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Who Wrote Whom: Meet the Authors of Unlikely Merger: Betty Thomason Owens

BettyThomasonOwensToday, we meet the author who brought us our last hero in Mercy’s adventure, Betty Thomason Owens. Betty writes romantic comedy, historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She has contributed hundreds of articles and interviews to various blogs around the Internet and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group. She’s also a mentor, assisting other writers. She is a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers, and a contributing editor for the soon-to-be launched online magazine, Imaginate.

Her 20’s era romance, Amelia’s Legacy, Book 1, Legacy Series, released October, 2014 (Write Integrity Press). She also writes contemporary stories as a co-author of A Dozen Apologies and its sequels, The Love Boat Bachelor and Unlikely Merger, (2015). She has two fantasy-adventure novels, The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM.

Coming soon, a 1950’s historical novel inspired by the Book of Ruth, Annabelle’s Ruth, book 1 of the Kinsman Redeemer Series (Write Integrity Press).

You can connect with Betty on her personal webpage, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and at Writing Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My!

Here’s insight from Betty on how she came to write her character, Daniel Knight.

One of my favorite things about writing is creating characters. I don’t usually find pictures of actors and pattern my characters after them. I create characteristics then decide on the character’s outward appearance.

I built Daniel Knight out of good, sturdy stock. He’s not drop-dead gorgeous, just good-ole-boy handsome, with a great personality. He’s much more comfortable in jeans, t-shirt, and a cowboy hat than a suit, but he looks good all dressed up, too. He’s tall and well-muscled, but doesn’t work out with weights to maintain it. It’s the natural byproduct of youth and the fact that he loves to stay active. Which is why he took so well to Colorado, with their annual average of three-hundred-some days of sunshine.

He’s not afraid to get his hands dirty, as we see when he meets Mercy for the first time.

Daniel is smart—almost brilliant—in the creative realm. I’ve worked with engineers and I know they can be analytical and egotistical, or swing toward the artistic side, as Daniel does. If he can dream it, he can do it. His love for animals, especially equine, leads him to a fulfilling career designing high-end stables and exercise areas.

I used Mercy’s characteristics as a starting point when deciding on Daniel’s character. Some couples seem to be polar-opposites and live very happily together. Others work well together because they have a lot in common. They would be great friends, even if they weren’t romantically involved. Mercy and Daniel both love the outdoors. Personality-wise, he’s mostly sanquine with a dose of phlegmatic. Both Mercy and Daniel have a good work ethic and seek to do their best when given a task. And of course, they both love the Lord and seek His guidance for their life, though neither one is particularly outspoken about it.

There are a lot of “Daniels” in my life and I’ve drawn from them to build what I hope will be the perfect love interest for Mercy Lacewell. Even if they don’t end up together, I know they’ll be great friends. I hope to visit Daniel one day on his ranch near Boulder, Colorado. He promises I can ride his favorite horse if I’ll bake him one of my famous apple pies. I think that’s a fair trade.

Unlikely Merger CoverMore About Unlikely Merger:

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

Amelia's Legacy FRONT Cover

Betty is the author of  Amelia’s Legacy:

It’s the Roaring Twenties and anything goes …

Orphaned and living with her grandmother since the age of six, Nancy Sanderson desires only her freedom from her strict grandmother, Amelia Woods Sanderson, who divides her time between Nancy and a successful career. Her grandmother’s plans include a wealthy, smart, and well-connected young lawyer named Robert Emerson, who bores Nancy.

Instead, Nancy seeks the company of the wild-hearted Nate Conners. When her rebellion turns deadly and her dalliance with Nate leaves her in trouble, Nancy turns to Robert, who promises to protect her. But Robert has underestimated Nate’s thirst for revenge.

As hidden truths become known, can Nancy find the strength to forgive herself and gain true and lasting freedom?

Her latest book, Annabelle’s Ruth will release soon. I’ve been fortunate enough to read it pre-release. Inspired by the Book of Ruth, I can tell you, it is one of the best historical novels I’ve read.

Annabelle's RuthAnnabelle’s Ruth, book 1 in the Kinsman Redeemer series, is a 1950’s era “Ruth” story, set in the area of Trenton, Tennessee. After their husbands perish in a fishing boat accident, Constance “Connie” Cross determines to follow her mother-in-law, Annabelle, to Tennessee. After Southern California, 1950’s West Tennessee gives Connie culture shock. How will she adapt to her new life amid the cotton farms, rank with prejudice?

 

Who Wrote Whom: Meet the Authors of Unlikely Merger: Suzy Moore

HeadshotSuzy Moore loves to get lost in a good story. She has a passion for the written word and for the many ways it can touch and uplift through the sharing of lives, stories, and most importantly the Gospel. She lives in rural Missouri with her husband and five children where she is a homeschooling mom, free-lance editor, and wanna-be farmer of all things natural and delicious. Find her on Facebook at Suzy Moore-Wellspring Editing or at wellspringediting.com.

The character of Levi Shepherd came to my mind while thinking of the kind of smart, strong, outdoor-loving men I know in my own family, church family, and that seem to populate the wonderful Midwest in general.

Here, in what much of our nation considers “fly-over” country, reside some pretty wonderful, steady, spirit-filled men that make great husbands!  I wanted to honor those guys.

As I got to know Mercy, I felt she would have the best chemistry with someone that shared her interests, especially fishing and the like. Even though she is still trying to get her footing and build confidence as a business woman, I felt like she would soon discover that she has great instincts for business and that she would be happiest with someone she could work side by side with professionally every day, building their future together.

Levi is also loosely based on the character of Reese Witherspoon’s ex-husband in “Sweet Home Alabama”, who, in her mind he was a backwoods nobody, but in reality was a smart businessman with a good heart. I presented Levi in the opposite order. Mercy first gets know him as a competent professional; an IT officer that is good at his job and well-respected by his peers. She quickly learns he has a great love for the outdoors and an ambitious plan to combine his business skills with that love.

First, though, I prayed over these characters and asked God to show me how He would have me present a budding relationship that honors Him. It is a privilege to write about characters that love and seek the Lord.

I hope you enjoyed getting to know Levi!

Unlikely Merger CoverMore About Unlikely Merger:

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?

Other great multi-author collaborative novellas from Write Integrity Press: A Dozen Apologies and The Love Boat Bachelorand great Christmas reads: The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt and A Ruby ChristmasHeart Bouquets, romantic short stories is also available.

Meet the Heroes of Unlikely Merger: Daniel Knight

Lexington, KYToday, we’re putting out last hero on the spot. Please meet Daniel Knight who is moonlighting for Knight-Link & Associates while working on one of his favorite type of projects. 

Daniel, tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do when you’re not working?

I was born in Lexington, Kentucky and spent my childhood on a farm in Versailles, Kentucky. I moved to Boulder, Colorado to pursue my degree in architectural engineering and fell in love with the area. That’s now my full-time home, but I travel back to Kentucky whenever my uncle needs me on a project. When I’m at home in Colorado, I’m always outdoors. On my days off, I love to hike and ride horseback or mountain bike. In the winter, I ski and snowboard. When I’m in Kentucky, my off days are usually spent working on my grandparents’ horse farm, fishing, or horseback riding.

You recently met with Mercy Lacewell of Lacewell Limited regarding a merger or a buyout of your company. Tell me what immediately came to mind when you first met Ms. Lacewell.

I laugh every time I think of my first encounter with Mercy, I’m not sure which one of us was more surprised. But what I remember most about that meeting is her startling blue eyes. As blue as the Colorado skies. A guy could go into cardiac arrest caught in her gaze.

What do you remember most about Mercy as a result of that meeting?

Her gentle spirit. Mercy is a nurturer. She walked into an uncomfortable situation at my uncle’s firm, but she turned it around in no time, and when she finished, they knew she cared about them and their situation. The girl’s got spunk. She reminds me a lot of UK basketball’s most famous fan—Ashley Judd—when she was younger, of course.

Tell us how you really feel about Mercy Lacewell. Don’t be shy.

No one ever accused me of being shy. Mercy’s a thoroughbred. She’s beautiful, she’s real, and she’s tougher than she looks. But like a thoroughbred, she’s a little skittish at first. I knew to keep my distance and take it easy with her. She was only in town for a couple of days, but after those few hours with her, I definitely wanted to get to know her better.

Do you think that you and Mercy could have a future together? If so, tell us why you think you’re the man for Mercy.

If God is in it, yes, I know we can have a future together. I don’t go anywhere He doesn’t lead, and I know Mercy feels the same way. I’m a Colorado transplant, but I love it there. I’ve no intention of leaving. And Mercy needs to be near her family. We have a lot in common—our faith, our mutual love of the great outdoors—skiing, running, hiking. And she’s a carnivore. She prefers a good slab of prime rib to a bowl of vegetables. Now that, my friend, is a woman I could spend the rest of my life with.

Unlikely Merger Cover

More About Unlikely Merger:

No longer needed as her father’s nurse, Mercy Lacewell attempts to step into his shoes at his acquisitions firm. That means travel, engaging strangers, and making final decisions—nothing she feels equipped to do. If her best friend has her way, Mercy will simply marry one of the single, available men she meets, but they overwhelm her. So handsome and kind. And so many. Even if she felt obliged, how could she ever choose?

Should she shove all attraction aside and focus on her father’s business, or is God warming her heart with the possibility of forever?.

You can meet Daniel today by reading his chapter of Unlikely Merger at Write Integrity Press.

Our authors at Write Integrity Press love collaborating on novellas. Here are a few of our other works:

A Dozen Apologies:

Mara Adkins, a promising fashion designer, has fallen off the ladder of success, and she can’t seem to get up.In college, Mara and her sorority sisters played an ugly game, and Mara was usually the winner. She’d date men she considered geeks, win their confidence, and then she’d dump them publicly. When Mara begins work for a prestigious clothing designer in New York, she gets her comeuppance. Her boyfriend steals her designs and wins a A DOZEN APOLOGIES FINAL FRONT COVER (282x425)coveted position. He fires her, and she returns in shame to her home in Spartanburg, South Carolina, where life for others has changed for the better.

Mara’s parents, always seemingly one step from a divorce, have rediscovered their love for each other, but more importantly they have placed Christ in the center of that love. The changes Mara sees in their lives cause her to seek Christ. Mara’s heart is pierced by her actions toward the twelve men she’d wronged in college, and she sets out to apologize to each of them. A girl with that many amends to make, though, needs money for travel, and Mara finds more ways to lose a job than she ever thought possible.

Mara stumbles, bumbles, and humbles her way toward employment and toward possible reconciliation with the twelve men she humiliated to find that God truly does look upon the heart, and that He has chosen the heart of one of the men for her to have and to hold.

LOVE BOAT BACHELOR CoverThe Love Boat Bachelor:

Romance is a joke.After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too. Brent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry? Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise. As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.

Meet the heroes from previous chapters: Dustin Rogers, Landon Gates, Ric Montoya, Gabriel “Gabe” Mann, Talon Hawthorne. Douglas “Digger” Grant, Levi Shepherd, Steve Leclerc, and Reuben “Rube” Miller.

Remember, voting for your favorite hero starts tomorrow.

More from our authors:

Marji Laine: A Horse of a Different Color

Julie Arduini: Our Business Influences Part 5

Author Interview: Marian P. Merritt

Marian P. Merritt -HeadshotToday’s guest is Marian P. Merritt, the author of two of my favorite Christmas Holiday Extravaganza novellas, Southern Fried Christmas and Deep Freeze Christmas.  Marian writes stories that blend her love of the mountains with her deep Southern roots. She is an author and freelance writer with over ten years experience. Her work has appeared in newspapers, magazines and online websites and garnered a first place award in ACFW’s Genesis contest.

Marian is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Women’s Fiction Writers Association.

She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy and an accounting certificate from the University of South Alabama. This Louisiana native writes from the Northwest Colorado home she shares with her husband and a very spoiled Labradoodle. Connect with her through Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter

Welcome, Marian. You have such a unique brand for your writing. Would you share that with our readers?

My tagline is: Where the Bayous Meet the Mountains. It brands me as an author as well as my stories. I’m a Louisiana Cajun gal living in Colorado. My stories have a Louisiana/Colorado connection. In some stories the connection is subtle, but it’s still there.

You are from the Deep South, but you now live in Colorado. I’d be interested to know what you like most about Louisiana and Colorado … and what you like the least about each location.

Least:  Colorado—Piles of snow that require shoveling.

Louisiana: Humidity, multitude of bugs.

Most:   Colorado—The weather in the summer is amazing. I actually want to be outdoors!

Louisiana—The food, the culture, the warm southern hospitality.

The story, Deep Freeze Christmas, your heroine is a sous chef. I asked Leona to explain what a sous chef does, but I’m interested in knowing if you are writing from experience or research. In other words are you one of those people that like to cook?

I do love to  cook – but I’m certainly not a chef! Which simply means I like to cook great meals that my husband and I prepare together and enjoy together. I’m not as comfortable cooking for other people. And that whole planning and preparing thing—don’t like it so much.  

I found the relationship between your heroine and the master chef, Julian Mayeux, very refreshing. Most chefs are portrayed like the ones we see on television—tough and demanding. I got the idea that Julian demanded the best from Leona, but he also is like a father figure to her. Is their relationship a mirror of a real relationship in your life?

Their relationship is very similar to relationships I had with co-workers when I worked for an oil company in south Louisiana and in Mobile, AL. I was a young single mom and many of the older men sort of adopted me as their daughter.

A little birdy tells me that you have another Christmas story. Would you mind sharing that with us as well as any other projects you might have?

I would love to share! My recently released novel, A Cajun Christmas Miracle, is another Christmas story with a Louisiana gal and a Colorado cowboy set in South Louisiana. Throw in the gal’s three-year-old son who has autism, a rescued horse, and the real meaning of Christmas, and you have a heartwarming story of second chances and God’s miraculous hand.

Releasing in February 2015, The Vigil, is my first Women’s Fiction novel and one that is close to my heart. It’s the genre that I love to write and feel blessed to share this one with my readers.

For book details visit my website at: http://www.marianmerritt.com

Fay, thank you for having me here at Inner Source. It’s been a pleasure visiting with you and your readers.

Thank you for joining us, and I’m inviting you back right now to share the Inner Source about The Vigil. I’ve had the awesome pleasure of reading the story already, and I know our readers will want to know about this one.

DeepFreezeChristmas_w11849_png (1)More about Deep Freeze Christmas:

Louisiana Chef Leona Buquet agrees to cook at a Colorado mountain lodge during the Christmas holiday. When she meets the son of a movie producer, she is taken by his striking good looks and warm personality. Trouble is, with glamorous actresses clamoring for his attention, why would he even notice Leona?

Cameron Fleming struggles with being in a career he hates in order to please his famous father. When he meets Leona, he feels a connection to her and wants an opportunity to get to know her. That is hard to do while dodging starlets…and the woman he wants is avoiding him.

Can love sizzle, along with the Cajun dishes, in subzero temperatures?

SouthernFriedChristmas_w11200_680 (1)About Southern Fried Christmas, another Christmas Extravaganza novella:

Love: purer than Colorado snow, deeper than a Louisiana bayou.

The Colorado Rockies have always been home to journalist Kelly Shepherd, but after the death of her father, and facing her first Christmas alone, she accepts an assignment that leads her deep into Louisiana’s Cajun country.

Since his wife’s death, Denny Labouve has focused his attention on his ten-year-old daughter and the family business, but Kelly sparks the dying embers of his heart even as a Christmas cold front moves through his beloved Cajun country.

Will Denny and Kelly be able to trust God to bridge the span between the Colorado Rockies and the Louisiana bayou?

a-cajun-christmas-miracle-cover-web-copyAbout A Cajun Christmas Miracle

“Who knows anything about love at seventeen? All those hormones raging, and life decisions to make.”

Thirteen years ago, Mandy St. Pierre and Bridger Mathews were in high school and hopelessly in love. When his parents moved to Colorado in his senior year, Mandy was left behind with a broken heart and a secret. When Bridger never contacted her, she questioned the reality and depth of their love.

While neither has forgotten the other and the deep first love they shared, their lives took different paths. Mandy married and became mother to a child with special needs. Bridger married only to loose his wife to cancer three years later.

Now Mandy and Bridger are thrown together for the wedding of her cousin and his best friend. Mandy, abandoned by her husband, has moved back to Belle Camellia, the River Road, Louisiana plantation home of her youth with Daniel, her three-year-old son who has autism. Bridger is working next door with a rescue horse his best friend has saved.

When Mandy’s son bonds with Bridger and his horse, Mandy is torn. She wrangles with letting Bridger back into her life, letting him into her son’s life, her unnatural fear of horses, and her wavering faith in God.

Through Daniel’s fearless attachment to the horse and Bridger, both Mandy and Bridger are forced to confront the past. Revealed truths present perfect opportunities for forgiveness. Will they let go of the past hurts? Can they open their hearts to trust one another in order to give Daniel an experience that may unlock his world and allow him to interact like never before?

Character Interview: Leona Buquet from Deep Freeze Christmas by Marian P. Merritt

DeepFreezeChristmas_w11849_png (1)Today’s guest is Leona Buquet from Marian P. Merritt’s Deep Freeze Christmas, one of the excellent Christmas Extravaganza novellas published by White Rose Press. Leona, please tell us a little about yourself, where you live, what you do?

Hello Ms. Fay. Thank you for having me here. I live in New Orleans and work as a Sous Chef at the famous Mayeux’s Restaurant. I grew up on the bayou and my parents moved to our New Orleans Lakefront home when I was eight.

I can imagine that being a sous chef in The Big Easy has to be a very interesting and demanding job, especially apprenticing under Chef Julian Mayeux. What exactly is a sous chef, and how did you become interested in the culinary arts?

A Sous Chef is the second in command in a professional kitchen just under the executive chef. It can be stressful when things don’t go as they should in the kitchen or when the food orders aren’t correct. My interest in the culinary arts began as a child. My grandmother opened a restaurant, Leo’s, in New Orleans on the south shore of Lake Pontchartrain. My dream is to re-open and run that restaurant which was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina

I found you to be a very level-headed woman. When another isn’t very kind, you let it go, and you worked hard to be nice to her. How difficult was it for you to turn the other cheek?

Well, dat hasn’t always been the case! Not too long ago, I would have cut her with a sharp tongue and harsh words. Thankfully, a few years ago, I recommitted my life to Christ and made an effort to really understand what that meant. Chef Julian has helped in that area. In our business we meet people from all walks of life and sometimes, as Chef and I remind one another, we may be the only character of Christ some of them may ever see. Why take the chance and miss that awesome opportunity?

Your story has some misunderstandings in it between you and Mr. Cameron Fleming. I can see how the paths of a man who has been raised in the Hollywood culture would clash with your Deep South spirit. And I loved the twists in your stories, but tell me how does a woman raised in Louisiana find common ground with a man pretty much raised in the Hollywood culture?

I believe Cameron’s formidable years were spent in New Orleans and that ole Southern spirit seeped in there. Despite his glittery environment, deep down Cameron’s spirit is genuine and his faith got derailed for a short while. Our common ground is our faith in Christ. That transcends any geographical or environmental differences.

And, because I’m from the Deep South myself, I have to ask: how does a girl from New Orleans handle the frosty winter days and nights in the Colorado Mountains? Is it a place you think you’d like to visit more often?

My mom asked the same question when I got home! Having never left New Orleans or seen snow, it was one of those life experiences that we all hope to have. I loved the crisp clear air and the way the snow covered so much making for a Winter Wonderland. I enjoyed it and would love to visit again BUT don’t think I could permanently leave my family, Gulf Coast seafood, Chef Julian, and the crazy wild culture of New Orleans. This Cajun gal is perfectly content to eat Shrimp po-boys from the neighborhood café, deal with the humidity in the summer time, and thank God for the time I can share with my family.

Thank you for being with us today, Leona. I look forward Wednesday’s interview with your author, Marian P. Merritt.

More about Deep Freeze Christmas:

Louisiana Chef Leona Buquet agrees to cook at a Colorado mountain lodge during the Christmas holiday. When she meets the son of a movie producer, she is taken by his striking good looks and warm personality. Trouble is, with glamorous actresses clamoring for his attention, why would he even notice Leona?

Cameron Fleming struggles with being in a career he hates in order to please his famous father. When he meets Leona, he feels a connection to her and wants an opportunity to get to know her. That is hard to do while dodging starlets…and the woman he wants is avoiding him.

Can love sizzle, along with the Cajun dishes, in subzero temperatures?

SouthernFriedChristmas_w11200_680 (1)About Southern Fried Christmas, another Christmas Extravaganza novella:

Love: purer than Colorado snow, deeper than a Louisiana bayou.

The Colorado Rockies have always been home to journalist Kelly Shepherd, but after the death of her father, and facing her first Christmas alone, she accepts an assignment that leads her deep into Louisiana’s Cajun country.

Since his wife’s death, Denny Labouve has focused his attention on his ten-year-old daughter and the family business, but Kelly sparks the dying embers of his heart even as a Christmas cold front moves through his beloved Cajun country.

Will Denny and Kelly be able to trust God to bridge the span between the Colorado Rockies and the Louisiana bayou?

a-cajun-christmas-miracle-cover-web-copyAbout A Cajun Christmas Miracle

“Who knows anything about love at seventeen? All those hormones raging, and life decisions to make.”

Thirteen years ago, Mandy St. Pierre and Bridger Mathews were in high school and hopelessly in love. When his parents moved to Colorado in his senior year, Mandy was left behind with a broken heart and a secret. When Bridger never contacted her, she questioned the reality and depth of their love.

While neither has forgotten the other and the deep first love they shared, their lives took different paths. Mandy married and became mother to a child with special needs. Bridger married only to loose his wife to cancer three years later.

Now Mandy and Bridger are thrown together for the wedding of her cousin and his best friend. Mandy, abandoned by her husband, has moved back to Belle Camellia, the River Road, Louisiana plantation home of her youth with Daniel, her three-year-old son who has autism. Bridger is working next door with a rescue horse his best friend has saved.

When Mandy’s son bonds with Bridger and his horse, Mandy is torn. She wrangles with letting Bridger back into her life, letting him into her son’s life, her unnatural fear of horses, and her wavering faith in God.

Through Daniel’s fearless attachment to the horse and Bridger, both Mandy and Bridger are forced to confront the past. Revealed truths present perfect opportunities for forgiveness. Will they let go of the past hurts? Can they open their hearts to trust one another in order to give Daniel an experience that may unlock his world and allow him to interact like never before?

Marian P. Merritt -HeadshotAbout the Author:

Marian Pellegrin Merritt writes stories that blend her love of the mountains with her deep Southern roots. She is an author and freelance writer with over ten years experience. Her work has appeared in newspapers, magazines and online websites and garnered a first place award in ACFW’s Genesis contest.

Marian is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Women’s Fiction Writers Association.

She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in physical therapy and an accounting certificate from the University of South Alabama. This Louisiana native writes from the Northwest Colorado home she shares with her husband and a very spoiled Labradoodle. Connect with her through her Website, Blog, Facebook, Twitter.

Author Interview: Valerie Comer

Valerie-Comer-300x300Inner Source welcomes the return of author Valerie Comer. This week, we’re celebrating the release of Snowflake Tiara, two lovely novellas set in Helena, Montana, 125 years apart written by Valerie and by Angela Breidenbach.

Valerie life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their creation-care-centric church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

Valerie writes Farm Lit where food meets faith, injecting experience laced with humor into her award-winning Farm Fresh Romance stories.

Visit Valerie’s website at  http://valeriecomer.com to sign up for her newsletter and to learn of other links to connect. Also, Valerie and co-author Angela Breidenbach have an interesting Snowflake Tiara page at Pinterest.

Valerie, I’d love to hear how this project came about. Would you mind sharing with our readers the collaboration process between you and co-author, Angela Breidenbach?

Angela and I have known each other for several years, first through ACFW and then through the Inland Northwest Christian Writers Conference IMG_2813we both attend near Spokane, Washington. We decided to write a two-part collection together several years ago, but it took a few months and several Google hangouts to begin to narrow it down to a theme and a setting.

As your readers know, Angela is Mrs. Montana 2009, so she’s a veteran of the pageantry world. I am not, to no one’s surprise! But as we talked, we could see great potential for themes and story lines that we’re both passionate about. Kids in need, for both of us, but for me particularly, real food.

Once Helena was chosen as the location, my husband and I drove to Montana one weekend about a year ago and stayed with Angie and her husband. Angie, Jim, and I made a day trip to explore Helena. We took tons of photos as we explored the State Capitol, the museum, the Cathedral of St Helena, and the mansion district, as well as roamed the downtown area.

IMG_2945After that, our process continued via email, texting, a shared Dropbox folder, and numerous Google hangouts. As we completed story drafts, we’ve critiqued and edited each other’s work. We also talked at length about the publication and marketing processes. (Originally this collection was contracted by Choose Now Publishing, but the contract was canceled due to the house’s choice to focus on nonfiction.) We’ve also gotten together in person several times throughout the past year to keep ourselves focused on a united direction.

IMG_3035What is it that attracted you to Helena and its history that brought about this story?

At first, we talked about targeting the Love Finds You series Summerside Press was producing, as they were doing joint historical-contemporary Christmas books like ours. They were looking for settings in the East, so our first discussions explored various locations there. When Summerside closed, we decided to keep going, even if it meant indie-publishing. Then CNP came in… and out… and again, we forged ahead.

Meanwhile, we’d moved our thoughts closer to home and discovered Helena. We stumbled upon the fact that 2014 was both the city of Helena’s 150th anniversary and the state of Montana’s 125th. We couldn’t let another year go by to release this collection.

Helena was the wealthiest city in the world per capita in 1889. Although we know of no beauty pageants in the West at that time, pageantry had already begun in the East. If any city in the West would have had the nerve to grab that ball and run with it in that era, it would have been Helena. It certainly had the glitz, the glam, and the millionaires needed.

And in the world Angela and I created, that’s exactly what Helena did, through the vision of Albert Shanahan, owner of Tomah Inn.

You are a farmer who has a passion for spreading the word about growing foods that provide nourishment to our bodies. My mother and her mother were exceptional farmers. They could make anything grow, and as a child I was raised on fresh vegetables. For me, though, I have actually killed an entire cactus garden. What advice would you give someone like me who is interested in starting a garden and enjoying the “fruits” of my labor?

Yes, I am a gardener, farmer, and beekeeper, together with my husband, and our son and his family, who live on our 40-acre farm. In this day of genetically modified food designed by international conglomerates, prepackaged mixes full of chemicals, and produce that comes from all parts of the world, many people have lost sight of what real food is. The path our food industry is on scares me, quite frankly.

Anything anyone can do to get closer to the source of what they eat is a good thing. Depending on where you live and how much space you have, you might do the following:

  • Grow a few pots of herbs on your windowsill, and use them often.
  • Grow tomatoes and salad greens on your balcony. Maybe even a pot of pole beans if you can hang string from the balcony above.
  • Ask your front flowerbed to share with a few vegetables.
  • Create a raised bed or two in your backyard and learn about square-foot gardening for compact spaces.

In any event, don’t dig up your whole backyard and expect to go from zero to producing all your food in one year. Gardening can be overwhelming!

In addition to (or instead of) growing some of your own vegetables, try some of these:

  • Learn to cook from scratch, avoiding packages, cans, and mixes.
  • Join an organic box program (CSA—community supported agriculture).
  • Buy from farmers’ markets and roadside stands.
  • Invest in a chest freezer and buy bulk meat from small-scale meat producers in your area, who treat their animals humanely.
  • Learn to can tomatoes and fruit.

In short, take the initiative to control what you’re eating and be sure of the quality, whether you have the time and desire to grow it yourself, or not! Your body will thank you, as will your local economy.

Yes, I could have written a complete blog post on this topic. Wait, I already have! If you or your readers are curious food from a Christian point of view, come on over to my website at www.valeriecomer.com. You’ll find it at the junction where food meets faith.

In Snowflake Tiara (both novellas), the center is on godly missions to help the poor, whether they are homeless children or orphans or young mothers striving to support their children. Can you share with our readers any organizations that might need their contributions of time, talent, or service?

There are so many, it’s hard to know where to begin. But, just as I believe in local food, I believe in local charities, too. Look around your community and see what someone else is doing that you can be a part of. Whether it’s a soup kitchen, a church-run thrift store, a community garden, or a program for underprivileged families, check them out and see what they’re doing, what needs they’re meeting, and if it’s a place you can whole-heartedly support. You may meet some kids and their parents who could use a mentor and a helping hand.

IMG_3055What other projects are in the works for you? We’d love to hear about them.

Since the closure of CNP’s fiction line, I’ve regained the rights to my first two Farm Fresh Romance novels, which I republished independently this summer. My main goal is to bring out four more books to follow Raspberries and Vinegar and Wild Mint Tea in this series. The third book, Sweetened with Honey, is with an editor and will release in November. I’m currently writing the fourth book, Dandelions for Dinner, which I plan to release in early spring.

The Farm Fresh Romance series follows the adventures, romantic and otherwise, of a group of young women who purchase a farm together in northern Idaho with the purpose of growing their own food, living sustainably, and teaching others to do the same.

I’m also releasing Petals and Pedals next year, a contemporary romance set in Victoria, Canada, also with environmental themes. This one was written several years ago and just needs some dedicated work to bring it to a publishable quality. And another trip to Victoria to check out some questions about the setting.

Majai’s Fury, a fantasy novel of forbidden romance amid clashing cultures and religions, released in July. I have several other fantasy novels on my hard drive begging for a chance to be seen in public, but they may have to wait their turn as I have another food-and-farm series ready for center stage when I’m done the Farm Fresh Romance books.

Yes, you’re correct. I could write several books a year for the next two decades and not need another original idea. They are spilling out all over!

Thanks so much for inviting me, Fay! I always love your thoughtful questions, and I hope this interview will be both entertaining and challenging for your readers. God bless!

I loved the interviews with the characters and with you and Angela. You ladies are very interesting, informative, and entertaining, and I have always had a fondness for writers who like to come alongside others and work together.

These interviews have been a great pleasure.

Final book cover ST10More About More Than a Tiara and Snowflake Tiara:

What if you were caught doing something good, but the man you loved didn’t see it that way?

The Debutante Queen by Angela Breidenbach ~ 1889 (Helena, MT): Calista Blythe enters the first Miss Snowflake Pageant celebrating Montana statehood to expose the plight of street urchins. But hiding an indentured orphan could unravel Calista’s reputation, and her budding romance with pageant organizer, Albert Shanahan, if her secret is revealed. Will love or law prevail?

More Than a Tiara by Valerie Comer ~ 2014 (Helena, MT): Marisa Hiller’s interest in competing in Miss Snowflake Pageant for the city of Helena’s 150th anniversary is at zip zero zilch when she discovers the official photographer is Jase Mackie. Can Jase make amends for past mistakes and offer her, not only a tiara, but a partner in her crusade to help needy children and families?

 

Character Interview: Marisa Hiller from More than a Tiara Novella in Snowflake Tiara

Final book cover ST10Our special guest today is Marisa Hiller. She is the great-great-great granddaughter of Monday’s guest, Miss Calista Blythe. Marisa, please tell us about yourself, what you do, where you grew up, and what you value the most.

Hi Fay. Thanks for inviting me to Inner Source. I was born and raised here in Helena, Montana, by a single mom. Times would have been tougher for us if we hadn’t lived on the farm that had been passed down through the family for several generations. We always had a large garden, even when Mom leased out most of the property to neighboring farmers. The value of fresh, real food was instilled in me from early on. We were living evidence you didn’t have to have a lot to eat well and live well.

But like a lot of kids from rural areas, I longed for a faster pace and a more glamorous life. One of my roommates in college modeled part time and got me my first gig. I was hooked! I found the glam I was looking for, and at first, that was enough.

What types of changes have come to Helena, Montana, since Calista’s times?

Wow. A lot! In 1889, Helena was the richest city in the world per capita. You can still see a lot of evidence for that around town. The State Capitol and the Cathedral of St. Helena are two examples of magnificent structures from around the turn of that century with stained glass windows, marvelous murals, and gold inlays. Also, many of the mansions built in that era are still standing and in good repair. Sadly, the Broadwater Hotel and Natatorium no longer exist but for a grassy field on the outskirts of Helena.

The heart of old Helena was Last Chance Gulch where miners desperately sought for gold. Today the gulch is a walking mall—a street that’s been closed to vehicular traffic for several blocks. This section of downtown is where Jase has his photography studio in Mr. Penhaven’s building, not far from the very real Parrot Confectionary and Lucca’s Restaurant that are also featured in my story.

Now Helena is a small but bustling city proud of its heritage and culture. Albert’s fears that it would fall off the map when the gold dried up didn’t come to fruition. Or maybe it survived because the first Miss Snowflake Pageant in 1889 made all the difference! It’s hard to know.

How does one go from being a model, traveling to exotic shoots, being noticed by the fashion world to farming? Do you ever long for the career you had?

One of my life mottoes is from 1 Corinthians 10:31: Whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. The pace and pressures of the modeling world were starting to get to me. When Jase (did I forget to tell you I originally met him on location?) and I started dreaming of a future together, in my mind I saw a different life. In modeling you’re only as sought after as your last shoot, and every model gets older. No, I’m not over the hill yet, but it comes for everyone. Anyway, I was becoming edgy in my spirit, so when Jase made those horrible accusations to me, I ran.

I do everything with gusto. It’s just the way I’m wired. So when I came back to Montana and my mother had just been laid off from her longtime job, it didn’t take much convincing for either of us to do a big one-eighty and start growing organic food for our local CSA. Are you familiar with those? It stands for Community Supported Agriculture. Basically people subscribe to the service for a set fee and receive a box of fresh garden produce every week during the growing season.

Even that wasn’t enough for either Mom or I. We saw a need we could meet when we looked around at the young single moms on social assistance. The kids surely didn’t deserve their life of poverty, and a lot of the moms were desperate to provide something better. Mom and I just tilled up the front lawn at the farm and created a community garden for these young families. We taught them how to grow a garden and preserve the excess. I have to say, it’s been very rewarding.

Do I ever long to go back to modeling? Hmm. I do miss the travel. I love what we’ve accomplished here for our five families, but the world is bigger. There are kids—families—in need everywhere. I wish I could help them all.

Humility is one of the characteristics I would name about you. That doesn’t necessary fit in with a model’s lifestyle as the business is very competitive. I believe God taught you a few things about the concept of humility. Would you care to share how He showed you the value in that characteristic?

Okay, I admit modeling for some of the big fashion companies went to my head for a few years. But when I met Greg and Tammy who are missionaries in Nairobi and saw the needs of the kids living on the streets, the facts of my privileged life struck home. Where I was born (and to whom) was luck of the draw, not because I’d done anything to deserve this favor.

I think, when you really look that squarely in the face, you’re reminded it’s not all about you. That God has given you a responsibility with that privilege.

Of course, just when I was grappling with all that is when Jase accused me of… well, I don’t want to talk about it right now. Enough to say, our breakup was nasty and I headed home to cry in my pillow… and re-evaluate my life.

The path that Calista and Albert set for their future family was changed in the Great Depression, yet that path seemed to be the perfect one for you. Do you think that God will open the door for you to not retrace the path but to have those paths come together again as hotelier and farmer? If so, what purpose do you think God would have for bringing the paths together?

Now that’s an interesting question. I know a few farmers who’ve opened their homes as B&Bs, but our farmhouse is old… and not so much in the charming sense. I can’t see Mom or I wanting to take it that direction.

I did see that the resort our old family inn is a part of was for sale for several years, and I couldn’t help looking at the Realtor listings for it. It was more out of curiosity than a desire to own or operate something like that, but the price tag cured me of even casual interest. Too many zeroes!

So, no, I don’t dream of running an inn or resort. It seems it would tie me down, just when I’m starting to get itchy feet again. Or maybe that would be a good thing! Truly, God only knows.

I entered the Miss Snowflake Pageant reluctantly. Partly because I knew Jase was here as the official photographer, but also because I didn’t want my life disturbed. It’s kind of hard to say no to Bob, though. He’s the director of our CSA and he knew all the right buttons to push to get me to agree to represent the CSA in the pageant.

What happened is exactly as I feared. Too much of Jase, and too much thinking about the world beyond our farm, the CSA, and Helena. But I guess God has a plan for all that, too. It’s always exciting stepping out in faith to see where He leads.

Thank you for sharing with us about your story and about the history your family represents in Helena. I look forward to the return visit tomorrow by your author, Valerie Comer.

More About More Than a Tiara and Snowflake Tiara:

What if you were caught doing something good, but the man you loved didn’t see it that way?

The Debutante Queen by Angela Breidenbach ~ 1889 (Helena, MT): Calista Blythe enters the first Miss Snowflake Pageant celebrating Montana statehood to expose the plight of street urchins. But hiding an indentured orphan could unravel Calista’s reputation, and her budding romance with pageant organizer, Albert Shanahan, if her secret is revealed. Will love or law prevail?

More Than a Tiara by Valerie Comer ~ 2014 (Helena, MT): Marisa Hiller’s interest in competing in Miss Snowflake Pageant for the city of Helena’s 150th anniversary is at zip zero zilch when she discovers the official photographer is Jase Mackie. Can Jase make amends for past mistakes and offer her, not only a tiara, but a partner in her crusade to help needy children and families?

Valerie-Comer-300x300About the Author:

Valerie Comer’s life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local foods movement as well as their creation-care-centric church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

Valerie writes Farm Lit where food meets faith, injecting experience laced with humor into her award-winning Farm Fresh Romance stories.

Visit Valerie’s website at  http://valeriecomer.com to sign up for her newsletter and to learn of other links to connect. Also, Valerie and co-author Angela Breidenbach have an interesting Snowflake Tiara page at Pinterest.

Author Interview: Angela Breidenbach

IMG_0455Today’s guest is Angela Breidenbach, the author of The Debutante Queen one of two novellas in the book Snowflake Tiara. Angela’s novella is historical, set in 1889 Helena, when Montana gained its statehood.

 Angela is a captivating speaker, coach, and author. Angela volunteers as the Christian Author Network’s president. She’s an editor, author, and speaker with Choose Now Publishing; a columnist for Leading Hearts; and an avid volunteer for the Jadyn Fred Foundation that helps Montana children. As Mrs. Montana International 2009, Angela loved promoting her state. As a Montana author it’s one of her favorite places to write about whether in an historical or contemporary setting. Books by Angela Breidenbach set in Montana include Snowflake TiaraEleven Pipers Piping (Sep. 30th, 2014), and A Healing Heart. Yes, quite a few more are coming… Don’t miss A-Muse-ings coming this fall, #Muse’s feline comedy, by popular demand.

Angela’s speaking engagements represented by Choose Now Ministries: 217-215-0515. You can also connect with Angela at her website, on TwitterPinterest, and Facebook. Also, Angela and co-author Valerie Comer have an interesting Snowflake Tiara page at Pinterest.

Angela, I enjoyed the story of this unique heroine who took on the plight of children who were part of The Orphan Train that resulted in the homeless and orphaned children being sent from urban areas to the west. I’d love to know some greater details from your research with regard to this movement that sent these children into indenture.

Hi, Fay! Thank you so much for reading Snowflake Tiara: The Debutante Queen. The Orphan Train often helped place children in adoptive homes and some were truly loving. The utopian idea was to take children out of desperation and place them with healthy farm families. It’s the predecessor of foster placement. But many of those children were either unwanted due to age, sibling groups, or even heritage. They’d been taken off the streets of New York in droves. (An estimated 30,000 children lived on the streets of NYC by the 1850s.)

People would gather as the train came through and choose a child. Some chose the children as workers, not as family members. Some chose to adopt because they wanted a particular boy or girl. But sometimes there were “leftovers” that rode all the way to the end of the line without ever being chosen. Many placements were reasonably successful, but some children were deeply abused. Those kiddos were sometimes runaways, but too often were just not claimed by anyone or later turned out because the family didn’t want the struggle or didn’t bond. They ended up on the streets—and Helena, MT happened to be the end of their train ride.

According to the Children’s Aid Society, the Orphan Train children were not indentured. But some children came with indentured parents to Helena (particularly women paying off their train fares lured with the promise of working as a maid or waitress then found they’d been snookered by a madam, and though the child hadn’t signed the papers, they were saddled with the legal responsibility of the parent because there weren’t laws to protect children at that time.) Some people felt placing a child into an indentured situation was humane to give them a trade. And some lived on the streets when a home didn’t work out. Helena eventually built a home—and that will be in the next story, Eleven Pipers Piping, releasing Sep. 30th.

I did read a lot about the Orphan Trains from both the Children’s Aid Society and Montana’s information from a special Montana Room in my local library. Valerie and I visited the museum in Helena too.

In the story, the heroine struggles with what is legal and what is moral. What would you say to a reader who might be facing a situation where someone is calling him or her to do what’s legal, but the legalities stand in the face of Scripture?

This is such a tough question for anyone to answer. But I believe we’re called to follow God’s sense of justice even if worldly laws disagree with God’s. I think it’s terrifying to disobey a law made by man when we are aware of the ramifications, but I have to hope that I’d do just what Calista did. When I make a decision, I imagine myself standing in front of God. I want Him to smile on me. I make my decisions based on God’s reaction, not man’s. And sometimes that isn’t popular. But I’ve never yet been in the situation of actually breaking a law to follow God’s. If I ever am, I pray that God will give me the courage to act in His will and love and not based on my fear of man’s laws.

This story takes place in and around the inaugural for the first governor of the State of Montana (not to be confused with the territorial governors appointed previously) and with Christmas festivities in Helena, Montana, 1889. Did you learn any special trivia that you’d like to share with our readers?

Oh yes! I searched and searched and searched for the inaugural ball date that Mr. Broadwater promised. He’d promised (and it was recorded in the newspaper by a reporter) to drain the Broadwater natatorium, put in a dance floor, and invite five thousand people to the inaugural ball for the new governor. That never happened. But it took me a few months to figure out why. The first week of statehood, the democrats and the republicans dissolved into major battles. They couldn’t even sit in the same room! So Broadwater never held the event. But the high society ladies of Helena, MT were so annoyed at the men they held a progressive party that went from salon to salon on January 1st, 1890. The party happened during a major cold spell, but they went from house to house all day celebrating the new year, new statehood, and that the women had so much more sense than the men! Totally cracked me up when I finally found that little snippet in an old history book in the Montana Room of the Missoula Public Library. I still smile when I think of those irritated ladies. I wouldn’t want to be one of those husbands getting an earful at each house! I think this is one of my very favorite historical tidbits about Montana—ever!

Something unique happens to your antagonist. I actually loved the outcome, and what occurred happened because of the actions of the heroine. In your life, have you found that standing strong in the face of adversity and sticking to your cause has made a difference in the lives of someone who has made life difficult for you?

I am so, so honored that you liked that twist! I want to believe people can choose to change. When I was in junior high, I had quite the bully after me. She was new to the school. I never saw her, never met her, never even knew she existed. Suddenly she started a rumor that I’d called someone a name (ironically, I never used that kind of language and everyone knew it). But it was junior high. Eventually I had to stand up to her because a group surrounded us on the playground. I’d have kept avoiding her, personally. And I really didn’t have a clue how to stand up to a bully. I refused to fight. I hadn’t done what I’d been accused of and I didn’t believe fighting would solve it. She grabbed my long hair and decked me. I walked away and into the school, humiliated. In my mind, every kid in school watched that happen to me. I drew on that feeling when I wrote Calista’s fear of performing in public due to previous ridicule. My friends had abandoned me because they didn’t want to get dragged into the fight. I felt unjustly targeted and very alone. I was thirteen and had just barely started making friends. So this was devastating to me.

Later, we were both suspended. Our mothers agreed to force me to spend time with the bully—at her home! Talk about pushing me into the fire! But I learned how badly she was treated by her family. I learned why she thought rudeness and violence garnered attention. It was miserable to watch and to experience. I learned compassion for her, though we never became real friends because I couldn’t build trust toward her. I worked hard to remember to smile at everyone so people didn’t feel snubbed. I felt (at thirteen) afraid that someone would even think I’d snubbed them. So I thought about the bully, and how I reacted to her to protect myself as a teen, as I built the character of Dora and the interaction with Calista. I saw vulnerability in that young bully that I wished she could have explored.

Though we were never close friends, I did see that girl get a little nicer over the years. When she saw me in high school, she’d say hi. I’d return the greeting. And that was as far as a relationship could go that started with lies, violence, and distrust. I don’t know where she is today, but I’d like to think she continued to become someone she could be happy with, and that she’d let go of the false front to be genuinely herself. Sometimes I pray for her because she still comes to mind. So many years later, I really wouldn’t mind having a coffee with her. I’d like to know how things turned out.

I’d love to hear what other works or projects you have planned in the future. Please share those with our readers.

Coming on Sep. 30th, Eleven Pipers Piping releases. It’s a continuing story from The Debutante Queen of Frankie and Joey. But it’s told through the eyes of another debutante, Mirielle Sheehan. I really fell in love with the newsies and their incredible influence on Helena, MT. But I honestly couldn’t leave Frankie and Joey out in the cold. So Mirielle is given the ultimatum of shaping up the street boys she’s cared for (since helping Calista) or watching them be placed either into indenture for a trade or sent to military school. But one of the boys isn’t like the others…and just who is his father?

Another project in the works is a comedy book with #Muse. He’s my feline investigative reporter that likes to entertain on Facebook. We’ve been asked numerous times for a book of his top humor vignettes and so we are going to do it. I’m not yet sure of the release date, but it should be this fall, in time for Christmas. Stay tuned!

Beyond that, I love to talk. So what better thing to do than have a radio talk show? In October, I’ll be introducing a new iTunes radio show called Grace Under Pressure: Becoming a woman of confidence, courage, and candor. And oh boy, talk about stretching my comfort zone!!

Angela, thank you for visiting with us at Inner Source. I loved the tidbits of Montana history and learning about the Orphan Train, and I enjoyed both of the novellas in Snowflake Tiara, and look forward to meeting Calista’s great-great-great granddaughter on Thursday. On Friday, Valerie Comer will be sharing about More than a Tiara the second novella in the book.

Final book cover ST10More About Debutante Queen and Snowflake Tiara:

What if you were caught doing something good, but the man you loved didn’t see it that way?

The Debutante Queen by Angela Breidenbach ~ 1889 (Helena, MT): Calista Blythe enters the first Miss Snowflake Pageant celebrating Montana statehood to expose the plight of street urchins. But hiding an indentured orphan could unravel Calista’s reputation, and her budding romance with pageant organizer, Albert Shanahan, if her secret is revealed. Will love or law prevail?

More Than a Tiara by Valerie Comer ~ 2014 (Helena, MT): Marisa Hiller’s interest in competing in Miss Snowflake Pageant for the city of Helena’s 150th anniversary is at zip zero zilch when she discovers the official photographer is Jase Mackie. Can Jase make amends for past mistakes and offer her, not only a tiara, but a partner in her crusade to help needy children and families?

Meet Calista Blythe the heroine of The Debutante Queen

Author Interview: Paula Mowery

Paula MoweryPaula Mowery is our special guest today as we continue this week. Paula is a published author, acquisitions editor, and speaker. Her first two published works were The Blessing Seer and Be The Blessing from Pelican Book Group. Both are women’s fiction, and their themes have been the topics of speaking engagements. In November of 2013, her first romance released in the anthology, Brave New Century, from Prism Book Group. Legacy and Love is her first solo romance. Reviewers of her writing characterize it as “thundering with emotion.” Her articles have appeared in Woman’s World, The Christian Online Magazine, and the multi-author devotional blog, Full Flavored Living.

As an acquisitions editor for Prism Book Group, Paula particularly looks for romance stories with Christian values at its core. She’s especially attracted to those manuscripts that leave the reader mulling over the story long after turning the last page.

Having been an avid reader of Christian fiction, she now puts that love to use by writing book reviews. She is a member of ACFW and is on the author interview team.

Paula is a pastor’s wife and mom to a first year college student. She homeschooled her daughter through all twelve years, and they both lived to tell about it. Before educating her daughter at home, she was an English teacher in public school.

About the Author: 

Paula Mowery is a published author, acquisitions editor, and speaker. Her first two published works were The Blessing Seer and Be The Blessing from Pelican Book Group. Both are women’s fiction, and their themes have been the topics of speaking engagements. In November of 2013, her first romance released in the anthology, Brave New Century, from Prism Book Group. Legacy and Love is her first solo romance. Reviewers of her writing characterize it as “thundering with emotion.” Her articles have appeared in Woman’s World, The Christian Online Magazine, and the multi-author devotional blog, Full Flavored Living.

As an acquisitions editor for Prism Book Group, Paula particularly looks for romance stories with Christian values at its core. She’s especially attracted to those manuscripts that leave the reader mulling over the story long after turning the last page.

Having been an avid reader of Christian fiction, she now puts that love to use by writing book reviews. She is a member of ACFW and is on the author interview team.

Paula is a pastor’s wife and mom to a first year college student. She homeschooled her daughter through all twelve years, and they both lived to tell about it. Before educating her daughter at home, she was an English teacher in public school.

You can follow Paula at Facebook. Learn more about Paula at her blog at  or enjoy her monthly columns in Christian Online Magazine.

Paula, thank you for being here with us today. I could talk your ear off about this book, not because of the romance—and the romance is nice—but because of the grandmother factor. I had the greatest grandmother in the world. She invested time in me, spent time with me, and she actually stood in the breach for my absent father. So, I’m very interested in knowing if you wrote Legacy of Love because you had a grandmother like Olivia and Mimi from the novellas or for another reason.

Oh yes, I had wonderful, godly grandmothers. It is out of the fact that they left a godly legacy that I came to write these two novellas. At this time in my life, with a daughter homeschooled and now in college, I’ve examined whether I am leaving that same godly heritage. In the times that we live today it seems that there are many other voices that want to refute Christ and His relevance in and for our lives. I feel an urgency to be intentional about passing on a faith in Jesus Christ and following Him throughout life.

Both Alex and Hope, the heroines of Inheritance and The Prayer Shawl, respectively, inherited something from their grandmothers. I’m not talking about material things, but those things that are spiritual and longer lasting than what we have here on earth. What would you say are some of the greatest things a grandparent can pass on to a grandchild? Were you the recipient of such gifts?

One of the greatest things a grandparent can pass on is a genuine, lived-out faith. That is what I saw in my grandmothers.

My maternal grandmother, or mamaw, was the one who sewed, quilted, crocheted, canned. You name it; she did it. And then she shared these things with others. She was always sending a jar of apple butter or pickles to someone or sending them a crocheted afghan for their couch. These were tangible ways she showed others that she cared for them and prayed for them. Even though she was in extreme pain from arthritis, she was always in her pew at church. I crack up to remember the way she had to put on her panty hose for church. She couldn’t bend forward so she rolled up the leg of the hose, flopped onto her stomach, reached behind her, and looped the hose onto her foot. Then she flipped over and finished the job. What determination!

In your novella, is there a key scripture or biblical concept that you explore? If so, what scripture or concept do you hope to bright to the light for your readers in each story?

I have to say that Jeremiah 29:11 comes to mind when I think of these two novellas. Most people are familiar with that verse about the fact that God has plans not to harm but to prosper us and to give us a hope and a future. I feel that both of these novellas have this verse at their very core. I want readers to know that God has a plan and a purpose for each of His children. He just needs us to acknowledge and follow. God wants to give us a future that we can’t even imagine.

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

Can you believe it? My work in progress deals once again with a grandmother leaving that godly legacy for a granddaughter again. Must be something God is trying to get across to someone—maybe me. The main character in this story must learn that God’s Word can be trusted to lead and guide through life.

I’ve also joined with some other authors for a couple of devotional books that I’m excited about.

You’re hearing it first here: I have actually been contemplating a companion study for Legacy and Love. My two other books, The Blessing Seer and Be The Blessing, both have Bible studies at the end. I feel that Legacy and Love lends itself to a study of prayer and godly legacy. We’ll see.

Thank you so much for this opportunity to share about Legacy and Love and its background.

Thank you for being with us, and I hope you’ll come back and visit us when your other projects are released.

LegacyandLove_ebook2 copy (427x640)About the novella, Inheritance, from Love and Legacy:

Alex Lyndon’s life has been a series of fits and starts with no finishes. She finds herself jobless and divorced. Now her only family, Granny Olivia, is critically ill.

Chase Carson had to step into running the family business when his father died. The time is past due to visit Miss Olivia.

Alex and Chase must go on a treasure hunt. Will each find purpose and love for their lives in the process?

About the novella, The Prayer Shawl, from Love and Legacy:

Sean Holland is a magazine reporter always looking for the next story. Hope Weaver is a pediatric nurse who shares Christ through making prayer shawls. The shawls are just the touchy-feely story Sean needs, even though he’ll have to endure Hope’s strong Christian beliefs to get it. An unexpected connection brings them together as a couple. But, can they find love if they don’t share their faith?

Be sure to catch Monday’s interview  with Alexa Lyndon and Hope Weaver, the heroines of the novellas that make up Legacy and Love.

A Ruby Christmas Guest Author Jerusha Agen

Jerusha0040 (cropped) (2)Today, author Jerusha Agen shares some “behind the scenes” information about A Ruby Christmas.  Jerusha is a lifelong lover of story–a passion that has led her to a B.A. in English and a highly varied career. She is the author of the Sisters Redeemed Series and co-author of the novellas A Ruby Christmas and A Dozen Apologies (releasing with Write Integrity Press, February 2014).  Jerusha is also a screenwriter, and several of her original scripts have been produced as films. In addition, Jerusha is a film critic, with reviews featured at the website, www.RedeemerReviews.com.

Visit Jerusha’s website at www.SDGwords.com. Follow Jerusha on Twitter @SDGwords and Facebook (Jerusha Agen – SDG Words).

While many people consider the Christmas holiday season to be their favorite time of the year, not even all of these Christmas lovers match that sentiment with their actions. Those who work in retail will be able to tell you that dread grips their hearts when the first green and red merchandise arrives and Christmas sales begin. The reason for this foreboding? Retail employees know they’re about to see the worst in people emerge, turning their customers the same color as the red bows that decorate the store over things like the price of a cute Santa dress or the scarcity of the latest Elmo toy.

Yes, this festive time of year is often sullied by short tempers, hectic schedules, and mixed-up priorities. But the sad fact is that people are not always lovable the rest of the year either. In my chapter of A Ruby Christmas, Ruby Joy Buckner faces a population of humans that are often considered among the least lovable in the world—New Yorkers. The encounters that Texas cowgirl Ruby has with “sophisticated” New Yorkers are often funny, sometimes unpleasant, and even frightening.

Ruby reacts as I’ve been tempted to do myself at times when I’ve encountered difficult people—she hides. When I get hurt, or perhaps meet a socially awkward person, someone who is particularly needy, or someone who is downright rude, my instinctive reaction is usually one of self-preservation. How much easier is it to retreat than to be the one who faces up to the cantankerous customer? Or how about when the friend who has never been there for you needs your help for the hundredth time?

As an introvert, I’ve had to think a lot about the issue of relationships and how crucial they are to our lives as Christians, even when I, in my introvert attitude, would rather not see them that way. I had the opportunity to write about that very topic on this same blog earlier this year. I don’t often love people in the general sense, but perhaps many extroverts don’t either. People can be hard to love.

Writing about Ruby’s experience with the people of New York City gave me a chance to delve deeper into this topic and explore what the Christian’s attitude should be toward all people. If the notoriously cold residents of New York City want to brush rudely by or not offer help when assistance is needed, then isn’t it fine, and even more culturally acceptable to do the same to them? After all, if people don’t care if they have your love, why offer it? And, in this day and age, we have to protect ourselves and our closest loved ones from the worsening people around us, right?

As tempting as it is to use those seemingly logical points to guide my response to people, the Bible doesn’t give much credence to social acceptability, doing only to others what they do to you, or protecting ourselves (emotionally or physically) at the expense of others. When I try to get better at having a Christian attitude toward people I have trouble with, I tend to aim for the basics: help the poor (Matthew 25:40), help the widows and orphans (James 1:27), turn the other cheek when someone mildly hurts me (Matthew 5:39). On a good day, I can even try to forgive someone for a repeated offense or annoying behavior (Matthew 18:21-23). But is that enough?

What if love is required? Love of the unlovable. Love of the people God created in His own image. The God of the universe Who came as a baby to live and die for the sins of His chosen children did so while we were still his enemies (Romans 5:10). He did so because of His unmatched love for us. But that’s God. What can we do? Ruby finds out in her New York adventure. Check out Chapter Five in A Ruby Christmas for more!

About Jerusha Agen’s Sisters Redeemed series:

This_Dance_FRONT_COVER_smaller (for promo use)This Dance

No love, no pain. No God, no games.

A tragedy three years ago destroyed Nye’s rise to the top of the dancing world as an upcoming tango star, and in the process destroyed her reason for living. She survived the pain and built a new life resembling nothing like the one she left behind, determined never to hurt again.

Nye’s emotional walls hold up perfectly until she meets a handsome lawyer and an elderly landowner. They seem harmless, but one awakens feelings she doesn’t want and the other makes her face the God she can’t forgive. Will these two men help Nye dance again?

This Dance is available at Amazon.com and other book retailers.

This_Shadow_FRONT_COVER (660x1024)This Shadow

She’s famous for her upbeat outlook. Then the world goes black.

Oriana Sanders is always happy. And why shouldn’t she be? She enjoys a close relationship with God and a purpose-filled career teaching troubled kids. She even has the potential for romance in her sister’s friend, Nicanor, whose dark good looks and brooding manner make him an intriguing project for Oriana.

Oriana’s attempts to reach Nicanor with the joy of the Lord are brought to a halt when a confrontation with her student’s drug-dealing brother ends in tragedy. Facing darkness she has never known, can Oriana learn to forgive the unforgivable and find her way through the shadows to the light? This Shadow is available at Amazon.com

A Ruby Christmas A Ruby Christmas FULL COVER

Ruby Joy Buckner, cowgirl, has never left the Lone Star State, but at her father’s request, she takes her faithful canine companion and travels the world in search of Nativity pieces. As Ruby collects the pieces, she also collects a few unexpected surprises, including an awareness of the beauty in other cultures, and quite a menagerie of new friends, thanks in part to Yippee Ti Yi Yo who charms everyone they meet.

Ruby’s budding awareness of life outside Texas opens her eyes to a world of whimsy, and the Nativity pieces she collects are unusual. Will her father approve her eclectic collection … and the changes that travel brought to Ruby’s life?

Jerusha’s chapter of A Ruby Christmas is posted on the Write Integrity Press blog. We hope you’ll also take part in our Altered Photo Contest. Check out the unaltered photos posted each day on the Write Integrity Press blog and then visit that day’s author’s website (Today you’ll visit Jerusha’s website) for a look at the altered photo. Keep a list because on December 13, we’ll ask you to send in your list. Those with the most correct answers will be eligible for a drawing. The prize? A bundle of all of our books in PRINT and DIGITAL (for giving and/or keeping) formats. The winner will be announced Tuesday, December 17, but rest assured, the books will be shipped in time for Christmas. (Continental U.S. Residents only for print books. If an international winner is chosen, they may receive two sets of digital books for gift giving).

Last year’s Write Integrity Press novella: The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt is also available on Kindle.