So many of the authors I interview on my blog are people I have never met but know a bit through social media or their newsletters and books. The author I am thrilled to introduce you to today is actually someone who became my friend first and then an author. Elena Hill has her first story coming out later this month, a romantic suspense included in a novella collection, all set on Sharktooth Island. I think you're going to enjoy getting to know Elena and reading these stories. Be sure to scroll at the way to the bottom for more information.
Elena, congrats on your first published work. What led you to decide to write your first story for publication?
I’ve always been a fan of story. My mother is an author and now publisher. I’ve always pushed her saying ‘it’s not hard. You just gotta put it on the page’. So she essentially told me to give it a try and she’d publish it. I was wrong. The writing process takes much more effort than just throwing words on a page lol. But I enjoyed it and feel it better helps me understand Mom’s plight with words.
I know this is a collection with three other authors, all set on the same island, but 50-75 years apart. How hard was it to make sure your story fit with the other three?
I lucked out and got to be the black sheep. Each time we had planning sessions (zoom calls) nothing was required from me to “fit into the story”. All I had to do was leave a plane carcass in the shoals. ;)
One of your characters is a pilot. Have you ever had any experience behind the cockpit of a plane? What made you decide to give your heroine that job?
I personally have never flown a plane but I spent several months living in the bush of Alaska. Common travel from villages to the “city” was a small 4-seater plane. It was not uncommon for a passenger to sit upfront with the pilot.
When we decided we wanted to do this collection, we agreed we needed a pirate book, a gilded age, a plane crash and a modern day. I volunteered to crash a plane.
Over the last few years, Scrivenings Press has become a family to me. Needless to say, when a fellow Scrivenings author has a book release, we all cheer and celebrate with her/him. And today, I'm introducing you to Jenny Carlisle, whose first fiction book released last month. And y'all, it's so sweet and fun. I highly recommend it. So, read on to get to know Jenny and then keep reading to find out about her sweet story, Hope Takes the Reins.
Jenny, congratulations on your first fiction publication! What first made you want to be an author?
Thanks so much, Amy. If you had asked five year old Jenny McLeod what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would have probably said, “I want to write books”, I loved reading at a very early age, and wrote stories at every opportunity. I think the first I remember was some sort of treasure hunt story. I also won an award for a poem I wrote in elementary school, and seeing my work hanging in the school hallway was the gratification I needed to really get me hooked.
Your book is set in a sweet little town in Arkansas and as soon as I started reading it, I felt I'd been there before. What made you pick that area to write about?
Crossroads is an entirely fictional town located somewhere between Little Rock and Fort Smith along the Arkansas River. The terrain is beautiful, with the timber-covered Ouachita and Ozark mountains surrounding green pastures perfect for cattle ranches. Since moving to Arkansas as a senior in high school, this particular part of the state keeps drawing me, and I always enjoy visiting or driving through. I have always lived in a small town, and the feeling of kinship and cooperation is strong. Crossroads combines memories from so many small towns, so I hope it feels familiar to many of my readers.
I first discovered Carolyn Miller through her regency romance novels. You all know I love me some regency romance! And I can vouch for the fact that every one of hers I've read is good. Recently, though, I've gotten to know her a little better through Inspy Romance, since we've both joined in the last year. She's definitely a lot of fun, lives in Australia, and her recently released book, The Breakup Project, has a Jane Austen lover in it! So you know I'm in. I can't wait to introduce her and her books more to you, too, so read on.
Carolyn, what first inspired you to be an author?
Ooh, what great timing to ask this question! As I’m writing this I’m watching the Winter Olympics, which is actually where my writing journey began. Back in 2010 I was watching the closing ceremony of the Vancouver Winter Olympics when I saw an Aussie female athlete holding hands with a US male athlete as they entered the stadium. I was struck by how two people from different countries and (presumably) different sports could meet, let alone sustain a relationship, especially given the gruelling nature of their elite athlete training schedules, and all those time zone differences. Despite my best efforts, I never found out who they were, so I made up 'their' story, which became Love on Ice, about an Aussie short track speed skater (because that’s such an awesome sport!), and an ice hockey player. I had SO much fun writing their story that I wrote another one (which also just so happened to feature an ice hockey player!), and realised that writing was what I wanted to do. And now, 12 years after having written that story, I’m thrilled to finally have (a much rewritten and edited) Love on Ice out in the world!
Today, I have the pleasure of introducing you to Delores Topliff. She's a sister author with Scrivenings Press, and has a fascinating history. And she finds the neatest stories to weave into her books. I think you're going to be just as intrigued as I am about her newest one. Read on!
Delores, your newest book, Wilderness Wife, is based on the story of a real-life woman, Marguerite McLoughlin. What was it about her that inspired you to tell her story?
I literally grew up in the shadow of Fort Vancouver, established by Marguerite and her second husband, Dr. John McLoughlin. Many know that the McLoughlins carved a vast empire out of a promising undeveloped wilderness. His accomplishments are well-known. Less is known about Marguerite. I researched her life and found solid gold.
Marguerite Wadin MacKay believed her seventeen-year frontier contract marriage to explorer, Alex MacKay was strong—until sudden fame destroyed it. He returned from accompanying Alexander Mackenzie across Canada to the Pacific telling Marguerite their frontier marriage was void in Montreal where he would now go to choose a society wife. Taking their only son, MacKay sent Marguerite and their three daughters to a North West Company fur trade outpost.
It wasn’t the first time she had been abandoned. Her Swiss fur-trader father was murdered before her eyes by a competitor when she was age seven. After abandonment Marguerite lived for her children but her courage carved out an unforgettable path and place in North American History. Together she and John are called the Mother and Father of the Pacific Northwest. She is known as "the kindest woman in Oregon."
Every now and then, you "meet" someone online and then have the blessing of getting to meet her in person, too. Kathy Cretsinger and I "met" through a Christian Writers' email group almost eighteen years ago. And back in 2018, we got to meet in person at KenTen Writers' Retreat. She's a blessing to many, and has helped quite a few authors see their dreams come true. I hope you enjoy getting to know her a bit more, too. Keep reading.
Kathy, I know macular degeneration has taken a lot of your eyesight over the last few years. What keeps you from getting discouraged and giving up on writing?
KC: Oh, I do get discouraged, but I have friends who have the same condition, and we talk. My father had Dry Macular Degeneration also, and I am encouraged that he didn’t stop. If I stopped doing any of the things I like to do, I’d die. You must keep going and going. I also have a device that helps me see. It’s IrisVision, and it enlarges things for me to read, watch tv, and a lot of other things. I’ve even taken it to football games to watch my grandson. Finding the IrisVision has made a big difference.
In the last couple of years, you've started a cozy mystery series. What made you switch from writing mostly romance to mysteries?
KC: I’ve read cozy mysteries for years. I love the shortness of the books and the quirky characters. I also like to write in first person. Most cozy mysteries are in first person. You don’t have to keep up with three other points of view.
When people "visit" Shady Valley in your books, what can they expect to find?
KC: First you will find mountains. The Appalachian Trail runs through the top of Holston Mountain, and it is beautiful in each season of the year. The people are friendly, and we’re related to most of them. The quiet of the mountains and the gurgling of the streams makes Shady Valley a peaceful place to spend some time listening. You will also find bears. There is only one restaurant, one country store, and a new Dollar General Store. At the restaurant and the country store, you pay with cash or check. I’m sure Dollar General Store uses credit cards, but nothing else does. I love it!
Sometimes, you discover an author and read every one of her books you can get your hands on. Because they're that good. Janet Ferguson is one of those authors for me. I found her through a freebie on one of her stories, won another one in a giveaway, and then I was hooked. Her tales are sweet and fun, with characters to root for and settings you want to visit. And today, I get the pleasure of introducing Janet to you. Make sure you read all the way to the bottom to find out more about her newest book set to release later this month.
Hi Janet, most of your recent books have been set near the coast in Georgia and the gulf (including my favorite--St Simons Island, GA). Do you have a favorite beach you've visited? Why?
It’s so hard to choose just one! I’ve loved all of them. The beach I end up going to most often is Fort Morgan, Alabama. It’s fairly close—four hours or so—and it’s a little less crowded and less commercialized on the peninsula. I usually go in the fall, and the temperatures are mild, but the Gulf is still warm. The butterflies migrate through the area sometime in October. Sometimes, I’m blessed to be there to see them.
Ooh! I need to check that beach out. It sounds amazing, and I love butterflies. What is it about the beach that makes you long to set stories there?
I love the beach. It’s like God opens a treasure chest and sprinkles prizes around for us to find. Shells, porpoise, heron, sand dollars, starfish, sunsets, the ocean breeze, sea turtles, glowing jellyfish, the stars, and the waves as constant as His love, and so much more.
I've mentioned before how blessed I am by getting to know other authors. Well, let me tell you. The one chatting with me today is a peach! Liana George is a fellow Scrivenings author, and she's here to talk about her debut novel, Perfectly Arranged. Read on, because you're going to enjoy this one.
Congratulations on your first book! From the moment you first got the idea to write this story, how long did it take to get here?
Thanks! I first got the idea for the book in 2007-2008 while living in China. I was asked to research an address on a business card for a family friend. I never did locate the property but always wondered what was there. Thinking it would make a good story one day, I tucked it away in my writing idea notebook. Sometime in early 2017, I finally figured out how to make a book out of the idea and started writing my novel in December 2017.
I know you've got two more books coming out in this series (and I'm so excited to read them and see what happens). Did you originally mean for this to be a trilogy, or did it take over and grow more than you thought it would?
I’d always planned on it being a trilogy, but I never saw the story going the way it has, especially for books 2 (Perfectly Placed) and 3 (Perfectly Matched). But that’s the beauty of a story! It takes the author in the direction it wants to go sometimes, and we just have to go with the flow.
It's always a pleasure to have one of my fellow Scrivenings Press authors on here for an interview. Today, Michelle de Bruin is joining us, talking about her newest book, which sounds amazing, and some of the fun research that went into it. Read on!
Michelle, congrats on the recent release of your fourth book. Can you tell us if this book is connected to your last series or is this a completely new series?
This book starts a new series, but the characters in this book are people we met in my first series of books.
Your characters in this book are older than the ones in your last few. Was that easier or harder to write? Why?
Even though these main characters are older than the ones in my first book, they are actually close in age to myself, so creating them and writing their story came pretty easy because I thought about how I would handle the situations that came up in the book. Some of the events, like second marriages and the arrival of grandchildren have happened to people in my era of life. I could develop these characters with an accurate level of maturity because of the realistic responses I've witnessed to these sorts of circumstances.
What was one of the most interesting things you uncovered when you were researching for this story?
Writing this story required research of the first airplanes ever invented. Here are some interesting facts I learned about the Wright Model B pusher biplane while writing this story:
The biplane required 100 yards to take off.
It was produced between the years of 1910 and 1914.
It had a 39 foot wingspan and a 4 cylinder engine.
It's speed was on average 44 mph.
President Theodore Roosevelt was the first American President to fly. In October 1910, a man by the name of Arch Hoxsey took the President as a passenger on his Wright Model B.
Every now and then, someone super special comes into your life, and four years ago, that's what happened to me. I met Sarah Anne Crouch when dropping my daughter off for Bible class one of the first Sundays we visited where we worship now. Our daughters became immediate best friends and Sarah and I followed suit. Although I'm not happy that she's moved to a different state, I am thrilled that she's just released her first book. And I know you're going to enjoy getting to know this special author, too.
Hi Sarah. Congrats on your first book. Can you tell me what first inspired you to be an author?
I've always loved stories. When I was a kid, I devoured any book I could get my hands on, and I wrote all kinds of terrible poems and mysteries and even one horror comedy. About ten years ago, my husband, who was probably sick of hearing me just talk about wanting to write, bought me a copy of Writing the Christian Romance by Gail Gaymer Martin. A few years later, I only had a partially completed manuscript, but I met a very nice lady at church (named Amy Anguish!) who encouraged me to keep writing. And I'm so glad she did!
What made you choose Northwest Arkansas as your setting?
I consider Arkansas, specifically Northwest Arkansas, my home. There just aren't enough books set in Arkansas, in my opinion. Shady Springs is loosely based on the town I grew up in, Prairie Grove, Arkansas. The real town has a State Battlefield Park, an abundance of antique shops, and a popular craft fair every Labor Day weekend. The fictional town has a few changed details, but I tried to bring the real-life charm of Prairie Grove to the page.
I don't read a ton of suspense novels, because I like mine to be a little less ... stressful. Ha! But, if I were to go pick one up, the author I'm interviewing today is one who would tempt me. Cindy Bonds is part of the Scrivenings Press family with me, and her second book released a few months ago. I think you're going to enjoy getting to know her a little more, as well as learning about her books. Read on!
Hey Cindy. Congrats on your second book! Is this book connected to the first book, or are they both stand-alone?
Both of these books are stand alone. Since I’m relatively new to the market, I wanted to get my foot in the door and learn with these two first! There are some similarities as in most of my books. I enjoy a strong female lead and someone that can stand up for herself. The other side of that also means that the male protagonist has to be strong as well and willing to put up with a bit of a stubborn streak!
What is it about suspense that makes you love that genre the most?
I love the tension and mystery in suspense. How all the characters interact and fit together, how the mystery clings and characters change and evolve through the story is a wonderful thing to read. Figuring out the mystery as to not only why, but how everything connects is what draws me in.
When I’m reading a really great suspenseful novel, all the mystery connects beautifully and makes it one of those books you want to read over and over again! One day, I aspire to be that writer with that book!
This is a place for me to tell you about what I'm writing, talk about the process or where some of my ideas came from, or even have other authors come in and talk about their books.
Authors I Love to Read (in no particular order)