Author Spotlight: Liz Tolsma
1. How did you get your start as an author?
I always loved writing and wanted to be an author since my 5thgrade teacher encouraged me that way. But practicality won out, and I became an elementary school teacher instead. After 9/11, I realized that my life could end any moment. I didn’t want to get to the end of it and have regrets about not trying to write. It took nine years after that, but my dream came true!
2. What is the title of your book and what is it about?
My story is title A Match Made in Heaven in the novella collection Matchmaker Brides. Len Montgomery is a young Iowa pastor who receives a letter from a widowed farmer asking if there are any young women in the congregation who would be interested in marrying him. The town’s newspaperman gets a hold of the letter, publishes it, and it gets picked up by several big city papers. Letters requesting matches pour in. But the match he most wants to make, the one with the town’s sweet, charming, and Shakespeare-quoting postmistress, may be out of his reach.
3. What was your favorite part about writing this book? Hardest part?
I loved the break from my usual WWII stories to write something lighter. It was fun to give my characters permission to laugh. I loved looking up Shakespeare quotes for my heroine and baffling the hero as to what she was saying. The hardest part was keeping tension in the story. WWII is naturally filled with suspense. I learned a lot about using tension even in a light-hearted story.
4. What are you hoping readers will take away from your story?
I hope they have fun with the story while remembering that God is a God who forgives and heals.
5. Is there another vocation you have besides writing?
Yes, I’m also a freelance fiction editor and I run a writer’s retreat and an online writer’s academy. It keeps my fingers in writing and publishing, but supplements my income. I love helping new writers learn how to write better and get published.
6. What is something readers would be surprised to learn about you?
I talk to myself. All. The. Time. It helps to keep me focused, so especially if I have a hard or busy day, I find myself talking out loud with no one but the dog and cat to hear me.
7. If you were having a chocolate craving, what would you want to satisfy it?
Um, chocolate LOL! Seriously, good European-style chocolate. Lindt, Ghirardelli, something along those lines. Sometimes dark, sometimes milk, depending on my mood.
8. Tell us about your family.
I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart for 28 years. We have three children. Brian is about to turn 22. We adopted him from Vietnam when he was 5 months old. He’s currently serving as a U.S. Marine in North Carolina. Alyssa is 17 and came home from Korea at 3 months old. She’s a junior in high school, as well as a lifeguard and class president. We never see her! She hopes to major in International Studies with an emphasis in Arabic and counterterrorism. Our youngest, Jonalyn, is 14. We adopted her from the Philippines when she was 5. She has a host of cognitive and physical disabilities, as well as a sunny disposition and a fondness for Olaf from Frozen.
9. What has been your biggest achievement as an author?
My first full-length novel, Snow on the Tulips, was a Carol Award finalist and a Selah Award finalist in 2013.
10.How can readers find this book? How can they connect with you?
Barnes and Noble
Blurb: Pastor Len Montgomery receives an unusual letter from an Omaha farmer that turns him into the matchmaker he never wanted to be. But the match he most wants to make, the one with the town’s sweet, charming, and Shakespeare-quoting postmistress, may be out of his reach.
Liz Tolsma is the author of several WWII novels and prairie romance novellas. She is a popular speaker and an editor and resides next to a Wisconsin farm field with her husband and their two daughters. She enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. Please visit her blog, The Story behind the Story, at www.liztolsma.com and follow her on Facebook, Twitter(@LizTolsma), and LinkedIn. She is also a regular contributor to the Pencildancer blog and the Midwest Almanac blog.
Have you ever connected with someone through e mail and it was just a click? You felt like you knew the person and wanted to have coffee with them? That has been my feeling towards author and blog talk radio host Patti Shene. Through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers,) we somehow crossed paths online and touched base because of the Adirondack Mountains.
You probably know my Surrendering Time series, ENTRUSTED, ENTANGLED, and ENGAGED are all based in the Upstate NY region that features 1 million acres. Patti has history there as well, so I always enjoy when I hear from her.
Tomorrow Patti and I are going to have a chat, and YOU are invited! Patti hosts STEP INTO THE LIGHT, a program on Blog Talk Radio. My interview will be live at 10am Eastern. We plan to talk about surrender issues, chocolate, and Valentine’s Day. I’m sure we’ll talk about writing, too.
If you would like to learn more about any of these things, or, if you’re just curious to hear what an Upstate NY accent sounds like, come check it out!
Listeners can access show via telephone or over the internet
Internet URL: http://ow.ly/yk19308Yh9G
Guest call in: 646-564-9712
I’m thankful for people like Patti that have a passion to share her time to encourage others. She has a great roster of speakers who have given their personal stories to share in hopes of helping listeners. I hope you check it out!
Tags: author, author interview, Blog Talk Radio, chocolate, Chocolate and Interview on Blog Talk Radio, engaged, Entangled, Entrusted, Julie Arduini, overcoming, Patti Shene, Step Into the Light, Surrender Issues, testimonies, Valentine's Day, Valentine's Day 2017, Valentine's Day: Surrender
My Recent Transformation
By Kimberly Rose Johnson
Transformation sounds painful, and I suppose it often is. One thing is for certain—it’s a process. Change does not happen overnight. At least it didn’t for me, nor was it instant for Kayla in A Love Song for Kayla.
I’m kind of a control freak, and Kayla is as well. Two years ago, my then publisher, closed the line I wrote for. At that time I wasn’t sure what to do. I sought guidance from the Lord, but I didn’t like the answer He gave me. He was clear that I was to indie publish (publish my books on my own). I did not want to do that. I was petrified at the very idea. Yes, I know I said I’m a control freak and an indie writer is in complete control. However, part of being a control freak is knowing all the variables, and for me indie publishing was a mystery and very scary.
God was gracious and allowed me to publish eight more books with a small press, but this past year He was clear that it was time. So on February first I uploaded my first indie book that I did on my own. I couldn’t believe how easy the entire process was compared to my fear. Talk about a freeing experience! I experienced a complete transformation. I no longer fear indie publishing, and I’m super excited to publish my next book.
A Love Song for Kayla is the book that I published. I recently received my rights back from my original publisher and chose to use this story as my first indie book. I mentioned that Kayla is a control freak too. When she was a teenager some stuff happened that caused her to pick up this trait. Her way of handling it was to create a list of the qualities she desired in a husband—the perfect man. As you can imagine it was close to impossible to check every item off her list but she insisted on hanging onto it. She even framed it and hung it in her bedroom.
When the man for her came along, he wasn’t perfect, and she had to choose. Would she cling to the security of being in control, or would she allow the Lord to transform her heart? I won’t spoil the story and tell you what she did. J
Life is filled with opportunities for transformation. I’m glad I finally obeyed and allowed the Lord to transform me. I can’t begin to explain how different I feel now. I suppose that what transformation does—it changes us from the inside out.
Kimberly Rose Johnson married her college sweetheart and lives in the Pacific Northwest. From a young child Kimberly has been an avid reader. That love of reading fostered a creative mind and led to her passion for writing.
She especially loves romance and writes contemporary romance that warms the heart and feeds the soul.
Kimberly holds a degree in Behavioral Science from Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.
You can sign up for Kimberly’s newsletter via her website at: http://kimberlyrjohnson.com/index.html
A LOVE SONG FOR KAYLA
When two strangers cross paths their lives are forever altered.
Ever since she was sixteen Kayla Russell has dreamed of her perfect man. She even went so far as to make a list of desired qualities. The list has proven to be a bust since no man is that perfect, at least until she meets Derek. But will his secrets come between them and destroy what could have been something wonderful?
When music superstar Derek Parker comes to small town Oregon to escape the paparazzi he goes incognito as a deliveryman. He wants to leave his old life behind, but it proves to be harder than he realized when his past finds him. Now the woman he has come to care for feels deceived and no longer wants anything to do with him.
Formerly published under the title A Valentine for Kayla.
PURCHASE A LOVE SONG FOR KAYLA HERE
Tags: A Love Song for Kayla, author, control freak, fiction, guest blogger, Indie author, Julie Arduini, Kimberly Rose Johnson, My Recent Transformation by Kimberly Rose Johnson, re release, romance, surrender
Like much of America, I’m tuned into the Inauguration. No matter who is being sworn in as our new president, I make a point to watch. I love the traditions, and yes, the fashion and looks that surround everything.
There’s also what I think is the author brain. What is this person thinking? What if that one did this gesture, or said this? What are they talking about at that tea, anyway?
I thought I’d invite you into my imagination. If you could write a story about the inauguration, what POV, point of view, would you want to write from?
-The outgoing president
-The incoming president
-The outgoing first lady
-The incoming first lady
-The outgoing vice-president
-The incoming vice-president
-A child of the outgoing president
-A child of the incoming president
-A former president attending the event
-A secret service agent on detail
-A member of the military involved
-A member of the media covering the event
-A citizen attending the event
-Someone else (Who?)
What would you write about? Would it be suspense? Romance? Thriller? I know some of you are already thinking horror, I see you.
My guess is not everyone thinks like this, but it’s a rainy day and I thought it would be fun to imagine.
Share in the comments or on Facebook. If you don’t follow me on social media, I’m everywhere, including snapchat, @JulieArduini.
Tags: author, fiction, first lady, genre, horror, Inauguration, Julie Arduini, military, mystery, point of view, POV, president, romance, secret service, suspense, The Fictional Inauguration, thriller, vice president
Today we’ll sit down to chat with Shoba Sadler, author of
the contemporary title Child of Dust. Shoba will take us behind the
scenes of her unique new novel and give us a glimpse into her
Shoba, why did you choose to write this type of novel?
Social status and cultural barriers makes for great conflict. Child
of Dust is like a modern-day classic of Romeo and Juliet only instead of
opposing families, these lovers, Kim and Bryan have cultural and social
barriers to contend with.
Kim, the rich and spoilt socialite who loses her money is taken under
the wing of her reluctant chauffeur, Bryan, who has his own struggles to
deal with. They find love under the most unexpected circumstances.
Can you tell us why you started with an Asian setting for your first
I was founder of Agape Christian magazine in Malaysia. I also freelanced
for the leading English, secular newspaper in Malaysia, The Star. My
feature stories forThe Star were several page write-ups with gorgeous
photos. Many of my stories were selected by the features editor to be
cover stories as well.
As I interviewed people all over the world for Agape, I saw God moving
powerfully in Asia and yet there were so few stories coming from there
especially in the Christian romance genre.
In Asia, Christianity is seen very much as a Western culture. Yet so
many Asians have had powerful encounters with Jesus Christ. Then there
is the struggle to validate their faith in the midst of culture,
tradition, loss of identity, social stigma and so on.
There alone you have so much material for backdrop, tension, drama,
conflict and final resolution.
An example of what I mean can be seen in my short story Finding
Enlightenmentthat was awarded second place at faithwriters.com. It can be read
description of the setting subtly woven into the story is what makes the
difference between being a narrator who takes a person on a journey
through his “telling” and a facilitator who steps out of the way
altogether to allow the reader to explore the journey on his own. The
writer should aim to be the facilitator and not the narrator.There is nothing like a great setting to make the reader feel like they
are there with the characters. It is like the difference between
watching a 2D and 3D movie.
Unfortunately, many formulaic romance novels that are churned out in
quick production-line succession fails to capture this allure of setting
because it takes research and time. It is also not easy to write setting
discreetly in the background and that is the only way to write it.
Otherwise it will seem like reading lecture notes instead of a story.
I read one review of a multi-cultural romance set in an Asian country
where the reviewer said she felt like she was reading a tour company’s
brochure and that is the wrong emotion to invoke.
So another reason I wrote Child of Dust was to give romance readers a
chance to explore unique settings and backdrops not normally experienced
by a reader in the current trend of romance novels available out
We’d love to hear a little about the historical background for your
novel. Will you talk about that?
The main character, Bryan, Kim’s chauffeur has been deeply affected by
the Vietnam war in the sense that he is the illegitimate child of an
American GI and a Vietnamese woman. This historical background sets a
different dimension to the story and adds intrigue and authenticity.
Who would you say is the audience for this novel?
Child of Dust is an appealing read for anyone. As I have also
written for the secular press, I am able to write in a manner that
appeals to all walks of life both Christian and non-Christian. I have
had non-Christians tell me they were so engrossed in the story that they
didn’t not notice the message of the gospel woven into the story. Yet
that message is undoubtedly there.
I am an inspirational writer and everyone loves a good inspirational
story just as they love watching a Hallmark movie.
What readers have to say about the novel:
“Make sure when getting ready to read Child of Dust that you don’t have
anything else planned for the day, you won’t be able to put this book
down. I could go on and on about this book. Highly and strongly
recommend it. Is it possible to give a book 10 stars?” — Debra Dunson,
reviewer at The Edgier Christian Fiction Fan
“I found the writing of this story to be close to excellent…. I found
this book to be one of the most enjoyable books I have read in a long
time. It was interesting, the story kept moving along, and I learned a
lot as I read this story. I found myself intrigued with the constant
difficulties faced by the protagonists – and their stories were
presented so much more like real life stories than any other book I have
read in a long, long time.” — Marina, Community Writer, California
“This novel has a consistent rhythm, adding surprise after surprise,
twisting our emotions at each new difficulty Kim faces. I couldn’t put
this book down, waiting to see if any or all the ends would be tired up.
I would actually like to see the novel transcend into a movie. An
amazing read.” — Brices Mice Christian Book Reviews
About Child of Dust:
Beautiful but spoilt Vietnamese
socialite, Cao Kim Lye, learns of her parents shocking death from the
dashing Amerasian family chauffeur, Bryan Nguyen.
Kim steps out of a world of crystal
and chandelier to enter the dust and chaos of working-class Hanoi. She
finds herself living under the roof of a shop cum living quarters with
Bryan and his adoptive family.
conscious of the privileged class, Kim struggles against the emotional
ties she forms towards Bryan, the reluctant saviour, who considers her
an unnecessary hitch to his already complicated life.
He still bears the scars of
abandonment by his mother and his American GI father when U.S. troops
pulled out of Vietnam.
Eventually Bryan and Kim’s powerful attraction to each other
begins to break down the wall between them.
About the author:
Shoba Sadler has been a journalist
for 20 years and founder of Agape magazine in Malaysia. She is a
versatile inspirational author that likes to write in multiple genres.
She has pioneered a new genre in Christian multi-cultural writing with
her novel Child of Dust and her many award-winning short stories can be
read here http://shobasadler.com/?page_id=250
Her passion for writing is matched only by
her passion for cooking with farm fresh produce. She lives a healthy
lifestyle on a farm with her husband, Kevin, a talented musician, who
also loves to surf and ski. They grow their own vegetables and fruits
and share their home with a multitude of animals and wildlife. They are
passionate about buying directly from local farmers who practice organic
I’ve always been thankful for the darkness because it allowed me to see the light so clearly. I’m thankful for every moment I received faulty, incomplete, tainted love because it made the real thing, the agape, self-sacrificing love that can only come from Christ, so obvious. And contagious.
For the past few months, my husband and I have been walking beside someone who is living in darkness, choosing the darkness over light. And it’s hard. It’s never fun to see someone completely destroy their life, but it’s more than that. I see myself in this individual. I remember when I bounced from place to place, when I drank malt liquor until I passed out, when I gravitated toward the deceived and self-destroying.
But God also showed me the light. And He drew me with His love. His patient, unyielding, pursuing love.
It took a long time for that love to truly take hold. For me to truly believe it. Rest in it. In all my healing, I primarily credit two people—Jesus Christ, who saw me and loved me on my worst day, and my husband, who saw something in a homeless girl from Washington and decided to hold tight to her, until his love broke through.
Oh, what a road that was! Consumed with past hurts, fears, and distrust, I did everything I knew to push him away. I figured it was only a matter of time before he left me, anyway. Everyone else I knew had.
Only he stayed. He held tight, and he continued to love me, even when I was completely unlovable.
And bit by bit, his love broke through, until one day, I realized, I no longer feared he’d leave. In fact, I knew with every part of my tattered but healing heart, that he’d stay. Till death do we part.
That’s when real intimacy, real healing took place.
But then one day, on a particularly hard day, Jesus opened my eyes. I was in the middle of gunk, gunk related directly to my past and the pain I’d experienced, and it felt as if I was right back there, in it. I can’t describe what that feels like, but those of you who’ve been there know. It’s a pain that completely levels you and launches that ugly, snotty-nosed cry no one but your mate has any business seeing.
That’s where I was—sobbing. Like I often do, I headed straight for the bedroom, for my bed, where I could fall apart in silence.
Why is it, when we’re in pain, we tend to isolate?
So there I was, feeling alone in my heartache, until … my husband came in. Walked straight to me, and tackled me in a full on body hug. “I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you,” he said again and again. Maybe ten times. Maybe more. Making me sob all the harder.
Then it hit me, so clear it stalled my breath and my tears. That was Jesus. Jesus was holding and loving me through my husband.
Because that’s what He does. He meets us when it feels as if we’re falling apart and He envelopes us in His love. He tells us again and again, “I love you. I love you. I love you.” Until that love breaks through and begins to heal all the broken pieces.
So that the pain from the past, those old wounds we’ve shoved down, lose their power over us. And His love, His power, His gentle, restoring Holy Spirit makes us new.
Novelist and speaker Jennifer Slattery has a passion for helping women discover, embrace, and live out who they are in Christ. As the founder of Wholly Loved Ministries, she and her team put on events at partnering churches designed to help women rest in their true worth and live with maximum impact. She writes devotions for Internet Café Devotions, Christian living articles for Crosswalk.com, and edits for Firefy, a Southern fiction imprint with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. When not writing, reading, or editing, Jennifer loves going on mall dates with her adult daughter and coffee dates with her hilariously fun husband.
Mitch, a contractor and house-flipper, is restoring a beautiful old house in an idyllic Midwestern neighborhood. Angela, a woman filled with regrets and recently transplanted to his area, is anything but idyllic. She’s almost his worst nightmare, and she s also working on restoring something herself. As he struggles to keep his business afloat and she works to overcome mistakes of her past, these two unlikely friends soon discover they have something unexpected in common, a young mom who is fighting to give her children a better life after her husband’s incarceration. While both Mitch and Angela are drawn to help this young mother survive, they also find themselves drawn to each other. Will a lifetime of regrets hold them back or unite them and bring redemption along with true love?
Buy it on:
Connect with Jennifer
Surrendering Time Series
Where Else You Can Find Me
GoodreadsJulie Arduini's books on GoodreadsA Walk in the Valley: Christian encouragement for your journey through infertility
ratings: 10 (avg rating 4.70)
Entrusted (Adirondack Surrender, #1)
ratings: 14 (avg rating 4.14)
The Love Boat Bachelor (The Heart Seekers Series)
ratings: 14 (avg rating 3.43)
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