Monday, January 30, 2012

Author Interview and Giveaway: To Dance Once More by Sherri Johnson!

Welcome to the CBRB, Sherri! I am so glad to have you here! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am Sherri Wilson Johnson. I am a former homeschooling mom, a writer and a speaker. I live in Georgia – born and raised here and I guess I’ll stay here for a while.

My debut novel, To Dance Once More (OakTara), is a special project originating from my love of pure romance. It is set in Victorian-era Florida, bringing the romance of the beach and debutante balls together.

When did you first discover that you loved writing?

Writing has been a hobby of mine since I was a little girl. I have always made up stories in my head. As a young adult, I read secular romances, and soon saw the need for good clean literature. I began writing Inspirational Romances, which quickly became my favorite pastime and grew into a calling.

Why do you write the type of books that you do?

 I love to entertain people. So I hope my readers will be entertained by reading one (or all) of my books. But there is a deeper purpose to my writing. I hope to prove that true love still exists and that it is worth the wait. I want my readers to see that God is the best and most faithful love of all. I desire to point others to Jesus through my writing.

What was your greatest obstacle in writing and how did you overcome it?

My biggest obstacle has been finding the time to write when the idea hits me. As a homeschooling mom with a part time job, the best ideas always hit at the worst of times.  But I made sure to write down whatever came to me so I didn’t lose it. Sometimes I had to wait until the weekend to write full passages but I made sure to do it. Now that I am no longer homeschooling, I will say that one of the greatest obstacles to writing is marketing. But when you’re a writer, you must market.

Has writing changed your life in any way?

Writing has given me an outlet for expression. I have experienced a good bit of loss and tragedy in my life and writing has helped keep me sane.

What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most?
John 14:1-3 has always been my favorite passage. It comforts me to know there is a new home waiting for me. - Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Yes, it is wonderful to know that God Almighty has prepared a place for us where we can spend eternity with Him! Is there a book you’ve read that has been truly spectacular?

I love The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis because it opens the reader’s eyes up to the reality of spiritual warfare.

What’s the funniest/quirkiest thing you’ve ever done? 

I have answered this question in several interviews and I suppose I need to think of a new response. But this one seems to make people laugh. So I will tell the story again. I have a twelve year old Labrador who at times loves to bark like crazy. A few years ago I bought a bark collar for her to stop her from barking. It wasn’t working so I decided to see if something was wrong with the collar. I placed the little booger on my own throat and barked. To my horror, the collar worked quite well and shocked me ferociously. 

Ha! That is funny! Please tell us about the featured book.
Buy at Amazon

To Dance Once More
April 1886 -- Debutante Lydia Jane Barrington lives a carefree, protected existence on Live Oaks Plantation in Florida. But while her sisters happily learn the traditional tasks of women and talk of courting, Lydia dreams of adventure and independence. Even her friendship with handsome Hamilton Scarbrough isn’t enough to hold her back.
Then one day Hamilton opens Lydia’s eyes and her heart to love. But before they can receive permission to court, Lydia overhears a secret conversation about an unscrupulous business deal. Worse, it has everything to do with her and her future. Now she’s faced with the biggest decision of her life—to concede or to fight. Either choice will require great sacrifice…and, perhaps, countless rewards.

Ohh! Intriguing. Can you please give us the first page?

Chapter One
April 6, 1886

The warm sun beamed through the lace curtains covering the whitewashed windows of Lydia Jane Barrington’s bedchamber. Her home at Live Oaks Plantation sat on the outskirts of Gulf Resort, Florida, a modern, bustling port. Outside, the mourning doves cooed, and the bushy-tailed squirrels scampered about the lawn. Chickens clucked while they pecked at the ground eagerly gathering corn kernels. In the distance, cows mooed, waiting for the farm hand to milk them, unaware that summer waited patiently for its chance to scorch the land.

A salty breeze blew across Lydia’s porcelain face and called her from her deep slumber. Her curtains rose with the breeze and jerked down quickly, slamming back against the windowsill. She stretched with a yawn, and as morning nudged her, languorously she opened her eyes. She slid from her bed, cast the covers onto the floor, and sauntered across the sun-drenched room. Her crystal blue eyes sparkled like the sun on the ocean in the morning. Her hair, an auburn-colored cascading waterfall, was a gift from her mother’s side of the family. She went to the window and, pushing back the curtains, looked out at the plantation. The moss-draped live oaks and the towering cypress trees painted shadow puppets on the ground. The sun shone on the land as far as Lydia could see.
Lydia put on the pastel-blue cotton dress her Aunt Rebecca had made for her, then gazed out her window and drank in the scenery. As a child, she had stared out this same window and dreamed, like most young girls, about being the lady of her own manor with many children. However, over the past year, during moments like this, she wondered what else the world had to offer beyond what her eyes could see, away from this vast estate. She did not want to be like all the women she knew who seemingly disappeared in the shadows of their husbands. She feared most of all a betrothal to someone whom her father chose for her; forced into a loveless relationship simply to increase her father’s money pouch. To her, that was nothing more than slavery, and slavery no longer existed, thanks to the Civil War. 

She wanted to travel and see the entire world, not simply entertain guests who had come from exotic locations around the world. She knew in her heart that there must be a higher purpose for her life. Therefore, she vowed that she would find her way in this world, like the women about whom the new governess, Kathryn, had taught her.

Soon she descended the oak staircase, ten-feet-wide and slightly curved, and headed for the sweet-smelling breakfast room, where her family gathered for the morning meal. Isabel Ann, the cook, with a delightful smile across her dark, round face, placed the steaming food on the twelve-foot-long oak table, hewed from one of Live Oak’s old trees.

Lydia found her seat next to Kathryn. As usual, she reached for a nibble of biscuit and instantly received a scolding from Isabel Ann as her father, Archibald, began his prayer of thanks. This mirrored almost every other morning Lydia had experienced, except that this morning marked her sixteenth birthday.

“You and Nathan have a good day in the fields, Archibald. Eliza and I are going to prepare the house for tonight’s birthday festivities. Josie, Alexa, and Lydia, you young ladies get off to school now,” Rosalyn, Lydia’s mother, said as she gracefully rose from her seat at the table.

“Oh, Mother, do I have to go today? It is my birthday after all,” Lydia protested, twisting sideways in her chair to face her mother.

“Yes, of course you do. Nathan is working today, and so will you. Now run along,” Rosalyn said, dismissing her with a wave of her delicate hand. Her eyes sparkled with love for her animated daughter.

Lydia’s father looked on in reserved silence. His dark eyes, in contrast to Rosalyn’s, seemed like coal dust. “A good education is something to be appreciated, Lydia,” Archibald chastised in his firm but loving way.

“Yes, Father.” Lydia stood up from her chair and excused herself. 
To learn more about Sherri you can go to her website:
Sherri has kindly offered to giveaway an eBook copy of her book To Dance Once More. To enter please leave a comment with your email address. If you do not add your email address you cannot win.
For extra entries: 
~Be a follower +1
~Add my button to your blog +1
 ~Post about this giveaway +2
(please leave a separate comment for each extra entry)

Giveaway ends at midnight (Eastern time) on Sunday February 12, 2012.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Fantastic Fiction: Promise Me This- Cathy Gohlke

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Michael Dunnagan was never supposed to sail on the Titanic, nor would he have survived if not for the courage of Owen Allen. Determined to carry out his promise to care for Owen’s relatives in America and his younger sister, Annie, in England, Michael works hard to strengthen the family’s New Jersey garden and landscaping business.

Annie Allen doesn’t care what Michael promised Owen. She only knows that her brother is gone—like their mother and father—and the grief is enough to swallow her whole. As Annie struggles to navigate life without Owen, Michael reaches out to her through letters. In time, as Annie begins to lay aside her anger that Michael lived when Owen did not, a tentative friendship takes root and blossoms into something neither expected. Just as Michael saves enough money to bring Annie to America, WWI erupts in Europe. When Annie’s letters mysteriously stop, Michael risks everything to fulfill his promise—and find the woman he’s grown to love—before she’s lost forever.

Promise Me This by Cathy Gohlke / 416 pages Tyndale House Publishers