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Interview with Cynthia T. Toney, Author of 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status

Toney, Cynthia- 006 3x5 BW.ret2.cropToday’s guest is Cynthia T. Toney, who is here to discuss her second book in her Bird Face series. I’m a big fan of Cynthia’s work, having had the pleasure of reading the first book in her series before publication, and I have championed her writing since that time. 

Cynthia is the author of the Bird Face series for teens, including 8 Notes to a Nobody and 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status. She’s always had trouble following directions and keeping her foot out of her mouth, so it’s probably best that she is now self-employed. In her spare time, when she’s not cooking Cajun or Italian food, Cynthia grows herbs and makes silk throw pillows. If you make her angry, she will throw one at you. A pillow, not an herb. Well, maybe both.  Cynthia has a passion for rescuing dogs from animal shelters and encourages others to adopt a pet from a shelter and save a life. She enjoys studying the complex history of the friendly southern U.S. from Georgia to Texas, where she resides with her husband and several canines. She is a member of ACFW, Writers on the Storm (The Woodlands, TX), and Catholic Writers Guild.

You can connect with Cynthia on her website, her blog, her Facebook Author Page, and on Twitter.

Welcome back to Inner Source, Cynthia. Wow! Book Two. Tell me how it feels to have Wendy step into high school for the first time?

Hi, Fay. It’s great to be back!

I must admit that Wendy was better prepared for high school than I was at her age. The summer between eighth and ninth grades taught her a lot, and I expected more of her than I did of myself at the start of high school. I loved the thirteen-year-old Wendy but was ready for her to experience new, more mature things, to see how she’d handle them.

I’ve said this to you before, but I have been captivated by the ability of your stories to transcend generations. When I walked into school with Wendy, I felt as if I experienced déjà vu with regard to some things, but other things have changed. I won’t tell you my generation if you don’t tell me yours, but what do you think is different about teenagers and schools even within the last twenty years?

Teenagers now have so much to handle. I first noticed it when my daughter was in high school. I don’t know if, as a teen, I could have juggled all the things some of them do these days. Not only is there more to learn academically, but teens are expected to participate in many extracurricular activities. The pressure to acquire material things seems greater, so many of them choose to work an after-school or weekend job to keep up with new technology products, for example. They have much more worry regarding their safety around strangers. And of course, the drug problem has grown.

I write for teens to show them how wonderful and powerful God made them. In spite of all their accomplishments, teens I’ve known have demonstrated that they don’t feel loved.

The story is about Wendy’s steps to girlfriend status. I’m really interested in hearing how you, as a writer, developed that list. Did anything that went on that list, surprise you?

*Chuckle* Unlike boys, a girl often reads signs of a potentially serious relationship into the most minor kinds of attention a boy might pay her. That idea prompted the list. I don’t think anything on the list surprised me. I just developed Wendy and David’s relationship as I thought it might in real life between two kids with pretty good heads on their shoulders. But I wanted readers to understand how important real friendship with a boy is in developing an emotionally healthy romance. If I had revealed that early in the story, it wouldn’t have made for as much fun.

I had a recent conversation with a friend and her teenage daughter about dating, and particularly about dating more than one person at a time. I’ve noticed that girls fall in love more quickly and easily, and when they develop strong feelings about that first boy, they think he’s “the one.” Boys don’t seem to think that way, and it usually takes getting to know several girls before there’s a special one.

I disagree with some of my friends in that I think a teenage girl should not limit herself to going out with only one boy at a time. If she’s honest with the young men she’s seeing, and she is upfront about what dating means to her (friendship and going out for good, clean fun—not sex), then that’s the best way not to fall into the trap of becoming too quickly attached to one boy. How can she learn what God wants her to learn about the opposite sex and eventually make a choice pleasing to Him if she doesn’t allow herself to meet and date a number of worthy young men?

You introduce a new character who has a handicap. I’ve heard that you’ve been able to make some great connections in this regard, and I’d love for you to share them with our readers in case they might want to make a connection with you.

Right now, two interesting people are reading 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status to evaluate its potential for the deaf community. One gentleman is an educator of deaf students in a mainstream school environment. The other person is a mother who is deaf but has both hearing and deaf children.

I want to find out how deaf readers will respond to my deaf teen character, who is deaf but also speaks and reads lips. He and Wendy do not communicate using ASL (American Sign Language) because she does not have time to learn it before they become friends. I plan to have her try to learn ASL in the next book.

My concern for the book’s acceptance in the deaf community is that the deaf designate as “oral” anyone who speaks and reads lips rather than relying solely on signing. The deaf generally do not regard deafness as a handicap but rather as a way of life, with ASL as the preferred method of communication. But sometimes a deaf person speaks and reads lips in communicating with the hearing if he or she was not born deaf but became deaf later and retained the ability to speak.

There is a lot for me to learn even though I worked among deaf adults for a number of years. I love American Sign Language and think it’s a beautiful and fun language to learn. If anyone who reads 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status would like to contact me to discuss my deaf teen character, is a deaf teen, or has experience with deaf teens, I would love to hear from them.

Email birdfacewendy@gmail.com.

Last question: is there anything coming for Wendy or any other stories on the horizon that you can share with us?

I’m in the process of completing the third book of the Bird Face series, with the working title 6 Dates to Disaster. All your favorite characters from books one and two will be there.

Another project dear to my heart that I wrote while seeking a publisher for my first book is called The Other Side of Freedom. It’s a coming-of-age historical with a young male protagonist. Set in the 1920s within an immigrant farming community, it’s about as different from the Bird Face series as one can imagine.

Thank you, Cynthia. I’m looking forward to reading more of your wonderful YA novels.

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status FC MedMore About 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status:

Wendy Robichaud is on schedule to have everything she wants in high school: two loyal best friends, a complete and happy family, and a hunky boyfriend she’s had a crush on since eighth grade–until she and Mrs. Villaturo look at old photo albums together. That’s when Mrs. V sees her dead husband and hints at a 1960s scandal down in Cajun country. Faster than you can say “crawdad,” Wendy digs into the scandal and into trouble. She risks losing boyfriend David by befriending Mrs. V’s deaf grandson, alienates stepsister Alice by having a boyfriend in the first place, and upsets her friend Gayle without knowing why. Will Wendy be able to prevent Mrs. V from being taken thousands of miles away? And will she lose all the friends she’s fought so hard to gain?

8 Notes to a NobodyAbout 8 Notes to a Nobody:

“Funny how you can live your days as a clueless little kid, believing you look just fine … until someone knocks you in the heart with it.”

Wendy Robichaud doesn’t care one bit about being popular like good-looking classmates Tookie and the Sticks–until Brainiac bully John-Monster schemes against her, and someone leaves anonymous sticky-note messages all over school. Even the best friend she always counted on, Jennifer, is hiding something and pulling away. But the spring program, abandoned puppies, and high school track team tryouts don’t leave much time to play detective. And the more Wendy discovers about the people around her, the more there is to learn.When secrets and failed dreams kick off the summer after eighth grade, who will be around to support her as high school starts in the fall?

8 Notes to a Nobody received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval. In its original edition, Bird Face, it won a 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, bronze, in the category Pre-teen Fiction Mature Issues.

Character Interview: Wendy Robichaud from 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status by Cynthia T. Toney

10 Steps to Girlfriend Status FC MedToday’s guest is Wendy Robichaud. Wendy is back for another interview now that she is starring in her second novel, 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status, written by Cynthia T. Toney. Wendy, tell the readers what you’ve been doing since your first novel, 8 Notes to a Nobody a/k/a Bird Face.

In this first semester of high school, Gayle has become one of my two best friends! If you remember Gayle, she was one of the Brainiacs in eighth grade who hung around with John (John-Monster). When John committed suicide, Gayle was devastated, and I wanted so much to help her get through her grief. I got to know her better, and we are both on the track team. But there’s even more to our relationship than meets the eye.

Of course, I remain interested in animal rescue and also enjoy helping my puppy, Belle, grow up healthy and happy.

This story finds you on the verge of a whole new life, not only starting high school, but other things are going on. Would you like to tell us about some of those changes?

I’m so happy for my mom because she has found the perfect man to love and spend the rest of her life with. He is Daniel, Alice’s father, so that’s even more special for me. Alice reached out to me in eighth grade, and she has enriched my life. Now she, her father, and her little brother are part of my family. Alice and I have our differences, but I wouldn’t want to be without my new sister.

My relationship with my real dad has continued to improve. I thank God that Dad found Alcoholics Anonymous.

I have worked to get over most of my shyness, learning to reach out to people and express myself well. I slip up and say something totally Bird Face at times, but I’m doing better.

David, the boy I had a crush on in eighth grade, has started asking me out. I am thrilled!

I remember my early high school years. I was scared to death. One of my biggest fears still haunts my dreams today—the high school locker combination. I still remember it, and … uh-hum … many years later, I dream that I’m late for class, and I can’t get the combination to work. I’d like to know if there is anything that frightens you about entering high school.

Remembering where your locker and classes are located can be a challenge in a big school during those first few days! Going from being one of the oldest kids in school to one of the youngest is scary, too. There are always people who try to make someone else feel bad, but I’m working on not letting that get to me.

You have a little family mystery going on. I don’t want you to give it away, but I’d love to know what you learned that had you hunting for answers.

Wow, I’ve always been such a curious person who can’t ignore a mystery, especially if it involves me personally or someone in my family. Do you think that’s because I grew up as an only child? Anyway, I love looking at old photos. I sometimes feel that I’m right there with the people in the setting of the photo. It’s their eyes that draw me in. Well, when my neighbor and surrogate grandmother, Mrs. Villaturo, showed me a photo of herself with two of my family members I didn’t even know she knew—and one I’d never heard of—you can imagine how I simply had to find out more.

I have to tell you. Number ten on your list made me go, “Ahh …” I couldn’t think of anything else to add to the list, but I’m wondering if after reaching number ten, if you have found there might be a number eleven, and if so, what might it be?

I think Step 11 might be “Agreeing to have God in our lives.” Once you get to know a boy as a friend, you should know where he stands on the subject of God. Often girls forget about that when they fall for a guy.

That’s definitely an awesome bit of advice.

Thank you for coming back to talk with me, Wendy. I look forward to speaking with your author, Cynthia T. Toney, later this week.

More About 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status:

Wendy Robichaud is on schedule to have everything she wants in high school: two loyal best friends, a complete and happy family, and a hunky boyfriend she’s had a crush on since eighth grade–until she and Mrs. Villaturo look at old photo albums together. That’s when Mrs. V sees her dead husband and hints at a 1960s scandal down in Cajun country. Faster than you can say “crawdad,” Wendy digs into the scandal and into trouble. She risks losing boyfriend David by befriending Mrs. V’s deaf grandson, alienates stepsister Alice by having a boyfriend in the first place, and upsets her friend Gayle without knowing why. Will Wendy be able to prevent Mrs. V from being taken thousands of miles away? And will she lose all the friends she’s fought so hard to gain?

8 Notes to a NobodyAbout 8 Notes to a Nobody:

“Funny how you can live your days as a clueless little kid, believing you look just fine … until someone knocks you in the heart with it.”

Wendy Robichaud doesn’t care one bit about being popular like good-looking classmates Tookie and the Sticks–until Brainiac bully John-Monster schemes against her, and someone leaves anonymous sticky-note messages all over school. Even the best friend she always counted on, Jennifer, is hiding something and pulling away. But the spring program, abandoned puppies, and high school track team tryouts don’t leave much time to play detective. And the more Wendy discovers about the people around her, the more there is to learn.When secrets and failed dreams kick off the summer after eighth grade, who will be around to support her as high school starts in the fall?

8 Notes to a Nobody received the Catholic Writers Guild Seal of Approval. In its original edition, Bird Face, it won a 2014 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award, bronze, in the category Pre-teen Fiction Mature Issues.

Toney, Cynthia- 006 3x5 BW.ret2.cropAbout the Author:

Cynthia T. Toney is the author of the Bird Face series for teens, including 8 Notes to a Nobody and 10 Steps to Girlfriend Status. She’s always had trouble following directions and keeping her foot out of her mouth, so it’s probably best that she is now self-employed. In her spare time, when she’s not cooking Cajun or Italian food, Cynthia grows herbs and makes silk throw pillows. If you make her angry, she will throw one at you. A pillow, not an herb. Well, maybe both.  Cynthia has a passion for rescuing dogs from animal shelters and encourages others to adopt a pet from a shelter and save a life. She enjoys studying the complex history of the friendly southern U.S. from Georgia to Texas, where she resides with her husband and several canines. She is a member of ACFW, Writers on the Storm (The Woodlands, TX), and Catholic Writers Guild.

You can connect with Cynthia on her website, her blog, her Facebook Author Page, and on Twitter.

 

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

Meet the Heroes of Unlikely Merger: Reuben Miller

Los Angeles City Skyline At Night

Today, I’d like to introduce Reuben “Rube” Miller, today’s hero from Unlikely Merger.

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

I was born right at Cedars Sinai and raised around the L.A. Metro. When I got into the music industry and all that, next door to Hollywood was a good place for me to stay planted. While I’ve traveled around the world for my work, the City of Angels has always been my home base. At this point, though, I could go anywhere. Colorado, maybe?

When I’m not working, my life isn’t nearly as exciting as people expect. My clubbing days are over, and I’m not a big spender. Most of my extended family is still in the area. We’re close and get together as much as we can. I’ve found a good church where I can be involved behind the scenes. And I spend a lot of time hiding out around my house. I try to attract as little attention as possible, honestly, because it always turns into too much, and it’s almost never good.

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.

Mercy is a lovely lady. Sweet, smart, and real. I loved that she didn’t recognize the “rock star” me. That doesn’t happen often, and it was charming.

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

How she held onto my hand so tightly during the earthquake. It was electric.

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

I’ve never met anyone quite like Mercy. I meet a lot of people in my line of work, but she stands out. She’s smart, clever, conscientious, helpful, and—sometimes—vulnerable. She’s willing to face her fears and insecurities and grow as a person.

My life is changing a lot right now. I want the chance to focus on others instead of whatever Hollywood and the world-at-large thinks of me. I want to follow Jesus wherever he takes me. Mercy is the sort of person I’d want by my side in the future I dream about and pray for.

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.

I kept her calm during an earthquake, so I think she’d feel safe with me. I see her strength and her beauty, and I value what she has to offer not only to a husband but to others who need a kind heart, a smile, or an open ear. I’d make sure she had opportunities to share that with people who needed it.

I could give her a life where she’ll always be able dream, grow, take on challenges, and go on adventures. I share her values of following Jesus, staying close with family, and being active, so I think we’re a good match, lifestyle-wise. Besides, we’d have a lot of fun together. Who doesn’t want that?

In case you haven’t been reading the hero’s interviews, and you’d like to know more about Unlikely Merger, you can read Reuben’s chapter, and all of the hero’s chapters at Write Integrity Press.

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?

Reuben’s story can be read at Write Integrity Press today.

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, and Steve Leclerc.

More from our authors:

Marji Laine: Shake It Up

Julie Arduini: Our Business Influences Part 4

Jennifer Hallmark: Your Comfort Zone by Raelee May Carpenter

Unlikely Merger: Behind the Scenes of the Newest Write Integrity Press Multi-Author Novella

Unlikely Merger Cover

Unlikely Merger is the title of the most recent Write Integrity Press multi-author collaboration novella. While Write Integrity Press has completed two multi-author Christmas novellas (The Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt and A Ruby Christmas) and a stand alone collection of Valentine stories called Hearts Bouquets, Unlikely Merger is the third in a unique series.

What makes these so unique? I’m glad you asked because there are a variety of answers.

The first novella in this series was released for Valentines 2014. A Dozen Apologies was born from my imagination, which is unique in itself. As I have posted many times, I am the least romantic of romance writers. I don’t have a romantic bone in my body. The idea for the first novella actually came from a memory of a game I used to play called The Dating Game. Not the one on television, but some of my generation might remember this game. The board had a door in the middle of it, and when directed the player would open the door and see who her date would be. My favorite guy behind the doorA DOZEN APOLOGIES FINAL FRONT COVER (282x425) was the one referred to as the loser. That tells you how romantic I can be. Anyway, A Dozen Apologies is the story of Mara Adkins, a Southern Belle who was less than a charmer in high school and college. Oh, she was beautiful–on the outside. Inside? Not so lovely to behold. When Christ got hold of her heart, though, Mara changed, and she also felt God’s leading to apologize to a dozen men she’d hurt by playing cruel tricks on them in college.

The stories were also made unique by our publisher who posted the first chapters on Write Integrity’s website one day at a time. This is where the first chapter of Unlikely Merger is posted today. After the readers met each of the heroes of the story, the readers voted on their favorite hero Mara met during her apologies. A Dozen Apologies became a hit. The voters chose the hero, and the readers found out who he was when the complete novella was offered on Kindle. If you haven’t read the book, you’ll have to get it to see what lucky hero won the gal.

Mara’s choice left us with eleven other perfectly fine and handsome heroes to choose from. Our second-runner up for Mara’s heart had been Brent Teague, and he was heartbroken at his loss. That’s when his author, Jerusha Agen, was asked to rescue Brent from a life of total heartache. Jerusha’s LOVE BOAT BACHELOR Coveranswer: she sent Brent on a cruise where he worked as a chaplain in The Love Boat Bachelor. The authors of that collaboration took the readers all over the Caribbean and introduced them to several girls that made Brent’s acquaintance on the cruise. Of course, though, only one could win his heart, and that meant a new heroine needed a story so that she could find the love of her life.

Enter Marji Laine and her heroine, Mercy Lacewell, a nursing school dropout (for a very good reason), who now works for her father’s company. Mercy’s job is to scope out merger prospects for her father’s company, and she travels quite a bit to meet the owners (and sometimes not the owners) of potentially profitable organizations. Yes, Mercy meets some heroes on the way, ten to be exact. And, again, the readers will be able to vote for their favorite.

That brings us to the next unique quality of this series of Write Integrity Press novellas.  While the readers might know the names of the authors who collaborated on each novella, we closely guard the identities of the chapter authors until the complete book is released. We do this because we don’t want the readers voting for the author. We want the hero to win on his merits alone.

Beginning today, June 8, Write Integrity Press has posted the first chapter of Unlikely Merger. Today’s post introduces the story, and starting tomorrow through Saturday, June 13, readers can meet five of the stories heroes. Then on Monday June 15 through Friday, June 19, the other five heroes will have their stories told.

Readers can then vote for a favorite hero starting June 20 with the voting closing on June 24, and the winning hero, and that hero’s author, will get the last chapter of the book.

Starting tomorrow, here on Inner Source, I hope you’ll join us as I’ve interviewed each of the guys so that they can tell you a little bit more about themselves and maybe even share some of their thoughts about Mercy Lacewell. On June 25, the day after voting closes, members of this multi-author collaboration will begin to share with you how they brought their heroes to life.

The completed novella, with the winning hero’s chapter will be available on Kindle starting July 1 and running through July 5.

Until then, we invite you to learn more about the project from our various authors. Today’s posts include:

Marji Laine: New Job, New Direction

Julie Arduini: Unlikely Merger Authors Share Their Corporate Experiences

Betty Thomason Owens: Introduction to Unlikely Merger

Carole Towriss: Mercy’s Home The Mile High City

 

Discovering Nila’s Hope by Kathleen Friesen

NilasHope_h11737_300I fell in love with Nila Black while writing my first novel, Melody’s Song. My heart broke for Nila’s hopelessness caused by years of neglect and her current abusive relationship. So, when that story finished, I knew I had to continue Nila’s.

As you read her story, you may wonder if I drew on experiences from my own life. The answer is yes and no. I thank God that I have never experienced the kind of abuse that Nila endured. I will confess that as a teen I was attacked and molested, and that gave me some reactions to explore. But when my husband and I cared for four siblings who were terribly abused by someone who should have protected them, that changed me. The damage done to these innocent, beautiful children tore away my mask of naiveté. I could not simply wish that children everywhere would be cared for and protected. I, like Will in Nila’s Hope, became desperate to protect, but for the most part, I was powerless.

That’s why Nila’s journey from fear and despair to courage and bright hope resonated within me. I knew that what I could not accomplish in my own strength, God could redeem.

Nila learned that her quest for a trustworthy hope could only be found in her Savior, Jesus Christ. And with the help of her landlords/friends, Pastor Dave and Lydia, Nila dug deep into God’s word and found treasures of promise.

Treasures like, “The Lord delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love” (Psalm 147:11). Nila had never known an unfailing love. In her childhood, everyone she’d loved had abandoned her. It’s not surprising that this verse grabbed her heart.

And when the danger that stalked her pushed her to despair, Psalm 119:49-50 became her buoy of hope. “Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope. My comfort in my suffering is this: your promise preserves my life.”

I greatly admire Nila, and while I hope I never have to what she did, her journey encouraged my faith. I pray it does the same for you.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (Romans 15:13). Amen.

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.

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.

 

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.