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

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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 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!

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

 

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!
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

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!

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

Author Interviews

4 Questions with Sally Bradley | 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!)

Every once in a while you encounter a book that completely blows you away. I didn’t know what to expect when I came across Sally’s debut novel, but I had heard good things from trustworthy sources, so I figured it was worth a shot. And boy oh boy it was! I can’t say enough how fabulous this book was and I’m so happy to have Sally on the blog today! I hope you enjoy this as much as I did!

Sally Bradley writes big-city fiction with real issues and real hope. A Chicagoan since age five, she now lives in the Kansas City area with her family, but they still get back to Chicago once in a while for important things—like good pizza and a White Sox game. Fiction has been her passion since childhood, and she’s thrilled now to be writing books that not only entertain, but point back to Christ. A freelance fiction editor, you can find Sally at sallybradley.com and on Facebook at Sally Bradley, Writer

Before I dive into the 4 Questions, I asked Sally to share a bit about Kept. It was such a fantastic (and much needed) read, I had to get a bit more!

I wanted Kept to be an honest look at the immorality our society is embracing and how that affects us, whether we accept God or not. Kept is big-city fiction centered in a gorgeous few blocks of downtown Chicago, and the book focuses on real issues our society faces but offers real hope that only comes through a life surrendered to Christ. We can do all the self-help we want, listen to all the experts, and follow our hearts. But our hearts are wicked, and the foolishness of God, as the Bible says, is beyond the wisdom of man. That’s what Miska, an unchurched, modern-day woman, learns as she realizes that the dreams she’s been chasing are nothing but chains and destruction.

Love it! Now on to the 4 Questions!

1. What is something about your life right now that you would have never imagined 5 years ago?
Teaching a kindergartner to read. The thought of being in charge of that foundational basic terrified me. But he’s doing awesome and already reading words and sentences. Phew! So my answer is that and having two teenagers in the house. Talk about going from one extreme to the other! Life is never boring.

2. What is one thing that you would go back and do differently if you could?
I would enjoy my two oldest more when they were preschoolers. They’re only half a year apart, and while I wouldn’t change that aspect, it was exhausting at times. I didn’t enjoy them like I should have.

3. What is one of the happiest moments of your life?
Steve and I have been asked this, and we both instantly had the same reply–the day our surprise baby was born and we got to introduce our then eight-and-a-half-year-old son and seven-year-old daughter to him. They grinned from ear to ear and couldn’t get enough of him. It was a special moment as their parents and a very special moment between me and my husband. We’ve never forgotten that.

4. What is one thing you want the next generation to know?
No matter what happens in our lives, in our society, and in our country, God is big enough for all of it. Things change and become outdated, but God never does. The only peace and happiness we’ll ever find is when we focus completely on Him and His Word and live how the Bible tells us to.

THANK YOU so so much Sally! I’m so glad to have you here! Alright readers, what’s one of the last books that made a deep impact on you? Have you had a chance to read Kept??

Where to connect with Sally
Website | Facebook | Twitter

Where to buy Kept: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

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 jolinapetersheim.com.

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

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 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, HappyWivesClub.com, is an upbeat blog dedicated to positively changing the tone about marriage. Twice named the Best Marriage Site on the web by About.com (2012 & 2013), HappyWivesClub.com 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!