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Author Interview: JoAnn Durgin

JD2_origOn Monday, we met Serenity McClaren, the heroine from JoAnn Durgin’s novel, Catching Serenity, which will be released in September. Today, we meet the author. Catching Serenity is JoAnn Durgin’s fifth full-length novel. The author of  The Lewis Legacy Series: AwakeningSecond Time Around, Twin Hearts and Daydreams (Torn Veil Books), and a Christmas novella, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe (Pelican Book Group/White Rose Publishing), she’s an estate administration paralegal in a Louisville, Kentucky law firm and lives with her family in southern Indiana. A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (national and Indiana chapter) and the Louisville Christian Writers, JoAnn’s prayer is that her contemporary romantic adventures will touch hearts and lives with the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. She’d love to hear from you at www.joanndurgin.com or via her  Author JoAnn Durgin page on Facebook.

 JoAnn, when you began your story, did you have any idea of the issue or issues your characters would face?

I had ideas, yes, but as it always seems to do, the story evolved as I began the actual writing. I’ve never written a character as emotionally stretched as my heroine, Serenity McClaren. The lowest point in her life was five years before the story begins. As fragile as she can be, she’s also one of the strongest characters I’ve ever written. She survives circumstances that would send many into a downward spiral of depression and then has the strength to return to the scene of the crime, so to speak. As you might imagine, trust and forgiveness are major issues with Serenity, and she’s hesitant to invite a man to share her life. Because of her past, she’s afraid she’ll taint everyone and everything she loves. By keeping the hero, Jackson Ross, at arm’s length, she believes it’ll somehow protect him from harm. Likewise, her faith is new and fragile, and she clings to the promises of God and seeks His love as a refuge from the past.

Jackson finds himself falling in love with the beautiful but haunted Serenity. He’s been guilty of falling for a troubled woman in the past because he wanted to “fix” the problems she faced. Drawn to Serenity as they work together to decorate his office, he finds reasons to be near her as a friend. He wants to build her trust in him but knows she won’t be able to commit to a relationship until she finds out what really happened five years ago. In wanting to help her find answers, Jackson faces a daunting situation which pits his professional life against the personal. As a child psychologist, when he figures out one of his young patients holds the key to unlocking Serenity’s past—thereby setting her free—he can’t tell her or else he’s in breach of his ethical standards. And once she discovers the truth and finds out that Jackson already knows, will he lose her forever?

Okay, you have me interested. This sounds like a story tailor-made for issue-oriented conflict. As God brought the issues to light to you in the writing, did you, as the author, have a lesson to learn? If so, would you mind sharing a little bit about the issue you faced personally and what you learned through the writing process?

If anything, the events depicted in Catching Serenity forced me to realize that I—like Serenity—tend to blame myself when things go wrong, even if they’re beyond my control. For instance, I will apologize to a wall and say “Excuse me” if I hit it while rounding a corner (I assure you, this doesn’t happen often and I don’t imbibe). I’m overly sensitive—always have been and probably always will be. I’ve often said I suffer from what I call “the Sally Field Syndrome.” In accepting her Academy Award, the Oscar winner famously said, “You like me, you really like me!” I, too, want everyone to like me and my books, but I’ve learned it’s simply not possible. In personal situations, I certainly need to do my part to make peace with others, including being willing to change what I can, apologize when needed and ask forgiveness if it’s warranted. Otherwise, I need to let it go, something I find very difficult. It’s not my job to make people like me. It’s my responsibility, privilege and honor to spread the hope and love to be found in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Ah, a fellow wall-apologizer. It’s a great club to be in. We’d rather be mannerly than rude. But I know exactly what you mean by wanting everyone to like you and to like what you produce. It is hard to overcome that feeling of always wanting to be worthy of what others think of us and wanting them to think well of us. We don’t always overcome our issues right away. Some issues, like Paul’s thorn in the flesh, continue to plague us. Would you mind telling the readers whether or not you’ve overcome this issue in your life and why it continues to be a problem for you? I know this is a very personal question, and we don’t need to go into details, but sometimes when we’re in the midst of trials, we tend to forget that others also struggle. Seeing that someone continues to battle to overcome or that someone has overcome gives us courage to keep up the good fight.

In some ways I believe my sensitivity makes me a much better writer. As I discussed with an editor over dinner the other night, I think most writers consider themselves “armchair” psychologists. Call it discernment, call it intuitiveness, but I have a pretty decent “handle” on what someone else might be thinking based on their tone of voice, body language and other physical clues. Even in e-mail messages or Facebook exchanges, I can usually “sense” when something is wrong or if someone’s bothered, no matter the reason. I can be there for them as a friend; however, I can’t control the perceptions, thoughts or actions of anyone else.

I’m a straight shooter, always have been, and that’s not always well-received, leaving me to back-pedal and do some serious groveling. Or again, to finally just let it go. As much as possible, I generally try to be the “bigger” person through the grace and mercy of our dear Lord in all situations. A key verse I repeat to myself on a daily basis is this one: Philippians 4:6: Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (NASB)

That’s a great verse for me to memorize as well. In your novel is there another key scripture or biblical concept that you explore? If so, what scripture or concept do you hope to bring to the light for your readers?

Psalm 18:2 says: The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. (NASB)

Serenity takes heart and hope in this particular scripture verse. Before the tragedy in her life, she adores sitting on her beloved beach and walking along the shore. It was there she felt closest to the Lord even though she didn’t understand that’s what it was. Now, coming back home as a new believer, she clings to the Lord and that verse as her stronghold to sustain her through the trials of life. Even when things seem insurmountable or impossible, He is a God of everyday miracles and can give us the desires of our heart if we place our trust in Him. In Serenity’s case, things are not at all as they seem, and she finds that with the Lord, even the unimaginable are indeed possible.

JoAnn, thank you for sharing Serenity’s story and the issues you have dealt with during the writing of this novel. Now, can you tell us? Do you have any future projects in the works, and if so, what issues do your characters deal with?

Next up is Moonbeams, Book #5 in The Lewis Legacy Series (Torn Veil Books). It’s written but needs serious editing. My lead characters, Cassie and Mitch, struggle with personal issues familiar to my other characters in this series: forgiveness, trust and redemption among them. Although the underlying issues might be familiar, their story is unique and deeply personal. Mitch and Cassie come from vastly different backgrounds but both have been wounded by the past and find a common ground in their compassion and desire to help others. When the other TeamWork volunteers relentlessly keep pushing them together, they turn the tables on them, so to speak. And, oh what fun ensues! Stay tuned.

As a fan of your writing, you know I will be watching for Catching Serenity in September, and for all of your releases.

A woman torn apart by secrets.

A man held prisoner by the truth.

Can the greatest love of all

set them both free?

Serenity McClaren had it all before her life crumbled around her like the sand castles on her beloved beach, causing her to flee Catching Serenity Front Cover ImageCroisette Shores and the only home she’d ever known. Nearly five years later and living in Atlanta, she receives a mysterious, unsigned note: Come home, Serenity. Things aren’t as they seem. Time to find your answers. Returning to South Carolina, she prepares to face her demons and the ailing father she left behind, hoping to make peace with both. Child psychologist Jackson Ross is a man with a surprising past. He’s ready for the quiet life and  eager to establish his practice in the quaint, coastal village. After he hires Serenity to decorate his new office, he’s drawn to the beautiful and enigmatic woman yet sees she’s haunted by a past she can’t escape. Wanting to help her, he begins to suspect one of his young patients may hold the key to unlocking Serenity’s secrets. Jackson follows his instincts and discovers the shocking truth, but how can he tell the woman he’s grown to love what he knows—and set her free—without compromising his professional ethics and losing her forever?

Catching Serenity, a poignant story of faith, hope and love, and discovering the everyday miracles from an all-powerful God.

Be sure to leave a comment on either of the posts for JoAnn this week. She’s giving away a free copy of Catching Serenity, and join us on Friday for a special blog post from JoAnn.

Character Interview: Serenity McClaren from Catching Serenity by JoAnn Durgin

Catching Serenity Front Cover ImageThis week we’re meeting Serenity McClaren, the heroine in Catching Serenity, which will release in September 2013. Later this week, we’ll meet Serenity’s author, JoAnn Durgin. Welcome, Serenity. We’d love to hear a little about you, and how you came to meet your author. Would you share that story with us?

I got to know my author a couple of years ago when she decided to write my story. As soon as we discovered a mutual love of Mozart, cherry gummi worms and Chinese takeout, we bonded quickly. I’m a quiet person by nature and JoAnn’s the opposite, but we became close friends while working on this book. We also have some other interesting things in common. For instance, JoAnn’s husband, Jim, grew up in Newport, Rhode Island, the same wonderful town where my dad grew up. My mom’s a nurse from Connecticut and they met at the famous Newport Jazz Festival in the late 1980s, shared a blanket on the lawn and fell in love between musical sets by Grover Washington, Jr. and Thelonious Monk. Not long after, my dad took a job in the fire department in Croisette Shores, a small, gorgeous beach town in South Carolina, and that’s where I grew up. Although JoAnn was raised and now lives again in Indiana, she had a playmate/neighbor with the last name of McClaren. She’s never met anyone else with my first name but thinks it’s appropriate for the child of peace-loving, ocean-loving, quasi-hippies. We make each other laugh, and that’s very important when you work together on a project.

I’m so happy that you and JoAnn get along so well, but I’m not surprised. I’ve met JoAnn, and she’s a dear. Tell me, Serenity, did you have any issues that you brought with you to challenge JoAnn? If so, what were those issues?

Well, JoAnn’s a huge believer in romance, and the sooner the better in a story. I made her put the brakes on and slow it down and I know it frustrated her. I’m a lot more patient than she is. After three very traumatic events in my life almost five years ago, my dad withdrew from life and I couldn’t seem to break through and reach him. Basically, to maintain my sanity, I ran away to Atlanta because I couldn’t handle all the sadness. I poured all my energies into existing day-by-day and earned degrees in interior decorating and business administration. In my heart, though, I desperately missed my little town. Then, I got this mysterious note that said, Come home, Serenity. Things aren’t as they seem. Time to find your answers. I knew that was my cue—my sign from God, if you will (I came to know Jesus when I lived in Atlanta)—that it was finally time to go home again and start my business, Inner Serenity, in Croisette Shores. My first client was child psychologist Jackson Ross. He’d just moved from Chicago to take over Doc Rasmussen’s practice since he’s retiring. Jackson is intelligent, funny, gorgeous and compassionate, but I wasn’t ready for a man in my life as anything more than a friend. JoAnn understood that, of course, but she can be very pushy sometimes. Honestly? She was itching to write a good kiss. Well, she got one, but it wasn’t exactly what she was looking for, at least not at first. And while she really wanted to just let the reader know what happened in my past—lay it out there, boom-boom-boom, I finally convinced her to slow down that aspect, too, so the reader has time to absorb and not get hit with everything all at once. We’ve partnered together in this adventure, and although it’s been difficult at times, in the end it’s been very rewarding.

It’s obvious that history plays a part in your issues. What was it about your history that brought the issues that challenged you in the story?

Oh, yes, I have a history, but this is where JoAnn is stifling me in this interview. Of course, she wants you to read my story instead of me trying to tell it. What I will say is that it’s a puzzle, a mystery to solve. I can tell JoAnn loved Nancy Drew mysteries because she loves dropping all these little clues. What happened to send me running away from Croisette Shores was beyond my control, but I knew things weren’t as they seemed. Once I received that mysterious note, I also understood it was time to go back home again, help my dad, and figure it all out. Jackson was a great help but that’s all I’m going to say. And wait until you find out his history! That man is certainly full of surprises.

If you could go back to any time in your life and change history, would you do it? If so, when would that be and how would you change your life? If not, why would you be willing to go through the same conflicts that you have faced?

Five years ago, I would have answered this question by saying I’d definitely want to go back and change what happened. When I first came back to Croisette Shores, I was still bewildered and wounded. In my heart, I believed I’d somehow either triggered or caused the tragedies in my life. I hadn’t found that peace that passes all understanding it talks about in the Bible, in part because I didn’t have all my answers. However, once I learned the truth and the reasons why those things happened, it put everything into perspective. Knowing the answers still couldn’t change the past, but it helped to make me the much stronger person I am today. Now I can move forward again in all areas of my life with confidence and purpose. I suppose you could say—as corny as it might sound—I’ve finally found my peace and yes, my inner serenity.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” When God says, “all things” I believe He means even the bad things that happen to us. Did you discover this on your journey, and if so, how?

Most definitely. The bad things sharpen and refine us and, as I said before, in the end they make us stronger. As difficult as it was, I wouldn’t be the same person today if I hadn’t gone through those trials. But in working through the pain and finding the truth, I’ve learned that God has everything under His control. We have to put our trust in Him to work out the details. That’s hard for a lot of people, and I’m so thankful I found Him. I guess I should say I’m blessed He found me. I am His child, and that knowledge gave me such an unbelievable comfort when I needed it most and felt as if I was truly all alone in the world. His love was my security blanket to wrap around me. He’s a God of everyday miracles and He certainly worked several in my life. I know I lived it, but it’s really an amazing story and one I hope you’ll read.

Thank you for visiting with us today, Serenity, and sharing your heart with us. I look forward to talking with JoAnn on Wednesday.

A woman torn apart by secrets.

A man held prisoner by the truth.

Can the greatest love of all

set them both free?

Serenity McClaren had it all before her life crumbled around her like the sand castles on her beloved beach, causing her to flee Croisette Shores and the only home she’d ever known. Nearly five years later and living in Atlanta, she receives a mysterious, unsigned note: Come home, Serenity. Things aren’t as they seem. Time to find your answers. Returning to South Carolina, she prepares to face her demons and the ailing father she left behind, hoping to make peace with both. Child psychologist Jackson Ross is a man with a surprising past. He’s ready for the quiet life and  eager to establish his practice in the quaint, coastal village. After he hires Serenity to decorate his new office, he’s drawn to the beautiful and enigmatic woman yet sees she’s haunted by a past she can’t escape. Wanting to help her, he begins to suspect one of his young patients may hold the key to unlocking Serenity’s secrets. Jackson follows his instincts and discovers the shocking truth, but how can he tell the woman he’s grown to love what he knows—and set her free—without compromising his professional ethics and losing her forever?

Catching Serenity, a poignant story of faith, hope and love, and discovering the everyday miracles from an all-powerful God.

ABOUT THE AUTHORJD2_orig

Catching Serenity is JoAnn Durgin’s fifth full-length novel. The author of  The Lewis Legacy Series: Awakening, Second Time Around, Twin Hearts and Daydreams (Torn Veil Books), and a Christmas novella, Meet Me Under the Mistletoe (Pelican Book Group/White Rose Publishing), she’s an estate administration paralegal in a Louisville, Kentucky law firm and lives with her family in southern Indiana. A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (national and Indiana chapter) and the Louisville Christian Writers, JoAnn’s prayer is that her contemporary romantic adventures will touch hearts and lives with the redeeming love of Jesus Christ. She’d love to hear from you at www.joanndurgin.com or via her  Author JoAnn Durgin page on Facebook.

Inner Source: The Lord Encourages Us to Press On

Ruth O'NeilToday, Ruth O’Neil shares what God has helped her to work on through the writing He has given her to complete. Ruth has been writing for over twenty years. She has published hundreds of articles in numerous publications. She has also published a cookbook for kids. Her first novel is Come Eat at My Table. She homeschools her three children (well, one now really, as two have graduated). She and her husband have been married for twenty-plus years. In Ruth’s spare time she enjoys quilting, crafting, and reading. You can visit Ruth’s blog by clicking here.

If anyone could see the files in my office I would be embarrassed. I can’t even tell you how many beginnings I have to different novels. There are at least five or six. There are folders full of slips of paper with scene ideas and character descriptions. The problem is some of these folders have been there for years, and I have done nothing to complete them. There are times that once I get started on a project I’m on a roll and get frustrated with my family when they interrupt me for such things as dinner. I can be on a roll with a project for a long time, but then the inevitable happens and I fizzle out, leaving the project incomplete.

God gave me a desire and a talent for writing, but it doesn’t matter if I never complete a project. If I don’t finish, people don’t read. If people don’t read, the Word of God cannot reach those whom I am supposed to be instrumental in reaching.

That is what I struggle with the most.

Several years ago, I challenged myself to finish one novel. That summer when I took the kids to the pool for the afternoon I would bring along my pen and notebook and work. By the end of that summer I had a completed first draft. I was proud of myself for finishing that much, but there was still a lot of work to do. Slowly, but steadily, over the next couple of years I worked on my book.

There were some distractions along the way and I think God was testing me. I found one writing job that paid great and was easy work. During the time I was working on that, I was neglecting my novel. Yes, the other writing job may have provided financially for the moment, but it had no spiritual value whatsoever. I felt convicted. That was not what God had in mind for me to do, and I knew it.

No, even though my novel is completed and earning money, it is not bringing in the same amount I was earning before. However, there is a definite value in the spiritual realm. I have received messages from people who have read my book letting me know how much it has touched them. One person even wrote to tell me that the topic of forgiveness was something she had been dealing with for quite some time and my book helped her.

That is what writing should be about, at least for me.

God has sufficiently taught me my lesson, for the time being anyway. I’m sure I’ll need many more reminders in the future, since I’m human and fallible. However, my second novel is in its second draft, and I am working diligently to complete it. I know God’s timing is perfect. He will help me to have novel number two ready just in time for that one person who needs its message to read it.

In the meantime, I will continue doing what He has called me to do and try to get distracted as little as possible.

Ruth’s current novel is Come Eat at My Table.book cover

Karin Miller has a need to feed everyone. One of her twin daughters always teases her about it. The other daughter, Faith, realizes that there’s more to it than that. Faith’s suspicions are confirmed when she is assigned a project in school that forces Karin to talk about her past, mainly her childhood.

Most people have fun and pleasant memories from childhood, but not Karin. There are a lot of secrets, which she has kept hidden for twenty years that have contributed to her vulnerability and lack of self-esteem. Her husband convinces her that it would be good for her to let it all out. He tells her it would also be good for the girls to learn more about their mom and why she is the person she is. When it’s all said and done, Karin is a much stronger person and so are the members of her family. Until Karin faces her past, she and her family cannot face their future.

 

Character Interview: Faith Miller from Come Eat at My Table by Ruth O’Neil

book coverToday’s character guest today comes to us from the novel, Come Eat at My Table written by Ruth O’Neil.

Faith, we’d love to hear a little about you, and how you came to meet your author. Would you share that story with us?

I’m 16 years old. I have a twin sister, Hope – our names were Dad’s idea. I met the author through my mom. They were friends since before we were born, so I don’t really know how they met.

Did you have any issues that you brought with you to challenge your author? If so, what were those issues?

I’m a people watcher. Many of my thoughts are never vocalized, making it hard to show not tell. Because I see things that other don’t, my author needed to be sure I was present in some critical scenes.

Everyone has a history, what was it about your history that brought the issues that challenged you in the story?

My history begins with my mom’s history. My mom made sure my life was way different than hers. For most of our lives, she kept a lot of things from us. She didn’t want us to know how the world could treat people. I’m glad she came around though and decided to open up. If my mom had not told us, we would have missed out on a huge part of her life where great lessons were learned; not just for her, but for Hope and me as well.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” When God says, “all things” I believe He means even the bad things that happen to us. Did you discover this on your journey, and if so, how?

This is actually my mom’s favorite verse. She taught it to us while we were young. She often quoted it when she felt it appropriate. And yes, God can definitely bring good from the bad things that happen. If my mom has taught me anything it’s that God has a plan for everything and everyone. She often says that, “Everyone comes into your life for a reason.” We have to look to God for that reason.

Some readers may be on the same journey of discovery that you brought to your author. What bit of Godly wisdom or Scripture would you give to them?

Well, you already used one verse, Romans 8:28, but the verses before that are great too. I may be young, but there have already been times in my life when I didn’t know how or what to pray. Verse 26 reads, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” This has helped me through a lot of difficult times in life and I’m sure it will continue to help me in the future.

Thank you so much, Faith, for sharing a little about your discovery and your mother’s story.

Karin Miller has a need to feed everyone. One of her twin daughters always teases her about it. The other daughter, Faith, realizes that there’s more to it than that. Faith’s suspicions are confirmed when she is assigned a project in school that forces Karin to talk about her past, mainly her childhood.

Most people have fun and pleasant memories from childhood, but not Karin. There are a lot of secrets, which she has kept hidden for twenty years that have contributed to her vulnerability and lack of self-esteem. Her husband convinces her that it would be good for her to let it all out. He tells her it would also be good for the girls to learn more about their mom and why she is the person she is. When it’s all said and done, Karin is a much stronger person and so are the members of her family. Until Karin faces her past, she and her family cannot face their future.

Come Eat at My Table can be purchased here. Also, please visit Ruth at her blog.

If you missed the Inner Source Interview with Ruth, please click here.

On Friday, Ruth tells us how God works with her through her writing.

 

 

Author Interview: Ruth O’Neil

Ruth O'NeilThis week’s guest is Author Ruth O’Neil. Ruth has been writing for over twenty years. She has published hundreds of articles in numerous publications. She has also published a cookbook for kids. Her first novel is Come Eat at My Table. She homeschools her three children (well, one now really, as two have graduated). She and her husband have been married for twenty-plus years. In Ruth’s spare time she enjoys quilting, crafting, and reading.

Readers are always interested in knowing how an author develops his or her characters or the conflict an author designs for those characters. Would you mind sharing a little bit about your writing process that brings character and conflict to life?

A lot of my story is based on real life. When I write fiction, I build my characters around people who have been part of my life. I often take the characteristics of several people and combine them into one for my story. The same is true of conflict; much of it comes from experiences I or people I know have had. I think that helps make the story relatable to readers.

When writing, do you find that God has issues for you to face? If so, do you incorporate those into the lives of your characters?

Not in this particular story. The main theme of Come Eat at My Table is forgiveness. I have watched the unforgiving become bitter and have learned from that. While Karin, my main character, battles with forgiveness, it’s not an issue I’ve had; but then again, I’ve never been hurt like Karin has either.

As one who had to work on the issue of forgiveness, I can say that I’m personally happy that you have not had to deal with it. And there are no other issues that God had you deal with through the writing of Come Eat at My Table?

It didn’t have anything to do with my story. I am a great starter of projects, but a slacker when it comes to finishing them. If I start writing books and don’t finish God’s message to someone may not get out. If I don’t finish what I begin I am useless in the service of the Lord.

Ah, so I did discover an issue. Procrastination and an inability to finish what you start. *Smiling* I’m the exact opposite. I fret until each project is completed.

So, Come Eat at My Table centers around the issue of forgiveness. In your novel is there a key scripture or biblical concept that you explore? If so, what scripture or concept do you hope to bright to the light for your readers?

Forgiveness. I have seen a lack of forgiveness destroy relationships and tear families apart. That is not what God had in mind when He placed us on this earth together. The Bible tells us to forgive seventy times seven.

This morning, the Lord led me to a study on increasing faith, and I found that when the disciples asked, “Lord, increase our faith,” Jesus didn’t actually hand that faith over to them. He basically called the to exercise the faith they had and to follow his example of forgiveness. (Luke 17:5-6), so I appreciate so much that you’ve written a book with a heroine who struggles with this aspect. What advice would you give a reader who is dealing with the issues you write about?

Seek the Scriptures. Seek God’s guidance. Spend time in prayer and fast if necessary. God will show you the way He wants you to go if you only open your heart to His leading.

Great advice, Ruth. Thank you so much for joining me here at Inner Source.

Ruth’s novel, Come Eat at My Table is available here.book cover

Karin Miller has a need to feed everyone. One of her twin daughters always teases her about it. The other daughter, Faith, realizes that there’s more to it than that. Faith’s suspicions are confirmed when she is assigned a project in school that forces Karin to talk about her past, mainly her childhood.

Most people have fun and pleasant memories from childhood, but not Karin. There are a lot of secrets, which she has kept hidden for twenty years that have contributed to her vulnerability and lack of self-esteem. Her husband convinces her that it would be good for her to let it all out. He tells her it would also be good for the girls to learn more about their mom and why she is the person she is. When it’s all said and done, Karin is a much stronger person and so are the members of her family. Until Karin faces her past, she and her family cannot face their future.

You can learn more about Ruth by visiting her website and her blog.

On Wednesday, Ruth’s character Faith Miller will share a little about the issues faced in Ruth’s novel.

Character Interview: Issac Young from Destiny Defied

Destiny Defied FRONT COVER FINAL medToday, our guest on Inner Source is Isaac Daniel Young, the hero in the novel Destiny Defied written by author J.A. Marx. If you missed Monday’s interview with J.A., please click here.

Isaac, we’d love to hear a little about you, and how you came to meet your author. Would you share that story with us?

My three friends and I had spent a year planning this ‘vacation’ on our mentor’s private island. Male bonding time, ya know? Turns out, J.A. needed a qualified EMT to revive her heroine. Guess I was her man, though I could’ve done without the female invasion. I know how to keep my head in a crisis. Believe me, we experienced more than our share of near-death encounters.

I’ve read your story. You and your friends did have quite a time of it. Did you have any issues that you brought with you to challenge J.A.? If so, what were those issues?

Oh, yeah. She got a load full of my pride. I gave her hardcore tough-n-rough, and J.A. threw a wounded, man-hating female at me thinking that would soften my heart. About halfway through the story, I broke down. I hope I can trust you, Mrs. Lamb, not to share that embarrassing moment with anybody. You got me?

Embarrassing moment? I don’t recall that, Isaac. I recall some poignant moments, but nothing that would make you ashamed. Everyone has a history, what was it about your history that brought the issues that challenged you in the story?

I was born high voltage. Fortunately, I have godly parents—a PhD Psychologist dad and a mom as iron-willed as I am. My dad instilled strong values, like always honoring women. When I saw people acting against my values, I took it upon myself to correct them. Aggressively. Found myself in the back of a squad car more than once.

I always relied on my strength and understanding to help people, save people. J.A. pushed me into situations that were humanly impossible to escape. Taught me to admit my weakness and trust in God’s grace and power.

I’m glad J.A. pushed you because I think the challenges you faced will help readers who are looking at similar issues in their lives. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” When God says, “all things” I believe He means even the bad things that happen to us. Did you discover this on your journey, and if so, how?

We weren’t alone on the island. This major lunatic, Lord Vétis, was stalking the wounded female in my care. But we didn’t know about him until over halfway through the story. This guy was sick. Demonic. He physically tortured all three of my friends in an insane attempt to get to the girl. After all was said and done, our suffering actually helped us better understand the woman and her background. It helped us love her more and made us willing to lay down our lives to see her succeed in rebuilding her life.

Wow, that’s some testimony of the power of God’s Word. Tortured and still able to see the good in the outcome of what happened.

Some readers may be on the same journey of discovery that you brought to your author. What bit of Godly wisdom or Scripture would you give to them?

Start weeping, bro. Get humble and get sick of your own sin.

“Humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world. Let there be tears for what you have done. Let there be sorrow and deep grief. Let there be sadness instead of laughter, and gloom instead of joy. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up in honor.” (James 4:7-10)

Our hands represent our works. Hearts represent our motives. Fully agree with God’s view of you so He can use you to advance His Kingdom and conquer Darkness.

Thank you for joining us here today. I know J.A. needs you back because you have more story to tell in the sequel to Destiny Defied. I look forward to seeing you again in Destiny Delivered.

DESTINY DEFIED:

Riki will choose death over returning to captivity unless she finds a power truly great enough to overthrow Darkness. Lord Vétis will stop at nothing to reclaim her. The underground will never allow Riki to live out her dreams of a normal life…something she has never known.

“Destiny Defied,” volume 1 in J.A. Marx’s supernatural suspense series released in April. http://amzn.to/Zh2VBZ   Volume 2 “Destiny Delivered” will release in September 2013.

Check out J.A.’s website www.jamarx.net

Or email her at Embattledspirit@jamarx.net

Author Interview: J.A. Marx

Marx headToday, our special guest on Inner Source is author/editor, J.A. Marx.  J.A. resides in Texas. She has written various articles, and edits for a national healthcare e-zine. When she’s not writing, she’s working out at the gym, cooking up healthy meals, or hanging with her husband, the love of her life.

Readers are always interested in knowing how an author develops his or her characters or the conflict an author designs for those characters. Would you mind sharing a little bit about your writing process that brings character and conflict to life?

Giving my characters personality is one of my favorite parts, because once they have a personality, they naturally speak and act out of their own volition. Makes my job easier. I used to teach The Two Sides of Love (Smalley/Trent), so the Lion, Beaver, Otter, and Retriever characteristics are deeply imbedded in my brain. I’ll write the first few chapters of a book then stop and interview my heroes/heroines. I make sure I’ve got all four ‘animals’ in the story, because these natural personality types come with natural conflict. So while characters deal with the physical challenges, they also have to work through rubbing each other the wrong way and wrongly judging each other, etc. Voila! Conflict. You know what happens when tension rises in your own family or at work—your best side always shines. Ha ha. Or not.

I wish my best side always shined when faced with conflict, but I know exactly what you mean. When writing, do you find that God has issues for you to face—issues that don’t always bring out your best? If so, do you incorporate those into the lives of your characters?

I like to consider my books “psychological,” so issues make up a large element of my stories. At this point, most of the difficulties or crises my little people deal with are related to fathers or healthy male/female relationships. After spending 18+ years in marriage ministry and leading small groups, I guess that stuff just oozes out of me. I’m not afraid to delve into the edgier stuff that some might consider taboo, either. I figure if I illustrate a character working through the super bad stuff, then readers will come through thinking, “If she can do that, so can I.” or “If God still accepts her, then He accepts me, too.” Catch my drift?

I definitely catch your drift. The heroine in Destiny Defied certain fits that mold. I’ve found that sometimes God may have an issue for me to overcome or work through when He places a novel on my heart. Did you find this to be true, and if so, how?

I think it’s more of Him whispering, “Do you really believe that, or are you just writing it?” Which makes me stop and reflect on my beliefs about God, the Spiritual realm, Scripture, etc. I hate hypocrisy, so I try to be sensitive to the logs in my own eyes. For example, Isaac, my hero in Destiny Defied, believes we’re here to make a difference and save a life. I believe that, too. But I had to ask myself if I truly act on that belief or if it’s just a nice saying above the door of my author office.

Love it. If an author is writing about something they truly don’t believe in, I think the reader can easily see through them. In your novel is there a key scripture or biblical concept that you explore? If so, what scripture or concept do you hope to bring to the light for your readers?

My base scripture will probably always be Isa 61:1-3:

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,

Because the Lord has anointed Me

To preach good tidings to the poor;

He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,

To proclaim liberty to the captives,

And the opening of the prison to those who are bound….”

But there will be other verses that fit with either the premise or the theme.

What advice would you give a reader who is dealing with the issues you write about?

Know that God is head over heels in love with you. Prayerfully press into Him until you experience Him. He says, “repent and believe”—that’s it. His is not a self-help plan filled with lot of to-dos. By repenting we’re choosing to view our circumstances and Him from His holy perspective—not from the world’s opinions, and not our own understanding. Then, as our beliefs change, our lives supernaturally begin to change from the inside out.

Excellent advice, J.A. Yes, the Bible is filled with truths, but it isn’t a self-help manual unless you have a true relationship with the Author. Only when we know Him do His words seep into our lives and begin to change us, as you said, from the inside out.

Riki will choose death over returning to captivity unless she finds a power truly great enough to overthrow Darkness. Lord Vétis Destiny Defied FRONT COVER FINAL medwill stop at nothing to reclaim her. The underground will never allow Riki to live out her dreams of a normal life…something she has never known. “Destiny Defied,” volume 1 in J.A. Marx’s supernatural suspense series released in April. http://amzn.to/Zh2VBZ

Volume 2 “Destiny Delivered” will release in September 2013.

Check out J.A.’s website www.jamarx.net

Or email her at Embattledspirit@jamarx.net

Join us Thursday for an interview with Issac Young, one of the heroes from Destiny Defied.

Character Interview-Beth Martindale from Dog Tags

DogTags_h11265_300On Monday, we met Heidi Glick, the author of the romantic suspense novel, Dog Tags. Today, please meet Heidi’s heroine, Beth Martindale, who is here to tell readers the issues behind the story.

Readers are always interested in hearing what brings a character’s plight to the attention of his or her author. So, what issues did you bring to the table for your author, Beth?

After my older brother, Chris, died, I moved to Riversdale, California—a long way from my hometown of Beaumont, Ohio, but I needed to get away. My brother was stationed near Riversdale when he was in the Marines, and I guess I hoped I’d move there and feel closer to him and find out more about the place he raved about. I was far away from my parents, and when I needed assistance, I ended up having to accept help from Mark Graham.

Chris had left me. My parents were on the other side of the country. And God had taken my brother away from me, so I wasn’t exactly sure I could trust Him. And God wasn’t the only one. I wasn’t sure I could trust Mark either, not after what he’d done, not after how he’d hurt me.

But in time, I learned to trust God again, and I learned to forgive Mark Graham.

You say it so calmly as if trust and forgiveness are something we do easily. For some of us trusting God and forgiving others is difficult, but God is faithful, and we have His son who is the measurement of the depth our forgiveness can go, no matter what someone has done to us. How hard was it for you to trust God at His word and forgive Mark for what he’d done to you?

It was very hard. God said He’d never leave me nor forsake me, but it sure did feel like He’d abandoned me. And if I couldn’t trust God not to forsake me, I began to wonder how I could trust the rest of His Word. But my relationship with God is based on truth and not feelings, and I had to remember that. God didn’t leave me. He didn’t forsake me. It only felt that way.

Forgiving Mark was also difficult. He’d hurt me in ways he couldn’t imagine. And yet, God had forgiven me, and so I had no right to hold a grudge against Mark.

How has dealing with this issue changed your life?

I was able to let go of what happened to my brother. Even if I don’t still completely understand it all, I know that God allowed Chris’s death for a reason. Even after Chris died, God remained in control.

After choosing to trust in God and yield control to Him, I have a stronger walk with Him. And after forgiving Mark, the two of us have a stronger relationship than before.

Relationships centered on Christ are always made stronger. Would you mind sharing with our readers any of the truths about these issues that you had to learn on your journey?

I had to learn to trust God again after my brother’s death. That wasn’t easy to do.

In the midst of all the pain, Lamentations 3:31-32 spoke to me. “The Lord will not cast off forever. Though He causes grief, yet He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies.” I had to remind myself, sometimes repeatedly, that God would not cast me off forever. He would show me compassion.

After Chris died, I really did feel cast off and forgotten by God. But in time, God did as He promised. He showed me compassion according to His mercies.

Thank you, Beth. Let’s get on to a lighter subject for a moment. Quirky is always my favorite character trait. Do you consider yourself quirky, or is there another character you think is just a bit odd? If so, how does the quirkiness add to your story—from your perspective?

Mark’s dog, Sparky, is a quirky little character. He likes to yip and chase his tail. He adds to the story because he’s cute and fuzzy.

In relation to Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose,” what good do you believe God brought to you through your journey?

I was Chris’s little sister, and so naturally, I looked up to my big brother. When I’d need him, he was there for me. And then he died, and life didn’t feel as safe as it once had been. When I had a problem, I didn’t have Chris to turn to.

God took the tragedy of losing my brother and drew me closer to Him. After Chris died, I had to turn to God, and this was a good thing. The experience strengthened my dependence on God.

Beth, thank you for sharing. I am sure that the words and the Scripture you shared today will speak into the heart of others who are grieving, who are having difficulty trusting God in this time of sorry. I appreciate your candor.

You’ll love this book:

When disabled ex-Marine Mark Graham reconnects with his best friend’s sister, he finds himself falling in love. But Beth Martindale’s presence is a constant reminder of events he’d rather forget. Mark wants to move forward, but the secrets surrounding her brother’s death, as well as his own confinement to a wheelchair, threaten to tear them apart.

When a psychopath who calls himself The Knight fixates on Beth, Mark is determined to give her the protection he failed to give her brother on the battlefield, yet he discovers that a wheelchair isn’t the only impediment he has to keeping Beth safe.

Will terror win, or can Mark find the strength of mind and body to rescue Beth and find his own redemption?

Dog Tags by Heidi Glick is available from Pelican Book Group, Amazon.com, and from Barnes & Noble. And be sure to watch the book trailer for Dog Tags, by clicking here.

If you missed Heidi’s interview earlier this week, click here.

 

Author Interview – Heidi Glick

Heidi GlickToday, Inner Source welcomes Heidi Glick, author of Dog Tags, a romantic suspense novel. Heidi has a B.A. in biology, a minor in Bible from Cedarville University, and a passion for writing Christian fiction. Additionally, she is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and has written two articles for Intercom. When not working, Heidi spends time with her husband, son, and two dogs, Cocoa and Sparky. She attends Grace Chapel in Mason, Ohio.

I first met Heidi and many of her cast of wonderful characters while participating in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Scribes Critique Group. Heidi is here today to share with us what she learned while writing, Dog Tags.

Heidi, welcome, and please tell us about your novel. Where does it take place? Who are your main characters? What trouble do they get into?

Dog Tags is a suspense novel that takes place in the fictional setting of Riversdale, California, near the real city of San Diego. The main characters include Mark Graham, a college professor and former Marine, and Beth Martindale, a schoolteacher. Beth gets into trouble when she receives notes from a stalker. Mark gets into trouble with his inner demons.

Trouble? I love trouble. Novels aren’t much fun without it. What issues do your characters face that will speak to the heart of your readers?

Beth deals with the loss of her brother. Mark deals with the loss of his best friend. Loss is a universal theme. Everyone will deal with loss at some point in their life.

In dealing with grief, I’ve realized that it can keep us from moving forward or making good decisions. Have you ever faced this issue in your life or did you deal with the issue while you were writing the story? In other words, did you write your story to share how you overcame the issue, or did God call you to write the story because He knew you needed to face the issue?

During the writing of this novel, my dad died from ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Another “loss” I was dealing with while writing this novel was infertility. I didn’t set out to write this story to share how I overcame the issue, but I think God called me to write this story because He knew I needed to face the issue of loss. While writing Dog Tags, I was also working on another story, and in that story, the heroine’s dad has ALS. And I wrote about the heroine’s dad’s death before my dad died, and I think God also used that to prepare me for my dad’s death.

Heidi, I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your father, but I’m so happy that you were able to see God’s healing hand on your grief. I also know the story you’re talking about…some more of those great characters. While you wrote and God worked through your writing, what Biblical concept did He bring to the table with your writing? Would you mind explaining how God has spoken to your heart about the issue?

God brought up the issue of control. Before my dad’s diagnosis, I felt like I was in control of life. For months after my dad was diagnosed, I spent hours on the Internet searching for a cure and trying to get my dad into every clinical trial available. The irony is that God had already spoken to my heart, and I just needed to rest in the assurance He had given me, which was “Your Dad will die, but it’s going to be okay.” At the time God told me that, I clearly did NOT think my dad would die. In fact, I just figured the doctors were mistaken. Later, my dad saw the top ALS doctor in the nation, who confirmed my dad had the disease.

God showed me I wasn’t in control. And little by little, God showed me how to adjust to what I referred to as the new normal: Dad can’t walk anymore. Dad can’t eat on his own anymore. Dad can’t talk anymore. Dad can’t breathe on his own anymore. Dad is confined to a bed. Dad can’t move his hands anymore, etc. And when my dad did die, I had peace. God had helped me to accept my father’s death.

Right before my dad died, I started seeing a fertility specialist, and once again, God reminded me that I was not in control. I could try and have a baby all I wanted, but I couldn’t make it happen. And for those who know me well, I’m a type A personality, so I don’t do well with the concept of no or can’t. I figure if I try ten times harder than the average person, I can succeed. My family motto is “where there is a will, there’s a way.” So trying to have a baby but not having one was frustrating. Eventually, my husband and I decided to pursue foster care and adoption. I began to accept that might be God’s will for my life. And once again, God showed me that He was in control and not me.

Heidi's precious son, Aaron Samuel Glick

Heidi’s precious son, Aaron Samuel Glick

About a month before I signed the contract for Dog Tags, God allowed me to become pregnant. And right at forty weeks, I failed a non-stress test and went to the hospital, planning on an induced, but otherwise, natural birth. That same evening, my OB/GYN delivered the baby via emergency c-section under Code Red conditions and said if the baby was born one day later, he wouldn’t have been alive. I am pleased to say I am a proud momma of a healthy baby boy. Once again, God was in control, not me.

I remember when you signed the contract, and you were worried about deadlines. I also “followed” your pregnancy on Facebook. I remember saying a prayer for the healthy delivery of your son. God is always so good. Some of our readers may be dealing with the issues you’ve discussed. Would you mind sharing with them any scriptural-based advice you might speak truth into their hurting hearts?

Bad things happen to God’s people, but God still loves us and is in control. God will never leave us or forsake us, though sometimes it feels that way.

I want to share several verses that spoke to me during my tough times.

Lamentations 3:31-32, “The Lord will not cast off forever. Though He causes grief, YET He will show compassion according to the multitude of His mercies.”

Isaiah 61:1-3 The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them A CROWN OF BEAUTY INSTEAD OF ASHES, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.

My husband and I purposely gave our son the middle name of Samuel, which means “God has heard.” If you are dealing with loss right now, even though you feel God is far away and does not hear, I can assure you that He does hear you, my friend. Hang in there!

Heidi, I have tears in my eyes because what you shared spoke directly to me. Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to visit us here today. I know that it is only a matter of time before your next novels are published, and I hope you’ll come back and visit us again to tell us all about those projects.DogTags_h11265_300

Dog Tags is Heidi’s debut novel, a romantic suspense that will keep you guessing what’s going on in the lives of her characters right up until the last page.

When disabled ex-Marine Mark Graham reconnects with his best friend’s sister, he finds himself falling in love. But Beth Martindale’s presence is a constant reminder of events he’d rather forget. Mark wants to move forward, but the secrets surrounding her brother’s death, as well as his own confinement to a wheelchair, threaten to tear them apart. When a psychopath who calls himself The Knight fixates on Beth, Mark is determined to give her the protection he failed to give her brother on the battlefield, yet he discovers that a wheelchair isn’t the only impediment he has to keeping Beth safe. Will terror win, or can Mark find the strength of mind and body to rescue Beth and find his own redemption?

Dog Tags is available from Pelican Book Group, Amazon.com, and Barnes & Noble. Watch the Dog Tag book trailer here.

And here are all of the places you can connect with Heidi Glick: her website, Sleuths and Suspects, Queen City Quill, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Inner Source: The Inspiration for A Hometown 4th of July

Marshall 1999This week, we’ve had the pleasure of learning more about author June Foster and her character, Max “Ramos” Tate, the hero from A Hometown Fourth of July. I had an unexpected surprise when June informed me that Max’s story was based upon her husband’s brother, Marshall Foster.

Here’s Marshall’s story in June’s own words:

My husband loves to tell a story about his parents when they were childless. His mom and dad were of the Catholic faith, so after they’d been married for eight years with no babies on the way, they decided adoption would be a good route to begin expanding their family. They paid a visit to the Catholic Charities in Birmingham, Alabama. There they found a darling, four-year-old boy named Marshall and brought him home to be a part of their family.

For reasons known only to God, after two more years, Mrs. Foster found she was pregnant and delivered her first biological son, Mike. After Mike, came my husband Joe, then Pat, then Helen, and finally Steve. Marshall was thrilled with so many brothers and a sister.

The story goes that Mrs. Foster decided that the two older boys, Mike and Joe, needed to learn that their oldest brother was adopted. She called a formal family meeting and made the solemn announcement about how Marshall came to their family. At the end of the meeting, Joe questioned his mother, “Marshall still gets to be our big brother, doesn’t he?”

Even though my husband left for the army after he’d grown up, he and Marshall remained in touch. When we moved to Lacey, Washington, Marshall mentioned to Joe he’d be interested in finding his birth family, but he had no idea how to go about it. Since Joe had a good knowledge of the computer, he offered to help. Alabama, which had been a closed adoption state, opened their records up in the early 2000s, and Joe was able to find out some information.

Marshall was sorry to hear his birthmother had passed away ten years before but was encouraged to learn he had a sister. Joe couldn’t find a contact number for Marshall’s sister, but located a number for Marshall’s niece, his sister’s daughter. Marshall was too ill at ease to make the call so Joe dialed the number while Marshall looked on clasping his hands tightly in front of him.

When a woman said hello, Joe said he was phoning on behalf of his brother, Marshall Foster and that Marshall was looking for his sister. Joe asked if he had the right number. My husband thought the woman had hung up as heard nothing but silence then a sob carried over the phone. Finally, the woman said she believed he had the correct number. She was Marshall’s niece and said her mother, Marshall’s sister, had been looking for him for years, always hoping to meet her brother. Joe asked if the mother lived in the same town, and again, the niece let out a sob. She said her mother had died two months before.

Marshall was devastated, but his niece’s promise to come to Washington to visit him with her other sister the following July, cheered him, and they made plans. But in June, just two days after Marshall’s birthday, he died of cancer, never getting to meet his nieces.

This sounds like a sad story, but wait. There’s more. During the process of helping Marshall to find his birth family, my husband and I had occasion to tell Marshall about our awesome and powerful God who sent His Son Jesus to the earth to die for our sins. We shared how to have faith in the Savior and about our final home – Heaven. Marshall began going to church with us and gave his life to the Lord at Thanksgiving that year before. He started coming to Bible study in our home. We were warmed when he told us how he’d always felt empty. He pointed to his heart. He said he was no longer empty inside, and he finally knew who his real Father was.

Joe and I were present on that day in the middle of June when Marshall went to be with the Lord. I’ve never witnessed anyone die before, but I can say, truly, without hesitation, that the experience was beautiful. And I know that someday we’ll see this wonderful man again when we join him in Heaven to be with Jesus forever.

AHometown4thofJulyCoverArt72dpiA Hometown Fourth of July is available from Desert Breeze Publishing Company, Amazon.com, and Barnes & Noble.

When Max Tate meets Lynn at the Fourth of July celebration in their hometown of Ft. Freedom, Washington, he’s attracted to her. Lynn helps Max locate his birth mother, but when they take a ferry to Cascade Island in search of her, they’re too late. Two weeks before, she died of cancer. Now Max is mad at God and turns his back on the best friend he ever had—Lynn Marshall.

Lynn got lost in the crowd of her large family, her parents’ attention never stretching far enough to her lonely position as a middle child. When Max declares his love for her, she gives him her heart, but he hurls it back at her.

Can Max and Lynn move past the disappointments and pain in their lives to celebrate another Fourth of July together?

If you missed June’s interview from Monday, click here. If you’d like to read Max’s interview from Wednesday, click here.