I have another great author to introduce you to this month, Natalie Monk, who has graciously provided an autographed copy of Of Rags and Riches to give away to one lucky commenter. I had the pleasure of meeting Natalie last year at the National ACFW Conference, just before she received the contract for her debuting novella, For Richer or Poorer. It is a privilege to know her and introduce you to her today.
Natalie Monk is an award-winning writer of historical romance. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency. A preacher’s daughter from South Mississippi, Natalie loves porch swings, old movies, and meeting readers through her website: www.nataliemonk.com.
Thank you, Natalie, for agreeing to an interview and generously providing an autographed book!
Everyone has quirks in their life, whether it be collecting something unique or something you do to relax. What would you say are your quirks?
Oh, fun question! I collect unique tea cups and different kinds of tea to try. I like to crochet to relax, but only in the winter.
How did you become a part of the Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection?
Gabrielle Meyer and I met at the 2015 ACFW conference and later that fall, she emailed me about a Barbour Collection proposal she was putting together and invited me to submit an idea for the anthology (synopsis and first scene). A few months later, we got an email Barbour had accepted the proposal!
What was it like to work in a collection? Did you collaborate with the other authors? Or did you work mainly on your own?
Working in a collection was such a blessing for a debut author like me. I can’t say how helpful it was to have eight other ladies to field newbie questions, share the marketing load, and celebrate “the end.” We kept in communication through a private Facebook group. As far as the stories, we knew a bit about one another’s stories from reviewing the proposal, but we didn’t have to share a setting location or characters, so for the writing we worked on our own.
FOR RICHER OR POORER Blurb:
In order to bring her starving family to New Jersey, Polish immigrant and housemaid Marcella Lipski must marry wealth…so she dons her employer’s discarded ball gowns and goes husband hunting at Newark’s tourist spots. There’s just one problem. Ella can’t speak a speck of English. She considers herself blessed to secure free English lessons from a poor-but-mysterious cart driver—until she loses her heart in the process.
Your heroine speaks Polski. Why did you choose this background for your character? Did you know Polski or did you have to research it?
Ella’s Polish heritage was inspired by a lady I met in South Mississippi, whose Polish parents came to New Jersey during WWI, met in America, married, and had several children. Ella’s character and background took up a major part of my research for the novel. From historical Polish politics, to the immigrant journey, cultural prejudice and the language (including Youtube videos explaining the mechanics of the Polish-English accent), there was so much I didn’t have room to include in the novella. Fascinating to learn about, though! Maybe I can use the info in future novels. 🙂
How did the idea for your story come about?
Due to some internet kerfuffle on my part, I didn’t get into my email to see the invitation to submit to the collection until a week before the submission deadline, so to put it lightly, I needed a quick plot! To help with that, I decided to do a twist on the classic Cinderella story. Remembering the Polish lady I had recently met, I decided to make “Cinderella” a Polish immigrant come to America on a husband hunt to save her starving family. I had also recently read a few biographical writings about George Muller, a man of faith who started orphanages in the 1800s. Things developed from there.
How was God involved in your publication journey or the writing of this story?
Well, Gabrielle and I met because of a scheduling fluke at an editor pitching session, but I’ve come to think of it as a God moment since the novella came together after that. Also, I happened to receive word about the collection opportunity while I was at a Virginia mountaintop getaway—a perfect place to write, and plenty of time to do it. It hit me in the midst of the process, that God arranged for me to debut with Kathleen Y’Barbo, whose fiction I was reading when I had my first “I want to try to write Christian fiction” moment at fifteen years old. Several other of my writing heroes are in this collection as well. I’m so grateful God arranged things the way He did. As the true Dream Giver, I believe He delights in helping us reach our goals when they line up with what He’s called us, and placed within us a longing, to do.
Do you have a favorite Bible verse? What is it and why is it special to you?
Psalm 139:7-10 has always been dear to me. The truth that God is always with us means so much and influences the way we live if we practice it—something I need to do more of. Isaiah chapter 43 and Ephesians chapter 2 are also favorites.
What are you reading right now?
I’m reading Just a Kiss by Denise Hunter and GMC: Goal, Motivation, and Conflict by Debra Dixon. I’ll dig through my TBR pile for a historical romance next, then I’ll be reaching for a romantic suspense!
Some of my followers are authors or aspiring authors themselves. What would you say was the most surprising resource for you that you would encourage others to use?
Hmm. I’m not sure if it would be surprising, but one thing I credit with a major part of my craft knowledge is entering contests. I still put great stock in reading writing craft books, agent or writer blogs, and bestselling fiction in one’s genre, but the contest circuit taught me a lot in a short amount of time. Not always the most comfortable route for the ego, but quick for the essentials and invaluable in developing a thick skin and writer’s intuition about what advice to cull or keep.
The last question is just a fun question my husband uses when he interviews people. If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
Oh my, this is a hard one. Most superpowers seem to come with huge responsibility, but I think I would choose to be able to do hard things faster with energy left over to spend on family and friends and others in need of help. 🙂
What a fun interview, Crystal! Thank you for hosting me on your website. It’s been a pleasure.
Want to connect with Natalie? Readers can chat with Natalie on her website www.nataliemonk.com, Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.
What is your favorite kind of story to read? Do you have a favorite genre? Time period? Plot line?
Comment to be entered to win a copy of Of Rags and Riches. Natalie’s story is autographed! Click here for contest rules. Comments close on Monday, 9/18 at midnight (EST). Winner will be announced in next week’s post. Only one entry per commenter no matter how many comments they make.
Interested in knowing more about the collection. See below and check back next week for a review of the collection and Natalie’s story.
Journey along in nine historical romances with those whose lives are transformed by the opulence, growth, and great changes taking place in America’s Gilded Age. Nine couples meet during these exhilarating times and work to build a future together through fighting for social reform, celebrating new opportunities for leisure activities, taking advantage of economic growth and new inventions, and more. Watch as these romances develop and legacies of faith and love are formed.
Purchase Links: Amazon Barnes & Noble Christian Book Distributors Books-A-Million Walmart IndieBound
I have read Natalie Monk’s story in the Of Rags and Riches collection. I thoroughly enjoyed the plot twists and Natalie’s take on a Polish immigrant’s Cinderella story. I definitely recommend this collection and Natalie’s story for any historical fiction fan.
I enjoyed the interview questions Crystal Caudill provided; especially asking what quirks an author has. It is fun to learn something new about authors. Thank you Crystal and Natalie for the interview, it was entertaining.
So glad you enjoyed it. I still have the copy I borrowed from you and will get it back to you soon. 🙂
Hi, Emily! Thank you for your kind words and for recommending the story. Glad you enjoyed the interview!
Thank you for the interview and giveaway. I love historical fiction stories, especially about the journeys west and teachers on the prairie.
Do you have a favorite author? Janette Oke’s When Calls the Heart fits that description perfectly.
Hi, Tammie! Western prairie stories are dear to my heart as well. Texas stories, too. Trace Peterson, Karen Witemeyer, and Regina Jennings are some favorites.
I live this idea, Crystal. Can’t wait to read this Winter. After I finish my crocheting that is.
What project are you working on?
A fellow crocheter! How fun! I love to listen to audiobooks or let my Kindle read to me while I crochet. Multitasking has never been so fun. 🙂
Great interview. I loved the quirk question and superpower question. Very unique.
Hi, C.C.! Glad you enjoyed the interview!
Thanks for the compliment! I try to think of different questions than the usual.
Great interview, you two. I like when author intervews include details about the book, the author, journey to publishing the work and are still fun. I like historical romance from medieval to the WW2 era.
I read about that range, too. 🙂
Hi, Kylee! Thanks. Crystal is a great hostess!
I love reading romance, both historical and contemporary. One of my favorite plot lines is marriage of convenience or mail-order bride! Thanks for the fun giveaway!
Those are fun reads. I love watching two people grow to love each other.
Hi, Heidi! Same here. I never tire of the marriage of convenience/mail order bride stories. So much conflict to work with!
Absolutely loved this interview! Congratulations, Natalie! My favorite author is Sarah Sundin, and I love reading about WWII, but mostly any timeline, really, where the characters must overcome a challenge and learn that the challenge isn’t as bad as they thought it was.
The WWII era is charming! Watching characters grow is one of my favorite things air a novel. Always encouraging, and challenges us as readers to overcome or own hurdles!
Oops! *in a novel 🙂
I love that, Natalie! Yes, why I read too. 🙂
Great interview! Sounds like my kind of book! Thanks for the giveaway chance, Crystal!! Blessings!
Hi, Cynthia! So good to see you here! Best wishes in the giveaway!
Thank you! Blessings to you as well. It is a great book for sure!!
Loved your interview. I enjoy reading Christian historical romance and thankful to enter the giveaway!
Hi, Faith! A reader after my own heart! 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the interview!
Thanks, Faith! I enjoy Christian historical romance best!
I enjoy suspense allot and add historical to the book and I love it! It’s really hard to pick an absolute favorite genre cause I tend to bounce around depending on what catches my attention.
Congratulations on making it into this book!
jennydtipton at gmail dot com
Hi, Jenny. I just started reading The House on Foster Hill by Jaime Jo Wright. It sounds like what you mentored, suspense with historical thrown in. It’s a dual timeline story going into a 100-year-old murder mystery!
Thanks for commenting, Jenny! I love historical suspense, especially when romance is thrown in. 🙂
Historical Christian Fiction is my favorite genre and the one I read the most!!! I LOVE being able to learn about things while reading a great fiction story! History was so boring to me in school, and when it’s put in a story like setting it just really comes alive to me! 🙂
Many Blessings, Amada (a.m.a.th.a)
I love that aspect of historical fiction as well!
Amada! So good to see you here! I loved the story aspects of history in school, but I always got bored if there were no personal stakes. When history lessons zoned in on one person or family, like Pocahontas or Dolly Madison, that’s when history had my attention. 🙂 That’s what I love about historical fiction. It brings us into the personal daily life of another era.
Thanks, Natalie & Crystal! It’s always great to find another writer/crochet lover. 😊 I also enjoyed hearing about your novella process. Looking forward to reading this book. 📚
Hi, Nicki! Cozy crochet and books go so well together, don’t they? 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!
Hi, Nicki! That is so cool you crochet, too. Crocheters fascinate me. I have absolutely no crafting skills whatsoever. You will love this book.
I love the Barbour romance collections and Of Rags to Riches sounds like a very good collection. Also
Natalie Monk is a new author for me and I’m always excited to find new authors! Thanks for the interview and review of this book!
ibjoy1953 at yahoo dot com
Hi, Joy! Great to meet you! Best wishes in the giveaway!
Hi, Joy! The collection is excellent and Natalie’s story is particularly interesting. You will definitely enjoy reading it.
I love stories that center around people who have been thrown out of their element. Something to do with being a military dependant and moving across country several times. My favorite genre is Historical Romance, particularly when it throws unlikely people together who arent immediately drawn to one another. I love the Revolutionary war period, and have since I was in elementary school and studying it for the first time.
Love that era, too! The grit and pioneering spirit of early Americans is such a challenge and inspiration to us today.
We so need to remember where we came from. Our ancestors fought and died for our freedom, and this generation is spitting on their graves.
I love the revolutionary war and had a couple older stories written in that era before I had any idea what I was doing. One day they may get revived. We will see. 🙂
Cool! I’d love to see your rewrites.
It is likely to be a long time. I have about 8 stories ahead of them. 😂
Oh this looks like such a good collection!! I love historical fiction since I’ve always been a history geek.
Abby! So good to see you! History brings such a charm, doesn’t it!
You are not alone! History geek family here!
I really love these Barbour collections!
My favorite kinds of books are set in the medieval, ancient Roman, and Viking time-periods (though Regency-era is also a great favorite.) My favorite story-line is a master/servant-slave relationship, captor/captive relationship, or arranged marriage stories. I like a strong, protective (even aggressive) hero and I despise a modernized, feminist, overly fierce woman (though I can’t begrudge her a stubbornness and, of course, holding firm to her beliefs.)
Elly, you may like Unseen Love by Nancy Kimball. She has a strong, protective hero with plenty of realistic flaws, and an intriguing heroine.
I feel the same about feminist heroines. Seems a little overdone to me. I like a heroine whom I can root for, but not one absorbed in proving something about herself. So great to meet you!
You too! I’ll check out that book by Nancy Kimball. I’ve not heard of this author before now. Thanks for the recommendation!
UPDATE: Just looked up the book/author you recommended and had to thank you again! Both of her books look amazing! Right up my alley! (Plus, the first two authors listed as her influencers on Goodreads are Francine Rivers and Cliff Graham, two of my absolute FAVORITE authors!) I’m definitely keeping an eye out for Ms. Kimball’s books from now on! Thanks!
Those kinds of heroines can be difficult to swallow as true to the time period as well. I do like stubborn heroines though… probably because I am stubborn. I will have to check out Natalie’s recommendations as well. I am not familiar with Nancy Kimball.
Fun interview! I usually prefer British medieval and Tudor period fiction, and I didn’t even realize Christian historical romance was a thing until I helped you proofread that time… Now I’m intrigued!
It is an awesome thing! 😉 and my story has changed so significantly from what you read, you will be astounded when it eventually gets published.
I like almost all genres of Christian fiction. I have found by reading the historical fiction that I like learning about our country’s history. I did not like history class in school at all. I like to read about any time frame. Thanks for this interview and giveaway.
Hi, Donna! History in school was definitely never as fascinating as reading it through a story. Thanks for commenting!
Donna Brookmyer, you are the winner of a copy of Of Rags and Riches. Please e-mail crystalcaudillwrites (at) gmail (dot) com to claim your prize.
I have not read in a long time but have recently started enjoying historical fiction. I am so glad to be filling my extra time with reading instead of TV. I don’t have a favorite author but am currently enjoying books from the WW1 and WW2 time frame. Thank you for the interview and giveaway!
This is a great novella collection. Lots of time periods and subjects to choose from. Most of them are older than WW1 and WW2 but I think you will still enjoy it!
Thank you everyone for commenting. Check out my post on Newsletters for another opportunity to win a book and also at the end of the month when Joanna Davidson Politano gives a copy of her debut novel, Lady Jane Disappears, to another lucky commenter.
Donna Brookmyer is the winner of their own copy of Of Rags and Riches. Please e-mail crystalcaudillwrites (at) gmail (dot) com to claim your prize.