Meet Amanda Wen

Meet Amanda Wen

Amanda Wen is a fellow Kregel author, and it is my pleasure to introduce to you this Selah and Carol award-winning and Christy finalist author. She is an amazing woman that you don’t want to miss the opportunity to get to know. Even better, make sure to read all the way to the bottom where Amanda is generously giving away a signed paperback to one lucky U.S. resident.

Amanda Wen’s novels have released to both reader and critical acclaim. Her second novel, The Songs That Could Have Been, won both the Selah and the Carol Awards, and her debut, Roots of Wood and Stone, was a finalist for the Christy Award. In addition to her writing, Amanda is an accomplished professional cellist and pianist who frequently performs with orchestras, chamber groups, and her church’s worship team, as well as serving as a choral accompanist. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Amanda currently lives in Kansas with her patient, loving, and hilarious husband, their three adorable Wenlets, and a snuggly Siamese cat.

You can connect with her through:  Website  |  BookBub 

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: Pineapple pizza or candy corn?

AW: Probably pineapple pizza because I can pretend it’s healthy.  

CC: Test the waters or dive in the deep end?

AW: Test the waters. I’m generally a pretty cautious person.  

CC: Guacamole or salsa?

AW: Guacamole, forever and always. 

CC: Silly hats or silly socks?

AW: Socks. Despite my author photo, I’m not usually a hat person!

CC: Passwords or secret handshakes?

AW: Secret handshakes. 

I am a huge guacamole fan, too, especially when it’s homemade and fresh. Oh, man. Now I’m craving some. I guess I’ll have to pick up an avocado, tomatoes, and onion. So lets dive a little deeper into getting to know you.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

AW: I’ve been writing stories since I was old enough to hold a pencil, and I have a vague memory of my dad paying me a penny a word in order to encourage me to write stories. (Decades later, I discovered editors don’t necessarily believe that more words = better, but hey, you gotta start somewhere!) My formal education was focused exclusively on music, resulting in two degrees in cello performance, but when I finished with school, fiction writing still called to me. I wrote a few stories for fun, but didn’t get serious about it until we moved back to my hometown in 2009 and I reconnected with my middle school BFF, who by then was a multi-published general market author. I finally got up the guts to show her my writing and she said I had promise! The rest, as they say, is history… 

CC: How cool is that! I love that your dad paid you to write, and then your friend encouraged you too. (And can I admit I always wanted to play either the violin or cello but that was never offered at my school, so I got stuck with clarinet?)

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

AW: Making time for writing! The beginning of me getting serious about writing not-so-conveniently coincided with my beginning of Life As A Mom, so writing always came in snippets. I always wrote during my kids’ naptime, though, so most days I got 1-2 hours to focus on writing. Now that my kids are teens and tweens, my other job as a musician is what frequently gets in the way! I love love love my day job, and I can’t imagine not doing it, but balancing is sometimes incredibly challenging.  

CC: I can only imagine. You frequently blow my mind with how much you perform, get to be an incredible mother, and yet still find time to write. You are a rock star.

Do you have any advice for those who want to write their own stories?

AW: Just do it! You’ll never know until you try. And hardly anyone is good at it when they first start–I know I wasn’t! Study the craft, dig into books you love and find out WHY you love them, then figure out how to incorporate those elements into your own stories. Finally, connect with the writing community. Those who are further along the path than you are will usually be eager to help you, and as you progress on your own journey you get to extend a hand to those further behind you. It is so rich and rewarding and one of the best parts of being a writer.  

CC: I 100% agree. And I adore helping other writers. It truly is one of the best parts of being a writer.

Now I’m excited to talk about your newest release, The Rhythm of Fractured Grace.

The Rhythm of Fractured Grace by Amanda Wen

When a new customer brings a badly damaged violin into Siobhan Walsh’s shop, it is exactly the sort of challenge she craves. The man who brought it in is not. He’s too close to the painful past that left her heart and her faith in shambles.

Matt Buchanan has had a rough start as the new worship pastor. A car accident on his way into town left him with a nearly totaled truck, and an heirloom violin in pieces. When he takes it to a repair shop, he’s fascinated with the restoration process–and with the edgy, closed-off woman doing the work.

As their friendship deepens and turns into more, they both discover secrets that force them to face past wounds. And the history of the violin reveals more about their current problems than they could have ever expected.

On the nineteenth-century frontier, a gruesome tomahawk attack wiped out most of Deborah Caldwell’s family. Her greatest solace after the tragedy is the music from her father’s prized violin. Given her horrendous scars, she’d resigned herself to a spinster’s life. But Levi Martinson’s gentle love starts to chip away at her hardened heart, until devastating details about the attack are revealed, putting their love–and Deborah’s shaky faith–to the ultimate test.

Full of forgiveness and the message that no one is too damaged for God’s healing touch, the final book in the split-time Sedgwick County Chronicles will thrill fans of Rachel Hauck, Lisa Wingate, and Kristy Cambron. 

Purchase your copy at  Amazon

CC: Where did you get the idea for The Rhythm of Fractured Grace?

AW:  The historical story comes directly from my own family tree, which my mom has been researching for the last 50 years or so. In 1782, my 6x-great grandmother, Delilah Corbly, then 7 years old, survived a tomahawk attack that wiped out her mother and three of her siblings and left her and her sister, Elizabeth, maimed and scarred. Despite her injuries, Delilah lived to adulthood, got married, birthed and raised ten children, and died at the age of 64, which back then was quite the achievement for anyone, let alone someone who’d been scalped! The idea that someone could survive something so traumatic has always been an inspiration to me, so when I started writing novels, I knew I wanted to explore that issue in fiction.

CC: Wow! That is both incredibly horrifying and intriguing. I can see why you would write a story around that.

What readers do you think will enjoy this book?

AW: Readers who like deep fiction that deals with tough issues, split-time fiction, the friends-to-lovers trope, and pioneer-era stories. Also, to anyone who enjoyed Jack and Annabelle in the historical timeline of my debut, Roots of Wood and Stone…they just might show up in this book, too. 😉

CC: Oh! How fun! I love it when characters from other books show up!

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

AW: The contemporary storyline deals with toxic churches, and narcissistic abuse. What I didn’t realize when I wrote the book was that I was trapped in a web of manipulation and gaslighting courtesy of a narcissist in my own life. It wasn’t until I’d submitted the manuscript and was in the final stages of editing that I realized how closely some aspects of what my heroine, Siobhan, went through mirrored my own experience. And just as Siobhan was able–by God’s grace–to forgive her abuser, you guessed it, God called me to forgive mine. And– by His grace–I am thrilled to report that I have.

CC: Praise the Lord for your obedience in forgiveness, and oh my, how my heart hurts that you had to endure it.

What do you hope readers will take away from your story?

AW: The idea that no one is too far gone, too broken, or too damaged for God to redeem and restore.

CC: Amen. Such a powerful thing. To wrap this interview up, I always like to ask a fun question.

If you were stuck on an island, what three items would you have with you? Why?

AW: Sunscreen so I don’t burn, food so I don’t get hangry, and my cell phone (with battery pack) so I could get off the island and get back to Kansas where I belong. (There might not be a big hurry, though; we Kansans don’t get to see islands very often!)

CC: Wise decisions, and I laughed out loud about the cellphone. LOL That is a wise woman, if I do say so myself!

Readers, I hope you’ll check out The Rhythm of Fractured Grace and then leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or BookBub. You wouldn’t believe how important that is to an author.  


GIVEAWAY – U.S. Residents only, ends 11:59 p.m. EST on 2/27/24.

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Reader, have you ever played an instrument? Or did you ever dream of playing one? Which one?

Meet Erica Vestch, Author of Children of the Shadows

Meet Erica Vestch, Author of Children of the Shadows

There is an interesting dynamic in being both a reader and member of the Christian writing community. As a writer, I am SO incredibly blessed to get to know authors I read on a personal level. As a reader, I totally fangirl over getting to meet and know these incredible authors. Which means I’m often squealing on the inside every time I am meeting with each of these women. I’m a hot mess, y’all. So it’s an incredible blessing that I haven’t run them off yet, especially Erica Vetsch. While trying to be professional in this interview, know that I am absolutely squealing on the inside. I LOVE LOVE LOVE Erica’s writing, especially the Thorndike and Swann series. So now it is my immense pleasure to introduce you to one of my favorite authors. 

Best-selling, award-winning author Erica Vetsch loves Jesus, history, romance, and sports. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s planning her next trip to a history museum and cheering on her Kansas Jayhawks and New Zealand All Blacks. You can connect with her at her website, www.ericavetsch.com where you can read about her books and sign up for her newsletter, and you can find her online at https://www.facebook.com/groups/inspirationalregencyreaders where she spends way too much time!

You can connect with her through:  Website Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Amazon  |  BookBub  |  GoodReads

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

 

CC: Sweet or Salty?

EV: BOTH! I love popcorn with M&Ms

CC: Print, E-book, or Audiobook?

EV: Print for research books, and currently audio for fiction.

CC: Coffee, Tea, or Other?

EV: Tea, Black.

Morning Person or Night Owl?

EV: Night owl 🙂

CC: Favorite Holiday?

EV: Christmas

I am with you on the book formats. Unfortunately, my life has been too crazy for print. (Cue sobbing.) But I can’t wait for your book to come out on audio so I can really enjoy it. So let’s dive into the meat of this interview.

What does your writing process look like from beginning to end?

EV: I start noodling an idea, letting it marinate, and begin reading history books set in the place/time I am thinking of. I ask ‘what if’ kinds of questions. Then I schedule time with my adult daughter, who listens to the plot, and asks lots of ‘thread pulling’ types of questions to see what unravels. Then we write scene summaries on a white board, with the characters, settings, plot points, etc. After I have it the way I think it will go (which it does, sort of, but there are always changes as I write it.) I tell my girl the story again. Then I type out a synopsis, with a paragraph for each scene, and usually two scenes per chapter. Then it’s time to sit down and write. I keep the research books handy, and I make notes as I write about what else I might need to research that I didn’t know when I started. Each day, I go back over what I wrote the day before, tidying it up and then writing new words. When I get somewhere between the two-thirds and three-fourths mark of the story, I go back to the beginning and change and rewrite in all the things I’ve changed my mind about or discovered as the story unfolded. When that’s done, I’m able to write a smash-bang finish.

CC: It’s always so fascinating (and freeing) to hear how each author works differently. I have some similarities to your process and now have a few things from yours that I might try out on the next story. 🙂  

What is your writing Kryptonite?

EV: The Internet. Social media, really. I help administrate a wonderful Facebook Group for Inspirational Regency Readers, and that takes quite a bit of time, but I also love Instagram Reels. 🙂

CC: Oh, that dreaded internet and social media. Although I have to admit, I LOVE the IRR group. 

Do you have any advice for those who want to write their own stories?

EV: Write! At first, you may not know exactly what you’re doing or how to plot or craft a story, but write! Finger-paint your story. Then write some more. Don’t obsess over the first story, but begin a new one. Each time you write a story, you’ll learn more about what makes for good storytelling. Read books on the craft of writing, take a writing class online, or go to a conference and sit in the workshops. But above all, write.

CC: I echo this. Without the writing, you can’t have a book. 

Now, I’m excited to discuss your newest release, Children of the Shadows, book three in the Thorndike and Swann series. It’s literally sitting next to me and taunting me to pick it up. Sigh. To-do lists first . . .

Detective Daniel Swann and debutante Juliette Thorndike once again team up to solve a dangerous mystery–while trying to keep their growing romance secret.

Someone is preying upon the street children of Regency London. They seem to think no one will notice when urchins go missing–and even if they are noticed, who will care?

Daniel needs to do something about the missing children. But with recent revelations about his past and an unexpected, somewhat unwelcome inheritance to deal with, this is a terrible time to dive back into the seedy underbelly of the crime world. Nevertheless, he’s still a Bow Street runner, and his partner Lady Juliette is sensitive to the plight of these wayward youngsters. They’re on the case, searching shadowed alleys and coal-drenched streets to find the missing.

But the tangle of expectation and the dynamics of power cannot be easily ignored, even if there are children in danger. When Daniel’s past threatens to overwhelm his future, he will need a miracle and the help of his friends to both apprehend the villain and unravel his tangled family web. And it may be that his new responsibilities demand that he leave the children of the shadows to their terrible fate–or lose everything.

Erica Vetsch’s popular Regency mystery series concludes with a bang, sure to satisfy readers who have hung on every page since book one.

Purchase your copy at  Amazon  |  Baker Book House  |  Barnes and Noble  |  Christianbook 

CC: Where did you get the idea for Children of the Shadows?

EV: This is the third book in the series, and the initial idea popped into my head about 6-7 years ago. What if a girl returned from finishing school to find her parents missing and discovered that she came from a long line of spies for the Crown?
CC: It has certainly been as fun a series to read as the idea was to entertain. I’m so glad you had the idea.
What about this story drew you to it?

EV: I think one of the things I like best about this story, aside from the justice aspect, is that the characters wrestle with some really thorny problems in their faith. Is God both Sovereign and Good? I think many people can relate to those wobbles of faith where they question God’s ability to act, or the goodness of His actions.

CC: That is definitely a true struggle that I think every Christian wrestles with. And I love how you call it a wobble of faith.
What character was the most fun to create?
EV: I love Juliette’s Uncle Bertie, and I’m thrilled that he will be the main character in the next series. He’s so droll with a dry wit and a nice line in irony. He loves Juliette fiercely and wants to see her succeed while at the same time protecting her from harm.
CC: WHAT!!!! Uncle Bertie gets his own series??? Where is the preorder link? I need that book, like yesterday. 🙂 I have to agree. He’s SUCH a fun character.
How did this story affect you as you wrote it? Did God teach you anything through the writing?
EV: It’s always good to revisit struggles that I’ve had in my faith journey, including the Sovereignty/Goodness balance. I was reminded again and again that those two qualities are not mutually exclusive but perfect in every way in the Person of God. 

CC: Amen. It’s definitely not a one and done wrestle, and it’s so fascinating to see how much we’ve grown since the last time we wrestled with it.

 

What do you hope readers will take away from your story?

EV: First of all, an entertaining read with a satisfying ending. Beyond that, if they can see themselves in the characters, learn alongside them, and grow, even in a small way, in their faith journey, that would be icing on the tea cake. 🙂

CC: As a reader, I can say you have definitely achieved that icing on the tea cake. 🙂 Last but not least . . . 

What animal is most like you?

EV: The Manatee. A few years ago, I visited my folks in Florida, and we went to a particular spot on the Gulf of Mexico known for its manatee sightings. As we walked along the pier, there were audio speakers along the rail at intervals, telling the listener about the life of the manatee. At one point, the recording said, “When the manatee isn’t sleeping, it can be found eating,” and I knew I had found my spirit animal. 🙂

CC: LOL, oh boy do I feel that one. Except I don’t eat my leafy vegetables as I should. Thank you so much for visiting us, Erica.

Readers, take my word for it. You do NOT want to miss this series. Grab the first one, The Debutante’s Code, if you haven’t started it yet. If you’ve read this newest and last one of the series, DO NOT tell me what happened. I can’t wait to dive in for myself. But please DO leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or BookBub. You wouldn’t believe how important that is to an author.  


Do you think you’d make a good spy? What quality or trait do you think would be your strength? Your weakness?

Meet T. Elizabeth Renich

Meet T. Elizabeth Renich

There is nothing like the Christian writing community. I have met so many wonderful men and women through this process, and T. Elizabeth Renich is one of those people. She is a wonderful historical author who, after a break for life, has returned to the writing world and is working on some fun projects to get out to readers. Until those release, we decided she needed a reintroduction to readers, and it is my joy to provide that introduction to you. (And if you’re a fan of Literary Tours, you’ll need to check out what she’s offering at the end of this post.)

T. Elizabeth Renich has written four Civil War novels, worked for two NFL teams, and visited all 50 United States of America. International travel has taken her to Germany, Japan, Ireland, Israel, Scotland, and England. She hunts historical markers and shares hope as an ovarian cancer survivor. Her love of photography is evident as she documents research trips and life, giving glory to God for the great things He has done.

You can connect with her through:  Website Facebook  |  Instagram  |  BookBub  |  GoodReads

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

 

CC: Sweet or Salty?

TER: Salty, then sweet

CC: Print, E-book, or Audiobook?

TER: Audiobooks for driving, eBooks for road trips, print books for research

CC: Coffee, Tea, or Other?

TER: Coffee (and protein shakes)

Morning Person or Night Owl?

TER: Night Owl

CC: Favorite Holiday?

TER: Thanksgiving (family, food, and 3 football games!)

I am definitely looking forward to Thanksgiving this year. I love the food, friends, and family, and then on the next day, we’ll have a Dungeons and Dragons day. Or rather, my husband, kids, and a friend will. I’ll be playing with the three-year-old and hopefully getting some writing in as well.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

TER: I don’t remember a time that I didn’t write. It was always an escape for me… But in 12th grade, my Senior Composition teacher insisted that I should use my writing talent and just knew that one day I was going to write a book. She believed in me more than I believed in myself, but she was right.

CC: Those teachers who speak into our lives and really believe in us have an impact beyond words. My 2nd/3rd grade teacher, Mrs. Cooper, was that teacher for me. I am so grateful for the teacher in your life who encouraged you. 

What is your writing Kryptonite?

TER: Internet rabbit trails… I can go chasing details for hours and then realize I didn’t write actual story-related words. (But I love details!)

CC: Oh man. I am soooooooo guilty of that. I love having a fellow detail nerd visiting with me today.

How have you seen God work through your writing journey?

TER: I thought I was done being an author in 2005, but in 2010 things started gearing up for the 150th Anniversary commemorations of all the Civil War events and battles. I did more book signings, appearances, and talks between 2010 and 2015 than I had in the previous five years. Once the anniversaries came to their chronological end, I decided I was done. But I kept getting invited back to the Museum Shop at Gettysburg National Battlefield, and in 2016, I found my books in the Library of Congress. By the time 2018 came, all four print editions were declared out of print. I was done. Except my Kindle books kept selling, and used copies on Amazon’s marketplace… I told God I was done. The stories had run their course. But in 2019, an author friend of mine told me I should write something else, a new set of characters, a different time period. It became a challenge, and I accepted. I’m now working on what I’m praying will be a 3-book series set in the 1770s — because apparently God’s not done with me yet. (My agent has my first manuscript, and I’m working on the second.)

CC: I love how God takes our plans and thoughts and says, “I’ve got a better plan. Come follow me.” Then, He proceeds to lead us on a journey that we never imagined taking, and yet the rewards are so wonderful as we grow closer to Him. And even though He calls many to write, each of our journeys are as unique as He created us to be. Speaking of which . . .

Do you have any advice for those who want to write their own stories?

TER: Start writing. The first step is getting words onto paper (or into your Word document). Words can be polished, rearranged, added, deleted, and re-written, but none of that can be accomplished until you have something written to work with. Then, read what you’ve written out loud. Hear how the words sound. In the meantime, get into community with other writers. ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) is a national group, but there are regional chapters. There are also online groups and Facebook groups where friendly, helpful, and encouraging people can be found. Two of my favorite reader events are the Fiction Readers Summit and the Mississippi River Readers Retreat. I’ve not yet been to Storyfest… Keep writing and keep reading. 

Now it’s time to reintroduce your Shadowcreek Chronicles series–which are getting new covers soon, from what I remember. (Aka, sign up for her newsletter so that you can see them when they’re ready.)

With distinctive historical accuracy, skilled storyteller T. Elizabeth Renich brings the Civil War to life by blending documented facts and memorable characters in a moving account detailing a Confederate family and their determined struggle for survival amid crucial battles and daring cavalry raids…

Book 1: Word of Honor

In the summer of 1862, the War Between the States raged through Northern Virginia. The powers of loyalty and survival draw Salina Hastings into the service of a network of civilian spies organized by her father, a Confederate captain and spy.

Book 2: Matter of Trust

In this exciting second book of the Shadowcreek Chronicles, Salina Hastings faces the darkness of Alcatraz and a treacherous journey back east as she attempts to return to her home, her loved ones, and a life that can never be the same.

Book 3: Not Without Courage

This intense third chronicle of Shadowcreek brings to life a Confederate family’s personal struggle for survival in the midst of one of the fiercest battles in history–the Battle of Gettysburg. Stranded in enemy territory, Salina determinedly finds the measure of daring necessary to continue helping her fellow Rebels, but this time she must face a challenge that will require all the courage she can muster. She must count the personal cost of battle. 

Book 4: Strength and Glory

The fall of 1864 finds Colonel John S. Mosby and his famed Partisan Rangers in a violent clash against Union Cavalry. Everyone Salina Hastings loves is threatened by the brutal crossfire when President Lincoln finally finds a commander in Ulysses S. Grant who will fight Robert E. Lee without mercy.

Purchase there series on Amazon 

CC: Where did you get the idea for The Shadowcreek Chronicles?

TER: When I someone asked me to write a historical novel, I was told I could pick my time period. I had studied most about the Civil War, so that was where I decided the scratch the surface. I am not Margaret Mitchell, and I had no intention of re-writing “Gone with the Wind.” Being a native of Southern California, I extended the Mason-Dixon Line west and, by geography, would have been born and lived in the South. In looking at some old Virginia maps, I found the name Chantilly — so pretty, like the French lace — and then discovered there was a battle there on September 1, 1862. I decided I wanted to write about that battle. So, between the events leading up to the Battle of Chantilly and its aftermath, along with the California connection, I had the base of my story, which turned into a series…
CC: Actually, that is a really fascinating process. I would never have guessed that is how the stories came to be.
What about this story drew you to it?

TER: I wanted to learn what was going on in California during the Civil War. I found out that Abraham Lincoln signed legislation giving the missions back to the Catholic Church between 1860-1865, I found out that there were prisoners locked up on Alcatraz Island (there was an army fort there before there was a penitentiary, and since Lincoln had suspended the writ of habeas corpus, nothing had to be proven, so a few hundred political and southern-sympathizing citizens were incarcerated there until the end of the war. They wanted no trouble in San Francisco, as that’s where the bulk of the gold and silver to finance the Union war effort was coming from. There are thousands of books written about the Civil War and I wanted to find something unusual to include. My stories go from Virginia to California, back to Virginia, up to Pennsylvania, and back to Virginia. When I left California, I ended up living in North Carolina for a time, but then moved to Virginia (and for a while lived within 12 miles of where “Word of Honor” was set) because God has a sense of humor — and now my historical research is mostly within driving distance.

CC: Wow! I seriously had no idea of California’s involvement with the Civil War. I mean I knew it was around and was probably impacted, but I’d never stopped to consider how other than it was just his nebulous Wild West where they seemed to live a separate life from the rest of the US. Now I’m even more intrigued about your books.
Which character was the most fun to create?
TER: Salina Hastings was an interesting character to create because she is so much stronger and braver than me. She does many things I could never see myself doing. Over the course of the four Shadowcreek books, she grows from a barely sixteen-year-old little sister to a seasoned spy, wife, and mother. She finds herself in many a predicament where she must rely on God’s strength, provision, and protection to get her through to fight another day.
CC: It seems like she must have had a lot of hard growing up to do with all those descriptors.
What was some of your favorite research you discovered while preparing for The Shadowcreek Chronicles?
TER: I was able to go to the underground portion of Alcatraz, where the old fort used to be, and see the carvings on the walls where they kept prisoners. I had a permission slip from J.E.B. Stuart IV to have research access to his family papers collection held at the Virginia Historical Society. I was walked across the East Cavalry Battlefield at Gettysburg by a licensed battlefield guide so I would be facing the proper direction of the charges I was writing about (and thereby make injuries to cavalrymen characters in accurate locations on their bodies depending upon which way they were riding into the fray against the enemy).
CC: The history nerd in me is SO STINKING JEALOUS. Those experiences had to be incredible! 
How did this story affect you as you wrote it?
TER: When I was working on the original manuscript of my Shadowcreek Chronicles (Book 1 is Word of Honor), our country was engaged in Desert Storm. I’d get up every morning and turn on the news to see if there were any updates of action that might have happened overnight. I had five friends who were in Iraq and the theater of war there in the Gulf. Lots of prayers were said for them. I was on hand to welcome an aircraft carrier back to San Diego, and the sailor for whom I had displayed a yellow ribbon somberly removed it from my car’s antenna, claiming it for himself. He said prayers are what kept him going. Those kinds of real-life anxieties, uncertainties, and triumphs made their way into my Salina character as she read newspapers, searched casualty lists, went to welcome home a transport ship for prisoner exchange, and exulted in victory of the Army of Northern Virginia’s cavalry regiments. War was real, and surreal during that time for me.
CC: My heart grieves for you, and for so many who have loved ones in the wars raging. I know know that the Ukraine War became very real to us as coworkers from Travis’ work were trying to escape the country with their children, but had to leave their husbands behind because of the mandate that all men must serve. I can only imagine their continued searching the papers and trying to find out anything they can as they continue to be separated from their loved ones in the midst of a war taking lives. And then we have the horrors of the Humas situation and Israel. I see how you were able to weave those emotions in so realistically.
What do you hope readers will take away from your story?
TER: I hope my readers will enjoy learning history they likely weren’t taught in school. That the places I write about, for the most part, still exist and can be visited. That historical markers along the side of the road are just the tip of the iceberg — but they can fuel ideas and make you want to dig deeper into the history. Homeschoolers have used my books as supplemental reading material. American history is not always pretty, but it is ours, and it is fascinating. There is something to be said for learning history so we don’t have to repeat the mistakes of the past — not whitewash or alter the truth. We owe a great debt to those who came before us — those who founded our country and those who have fought to preserve our freedom.
CC: I heartfully agree. And to be honest, I’m happy to see that southern perspective. As we deal with a current perspective that vilifies the South, I love that it brings us back to the fact they were human, that war is ugly, and that things are more complex than the black and white we like to view things.

Do you have any other fun facts you’d like to share as we wrap-up?

 

TER: I recently learned I am a “third generation” read. Initially, a friend of mine from church read my books and loved them. She gave them to her then-junior high aged daughters. Both daughters grew up and could recite passages of my books because they loved them. Both young ladies got married and had children — some of whom are named after my characters. An eleven-year old son (my friend’s grandson, if you follow) has read all four of my books and loved them. How cool is that?
CC: That is actually REALLY cool. How neat to know that your stories can pass through the ages and still be enjoyed.
Now would you take a moment to share with us the really cool literary and historical tour you’ll be hosting next year? 

 

 

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TER: I HAVE A BIG ANNOUNCEMENT! I am so excited to tell you all about plans for a new adventure taking place in Virginia, Washington, DC, and Pennsylvania! Places to go see and be seen… The historical sites we’re going to visit are those I’ve already written about in my Shadowcreek Chronicles series and those that will be included in the 1770s series I’m currently writing. If you’ve read The Lacemaker, Tidewater Bride, and A Heart Adrift by Laura Frantz, or Jenny L. Cote’s Epic Order of the Seven series, you will recognize places from those books, too! You can get more information HERE

Readers, I hope you’ll check out The Shadowcreek Chronicles and then leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or BookBub. You wouldn’t believe how important that is to an author.  And take a look at the travel opportunity. I know my history nerd little heart is giving it some serious consideration.


Reader, if you could travel anywhere for a literary/history tour, where would you want to go?

Meet Jaime Jo Wright

Meet Jaime Jo Wright

If you’ve never had the chance to meet Jaime Jo Wright, you NEED to. Even if it is only through her Facebook. This woman is down-to-earth, living off coffee, and loves God and Edgar Allan Poe. You can’t go wrong hanging out with her. And now I get the joy of introducing YOU to her. 

Jaime Jo Wright is a coffee-fueled and cat-fancier extraordinaire who resides in Wisconsin’s rural woodlands. Her literary vocation involves penning chilling Gothic tales, with a strong preference to the master of dark, Edgar Allan Poe. Jaime’s books will keep you on the edge of your seat, with twists and turns that will leave you breathless. She is a multi-award-winning author, with numerous bestsellers under her belt.

You can connect with her through:  Website Facebook  |  YouTube  |  Instagram |  BookBub  |  GoodReads

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

 

 

CC: Sweet or Salty?

JJW: Definitely salty

CC: Print, E-book, or Audiobook?

JJW: Print because you can’t smell the pages on an eBook!

CC: Coffee, Tea, or Other?

JJW: Coffee – duh.

Morning Person or Night Owl?

JJW: Neither – Sleeping is my hobby.

CC: Favorite Holiday?

JJW: Halloween – because Edgar A Poe and Ravens and Cats.

Your coffee habit cracks me up, and seriously, you can’t go wrong with Edgar Allan Poe.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

JJW: When I got frustrated that there were none of the books I wanted to read! Then I realized they were in my head, so I decided I should write them. I was 9.

CC: I love how you took control of your reading life at such a young age. That is fantastic.

What does your writing process look like from beginning to end?

JJW: Absolute chaos. I’m unorganized, inefficient, and the last-minuter everyone gets annoyed by. Although, I actually have some structure in my actual story writing . . . once I start.

CC: I so relate to that “once I start.” Chaos is totally my writing kryptonite, which makes me wonder.

What is your writing kryptonite?

JJW: My short attention span. And no, I’m not ADHD. I just enjoy too many things and want to do them ALL!

CC: There really are too many things that need doing in a 24-hour period. I can never do them all . . . But I try.

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

JJW: The last two years for many unspoken reasons, but also my mom’s moving to Heaven was like a punch in the gut. Happy for her, but man, it’s been tough!

CC: I’ve yet to lose a parent, so I can only imagine. But know that my heart hurts for you and you are in my prayers as you face “all the stuff.”

How have you seen God work through your writing journey?

JJW: Gosh! The people in this community of books are AMAZING encouragers. Whether from the Christian community or general book community, readers are cheerleaders and deserve awards.

CC: Amen to that. The reading community is such a blessing from God.

Do you have any advice for those who want to write their own stories?

JJW: Just write. Seriously. I’m a firm believer people can study the craft too much, because I’ve talked to writers who’ve read every craft book and have yet to finish one manuscript. So WRITE!

CC: Yes, writing is the #1 thing to do. But this is where I’m also going to plug Jaime’s MadLit Mentoring services because she’s too modest to bring it up here. Jaime offers workshops, small group writing courses, mentoring opportunities, and focused group sessions. Check it out, because she is a GREAT mentor!

Now I’m excited to talk about your newest release, The Lost Boys of Barlowe Theater.

It promises beauty but steals life instead. Will the ghosts of Barlowe Theater entomb them all?

Barlowe Theater stole the life of Greta Mercy’s eldest brother during its construction. Now in 1915, the completed theater appears every bit as deadly. When Greta’s younger brother goes missing after breaking into the building, Greta engages the assistance of a local police officer to help her unveil the already ghostly secrets of the theater. But when help comes from an unlikely source, Greta decides that to save her family she must uncover the evil that haunts the theater and put its threat to rest.

Decades later, Kit Boyd’s best friend vanishes during a ghost walk at the Barlowe Theater, and old stories of mysterious disappearances and ghoulish happenings are revived. Then television ghost-hunting host and skeptic Evan Fisher joins Kit in the quest to identify the truth behind the theater’s history. Kit reluctantly agrees to work with him in hopes of finding her missing friend. As the theater’s curse unravels Kit’s life, she is determined to put an end to the evil that has marked the theater and their hometown for the last century.

Purchase your copy at ALL THE PLACES by visiting this link to pick your favorite vendor.

CC: Where did you get the idea for The Lost Boys of Barlowe Theater?

JJW: My psychotic brain? Seriously though. Local lore on this one. Lots of ghost stories surrounding our theater on which Lost Boys at Barlowe Theater was based.
CC: Local lore can be such a great inspiration for SO many stories!
What about this story drew you to it?

JJW: Honestly? The ghost stories. I’m not a theater junkie, although I do love beautiful architecture. But the ghost stories that still swirl around our local theater were demanding ot be used.

CC: Jaime Jo Wright intrigued by a ghost story??? I would never have guessed!!! LOL 
Who do you think will be the readers who most love this book?
JJW: Readers who love creepy, mysterious thrillers but without outright horror and gore. I call it “Edgar A Poe meets Scooby Doo”.
CC: As much as I love Edgar Allan Poe and Scooby Doo, I really need to pull up my big girl panties and read your books. This sounds like a fun one to start with too. That being said, I always like to wrap my interviews up with a fun question, so . . .
What animal is most like you? Why?
JJW: A cat. Because they sleep a ton. 

CC: I love that. I wish I could sleep a ton. Although, lately I have been sneaking a nap in every day . . . And just because you are too fun not to ask . . .

 

If you were a pirate, what would your nickname be?
JJW: Whiskey Jo. I don’t know why. It just sounds fun.
Readers, I hope you’ll check out The Lost Boys of Barlowe Theater and then leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or BookBub. You wouldn’t believe how important that is to an author.  

Reader, how do you feel about books that are compared to Edgar Allan Poe and Scooby Doo? Have you read any of Jaime’s books? Which one would you recommend to a first time reader?

Meet Ruth Douthitt With Giveaway

Meet Ruth Douthitt With Giveaway

I had the honor of meeting Ruth Douhitt for this interview. Doing these interviews is one way that I can support other authors, and she took me up on the opportunity that I put out there in a writing group I’m part of. I’m so glad she did. Let’s get to know her together!  

Former writing teacher Ruth Douthitt is an award-winning author of many books for middle-grade readers and adults in fiction and non-fiction. She is the winner of the Moonbeam Children’s Books Award-Bronze Medal for Best Book Series and the 2022 Christian Indie Awards First Place for YA. The Doors of Rome is the first book in her Christian-themed women’s inspirational fiction series. She currently works for Grand Canyon University and lives in Phoenix with her husband of 35 years and their little dog. When she isn’t writing, Ruth loves to run, draw, paint, and garden.

You can connect with her through:  Website Facebook  |  GoodReads

 

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

 

CC: Sweet or Salty?

RD: Sweet

CC: Print, E-book, or Audiobook?

RD: Print

CC: Coffee, Tea, or Other?

RD: Coffee

Morning Person or Night Owl?

RD: Night Owl

CC: Favorite Holiday?

RD: Christmas

Is there anything better than curling up to read a good book with a hot drink in front of a lit up Chrsitmas tree? Sigh. We’re getting closer!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

RD: When my family said I was a good story teller. That was when I was in college.

CC: Familes can have such an impact on how we grow and what we pursue. I’m so glad they told you that you were a good story teller. 

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

RD: Being Indie published is difficult because of the marketing and publicity. I find it a challenge, but I am learning. I love learning new things, so it’s helped me grow as a person and writer.

CC: There really are so many aspects of being an author that stretch well beyond just writing the book.

How have you seen God work through your writing journey?

RD: I never intended to be a writer. I am an artist first, but I can clearly see how He guided me toward some story ideas and away from others. Just when I want to give up and quit, He’ll show me that this is the path He wants me on by my winning an award or receiving an excellent review. It’s that pat-on-the-back I need to keep going.

CC: It really is such a hard job. Praise the Lord that He is kind enough to carry us through and encourage us on that journey.

Do you have any advice for those who want to write their own stories?

RD: Read a lot and write something every day, even if it’s just 200 words. Writing is a skill that we lose if we don’t practice. So is reading! I recommend reading a lot to see what others are doing and what publishers are interested in.

Great advice!

Before we dive into questions about your newest release, let’s find out what it’s about.

A delightful, up-lifting story of an ordinary woman whose life is transformed by one simple task: Photographing the doors of Rome.

Salt-of-the-earth housewife, Millie Devonshire enjoys making a home for her husband and going on “therapy” jogs with her best friend, yet Millie feels adventure is missing from her life. Middle-aged, childless, and married to all-too-practical Walter, Millie is consistently told to wait until retirement for their adventurous life to begin. One day, she enters a photography contest and wins first prize—an all expense paid trip to Rome for two. Certainly Walter will agree to go on this free adventure with her, right?

When Walter declines because he’s up for a promotion at work, Millie decides to make her own dreams of adventure come true. She heads to Rome with her best friend and running partner, Edith instead. Yet Edith has her own demands: She’ll go only if Millie runs the Rome Marathon with her. When Millie and Edith arrive in Rome, they have no idea how their lives are about to be turned upside down and how many other lives will be transformed forever. Always kind, always cheery, and always hopeful, the indomitable Millie takes Rome by storm and learns some of life’s greatest lessons along the way: If you don’t invest in love, you’ll lose it and sometimes you have to leave someone behind to get their attention.

Purchase your copy at  Amazon 

 

CC: Where did you get the idea for The Doors of Rome?

RD: From our trip to Rome in 2018. I ran the Rome Marathon and almost had to quit. At the finish line, I told my husband about what happened and felt there was a plot for a book in there somewhere!

CC: Life does bring some of the greatest inspiration for books, doesn’t it?

What about this story drew you to it?

RD: I wanted to tell a story to encourage and inspire women in their 50s or above. I ran that marathon at age 51. I’m big into inspiration and using my stories to encourage and motivate people to personal growth. So, this story has special meaning in that it follows two ladies in their 50s on an adventure. Life doesn’t end when we get older! We can still reinvent ourselves.

CC: I love that. So many stories are characters who are young, and the older I get, the more I appreciate older characters.
Who do you think will be the readers who most love this book?
RD: Readers of women’s adventure fiction (Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris, for example…) who like light romance, comedy, and scenic settings will love this book.

CC: Adventure fiction sounds like a good draw to me!

Who was the most challenging character to create?

RD: Judith. She’s the “villain” or main antagonist who irks and challenges the protagonist, Millie. She was difficult to write because I didn’t like her and I knew readers wouldn’t like her. She has everything yet complains. Her heart is filled with resentment, so she cannot see the beauty around her. That saddens me.

CC: It’s definitely hard to be around those types of personalities. 

Which character was the most fun to create?

RD:
Edith! She was so fun to write because I know many women like her. She’s blunt but kind. She’s interesting because she’s had a fascinating life. She has a sharp wit that I wish I had! Many readers told me they love Edith. She’ll appear in the other books.


CC: Yay! It’s always fun to see repeat characters.

What was some of your favorite research you discovered while preparing of The Doors of Rome?

RD: Researching the famous Boboli Gardens in Florence. That was a delight! I had to research some of the Vatican because I had forgotten. That was fun. But it was the FOOD that I enjoyed researching about the most. I have a family friend who is a sous chef from Sicily, so he helped me with the food, wine selections, and some of the language used.
CC: Oh, man. You have access to that sort of research? I’d be having my Sous Chef friend teach me all the ins and outs of cooking an amazing dish! How fun for you!

How did this story affect you as you wrote it?
RD: Yes! God reminded me of the importance of contentment and the poison of discontentment. As I wrote about a couple struggling with marriage, it made me appreciate my own marriage and my husband. God also reminded me about the time I relied on everything but Him to get me across that marathon finish line. Marathon running is very humbling.

CC: Such an important lesson to be sure!

What is next for these characters?
RD: What’s next for these characters? I am plotting out book two, which will follow Joy to Venice for her own adventure. Next, book three will follow Edith to Florence, where she’s inspired to write another romance.

CC: It sounds like readers have a lot to look forward to. Before we wrap up this interview, I have one last question for you:
Which animal is most like you?
RD: The Dragon. I have a tough scaly outer shell, but underneath, I am soft. I can be fierce when I need to be! I love dragons because they are paradoxes in that they can be hideously ugly yet gracefully beautiful. They can be fierce yet gentle. They are powerful yet vulnerable.
CC: I’d never thought about those paradoxes, but you are right! I have a new respect for dragons.
Readers, I hope you’ll check out The Doors of Rome and then leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or BookBub. You wouldn’t believe how important that is to an author.  

Reader, have you ever traveled internationally? Where did you go?


GIVEAWAY OPPORTUNITY

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Meet Linda MacKillop

Meet Linda MacKillop

Today I have the honor of introducing a new to me author, so it’s my hope she will be new to you as well and we can both add a book onto our TBR pile. 

Linda MacKillop holds an MFA in Creative Writing and is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild. Her articles and essays have appeared in magazines and journals such as The Philosophical Mother, The MacGuffin, and Relief Journal, and her writing has been nominated for both the Pushcart Prize and Best American Essays. The Forgotten Life of Eva Gordon is her first novel. Her second novel titled Hotel Oscar Mike Echo releases June of 2023 for middle-grade readers. Linda makes her home in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois.

You can connect with her through:  Website Newsletter Facebook  |  Instagram  |  GoodReads

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

 

CC: Sweet or Salty?

LM: Salty with a side of sweet.

CC: Print, E-book, or Audiobook?

LM: Print

CC: Coffee, Tea, or Other?

LM: Definitely coffee!

Morning Person or Night Owl?

LM: Neither.

CC: Favorite Holiday?

LM: Thanksgiving

I think I definitely am falling into the neither category for Morning Person or Night Owl anymore. Although, I’m definitely not a morning person since I fell down the steps in my half-groggy state one morning in July.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

LM: When I was 16 years old and wrote a poem that caused me to sit back and feel like the words came from outside of me. The poem was on acceptance and taught me something new.

CC: It never fails to amaze me how our writing can teach us something–even when it “came” from our imagination. 

What does your writing process look like from beginning to end?

LM: I’m a “pantser” trying to learn how to be a plotter. For anyone who doesn’t know those terms, I write by the seat of my pants, but this practice causes problems when all the threads don’t come together or need a major overhaul in the end. Usually an idea in real life strikes me, and I begin to ask myself questions: What if it wasn’t a young woman, but an older woman? What if this setting in Illinois was moved to Virginia? What if the character had a lot of regrets in their past? But my favorite part of the writing process is revision when I get to fine tune and smooth out language while fleshing out the storyline.

CC: What if statements are such a fun and sometimes dangerous road. All those stories and not enough time to write them all!

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

LM: Finding a plot line that is both original and compelling for readers to keep them turning pages.

CC: Ugh! That is just absolutely petrifying to think about. Both original and compelling is a miracle from God.

How have you seen God work through your writing journey?

LM: He has fulfilled my dream of publication in my later years. Let’s just say I’m a late bloomer.

CC: Considering God called Noah when he was around 500 to build the Ark, I think you’re still a spring chicken. 😉 

Do you have any advice for those who want to write their own stories?

LM: Read lots of books, practice writing, and practice some more. Find your tribe of writers to keep you encouraged and growing.

Now I’m excited to talk about your debut, The Forgotten Life of Eva Gordon.

Eva wants to run away from her life–if only she could remember how.

Failing memory has forced Eva Gordon to move in with her granddaughter, Breezy. But Eva hates the bustle of Boston. All she wants to do is move back to her quiet, cozy Cape Cod home and be left alone.

Then Breezy announces she’s getting married, and they’ll be moving to her new husband’s rundown family farm, where he lives with an elderly uncle. They’ll be one big family–but only Breezy and Brent think it’ll be a happy one.

It’s all too much for Eva. Too much change, too much togetherness, too much of an over-crowded life she never wanted. But as her desire for privacy collides with her worsening memory, Eva may find herself in a pickle she can’t get out of. Can an unlikely cast of misfit characters step in to woo Eva from her self-imposed isolation?

Purchase your copy at  Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Christianbook

CC: Where did you get the idea for The Forgotten Life of Eva Gordon?

LM: My brother was dating a woman with two small children while living with our elderly uncle. I began to ask the questions, What if she didn’t have young children but was also living with an aging relative? And what if that relative hated the living arrangements? And what if that relative desperately needed people who would move toward her despite her abrasive personality rather than letting her repulse them? Eva Gordon was born!
CC: As a caregiver, I can certainly see the challenges faced by all. The concept is definitely a realistic one, or at least one I can relate to.
What about this story drew you to it?

LM: I have wondered for many years why some people in life could be such curmudgeons and difficult to live with, but also loveable. I’ve known a few of these people–but I’m sure to some folks, I am one of these curmudgeons!

CC: LoL. The older I get, the more curmudgeonly I feel!
Which character was the most fun to create?
LM: Mabel was so fun to create. She’s a bit zany with her idea of attending the funerals of strangers while having a really sacrificial side. I love her!
CC: That is really interesting. Attending the funerals of strangers. That might actually make for good story fodder . . . But I am getting side-tracked. Speaking of zany, I love to ask on fun question at the end of our time.
You are in the back of a police car on your way to jail. What did you do? and is anyone with you?
LM: I’m all alone, and I forgot to pay for my Target items before heading to Starbucks (also inside the store). After grabbing my coffee, I just left the store. This could really happen to me!
CC: LOL! It’s really easy to get distracted in today’s world. I can see that happening to a lot of people.
Readers, I hope you’ll check out The Forgotten Life of Eva Gordon and then leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or BookBub. You wouldn’t believe how important that is to an author.  

Reader, have you ever had an elderly relative live with you? What were some of the good and bad things of it? If you haven’t, what do you think would be hardest about bringing an elderly relative into your home?

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