Dear Readers, I’m thrilled to introduce you to Dawn Kinzer. We’ve been online friends a long time, and we’ve had face-to-face encounters at ACFW national conferences. A few times she, Gail Sattler, and I shared a room. I really love her, and I’m excited about her debut novel, Sarah’s Smile.
Welcome, Dawn. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
There’s always something of myself in my characters when it comes to their desires, hopes, or struggles. In Sarah’s Smile, the heroine yearns to leave her small rural town, be independent, and make a difference in the world. She believes becoming a missionary will be the answer to filling those inner needs. I struggled with those very things as a young woman. The characters in the story also deal with various forms of forgiveness—the grace to forgive others, the willingness to forgive, and the ability to forgive themselves. I’ve lived all three scenarios many times.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
One evening, girlfriends and I dressed in gowns. Then we took a rented limo into
and dined in the restaurant at the top of the Space Needle. One friend even
wore a tiara. What made it even quirkier was that we didn’t realize it was prom
night, and the restaurant was filled with high school students and their prom
dates. We felt a little old and out of place, but laughed about the situation
and had a good time.
Sounds like a lot of fun. I’d enjoy something like that. When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I’ve been making up stories since I was old enough to read, but I realized that I was a “real” writer after co-authoring full length plays for our church drama group. Those experiences set things in motion to pursue writing more seriously.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
Because I write romance novels, I tend to focus more on contemporary and historical romances. But I also enjoy women’s fiction, mysteries, suspense, and speculative fiction.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Spending time in nature refreshes me. I’m fortunate to live in the
Pacific Northwest where breathtaking
beauty surrounds us. Relationships are very important to me, so I take time out
to have lunch dates with friends, I escape through reading books or watching
movies, and I get a massage once a month to help remove the kinks from sitting
at a desk all day. My husband is great at pulling me out of the office and
making me take time to relax. I also have close friends who are always there to
listen when I need to talk—and pray for me. God and I pretty much have a
running dialogue going all day.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I decide how old they are in the story, then research popular names given to babies during the years they would have been born. When something feels right—it feels right.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I’m most proud of raising two beautiful daughters who love God, who are wonderful moms raising their children to love God, and who love and honor me. Nothing is better than that.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
I’m partial to tigers because they’re beautiful, intelligent, and strong.
What is your favorite food?
Oh, my … this is a tough question. One of my favorite foods is homemade popcorn with real butter and lots of salt. Once I start eating, I can’t get enough.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I’m a perfectionist, and I’m also a freelance editor. If I hadn’t finally overcome the need to continually edit my sentences while writing the first draft, I would never have finished any manuscripts. In order to do that, I had to give myself permission to store perfectionism away in a closet for a period of time.
Tell us about the featured book.
The setting for Sarah’s Smile was inspired by my hometown in
small rural village called Prairie Farm, built along a river back in 1848 by a
lumber company. From that time until now, the population has remained around
500 people. I grew up there, as well as my parents and grandparents. My parents
moved away for a short time, then returned.
It was a great place to live as a child, but by the time I graduated from high school, I couldn’t wait to leave for college. Then one day, about four years ago, I began to wonder what it would be like to have lived in Prairie Farm during another time. I’d heard stories of past glory days, and as I researched, I began to get a deeper understanding of what I’d dismissed in my youth. As I wrote the story, I changed the town’s name and the names of some real-life people so I could take more liberties, but most of the places mentioned in the book were real. Some buildings still remain.
The story begins in 1902. Our heroine, Sarah McCall, is waiting to leave for the mission field when the man she once loved steps back into her life. Abandoned as a child by her mother and gambler father, she strives to overcome a tarnished history she didn’t create and a heartbreak she can’t forget.
Peter Caswell returns to his
hometown a pastor, dedicated to his four-year-old daughter and new
congregation. But no matter how hard he tries to move on with his life, he
can’t forgive himself for his wife’s death.
When Sarah learns that Peter is returning to Riverton, the letter giving her departure date for
can’t come soon enough for her. They were best friends—she loved him and
supported his dreams—but he married another and broke her heart. Although ten
years have passed since he left Riverton, Peter hopes Sarah still cares enough
to give him a second chance. But a charming newcomer pursues her affections—and
Sarah’s childhood nemesis manipulates her way into Peter’s life.
The question that needs answering: Will Sarah and Peter will find their way to forgiveness and each other, or will past mistakes make a life together impossible?
Please give us the first page of the book.
The doors to the blacksmith shop up ahead were flung wide open. The bellows’ clicking and the forge’s gentle roaring alternated with a hammer’s ring on an anvil. The scent of hot iron wafted in the breeze. A tall, familiar figure emerged from the smoky darkness—a silhouette in the bright, early morning sunlight. Sarah McCall, scurrying to the Home Store, halted, as though she’d run into an invisible wall.
Her rapid heartbeat throbbed in her ears, and her breath caught, but neither related to running several blocks. He looked her way and cocked his head. Recognized. Trapped. Fleeing was not an option.
Dressed in a dark gray suit fitting for a man of the cloth, Peter Caswell stepped toward her, like someone dead to her brought back to life. Her own Lazarus. His shoulders had broadened since she’d last seen him, and his face had thinned, but his confident stride remained.
The physical distance between them these past ten years had been a blessing—a way to bury the heartache and give herself time to heal. But with his return, she had no choice but to see him. If Sarah didn’t know better, she’d think God was playing a cruel joke. The man she loved had finally returned . . . but not for her.
I can’t wait to read the rest. How can readers find you on the Internet?
Readers can find me on all the following sites:Amazon Author Page
Thank you, Dawn, for sharing this debut novel with us. I love your cover.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Sarah's Smile (The Daughters of Riverton) (Volume 1) - Paperback
Sarah's Smile (The Daughters of Riverton Book 1) - Kindle
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