Friday, August 26, 2016

STARVING HEARTS - Janine Mendenhall - One Free Book on This Blog, Plus Much More

Welcome, Janine. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
Believe it or not, I’ve addressed this interesting topic on very last page of Starving Hearts so bear with me if you’ve already read it. The following statement contains a paraphrase and direct quotations from that page.

Speakers often encourage authors to write what they know so in Starving Hearts, I’ve shared my heart. I see a glimpse of the doubt my heroine, Annette, experiences in my thoughts. Like my hero, Peter, I let my focus drift away from Christ, and when I try to control things, I see in myself the antagonist, Mr. Slike, and his selfishness and lack of trust in God’s Plan.

“While these issues show I periodically struggle with applying my belief in God’s sovereignty to my daily life, there is still hope because I haven’t the slightest bit of doubt about the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing work on the cross.”

Like my main characters, “when we truly recognize our weaknesses and accept the fact that we cannot do life alone, we are closer to overcoming them through Christ, and we can begin to know and trust Him more.”

So true. What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
I’m not too much of a quirky person so I can’t really say, although my grown children often call me weird and my students stare at me when I make an attempt at humor.

My daughter would say I’m rather spontaneous because every once in a while I do something she doesn’t expect. I can’t even think of what that might be right now because it’s really not that big of a deal.

Ordinarily, I’m pretty normal, except for the fact that I sometimes write or study the Bible all night after a full day’s work and then get up from an hour’s sleep as if it was an entire night’s worth of rest.

I do like to dress up in period appropriate gowns, though. One night I sewed an 18th Century ball gown just so I could dress up as Elizabeth Swann, Jack Sparrow’s (pirate from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean films), sidekick for Disney Day at school.

When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I wrote my first gothic romance in tenth grade, and I still have it. Back then I knew I could write, sort of. But I never actually thought of becoming and author so much as becoming an English teacher.

About ten years ago, I decided I wanted to write a book so I actually went out and started researching to figure out just how to do it because writing popular fiction for an audience is an entirely different skill than writing English papers. (See more about this below.)

Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
From my English teaching education, I thoroughly enjoy Shakespeare’s plays and poetry. Various poets including Blake, Burns, Keats, Byron are interesting to me. The Bronte sisters’ Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights and Jane Austin’s works are favorites, of course. Charles Dickens’s Great Expectations is really good. I used to teach it too. I also enjoy Thomas Hardy’s work and Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest as well as many other classic novels and dramas in both English and American Literature from the 18th and 19th Centuries. John Steinbeck, Theodore Dreiser, and John Updike come to mind too.

For spiritual growth and insight from historical leaders, I enjoy various Puritan preachers including Jonathan Edwards, Owens, Boston, Watson, and others I’m just beginning to explore. Charles Spurgeon’s writings are beautiful.

More recent leaders’ writings include: Rick Warren, John Piper, Dallas Willard, Donald Whitney, and William Finley as well as William P. Farley in Hidden in the Gospel: Truths You Should Tell Yourself Every Day.

I’ve read a few of Steven James’s crime/thrillers so I could learn more about how he writes so I could understand what I learned from his Story Trumps Structure book. (There’s more about this below.)

When I read them, it was hard for me to put Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness and Piercing the Darkness down.

My favorite author is Laura Frantz, though. She writes Christian historical fiction/romance as well. Other authors whose writing I’ve enjoyed are Julie Klassen, Laurie Alice Eakes, and Linore Burkard as well as Francine Rivers work in Redeeming Love.

You said range so I’ve named a few, but as many of your readers know, this is only scratching the surface, right?

Of course. How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Just barely.

My husband heard me ask this question aloud right now, and he laughed, adding “Hanging by a thread, Honey, and you can quote me on that.”

In all seriousness though, reading and meditating on Scripture with prayer keeps me sane, and it’s nearly a daily practice for me.

I said nearly because I don’t view my devotions as a duty. I do them because I love the Lord, and wanting to read what He has written in His love letter to me is the least I can do since He made such an infinitely massive sacrifice for me.

When I’m connected to Christ and praying for His wisdom and the strength to use the gifts and talents with which He has blessed me, the words as well as the loving and godly actions flow naturally.

When I’m not allowing His Spirit to live and work through me, I have trouble, which is nothing new to us believers.

Jesus described our intimate connection with Him in John 15:5 when He said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

How do you choose your characters’ names?
I research the names of real people who lived in the exact time period and towns or cities I use in my books so the names are authentic. Then I mix-and-match them to get the right sound for my readers’ sake.

Sometimes, I use biblical names, if the character has traits of the person from the Bible. I’ve even named a character after someone who really helped me with my book. In Starving Hearts, Miss Haack is an example of this. She bears my friend’s maiden name in how much she helped me.

In the future, I’m thinking of having contests or something so I can name characters using some of my readers’, or fans’, names. Doesn’t that seem fun? I thought so.

There was an online auction for medical research where I let them auction naming rights to a secondary character in my next novel. That’s how I got the name for Catherine McKenna’s companion in Catherine’s Pursuit. What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Whenever I begin to feel proud of something I’ve done, I think of 2 Corinthians 10:17-18, and I redirect that pride and any praise I receive to Christ, most especially with Starving Hearts.

In fact, when I sat down to read my book for pleasure as anyone might, I hardly recognized some parts of it and just sat in amazement over what I was able to accomplish because of His grace and work in my life.

2 Cor. 10:17-18 “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 18 For it is not the one who commends himself who is approved, but the one whom the Lord commends.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
My husband teases me saying I’m basically a cat. Not because I’m scared of things like a “scaredy cat,” but because I’m an introvert, and I would be completely happy to be left alone to do my own thing, just like a cat.

What is your favorite food?
Mexican food is delicious, the Los Angeles, California, type—since that’s where I lived for my first thirty-eight years. I also appreciate some North Carolina Mexican food, too.

Also, and I know this isn’t very healthy. But I really like white cake with buttercream frosting! Coconut cake is my favorite, but I don’t eat it very often. It’s just so good when I do; I could easily eat two pieces.

I had only eaten Texmex before we went to California to visit my aunt. I found Mexicali very different, but tasty. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Although I am an English teacher, I didn’t know how to write to entertain, if you will. Reading classics and writing essays does not make an artist, and that’s what these writers are.

So the hardest thing was to learn how to write stories that please an audience.

After trying various strategies, I chose to follow Christian, best-selling, crime-thriller author Steven James’s directions.

Crime, action, mystery: Perfect for a romance, right? Absolutely! Those elements, if done well, build tension, and I thought they would keep up the pace for an inspirational romance with some harsh historical realities.

Over the years, I’ve attended one of Steven James’s weekend Novel Writing Intensives. His colleague, Pam Johnson, became my free-lance editor, and I wrote, rewrote, and rewrote. I also refer to my well-used copy of Story Trumps Structure when I can’t hear him at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference where I first heard him teach in 2009, I believe.

Tell us about the featured book.
Well, the idea to write it came from a recurrent nightmare. I decided that I’d put it in a book, since the bad dream (about the slave trade) was so vivid.

Another reason I decided to write was because of my children and Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series.

The Twilight series—wow!

When my children were in middle school, they wanted to read it, but I wouldn’t let them because I was worried about their safety.

Then they begged me to read it first.

A few days later—after finishing all four books—I let them to begin, and the race was on!

If Stephanie Meyer could do it, I—with the Lord’s help—could certainly pull it off. Surely, He would help me write a romance that connects with readers and shares the Light.

The central theme of Starving Hearts—God has a plan that gives each of us hope and a future—is spotlighted throughout the book, especially when the antagonist, Sir Steven Likebridge, arranges a triangular trade that leads everyone—including the reader—to believe all is lost.

However, since I write romance, his triumph is only short lived. A family secret comes to light forever changing the two families’ lives and freeing them from this enemy.

By the end of the story, the reader will have new insight about Jeremiah 29:11 “‘I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” She, or he, will also see a transformation in our young couple’s understanding of Faith.

They have a new perspective of their responsibilities to each other and to the people who depend on them. They also make a final promise that will please the reader because she knows Peter and Annette will end up happily ever after.

BACK COVER BLURB for Starving Hearts
Since her assault, Miss Annette Chetwynd has been plagued by nightmares and worries about an arranged marriage. But she yearns to find her anonymous rescuer. Unfortunately, her health and intellect prevent it. Both repel suitors and cause Annette to doubt God’s existence, at least until He answers her prayers in an unusual way…

Mr. Peter Adsley is joining the clergy, and he desires a godly wife by his side. After a failed attempt to obtain one, he engages in a clandestine meeting with the bewitching young woman who keeps crossing his path. But she is so unsettling.

Destined for disappointments, Peter and Annette both endure disgraceful situations. Will Peter’s faith sustain him through overwhelming setbacks? Can Annette overcome her doubts? Or will their starving hearts yield to the machinations of a mad man?

Please give us the first page of the book.
Here is something even better! has the first five or so chapters.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
Pinterest—Janine Mendenhall, author
Facebook author page—Janine Mendenhall’s Author Page @Hopefuelfortoday
Facebook—Janine Mendenhall

Will Annette's search for love and acceptance replace the loss and hurt in her heart? Find out in Janine Mendenhall's book one, Starving Hearts, of the Triangular Trade Trilogy. Since her assault, Miss Annette Chetwynd has been plagued by nightmares and worries about an arranged marriage. But she yearns to find her anonymous rescuer. Unfortunately, her health and intellect prevent it. Both repel suitors and cause Annette to doubt God’s existence, at least until He answers her prayers in an unusual way. . . .

Join in the search for love and acceptance with Janine and Starving Hearts by entering to win the Delightful Heart Gift Pack Giveaway.

starving hearts - 400 

One grand prize winner will receive:
starving hearts - collage 

Enter today by clicking the icon below, but hurry! The giveaway ends on September 12. The winner will be announced September 13 on Janine's blog.

starving hearts - enterbanner

Thank you, Janine, for sharing this new book with us. I'm eager to read it, and I know my readers will be, too.

Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Starving Hearts - Will her search for love and acceptance replace the loss and hurt in her heart? - paperback
Starving Hearts: Will her search for love and acceptance replace the loss and hurt in her heart? - Kindle

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book on this blog. You must follow these instructions to be in the drawing. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory or country if outside North America. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Goodreads, Google+, Feedblitz, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link:


Melanie Backus said...

I would love to read Starving Hearts. Thank you for the opportunity.

Melanie Backus, TX

Elly said...

I can't wait to read this! Thanks for the giveaway!
Elly -Indiana-

Mary Preston said...

That must have been some nightmare.

Mary P


Sandy Quandt said...

Janine what a fascinating interview and story preview. I especially love what you said after reading Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series; Surely, He would help me write a romance that connects with readers and shares the Light.

Looking forward to reading your book.

Sandy Q

Connie said...

I look forward to reading Stealing Hearts. Thank you for sharing.
Connie from KY

Diana Flowers said...

I would LOVE to read this. Everything about it sounds intriguing and the cover is really lovely! Janine, Laura Frantz and Julie Klassen are also two of my favorite authors, but that list is growing! So many good books out there! Thanks for the interview/giveaway!

Diana in SC

Diana Flowers said...

When I went to check this book out on Amazon it said I had already purchased it. I was like "huh?" So I looked on both of my kindles and it was not on there. So then I checked my digital orders and there was the title so I successfully delivered it to my Kindles and I have to say the cover looks really beautiful on there! I'm delighted! So please don't enter me. What a nice surprise!

Anonymous said...

Starving Hearts sounds like an interesting book that I would love reading.
marypopmom (at) yahoo (dot) com
Maryann in NY

Janine Mendenhall said...

Melanie, Elly, and Connie,
Thank you so much for your interest in Starving Hearts. It's a bit unconventional, but I hope you like it. Keep in touch with me at my website, if you will. Thanks for you comments.

Wow, Diana! How interesting. That's a God thing, to me. I pray the Lord will keep letting my book reach those for whom He prepared it. Many blessings. As far as Julie Klassen and Laura Frantz, I've enjoyed their work for so long. I even asked Laura if she'd do a review for me, and she did! Can you imagine how I felt when my favorite author gave my book 5-star rating and a comment or two? It was such a blessing.
Anyway, thanks for your comments, and I'd love to stay in touch with you, if your interested.

I left comments on your website contact forms, Mary and Sandy so you'll hear from me there.

Blessings to all of you, and a special thank you to our wonderful hostess for allowing me an interview.

Anonymous said...


Winnie Thomas said...

Janine, your book sounds fascinating. I'd love to read it. Thanks to you and Lena for the interview. I really enjoy meeting new-to-me authors.

Winnie T from Utah

rubynreba said...

Enjoyed the interview and first page. Thanks for the chance to win Starving Hearts.
Beth from Iowa