Category: Author Interview

Janet Chester Bly

Author Interview | Introducing Janet Chester Bly

Today I’d like to welcome author Janet Bly, to share about her new release, Beneath a Camperdown Elm. Welcome, Janet! We’ll start off with some quick questions so we get to know you a little better.

What is your favourite fruit?

Cherries and grapes make an easy and healthy to eat snack when I’m reading or at the computer. And bananas provide potassium when my legs cramp. But I sure love fresh peaches or nectarines, when I can get them, in my morning cereal.

I love cherries. I just wish they were in season for longer.

Which is your favourite season?

The first days of Spring after the long, snowy winter, and the mud disappears. And any day in the Fall.

Where is your favourite place?

In my cozy bed, after a long day of difficult or satisfying work.

What is your favourite Bible verse?

The life verse I discovered from the early days of receiving Christ as my Lord & Savior is Ephesians 2:10 …

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

That nudged me many times over the years to constantly be looking for the works, big or small, that God created  for me to accomplish.

What’s something funny or quirky that not many people know about you?

My late husband, Stephen Bly, built a full-sized, false-front town with fire pit called Broken Arrow Crossing in our yard and I often entertain for family, friends, and church events there.

A full-size fake town? And Janet even sent photos:
Plenty of room to sit!


Check out the fire pit!


Isn’t that cool?

Now, let’s talk about your book, Beneath a Camperdown Elm.

Reba’s scary stalker is locked up in jail. She finally snatches a rancher fiancé. Her runaway mother returns home. Reba has everything she ever wanted. But Grandma Pearl has disappeared! Is Reba about to lose it all?

In August 1991, at Road’s End, Idaho, three generations of women travel separate journeys of the heart.

Reba Mae Cahill brims with joy. Her life’s perfect. She’s finally bringing her prodigal mother, Hanna Jo, home to Road’s End from a Reno mental institute. With them is Jace McKane, her fiancé, who promises to help fight the unjust lawsuit that threatens the family ranch. He wants a new start, away from his unscrupulous father and all his drama.

Just as Reba’s getting Jace trained to become her rancher husband, she discovers Grandma Pearl betrayed her once again, in a way that also harms her mother. Reba believes she’s lost everything—her career, her identity, her lifelong pursuit, and her main reason for marrying Jace.

When Jace returns to California to bail out his father and pursue Quigley, a psychotic killer, who escaped from prison, she wonders if he’ll ever return to Road’s End?

Then Hanna Jo claims she sees alleged wild horses in the mountain valleys as she learns her son and ex-husband’s fishing boat sank in an Alaskan sea. Can Reba keep her from flipping out for good?

As Grandma Pearl struggles with guilt, health issues, and finding purpose for the rest of her life, will the new church building project provide an answer?

Meanwhile, twenty-one-year-old Scottish twin tourists, Archie and Wynda MacKenzie, mesmerize the town with their trick biking skills and charming accents. Reba’s not sure they’re all they claim to be. And someone harasses Reba with letters and phone calls. What are they really after?
Will any of the answers be found in the mysteries of an old Scottish elm?

What inspired the plot of Beneath a Camperdown Elm?

My late husband and I were privileged to travel to Europe and especially loved Scotland. In Dundee, Scotland, I learned of the existence of a mutant, twisted Camperdown Elm, snaking low across the ground, first discovered at Camperdown House in the early 1800s. When we returned home, I found out that the nearby University of Idaho campus had a special planting by cuttings from the original of about twenty of the wild-headed trees.  Their gnarliness and rarity fascinated me. I determined to write a story around a theme of the trees and their connection to and, perhaps, part of a curse on generations of an American family.

What a great inspiration!

Who is your favourite character in this book, and why?

I’m afraid I’ll have to admit that three different characters equally interest me—grandaughter, Reba Mae Cahill; mother, Hanna Jo Cahill; and grandmother Pearl Cahill. Living vicariously through each of their stories, I aspire to replicate their strong traits and recognize flaws of my own. They each represent in a shadowed, though not specific way, various seasons of my life.

Is there a particular theme or message in Beneath a Camperdown Elm?

No matter what choices the people in our families before us have made, and how that has affected our personal circumstances, we are free to start again, by our own thought through decisions. We can forge our own story. Also, all things can work together for good when God is in it.


Beneath a Camperdown Elm is the third book in a series. What are the other books? Do readers have to start with the first book?

Beneath a Camperdown Elm can be read alone. However, most readers tell me they want to know more of the backstory of The Trails of Reba Cahill and do read Books 1 & 2 afterward, or start with them, for all the other tales leading into the finale. Each of the books happen in the summer of 1991.

Wind in the Wires, Book 1

Twenty-five-year-old cowgirl Reba Cahill searches for love in a rancher husband and healing from the hurts of her runaway mother, who abandoned Reba as a child.  Finding a love interest is quite a challenge, in the small town of Road’s End, Idaho, population 400, the setting of the Cahill Ranch, owned by Grandma Pearl.

Meanwhile, a ninety-year-old man in town decides to take a journey to the Nevada desert in his Model T car, to seek justice in solving two cold case murders. He talks Reba into going with him, after giving her a very expensive gold and turquoise squash blossom necklace, formerly owned by his niece who just died. During the trip, Reba and the old man uncover an eerie story of lies and betrayal. Will the truth be too hard for either of them to bear?

Down Squash Blossom Road, Book 2

Cowgirl Reba Cahill’s schedule is full. Save the family ranch. Free her mom from a mental institute. Take another road trip. Solve a murder and a kidnapping. Plus, she must evade a scary stalker. Can she also squeeze in romance?

What do you find is the easiest part of the writing and publishing process? What’s the hardest?

The actual writing is the easiest  part, even though it can take many months or even years to accomplish, with much strain on the brain at times. However, the most difficult challenge is all the necessity of marketing involved. It does no good to write something, if no one knows about it.

Somehow the writer must spark that elusive word-of-mouth dynamic that incites a satisfied reader to tell others. But most writers dread this part of the process, as he or she tends to be an introvert and enjoys most the solitary comfort zone of creating. Not always fun to put yourself ‘out there’ and do promotion.

What impact does your faith have on your writing?

Every writer has a world view of some sort. Mine comes from my Christian belief. And as I write, I try very hard not to be preachy, but to show the struggles of characters in coming to terms with God’s part in their lives. Some believe in Him. Others don’t. But He is definitely a Being to be reckoned with.

I think an increasing number of Christian readers want to read books with real-life struggles, so keep it up.

What’s your favourite fiction genre, and why?

Mysteries of all kinds, historical and contemporary, cozy and thriller. Love the challenge of guessing who did what, digging through the intricate plotting, and the motive behind it all. In The Trails of Reba Cahill Series, I stay with the western genre of my late husband, Stephen Bly, but add mystery and a touch of romance. Actually, I have to admit that by Book 3, the story is more romance than mystery!

Well, I love a good romance!

What book (or books) are you currently reading?

The Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco. This is a tedious read in many ways, but also charming at the same time. Set in 1327 about Franciscans in a wealthy Italian abbey suspected of heresy. Brother William of Baskerville arrives to investigate and his mission is overshadowed by seven bizarre deaths. Brother William turns detective. Never would have picked this novel on my own, but was recommended by members of an online fiction book club. Have enjoyed entering a world so unlike my own or any of our own genre stories.

Thank you, Janet! It’s been great to meet you and learn more about Beneath a Camperdown Elm.

You can find Janet Bly online at:

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Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | LinkedIn

Readers, what question would you like to ask Janet? Let us know in the comments!

Author Interview - Erin Unger

Author Interview | Introducing Erin Unger and Desolate Paths

Today I’m interviewing Christian romantic suspense author Erin Unger about life, writing, and her new release, Desolate Paths. Welcome, Erin!

About You

First, please you tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

Hi! Thanks for having me. I’m from the hills of Virginia, where farms flourish and people are kind.

It’s said that authors should write the kind of book they like to read. What is your favourite genre? Who are your favourite authors?

My favorite genre does happen to be the genre I write. There’s nothing like a great romantic suspense. And I love to read. My favorite authors are Harlan Coben, Irene Hannon, and Erynn Newman.

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why/why not?

I just finished Julie B Cosgrove’s book called Dumpster Dicing and it was such a fun cozy mystery. I would most definitely recommend it to others because it was well-written and had a neat perspective. The main characters were Bunco partners who lived in a retirement community. I can’t wait to read the next one.

I see Bunco mentioned often in novels, but had to look up what it is.

About your book

What kind of books do you write? Where and when are they set?

I write contemporary romantic suspense for the Christian market. Some of my novels are set in the Virginia mountains while others are in tight-knit urban communities.

Tell us about your latest book. Who will enjoy it?

My book, Desolate Paths, which is coming out on January 11, 2019, is for women who love suspense driven by real life issues, with a love story wrapped in too.

What was your motivation for writing Desolate Paths?

When I was growing up, a wagon caravan of teens came through my small town every summer. These teens were troubled and working through hard life issues most people never have to face. They had to survive the whole summer in tents with no electricity and no running water as they received counselling. I always wondered what it would be like to live the way they did. This spurred my imagination into action for years and led to the creation of Desolate Paths.

Where did the characters and story come from? What were your influences?

One summer, our church had a singing group from a rehab center visit. Once again, the same kind of treatment that the wagon caravan used was put into action with these girls. I began talking to one of them and I just knew she was meant to be my main character. I wish I could see how she’s doing today. And I hope I did her justice in my story.

Who is your favourite character and why? Do you have anything in common with him/her?

My favorite character is Kyle Reston. He is such a complex character who is still working his way through rehab. If only he could do right when he should… I’m not sure I have much in common with him but I do love the depth he adds to the story.

What are you working on at the moment? What other books do you plan to write?

I’m glad you asked! I am getting ready to start the second book in a series about a tight-knit urban community. This is an eight-book series where all of the characters will win my readers over, and they’ll have the hardest time deciding who’s their favorite.

I love a great series!

About your writing

What motivated you to start writing?

I’ve always had a story brewing in the back of my mind. But it wasn’t until I was in my late twenties before I actually started a writing. It’s been years of learning and waiting, but I’m so glad to finally be on the cusp of seeing my dreams of being a published author a reality.

What made you choose to write for the Christian market?

I’d never consider doing it any other way. I know this gift God gave me is meant to glorify Him and help others through my stories.

Amen! It’s important that some Christians write for the general market—but it’s even more important that we all use our gifts as God would have us use them.

Do your novels have an overt faith element?

Yes. My faith and how I can show God’s unfathomable love is most important to me.

About your publishing journey

This book is self-published, but you also have a book coming out from Pelican Book Group in March next year. What made you choose to self-publish this title and seek traditional publication for this next novel?

Pelican is such a great house to publish through, and I’m so glad to have the opportunity to work with them, but I like the autonomy of self-publishing also. I think I get the best of both worlds by going both ways.

What advice do you have for someone seeking to write and publish a novel?

An author should take the time to learn how to write first! Be willing to make changes and be easy to work with. Seek the help of other writers and take their advice.

I agree! We can’t learn to write in a vacuum, and the best stories are brought to life by great writing. Thanks for joining us today, Erin!

About Erin Unger

Erin Unger was raised in the hills of Virginia, exploring abandoned houses and reading the scariest books she could find. After marrying so young it would make a great romance novel, she has enjoyed an exciting life with her hubby. But her fast-paced life sometimes rivals the suspense in her books thanks to all her mostly grown children and a couple grandkids. Her novel, Desolate Paths, releases January 11, 2019.

You can find Erin online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

Do you enjoy Christian romantic suspense? If so, check out this interview with author Erin Unger about life, writing, and her new release, Desolate Paths. #ChristianFiction Click To Tweet

About Desolate Paths

When rehab is Brooke Hollen’s only chance at redemption, she runs straight to it. But can she survive the serial killer who hides amongst the damaged and healing? And can she trust Kyle Reston, another rehab resident, who wants to take her under his wing? Or is he responsible for the residents who keep disappearing?

You can buy Desolate Paths at Amazon.

Author Interview - Christine Dillon

Author Interview | Introducing Christine Dillon and Grace in the Shadows

Today I’m interviewing author (and editing client) Christine Dillon. Christine has recently released her second novel, Grace in the Shadows, and is currently working on the sequel.

First, please you tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

This is always a tricky question for me. I’m Australian but I grew up in Asia, as my parents were missionaries. Since 1999 I’ve also spent 80% of my time in Taiwan working with the same organisation as my parents. To my delight, I recently discovered that I’m also a New Zealand citizen.

Yay! It’s always good to meet and interview a fellow Kiwi, no matter how remote the connection.

About Your Books

What kind of books do you write? Where and when are they set?

I have three published non-fiction books on discipleship (2009) and Bible storytelling (2012, 2017) and two contemporary Christian fiction novels. The stories are set in the mid to late 1990’s in Sydney, Australia.

What was your motivation for writing Grace in Strange Disguise and Grace in the Shadows?

As I discipled people in Taiwan and Australia I saw a widespread problem. So many people want to follow a God who blesses us on our own terms. But what if we feel disappointed with Him? What if we can’t see the blessing? I wanted to write about this whole issue of what is God there for?

I also saw some ‘lacks’ in Christian fiction. One was that there were too many ‘happily ever after stories’. I wanted to write fiction that was about obedience and submission to Jesus no matter what happened. I also wanted stories that were thoroughly Christian in the way that characters not only thought about issues but also shared Jesus with others. I don’t want to read books that tack the Christianity on top. I’d prefer those kind of books to not mention Christianity at all.

Lastly, I wanted to write fiction that was life changing. Fiction that spurred readers on to follow Jesus with more and more passion. Fiction that made a difference. Having seen the power of Bible stories, I knew that fiction was important. It’s another medium to impact lives.

I think a lot of people start writing novels because they want to read fiction with more “x” or less “y”. We’re all individuals, so fiction speaks to us all in different ways. As you say, it’s another medium to impact lives.

Where did the characters and story come from? What were your influences?

I never planned to write fiction as I was aware that it would be well beyond my abilities. But God seems to have had other ideas and thankfully it is not beyond his. The main idea for the story ‘downloaded’ (this is what it felt like) into my mind during a prayer day as far back as 2007. I put it on hold saying, “You’re going to have to push me to do this and give me the ability.”

Never say anything is beyond our abilities!

The push came in 2012 when I was reading a Francine Rivers set of novellas called ‘Sons of Encouragement’. Again the idea was clear in my head, “You’re a Bible storyteller. Write a biblical novel to practice writing fiction.” So I started immediately. The two practice stories I wrote are ones I hope to get back to soon. In 2013, I started on the ‘real thing’. Initially I thought it was a stand alone novel until told, “This isn’t one story, its one and a half.” When I recovered from the shock, I decided I’d be writing a trilogy. But it’s grown again. I can now see six stories.

Francine Rivers has been a big influence because she tackles issues. I wanted my books to make a difference in people’s lives like hers have.

Two other influences have been C S Lewis (how many people have his books influenced?) especially the Narnia series and The Screwtape Letters, and Randy Alcorn. They write in different genres but they’re life changing. Their stories teach deep truths but wrapped in fiction. They move our emotions and change our worldview. That is what I’m aiming for.

I agree—the best fiction is the kind that makes us reconsider our worldview and bring us closer to Christ.

Who is your favourite character, and why? Do you have anything in common with him/her?

I have quite a few favourites. Joy, who is a major secondary characters. The only thing we have in common is that we both speak Chinese. Naomi is also a favourite.

Josh and Dirk in book two. The only things we have in common is that we love Jesus and I’ve worked in a plant nursery before. Dirk is modelled on two men I admire – one was the boss of a plant nursery. I’ve also started to have fun naming people after various friends or names that my readers have chosen.

The character most like myself is Esther. We both like hiking and she’s a physiotherapist because that was something I felt confident writing about. The timing of the stories is quite deliberate because I wasn’t confident to write about physiotherapy after the date that I worked in hospitals. The hospital in my mind for her workplace is where I worked (although bits of it are made up). I prefer to work with real locations and then adapt from there.

I deliberately made Esther unlike myself in key areas so that people wouldn’t think she was me. I think she likes swing dancing and coffee. Too uncoordinated for one and not a fan of the other.

Will there be a sequel? When can readers expect to see this?

I am working on the third novel now and hope that it will be out by August 2019. There may be three more stories in this series. After that, I would love to write something different and am thinking of biblical fiction which would tie in nicely with my Bible storytelling ministry.

I know a few readers who will be glad to hear that!

About Your Writing

How long did it take between starting to write Grace in Strange Disguise and publishing it? What about Grace in the Shadows?

The first novel took four and a half years. That’s not unusual. I first had to learn to plot and then to write. Along the way I had huge numbers of things to learn in terms of marketing, setting up a website … it felt like doing several university degrees concurrently.

The second book only took about ten months. That was both because I already had material left over from the first book (although it had to be rewritten) and because I’d improved so much. I also had my team in place in terms of editors, beta readers and proofreaders. Everything ran more smoothly and I’m beginning to find my rhythm.

What is the hardest part of getting a book written, edited and published?

Everything is hard! A novelist has to have huge courage (to cope with the inevitable criticism) and determination to simply keep going. If I have to choose, I think the first draft is the most difficult. There are parts in the latter part of editing that I enjoy. The parts where I’m reading it out loud to catch errors and poor rhythms. That part is satisfying because it is taking something good and polishing it to high gloss.

What made you choose to self-publish?

Self-publishing is not for the faint-hearted or lazy. There is a HUGE amount to master especially in the areas of writing and finding good editors (I was blessed to find my ‘perfect matches’ the first time around but that was the result of prayer), marketing (an area most authors find difficult), and business.

Having been twice traditionally published I had some experience of the book industry. I wanted the freedom to set prices, give away books if I wanted … most of the time I’m loving it. Yes, I’ve probably sacrificed in sales at the beginning but the reviews have been good and word of mouth recommendation is spreading.

I have no time pressures except the ones I set myself. I’m someone with plenty of initiative and discipline and self-publishing suits me. I would not enjoy the pressure of a three book contract. My daily life is too busy for that and I regard the rest of my ministry/work as more important than writing.

I also love being able to choose the kind of stories I write and not be forced to stick to one genre.

What advice do you have for someone seeking to write and publish a novel?

  • Find a community who can help and support you. You’ll need it. I found mine with various Facebook groups – Australasian Christian Writers, Christian Writers Downunder and also Christian Indie Authors (much broader in terms of where authors are from). I also have a group of three other authors who can kick me or hug me (in my case virtually via the internet).
  • Work on your humility and also become confident about who you are in Christ. You must be able to cope with people tearing your work apart. Most of them do it out of love for you and it is much better to let them do it before you send your baby out into the big wide world. Make sure your motivations are for the glory of Jesus. Poor and selfish motives will only cause loads of pain.
  • Take things much more slower than your heart wants. The worst thing you can do is to publish too early and release an inferior product. I don’t want to run ahead of God’s speed. This is another reason I prefer to self-publish, so I can pray about the timing.
Great tips—thank you!

About Marketing

You have created your own book trailers. How hard was this? Was it worth doing?

It was impossible until someone on the Christian Indie authors group directed me to a free online company called Lumen 5. After that it was a matter of drag and drop as all the copyright images and music are already there. You can also add your own photos and music.

I hear you’re currently in the process of recording audiobook versions of both your novels. What made you decide to produce an audiobook, and record it yourself? How is the process going?

I am literally in the first week of attempting this. I’ve recorded and edited two chapters. Only forty something to go for book one. Then book two.

Audiobooks are a hugely expanding market. It makes sense to have books available in as many formats as possible to suit different kinds of buyers – digital books, print and now audio.

I was praying for someone to help me get started as I don’t have much confidence with technology and it was yet another new thing for me to learn. God has provided someone with a studio and the equipment a five-minute walk away. I can go there in the afternoons and do a few hours recording.

There are excellent resources online to teach you how to do it (which I’ve added onto my ‘self publishing’ board on Pinterest). Pinterest is my filing system for articles related to writing/marketing …

Please feel free to add some information about yourself (e.g. website, purchasing links, book trailer links) to the end of the post.

Thank you for joining us today, Christine! Readers, if you want to find out more about Christine, check her out online at:

Website | Facebook | Pinterest

And click here to check out Grace in Strange Disguise, Grace in the Shadows, and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon shop!


Introducing J’nell Ciesielski

Author Interview | Introducing J’nell Ciesielski


It’s Writer Wednesday! Today I’d like to introduce you to author J’nell Ciesielski. J’nell has recently released her first book, Among the Poppies, set in England and France during World War One. I reviewed it on Monday, and definitely recommend it!

1. First, please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I’m originally from Florida which is known as The Sunshine State in America. I spent some years in Texas, then after college joined the Air Force where I was stationed in Germany for three years. Some of my fondest memories were made traveling Europe and meeting my husband. After our contracts were up, we decided to leave the military and come back to the States where we now call Virginia home.

2. It’s said that authors should write the kind of book they like to read. What is your favorite genre?

Oh, that’s easy 🙂 Historical fiction, particularly if it has a swoon-worthy romance. I love disappearing into bygone eras where honor was worth dying for, love worth living for, and culture worth preserving at all costs. The men seem larger than life, and the women were a force to be reckoned with despite their social constraints. Certainly we have a habit of viewing the past through rose-colored glasses, but history is unencumbered by the trappings of modern convenience where we’ve developed a habit of taking things for granted.

3. What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why or why not?

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald. It’s a story of Scott F. Fitzgerald’s wife and how she met the brilliant young writer and all their tumultuous years together. It’s sad, thrilling, heartwarming, enraging, and utterly unforgettable. You hear so much about Scott, but never about Zelda which is a shame because she is absolutely fascinating.

This book gives such an insight of the cultural revolution that stormed the world after WWI when all the movers and shakers like Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Picasso, Stein, and Porter collided on the colorful streets of Paris to change history forever. Highly recommend!

4. Tell us about Among the Poppies. Who will enjoy it?

Among the Poppies is about a young woman eager to forge her own path as England surges into the Great War, but a duty bound army captain has her rethinking her objections to settling down. Anyone with a taste for adventure is in for quite a ride. Danger is around every corner while love blossoms in the most unlikely of places. Friendships are forged, loyalty tested, and duty to one’s heart is laid on the line. These elements are grounded in rich historical detail as the war to end all wars explodes all around.

5. Where did the characters and story come from? What were your influences?

Like many people the world over, I got swept up in the whirlwind that was Downton Abbey. The elegance, the estates, the manners, and, of course, the clothes. Oh, to wear fancy hats again! Season two plunged the audience into WWI and there I saw it, Lady Sybil the nurse and her world-changing chauffeur love of a man, Branson.

I had to be a part of this world! Gwyn became a chauffeur’s daughter longing for adventure beyond the garage doors, and William is an army captain who, above all, desires order. But Gwyn is anything but orderly 🙂

I’d agree with that! Gwyn is a great character.

6. Who is your favorite character and why? Do you have anything in common with him/her?

That’s a toughie. I love Gwyn’s spunk and wish I had more of it, but at the end of the day it’s Roland who makes me smile. He’s charming, witty, and has a zest for life that balances out William’s seriousness. Even in the mud-bogged trenches that man finds something to laugh about, but just when you think he’s gone too far, he pulls out a depth of resilient understanding that takes your breath away. I wouldn’t say I have much in common with Roland, except our love for the finer things in life 🙂 I would be grateful to find my very own Roland friend.

7. Where do you get your character names from? I’m intrigued with this one because I have two William Crawfords in my family tree, and one was the right age to fight in WWI.

How fantastic to find William Crawfords in your tree! You’ll have to let me know if you find out that he did fight in WWI.

Character names are one of the, if not THE, most fun part of the writing process. I have no hard and fast rules to choosing the all important moniker, but I aim for something regional and somewhat era appropriate. Gwynevere Ruthers was so named because her mother loved to read and settled on the queen of Camelot. But Gwyn, being who she is, decided that Gwynevere was too stuffy and prefers to be called Gwyn. For heroes, I like a good strong, classic name. What could be more classic and English than William Crawford? Remember back when I mentioned that little show Downton Abbey? Crawford is my nod to the Crawley clan 🙂

I’m sure the Crawfords are honoured!

Sometimes a name just presents itself in a Hello! This is me! kinda way. When that doesn’t happen I peruse a list I’ve been making through the years. Some have been waiting a long time for an owner, but I know their day is coming. They just need the right character.

IMDB is also a great place to scroll through movie credits because they have thousands of unique names that I never would have thought to use.

8. A lot of research has gone into Among the Poppies. What the hardest part about researching a different time and a different culture?

Research is my absolute favorite part of writing. I love love love diving into all those details, most of which never make it into the story. History is fascinating. It makes us who we are, defines where we come from, and gives us passion to strive even further than we ever imagined possible. But it’s always a challenge understanding an unfamiliar world. The manner of speaking, dressing, thinking, laws, and societal roles are sometimes a minefield to navigate with our modern sensibilities.

9. What research tips can you share?

Read everything you can about the time period. Fiction written during the era so you can understand the inner workings of what concerned people, and fiction set during the era so you can put those bygone inner workings into a modern voice.

Diaries and first-hand accounts like Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain and The Roses of No Man’s Land by Lyn MacDonald were invaluable to me to learn precisely what these people were facing, their hopes and fears, and how the war transformed them. Old movies and of the era music are another touchstone for me. In fact, when Mary Crawley sang ‘If You Were the Only Boy in the World’ I knew I had to have that in my own story.

There is nothing like reading words written by the people affected.

10. What’s the most interesting factoid you found that didn’t make it into the book?

I never let a good factoid escape from my pages. There were a few that found themselves beneath my editor’s red pen, but I fought to keep them because as irrelevant as they may seem, these little elements add that bit of sparkle that take a story from good to remarkable. Burned soldiers suffered such horrendous pain that only Pekinese dog hair was soft enough to be made into blankets for their raw skin. It wouldn’t be the same, nor the truth, if I’d simply left it at a regular ol’ blanket.

11. Do your novels have an overt faith element?

No, though there is a thread of faith. All of my novels are told from a Christian world point of view with plenty of moral obstacles the characters have to face and overcome. I want Christians and non-Christians to pick up my book to find complexities and truth without a sermon.

12. What made you choose to write for the Christian market?

I don’t write for a Christian market, per se, but my stories are presented from a Christian’s world point of view with set morals and beliefs. Do the characters ever twist these to the fallacies of the world? Absolutely! But at the center there is a core of unalterable truth that can only come from God Himself. That is a part of me and I can’t imagine not being able to express it.

I think you’ve struck a great balance. As a Christian, I read Among the Poppies and clearly saw the Christian themes. But someone without faith could read it and not find the faith aspect overwhelming. It’s a great story.

13. What do you see as the main differences between fiction written for the Christian market compared with the general market?

There is a hope we can cling to in Christian writing that isn’t found in secular writing. Too often secular stories rely on sex, crude language, and titillating situations to convey emotions which I don’t feel comfortable being a part of. I don’t believe morals are something we can play fast and loose with despite what the world may try to convince us of.

14. What kind of support does your publisher give you? What are you expected to do yourself?

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas is not a large publisher, but what they lack in size they more than make up in enthusiasm. LPC and my wonderful editor took a chance on a no-name newbie, offering invaluable advice to push me further in my writing abilities while not suffocating me. They’ve helped ease me into the industry instead of chunking me straight into the deep end.

Because they are a small publisher, much of the marketing falls to me. Setting up a launch team, creating Facebook parties, tweeting, blog posting, interviews, etc. I do though LPC does step in with promotional opportunities that I can’t manage on my own. Such as submitting Among the Poppies to Publisher’s Weekly and earning a review slot 🙂 Something I never could have done on my own.

Publisher’s Weekly? How cool!

15. What is the hardest part of getting a book written, edited, and published?

Finish writing it! Ha. That’s so easy to say, but sitting down day after day can be downright tough. Especially when the words don’t come and all you want to do is bang your head against the keyboard because you’re most likely the worst writer to ever live and no one will ever read the drivel you’re attempting to write. It’s not a task for the weak of heart. It requires a stubbornness that will carry you all the way through the valleys and straight up to the mountaintops.

The most important thing is not to give into discouragement. Push through those hard moments because at the end is a shining jewel that took years to polish.

16. What advice do you have for someone seeking to write and publish a novel?

Never give up! If this is truly a passion and you can’t imagine doing anything else, read, read, read. Reading expands your use of language and imagination. Learn everything you can about the craft and industry, enter contests, join writer’s groups, but most importantly, write. Write every day because that is how you become a writer instead of someone wishing they could write.

Thanks for visiting, J’nell! It’s great to hear more about you, and about the story behind Among the Poppies!

About J’nell Ciesielski

Author Photo: J'nell CiesielskiBelieving she was born in the wrong era, J’nell Ciesielski spends her days writing heart-stopping heroes, brave heroines, and adventurous exploits in times gone by.

Winner of the Romance Through the Ages contest and Maggie Award, J’nell can often be found dreaming of a second home in Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies.

Born a Florida girl, she now calls Virginia home, along with her very understanding husband, young daughter, and one lazy beagle.

You can find J’nell Ciesielski online at:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Twitter

About Among the Poppies

Gwyn Ruthers longs for adventure far beyond the stifled life society restricts her to as a chauffeur’s daughter. With the war to end all wars exploding across the Channel, Gwyn signs up to drive ambulances on the Front. Rambling over bomb blasted roads and living in mud bogged trenches is far from the exotic travels she had in mind. A simpler life doesn’t look quite as bad as she once thought. Especially when a handsome captain has her rethinking her objections to settling down.

You can find Among the Poppies online at:


And don’t forget to click here and read my review!

Stacy Monson - Three Psalms for Busy Women

Guest Post | Stacy Monson shares Three Psalms for Busy Women (and a #Giveaway!)

Today I’m delighted to welcome Stacy Monson to the blog. Stacy’s latest book, Open Circle, releases this week, and it looks like an excellent read. And she has a giveaway! And it’s open internationally! One random commenter will be chosen.

Psalms for Busy Women

Life can be crazy busy. Rather than put your head down and power through each day, find those touchpoint moments when you can seek God’s calm and strength. They need only be long enough to remember who He is, and who you are in Him.

Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.

– Psalm 103:2

It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of each busy day and forget to see where God is at work. He is at work, just rarely in big moments that involve fireworks, thunderous applause, and flashing lights (unless you count the miracle of nature all around us). He’s there in the smile of a child after a tantrum, the hug of a friend in the midst of bad news. The cry of a newborn, and the understanding tears of one who knows infertility.

It’s important to look back and recognize moments when we received exactly what we needed—a phone call, a hug, a job offer, unexpected good news. He surrounds us with people who know us and love us (anyway). He provides what we need to face each day.

Instead of focusing on what’s lacking, pause throughout your busy day to thank Him for all the blessings He showers over you, and praise Him with every fiber of your being.

Be still and know that I am God.

– Psalm 46:10

This isn’t a request—it’s a two-fold command. God knows there is little stillness in our high-tech lives. With calendars crammed full of activities, there’s no time to be still! So we must make the time. God tells us Be still. Only then can we know who He is. And this verse tells us He wants us to know Him. Amazing.

When we are still (in the car waiting for the kids, in the silence of early morning, or on a break at work), that’s when we can hear His voice, feel His presence, know He’s there. He is who He says He is: Creator of heaven and earth, lover of our soul, Lord over our calendars.

The God who created you knows you better than you know yourself, and loves you with a perfect, all-consuming love. When you take the time to be still, you can know who He is as well.

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.

– Psalm 143:10

One of a woman’s greatest strengths can also be her greatest weakness. We are do-ers. When something needs doing, we jump in with both feet. Wobbling on our heels, we race from this commitment to that, leaping over obstacles, praying we stay upright as we take on yet another request. The flip side of this is burnout, resentment, and exhaustion.

How often do we pause and ask God if this new “opportunity” is what He wants for us? Instead of seeking His will for our many options, we make decisions based on the warm, fuzzy feeling of being needed, then we ask Him to save us from the issues of our own making.

The next time an offer comes your way, pause and turn your attention to the One who wants only the very best for you. Let Him teach you to say yes or no, to live on the firm footing of His purpose for you.
Great thoughts, Stacy. Thanks for sharing!

About Stacy Monson

Author Photo Stacy MonsonStacy Monson is the award-winning author of The Chain of Lakes series, including Shattered Image, Dance of Grace, and The Color of Truth. Her stories reveal an extraordinary God at work in ordinary life. Residing in the Twin Cities in Minnesota, she is the wife of a juggling, unicycling physical education teacher, mom to two amazing kids and two wonderful in-law kids, and a very proud grandma of 3 (and counting) grands.

You can find Stacy online at:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

Her newest book, Open Circle, releases June 21 (available for pre-order HERE!). Here’s a bit about the story:

Mindy Lee “Minnie” Carlson’s dream job has dropped into her hands, but there’s a catch. She has four months to revive Open Circle, the town’s only Senior Adult Day Center, or the doors will close, leaving her jobless, and the seniors she cares for stranded.

After decades traveling the globe and documenting the forgotten people of the world, Jackson Young discovers his beloved Grandma Em is still alive in Minnie’s small town. Overjoyed, he races back to his hometown to reconnect with her, only to discover she’s been Minnie’s surrogate grandmother for the past twenty years.

When Grandma Em has a stroke, his ideas about her care pit him against Minnie’s determination and expertise. For Grandma Em’s sake, and the future of Open Circle, they’ll need to do the impossible – find a way to work together.

To celebrate, Stacy is giving away a fun canvas tote bag with a paperback copy of Open Circle and other goodies!

(For a winner in the U.S. An international winner will receive an Amazon gift card of comparable value).

Stacy Monson Giveaway

Click below to enter the giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Introducing RJ Conte

Author Interview | Introducing RJ Conte and My Fault

Today I’m interviewing author RJ Conte about her writing, and her new release: My Fault. It looks like a fun read!

Welcome, RJ!

About You

First, please you tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

Hello!  I’m the oldest of four, formerly homeschooled, Christian wife and mother of three.  I’m an ESFJ from California who now lives in the Pacific Northwest.  😊

It’s said that authors should write the kind of book they like to read. What is your favourite genre? Who are your favourite authors?

Yes!  Issue-driven is my very favorite, but there’s so few true Christian issue-driven.

My favorite authors growing up were Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Ted Dekker.  I’d now add Bethany A Jennings, Susan Vaught, Kimberly Rae, and Elyse Fitzpatrick to that list.  😊

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why/why not?

Let’s see… I keep a file of every book I read all year.  I started that two years ago and it’s fun to look back and see what I read and what star rating I’d give it.  Each year I read over 50 books!  The last book I read was Windswept by Sarah Delana White.  It’s short and lovely – like candy.  I highly recommend it.  A sweet and unique little love story.  Sarah is an acquaintance of mine who I met through another friend, so it’s fun to read books from people you know in “real life.”

About My Fault

What kind of books do you write? Where and when are they set?

I write about those hard-hitting teen and young adult issues, but from a very overtly Christian point of view.  Every once in a while, I’ll write a little science fantasy short story – and I have plans for more speculative Christian fiction, but most of my books are contemporary and have some romance.  😊

Tell us about your latest book. What’s it about? Who will enjoy it?

“My Fault” is my first comedy. Usually I write extremely serious, often sad stories, so writing a comedy with a super quirky character was a brand new venture for me.  I LOVED doing it.  If people laugh half as hard as I did writing it, I’ll be thrilled.

“My Fault” is about a very outgoing, socially awkward young woman who is obsessed with getting to know the young man she hit while driving drunk, and making things right.  The guy is a quiet, serious, mysterious young man who seems overwhelmed by her yet doesn’t know how to say no to her.  They become really oddball friends who might develop further feelings for each other…

Well, if everyone from my 21-year-old fellow author to my 61-year-old father had a great time reading it, then I hope it will appeal to anyone!  Realistically, I expect all adult women will be its target audience.  😊

What was your motivation for writing My Fault?

I had just spent half of a year writing a much more serious, long YA novel, and needed a break.  Coming up with something short, sweet, and comedic over Christmas break was just what I needed to refresh my soul.  I also wanted to explore different ways young people get themselves into ruts when they think about God and their relationship with Him.  Cleo, the main girl, represents the young person who is flippant and apathetic about God, not even sure He’s watching or cares.  Grayson, the injured guy character, represents those who think God’s out to get them are always trying so hard to be perfect that they feel like giving up.  <3

Where did the characters and story come from? What were your influences?

The story is an idea I’ve always wanted to write.  I love the idea of love stories springing from strange places and circumstances.  I’ve always wanted to write a book about someone falling in love with the person they hit in their car.  But these specific characters sprang from specific trials I’ve had with people in my life.

Who is your favourite character and why? Do you have anything in common with him/her?

CLEO.  She says the things I sometimes only say in private to my husband.  She lets it all out, and it was a blast “being her” and in her voice and head.  😀

You said your main character is on the spectrum. Where did that idea come from?

Yes!  I never planned for Cleo to be an Aspy (have Asperger’s) but my mom, who worked with handicapped children and young adults as a school teacher, identified in that right away.  I embraced it and ran with it.  I’m not marketing her as official Asperger’s because that can be a sensitive topic to do correctly, and I wanted her to have the freedom to be herself, but between you and me and the blog readers, she’s definitely on the spectrum.  😊

What are you working on at the moment? What other books do you plan to write?

Right now I’m preparing to pitch that serious YA novel from last year at the Realm Makers writing convention in July.  I’m also loosely beginning to plot a speculative YA Christian book.  😊

About your writing

What motivated you to start writing?  When did you seriously start writing? How long did it take before you published your first book?

I’ve been telling stories since I could speak, and wrote my first story in my diary on my 7th birthday.  I didn’t self-publish for the first time, however, until I was twenty-years-old.

What made you choose to write for the Christian market?

I don’t have to support a family or write to market in any way, which frees me up to make my writing a ministry – and that’s what it is.  I dislike the business side of things, although I’m always learning and improving that aspect of my work, and really embrace my writing being a God-led ministry to young adults.  <3

What do you see as the main differences between fiction written for the Christian market compared with the general market?

Christians clamp down on anything original, and put writers and artists in a box.  Publishers for Christian fiction tend to be close-minded and unapproachable.  It’s sad, frustrating, and unfortunate, so to get my unique and REAL brand of writing out to young adults who desperately need something other than fluffy unoriginal love triangles, and whatever else the Christian market mass produces, I have to self-publish.  Thank the Lord that Amazon has really made it easy to do so, and that my books are now hitting readers successfully!

Do your novels have an overt faith element?

Yes!  I wrote two novellas, both my only books published under Clean Reads, and two speculative short stories, all of which are still moral in nature, before deciding once and for all that I want to exclusively write Christian fiction as a ministry.

Is writing for the Christian market harder or easier than writing for the general market? Why?

Yes.  Christians publishers tend to be picky, cliquish, and not open-minded, unfortunately.  ☹

What advice do you have for someone seeking to write and publish a novel?

Get coaching, take classes, read books on craft, and be prepared to spend the money to put out a book of value.  Don’t do anything half-hearted, and humbly join groups that will correct where you’re doing less than you could.  Listen to advice and learn from it.  Be open to change!

Thank you so much for having me!

About My Fault

“I realized his eyes had lost that wary look. They were the bluest blue. Bluer than my favorite coffee mug. Bluer than the Solonaise County Public Pool when it’s actually been cleaned at the beginning of the summer before all those little kids in their floaties come and pee in it.”

Quirky Cleo Stanton has a problem: she’s falling for the guy she ran over with her car when she should not have been driving.

The devout Christian and quietly mysterious, Grayson Fox is as cute as he is kind, begrudgingly putting up with Cleo and her motor mouth. But will he ever forgive her for crushing his leg? Can she break him out of his shell? And what hilarity will ensue when the flamboyant Cleo tries to draw him out?

Find My Fault online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

About RJ Conte

Author Image - RJ ConteRJ Conte has kissed only one boy in her entire life. And she married him, inspiring her to write about sweet or powerful love stories ever since.

She writes a blog on parenting, publishing, painting, and perorating at

She also has recently begun a book review and rating website for parents to make informed decisions on what to allow their children to read:

RJ Conte writes realistic, issue-driven fiction that explores human nature and the depths of the soul, while pointing readers to their Creator.

Find RJ Conte online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter


Introducing Jennifer Haynie

Author Interview | Introducing Jennifer Haynie and Loose Ends

I’d like to introduce Jennifer Haynie, author of Loose Ends, which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago (click here to read my review).  Jennifer is visiting the blog today to share a little about herself, her reading habits, and her writing.

About You

First, please you tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I grew up in North Carolina, right near Fort Bragg.  No, I’m not an Army brat.  I’m the daughter of a paediatrician, and my parents selected Fayetteville for its potential to grow.

How many books have you published?

I’ve published six indie books and one via a traditional publisher.  The publisher went out of business, so I’m seeking to rework the novel since it was my first novel ever published.

Which of your books is your personal favourite, and why?

Wow.  That’s a great question.  If I had to choose, I’d probably say The Athena File.  I greatly enjoyed putting the characters of David and Abigail together.  Jonathan, too.  I also liked the issues they dealt with because right now, they’re extremely relevant.

It’s said that authors should write the kind of book they like to read. What is your favourite genre? Who are your favourite authors?

Suspense is my favorite genre.  Some of my fave authors are Irene Hannon, DiAnn Mills, Lee Child, and David Baldacci.

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why/why not?

I just read an Irene Hannon novel called Tangled Webs which is the last instalment of her Men of Valor series.  Very good.  All three of those books were good.

Sounds great!

About your book

What kind of books do you write?

I write suspense novels that have inspirational undertones.  The characters are complex and real, with wide varieties of backstories.  I wanted to ensure that on some level, readers could identify with them.

Tell us about Loose Ends. Who will enjoy it?

Anyone who enjoys suspense, both men and women would enjoy it.  Also, I know there are many readers out there who crave a deeper relationship with the characters in suspense novels.  I make sure to include lots of action going on, both on an emotional and action level.

There is a lot of action and suspense in Loose Ends. Dare I ask how much of this is based on personal knowledge and experience?

Nope.  😊  None.  My life is pretty boring compared to Alex’s.

This is good to hear. Alex is kind of scary.

Loose Ends also features a variety of locations, some beautiful and exotic. How did you research these locations?

I like to look at pictures.  Also, sometimes, I’m lucky enough to have been close or to locales.  In Loose Ends, while I didn’t go to the British Virgin Islands, I’ve been to the US Virgin Islands twice.  Close enough.

Loose Ends also features characters from a variety of racial, cultural, and geographic backgrounds, which is outside the norm for Christian fiction. What inspired you to write across these boundaries, and how did you research this?

I recently read a blog about the need for diversity in Christian fiction and in fiction in general.  I kind of fell into having diverse racial and cultural backgrounds.  For some reason, the Middle East (and Southwest Asia) have always intrigued me.  I’ve read lots of books related to the cultures, and I also work hard as I revise manuscripts to put myself into the character, in essence, getting all the way into their heads.

Many of your characters have unusual names. What do their names mean, and does that influence their character or actions in any way?

I liked Alex’s name.  Of course, she’s named after her mother, Roya Alexandra Thornton.  Alex strikes her personality.  She’s a bold person, certainly not a timid girlie girl.

I think Jabir’s name is probably one of my favorites.  In Loose Ends as well as Panama Deception, he’s more laid back.  Jabir in Arabic means comforter, and as things unravel in Loose Ends, his role as comforter becomes apparent.

I love that!

Who is your favourite character and why? Do you have anything in common with him/her?

In Loose Ends, my favorite character is probably Alex, though I have to say that when I began weaving Tiny’s story into the plot, he grew on me.  But in terms of Alex, she and I have some common interests (I’m not a girlie girl either).  She also struggles to overcome, and I admire women who push through adversity to triumph.

I think that’s what I liked most about Alex as well!

Loose Ends has a lot more of a faith element than most Christian suspense novels I read. What made you choose to have such an overt faith element?

God gave me this gift of writing.  One of the reasons why He did so was so He could touch lives in an unusual way.  That’s probably the big reason why I have faith elements in my novels.  Also, sometimes I get the impression that some people, both those who are believers and those who aren’t, see Christians as boring.  Hah.  Far from it.  Christians truly living out their faith are dynamic people.

At the same time, Loose Ends also has more of a gritty feel than most other Christian suspense novels. It almost feels like a general market novel in that respect. Do you consider you’re writing for Christians, or that you’re writing novels with Christian characters?

I’m writing novels with Christian characters because I want those who aren’t Christians to pick it up and read.  I know that most non-Christians would never venture into the CBA.  If they did, many would see the plots as too unrealistic due to the restrictions many traditional publishers place on their writers.  Life is gritty, and I want my work to reflect that but also see that it’s possible to write a novel that’s more a reflection of the sometimes harsh realities in which we live yet show how Christian characters can overcome in such settings.

I liked the fact Loose Ends was a lot more gritty than most CBA fiction. I understand the restrictions CBA authors have, but wish it wasn’t so. It reinforces the insular Christian bubble.

What do you see as the main differences between fiction written for the Christian market compared with the general market?

I touched on it in the question above.  If a writer is writing in the CBA, traditional publishers often place restrictions on what characters can do, say, etc.  Think Love Inspired Romantic Suspense novels.  Sometimes, those restrictions can create unrealistic settings and scenes.

Love Inspired is probably one of the more conservative Christian lines, which is ironic considering they are part of Harlequin Mills & Boon, which have several imprints where the romance is a lot more hot and heavy. I guess they know their market and the expectations of their readers. But there are other readers who would like gritty faith-based novels.

What are you working on now? What other books are in the pipeline?

That’s a great question.  I’m what I call “hot-drafting” the second book to the Athena Trilogy, which will be called No Options.  Once I let that sit for a bit, I’m turning my attention to my first traditionally published novel, Exiled Heart.  Since the publisher went out of business last year, I got my rights back, and that enables me to rework it to be more of my current writing style (It was my first ever published, hence I don’t like my writing).  I hope to have that one out at the end of the year.

I’ve heard most published authors don’t like their early books, so you’re not alone in this.

You also told me you’re getting a puppy. How cute! Does s/he have a name? Are there pictures?

Clyde aged 8 weeksYes, we got Clyde on the 18th of March.  Now we have Bonnie and Clyde, the Outlaws.  I’ll be glad to attach pictures.  😊  Always.

What fabulous names! And cute puppy (just don’t tell my cat I said that. She’s the jealous type).
Thanks for visiting, Jennifer! Readers, what question would you like to ask Jennifer? Let us know in the comments.

About Jennifer Haynie

Author Photo: Jennifer HaynieAfter being an avid reader of suspense fiction for most of her life, Jennifer Haynie began writing and publishing suspense novels in 2012.  She has now written over five indie suspense novels.  In her spare time, she works for the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, enjoys working out, and loves traveling.  She currently lives outside of Raleigh with her husband and their Basenji dogs.


You can find Jennifer Haynie online at:

Website | Facebook  | PinterestTwitter

About Loose Ends

Hot off her first mission as a Unit 28 contractor agent, Alex Thornton wants nothing more than to focus on building a life with Jabir al-Omri, her best friend and boyfriend of five months.

A secret chains Jabir, one with such dire consequences that seeking freedom from it will cost him dearly. He finds himself caught between honoring those he cares about and being completely truthful with Alex.

Hashim al-Hassan craves vengeance against the woman who deceived him ten years before. The target of his wrath? Alex.

When Alex and Jabir receive an assignment to find the murderers of a shipping executive, their investigation brings them to the attention of Hashim. He begins stalking her. The bodies pile up, and people disappear.

Now, with Alex squarely within Hashim’s crosshairs, Jabir yearns to tell her what he knows. Yet the truth may destroy both her and those she loves the most.

Find Loose Ends online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

You can read the introduction to Loose Ends below:

Introducing Toni Shiloh

Author Interview | Introducing Toni Shiloh

Today I’m interviewing Toni Shiloh about life, reading, writing, and her latest release, Grace Restored. It’s contemporary Christian romance with an emphasis on Christian. Welcome, Toni!

About You

First, please you tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I’m from the great state of Texas. I was born and raised there but I haven’t lived there since I was 18. I joined the Air Force straight out of high school, met my husband, and after serving and his commitment to the Air Force ended, we’ve moved based on his job. We now reside in Virginia with our two boys.

It’s said that authors should write the kind of book they like to read. What is your favourite genre? Who are your favourite authors?

I love romance books. I don’t care if the romance is historical, suspenseful, or even in a dystopian setting. As long as there is romance, I’m there. 🙂 My favourite authors (in no ranking order) are Ronie Kendig, Lynette Eason, Becky Wade, Jennifer Peel, Irene Hannon, Jennifer Rodewald, and Sarah Monzon, to a name a few.

Some great authors in that list 🙂

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why/why not?

The last book I read was Finding Evergreen by Jennifer Rodewald. It was superb. I would recommend anything she’s written, her books are that fantastic.

I’m currently reading Finding Evergreen,and will review it next week!

About your book

Tell us a little about Grace Restored. Who do you think will enjoy it?

I’ll tell you a little secret, Grace Restored is my favourite book I’ve written. I know some authors don’t choose, but Michelle and Guy’s story is it for me. The heartache they go through, the friendships that are made, and the discovery of God’s grace seals the deal. I think anyone searching for those elements in a story will enjoy it.

Grace Restored has a lot more of a Christian theme than many contemporary Christian romances I read. What made you choose to write for the Christian market and include such overt faith elements?

The grace I received from God was so overwhelming, I let Him know that I wanted to be used by Him. When I realized (through completing my Bachelor’s degree) that I had some talent in writing, I surrendered it to Him. I can’t imagine writing books without the faith elements because faith is my life.

And I love the way it comes through in Grace Restored 🙂

Quote from Grace Restored by Toni Shiloh: Michelle wished she had that kind of peace. Thankfully, the more she talked to God, the more it seemed within reach.

Most Christian fiction seems to focus on people of European ancestry, with the occasional Native American character. Why do you think this is?

I think statistically speaking there are more writers from a European ancestry than others. However, there are many African American writers in Christian fiction, they are just hard to find because they often end up in the African American section of a bookstore versus the Christian fiction section.

Guy is Haitian, although he was raised in Freedom Lake. How has his different cultural heritage influenced his life?

You can see the influences in his speech, his mannerisms when people are welcomed into his home. Like other people who have a different culture than the place of their birth, he can assimilate depending on who he is interacting with.

I loved the way he’d slip into a version of French.

There are a lot of broken characters in Grace Restored, which links to your main theme of restoration. What prompted you to choose this theme?

I knew Guy and Michelle would end up together before I wrote their story. As I wrote, Freedom Lake book one in the series, bits and pieces of their story came to me and I realized just how broken they were. I knew they needed to discover the saving grace of God and there the theme was born.

Grace Restored is set in the town of Freedom Lake? Is that a real place?

It’s not. I found freedom in creating a fictional setting. You can make it your own without the worry of offending people from an actual real setting.

You drop a few hints about the history of Freedom Lake as a town. What can you tell us about Freedom Lake, and how the town influenced your plot and characters?

Freedom Lake is based off a real place. In times of segregation in the US, African Americans needed a place to getaway and relax. There were AA towns in different places of the U.S. where they could go and vacation without the worries of breaking a Jim Crow law. Freedom Lake represents those towns but in a modern setting where segregation is no longer.

How interesting!

It is said that reading great Christian fiction should challenge the reader’s ideas and beliefs. How do you hope Grace Restored challenges your readers?

I pray that after they finish, they have gained compassion and empathy for their fellowman. That they will search themselves and see if they’re refusing grace in an area they desperately need it. Most of all, I hope it draws them closer to God.

What are you working on now? Can we look forward to another story from Freedom Lake?

Most definitely! Book three has already been written it just needs the wonderful works of revisions and editing. 🙂 Before I get to that, I will be finishing book four in the Maple Run series.

About Toni Shiloh

Author Photo - Toni ShilohToni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace of the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior.
She writes soulfully romantic novels to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

Before pursuing her dream as a writer, Toni served in the United States Air Force. It was there she met her husband. After countless moves, they ended up in Virginia, where they are raising their two boys.

When she’s not typing in imagination land, Toni enjoys reading, playing video games, making jewelry, and spending time with her family.

Toni is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) as well as the president of the ACFW Virginia Chapter.

You can find Toni Shiloh online at:

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About Grace Restored

Michelle Thomas has it all. Beautiful and successful, she’s just opened her own law firm in Freedom Lake. What more could she want? When her old flame rolls back into Freedom Lake, she’s intent on ignoring him. But how can she give the widower and his precious twin girls the cold shoulder?

Still reeling from the death of his wife, Guy Pierre returns to Returning Home to take over as town sheriff and raise his twin daughters. Alone. Yet, life keeps throwing Michelle in his path and sparks of interest began to rise.

Will old secrets tear them apart again or can they find the faith to let God’s grace restore what has been broken?

You can find Grace Restored online at:

Amazon | Barnes & NobleGoodreads | iTunesKobo

Introducing Christine Dillon

Author Interview | Christine Dillon

Today I’m delighted to welcome author Christine Dillon, to share about the release of her debut novel, Grace in Strange Disguise. Full disclosure: I edited Grace in Strange Disguise, so of course I think it’s excellent.

Welcome, Christine!

Christine DillonChristine never intended to become an author. If she ever thought about writing it was to wonder if she might write a missionary biography. So it was a surprise to her to write poetry, non-fiction and now be working on a novel.

Christine has worked in Taiwan, with OMF International, since 1999. It’s best not to ask Christine, “Where are you from?” She’s a missionary kid who isn’t sure if she should say her passport country (Australia) or her Dad’s country (New Zealand) or where she’s spent most of her life (Asia – Taiwan, Malaysia and the Philippines).

Christine used to be a physiotherapist, but now writes ‘storyteller’ on airport forms. She has written a book on storytelling and spends her time either telling Bible stories or training others to do so.

In her spare time, Christine loves all things active – hiking, cycling, swimming, snorkelling. But she also likes reading and genealogical research, as that satisfies her desire to be an historical detective.

Welcome, Christine! We’ll start off with some quick questions so we get to know you a little better.

What is your favourite fruit?


That’s showing your tropical upbringing!

Which is your favourite season?

I love all seasons but winter. Spring for flowers and promise of summer, summer for clear skies and temperatures and autumn for crisp air and colours.

Where is your favourite place?

Anywhere in NZ’s great outdoors or Taroko Gorge in Taiwan or a valley in Malaysia where I went to primary school.

What is your favourite Bible verse?

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 God uses the weak … so that no one can boast before him. If I feel weak (which I do) then I qualify to be used by God.

I love that!

What’s something funny or quirky that not many people know about you?

I still collect stamps (NZ,UK, Australia) which is a hobby that doesn’t usually continue into adulthood.

My husband, father, and father-in-law all collect stamps. I preferred coins, especially as reminders of places I’ve travelled.

Now, let’s talk about your book, Grace in Strange Disguise. Here’s the description off the back cover:

Physiotherapist Esther Macdonald is living the Australian dream, and it doesn’t surprise her.

After all, her father has always said, “Follow Jesus and be blessed.” But at twenty-eight, her world shatters. Everyone assures her God will come through for her, but what happens when he doesn’t? Has she offended God? Is her faith too small? So many conflicting explanations.

Will finding the truth cost her the people closest to her heart?

What inspired the plot of Grace in Strange Disguise?

I never intended to write fiction but while I was having a prayer day, the idea for two novels dropped in to my head. It took more than six years before I wrote two practice novels and then dared to start working on the first of the two original ideas.

Who is your favourite character in this book, and why?

I’m not much of one to play favourites. I like Joy and Naomi because they’ve been through a lot but shine like refined gold. I like Rob Boyle and Paul Webster because they’re like so many non-Christian Australian men, using humour to avoid confronting Jesus. I had fun writing their dialogue. I have had many conversations like the ones in the book with Australian men.

I think Kiwi men are much the same. They only get really passionate and demonstrative when it comes to sport (especially when the All Blacks play the Wallabies).

Esther took a while for me to like because it isn’t easy to write the first part of a person’s journey when they are not mature. By the end of the book, I’d love to be her friend and sit around talking about the Bible with her, Gina, Joy and Naomi.

But novels are about personal growth, and that was Esther’s challenge.

Esther’s father and fiancé both have some misguided ideas about Christianity. How common are such ideas in the modern church?

Far too common. Many Christians don’t realise how strongly they’re influenced by the world around them – via media or what others say. What the Bible says can be drowned out. Knowing our Bibles takes hard work and so much of it is contrary to what we naturally think. For example, it feels so ‘natural’ to hold grudges rather than to forgive.

I constantly hear people say things that suggest that they really think that God should make their lives smooth or that he somehow owes them. One context that you hear these ideas is if you have ill health or a disabled child. Even Christians will suggest, “what have you done to deserve this.” Many people within the church are closet ‘Buddhists’ in that they really believe (deep down, like Job’s friends) the law of Karma is true (if you do good, good will happen and vice versa).

Is there a particular theme or message in Grace in Strange Disguise?

The title gives us one of the themes but you’ll have to read the book to work out how many of the characters the title is linked with. I’m aware of at least four, and there’ll be more in books two and three.

Grace in Strange Disguise raises ideas of what is God there for? What are his purposes for us? Why doesn’t he always answer our prayers in the way we want?

Will there be a sequel to Grace in Strange Disguise? What can you tell us about it?

Yes, at the moment I can see two more books. Iola, you’re largely responsible for this because you were the one who told me my ‘standalone’ book was really one and a half books.

Yeah … #SorryNotSorry. I think this version of Grace in Strange Disguise is much stronger than the first version I read, and I’m looking forward to the completed second book!

I’m only in the planning stages so I’m not ready to say too much. The best way to keep up-to-date is to become a ‘storyteller friend’ (subscriber) and/or join the Facebook group – storytellerchristine.

One of my favourite characters in Grace in Strange Disguise is Joy. Is she based on a real person?

Not really. But she is an amalgam of the people I’ve read about in biographies of Chinese Christians. People who stand firm for their faith no matter the cost. I wanted to have an Asian believer because I’ve lived and work as a church planter in Taiwan since 1999. I want my books to be broader than simply one people group. So the book reflects the backgrounds of many Australians in that we have people of Scottish, Irish, Chinese, Indian and Italian backgrounds.

New Zealand is a similar melting pot of cultures, although we have fewer Irish and Italians. We have a lot of Koreans in my city, which means we have some excellent Asian restaurants!

Joy tells stories taken from the Bible. What’s the story behind that?

In 2004, I was introduced to Bible storytelling. Once I got over my initial prejudices against it, I discovered a tool that I’ve used nearly every day since. My life and ministry is filled with telling Bible stories to people of all ages and nationalities, and training others in this tool. Joy’s use of stories gives me an opportunity to show people how to set up opportunities and to use it naturally in everyday life. Visit for more information.

What do you find is the easiest part of the writing and publishing process? What’s the hardest?

I find it different with non-fiction and fiction. For me the easiest for non-fiction was the planning and the hardest the editing.

For fiction, formatting proved to be the easiest because I use Vellum. It only takes about an hour.

Hardest was the planning process. However, if I do it correctly, then the writing should be much easier and the editing process should also be shorter (and cheaper).

What impact does your faith have on your writing?

I wouldn’t even have started writing if I hadn’t been convinced that God was asking me to do it. The journey is too hard unless you’re called to it.

There have been many times I wanted to quit and God has provided the perseverance or sent someone to encourage me or alerted me to a resource that will help me. You are one of those answers to my prayer.

Thank you! It’s been a pleasure working with you, and I’ve learned a lot from you as well.

What’s your favourite fiction genre, and why?

This is hard to answer. I like historical where I learn something. I also like thriller and mystery, but don’t think I’m clever enough to write them. I also like Christian fiction that deals with issues that we all face and that inspires me to follow Jesus more closely.

I think that’s the hardest kind of Christian fiction to write, but it’s certainly the most rewarding to read.

What book (or books) are you currently reading?

This changes rapidly at the moment and for the last nine months I’ve been reading Christian fiction, trying to understand the world I’m entering. I’m about to read my first Catherine West and Charles Martin. Both are Christian authors that have been highly recommended.

I know you only give five-star reviews to books you believe are impact into eternity. What are five Christian fiction books you’d place in this category?

* A Long Highway Home (Elizabeth Musser)
* Safely Home (Randy Alcorn)
* When the Shofar Blew and the Mark of the Lion trilogy (Francine Rivers)
* Screwtape Letters and the Narnia series (CS Lewis)

I haven’t yet read Safely Home, but I’ve read all the others and agree 100%.

Finally …

Where can we find Grace in Strange Disguise online?

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Kobo |Nook

Where can we find you online?

Author Website | Bible Storytelling | Facebook | Pinterest


Thank you, Christine! It’s been great to learn more about Grace in Strange Disguise.

Readers, what question would you like to ask Christine? Let us know in the comments! Meanwhile, you can read the introduction to Grace in Strange Disguise below, and go in the draw to win a Kindle copy.

Introducing Dr Richard Mabry

Author Interview | Dr Richard Mabry

Today I’d like to welcome author Dr Richard Mabry, to share about his new release, Cardiac Event. Richard says:

Richard MabryI’m a retired physician who, in addition to writing, is a husband and grandfather, plays (and enjoys) golf, and does the hundred-and-one other things that retired people do.

Now I’m writing what I call “medical suspense with heart.” My novels have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Award, Romantic Times’ Best Inspirational Novel and their Reviewer’s Choice Award, have won the Selah award, and been named by Christian Retailing as the best in the mystery/suspense/thriller category. My latest novel is CARDIAC EVENT, which has been given a 4 1/2 star rating and a “Top Pick” by Romantic Times. I’ve also published three novellas, the latest one DOCTOR’S DILEMMA.

Welcome, Richard!

We’ll start off with some quick questions so we get to know you a little better.

What is your favourite fruit?

Seedless green grapes (because I can grab a handful as I go by).

Which is your favourite season?

Spring (For those of you living where there aren’t four distinct seasons, let me recommend Texas. Sometimes we get all four within a day or two.)

New Zealand has the same problem. It’s supposed to be spring at the moment, and today has had bright summer sunshine and thundering winter rain.

Where is your favourite place?

I’ve been fortunate enough, in my days as a practitioner and later a medical school professor, to go all over the world, teaching and lecturing. But now I agree with the line from the Wizard of Oz—There’s no place like home.

What is your favourite Bible verse?

I hang on to Jeremiah 29:11, because I know that, however dark things look, God has a plan for all of us.

That’s probably my favourite as well.

What’s something funny or quirky that not many people know about you?

I’ve gotten to know a number of sports figures—former big league baseball players, professional football players, well-known golfers—and none of them asked for my autograph. Can’t understand it.


Now, let’s talk about your book, Cardiac Event. Here’s the description off the back cover:

Cardiologist Dr. Kirk Martin continually crosses swords with Dr. Cliff Hamilton, so he is surprised when Hamilton asks him to care for him after a heart attack. When he is ready for discharge, Hamilton is found dead in his hospital bed, and Martin is suspected of murdering him.

After another doctor is found shot to death, Martin’s girlfriend, nurse Janet Rush, reminds him to be careful because he may be next. Can he save his own life while searching for the identity of the real murderer?

What inspired the plot of Cardiac Event?

Believe it or not, sometimes doctors get cross-ways with each other, and some of those enmities run deep. I started wondering, “What if one of those doctors was called upon to treat another in a life-and-death situation?” Then I took it further. “And what if the other doctor died?” That was the basis for the novel.

Sounds exciting! I’m about to start reading it, and will review it in the next week or so.

You’re a retired doctor, and you write medical thrillers. How much of your former life do you bring into your fiction?

I don’t have the advantage some people think I have, because I rarely incorporate a scenario I’ve experienced into my novels. However, I do have an advantage because I speak the language and know how doctors will react in certain situations.

Do you ever find yourself tempted to change medical fact to ensure a better story? How do you strike the balance between getting the details right, and writing a thrilling medical thriller?

Most of the time I stick to accepted medical facts, because if I don’t, someone who is in active practice will let me know. I can recall one time when I “invented” a disease and a treatment, and I got a number of queries from people who’d read Miracle Drug and wondered if they should be vaccinated for that potentially fatal infection.

I get the impression medical science is always changing. How difficult is it to stay up-to-date—both as a practicing doctor, and as a writer?

It’s very difficult. I haven’t been in active practice for more than a decade, but I still keep my license current and read the literature. Most of my research now is done on the computer, and I do a lot of it with each book.

What do you find is the easiest part of the writing and publishing process? What’s the hardest?

The hardest part? Coming up with a scheme for a new novel, without repeating myself. The easiest part for me? Revising after an editor has made suggestions. Notice I didn’t say anything about marketing and publicity. I was doing most of that myself, even when I worked with a publisher, so that hasn’t changed much when I “indie-released” Cardiac Event.

Interesting! I’ve heard a lot of authors say they loathe the editing process, so it’s good to find someone who doesn’t.

What impact does your faith have on your writing?

I tried writing novels that contained a “call to commitment” or showed a step-by-step “road to salvation,” but that didn’t work for me. Rather, what I do is portray real people—believers, skeptics, and searchers—in real situations and try to show how God can work in their lives.

I think you do a great job with that! Some authors can make that call to commitment or road to salvation work, but it’s hard to do without coming across as preachy.

What’s your favourite fiction genre, and why?

I read—and have read for years—mysteries and detective stories. They allow me to use my powers of deduction (if the author plays fair), and serve as a wonderful get-away from the problems we all face in everyday life. Besides, I can occasionally “borrow” one of the ideas I read there.

What book (or books) are you currently reading?

Although I will often take a break to read a new book, I find myself time after time re-reading the work of the author whose writing I admire: the late Robert B. Parker. He’s able to paint a picture, using simple, declarative sentences, a picture that lets me be a part of the action. I have to skip some of the language, but then again, I have encountered it on the baseball diamond and golf course, so it’s nothing new.

What’s next for you?

I’m doing the final edits on a novella that I’ll release about December 1. Surgeon’s Choice is about an engaged doctor who wonders if another doctor is behind a series of mishaps that he’s encountered. Then, when people start dying, he really gets worried.

Next year will see the release of my next novel, Guarded Prognosis. In it, a young surgeon gets a call from his father who has just received a potentially fatal diagnosis. The older man doesn’t want his son’s medical help, though. He simply wants a pledge of his assistance in ending his own life.

Finally …

Where can we find Cardiac Event online?

The e-book is only available from Amazon in Kindle format (although there is a free app, available from Amazon, that allows it to be read on computers). The print book is available from Barnes and Noble, and eBay.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble |eBay

Where can we find you online?

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Thank you, Richard! It’s been great to meet you, and learn more about Cardiac Event.

Readers, what question would you like to ask Richard? Let us know in the comments! Meanwhile, you can read the introduction to Cardiac Event below: