride it was to follow Mr. Sterling from Wake the Dead, the first novel in the series, to Killswitch. I know we talked about this before, but I’d love to hear your definition of transhumanism?

Transhumanism proposes to use technology and bio-genetics to enhance the human experience. The potential isn’t simply a better functioning man or woman, but one with a greatly increased life expectancy. Some of the enhancements I wrote about in Chase Sterling’s story could become commonplace in the near future.

The scientist who created the technology and implanted everything into our hero, has a great last name. I was reminded of it toward the end of the story, and my thought was that he is a type of Dr. Frankenstein. I’m curious. Did you think of the doctor in that way at all during your writing of the novels?

Maybe in the beginning. After all, he is a mad scientist. But Dr. Fiender became someone I empathized. He realized the error of pushing the transhuman agenda too far, and he became a great friend to Chase. Of course, Dr. Frankenstein’s motivation to conquer death and become god-like was similar to Dr. Fiender’s initial drive to build the world’s first transhuman.

The story is an adult Dystopian set in the near future. Before I read Wake the Dead I hadn’t really seen many Dystopian novels written for adults, and those written for the young adult audiences, even those written for the Christian industry were filled with blood and gore. My thought was, “I wouldn’t let my children read these things.” Your story was an interesting, riveting, alternative for adults. Yes, things happen, but you managed to transform your story into one for adults of all ages. I’d love your thoughts on other such novels, and I’d like to know whether or not you started out to “transform” the genre.

My intent in the beginning was not to transform a genre, but to write something different for the Christian market. If I can be groundbreaking in bringing more speculative fiction to Christian publishing, I would consider that a success. As for those graphic bestsellers, I’ve read some and enjoyed them. But some go too far. My writing style is different and I enjoy the challenge of subtext. A writer can lead readers to envision something awful, or wonderful, without spelling it out for them.

There is a picture in the novel. I don’t want you to give away too much, but it has great significance for your hero. Could you elaborate a little on that for us?

Blue Sky Field is the painting of a green field under a clear blue sky. Chase dreams of the place and is compelled to find it. Only he thinks he’s looking for the actual place and he’s surprised when he realizes it’s only a painting. But he grows to love it and what it symbolizes. What happens to the painting is only a fraction of the grief he faces in Killswitch.

There’s a sequel, I know. Can you tell us a little about it and other projects that you may be working on?

Yes, the cover for Transfusion is shown on the back of Killswitch and it will be available in a few months. I love Chase’s story in its completion, and I hate to leave him behind. But on to other characters! I’m currently working on a novelette about a girl enduring a post-rapture adventure. As soon as I’m done with that I’ll start a new novel, which is already outlined (something I’ll never look at again) and playing in my imagination. This one is not futuristic, nor does it involve transhumanism. But it will be something different for the Christian market, and a little bit weird.

Well, I like weird. I call it eclectic. So, I can’t wait for you to bring the story to life, and I look forward to reading Transfusion.

perf5.000x8.000.inddMore 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.

Interview with Cynthia T. Toney, Author of 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status

Toney, Cynthia- 006 3x5 BW.ret2.cropToday’s guest is Cynthia T. Toney, who is here to discuss her second book in her Bird Face series. I’m a big fan of Cynthia’s work, having had the pleasure of reading the first book in her series before publication, and I have championed her writing since that time. 

Cynthia 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.

Welcome back to Inner Source, Cynthia. Wow! Book Two. Tell me how it feels to have Wendy step into high school for the first time?

Hi, Fay. It’s great to be back!

I must admit that Wendy was better prepared for high school than I was at her age. The summer between eighth and ninth grades taught her a lot, and I expected more of her than I did of myself at the start of high school. I loved the thirteen-year-old Wendy but was ready for her to experience new, more mature things, to see how she’d handle them.

I’ve said this to you before, but I have been captivated by the ability of your stories to transcend generations. When I walked into school with Wendy, I felt as if I experienced déjà vu with regard to some things, but other things have changed. I won’t tell you my generation if you don’t tell me yours, but what do you think is different about teenagers and schools even within the last twenty years?

Teenagers now have so much to handle. I first noticed it when my daughter was in high school. I don’t know if, as a teen, I could have juggled all the things some of them do these days. Not only is there more to learn academically, but teens are expected to participate in many extracurricular activities. The pressure to acquire material things seems greater, so many of them choose to work an after-school or weekend job to keep up with new technology products, for example. They have much more worry regarding their safety around strangers. And of course, the drug problem has grown.

I write for teens to show them how wonderful and powerful God made them. In spite of all their accomplishments, teens I’ve known have demonstrated that they don’t feel loved.

The story is about Wendy’s steps to girlfriend status. I’m really interested in hearing how you, as a writer, developed that list. Did anything that went on that list, surprise you?

*Chuckle* Unlike boys, a girl often reads signs of a potentially serious relationship into the most minor kinds of attention a boy might pay her. That idea prompted the list. I don’t think anything on the list surprised me. I just developed Wendy and David’s relationship as I thought it might in real life between two kids with pretty good heads on their shoulders. But I wanted readers to understand how important real friendship with a boy is in developing an emotionally healthy romance. If I had revealed that early in the story, it wouldn’t have made for as much fun.

I had a recent conversation with a friend and her teenage daughter about dating, and particularly about dating more than one person at a time. I’ve noticed that girls fall in love more quickly and easily, and when they develop strong feelings about that first boy, they think he’s “the one.” Boys don’t seem to think that way, and it usually takes getting to know several girls before there’s a special one.

I disagree with some of my friends in that I think a teenage girl should not limit herself to going out with only one boy at a time. If she’s honest with the young men she’s seeing, and she is upfront about what dating means to her (friendship and going out for good, clean fun—not sex), then that’s the best way not to fall into the trap of becoming too quickly attached to one boy. How can she learn what God wants her to learn about the opposite sex and eventually make a choice pleasing to Him if she doesn’t allow herself to meet and date a number of worthy young men?

You introduce a new character who has a handicap. I’ve heard that you’ve been able to make some great connections in this regard, and I’d love for you to share them with our readers in case they might want to make a connection with you.

Right now, two interesting people are reading 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status to evaluate its potential for the deaf community. One gentleman is an educator of deaf students in a mainstream school environment. The other person is a mother who is deaf but has both hearing and deaf children.

I want to find out how deaf readers will respond to my deaf teen character, who is deaf but also speaks and reads lips. He and Wendy do not communicate using ASL (American Sign Language) because she does not have time to learn it before they become friends. I plan to have her try to learn ASL in the next book.

My concern for the book’s acceptance in the deaf community is that the deaf designate as “oral” anyone who speaks and reads lips rather than relying solely on signing. The deaf generally do not regard deafness as a handicap but rather as a way of life, with ASL as the preferred method of communication. But sometimes a deaf person speaks and reads lips in communicating with the hearing if he or she was not born deaf but became deaf later and retained the ability to speak.

There is a lot for me to learn even though I worked among deaf adults for a number of years. I love American Sign Language and think it’s a beautiful and fun language to learn. If anyone who reads 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status would like to contact me to discuss my deaf teen character, is a deaf teen, or has experience with deaf teens, I would love to hear from them.

Email birdfacewendy@gmail.com.

Last question: is there anything coming for Wendy or any other stories on the horizon that you can share with us?

I’m in the process of completing the third book of the Bird Face series, with the working title 6 Dates to Disaster. All your favorite characters from books one and two will be there.

Another project dear to my heart that I wrote while seeking a publisher for my first book is called The Other Side of Freedom. It’s a coming-of-age historical with a young male protagonist. Set in the 1920s within an immigrant farming community, it’s about as different from the Bird Face series as one can imagine.

Thank you, Cynthia. I’m looking forward to reading more of your wonderful YA novels.

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status FC MedMore 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.

Interview: Anna Marie Kittrell: Author of Storm Season

Anna K Author Pic 15Today’s special guest on Inner Source is 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.

Anna, welcome back to Inner Source. I believe this is our third visit together, as I have been allowed to watch Molly, Lenni, and Bianca mature throughout their four years at Redbend High School.

Thank you so much for having me back on Inner Source, Fay. I love being here. It’s fun sharing new Redbend High experiences with you.

As I read, Storm Season, I found myself reliving some of my high school frustrations where friendships took awkward turns as my friends and I tried to grasp what the future would become for us. Without giving too much of the delightful plot away, I would love to know how you arrived at the plot for this story.

Actually, I credit one of the girls at the middle school where I work for suggesting the plotline. During a Witcha’be (since retitled Second Bestie) book club meeting in our school library, I mentioned that I had yet to come up with a plot for the fourth and final book in my Redbend High series. A beautiful 6th grade girl named Lily said, “Ms. Anna, you should make them fight over a boy!” I just stared at her for a second and said, “I totally should!” or something similar to that. I immediately knew she was right. But I still didn’t know how to deliver the storyline. Each Redbend book is set in a different season, so I knew the final book would take place in the spring. The stories are set in Oklahoma, and in springtime that can only mean one thing—tornados. So that is where the title, Storm Season, came from. Once I got my head in the storm clouds, the plot lined out fairly easily. Although, I did run into complications while trying to keep my scenes straight. I’d never written a story with three main characters before! Not only did I have to keep each girl’s comings and goings, timeline, and interactions in logical order, I had to make sure their voices, as well as their thoughts, stayed distinct and true to character. It really had my head spinning (oops, couldn’t resist). But I wanted to give each girl a chance to shine in the same story. In the end, I enjoyed the challenge and was happy with how the book turned out.

I know from previous interviews that you are a secretary at a middle school in the town where you live. In that capacity have you ever watched friendships blossom like that Molly, Lenni, and Bianca?

Honestly, I recognize the blend of personalities and friendships more with the staff members than with the students, especially within the office. One of our counselors is extra-sweet and grandmothers the children with kind words and chocolate, while the other counselor is more geared toward student responsibility and consequences. Our principal is very easy going and sometimes looks the other way, while our assistant principal is very straightforward and black and white. The other secretary in the office is very quiet and serious, while I am never, ever quiet and am the complete opposite of serious. The variety of personalities makes for a fun and interesting workplace. We always talk about how we balance each other out.

I love the elements you wind into the story (no pun intended) and the way that real life mirrors a storm that could have dire consequences for each of the girls. Your tag line for this novel says it all, “The deadliest winds blow in the heart …”There is another well-known story where a girl had to go through the storms and the aftermath, to learn that same lesson. You integrated that story very well. Is there a reason that you used the storm and the well-known story to present your message? (Oh, and as an aside, Bianca’s line near the end of the book regarding Raley goes in my category of “wish I’d written that one.”)

A lifetime in Oklahoma has somewhat desensitized me to tornados. This is a bad thing, considering tornados are hungry, killer monsters that consume everything in their path. But for me, being dragged to the cellar time after time as a child made the danger seem blasé. I’d rather lie on the couch and watch a scary movie until the electricity goes out, and then sit by the window and watch the lightening. I think maybe that’s how Molly, Lenni, and Bianca were so easily snared by Raley. They’d lived through so many emotional storms together, they assumed nothing could tear them apart. When danger showed up in the least likely place, they weren’t prepared. Instead of sheltering their hearts, they invited the storm right into their midst.

I guess, if I had written symbolism into it, High school could be the Yellow Brick Road, and the Emerald City could represent what lies ahead following graduation—but I wish I could say I put that much thought into it. It was really just one of those rare, happy accidents. The Wizard of Oz theme has popped up several times throughout the Redbend series. It all started with the humiliating “porch witch” that belonged to Molly’s mother, standing outside the front door in all her green glory for the entire school bus to see. Molly’s little brother, Max, even had a flying monkey mobile above his crib. This time, in Storm Season, the Wizard of Oz theme happened to fit in perfectly with the tornadic storyline. And like Dorothy; Molly, Lenni, and Bianca kind of woke up at the end, blinked, looked around, and appreciated the people in their lives that they had taken for granted. And personally, I think The Wizard of Oz would be a terrific prom theme.

Hmm…Fay, I wonder if you might mean the scene where Bianca says something like, “Well Molly. Turns out Rails fit right in with your must-have Wizard of Oz prom theme. No heart, no brain, and no courage.”

That was the line. I love it. I believe this story has a number of messages for the reader, and I believe that readers will interrupt the messages with regard to where they are in their lives. What do you feel is the overall message of Storm Season?

Emotions are so powerful. It’s easy to let them lead us around—and astray. Especially in matters of the heart. I was one of those girls who thrived on affirmation and took what everyone said to heart—the positive and the negative. I’m still more like that than I care to admit. Therefore, I can fully understand the need to be validated by others. But sometimes receiving attention (especially from the opposite sex) is blinding, and causes us to mistreat friends and family members who love us all the time. The desire to be loved can cause us to be selfish, jealous, and if we’re not extremely careful, turn us from the morals, values, and interests that we hold dear. Storm Season is the story of how a complete stranger used cheap compliments, empty promises, and lies to infiltrate and nearly destroy a true, godly friendship.

Hmm…Satan probably loves this guy.

And I’m very interested to learn what is next on your writing horizon. Will you follow the girls to their different colleges or will we see a new series from Anna Marie Kittrell?

I’ve decided not to spy on the Redbend girls while they’re away at college…unless they reach out to me, ready to share their experiences. I am working on a new story that I am especially excited about, called The Commandment. It is a New Adult suspense with romantic elements, and even a futuristic element that is an entirely new aspect for me as a writer. If you don’t mind, I’d love to share a little bit about The Commandment with you today:

Ten years ago, Briar Lee’s body rejected a government-mandated vaccine known as SAP (Serum to Advance Progressivism), formulated to erase God from the mind. Briar was seven years old—she has been on house arrest ever since. Now, just weeks from becoming a legal adult, Briar remains nonresponsive to her mandatory bi-yearly SAP injections. Along with her rapidly approaching eighteenth birthday looms a grim reality: by order of the Commandment, adulthood means institutionalization for those resistant to SAP. In a matter of days, Briar will become a permanent resident of the DEN (Diagnosis Evaluation Network: an institution shrouded in dark rumors of torture, experimentation, and death) unless she accepts a last-minute ultimatum. To avoid forcible commitment, Briar must become a scientific test subject in a laboratory over a thousand miles away.

Lukas Stone, a twenty-three year-old medical laboratory scientist, has made an extraordinary breakthrough that will render SAP obsolete. From the nectar of a rare cactus, he’s developed an abstergent that will not merely inhibit the brain’s “God Zone,” but dissolve the area away completely. To finalize his research and complete the chemical trial, Lukas lacks only one analytical component—a human test subject.

Briar, sick of being alone and terrified of spending the rest of her life in the DEN, agrees to the arrangement. Immediately, she is flown 1,500 miles from her hometown of Greenfield, Oklahoma to a laboratory in Sickle Ridge, Nevada, to become a human research subject for Lucas Stone’s groundbreaking God-dissolving serum. When the stint is over, she will enjoy a lifetime of freedom. With a decade of solitude behind her and a lifetime of confinement before her—what does she have to lose?

Except maybe her soul.

Wow! The Commandment sounds awesome. I hope you’ll come back with Briar or Lukas and share the story with us when it is released. Right now, I want to share with our readers some information about your four Redbend High School young adult series:

STORM SEASONAbout 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?

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.

A Visit with Kay Dew Shostak, Author of Next Stop Chancey

photo shoot pic blue croppedToday, we meet, Kay Dew Shostak, the author of the delightful stories set in Chancey, Georgia, the adopted home of Carolina Jessup and her family and the story of how she copes with a town of quirky, sweet characters. 

“A new voice in Southern Fiction” is how a recent reviewer labels Kay Dew Shostak’s debut novel, Next Stop, Chancey. Kay grew up in the South and graduated from the University of Tennessee. She then joined her husband moving around the country as they raised their three children. Always a reader, being a writer was a dream she cultivated as a journalist and editor at a small town newspaper in northern Illinois. After moving to Marietta, Georgia, Kay submitted several true life stories which appeared in a number of compilation books over the next ten years. In 2011, she and her husband, Mike, moved to Fernandina Beach, Florida for Mike’s job.

Seeing the familiar and loved from new perspectives led Kay to write about the absurd, the beautiful, and the funny in her South in both her fiction and non-fiction. While Next Stop, Chancey is her debut novel, she has completed two more in the series and is working on the fourth book. Chancey Book number 2: Chancey Family Lies is now available.

Visit Kay’s website  to sign up for her newsletter and to read more about her journey. Kay is also on Facebook and Twitter.

Kay, I fell in love with your second story in the series, and life intervened. I wasn’t able to get back to the first one, though I always had every intention of doing so. I couldn’t wait, and now that I’ve read them both, I want to tell you that your stories create a longing in me to live a life like your heroine, Caroline Jessup. I’d love to know where you got the idea for these stories.

Thanks so much for having me here on your blog. One of the best things about writing is all the new friends you make! So how Chaney came to be: Several years ago, I was talking with an agent who was considering representing me. She loved lots about my writing but as she was turning me down she asked, “Have you considered changing genres?” Out of deep disappointment I started the first Chancey book. It all sprang up as my fingers typed. And yet, the story felt so familiar. I’ve lived in big and small towns, and both up north and down south. So playing off those differences just moved the story along.

As I read Carolina’s story and I laughed and cried with her, I did find that she and I are an awfully lot alike, but Carolina kept pushing forward even when she wanted to push against the tide of the good-meaning and very funny people she meets upon her arrival in Chancey. My question or you is how like Carolina are you?

Well, the desire to get lost in books is all me. And the snarkiness is me. Matter of fact, one thing the agent mentioned that he didn’t like about my first books was the sarcasm of the main character. So, I just made it first person so all the sarcastic remarks could be in Carolina’s head and not have to come out of her mouth! However, I’ve always had a houseful of people so that reticence of Carolina’s to entertain is not me. I find parts of myself in many of the characters!

One of my favorite parts of this story is the mystery of the “ghost.” It brings up some laugh-aloud moments. Was there anything that happened to you in your life that made you think of bringing this subplot into the story?

Absolutely nothing, except I’ve read lots of ghost stories and actually think I’d be open to seeing a ghost. But so far, no ghosts. However, I have wondered about the folks that say they “live” with ghosts. What’s the thinking process on that? In this story, I hoped the ghost would help Carolina believe things she can’t see, might be real. She’s a very “seeing is believing” person. Another way she and I are not alike.

Another reason the story (both stories actually) touched me so deeply is the humanity in them. These people aren’t perfect. They are different. They are quirky. They think differently than most of us. They fuss and the fidget, but yet they all seem to be the type of people you would want in your circle. Be truthful. Are a few of these folks truly in your life?

Oh, yes. At a writers conference I heard another writer speak about how his family thought he was odd at how he watched people and had to know why they did what they did. Well, that was my story. I am fascinated with why people do what they do. I love watching mannerisms and figuring out how they developed. Susan and her ponytail doing and undoing. Missus and her white gloves and refusal to use contractions in her speech. Lifelong cheerleaders. The black sheep that comes back joyfully to live in their hometown. Being a writer means I not only get to watch all these different people and actions, I get to write about them. And make them even funnier!

Two questions in one: will you share a little about the second book in this series, and please let me know if there’s a chance that I’ll be able to visit Carolina and all of the quirky characters of Chancey any time soon for a new adventure.

The second Chancey book is Chancey Family Lies and finds Carolina not only spending her first holidays in Chancey, but her first as a stay at home mom and B&B operator. As the line on my bookmarks says, “Holidays are different in small towns. They expect you to cook.” Carolina no longer has the suburban grocery stores, with full bakeries and deli’s, plus she’s determined to be the best stay at home mom ever. However, it’s not that easy. Especially when her parents pull in with their RV with plans to stay from Thanksgiving to Christmas, and her in-laws have a blast from the past with them when they also show up for an extended stay. And just when she needs him the most, her husband Jackson is traveling with work. Luckily she has a new friend in Chancey to help out. However, he might want to help her out a little too much. And then, who is that strange girl who came with the kids from college, and seems to want to stay in Chancey? Because, seriously, Carolina wonders, “Why would anyone want to stay in Chancey?

However, Carolina does stay in Chancey and in April 2016 the third book in the series “Derailed in Chancey” comes out.

I’m delighted to hear that I’ll be able to read more of Carolina’s exploits, and I hope you’ll keep me posted so both of you can “sit awhile on Inner Source’s” porch and discuss the latest.

Next Stop, Chancey CoverMore About Next Stop, Chancey:

Looking in your teenage daughter’s purse is never a good idea. When Carolina does, she ends up accidentally selling their home in her beloved Atlanta suburbs to move into her husbands dream home. It’s a big, old house beside a railroad bridge in a small Georgia town. And now he dreams of her opening a B&B for Railroad buffs while he’s off doing his day job. Carolina’s dislike of actually saying “No” leaves an opening for the town bully who wears a lavender skirt and white gloves. Soon, of course, Carolina is opening the B&B with the aid of the entire town of Chancey, Georgia, and it all makes her hate small towns even more than when she was growing up in one. And did I mention there’s a ghost? Yeah, teenagers, trains, and a ghost. This stuff didn’t happen in the suburbs.

Chancey Family Lies frontAnother Great Read by Kay Dew Shostak: Chancey Family Lies:

Carolina is determined her first holiday season as a stay-at-home mom will be perfect. However …

Twelve kids from college (and one nobody seems to know)

Eleven chili dinners (Why do we always need to feed a crowd?)

Ten dozen fake birds (cardinals, no less)

Nine hours without power (but lots of stranded guests)

Eight angry council members (Wait, where’s the town’s money?)

Seven trains a-blowin’ (all the time. All. The. Time).

Six weeks with relatives (six weeks!!)

Five plotting teens (Again, who is that girl?)

Four in-laws staying (and staying, and staying …)

Three dogs a-barking (Who brought the dogs?)

Two big ol’ secrets (and they ain’t wrapped in ribbons under the three, either)

And the perfect season gone with the wind.

 

Author Interview: Laurie Boulden, Author of Flood: A Wife for Shem

author imageToday, it is my pleasure to share an interview with the author of the Biblical historical novel, Flood, A Wife for Shem, Dr. Laurie Boulden, who 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.

Laurie resides in Lake Wales, Florida. When she is not creating stories in her head, she works as an Assistant Professor of Education at Warner University. Family and friends are an important part of her life, as is her church, Trinity Baptist.

Laurie, I want to tell the readers my own experience with this novel. This is one of the titles that I think of when I think of the “ones that got away.” I believed in this project, but publishers have lots of reasons for rejection. I’m a tough cookie when it comes to historical novels. Add Biblical to the title, and I’m even tougher. I was reading it for acquisition. I thought I knew a lot about the Old Testament, especially the stories of Genesis, but as I read, your work continually challenged me to go into Scripture to prove you wrong. Instead, I learned some very interesting truths that I think Christians tend to gloss over. Your study of Noah and your presentation of this fictional story of the woman that God would have for one of Noah’s sons, is one of the best pieces Biblical historical novels I’ve read.

So, Laurie, first question: what made you decide to write the fictional story that recounts the historical flood? It’s probably cliché, but I had a dream. I don’t remember much about it, but I do know I woke up wondering, what would it have been like? I wrote the short story pretty quickly, leading up to the flood. The challenge came imagining life on the ark and then the world they encountered after the flood.

In the novel, you create a unique premise about the protection of God, and it is one that makes me think about something that I didn’t before. In such a depraved society, how did God keep Noah safe? Since I learned so much truth from the stories when your words challenged me back to Scripture, I wondered if your research showed that God might have protected Noah in the way you recount or is this fictional license (that I clearly want to say does not violate any Scripture but does add something for the reader to ponder)? One of the things I found in my research of Genesis was the meaning of names.

Hebrew English
Adam Man
Seth Appointed
Enosh Mortal
Kenan Sorrow.
Mahalalel The Blessed God
Jared Shall come down
Enoch Teaching.
Methuselah His death shall bring
Lamech The despairing
Noah Rest, or comfort.

In order for God’s plan to commence, the line of Christ had to be established and protected. Up to Noah, the group believing in God seems to grow smaller and smaller. The ark preserves the group of believers, and the flood provides the drastic environmental changes necessary for shorter life spans. Do I know for sure? No. But it makes sense, and I find that God typically uses sense and order in his plans.

You create such a clear picture of each of the people readers will know from the Bible: Noah, his sons, and even Methuselah. Can you describe how you brought the Biblical stories to such depth of character? One of the Word weaver members I worked with during development of the story said I was the ninth presence. I’m not exactly sure how or why, they are simply in my mind. I read Genesis. I read Hebrews. I looked at commentary I could find. The characters developed from there.

What’s next for you? Will we be seeing any other stories of Noah’s after the flood or perhaps a new genre? I hadn’t planned on it, but Japheth and Ham (maybe even Noah) have stories that want to be told. I am currently outlining Japheth. The website Get On the Ark (www.GetOnTheArk.com) is set to house additional Flood stories.

On a much different note/genre, I am in the editing stage of a book of fairy tales with a twist called Cinderella Spell and Other Tales Retold. I am looking for publishing avenues for both book and screen.

cover imageMore 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).

 

Who Wrote Whom: Meet the Authors of Unlikely Merger: Raelee May Carpenter:

Raelee May CarpenterMeet Raelee May Carpenter, one of the winners in the novella contest. Raelee entered her chapter about ex-rock star, Reuben Miller and was one of the two authors chosen to work on the collaboration. Raelee is a Christian and an author of contemporary fiction, inspirational essays, and modern mythology. Her work is passionate, descriptive, and just a little edgy. Raelee’s three lifelong passions are faith, people, and words. She’s a tone-deaf music fan and “Mumma” to a young-at-heart, rescued Beagle mix. She has ADHD and ASD, and she is a survivor of childhood sexual abuse. Her favorite thing to write about is the force that saved her life: Grace.

Raelee likes to connect with readers. You can find her on her website, Twitter, Facebook, and Goodreads.

Here’s what she has to say about her chapter and her hero.

The main theme of all of my work—the very reason I write—is grace. I believe God’s grace applies to everyone, and anyone who lets it in to their life and lets it win in their heart can become someone who will make a huge positive impact on this world. Rube Miller’s a rock star, complete with copious tattoos, tabloid attentions, and broken hearts. In him, I created a redeemed man out of someone a lot of people would see as beyond redemption. I hope readers who meet Reuben can remember how BIG our God is, so they can learn to love like He loves and know the Truth—that no one is beyond His reach.

~Raelee May Carpenter

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?

liberation songRaelee is the author of Liberation Song:

When we first meet Aili MacIntyre, she’s doing what she’s been doing all her life: running in fear. She flees through a foreign jungle with two young girls and tries to save them from the forced prostitution ring that has held them in a virtual hell-on-earth. But tragedy meets them under the trees, and only one child escapes.

Three years later, Alexandra Adelaide has acquired a new identity and a radically different scene: the metropolitan jungle of Greater Los Angeles. She, though saved by Grace, has invented what she believes is the appropriate way to suffer for her own sins. Alex is raising the child who was orphaned by her insecurities. And she never, for a second, lets herself forget the pain caused by her mistakes.

Then the real tragedy strikes: she falls in love.

Matthew Gold is everything she needs and a lot more than she could’ve imagined. Bright, attractive, generous, and with his own vested interest in Grace, Matt works hard to earn Alex’s trust and a place in her life. He even loves and seeks to protect her daughter, who is the key to breaking open the biggest human trafficking case in recent history.

But Alex has lived in fear since she took her first breath. So how does she let Love start a new day? How does she choose courage even as very real dangers draw closer to her barred doors?

Raelee is also the author of The Lincoln High Project and Kings and Shepherds.

Who Wrote Whom: Meet the Authors of Unlikely Merger: Carole Towriss

ctowriss-5Carole Towriss wrote one of the two winning entries in the Unlikely Merger contest. Carole grew up in beautiful San Diego, California. Now she and her husband live just north of Washington, DC. In between making tacos and telling her four children to pick up their shoes for the third time, she reads, writes, watches chick flicks and waits for summertime to return to the beach. She is the author of biblical novels In the Shadow of Sinai and By the Waters of Kadesh. She also writes for Christ to the World Ministries. You can find her at www.CaroleTowriss.com as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Here’s what Carole has to say about the creation of her hero, Ric Montoya.

Several factors went into making Ric the hero he became. First, I wanted to set my chapter in San Diego, since that’s where I grew up.

Second, my own family history isn’t necessarily one to be proud of. I wanted my hero to have a rich heritage, centuries old, full of faith and love—the kind of family any girl would dream about being part of.

Third, Mercy is an only child, and I thought throwing her into a big family gathering might be fun.

My high school was 85% Mexican-American, so I decided to make my hero tall, dark, and handsome! Mexico has a fabulous culture that I thought would make for a fascinating protagonist. Mexicans traditionally have large, close families, and deep faith. Though Ric’s the oldest, he’s the only one not married, which puts him puts him against tradition and keeps his siblings on his case. He’s been concentrating on the company, so like Mercy, he’s not been dating.

I searched long and hard for an industry unique to San Diego. The big businesses there are the US Navy and tourism, and I couldn’t think of a way to translate those to this novella. After a lot of googling, I stumbled on the olive oil industry and learned more about olives than I could ever want to know! The Mission Olive is the only variety in the world found solely in America. They were brought here by the Spanish monks who founded missions all along the coast of California on El Camino Real, the King’s Highway. The Mission Olive nearly died out, but has recently experienced a resurgence.

I had the Montoyas come to California with Father Serra, the founder of San Diego in 1796, and then I had Ric be a part of this resurgence. This gave him a rich heritage tied to both San Diego and Mexico, the monks and the missions.

Who can resist that?

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?

Other great multi-author collaborative novellas from Write Integrity Press: A Dozen Apologies and The Love Boat Bachelorand great Christmas reads: The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt and A Ruby ChristmasHeart Bouquets, romantic short stories is also available. As a special note: Marji Laine is the only author to have collaborated in each of the Write Integrity novellas.

Carole is also the author of two Biblical historical novels:

ISOS Front Cover HQaIn the Shadow of Sinai:

Bezalel is a Hebrew slave to Ramses II. An artisan of the highest order, Ramses has kept him in the palace even when all other Israelites have been banned. Bezalel blames El Shaddai for isolating him from his people.

When Moses and Aaron appear one summer, and El Shaddai shakes Egypt to its core, Bezalel must reexamine his anger. Over the course of the next year, Bezalel’s life becomes intertwined with those of an Egyptian child-slave, the captain of the guard, and especially a beautiful, young concubine.

When spring arrives, all of them escape with the young nation of Israel. But that’s only the beginning…

By the waters of KadeshBy the Waters of Kadesh:

A displaced soldier anticipates only empty tomorrows. A young widow knows nothing but yesterdays filled with abuse and neglect. A spy sees only a today he can manipulate to gain the power he craves. Will they allow Yahweh to give them what they need? Kamose, once Egypt’s most trusted soldier, no longer has a country to serve or king to protect. Moses insists God has a plan for him, but Kamose is not so sure. Tirzah’s cruel husband died shortly after they left Egypt. She escaped his brutality, but now she’s alone, and once they reach their new land, how will she survive? Gaddiel, Tirzah’s brother-in-law, is chosen as one of the twelve spies sent to scout out Canaan. He’s supposed to go in, get information and come back, but all he really wants is to bring down Joshua.

Who Wrote Whom: Meet the Authors of Unlikely Merger: Marji Laine

Marji LaineToday’s guest is the one who started us all on Mercy’s adventurer. Marji Laine is a wife and homeschooling mom with teenage twins left in the nest. Having just released her debut novella Grime Beat, she spends her non-writing time transporting to and from volleyball, directing high school classes at a local coop, and leading the children’s music program at her church. From suburban Dallas, she loves to create scintillating suspense with a side of Texas sassy. She invites readers to unravel their inspiration, seeking a deeper knowledge of the Lord’s Great Mystery that invites us all.

Mercy Lacewell is/was Marji Lane’s heroine in The Love Boat Bachelor, and having been the runner -up for the hero’s affections in that story, Marji did a great job of getting Mercy out in the business world to meet people–especially some mighty fine heroes.

Marji is the author who brought us Dustin Rogers. Here’s what she says about creating Dustin:

It’s funny, he sort of came about as I wrote the chapter. I’d expected him to be a little more on the ambitious, competitive side, but he didn’t turn out that way. As I focused on his goals, sheer money initiative didn’t seem to be enough. He wanted to prove something.

And that’s when I was inspired by NASCAR racer, Carl Edwards. I couldn’t tell you Carl’s personal motive for racing, though I expect it’s because he loves the strategy and speed. But I imagine that a racer or athlete of any sort might very well want to prove something. So I used a younger version of the driver as my visual motivation for Dustin’s character.

And Dustin does have something to prove. He wants to succeed as an executive with his integrity and faith intact. Not unlike “Jesus Loves You” hat-wearing Henry Lacewell. I can certainly see Dustin as the next president of Lacewell Limited, even if he doesn’t win the hand of the current president’s daughter.

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?

Other great multi-author collaborative novellas from Write Integrity Press: A Dozen Apologies and The Love Boat Bachelorand great Christmas reads: The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt and A Ruby ChristmasHeart Bouquets, romantic short stories is also available. As a special note: Marji Laine is the only author to have collaborated in each of the Write Integrity novellas.

Grime Beat cover5a (1)Marji’s new release is Grime Beat:

Her best friend missing, every cell in Dani Foster’s body screams something is wrong.

Crime scene cleaning is the perfect job for neat-nick Dani Foster. But her orders to maintain a low profile and stay out of trouble mean little when her friend goes missing. Suspicions point to the handsome crime scene specialist, Jay Hunter, but he’s also the only person willing to help Dani. Dare she trust him even when lies seem to surround him?

Dani amuses Jay. Her penchant for speaking and acting without regard to the consequences land her in the funniest situations. But her latest moves have thrust her into serious danger. As he learns more about her circumstances, her risk rises until her very life is on the line. He has no time or inclination for romance, but this girl needs him and she seems to have no one else. How can he turn his back?

The voting for favorite hero is over, but if you want to know a little more about them pending the free release of the novella on Kindle, which will reveal the winning hero and show us how he might win Mercy’s heart, you can read their interviews: : Dustin Rogers, Landon Gates, Ric Montoya, Gabriel “Gabe” Mann, Talon Hawthorne. Douglas “Digger” Grant, Levi Shepherd, Steve Leclerc, Reuben “Rube” Miller and Daniel Knight.

Here are some more posts of interest from out authors:

Jennifer Hallmark: Why I Keep Saying Yes to The Proposal by Julie Arduini and Traveling with Others by Phee Paradise