Merry Monday at Crazy Creek

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Merry Monday, everyone! The holiday festivities begin in earnest this week, as I make food and do laundry in preparation for that most important and glorious Opening Day of Deer Hunting. Not me! My menfolk! I shoo them away and spend the weekend reading etc.
I won’t, however be reading “Crazy Creek Christmas” by that excellent author Lisa Lickel because I ALREADY READ IT! Here she is, talking all things Christmas and her latest book.

Welcome Lisa! Let’s jump right in with a pressing hypothetical situation. Your entire area has been temporarily quarantined because someone believes they saw a UFO. You can’t go home but the Center for Studying Strange Sightings will pay for you and your entire family to go anywhere in the world—make that universe—for Christmas. Where will you go and how will you celebrate?
Well we have to go visit Stella and her family (from Parhelion) on their secret Tau Ceti planet they escaped to after nuclear war threatened to destroy Earth. If we went for a little while, we’d be fine. Just for Christmas. Tau Ceti isn’t too different, but we’d have to get used to the chlorine-scented everything. Does pine and cinnamon cover that? We’d have our traditional caroling passed around in the bespeaking voice Ceticians use, as well as out loud. And food, of course—always must have a great meal after the meeting for worship. We can bring a ham to go with salad. Christmas and Christmas no matter where you go.

Ha! Did I ask the right question there, or what? For those of you who don’t know, “Parhelion” is Lisa’s science fiction novel. So there would be ham. Any other favorite dish to make for Christmas?
My new favorite is watching my daughters-in-law make Grandma’s crepes on Christmas morning while I play with their children.

Bless those daughters-in-law! Not everyone has ideal family situations. Leah and Noel have both come out of difficult and/or tragic family circumstances. How they handle what life handed them is completely different. What role does faith in a good God, or the lack of it, play in their transformations?
Good question. Leah is a nice person, just naturally a sweetheart but she wasn’t raised in a family of faith and never really thought much about church or salvation. She wouldn’t hurt a fly despite being taken advantage of, so she’s ripe for hearing the Word. It may take her a while to truly accept the gift of grace, but she’s already in tune with God when her new ranch family helps her understand what she’s missing. Noel was raised in a family that practiced charity and regularly attended worship services and youth group. Yet he ran from all of that. I think he believes that leaving the ranch also means shedding everything about his former life. When the chips are down and he has choices to make, though, the depth of his character formed through well-practiced faith shines through and it doesn’t even occur to him to blame others for his problems. His remorse proves he’s never outgrown or run far enough from doing the right thing.

Yet in spite of these heartbreaking circumstances, the story isn’t depressing! How do you walk the line between hope and melancholy?
That’s nice to hear. I don’t want my stories to be downers, but conflict has to rise from somewhere. I think the fact that the main event heartbreak takes place before the story begins, and the tragedy that Noel suffers are handled within the Kingdom of Hope and Possibilities by people who understand that God loves them no matter what helps a lot. It’s okay to have a pity party for a while, but how we rise above what happens is the real story.

Introduce us to Leah and Noel.
Leah is a daughter given up for adoption under circumstances which always eluded her. She was raised in a pleasant but busy foster home and when she aged out after high school took jobs waitressing and kept moving west until meeting a kindly couple running a diner in Crazy Creek, Wyoming. They had a heart for a special family of ranchers south of town and helped Leah hire on. Noel is the driven kid who just didn’t want to be a farmer like his dad. His sister loved their family ranch, so Noel lit out for the big city to become a property developer. He thinks that by selling his family ranch to a horse tourism outfit he’ll solve everyone’s problems. Little does he know he’s the only one on his side. Even the new cute cook thinks he has a stone for a heart.
It’s funny—last week I interviewed Susan Baganz, whose female protagonist in “Sugar Cookies and Street Lamps” is named “Noelle.” And this week I welcome you and “Crazy Creek Christmas”—whose male protagonist is named Noel! Yet depending on which syllable you emphasize, it is a very feminine or very masculine name. How much thought do you put into names of your characters?
Susan thought that was funny, too, and we didn’t collaborate. Last year three of us had Mistletoe titles. Names are important to set a particular tone. I also happen to think Noel Coward was a groovy playwright and actor and I’ve always had a secret yen to use that name.

You titled your chapters! I love that! Not too common anymore. What made you decide to do that?
It just seemed like a fun thing to do. I didn’t have numbers at first, but someone else made an executive decision. Quite often I use a little phrase describing a chapter to keep me on track when I’m writing, but this story came together so fast I didn’t even have time to think about it. I wanted to offer the reader a little glimpse of what to expect.

Who in “Crazy Creek Christmas” is your favorite character after Leah and Noel?
I’m honestly trying to answer, but every time I try to pick one, I think of something about one of the others that was fun to explore—Jorge’s children, Manny’s “love ya,” “Gil’s soulful woundedness, Tom’s contemplative silence, and Marty’s cantankerousness; even Sister’s patience, and of course Cupcake’s name.
Favorite Christmas song? Or, if you really like Christmas music, feel free to share more!
I do, I do like Christmas music. I love both old and new, and cry for different reasons. I have Amy Grant singing “Love Has Come” sparkling in my head—thanks a lot. That’s gonna be an all-dayer. Steven Curtis Chapman’s Christmas album is a fav, and “Lo, How a Rose E’er Blooming.” Don’t why know.

Will you write more about the Rocking J Ranch and Crazy Creek?
So, you’re the third person to ask me that. I guess, if one more person asks, I’ll consider it. I sort of even have the start of an inkling of a possible potential plot.

Actually I think three times is a charm…Would you like to live on a ranch?
It’s a place I think would be nice to visit, but I’m past all the enormity of being involved in an operation like that.

How much are you like Leah? Different?
How about Noel? Men and women are obviously different but also are similar in many ways. Any characteristics you have in common with him?
I’m from the Midwest, and I enjoy cooking, and if someone plunks me in a house with dust, I have a compulsive itch to clean. But other than that…nope, this little plump short grandma has little in common with Leah, other than I, too, dislike interrupting. Something about Midwestern values. Noel? He’s got a big chip on his shoulder, doesn’t he? He really wants to help, he just stumbles around trying too hard. He needs a good helpmeet. I guess I like to “help” too, which doesn’t always fly in the right direction.

Sister is a pretty appealing horse. Do you like horses? Ride much?
I love to look at them from a distance. My neighbors use horses in their work and pasture them around us, but I agree with Leah: they are awfully BIG.

And the burning question: do you decorate for Christmas before or after Thanksgiving?
After, of course! My prudish Pilgrim people decorations would frown at my opulent mink-coated Santa. They might not even appreciate the ceramic Santa kneeling at Jesus’s manger.

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Blurb
Crazy Creek, Wyoming saves Leah Hanes’s life. Running on fumes and bald tires, she thanks heaven for Cookie and Jeanette Wimmer who send her to the Rocking J Ranch as a winter cook. Leah arrives to discover the ranch and the people need more than a cook.

Noel Johansen, heir of the Rocking J, happily left for the big city years ago. When he loses his family in a terrible accident, the best thing for everyone is to sell the place, ditch the memories, and move on. But his brother-in-law has other plans, and the beautiful new cook they’ve hired for the season threatens Noel’s desire to remain detached.

The ranch represents Noel’s future and selling it becomes more important than ever when one more tragedy leaves him with nothing. But memories can’t be bought and sold, nor can a broken conscience heal itself. Home, heart, and future are irrevocably tied in Crazy Creek.
Lisa Lickel headshot 234kb

Bio
Lisa Lickel is a Wisconsin author who loves books and dragons, she writes inspiring fiction. Besides writing inspiring fiction, she also writes short stories, feature articles, and radio theater, and loves to encourage new authors through mentoring, speaking, and leading workshops. She is an avid book reviewer and blogger, and a freelance editor. Find more at LisaLickel.com.

Merry Monday at the Tuesday Prude

 

 

SugarCookiesAndStreetLamps_prc5539_750It’s November, and you know what that means. Wampanoag and Pilgims, turkey, gratitude, and Christmas novella publicity. Authors of Christmas books write about all things holly and mistletoe around Easter, spend summers by their air conditioners polishing and proofreading the Christmas tree scenes, and cook their Thanksgiving turkeys while figuring out how else to publicize this story they’ve devoted whole sections of the year to getting published.
And all so you and I can spend December cozied up near our Christmas trees, sipping a favorite hot (or cold—we do understand Christmas is celebrated in hot climates also) beverage and reading as many Christmas stories as we can cram into 25 days.

I’ll be interviewing a few of my favorite authors about their contributions to make our Christmases merry and bright. Today I host my friend (and editor!) Susan Baganz. Her novella this year is Sugar Cookies and Street Lamps, a sweet-in-every-way story. (Pop over to Amazon to preorder )

Susan, welcome to the Tuesday Prude! Let’s jump in with a controversial issue.
Christmas: start celebrating and decorating before or after Thanksgiving?
I decorated this past Saturday which goes against my usual “don’t set up the tree till the day after Thanksgiving” policy. The variation this year is only because I’m due to have surgery and want to be able to relax and enjoy healing and the holidays without overdoing it. The lights might not be turned on until then, but no promises. We do love having a Christmas tree and if my kids, now teenagers, had their way, it would be up year round!
Which of the cookies in your book’s comprehensive list intrigued you enough to want to try your hand at baking—and eating?
The funny thing is, I will bake cookies but I’m not a big cookie eater myself, which is probably a good thing! I’ll taste one or two and then I’m done and leave the rest for my husband and kiddos. Having said that, raspberry Linzer cookies, baklava tassies, Irish cream delights and English cranberry orange shortbread, might be a few that would tempt me to bake and taste.

I am a cookie lover, so maybe I better not try my hand at any of those bits of deliciousness. Your sugar cookie recipe at the end of the book is tempting enough!

Give us a quick character sketch of Noelle and Rudy, your protagonists in “Sugar Cookies and Street Lamps.”
Noelle has a Christmas Eve birthday but doesn’t like Christmas. She’s trying to get an event planning business off the ground while working at the library. She’s strait-laced as far as her morals go and has great organizational skills.
Rudy’s ears and nose tend to turn red when he’s embarrassed. He does art and decorates as a hobby but works at an Investment Firm. He loves Christmas and the reason for the season.

HA! I love that Rudy’s NOSE turns red!

What inspired you to have the setting be a Dickens’ village party?
I started the book with a title and went from there. Street lamps. The lyrics to “Silver Bells” came to mind, the city sidewalks, busy shoppers and then I thought of the old-fashioned lights and bright colored store fronts that used to be part and parcel of the holidays and soon I had this quaint and magical idea for an event! Fun to write about, not sure I’d want the hard work of putting it together like Noelle and Rudy did.

That is part of the magic of writing—we can create something really beautiful without ever leaving our laptops.
Speaking of inspiration, what led to the title of the book?
I have written a few Christmas novellas and all of them have been historical. I decided to do something contemporary and put it in Milwaukee which led me to make it part of the Orchard Hill series although few characters from previous books appear. Given my penchant for titles involving food and traffic/road related words in the vein of Pesto and Potholes, Salsa and Speed Bumps etc…it seemed natural to do Sugar Cookies and Street Lamps.
It’s a delightful title! Something else delightful—last Christmas Day you were barely married to the love of your life. Are there any Christmas traditions you’d like to incorporate into your household?
That’s a great question and one I’ve not really found an answer for yet. Christmas is pretty laid back for us. We attend Christmas Eve service, just the two of us as the kids are with their father. Christmas day I fix a special brunch which has to include bacon. I let the kids sleep in. After brunch we open gifts. I’ve done this since the kids were little. Gifts appear under the tree as I purchase and wrap them, so they learned at a young age to be patient. We never told them Santa brought gifts. So they have learned to anticipate but not peek. The rule was if they tried to open something it got sent back and they didn’t dare test me on that! As the kids are older, there are fewer gifts and this year we are giving them a memory instead. There will still be some small things under the tree. Usually the rest of the day is relaxing, possibly watching movies, although the kids won’t do that with us. I might make something special for dinner later. It becomes a day of rest. Our big family celebration with my parents takes place on a different day.

I expect as the kids leave home that will change and then we’ll have to change with that, but I really like the low-key relaxing day.
Why is a faith message so important in your novels?
I believe I will stand before God for what I write. When I teach at conferences, I tell authors that we will be held accountable for the words we put on the page, and the theology we convey in our stories whether obvious or not. I firmly believe that. Even as an editor I won’t contract stories that violate key principles I believe in as a Christian. And we all need encouragement and a fresh reminder of the truth of the gospel. Story is a powerful vehicle for getting beneath the more obvious roadblocks people can put up to hearing the truth. What if someone didn’t know Jesus and read any of my books? Would they see Jesus there? Either in the actions of the characters or the dialogue? That’s always in the back of my mind. In many ways, writing is an act of worship for me.
Elements of faith, hope and love always seem to pop up in your stories. What else can we find when we read your books?
Faith, hope, and love… and the greatest of these is love. Sometimes humor creeps in although I don’t write comedy and admire people who can do it well. I like to write about the fact that even as believers, life can be difficult and that we need to grow spiritually and emotionally. You can’t have one without the other. Sometimes that process is hard and my hope would be that people can be encouraged to persevere to the other side. While I write happily-ever-afters, I’m fully aware that it is a moment in time, and troubles all come our way. We need to savor those joy-filled moments.

Any holiday besides Christmas that you think would be a good setting for a book?
Thanksgiving could be good as I think family dynamics can be as challenging then as they are at Christmas and gratitude is a good theme. Christmas just seems to hold its own magic though, don’t you think?
I know it does for me! Part of the magic comes from lights and decorations in our darkest month. Are there any memorably magical Christmas displays you’ve seen?
The Paine Art Center in Oshkosh does a wonderful Nutcracker theme at Christmastime which is cool. Fond du Lac, the city near where I live, has a fun light display set to music that is free out at Lakeside Park. I took Ben there last year and he was spellbound as he’d never seen anything like that. It was sweet to see that childlike awe as he watched and we listened.
If you were queen of the world, what would your ideal Christmas Day look like?
Ohhhh! I’d need a bigger house! I would have maids to clean and every room decorated—by someone else of course! And a wonderful feast around a large table with family and friends with holiday music playing in the background. Maybe board games after? Great conversations. Maybe gifts? I think being present with people is more valuable than material things.
When you are queen of the world, I will be angling for an invitation to those Christmas festivities. Just warning you.
Finally, tell us why we should read “Sugar Cookies and Street Lamps.”
It is a sweet story and our family’s favorite sugar cookie recipe is at the end of it. If you want a fresh reminder of the wonder of Christmas in the shadow of the cross, then hopefully this story will refresh you and make this season all the sweeter.

Bio:DSC_0524
Susan M. Baganz is living her own happily-ever-after with her husband Benjamin. She chases after two Hobbits, and is a native of Wisconsin. Susan writes adventurous historical and contemporary romances with a biblical world-view.

Susan speaks, teaches, and encourages others to follow God in being all He has created them to be. With her seminary degree in counseling psychology, a background in the field of mental health, and years serving in church ministry, she understands the complexities and pain of life as well as its craziness. Her favorite pastimes are lazy…spending time with her husband, snuggling with her dog while reading a good book, or sitting with a friend chatting over a cup of spiced chai latte.

You can learn more by following her blog http://www.susanbaganz.com, her Twitter feed @susanbaganz or her fan page, http://www.facebook.com/susanmbaganz.

A Baker’s Dozen (minus one) questions for Danele

Providence: Hannah's Journey by Barbara M. Britton

I swear, I would know my friend Danele Rotharmel if she were in crowd of a thousand people and I was standing a thousand feet away. And we’ve never even met! But Danele is the kind of person whose personality and warmth and faith transcend cyberspace. She is one of my heroes, and one of my favorite authors.  Please read the interview and tell me if you don’t want her for your own best friend too!danele-rotharmel

I can best introduce Danele (that’s her on the right—the cute one with the big smile)  by having her share her story. It is  fascinating, frightening, and ultimately God-glorifying, and it never gets old!

Hello, Anita! It’s such an honor to be featured on your website! Thank you for having me—I really love talking with you! And for those of you who don’t know me, let me introduce myself. My name is Danele, and I’m the author of The Time Counselor Chronicles. The third book in my series, Time Search, was just released by Prism Book Group in January 2017. My books are Christian romantic suspense with a time-travel twist, and I wrote them during a seven-year period of time when I was in quarantine.

What could lead to a SEVEN YEAR QUARANTINE,  you ask? Read on.

My illness was very difficult, but looking back, I can see that God was with me every step of the way. Several years ago, I started feeling ill and my doctors couldn’t figure out why.  My illness progressed until I couldn’t talk without stuttering or walk without staggering. I also experienced partial amnesia and troubles with my short-term memory. Eventually, I had to quit my job and stop driving. Finally, it was discovered that I was suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning from a faulty furnace in my home.  The leak was a tiny one, and the gas had been slowly poisoning me over a long period of time. (Let me interrupt to say that it is VITALLY important for every house to have a carbon monoxide monitor with a digital readout that monitors low levels of the gas). You can’t see or smell carbon monoxide, and it’s estimated that if the leak hadn’t been discovered I wouldn’t have survived much longer.

I thought that once the furnace was replaced, my health would improve, but the gas had triggered severe multiple chemical sensitivity. In a nutshell, that meant that anytime I was exposed to perfume, cleansers, car exhaust, or any of the other chemicals that surround our daily lives, I would become extremely ill. My health continued to worsen, and eventually, I was put into quarantine in my home.  My house was a “chemical-free” zone, and for seven years I could only talk to friends and extended family through the glass of a window.

As time passed, the quarantine worked, and after the first couple of years most of my memories were restored, and each proceeding year brought me closer to renewed health.  Quarantine was a very lonely time for me, and during it, I wrote my books.  My characters were a window to the outside world, and they gave me something to focus on other than my health. Although my illness was very difficult, and although I still struggle with some health issues, what happened drew me closer to the Lord, and it allowed me to write my books. For that I am grateful.

Curious if Danele likes science fiction books and movies?  Me too!

I grew up with a love of science fiction and mystery stories. If I wasn’t reading Nancy Drew, I was perusing the pages of The Hobbit. I also really enjoyed Star Trek and Star Wars. When I was little, I can still remember the GLORIOUS day when Star Wars was shown on television for the first time. My older sister was babysitting me, and we watched the movie together. I was fascinated as the story unfolded. I can remember holding my breath when the characters dived into the trash compacter. Just as something moved through the water by Luke’s legs, my sister announced that it was my bedtime. (!!!!!) I spent the rest of the night, tucked up in my bed, trying to envision what had been beneath the murky water. As the years passed, my love of science fiction continued to grow—the only thing I didn’t enjoy was the fact that many science fiction stories have dirty scenes. It became my dream to write a time-travel series that would be suspenseful, fun, and most of all—Christian and clean.

Here’s the deal with Danele’s books: there isn’t anything in them that is bizarre or twisted. (Well. The villains are pretty twisted.) Everything is very recognizable as 21st century life in America with the exception of the crazy and complex world the Time Counselors operate in. Danele answers how she came up with “sci-fi realism.”

In a way, I’m a strange mixture. I’m a science-fiction buff who majored in English. Throughout my college career, I analyzed major works of literature, taking them apart to see what made them tick. English literature, early-American literature, medieval literature, poetry, African American literature, Asian literature—I perused them all. By the time I graduated, I had scrutinized hundreds of books, short stories, and poems. I also read TONS of books simply for pleasure. Besides literature, I also enjoyed a wide variety of musical styles and a diverse selection of television shows and movies. I didn’t just like one genre—I liked them all. In fact, I’m just as happy watching John Wayne gallop across the prairie as I am watching Grace Kelly dance in The Swan. I like sit-coms, detective shows, and sci-fi dramas. I’m a story junkie!

With my enjoyment of so many genres, by the time I started writing my novels, I had tons of ideas for settings and characters rolling around in my noggin. I suppose I decided to “keep it real” because ultimately those are the stories I enjoy the most. I like to see familiar settings and feel as if the action of the book could happen to me. In The Time Counselor Chronicles, everything is normal except for one thing—what my characters do for a living. I think that keeping everything “real” makes the one “unreal” element in my novels feel plausibly possible.

Since I first heard Danele’s story I’ve wondered if she wished she could go back in time and change the really frightening events that almost took her life. Her answer is as honest and heartfelt as she is.

I suppose that depends on how mature I’m feeling on any given day. My life took an unexpected turn during my illness. While my friends were getting married, having children, climbing the corporate ladder, and taking marvelous vacations, I was stuck in quarantine trying to survive. On days when I’m feeling immature, I can be very upset about the experiences I have missed. On those days, I would do anything to press the “rewind” button and buy a simple carbon monoxide monitor—a monitor would’ve saved me so much heartache and pain.

However, on days when I’m feeling more “mature,” I can look at what happened and smile—knowing that God is in charge and that He has a beautiful plan for my life. After all, if I hadn’t been ill, I never would’ve written my books or started my blog. And I never would’ve joined a community of wonderful authors and formed some of the lovely friendships that I cherish—like yours. Although my illness took things from me, it also gave me blessings as well. If I hadn’t experienced quarantine, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Pain and trials have a refining effect, and I know that I’m more patient, kind, and forgiving than I was before. I’m also a bit more philosophical. After all, I’m living on “bonus” time. I should have died years ago—knowing that makes each day a true gift.

Speaking of going back…I asked Danele to put herself in a Time Counselor’s shoes. She can choose to go back and counsel any real, historical figure, from any era. She explains who she would choose and what her strategy would be to try and guide them from a path leading to disaster.

I have a huge list of historical figures that I’d love to counsel; however, if I had a time portal, my first stop would be my freshman year of college. That year, I had a friend that I’ll call Anna. Anna wasn’t living for the Lord, and I knew I should talk to her about Jesus. But every time I’d try to tell her about God, the words would stick in my throat. I was afraid Anna would think I was “sanctimonious.” I was afraid she would stop talking to me. I knew I was being a coward, and I knew that by refusing to speak I was disobeying God’s direct command, but I still didn’t do it. On the final day of the semester, once again, I felt an overwhelming urge to tell Anna about Jesus, but I didn’t. I reasoned that I would see her the following semester and that a little delay wouldn’t really matter. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Anna died in a car accident just a few weeks later.

If I could travel back through time, I would tell Anna that Jesus is real and that He loved her. I would make sure that she had a chance to give her heart to Christ. And if I could counsel my college-aged self, I would point out that the temporary discomfort of witnessing to a friend is NOTHING in comparison to a lifetime of wondering if that friend was ready to meet the Lord when they died. And it is LESS than NOTHING in comparison to the gnawing regret of knowing that you did nothing while your friend’s eternal soul was hanging in the balance. My lack of courage when it came to Anna is one of my biggest regrets. If I could use TEMCO’s technology, correcting that horrible mistake would be my first stop.

timesearch Crystal Stuart is one of the primary characters in “Time Search.” That is her, on the cover. Drop dead gorgeous, right? But she usually hides all that beauty under frumpy clothes and scraped back hair. And she tends to be accident-prone. I found her funny and appealing, but never pitiful. She has so much dignity! Danele explains more about her.

I’m so glad that you like Crystal Stuart! I really love her too! Here’s a bit of trivia for you—originally, Crystal didn’t make an appearance in my series until the last few chapters of book 2, Time Trap. And her love interest, Marc Kerry, didn’t show up until book 3, Time Search. But by the time I’d written the 6th book in my series, I loved Crystal and Marc so much that I wrote them into my first two books, Time Tsunami and Time Trap.

Crystal is incredibly smart, but she’s also socially awkward and klutzy. She’s always getting herself into awkward situations. In book 3, Time Search, she falls and gets her long hair trapped beneath a closing door (something that actually happened to me in real life). Crystal is a mathematical genius who can translate the dictionary into Latin, but she has trouble communicating with cute guys. The thing that I love the most about Crystal is her tender heart. She truly cares about others, and she loves the Lord. She’s also incredibly brave—even when she’s scared to death. Crystal is an odd mixture—very smart about some things and very obtuse about others. I think the reason that most people like her is because of her vulnerability and bravery. I think that we all want to help others, and I think that we all hope that when it matters the most, we will rise above our fears and take a stand against evil. Crystal represents that fact that everyone can overcome personal weaknesses and make a difference in this world.

Authors get used to being asked if they write themselves  into any characters. So of course I put Danele on the spot and asked the same thing of her. I am nothing if not unoriginal.

I think that I put some of myself into all of my characters. And I suppose that’s natural—after all, they were birthed in my brain. When I read other people’s books, I love finding characters with believable weaknesses and strengths—characters that I would like to have as friends. That’s been my ultimate goal with my characters. I want to create people that aren’t totally good or completely bad—I want them to be a loveable, human mixture of flawed likability.

And then there is her villain. He is a doozy. I had to ask how this kind, sweet Christian lady geared herself  up to write about such unadulterated evil?

When I first started writing, Drake was a symbol of the illness I was fighting. He was a horrible, relentless foe that didn’t show mercy or regret. As I continued writing the books in my series, I began analyzing Drake and thinking about his past. Eventually, he became more than just a creepy villain to me. Although Drake is a horrible character, by the time the reader reaches the 8th book in my series, they will understand—like me—what makes him tick.

Speaking of unadulterated evil, you should probably know the Time Counselor Chronicles include spine-chilling scenes of violence. Danele makes no attempts to “prettify”evil. She explains what led her to include fairly graphic scenes. (although they are never gratuitous. Really!)

I used to be a “butterflies and sunshine” person. In many ways, I still am. But when I became so desperately ill, life became very real for me. Life is beautiful, wonderful, and lovely—but life can also be scary, confusing, and hard. During my illness, I learned that there are two sides to every coin—and I try to portray those two sides in my novels. I don’t shy away from tender emotions like love and friendship. And I embrace laughter and happiness. But I also show the scary side of life as well. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. Sometimes, God allows us to face horrible things. But ultimately, God is with us in the darkness. God helps us through every storm. And in the end, God transforms the bad things into something good—that’s the promise of Romans 8:28, and that’s the promise my characters ultimately embrace.

“Time Search” is action-packed, with some sweet romance mixed through. But it left us with unanswered questions and the bad guy still on the loose! I had to know about the next book or books in the series, and when they will be released.

When it is finished, The Time Counselor Chronicles will be eight books long. The first three books—Time Tsunami, Time Trap, and Time Search—have already been published by Prism Book Group. The next three books—Time Awakening, Time Inferno, and Time Nightmare—are already written. I wrote them while I was in quarantine, and they just need a little polishing to prepare them for publication. The final two books in the series—Time Flashback and Time Resolution—are outlined. Currently, I’m brushing up the 4th book in the series, Time Awakening. Time Awakening was scheduled for a publication date of June 2017, but as many of you know, Prism Book Group has just been acquired by Pelican Book Group. Because of the change with my publisher, I am currently uncertain of Time Awakenings’ release date.

Authors don’t write in a vacuum, or merely for their own gratification. If that was the case we’d never bother with the often difficult process of getting published. I wondered how Danele hopes  her books will impact her readers.

I became a Christian when I was a little girl, but my illness made me question everything I knew about God. During quarantine, I would think about questions of faith and decide what I believed in light of my isolation and suffering. Eventually, I came to the following conclusions: God is real, God is good, God is intimately concerned with every moment of my life, Jesus must be kept in the center of my faith, and God is trustworthy in spite of tragedy. My ultimate goal with writing is to portray the lessons I learned during quarantine. Because of what I’ve been through, I’ve learned the truth of Romans 8:28. I’ve learned that God makes all things (even the bad things) eventually work together for our good.

Finally, I asked if Danele planned to continue writing in this super-cool genre, or if she wants to try her hand at something different.

After I complete the eight books in The Time Counselor Chronicles, I’m considering writing a spinoff series dealing with the grown children of my current characters. In The Time Counselor Chronicles, I’ve already alluded to spinoff characters like Jay, Deleena, Lorelei, Alexis, and Cavan. We see glimpses of them during time portal activity, and we hear stories about them from Poppa and Twinkles. I’m already working scenes into my novels so that my current series will naturally flow into my next series.

As far as writing in another genre, I’ve had editors from several publishing houses say that they would be interested in my autobiography. Eventually, I will write about my brush with death and my years in quarantine, but in some ways, the pain is still too fresh. I think I need a little distance before putting things down on paper. I would also like to write a devotional based on my blog articles.

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I think Danele is terrific. Bet that you do too, now that you met her. I recommend her “Time Counselor Chronicles.” They have been responsible for more than one missed night of sleep!  Below are some links to know more about Danele and where to get her books.

 

Social Media Links:

Danele’s Blog: https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/
Danele’s Testimony: https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/welcome/
Danele’s Books: https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/my-books/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14782632.Danele_J_Rotharmel
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/danele.rotharmel
ACFW Fiction Finder: http://www.fictionfinder.com/author/detail/1331

Time Search’s Purchasing Links:

Amazon Kindle e-Book and paperback: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01MY7RGFJ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1484259046&sr=8-1&keywords=danele+rotharmel+time+search

Barnes & Noble Nook e-Book: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/time-search-danele-j-rotharmel/1125625151?ean=2940157382506

Time Search’s 20-Stop Blog Tour (is this not the coolest e-poster ever?)

blog-tour-ad

https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/2017/01/12/time-search-book-launch-20-stop-blog-tour/

Time SearchThe Time Counselor Chronicles #3—Back Cover Blurb:

A nameless evil lurks in the shadows…

In the wake of a recent wave of violence, TEMCO employees are left reeling. While some of the staff are put into hiding, others are left behind to discover the true identity of the mysterious nemesis who is determined to destroy them all. While Crystal, Marc, and Zeke search for clues to unravel the mystery of his real name, their enemy is lurking in the shadows searching for TEMCO’s missing leaders. It’s a race against the clock! And as the hours and seconds tick away, it’s anyone’s guess whose search will be completed first. It’s a classic battle of good versus evil, and the stakes couldn’t be higher!

Danele Rotharmel’s Author Bio

Danele Rotharmel’s life took an unexpected turn when a mysterious illness brought her close to death. Eventually, she learned that a carbon monoxide leak from a faulty furnace was poisoning her. This poisoning triggered Multiple Chemical Sensitivity, causing her to be put in quarantine. For seven years, she could only talk to friends and extended family through a windowpane. During this time, she wrote the first six books in The Time Counselor Chronicles. Although her journey back to health was difficult, it provided her the opportunity to grow closer to God and write her books. For that, she’s forever thankful. To learn more about Danele, visit her blog: https://dragonflydanele.wordpress.com/

A Texas Belle on her toes

Texans are fascinating folks (and they would probably agree). Since I don’t know many Lone Star State folks, and have only been there twice, I asked author Gay Lewis, a Texas lover if there ever was one, to  tell us more about best places to visit, the people, the FOOD and if there could possibly be any imperfections in her favorite state.

If you aren’t familiar with Gay, she has written several fantasy novels about a klutzy angel who fulfills her duties as matchmaker with greater enthusiasm than skill. (Read more about Gay and Sarah in the bio at the end of the interview.) Recently Gay successfully tried her hand at a more serious topic—the destructive power of words—in the novella ‘Clue Into Kindness,’ the second book in the ‘Love Is’ series by Prism Book Group.

Clue into Kindness once more

Gay is going to whet your appetite for Texas. Let’s make her really nervous and tell her we’ll all drop in on her next week. Naw, that wouldn’t scare a true Texan like Gay. Would it?

Gay

What is your favorite book? (After the Bible 🙂

Hmm? I have many (some I’ve written myself) Giggle, giggle. Besides my Sarah books, I confess to reading often Love Comes Softly by Jeanette Oke. It’s a quick read and it lifts my spirits. I’ve seen the Hallmark movie many times too. Note: ‘Clue Into Kindness’ is available as an ebook, AND in print, bundled with two other novellas in a book titled ‘Love Is Anthology No. 1.’

Who is your favorite author?

Poopty doopty! How can I answer that one? I have several. All Prism Book Group authors present wonderful books, and I constantly have one of their books on my iPad. I also enjoy Janet Evanovich for humor and Dean Koontz for fantasy and suspense.

Where is the most beautiful spot in Texas in the spring?

Oh my! There you go again with another thinker. I love the Texas Hill Country for the rolling hills and multitudes of Bluebonnets. Washington County, north of Brenham, TX has beautiful scenic vistas too.
I show up on your doorstep, hoping for a Texas-style meal. What is on the menu?

Hahahah. I’m laughing hard on this one. The first thing we’d do after I gave you a giant, Texas hug would be to get into the car and drive to the nearest restaurant. My cooking would not give you a true taste of a Texas meal. Chef Gay is not one of my titles. I wish you could have eaten at my mom’s table. She prepared the best chicken fried steak, gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans and banana pudding—bar none. Chicken and Dumplings with homemade fried pies were my favorite dishes at her table. But back to me….I’d take you to the nearest Tex-Mex food hang-out for a sizzling plate of cheese enchiladas.
You get to crown ‘Best Famous Texan (Dead or Alive)’ Who do you choose and why?

Sam Houston. That guy was amazing. He was born in Virginia, but arrived in Texas in time to help Texas gain independence from Mexico. Can you imagine the time it took to travel this enormous state of Texas on horseback? He held several political offices: President of the Republic of Texas, and later as Governor and Senator. He was tall, handsome, and a favorite of the ladies.

What do you love most about Texas?
I enjoy the people. Most of us are friendly and helpful. If I meet someone who isn’t, I know they weren’t born and bred in Texas, but if they stay here long enough, we rub off on ‘em.

Least? I hate the Texas heat. Winters in Houston are mild and lovely, but the summers? Yuk. If I had money in my pocket, I’d spend four months of the year in Colorado. When April arrives, I get sad. Heat comes with it. October brings a happier time for me. I know the worst is over.

Let’s assume I am a first-time visitor to Texas. I only have time to visit three places, and want to try at least one ‘off the beaten track’ spot. 
Which three will you bring me to?

Merciful heavens! That’s a tough one. Let’s see. Okay, here’s what I’d do.
I’d take you on a tour of the Painted Churches. Most of these churches were established by Germans immigrants. They modeled small churches after the one they left behind in the mother country. They didn’t have marble, gold or silver to use, so they painted the interiors to resemble finer materials and elements. Many have stained glass and art work.
After the church tour, I’d take you to San Antonio for a quick look at the Alamo and then we’d explore the River Walk by boat.
You want an out of the way place? I’ve got one for you. I’d take you to our little cabin in the Lost Pine area of Texas. Here you find the “boonies.” We have a rustic place in the middle of a forest. If you want to see people, you must drive twelve miles. Come on down! I’d love to have you visit.

Where would you tell me to avoid because it doesn’t live up to the tourist hype?
The Houston Galleria. Most tourists go there, but it is merely a glorified mall with over-priced shops.

What word or words are distinctly Texan?
Fixin.’ We’re always fixin’ to do something. “Hey, ya’ll, I’m fixin’ to fix supper.” Fixin’ means we are thinking about it or preparing to do it.

Describe the characteristics that make true Texans so unique.

Thanks for thinking we are unique. I think we are rather ordinary, but we are friendly, and we love to make you feel welcome. We probably brag too much, and we’re known for Stetson hats, cowboy boots, and pretty ladies. Most women down here wear a lot of makeup, me included—and I wouldn’t let you see me without it. I’ve been in Canada several times and strangers guess me to be from Texas, and that’s even before they hear me talk! I suppose our accent is another one of our characteristics.

You’ve been on a book tour around the world for four months. You hear a certain song and immediately it makes you homesick for Texas. What is that song?
“The Eyes of Texas.” This one would bring a tear, but if I heard the “Yellow Rose of Texas,” or “Deep in the Heart of Texas,” I’d, smile, sing along and tap my toes.

What is the second best state after Texas?
Colorado.
Finally, if you’d like, tell us why you love Texas and convince the readers that they will too

Stars above in the Galaxies! Now that question requires some thought. As much as I hate heat, I’m thankful we don’t shovel snow in Houston. Texans do in northern parts of the state, but not as often or as much as people north of our great state. Do you like diversity? You’ll find it in Texas. From the Cowboy to the businessman. Our economy is booming right now in spite of low oil prices. Our cities are cosmopolitan. In the county where I live, over eighty languages are spoken in the home. In our little church, we have English, Spanish, and Chinese speakers. I don’t need to travel far to experience other cultures. I can listen to them and enjoy native food in a multitude of international restaurants.
Texas has a bounty of natural beauty—from the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend, the plains of west Texas. You’ll find the Hill Country inspirational, serene lakes, rivers, and don’t forget the architectural glamour of large cities. Whatever you need, you’ll find it here. I once told my dad that I was thankful God placed him in America and then he had the good sense to see that I was born in Texas.

Thank you for an interesting bunch of questions. (Another Texas word—bunch—we do a bunch of things down here.) I’ve enjoyed thinking about them, and you’ve made me giggle a time or two.

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See why I like this woman? Truly, some day I’d love to meet Gay. She is delightful and gracious, and a true lady. Want to know more about her? I thought so. Read on!

Gay N. Lewis
A native Texan, Gay lives in Fulshear—a small town west of Houston. Gay has always been involved with creative and artistic ventures. Two videos she produced—The Canadian Rockies, English and Japanese translations, and Psalms from the Mountains, were sold in Canada, America, Great Britain, as well as all international markets. Both were well received. For the San Felipe Baptist Association, she was a contributor for the video Many Churches, One Vision.
Graphic skills kept her busy as a portrait photographer, and for over ten years, she used her imaginative insight in the interior design field.
Gay’s real love is writing and reading—both go nicely together. As a pastor’s wife, she has written, produced, and photographed many programs, and her Faith Features have been published in various church periodicals. Her current series is about a dyslexic angel who comes to earth to help the humans, but she is more like Lucy Ricardo with humorous antics and bumbles. To date, there are ten books in the series. The books are available in print, eBook, and audio. She’s under contract for three more Sarah books to go with the ten. The latest addition to hit the market on June 12, 2015
Teaching an adult Bible study every Sunday morning is Gay’s joy, and she is often called upon for speaking engagements. When needed, she plays the piano and serves as worship leader in her husband’s church in Rosenberg.
Gay’s family reside in Texas—three daughters and four grandchildren.
Take a glance at the covers and read the blurbs on Prism Book Group.
http://prismbookgroup.com/angels
For more information, please go to http ://gaynlewis.com/
Read excerpts on www.prismbookgroup.com
Gay would love to have you see her video trailers and become a follower of her blog.
http://www.gaynlewis.blogspot.com
https://www.amazon.com/author/gaynlewis
www.facebook.com/GayNLewis and also on Twitter @GayNLewis2.
Sarah has her own Facebook page. Follow Sarah on Facebook@ Sarah Wingspand