Posted in Author Interview, Updates

If I Were You — A Virtual Author Chat with Lynn Austin

On June 4, 2020, I attended Lynn Austin’s virtual chat where she discussed If I Were You and answered readers’ questions. It was a fabulous experience — I learned quite a bit.

Lynn graciously sent those who participated a link to the recorded event and I wanted to share with you! To watch the author chat, click HERE.


AND, if you order a copy of If I Were You by Lynn Austin today from Baker Book House you can save 30%. But hurry because the 30% offer expires July 31, 2020.

You do not want to miss out on this deal or this excellent read!


To read my review of this superb novel, click HERE.

Posted in Author Interview, Scavenger Hunt

Welcome to Isaiah’s Legacy Blog Hop — STOP #16

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1 Week ~ 24 Blogs ~ 3 Incredible Prizes!

Learn a little about Isaiah’s Legacy and enter multiple giveaways while picking up CLUES at each stop. Compile all the clues, submit the final PHRASE at the last stop, and you’ll be entered to win one of 3 Grand Prizes

What are the prizes? They’re completely unique to the winners!

Mesu will contact each winner personally to chat about what they would most like to see in Israel, and then she’ll SHOP for just the right gift while touring Israel, March 6-19! She’ll then purchase a personal and memorable gift specifically chosen for each of those three winners and ship them to each one when she returns. How fun is that?!

How does the Scavenger Hunt & Blog Tour Work?

  • Begin at Stop #1. At the end, you’ll find a CLUE and a link to the next stop. Progress to each stop IN ORDER.
  • Collect all the clues—in order—and submit the full phrase at the last blog stop in the Rafflecopter form. Every stop has a clue, so be sure not to skip any along the way!
  • You may enter the final giveaway only once and win only one grand prize. 
  • The Hunt begins 2/19/20 at noon EDT. The deadline for entries is Tuesday, 02/25 at midnight Eastern.
  • For best results, hunt through our list using Chrome or Firefox as your browser (not Explorer).

There is NO RUSH to complete the hunt—you have a whole week! As you visit each blog, it’s our hope that you get to know Mesu’s BFF team and discover the heart behind Isaiah’s Legacy.


Greetings!

75640634_10156797956076824_3453505781633122304_oMy name is Nicole Santana. Isaiah’s Legacy is the second book I’ve helped promote on Mesu’s BFF team. I love Mesu’s depth of research and the way she brings Biblical figures to life. To learn more about me and the books I review, click HERE.

Want to dig deeper into God’s Word about the king in Isaiah’s Legacy? CLICK HERE to check out the FREE downloadable Bible study on Mesu’s website.

When Mesu asked what topics team members wanted to share on our blogs, I chose a Q+A because after reading Isaiah’s Legacy I had some serious questions I needed answered. LOL!

Q+A — Gifts, Plans, & Dreams

When did you know that writing was your gift?

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Mesu & Shannon

I knew writing was my gift after writing my fifth book, The Pharaoh’s Daughter. I even remember the exact moment the realization dawned. I was sitting across the table from my editor (Shannon Marchese, pictured), and she started talking about a bunch of technical, writing gobble-dee-gook. Protagonist, antagonist, pacing, tension, etc. I stopped her and said she needed to speak in laymen’s terms because I had no idea what she was talking about! 

I just write the stories from my heart. I’m reminded how much I still have to learn about the craft of writing at every writer’s conference I attend. Feelings of inadequacy still whisper in those dark moments of doubt. I’m still amazed anytime I’m nominated for an award. It all feels very surreal. So, when I say writing is my gift, I really mean that. Without the Lord’s intervention each time I sit down at my keyboard, I couldn’t even write a Facebook post!

What inspired you to write Isaiah’s Legacy?

For years I’ve loved the name Hephzibah because it means the Lord’s delight. She was mentioned as Manasseh’s mother, which made her King Hezekiah’s wife (2 Kings 21:1). Bearing those two roles meant she was married to Judah’s most righteous king and was mother of Judah’s most wicked ruler. Talk about torn!

At the time of my research, my daughters were in the midst of their difficult college years. It was as difficult for me to accept my girls being adults as it was for them to transition from college to the adult world. I tried to imagine how hard it would have been for Hephzibah (Zibah) to adjust to her twelve-year-old son becoming king—having authority over her. Yikes!

Not only did he have all authority, but he used it to lead their nation into pagan worship, destroying everything Zibah and her husband had built. Yet somehow she remained God’s delight. Whoa. I wasn’t very delightful when dealing with my young adult girls. I wanted to delve more into Zibah’s maternal heart, to write her story. Isaiah’s Daughter and Isaiah’s Legacy were born.

Isaiah’s Legacy has some seriously dark stuff in it, how did you stay in a positive mindset?

Most writers need to “go deep” to write new content. We can edit with little interruptions here and there, but in order to write the first draft, we need uninterrupted, large chunks of time to immerse ourselves in the characters and their stories. 

That’s great if it’s a happy little romantic comedy, but for most of us, it’s an emotional roller coaster. Isaiah’s Legacy was even more challenging because Manasseh’s journey into sin was so evil. I oftentimes spend 12-14 hours a day in front of my laptop when creating the first draft. It’s intense. But I couldn’t do that with Manasseh’s story. Not with the research or while writing. I had to break it up with light-hearted activities to purposely draw my mind back to God-honoring things.

It was actually a very revealing process. When I reached the places I needed a break, I realized those were the spots my readers would also need a break. Even knowing Manasseh finds redemption in the end isn’t enough to keep someone reading unless we have heavy doses of HOPE sprinkled in along the way! It was necessary for me—and my readers—to keep writing and reading in order to reach the absolutely awe-inspiring grace we see in Manasseh’s salvation.

It was worth every dark word to write those scenes of redemption! I wrote the last two chapters sobbing and praising the Lord. I’ve never experienced anything like it! All praise to the one, true God!

We women wear a lot of hats. How do you successfully juggle all of your hats?

Wow—did you have to say “successfully?” LOL! I juggle them, but sometimes I’m not sure how successfully. I’ve confessed to several people that 2018 was a tough year. Three rough drafts, two book releases, twin grandbabies, and a career change for my hubby—never been closer to a rubber room in my life.

In 2019, we rebuilt our marriage and have vowed to stay off the gerbil wheel. I adore my readers and love sharing God’s Word through my books, but my family is more important. In 2020, we’re adding things back to our schedules carefully, talking through each commitment and making sure it fits the overall plan of our priorities.

Better communication with my husband and others in my household has been crucial. Sabbath rest is a MUST—absolutely no work on Sundays now that we’re no longer in vocational ministry (including no social media or email). I try to be at my computer by 9am, check SM and email only twice a day, and stop working by 6pm. It doesn’t always work, but it’s at least my goal.

When I begin writing the next book project (when we return from Israel), I’ll do some crazy writing weeks, but they’ll be the exception instead of the norm.

What’s one Biblical story you haven’t tackled yet that you’d like to one day write about?

I’ve always said I plan to write only one New Testament story—ever. It will be my last book for two reasons: 

  1. It will be the most emotional journey I’ll ever tackle.
  2. I won’t want to look at any rankings, reviews, or reader feedback on it.

I want to write about Mary, the Mother of Jesus, and her relationship with Him after He begins His ministry. The ups and downs. The fears and (yes) disappointments. The joys and unspeakable sorrow. The awe and absolute worship from one who knew Him like no one else. 

To do it well will take at least a year of research (perhaps more), and I’m not finished with Old Testament characters that fascinate me yet. Mary will come someday. Not yet. And, frankly, no publisher will touch it. I’ll likely publish it myself. Someday. Thanks for asking.

Thanks for stopping by!

Remember to write down your CLUE before clicking to the next stop.


Here’s Stop #16 Stuff!

The clue to write down: me

Welcome to STOP #17

Bookmark STOP #1 so you can check the tour schedule and get back on track if at any point you get lost or find a broken link.

Enjoy the hunt!

Posted in Author Interview, Christian Non-Fiction, I Read With Audra Blog Tour, Inspirational

The Bathsheba Battle (2019) — Author Interview, Part 2

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About the Book

41Jf5PiwQvL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgBookThe Bathsheba Battle

Author: Natalie Chambers Snapp

Publisher: Abingdon Press

Genre: Christian Women’s Issues, Non-fiction

Has your life ever taken an unexpected turn, leaving you feeling hurt and stuck? In The Bathsheba Battle, Natalie Chambers Snapp helps women find healing and hope when things haven’t gone as they had planned. Bathsheba, typically misrepresented as an adulteress, is one of the most misunderstood women in the Bible. Despite an unexpected turn in her life, which resulted in tragic circumstances beyond her control, there are glimmers of hope in her story. By studying her life, readers will find healing from their own painful pasts and hope for living the free and full lives God intends.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Natalie Chambers Snapp is an author, blogger, and speaker known for her refreshing authenticity and practical approach to life and God’s Word. Not choosing to follow Jesus until the age of twenty-seven, she is passionate about sharing the grace, mercy, and truth of God’s love with others “regardless of your track record.” Her transparency and humor endear her to women of all ages.

Snapp is the author of the book Heart Sisters: Be the Friend You Want to HaveBecoming Heart Sisters: A Bible Study on Authentic Friendships and The Bathsheba Battle: Finding Hope When Life Takes an Unexpected Turn. She has written for various blogs and online devotionals, including Proverbs 31.

Snapp lives in West Lafayette, Indiana with her husband and their three children.

Website  ℘   Facebook  ℘   Twitter  ℘   Instagram

Author Interview

Q: Who did you write The Bathsheba Battle for? How did you intend the book to be used?

The Bathsheba Battle is written for anyone who has ever asked the question, “Why me, Lord? Why do I have to suffer through this?” It’s written for anyone whose life has not turned out the way they had planned. And it’s written for those who want to learn how to embrace suffering and humble themselves to the trying, but beautiful, reconstruction of it all. I intended this book to be used as a great encouragement – Bathsheba is an inspiration! Towards the end of David’s life, we see a woman who has grown in confidence, grace, and wisdom. Her deconstruction led to a very inspiring reconstruction but her complete story is often unknown!

Q: You dedicate a chapter to trauma. Why is it so important to understand what trauma is and its effects on us?

Trauma is often misunderstood. More of us experience what would be considered trauma than we actually realize. Trauma is anything that causes us to separate our lives into a “before and after.” For example, my life changed trajectory after my divorce and the death of my father. There was a “before Natalie” and an “after Natalie.” It is extremely important to get professional help after experiencing trauma as it will impact our physical, spiritual, and mental health if we don’t. I am a firm believer in seeking counseling, and in fact, I’m in the process of becoming a licensed counselor myself!

Q: What is unique to shame as an emotion? What does shame do to us, and how can we work to overcome it?

Shame is very, very sneaky! Oftentimes, we confuse guilt with shame, but there are times when guilt can be a positive thing. Guilt tells us we did something wrong and need to make it right while shame tells us we are a terrible person and aren’t worthy of anyone’s love or respect. Shame takes healthy guilt and allows it to penetrate the walls of our souls until they crumble into a heaping mess. Just because I make a mistake doesn’t mean I’m a terrible, awful person. However, shame will try to make us believe that lie.

The first step in overcoming shame is identifying it. The second step is refusing to be a prisoner of shame by having grace with yourself. So often, I find I can easily extend grace to other people, but I have a harder time doing so for myself. This is because we hear the voices of shame telling us we shouldn’t! There is nothing Biblical about living under these chains.

Q: What is righteous anger? Even when it is righteous, why do we need to let go of our anger as quickly as possible?

Righteous anger is anger directed at sin. For example, when Jesus turned the tables in Matthew 21, he was angry at their obvious sin. However, we also see Jesus let that anger go. If we hold on to righteous sin, we will become angry, legalistic, and so black-and-white that we turn others away from our faith.

Q: How do comparison and fear both rob our lives? How can we protect ourselves from letting that happen?

Comparison is rooted in fear. We often find ourselves comparing when we fear we are not enough. Understanding that we all carry a different load and God has entrusted you to be who you are and carry your specific load helps tremendously in the comparison trap.

Q: In what ways are grief and fear similar? What are some situations other than death that we grieve?

I actually am not sure I would say grief and fear are very similar. Grief is a natural and healthy price we pay for being willing to love. Perhaps, if we allow our grief to overtake our lives for too long, then it could be rooted in fear. However, for the most part, grief is a natural response to love. We can grieve the loss of a relationship we wished we had but don’t. We can grieve a life we thought we might live but don’t. And we can grieve the death of our dreams when it becomes apparent they won’t occur. The trick is to work through that grief and seek help so we don’t stay there and allow it to become fear.

Q: Self-care is so important, but why do we feel so guilty for taking care of ourselves?

It really is important, but we absolutely need to change this mindset of guilt! I think women often feel guilty about prioritizing self-care because we are natural caregivers. We often prioritize the needs of others at the expense of our own, or maybe that’s just me? I suspect it’s not, but it’s a hard habit to break.

Thankfully, I’ve seen a shift in the culture of women now cheering each other on to prioritize self-care more, whether it be through time with friends, going on a long walk, getting a massage, or simply just taking a nap. I’m trying to incorporate one act of self-care into each day, and let me tell you, it definitely makes me a better wife, mother, and person in general!

Q: What is the single most important thing you hope readers will learn from their study of The Bathsheba Battle?

I wrote The Bathsheba Battle because so many women approached me after speaking engagements to confide that they relate so much to Bathsheba. Yet, there is little out there on this remarkable woman of Scripture! My prayer is that those who are suffering will find hope in Bathsheba’s inspiring and remarkable story and choose to live as a survivor rather than a victim. I want others to see that they can emerge victoriously and will if they place their hope and trust in God—who is closer to them during our periods of suffering than we can even imagine. Most of all, I simply want others to find hope because hope is always present if we choose to see it.

Posted in Author Interview, Christian Non-Fiction, I Read With Audra Blog Tour, Inspirational

I’m Waiting, God (2019) — Author Interview, Part 2

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About the Book

9781501888625.jpgBookI’m Waiting, God

Author: Barb Roose

Publisher: Abingdon Press

Genre: Women’s Bible Study

Do you ever feel like God is taking too long to answer your prayers? Have you ever taken matters into your own hands, only to discover that you’ve made the situation worse?

Waiting on God challenges our faith when the bills are stacking up, our families are falling apart, or our dreams feel like they won’t come true. We know that God hears our prayers, but it’s hard when the clock is ticking yet He hasn’t shown us the answer.

In this four-week Bible study, Barb Roose invites us to explore the stories of women in the Bible who had to wait on God– women such as Hannah, Ruth, Martha, and the unnamed woman who suffered for over a decade with a painful medical condition. If you’ve felt anxious, angry, discouraged or depressed because God isn’t giving you what you want, their stories will breathe fresh hope and practical next steps in your life. As a reforming control lover, Barb mixes in her personal stories of learning how to wait for God during long seasons of unanswered prayers, family difficulties, and challenging times in ministry. Together we will discover that there is goodness and blessing to be found in times of waiting, including a closer relationship with God than we’ve ever dared to dream.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Barb Roose is a popular speaker and author who is passionate about connecting women to one another and to God helping them apply the truths of God’s Word to the practical realities and challenges they face as women in today’s culture.

Roose enjoys teaching and encouraging women at conferences and events across the country, as well as internationally, including national platforms such as the Aspire Women’s Events, She Speaks Conference, and the UMC Leadership Institute.

She is the author of the I’m Waiting, God: Finding Blessing in God’s Delays, Joshua: Winning the Worry Battle and Beautiful Already: Reclaiming God’s Perspective on Beauty Bible studies and the books Winning the Worry Battle: Life Lessons from the Book of Joshua and Enough Already: Winning Your Ugly Struggle with Beauty. Her writing has been featured in many magazines, and she also writes a regular blog at BarbRoose.com. She is the host of the bi-monthly “Better Together” podcast.

Roose lives in Toledo, Ohio, and is the proud mom of three adult daughters. Her perfect day includes sleeping in, taking a long walk outside, shopping for shoes and eating two big bowls of chocolate peanut ice cream.

Website  ♥   Facebook   ♥   Twitter   ♥   Instagram

Author Interview

Q: Which women from the Bible do you use as examples for women who grappled with unanswered prayers?

  • Hannah wondered if God loved her or had forgotten about her.
  • Ruth’s life took a tragic and unexpected turn.
  • The unnamed bleeding woman suffered for over a decade with an embarrassing medical condition.
  • Martha prayed, but God said “no” to her prayer.

Q: What would you say to encourage someone who feels as if God has forgotten her or doesn’t love her because her prayers have gone unanswered?

First, I would sit down with her and ask to give her a big hug. Living with unanswered prayer is hard—especially when we’re praying for good things like a baby, a spouse, a clean bill of health or for a struggling child to get back on track.

Rather than give advice or tell someone to “buck up,” I believe an overwhelmed, discouraged woman needs what Tim Keller calls “the ministry of presence.” When someone feels the pain of unanswered prayer, she doesn’t need advice, but rather listening, love, and reassurance.

Some of my favorite go-to encouraging statements when hanging out with a friend who is struggling are: “Tell me how you’re really doing,” “I know that you are doing the best that you can!” and “You are loved and you aren’t alone.”

Q: What are some of the reasons the Bible gives for God not answering prayers?

The Bible reveals numerous reasons God delays in answering our prayers. Some of those include:

  1. God might not answer because of our unforgiveness, secret sin, pride, or wrong motives.
  2. God wants to protect us from harm or heartache down the road.
  3. God is allowing more time to pass so that we’ll have the chance to see His power on display in our lives.
  4. God allows a delay to teach us to trust Him in the hard place and develop persistence in prayer.
  5. God may delay the answer to your prayer because He’s working in someone else’s life first.

Q: When an unexpected event throws life off course, what do you pray for when you don’t know what to pray?

A few years ago, my dad got sick. In just a few weeks, he’d lost more than 30 pounds off his athletic frame. A biopsy revealed advanced metastasized lung cancer and doctors told us that Dad only had a few days to live. At the time, I’d been on the road speaking and half-way through writing a new book, but the news that I was about to lose my beloved dad upended my entire life.

In devastating moments, I rely on praying God’s promises. In the hardest moments, I don’t know what to say, but God’s promises give me life and hope—even when I’m numb or not even sure if I can believe them in the moment.

In the study, I’ve included one of my favorite rituals, a tool that I call the “God-Morning/God-Night Technique” that’s gotten me through a lot of hard and heartbreaking days. Basically, I repeat five of God’s promises before I open my eyes and begin the day. By starting with a “God-morning,” with his promises, I can beat back the feelings of fear, uncertainty, and impatience by reminding myself that God is with me and for me no matter what I’ll face that day.

Q: How can we protect ourselves from bitterness during our wait?

In I’m Waiting, God, I explain bitterness like this: “Bitterness is the story that blames God for the pain in our past. Better is the story that believes God will be faithful in the future.”

Bitterness always begins small, but the more we repeat the stories of how God or others hurt or betrayed us, we begin to believe that is the story of our lives—and the story of our future. I watched my grandmother nearly die of bitterness after my grandfather’s affair when I was a little girl. She spent a lot of time in the hospital before finally confronting her bitterness and changing her story.

For me, gratitude is the antibiotic that kills any little bitter roots in my life. Each day of the I’m Waiting, God study features a gratitude exercise. Just taking a moment to reflect on God’s blessing not only kills little roots of disappointment, rejection or regret that could grow into bitterness but also uplifts our hearts and gives us joy, even as we’re waiting for God to answer our prayers.

Q: Is there ever a time to let a prayer go? How do you know when it’s the right time, after weeks, months, or maybe even years?

This is a hard question because there’s no easy answer to this question. On one hand, we’re instructed to pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17), but we also know that there is a starting and ending to all things (Ecclesiastes 3). The point of prayer is to authentically connect ourselves to God so that His Spirit can lead and guide us. However, as circumstances change, there are times when it is no longer safe, wise or life-giving for us to pursue certain situations.

For many years, I prayed for God to save my marriage. I’d made a commitment before God over 25 years before, and I believed God could do the impossible. I fasted and prayed for years for God to restore a relationship that addiction had destroyed. Even after I had to move out of my home because of the issues, I still kept believing and praying for restoration and healing.

It’s hard to pray for years when nothing seems to be happening. I received some great encouragement from a wise friend: “You pray until you sense God releasing you from that prayer.”

I continued to pray until I realized that it was no longer safe or wise for me to go back into that situation. I didn’t give up on God, nor did I stop believing in his almighty power. But I did realize that it was time to shift from praying for what I wanted to praying for God to help me let go and trust His plan for my future, even though it wasn’t what I wanted.

To help me let go of the pain, disappointment, and anger, I use a tool that I call my annual “funeral.” This is fully explained in the final week of the study, but it’s a tool to help me let go of my anger, disappointments, and fears. This funeral process helps me surrender my unanswered prayers to God so that my heart and hands are open for Him to bring new direction, opportunities, and blessings into my life.

Q: How is I’m Waiting, God: Finding Blessing in God’s Delays, your new Bible study, set up to be used? What other resources are available?

As a Bible study teacher who loves creating experiences for women in every season of life, I’m excited that I’m Waiting, God is designed with a flexible format to fit everyone’s schedule. This is a four-week study, and each week offers three days of Bible study homework, plus two optional days for more personal reflection to be enjoyed as time or energy permits.

I believe that application is a key component of effective Bible study, so I’ve created weekly personal reflection exercises and practical tools. Additionally, each day’s study includes a daily gratitude exercise and lots of life-transforming scripture to set readers up to experience a-ha moments so they can see and experience God’s blessing, even as they’re waiting on God to answer their prayer.

For those who like video, there is a separate teaching DVD for each of the four weeks. Best of all, anyone can lead a group study because the facilitator’s guide is been included in the study workbook.

One more bonus! If readers would like additional encouragement, they can sign up for “The Patience Path,” a 30-day email devotional that I’ve created to go along with the study. To sign up, go to barbroose.com/patiencepath.

Posted in Author Interview, Christian Non-Fiction, I Read With Audra Blog Tour, Inspirational

The Bathsheba Battle (2019) — Author Interview

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About the Book

41Jf5PiwQvL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgBook: The Bathsheba Battle

Author: Natalie Chambers Snapp

Publisher: Abingdon Press

Genre: Christian Women’s Issues, Non-fiction

Has your life ever taken an unexpected turn, leaving you feeling hurt and stuck? In The Bathsheba Battle, Natalie Chambers Snapp helps women find healing and hope when things haven’t gone as they had planned. Bathsheba, typically misrepresented as an adulteress, is one of the most misunderstood women in the Bible. Despite an unexpected turn in her life, which resulted in tragic circumstances beyond her control, there are glimmers of hope in her story. By studying her life, readers will find healing from their own painful pasts and hope for living the free and full lives God intends.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Natalie Chambers Snapp is an author, blogger, and speaker known for her refreshing authenticity and practical approach to life and God’s Word. Not choosing to follow Jesus until the age of twenty-seven, she is passionate about sharing the grace, mercy, and truth of God’s love with others “regardless of your track record.” Her transparency and humor endear her to women of all ages.

Snapp is the author of the book Heart Sisters: Be the Friend You Want to HaveBecoming Heart Sisters: A Bible Study on Authentic Friendships and The Bathsheba Battle: Finding Hope When Life Takes an Unexpected Turn. She has written for various blogs and online devotionals, including Proverbs 31.

Snapp lives in West Lafayette, Indiana with her husband and their three children.

Website  ℘   Facebook  ℘   Twitter  ℘   Instagram

Author Interview

Q: You describe Bathsheba as one of the most misunderstood women in the Bible. How is she typically misrepresented?

Bathsheba is often portrayed as the adulteress—as though she was a vixen with the intent to tempt David and hopefully, take her on as his wife. However, the fact remains that she was a victim of David’s own desires and paid a very dear price for his sin. Sadly, victims can sometimes be blamed and in the case of Bathsheba, that’s exactly what happened.

Q: What were some of the tragic circumstances that Bathsheba found herself in that were out of her control? How can we relate to her story today?

First of all, some commentaries claim Bathsheba was trying to entice David by bathing in the courtyard of her home. However, during the time in which Bathsheba lived, indoor plumbing didn’t exist! Therefore, most families had a basin in the courtyard for bathing purposes. When David saw her bathing, she was obeying the cleansing ritual required of women after monthly menstruation. She was not trying to entice David—she was simply following the rules of her culture! How would she even know David was going to be walking on his rooftop at the precise moment she was bathing?

When David saw Bathsheba, he was immediately impressed with her beauty and summoned her to his palace. During those days, when the king summoned you to the palace, you did not have a choice, you went. So off Bathsheba goes to meet David and once there, they have sex. We have no way of definitively knowing if David assaulted her, but she did go to his palace against her will. For that reason, we can speculate that was a likely possibility. Bathsheba became pregnant which is when things start to go off the rails!

David tries to hide his sin by summoning Bathsheba’s husband, Uriah, one of his most valuable warriors, home from the war (which is where David was supposed to be as well). Once Uriah reaches the palace, David proceeds to feed him a large meal and encourages him to drink a lot of wine so he will go home and have sex with Bathsheba. Problem solved! He can then pass his child off as Uriah’s, and no one needs to know about his sin. However, David failed to consider the fact that Uriah was a man of honor and refused to visit his wife when his men were still waging a war. Instead, he slept on the front porch of the palace with the servants. David tried a second night to get Uriah to visit his wife, but Uriah refused.

At this point in the story, we can see how sin will take you further than you ever wanted to go. Instead of confessing and coming clean to everyone, David orders Uriah to the frontlines of the battle, and of course, he is killed. Now, Bathsheba was possibly raped by the king, pregnant, and her husband is dead. All these things were out of her control.

After Uriah’s death, David takes Bathsheba as his wife. However, the restitution of David’s sin is the life of the child Bathsheba was carrying. Soon after the birth of David and Bathsheba’s son, the infant died. We see Bathsheba as a grieving mother, another event out of her control.

I think so many people can relate to Bathsheba’s story because 1) suffering happens to all of us and 2) sometimes, our suffering is the result of someone else’s actions and choices. In no way should we remain victims, but I think Bathsheba’s story is God’s way of telling us that He sees us, understands our pain, and is the Ultimate Justifier.

Q:  Can you share about a hardship or disappointment in your own life that provided the inspiration to write The Bathsheba Battle?

Absolutely! When I was in my late twenties, I was married to a man with a drug problem, but I did not know it. As many who have loved addicts understand, there are often behaviors corresponding with addiction that are not healthy for a young marriage and therefore, we divorced. Two months after I filed for divorce, my father, who was in and out of my life due to his own addiction issues, passed away unexpectedly.

Life had definitely taken a very unexpected turn and was not at all going the way I had planned. It was a dark season, and yet also the very season in which I became a follower of Jesus. My deconstruction led to my reconstruction. I have been remarried for fifteen years and have three beautiful children; however, periods of suffering have also been peppered throughout those years as well. Suffering is often cyclical and that has been true of my life!

Q: Explain how transformation happens during renovation. Where does renovation take place?

It sounds so trite, and I’m not going to lie, there were times during my own periods of suffering when I just wanted to scream when people said this to me. But the fact remains when we are deconstructed by trauma and circumstances in or beyond our control, if we humble ourselves to the process, we will indeed emerge with greater wisdom and grace. Suffering is the great equalizer—it does not discriminate between gender, race, beliefs, or socioeconomic status. No one is immune. However, if we humble ourselves to the process, we will emerge with new eyes of strength and dignity.

Q: Do we always have the ability to choose how we respond to our situation? Why is this such a significant choice, especially when we must endure a consequence of someone else’s sin?

Yes, I believe we do. We can’t always control what happens to us, but we can always control how we will respond. Living life as a victim will ultimately make you feel powerless, depressed, and distrustful of people. It will lead to a life of bitterness, resentment, and anger. On the other hand, when we respond to our trauma with a humble heart and a willingness to be molded by our suffering, we feel empowered, strong, and able to help others when their time of suffering emerges. When we choose to live as victims, we give others power over our lives. When we choose to live as survivors, we understand that we possess the power ourselves.

Q: How does your study on Bathsheba shift from part one of the book to part two?

In Part One, we discuss the byproducts of our suffering: fear, shame, anger, and comparison. In Part Two, we look at how to overcome these negative emotions and live empowered and with hope.

Q: What does Bathsheba’s story teach us about forgiveness?

We don’t really know about Bathsheba’s forgiveness process because it’s not discussed in the Bible. However, we do see her stand before David in 1 Kings 1 with an empowered and confident voice that exhibits love and respect towards her husband. Perhaps somewhere during the course of their marriage, Bathsheba made peace with her circumstances—she chose her response and not to live as a victim.

Not living as a victim involves forgiveness and yet, this does not mean she might not have felt like a victim for a while. It doesn’t mean that she didn’t feel shameful. And it doesn’t mean that she didn’t grieve the loss of the life she thought she might have. It does, however, indicate that she chose to keep moving forward without allowing her grief and shame to negatively impact who she ultimately became. A woman who is victorious over suffering is the most beautiful and inspiring to us all.

Posted in Author Interview, Christian Non-Fiction, I Read With Audra Blog Tour, Inspirational

I’m Waiting, God (2019) — Author Interview

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About the Book

9781501888625.jpgBookI’m Waiting, God

Author: Barb Roose

Publisher: Abingdon Press

Genre: Women’s Bible Study

Do you ever feel like God is taking too long to answer your prayers? Have you ever taken matters into your own hands, only to discover that you’ve made the situation worse?

Waiting on God challenges our faith when the bills are stacking up, our families are falling apart, or our dreams feel like they won’t come true. We know that God hears our prayers, but it’s hard when the clock is ticking yet He hasn’t shown us the answer.

In this four-week Bible study, Barb Roose invites us to explore the stories of women in the Bible who had to wait on God– women such as Hannah, Ruth, Martha, and the unnamed woman who suffered for over a decade with a painful medical condition. If you’ve felt anxious, angry, discouraged or depressed because God isn’t giving you what you want, their stories will breathe fresh hope and practical next steps in your life. As a reforming control lover, Barb mixes in her personal stories of learning how to wait for God during long seasons of unanswered prayers, family difficulties, and challenging times in ministry. Together we will discover that there is goodness and blessing to be found in times of waiting, including a closer relationship with God than we’ve ever dared to dream.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

About the Author

Barb Roose is a popular speaker and author who is passionate about connecting women to one another and to God helping them apply the truths of God’s Word to the practical realities and challenges they face as women in today’s culture.

Roose enjoys teaching and encouraging women at conferences and events across the country, as well as internationally, including national platforms such as the Aspire Women’s Events, She Speaks Conference, and the UMC Leadership Institute.

She is the author of the I’m Waiting, God: Finding Blessing in God’s Delays, Joshua: Winning the Worry Battle and Beautiful Already: Reclaiming God’s Perspective on Beauty Bible studies and the books Winning the Worry Battle: Life Lessons from the Book of Joshua and Enough Already: Winning Your Ugly Struggle with Beauty. Her writing has been featured in many magazines, and she also writes a regular blog at BarbRoose.com. She is the host of the bi-monthly “Better Together” podcast.

Roose lives in Toledo, Ohio, and is the proud mom of three adult daughters. Her perfect day includes sleeping in, taking a long walk outside, shopping for shoes and eating two big bowls of chocolate peanut ice cream.

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Author Interview

Q: What is it about waiting that often reverts us back to toddler-like tantrums?

All my kids went through that crazy toddler phase when they would fall on the floor screaming when I didn’t let them have something they wanted. What always amazed me was that those little girls were so focused on the one thing they couldn’t have that they forgot everything they already had to enjoy.

Over the years, I’ve kicked up my own fuss when God hasn’t given me what I’ve wanted. There were times when I crossed my arms and pouted about not getting that bigger house, the job that would solve some financial issues, or why God hadn’t fixed the addiction issue that was breaking our hearts. I might not have thrown myself on the floor, but there were times when I didn’t want to pray or I’d withhold my worship because I felt like God was being unfair.

However, during some of my long seasons of unanswered prayers, I’ve learned how to halt my tantrum long enough to look around and see what God has already blessed me with. As I’ve learned to embrace a life of gratitude, God’s gifted me with a multitude of better blessings that have far exceeded anything that I could have ever asked for.

Q: An author writes about what she knows or needs to hear. Can you share an example of when you were waiting out God’s timing for what felt like forever?

For several years, I prayed for a full-time job to open up at the church where I worked part-time. I looked forward to paying the monthly bills without worrying if there’d be enough money to pay them.

Finally, I was offered a full-time job. However, the Great Recession devastated our automotive industry community. The loss of jobs led to reduced weekly giving at our church. In addition to some staff layoffs, my full-time position was postponed indefinitely. Disappointed, I was really angry with God. I was so tired of figuring out how to make ends meet month after month. After my big feelings calmed down, I kept trusting God to make ends meet and stayed faithful on my job.

Almost a year later, a different full-time job opened up for me – a promotion and a substantial pay raise. It was a better job than the one I’d gotten angry about losing the year before! While there were many years of sacrificing for what God was calling us to do, he took care of my family during those difficult days until times got better.

Q: We often blame our impatience on the fact we live in a world of technology where everything is at our fingertips, but as humans, haven’t we always had that problem?

We live in an “Insta-Everything” world that makes it possible for us to get what we want by the press of a button. Hungry? Order delivery from Postmates. Run out of toilet paper? Amazon can be a hero and deliver the next day.

Even though technology highlights how much we love speed, human nature has always been to get what we want, no matter the cost. The tension is that when we try to fix or force solutions, not only do we miss out on God’s best, but we often wreck our human relationships.

In Genesis, Abraham and Sarah live with an unanswered prayer for a child. Even though she knows what God has promised, Sarah tires of waiting and cooks up a scheme. Impatience does result in a baby—and broken relationships and a lot of bitter feelings, too.

I’ve been like Sarah and gotten impatient with God. However, I bear the Jesus-healed scars of my foolishness. I’ve learned this: When I try to push my way out of a waiting room, I will cause pain and problems in other people’s lives.

Q: What spiritual issues are usually being tested in us while we are in sitting in the waiting room of life?

Waiting room seasons of life challenge what we believe about God and how much fear and control are operating in our lives. Those long, frustrating days may prompt questions such as “Does God still love me?”, “Did I do something wrong?”, “Why is God answering their prayers, but not mine?” or “How long do I have to live like this, God?”

For more than a decade, our family felt the effects of a growing addiction issue. At first, I prayed, but my prayers were all about asking God to deal with the addiction because I wanted my happy, mostly pain-free and problem-free life back.

As the years went on, the effects of addiction began suffocating our daily lives. I stopped caring about getting my happy life back, I needed God’s power, presence and His peace to just help me get through the day, sometimes, even just the hour in front of me. Those last few years allowed me to discover there was nothing I needed more than God, even as I watched the once-lovely life I had fall apart and disappear. Yet, in God I found all that I needed.

Q: You write, “This journey looks more like a winding path instead of a formulaic three-step plan. Here’s the unique twist: your path to patience is paved right over the road of your unanswered prayers.” Can you talk about why there isn’t a formula?

There’s no formula for learning how to be patient, mainly because the human heart doesn’t respond to formulas. While there are formulas or strategies to bake cakes, build cars and even space travel, there is no formula that governs how a heart starts to love, begins to hate, moves toward God, or learns patience.

God knows our hearts need to experience certain situations, challenges and even heartache for us to learn how to trust his timeline for our lives. This means God is patient with us because part of our journey is learning we can’t fix people or force solutions in order to get what we want.

Unlike a plan, a winding path of learning to live on God’s timeline is more than just finding the fastest route from point A to point B. The winding path toward patience is a journey full of life-changing experiences, connections, and relationships that we encounter along the way that God uses to help our hearts look more like His.

Q: Sometimes God’s plans for us are so much better than anything we could have ever expected. What are some important things to remember moving forward after a blessing in disguise or a prayer answered in an unexpected way?

It’s really easy to forget God when life is good! This is why gratitude is so important because the more we give thanks to God, the more we continue to share his glory through our story. Often, after we finally get that thing that we’ve been praying for forever, we forget all of the lessons God taught us while we were waiting. Gratitude keeps us connected to those lessons and allows God’s better blessings to keep flowing through our lives.

Q: What final piece of encouragement would you give to those who may be in an intense period of waiting right now?

This is the encouragement that I share whenever I speak before an audience: Today, you are doing the best that you can! Keep holding on! God has more for you because God has put more in you!

Posted in Author Interview, Updates

An Interview with Sarah Monzon (2019)

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Releasing today from Radiant Publications is the much-anticipated Novelly Upon a Time by Sarah Monzon. This novella is the third in her novella collection, Book Nerds and Boyfriends. Novelly Upon a Time comes in all forms including eBook, and is roughly 100 pages in length. With a full-time job and a precocious six-year old daughter, this story took me one sitting to read. Click HERE to read my full review of this SUPER FUN story!


About the Book

Author Harper Jones prides herself on the impeccable research she does for her novels, so when early reviews come pouring in claimer her romance reeks of inauthenticity, her editor suggests getting her nose out of books and get some real-life smooching experience. But her plans to do just that are thwarted by her archnemesis from high school who has recently returned to town. Now she’s left with an impossible decision—kiss her worst enemy or kiss her three-book contract goodbye.

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About the Author

Sarah Monzon

Sarah Monzon is a Navy chaplain’s wife and a stay at home mom to the two cutest littles in the world. Playing pretend all day with them isn’t enough, she spends the evenings after their heads hit the pillow to create her own imaginary characters. When she isn’t in the world of make believe, she can be found in the pine forests of western Washington taking care of her family, fostering friendships, and enjoying all the adventures each day brings.

Her debut novel, The Isaac Project, skyrocketed to Amazon bestseller status while her Sophomore book, Finders Keepers, won the 2017 SELAH award for contemporary romance.


An Interview with Sarah Monzon

I have the great privilege to be a part of Sarah’s Book Squad team, and asked if she would kindly respond to a few interview questions for me. She said, “YES!” What follows are Ms. Monzon’s candid responses. I hope you enjoy!

When did you know that writing was your gift?

Haha I’m still waiting to know this. Seriously though, self-doubt is a real thing and one I think most authors struggle with. I know I feel called to it, but not sure I could ever say I was “good enough” to say I’m gifted in it.

What inspired you to write Novelly Upon a Time?

The cover actually. I came across the cute vectors for the series and knew they’d make adorable covers that I just had to write stories for them.

So, Kate and Harper have adventures in research for their current WIPs. What is one crazy/silly thing you’ve done in the name of research?

Oh, man. I wish I had a funny anecdote to share for this question. So far my research has been fairly boring. Books, documentaries, and dozens upon dozens on tabs constantly open on my computer.

We women wear a lot of hats. How do you successfully juggle all of your hats?

Like a circus act. Haha. My daughter is in preschool so I write during that time  and try to do any and all author related activities. Then the rest of the day is dedicated to my family and everything else.

What’s in store in the future for all your fans?

I’m starting on the final book in the Carrington Family series once the kids go back to school from break. Right now my mind is heavy in the brainstorming and research process. It should be out and in readers hands in the fall of 2019.

Thanks so much for all your candid answers, Sarah! I know I look forward to all your future novels and novellas. 😉 ❤️

Posted in Author Interview, Christian Romance, Historical Christian Fiction

Miss Serena’s Secret (2018): My Thoughts + Author Interview

37915033Miss Serena’s Secret (2018) by Carolyn Miller is the second novel in her Regency Brides: A Promise of Hope series. This book comes in all forms including eBook, and is 344 pages in length. With a full-time job and a very busy six-year old at home, this novel took me two days to read. I received a copy of this book in paperback form from the author via her publisher, Kregel Publications. In no way has this influenced my opinion of the story. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. I give Miss Serena’s Secret 5+++++ STARS. This novel is a Regency-era Christian Romance set in England.

About the Book

With devastating scars in her past, Serena Winthrop is sure no man can be trusted—especially not men like the far-too-smooth Viscount Charmichael. His reputation as a charmer and a gambler is everything she despises. And the young artist makes sure that this disreputable heir to an Earldom knows of her deep disapproval whenever they encounter one another.

Henry, Lord Carmichael, is perfectly aware of his charms to the women of the ton. He’s gambled with plenty of their hearts as easily as he does their husband’s money—it’s all in good fun to him. But lately he’s been wondering if there’s more to life—and confronting the idea that his actions might not prove worthy of the admirable wives his friends have found.

When Serena’s brother-in-law asks his best friend to protect his young ward, Henry promises to be on his best behavior and not woo her. But the more he learns of her, the more he realizes she might be his best reason for changing his character. Then the lady’s art leads her to London infamy. Now Henry must choose between the life mapped out for him as the Earl apparent, and the love of his life. And Serena’s secret may mean the end of his titled family line.

The second in a new series by internationally popular author Carolyn Miller is full of the same rich historical detail and evocative writing that readers enjoyed, and familiar characters make appearances here. The witty banter will continue to draw in fans of Jane Austen, Sarah Ladd, and Julie Klassen.

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My Thoughts

Carolyn Miller is a gem. Her novels are wonderfully crafted and well-written, thoroughly researched, and populated with endearing characters that pull the heart strings. Miss Serena’s Secret is SO good — absolutely my new favorite of Carolyn’s novels. Miss Serena’s Secret is highly engaging, replete with timely messages and excellent reminders of God’s promises, and very romantic. This is a book that has made my re-read pile for sure.

CollageMaker_20180804_125532364.jpgMy favorite aspect to this novel is the hero, Harry. I love so many things about him. He is handsome and suave and swoon-worthy, but he is also kind, compassionate, and has a heart to help others. But Harry has a reputation for being a gambler extraordinaire and a massive flirt. He doesn’t want to be that man anymore. So, he works to be a better man. He goes to church and actually listens to the sermons. He reads his Bible. He begins to pray. With the help of God, Harry starts to become the man he wants to be. He does experience a moment of extreme weakness and his pride pulls him back into old habits, which means his former guilt and shame return. This moment is SO realistic! How many times have I sworn to be better at something only to fail soon thereafter? How many times have I allowed guilt and shame to daily remind me I am a failure? Too many times to count! But, when I take my head out of the sand, go back to God and ask for forgiveness, I am suddenly put back on the right path. And this is one of my most favorite things about Harry. As he learns to better walk with God, when those moments of struggle pop up, he goes straight to praying to God. What an excellent reminder to us all!

Serena is such an endearing heroine! I absolutely love her strength, fortitude, talent, and heart. One thing that really got my tiger mommy in a blaze occurs when Serena is judged as not being able to do something well simply because she is young. I hate when adults look down on teens and young adults and deem them incapable simply because of their age. I am a high school teacher. I work with teens and young adults every day. Trust me when I say young people can be extremely talented, skilled, and capable. As I was reading this moment in Miss Serena’s Secret, God put 1 Timothy 4:12 on my heart: “Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” What I really love so much about Serena is that she is an embodiment of this verse. This is definitely a novel I will share with my daughter when she is a teenager because Serena is an example of this quality Christian young person that Paul discusses in 1 Timothy.

My most favorite message in this book is that past mistakes do not need to define a person. This is such a difficult message to grasp because it can take time to overcome the pesky feelings of guilt and shame associated with past errors. But, as Isaiah 43:25 explains, God wipes out transgressions and does not remember our sins. It’s a truly beautiful promise from God, and an excellent point Carolyn makes so clear in this novel. God doesn’t let our past define us, so why do we?

CollageMaker_20180804_222213753.jpgThis review does not do this book justice. There are so many more reasons why this book is SO good, but I will leave all those reasons for you to discover on your own. Suffice to say, Miss Serena’s Secret is a great story. The characters are excellent, the themes are timely, and the action is engaging. The romance that builds between Harry and Serena is both realistic and quite satisfying. My inner 15-year old girl heart is very happy with this story! I truly cannot recommend Miss Serena’s Secret enough. I implore you to purchase a copy of this novel today. You will not be disappointed!


An Interview with Carolyn Miller

I asked Mrs. Miller to answer a few questions I had about her path to publication, Miss Serena’s Secret, and her secret to juggling all the hats she wears. She graciously responded to all of my questions. I hope you enjoy! And, thanks so much Carolyn for taking time from your busy schedule to assuage my curiosity.

I love all of your novels, Carolyn. What inspired you to become a writer? And, can you briefly share your road to publication? How did you get hooked up with Kregel Publications?

I’ve always loved words and enjoyed reading, but the particular point of inspiration to write was in 2010 when I was watching the closing ceremony of the winter Olympics in Vancouver, and saw an Australian girl walk into the stadium holding hands with a US athlete, and I wondered ‘what is their story?’

Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t find out – so I made it up! So 100,000+ words later, I had a story, which I then wondered what to do with. I started entering online writing contests to get feedback – it can be easier when everything is anonymous! – and eventually started to final. I was by now addicted to the rush of words, the ability to create worlds and people and see situations end as I thought they ought, so I was writing other stories as well, all contemporary, mostly using Australian characters and settings. One day I thought I’d have a go at writing a historical romance blending some of my favorite authors (Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer) with my own Aussie sensibility – and so The Elusive Miss Ellison was born.

After a few years of the writing contest circuit, one of my contemporary stories won the ACFW First Impressions contest, for which agent Tamela Hancock Murray was a judge. She offered to represent me, then later discovered I’d written (by now) a few historical romance novels, which we thought might go better in the US market than my Australian based stories. After a year of shopping Miss Ellison to various publishers, Kregel Publications said yes – this was something they’d been looking to do, so they took a chance on a newbie Aussie author and offered me a contract, which then turned into a series, when I said I had a few more books up my sleeve. I thank God for His awesome timing, because the years of waiting meant I had more time to write and have a number of books I could offer when the time came.


What a fabulous story about your journey to Miss Ellison. So glad you decided to really follow this path. Miss Ellison is one of my favorites of your books. It’s such a great story, and your are such a wonderful storyteller! And, I love how God brought you to Kregel. So cool!


I love, love, love Harry. What/who was your inspiration behind his character?

I love Harry, too! I needed a character who was something of a charmer, as a number of my heroes had been more serious – it was time to have some fun! So Harry is witty, he’s debonair, he’s something of a flirt, yet he’s got a serious thread underneath all that charm. I thought it would be interesting to explore how someone of this manner can be easily misjudged, and maybe look at some of the reasons why they might cultivate such a persona. Harry is not based on any one person per se, but I think his character and good spirits are true of some of the literary characters of Georgette Heyer that can be found in such novels as The Nonesuch or The Unknown Ajax.


I’ve heard you say a few times that Miss Serena’s Secret is your favorite so far of the books you’ve written. Why is this one your favorite?

I think it’s due to Harry! I love his playfulness, which balances Serena’s more serious side. I also love the focus on art, and researching this, and what it would mean to be a female artist in Regency times, was really fascinating.


How do you juggle all the hats you wear?

Not very well sometimes! My husband works away for much of the year, and with 4 kids aged from 9-16 it can be a challenge. I try to focus on work when they’re at school, and treat my hours between 9am and 3pm as times to write, research, edit, and do the marketing side of things as much as possible. With three books releasing each year I’ve had to learn to schedule well in order to meet my deadlines, so I’m conscious that certain weeks will need to focus more on writing, editing, or polishing before submission, which means juggling other things to keep my head in the right space in order to get things done.

When my kids are home I try to focus on them (which can be hard when a story is still singing in my head!), but it’s easier as they’re older now and more self-reliant. When my husband is home we try to schedule regular dates, so we’re not looking at all the things that need to be done around the house. I figure relationships need to take priority over housework, so we aim for tidy and ‘lived in’ not super-ultra clean. (A bit of dirt is better for our immune systems, too!) My parents and in-laws have also been wonderful in looking after our kidlets when needed to allow ‘quality reconnecting time’ – thank God for the blessing of family!


Whoa! You are one BUSY woman. What an inspiration. And, three books a year. I’m guessing you don’t sleep much, Carolyn. LOL!


Where is one place you want to visit just because? Where is one place you want to visit for novel research?

I’d love to go to France and Italy and see Paris, Monet’s garden, Rome, Venice and various art museums and cathedrals along the way. Maybe for our 25th wedding anniversary… (hint, hint, hubby!)

I’d love to return to England and Scotland and spend more time there. I did a whistle-stop race around England, Ireland and Scotland in 2015, and have written about nearly every place I visited, but it wasn’t long enough (is it ever?). So it would be wonderful to spend more time in places like Bath and various villages in the Cotswolds, or to see Cornwall and Yorkshire and the Lake District for the first time, or to spend more time in London, or Edinburgh or the Scottish Highlands… So many places to see that I could use in a story!


What’s in store in the future for us fans?

There is a teaser at the end of Miss Serena’s Secret for the next novel in the series, The Making of Mrs. Hale which releases November 27. Then in 2019 there will be another three-book series, Regency Brides: The Daughters of Aynsley which will focus on the romances of three sisters, daughters of Lord Aynsley, a viscount from Somerset. Beyond that, I hope to continue to create more Regency romances – and maybe one day see some of my Australian-based contemporary stories published!


Oh my, the teaser at the end of Miss Serena’s Secret is AMAZING. I am so glad you included chapter one from Mrs. Hale so I could have a little insight into what is coming next. You did a great job teasing the reader there! And, I love that you are doing a series on the Aynsley daughters. That will be great, I am sure.

Thank you so much, Carolyn, for taking the time to answer my questions. It’s been great to get to know you a little better. Thank you so much, my friend!

Posted in Author Interview, Christian Romance, Contemporary Christian Fiction

Finding Evergreen (2018) + Author Interview

coverFinding Evergreen (2018) by Jennifer Rodewald is the third and final book in her Grace Revealed series. While it is the third book, Finding Evergreen does act like a stand-alone novel. As I have yet to read books 1 and 2, I never once felt lost or confused by the plot line in book 3. This book is set to release on Thursday, March 22, 2018 by Rooted Publishing. This book will come in eBook form, and is 414 pages in length. With a full-time job and an adventurous five-year old at home, this story took me TWO days to devour. I received a review copy in eBook form from the author. In no way has this influenced my opinion. All opinions expressed in this review are my own. I give this story 5+++ STARS. Finding Evergreen is a Contemporary Christian Romance.

About the Book

He thought he’d found the thrill of his life; she, the romance she’d hadn’t dared to hope for. Falling in love had been easy. Being married? Totally different story. 

Married within a year of meeting, Ethan and Brandi add a foster daughter to their newly established family. Their story is enchanting—inspiring. Except when the fairy tale fails. The stresses of unmet expectations and wounds from their pasts knife into their marriage, severing what they believed would be forever. 

Hope for a broken marriage. Healing for their wounded spirits. It would take both to find evergreen. Are they brave enough to try?

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Everhreen

My Thoughts

Finding Evergreen is an excellent story. In her Author’s Note, Jennifer Rodewald explains that she is drawn by the messy story. Let me tell you what, this may be one of the messiest stories I’ve ever read. My heart was ripped out of my chest, stomped on repeatedly, then crammed back into my chest in bloody pieces. I sobbed my heart out on more than one occasion. By the end of the book, I was ugly crying. It. Was. Awesome!

Finding Evergreen is a redemption story unlike any I’ve read before. It’s gritty. It’s real. It’s honest. It made me go to my knees a few times asking God to forgive me for my Pharisaical heart. You see, I was born a pharisee. True story! I love rules. I think everything should be boiled down to a black and white answer. Obviously, life has been difficult for me. LOL! The main character, Brandi, is a Pharisee, too. As I was reading this story, I kept wanting to enter the story line and shake her. I wanted so desperately to yell at her from outside of the page, “Brandi, I get it. You LOVE control. Following rules leads to control. But, man, you are so HARD! Calm down. Take a step back. BREATHE!” Even if I were a character in this story though I couldn’t tell this to Brandi. She, just like real Pharisees, has to learn it on her own. What we Pharisees have to learn is that we have got to ask God to be our guide. Our own understanding will never be enough to get us through anything. We will always end up fighting. Fighting the world, fighting our loved ones, fighting God.

What I appreciate SO much about this book is its honesty. Marriage is the HARDEST thing I have ever done. I dare say, it’s harder than being a mommy. The love is different. With my daughter, Bella, the love NEVER changes. I can be mad, sad, disappointed, happy, and/or content with my daughter and the love never differs. It’s always there. But, with a husband, it’s different. And, I think it’s because of over-the-top expectations. I have almost no expectations for my daughter. That sounds bad, and I don’t mean that like it sounds. Of course, I expect her to be a good girl, listen to mommy and daddy, do well at school, behave during church, etc. But, everyday with Bella is a blank slate. In the morning I say to myself, “I love her, we’ll see what this new day brings!” With my husband, though, I had major expectations and they have all mostly been dashed. I dreamed BIG about my future husband. We’re talking “Disney Princess” BIG. My husband was going to be my rock, my person whom I could lean on no matter what, he was going to be the answer to all my problems in life. Who can actually be that for another person? I expected my husband to be the superman I had dreamed up, not the man he actually was/is. Add to this that I was a Pharisee and you have the makings of a bad marriage. Watching Brandi and Ethan go through the gut-wrenching, heart-rending pain of the first year of marriage killed my heart. “I know where you’re at,” I wanted to scream. “Just hold tight, guys! It will get better if you can see the changes you need to make in yourself first.” I talked a lot to the characters in this book. In this way, Finding Evergreen is incredibly interactive!

It should be noted that it’s a good thing love in a marriage changes. As I grow older, and my husband does, too — although you wouldn’t know it to look at him and his gorgeous skin — we are both changing together. Our love is stronger and our friendship is deeper. Once my eyes were open to my Pharisaical tendencies, I begged forgiveness from God and my husband. And, because God is so good and gracious and my husband is an amazing guy, I have been forgiven of my Pharisaical ways (many times). I now know what to work on to be a better partner. It has not been easy, and many times I fall back into old patterns. Knowing my shortcomings is a good thing though; I never lack for something to talk about with God. And, it helps me understand Jesus better when He discusses removing the plank from my eye. This lets me be the wife God wants me to be. It lets my love for my husband change and grow as it should, not as I think it should, which leads to a better, healthier relationship. Being reminded of this through Brandi and Ethan’s story made this story a 5+++ STAR book for me.

Finding Evergreen is an exceptional story. I highly, highly recommend it. I think everyone should buy this book on March 22 when it releases and really deal with the heart-wrenching issues brought up in the story line. The characters in this book are superbly written, and they hold up a much-needed mirror to the reader. The story begs the reader to search in his/her own heart, and I absolutely love that about this book. This reading experience brought me closer to God and to my husband, and for that I am truly grateful. Please, I implore you to read this book. You will not be disappointed that you did!


About the Author

Jennifer Rodewald is passionate about the Word of God and the powerful vehicle of story. Four kids and her own personal superman make her home in southwestern Nebraska delightfully chaotic.

Born in Colorado, she experienced both the seclusion of rugged mountain living and the busy streets of a Denver suburb during her growing up years. Somewhere in the middle of college, she married a Husker and found her way back to the quiet lifestyle of a rural area, which suits just fine.

Blessed with a robust curiosity, Jen loves to research. Whether she’s investigating the history of a given area, the biography of a Christian icon, or how nature declares the glory of God, her daily goal is to learn something new. Aiming to live with boundless enthusiasm, her creed is vision, pursuit, and excellence.

Jen lives and writes in a lovely speck of a town where she watches with amazement while her children grow up way too fast, gardens, and marvels at God’s mighty hand in everyday life.

An Interview with Jennifer Rodewald

I have the great privilege of being part of Jennifer’s review team for Finding Evergreen, and asked if she would kindly respond to a few interview questions for me. She said, “YES!” What follows are Jennifer’s candid responses. I hope you enjoy! And, thank you, Jennifer, for accommodating me and my questions!


What inspired you to write Finding Evergreen and the Grace Revealed series?

The Grace Revealed series grew from a stand-alone book. Blue Columbine is book one of the three, and was not originally intended to be part of a series. But as I was going through the final read-through before it released in 2015, a minor character caught my attention, and I wondered what her story was. She was icy and bitter and complicated (her name is Cheryl Thompson), and I mentally picked her out and set her to the side to consider. It took some time to come back to her because I was in the midst of getting two other books squared away for release in 2015 and 2016, but when I came back to her, I found Cheryl had a very complicated, messy, beautiful story, and from that came Red Rose Bouquet—book two of the Grace Revealed set. In Red Rose Bouquet, we’re introduced to a new cast of characters who, as I was writing Cheryl’s story, I knew that I’d be zooming in on in another book. Ethan, Brandi, and So-J all find themselves center-stage in Finding Evergreen, which is the third and final book in the set. All three stories dig deep into what grace is—and Who gives it. The stories are messy—sometimes ugly. The characters are complicated, and sometimes so difficult that we want to walk away, wash our hands of them. But throughout the series, even in the darkest parts of these character’s journeys, there is a deep-rooted grip on The One who redeems. A hope that the hand of grace can reach even there. An alcoholic, a woman with a dark past, and a modern Pharisee… there is room at the cross for them all, and the Great Redeemer is more than able to reach each one.

While writing Finding Evergreen, did you run into any snags, or was the writing process pretty smooth? When you do run into snags, what do you do to overcome the problem or hold-up?

This book was all snags. There really isn’t anything easy when it comes to writing messy stories. They take my heart to hard places, and I feel the ache and loneliness and the isolation of their lives keenly as I write their stories. It can be exhausting, and often I want to walk away. That’s probably the biggest snag—getting into the hard places and just wanting out. To quit. But in those moments, the yearning to see the heart of God tugs harder. I start to read about other people’s real-life redemption stories. I hear what God has done in the midst of their disasters, and I begin to feel hope’s grip again. I think that’s why I keep going back to messy stories. There is something insatiable about hope, and though I know very well that in the real world things don’t always “work out,” I also know that sometimes, they do. And so often, those times have everything to do with broken hearts bowing before the gentle and mighty hand of God. That’s where I want to live—in the middle of that humble hope, looking for the HEA that we all long for.

What is your favorite part of the writing process? Why?

Seeing a story come together when I wasn’t sure how it was going to work out, and then hearing the whisper of God saying “well done.” That last part—I so desperately crave it. I remember the first time my heart heard it several years back, and to this day I have to tell you, there is nothing like it.

How do you balance all of the hats you wear each day?

Uh… honestly. Not very well. Married to my own personal Superman for over eighteen years, and with four kids, my days never look the same. I tend to be a workaholic when I’m in the middle of a project, and it way-too-often interferes with my family. Balance isn’t something I’ve achieved yet.

If you could invite any three authors — past or present — to dinner, who would they be and why?

Hmmm…. That’s a hard question! So many amazing writers out there, so many I greatly admire. I just really don’t know that I have an answer to that…

What books are currently on your TBR pile? Which book do you hope to get to soon?

I just finished When Breath Becomes Air, and I’m still ruminating on it—it’s a non-fiction story that simply demands reflection. I have Courtney Walsh’s Just Look Up sitting on my nightstand right now, so after I feel I can move forward again, that’ll probably be my next read.

Coffee, tea, hot chocolate? What’s your go-to drink when you are reading a good book?

Coffee. Always coffee. 😉

Posted in Author Interview, Christian Romance, Contemporary Christian Fiction

Blog Tour: Embracing Hope (2016) by Janell Butler Wojtowicz + Author Interview + Giveaway

Embracing Hope

About the Book

Take a poignant look into the broken heart and daily struggles of Christian college dean, Drew McKinley. The story chronicles the turbulent first year in his desperate journey to understand God’s motives for the sudden death of his wife and his quest to find hope in his future.

Crossing his perilous path are Allison, a graduate student and new employee in the dean’s office, and Chris, the handsome but egotistical student senate president.

The road Drew must navigate is fraught with career upheaval, a reawakening heart, and the struggle for forgiveness and restoration. Will Drew finish his journey to embrace the hope God offers, the love Allison shares and the guidance Chris needs, or will he turn his back on all three with catastrophic consequences?

GOODREADS

Check out Embracing Hope Chapter 1!!!

About the Author

Janell Butler WojtowiczJanell Butler Wojtowicz, born and raised on an Iowa farm, was one of those kids who loved to write the dreaded “What I did on summer vacation” essay. She wrote stories for her own enjoyment, including a short story about a teenage drug addict—something of which she knew nothing about. Her cousin illustrated the cover using Halloween orange paper featuring a hypodermic needle.

Janell attended the University of Northwestern in St. Paul, Minnesota, earning a bachelor’s degree in, naturally, Written Communication, adding a Journalism Emphasis. She returned to Iowa where she worked as a reporter/editor at three small town newspapers for 10 years.

Janell left the small town Iowa life when she married, Frank Wojtowicz, a family friend who lived in Minneapolis. (By the way, her Polish last name is pronounced “Why-tow-vitch.) She worked in public relations at her alma mater, the University of Northwestern; Leadership Foundations, a nonprofit organization supporting inner-city Christian ministries; and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. Today, Janell owns a freelance service, A Portrait in Words, and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America.

Much of Janell’s writing has been the “people stories” of trial, tragedy and triumph, which are reflected in her debut novel, Embracing Hope. The idea for the novel came after watching a BBC version of Jane Eyre in 2007. That night she dreamed the beginning, pivotal scene in the middle and the ending of Embracing Hope, and began writing it the next day. Unlike her first story, she was very familiar with the setting of Embracing Hope: a Christian college campus.

She and Frank, live in New Brighton, Minnesota, a pleasant suburb of the Twin Cities. She has two step-sons, a step-daughter-in-law, and three step-granddaughters.

Janell is on Social Media!

Twitter          Facebook          Blog          Goodreads

Want to Purchase a Copy of Embracing Hope? Click on the links below:

Amazon          Smashwords          Barnes and Noble          Kobo


Author Interview

I am so pleased to be a part of this blog tour! I really love this book so much. To read my full review of this excellent novel, click HERE. And, I hope you will enjoy my interview with Janell Butler Wojtowicz. Thank you, Janell, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer my questions. I appreciate you!

  • What inspired you to write Embracing Hope?

I attended a Christian college in Minnesota and later spent 12 years in the PR department there. It was home for me in many ways: I could walk the campus blindfolded, knew its 100-year history, academic culture, and 75 percent of the faculty and staff. I was the primary PR writer so I wrote for the college magazine, fund-raising collateral, news releases, etc. Most were based on “people stories” of trial, tragedy and triumph.

I left needing a change and worked with a nonprofit that facilitated inner-city ministries, and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board. My writing for the Park Board focused on such topics as emerald ash borer killing trees, milfoil running amuck in lakes, park development master plans and Board (bored) meetings heavy on Robert’s Rules of Order.

Apparently, my soul could no longer hold in the creative writing because after watching a BBC version of Jane Eyre on TV one night I dreamed the beginning, pivotal middle scene, and ending—all taking place on a college campus—of what would be Embracing Hope. I began writing it the next day in October 2007.

I went out of my way to make sure there were no characters who resembled anyone at the real college. The negative issues that the fictional college faced did not happen at the real college. However, the name of the university is in homage to the founder of the actual college. And there are a couple of minor similar elements: the fast-food eatery in the student center and a gazebo. Otherwise, I built the campus in my mind (and a rough drawing on paper) and gave literary birth to the people at the college.

  • While writing Embracing Hope, did you run into any snags? If so, what did you do to overcome the problem or hold-up?

I put the manuscript on the shelf a few times due to life getting in the way. Or I’d get bored with it and would work on sequels for a change of pace. It was a relief when I did that because I didn’t have to work on pitching it to publishers/agents, which was no fun and discouraging. Whenever life slowed down, I tinkered with the manuscript, just enjoying the writing and editing. It took the sudden death of my literary cheerleader to kick me in the pants to actively pursue publishing. He had hounded me for years to keep writing and get it published. So I got serious, in his memory, and a year later had a publisher. I figure he was my heavenly advocate.

  • What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Creating the characters: their personalities, physical features, childhoods, problems, dreams, quirks, what they wear, what they eat. I can picture them in a restaurant at the next table. I go to a store and they’re looking through the clothes racks. I see them in their offices, homes, cars. I become them eventually. (Call the shrink!)

  • How do you balance all of the hats you wear every day?

To be honest, I don’t balance them very well and would like to fling a few out the door. I work freelance out of my home office, and I usually put in six hours either working with client projects or book marketing. I TRY to take care of social media (book and personal) first thing in the morning, over the noon hour, before I fix supper, and around 8 p.m. Client projects are priority since they bring in the money. When I’m between projects I focus on the book thing. Most evenings I work on the book, which is how I wrote it those first couple of years when I was employed fulltime. Weekends are usually my break from freelance work so I spend more time on the book.

  • If you could invite any three authors – past or present – to dinner, who would it be and why?
  • Jane Austen – I’d delve into the loves of her life and what her dreams were as she wrote her novels. Details of her personal life are precious few, but I believe she was a complex woman, just like her characters.
  • Jerry Jenkins (living) and Tim LaHaye (deceased) – I’d tickle their brains about the Left Behind series; how they created such legendary works of prophetic fiction.
  • Laura Ingalls Wilder – I’d get the adult version of her parents’ pioneering journey (unlike the watered-down version for children), especially what the Long Winter was really like.
  • What are your go-to Christmas reads?
  • A Christmas Carol (Charles Dickens)
  • A Charlie Brown Christmas: The Making of a Tradition (Charles Schulz)
  • Country Christmas: As Remembered by a Former Kid (Bob Artley)
  • Coffee or Tea or Something Else? What is your go-to wintertime comfort drink?

I’m one of the 25 people in the world who doesn’t drink coffee or tea. Give me a diet cherry Pepsi and I’m content. During the holidays, hot apple cider or cocoa work, but only if they’re cool enough so they don’t burn my tongue!


GIVEAWAY

To help promote Janell’s fabulous novel, R&R Book Tours is giving away one (1) eBook copy of Embracing Hope. Click the link below to enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway.

Embracing Hope Rafflecopter Link

And, check out my Giveaway page. I have one (1) paperback copy of Embracing Hope to give away as well. It is listed under Book Giveaway #5. ***Please Note: My giveaway is open to Continental U.S. mailing addresses only.***