Friday’s Feature with Kathleen Neely

The Least of These

It’s Release Day for The Least of These! I have Kathleen Neely back to promote another new release. Welcome Kathleen!

How would you describe your main characters?

I’m pleased to introduce you to Scott Harrington and Claire Bassett.

Scott broke the family tradition of a long line of attorneys when he opted for a career in journalism. This met with his father’s disappointment, just another in a string of them. His brother had been the favored child, in line to be valedictorian and headed to Yale, another family tradition. Those plans shattered when he died of an overdose.

Scott struggles with identify. He has no desire for the affluent lifestyle of his youth, and has distanced himself from his father. Yet he craves an accomplishment that will earn his father’s respect. His documentary on the homeless may win him an award that would accomplish that.

Claire Bassett has always wanted one thing—to be a wife and a mother. She married Andrew, her college sweetheart, and became just that. Until tragedy struck and her husband went missing. Claire is a loyal wife, searching and waiting. How long can she continue to hope?

What problems do your characters face?

Scott goes undercover, living among the homeless, seeking three men whose stories he can tell. The problem is, as he learns their history, he finds himself wanting to help them. That might be a good humanitarian act, but it does nothing for the documentary. Delving into their lives causes Scott to deal with his own guilty secret from the past, one with devastating consequences. He had failed his brother. Would he fail these men for the chance at a Pulitzer?

Claire cannot hold on financially. She’s raising two children on her own with no income. The savings that she and Andrew had is gone. She can’t sell her home without his signature and that’s impossible. She moves in with her parents and rents her home to strangers. Claire struggles daily not knowing if her husband is dead or alive. Jonathan, a friend she meets at her new job, tempts her to move forward. It’s been a year and she may never see Andrew again. Should she move on, start a new life?

Scott and Claire are strangers—until their stories intersect.

What would you like your readers to know about your characters?

Scott has never come to terms with his brother’s death, and carries mis-placed guilt. Stella, his neighbor and friend, tries to help him accept this truth. He can’t deny the compassion that causes him to open his heart and his home. Stella wishes he would open his eyes to her. She tells him that sometimes what you’re searching for is right before your eyes.

Claire compares herself to Hans Brinker, the boy who put his finger in the dike to keep everything from crashing in. She also lived through the trauma that sent Andrew running away, but she couldn’t run. She had to hold things together for her children.

Read an excerpt from The Least of These:

Scott Harrington

Recognition lit the kid’s eyes as I approached his table. I set my plate down across from him. “Hi. I’m Scott. I think we stayed at the same hotel a few nights ago.”

He chuckled. “Yeah. The Bridge Resort. A real one-star facility. I’m Tyler.”

I tested my coffee. Strong, black, and slightly warm. “I can’t say I slept much under the overpass. This is the first night I’ve made it through these doors. Tonight, I made sure I arrived early enough. How about you? Have you been back under the bridge?”

“No. I stayed here last night. Can’t say it’s much better.”

I raised my eyebrows. “How could it not be better than hard concrete and traffic whizzing overhead?”

“Wait ’til tonight. You’ll see. It’s filled with hacking coughs and body odor. I’ve got to get a job and get out of here.” He took a bite of his mac and cheese. “Artificial cheese. Probably powdered. And the ham’s almost too salty to eat. I guess I shouldn’t complain. It’s free.” He picked up his water and drank.

I looked at my coffee and wished I’d opted for the water. “It’s a hard life. Some of these fellas look like they’ve been at it a while.”

He nodded. “Well, I don’t plan to be one of them. I’m trying to get a job.”

“Good for you. It’s tough without an address.”

“I give my e-mail and check it every day at the library. It’s a good place to hang out. I can sit there and read if I have time to kill.”

We were interrupted when a man spoke to the whole group. We ate while he provided a reminder about restrooms, showers, cots, and the time for breakfast. Anyone who remained sleeping past eight thirty would be woken. Breakfast would be served until nine, and everyone had to be out by nine-thirty.

When he’d finished speaking, I picked up the conversation. “How old are you? How’d you end up here?”

“I’m eighteen. How’d I end up here? I keep asking myself that question. I guess it’s part of a long story.”

I pushed my empty plate away and leaned back. “I like stories.”

Tyler crushed his napkin and placed it on his empty plate. “You want the long or the short?”

I glanced at the clock that read six thirty. “Looks like we have nothing but time.” This would definitely be one of the three biographies. I couldn’t take notes, so I’d have to listen carefully, remembering details until I could commit them to paper.

Clare Bassett

The kids went with my parents, and my brothers had taken my things away, leaving me alone and vulnerable. I picked up a plate that had somehow escaped packing. How is it that this set of stoneware, glazed in a dusty rose pattern, had once been so important?

The day Andrew and I completed our bridal registry, I saw the set of earthenware dishes. Nothing else would do. Andrew picked up a masculine design of brown stoneware with a tan border. I’d scrunched my face in distaste and he’d laughed. We added the rose pattern to our registry. I found the perfect placemats to match, complete with linen napkins and rose napkin holders. I’d set a flawless table.

I enfolded the loose plate in a remnant of bubble wrap and placed it in a box with mismatched, haphazard pieces, hoping someday to reunite it with the rest of the set. I went upstairs, pulled back the bedspread on one side of my king-sized bed, and sat down. In a few weeks, it would be Isabella’s sixth birthday. How would it be possible for me to celebrate? Bella’s birthday marked a year since my nightmare began. But for her sake, I’d put on my smile, hand her colorful packages with pink ribbons, and pretend I wasn’t falling apart.

With experienced movements, I reached into the nightstand drawer and pulled out the wedding picture I couldn’t bear to be without. As I did every night, I touched a gentle finger to the cold glass that covered my husband’s face and wished him a good night. I said a prayer for his safety and placed it on the spot where he had once lain beside me. Reaching for the pillow where his scent had long since been laundered away, I held him close to my heart. I couldn’t hate him. Even after all this time. I thought of all of the things he missed—Drew’s first steps, Isabella’s first day of school, Maxwell’s death when he’d curled up in his dog bed and died of a broken heart. If not for the children, I might have done the same.

I slid from the bed to kneel beside it, holding fast to his pillow, feeling tiny and insignificant.

“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” Tears threatened, but I held them at bay. “Forgive me, Lord. I know You’re my strength in weakness, but right now, I can’t feel Your strength. Help me to understand how You’re working in my life. I can’t see it, Lord.”

I gave in to the tears that would saturate this pillow case for the last time before it joined my other belongings in a storage shed.

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About Kathleen

Kathleen Neely is the author of The Street Singer, Beauty for Ashes, and The Least of These. She is a former elementary teacher. Following her years in the classroom, she moved into administration, serving as an elementary principal. Kathleen is an alumnus of Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania and Regent University in Virginia.

Among her writing accomplishments, Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFW-VA for her short story “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance”. Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her novel, The Least of These, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through Almost an Author. She has numerous devotions published through Christian Devotions. She continues to speak to students about writing. Kathleen is a member of Association of Christian Fiction Writers.

She resides in Greenville, SC with her husband, two cats, and one dog. She enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading.


Friday’s Feature with Carol James

 The Waiting

When Katherine Herrington was a teenager, she made “The List” and believed God would bring her the husband she desired. That faith helped her to keep life under control just the way she likes it. But then Katherine loses her mother, her job, and her boyfriend, and after years of praying, she accepts the probability that God’s answer is, “No.”

A professional soccer player, Sam Tucker has lived the life of a celebrity in the UK only to discover that, despite all the wealth and fame he has acquired, his life is empty. He returns to the one place where life last had meaning, and goes in search of the one woman he’s loved since he was a teenager—Katherine. He wonders if she’ll remember him after all these years… And fears she just might.

As God weaves together a rejected proposal, a mission trip, and a devastating storm to turn their hearts toward Him and toward each other, Katherine and Sam will have to let go of their fears, find forgiveness and trust, and realize that their future together was worth the wait.

Today I have Carol James talking about her new release, The Waiting. Welcome, Carol!

Tell us about your favorite character in your new book.

Wow, that is so hard. Kind of like asking a mother which child is her favorite. But, if I HAVE to specify, it would be Sam. I love his determination and drive, his fearless love of life, and his faithful love for Katherine. I love watching him struggle with growing from the person the world wants him to be into the future God holds for him.

Do you read the reviews and comments of your readers? How important are reviews to authors?

I never realized how important reviews were to authors until I started writing. Leaving a review is probably the most important thing (besides purchasing the book) that readers can do for an author. They are the lifeblood of success. And, yes, I read every one of the reviews. If a person takes the time to express an opinion, I certainly should take the time to hear it. Although reviews are purely subjective, I think it’s worthwhile for authors to consider them all. Many times, the reviews that are the hardest to read can teach the most.

How much of yourself do you put into your books?

It’s impossible to remove yourself from your writing. Years of experiences and living life can’t help but influence the ideas and viewpoints expressed. That being said, part of a writer’s job is to create characters outside his or her realm of experience. That’s where the wonderful imagination comes into play. And that is also one of the parts of writing I enjoy the most – creating characters that are different from me. Maybe they have characteristics I wish I had; maybe they have traits I’m glad I don’t. But, as readers, we shouldn’t necessarily draw conclusions about an author’s personal life or beliefs based on the characters we see.

Some people believe being a published author is glamorous. Is that true?

ROTFLOL!! If you call working long hours with little sleep for little money glamorous . . . For me, writing is a ministry. My prayer is that someone will pick up one of my books and find words or an idea that encourages and ministers to them. But writing is hard work, and the road to publication is filled with rough spots and potholes. Today’s author must be a writer, editor, publicist, marketing guru, researcher extraordinaire, meme designer, and social media expert. The advice my first publisher gave me was, “Don’t quit your day job.” And most authors do have a “real” day job and they’re squeezing their writing in between that job and their family life. But, I love writing, and I can’t imagine doing anything else at this time in my life. Glamor can be highly overrated.

Who are some of your favorite authors? Have you met any of them and found yourself having a fan-girl moment?

I can still remember the first series of Christian fiction I read. It was the Baxter series by Karen Kingsbury. I’d always been a fan of mainstream fiction, but her books opened a whole new world for me. Reading her books birthed the desire in me to write. One Mother’s Day weekend, Karen came to our city for a book signing and my daughter took me as a “gift.” I stood in line hoping I would be able to say something meaningful to her, something to let her know how much I enjoyed her work and what it meant to me. “My exact words were, ‘I love your books. In fact, they inspired me to start writing. But, I’m sure you hear that all the time.’” She stopped signing my book and said, “No one has ever today me that before.” She was gracious and asked me a few questions. Then she handed me a piece of paper with a phone number on it and said “Tell them Karen told you to call.” Because of her encouragement, my first book was published. The title of the book she signed for me? The Chance.

Read a free excerpt of The Waiting.

As a gust of wind blew rain into the small cave, Katherine shivered again, and Sam turned his back to the doorway in the rock to shelter her from the cold. He held her close, and while habit told her to pull away, she refused to obey as the old Katherine would have done. Instead, she placed her head back on his shoulder, and he began slowly swaying back and forth as if they were dancing. Stepping out of the boat meant taking risks she’d never taken before. And yet something about him felt safe.

“Hey.” Barely audible above the splatting of the rain against the river rocks, his whisper warmed her hair.

In response, she turned her face up toward his. They were eyelashes apart.

“Whatcha thinking?”

How close you are. “Nothing.”

“Nothing?” His eyes probed hers until he had to be able to read her thoughts. “I’m pretty sure that’s impossible.”

How close you are. And how much I like it. “Nothing…really.”

“Sorry, but I’m not buying.” He gently rested his forehead against hers. “Let me see if I can pick up some telepathic communications here. Look into my eyes.”

She was floating in the ocean, the sunlight sparkling on the gentle, cerulean waves. Kiss me. “Sam, I—”

“Quiet, please. I need total silence to ensure accurate results.” As she continued to stare into the

blue pools, tiny lines crinkled at the outer edges, and he drew his head away. “I got it.”

“You have, have you?‛ For some ridiculous reason her voice quivered.

“Yes. You have a question you want to ask me.”

“Oh, I do? And what would that be?”

“You’re wondering why I haven’t tried to kiss you.”

Her face was on fire as she moved away. There’s no way he could have possibly known her thoughts.

“And you think it might be because I’m not attracted to you.” He entwined his fingers with hers

and then raised their clasped hands to draw her back to him. “But you’re wrong.”

The rain had slowed to a gentle sprinkle as the storm marched on downstream. In minutes, the two of them would exit the cave, and these moments of forced intimacy would be gone as quickly as they had come. She needed to take advantage of the little time they had left. “Why haven’t you then? Every other man I’ve ever dated would have at least tried by now.”

“I’m not every other man.”

He was right about that.

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About Carol

Carol James is an author of inspirational fiction. She lives in a small town outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her husband, Jim, and a perky Jack Russell “Terrorist,” Zoe.

Having always loved intriguing stories with happy endings, she was moved to begin writing to encourage others as she’d been encouraged by the works of other authors of inspirational fiction.

Carol enjoys spending time with her husband, children, and grandchildren, traveling with friends, and serving in the production department at her church. And, most days in the late hours of the night or the wee hours of the morning, she can be found bringing her newest novel to life.

Find Carol online

Friday’s Feature with Clare Revell

I’m so excited to have Clare Revell here today to answer some fun questions and share her new book, Dark Lake.

Thank you so much for being here, Clare.

Tell us about your favorite character in your new book.

That would be Lou. She was the heroine in my YA series Signal Me. I wanted to do a story about her when she’d grown up and Dark Lake kind of just wrote itself. She’s feisty, has a temper, hates taking orders or being told she can’t do something.

Do you read the reviews and comments of your readers? How important are reviews to authors?

Yes, I do. Not that I get many – some books have loads, some have none. I find that hardly any are put on the UK side of Amazon and being a British author I always look there first. Even a short I loved it is great.

How much of yourself do you put into your books?

Ignoring the fact that Lou is my middle name and I hate taking orders? I tend to put a fair amount in. Dad always recognises things from my childhood. Hubby always recognises expressions as mine such as saying afty instead of afternoon. And strangely enough all of my heroines hate eight legged creatures. (not octopi)

Some people believe that being a published author is glamorous, is that true?

Nope. And it definitely doesn’t pay millions. Or produce film deals or anything like that. It’s a lot of hard work. Most of the day, or night, is spent handwriting each book, then typing it up.

Who are some of your favourite authors?

I grew up reading and loving Enid Blyton and Laura Ingalls Wilder. Then moved on to Danielle Steele, Elizabeth George, Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler.

Have you met any of them and found yourself having a fan-girl moment?

No. But TV stars… several. And the hosts of a quiz show on the BBC did a book signing at our local book shop before it closed. So I went and bought a book, had my photo taken and yes… fangirled.


Archaeologist Dr. Lou Fitzgerald is used to unexpected happenings, and they don’t usually faze her. After surviving a childhood disability, and dealing with an unfair boss, Lou has learned the art of rolling with the punches. But when she arrives at Dark Lake, what was supposed to be a simple archaeological dig is beyond even her wildest imaginations.

Land owner Evan Close has his own reasons for keeping the secrets of Dark Lake, and this attractive interloper is a menace. Her precious dig threatens to bring his house of cards tumbling down around him, and he feels helpless to stop it.

It soon becomes apparent there are dark forces at work, and Lou’s simple assignment turns into a mystery. Solving that mystery comes with a steep price.

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Read an excerpt from Chapter 1 of Dark Lake:

Lou leaned back in her chair, glad she was sitting down. Her heart raced, cheeks burned and her stomach clenched. “You’re kidding me,” she finally managed past the huge lump in her throat.

“No. I’m sorry. I’m not kidding. I’m deadly serious.” Varian certainly didn’t appear sorry, and he definitely didn’t sound apologetic. He both looked and sounded smug, as if this had been his plan all along.

“I can’t leave,” Lou insisted. “Didn’t you hear me? We found it. Proof that I was right all along.” She waved a file at him. “This is my work. My discovery. You can’t just replace me.”

Make that replace her again—the same way he always did, right when she was on the cusp on proving something or on the brink of another discovery.

“I’m sure your team is more than capable of carrying on without you.”

“Uh, no, they’re not,” she spluttered. Were they really having this conversation? “They need me as much as I need to be here.”

“Are you saying you don’t trust them?”

“No. I’m not saying that at all! I trust them implicitly. Well, most of them anyway.” She sucked in a deep breath, her hands curling into balls under the desk. She tamped down her temper and tried to put a lid on her emotions. “I’m saying I’ve put years into this and I want to—”

“—be the one to finish it?” Varian completed her sentence in that annoying manner, which only served to irritate her further.

She scowled, fingers drumming on the desk. “Yes. Is that so wrong? It’s my work, my paper, my blood, sweat, and tears, not to mention sleepless nights that have gone into this and you want to ditch me in favour of some up and coming lackey so you and he can take the glory? Again. It’s not fair.”

“Life isn’t fair. You’ve got an hour to get your notes and files together before you brief him and me—”

“I don’t believe I’m hearing this!”

“Then you leave and don’t look back.”

Lou scowled harder, wishing she could give him the “stink-eye” as Jim termed it when they were kids. “Who is he anyway? This person you’re replacing me with.”

“Monty is coming down to…”

She almost yelled aloud in frustration, reining it in at the last second. Monty was Varian’s son. It made sense he’d be the one taking over now that they were so close to a discovery that would make her name and put this corner of Wales on the map right up there with Stonehenge and the Grand Canyon.

Instead, Lou picked up a pen and hurled it across the portacabin. “What a surprise. You know, it’s so nice to see that nepotism is alive and well and flourishing in Wales. The exact same way it does all over the country wherever the Sparrow Foundation can be found.”

She paused, counting to five slowly. “Are you sacking me?” she muttered.

“On the contrary, I have a nice simple job for you.”

“Tell you what. Send Monty to do your nice simple job. See if he can do that without messing it up. We all know what happened on the Tumbrel dig. How he was responsible for those deaths.”

Varian’s expression darkened, and Lou wisely shut up before he really did sack her. “Have you heard of Dark Lake?” he asked.

“Should I have?”

“It’s a reservoir up in the Pennines. The villages of Abernay and Finlay were flooded in the first half of the last century to make the Aberfinay Dam, shortly before the start of the Second World War. It’s now known locally as Dark Lake after the new village that sprang up next to it. The dam provides water for one of the large towns. It doesn’t matter which one. The whole area is owned by an old family friend, Evan Close.”

Her fingers drummed her irritation on the desk. “And? What does this have to do with the price of fish?”

“The water levels have dropped enough to see the church spire above the level of the reservoir. A few unusual artefacts have washed ashore. I want you to go up there and see what’s going on.”


“Like I said the land is owned by a family friend. Neither of us wants this getting into the media. We’d prefer it be handled quickly and quietly. I can get you permission to dive once or twice. And arrange for a diving team to meet you up there.”

“Can’t it wait a few weeks?”

“No. It has to be done now.”

“Send Whatshisface up there.”

“Monty can’t swim. You can. You have a gold medal to prove it.”

Lou chewed her bottom lip. “That was a lifetime ago. I had to make a choice over careers, and I chose archaeology. I finally get my big break, and you’re taking it away from me. When I’ve done all the leg work, all the research…”

Varian handed her a file. “I’d shut up about now if I were you. Assuming you want to keep your job. I’m sending you to Dark Lake. End of discussion. I’ll see you in an hour.”

Lou stood. Part of her wanted to quit on the spot, but the other part of her had more sense. “You know what? Brief yourself. These are all my files and notes. I’m sure my team can tell you anything else you need to know if you can’t read my writing.”


“Don’t you Lou me. I’ve spent the best part of ten years working for you, and this is how you repay me. Every. Single. Time.” She stomped over to the door and slammed it hard behind her.

More about Clare

Clare is a British author. She lives in a small town just outside Reading, England with her husband, whom she married in 1992, their three children, and unfriendly mini-panther, aka Tilly the black cat. They have recently been joined by Hedwig and Sirius the guinea pigs. Clare is half English and half Welsh, which makes watching rugby interesting at times as it doesn’t matter who wins.

Writing from an early childhood and encouraged by her teachers, she graduated from rewriting fairy stories through fan fiction to using her own original characters and enjoys writing an eclectic mix of romance, crime fiction and children’s stories. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading, crocheting or doing the many piles of laundry the occupants of her house manage to make.

Her books are based in the UK, with a couple of exceptions, thus, although the spelling may be American in some of them, the books contain British language and terminology and the more recent ones are written in UK English.

The first draft of every novel is hand written.

She has been a Christian for more than half her life. She goes to Carey Baptist where she is one of four registrars.

She can be found at:




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