My featured author this month is another native Kentuckian, though she spends part of her time in Utah. Virginia “Ginny” Smith was my first real writer friend. We met at the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference when I “happened into” one of her classes. Though there by mistake, I was so entertained I decided to stay, then returned for the repeat of the class. I wrote pages of notes. I not only learned a great deal that day, but also gained one of the most important things you can receive at a writer’s conference–friendship.
I think a good story begins in the author’s heart. It grows and matures there, nourished by love and imagination, until it is strong enough to emerge into the world through a skillful pen. When others read the story, it seeps into their hearts and settles for a while. That’s what I strive to do – tell stories that connect us heart to heart. Stories that slip from my heart to yours. The styles of my books vary, just like my tastes as a reader – some are funny, some thoughtful, some suspenseful, some deeply moving. In every one you will meet new friends so real you’ll miss them when they’re gone.–from her website here.
She has certainly succeeded in doing that. Her characters are well-grounded and real, and her stories are varied. Whatever your preferred genre, you’re likely to find it among the books she’s authored.
Her newest release is The Amish Widower, (The Men of Lancaster County, Book 4).
Is It Time for This Widower to Give Love One More Chance?
After the devastating loss of his second wife, Seth Hostetler believes a lasting love is beyond all hope. A year has passed, and his mamm and sister are determined to see him happily married once again. But how can he open his heart to another woman when their relationship could end in tragedy?
On an outing with his family, Seth comes across an Amish potter hard at work and jumps at the chance to take a seat at the wheel. He takes quickly to this creative outlet, pouring his long-buried emotions into each piece he shapes. Unfortunately, the fancy nature of his art draws the disapproval of his district’s leadership.
His work puts him in the path of Leah, an Englisch woman employed by the Amish to sell their wares to tourists. Despite her aloofness, something about her speaks to Seth’s wounded soul. But what is he to do when the things he wants most threaten to pull him away from the life he’s committed to live?
A compelling novel of second chances and the power of God to redeem hearts and dreams, set in the inviting Amish community of Lancaster County.
One reviewer said about The Amish Widower–“Master storyteller, Virginia Smith, weaves a painful and poignant tale of twice-widowed Seth. On a whim, Seth takes a free pottery lesson from a local Amish artisan and discovers a measure of peace–and finds he has a talent for the craft. I appreciate an author who does her research–in this case, in the art of throwing pottery–and guides us through the eyes, make that the hands, of her characters. So tactile are Smith’s descriptions, my own fingers twitched to feel the clay…”
VIRGINIA SMITH is the bestselling author of thirty-one novels (and counting!), an illustrated children’s book, and over fifty articles and short stories. An avid reader with eclectic tastes in fiction, Ginny writes in a variety of styles, from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense. Her books have been finalists in many prestigious awards, and two of her novels received the Holt Medallion Award of Merit. Learn more about Ginny and her books at www.VirginiaSmith.org.
Welcome to my blog, fellow Write Integrity Press author, Joan Deneve. I’m excited about Joan’s new release, Freeing Ellie, the second book in The Redeemed Side of Broken Series. I so enjoyed her first book, award-winning Saving Eric.
Betty: Joan, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
Joan: It was crazy! Writing came to me, I didn’t go seeking it. Over twenty years ago, I had an idea for a story, but I never ever planned to write it.
Then, four years ago, during my summer break from teaching, I was sitting on my back porch reading a really good book. When I finished it, I read on the back cover that it was the author’s debut novel.
Just for fun, I decided to grab a composition notebook and a pen and play around with that story idea. From then on, it took on a life of its own. I wrote like a possessed woman, barely stopping to eat or sleep. My poor husband indulged my obsession, and even massaged my hand when it throbbed and cramped. Six weeks later my debut novel, Saving Eric, was born.
Betty: Wonderful story! What is the most surprising thing you learned while writing one of your books?
Joan: This is going to sound crazy, but I learned that the characters will actually talk to me and kind of tell me which way the plot should go. I’m a pantster, which means I don’t plot out the entire novel before I start writing.
In my first novel, something happened to the main character that I really didn’t want to happen, but the character seemed to be telling me he had to go through it. Weird, huh?
And I’m ashamed to admit this one, but one big surprise was how much I had to learn about the craft of writing. As a novice writer, I wrote the entire book without knowing much about the craft. I knew nothing about deep point of view or the importance of “showing versus telling.” I’m very thankful for the writer friends who took me under their wings to teach me those concepts. The first draft looks nothing like the published novel.
Betty: Most authors will get that, Joan. I, too am very grateful to the many who helped me learn the craft–in process! So, where do you write best?
Joan: Believe it or not, I still write out the entire novel on paper and then type it. I still write best on my back porch where it is quiet and peaceful and the only interruptions are birds and butterflies and buzzing bees.
Betty: Sounds wonderful to me. Tell us about your latest release.
Joan: I’m happy to announce Freeing Ellie was published in May of this year and is available on Amazon.com. http://amzn.to/25fGKza
Back cover blurb:
Life couldn’t be better or sweeter for Eric and Ellie Templeton as they begin their life together as new Christians and a newly married couple. But Ellie enters her marriage with some baggage of her own. What if Eric goes back on another mission? What if she loses this man who has become her life? Even worse, what if God never lets them have a child of their own?
God has some spiritual surgery to perform on Ellie to free her from the deep-seated feelings of guilt and doubt that have bound her soul for years.
God painstakingly and lovingly creates the perfect storm of events designed specifically to bring Ellie to the place where she can “let go” and fully trust God. No. Matter. What.
Betty: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers about the book?
Joan: In Saving Eric, the first book in the Redeemed Side of Broken Series, we meet Eric and Ellie, two thirty-something strangers who have some brokenness. God brings them both to a saving faith in Jesus Christ and radically changes their lives. They fall in love and marry… happily ever after, Right? Well, almost.
As the back cover of Freeing Ellie suggests, Ellie struggles with many fears and anxieties. I wanted to show a character that loves God with all her heart but still finds it hard to trust God, especially when something hard comes into her life.
Ellie struggles with self-doubt, guilt from past sins, and most of all, clinical depression that rears its ugly head during times of crisis.
But the book has light moments, too. As newlyweds, Eric and Ellie have some fun banter and some tender moments. They are both learning how to adapt to married life and also to their newfound faith.
It’s my hope that the reader’s faith will be strengthened to trust God with the outcome: No. Matter. What.
Betty: Beautiful. Any fun discoveries while writing these books?
The students in my junior high and senior high English classes are some of my biggest fans. I love chatting over plot ideas with the students, and I’ve gotten some really good tips from them. Nobody knows how to keep it real like a teenager!
One very special student asked if she could please read the manuscript of Freeing Ellie because she didn’t want to wait until it was published. I caved and let her. She even did an oral book report on the book without giving away the ending. In the conclusion of her report she added, “I loved the characters and consider Ellie to be one of my best friends.” Needless to say, that student received an A+. 🙂
Another gratifying moment was discovering that my best friend in Texas named her new puppy Eric T. after my character, and my daughter named her new puppy Ellie.
But probably my best discovery was this whole world that opened up when I became a serious writer. I go to conferences and meet people just like me, who spend a lot of time thinking, and planning, and talking to imaginary characters. I’ve made new life-long friends who are really cool people whom I never knew existed. What fun!
Betty: Yes, writers are wonderful and fun. I’ve made so many friends since beginning this journey–including you. 🙂 So, Joan, what’s next for you?
Joan: This summer I will be writing the third and final book in the Redeemed Side of Broken Series. Loving Brock will take place on the mission hospital compound where Brock Whitfield, Ellie’s father and spiritual mentor, faces a personal crisis of his own. This book will address what many Christians experience: How to obey God when He asks us to do something we really don’t want to do.
Betty: Oh, boy, I’m facing that right now. I look forward to reading the next book. God bless your writing journey.
More about Joan Deneve:
Joan Deneve grew up in a small town in Alabama where she and her husband of forty-two years now reside. They have two happily married children and seven phenomenal grandchildren.
Joan teaches English in a Christian school and has a passion to help young people fall in love with Jesus and find His purpose for their lives.
Joan would like to give away an autographed set of her books: Saving Eric and Freeing Ellie (because it would be better to read Saving Eric first). By the way, Saving Eric is a 2015 Grace Award winner!
Betty: If you’d like to receive these two books, leave Joan a comment below. If you have any problems commenting here, use the Contact Me tab to send me an email. In the message, write “Joan Deneve’s giveaway.”