Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life? Well, the first thing that pops to mind is the day my husband proposed. He brought me to a location known locally as “the wedding bowl.” It got that name because it’s a place on the cliffs by the ocean where many people have their wedding ceremonies. For us, it was special because during our courtship we spent a lot of time walking that area and would pass the “bowl” often.
I didn’t know why he’d brought me to that location on this particular night, however. He seemed stressed (which I attributed to some car shopping we’d done earlier in the day) and I figured maybe he just wanted to chill for a little while before we met my parents for dinner. Then he started putting a little flashlight into the groundcover there, propping it up so the light pointed toward us. I was like, “What are you doing? You’re going to waste the battery.”
He ignored my protest and started talking about our relationship and how much he loved me.
Naturally, I was completely elated by his words. When he dropped down on one knee, held up a ring, and asked me to marry him, I said… “Is this real?” (I promise, I was asking about the moment and was not asking about the diamond!) He laughed and said that it was real. Then I said yes and threw myself into his arms so hard we almost went over the cliff. Fortunately, he righted our balance and we were okay.
Later, he took me to another section of the beach where he’d arranged for many of our family and friends to have a bonfire celebration. I was so excited that I ran and hugged my mom, almost knocking her into the fire pit. Apparently, hugging me was a dangerous activity that night.
It sound like a wonderful day. How has being published changed your life?
Deadlines! With four kids whom we homeschool, I’m used to being busy, but when there’s a publisher waiting on your manuscript and readers asking you when the next book is coming out, there’s a lot more pressure.
On the plus side, it’s been a complete blessing to read in reviews about how my story has touched someone’s heart and impacted their spiritual life. I’ve even received some emails and a couple handwritten letters from readers. Those things really make all the difference on days when I’d rather be anywhere but sitting at my desk.
I don’t think that readers realize just how important those letters are. What are you reading right now? I’m actually in the middle of a several books. I’m currently listening to the audiobook for Finding Lady Enderly by Joanna Politano and reading the second book in Kelly Eileen Hake’s Husbands for Hire series. On the nonfiction side, I’m rereading Liz Curtis Higg’s 31 Verses to Write on Your Heart and about to begin Hearing God by Dallas Willard. I’m also rereading my copy of Historic Stage Routes of San Diego County by Ellen L. Sweet and Lynne Newell as part of my research for a series idea I have.
What is your current work in progress? The initial manuscript for Harmony on the Horizon, my third novel in my Chaparral Hearts series is due to my publisher by the end of this week, so I’m busy putting the final touches on that. In a few weeks it’ll come back to me with editor’s notes, but in the meantime, I’m already starting the research phase for new series.
Such is an author’s
life. What would be your dream vacation? That’s like asking a foodie to
pick their favorite meal. I was bit by the travel bug in high school when I
went on a group tour of
In my debut novel, Waltz
in the Wilderness, I was able to incorporate things like our local
newspaper’s connection to the rest of the world and what it was like to take a
steamship down our coast in 1854. In Sing in the Sunlight, I’ve tried to capture
a bit of the ranching industry that dominated our area at the time. And my
third Chaparral Hearts novel, Harmony on
the Horizon, is inspired by true-life events and a true romance that took
place in 1865
I love including actual events as part of my stories, too. If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why? Assuming my husband doesn’t count, I’d have to say, my friend, Julia Shiras. Circumstances caused her family to move away several years ago and although she comes down often to visit (prepandemic), it isn’t nearly enough. She is a dear, godly woman whose friendship has made me a better person.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it? Time. There is never enough of it. Honestly, I haven’t overcome it. Every day I pray and seek God’s wisdom for what to do with my time that day. As a creative, I struggle with detailed schedules that tell me I should be doing X at exactly X:XX. I work much better with a to-do list that includes time estimates for how long each activity/task should take. The older I get, the more I learn to show myself grace. Yes, I am to be held accountable to commitments, but I’m also not required to feel guilty when things outside of my control interfere with my best intentions. I’m learning to set realistic goals, do my best, and let God handle the rest.
That’s a very good plan. What advice would you give to a beginning author? Don’t try to do it all. Focus on doing what God is calling you to and separate it from what the industry says you must do. This can be easier said than done, but I find myself happier and more at peace when I say yes only to what God is leading me toward instead of caving to the pressures of the “you should’s.”
Tell us about the featured book. Sing in the Sunlight is the second book in my Chaparral Hearts series.
Although each book in this series is fully able to be read on its own, the hero of Sing in the Sunlight, Richard Stevens, was first introduced to readers in Waltz in the Wilderness. Several reviewers of WITW mentioned wanting to see Richard’s story.
The heroine of Sing in the Sunlight, Clarinda, has
scarring that was inspired by my daughter who also has scars from something
that happened to her before we adopted her. My daughter’s situation prompted me
to wonder what life would be like for a woman with scars in the mid-nineteenth
century. Then I learned of the only hurricane to ever strike the
Richard Stevens isn’t who he thinks he is. Neither is the woman who now claims his last name.
Disfiguring scars stole Clarinda Humphrey’s singing career,
her home, and her family, but she refuses to let her appearance steal her
future. While attending The Young Ladies Seminary in 1858
Richard Stevens’s life hasn’t turned out as he expected, and
when a shocking letter turns even his past into a mystery, he travels to
Unwilling to lie, nor accept a marriage of mere convenience, Richard wants the real thing. Yet Clarinda’s not interested in love, only a chance to save her child. Can he help her rise above the pain that runs deeper than her scars to accept a love worth every risk?
Please give us the first page of the book.
The Young Ladies'
December 3, 1857
Clarinda Humphrey jammed the chair beneath her doorknob and tugged the beautiful garnet ring from its hiding place beneath her chemise. Undoing the knot, she slipped the heirloom free of the ribbon that had kept it close to her heart these last three days. She slid the ring onto the third fnger of her left hand.
Or tried to.
The metal caught on the thick, hideous scar that ran across her second knuckle. With determination, she shoved it past and narrowed her attention to the stone's promise.
She was loved.
The urge to hum swelled within her as she strolled to the window. She pulled back the heavy drapes and lifted her hand to the light filtering through the thin lace curtains. Barely a glint reflected in the deep red stone.
She parted the lace, careful to remain out of view, and tilted her hand in the late afternoon sunlight below the sill. A myriad of tiny red dots danced across the walls.
This was the night. She’d never be alone again. She clapped her fingertips in a quiet patter.
Laughter filtered through the windowpane.
She froze. Had they seen her? No. The slit in the curtains was too narrow. Wasn’t it? She dared a peek at the garden below.
Several of her classmates strolled the paths. The girls chattered in the late afternoon sunlight, seemingly oblivious to her observation.
Not girls. Women—despite what their parents may believe. Like her, they’d been sent to the first female college in the west to be trained—molded—into the ladies their parents wished them to become.
But they were nothing like her.
All bright, beautiful, and whole, none of her classmates had ever questioned their future. Why should they? They'd never been shunned at social gatherings, nor been asked to remain behind so as not to repel the other guests. They hadn’t been told they would never marry—that no man would ever want them. They'd never lain awake at night wondering why God had abandoned them.
Nor had they ever made any attempt to befriend her.
And that was fine with her. Normally.
Right now Clarinda’d give almost anything for a confidante to entrust with her secret. She was bursting to tell someone. Not even Katie, her one true friend at this school, knew of her plans. Clarinda couldn't risk the young maid losing her position here if it were discovered she'd kept a scandalous confidence. Though, she would know soon enough. The day had finally arrived.
I also have a YouTube video where I read the first scene aloud: https://youtu.be/t8ZqDYJIjDA
How can readers find you on the Internet?
I can be found in many places online. Here are some links:
Thank you, Kathleen, for sharing this book with my blog readers and me. I’m eager to read this book.
Readers, here is a link to the book.
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