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Denise Hunter’s latest novel “Blue Ridge Sunrise” releases on Tuesday, November 7. To help celebrate its release I am featuring an interview with the author about her work. I actually reviewed “Blue Ridge Sunrise” in September. You can read that review and a description of the book HERE.
So now on to the interview…
1. If someone has never read your books before, what would be the one thing you’d hope they take away from your novels?
My primary job when writing a novel is to make the reader feel something. Specifically, I want the reader to experience the vicarious thrill of falling in love, feel each crushing heartache, and ultimately enjoy a satisfying sigh as the couple achieves their happily-ever-after. I hope to make the reader laugh and cry, because when we’re fully engaged in a story that way, we feel empathy, and we learn right along side the protagonist. Story can be a very powerful tool.
2. It’s so exciting that you’ve had two of your books, The Convenient Groom and A December Bride adapted into original Hallmark movies.
Hallmark movies almost always revolve around romantic love, so contemporary romance novels that have lots of good “feels” fall right into their sweet spot. They also keep their content clean so it makes sense that they’d actively seek wholesome novels like mine.
3. Without giving away spoilers, what was your hardest scene to write in Blue Ridge Sunrise?
The most challenging scene for me is usually the last scene and epilogue of the book. I really labor over those last couple of chapters, making sure they strike just the right note. I’m not just a writer—I’m a reader too—and I know how frustrating it is when the ending of a book let’s me down. I try my hardest to make the ending of every book I write gratifying for the reader.
4. How do you select the names of your characters?
I keep a “Baby Names” book on hand for that. I always make sure I put it away before we have company over lest they make an erroneous assumption!
5. Is it harder for you to write from the male or female character point of view? Why?
I actually feel comfortable writing both points of view. Of course, being a woman, I have no trouble getting into a female protagonist’s head. But I also have a husband and three sons, so I think I’ve been adequately exposed to the male perspective also!
6. Romances have a way of making us both laugh and cry. What is the first romance that made you laugh? First that made you cry?
When I was in the seventh grade my sister introduce me to Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë. That story met both of those requirements and then some!
“No sight so sad as that of a naughty child,” he began, “especially a naughty little girl. Do you know where the wicked go after death?”
“They go to hell,” was my ready and orthodox answer.
“And what is hell? Can you tell me that?”
“A pit full of fire.”
“And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning there for ever?”
“What must you do to avoid it?”
I deliberated a moment: my answer, when it did come was objectionable: “I must keep in good health and not die.”
“Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! – I have as much soul as you, – and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you!”
7. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I think I’m in the minority here, but yes, I do read reviews. The good ones encourage me, and the bad ones help me become a better writer. That’s not to say they’re always easy to read; a writer’s work is very personal. But the skin does get thicker with time, and I find that the potential for growth outweighs the momentary sting of criticism.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Former free spirit Zoe Collins swore she’d never again set foot in Copper Creek or speak to the man who broke her heart. But return she must when her beloved Granny dies, leaving the family legacy to Zoe–a peach orchard nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
When Zoe returns home with her daughter and boyfriend Kyle, she finds that she’s the only person in town who doesn’t expect her to give up the life she’s established far away from Copper Creek. Everyone believes she was born to run the orchard, but how can she make it her home after so many years?
Cruz Huntley never quite got over his first love Zoe Collins, the little sister of his best friend Brady. Not when she cheated on him during their “break,” not when she took off to parts unknown with good-for-nothing Kyle Jenkins, and not even now—five years later.
As life-changing decisions and a history with Cruz hang over Zoe’s head, tensions rise between her and Kyle. Even as she comes to terms with the shifting relationships in her life, Zoe still isn’t sure if she can remain in Copper Creek with her new responsibilities . . . and her first love.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Denise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 25 books, including “The Convenient Groom” and “A December Bride” which have been made into Hallmark movies. She has appeared on the The 700 club and won awards such as The Holt Medallion Award, The Carol Award, The Reader’s Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist.
Denise writes heartwarming, small-town love stories. Her readers enjoy the vicarious thrill of falling in love and the promise of a happily-ever-after sigh as they savor the final pages of her books.
In 1996, inspired by the death of her grandfather, Denise began her first book, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she’s been writing ever since. Her husband says he inspires all her romantic stories, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!
When Denise isn’t orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking good coffee, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband have three boys and are rapidly approaching an empty nest.
I always enjoy a book by Christy Barritt. Not only does she create a good mystery that takes her readers down enough rabbit trails to keep them guessing but she does it with plenty of humor. Loved this first book in the new series about Joey Darling, a down-on-her-luck actress who is constantly mistaken for her famous role as detective Raven Remington. Naturally Joey finds herself up to her neck in the middle of an investigation and she manages to fumble her way to a few answers.
Loved this book and definitely plan to read the entire series. Joey Darling is an inspired character and it also doesn’t hurt that there are two men who play significant roles in this story. Can’t wait to see where this series takes them all.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
I’m not really a private detective. I just play one on TV.
Joey Darling, better known to the world as Raven Remington, detective extraordinaire, is trying to separate herself from her invincible alter ego. She played the spunky character for five years on the hit TV show Relentless, which catapulted her to fame and into the role of Hollywood’s sweetheart.
When her marriage falls apart, her finances dwindle to nothing, and her father disappears, Joey finds herself on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, trying to piece her life back together away from the limelight. A woman finds Raven—er, Joey—and insists on hiring her fictional counterpart to find a missing boyfriend. When someone begins staging crime scenes to match an episode of Relentless, Joey has no choice but to get involved.
Joey’s bumbling sleuthing abilities have her butting heads with Detective Jackson Sullivan and kindling sparks with thrill-seeking neighbor Zane Oakley. Can Joey channel her inner Raven and unearth whodunit before she ends up totally done in? And where is her father anyway? Can she handle fame, or is disappearing into obscurity the wiser option?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
USA Today has called Christy Barritt’s books “scary, funny, passionate, and quirky.”
A Publishers Weekly best-seller, Christy writes both mystery and romantic suspense novels that are clean with underlying messages of faith. Her books have won the Daphne du Maurier Award for Excellence in Suspense and Mystery, have been twice nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and have finaled for both a Carol Award and Foreword Magazine’s Book of the Year.
She’s married to her prince charming, a man who thinks she’s hilarious–but only when she’s not trying to be. Christy’s a self-proclaimed klutz, an avid music lover who’s known for spontaneously bursting into song, and a road trip aficionado.
Christy currently splits her time between the Virginia suburbs and Hatteras Island, North Carolina. She has more than fifty books published with over one million copies sold.
For more information, visit her website: www.christybarritt.com.
I always enjoy a good historical fiction book and it is especially gratifying when I am not only entertained for a few hours but actually learn something new. “My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah |Leanna’s Choice” fully met both requirements.
The story itself was interesting and the romance was sweet yet did not progress smoothly at all. Both protagonists had lost a loved one and both blamed themselves. Their response to God’s role in their lives was practically opposite in every way and was only one source of the dilemma that kept both parties hesitant to commit to the other. I enjoyed getting to know each character and found scenes with the children to be especially fun.
Racial prejudice is a subject that has been covered in so many books. Every American knows very well the history between blacks and whites in our nation. I was also aware of prejudice over the years toward Irish, Italian, Chinese, and Japanese immigrants as well as others in recent years. Somehow I had missed knowing about the prejudice against the Greek immigrants but in view of history, it makes sense that many would feel threatened by someone with an unknown background, especially if they were in competition for hard-to-find jobs. It was enlightening to meet the Pappas family and learn their customs and witness their struggle to become true Americans.
This book has a strong theme of doing the right thing and not returning evil for evil. It is also a strong story of forgiveness and trusting the Lord.
I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by Celebrate Lit. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Schoolteacher Leanna McKee plans on leaving the coal mining town of Castle Gate, Utah, and never looking back. Good riddance to coal dust, rugged men, and the fatal mine that took her husband’s life.
Until the widow meets a widower who awakens her heart…and she finds herself inexplicably falling for miner Alex Pappas which stirs up a whole heap of trouble.
Alex’s Greek parents have arranged a more traditional match for him. When the schoolteacher’s association with the Greek family begins to anger the American miners, they threaten Alex and his family. Leanna has received an offer to teach elsewhere and feels she has no choice but to leave Castle Gate. . .though she will be leaving her heart behind.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Angie Dicken is a third generation Greek American, the granddaughter of strong men and women who endured hardship to grow American roots. My Heart Belongs In Castle Gate, Utah is set near the birthplace of her grandfather, a Greek coal miner’s son, and published 100 years after his birth. Angie is a contributor to The Writer’s Alley blog and an ACFW member since 2010. She lives with her husband and four children in the Midwest where she enjoys exploring eclectic new restaurants and chatting with friends over coffee. You can connect with Angie at www.angiedicken.com.
GUEST POST FROM ANGIE DICKEN:
My Publishing Story: A Journey of Perfect Timing
I wrote a story five years ago. My footing was finally solid on how to write, after a couple ACFW conferences and connecting with my bestie writing sister, Ashley. So in 2012, I poured my heart out within the parameters of what I’d learned.
The story I wrote stemmed from my heritage. From a very young age, I’ve been inspired by my grandfather. He was the son of a Greek coal miner who came over from Greece in the 1910’s. My grandfather always had wonderful stories to tell–he stirred up my intrigue for WWII era as he was a Purple Heart recipient (twice), and spoke of freeing concentration camps and invading Hitler’s homes; my grandfather lived a rags to riches legacy, having been born in a tent in a coal town, and then becoming a successful home and commercial builder–I declared I’d be an architect at age eleven…even majoring in Landscape Architecture in college.
Papou was one of my greatest heroes. And my novel was a tribute to him, to my Greek roots, to an American legacy.
So, at ACFW 2012, I took my novel to conference with more confidence than I had before. This story caught the attention of an agent– and I signed a contract with the Steve Laube Agency in November of that year. That was amazing…I chuckle now because the name of the room that I interviewed with Tamela was the “McKee” room–the last name of my heroine. A sign? Maybe. When she sent my story out for all publishers to see that next month, I thought my time for that book was just around the corner.
Now it’s 2017, and that story is under contract with a publisher as of Fall 2016.
What timing, right?
Why the heck did it take so long? Not for lack of trying. My agent and I took every possible measure.
Why did I get rejection after rejection, and write two other books in the wait?
What happened between then?
Only in looking back, do I see why I had to wait for this book. And when I look back, I realize just how much Timing is His and there’s nothing I can do to speed it up or make it mine. All I can do is take courage, and wait.
I’ll give you a quick recap of what happened between 2013–when the book was put in the proverbial drawer of unwanted manuscripts–and now, 2017, the year it will get published (um, after a few rewrites and edits–always learning…).
In looking back, this is what I see:
My Community was Built. I fell in love with my writer friendships. A bit dramatic? Maybe, but it’s the truth. I connected with ladies who knew my heart as a writer, and allowed me into their lives in an authentic, Christ-loving way. I found hope in the writing journey because my friends held my hands and rubbed my back when all seemed lost. And in this, I grew not as a writer, but as a heart. My heart became soft for the needs of others and the value of authenticity in this short, precious life.
There was a Pride Monster, and He needed to kill it. Oh, Lord, if ever there was a pride monster, it was me. My gut reaction in every rejection, every criticism, every other person’s success was a measurement against them according to me. Yuck. Do you know what the best way to kill a Pride Monster? Starve it. Even though I had my sweet friends and my agent encouraging me along the way, my heart was set on publication and I was not getting that. I wanted it so badly that I turned ugly when it seemed to slip through my fingers with every rejection. And I spiraled and I came up for air to those authentic friendships speaking Truth in love. God knew what He was doing when He built my community, and He knew He would use it to lift me up and tear down my ugly.
The Darkest Valley Was Ahead. Everything stood still in 2014. My personal crisis gave me little room for any true focus on my writing success. If anything, it made the effort seem petty. When you go through your days wondering if you’ll make it to the next morning without a complete mental breakdown, you can’t really dream. My dream in those moments was to crawl out of my skin and run away. This was not about my writing, this was about God’s faithfulness to someone who was losing faith–in the person she loved, in the life she constructed, in the heart that was broken. Looking back (I did climb up and out of this valley), I needed this valley walk (or crawl) to happen when it did–without a book on the shelf, without confidence in something that I had accomplished. I needed brokenness to become stronger and know that my strength has nothing to do with me.
There are several other moments and signs that I see as I look back, but I’m not going for the longest blog post of 2017, but I do want to share two sweet confirmations that the timing really is His.
First, I got a book contract! You know this, but, the contract came at a time when I had grown peaceful in the journey–the pride monster lay slain, and I picked up a pen and took an opportunity. My Oklahoma Land Run book with Love Inspired Historical won the Manuscript Matchmakers contest…and WAS coming out in Spring 2018.
I had secretly told those closest to me, that it would’ve been nice for it to come out in September instead…just because that’s when the book opens–September, 1893–the historical date of the Land Run.
So, what happens after I turn in my complete book a few days before its deadline? My editor tells me they bumped up my date to September of 2017. And I am sure, for them, it had nothing to do with the history, but for me, it was everything to do with the history–and His timing. Look for my debut novel, The Outlaw’s Second Chance this September!
My second contract came in! And this was a wonderful surprise. My agent and I had found out last spring that a new series was being launched based on geographical places around the U.S. I immediately thought of my Coal country story. So, I put together a proposal for a book I’d written long ago…and got a contract with Barbour this Fall for my novel, My Heart Belongs in Castle Gate, Utah.
But, the timing? November 2017 is my release.
God’s Timing in its finest…The book comes out during the centennial year of my grandfather’s birth. He was born in Dec. 1917 in Carbon County, Utah. My hero and my inspiration for this very book.
I just can’t stop smiling at the chance to honor my late grandfather with a story written by his third generation Greek American granddaughter who was inspired by his roots grown a century ago.
If only he could be here now. But I know he’s smiling, too.
It took a CENTURY.
Only by God’s grace, and His perfect timing.
A Baker’s Perspective, October 31
Faithfully Bookish, October 31
Caffeinated Reads, October 31
Captive Dreams Window, November 1
Reading Is My SuperPower, November 1
A Greater Yes, November 2
Janices book reviews, November 2
Daysong Reflections, November 2
Red Headed Book Lady, November 3
Books, Books, and More Books., November 3
Just the Write Escape, November 3
Carpe Diem, November 4
Christian Bookaholic, November 4
Radiant Light, November 5
History, Mystery & Faith, November 5
Chas Ray’s Book Nerd Corner, November 6
Texas Book-aholic, November 6
Babs Book Bistro, November 7
Kristin’s Book Reviews, November 7
Singing Librarian Books, November 8
Connie’s History Classroom, November 8
D’S QUILTS & BOOKS, November 9
J.E. Grace Christian Author Blog, November 9
Neverending Stories, November 9
Have A Wonderful Day, November 10
Pause for Tales, November 10
Tell Tale Book Reviews, November 11
Mary Hake, November 11
Splashes of Joy, November 11
Bigreadersite, November 12
Blossoms and Blessings, November 12
Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, November 12
Vicky Sluiter, November 13
Bibliophile Reviews, November 13
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I have been reading Tamera Alexander’s books since her very first one and have enjoyed them so much that she is one of the authors I must read. As a Tennessean I have so much appreciated her novels set in the Nashville and Franklin area which are just a three to four hour drive from my home. It is so interesting to learn more about my state’s history in the form of a well-researched novel that makes the people come to life for readers.
“Christmas at Carnton” is the perfect Christmas book for history lovers, especially those who find the Civil War of interest. Not only does it contain a heart-warming romance but it includes a detailed look at life in middle Tennessee during that era from the luxuries on the plantation to the deprivations of widows and children. It was fun to visit Carnton through the eyes of Aletta and Jake as they received such a warm and caring welcome from Colonel John McGavock‘s family.
A fine story filled with hope and faith, “Christmas at Carnton” should be an excellent gift for someone you know or even for yourself.
I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book provided by Litfuse Publicity. A favorable review was not required. All views expressed are my own.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
Amid war and the fading dream of the Confederacy, a wounded soldier and a destitute widow discover the true meaning of Christmas—and sacrificial love.
Recently widowed, Aletta Prescott struggles to hold life together for herself and her six-year-old son. With the bank threatening to evict them, she discovers an advertisement for the Women’s Relief Society auction and applies for a position—only to discover it’s been filled. Then a chance meeting with a wounded soldier offers another opportunity—and friendship. But can Aletta trust this man?
Captain Jake Winston, a revered Confederate sharpshooter, suffered a head wound at the Battle of Chickamauga. When doctors deliver their diagnosis, Jake fears losing not only his greatest skill but his very identity. As he heals, Jake is ordered to assist with a local Women’s Relief Society auction. He respectfully objects. Kowtowing to a bunch of “crinolines” isn’t his idea of soldiering. But orders are orders, and he soon discovers this group of ladies—one, in particular—is far more than he bargained for.
Set against the backdrop and history of the Carnton Plantation in Franklin, Tennessee, Christmas at Carnton is a story of hope renewed and faith restored at Christmas.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Tamera Alexander is a USA Today bestselling author and one of today’s most popular writers in the historical fiction genre. She and her husband live in Nashville, Tennessee, not far from the Southern mansions that serve as the backdrop for six of her award-winning novels. For more about Tamera’s books, visit www.TameraAlexander.com