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 Award-Winning Katie Ganshert | 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’ve said this before on the blog, but Katie’s contemporary stories are some of my favorite in that genre. She has a way of captivating the reader and make you fall in love with reading all over again! I hope you enjoy this interview as much as me.

Award-winning author, Katie Ganshert, graduated from the University of Wisconsin in Madison with a degree in education, and worked as a fifth grade teacher for several years before staying home to write full-time. She was born and raised in the Midwest, where she lives with her family. When she’s not busy penning novels or spending time with her people, she enjoys drinking coffee with friends, reading great literature, and eating copious amounts of dark chocolate.

4 Questions

1. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
That I’d be a coffee lover! Seriously, five years ago, I hated coffee. I couldn’t even stand the taste of coffee-flavored ice cream, and I love ice cream. But one morning a while back, I was desperate for an extra kick. So I mixed hot chocolate with coffee, and you know what? It wasn’t the worst thing. Plus, the caffeine kick was great. Then I discovered the world of flavored coffee creamer. My morning cup used to be roughly half creamer, half coffee. Now I just use a little dash, and I drink coffee every morning.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
I wouldn’t do anything differently, because every choice I made—including every mistake and failure—made me who I am and brought me to where I am today. Since I like where I am and believe God has me here for a reason, I wouldn’t do anything differently. However, I would worry less. I’ve wasted a lot of energy worrying about things that a) never ended up happening or b) wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
I’d say it’s a toss-up between the day my husband proposed, finding out we were pregnant with our son while in New York City, holding my Congolese daughter for the first time, or the day I got the call from my agent that I was going to be a published author.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
Be careful with technology. If you let it, it can rob your life. Turn off the phone. Get away from the screen. Have actual conversations with people. I guarantee when you’re old you won’t regret it.

Thank you so so much for sharing your heart and some of your story Katie! I am most definitely inspired by your journey so far. 

P.S. Katie also recently released a YA series and you should check it out! I have the first one ready for me to read and can’t wait to dive in!

Where to Connect with Author
Website | Twitter | Facebook

Author Interviews

4 Questions with Hillary Manton Lodge | 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!)

Not only has it been a short week for many of us, but it’s Friday! So how about a fun 4 Questions to kick off the weekend?

I thought it was a great idea too. If you haven’t met Hillary yet, you’re in for a treat! One of her recent books, A Table by the Window, is an INSPY shortlist winner and her second in the series just released! So please, enjoy!

Hillary Manton Lodge is the author of Reservations for Two, A Table by the Window, Plain Jayne, and Simply Sara. A graduate of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism, Hillary discovered the world of cuisine during her internship at Northwest Palate Magazine. Her next novel, book three in the Two Blue Doors series, will release May 3rd, 2016 from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishers. In her free time, Hillary enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, attending indie concerts, and finding new walking trails. She and her husband make their home in Portland, Oregon, with their Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Shiloh.

4 Questions

1. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
To be honest, when I was younger I’d planned on starting a family, but it just hasn’t shaken out that way. So while there are hopes and dreams that children might factor into the future, I’ve had the opportunity to focus on writing in a way that I hadn’t anticipated. It’s been a different, but no less worthy path. My fifth novel will release late next spring, with plans – as always – for more.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
I would have done a B.S. degree rather than a B.A. in college. And that’s pretty much it. I don’t much believe in regrets, or letting your headspace camp out in them. Grace covers our past; faith and courage inform our future.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
I really, really liked getting married. I was so excited to marry my husband, and all my favorite people were there, and I loved my dress. I suppose it’s a cliché to cite one’s wedding, but it’s true.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
I have a niece and nephew who are in middle school and high school, respectively. We have a lot of conversations about the transient nature of popularity and the importance of kindness.

Thank you so so much Hillary for joining in!! Hope y’all enjoyed hearing from her as well and be sure to connect with her around the web!

Where to Connect with Author
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

Author Interviews

4 Questions with Award Winning Kristy Cambron | 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!)

In case you missed my reviews of Kristy Cambon’s novels, I’ll just say it’s safe to say I’m a fan. Her books are heart-wrenching, yet so incredibly beautiful! I count down the days until her next novel. So of course I’m SOOOOO excited to host her on the blog for a 4 Questions! She’s awesome and I hope you enjoy! Oh and don’t miss out on the giveaway at the end!

Kristy Cambron fancies life as a vintage-inspired storyteller. Her debut historical novel, THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN (Thomas Nelson, 2014), was named to Library Journal Reviews’ Best Books of 2014, Family Fiction’s Top Ten Novels of 2014, and received nominations for RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards Best Inspirational Novel of 2014 and the 2015 INSPY Awards for Best Debut Novel. Her second novel, A SPARROW IN TEREZIN (Thomas Nelson, April 2015), was named Library Journal Reviews’ Pick of the Month (Christian Fiction, February 2015) and a Top Pick from RT Book Reviews.

Kristy is an Art/Design Manager at TheGROVEstory.com and holds a degree in Art History from Indiana University. She lives in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons, where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good Christian fiction read.

And y’all – we’re mixing things up with this 4 Questions! Enjoy!

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?

Here’s a bit about what’s next! Yay!

Isn’t she the best y’all?! Thank you so so much Kristy! So glad to hear from you and get to introduce you to my readers!

You can connect with Kristy at:
Facebook: Kristy Cambron | Twitter: @KCambronAuthor | Instagram: kristycambron
Pinterest: KCambronAuthor | Web: KristyCambron.com | TheGROVEstory.com

Author Interviews

4 Questions with Award Winning Gina Holmes | 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!)

Today is kicking off with award winning author Gina Holmes! If you’ve read her books, you know they pack a punch of emotions, but are so incredible and such deep reads. I recently read her debut Crossing Oceans and cried all the tears and last year had the chance to read Wings of Glass, which was another incredible read. So yep! I’m super excited to host her (and of course a giveaway!). Enjoy friends!

Gina Holmes is the founder of Novel Rocket, regularly named as one of Writers Digest’s best websites for writers. Her debut, Crossing Oceans, was a Christy and Gold Medallion finalist and winner of the Carol Award, INSPY, and RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice, as well as being a CBA, ECPA, Amazon and PW bestseller. Her sophomore novel, Dry as Rain was a Christy Award finalist. Wings of Glass has been named as one of the best books of the year in 2013 by Library Journal and was a SIBA Okra pick and a finalist for Romantic Times’ Reviewers Choice Award. Her latest novel, Driftwood Tides is in stores now. She holds degrees in science and nursing and currently resides with her family in southern Virginia. She works too hard, laughs too loud, and longs to see others heal from their past and discover their God-given purpose. To learn more about her, visit www.ginaholmes.com.

1. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
Right now, my youngest son is 18 and getting ready to graduate high-school. I knew it would be emotional, but I had no idea just HOW emotional it would be. When he was a little guy, I would cry just thinking of the day he would leave home. Then, he went through the typical teenage years, where I began to think I might survive him leaving home just fine, ha. Now that it’s fast approaching, I find myself crying and mourning the loss of him as a child I can protect from the world. I have one more son who is 13 and I imagine his flight will be even harder since it will be an empty nest situation. It’s good too, don’t get me wrong. Bitter sweet like most of life.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
Wow, you ask some tough questions. Even after I became a Christian, I didn’t always live out my faith. I still don’t at times. If I could go back, I’d have tried much harder to live within the parameters God set out in the BIble. I used to think God was kind of a kill-joy. Now, I realize He just wants to protect us. I could have saved myself and others a lot of grief.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
My children being born of course and getting married, the usual wonderful stuff. Since this is a book blog though, I’d have to go with the moment I was working as a nurse and got the call that my first novel, and personal favorite, Crossing Oceans, was being offered a contract by Tyndale House. I still remember my agent telling me, “It’s okay to scream.” I was working in the newborn nursery at the time, so it really wasn’t, but it was okay to cry, and I did.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
Wow, there’s so much. That’s the right of passage for middle-age, having the desire to share what you’ve learned the hard knock way, with a younger generation (who won’t heed anymore than we did at that age). I guess my best piece of advice ties along with my biggest regret. Put God first, right now. Heed His word because it’s the answer to everything.

Thank you so so much Gina for sharing some of your heart with us! I was so encouraged by this and can’t wait for what ever you pen next!

Where to Connect with Author
Website | Twitter | Facebook

Author Interviews

4 Questions with Award Winning Elizabeth Camden | 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!)

It’s always such a joy to be able to feature some of my favorite authors! One of those? Elizabeth Camden. Not only because she covers such interesting parts of history, but I love the women she creates, women who are strong and inspiring. And what better way to kick off the week than with a 4 Questions and giveaway right?

Elizabeth Camden is a research librarian at a small college in central Florida. Her novels have won the coveted RITA and Christy Awards. She has published several articles for academic publications and is the author of four nonfiction history books. Her ongoing fascination with history and love of literature have led her to write inspirational fiction. Elizabeth lives with her husband near Orlando, Florida.

1. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
Easy! I would never have dreamed that I’d be writing and publishing novels. It was one of those pie-in-the-sky dreams I worked hard for, but never really expected it would happen. And when it did? It was more thrilling, more challenging, and more heartbreaking than I ever imagined. It’s one thing to write novels in the privacy of your home, quite another to hand it over to others who will slice and dice the text, pick out a cover for it, and send it out into the world where it will be subject to the slings and arrows of public opinion. For the most part folks have been very kind to my books, but I sweat bullets over each one. I never thought about the realities that happen on the other side of getting that first book contract.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
I wish I’d been more of a risk-taker when I was younger. I was always very cautious and worked hard, trying to save money for a rainy day, buckle down to get an education, become gainfully employed, etc.

But I’ve always had a couple of wild, unfulfilled dreams. I wanted to move to Alaska for a year and work in a fish cannery. When I was in college I met a girl who did the Alaska-thing, and I immediately glommed onto it as a wild, wonderful adventure I wanted to try, but I was too timid to pursue it. I wish I had. I know the work would be hard, smelly, and uncomfortable, but I wish I had such a year in my memory bank. Now that I’m older I realize that my early twenties was the perfect time to do such a thing. It’s too late now. I’ve got elderly parents who I’m a caregiver for, and a husband who has zero interest in moving to Alaska. When I was in my twenties I was so worried about money and building my own safety net that I didn’t realize it was the perfect time to do something wild and adventurous.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Oh my….there isn’t any one thing I can point to. The days I am happiest are not linked to grand events. They come in the quiet moments, or at the end of a long day when I’m tired in both body and mind, but have the satisfaction of a job well done. Those are my happiest times.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
I worry that we are robbing our kids by trying to keep them constantly amused and stimulated. Television, video games, amusement parks. Now we can stream movies to kids riding in a car. Kids who are bombarded with this sort of entertainment don’t know what to do when the power fails. They grow into adolescents who expect to be entertained, but lack the ability or emotional heft to venture forth and become productive.

There is a certain magic to going out in your own backyard to search for fossils among the rocks in the garden, or riding a bike on a hot summer’s day. Perhaps even more importantly, there is terrific value in learning to do something hard. Kids who train for a sport, build model airplanes, or join the scouts learn great skills. When my husband was in boy scouts he learned to build a fire, catch, skin and cook a fish. This leads to a sense of accomplishment that no video game can ever provide. So I hope the next generation can move away from short attention spans and learn to enjoy things that are hard. Those are the things we are proudest of.

Then again, my husband says my Indian spirit name is “Dream Killer,” and I never learned how to have fun. Maybe that’s true, but I’ve also learned to derive immense satisfaction from sinking my teeth into a big, hard project, and I learned that skill when I was only a kid. I hope the next generation can put down their cell phones and learn to enjoy doing something hard.

Thank you so so much Elizabeth! I love your books, so it’s a pleasure featuring you on the blog!

Where to Connect with Author
Website | Facebook

 

Author Interviews

4 Questions with Lorie Langdon | 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!)

What better way to end the month than with a fabulous 4 Questions?? I’m excited to have Lorie Langdon on the blog today! I absolutely love the Doon Series (counting down until Book 3!) she writes with Carey Corp (you can find my reviews here)! They’re creative and a great addition to the YA market. If you love the genre or have teenagers, be sure to check it out.

Lorie Langdon has over ten years experience writing online and print advertising for a Fortune 500 company. A few years ago, she left her thriving corporate career to satisfy the voices in her head. Now as a full-time author and stay-at-home mom, she spends her summers editing poolside while dodging automatic water-gun fire, and the rest of the year tucked into her cozy office, Havanese puppy by her side, working to translate her effusive imagination into the written word.

Lorie has a Bachelor’s Degree from Wright State University. She is a PRO member of Romance Writers of America and a board member for her local Ohio Valley RWA chapter.

1. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
There are so many things that have changed for me in the last five years! One thing that amazes me almost every day is the outpouring of love and enthusiasm for the Doon series on social media. Our readers from all over the world post edits and videos of what our characters might look like, gorgeous photos of our books and even original fan art! Five years ago, I was still dreaming about Doon being published, so our awesome readers were far from something I could have imagined!

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
I would go back to the stressful years prior to getting my first publishing deal and trust God’s perfect timing. After lots of rejection, the publishing deal we got for Doon ended up being beyond anything I could’ve imagined! Our book was the lead title for Blink, a brand new YA imprint geared toward delivering clean, compelling stories that delivered a message of hope. With another publisher, Doon’s subtle spiritual thread would likely have been unacceptable. But with Blink we’re able to tell the story of Doon the way it was meant to be told.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
The first time I held the Doon hardcover in my hands, when Carey and I had our first book signing in New York City and people were lined up to meet us, when I saw our amazingly gorgeous cover for the first time, when a reader drove eight hours to get to our book signing…Oh, was I only allowed to list one?

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
When I was a teen, I sat on the sidelines and watched the world go by. I was afraid of rejection, of taking risks, of trying new things…I’d rather bury my face in a book then take an adventure. But in college someone very close to me passed on and I realized life was too short to sit back and wait for things to come to me. So I fought my way out of my passive shell and I’ve never looked back. I still feel scared sometimes (especially before a speaking engagement!), but I’ve realized that fear, failure, and rejection are all part of living a spectacular life!

My advice for the next generation…Try new things, take a leap of faith, go after your dreams! You may not succeed every time, but it’s worth the risk—I promise. 🙂

Thank you so so much Lorie! It was a pleasure to have you on the blog and can’t wait for the next Doon book as well as your first solo release! Yay! Alright readers, be sure to connect with Lorie.

Where to Connect with Author
Twitter | Facebook | GoodReads | Pinterest | Website | Doon Series Website

 

Author Interviews

4 Questions with Ryan Pemberton | 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!)

Do y’all remember that one time I talked about C.S. Lewis? I think it may have been about seven seconds ago. I heard about Called: My Journey to C. S. Lewis’s House and Back Again not so long ago and after an email from a friend, I knew I needed to connect! Not only can I not wait to read the book (don’t miss the giveaway at the end), but Ryan is such a refreshing voice and is awesome, so I’m super excited to host him today!

I also need you readers to know that at one point he lived in the house C.S. Lewis lived in.

Internet.

Jealousy. So much jealousy.

Ryan J. Pemberton left a successful career in marketing and public relations to write about life and faith and God. He has degrees in theology from Duke Divinity School and Oxford University, where he lived in C. S. Lewis’s former home, served as President of the Oxford University C. S. Lewis Society, and co-founded the Oxford Open Forum, an inter-religious dialogue group.

Ryan has written for Image Journal, Duke University Chapel, Bible Study Magazine, and Relevant magazine.

He serves on the Board of Directors for Jesus’ Economy, an international non-profit organization that creates jobs and churches in the developing world.

Ryan lives in the Pacific Northwest with his wife and daughter. This is his first book.

Let’s dive in shall we?

1. Why did you want to write this book, this story? Was this a story you wanted to publish when you got back to the States or did it come about gradually?
I wrote a magazine article a few years back called, “Lessons From Leaving a Desk Job.” I was blown away by the response I received, from people all over the world who wrote to say how it spoke to them, right where they were at in life. Feeling called to make a dramatic life change, but also being scared out of their mind to take that first step. I was actually working on another manuscript at the time, trying to get it published but struggling with closed door after closed door. And then I began to think, “Maybe there’s a book here…”

I started putting together the pitch when I returned to the States. It took about a year or so to get a deal, and then I wrote it while finishing my Master’s. It was a pretty crazy time.

2. What do you hope readers walk away with after reading this part of your story?
I like how you put that: “this part of your story.” Because the story’s not done, right? It’s still being written. And readers will feel that at the end of Called.

But as for your question, I hope those who read Called will feel a part of their own journey as they read this journey. I hope they’ll be led to think about where God is calling them, not so much to this job or that life change, but to this particular area of life that God is calling them to surrender, and to follow Him, even if following Him means staying right where they are, but staying in a new way—a way they would never have imagined on their own but that’s so beautiful that people stop and take note.

3. Let’s chat C.S. Lewis because he’s a genius :). What are a couple of his works you consider favorites?
The first C. S. Lewis book I ever read was Mere Christianity, which changed my life in tangible ways. I like to say that my heart was baptized years before, but it was only after I read Mere Christianity that my mind was baptized. It was then that I put both feet into the Christian tradition for the first time. Which is important, right? We’re heart and mind, not one or the other. The Christian narrative speaks to both, but I needed Lewis’s help to show me that. To this day, MC is still my favorite.

From there, it gets tricky. I actually really like the collection of essays titled, God in the Dock, because it gives you a chance to read Lewis on so many different topics. Also, I like Abolition of Man a lot; that was a prophetic book. And I always try and encourage folks to have a look at his letters. They’re now published as a three-volume work. You don’t have to read very many of them to see how incredibly thoughtful he was in correspondence, taking great time and care to answer the deep, personal questions people wrote him. They’re often overlooked, but they’re a rich read.

4. What’s one way the legacy and life of C.S. Lewis has impacted your life?
Well I touched on this earlier, but Lewis encouraged me to take my faith seriously intellectually. He has this great line in Mere Christianity where he says, “God is no more fond of intellectual slackers than He is of any other kind of slacker.” Which not only gave me permission to be a thinking Christian, but actually made me realize this is something I have to be. Like anything, my mind is something God has given me, and He expects me to use it to the best of my ability, for His glory and for the work of His in-breaking Kingdom.

1. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
This, probably. I mean, the interviews and talks and book signings. I recently gave a reading at this bookstore in my old hometown, and it was such a surreal feeling to actually be reading my book aloud to all these folks. The day before, I lectured at my undergrad alma mater on the life and writings of C. S. Lewis. Afterward, I was signing books and I looked over the shoulders of those in line at one point and saw the poster hanging on the wall with my photo and book cover on it. These undergrads were handing me copies of my book to sign, some with shaky hands, and I just thought “Whoa… This is actually happening.” It was pretty surreal.

This is something I dreamed of for years, but the journey to this point was so incredibly difficult, with more closed doors than I’d like to admit. So to actually be here, now, it’s an incredible feeling.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
Oh, boy… That’s a tough question. But there was a time on my journey when I became so worried, so focused on getting published, that I really feel like I became lost to myself. I became a pretty lousy husband and friend to my wife—not being there for her as I should have been—and a pretty poor friend to my friends. I let this ambition get in the way of who I was supposed to be and to the needs right in front of me. I think I had to get to a pretty ugly place before I realized, “This will never be worth it if you’re not taking care of what’s right in front of you.” Other authors say that, of course. I think of Anne Lamott, for example. But for me, I had to learn that one on my own. Like anything, getting published makes for a poor god.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
The birth of our daughter, Emma. Hands down. I told a lot of friends after she was born that I was completely unprepared for how much joy she would bring to my life. You’re prepared for the late nights and lack of sleep, of course—everyone tells you that—but no one told me how genuinely happy she’d make me.

My wife, Jen, and I spent six months of our first pregnancy 6,000 miles apart, during what was one of the most difficult periods of my life. I write about this experience in my book. And I think that darkness only made the joy of this experience that much brighter.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
That your story is not about you.

I’m not sure when that realization comes—it’s something I have to learn over and over again, it seems—but it sure saves us from a lot of grief. As someone who writes memoir, and who gives talks and interviews on my own journey, it’s particularly tempting for me to think my life is about me. But it’s not, of course. And when I started to realize that, I learned that I can actually use my life to point to something beyond myself. On my good days, God helps me to do just that.

I feel smarter just reading this interview. Thank you so much Ryan for joining me on Books and Beverages!

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Author Interviews

4 Questions with Jessica Dotta | 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!)

To say I’m a fan of Jessica Dotta would be the understatement of 2015. Her series, Price of Privilege, concluded earlier this year with the third book in the series. Y’all, I’m still recovering because it was that good. Anyway, I’m SOOOOOOO excited to have the lovely Jessica Dotta on the blog for 4 Questions (plus a few because I couldn’t help myself)! Enjoy and be sure to check out the giveaway at the end!

Born in the wrong century‚ except for the fact that she really likes epidurals and washing machines‚ Jessica Dotta writes British Historicals with the humor like an Austen, yet the drama of a Bronte.

She resides lives in the greater Nashville area‚where she imagines her small Southern town into the foggy streets of 19th century London. She oversees her daughter to school, which they pretend is an English boarding school, and then she goes home to write or work on PR. Jessica has tried to cast her dachshund as their butler‚ but the dog insists it’s a Time Lord and their home a Tardis. Miss Marple, her cat, says its no mystery to her as to why the dog won’t cooperate. When asked about it, Jessica sighs and says that you can’t win them all, and at least her dog has picked something British to emulate.

1. What inspired you to write this amazingly/incredible/I-never-wanted-it-to-end series?
It started with a single scene I penned in my teens. I had just finished Jane Eyre and felt wild with enthusiasm at its singular style and storyline. It was the first novel where I couldn’t predict the ending and therefore I felt unsafe. I lost two night’s sleep, turning pages, wondering what would happen. I had no idea stories could be that wild and free. That scene I wrote is the opening to Chapter Ten—Julia’s arrival at Eastbourne.

From there, the story just plain haunted me. The scene raised interesting questions, and I wanted to know why the characters were acting the way they were. They were awful. It also revealed a lot about my protagonist’s past, and I wanted answers to those questions, as well.

Starting the story was different from ending the story. I knew “the” ending, but I couldn’t have imagined the lessons God would teach along the way about the worth of every soul and the difference between his view of us and man’s.

2. Do you have a favorite character? (I’m Team Isaac for life)
Isn’t Isaac wonderful? I can’t even count how many times I finished writing, walked away from my computer, looked at the nearest person and said, “I love Isaac. I really, really love Isaac.”

But, I don’t know that I actually have a favorite. I even like Forrester- the man that is nearly paranoid with mistrust and blunders everything. He is absolutely awful to Julia, but if you don’t allow him to anger you, you can see he has a snarky sense of humor.

3. What’s next for you in the writing world? (There are many of us eagerly awaiting any news!)
I’m waiting to find that out myself. I have two stories, night and day opposites, that I’ll be pitching to my publisher very soon. They both are stories I’ve already started writing scenes for and plotting years ago. I love both of them for very different reasons, so we’ll see.

Now onto 4 Questions!

1. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
Wow! That question is startling and so much bigger than I can answer. I wish I had one of those cute, pithy answers that are so lovable. But when I look at the testimony God has given me, especially over the last five years, I dare not utter anything except that. He deserves the glory.

Exactly five years ago, I found myself in a landscape of devastation.

The short version is I lost every remnant of my old life except my daughter and my dog. The shaking was complete. My marriage was gone, my church was gone, my house, my community, everything I’d tried so desperately to hold together was gone, and in a way that forced me to battle that lie that my worth was at question. The evidence seemed so clear that there was something completely and utterly wrong with me.

Yet at the same time, I had the distinct voice of God promising me He was ultimately in control and not my circumstances, that He was freeing me and not punishing me. He gave me no choice but to confront every fear, removing shackles that I wasn’t even aware of.

I’d lived years, trying to prevent the complete loss of my old life, and it ended up being the best thing that could happen.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
There’s another tough question. I’m probably being too philosophical here, but it’s hard to pick something. Each painful experience has taught me something or changed me in a way I wouldn’t want to take back.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
My mother used to work as a caregiver for the elderly and occasionally she’d take me on assignment with her. One of jobs was to bathe two elderly sisters in the nineties. They hadn’t seen each other in a long time as they were in two hospital beds separated by a partition. There was an upright piano that was in right in the middle. Since I took piano lessons, my mom thought they might enjoy hearing me play.

Ha! I’m not sure what they thought of my playing. First of all, I have no musical gifting whatsoever. Second, the piano was out of tune, missing keys and each note banged out sounded tinny and awful. Nevertheless, I pulled out my books and played.

When I finished, one of the sisters called me to her bedside and told me to go out back and follow the path away from the house. She wouldn’t tell me why, but she just winked and motioned for me to go.

There was a clear trail leading into the woods, which I took. It led me to the most amazing haven. The awe of this moment still stands out strong in my memory. I entered a grove where soft moss covered every stone and tree and rock. I stood at the bottom of a waterfall gushing and its roar was peaceful and wonderful. A mist hung in the air, but it didn’t chill, it was refreshing. Sun fell through the leaves, adding wavering dapples of light. It was so beautiful. The peace of that moment was so heavy that I imagine heaven must feel similar. That small, hidden spot of earth gave me the same awe that the ocean or a starry sky does.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
Read! Not just the books that are popular today but learn how to unlock those from previous generations. Books have allowed an ongoing discussion that crosses over centuries and over different cultures. Others have wrestled with the same thoughts, fears and hopes. They’ve left us their legacy of thoughts by sharing their wisdom.

Thank you so so much Jessica! I loved reading your answers and I can’t wait for what is next!

Be sure to connect with Jessica around the web if you haven’t already!
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Author Interviews

4 Questions with Award Winning Author Siri Mitchell | 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!)

Happy Monday everyone! Another week and another awesome 4 Questions for y’all! I have another lovely author for y’all to meet, so please enjoy getting to know more about award winning author Siri Mitchell! Also, if you haven’t read her latest, check out the giveaway at the end!

Siri Mitchell is the author of nearly a dozen novels, among them the critically acclaimed Christy Award finalists Chateau of Echoes and The Cubicle Next Door. A graduate of the University of Washington with a degree in business, she has worked in many different levels of government. As a military spouse, she has lived in places as varied as Tokyo and Paris. Siri currently lives in the DC-metro area. Visit http://www.sirimitchell.com

I included a couple questions about her latest release, Like A Flower in Bloom, because I loved it, so enjoy!

1. Where did your inspiration come from for this novel? Your write novels covering such different and interesting time periods or topics, they’re always so fascinating!
I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed them! The inspiration for this novel came from my library’s used book sale. I try to pay attention to my intuition as I browse because it always seem to know what I’m going to write before I do. On one of my visits, I picked up ‘Women of Flowers’ by Jack Kramer. It’s a collected biography of female Victorian botanical illustrators. There were dozens of them and they created such beautiful work, but in order to be published, most of them had to assume a man’s name or sell their work to a male editor so it could be published within his collections. It seemed so unjust and it made me so angry! The anger simmered for a couple years in my subconscious until it popped out in a story synopsis that I subsequently sold to my publisher.

2. What’s something you hope readers take away from this novel?
The best way to honor God is to be who he made you to be. His approval is so much more important than society’s.

And now 4 Questions!

1. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
I really didn’t expect that I would still be living in the same house that I was back then. As a child, my father’s jobs had us moving quite often and then after graduating from university, I married an Air Force officer and moved around some more. This will probably jinx it, but in July, it will be the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
I would have studied history in college. I got my degree in human resources management, but I’ve always loved history. Back then I didn’t quite understand that it was ok to do things that were easy and enjoyable. I had a sort of Puritan-ethic that encouraged me to take the hard road. Doing difficult things = ‘good for you’. Kind of like eating kale I suppose. Blech. In any case, taking the hard road led, in my case, straight to accounting and Introduction to Bonds(!) which I dropped before I could flunk it. They still don’t make any sense to me.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Outside of family milestones, I’d say it has to be when I went back to visit Paris after having moved away. I came up out of the metro, stepped onto the sidewalk and without even thinking said, “It’s so good to be home!” Not ‘good to be back’, but ‘good to be home.’ I hadn’t known that I’d missed it so much until then.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
Beyond anything you do or say, beyond everything you don’t do or don’t say, you have worth. You have worth simply because you are.

Thank you so so much Siri! An inspiring and encouraging interview to read :). Hope y’all enjoyed it too! Be sure to connect with Siri around the internets if you haven’t already!

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