Wednesday, May 28, 2014

When you least expect it...

So this writer/blogger/traveler has something to declare … I got engaged just over a month ago. 

A beyond hectic work schedule, being in charge of a huge fundraiser event for the American Cancer Society, plus meeting and being courted by the man I'm going to marry has kept me utterly swamped and this is why I've been on blogging hiatus and I'm so sorry. And now I'm deep in wedding planning... I hope I can be a regular blogger once again soon! 

If you follow me on Facebook, I’ve sure you’ve already seen the plethora of pictures capturing the moment and the happiness it has brought along with it. If not, then here’s my time to tell about it all.
The wonderful man I call my fiancé is named Steven. He is from New Orleans and currently teaches high school social studies at his alma mater. I’ve known Steven’s family for several years and his Mom is the one who actually introduced us two years ago. But it wasn’t quite time for us yet.
The happy couple right after the proposal
However, he finished his history degree, spent five months in Wales as a missionary and then ended up moving back to our parish (Side note: In Louisiana, we have parishes and not counties). When he moved here, I already knew we had a lot in common and I was excited to have a possible new friend who loves to travel and who more importantly loves Jesus. So I asked if he’d like to get some coffee sometime because I’d like to hear about his time in Wales and his travels, etc. 
He didn’t hesitate to agree to the idea and we met at our local coffee shop (where we now actually work part-time) the very next day. That was back in December 2013 and after our four-hour conversation we’ve been inseparable ever since. 
To think it all began with coffee - which I’ve never really drank much of until I started spending time with an avid coffee drinker (AKA the fiancé). 
Seriously though, our story actually began long before Steven and I were even born, before our parents or grandparents were born. It began when God created man, man fell by way of sin against God and began to inhabit the Earth. God knew who we would be and the path to when Steven and I would meet. I thought I’d be single forever and I was content with that if it was God’s plan.
None of this is a surprise to Him – though it has certainly been one to Steven and me. We were so not expecting this. Yes, we’ve prayed and thought of each other for years and our parents and other loved ones have prayed for our future spouses. But it’s just quite overwhelming to believe that we are finally together.
It is overwhelming in the most incredible way. We are overwhelmed by the Lord and His goodness in giving us blessings we can never earn or deserve. We will never deserve each other and the beautiful adventure He has created of our lives and our future. We give Him all the glory for everything we are and will be. 
It has been just five months since we met for that coffee I mentioned. Five months and so much has happened. I’ve found my best friend, my soul mate, the man God has prepared for me and I’ve never been more sure of anything (except in my salvation of course).
It has been such a long, winding journey to right now – for both of us. There have been many ups and downs and moments of joy and sorrow, of regret and forgiveness to lead us to that day we had coffee in December.
True love's kiss :)
We have made mistakes. We have asked God for forgiveness and we have been taught so many things by His merciful hand. We have had many unforgettable times to serve Him and others around the world. We have tried to take our lives into our own hands because we thought we knew best and we fell. God picked us back up after we reached the point of shame and humility before a loving and just God who has never given up on us.
In the way of relationships, we tried to control and manipulate situations to fit what we wanted and not how God was leading. We’ve fought for and justified our actions until all we could see were lies we had fed ourselves and let Satan fuel – all while God called out to us, to remind us who we belonged to … Him. 
For when we both accepted His call to salvation at age nine, our lives were no longer our own but were surrendered to our King. And He has steadily called us and drawn us to see the sin in our lives that holds us bound by our own selfishness and pride. We are already free from spiritual bondage but we tend to live like we are still bound and God has to get our attention and claim His rightful place in our lives once more. But all is revealed and we emerge broken and repentant yet joyful and thankful for unfailing mercy and grace from our Savior. 
2013 was a year of huge growth for both of us. God was speaking to our hearts in different ways – yet also in the same in regard to romantic relationships. We reached a place of true contentment in Him alone and not seeking it in others. We allowed God to fill the void we had tried to fill with dating and other pursuits and it was incredible! 
That’s when Steven went to Wales for five months and I continued in my daily life here. God’s plan was always in action though, but it took our surrender and repentance and release to allow us to follow it – which led to Facebook actually.
"Yes!" She said 'yes!'
I had added Steven on Facebook last year after his Mom told me he was going to Wales and I definitely wanted to see a glimpse of his travels there. I commented on some of his Scotland pictures and we struck up a brief but witty conversation, which led to having coffee. And I started praying that day that the Lord would not let me make more out of the situation than there was – just two people meeting for coffee. No pressure, no expectations … that was the plan. Only friends.
So I thought everything was squared away, but then Steven arrived looking quite handsome in a dark wool overcoat with a beanie, dark rimmed glasses and a close trimmed beard. I had to bestill my heart for a minute and remind myself not to get carried away and be interested in him other than a friend.
He ordered his coffee as I buzzed around the coffee shop and regained my composure. I was dressed in my usual plaid shirt with a red beret and a low side ponytail – nothing special, just casual me. (Steven would later go on to tell me he thought I was the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen.) Needless to say, it was difficult for both of us to focus at first in our conversation since our nerves were getting the better of us – though we didn’t show it. 
I plopped down at our table and started asking questions as I do. I asked about Wales and how his teaching job had come about and all. I was quite pleased that he was not hesitant to talk about it all and then plenty of other things from church to travel to music, etc. We talked for over four hours straight and right through dinner!
He seemed so composed and comfortable that it seemed he was enjoying himself. But I was more interested to know if he was as interested in me as I was with him. I couldn’t help it! It only took about 15 minutes for me to want him to ask me out! But he was so relaxed (I thought …) that I was sure he must have not felt the connection I did, the same kind of connection I’d been praying against before our meeting.
It was after 9 p.m. and coffee shop was closed when we walked out to our vehicles, but I didn’t want the night to end. He just stood by his car all casual-like and said he enjoyed the conversation and we’d have to do it again sometime. I was like “Man … he’s not interested.” Unbeknownst to me though, a totally different story was unfolding.
So that brings us to Saturday, April 19 and the ring, of course. The week or so before Steven had asked me if I’d like to go with him to the zoo. I agreed, so that was the plan – that I knew of at least. I could tell something was up though because he wasn’t acting quite as talkative and relaxed as usual. I have to admit that I had an inkling that he would probably propose that day. I mean … I know him well and I have a reporter’s intuition – what can I say!
Reading the letter during the proposal
Anyway, Steven and I did go to the zoo and walked around to see the animals and enjoy the beautiful warm spring day. Next, he took me to some shops downtown to walk around some more. I was good and confused through with what we were doing and if he really was going to propose. But then we went to the river boardwalk to go for yet another walk. We obviously did a lot of walking that day but this walk was the right one – all the way down to the last bench on the other end, the place we had our first kiss.
He slowed down at that exact spot and we leaned against the walkway railing to look out over the shimmering sun-kissed river. He told me he had something to give to me and he handed me a letter. I read it aloud and it is by far the sweetest thing ever written to me. In it, he wrote about our talks of adventures, how much he loved me, thanks God for me and how since we met he’d been on the best adventure of his life. My hands shook a bit as I read and tears welled up in my eyes.
After I finished, he said that even though an adventure ends another one begins and if I was ready for it he had a question to ask me. That’s when my breath caught in my throat as he sank to one knee, pulled out a little box with a gorgeous diamond ring tucked inside and asked me to marry him. I did not hesitate for a second and barely let him slip the ring on my finger before I hugged and kissed him. And that’s when he pointed toward the parking lot at his good friend behind a giant telephoto lens snapping pictures of us. [Check out his other awesome work at www.honest-photography.com]
The Moment
It was truly the perfect proposal for me – a secret photographer, heartfelt handwritten letter, sentimental place and the man I loved nervous and excited to ask me to be his wife. I couldn’t have asked for a better moment and I’ll cherish it forever.
I thank God for the blessing of bringing Steven and I together and for loving us enough to bless us with an upcoming marriage as an example of his love for his bride (the church/believers). I don’t know how to properly express how important and worthwhile that waiting on and following God’s plan is. It’s the best thing I have done and ever will do in my life. 
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own understanding; think about Him in all your ways and He will guide you on the right paths.” - Proverbs 3:5-6
“For we know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” – Romans 8:28
The handwritten proposal letter and gorgeous ring!
And I’d like to encourage everyone – no matter where you are in your life – don’t give in to your own ways, plans and schemes. Turn to the Lord and let His joy and peace fill your life and guide your steps and you’ll find yourself on the most unforgettable journey you could ever imagine. 
It really is true that God is the best author. He crafts only the best characters and storylines. And as I reminder of this truth, I am sitting in front of my computer right now trying to focus on writing while the gorgeous ring on my left ring finger sparkles and distracts me. 

What has been the latest exciting turn in your life's story? What is your proposal story? I'd love to hear from you. Have a great day!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Hi everyone!!!

I hope you are all doing very well! I'd like to apologize for being MIA for the past several weeks. It's just been a crazy fall. I am so excited about being off a few days from work this week and spending time with family and friends.

While on break, I'm going to be plotting a revamp of my blog, so I can better serve this community of readers, travelers, and writers! I hope to have it all up and going by the first of the year.
Now for a mini-travel story!

I was just reflecting this week on how two years ago on Thanksgiving I was visiting some friends in Germany. It was quite a memorable holiday! 

There were dozens of German, Canadian and American young adults crammed in a small apartment to share a Thanksgiving dinner and later watch American football. There was more than one language spoken in the room and several cultures represented, which was a bit like a modern-day first Thanksgiving meal. It was so special! And a time I'll never forget.
Thanksgiving Day in a tiny apartment in Germany!
I hope you all have a great week spending time with loved ones and thanking God for all He has provided. It is truly a time of thanksgiving.

I'd like to wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving!! And I hope you have a great week!


God Bless and Happy Travels,

Morgan

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Penner's Spotlight - Monica Bruenjes - Japan

Pens on a World Map

Penner’s Spotlight


Penner: Monica Bruenjes of Wisconsin
Location: Japan


Taking One Step in Faith

Having stepped out in faith a few times in my life, I’ve recently been marveling at all the blessings I’ve received from one particular choice I made many years ago- a choice to study abroad in Japan. At the time I had no idea the impact that one decision would make, I suppose that’s why it’s called “stepping out in faith.”


Osaka City- May, 2011: Visiting my former boss at the school where I taught English.  Of the people standing, I’m 4th from the right behind my former boss.
I was always a shy girl, but my father gave me a love for travel so it was with both anxiety and excitement that I went to Japan in 2006 to study abroad for a year. While there, I worked part time teaching English for a lady who owns a private school. 


Ishinomaki City- May, 2011: Getting ready to serve food to survivors.  I’m the tall blonde one!  Cathy is in front of me.  Being her first trip to Japan, going for disaster relief was a big step!
Since then Japan has held a special place in my heart so news of the 2011 tsunami hit me hard. When I heard at church that our denomination was calling for disaster relief volunteers, I knew I should go.


Ishinomaki City- May, 2011: Helping clean up debris in what I’m sure, was once a lovely front yard.  I’m in the yellow.
Another lady from our church came with me and before our missions work, we were invited to stay with my former boss. From her home in Osaka we traveled to Tokyo, then north to the hardest hit areas, staying at facilities run by Samaritan’s Purse.    


Minamisanriku City- June, 2011: This city was completely washed out by the tsunami.  This picture was taken miles inland.  You can see debris and even a boat were deposited in the middle of a residential area.
We did physical clean-up work, distributed food, and met with survivors.  It was a touching experience listening to their stories.  I’m still in contact with many I met there, and it’s a joy to continue seeing photos of the neighborhood we worked in being revived.

Several survivors I met while there have since become Christians and God is continuing to reveal Himself to the Japanese people.
My relationship with my former boss also continues. This summer she came to visit, bringing another teacher I know and four students along. Their visit was such a blessing that it caused my current reflection. 


Augusta, Wisconsin- August, 2013:  We took our Japanese guests all around town.  This was taken at our city hall.  I’m in the back wearing the green hat!
I would have missed out on so much had I never gone to Japan in the first place. The friends I’ve met would be missing out too.  To this day, God continues to work through that simple choice to go. One small step of faith, that’s all it takes.

Have you been to Japan or another location in Asia? Have you done disaster relief work before? Please join the conversation below.

Monica Bruenjes

Monica Bruenjes currently works as a freelance artist living in the backwoods of Wisconsin. She has always loved reading, which led to the birth of her blog, Novel Characters, and offered a way to merge her love of books with another of her passions: drawing.

For her fiction book reviews, she includes sketches of her favorite book scenes with each post. She also loves to travel and enjoyed living in Japan for a year as an exchange student. For more information about Monica, her blog and art, visit her at www.ncharacters.blogspot.com , website (www.artistmonica.com) or on Facebook or Twitter.
 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Blessings, Magazines and South Africa? Interview with Author Paula Mowery



Addy Townsend hadn’t strolled with Conrad or had a vision in five years. Now Conrad has returned to challenge her to be a blessing to those around her. The Holy Spirit begins to nudge her into service in new ways and she follows.
But when she is blindsided with personal problems, can Addy learn to be a willing vessel even in times of struggle and suffering?

"We all wonder why bad things happen to good people. Can God use even the worst events in our lives to help us feed the world around us? Be the Blessing skillfully provides both food for thought and food for discussion."
 Lisa Wingate, national best-selling author of The Sea Glass Sisters and The Prayer Box

Paula Mowery is a pastor’s wife and former homeschool mom. She has always been an avid reader of Christian fiction. She began writing in the area of nonfiction creating three Bible studies which were self-published. However, she crafted fiction stories which she shared with friends and family. 
When one of her readers encouraged her to pursue publication, she joined American Christian Fiction Writers, learning more about the world of fiction. Her debut work of fiction is a novella published by Harbourlight, a division of Pelican Book Group – THE BLESSING SEER. She is also an acquiring editor for Prism Book Group.
Learn more about Paula at her blog – www.paulamowery.blogspot.com
Read more of her writing in her monthly columns on www.christianonlinemagazine.com.
Ten Questions for Paula Mowery
What should readers know about your latest release? Does it differ from your past books, offer a new perspective on a familiar topic, or shed light on a unique situation?
My latest release is a book called Be The Blessing. That is the very topic that is covered in this Christian women’s fiction. A pastor’s wife named Addy struggles to be a blessing to others around her when she is experiencing suffering herself. Christians must understand that no matter what circumstances we are going through, God will use us to touch another for Him. Sometimes, our suffering is the platform used to give us an open door.
What was the main inspiration for the new book? Had the idea been on your mind for a while or just popped into it one day?
My first book, The Blessing Seer, came out in July of 2012. After its release, my editor asked if there would be a sequel to the story. I hadn’t thought about it, but her question prompted me to mull over the possibility. It didn’t take long for God to inspire the premise for Be The Blessing.
Why do you feel compelled to write—in your genre or at all?
A couple of years ago I realized I had over fifteen manuscripts in a file under my desk. As my daughter would work on her homeschool assignments, I would write. After sharing a story with a friend, she encouraged me to pursue publication. I felt this to be a lofty goal that I could never succeed in doing. But, God continued to give me stories.
One day I decided to pray and lay out a fleece. I asked God to give me a sign as to whether I should pursue publication, making my writing a ministry. The next morning I received an email from a national magazine accepting my article. This was my yes. Not long after that, my first manuscript was accepted. To me, my writing is a ministry to readers who might be in need of just that particular encouragement.
How has travel been involved in your writing and/or research? What’s been your most memorable research experience?
Be The Blessing didn’t involve going very far since it is set in my town.
My soon to be released story, Forgiven, involved some research that was quite memorable. This story is included in an anthology called Brave New Century with three other stories. The premise of the book is that each story is a romance set in a city in 1900.
For my story I traveled an hour away to Knoxville, Tennessee, to a special museum/library in downtown. I was able to look up actual streets and building names and addresses to include in my story. It was fascinating to look up all of the information and use actual stores and boarding houses.
Who has inspired you the most on your writing journey—a loved one, fellow author, favorite teacher?
It is very difficult to pinpoint just one person who has inspired me in this writing journey. I have always been an avid reader of Christian fiction, so there are many authors who have been inspirational. My mother certainly encouraged me early on by bringing home Christian books for me to read as well as journals for me to write in. 
What surprised you the most about the writer’s journey—publication, representation, platform building, the writing itself?
What has surprised me most is everything that goes into having a book published. First, a writer must find the right publisher at the right time. If that aligns and a contracted is offered, then the editing begins. 
After that, an author must work on promoting her work. Amid promoting the book, the writer must continue to write and hone her skills. There’s so much more than just writing a book.
If you could rewind time to when you began your pursuit of publication, what would you tell yourself?
I should hope I would tell myself to keep the main thing, meaning keep God central. I promised Him that it would be enough if a book was only meant to touch one person for Christ, because one is enough.
Now to have some fun with travel…
What’s your favorite place you have visited?
One of my favorite places I have visited has been Knysna, South Africa. I went with a mission team to conduct a vacation Bible school for missionary kids while their parents had a conference. This place was a resort-type on the Indian Ocean. We stayed in fancy huts.
We ate in the dining room of the resort. We were there during their winter time. One day it flurried snow and the next it warmed enough for us to get into the Indian Ocean. The staff was so accommodating. We were there for July 4th, and the resort staff actually displayed a huge American flag, lit sparklers, and made us a South African style BBQ.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Or would you return to somewhere you’ve already been?
I have always wanted to return to South Africa, but I would like to also go to Australia and Alaska.
And now a fun tidbit—if there was one special travel destination just for writers and you were the founder of it, what would the name be and would it be?
I believe I would call it Writers Refreshed. I would have to have it in my beloved Smoky Mountains in Tennessee. There would be cabins for each writer with a screened-in porch that viewed the mountains. I would limit the retreat to ten writers only, keeping the hustle bustle to a minimum. We would have times to meet as a group and decide what we could do to help or encourage one another.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

White Dove, Suspense and a typewriter? Interview with Author Diane Dean White


On a Summer Night

A nightmare witnessed between two young women, and one couldn't forget or forgive.
Kate had never told her husband about the experience that changed their lives forever in southern Florida. Maybe it was time to tell him her story.

On a Summer Night is a story of suspense and romance. For more information about the book, click here or here.



Diane is the author of Beach Walks and Carolina in the Morning. A former newspaper reporter, and weekly magazine columnist whose stories have appeared in a number of books, magazines and other publications and anthologies.

She is a member of ACFW, and resides in Florida with her husband of forty years where she's working on her next book. You can read more of Diane's writing on her website,
www.DianeDeanWhite.com. You can also connect with Diane on her blog here or Facebook here. 

Ten Questions for Diane Dean White

What should readers know about your latest release? Does it differ from your past books, offer a new perspective on a familiar topic, or shed light on a unique situation?

Hello, Morgan. I appreciate you taking the time to share my book with your readers. I love your map and travel interviews…so happy to be here, too.

Since this is my first book in ten years, I hope there’s a big difference in my writing! I’d been a columnist for the previous four years for a weekly magazine, and decided in 2010 to do another book. I loved getting back into writing without a structured word count, as many short-stories I’ve had published often require.

What was the main inspiration for the new book? Had the idea been on your mind for a while or just popped into it one day?

I’m from Michigan originally, and attended Florida College in the late 60’s. I recall some things from that period, not all good. I spun my own fiction along with that, and of course research is a big part of writing, which I enjoy. Once I started with an idea it bloomed from there.

Why do you feel compelled to write—in your genre or at all?

It’s one of the genres I enjoy most….so I wanted to focus in that area. I’ve always written. I started in 6th grade with an old Royal typewriter. My first book was during a summer vacation with my grandparents in a small town in the thumb of Michigan. I was in eighth grade. I doubt anyone but my girl friend who was a good artist and made lovely sketches for each chapter, and my grandmother, read the story. J I’ve often thought writing was the best way to release my thoughts and it still is. I felt as if I’d burst if I couldn’t write a story or a poem and get my inner feelings out.

How has travel been involved in your writing and/or research? What’s been your most memorable research experience?

My travels are through our two of our three grown children who are overseas. I have a back injury and unable to do very much because sitting long is a big problem. Our son Brian, and wife are on the mission field in Sochi, Russia and I’ve shared their outreach with you before.

Our daughter’s hubby and our three grand gals and she are in Shanghai, China. They’ve gone to Bali, DaNang, and last year at Christmas they cruised on the Mediterranean. They saw Vatican City, Valetta on the beautiful Island of Malta, and onto Florence and Naples, Italy and Sicily. And finally the Island of Majorca. The photos from each place were beautiful, and I loved watching our youngest grand pushing the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Who has inspired you the most on your writing journey—a loved one, fellow author, favorite teacher?

My grandmother spent over thirty-years researching her family history, pre-revolutionary war period to date. As a young teenager I traveled to graveyards, county courthouses and homes of loved ones with her in Michigan and Canada to get pertinent information. She sent out letters; worked tirelessly, and at age 81 she published her book and gave copies to many family members. It’s also online and in the Lansing State Library.

I think her encouragement, because she read all my stories, subscribed to the newspaper in Georgia when I was a reporter, and kept a scrapbook of all my life events, was a big part of knowing I could do something I loved and enjoyed. I’ve also researched my own father’s family….and it was over a twenty-five year span.

Kids tune out so much when around older people who they should listen, and ask questions about their past. They are their history. The ancestral history websites are often good, but only as informative as the person who actually did that research. I don’t depend on them…I do my own.

What surprised you the most about the writer’s journey—publication, representation, platform building, the writing itself?

I knew what was involved because I’d self published two books in the early 2000’s, but I’ve been amazed at the new methods of social media since that time. I don’t tweet and I’m not into a lot of the new technology with iPods, etc.

With three grand-gals, and seeing all the information on the ACFW loop, I’m well aware of it. I enjoy Facebook and emailing, and I have a ministry which was started in 1999, Seeds of Encouragement. I try to reach out to others, sometimes via email, and often by snail mail, with a card and maybe a small lavender sachet or a phone call. Old habits are hard to change. J

If you could rewind time to when you began your pursuit of publication, what would you tell yourself?

To get an agent!

Now to have some fun with travel…

What’s your favorite place you have visited?

I’d have to say in the USA, it was when our three children were younger and we went to several cities and historical landmarks in PA. We stayed at a B&B on a tobacco plantation and visited Hershey town, and Lancaster.

We saw all the great sites in Philly; ate at Philadelphia's oldest sea food restaurant, Bookbinders, situated on the site of William Penn's home, and then onto Valley Forge and Gettysburg. The kids still talk about it, although they’ve traveled around the globe, it remains a special memory.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Or would you return to somewhere you’ve already been?

We celebrated my parent’s 50th wedding anniversary with my brother and his wife in Maui. I enjoyed Hawaii; it was nice, but also much commercialized. Since we only stayed in Honolulu and then Maui, I’d go to some of the other Islands, each is so different.

And now a fun tidbit—if there was one special travel destination just for writers and you were the founder of it, what would the name be and would it be located?

Aw, in a perfect world it would most definitely include a beach. We live in Florida and have a nice view of the Gulf from our fifth floor. I’ve seen our daughter’s photos of Bali and our son’s sailing cruise along the Croatian coast, and I think we could have a wonderful time enjoying the beach and a good spot with AC to write from.

I’d say from photos of our daughter’s trip to Boracay, an island in the Philippines, we’d enjoy that and the white sand immensely. I’d have to call it the name of my first series “The ‘White Dove’ Writers.”

Thank you. I hope you had as much fun answering these questions as I had writing them! J

It’s always fun to be with you, Morgan. I love your free spirit to be adventurous in your travels. I think you’ve got a good outreach and fun website to share.

Thanks so much, Diane!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ideaphoria and a Fiat? Interview with Author Cheryl Cowell


Lisa Richards is caught in an abusive relationship and devises a clandestine plan to build her dream and escape. In league with the secretive Montebelli Corporation, she grasps her one chance to gain financial freedom and fulfill her dream to bring new life to the town her ancestors helped settle in the Pacific Northwest.
 
As a stranger to town, Steven Taylor distrusts Lisa's surreptitious behavior and sets out to expose her. Instead, he discovers the truth and becomes one of her few allies.
With attacks coming from many directions, they set out on a gripping course, working against time and the traps set in motion to break her.

Imminent threats, at work to crush her efforts, thrust her to the edge of destruction.
 

Passionately interested in all things creative—writing, gardening, art, friendships—I thrive in the inspiring countryside surrounding Ashland, Oregon.

Under the theme, Stunning Suspense, I enjoy crafting stories set in stunning locations and filled with heart-stunning suspense, mystery, and romance. In my stories, ordinary people, stretched beyond their limits, find supernatural help when plunged into insurmountable circumstances.
 
For more information about Cowell and her novels, visit her website at http://www.cherylcolwell.com/.

View her book trailer for "The Secret of the Montebellis" here.
 
Ten Questions for Cheryl Cowell
 
What should readers know about your latest release? Does it differ from your past books, offer a new perspective on a familiar topic, or shed light on a unique situation?
 
People say your first novel is a reflection of your life. Though I see evidence of that, my first 117,000-word draft was much too tame, so I had to spice it up. I had fun stretching the characters to their most devious sides, thus adding significantly more drama than my real life.
 
The town in the novel is set in the area where I live. Ashland and Talent are where my ancestors actually grew up. When I moved to Southern Oregon in 1980, I had no idea of this, so I loved adding that piece to the setting.
 
What was the main inspiration for the new book? Had the idea been on your mind for a while or just popped into it one day?
 
I’d never thought of writing, but while at a restaurant in Mt. Shasta, California, where my husband was on a bike ride, a seed took place for a story. Since I also enjoyed biking, I felt it added another dimension to the story.
 
In addition, the town of Talent was undergoing plans for a major transformation. I didn’t have the cash to participate, but thought it would be fun to build it into the story where all my investments would succeed!
 
Why do you feel compelled to write—in your genre or at all?
 
We can be born with about 18 major aptitudes. One of them is “high ideaphoria,” which is a constant flow of ideas. Up until I began to write, those ideas were taking shape in new gardens, new hobbies, in more ways than I had time to care for. However, with writing, I get to use this gift to create all the arbors and villas my heart could ever desire! My husband is SO happy!
 
That was the beginning. I never imagined God had this plan for me all along. He turned a fun hobby into an activity for His use—and transformed me at the same time.
 
Like my character, Lisa, I hid a lot of myself, becoming who I thought I was supposed to be. As I began to expose her secrets, it shed light on my own. Not only did this process develop courage, I saw that I was hiding for no reason. I’ve become much more authentic and integrated, not the chameleon I once was.
 
How has travel been involved in your writing and/or research? What’s been your most memorable research experience?
 
My husband and I flew to Tuscany for our 25th anniversary. He was part of a bicycle tour and I rented a Fiat to drive to each new location. It stretched me to overcome my worst fears: being left (while others go on together); getting lost (which I did every day, but came out of it alive anyway), ordering food in a foreign country, in a language I don’t speak, and eating by myself (and not feeling self-conscious), you get the idea.
 
Cheryl with the Fiat in Italy
Not only did God never leave me, I had a GRAND time. I’d go by myself again in a heartbeat. I am using the details in the photos and information I discovered in my next novel.
 
Who has inspired you the most on your writing journey—a loved one, fellow author, favorite teacher?
My daughter, Brittany, was the first one in the family to express an interest in writing. When I started attending writing conferences, she came with me and we learned and shared together. She is very talented, reads a lot, and has a great eye for improving my stories. My husband enjoys letting me read aloud and does a great job encouraging me.
 
What surprised you the most about the writer’s journey—publication, representation, platform building, the writing itself?
That I enjoy every part of the process: learning how to write, rewriting, editing, the solitude, the conferences and meeting other authors, and the enthusiasm in my readers.
 
If you could rewind time to when you began your pursuit of publication, what would you tell yourself?
I think it happened perfectly. Nothing tells you your work is NOT ready faster than an agent or publisher smiling their encouragement and suggesting you take more writing classes. It pushed me onward and upward until I knew where the bar was. Experience and feedback are the best teachers.
 
Now to have some fun with travel…
 
What’s your favorite place you have visited?
Radda, Italy. After traveling by myself for two weeks, I was finally in the groove. I entered the Chianti region of rolling vineyards and thought I’d found paradise. Radda sits on top of a knoll and offered exquisite views over a short rock wall from a shaded bench. With huge trees, well-kept old buildings, a central park, and not being as much a tourist town as some of the others I visited, it is my perfect Tuscany place.
Radda, Italy
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Or would you return to somewhere you’ve already been?
There is only one thing on my bucket list at this time: to spend a year in Italy, learn the language and study archeology. My next novel should be finished before Christmas and is based on an amazing discovery I made in Tuscany. I hope you’ll invite me back to talk about it. At this time, I’ll just say the history there is an author’s dream!

And now a fun tidbit—if there was one special travel destination just for writers and you were the founder of it, what would the name be and would it be located?
Writers need solitude, but limit their creativity in a vacuum. If I had the resources, I think I’d invite them to my property outside of Ashland, Oregon, where I’d build individual cabins with comfortable writing desks. We could choose places under the willows and arbors to write, but have lunches and dinners together to discuss our projects and new ideas. I love hanging out with other writers and the enthusiasm it generates.
 
Thanks so much. I hope you had as much fun answering these questions as I had writing them! J
 
Great questions and they brought up things I hadn’t before articulated. Thank you.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Dani Pettrey GIVEAWAY Winner!!!


CONGRATULATIONS to Debbie!!!
She’s won a copy of Dani Pettrey’s amazing suspense novel,
SHATTERED!!!

Thanks to everyone who entered the giveaway!!!
Have a great weekend!!

If you missed out on Dani's great interview, check it out here

For more info about Shattered and Dani’s other novels, visit www.danipettrey.com.



Piper McKenna couldn't be more thrilled that her prodigal brother, Reef, has returned to Yancey, Alaska, after five years. But her happiness is short-lived when Reef appears at her house covered in blood. A fellow snowboarder has been killed--but despite the evidence, Reef swears he's innocent. And Piper believes him.

Deputy Landon Grainger loves the McKennas like family, but he's also sworn to find the truth. Piper is frustrated with his need for facts over faith, but he knows those closest to you have the power to deceive you the most. With his sheriff pushing for a quick conviction, some unexpected leads complicate the investigation, and pursuing the truth may mean risking Landon's career.

With Piper waging her own search, the two head deep into Canada's rugged backcountry--and unexpected complications.

Not only does their long friendship seem to be turning into something more, but this dangerous case is becoming deadlier with each step.