Sunday, September 17, 2017

Character Interview with Tom Worthington of "Freedom’s Price"

Character Interview with Tom Worthington of Freedom’s Price:

Alexis: Hi, Tom! How are you today? Are you happy with the way that your author Christine Johnson wrote your story? Inquiring minds want to know.

Tom: Hi. I gotta admit that it’s pretty peculiar to get interviewed. Did you say this was for a newspaper? I haven’t met many lady reporters. Uh, what did you ask? Oh yes, if I’m happy with the way my story came out. Well, there are parts I’d rather the world didn’t see, if you know what I mean. I’m a bit ashamed about some of the grudges I held onto. And in retrospect I’d make a few choices differently, given the chance. 

Alexis: What is the price of freedom in your story?

Tom: [Shrugs] I guess the cost means letting go of what you want most. 

Alexis: What is your motivation?

Tom:  Restoring the Worthington name, plain and simple. There were a lot of lies flung out over the years. It’s time to set things straight. 

Alexis: Who stole your father’s ship and set him adrift at sea? How did that make you feel?

Tom: Luis Mornay incited the crew to mutiny and stole the ship. Of course we didn’t know a thing about it until Pa drifted to shore far to the south and made his way home to Nantucket. Pa tried to set the record straight but the ship owners wouldn’t listen to the truth. They wanted to blame someone. Since Mornay wasn’t there, they blamed Pa and took everything he had, even our house. They broke Pa, stole his dignity. I’ll never forget that. 

Alexis: What role does forgiveness play in your story? 

Tom: You think I should forgive Mornay—or whatever he calls himself now. [Long pause] I suppose I should. They say forgiveness is for yourself, not the villain who hurt you, but it’s tough. I’ll forgive, but forget? I don’t think I’ll ever forget. 

Alexis: The bravery and beauty of this story’s heroine, Catherine Haynes, has you at hello. Why? What is it about her that touches your heart?

Tom: [Grinning] You’ve seen her. I know you’re a lady and all, but you have to admit she’s gorgeous. That red hair of hers… [sigh] I should have realized the hair matched her temperament. Spunky, bold, decisive. Who wouldn’t be drawn to her? 

Alexis: Why do you fear for Catherine’s safety? What measures do you take to protect her?

Tom: All those great qualities of hers also make her headstrong. Once she’s decided on a course of action, she doesn’t deviate—even if holding course is dangerous. She’s a bit naïve about the dangers she faces as a woman alone in the world. With no male relations, she needs someone to step in and protect her. I’ll make sure no one lays a hand on her, even if it means hounding her every step. 

Alexis: Who is Rourke O’Malley? How did he lead you to Jesus Christ? What were you like before you met him and became a Christian?

Tom: Rourke is my commander, the owner of the O’Malley fleet. When I first came to Key West, he rescued me from a duel spurred on by my temper. The man would have slaughtered me if Rourke hadn’t stepped in. Rourke took me aboard his ship and showed through his actions how living for Christ changes a man. That’s when I first realized that fighting wouldn’t bring me respect. Character, integrity, and adhering to Christ’s way; that’s what matters. Rourke showed me I could look forward at all that God promises instead of back at the troubled past. Not that I have it all down yet, mind you. 

Alexis: Who is DeMornay? Why do you think that he might harm Catherine?

Tom: Luis Mornay. Louis DeMornay. The names are too similar. If DeMornay is Mornay, then he will stop at nothing and no one to get what he wants. If Catherine marches in there thinking she’ll be in charge, she’s asking for trouble. He will use it against her. I have to protect her. 

Alexis: What would you say was your “black moment” in this story? Why?

Tom: When I thought Catherine might be dead…all because I delayed getting to her. I’ve never felt so sick. 

Alexis: If you could change one thing about your story, what would it be? Why?

Tom: Sometimes I think I should have told Catherine my suspicions from the start. Maybe she wouldn’t have gone to Louisiana. 

Alexis: How do you want to be remembered by your readers?

Tom: [grinning, a twinkle in his eye] As a dashing hero, of course. 

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Tom! Would you like to share closing thoughts? 

Tom: Thanks for reading my story. I hope you like it! 

Author bio:
Christine Johnson loves history, especially when it centers on ships and the sea. 

In addition to her Keys of Promise series with Revell, she has authored a dozen books with Steeple Hill and Love Inspired. 

She and her ship captain husband split time between the shores of Lake Huron and the Florida Keys. 

Book blurb for Freedom’s Price: When Englishwoman Catherine Haynes loses both her father and her home in 1856, she decides to cross the Atlantic to find her American mother’s family in Louisiana. She enlists the help of Tom Worthington, a dashing Key West man who makes his living salvaging wrecked ships.

When Catherine arrives at the plantation, she finds that her family has left it in the care of a manager—who’s let it fall into disrepair. Torn between returning to Key West with Tom and beginning the hard work of restoring the plantation, Catherine soon finds herself snared in a plot to steal her inheritance. When an incredible secret comes to light, both she and Tom will face a choice: grip their dreams ever tighter or step forward in faith—even if it costs them everything.

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Sunday, September 10, 2017

Summer Love: Character Interview of Katherine Newman from On The Rails

Character Interview with Katherine Newman from On The Rails, by Linda Shenton Matchett:

Alexis: Katherine, why did you think your boyfriend Henry Jorgensen was going to propose to you? Describe how you felt when he dumped you.

Katherine: Henry and I had been dating exclusively for nearly a year. He was a regular guest at our home for meals and family events. When he asked me to dinner at the new, fancy restaurant in town I assumed it was because he felt the date was a special occasion, and what’s more special than a proposal? I was heartbroken and embarrassed when he broke up with me. I felt like it was my fault that he was dumping me.

Alexis: Why did you decide to become a Harvey Girl. What was that experience like once you started working for Fred Harvey’s company?

Katherine: My mother was a Harvey Girl and loved it. She thought if I started over somewhere, it would be good for me, and I agreed. I was very nervous in the beginning. I had heard that Mr. Harvey’s son who ran the company was very exacting. I wasn’t sure I would be able to make the grade, but my boss, Miss Stewart was an excellent teacher, and I learned a lot. It was a very positive experience.

Alexis: Who is Pamela? Why did you think after a scene that she was out to get you?

Katherine: Pamela is one of the other Harvey Girls, and she seemed intent on creating difficulties for me and for making me look inept. Several times she made me spill or drop things in a way that seemed to be my fault. When Miss Stewart reprimanded me, Pamela didn’t own up to her part in the incident.

Alexis: What makes Eunice such a good friend of yours? How did she help you cope with your heartbreak that Henry caused?

Katherine: Eunice is a sweet, giving person. I met her on the train to Arizona, and she helped me get over my nerves of starting the new job by reminding me that I wouldn’t have been hired if the company didn’t think I could do the job. Her excitement for the opportunity was contagious. She also helped me focus on the new job, and when she became a Christian she encouraged me to pray about my hurt feelings. 

Alexis: How did becoming Head Waitress for the Harvey Girl Company change your life?

Katherine: Other than a classroom, I had never been in charge of anything, and it never occurred to me that I could hold a leadership position. Being promoted to Head Waitress gave me a tremendous amount of confidence because I gained additional skills and abilities that I could use throughout my life.

Alexis: How did you deal with the backlash from some of your colleagues who were jealous about your job promotion? 

Katherine: Initially, I wasn’t very mature about their behaviors, and I became aloof and standoffish to them. Eunice helped me see that the way I was acting exacerbated the situation, and she encouraged me to be firm and fair, but also friendly. Eventually, that made the relationships less contentious. 

Alexis: Who is Alice Jorgenson and why were you hesitant about working with her?

Katherine: Alice is Henry’s sister, and our families have known each other for a long time; since all of us were children. I thought she would expect special treatment because of that relationship, that I would overlook any errors she made or poor performance. My hurt feelings also seemed to surface every time we were in the same room, and I didn’t want to have to deal with that every day.

Alexis: How did you like your life in Arizona working as a Harvey Girl? 

Katherine: The geography of Arizona is very different from that of Ohio, and I wasn’t crazy about the heat, but it is a beautiful state in its own way. The Grand Canyon is magnificent, and Red Rock Country is intriguing. Because I loved my job, I loved being in Arizona. 

Alexis: Did you miss your home in Ohio? Why or why not?

Katherine: My family is very close-knit. We shared everything, so being far away from them was difficult. We wrote lots of letters to each other, but it’s not the same as being together. I missed them very much. I also missed my friends, but the excitement and enjoyment of being a Harvey Girl kept me busy enough that I didn’t get homesick too often.

Alexis: Is there hope of a happily ever after for you and Henry? Why or why not?

Katherine: Readers will have to wait and see!

Alexis: What was the most devastating part of leaving home to work in Arizona? Or was it an enjoyable experience for you? Explain.

Katherine: It was hard to leave my family behind to strike out on my own. As I said, we are very close, so it was difficult being apart, but because I made new friends that I still keep up with, and gained confidence and new skills, it was a wonderful experience.

Alexis: What lessons did you learn while working in Arizona? 

Katherine: I learned that God is in control and has our best interests at heart. He loves us no matter what our shortcomings. 

Alexis: Would you say that your experience as a Harvey Girl and Head Waitress made you stronger? Why or why not?

Katherine: The experience working for the Harvey Company definitely made me stronger. I learned how to work quickly and efficiently. I gained the ability to juggle multiple tasks and how to work with people who may be different than me. I am able to be on my own and make my own decisions.

Alexis: What’s the moral of your story?

Katherine: God is a God of second chances.

Alexis: Thanks so much for the interview, Katherine! Do you have any closing comments?

Katherine: Thanks for speaking with me! I hope readers will enjoy my story, discovering the role Harvey Girls played in taming the West.

Author Bio: 
Linda Shenton Matchett is a journalist, blogger, and author. 

Born in Baltimore, Maryland a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry, Linda has lived in historical places most of her life—from Edison, New Jersey (named after the famed inventor of the lightbulb) and Washington, D.C. to Wolfeboro, New Hampshire (reputed to be the oldest summer resort in America). 

A freelance writer for over ten years, her articles and devotionals have appeared in numerous print and online publications. A varied career has included stints as a crisis counselor, human resources professional, bed and breakfast owner, and youth center director. She is currently the Front of House and Catering Manager for a boarding high school. She volunteers as a docent at the Wright Museum of WWII and as a Trustee for the Wolfeboro Public Library. 

Book blurb for On the Rails: Warren, Ohio, 1910: Katherine Newman loves being a teacher, but she loves Henry Jorgensen more, which is why she’s willing to give up her job to marry him. But instead of proposing, Henry breaks up with her.  

Devastated, Katherine seeks to escape the probing eyes and wagging tongues of her small town. A former Harvey Girl, Katherine’s mother arranges for Katherine to be hired at the Williams, Arizona Harvey House. Can she carve out a new life in the stark desert land unlike anything she’s ever known? 

Henry Jorgensen loves Katherine with all his heart, but as the eldest son of a poor farmer can he provide for her as she deserves? The family’s lien holder calls in the mortgage, and Henry must set aside his own desires in order to help his parents meet their financial obligation. 

But when Katherine leaves town after their break up, he realizes he’s made the biggest mistake of his life. Can he find her and convince her to give their love a second chance?

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Thursday, September 7, 2017

Interview with Natalie Hallie, character, from The Road to Austin

Jessica Alyse returns to the blog today with a fun interview featuring Natalie Hallie, the leading lady (character) from her new novel, The Road to Austin!

I found this book to be poignant, multilayered and complete with solid storytelling skills by its author. It's evident that Jessica Alyse has a passion for writing stories that are solid, relatable and don't shy away from tough topics.

But don't take my word for it, go buy a copy of The Road to Austin and read it for yourself! :)

Remember to enter the book giveaway contest toward the end of Natalie's interview, for your chance to WIN an e-book copy of The Road to Austin.


Interview with Natalie Hallie, character, from The Road to Austin:

Alexis: Natalie, your author pegged you as a “woman on a mission.” Do you agree? Why or why not?

Natalie: That’s one way of putting it. Yes, I would have to say I agree. Maybe because I always seem to have somewhere to go, things to do, people to see. You know? Life’s been busy since the wedding and if I can get a chance to add one more thing to my planner, I probably won’t turn it down. I like to accomplish things – Austin can tell you. If there’s anything in the world I love, it’s being able to put a checkmark next to a project. *Makes a checkmark through the air.*

Alexis: Your goal is clear: Get home in time for your sister’s wedding. You try to fly in an airplane but fail. So then you’re resolved to take a road trip with a man (Austin Brooks) whose love for spontaneity gets underneath your skin. Why?

Natalie: If I’m being honest with myself, Austin is really the only man I trust – for reasons I’m sure you know after reading our story. It is absolutely true that he gets under my skin at times, I mean the man lives life by the seat of his paint-stained jeans – whereas I do not. But Austin has a gentleness about him, an assurance, if you will, that he’ll be there for you no matter what. When I realized taking a plane wasn’t going to be an option for me, having Austin show up out of nowhere and offer to drive me home…it was the best thing that could have happened to me.

Alexis: Growing up, you and Austin were friends. What made you drift apart? How did you feel about reconnecting with him on this road trip?

Natalie: I wouldn’t say we were really friends – although the younger me would have loved it if we were. If it were up to me, Austin and I would have never drifted apart. Back when we were both eighteen, things happened in our lives that would take a lot of time to overcome – ten years to be exact. It was hard to let him go and let him find his own way in the world. It created a lot of resentment and confusion in me. When God opened the door for us to reconnect, I was hesitant because I thought I was still angry with him for leaving. I didn’t want to hurt again. And I certainly didn’t want to revisit those old feelings. But God had other plans for us, and I’m grateful we were able to travel that road back to Austin, Texas. 

Alexis: Describe The Road to Austin. If you could sum up your journey in just one word, what would you say? Why?

Natalie: One word? I would have to say…beautiful. I think that perfectly sums up our journey because it perfectly sums up who Austin is. That’s really what this journey was about; getting to know Austin’s heart all over again. All this time I thought I was trying to get home to Austin, Texas. But now that I look back on it, there was more to it than that. As it turns out I found my home in him. In Austin Brooks. 

Alexis: What was your most memorable moment on the road to Austin? Why?

Natalie: I remember it vividly, it was the first time Austin held me right after we heard about the plane crash…I still get chills thinking about that day. I was a mess, shaking and crying, I couldn’t get a grip on reality. And he was there, holding onto me, keeping me strong and helping me stand. I don’t want to think about what would have happened if he hadn’t been there. If he hadn’t been who he is and randomly offered to drive me home…I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Austin. He saved my life without realizing it.

Alexis: What were your first thoughts when you found out that Austin is an artist—a very talented one?

Natalie: I was blown away. I had no idea he was capable of that kind of emotion. The thing is, Austin comes over as this man who doesn’t care or who doesn’t take life seriously – but the truth is, he sees the world differently than the rest of us. He sees people differently, with a love that I think can only come from Christ. That’s what you see in his art. It’s not just pictures and paintings. Austin pours his soul into everything he does and to witness that firsthand in his art, you can feel the passion. It’s inspiring – that’s probably an understatement. Austin makes you want to be a better person. That’s what makes him Austin.

Alexis: Austin wants you to lighten up and not take life so seriously. Why?

Natalie: Austin is aware of how rigid I can be at times. I like to adhere to a schedule and stick with a routine. I’m very much a perfectionist and when things are out of order, I tend to stress out and take the fun out of life. He hates that. Austin is all about fun and finding something to laugh at and admiring the simple things in life. I don’t always remember to slow down and appreciate it. We make an amazing team because his colorful outlook on life reminds me to breathe and my knack for details reminds him to stay on track. He keeps my head in the clouds and I keep his feet on the ground. 

Alexis: Three days was enough to go full circle in your relationship with Austin. How did he go from annoying you to melting your heart? 

Natalie: It was all in my perspective. The first time I set foot in Austin’s truck, I was a hard, cold person. Everything in my life had led me to think there was no hope in life. That’s why I found Austin so annoying. Because his sense of adventure is built on a foundation of hope. He sees only the good – whereas I could only see the bad. This road trip really wore us both down emotionally, the broken deadlines and never-ending problems and all of the life-and-death situations, we were tired and drained, so we dropped our guards and really got to see the other for who we were. We saw the worst and best of each other and those are the parts we fell in love with. Once I could see his strengths and weaknesses side-by-side, I knew no other man could compare to Austin. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.

Alexis: Would you say that you love Austin? If so, describe how he won your heart.

Natalie: Yes, most definitely. Truth be told, I’ve always loved Austin. Since we were eight. I would say he won my heart by just being himself, but that’s so cliché. He won my heart when I realized I’d found someone who wanted to hold me gently. Someone who was appalled at the idea of seeing me hurt, after all I’d been through, and who wanted to show me what love really felt like. His touch goes through my skin and runs into my soul. He’s healing parts of me that had been destroyed. I can feel it every day. 

Alexis: What is it about your past and Austin’s past that used to bother you?

Natalie: His leaving ten years ago. I think that’s where my resentment started to grow from. All of my life – my young life – I thought I’d found someone I could lean on, someone who could protect me if given the chance. But when Austin left home, he took that hope with him and left me reeling for security. I had to find my footing after this foundation of my childhood dreams had been ripped out from under me. Truth is, it wasn’t healthy for me to live in that world. It took tearing our lives apart to build us both from the ground up. Seven years after Austin left, I was tired of falling apart so, as a last ditch effort, I decided to mimic the faith I always saw in Austin. I quickly found out that faith can’t be mimicked, but it can be inspired. When I gave myself to Jesus Christ, faith became my own, something to cherish and nurture. Austin’s faith may have led me to that point in my life, but it couldn’t save me. It took knowing Jesus for myself to realize there were greater things waiting for me.

Alexis: What role does faith in God play in The Road to Austin and beyond?

Natalie: Our faith in God is most definitely the foundation of our story, of our future. But I would say, more specifically, it’s our hope in God that keeps us living, breathing. I had no problem trusting in Him when I was still a hard and bitter person. But it’s the warmth of His hope that melted my cold walls. He used Austin to set my focus on better plans and sweeter dreams. Every day I get to wake up knowing He has a plan and purpose for me. That’s hope.

Alexis: If you could do one thing differently in your life, what would it be and why?

Natalie: This might sound crazy, but I would have to change my career. If given the chance, I would have pursued photography from a very young age. But it was because of my father’s desire to have a family of lawyers that I chose his course and went to law school. Some might think I would change being born into a loveless family, but not meeting Austin isn’t something I would risk. 

Alexis: What do you want readers to learn from your life story?

Natalie: Hope exists. Keep your chin up and eyes on Jesus Christ. Never give up on hope, I don’t care what happens in the world. True love also exists. Austin is proof of that. If that kind of loyalty and passion lives in the heart of one person, then it exists in the world and is worth waiting for. Nobody is perfect, but the love that God puts in your heart for that one special person is enough to carry you through a lifetime of tests and trials. Just hold onto each other.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Natalie! Would you like to share closing thoughts?

Natalie: Only that this was fun and I hope to do it again soon.

Author Bio: 

Jessica Alyse is a Louisiana girl with a heart for Texas. 

A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, she has a passion for storytelling, romance, and Jesus Christ.  

When she’s not writing, you can find her bookbinding, daydreaming about the day her stories are adapted into movies, or in the event of a football game, cheering for the Green Bay Packers.

Blurb for The Road to Austin:  Natalie Hallie is a woman on a mission.

She needs to get home in time for her sister’s wedding.

Austin Brooks is a man of spontaneity. And he needs coffee.

To get to Austin, Texas, Natalie refuses to step foot on a plane. She'd rather accept a ride from the reckless and wild boy from her childhood who, in her opinion, hasn't changed all that much. If she can just get through three days of his witty commentary and cheesy jokes, then life will return to normal. That is, if bad eggs, thieving monkeys, a tornado, a dilapidated motel, and a stolen truck don't do her in first.

The world looks better in watercolor. Or so Austin believes. He finds it easier not to take life so seriously, unlike Natalie. Things change when they spend three days together and her long-buried feelings start to surface. That’s when Austin finds himself getting serious…about praying for Natalie’s heart.

On a journey where the skies aren’t always blue, graffiti isn't always illegal, and bathroom breaks aren't always a good idea, the past starts to catch up with them. When secrets of her brother's death, Austin's past, and Natalie's family begin to come to light, they'll learn there's more to life and love on the road to Austin.

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Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Devotional by Laura Thomas: Slumber and your wake-up call

Eyes Wide Open
A devotional written by Laura Thomas

“Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead.” ~Acts 20:9 (NIV)

Can you imagine? First, falling asleep in a very public place. Secondly, literally tumbling backward through an open window. Thirdly, landing dead on the ground? Poor Eutychus. Just a young guy trying to catch some z’s.

The apostle Paul was in the midst of preaching a lengthy sermon (like hours upon hours), and we’re not told if Eutychus had been dragged to the service by his parents, or if he was there to eagerly glean some truth. But the fact is, he stayed awake as long as he could but by midnight enough was enough. And really who could blame him? (Note to self: Never sit in an open window when sleepy!)

Have you ever unintentionally fallen into that blissful state of slumber whilst in public? You try desperately to keep your eyes wide open, but your eyelids are like lead. Why is it so hard to stay awake sometimes? Especially in our Christian walk. Like when we try to pray or attempt to stay focused on the message being preached, or reach a place where our corporate worship is ablaze and genuine. When we are at home and have the best intentions to follow a Bible devotion plan, or journal our thoughts, or get through a challenging book. Why is it so much easier to take a nap?

Spiritual sleeping is a dangerous pastime, and we do it well. In the comfy western world, we Christians are in dire need of some shaking. It’s a scary thing to even write because we rather like our non-confrontational, peaceful, easy-going faith. But while our eyes are closed WE ARE MISSING OUT ON SO MUCH.

Matthew Henry’s commentary suggests we should do “what we can to prevent our being sleepy, not compose ourselves to sleep, but get our hearts affected with the word we hear to such a degree as may drive sleep far enough.”

“…get our hearts affected with the word…”

To be affected with the Word of God, we need to be physically and spiritually awake. Eyes wide open. There has to be a hunger, a drive, a desire to follow where God leads, to obey His command, to seek His face. The Bible isn’t an optional extra for our faith-walk—it isn’t a reference book to consult whenever the need arises. It’s our daily bread. Our sustenance. And when we are truly IN the Word, we won’t be caught napping on a windowsill.

“For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” ~Hebrews 4:12 (NIV)

Our story with young Eutychus has a happy ending (as long as you are good with being remembered as the guy who fell asleep while Paul was preaching, back-flipped through a third-story window, and died). I’m sure there was a ruckus when the packed household of believers realized what had occurred, but Paul was on the case immediately. By God’s grace, a miracle was performed when Paul “fell on the dead body and embraced it” (verse 10), bringing the boy back to life. Don’t you just love it when God uses even the most unfortunate of events to bring glory to Himself? What a crazy miracle!

Friend, do you need a wake-up call? I know I do. Regularly. The Almighty doesn’t need me to be awake with eyes wide open in order for His perfect plan to evolve. He has the power and authority to do anything He pleases with whomever He chooses. But I want my heart to be affected with the Word and my eyes wide open to what God has in store. How about you?

Author Bio: 

Laura is a published Christian author with a heart for inspiring and encouraging readers of all ages. 

She is truly multi-genre—with a published Christian teen fiction trilogy, marriage book, children’s stories, devotionals for Union Gospel Press, musings on her blog, and she now has a literary agent representing her Christian romantic suspense novel.

Laura is English and Canadian, married to her high school sweetheart, mom of three, passionate about faith and family…and chocolate!

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Sunday, September 3, 2017

Summer Love: Why Gail Wrote the story, "Poppy Fields With You"


Beauty, Brains and Poppy Fields
A personal essay by Gail Gaymer Martin

Poppies are the state flower of California, and the book was to be part of a series on state flowers. Even more than that, I love the Monterey area where the story is set and have written other novels set in Pacific Grove which it happens is known for its poppy fields. It is beautiful there and is a place I’ve visited numerous times since I have family living in the area.

Along with the theme, I needed a story and the idea for Poppy Fields With You came to mind. I wanted to do an unexpected romance, sort of a second chance story, but also one that covered an issue in many people’s lives and that is having a misguided concept of who they are and what they’re worth. I happen to be a counselor by trade and worked in the field for 23 years. People who feel they have nothing to offer or lack self-worth is not uncommon. I worked with many people who grew up with misconceptions of their value due to a variety of things, often based on comments they heard or learned as a child.

In the novel, Jill is told that she’s very much like her mother. This devastates her because her mother had a flaw that had hurt Jill deeply, and she assumed that this was the way she was like her mother. She overlooked the good qualities her mother had and geared her life around avoiding anyway she might fall into her mother’s trap. But this is something that can happen to anyone.

My sister and I are good examples of this phenomena. We had wonderful parents who always wanted to provide positive messages. My sister always envied that I was the oldest and had many opportunities that she didn’t have, and I looked at my cute sister and envied her looks. One day our mother, trying to soothe us said, “Jan, Gail is smart, but you’re very cute.” Immediately my sister and I took those comments and twisted them to our understanding. To me, my mother was saying that I was smart but ugly. My sister heard, she was cute but stupid. This is far from the truth, but for many years that silent stigma lingered in our heads.

I am grateful that with growth, education and common sense those misguided statements are gone. My sister still doesn’t think she’s as talented as I am since I’ve been a successful writer, but she has many talents that I don’t have and I admire them. I finally looked into a mirror and knew that I wasn’t ugly and yes, I wasn’t cute, but I had good physical attributes that I’ve heard from others through the years and I have some not so great, but that’s okay. I know who I am now, and I accept my looks as they are.

Sadly, many people have heard derogatory comments about them, especially from those who have been bullied by others as well as members, and have never recovered or learned to step back and seek reality. I find this sad and hope that as we all mature, we can look at the truth and really see it. I’m glad that Jill learned the truth and was able to change her life for the better.

Author bio: 
Multi-award-winning novelist Gail Gaymer Martin is the author of Christian contemporary romance, romantic suspense, women's fiction and sweet romances. She has 77 published novels or novellas and over 4 million books sold. 

Her novels have received several national awards, including the ACFW Carol Award and RT Reviewers Choice Award. CBS local news listed Gail as one of the four best writers in the Detroit area. She is the author of Writer Digest’s Writing the Christian Romance and a co-founder of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). She is a member of Advanced Speakers and Writers (AWSA). 

Gail is a keynote speaker at churches, civic and business organizations. In her earlier career, Gail was a teacher of English, literature and public speaking at high school and university levels and still enjoys teaching workshop at conferences across the U.S. Though living most of her life in Michigan, Gail now lives in Arizona with her husband.

Blurb for Poppy Fields with You
Jill Noodan’s life changes when her best friend, Jack Dodd, appears in her life after many years. 

They had been inseparable until Jack’s high school graduation when he moved on to education and a career in Los Angeles while Jill remained in Pacific Grove, not wanting to leave her father, abandoned by his wife. 

Being told how much she was like her mother, Jill has avoided relationships other than her deep friendship with Jack. His return now brings back memories of fun-filled days with someone she trusted and stirs feelings she’s never felt before. Jack realizes that Jill has been the model for the woman he could never find to love. 

But the past is strong, and will the fear of losing their perfect friendship stands in their way of falling in love?  

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Thursday, August 31, 2017

Interview with Jessica Alyse, author of "The Road to Austin"

Let's welcome Jessica Alyse to the blog! 

She's a very talented novelist who lives in Louisiana but has a big heart for Texas. So it's not a surprise that her new novel, The Road to Austin, is about that great state. 

Get to know Jessica Alyse via this author interview today. Enjoy!

Interview with Jessica Alyse, author of The Road to Austin:

Alexis: What inspired you to write this book and why do you call it, The Road to Austin?

Jessica: About seven years ago, I had a strong urge to travel. Like, serious cross-country road trip kind of travel, and since I was a young, broke teenager I decided I would write a book instead. That’s where the idea began, but I never had a clue how beautiful this story would turn out to be. When I started brainstorming it, I knew that I wanted my characters to live in Texas and I loved the name Austin so that was where the story blossomed.

As it took shape, the title The Road to Austin became a parallel. It’s not only about this comical road trip with flamboyant characters and original experiences but it’s also about getting to know the heart of the hero, Austin Brooks – who can also be described as comical, flamboyant, and original. It’s about traveling the road to Austin, Texas, as much as it is about getting to know the hero on the road to Austin Brooks’ heart. 

Alexis: Your story’s heroine Natalie Hallie faints before she boards an airplane and that cancels her flight. What was the significance of that scene and what does it tell your readers about Natalie? 

Jessica: That scene is a brilliant way to kick off the story! So, Natalie – besides being a perfectionist and control-freak – has a fear of getting hurt. She doesn’t trust planes because she’s afraid of heights and has no control over who flies them and where they’re going. Because of past experiences, she has huge walls around her heart that keep her safe mentally, emotionally, and physically. When she passes out, it goes to show you how her need for control and her greatest fear collide – literally knocking her out – and how she highly she values her safety and security. In walks Austin Brooks and this is where her story begins. 

Alexis: Describe Natalie’s relationship with her sister. Do they get along? Why or why not? 

Jessica: If it were up to Natalie, they’d get along like PB&J. But Natalie’s sister, Kelsey, isn’t always on the same page. She’s ten years younger than Natalie and has her own agenda that most people might see as selfish. Because of her childhood experiences, Kelsey has learned to look out for herself because nobody else will. That’s her perception of life and the world. If she’s not putting herself first, then nobody else is going to. Natalie strives to get along with Kelsey but sometimes Kelsey makes demands that Natalie can’t meet. That’s where the friction in their relationship comes in. Besides that, they’re best friends and Natalie would go to the ends of the earth to make her baby sister happy. 

Alexis: Your story’s hero Austin Brooks is painted as hunky but also annoying, at least in Natalie’s eyes. What is it about Austin that makes Natalie roll her eyes? 

Jessica: His carefree attitude. In short, she cares too much about life and he doesn’t care enough. He’s reckless, random, and original – everything that threatens Natalie’s outlook on reality, which is very strict, orderly, and routine. Where she’s planning their trip, he’s making jokes and sipping on coffee. Just when she expects an adult to help her overcome the obstacles in their trip, she finds a teenager-at-heart “playing” with paint. In the beginning, it’s annoying to her. But things change… 

Alexis: Natalie and Austin spend several days together on the road to Austin. Describe their journey in five words. 

Jessica: Colorful. Hectic. Encouraging. Romantic. Hopeful. 

Alexis: You tackle the tough issue of abuse in this story. What message concerning this do you want to convey to your readers? 

Jessica: The message in this story is one of hope. Abuse is a representation of a greater evil in the world we live in. It’s one of humanity’s darkest sins and is a battle to be won in the heart. When I decided to thread the conflict of abuse through the story, I knew I couldn’t do it lightly and the worthiest opponent to abuse is hope. Hope inspires strength, it inspires power. Hope can turn a broken dream into a mountain-shaking prayer. With hope darkness, lies, and deceit will be extinguished and the plans of Satan will be put to death. Hope is the sister of peace and the first step toward a greater faith in Jesus Christ.

“Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” ~Romans 15:13 (KJV)

Alexis: What do Natalie an Austin do for a living? How do their talent and individual career choices impact their outlook? 

Jessica: Natalie is a law student and intern. She studies – begrudgingly – and that’s about all she does. This is what causes her lackluster outlook on life. In Natalie’s eyes, life is to be taken seriously with no time for fun or mistakes. Her idea of enjoying herself is getting behind her camera to take pictures of landscapes and sunrises where she can escape the monotony of life from time to time.

Austin, on the other hand, is a nighttime security guard and ex-cop. While it’s not his dream job, it helps keep his imagination brimming with ideas. His passion lies in art, creating pictures with colors and using different mediums to evoke emotion. This is part of what keeps him happy and carefree. Because life just looks better in watercolor. 

Alexis: Where are your characters in their faith journey with God? How do they view God and how does their view impact how they see the world and relate to people? Explain. 

Jessica: Austin is a lifelong Christian who briefly walked away from his faith for seven years. Natalie is a new Christian who gave her life to Christ the same time Austin was rededicating his, unbeknownst to the both of them. They’re both on the same page when it comes to knowing that the Lord is the Father that they both craved all their lives.

For Austin, his faith keeps him alive. Without his relationship with Christ, he would become bitter and cold, losing all contact with others and withering away in the meanwhile – which is similar to Natalie’s view. While she prizes her faith, she isn’t quite sure how to use it and how far it stretches. Her past experiences have caused her to become pessimistic, closed-off, and distant. Part of getting to know Austin all over again is just the first step in a journey toward a more authentic relationship with Christ. 

Alexis: What was your greatest challenge in writing this story? Explain. 

Jessica: Oh, boy. That’s a great question. My greatest challenge was finding the right way to tell Natalie and Austin’s story, if that makes sense. This was a story that God cultivated in my heart over the years, stirring up ideas and details until I could see the vision clearly. My biggest problem was that I was an amateur writer when I first started writing The Road to Austin. I had only one novella out and I was still learning the ropes of fiction. I knew I wanted this story to live up to its fullest potential and I wasn’t giving up on it until the readers could see the story that the Lord had put on my heart.

It took me nearly two years to write this one and I learned A LOT with it. Austin and Natalie were definitely Guiney pigs there for a while. There are probably close to a hundred scenes that I had to take out and rewrite because I wasn’t quite sure of what words to use in order to capture the vision that had been swirling around in my mind. Now that it’s all said and done, I couldn’t be happier with the final story. It’s awe-inspiring, even to its author. 

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember about The Road to Austin? Why? 

Jessica: When readers put down the book after the final chapter, I want them to return to reality remembering that their lives are beautiful. That they have what it takes to overcome the challenges they face in their life. I want them to remember that there is always hope – it never runs out and never expires.

For the ladies, the next time you feel not good enough or unworthy, I hope you hear Austin’s voice telling you that you’re beautiful just the way you are. For the guys (if I have any guy readers) I hope you hear Natalie’s voice telling you to never give up. 

Alexis: If you could spend one day with Natalie, what would you do? Why? 

Jessica: Why does that question make me nervous? I think I would go shopping with her and talk over coffee. She would be so much fun to hang out with because of her snarky yet accepting attitude. I would love to spend time looking through her pictures of Texas landscapes and getting to know her favorite spots. And then I would HAVE to have dinner at her house so I could meet Austin because how could I not want to meet Austin? 

Alexis: Complete this sentence: When I was writing about Natalie and Austin’s journey on the road to Austin (Texas), I thought _­___________________ because _________________________.

Jessica: When I was writing about Natalie and Austin’s journey on the road to Austin (Texas), I thought, this story is changing my perspective on life because getting to see things through Natalie and Austin’s eyes teaches me how to be the light in a world of darkness. 

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Jessica! Would you like to share closing thoughts? 

Jessica: For readers who found themselves falling in love with Austin and Natalie, I have great news! They have one more book! Set to release next summer. Visit my website at and sign up for my newsletter and don’t forget to stop by my Facebook page and connect with me at

Thanks so much for having me, Alexis. This was tons of fun! I hope I don’t talk too much. 


Author's Bio: 
Jessica Alyse is a Louisiana girl with a heart for Texas. 

A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, she has a passion for storytelling, romance, and Jesus Christ. 

When she’s not writing, you can find her bookbinding, daydreaming about the day her stories are adapted into movies, or in the event of a football game, cheering for the Green Bay Packers. 

Blurb for The Road to Austin

Natalie Hallie is a woman on a mission.

She needs to get home in time for her sister’s wedding.

Austin Brooks is a man of spontaneity. And he needs coffee.

To get to Austin, Texas, Natalie refuses to step foot on a plane. She'd rather accept a ride from the reckless and wild boy from her childhood who, in her opinion, hasn't changed all that much. If she can just get through three days of his witty commentary and cheesy jokes, then life will return to normal. That is, if bad eggs, thieving monkeys, a tornado, a dilapidated motel, and a stolen truck don't do her in first.

The world looks better in watercolor. Or so Austin believes. He finds it easier not to take life so seriously, unlike Natalie. Things change when they spend three days together and her long-buried feelings start to surface. That’s when Austin finds himself getting serious…about praying for Natalie’s heart.

On a journey where the skies aren’t always blue, graffiti isn't always illegal, and bathroom breaks aren't always a good idea, the past starts to catch up with them. When secrets of her brother's death, Austin's past, and Natalie's family begin to come to light, they'll learn there's more to life and love on the road to Austin.

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