Archive for the 'Author Interviews' Category


Interview with Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt

Monday, December 8th, 2008

We brought you the review of You Think It’s Easy Being the Tooth Fairy? and now we’re thrilled to bring you this interview with the author, Sheri Bell-Rehwoldt.

Where did you get the idea for this book?
Beats me! All I know is that I needed a manuscript draft for a Highlights Foundation picture book workshop I was about to attend in a week’s time. So I told myself I had to stay in bed until I came up with an idea (because my best ideas seem to come when I’m lying there trying to sleep, or when I’m standing in the shower!). For some reason I started thinking about Santa…and the Easter Bunny…and the tooth fairy. I got to wondering why she was always portrayed as a dainty, winged creature, instead of a big-attitude treasure hunter. That’s when I got the idea for my book. 😉

I understand this is your first children’s picture book. Do you have any plans of writing another? Can we look for it soon?
Actually, I’ve written other kid’s books. But this is my first published children’s fiction book. I am currently trying to get an editor to look at my unpublished middle grade novel. Getting it published would rock my world.

I never really thought much about the tooth fairy. I love your tooth fairy character – she is a strong woman who knows what she wants. Is this character based on anyone special?
Nope. She’s pure fiction. Though I will admit she’s my alter ego. HA!

What books are you reading right now?
I’ve been rereading some of my favorite picture books, including Axle Annie and the Speed Grump by Robin Pulver, The Three Silly Billies by Margie Palatini, and Beauty and The Beaks by Mary Jane and Herm Auch. And as I review kid’s books for a website called ItsGoodToBeTheQueen.com (an online community for moms of boys!), I’m also reading three novels this week: The Witches of Dredmoor Hollow by Riford McKenzie, The Truth About Horses, Friends & My Life as a Coward by Sarah P. Gibson, and No Castles Here by A.C.E. Bauer. After I get those reviews up, I’m diving into a book I picked up at Powell’s Books in Portland, OR, last month: Each Little Bird That Sings by Deborah Wiles. I loved, loved, loved her previous book, Love, Ruby Lavender, so I’m looking forward to it!

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer our questions Sheri!

Blog Tour: Starting From Scratch When You’re Single Again by Sharon Knudson and Mary Heitzman + Giveaway!

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

About the Book: You’re suddenly single again. What do you do now? Where do you turn? Starting From Scratch When You’re Single Again serves up poignant stories from twenty-three widowed or divorced women who survived a horrific deathblow to their dreams for a happy, secure future.

Somehow, with white-knuckle faith, each one found enough strength in themselves and in their God to move forward. Let each woman’s story and the guiding principles she offers be an encouragement to you, and as a bonus, let the taste and aroma of her favorite recipe comfort and nourish your soul.

Amy’s Thoughts:Well, I’m still single, but I think this book is a magnificent resource. This issue is something that’s often overlooked in Christian circles that focus heavily on traditional family units. But this book offers hope in the form of true stories from women who have been there. As they address different aspects of the struggle in finding themselves single again, they also offer hope and…recipes. How fun is that? Additionally, guiding principles are pulled out and highlighted. Since this book is in the form of individual stories, it’s very easy to read and laced with hope and inspiration.

Here’s a question and answer with the authors, Mary and Sharon!

Mary, why did you write this book?

Mary: I’m neither divorced nor widowed, but I, too, have a heart for those who are starting from scratch. My father died when I was 16, and although she was never aware of the impression she made, my mother was an inspiration to me. While my faith in God faltered, hers remained intact. I watched how she made decisions—how she continued to put one foot in front of the other—how she guided my younger brother and me.

Today I work with my husband in the financial services business. We meet many women who, because of the loss or absence of their spouse, are faced with decisions that were once shared.

I wanted to offer all of these women hope and encouragement so they wouldn’t feel alone or overwhelmed. I want them to know that others have survived and that they will, too. I also want them to know—if they are young mothers—that their children are learning how to cope through the example they set. Children are not harsh judges, but will admire them for their willingness to learn new skills, and for listening to, talking with, and leading them even when the road is strewn with uncertainty.

Sharon, do you think widows and divorced women are treated differently? In what way?

Sharon: When my marriage failed after thirty years, I was filled with tremendous guilt and shame. I had been a devout believer in Christ, an active leader in my church, the parent of two beautiful daughters, and the kind of person who loved both my own and my husband’s extended family. It was as if I had received a ten-foot tall letter “F” on my imaginary “Report Card of Life.”

Widows don’t carry that kind of shame around, although they are consumed with grief, as was I. Friends and relatives know what to say to a widow—they offer counsel and comfort.

Mary, as you talked with women, what did you find helped them cope with their situation?

Mary: Many of the women we visited with often spoke of turning to Scripture. While some had a strong faith that allowed them to draw comfort from great passages in the Bible, others questioned God at first, or had feisty conversations with Him.

All were needy of, and appreciated, kind words and gestures from friends and family. But I was struck at how they all found comfort when their supporters were not available. Many of the women we visited with mentioned a devotional, a workbook, or some special story that encouraged them. Some started blogs or began a ministry. Many swallowed their pride and accepted help from others, including the government, recognizing that this was just for a season.

For most of these women, dependency on God Himself seemed to be the key ingredient when tragedy first struck. After that they allowed others to minister to them. And then eventually they took that one small step necessary to move forward and accept change.

Sharon, the first story in the book is from your personal experience and is titled, “Telling.” Why is talking to others—even friends—about your situation so hard?

Sharon: When I suddenly got divorced, no one knew what to think or say. It was a complete shock to everyone (including me), and it felt like a bomb had gone off in the night. People want an explanation, and if one is not readily apparent, they make their own guesses as to what probably happened. Some gossip and take sides. Some get very angry and feel betrayed: in a way, their own security is threatened and they wonder, “If that could happen to her, could it happen to me?”

“Telling”came right out of my journal. It was written as I grappled with how to tell people what had happened just a few months after the divorce. We have included this as a book excerpt on our blog.

Mary, what is your best advice to a woman who finds herself single again?

Mary: As tempting as it might be, do not stay in bed with the covers pulled over your head. Accept invitations from friends and learn something new, no matter how small. If God seems far away, ask Him for just a little bit of faith. Eventually, it will grow.

Sharon, do you have a quote from the book to close with?

Sharon: Mary and I designed beautiful bookmarks to give away, and they express what the stories in this book convey. The bookmark says, “Be thankful for whatever God is doing in and through your suffering. TRUST that eventually He will make everything right” (from page 212). God is in the business of redeeming and restoring lives, and this holds true for those who believe in Him no matter what.

Giveaway: Interested in owning a copy of this book? Leave a comment with a valid email address!

Interview with Mary Ann Rodman Pt.2

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

This is the last day of the tour for Jimmy’s Stars and we bring you the second part of our interview with Mary Ann!

I read on the cover of Jimmy’s Stars that you were inspired to write this book after reading a cache of letters that your family members wrote during World War II and your uncle’s diary, were any of the characters and/or situations based on real people or events?

The characters of Sal and Ellie are composites of my mom and her four sisters. Jimmy is my Uncle Jim, although he joined the Merchant Marine and not the Army.(I did not change his name because I simply could not imagine a more perfect name than Jim. I did change his last name however) Aunt Toots is based on a shirttail relative on my dad’s side of the family who athough she had a good heart and meant well, always managed to say exactly the wrong thing! I devoted pages and pages in my diaries when I was a young teen as to my run-ins with this relative!

Although I kept pictures of these relatives as children on my desk while I was writing (I need a visual to start me off writing), I found as I got deeper into the story, the characters took on lives and personalities of their own, and were less like their real life counterparts. The one thing that stayed true to real-life, was the close and special relationship of Ellie and Jimmy.

Have you written any historical fiction for adults?

No. I have no interest in writing for adults, period. I tried writing a romance novel set in the American Revolution, once, a long time ago…and bored myself to death!

Without giving away too much of the story, you cover sensitive issues in this book, what was your goal?
For the most part, American history is taught in a way that doesn’t involve people. Oh sure, there are the presidents and generals…and usually the big world events that are in the textbooks do not affect them in a personal way. Although I don’t write with “an agenda” in mind, other than to tell a story, I did want kids to know that the decisions made by those “Big Historical Figures” affect kids, both then and now, impact all of us…even children.

Thanks so much Mary Ann for writing such a great book and taking time to answer some of our questions! Be sure to visit the other sites on the tour today!

01 Charger, A Childhood of Dreams, A Christian Worldview of Fiction, A Mom Speaks, All About Children’s Books, Becky’s Book Reviews, Book Review Maniac, By the Book Reviews, Dolce Bellezza, Fireside Musings, Homeschool Buzz, Looking Glass Reviews, Maggie Reads, Maw Books, Small World Reads, The Friendly Book Nook, The Hidden Side of a Leaf

Interview with Mary Ann Rodman Pt. 1

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

We’re covering Mary Ann Rodman’s book, Jimmy’s Stars, this week and are pleased to bring you an interview with her.

Highlight your journey to becoming an author.

I could write for pages on this one, but I will be brief. I have written my whole life. I published my first story in a local newspaper when I was seven, and went on to win a lot of local and national writing contests. I wrote a school new column for the local paper all through middle school and high school. I became a school librarian, but never stopped writing. I became a full time writer by force…my husband was transferred to Thailand, and Thailand didn’t need any American school librarians. So, for the first time my life, I was a full-time writer. I also enrolled in the Vermont College MFA in Writing for Children Program. Within two years of becoming a full-time writer, I made my first book sale, MY BEST FRIEND.

Who is your target audience? How have they responded to the books?
My target audience, according to my publisher, is ages 9-12.

But when I am writing, I am always writing for the eleven-year-old I was, and the books I would have wanted to read

The book hasn’t been out long enough to get much feedback from children (it came out right at the end of the school year, so you do the math!) A few of my die-hard fans, however, have been very enthusiastic about it, reading it over and over. As one of them said “I wish I could just LIVE in that book!”

What sparked your interest in writing historical fiction for children?

I have always loved history. I was blessed with some wonderful history teachers along the way who saw history as a narrative, with characters and stories arcs. In addition, I come from a family (on both sides) where family stories were told over and over. Instead of a bedtime story of say, Cinderella, I heard such stories as “When Mom and Her Siblings Dug a Swimming Pool in the Front Yard When Their Mother Wasn’t Home” or “How Daddy Escaped from Kindergarden Three Times the First Day of School.” Naturally, all of these stories took place during my parent’s childhood, or my grandparents’…and grew up thinking that kids had waaay more fun “back in the day.” As a result, my favorite books growing up were historical fiction (and they still are!)

Tomorrow we will bring you more of the interview. Until then, be sure to visit the other blogs touring Jimmy’s Stars!
01 Charger, A Childhood of Dreams, A Christian Worldview of Fiction, A Mom Speaks, All About Children’s Books, Becky’s Book Reviews, Book Review Maniac, By the Book Reviews, Dolce Bellezza, Fireside Musings, Homeschool Buzz, Looking Glass Reviews, Maggie Reads, Maw Books, Small World Reads, The Friendly Book Nook, The Hidden Side of a Leaf

Interview with Darlene Franklin

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

First of all, I just loved this book. There were many unique aspects to it. I loved the way we had a current mystery and the mystery of the past and what really happened in Grace Gulch through letters at the beginning of each chapter. How did you come up with this idea?

The heroine, Cici, loves the history that goes along with the vintage clothing she sells. She is eager to read Bob Grace’s letters to his fiancée Mary. As an author, I wanted to capture the land run experience for my readers, and what better way than with a first-hand account?

Secondly, the “mystery of the past” provides a motive for murder. Were Dick Gaynor’s accusations against Bob Grace true? Should the town have been named Gaynor Gulch, and not Grace Gulch? The answer still matters a great deal to their descendants more than a century later. The murder victim, newspaper editor Penn Hardy, wrote about the land run. Did he discover or cover up new information that would provoke someone to murder?

Cici runs a period clothing shop. I loved reading about the different pieces she carried. Is period clothing a hobby of yours or did you have to do some research for this?

No, period clothing was not a hobby of mine when I started. (It’s becoming one!) I read an article about a vintage clothing store and thought that it like an intriguing occupation with lots of possibilities for foul play.

Clothes and hair styles say a great deal about a time period or setting. I watch the television drama Cold Case, where detectives solve murders as much as seventy years old. Music helps set the time, but so does the clothing the characters wear.

Why did you decide to write a cozy mystery?

I’ve loved reading mysteries ever since I started with Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys as a girl. But I never expected to write one myself, until Barbour started a book club just for cozy mysteries: Heartsong Presents: Mysteries! (HPM) at heartsongmysteries.com.

I was already a Heartsong author (Romanian Rhapsody, Barbour, 2005) so I had a tiny advantage. If I ever wanted to write a cozy mystery, here was my opportunity to try. Three proposals later, I sold Gunfight at Grace Gulch as the first book in the Dressed for Death series.

What is the most rewarding part of writing for you?

Having written! The writing process is hard work; but I gain intense satisfaction from putting my thoughts and feelings and stories into words. My daughter died a little more than a month ago. Rarely has writing helped me, personally, so much, as working through my grief. I am blogging about it at darlenefranklinwrites.blogspot.com.

What is the most challenging?

I find writing synopses the most difficult to plan. Coming up with story ideas is easy. Writing a book, while not easy, is predictable. I plan to write about 2,000 words a day; it’s a specific, measurable goal. Writing a synopsis is different; I can’t say “I’ll plot 3 chapters today.” I can’t plot the first three chapters until I know how the book will end.

Can you tell I’m not a SOTP (seat of the pants) writer? Barbour requires chapter-by-chapter synopses, so that helped me develop the discipline of writing one; and they’re a huge help once I start writing.

Who are some authors you enjoy reading?

I’ll plug my great critique partners: Susan Page Davis, Rhonda Gibson, Lisa Harris, and Lynette Sowell. They are all multi-published authors and three of them are fellow HPM authors.

For a detailed list of my favorite mystery authors, check out my interview with Chris Wells at http://chriswellnovelist.blogspot.com/2008/03/q-darlene-franklin-gunfight-at-grace.html.

What are you currently working on and when can we expect another book from you?

2008 is turning out to be a banner year for me! I am currently working on the second book in the Dressed for Death series, A String of Murders, which is scheduled for release in late December. I expect to write the third and final book, Paint Me a Puzzle, for publication in 2009.

This fall, my first novella will appear in Snowbound Colorado Christmas. Four couples fall in love during Colorado’s worst-ever snowstorm, the blizzard of 1913. I wrote a perpetual calendar, 365 Fun Family Activities, for Barbour, and contributed several devotions to two volumes for single mothers and today’s woman.

Recently I learned that I have sold another romance. Check out my website (darlenehfranklihn.com) for details once I have the contract.

What is something you want your readers to know?

God’s love and grace meet us at the crossroads of our life. Rarely have I experienced that so strongly as in these recent days since my daughter’s death.

And finally, coffee or tea?

Caramel truffle decaf coffee, of course! Just like my heroine, Cici Wilde.

Thanks so much for the interview Darlene! I can’t wait for the next book in the series!