Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Novel Journey Lady Has Come by for a Visit: Join me in welcoming Gina Holmes

In 1998, Gina Holmes began her career penning articles and short stories. In 2005 she founded the influential literary blog, Novel Journey. She holds degrees in science and nursing and currently resides with her husband and children in Southern Virginia. Her debut novel, Crossing Oceans released April/May 2010 with Tyndale House Publishers. To learn more about her, visit: or

SDC: Before you tell us about your newest release, please fill us in on what keeps you going!

Gina: What keeps me going is my faith in God and knowing that He has my back and best interests at heart, then there’s the love of my life, my husband Adam who gives me such joy. They say if something seems too good to be true, it probably is, but with him it IS true. Who knew love could be so wonderful and selfless? And then there’s my children. I have 5 now. 2 by birth, 3 by marriage and each one of them individually would fill my heart but together, I know I must be the most blessed woman in the world.

SDC: What theme do you run through all your writing, if any? What kind of response do you hope to receive from readers who have not yet come to know the Lord, or who will be influenced greatly by one of your books?

Gina: What a great and insightful question. I think it is sacrifice and that no matter how dark things seem, they are not. Those who belong to the Lord have Heaven to look forward to, the troubles of this world are quite temporary.
I would love it if non-believers would read my books and sense something deeper, something pure and lovely and crave that for themselves. I hope that I’m planting a seed that only God can water.

SDC: How do you make faith, love, and hope work together in your stories?

Gina: Man, you ask tough questions. Let me drink some more coffee and think about this … (Gina slurps, spills some on her shirt, tries to clean it off and makes it worse… okay, I’m back.)
Honestly, I don’t know. I mean it works in stories I suppose because it works in me on a personal level. When I went through the really dark periods of my life, I never thought God would abandon me. I knew He was using the experience to refine and beautify my spirit. I knew that as surely as I know my own name. I didn’t understand it fully at the time but I know He loves me. I know what His word says about the plans He has for me to prosper and not harm, to give me a hope and a future. All of the tough situations of life, He promises to use them for our good.

SDC: How did you find your first publisher?

"When you have a publisher that is on fire for your story,
you go with them."

Gina: Well, I have an agent, Chip MacGregor and he subbed a few chapters of Crossing Oceans just to see the reaction. Several publishers were interested but only one pursued me. Let me tell you when you have a publisher that is on fire for your story, you go with them. That type of enthusiasm is worth gold.
I met with Karen Watson at ACFW’s conference, we talked, and I knew she was very interested because she said so. Over the course of a year, she kept asking Chip when I would be finished and finally we sold it to them before it was completed.
Crossing Oceans--Sometimes love demands the impossible

Nothing deepens a stream like a good rain . . . or makes it harder to cross.Jenny Lucas swore she’d never go home again. But life has a way of upending even the best-laid plans. Now, years after she left, she and her five-year-old daughter must return to her sleepy North Carolina town to face the ghosts she left behind. They welcome her in the form of her oxygen tank-toting grandmother, her stoic and distant father, and David, Isabella’s dad . . . who doesn’t yet know he has a daughter.
As Jenny navigates the rough and unknown waters of her new reality, the unforgettable story that unfolds is a testament to the power of love to change everything—to heal old hurts, to bring new beginnings . . . even to overcome the impossible.

SDC: Sounds intriguing, Gina.What’s your favorite Bible verse or verse that has sustained you recently and why?

Gina: The one I paraphrase above. Jeremiah 29:11 “’For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 12 Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. 14 I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. [b] I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.”

Why? Because like I mentioned above, I had gone through such a long period of sadness and pain in my life. I died to self in such a heart wrenching way. It had to do with my previous marriage. Every night I would get on my knees before God praying for things to be different. Praying for the love I ached for and through all the tears and pain I clung to that above. Looking back, I can see what He was doing in my life, though He certainly didn’t cause the behavior that led to the suffering. God filled in the gaps during my loneliest times and became my husband. And that verse proved once again to be true. He has prospered me and given me a hope and future. I love my Lord and loved Him in those dark times too.

SDC: I love that area of scripture. Okay, what question would you like one of our viewers to answer to help me select a winner to one of three books I'm offering to share this week?
Gina: "What tear jerking movie or book is your favorite of all time?"

SDC:  That's another great qustion. I'm anxious to hear the answers that come in.
 While we wait, please let the readers know where we can reach you and where we can find your books, Gina! We have greatly appreciated having you here at A Pen for Your Thoughts!

Gina: I can be found easily enough through or through my personal website
My book is available through Books A Million, CBD, Lifeway, Amazon, B&N, Walmart and Samsclub and local bookstores I’d imagine.

Thanks so much for having me. Really great questions.

Okay to the readers and visitors.  Please be sure
to answer Gina's question above. And even if you have won in the past, don't hesitate to write in again. I will be drawing names in
a few days.  Your continued presence is a great blessing here at
A Pen for Your Thoughts.

Congratulations to Lindsey Freitas of Oregon City, Oregon. You have just won two signed book copies. Be watching for your books and thanks so much for following A Pen for Your Thoughts.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Jennifer Hudson Taylor writes historical Christian fiction set in Europe and the Carolinas. Her fiction has won awards in the American Christian Fiction Writers' Genesis Contest, and her work has appeared in national publications, such as Guideposts, Heritage Quest Magazine, Everton’s Genealogical Publishers, and The Military Trader. Jennifer graduated from Elon University with a B.A. in Journalism. When she isn't writing, Jennifer enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, genealogy, and reading. She resides with her husband and daughter in the Charlotte area of NC. Highland Blessings is her debut novel. Learn more about Jennifer at

SDC. I loved reading all that about you, Jennifer. Welcome to A Pen for Your Thoughts! Before we start talking about you as a writer, let’s discuss who you are away from your desk. Tell us a little about yourself as the lady next door.

JHT. I’m an introvert who loves the outdoors, but you won’t find me gardening. I’m practically allergic to everything in a garden. I best keep plants and flowers looking well if they are plastic and all I have to do is dust them. As a result of my allergies, I’m on allergy shots each week. I love the beach and the mountains, so my native state of North Carolina suits me well. I’m nestled right between both here in the Charlotte area. I met my husband when I was fifteen in a grocery store and we married years later right after I graduated college. We are the proud parents of a special needs daughter who is overcoming many of her delayed developments. I have another full-time job outside the home and I’m dreaming of one day staying home to write.

SDC: That said…you have a book being released soon. You must be excited. Tell us more about it.

JHT:  Highland Blessings, Scotland 1473. Highland warrior Bryce MacPhearson kidnaps Akira MacKenzie on her wedding day to honor a promise he made to his dying father. When he forces Akira to wed him, hoping to end a half-century feud between their clans, she struggles to overcome her anger and resentment. . .Yet her strength in the Lord becomes a witness to Bryce. But there is a traitor in their midst . . . and murder is the ultimate weapon.

SDC: Sounds so good! And what else are you working on?
JHT: This one takes place four years later.  It will be called Highland Sanctuary. Gavin MacKenzie is hired to restore the ancient Castle of Braigh. He discovers a hidden village of outcasts that have created their own private sanctuary from the world. Among them is Serena Boyd, a mysterious and comely lass who captures Gavin’s heart. The villagers have an intriguing secret, while Serena harbors a deadly past that could destroy her future. When a fierce enemy launches an attack against them, greed leads to bitter betrayal. As Gavin prepares a defense, the villagers unite in a bold act of faith, showing how God’s love is more powerful than any human force on earth.

In this story I modeled the heroine in Highland Sanctuary for my daughter, Celina. She was born with a life-threatening seizure disorder and would stop breathing and require CPR. My husband performed CPR on her eight times during her first year of life. I’m so thankful for modern technology, the seizure meds she had, and the fact that we understand it is a medical issue. I created a character in 1477 Scotland that has a seizure disorder in a time when the word seizure wasn’t widely used. Modern technology wasn’t available, and people’s reactions would have been much different.

SDC. That's awesome, Jennifer. I know I'm going to want to read this book too. You know, I devloped post-traumatic epilepsy from a brain injury years ago. I know exactly what you speak aobut when you describe the fears and the meds that finally work, and modern technology. It's amazing. It looks like you've already partly answered my next question which is what was your inspiration for this book?

JHT: Over the years I had read many secular historical romances set in England and I can’t remember one I didn’t like. I thought there needed to be a few in the CBA market. Very few Christian historical romances are set in Scotland. I wanted to fill a portion of that void.

SDC. That's true. If you have other works already contracted tell us about those too.I do know like you’ve been a busy lady! How long does it take you (on average) to write a book, from first word to putting it in the publisher’s hands?

JHT. Highland Sanctuary, the sequel, is the only other book I’ve been offered a contract on. However, I have written seven other novels, including Regencies, an Irish historical, a couple of American historicals, and one contemporary that won an award in the ACFW Genesis Contest in 2007.

SDC. Then it sounds like you are well on your way! So what’s after this? And what you do when you are not writing?

JHT. Let’s see, as soon as I turn in my completed draft for Highland Sanctuary, I plan to finish working on a Regency, A Season of Atonement set in 1808 England. Regina Westfall has run out of options and soon will be considered upon the shelf. When Marcus Silverstone returns from South Africa alive, Regina believes her prayers have been answered. But he’s no longer the humble, caring missionary she fell in love with years ago. Marcus believes her brother betrayed him in South Africa, and he wants revenge. She must discover who really betrayed Marcus and left him for dead before he ruins their future. She prays one season will be enough to slip through the thorns in his heart and convince him of her and God's love as atonement for seven years of injustice.

When I’m not writing, I spend time with my family, read other novels, watch movies, and travel. My dream is to visit Scotland one day.

SDC: I'd love to go there too. My family goes back to the Scots on my mother's side. And it will be such a joy. I got close when I went to Ireland. Tell, us what do you enjoy most about writing, Jennifer? Least?

JHT. Creating unique characters and weaving a story that is will touch other people’s hearts—perhaps even change lives. The thing I dislike the least is unfair criticism. It’s very clear when a person simply doesn’t like a particular genre or a type of story or era. I don’t like science fiction and fantasy, and so I stay away from publicly reviewing them or critiquing them. I think others should recognize their likes and dislikes and do the same.

SDC. You’re probably tired of answering this question, but as I learn from many other interviewers, inquiring minds  are often curious. Where do you get your ideas?

JHT: Everywhere. From conversations, magazine and newspaper stories, genealogy research, dreams, etc.

SDC: That's a great answer. Thank you for being with us. Please be sure to let us know where we can find you and your work. We enjoyed your visit, and look forward to reading your book. I know I do. I understand you are planning to share one with the readers here. That’s great too. What question burns in your brain that you would like to ask someone this week?

JHT: You can find me at as well as on Facebook, Twitter, and my blog at

(My question) How important is a book cover to enticing you to pick up a book by an author you’ve never read before?


Thank you for having me!

Super question above! I look forward to seeing your answers here. Be sure to leave your email address after your name in case we draw yours!

And we have a winner! Congratulations to Katy Freeland of Bakersfield, CA . Be watching for your book!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

It's Time You Met Sarah!

If you haven't met her before, here is your chance to meet debut author Sarah Sundin for the first time. Please join me in welcoming her to A Pen for Your Thoughts.

Sarah Sundin’s first novel, A Distant Melody, was released (just last month) in March 2010 by Revell. She lives in northern California (where the sun likes to shine at the right time of year) with her husband and three children. When Sarah isn’t ferrying kids to soccer and karate, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches Sunday school and women’s Bible studies.

SDC: Sarah! Congratulations on your new release! Tell us how you got where you are today, a little about your novel and its publisher.

SS: I started writing in 2000 and churned out two awful contemporary romances. However, I learned through this process, and began attending a critique group and writers’ conferences and reading books on writing craft. In 2003, I submitted A Distant Melody, the first book in a World War II trilogy, at Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference. I received good feedback from published authors, editors, and agents—and began accumulating a stack of “good” rejection letters. They liked my writing, my story, and my characters—however, historicals weren’t selling. I often felt discouraged, but the Lord made it obvious that He wanted me to finish the trilogy, so I kept plugging away. Then at Mount Hermon in March 2008, I heard, “We need historicals.” And there I was with my trilogy close to complete. I submitted to Vicki Crumpton at Revell, and in September I was offered a three-book contract.

SDC: What a great story, and a familiar story to so many of us, Sarah. In fact, it is the key to how to take those stepping stones to getting on "the other side."

Sarah: A Distant Melody was published by Revell in March. (A little about the story...)

Lt. Walter Novak flies a B-17 bomber in battles over Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II, while Allie Miller serves in the Red Cross against the wishes of her wealthy parents and controlling fiancé in California. Walt and Allie meet at a wedding and begin a correspondence. As letters fly between Walt's muddy bomber base in England and Allie's mansion in an orange grove, their friendship binds them together. But can they untangle the secrets, commitments, and expectations that keep them apart?

SDC: That does sound exciting! How did you come up with the idea for it?

SS: It came out of a “what if” question in one of the contemporary novels I wrote. What if a man and woman met at an event, truly clicked, and parted before exchanging contact info? Wouldn’t it be romantic if he went through great effort to track her down? It wouldn’t work in a contemporary setting—he’d “Google” her—but it made a sweet premise for a historical. My husband and I watched a History Channel special on the US Eighth Air Force based in England which flew over Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II, and I had my link. My great-uncle was a B-17 bomber pilot with the Eighth, so I had access to family stories plus his personal letters. My research fascinated me so much, the story expanded to become a trilogy, with each book focusing on one of three brothers.

SDC: I love it! Isn't it neat how we can discover all kinds of creative ideas just by watching The History Channel, or one of those learning channels on TV? Which character in your novel was the most difficult to flesh out and why?

SS: I think it was Allie, my heroine. She’s wealthy and cultured, so in my mind she always spoke in complex sentences with long words—I had to tone down her voice so she wouldn’t put off readers. Also, unlike most modern heroines, not only is she not pretty, but she’s shy and passive at the beginning of the book. I had to make certain I showed the germ of strength inside her and the longing to change.

SDC: When you spoke of a heroine putting off the readers it kind of reminded me how I tend to overplay my heroine's in my drafts to try to get out where they are coming from to where they are going. But an author indeed has to be careful in the handling. How have you begun building and growing your audience and fans, Sarah?

SS: As a debut author, I feel like I’m flying blind in that area. Revell did a great blog tour for me, I hired a publicist for a contest and blog tour, and I jumped at the chance to every blog interview I could—like this one. I also try to spread the word about my book—gently—on Facebook and Twitter. In the long run, it comes down to word of mouth, and word of mouth depends on whether people like the book. I’ve been blessed with wonderful reviews so far, and the response from readers blows me away. When you pick up a book by a debut author, you’re taking a chance, and I appreciate it.

SDC: It's a blessing to read those words. Tell me somthing. If you were to take your heroine to church with you how would she be received the way she’s portrayed in the beginning of your story?

SS: First of all, my church is very accepting and tries to make everyone feel welcome no matter their background. You see all sorts there—and I love it! Since Allie is polite and proper, and she loves the Lord and wants to serve Him, any church would welcome her. However, she might get overlooked because she’s shy and not terribly pretty.

SDC: Would most women be drawn to your hero immediately or is it possible they would be irritated by him and why?

SS: Few women would be drawn immediately to Walt. He’s not handsome, and he gets tongue-tied around single women. He’s the kind of man who grows on you—he’s kind and good-humored and has a strong character.

SDC: The book really sounds interesting. Now, on another note: What is the first thing you think about when you rise in the morning?

SS: That alarm clocks were invented by Satan. Then I slog through my morning routine. No thinking occurs until at least nine o’clock. Ask my kids.

SDC: LOL  Okay, Sarah, after you get this novel off the ground, where do you go next?

SS: A Distant Melody is the first book in a three-book series. The second book, A Memory Between Us, comes out in September 2010, and the third book in August 2011. Right now I’m preparing a proposal for another series, also set during World War II.

SDC: Very interesting time period. Every writer struggles about something. What do you struggle with in your writing?

SS: What’s most difficult to me is description. In my rough draft it always feels like the drivel I wrote for creative writing in high school. Gag. In rewriting I try to work in story-related and character-related details and metaphors to enrich it and remove the gag-factor.

SDC: Where can readers find out about you or your writing online? Please include the link for purchasing your book!

SS: Website:

A Distant Melody can be purchased at your local bookstore or on-line at:

Barnes & Noble:


SDC: You gave us lots of choices. Thanks.
If a potential reader of your book wrote a comment to you today, what question would you like to ask them more than anything? (This will help me select the winner of your book)

SS: What’s your favorite time period in history to read about?

Thank you so much Sarah, for sharing a little something about yourself at A Pen for Your Thoughts.
Readers, writers, and responders. See the above question to refer to in your answers. And please be sure to include an email address where we can reach you if we should draw your name to win a copy of Sarah's new book. We look forward to hearing from you.

Join me in congratulating Lucie Buchert from Fortuna, CA who just won Sarah's book! Be watching for it soon, Lucie. And many blessings to you all for writing in.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Want a Little Fantasy in Your Life? Come Meet Author Jill Williamson!

Welcome to you Jill

Jill Williamson is the author of By Darkness Hid and To Darkness Fled, the first two books in a medieval fantasy trilogy. She has worked as a freelance editor and published numerous articles. VOYA magazine named By Darkness Hid as one of the Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror novels of 2010.

Jill grew up in Alaska with no electricity, an outhouse, and a lot of mosquitoes. Thankfully it was the land of the midnight sun, and she stayed up late, reading by the summer daylight that wouldn’t go away. But in the winter, there was nothing better to do than daydream. Both hobbies set her up to be a writer.

Jill has served alongside her youth pastor husband for the past twelve years and loves working with teenagers, especially to encourage young writers. ( An avid reader, she started Novel Teen Book Reviews ( to help teens find great books to read. She lives in Oregon with her youth pastor husband and two book-loving children. Visit Jill at

SKC: Wow! Another wonderful Oregon writer. I think I'm partial to those. I smile. Could be because I'm from this part of the U.S. too.

So you write fantasy. What inspired you to come up writing for your particular sub-genre? Tell us about the circumstances.

Jill: I’ve always loved reading fantasy novels. But when I first started writing, I wrote non fiction articles for teens. Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness really opened my imagination to the possibility of writing something Christian. I had never read Christian fiction before that book. When I did start writing, I didn’t set out to write something speculative. I just wanted to write something entertaining for teens. I write a teen spy story first. Then I wrote a story about a cloning lab. Then I wrote my first fantasy novel. I remember being so frustrated because I kept hearing that new writers needed to figure out what genre they wrote, and I didn’t have a clue what my genre was. Was it fantasy? Science Fiction? Urban fantasy? Contemporary? Adventure? At Mount Hermon in 2007, I went to Jeff Gerke’s class on speculative fiction and was pleased to discover that I was writing in the same genre. It was called speculative fiction. What a relief!

SKC: How interesting! I have been to Jeff Gerke's class on speculative fiction myself when I was at an ACFW conference. It was excellent. How long had you been writing before you got your first contract? And tell us how you dealt with your patience.

Jill: I started my first teen fiction novel in 2004. I signed the contract for By Darkness Hid in 2008. Those four years felt like an eternity, but I passed the time by writing, rewriting, reading fiction help books, going to conferences, and participating in online critique groups. And of course, I prayed a lot, asking God if he was sure this was what he wanted me to be spending my time on. I also did some foolish things because I wasn’t patient enough. I have learned the wisdom of patience over the years.

SKC: All authors have advice for other new authors coming into the field of writing. What is yours?

Jill: Write, write, write. Finish that first draft. Don’t agonize over perfection until you’ve got a finished draft to agonize over. The beginning of the story might change once you know the end, so don’t waste time poring over every sentence until later. Save that for the rewrite stage. But don’t get stuck there either. Finish that book, send it out, then write a different book.

And read. When you read genres like the one you write, study what the author did. Look at their dialogue, action, punctuation, characters, plot, everything. Learn all you can. It will help you be a better writer and storyteller.

SKC: Sometimes inspirational writers have a hard time being accepted in the “real” world (Outside of CBA). What are your thoughts about inspirational writers writing Crossover Stories?


Jill: It’s a tough thing. Many people are offended at the mention of the word “Christian.” I’ve received a few biased reviews from non Christians. I’ve been excluded from certain blog sites because I write Christian fiction and some see that as inferior. But I’ve also received letters where people were excited about the Christian analogy in my books, and letters where it didn’t bother people at all. Remember that art always attracts critics. It’s part of the field. Expect to hear negative things. Expect to be excluded. But pray for God to do great things with your story. You may never see those great things, but if you trust God, it will be easier. Trust him with your story.

SKC: Great advice. What’s it like writing for YA?

Jill: It’s the best. There is just something nostalgic about those teenage years. As I write YA, I get to be a teenager time and again. I get to hang out with teens too, as my husband is a youth pastor. I love teens and am thrilled that God has allowed my husband and I to serve in this way.

SKC: I think it really helps if you are around the young people all the time. Otherwise, it is difficult to see how they think. Okay, what about the magic of the first five pages… Tell us what gets you started on those first five pages of a brand new story.

Jill: My first five pages of a new story usually aren’t very magical. I often change them when I go back to rewrite. My goal in a brand new story is to write the first draft as quickly as possible. Now, when I do go back, I try to make sure I open with an interesting hook. I didn’t do that in By Darkness Hid, and a few writers have pointed that out. But I’m a staunch supporter of the policy, “Learn the rules, then break them when you feel like it.” I wanted By Darkness Hid to open with Achan in his everyday world so that readers could see that before the action came. And the action did come in the first five pages.

SKC: Many authors cringe when it comes to the moment they have to come up with their synopsis. What would be your best advice to them, Jill?

Jill: I like to write a synopsis using techniques I learned from Randy Ingermanson. Check out his website for great writing information.

Basically, I write one sentence for each of the following things to create my blurb or one-paragraph summary that I use in my query and cover letters.
The Synopsis Technique
1. The introduction. Where the story starts

2. The hook at the end of Act One.

3. The hook in the middle of the book.

4. The hook at the end of Act Two.

5. The climax and conclusion (You MUST include the ending for agents and editors! Don’t leave this off.)

Now you have a nice one-paragraph blurb of your story. Expand each sentence to a paragraph. That will give you a rough outline of a on-page synopsis, and you’ll only needed to add a little bit more to make it flow nicely. Try to keep out most of the side characters and side plots to not confuse things. Also, I learned that using all caps for the first time you use a character’s name is a nice touch.

SKC: What do you do during the waiting period when editors are looking over your manuscripts?

Jill: I work on a different manuscript.

SKC: Something that is hard for me, because I always want to continue FIXING. After you finish your present project, what plans do you have?

Jill: I’m hoping to sell one of my other completed manuscripts. Depending on what happens with that, I might work on the sequels to those books or write something new.

SKC: What would you like to ask this week about either writing or having that love to read? And what book is it that you wish to share with one of our responders?

Jill: What is your favorite speculative fiction story? Speculative fiction is anything out of the ordinary, like fantasy, monsters, time travel, science fiction, alternate history, spiritual warfare, or futuristic stories. If you’ve never read a speculative book, I bet you’ve seen a movie or TV show that was speculative. I’d love to know your favorite one.

I’m giving away a copy of To Darkness Fled (Blood of Kings, book 2), but if the winner would prefer book one, I’d be happy to give them By Darkness Hid instead so they can start at the beginning of the series.

SKC: That sounds great, Jill. And I love your question for us. Thanks so much for coming by. Please let us know where we can find your books.

Jill: Online go to,, or You can also buy an autographed copy from me through my website. You can special order my book at your local bookstore by giving them the name and author. Also, many libraries have my first book, and if they don’t, they would likely order it if you ask. You could print out a couple reviews from the Free Download section of my website ( and take them to the library with you when you ask, so that they know they books is something they’d like to have.


Readers and Writers... Please drop a line. Tell Jill and I what your favorite speculative fiction book is, and why. If you have not yet read one, why or why not? We look forward to hearing from you. I will announce the winner in a few days.

And our winner is
Angie Lusco, Mt Vernon, Oregon. Congratulations, Angie. Be watching for your book!

Friday, April 2, 2010


We want to welcome to our blog, Lisa Harris. Let me share a little about her with you.

Lisa Harris is an award-winning author who has sold twenty-one novels and novellas. She lives with her husband and their three children in Mozambique, Africa, where they work as missionaries. When she’s not busy writing or home schooling, she loves traveling, cooking different ethnic foods, and going on game drives through the African bush.

SDC: Welcome, Lisa. Africa, huh?  That's so awesome. I saw your theme scripture from your website (Hebrews 12:1-3) I believe. Tell us about why you selected those verses as your focus, and how they correlate with the types of books you write.

Lisa: Thanks so much for having me stop by, Shirley! I love Paul’s encouragement that we keep our eyes focused on Jesus so we don’t grow weary and lose heart. Life isn’t always easy, yet as I write my books, I want people to see that through Christ and his sacrifice, there is hope.

SDC: And how blessed we are to know we do have that hope in the Lord about every aspect of our lives! Amen.

Tell us about your publisher(s) and your experiences in working with them and what you have coming out soon.

Lisa: While I’ve written for several publishers throughout the past few years, currently I’m writing for both Zondervan and Summerside Press, two publishers that I have really enjoyed working for.

My newest release with Zondervan is book one in my Mission Hope Series, called Blood Ransom. It’s a fast paced-thriller thriller about the modern-day slave trade and those who dare to challenge it. The second book in the series will be released next spring. Currently, I’m writing a romantic suspense for Summerside Press’s new line. Dark Continent will come out in February. This story is set in both Northern Rhodesia (Africa) and New York in the early 1920’s.

SDC: How interesting! I look forward to reading some of your work! What kind of response have you received from readers who have been influenced greatly by your writing or your personal testimony?

Lisa: Because Blood Ransom is about the modern slave trade, I’ve heard from many readers lately who have been struck by the fact that slavery is still so prevalent today. While I do want to open people’s eyes to some of the issues happening in the world today (the next book in the series is set primarily in a refugee camp) I also want to share that through Christ there is hope. This is the response that I love to hear!

SDC: That almost already answers my next question. How do you thread faith, love, and hope along with the reality of life work together in your stories?

Lisa: It’s always as tough balance. First of all, like all authors, I want my books to be hard-to-put-down page-turners. But the threads of faith and hope are also very important to me and I try to add them naturally, through conversation and situations that show rather than just tell.

SDC: Important to me as well. How long did you have to wait before getting published the first time, Lisa? What are some things that went through your mind?

Lisa: Writing is definitely a hard journey that builds patience. I wrote for about six years before I sold my first novella to Barbour and the waiting wasn’t always easy. But I discovered a lot about myself in the process while I learned about the craft and grew in my writing, and I’m still learning!

SDC: I have a candle lit at the corner of my desk. Just the scent gets my creative juices flowing, but I have a difficult time sitting in my lonely office for too long a time before I have to get up and go say hello to my husband or move my laptop in the living room where I feel life or action around me. Does a room or special place or thing play any part in your story writing and how?

Lisa: I don’t have an office due to space and have had to learn to write wherever I am. Sometimes it is hard and I long for a quiet moment, but as a home schooling mom of three, those quiet moments are rare. There are times when I really need a few hours without interruptions and thankfully my family is very supportive and gives it to me. During that time, I sometimes play music with no words that goes along with the mood of the story and helps me focus.

SDC: How does your family and the ministry with your church correspond with your time to write and do research for writing?

Lisa: Right now the biggest priority in my life is my children and home schooling because we are in that stage of life. I know it won’t last forever and before I know it they will be out of the house, so I purposefully am enjoying this time with them. I’m also not as involved in ministry as I have in the past, though I still do a lot to support my husband, and know that ministry time will increase once our kids leave the nest. My writing then fills in the rest of the time, and I get done what I need to everyday by setting very specific goals for each day.

SDC: A growing family will keep all of us busy. Life never changes. Think of an intriguing question you would like to ask one of our viewers to answer to help me select the winner of your newest book coming out.

Lisa: I love to travel, so if you could travel anywhere in the world, were would that be and why?

SDC: That's a great question. Thanks.
And thank you, Lisa for being here. It’s been a real pleasure having you at A Pen for Your Thoughts. Please include your URL and where people can find your books.
Lisa: Thank you so much for having me, Shirley! You can find out more about me on my blog at or my website

Okay readers and other writers. Now it's your turn. Look above to find Lisa's question. We look forward to receiving your replies. We will be drawing the name of the book winner in a few days from now.
READERS: Be sure to answer Lisa’s question above to try to win a copy of her book! Don’t forget to include your email address.

Congratulations to our new winner west of the rockies in the good old USA...Casey Herringshaw!  How exciting to share a great book with you. Be watching for it soon.