Author * Speaker * Editor

Excellent storytelling, accurate historical reporting, and gritty, persevering characters

July 18, 2017

The Story behind His Guilt by Shelley Shepard Gray

I’m please to welcome Shelley Shepard Gray. It’s great to have her along. Her most recent release is His Guilt. Here’s a little more about the book:

Will a man wrongly accused of assault be convinced to return and stay in the Amish community he left? Find out in His Guilt, the next book in Shelley Shepard Gray’s The Amish of Hart County series. Neeta is one of the few people in Hart County who doesn’t believe Mark is guilty of hurting anyone. Just when Mark starts to believe a new life is possible, a close friend of Neeta’s is attacked. Once again, everyone in the community seems to believe he is guilty. Will Mark be able to find the attacker before Neeta becomes his next victim?

Shelley, can you tell us a little more about the story behind this story?

As much as I try to write a detailed outline and synopsis before I begin each book, I never get very far. Instead, I have a rather convoluted writing process. It works for me, but it is messy-and I imagine for most people-rather exasperating. For some books, like HER SECRET, the first novel in the Amish of Hart County, my writing process goes fairly quickly.  I finish the book with time to spare and feel more or less pleased with the novel the whole time I’m writing it.

This didn’t happen with HIS GUILT.

My first drafts are usually made up with a whole lot of short chapters. I write ten pages a day and clip along at a good pace. Then, during the second and third drafts, I add details and check for discrepancies. While writing this novel, I kept moving the scenes around. And adding characters. And then cutting them…and then putting them back in the book. For a while, I didn’t think it was ever going to get done!

Maybe it’s because I knew that the characters I was choosing to write about were complex, had complicated back stories and didn’t always make the best decisions because of that…especially the hero of the novel, Mark Fisher.

The reader discovers during the first couple of pages that Mark has a past, and that they’re a lot of rumors spinning around about him, too. This makes him wary and gruff and untrusting. Excellent qualities for a character! Difficult qualities for the hero of a novel! <g> I found myself getting frustrated with him more often than not.

However, like Waneta Cain, the heroine in the novel, I didn’t give up on Mark. I enjoyed how Waneta’s teasing and needling softened Mark’s shell, and eventually allowed all the other characters to witness both his outstanding character but also his faith.

I love having multiple storylines in novels, and while I did struggle with Mark and Waneta’s romance a bit, I thoroughly enjoyed writing about Lora and Eddie’s relationship. Lora Weaver’s character echoes Mark’s in many ways. She’s still struggling for acceptance and to find her place in the community. I loved that she finds her own happily ever after with a very surprising man.

When I at last finished the novel just days before it was due to be turned into my editor, I realized why I have adopted the writing process that I have.  It allows me to go on the journey with my characters. They surprise me, intrigue me and yes, sometimes even frustrate me.  But I end up loving them in spite of their imperfections.

I hope you will feel the same way about HIS GUILT. It’s filled with a lot of characters who are hoping for a better future, and just happen to be surrounded by someone who is causing a lot of danger and havoc in Horse Cave, KY.

Shelley Shepard Gray is a “New York Times” and “USA Today” bestselling author, a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers prestigious Carol Award, and a two-time HOLT Medallion winner. She lives in southern Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.

Find out more about Shelley at

July 11, 2017

The Story behind Driver Confessional by David Winters

If you are looking for a fun summer read, this has to be it! David Winters joins us today and shares how his new release, Driver Confessional, came to be. First, a little bit about the book.

Ride share driver Antonio cruises the streets of Washington, D.C. looking for his next fare.

He has an unusual gift for relaxing his customers and stimulating their desire to reveal more than they planned. By the completion of their ride, many feel so comfortable that they confess their sins great and small. Antonio’s faith guides his discussions and points him in new directions. Suddenly, his peaceful world is turned upside down by a mysterious business woman. As she heads to a midnight rendezvous, she confesses more than Antonio can handle. Her story sends him into a world of espionage, international terrorism and danger.

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So, share with our readers what drove you to write Driver Confessional (pun intended).

On the last day of December, 2016, my life as a Government manager ended and my journey as a writer began. With my first book already in the can and waiting for the right editor, it was time for a diversion. Not being able to imagine sitting around all day, I accepted a friend’s challenge to drive 50 Uber rides so he could get a $350 bonus. After learning that Uber was a ride-share app that worked through phones of drivers and passengers, the challenge was accepted.

Little did I know what I was getting into. That first night was New Year’s Eve. Washington, D.C. was hopping and surge pricing was in effect. After the first few rides, I was hooked. This part-time job came with a crazy amount of fun and the cure for retirement blahs.

It is hard to explain, even for a writer, the crazy things ordinary people do and say in the backseat of another person’s car. My experience included giving rides to the White House and to a crack house. (The app doesn’t tell you where you are going until after the rider is in the car.) Many of the insanely fun memories are woven into the book Driver Confessional.

One older couple made me wince, chuckle and yell all in the same ride. Originally hailing from “The Islands,” they bantered back and forth about the husband’s clandestine purchase of donuts while the wife had been shopping for their groceries. Her concern drove her to incredible lengths to get him to abandon the sugary treats and stay on his diabetic health diet. After a bitter argument and the husband taking an exaggerated bite out of a jelly donut, the missus shoved the rest of the donut into his face. The story has a happy ending and I knew the story needed to be told with several other of my Ubering stories in Driver Confessional.

As a fiction writer, the idea of a ride-share driver getting mixed up in a murder mystery held much allure. By mixing in some highlights from my five-month Uber driving career and some technical expertise from my 35 years in defense and homeland security science administration, the result is a murder mystery with international terrorists, a likable ride-share driver and a conclusion played out among Washington’s iconic monuments. Hopefully, this will be an enjoyable ride for all.

David L Winters is an award-winning author, humorist and speaker, originally from Ohio, who lives in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. His first book, “Sabbatical of the Mind: The Journey from Anxiety to Peace,” won several awards including a Silver Illumination Award from the Jenkins Group and two Finalist Medals from the Next Generation Indies Book Awards.

Find out more about David at

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Thanks so much for joining us, David! We look forward to reading it.

July 4, 2017

The Story behind The Captain’s Daughter by Jennifer Delamere

Please join me in welcoming Jennifer Delamere to the blog this week. She has a new release, The Captain’s Daughter, and a great story about how it came to be. First, here’s a peek at what the book is about.

London, 1879

Forced to Leave All She Loves Behind, She Seeks a New Life in a City Bursting with Opportunity, But Fraught with Danger

When a series of circumstances beyond her control leaves Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater putting on the most popular show in the city. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage. That is, as long as the shadows from her past don’t catch up with her.

After a hand injury forces Nate Moran from his army regiment in India, he returns home to London, a place that holds bitter memories. He agrees to fill in temporarily as a stagehand while his brother recuperates from a broken leg, but Nate is counting down the days until he can rejoin his regiment. His future is decided–until he meets a beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate yearns to leave behind.

Sounds great, Jennifer. What inspired you to write it?

Many scenes in The Captain’s Daughter take place backstage during the original production of HMS Pinafore by W.S. Gilbert and Arthur Sullivan. Pinafore was their fourth collaboration, and they would go on to write ten more. This comic opera was wildly popular, and it is still enjoyed and performed today.

Most of the events referred to in relation to the show are based on actual history. There are a few “cameo” roles by real people, such as Gilbert and Sullivan, Helen Lenoir (assistant, and later wife, to Richard D’Oyly Carte, the show’s impresario and theater manager), and several of the actors who played starring roles. Jessie Bond, who performed the mezzo-soprano roles for many Gilbert and Sullivan operas, befriends Rosalyn, the heroine of The Captain’s Daughter. The title of the book is a reference to a line in Pinafore, as well as to Rosalyn’s own background.

The time frame of the story includes not only HMS Pinafore, but also preparations for the new show that was to come after it: The Pirates of Penzance. Gilbert and Sullivan had been frustrated because the popularity of Pinafore spurred many unauthorized productions in the United States. Not only did this deprive Gilbert and Sullivan of their rightful royalties, but the shows were often substandard as well. When it came time to produce The Pirates of Penzance, they enacted a plan to secure copyright on both sides of the Atlantic. A single performance was given in the seaside town of Paignton in Devon, England, the day before the grand premiere in New York. The official English premiere would not take place until four months later in London, but the performance in Paignton met the legal requirements for copyright protection. Or, as one of the characters in the book quips, the purpose of the Paignton show was to “protect Pirates from the pirates”!

The show in Paignton was bare bones, with almost no rehearsal time and minimal costumes or scenery. In fact, the performers held their sheet music during the show! It was a travel adventure, too, as getting to Paignton from London would have taken a good part of the day by train. The Paignton performance provided a fun and intriguing backdrop for several important scenes in The Captain’s Daughter. I hope the reader enjoys this foray into the world of the Victorian theater!

Jennifer Delamere writes tales of the past…and new beginnings. Her novels set in Victorian England have won numerous accolades, including a starred review from Publishers Weekly and nomination for the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA® award. Jennifer earned a B.A. in English from McGill University in Montreal, Canada, and has been an editor of nonfiction and educational materials for nearly two decades. She loves reading classics and histories, which she mines for the vivid details to bring to life the people and places in her books. A longtime resident of North Carolina, Jennifer can often be found hiking the mountains with her husband or planning their next travel adventure.

Jennifer is giving away a copy of the book. Follow the directions below to enter.
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Thanks for joining us, Jennifer!

June 27, 2017

The Story behind The Fisherman’s Nymph by Jamie Jo Wright

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing my fellow Wisconsin author Jamie Wright for a number of years now. We don’t live next door to each other, but we try to get together for lunch as often as possible. She is the sweetest lady and loads of fun. Today, she joins us to share the story behind her novella, The Fisherman’s Nymph in the Of Rags and Riches novella collection.

Here’s a little bit about the book:

Journey along in nine historical romances with those who lives are transformed by the opulence, growth, and great changes taking place in America’s Gilded Age. Nine couples meet during these exhilarating times and work to build a future together through fighting for social reform, celebrating new opportunities for leisure activities, taking advantage of economic growth and new inventions, and more. Watch as these romances develop and legacies of faith and love are formed.

The Fisherman’s Nymph by Jaime Jo Wright – Flambeau River, Wisconsin, 1890
The reclusive daughter of a fly-fisherman guide must read the waters for a wealthy gentleman’s sport and send him back where he belongs before he hooks her heart and takes her away from the river she was born to love.

What inspired you to write this book, Jamie?

In my novella, The Fisherman’s Nymph, there was so much of my personal experience put into the story. First and foremost, it’s the first time I wrote a story based on an actual setting, the Flambeau River in northern Wisconsin. It’s a river I grew up canoeing, camping near, and now we take out kids there every summer.

But I also drew on hours upon hours of fly fishing with my husband. When we were first married, we would go to Montana and fly fish the rivers, hike back into streams in Wisconsin and Illinois, traverse creeks in Colorado, and even try our hand out in Wyoming. We also vacationed in Oregon where we stayed with the owner of a fly rod company and learned firsthand how to master craft bamboo fly rods. I know fishing doesn’t necessarily resonate with a lot of women, but the art behind this craft and this hobby is far beyond hooking a worm and throwing a line into a like. It takes finesse, strategy, attention to detail, and great care.

As a side note, I will admit that many of those hours on the rivers and streams were spent reading. Yes. Reading. As my husband would fish and wade, I would wade behind them, book in hand. I was wearing waterproof waders, so often I’d plop my backside right down in the river or stream and perch on a rock. I carried my book in a Ziplock freezer bag and hooked it inside my waders. So those ten hours on the water to fly fish, turned into about three hours of fishing for me!

I really love the woods, the water, the nature that envelopes me as I hike. We love introducing our kids to that experience too. It was a natural segue into this novella, and a place I loved to settle my characters into. Fly fishing expeditions, cabins in the woods, and the early days of tying flies.

Professional coffee drinker & ECPA/Publisher’s Weekly best-selling author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited romantic suspense stained with the shadows of history. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy Tinkerbell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.
Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures

Web site:



Thanks so much for joining us, Jamie! What a great peek behind the scenes. I used to go fishing with my husband, also with book in hand, and my daughter does the same thing.

Jamie is giving away a copy of the book. Follow the directions below to enter.

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It’s been great to have you, Jamie! 

June 6, 2017

The Story behind The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race by Mike Mizrahi

What a fun and interesting title for a book, especially since my family and I were just in Chattanooga and will be back there frequently in the coming years as my daughter is going to school there. Please welcome Mike Mizrahi to the blog this week. Here’s a little bit about the release, The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race.

Anna Gaines, an introverted nineteen-year-old, discovers she’s a natural on the “wheel” after a visit with her aunt in Brooklyn. Upon returning home to Chattanooga, she insists on the same rights that have been given to men to cycle in public. She becomes the first woman to ride the streets of Chattanooga, clad in the risqué costume that many New York women are wearing in 1895-bloomers.

A firestorm ignites, pitting a few progressive thinkers against a city full of moralists intent on clinging to their post-Antebellum way of life. Anna, beset by insecurities born from a horseback riding accident as a pre-adolescent that leaves her with a pronounced limp, dangles in the middle of an explosive controversy she never envisioned. And she is pitted against Peter Sawyer, the Cycle Club President who silently harbors a crush for her, in a five-mile bicycle race that will decide if women have the same capabilities as men to ride.

Mike, what inspired you to write the book?

Anna Gaines, the heroine of The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race, discovers a new role model while visiting her Aunt Harriet in Brooklyn. She reads about Annie “Londonderry” Kopchovski, a 24-year-old mother of three who is riding around the world on a 42-pound Columbia women’s bike. Everywhere Anna looks in New York, women are cycling… a sport simply verboten for women in 1895 Southern society. She takes up the sport, and soon is riding the streets of Chattanooga, turning the rules of proper behavior for a lady upside down.

Long forgotten, Annie’s real-life story, which I happened upon by accident while surfing the net, inspired me to write Anna’s. Both characters are courageous, willing to stretch for different reasons to prove that women are as capable as men, and should have the same rights as men. Both get caught up in the craze of women who were using the bicycle to express new freedoms, like wearing bloomers while riding. But Annie, having never ridden before, takes to “the wheel” on a wager between two wealthy Bostonians about whether the fairer sex could match a similar feat performed by a man in 1887. Ride a bicycle around the world in fifteen months!

Annie Londonderry succeeds, and along the way becomes a self-promoter, a skill that serves her well financially until her death in 1947. Anna Gaines, however, is just the opposite when it comes to her self-image. She lacks confidence, especially with men, after a devastating injury at age thirteen leaves her with a pronounced limp. She becomes an introvert. As a young woman seeking to come of age in a changing world, the bicycle becomes a way to break free, physically and emotionally, from the chains that bind her. But it appears the entire community opposes her decision to ride. Anna must decide whether to stand up for what’s right, when it comes to cycling, and then work toward her dream of becoming a teacher.

Along the way, she struggles with shifting priorities. Fame does not motivate her, like it does Annie Londonderry, although she receives her share. She discovers who she really is, and does not worship any thing, like a bicycle… or adulation. She knows to whom she belongs.

Mike Mizrahi has a master’s degree in public relations, advertising and applied communication from Boston University. After a career in corporate public affairs, he retired to pursue a deep passion: writing.

Mizrahi and his wife, Karen, led a mission trip to the Democratic Republic of Congo four years ago and were so moved by the experience, Mizrahi wrote his first novel, which he hopes will one day be published. The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race is his debut published work.

Mizrahi loves reading and writing stories about “sozo,” which means to be rescued in Greek. He and Karen are very active in their church and community and love to hike, travel and go the movies together. The Mizrahis live in Woodland Hills, California, where they raised their children who are now adults.

Learn more about The Great Chattanooga Bicycle Race and Mike H. Mizrahi at or on Facebook (AuthorMikeMizrahi) and Twitter (@MikeHMiz).

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Mike is also giving away a copy of the book. Follow the directions below to enter.

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Thanks for visiting, Mike! It’s been great to have you.

May 9, 2017

The Story behind Building Benjamin by Barbara Britton

I’ve had the privilege of knowing Barbara for a number of years now, and I’m so happy she’s been able to join us on the blog this week to tell us what inspired her to write her latest book, Building Benjamin. First, here’s a little bit about the book.

Naomi desires to dance well enough to catch the eye of a wealthy landowner. Her father needs a substantial bride price due to the deaths of her brothers at the hands of the tribe of Benjamin. But when Benjamites raid the Ephraimite feast and capture young girls, Naomi is bound and carried from her home by Eliab, a troubled shepherd who needs a wife.

As Naomi awaits rescue, she finds Eliab has a strong faith in God and a just reason for abducting her. A reason that affects all the tribes of Israel. The future of the tribe of Benjamin hangs in the balance, but if Naomi follows her heart and stays with Eliab to rebuild his lineage, she must forfeit her family and become a traitor to her tribe.

That sounds really interesting. So what inspired you to write?

Did you always want to be an author? I get asked that question a lot. And truthfully, being an author wasn’t on my radar screen. I grew up many, many years ago when most women were offered jobs in teaching, nursing, secretarial work, or they were stay-at-home moms. Aspiring author wasn’t on the career list, especially a Biblical fiction author. Even in high school, during the “Dress for Success” movement, I was told to buy a blue suit and matching heels and strive to be a middle manager. Creative writing was an elective, not a core subject for career advancement.

I came to be a writer through prayer and teaching chapel—not necessarily in that order. I volunteered to teach a Bible story every Friday to kindergarten through fifth grade—all at one time—at my boys’ school. With years of Sunday School teaching under my belt, this was do-able. One-hundred and fifty kids. Half an hour. No problem. Except finding curriculum for such a wide age span wasn’t easy. It was impossible. So, I had to write my own lesson plans.

Like most teachers at the end of the school year, I was taxing my brain cells and my creative ability to make the Bible fun. I didn’t want to bore my students with the Bible, and I also wanted them to have a deeper understanding of why certain stories were in the Bible. I prayed, “Lord, hit me with some creativity.” And He did! I wrote my lessons, choreographed my songs, and had a prompting to sit down and write. Write! I knew nothing about plotting a story or publishing. Maybe I should have been more specific with my prayer?

After finishing three mainstream books (two Historicals and a Young Adult novel), I decided to write about a Bible story. Why not write what I teach every week? “Providence: Hannah’s Journey” was born. My heroine was based on the Hebrew servant girl in II Kings 5. This captured girl told a leprous, enemy army commander to go see the prophet in Israel if he wanted to be healed.  It took me two years to sell that story of faith, but in the meantime I stumbled upon a crazy story at the end of Judges. How come I had never read this chaotic story in Judges 19-21? The tribe of Benjamin is almost wiped out. Girls are grabbed. Another book is written.

I feel blessed that God had a journey for me to take. One I never knew was out there for me. Long after my blue power suit was given to Goodwill, and my kids left home, I had a job to do—write stories. And not just any stories. Stories about little known Bible characters and events.

Barbara M. Britton was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, but currently lives in Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. She writes Christian Fiction for teens and adults. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. Barb kicked off her Tribes of Israel series in October with the release of “Providence: Hannah’s Journey.” Naomi’s journey, “Building Benjamin” is out now. Barb is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America.

Book Trailer for “Providence” and “Building Benjamin”

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“Building Benjamin” on Amazon or Barnes&Noble

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Thanks for joining us, Barb! It’s been great to have you!

March 29, 2017

The Story behind Dynamo by Ellie Gustafson

Please join me in welcoming Ellie Gustafson to the blog this week. She’s here to share how her story, Dynamo, came to be. Here’s a short blurb about the book.

Jeth Cavanaugh is searching for a new life along one of Pennsylvania’s mountain ridges when he stumbles upon a stable of show jumpers owned by Rob and Katie Chilton. Throw in a volatile gaited stallion named Dynamo, and Jeth will do anything to work there. He earns his living by training and showing Rob’s jumpers, but Dynamo is his primary passion.

Everything changes when God enters his life—in the unconventional form of a hard slap by an old girlfriend—and ignites a new, greater passion within him. But along with fervor comes fear at the undeniable evidence of God’s hand on his life. Inexplicable events, both good and bad, make him moan plaintively, “Why does God do this to me? I get the feeling I’m being set up for something.”

He is, indeed. Jeth’s life is anything but predictable, much like the God he serves. The real Dynamo and his ultimate trainer emerge out of an excruciating mix of disaster and brokenness, which are never beyond the reach of redemption.

Ellie, please share with the readers what inspired you to write this book?

Dynamo has roots that date back many years. My first horseback ride around age 8, sitting astride a very large horse with a very skinny neck (from my up-top perspective), touched off a passion for horses that still smolders within me.

The very large horse died, which ended my riding lessons, but she was replaced a few years later by a smaller—and feistier—pony that taught me how to really ride. Got dumped three times but finally learned how to be the boss.

Our small, rural town was the locus of the Sussex County Farm and Horse Show, which grew to be one of the most prominent on the East Coast and provided much of the competition material for my book. An incredible event I witnessed there appears in the novel. Watch for Jo Jo and Jeth’s story in Chapter 20. Apart from the show, I occasionally rode a local horse, a nasty fellow named The Earl, that also pops up in the novel under the name, Lord Nelson.

My favorite classes, though, were the five-gaited show horses. Splendid, high-stepping animals with flowing manes and tails—the perfect pattern for the stallion Dynamo.

All of this plowed spiritual ground, as well. The horse material came from way back, but my passion for God picked it up and helped me craft a multi-layered story. The main characters are not Jeth and Dynamo, but God and Maybelle who work behind the scenes to mold a servant. Who is God, really? And what does He want of us? That’s the lesson Jeth needed to learn.

Ellie Gustafson began thinking up stories at a young age but did not begin writing and publishing until 1978. A graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, she has been actively involved in church life as a minister’s wife, teacher, musician, writer, and encourager. Additional experiences include gardening, house construction, tree farming, and parenting—all of which have helped bring color and humor to her fiction. One of her major writing goals has been to make scriptural principles understandable and relevant for today’s readers through the undeniable power of story.




Amazon Author Page:

Twitter: @EgusEllie

Facebook: Ellie Gustafson


The Stones

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March 21, 2017

The Story behind When Tides Turn by Sarah Sundin

Sarah Sundin is returning to the blog this week because she has a new release! It’s always a happy day for me when I hear she has something new out there. I love reading other views of WWII. Her newest book is When Tides Turn

When Quintessa Beaumont learns the US Navy has established the WAVES program for women, she enlists, eager to throw off her frivolous ways and contribute to the war effort. Lt. Dan Avery employs his skills in antisubmarine warfare to fight U-boats at the peak of the Battle of the Atlantic, but the last thing he wants to see on his radar is fun-loving Tess. As Dan and Tess work together in Boston, the changes in Tess challenge his notions—and his heart.

It’s always fascinating to hear about little-known parts of the war. What inspired you to write When Tides Turn?

When Tides Turn was inspired by two World War II events, the establishment of the WAVES and the turning point of the Battle of the Atlantic.

The US Navy established the WAVES (Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service) on July 30, 1942. At first the Navy was reluctant to take women due to fears that women wouldn’t be capable or would distract the men. In my novel, Tess Beaumont joins the WAVES and has to prove herself. During the war, the WAVES quickly proved their worth, and soon all branches of the Navy were clamoring for more WAVES. By the end of the war, 86,000 women served as aviation machinists, yeomen, engineers, parachute riggers, radiomen, and more.

The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest battle of World War II, as German U-boats attacked Allied shipping and Allied warships fought back. In When Tides Turn, American naval officer Lt. Dan Avery serves during the peak of the battle in March 1943, when the U-boats sank 95 ships. However, the tide was already turning. Allied advances in breaking the German Enigma code and in radar and radio direction-finding helped locate the elusive U-boats. And air power turned the hunter U-boats to prey. In 1943, the Allies began using auxiliary carriers (also called escort carriers) in convoys. The carrier aircraft detected U-boats, sank them, and drove them away from the vulnerable cargo ships. May 1943 represented the turning point in the Battle of the Atlantic, when U-boats sank 41 ships, but 44 subs were lost, several to carriers such as the USS Bogue, the real ship my fictional hero serves on. Although U-boats remained active until V-E Day, they never again posed as serious a threat. Victory in this battle led to victory in the war by allowing American and Canadian troops to safely cross to Britain for D-day in June 1944.

Sarah Sundin is the author of nine historical novels, including When Tides Turn. Her novel Through Waters Deep was a finalist for the 2016 Carol Award, won the INSPY Award, and was named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years.” A mother of three, Sarah lives in California, works on-call as a hospital pharmacist, and teaches Sunday school. She also enjoys speaking for church, community, and writers’ groups.

Thanks for stopping by, Sarah! I always learn something when you’re on.

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February 28, 2017

The Story behind Whispers in the Branches by Brandy Heineman

Brandy Heineman is our guest this week, sharing what inspired her to write Whispers in the Branches. On our writing loop, the conversation this week is about titles, and I love this title! Here’s a little bit about the book:

Tending a void in her heart that demands to be filled, Abby Wells uproots her life in Ohio to move into the ancestral home in Georgia. Now that her mom is gone, it’s her best chance to connect with the last of her family, and she can’t deny the pull of the supposedly haunted house. The seductive comfort of believing that ghosts could be real drives her search, but Aunt Ruby’s plans for Abby don’t include revealing secrets kept for seventy years. Oh, there’s dirty laundry she’d like to air—just not her own.

Indulging in the attentions of the house’s handsome caretaker helps numb her pain, but Abby’s ex-boyfriend won’t let go of the past. He hounds her about his new found religion in hopes of reconciling, but why reach for him or the God who couldn’t or wouldn’t spare her mom? In the stillness of the old house, the spirit world feels so close she can almost touch it.

But she doesn’t know yet that there’s more than one way to be haunted.

Oh, Brandy, I have chills. Please share with us what inspired the house that’s such a main part of this story?

While writing Whispers in the Branches, I decided I needed a spooky old house as a model for my story. Not a photo, but a real place I could wonder at in all its decrepit glory. I lived in a such a place when I was eight—a 150 year-old house in Watkins Glen, New York. I imagined parts of its weird layout into my narrative, but the exterior was too hazy—probably because we weren’t allowed to play out front, since the house sat too close to the road.

I now live in an Atlanta suburb where spooky old houses are in short supply, but eventually, I found THE one. From the ramshackle porch to the overgrown kudzu, it was the sort of place that a person inclined to believe in ghosts could easily imagine was haunted. Since my story follows characters looking for truth in the wrong places, it was the perfect inspirational setting. I’d take any excuse to drive past it, craning my neck to soak in the details. I thought it was vacant, so imagine my surprise one night on my way home when I noticed the lights on inside. I had no problem dreaming up a ghost for the place, but was shocked that someone actually lived there.

The kicker came after my book released, when my inspiration house went up for sale. Friends encouraged me to call for a showing, but I didn’t think it was right to take the listing agent’s time to satisfy my curiosity. That didn’t stop me from perusing every single one of the thirty-eight pictures they posted online, however. I like my version of the interior better, although if I had large piles of money to get rid of, I can’t say I wouldn’t consider it . . .

Brandy Heineman writes dual timeline novels from a Christian world view. Her passion for genealogy occasional inspires hare-brained schemes like a five-county research trip in a rented Mustang, but she usually sticks to sharing vignettes and research tidbits on her blog. Her debut novel, Whispers in the Branches, was a 2014 ACFW Genesis finalist and released the following year from Elk Lake Publishing. She currently serves as the Vice President of the ACFW North Georgia chapter, and she is represented by Jim Hart of Hartline Literary Agency.

Brandy and her husband, Michael, reside in the metro Atlanta area with their two demanding yet hilarious kitties. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or at

Brandy is giving away an e-copy of the book. Follow the directions below to enter.

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Thanks for visiting us, Brandy! It’s been great to have you!

February 24, 2017

The Story behind Door to Freedom by Jana Kelley

This is one of the best sounding books I’ve heard about in a long time, and I’m excited to have the author, Jana Kelley, stop by this week and tell us a little more about her new release, Door to Freedom. First, let’s get acquainted with the book.

“It’s rough and it’s smooth. It’s dark and it’s light. It’s a masterpiece. It’s us. Here in Sudan. We are scared of it and drawn to it. There is an open door, and there is much opposition.”

In the dusty, Islamic country of Sudan, Mia, who is raising her family in a Muslim country, has learned to boldly share her faith. Rania, the daughter of a wealthy Sudanese Arab, seeks to find the reason for her sister’s sudden disappearance. Mia holds some of the answers, but both women quickly discover they must each walk through their own doors to freedom—the freedom that only comes when you trust God’s sovereignty more than man-made security.

Part of New Hope® Publishers’ line of contemporary missional fiction, Door to Freedom, the sequel to Side by Side, opens the reader’s eyes to modern-day persecution and the life of Muslims in Sudan. Based on real-life events, Door to Freedom also reveals some of the struggles that Christians face when living under Islamic law. The reader will be inspired to pray for those who are persecuted for their faith as well as for the salvation of the persecutors.

Wow, how very interesting and timely, Jana. Can you share with us what led you to write it?

Most of my life has been lived outside of the United States even though I am from Montana by birth and Texas by driver’s license. I love cross-cultural living and I love learning about other cultures. So you write about what you love, right?

My first novel about Sudan was Side by Side. When I finally finished it, I told myself that was difficult and I would never do that again! Of course, by the time it released, I realized that I had enough ideas to write a second and maybe even a third book. Readers and friends asked me what the rest of the story was, and I began to ask myself the same thing. It wasn’t long before I began writing the sequel.

Like the first novel, Door to Freedom is written about a time and place in my life that is very dear to me. My family lived in North Africa and the Middle East for over 13 years and during that time, the people from those countries, wove themselves into my heart. So when I wrote the characters and scenes from Door to Freedom, I was writing from actual memories more than imagination.

Just like anywhere else in the world, the people of Sudan are searching. Like the characters in the book, some look for secular answers (Maysoon), some look for Truth (Rania), and some try to combine both worlds (Jamal).

I tried to write a realistic character when I wrote Mia. She is an American Christian, trying to thrive in a Muslim country. That’s the story of my life. I wrote her character pretty raw and often not very lovely. Her struggles are real struggles that either I had, or my friends had.

I really enjoyed writing Door to Freedom. Because it is fiction, I had a lot of freedom to combine personalities or events in order to have themes and story-lines that made sense. Because it is realistic, I felt a bit like I was putting together a scrapbook of scenes which was great fun!

Jana Kelley is a Texan who hardly ever lives in Texas. Raised in Southeast Asia, Jana developed a love for cross-cultural living early in life. Her love for writing came soon after. Jana returned to Texas to attend East Texas Baptist University. She and her husband married a month after she graduated and by their second anniversary, they were living in a remote African town. After thirteen years living in Africa and the Middle East, Jana, her husband, and their three boys, moved to Southeast Asia where they currently live. Jana has authored two novels and two devotional books. You can learn more about Jana at

Jana is giving away a copy of the novel. Follow the simple directions below to enter.

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Thanks for visiting with us, Jana! It’s been great to have you.