Thursday, February 26, 2015

ONLY ONE WAY HOME - Deborah Heal - One Free Book

Welcome back, Deborah. Tell us about your salvation experience.
The Palm Sunday I was eleven, I sat as usual in the pew next to my mom and four siblings at Calvary Baptist Church. In Sunday School earlier, I had recited my memory verse correctly and put a portion of my allowance in the offering basket, as usual. Pastor Moore finished his sermon and invited the lost to come forward, as usual. I was eager for the service to end so we could go home and have fried chicken, as usual. It was an all around usual Sunday.

Until my big brother rose from the pew next to me and went forward to stand next to Pastor Moore at the front. My eyes nearly popped out of my head, and my heart raced while my brain made the startling paradigm shift. I do not think I had been paying all that much attention to the sermon that morning, but all the Sunday School lessons and Bible verses I had heard finally sank in, and I suddenly realized that if my big brother needed to get saved, then I did, too. After all, he had been right there beside me doing all those same good things as usual his whole life, and if they were not good enough to assure him a place in Heaven, then they were not good enough for me either. Now I had a new and fresh understanding that it was not what I did, but what Christ did that mattered.

I do not remember walking the aisle, but there I was at the front, and Pastor Moore was asking us if we desired to accept Jesus as our Savior. I was puzzled about the word “desired” but I got the gist of what he was saying and shook my head a definite yes.

Thinking back, I wonder if Pastor Moore thought my actions were a monkey-see, monkey-do sort of a thing. But that was not the case at all. Because although I was not old enough to understand all the words he was saying, I was old enough to understand the simple Gospel message that I was a sinner and Jesus wanted to save me. I thank God for the people in my life who planted the seed, modeled Christ, and did all the usual good things.

 I had a somewhat similar experience. We had a revival when I was seven years old. My brother, who was eight years old, went forward early in the revival. I told my mother and daddy that I wanted to, and they thought it was just because my brother did. By the end of the week, we had talked enough that they knew I was doing this for myself, so I went forward the last night. Do you have a speaking ministry? If so, tell us about that.
I have had the honor of speaking at book clubs, historical societies, and women’s church luncheons. The focus varies according to the venue, but I enjoy each type of presentation. Who wouldn’t love the opportunity of talking about one’s novel to book club members who have read it and are eager to give their opinions? It still amazes me to hear people discuss—and “get”—the characters and themes that I worked so hard to create.

And talking about the history behind my books to other history buffs is always fun. On one occasion after I had waxed eloquent about Lincoln at an Alton, Illinois, history museum gathering, I was embarrassed to find that a woman in the audience was a published expert on the subject. She graciously assured me not to be embarrassed at all, that she and the other society members enjoyed hearing anyone talking enthusiastically about history. Then she told me that the spot where I stood was just about where Abraham Lincoln would have stood to deliver a speech he gave about local political issues back in 1840. I got shivers.

And I really count it a privilege to be asked to speak encouragement to other Christian women. I’ve discussed topics such as seeing God’s sovereign working in each stage of my life, and how I continue to learn little by little how to wait patiently on Him, and that our finite limitations mean we cannot understand His thoughts and ways, but we can trust Him to bless us.

This is the thread that runs through my books, and when I write about it I’m speaking encouragement to myself, too.

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you and how did you handle it?
Oh, where to begin? There have been so many and I cannot decide which was worst. When I was a teen a curse word slipped out of my mouth at church just as the pastor walked past. Once I was yammering on to my friend about the highlights I just got in my hair, ending with a disparaging comment about fake looking monotone color jobs, just as I realized that was exactly what her hair looked like. Recently on Facebook, I ranted about some political topic, only realizing later that it had not been, as I supposed, in a private chat after all, but quite public. And it has been my solemn pledge never to get political on Facebook.

Do you see a trend here? I open my mouth, and stupid, sinful stuff comes out. In my Time and Again trilogy and Rewinding Time Series, Merrideth sits at her computer watching the lives of people unfolding on her screen. If she wants to, she can observe everything they ever did and listen in on everything they ever said. Furthermore, she is in their heads, knowing at least some of their thoughts. Writing about this is a constant reminder that one day I will stand before God, and my whole life will be revealed for all to see—and not just those public gaffes but also the deeper secret sins that only God knows. What a relief to know that Jesus died for all that! When God looks at me, He sees His Son’s holiness instead of my imperfection.

I’m familiar with the feeling of wishing I had waited and considered the words before I spoke them. 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 get that from time to time. Once at a book signing when a woman picked up my latest novel, I got excited, thinking that a sale was imminent. Then she set it aside and explained to everyone there that anyone can write a book nowadays, and that she was going to when she got around to it. I had to work to keep my smile in place, but I did, and then I told her that I hoped she did write that book one day. I have to admit my attitude wasn’t exactly Christian, because I was hoping that the superior smirk she wore would get wiped clean off her face when she got into the project and began to realize the complexity of the whole “writing a book someday” endeavor.

Others, too, have sounded quite confident in expressing that intention. But some people say it with a wistfulness that touches my heart. I wonder if they feel the same way I do when I see a beautiful scene in nature and have the urge to paint it, knowing sadly that I don’t have the skill to do so. Or maybe they have plenty of skill but just lack the courage to try. Several have told me story concepts that sounded really good, but then expressed their concern about a weakness in grammar.

So whether they say it confidently or wistfully, in all cases, I tell people that they should write their story. Get it down on paper or the computer screen while they still can. Let the ideas flow unrestricted without a single care about the mechanics. The story is the main thing, the important thing. The grammar and punctuation can be fixed. That’s what friends are for.

Who knows what my encouraging words might do for one of these strangers passing through my life? My own courage to write was born in eighth grade when my English teacher wrote these simple words at the top of my short story: “Be sure to give me a copy of your first book.”

Tell us about the featured book.
Only One Way Home is book 2 in my Rewinding Time Series. Here’s what the back cover says about it.

From Professor Randall’s Notebook…
FIELD RESEARCH SITE: Golconda, Illinois
GOAL: Trace client’s Frailey ancestors—back to Scotland if possible—and get home in time for dinner.
NOTE to SELF: Do NOT fall in love with Matthias Frailey—even though he is was quite wonderful. Remember, idiot, he’s been dead for over 175 years.

Professor Merrideth Randall’s latest after-hours genealogy consulting gig takes her and friends Abby and John to the small southern Illinois town of Golconda on the Ohio River. She expects to have to research the old-fashioned way at the courthouse. But thankfully, her client’s ancestor Matthias Frailey once hung out in Golconda’s ancient Ferry House Inn, and that means Beautiful Houses, Merrideth’s time-rewinding software, will work after all. 

It doesn’t take Merrideth and her friends long to time-surf back to find out what they need to know about Matthias Frailey and his family. But when they become eyewitnesses to the arrival of the Cherokee on the Golconda Ferry on December 3, 1838, they cannot tear their eyes away from the tragedy that unfolds—nor from Matthias Frailey’s heroic response to it. The people are herded down Main Street on their Trail of Tears, bound for the Oklahoma Country, while the townsfolk only watch, or even cheer. But not Matthias Frailey. He does what he can to help them, especially a very spirited—and very pregnant—woman named White Dove who insists on walking so others may ride in the wagons.

Spending so much time inside Matthias’ head, Merrideth has no doubt that he is the kind, selfless man he appears to be. It’s impossible not to fall a little in love with him—despite the fact that he is from another century. Meanwhile, in the here and now, handsome Golconda historian Aaron Landis is doggedly pursuing her. And back home her McKendree College colleague Brett Garrison keeps calling while he waits for her return. But are they—or any man—worthy of her trust? Too bad there isn’t a way to time-surf in their heads. Now that would be a dating tool she could really put to good use.

Please give us the first page of the book.
Merrideth Randall ran a strand of blond hair through her flatiron. She took the time to do it every morning, because she figured if she had to have flat hair it might as well be shiny flat hair. But it was a tiresome process, made worse by her inadequate bathroom. For one thing, the mirrored medicine cabinet had been installed at a height suitable for her apartment’s ten-foot ceilings—if the person trying to use it was also of gigantic proportions—but since she was only five foot two inches, she had to stand on tippy-toes if she wanted to see what she was doing. She reminded herself that at least her calves got a good workout.

Besides, it was impossible to be annoyed on such a glorious day. The window behind her claw-foot tub was filled with golden sunlight, and if the weatherman hadn’t lied, temperatures would be more typical of April than January. More importantly, it was the Friday morning of a four-day weekend, her grading was caught up, and she would not have to be back at McKendree College until her Tuesday afternoon freshman history class. Furthermore, she would be spending the day antique-hunting, one of her favorite pastimes, with her best friends Abby and John Roberts.

Rising on tiptoes once again, she examined her hair. It actually looked pretty good, and so she added “good hair day” to the weatherman’s propitious forecast. Setting the flatiron on the ledge of the pedestal sink, she bent to get her little zippered cosmetic case from the cardboard box on the floor. She took out her bottle of honey-beige foundation and wedged the case behind the faucet. Although she’d lived there for over five months, her grooming paraphernalia and towels were still in boxes. Although the bathroom was large, it had little actual storage space. But today, if all went well, she would bring home a small antique dresser in which to put all her stuff.

Since her apartment was part of a historic old house—one of the many that graced Lebanon, Illinois—something antique was the only rational choice. She figured the price for a solid wood dresser would probably be only a little more than the plastic (horrors!) shelving units at Walmart. Something in cherry or mahogany would be nice, although pine would be acceptable—and probably less expensive. She felt confident she would find something that would work. Antique dealers from several states would be at the Marion Cultural Center for the annual two-day event called the Egyptian Caravan of Antiques.

She smoothed on a bit more foundation and then put the bottle back in the case and took out her mascara. In the process, her elbow bumped the flatiron. It skittered over the porcelain surface, but she caught it right before it would have landed in the basin under the dripping faucet. She was grateful to have good reflexes, because getting electrocuted would have really put a damper on the nice day. Grinning at her thought, she unplugged the flatiron and set it back down. The cord snagged on the cosmetic case, sending it to the floor. The bottle of foundation shattered on the black and white checkerboard tile, splattering honey-beige makeup to the four corners of the room.

Drat! It was almost seven o’clock, and like her, John was habitually prompt. She would have to hurry in order to get downstairs before he and Abby arrived. She got paper towels from the kitchen and wiped up the broken glass and the worst of the gloppy mess. The doorbell rang. The floor was still smeary, but there was no time to mop it. John hated to be late. The doorbell rang again.
“All right. All right. Hang on, would you?” She washed the makeup from her hands and hurried to the living room where she got her keys from the faux mantel of her faux fireplace and her coat and oversized leather shoulder bag from her lumpy couch.

She opened the door, expecting to see John. Instead, Brett Garrison stood there, hand raised in mid-air. Grinning, he pretended to knock on her forehead. As usual, his smile made her stomach do flips. As usual, she forced it to stop its gymnastics.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
I hope readers will visit my website to get more about the real people and events that inspired my books.

Thank you, Deborah, for sharing this new book with us. I can hardly wait for my copy to arrive, so I can dive into it. I know my readers will love it, too.

Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Only One Way Home: An inspirational novel of history, mystery & romance (The Rewinding Time Series) (Volume 2) - paperback
Only One Way Home: an inspirational novel of history, mystery & romance (The Rewinding Time Series Book 2) - Kindle

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

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Caryl Kane said...

Hey Lena, thank you for featuring Deborah today. Time travel is such a fascinating subject. I would love a print copy of ONLY ONE WAY HOME. Thanks for the chance.

Caryl in TEXAS

Unknown said...

This book sounds Fascinating! I love learning about new authors :D


Beth Gillihan said...

Sounds like a great read! I love finding new authors. Thanks for the chance to win!

Beth in Montana

Deborah Heal said...

It's great to be back, Lena. Thanks! Like, Sierra and Beth, I like to discover new authors. And as an author, I like to discover new readers! It's fun to chat online.

Linda Kish said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Linda Kish said...

Great excerpt...leaves me wanting more.


lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Deanna Stevens said...

I would enjoy reading a new author, it was nice reading about and meeting you..
Dee from NE

Anonymous said...

I LOVE these kinds of books!!
J.C. -Indiana-

kam110476 said...

Hi Deborah & Lena! The Time and Again series and this Rewinding Time series both sound fascinating! I can't wait to start reading your books!
Kristen in OK
kam110476 at gmail dot com

kam110476 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mary Preston said...

A wonderful interview thank you & I enjoyed the first page.

Mary P


Cindy W. said...

Only One Way Home sounds like a book I would really enjoy. Thank you for the opportunity to win a copy.

I live in Indiana.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.

Loraine Nunley said...

It's unusual to see a time travel book that is also inspirational. I am looking forward to reading it! Thanks for the interview and giveaway!
Loraine in TX

Deborah Heal said...

It's so cool to see the comments coming in from all across the country and even from Down Under.

Yes, Loraine, Christian time travel is unusual. I have always been intrigued by the concept and really enjoyed time travel books as a young person. But many years ago when I began to write Time and Again (which is free on Kindle, BTW) I realized I had a dilemma. As a Christian I couldn't have my characters actually go back in time and change the course of history. That truly is impossible. Our God is sovereign over our lives and time. No one could possibly change is plans. That's why I came up with the virtual time travel via computer concept. It actually allows me to emphasize God's sovereignty, not diminish it in any way. Merrideth and the others learn to see time more from God's perspective. Anyway, long explanation, but I hope you enjoy the books.

Sheila Deeth said...

Time travel to a fascinating time and place. I'd love to read this. Sheila from OR

Jasmine A. said...

I've been really wanting to try this series!

Jasmine in Montana

Sharon Richmond Bryant said...

Enter me in this awesome giveaway!!
Conway, SC.

KayM said...

I love the first page1 Sounds like a fun read!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great book! Shelia from Mississippi