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Author and Reader Connection

Up until the New Year, I was using a newsletter to connect with readers and writers each week, but that felt too intrusive. Yet, I had promised several great authors and wonderful readers that I would include them on a newsletter. What better way to start the New Year then meeting some refreshing authors and some wonderful readers?

WONDERFUL AUTHORS

MARJI LAINE CLUBINE:

Marji Laine Clubine is more than an author. She’s a publisher. She’s my publisher, and I’m her cohost, and so blessed that she asked me to join her each month on Down Publishing Laine. If you haven’t caught the show, be sure to mark your calendar and join us on the first Tuesday of every month.  I’m so delighted to get to introduce you to her (if you don’t know her already). Even though Marji and I haven’t met in person–or we did and don’t remember–we have had some misadventures over blog talk and on the phone. All of them fun.

Marji’s a former homeschooling mom who’s not looking forward to an empty nest. Thankfully, her final two graduates are gracing her with their presence for a little while longer. She loves family game night, hosting a weekly high-school/college Bible study, directing her church’s children’s choir, and singing harmony in the adult choir. When she’s not publishing others’ books or working on her own, she’s taking spontaneous road trips with her trusty camera and a couple of besties, or she’s scrapbooking or cover-making with a Hallmark movie on in the background. She love nanograms, Marvel movies, Hand and Foot, worship music, Tim Hawkins, “When Calls the Heart,” and “Live PD.” She prefer mountains to beaches, dogs to cats, winter to summer, and cookies to any other dessert. I have a passion for encouragement and spreading hope, and my goal is to show that through all of my stories.

Why Marji believes readers will enjoy her work:

I was editing my latest book, Ain’t Misbehaving a couple of days ago. I hadn’t read the manuscript in probably 2 or 3 years and was reduced to tears at least 4 times. The take-the-glasses-off and find-a-tissue type of tears. The characters in my stories are raw, broken, and struggling to follow the Lord just like I am. Just like most readers are. I swear they are real. In fact, the building where I situated CJ Whelen – my hero in Ain’t Misbehaving – is in downtown Dallas in the Arts District. And every time I drive past it on the freeway, I can’t help but glance up to the 18th floor, northwest corner balcony. One of these days, I’m just sure I’ll see him standing up there.

JAMES CRESSLER:

I’ve connected with and stayed connected with many authors I’ve met at conferences. James and I have been in contact for three or four years. I was intrigued by Jim’s Diary of an Oak Tree, a unique story for children, which is also a learning tool. James is multi-faceted in his writing.

James is a 2012 graduate of Valencia College. He lives in Orlando with his wife, Julia. His twenty years of Army service in the Cold War and Desert Storm gives Jim some of his writing inspiration. He is currently writing Demimonde, a fantasy fiction about a mysterious entity that traps and enslaves people in its half-world where reality, insanity, and addiction reign. Ben Astray escapes from Baser’s corner bars and Shantytown vices to Ism Harbor and boards a Treatment Ship to Sobriety Island. Will he die at sea, find truth and recover or is it all madness?

Why James believes readers will enjoy his work:

Diary of an Oak Tree is illustrated and LifeRich did a perfect job on the cover and pagination. But more importantly, like all of my work, it’s different. The reader gets to live the life of Notch, the governor squirrel, Dagger the cat, or the wayseer raccoon, Sage. They time travel to post-Edenic Earth. They learn a new language. They escape our world and live in another where everything is possible, even animated mother oak trees.

I write to create a legacy, something that will endure the test of time.

SHARON K. CONNELL

Sharon K. Connell was born in Wisconsin and lived there for five short days. From that time through college, she lived in Illinois. For over twenty years, Sharon made her home in Florida where she graduated from the Pensacola Bible Institute. She has also lived in California, Ohio, and Missouri. Now retired from the business world, she resides in Houston, Texas, enjoying every minute of her writing career.

Except for six, Sharon has visited every state in the United States. She has also travelled to Canada and Mexico. The stories in her four published novels reflect some of the experiences she has had in her travels. Sharon writes stories about people who discover God will allow things to happen in your life that will help you grow and/or increase your faith. Her genre is Christian/Romance/Suspense, with a little mystery and humor added for good measure.

Why Sharon believes readers will enjoy her work:

Readers love to read my books because the stories are written in a way that draws the reader into the lives of the characters. My characters have flaws just like real people, and struggle to find answers, just like real people do.

The style of writing I have adopted helps the reader to feel the emotions of the characters. I also include twists and turns which makes the story suspenseful and adds an element of mystery. But of course, I always have moments of humor, because laughter is good for the soul.

JUNE FOSTER

June is a good friend of mine. We have gone on a few adventures, some planned and some accidental, but all of them fun. We met when I fell in love with her hero in Ryan’s Father, and our friendship grew from there. I love June Foster’s quirky characters and plots.

An award-winning author, June Foster is a retired teacher with a BA in education and MA in counseling. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood Series, Give Us This DayAs We Forgive, and Deliver Us, and Hometown Fourth of July. Since then she’s also written Ryan’s Father, Red and the Wolf, a modern day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood, The Almond Tree Series: For All EternityEchoes From the PastWhat God Knew and Almond Street Mission. Also available is Lavender Fields InnChristmas at Raccoon CreekRestoration of the HeartLetting Go, and Prescription for Romance. Find all June’s books at Amazon.com. June enjoys writing stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. Find June online at junefoster.com.

Why June believes readers will enjoy her work:

Great question. First I need to think about my target audience—people who might read my books. If I’m correct, women between eighteen and ninety read my work. Many are Christians, some are seeking the Lord, and others are working through spiritual issues in their lives. I believe they will like my work because they can identify with the struggles, the aspirations, the joys, the blessings, and changes God is making in their hearts. My characters deal with anger, obesity, low self esteem, abortion, loss, and even homosexuality, not to mention some who just enjoy life. And finally, others will enjoy my work because they will read a great story that keeps them engaged.

LINDA MARAN

I met Linda Maran through acquisitions, and fell in love with her style. 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, painting, 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.

Why Linda believes readers will enjoy her work?

I think readers will enjoy the book because it seems that at one time or another in our lives, we long to be part of something. We want to fit in. For some of us this happens as children or as teens, and for others at various times in our lives. When we get a new job. Join a new church. Meet our future in-laws. A part of being human, for me, is to know I am loved and belong to specific people. Be they my spouse, family or good friends. The heroine in the novel, Kristen, is trying to find herself and see where she fits in while experiencing the new sense of family and people who rally around her. I think we all want that, and for those of us who do not always have it, it encourages us to not lose hope. God provides for all of us in His own time and sometimes in the most unexpected ways.

SHIRLEY CROWDER

Born in Nigeria, West Africa, where her parents served as missionaries, Shirley is passionate about disciple-making, which is manifested through a myriad of ministry opportunities that include biblical counseling, teaching Bible studies, speaking at conferences, writing, co-hosting a radio/TV program for women, and serving on the national advisory team for The Addiction Connection. Three published books and two soon-to-be released devotionals were contributed to, authored, or co-authored by Shirley. She has written a newspaper, Student Life, Seek Magazine, and Woman’s Missionary Union. Shirley has spiritual children and grandchildren serving the Lord in various ways throughout the world.

Why Shirley believes readers will enjoy her work:

Writers are busy people who usually have a gazillion projects in the works a the same time. These three devotionals examine what the Bible says through explanation and personal stories that the Holy Spirit can use to ignite or deepen the readers passion to now Him better. “Hope for New Beginnings” adds in-depth challenges to the reader as he or she interacts with the biblical principles and develop concrete steps for spiritual growth. The “Study Guide on Prayer: It’s Not About You by Harriet E. Michael” guides you, as you read a chapter in Harriet’s book, to delve deeper into the teachings, principles, and/or practices from each chapter.

Why Shirley’s publisher, Write Integrity Press, loves her work:

Shirley’s Bible study guide allows readers to go even deeper as they are studying Prayer: It’s Not About You. Her devotions include personal stories, some heartwarming and others full of humor. She writes encouragement and comfort for Christ-followers. And in all of her writings, she persuades the reader to draw closer to God.

AWESOME READERS

While we know that all authors should be readers, not all readers are authors. However, where would an author be without someone to read their work? Here are a few readers, I’ve asked the same questions to–purposefully. I wanted to see the variety of answers and introduce authors to the audiences for their chosen genres.

TINA BOYER

I met Tina online through our mutual friendship with author, Linda Maran, and she gladly accepted my invitation to answer these questions.

In what state or region do you reside?

I live in Arizona.

Besides reading, what is of major interest to you?

I am also interested in Film and Digital media/graphic design.

What is your favorite genre, and why?

Favorite genre is Inspiration Romance, which includes both historical and modern equally. I am a sucker for a good romance, but I prefer a “clean” and non-graphic romance, which is why I am drawn to the Inspirational Romances.

What is the book that you consider your all-time favorite?

All-Time favorite would be Christy by Catherine Marshall.

What book are you reading right now?

I am currently reading Sweetbriar Cottage by Denise Hunter.

MARJI LAINE CLUBINE

Marji’s back–this time as a reader, but she’s also a publisher, so authors might want to take note.

In what state or region do you reside?

I live in North Dallas. I group up in the suburbs on the east side and have lived in Northeast Texas (including college years) since I was 2 years old.

Besides reading, what is of major interest to you?

My major interest is publishing other authors’ books – I really love my job. But I also love leading our high school/college Bible study and directing our church’s children’s choir. Oh, and family game night – LOVE family game night!

What is your favorite genre, and why?

Romantic suspense and romantic mystery have always been my favorites. Phyllis A. Whitney, Mignon Eberhart, Agatha Christie, and Trixie Belden Mysteries when I was growing up. Now that I’m older, I enjoy Dana Mentink, Lynette Eason, Dani Pettrey, Kristen Hogrefe, Elizabeth Noyes, and Fay Lamb! 🙂

What is the book that you consider your all-time favorite?

I couldn’t possibly narrow it down to one. I love the story of Pride and Prejudice, though I confess I only read half of the book. I’ve only read a handful of books more than once – most of them children’s chapter books when I did read-alouds as a teacher. I think my current favorite, though is the Rogue series by Kristen Hogrefe – masterfully written and full of action, mystery, and suspense – and romance. Yep. Gotta have some romance in it!

What book are you reading right now?

Another confession, now that my new job requires so much reading (editing) I seldom read for enjoyment. I find I’m correcting too much. But I do listen to books on Audible. I just finished Eason’s Elite Guardian series and am now listening to Joanne Fluke’s Hanna Swensen mysteries. I love the Hallmark movies based on these books and having fun with more of the stories.

ELIZABETH “BETTY” NOYES

Elizabeth “Betty” Noyes and I met as critique partners and we have become fast friends. I have been privileged to listen to her provide in-person critique, and I have been blessed to have her critique my work. I know she reads with a different eye, and I’m excited for you to meet her as a reader.

In what state or region do you reside?

Atlanta, Georgia.

Besides reading, what is of major interest to you?

Bible studies, Travel, Crocheting, Baking, Grandkids

What is your favorite genre, and why?

Favorite genre to read is sci fi; to write is romantic suspense.

What is the book that you consider your all-time favorite?

Gone With The Wind followed closely by The Stand.

What book are you reading right now?

The Harbinger by Jonathan Cahn

SARAH BLANCHARD

Sarah is one of my favorite persons in the world. We met when were very young teenagers. She and her brother lived next to my grandmother’s “vacation” home on Merritt Island, and we spent a lot of time on the river and in Sarah’s house. Sarah’s beautiful mother, Nancy, was the one who encouraged me to keep writing all those years ago. We reunited for a sad day last year, but we’ve stayed in contact since, and I was very interested in getting Sarah’s answers to these questions.

In what state or region do you reside?

Tampa Bay, Florida

Besides reading, what is of major interest to you?

Florida’s environmental preservation, Christianity, and studying piano

What is your favorite genre and why?

Murder mysteries. I love to hide under the covers and lock all the doors and windows.

What is the book that you consider your all-time favorite?

Hiroshima, John Hersey.  A tough read and life-changing reading experience.

What book(s) are you reading now?

Dawn of The Belle EpochThe Paris of MonetZolaEiffelDebussyClemenceau, and Their Friends By Mary McAuliffe.

FAY LAMB:

Fay Lamb writes emotionally charged stories with a Romans 8:28 attitude, reminding readers that God is always in the details. Fay donates 100% of her royalties to Christian charities.

Storms in Serenity is the first book in Fay’s Serenity Key series, which will release in March of this year. Fay’s other series include, Amazing Grace and her novels, Stalking Willow, Better than RevengeEverybody’s Brokenand Frozen Notes. The Ties that Bind Series includes Charisse, Libby, and Hope. Delilah, is coming soon.

Fay’s is also the author of The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Why do I believe readers will enjoy my work?

When I sit down to write, I don’t plan on writing a book. I plan on creating a world inside of my readers’ imaginations where they can escape and unwind. I imagine my characters on stage, that I’m a part of the cast, and I’m in the midst of the story with them. In that way, I am sure that my readers will be in the story as well and not simply watching the stage from the audience.

A special thank you to all who took part in the spotlights.

I’m praying that reader and authors alike will have a very Blessed and Happy New Year!

And that pesky newsletter? I think I’ll bring it back in another format pretty soon. For now, here’s a little bit about me:

 

 

 

 

 

Interview with Linda Maran, Author of The Stranger

Today’s guest is Linda Maran, the author of The Stranger. 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.

Thank you for being with us, Linda. I’m excited for your brand-new release, a unique Amish story that I’ve seen described as “bonnet” fiction with a suspenseful twist. We discussed the story with your heroine, Kristen Esh, earlier this week, but I’m anxious to hear how you came to write The Stranger.

I have wondered the same thing, until I went back and reviewed my childhood and teen years. I grew up as an only child and the others who were my age on our block had siblings. I loved going over to my friend’s house two doors down to be in a lively household, especially during holidays. I enjoyed having a friend as added company to come over and eat dinner with us. One time my parents allowed a friend to come on vacation with us so I had a companion my own age. I suppose there’d been a sense of loneliness that I can relate to in my main character. It amazes me how it comes forth in the writing.

Kristen’s story is one of a modern-day teen, almost a woman, who is unfamiliar with the ways of the Amish, yet she finds herself living among them. If you were to find yourself in the same situation as Kristen, how do you think you would do?

I am a creature of habit, and the thought of moving away from friends and relatives seems unthinkable. One of my critique partners said that Kristen’s panic upon arriving at the home of her Amish relatives comes forth loud and clear. That must be my own feeling about it coming through.

There is a subtle message in the story concerning appearances and truth and how misunderstandings can separate people from the ones they love. In the Amish setting it is a plot that shines brightly. When I write, sometimes the message or the theme finds me, so I’m very interested in how you may have discovered the theme that fits so well into the story.

Throughout my life I have tried to be ‘me’ in not only how I behave but in how I present myself. Many times, especially before I knew who I was on the inside fully, I’d worn various “masks.” I had many pairs of high heels never worn, flashy jewelry, and other outer adornments that were purchased to impress or to fit in. I never gravitated toward makeup. I guess I was more of a “Plain Jane” and a sweat shirt and jeans kind of gal. So, I loved going where the artsy folks lived because our tastes are similar. I came to know where I fit. It’s a good feeling when you find it and I wanted Kristen to find her ‘fit’ as well. And in my experience, that can only start on the inside, then it just all falls into place.

I smiled when I saw you mention “Plain Jane.” I have to admit it takes an Amish story with a good twist like The Stranger, to get my attention in the genre. One of my other favorite Amish stories is entitled Plain Jayne.

You write so well about the Amish life that I had to ask Kristen these same questions. Today, I’d like to know what things in the Amish life that you would have trouble with accepting, and what would you embrace?

I have trouble with their lack of affection both in public and within the home. Being Italian, we hug and kiss our greetings and older women tend to take your arm when walking. Children are very openly affectionate. I would not do well in a household with an outhouse. I’d have to come up with something to avoid that issue, sort of like Kristen’s under-the-bed chamber pot.

I respect their work ethic and how they help one another in times of trouble with repairing homes, caring for farms and erecting barns. And as a woman, there’d never be a problem with deciding what to wear!

Are you working on a new project, and if so, what can we look forward to seeing from you next?

I am currently editing two novels. One is a contemporary inspirational romance about the world of entertainment and the struggles within such an environment in maintaining a relationship and Christian values. The other is an Amish suspense novel that takes place in the same area as my first novel.

Well, I’m hoping to get the chance to read those novels. Please keep us advised. We’d love to have you visit us again on Inner Source.

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.

 

Author Interview: Linda Shenton Matchett, Author of Under Fire

Today’s guest is Linda Shenton Matchett, author of Under Fire, a World War II historical. Linda 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.

Welcome, Linda. I have to confess that I loved your story when I read it before its publication, but I only recently learned about your flourishing career. Congratulations.

Thanks for your kind words. I’m glad we reconnected. You were a great encouragement to me when your publisher was considering my manuscript. I also learned a lot about craft from you, especially about how to look at story and character arcs.

Thank you so much. I am always humbled and blessed when someone says that the Lord used me in their writing career. I know our readers would love to hear a little about your novel, Under Fire.

Under Fire was the result of a lot of different experiences. I was an HR professional for many years, and I’m fascinated by the history of women in the workplace and their taking roles traditionally held by men which began en masse with WWII. I was enrolled in Jerry Jenkins’ Christian Writer’s Guild at the same time I was reading a biography of Margaret Bourke-White (WWII photojournalist). As part of my assignments, I devised the plot about a female war correspondent/amateur sleuth. In addition to being a mystery, Under Fire follows Ruth’s crisis of faith.

What drew you to write a World War II historical?

I have always loved all history, but because of the incredible Wright Museum of WWII which is located in my town, about fifteen years ago I began to focus my interest on the WWII era. I’m impressed by the stories of ordinary folks doing extraordinary things because their country asked it of them. I wanted to explore issues that people were experiencing because of the war: deprivation, women entering the workforce in droves (whether they wanted to or not), choices they were forced to make, etc. I also wanted to explore the concept whether it a valid assumption to believe that crime, especially murder, would diminish during wartime. Or does violence begat violence?

Your heroine, Ruth, is truly on an epic journey, both dangerous and one of self-discovery. Did you model her after a person you know or an historical figure?

Ruth is a composite of my great-aunt Dorothy Holland Hatter, my paternal grandmother Margaret Nagel Shenton, and my imagination. Aunt Dot lost her husband, Norman, a few years after he returned from WWI. He had been exposed to mustard gas and spent his last two years in a sanatorium. She lived her life with a quiet strength yet had an independent streak. She did a lot of international traveling by herself which was unusual for a single woman of her generation. She had a delightful sense of humor that often caught us unawares. My grandmother lost her father when she was five years old, but adored her step-father and would often talk about how grateful she was for him. She and my grandfather struggled through the Great Depression, and as a result, she was highly resilient and self-sufficient. I hope that I have captured some of their essence in Ruth.

I usually don’t get political in my interviews, but because Ruth has faced so much in her quest for justice, and she has seen war as a civilian, what do you believe someone like her would say in regard to what is going on in our football stadiums today?

Considering that in Under Fire Ruth covers union negotiations at a manufacturing plant and the issue of rights is a large part of the discussion, this is a very pertinent question for her. I think she would be conflicted about the situation. As a journalist, Ruth would defend the players’ rights to freedom of speech, and her own willingness to “go against the grain” by taking what was perceived as a man’s job would give her empathy for the men. But as product of her era, Ruth would disagree with their actions. In the 1940s (and before) there was a hierarchy and a definite “chain of command,” so for the players to go against the grain (and against owners) to protest, especially something as sacred as the flag, Ruth would say they have a right to their opinion, but not a right to display it on the job. And then she’d dig around until she got the full story!

Ruth, like so many Americans of that time, was etched with the scars of war. For her, those scars came in different ways. Do you believe that Ruth’s generation faced a greater threat then than we do today?

Perhaps because I didn’t live through the war, it feels as if we are facing a greater, multi-pronged threat today. Terrorism is attacking from without, but disagreement and leaders who seem intent on their own agendas rather than the greater good of the country are dividing (attacking) us from within. Ruth’s generation seemed to only have one common, obvious enemy that threatened.

Please tell our readers about your writing career. I’ll share your growing list of works in this post, but I’m excited to hear what’s coming next.

I have been writing since I was in elementary school, but I didn’t get serious about publication until about ten years ago. I stumbled into several freelance opportunities which awakened my desire to create stories again. I submitted a manuscript to Barbour and received an encouraging rejection letter from Senior Fiction Editor, Rebecca Germany. She took time to give me specific feedback on what worked and didn’t work with the story and also suggested that attending conferences or classes, reading books on the craft, and securing a critique group would help me improve my skills. She then indicated I was welcome to resubmit. That was the glimmer of hope I needed. Those words told me she thought I had what it took to get published. I spent the next few years studying. I enrolled in Jerry Jenkins’s Christian Writer’s Guild, attended ACFW and SinCNE writing conferences, subscribed to a couple of writer’s magazine, and devoured books about writing. After having Under Fire professionally edited, I researched publishers and began to submit. After almost three years of submitting, eLectio picked it up, and the book came out this summer. Prior to that I had a mix of experiences. A small publisher put out my contemporary novella, but closed the business a couple of months later, so I got the rights back. I independently published that novella and two historical novellas. Another small publisher published a historical novelette with a second on the way in November 2017. As far as what’s coming next, Under Fire is the first in a trilogy, and I’d love to see books two and three get picked up. Meanwhile I keep writing, and I’m now working on another mystery, tentatively titled Murder of Convenience about a young woman who joins the USO to get out from under an arranged marriage. When her fiancé is found murdered, she must prove her innocence.

Thank you for sharing today on Inner Source, Linda, and congratulations on your fantastic writing career. 

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.

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 ForestAward-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 StoryWarren, 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.

To read Inner Source’s interview with Linda’s heroine, Ruth Brown, from Under Fire you can find it here.

Interview with Gay N. Lewis, Author of Mattie’s Choice

Today’s guest on Inner Source is Gay N. Lewis, the author of Mattie’s Choice. 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 Choiceand 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. Also catch Gay at https://www.amazon.com/author/gaynlewis and www.facebook.com/GayNLewis and also on Twitter @GayNLewis2Sarah has her own Facebook page. Follow Sarah on Facebook@ Sarah Wingspand

Gay, I’m so glad that I have this opportunity to interview you. Mattie’s Choice is an historical novel which deals with a difficult issue, one that has troubled Christians and even divides Christians. I believe that the story is a true example and an outreach for women in a similar situation as Mattie.

First of all, let’s get to the heart of the matter. Would you share the issue you deal with in Mattie’s Choice and tell us why you wrote it?

With my newest book, Mattie’s Choice, I’ve departed from my sweet, whimsical, fantasy genre about a dyslexic angel. Oh, Sarah is still up to her bumbles and antics, but I’ve put her in time out for a while.

Mattie’s Choice is a Christian women’s fiction book about two women married to abusive brothers. This story was inspired by my mother-in-law and an aunt by marriage. The book is not biographical, but many of the events in this book actually happened to these women.

Here’s an example. One of Paul’s (hubby) older brothers had to be hospitalized many times. Paul’s dad wouldn’t let his mother be with a five-year-old during multiple surgeries. Hard to believe, right? Most of us ladies today would say, “No way, buster. Out of my way.” On the other hand, too many women live with a controlling man and are forced to do as they say. Choices are not easy in these circumstances.

My father-in-law wasn’t physically abusive but emotionally cruel. Paul’s mom wasn’t allowed to visit her twin brother or any family members. She couldn’t go to her dad’s funeral. My mom-in-law was a strong woman who managed to live with this claustrophobic existence and reared eleven children. All of whom are emotionally healthy—none took after their dad’s controlling ways. They are successful and respectable citizens.

I’ve met women who live with abusive husbands. I’d hoped this book would give them courage to face up to the danger and find alternative ways to deal with it. I believe we often see ourselves by looking at others. One woman I know was actually awakened from a deep sleep when her husband pulled her from her bed by her hair. Another one was forced to sit up all night and read Scripture. Women shouldn’t feel threatened. Scripture tells husbands to love the wife as Christ loved the church. I hope men will read this book, too, and understand how a woman feels. If he is controlling, I hope he sees the need to change. If a woman is in an unhealthy situation, I hope she’ll get help. It’s out there these days.

The title of the novel strikes me every time I hear it. Mattie, like everyone, has choices to make in her life, and the choice she makes reveals her courage and her faith in keeping with her promises, although those promises come at a great cost to her. Your novel actually has two choices. Mattie’s sister-in-law’s way of dealing with the problem is much different and more quickly remedied than Mattie’s. I’m going to step aside, and I’d love for you to provide your thoughts on the choices set before your main character and your secondary character.

Thanks for asking that question. The original title of the book was Choices. The story is about the choices all the characters made. Mattie eloped and chose to keep her promises. Jesse, the husband, chose to control his wife’s thoughts and actions. Mattie’s father chose to decline help. Maury, Mattie’s brother, chose to support from afar. Society chose to ignore a woman’s circumstances. Joe, Ella’s husband, chose alcohol. Ella chose to stand up to her man. Pelican Book Group, my publisher, already had a book titled Choices. My title had to be changed, and I chose Mattie’s Choice since she is the central character.

What would you tell someone who is embroiled in a situation such as the one that Mattie faces?

Get help. Leave. Protect yourself and your children. Secret shelters exist today where abusive men can’t find you. The best possible scenario is to avoid a marriage with a controlling or abusive man. Find out about him. Hire a detective if necessary. What are his parents like? How does he treat others?  If investigation pulls up nothing alarming, and a fearful situation emerges, get out as quickly as possible. God wants a wife protected, loved and cherished. Not fearful for her life.

Mattie’s family loved her, but they made some tough choices themselves. I think about what I would do if someone I loved was in a relationship like Mattie’s. What do you think a family should do when someone they loved is being harmed by the one person who should love and protect them?

We had this situation with a daughter. We were on vacation when we learned that our son-in-law had taken all monies from a joint account. Our daughter had written checks for bills and they were destined to bounce. We quickly put money into her account, and then my husband called the father of our son-in-law. He was a reasonable man. These two older men spoke about the situation and agreed our daughter and his son needed to end the marriage. The couple agreed. They separated and locks were changed. The son-in-law broke into the house. Our daughter called us and the police. We got there before the officer did. The officer said he couldn’t make the husband leave. The law was on his side because his driver’s license had the address on it. This guy came from a lovely home, and he had parents we liked and respected. In divorce court, we learned the son-in-law had a history of abusing women. He’d kept it a secret even from his parents. Why? I have no idea, but if an investigation had taken place before marriage, that detail would have emerged. As parents, we were active in supporting our daughter and protecting her.

Thank you for sharing your heart. I know that it takes a lot to share family troubles, but your words could help someone who is going through something similar.

Will you let our readers know what you’re working on now and what is in store for them in the future from the pen of Gay N. Lewis?

I have two Sarah books ready for publication to add to the existing series. My dyslexic angel comes to earth to help humans and she bungles each mission. God gave Sarah empathy for humans. Jesus was the only Divine/Man on earth, but Sarah is given a few earthly traits while she visits us. That’s how she relates to us and our doubts, baubles, and bumbles.

I also have a sequel to Mattie’s Choice. It’s going by the title, Rebecca’s Family Secrets. Mattie’s daughter, Rebecca, is the star in this book. It’s pure romance with a great deal of suspense. It’s also historical. There’s no domestic violence in this one. Just pure fun.

Thanks for having me. You asked me soul-searching questions, and I enjoyed answering them.

Thank you, Gay. I don’t believe I said this to you through our work on this story, but I have, from the start, admired your heart and your tenacity for making sure that those who are suffering from spousal abuse know that there is hope for them.

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?

Interview with Julie B. Cosgrove, Author of Baby Bunco

Today’s guest on Inner Source is author Julie B Cosgrove. 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.

Welcome to Inner Source, Julie. I’m so glad to have you here today. My first question has to be about the game of Bunco. In your cozy mysteries, I get an idea of how the game is played, but how did you come up with it as a backdrop for a cozy mystery series?

Thanks, Fay. I am honored to be asked to be here. I play Bunco with other Christian ladies whenever I can, so it seemed like a different theme…and a fun way to bring in all the characters.

A senior community in Texas is also a very good backdrop and allows you to create some sweet and quirky little characters. Did this setting spring from any experience or did you just make it up and run with it?

I had a book booth at a festival several years ago at one of these graduated retirement communities and toured their facilities. These communities are really popping up as all of us Baby Boomers get up in years. So I asked an editor at a writers’ conference, where I was holding a workshop, if that would be a unique setting. Her eyes lit up, so I went with it. The first in the series, Dumpster Dicing, came out in August, 2016 and won Best Cozy Mystery by the Texas Association of Authors.

In Baby Bunco, the mystery deals with quite a serious subject. I don’t want to give the story away because it is definitely worth the reader waiting to find out what’s going on. In the backdrop of this sleepy little area, which I understand is growing but sits out away from some the metropolises in that area of Texas, do you find a lot of crime to draw from in your stories?

We raised our son in one of these bedroom communities in Central Texas, and as it grew (from 4,500 to 50,000 in eleven years), our security and sense of safety diminished.  It became “new territory” for crime gangs whereas those territories are often well established and marked out in metropolitan areas. Also because these towns are spread out, it is easier for the crime syndicates to go unnoticed, believe it or not.

And I have to ask this one because I interviewed her on Monday. Janie is a former police officer’s wife, and she’s pretty handy with getting herself into trouble while doing some pretty mean investigative work. Is Janie based upon someone in your life?

No, not really. I think she is a composite of who I’ll want to be in another decade or so, along with some pretty gutsy Texas matrons I have known through the years. I basically wanted to show that just because you have gray hair, it doesn’t mean you have dementia or are feeble. With many folks living well into their eighties and nineties, seventy is the new forty.

I know that you have a new novel in the series which is about to be released. Would you like to tell us a little about it? When can we expect it? I’d also love to hear about any other works in progress we can look forward to seeing from you.

There are two more Bunco Biddies Mysteries under contract, in various stages of being edited and proofed.

Threes, Sixes and Thieves, God willing, will launch later this summer. The publisher has had scheduling and staff issues. I chose the title because when three sixes are rolled in Bunco the game ends. But “Three Sixes” didn’t exactly work for a Christian fiction title (for obvious reasons.) So the Editor in Chief came up with the new title.

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?

Early in 2018, number four, ‘Til Dice Do Us Part releases. Yes, Bunco Biddies fans, there is a wedding in the works at Sunset Acres. But while decorating for the bridal shower, Ethel falls from a ladder. While in the ER, she overhears a crime being plotted. Janie believes her, but will anyone else? When the two of them get the groom-to-be involved in their hospital sleuthing to keep him from seeing the bride on their wedding day, he disappears along with a hospital employee. Can Blake, Ethel and Janie, along with the security guards, find them both alive before the organ cranks up the wedding march?

And, I am under contract for a spin-off series, The Case Files of Jack Manson, set in the Austin area in the 1970’s when Janie is a newlywed and her sleuthing skills are just beginning to develop as she helps her husband climb the police ladder from beat cop to detective. Look for Blame Games, Same Games and Name Games to launch in 2018-2019 through Write Integrity Press.

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?

If you missed our interview with Janie Manson, the heroine of the Bunco Biddie’s Mysteries, you can find it here.

Interview with Deborah Dee Harper Author of Misstep

If you know me, you know that today’s guest is one of my favorite authors of humor. Deborah Dee Harper writes laugh-out-loud mysteries with characters that will never leave you. In between the laughter, there are a couple of tears, well, because Deborah knows how to take the reader on an adventure of mishaps and funny moments.

The following is the blurb for Misstepwhich captures the mischief of the story.

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 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.

I have been wanting to ask this question to an author with a sense for comedic exploits, and you so exhibit that sense in Misstep. Does writing humor come easy to you or do you have to work at it?

Fay, I can honestly say that (for the most part) it comes easily to me. And that’s not necessarily a good thing or because it’s some special skill. It’s mostly because I can be a smart aleck at times J. I love to laugh, and I love to make others laugh. I firmly believe God gave us a sense of humor for several reasons—to enjoy the humorous things that happen around us every day of our lives, to defuse situations that might become volatile if we don’t look at the funny side, to help us enjoy others who might be different from us (but still beloved children of God), and lastly, a way in which to understand aspects of human behavior we can’t quite explain any other way.

I think many writers could easily write humor because all you do is get in the zone, i.e., enter the personality of your character, and let the thoughts flow. Once I established who the characters were in the Road’s End series, they sort of took over (what I call a “character coup”) and hijacked the whole darned thing. There comes a point in every writer’s book when it no longer belongs to them. The characters have banded together and taken over. That’s when it gets interesting J .

Ah, we are sister authors. My authors initiate successful coups as well.

Because I’m so fascinated with your ability to bring such joy to your story, and because when I do write comedy, the humor replaces something dark or something that troubles me, almost a coping mechanism that my brain brings to characters in my work as well. Many times my characters will cope with darkness with humor—at least I laugh at them. I don’t know if anyone else does.

(Fay, I’ve read plenty of your humor! I don’t know if you even realize what you’re writing is hilarious. It’s just a part of you, and I love it!)

Thank you. Sometimes I don’t even see what I’m writing as funny until I sit down and see what I’ve written about. I laugh best at myself. I do know from personal experience, that people laugh during your stories. From a reader’s perspective, it seems as if you must overflow with happiness to bring such pleasure to others. It’s hard to imagine that you write with perfect comedic timing with anything but perfect peace, but as a spectator in life, I sense that this is a misnomer. Life isn’t always rosy. So, how do you cope with writing humor when life for you at a given moment might be anything but humorous?

Actually, Fay, writing humor when I’m down is a great way to pull myself out of the pit. After all, when I write I’m “becoming” one or more of my characters, and since they’re such goofballs, I have no choice but to succumb to their silliness. I don’t mean to say that it’s always easy; sometimes writing is the last thing I feel like doing, and writing humorously seems impossible. But if I’m on a deadline, I have no choice. And oddly enough, being down in the dumps brings out the sarcasm in me, and sometimes humor is nothing more than veiled (and hopefully, good-hearted) sarcasm. Once you get rolling, it comes easier with each keystroke. Sometimes it’s all I can do to type fast enough to catch my characters’ goofiness. Humor is a great medicine for me, and I’ve relied on it my entire life.

One more question on writing humor only because I’ve seen so many try to accomplish it and fall short. Even a born jokester finds it hard to pull off the punchline, or as in writing, the setup and the payoff. If there is a budding author out there who wants to write humorous stories, is there any element of craft or any other advice that you can give them for honing that skill?

I honestly feel that a person who wants to write humor can write humor because it’s in their very essence, i.e., you won’t want to if you can’t. You don’t want to write humor unless you have it within you. Think of it this way (and try not to cringe like I’m doing as I type this): people write porn—yes, it’s a horrible thing, yet there it is. But a person who wants to write it can find it within themselves to do it. Those of us who wouldn’t touch it with a ten-foot pole couldn’t do it anyway. It’s just not in us. It’s the same with mystery, romance, historical, horror, sci-fi, paranormal, or any of the zillion other genres and sub-genres that exist nowadays. There’s a part of us that can conjure up whatever it is that’s required in that particular genre. Now don’t get me started on how a person who can write porn should fight that desire to do so because it’s from the devil, because I could talk about that all day and that’s not what I’m here to do. Nevertheless, if a writer wants to write humor it’s because God has put that desire and ability into their make-up.

Okay, enough of that. I find that I look for the humor in situations—everyday, run-of-the-mill events that we all experience. For instance, we’ve all gotten behind the person in the checkout line who argues every price the cashier rings up then can’t find their debit card, and when they do, it’s declined, and they decide to write a check and have to dig to the bottom of their luggage-sized purse to find their checkbook, then ask the date, slowly write out the check, their pen runs dry, the woman behind you goes into labor, then delivers (twins), the milk in your cart sours … and still, that customer is up there clogging up the line without a care in the world. You’re furious, they’re oblivious. You can either laugh it off for the ludicrous situation it is, or let it bring you down.

I think most, if not all, humor writers find themselves looking for the laughs in their lives rather than the tears. Besides, humor is oftentimes taking a situation and exaggerating it, as in the example above. Another good example would be the relationship between Dewey Wyandotte and George Washington of Road’s End. Yes, they serve as one another’s BFF (best friend and enemy), but it’s an exaggerated association between two old men, both opinionated and obstinate. The humor comes with the embellishment of that behavior—and anyone who tries to do that with their humor will find it becomes much easier with time. Give it a try.

With regard to exaggeration and the example above in the checkout line, obviously everything I wrote didn’t happen. But because we’ve all been there, using exaggeration makes it funny. The purse is luggage-sized, the pregnant woman had time to finish her pregnancy, go into labor, and deliver twins, the milk sours. It all points to a ridiculously long wait in line, and while that in itself isn’t particularly funny, using it in a piece of writing and exaggerating the circumstances does two things: it gives you a funny scene, and it relieves your white-hot anger at that person at the head of the line.

To make an already long story short, look for humor and you’ll find it. I try not to read in my genre (against all the advice) because I want my humor to be fresh and entirely my own. I don’t want to accidentally latch on to someone else’s ideas or methods. That’s not to say reading humor is completely out of the question. As long as it’s not similar to what I’m writing, reading humor can get me in the mood. Surround yourself with it, look for the humor in the day God has given you, and make it your own!

Okay, about that lady in the checkout, are you sure you’re in Alaska? Or maybe you visited Florida and got in line behind my dear mother-in-law? That wasn’t an over-exaggeration of being in line behind her. *Smiles*

And now, I have to know how you came to meet these lovable misfits who live in Road’s End. Is there somewhere that you’ve visited that brought them to mind or do you actually know a couple of eccentrics like the residents that Pastor Hugh shepherds?

This is going to sound hokey, or worse yet, coming off as though I think I’m special to God (which we all are), but most of the characters were almost planted in my brain. Psychologists and psychiatrists would say, with good reason, that my subconscious conjured up everything, but I can’t help but feel that God helped me tremendously. It’s as though once I came up with a character, say, George, and he introduced me to Dewey, and they turn out to be perfect at playing off one another. Then came the wives who had to be a little nuts in their own right to be married to those men. It turns out they’re a little eccentric all by their lonesomes.

I’ve visited Virginia’s Colonial Williamsburg about twenty times, so I’m in love with that time period—the homes, gardens, the beauty of Virginia in all seasons. So using my love for all things colonial, I put my characters in fictional Road’s End in Virginia, and made it a little village filled with history and historical buildings like The Inn at Road’s End and the Christ Is Lord Church. Road’s End has played a role in the Revolutionary and Civil Wars and everything in-between, so the stories those buildings and grounds could tell are endless!

While I don’t have anyone in particular who matches the personality of any one of my Road’s End characters precisely, I think George and Martha, Dewey and Winnie, Sadie, Frank, Leo, Perry, and the rest of the gang are probably mash-ups of people I’ve run across during my lifetime. I think that’s true of most writers. People they’ve known, worked with, grown up with, or gone to school with end up in their books in one fashion or another. Humor’s no different.

Lastly, I think if I’d actually known someone with … say, Sadie’s personality, I’d have lost my sense of humor altogether! J

I don’t want to give away Sophie’s identity, but when she stepped into the story, I actually did fall on the floor laughing. Really. And as the exploits with Sophie continued, I found myself unable to breathe. My sides hurt from all the abdominal exercises that a true belly laugh can give to you. How in the world did you think of bringing Sophie to Road’s End?

Sophie was one of those characters who just happened. When Sherman DeSoto came to town, he was such a strange character I just knew he’d have someone like Sophie with him. Besides, the town was preparing for the live Nativity, so it just made sense. Sophie shows up in all the books of the Road’s End series. I think she’s here to stay. In my experience, the less planning I do and the more I let the characters take over, the better it turns out! When one idea pops into your head, somehow it leads to how that character can do something outrageous with it, and that leads to another and another, and pretty soon you have an entire scene or chapter or perhaps an entire thread in your plot–all from the addition of one crazy character.

I would be so disappointed if Sophie didn’t show up in each of the stories. But nothing will ever trump her first introduction. I’m laughing right now as I think of her.

I happen to know that there is a second “Mishap” which is about to overcome the Road’s End residents, and I can guarantee the reader it is as hilarious and as heartwarming as the first. Can you tell us a little about the next release? Also, you have a book in a different genre that will be out in the future. I’d love to hear about it as well.

You’re right, Fay, the second book in the Road’s End series, Faux Pas, is on the way, and thanks so much for your kind words about it J. It’s being released on July 4, 2017, and I’m really excited about it. A few months have passed since the incidents in Misstep, and Hugh and Melanie Foster are thrilled to find out their only daughter, Amanda, is getting married! The only problem (the first of many), though, is that the wedding is a mere two months away, and Mandy has asked Hugh to officiate the nuptials at the Christ Is Lord Church right there in Road’s End. Sadly, the church is threatening to collapse into the dirt floor basement and is in need of immediate repairs. Right off the bat, Hugh is faced with getting permission to repair the pre-Revolutionary War era building. And that’s just the beginning. The Fosters are unaware that Mandy’s fiancé, Jonathan Sterling, is the only nephew of Stuart Thomas Rogers, the President of the United States. And he’s coming to the wedding.

As if that isn’t enough to drive Hugh into the Witness Protection Program, the cranky residents of Road’s End have it in for the president for not coming through on his campaign promises to bring God back into the government and to the forefront of the nation. When they find out he’s coming to the wedding, all heck breaks loose as Sadie Simms prepares to give the president what-for and present him with a Constitutional amendment, while the men of Road’s End prepare to honor him with their version of a parade. A wedding, a president, an antagonistic senator, a new son-in-law, brand-spankin’ new grandson, a church under repairs, cranky senior citizens, and Sophie. What more could a man ask for?

The other book, Sin Seeker, is the first book in my Sin Seeker series. It’s darker than the Road’s End books and 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.

Deborah, thank you for joining me here today. I will be so thankful if you’ll return in July to discuss Faux Pas. I’m thinking I’d like to interview Sophie. 

Here’s more about Deborah’s July release, the next story in the Road’s End series, Faux Pas:

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.

If you missed Monday’s interview with Hugh Foster, the hero of Misstepyou can find it here.

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.