Tag Archives: Author Interview

Sarah Loudin Thomas – Author Spotlight


Thank you for joining me for this exciting Author Spotlight!

First, a bit about Sarah:

Sarah Loudin Thomas grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, WV, the seventh generation to live there. Her Christian fiction is set in West Virginia and celebrates the people, the land, and the heritage of Appalachia. Her first novel, Miracle in a Dry Season, released August 2014 through Bethany House. Book #2, Until the Harvest, released May 2015. Sarah is represented by Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Literary Agency.

A graduate of Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC, Sarah once dreamed of being a marine scientist. But her love for words won out and she has spent much of her career in public relations and marketing. She currently oversees fundraising and communications for a Christian children’s home in Black Mountain, NC.

Sarah and her husband Jim live in the mountains of Western North Carolina with Thistle – the canine equivalent to a personal trainer pushing them to hike, run, and throw sticks. Sarah is active in her local church and enjoys cooking and – you guessed it – reading.


Until The Harvest – RT Book Reviews Top Pick – 4.5 starsTweet this!



Now for my interview with Sarah:

1) Have you always wanted to write? Do you use an outline for your stories?

I’ve always wanted to write, but it’s only in the past decade that I got the urge to write novels. They always seemed so LONG! But once you finish a 100,000 word manuscript and realize it’s possible, it seems less monumental. As for outlining, my outline pretty much fits on half a page of paper. I know where I want to begin, where I think I’m headed, and some key plot points. I write so I can find out what happens next. If I already knew, what fun would that be?


2) How does it feel being a published author? Have you encountered any surprises along the way to being published?

It feels AMAZING! I have to stop every now and again and remind myself I really do have books in print. It seems too wonderful to believe. At the same time, it really didn’t change my life as much as I thought it would. Authors are so accessible now and so many writers are “published” in some fashion, I think it makes it feel like less of a big deal to people. There are even some people <GASP> who don’t read.


3) Do you have a folder or a file where you keep future ideas for stories or do you just come up with all of your ideas after a suggestion from your editor/agent/friends?

Thus far it hasn’t been hard to come up with ideas. I grew up in such a rich, storytelling environment that all I have to do is think about family stories and take my pick! Right now I’m itching to write about a WV coal miner who barely survives a cave in (which happened to my great Uncle Harry). Of course, I take VAST liberties, just using family stories to seed my writing.


4) How do you find time for everything… writing, family, church, friends, etc.

I don’t! Something has to give. I think I’ve found a pretty decent balance, but I often have to make hard choices and say “no” to things I might LIKE to do but choose to give up for writing. Not having children makes writing possible. I have to say, I have a deep respect for writer moms!


5) Have you attended any writer retreats, conferences and the like? Do you think they are necessary – or helpful – for your writing?

You’ve hit on one of my favorite topics! Conferences and retreats are PRICELESS! I don’t think I would have been published if not for all the wonderful feedback I got at conferences and through contest critiques. If you’re a beginning writer, get to a conference ASAP! And let people read your stuff. Critiques can be tough, but for me it was the BEST way to learn.


6) What are you working on now? Is there another genre you are interested in writing?

I’m about to turn in book #3 in the Appalachian Blessings series. This one will be set in a more modern day and features Perla’s granddaughter as my heroine. Readers will finally learn what happened that summer Perla got pregnant with Sadie before she wasn’t married. As for genres, I say I write Appalachian Romance and I’m very happy doing so!


7) Many best-selling authors are self-publishing novels… would you consider self-publishing? What advantages/disadvantages do you think there would be in self-publishing?

For me, traditional publishing was the way to go simply because I don’t have the time to invest in the hard work of really high quality self-publishing. The editing, designing, marketing, distribution, and so on. I understand friends who do it because they want tighter control of the finished product and don’t want to wait on a publishers timeframe, but I hope to stick with the traditional route for the time being.


Here is Sarah’s book list:

Appalachian SerenadeAppalachian Serenade: A Novella
Delilah Morrissey has always wanted to be a mother, but when she becomes a young widow, that dream now seems farther away than ever. Unable to continue to live alone in Chicago, her only option is to accept her sister’s offer to move in with her family back in West Virginia. Will Delilah have the faith to pursue a new dream–even if it means giving up the old?

Download FREE at Amazon or Barnes & Noble.

Includes an excerpt of Miracle in a Dry Season, the first full-length novel in the Appalachian Blessings series–a book New York Times bestselling author Debbie Macomber called, “Wonderful, simply wonderful.”



Novel #1Miracle in a Dry Season – Released Aug. 5, 2014
It’s 1954 and Perla Long’s arrival in the sleepy town of Wise, West Virginia, was supposed to go unnoticed. She just wants a quiet, safe place for her and her daughter, Sadie, where the mistakes of her past can stay hidden. But then drought comes to Wise, and Perla is pulled into the turmoil of a town desperately in need of a miracle.

Casewell Phillips has resigned himself to life as a bachelor…until he meets Perla. She’s everything he’s sought in a woman, but he can’t get past the sense that she’s hiding something. As the drought worsens, Perla’s unique gift divides the town in two, bringing both gratitude and condemnation, and placing the pair in the middle of a storm of anger and forgiveness, fear and faith.

“Once in a while a new author comes along with a work that makes you sit up and take notice. Thomas has crafted a tale of this proportion.” – Library Journal starred review

  • Selah Award nominee
  • Inspy Award nominee
  • Christian Retailing’s Best Award nominee


Until the HarvestUntil the Harvest – Releasing May 2015 – Continue the Phillips’ family saga with Casewell & Perla’s son Henry.

When a family tragedy derails Henry Phillips’s college studies, he’s left unmoored and feeling abandoned. Although Henry tries to find escape in bad company, the only things that can tamp down his anger and grief are the family farm, his fiddle, and sweet but unusual pre-teen Mayfair Hoffman.

Unfortunately, Mayfair’s older sister, Margaret, with the freckles and cute, turned-up nose, has the opposite effect. Worse, she’s his grandmother’s housekeeper and helper, so she’s always around and ready to push his buttons. At first he thinks she doesn’t care about his loss, before beginning to understand she’s facing her own struggles. Mayfair’s health and unique gift sit at the heart of those worries, and Henry and Margaret soon find themselves relying on each other as both Henry’s future and Mayfair’s life are put at risk.

This followup story will delight readers of Thomas’ previous novel, but, it reads perfectly as a standalone as well. RT Book Reviews Top Pick – 4.5 stars



The Secret of Being Content
Ella Phillips’ life is just about perfect—until her fiancé leaves her for another woman. She keeps the truth from her family for months, fearing they’ll see her as a failure. But when her beloved Grandma Perla suffers a stroke and can’t speak, Ella rushes home to help. She’s always had a knack for understanding pre and non-verbal communication, so she confesses her secret and stays to help nurse her grandmother. Of course, Pastor Richard Goodwin and handsome Davis Markley make her choice a little easier.

Perla Phillips has carried a secret since she was eighteen years old. While family and friends know her oldest child, Sadie, was born out of wedlock in 1949, no one knows the father’s name. Perla sees her granddaughter struggling for perfection and decides to share her secret so that Ella will know God can use even the biggest mistakes for good. But before she can reveal what happened during the summer of 1948, she has a stroke.

Sadie Phillips adored her stepfather and never wanted him or her mother to know she secretly longed to find out who her real father was. When she realizes Perla could die without revealing his name, she determines to discover the truth. Still single and nearing retirement, she takes a sabbatical from work to nurse her mother and dig for secrets.

Three generations of women carry secrets. Will they have the courage to share their hearts with one another? Or will the truth remain buried forever?



Thank You Sarah… and God bless you!

Today’s the last day to enter Sarah’s GIVEAWAY contest!

Sarah Loudin Thomas Marathon | Giveaway!


God bless you!


© 2015 DJ Mynatt

Melanie Dickerson – Author Spotlight


Thank you for joining me for this exciting Author Spotlight!

First, a bit about Melanie.


Melanie Dickerson is an award-winning author who earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama.

She has taught in Georgia, Tennessee, Germany and the Eastern European country of Ukraine. 

A member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA), she now spends her time writing and taking care of her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama.

She has won several awards, including the Carol Award, The Holt Medallion Award of Merit, and the National Readers Choice Award for her debut novel: “The Healer’s Apprentice” . 


Here is my interview with Melanie:

1) Do you find that writing under a deadline takes the fun out of writing? How do you deal with that? Any special snacks you like to have handy?

I actually like writing under a deadline! Deadlines help me focus and stay motivated. I can do so much more when I know I HAVE to get it done! But if I start to panic and the fear creeps in, I just pray and say, “God, I know you have this worked out. You gave me these contracts and you’ll give me the available time to get these books done.” And that helps.

As for snacks, I drink a lot of green tea! I especially like coconut flavored green tea, which is kind of hard to find. I stock up when I find it. I also like dark chocolate when I’m writing, especially Lindt dark chocolate truffles. They give me that tiny burst of caffeine and whatever it is in chocolate that makes you feel good. (Ladies, you KNOW what I’m sayin’.) And I like Snapea Crisps. Have you ever had those? I recently discovered them and they are so addicting!


2) Do you attend writer retreats, conferences and the like? Do you think they’re necessary – or helpful – for your writing?

I have never been to a writer retreat, although that sounds like fun. However, I’d probably talk the whole time and get very little writing done! I love conferences, but now that I’m published, and since I have plenty of contracts to fulfill at the moment, and since I have such an amazingly competent agent in Natasha Kern, conferences aren’t really necessary for me right now. (Although I do love to socialize at conferences! Love my writer friends.)

I do teach at one or two conferences a year, which is also fun. Writers conferences are great places to learn and network, but there are a lot of other ways to learn the craft of writing a novel that are a lot less expensive. Books on writing, and writing websites and blogs are wonderful ways to learn. Also, there are lots of great organizations online where you can get advice, as well as “meet up with” critique partners. Also, entering contests and getting feedback from judges is a wonderful way to hone your skills as a writer. I would highly recommend all these ahead of attending a conference. Although, going to conferences is also a good thing to do, in moderation, and if you can afford it.


3) Do you have a folder or a file where you keep future ideas for stories or do you just come up with all of your ideas after a suggestion from your editor/agent/friends?

I do have a file for story ideas, but there’s basically nothing in it! I also have a list somewhere (not sure I could find it!) of fairy tales that I might like to turn into novels someday. But I have basically been just coming up with story ideas as I need them, i.e. when I’m writing proposals. And no, I don’t have any unused proposals lying around. The only planned series I’m NOT working on is the one set in Alabama in the 1800’s. That one has been put on hold for now.


4) In The Healer’s Apprentice, most of the married people had never experienced true love… how true to real life do you think this occurs? Do you personally know couples who have married for reasons other than love?

I think you are referring to a line in The Healer’s Apprentice where Rose cynically says that she had never experienced love, but most married people didn’t either, or something like that. But I was trying to play up the rarity of true love, as well as Rose’s cynicism. In Medieval times, marrying for love was not the norm. People married for various other reasons. In my lifetime, I’ve never really known any couples who didn’t marry for love. Whether that love lasts is another story.


5) In The Merchant’s Daughter, Annabel’s own mother and brothers don’t treat her with love or respect… did you write this from imagination or from real life?

All of my books are written both from my imagination and from my own experiences. We all experience painful moments—rejection, mistreatment, triumph, jealousy, love, hate, etc. We writers use those emotions and experiences to color our stories. I don’t write directly from my own experiences, but indirectly.


6) Many best-selling authors, including Vannetta Chapman, Amanda Flower, Tricia Goyer and Shelley Grey are self-publishing novels… would you consider self-publishing? What advantages/disadvantages do you think there would be in self-publishing?

There are many pros and cons to self-publishing. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to self-publish an out of print book, as well as a new book that you haven’t found a publisher for. Someday I could see myself self-publishing something, certainly. But since I have never done it, I can’t really speak to the advantages and disadvantages. It is definitely a viable option in this day and age of digital publishing!


7) What are you working on now? Are there other genres you are interested in writing?

I am working on the first Regency romance in a new series, and I’m really excited about it! I’ve been writing Medieval romances for so long, but I love Regencies too, and it’s been fun to explore a new setting, with all its own rules and parameters. I also would like to write books set in the Deep South in the late 1800’s. That’s my other favorite setting. But it’s hard to imagine myself writing anything that’s not a romance. The romance is what makes a book exciting! I’m just a romantic at heart.

My first book geared toward adults is the romantic Medieval mash-up of Robin Hood and Swan Lake, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest, releasing May 12th with Thomas Nelson Publishers. The second book in that series, The Beautiful Pretender, releases next spring.

My Rapunzel story, also a Medieval romance, The Golden Braid, releases in November.

My first Regency romance, tentatively titled A Spy’s Devotion, is set to release in February of 2016.

Readers can catch up to me on facebook, https://www.facebook.com/MelanieDickersonBooks, twitter, https://twitter.com/melanieauthor and my website, http://www.melaniedickerson.com/

Here is Melanie’s book list:

The Healer’s Apprentice (Hagenheim Castle #1)
The Merchant’s Daughter (should be read before The Princess Spy)
The Fairest Beauty (Hagenheim Castle #2)
The Captive Maiden (Hagenheim Castle #3)
The Princess Spy (Hagenheim Castle #4)
The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest (Thornbeck Castle #1)


Thank You Melanie… and God bless you!

Today’s the last day to enter Melanie’s GIVEAWAY contest!

Melanie Dickerson Marathon | Giveaway!


God bless you!


© 2015 DJ Mynatt

Mary Ellis – Author Spotlight


Thank you for joining me for this exciting — and emotional — Author Spotlight!

First, a bit about Mary.

Mary EllisMary Ellis grew up close to the eastern Ohio Amish, where her parents took her to farmers markets and woodworking fairs. She loved their peaceful lifestyle, respect for the land, and strong sense of Christian community. She met her husband in college and they married six days after graduation. They now live close to the largest population of Amish in the country — a four-county area in central Ohio. They often take weekend trips to purchase produce, research her best-selling books, and enjoy a simpler way of life. She was re-baptized by immersion four years ago and committed her life to Christ.

Mary enjoys reading, traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught Middle School and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate for twenty years — a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits.

All three of her Miller Family series, A Widow’s Hope, Never Far from Home, and The Way to a Man’s Heart made the Christian bestseller lists. A Widow’s Hope was a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards for 2010 in the long contemporary category, and a runner-up in the 2010 Holt Medallion Awards. An Amish Family Reunion released in Feb. 2012 and made the CBA & EPCA bestseller lists. She is currently working on something new… Secrets of the South Mysteries series. The first, Midnight on the Mississippi, will be available in August.


Here is my interview with Mary:

1) Have you always wanted to write?

I have always been a voracious reader and storyteller. I believe my desire to write fiction grew from my storytelling. I’ve never been able to explain anything in less than a thousand words.

2) Do you use an outline for your stories?

Yes, I do. Once I work a story out in my head, I construct a loose skeletal framework. Although it’s subject to change during the writing process, I use the outline to keep the story on track and help with pacing.

3) Do you attend writer retreats, conferences and the like?

Yes, I usually attend one national conference a year, sometimes two. I’m in a local ACFW chapter that has regular meetings, field trips, coffee hours, and yearly retreats at a cabin in the woods. So I’m never too far away from like-minded authors.

4) You first published Amish romances… then Civil War romances. Is there a story behind the different genres? Which do you prefer to write? Is there another genre you’d like to see published some day?

Both of those genres grew from lifelong passions of mine. I’ve been around the Amish and respectful of their culture since childhood. My interest in American history, the Civil War in particular, began when a teacher told our second grade class about Clara Barton. I’ve studied both ever since.

My favorite books to read are romantic suspense. I’m writing a series of mysteries set in the South now. The first will released this August, Midnight on the Mississippi.

5) What do you do to relax? Do you have any favorite hobbies?

I love to read, walk my dog, work in the yard, and ride my bike. But my favorite hobby is swimming. I would stay in the water sixteen hours a day if I could. I wish I lived closer to the ocean!

6) I love your Civil War series… and I rejoiced when Lewis won Nora’s heart in Love Comes to Paradise… but I have to admit that of all the couples in all the novels, Hannah and Seth are most decidedly my favorite!

… Feisty Hannah, trying so hard to help her sister, yet getting on her brother-in-law’s bad side at every turn; then his own angst over his brother Seth wanting to court Hannah! Oh my, what a marvelous story – and I find myself smiling just thinking about them. Do you have a favorite character… or novel?

Thanks for your kind words about my characters. But if I had to pick and choose (and you know it’s hard for a mother to pick one over the others!) it would be Meghan, from A Marriage for Meghan. I am a former schoolteacher who remembers what that first year of teaching was like. It’s tough to be not much older than the students, with little experience under your belt to provide confidence.

7) You’ve recently written a couple of novellas… Do you enjoy writing novellas? Are they more or less work? Do you think they help to bring you new readers?

I love writing novellas! Yes, I suppose they’re less work since they’re much shorter stories. But I still set up my outline, plan my scenes, and establish strong characters before I write a single sentence. Yes, I believe they do bring new readers, since someone might have read one of my cohort’s books, but none of mine yet. It’s also fun to collaborate with other Amish fiction authors on theme and continuing story threads.

Here is my book list:


A Widow’s Hope (book one of Miller Family series)
Never Far From Home (book two of Miller Family series)
The Way to a Man’s Heart (book three of Miller Family series)
An Amish Family Reunion (stand alone, but some consider it book 4 of Miller Family series)

Abigail’s New Hope (book one of Wayne County series)
A Marriage for Megan (book two of Wayne County series)

Sarah’s Christmas Miracle (novella)
A Plain Man (stand alone)

Living in Harmony (book one of New Beginnings series)
Love Comes to Paradise (book two of New Beginnings series)
A Little Bit of Charm (book three of New Beginnings series)
Always In My Heart -found in: An Amish Miracle (anthology of 3 novellas)

Historical Romance:

The Quaker and the Rebel (book one of Civil War Heroine series)
The Lady and the Officer (book two of Civil War Heroine series)
The Last Heiress (book 3 of Civil War Heroine series) available now

Romantic Suspense:

Midnight on the Mississippi (book one of Secrets of the South mysteries) coming Summer/Fall of 2015
What Happened on Beale Street (book two of Secrets of the South mysteries) coming Winter of 2016


Thank You Mary… and God bless you!

Today’s the last day to enter Mary’s GIVEAWAY contest!

Mary Ellis Marathon | Giveaway!


God bless you!


Copyright © 2013-2015 DJ Mynatt

Ruth Reid – Author Spotlight

Thank you for joining me for this exciting — and emotional — Author Spotlight!

First, a bit about Ruth.

Early years
I grew up in Northern Michigan an introverted child who observed more than participated. I was the type of kid who if a sign read wet paint, I had to touch it to see if it was wet.

I spent many school hours daydreaming, mostly about horses. Coaxed by my teacher to submit a short story to the Young Authors Writing Contest, I wrote, A Dream to Remember, about a girl who daydreamed about wild horses.

That contest opened my eyes to daydream with a purpose. After that, my endless imagination was limited only by how fast I could write, and sometimes I stayed up late at night writing by flashlight to finish a story.

Although the desire to write had been planted years ago, it lay dormant while I gained life experiences.

I attended Ferris State University School of Pharmacy, in Big Rapids, Michigan where I met my husband, Dan, who was a native Floridian. We married, moved to a small town in Florida, and had three children. (Lexie, Danny, and Sarah).

Writing became a source of peace.
When my son, Danny, was born, life took an unexpected twist. This wasn’t a mere bend or bump in the road—he was born in liver failure. I’ll never forget the day I paced my kitchen floor. I hadn’t ever experienced anxiety—didn’t even recognize the classic symptoms. I was sweating, out of breath, couldn’t focus—couldn’t pray.

The only prayers that came to mind were the generic ones said before eating or at bedtime.

Drained of my own strength, I lifted my hands in the air and asked God to forgive me for not knowing how to pray for my son. At that moment, I experienced God’s peace, which surpasses all comprehension as described in Philippians 4:6-7.

As part of renewing my mind while I waited for Danny to receive a liver transplant, I studied the Bible and wrote devotionals.

During the nine months Danny waited on the National Organ Transplant list for a suitable donor, my faith was tested. However, through it all, God’s peace never failed. I believe because I was determined to have unbendable faith, God showed me miracles. I’ve seen things that as a health professional, I shake my head, but as a believer, I raise my hand and shout “Amen!”

My first attempt at writing a novel
After finishing my first 100,000 word manuscript, I bought the book, The 38 Most Common Fiction Mistakes (and how to avoid them) by Jack Bickham. My book had 36 of the mistakes listed. At least, I knew enough not to pursue an agent with it—or—hold on to it so tight that I would spend years trying to fix it. A clean page was the answer. I tossed that book in the closet and started something different.

(One day, I’ll pull it out and add a synopsis where the main character dies in a car chase for no apparent reason, and call it a complete failure since it will have all the elements of an unsuccessful novel.)

The next book came after several bawling sessions with God over computer problems. When I finally dried my eyes, I sat down and wrote a book in eight weeks. That one I liked, and it was clean of the 38 common fiction errors, so I started my search for an agent.

I found Mary Sue Seymour in a Writer’s Digest article. She was one of the agents listed who accepted new authors. My husband told me I was wasting money on the magazine, assuming she wouldn’t accept my unsolicited manuscript. He was wrong. That was the best $5.99 I had ever spent.

Not long after signing with the Seymour Agency, I sold my first book, A Promise of an Angel to Thomas Nelson.

My interest with Amish
The simplicity of the Amish lifestyle has intrigued me for years. While attending college at Ferris State University in Big Rapids, Michigan, I lived with retired dairy farmers and had the opportunity to meet many of the Amish in the area. I’ll never forget skipping classes one day to watch a barn raising. I was amazed at the craftsmanship without use of power tools. I’m still intrigued today. I love learning about their firm devotion to God and to each other. I’m blessed for the friendships formed in the process of writing my books.

Things you might not know about me.
• My first purchase upon graduation from pharmacy school was a dog. I named him Zoloft, in memory of the answer to the last question on the last test in pharmacy school.
• While my brother was living in Colorado, I sold his car for $15. (after asking the buyer if he required a title.) I broke the news to Paul over the phone as, “Oh, by the way…”
• When I worked for an ambulance service, I was often teased that my run reports were as long and detailed as a novel.

Want to know why Ruth Reid writes Amish fiction?Tweet this!



Woodland Miracle – Book 2 in the Amish Wonders series.

For a disadvantaged young woman and a displaced young man, a lasting love is going to take more than chance — it’s going to take a miracle.

Muscle weakness has left Grace Wagler with a broken body — and her childhood best friend has left her with a broken heart. She can hold her own in the timber camp (and do everything else the other women in Badger Creek can do), but in an Amish district where women outnumber men three to one, marriage is an unlikely prospect for a girl with bad legs.

Ben Eicher just arrived in Michigan from Pinecraft, Florida. When his most recent shenanigans proved too much for his daed’s patience, Ben was sent to the Upper Peninsula to work in the lumber camp — and he’s neither proud of his behavior nor thrilled about his new home.

But when Ben meets Grace, the struggling young woman quickly piques his curiosity. Of course, the last thing Grace wants is another friendship with a man who pities her. Tired of physical pain and romantic dead ends, Grace is ready to leave Badger Creek for the muscle specialist in Ohio, even if it contradicts her father’s wishes… and Ben’s.

Meanwhile, two dangerous men have found their way into the district. It isn’t long before their unsavory plans ensnare Grace and Ben in a chase that will not only endanger their lives… but test their love.

Released January 2015!



Her Christmas Pen Pal – A novella in the collaboration An Amish Second Christmas

Joy was expecting a wedding proposal from Henry; what she got instead was news of another woman.

But when her heartfelt letter to a cousin ends up in the hands of a young cabinetmaker, an unexpected correspondence between two strangers gets interesting fast…

When Joy Stolzfus’ boyfriend tells her he wants to court other women, she’s shocked. She pours her heart out in a letter, but it mistakenly reaches Noah Esh.

The two begin writing letters back and forth, but a misunderstanding threatens to topple the relationship they’re building.

Released October 2014!




Here is my interview with Ruth:

1)    Have you always wanted to write?

Yes, I started writing short stories in grade school, entered my first writing contest (The Young Authors Contest) and wrote various stories throughout school. Although while attending pharmacy school, I took a detour from fiction writing and became more of a technical writer.


2)    Do you use an outline for your stories?

Only when I get stuck and have to brainstorm with a writer friend of mine to figure out how to get my characters out of the hole I put them in.


3)    Do you attend writer retreats, conferences and the like?

I try to attend at least one a year.

      Do you think they’re necessary for your writing?

I always leave feeling as though I’ve learned something, but I tend to go now more to network with other authors.


4)    Is there a special reason that you chose to add angels and demons to your Amish series?

I thought doing a series on angels and Amish would make for an interesting combination.


5)    Do you know someone who’s had an encounter with an angel?

When my son was in preschool, he came home one day feeling sad. When I asked what was bothering him, his reply broke my heart. None of the other kids wanted to hold his hand during circle time. Danny was born in liver failure and had undergone a liver transplant at the age of nine months. He was immune compromised from the anti-rejection meds he was taking and warts had started taking over his hands, arms and elbows. I had tried everything—even wrestling him down to put duct tape on the warts. I couldn’t get rid of them.

I took him to several doctors, tried some homeopathic ointments, had him prayed for in church, but nothing worked. Every time I would get rid of one, five would show up the next day. So it made sense that the other kids were afraid to hold his hands; his sand-papery palms and gnarly knuckles were enough to frighten anyone.

I told him if he wanted to get rid of the warts, he needed to ask Jesus to heal him.

At the same time he was praying, “Dear Jesus, I don’t want these warts anymore. You can take them away now.” I was praying, “Lord, you know I’ve been praying about this over a year. You know how hard I tried to get rid of them. Oh, please, God don’t let him lose his child-like faith.”

After the prayer ended, I told Danny that he needed to believe, meanwhile guilt gnawed at me for overwhelming unbelief I was battling.

Danny’s response was, “Yah, that’s what Jesus told me, too.”

“He spoke to you?” I asked.

“He sat on my bed next to me and told me to pray and then believe.”

My arms prickled with Goosebumps. But doubting Thomas (me) had to ask my husband if he had ever sat with Danny in his bedroom late at night talking about his warts or did he ever tell him how sad he was about the other kids not holding his hands. My husband hadn’t. He wasn’t even aware Danny was upset. I remember going to bed that night wondering if Danny had been in the presence of Jesus, an angel, or if it were all a dream.

A few days later, I reached for his hand as we were walking across the parking lot. I felt nothing. I stopped abruptly and inspected his hand, turning it over, pushing up his shirt sleeve to search his arm, his elbow.

As I reached for his other hand, he said, “They’re gone too.”

Anyone who has struggled with removing a wart knows how difficult it is and also how they will usually leave a mark on the skin. Danny’s hands, arms, and elbows were perfectly smooth, not a mark on them. When I say he was covered in warts, I had counted over fifty warts — just on one hand — and I couldn’t even count them all because he would never stand still long enough.

I was astounded. All I could say was, “Danny!”

“Yah, now the kids will hold my hand during circle time.”

The Holy Spirit left this impression with me: Danny had child-like faith, he simply prayed and believed. Exactly what we as children of God are expected to do. While I, prayed (more than a year) and worked hard (over a year) to get rid of the warts. My efforts failed. In frustration, I believed my faith failed. All the while, God was waiting for me to let go — and rest in Him.

To this day, I’m convinced Danny had an encounter with Jesus or perhaps an angel, who he thought was an angel. The hairs on my arm are standing on end as I write this.


6)    I loved reading about Katie, Seth and Amos in An Angel by Her Side; with an angel’s help, they overcame their troubles. Have you ever felt like a being is whispering good – or bad – thoughts around you?

I think I’m hammered with positive-uplifting thoughts and negative-harmful thoughts all day long. It’s learning who to listen too. Every good gift is from God—all other thoughts should be cast aside. Yes, I know. It’s easier said than done. Sometimes I imagine myself running a race—trying to catch up to Paul’s faith.


7)    In A Miracle of Hope, Lindie and Josiah could have been in a real pickle, had they both decided to keep to their original promise. Most readers would have expected their original problems to be the only plot in the story… How do you come up with such interesting subplots?

I ask myself a lot… what if? . . .


8)    You’ve recently written a couple of novellas… Do you enjoy writing novellas? Are they more or less work?  Do you think they help to bring you new readers?

I find writing novellas as much work as full-lengths. True, they are shorter stories, but they still require the same story-telling elements. I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great authors who I truly admire. It’s been a lot of fun interacting with the authors and their fans when the books come out, so I would say yes, being part of a collection does help bring new readers.


9)    What are you working on now? Is there another genre you are interested in writing?

Currently, I’m working on a Christmas novella for 2015. Unexpected Joy will be part of the Amish Gift anthology. I’m also working on the third book in the Amish Wonders series, which is currently untitled and due to be released in 2016.


Thanks for having me on your blog, Donna! I really enjoyed talking with you.
Check out Ruth Reid’s Latest releases!Tweet this!


Thank You Ruth, and God bless you!


Click HERE to visit Ruth’s website for updates and info, HERE for her Facebook page, HERE for Twitter and HERE for her Author page on GoodReads!



THANK YOU for joining me for this very special AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT!

Don’t forget to check back or follow my blog to see new reviews — next month will be dedicated to another of my favorite authors! It’s going to be a very full month because she has lots of fantastic books. You won’t want to miss a single post!


Today’s the last day to enter Ruth’s GIVEAWAY contest!

Ruth Reid Marathon | Giveaway!


God bless you!


Copyright © 2013-2015 donnasbookshelf.

Aynne Cynar – Author Spotlight

Thank you for joining me for this special Author Spotlight!

First, a bit about Aynne from her website.

I’m happy you’re here! Women love relationships.

The focus of my ministry is to the mature woman who has experienced deep changes within precious relationships. Change around us forces us to change within. Sometimes it is helpful to share the journey with others who understand and have made the transition into a new, successful role. As mature gals, we are on a path to redefine ourselves now that the parameters we used in our youth no longer apply.

Writing gives me a platform to speak to you!

Through devotions or fiction, the message remains the same. It’s not about us, is it? It’s about our wonderful Savior and how He works His plan in the world through us. Our trials are a cavern to walk through into His loving arms where we will always find grace and mercy to help in our time of need.

Retired from healthcare, I have the opportunity to reflect on all the women I cared for in their times of need. I’m currently a ladies Bible study leader. For over thirty years I’ve sat in front of a class and know there is much more to learn! One thing I know for sure—His Word is true and the foundation for what I hope to share with you as a reader.


Change around us forces us to change within – Aynne CynarCLICK TO TWEET!


And here is my interview with Aynne:

Have you always wanted to write? Do you use an outline for your stories?

Like most authors, yes! I remember writing on my mom’s black Underwood typewriter she kept in our basement. The stories were so scary to I used to run up the stairs when I’d get overwhelmed by the plot.

I like to use sticky notes in a lined notebook. I write out my ideas for a scene and move them around as the story unfolds. There’s a general outline in my head, but as the characters come alive and start misbehaving the plot has to change accordingly.

How does it feel being a published author? Have you encountered any surprises along the way to being published?

As a self-published author, the surprises center on meeting all the goals along the way. Encountering the contracted professionals, some in person and some only online, has been delightful and rewarding. I wish I had all the skills to design and format but I am so thankful to have found others who are adept. And, and editor is one of those things like teeth cleaning. You gotta do it.

Do you have a folder or a file where you keep future ideas for stories or do you just come up with ideas after a suggestion from your editor, agent, or friends?

Notebooks are my passion. I keep one (almost) everywhere. I am ashamed to say I have pulled out the small one I keep in my purse in the middle of church to jot down ideas.

How do you find time for everything…writing, family, church, friends, etc.

I ask the Lord every day to help me. That’s my most common condensed version of my prayer life: help me, Lord! My mom was ill for twelve years and I have no idea how I have done anything. I am a retired nurse and worked when she first got ill. Looking back, it’s only God’s grace and love that got me through. And the wonderful thing is He is so limitless and the future holds His same provisions. I’ve taught Sunday school for over thirty years. Planning is essential.

I live by the motto: if you fail to plan you plan to fail. But don’t think I always hit it spot on. Thankfully, we have a Lord who helps us start over. And over. And over…

Have you attended any writer retreats, conferences, and the like? Do you think they are necessary for your writing?

Writer’s conferences are wonderful places to network and learn the craft. I attended the Writing for the Soul conference (Jerry Jenkins) this past summer in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. To have met Jerry and Cecil Murphy in person was a thrill! I found my print-on-demand company at that conference. My editor was a terrific find at the Kentucky Christian Writer’s Conference. Funny thing…neither of us ended up being able to go (my mom was hospitalized) but she offered her services to attendees. How fortunate for me.

How often do you travel? Where do you go? Who do you travel with? What is your favorite vacation spot?

Since I am still a caregiver for my ninety year old father, my trips are infrequent. He is able to travel more now that neither of us has to care for Mom, and we might hit the road! I have family in Michigan, New Orleans, and Myrtle Beach. If I go anywhere, it’s usually to see them. I love the ocean but don’t want to live there after seeing what my family in the Gulf has been through.

Actually, my home is my favorite vacation spot. Living at the base of the Cumberland Mountains allows me a glorious view of the handiwork of our creative Savior.

What are you working on now? Is there another genre you are interested in writing?

Self-editing is my job right now. Book two and three are completed manuscripts but not editor ready. I hope to finish the series out with a fourth: End with Faith. My protagonist comes full circle. The intended audience is the “older” Christian woman, a gal probably over fifty and up. I’ve worked with widows, divorcees, and never-married in my teaching ministry and most of their stories are showing up somewhere in Cotton Springs, Kentucky, the fictional town I made up for the Penchak family.

I’ve also written some devotionals and professional articles under my real name. I am hoping to keep the fiction under my pen name, Aynne Cynar. Aynne hopes to start a new series about another middle-aged woman and her journey, but not until she’s done with Kathy. My non-fiction writer would like to write a book about what happens after living a full, barren, childless-not-by-choice life after her caretaker days have ended.

Hey! Thanks so much for allowing me to chat with you, Donna.


Thank You, Aynne… and God bless you!



Here’s a look at what we have to look forward to from Aynne Cynar:

Endure with Hope  (Cotton Springs Series – book #2)

Kathy Penchak left the administrative nursing job at Franklin to participate in the care of her husband after an automobile accident.  His injuries required out-of-state specialty care and the two years traveling between home and the neurological rehabilitation facility come to an end when he’s transferred to a nursing home in their town for hospice care.

His pending death, Libby’s revelation of her pregnancy, and Papa and Sam’s disagreement on forgiveness for the theft of stolen money from the family business collides.

Then, after a patient dies in the emergency room where Kathy’s been working part-time, a disgruntled family member of the deceased emerges as a stalker. God continues to weave Kathy’s life with new surprises as several suitors seek to protect her.

When Papa’s plan for the money unfolds, Kathy and her family are safe and the young son of the stalker becomes a lifelong friend. The cats in Cotton Springs are happier and with the dismal days of loss and betrayal behind her, Kathy knows their trials have been endured with hope by the Lord’s provision and grace.

Don’t miss a look at Aynne Cynar’s NEXT book – Endure With Hope.Tweet this!


And THANK YOU for joining me for this AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT!

Don’t forget to check back or follow my blog to see new reviews —  February will be dedicated to another of my favorite authors… RUTH REID!


Today is the final day to enter Aynne’s GIVEAWAY contest!

Aynne Cynar Marathon | Giveaway!


God bless you!


Copyright © 2013-2015 donnasbookshelf.

Nadine Brandes – Author Spotlight

Thank you for joining me for this Author Spotlight!

First, a bit about Nadine.

My Bio

I learned to write my alphabet with a fountain pen. In Kindergarten. Maybe that’s what started my love for writing. It’s not every day a five-year-old learns the correct rules on dealing with ink splotches, how to hold her pen, or how to replace cartridges before she even understands 1+1=2.

I started journaling at age nine and thus began my habit of communicating via pen and paper more than spoken words. I never decided to become a writer. My brain simply classified it as a necessity to life, like bathing, eating, and sleeping.

Not many people took my writing seriously, so I kept it to myself a very long time. I didn’t share my books with anyone who didn’t seem supportive or bound to love them. Through my Junior year of college, God urged me to pursue a vision behind my writing. The moment I started the pursuit, He provided the vision. My writing has never been the same since and the stories behind how I got where I am are nothing short of miraculous. Yet, even with vision, it took me a long time to grow bold enough to share it with others.

In 2010, I moved to Missouri for graduate school. One autumn evening, a young man approached me at a small game night get-together and said, “I saw you have a blog. I’ve been reading it and… you’re an awesome writer!”

I married him.

Since then, he’s encouraged me practically every day to, “Go write, Honey.” He promoted my writing with unveiled enthusiasm, so I prayed on a little more backbone and forced out author confidence. Surprisingly enough (or is it?), people ended up being a lot more supportive and encouraging than I’d previously imagined them to be. My writing became public and God blessed it.

We now live in a mountainous valley on the border of two states where winter overtakes nine months of the year. Through God’s provision, I am a stay-at-home author, currently working on book two of my dystopian series. The first book, A Time to Die, is contracted with Enclave Publishing, the leading publisher of speculative fiction. (If speculative fiction sounds like a different language to you, read my blog post for a definition.)
Readers can learn more about Nadine at www.nadinebrandes.com or find her on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Pinterest, Google+ and Goodreads.
How would you live if you knew the day you’d die?Tweet this!


And here is my interview with Nadine:

Have you always wanted to write? Do you use an outline for your stories?

Yes! I’ve always wanted to write, but I didn’t think about it as a profession until I got into college. For some reason, prior to that, I’d always seen it as a hobby.

I use a mental outline. For me, once something’s on paper, it feels too permanent and it’s tough to change. So I rarely write out a detailed outline. But, generally, I know where the story needs to go.

How does it feel being a published author? Have you encountered any surprises along the way to being published?

I love it! Writing is my dream and it’s such a blessing to watch my book impact the lives of others. I was really surprised, when I first stepped into the publishing world, at the author community there is. Once I stepped “inside” I met all sorts of authors and they really helped me tackle the process of becoming a published author. I didn’t expect that, but it was a surprise and blessing!

Do you have a folder or a file where you keep future ideas for stories or do you just come up with ideas after a suggestion from your editor, agent, or friends?

I have a whiteboard. That’s not the most fire-proof or accident-proof place to keep my story ideas, but I jot down the title or the “What if” question and whenever I look at it, I know exactly what story would come from that idea.
I don’t think I’ve ever gotten idea from someone else.

How do you find time for everything…writing, family, church, friends, etc.

Confession: I’m still working on time management! [grin] Aside from the things listed above, I also do freelance editing for work. I treat writing and editing like a full-time job and work 9-5 every day, alternating editing and writing days. I’m still able to interact with family, friends, and my church on a fairly normal basis. Then again, my husband and I don’t have kids yet. So I’m sure things will change drastically when that day comes!

Have you attended any writer retreats, conferences, and the like? Do you think they are necessary for your writing?

YES! Big giant neon YES. My top piece of advice I give to aspiring authors is to attend a writing conference. The relationships and classes you take there will completely transform your writing!

How often do you travel? Where do you go? Who do you travel with? What is your favorite vacation spot?

I travel a lot! Hubby and I are fans of road trips, which is a good thing because we road trip to Missouri about three times a year to see his family (a 20-hour trip.) This year (2015), we have a lot of international trips coming up that are ministry related, so we’ll be going to Russia in only a couple weeks! My favorite vacation spot is probably anywhere international. I love discovering new cultures and countries.

What are you working on now? Is there another genre you are interested in writing?

I’m currently working on books 2 and 3 in my dystopian Out of Time series. Book two was just sent in to my publisher for editing while book three is still being written.

Thank you, Donna!

Thank You, Nadine… and God bless you!


And THANK YOU for joining me for this AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT!

Don’t forget to check back or follow my blog to see new reviews —  February will be dedicated to another of my favorite authors!



One Year. One Chance. One dangerous idea. Can Parvin survive her last year?Tweet this!

Watch for book 2 in Nadine’s Out Of Time series!Tweet this!


Today is the final day to enter Nadine’s GIVEAWAY contest!

Nadine Brandes Marathon | Giveaway!


God bless you!


Copyright © 2013-2015 donnasbookshelf.

Angela D. Meyer – Author Spotlight

Thank you for joining me for this very special Author Spotlight!

Angela’s debut novel, Where Hope Starts, was a finalist in the 2013 Grace awards. Her short story, More to the Story, was a genre winner for the 2014 Family Fiction short story contest. She is also a contributor to the devotional collection The Benefit Package. You can catch Angela on social media encouraging women in their faith journey and watch her video devotionals on her YouTube channel. Angela is active in her local Christian writers group, serving on their advisory board.

Now let’s hear from Angela


My Story

I don’t want to land on one part of my story and be just about that. We are all more than the moments. That being said, you will hear bits and pieces, stories of the hurts along the way. Not for the sake of complaining, only for the purpose of understanding, learning, and growing together.

My journey has taken me through the ups and downs in marriage, parenting, homeschooling, teaching, writing, marketing, being a child of God.

Loneliness a familiar companion. Since as long as I can remember I struggled to connect with others. Emotional to a fault and feeling like it was all my fault and I was somehow defective.

Raised in a legalistic household, I felt like I had to be perfect to be enough.

Learning to trust God through 2 miscarriages, messy family relationships and a marriage betrayed by the choices of my husband

I still struggle with how to meet life’s demands. I question whether choices about parenting, homeschooling, writing and marketing which consume so much of life have been the right ones.

Through it all, God has stayed by my side. He continues to pull out the dross inside of me as I learn to live better with the world around me. I can smell the fragrance of grace and hope. A new beginning through the pain and struggles.

My prayer is that together we can learn that when we hold onto Him, there is an end that is not an end. It is hope.


On the Lighter Side

I currently live in Nebraska with my husband of 23 years. We homeschool my daughter and recently graduated my son. I have taught childrens’ Bible classes for over 35 years. I am active in Wordsowers, the local Christian writers group, serving on their advisory board.

I love God, my family, the ocean, good stories, connecting with friends, taking pictures, quiet evenings and a good laugh. Someday I want to ride in a hot air balloon and vacation by the sea.

Our pets round out our family. Lucy is my daughter’s orange tabby. She has green eyes and will jump up in our lap in the blink of an eye. And if we are eating cheesy popcorn we have to guard it tightly.

Ranger is my son’s good natured dog. Breed? Let’s see… part golden retriever and German Shepherd — we were told when we took him in. We think he might have some Newfoundland as well.


Readers can learn more about Angela at http://www.angeladmeyer.com or find her on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube and Goodreads.


What obstacles in your life have you overcome with God’s help?Tweet this!

Angela Meyer writes REAL stories about REAL people – even if they are fiction.Tweet this!

“When we hold onto Him, there is an end that is not an end. It is hope.” ~ Angela D. MeyerTweet this!


And here is my interview with Angela:

Have you always wanted to write?

I’ve always made up stories in my head, although I never had a big dream of being a published author. My writing began as simple journal writing – poems mostly. Then came the inspirational essays. Somewhere in here the idea began to grow that maybe I could be published. Next I dabbled in writing children’s stories and the biggest surprise of all was the novel. I never thought I could maintain a story for that many words!


Do you use an outline for your stories?

I use a loose outline-bullet points of what I want to happen along the way. To make sure the story is fully fleshed out. But my characters have a way of adding to that. I never really know exactly how it will unfold.


How does it feel being a published author? Have you encountered any surprises along the way to being published?

It’s kind of unreal, but I’m starting to get used to it. The biggest surprise is how much time the marketing takes. And exactly what it means to market and build a platform.


Do you have a folder or a file where you keep future ideas for stories or do you just come up with ideas after a suggestion from your editor, agent, or friends?

Ideas come to me at the most random times. At the very least I try and jot them down and stick in a file. Some ideas really stick with me and I’ll take the time to flesh it out a bit more and save it on the computer. Other times, I’ll need a short story for something and I’ll take a couple of hours to stir up ideas-browse through my files, ask myself what if questions or just stare off into space and let my mind wander.


How do you find time for everything… writing, family, church, friends, etc.

I don’t. It’s impossible to always get everything done and spend time with everyone I want to spend time with. When I choose one thing, I usually have to say no to someone or something else. It’s a constant learning process to know what to let go of.  It’s a good thing to learn.

I believe here in America especially, we get this idea in our head that it’s possible to have it all. Then we get stressed out trying to make that impossibility happen. Life is more easily enjoyed when a few things are let go of. It’s like de-cluttering your soul to make room for the really important stuff.


Have you attended any writer retreats, conferences and the like? Do you think they are necessary for your writing?

I have been to a few conferences and enjoyed them all. Beyond the learning, one of the most important benefits from attending a conference is connecting with other authors as well as agents and editors. I think every writer should go at some point. If the larger conferences are not a possibility, find something closer to home, smaller and less expensive. Maybe a one day workshop would be an alternative.


How often do you travel? Where do you go? Who do you travel with? What is your favorite vacation spot?

I don’t get to travel a lot. A part of me would enjoy doing so more, another part of me likes just being home. When I do travel, it is usually with family. Some of the vacation spots I’ve visited over the years include California, Pennsylvania, New England, South Dakota, and Colorado.


What are you working on now? Is there another genre you are interested in writing?

Book 2 in the Applewood Hill series,Where Healing Starts, is under contract and due out in 2016. After I finish my edits for that, I plan to get the 3rd book, Where Joy Starts, written before I start on my next series. I have a couple of ideas for that, and haven’t decided which one I will do.

As far as a different genre goes, I have a couple of files started for stories that are a different genre, a spy novel and a speculative fiction. I think I would like to try a mystery someday, too.


Thank You Angela and God bless you!


And THANK YOU for joining me for this very touching AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT!

Don’t forget to check back or follow my blog to see new reviews — this month I have one more special debut author… and February will be dedicated to another of my favorite authors!



Do not miss Where Hope Starts by Angela D. Meyer!Tweet this!

Watch for book 2 in Angela’s Life at Applewood Hill series!Tweet this!


Today is the final day to enter Angela’s GIVEAWAY contest!

Angela Meyer Marathon | Giveaway!


God bless you!


© Donna J. Mynatt 2015

Holly Michael – Author Spotlight


Thank you for joining me for this Author Spotlight!

About Holly…

I’m a kaleidoscope, twisted and turned by the hand of God through a beautiful life of writing, traveling, and other incredible opportunities. I was a regular freelance ghostwriter and online editor for Guideposts for Teens/Sweet 16 Magazine, creator/editor of a magazine for Wal-Mart Corp., journalist, newspaper features writer, published in a variety of national magazines and local newspapers, script writing/editing for a financial corporation, book reviewer, and now writing fiction, blogging, and editor of Koinonia Magazine.

I’m the wife of Rt. Rev. Leo Michael, an Anglican Bishop in the Holy Catholic Church-Anglican Rite. Mom to three great kids: Sweet Betsy and my two #81’s: Jake Byrne (San Diego Chargers) and Nick Byrne (Ragin Cajuns).

I’ve been blessed to be able to travel extensively across the United States and internationally to India, England, Scotland, and Canada. More info on my books to come…

Crossed Lines (Sequel to Crooked Lines) Release Date: February 2015

I’ll Be Seeing You: In Wyoming’s Wind River Valley, Charlie Willow faces a future more unsettling than the one he imagined upon realizing he was dead. The plan, written into his will, ought to fix his children, but an angel asks for a little more help.

I’ll Be Seeing You was an ACFW Genesis 2014 semi-finalist.

Devotional: Holly Michael and her son, Jake Byrne, an NFL player with type one diabetes, are writing a devotional contracted with Harvest House, due for release fall 2015.


Holly’s debut novel, Crooked Lines, released July 2014. Her second novel, TSUNAMI 2004: Still Wading Through Waves of Hope just released in December 2014.

Readers can learn more about Holly at http://www.hollymichael.com or find her on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon and Goodreads.


Holly Michael’s personal story is as inspirational as her writing.CLICK TO TWEET!


And here is my interview with Holly:

Have you always wanted to write? Do you use an outline for your stories?

I wanted to write from a young age, when Dr. Seuss’s impressed me with his rhythm and rhyme. I began to dabble in poetry from the time I could spell out words, became a newspaper features writer, journalist, magazine writer, and now books! I don’t use an outline. I get the story plot in my head, a solid idea of where I’m going, and just plunge into it. “Leap and the net will appear,” has always worked for me.


How does it feel being a published author? Have you encountered any surprises along the way to being published?

I was published in newspaper and magazines before authoring books, but holding that first novel in my hands was the most amazing experience, next to giving birth to a child. I had been a nonfiction writer for years and wanted to get back into writing as a full time career after the kids left home. The more I prayed about where God wanted me to use my writing talents, the more drawn I was to the “novel in my head.” Now, I write fiction and non-fiction.

Surprises: I think the most surprising thing about writing a novel is the amount of work involved in marketing after the book is published. I never imaged it would be so time-consuming.


Do you have a folder or a file where you keep future ideas for stories or do you just come up with ideas after a suggestion from your editor/agent/friends?

I do both. I ask my editor and agent what they are looking for, even meeting with them at conferences to brainstorm. I let them know that I can write fiction and nonfiction and am open to writing anything they think will sell. I do keep ideas in a folder and have a big list of project I want to get to in 2015.


How do you find time for everything… writing, family, church, friends… and you’ve recently taken on home-schooling, too!

Keeping it all balanced is tough. My husband is a bishop in the Anglican church and we travel a lot. We also have our home parish in Kansas City. Our kids are grown, but we visit them and enjoy their visits home. Since I consider writing a full time job, I try to write as often as possible.

Some full-time writers set aside a certain number of hours in a day, but my life gets so chaotic, I can’t always do that. I write where and whenever I can, often in the car while traveling. Sometimes I can’t write for a couple days and sometimes I write 12 hours a day.


Have you attended any writer retreats, conferences and the like? Do you think they are necessary for your writing?

It depends where you are at with your writing and what your goals are. Retreats, conferences, and the like can be a real boost for your career. My first ACFW conference, I had definite goals. I prayed about them and worked really hard at that first conference to talk to every agent and editor I could. It paid off. I got an agent and a book contract. That conference flung the doors to publication wide open. I highly recommend writers go if they can swing it.


How often do you travel? Where do you go? Who do you travel with? What is your favorite vacation spot?

The question could probably be better asked, “When do you not travel?” My husband has the oversight of about twelve churches and has to travel at least once a year to visit each of them. We have churches as far out west as Wyoming. Also, my sons play football (college and NFL), so we love to visit them when we can and watch their games. I also travel for writing conferences. I was invited to the Annual Pulpwood Queen Book Club Convention, (Girlfriend Weekend) in Nacogdoches, Texas in January! Looking forward to that.

My husband and I will travel together then go see our two kids in college in Louisiana. So, traveling is a huge part of my life. But traveling also gives me story ideas. In November we returned from five weeks abroad–England, France, and then on to India for Mission Work. We got back home in December and in twenty-six days I wrote and published: Tsunami 2004 Still Wading Through Waves of Hope. It’s a nonfiction “then and now” book about the work we did ten years ago when the tsunami hit and our follow-up work.

Favorite vacation spot was the Isle of Iona, Scotland. Most beautiful, peaceful, green place I’ve ever been too.


What are you working on now? Is there another genre you are interested in writing or are you perfectly content to stick with historical fiction?

Now, I’m working on my sequel to Crooked Lines. I am really an all-around hybrid author. Along with my indie-published works, I have a devotional coming out in August 2015 with Harvest House Publishers. My son and I wrote it together. He’s an NFL player who also has type one diabetes. I’m planning for about five releases in 2015–fiction and nonfiction, traditional and indie published. My genre is also not very defined. Crooked Lines has been called literary fiction, Christian fiction, and even a book that defies genres. The sequel is more of a romance and I’m excited about finishing that and getting it published. Looking forward to a May or June release.

Thank You Holly and God bless you!


THANK YOU for joining me for this AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT!

Don’t forget to check back or follow my blog to see new reviews — this month I have two other special debut authors… and February will be dedicated to another of my favorite authors!


Crooked Lines is not an easy story to read – but it is worth reading.CLICK TO TWEET!

You don’t always see a mission trip coming.CLICK TO TWEET!


God bless you!


© Donna J. Mynatt 2015

Rachel Muller – Author Spotlight

Thank you for joining me for this very touching Author Spotlight!

First, a bit about Rachel.

(Fair warning – you may want to grab the tissues)

Rachel Muller_Headshot


My Testimony…

Growing up in a home where Christ stood in the center of our family didn’t protect me from the world I was about to step into as I entered my teenage years. Even among fellow believers I was still vulnerable to the back biting schemes of young school girls. I fell into that pit of comparing myself with others, not feeling pretty enough or good enough for anything. I quickly sank into depression and silently suffered with an eating disorder. It was my way of dealing with the pain. After all, doesn’t the world tell people today, “No pain, no gain?” It was all a lie.

My life was sinking fast and my hope was not in Jesus to pull me out. Sure, I’d grown up in a Christian home, and I knew who Jesus was, but I wasn’t fully living for Him. So life went on and I still stayed put in my own little world of wasting. I abused over-the-counter drugs to make my body thinner, I deprived my body of nutrients, went on eating binges, even tried vomiting what I did eat. To add to my troubles, I fell into the wrong crowd and found myself in one dangerous situation after another.

Then one day, God reached down and touched my heart through one small act of humility. It was then as I watched a cowboy kneel before God and breathe his prayer of thanks to Him for his safety and victorious bull ride, that I realized all that I was striving for in life was in vain. My self-righteous suffering was not justifying my actions, my issues, or my problems. I wasn’t looking to God for the answers I so desperately wanted to find. Instead, I was taking matters into my own hands and slipping down a dangerous incline that would have potentially led to my demise.

From that day forward, as I drove down the road in prayer with silent tears running down my face, I promised to place my life in God’s hands and let Him lead and guide me from then on. Within six months, I met the man who was to be my future husband, got married another 6 six months later, and welcomed our first child into our arms 13 months after that.

Through journaling my life’s accounts, it was revealed to me that I had a future in writing. I enjoyed reliving my worst moments, seeing how God changed the course of my life forever and saved me from a path of destruction.

My Writing Journey…

By March of 2012, I took the advice of Author Cara Putman and joined American Christian Fiction Writers – I’ve never regretted making that decision. The amazing outpouring of prayers, unsparing acts of kindness, open communication, and authors willing to lend an ear with care and concern for my career as a writer was humbling. I had entered a brand new family whose arms were spread open and welcoming.

October, 2012, rolled in with new milestones. I had published my first blog account and completed my first novel. By this time, I had taken careful consideration to get to know fellow authors within my region and those whom I looked up to with wonder and admiration. Their urging me to put my work out there for the world to see gave me hope and courage to finally enter my first contest.

In November, 2012, my book had advanced to 2nd round judging in Harlequin/Mills and Boon’s So You Think You Can Write Contest. It was an honor to be named in the top 4% of the contest entries, and a positive experience I will not soon forget.

Finally, God called my work to publication. It took 3 years for my rough draft to become a polished novel, but all the hard work was worth it. Now readers will be able to read about those fictional characters who have become almost as close as family to me. It is my life’s goal that these readers will find hope and encouragement through life-like stories of angst, hurt, and healing.

Matthew 5:16 ~ “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father, which is in heaven.”

My Writing Nook

I don’t work in an elaborate office with sun spilling through ceiling-to-floor glass windows. I don’t have a personal secretary at my every beck and call–in fact I have 4 very active children who think I’m here for their every beck and call <insert smiley face here>.

I do, however, have an office–my own personal writing space set up the comfort of my home. When feeling cooped up in the house too long, the outdoors become my office and a source of inspiration.

Most days I write beneath the belly of a B-29 Super Fortress model (Yes, I built that with my own hands). Sitting beside me, looking over my shoulder, is “The Captain”–my styrofoam mannequin who sports my authentic WWII pilot’s cap. I don’t decide on a nail-biting scene without consulting him first. Just beyond my computer screen, the models for my characters stare back at me as I write. They seem just as eager to know what will happen to them as much as I.

Last but not least, my inspiration wouldn’t be as active as it is without the photos of my two late grandfathers. Their childhood era built the foundation on which my writings are created. Every day, as I enter my office, their smiling faces greet me, reminding me of a time and place I can  visit only through their memory.


Rachel’s debut novel, Letters from Grace, released September 2014, and quickly became an Amazon Top 100 Best Seller.

Readers can learn more about Rachel at http://www.racheldmuller.com or find her on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Pinterest and Goodreads.


Rachel Muller’s personal story is as inspirational as her writing.Tweet this!

If you haven’t read Letters From Grace, you’re missing out on a great story.Tweet this!

Who else do you know who writes with a B-29 Superfortress hanging over her head?Tweet this!


And here is my interview with Rachel:

Have you always wanted to write? Do you use an outline for your stories?

Although I wrote many, many stories during my childhood, it was for fun. I never once considered making a career out of writing. In fact, writing books never crossed my mind.

As for outlining, I’m mostly a pantser with a beginning and end in mind from the start. Everything else just fills in as I go and I always keep paper and pencil beside my computer at all time. I tend to fill out my outline as I’m writing the story. This makes it incredibly easy to keep track of all those “important” facts and notes I write into the story line.


How does it feel being a published author? Have you encountered any surprises along the way to being published?

Wow, how does it feel? Well, at first, it was certainly a dream come true. I would say the warmest sensation I had during the whole publishing trek was typing my name into Amazon and seeing my book cover pop up for the first time. I just stared at the computer screen in awe!

However, eventually the newness wore off and I was busy getting book 2 underway. Book 2, Maggie’s Mission, was just released and I’m feeling all those same sentiments over again.

The surprises I’ve encountered have been truly “surprises.” I was contacted by a long-time author who read Letters from Grace and LOVED it! She contacted me right away and hosted my book as her featured novel on all her websites and blogs. In addition to that, I’ve been contacted by the 700 Club after sending them a complimentary copy of the novel and was told by a reader that she heard about my book by a TV program. Certainly news to my ears!


Do you have a folder or a file where you keep future ideas for stories or do you just come up with ideas after a suggestion from your editor/agent/friends?

I do keep an idea journal where all the premises for my novels are kept safely. In fact, I am concocting a plot for a 4 book series after the Love & War Series comes to an end.


How do you find time for everything… writing, family, church, friends… and you’ve recently taken on home-schooling, too!

The only possible answer for that is through the grace of God and a very understanding and supportive husband! LOL. I do have to get up earlier every morning to make sure I answer emails, do a little marketing, and check my sales reports. My blog has suffered a little, but my faithful readers are amazing as they keep checking back for new posts. (Thank you for that!)

Everything else I take one moment at a time. Friday and Saturday nights are family nights. No Writing!

Now that the second book has been released, it’s back to the crazy circus of blog tours, marketing, and everything else that makes a household run smoothly.


Have you attended any writer retreats, conferences and the like? Do you think they are necessary for your writing?

To this date, I have not attended any writer’s conferences. However, in our local ACFW group, we do make a point to meet twice a year for a writer’s lunch. We have discussed many essentials for the writing career which includes marketing tactics, publishing news, writing techniques, and overall Christian fellowship that emanates an aura of support.

As for conferences and retreats being necessary, that all depends on the writer. There are many advantages to attending these events. Many workshops are offered by established and seasoned authors. In fact, at this past ACFW conference, my friend and author, Ronie Kendig, held an amazing class on Mind Magic. I am looking forward to taking that class at an upcoming writer’s retreat we have planned for next year.


How often do you travel? Where do you go? Who do you travel with? What is your favorite vacation spot?

Traveling is something not easily done with a family of 6. But we try to get a good vacation in every other year or so. One of our favorite vacationing spots is the beautiful Smoky Mountains. Gatlinburg, Tennessee and its surrounding areas have become our second home. So much so that I become homesick after leaving those beautiful mountains.


What are you working on now? Is there another genre you are interested in writing or are you perfectly content to stick with historical fiction?

Book 2 in the Love & War Series has just wrapped up. Maggie Johnson’s exciting story of front line battle nursing and lost romance has kept me pretty busy. It’s been an adventure to sit down and write out the rest of her story and continue with the Love & War Series. My readers seem pretty excited too.

While I’ve often toyed with the idea of writing outside my genre for more recognition as an Independent Author, I still come back to the same conclusion that I love writing WWII Historical Romance. Agents who have been in contact with me even notice the flavor of my writing for that era is my strong point. I’m praying for a nation-wide movement into WWII Fictional reads that will help launch my career in the next year.

Thanks so much for featuring me on Author Spotlight, Donna. This has been a wonderful interview and I enjoyed answering your fantastic questions! God bless!

Thank You Rachel and God bless you!


And THANK YOU for joining me for this very special AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT!

Don’t forget to check back or follow my blog to see new reviews — this month I have three other special debut authors… and February will be dedicated to another of my favorite authors!



Have you read Rachel Muller’s Love & War series yet?Tweet this!

Don’t miss book 2 in Rachel’s Love & War series – Maggie’s Mission!Tweet this!


Today is the final day to enter Rachel’s GIVEAWAY contest!

As a bonus giveaway, in addition to the giveaway by the author, after reading this post, the first person to leave a comment requesting a digital copy of Maggie’s Mission will be sent a gift copy by this blogger!

Rachel Muller Marathon | Giveaway!


God bless you!


© Donna J. Mynatt 2015

Jennifer Beckstrand – Author Spotlight

Thank you for joining me for this exciting Author Spotlight!

First, a bit about Jennifer.

I grew up with a steady diet of William Shakespeare and Jane Austen. After all that literary immersion, I naturally decided to get a degree in mathematics, which came in handy when one of my six children needed help with homework. After my fourth daughter was born, I started writing. By juggling diaper changes, soccer games, music lessons, laundry, and two more children, I finished my first manuscript—a Western—in just under fourteen years.

I have always been fascinated by the Amish way of life and now write Inspirational Amish Romance. I am drawn to the strong faith of the Plain people and admire the importance they put on enduring family ties. I have visited and studied Amish communities in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin where I met with a bishop and a minister as well as several Amish mamms, dats, and children. It has always impressed me at what salt-of-the-earth people they are. My interactions with these kind people have been some of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have a dear Amish friend with whom I correspond in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. She helps me keep my facts straight and gives me inspiration for my stories.

My goal is to write uplifting, inspiring stories with happy endings and hopeful messages. If my books make readers want to give themselves a big hug or jump up and down for joy, I’ve done my job. I am a member of Romance Writers of America and American Christian Fiction Writers and am represented by Mary Sue Seymour of The Seymour Agency.
There are three Amish romances in the Forever After in Apple Lake Series (Summerside/Guideposts). Kate’s Song, Rebecca’s Rose, and Miriam’s Quilt are all now available.

amish buggyI have six Amish Romances in the works with Kensington Books. Huckleberry Hill, Huckleberry Summer, Huckleberry Christmas and An Amish Christmas Quilt – containing a novella in the Huckleberry Hill series are now available in stores and online. The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill is set in northern Wisconsin Amish country.

The series, The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill, is about an elderly Amish couple who try to find suitable mates for their grandchildren. What could be more fun than throwing two young people together to see if sparks ignite? No one would ever suspect two octogenarian Amish folks of mischief.

Romantic Times gave Huckleberry Hill 4 1/2 stars and chose Huckleberry Summer as a TOP PICK.

I have four daughters, two sons, three sons-in-law, and three adorable grandsons. I live in the foothills of the Wasatch Front with my husband and one son still left at home.

Want to know why Jennifer Beckstrand writes Amish fiction?Tweet this!

Scheduled for release in 2015:

Huckleberry Spring – Book 4

Huckleberry Spring

Ever since the Helmuths’ grandson, Ben, abruptly broke his engagement and moved to Florida, Emma Nelson has kept busy tending her vegetable garden and raising award-winning pumpkins. She can put her heartache aside to help Ben’s mammi with her own pumpkin patch. At least until Ben shows up to lend support to his ailing dawdi…

Gardening side by side with pretty, nurturing Emma is a sweet kind of torture for Ben. She could have her pick of suitors who can offer what he can’t, and he cares too much to burden her with his secret. Leaving once more is the only option. Yet Emma’s courage is daring him to accept the grace that flourishes here, and the love that has been calling him back to Huckleberry Hill.

Coming February 2015!





Huckleberry Harvest – Book 5

Huckleberry Harvest Cover

Mandy Helmuth doesn’t like Noah Mischler. Not one little bit. First he breaks her best friend’s heart, and then he has the nerve to chastise her for being a busybody. She feels quite justified in her dislike until Noah does something heroic, like save her life, and she’s forced to bestow her grudging respect even as she determines to keep her distance. But when she unwittingly stumbles into his family troubles, she catches a glimpse of the person Noah so successfully hides from others. Will Mandy be able to look past Noah’s rough and unyielding exterior to see the man she is destined to love?

Much to Noah Mischler’s annoyance, uppity Mandy Helmuth thinks she has the right to tell him how to live his life. If he weren’t helping Mandy’s grandfather install a stove and fix his roof, Noah wouldn’t be within a mile of Huckleberry Hill or that nosy girl who gives him a lecture every time she opens her mouth. But when Mandy discovers the horrible truth about his father, Noah is forced to reveal humiliating secrets that he’s never shared with anyone. He trusts her with his secrets, but can he trust her with his heart?

Coming May 2015!


Here is my interview with Jennifer:

1)    Fans LOVE the Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill… how did you get the idea for matchmaking grandparents? And did you plan from the beginning to write the series with such wonderful humor (Anna’s cooking, for example)?

Thank you so much! I am thrilled at the reception of my Matchmakers series. It has been so much fun to write. I don’t remember exactly how I got the idea for Anna and Felty. (Ideas float in and out of my head regularly.) There’s a little bit of a matchmaker inside of me, and I thought it would be fun to explore how a character could actually be successful at matchmaking. My kids have always resisted any attempts by me to set them up with suitable mates.

I’ve always enjoyed infusing my writing with humor. I love to laugh, and I love writing delightful characters who remind us of happy times and old friends. I won’t read a book or see a movie if I know it’s going to end sadly. I think Jane Austen was my first inspiration for that style of writing. I wanted Huckleberry Hill to be a place that readers would want to return to again and again.


2)    Anna and Felty have 13 children and 64 grandchildren (not to mention the 99 greats and 1 great-great) and that’s just at the end of book #1… how many books do you plan to write in this series? Ms. Braun wrote 30+ “Cat Who” books. Could this be another such series?

There are three more books in the Huckleberry Hill series that come out next year: Huckleberry SpringHuckleberry Harvest, and Huckleberry Hearts, and holy cow, I am so excited for all of them. After that, I am planning on leaving Huckleberry Hill but staying near Bonduel, Wisconsin for a series of books about a trio of Amish sisters. I will most likely revisit Huckleberry Hill in the future so my readers can catch up with Anna and Felty.


3)    Do you use an outline for your stories? Do you have a folder or a file where you keep future ideas for stories or do you just come up with ideas after a suggestion from your editor, agent or friends?

The ideas for my stories are all in my head, though I do type out character sketches and other random ideas once I know I’m going to write a specific story. I definitely use an outline so I don’t get lost but mostly so my editor knows what’s going on. An outline helps me and the editor weed out problems and plot holes before I spend all that time writing the book.


4)    We read about writer retreats, conferences and the like. Is this the norm for most authors? Are they necessary for your writing? How often do you travel? Where do you go? Who do you travel with? What is your favorite vacation spot?

This year I didn’t go to any writer’s conferences, but I usually go to one or two a year. They’re a great place to meet fellow authors and make new friends. If you’re an aspiring author, I think writer’s conferences are the best way to meet agents and editors and get your work out there. I always come home from conferences re-energized and ready to write. I also come back with valuable writing tips and techniques.

I don’t enjoy traveling—I am definitely a homebody. I like my own bed and my own bathroom. My daughter studied in London last year, and my family pried me away from home to visit her there. I had a wonderful time. London is an amazing city. That’s one place I wouldn’t mind going again. I’m more of a “busy” traveler. I get antsy if I’m just sitting on the beach relaxing. A vacation for me needs to be filled with “doing” and “seeing.”


5)    Do you find that writing under a deadline takes the fun out of writing? If so, how do you deal with that? Are there any special snacks you like to have handy, especially during stressful times?

My last book was under a pretty demanding deadline, and I let the stress take some of the fun out of the writing. A deadline always makes writing harder, but my new motto is: If it doesn’t challenge you, it won’t change you. Writing is hard work. Sometimes it’s okay to not love it—as long as you plow through and stick with it!

The one thing I eat regularly while at the computer is raw almonds. I love them. If I’m especially stressed, I adore fried Swiss cheese. Frying Swiss cheese makes the whole house stink, but it tastes so good. I eat while I write mostly to stay awake. It’s a busy mother’s burden. If I sit down, I often fall asleep.


6)    What are you working on now? Is there another genre you are interested in writing or are you perfectly content to stick with Amish Fiction?

In addition to that new Amish series about three sisters, I have a series of Western historicals that I’m eager to get out there someday. But I have plenty to keep me busy for another year or so.

How many more books are there in the Huckleberry Hill series?Tweet this!


And on that note, Jennifer has been kind enough to give us a special treat

“Here is a sneak peak of my latest project in the works. Another Amish romance series that’s as sweet as honey. -Jennifer Beckstrand”

The Adventures of the Honeybee Sisters

An Amish Romance Series by Jennifer Beckstrand


Dear Salome,

     First of all, I must tell you how mad I am at you right now. I thought you and Aaron had more sense than to die in a buggy accident and orphan three little girls. Mamm would have said it’s God’s will. Maybe it is, but I’m not smart enough to make any sense of your death. As for Lily, Poppy, and Rose, you very well know that I have no idea how to raise them.

But I know how to love them, and that will be good enough. I’ll honor your wishes and raise them to be Amish, although ever since I got my ears pierced two decades ago, the Amish and I aren’t exactly on speaking terms. I’m sure we can set aside our differences to see that my nieces grow up well. It was tricky of you, knowing that I had turned my back on the Amish faith but that I would never turn my back on those three little girls.

     I’ll do my best. And I solemnly promise not to let your daughters cut their hair until they’re old enough to decide for themselves, unless of course they want one of those cute pixie cuts like Audrey Hepburn. I love Audrey Hepburn.

     Okay. Never mind. I was joking. Mostly.

Your Forever Sister, Elizabeth


Lily, Poppy, and Rose Christner, known as the Honeybee Sisters in their Amish community, are smart, inseparable, and all grown up. Orphaned when they were very young, the girls were raised by their eccentric Aunt Bitsy, who doesn’t behave like a proper Amish spinster, probably because she’s not Amish. The Honeybee Sisters have blossomed into rare beauties, and the boys in the community have begun to take notice. But Aunt Bitsy is determined to scare off all comers with her brusque manner and her handy shotgun. None but the most worthy will make it past Bitsy’s defenses. It’s going to be a rowdy and romantic summer—harvesting honey from their many beehives and fighting off the boys right and left.

Who are the Honeybee Sisters?Tweet this!

Wow! I don’t know about you but I can hardly wait to read this new series. It sounds fantastic!


Thank You Jennifer and God bless you!


Click HERE to visit Jennifer’s website for updates and info, HERE for her Facebook page, HERE for Twitter and HERE for her Author page on GoodReads!



THANK YOU for joining me for this very special AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT!

Don’t forget to check back or follow my blog to see new reviews — next month I have a very special promotion planned for several debut authors… and February will be dedicated to another of my favorite authors!


Don’t forget to click below to find out how you can enter Jennifer’s GIVEAWAY contest!

Jennifer Beckstrand Marathon | Giveaway!


God bless you!


© Donna J. Mynatt 2014