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Deliver Me from Evil by Kathy Mathias: a Review, an Interview, and a Giveaway

Kathi MathiasRead to the end for your chance to win a copy of this book.  

Deliver me From Evil by Kathi Mathias puts a human face on a seldom talked about worldwide atrocity:  human trafficking.  It follows the interconnected story from three vantage points.

Mara, a six year old Mexican girl, was  taken from her desperately poor family by her uncle who promised to care for her in America.  Now eighteen, she has lived twelve years as part of his violent  prostitution ring in the heart of San Diego.

Jonathan, also eighteen is a college senior planning to head to Bible College in the fall, mostly because he feels it’s what is expected of him.  Working a job selling pizzas to save the funds he needs, he inadvertently stumbles upon Mara and another young captive who has been recently snatched off the streets of the city.

Jolene and Jasmine are captive a word away.  Their captors see them as a commodity not even worthy of the basics of human comforts.  When a girl in their situation has outlived her usefulness, she is simply disposed of.

Where is the hope for these young slaves of human trafficking–is there any hope?  How far are Jonathan and his family willing to step outside of their comfort zone?  How far would you be willing to step?

A beautiful, yet horrifying tale with a clear challenge and message to the reader.  If you dare to read it, it will leave an indelible imprint on your heart. Will you be one of those who dares to open your eyes to these forgotten children of God?

5 Stars.

Kathi, how did you come up with the idea for Deliver Me From Evil and the Freedom series?


Kathi
–It actually came out of a phone conversation with Andrea Mullins, the publisher at New Hope. We were discussing the Extreme Devotion series (about the persecuted Church), which I was still working on at the time, and we began to consider topics for a second series. Andrea was the one who suggested human trafficking, and it really struck a chord with me. The more I researched it and worked on the proposal, the more excited I became about joining forces with others working to abolish modern-day slavery, which is exactly what human trafficking is.

What was your favorite scene to write in Deliver Me From Evil?

Kathi–This book/series has been the most difficult I’ve ever written, simply because the subject matter is so dark and heavy. More than once I had to walk away and clear my thoughts before moving on from one scene to another. But interspersed between the heartache and tragedy are several lighter scenes (written and incorporated into the book out of necessity), dealing with a pastor’s family and their Bible college-bound son who inadvertently discovers the human trafficking ring and becomes involved in the heroic and dramatic rescue attempt. Any scenes revolving around the absolutely functional and loving life of the Flannery family are my favorites.

What was the most difficult scene, and why?

Kathi–There were many difficult scenes in this book due to the subject matter, but the hardest had to be when the main character, 18-year-old Mara, realizes that one of the younger girls is being tortured and killed in an effort to extract information and punish her. Though the actual violence is done offstage, Mara experiences each blow and muffled scream, as does the reader.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? If not, how did you catch the writing bug?

Kathi–Oh yes, I never wanted to be anything else. From the time I discovered the power and allure of words, I was hooked! I was an avid reader before I started kindergarten. A short story I wrote in the third grade was turned into a play for the entire PTA, and I won all sorts of awards for poetry in high school. I even told my then boyfriend (now husband) Al when we were in our early teens that I was going to be a writer one day.

How do you go about writing your fiction books? Which comes first for you, plot, characters, and/or theme?

Kathi–I usually get what I call “a niggling in my soul,” which eventually emerges into the very basic theme of the book. I hate outlining and writing proposals because I do NOT develop plots or even characters ahead of time. I start with a couple of main characters, a starting and ending point for my story, and just let the rest unfold as I go. I know. We’re not supposed to do it that way, but it works for me, and I so enjoy the surprises as the story develops and my characters take over. So much fun! So long as they don’t try to lead me away from my pre-determined ending. Then I have to reign them back in a bit.

How do you get your ideas for your books?

Kathi–I have ideas coming out of my ears! I am a seriously addictive idea person. You want ideas? You can have my overflow! My challenge is to figure out which ones are worth pursuing. Not every cute or fun or even meaningful idea that pops into our head is meant to be a book. I pray, think, study, bounce them off people, etc., before committing to moving ahead with one of them. For the most part, however, nearly all my book ideas are, to one degree or another, born out of some moral or social issue that I care about.

How can we find out more about you, The Freedom Series, and other books you are writing?

Kathi–Please visit my website at KathiMacias.com.

Here is the Book Trailer:

I was given a complimentary copy of this book from the author in exchange for posting the author’s interview on my blog. This blog tour is managed by Christian Speakers Services (ChristianSpeakersServices.com). 

Now for what you’ve been waiting for:  your chance to win a copy of this book.  

Here’s how to do it.

1. “Like” ReadGreatFiction on facebook, and leave a comment on the link to this book= one entry  (if you already “like” ReadGreatFiction just leave a comment)

2. Get your friends to “like” ReadGreatFiction.  For each friend that leaves a comment and mentions your name you will receive another entry.

The drawing will be held on October 31, at which time I will announce the winner on this blog and at ReadGreatFiction on Facebook.

Eric Wilson

One Step AwayAlthough Eric Wilson was born in California, and grew up in Oregon, his most enduring memories revolve around the time he lived in Europe where his parents served as missionaries, smuggling Bibles behind the Iron Curtain. He found life to be an adventure with all the different exotic cultures and people he came into contact with. 

During Junior high and High School, Eric found himself back in the states.  After graduation, he took time to travel in Eastern Europe and China, before returning to attend  Life Pacific College in California. Eric WilsonEric Wilson

During his junior year of college, a childhood friend began attending, and within months they were married. Twenty years and two daughters later, Eric and his family live in Nashville, TN where he and his wife still enjoy going on dates. 

 From an early age, Eric knew he wanted to be a Eric WilsonEric Wilsonwriter. He is passionate about telling stories about real characters who struggle with life’s questions and are thrown into some very suspenseful situations.  He also likes exploring earth’s ongoing tension between heaven and hell.

I recently had the opportunity to ask Eric a few questions.

Eric WilsonKristen:   What is your favorite thing about writing books?

Eric:  On the creative end, I love seeing the characters and story come to life, then hearing how readers filter those things in specific ways. On the publishing end, I love seeing the cover for the first time. It gives the new baby a face.Eric Wilson

 Kristen:   How about your least favorite thing about writing?

 Eric:  I get tired of sitting for thousands of hours a year alone at my desk. It’s a marathon of the heart and mind.Eric WilsonKristen:  Do you have an all time favorite character that you created?

Eric:  Oh, don’t ask me to choose from among my “children.” I love Sgt. Turney. And Gina Lazarescu. I want to do more stories with Cal Nichols someday. My favorite, though, would have to be Aramis Black.Eric WilsonKristen:  I’ve noticed lately that quite a few really good Christian authors were either missionary kids, or were/are missionaries themselves. How do you think being a MK influenced you as a writer?

Eric:  Missionaries learn to adapt to other cultures and speak in ways that can be understood outside their own home. I think these are helpful for a novelist.Eric Wilson

 Kristen: In your new book, One Step Away, The Vreeland family is given material wealth as a test by Satan to see if they will abandon their faith in God. Most people consider financial success a blessing. Do you think they are misleading themselves?

 Eric:  Wealthis a distinctly American trait of spiritual blessing. All around the world, Christians serve the Lord in poverty, famine, and hardship. They will receive their reward in heaven. In America, many Christians receive their rewards here on earth. I don’t think money or wealth are wrong to have and enjoy, but I do think we are wrong to measure spiritual success by it. Hugh Hefner is a pretty wealthy guy, last I heard.Eric Wilson

 Kristen: Just for fun, would you tell us something really crazy you have done, or something about yourself that would really surprise your readers?

 Eric:  I used to live in the Himalayas, when I was a boy. I’ve seen the Taj Mahal, Petra, the Great Wall, and some of the other wonders of the world. And yet, I’ve never gone overseas with more than a few hundred dollars in my bank account. The walk of faith is exciting and often unnerving. Believe me, I’d love to be independently wealthy so I could focus my energy on other things. Maybe God knows I need a fire lit under me to motivate my writing. Maybe someday I’ll learn. Or maybe, just maybe, I’ll have to wait for a reward on the other side and serve and love Him with all my heart down here.

Eric Wilson

 Eric has written eleven published novels through Waterbrook press, Thomas Nelson, and most recently through Bay Forrest Books.

DARK TO MORTAL EYES (’04)
EXPIRATION DATE (’05)
THE BEST OF EVIL (’06)
A SHRED OF TRUTH (’07)
FACING THE GIANTS (’07)
FLYWHEEL (’08)
FIREPROOF (’08)
FIELD OF BLOOD (’08)
HAUNT OF JACKALS (’09)
VALLEY OF BONES (’10)
ONE STEP AWAY (’11)
TWO SECONDS LATE (’12)

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dry as Rain by Gina Holmes –book release interview

Gina Holmes is the bestselling author of Crossing Oceans and the newly released novel, DRY AS RAIN. She’s the founder of Novel Rocket, (formerly Novel Journey), a registered nurse,  wife and mother who makes her home in Southern Virginia. You can learn more about her at www.ginaholmes.com 


Your debut novel hit ECPA, Amazon, PW and CBA bestsellers list (some throughout the span of a year!) For several weeks Crossing Oceans was the #1 free kindle download and then stay in the top hundred for a long time.
Beside the commercial success, your book was a finalist in every major Christian book award, including: Christy, ECPA, Retailer’s Choice, Carol Awards, and won RWA’s Inspirational Reader’s Choice and an INSPY. Does having that kind of success put the pressure on for your second book?
I try not to think too much about it. I didn’t expect that kind of success but am very grateful for it. I had a lot of pressure on me on this releasing novel, not because of the success of the first book, but because, unlike the first, I didn’t have all the time in the world to write it. Some books flow smoothly, this one I had to yank out like a bad tooth. I faced multiple rewrites, some of them pretty major, all while trying to promote my all important first novel. I was still working full time, mothering, running Novel Journey (now Novel Rocket) and all of that, so this was a tough tough book for me to produce.
Tell our readers about your latest release, Dry as Rain:
I’m a really bad pitchman so I’ll just repeat the back of the book copy:
Behind every broken vow lies a broken heart.
When Eric and Kyra Yoshida first met, they thought their love would last forever. But like many marriages, theirs has gradually crumbled, one thoughtless comment and misunderstanding at a time, until the ultimate betrayal pushes them beyond reconciliation. Though Eric longs to reunite with Kyra, the only woman he has truly loved, he has no idea how to repair the damage that’s been done.
Then a car accident erases part of Kyra’s memory—including her separation from Eric—and a glimmer of hope rises from the wreckage. Is this a precious opportunity for the fresh start Eric has longed for? Does he even deserve the chance to find forgiveness and win back Kyra’s heart . . . or will the truth blow up in his face, shattering their last hope for happiness? A richly engaging story of betrayal and redemption, Dry as Rain illuminates with striking emotional intensity the surprising truth of what it means to forgive.
You can read the first chapter HERE. 
This novel feels so much different than Crossing Oceans. Why did you choose to take such a different path?
I didn’t intend to write something completely different and I think it feels that way because of the characters telling the story. In Crossing Oceans, Jenny was our narrator and she was a melancholy, all woman sort.
In Dry as Rain, we have Eric, who is a man’s man and doesn’t think in flowery language and descriptions so it would have been wrong to write him that way. While both books have a heavy subject matter, Crossing Oceans was much more so. You can’t get heavier than dying, so it was bound to be more emotional, no matter how I wrote the next book.
But, my genre seems to be relational drama which both are and I like to pepper in a quirky cast and that’s true of both books.
You took a lot of chances in this book. First writing first person from a male’s perspective, secondly to have the protagonist someone who does a lot of things that aren’t very Christianly, like cheating on his wife, drinking, lying, etc. Are you afraid this might hurt your sales in the Christian market?
Afraid? No. Concerned, sure. While I don’t personally have a problem with Eric drinking a beer, the rest I have a problem with too. The thing is Eric’s a nominal Christian at the beginning of the book, lukewarm about his faith like many who call themselves followers of Christ. This is his journey though and he doesn’t end up where he begins. I wanted to tell the story as truthfully as I could and at the end of the day let the chips fall where they may.
What happened to your long time website, Novel Journey?
www.noveljourney.blogspot.com is now www.novelrocket.com You can get to it by either address but we decided on an overhaul because we wanted to drop the blogspot address and just have a dot com. The guy who owned Novel Journey didn’t return our emails to sell so we had to do something a little different. This turned out to be a good thing maybe because we’d been chewing on broadening the site for some time. We’ve got some exciting changes now, the most notable is the addition of “Rocket Pages” a sort of Craig’s List for writers to find the services they need to launch and sustain their career.
What’s going on with you personally?
Well, I’m blissfully married, mom to two, stepmom to three, and owner of 2 dogs and a fish. I bought a guitar and hope to start fiddling with that soon and just writing a lot. Nothing too exciting over here but that’s the way I like it. I’m the happiest I’ve been in my life. I’ve accomplished many of the dreams and goals I’d hoped to and I always tell my husband, if I died today, I’d feel I lived and full and rewarding life. Not that I’m looking to die just yet.
What are you working on now?
I can’t give the title yet as that’s a work in progress but it’s a story very close to my heart. I’m more excited about this one than anything I’ve ever written. Hopefully my publisher agrees and you see it on the stands in the next year or so. That’s really all I can say for now.
Tell us something we don’t know about you.
I’ll tell you a few. I thought I was afraid of heights until I bungee-jumped and loved it. I’d love to skydive for the first time in the next year, white water raft and get at least a little skill on the guitar. My husband is a talented songwriter. My kids are the sweetest in the world, (yes, the world!), and I love to get my hands dirty. That should do it. Thanks for having me!

Robin Parrish

Born October 13, 1975 in Thomasville, North Carolina, Robin Parrish began his writing career on a plastic, toy typewriter.  By age thirteen he had begun winning local writing awards. A feature on a website he started ultimately led to his life as  a fiction author.  On the site he created a serialized tale with a segment published  every two weeks  over the course of  nine months. The  story came to the attention of several publishers who saw its Relentlesspotential as a debut novel. In 2005, Bethany House Publishers contracted him for the rights to not only that book, but two Fearlesssequels.  These books became the Dominion Trilogy (Relentless, Fearless, and Merciless)–fast paced suspense/thrillers that not only crossedMerciless genre lines, but wiped them out altogether.  Since then he’s kept us sitting on the edge of our seats with Offworld, Nightmare, and the newly released Vigilante. Always pushing the envelope, ever on the edgeOffworld of where modern storytelling is going, Robin Parrish will gladly and unapologetically tell you that he’s an entertainer, a weaver of Nightmarestories that ignite the mind and delight the heart. Defying labels and refusing pigeonholes, his imagination is fueled by the possibilities of asking “What if…?”, and as anyone who’s read Vigilantehis work knows, he has a very big imagination. Readers will be happy to know that he has an endless supply of wild stories with enormous scope, that are still yet to come. Robin is a full-time writer. He and his wife Karen and two children live in High Point, NC. I recently had the opportunity to talk with Robin: Kristen:  Let me start by saying that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed all your books to date, and am really looking forward to reading Vigilante.  I was wondering though, which of your characters have you enjoyed writing the most?

Robin:  That is a question I don’t think anyone has ever asked me before! And it’s a really juicy one.
Without a doubt, my favorite character to write was Payton from the Dominion Trilogy. The world through his eyes is such an extraordinarily clear-cut place with a powerful moral code, where there’s absolute right and absolute wrong and nothing in between. I love his directness, his integrity, and that he doesn’t suffer fools. He’s a man of action, not words, yet he has a rather acidic tongue that speaks only the truth.
He was the first character I ever wrote that entered my mind 100% fully formed, and never once did he deviate from that initial mental image.
A close second would probably be Maia from Nightmare. It was impossible to spend so much time under her skin (since Nightmare was written first-person from her perspective) and not love that character and really get to know her inside and out.

Kristen:  Have you ever had a character that really grated on your nerves? Robin:  Wow, another fascinating question. I’ve never really considered that one before. Hmm…

I can’t think of anyone that had that fingernails-on-chalkboard quality, where I just cringed every time they opened their mouth. Some very minor characters that only appeared in one or two scenes, maybe.
Oblivion from Merciless was the closest I’ve ever come to creating a character that embodies absolute evil. He was a creature who thrived on death, who needed to kill the way that we need to breathe. I wouldn’t say he grated, but writing him was almost painful at times.

Kristen: Your stories tell some amazing tales.  Does the finished work usually tell the same tale you intended to write when you began, or do the stories take on a life of their own as you write? Robin:   I’m a very strong believer in the importance of a good outline, because stream-of-consciousness writing, in my experience as a reader, tends to have no sense of flow or pacing. Too much time is spent on some subplot where more time should have been spent on something more important. That sort of thing.

So yes, there’s always a strong resemblance between my original outline and the finished product. I do leave room for better ideas that occur to me along the way, and that happens with every book. The degree to which each book differs from my outline is different each time. Offworld, for instance, changed significantly during the writing process, while Nightmare was nearly identical to its outline. Vigilante was somewhere between the two.

Kristen: When you aren’t writing, what are you most likely to be found doing? Robin:   These days I spend almost all of my time writing, just trying to pay the bills. When I get a snatch of free time, I love to play with my kids, spend time with my beautiful wife, or partake of a good story by someone else. I rarely read books these days, but I enjoy an engrossing movie or TV serial, and I still love a good video game. Kristen: What is something about you that would surprise your readers? Robin:   I can wiggle my ears.

Not very exciting, I know. Okay, how about this: before I knew that writing was my purpose, I seriously considered becoming an architect. I got quite good at drafting in high school, and I’m a decent sketch artist even now. Nothing remotely special, mind you. But it’s something I dabble in on occasion.

Kristen:  Tell us a little bit about Vigilante, and why you decided to write this particular book. Robin:   I got the idea for Vigilante while talking to another writer, years ago. We were talking about the ways in which Christians interact with the world, and in particular how we carry out the Great Commission. On one end of the spectrum, you’ve got people who try to forge a relationship with someone, and let their lives be their witness. On the other end, you’ve got the people on street corners, holding up signs that proclaim John 3:16 or approaching strangers in public places and basically trying to forcethem to become a believer.

There was something in the tension between those two viewpoints that struck me as very interesting, and I couldn’t think of an instance of another novelist using that as story fodder before. That was the initial spark.
From there, Vigilante grew and grew, and I incorporated loads of other ideas and some storytelling elements that I enjoy — such as super-heroics — and to me, it ultimately became this really interesting character study wrapped inside a non-stop roller-coaster adventure.
Vigilante represents a lot of firsts for me. It’s got more social commentary in it than anything I’ve done before, it’s got deeper characterizations and motivations than anything I’ve done before, and for the first time ever, it’s a story set in the real world, with no supernatural elements to it. It’s the first time that I have a really fleshed-out, complex villain, who I think manages to be both repugnant and sympathetic at the same time.
Those things are by design. I always challenge myself to best what I’ve done before, to try new and different things. I’m a suspense/thriller writer, but under that umbrella I jump from genre to genre with each book I write, because I don’t want to get pigeonholed and I don’t ever want to get stale. I love lots of different kinds of stories and I’m eager to try my hand at them all! And not just books — I want to write for other mediums as well. Stay tuned for an exciting announcement on that front, by the way!
Robin Parrish

Robin Parrish wants to take you on a ride.  A wild ride — which is exactly what you’re in for when you pick up one of his books. And he’s adamant that it will never be the same kind of experience twice.

C.J. Darlington

C.J. Darlington burst onto the scene of Christian fiction three years ago when she won the Jerry B Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Operation First Novel Contest with her first novel, Thicker than Blood

Books have been a part of C.J.’s life since she was a young child–both as a writer and a reader.  She says every book she read influenced her in some way, but it was as a young teen when she read Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti that things changed. “Nothing was the same after that”, she said.

When she was fifteen, she started writing the book that would eventually become Thicker than Blood.  But as C.J. says, writers aren’t born overnight.  She finished writing the book many years after she began writing it.  In 2004 She entered the book in the Operation First Novel Contest run by The Christian Writers guild.  At the time the book was only 67,000 words and needed a lot of work.  It placed as one of the twenty semi-finalists, and gave C.J. the self-esteem boost she needed to begin submitting the book to publishers.

So C. J. submitted the book and was rejected, and she submitted the book again and was rejected again.  This situation repeated itself over and over again.  Some editors were kind enough to give her suggestions, so C.J. would tweak the manuscript, add to the story, and submit it again.  Eventually she began to become so discouraged by the rejections that she was ready to pack the book away in a drawer and begin focusing on getting her second book published.

C.J. decided to give the book one more chance and submit the much improvedC.J. Darlington version to the 2008 Operation First Novel contest.  She figured that if it placed again she would know that the book wasn’t completely rubbish, and if it didn’t she would know that it was time to move on.  She entered the book two weeks before the contest closed for the year.  In November C.J. Darlingtonshe found out the book was one of four finalists being considered.  She was elated and decided that maybe the book was publishable after all.

In February at the Christian Writer’s guild annual conference, C.J. was amazed when they announced on stage that Thicker than Blood had won the contest.  She received for winning, a contract with Tyndale house.  Thicker than blood was released in 2010.  Her second novel, Bound by Guilt was released in February 2011.

C.J. Darlington is an identical mirror image twin who was homeschooled throughout her school days.  She loves camping (the more primitive the better), and has traveled the country in an RV visiting 44 states and having all kinds of crazy adventures.

She has been in the antiquarian bookselling business for over twelve years, scouting for stores similar to the ones in her novels before co-founding her own online bookstore.  In 2006 C.J. and her sister Tracey founded the Christian Entertainment website TitleTrakk.

I recently had the opportunity to interview C.J.  Here’s what she had to say:

Kristen:  You’re involved in writing, bookselling, and running an entertainment website.  If you weren’t doing any of these things, what would you most likely be doing?

C.J.:   I would love to be involved with something that involved animals or working outdoors. Lately I’ve had a real love of horses–learning how to ride, train, and understand them. It would be awesome to have the chance to work with them on a daily basis. Especially if I could work alongside someone who was much more advanced and skilled.

Kristen:  You say on your webpage that as a child you enjoyed reading the Childhood of Famous Americans series and the Landmark series, both historical fiction.  If you could  know one of these historical figures personally, who would it be?

C.J.:   I remember loving a book on Sacagawea. Wouldn’t it be fascinating to hear her perspective and insights on the Lewis and Clark expedition? Or Pocahontas. I went through a huge phase as a kid fascinated with the American Indians. I’m not really sure why, but I loved reading about them.

Kristen:  What does C.J. Stand for?

C.J.:   A girl’s gotta have some secrets, Kristen!! 🙂

Kristen:  How do you think being homeschooled has contributed to your success as an author?

C.J.:   Being homeschooled was HUGE for me. I truly believe that if it weren’t for homeschooling I wouldn’t be talking with you today about writing. I learned how to teach myself through learning at home. That’s enormous for me now as an adult. If I don’t understand something or want to learn something new, I don’t necessarily have to go out and take a course on the subject. I can research and discover for myself. I learned how to write fiction purely on my own through reading other novels and how-to books on the craft. Asking advice from others also played a part, but I am so thankful to my parents for making the sacrifices they did to enable me to be educated at home.

Kristen:  I’ve heard a lot of talk among Christian authors on balancing storytelling with sharing biblical truth.  How does your faith affect what you write?

C.J.:   My faith is the reason I write the stories I do. I want to share with others the hope I have. I do that by writing about flawed characters, usually at their lowest points. I want people to know that no one is ever too far gone for God to love and forgive. Some of my stories are more direct than others, of course. But the spiritual aspect is always there in some fashion or another. I don’t always know the direction the story will take along these lines until I’m in the midst of writing it, but I try to pray and ask the Lord for guidance. He’s given me ideas at the spur of the moment that have really surprised me! If one person is touched by what I write, it will be worth it.

Kristen:  Do you have a work-in-progress right now?

C.J.:  Yes, ma’am! I am currently writing my third novel and am about halfway through the rough draft. I’ve gone through a couple drafts of this story already, but I think I might’ve finally discovered the story I want to tell. I’ll keep you posted!

Brandilyn Collins

C.J. with Brandilyn Collins. Long before it was published, Brandilyn actually critiqued an early version of a scene in Thicker than Blood on her blog.

If you haven’t read C.J.’s books, be sure to pick them up sometime soon.  You won’t be disappointed.

Ronie Kendig

Ronie Kendig, a self proclaimed Army Brat, grew up in the classic military family with her father often on temporary duty and her mother holding down the proverbial fort.

Both of her  parents were born in other countries.  Her dad had US citizenship through his father, but her mom immigrated to the States when she was 18 and later became naturalized.  Also, Ronie has one brother.

Their family moved often, which left Ronie attending six schools by the time she’d entered fourth grade.  Her only respite and “friends” during this time were the characters she created.

It was no surprise when, more than twenty years ago, she married a military veteran.  Ronie describes her husband Brian as her real-life hero.    Despite the craziness of life, Ronie finds balance and peace with her faith, family and their two dogs a Golden Retriever, and a Maltese Menace in Dallas, TX.

Ronie’s mornings and days are spent  with her four children whom she homeschools (the first of which graduated in 2011), and then after dinner, she locks herself away and writes.  Some days she can get 2-3 chapters done, others, 2-3 pages.

Ronie has a deep love and passion for people, especially hurting people, which is why she pursued and obtained a B.S. in Psychology from Liberty University. Ronie is an active member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and has volunteered extensively,  serving in capacities ranging from coordinator of a national contest to appointment assistant at the national/annual conference.

Since launching onto the publishing scene in 2010, Ronie and her books have been gained national attention, including:

  • Finalist in Christian Retailing’s 2011 Readers’ ChoiceRonie Kendig Awards (Nightshade)
  • Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope, & Love’s 2011 International  Readers’ Choice Awards in Romantic Suspense (Nightshade)
  • 2011 FamilyFiction Ronie KendigReaders’ Choice Awards – 8th place with Nightshade, 3rd place as New Favorite Author
  • INSPY Award Shortlist final in Mystery/Thriller (Dead Reckoning)Ronie Kendig
  • The Christian Manifesto’s 2010 Lime Award for Excellence in Christian Fiction (Nightshade)Ronie Kendig

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Ronie.  Here’s what she had to say.

Kristen:  When you’re not writing, what do you enjoy spending your time doing?

Ronie:  I prefer to do something—anything—that puts me in motion, whether painting/redecorating, shopping, or being out with my kiddos. It really helps invigorate me and stir up creativity!

Kristen:  You really have a heart for military personnel.  What do you see as the biggest struggle for our servicemen and women today?

Ronie:   Despite great advances in the military’s recognition of PTSD and TBI (traumatic brain injury), there is still a great need to support our troops in a variety of ways. Many of the enlisted struggled to support their families on tiny wages while veterans are seeing severe benefit cuts (I know of one retired officer who’s disability pay was cut ninety percent—and he’s nearing retirement!). So, I think anything we can do, like partnering with organizations like Soldiers’ Angels and The Wounded Warrior Project to reach out to our military heroes is very beneficial.

Kristen:  Do you have a current work in progress?

Ronie:  Indeed, I do—I’m currently working on the last pieces of research for the military war dog series Barbour Contracted in January. The first book, Trinity: Military War Dog, will release in August 2012.

Kristen:  Which of your characters would you most want to be friends with?

Ronie:   Now, that’s not fair and could get me in a lot of trouble with my characters. LOL Let’s say each of them has a unique quality that I would love to have around. Max—his no-nonsense, get the to the heart of the matter approach. Cowboy’s Southern charm and deeply rooted faith. Canyon’s quiet but quick intelligence and sense of honor. Legend’s unflappable personality and his ability to believe in others when they don’t’ believe in themselves. Then there’s all the women of Nightshade. . .

Kristen:  How do you think moving around so much and changing schools as a child affected the way you view friendships as an adult?

Ronie:  It affected me great—both in my education and my friendships. As an adult, I’ve had to learn how to nurture friendships, how to be a friend. I’m used to moving a lot and often and not really having deep roots in anything or any friendships. It’s nice, however, with the internet to have friends for years and reconnect with those friends I had in high school. It’s challenging to say the least.

Kristen:  What type of books do you like to read and who are your favorite authors?

Ronie:  There are three basic types of books I like to read: thrillers, historical (can you believe it?), and supernatural/speculative. My favorite authors include Robert Liparulo, Stephen Lawhead, Kathy Tyers, Steven James, Joel Rosenberg, Lisa Bergren, MaryLu Tyndall…

Ronie has described herself as being A Jelly Fish in a Rhino Industry.   She’s very sensitive, empathetic and softhearted.   “I can sense pain and heartache.” she says, “I’m not easily angered—unless I see someone being made fun of or ridiculed.  I take things personally. . .because life is personal—it’s about people, about those around me.”

As I said in my review , if you only read one book this year make it Wolfsbane by Ronie Kendig–You won’t be disappointed.

Jeanette Windle

A daughter of American missionaries, Jeanette Windle grew up in the jungles and small towns of Colombia, now guerrilla hot zones.  Jeanette graduated from Prairie Bible College in Three Hills, Alberta.  In 1985, Jeanette and her husband Martin moved to Bolivia to work with a nondenominational Christian mission organization. While her husband served as director, Jeanette worked with women and children at risk in varied regions of Bolivia.

Jeanette Windle

Jeanette WindleJeanette’s first book, Kathy and the Readhead,  was a group of stories based on her life growing up at a Missionary Kid Boarding School.  This was followed by the six books of the Parker Twins Adventure Series, a young adult mystery-suspense series set in a multi-cultural background, and a teen novel Jana’s Journal.

Her first major adult political/suspense novel, CrossFire Jeanette Windle(2000), was set against background of the counter-narcotics Jeanette Windlewar in Bolivia she was witnessing firsthand, This was followed by The DMZ (2004), set in the guerrilla zones of Colombia where she grew up, and FireStorm (2004) the sequel to Crossfire.  These were published all by Kregel Publications.

Betrayed (2008), set in the background of Guatemala’s fifty year civil conflict, was released by Tyndale House Publishers.   Veiled Freedom (2009), set in Afghanistan, was a 2010 Christy Award finalist and 2010 Christian Book Award finalist.  Her newest book, Jeanette WindleFreedom’s Stand (2011), is the sequel to Veiled Freedom.  It was released in  June, and Jeanette Windlewas nominated AWSA (Advanced Writer Speaker Association) 2011 Golden Scroll Novel of the Year.

Jeanette and her husband Marty moved to Miami in 2000, and to Lancaster, PA, in 2006.  Jeanette  speaks and travels extensively both in the U.S. and internationally, and serves as consulting editor and mentor to developing writers  in the U.S. and abroad.  She is currently president of Lancaster Christian Writers.

I had a chance recently to ask Jeanette a few questions.

Kristen:  You have been to many countries over the years. If you could visit one country you haven’t been to before where would you go?

Jeanette Actually, I have many countries on my ‘bucket list’ to visit someday, so it is hard to nail it down to one. If you’d asked a few months ago, I’d have said Israel, a country I never expected in my lifetime to have opportunity for visiting since I usually only travel for ministry. But God opened the doors beyond all my expectations to spend 12 days in Israel just this last spring. So I would have to narrow it down to my current top five: Greece, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Indonesia and Democratic Republic of Congo. The last two are because of ministry partnerships there, so it is NOT a coincidence that the others are all beautiful tropical islands. Growing up in Colombia and Venezuela, I was privileged to vacation on the Caribbean, which gave me a taste for tropical beaches.

Kristen: Your books contain Americans getting into some pretty scary and dangerous situations overseas. What is the scariest or most dangerous situation you have been in yourself while in another country?

Jeanette:   The scariest situations are truly ones on which I’d rather not dwell. Racing along an Andes mountain cliff in a bus with my four small children and a drunk driver behind the wheel. Thieves coming over the wall at night in Sucre, Bolivia, while my husband was on a trip, leaving myself and kids barricaded in the main house and a single female missionary barricaded in her apartment at the rear of the property. I LOVE heavy steel doors and thick bars on windows. A knife being held to my six month old son’s throat. Accidentally finding myself witnessing a drug deal while on a walk–and having to get out before being noticed. The usual pickpockets, riots, strikes, road blocks where local law enforcement are far more frightening than any guerrillas could be.

 So I’ll share the scariest one that was my own fault. My husband was again on a trip to mountain and jungle churches in Bolivia, leaving me with our three preschoolers (my life in our early ministry days) when a column easily ten feet wide of army ants headed up our short, concrete driveway towards our tiny, colonial-style house (600 square feet built around an unroofed central courtyard). With no husband to call and three small children to protect, I had to think fast. My five year old eldest son helped me as I splashed the column thoroughly with kerosene. I did make sure he went inside the house before tossing a match. I had no idea kerosene could explode so thoroughly! It did incinerate the ant column along with my bangs and eyelashes. It was truly a miracle I didn’t kill myself and leave three babies stranded until my husband came home.

Kristen Do you have a work currently in progress?

Jeanette I am currently writing what will be my next political/suspense novel set in the Ituri rainforest of northeast Democratic Republic of Congo, tentatively titled Congo Dawn.

KristenWhat kind of books do you like to read yourself, and who is your favorite author?

 Jeanette Perhaps as consequence of a life spent in so many countries and cultures, I can honestly say I have no favorites, whether foods, colors, countries, cultures, etc. I hugely enjoy the fabulous variety with which God has endowed this planet, and that includes literature as well. I will read anything of any genre as long as it is superbly written. Much depends what I’m currently writing. A few months ago my nightstand was filled with books related to Afghanistan, where my last two novels, Veiled Freedom and Freedom’s Stand, take place. Now for the same reason, it is filled with non-fiction and fiction related to the Congo, setting of my current WIP.  I read several books a week and enjoy all the most recent best-sellers as well as re-reading or discovering classics. Because I read so quickly and am constantly out of reading material, I LOVE having other readers inform me of a book they have loved and which I’ve yet to read—so feel free to send me recommendations.

 But here are a few of my top choices: When it comes to inspirational reading, the beautiful prose of Max Lucado and Philip Keller and the meditative profundity of A. W. Tozer, Andrew Murray, Brother Lawrence. Chaim Potok (The Chosen, The Promise) is a novelist who impacted me in sharing his passion for El Shaddai, Torah and his Jewish heritage in mainstream fiction as Christians so often hesitate to do. Fredrick Forsyth (Hunt for the Jackal, Odessa Files) and Leon Uris (Exodus, Armageddon) whetted my appetite for tight suspense interwoven with thorough political research. In other areas, I’m an eclectic reader, so have enjoyed the gamut of great writers in every genre:

1)      historical fiction: M. M. Kaye, Kenneth Roberts, Leon Uris; Elizabeth Goudge: The Dean’s Watch and her Pilgrim’s Inn series.

2)      political/suspense: Frederick Forsyth, Tom Clancy, John Grisham, Alistair McClain, Robin Cook;

3)      science fiction: J.R.R. Tolkien, Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, Patricia McKillip, Robin McKinley, C.S. Lewis;

4)      mystery: Agatha Christie, Mary Higgins Clark,  Mary Stewart, Madelaine Brent, Georgette Heyer;

5)      romance: I must say I’m still a sucker for a good Georgette Heyer, though all mine were tattered years ago;

6)      westerns: Louis L’Amour is the only one I read, but he is good enough to convert even a non-Western fan.

And so much more!

I have enjoyed getting to know Jeanette through her books and through Lancaster Christian Writers.  Having Read Veiled Freedom and Freedom’s Stand, I have begun to go back and read her earlier works.  I just finished Crossfire and am anxious to start it’s sequel Firestorm.  Having several friends who are missionaries in Bolivia, it has been interesting to get a feel for the culture through these well written stories.  Only an author who has been there is going to be able to so visibly bring across images like this one from Crossfire:

And the smell!  It settled over the car in an overpowering wave as Doug ushered the new passengers into the back seat.  Sara had never been at close quarters with the particular odor of the Bolivian campesino–a combination of infrequent washing, hand woven wool, no deodorant, and hours spent walking under a tropical sun–and she had to bite her lip to keep her nose from wrinkling with distaste.

God has definitely brought Jeanette through many life experiences that make her uniquely able to bring us the so many wonderful stories she writes.  I hope you will consider picking up one of her titles for your next read.

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