Tuesday, June 18, 2019

OKLAHOMA BOUND - Carolyn Torbett-Johnson - One Free Book

Welcome back, Carolyn. God has really been moving in your writing life. What do you see on the horizon?
Wherever God leads, I’ll follow. My first goal started with the story of the forgotten children on the streets of the eastern cities sent to find homes in the rural parts of the United States. The Orphan Train Riders. That story turned into a trilogy.
Now, my heart is gripped by hurting veterans and soldiers. I am involved with Quilts of Valor and the healing a quilt gives some of these men and women is astonishing. Stories pouring out of them have left us speechless.
I’ve started a new women’s fiction book concerning a woman struggling with loss. The quilt not only blesses the soldier but also brings the woman back to God.

They sound wonderful. Tell us a little about your family.
I grew up in a wonderful Christian family. We learned by example to serve God with our whole heart. My brothers have both been in ministry, one as a missionary for over forty years and the other has a business and has supported missions on and off the field for years. I also had two sisters. When my older sister passed away, the pastor said it would take a team of people to fulfill all she did for others. My younger sister, who was mentally handicapped, led two women to the Lord with her simple truth. She also is with the Lord now. I can’t imagine a better life than the one I had and I thank God for this blessing.

Has your writing changed your reading habits? If so, how?
Unfortunately, it’s taken some of my reading time away. There’s just so many hours in a day. I also struggle somewhat with taking off my editing cap. I’m afraid if the book is too wordy or there are too many grammatical errors, I end up laying it aside. But I do love the classics so they are always a great read.

I believe that all authors lose a lot of reading time, which we miss so much. What are you working on right now?

As I mentioned earlier I have started a woman’s fiction involving a widow, Clare, who has just lost her son to the war in Afghanistan. Bitter, she feels God has let her down. Her kind friends draw her out of herself and introduce her to the need of other soldiers and veterans by making them quilts of love. This story filled with humor even through the trials has a little bit of mystery thrown in the mix.

We’ll need to feature it on my blog, too. What outside interests do you have?
I coordinate a Quilts of Valor group once a month plus another sewing group called Sew Little Time. They also meet monthly. I lead our youth group and help with kid’s church. I love flower gardening and take special care of my hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. Flowers do not need an insecticide, that’s the job of my wonderful ladybugs.

How do you choose your settings for each book?
I think of the story first and the setting is the most logical place to have it happen. 

If you could spend an evening with one historical person, who would it be and why?
I would love to sit down with Abraham Lincoln. He seemed to me to be a humble man who trusted God for his directions. I’d love to hear his thoughts and insights when the weight of the country pressed in on him.

What is the one thing you wish you had known before you started writing novels?
Without a doubt, I wish I had learned more about websites. I get mental blocks working on them. I want to redo mine but it’s overwhelming.

What new lessons is the Lord teaching you right now?
Being saved since I was six, you’d think I’d know it all but lately God has had to bring me back to the basics and talk to me about letting Him be in control. We’ve been caring for our twelve-year-old, high functioning, autistic grandson. I have a habit of thinking I know the “right” way to deal with him and if everyone else would just do it, everything would work out fine. But God has a plan that is much higher than my plan, and He has had to set me down to listen.

What are the three best things you can tell other authors to do to be successful?
Work, work, work. Seriously, you won’t be magically discovered. You have to work at marketing, you have to work at writing consistently, and you have to balance your life. I have heard people say, “If someone would just tell me the steps to successful writing, I’d be fine.” Honey, it’s a million of those tiny baby steps that teach you the way. Just keep on learning the craft any way possible.

Wise counsel. Tell us about the featured book.
This is the second book in the Orphan Train West trilogy. I have read it countless times and I still get choked up in parts as I picture what these children went through on their journey. Imagine facing the unknown as a six, eight or ten year old. Strange faces, strange land wondering if anyone would want you. Wondering if they would care.

Please give us the first page of the book.
Turning away from the window, Jack slowly sat down on the train seat. Did he hear correctly? Had Mr. Cummings said they were on their way to the Oklahoma territory? Overwhelmed by the possibility, Jack sat and stared straight ahead. In less than a week, he had gone from being homeless and starving to finding a job, good friends, and God. Then he was arrested for vagrancy and thrown in jail. Just a day later, he’s on an orphan train bound for the one place he’d dreamt about – Oklahoma. It had been a fantasy of his since the day his father had told stories of his own visit. How the horses raced over the hills and the night was so dark you could see millions of stars. He missed his father and mother but thought he might be closer to them in Oklahoma. Dad had loved his time there. Somehow, he knew if Mom and Dad had been able to take them to the Oklahoma territory, they would be alive today. Jack gave a deep sigh.
“Jack, Jack!” Leah’s voice pulled Jack out of his trance. He felt the gentle swaying of the hard horsehair filled leather seat and heard the repetitive clickety-clack of the train wheels. The acrid smoke from the coal engine burned in his nose. Voices all around him seemed to be talking at once. A toddler started fussing several rows ahead. Jack shook his head in an effort to return to reality.

Very evocative scene. How can readers find you on the Internet?

Thank you, Carolyn. I’ve been interested in the Orphan Trains for decades. I’m sure my readers are as eager as I am to read your book.

Readers, here are links to the book.
Oklahoma Bound

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Melanie Backus said...

I am very intrigued by the Orphan train and those that were on it.
Melanie Backus, Texas

Robin in NC said...

How horrible would it be to not be adopted by the last stop or be adopted by bad people. Very interesting way of sharing orphans.

Robin in NC

Lucy Reynolds said...

My heart breaks for the children that endure this. My mom was raised in an orphanage. Would love to read. Thank you for sharing. Blessings from rural WV.

Wendy Newcomb said...

Carolyn is a new author for me and this sounds like a heartwarming story. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

Wendy in Nebraska

wfnren at aol dot com

Carolyn Torbett-Johnson said...

Researching the orphan train riders was absolutely fascinating. There was even a boy a judge adopted because he wondered if a boy as ugly as this boy could ever amount to anything. The boy became a governor. Many had wonderful stories but some had stories of literal slave labor.

rubynreba said...

The orphan trains were something I hadn't heard about until recently. I find it very interesting to read about them.
Beth from Iowa