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 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 www.JennieAllen.com.

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 Questions With Author Katherine Reay

(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!)

Where to start, where to start? I’m trying to play it cool introducing the wonderful Katherine Reay. You know, like I’m not freaking out that she’s on my blog. Why? Because she’s awesome and her debut novel, Dear Mr. Knightley, was so fabulous I tell everyone about it. Then, just this past week, she revealed the cover to her next book and I almost passed out. But I didn’t because that would be inappropriate to do at work. But enough nerdiness from me! Let’s dive into 4 Questions with Katherine Reay!

Katherine Reay is a wife, mother, runner, and avid chocolate consumer. She has enjoyed a life-long affair with the works of Jane Austen and her contemporaries and, at the encouragement of her family, recently began an affair with food – cooking that is – and this new passion strongly influenced her next novel, Lizzy and Jane, which will release in October 2014. After living all across the country and a few stops in Europe, Katherine and her family live in Seattle, WA. You can also find Katherine at http://www.katherinereay.com and lurking somewhere within the pages of her first novel, Dear Mr. Knightley.

You can connect with Katherine on her website, Twitter and Facebook!

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
So much! Five years ago I was living in Texas and could see life stretching before with no great ripples (first mistake 🙂 )… Then I was injured and housebound for many months – and I started writing. Then we moved to Seattle, WA. Then my first manuscript (Dear Mr. Knightley) was published with the opportunity for more. And now – all within five years – we are planning another cross-country move this summer… Okay, I’ve just exhausted myself.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
There isn’t much I’d change because I’ve definitely learned from most of my mistakes – certainly not all or I wouldn’t get dragged through a few character flaws repeatedly. 🙂 But two come to mind: 1) In college, I hurt a friend’s feelings. That incident I’ve definitely learned from and wish I could change. 2) I got a job out of college doing what I thought I “should” do rather than what I “wanted” to do. I wish I had trusted myself and followed my passion.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
So many! My wedding and the birthday of three kids definitely ranks tops. But also the day an agent called and said, “I want to work with you.” Although I had not been writing for long, “writing” had been a dream of mine for years and years. God smiled on me – again – that day.

4.What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
In many ways you’re asking what I want my kids to know. And I guess I’d say, “Stick close to Christ and it’ll all be good.” We make it much more complicated and it certainly feels more complicated, but is it? Not so sure. It’s advice I’d like to absorb more fully as well.

Thank you so so much Katherine! It’s such pleasure to have you on the blog! Be sure to connect with her if you already don’t! And if you haven’t read Dear Mr. Knightley, GET ON IT PEOPLE! 😉

Author Interviews

4 Questions With Author DeAnna Julie Dodson

(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!)

One of my favorite books last year belongs to the one and only DeAnna Julie Dodson! The book? Rules of Murder (A Drew Farthering Mystery), written under the pen Julianna Deering. It’s kicked off the beginning of a fabulous new mystery series full of Agatha Christie vibes and English accents. So if y’all haven’t dived into the world of Drew Farthering, why you must.

DeAnna Julie Dodson has always been an avid reader and a lover of storytelling, whether on the page, the screen or the stage. This, along with her keen interest in history and her Christian faith, shows in her tales of love, forgiveness and triumph over adversity. A fifth-generation Texan, she makes her home north of Dallas with three spoiled cats and, when not writing, spends her free time quilting, cross stitching and watching NHL hockey. Her new series of Drew Farthering mysteries set in 1930s England debuts with Rules of Murder (Bethany House, 2013) and will be followed by Death by the Book (Bethany House, 2014). She is represented by Wendy Lawton of the Books & Such Literary Agency.

I’m so excited to host DeAnna on the blog and join 4 Questions, so let’s dive right in!

1. What is something about your life right now that you would never imagined 5 years ago?
After more than a decade of no contracts, I am amazed that I am now a Bethany House author. Their editorial and support staff are a dream to work with, and they’re all incredibly sweet. Everything they do is first class, and I am blessed to be with them. Having them publish the book (and series!) of my heart is just an added bonus.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
I would have more actively written and pursued publication after my medieval trilogy was published in the late ’90s. It took me about ten years to get back into the swing of things, but thanks to my wonderful agent, Wendy Lawton, things are better than ever. I believe God doesn’t waste anything, so I’m sure that ten years of “lost” time was beneficial to me and my writing in one way or another. I’m just glad I got a second chance.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
My cat Elliot passed away in August of last year. I had just lost another cat, my sweet Emily, and was heartbroken to lose my boy, too. But when I was at the vet’s office letting Elliot go, they brought me a tiny little orange kitten who needed a home. I was sold. Even though a “toddler” kitten is always a handful, he brought me such joy from that moment on. He makes me laugh every day, and I couldn’t imagine being without him.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
You are loved, and you are forgiven. God loved you enough to give Himself (Jesus) to die for any- and everything you’ve ever done wrong. He wants you to come to Him and will never turn you away if you do.

Thank you so much DeAnna for taking the time to hang out at Books and Beverages! Be sure to connect with DeAnna around the web! With her next coming out at the end of February, Death By Book, you don’t want to miss out on any of the news!

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