Welcome, Judythe. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
I use many of my own emotional responses to life experiences for my characters to help connect with my readers. The PROMISES series comes from my experiences in South Korea during the Vietnam War era. In fact, one reviewer of Love in the Morning Calm (Book 1) thought it was a memoir, which it wasn’t. I was glad story came alive for her.
What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
This question had me stumped for a bit so I used my ask-a-friend option to consult with my husband and children. We decided one of the quirkiest things I’ve done was to take my two-year-old daughter to South Korea so we could join my Army lieutenant husband who was stationed there during the Vietnam War.
Because we were unauthorized dependents in the country, we could not live on the post compound. Instead, we rented an apartment in U.N. Village located high above the Han River in a little village called Han Nam Dong.
I didn’t, and don’t, think of it as a quirky thing. I just knew I wanted to be with my husband and followed him. After all, Martha Washington followed George, didn’t she?
As it turned out my time there provided wonderful experiences that became the inspiration for my PROMISES series.
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
You could say I’ve been a storyteller since learning to talk. Dolls, stuffed animals, pets, and reluctant siblings were often my audience. It was a natural progression for me to pen and illustrate those stories when I learned to read and write. I worked on school newspaper and yearbook staffs until I graduated and then wrote for church and organizational newsletters. I ventured into short story fiction for magazines and then novel writing.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I’ll read just about anything. No sci-fi or paranormal, but I love checking out bestsellers and classics in literary and Christian fiction. Women’s fiction and romance are my favorite genres. My non-fiction interests include theology, history, self-improvement, and biographies.
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
My daily quiet time calms my spirit and begins my day with the right focus. A daily devotional flip tablet from Elisabeth Elliot rests on the windowsill above the kitchen sink and reading those quotes every time I’m at the sink draws me back to where I should be. I also have a collection of religious Victorian mottoes hanging around our house which frequently catch my eye and help me re-center.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Sometimes my characters will name themselves. That makes the task easy. Other times I research name meanings and names associated with the story’s time period and setting to choose the perfect moniker. Sometimes, I use names of people I know, with their permission of course, because the story character models that person.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
I’m extremely proud of our three adult children. Our oldest daughter is a music teacher/church music ministry accompanist. Our only son pastors a church and heads his NotByWorks ministry. Our youngest daughter is a computer data analysist and active at her church. I started out as a teenage mom, and, in a world where so much can go wrong, I feel blessed.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Definitely a dog. Or, more specifically, a dog that lives in our house because our four-legged guys have a wonderful life – a large yard, good food, good treats, and lots and lots of cuddles and hugs.
What is your favorite food?
Eggs. I’d eat them every day and any way. In fact, I keep hard-boiled eggs on hand for a quick protein snack throughout my day.
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Story structure has been my biggest writing stumbling block. My earliest manuscripts were totally soap opera episodic. Taking ACFW and RWA on-line courses, attending Donald Maass and Michael Hague workshops, and having wonderful mentor/critique partners like DiAnn Mills helped me bring order to the chaos.
Tell us about the featured book.
Until He Returns originated from a reader’s question about whether two secondary characters in the previous books would get together. Every time we ran into each other in the little Colorado town where we lived she’d ask if I had written Shirley and David’s story yet. I guess Shirley heard her because she and David began talking in my head.
Here’s what they told me:
Shirley Carlson’s husband has been MIA in Vietnam for decades. She’s filled her life with family, friends, her business, and David Sands’ companionship. He wants more. She can’t move forward until her husband’s home. When David proposes, Shirley must decide whether to say yes or watch her new love walk away.
Though Until He Returns is book three in the PROMISE series, all the books can be read as standalone stories.
Please give us the first page of the book.
David Sands tapped his glass as if we were at a banquet. Once he had everyone’s attention, he stood. “I have an announcement.” His eyes swept the group and settled on me. “After twenty-eight years, I’m retiring.”
Applause and shouts of joy erupted from the five of us seated at the Cabot Grove dining table. David was still a relatively young man, five years my junior. What would retirement mean for him?
Alex lifted his glass. “Hear, hear! It’s about time.”
David winked at me. “Guess those excuses about not dating an Army officer aren’t going to work anymore. I’ll no longer be active duty.”
I gave a weak smile.
Alex’s wife Lily grinned. “That’s right, Shirley. I’m sure Beth and Jay would be happy to babysit Chuck so we can double date.”
I swallowed a frustrated sigh. Lily wouldn’t give up pushing me into a relationship with David.
My son Jay and his wife nodded enthusiastic agreement. “Absolutely.”
David took my hand. “How about a movie next week?”
I slipped my hand from his, tucked my head, and pushed the food around on my plate. “We’ll see. I have a major estate sale to prepare for. It’ll depend on how much I get done.”
He seemed to accept my vague answer and conversation shifted to other topics. After dessert, David walked me to Jay’s car while Beth and Jay lingered with their goodbyes. Since we live together on the farm, we’d driven the short distance to the Cabot’s together.
David opened the back door. I slid inside. He leaned in, turning my face until our eyes met. “We’ve been friends long enough. I’m ready to move forward.”
He placed his fingers over my lips. His expression filled with yearning. “Give me a chance to show you we belong together.”
Jay and Beth were coming. I sighed, unable to argue anymore tonight. “Okay.”
“I’ll be calling,” he said with a wink and practically skipped to his car.
Sounds interesting. How can readers find you on the Internet?
Visit Judythe’s website to learn more about her.
Read her award-winning blog View from the Front Porch
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Thank you, Judythe, for sharing this book with my blog readers and me. I’m eager to read this story.
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