Author Interview: Kimberly Duffy

Author Interview: Kimberly Duffy

This month I have the great pleasure and honor to introduce to you author, Kimberly Duffy. I met Kimberly through a mutual friend just before her debut book came out. Kimberly is a wonderful mom, wife, and author. I hope you enjoy getting to know her better as much as I did.

Kimberly Duffy is a Long Island native currently living in Southwest Ohio. When she’s not homeschooling her four kids, she writes historical fiction that takes her readers back in time and across oceans. She loves trips that require a passport, recipe books, and practicing kissing scenes with her husband of twenty years. He doesn’t mind.

You can connect with her at:

Newsletter (free short story): http://kimberlyduffy.com/index.php/newsletter/

IG: https://www.instagram.com/authorkimberlyduffy/

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

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

 

 

CC: Milk or Dark Chocolate?

KD: Neither. I’m allergic to caffeine.

CC: Ugh! That must be so hard! I stress eat chocolate way more than I should.

 

CC: Print or e-book?

KD: Print!

 

CC: Cat or Dog Person?

KD: Allergic to those, too.

CC: You poor thing! I guess the best pet in those instances is a fish. 

 

CC: Morning Person or Night Owl?

KD: Night Owl.

CC: The night seems to be when everything is finally quiet.

 

CC: Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter? 

KD: Fall or spring. I love both seasons.

CC: They really are each pretty in their own rights. I could do without the tree pollen though. LOL

 

Before we dive into your book, let’s learn a bit more about you. What has been the biggest challenge for you on your writing journey??

KD: Not falling into the trap of comparing my journey with someone else’s. Especially with social media, it’s hard to resist that temptation. It’s in your face all the time and typically, you only see the very best parts of someone’s journey. 

CC: Hugs. Comparision is so incredibly hard. I think it is a trap we can all be tempted to fall into, and often do.

Why do you write with settings in India?

KD: India is the most vibrant, colorful, energetic, warm place on the planet. It lends itself well to beautiful imagery and descriptive writing, as well as being so diverse which makes writing each book an opportunity to dive into new research. Though, only the first three books are set there. I’m looking forward to writing other places as well.

CC: I am looking forward to seeing India through your writing. It is such a unique location, although, any location you write is bound to be wonderful.

So let’s talk about A Tapestry of Light

Calcutta, 1886.

Ottilie Russell is adrift between two cultures, British and Indian, belonging to both and neither. In order to support her little brother, Thaddeus, and her grandmother, she relies upon her skills in beetle-wing embroidery that have been passed down to her through generations of Indian women.

When a stranger appears with the news that Thaddeus is now Baron Sunderson and must travel to England to take his place as a nobleman, Ottilie is shattered by the secrets that come to light. Despite her growing friendship with Everett Scott, friend to Ottilie’s English grandmother and aunt, she refuses to give up her brother. Then tragedy strikes, and she is forced to make a decision that will take Thaddeus far from death and herself far from home.

But betrayal and loss lurk in England, too, and soon Ottilie must fight to ensure Thaddeus doesn’t forget who he is, as well as find a way to stitch a place for herself in this foreign land.

CC: If you could be any of your characters, which one would it be? Why?

KD: If I could be anyone from Tapestry, it would be Damaris who is my heroine’s closest friend. She has a larger-than-life personality, kindness tempered by a realistic outlook and sharp sense of humor, a stunning figure and mound of red hair, and purpose. She’s also loyal, lives with a wealthy, permissive aunt, and honestly deserves her own book. Maybe one day?

CC: She definitely deserves her own book! And I have a feeling you will have many readers clamoring to read it.

What drew you to this story?

KD: Initially it was the beetle-wing embroidery. I stumbled across a piece of 18th-century ruffle at an Indian fabric exhibit and was just fascinated by it. The Victorians were big fans of using things from the natural world in their fashions and elytra are the most beautiful green, iridescent, and have a long history of being used in embroidery. Then I was drawn to Ottilie’s fierce strength, her pursuit of truth, and her willingness to wade through hard things.

CC: That is so cool. For our readers, here an image of some beetle-wing embroidery to feast your eyes upon. 

Dress fabric embroidered with beetle wing-cases, makers unknown, 1858, Hyderabad, India. Museum no. 4498:1/(IS). © Victoria and Albert Museum, London (https://www.vam.ac.uk/articles/indian-embroidery)

Thank you so much for joining me today and providing us with a taste of you and your story. The last question is always my fun one:

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

KD: Teleportation definitely. I’ve actually seriously considered this question in case I’m ever offered the opportunity. I love to travel. I wish I could wake up in Paris, eat a croissant, then hop on over to India for lunch and a visit with friends, then be in Greece for dinner time and a walk along the ocean. 

CC: I’d definitely jump on board with that one, but for a completely different reason. LOL It would be so nice to get my family where they need to be in seconds instead of taking all day. 🙂

Seriously, thank you again so much for the interview. It’s so neat to get to know you a bit more.

Readers, you can purchase Kimberly Duffy’s book at any of the following retailers or your favorite bookseller.

Amazon     Baker Bookhouse     Barnes and Noble     Books-A-Million     Bookshop.org    Book Depository     Christianbook.com     Indiebound.org


Reader Question: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

 

Author Interview: Amanda Wen

Author Interview: Amanda Wen

It is my great pleasure and honor to introduce to you Amanda Wen, one of the 2021 Christian fiction debut authors.

Amanda Wen is an award-winning writer of inspirational romance and split-time women’s fiction. She has placed first in multiple contests, including the 2017 Indiana Golden Opportunity Contest, the 2017 Phoenix Rattler Contest, and the 2016 ACFW First Impressions Contest. She was also a 2018 ACFW Genesis Contest finalist. A lifelong denizen of the flatlands, Amanda currently lives in Kansas with her husband, their three Wenlets, and one snuggly Siamese cat.

You can connect with her at www.amandawen.com, Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

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: Milk or Dark Chocolate?

AW: While I love any chocolate, I do have a slight preference for The Dark Side.

CC: Who can resist the dark side. Soooo delicious.

 

CC: Print or E-book?

AW: Print. There’s just something about holding a book and turning real pages that makes for a much more immersive reading experience.

CC: Same!

 

CC: Cat or Dog Person?

AW: 100% cat. I have a Siamese named Jasmine who is the sweetest kitty ever (she’s snuggling with me right now, in fact, which makes typing a little awkward, but totally worth it).

CC: That sounds sweet. All I ever had was a barn cat, and he was not a snuggler.

 

CC: Morning Person or Night Owl?

AW: Morning, as long as I’ve had my coffee.

CC:  Caffeine is a must in the morning, for sure!

 

CC: Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter?

AW: Fall is my absolute favorite.

CC: It really is a beautiful time of the year.

Thanks for sharing those fun things. Let’s dive right into talking about your debut novel, Roots of Wood and Stone!

Abandoned at birth, her family roots a mystery, historical museum curator Sloane Kelley has dedicated her life to making sure others know theirs. When a donor drops off a dusty old satchel, she doesn’t expect much from the common artifact . . .until she finds real treasure inside: a nineteenth-century diary. Now she’s on the hunt to find out more.

Garrett Anderson just wanted to clean out his grandmother’s historic but tumbledown farmhouse before selling it to fund her medical care. With her advancing Alzheimer’s, he can’t afford to be sentimental about the family home. But his carefully ordered plan runs up against two formidable obstacles: Sloane, who’s fallen in love with both the diaries and the house, and his own heart, which is irresistibly drawn to Sloane.

A century and a half earlier, motherless Annabelle Collins embarks with her aunt and uncle on the adventure of a lifetime: settling the prairies of Sedgwick County, Kansas. The diaries she left behind paint a portrait of life, loss, and love–and a God who faithfully carries her through it all. Paging through the diaries together takes Sloane and Garrett on a journey they never could have planned, which will change them in ways they never imagined.

This warm, beautifully written split-time novel will resonate with readers looking for stories that reveal the beauty of God’s plan for our lives, and how our actions ripple for generations.

CC: Who was the most challenging character to create? What made them so difficult?

AW: I’d say Sloane, my contemporary heroine, was probably the most difficult nut to crack. As a pantser, the only way I get to know my characters is to just start writing them, but Sloane doesn’t trust easily and wasn’t about to open up to me right away. I honestly felt like I was spinning my wheels with her trying to get her to talk until I found two of her passions: local history and jazz. (Conveniently, that latter bit helped her open up to Garrett, my contemporary hero, as well. 😉 )

CC: Oh, that is so sweet! I think I will get along with Sloane just perfectly. History and jazz are two of my favorite things.

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

AW: In total contrast to Sloane, my past hero, Jack, showed up fully formed and ready to take over any scene he was in. A native of Ireland (and thus possessor of a fabulous accent), he came to the United States as a child and, along with many other Civil War veterans, became an early settler of Sedgwick County, Kansas. Jack has suffered some deep wounds just prior to the start of the story, but he is a man of big dreams, fierce determination, and passionate devotion to those he loves (along with a touch of impulsiveness, which you’ll see in his very first scene). He was an absolute joy to write.

CC: He sounds like a joy! I can’t wait to get to know him!

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

AW: This book is inspired by aspects of my own family history. My mom is a genealogist and has been tracing our family—and sharing their stories—my whole life. As an homage to her and all the rest of my ancestors, many of the people and places in the book are named for my ancestors. There are also several shout-outs to Wichita, Kansas, my home for most of my life, which people who’ve been around these parts might recognize.

CC: That is so cool, and what a personal touch!

Speaking of personal…let’s get to know YOU a little better. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

AW: I’ve written stories for fun off and on ever since I was a kid, but the writing bug hit me big-time in January 2008, when I wrote stories and actually let other people read them. Then came the Wenlets—all three within four years—so that gobbled up my time until 2014, when story ideas came out of nowhere and refused to let go. Around that time I started letting a lifelong friend, herself a multi-published author in the general market, read my work. She took me under her wing and gently corrected all my newbie writing errors, but told me I had publishable talent and ideas. I decided that if God had given me that gift, I should probably pursue it through whatever avenue he chose.

CC: Amen! I am so glad you chose to follow this path with your gifting so that we may all enjoy.

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

AW: Trusting God’s timing, which is I think a common one for us writers. So many of us finish our first novel and then we think we’ve Arrived somehow, and we want to run out and get it published.  I was absolutely no exception. And though my first novel won a few contests and landed me my wonderful agent, it did not sell to publishers. I was pretty disappointed, as anyone would be, but while that book was on submission, I’d started to write another book in a slightly different genre—one I truly loved writing and felt at home in. My agent wasn’t as excited about it as she had been my first book, but she believed in my writing and said she’d pitch anything I wrote. That second book didn’t do as well in contests and was on submission for over a year…but the folks at Kregel fell in love with it, and that book is the one that became Roots of Wood and Stone.

One postscript illustrating God’s perfect timing: Roots of Wood and Stone was inspired by my mom’s research into our family history, and I dreamed of the day when I’d get to tell her that the book was under contract. The day that dream came true and I finally got to call her with the news, I got to call Ireland, where she and my dad were celebrating their 50th anniversary. At the time of the call, they were eating lunch in a little café in the hometown of the ancestor whose life inspired the book. It doesn’t get much more perfect than that.

CC: Wow! God’s perfect timing is so astounding. What a blessing to be able to have that publishing announcement story to share. I’m sure your parents were thrilled to get the call.

What is your writing Kryptonite? 

AW: Plotting. I envy those who can plot out an entire novel and then just sit down and have the whole thing written in a matter of a few weeks. I cannot do that. I’ve tried. My process, which involves pantsing and revising as I go, is annoyingly slow, but it’s what works for me, so I’ve tried to make peace with it.

CC: I understand that whole-heartedly! So frustrating, but totally worth the journey.

Before we slip off to our last fun question, I have one more serious one for you. How can we pray for you?

AW: I would love prayer for the launch of Roots of Wood and Stone. It’s a dream come true, and while I’d love to say I’m excited and joyful and soaking up every minute, I’m actually very anxious about it. I have no idea how to ensure a book’s success once the writing is done, and I’m a little confused as to why God would choose to have me release this book in the midst of a global pandemic when many things are shut down, in-person launch events can’t happen, and the economy is less than amazing. Every aspect of writing this book, though, has been an exercise in trust, so I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that releasing it is any different. But if you could pray that a) those who God wants to read this book will read it and be brought closer to Him, and b) that I’d be able to relax and enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience without worrying that I’m somehow doing it wrong, that’d be amazing.

CC: You are being covered in prayer, Amanda. We are so blessed to have this sneak peek into your world.

Thank you so much for joining me today and providing all of us with a wonderful distraction. The final question is always a fun favorite of mine:

What are the top three things on your bucket list? 

AW: 

  • Travel to all 50 US states (I’m sitting at 39 right now) and Europe (specifically the British Isles since that’s where my family’s from and Germany/Austria to visit the birthplaces of my favorite composers)
  • Attend a New England Patriots home game (I’ve seen them play on the road a few times, but never in Foxboro).
  • Perform Beethoven’s Seventh Symphony and Handel’s Messiah with orchestras. (I’ve played snippets of Messiah, but never the whole thing, and Beethoven’s Seventh is the only symphony on my list of favorites that I’ve never performed).

CC: Can I just be in the audience for either of those concerts? I’ve been blessed to hear Handel’s Messiah once, but I’d love love love to hear it again, especially with someone I know playing on stage!

Join me in celebrating Amanda’s debut releasing February 2nd from Kregel publishing, by wishing her congratulations below and sharing one thing on YOUR bucket list!

You can purchase Amanda’s book at any of the following retailers or your favorite bookseller.

Amazon      Barnes and Noble     Christianbook.com

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

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