See bottom for the giveaway winner.
A Love Restored
by Kelly Goshorn
Genre: Christian Historical Romance, Virginia 1873
Overview of Plot:
Ruth Ann is a kind-hearted person with a passion for teaching at the Freedman’s School for Negro children and adults…but her less-than-petite frame binds her as tightly as the shackles of her former slave students did. Pushed by her mother toward a wealthy, up-and-coming political leader as her only hope for marriage, she longs for a marriage built on love and a man who loves her for who she is and what she looks like.
Benjamin Coulter wants to escape his past and earn the respect of every man by having an envious job, good clothes, and a beautiful wife. Falling for Ruth Ann is natural, but when his choice is ridiculed by those whose approval he seeks, he struggles with what to do.
Sometimes learning to love ourselves and others comes with life-altering mistakes.
Favorite Character and Why:
Ruth Ann is my favorite, purely because I can see her struggles as my own. She is a real person with real struggles. Her pain was my pain. You can’t help but become Ruth Ann in your mind and rejoice with her, grieve with her, and be restored with her.
What I liked:
I typically am not a big fan of books that make me cry, but this one did and I still liked it. I really connected with Ruth Ann. Her struggles touched a tender personal nerve, a nerve I feel will resonate with many–if not all–women. Even Benjamin’s struggles resonated with my experiences with men I have known. I can’t speak personally for men, but it seemed a believable problem.
Who would like this:
Anyone who loves a sweet romance with lots of emotional ups and downs, books that might touch a tender nerve but will grow you, or stories of restoration.
“With pert opinions and a less-than-perfect figure, Ruth Ann Sutton doesn’t measure up to Society’s vision of a perfect lady. When she accepts a position teaching in a Freedman’s School, it threatens the only marriage offer Ruth Ann is likely to receive. She’s forced to choose between life as a lonely spinster or reinventing herself to secure a respectable proposal.
Determined to rise above his meager beginnings, Benjamin Coulter’s reputation as a fast learner and hard worker earns him the opportunity to apprentice with a surveyor for the railroad—a position that will garner the respect he craves. After a chance encounter with Ruth Ann Sutton, Benjamin is smitten with her pretty face, quick wit, and feisty personality. When others ridicule his choice, will Benjamin listen to his heart or put ambition first?”
Links for Purchase:
Amazon Barnes and Noble Christianbook.com
Congratulations to Trisha R.! You’ve won an e-copy of A Love Restored. Check your e-mail and spam box for information on how to claim it.
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
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
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:
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.
Amazon.com Barnes and Noble Christianbook.com
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.*
Join the Conversation: Where would you travel if you could travel anywhere?
Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano
Lady Jayne is one of those rare books that I will absolutely force everyone I know to read. There is so much more this story than an intriguing and surprising plot line. This is a book so decadent and rich that if it were a food, your waist line would suffer from this irresistible treat.
The plot itself is intriguing and full of wonderful surprises, and my little writer’s heart just eats up all the emotions and struggles of Aurelie Harcourt as she takes up her father’s pen name. Plot twists abound, and when you are finished reading it, I would LOVE to talk about it with you, but I absolutely refuse to ruin the mystery now.
What really adds to the story for me is Joanna’s voice. It is so fresh, yet reminiscent of literature classics, that I absolutely cannot get enough of her writing. As I read, I feel like I am floating through a fantastic Gothic novel, although it is neither horror or truly dark, but it was the same awestruck feeling that I have only managed to have in those type novels.
The heroine of the story is Aurelie Harcourt, daughter of and scribe for the famous serial author, Nathaniel Droll. When her father passes on, she must take on the pen name and finish the mysterious story of her mother’s disappearance. After having grown up in debtor’s prison, she is brought into her father’s rich family and the setting of the novel. But Lynhurst Manor is a house built on secrets, and her arrival might reveal them all.
Oh my goodness, friends! I cannot rave about this book enough. So much mystery! So much intrigue! And a hero that makes me swoon. If that isn’t enough to entice you, I am doing something a little different with this book review. Below you will find a few more of my favorite quotes from the beginning of the book (because going any farther will reveal too much).
So here it is, a sample of this delectable treat that will not expand your waistline, only your mind.
When Aurelie Harcourt’s father dies in debtor’s prison, he leaves her just two things: his wealthy family, whom she has never met, and his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll. Her new family greets her with apathy and even resentment. Only the quiet houseguest, Silas Rotherham, welcomes her company.
When Aurelie decides to complete her father’s unfinished serial novel, writing the family into the story as unflattering characters, she must keep her identity as Nathaniel Droll hidden while searching for the truth about her mother’s disappearance–and perhaps even her father’s death.
– Blurb from Amazon.com
Purchase this irresistible treat at:
Amazon.com Barnes and Noble Christianbook.com and other fine retailers
Check out last week’s interview with Joanna herself, and then check out her website.
Congratulations to last week’s winner of a copy of Lady Jayne Disappears, Paula S.!
So which quote was your favorite? What do yo think of this story? Are you intrigued yet?
*I received an advance copy of this novel from the publisher. The opinions and ravings about this book are completely mine, without regard to how I received the book. But seriously, ya’ll it is AMAZING!!!*
Today I am extremely excited to present to you debut author, Joanna Davidson Politano. Joanna is an amazing writer with such a heart for God. Her writing transports you to another time and makes you forget the stresses of contemporary life. From the first time I read her work before it was ever contracted, she became my favorite author. Now that I have a physical copy of her book in my hands, I realize she is even better than I remembered!
And because I want to share her wonderful writing with you, one lucky entrant will win a copy of Lady Jane Disappears. Check out the details below.
Without further ado, allow me to introduce, Joanna.
Joanna is a work-from-home mom of one super cute little girl and one handsome little dude. She is married to her hero Vince, who is her love and polar opposite. She writes, he tears it up with the red pen. She breaks cars and other mechanical things, he puts them back together. He’s nailed the “speak the truth” thing, and she brings the “in love” part. But the real spark to her marriage is that he does not like chocolate and she… like it a normal amount. They love and live from their little house in the woods near Lake Michigan, which is undergoing a constant renovation.
WC: Thank you so much for taking the time out of your busy, crazy life to answer these questions. I am so excited for your debut release date! Too bad we can’t have a debutante ball to celebrate.
You have a beautiful, wonderful, young family. How do you manage to get writing done while chasing around a one year old and a four year old?
JDP: Two words: Nap time! I put important things first (God time, children), and somehow all the needed writing time materializes because God can do things like that. I live by the principal that children are never a distraction from the important work—they are the important work. When I’m living (and “momming”) well, I write well. So I guess it’s really about these two words: TRUST GOD!
WC: When writing a story, what is the most important thing to you? The plot, the characters, the journey, or something else altogether?
JDP: I enjoy the characters, especially their dialogue, but the entire process of writing is invaluable to my entire life. It’s the way God gets my attention, teaches me the nuances of his truths, and keeps me very dependent on him. There’s no room for self-reliance when you’re a slow writer who’s also trying to be a mom—and you have deadlines to meet.
WC: Writing historical fiction is a research heavy genre. What made you choose the Victorian era?
JDP: I chose this era because some of my favorite writers lived and wrote in those years. It’s a time of industrial change and interesting political shifts… and beautiful gowns and flowery writing.
WC: Your voice is amazingly refreshing! Like taking a stroll through a Victorian garden. What author’s inspired your writing?
JDP: Thank you so much! I think my conversations with God is where my writing voice originated. As far as writers, I’d say Daphne Du Maurier for atmosphere, Charles Dickens for characters, Martha Grimes for witty lines, and Mary Higgins Clark for tension. I could never hope to rival them, but I sure enjoy reading and dissecting their work!
Lady Jane Disappears is your debut novel. How does it feel to have something you wrote in other people’s hands?
A little like a voluntary invasion of privacy! I never intended this novel to be published—it was my practice novel in which I meant to explore all the elements of a book I truly enjoyed so I could find my own niche. Somehow the freedom of writing for practice loosened the most authentic storytelling in me, and it worked better than when I tried hard. Go figure.
It’s hard to release private thoughts and personal artwork into the world and open it up for critique, but I love being authentic and open, too. Hopefully something I say strikes a chord with someone else, and I believe it might, only because God put me on this path, gave me things to write about, and then facilitated the publication of those words. Hopefully he has a reason for it besides the exercise of me baring my heart.
WC: What has God taught you along this journey?
JDP: I can’t do anything—anything—without him. He can give and he can take away. Writing, mothering, or even breathing is all done by his say-so and can be taken away just as quickly. I’ve truly learned to trust-fall into God every single day. I’ve learned about writing, deadlines, marketing… but mostly I’ve learned how to have an intimate hand-in-hand relationship with God.
WC: What inspired you to write Lady Jane Disappears?
JDP: You know, it’s a funny story. As a kid, I had this way of meting out justice—I wrote kids in my class into anonymous stories that ended up getting passed around the class. How fun, I thought, if an overlooked girl did the same thing in a Victorian household? What sort of wonderful chaos would that create in a straight-laced era full of covered-up sins and thin facades? So I wrote about a serial novelist who writes everyone around her into her novels and publishes them under a pen name. Oh, the trouble she caused!
WC: Give us a high and a low. What was the best/easiest thing about writing Lady Jane Disappears? The worst/hardest part?
JDP: Honestly, I loved all of it. Because it was a “practice” novel, I simply enjoyed putting it on paper and it flowed quite easily. I included every element I love in a novel, not pausing to care about what should or shouldn’t go into a book. It was also published pretty easily (after many MANY failed attempts with previous stories—don’t get me wrong, I was no overnight success). I think the best part was writing the ending—oh, how I love endings! The lowest… wondering what to write next that would be as much fun!
WC: Last question and it is just a fun one that my husband asks when he interviews people. Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses? Any particular reason why?
JDP: One horse-sized duck! I could never explain to 100 horses of any size why I was trying to fight them, because you could never get that many to listen at once.
WC: Thank you so much for taking the time to participate in this interview and for writing such an amazing book. I absolutely cannot wait for others to read it.
Connect with Joanna: Facebook https://jdpstories.com/ Newsletter
What about you, my reader friends? Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck sized-horses? Why?
Comment below and then enter the drawing through the rafflecopter link below for a chance to win your own copy of Lady Jane Disappears. (After having trouble reaching the winner in my last interview, I think this might be the easiest way to contact a winner.) Then come back next week to find out the winner and read my review on her official release day, October 3rd! *Open to residents of the 48 Contiguous United States* comments close at 11:59 PM, Oct. 2nd.
A Season to Dance by Patricia Beal
The day has finally arrived, the day I can share with you about Patricia Beal’s debut novel, A Season to Dance.
Ana dreams of dancing on stage at the Met in New York, and with plans to marry Peter and join the Atlanta Ballet Company firmly in place, she is well on her way.
Then the kiss happened.
Not with Peter, but with Claus, her first love and a premier ballet dancer who left her heartbroken. The story follows the aftermath of that single incident that changed all three of their lives forever.
This heart-wrenching story will have you reaching for tissues and remembering the dizzying and often sickening dance of emotions and poor choices that lead to more heartache than one can bear. Or maybe you are one of the lucky ones and have a perfect life. If you are, then you are probably in denial or haven’t reached middle school yet.
None of Ana’s dreams go as planned, yet God touches her life in a very real-life way. There are no great miracles or sudden turnaround and see God moments.
Instead, God is Ana’s spotter.
While she is spinning out of control, God is slowly tugging at her, pursuing her, and guiding her. Spiritual truth falls on Ana like a gentle spring rain, refreshing, soul soaking, and easy to deflect until she is ready to accept it.
This is a wonderful story that is unlike any Christian romance out there, and I would venture to even categorize it differently – women’s fiction with a touch of romance. The story is really about one woman’s harsh struggle to know true love and to chase her dreams in our contemporary culture. There are no clean easy answers, and happily ever after comes in fits and spurts, showing that love endures even when there are difficulties and grief.
However, I wish to forewarn Christian readers, that Ana is not the sweet, innocent heroine usually found in Christian romance. Ana is real, with real flaws. While there is no graphic material, there is sex before marriage and drinking. Ana’s relationship with Christ does not form until the end of the story and as Paul says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Most of the story takes place in Ana’s old life, but every instance of sex ends with the closing of the bedroom door. It is not something that should keep you from reading the book, but I felt it was fair to warn readers who may not be accustomed to less than perfect heroines.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it to readers who love real characters and true to life complications and responses. And if you love ballet, it is chalk full of beautiful dancers and scenes to thrill your imagination.
*I was given an advanced reader’s copy in hopes of an honest review, which you have read above.*
Check out the blurb and links for purchase below.
Ana Brassfield has her path to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House all figured out until her first love, renowned German dancer Claus Gert, returns to Georgia to win her back. Despite a promising start towards her ballet career and pending marriage to landscape architect, Peter Engberg, Ana wonders if her dreams of dancing at the Met are as impossible as her previous romantic relationship with Claus.
Then, an on-stage kiss between Ana and Claus changes everything.
Convinced the kiss is more than a one-time mistake, Peter breaks off their engagement. With an old dog crippled by arthritis and dreams deferred but not left behind, Ana moves to Germany to be with Claus. But the ghost of his late wife, Ana’s own feelings for Peter, and the pressure of earning a spot in a large ballet company are a high price for a shot at success. Ana seems on the verge of having everything she ever dreamed of, but will it be enough?
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas