Up Close and Personal with Amy Sorrells

 

The Advisory Board is thrilled to host Amy Sorrels, debut author of shortlisted How Sweet the Sound.  Amy’s sophomore novel Then Sings My Soul released in March, 2015 and she is hard at work on Lead Me Home to be released by Tyndale in 2016.  Amy shares her writing nook {though her sweet dog steals the show} and another favorite spring writing spot ~ her garden!  Please join me in welcoming Amy K. Sorrells!

how sweet the soundFrom a distance, the Harlans appear to be the perfect Southern family. Wealth and local fame mask the drama and dysfunction swirling through their family line. But as the summer heats up, a flood tide of long hidden secrets surface. Devastation from a rape followed by the murder of two family members brings three generations of the Harlans together on their pecan plantation in Bay Spring, Alabama.

Chief among them is Anniston, who by the time she turned thirteen thought she’d seen it all. But as her heart awakens to the possibility of love, she begins to deal with her loneliness and grief. This tender coming-of-age tale, inspired by the story of Tamar in 2 Samuel 13, shows how true healing and hope comes only from God. Though our earthly family can wound and disappoint, our heavenly Father brings freedom to those long held captive through His mercy and grace.

What are you listening to?

I’m listening to the branches of the river birch brushing against the side of our home, because it’s about to thunderstorm.

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What are you watching?

I’m watching my dog’s nose twitch as he sniffs the breeze coming through the screen of our open window.

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What are you reading?

I’m reading too many books to list, so here’s a picture of my nightstand. (Not pictured: The Kitchen House on audio in my car.)

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Thank you so much for joining us Amy and especially sharing your gorgeous dog with us!  I imagine he has quite the personality!

To learn more about Amy and her writing please visit her Website | Facebook | Twitter.

Up Close and Personal with Kate Breslin

 

The Advisory Board is happy to welcome Kate Breslin, author of For Such a Time, shortlisted in debut fiction category.  Kate has a new book coming out in August, another historical romance featuring a strong, courageous female protagonist.  You can see by her bookshelves below that this author is quite well-read, but what you may not know is that she was also a bookseller for fifteen years!  Join us in welcoming Kate to the Inspy’s blog!

 

for such a timeIn 1944, blonde and blue-eyed Jewess Hadassah Benjamin feels abandoned by God when she is saved from a firing squad only to be handed over to a new enemy. Pressed into service by SS-Kommandant Colonel Aric von Schmidt at the transit camp of Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia, she is able to hide behind the false identity of Stella Muller. However, in order to survive and maintain her cover as Aric’s secretary, she is forced to stand by as her own people are sent to Auschwitz. Suspecting her employer is a man of hidden depths and sympathies, Stella cautiously appeals to him on behalf of those in the camp. Aric’s compassion gives her hope, and she finds herself battling a growing attraction for this man she knows she should despise as an enemy. Stella pours herself into her efforts to keep even some of the camp’s prisoners safe, but she risks the revelation of her true identity with every attempt. When her bravery brings her to the point of the ultimate sacrifice, she has only her faith to lean upon. Perhaps God has placed her there for such a time as this, but how can she save her people when she is unable to save herself?

What are you listening to?  I love listening to instrumental artists when I’m writing. Currently, my favorites include Helen Jane Long, The Piano Guys, and the soundtrack from Lord of the Rings. Music that resonates with my story setting really inspires me.

What are you watching?  I’m watching episodes of “Wolfe Hall” and “Call the Midwife” at the moment, and looking forward to the new season of “Downton Abbey” and “Grantchester.” I adore all British historical drama!

What are you reading?  As for reading, I’ve almost finished author Stephanie Landsem’s fabulous Biblical fiction novel, “The Thief,” then moving on to Edwardian England and my next eagerly awaited story, “The Daughter of Highland Hall,” by Carrie Turansky. There are so many books I long to read, and as you can see from my bookshelf, I have plenty of treasure to keep me happily occupied for years. 🙂

Kate's Bookshelf

Thank you, Kate, for giving us a peek into your life and especially at your bookshelves!  I can see spending lots of time in front of those shelves reading!  To learn more about Kate visit her Website | Facebook | Twitter.

Up Close and Personal with Cathy Gohlke

Happy June, Inspy Friends! Our special author of the day is Cathy Gohlke, writer of Saving Amelie, shortlisted for the General Fiction Inspy.  Cathy is no stranger to the Inspy’s as she was also shortlisted in 2013 with Promise Me This.  Join us in welcoming this incredible lady.  We are thrilled to learn Cathy is hard at work on her next novel due in September, 2015.  Be sure to read through to the bottom as we’ve been given a few hints about Cathy’s next book in the picture at the bottom of this post.  Welcome Cathy!

saving amelieIncreasingly wary of her father’s genetic research, Rachel Kramer has determined that this trip with him to Germany–in the summer of 1939–will be her last. But a cryptic letter from her estranged friend, begging Rachel for help, changes everything. Married to SS officer Gerhardt Schlick, Kristine sees the dark tides turning and fears her husband views their daughter, Amelie, deaf since birth, as a blight on his Aryan bloodline.Once courted by Schlick, Rachel knows he’s as dangerous as the swastikas that hang like ebony spiders from every government building in Berlin. She fears her father’s files may hold answers about Hitler’s plans for others, like Amelie, whom the regime deems “unworthy of life.” She risks searching his classified documents only to uncover shocking secrets about her own history and a family she’s never known.Now hunted by the SS, Rachel turns to Jason Young–a driven, disarming American journalist and unlikely ally–who connects her to the resistance and to controversial theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Forced into hiding, Rachel’s every ideal is challenged as she and Jason walk a knife’s edge, risking their lives–and asking others to do the same–for those they barely know but come to love.

What are you listening to?
I’m loving Timeless Reflections, by Dave Kurtz. Inside the CD 
cover Kurtz writes, “This collection of cherished hymns is played on a piano—one instrument, no vocals—pure, simple, yet full of feeling and at times even complex and full of layers, much like our relationship with the Most Holy God.” This mesmerizing CD has long been my favorite, my absolute “go-to” when I need to stop, drop, and spend time with the Lord.

What are you watching?
I love British series—like “Downton Abbey” and “Endeavor” and “Foyle’s War.” I’m especially enjoying the new season of “Call the Midwives.” The characters are compassionate, real, and I love glimpsing each character’s backstory as their tale unfolds. Seeing themes from current events woven into the tapestry of long ago British life is an idea near and dear to my historical fiction writing heart.

Cathy's Daily Devotional Reading
What are you reading?
My daily devotional reading for this year includes The One Year Bible (NIV), Holy Scriptures Tree of Life Version, Jesus Today by Sarah Young, Hymns for the Living Church, and Notes from the Valley by Andy McQuitty. I love combining devotionals and a nonfiction book with daily Bible reading and hymn singing.

This second photo does not reveal the stack of tantalizing fiction lined up on my Kindle, but you can see that I’m focused on research in England for my work in progress—books to do with WWII child evacuees, the Blitz, the influence of C. S. Lewis, Beatrix Potter’s magical gardens, the flora and fauna of Britain and the beauty of the magnificent Lake District. You may also see some of my granddaughter’s books—which creep into every stack of books and take reading priority on daily demand. : )

Some of Cathy's research books for her work in progress

 

Thank you Cathy, for giving us brief glimpse into your world and a hint of what’s to come next!  For more information about Cathy and her books visit her Website | Facebook

Up Close & Personal with Lynn Austin

 

The INSPY Advisory Board is excited to welcome author, Lynn Austin. Her novel, Keepers of the Covenant, is on the short list for General Fiction. In this interview, Lynn shares how both she and her husband are creatively-inclined, plus a peek over her shoulder while hard at work! Welcome Lynn!

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In one life-changing moment, the lives of the Jewish exiles in Babylon are thrown into confusion and despair when a decree arrives from the king’s palace in Susa. It calls for the annihilation of every Jewish man, woman, and child throughout the empire on the thirteenth day of Adar, in less than one year. Ezra, a quiet Jewish scholar and teacher, is suddenly called upon to lead the community as they seek God for a reason for this catastrophe. When a second decree arrives, authorizing them to fight back, Ezra is thrust into the role of military leader as they defend themselves against their enemies.

When the battles come to an end, Ezra’s brother Jude is dead and Ezra is required by the Law he so diligently studies to marry Jude’s widow, Devorah, and provide an heir. Fatherhood changes Ezra, and he asks God to make a way for him and the other exiles to leave Babylon for good and return to Jerusalem. His prayers are answered and the exiles move to Judea to revitalize worship at the temple–but the fight to keep God’s Law is never easy. As more and more of his community are tempted, a new battle emerges…this one for the survival of God’s covenant and the souls of His chosen faithful.

What are you listening to?  I’m listening to “The Carnival of Venice,” a cornet solo that my husband (a professional musician) is practicing…and practicing…and practicing for a solo concert he is giving soon.

What are you watching?
I am a HUGE fan of all the decorating shows on HGTV. My current favorite is “Fixer Upper.”

What are you reading?  I’m currently reading a wonderful book by Jane Rubietta called Worry Less So You Can Live More.

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Hard at work. . .

Thank you for joining us Lynn and giving us a glimpse into her office and life!  To learn more about Lynn, visit her Website or Facebook .

Up Close and Personal with James L. Rubart

The Inspy’s Advisory Board is happy to welcome James L. Rubart, author of Spirit Bridge in the speculative fiction category!  James was the 2013 Inspy winner in speculative fiction with Soul’s Gate, on the shortlist in 2014 with Memory’s Door, and the 2010 shortlists with Room.

spiritbridgefrom Goodreads:

The warriors riding have battled in astounding supernatural realms. Set captives free. And awakened thousands of hearts. But now their only chance of survival depends on calling forth the spirit bridge.

Reece, Dana, Brandon, and Marcus have achieved staggering success in spiritual realms . . . but each is reeling from recent vicious attacks. They need rest. A break from the war.

But the warlord Zennon is raging and will give them no quarter. The demon holds what he believes is a trump card–a hidden strategy set in motion before the Warriors Riding even began–that will detonate the team from the inside out. And he’s just set it loose.

The street-magician Simon–finally free of Zennon’s alternate-reality prison–is racing to remember his past before his ignorance obliterates his destiny. Then there’s Miyo, a brash young warrior with advanced knowledge of spiritual realities and supernatural armor even Reece doesn’t know about. They will be pivotal in the final war against the Warriors Riding.

If only the Warriors knew which side Simon and Miyo are truly on.

What are you listening to? I’ve gotten hooked on podcasts lately. One called Serial was fascinating: http://serialpodcast.org/ Also been listening to Writing Excuses http://www.writingexcuses.com/ and How Stuff Works: http://www.stuffyoushouldknow.com/

 
What are you watching? Saw the new Avengers movie. Loved it. Been watching The Black List (James Spader is memorizing) and The Flash.

What are you reading? Ted Dekker’s A.D. 30, Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader 25th anniversary edition (great variety of trivia, history, personalities, pop culture) and I’m reading Killing Lions with my oldest son.

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James’ office ~ enter through the secret passageway {in his son’s closet!}

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I spy Inspy-nominated books on that shelf!

Thank you, James, for giving us a peek into your super-secret writing room! As a podcast listener myself, I can so relate to getting hooked on all things Serial!  Isn’t Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader the greatest? My family has been hooked on those books for years ~ it’s amazing the oddball trivia included.  Such a pleasure hosting you today, James!

Learn more about James Website | Facebook | Twitter.

Up Close & Personal with Kristy Cambron

 

The INSPY Advisory Board is excited to welcome author Kristy Cambron. Her novel, The Butterfly and the Violin is on the short list for Debut Fiction. In this interview, Kristy shares her “research” style  (who knew watching television and movies were required research skills!) and a sneak peek at what she’s working on now! Welcome Kristy!

thebutterflyandtheviolinfrom Goodreads:

A Mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz–and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan.

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl–a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover–the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul–who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting’s subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy of 1942, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: the grim camps of Auschwitz and the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.

Kirsty's Home Office

Kirsty’s Home Office

What are you listening to?  I’m writing my next novel now– a foray into the world of Jazz Age entertainers centered on the lives of John and Mable Ringling, and the circus in 1920s America. Because of this story that’s coming alive in my heart, I’m really interested in a sense of enchantment and the childlike wonder in the concept of fairy tale worlds. The circus is very much that – a world with possibilities that bends the rules of convention to create a new reality. The soundtrack for my life right now is centered on those themes in music from the movies: Finding Neverland, Cinderella Man, Anne of Green Gables, and Little Women. It’s all about what’s “out there” – the possibilities that exist if we’d only look beyond ourselves (and look to God) in order to find them.

What are you watching?  We authors like to call our favorite TV shows “research”. I’m falling back on the previous seasons of Downton Abbey – in part because the time fits with my current novel. In other part? The costumes and characterization are just so rich, that I love falling into that world over and over! And the channel that is always on my TV? Turner Classic Movies (TCM). I love, love, LOVE classic films and stars from the Golden Age of Hollywood: Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Spencer Tracy, Carole Lombard, Jimmy Stewart, Gary Cooper. I’m always going back to these important films because they’re the very definition of “classic”: you can always find something new in them.

Kirsty's Books Currently Reading

Kristy’s Nightstand

What are you reading?  As you can imagine, I’m reading research books on the Ringling Brothers’ circus and 1920s America. But after my novel is turned over to the brilliant hands of my editor? I’m going on a summer reading binge. I’m picking books now that range in: YA/fantasy, Regency, WWI, and even contemporary Chick-Lit. I’m so excited to explore some new worlds in between writing my upcoming novels. Can you say #BeachReads?! (P.S. Got any recommendations for me?)

Oh Kristy, have we got some good recommendations for you!  I’d say the entire shortlist lineup would be a great place to start 😉  I’m sure we have some readers who can offer great suggestions as well!  How about it Inspy Readers?

To learn more about Kristy, visit her Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

Up Close & Personal with Katherine Reay

Join me in welcoming Katherine Reay, last year’s winner of the Inspy for Debut Fiction.  Katherine’s second novel, Lizzy and Jane, has been shortlisted in this year’s General Fiction Category.

lizzy & janefrom Goodreads:

Lizzy and Jane never saw eye to eye. But when illness brings them together, they discover they may be more like Austen’s famous sisters after all.

Lizzy was only a teenager when her mother died of cancer. Shortly after, Lizzy fled from her home, her family, and her cherished nickname. After working tirelessly to hone her gift of creating magic in the kitchen, Elizabeth has climbed the culinary ladder to become the head chef of her own New York restaurant, Feast. But as her magic begins to elude her, Paul, Feast’s financial backer, brings in someone to share her responsibilities and her kitchen. So Elizabeth flees again.

In a desperate attempt to reconnect with her gift, Elizabeth returns home. But her plans are derailed when she learns that her estranged sister, Jane, is battling cancer. Elizabeth surprises everyone—including herself—when she decides to stay in Seattle and work to prepare healthy, sustaining meals for Jane as she undergoes chemotherapy. She also meets Nick and his winsome son, Matt, who, like Elizabeth, are trying to heal from the wounds of the past.

As she tends to Jane’s needs, Elizabeth’s powers begin to return to her, along with the family she left behind so long ago. Then Paul tries to entice her back to New York, and she is faced with a hard decision: stay and become Lizzy to her sister’s Jane, or return to New York and the life she worked so hard to create?

What are you listening to? Chicago has a wonderful outdoor music venue each summer, Ravinia, and we got tickets to Pink Martini and NeedToBreathe this summer so I’ve been switching back and forth getting very excited about the concerts… And one is never too far from the Zac Brown Band in this family.

What are you watching? My youngest daughter’s volleyball schedule has really cut into my TV time. As a family, we’re faithful to Jeopardy and The Amazing Race. My kids want us to apply – I think my husband and I could be the #MarriedMarathoners. I’d also like to catch up on Castle before I get too far behind and forget I ever loved the show.

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What are you reading? Here are the four books I’m reading right now. I usually read four at a time and one is almost always a C.S. Lewis. I’m only on page 3 of The Conservation one, so clearly I’m finding that the least compelling… And here is my desk! Thanks so much for inviting me here!

 

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Ahh, Katherine, we are the thankful ones! To know you’ve got a C.S. Lewis book going most of the time (I know of 2 Advisory Board Members who follow that mindset as well) in addition to the Austen references in both Lizzy & Jane and Dear Mr. Knightley, not to mention the gorgeous elephant print above your desk and the fact you love Castle. . .will you be my new best friend?!?

I know you’ll want to learn all about Katherine, especially, if you’ve read her books.  If you haven’t read either of her novels, what the heck are you waiting for! In the meantime ~

You can find Katherine on her Website | Facebook | Twitter

Author Interview: Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon

So thrilled to welcome Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon, authors of the young adult shortlisted novel, Doon.  Be sure to play along with Carey’s writing space ‘I Spy’ at the end of the interview and leave us a comment with the number of items you actually did spy!

17745703Veronica doesn’t think she’s going crazy. But why can’t anyone else see the mysterious blond boy who keeps popping up wherever she goes? When her best friend, Mackenna, invites her to spend the summer in Scotland, Veronica jumps at the opportunity to leave her complicated life behind for a few months.

But the Scottish countryside holds other plans.

Not only has the imaginary kilted boy followed her to Alloway, she and Mackenna uncover a strange set of rings and a very unnerving letter from Mackenna’s great aunt—and when the girls test the instructions Aunt Gracie left behind, they find themselves transported to a land that defies explanation. Doon seems like a real-life fairy tale, complete with one prince who has eyes for Mackenna and another who looks suspiciously like the boy from Veronica’s daydreams. But Doon has a dark underbelly as well. The two girls could have everything they’ve longed for…or they could end up breaking an enchantment and find themselves trapped in a world that has become a nightmare.

DOON is loosely based on the premise of the musical Brigadoon, with permission from the ALan Jay Lerner Estate and the Frederick Loewe Foundation. Follow the journey at http://www.DoonSeries.com

~Destiny awaits!

What led you to writing?

Lorie: Mine was a long journey with lots of detours. I grew up obsessed with reading fiction and had a teacher in high school who encouraged me to purse writing as a career, so I majored in Journalism in college. But because of some well-meaning guidance from a professor—“you have too much talent to waste it on being a newspaper journalist writing stories about old ladies with cats”—I changed my major to Sociology with an emphasis in Human Resources.

For many years I made good money working in large corporations, but the work of hiring and firing was slowly killing my soul. So when I was in my early 30s, I began to pray for guidance, asking specifically for God to show me His purpose for my life. It wasn’t long after that, that I had a dream that inspired me to write my first novel. (That novel is a time-travel set during the American Revolution with Inspirational elements. It has yet to be published, but I’m currently re-working it for the YA market. )

Carey: When I invested my summer after sixth grade writing 100 pages of bad soap opera fashioned after Santa Barbara, I should have figured out that writing was my passion. But sadly, it would take another decade and a half to discover my destined path. In my late 20s, I had a dream inspired by the live-action Peter Pan movie from 2003 directed by P.J. Hogan. The next day I wrote the first chapter of Shades of Neverland and I was hooked.

Tell us a book you feel epitomizes quality faith-driven literature.

Lorie: I adore The Halflings Series by Heather Burch because the characters are real and make mistakes. They feel things deeply and those feelings aren’t watered-down or sanitized. And I love that the spiritual message is woven seamlessly into a story full of action and romance, and ultimately hope.

Carey: C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia. I took a class on the works of C.S. Lewis and adore all of it from his sermons to his fantasy and science fiction.

What is your favorite quote or saying?

Lorie: Well, if you follow me on Pinterest you know I have a little bit of a quote fascination. But one I’ve always loved is by Henry van Dyke: “Use what talent you possess: The world would be very silent if no birds sang except those that sang best.” It reminds me to turn off my inner-critic because when it comes to creative endeavors everyone has something unique to give.

Carey: That’s a toss-up between Albert Camus and Walt Disney. They both inspire me in different ways. “In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.” Albert Camus. “All our dreams can come true if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney.

What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, theological, or logistical) in bringing the book to life?

Lorie: I think we had challenges in each one of those categories. LOL! We’re on our second agent and we did six complete rewrites of DOON before it was published. So there were plenty of spiritual and physiological battles that almost derailed this entire project. But one of the most interesting challenges we faced was when our current agent told us we needed to get copy right permissions from the original writers of Brigadoon before she could send the book to publishers.

Neither one of us could afford an intellectual property attorney, but in what can only be called a miraculous blessing, I found one who gave me tips over the phone on how to approach the Lerner and Loewe estate—for free! Taking his advice, Carey called the estate attorneys and made the request. After several months of waiting on pins and needles, they granted us the rights to tell our story free and clear!

In writing a series together how do you break down the division of writing, research and editing?

Carey: We divide the writing by character. I write Mackenna and Lorie writes Veronica. And we both research, create the overall plot and work to polish the final document. Splitting responsibilities such as blogging, promotions, and social networking is a great blessing. The biggest advantage is that you have someone who is equally invested. Someone you can call at midnight with a brilliant plot idea, who won’t curse you out and block your phone number.

Favorite book ~ favorite movie ~ favorite tv show?

Lorie: Oh, this is hard. I have so many! But I’ll take a shot at my “current” favorites:
Fav book: SIEGE & STORM (the whole series) by Leigh Bardugo
Fav movie: FROZEN
Fav tv show: ONCE UPON A TIME
(Yes, I’m a bit fairytale obsessed!)

Carey: It’s hard to pick one. Here are my top two.
Fav book: LES MISERABLES by Victor Hugo/PRIDE AND PREJUDICE by Jane Austen
Fav movie: SIXTEEN CANDLES/LA VITA E BELLA
Fav tv show: BIG BANG THEORY/WALKING DEAD/ONCE UPON A TIME

What do you hope readers take away from Doon
Believing in something and pursuing it with all your heart is the most terrifying thing you will ever do, but it will take you on unimaginable adventures and just might lead to your happily ever after!

Thank you ladies for giving us a peek at your writing system AND your offices!  Lorie you are amongst friends here with your favorite tv show – there’s a few Walking Dead fans around here!  

While I really really want my space to look like Lorie’s, inevitably, I have my own ‘I spy’ game going on with my desk.  You ladies rock! 

 

Carey's writing space - Inspy InterviewCarey’s Writing Space note: I can’t believe that I’m showing you my wreck of a writing space. But I thought that the authors who exist—and thrive—in chaos might appreciate the validation. I like to think of it like an I Spy picture book. I spy … five Doon Lego figures, a playbill from the my most recent Broadway series musical, a stuffed Kenna doll, wind chimes, a Doon coffee mug, a kalimba made from recyclables, one Scottish nutcracker, a Campbell County Public Library CONNECTIONS newsletter, a carriage fit for a princess, a Darth Vader Lego pen, the fantasy castle that inspired the Castle MacCrae, a KEEP CALM AND CROSS THE BRIDGE button, and a baggie of buttons. (Bonus points for finding the owl, sheep, spotted inchworm, beanie frog, and monkey.)

Lorie's desk

Lorie’s Writing Space note: I just finished remodeling our dining room into my dedicated office space—the first one I’ve ever had! But it’s unlikely it will stay looking this organized for long. 😉

 

Author Interview: Travis Thrasher

Thrilled to be bringing Travis Thrasher, author of shortlisted young adult novel Hurt ~ Book Number 4 in The Solitary Series to the Inspy’s blog!  As a huge fan myself of The Chronicles of Narnia series, I have a special affinity for Travis and his work.  We hope you enjoy learning a bit more of this flavorful author!

13207224His Rebellion Will Soon Turn to Hope When Chris Buckley first encountered the mysteries of creepy Solitary, North Carolina, he had little idea how far he would fall into the town’s shadows. After losing the love of his life, Chris tried to do things his way. He hunted answers. Then he gave up trying to find them. But now Chris comes back to Solitary knowing there’s a purpose for his being there. As he watches his place in a twisted and evil bloodline become clear, Chris waits for the last battle—and wonders who will be left when he finally makes his stand. The fourth and final book in the Solitary Tales shines light into deep darkness as Chris’s journey to Solitary comes to a dramatic close.

What led you to writing?  I’ve wanted to be a writer since my third grade teacher encouraged me in my writing. I foolishly thought I want to do that for a living one day. Thankfully it’s good to think foolish thoughts every now and then.

Tell us a book you feel epitomizes quality faith-driven literature.   I’ll go back to the series that started making me want to be a writer: the Narnia Chronicles by C.S. Lewis.

More currently, I’m a big fan of Chris Fabry’s work. Titles like June Bug and Almost Heaven are beautifully written dramas. I really wish he’d stop writing such great books. Give us less-skilled authors a break.

What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, theological, or logistical) in bringing this book to life?   For Hurt, I was coming to the conclusion of a long journey. There were probably about two hundred questions that needed answering. I tried to answer quite a few. I wanted to payoff for those readers who had invested time and energy into the story. It’s all about Chris Buckley’s journey toward finding hope. I loved the emotional journey he’s on, and even the moments where you think he’s going to be the hero he needs to be and he just fails. That’s real life. That’s why I love Chris.

What do you hope readers take away from Hurt?   No matter what dark place you find yourself in, no matter what age you might be, God loves you and is pursuing you. I don’t care if that sounds corny. It’s the truth. There’s a lot of hurt in this world. It’s how you deal with that hurt that counts.


 

Epic words Travis, epic words – learning to deal with hurt IS the ultimate challenge.  Thank you for sharing your stories with us and especially for writing quality faith-driven lit for the youth of today.

To connect with Travis or to learn more about his novels for both young people and adults, please visit his website at TravisThrasher.com

Author Interview: Stephanie Morrill

We are thrilled to have Stephanie Morrill on the Inspy’s Blog today.  Stephanie is the author of shortlisted young adult novel The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet.  Stephanie writes young adult contemporary novels and is the creator of GoTeenWriters.com. Her novels include The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series (Revell) and the Ellie Sweet books (Playlist).

18741771For once, Ellie Sweet has it all together. Her hair now curls instead of fuzzes, she’s tamed the former bad-boy, Chase Cervantes (she has, right?), and her debut novel will hit shelves in less than a year. Even her ex-friends are leaving her alone. Well, except for Palmer Davis, but it can’t be helped that he works at her grandmother’s nursing home.

Life should feel perfect. And yet, it’s not that easy. Ellie’s editor loves her, but the rest of the publishing biz? Not so much. And they’re not shy about sharing their distrust over Ellie’s unlikely debut.

Ellie has always been able to escape reality in the pages of her novel, but with the stress of major edits and rocky relationships, her words dry up. In fiction, everything always comes together, but in real life, it seems to Ellie that hard work isn’t always enough, the people you love can’t always be trusted, and the dream-come-true of publishing her book could be the biggest mistake she’s made yet.

What led you to writing? I started writing stories in first grade. We were given writing time every day in class and could write about whatever we wanted. When we finished our stories, we turned them in and someone (a teacher or volunteer parent, maybe) would type them for us. We got to pick the color of our cover and binding, and then they printed out our “book” for us to illustrate and read to the class. I loved it and from then on I started telling people I wanted to be a novelist when I grew up.

Stephanie Morrill Low ResTell us of a book you feel epitomizes faith-driven literature. I adored The Passion of Mary-Margaret by Lisa Samson. Not only was the writing beautiful, but the story spoke about Jesus’s great love for us in a very organic way.

What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, theological or logistical) in bringing your book to life?   The hardest thing about writing The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet was that the first book had just been released, so I was getting a bunch of reader feedback AS I wrote the sequel. My readers are wonderfully opinionated girls and they let me know who they liked and who they didn’t like. When I experienced that with my first series (The Reinvention of Skylar Hoyt series) I had already written all three books. It was hard at times with The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet to drill into the story without letting in too many voices.

Favorite book ~ favorite movie ~ favorite tv show? I want to say Pride and Prejudice, but it seems like everyone says that. My favorite book that I read recently was 11/22/63 by Stephen King. I was in awe of it.

My favorite movie is Pride and Prejudice, the one made in 2004. (Or 2005?)

I loved both Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars, and I lost them right around the same time. It was a dark time for me with TV 🙂 Fortunately, soon after, I discovered 30 Rock.

Stephanie's Office

Stephanie’s Office

What do you hope readers take away from The Unlikely Debut of Ellie Sweet?  I loved how Ellie’s sense of security came out in this book. In the first book, she made a lot of choices out of insecurity. In the continuation of her story, we see a lot more of her drawing a line in the sand and saying, “No, I’m not going to do that. That’s not who I am.” That was really fun to develop.

Stephanie, a writer after my own heart – 11-22-63 IS MY all-time favorite!  Thank you so much for joining us today and sharing a bit more of how your novel came to be.  To find out more about Stephanie, please visit her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and if you’re a teen writer, definitely check out Go Teen Writers!