Author Interview: Kaitlin Covel

Hello, friends! I’ve got another debut author to introduce. Meet Kaitlin Covel who reached out to me via my contact form. I had the privilege of reading her novel Atoning for Ashes a few weeks ago and that review will go live next Tuesday. For now, I’d love for you to get to know the woman behind the words.

Kaitlin Covel has a thirst for adventure much like the heroines of her stories. She is an old-fashioned romantic, and if she could time travel to any historical period, it would be the Regency Era. Here in the 21st century, she is a certified Nutritional Therapy Technician, but writing is her passion, whether it’s fiction or non-fiction. Her debut novel, Atoning for Ashes, releases on February 14th, 2019 from Deep River Books. She has honed her craft since childhood, benefiting from the insights of other writers through professional writing associations such as the Jerry Jenkins Writer’s Guild and Hope*writers. She lives with her family in Maine, where she enjoys teaching the teen Sunday school class at her church. Her favorite things are family, books, history, chocolate, music, the ocean, and strong cups of tea. Visit her at www.kaitlincovel.com.

FastFive

Sweet or Unsweet Tea?

Kaitlin: I know sweet tea is a big deal to everyone down south, but I prefer mine unsweetened!

Beach Vacation or Mountain Getaway?

Kaitlin: Definitely a beach vacation for me! Perhaps on Prince Edward Island!

Homebody or Love to Travel?

Kaitlin: I really love to travel. If I ever inherited a fortune like the heroines of novels, I would spend the first cent on a plane ticket to the first place on my bucket list: Paris, France! 

Morning Person or Night Owl?

Kaitlin: I’m a night owl for sure! 

Bookmark or Dog-ear Pages?

Kaitlin: I love bookmarks! 

Writing, Life, and God

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

Kaitlin: My dream job as a child was to be a published author and see my books on a library shelf. I thank God for making my dream come true!

Crystal: I love when God makes the desires of our heart a reality.

What is your favorite Bible verse? Why?

Kaitlin: Proverbs 3:5-6: Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, for he shall direct thy path. 

I love this verse because it is a daily reminder to trust the Lord and rely upon Him in all circumstances. Life is complicated, but I know the Lord will direct my path if I acknowledge him in all my ways. 

Crystal: That is a great one. Although, I confess every time I read that one, I do the little song with it that I used to teach it to my Sunday School kiddos.

What was the best advice someone ever gave you about writing, life, or anything that strikes your fancy?

Kaitlin: One of the greatest pieces of writing advice I ever received was to write until I was confident enough of my writing skills to share them with the world. I wrote short stories and several novels to practice my skills. I engaged in writing memberships and contests to polish my craft until I knew I was ready to attempt publication. This journey has taken me almost ten years, but I have loved every moment of it. I look forward to the next chapter of my publishing journey and all the new experiences that await me. I know I am doing what I was born to do!

Crystal: Very sound advice and we are excited to see where this journey brings you.

Josie Chadwick dreams of marrying for love in Cornwall, England, but with her father’s debt threatening to destroy all she holds dear, her romantic options are dwindling. When her elder sister Delia is disowned, Josie finds herself heiress of Chadwick Park, torn between dreams and duty. After sacrificing her heart to atone for Delia’s sin, Josie clings to the hope she will learn to love a distant husband, whom she fears is incapable of requiting her affection.

Atoning for Ashes

How did this story affect you as you wrote it? Did God teach you  anything through the writing?

Kaitlin:  God taught me so much through writing this story that I don’t even know where to begin… I think the biggest lesson God taught me in writing Atoning for Ashes was the unconditional nature of His love. I’d never really meditated on this aspect of our God, but because several main characters in my book struggle with a crisis of identity, I reflected on the unconditional nature of my God’s love and grace more than I ever had before.

Crystal: That unconditional nature is just so mindboggling to our  human  minds. 

How do you come up with the names of your characters?

Kaitlin: I like to look at the census for the year my story is set if it is available. I’m always taking note of unusual period names when I’m watching period dramas or reading classic literature/biographies/memoirs. For surnames, I do a lot of research based on the setting, and I have fun exploring historical documents from the time period. It is a struggle, but I persevere until I’m satisfied with the ring of each characters’ full name! 

Crystal: That is very cool. I love period- accurate names and am so glad  you take the time to find them.

What was your hardest scene to write?

Kaitlin: Hmmm… I’ll try not to give any spoilers! There were several scenes that were fairly difficult to write, but the hardest scene of all was the scene where Josie and Charles eat dinner in their hotel room in Paris. It is quite an emotionally charged scene, and the climax in the dialogue occurs when Charles confesses a dark secret of his past.

Crystal: I can see where that would be a very difficult scene to write.

Fun, Zaney Question of the Day

What are the top three things on your bucket list?

Kaitlin: A trip to Paris, swimming with dolphins, and I’d love to go on a missions trip sometime!

Crystal:  I hope those are things you get to enjoy at some point!

Readers, tell us what your top three things are on your bucket list, and be sure to check out Kaitlin’s debut book, Atoning for Ashes at Amazon or Barnes and Noble!

Connect with Kaitlin at:

Author Interview: Michelle De Bruin

Howdy ho neighbors!!! 🙂 (Yes, a Home Improvement reference if you didn’t catch it. LOVE Wilson.) Today I am excited to introduce debut author Michelle De Bruin to you. She was one of my very first critique partners and it has been neat to see her novel transform from rough draft to printed book.

 

Michelle De Bruin Author Photo.jpgMichelle lives in Iowa with her husband and two teenage sons. She is the spiritual services provider for an organization that offers services for people with physical and mental disabilities. In this role, she offers grief care, teaches Bible studies, leads retreats, and writes devotionals. Michelle is also a worship leader on Sunday mornings directing the choir, playing piano, or singing.

A romantic at heart, Michelle is always on the lookout for glimpses of God’s love through the window of a good story.

 

So let’s get to know this wonderful woman!

 

FastFive

Sweet or Unsweet Tea?

Michelle: Unsweet

Beach Vacation or Mountain Getaway?

Michelle: Beach

Homebody or Love to Travel?

Michelle: Travel

Morning Person or Night Owl?

Michelle: Neither one!

Bookmark or Dog-ear Pages?

Michelle: Definitely bookmark

 

hopefortomorrowWhen Logan De Witt learns of his father’s sudden death, he returns home to the family’s dairy farm. During his stay, he discovers his mother’s struggle with finances and his younger sister’s struggle with grief. Concern for his family presses Logan to make the difficult decision to leave his career as a pastor and stay on the farm. As a way to make some extra money, he agrees to board the teacher for their local school.

Karen Millerson arrives from Chicago ready to teach high school but her position is eliminated so she accepts the role of country school teacher. Eager to put her family’s ugly past behind her, Karen begins a new career to replace the trust she lost in her own father who had been in ministry when she was a child.

Logan and Karen both sense a call from the Lord to serve him, but neither of them expected that one day they would do it together.

Can Karen learn to trust again? Will Logan lay aside his grief in exchange for God’s purpose for his life? Life, Writing, and God

 

Writing, Life, and God

Why do you write historical fiction?

Michelle: The historical fiction genre is a venue where I can share conservative values on issues like morality, family, and Scripture interpretation. It also gives me a reason to go back into my own family heritage and honor the people who have gone before me.

Crystal: Historical fiction is one of my favorites for a lot of those reasons.

 

What has God taught you along your publication journey?

Michelle: God has taught me that he is bigger than the scope of my dreams, and that He still performs miracles.

Crystal: God really does like to show off and make our dreams bigger than we can imagine.

 

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

Michelle: Writing energizes me. I have to do it. Writing helps me examine my life and heart, and it helps me apply truth to my ordinary existence.

Crystal: I love how writing is a reflective experience for both the writer and the reader.

 

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Michelle: I didn’t consider a pseudonym, but I did toy with the idea of hyphenating my name when I realized my writing might actually amount to something. My married name, De Bruin, is a Dutch surname comprised of two words. My maiden name, Van Zante, is also Dutch and includes two words. I decided a hyphenation was too confusing and expected too much from my readers when trying to figure out pronunciation or finding me on-line.

Crystal: I can see where that would be difficult. I think you made the right decision.

 

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

Michelle: Reverend Logan De Witt was the most fun to create because of his sense of humor. He also gets nervous around pretty girls. This makes him stutter and get his words all mixed up at times when he needs to communicate important messages, like during his sermons and convincing someone to go out with him.

Crystal: I love the bumbling hero. They are so cute when struggling around the women they like.

Fun, Zaney Question of the Day

If you could be any animal, which would it be?

Michelle: We have a rabbit as a family pet. I would probably be a rabbit. Rabbits like to hide in cozy corners and don’t lose their “cuteness” when they are full grown.

Crystal: That is too true! I’ve never seen an ugly rabbit! And thank you so much, Michelle for doing this interview!

 

Readers, be sure to check out Michelle’s debut book, Hope for Tomorrow at Amazon or Barnes and Noble! For a chance to win an e-copy from me, just comment below with your answer to the Fun, Zaney Question of the Day! 

 

Connect with Michelle De Bruin at:

Author Interview: Gina Holder

Hi friends! It’s time for another monthly interview and this time I get to introduce to you, new-to-me author, Gina Holder.

GinaProfile.jpg

Gina served alongside her parents on the mission field and now lives in Franklin, Kentucky with her husband of 11 years, Daniel.

She is a stay-at-home mother and homeschools their daughter, Lydia. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, watching movies, singing, and playing the piano.

She dreamed of being a writer from her early teen years and graduated from the Long Ridge Writer’s Group “Breaking into Print” program in 2004. She graduated from Faith Bible Institue in 2005.

 

So let’s jump right in!

FastFive

Sweet or Unsweet Tea?

Gina: Neither. I don’t like cold tea at all, but I’ll drink hot tea in limited flavors with lots of sugar.

Crystal: That’s a first for the Write Call. 🙂 But sugar makes everything taste better.

Beach Vacation or Mountain Getaway?

Gina: Mountain getaway! While I love the beach, I don’t like the hot sun or the sand that gets into everything.

Crystal: I completely agree!

Homebody or Love to Travel?

Gina: I love to travel. I’ve been to 43 states and 14 countries on four continents.

Crystal: Wow! That is amazing. I’m only 2 states away from all 50.

Morning Person or Night Owl?

Gina: I’m more of a night owl than a morning person, but I do love the early morning hours when the world is still. I don’t take time to enjoy it as much as I’d like, mostly because I stay up too late at night. See, night owl!

Crystal: My problem, too!

Bookmark or Dog-ear Pages?

Gina: I’ll hang my head as I admit that I dog-ear pages of books. I’ve been trying to be better about using bookmarks, since I’ve acquired so many of them.

Crystal: At least you are trying. 🙂 We can call it the Dog-Eared Anonymous Group

 

The Life of a Published Missionary Kid

You were a missionary kid. Where did you serve and what did you do?

Gina: My family first moved to the Czech Republic in July of 2002, when I was 18 years old. I served there with my parents for 3 and ½ years, before I returned for a term of bible college and then marriage to my (now) husband. I spent my days continuing my education with video and online programs. I babysat a little Czech girl several times a week, and I also helped my mom and dad in whatever they needed done: cooking meals, caring for my brothers, and assisting with ministry-related activities involving Gospel tracts or mailing prayer letters.

Crystal: That sounds like an amazing experience but a difficult one at the same time.

 

What was the hardest thing about being a missionary kid?

Gina: The hardest thing about being a missionary kid was the feeling of isolation. I missed the spiritual fellowship of other believers and I couldn’t speak the language, so I couldn’t even hold a conversation with anyone around me. It takes years to acclimate yourself into another culture and people don’t realize all that entails unless they’ve spent time with another nationality on foreign turf.

Crystal: That really must be hard. Only considering language, I studied French for 7 years and I am still pretty clueless. I can’t imagine learning a whole culture when you don’t speak the language.

 

What has God taught you along your publication journey?

  • That His timing is not my timing and to trust Him. It took 2 ½ years for me to make Whither Shall I Go into the story it was supposed to be.
  • To keep my eyes on why I write and not focus so much on sales and to remember that if my book touches one heart, then I’ve done what He’s asked of me.

Crystal: Those are fantastic lessons every writer should remember. I know for me it can be overwhelming and sometimes I lose focus. I needed that reminder today.

 

WhitherShallIGo

In 1911, Ellie Williams struggles to see God’s hand in her life when she loses both parents and is sent to live with her wealthy, estranged aunt, who transforms her from awkward country bumpkin to socialite heiress. Six years later, she meets a young preacher and finds hope as they serve the Lord together.

Robert Hampton is deeply devoted to God and desires to take the gospel to the unreached natives of Brazil. He didn’t expect to fall in love. When he is drafted, Robert is torn between his duty as a soldier and his budding affections for Ellie. Will Robert survive the trenches? Will he lose the only woman he’s ever loved?

Ellie’s journey takes her from her home in Cades Cove, Tennessee, to the concrete jungle of New York City, and finally to the harsh unforgiving world of the Amazon River Basin, where she meets Paul, a doctor who’s lost his way, and Jack, a soldier with amnesia. Encountering anacondas, jaguars, and an antagonistic shaman, will Ellie give in to the fears that threaten to overwhelm her?

Or can she depend upon God’s grace to bring about His will for her life?

Behind the Story

Do any of your characters reflect your experiences as a missionary?

Gina: Absolutely. Whither Shall I Go is (in part) a missionary story. Secondary characters, Marcus and Judith Smith are missionaries to the country of Brazil, where the main character, Ellie Williams eventually ends up. No matter what country you visit, you will encounter culture shock, so I was able to transmit those feelings to Ellie as she experiences life in a foreign country.

Crystal: I bet it makes the story really authentic to read.

What was your hardest scene to write?

Gina: I don’t want to give too much away for those who haven’t read Whither Shall I Go, but the hardest scene to write is near the end of the book and leads into the main character’s darkest moment. It involves the death of a child and I did not want to write it. I prayed and prayed, but God kept assuring me it was supposed to be in the story.

Crystal: Those are very rough scenes to write and hard for some to read. I am sure God has someone or many in mind when He had you write that scene.

Do you have any upcoming projects, releases, or sales?

Gina: I’m currently working on a contemporary romance titled, No Greater Love. I’m not sure about a release date, I’m still working on the first draft. I’m excited about this new book. I’m calling it a contemporary romance blended with a family drama and a twist of suspense. My goal is to see it to publication before the end of the year.

Crystal: That sounds wonderful and we will be watching for it.

Fun Question of the Day

If you had to live in any time period except the modern day, which time period would you choose?

Gina: I would choose the American Civil War. I love studying the history of that time. I love the clothes and hairstyles. However, I’m not sure I could handle the blood and gore, so maybe pre-Civil War?

Crystal: I love that era, but the more I research it, the more I am pleased I live today! That is for sure!

Thank you so much for visiting with us, Gina!

All right dear readers. Now it is your turn. Answer the fun question of the day and be sure to enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for an e-copy of Whither Shall I Go

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Just comment below AND use the Rafflecopter link below to enter. Entries are open Tuesday 12 AM (EST) 7/17/2018 and close on Monday, 7/23/2108, at 11:59 PM (EST). Winner will be announced on the Whither Shall I Go Review.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Legal Jargon: No Purchase is necessary. This contest is open to all readers in the world, 18 years and older who are legally allowed to participate in such a giveaway as allowed by their local laws. The Write Call does not exchange prizes for reviews. Reviews are appreciated, but not required.*

 

Connect with Gina: 

http://storiesbygina.wordpress.com/blog

www.facebook.com/storiesbygina

www.twitter.com/@ginaholder8

Purchase Links:

eBook- https://www.amazon.com/Whither-Shall-Go-GinaHolder-ebook/dp/B074GZY6S

paperback- https://www.amazon.com/Whither-Shall-Go-GinaHolder/dp/1521303746/

Interview with Kelly Goshorn

Hello, friends! I am so excited to introduce to you one my dear friends and critique partners, Kelly Goshorn. She is an amazing, generous, loving woman who I am so blessed to know. This month her debut novel, A Love Restored, releases and let me tell you, it is a sweet read… but more on that next week. Allow me to introduce you to Kelly.

Author Bio Pic1_small.png

Kelly Goshorn weaves her affinity for history and her passion for God into uplifting stories of love, faith, and family set in  19th century America. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America. Kelly has been enjoying her own happily-ever-after with her husband and best friend, Mike, for 28 years. Together they have raised three children, four cats, two dogs, a turtle, a guinea pig, a gecko, and countless hamsters. Thankfully, not all at the same time. When she is not writing, Kelly enjoys spending time with her young adult children, scrapbooking with friends, board gaming with her husband, and spoiling her Welsh corgi, Levi. Her debut novel, A Love Restored, releases June 29th from Pelican Book Group.

FastFive

Sweet or Unsweet Tea?

Kelly: Unsweet

Crystal: I’m with you there.

Beach Vacation or Mountain Getaway?

Kelly: Definitely mountains

Crystal: And yours are beautiful to drive through in the fall!

Homebody or Love to Travel?

Kelly: Travel

Crystal: Road trips all the way!

Morning Person or Night Owl? 

Kelly: Morning person—VERY early morning. Alarm usually goes off around 4:30 or 4:45.

Crystal: Ugh! I admire you, lady.

Bookmark or Dog-ear Pages?

Kelly: Dog Ear. I write in books and highlight lines I love! Is that sacrilege?

Crystal: Yes, it is, but we forgive you. 😉

Kelly Goshhorn – The Person

What do you like to do when you aren’t reading or writing?

Kelly: I enjoy scrapbooking and cardmaking, though I don’t do that as often as I’d like. Hubby and I enjoy watching movies and BBC programs together as well as going to the theater and playing board games. Living in Virginia, I’m blessed to be within a short driving distance to many historical landmarks. I love planning day trips to battlefields, historical sites, museums, etc. I also enjoy walking my dog several times a day and I’m hoping to begin hiking on some of the nearby mountain trails.

Crystal: I knew there was a reason we were friends. 🙂 We must plan a history trip together.

What has God taught you along your publication journey?

Kelly: My writing journey began with a simple prayer for the Lord to give me a passion. I’d grown weary of childcare and knew it was time to step out into something new but really had no direction. I NEVER saw the writing pencil-918449_640thing coming. I merely began tinkering with a story in my free time, mimicking my son who loved to write and has the goal of being a published author. It was something to fill time while I was waiting on the Lord. Or so I thought. The more I fiddled with the words, the more I enjoyed the process. It didn’t take long for my hidden hobby to become a God-given passion and the answer to our prayers.

But the journey that lay ahead would not only prove to be challenging from a craft point of view, it would require me to face my biggest personal and spiritual obstacle—the fear of failure. In true God fashion, He led me where I needed to be, not necessarily where I wanted to be. Over the next few years, I would be repeatedly plagued with crippling self-doubt and the fear of rejection. What if I mastered the craft, stepped out in faith, and there was no contract? What would that mean for my writing? For my faith?

Conviction set in. I had to pour out my heart and confess to God that I believed He would meet others needs but not necessarily my own. I repented for believing that the finishing work of the cross wasn’t enough. That I didn’t trust He was faithful to do what He said He would do—for me.

The result has been liberating. What I discovered is that God sees not only who we are, but who we can be when we place our trust in Him. He calls us to tackle our biggest obstacles so that we can rest in total dependence on Him.

Crystal: What a beautiful testimony. It truly brings tears to my eyes. God loves us so much.

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

Kelly: As long as I can remember I wanted to be a teacher. I remember playing school very intensely with name cards for each of the ten students in my class set out on cardboard boxes in the basement. My friend and I would spend hours planning lessons and making worksheets with carbon paper (man, does that ever date me). We would fill them out, grade them and record the grades in our homemade gradebooks.

Crystal: I love this picture of you! I had no idea. (And carbon paper… sigh, I’m with you there. When did we get so old?)

ALoveRestored_prc5391_750

A Love Restored

You once said this story parallels your own love story. Can you share a little bit about that?

Kelly: You’re right, Crystal. A Love Restored is based on the true-life romance between my husband and myself, with all its ups and downs, including our tumultuous break-up. (no more about that here, you’ll have to read the story if you want to know the details). I set the story in the 1870s because I’m a history geek. Like my fuller-figured heroine, I’ve struggled with weight issues my entire life and that struggle plays an important part in our story. My own journey to self-acceptance and what a loving God will do to grab a stubborn woman’s attention is pivotal to the storyline.

But A Love Restored is not only a story of love, romance, heartache and restoration, but also a story about the power of words over our lives. It is a story about the struggle each of us faces to take our thoughts captive to the truth of Scripture so we may experience the fullness of God’s unequivocal love for us. As my husband and I discovered, it is only then that we are truly able to give and receive love, unconditionally.

Crystal: I love how God uses our stories and struggles to reach out to others with such a powerful message. This will be a powerful story that will touch many lives.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Kelly: The blank page. I would much rather edit, tweak and polish than fill an empty page. I can usually get the first six or seven chapters out without much trouble but since I’m a panster, sometimes it’s a real slugfest.

Crystal: I getcha! Sometimes I’ll fill a whole page with random letters or cut and paste old work in just so I am not looking at a blank page. (Oops, did I just admit that?)

What did you edit out of this book?

Kelly: My first draft was 116,000 words! Needless to say, A Love Restored was put on a diet and is now a much trimmer 92,000 words. I had several chapters where Ben and Ruth Ann traveled to Pennsylvania to meet his parents. This led to some comical moments because she was raised with household help and Benjamin teaches her how to milk a cow and gather the eggs. I also had a great deal of unnecessary backstory about Benjamin’s life in Texas before he came to Virginia and several flashbacks to his service in the Union Army.

Crystal: An important slimming, but I will miss getting to see some of that information.

And of course, no Write Call Interview is complete without our fun question! 

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot? Why?

Kelly: What a great question! Although many would assume I’d choose a corgi because I’m more than a little obsessed with my dog, I think I’d have to say a turtle. I’m the slowest writer to ever grace the planet earth. But like the turtle, I keep plodding along “slow and steady” until I type “The End.” Team turtle for the win!

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Crystal: I LOVE turtles! Especially of the Teenage Mutant Ninja variety. (Tee hee hee. You know I had to sneak that in.)

Thank you so much for sacrificing time from your busy schedule to complete this interview. I am so proud of you and excited for your release.

Friends, keep reading below to find out more about A Love Restored, connect with Kelly, and a chance to enter to win an e-copy of A Love Restored.

Connect with Kelly Goshorn

Her website: http://kellygoshorn.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kelly.j.goshorn/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/KellyGoshorn

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/KellyGoshorn/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kellyjgoshorn/

A Love Restored

ALoveRestored_prc5391_750

She was nothing like the woman he’d envisioned for his bride, but he was everything she’d ever dreamed of—until a promise from his past threatened their future.

Twenty-year old Ruth Ann Sutton doesn’t measure up to society’s vision of a perfect lady. She would rather read Jules Verne or teach Negro children to read and write than join the Women’s Benevolent Aid Society or practice her voice lessons. Her pert opinions and less than perfect figure keep many suitors away. When Ruth Ann accepts a position teaching at the new Freedman’s School, it threatens the only marriage offer she is likely to receive. Should she risk life as a lonely spinster or reinvent herself to accept a proposal from a man she does not love?

Determined to rise above his meager beginnings, Benjamin Coulter’s reputation as a fast learner and hard worker earn him the opportunity to apprentice with a surveyor for the railroad—a position that will garner the respect of other men. All he needs now is a woman to share his promising future. When Benjamin has a chance encounter with Ruth Ann Sutton, he is smitten with her pretty face, quick wit, and feisty personality. When others ridicule his choice, Benjamin must decide whether he will listen to his heart or put ambition first.

Purchase Links: 

Amazon        Barnes and Noble

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Here it is! The time you all have been waiting for. Enter for your chance to win an e-copy of A Love RestoredJust comment below AND use the Rafflecopter link below to enter. Entries are open Tuesday 12 AM (EST) 6/26/2018 and close on Monday, 7/3/2108, at 11:59 PM (EST). Winner will be announced on the A Love Restored Review.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Legal Jargon: No Purchase is necessary. This contest is open to all readers in the world, 18 years and older who are legally allowed to participate in such a giveaway as allowed by their local laws. The Write Call does not exchange prizes for reviews. Reviews are appreciated, but not required.*

Author Interview: Tara Johnson

The writing community is a wonderful place where you get the chance to not only interact with other authors you know but also get introduced to amazing authors entering the published world. Tara Johnson is one of those amazing meets for me. She is an amazing, loving woman who faces the challenges set before her with grace, faith, and honesty. It is my privilege to introduce you her today.  (And don’t forget to read all the way to the end for a chance to win either an e-copy or a physical copy of her debut novel, Engraved on the Heart.)

Tara Johnson is an author, speaker and singer from Alexander, AR.  A passionate lover of stories, she loves to travel to churches, ladies retreats and prisons to share how God led her into freedom after spending years living shackled as a people-pleasing preacher’s kid.

She and her husband Todd have been married for twenty years and the Lord has blessed them with five children:  Bethany, Callie, Nate, as well as Taylor Lynn and Morgan Lane who are with Jesus.

 
Thank you so much, Tara, for joining me on The Write Call. Now it’s time for fun. *Rubs hands excitement.*

Sweet or Unsweet Tea?

Tara: Sweet tea. I’m a Southern girl.

Crystal: And you haven’t had true sweet tea until you’ve had it made from a southerner! 🙂

Beach Vacation or Mountain Getaway?

Tara: Both! I’m originally from Oregon so I was spoiled by having mountains and the ocean next to each other. If I’m at a beach, I want it to be a cold beach next to rocky cliffs. The coastline of northern Oregon or the North Devon coast in Great Britain is my idea of a perfect getaway.

Crystal: That does sound perfect.

Homebody or Love to Travel?

Tara: I love to travel, but my happy place is to be at home surrounded by my family and puttering around in my garden.

Crystal: I have a black thumb, but I certainly love seeing other people’s beautiful gardens.

Morning Person or Night Owl?

Tara: Morning person. By 9:00 pm, my brain is shutting down.

Crystal: Bless the morning people, for I don’t know how you do it!

Bookmark or Dog-ear Pages?

Tara: Dog-ear. I’m always losing bookmarks.

Crystal: It’s okay, we forgive you. 😉

 

Tara Johnson – the Person

Jeremiah33-3CalltoMe

What is your favorite Bible verse? Why?

Tara: I have too many to count. I love how God uses His Word to speak directly to me for whatever season and situation I’m in. I can tell you several I continually return to for comfort and guidance. The entirety of Psalm 139 has a very special place in my heart. God has used it to assure me of His love time and time again. Jeremiah 33:3 is another special verse. “Call to Me and I will answer you, and tell you [and even show you] great and mighty things, [things which have been confined and hidden], which you do not know and understand.”

Crystal: A great verse to be sure! And very comforting.

You have a ministry outside of writing books. Would you tell us a little bit about that ministry and how you are involved?

Tara: I have a speaking ministry that focuses on helping those struggling with people-pleasing, fear and depression. I grew up as a preacher’s kid and became a ranting, raving people pleaser. I fell for the lie that approval equals love. It took me a long time, and a horrible battle with depression, to realize the two aren’t the same at all. Approval and love are actually polar opposites. These days, I travel to ladies’ groups, churches and prisons to share how God led me into freedom from those lies. I love to share through music, comedy and stories.

Crystal: That is definitely a struggle for many, especially myself. Even with the Truth, it is so easy to fall back into those old ways.

What was the best advice someone ever gave you about writing, life, or anything that strikes your fancy?

Tara: Years ago, I heard Tamera Alexander give some wonderful advice in a class at the American Christian Fiction Writers conference. She said, “Your books are not your babies. They are products. They do not define your worth, nor are they crafted in perfection.” That was very wise advice. It takes the sting out of criticism when it’s time to edit and keeps me from holding those stories too close.

“Your books are not your babies. They are products. They do not define your worth, nor are they crafted in perfection.”

The other great piece of writing advice I received was this: the villain is always the hero in his own mind. Every person deals with wounds, fears and hurt. Remembering that helps me craft believable characters. It also gives me greater compassion when I’m dealing with cranky people. Ha!

Crystal: Very wise words from Tamera! And great advice for crafting a villain.

Engraved on the Heart

 

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You once shared you had epilepsy, something your main character has. Do Keziah’s experiences reflect some of your own experiences?

Tara: Yes. It was very easy to put myself in Keziah’s place. I’ll never forget the shame that accompanied those moments in elementary school when I would find two dozen pairs of eyes staring at me in horror because I had a seizure. I remember how frustrating it was to find a chunk of time yawning like a black hole in my memory. And I remember the helplessness of having no control over my own body. Rather than avoid those old memories, I embraced them and placed them right into the story.

Crystal: It is hard when God makes us face those tough memories, but oh so beautiful when he changes them into ways that bless others.

 

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

Tara: Ma Linnie. I based her off a real person, a woman who never had children of her own but embraced my brother and me and let us call her “Aunt Betty”. She was a hoot, with a bigger-than-life personality. Whenever I think of Aunt Betty, I smile.

Crystal: You did a great job with her. I think everyone wants a Ma Linnie in their life.

What was some of your favorite research you discovered while preparing for Engraved on the Heart?

Tara: All of it was intriguing. I love learning about the courageous women of the Civil War who served as spies and conductors. I found a treasure of a book called “Slave Narratives of Georgia”. It’s a documented record of interviews with former slaves at the end of the 19th century. The varying opinions among them about their former masters, their opinions of the war, the Union and Confederacy, as well as the people who helped them is fascinating. I was surprised by the vast difference of opinion among them. The research was fundamental in forming Hiriam’s character and backstory.

And no Write Call interview is complete without a fun question:

If you could travel anywhere without worry about cost, where would you travel?

Tara: I’m dying to visit Colonial Williamsburg, as well as explore Savannah again. I can never get enough of it. If money were no object, I would head to Italy in a heartbeat. I’ve always wanted to visit and absorb as much of the culture as possible.

Thank you so much, again, for giving up some time to visit with us. I am praying for you and this launch.

Friends, keep reading below to find out more about Engraved on the Heart, enter the giveaway, and answer your own travel question!

Connect with Tara Johnson:

Website: www.TaraJohnsonStories.com

Twitter: @TaraMinistry

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TaraLynnJohnsonAuthor/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tarajohnsonministry/

Engraved on the Heart

Reluctant debutante Keziah Montgomery lives beneath the weighty expectations of her staunch Confederate family, forced to keep her epilepsy secret for fear of a scandal. As the tensions of the Civil War arrive on their doorstep in Savannah, Keziah sees little cause for balls and courting. Despite her discomfort, she cannot imagine an escape from her familial confines—until her old schoolmate Micah shows her a life-changing truth that sets her feet on a new path . . . as a conductor in the Underground Railroad.

Dr. Micah Greyson never hesitates to answer the call of duty, no matter how dangerous, until the enchanting Keziah walks back into his life and turns his well-ordered plans upside down. Torn between the life he has always known in Savannah and the fight for abolition, Micah struggles to discern God’s plan amid such turbulent times.

Battling an angry fiancé, a war-tattered brother, bounty hunters, and their own personal demons, Keziah and Micah must decide if true love is worth the price . . . and if they are strong enough to survive the unyielding pain of war.

Preorder Links:

Amazon.com     Barnes and Noble    Christianbook.com

 

Rafflecopter Giveaway:

Alright, beloved readers, it is the time you all have been waiting for! This time I am giving the winner a copy of Engraved on the Heart (e-book or physical – your choice). Just comment below AND use the Rafflecopter link below to enter. Entries are open Tuesday 12 AM (EST) 5/29/2018 and close on Monday, 6/4/2108, at 11:59 PM (EST). Winner will be announced on the Engraved on the Heart Review the next day.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Legal Jargon: No Purchase is necessary. This contest is open to all readers in the world, 18 years and older who are legally allowed to participate in such a giveaway as allowed by their local laws. The Write Call does not exchange prizes for reviews. Reviews are appreciated, but not required.*

 

Join the Conversation: Where would you travel if you could travel anywhere?

Author Interview: Jennifer Uhlarik

Today I have the great pleasure of introducing you to Jennifer Uhlarik, a wonderful historical romance author. If you are into reading the novella collections that are so popular right now you might already recognize her name. Now I get the joy of giving you a glimpse of the person behind those delightful stories. At the end of the interview, check out your chance to win a copy of one of the novella collections she has a story in.

 

juhlarik-HR-3Jennifer Uhlarik discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list numerous times. In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.

 

Ready to go beyond the blurb? You’ll be glad you took the time to get to know her.

 

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Sweet or Unsweet Tea?

J.U.: Sweet! Like…REALLY SWEET. Cavity-inducing sweet! Anything else is just colored water. 😉

Crystal: A true southern girl, no doubt! Love the, “Anything else is just colored water.”

Beach Vacation or Mountain Getaway?

J.U.: I live in Florida, so beaches are prevalent. I’d prefer a mountain getaway. It feels far more exotic to me!

Crystal: We just got finished vacationing in your area. Definitely a great place to visit, but I can see getting tired of the beaches.

Homebody or Love to Travel?

J.U.: Can I say both? When I’m home…I want to be home in my comfy clothes and chilling with those I love. But I adore traveling too—from planning the trip to sightseeing and hitting all the museums and historic sights each new place has to offer. I guess you could say we’re go-go-go on vacation, and stay-stay-stay at home. LOL

Crystal: Ha, sounds like home might be more relaxing. 😉

 

Morning Person or Night Owl?

J.U.: Hmmm. This is a hard one. I’m somewhat both. I wake usually around 7:15 in the morning, but I’ll stay up until midnight most nights—and 2 AM if I’m really flowing in my writing.

Crystal: I’d put you in the night owl category then! People who enjoy being up before 6:00, those are the crazy morning people. 7:15 sounds reasonable to me.

 

Bookmark or Dog-ear Pages?

J.U.: I’m strictly a bookmark girl! My husband is a dog-ear guy. I cringe every time he turns down a corner, and I have to resist screaming, “STOP, you animal!”

Crystal: I just cringed right along with you. Eek!

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The Writing Journey

What is the hardest part about being an author? What is the easiest?

J.U.: The hardest part of being an author for me is balance. I can be very one-track-minded, so when I’m writing, everything else gets ignored. That’s great for the word-count, but my husband likes to eat each evening, and we often have errands to run, or the house needs cleaning. So keeping all the parts of my life balanced tends to be really hard!

The easiest thing is dreaming up new characters to write about and new adventures for them to experience. It seems I have far more story ideas than I have time to write them.

Crystal: Clean houses and meals aren’t really necessary, right?

 

What are your “have to haves” when it is time to write?

J.U.: A bottle of water or two, a pad of paper and my favorite pen, a blanket to cover my legs, and my dog Gracie. She is my “helper dog,” and she races me to my writing room each day, ready to get to work! (Her version of work is napping on her dog bed in the corner while I slave away at the keyboard, but she makes for good company for those long, lonely hours).

Crystal: I love that you have a writing buddy. She sounds adorable.

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What is your favorite Bible verse?

J.U.: Luke 1:45—Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished.

This verse came to my attention one Christmas season years ago when I was waiting for a promise from God to come about in my life. I’d been through a tough divorce, was raising a child alone, and God had promised me that if I would seek Him first, that there was another (better) marriage in my future. From the first time I heard that verse, it became a lifeline to me as I waited on God’s promise to come true, and even after I was married, I’ve hung onto that verse for each new promise God gives me.

Crystal: I love that story and seeing how God does bless those who believe what He has said.

First Love Forever Romance Collection

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Heartfelt Echoes by Jennifer Uhlarik

1875—Virginia City, Nevada: A short, urgent letter mentioning his childhood love, Millie Gordon, forces deaf Travis McCaffrey to turn to his estranged birth father for help rescuing the woman he can’t forget.

 

 

 

Crystal: I just have to say, I absolutely LOVE Travis and Millie. Of all the novellas I have ever read, I think they are my favorite.

What drew you to create deaf characters?

J.U.: Wow! I am humbled that my characters are your favorites! Thank you. What an honor!

Travis and Millie are characters that appeared in a previous novella, Mountain Echoes, which I wrote for the Courageous Brides Collection. In that story, Travis was a 12-year-old boy who’d lost his hearing the year before. The heroine of Mountain Echoes, Hannah, crossed the Sierras by stagecoach to pick him up and transport him back to San Francisco to attend the California School for the Deaf. I brought Millie into the story in one of the last scenes of Mountain Echoes, one of Travis’s new friends in his new environment. So when I learned the theme of the First Love Forever collection, they were the characters that came to mind. There was already a foundation laid for their romance, and it was simply a matter of them telling me how they were separated.

Beyond having a “history” with Travis and Millie, I have always loved sign language. During my teens, one of my best friends had a sister who was deaf, so I was exposed to sign language and the deaf culture a little through their family. I guess something stuck from my experiences with them because I have known for a long time that I would like to write a story about a deaf character. It was a challenge, making sure I didn’t write any sounds into that story, but I love a good challenge.

Crystal: I didn’t realize there was another story with Travis and Millie.  I will definitely have to check that out. I love how you used the experience of your friends to create a story that others might not have been exposed to otherwise.

I especially loved how Millie had gone through a surgery that affected her. From my own research, that detail was so true to life.

Who or what inspired you to create Millie the way you did?

J.U.: I can credit Millie’s surgery and its effect on her to a wonderful group of friends who helped me brainstorm this story. When we got the word that Barbour Publishing wanted the collection, I had, at most, a synopsis that was roughly a paragraph long, and it may have been only a sentence. As I got to thinking about the story as I’d envisioned it when I wrote the very brief description, I realized that it had some flaws, and I would need to restructure some things. Fortunately, I was headed to the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and signed up for the brainstorming class. In that class, the eight participants each discussed the respective stories represented in the group, and someone threw out the idea of Millie having had a surgery…and the effect it had on her. As soon as the idea was put out, we all knew it was a must for this story. So I can credit Lynette’s brainstorming class—and particularly Patty Smith Hall, since she’s the one who put the idea out there to begin with.

Crystal: How wonderful to have such a wonderful group of people to help you brainstorm.

 

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This novella collection is about First Love Forever. Most people I know dream of finding one person to love and cherish for an entire lifetime, but marriage can be tough.

What is the best piece of advice for marriage you have ever heard?

J.U.: This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. As I mentioned above, I went through a divorce and spent a decade as a single mom before I found love again. God was gracious to me and brought me my Dave—my best friend who is funny, kind, giving, and amazing in so many ways. He makes marriage seem easy (though, no…no marriage is truly easy—at least not all the time. Marriages take work, but when you’re with the right person, the work doesn’t seem so hard).

When Dave and I were planning our wedding, our pastor made an offhand comment during a planning meeting that both Dave and I immediately locked onto. The pastor said, “Marriage isn’t about finding the right person. It is about being the right person.” As soon as the words crossed his lips, we each immediately recognized that our marriage needed to be more than expecting our other half to meet our every need or make us happy all the time. Rather than being self-focused, we needed to have the outlook of “how can I make his (or her) life easier? What does he (or she) need from me now?” Sure, we falter from that at times, but by and large, we’ve had eleven years of marital success by living by this principle—thinking of our other half before ourselves.

Crystal: Beautiful, wonderful advice. It is something I hope many take to heart.

 

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Fun Question of the Day:

If you could spend the day with any author you wanted (past or present), who would it be?

J.U.: I think I’d have to say Louis L’Amour. It was his books that made me fall in love with the western genre. He was a wealth of knowledge about the west, history, and so much more. It would’ve been quite a dream to meet him and listen to the stories he had to tell of his various adventures and experiences in life.

 

Want to learn more? You can find Jennifer on the following:

Webiste: www.jenniferuhlarik.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenniferUhlarikAuthor/?ref=settings

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JenniferUhlarik

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jenniferuhlarik/

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jenuhlarik/

RAFFLECOPTER GIVEAWAY:

Alright, beloved readers, it is the time you all have been waiting for! This time I am giving the winner a copy of Of Rags and Riches Romance Colletion if in the contiguous U.S. or an e-copy of Oregon Trail Romance Collection if not. Just comment below AND use the Rafflecopter link below to enter. Entries are open Tuesday 12 AM (EST) 4/17/2018 and close on Monday, 4/23/2108, at 11:59 PM (EST). Winner will be announced on the First Love Romance Collection Review the next day.

Rafflecopter giveaway

*Legal Jargon: No Purchase is necessary. This contest is open to all readers in the world, 18 years and older who are legally allowed to participate in such a giveaway as allowed by their local laws. The Write Call does not exchange prizes for reviews. Reviews are appreciated, but not required.*

 

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