It's a pleasure to highlight a fellow Prism Book Group author. Carlene has written some wonderful novels and her newest release, Baxter Road Miracle will be a great read for any book lover.
Before we get to her unique interview, let's learn a little about Carlene.
Carlene Havel is an award-winning writer of Christian-themed fiction. She has lived in Turkey, Republic of the Philippines, and numerous US States. After a career in human resources and software development, she began writing in 2005. The Havels live in Texas, surrounded by their extended family.
Now on with the questions.
Did you always want to be an author?
Occasionally I would say, “I should write a book!” but never really meant it. In 2005 I became a Christian. That decision changed everything, and I developed a sudden, intense passion to write.
Where did you get the idea for “Baxter Road Miracle”?
When I was in high school, my father planted a church in a Dallas suburb. “Baxter Road Miracle” is loosely based on our family’s adventures during that time. In case my mother reads this blog, I categorically deny ever doing anything in any way similar to either of the Youngblood girls! The story is particularly close to my heart, since it’s dedicated to my Dad. He’ll never read it—he’s far too deep into the clutches of Alzheimer’s—nevertheless, it’s my attempt to celebrate the faith he once had.
Carlene I understand your frustration. I have a mother going down the ugly Alzheimer’s road and a step dad with Dementia. It hurts to see our love one’s minds slowly taken away by this disease.
If you had no limitations of time, resources, and family ties, what would you do?
I’d love to go to China and teach English for a year or two. My church occasionally posts ads for this kind of adventure. Although this will probably never happen for me, wouldn’t it be exciting? Fun to dream about.
Do you ever suffer from “writer’s block”?
Nope, never. There’s always another story to be told. My problem is squeezing out enough hours to transfer what’s inside my head onto paper (or screen). Maybe that’s genetic? You may already know my mother and father are authors. After they started writing, they kept a dozen or so sharpened pencils at the ready. Mom labeled the wooden pencil holder their “writer’s block.” So, everyone still knows what a pencil is, right? Ancient artifacts used to draw pictures on Big Chief tablets and cave walls?
Tell us something unusual about you.
I once worked for a banana importer. Our office was a couple of blocks from the wharf, but the longshoremen brought us stalks of bananas to feast on while we worked. After considerable research, I can tell you the tastiest banana is chartreuse-yellow, slightly green at the tips, with NO brown spots anywhere on the skin. When the skin turns golden or gets the tiniest brown spot, it’s time to think banana bread.
Carlene that does sound interesting. Tell us what’s the best thing you’ve ever done?
Easy one. I trusted Jesus Christ to be my Lord and Savior. You could call me a “Jesus freak”, a label I gladly accept.
Amen! Carlene, I feel the same way. I always say that regardless of who you are, everyone will go through trials, but having a relationship with Jesus makes the difference. I too am happy to be a follower of Jesus.
Here is the blurb about Baxter Road Miracle and a few purchase links.
I'm happy to have Shannon Taylor Vannatter this week sharing her new novel with us. Before we get to the fun part (questions and answers) here's a bit about her.
Central Arkansas author, Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom/pastor’s wife. She lives in a town with a population of around 100, if you count a few cows and once climbed a mountain wearing gold wedge-heeled sandals which became known as her hiking boots. Vannatter won the Inspirational Readers Choice Award in the short contemporary category, The 18th Annual Heartsong Awards 3rd Favorite New Author and #1 Contemporary Award.
She has ten published titles and is contracted for five more. Her books are available at christianbook.com, barnesandnoble.com, amazon.com, harlequin.com, and barbourbooks.com. Learn more about Shannon and her books at check out her real life romance blog at http://shannonvannatter.com/blog/.
Connect with her on Facebook: http://facebook.com/shannontaylorvannatter, Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/29672798-shannon-vannatter, Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/stvannatter/, and Twitter: @stvauthor.
Shannon what is the biggest writing challenge you’ve encountered this past year – craft, career, writing life, etc?
I had a October deadline, which meant I had to write during my son’s summer break. When he’s out of school, my schedule goes off kilter. I’m used to having a quiet house during the day to write and I don’t want to lose time with him.
I stayed up until 2:00 am, slept until 10:00 am, and got a big chunk of the book done without losing focus on my son. But we went on vacation and then we had company. I was just distracted and the words stopped flowing. I felt like the book was disjointed because it was written in fits and spurts.
How did you solve it?
I finally gave up and determined to hit it hard once school started again. The break got new ideas flowing. Once school started back up, I finished the first draft within two weeks, then had plenty of time to edit, revise, and make the story flow.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you want to be?
An interior decorator. I sew home decor items and have made all the bedspreads and most of the curtains, toppers, and valances in our house. I’m OCD on things matching, so I love coordinating fabrics and paint. I made the heroine in one of my rodeo books an interior decorator and it was really fun, even though she was decorating the hero’s house, so it had to be manly instead of fru fru.
Where is the coziest spot in your home?
Our den. I like fru fru while my husband and son like rustic. Half of our house is fru fru – the living room, kitchen, dining, bedroom, and bath. The other half is rustic, the den, guest bath, and our son’s room. They keep trying to take over, but I won’t give in.
Our den is the warmest room in the house in the winter. We have a fireplace with an electric stove that looks like burning logs that puts out a lot of heat. There’s just enough furniture for the three of us to sit and watch TV. It’s decorated with a combo of cowhide and deer antlers. It’s not necessarily the decor, it’s just a smaller room and cozy.
What is your favorite time of the day?
Night. I’m a night owl. I love staying up until 2:00 am and sleeping late. I don’t get to do that during the school year, but I thoroughly enjoy it in the summer and school breaks. The only problem is, once school starts up and I get up at 7:00 am, I have a hard time getting into the routine again. I can’t go to sleep before 2:00, but I have to get up at 7:00 for about a week before my body gives in.
In what ways do you think your writing journey has benefited your family?
When my son was born, I became a stay at home mom. I got published after that, so writing is my only job. We’ve had financial shakeups since I stopped working outside the home and I’d probably have had to go back to work if not for my writing. I’m able to work my schedule around my family. When my son is home, I’m here. My husband is a pastor. I’m able to help him with the church and make hospital visits when needed most of the time.
How does your writing affect your family?
They love the research trips. We usually combine our family vacation with research and we’ve been to some interesting places. The first time we visited the Fort Worth Stockyards, my son decided he wanted to be a bull rider. Yikes. Thank goodness, he got over that.
Which amusement park ride is your favorite and why?
Roller coaster, the bigger the better. I spent five years of my childhood five miles from Six Flags over Georgia. I had older cousins, so I pretty much spent my summers at Six Flags. At the time, the Great American Scream Machine there was the tallest, longest, and fastest roller coaster in the world. It was awesome. Roller coasters are just so exciting, scary, and fun. And I married a man who hates rides. He thinks everything will fly apart – even the Ferris Wheel.
What do you think is the greatest invention of all time?
Electricity. I wouldn’t have made back in the old days with no air conditioning, washer, dryer, refrigerator, or microwave.
How do you balance writing, exercise, home, etc.?
Not very well on the exercise part anyway. I started tread milling for at least 15 minutes five days a week last January and made it through September. I planned to start again this January, but haven’t managed it yet.
My son went back to school for three days after Christmas break, then got the flu and was home again. But no one else got it, Praise God. As a result of him being home, I got behind on everything. Once I catch up with blog posts, polishing a proposal, and getting back to the book I’m supposed to be writing, I plan to get back into my routine. Maybe by the time, this interview goes up; I’ll have gotten back on the treadmill.
Writing and home, I do pretty well. I write while everyone’s gone or in bed. When my family is home and awake, I spend time with them.
What’s your favorite family tradition?
As our Christmas gift, my son, husband, and I go to the Trans Siberian Orchestra Christmas concert every year. We’ve been going since 2005 and once went to Memphis to see them and spent the night with family there because the concert in Little Rock was on Wednesday night.
What role have your friends played in your success as a writer?
A huge part. I have two critique partners I originally met online. We get together at the ACFW Conference every few years. They see what I can’t see in my first drafts and help my books flow.
I belong to ACFW-AR. We have monthly meetings and I don’t get to go often, but I’ve made lots of friends there and we have an annual retreat. I was stuck on a character once and my writer friends helped me get unstuck at the retreat. Other writers get me better than my family does. I often say, They hear voices too and they think it’s normal.
Shannon asked- Now a question for readers:
What invention do you think is the greatest of all time? Answer the question for a chance to win a copy of my latest release, Rodeo Family.
Contest ends Tue. Jan. 27.
TORI EATON IS READY TO START OVER
She's beginning a new chapter in Aubrey, Texas, away from her abusive ex-boyfriend. As she picks up the pieces of her broken life, Tori's surprised at the helping hand the church's new song director, Brant McConnell, offers her, and at the warm emotions he inspires.
Brant is drawn to Tori. And as their friendship grows, so do his feelings for her. But Tori is still hounded by her past, and the walls she's built around her heart are high. Can he convince the wounded beauty that he's exactly the kind of man she needs—and deserves?
No Other Choice: The Naomi Chronicles, Book One By Paula Rose Michelson
About the Book:Naomi will be sent back! She left her family and all she held dear, traveled half way around the word while accompanying a blind, old grandmother because they promised to help her enter America and find her uncle. Instead they handed her over to immigration. What she does now, she does because there is no other choice! This is Naomi’s journey from adolescence to womanhood, from frightened isolation and captivity to the noble status of heiress. Trapped in a life where all who know her think her a saint, saddled with a mission and responsibility many would shirk from placed upon her shoulders, Naomi agrees to marry because that seems to be the easiest way to sidestep more issues. As timely as the immigration debate of today is, author, William Struse’s endorsement says, “Duty, sacrifice, and faith are carried in the arms of love by a courageous young woman, who rises above her own flaws to help others.”
Follow Paula Rose Michelson
Enter to Win a $50 Amazon Gift Card!Enter below to enter a $50 Amazon gift card, sponsored by author Paula Rose Michelson! a Rafflecopter giveaway This book blast is hosted by Crossreads. We would like to send out a special THANK YOU to all of the CrossReads book blast bloggers!
As I leave 2014 behind, I must say it was a good year. No, it wasn’t without trails, but with the Lord’s grace, a remarkable year anyway. One of the things I enjoyed was an interview for our local newspaper. Juli Bates, is a fellow writer, and she scribes articles for the Courier Tribune in Asheboro, NC. She interviewed me for the faith section. It was great to be able to share with everyone why I write Christian fiction. Below is some of the article that appeared last February.
Mary Ball. Christian fiction Writer
Tell me a little about yourself. I live in Randleman NC and write Christian fiction. I keep my grandson around the school schedule. When I’m not writing or helping the family in some way, I enjoy singing gospel songs with my husband, fishing and reading.
Some of you books are romance. Why do you write romance novels? I scribe novels with romance because love in any form, is the sweetness that keeps the world focusing on the good things. Romance comes in all sizes from, a lavish night out to the spouse bringing you that first cup of coffee in the mornings. My husband leaves for work early every morning, but before he goes, he fixes a pot of coffee so that when I get up all I need to do is pour a cup. Romance is often those little acts a person does each day.
How does your faith impact your writing? I write fiction, dealing with all types of subjects. Faith is always a force in my books. I try to show readers that with hope and faith, life can be fulfilling and you can reach your goals.
Christian Faith is an integral part of all your stories. Why do you believe this is important? Becoming a Christian begins with faith. It is the anchor that keeps us grounded. The world can be a cold place sometimes with situations we have no control over, but faith gives us a hope to grab hold, and see past the chaos in the world.
All of your characters face crisis in their lives, some such as alcohol or abuse. Many writers shy away from such painful topics but you don’t. Why is that? It tells us in Matthew 5 that it rains on the just and the unjust. Regardless of who we are, we will face hardships. By writing about challenges, I can also interject my characters dealing with trials from a Godly prospective.
Hope seems to be a central theme in your books. Your characters find hope even when life seems devoid of it. How important is it for people to realize there is hope in seemingly hopeless situations? Very important! Without hope, all is lost. Without hope, life can seem like a dead-end. People can even succumb to depression, if they don’t have hope within themselves. Hope is the link to having a happy life
Family and having a place to call home also seems important. In modern society, do you believe having roots is minimized? Yes, it is. With our hectic lifestyles and families living far apart, we can lose that personal connection to our heritage.
Why is it important to have Christian novels on the market? Book lovers have a lot of reading choices out there and I believe Inspirational novels are important because they show the reader a kinder way of dealing with life. These novels open up the mind to a world of hope and guidance, which Jesus Christ can bestow on each of us.
What do you hope people find when they read your books? I want folks to see a way to live each day in life with knowledge that through faith we can overcome.
You have a new book coming out soon. Can you share anything about it? The title is Redemption in Big Fork Lake. This story goes back to the fictional town of Big Fork Lake (my first novel, Escape to Big Fork Lake.) Some of the characters in Redemption in Big Fork Lake are the same, but this novel focuses on a character in the first book that has an addiction and struggles with overcoming or falling deeper in into his bad habits. This is the blurb.
What happens when an addiction takes over?
Only after Robert Turner attempts to hurt someone does he realize how much of a hold alcohol has on his life.
For Robert, a chance meeting with an Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor offers hope. A new devotion to the Lord and a relationship with Belle McBride gives him expectations for a better future.
His life appears to be on the right track, until he comes full circle with his past and faces the one mistake that haunts him daily. Can forgiveness-free Robert? Will he return to the life he once had? have
As 2015 begins, I know we all have a plan for the things to come. Something about the beginning of a new calendar brings about the hope to continue and forge ahead. I think too, that we look back a little and expect to makes changes toward the positive.
As they say, “hindsight is twenty-twenty.” For me, it's often true. Many things I wish I had done differently, situations where I now know I didn’t listen to the Lord guidance as well as I should have. All that can change in this New Year.
I forge ahead into 2015, determined to be a better person, a more talented writer, and to become more attune to the guidance in my life that the Lord offers.
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