Author Interviews

Featuring Katherine Scott Jones | Author of Her Memory of Music

Y’all, I’m so excited to chat more with Katherine Scott Jones today! You may remember my book review last week of her debut, Her Memory of Music, and today we dive a little deeper! I hope y’all enjoy (and stick around for a chance to win a copy of her book!)

1.What’s been the most exciting thing about publishing your debut novel?
Two things: Number one, seeing the finished cover because it put skin on my story for the first time. When my cover designer—the amazing Jenny at Seedlings Design Studio—sent me the initial cover comps, I felt the tingling reality of my book.

Number two is what’s happening right now—the opportunity that my published novel is giving me to talk to other bookish people. So fun to connect with readers and talk all manner of story matters. Really, it’s a dream come true.

2. Where did the inspiration for the book come from?
Toni Morrison famously said, “If there is a book that you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” When I began writing HER MEMORY OF MUSIC, there wasn’t an abundance of inspirational (“Christian”) women’s fiction that compellingly addressed real-life issues. Where answers aren’t easy and problems are complex—maybe even scandalous. Fortunately, in the years since I began writing, more of these have arrived on the scene. I hope readers will find my book to be one of them.

As for the specific elements, Langley is a little town on Whidbey Island, Washington, where my husband and I enjoyed vacationing in our early married years. I always thought it would make an atmospheric setting for a novel. Some of my own journey through infertility is mirrored in Darcie’s story. As for Ally—I have a dear friend who gave birth to her son when she was seventeen. That life-turned-upside-down experience is what brought her into a personal relationship with Jesus and made her into the strong, faithful woman she is today. Though that backstory got cut from HER MEMORY OF MUSIC, it’s what inspired my conception of Ally and Jack.

3. What was one of the most unexpected bits from writing this book?
Sheela and Jayashri’s stories weren’t in my original plot outline. The story I’d originally outlined detailed that of a young mom hiding from a frightening past who encounters a troubled sex-trafficking investigator home from India on furlough. So far, so good. But as I wrote, I realized that in order to give the investigator’s side of the story substance, I had to do some research. I interviewed a real trafficking investigator, and that’s when Jayashri materialized onto the page—and took up residence in my heart. Because the more I researched what it meant to be Jayashri—a girl caught up in the horrific sex trafficking trade—the more I realized Jayashri could not remain a footnote. She needed her own story.

4. What do you hope readers walk away from after reading this novel?
I strove to have my characters mirror real life, where people grapple with eternal issues: of fear, and faith, and forgiveness. I also aimed to broaden the typical reader’s awareness of the plight of so many girls and women around the world who are the objects of oppression. I sought to bring together two very different lifestyles—that of the woman in the developed world living in relative comfort but with significant questions of faith and purpose; and that of the woman in the developing world whose basic needs are great but whose voice has so little chance of being heard.

I wanted to show the connection between these different women, bringing their two worlds together and revealing them as one. I also wanted to show that God is a very big God who sees and cares, who orchestrates events and fights on our behalf. And to celebrate the empowering of women by God’s daily grace.

My hope is that readers will be encouraged to find their own empowered voice—and in doing so, to give a hand up to other women who still need one.

5. What are some of your writing habits?
As soon as the kids are off to school, I light a few candles and close myself inside our cozy study, our dog nestled on her pad nearby. I settle into the burgundy leather chair that serves as my writing chair and tune into movie soundtracks on Pandora. If I’m not feeling the mood, I set my timer for 25 minutes (per Pomodoro Technique) to get my fingers moving. I try to get some good work done in the hours the kiddos are otherwise occupied. After school, I squeeze writing into the crevices, often taking my laptop with me to write while they are at dance or jazz band.

6. What are you reading right now?
Bram Stoker’s Dracula, for one. Because my friend Jamie of Books and Beverages recommended it recently (Jamie stopping in to say YESSSSSSS :), and I purposed in 2017 to return to reading at least one classic a year. So far, so good—though I see what you mean about it affecting your dreams.

I’m taking a quick breather between books-for-review, but next up is A Tangled Mercy by Joy Jordan-Lake.

When I need a break from heavier fare, I pull any one of James Herriott’s All Creatures Great and Small series from my shelf. The comfort food of books.

In non-fiction, I’m reading Shelly Miller’s Rhythms of Rest, a beautiful reminder of why God created the Sabbath: good rest for our souls.

7. And finally, any hints of what’s to come? We readers are hardly patient 🙂
I’m well into the final edits of my next novel, The Shadow Sister, due out August 2018. This novel also has a Pacific Northwest setting but on the other side of the Cascade Mountains in Eastern Washington wine country, with Bolivia as the global accent. Another work of women’s fiction, it’s about a gifted artist who embarks on an Andean journey with a small-plane pilot to discover the secrets of her estranged, dead sister’s life and fulfill her last request.

Thank you so much for sharing Katherine! I hope you readers enjoyed this as well. Be sure to connect with Katherine on Twitter and Instagram! And because Katherine is fabulous, she’s giving away an ecopy of Her Memory of Music. Be sure to enter below!

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Author Interviews

4 Questions with New York Time Bestseller Marcus Brotherton | Author Interview

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

I have another great author for y’all to meet today! I gushed about his fiction debut last month (check it out here) and I’m super excited to have him here on Books and Beverages! Besides 4 Questions, I asked a few about the book, so enjoy!

Marcus Brotherton is a journalist and professional writer known internationally for his books and literary collaborations with high-profile public figures, humanitarians, inspirational leaders, and military personnel. He has authored or coauthored more than 25 books.

Notable works include We Who Are Alive and Remain, a New York Times bestseller, A Company of Heroes, which ranked No. 1 in the country among World War II/ Western Front books, and the widely-acclaimed Shifty’s War. Marcus’ debut historical novel, Feast For Thieves, released on September 1, 2014.

Born in Canada in 1968, Marcus earned a bachelor’s degree in biblical education and journalism from Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon, and a master’s degree in practical theology and writing from Talbot Seminary at Biola University in Los Angeles, where he graduated with high honors. Marcus lives with his wife and children in Washington State.

1. You’ve written several non-fiction books set during WWII, what brought about the idea of not only fiction, but post-WWII as well?
I have a strong respect for nonfiction, and it continues to be my bread and butter today. But I think every writer dreams of writing the Great American Novel.

With FEAST FOR THIEVES, I had this idea for a book brewing inside my gut for about two years.

The main character was based off of a real life person named Skinny Sisk, an incorrigible paratrooper from WWII who later became a preacher.

I was fascinated with this idea: here’s a man used to solving his problems with his rifle or his fists—what kind of wild-hearted minister would this man make?

2. How different was writing Feast for Thieves than your other works?
With nonfiction, I’m always tied to a story as it happened—and that can be good if the story is strong to begin with.

With fiction, an author needs to create everything. The plot, the pacing, the dialogue, the action.

Fiction was this big blank canvas that let me be as absolutely free as I could be.

3. So what’s next? Please tell me there is more Rowdy!!! Please!! 🙂
I hope so too.

FEAST FOR THIEVES works as a standalone book—it’s satisfying as is. Yet there are also big opportunities to continue these characters and show how they progress through the next stage of life.

As is common with a debut novel, the publisher is waiting to see how sales do before giving the go-ahead with a sequel. So, we can all keep our fingers crossed.

4. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
The amazing range of people I get to work with in my work as a journalist and collaborative writer.

I’ve worked with everybody from university chancellors and well-known pastors to professional athletes, military heroes, and fashion bloggers. Just a few weeks back, as part of a book project, I attended a closed, private practice for the Seattle Seahawks, last year’s Super Bowl champions.

That type of diversity builds a real richness into my life, I’d say. I’m very grateful for it.

5. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
When I first started writing professionally, I was working for a newspaper, and I was a pretty decent writer who wanted to write a great novel back then, just like everybody else.

I figured that if I just sat down at the computer and started typing, then the next great novel would flow out of me.

I was quite wrong about that, and ended up scribbling down and then throwing away 3 and a half “learning” novels first over the next 14 years.

So, I wish I would have read all the “how to” books sooner, which I eventually did.

The “how to” books are incredibly helpful at teaching a good writer the specifics of the craft—how to start with a bang, how to create power and poignancy in all the write places, how to create a story over a three-act structure.

6. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
My wife and I were driving back from dinner with friends recently, and our kids were in the minivan with us.

It was just sort of a basic moment in life, not thunderstruck at all, yet something pressed me about how perfect the moment was.

I thought, “Here I am in a city I enjoy, working at a job I feel purpose in, surrounded by my wife and children, the people I love the most. Life is good.”

7. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
How our personal stories intersect a larger story. The larger story starts with a babe in a straw ox manager and reaches its pinnacle with three men crucified on jagged wooden crosses.

The man on the cross in the middle is innocent, and as he’s dying he offers a feast to the two thieves on either side of him, a feast of extravagant grace and blessing.

That same offering is spread out today like a banquet on a table. We’re invited to come and dine, the feast is all ours.

Thank you so much Marcus for taking the time to share! This is truly one of my favorite series to have here on the blog.

Where to connect: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Google +


Author Interviews

4 Questions with Jolina Petersheim | Author Interview

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of reading Jolina Petersheim’s debut novel The Outcast, as it was nominated for the INSPYs. I became an instant fan after that book – it’s incredible. She recently released her sophomore novel The Midwife and I can’t wait to read it! Anyway, I’m super excited she joined in 4 Questions so all of you fine readers can get to know her more (and read her books!)

Jolina Petersheim is the award-winning author of The Midwife and The Outcast, which Library Journal gave a starred review and named one of the best books of 2013. The Outcast also became an ECPA, CBA, and Amazon bestseller, and was featured in Huffington Post’s Fall Picks, World Magazine’s Notable Books, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, and The Tennessean. Jolina and her husband’s unique Amish and Mennonite heritage originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. They now live in the mountains of Tennessee with their young daughters. Whenever she’s not busy chasing her toddler or tending her newborn, Jolina is hard at work on her next novel. Visit her at

4 Questions

1. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
Five years ago, my husband and I purchased a piece of land in a valley in Tennessee where we imagined we’d spend the rest of our days. However, now that we’ve built a house and lived here for three years, we’ve decided that we’re at a pivotal point in our lives when we should make drastic changes, while our children our still malleable and young. Therefore, right now we’ve got totes and boxes stacked in corners, and my countertops and cupboards are about as clutter-free as they’re ever going to get. At the end of the month, we’re moving to a quaint solar-powered farm in the Driftless Region of Wisconsin (yes, right before winter hits!). Believe me, I never imagined this transition five years ago!

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
When I was nineteen, one of my dearest friends had a heart attack. Instead of going to see her in the hospital, I traveled fourteen hours to Pennsylvania to attend a wedding with my boyfriend and his family. Soon after we arrived, I received the phone call that my friend had died. I was beyond shocked; I was at the point in my life where I felt invincible and therefore believed everyone around me was invincible as well. Oftentimes, I cannot process life or death by sitting still, so I started walking. My boyfriend followed me. We walked together down to pond, and I cried while sitting on the dock. He didn’t say anything, but when I looked over, he was crying, too. It was one of the hardest and most beautiful moments of my life. And though I regret not getting to see my friend one last time, I know that God turned that hardship around for good, and through her death, I was able to see the beautiful soul of the person—my future husband—who was sitting beside me.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Though I didn’t know it at the time, the day I got married was one of the happiest of my life. I was honestly very terrified to join my life to another’s because I struggled to relinquish my control (I still struggle). But I felt God telling me that this was the person he had for me, and I had to surrender and trust him. I am so glad I did—six years later, I can honestly say that marrying my husband was the best decision I ever made, and I love him more as our life journey continues to unfold.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
More often than not, the moments you will later hold the closest aren’t the ones that are necessarily “easy.” For instance, some of the memories dearest to my heart are of us newlyweds living in an apartment adjacent to our grocery store, working side by side in said grocery store, building our house together, the nights of sleep deprivation during our firstborn’s first year, burying our miscarried baby on our land, holding our second little girl less than a year later, and now—packing up to transition to another part of the nation. Life isn’t easy, but looking back – and sometimes even while you’re living it – you can tell that life is, indeed, good.

Thank you so much Jolina for stopping by and sharing with us! I loved hearing a bit more about you :). Readers – if you haven’t picked up one of her books, you must!

Author Interviews, Bookish Radness

An Interview with Jack Neary & Litographs

When I love a book, I LOVE a book. Shocking right? 🙂 I’m sure y’all know what I’m talking about. When there’s a way to share my love of said favorites, I tend to jump at the chance. Mainly because the world needs to know of the awesomeness found on those lovely pages.

Enter in Litographs, another fabulous bookish company that provides just the opportunity!

Art From Books

Every Litograph design emerges from the text of a book. Just as the words on the pages of your favorite novel come alive in your imagination, our products are designed to illustrate the memorable characters and scenes rooted in text and imitated on stage.

We work closely with professional artists to create a new visual experience for classic and contemporary works alike. From a distance, the artwork illustrates a theme, character, or setting from each book’s descriptive pages. Move closer and the text becomes fully legible.

Lucky for me, Jack from Litographs took some time to share more about the company, so enjoy!

1. How did Litographs get started? Where did the idea come from?
Litographs has always been a means for celebrating the relationship between a reader, authors and the books that brought them together. We felt like there was no better way to do so than by using the actual text of these books and we want each design to act as a conversation starter around that book and literacy more broadly.

2. Now there’s voting for new shirts that come out – has that always been the case or did the first shirts come from favorites?
We started with classics and now that we’re incorporating more contemporary works, the voting platform is helpful for letting us know what books are favorites within our community of readers as well as demonstrating to authors how popular their books would be as Litographs.

3. Speaking of favorites, do you have a favorite classic?
On any given day, one of us will be wearing The Great Gatsby or Darwin’s On The Origin of Species in the office. My personal favorite is Walden.

4. Tell me a bit more about the artists you work with.
We’ve been privileged to work with many talented artists in the past, artists who care just as much as we do about the books they’re illustrating. Even more exciting is the recent addition of Benjy Brooke as our Creative Director. He’s responsible for creating our original six designs and you’ll see many more designs from him soon.

5. I’d love to hear more about the connection with the International Book Bank. How did that partnership start and how does Litographs support them?
Our founder, Danny, has been on the IBB’s Board of Directors almost as long as he’s been making art from books. What drew us to the organization is their modus operandi of not just sending books en masse, but fulfilling a demonstrated need. For example, they might send a set of textbooks so that everyone in a class can follow a lesson together. For every Litographs product purchased, we help send one of those books to a community in need.

6. What are you reading right now?
I just wrapped up a long summer of Infinite Jest and am looking forward to starting The Art of Fielding next.

7. Please tell me Lord of the Rings is the next release :).
We’d love to add LOTR to our collection! Licensing contemporary favorites is something we’re actively pursuing and Mr. Tolkien’s works are a high priority. The next release we’re excited about is The Time Traveler’s Wife and we hope to squeeze in a few other favorites before the end of the year.

4 Questions

1. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
That going to work would mean spending days solving problems and creating really cool art from books with three of my best friends.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
If changing anything in my past would spit out a present day that was any different than this one, I wouldn’t do it.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Trading in business casual for shorts and a Litographs t-shirt.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
The joy of thumbing through dog-eared pages in a book you’ve read a hundred times.

Thank you so much Jack! I appreciate you taking the time to stop by :). So are you convinced yet to buy all the shirts, totes and prints? You’re welcome! Or maybe I should say sorry instead 🙂

Where to find Litographs on the web
Twitter | Facebook | Website

Author Interviews

4 (Or More) Questions with Todd Lawton | Founder of Out of Print Clothing

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

You know what is almost as awesome as books? Really awesome things about books – like Out of Print Clothing. They have such fun shirts, jewelry, journals and other things all book nerds NEED. I’ve been known to purchase quite a few items. Plus they donate a book with every purchase made. A.K.A. They are awesome! I thought it would be fun to connect with the founder and feature him on the blog and he was nice enough to join in,  so please welcome Todd Lawton!

Out of Print Clothing: Literary apparel and accessory company that loves celebrating great stories! Every product sold donates one book to a community in need.

Oh wait, first, here’s some of my favorite things (I love my P&P shirt!)

1. I love what you offer – so creative! So where did the idea for Out of Print come from?
The long story is it started when my partner and I met in the second grade in Portland, Oregon. The abridged version, is we felt that readers weren’t given the same level of expression through fashion as other interests. Just because you’re reading alone doesn’t mean you can’t show the world what books you like. We wanted to be the band shirt for the book lover. Simply put our mission is to get people talking about reading through making things that people feel good about wearing or carrying. So far, it seems to be working. We have hundreds of thousands of customers making bookish statements about themselves in over 80 countries.

2. I think it’s awesome to have a business model that gives back. Can you tell us a little more where this stemmed from and how y’all got connected to the non-profit?
It was a natural extension. The world would be a terrible place, and we’d be out of work if there weren’t people reading books. My business partner and I feel very fortunate to have grown up with plenty of access to books, so we felt strongly that OoP should help where books are scarce. Through our research we found Books For Africa and fell in love with their mission and methodology. In just over four years we have helped to donate approximately 950,000 books!

Since partnering with BFA, we have developed relationships and supported projects closer to home through other reading and writing non-profits like 826 National, First Book, Girls Write Now, Uprise Books, etc. Recently, we developed a fundraising program that helps schools, libraries and other groups raise money through our website. Seeing the impact our “small” idea for a business has made is incredible.

3. Another thing I love is the annual Book Madness (Long live Atticus!)! How did this one start?
It’s hard to remember exactly how it came to be, but I’m sure there was beer involved. We’re lucky to have a very passionate following that is always up for having fun with books. When Book Madness started it we decided which books would be entered. Now all the books/characters are nominated by our fans. We’re always looking for different ways to connect with readers. Often it comes up as a random thing that makes us laugh…like “Put a Poe On It.”

4. What are you currently reading?
“The Sunday of Life” by Raymond Queneau

5. Most of the Out of Print products are classics, so do you have a favorite Classic?
Obviously I’m quite into everything we do, but lately I’ve been wearing “Brave New World” in green, “Clockwork Orange” in black and Walden in blue a lot.

4 Questions

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
That I’d be lucky enough to be doing this and to be business partners with my best friend.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
I wish I would have learned to play a musical instrument. Sorry Mrs. Strauss for terrorizing your music class.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Hearing my daughter have her first hard laugh.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
Food seems to taste better while camping.

Thank you so much Todd for stopping by – I’ve loved featuring you and Out of Print Clothing! Readers, be sure to check them out! I’m sure you’ll find more than enough fun finds 🙂

What are some of your favorite bookish goodies?

Where to connect with Out of Print
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Pinterest | Google + | Instagram

Author Interviews

4 Questions with New York Times Jamie Ford | Author Interview

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

Well. Where to start? Let’s see…I’M REALLY EXCITED that Jamie Ford is here for 4 Questions! He’s writes wonderful stories and has some incredible advice to pass along. Just check out this interview. Plus we have the same name. Need I say more?

Jamie Ford is an American author, who has written two best selling books. Ford is best known for his debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. The book received positive reviews after its release, and was also awarded best “Adult Fiction” book at the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Awards for Literature. The book was also named the #1 Book Club Pick for Fall 2009/Winter 2010 by the American Booksellers Association.

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
I never would have imagined that my first book, HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET would be read in schools. I’ve grown up and become homework, which is weirdly awesome! I also get tons of emails now from students (because there’s no SparkNotes for HOTEL) and they say things like, “Um, Mr. Ford…I really love your books, Motel on the Corner of Sweet and Sour. And if you could answer these twelve questions for me, I’d really appreciate it.”

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
I would have asked my grandparents more questions before they died. If you’re grandparents are still around, stop reading this, step away from the computer, take them to lunch, and ASK EVERY CRAZY, PERSONAL QUESTION YOU CAN THINK OF.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
The month I spent volunteering with my family in Pommern, a bush village in Tanzania. I worked in the AIDS clinic, my wife delivered twins, and my kids worked in the school. No electricity. No running water. But free-flowing kindness everywhere.

Plus, when you put a face on poverty, it changes you forever. I can’t wait to go back.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
That before reality TV, there was this thing called reality. It’s still out there, waiting.

Thank you again so much Jamie! It was a pleasure having you on the blog!

I can’t say enough how much I agree with his advice about grandparents. I wish mine were still here, but I treasure the chats I do remember! If you’d like to connect with Jamie, here’s where you can find him on the web.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Author Interviews

4 Questions with Bestselling Author Steven James

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

Today I get to introduce y’all to the excellent and fabulous writer, Steven James! Not only do his books win awards, he’s a bestselling author. He writes books that hook you and have you reading as fast as you possibly can, because YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. It’s not just me either! The King was the 2014 INSPY winner for Mystery/Thriller (be sure to check out the giveaway at the end). Anyway, I’m super excited he’s on the site and enjoy!

Steven James is the author of more than thirty books, including the critically acclaimed Bowers Files, an eight-book series of psychological thrillers which currently includes The Pawn, The Rook, The Knight, The Bishop,The Queen, and a prequel Opening Moves. The series has received three Christy Awards and numerous other honors.

4 Questions

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
You’d think I would have anticipated the day when I had two girls in college, but thinking ahead has never been my strong suit. Career-wise, I never would’ve thought I’d have branched out into writing two other series besides my Patrick Bowers novels. It’s an amazing life, this writing gig, but my brain sometimes needs a vacation.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
Hmm . . . That’s an interesting question. I don’t like to look over my shoulder and get mired in regrets—since there’s often not a whole lot we can really do about them. However, I’d say that when I was high school I had an interest in creative writing but never had a teacher who encouraged me to pursue it—perhaps the opposite. I never felt free to really express myself. Not to blame them—it was my own insecurities that bogged me down, but I’d say I would go back and write, regardless of what other people thought about that, and give my imagination the free rein it wanted so badly.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Honestly, the time I felt the most joy was the day I became a Christian back when I was in college. There have been lots of other amazing moments—stargazing while backpacking in the Wind River Range of Wyoming, seeing the look in my wife’s eyes when I proposed to her, being present when my daughters were born, and, yes, receiving the first printed copy of my first novel in the mail—but I believe people are spiritual beings and the day I realized that God had truly saved me from my own boneheaded choices and selfish motives was the best day of my life.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
Live with both eyes open. Don’t ignore the suffering on our planet and close yourself off from the joy. It sounds a little self-evident to say it, but time is life and life is time. What you spend one on, you end up spending the other on. If you waste one, you’re wasting the other. So embrace the moments you have. Relish them. Life is fleeting. Hope is a gift and eternity is only a heartbeat away.

Be sure to connect with Steven James around the web!
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Thank you again so much Steven! I hope you guys enjoyed this as much as I did :).

Author Interviews

4 Questions With Author Jennie Allen

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

What better way to kick off the new month than with another 4 Questions?! I’m excited to have a fellow Austinite on the blog too! Jennie Allen has been doing some amazing things for women and it’s awesome to see the ripples of her faithfulness to teach women and empower them lead to incredible things! So let’s dive right in! Here’s 4 Questions with Jennie.

Jennie Allen’s passion is to encourage women to serve God and others by pursuing their passion. She holds a master’s degree in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary and is the author of two books and numerous Bible Studies, including her latest book entitled Restless: Because You Were Made for More. She is also the founder of IF, which gathers, equips and unleashes women to live out their purpose. Jennie and Zac Allen are the parents of four children and live in Austin, Texas. Find Jennie’s blog at

1. What is something about your life right now that you never would have imagined 5 years ago?
I think I was always afraid to admit that I was a leader. I don’t think that I’m alone. I think a lot of women wrestle with their gifts and not knowing how to use them. Now, it’s absolutely undeniable. I’m leading a major organization, and I’m speaking and teaching. All of these were difficult for me step into, and I think that came from a lot of fears and ideas about what it meant to be a godly woman. Unfortunately, there were times I thought sitting in the back and holding my more public, strong gifts back was ideal. Now, I realize that God has built me this way, and that this was a cultural issue for me. It was an expectation for myself that certainly wasn’t from God. Ephesians 2:10 says God “equipped me for the good works that he prepared in advance for me to do.” Now, I feel much more responsible to Him than to these false ideas that I had about what it meant to be a Christian woman. But I know five years ago I would have been shocked at all the things that I am leading and ways that I am using my gifts. I just couldn’t have imagined it.

2. What is one thing you would go back and do differently if you could?
Well, since you have me thinking about the ways I held my gifts back… I think I knew my gifts at a young age. People spoke them to me. They said, “You are gifted teacher. You are a gifted visionary. You are a gifted leader.” But I fought so much insecurity and fear for so long when I could’ve been using those gifts for others and for the glory of God. At the same time, I believe that’s also a part of my story now. It’s the reason I’m so compelled to help other women use their gifts and lean into the ways they are made and the good works that God’s prepared for them. I can’t say that I would take it back because it’s shaped what I’m doing. Isn’t that true of all of our weakness and regret? God can take those things and use them for good.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Well, there are the obvious happy moments of marriage and children, but one of the sweetest moments lately was the day of IF: Gathering. It had been a dream for so long and it had cost us so much emotionally. It had been years and years of dreaming and working and believing and obeying God in the darkness. IF was the moment we got to walk out of the cave and see the light. It was too much to take in. It was too overwhelming that God had been leading me all that time. I think until the day of IF, I still wondered if I was wrong. Was I misleading everybody? Were we going to come to that day and fail miserably? I was so blown away and surprised at how God came through, and how it reached out beyond anything we could have hoped or imagined. That was a day that I believed and trusted God, and he showed up. Just to say He was with me and for me. It felt so personal, and yet there were so many other people a part of it.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
This isn’t some game, our lives. It’s a gift that we get to serve God and obey Him and love Him with these days that we have here. I think I’ve turned that it into pressure at certain points. I told myself that I needed to do something big or great, but I’m learning that this isn’t about something for God. It’s about doing something with God. As long as their eyes are fixed on Jesus, the author and perfector of their faith, the races that He has for them will not be run in agony, but they’ll be run with joy because we’re running with our God—the one who adores us and we adore. I think I look at this next generation, and I see so much passion and joy and fervor to impact the world and spend their lives well. I relate to that. I feel like I’m a part of that. But I I’ve messed up in thinking that he wanted something from me. God wants to do the works that he prepared in advance with me. I’m learning to lean into the joy of a daily walk with God rather than focusing on the great works that I think He wants from me.

Thank you so SO much Jennie for your time and wise words! I’m so encouraged and want to dive right in the race with Jesus alongside me :). If y’all haven’t, be sure to connect with Jennie online!

Where to connect with Jennie
Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Instagram


Author Interviews

4 Question With Author Lori Benton

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

It’s been much too long since a 4 Questions has appeared on the blog. I’m excited not only to end the drought, but to have Lori Benton, author of Burning Sky (which is an INSPY shortlist pick for the debut category!) and The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, join me on the blog! I’ve heard so much about her latest and I can’t wait to read it. If you haven’t had a chance to read Lori’s book, I highly recommend it!

Lori Benton, author of the acclaimed Burning Sky, was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American and family history going back three hundred years. Her novels transport readers to the 18th century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn’t writing, Lori enjoys exploring beautiful Oregon with her husband.

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never have imagined 5 years ago?
Five years ago I would never have imagined I’d be signing my second book contract with my dream publisher, WaterBrook Press. God has been abundantly gracious and kind to have nurtured the dream of writing stories, which He planted in my nine-year-old heart, for the thirty-five years it took to see one of those stories published and shared with readers.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
There are so many things I’d go back and do differently, mostly small things, but a few big decisions…but what would change them all from bad choices to better? One thing. If only I’d walked more closely with the Lord as a young person, taking seriously my relationship with Him and the reasons why He hates sin (He hates it because it’s destructive and wounding to us, no matter how fun or easy it appears at the time), and make better choices in all those circumstances, big and small. But most of all, I’d walk more closely with Him to enjoy at a younger age the intimacy I experience with Him now, an intimacy I hope and expect will only continue to deepen. Still, He is gracious, and works all things—even my worst decisions and actions—for good. How so? For one thing, I get to weave all those lessons I learned the hard way into my stories.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Again there are many, because we serve a God who delights in blessing His children. Here’s one: the December day in 2011 I sat in a room full of relatives, but over in the corner with my Dad at the table (who was visiting from out of state, and who I hadn’t seen for two years), and told him that after more than half a lifetime of trying I had just been offered a book contract with WaterBrook Press. Then I got to witness him stand up and, once he had the room’s attention, proudly share my good news with the rest of my aunts, uncles, and other extended relations. My Dad passed into heaven almost two years from that day (Dec 22, 2013), so that will always be a cherished memory for me.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
Whatever changes may come in your lifetime to the way life is lived, the God of the bible never changes. He is a rock in a shifting sea. He is an anchor in any storm. He is peace amidst chaos. He is eternal perspective against the tyranny of the urgent and overwhelming now. Seek Him first, and anything else you need, any blessing or provision or dream or hope, will be added to you.

Thank you so much for stopping by Lori! So glad to have you here on Books and Beverages!! If y’all haven’t, be sure to connect with Lori online:

 | Facebook | Website |

Author Interviews

4 Questions With New York Times Bestseller Fawn Weaver

(This interview is part of my 4 Questions Project, where I get the chance to chat with authors and tell stories of people, life, and adventure. Be sure to check out previous interviews here!)

Friends from the internet!! I’m so excited to share this 4 Questions! If you remember a few weeks ago, I had the chance to read Happy Wives Club and loved it (saying a lot that a single gal can really enjoy a book about marriage). Plus I absolutely love the heart of author Fawn Weaver. She’s fun, she’s honest and she’s making an incredible difference for so many women (and their husbands) out there! Trust me, after you read this interview, you’ll know what I mean!

Fawn Weaver, a New York Times® and USA Today bestselling author, is a businesswoman, marriage advocate and the founder of the Happy Wives Club, a community of over 600,000 women in more than 100 countries.

The Club’s website,, is an upbeat blog dedicated to positively changing the tone about marriage. Twice named the Best Marriage Site on the web by (2012 & 2013), is the go-to place for women wanting to read about the “sunny side” of marriage and get tips on taking a marriage from good to great and from great to extraordinary.

Happy Wives Club, Weaver’s debut book -now a New York Times® and USA Today best seller- is a journey to 12 countries and 6 continents in search of the universal secret to a happy marriage.

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
Not being able to have children. I’ll be 38 years old this year so that’s definitely not something I would have predicted when we first began trying. We’ve gone through a failed adoption and two failed fertility treatments but through it all, the joy in our marriage has never wavered. He’s my rock and I am his. No doubt about it.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
That’s an interesting question. Around 2008 and 2009, we had to be incredibly frugal (well, maybe a little more than frugal) in order to pull ourselves out of debt. We were too comfortable living on credit and the crisis of 2008 was our wakeup call. We read Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover and remained focused with “gazelle intensity” until our debt was paid off. It didn’t adversely impact our marriage as we teamed up to defeat debt rather than turning on one another. We grew through it together so in that regard, it was a huge blessing. But if I could go back and do it again, I would have put our spending in check from the early years of our marriage.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Easily, the day we renewed our vows for our 10th wedding anniversary. We eloped in 2003 so having the chance to put on a beautiful wedding dress and to see my husband at the end of the aisle in a tux, was absolutely amazing.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
Happily ever after isn’t a fairy tale; it’s a choice. Happiness in marriage is a moment-by-moment decision to love, forgive and grow together…happily.

Thank you so much Fawn for joining the 4 Questions project! I’m so glad my readers got to meet you :). Hopefully y’all will grab a copy of Happy Wives Club and check out the forum too!