Author Interview – Mary Connealy + Giveaway!

Author Interview Blog Title Image - Mary Connealy

I have been a Mary Connealy fan for years! Her books are full of love, humor, and action that keeps you turning the pages. I’m always grinning when I finish one of her books. Today I have the incredible honor of hosting Mary for an interview, but first, a little about her latest release, The Accidental Guardian.

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The Accidental Guardian

Title: The Accidental Guardian
Series: High Sierra Sweethearts, Book 1
Author: Mary Connealy
Publisher: Bethany House Publishers
Release Date: April 3, 2018
Genre: Historical Romance / Western
+To Read: Goodreads

She’s the Only Witness to a Wagon Train Attack. Keeping Her Safe, Though, Means His World Is about to be Turned Upside Down.

When Trace Riley finds the smoldering ruins of a small wagon train, he recognizes an attack by the same group who left him as sole survivor years ago. Living off the wilderness since then, he’s finally carved out a home and started a herd–while serving as a self-appointed guardian of the trail. He’d hoped the days of driving off dangerous men were over, but the latest attack shows otherwise.

Deborah Harkness saved her younger sister and two toddlers during the attack, and now finds herself at the mercy of her rescuer. Trace becomes an accidental guardian when he offers the only shelter for miles around and agrees to take them in until they can safely continue their journey. His simple bachelor existence never anticipated kids and women in the picture and their arrival is unsettling–yet enticing.

Trace and Deborah find themselves drawing ever closer as they work together to bring justice to the trail and help the group survive the winter–but every day closer to spring means a day closer to leaving the mountains forever.

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The next book in the series, THE RELUCTANT WARRIOR will be released later this year in October, 2018!

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A Little About Mary

MaryConnealy by Ginger Murray Photography

Mary Connealy writes “romantic comedies with cowboys” and is celebrated for her fun, zany, action-packed style. She has more than half a million books in print. She is the author of the popular series Wild at Heart, Kincaid Brides, Trouble in Texas, Lassoed in Texas, Sophie’s Daughters, and many other books. Mary lives on a ranch in eastern Nebraska with her very own romantic cowboy hero.

CONNECT WITH MARYwebsite,  facebook,  twitter,  instagram

You can also find Mary at these sites: Seekerville and Petticoats & Pistols

the-interview

Mary, I cannot tell you how excited I am to welcome you for this interview today on my blog. Thank you for taking the time to visit!

What is the most amount of time you’ve spent working on one book?

This is a hard one. I just can’t think of a book I’ve spent a truly extra long time on. I write a book in about 3 or 4 months, then some time polishing. Before I was published I’d go back over and over a book, to bring new ideas and newly learned skills to an older work, but no book that just dragged on my longer than 5 months total.

Thank you for sharing. It’s interesting to learn how differently each author works.

How many people read your work before it goes out to advanced readers? (i.e. critique partners or Beta Readers)

No one, and since you asked this question, now I’m wondering if that might be a mistake, huh? Hmmmm…nope, no one reads it before I send it into my publisher.

LOL Well, I don’t think we can call it a mistake considering how many people LOVE your books (myself included)!

What was the harshest criticism you’ve received and how did you deal with it?

You know I’ve gotten plenty of brutal one star reviews and by now I just don’t take them too seriously—although it is possible to learn from bad reviews if there are a lot that make the same comment. Probably the thing that bothered me the most was I entered Petticoat Ranch in the Golden Heart contest for RWA and they have a strange scoring system. One through ten. That’s it. No comments or pointers. And one judge gave it a one, the lowest score. ONE? Seriously? It’s THAT BAD??? C’mon. It seemed so harsh that I just didn’t take it seriously. Surely black ink on white paper oughta earn you a TWO??? I sold the book in pretty much the shape it was in about six months later. Of course, I am completely OVER IT!!!

Ha ha. Yes, you are clearly over it. 😉 I think I would have found the lack of reason for the low rating frustrating as well.

What is the best compliment you’ve received and how did it make you feel?

Wow, these are kinda hard questions!!! First compliment that pops into my head, My Cowboy, which is what I call my husband on Facebook, was reading and he looks up from his book and says…something like (I forget the details…) “They didn’t have towns in Wyoming back this far.” (Or something like that, he corrected some factual detail). I looked at him for a minute and said, “That’s not my book, you’re reading a Louis L’Amour book.” It was a great moment for him to be thinking me and Louis were the same!!!!

Sorry, not sorry. 🙂 Thanks for being a good sport. I love that your hubby knows his history, too.

If you could go back and re-make one decision in your writing career, what would it be?

First let me say, my writing career is a wonder to me. A WONDER!!!!!!!!! I can’t believe I ever got one book published and I’m over FIFTY. I might start earlier. I might be brave and go to conferences earlier. But I was writing before there were so many conferences….or at least before I knew about them. We didn’t have Google back then. I didn’t have the internet at home. I was raising four daughters and wasn’t free to travel around. So, it was HARD to find this stuff out. Still, I wish I’d’ve figured out a way to get published faster.

I can’t imagine how you did it all without the internet! 

If you weren’t writing this genre, which genre would you write?

I like reading thrillers, detective fiction. I also love Regency romance. I might try one of those.

Now I’m picturing a whole different version of Pride and Prejudice – something with spurs, cowboy hats, and maybe a Pinkerton detective thrown in somehow. 😀

What is your favorite piece of scripture?

The one that popped into my head is Psalm 27: 1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

That is a great verse.

Will you share with us one of your most romantic memories?

Yeesh. Well, hmmmm…I’ve been married for 42 years. Wow, that’s a huge number. And My Cowboy is a fine and decent man but romance…let me think on this one awhile. (insert here that music from final Jeopardy while I think) I do know that I was a stay at home for 27 years. I went to work teaching GED at that point and did it for 11 years and that money came right after I’d sold my first book. And once I got that job My Cowboy started cooking and cleaning. Before then our marriage had always had very traditional man/woman roles. He said if I was helping earn money, he should help around the house. Coming home after a long day of work, pulling into the garage and opening the card door to smell a meal cooking, wow, that’s about the most wonderful and romantic thing in the world.

As a woman married to a man who loves to cook, I know exactly what you mean. 

What do you look for in your fun-time reading?

I always say, if they are sassing each other and running for their lives while falling in love, then I’m happy. That’s what I read so that’s what I write.

Sounds good to me!

Which charity is closest to your heart?

I spend most of my charity dollars very close to home. I’m a little skeptical about how charities work and which ones you can trust. But I know if there’s a fundraiser for a neighbor or local person who’s been hurt or is sick, then my money is going to end up right where I sent it. So my own church, local fundraisers. I give to Wounded Warriors. I’ve got a niece and nephew in the Army so that’s close to my heart. And My Cowboy likes St. Jude’s Hospital so we send money to them.

Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Mary! It has been fun getting to know you and seeing your sense of humor shine through in your answers. 

TWEETABLE:

Find out how best-selling author Mary Conneally dealt with her harshest criticism and how many people read her manuscripts before they are sent to her publisher in this fun #AuthorInterview! (Click to Tweet!)

 


AccidentalGuardian BlogWelcome to the blog tour and giveaway for The Accidental Guardian by Mary Connealy, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!

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(1) Winner will win:

  • The Cimarron Legacy by Mary Connealy (all 3 print books)
  • The Accidental Guardian by Mary Connealy (print)

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To Enter, use the Rafflecopter giveaway below (or click on the Giveaway banner above). Be sure to stop at every post on the tour for additional entries!

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For the full tour schedule for more giveaway entries, head to JustRead’s Launch Page HERE (or click on the Tour Banner below).

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Author Interview – Davalynn Spencer

Author Interview Blog Title Image - Davalynn Spencer

Last year I discovered a new-to-me author whose book, An Improper Proposal, I truly enjoyed (and highly recommend). Today I’m excited to welcome Davalynn Spencer to my blog for a fun interview!

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Sweet Historical Western Romance

He doesn’t need her sass. She doesn’t need his approval. But they both need a second chance.

Abandoned by her faithless husband for the Dakota gold fields, rancher’s daughter Elizabeth Beaumont returns to her hometown determined to prove she’s not the impetuous girl she once was. Armed with a new skill and old determination, she’s intent on making it on her own. Discovering that the new sheriff lives downstairs in the same boarding house wouldn’t be nearly so frustrating if he’d stay out of her affairs, quit calling her Betsy, and stop making her wonder if she could love again.

Garrett Wilson exchanged his deputy’s badge for a drover’s bedroll after his first attempt at law enforcement cost an innocent bystander his life. Now Wilson’s back wearing a star in a Front Range cow town, hunting an arsonist and falling for a woman who wants to know the secret behind his deepest scar. He can run again from his painful past, or he can stay and fight for the town that needs him and the woman who’s worked under his skin and into his heart.

A Little About Davalynn

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Davalynn Spencer writes heart-tugging, Western romance set along the Front Range of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. She is the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters and a recipient of the Will Rogers Gold Medallion for Inspirational Western Fiction. A former journalist and crime-beat reporter, Davalynn lives in Colorado where she caters to Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. She loves hearing from readers. Connect with her via her website at http://www.davalynnspencer.com.

the-interview

Would you rather travel back in time to meet your ancestors or travel to the future to meet your descendants? 

Most definitely I would travel back in time. It’s a foundational thing. I’d want to see the stories I’ve heard from family members – my great-aunt hiding in a flour barrel from roaming Indians; my grandmother’s two friends who survived the Titanic as children; William F. Cody, to whom my mother insisted we were related. I fear that if I were to travel forward into the future, I might weep at the results of my own failures in the lives of my children.

Your great-aunt hid from Indians in a flour barrel? Now that sounds like a great story!

If you had to live somewhere else for one year, where would it be?

If I could choose where to live for a year, I would choose Scotland. It intrigues me, draws me, waves an arm at me to come over and walk in my ancestors’ footprints.

 

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Well, it certainly photographs well! Can I come, too?

If you could only recommend one book to a child (ages 3-17) which would it be?

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The Lion the Witch & the Wardrobe

Confession:  Although I saw the play as a child and I’ve seen the movie, I don’t recall actually read this book.

What’s the most romantic thing your husband has ever done for you?

One of my early contemporary romances (which will re-release late summer) was about a young woman who’d had her fill of electronic mail. What happened to letters? Hand-written letters, especially from someone dear. She receives such a note in the story (I won’t say more), and after my husband read the book, he wrote me a letter telling me what a good job I’d done on the story and how proud he was of me. (Tears here.) What was more romantic? The fact that he actually read my little romance book, or the fact that he acted on it, seeing me in the heroine?

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Awwww! You just melted my heart. What a great hubby!

Aside from good writing, what do you look for in the romances you read?

I look for the cost of love and the power of redemption. Are the hero and heroine willing to pay the cost (and it should cost)? And is their love redemptive, restorative?

Yes, there is always a cost in a great romance, isn’t there?

How did you meet your husband and when did you know he was the one?

I first met my husband at church when I ran into him with my guitar case as I rushed out the side door. Later, he showed up at youth group (I was a senior in high school, he was attending the local college) and I just happened to notice his 70% cocoa-dark-chocolate eyes. And his cowboy hat. And his hands that weren’t soft-looking, but capable and manly and potentially full of tenderness when it counted. No wonder I’m #lovingthecowboy in the stories I write.

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I love that you literally ran into him and that you noticed his hands. 

When does your next book release and what makes it special?

My newest historical release hit retailers on April 26, and I plan to re-release a contemporary romance in August. The recent release, An Unexpected Redemption, looks at forgiveness and the difficulty we sometimes face is offering it to ourselves.

I have been eagerly anticipating this one since I read (and loved) An Improper Proposal! Congratulations on its release!

Are you a plotter or a panster and what does your process say about you?

I am a total hybrid – a planster. Or plantser. Whatever. I pound out between 2,000 and 4,000 words, just to get my thoughts down, and then I start planning where things should go, what comes when, who does what. The layout is rough because I like to write as I watch the movie in my head. But I also need to know where I’m going if I want to get there.

I like that you described it as the movie in your head. Your process sounds very similar to mine. I tried doing more in-depth outlining in advance once and almost killed the story for myself. My characters need room to be themselves and surprise me.

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Do you have any deleted scenes from your novels hiding on your computer?

Oh yes, I have a deleted scene full of romantic tension that will definitely make Book 3 of my current Front Range Brides series. I’d planned it for Book 1, but had to cut it. It didn’t fit in Book 2 (the April 26 release), but I’m determined to use it in Book 3 (which I haven’t yet written!).

Well, now I can’t wait for Book 3! 🙂 

Which charity is closest to your heart?

I don’t know that I would characterize this outreach as a “charity,” but it is near to my heart and I gladly support it: Heroes and Horses. It’s a Montana-based nonprofit that helps combat veterans suffering from PTSD to reintegrate via one-on-one work with and care for a horse (at no cost to the veteran). You can read more about H&H here: https://www.heroesandhorses.org/the-details/

That sounds like a great program!

Thank you for taking this time to chat with me! I enjoyed getting to know the writer behind the words.

 

Let’s Chat!

Don’t you just love Davalynn’s story about the handwritten letter? Do you have a similar story? What’s the most romantic thing your spouse has done for you? Tell me about it in the comments!

TWEETABLE:

Which historical romance author literally ran into her husband the first time they met? #AuthorInterview (Click to Tweet)

This author’s great aunt hid from Indians in a flour barrel! #AuthorInterview (Click to Tweet)

Author Interview – Kara Swanson

Author Interview Blog Title Image - Kara Swanson

If you’ve been following my blog, you know I had the pleasure of meeting Kara Swanson at the first annual SoCal Christian Writers’ Conference in June of this year. I also recently shared the first line from Kara’s novella, The Girl Who Could See, (which kept me up FAR too late on the night I purchased it) and today I’m excited to welcome her to my blog for a fast and fun interview!

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The Girl Who Could See

All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—but, what if she is the only one who can truly see?

Fern Johnson is crazy. At least, that’s what the doctors have claimed since her childhood. Now nineteen, and one step away from a psych ward, Fern struggles to survive in bustling Los Angeles. Desperate to appear normal, she represses the young man flickering at the edge of her awareness—a blond warrior only she can see.

Tristan was Fern’s childhood imaginary hero, saving her from monsters under her bed and outside her walls. As she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into hers, however, it only caused catastrophe. But, when the city is rocked by the unexplainable, Fern is forced to consider the possibility that this young man is not a hallucination after all—and that the creature who decimated his world may be coming for hers.

A Little About Kara

Kara Swanson

As the daughter of missionaries, KARA SWANSON spent sixteen years of her young life in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate with characters dropped suddenly into a unique new world, she quickly fell in love with the speculative genre and was soon penning stories herself. At seventeen, she independently published her debut fantasy novel, Pearl of Merlydia. Her short story is included in Kathy Ide’s 21 Days of Joy: Stories that Celebrate Mom. She has published many articles, including one in the Encounter magazine, and she received the Mount Hermon Most Promising Teen Writer award in 2015.

the-interview

Let’s get started with something easy:  What’s your favorite desert?

CHERRY CHEESECAKE! Homemade. Delicious slices of heaven. 🙂

Homemade desserts are often the best. 

What is your favorite hymn or worship song?

I really love “All in All” 🙂

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Hmmm when I finished my first full-length novel at seventeen, that I co-authored with a fellow missionary kid. That’s when I really felt like a writer – a novelist.

What first inspired The Girl Who Could See?

I wanted to write a novella for this sci-fi magazine I was trying to enter, these two lines popped into my head:

They say every child had an imaginary friend. Mine never left.

It seemed like the perfect story inspiration, so I kept exploring those two lines, and eventually TGWCS was born. 🙂

If Fern and Tristan went on a date, what would it be like?

AWWW! Cute question.

Hot dogs, definitely. A walk in the park, and he’d probably get her some flowers – and make a joke about her name being Fern but that there were no ferns in the flower shop. And they’d sit on a park bench, watch the people go by, soak in the peacefulness. And just … be. Together.

Aww. I like that. Very sweet. 

What are you working on now?

I just signed with an agent! (Whooohoo! That I actually met at the conference where I met you, Kathleen.) We’re working on pitching two series of mine right now.

One of them is a sci-fi/dystopian-esque novel about a girl who discovers everything she knows is a lie – including her very identity.

The other is a paranormal YA about a girl with wings whose father is a fallen angel, and her journey to joining the very creatures she’s been bred to hate:  the angels.

Oh! Very exciting! Congrats on getting an agent and I’m looking forward to your next release!

I just want to conclude this interview by stating that I completely agree with another reviewer who said:

“I really think this book is for everyone. Don’t let the fact that you may not be into the scifi genre deter you from trying it. I think you’ll find that it just might be the book that makes you a fan!”

– Jessica Baker, A Baker’s Perspective

And for the record, I purchased my own copy of The Girl Who Could See at the SoCalCWC conference. In fact, I highly recommend you purchase your own copy of this fascinating novella!

The Girl Who Could See

What do you think of Kara’s cover for The Girl Who Could See? What is the last book you read outside of your typical genre preference?

Author Interview – Angela K. Couch

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As promised, today I have the delightful pleasure of interviewing Angela K. Couch, whose latest release, The Patriot and The Loyalist, was released earlier this month as the second installment in her Hearts at War series. (Don’t forget to enter the giveaway! Tomorrow is the last day!)

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Completing his three years in the Continental Army, Daniel Reid still has no desire to return home—not after losing the woman he loves to a British Captain—so he volunteers to ride south through enemy lines and deliver a message to Colonel Francis Marion, the Swamp Fox. With his temper needing a release and a dark haired beauty finding her way into his broken heart, Daniel decides to join the Swamp Fox’s efforts against the British. Little does he know the British still have the upper hand.

Lydia Reynolds has learned that love comes at a price, and she refuses to pay. Better to close her heart to everything and everyone. When her brother-in-law won’t grant her passage to England, where she hopes to hide from her pain, New Englander, Daniel Reid, becomes her only hope—if she can induce him to give her information about the notorious Swamp Fox and his troops. When the British grow impatient and Daniel evades her questions, Lydia must decide how far to take her charade. The poor man, already gutted by love, hasn’t grown as wise as she. Or so she supposes…

Until the truth is known, the muskets are loaded…and it is time to decide where true loyalties lie.

My full reviews for The Scarlet Coat (book1) and The Patriot and The Loyalist (book 2) may be read by clicking on the linked titles.

 

A little about Angela

angela-k-couch-picTo keep from freezing in the Great White North, Angela K Couch cuddles under quilts with her laptop. Winning short story contests, being a semi-finalist in ACFW’s Genesis Contest, and a finalist in the International Digital Awards also helped warm her up. As a passionate believer in Christ, her faith permeates the stories she tells. Her martial arts training, experience with horses, and appreciation for good romance sneak in there, as well. When not writing, she stays fit (and warm) by chasing after three munchkins.

the-interview

Welcome, Angela. I have to tell you, your books are wonderfully written, historically rich, and truly entertaining. I am so pleased to be having a chat with you today!

Let’s start with a fun one. If you could spend one week living the life of any character, whom would you choose to be?

I think I would have to choose Lydia, the heroine of The Patriot and the Loyalist for this one. Mostly because I would love the chance to live in the grand southern Colonial home her father had built for his daughters. Plus her father’s library is full of some great classic reads. I could spend most of the week hanging out in there…while I try NOT to get in trouble with the British!

LOL Yes. Much better to be reading about trouble than actually living it! Speaking of that grand southern Colonial home:  In prep for this interview, I was exploring your Pinterest board for this book and noticed that your inspiration for the Reynolds home was this beautiful old plantation home in North Carolina, and I happened to find a virtual tour of the property which I think our readers will enjoy: 

I’ve heard so many different answers to this question, I’m curious:  When did you first view yourself as a writer?

Probably as soon as I finished my first manuscript at sixteen. Not that I should have qualified as a “writer” but it was when I realized writing was a huge part of who I was and always would be.

I am seriously impressed that you finished a complete manuscript so young! 

Angela K Couch Author Interview - Writer Quote

Can you share with us a unique quirk in your writing routine?

I’m not sure if there is much about my writing routine not quirky. I have three kids under 6 at home with me all day so most of my writing happens in and around play and snacks and “using mommy as a playground”. I’ve gotten good at setting writing aside and picking it back up at any given moment.

Oh, I cannot count the number of times I have said, “Mommy is NOT a playground, can you please stop trying to climb me.” LOL I absolutely love the image of you doing this while trying to write, and I am seriously impressed with the amount and quality of your completed works while having three kids under 6! That is no easy feat! Well done!

Do you listen to music while you write? If so, what music do you listen to?

I sure do! With lots of noise (usually happy squeals and laughter) in the house, and lots of disruptions in the middle of writing scenes, I love my mood music to keep, or get, myself back in the groove of the story. Writing romance, I listen to a lot of love songs. Things like “Book of Love” by Peter Gabriel, or Billy Joel’s “And So It Goes”. For The Patriot and the Loyalist I listened to Tiffany Alvord’s cover of“Beneath Your Beautiful” a few times.

I admit, I had to look those up. They both seem very calm and serene. I can see how that would work for writing. 

Angela K Couch Author Interview - Music Quote

How did you come up with the idea for this series?

There were originally only two “hearts at war”. The Scarlet Coat started out as a stand-alone. One of the first full manuscripts I finished years ago. Not until more recent rewrites, did I start thinking maybe Daniel Reid needed a chance to fully redeem himself and find love. I mentioned the idea of a second book or possible series in my proposal, and my publisher wanted to know more. They signed me on a two book contract, including the idea that had grown for The Patriot and the Loyalist.

By the time I finished the first draft of this book, I had the next two plots mapped out in what was now the Hearts at War series, and signed another two book contract. I’m very excited about The Tory’s Daughter, and The Return of the King’s Ranger! With how well this series has come together, I can only assume God had plans for it long before I!

I am so glad you gave Daniel his chance at redemption and I am very excited to know there are two more books coming out in this series! However, I must admit to being saddened a bit when I discovered who the hero will be for The Tory’s Daughter. Nevertheless, I am eager to read and see where you take him. 

Can you share with us how you went about doing the research for The Patriot and the Loyalist?

I’ll start by saying how much I LOVE the internet! My first manuscripts – which have not yet seen the light of day – were set during WWII and I well remember my hauls from the library back in the day! Now I have access to everything from Museums to someone’s Master’s theses. A professor in Revolutionary history actually compiled day by day, month by month slides of Colonel Francis Marion’s movements. Gold! With great resources at my fingertips I was able to map The Patriot and the Loyalist off actual history, day by day as the hero assists in the fight against the British in South Carolina.

I completely agree. My local librarians already know me by name in the history departments. Thinking of doing all this historical research without the internet makes me cringe. Wow. What a treasure to have that professor’s detailed records to work with! I was so intrigued when you first told me the Swamp Fox and his nephew, Gabriel, were true historical figures. It definitely added something to your story. 

One of the things I love the most about great fiction is how it can challenge us to take another look at our own lives and values. In The Patriot and the Loyalist, your characters’ must decide where their loyalties truly belong. Can you share a time when your own loyalty was tested?

First I have to decide what I was loyal to in the first place! 😉 I’m very politically opinionated…but I don’t think we want to go there today. And I’m not very much into sports. I think usually my loyalties are tested when it comes to people. I would never do anything to hurt anyone, but I would probably cut ties before letting them be a negative influence on my family.

Good call avoiding the political. 😉 I also think that’s a smart line to draw for protecting your family. 

What are you currently reading?

I actually have a couple books on the go. One on my kindle and one in print…so I have a book for any circumstance! At the moment, I am quite enjoying Amber Lynn Perry’s So Fair a Lady, also set during the American Revolution, and I just started a contemporary romance by Glynna Kaye, The Nanny Bargain.

It used to be I could only read one book at a time, but these days I’m usually reading 2 or 3 as well. 

Well, that’s all the questions I have for you today. Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us!

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Okay readers, what are your thoughts? Did you enjoy the interview? And I’d love to read YOUR answer to the question:  If you could spend one week living the life of any character, whom would you choose to be? Let me know in the comments below!

psst

Don’t forget to stop by my review post for The Patriot and The Loyalist and enter the GIVEAWAY to win your own copies of the first two books in the Hearts at War series!Hearts At War Giveaway Image

All entries must be complete by 11:59pm PST on Tuesday, May 2nd, 2017(That’s TOMORROW!). Winner will be announced Wednesday, May 3rd, 2017

TWEETABLES

“I love my mood music to keep, or get, myself back in the groove of the story.” ~ @AngelaKCouch #authorinterview

When did you first view yourself as a writer? @AngelaKCouch answers #authorinterview

The helpful resource that helped @AngelaKCouch write #ThePatriotandTheLoyalist

“I realized writing was a huge part of who I was and always would be.” ~ @AngelaKCouch #authorinterview

Author Interview – Sondra Kraak

Author Interview Blog Title Image - Sondra Kraak

Today we are in for a special treat! Sondra Kraak has kindly agreed to share a little about herself and the behind the scenes of writing her latest release, Such a Hope the first book in her Paths of Grace series.

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Such a Hope

Washington Territory, 1871

Anna Warren grew up on the seat of a wagon, the daughter of Seattle’s busiest freighter. After her father’s death—a tragedy away from home—she returns to their cabin on the outskirts of Seattle, seeking the sense of belonging that eluded her childhood. But will her desire to pray for miraculous healing for the sick and wounded endear or alienate her to the community? Her most aggravating challenger is also her staunchest defender and has brown hair and eyes, stands six feet tall, and farms with unchecked tenacity. Tristan Porter. This farmer her father had befriended holds more secrets than Yesler’s Mill holds logs.

When ugly rumors arise about her spiritual gift and her property, Anna fears her quest to find belonging will be thwarted.

Tristan holds the truth to set her free, but revealing it will require him to face the disappointments of his past and surrender his plans for the future—a sacrifice he’s not sure he can make.

If you haven’t already, you can check out my review of Such a Hope by clicking HERE

A little about Sondra

Sondra KraakA native of Washington State, Sondra Kraak grew up playing in the rain, hammering out Chopin at the piano, and running up and down the basketball court. Now settled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children, blogging about spiritual truths, and writing historical romance set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She delights in sharing stories that not only entertain, but nourish the soul. Her debut novel, One Plus One Equals Trouble, was a Genesis semi-finalist (2015) and the winner of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Unpublished Women’s Fiction Award (2015).

the-interview

Hi Sondra! Thanks so much for joining me today. Since you’ve already discussed much of the spiritual side of your novel in an interview with Toni Shiloh, I thought we’d stick to some fun, getting to know you and behind-the-scenes type of questions today.

I know that when I write I can often get munchy so I keep a bag of pretzel sticks on hand, along with some candy to reward myself at the end of a writing session. I’m curious, what’s your favorite snack to munch on while you write?

Chocolate chips. Peanut M&Ms. Gummy candy. It’s hard to write and eat at the same time unless it’s something I can pop into my mouth, like chocolate. Popcorn is my favorite snack, but I don’t eat it as I write. Sometimes I eat is as a distraction from writing.

Oooh. I love popcorn. My favorite is air-popped white popcorn with tons of salt.

I know some writers use different pen names for a variety of reasons. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Nope. It never crossed my mind, but it’s unfortunate I have a last name with a double vowel since most people don’t know how to pronounce double vowels. Kraak is pronounced crock, like crock pot. If I open a restaurant, I’m going to call it The Kraak Pot, and cook everything in crock pots. But if people pronounce my name like they usually do (crack), that name could be misleading, and I could get some interesting customers.

Ha ha ha! Oh I love that! I think I’d show up either way it was pronounced if only out of sheer curiosity. 

My love of writing definitely began with my childhood love of reading. What was your favorite book as a child?

I have many fond memories of my parents reading to me. My dad read Hardy Boys mysteries to me, and my mom read the Ramona Quimby series. But picture books are my favorite, and my children now use some of my old books. (See the picture below.)

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I had a few of those on my childhood bookshelves, too! It’s so special how the love of reading gets passed from one generation to the next. My parents read Wilder’s Little House series to me and my grandmother read the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books to us whenever we spent the night at her house. I still have both sets. 

I have read some very different ways that various authors come up with the names for their characters. How do you select the names for your characters?

I don’t have a fancy process. I use what names come to mind or what names I like. I love the name Luke (hero in Two Ways Home). Tristan is named after my husband’s favorite movie hero (Tristan from Legends of the Fall). Claire sounds sophisticated to me, which fits my schoolteacher (One Plus One Equals Trouble). Barrett . . . that was random.

In Three Words and a Kiss (this year’s release), my hero Cam experiences an identity crisis. His safe, routine life is turned upside down when the owner of his blacksmith shop, Samantha Klein, comes to town. Samantha’s nickname is Sam. I wanted their names to rhyme so that Cam feels like even something as fundamental as his name is being stripped from him (she doesn’t like how their names sound alike and asks him to change his. What?! He’s not going for that).

Hmm. She doesn’t like their names sounding alike? Seems a little persnickety. I’m trying to picture the kind of woman who asks her employee to change his name for a reason like that. Also, the kind of woman who takes ownership of a blacksmith shop with a male employee in that time period. Sounds like Cam is going to have his hands full! 🙂

BTW – As Luke is my husband’s name, I’m kinda partial to it, too. 😉

Can you tell me something about your story that you think only a few people will know?

Speaking of names, here’s a little secret about Such a Hope. Anna’s name wasn’t Anna to begin with, and in my mind, she’s still not Anna. Her original name was Ruby, but then another indie author released a historical book Healing Ruby about a young girl named Ruby with the gift of healing. Even though the time period, voice, and story is so different from Such a Hope, I wanted to respect that author by not also releasing a historical romance about a girl named Ruby with the gift of healing. That might get confusing to readers. So Ruby became Anna.

Wow. That must have been difficult to adjust to. I’ve heard stories of publishers telling authors to change their character’s names and it always makes me shudder. These characters become so real to us as writers, it’s almost like someone asking me to change the name of one of my children. That said, I can definitely see why you made that tough decision and I applaud you for it. 

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In a previous interview with Toni Shiloh you mentioned that you “edited out a bunch [of history] that ended up unnecessary to the story.” Can you share some of what you edited out?

A lot of that editing meant shortening scenes, for instance in the beginning when Tristan is talking with President Hall (who was a real person) from the Territorial University. I needed enough about the Morrill Act and farming inventions to show Tristan knew his stuff and was passionate, but not too much, else readers get bored. Same thing in other scenes where Tristan talks to farmers.

Also, I had to not get distracted by all the real people and places in my story. I didn’t want to inundate readers with extra information. One example is Conklin House, which is briefly mentioned several times. It was a beautiful building shipped from Georgia and had an internationally known proprietress who was rumored to cuss in seven languages. She even chased off some government surveyors once by throwing sticks and stones at them. Though it was a hotel and served as the courtroom and town hall for a while, it was also a brothel. The history is so interesting. The house will show up much more in my second book in the Paths of Grace series, but in Such a Hope, readers didn’t need to know all that history. I had to delete some descriptions and commentating.

In case readers are curious, these people and places that show up (or are mentioned) are real: Arthur Denny, Doc and Catherine Maynard, Dr. Smith, Carson Boren, Rev. Bagley, Thomas Mercer, Dexter Horton, Henry and Sarah Yesler, Captain McRedmond, Skid Row, Yesler Hall, Matthias and the Railroad House, Brown Church and White Church (yes, they were distinguished and called by their exterior paint colors). And all the towns, cities, and universities referred to. However, all words and actions in the story are entirely of my own imagining.

Wow. You have clearly done your research and I certainly appreciate the restraint you showed in deciding what to include and what to leave out. I think you did a great job giving me just enough information to understand what I needed to without ever feeling like I was being educated instead of entertained. Also, that is a long list of real people to include in one story, yet while reading the novel I had no idea so many of the characters were real. They blended in seamlessly with your fictional characters. Good job!

What’s your favorite part of being a writer?

Well, other than the relationships I’ve made with other authors (more on that in the next question), my favorite part of being a writer is creating stories. I like to think about characters and their wounds and desires and how Jesus will heal those wounds. And I love making two people fall in love because that’s such a beautiful process of coming to see another person in a deep and honest way (and being known in a deep, honest way). I often take notes during sermons through the eyes of a character, like “oh, that’s just what Lorna’s struggling with. This can be a break through moment for her!” Which is a bit funny to sit in a pew and apply the Word of God to imaginary people, but really, applying truth to my stories is a way to process that truth and apply it to my own life. That’s what fiction is about for me.

That’s awesome. Now I want to sit behind you in church and peek over your shoulder at your notes! 😉

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What other authors are you friends with and how did they help you become a better writer?

Jennifer Rodewald is probably the most influential author for me because she helped me choose the indie path (independent publishing). Watching her indie publish was the main reason I became interested in it. She’s also my critique partner, and her input into my stories and writings is invaluable. I’m also in a critique group with several other aspiring authors, and their friendship and encouragement is beyond compare. The people I’ve met through conferences, ACFW loops, and social media have enriched my life so much. The act of writing is done solo—others can’t write your story—but being a writer is not a solitary endeavor.

I love what you said at the end, there. That is so true. It’s like the saying about iron sharpening iron. In a healthy writing community, we all work together to make each other better and stronger. 

I’m always looking for new authors to read and one of the reasons I do so many book reviews and interviews is because I love sharing the news when I find a great one. Can you share another new or new-to-you author whose book you read this year and are excited about?

I’m reading Crystal Walton’s Write Me Home, and I love her voice. It’s sharp and witty, and she writes in deep point of view. You feel like you’re right there in the character’s mind. I’m also looking forward to reading Tammy Gray soon. I have some of her books on my kindle but haven’t gotten to them yet. My reading time is limited, so mostly I stick to authors whose voices I love and identify with and can learn from: Ronie Kendig, Susan May Warren, Denise Hunter, Karen Witemeyer, Tamera Alexander. After growing up on historical, I find myself reading way more contemporary now days. Interesting, huh?

I haven’t read anything by either Crystal or Tammy. Now I’ve added them to my list! 🙂 I do think it’s interesting that you are reading more contemporary lately. I find I naturally go through phases where I read just historical romance or just contemporary or even just dystopian or fantasy/sci-fi for a while and then I switch. 

Okay, that’s all the questions I have for today. Thank you so much for sharing with us, Sondra! It’s been fun getting to know you a little better.

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Well readers, Did you enjoy the interview? Do you have any additional questions for Sondra? What was your favorite book as a child? Let me know in the comments below!

 

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Author Interview (and Giveaway!)- The Outlaw’s Secret

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I am so excited to welcome award-winning multi-published author, Stacy Henrie, to my blog to talk about her latest book, The Outlaw’s Secret!

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On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

The Outlaw’s Secret
by Stacy Henrie

Lawman in Disguise

Getting taken hostage by a gang of train robbers wasn’t in dime novelist Essie Vanderfair’s plans, but interviewing these men could make her career soar. Especially since the gang includes legendary outlaw Tex Beckett, better known as the Texas Titan. Tex is famed for his protection of women and children, so she’ll be fine…right?

Keeping the gang in line was hard enough before a stubborn, beautiful writer interfered. Now Tex is scrambling to keep Essie safe, to gather evidence against the gang and most of all to hide his dangerous secrets. First, that he’s a detective working undercover. And second, that he’s not the Texas Titan at all, but Tex’s twin brother, Tate Beckett.

Genre: Christian Historical Romance
Pages: 288 pages
Release Date: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Love Inspired Historical

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the-interview

Let’s get started!

As an author, I often get asked how much of myself I put into my characters. So I’m curious, if you were on that train instead of Essie, how would you handle the situation?

I would’ve been terrified! And unlike Essie, I would have chosen to stay seated and silent and hopefully unseen.

As you know, some writers overwrite, others underwrite, and not every scene a writer creates is guaranteed to make it into the final draft. Are there any deleted scenes from this book that you can tell us about without giving away any spoilers?

I love this question, and because I tend to write super close to my word count, there aren’t usually scenes that need deleting. If anything, I may have to add scenes.

As a historical fiction writer myself, I’m always interested in how others approach the research phase of our work. What is your research process like?

I like to get a good handle on the time period and setting before I start writing. Then I’ll research additional things as they come up during the writing process, followed by double-checking details during the editing stage.

I know I have at least one unfinished manuscript which will never see the light of day and another full-length manuscript I have set aside for possible major revision in the future. How many unpublished and unfinished manuscripts do you have and what are your plans for them?

I have three full-length manuscripts that are unpublished—and they will definitely stay that way. J The first novel I ever wrote has not been published because that was really my practice one. The characters of my second unpublished novel are the same characters as my third published book—though with different storylines—so that one will also remain unpublished. I tried my hand at writing a book with a contemporary and a historical story line and realized, for now, I enjoy writing historicals much more than I do contemporary. So, for that story, the contemporary part will remain unpublished too.

Oh, I like that! I am definitely calling mine “practice manuscripts” from now on. I can have more than one, right? 😉

There are so many wonderful writers’ conferences to choose from and only so much time (and money) to go around. Help a fellow writer out. Of the writers’ conferences you have attended, which did you find the most helpful?

Great question! For romance writers in general, I think Romance Writers of America (RWA) puts on a fabulous national conference. For inspirational romance writers, I think the best conference for networking and understanding the market is the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) national conference.

What other authors are you friends with and how did they help you become a better writer?

Siri Mitchell, who also writes inspirational historical romance, was the most influential in helping me discover what I wanted to write. I’d read some of her contemporaries, and after reading one of her historicals, I realized that is what I wanted to write—Christian historical romance. I wrote her an email, telling her how much I enjoyed her historical book, and she graciously wrote back and asked if I was going to the upcoming ACFW conference. This was back in 2010 and the conference was being held in three weeks. I arranged things so I could attend and that conference became the springboard to my published career. I also got to meet Siri there, which was a real treat!

What a great story! The ACFW is definitely on my list of “must attend” conferences for the near future. 

Stacy, thank you so much taking the time to share with us! 

USA Today bestselling author Stacy Henrie is the author of western romances and the Of Love and War series, which includes Hope at Dawn, a 2015 RITA Award finalist for excellence in romance. She was born and raised in the West, where she currently resides with her family. She enjoys reading, road trips, interior decorating, chocolate, and most of all, laughing with her husband and kids. You can learn more about Stacy and her books by visiting her website at stacyhenrie.com.

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Tour Giveaway

– 1 winner will receive print copies of LADY OUTLAW and THE EXPRESS RIDER’S LADY + $10 Amazon Gift Card (US only)
– 1 winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card (open internationally)
– Ends February 18th

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Be sure to check out the rest of the stops along the tour to learn more about Stacy and her newest book, The Outlaw’s Secret. Then stop back here to check out the Grand Finale on February 14th!

What better way to top off Valentine’s Day than by winning new romance novels?

(Yeah, I know there are Amazon Gift Cards too, but who are we kidding? That’s going straight to the book fund! Right? I mean, I know mine would… anyway.)

Tour Schedule

February 1st: Launch
February 2nd:
Bookworm Lisa, Rockin’ Book Reviews, Katie’s Clean Book Collection & Hearts & Scribbles
February 3rd:
Reading Is My SuperPower, I Am A Reader & The Power of Words
February 6th:
Seasons of Humility & Kathleen Denly
February 7th:
Getting Your Read On & Wishful Endings
February 8th:
Mel’s Shelves & Falling Leaves
February 9th:
Singing Librarian Books & Colorimetry
February 10th:
i blog 4 books & Zerina Blossom’s Books
February 12th:
Tell Tale Book Reviews
February 13th:
Heidi Reads… & The Silver Dagger Scriptorium
February 14th: Grand Finale

Thanks for stopping by!

What did you think of the interview? Did you learn something new? Are there any other questions you’d like to ask Stacy? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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Discover Stacy Henrie’s plans for her unpublished and unfinished manuscripts. (Click to Tweet)

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Interview With Inspirational Romance Author Terri Reed

Blog Title Image - Author Interview with Terri Reed at KathleenDenly.com

I am so excited to welcome award-winning multi-published author, Terri Reed, to my blog for my very first author interview! Before we get to the questions, though, here’s a little about her latest book:


On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

A Family Under the Christmas TreeA Family Under the Christmas Tree
by Terri Reed
Inspirational Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 340 pages
October 4th, 2016 by Howard Books

In this heartwarming tale set during the Christmas season, a single father and a fashion photographer are brought together by a young boy and a mischievous Bernese mountain dog—but first they must learn to set aside their differences if they are willing to let their relationship bloom.

David Murphy never knew much about kids. But when his brother dies unexpectedly, David is granted custody of his six-year-old nephew, Troy, who he’s only seen once a year since he was born. He already has his hands full running his business, and he has no idea how to help the grieving boy. When Troy runs off one day, David finds him at a park playing with an adorable and rambunctious Bernese mountain dog—who leads him to Sophie.

Sophie Griffith has spent her life traveling around the world as a photojournalist. She has never stayed in one place for long, and her new assignment—helping her grandmother for a few weeks—is just temporary. Once Christmas day comes, Sophie is off the hook and can leave for a new adventure. Caring for her grandmother is a piece of cake—but caring for her new Bernese mountain dog, Riggs, is a different story. It doesn’t help that Riggs strikes up a friendship with a lost little boy one day at the park—and leads her to David.

Neither David nor Sophie have time for romance. But as they spend more time together, they start falling for each other even though they know it can’t go anywhere. Sophie will be gone after Christmas, and the last thing David needs is another distraction as he tries to comfort Troy. But as their faith and growing love for the boy and dog unites them, they wonder whether it’s more than a holiday romance…and maybe Troy might finally get his Christmas wish for a family.

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Now, on to the interview!

Thank you, Terri, for agreeing to chat with me and congratulations on the release of your latest book, A Family Under the Christmas Tree! I know everyone’s busy this time of year, so I’m going to keep this short and sweet with six fun questions.

I noticed in the bio on your website that you spent ten years working as a model in your life-before-writing. How did that experience help with developing the character of Sophie Griffith?

Having worked in front of the camera for many years afforded me an appreciation for photography. I was able to glean the art it takes, the time and patience as well as the technical know-how for a well-done photo shoot. I enjoyed putting my knowledge to work for Sophie.

I volunteer in the foster youth community so children in need are dear to my heart. What inspired you to write a story that included a boy who’d lost his family?

I knew I wanted a child in the story and I thought it would be interesting to explore how my very career driven hero would take on sudden parenthood. And David didn’t disappoint, he stepped up to the plate and changed his life for his nephew despite how little he knew of being a parent.

The mischievous Riggs plays an important role in your story. I’m curious, why a Bernese mountain dog?Burnese Mountain Puppy - Mostly black with tan splotches, a white belly, white toes, white snout, a white-tipped tail and a white strip running up between the eyes.

Well, two things happened that led me to use a Bernese mountain dog in A Family Under the Christmas Tree.  I was on Pinterest looking for inspiration and came across a graphic of an adorable Bernese wearing a Santa hat standing beside a downed Christmas tree. The caption read, “Mom, the tree fainted.” I thought that was too cute. Then a few days later we were out at a park and met a Bernese mountain dog pup that was absolutely adorable.  I knew then I would use a Bernese mountain dog in the story.

What a great story! Also, I have to agree:  Bernese mountain puppies are pretty much melt-your-heart adorable.

What is your favorite childhood book?

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Oooh! That’s a favorite of mine, too. 

Tell me something about you that might surprise your readers.

I have an extreme phobia of snakes. Doesn’t matter if they are on TV, behind a glass case or in the wild.  They give me the creeps. Mostly because I had a few close run-ins with a variety of snakes when I was a child.

What other authors are you friends with and how did they help you become a better writer?

I belong to Romance Writers of America and know a great many authors. There’s a huge community of writers out there and everyone I have met has been so generous with their support and encouragement. There are several authors who have had an influence on my writing career. Most noteworthy was author Lenora Worth who mentored me when I was an unpublished author. She gave of her time and expertise to help me along my journey to becoming published.

It’s always great to hear about authors supporting each other. I’ve added a link to your answer in case readers want to learn more about Lenora. 

Terri, thanks so much for sharing with us! 

 

Terri Reed’s romance and romantic suspense novels have appeared on Publishers Weekly top 25 Romance and Publishers Weekly top ten Religion Fiction, Nielsen’s Bookscan top 100 and featured in USA Today, Christian Fiction Magazine, More To Life Magazine and Romantic Times Magazine, finaled in RWA’s RITA contest, National Reader’s Choice Award contest, ACFW’s The Carol Award contest. She is an active member of both Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers. She resides in the Pacific Northwest with her college-sweetheart husband. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, gardening and playing with her dogs.

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Be sure to check out the rest of the stops along the tour to learn more about Terri and her newest book, A Family Under the Christmas Tree, and stop back here to check out the Grand Finale on December 18th!

Tour Schedule

December 11th: Launch
December 12th:
Reading Is My SuperPower
Katie’s Clean Book Collection
Falling Leaves
Zerina Blossom’s Books
December 13th:
i blog 4 books
Bookworm Lisa
Mommabears Book Blog
Rockin’ Book Reviews
December 14th:
Jessica and Gracie’s Tree
Mel’s Shelves
Kathleen Denly
December 15th:
Kindle and Me
Getting Your Read On
Paulette’s Papers
December 16th:
Christy’s Cozy Corners
Tell Tale Book Reviews
December 18th: Grand Finale

Tour Giveaway

– 1 winner will receive a copy of Love Inspired Classic 2 in 1, Love Comes Home and A Sheltering Love, a light up angel ornament, a Santa bookmark, A Family Under the Christmas Tree bookmark, a manicure set, and a Tule Book Girl book bag (US only)
– 1 winner will receive a $10 Amazon eGift Card (open internationally)
– Ends December 22nd

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Thanks for stopping by!

What did you think of my first author interview? Are there any other questions you’d like to ask Terri? Post them in the comments below!

TWEETABLES

Which authors have influenced romance author Terri Reed’s career? Read the interview! @KathleenDenly (Click to Tweet)

Check out this interview with award-winning Inspirational Romance Author, Terri Reed! -via @KathleenDenly (Click to Tweet)

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