Newly widowed mother Abby Baker goes home to Hope Harbor to help her ailing mother and restart her life. Weighed down by grief and fear of failure, she wishes she had the strength of her grandmother, who raised a young child alone while taking on the role of lighthouse keeper after her husband drowned. What was the secret of Granny Abigail’s strength?
Carson Stevens is a lighthouse enthusiast who has bought the deteriorating Hope Island lighthouse to restore it and turn it into a bed-and-breakfast. When he meets Abby, he wants the attractive granddaughter of the former keepers to be part of the restoration.
As Abby and Carson work together, they uncover clues to a family secret that threatens to change Abby’s life forever. But someone is trying to sabotage their efforts at restoration. Is the saboteur trying to keep something from being found?
Theresa: Thank you for being here today Marilyn and for sharing your new release with us. Tell us about your favorite character in your new book.
Marilyn: My favorite character in the book, and I hope I won’t hurt the other characters’ feelings, is probably Abigail, the grandmother, a widow with a small child during during WWII, who takes her husband’s place as a lighthouse keeper, and shows us what life was like during that time period.
Theresa: I love lighthouses but I can’t imagine running one alone! How much of yourself do you put into your books?
Marilyn: I think there are often parts of my own experiences in the lives of my characters. After all, I can show how the character felt because I felt that way myself.
Theresa: That’s so true! Sometimes, I think a parts of us seeps into our characters without us even realizing it. What is your favorite genre of book to read?
Marilyn: I read Christian historical fiction and write in the same genre. Abigail’s Secret is different than anything I’ve ever written because there was a contemporary story going on at the same time as the historical one. I didn’t know I could write contemporary until I did it!
Theresa: That is awesome! And sounds hard! Who are some of your favorite authors?
Marilyn: Because I like Christian historical fiction, my favorite authors write in that genre. I love Ann Tatlock, Melanie Dobson, Lynn Austin, Tamera Alexander, Kim Vogel Sawyer, Lisa Wingate and Suzanne Woods Fisher.
Theresa: That’s an impressive list of amazing authors! How important do you feel reviews are to authors?
Marilyn: Reviews are critical to a book’s success. People want to know why someone else liked or disliked a book before they buy it, and naturally, the better the review, the more good reviews, the better it is for the book (and author).
Theresa: That is so true! We do love our good reviews!
Win a copy of Abigail’s Secret!
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Marilyn Turk sees the miraculous creation of God in everyday life. As a writer, she tries to capture His truths through her historical novels and heartfelt devotions. She loves to encourage people to find their strengths and develop their God-given gifts, a message she shares when she speaks to audiences. She and her husband, avid lighthouse enthusiasts, have visited over 100 lighthouses, and her popular lighthouse blog features true lighthouse stories. In her spare time, she enjoys boating and fishing, taking walks or playing tennis.
Today I have Molly Jebber on my blog. Molly has a new series coming out January 31st. If you love Amish fiction you’ll want to keep reading. Molly is here to answer a few questions so we can get to know a little about the author behind the story.
When you were young, did you ever see writing as a career or full-time profession?
No, because I didn’t think I’d have time while working a full-time job. But I always wanted to write a story and publish it. I kept this a secret from my family and friends. Then I shared it with my husband one day, and he said, “Quit your job, and do it! I prayed about it, and the doors flew open. So, I did!”
Out of all the characters you’ve written about, is there one that is your favorite?
Liza in “Liza’s Second Chance” releasing in stores and EBook January 31, 2018 is my favorite right now. She’s a widow, and you find out a secret about her past. The secret tells you a lot about her insecurities, strengths, compassion. I like the way she tackles what I’ve thrown at her. God always teaches me something as I write about my characters. Liza’s slow to pass judgement, and she’s willing to go the extra mile for a stranger. I help others, but I could do more.
I’m reminded of Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” I love this verse.
Have you ever won any awards for your writing?
I won Desert Rose RWA’s Golden Quill Award for “Grace’s Forgiveness” in 2017 in the inspirational romance category. I love the marbled plaque and golden quill pin I was given.
Do you have a special place where you like to write?
I love to write at the pool or beach. I ask God to guide me in shaping my characters, and then the ideas flow. The waves rush in and out and create a calm atmosphere. We have a Blue Heron in our area who joins me once in a while. He’s a good listener when I need to bounce an idea off of him.
Have you ever received a rejection?
Let’s just say, I could’ve wallpapered my house with them before I had attended enough classes and sent out my first story too early! Also, some agents wrote why they were rejecting the story, and their comments taught me some valuable lessons about writing.
What is one piece of advice you’d give to an unpublished writer?
Join a writer’s group near you. If you don’t have one within a reasonable distance, attend RWA or ACFW’s big conference where you can attend classes to learn how to write good fiction, connect with authors willing to give advice, and meet with agents and publishers.
Do you take time to plot and outline your books? Or do you like to write by the seat of your pants?
My agent and editor-in-chief both require a detailed outline for each book. I couldn’t write a book without doing this. The outline keeps me focused. I do make some changes, as I write the story.
Do you ever talk about your next project or do you like to keep it a secret?
I only share my next project with my critique partners.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Eight months, because I’m also a speaker.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love: going to church, Bible studies, movies, hanging out with my husband, Ed, lunch/dinner/shopping/or to a craft class with Misty, my daughter or friends. I love to play card or board games, sightseeing, walking on the beach, crocheting, and playing golf. I have a fitness routine at a gym, but I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite! LOL
Where do you get your ideas for your books?
I pray about my stories, and then my mind overflows with ideas each time I’m ready for a new story. The Amish communities we visit are fun, and I can’t wait to use each of them as a location for each book. I find this one of the best parts about writing.
Is there a message in your book you hope readers will relate to?
Yes, I want them to understand the Amish are much like us with some of the same insecurities and flaws. I also want to entertain my reader with heroine and hero she can root for and enjoy the story.
Do you have a particular author whose work inspires you?
I’ve always been a fan of Shelly Shephard Gray. She’s a talented and respected author. She’s also kind, gracious, and genuine.
What kinds of research do you do for your books?
I visit Amish communities, and I talk with the women, and my husband, Ed, speaks with the men to learn more about their lifestyle. I read their newspaper, and I have researched their history, Amish laws, rules, etc.
Do you have a full-time day job? If so, how do you find time to write?
My background is Director, Regulatory Affairs for Patient Research for four hospitals, and I worked as a Contract Manager for Commercial Design/Build Firm. I also owned a Resume Business, which was meant to be part-time and allow for writing. When the business turned into full-time, I quit at the request of my husband, Ed, and now I write full-time. He is my best supporter and encourager.
Blurb for LIZA’S SECOND CHANCE/FIRST BOOK IN MY AMISH CHARM BAKERY SERIES – RELEASING JANUARY 31, 2018 IN STORES AND IN EBOOK. FOR A FULL LIST OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE VISIT http://www.mollyjebber.com
The sweet welcome of straight-from-the-oven sugar cookies and hot cocoa. The warm invitation of apple pie and fresh cold milk. In 1912 Ohio, the Amish Charm Bakery is the heart of a close-knit, faith-nourished community, where people can find a refuge, a place to start again—and love that can make their lives new . . .
For Liza Schrock, the bakery her late husband bought was an unexpected haven from their unhappy arranged marriage. Now she’s perfectly content to cook up mouth-watering delights for her hometown, and give to those alone or in trouble—and remain happily unwed. And though she’s willing to give handsome, newly-arrived widower Jacob Graber all the help he desperately needs, she is sure they can stay just friends . . .
But as Liza also tries to aid Jacob’s troubled teenage daughter, she starts caring far too much for his gentle ways and steadfast hopes. And when a wrenching secret she must keep comes between them, can Liza find the faith to risk opening her heart again—and reach for one more chance at real love?
Welcome, Lillian! It’s so great to have you here today. Tell us a little about yourself.
Lillian: My husband and I live in a small town in Ohio. I mean small—we only have 1 traffic light. I grew up in the area, but moved to the big city of Cleveland for many years. Like Dorothy, I love being home again.
Where did you grow up and attend school?
Lillian: I grew up in rural Ohio, near Wooster. It’s a farming community. Most of my books have a similar setting. Sometimes I actually use the names of local communities, other times I use a fictional name
I received my Bachelor’s Degree from Akron University and my Master’s Degree from Kent State. Then I moved away to the big city of Cleveland to work for many years until I retired from Cleveland Schools in 2007.
What is your favorite genre to read? To write?
Lillian:Mostly I read and write Christian mystery and suspense with a little horror thrown in. PUZZLE HOUSE is a complete departure from what I usually write. I would simply classify it as Christian Fiction, like the book WAR ROOM.
Tell us about PUZZLE HOUSE.
Lillian: I call it the book I never wanted to write!
Really? Can you explain that?
Early on in the story, the main character (Rachel Summers) discovers she has brain tumors due to a genetic condition called Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF 2).
Lillian: That’s exactly what I said when I was diagnosed with NF 2 and bilateral brain tumors in 2012. Don’t gasp! The tumors are almost always non-cancerous but as I like to say that hasn’t stopped them from wreaking havoc on my health and my life.
And that is why I say Puzzle House is the book I never wanted to write. I would never have written it if I hadn’t developed the brain tumors. But I do have NF 2 and the brain tumors and Puzzle House is one of the good things that’s come from it.
What inspired you to write this novel in particular?
Lillian: Like Rachel, I have Neurofibromatosis Type 2. I wanted to show that even when you have a serious chronic illness, God can use you to help others.
What is Neurofibromatosis Type 2 (NF2)?
Lillian: It’s a rare genetic disease that allows tumors to grow anywhere there are nerves, but most people with NF2 develop brain tumors, which I did. The tumors affect both your hearing and your balance which can affect your health in significant ways. It’s been a difficult journey but God is good. There’s a lot I can’t do these days because of the brain tumors, but I can still write!
Tell me a bit about your main characters.
Lillian: Rachel Summers was all about Rachel Summers until the day she crashed into a semi-truck. While in a coma she has a very special visitor that asks a very special question. Do you want to be healed or to be a healer? Her answer changes the course of her life as well as many others.
What’s the setting for PUZZLE HOUSE?
Lillian: It starts out in the icy cold city of Cleveland Ohio but moves on to the warmth of Georgia.
Do you have personal experience with any of the events in your story, and if so, could you share about that?
Lillian: Like Rachel I have neurofibromatosis Type 2 which is a genetic condition that causes bilateral brain tumors. They are usually benign meaning non-cancerous but believe me when I say they aren’t benign meaning harmless!
I was diagnosed a little over 5 years ago. In that time I’ve had two Gamma Knife surgeries, 3 rounds of chemotherapy, and months and months of being on steroids. I’m completely deaf in one ear and partially in the other. I also have severe balance issues that make it hard for me to walk or do lots of daily activities that other people take for granted.
It’s been quite a journey but even as my health declines my faith in God grows stronger and stronger. And that has been a blessing.
What’s your day job? Tell us a little about it.
Lillian: I retired as a speech therapist from a large city school district in Ohio, then spent several more years working part-time in smaller, rural districts near where I live. Between the two jobs, I don’t think there is any type of child I haven’t worked with at least once.
How did your education or previous career impact your journey to publication and where you are now?
Lillian: My day job was as a school speech pathologist, better known as a speech therapist. So for more than 30 years I listened…and listened…and listened some more. I think it helped me in a lot of areas but certainly with writing dialogue of my characters.
What do you want readers to take away from PUZZLE HOUSE?
Lillian: That God can and does still do miracles but the miracle we want isn’t always the miracle we need and God knows the difference.
What is your writing process?
Lillian: I never know what is going to happen in my story on any given writing day. It’s as if my mind is a movie screen and I watch that day’s events and then I write it.
When I start a new story I usually have a clear picture of the main character in mind and what obstacle he/she will face, but anything goes after that. If I’m writing and start to feel bored—then I kill someone or blow something up. And that way it’s a surprise to me and to my readers.
Do you have a favorite or “life” verse? Why is that one important to you?
Lillian: Romans 8: 28: And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, whoa have been called according to his purpose.
After I was diagnosed with the brain tumors, the treatments and the side effects wreaked havoc on my health as well as the tumors themselves! When I was at my lowest points, I kept repeating this verse over and over. It kept me trusting God and it kept me in peace and joy in spite of how bad I felt at the time.
Looking back I can now see how God used many of the past events in my life to prepare me for this struggle of a lifetime and for that I’m very grateful.
What are you working on now?
Lillian:I’m working on a sequel to PUZZLE HOUSE. It’s called The David Years and without giving too much of the plot of Puzzle House away, it follows one of the characters you meet in PUZZLE HOUSE.
Are there any other authors in your family?
Lillian:Actually there is! My nephew, Chad H. Young, is a missionary for CRU, formerly Campus Crusades For Christ. A few years ago, he decided to give writing a try, nonfiction. I’m so proud of him—he has two books out and is about to have a third published, Authenticity: Real Faith in a Phony World and Wrestling with Faith, Love, and Gators: Overcoming Barriers to Fully Loving God. How did you get started writing? How old were you? What made you want to start?
Lillian: I started writing when I was 40—a late starter. (This is a pretty good story.) I was feeling the way a lot of 40 year-olds feel. Unsettled, not sure if I wanted to keep teaching. I was watching a TV show, probably Oprah. Her guest recommending writing your own obituary and putting in outlandish things that you’ve never done.
So I did. As I reread the obituary, it said that I was a multi-published author. What? I’d never written any fiction even though I was an avid reader. The most I’d ever written was some poetry years before.
When I read those words, a spark ignited inside me.
And I started writing!
It took me a year to finish my first novel and it was horrible. I made every mistake that writing “experts” say are no-no! As bad as it was, I knew I wanted to keep writing and I did!
If you could offer a word of encouragement to an aspiring author, what would you say?
Lillian:DON’T GIVE UP! It took me 15 years to get a traditional contract, and now I have almost 20 books published! If I can do it, so can you. But not if you give up your dream!
What an awesome interview, Lillian! Thank you so much for being here today.
Lillian Duncan…Stories of faith mingled… with murder & mayhem.
Lillian is a multi-published author who lives in the middle of Ohio Amish country with her husband and a menagerie of pets. After more than 30 years working as a speech pathologist for children, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.
Lillian writes the types of books she loves to read—fast-paced suspense with a touch of romance that demonstrates God’s love for all of us. To learn more about Lillian, you may visit her at www.lillianduncan.net or www.lillian-duncan.com. She also has a devotional blog at www.PowerUpWithGod.com.