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The Bully Inside by Anna Marie Kittrell

Anna Marie KittrellThe jolt brought me back to what was left of my senses. What was I doing? No way I would become a puddle on the sidewalk. One thing life taught me was never be led by emotions. Emotions were bullies. They frighten, betray, and ultimately destroy. I’d never backed down from a bully in my life. I wasn’t about to start now. —Bianca Ravenwood, Lineage

Bianca, the strong, cynical, sixteen-year-old main character of my Redbend High series doesn’t show emotion. A survivor of severe childhood trauma, she would sooner face Goliath himself than express what she’s feeling inside.

Over the course of two years, Bianca slowly learns to trust the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and accept encouragement from her two best friends. In amazement, she watches as God renovates her entire life, starting with her alcoholic father, who trades his usual stool at the local bar for the church piano bench.

But things are about to change. When an endearing stranger walks into Bianca’s life, she’s suddenly aware of the one thing she’s missing. A real connection. Someone with common interests, a shared sense of humor, and an independent spirit so like her own. A person who truly understands her. A soul mate. She soon learns she and this stranger share not only have the exact same hair color, but also the same passion for old movies and Broadway theater, and are prone to say the exact same words at the exact same time. It’s as if they’re connected at the brain. Just the way Satan likes it.

Deep down, everyone craves relationship. The emotional need for acceptance can make us overly concerned with what other people think. And if we’re not careful, soon we’re not only tiptoeing over every word we say, we’re compromising what we believe in an effort to belong. We feel backed into a corner, afraid to stand up for ourselves because we might be looked down upon, laughed at or—worst of all—excluded. We fear rejection like a small, pale, fourth-grade boy fears the school bully. But it’s our own insecurity that turns us upside down and shakes our senses loose.

Insecurity is a hard thing for Bianca to own up to. In order to keep up her tough persona, she’s always been more intimidator than intimidatee. In the following Lineage excerpt, she doesn’t even recognize intimidation when she’s faced with it:

I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what I was feeling. The new sensation was confusing. Not quite anger, not quite embarrassment. Somehow a mixture of both, with a dose of fear thrown in. I lifted my eyes to Chase’s hard glare, and it came to me.

Intimidation.

So this was what it felt like to be on the receiving end. I didn’t like it one bit.

Satan uses the need to belong as a cruel intimidation tactic— to twist us into the position of man pleaser instead of God pleaser. In Bianca’s case, the stranger used Bianca’s desire to belong as a tool to gain her trust, soften her up, and get what he really wanted. Even a person as streetwise and shrewd as Bianca can be blinded by the longing for connection.

Fortunately for Bianca, she has a discerning father and concerned friends who love her too much to lose her. Their words of wisdom and godly counsel continuously ring through her heart and mind—even when she doesn’t want them to. It is only when Bianca stops leaning to her own understanding and acknowledges God’s will that she can face—and defeat—her long-hidden fear of rejection.

Intimidation is just a big, stupid giant waiting for a rock to hit it in the forehead. I plan to keep these well-expressed words of Bianca Ravenwood in mind. No earthly relationship is worth jeopardizing the lineage we have in Christ Jesus.

ebook_lineage copy (427x640)About Lineage:

Following the death of her mother, Bianca and her dad are on their own. But when a redheaded stranger at the funeral claims to be her biological father, Bianca’s reality crumbles. She soon finds herself trapped between the alcoholism of one father and the wicked schemes of another–no way to escape.

EbookCover_Witcha'beAbout Witcha’be

Is the power of forgiveness really stronger than a Witcha’be spell?

New to the small community of Redbend, Molly Sanders is delighted when she and Lenni Flemming become instant friends during the final weeks of her first Oklahoma summer. However, Bianca Ravenwood, Lenni’s best friend and self-proclaimed witch in training, is less than thrilled. In fact, she’s cursing mad, vowing to destroy Molly while honing her craft in the halls of Redbend High School.

Molly’s new school becomes a waking nightmare as Bianca, beautiful wannabe witch, targets her in a jealous rage. Plagued by terrifying, inexplicable occurrences and an embarrassing case of panic-induced hiccups, Molly is unable to escape Bianca’s snare.

DIZZY ECOVER (427x640) (387x580)More About Dizzy Blonde:

All of her life, Lenni has been the perfect child, but still her parents are divorcing. Invisible and angry, Lenni trades her innocent princess image for the rebellious likeness of her favorite rock icon, Dizzy. In an effort to shed the old Lenni, she turns her back on those who love her most, trading true friendship for a dangerous affiliation with a shady upperclassman. When deception and rumors threaten to ruin Lenni’s life, she learns the value of good friends and the importance of an honorable reputation. But can this realization save her from the clutches of danger? Or was the lesson learned too late?

About the Author:

Anna works as a middle school secretary in her beloved hometown of Anadarko, Oklahoma, where she resides with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband of twenty-four years, and their seventeen-year-old daughter. With a son, daughter-in-law, and precious grandbaby nearby, life is her favorite story.

Anna has written for as long as she can remember. She still has most of her tattered creations—leftover stories she was unable to sell on the playground for a dime—written in childish handwriting on notebook paper, bound with too many staples. Her love of storytelling has grown throughout the years, and she is thrilled her tales are now worth more than ten cents.

Connect with Anna at her website, on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and at Prism Book Group.

Author Interview: Anna Marie Kittrell

Anna Marie KittrellToday’s guest is Anna Marie Kittrell.  Anna works as a middle school secretary in her beloved hometown of Anadarko, Oklahoma, where she resides with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband of twenty-four years, and their seventeen-year-old daughter. With a son, daughter-in-law, and precious grandbaby nearby, life is her favorite story.

Anna has written for as long as she can remember. She still has most of her tattered creations—leftover stories she was unable to sell on the playground for a dime—written in childish handwriting on notebook paper, bound with too many staples. Her love of storytelling has grown throughout the years, and she is thrilled her tales are now worth more than ten cents.

Connect with Anna at her website, on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and at Prism Book Group.

Anna, welcome back to Inner Source. We are now at book three in the Redbend High series. I’ve followed Molly, Lenni, and Bianca through some rather exciting adventures, and I’ve truly enjoyed the novels. Why don’t you start by telling us a little about yourself?

Hi, Fay. Thank you so much for having me back. I love it here!

Like Molly, Lenni, and Bianca, I also live in a small Oklahoma town. Redbend is loosely based on my hometown of Anadarko, where my husband of twenty-five years and I attended school, started dating, married, and established our home. Our son graduated from Anadarko High School in 2010, and he and his wife live close to where I work. Nine months ago, they gave us a beautiful little grandson who straightaway captured our hearts—and I get to see him almost every day! Our daughter will graduate from Anadarko High School in May.

I have worked as secretary for Anadarko Middle School for going on fourteen years, and the time has absolutely flown by. With over four hundred pre-teens and teenagers forever needing Band-Aids, icepacks, and telephone usage, there is never a dull moment. Drama is prevalent, to say the least. When I’m not working, I’m writing—or, more honestly, trying to find the time to write. Although I love my job, my dream is to one day write full time.

So, I happen to know the inside scoop. Bianca is played by none other than your own daughter—at least on the cover. Would she mind if you tell us how that came about?

Yes, my daughter is the cover model for Lineage—making her a bit of a small-town celebrity. Miz (her nickname) and Bianca share many similarities, both in physical appearance and personality. They each have a style that sets them apart from the crowd, though neither of them have a clothing allowance to speak of. Miz loves costumes and wigs, and saves up money from birthdays, Christmas, and her part-time job in the school cafeteria to buy them. She wears her manifestations to school regularly, without a second thought to what her classmates might think. (Before the first day of school her freshman year, she shaved a widow’s peak into her hairline!)

I once asked Miz if she would dress like Bianca so that I could post her picture to Facebook, as an advertisement for Witcha’be. She put on her long red wig and corset-style top and snapped a photo. I later showed Prism’s editor-in-chief (and cover artist) Joan Alley, who agreed Miz looked a lot like my description of Bianca. When the time came to design a cover for Lineage, Joan surprised me by asking if Miz would be interested in posing for the cover, and if so, could we e-mail her a few shots. I think I was more excited than Miz! She got into her Bianca costume, set up a tripod in the spare bedroom, took six photos of herself, and I e-mailed them to Joan. Joan narrowed it down to two poses, and Miz and I picked the one that appears on Lineage. I couldn’t be more pleased. I think it’s absolutely gorgeous—and the perfect depiction of Bianca.

I have the book cover as my screen saver in the school office. A teacher I work with made the comment that Lineage was the perfect book for my daughter to appear on—because she is my lineage. I hadn’t even thought of that! Of course, I dedicated the book to my daughter, Miz.

The one thing that I have to admit to when reading the story is that times have changed since I’ve been a teenager, but certain things remain the same. Girls still giggle. They still flirt and have fun. You were very careful to detail some of the girls’ clothing in the story, and I was surprised that certain styles have returned. I can remember my mother forbidding me to wear some of the clothes that Bianca wore. In your experience as a school employee, what would you say to someone like my mother when it comes to what kids might wear?

Well, my daughter and her outlandish style pretty much changed my opinion on “appropriate” attire. I don’t allow her to wear clothing I feel is provocative or too short in length, but I do let her express herself through her outfits, hairstyles, and makeup—on the condition that she keeps her grades up (she’s a straight A student) and treats other people with respect. She isn’t allowed to have body piercings, except in her earlobes (although, she does have a fake lip ring), and is not permitted to get tattoos. I’m confident she will cross both of these boundaries once she’s out of our house and on her own. I don’t think she’ll ever move too far away, though, because her dad is her colorist—under those wigs her short hair is bright blue on one side, pink on the other.

The middle school where I work has a very strict dress code your mother would definitely approve of. The school administrators do not allow students’ hair to be dyed unnatural colors, piercings anywhere except the earlobes, or the wearing of tank tops or sagging pants. Shorts are measured with index cards to check for the appropriate five inch inseam length, and skirts cannot be more than three inches above the knee. Leggings must be worn with long tunics. No bellybuttons or cleavage can be visible. Students who violate the dress code must call home for appropriate clothing or, in some cases, visit the counselor’s office for a big, roomy t-shirt. Needless to say, Bianca would never make it at Anadarko Middle School. And my daughter could not wait to get out of my building and into the high school, where the dress code is much more relaxed.

Working at the school has made me realize there are many, many more disturbing behaviors to worry about than unconventional wardrobe choices. I suppose I would share with your mother that bizarre clothing and hairstyles used to make me wonder where in the world the parents were when the child left the house. But then I went and had one of those children. Now I enjoy watching my daughter walk downstairs in the mornings. It’s fun to see who she’s decided to be each day.

I love your answer. It is perfect. I have learned that what’s on the inside (heart, soul, and mind) is so much more important than the outside—and I have one of those wonderful kids, too. He’s older, but he definitely doesn’t think like his mother.

Your experience as a school secretary shows in these novels. You take me back to a time when I used to act and cut up in the same way with my friends. And music—I was very particular about my favorite bands and musicians. I have to laugh at the girls’ obsession with their favorite singer. Besides your background in the public school system, did you pull on anything from your teen years to create these teenagers?

I love the sense of humor of our middle school kids. I truly believe if you work around kids long enough, you start to behave like them, at least a little bit. My coworkers and I are living proof of that, and it makes going to work each day a total blast.

People often say things to me like, “I bet you find a lot of book-writing material at the school.” But I really don’t gather as many story ideas at school as one might think. While all of my years spent in the school office have made it easy for me to remain in a “young” state of mind, the emotions and experiences I draw on when writing are almost always from my own adolescence.

Pretty much everything is a huge deal to teenagers—which, from the standpoint of a YA author, is terrific! When writing young adult stories, I don’t have to dial down the emotion as I do for my adult novels. Teens are dramatic—oftentimes melodramatic—by nature, which makes them very fun to write. I remember the euphoria and agony of those adolescent years well—sometimes too well. I recall everything as if it happened yesterday, which is both a blessing and a curse. When I look in the mirror, I find the jarring reality that my teen years are forever behind me. Writing about young people lets me recapture a part of my youth that is gone. Long, long, gone.

I have always felt that the best YA novels transcend the age group. They bring back memories for the older reader, and they let us know that not much has really changed. You do that well, and I want to know what’s up next for you? Any other books in the Redbend series, or are you delving into something new?

Storm Season, the final book in the Redbend series, is scheduled for release in the spring. Although I’m very excited about this story, letting my Redbend girls graduate from high school and go out into the world on their own is very bittersweet. I’m going to miss them.

I’ll share the blurb with you:

Sometimes the shelter is more dangerous than the storm.

A courageous stranger risks his life to save Molly, Lenni, and Bianca from a deadly tornado, leaving the girls thunderstruck. As his injuries heal, the hero claims the girls’ hearts while reclaiming his strength. Is their friendship strong enough to withstand the brutal winds of jealousy, heartache, and betrayal? Or will graduation from Redbend High really mean good-bye forever?

Anna, that sounds like a wonderful story, and of course, I need to have you back so I can interview all the girls together. Maybe a little therapy session for their emotions. *Smiling*

Thank you, Fay, for once again asking me to visit Inner Source. As always, the experience is my extreme pleasure.

ebook_lineage copy (427x640)About Lineage:

Following the death of her mother, Bianca and her dad are on their own. But when a redheaded stranger at the funeral claims to be her biological father, Bianca’s reality crumbles. She soon finds herself trapped between the alcoholism of one father and the wicked schemes of another–no way to escape.

EbookCover_Witcha'beAbout Witcha’be

Is the power of forgiveness really stronger than a Witcha’be spell?

New to the small community of Redbend, Molly Sanders is delighted when she and Lenni Flemming become instant friends during the final weeks of her first Oklahoma summer. However, Bianca Ravenwood, Lenni’s best friend and self-proclaimed witch in training, is less than thrilled. In fact, she’s cursing mad, vowing to destroy Molly while honing her craft in the halls of Redbend High School.

Molly’s new school becomes a waking nightmare as Bianca, beautiful wannabe witch, targets her in a jealous rage. Plagued by terrifying, inexplicable occurrences and an embarrassing case of panic-induced hiccups, Molly is unable to escape Bianca’s snare.

DIZZY ECOVER (427x640) (387x580)More About Dizzy Blonde:

All of her life, Lenni has been the perfect child, but still her parents are divorcing. Invisible and angry, Lenni trades her innocent princess image for the rebellious likeness of her favorite rock icon, Dizzy. In an effort to shed the old Lenni, she turns her back on those who love her most, trading true friendship for a dangerous affiliation with a shady upperclassman. When deception and rumors threaten to ruin Lenni’s life, she learns the value of good friends and the importance of an honorable reputation. But can this realization save her from the clutches of danger? Or was the lesson learned too late?

Character Interview: Bianca Ravenwood

ebook_lineage copy (427x640)Today’s special guest is Bianca Ravenwood, the heroine of Lineage, the third novel in the Redbend High series by talented author, Anna Marie Kittrell.

Bianca, it is so nice to meet you. I’ve met your friends, Molly and Lenni. Would you mind telling Inner Source readers a little bit about yourself: where you go to school, where you live, what your aspirations are for the future?

Hi. After meeting Lenni, I’m surprised you don’t know everything about me, including what I had for breakfast! She tends to get excited and talk too much. Molly’s a little more stable—I mean calm. They are both phenomenal friends, and I wouldn’t trade either of them for the world.

I am a senior at a small-town Oklahoma school called Redbend High. I’ve lived in Redbend my entire life. My dad and I have a house in an area the locals refer to as Old Town—the not so nice part of Redbend. Our place is pretty run down, but my dad has recently started doing repairs, beginning with our rickety old porch. It looks so much better now, but it was really sad when he tore down the wheelchair ramp he’d built for my mom ten years ago. He’d hoped she’d return home someday. She never did.

As far as aspirations go, I love the theater, and just recently found out it’s in my blood—literally. My biological father studied theater in college and was quite renown in his role as Papa Brasswell in the musical, Amie. But that’s another story…Anyway, I plan to enroll in a dramatic arts college following graduation, I’m just not sure exactly where. I attended Wild Rose Mountain’s summer arts camp a few weeks ago, and it was incredible. Without a doubt, I know acting is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

Your story brings in quite a surprise for you. I’m not going to spoil it for the reader, but I’d really like to know where you gained your strength to deal with these two back-to-back changes in your life?

God. And the support of my father and two best friends. But since God is the one who put those incredible people in my life in the first place, I’ll give Him all the credit. My strength comes from God. Period.

You have quite a sarcastic wit. You remind me of a character who appears in three of my books, and like you, she’s going to get a book of her own. Tell me how you came by your sense of humor.

Me, sarcastic? What gave you that idea? My cynicism—at least that’s what the teachers call it—started out as a coping mechanism. When I was six, I made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my two-year-old brother, Sam, unaware he was allergic to peanuts. The sandwich killed him. My mother was so distraught over Sam’s death she tried to commit suicide by overdosing on pain meds, but failed. Instead, she ended up in Sugar Creek Manor asylum with severe brain damage. My father used alcohol to ease his pain over the situation, leaving me to survive the tragedy on my own. I had no choice but to be tough. Sarcasm, cynicism, and humor were my mask, my sword, and my shield. I wanted to protect my vulnerability. Having a sharp tongue kept others from getting too close. Except for Lenni. She’s always been stuck right to my side. I couldn’t peel her off if I tried—and believe me, I’ve tried.

Part of your story involves a betrayal by someone who should have loved and protected you. If you got the chance to talk to him today, what would you say to him?

Oddly enough, I’d thank him. Without him, I would have never met my sister, Cassie. I would have also missed the opportunity to witness my dad’s unbelievable strength. The ordeal taught me that family has nothing to do with blood relation, and that things are not always as they seem. I’d heard that old saying all my life, and even experienced it first hand in my witcha’be days, but never fully realized how true it could be. Oh, and I’d tell him that, fortunately for him, God loves and forgives jerks all the time. And I’d remind him how lucky he is that I no longer hold grudges.

I’m smiling. I love the way you “cope” with things. You’ve mentioned the tragedies in your young life, and your readers, and even readers of this blog, know that you lived in a fantasy world because you couldn’t live with the self-blame. Bianca, what would you tell another teen if you knew they held some guilt in their heart over events that were truly beyond their knowledge to control?

I would tell her never to be intimidated by anyone—including herself. God forgives all, but to be truly free, I believe we must forgive ourselves, too. If we don’t honestly forgive ourselves, Satan uses our feelings of guilt to intimidate and torment us. That goes for sins we knowingly committed, as well as events we had no control over. Trust me, it is so much easier to forgive yourself and ask God to forgive you than it is to run and hide from yourself and God. Satan would have you believe otherwise, but he’s a liar (John 8: 44). Liars gonna lie and haters gonna hate. So what? That doesn’t change God’s power. Or his ability to forgive.

Let it all go.

Excellent advice. I’m doubly glad I met you today, Bianca, and I look forward to talking with your author, Anna Marie Kittrell, again on Wednesday.

More about Lineage:

Following the death of her mother, Bianca and her dad are on their own. But when a redheaded stranger at the funeral claims to be her biological father, Bianca’s reality crumbles. She soon finds herself trapped between the alcoholism of one father and the wicked schemes of another–no way to escape.

EbookCover_Witcha'beAbout Witcha’be

Is the power of forgiveness really stronger than a Witcha’be spell?

New to the small community of Redbend, Molly Sanders is delighted when she and Lenni Flemming become instant friends during the final weeks of her first Oklahoma summer. However, Bianca Ravenwood, Lenni’s best friend and self-proclaimed witch in training, is less than thrilled. In fact, she’s cursing mad, vowing to destroy Molly while honing her craft in the halls of Redbend High School.

Molly’s new school becomes a waking nightmare as Bianca, beautiful wannabe witch, targets her in a jealous rage. Plagued by terrifying, inexplicable occurrences and an embarrassing case of panic-induced hiccups, Molly is unable to escape Bianca’s snare.

DIZZY ECOVER (427x640) (387x580)More About Dizzy Blonde:

All of her life, Lenni has been the perfect child, but still her parents are divorcing. Invisible and angry, Lenni trades her innocent princess image for the rebellious likeness of her favorite rock icon, Dizzy. In an effort to shed the old Lenni, she turns her back on those who love her most, trading true friendship for a dangerous affiliation with a shady upperclassman. When deception and rumors threaten to ruin Lenni’s life, she learns the value of good friends and the importance of an honorable reputation. But can this realization save her from the clutches of danger? Or was the lesson learned too late?

Anna Marie KittrellAbout the Author:

Anna works as a middle school secretary in her beloved hometown of Anadarko, Oklahoma, where she resides with her high school sweetheart-turned-husband of twenty-four years, and their seventeen-year-old daughter. With a son, daughter-in-law, and precious grandbaby nearby, life is her favorite story.

Anna has written for as long as she can remember. She still has most of her tattered creations—leftover stories she was unable to sell on the playground for a dime—written in childish handwriting on notebook paper, bound with too many staples. Her love of storytelling has grown throughout the years, and she is thrilled her tales are now worth more than ten cents.

Connect with Anna at her website, on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and at Prism Book Group.

Threads of a Tapestry by Susan Anne Mason

Susan Anne Mason (427x640)Thank you, Fay, for having me here to talk about my debut romance Betrayed Hearts, which released through White Rose Publishing this past August.

I have always loved themes of forgiveness, self-sacrifice and worthiness. Originally I called this book Threads of a Tapestry, mainly because of an interview I heard on the radio with actress Ellen Burstyn, who had experienced quite a lot of emotional upheaval in her life. The interviewer asked Ellen if she could erase all the bad moments and all the bad relationships from her past, would she do it? Ellen gave such an amazing answer that it stuck with me. She said (paraphrasing here) that no, she wouldn’t erase the bad things in her life, because the good and the bad moments were like the threads of a tapestry that were intricately woven together to shape her into the woman she was today.

That idea stayed with me, and when I created the character of Lily, I knew she would be someone who had also suffered many bad moments in her life and who had become jaded because of them. I wanted her to come to know God’s great love by way of a wonderful hero, who saw past the barriers she had built to protect herself and who discovered the wounded but loving person inside. A man who appreciated her outer beauty, but who more importantly valued her inner beauty above all. Lily had only known men who used and abused her, and I wanted her to experience the unconditional love of a good man who connected with her soul. A man who demonstrated God’s unconditional love for his children. And through Nick’s unselfish example, Lily would at last come to believe that she was truly worthy and return to God’s loving embrace.

Both Lily and Nick experience moments of self-sacrifice in the book. Lily struggles with putting her own desires ahead of her sister’s best interests. Nick struggles with wanting his career as a minister, but wanting Lily as well. When it seems like the two are mutually exclusive, he is forced to make the toughest decision of his life.

I hope Lily’s story will demonstrate that no matter how many mistakes a person makes, or how far away from their faith they have fallen, it is never too late to ask for forgiveness and receive God’s great mercy.

I hope you will all find a little piece of Lily within yourselves and come to know the type of unconditional love she has found, both in Nick and in God. And if you like the quirky characters in Rainbow Falls, you can travel back there again for Lily’s friend, Maxi’s story! Wayward Hearts releases in early December. Thanks for sharing this time with me!

Blessings,

Susan

BetrayedHearts_medium (1)More About Betrayed Hearts

Lily Draper comes to Rainbow Falls in search of her biological sister, the only blood relative she has left. Emotionally scarred by her preacher father, Lily avoids religion at all cost. Her new landlord, an aspiring minister, soon has her questioning her views. Can she learn to trust Nick’s heart or will her sordid past destroy their love?

Nick Logan hopes to take over for the retiring minister who has groomed Nick for the job. But Reverend Ted seems to feel the position requires Nick to marry an upstanding woman, namely Ted’s niece. When Nick finds himself falling in love with Lily Draper, the woman least likely to become a minister’s wife, his problems escalate. And when Reverend Ted gives him an ultimatum, Nick faces an impossible choice.

Can he accept God’s will and still find a place for Lily in his life?

WaywardHearts_medSusan’s next book in the Rainbow Falls series, Wayward Hearts, will be released in December 2014.

Hairstylist Maxi North is living her dream in Manhattan, poised to become junior partner in one of the city’s classiest salons. Her father’s death puts her plans on hold while she travels home to face her past. There, she is forced to confront unrequited feelings for her former best friend, Jason Hanley, as well as her deeply buried guilt over her younger brother’s death.

Fireman-in-training, Jason Hanley knows how badly Rainbow Falls needs its own fire station. As a new Christian, he pledges to serve the people of his community and to help open a new fire station as soon as possible. When his friend, Maxi, and her mother almost perish in a fire, Jason becomes involved in helping them re-build their farmhouse. Soon he finds himself wondering if he and Maxi can ever put aside their differences to find a future together.

Author Interview: Susan Anne Mason

Susan Anne Mason (427x640)Today’s guest is Susan Anne Mason, the author of Betrayed Hearts. Susan lives in a suburb near Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where she works part-time as a church secretary. She is a wife and the mother of two amazing kids, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA).  In addition to writing, she likes to scrapbook and to research her family history on-line. You can connect with her on Facebook or on her website www.susanannemason.com.

Susan it’s a pleasure to have you here. My first question is one I’ve been curious about since I read your story. Is Rainbow Falls, North Dakota, a real town? If so, would you tell us a little about why it caught your attention enough to feature it in your novels? If it isn’t a real town, would you mind sharing with the readers what inspired you to create such a lovely place?

Rainbow Falls, ND is a fictional town I created. Back in my early days of writing, I learned that most publishers didn’t like Canadian settings and preferred stories set in the States. I chose a more northern state to set my book, so that it would be fairly similar to Ontario where I live. I’m not sure how I came up with Rainbow Falls though. Must have been divinely inspired!

Your hero and heroine had a somewhat similar upbringing but one clung to God and the other never drew close. In your life have you known people who reacted in either or both ways to God, possibly blaming him for what others have done?

I can’t say that I personally know someone who turned from God. Interestingly enough, I based Lily’s upbringing on my great grandmother’s story. She and her siblings were orphaned in England and sent to a workhouse. My great grandmother was adopted by a man who was a tailor and she was forced to work for him. His wife, who was a nice woman, died shortly after, leaving my great grandmother with a very harsh father. That’s how I came up with the character of Tobias (although I changed him from a tailor to a preacher!) My great grandmother turned out to be a very devout woman herself.

What advice would you have for someone who was hurt or mistreated by someone who should have loved them?

I would say to try and see things from their perspective. Often times people only repeat behavior they were shown as children. Forgiveness goes a long way to healing a hurt. And turning to God, asking Him to change the way we see them, is a great step toward that. We can’t change someone else. We can only change our attitude toward them.

I asked Lily in her interview what she first thought of the people who befriended her when she arrived in Rainbow Falls. The characters still live on with me, and that’s what makes the story so memorable to me. Are Maxi and Peg modeled from someone you might know or from a couple of people or are they purely imagination?

Peg is pure imagination, but Maxi is based on a young woman that worked at a beauty shop in our town. Every time my daughter and I went into the shop, ‘Maxi’ had a different color hair and a new ‘do.’ She chattered a mile a minute and made my daughter feel very special. ‘Maxi’ was such a character that she stuck in my mind, and I had to use her in my story. Little did I know that she would become so endearing I would feel compelled to tell her story next!

I don’t have to ask if you have future projects in the works. Tell our readers a little about your second book in the series, Wayward Hearts. When will it be released, and will you come back and talk to us again when it does?

Wayward Hearts is Maxi and Jason’s story. Maxi is living her dream, working in a top Manhattan salon with a chance at becoming a junior partner. Her father’s unexpected death forces her to return to Rainbow Falls where she must confront her difficult family ties—as well as her unrequited feelings for Jason Hanley.

Wayward Hearts comes out in early December 2014 through White Rose Publishing/Pelican Book Group. I would be delighted to come back again and discuss Maxi’s and Jason’s journey! Thank you for having me, Fay! It’s been a real pleasure!

I look forward to discussing Wayward Hearts with you!

BetrayedHearts_medium (1)More About Betrayed Hearts

Lily Draper comes to Rainbow Falls in search of her biological sister, the only blood relative she has left. Emotionally scarred by her preacher father, Lily avoids religion at all cost. Her new landlord, an aspiring minister, soon has her questioning her views. Can she learn to trust Nick’s heart or will her sordid past destroy their love?

Nick Logan hopes to take over for the retiring minister who has groomed Nick for the job. But Reverend Ted seems to feel the position requires Nick to marry an upstanding woman, namely Ted’s niece. When Nick finds himself falling in love with Lily Draper, the woman least likely to become a minister’s wife, his problems escalate. And when Reverend Ted gives him an ultimatum, Nick faces an impossible choice.

Can he accept God’s will and still find a place for Lily in his life?

WaywardHearts_medSusan’s next book in the Rainbow Falls series, Wayward Hearts, will be released in December 2014.

Hairstylist Maxi North is living her dream in Manhattan, poised to become junior partner in one of the city’s classiest salons. Her father’s death puts her plans on hold while she travels home to face her past. There, she is forced to confront unrequited feelings for her former best friend, Jason Hanley, as well as her deeply buried guilt over her younger brother’s death.

Fireman-in-training, Jason Hanley knows how badly Rainbow Falls needs its own fire station. As a new Christian, he pledges to serve the people of his community and to help open a new fire station as soon as possible. When his friend, Maxi, and her mother almost perish in a fire, Jason becomes involved in helping them re-build their farmhouse. Soon he finds himself wondering if he and Maxi can ever put aside their differences to find a future together.

Character Interview: Lily Draper from Betrayed Hearts by Susan Anne Mason

BetrayedHearts_medium (1)Today, we welcome Lily Draper, the heroine from Susan Anne Mason’s Betrayed Hearts, part of the Rainbow Falls series. Lily, thank you for being with us here today. Let’s start off by having you tell us a little about yourself? Where are you from? Where do you currently live? What do you do?

I’m from North Dakota, born in the small town of Rainbow Falls. But for the past two years I’ve been living in Bismarck, working as a waitress at Hank’s Tavern. My father and I don’t get along at all. I’ve been making my own way since I left home at age 18.

Your upbringing wasn’t easy, especially after you lost your mother. Could you share with us how your childhood caused you to look upon God?

My adoptive father is a preacher—the real Bible-thumping type. When my mother died, he became extremely harsh and punitive toward me. His unloving attitude seemed hypocritical, going against the very ethics he preached on Sundays. Unfortunately, because of this, he turned me off of anything to do with religion.

When you arrived in Rainbow Falls, it was clear that you had a lot of changes to get used to. I believe the types of people who befriended you were a lot different than they were in Bismarck. What did you think of them when you first arrived?

I was skeptical and aloof at first. I didn’t think anyone could really be that nice or care about a complete stranger. Nick, Maxi, and Peg slowly convinced me that there are truly kind people out there who live the type of Christian example that Jesus taught.

Nick Logan was one of the first two folks you met in Rainbow Falls. In light of your upbringing and what you learned about Nick’s plans for the future, how did you truly feel about him when you first met him?

When I met Nick, he seemed too good to be true. All the men I’d known in my life, with the exception of my former boss, only wanted to use me or control me. Nick’s kindness and unselfish nature was definitely something new for me—something I had a hard time accepting. The fact that Nick was studying to become a minister only made matters worse. The experience with my own hypocritical father made me very leery of anything to do with religion. Thank goodness Nick persevered and allowed me to see that his noble qualities were all for real.

Let’s go back to the reason that brought you to town. Something horrendous happened in your life that had something like a domino effect on your life. Looking back now, can you see how God was in every detail of your life as He promises in Romans 8:28?

I certainly can. First of all, He saved me from the tragedy that took most of my family when I was a child. For five years after that, I had an amazing mom, and though I was angry when she died, leaving me with an adoptive father who clearly resented me, I learned to be self-sufficient and to survive on my own. Then, at the lowest point in my life, God allowed me to discover the evidence that I had a younger sister. By coming back to Rainbow Falls to look for Chloe, I met Nick, the most wonderful man I’ve ever known. A man who demonstrates God’s great love for us all. God never gave up on me, no matter how many times I gave up on Him, and His persistence brought me back to Him.

BetrayedHearts_medium (1)More About Betrayed Hearts

Lily Draper comes to Rainbow Falls in search of her biological sister, the only blood relative she has left. Emotionally scarred by her preacher father, Lily avoids religion at all cost. Her new landlord, an aspiring minister, soon has her questioning her views. Can she learn to trust Nick’s heart or will her sordid past destroy their love?

Nick Logan hopes to take over for the retiring minister who has groomed Nick for the job. But Reverend Ted seems to feel the position requires Nick to marry an upstanding woman, namely Ted’s niece. When Nick finds himself falling in love with Lily Draper, the woman least likely to become a minister’s wife, his problems escalate. And when Reverend Ted gives him an ultimatum, Nick faces an impossible choice.

Can he accept God’s will and still find a place for Lily in his life?

WaywardHearts_medSusan’s next book in the Rainbow Falls series, Wayward Hearts, will be released in December 2014.

Hairstylist Maxi North is living her dream in Manhattan, poised to become junior partner in one of the city’s classiest salons. Her father’s death puts her plans on hold while she travels home to face her past. There, she is forced to confront unrequited feelings for her former best friend, Jason Hanley, as well as her deeply buried guilt over her younger brother’s death.

Fireman-in-training, Jason Hanley knows how badly Rainbow Falls needs its own fire station. As a new Christian, he pledges to serve the people of his community and to help open a new fire station as soon as possible. When his friend, Maxi, and her mother almost perish in a fire, Jason becomes involved in helping them re-build their farmhouse. Soon he finds himself wondering if he and Maxi can ever put aside their differences to find a future together.

Susan Anne Mason (427x640)About the Author:

Susan Anne Mason lives in a suburb near Toronto, Ontario, Canada, where she works part-time as a church secretary. She is a wife and the mother of two amazing kids, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA).  In addition to writing, she likes to scrapbook and to research her family history on-line. You can connect with her on Facebook or on her website www.susanannemason.com.

 

This Too Shall Pass by Anne Baxter Campbell

Anne Baxter Campbell 2For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

Until recently, I thought the title of this blog (This Too Shall Pass) was a quote from the Bible. I searched by way of a couple of programs I have through multiple translations and versions of the Bible. Giving up, I googled it. Turns out it’s not from the scriptures, it’s probably from some other ancient philosopher. However, quote from the Bible or not, it’s still a deep truth. Pain that has a grip on you will eventually pass, whether it is physical or mental or both.

The first deep mental pain I experienced happened when I was twenty-four. My grandmother died. I couldn’t stop crying, and it made no sense that the people we passed between the church and the graveyard weren’t affected. People still mowed their lawns, pulled weeds, and hammered nails into boards. Children played tag, rode bikes, or stared at the funeral procession. Inside the limousine, my family and I traveled in somber silence. How could the world go on as normal when my world had fallen to pieces?

Later at the gathering in my parents’ home, a few smiles crept out between the tears. Within a few days we all went back to our jobs and normal lives. The pain subsided, and now I remember Grandma with occasion sadness; but mostly I remember the warm and wonderful times we spent together. I think about the summers as a youngster when I stayed for a month or two on Grandma and Grandpa’s farm. Smiles wrap around the memories of when she took care of my little girl while I worked. Laughter bubbles up at some remembered funny stories.

During and after my third full-term pregnancy, I went through a time of dejection. I hid it from my family, I think, until the symptoms became more physical than mental. I gained a deep sympathy with those suffering from post-partum depression. Reluctantly, I took antidepressants—hated them—but eventually, the depression passed and the joy returned.

A few years ago I had a knee replaced. Wow, the pain was unbelievable. On a scale of one to ten, definitely a ten plus. Not even birthing a baby or a toothache had hurt that bad. Despite the doctor saying I would walk that evening after the operation could make that simple-sounding event come to pass. I was not the best patient, and recovery was slow and HURT. But after a few weeks, I could walk with ease again. Now there’s no pain at all. Amazing.

Some physical pain will not end until we go on to join the Lord—and I understand that is a different situation—but it will pass too, and what a glorious passing that will be!

Long story shortened considerably—don’t give up hope. Hang in there. When you reach the end of your rope, grab God’s hand. In fact, grab it way before then. When you get through this painful time, when this too passes, you will emerge stronger than you were before. That’s the way the Man designed us.

About the Author:

Anne Baxter Campbell is an author with a yearning to walk people one step closer to God. She says she remembers reading books or watching movies like The Silver Challis, Beloved Physician, The Robe, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and The Ten Commandments, even before becoming a Christian. Something about the books and movies drew her to God. If it hadn’t been for those books, she might never have said “Yes” when offered that eternal grace, and she wouldn’t have written The Truth Trilogy, a series she hopes will draw you a little closer to the Lord who so overwhelmingly loves you. You can catch up with Anne at her website and her blog, on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+

CampbellTruth-6x9FlatCoverVer03About The Truth Doesn’t Die

Joanna is the widow of Loukas, her beloved who died fighting pirates on the Great Sea. Decimus is the Roman senator who rescued her and her adopted daughter from slave runners, and he’s also the man who has fallen in love with the graceful and resilient woman.

Joanne craves solitude in which to mourn. Senator Decimus Varitor returns to Rome with reluctance, bound to the senate for too many more years. However, he can only tolerate being away from her for a time. Decimus returns and searches for her in the wilds of Israel where she hides from the world.

She leaves the camp, not knowing she and her friend Rebecca will never live there again. A search for ten-year-old twins in a driving rainstorm through the wilderness, Rebecca’s illness, and then her adopted daughter’s injury at the paws of a bear force them to Jerusalem.

When Decimus finds her, she is following another man, Jesus. His heart broken, Decimus must return to Rome alone.

About The Roman’s Quest (Book One in The Truth Trilogy)

Centurion Julius has eyes for a young Jewish woman, but a Roman is not what her father intends for her. Miriam is a pious Jewish girl, determined to TrilogyFrontCover_do the right thing by her God and her parents, and she bows to her father’s wishes to betroth her to a Jewish fisherman, James ben Zebedee. Her heart yearns for the Roman, but their love is impossible. Miriam’s mother lies close to death, and her last wish is to see her daughter wed. The marriage has to take place before it’s too late.

About Marcus Varitor, Centurion (Book Two in The Truth Trilogy)

Marcus, son of a Roman senator, is a decanus in the Roman cohort in Jerusalem. The tribune hints at a promotion to centurion if Marcus can bring in a troublesome brigand. He discovers there are really only two things he wants—to be a centurion and to win the love of an Egyptian girl. But when Meskhanet is sent to Rome on a slave ship and Marcus is captured by the very criminal he’s supposed to apprehend, those hopes may both evaporate faster than a small puddle under the hot desert sun.

 

 

Author Interview: Anne Baxter Campbell

Anne Baxter Campbell 2Today’s guest is an author who will be familiar to Inner Source readers, Anne Baxter Campbell. Anne  is an author with a yearning to walk people one step closer to God. She says she remembers reading books or watching movies like The Silver Challis, Beloved Physician, The Robe, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and The Ten Commandments, even before becoming a Christian. Something about the books and movies drew her to God. If it hadn’t been for those books, she might never have said “Yes” when offered that eternal grace, and she wouldn’t have written The Truth Trilogy, a series she hopes will draw you a little closer to the Lord who so overwhelmingly loves you. You can catch up with Anne at her website and her blog, on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+

Welcome, Anne. I’m delighted to have you back again to discuss the third story in The Truth Trilogy. I feel as if I’ve walked a long road with your characters because they have been through a lot. As an author, how hard is it to put your characters in the type of danger you have placed them?

Sometimes I wonder who’s writing the script. Things I absolutely didn’t plot happen. I didn’t lead them into their various dangers—sometimes it was their own stupidity that put them there. I mean, Julius (in The Roman’s Quest) forgot to look both ways before crossing a street. Marcus (In Marcus Varitor, Centurion) knew the canyon he rode into with his troop was the perfect place for an ambush, yet he led his men there anyway. Come on—don’t tell me he couldn’t have checked it out somehow! And Meskhanet (in The Truth Doesn’t Die) gets impatient and goes charging after Marcus when any woman (pregnant, yet!) in her right mind would be staying home. They get into these careless messes and then turn to me and say, “So, how do you think you’re going to get me out of this one?”

That’s not to say that, if I were a plotter instead of a panster, I might still have gotten them into trouble, but I’m thinking it would have just been a bunch of boring words thrown together. The characters have much more lively imaginations than I do.

You surprised me with the roles that you gave your characters. You have used your license as a fiction writer well, putting names and faces to nameless and faceless individuals told about in the Gospels. I’d love to know how you developed such characters as Mahlah and Brutus, knowing they would play a pivotal role in bringing a story that uses the life and death of Jesus as its backdrop.

They introduced themselves to me. I figured that eventually Joanna and Rebecca would run across Mahlah—Sychar wasn’t that big of a town, and there was only the one well. I knew Mahlah had to have been feeling a bit of contrition after Jesus spoke to her, and she was, but she felt trapped in the situation she was in. Few options exist for women in the first century without a man to provide for them, and the man she lived with provided that need. Even if he was an evil man, he was better than nothing.

Brutus—well, Brutus shoved his way into everything, including this trilogy. By all rights and common sense, the man should at least have been booted out of the army and at most been murdered by a compatriot. What induced Marcus to save the wastrel’s life is beyond me—it would have been better to have left him to Barabbas’s mercies. On the other hand, those two were beans from the same pod. Just think if they had joined forces. I shudder to contemplate. Brutus is what every novel needs, someone everyone can safely hate, a villain obviously beyond redemption.

One of my favorite characters is Rebecca, the mother of Barabbas. Again, a fictional character, not mentioned in the Bible, but we all know that Barabbas had a mother. Rebecca is pivotal to the plot of Marcus Varitor, Centurion, and she has a role in The Truth Doesn’t Die as well, but one question I want to know from the author is how do you believe Rebecca felt when they called for the release of her son and she understood that Jesus was taking his place on the actual cross (just as He took every individual’s place)?

Oh, poor, poor Rebecca. She loves her son as only a mother can, but she knows too well what destruction he has already done and what he’s capable of doing. She longs to hold him and love him, but she knows he would not welcome it. In the end, she must shrug her shoulders and leave him in God’s hands—there is nothing she can do to change him. All her mother’s love will not inspire him to love back—not just her, but anyone. His hate must yield or destroy him. Which will happen? God knows. But she knows, as she leaves Jerusalem, she is an old woman. She might never see her son again. Her wounded heart bleeds, and she hopes his eyes will open to see what Jesus did, even for him.

Now that the trilogy has been written, do you find it hard to leave the First Century behind and to stay in the present?

Who says I’m leaving it behind? A story about Luke the Physician is worming its way into my head and heart. Some people are of two minds. I’m of two eras. At least two.

I know that you have a special release of a story entitled Once Upon an All Hallow’s Eve Party, and I’m thrilled to know that one of my novels is being read by a character in that story. I’m going to share more about it below, but inquiring minds what to know what Anne Baxter Campbell has in the works.

Another adventure awaits sixteen-year-old Jillian (the character who loves and reads your books). Another jolt will upset her life just before and during Thanksgiving. And after that Christmas, then New Year’s Day, then Valentine’s Day, and then and finally, Easter. After that, the series of short stories that began last Christmas (with Once Upon A Christmas Eve) will be compiled and offered in one e-book or paperback.

Maybe I’m a frustrated soap-opera writer?

Anne, you know you are precious to me and I’m sure everyone who knows you. Keep those First Century stories coming our way and keep yourself in both worlds for our reading pleasure.

CampbellTruth-6x9FlatCoverVer03More About The Truth Doesn’t Die

Joanna is the widow of Loukas, her beloved who died fighting pirates on the Great Sea. Decimus is the Roman senator who rescued her and her adopted daughter from slave runners, and he’s also the man who has fallen in love with the graceful and resilient woman.

Joanne craves solitude in which to mourn. Senator Decimus Varitor returns to Rome with reluctance, bound to the senate for too many more years. However, he can only tolerate being away from her for a time. Decimus returns and searches for her in the wilds of Israel where she hides from the world.

She leaves the camp, not knowing she and her friend Rebecca will never live there again. A search for ten-year-old twins in a driving rainstorm through the wilderness, Rebecca’s illness, and then her adopted daughter’s injury at the paws of a bear force them to Jerusalem.

When Decimus finds her, she is following another man, Jesus. His heart broken, Decimus must return to Rome alone.

About The Roman’s Quest (Book One in The Truth Trilogy)

Centurion Julius has eyes for a young Jewish woman, but a Roman is not what her father intends for her. Miriam is a pious Jewish girl, determined to TrilogyFrontCover_do the right thing by her God and her parents, and she bows to her father’s wishes to betroth her to a Jewish fisherman, James ben Zebedee. Her heart yearns for the Roman, but their love is impossible. Miriam’s mother lies close to death, and her last wish is to see her daughter wed. The marriage has to take place before it’s too late.

About Marcus Varitor, Centurion (Book Two in The Truth Trilogy)

Marcus, son of a Roman senator, is a decanus in the Roman cohort in Jerusalem. The tribune hints at a promotion to centurion if Marcus can bring in a troublesome brigand. He discovers there are really only two things he wants—to be a centurion and to win the love of an Egyptian girl. But when Meskhanet is sent to Rome on a slave ship and Marcus is captured by the very criminal he’s supposed to apprehend, those hopes may both evaporate faster than a small puddle under the hot desert sun.

Anne blessed me recently by asking if a heroine in one of her books could be reading one of my books. I was more than happy to oblige, and as mentioned above, I’d like to share more about that story, Once Upon an All Hallow’s EveWhy is Jillian having nightmares? And why is she so afraid of Uncle Buster? Abby is afraid she knows why, but Jillian’s dad isn’t listening. Jim can’t believe anything bad about his brother. Buster is older and bigger than Jim, but has always been gentle—if different, totally ignoring rude stares and comments from other kids when they were younger. Or maybe he hadn’t ignored them, just stored up the insults and became what he was. But just what was he became

 

Character Interview: Joanna from The Truth Doesn’t Die by Anne Baxter Campbell

CampbellTruth-6x9FlatCoverVer03I’ve been reading about today’s character guest through three stories in The Truth Trilogy written by Anne Campbell Baxter. Within the three stories, Joanna’s life has taken several turns, and her story The Truth Doesn’t Die sees us through that journey.

Welcome, Joanna. Please tell the readers a little about your life and a little about what turns your life has taken.

Hello, Fay. My life really isn’t so different from many of my acquaintances and friends, although it did take perhaps a few unusual turns. I was the wife of a well-respected Greek proselyte to the Jewish religion, Loukas, living in Jericho—which as you know is not far from Jerusalem. We had had one child, a boy, who was never strong. He died, despite the best my physician husband could do for him.

Where our lives took a disastrous turn is chronicled in the second of the books. We had adopted one of our slaves we were particularly fond of, a Hispanic girl named Quinta. She fell in love with Centurion Julius’s servant, Cyril. Although we could have insisted she marry someone wealthy, we could not break this dear girl’s heart. After her marriage, Julius moved to Caesarea, taking Cyril and Quinta. We could not stand the thought of being so far from her, so we decided to move our household to the same city in order to be near them.

On our way there, we were attacked by Barabbas and his band of brigands. Most of our servants were killed, except for our dear Meskhanet—an Egyptian girl we bought several years ago. Loukas and I were left for dead with injuries that should have killed us—but we had my husband’s medicines. Meskhanet had been taken prisoner, and we despaired for her.

But no—in a few weeks she escaped. She not only escaped but found us and saved us from starvation. Not long later, though, my temper got us captured by slavers from Rome. The slave ship capsized in a storm near an island. A Roman senator rescued us there and took us to Rome to await our friends and my husband to come for us. I knew Senator Decimus developed an attraction to me, but the thought of my beloved Loukas kept me from returning that affection.

Loukas, my beloved, I will never forget you.

You are a proselyte to the Jewish faith, a Greek by birth, and you have met Jesus. In our time, we are fortunate to know the truth about Christ, but I’d like to know what you thought about Him based on the fact that you come from a culture who had many gods and you are now a believer in the One True God.

It’s true; the Greeks have so many gods I’m not sure anyone could count them. They even have an altar to “the unknown god,” in Athens. But the gods are made of wood or metal or rock, and their hearts are the same. One of my Jewish women friends introduced me to their One God. He freed His chosen ones from tyrannical rulers more than once. None of the Greek gods loved their chosen ones like their own children. None filled their subjects with the sense of their presence. None but the One God can do that. I had to follow Him.

Once I met Jesus, I realized this common-looking Man was extraordinary. It wasn’t how He looked—it was the way He looked at us. It wasn’t that He had the gift of oratory, as so many of the Greeks do—it was what He said and what His words accomplished. I could do nothing but lay my heart at His feet.

Your adopted daughter has shared a horrible truth with you about a man who serves under your son-in-law, Marcus Varitor, a Centurion. I don’t want to reveal the secret because the whole of the storyline is very precious and something I want to talk to your author about this week, but why did you and your daughter keep this secret from Marcus?

It was not my secret to tell. Only Meskhanet had that right. It was a truth too hurtful, too shameful for her to face, let alone to talk about.

In the story, you seek solace away from others, much the way Jesus would leave the crowds and pray. I’d like to know what you gained from those times alone.

In solitude, a woman can say what she thinks to herself. She can shout sorrows or joys to the wind without fear of repercussions or humiliation. After my husband died, there were so many stressful events I had no time to honor him or to mourn him. I had no tomb to sit by and pretend to talk to him. What could I do but cry out from my heart, and where could I do that but in solitude, where only God could hear me?

I’m not going to reveal the end of the story, but among other moments in which the plot reveals several moments that give the reader something to reflect upon, I found that your life has come full circle. That God has returned to you (in different form) what you had lost. We have the benefit of the words penned by the Apostle Paul through the Holy Spirit, that says in essence “all things work for good for those who love God and who are called for a purpose.” Have you seen that reflected in your life, and without giving away too much of this precious story, would you tell us if you feel that is true?

I have not met this Paul of whom you speak, but his words are wise. I have heard that the scriptures say the Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. That seems true to me. The Lord gave us a son, but our son died. The Lord gave me a husband, and that man was taken from me. There are times when despair seemed so deep that it was impossible to see through to the end. But God also gave us two beautiful daughters, and they remain. Joy is followed by sorrow, sometimes, but as surely as the sun follows the storm, so surely does joy return. It’s difficult—but sometimes we have to wait for His perfect timing and just trust that this difficult season too shall pass.

Anne Baxter Campbell 2About the Author:

Anne Baxter Campbell is an author with a yearning to walk people one step closer to God. She says she remembers reading books or watching movies like The Silver Challis, Beloved Physician, The Robe, The Greatest Story Ever Told, and The Ten Commandments, even before becoming a Christian. Something about the books and movies drew her to God. If it hadn’t been for those books, she might never have said “Yes” when offered that eternal grace, and she wouldn’t have written The Truth Trilogy, a series she hopes will draw you a little closer to the Lord who so overwhelmingly loves you. You can catch up with Anne at her website and her blog, on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+

More About The Truth Doesn’t Die

Joanna is the widow of Loukas, her beloved who died fighting pirates on the Great Sea. Decimus is the Roman senator who rescued her and her adopted daughter from slave runners, and he’s also the man who has fallen in love with the graceful and resilient woman.

Joanne craves solitude in which to mourn. Senator Decimus Varitor returns to Rome with reluctance, bound to the senate for too many more years. However, he can only tolerate being away from her for a time. Decimus returns and searches for her in the wilds of Israel where she hides from the world.

She leaves the camp, not knowing she and her friend Rebecca will never live there again. A search for ten-year-old twins in a driving rainstorm through the wilderness, Rebecca’s illness, and then her adopted daughter’s injury at the paws of a bear force them to Jerusalem.

When Decimus finds her, she is following another man, Jesus. His heart broken, Decimus must return to Rome alone.

About The Roman’s Quest (Book One in The Truth Trilogy)

Centurion Julius has eyes for a young Jewish woman, but a Roman is not what her father intends for her. Miriam is a pious Jewish girl, determined to TrilogyFrontCover_do the right thing by her God and her parents, and she bows to her father’s wishes to betroth her to a Jewish fisherman, James ben Zebedee. Her heart yearns for the Roman, but their love is impossible. Miriam’s mother lies close to death, and her last wish is to see her daughter wed. The marriage has to take place before it’s too late.

About Marcus Varitor, Centurion (Book Two in The Truth Trilogy)

Marcus, son of a Roman senator, is a decanus in the Roman cohort in Jerusalem. The tribune hints at a promotion to centurion if Marcus can bring in a troublesome brigand. He discovers there are really only two things he wants—to be a centurion and to win the love of an Egyptian girl. But when Meskhanet is sent to Rome on a slave ship and Marcus is captured by the very criminal he’s supposed to apprehend, those hopes may both evaporate faster than a small puddle under the hot desert sun.

Author Interview: Elizabeth Noyes

ENoyesToday’s guest is Elizabeth “Betty” Noyes, author of Imperfect WingsElizabeth is recently retired and resides in northeast Atlanta where she now writes full time. A world traveler, avid reader, and self-professed dreamer, she draws on her life experiences to create the many “real” characters in her stories.

You can connect with Elizabeth at her website, on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.

Betty, I’m so excited to have you with us here at Inner Source as I feel that this has been a culmination of prayers on the hearts of several of us who have known the talent you possess and were anxious to see your work in print.

First of all, I want to know about your writing journey. Would you mind sharing this with us?

Thank you, Fay. Journey is the right word.

First, I have to explain that I’m an introvert by nature, a bit of a loner. I’ve also come to realize that I’m a very private person. I mention this because although I’ve been writing my entire life, it was only ten years ago that I first shared my work with anyone.

Like TJ, the female protagonist in Imperfect Wings, I too am blessed to have a strong man in my life. I showed my husband, Paul, a few short stories, vignettes, and devotionals I’d written, and he immediately wanted to share it to the world. As you can guess, I wasn’t having any of that!

I’m not sure when writing a book became a project, but one day I realized I had a ton of pages for a story that had long been germinating in my head. I completed it and then decided to see if it was any good.

Instead of going through the submission process, I went to a conference…and became the poster child for the old saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Imagine my surprise when I heard the term ‘word count.’ Imagine my consternation when I learned the word count range for a fiction novel was 80,000-100,000 words. Mine was approaching 200,000.

Not being one to shy away from hard work, I decided to educate myself. I read a ton of how-to books, some good, some not so much. I took some classes, looked into more, and studied up on writing organizations. That’s when I found ACFW and the Scribes critique loop.

I joined ACFW, wound up in a small critique group, made a few false starts, learned the hard way to take well-intentioned critiques with a grain of salt, joined a second critique group, and discovered how much I’d learned from critiquing my group members’ work and reading what the others had to say about everyone’s writing. I’d found a home. Actually, two homes.

The idea for Garrett’s and TJ’s story came about by accident. I had a story underway, this one about Cody and Cate, Garrett’s parents. But he kept stealing the spotlight. I would put the story aside to get Garrett out of head and try again later, only to have Garrett sneak back in. This happened several times before I gave up and tried to get the man out of my head. Eight months later, Imperfect Wings was delivered. Cody and Cate still linger and I hope to revive them one day.

What really captures my imagination in your writing is the fact that you are so experienced or researched on modern weaponry, espionage, technology, you name it. You write these thrilling romantic optimum suspense novels with what seems like little effort, yet they grab the attention and keep me riveted there. (I’m going to confess, I’ve read through Imperfect Wings at least four times, and I’m captivated each time). Where did you gain this research and/or experience?

You have to do your homework. It might be fiction, but it still has to be believable. An author walks a fine line between convincing those familiar with your subject that you know what you’re talking about versus not overwhelming (boring) those unfamiliar with the subject.

Mr. Google has become one of my best friends, complete with Wikipedia, Google maps, You-Tube videos—you name it. Anything can be researched. I had one critique partner tell me there were no Quik Trip gas stations in the little town in Mississippi. I found the Google page I’d researched, took a screen capture complete with picture and URL, and sent it to her. I strongly advise researching even the smallest details.

I had another critiquer I met at a conference, a gentleman who’d been a motor pool mechanic in the Army. He informed me the vehicle specs I listed in my second book were wrong. Another copy from Google brought me an apology and rave reviews. We still stay in touch, and he’s become one of my go-to resources.

Google is great, but people provide the most important resources in my opinion. My husband (best friend and ally) was a career Army officer with combat experience. We once spent a long drive from Fort Lauderdale to Atlanta, talking about the combat scene in Imperfect Wings. I told him what I envisioned. He told me it wouldn’t work. For ten straight hours, we hashed out a “real” combat scenario. The only “real” part I refused to cave on was the language.

I have a wealth of resources I’ve learned to tap into: an anesthesiologist daughter-in-law, a sister who’s a nurse, two police officer nephews, an attorney friend, a paralegal friend, a martial arts/cowboy friend, a technology genius for a son, lots of specialty technology gurus at work, a colleague whose native language is Spanish, a retired FBI acquaintance, and the list goes on and on. A wealth of real-life information and experiences waiting to be tapped.

I’ve been dying to ask this question. Why do Garrett and his family live in Idaho? Is it because you have a special place in your heart for that area or is he just the sort of rugged hero that would live in and ranch in that part of our country?

My husband and I are avid travelers. We love going places we’ve not been. A few years back, we visited Yellowstone National Park and I fell in love with the beauty of the land—Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho are amazing. I think what impressed me most, though, was the rarefied air. There’s a purity there not found in the more densely populated areas of the United States.

The people, too, made an impression—hardy, self-sufficient, no artifice. I had a strange thought that’s stuck with me since we visited—What if our technology-dependent civilization failed for some reason. The people there would survive. Would the city dwellers?

Why Idaho? There’s not much out there about Idaho. Montana yes. Wyoming, absolutely. I wanted to stray from the familiar and bring a beautiful, almost secret place alive. I wanted to make it my own.

The Camerons are tough, survivors, the kind of people who look after family, friends, and neighbors because it’s the right thing to do.

TJ is such a delight to follow. She’s a bundle of feistiness, beauty, and smarts. Is she purely imaginative or did you have one or two or three people in mind when you wrote about her?

Is any character a pure figment of imagination? I don’t think so. In TJ’s case, she’s a fusion of several people I know and admire, as well as a dash of who I want to be. She might be a little damaged (don’t we all have warts?), but she’s learned to deal with her shortcomings and vulnerabilities. Hers is a journey of self discovery, of learning to trust herself, others, and God.

Okay, I’m just not satisfied to read about Garrett. I want to know the stories of all three of his brothers and maybe a couple of his commando buddies. So, is there another project or projects awaiting us, and will you share a little about those?

One of my colleagues at work went off on me after reading the first ten chapters of Imperfect Wings. “I am so in love with Garrett. You need to fix TJ up with Wade or Jonas, not Garrett. He’s mine!” I laughed the rest of the day and still get tickled remembering how animated (and serious) she was. This is the reward a writer wants!

TJ and Garrett are made for each other. Wade and Jonas have their HEAs coming up. Imperfect Wings is Book 1 in the Imperfect series. Book 2 (Imperfect Trust) tells Wade’s and Lucy’s story. I anticipate sending the first draft to my publisher by yearend. Book 3 (Imperfect Love) is the story of Cassidy and Derek. I’ve already outlined and written a few scenes in that one. Book 4 (Imperfect Lies) belongs to Jonas and Shea. This one is also mapped out and partially written. Book 5 (Imperfect Truth), the one I’m dying to get to, is about Mallory and James. If I survive these, I hope to return to Cody and Cate in Book 6 (Imperfect Legacy). Their story is very dear to me since it kicked off this amazing adventure!

As a critique partner and an avid fan of your writing, I can’t wait to read each one of your amazing stories, and I’ll hope you’ll visit Inner Source after each release.

Imperfect Wings cover concept5More About Imperfect Wings:

Evil stalks TJ McKendrick. Three years after burying her father, TJ visits Honduras where he died. While there, she witnesses a murder and is forced to flee.

Don Castillo dreams of power. Funnel the drugs into the States and it’s his. First, he must kill the woman who dared spy on him.

The last thing Garrett Cameron needs is another woman interrupting his life, but when the feisty vixen that blew his mission two years ago shows up at his ranch running for her life, what can he do?

As attraction ignites between TJ and Garrett, she lets go of past betrayals and allows him to protect her. He’s lived a life of violence. Love isn’t for someone like him. Does he dare reveal his soul’s dark side and risk driving her away?

Only faith in God and trust in each other can overcome the deadly odds they face.