Tell us about your salvation experience.
Although I grew up in church, it wasn’t until I went away to summer camp when I was 13 that I finally acknowledged the need for the Savior in my life. I can still envision the beautiful face of Letha, my camp counselor. We sat together on the front step of our cabin one night—just the two of us—and she shared how the Lord had worked in her life. In one of those sweet, quiet moments I’ll never forget, it started me thinking how I wanted what she had: the love of Jesus guiding her life. Letha’s words made a strong impression on me. I remember the next night vividly: the cool evening breeze in the heartland of
Indiana, the soft glow
of lanterns and the uplifting praise music and words of scripture flowing over
me and through me, filling me with love and hope, touching me in a way I’d never
experienced before. I prayed that night and asked Jesus to come live in my heart. Letha was glowing as she
embraced me with pure joy in a huge bear hug I’ll never forget.
You’re planning a writing retreat where you can only have four other authors. Who would they be and why?
Christine Lindsay because we were separated at birth and she’s my Irish “sis,” Elaine Marie Cooper because of her infectious smile and lovely spirit, Julie Lessman because she’s such an encouragement, and Beth Vogt because she’s funny and is such a joy to be around. All of these ladies are talented writers, spirited, funny, and loving. We share a passion for the Lord and telling stories which glorify Him, and each woman is a beautiful example of serving the Lord in so many wonderful ways.
Do you have a speaking ministry? If so, tell us about that.
Nothing on a regular basis at the current time, although I’d love it. Actually, I did more public speaking as a pastor’s wife when we lived near
Funny thing, though, how I used to be nervous as a kid when giving speeches in
school. I remember being so petrified of giving oral reports that I’d memorize
my speech and find a focal point somewhere on the back wall of the classroom. I
can still recall parts of a speech on Egyptian hieroglyphics. Interesting how
the mind works, isn’t it?
What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you and how did you handle it?
Oh, I cringe just thinking about it. I learned a hard lesson with a colossal e-mail snafu a few years ago. A close friend forwarded an e-mail sent to her by someone else. I opened the attachment, read it and then responded with my heartfelt reaction. Mind you, I was truthful and didn’t say anything I didn’t believe, but it certainly wasn’t something I wanted the other person to read. Within minutes, I had a response from the original sender saying, “JoAnn, I think you sent this to the wrong person.” Can you say humiliation? I was absolutely mortified. What could I do? I apologized and asked for forgiveness, but—sadly enough—never heard another word about it. I’ve seen this person a few times since, though, and we’re civil, but I pray in time I’ll be forgiven. Sometimes you just have to let it go and know you’ve done everything you can.
People are always telling me that they’d like to write a book someday. I’m sure they do to you, too. What would you tell someone who came up to you and said that?
I encourage them to sit down and write anything—journal, article, devotion, story or whatever they feel compelled and led to say. So many people talk about writing but never take the necessary steps. That’s just the beginning (determination and commitment also have a lot to do with it), but it has to be a driving passion to write, and not driven by the quest for money, attention or anything else. In the case of Christian writers, it’s a desire to share the love and hope to be found in a relationship with Christ and share that with others. My writing is a ministry, and I’m honored and privileged to share my faith with others through my characters and their stories. I recently met one of my readers for dinner in
, and she
brought along her friend who’s interested in writing Christian romance. I
encouraged her to enter a story in an upcoming anthology of short romance
fiction, but the deadline was looming very close. I’m absolutely thrilled this woman submitted a story
and now she’ll have her first publishing credit in this same anthology! And that’s how it’s done. Lake
Tell us about the featured book.
I had so much fun with Meet Me Under the Mistletoe, and I like to think it shines through in my writing. This is my first novella, and my purpose was twofold: (1) I’ve always adored heartwarming Christmas stories; and (2) I wanted to prove to myself and others that I can write shorter books. Infusing a certain level of depth, emotion and spiritual truths in all my books is important, but it can be more of a challenge in shorter works. Meet Me Under the Mistletoe also has a simultaneous “senior” romance happening, and I love that aspect about it. In another of those fabulous “God” things, I spent almost four hours one summer evening—quite unexpectedly—with the captain and sergeant in my local firehouse.
Because my hero in this book, Jake Marston, is a small-town
listening to real-life stories gave me a unique insight into the hearts and
minds of these selfless heroes. They truly are the backbone of our great
country, and I have all the respect in the world for them and all our public servants. Not many
individuals—men and women—are so brave as to be willing to lose their lives in
a heartbeat, in order to help someone else. Incorporating some of the
sentiments the captain and sergeant expressed that night enriched my book and I
hope it will help resonate with readers.
Please give us the first page of the book.
Where will you end up?
Applying pressure to the stuffed bear’s eye, Jake counted under his breath and waited for the glue to set. The guys in the firehouse would tease him if they knew, but he always said a prayer for the kid who’d get one of these fix-it projects. This teddy bear, like most of the dolls, animals, or toys from Starlight’s Christmas drive, had been “gently” loved—another way of saying the previous owner held no special affinity for it. Satisfied the plastic eye was secure, Jake relaxed his grip and placed the bear on the shelf next to the train set, model car, and sock monkey he’d repaired, painted, or patched. His shoulders ached from hunching over the desk the past couple of hours, but it was worth it.
The doorbell rang, loud in the quiet of the century-old family home. Darting a quick glance at his watch, Jake grimaced at the pain radiating through his lower back as he rose to his feet—a none-too-subtle reminder of his on-the-job fall a couple of weeks ago. Not enough to warrant short-term disability but sufficient to give him plenty of grief. His heating pad was his constant companion when he climbed into bed every night. Maybe he should get a dog. The affection, plus the added warmth, sure would be nice. A big, furry canine would be the perfect, loyal companion. Merry Christmas to me.
After hobbling through the foyer, Jake switched on the outside light and took a quick peek through the beveled glass oval on the front door. The oversized Christmas bulbs strung along the bottom of the porch roof formed a cornucopia of vibrant color, an iridescent halo, behind Dylan’s head. Jake couldn’t resist his grin as he opened the door. “To what do I owe this honor, Sergeant Sinclair?”
“Sorry I didn’t call, buddy, but I didn’t want to give you the opportunity to turn me down.” Dylan waved a hand to a far corner of the covered porch. “I brought my sister for reinforcement. Julia, come meet Captain Jake Marston, Starlight’s resident wounded hero.”
He squinted in the dim light, wondering why Dylan felt the need to introduce him that way. Dressed in a red flannel shirt, jeans and heavy socks, Jake shivered when a gust of bitter wind blew the door open wider. “Come on inside and get warm,” he said loud enough for Julia to hear.
After reattaching a drooping section of bulbs, she turned. “All better now.”
“She’s used to saying that,” Dylan said. “Julia’s a pediatric nurse over in
“I also know how to keep impertinent patients in line, and you remind me of some of them. Be good, brother.” Shoving her mitten-covered hands in the pockets of her down jacket, she walked across the porch in their direction.
This is Julia? For whatever reason, Jake’s mental picture of Dylan’s kid sister was stuck way in the past—a gawky teenager with a mouth full of metal. That preconceived image paid her no justice whatsoever. Taller than most women, she was slender without being skinny. A white cap covered her head but dark, wispy bangs escaped, tousled by the wind. Even in the dim light, her eyes were bright. Could be a reflection of the porch light, but no…there was definite sparkle.
“It’s nice to finally meet you, Julia. Thanks for…taking care of my bulbs.” Jake ignored Dylan’s smirk of amusement at that inane comment. He could handle talking to kids, but women proved a daunting challenge. Great. He’d already wedged his size twelve foot in his mouth. If they taught a class at the church—or sponsored a support group—for clueless single men on how to hold a conversation with a woman, he’d be the first to sign up. His bumbling and often idiotic statements would make him the star pupil, or at least a living, breathing example of what not to say when it came to social graces.
Sounds wonderful. I can't wait for my copy to arrive. How can readers find you on the Internet?Please visit my website at www.joanndurgin.com. I’m also on Facebook and have a new “Author JoAnn Durgin” page there. I put off creating one for a while, but now I’m so glad I did!
Thank you, JoAnn, for sharing your life and book with us today.
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Meet Me Under the Mistletoe (Christmas Holiday Extravaganza)
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