Author Interviews

Interview with Lynn Austin

Happy mid-October everyone! Today, I’m excited to share more behind-the-scenes with Lynn Austin and her latest release, Legacy of Mercy! I hope you enjoy this interview and be sure to snag a copy of Legacy of Mercy if you haven’t already!

Legacy of Mercy released on October 2nd and will be the first sequel you’ve ever written. What made you decide to write a sequel?

My readers decided for me! I received many, many letters from them asking if there would be a sequel to “Waves of Mercy.” The main character, Anna, is only in her twenties and is a new Christian, so when she decides to return to Chicago and marry her fiancé at the end of the book, readers wanted to know what happens next in her life. The more I thought about it, the more I wanted to explore what happens next for Anna, too. She has just discovered who her birth mother is, so naturally she’ll want to learn more about her. She’ll also want to solve the mystery of who her real father is and what became of him. What if he is still alive? Lots of material for a story here, especially when the other people in Anna’s life try to discourage her investigations.

You are known for writing multi-generational books and Legacy of Mercy is no exception. What intrigues you about writing in this style?

I enjoy creating women’s personalities from various eras and exploring how the roles and opportunities changed for women from generation to generation. I find it very interesting to see how the choices one generation makes has an influence on each generation after them. It causes me to be more thoughtful in the way I live, knowing that my children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren may be impacted by my life.

Which character in Legacy of Mercy do you identify with the most and why?
I would have to say I identify the most with Geesje DeJonge. For one thing, she is about the same age as I am, and has lived long enough to be able to look back through the years and analyze them. She is in a position to see all of the ways and times when God carried her through—something we usually only see in hindsight, not when we’re going through the difficulties. I’m at the same stage in my life, and I can see God’s faithfulness to me in spite of the many times I questioned His wisdom.

When you sit down to write a story, do you know how it is going to end? Describe your writing process. How do you stay disciplined and not get distracted?
I never know how a story will end when I start writing. I rarely even know what comes next when I’m writing a chapter! I begin with the historical setting, and as I’m doing my research, my characters usually begin to take shape in my mind. I flesh them out by developing resumes for them so that they become real people in my mind, with backgrounds and personalities. Then I figure out where to begin the novel and simply make up the plot as I go along. If I’m surprised then the reader will be surprised.

My deadline keeps me disciplined. I know that if I write a certain number of pages a day, I’ll finish the book on time. I also know how very hard it is to write well when I’m behind schedule and a deadline is looming. Wanting to avoid that last minute panic keeps me disciplined on a daily basis.

As for distractions—there are so many! Over the years, I’ve had to learn when to put the book aside and enjoy a pleasant distraction (an old friend who has come to town, an afternoon with my husband), and when there’s no value in the distraction and it will only make the writing process harder.

Did anything surprise you about the Legacy of Mercy story?
Yes. One of the main characters ends up in an impossible situation, which put me in an impossible situation as I tried to figure out what to do! But I just kept writing and the dilemma untangled in a very natural but surprising way. (You’ll see when you read it!) Also, the ending surprised me—a lot! I hope that all of my readers who asked for a sequel are pleased with it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

For many years, Lynn Austin nurtured a desire to write but frequent travels and the demands of her growing family postponed her career. When her husband’s work took Lynn to Bogota, Colombia, for two years, she used the B.A. she’d earned at Hope College and Southern Connecticut State University to work as a teacher. After returning to the U.S., the Austins moved to Anderson, Indiana, Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba.

It was during the long Canadian winters at home with her children that Lynn made progress on her dream to write, carving out a few hours of writing time each day while her children napped. Lynn credits her early experience of learning to write amid the chaos of family life for her ability to be a productive writer while making sure her family remains her top priority.

Extended family is also very important to Austin, and it was a lively discussion between Lynn, her mother, grandmother, and daughter concerning the change in women’s roles through the generations that sparked the inspiration for her novel Eve’s Daughters.

Along with reading, two of Lynn’s lifelong passions are history and archaeology. While researching her Biblical fiction series, Chronicles of the Kings, these two interests led her to pursue studies in Biblical Backgrounds and Archaeology through Southwestern Theological Seminary. She and her son traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in an archaeological dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience contributed to the inspiration for her novel Wings of Refuge.

Lynn resigned from teaching to write full-time in 1992. Since then she has published 27 novels. Eight of her historical novels have won Christy Awards for excellence in Christian Fiction: Hidden Places (2001), Candle in the Darkness (2002), Fire by Night (2003), A Proper Pursuit (2007), Until We Reach Home (2008), Though Waters Roar (2009), While We’re Far Apart (2010), and Wonderland Creek (2011). She was inducted into the Christy Award Hall of Fame in 2013. Fire by Night was also one of only five inspirational fiction books chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. Lynn’s novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. Ms Jones received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.

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Book Reviews, Fiction

Legacy of Mercy by Lynn Austin | Book Review

I can’t remember the last time I wanted a sequel more, than after reading Lynn Austin’s Waves of Mercy. I’m so glad so many people requested more to Anna’s story and even more so that Lynn wrote one!

I thought the sequel went along well with the original story line and characters’ personalities and actions. I enjoyed what Lynn did with the story and the historical lane she took readers through. I loved getting to connect again with Geesje and Holland, Michigan. Austin also touches on different themes that are just as important today. If you’re a fan of Lynn Austin and historical fiction, don’t miss out on this one!

(Thank you to Bethany House for a copy of the book. All views expressed are my own.)

ABOUT THE BOOK:
Having returned to Chicago, young socialite Anna Nicholson can’t seem to focus on her upcoming marriage. The new information she’s learned about her birth mother continues to pull at her, and she hires Pinkerton detectives to help her find the truth. But as she meets people who once knew her mother and hears stories about the past, Anna soon discovers that some secrets are better left hidden.

At the same time, unflattering stories about Anna are leaked by someone who would love to see her disgraced and her engagement broken. And as Anna tries to share her faith with her society friends, she understands that her choice to seek God’s purpose for her life isn’t as simple as she had hoped.

When things are at their darkest, Anna knows she can turn to her grandmother, Geesje de Jonge, back in Holland, Michigan. Geesje’s been helping new Dutch immigrants, including a teen with a haunted past, adjust to America. She only hopes that her wisdom can help all these young people through the turmoil they face.

Where to Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD | Goodreads

Bookish Radness

Books and Beverages 2016 Favorites

It’s that time! It’s my final post of 2016 (how in the why and what in the world?). It’s been a year hasn’t it? I can always depend on my books and wanted to share my favorites from this year. I’ve linked to my blog post or Goodreads (if I didn’t review). What do y’all think? What are some of your favorites?

(As always, the Tolkien and Lewis’ books aren’t listed, because y’all know how I feel about them. #NotEmbarassedOrAshamed)

Here they are in no particular order:

  • Under Our Skin by Benjamin Watson
  • The Shock of Night by Patrick W. Carr
  • The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell
  • The Edge of Lost by Kristina McMorris
  • Looking for Lovely by Annie F. Downs
  • A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War by Joseph Loconte
  • Dressed For Death by Julianna Deering
  • The Art of Losing Yourself by Katie Ganshert
  • The Alliance by Jolina Petersheim
  • Jaded by Varina Denman
  • When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks
  • Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery
  • Newton and Polly by Jody Hedlund
  • The Portrait of Emily Price by Katherine Reay
  • Waves of Mercy by Lynn Austin
  • The Shattered Vigil by Patrick W. Carr

Another favorite from this year has been the start of The Diversity Series. I’m thankful the conversation is happening and look forward to continuing it in 2017.

What were some of your favorite reads this year?

Bookish Radness

The History of the Book Cover | CBA Edition

Oh the book cover! Put out any book cover and you’ll get all kinds of different opinions. In the CBA market, there’s been shifts, changes, movements and it continues to vary between genres as well. There’s been some funny covers, some cringeworthy (my reaction to most trends of the 90s), some encouraging and some inspiring.

Today, I thought it’d be fun to take a look at a some of the changes over the years of the different genres. I’ll sprinkle some of my thoughts throughout, but I’d love to hear your thoughts about it! Do you have a preference? What changes do you see happening that you’d like more of or less of? So, please don’t be shy and let the discussions begin 🙂

I’m kicking off with a classic (and favorite), not only because it’s been out for a really long time, but I feel like it’s one book cover that has seen many changes. Here’s Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love.

I personally have a soft spot for 2001 cover, but I also like the 2005 (which is the current one) cover as well. That 90s cover though…;)

I rarely read Amish fiction, but since this is a staple in the CBA market, I thought it was worth including.

I tend to see many Amish novels that have the same vibe as this Lewis’ example. The staple outfits and country-ish backgrounds, so the reader will know immediately it’s Amish fiction. I think that’s why I like Petersheim’s covers so much (and probably because I love her stories too. Seriously, READ The Outcast). They show the story is connected to Amish roots, but I think set themselves apart.

Lynn Austin is not only one of my favorite and go-to authors, she’s been a staple in Christian fiction for a while. She was even recently inducted into the Christy Award Hall of Fame. She is also one of the authors who I see such a variety of design with her books. Here’s some of her popular historical and biblical works:

Confession: I’m not too much of a fan of the new edition of Fire By Night. I really like the original one, but that might be more due to the fact it’s one of my all-time favorite books and it holds a soft spot in my heart, so I see no need to change it ;).

Now onto the contemporary stuff. One of my earliest introductions to any type of Christian Fiction was the lovely Robin Jones Gunn’s Glenbrook Series. So let’s look at these shall we?
Weren’t the 90s fabulous? I had the 1999 version and this series is a good example of moving toward the use of models in recent years. What do you think?

Here’s a few other things I’ve noticed in the current trends (this is by no means a massive comprehensive account, since I haven’t investigated every genre or cover, but I still did catch some themes : )

  • Fantasy covers: Even with models, you don’t often see their face. This genre also has quite a bit of variety.
  • General Fiction: I’ve noticed this genre doesn’t use models as often. If it does, we usually don’t see their face. At all.
  • Historical Fiction: I would say a significant chunk of books use models on the covers. Sometimes, there’s models off in the distance too.
  • Contemporary Suspense and Romance: I would say 92.9% of the time there’s models.

Have you noticed any common trends with specific genres? Do you agree?

I’ll close with a few of my favorite recent or upcoming releases:

Now that I’ve probably talked way more about book covers than y’all cared to read, I’d love to know what you think and where you see things going! Do you have a preference?

(Thank you Goodreads for having all the cover editions available for our viewing pleasure!)

Bookish Radness

My Top 8 All-Time Favorite Fiction Reads

Do I dare even tackle such a list? Now before you think there’s really only eight favorites on my list, I just have to say this is me we’re chatting about! But here’s a start of some novels that have held a place in my heart for at least 10 years. You know it’s solid if it’s remained on the list for at least a decade.

Mark of the Lion Series | Francine Rivers: If you ask me for a book recommendation, this will always be the first series I recommend. Looking for a biography of the 13th President? Read Mark of the Lion. Oh, you want a story about London society after 1912? I think the story of Marcus and Hadassah is just what you need. Just kidding, I’d give you a legit recommendation, but I don’t think I can put into words how amazing this series is. If I ever meet Francine Rivers, I’m just going to hug and thank her for this book. I’ve probably read it 10 times and I only see that number increasing through the years.

Just know it’s a three book series. I did not know this and when the first book ended, I texted my friend who recommended it asking why she would think to suggest a book that just RIPPED OUT MY SOUL. Yep, my reaction was equivalent to all caps plus a bag of chips and toss in some fireworks.

I own a hard copy and the kindle version so I can read it at anytime. I also read it two weeks after I read it for the first time because it’s just that amazing. If I could only have one series the rest of my life, this would be it. (I need to confess, I only read this about 5 years ago, but I’ve read it 10+ times, so I still added it to the list.)

Dracula | Bram Stoker: Vampires? Wha? Let’s just clear things up by saying it is nothing like modern day vampire shenanigans. No, this is a classic that so fantastically demonstrates battling such evil. I’m reminded that in the fight against evil, you will battle dark forces, you will lose people, you will want to quit, but you won’t. The world will be a better place because you didn’t. I haven’t read this one in a few years, but man, what a book! My e-reader friends, it’s free, so no excuses!

Redeeming Love | Francine Rivers: That sneaky, sneaky Rivers lady. Without knowing how it happens, after reading her stories, you’re forever connected to the characters she creates and wish you could meet these people in real life. Redeeming Love was also the first Christian Fiction book I read back when I was in college. I remember my friend Lindsay, from one of my Comm classes during my freshman year (folks, I never remember details, so the fact that I remember the class, the friend and the year should tell you something ;), gave me her copy to borrow and I had the chance to read it over Thanksgiving and I devoured that sucker in about two minutes flat.

Please, read this book if you haven’t yet (which I need to point out that every monthly top seller list Lifeway releases, Redeeming Love is on it. I jest not. And it’s nearly 25 years old. In May, Francine Rivers not only had her latest (which was fantastic, see my review here), but Redeeming Love as well. P.S. IT HAS IT’S OWN WIKIPEDIA PAGE. Need I say more?

The Land I Lost: Adventures of a Boy in Vietnam | Huynh Quang Nhuong: This is one of the first books I vividly remember reading. I read through it so many times, I’ve lost count. Since growing up in Vietnam was so vastly different from growing up in my parent’s house in Orange County, California, I was so fascinated by this man’s life. Every time I read this book I wanted to do one thing: Go on an epic adventure. If my mom ever asks why I’m always fixin to do something crazy, it’s because I grew up on stories like these. It was also my Mama who gave it to me 🙂

Fire By Night | Lynn Austin: Sigh….just thinking about this book makes me want to re-read it. I think I might too. It’s been a while since I’ve encountered Dr. McGrath and Julia, so I think this summer I might change that. Not only do I love Julia’s character (and connect with her), I adore Dr. McGrath. The whole series is enjoyable, but this one shines far greater than the other two. Plus it’s Civil War (and still my favorite Civil War fiction novel), so win with that.

The Giver | Lois Lowry: I’ve talked about this one the blog enough, so I’ll keep it short. Without pain, one would never know the true depth of happiness, beauty and love. Lowry so beautifully captures this. Plus it’s coming out in the movies soon!!

The Harry Potter Series | J.K. Rowling: Duh.

To Kill a Mockingbird | Harper Lee: This was one of those books I actually liked in high school and understood at the age of 16 why it was such an important piece of literature. It’s beautifully written, it’s an amazing story and Atticus Finch is one of the all-time greatest heroes in literature.

You might be wondering about the books I talk about every 27 seconds and why they aren’t on this list. Well, I figured it was a given that anything Narnia/Lewis or Middle Earth/Tolkien related are in their own category of greatest all-time anything. I mean, I have a monthly series about them internet, so of course they are my favorite of favorites. (If you want to join in The Inklings series, check it out here)

Alright, there’s the fiction list! I feel I can breathe a little easier now ;). What do you think? What are some of your favorites to add?