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Author Interview: Kathleen Friesen

profile shot by JamesToday our guest is Kathleen Friesen, author of Nila’s HopeOnce upon a time, there was a shy girl who loved to read. She found friends, adventure, and reasons to trust God in the pages of her favorite books. When she grew up, she carried a dream in her heart that some day she would join those authors long admired in the adventure of writing stories. Today Kathleen Friesen is writing and loving it. Her stories invite readers to risk faith, dare to love, and trust God with the consequences.

After thirty years on the Canadian prairies, Kathleen and her husband Ron now live in the beautiful Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Canada. They enjoy travelling, long walks in nature, and time spent with family and friends. And wherever they go, Kathleen’s on the prowl for ideas for her next book. Catch us with Kathleen on her website, and on Facebook.

Welcome, to Inner Source, Kathleen. I’m delighted to have you because I have had the pleasure of watching your debut novel come to fruition. Nila’s Hope is about a young woman who is overcoming an abusive relationship. Why was it so important to you to bring Nila’s story to us?

I met Nila while writing my first novel, Melody’s Song. In that story, Melody tried to help her young neighbor escape an abusive boyfriend, and my heart broke as I researched the terrible mistreatment many endure and how difficult it is for them to escape. After Melody’s Song was finished, Nila kept after me to tell the story of her journey to freedom.

When I’m writing, and I feel as if God has shown me something I wouldn’t have recognized outside of working on the project, I refer to it as “God bringing something to the table for me.” While writing this story, do you feel that God had a message that you needed to learn that might or might not have been separate from the reason you started to write the story?

One question that haunted me was: How can we forgive the unforgiveable? I knew God expects us to forgive those who have hurt us, but some things just seemed beyond forgiveness. For me, not for God. But Nila showed me the way.

Through your research or through your experiences do you have any pearls of wisdom for women who are in an abusive relationship or might be recovering from one?

The first concern is safety. Get help, and get to a safe place. Once your security is assured, forgiveness is crucial, for yourself and for your abuser(s). Without it, you will never be free. And that kind of forgiveness can only come from God. Get to know him. Learn to trust him. He loves you and will love you forever.

Nila’s Hope is set in wintry Saskatoon. I live about as far on this continent as you can get from Saskatoon. Is this where you are from? If so, I’d love to hear a little about your life there.

I grew up in the mild climate of the Pacific Northwest, but after I met my Saskatchewan-born husband at a small Bible college, the prairies soon became my home. I had a hard time with the long, bitterly cold winters, but I loved the colorful dance of northern lights, hoar frost so brilliant it hurt the eyes, and even – sometimes – the brisk winter wind, so cold it burned. Blizzards are not uncommon, and as long as my loved ones were all safe at home, I enjoyed watching its power, as the white monster enveloped the house and made the windows whistle and the rafters moan. When swirling snow was all we could see from our cozy home, we had a real blizzard. That meant it was time to get out the candles, oil lamps, and popcorn, because more than likely, the power would soon be off. Those were the days!

Well, it sounds like the preparations for your blizzard stays aren’t much different from our Florida hurricane preps, except when the power goes off here, we’re facing weather that, while hot, can still be alleviated some by the opening of windows when the storm has passed.

What’s next for Kathleen Friesen? Are you working on any new stories? If so, I hope you’ll share a little about them.

My work in progress is Hayley’s Choice. Hayley is introduced in Nila’s Hope, and I have to admit, I didn’t like her. Spoiled and self-centered, she was a foil to Nila. Until I got to know her better. In this story, she has suffered a great loss and is searching for a purpose, a reason to live. On her way to Saskatoon, she meets Trevor, who is eager to leave Saskatoon to make a name for himself and prove he is better than his past. Can these two damaged people, one wanting to know God better and the other anxious to escape Him, find the answers they long for?

Sounds like a great story, and I remember meeting Hayley. I can’t wait to read her story, and I hope you’ll visit us again on Inner Source and introduce her to us once the story is released.

NilasHope_h11737_300More About Nila’s Hope:

Just when her career as a carpenter and a relationship with handsome co-worker Will Jamison are within reach, Nila Black’s abusive ex-boyfriend is released from prison. He’s out of jail, out for revenge, and making promises she knows he’ll keep. Nila will do whatever it takes to save her friends from the evil that will come their way if she doesn’t put distance between them-even if it means abandoning her new-found faith. It will take a miracle and an angelic messenger to show Nila that God is her greatest protector. He has never left her side, and He wants only the best for her and for the man she loves.

Character Interview: Nila Black from Kathleen Friesen’s Nila’s Hope

NilasHope_h11737_300Today’s guest is Nila Black, the heroine of Kathleen Friesen’s excellent debut novel, Nila’s Hope. Thank you for being with us, Nila.

Thank you for inviting me.

I love your story. We’re not going to give a lot a way for our readers just to say that you’ve been through a lot. Let’s start by having you tell us a little about your life, where you’re from, what you do for a living.

I’ve always lived in Saskatoon, so I assume that’s where my parents lived. I grew up in foster homes, some good, some not. Can we leave it at that?

I’m an apprentice carpenter, and I work with a couple of really great guys – my boss, Daniel, and my co-worker, Will. Don’t tell Will, but I think he’s amazing. And awfully easy on the eyes.

You’re a carpenter. We don’t often see women in that line of work. I would be that occupation’s worse nightmare. Would you mind sharing why you like carpentry?

It surprised me, actually. When I moved in with Pastor Dave and Lydia, they hired Daniel and Will to finish out their basement, including a bedroom for me. Daniel let me use a table saw, and I was hooked. I loved the power controlled by my hands. So different from most of my life. And when they let me help with what turned out to be a beautiful space, I knew this was what I wanted to do.

Your story is one of a woman overcoming an abusive relationship. If you had someone that you knew who was in that type of a relationship, is there something that you would tell them that you wished you’d done differently during that time?

Run. That sounds flippant, but I wish I’d left the first time Nick hit me. But he convinced me it was a fluke – my fault, really, and he’d never do it again. Of course, he did, and it just got worse. So I would tell someone to talk to a trusted friend and let that friend help them. Ask the friend to be patient, because it will probably take more than one attempt. It may take several tries. Don’t give up! Make a detailed plan for escape. Give a few things at a time to that friend, so that when you do leave, you have something of your own. Especially make sure your friend has copies of important papers.

Wow! Those are actually steps I have never heard. So many times, we hear about an abused person leaving with only the clothes they are wearing. Excellent advice to plan ahead if at all possible. Along that same line of advice is there a scripture or a biblical precept that you leaned upon through everything that occurred that spoke into your life and might possibly speak into the lives of others who are enduring or have endured what you went through?

When it looked like Nick was going to get away with everything he’d done, God showed me Psalm 10, especially verses 14 through 16:

“But You, O God, do see trouble and grief; You consider it to take it in hand.

The victim commits himself to You; You are the helper of the fatherless.

Break the arm of the wicked and evil man; call him to account for his wickedness that would not be found out.”

Isn’t that amazing?

That is an awesome Scripture for someone who is facing any evil. I know this is a tough question, but looking back on your life do you see clearly where God was there, even in the worst of times? If so, have you been able to answer the question of why God didn’t pull you from the situation right away?

In the worst times? I don’t know. I guess he was there, because I didn’t die. I’ll probably never understand why He allowed some of that stuff, but I know He loves me. If what I went through helps someone else, then I could see some purpose. Or maybe that’s what it took to make me what I am today. I don’t know all the answers, but I know Jesus does. That’s enough for me.

Well stated, Nila. I look forward to the interview with your author, Kathleen, on Wednesday.

More About Nila’s Hope:

Just when her career as a carpenter and a relationship with handsome co-worker Will Jamison are within reach, Nila Black’s abusive ex-boyfriend is released from prison. He’s out of jail, out for revenge, and making promises she knows he’ll keep. Nila will do whatever it takes to save her friends from the evil that will come their way if she doesn’t put distance between them-even if it means abandoning her new-found faith. It will take a miracle and an angelic messenger to show Nila that God is her greatest protector. He has never left her side, and He wants only the best for her and for the man she loves.

profile shot by JamesAbout the Author:

Once upon a time, there was a shy girl who loved to read. She found friends, adventure, and reasons to trust God in the pages of her favorite books. When she grew up, she carried a dream in her heart that some day she would join those authors long admired in the adventure of writing stories. Today Kathleen Friesen is writing and loving it. Her stories invite readers to risk faith, dare to love, and trust God with the consequences.

After thirty years on the Canadian prairies, Kathleen and her husband Ron now live in the beautiful Okanagan Valley of British Columbia, Canada. They enjoy travelling, long walks in nature, and time spent with family and friends. And wherever they go, Kathleen’s on the prowl for ideas for her next book. Catch us with Kathleen on her website, and on Facebook.

Exceedingly, Abundantly, Above by Joan Deneve

PrayerI’m still surprised when God answers prayer. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been a believer and practicing woman of faith for over forty years. I’ve seen God do some amazing things, and yes, even miracles, in answer to prayer. On the other hand, I’ve experienced times when God remained silent to my anguished cries.

My mouth will tell you that I believe God can do anything. But sometimes my heart counters, “But will He?”

At such times, I try to fall back on what I know to be true. That God is a good God who is also wise and all-knowing. Our God is sovereign, which is a fancy way of saying that He is God and I am not. He gets to call the shots.

It was out of these thoughts, feelings, and questions that Saving Eric was born. I wanted to illustrate that God’s plan is sometimes much bigger than what we presently see, and that we can trust God to always do what is needed and what is right.

Through this character-driven novel, three basic truths about God come to light.

  1. God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we ask or think. These words, taken from Ephesians 3:20, are the foundational truth behind Brock Whitfield’s faith. Brock’s faith is strong and seemingly unshakable because it was forged in the crucible of deep failure, disappointment, and loss. Brock passes on what he has learned about trusting God to all the staff at the mission compound.
  2. God sometimes lets us be the answer to our own prayers. This is probably my favorite truth. Brock had prayed for a certain individual for many years, but he never dreamed God would allow him to be part of the answer. What an exciting thought! God not only gives us the desires of our hearts, but He also lets us be part of the answer.
  3. God uses broken people to help other broken people. We’re all broken. That’s why we need a savior. God is in the business of changing lives. Brock, Ellie, Eric, and Bob Templeton—all broken and in need of God’s truth and God’s grace to turn their lives around.

These fictional characters struggle with things we all struggle with. Using Brock as spiritual mentor, I take the reader down the path of some of my own spiritual battles and questions. My goal was to portray God realistically and faithfully. He is a God who does not always answer the way we think He will or should, but His answer is always the best one. It’s a hard lesson to learn and one that must be relearned many times in one’s life.

Last year, I did the unthinkable. I gave God a deadline. Granted, I gave Him a year, but it was still a deadline. I asked for two specific requests. Big requests. Not the generic, “God bless my children and keep them safe.” (Although there’s nothing wrong with that either)

I prayed on New Year’s Day for God to come through and answer the two requests I had been praying about for three years. I committed to prayer that 2014 be the year that both requests be answered. And by answered, I mean really answered.

At every prayer meeting, everybody knew my hand would go up and I would ask for two unspoken requests.

Did I ask in faith? You bet. Did I really believe they would get answered? Sort of.  The first one was answered in September, fully nine months after asking that original prayer. The second one was more of a challenge. I still had hope, but I had already decided to let God off the hook in case it wasn’t His timing or His will. (Like He needed for me to let Him off the hook)

The answer came on Christmas Eve. When I found out, I didn’t believe it. In fact, I said to the person, “You’re kidding.” See what I mean? I’m still surprised when God answers prayer.

Let me sum it all up. God is real. God is good. God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we ask or think. Our God loves us. He delights to show Himself strong on our behalf.

But His ways are not our ways. Sometimes He says “No.” Sometimes He says “Wait.” And sometimes He is silent. And at such times we must do as the song says, “When we can’t trace His hand, we trust His heart.”

Contest Photo 1About the Author:

 Joan Deneve teaches English in a Christian school and has a passion to help young people fall in love with Jesus and equip them to become all God wants them to be. Joan began her walk as a Christian when she accepted Christ as her savior two weeks before her sixteenth birthday. She graduated from Tennessee Temple Bible College in 1975.

Joan and Rene’, her husband of forty-plus years, reside in Prattville, Alabama, a charming city with Southern hospitality. They count their son, daughter, son-in-law, and seven phenomenal grandchildren to be their greatest blessings on earth.

Joan enjoys time well-spent with family and friends, but finds equal joy in quiet moments of solitude on her back porch. There, surrounded by bluebirds and yellow butterflies, she began writing her debut novel, Saving Eric.

An active member of her church, Joan enjoys singing in the choir. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is currently working on the second book in the Redeemed Side of Broken Series. She enjoys chatting with fellow writers and readers. Check out her web page: http://cjdeneve.wix.com/joandeneve.

Saving Eric front coverMore About Saving Eric:

Templetons don’t break down. Even when their world is falling apart. Eric Templeton’s well-ordered life as a top CIA agent is shattered when a traitor within the agency plots to have him eliminated. Sent on a bogus mission to Africa, Eric is ambushed and critically wounded. A helicopter pilot flies him to a remote mission hospital where Dr. Brock Whitfield and his daughter, Ellie, work to save his life. If Eric survives, his life may never be the same, and he still has to deal with the traitor who wants him dead. Eric wants justice, but Brock and Ellie know that Eric’s survival is the least of his worries. What he needs most is mercy and truth.

Interview with Joan Deneve, Author of Saving Eric

Contest Photo 1Today’s guest is Joan Deneve. Joan teaches English in a Christian school and has a passion to help young people fall in love with Jesus and equip them to become all God wants them to be. Joan began her walk as a Christian when she accepted Christ as her savior two weeks before her sixteenth birthday. She graduated from Tennessee Temple Bible College in 1975.

Joan and Rene’, her husband of forty-plus years, reside in Prattville, Alabama, a charming city with Southern hospitality. They count their son, daughter, son-in-law, and seven phenomenal grandchildren to be their greatest blessings on earth.

Joan enjoys time well-spent with family and friends, but finds equal joy in quiet moments of solitude on her back porch. There, surrounded by bluebirds and yellow butterflies, she began writing her debut novel, Saving Eric.

An active member of her church, Joan enjoys singing in the choir. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is currently working on the second book in the Redeemed Side of Broken Series. She enjoys chatting with fellow writers and readers. Check out her web page: http://cjdeneve.wix.com/joandeneve.

Joannie, tell us a little about yourself and the reason you wrote Saving Eric?

I wrote Saving Eric for two reasons. First, I wanted to show the progression of how a person who knows nothing about God can be brought to the end of himself and desire to become a follower of Christ. Second, I wanted to illustrate how God changes lives through His grace and then uses those lives to accomplish His will to others.

The characters and story are fictional, but the truth is real. It is my passion that readers will see that truth and apply it to their lives. Why has God allowed some of the trials in my life? And how can I turn those trials around and become a blessing to others going through similar trials?

When I read this story, the medical information is layered in so well as the doctors do what they do to save lives. I was astounded to find out that you are not a physician or a nurse, but I love where your research developed. Would you mind sharing that with us?

I’m very blessed to have two wonderful children, both lay writers themselves. My son is a cancer surgeon in Memphis, Tennessee. He became my “go-to” medical adviser. Sometimes I texted him questions. Sometimes I called him up and read portions to him. And sometimes he would say, “Mom, send me the chapter and I’ll fix it.” Some of the portions he “fixed” I had to retweak and dumb down because they were too technical. I also had the added advantage that he has been to Africa twice as a doctor for Samaritan’s Purse. He helped me know what was feasible for a mission hospital. I can accurately acknowledge that I couldn’t have written this story without him.

Saving Eric is about an agent for the CIA. Every year, I take five of my favorite novels, and I prepare a pitch in order to teach the art of developing an “elevator pitch.” Your story was among those I used this year. In the pitch, I described your hero as “A special agent for the CIA with a penchant for getting into trouble …” but Eric’s story isn’t an espionage thriller. I classify it as a journey or a quest, a special one at that. I asked Eric this question this week as well, but I’d like to know from the author’s perspective, more about Eric’s journey, why it was so important to you, as his author, to tell the story.

This is a great question! It was important to me to tell Eric’s story because Eric like so many so-called successful people in this world has a dark hole inside of him. Eric has based his self-worth and reason for his existence on his ability to perform well. When everything begins to crumble, when all he has based his life on falls apart, he has no choice but to look up. Through a series of coincidences that were actually God’s perfect timing, the reader sees that our sovereign God knows where we are at all times and is able to provide exactly what we need. (Even if we don’t think we need it)

Eric’s father is a hard man, a very hard man. He faces something that softens him and allows Eric to develop a closer relationship to him. Do you believe that God allows hardships in our lives as a way of softening us to His presence?

I do. I believe that with all my heart. I’ve seen Him do that in my own life and in the lives of my children. For this reason, hardships from our loving Father’s hands become blessings in disquise because they chip away at our own pride and self-sufficiency and make us dependent on God’s sustaining grace.

What’s next on the horizon for Author Joan Deneve? We’d love to hear about your next project.

Currently, I’m working on Book 2 in the Redeemed Side of Broken Series. It’s called Freeing Ellie and continues the story of Eric and Ellie. As the name implies, Ellie has some things buried deep inside of her that need to be dealt with and healed.

Saving Eric front coverMore About Saving Eric:

Templetons don’t break down. Even when their world is falling apart. Eric Templeton’s well-ordered life as a top CIA agent is shattered when a traitor within the agency plots to have him eliminated. Sent on a bogus mission to Africa, Eric is ambushed and critically wounded. A helicopter pilot flies him to a remote mission hospital where Dr. Brock Whitfield and his daughter, Ellie, work to save his life. If Eric survives, his life may never be the same, and he still has to deal with the traitor who wants him dead. Eric wants justice, but Brock and Ellie know that Eric’s survival is the least of his worries. What he needs most is mercy and truth.

Character Interview: Eric Templeton from Joan Deneve’s Saving Eric

Saving Eric front coverToday’s guest is Eric Templeton the hero of Saving Eric by author Joan Deneve. This story has been a brisk seller, and there’s a reason. Eric’s quest takes him on an intriguing adventures to places he’s never been.

Eric, I’m so happy to be able to talk to you about your story, which was quite a quest as far as I’m concerned as I believe you dodged much more than bullets. First, though, tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do for a living?

Thank you, Fay. It’s an honor to be here. I’m Eric Templeton, and you’re right about the bullets. Unfortunately, I didn’t dodge them quite well enough. But first things first. I grew up in a suburb of Langley, Virginia. Upon graduation from West Point, I went to work for the CIA, a career my father, General Robert Templeton, had always hoped I’d pursue.

Even though you work in a dangerous field, I consider your story much more of a journey than I do a thriller. As stated above, I believe there was more at stake in your journey than in your regular line of duty. I’m going to ask your author this same question, but I want to know what Eric Templeton thinks his quest is about.

You’re a great interrogator, Fay. If you ever quit your day job, come look us up in the agency.

I’m a driven man, but I’m not always sure what is driving me. One thing is for sure: Failure is not an option. When my missions started to fail, my own sense of purpose crumbled with them.

God directed the author to put me into some hard situations designed to bring me to an end of myself. Bottom line: The ultimate quest for any human is to find God and find the reason He put us on this planet.

I hope that people will read my story and through it come to see God’s sovereign hand at work in their lives too.

I love your heroine, Ellie, but I want to hear what you think of her from your own words.

I happen to have a picture in my wallet. Take a look. Gorgeous, isn’t she? And that dimple. Man, I could talk about Ellie all day. Okay, seriously, I’ll tell you. It’s not her beauty. I’ve known a lot of beautiful women. I’m a good judge of character, but something about Ellie always had me guessing. Ellie Whitefield is a wonderful mixture of contradictions. She’s fearless among the nationals but afraid of the dark. She possesses children-like innocence as well as battle-ready strength especially if she’s fighting for someone she loves. The first time I saw her, I thought she was an angel. I wasn’t wrong. But the thing I love the most about Ellie is her transparency. I never have to guess what she’s thinking. That means a whole lot to a man who lived most of his life surrounded by lies and intrigue. Ellie is my safe place. I want to be hers too.

You’ve been through a lot, Eric. I don’t want to give away too much of your story, but you faced some terrible situations. Looking back over them, do you believe that all things do work together for good to those who know the Lord? Has it played out in your life?

Becoming a man of faith wasn’t easy for me. Maybe it’s not easy for anyone. “All things work together for good to those who know the Lord.” Yes, ma’am, I do believe that. My mentor Doc Whitfield helped me finally see that at a time when nothing looked good. It was a very low time in my life. But I’m going to tell you the truth. If I could go back and change anything that happened, I wouldn’t. As hard as it all was, it was worth.

And because he is so adorable and sweet, I’d like to know how Toby is doing?

Adorable and sweet? Are you sure you’re talking about my man Toby? Tobe finds all kinds of excuses to fly into the mission compound, especially to see our kitchen powerhouse Nicci. (Pronounced Niecey by the way) He comes so often there’s talk of building a helicopter hangar on the edge of the compound.

Tobe reminds me of an overgrown puppy. Loud, sometimes clumsy but always loyal. I wouldn’t be having this interview with you if it weren’t for Tobe. Excuse the tears, Fay. I owe him my life. Good man.

More About Saving Eric:

Templetons don’t break down. Even when their world is falling apart. Eric Templeton’s well-ordered life as a top CIA agent is shattered when a traitor within the agency plots to have him eliminated. Sent on a bogus mission to Africa, Eric is ambushed and critically wounded. A helicopter pilot flies him to a remote mission hospital where Dr. Brock Whitfield and his daughter, Ellie, work to save his life. If Eric survives, his life may never be the same, and he still has to deal with the traitor who wants him dead. Eric wants justice, but Brock and Ellie know that Eric’s survival is the least of his worries. What he needs most is mercy and truth.

Contest Photo 1About the Author:

 Joan Deneve teaches English in a Christian school and has a passion to help young people fall in love with Jesus and equip them to become all God wants them to be. Joan began her walk as a Christian when she accepted Christ as her savior two weeks before her sixteenth birthday. She graduated from Tennessee Temple Bible College in 1975.

Joan and Rene’, her husband of forty-plus years, reside in Prattville, Alabama, a charming city with Southern hospitality. They count their son, daughter, son-in-law, and seven phenomenal grandchildren to be their greatest blessings on earth.

Joan enjoys time well-spent with family and friends, but finds equal joy in quiet moments of solitude on her back porch. There, surrounded by bluebirds and yellow butterflies, she began writing her debut novel, Saving Eric.

An active member of her church, Joan enjoys singing in the choir. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and is currently working on the second book in the Redeemed Side of Broken Series. She enjoys chatting with fellow writers and readers. Check out her web page: http://cjdeneve.wix.com/joandeneve.