Author Interview: Amanda Wen

Author Interview: Amanda Wen

It is my great pleasure and honor to introduce to you Amanda Wen, one of the 2021 Christian fiction debut authors.

Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. She has placed first in multiple contests, including the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest, the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest. She was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest finalist. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Amanda currently lives in Kansas with her husband, their three Wenlets, and one snuggly Siamese cat.

You can connect with her at www.amandawen.com, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

Now for the fun stuff! I have to admit I am partial to my Fast Five. 🙂 So settle in as I hit Amanda with rapid-fire.

 

 

CC: Milk or Dark Chocolate?

AW: While I love any chocolate, I do have a slight preference for The Dark Side.

CC: Who can resist the dark side. Soooo delicious.

 

CC: Print or E-book?

AW: Print. There’s just something about holding a book and turning real pages that makes for a much more immersive reading experience.

CC: Same!

 

CC: Cat or Dog Person?

AW: 100% cat. I have a Siamese named Jasmine who is the sweetest kitty ever (she’s snuggling with me right now, in fact, which makes typing a little awkward, but totally worth it).

CC: That sounds sweet. All I ever had was a barn cat, and he was not a snuggler.

 

CC: Morning Person or Night Owl?

AW: Morning, as long as I’ve had my coffee.

CC:  Caffeine is a must in the morning, for sure!

 

CC: Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter?

AW: Fall is my absolute favorite.

CC: It really is a beautiful time of the year.

Thanks for sharing those fun things. Let’s dive right into talking about your debut novel, Roots of Wood and Stone!

Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn’t expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary. Now she’s on the hunt to find out more.

Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother’s historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer’s, he can’t afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who’s fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.

A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love–and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.

This warm, beautifully written split-time novel will resonate with readers looking for stories that reveal the beauty of God’s plan for our lives, and how our actions ripple for generations.

CC: Who was the most challenging character to create? What made them so difficult?

AW: I’d say Sloane, my contemporary heroine, was probably the most difficult nut to crack. As a pantser, the only way I get to know my characters is to just start writing them, but Sloane doesn’t trust easily and wasn’t about to open up to me right away. I honestly felt like I was spinning my wheels with her trying to get her to talk until I found two of her passions: local history and jazz. (Conveniently, that latter bit helped her open up to Garrett, my contemporary hero, as well. 😉 )

CC: Oh, that is so sweet! I think I will get along with Sloane just perfectly. History and jazz are two of my favorite things.

Which character was the most fun to create? What makes them fun?

AW: In total contrast to Sloane, my past hero, Jack, showed up fully formed and ready to take over any scene he was in. A native of Ireland (and thus possessor of a fabulous accent), he came to the United States as a child and, along with many other Civil War veterans, became an early settler of Sedgwick County, Kansas. Jack has suffered some deep wounds just prior to the start of the story, but he is a man of big dreams, fierce determination, and passionate devotion to those he loves (along with a touch of impulsiveness, which you’ll see in his very first scene). He was an absolute joy to write.

CC: He sounds like a joy! I can’t wait to get to know him!

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

AW: This book is inspired by aspects of my own family history. My mom is a genealogist and has been tracing our family—and sharing their stories—my whole life. As an homage to her and all the rest of my ancestors, many of the people and places in the book are named for my ancestors. There are also several shout-outs to Wichita, Kansas, my home for most of my life, which people who’ve been around these parts might recognize.

CC: That is so cool, and what a personal touch!

Speaking of personal…let’s get to know YOU a little better. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

AW: I’ve written stories for fun off and on ever since I was a kid, but the writing bug hit me big-time in January 2008, when I wrote stories and actually let other people read them. Then came the Wenlets—all three within four years—so that gobbled up my time until 2014, when story ideas came out of nowhere and refused to let go. Around that time I started letting a lifelong friend, herself a multi-published author in the general market, read my work. She took me under her wing and gently corrected all my newbie writing errors, but told me I had publishable talent and ideas. I decided that if God had given me that gift, I should probably pursue it through whatever avenue he chose.

CC: Amen! I am so glad you chose to follow this path with your gifting so that we may all enjoy.

What has been the biggest challenge for you on your writing journey?

AW: Trusting God’s timing, which is I think a common one for us writers. So many of us finish our first novel and then we think we’ve Arrived somehow, and we want to run out and get it published.  I was absolutely no exception. And though my first novel won a few contests and landed me my wonderful agent, it did not sell to publishers. I was pretty disappointed, as anyone would be, but while that book was on submission, I’d started to write another book in a slightly different genre—one I truly loved writing and felt at home in. My agent wasn’t as excited about it as she had been my first book, but she believed in my writing and said she’d pitch anything I wrote. That second book didn’t do as well in contests and was on submission for over a year…but the folks at Kregel fell in love with it, and that book is the one that became Roots of Wood and Stone.

One postscript illustrating God’s perfect timing: Roots of Wood and Stone was inspired by my mom’s research into our family history, and I dreamed of the day when I’d get to tell her that the book was under contract. The day that dream came true and I finally got to call her with the news, I got to call Ireland, where she and my dad were celebrating their 50th anniversary. At the time of the call, they were eating lunch in a little café in the hometown of the ancestor whose life inspired the book. It doesn’t get much more perfect than that.

CC: Wow! God’s perfect timing is so astounding. What a blessing to be able to have that publishing announcement story to share. I’m sure your parents were thrilled to get the call.

What is your writing Kryptonite? 

AW: Plotting. I envy those who can plot out an entire novel and then just sit down and have the whole thing written in a matter of a few weeks. I cannot do that. I’ve tried. My process, which involves pantsing and revising as I go, is annoyingly slow, but it’s what works for me, so I’ve tried to make peace with it.

CC: I understand that whole-heartedly! So frustrating, but totally worth the journey.

Before we slip off to our last fun question, I have one more serious one for you. How can we pray for you?

AW: I would love prayer for the launch of Roots of Wood and Stone. It’s a dream come true, and while I’d love to say I’m excited and joyful and soaking up every minute, I’m actually very anxious about it. I have no idea how to ensure a book’s success once the writing is done, and I’m a little confused as to why God would choose to have me release this book in the midst of a global pandemic when many things are shut down, in-person launch events can’t happen, and the economy is less than amazing. Every aspect of writing this book, though, has been an exercise in trust, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that releasing it is any different. But if you could pray that a) those who God wants to read this book will read it and be brought closer to Him, and b) that I’d be able to relax and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience without worrying that I’m somehow doing it wrong, that’d be amazing.

CC: You are being covered in prayer, Amanda. We are so blessed to have this sneak peek into your world.

Thank you so much for joining me today and providing all of us with a wonderful distraction. The final question is always a fun favorite of mine:

What are the top three things on your bucket list? 

AW: 

  • Travel to all 50 US states (I’m sitting at 39 right now) and Europe (specifically the British Isles since that’s where my family’s from and Germany/Austria to visit the birthplaces of my favorite composers)
  • Attend a New England Patriots home game (I’ve seen them play on the road a few times, but never in Foxboro).
  • Perform Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony and Handel’s Messiah with orchestras. (I’ve played snippets of Messiah, but never the whole thing, and Beethoven’s Seventh is the only symphony on my list of favorites that I’ve never performed).

CC: Can I just be in the audience for either of those concerts? I’ve been blessed to hear Handel’s Messiah once, but I’d love love love to hear it again, especially with someone I know playing on stage!

Join me in celebrating Amanda’s debut releasing February 2nd from Kregel publishing, by wishing her congratulations below and sharing one thing on YOUR bucket list!

You can purchase Amanda’s book at any of the following retailers or your favorite bookseller.

Amazon      Barnes and Noble     Christianbook.com

Meet the Christian Fiction Class of 2021

Meet the Christian Fiction Class of 2021

*For those participating in the 2021 reading challenge, I have created a Facebook Group for those who want to interact throughout the month. For those who wish to receive a bookmark as a reminder of the themes, fill out this Google Form.*

 

 

 

2021 is bound to be a better year than 2020. At least that is what I am declaring! To start the year off right, I thought it would be neat to introduce you to some of the newest authors on the Christian Fiction scene. This year, ten authors I have had the honor to meet will debut their novels to the world. I have broken down the graduating class into the months they will break into the world. Support these new authors by connecting with them online, checking out their books, and if the books interest you, pre-order your copy or request your library to purchase a copy. Preorders go a long way to help an author have a successful book launch. It takes a lot of work to get a book out there, and I’m excited to help them get the word out.

 

Just as an incentive to help these authors out, I’m offering a $25 Baker Bookhouse gift card giveaway. Each author has chosen one link they want promoted most. Pick which ones you’d like to help out, and earn an entry for each one. To participate, click here

 

 

January Graduate

 

 

Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. She has placed first in multiple contests, including the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest, the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest. She was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest finalist. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Amanda currently lives in Kansas with her husband, their three Wenlets, and one snuggly Siamese cat.

 

Connect with her:   www.amandawen.com     Facebook     Twitter     Instagram

 

 

Roots of Wood and Stone

Genre: Split-time Women’s Fiction

 

This historic home holds the keys to their destiny . . . and their hearts

Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn’t expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary. Now she’s on the hunt to find out more.

Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother’s historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer’s, he can’t afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who’s fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.

A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love–and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.

This warm, beautifully written split-time novel will resonate with readers looking for stories that reveal the beauty of God’s plan for our lives, and how our actions ripple for generations.


Preorder here:
Amazon      Barnes and Noble     Christianbook.com

 


February Graduate

 

 

Jennifer Deibel is a middle school teacher whose work has appeared on (in)courage, on The Better Mom, in Missions Mosaic magazine, and others. With firsthand immersive experience abroad, Jennifer writes stories that help redefine home through the lens of culture, history, and family. After nearly a decade of living in Ireland and Austria, she now lives in Arizona with her husband and their three children. You can find her online at www.jenniferdeibel.com. Her debut novel, A Dance in Donegal, releases Feb. 2, 2021 from Revell and is available for pre-order wherever books are sold!


Connect with her:
Instagram     Facebook     Goodreads     BookBub

 


A Dance in Donegal

Genre: Historical Romance

 

After the loss of her Irish mother in the summer of 1920, Moira Doherty decides to fulfill her mother’s wish for her to leave Boston and teach in her mother’s home village of Ballymann in Donegal, Ireland. Though a few locals offer a warm welcome, others are distanced by superstition and suspicion. Rumors about a scandalous family reputation abound and threaten not only her new position but also her life.

 

Moira must rely on the kindness of a handful of unlikely friends including Sean, a handsome thatcher, to help her clear her family name before it’s too late. As she seeks to navigate her new life in Ireland, she may find that this is truly the life she was always meant to live.

 

Preorder here: Amazon     Baker Book House    Barnes and Noble     Books-A-Million     ChristianBook     IndieBound    Target     Walmart

 

March Graduate

 

 

A.D. Lawrence makes her home in Northeastern Nebraska. She has been passionate about writing and true crime for years, and her two obsessions melded into the goal of authorship. She is an active member of the ACFW, writes a true crime blog, won the 2019 Crown Award and was a 2019 First Impressions finalist and a 2020 Genesis finalist. Her first book will be released through Barbour in March of 2021 as part of the True Colors series.


Connect with her:
   https://adlawrencefiction.com/     Twitter     Facebook     Instagram     Pinterest

 

 

The Purple Nightgown

Genre: Historical Fiction Suspense

 

Step into True Colors — a series of Historical Stories of Romance and True American Crime

Marvel at true but forgotten history when patients check into Linda 

Hazzard’s Washington state spa in 1912 and soon become victim of her twisted greed.
 
Heiress Stella Burke is plagued by insincere suitors and nonstop headaches. Exhausting all other medical aides for her migraines, Stella reads Fasting for the Cure of Disease by Linda Hazzard and determines to go to the spa the author runs. Stella’s chauffer and long-time friend, Henry Clayton, is reluctant to leave her at the spa. Something doesn’t feel right to him, still Stella submits herself into Linda Hazzard’s care. Stella soon learns the spa has a dark side and Linda a mean streak. But when Stella has had enough, all ways to leave are suddenly blocked. Will Stella become a walking skeleton like many of the other patients or succumb to a worse fate?
 

Preorder here: Amazon     Barnes and Noble     Christianbook.com

 

April Graduate

M.N. Stroh writes edgy Christian Historical Fiction to inspire the downtrodden and outcast with adventure-laden escapes leading to divine encouragement. Her debut novel, Rise of Betrayal, will release through the Cave imprint of Olivia Kimbrell Press in 2021. M.N. serves as Director of Communications for Serious Writer Inc. affiliate, Writers Chat. She is also director of Serious Writer Book Club and co-administrator of Christian Writers Group International.

Connect with her: mnstroh.com     The Clan!(Newsletter)  Facebook     Instagram     Twitter     Pinterest     LinkedIn     Goodreads

Tale of the Clans Book 1: Rise of Betrayal

 

One brash act forced her to flee her clan. Now, after years in hiding, she risks exposure to the man whose brother is dead because of her. 

 

Ireland, 962 AD

Forced into a betrothal with the son of her warmongering overlord, Nessa knows her impending marriage will thrust her family into the heart of their clan’s longstanding feud with the Danes of Luimnech. Her fate is sealed until tragedy presses her to make a desperate escape—one which leads to her betrothed’s death.

Sanctuary among distant kindred proves short-lived and Nessa falls into the schemes of her rescuers. With the balance of power shifting in southern Ireland, her knowledge could pave the way for her former chieftain to claim the provincial throne. Yet, offering that knowledge may expose her identity to her estranged clansmen—and to the man whose brother was slain because of her.

Gideon mac Davan yearns to prove himself a warrior worthy of the Dal Cais. But he never dreamed his aspirations to join Brian mac Cennedigh’s rebel band would unfold after his brother’s murder. Conflicted between vengeance and the secret he conceals, Gideon must trod a contrary path. One which may end in the collapse of all he once revered.

Follow M.N. Stroh to keep up-to-date with cover reveals and preorder links.

 

May Graduate

 

 

Michelle Sass Aleckson –  After growing up on both the east and west coasts, Michelle Sass Aleckson now lives the country life in central Minnesota with her own hero and their four kids. She
loves rocking out to 80’s music on a Saturday night, playing Balderdash with the fam, and getting lost in good stories. Especially stories that shine grace. And if you’re
wondering, yes, Sass is her maiden name. Visit her at www.michellealeckson.com.

Connect with her:   www.michellealeckson.com.

 

 

Crazy for You

Genre: Contemporary Romance

 

The problem with being related to everyone in town is that there is no one left to date…until now…but will this outsider survive his family?

Former soldier Veronica “Ronnie” Morales isn’t going to let her kid brother, Tiago, get pulled into the gangs of Minneapolis, so, seeking safety and a fresh start, she heads to sleepy Deep Haven on the north shore of Minnesota. She’s hoping to put down roots as the paramedic for the new Crisis Response Team, but it’s not easy to be the town outsider.

Fire Chief Peter Dahlquist is a peacemaker—he has to be. After all he’s related to both of the Deep Haven dynasties – the Zimmermans and the Dahlquists, Deep Haven’s
version of the Hatfields and the McCoys. Worse, Peter is the holdout vote for a landmark project, which also makes him the loneliest guy in town when both sides demand that he pick sides. The only one who seems to understand his plight is the newcomer in town…his pretty, street-tough paramedic.

When Tiago finds himself caught up in small town shenanigans and the town blames Ronnie for tragedy, Peter is forced to pick sides. But will his choice cost him the home—and the woman—he loves?

Preorder here: Amazon     Barnes and Noble

 

July Graduate

 

Jennifer L. Wright has been writing since middle school, eventually earning a master’s degree in journalism at Indiana University. However, it took only a few short months of covering the local news for her to realize that writing fiction is much better for the soul and definitely way more fun. A born and bred Hoosier, she was plucked from the Heartland after being swept off her feet by an Air Force pilot and has spent the past decade traveling the world and, every few years, attempting to make old curtains fit in the windows of a new home.
 
She currently resides in New Mexico with her husband, two children, and one rambunctious dachshund.
 
Connect with her:   https://jennwrightwrites.com/     Facebook     Twitter

 

If It Rains

Genre: Historical Fiction

 

A story of resilience and redemption set against one of America’s defining moments—the Dust Bowl.

 

It’s 1935 in Oklahoma, and lives are determined by the dust. Fourteen-year-old Kathryn Baile, a spitfire born with a severe clubfoot, is coming of age in desperate times. Once her beloved older sister marries, Kathryn’s only comfort comes in the well-worn pages of her favorite book, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Then Kathryn’s father decides to relocate to Indianapolis, and only the promise of a surgery to finally make her “normal” convinces Kathryn to leave Oklahoma behind. But disaster strikes along the way, and Kathryn must rely on her grit and the ragged companions she meets on the road if she is to complete her journey.

 
Back in Boise City, Melissa Baile Mayfield is the newest member of the wealthiest family in all of Cimarron County. In spite of her poor, rural upbringing, Melissa has just married the town’s most eligible bachelor and is determined to be everything her husband—and her new social class—expects her to be. But as the drought tightens its grip, Henry’s true colors are revealed. Melissa covers her bruises with expensive new makeup and struggles to reconcile her affluent life with that of her starving neighbors. Haunted by the injustice and broken by Henry’s refusal to help, Melissa secretly defies her husband, risking her life to follow God’s leading.
 
Two sisters, struggling against unspeakable hardship, discover that even in their darkest times, they are still united in spirit, and God is still with them, drawing them home.

 

Preorder here: Amazon     Baker Bookhouse     BarnesandNoble.com      Christianbook.com

 

September Graduate

 

Kerry Johnson has been conversing with fictional characters and devouring books since her carefree childhood in the Connecticut woods. A member of ACFW for nearly a decade, she finaled in their Genesis Contest seven times and won twice (YA and Romance). She also won RWA-Georgia’s Maggie award for her contemporary romance. She’s been published in Creation Illustrated and was a regular contributor to Tampa Bay’s Overflow Magazine from 2011-2013. Kerry currently lives in sunny, stormy Tampa Bay with her patient engineer husband, two energetic teen sons, their eight-year-old, doll-loving niece, and way too many books.

She’s active online at www.kerryjohnsonbooks.com, www.facebook.com/candidkerry/, and on Twitter https://twitter.com/candidkerry, where she shares an overabundance of pictures with her feathered toddler (sun conure) Mango and lazy Boxer, Boomer.

 

Title to be Revealed Soon

Genre: Romantic Suspense with Love Inspired Suspense 

 

The danger’s all downhill after a murder on the mountain.

 

When single-mom Everly Raven discovers a body inside a chalet on her family’s New England ski resort, the blame falls on her. Racing to evade the target on her back, she’s forced to work with her ex and father of her child, FBI agent Isaac Rhodes, to clear her name. But with a blizzard closing in and the killer’s henchman hot on their trail, can they stay alive long enough to find the real killer before he finds Everly first?

 

Follow Kerry to keep up-to-date with titles, cover reveals, and preorder links.

 

October Graduate

 

Rhonda Ortiz is award-winning novelist and nonfiction writer whose articles on spirituality, family life, and arts and culture have been published by a variety of popular media outlets. Her debut novel, Molly ChaseIn Pieces, is forthcoming October 2021 with Chrism Press, a new division of WhiteFire Publishing devoted to Catholic and Orthodox Christian voices. A native Oregonian, Rhonda attended college in historic Annapolis, Maryland and now lives in Michigan with her husband and five children. Find her online at rhondaortiz.com.
 

 

Connect with her: rhondaortiz.com   Instagram     Facebook     Pinterest     GoodReads     Twitter

 

 

 

Molly Chase

 
Genre: Historical romance with elements of family drama and political suspense

 

Certain things ruin a girl’s reputation, and madness is one.

BOSTON, 1793—Beautiful and artistic, the only daughter of a prominent merchant, Molly Chase cannot help but attract the notice of Federalist Boston—especially its men. But she carries a painful secret: her father committed suicide and she found his body. Now nightmares plague her day and night, addling her mind and rendering her senseless. Molly needs a home, a nurse, and time to grieve and to find new purpose in life. But when she moves in with her friends, the Robbs, spiteful society gossips assume the worst. And when an imprudent decision leads to public scandal, Molly is tempted to take the easy way out: a marriage of convenience.

Merchant sailor Josiah Robb is as familiar to Molly as a brother—as dear and as exasperating. Yet she is no sister to him. He hopes to marry her before anyone else does, but sailing the high seas leaves no time for convincing Molly that he is more than her teasing childhood friend. Josiah wants a new job and a fresh start, and when he agrees to carry a confidential letter to President Washington, his life is changed forever.

In the wake of tragedy, these longtime friends discover a new intimacy. But slander, confusion, absence, and a wealthy, conniving bully stand between them. And with French spies on the loose, they not only have to rescue their reputations—they have to protect their lives.

 

Preorder here: While this book is not yet available for preorder, I recommend signing up for Rhonda’s newsletter on her website so that you can get the latest news.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

November Graduate

 

Cathy McCrumb graduated from Biola University with a degree in English Literature and a love for stories. While writing is one of her favorite things to do, she also enjoys reading, long hikes and long naps, chocolate, baking gluten-free brownies, and crocheting while watching science fiction movies with friends and family. Her newest goal of ice fishing seems more attainable now that she and her family have moved to Colorado. Most of her imaginary friends are nice people.

Connect with her

 

The Recorder

Genre: Science Fiction
 
So, what’s *in* the book? Mystery, a touch of creepiness, and, yes, some romance, all mixed into dystopian science fiction, and a young woman who has neither a name nor a family. Plus, as he would have me tell you, there’s Nate. 😉)
 
The Recorder, the first book in Cathy’s sci-fi series, is set to release in November 2021. Set hundreds of years in the future, the novel tells the story of a nameless young woman raised to serve the public, and what happens when she discovers her humanity for the first time.
 
 
Follow Cathy for more information as it becomes available. 

 

 

Kathleen Denly Giveaway and Interview

Kathleen Denly Giveaway and Interview

Hi friend! I pray you are finding peace and a new rhythm in these crazy times. I know I’m still struggling with the latter now that my kids are home full time and we’re having to watch my MIL extra closely. But we are choosing joy and to find leveity wherever we can.

For today’s distraction, I have the wonderful Kathleen Denly to introduce you to as well as a GIVEAWAY to brighten your day. (Check it out all the way at the bottom!)

Kathleen Denly writes stories to entertain, encourage, and inspire readers toward a better understanding of our amazing God and how He sees us. She enjoys finding the lesser-known pockets of history and bringing them to life through the joys and struggles of her characters.

Sunny southern California, a favorite setting in her stories, is also her home. She lives there with her loving husband, four young children, and two cats. As a member of the adoption and foster community, children in need are a cause dear to her heart and she finds they make frequent appearances in her stories. Always happy to hear from her readers, you can email Kathleen and follow her on FacebookTwitterInstagram, and Pinterest. You might also consider joining Kathleen’s Readers’ Club to learn the latest updates, receive exclusive content and be eligible for KRC exclusive giveaways!

 

Now for the fun stuff! I have to admit I am partial to my Fast Five. 🙂 So settle in as I hit Kathleen with rapid-fire.

 

 

CC: Sweet or Unsweet Tea?

KD: Neither. I don’t do tea or coffee or soda. I’m kind of a pain to hang out with at coffee shops. LOL But I do love lemonade and I’ll happily drink tap water.

CC: Lemonade and water are so much better for you anyway. 😉

 

CC: Beach Vacation or Mountain Getaway?

KD: Oh tough choice! Seriously, do I have to choose? I live in San Diego where I can spend my morning on the beach and drive just two hours to spend my evening in the mountains. (Don’t be jealous. 😉 )

CC: Hard not to be jealous! That seems like the perfect balance!

 

CC: Homebody or Love to Travel?

KD: Both. (I’m starting to feel like a bit of a pest by refusing to choose, but it’s true.) When I’m at home I really want to stay there and have gone days without even leaving the house. BUT before I met my husband I wanted to be a flight attendant and I still have a map marked with all the places I want to see. So far, I’ve visited 25 of the mainland states, plus Hawaii. I’ve been to France, Switzerland, Italy, and Monaco once, twice to South Korea & China and three times to Mexico.

CC: That is a lot of traveling! I only have Hawaii and Alaska left for the US, but my international travel is limited to Canada, Mexico, Bahamas, and Jamaica.

 

CC: Morning Person or Night Owl?

KD: Definitely a night owl! My mom says I even moved more at night when I was in the womb and I gave her loads of trouble with not wanting to sleep as a toddler. It’s been the same ever since. In my perfect world, days would begin at 11am and end somewhere around 2 or 3 in the morning. My creative juices flow best after dark (especially after my four littles have settled down to sleep).

CC: I’m amazed you have the energy. I still prefer night, but family life has reduced me to bed at 10:30 and up at 6:30. I’m a bit jealous of you…again. 

 

CC: Bookmark or Dog-ear Pages?

KD: I’m going to pretend you didn’t just ask if it was okay to damage a book rather than find something else to hold your place. 😉 I wrote a whole blog post on book crimes and this was one of them.

CC: Whew! I always cringe while waiting for an answer to that one! Bookmarks all the way.

Thanks for sharing those fun things. Let’s dive right into talking about your debut novel, Waltz in the Wilderness!

She’s desperate to find her missing father. His conscience demands he risk all to help. 

Eliza Brooks is haunted by her role in her mother’s death, so she’ll do anything to find her missing pa—even if it means sneaking aboard a southbound ship. When those meant to protect her abandon and betray her instead, a family friend’s unexpected assistance is a blessing she can’t refuse.

Daniel Clarke came to California to make his fortune, and a stable job as a San Francisco carpenter has earned him more than most have scraped from the local goldfields. But it’s been four years since he left Massachusetts and his fiancée is impatient for his return. Bound for home at last, Daniel Clarke finds his heart and plans challenged by a tenacious young woman with haunted eyes. Though every word he utters seems to offend her, he is determined to see her safely returned to her father. Even if that means risking his fragile engagement.

When disaster befalls them in the remote wilderness of the Southern California mountains, true feelings are revealed, and both must face heart-rending decisions. But how to decide when every choice before them leads to someone getting hurt?

 

CC: Who was the most challenging character to create and what made them so challenging?

KD: Alice was by far my most difficult character to write because her outward personality and external goals are so similar to Cecilia’s. On the surface they could seem the same but, their maturity levels and who they are at their core is very different. They have always been two distinct people in my mind but, figuring out how to show their differences on paper was tricky. Since Alice appeared after Cecilia, she bore the burden of distinguishing herself. I’ve been assured by readers that I did manage the task, however.

CC: I agree, you did make both Cecilia and Alice distinct characters. I never once felt they were remotely the same.

What was some of your favorite research you discovered while writing this story?

KD: When researching the way mail was handled in 1854 San Francisco, I discovered a fascinating etiquette rule. To receive one’s mail most people had to stand in line for several hours. There were windows assigned to various sections of the alphabet at which men stood to receive their mail. Then there was the “ladies’ window” where the ladies waited to receive their mail. However, if the lady didn’t wish to stand in line, she could send a male to wait in her place. The trouble with this was that any gentleman standing in line at the ladies’ window was expected to give up his place to any lady arriving after him. So he was constantly moving to the back of the line. Can you imagine how long a man might wind up standing there, waiting for the very last lady to arrive before he finally reached the window? I couldn’t resist writing this into my story.

CC: That is really fascinating, and it makes me so glad I don’t live in that time. I’m rather a fan of having things delivered.

What about writing in general? Does it exhaust you or invigorate you?

KD: I find writing both invigorating and exhausting. By the time I reach my word count goal each day, my mind is mush and my sentences start looking like my nine-year-old wrote them, BUT my mood is somewhere in the clouds and I feel an incredible peace that makes handling the rest of life’s struggles slightly easier. I think this is because when I write I am in constant communication with God. I begin each session with Bible study and regularly pause to ask God to show me where the next scene should lead or how a particular character should react and what Truth He wants me to shine a light on through my story

CC: I LOVE that routine. Anytime we commune with God, whether writing or otherwise, it is so refreshing.  

What is your writing Kryptonite?

KD: Arguing with my husband. If my husband and I have had a big blowout and haven’t completely resolved things yet (because he had to go to work or I had to go somewhere before we could finish our “healthy discussion”), then I am useless. I can’t sleep, don’t want to eat and definitely cannot write until he and I are good again.

CC: As much as that stinks, I am glad that it leads you to always resolve your “healthy discussions.” It’s good for your marriage and for our TBR piles. 😉

Thank you so much for joining me today and providing all of us with a wonderful distraction. What is your writing mascot, and why?

KD: My cat, Ana. Any time I’m writing in bed or on the couch rather than at my desk (which she can’t get to), she will find her way to my side and curl up for a nap. (Which is exactly where she is and what she’s doing as I type this.) OR she might start rubbing her face on my hands while I’m trying to type. That’s not quite as cute but, I’d still make her my mascot.

CC: She sounds like a cuddly cat. How sweet!

I have another great give away to continue the distractions.

GIVEAWAY TIME

One lucky winner will win an e-book copy of Waltz in the Wilderness, a serenity prayer magnet, a pocket cross, and some bible journaling stickers! Just enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. A winner will be randomly chosen before Tuesday’s book review goes live (Tuesday, March 24), so make sure you get those entries in by midnight on Monday night! The e-book is open to international winners, however, the magnet, stickers, and cross are limited to the contiguous United States only. (Sorry, friends!)

I’m praying for you during these crazy times. Stay in touch (virtually of course) and keep reading!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway & Interview with Patti Stockdale

Giveaway & Interview with Patti Stockdale

Hello my lovelies!

Long time no see. If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been absent for a few weeks and for good reason. The marvelous, amazing, newborn Momma, Savanna Kaiser was hard at work developing my new website. I didn’t want to add any more content and make her job harder so I’ve held off.

BUT NOW I get the incredible honor and joy of introducing you to my critique partner and friend, Patti Stockdale and her debut historical romance, Three Little Things.

TO CELEBRATE PATTI’S DEBUT, BE SURE TO ENTER THE GIVEAWAY AT THE END OF THIS POST

Patti Stockdale has returned to her home state of Iowa after moving around the country for years. She’s a freelance writer and previously worked as a director at a nonprofit, an administrative assistant, and a corn detasseler – a big challenge since she’s five foot one. Love letters her grandparents exchanged served as the inspiration for Three Little Things.

 

It is such and honor and blessing to have you here to celebrate the release of your debut! Before we dive in to the detailed questions, I would love to hit you with my fast five.

 

 

CC: Sweet or Unsweet Tea?

PS: Unsweetened and decaffeinated. Loose-leaf blueberry is my favorite.

CC: Oh, blueberry sounds interesting! I’m going to have to find some and try it!

 

CC: Beach Vacation or Mountain Getaway?

PS: The beach is my go-to vacation spot.

CC: The older I get, the more I like the beach. It is so relaxing!

 

CC: Homebody or Love to Travel?

PS: I’m a homebody who loves to travel.

CC: That is a sweet combination! The best of both worlds.

 

CC: Morning Person or Night Owl?

PS: My husband rises at 5:30 for work, so that’s usually when I start my day too.

CC: Bless you, friend. No one should be up that early. LOL

 

CC: Bookmark or Dog-ear Pages?

PS: I love bookmarks, but I can’t ever find one when I need it.

CC: You created some beautiful bookmarks for your release! Of course, you probably mailed all of those out.

I feel like even though I’ve known you for a couple of years now, that I know you even better after that. So now to the even more fun stuff! 

 

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

PS: I either wanted to be a ballerina or operate the cash register at Van’s Grocery.

CC: That is so adorable! I can see a younger version of you dressed in a tutu playing with a toy cash register.

 

CC: What is your favorite Bible verse? Why?

PS: “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 Whenever I’m struggling, either physically or emotionally, the verse delivers peace.

CC: That is such a powerful verse. I agree it’s one to turn to in times of struggle for a measure of peace.

 

Now for one of my favorite parts! Introducing your book! So here is the blurb for Three Little Things.

 

One forbidden love. Two broken hearts. Three little things.

Hattie Waltz should forget the troubled neighbor leaving for boot camp in 1917. He forgot about her ages ago. It had always been the Waltzs verses the Kregers, his family pitted against hers. When she hands him a farewell gift, a chemistry lesson unfolds. The good kind.

Arno Kreger can’t leave Iowa or his old man fast enough. He’s eager to prove his worth on the battlefield and stop blaming himself for his brother’s death. Before entering the train, he bumps into Hattie. He’s loved her forever, always from the sidelines, because nobody crosses Hattie’s pa.

One innocent letter soon morphs into many. Arno and Hattie share three little secrets in each letter and grow closer together. But he’s on his way to a war across the ocean, and she’s still in her father’s house. Their newfound love will need to survive dangers on both fronts.

 

 

CC: So, Patti, which character was the most fun to create? What made them fun?

PS: My favorite character to write was Jeb, the protagonist’s brother. He dropped out of school early and starts reading the dictionary to expand his vocabulary. 

CC: I did love Jeb and his sort of know it all attitude, too. Just like a brother. 

 

This story has a special place in your heart. Can you explain why?

PS: Three Little Things is inspired by letters my maternal grandparents exchanged. Initially, I tried to tell their story. But there were too many gaps, and I couldn’t assign flaws to my grandparents.

CC: Grandparents are always perfect in our eyes aren’t they. I love that they exchanged letters and you can follow their romance through it. What a sweet way to get to know them better.

How did you select the names of your characters?

PS: To honor my grandparents, I used their first names: Arno and Hattie in Three Little Things. Another character is named after my paternal grandmother: Lena. I also ask friends to tell me their grandparents or great-grandparents’ names. Then, I pick my favorites.

CC: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this interview. I just have one more fun question for you. What would be your writer mascot and why? 

PS: I’d choose a sweet teddy bear as my mascot. They’re snuggly, friendly, and make me smile.

CC: Awww, that sounds an awful like someone I know. Except we don’t cuddle, but I’ll take one of your hugs any day.

 

GIVEAWAY TIME

Now to my reader friends, in order to celebrate my wonderful friend’s debut, I’d like to offer you a chance to win an e-book copy of Patti’s debut. This giveaway is open internationally and will end on March 2nd at 11:59 PM (EST). To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

2019: A Year in Review

It’s been a great year of ups and downs. And now that Christmas is over, it’s time to look back and see what’s been accomplished. For you, it means a chance to read some reviews and maybe pick out a few books to spend your gift cards on. This is a short and sweet post so that you and I can get back to relaxing with family, reading a book, or planning for the new year.

HAPPY READING!

Book Reviews:

Novella Collection: All for Love

Picture Book: The Knight in Battered Armor by Brianna Tibbetts

Writing Craft: How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method

Author Interviews:

It’s a Wrap with Cynthia Roemer

Hello, lovely reader. Help yourself to a cup of hot cup cider and a heaping portion of apple crumble. Fall is finally back and so is Cynthia Roemer, my guest today.

Cynthia Roemer is the author of three wonderful books: Under This Same SkyUnder Prairie Skies, and Under Moonlit Skies. These midwestern prairie romances follow the hearts and struggles of three women as they deal with loss, love, and hard choices. Readers will forever be touched by the way Cynthia weaves real characters with real problems into stories which captivate. Let me introduce you to the woman herself.

Cynthia Roemer is an award-winning inspirational author with a heart for scattering seeds of hope into the lives of readers. Raised in the cornfields of rural Illinois, Cynthia enjoys spinning tales set in the backdrop of the 1800s prairie. Her Prairie Sky Series consists of Amazon Best-Seller Under This Same Sky, Under Prairie Skies, and Under Moonlit Skies, releasing September 10, 2019. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and writes from her family farm in central Illinois where she resides with her husband of twenty-five years and two college-aged sons. Visit Cynthia online at: www.cynthiaroemer.com

Crystal: Thank you so much for joining me today, Cynthia. First up are my Fast Five–shaken up and changed!

FastFive

Coffee or Tea?

Cynthia: Neither really, I’m more a water or lemonade type of gal! I get my caffeine from chocolate!   =)

Crystal: Lemonade makes me think of summer. 🙂

Christmas or Easter?

Cynthia: Both! LOL! But if I had to choose, I choose Easter, because it celebrates Jesus’ resurrection

Crystal: It’s a hard one to choose between for sure.

Spring or Fall?

Cynthia: Fall

Crystal: There is just nothing compared to the magic of changing leave and sweater weather.

Print or E-book?

Cynthia:  Definitely print

Crystal: With you 100%.

Favorite Bible Verse

Cynthia:  Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, saith the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you.”

Crystal: Definitely a comforting one.

Writing & Life

What keeps you busy most days?

Cynthia: I work at an elementary library two days a week. Most other days, when I’m not writing, I’m doing normal wife/mom things: cooking, laundry, cleaning, spending time with family.

Crystal: Life in an elementary school is lots of fun. I’m so glad you get that experience! And I guess not even authors get to escape the day to day drudgery.

When you DO get to write, what does your workspace look like?

Cynthia: Most days, I’m at my desktop in our living room. But when the weather is nice, I love going out on our porch with my laptop.

Crystal: That sounds lovely. I hope you get to enjoy the outside weather a lot this Fall. It’s one of my favorite times of the year.

Do you have any pets?

Cynthia:  At present, we have one cat named Chad. I named him and his sister Charlotte after the characters in my second novel when I was in the midst of writing it. Sadly, Charlotte got killed. Now Chad is one super-spoiled kitty!!

Crystal: That is so sad!!! I am so glad Chad has you to spoil him. Speaking of your books…

How did it feel to wrap up the Prairie Skies series?

Cynthia:  Both sad and satisfying. I’ll so miss the characters and will always hold them in my heart, but trust the Lord will stir equally endearing characters in my imagination in the future! 

What was the best part about writing this series?

Cynthia: Creating the characters and also the research! These are probably my favorite parts of writing. Such fun!

Do you have any plans for a future project?

Cynthia: Currently, I’m researching and brainstorming for a fourth novel set during the latter part of the Civil War and immediately following it. It’s still formulating in my mind, but involves an injured Union soldier and a sympathetic Southern belle. At this point, it seems to be a standalone project…unless the Lord gives ideas for a series.  =)

Crystal: I love Civil War stories, especially with characters on opposite sides of the lines. We’ll be praying for you as that idea develops!

Which character was the most fun to create?

Cynthia: Oh, it’s difficult to choose just one. In Under This Same Sky, I loved Becky’s friend, Jimmy. He’s the wise and loving friend everyone wants and dreams of. In Under Prairie Skies, little Johnny was a lot of fun. I loved his innocence and the way he related to Charlotte. In Under Moonlit Skies, it’s a toss-up between Stew and old Annie. Stew was such a great guy, always willing to put others ahead of himself. But I also loved old Annie’s godly candidness and sweet spirit.

Crystal: I am fond of those particular characters, especially Stew.

Fun, Zaney Question of the Day

If you could have super power, which would it be?

Cynthia: To be able to split myself into two Cynthia’s – one to do what I need to do and the other to do what I want to do – write!  =)

Crystal: Boy do I wish I could do that, except maybe even more versions of myself!

Thank so much for visiting with us.

Readers, if you are interested in learning more about Cynthia’s books you can check them out by clicking on the book covers below. Thank so much for stopping by and have a great week!

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