Meet Grace Hitchcock, Author of To Catch a Coronet

Meet Grace Hitchcock, Author of To Catch a Coronet

I have had the blessing of knowing Grace Hitchcock almost from the very beginning of my writing journey. I have loved her stories, from her novella collections to her American Heiress and Aprons and Veils series, and now I’m in LOVE with her new Regency series, Best Laid Plans. To Catch a Coronet, book one in the series, is available wherever books are sold beginning TODAY. How incredibly exciting, and now I get to introduce you to the author herself.

Oh, and before the introductions, I wanted to let you know that Grace has graciously offered 2 autographed paperbacks of The Finding of Miss Fairfield. You can enter the giveaway for those at the bottom of this post. 

Now let me introduce you to this wonderful author and friend.

Grace Hitchcock is the award-winning author of multiple historical novels and novellas, including the American Royalty, True Colors, and Aprons & Veils series. She holds a Master’s in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace lives on the Northshore of New Orleans, with her husband, Dakota, sons, and daughter in a cottage that is always filled with the sounds of sweet little footsteps running at full speed. When not writing, or chasing babies, she’s baking something delightful and can usually be found with a book clutched in her fist.

You can connect with her through:  Website (Download a free novella while there) |  Amazon  |  BookBub  |  GoodReads  | Instagram  |  Facebook

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

 

CC: Pineapple pizza or candy corn?

GH: Candy corn, 1000%

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

GH: Test for sure. You never know what is in the water (pool or rivers) in South Louisiana!

CC: Guacamole or salsa?

GH: Guacamole!

CC: Silly hats or silly socks?

GH: Silly socks. I love collecting bookish socks!

CC: Passwords or secret handshakes?

GH: Secret handshakes.

Yeah, I wouldn’t dive into Louisana waters either. LOL I’m no alligator wrestler. However, I’m not going to let you test the waters now. Let’s dive right in.

What book has most impacted you?

GH: I feel like every season, there is a novel that touches me. The one that stuck the longest has to be Tracie Peterson’s Westward Chronicles (a Harvey Girl series). They are moving, unique tales that inspired me to write my own Harvey Girls stories! I re-read them every few years.

CC: How fun to have them inspire your own series. I am totally with you on each season having its one novel that touches me.

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

GH: When I turned twelve, I began to read pretty exclusively Christian Historical Fiction and read pretty much every book our local library had to offer! I loved the romantic element that long gowns, courting, and etiquette lent stories. When I encountered stories that ended with the heroine marrying the wrong guy (in my opinion haha), I would re-write the endings in my head and eventually, decided to try my hand at writing a novel and I was hooked by the genre!

CC: I love it! If you can’t find what you want, write it! 

What is your writing Kryptonite?

GH: Exclamation points!!!! Apparently, I’m a very excited writer in the first draft. Every time I finish writing the first draft, I text my mom and have her guess how many I used in a 330 page novel. She is generous and usually guesses lower than the count on the last book I wrote . . . but the count is always high no matter how mindful I think I am being while writing. I usually have about 200+ exclamation points for the 330 pages. I weed them down to 40 at most!

CC: Ha! Ha! I can totally see that fitting your personality. Now I will look at every story and wonder which ones were exclamation points before you changed them.

Speaking of stories, let’s talk about your debut Regency novel, To Catch a Coronet.

Sometimes the only way to outsmart a scandal is to find a crown big enough to silence it…

Muriel Beau, country baker turned heiress, can’t stop instigating outrage. She discards two arranged engagements, then further antagonizes Kent society by publicly proposing to a baron at a ball. His rejection leaves her with no choice but to flee to the city and to secure a coronet so splendid that her peers will forget her debacles. The glitter of the London courts convinces Muriel that it’s possible to find the future she dreams of, until she finds herself entangled in yet another escapade–one that may cost her more than her crumbling reputation.

After years of serving as a privateer under an assumed name, Captain Erik Draycott, heir to Draycott Castle and soon to assume his uncle’s title of Earl, returns to his London home to find it in disrepair thanks to his longtime nemesis. A staunch bachelor intent on returning to his ship, the captain is shocked when his mentor encourages him to take a wife. But while his alleged pauper status causes the potential London brides to turn their noses up at him, the ladies of Kent have no such qualms and are eager to fill his coffers with their fathers’ wealth.

Caught in a whirlwind of high society and high seas, Muriel and Erik navigate a risky undertaking that threatens their futures and creating stakes that soar above the masts of Erik’s ship. Will Muriel’s bold charm and Erik’s daring bravery be enough to outsmart the scandal and secure a future as glittering as the crown Muriel seeks?

Purchase your copy at  Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble  |  Autographed Copy

CC: What about this story drew you to it? Does this story have any special meaning to you?

GH: I first had this idea when I was watching a Hallmark about a girl who proposes to a guy and it goes totally wrong. And the “what if” train of thought led to Muriel, a baker turned heiress during Regency England. The baking element is pretty special to me. After a devastating miscarriage, I needed a distraction, so I decided to bake my way through a Christmas baking magazine. I had my family mark which recipes they wanted to try, and I just baked and baked for two months. It was great therapy as God healed our hearts and I knew that my character, Muriel the baker, would use baking as her therapy too.
CC: So many hugs, my friend. Baking truly is one of the best therapies in the world. . . even if it isn’t great for a waistline.
What was some of your favorite research you discovered while preparing for this story?

GH: Oooh this was a goldmine to research! I bought so many great resources that Erica Vetsch so kindly recommended. My favorite discovery while researching was Vauxhall Gardens, a pleasure gardens in London that I had no idea existed. I, of course, had to add it to the book, To Catch a Coronet! And I have pics on my pinterest page if you want to see the gardens for yourself: https://www.pinterest.com/grace_hitchcock/to-catch-a-coronet-by-grace-hitchcock/.

CC: Erica is the best for sharing what she knows. And I loved getting to visit Vauxhall Gardens in your story.
What do you hope readers will take away from your story?
GH: I want them leaving feeling like they have met new friends that they want to visit again, had an adventure, visited castles, laughed until they were breathless, and looking forward to the next story!
CC: I can confirm that you achieved that! I loved To Catch a Coronet and even was ready to read it again only a couple months later! Now it’s time to wrap up our interview with a fun question.

 

You are in the back of a police car on your way to jail. What did you do? and is anyone with you?
GH: I was found after hours inside the Biltmore because I accidentally got lost in time and thought, exploring the titles in the library. My husband would be with me because he is all for a great adventure!
CC: That library is amazing, and how awesome that your husband would join you!
Readers, I hope you’ll check out To Catch a Coronet and then leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or BookBub. You wouldn’t believe how important that is to an author.  

Giveaway Info

Grace Hitchcock is graciously providing two U.S. residents, 18 years and older, with a signed copy of To Catch a Coronet. Use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Entries open until 11:59 p.m. EST on May 28.

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Reader, have you read Regency stories before? Which ones are your favorite?

Meet Janyre Tromp, Author of Darkness Calls the Tiger

Meet Janyre Tromp, Author of Darkness Calls the Tiger

I had the blessing of Janyre Tromp being my editor for my Hidden Hearts of the Gilded Age series. Through that partnership, she became a dear friend. Her debut novel Shadows in the Mind’s Eye blew me away and I am chomping at the bit to read this newest release, Darkness Calls the Tiger, when it releases in just a few short weeks. If you preorder her book from the Faith and Life Bookstore, you’ll receive 25% off, as well as bookmarks and bookplates. If you preorder from Baker Book House, you will receive 20% off, as well as bookmarks and bookplates.

Janyre is also graciously giving away one signed print copy of her new release to one U.S. resident. You can enter by visiting the Rafflecopter at the end of this post.

Now let me introduce you to this stunning author, amazing editor, and wonderful friend.

Janyre Tromp is an award-winning and best-selling writer and editor with a deep love for history. If she isn’t editing or reading, most of the time you’ll find her writing mid-twentieth century historical novels with a healthy dose of deliciously creepy suspense. But she’s also a mom, wife, award-winning editor, and wrangler of all things, who hunts for beauty even when it isn’t pretty. Her books include Darkness Calls the Tiger, Shadows in the Mind’s Eye, O Little Town, and Lovely Life.

You can connect with her through:  Website (Download a free novella while there) |  Facebook  |  Instagram  |  Twitter/X  |  BookBub  |  GoodReads

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

 

CC: Pineapple pizza or candy corn?

JT: Candy corn. There is no reason to put fruit on a pizza

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

JT: Dive in. I can swim like a fish 🙂

CC: Guacamole or salsa?

JT: Guacamole all the way. On chips, on rice, on chicken.

CC: Silly hats or silly socks?

JT: Bring on ALL the silly in all the places. I’m currently wearing an Edgar Allen Poe pop art T-shirt.

CC: Passwords or secret handshakes?

JT: Since I write suspense, let’s go complicated with password coded in a secret handshake. We’ll use Morse code tapped on the hand. And a random note, one of the missionary families I studied for Darkness Calls the Tiger is related to the guy who invented Morse code. 

That is so cool! And I love the idea behind your complicated handshake password. LOL

What book has most impacted you?

JT: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by Lewis was one of the first novels I ever read on my own. I love the imagination, the layers, the themes, and I’m pretty sure there’s a lot of Lucy in me.

CC: That was actually one of my favorite books to do a unit on with my fifth graders when I was a teacher.

What is one book you think everyone should read (aside from the Bible)?

JT: The Body Keeps the Score Bessel van Der Kolk, M.D. Even if you never experienced Trauma, chances are someone close to you has. This book shows the science behind how trauma literally changes our bodies and our minds and gives us the beginning tools to reclaim our lives.

And then, if you have trauma (big T or little t), follow that up with Try Softer by Aundi Kolber, which will give you hands on tools to do something real to help yourself. My copy is dog-eared beyond recognition. 

CC: I can vouch for Try Softer. That book really, truly has impacted my life in ways I cannot fully express.

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

JT: I think I’m a little unusual. I didn’t get the itch to start writing until I was in my late 20s. I was always a storyteller and I loved reading. I wrote short pieces and marketing copy and just somehow never thought I could be an author.

I worked for a publisher in the marketing department and did work here and there for the editorial department. The managing editor is the first person who told me I should try my hand at writing a whole book.

And I did. Then fell in love with it.

CC: I love how story has always been a part of your life and that the push of colleague provided us with a glimpse into your wonderful gift.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

JT: All my stories have romance elements. I, in fact, won the Carol for a romance story. But romance is so incredibly hard for me to write. I often wireframe them and save them for last so that I’m not distracted by wanting to write the intrigue or suspense.

CC: LOL. We are definitely alike on that!

How have you seen God work through your writing journey?

JT: Patience is not one of my strengths.

I tend to have very good reasons for why I want something and when I want it. But sometimes it’s good for me to wait.

I finished writing Darkness Calls the Tiger seven years ago . . . and all the agents and editors raved about how well it was written, but told me they couldn’t sell the concept of a WWII book in a country no one knew anything about.

And so I set it aside. And about a year later . . . about the time the book would have released if I’d found a publisher, my daughter ended up in the hospital fighting for her life . . . and then a few months later the CRUDE hit the world.

If I’d gotten a contract originally, the timing would have been horrific. Not only that, but because I was determined to keep moving, I kept learning and moving and watching. In that way, I released three stories in the meantime and learned techniques that made the book even better.

AND the market has changed so that there’s more interest in WWII Asian stories.

SO . . . if there’s something out there that you’re stretching for and it is just out of reach, don’t give up. Maybe pull back, but don’t be passive. Work on something else, but keep your eyes open. And know that I see you.

CC: What a powerful story in God’s providence and timing and your obedience. I cannot wait to read this story.

Now I’m excited to talk about Darkness Calls the Tiger.

“Evocative and transportive, filled with nuance and spiked with the violence of war, Darkness Calls the Tiger is a story of redemption in the midst of hopelessness.” –Tosca Lee, New York Times best-selling author

After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Imperial Japan devours the southern portion of Burma, intent on taking over mainland Asia. Unaware of the coming darkness, Kailyn Moran drifts in her role as the only daughter of a widowed missionary. As whispers of war snake through the Kachin mountains, Kai’s father is convinced God will protect the mission. He entrusts the village to her and the kind yet inexperienced new missionary, Ryan McDonough, while he makes routine visits to neighboring villages.

War descends like a tempest upon the mountain peaks, and an unbreakable bond forms between Kailyn and Ryan as they unite to provide solace to both villagers and the flood of refugees. Despite their tireless efforts, a brutal enemy shatters almost everything they love, pushing Kailyn to embark on a path of unrestrained vengeance.

Afraid he’s losing the woman he loves, Ryan fights to protect Kai from the deadly consequences of her choices. But in the face of destruction, can he convince her of the power and freedom of forgiveness?

Purchase your copy at  Amazon  |  Baker Book House  |  Faith and Life Bookstore

CC: Where did you get the idea for Darkness Calls the Tiger?

JT: I was looking for an unusual WWII story to tell. My mom told me that a friend of a friend’s parents were in India and did something with the Allies during WWII. I scoffed a little because I thought India was far from the fighting during WWII and then quickly realized Mom was right.

So I did what any self-respecting history nerd does—I researched. And y’all, there are SO MANY stories from the China-Burma-India theater.

But then I stumbled on the story of Father James Stuart, who literally stepped into the dirt path and convinced the Japanese soldiers to go away and not destroy a village. And then the Morse family whose young teenage sons hiked the very dangerous Himalayan mountains to save downed Allied airmen. They were all from the same basic area of Burma. That gave me the beginning part of the story.
From there I read the biography of an American soldier attached to the OSS Detachment 101 (these teams were the genesis of the US special forces tactics) and I knew I had my middle and end of the story.
CC: Seriously, the more I learn about this story, the more anxious I get to read it. I love little-known history stories. I’m not much of a WWII reader, but your stories are so unique that I can’t help but be drawn in.
What was some of your favorite research you discovered while preparing for this story?

JT: The coolest part of my research was stumbling on the main metaphor for the book. That way cool tiger on the cover? It comes from real mountain legends.

Some backstory first: The Hukwang Valley (where Darkness Calls the Tiger takes place in Northern Burma) is, in modern times, home to the largest tiger sanctuary in the world.

Because tigers are so much part of their culture, all the people groups in the area have legends about tiger-people. There’s different versions—some saying people become actual tigers and some saying people become tremendous, tiger-like warriors (kind of like berserkers).

So in the story, the traveling storyteller is a bit spiteful toward the missionaries and basically curses Kailyn Moran when she is a girl and tells this horrible tale of the world falling to pieces and Kai becoming this vengeful, angry tiger-person who burns to ash and dies alone.

It’s the perfect metaphor for a story about forgiveness, and that cover image is spot on for where Kai is in the middle of the book.

CC: That is so cool. I can imagine how riveting and hard it was to pull away from the research to actually write the story.
How did this story affect you as you wrote it? Did God teach you anything through the writing?
JT: This story is ultimately about the choice we all have when faced with hard things. We can try to take revenge or we can forgive. Despite the fact that Kailyn Moran has lived in the mountains for all twenty of her years, she’s an American and has always felt like an outsider.
Just as she’s beginning to find her way, the Japanese destroy her village and she has a choice to make. Much like we all have choices to make. When a doctor misses a diagnoses, when a coach bullies our kid, when our boss undermines us . . . we have a choice on how we react.
And it’s simple—not easy, but simple—We can trust, forgive, and find freedom, or we can burn to ash in our own quest for revenge. It’s crazy how often my characters say something that I need to hear. And let me tell you, Kailyn and Ryan preached a sermon to me through the whole book.
CC: I know you’ve walked a lot of those roads, just as I have. And man. You are right. It’s simple, but not easy. What a powerful message and reminder for us all.
What do you hope readers will take away from your story?

JT:  Hope.

My books are heart-shattering books. But they are also always hope-filled.

Because I know the power of story to help us not just learn but also experience truth, I explore hard things because life is hard. BUT I also know that God is good. And if we can find our way through the darkness in the safe space of story, it makes us a map for how to find the light in real life too.

CC: I love how powerful fiction is. What a blessing and beacon of hope that God uses to reach so many who otherwise would not pick up their Bibles. It’s time to wrap up our interview with a fun question.

 

What animal is most like you?
JT: An otter. I’m a water rat. I LOVE being in, on, and around the water. I’m also driven to do what needs doing, but you better believe that all that work is done with a side of goof ball.
CC: Otters are so cool and fun to watch! Great choice.
Readers, I hope you’ll check out Darkness Calls the Tiger and then leave a review on Amazon, Goodreads, and/or BookBub. You wouldn’t believe how important that is to an author.  

Giveaway Info

Janyre is graciously providing one U.S. resident, 18 years and older, with a signed copy of Darkness Calls the Tiger. Use the Rafflecopter below to enter. Entries open until 11:59 p.m. EST on April 30.
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Reader, what do you know of the Asian front during WWII? What things interest you about this story?

Meet Danielle Grandinetti

Meet Danielle Grandinetti

This week’s author interview is the wonderful Danielle Grandinetti. I’ve known Danielle for quite some time now, and it’s such a pleasure to know her. I love her unique time frame of the 1930s and her mix of history with romance and suspense. AND Danielle is generously doing a giveaway for a paperback copy of Refuge for the Archaeologist AND Relying on the Enemy (paperback, US only; ebook international). So make sure to go down to the bottom to participate. 

Danielle Grandinetti is an inspirational romance author fueled by tea and books, and the occasional nature walk. An award-winning author and FHLCW Reader’s Choice Finalist, her stories span from the Great Depression to present day. Originally from the Chicagoland area, she now lives along Lake Michigan’s Wisconsin shoreline with her husband and their two young sons. Find her online at daniellegrandinetti.com.

You can connect with her through:  Website & Newsletter SignupWebsite Store  |  Book Blog  |  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 Danielle with rapid-fire.

 

CC: Pineapple pizza or candy corn?

DG: Pineapple Pizza

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

DG: Test the waters

CC: Guacamole or salsa?

DG: Both! 

CC: Silly hats or silly socks?

DG: Silly socks

CC: Passwords or secret handshakes?

DG: Passwords 

I’m a huge silly socks fan. It’s the only socks I can almost guarantee my kids won’t steal. LOL So let’s dive in deep!

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

DG: I’ve loved writing stories since I was in early grade school. I vividly remember writing my first short story in 3rd grade after hearing an author speak in Assembly. It has led me to believe that there’s nothing like the power of story to change lives, including my own. 

CC: Amen. The power of stories never fails to amaze me. 

What is your writing Kryptonite?

DG: Funny thing, description is my kryptonite. Though it’s one of my favorite writing skills to teach, I don’t write it naturally. Instead, I have to layer it in after I’ve set the scene. I suspect that’s because I’m a math nerd, albeit a romantic one, at heart. 

CC: Ah. So you are one of the rare birds who is both a writer and a math nerd. 😉 I must admit, I like my spreadsheets. LOL 

How have you seen God work on your writing journey?

DG: My characters’ spiritual struggles lead me to the Bible so I can offer them guidance in order to help them grow—whether through their own interaction with God or through the voice of another character. In turn, I am challenged as I write those scenes, and I hope those truths touch the hearts of my readers, too. 

CC: I think that is one of my favorite parts of writing–seing how God uses my own story to grow me. 

Now I’m excited to talk about your newest release, Relying on the Enemy.

She’s protecting her children. He’s redeeming his past. But there’s nothing convenient about saving their patchwork family.

Wisconsin, 1931—All widowed mother Marian Ward wants is to provide for her girls. However, she faces the dead of winter with no income and dwindling resources. Then she overhears a nefarious conversation, putting her life and that of her children in immediate danger.

Aiming to make amends to the Wards, Gilbert steps in when the threat to Marian escalates. It costs him dearly. Either lose his career or marry her, and be tied to his past until death do them part.

He leaves the decision to Marian, who will do anything to protect her girls, even marry the son of the man who ruined her family. How will their fledgling trust prove strong enough to fulfill their vows as winter tightens its grip and desperation stalks at the door?

Welcome to Crow’s Nest, where danger and romance meet at the water’s edge.

Purchase your copy at  Danielle’s Website and other retailers.


CC: What readers will most love Relying on the Enemy?

DG: If you love marriage of convivence tropes, then I hope you’ll love this story! And, doubly so if you also love Gilbert Blythe from Anne of Green Gables.

CC: You know, I’ve never read or seen Anne of Green Gables, but I’ve heard so much about Gilbert. He must be real swoon-worthy if this story has some connections to him.


What was some of your favorite research tidbits for this story?

DG: I love scouring old newspaper archives! And I found a gem of an article that provided a major scene in the story. On January 18, 1931, the first big snowfall of the year occurred. According to local newspapers at the time, it was a twenty-four-hour snowfall dropping six inches of blinding snow followed by cold weather.

CC: Oh my! That must have been something, and definitely a challenge for those who lived through it. (And I’m a huge fan of scouring old Newspaper archives too!)

Relying on the Enemy is book four in the Harbored in Crow’s Nest series. Can this story be read as a stand-alone?

DG: Yes, with a caveat.

All the books in the Harbored in Crow’s Nest series are stand-alone romances, meaning each book focuses on just one couple and their happily ever after. However, each book’s plot does build on the events in the previous one, though I do my best to avoid spoilers.

That said, this book is one that has a major spoiler. Gilbert is the son of the man who ruined Marian Ward’s family. Notice that I don’t use Gilbert’s last name. That’s because it’s a spoiler for events that happened to Marian’s brother-in-law in Refuge for the Archaeologist.

While you don’t have to read Refuge for the Archaeologist (book 2) before reading Relying on the Enemy, it is where you meet the Ward family, especially Marian’s two precocious little girls. And, it will help you understand why Gilbert could be seen as an enemy.

CC: Good to know! I have a few stories like that myself.

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

DG: The verse I chose for the front of the book is “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” Genesis 50:20a (KJV). That theme permeates this story. God can redeem. He can take awful circumstances and redeem them for His children. It might not always look the way we think it should, and we may not see the fruit of it as soon as we think, but I pray this story will offer hope.

CC: What a sweet and important nugget to walk away with. As always, I love to end off with a fun question.

What animal is most like you? Why?

DG: A golden retriever. Their personality seems so similar to the way other people describe me. 🙂

CC: LOL They are a man’s best friend, and you are a wonderful friend. So I definitely say that fits!

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


Giveaway – A copy of A Refuge for the Archaeologist and Relying on the Enemy (print US, ebook for International) Ends at 11:59 p.m. EST on 3/12/2024.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Reader, what animal best describes you?

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.  


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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?

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