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Fear, Courage & Foolishness by H.L. Wegley

Psalm 55:4-5

My heart beats violently within me; the horrors of death overcome me.

Fear and panic overpower me; terror overwhelms me. (Net Bible)

We’ve all felt overwhelming fear during some crisis. Jennifer, my heroine in On the Pineapple Express, gets a quadruple dose of this type of fear, forcing her to consider the relationships between fear, courage, foolishness and how all three relate to doing God’s will. In three scenes Jennifer must face a phobia about raging water. Then she faces a horrifying danger, the fear of what human traffickers might do to a beautiful, young-looking woman like her.

Let’s examine briefly some things Jennifer says when she realizes the extent of the danger to Lee and her if they keep looking for the captive girls:

Jennifer: “Tell me we’re not being fools—that this will all turn out good in the end.”

Lee: He cupped her cheeks so they stared into each other’s eyes. “If those girls knew what we were attempting, and they knew we were the only ones attempting it, would they look at us as being fools?”

Jennifer already had confirmation that God wanted her to help find the girls. Realizing that, Lee gave her just what she needed to encourage her. His wise answer comes in the form of a question that gives Jennifer the perspective of those she’s risking her life to save. Many times getting the focus off ourselves and onto others is precisely what we need to do in trying situations.

The question of being foolish surfaces again in Jennifer’s mind just before she places Lee and her in the greatest danger the two have ever faced.

Lee: “Last question. What if the people are armed and they’re guarding the parking area?”

Jennifer: “We…let’s pray that doesn’t happen.”

Lee: “You’re right about the praying part. But if it does happen, we’ve got to slip out of there quietly and get help.”

Jennifer: “Only after we wait long enough to determine they really are guarding the place. Now, are we ready to go?” Jennifer stepped into the bushes at the back of the campsite and worked her way to the edge of Mora Road. Lord, please don’t allow me to be a fool.

Jennifer’s concern surfaces in her short prayer. I’m trying to avoid a big spoiler here, so if you want to know the details about the confirmation of God’s will to Jennifer, and the subsequent strength and courage He gives her to persevere in the face of incredible odds, you’ll have to read the book.

Writing about the incredible dangers my characters faced forced me to think about facing my worst fears. When times get tough and I’m fearful, my natural tendency is to isolate myself, grab the bull by the horns, and try to solve the problem with my natural abilities. No matter how gifted we may be, that will not always work. Furthermore, it isn’t wise, because we lose the help of others God has placed in our lives, help like the encouragement Lee gave to Jennifer. Also, we aren’t availing ourselves of God’s strength which He offers to us:

Isaiah 41:10:

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (NIV)

Don’t you love these great promises? However, when I read them I’m compelled to look at the context in which they were given. So, let’s back up and look at verses 8 and 9 of Isaiah 41:

8 “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, 9 I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. (NIV)

The promise above is for God’s chosen people, his servants, the children of Abraham. We appropriate this promise in our day and time by relying on the unchanging character of God that is revealed to us in the passage. But that begs the question, “Am I serving God in what I’m doing, or am I serving myself?” If I’m not serving God when I place myself in danger, I’m probably being foolish.

I listened to a song many times while writing On the Pineapple Express, The Voice of Truth by Casting Crowns. Its message is scriptural, “Do not be afraid. This is for My glory.” God says this more than 400 times in His word. I believe that in many of those 400 times He is talking about paralyzing fear, the kind that stops us in our tracks. Stymied by this fear, we don’t go down swinging, we go down looking. Regardless, we’ve still struck out.

If we want to follow God’s leading but are full of fear, His word, and His very presence, will give us the courage to charge ahead, to fight the battle He has given us (I will uphold you with my righteous right hand). I know God can give us peace. But sometimes He, instead, gives us courage to overcome fear and, through His provision, we win the battle. And we learn to trust Him more. Then with more trust, the next time around, there is less fear. That is a point I try to illustrate in the sequel, Moon over MaalaeaBay.

SONY DSCAbout Author H. L. Wegley:

H. L. Wegley served in the US Air Force as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. He is a Meteorologist who, while working as a forecaster and a research scientist in Atmospheric Physics, published extensively in the scientific literature. After earning an MS in Computer Science, he worked more than two decades as a Systems Programmer at Boeing before retiring in the Seattle area, where he and his wife of 47 years enjoy small-group ministry, their grandchildren, hiking beaches on the Olympic Peninsula, snorkeling Maui whenever he gets a chance, and where he writes inspirational thrillers and romantic suspense novels. Besides his scientific publications, he published one non-fiction work, Colby and Me: Growing up in the ’50s, a humorous collection of the childhood adventures of an early baby boomer.

You can also meet up with H. L. at his website, his blog, on FacebookTwitter, his Amazon Author Page, and on his Publisher’s Book Page.

perf5.500x8.500.inddMore about On the Pineapple Express:

In one of the most beautiful places on earth the ugliest of crimes holds young, innocent lives in its evil grip. An intercepted cell-phone call from a remote area on the Olympic Peninsula tells beautiful, brilliant NSA researcher, Jennifer Akihara, a group of girls will soon be sold into slavery by human traffickers. She enlists her fiancé, Lee Brandt, to help find the holding location and convince the FBI to intervene. With the clock ticking off the last few hours before both the sale of the girls and the arrival of a deadly storm, and with international criminals pursuing them, can Jennifer and Lee save the girls, or will their wedding plans be cancelled … permanently?

Hide_and_SeekAlso available Hide and Seek:

A computer security breach within a US defense contractor’s firewalls leads investigators, Lee Brandt and beautiful, brilliant Jennifer Akihara, onto the cyber-turf of terrorists, where they are detected and targeted for elimination. Lee leads them on a desperate and prayer-filled flight for survival into the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Will Jennifer’s pursuit of truth about the conspiracy, and the deepest issues of life, lead her into the clutches of terrorists, into the arms of Lee Brandt, or into the arms of the God she deems untrustworthy?

On Monday, Inner Source interviewed Jennifer Akihara.

On Wednesday, H. L Wegley was our special guest.

Author Interview: H. L. Wegley

 

SONY DSCToday’s guest is the author of On the Pineapple Express, H. L. Wegley.  H. L. served in the US Air Force as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. He is a Meteorologist who, while working as a forecaster and a research scientist in Atmospheric Physics, published extensively in the scientific literature. After earning an MS in Computer Science, he worked more than two decades as a Systems Programmer at Boeing before retiring in the Seattle area, where he and his wife of 47 years enjoy small-group ministry, their grandchildren, hiking beaches on the Olympic Peninsula, snorkeling Maui whenever he gets a chance, and where he writes inspirational thrillers and romantic suspense novels. Besides his scientific publications, he published one non-fiction work, Colby and Me: Growing up in the ’50s, a humorous collection of the childhood adventures of an early baby boomer.

Welcome to Inner Source, H.L. You’ve taken on a very heavy subject with On the Pineapple Express. Would you mind sharing with the reafer how this issue came to light for you and why you felt led to write about it?

About three years ago, while I was planning a second novel in the Pure Genius Series, a neighbor asked us to attend a human trafficking awareness meeting. Dr. Cyndi Romine, who has rescued women all around the globe from sex trafficking, spoke to us. Also present were local law enforcement and local government agencies tasked with stopping human trafficking. The statistics we heard horrified us. The county we live in is one of the worst places in the nation for child prostitution. When we learned that children were being lured from street corners in our neighborhood, from food courts in local malls, anywhere kids gather, I wanted to do something. Using my hero and heroine from Hide and Seek, the first book in the series, I plotted a story about the rescue of a group of girls from an international human trafficking syndicate.

The hero in On the Pineapple Express is a meteorologist. Is this field something in your expertise? And in a related question, is there really such a force as The Pineapple Express?

Yes, Lee Brandt, the hero, is a meteorologist. Actually, I gave Lee a shortened version of my own resume. I have been a weather officer in the Air Force, a weather forecaster, and a research scientist in atmospheric physics. Later, I jumped ship and went into computer science work. So did Lee. But I’m digressing. You asked about the Pineapple Express. When the jet stream dips down near the Hawaiian Islands and then flows northeastward to the Pacific Northwest, it pumps a lot of moisture from the tropics our way and often creates torrential rains and flooding in WesternWashingtonState. That’s the Pineapple Express. Straight from Hawaii. For my story, I added another variation to the weather situation. I re-created the meteorological conditions that spawned the 1962, Columbus Day Storm, the strongest wind storm ever to hit the West Coast of the United States. Why have one weather danger when you can have two? ☺

I can’t imagine the materials that must have been researched on the subject of human trafficking. What can you tell us about this worldwide plague of humanity?

On the Pineapple Express required a lot of research into human trafficking, which is mostly sex trafficking. Unlike the research for most of my novels, this research was not pleasant. It took me into dark places that I do not wish to revisit. I don’t mind dealing with dark subjects in my stories, but I try to do it in a way that is not overly graphic, always presents hope, and where good and justice eventually prevail. In our fallen world, in this age, that is not always the case. In one area of our state 3,000 girls disappeared in one year. You cannot derive accurate statistics from police records — too many missing children are listed as runaways, so they are not in the crime statistics. Trafficking of children is so profitable that organized crime, such as arms dealers and drug cartels, are incorporating it into their operations. This crime is pandemic in our world and has become epidemic in our nation, reaching even into the smaller communities. Worldwide, it is estimated that 2 million children are victims. All children are potential targets of traffickers, but especially young girls. The average age of girls entering into prostitution used to be 13, but it is now nearer to 12 and steadily dropping. For every 18-year-old, how many much, much younger children are needed to produce that average? You can do the math and it paints an ugly picture. On the brighter side, awareness is growing, and people who want to get involved can usually find a local organization that fights labor trafficking, sex trafficking, and other sorts of slavery.

When writing, sometimes the Lord will place a truth on our hearts about a certain subject. Did God do that with you during your work on this novel? If so, would you mind sharing that with us?

The relationships between fear, courage and doing God’s will came up many times as I wrote this story. My heroine had to face her worst fear in several scenes and she placed her life on the line for people she didn’t even know. God’s word says more than 400 times, “Do not be afraid.” But I don’t believe He is talking about a complete absence of fear, rather it’s the paralyzing fear that causes us to fail because we won’t even try. When we are willing to obey despite our fear, He provides the courage we need. That’s a subject I would like to talk about a little more in Friday’s blog post.

Do you have any future projects in the works, and if so, what issues do your characters deal with?

I have 5 future projects, all romantic thrillers, in various stages of completion, ranging from a completed first draft to a couple of novels awaiting scheduled release dates. We ended the previous subject with a few words about winning battles and learning to trust God more. That’s the theme of Moon over Maalaea Bay, the next book in the series, a romantic thriller releasing June 13. This story has a team of 4 protagonists that learn about trusting God more when the international syndicate bent on revenge abducts the heroine in Maui a few hours after her wedding. I just finished proofing the galleys for the final book in the Pure Genius Series, Triple Threat, which should release this fall. In it a young woman seems to have it all, a PhD candidate with a genius-level IQ, beauty, incredible athletic ability, but scars from the foster care system drive her to keep trying to prove she’s worthy of love and acceptance. She takes too many chances … a deadly mistake when you’re exposing a three-pronged terrorist attack which, if successful, will dwarf 9-11.

Thank you, H.L., for making us aware of this horrible crime and for making people aware. I have six precious grandchildren, and until you mentioned it here, I didn’t think anything about them going to the mall’s food court. I know I’ll be much more careful in the future. You can catch up with H. L. at his website, his blog, on FacebookTwitter, his Amazon Author Page, and on his Publisher’s Book Page.

perf5.500x8.500.inddMore about On the Pineapple Express:

In one of the most beautiful places on earth the ugliest of crimes holds young, innocent lives in its evil grip. An intercepted cell-phone call from a remote area on the Olympic Peninsula tells beautiful, brilliant NSA researcher, Jennifer Akihara, a group of girls will soon be sold into slavery by human traffickers. She enlists her fiancé, Lee Brandt, to help find the holding location and convince the FBI to intervene. With the clock ticking off the last few hours before both the sale of the girls and the arrival of a deadly storm, and with international criminals pursuing them, can Jennifer and Lee save the girls, or will their wedding plans be cancelled … permanently?

Hide_and_SeekAlso available Hide and Seek:

A computer security breach within a US defense contractor’s firewalls leads investigators, Lee Brandt and beautiful, brilliant Jennifer Akihara, onto the cyber-turf of terrorists, where they are detected and targeted for elimination. Lee leads them on a desperate and prayer-filled flight for survival into the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Will Jennifer’s pursuit of truth about the conspiracy, and the deepest issues of life, lead her into the clutches of terrorists, into the arms of Lee Brandt, or into the arms of the God she deems untrustworthy?

On Monday, Inner Source interviewed Jennifer Akihara.

Character Interview: Jennifer Akihara from On the Pineapple Express

perf5.500x8.500.inddJennifer, tell us a little about yourself? Your background? What you do for a living?

You recently found yourself in a precarious situation dealing not only with nature but with some very dangerous and evil men? Care to tell us what led you into this fight?

My name is Jennifer Akihara. Soon to be Jennifer Brandt. I’m Japanese Hawaiian, raised in the Islands. When Lee Brandt and I met, I was preparing to start my PhD work in Computing Security. But meeting Lee seven months ago changed my plans, my life, my eternal destiny and—I’m getting off track. After a cyber espionage investigation brought us together, Lee and I started courting. Then I took a job as a research scientist with NSA. They wanted me to apply my Internet forensic skills to wireless communication, and that’s when I accidentally intercepted the phone call revealing human trafficking. These people were selling girls from a remote spot on the Olympic Peninsula. You’ll probably think I’m crazy, but I heard a young girl crying for help. It was like she was crying out to me, pleading with me. We didn’t have enough information to convince the FBI to stop the next scheduled sale of girls, so Lee and I went to get the needed evidence. We got a little more than we bargained for — heavily armed international criminals and a 100-year storm.

As I read, I kept asking myself why you and Lee didn’t listen to the authorities in this situation. Care to tell us why you and Lee would risk your lives and go against the advice of the FBI?

Look, I told Agent Peterson everything I knew. He said it wasn’t enough. He couldn’t guarantee the FBI would stop the next sale of girls. With the desperate cries of a girl echoing in your mind, begging you for help, what would you do? We had to locate the girls to get the authorities to intervene. I couldn’t have just done nothing and lived with myself. Lee knows me. He understood. And we both knew what we were risking by doing this … our future together. But, you know something; we’re an awesome team when we both commit to accomplish something.

Yes, you are. I can’t imagine facing the danger you did without having a solid faith. Can you tell your readers how you leaned upon your faith in order to do the job you felt the Lord was leading you to do? Is there scripture or a biblical concept that helped you through your ordeal?

Some people would call Lee and I fools. And that would be true if we weren’t sure God was leading us. His word says more than 400 times, “Do not be afraid.” However, even recognizing His leading doesn’t remove all the fear, but it does provide the courage to act in spite of our fears. I struggled with that several times. The worst time was when both paths before us led to certain death. How do you choose between—I’ll let you read the story, because I can’t begin to describe what happened, and some of it I don’t even remember.

So, do you plan to get yourself into such a horrendous position in the future?

Are you kidding? Right now, I just want to marry Lee and go on a long, relaxing honeymoon. Did I tell you he’s going to take me to Maui for our honeymoon? Watching the Moon over Maalaea Bay, soaking up sun, walking miles of sandy beaches, snorkeling with colorful, tropical fish swarming around us — what could possibly go wrong in a romantic island paradise like Maui?

Jennifer, I think you may be surprised. I bet you and Lee will find lots of trouble. Thank you for visiting with us today.

More about On the Pineapple Express:

In one of the most beautiful places on earth the ugliest of crimes holds young, innocent lives in its evil grip. An intercepted cell-phone call from a remote area on the Olympic Peninsula tells beautiful, brilliant NSA researcher, Jennifer Akihara, a group of girls will soon be sold into slavery by human traffickers. She enlists her fiancé, Lee Brandt, to help find the holding location and convince the FBI to intervene. With the clock ticking off the last few hours before both the sale of the girls and the arrival of a deadly storm, and with international criminals pursuing them, can Jennifer and Lee save the girls, or will their wedding plans be cancelled … permanently?

Hide_and_SeekAlso available Hide and Seek:

A computer security breach within a US defense contractor’s firewalls leads investigators, Lee Brandt and beautiful, brilliant Jennifer Akihara, onto the cyber-turf of terrorists, where they are detected and targeted for elimination. Lee leads them on a desperate and prayer-filled flight for survival into the mountains of the Pacific Northwest. Will Jennifer’s pursuit of truth about the conspiracy, and the deepest issues of life, lead her into the clutches of terrorists, into the arms of Lee Brandt, or into the arms of the God she deems untrustworthy?

SONY DSCAbout Author H. L. Wegley:

H. L. Wegley served in the US Air Force as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. He is a Meteorologist who, while working as a forecaster and a research scientist in Atmospheric Physics, published extensively in the scientific literature. After earning an MS in Computer Science, he worked more than two decades as a Systems Programmer at Boeing before retiring in the Seattle area, where he and his wife of 47 years enjoy small-group ministry, their grandchildren, hiking beaches on the Olympic Peninsula, snorkeling Maui whenever he gets a chance, and where he writes inspirational thrillers and romantic suspense novels. Besides his scientific publications, he published one non-fiction work, Colby and Me: Growing up in the ’50s, a humorous collection of the childhood adventures of an early baby boomer.

You can also meet up with H. L. at his website, his blog, on Facebook, Twitter, his Amazon Author Page, and on his Publisher’s Book Page.

Changes by Darlene Franklin

The more things change, the more they stay the same.—Alphonse Karr

Clarinda Tuttle Finch probably could repeat the quote in the original French without looking it up, as I had to. But she didn’t find change any easier to deal with than I do today.

I grew up in the Fifties and Sixties. Back then, June Cleaver represented the ideal mother, not Ann Romano. No other single-parent families attended our church. Even all my cousins had two-parent families, although several of them lived in blended families.

Nothing about my life felt normal.

My “abnormal” version of American life ended the semester I left for college. Separated by four hundred miles, I hadn’t observed the changes in my mother firsthand. When my mother moved to a new city, she sold my piano. My piano. I was a piano major in college. She had thrown me out along with my instrument.

More than that, she had fallen in love. They married the following May. I lived with them for the summer—and never went back for longer than a holiday break ever again.

That summer counts as the first twist of “normal” in my life. Changes rolled on and on. Most recently I moved a lifetime of living into a shared room in a nursing home.

The changes in Clarinda’s life didn’t resemble mine, but they turned into a rockslide by the time of the War. As the oldest child, a young adult when her parents died, Clarinda took over as the head of the family. With her husband, they struggled to keep the family farm going during the Depression. Her husband died in the early days of the war. Both their sons enlisted, and the changes kept coming.

Changes chip away at our core values, until nothing but solid rock remains. Ultimately, God is the Rock which will never erode. Storms will strike. We may lose half a heart to grief. We may crumble due to illness. We will learn we are not perfect. We will face changes that change how we’ve always seen ourselves. But as long as we stand on God, we will weather all those changes—stronger for it.

God is always with me, and He is the same, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

df jpegAbout Author Darlene Franklin:

Darlene Franklin’s  greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. She lives in Oklahoma, near her son and his family, and continues her interests in playing the piano and singing, books, good fellowship, and reality TV in addition to writing. She is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. She has written twenty-seven books, been published in twenty more, and has written more than 200 devotionals. Her historical fiction ranges from the Revolutionary War to World War II, from TexasF to Vermont. You can find Darlene online elsewhere at http://darlenehfranklinwrites.blogspot.com/http://mydailynibble.blogspot.com/ and                       https://www.facebook.com/darlene.franklin.

homefront dreamsAbout Hometown Dreams:

Clarinda Finch hates change.

As the newly elected mayor of Maple Notch, the war widow must lead her town through the dark days of World War II. But where she finds comfort in tradition, the town council insists on trying new ways of handling the homefront challenges. Her most untraditional opponent? Councilman Ralph Quincy.

High school principal Ralph never expected to become a friend to Clarinda and her family. But as she spars with him over the war effort, the smart, spirited mayor is the most compelling woman he’s ever known. Can they put aside their differences and fight for both their town and a future together?

On Monday, Inner Source visited with Clarinda Tuttle Finch, the heroine of  Hometown Dreams.

On Wednesday, Darlene Franklin was our special guest interviewee.

Author Interview: Darlene Franklin

df jpegToday’s guest is Darlene Franklin, author of Hometown Dreams. Darlene’s  greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. She lives in Oklahoma, near her son and his family, and continues her interests in playing the piano and singing, books, good fellowship, and reality TV in addition to writing. She is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. She has written twenty-seven books, been published in twenty more, and has written more than 200 devotionals. Her historical fiction ranges from the Revolutionary War to World War II, from TexasF to Vermont. You can find Darlene online elsewhere at http://darlenehfranklinwrites.blogspot.com/, http://mydailynibble.blogspot.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/darlene.franklin.

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?

Good question! Brainstorming is my favorite part of the writing process. I could say a lot on the subject, but I’ll give you a peek into the thinking behind Homefront Dreams. It is the last of six historical romances set in the small town of Maple Notch, Vermont. I checked the history of the state for interesting idea starters. That’s where I read about a widow becoming mayor after her husband’s death, a great story to set during World War II.

From there I searched for more threads. The heroine appeared in the two previous books, and I knew her well. But who should the hero be? Why, the man who ran against her in the mayoral election. What came between them? The future of the Maple Notch Female Seminary, which her grandmother founded.

I had read a book on quilts from the war that I wanted to include, and a friend pointed me to the air spotter program.

Any woman, then or now, would feel overwhelmed with so much responsibility. Add her guilt about neglecting her younger children to her other commitments, and Clarinda jumps off the page.

Your heroine, I believe, is unique. She’s a widow with six children, an elected official, an educator, businesswoman, and at one time she was a farmer’s wife. I’d love to know if Clarinda is modeled after anyone you know personally?

Clarinda isn’t modeled after anyone I know personally. She is, perhaps, inspired by her grandmother, Clara Farley Tuttle, the heroine of Love’s Raid. Also, the courage of the women who fought the war and those who took over at home inspired to create such a character as my heroine.

In Hometown Dreams, the hero and heroine have differing opinions on some very important issues. The hero’s actions even takes away some of the heroine’s cherished traditions. Yet, they remain friends and never enemies. In your life, have you ever had a friend or family member oppose your way of thinking? If so, were you able to keep your friendship intact?

Absolutely! One of my best writer friends differs from me on many political issues. We also disagree on theology which places us in different denominations. Neither of us would make several of the life choices that the other made. In other words, someone who seems like an unlikely close friend.

And yet. . . .we are. We are both Mainers and proud of it. We both love the Lord. We attended Christian colleges maybe fifty miles apart. We love history and we love to write. And we recognize when we need to move away from topics that could tear us apart.

People today face the loss of long held traditions, job loss, family members going off to war, and uncertainty about the future. What Biblical advice would you share with them to help the cope with these fearsome things?

The simplest advice is the best: God goes with us into the future.

Also, a word about faith: I have come to believe that faith doesn’t mean being unafraid. Faith means we move forward even though we are afraid. We may shiver, frightened, while we walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death—but the Shepherd leads us step by step.

We’d love to know if you have any future projects in the works.

Thank the Lord, yes. Homefront Dreams was the last historical romance set in Maple Notch. Next come three contemporary novels set in Maple Notch, to complete the saga. I am currently writing the middle book, Runaway Love.

homefront dreamsAbout Hometown Dreams:

Clarinda Finch hates change.

As the newly elected mayor of Maple Notch, the war widow must lead her town through the dark days of World War II. But where she finds comfort in tradition, the town council insists on trying new ways of handling the homefront challenges. Her most untraditional opponent? Councilman Ralph Quincy.

High school principal Ralph never expected to become a friend to Clarinda and her family. But as she spars with him over the war effort, the smart, spirited mayor is the most compelling woman he’s ever known. Can they put aside their differences and fight for both their town and a future together?

On Monday, Inner Source visited with Clarinda Tuttle Finch, the heroine of  Hometown Dreams.

Character Interview: Clarinda Tuttle Finch

homefront dreamsToday’s special guest is the Mayor of Maple Notch, Vermont, and the heroine of Darlene Franklin’s novel Hometown Dreams.

Clarinda, please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do? What story did you bring to your author?

I am Clarinda Tuttle Finch. I grew up in Maple Notch, Vermont, on the farm where my family has lived since before the Revolutionary War. We moved to town, to the Bailey Mansion. I work with my Aunt Flo at the Maple Notch Female Seminary, founded by my grandmother Clara Farley Tuttle.

By the time my book begins, my dear husband Howard died during the first few months of the War. I took over his position as the mayor of Maple Notch.

My grandmother, Clara Farley Tuttle, believed strong in education and opportunities for women. I would have been happy to spend the rest of my life with my beloved Howard and helping at the seminary, but the War began, Howard died, and I had to change. My author found me in the middle of the changing times and guided me through the twists and turns.

I sensed in the story that history and family tradition mean a lot to you. Much had been handled down to you through the generations, but World War II brought many changes to your life, including loss of not only loved ones but of cherished things. I believe that Americans today, like no time since World War II are facing changes and losing cherished traditions. How did you cope with letting go of people and possessions that were important to you?

You could almost say my life prepared me. Long before Pearl Harbor, my parents died in the ’19 ‘flu epidemic. In the height of the Depression, I had twin daughters, one of whom died.

But we did have to make do with what we had. When something wore out, we’d rework it and find a new use for it. So I’m not comfortable with people buying new things when the old ones still work.

The hardest change was watching the Maple Notch Female Seminary close. My grandmother founded the school about the same time that the University of Vermont was founded.

You have two sons, and they both chose to enlist in the military and join the war effort. How did you cope with their decisions especially after your husband was killed in action?

I hated my daughter’s choice to enlist the most of all, even while I was proud of her for wanting to do her part in the war. I didn’t let myself think about it. If I ever worried about it, I told myself not to be silly. Wives and mothers across the country made greater sacrifices than I did. Did you ever hear about five Sullivan brothers who all served on the same submarine and died together?

I hated my sons being in danger, but relished the reunions at the end of the War.

Is there scripture or a biblical concept that you leaned upon which helped you to cope with the changes around you and with the decisions your children were making?

Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. (Ephesians 6:13, KJV)

The words reminded me to use all the weapons put at my disposal—and then to stand. I didn’t have to do it all. God would go to battle for me.

And because I’m a romantic at heart, I just have to ask this question: Ralph is a very nice fellow. He’s intelligent, very organized, and he has multiple talents, but you sometimes found yourself opposed to some of his ideas. What characteristics do the two of you share that you might believe helped to draw you together?

We’re both educators, committed to helping young people grow into responsible adults. Whenever he is assigned a task, he follows through. He’s a committed Christian. I’ve always thought well of him, but my feelings changed to something deeper as we both worked on the town council.

More about Hometown Dreams:

Clarinda Finch hates change.

As the newly elected mayor of Maple Notch, the war widow must lead her town through the dark days of World War II. But where she finds comfort in tradition, the town council insists on trying new ways of handling the homefront challenges. Her most untraditional opponent? Councilman Ralph Quincy.

High school principal Ralph never expected to become a friend to Clarinda and her family. But as she spars with him over the war effort, the smart, spirited mayor is the most compelling woman he’s ever known. Can they put aside their differences and fight for both their town and a future together?

df jpegAbout the Author:

Darlene Franklin’s greatest claim to fame is that she writes full-time from a nursing home. She lives in Oklahoma, near her son and his family, and continues her interests in playing the piano and singing, books, good fellowship, and reality TV in addition to writing. She is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. She has written twenty-seven books, been published in twenty more, and has written more than 200 devotionals. Her historical fiction ranges from the Revolutionary War to World War II, from TexasF to Vermont. You can find Darlene online elsewhere at: http://darlenehfranklinwrites.blogspot.com/http://mydailynibble.blogspot.com, and                            https://www.facebook.com/darlene.franklin.3

 

The Huge Difference Between Be the Best and Do Your Best

GailPallottaHeadshot (2)Today, our guest is author, Gail Pallotta, author of the young adult, coming-of-age novel, Stopped Cold. Gail is an award-winning author, a wife, mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets, and getting together with friends and family. She’s been a Sunday school teacher, a swim-team coordinator, and an after-school literary instructor. A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. Her new teen book, Stopped Cold, is a best-seller on All Romance eBooks. She’s published short stories in “Splickety” magazine and Sweet Freedom with a Slice of Peach Cobbler. Some of her published articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. Readers can find her on the internet on the staff of Clash of the Titles, at her blog,  on her website, on Authors and More, which is on Facebook, and at  Twitter.

Today Gail shares some thoughts about the issues that brought about her young adult, coming-of-age novel.

Stopped Cold focuses on steroid use, a relevant issue. But it’s not the motivation behind the book.

Our society glorifies winning. In competition almost no one remembers the person or team who finished second. Ads on television and magazines encourage us to use products that will make us “the best.”

Even though the encouragement to rise above everyone else floated around me during my youth, it played in the background of my life. However, as I grew older I saw heartache when people driven to be number one weren’t. For instance, I knew of a girl who tried to commit suicide because her first semester college grades weren’t as good as she or someone thought they should be. At the time the pain she must have gone through and how her talents were wasted struck me as so sad.

Then there was a young woman, an honor student, who won nearly every beauty contest in her college, and everyone appeared to love her. She was gorgeous and friendly, not stuck up as some might expect. After she graduated I saw a friend of hers and asked how she was doing. The friend replied, “She’s living at home with her parents. She couldn’t cope with just going to work every day and being an ordinary person.”

Unfortunately, I knew a few people who took drastic measures not to live with mistakes people who were “the best” wouldn’t make. These events touched my heart in a sorrowful way that never left me.

All of these things rattled around in my head for a long time.

However, when I sat down to write a book, the first thing I thought about was something fun to read. As a youngster I loved Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys, so I wanted to come up with a mystery reminiscent of them. At the same time a story about a young person struggling to be the best nagged me. Could I connect the two?

On a different day I pondered writing a book about sports because it would appeal to girls and boys. At that point it dawned on me—a sports mystery. But what was the mystery? It didn’t take long until steroids came to mind. Many high profile professional athletes have taken them and competitors have been kicked out of the Olympic Games because of steroid use. I asked myself why these people took them. That was a no-brainer—to win, to be number one, set records and be the best ever.

I started writing and the essence of the problems that had rattled around in my head for such a long time found its way to the page. Then I remembered words from The Bible telling us how much God loves us, that He’s given us gifts to use for him. I recalled man’s purpose stated in The Westminster Shorter Catechism—“Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” What I now consider the most important part of the book, the message, came to life—we don’t have to be number one for God to love us.

More about Stopped Cold:

Margaret McWhorter enjoys a laid-back Freshman year in high school flirting with Jimmy Willmore, swimming and hanging out with friends—until that day. Her brother, Sean, suffers a stroke from taking a steroid. Now he’s lying unconscious in a hospital. Margaret’s angry at her dad for pushing Sean to be a great quarterback, but a fire of hatred burns inside her to make the criminals pay.

Looking for justice, she takes Jimmy and her best friend, Emily, through a twisted, drug-filled sub-culture. A clue sends them deep into the woods behind the school where they overhear drug dealers discuss Sean.

Time and time again they walk a treacherous path and come face to face with danger. Even the cop on the case can’t stop them from investigating. All the while Margaret really wants to cure Sean, heal the hate inside, and open her heart to love.

Don’t miss Monday’s character interview with Margaret McWhorter, the heroine of Stopped Cold, or Gail’s Interview from Wednesday.

 

Author Interview: Gail Pallotta

GailPallottaHeadshot (2)Today, our guest is author, Gail Pallotta, author of the young adult, coming-of-age novel, Stopped Cold. Gail is an award-winning author, a wife, mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets, and getting together with friends and family. She’s been a Sunday school teacher, a swim-team coordinator, and an after-school literary instructor. A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. Her new teen book, Stopped Cold, is a best-seller on All Romance eBooks. She’s published short stories in “Splickety” magazine and Sweet Freedom with a Slice of Peach Cobbler. Some of her published articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. Readers can find her on the internet on the staff of Clash of the Titles, at her blog,  on her website, on Authors and More, which is on Facebook, and at  Twitter.

High school athletic steroid use is the main topic of Stopped Cold but I believe that there is another issue that you, the writer, delve into, and that issue is an unrealistic expectation of a parent for a child. The high expectations of Sean and Margaret’s father is what led to their peaceful lives being turned upside down. Is this something that you have witnessed? If not, how did this issue come to light for you?

Sadly, I’ve seen instances in which not being the best caused heartache in children and young people. Unfortunately, a couple times the drive to be number one resulted in devastation. I’m not sure if this phenomenon crossed my path more than that of others, but it touched my heart in a sad way.

Margaret and her brother, Sean, are very close. Despite the father’s shortcomings, I found it very refreshing that he wasn’t portrayed as abusive. He simply had expectations for his children, but I found him genuinely likeable. I’m curious, is there a person like Bullet in your life?

No one person. He’s the combination of characteristics I’ve come across in people and the personification of two truisms. Most conscientious caring parents want the best for their children. In many instances that translates into encouraging their children to excel. But there’s a huge difference in “do your best” and “be the best.” Also many who come from loving homes and succeed in their lives will raise their children exactly as their parents raised them. In some instances without even thinking about it, they push their children to always win.

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?

The concept is: We don’t have to be number one for God to love us. He’s given each of us a gift or gifts to use for Him.

One Scripture is: 1 Peter 4: 10: Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.

Numerous passages in the Bible which speak of God’s love for and acceptance of us came to mind as I worked on the book, but I’ll cite Psalm 66: 20:  Praise be to God who has not rejected my prayer or withheld His love from me.

What advice would you give a teenage reader or even a parent who is dealing with personal use of steroids or who knows someone who might be taking such drugs?

I’d tell them to look for a counselor or physician who might help. Then I’d encourage them to get into a Christian youth group or Sunday school class or talk to a minister about how much God loves us and what He, not man, expects from us.

Do you have any future projects in the works, and if so, what issues do your characters deal with?

Yes. In one a woman deals with the death of her husband. In another a young lady’s coping with a deep hurt that makes her distrust men. A heroine’s plagued by a mysterious illness in a third book.

Thank you for having me, Fay.

You’re very welcome.

StoppedCold200x300More about Stopped Cold:

Margaret McWhorter enjoys a laid-back Freshman year in high school flirting with Jimmy Willmore, swimming and hanging out with friends—until that day. Her brother, Sean, suffers a stroke from taking a steroid. Now he’s lying unconscious in a hospital. Margaret’s angry at her dad for pushing Sean to be a great quarterback, but a fire of hatred burns inside her to make the criminals pay.

Looking for justice, she takes Jimmy and her best friend, Emily, through a twisted, drug-filled sub-culture. A clue sends them deep into the woods behind the school where they overhear drug dealers discuss Sean.

Time and time again they walk a treacherous path and come face to face with danger. Even the cop on the case can’t stop them from investigating. All the while Margaret really wants to cure Sean, heal the hate inside, and open her heart to love.

Don’t miss Monday’s character interview with Margaret McWhorter, the heroine of Stopped Cold.

Character Interview: Margaret McWhorter from Stopped Cold by Gail Pallotta

StoppedCold200x300Today’s guest is a sweet young lady, Margaret McWhorter. Margaret comes to us from Gail Pallotta’s novel, Stopped Cold.

Margaret, welcome to Inner Source. Please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do? What story did you bring to your author?

I’m a freshman in a private school in Mistville, North Carolina. I enjoy swimming and hanging out at The Grill with my friends. The first day of classes Jimmy Willmore caught my attention. I hoped he’d ask me out, but then my brother, Sean, took a steroid, had a stroke and ended up in the hospital. Now I’m hot on the trail of the drug dealers with my best friend, Emily, and Jimmy.

You’ve been through a tough few months, and you have watched someone you love suffer from steroid use. I’d like to know what you’d have to say to anyone contemplating taking these drugs to enhance their physical abilities.

If you had any idea what could happen, you wouldn’t do it. It’s not worth it. My brother is so smart he could have been anything he wanted. He could’ve grown up and found a cure for cancer, but now I’m afraid his life is ruined. We just want him to wake up and come live with us again.

Your father was a football player, a good one, and he exceled at what he did. You’re also an excellent athlete in your sport of choice. I get the feeling that even if your father didn’t push you to be the best, you’d still give it your all. What I’d like to know is that if you had the chance to have a heart-to-heart with your dad—because, after all, he is a nice guy, a loving father—what advice would you give him about his overzealousness to have his children compete?

LOL. My dad’s the most competitive guy in the world. If I could talk to him about it, I’d ask him to have a healthy competitive spirit. My Sunday school teacher says we all have a gift or gifts to use for God, and our purpose is to glorify Him. I want to develop my talent to the best of my ability, and yeah, it’d be nice if my best turned out to be “the best.” But I’d try to make Dad see that Sean and I don’t have to always be number one to be worthwhile.

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. I got the distinct feeling that you understood this principle. What good do you believe came out of this traumatic time for you and for Sean?

The most important one was Dad accepting Sean for the person he was. Dad no longer had a choice about pushing Sean to be a great quarterback. It forced him to be proud of the things Sean had accomplished, and all of us were a lot happier.

Okay, inquiring minds want to know. How is Jimmy? Did you enjoy the Fall Festival?

Big grin. Jimmy’s fine. We had a great time at the Fall Festival. We’re dating now!

More about Stopped Cold:

Margaret McWhorter enjoys a laid-back Freshman year in high school flirting with Jimmy Willmore, swimming, and hanging out with friends—until that day. Her brother, Sean, suffers a stroke from taking a steroid. Now he’s lying unconscious in a hospital. Margaret’s angry at her dad for pushing Sean to be a great quarterback, but a fire of hatred burns inside her to make the criminals pay. Looking for justice, she takes Jimmy and her best friend, Emily, through a twisted, drug-filled sub-culture. A clue sends them deep into the woods behind the school where they overhear drug dealers discuss Sean.

Time and time again they walk a treacherous path and come face to face with danger. Even the cop on the case can’t stop them from investigating. All the while Margaret really wants to cure Sean, heal the hate inside, and open her heart to love.

GailPallottaHeadshot (2)About Gail Pallotta:

Award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. She’s been a Sunday school teacher, a swim-team coordinator and an after-school literary instructor. A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. Her new teen book, Stopped Cold, is a best-seller on All Romance eBooks. She’s published short stories in “Splickety” magazine and Sweet Freedom with a Slice of Peach Cobbler. Some of her published articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. Readers can find her on the internet on the staff of Clash of the Titles, at her blog,  on her website, on Authors and More, which is on Facebook, and at  Twitter.

Author Interview: Susan Diane Johnson, Author of True North

Susan Diane Johnson photo (1)Susan Diane Johnson is our special guest today. She is talking about the issues of the heart with regard to her dynamic novel, True North.  Susan is the author of two contemporary novels, True North, and No Substitute. Her first historical novel, Sweet Mountain Music, will be available in May. Susan is a regular contributor to the Inkwell Inspirations blog, a group blog by Christian woman and for Christian women. She is also member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and Romance Writers of America. Susan lives in northwest Washington with her husband and their naughty little cat. They are the parents of a wonderful grown son, and hope to one day become grandparents. You can contact Susan through her website (below), or at glorybooks@yahoo.com.

http://www.susandianejohnson.com

http://inkwellinspirations.com/

Susie, thanks for being with us.

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 characters and conflict to life in True North?

The core of this book was written at one of three beaches I like to visit. On weekends I often take my car and go to one beach or another. I take my lunch, iced tea, and either a stack of paper to edit, or my alpha smart. Something about the environment speaks to my heart, soothes my soul, and helps in creating scenes for my characters. Especially for this book. This was so emotional for me to write. It truly was the hardest book I’ve ever written.

I can imagine the range of emotions you felt from day to day as you wrote this story. Personally, I’m not sure that I’ve ever asked this question of you, but the emotions and the pain you bring out of your characters in the story is so real. Have you ever faced such a loss or have you been close enough to someone who did and faced such a loss? If not, how in the world did you draw out those emotions?

I have never lost a child who has been born. I want to make it clear that I would never presume to know how it feels. What I have experienced was a hysterectomy the day my son turned two years old. I was young, and not ready to give up having children. I think I drew from many of the emotions I went through at that time.

That is a genuine loss, and I agree. I don’t think we can ever truly come alongside a grieving person and tell them we know how they feel, even if we have suffered a similar loss. Grief is such a personal emotion. In True North 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 to help readers who may have suffered much the same as your hero and heroine?

The scripture I used is 2nd Corinthians 4:16-18, with the key point being to keep our eyes focused on God. Even though we hurt and are in pain, God is there with us every step of the way. Sometimes we don’t feel it, and sometimes we don’t remember it. Sometimes we hurt so bad we forget to look for him first. But if we strive to keep our eyes fixed upon him, he will fill our hearts and lead us in the right direction. We just have to remember.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” ~~2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (NIV)

One dear character of yours is an elderly woman who befriends the heroine. I think that her contribution to the story was to show others the best way to come alongside someone who is suffering, and as I said above, I don’t know if there is truly only one way we can help someone who faces loss. What advice would you give to readers who find themselves reaching out to someone who grieves?

Oh my. This is always dangerous territory emotionally, because we want so hard to say the right thing. But sometimes the “right thing” can be perceived differently than it’s intended. Sometimes you don’t have to say anything at all. Just being there is important. So is listening when the person grieving is sharing their pain.

I would try to avoid pat answers like, “It was God’s will.” Or, “You’ll feel better in time.” Remember, as Christians, we all know “he or she is in a better place,” and that “God will help our pain to ease over time”. But saying these things to someone in the midst of grief, no matter where they are in their spiritual journey, can hurt. Deeply. I think one of the most hurtful things someone said to me was, “If you’d prayed a little harder, God would have kept this from happening.” I know now that it was said out of good intentions. But at the time, it hurt deeply and later made me angry at the person who said it.

Such good advice. I know that when I was going through the grieving process, my biggest help came from a friend who simply said nothing. She was just there for me.

And now, inquiring minds want to know if you have any other projects in the works, and if so, what are they?

My next book is set in 1896 in the Cascade Mountains. My heroine is a journalist and my hero is a scientist who is searching for the legendary Sasquatch. He doesn’t want a reporter along on his expedition, and she doesn’t intend to be left behind. The title is Sweet Mountain Music and it will be released in May. I’m writing as Suzie Johnson since it’s historical.

My current work-in-progress is a contemporary romance featuring a single father and a nanny.

Oh, shades of Sophie’s Choice. I’m always drawn to those type of stories. I can’t wait, Susan. Thank you for visiting with us this week and sharing about one of my favorite novels.

TrueNorth_h11444_680About True North:

Several months after a tragic accident that claimed their son, Lisa and Joe Kendall’s marriage has fallen apart. Lisa prays every day for Joe to come back home so they can grieve their loss together. Feeling guilt over the death of their son, Joe has decided that the best thing for Lisa is for him to be out of her life. His marriage isn’t the only thing suffering, and Joe is forced into taking time off so he can find “closure”. Unsure where to spend two weeks, Joe decides to go on the Alaskan cruise they were supposed to take with their son. The last person he expects to see once the ship is well away from Seattle is Lisa, who hopes two weeks alone with Joe will help save their marriage. Little does she know that Joe has decided to file for divorce when they return home.

NoSubstitute_w11149_300About No Substitute:

First loves never last . . . except when they do.

When Amy Welsh returns to Goose Bay as a substitute teacher, she has no intention of seeing Quentin Macmillan, the man who once left her waiting in the rain clutching her suitcase and dreaming of becoming his wife.

Seventeen years later, his teenage daughter shows up in Amy’s class with plans to reunite her widowed father with the woman he has always loved. When the assignment is forgiveness and healing, will this young teacher pass the test?