It has been fun getting to know Norma Gail. She is also a Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas author who has a heart for all things Scottish.
In her book, Land of My Dreams, Norma takes us on a journey through the high desert of New Mexico and the lush hills of Scotland.
Bonnie has traveled from New Mexico to Scotland to teach at a Christian school and to heal from the death of her parents and a fiancé who deserted her. There she meets fellow teacher and sheep farmer Kieran who is still suffering from the death of his wife and baby. As a result of their human losses, they have also both lost faith in God. This is a tale of their growing relationship, with its pitfalls and misunderstandings, and addresses the theme of being equally yoked. They each must address their journey with God, which has its own challenges. Land of My Dreams will keep your attention to the very end.
I’m pleased to welcome Norma Gail as she celebrates the third anniversary of the release of her debut novel, Land of my Dreams. I truly enjoyed this story, but then I love all things Scottish, including the skirl of the bagpipes. Norma truly makes the reader feel like they are wandering the highlands with all its craggy charm.
Please tell us something about yourself, Norma.
Thank you for inviting me, Janet! I really appreciate it! I live in the mountains of central New Mexico with my husband of 40 years. We have two adult children and a sweet daughter-in-love. I have wanted to be a published author since I was a child but never had the nerve or time to pursue writing seriously until my children were grown. Following a career as an RN, as well as being a homeschooling soccer mom, I decided it was “now or never.” I was 59 years old when my debut novel released.
What sparked your interest in writing?
I loved to read as a child, devouring everything including the back of the cereal box at breakfast. I have been known to cook or load the dishwasher with a book in one hand. My husband and kids are not big readers and think I’m insane. The book that most influenced my desire to write was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I wanted to be like Jo March. I began writing poetry and making up stories as a child. My best friend and I were the teacher’s pets of our creative writing teacher in high school, but I chose nursing as a profession.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?
I am a dedicated “seat of the pants,” writer though a historical trilogy is going to force me into outlining and plotting. I love following an idea and seeing where the characters take me! It can be quite surprising. Anyone who has not written fiction may have a difficult time understanding that, but characters do take on lives of their own.
What do you find most challenging about being a writer? (research, plotting or organizing a story, marketing, or something else)
Research is an absolute delight. Organizing a story can get a little dicey at times, but is a great challenge. Plotting becomes a necessity at some point. I think most writers would agree that marketing is a huge downer. It’s fun talking to people in person about your book, but hours on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media is not fun. I love guest blogging and hosting other authors on my blog. I promote their books because I wish someone would have given me a hand when I was a newbie, but I will never say I like it.
What was your inspiration behind creating Land of my Dreams?
Land of My Dreams began as a dream, believe it or not! My husband and I visited Scotland for our thirtieth wedding anniversary and during the planning; I began to dream of a man in a kilt standing on a misty mountainside with his bagpipes surrounded by sheep. I have to say, we saw nothing like that in Scotland, though there were plenty of sheep. However, the dream began to rattle around in my head during the daytime. It’s not unusual for me to dream up stories about interesting places we see when we travel, but when I broke my foot and ended up in a wheelchair, I decided it was time to see if I had what it took to be a published author. I received my book contract following my second writer’s conference.
God often teaches us something through our writing. What did you learn about life, faith, or yourself in the process of writing this story?
I learned that I don’t have a lot of self-control when it comes to writing. I get so carried away with what is going on in my head that I can ignore meals, oven timers, and the disappearance of daylight. I have been found writing in my pajamas at 3 in the afternoon. God has really convicted me about making my time with Him happen and taking care of the necessities of home and family before I allow myself to begin writing in the mornings. I am pretty good about it most days now. I led women’s Bible studies for 21 years, so Bible study is a passion of mine. I cannot write without including spiritual lessons in the story. I believe God wants me to spread His message in a way that reaches people who might not pick up a Bible. I also love writing devotionals and often write my weekly devotional for my blog as a part of my quiet time.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
My favorite quote from my book is “Sometimes the greatest blessings come when we leave the familiar behind and take a step of faith.” We have to step out of our comfort zone and trust God to lead us to what He has for us, even if it scares the daylights out of us. He is always going to be there to guide us to His best for our lives. Walking into a writer’s conference and pitching a book for the first time when you’re 58 years old is somewhat intimidating, especially when some people there have studied writing for years. In my book, Bonny Bryant, an American college professor, leaves behind everything she has ever known to escape heartbreak and teach at a college in Scotland. In fleeing a broken heart, she finds a love greater than anything she ever dreamed of and challenges that make it seem that she will never be with Kieran MacDonell, the love of her life. Learning to trust God to lead both of them to where He wants them to be is the theme of the story.
Do you have a sequel written or planned?
My sequel is written and has been submitted to the publisher. I await an email telling me if they have accepted it or not. It is a romantic suspense and was much more difficult to write than the first book because the characters would not behave. I have completed a romantic novella, and am researching a historical trilogy based on old family stories dating from the Revolutionary War into the early 1920’s.
Thank you so much, for being my guest, Norma.
Thank you for inviting me, Janet! I loved A Heart Set Free! Your readers are invited to visit http://www.normagail.org/land-of-my-dreams-celebration/ to enter the giveaways I am offering for my book’s third Birthday Celebration!
Where can readers find Land of my Dreams?
Land of My Dreams is available through Amazon and the publisher, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.
Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas: https://lpcbooks.com/norma-gail/
What are your social media sights?
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Norma-Gail/e/B00ILHXBAK/
Book trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQbZIoC_JSE
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/normagailth/boards/Read More
Although a few skirmishes would follow, it was Palm Sunday, April 9, 1865 when the Civil War officially ended. Confederate General Robert E. Lee and Union General Ulysses Grant, who had known each other slightly during the Mexican-American War, gathered in the parlor in the McLean House in the village of Appomattox Court House. General Lee was accompanied by Lt. Col Charles Marshall Virginia and General Grant’s staff numbered about a dozen.
Seated at two small tables, General Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to General Grant. General Grant wrote a letter detailing the terms of surrender, which were generous even by Lee’s account. Confederate soldiers would be required to lay down their arms and then be paroled and
allowed to return home to their farms and businesses. Confederate officers would be allowed to keep their sidearms, pistols, and swords. The Confederates who had horses or other animals were allowed to keep them. These terms of surrender had emanated from a prior agreement between President Abraham Lincoln and General Grant. The President believed that the war that had cost the nation so much in lost and injured lives should end with as little animosity as possible. Those who had served in the Confederate Army should now be allowed to return home, pick up their lives, and begin the healing process.
Appomattox Courthouse remains a somewhat rural small village 24 miles east of Lynchburg and 95 miles west of Richmond. It has been preserved by the National Park Service and opened to the public on April 9th, 1949. At the dedication ceremony on April 16, 1950, before an audience of around 20,000 people, Major General U.S. Grant and Robert E. Lee IV, direct descendants of Robert E. Lee and Ulysses Grant, cut the ceremonial ribbon.Read More
In the mood for romance?
Starting on Valentine’s Day I will be having a Goodreads Giveaway
for 4 copies of
A Heart Set Free
It will end on February 21st.
Just scroll down to the box that says “Enter Giveaway.” Happy Valentine’s Day! Here is the link:
From an article in the September issue of Colony Life Magazine
How do two retired introverts spend their days without stepping on each other’s toes? Married for 13 years, Ken and Janet Grunst’s happy solution is having space to devote to their avocations. “Ken’s Cave” says the sign on the door to Ken’s lower level workshop where he creates musical instruments.
“What interested me was the challenge and reward of unlocking the beauty of the wood,” Ken remembers. “When I put the finish on a chess board I’d made, the grain came alive!” Ken plays guitar, so decided to learn to build one. “I’ve done 23 so far, plus a 5-string banjo,” he says, “and given away about a dozen of them to family members.”
Each is a work of art featuring exotic woods, intricate abalone inlay, and his personal signature carved sound ports representing the flame of the Holy Spirit. “King David was a luthier, a maker of stringed instruments, and played harps that he’d built. I’m captivated by the idea that, like him, I can take a pile of wood and pieces and suddenly it makes music!”
A picture on the wall near Ken’s Cave shows a young Ken Grunst performing with his college folk group back in Michigan. His friend and bandmate, Al Jardine, went on to fame as a member of The Beach Boys, but life as a professional musician never appealed to Ken. “There are the awful nerves before a performance, then the high of the actual playing and singing, but it’s such a downer when eventually the place empties out.”
Ken became a teacher and he and his first wife welcomed a daughter. “Teaching in Maryland with a salary of $5,000 a year, Dee and I would have actually had more money on welfare, so I got into home- building,” he recalls with a laugh. Ken was widowed in 2002, and then he met Janet at a Community Bible Study (CBS) conference. Janet, who was the executive assistant to the director of CBS, had been on her own for a decade and had two grown sons.
Janet’s tidy desk and book-lined corner of their family room is where she writes historical fiction. Her first book A Heart Set Free debuts in early December, and she is excited that persistence has finally paid off. “I refer to the book as ‘my Millennial in the basement’, because after 31 years, it’s just now getting wings,” the author jokes. She wrote her manuscript while her little boys were occupied, a snatched hour or two at a time. She tried to sell it herself. “It was almost picked up by publishers twice,” she recalls. “Then my life changed and I was busy working and raising my boys, so the book stayed dormant.” After Janet and Ken were married, he read the story, the romantic tale of an 18th-century indentured servant, loved it, and encouraged her to try again. This time around Janet found a supportive agent and the manuscript was accepted by Lighthouse Publishers of the Carolinas.
Janet has a second story ready and plans for a third. “Writing makes me feel alive!” she declares. ”Marketing, however, will probably be a challenge,” the self-proclaimed introvert laughs.
Ken and Janet have found the secret of successful remarriage is staying actively engaged in things that bring joy, carving out space for themselves while cherishing time together. Their three children have given them ten grandchildren, including quadruplets born this year, and they jointly serve as small group team leaders for Williamsburg Community Chapel. Their goal is to balance fun social times with peaceful hours of creating beauty, both in wood and on the page.
Hi Kathy, Thank you for sharing a bit about yourself and your new release, Rumors and Promises
Please tell us something about yourself, Kathy.
Janet, thank you for having me as a guest on your blog. Hmm . . . what can I tell you about myself? This is how I describe myself on my Twitter page: Wife, mom, author of inspirational historical romance. Loves to make jewelry, knitting, bike riding, God’s Word, my cat and all things chocolate.
I raised three sons, having homeschooled them for about 21 years. That was a big chunk of my life. After that I went back to school—twice—and wound up becoming a dental assistant. But writing is my true calling.
I also enjoy long walks, especially when I take the time to pray during that time, or listen to Bible teaching. I’m also a bit too fond of chocolate and I love spending time with my funny little cat, Lilybits. Last but not least, my husband and I have been married for 34 years.
What sparked your interest in writing?
My mother read to me when I was a little girl and taught me to love books. Before I could read them myself I wanted to be able to write stories. It’s something the Lord seemed to make a part of me and laid on my heart to do early on.
Here is the blurb from the back of Rumors and Promises:
Sophie Biddle, an heiress on the run with a child in tow, considers herself abandoned by her family and God. Wary, self-reliant Sophie is caught off guard when meeting a kind, but meddling and handsome minister at the local mercantile.
“In 1900, Reverend Ian McCormick is determined to start anew in Stone Creek, Michigan, believing he has failed God and his former flock. He works harder than ever to forget his mistake, hoping to prove himself a most pleasing servant to his new congregation and once again to God.
While Sophie seeks acceptance for the child and a measure of respect for herself, the rumors swirl about her sordid past. Should Ian show concern for Sophie plight, he could risk everything – including his position as pastor of Stone Creek.
Now the pair must choose to trust God and forgive those who slander and gossip, or run. Will the scandals of their pasts bind them together forever, or drive both deeper into despair?”
What drew you to the period and setting for the story?
I live in a rather small town in Michigan, so it’s easy to imagine what it might have been like. Also, I think the early part of the twentieth century is an interesting time when the world, life, and society were facing changes, but family and traditional values were still important. I really enjoyed L. M. Montgomery’s books which were set only a few years later. I guess I find it easy to picture my characters in that era.
Rumors and Promises deals with the sensitive subject of rape. What was your motivation to write about a subject that often goes unaddressed, particularly in that era?
Sophie Biddle’s story in Rumors and Promises really began as an attempt to convey a story similar to the account of the woman at the well in chapter four of the Gospel of John. At the time editors weren’t interested in biblical fiction. But I was also constrained by the guidelines of Christian publishing. How could I have my protagonist be a woman of bad reputation while preserving her purity? The character of Sophia Bidershem, an heiress concealing her identity with a slightly different name and trying to pass off her toddler daughter as her sister, was born. The out-of-wedlock-pregnancy had not come about by her volition, but she loves her child anyway and does what she must to take care of her. She bears the brunt of the resulting shame.
Then I thought about who had the most to lose in becoming involved in the life of these runaway girls, just as the disciples became shocked Jesus would associate with the Samaritan woman. Pastor Ian McCormick would have much to lose if his reputation was besmirched by friendship with a “fallen woman.” Of course, that’s where the similarities end. Jesus is sinless while Ian is a flawed man trying to start over with a new congregation because of past failings.
At the same time, as I worked on the first draft, one of my critique partners told me her story and helped me to understand the flashbacks and the damage done by rape. Even though I kept the details in the background, Rumors and Promises wasn’t a story publishers were willing to take on right away. I pray the story will be a healing one for those who have been victims of this heinous crime. I’m thankful that LPC was willing to take a chance on this story and subject matter.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
My main characters, Sophie and Ian, are struggling with life-altering incidents from their pasts. For Sophie it’s the injustice and how she feels deserted by those she thought loved her. For Ian, he cannot forgive himself for past failure. Though no harm was intended, he thinks he let God and others down.
It is so easy to get stuck in the past. I struggle with it myself, but I hope people who read my book will realize that Christ (and what He accomplished for us on the cross and being raised from the dead) is much bigger than our past failures or the injustices done to us. He is there to guide and heal. When we can grasp hold of that truth we can move forward in our lives.
God often teaches us something through our writing. What did you learn about life, faith, or yourself in the process of writing Rumors and Promises?
Tenacity and patience. But not only those things. I also learned what it meant to be a writer. I struggled with self-confidence and taking myself seriously as an author. It’s been quite a process!
Can you tell us anything about a current work in process?
The working title of my next novel is A Good Medicine and I was recently blessed with a second contract from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. It’s stand alone, but also the next book about Stone Creek. One of the main characters is Ian’s sister, Maggie Galloway, who was a secondary character that appeared quite often in Rumors and Promises. You might say she had a supporting role.
Here’s the current blurb:
When Zeke Harper and Philip Galloway get into trouble for throwing punches, they aren’t the only ones to clash. Philip’s outgoing mother, Maggie Galloway, and Zeke’s reserved father, Thomas Harper, are complete opposites. The feisty widow, Maggie, has been on her own for a time and has aspirations to buy a bakery in her hometown.
Disorganized Thomas, a grieving widower, only wants to bring up his four rambunctious children in peace. In addition to the challenges of his new pharmacy, he becomes gravely ill. Bitter toward God about the loss of his wife, Thomas believes no one could ever replace her in his heart.
Maggie Galloway is called upon by her brother, and pastor, Ian, to help the Harper family. She is instrumental in nursing Thomas back to health, reorganizing the pharmacy and taking the children in hand. Maggie unwittingly becomes attached to the raucous Harper brood and their quiet father. When a former hometown suitor, comes calling, Thomas realizes his growing love for the angel of mercy who came to their rescue. She must make a life-changing decision to stay near the Harpers or leave Stone Creek. Will Thomas be too late in declaring his intentions to Maggie?
Lord willing it will be published sometime later in 2017.
Thank you so much, Kathy, for being my guest.
I so appreciate your having me as a guest, Janet. It’s been fun and I appreciate your time and thought-provoking questions.
Where can readers find your books?
Rumors and Promises is available at:
Amazon.com – http://tinyurl.com/jqmw93e
Barnes and Noble – http://tinyurl.com/hdus93p
And Kathy can be found at:
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/kerouser/Read More