Interview: Ronie Kendig

When you walk into a bookstore, you make a beeline for what section? I always check out the “What’s New” section, then I tend to browse the Science Fiction section…then I end up in the Young Adult/Fantasy section.

Favorite place to write: Honestly? At my desk or at Starbucks, sometimes Barnes & Noble, but it’s a jaunt to either of the latter two, and I always forget to bring something, so I get frustrated. That’s why home is still my favorite place to write.

Go-to writing snack or drink: Due to food allergies and intolerances (can we take a moment of silence for this grief-inducing reality?), I am really restricted in my eating these days, which is why I LOVE having a Starbucks Skinny Vanilla Latte. . . beside that, I’m munching on peanuts or a Paleo trail mix of Coconut and seeds (no tree nuts for me).

Something you must do or have to write: Because I live with three guys who love to game it means there can be a lot of background noise—often competing chaos—so I always wear noise-canceling earbuds or headphones with soundtrack-style music, which is chosen/curated for the book I’m writing.

What book is currently on your nightstand? Right now, I’m working through the original Dune as well as Marisa Meyer’s Archenemies.

Hard copy, e-reader, audio book: YES! Oh wait, I have to pick one? Um, how about a hardcopy along with an audio book? That’s sort of two-in-one for me.

What was the inspiration behind Storm Rising? One day, I reading my devotional and came across a verse in the book of Numbers that said, “and the book of the wars of the Lord…” and I stopped dead in my tracks. What was this? I was so excited and knew it had potential, so I contacted my friend Dr. Joseph Cathey and got his ideas on what this was and what I could with it. Since it is a book lost to humanity, I had an blank slate to work from.

If Storm Rising was turned into a movie, who would you cast as the leads? I would probably want Jessie Pavelka, who is a trainer, but I don’ know if he acts. But he’s who I’ve had in mind from the start when I introduced Leif Metcalfe in Crown of Souls. The Turkish actress I used for Iskra was Tuba Büyüküstün.

What is next? After Storm Rising comes Kings Falling, which will release in April 2020, but this December, Brand of Light, the first book in my space opera fiiiiinally releases from Enclave Publishing.

About the Story:

Mentioned in the pages of the Septuagint but lost to history, the Book of the Wars has resurfaced, and its pages hold secrets–and dangers–never before seen on earth.

Tasked with capturing the ancient text, former Navy SEAL Leif Metcalfe is finally given command of his own team. But their best efforts are ruined when a notorious Bulgarian operative known as “Viorica” snatches the volume right out from under them.

Iskra “Viorica” Todorova is determined to use the book to secure the thing that matters most–freedom. But a series of strange storms erupts around the globe and the coming dangers foretold in the text threaten crops, lives–entire nations.
Though both are haunted by secrets of their past and neither trusts the other, Leif and Iskra must form an uneasy alliance to thwart impending disaster. However, the truth hidden in two-thousand-year-old words could unleash the storm of their own destruction.

Connect with Ronie through her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Excerpt: The Art of Rivers by Janet W. Ferguson

Chapter 1

Love, like art, took on different forms with each creator. Rivers Sullivan quickened her pace to a skip, her ruffled skirt bouncing in the muggy Memphis breeze. People rushed down the city sidewalks, and cars raced by, but her thoughts rolled with wonder over the joy in her life. Her eyes captured the way the sun lowered on the western horizon, creating long shadows, the way wispy clouds layered below the indigo sky. She couldn’t seem to stop herself from mixing colors and feelings in her mind, making pictures from all she saw.

Sometimes love blurred, the shades and thin lines smudging like the dark blues and greens and purples of a bruise. Undefined. Her mother’s love had been that way—before the accident.

Other times, love’s colors shone clear and crisp like a beacon in the darkness, bright and steadfast. Her father’s love had always been strong and true, a light leading her home. Both her earthly father and her heavenly Father’s love had held her on course.

Then there was Jordan. His love burst with yellows and reds, excitement and delight, exploded with gentle blues of sincerity and commitment, a feeling she’d never expected to find. Jordan had been a lifeline thrown to a lonely girl drowning in a sea of men with no conviction.

But today, love was paperwork, lovely black-and-white paperwork that would soon bond her to the man she’d never imagined existed. A man strong in his faith, his sobriety, and his willingness to wait.

And the wait wouldn’t last much longer. Her face heated with the thought. Ten days. Just wearing the sparkling engagement ring still made her finger tingle after two months. She glanced at her hand, which was dotted with paint. She’d missed a few spots.

But her breath stalled at the sight of the ring.

Oh no. The diamond was missing.

She spun, retraced her steps along the sidewalk back to her Volkswagen bug, unlocked the doors, and ran her hands across the stained seats and carpet. Her head knocked the steering wheel, but she ignored the bump. In the back of the car, she lifted the canvases and paint containers lining every inch of space. Please let it be here.

Her fingers stretched under the seats, searching for something—anything solid. “Come on. I can’t have lost it already.” Maybe the stone had fallen out in the museum while she was at work. She’d never find it there.

Then her index finger rolled across a small, hard lump. She pinched the pebble-like matter and pulled it out from under the seat. “Let it be. Let it be.”

The diamond emerged in her fingers. Her neck and shoulders relaxed. “Thank you, Lord.”

After removing the ring, she placed both pieces into the front glove box for safekeeping. His grandmother’s ring had fit perfectly, but she and Jordan hadn’t thought to check the prongs to make sure the setting was still secure. At least she’d found the diamond. She breathed a sigh and stood up straight. A jeweler would fix the ring. Nothing could steal the joy she felt today.

“Hello?” Jordan’s voice warmed her ear, his breath tickling her cheek. His hands rested on her shoulders, and he leaned closer. “You’re not changing your mind about me, are you?”

Rivers whirled, her heart racing. His voice did that same thing in her chest every single time. She slipped her arms around his neck. This gorgeous man standing in front of her had to be kidding. “Never. You’re my heart.”

She gazed into those astounding rich brown eyes, which flawlessly matched his short dark hair. How did such perfection exist? As an artist, she’d studied colors and textures all her life, and she’d never seen such faultless coordination. Not to mention the cute angle of his nose, the dimples pressed in the center of his cheeks, and the contoured lips, which left a small shadow above his chin. She brushed a kiss across his mouth, sending butterflies to flight inside her. Still. After six months and a whirlwind courtship, she could barely wait to be Jordan’s wife.

“Whew. You had me worried when I saw you go back to your ugly green excuse for a vehicle.”

“Hey, don’t knock the Stink Bug. She’s a good car, sort of. Except for the smell. And the smallness. And the age.” A smile lifted her lips. “Were you spying on me again?”

“Always. That’s how we met, remember?”

“I’ll never forget.” That day at the museum when he’d followed her to the studio still made her smile.

Jordan’s gaze wandered to her lips. “We should go in before I forget why we came.”

“Right. We need the marriage license to be official. I almost lost the setting from the ring you gave me. I was locking it up until I can get it repaired.”

“As long as you don’t lose me.” His hands dropped to catch her fingers. “I’ll take care of it. You will be my lawful wife. I ran all over town to finalize adding you to my deeds, my car title, my bank account, and my will.”

“Don’t talk about wills. That’s depressing. Let’s go be happy.”

Jordan bowed and kissed her right palm. “After you.”

She offered a curtsy. “My Prince Charming. I knew it the first time I saw you.”

Inside the courthouse, her blue nail polish glinted as Rivers signed her name across the marriage license. Her fairy tale would be a reality soon. She giggled and danced a circle around her fiancé. “Your turn, sir.”

Jordan grinned and tweaked her chin. “I do love how you move. And that cute skirt you’re wearing. And your blue eyes. And your crazy blond hair. And your lips.” His gaze roamed her face.

Not even the presence of the clerk could still the effect this man had on her. She took a deep breath and belted out, “I love you. I love you. I—”

“Oh, man.” Jordan pressed one finger over her mouth and laughed. “Not the singing. You’ll have every stray alley cat in Memphis gathering outside.”

The woman behind the counter cleared her throat and chuckled. “I’m still here.”

“Right. Paperwork.” Grinning, Jordan stepped to the laminate counter to sign his name. Jordan Alexander Barlow III.

And she would be Mrs. Jordan Alexander Barlow. How sweet was that?

Once they’d finished, she followed him out of the downtown Memphis government office and onto the sidewalk. The fierce heatwave that had shrouded the city for a week swarmed them. Late September meant the beginning of fall in some parts of the world, but not here. At least they’d waited until the end of the workday instead of the blistering lunch hour to get the license.

Near the car, Jordan’s hand slipped to the small of her back and nudged her around to face him. “Picnic in the park? I picked up your favorite barbeque and sweet tea, and put a new sketch pad in my car.”

What were the odds that she would find a man who loved her enough to know all her favorites and give them to her every chance he got? “I don’t deserve to be so happy.” His smoldering gaze did all kinds of crazy things to her brain. Breathing deeply beside his ear, she whispered, “Yes, we’d best move along.”

“Right. Wait here, and I’ll get everything.” His shaky exhale made her smile. At least he felt the same. Jordan unlocked the passenger door of his Mercedes and gathered their picnic basket, sketch pad, and a new pack of her favorite pencils.

He’d thought of everything. “Thank you.” She tucked the pad under one arm and the pencils into her handbag, leaving the food for him to carry.

Hand in hand, they walked toward the Mississippi. She’d painted the mighty river hundreds of times, from hundreds of viewpoints, during hundreds of sunrises and sunsets, but none moved her like the portrait she would present Jordan on their wedding day. She’d drawn him standing there, watching her work in the early morning, golden light frolicking on his coffee-colored curls and glittering in the deep pools and currents of his gaze.

“Tell me where we’re going on our honeymoon. Please.” Rivers squeezed his hand, made puppy-dog eyes, and batted her lashes. “I don’t know what clothes to bring.”

Mischief danced in his gaze. “Just bring yourself. Nothing else required.” His voice held a smile.

Heat seared her cheeks and churned up a laugh. “You. Come here.” She stopped, draped an arm around his neck, and planted another kiss on his lips. All her life, she’d prayed and waited for this man. She hung there for a moment, staring. Could she ask the other question again without upsetting the perfect moment? “Did you call Jay?”

A sigh worked its way through Jordan’s lips. “Tonight. I’m calling him tonight. I got his number from my step-uncle.”

“Really? You’re asking him to the wedding?”

His gaze dropped as he shook his head. “I can’t do that to Mom and Dad.”

“I would never want to upset your mom and dad. Brooklyn has been so wonderful to help plan the wedding.”

“But you’re right. I need to let him know I’ve forgiven him, leave the past in the past. Start a new kind of relationship with him.” His chin rested on her forehead. “You make me a better man.”

His stomach rumbled, and she pulled away.

“Or a hungry man.” She smiled up at him.

“I worked through lunch again so maybe the office will leave us alone during our honeymoon.”

“They’d better. Vast River Architecture cannot have you that week. You’re all mine.” They passed under a cluster of trees and shrubs, and movement caught her attention. “Did you see that?”

“What?” Jordan glanced back and forth.

A shiver crept across her shoulders. Homeless people and addicts tottered around downtown areas in most cities, and Memphis was no exception. Despite the fact that she’d been in this spot often, she stopped and scanned the scene again. Something in her spirit warned of danger. “There’s someone behind those bushes. Maybe in a hoodie…”

Jordan took a step and craned his neck. “I don’t see—”

An explosion like fireworks popped and rung in her ears. Another blast, this with impact, hard and swift as a kick in the chest. A red-hot burning sensation pierced her shoulder and back. Time slowed, and a scream ripped from her throat.

Jordan dropped to his knees clutching his chest. Red spread around his fingers, contrasting sharply against his pale blue shirt.

Hot liquid poured all around her, and her vision tunneled white. A fountain of blood. But she had to get to him. “Jordan…” She stumbled forward and fell to her knees beside him, clutched his face. Spots danced in front of her eyes as the throbbing in her shoulder pulsed. Then darkness dragged her into its abyss.

About the Author:

Janet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served as a children’s minister and a youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a cat that allows them to share the space.

Connect with Janet through her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.

 

Interview: Melissa Tagg

When you walk into a bookstore, you make a beeline for what section?

If it’s a bookstore with a coffeeshop, then I head there first. LOL! Otherwise, I tend to veer straight toward the inspirational section. I loooove reading inspirational historical romance. If the section includes spines with author names such as Joanne Bischof, Lori Benton and Laura Frantz, that’s where you’ll find me browsing.

Favorite place to write:

My house! In the winter, I’m almost always in the living room in front of my fireplace…or at the dining room table, which also has a good view of the fire. But also love just sitting in bed writing…camping out at the kitchen table…or, of course, my office/writing room. If I’m spending a whole day writing, I tend to flit from room to room every couple of hours.

Go-to writing snack or drink:

In the morning, coffee coffee coffee!
In the afternoon, Ginger Lime Diet Coke.
All day, if I’m being a good girl, water. J

Snack-wise, my preference would be M&Ms and endless chips and salsa and Twizzlers and like, a whole box of Pop-Tarts. But I’m in my thirties now, so uhhh, my metabolism and my taste buds really don’t sync up anymore. So I try my best to go with healthy snacks—baby carrots, snow peas, hummus, grapes.

What does your writing nook look like?

Well, I tend to write all over the place, but here are a couple pics of one of my favorite spots – my living room. I love to lounge on the couch or in the corner on my comfy chair. What these pics don’t show is one of my favorite features of the room – the skylights! It’s such a bright, pretty spot.

Something you must do or have to write:

Beverages! If I’m not surrounded by at least two beverages, I just can’t write. Lol! Also, pajama pants. And total silence.

Favorite (doesn’t that word just make you cringe?) writer resource:

Truly, anything from Susan May Warren! She has put out so many amazing writing resources. My favorite is her story equation workbook. It’s transformed the way I look at my characters.

What book is currently on your nightstand?

Whose Waves These Are by debut novelist Amanda Dykes. I am sooooo excited to read it. And also The Next Right Thing from Emily P. Freeman.

Hard copy, e-reader, audio book:

Honestly, lately I do 90% of my reading on my kindle. It’s just so handy and light and perfect for reading at night (or in the bath tub – lol!). But for my very favorite books by my very favorite authors, I still feel a great need to own the paperback.

What was the inspiration behind Now and Then and Always?

A couple things! In my 2015 book, Like Never Before, I mention a B&B at the edge of Maple Valley, Iowa, called the Everwood Bed & Breakfast. I described it as this old, sort of spooky house in that book and even though it only received a brief mention, I knew someday I’d come back to it. Four years later, I finally am!

Also, in my previous Walker Family series, I had so many side characters who grew on me immensely, even if they didn’t get much page time. So as that series drew to an end, I was pretty positive I wanted my next series to feature those side characters as main characters.

Finally, the TV show Stranger Things. 🙂 There’s a character on that show named Chief Hopper and I looooove him. He’s so sad and so wounded and basically just this wreck of a man at the beginning of the series, but he winds up being such a lovable and sympathetic hero. I decided when I first saw that series that I wanted to write my own Hopper-esque character—someone with deep, deep hurts who has not handled his pain well. So that’s how Marshall Hawkins, the hero in Now and Then and Always was born. (His name is even a nod to Stranger Things. Hawkins is the name of the town in Stranger Things.)

Favorite part of writing Now and Then and Always:

My favorite part of writing this book, truthfully, has been seeing God bring the story alive so quickly and fully after a looooong period of not writing. I barely wrote at all in 2018 and when 2019 hit, I was so hungry to get back to it but also so nervous about it. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to settle back in or that I’d just plain forgotten how to write. But I’d set aside a week in February to dive in…and in just that week, I wrote 171 pages! It was c-r-a-z-y. And I’m telling you, I felt God at work as I wrote that week…it’s like He was feeding my creativity every step of the way. So, personally, that was just a beautiful thing to experience.

But as for the story itself, my favorite part was writing Marshall into existence. He’s so very sad and so very flawed, but deep down, he wants to learn to hope again. He wants to heal and move on…he just has no idea how. And oh, I loved spending time with him.

Hardest part of writing Now and Then and Always:

This is easy to answer! The hardest part of writing this book was trying to kick off a new series that includes both new and old characters in a town long-time Tagg readers know but new readers don’t. It was such a juggling act to give all the characters at the forefront of the series a proper introduction…it reminded me of trying to introduce all the Walkers in the first book of my Walker Family series. It’s hard not to overwhelm the main story when you’re trying to set up future stories.

If Now and Then and Always was turned into a movie, who would you cast as the leads?

Little tidbit about me: I never think of actors to play my characters. I just never do! I know lots of writers who post actor photos near their computer as inspiration for their characters, but for some reason, I don’t like doing that.

However, if I had to cast my people, I might go with:

Marshall Hawkins – a somewhat younger David Harbour, solely because that’s the guy who plays Jim Hopper on Stranger Things, the character that inspired Marshall

Mara Bristol – Amy Adams

What is next?

Later this year, I’ll be releasing a new Christmas novella as part of a collection with three other stellar authors. And this’ll be new for me – all the stories will have royalty in them!

Then, probably in early 2020, the next book in my new Maple Valley series will release. J

What else would you like readers to know?

I just want readers to know how grateful I am to every one of them who takes the time to read one of my books, write a review, post about it on social media, etc. Those friendships with readers are a piece of this writing journey I honestly didn’t even know to expect when I first started out. It’s one of the most rewarding, joyful parts of this author road!

About the Story:

Last year, after traumatic circumstances forced her from her job as a nanny, Mara Bristol finally found a place to belong—the winsome Everwood Bed & Breakfast at the edge of Maple Valley, Iowa. For months, she’s helped its owner, Lenora, maintain the ramshackle property despite their shortage of guests. But when Lenora fails to return from a month-long trip and the bank threatens foreclosure, Mara worries she’s once again alone . . . abandoned . . . about to lose the only true home she’s ever known.

Detective Marshall Hawkins is no closer to whole today than he was two years ago . . . the day his daughter died. Between his divorce, debilitating migraines, and a dependence on medication, his life is falling apart. And when a reckless decision on the job propels him into administrative leave, he has no other plan but to get in his truck and drive. A one-night stay at the Everwood was supposed to be just that. But there’s something about the old house—or maybe its intriguing caretaker—that pulls him in.

Together, Mara and Marshall set out to save the Everwood. But its secrets run deeper than they could’ve imagined. As they renovate the house and search for its missing owner, they’ll each confront the pain that brought them to the Everwood in the first place . . . and just maybe discover a faith and love to help them carry on.

Connect with Melissa through her website, Facebook, and Instagram.

Interview: Amanda Barratt

When you walk into a bookstore, you make a beeline for what section? This is such a great question! Though I do buy a lot of books online, bookstores are my happy place. Especially the ones that have coffee shops, because then the air smells like books and coffee. ❤ I typically head first to the Christian Fiction section to try and spot friends’ new releases. Then I make my way to the history and biography area. I do a lot of “window shopping” there, jotting down titles to order through my local library. It’s always such a thrill finding a book I haven’t heard of on a topic I’m currently researching. I also love browsing for new historical fiction. I could honestly spend all day in a bookstore, and not get bored!

Favorite place to write: I do all of my heavy-duty writing at my desk, which is set up with an ergonomic keyboard and mouse. When I’m editing galleys or doing a read-through of my manuscript in hard copy, I sit on my couch, or sometimes head to a coffee shop. I write everywhere though, as ideas come to me at all kinds of crazy times. I had a fabulous idea the other day while making a salad for dinner.  Midway through washing the lettuce, I dried my hands, and spent several minutes scribbling. 🙂

Go-to writing snack or drink: I don’t eat while writing. Sometimes, I eat breakfast (a spelt English muffin with almond butter and a banana) while checking social media in the morning, before writing. I do drink water, and sometimes tea—the latter always adds such an air of elegance.

What does your writing nook look like? I write in an upstairs loft, and absolutely love having my own space dedicated to creativity. The only downside is that it’s a loft, and I can hear everything going on in the rest of the house. Which isn’t the best for intense creativity. So I listen to music a lot.

Something you must do or have to write: Since I write historicals, I can’t function without my research books. During the first draft and editing, they’re usually scattered all across my desk, sprinkled with sticky note flags and jotted-down notes.

On a more serious note, I can’t write without having first prayed and spent time in Scripture. God is the only reason I can produce anything of value, and I couldn’t put words on the page, without having first spent time with Him, even if it’s only for a few minutes.

Favorite (doesn’t that word just make you cringe?) writer resource: Ahhh! This is so hard! There are so many great ones. I love Donald Maass’s Writing the Breakout Novel workbook and book. It’s so helpful for digging deep into plot and characters, and always pushes me to think of my story in a new way. I also love the blog Seekerville (http://seekerville.blogspot.com). It’s a wonderful community of writers, and reading their archives is like getting a master class in craft.

What book is currently on your nightstand? Currently, (writing this post in mid-March) I’m reading Jocelyn Green’s Between Two Shores. I’m about 150 pages in, and it is SO GOOD. Jocelyn writes historical fiction that is always rich and immersive, and this novel is no exception. It’s such a unique story too, and I can tell I’m going to need Kleenex for the ending.

Hard copy, e-reader, audio book: Since I spend so much time in front of a screen every day, I definitely prefer hard copy. I love feeling the weight of a book in my hands, and being able to admire the cover while reading. I will make an exception with a novella that’s only available as an e-book—Rachel McMillan’s wonderful Rose in Three Quarter Time, for example.

What was the inspiration behind My Dearest Dietrich? They say every story has a seed. The seed for My Dearest Dietrich emerged when I heard the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer for the first time. I’m from a very literary family, and our dinner conversations often revolve around the books we’re reading. When my mom read Eric Metaxas’s Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness, she shared the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer with us. But I wasn’t inspired to write about him until I came across a quote from Love Letters from Cell 92, which is a compilation of the letters Bonhoeffer exchanged with his fiancée during their engagement. When I read the quote, the dots connected in my mind. “Wait. Dietrich Bonhoeffer had a fiancée?” The minute I began reading about Maria von Wedemeyer, I knew this was a story begging to be told.

Favorite part of writing My Dearest Dietrich: Discovering who Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Maria von Wedemeyer were at their deepest level. Reaching beyond the surface history found in a Wikipedia article, and reading the letters they wrote to each other, the letters Bonhoeffer wrote to family and friends, excerpts from Maria’s diary. All of this, combined with delving into what it was like to live in Nazi Germany through memoirs and historical texts, provided the backbone for this novel. I felt a bit like a detective, and always got a thrill out of discovering something new—an interview Maria did in 1974 for Malcolm Muggeridge’s television documentary A Third Testament, interviews with Bonhoeffer’s niece and sister in the online archives of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, an article written in German that I could read the gist of using Google Translate. It was definitely the most intense project I’ve ever undertaken, but also the most thrilling and rewarding.

Hardest part of writing My Dearest Dietrich: Sifting through fact and conjuncture to get to the heart of who Dietrich and Maria were. Bonhoeffer is someone a wide range of people have a wide range of opinions about. Sometimes it felt like picking through a huge pile of sand to extract the diamonds. Also, making sure everything was as historically accurate as I could make it. Reading through the novel during edits and catching minor mistakes raised my blood pressure a time or two! In the end, I came to terms with the fact that the novel is fiction, and is also imperfect. Ultimately, I wanted to pay tribute to this incredible couple, and the sacrifices they made during a deeply tumultuous time in world history.

What is next? A novel based on Sophie Scholl and the White Rose resistance group, set to release from Kregel Publications in 2020. Researching Bonhoeffer led me to Sophie, and I’m beyond excited for readers to discover the story of this amazing young woman in a new way.

About the Story:

Renowned German pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer is famous for his resistance to the Nazi regime and for his allegiance to God over government. But what few realize is that the last years of his life also held a love story that rivals any romance novel.

Maria von Wedemeyer knows the realities of war. Her beloved father and brother have both been killed on the battlefield. The last thing this spirited young woman needs is to fall for a man under constant surveillance by the Gestapo. How can she give another piece of her heart to a man so likely to share the same final fate? Yet when Dietrich Bonhoeffer, an old family friend, comes to comfort the von Wedemeyers after their losses, she discovers that love isn’t always logical.

Dietrich himself has determined to keep his distance from romantic attachments. There is too much work to be done for God, and his involvement in the conspiracy is far too important. But when he encounters a woman whose intelligence and conviction match his own, he’s unprepared for how easy it is to give away his heart.

With their deep love comes risk–and neither Dietrich nor Maria is prepared for just how great that risk soon becomes.

Based on detailed historical research, this true love story is at once beautiful and heartrending. My Dearest Dietrich sheds new light on a world-famous theologian . . . and the woman who changed his life.

Connect with Amanda through her website, Facebook, and Twitter.

Interview + Giveaway: Cathy Gohlke

When you walk into a bookstore, you make a beeline for what section?

Historical fiction first—anything between the Victorian age and WWII, but especially WWII.  I love stories of courage, family life and faith set against the backdrop of war.  My next stop is the history section and I’m oh-so-tempted by mysteries.

Favorite place to write:

I love writing in my comfy chair by a window.

Go-to writing snack or drink:

I love coffee in the early morning, English Breakfast or Lady Grey Tea in the mid-afternoon, and caffeine-free tea or water at night.  If you offered me a cookie or biscotti alongside I’d not turn it down.

What does your writing nook look like?

These days I write wherever I can find time or space.  Sometimes that’s in my well-worn comfy chair by the window while grandchildren dance and play around me.  Sometimes it’s the most remote corner of a local coffee shop where I can tune out everything except the voices of my characters, or a chair in the middle of the public library.  Rare but wonderful writing days I take up residence on my brother’s back porch in North Carolina.

Something you must do or have to write:

Pray.  Before my fingers hit the keyboard I pray that the Lord will empty me of self and fill me with His Spirit, giving me whatever He wants me to bring through the characters to the story that day—whatever will give Him the most glory and draw readers closer to His heart.

Favorite (doesn’t that word just make you cringe?) writer resource:

The Hero’s Two Journeys, by Michael Hague

What book is currently on your nightstand?

My Southern Journey—True Stories from the Heart of the South, by Rick Bragg

Hard copy, e-reader, audio book:

I prefer a hard copy.  Because I spend so much time on the computer I enjoy a printed page when reading for pleasure or for research, when possible.  Because I live with a large family, including precious, boisterous grandchildren, it’s hard to hear or keep my train of thought when playing an audio book.

What was the inspiration behind The Medallion?

The Medallion was inspired by two true stories—the first was the WWII account of Itzhak Dugin and his Jewish family, persecuted in Lithuania.  Their heart-wrenching story made world news when the tunnel from which Itzhak escaped the Nazis was discovered using modern technology.

The second was the story of Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker within Żegota (an underground Polish Council to Aid Jews), who developed a network to rescue children.  Despite terrible risks, they smuggled 2500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto and certain death at the hands of the Nazis, then hid them in Polish homes, convents, churches and hospitals until the end of the war.  Approximately 2,000 of those children were found after the war. Theories abound regarding the whereabouts of those missing.  I couldn’t help but wonder, and imagine:  What became of those 400 to 500 missing children?  What became of one? 

Favorite part of writing The Medallion:

I love the characters.  They came alive for me in this book.  I came to know them well and care deeply for them.  Each one went through such hard things with great courage.  Of course they’re not perfect—like all of us they are flawed but grow through their unique journeys.

Hardest part of writing The Medallion:

Research for The Medallion was heartbreaking.  Learning of all that the Jewish and Polish people suffered during occupation by the Germans and later by the Russians was very difficult.  There were times I didn’t want to continue reading or listening to testimonies or watching film footage, let alone visit concentration camps.  Those camps today are sterile museums and simply cannot convey what life was like in them during WWII.  It is mind boggling the atrocities man perpetrated on mankind while claiming to be a “superior race.  But it was a story that needed to be told—so that it will never happen again and so we know that men, women and children lived with faith, courage and fortitude through impossible times and circumstances—and by God’s grace, so can we if or when we are called to do so.

What is next?

I’m working on a book set in the foothills of the North Carolina mountains, land of my birth and maternal grandparents, leading up to America’s entrance into WWII.  It deals with issues imperative in their day, but that could be pulled from today’s headlines.  I love the unique and endearing, enduring characters that make up the town in this story and look forward to introducing them to readers in 2020.

About the Story:

For fans of bestselling World War II fiction like Sarah’s Key and The Nightingale comes an illuminating tale of courage, sacrifice, and survival, about two couples whose lives are ravaged by Hitler’s mad war yet eventually redeemed through the fate of one little girl.

Seemingly overnight, the German blitzkrieg of Warsaw in 1939 turns its streets to a war zone and shatters the life of each citizen—Polish, Jewish, and otherwise. Sophie Kumiega, a British bride working in the city’s library, awaits news of her husband Janek, recently deployed with the Polish Air Force. Though Sophie is determined that she and the baby in her womb will stay safe, the days ahead will draw her into the plight of those around her, compelling her to help, whatever the danger.

Rosa and Itzhak Dunovich never imagined they would welcome their longed-for first child in the Jewish ghetto, or that they would let anything tear their family apart. But as daily atrocities intensify, Rosa soon faces a terrifying reality: to save their daughter’s life, she must send her into hiding. Her only hope of finding her after the war—if any of them survive—is a medallion she cuts in half and places around her neck.

Inspired by true events of Poland’s darkest days and brightest heroes, The Medallion paints a stunning portrait of war and its aftermath, daring us to believe that when all seems lost, God can make a way forward.

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