Thursday, February 9, 2017

Interview with the Author: April W. Gardner

After reviewing Bitter Eyes No More, I had the opportunity to interview April Gardner and ask her a few questions about her writing. (Read my book review here!)

How long have you been writing?

Oh, I think it's been close to thirteen years now, but there was a stint of a few years where I hardly wrote a thing due to illness. I never stopped though, just pecked away at the keyboard slow and steady. Praise God that's behind me!

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Nope! I remember being five and my mom telling me I was going to go to college. I said, "No, I'm not. I'm going to be a mommy." It was all I ever wanted to be, so I did! My kids are 15 and 13. The writer in my came out all the same.

How do you come up with your ideas for stories?

I rely heavily on history's structure, building my plots around historical events. That helps a lot! As far as characters, I try to come up with opposing interests for optimum conflict, such as Phillip Bailey, (the army captain assigned to subdue a fort controlled by runaway slaves and return the slaves to their owners) paired with Milly, one of the runaways who can pass for white except for her African hair. That's the premise of The Ebony Cloak.

Do you have/Have you had any other careers besides writing?

If being a mommy counts, then yes! :-)

Let’s talk more about your new release, Bitter Eyes No More. Tell me about it:

Bitter Eyes No More is number one in my Drawn by the Frost Moon trilogy, which is set during the first days of the First Seminole War and the last days of Spanish rule in Florida.

Give us a Synopsis for the book:

Spanish Florida once sheltered Lillian McGirth from her fears. Now, it feeds them. Mercy is for the deserving; for Lillian, an unwed mother accused of treason, there is only battering and defeat, but her fall breaks softly in the arms of an unexpected arrival, a man too beautiful of soul to stain with her lost character.

Captain Marcus Buck sails in on a pledge to save Miss McGirth from herself and from her child’s father, a ruthless don. All the while, he’s to regard her as virtuous and worthy of protection and to guard said virtue from pilfering. But the terms are flawed since he must first guard her from himself. Regardless, he is determined. He will free her, repair her name—simple labor compared to dodging the army’s noose, mending wounds three years deep, and navigating a host of rebel Natives bent on inflicting more.
Through the steady crumble of his pledge, their friendship becomes a consolation, for she knows his pain as no other can or will. Their scars are one; their paths, however, might irrevocably become two…

What was the inspiration behind this story?

In my stories, the inspiration is always the history behind it. In this case, it’s the events surrounding Spanish Fort San Marcos. Today it’s little more than rubble, but the circumstances surrounding it changed the course of American history.

Tell us about your main character:

Lillian McGirth spent the first three books in the series creating trouble for herself and the protags of those books. Now, she’s paying the piper and trying desperately to free herself of the pit she’s dug. She’s beautiful, sensual, bold, and devastatingly weak. She’s also fiercely loyal and sacrificial, and she loves with her whole being. Once she realizes her worth isn’t found in men and God’s strength can fill her weaknesses, she’ll make for a rather fine woman.

Which is your favorite minor character and why?

My favorite minor character is Don Diego López de Aragón, viscount of Apalachee. He’s the antagonist, but how can you not be impressed by a guy with such a wowzers name? There’s also his cool 1800’s Spanish wardrobe to take into consideration: “pink velvet breeches, double-woof sleeves, and gold vest. A green cravat and matching sash at his waist completed the ensemble, making him the archetypal rich majo. Bold, conceited, defiant of conventions.”

Your character is at a bookstore. What book is in his/her hand right now?

Lillian would probably be holding one of Santa Teresa de Jesus’s memoirs. It’s required reading as part of her imposed canonical penance. In addition, she must spend “long hours in prayer and in a fast meant to purge her of fleshly desires.” Poor Lillian has it rough!

Please share a few favorite lines or one paragraph:

Marcus shoved the medical case under his arm. “Until tomorrow, Miss McGirth.” He wavered in a hungry study of her, then swiveled to Diego.

Fearlessly, he drew his weapon, raised it in a swordsman’s salute—cross guard brought horizontal beneath his eyes—and waited for Diego to return it. At its absence, he strode from the hacienda, bag in one hand, bared sword in the other.

Lillian’s heart tripped, lost its footing, and fell after him. With a sharp intake, she scrambled after the treacherous thing, fumbling miserably. Even while she admonished herself to keep after her heart, to lock it back in place, she was forced to admit that there was nothing to do with a man like Marcus Buck. Except lose her heart to him.

Of all the books out there, why should readers choose this one? (What makes your book stand out from the rest?)

The time period is unique, and with my books, like it or not, readers always come away having learned about a little-known historical event. Also, the content isn’t glossy or pat. My novels always have a solid edge of realism to them. I portray life in all its beautiful grit. No sugar-coating. That may or may not appeal to readers, but that’s what I look for in a book, so in my opinion, it’s a plus! ☺

Let’s shift gears and talk more about your writing.

What is your favorite song(s) to listen to while writing?

Ah, music, I can almost not function without it. I have a subscription to Slacker for my Sonos and write to spa music. Don’t laugh! It’s soothing and often Native American in flavor, which is perfect for my theme!

Have you ever named a character in honor of someone you know?

Yes! I named my heroine’s little brother after my own little brother Charlie. One day, he’ll probably get his own story. ☺

At what moment did you feel like you could say, “NOW, I'm an author?”

When I decided to go fulltime, but that wasn’t until about two years ago when I went indie. Hmm, I’m just now realizing that going indie was, oddly enough, what made me feel like a REAL writer. You’d think it would be if I got a contract with a large house, but nope. It was when I cut ties with my small houses and took the reins myself. No regrets. Not one.

What is one of your favorite/go-to writing resources? I’m in it all day, every day. A girl shouldn’t love the dictionary so much. It’s kinda nerdy.

What project are you working on now?

I’m starting book 2 of the Drawn by the Frost Moon trilogy. It’s always fun sitting down to dig into a new world, new lives, new romance!
Have you always liked to write?

Actually, I was diagnosed with dyslexia when I was a kid. Reading came very hard for me. Writing, naturally, followed that pattern, but I’ve been creating stories in my mind since first grade. I didn’t discover the joy of writing until I was sixteen. The CALL to write didn’t come until I was in my late twenties, but I haven’t looked back since!

What book are you currently reading?

I’ve been on a classics kick lately, so I’m reading My Escape from the Auto de Fe. It was written in the 1800s and is set during the 1500s Spanish Inquisition. An eye-opening read for sure. Did you know the Spanish Inquisition lasted over 300 years? I’ve researched it a bit for my recent release Bitter Eyes No More, and even though I grew up in Spain, I had no idea about most of it. The level of depravity man can reach is simply astounding.

Do you write/read every single day?

I do without fail. Sometimes, though, my “writing” is plotting or editing. It all counts.

Do you have any furry writing buddies? (Or scaled or feathered?)

My fluffy buddy, Jackson (White German Shepherd), is usually nearby. He’s a rescue dog and fearful of everything, so if something has been added to the room (a bag or coat on a chair), he runs to his safe corner upstairs. He’s such a basket case! Which is ironic because the objects he fears most are laundry baskets. ☺ Can’t help but love the crazy dog!

April, thank you for joining us today and for sharing your stories and your writing experience! -Julie L. Spencer

Follow April W. Gardner on social media:

Twitter--@AprilWGardner OR

Other books by April W. Gardner:

Who is Ian Taylor? Find out here!

Book Review of Bitter Eyes No More by April Gardner

I was hooked on Bitter Eyes No More by April Gardner from page one and couldn’t put it down. It sort of reminded me of Gone with the Wind, which was really cool! Quite a compliment to be compared to an epic novel by a bestselling author like Margaret Mitchell!

The main character, Lillian is an elegant lady with a twisted past. She was so human! From the moment I met her (okay, okay, I know she’s just a character in a book, leave me alone!), I felt a connection to her. She’s so perfectly imperfect.

I love it that she’s so torn between what her body wants and what her mind wants. Aren’t we all? If you’re saying ‘no’ right now, quit lying! I also love the way the handsome doctor finds her just in the nick of time and saves her life, and arrives right when Lillian needs a doctor for her ailing baby.

Captain Marcus Buck (the handsome young doctor) is a devout Christian who refuses to let his body dictate how he cares for Lillian, no matter how much he wants to make her feel better in every way possible. He repeatedly reminds himself that he is her doctor first, and her (potential) companion second. He is also sworn to protect her and bring her home to her father.

Bitter Eyes No More has twists and turns and complexities, and surprises, and drama, and a LOT of passion. Although there were many confusing things about the story, and tons of subplots and interwoven plotlines from other books in the series, I loved it. I can’t wait to read it again, and that really says something considering how busy I am, and how many books are waiting on my Kindle right now!

Read my Interview with the Author post featuring April W. Gardner!

Other books by April W. Gardner:

Who is Ian Taylor? Find out here!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Interview with the Author Tanya Eavenson

After reviewing To Gain a Valentine, I had the honor to interview Tanya Eavenson about her writing and her new release. Read my Book Review of To Gain a Valentine here.

What is your favorite song(s) to listen to while writing?

It really depends on what I’m writing, but I love just about any song from David Crowder.

What is the first thing you remember writing?

I remember writing poems when I was a child, and then in middle school on certain Wednesdays I was allowed to read them over the intercom during the morning announcements.

At what moment did you feel like you could say, “NOW, I'm an author?”

For me, it wasn’t until my second book released entitled Restored. A man actually read my book and left a review on Amazon that blew me away. I was speechless to say the least, and he ended the review with this: “Restored is a powerful story of love and faith. It is one of the most memorable books I've read in the last ten years. It has my highest recommendation. Five Stars.”

Do you write using a keyboard, pen and paper, or both?

I write using a keyboard and pen and paper, actually about 50/50.
What project are you working on now?

I have another novella set to release this Christmas entitled To Gain a Stocking. But until then, I’m changing gears from contemporary to historical romance. I’m working on a series of full length novels set in the late 1800s. The first novel in the All Roads Lead to Texas Series is called The Rescue, which will be releasing this spring! Each heroine has circumstances that will drive them to a small town in Texas. This series has been such an adventure to write!
What is one of your favorite beverages/snacks while writing?

Coffee and Chocolate! =)

Do you have any furry writing buddies?

I do! This is Woody. And he also loves to play board games!

Who are your three favorite characters in your book(s)?

Strangely enough, I have a thing for my secondary characters. I write them to be such strong male characters, they insistent on their own stories and I can’t help but to say yes!

Steven Moore first appeared in Unconditional as Doctor Steven Moore, but now, he has his own story entitled Restored. Patrick Reynolds from To Gain a Mommy was Hope’s love interest and co-worker at a pediatric practice, but now, he’s the hero of To Gain a Valentine. And last but not least, I have a secondary character from an unpublished novel that now has his own story within the All Roads Leads to Texas Series. Men! LOL!

So, give us a synopsis for To Gain a Valentine.

Pediatrician Patrick Reynolds works wonders with sick children, yet when it comes to pets, he’s clueless. But caring for his sister’s menagerie while she’s on vacation is the perfect answer to working through a broken engagement. Hoping to escape the memories, he returns to his hometown, the last place he'd expect to find love.

Life as a single mom is never easy, but pet shop owner Amabelle Durand has found contentment. When an old friend returns to care for his sister’s pets, he enlists her assistance to keep the animals alive. But when Amabelle's young daughter falls ill, she finds herself attracted to more than the handsome pediatrician’s medical skills.

As Valentine's Day approaches, will Patrick and Amabelle miss out on the love they've always desired? Or will their love take flight under the stars on this very special night? 

Let’s have some fun with your story and get to know the characters a little.
  1. One of your characters is going on a shopping spree. Where does he/she go and what does he/she buy?

Patrick is going to head to a pet store and since he’s clueless when it comes to animals, he’s going to purchase a book entitled Pet Care for Dummies and buy every brand of dry dog food, hamster food, lizard food, fish food, and parakeet food he can get his hands on.
  1. Your character is at a bookstore. Which section is he/she shopping in? What book is in his/her hand right now?

Amabelle is in the magazine section of the bookstore, skimming the pages of different baby magazines trying to decide which one to purchase.
  1. Please share a few favorite lines or one paragraph.

How about a scene? =)

“I had another man’s child. I wasn’t married. I’m struggling to make ends meet. You deserve someone better, someone like you.
He gently laid Abby on the sofa and went to Amabelle. If only he could reach out and hold her, assure her of his words, but he held himself in place. “You have it all wrong,” he said softly, “I was meant for you. All this time…I didn’t realize until I saw you again, felt your touch on the day I arrived. It’s you. It’s always been you.”
“But the promise we made. Did you keep yours?”
“Yes,” he said without wavering.
“And I—”
“—have a beautiful daughter that looks just like you, and if you’ll allow me, I’d like to be her father one day.”
A tear running down her cheek was her only response. Whether she felt the same for him or not, he took the two steps that separated them and cupped her cheek. “Will you let me love you? To be the husband you deserve, a loving father to your daughter?” He ran his thumb over her lips, leaning in slightly. He hesitated for only a moment before finding her mouth warm against his.

  1. How did you come up with the title?

The title was pretty easy since all the novellas in the series will start with To Gain a… The rest gets filled in later. I’m really trying to have two lines of books. My full-length novels are heart-gripping stories, while my novellas are short, fun reads. I decided to go this route because I love to read, but I don’t always have the time. This way, it’s the best of both worlds.
  1. Tell us about your cover art and how it pertains to your story.

My cover artist is wonderful! Amanda had done my covers for my publisher, so when I told her what I was wanting, she gave me the reins. I found this photo and did a double take. I had found Patrick! Can you imagine my surprise finding him exactly as I thought he should look! He’s a cutie for sure! This photo of Patrick and Amabelle is perfect in every way. It’s the past, present, and their future coming together in front of our eyes.

  1. Fiction can often provide powerful life lessons. What message do you hope readers get from your book?

That sometimes life is messy, but love still conquers all.

Tanya, thank you for joining us and letting us get to know you and your story. It’s been an honor spending time with you. -Julie L. Spencer

Tanya Eavenson is a bestselling and an award-winning inspirational romance author. She enjoys spending time with her husband and their three children. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Word Weavers International. Her favorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book.

Social Media Accounts:

Twitter account:

Website and/or Blog:

Amazon Author Page:

Goodreads Profile:

Google+ Profile:

Facebook Author Page:

Pintrest Page:

YouTube Channel:

Other books from Tanya Eavenson:

Other books by Tanya Eavenson:

Who is Ian Taylor? Find out here!

Book Review of To Gain a Valentine by Tanya Eavenson

I was hooked on To Gain a Valentine by Tanya Eavenson from page one and couldn’t put it down. The main character, Patrick only intended to briefly return to his childhood town in order to help out his sister with her pets while she was on vacation.

But, he didn’t count on the animals being so much trouble. They escaped cages and fences, were eaten or died. Thankfully, he had an ally with an old friend who happened to own a pet store! She also had once had a crush on Patrick and he on her. In any Romance story, chance brings them together over and over as Patrick fights to keep his sister’s menagerie alive so his young nephews come home to their pets.

There are several things by which I evaluate a book.

1) Is it well written? Yes, I found few typos or grammatical errors in To Gain a Valentine.
2) Does it deliver what it promises? Yes, it was a sweet, clean romance, nothing more, nothing less.
3) Is it the kind of book that captures my attention and I ‘can’t put it down’? Yes, I found that I looked forward to reading the story and finished it in less than a day, even though I had to fit a full work day in, and several appointments.
4) Is the story predictable and cliché? If a writer can shock me or have a twist that I didn’t see coming, that deserves super high marks. Unfortunately, To Gain a Valentine was indeed predictable and cliché, but that didn’t really detract from my enjoyment because most books are.

Negatives? The conflict was unbalanced. Just when I thought there was a major conflict coming, it resolved itself ‘off-screen’ and was over before it began. There were also multiple references to a big Valentine’s Day dance, but that, too fell short of my expectations. It ended too soon and I was left feeling like there should have been more to the story. But, I rather enjoyed the book, and it was well-written so that made it okay. It was memorable, and I like that.

Have you read To Gain a Valentine by Tanya Eavenson? What’s your opinion? –Julie L. Spencer

Other books by Tanya Eavenson:

Who is Ian Taylor? Find out here!