Wednesday, May 16, 2018


Welcome back, Annette. Why do you write the kind of books you do?
I’m so inspired by location, especially beautiful natural settings, like beaches or gardens. As a reader, I’m drawn to Christian romances so by combining these two interests, I get to write love stories in great settings. Such fun! I delight in visiting the locales I include in my books. But I also enjoy writing about what motivates people to do what they do. That means including psychology as well. So, you’ll generally find romance in a gorgeous setting with a bit of psychology in my books. For this series, I also included the “reunion romance” aspect, meaning my characters knew each other in the past and are now back in each other’s lives for a second chance.

Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
That’s easy, my wedding day. I smiled so much, my face hurt. We married on an island in the Puget Sound—see why I love this place so much? A gorgeous setting on a peaceful, sunny day. That was 27 years ago this summer.

How has being published changed your life?
I published my first book eleven years ago, and I remember that before that I kept to myself. I hadn’t met very many fellow writers or written articles for other bloggers. After that book was released, my world opened up. Publishing this series, especially, has been a dream come true. (I have three shorter works already out.) When you dream of something for years and work toward it, and then it finally happens, it’s a bit surreal. I’ve had to remind myself, amidst the deadlines and roller coaster ride of fulfilling my contract, that this is what it feels like to live the dream. But like Proverbs 13:12 says, “a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.” Knowing I’m living my dreams is what keeps me going through the challenges. So, to answer your question—that pining feeling is now absent, at least for this dream.

What are you reading right now?
I’m finishing an early copy of Rachel Hauck’s The Love Letter. I was attracted to this title because 1) I love Rachel’s writing and 2) my first published book was called Love Letters. The story is a time-slip (genre where there are two story lines—one modern day and one historical), and I’m enjoying visiting the Revolutionary War period while following a contemporary heroine through her journey to freedom.

What is your current work in progress?
I’m working on book three of my Washington Island Romance series, which is set on Whidbey Island, Washington. (Title: Finding Love on Whidbey Island, Washington) The heroine’s name is Liberty and boy does she need freedom! The hero is a worship leader who has several regrets, not the least of which was how he treated Liberty when they were teens in high school. They’ll get a second chance to make things right and possibly even fall in love again.

What would be your dream vacation?
A trip to a private tropical location in Hawaii. We visited Honolulu about twenty years ago now, but the hub was so crowded. There was barely room to spread a blanket on the beach. I’d love to go to a less populated setting in the Hawaiian Islands one day for an extended stay.

A trip to Hawaii is a dream for my husband and I, too. How do you choose your settings for each book?
Puget Sound islands inspire me with their views of the Salish Sea and oftentimes the Olympic or Cascade mountain ranges thrown in. When we take ferry rides through the Sound and see houses perched on the cliffs, my imagination goes to a happy place of wondering who lives there. What kinds of journeys do those occupants have? If the island is remote, I wonder if they telecommute or are independently wealthy.

If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
This is a tough question. My mind goes to actors or producers who work with Hallmark Channel or other outlets for Christian or wholesome media. But I couldn’t name only one. I also think of my family members who live far from us. I’m having a hard time pinpointing one single person. I’m guessing that as soon as I send this interview to you, Lena, a lineup will form in my thoughts.

What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
I enjoy gardening. We now live in a forested area with plenty of deer. I’m not used to the threat they pose to my potted plants. I’m learning more and more about deer resistant plants, though my local garden store clerk explained that this time of year (spring), deer aren’t deterred by much since they’re pretty hungry. I’ve been disheartened to find the buds I’d been awaiting one day gone the next because a deer came through unannounced. I also enjoy photography because it allows me to capture a moment of beauty.

What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
I like a conflict-free life, and I seek that peace every day. So, including and retaining conflict in my novels has at times been challenging. As with other obstacles, when my stories get stuck, I turn to how-to books by some trusted writing mentors. Even though I work as a freelance editor and have worked in acquisitions, I am an ongoing student of writing craft, and I soak up all I can.

It’s my belief that all authors should continue learning. When we don’t, the quality of our writing goes down. What advice would you give to a beginning author?
The saying that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become adept at any type of skill, of knowing when to use it and how to use it, is true, in my opinion and experience. So I recommend putting in the time. Find time to write, find other writers for encouragement, find books that teach writing, and attend writers’ conferences. You’ll have to make sacrifices for this pursuit, and you’ll know if you’re meant to be a writer by asking yourself this one question: can I stop? If you try to give up writing, but your mind is constantly inventing stories which you must embellish, then you were probably meant to be a writer. Folks who can’t stop writing, can’t stop inventing stories, can’t stop imaging the perfect beginning, the most profound ending, the best theme, and/or the most resonant scenarios are called writers. Embrace it. Pursue it. Those who succeed are those who don’t give up. But feed your creativity as often as you can. It’s a necessary, and oft neglected, part of the journey.

Tell us about the featured book.
Here’s the back cover copy, or summary, of Finding Love on Bainbridge Island, Washington:

Neither of them is ready for a relationship, but love may not give them an out.

Jenna-Shea Brown considers herself a broken therapist. Years ago, she witnessed something that caused PTSD. She can’t let her boss or her patients know about her battle. Who would want to trust her to help them, when she can’t help herself? She’s finally able to find a fresh start in her family’s beach cabin, but the renovations aren’t complete. Her parents have hired her ex-boyfriend to finalize them, but his negligence led to her being in the wrong place at the wrong time all those years ago.

Liam Barrett is trying to prove he’s nothing like his deadbeat dad. He’s working hard, yet still failing. Adrenaline and adventure offer him a diversion, but maybe he can’t escape his genes. He’d like to make things right with Shea, but he’s unsure if she’ll forgive him. Meanwhile, he’s challenged to forgive his father. He’s also worried about Shea and all these episodes she won’t explain. Now that they’re back in close proximity, he’s falling for her again. But can anything heal the past?

Please give us the first page of the book.
Liam Barrett could use some fresh air.

The red-eye from Hawaii to Seattle seemed unending, especially with this snoring guy next to him smelling of curry. Before the flight crew requested that he pocket his phone, he wanted to check on his great-aunt. So long as she kept uploading pictures of her pets or the stormy June weather on Puget Sound, he knew she was okay. But any lag in her online activity and he got worried. His zany great-aunt Matilda was a social butterfly, but she could also be a bit . . . eccentric. The shorter her leash—and his absences from her vicinity—the better.

A vintage photo of a father, mother, and children was captioned in Auntie Mat’s latest upload: Family is everything. Make peace. He shook his head, though it wasn’t surprising she would post something odd. The point was—he had confirmation she was fine. A relief after everything she’d done for him.

The phone buzzed in his hand as another Facebook notification popped up: New friend request from Jack Barrett.

His heart stuttered. Wha—?

An image flashed in his mind of his mother and him alone in the house. She wouldn’t stop crying. Preschooler Liam standing at her bedroom doorway, watching. “You okay, Mommy?”
He’d rubbed his stomach where it hurt. Should he run to her? Hold her hand? Could he hug her and make it better like she did for him? He darted to her side. “Mommy, are you broken?”

Now at age thirty-three, his thumb shook as he pressed the power button and turned off his phone. He should’ve deleted it immediately. Blocked him. Rejection would send a message without having to type a message. He wanted to throw his cell. Or maybe hurl himself off something for the adrenaline fix. How soon could he and his buddies schedule another getaway full of daredevil stunts?

“We are now beginning our descent into SeaTac International Airport. Local weather in Seattle is fifty-six degrees and cloudy with a 70 percent chance of rain this afternoon. Local time is 6:35 a.m.” The flight attendant went on to list the various end-of-flight things, like raised tray tables and final trash collection, and Liam tuned him out.

Jack Barrett.

Liam hadn’t seen that name for at least two years. Back then, he’d run an online search, as if compelled to track down the man and prove Liam was no longer helpless to fix Mom’s pain. Half hating his curiosity, he’d scrolled links. He hadn’t done this research as a child, hadn’t asked his mom any questions so he wouldn’t upset her. The name Jack Barrett wasn’t uncommon in the Northwest. But, heart thumping, Liam had narrowed it down to those born in Bremerton, Washington around fifty-five years ago.

Best match for the Jack he researched? A felon, busted for armed robbery, grand theft auto, drug possession, and several DUIs. No wonder Mom never mentioned him. Stellar guy. Role model material. Liam didn’t drink, didn’t use drugs. He’d never chased the next high—outside of adrenaline. Or been pulled over by the police. Not even so much as a parking ticket. No, in those ways he was nothing like Jack.

It was the similarities that troubled Liam.

How can readers find you on the Internet?
Twitter: @AnnetteMIrby
Facebook Reader Friends Group:  
Amazon Author Page:    

Thank you, Annette, for sharing this new book with us.

Dear Readers, here’s a link to the book:

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Annette M. Irby said...

Thanks for having me, Lena! Always a pleasure!

Shelia64 said...

This story sounds so good! Shelia from Mississippi!

Annette M. Irby said...

Thanks, Shelia! I hope you get a chance to read it. :)

Becca said...

Beach cabin renovation? Count me in - sounds good. Becca in New York

Linda Kish said...

This story sounds really interesting.

Linda in CA

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Cara Pemupukan Timun said...

it's amazingly interesting, thanks for sharing

Terrill R. said...

I love that this is a contemporary series that takes place in Washington State. I went to WWU in Bellingham and now live in Lynden. I enjoy being so close to the San Juan Islands.

Terrill - WA

Annette M. Irby said...

Right, Becca? We could all use more time at the beach. Thanks for reading!

Annette M. Irby said...

Hi Linda, thanks for your kind comment. I hope you get a chance to read it. Beach reads are so much fun in the spring and summer months. Thanks for commenting!

Annette M. Irby said...

Hi Cara, thanks for dropping by! :)

Annette M. Irby said...

Hi Terrill! How great that you know the region! Such beauty in the San Juans and Larrabee State Park and Bellingham Bay, just down the hill from WWU. Love, love, love this area! It inspires me. Thanks for commenting and sharing about B-ham and Lynden. :)

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a awesome book, great interview too!Rose from Florida rose bllackard (at) gmail (dot)com

Pam Graber said...

I've enjoyed the books in the "Finding Love In..." series. It's like taking a romantic trip to many places I've never been.

Would love to win this one!

Pam in OH

Natalya Lakhno said...

Annette, thank you for the interview! I'm intrigued by the story :) Lovely cover!
Blessings, Natalya Lakhno from CA

Connie said...

Thanks for sharing!
Connie from KY