Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Introducing Special Guests: Characters from Deborah Kinnard's "Angel With a Back Hoe"

Welcome back, friends! I'm very excited to bring to you an interview with the characters of Deborah Kinnard's new book Angel With a Back Hoe, which is releasing tomorrow, 10/1/09 from Desert Breeze Publishing. If you enjoyed Deb's Angel With a Ray Gun, then you know you can expect a great read. So, allow me to introduce to you the two main characters of this modern day romance, Diane Marshall, and Paul Cameron.

Hi, Diane. It's great to meet you in person. I'm so glad you decided to share your story with Deborah. Before your story starts, you are trying to overcome a broken heart. Would you say that that was the most important event in your life up to that time? Why or why not?

It sure was traumatic. It even shook my faith to some extent. See, I figured God had answered prayer. I just didn't know He was saying "no". Maybe I was too stubborn or set on my own way, to see that at the time.

What did your parents think about you choosing the line of work you are in? Was going against convention this way difficult for your family to accept?

Mom was all for it, probably because she had a conventional "woman's" job her entire working life. By now she's bored by it and can't wait to retire. My dad left when I was small, and as far as my brother Connor--I never cared what he thought one way or another. Connor's a jerk.

My first impression after reading your story, is that you struggle with a fair amount of insecurity. Would you agree; and, how did you, with that disposition, ever decide to become a lady building contractor?

In high school I was good at math and the science courses that dealt with physical things. Sometimes I was better than the guys! They'd tease me and call me a wonk and suggest I get glasses so I'd look the part. I suppose I learned to develop a thick skin early. I also learned to hide how it hurt, sometimes, and get secure in myself in a different way than some other girls do. Prayer helped a lot! In college, the counselors looked at my grades and test scores, and asked if I'd ever considered engineering. I said, "I sure have!" and the rest, I guess, is history.

Prior to coming to DeBrett and facing up to your insecurities and the chance for a new life, is there anyplace you habitually felt uneasy, or least at home?

I can't think of anywhere--except anywhere Connor is. Did I mention he's a jerk?

Many of us would like to know how you were first introduced to Deborah Kinnard? Was it a fast friendship right away?

Not at first. I met her at church. She's a little older than me and has a big laugh and a bit of a loud mouth. We shared a table at a Christmas event the year before Paul and I met, and I got a chance to talk with her. She's a kind lady though most people don't realize that at first.

What made you decide to share your story with her?

I didn't, not consciously. But she talked about how a woman can feel powerless, and can become resentful of God, whose timing is always exactly right. She told me she'd had a similar experience to mine with Nick, and it really deepened our friendship. Once Paul and I were engaged, I confessed the whole thing .

Are the two of you very much alike? If so, in what way? How are your personalities different?

She thinks we're similar, but we're not. She's spent her entire career in a mundane sort of job. She wanted to be a doctor but was held back and held herself back, I think. I saw what I could be good at, and went for it.

Might you ever work with her again in the future? (Maybe give us a sequel?)

It's possible--you never know! Maybe she'll settle right here in DeBrett once she retires!

Did you ever keep a journal while your were enamoured of Nick? And if you did, what sort of things would Paul find if he looked in it?

I did keep one for a short while. When Nick linked up with Lauren, I got very upset one night and I burned it. So that's one thing I don't have to worry about Paul reading!

What's going on with you these days, if you can tell us without spoiling the story?

Paul and I are hoping to start a family. That hasn't happened yet. He's fine with that so far, but I'm feeling a little anxious about it. Meantime, I'm establishing RCS-South, and we've already got several renovation jobs lined up for next season. I work from home, and I love it.

How are all the folks in DeBrett? Anything exciting going on there since the story?

Actually, yes. Joe Texidor and...well, he told me not to tell anybody. Trouble is, in this small a community, everyone I'm not supposed to tell has already heard!

Is there anything about Paul that you would change if you could?

He's too careless sometimes. I'd change that, maybe...although this impulsive nature is part of what I love most. He's in love with life, and it shows. This is how God made him to live, and the reckless ways are all part of that. I try to get his back and keep him as safe as a wife can.

Have Nick and Paul ever met?

No, and I hope they don't. I'm not sure what Paul would say to him. See reckless nature above.

What's the most romantic date you've been on lately?

We drove up to Oakwood to see Pam, Mom and his parents. Paul took me back to my favorite Polynesian restaurant, the one we went to the night he proposed. That place will always have great memories. Plus, they serve very tasty fish!

Thanks, Diane.

Well, Paul. You've been listening patiently while Diane has told us a few things about the two of you. What about you? How do you feel about sharing your story with thousands of people? Can you tell us anything about the process of sharing your story with Deborah?

It was all my wife's idea. Kind of a woman thing. I don't see why women are always making fairy tales out of everything, but Diane wanted to do it, so... I'm a bit more private than my wife is. I'm the one who made Mrs. Kinnard change our names and the name of our town, though. I don't want a fan club!
I can tell you're a ladies' man. Have you ever known to write love letters? To whom? Diane, or your former wife? Anybody else?

I stick to e-mail. And I don't get soppy. If I like you, I'll tell you to your face.

Were you as much of a romantic before you became a believer?

I barely remember the time before I became a believer...nah, that's not quite true. I don't really like to dwell on the past much. Before I believed, I guess I got around quite a bit with women. I like women. But I didn't treat them like people, maybe. I had fun dating, and I'm, like, a normal guy. Do we HAVE to talk about this?

Well, how about one more question on that. Does Diane ever get jealous?

I don't know yet. I don't pay much attention to other ladies, if that's what you mean. If a guy gets married, he oughta pay attention to the lady he's got. If he wants to run around, he should stay single.

How about you?
Well, there was this guy who hurt her pretty bad, before me. If I ever run into him, I'm going to take him apart and put him back together inside out. But no, I'm not jealous of a git like that.

Have you and Diane disagreed about anything recently? Are you willing to tell us what about, if so?

All our disagreements are based on her doing stuff she shouldn't do. Mostly on the job sites. She's not very big. I tell her when she's overdoing it, and she knows I'm usually right. So she stops doing that stuff. I think.

If you can tell us, would you be willing to share what some of your current hopes are for the future, now that so much has changed in your life?

Like, do I want kids and stuff? Sure. Most of that stuff is private, though. I want Diane's business to grow and all that, so she has a bunch of trusty employees by the time God sees fit to give us kids. My own gig is doing all right just like it is. And I think I'd like to go on missions trips in Central America, if the Lord allows. I haven't talked about that with her, so don't mention it, okay?

Well, I can see that you guys know how to keep things hopping in your relationship. I bet readers will want to know all about it from the beginning. I believe they can check your lives out further by visiting Deb's site: or by hopping over to Desert Breeze Publishing and downloading the Angel With a Back Hoe for their Kindle.
Deborah Kinnard likes writing "Sassy Fiction for Today's Christian Woman". She is the author of Angel With a Ray Gun which has recieved a Coffee Time Romance award, and she is slated to release Seasons in the Mist, a medievel time-travel romance with Sheaf House in the spring of 2010.
You can read a book exam/review of Angel With a Back Hoe over at the Write Reason Blog

Friday, September 11, 2009

Introducing Special Guests: Characters from Cindy Woodsmall's "The Hope of Refuge"

Today I’m pleased to introduce to readers a few of the residents of Dry Lake, Pennsylvania, the community created in Cindy Woodsmall newest novel “The Hope of Refuge”, published by Waterbrook Press. Cindy will be sitting in on the interview as well. Here’s the jacket synopsis:

Raised in foster care and now a widowed single parent, New Yorker Cara Moore struggles against poverty, fear, and a relentless stalker. When a trail of memories leads Cara and her daughter, Lori, away from the city toward an Amish community, she follows every lead, eager for answers to mysteries from her past and a fresh start. She quickly discovers that Dry Lake, Pennsylvania, is no place for an outsider. But one Amish man, Ephraim Mast, dares to fulfill the command he believes that he received from God —“Be me to her”—even though doing so threatens his way of life.
Fearful of the strange Englischer woman causing turmoil for her family, Ephraim’s sister Deborah tries to focus on the marriage and home she longs to begin with Mahlon Stolzfus. Her dreams are threatened when her fiancĂ© begins behaving oddly, withdrawing, causing concern for both Deborah and Mahlon’s mother, Ada. Will Ada’s vision for transforming a run-down house unite them all in a common purpose—or push Mahlon away forever?
Torn between the requirements of his community and trying to do what he believes is right, Ephraim risks losing everything, including a developing friendship with the guarded single mother. And only he knows that long-held secrets about her family history ripple beneath the surface of Dry Lake—secrets with the power to tear apart the home Cara is desperately trying to create.

I’m going to start with Cara, who’s shown a remarkable amount of bravery, though not by choice, I’m sure. Cara, you’ve struggled with a lot of fear and mistrust in your life. What made you willing to share your story with Cindy? And what was it like working with her?

“It was difficult at first to open up to anyone, but through my friendships with Ephraim, Ada, and Deborah I’m starting to understand that some people are trustworthy. Since people I’ve learned to trust told Cindy about me before we met, I found it easier to talk to her than I would have otherwise. She seems to put a lot of effort into truly hearing the story behind the simplicity of the words I share, and rather than judge me, she’s awed at what I’ve lived through—although it’s clear that she can’t truly know what it’s like to be jaded and streetwise from an early age.”

How were you and Cindy introduced to each other?

“A couple of times a year, Cindy visits Dry Lake—or rather she visits the place her book refers to as Dry Lake—and mutual friends shared my story with her.”

To Cindy:

Some people have strong memories of their childhood years. Why do you think Cara has so few and fleeting?

“I read that when children are traumatized, their bodies’ first response is to become overwhelmingly sleepy. A child’s emotions are on overload during and after a trauma and they, by design, escape through falling asleep. Many times memories have a similar response to trauma.

“Children only remember snapshots of life from when they were young, and memories have a way of hiding if they only bring confusion and pain to the person involved. Sometimes after a serious trauma takes place, a child will gradually forget more and more of their life before the trauma took place. Parents and siblings and photos often help a child recall events by adding word triggers (“Remember when…?”). But if the child doesn’t have anyone who remembers any part of his or her past, those memories can fade into nothingness.”

Back to Cara:

Do you ever worry about Mike showing up in Dry Lake or Hope Crossing someday?

“You know, there’s not much chance of him finding me. He has no way of knowing which direction I headed when I disappeared. I don’t have the sort of job where he could track me. I don’t use my social security number, don’t own a phone, don’t use credit cards or even rent a house in my name. Still, the fear of Mike seeps into my dreams from time to time and it makes me wonder if I’ve left some clue I’m unaware of. I guess only time will tell.”

Have you thought about continuing the journal that your mother left for you?

“It’s full.” (She smiles.) “I will always treasure my journal and the connection to the past and the pathway to my future that it opened for me. But looking at it from a different perspective, I have a chance to live my own life now, and I have to do that rather than dwelling in a past that can’t be changed.”

To Ephraim:

You seem to be quite a ladies’ man, if you don’t mind my saying. What was it about all those girls you courted in the past that made you know that they weren’t the ones for you? And was it a little weird dating Anna Mary after you’d already dated her sister?

(Ephraim chuckles.) “A ladies’ man? Can’t say I ever saw myself that way, and I’m pretty sure an Amish man couldn’t be a “ladies’ man” in the way Englischers use the term. Most of the girls I’ve courted were great people, just not who I wanted to build a life with. There was an emptiness inside me that no one ever came close to filling until … well, you know. And you’re right, it was very uncomfortable courting Susanna and then her younger sister Anna Mary. I never wanted it to work out that way, and I avoided Anna Mary for a long time because of that. But then I realized that Susanna was married and happy, so why should she care? And I couldn’t ignore someone who might be the right one simply because I’d courted her sister years earlier.”

What sort of things did Cara find when she organized the closet in the bedroom of your house?

“Junk mostly. You know, old screwdrivers, door handles, strips of leather from when I had to rework a harness, suspenders with no elasticity left in them. Old clothes I never threw out but are too worn to actually wear” (He smiles.) “And then Cara discovered a box of stuff I hadn’t looked at in years—photos from my rumschpringe days both in Dry Lake and among the Englischers. Stuffed inside that box were letters my mother had written to friends of hers. Some of her friends gave them to me after she passed.”

Being Amish, how comfortable were you sharing your story, especially with an Englischer like Cindy?

“My Daed is the one who started telling her the story, so at first I was uncomfortable. As you know, Daed tends to say things he probably shouldn’t. So after Cindy sat in my hiddy and talked with me for a while, I went from just answering her questions to telling her my side of the story.”

How does Deborah seem to be doing these days, if I may ask?

“Just about the time I think she’s doing pretty good, she takes another dip into heartache. There’s something inside her that can’t seem to let go of what’s happened. But I don’t think I can be the one to help her—maybe Cara or Lena, but not me.”

To Deborah, Anna Mary, Lena, Rachel, Linda, Nancy, Lydia, Frieda, and Esther:

Do any of you wish that Cara had not told her story? If so, can you tell us why? Feel free to share any of your thoughts about Cara doing this . . . or about Ephraim telling his side of the story.

“I’m Rachel, and it’s a little hard to be completely open about that with Cara in the room with us at Ada’s House.”

(Cara straightens her shoulders.) “You think you can say something about me and how tough this has been for all of you that I don’t already know?”

(Rachel offers a lopsided smile.) “I guess you’re right.” (She draws a deep breath.) “We all talked about it one night, and Cara telling the story was the least of our frustrations. The hard part was when she showed up in Dry Lake. Her presence shifted and altered all of our lives as well as the lives of people we love. Most of us are still not sure how we feel about her, but she’s here now. Some of us dread how the next few years might play out.” (She glances to Anna Mary.)” And some of us believe we have already seen the worst that will happen.”

Are any of you considering sharing your own stories with Cindy?

“My name is Lena. A lot of readers will remember me as the one with a birthmark on her cheek. None of the other girls want to speak up, so I will. I think it’s time for my life to change. I’m twenty-three years old and I’ve never been asked out. Until now I haven’t minded. I chose to believe what my mother promised me before she died—that I’d find the right man, and when I did he’d see beyond my mark and into my heart. I know I can’t choose for it to be my time, but I’m sure ready to step forward and see what . . . and who . . . is out there for me.”

Have you played any hilarious pranks on one another lately?

(Cara looks to Deborah and shrugs.) “We played one on Lena, but she doesn’t know it yet. Not sure how that will end up going.”

(Lena laughs.) “On me? When? Where?”

“Last week,” Deborah says. “In your own home.”

(Lena’s brows furrow.) “Great. Now I’m afraid to go home.”

(They all giggle.)

Would anyone like to share the most important event that happened in your life before the story starts?

(Ada tilts her head.) “The most important events that have happened to me were marrying Mahlon’s father and giving birth to Mahlon. Those things changed who I was, but as it’s turned out, those events faded like chimney smoke on a winter’s day, and all I can do now is hope that contentment isn’t found in what was, but in what will be.”

To all the characters:

Do any of you have any final words or thoughts you’d like to share about what you’ve been through, your lives right now, your hopes for the future, and so on?

Deborah says, “I feel lost. Still, I know I’m blessed to have so many people who love me and want to help. I just hope I can get my feet under me one day so I can be there for them when the need arises.”

(Cara puts her arm around Deborah and squeezes, whispering something in her ear before turning to the rest of the group.) “As a girl who wasn’t raised Amish, my desire is to survive a culture that is so different from anything I’ve ever known. If I’d grown up believing in God, maybe the adjustment would be easier, but seeing Deborah’s family and friends rally around her gives me glimpses into the good parts of living Amish.”

Thank you for coming, everyone. We can hardly wait to hear the rest of your stories in the Ada’s House series. Perhaps as they’re told, you can all stop by The Secret Lives of Characters again, and share with us.

Cindy Woodsmall is the author of When the Heart Cries, When the Morning Comes, and When the Soul Mends. Her ability to authentically capture the heart of her characters comes from her real-life connections with Amish Mennonite and Old Order Amish families. A mother of three sons and two daughters-in-law, Cindy lives in Georgia with her husband or more than thirty years.

Visit her and read excerpts of her books at

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Next Up

On Friday 9/11/09 I'll have special guests from Cindy Woodsmall's Pennsylvania Amish community in her book The Hope of Refuge. If you've wondered how Cara and Ephraim felt about sharing their stories with Cindy or what they're doing now, then stop on by. And remember some of the other characters who live in Dry Lake or Hope Crossing, like Lena and Deborah? Well, they'll be there too, to share a little bit about what's going on in their lives, and some of their secret thoughts may be revealed.

Stop on by tomorrow, for an enlightening visit from my next guests!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Special Guests: Characters from the new novel "Rocky Mountain Oasis"

Rocky Mountain Oasis
Lynnette Bonner

(Leave a comment after the post, and you will be entered to win a free e-copy of the book!)

Today, I’m fortunate to have as guests on the blog, several characters from the novel Rocky Mountain Oasis, author Lynnette Bonner’s debut release from OakTara Publishing. First, here’s a hint at what the story is all about:

Brooke Marie Baker, eighteen, has been sent west as a mail-order bride. As the stage nears Greer's Ferry, where she is to meet the man she's pledged to marry, she tries to swallow the lump of nervousness in her throat. Can it be any worse than living with Uncle Jackson...or Hank? She wonders. All men are the same, aren't they? But with her parents and sister dead, she has no choice.
Sky Jordan, a rancher, holds a single yellow daisy in his hand as he watches the ferry cross the river. Ever since he'd found out his surly cousin, Jason, had sent for a mail-order bride, his mind and heart had been ill at ease. No woman deserves to be left with the likes of Jason. But now he questions his own plans to claim the bride for himself. Why am I drawn to this woman I don't even know?

Brooke, Sky, Jason, and the rest of you; welcome to The Secret Lives of Characters. If you gents don’t mind, I’ll begin with the lady first.

Hello, Brooke; and welcome. Your story sounds amazing; fraught with peril, adventure and romance.

We are first introduced to you in the story as you are traveling to Idaho Territory (and about to make a dangerous river crossing on the stage). Up until the moment you found yourself heading west as a mail-order bride, what was your most profound regret?

The loss of my daughter. There were other regrets, but I’d have to say that was the biggest one.

Why did you feel compelled to go west as a mail order bride? I mean, even though your Uncle Jackson sent you away, didn’t you ever consider just running off and making a life for yourself on your own?

Yes, I thought of that often, just never followed through on it. I guess I was so used to being told what to do that it was just easier to stay with the wagon train. Now, I’m ever so glad I did. I’d never have met Sky if I had left to settle somewhere else.

Based on your experience with your father, Uncle Jackson, and Hank, you said, “all men are the same”, yet you cared about your first impression on the man who'd be waiting for you at the end of the stage line, and you seemed resigned to your fate. Why is that?

Well, I wouldn’t say before I met him that I cared what he would be like other than to wonder what kind of abuse I would have to put up with. And I was nervous to meet him. I suppose I was resigned to my fate because I didn’t know what else to do. There really aren’t a lot of safe options for a single woman out west.

What made you decide to tell your story? Is there anything you hope to accomplish by telling it?

I hope that other women will discover the hope that I discovered. A relationship with Jesus changed my life and I know it can change other’s lives too.

May we ask how you and Lynnette are alike or how you are different?

Lynnette and I are not much alike. Lynnette has never experienced abuse in her life. But she knew what the answer for women like me was, and she wanted to point us all in that direction.

Now it’s your turn, Sky. First, I like to note that you and your cousin Jason seem about as different as two cousins could be. Can you tell us a little about your background – how each of you grew up? (I see you’ve been in the area about 5 years. Where were you before that?)

Jason and I are a lot more alike than it would first appear. Jason’s parents both died when he was young. He was the one who found his mother’s body when he was just 8 years old. Our grandmother Jordan raised him and his sister after that. We both grew up in a little town called Shiloh, Oregon. But when Jason moved back to Idaho, I knew he needed some family near him to remind him what his roots were, so I followed.

I have kind of a three part question. Part one: have you always been so impetuous? I mean, jumping in to try and rescue—and marry!--a woman you don’t even know from your surly cousin. That’s pretty extreme.

No, I’m not generally an impetuous guy. But it was the thought of my childhood girl, Victoria, marrying someone like Jason was at the time, that put me into action. That and a rather large nudge from my friend Jed. At first, I didn’t intend on marrying her, but Jed was the one who made me see there were no other good options for her.

I see. Well, it’ll be interesting to find out more about Jed’s nudging and your own past in the story. Part two of this question is this: can you tell us about any other times in your life that you might have done anything even half so impetuous and heroic? And part 3 of this question: what about you makes you act this way?

Ahh, well, working in law enforcement, there were a few times when I had to do some quick thinking to resolve a situation without too many people getting hurt.

I honestly have no idea why I acted the way I did, other than I just didn’t want to see any woman stepping into a relationship with Jason at that time. Of course things are different now.

Brooke has had her trust broken a lot. Do you think she can overcome that stigma?

Yeah, I think she can. But once trust has been broken, it’s a hard thing to restore. But I thank God for bringing her into my life. I can’t imagine it without her.

What do you consider to be the most important event in your life leading up to the day you heard Jason talking about getting a mail-order sweetheart?

I guess I’d have to say the day that Jason and I sat together at Gram’s table and gave our hearts to the Lord.

We have several other guest characters here, enjoying Sky’s and Brooke’s interview. Have any of you considered sharing more of your own stories with Lynnette?

(A man on the side raises a finger.)

Jason here, I guess I can take that one. Lynnette and I just finished up writing a little more of my life. You’ll be able to read my story in early 2010.


Order your copy of Rocky Mountain Oasis at your favorite bookstore or online!

Read an excerpt from the story at

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tomorrow's First Guests

Welcome to The Secret Lives of Characters, where we'll delve deeper into what's behind the lying eyes, the daring dreams, and the promising romances of characters as they live both in great fiction and in the minds of their authors.

It's time to get this new adventure up and running! I hope you'll stop in tomorrow, September 3rd, to help me welcome some special guests from Lynette Bonner's new historical romance: Rocky Mountain Oasis. Three of the characters from Lynette's book have agreed to stop by and tell us a little more about themselves and what made them tell their stories. If you've ever enjoyed an interview with actors on the Tonight Show, then you'll enjoy meeting characters from some of the newest books being released in Christian fiction.

I hope you'll stop back tomorrow, and listen to a few things that these characters have to say which you won't hear them say directly in the book.