Meet Connie Cross from Annabelle’s Ruth by Betty Thomason Owens

June 19, 2015

Annabelle's RuthToday, I am very pleased to welcome Connie Cross, the heroine of Annabelle’s Ruth by Betty Thomason Owens. Having just finished reading the novel myself, I have only the highest praise for the story, the author’s writing style, the characterization, and the message.

Before we chat with her, I’d like to share a bit about her story from the book’s back cover “blurb:”

After their husbands perish in a fishing boat accident, Connie Cross determines to follow her mother-in-law, Annabelle, from Southern California to Tennessee. Her misgivings begin as they cross the bridge over the muddy Mississippi River. In their new town, where living conditions are far below their previous expectations, they must set up a household and hunt for work to survive. Thanks to the kindness of Annabelle’s handsome, young cousin, life begins to settle down. But Connie has a secret that could uproot them once again. Inspired by the Book of Ruth, Annabelle’s Ruth is a 1950’s era “Ruth” story, set in western Tennessee. How will Connie adapt to her new life amid the cotton farms, racial tension, and culture shock?

Connie, please tell us a little about your life growing up in Maui. What is your fondest childhood memory? What would you rather forget about your childhood? Oh my. Life on Maui. It is surely one of the most beautiful places on earth. Where the wind always blows. It’s very green. Black earth—blue ocean—do I sound like an artist now?

After World War II ended, Dad retired from the Navy. He bought a farm near a small village in the area of Makawao. It had once been part of a sugar plantation. He put us to work in the fields. He did his best to train the laziness out of us. I would rather forget those days. But the hardships I faced made me who I am today, so I can’t despise them.

In many ways, I had a rather idyllic childhood. While he was still in the Navy, Dad was away much of the time. My mother was never a very energetic person. At the age of five, I was already looking after two baby sisters. We played outside most of the day unless it was raining. My fondest memories are actually from that time. Mom’s people worshiped nature. She would wander out at night and sing and dance in the moonlight. She said this would give her good fortune. Sometimes, my sisters and I would join her. We’d sing at the top of our lungs and dance until we dropped.

How did you meet Joseph? Was it “love at first sight?” After high school I moved to Kahului. I found a summer job in a local movie theater to earn money for my trip to the mainland, where I hoped to attend college. The theater was a popular spot for sailors to hang out on a Friday night. One night, a slightly inebriated sailor made a pass at me, which I ignored. He became angry at me, actually pinning me against a wall. Another sailor came to my rescue. He towered over the perpetrator, ordering him to leave the premises or be reported, or something like that. Joseph was my rescuer, and yes, it was love at first sight.

What trait do you find most admirable in others? Several come to mind, like honesty and integrity, but I think the most important one is love, as Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 13.

Do you prefer cross-stitch and quilting or tending a garden? Why? Tending a garden. Because I love the smell of freshly-turned soil. I love planting seeds and watching them grow. But most of all, I love to harvest the fruit and vegetables and then eat them.

Connie, is there anything you’d like to tell us about yourself? I’m not really fond of talking about myself. I’m glad you can’t see me blushing right now! Who I am today—the woman I’ve become—is because of the love of a very special woman. Annabelle Cross took me under her wing. She led me to Christ, but she didn’t stop there. She showed me by example, how to live, and how to be a godly woman. This is why I stayed with her. And God has blessed both of us, healed our broken hearts, and filled us up again.

About the author:

Betty OwensBetty Thomason Owens writes romantic comedy, historical fiction, and fantasy-adventure. She has contributed hundreds of articles and interviews to various blogs around the Internet and is an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), where she leads a critique group. She’s also a mentor, assisting other writers. She is a co-founder of a blog dedicated to inspiring writers, and a contributing editor for the online magazine, Imaginate. Annabelle’s Ruth is the first novel in the Kinsman Redeemer Series for Write Integrity Press. Her 20’s era romance, Amelia’s Legacy, Book 1, Legacy Series, released October, 2014 (also Write Integrity Press). She writes contemporary stories as a co-author of A Dozen Apologies and its sequels, The Love Boat Bachelor and Unlikely Merger, (2015). She has two fantasy-adventure novels, The Lady of the Haven and A Gathering of Eagles, in a second edition published by Sign of the Whale BooksTM, an imprint of Olivia Kimbrell PressTM.

You can learn more about Betty and connect with her at the links below:

http://bettythomasonowens.com

 https://twitter.com/batowens

https://facebook.com/betty.owens.author

https://pinterest.com/btowens,

https://writingpromptsthoughtsideas.wordpress.com


Meet the Characters in Rachel Allord’s Mother of My Son

October 30, 2014

Mother of My SonMother of My Son is a beautiful, well-written story of redemption, forgiveness, and God’s unconditional love shown through His children. The author employs natural realistic dialog, and keeps the plot moving to the end which makes for a page-turning read. Rachel Allord reaches deep into the hearts and souls of her characters, so that you are intimately involved in their struggles, heartaches, and joys.

One of the most endearing parts of the story to me is when Beth’s husband says, “I’m in your corner,” and she replies, “And I’m in yours.”

One of the most glaring truths is that behaviors are passed from one generation to the next. However, when one allows Christ to take over, things change.

This debut author has clearly hit this one out of the park, and I highly recommend it!

Meet the Characters:

Amber Swansen, in shock, horror, and desperation, made the biggest mistake of her life. But so what? She’d always been told she was a loser—by her mother, no less. Her dreams of becoming a designer shattered, she struggles with what life brings her way the same way her mother does—with a string of boyfriends. True to her and her mother’s track record, one relationship is as toxic as the next.

Grandma Ginny hadn’t seen her granddaughter in fourteen years and prays for Amber every day. Although Amber sees her as a “holy roller,” Ginny becomes her granddaughter’s rock.

Beth Dilinger befriends Amber, gently guiding her toward the Savior. The worlds of both women threaten to explode when unlikely and bizarre facts are inadvertently exposed.

Michael Dilinger, Beth’s son, is soon going off to college in another town. Will Beth be able to cope with the inevitable empty nest?

Gretchen is Beth’s older sister, most trusted confidant, and mentor. Occasionally, she enjoys throwing a curve ball to her sister in an effort to get her out of her comfort zone and help her to grow.

Margaret Swansen, Amber’s mother, holds on to bitterness and resentment and seems to enjoy passing these emotions and attitudes down to her daughter.

Meet the Author:

Rachel AllordRachel Allord grew up as a pastor’s kid, vowed never to marry a pastor, and has been contentedly married to her husband, a worship pastor, for nineteen years. She holds a B.A. in English education and is privileged to be both a biological and adoptive mother. Her stories and articles have appeared in MomSense, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and various other publications. Mother of My Son, her debut novel, released in May 2013 through Pelican Book Group (Harbourlight). She resides in Wisconsin where she avidly consumes coffee, sushi, and novels– preferably at the same

Rachel, Do you have a favorite scene in this book?

One of the most personal scenes for me is when Beth is ripping up shag green carpet and scraping glue as she grapples with her infertility and hopes that the room in which she’s laboring will one day be a nursery. This is the most auto-biographical scene in the book. I tore up green carpet. I spent the summer scraping old glue, all the while wishing for my baby. By the time we came home from China with my baby girl, the floors of that room were sanded and beautiful and the room was ready.

 What is the most recent “curve ball” you’ve encountered? 

Homeschooling. Although I’ve taught in the public school and tutored home- schooled students, this is the first year I’m homeschooling one of my own. Life is totally different this year. It’s good, challenging, rewarding… all rolled into one. A definite curve ball for me.

What is most interesting thing you have learned while doing research for this book?

That I’m more like Amber then I originally thought. Even though she’s my protagonist, in the beginning I had a hard time connecting with her. I didn’t even like her at first which is a problem because if I didn’t like her, why would my readers? But as I continued to write and dig and pray I came to realize that even though our growing up experiences are totally different, and even though I haven’t walked in the same dark and desperate places she has, I’m just as much in desperate need of God’s grace and forgiveness.

 What is the most rewarding thing about being an adoptive parent?

This is going to sound terribly obvious but her. My daughter is the reward. Just as I feel fortunate to have been given the chance to give give birth to my son, I’m so thankful we were able adopt, to experience the fierce emotions that come with taking a child not of your own flesh and allowing God to knit you together as a family. Adoption is complicated, it comes with a lot of complicated emotions both for you and your child, but it’s so rich and spiritually profound. It’s messy but beautiful, much like the rest of life, but with all that said, I just love my daughter. I’m so grateful I get to be her mom.

Who are your favorite authors? Is there an author who has had a strong influence on your writing?

Close friends know I try to weave “To Kill a Mockingbird” or “Les Miserable” into just about any conversation, so Harper Lee and Victor Hugo are at the top of the list. I’m also a fan of Leif Enger and Jodi Picult. As far as the author whose books I turn to to “mentor” me in terms of how tell a killer story while dishing out spiritual truth, I’d have to say Francine Rivers. Her books are old friends and as silly as this sounds, I fantasize about having coffee with her. 

 Do you have a favorite season of the year? What’s special about it for you?

I love fall. Even though it’s the season when, technically, everything is dying, it’s gorgeous and the paradox of it all is poetic. Fall always feels like a new start for me. Not to mention Wiscsonisn puts on some pretty spectacular displays of color.

 What is your favorite family activity?

Travel. Just about anywhere. We’ve been known to sell blood to pay for our travel addiction. Truly, we have.

What are you working on now? I’m nearly done with a novel that examines questions like…. what do you do if you meet your soul mate but you’re married to someone else? Is there even such a thing as soul-mates? Can a dead marriage be resurrected? What causes women to run away from their marriages? It’s a bit quirky, down to earth and, I pray, thought-provoking. I love this mix of flawed by earnest characters and I love how symbolism emerged during the writing process.

How can readers connect with you? You can find my blog, send me a message, or find out about upcoming books and speaker information at https://rachelallord.com.  You can also find me at https://www.facebook.com/RachelAllordFans or https://twitter.com/RachelAllord


Character Review of Kip Turner from Better Than Revenge by Fay Lamb

March 4, 2014

Better Than RevengeOftentimes, a support character provides depth, additional interest and an unexpected twist to a story. In Better Than Revenge, Kip Turner does just that. Today, I’m privileged to interview Kip and find out what makes him tick.

Kip, how did you meet Michael Hayes, and why were you mortal enemies at one time?
I met Michael through a mutual acquaintance, Tom Jervis. Jervis and I were planning a criminal act against a local authority, and Michael and his gal, Isabel—or Issie, as he calls her—joined us in planning the crime. Then Jervis and I discovered that Michael and Isabel were out to thwart our attempt. I did something pretty heinous, something I wish I could take back. I hurt both Michael and Issie terribly. I’d like to say it was because I wasn’t thinking straight, but that doesn’t make it right. I had a lot of hurt back then. A world of it. I guess I just wanted Michael to hurt as badly as I did so I took away from him what I had also lost.

How did you manage to forgive Michael after what he tried to do to you?
Well, after what I did to Michael, and to Isabel, I wouldn’t have blamed him if he never forgave me, but Jervis harmed a family member, and she let me know about it. She forgave me for bringing Jervis into our lives, and she begged me to talk to my pastor. It took a while for the pastor to get through to me, and it took a while for Michael to forgive me. Let’s just say that I had to show him forgiveness first. That’s what God used to open Michael’s heart. And I thank Him for that every day.

What impression do you make on people when they first meet you?
I have a scar. A pretty ugly one. I’m sure people don’t want to even look at me at first, but I’ve gotten good at bringing them around. It isn’t really me I want them to see. I want them to see Christ in me. In order for them to do that, I need to get beyond that first impression. If they ask, I’m direct. It’s a good tool for evangelism.

How do you use this in a positive way?
I just don’t let it bother me. Soon they see past that barrier. I have a scar. A pretty ugly one. But God gave it to me via my best friend, and I’ll bear it if only to remember never to go back into the darkness of sin so deeply that I would ever harm another the way I harmed Michael and his gal. And like I said, if someone asks, I use it to share a story of profound forgiveness.

What in your life has had the most profound effect on you? Michael Hayes’ son called me “Uncle Kip.” I’d never let on to Michael. I’m tougher than that, but Cole really melted my heart with that one. Just the thought that the man who suffered so dearly at my hands, who lost so much, that his son would love me enough to give me that title…it’s beyond the imagination, as are all of God’s miracles.

What is your main goal in life now?
To live for Christ. To be His servant, and to follow His path for me. And well, I’d like to win at least one fishing bet with my brother-in-law, Ted.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
I’d go back to the night eight years ago, and I’d hold a gun on Tom Jervis and not on Michael.

Michael, here: I understand what Kip is saying about that night. Some pretty awful stuff went down. Issie and I suffered through a lot of dark years, not only because of Kip and Jervis’s actions, but I made some pretty stupid mistakes myself. But I’m sure Kip will agree that when we trust in Him, He will turn our worse mistakes into the greatest blessing. Kip might love to hear Cole call him Uncle, but it isn’t nearly as powerful as hearing him call me Dad.

***

 Isabel “Issie” Putnam’s sole agenda was protecting her son, Cole— from the truth—and from the man who wanted to take away from her the thing that mattered to her most, just as he had taken something very precious from her eight years ago—something she could never get back. Issie’s family seemed to be working against her in favor of their own selfish desires, but Tom Jervis must be stopped. What did the family do to put Issie and Cole in more danger than ever, and could the family ever be reconciled?

***

 Fay Lamb author picFay Lamb works as an acquisition editor for Pelican Book Group. In addition to Better Than Revenge, she’s had Stalking Willow, Charisse, and The Art of Characterization published. She’s contributed to collaborative novellas from Write Integrity Press, including A Ruby Christmas, A Dozen Apologies, and Christmas Tree Treasure Hunt. Several more of Fay’s books are due to release in the near future. At her website, http://faylamb.com, you can access her blogs, Inner Source, On The Ledge, and Tactical Editor, as well as learn more about Fay.


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