Giveaway & Interview with Patti Stockdale

Giveaway & Interview with Patti Stockdale

Hello my lovelies!

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

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

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

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

 

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

 

 

CC: Sweet or Unsweet Tea?

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

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

 

CC: Beach Vacation or Mountain Getaway?

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

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

 

CC: Homebody or Love to Travel?

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

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

 

CC: Morning Person or Night Owl?

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

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

 

CC: Bookmark or Dog-ear Pages?

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

CC: What is your favorite Bible verse? Why?

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

How did you select the names of your characters?

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

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

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

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

 

GIVEAWAY TIME

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

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

It’s a Wrap with Cynthia Roemer

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

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

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

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

FastFive

Coffee or Tea?

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

Crystal: Lemonade makes me think of summer. 🙂

Christmas or Easter?

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

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

Spring or Fall?

Cynthia: Fall

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

Print or E-book?

Cynthia:  Definitely print

Crystal: With you 100%.

Favorite Bible Verse

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

Crystal: Definitely a comforting one.

Writing & Life

What keeps you busy most days?

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

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

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

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

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

Do you have any pets?

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

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

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

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

What was the best part about writing this series?

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

Do you have any plans for a future project?

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

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

Which character was the most fun to create?

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

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

Fun, Zaney Question of the Day

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

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

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

Thank so much for visiting with us.

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

Author Interview: Rachel Fordham

Today I’d like to introduce you to Rachel Fordham, author of The Hope of Azure Springs and soon-to-be released, Yours Truly Thomas. You can read the review of her first book by clicking the link above. I had the blessing of meeting Rachel at the national ACFW conference last September, and I just love her heart.

Rachel Fordham is the author of The Hope of Azure Springs. She started writing when her children began begging her for stories at night. She’d pull a book from the shelf, but they’d insist she make one up. Finally, she paired her love of good stories with her love of writing and hasn’t stopped since. She lives with her husband and children on an island in the state of Washington.

You can connect with her on Facebook or at her website rachelfordham.com

Crystal: Thank you so much for joining me today, Rachel. First up are my Fast Five!

FastFive

Sweet or Unsweet Tea?

Rachel: I’m a water girl. My husband doesn’t get it because he likes flavor but for me water is the most satisfying drink.

Crystal: I getcha! Water is my go-to drink. That and hot tea. 🙂

Beach Vacation or Mountain Getaway?

Rachel: That’s a tough one. I live near water and mountains. I think I’d go to a tropical beach since our beaches are usually cold.

Crystal: Sounds like you have the best of both worlds. Although a tropical beach getaway sounds nice.

Homebody or Love to Travel?

Rachel: Can I say half and half? I need a good vacation or two each year but usually I’m so content being at home having as free a calendar as possible.

Crystal: I think that is a perfect balance. Family vacations are their own version of stressful. 😉

Morning Person or Night Owl?

Rachel:  I do most of my writing at night but somehow still am up by 6:30 every morning. I have a houseful of kids so I don’t get the luxury of running on my own schedule.

Crystal: Bless you! To do both all the time wears me out.

Bookmark or Dog-ear Pages?

Rachel:  No Dog-ears but I’m guilty of using non bookmarks as bookmarks. Whatever is round gets stuck in the book.

Crystal: Yep! Anything from receipts, to pens, to whatever the last thing a child handed me.

Writing & Life

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

Rachel: I have six kids and we foster so sometimes we have seven. I spend a lot of time at sporting events and church activities for my kids. As a family we love playing board games, going to the beach or working on our yard. We also love taking road trips together.

Crystal: I love that! Family is so important. It sounds like you have the right balance to life.

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

Rachel: I always loved reading and I like to say I went to school for reading, but I didn’t think someone as ordinary as me could be a writer. It wasn’t until my fifth baby was six months old that I started writing. I was telling my husband I needed a creative outlet and he said, “You read so much why not write a book.” I wrote a draft of my first manuscript (still unpublished), then wrote another that became The Hope of Azure Springs. A friend suggested I try getting an agent…what could it hurt. So quietly without anyone knowing I wrote a query letter and sent it off the next day. My publishing story just kind of took off after that.

Crystal: I love the quiet stories where God works. He knows exactly what we need and when we need it. After five babies a creative outlet besides kids games is definitely a necessity.

What is your favorite Bible Verse?

Rachel: That’s so hard to choose. It seems to depend on what’s happening in my life. I fell in love with Joshua 1:9 a couple years ago when we were going through some medical issues with one of my sons. “Be strong and of good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest.”

Crystal: What a great verse to cling to during those very difficult times!

I am so excited about this newest story from you. For our readers, here is the blurb for Yours Truly, Thomas.

For three years, Penny Ercanbeck has been opening other people’s mail. Dead ends are a reality for clerks at the Dead Letter Office. Still she dreams of something more–a bit of intrigue, a taste of romance, or at least a touch less loneliness. When a letter from a brokenhearted man to his one true love falls into her hands, Penny seizes this chance to do something heroic. It becomes her mission to place this lost letter into the hands of its intended recipient.

Thomas left his former life with no intention of ending up in Azure Springs, Iowa. He certainly didn’t expect a happy ending after what he had done. All he wanted to do was run and never look back. In a moment of desperation, he began to write, never really expecting a reply.

When Penny’s undertaking leads her to the intriguing man who touched her soul with his words, everything grows more complicated. She wants to find the rightful owner of the letter and yet she finds herself caring–perhaps too much–for the one who wrote it.

Questions about Yours Truly, Thomas

Who was the most challenging character to write? What made them so challenging?

Rachel:  Eliza Howell is a secondary character in Yours Truly, Thomas. She has a lot going on in her life but doesn’t get a ton of page time so trying to give readers a real sense of her was a struggle. I wanted them to sympathize with her and root for her without having her storyline take over. It was tricky but in the end I think it came together.

Crystal: Personally, I’m hoping to learn more about her possibly in another book. 😉 I’m intrigued and I haven’t even read Yours Truly, Thomas, yet.

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

Rachel:  Margaret Anders runs a boarding house in Azure Springs and is a dominant secondary character. I LOVE writing her because she’s full of wisdom but delivers her speeches in quirky ways. It’s fun pretending like I have a lot of answers!

Crystal: Quirky characters are the best!

What was your favorite research you came across while preparing for Yours Truly, Thomas?

Rachel: Researching the dead letter office was so much fun! I had a really hard time not including more details and trivia about the office. I loved reading about the random things that came through the mail, the skills the employees possessed to be able to redirect so much mail (can you imagine all that research with no internet) and I loved reading tidbits about the real life employees.

Crystal: I’m intrigued about this section of the post office. I didn’t really know it existed until Hallmark channel put out Signed, Sealed, and Delivered. I can’t wait to learn more through your story

Does writing exhaust you or energize you?

Rachel: Depends on the stage I’m in. Writing rough drafts gives me an adrenaline rush. I get totally immersed in in it and want to get to the finish line. The first rounds of edits are usually really fun. I love polishing up the rough draft. After that it wears me out and I have to force myself to go back to it. My mind starts to wander because it’s so familiar with the story and I get anxious to just be done with it. I’m not a perfectionist by nature so that final push can be hard!

Crystal: I’m just now learning how exhausting editing a manuscript you have read so many times can be. I feel you!

Fun, Zaney Question of the Day

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

Rachel: Hmmmm…. My high school mascot was a high climber (the logger that tops the tree). Some people thought it was real, but I loved that it captured a piece of the community’s story. I think if I were to pick a mascot it would have to be relevant too, rather than just fun. So, I’m going to go with…a night owl.

Crystal: LOL! I love that. We have several owls around our house and they are a “hoot!” Yeah, I just did that. Forgive my corny puns. LOL

Readers, if you want to check out Rachel’s book, visit one of these retailers. (Personally, Christianbook is my favorite, but the OCD in me won’t let me put the retailers out of alphabetical order. But check them out! And no, I’m not paid or encouraged to suggest them. I just really to love the site.)

Amazon Barnes & Noble Christianbook.com

Author Interview & Giveaway: Grace Hitchcock

I am so excited to share with you this interview with Grace Hitchcock. Her book, The White City has become a new favorite of mine. It’s one of those books I’m going to force everyone I know to read books. So I’m going to give away a print copy to one happy commenter below. Be sure to answer the Fun Question with your email written in this format name (at) place (dot) com. 😉 Don’t worry, I’ll remind you at the bottom. Now on to meet this amazing author!!

Grace Hitchcock is the author of The White City and The Gray Chamber from Barbour Publishing. She has written multiple novellas in The Second Chance Brides, The Southern Belle Brides, and the Thimbles and Threads collections with Barbour Publishing. She holds a Masters in Creative Writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English with a minor in History. Grace lives in southern Louisiana with her husband, Dakota, and son. Visit Grace online at GraceHitchcock.com. For author news, sign up for Grace Hitchcock’s newsletter here.

Crystal: I am so excited to have you here, Grace! Thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions!

Grace: Thank you so much for having me here.

FastFive

Sweet or Unsweet Tea?

Grace: While I never drink iced tea, I adore hot tea with a ridiculous amount of sugar! One lump or Two? Better make it Three or Four.

Crystal: I’m with you on the iced tea, but no sugar for me. Sometimes honey, but not sugar.

Beach Vacation or Mountain Getaway?

Grace: Beach vacation! Nothing is more relaxing to me than a salty breeze and the sound of the waves.

Crystal: After this winter, I could go for a beach break.

Homebody or Love to Travel?

Grace: Both! I love to get out on little adventures throughout the year, but home is always my favorite.

Crystal: I bet it is hard traveling with a toddler, too. It’s been a while, but I  remember it being tiring.

Morning Person or Night Owl?

Grace:  Morning person☺ Turns out my little toddler is quite the morning person too.

Crystal: Then it is a good thing you both like mornings!

Bookmark or Dog-ear Pages?

Grace:  I winced at the question haha bookmark all the way! I even hesitate to dog-ear printed out articles I’m studying!

Crystal: I definitely cringe asking the question. So you’re in good company.

Writing & Life

What are you reading right now?

Grace: I just finished Unblemished by Sarah Ella! Soooo good and I am dying to read book two now, but have to get it at my library. I pre-ordered Flights of Fancy by Jen Turano and am loving it!

Crystal: I’ll have to check out Unblemished. I’ve never heard of it, but I know Jen’s books are always good for a laugh.

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

Grace: I would say finding balance with motherhood! As my baby grows, my writing habits continually change. When I wrote The White City, my baby gave me three naptimes during which I could write and catch up on household needs…and now, we are down to one precious nap a day. Heaven help me when I lose that one nap haha but for now, I’m holding onto it as long as I can.

Crystal: Oh, if only we could nap that many times in a day and still be productive. LOL

While attending the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Winnifred Wylde believes she witnessed a woman being kidnapped. She tries to convince her father, an inspector with the Chicago police, to look into reports of mysterious disappearances around the White City. Inspector Wylde tries to dismiss her claims as an exaggeration of an overactive imagination, but he eventually concedes to letting her go undercover as secretary to the man in question—if she takes her pistol for protection and Jude Thorpe, a policeman, for a bodyguard.

Will she be able to expose H. H. Holmes’s illicit activity, or will Winnifred become his next victim?

Questions about The White City

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

Grace:  Winnifred Wylde from The White City! With her character, I gave her the love of reading and a romantic, fun spirit. She isn’t afraid to be silly, but can be serious. Also, I gave her my sweet tooth, which gave me the perfect excuse to eat some inspirational chocolate as I wrote.

Crystal: I loved Winnifred, and her name is so uncommon now that I smiled every time I read it.

What was some of your favorite research you discovered while preparing for The White City?

Grace:  I loved studying all about the World’s Fair and the exhibits they had! I found an amazing map that showed me the exact layout of the fair. (If anyone wants to see it, I have in on my Pinterest board!)  I’d say my favorite part of the fair was researching for the Ferris Wheel scene. I had no idea the wheel could house 50 people per car! Could you imagine being suspended in the air with all those people crowding in about you with no deodorant on a hot summer day?

Crystal: I certainly can’t, but if it is anything compared to being stuck in a car with a teenage boy after a sweaty sport on a day he forgot deodorant, I don’t want to!

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

Grace: I can hardly believe that The White City is out in the wild!! Now, I’m planning for the release of my next novella, “The Bridal Shop” in Thimbles and Threads from Barbour Publishing, in July 2019. This story is about Alice Turner, a young bridal shop owner who snubs marriage…until she meets a handsome groomsman named Giles Clayton who attempts to change her mind.

I’m currently working on my next True Colors book for Barbour called The Gray Chamber, a tale of an eccentric heiress wrongfully committed to the notorious Women’s Lunatic Asylum on Blackwell’s Island. Coming January 2020

Crystal: Oh, yay!!! I am so excited about The Gray Chamber! And I had no idea about the next novella. Now my TBR pile has gotten a bit taller.

Fun, Zaney Question of the Day

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

Grace: A Holland Lop Bunny! Bunnies have always been my favorite pets with their sweet personalities. I’ve had four in the past and hope to have a few more in future years!

Crystal: Oh fun! I’ve only seen bunnies out in the wild and at one friend’s house. They look so soft. Thank you so much for sharing so much for talking books with us! I truly appreciate it.

Readers, enter to win your own copy of The White City by commenting your answer below. Be sure to leave me your email address in this format: name (at) place (dot) com.

This contest will end on March 12th, 2019. The winner will be announced on this page and then contacted via the email address provided.  (Restricted to U.S. Residents, 18 and older, only.) The winner will be picked through a random name picker. Best of luck! You’re going to LOVE this book.

Author Interview: Tara Johnson

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

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

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

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

Sweet or Unsweet Tea?

Tara: Sweet tea. I’m a Southern girl.

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

Beach Vacation or Mountain Getaway?

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

Crystal: That does sound perfect.

Homebody or Love to Travel?

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

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

Morning Person or Night Owl?

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

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

Bookmark or Dog-ear Pages?

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

Crystal: It’s okay, we forgive you. 😉

 

Tara Johnson – the Person

Jeremiah33-3CalltoMe

What is your favorite Bible verse? Why?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Engraved on the Heart

 

EOTHIMage.jpg

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Connect with Tara Johnson:

Website: www.TaraJohnsonStories.com

Twitter: @TaraMinistry

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

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

Engraved on the Heart

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

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

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

Preorder Links:

Amazon.com     Barnes and Noble    Christianbook.com

 

Rafflecopter Giveaway:

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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

 

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