Book Chat with Author Randall Arthur


Let me just start by giving you my background story with this author.  I read Randall Arthur’s books Wisdom Hunter  as well as Jordan’s Crossing and Brotherhood of Betrayal and enjoyed them so much I became a stalker of his work… waiting and waiting for that next great read.  As time went on I could not find any info of any upcoming books so sadly, stopped checking.  Then, he contacted me several months ago to let me know he had a new book out and asked if I would review it.  Has the word “yes, ever been typed faster?  Forgotten Road was everything I enjoyed about Randall’s writing and more… it was real, and painfully so and that was exactly what I had always enjoyed about his writing… Randall does not take the easy road…

but the real one.  The one that I walk, the one that many of you walk…  the hard one at times.

Please welcome, Randall Arthur.


Should I call you Randall or Randy?


Randall:  Randall.  It keeps things more consistent with my recognized name as an author.



Randall it is.  Are you a coffee drinker?  And if you are, how do you take it?


Randall:  This is no exaggeration; I drink maybe 5 cups of coffee a year.  A couple of times I will drink it black, other times I will add a bit of cream.



Ummm…  I am sorry, “5 cups a year” does not compute.  😛 Just kidding.  So, as you know, I am a big fan of your past writing and was so excited when Forgotten Road came to be.  What was the reason for the large time span between the books?


Randall:  First of all, let me say I am not a full-writer.  I write only in my spare time.  Secondly, I wrote Wison Hunter, Jordan’s Crossing, and Brotherhood of Betrayal during the years I lived in Europe.  The pace of life was a bit slower; therefore; I had a greater amount of spare time to write.  Over the last twelve years I’ve lived in the United States, the pace of life for me and my family has been absolutely maddening, with many distractions.  I’ve honestly had less spare time to write. 



Forgotten Road was certainly worth the wait and I also found this newest book to be significantly different from your previous books.  Why did you choose to write this story?


Randall:  I don’t see Forgotten Road as being significantly different.  In all my books, including Forgotten Road, I try to create characters who – because of extremely bad choices or extraordinary courageous choices to live contrary to the cultural norm – win the readers deep interest.  We need these type of characters who will challenge our world views and our average behavior.



Very well put Randall.  Forgotten Road deals with an incredibly hard subject, the death of a child; and I was amazed by the way you wrote that particular part of the book.  What was writing about such a hard topic like, and what was the effect you were hoping it would have?


Randall:  The death of the child in Forgotten Road is a scene-by-scene re-creation of a real life tragedy that happened to a two-year-old son of a lifelong friend.  The book was written in memory of this little boy.  I wanted this part of the story to draw the reader into the main character’s overwhelming shock and pain. I wept as I wrote it. 



What is the one thing, if you had to choose only one, that you hope reader’s would take away from this book?


Randall:  I learned years ago that any one of my books can relay myriad messages, even a few messages that I never even thought of.  With that said, one of the main messages of Forgotten Road, as least from my perspective, is that God can not be manipulated by our faith, and that He is not predictable.  Subsequently, we must learn to trust and love Him regardless of the pain and discomfort He allows to come our way.  He knows ultimately what is best for us.  We must learn – despite our massive self-centeredness – that we are not the center of the universe and are not entitled to everything good and easy. 



With my fingers crossed, I have to ask, any more books in progress?


Randall:  Yes. I hope that my first nonfiction book will be released sometime in the next 18 months.  Beyond that, I have at least two more books of fiction that I eventually would like to put into writing. 



A nonfiction?  I will be keeping my eyes open for that one!  Any other thoughts you would like to share?


Randall:  My goal as a writer of Christian Fiction is to rip the smiling mask off American Christianity and tell stories that portray true-to-life-struggles, true-to-life-thoughts, true-to-life-reactions, and true-to-life-journeys.  As a result, my first book Wisdom Hunter got me fired from a mission agency in 1992 after serving that agency for 17 years.  Even though being fired was devastating at the time, I now count it as a badge of honor.  Granted, Forgotten Road will not be as controversial, but I am pleased to the max that the reviews of Forgotten Road – from both men and women – have already exceeded all my expectations.



Wow Randall, thank you for sharing with us so openly.  There is something powerful about being kicked out of our comfort zones.  I have my own stories of such, and so do many of my friends.  I know I truly appreciate that in your books… they are not sugar sweet, they are hard stories but they come across as real life if we like to admit it or not.  It has been a pleasure chatting with you.


Randall:  Thanks Sheila for being a fan, and for your special interest in Forgotten Road.  I am truly honored. 


Please check out Randall Arthur’s website here

You can find his books here:

Forgotten Road

Wisdom Hunter

Jordan’s Crossing

Brotherhood of Betrayal


Brown Bag Book Event with Author Laurie Hertzel

On Monday, July 18th, our local library hosted author Laurie Hertzel to discuss her latest book, News To Me, Adventures Of An Accidental Journalist.  *you can see more details about this event on the Morning Meandering post*

Laurie Hertzel always knew she wanted to be a writer.  She grew up knowing books, and knowing they were important and valued.  With nine siblings, Laurie had said, her dad would occasionally take whoever was around at the time and load them all into the van and they would go into the book store and each be able to pick out whatever book they wanted.

Laurie who is the Senior Book Editor for the Minneapolis Star and Tribune says she receives around 1,000 books a month for review.  They arrive in shopping cart loads and it is up to her to sort through them.  She says on a good week she can get 6 reviews in the paper – one on Monday, occasionally one on Wednesday and four in the Sunday paper.  It is not easy to choose she says but what she says this is what she looks for:

  • Obviously the big read – like Freedom by Johnathon Franzen (she says people expect these to be reviewed)
  • Regional Reads
  • Human Interest
  • Non Fiction or a poetry read
  • Small Presses

Her job is not sitting at a desk reading.  During office hours she is writing reviews, answering calls and emails.  Her reading comes after hours.  She loves her job and says it is really more like a 24 hours a day job.

For anyone who has an interest in journalism this is Laurie’s advice:

  • Keep practicing your craft… in other words write whenever and wherever you can
  • Dont become political as in choosing sides, you need to stay responsible and neutral
  • Be nimble… learn to use pics, video, twitter, Facebook… report across platform

As far as Laurie’s book goes… she is hilarious.  She read aloud the chapter about making coffee being part of her job at a newspaper office.  She was told that the pot was never to be empty. Laurie doesn’t drink coffee and the only faucet that had enough space to put the coffee carafe under it to fill with water, was the one in the mens bathroom.  She learned quickly that by making really bad tasting coffee, and then responding, “What?  Oh does it not taste good?  I don’t know what it should take like as I do not drink coffee”, soon caused that task to be removed from her list of duties. 

The book itself takes us through Laurie’s careers from the library to the news room… and um… back to the library.  She speaks well, she is fun and funny to listen too.  She also has some amazing chapters in the book such as when in the mid 80’s she went as a reporter to Russia with a group of people from Duluth Minnesota who wanted to make one of the Russian towns their sister city, and when letters requesting such were ignored, they decided to go in person.   Laurie pretty much sold out of her books at this event. 

I am currently reading News To Me and I will have a review of this book up in the next couple of days.

Me and Laurie Hertzel

Dinner with Beth Hoffman – author of Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt

There are moments in my life that are so wonderful I have to pinch myself to make sure they are real. 

On Tuesday, May 24th, I had the privilege to join a group of wonderful book bloggers and have dinner with the amazing Beth Hoffman.  We were to meet at 7:15 pm at Mercer’s Kitchen, in Soho New York. 

I experienced my first subway ride which I caught with Candace from Beth Fish Reads, Dawn from She’s Too Fond Of Books, and Swapna from S. Krishna’s Books.  We arrived early and waited at the bar for the rest of the bloggers and for Beth.

I met at the restaurant Lydia from Lost Entwife and she brought her sister Candace too.  Shortly after Nicole came from Linus’s Blanket, and then Julie from Booking Mama and Kathy from Bermuda Onion.  Two new to me bloggers were Stephanie from Steph The Bookworm and Mandy from The Well-Read Wife.

And of course, there was Beth Hoffman.  Beth may as well have walked right off her website as we all knew her right away – she looks exactly like her picture!  Sweet and friendly she came in and hugged each one of us, calling us her girls and escorting us to a large table for our reservation. 

She had flown in the previous day just to meet with us.  The dinner was lovely and the conversation just as lovely.  It was so interesting to listen to her talk about the characters she brought to life in Saving  Cee Cee Honeycutt as well as the one character in the book that is requested time and again by her fans to make a come back, Oletta.  (I would have to agree)

I ordered the halibut which was so amazing, and a raspberry wafer dessert that was melt in your mouth delicious. 

What a great evening!  As we talked Beth shared what was next on her agenda and I am excited to share that it is another book (SSQQUUUEEE!!!) called Looking For Me.  Beth shared that Looking For Me is going to be quite different from Saving Cee Cee Honeycutt. I am sooooo excited!

A sweet little notepad and a bookmark. The notpad says "What would Oletta Say?" - a gift from Beth Hoffman (so sweet!)

After a wonderful meal and good byes (and a few tears shed), I made it back to the hotel at 11:30 p.m.  Thrilled with a wonderful evening and the excitement of a second book by this incredible author.

Author Chat with Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan (author of A Tiger In The Kitchen)

A few weeks back I had a wonderful experience reading the book A Tiger In The Kitchen.  I loved the book, I loved the imagery, and oh yeah.… I loved the food.

After reading the book I made quick time of contacting author Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan to tell her how amazing I thought her book was and if she would like to stop by Book Journey and share with my readers a little about herself, the book, and what may be next.

I was thrilled when she said yes.

Please welcome author, Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan!

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan


Cheryl, as a coffee lover, I have to know how you take yours?

Cheryl:  My favorite coffee is Singapore-style coffee — in old-school kopitiams (or coffeeshops) there, the beans are wok-fried with lard or butter and corn kernels to give it a buttery, nutty flavor. The coffee “uncle” will then add condensed milk and sugar to the brew — it’s incredibly delicious. I also like “yin yang,” which is a cup of coffee and tea combined in equal amounts with condensed milk and sugar added to the concoction. I’m a big tea lover, too, so yin yang is the ultimate morning beverage for me.

Now I want to try that coffee!  😛  Growing up in Singapore, were you a reader?  (If so I would love to hear what books captured your attention!)


Cheryl:  I read voraciously as a child — I remember my mother taking me to Singapore’s national library every Saturday to check out nine books a week. I could have read more but that was the maximum number of books we could take out, even after combining my family members’ library cards! Enid Blyton was the author who first captured my imagination as a child — she was a very prolific British children’s author who wrote several series involving plucky children going on all sorts of adventures. I adored the Secret Seven, Famous Five and Malory Towers, about a girls’ boarding school, series. Most of all, I loved The Faraway Tree, which was about a group of city kids who move to the English countryside and are totally unhappy and bored until they discover an enchanted tree inhabited by fairies and other magical creatures. I later moved on to Judy Blume, Anne Tyler, Ernest Hemingway and more but the creativity in Enid Blyton’s books were truly an early inspiration.

When did your interest in journalism start?

Cheryl:  I knew as a child that I wanted to write for a living and when it came time to apply to colleges, journalism seemed like a way to be able to make a living doing it so I interned at The Straits Times, Singapore’s national newspaper, right after high school. During my internship, I wrote an expose of an illegal dog farm in which these poor dogs were kept in deplorable conditions — tiny, dirty cages etc. — that resulted in the Singaporean officials immediately swooping in and fining the owners. After seeing the power of the press and its ability to right wrongs, I was hooked.

Oh that is amazing!  I have always loved the power of words!  Your move from Singapore to Illinois  had to be one of excitement and a little fear too….  can you share a little bit what that was like?




Cheryl:  I moved from Singapore to Evanston, Illinois, to study journalism at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. It was a terribly exciting time but also terrifying, naturally. I’d traveled widely before but moving all by myself halfway across the world at age 18 was something else entirely. I loved learning about American culture (Friends! Seinfeld!) through my new friends and dorm-mates but it was also trying sometimes — Singapore is near the equator so it’s sweltering hot all year round. The first winter I was at Northwestern, which is on a lakefront, there was a day when the windchill was minus 70. That was dismal. I also missed Singaporean food desperately — back then it was impossible to find good versions of the curries and fried noodles I grew up eating anywhere near me.

How long a flight is that from New York to Singapore?




Cheryl:  There is a direct flight from the New York area to Singapore that takes 18 hours but usually, most flights (with connections and all) will take you close to 24 hours.

Oh wow!  24 hours!  You mention the fried noodles and the curry that you miss and even thinking about it makes my mouth water.   I still can picture that scene of the pineapple tarts, when you walked into the kitchen to discover that you were about to make 3,000 tarts.  How long did it take the 5 of you to complete that project?

Cheryl:  That was quite a scene! It was a two-day process to make all those tarts — but along the way we made a variety of other cookies, as well. On the first day, we prepped the pineapples — skinning them, gouging out the eyes, chopping them up into small chunks, running them through a juicer — and made the jam. The jam then has to cool overnight before we make the butter cookie base the next day, brush those cookies with beaten egg, top them with jam and then bake them. It sounds like a lot of work but it’s so very worth it. Pineapple tarts are out of this world.

The bonding of family cooking together puts an amazing picture in my head.  Can you describe what that was like with your family?  When you talk about missing out on that time with your Grandmother and learning her secrets and talents in the kitchen, do you feel that you accomplished that goal through the family members who did teach you?

Cheryl:  I had never cooked with my family before so throughout the year, I felt like I was connecting with them in a way that I never had before. When you’re in the kitchen with your family for hours, that’s when old stories and jokes are going to be shared. I learned a lot about various family members and my ancestors and that was a very special experience. It was also lovely to see the younger generation getting curious about the process as well — my 10-year-old cousin Matthew, for example, even set aside his iPhone games when he saw us cooking sometimes and joined in with the assembling of rolls. I’m a big proponent of passing down the recipes and stories of families so it was touching to see Matthew joining in. I feel fortunate to have had this experience — you do often take your family members for granted and it can be too late to ask them to teach you. My maternal grandmother was already starting to lose her memory when I was back for that year — if I had waited any longer, I’m not sure she would have remembered all the recipes that she was sharing with us.

This book came about as the result of being laid off from your job.  That devastating event freed you up to be able to travel and spend the time with your family and learn the traditions.  Do you look at that time now as a blessing?



Cheryl:  I definitely do — after I’d gone back to learn how to make my late grandmother’s pineapple tarts, I wanted to take a year off and travel back to Singapore to learn more recipes but there was just no way that I could have asked for the time off to do it. Right when I was rather despondent about that, the Wall Street Journal decided to eliminate its fashion bureau. I was in shock at first but literally, by the time I got back to my desk from the meeting where they laid us all off, I knew that this was what I wanted to do. I don’t think I would have had the courage to request a sabbatical to go on this journey if that hadn’t happened. I’m very thankful for that.

Do you have a favorite recipe either from the book, or personally that you enjoy making?

Cheryl:  I have so many recipes I adore — it’s like asking a mother to pick her favorite child! One of my favorite dishes is this dish called tau yew bak, which basically means soy sauce meat. My late grandmother used to make this with pork belly or duck and it’s basically meat braised for hours in a stew of dark soy sauce (which has the consistency of molasses and is rather sweet), cinnamon sticks, star anise, sugar and garlic. (I have a recipe for the duck version of this in the book.) My family also adds cubed tofu and hard-boiled eggs to this stew — you want to cook it long enough so that the tofu cubes are saturated with the gravy and the eggs are the color of milk chocolate. Now that I know how to make it, it is part of my regular rotation in New York — I don’t often make it with duck, though. (Putting my hand in the cavity of a duck is still not one of my favorite things.) I’ll do it with cubed pork loin, ground beef or pork and cubed tofu. People often think Southeast Asian cooking is daunting because the recipes sometimes have many steps and ingredients — I like to look at the recipe, try to understand the flavors of the dish, why they work together and figure out how I can simplify it for an easy weeknight meal. That’s what I’ve done with my grandmother’s tau yew bak.

Tau Yew Bak



What next for you?  Another book?  *fingers crossed*

Cheryl:  I’ve started on my second book, which is about women in their thirties. I can’t say more about it right now — but I hope you enjoy it as much as you liked A Tiger in the Kitchen!

It is a tradition around here for me to ask each author I interview to share a little known fact about themselves.  (Ie. a hobby, a funny or embarrassing memory), an unusual talent, a trip you have taken, an instrument you played in school, an award you once won…)





Cheryl:  I once drove four hours across Sicily (and four hours back) just to have lunch at a restaurant. It was a place that I’d heard of and was terribly curious about but where we were staying (Palermo) was nowhere near it. It didn’t deter me, however — the group of us just piled into two cars and went on this zany, hours-long road trip across the island just to lunch at Ristorante Duomo in Ragusa. It felt a little like we were in The Cannonball Run — but with lunch as the reward. We got very lost on the way back and I remember it being incredibly late at night by the time we made it back to Palermo. But the lunch — so fresh, so inventive — was worth the crazy, exhausting road trip. A good meal, to me, is always worth the extra mile — or, hundreds of miles.



Oh that is a wonderful fact!  Thanks so much Cheryl for joining me today!  I am so excited about your next book too!



Readers:  Please take time to check out Cheryl at her website.   Her book A Tiger In The Kitchen was a delight to read and you can see the link to my review below.

Author Chat with Sarah Pekkanen (Author of Skipping A Beat)



This is an exciting chat for me today as this is the first time I have had the honor of interviewing an author – twice.  Last year Sarah Pekkanen and I chatted about her book Opposite Of Me.  I am beyond thrilled today to have her back to talk about her book that hit the shelves today:  Skipping A Beat.

Sarah is one busy lady so I will not keep her waiting with a bunch of chit-chat… please welcome an incredible author, Sarah Pekkanen.


Sarah Pekkanen


First off…. wow!  A second book was released today!   I am so excited for you!  What does that feel like?

Sarah:  It feels amazing. I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was a young girl, and walking into bookstores and seeing my name on the cover of a book is an indescribable feeling. I just grin from ear to ear and lurk around, wondering if anyone will buy it when I’m there (yes, I’m a bookstore stalker)!



I just finished Skipping a Beat on Saturday evening and I was up until 1:00 am crying and feeling… wonderful if that makes sense.  When you sent this book off to the publisher, what did that moment feel like for you?  really I want to know… did you bawl like a baby too?

Sarah:  Thank you! I’m so glad Skipping a Beat touched you this deeply. It’s what I was hoping for when I wrote it. I go through that same tumble of intense emotions when I write. And when I send off the final version of the book, it’s with a mixed sense of elation and sadness and reflectiveness. It’s bittersweet, really, because the process of writing a book can be so tough and intense, yet you miss it so deeply when it’s over.

Sarah I have now read both your books and found that you have a gift for creating characters that feel so real that I would know them if the were three-dimensional and walking down the street.  Could you share with me how these characters come to be that you can write them so well?
Sarah:  Wow, another amazing compliment – you are making my day! I tend to be a visual person, so I “see” my characters, if that makes sense. I can picture what they look like and their mannerisms. It’s one part of the process, at least, that comes easily for me.

The main character in Skipping A Beat, Julia and Michael,  have extended family issues on both sides…. what was your reasoning for building this into the story line?
Sarah:  I really wanted to show how our families shape who we become as adults, and how we can hold on to the good in that, while releasing the bad parts. I think we carry with us the lingering shadows of our families and our awareness of that can really help us make authentic choices that are good for us, rather than reflexive reactions to situations.

Often I hear about authors writing the story without knowing the outcome until it flows out of them later in the writing.  Without giving anything away – when you started writing Skipping A Beat, did you know how it would end or did the ending come as you wrote?

Sarah:  I did know the ending – some twists during the middle of the book surprised me, but I felt all along that it needed to end this way. I plotted out this book fairly loosely, with plenty of room for inspiration, but the broad outline of the book remained just as I’d originally planned it.

What are your hopes that readers take away from this book?

Sarah:  It’s a simple message, but one I think we can never hear enough: Love is the most important thing in this world.




That is a great take away message.  What is next for you?

Sarah:  This will be a very happily busy week. Skipping a Beat comes out today, and I’m doing a signing tonight at my local Barnes & Noble. Then I’m heading to New York to meet with my publisher and do a book signing in the city! And while I’m at my publisher’s office, we’ll be talking about my third book, which I need to turn in by May 1. It’s the story of three very different women who become roommates in New York.




Oh!  I can not wait for the third book it sounds wonderful!   So, for purely selfish reasons I have to ask, will you be at BEA this May?



Sarah:  Yes – and I so hope to see you there! I’m also hoping to go to the Book Blogger Convention because I’ve gotten to know quite a few book bloggers, like you, and it’s wonderful to meet up in person. You guys are great to hang out with!




You are too sweet!  Since I interviewed you before and have already asked for a little known fact, my new question for you is – what fictional character(s) would you like to hang out with and why?



Sarah:  It’s been a long few weeks – I’m getting over the flu and am a bit run down – so I’m up for a bit of fun. I think for a good girls’ night out, you can’t beat Bridget Jones!



Thanks so much Sarah for chatting it up with me and best wishes with the new book!  I am still gushing about it!



Sarah:  Thank you Sheila! It’s always good to talk to you and hope to see you again soon!   xoxo

Readers:  Please take time to check out Sarah at her website:

You can also find her on Facebook and on Twitter

* Be sure to check out my giveaway today for a copy of Skipping A Beat!

Author Chat with Rinda Hahn (Author of Unspeakable Journey)

My plan for 2011 was to do more author chats.  I really enjoy chatting it up with the authors of the books I enjoy and being able to know the person, behind the book.  So far, as of this mid February, I have not accomplished and where near what I had hoped to do in this category.  Today however, I am hoping this interview will be a launching pad for me to move forward on more discussions such as these.

In most cases, I find books I want to read through book magazines, on-line websites, word of mouth, and of course by reading book blogs.  It is a rare circumstance these days that I find a book all on my own with no outside influences, yet, the book Unspeakable Journey is exactly that.

I was looking through a month ago for my next book on my IPOD.  Nothing on the “best sellers” list or the “Newly Released” was speaking to me and I started to explore the books by genres that I enjoy.  Cruising through the pages offered of faith reads, I found myself giving pause at this book, Unspeakable Journey.  The cover stopped me – the synopsis hooked me, and the brief listen of the narrator reeled me in.

It was supposed to be a quick trip to the store, but it turned into an Unspeakable Journey. On the eve of her 30th birthday, Isabella is abducted in the parking lot of her local grocery store. Hasam, a sinister human trafficker, arranges for her to marry Latif, his longtime friend and a Saudi Arabian prince. Latif has everything—political prowess, success, and wealth—until he meets Isabella.
ABRIDGED 5 hrs and 29 mins

Earlier this week I posted my review of this audio and was pleased when an email out to Rinda Hahn requesting a chat was responded by a “yes. I would love to!”

So – please welcome to Book Journey Rinda Hahn.


Rinda hahn

Good afternoon Rinda!  Being a coffee lover I have to ask, how do you take your coffee?

Rinda:  I hate to say it, but I don’t drink coffee.  I’m trying to like a couple of the Starbucks flavored lattes, but I’m not sure that counts as coffee to a real coffee lover.  My husband loves coffee, and I have been trying to like it since we met.  I just can’t acquire the taste, but I love the smell of coffee in my kitchen.

Well… as long as you are TRYING to like some sort of coffee product…  and you do enjoy the smell so that does count too.  😀  I am always fascinated with the books that people surrounded themselves with when they were young.  Have you been a long time reader?

Rinda: I have loved to read for as long as I can remember.  When my kids were small, there was even a period of time that I had to stop reading completely.  When I start a good book, I am compulsive.  I stay up too late, neglect my responsibilities, and get lost in the world created by the author.  During the demanding stage of being a new mom, I found my compulsion did not lend itself to reading.  Even now, my family loves it when I read, and they hate it too for that reason.

When I was in seventh grade I had an English teacher that assigned three or four short stories written by Stephen King.  I had never been exposed to psychological horror/thrillers, and that was the moment I knew the raw, unyielding power of a written story.  There were moments when I was too afraid to read more, but I was unable to stop.  This isn’t my favorite genre to read, but to this day, I still remember the intense emotions (mostly fear) that he evoked with those stories.

That is awesome!  I had a Stephen King phase too in high school through early 20’s.  What authors and or books inspire you today?  Why?

Rinda:  I like well written Christian fiction, but find a lot of it disappointing.  CS Lewis and Francine Rivers are two authors that inspire me, but I really love any well written book that transports me to another world and introduces me to great characters.  When an author uses their story to teach me a hidden truth, it is even better.

I am a big fan of Francine Rivers!  I really enjoyed her women of the Bible series, and Redeeming Love still has me gushing (and for a reader who avoids any sort of romance style reads this is huge!)  If there was a fictional character in any book that you could bring to life and hang out with – what character would that be and why?

Rinda:  Several years ago I read the Mark of the Lion series by Francine Rivers.  Her main character, Hadassah, endured many heart wrenching situations, but never lost her unrelenting love for her God and those who persecuted her.  To really have a conversation with her would be amazing.

I have to talk about the book.  I can’t wait to talk about the book.  Unspeakable Journey was an amazing book on faith and at the same time, hugely frightening and real feeling.  What made you decide to write this book, this topic?

Rinda:  I had prayed for several months about what story to write.  One morning, I awoke and the storyline for this book played out like a movie for me.  At that moment I knew it was the story that I had to tell.

I loved how you covered some hard issues within the book.  I am not a fan of “book fluff” and you did not hold back.  Isabella’s character is abducted and forced to marry a Muslim prince – even though she is already married in the States.  Not only does she get married, but she is expected to behave as a wife should, and risk becoming pregnant.  In your opinion, what was the hardest part of Unspeakable Journey to write?

Rinda:  For the most part writing Unspeakable Journey was wonderful.  I loved engaging with my characters, and at times, it seemed the story wrote itself.  Probably the hardest part was balancing Latif’s selfish, controlling, yet passionate and kind nature.  I wanted the reader to struggle with how they felt about him.  In life people are complicated, and I wanted that to translate to all my characters in the book.  My readers have the most diverse feelings about him.  Some love him and feel sorry for him, and others see his weaknesses and never like him.  I like it that each reader takes away something different from the story.

It worked Rinda… I was back and forth between horrified and frustrated by him, and then understanding him.  What research did you need to do to make this book come together?

Rinda:  When I started Unspeakable Journey, I knew almost nothing about Saudi Arabia and their culture.  I spent weeks reading through material from the library and on the internet about their customs, their religion, and their social structure.

Rinda, I said it in my review and I will say it here… the ending left me wanting more!  I was so curious as to what would happen next and feel there is plenty of material here to continue this story.  Have you given this any thought?

Rinda:  This is the most asked question I have received about Unspeakable Journey.  I have a couple of ideas I am tossing around that may introduce a character or two from Unspeakable Journey into another completely different story, but I am not planning to write a sequel.  I know that some of my readers are disappointed by that.  I have just had so many readers and book club members discuss with me what they think happens next, and I don’t want to mess with that.  A great story leaves you thinking about what happens, wondering where the characters are now, and how they are doing.  They come alive and live with you for a while, and it is hard to say good-bye at the end.  For people to want a sequel to Unspeakable Journey is a great compliment, but right now, I like the end the way it is, where you have to fill in the blanks.

Oh!  I was afraid you were going to say that…. 🙂  What is currently in the works for you?

Rinda:  I am currently working on a new novel.  It is very different from Unspeakable Journey and is geared more toward young adults.  I don’t think it will be Christian fiction (at least at this point that is the plan).  I do hope that readers of  Unspeakable Journey will still enjoy this new novel.

I have also been very busy promoting Unspeakable Journey and interacting with book clubs that have invited me to attend their discussion of my book.  The book seems to lend itself to engaging book club discussion, and I hear from lots of readers that they are suggesting it to their local book club groups.

This is the family dog: Cuddles. Rinda says, "Can you tell that we have girls? My husband just laughs about all his girls, and when he gets overrun, he escapes to the garage. He has appropriately named it the "man cave". I am glad he has a sense of humor!"

It is a tradition here to ask each author I interview to share a little known fact about themselves.

Rinda:  Like do you want to know that I am clumsy?  I don’t pay attention to where I am going, because my head is usually in the clouds, dreaming, and I run into things and fall down.  My husband and kids laugh at me a lot.  Truthfully, I laugh at myself, cause you know, I have learned not to take myself too seriously!

On a more serious note, I am an artist.  I enjoy drawing and painting, and would love to write and illustrate a children’s book.

Rinda, thank you so much for taking the time to come and chat with me today.  I enjoyed learning more about your book, your writing, and what we can expect next.

Readers:  You can find Rinda Hahn hanging out at her website:

and on her blog:

Oh and do miss her wonderful post called A Salute To Book Bloggers

Unspeakable Journey is available on,,, or nationwide at your local bookstore.  I picked up the audio version on If your bookstore does not have it in stock, they can order it.

Author Chat: Rhonda Hayter (author The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams)

While in New York this past May I had an opportunity to meet and talk with the Class of 2K10 YA Debut Authors.  This was a lot of fun and I met some wonderfully talented women including my guest here today, Rhonda Hayter.  Rhonda and I had a little time to chat one on one and she presented me with a signed copy of her book, The  Witchy Worries of bbie Adams(SQQQQUUUEEEEEEEE)!

Please welcome to Book Journey, the lovely and talented Rhonda Hayter.

Rhonda Hayter

Rhonda, welcome.   I always start by asking, how do you take your coffee?

Rhonda:  By the gallon.

Good to know –  will keep the coffee pot on!  Have you been a long time reader?

Rhonda:  I always talk about this in my school visits just to horrify the children but where I grew up there was no TV.  It was in northernmost Canada in a place called Labrador and at that time, it was too remote to get a TV signal up there.  It was also thirty degrees below zero a lot of the time, so reading was the only game in town. Much of my growing up was spent huddled on a heating grate, buried in books.

Rhonda in her home office where everyone leaves her alone....except their dog, Kitty.

I was a book girl too Rhonda, I Almaty preferred books to tv.   What is one of the first books you remember falling in love with?

Rhonda:  I think it might have been the Pippi Longstocking books.  I ordered them through the book clubs at school and devoured them the day I got them. Pippi was so wild and free, without parental supervision and she could go anywhere and dress however she pleased.  Of course I was happy to have parents and all…but it was really fun to think about.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Rhonda:  I actually always wanted to be an actor.  I started off as one but well..not in what you might call a hugely successful way.  I spent so much of my life yearning for that and riding the ups and downs of it all, that I almost didn’t notice that I wanted to write too…although I always did.  It wasn’t until I finally gave up my acting (or it gave me up)  that I noticed that writing gave me exactly the same kind of seat-of-the-pants/living-in-the-moment thrill that acting did.

I recently finished reading The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams.  Abbie is a delightful character and I enjoyed getting to know her.  Was this the book you thought you would write?

Rhonda:  I never actually thought of writing a whole book before Abbie but it just came pouring out of me. I had a fifth grader in the house at the time, and I was immersed in his life and his voice and his concerns….and that’s just the book that materialized.


Rhonda and her youngest son Ethan ( the inspiration for the character of Munch)

There are a couple of references to Harry Potter in the book.  You mention Abbie has a poster of Hermione on her bedroom wall and later there is a reference to Hogwarts.  I am a big Potter fan.  What is your Harry Potter connections – love the books, love the movies?  Both?

Rhonda:  My older boy Duncan is 16 now, so he was exactly the age to be ready for each book as it came out. It was such an incredible part of his childhood, waiting for the next installment…showing up at midnight at Barnes and Noble on the day it was to be released, watching him be completely consumed by it until he powered through to the end…and then passing it around the family, and reading it aloud to his younger brother…until he was finally ready to read it alone.  And the movies always came out right around Duncan’s birthday in November so that was always momentous too.  (Although I had to take him into the lobby for some of the scary parts of the first movie.  I have such an affection for the whole experience that Harry Potter gave our family, books and movies combined.

I love that connection your family has to the Potter books!  I heard a rumor that Abbie may be showing up in a future book…. hmmmm, is this true?

Rhonda:  Well I can tell you that she’s going to share a very big secret with her best friend Callie…and complications will arise.

Is there a fictional character that you would like to hang out with?

Rhonda:  I like that question!  Let me see. I’ve always been a monster Jane Austen fan, and I’d just love to swish around in long dresses exchanging witty observations with Elizabeth Bennett or the Sense and Sensibility gals.

Rhonda's hang out buddy, Elizabeth Bennett

It was so fun to meet you at BEA this past May.  I enjoyed hearing that you were part of the Class of 2k10 debut authors group.  Can you tell us a little more about this group?

Rhonda:  I LOVE that group.  We’re all published in YA or MG for the first time this year. I always liken it to my pregnancy yoga class— you’re united in fellowship with people at a unique and magical moment in their lives. We network and cross promote and all that, but more importantly, we have become friends and great support for each other. That was one of the things that made BEA such fun, getting to meet everyone in person, after having chatted almost every day over the Internet for months. We were all CRAZY about each other!

I can not let you leave without asking you to share a little known fact about yourself.

Rhonda:  Oh dear, let’s see.  I guess something that’s a little unusual is that I didn’t learn to drive until I was in my late 30s, when I moved out to Los Angeles.  I look at my 16-year old learning now and I realize that what it really takes is a teenager’s blithe unawareness that anything bad can ever happen.  At the time I learned, that ship had long since sailed and I felt exactly as if I was getting into the Electric Chair to be executed every time I strapped myself into the driver’s seat.  I’m better now….but I still ain’t good.

That is a great fact Rhonda!  Thank you so much for stooping in and chatting with me today!

Thanks so much for having me Sheila. This was fun.


Rhonda and I, May 2010, New York

Please stop in and see Rhonda at her website as well as at the  Class of 2k10 website.