Monday, August 27, 2012

Julianne Donaldson Interview (with Mary Nichelson)

Shadow Mountain Publishing recently announced a new brand of romance appropriately called Proper Romance. “I think the pendulum has swung as far as it can in the erotica direction. What was once exciting for readers is getting a little old, and a lot of readers are ready for something different” explains author Julianne Donaldson. “I am not saying that every romance should be like mine, but I am saying that there should be room for a variety, and before now, that was very difficult to find outside of the inspirational category. The fact that Jane Austen continues to be a favorite among both readers and movie-goers gives me hope that readers will embrace this new brand of proper romance.” The first book in Shadow Mountain’s proper romance genre is Donaldson’s new book, Edenbrooke. Although not a faith based novel that includes a spiritual dilemma of sorts,Edenbrooke is perfect for readers who love the Jane Austen experience minus the gratuitous sexual situations or language, and Donaldson delivers without layering the plot with sugarcoated wording or characters. Edenbrooke is a step in the right direction for Proper Romance, and one that Shadow Mountain can be proud to offer readers that are, in fact, “looking for something different.”

MN-What do you think Jane Austen would say about the romance genre today?

JD- I think she would be shocked at what can be written and published in a novel today, considering the innocent nature of her novels. I also think she would surprised that her writing sparked an entire genre of literature. And-this is strictly my own opinion, of course-I imagine she would wish for more elevating love stories and less of a focus on lust in today’s romance novels.

MN- What were your biggest obstacles in writing this story?

JD- The hardest part about writing this story was making it fresh while keeping it believably Regency. It was a very restrictive time to live in, especially for a young lady. I had to consider everything from language to geography to social customs to class distinctions to chaperones. There were many times I dreamed of writing a fantasy instead so I could shape an imagined world around my plot instead of trying to work my plot into the tight box of a Regency world.

MN-What made you interested in writing a romance set in the Regency period?

JD- When I seventeen, I contracted pneumonia and spent a month in bed. A good friend saved me from boredom by giving me a stack of Georgette Heyer novels. I devoured each one, and then read them again and again. I have been in love with the Regency period ever since. I studied British literature in college, watched every movie produced that features the Regency time period, and dreamed of men dressed in breeches. When I decided to try my hand at writing a novel, my mind automatically went to the Regency period and refused to leave. It was like the hometown of my imagination.

MN- If Edenbrooke were made into a movie, who could you see playing Marianne and Philip?

JD- There is a young British actress named Imogen Poots who I can totally see as Marianne. My favorite leading men right now are Jake Gyllenhaal and James McAvoy. I would pay good money to see either of them play dreamy Philip.

MN- Where is your favorite place to write?

JD- Next to a window, preferably some place where no one will interrupt me. You can usually find me in my local library, but I would love to have a quiet writing room at home.

MN- Can you give us a hint concerning what your next story is going to be about?

JD- My next story, which is also set in the Regency period. is about a young lady who dreams of going to India. There is also a grand estate with too many secrets, a smuggler, a gentleman, and a bargain.

Author bio-Julianne Donaldson grew up as the daughter of a U.S. Air Force fighter pilot. She learned how to ski in the Italian Alps, visited East Berlin before the wall came down, and spent three years living next to a 500-year-old castle. After earning a degree in English, she turned her attention to writing about distant times and places. She lives in Utah with her husband and four children. Edenbrooke is her first novel.

You can learn more about author Julianne Donaldson by visiting her website or connecting through Facebook.
Also interviewed in the August issue of The Wordsmith Journal: Donita K. Paul & Evangeline Denmark, Alvetta Rolle, and Cortney Davis.

About Mary Nichelson:

This interview is courtesy of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Cortney Davis Interview (with Mary Nichelson)

“I write to honor my patients and the moments we share, and also to keep harm away—not with medicine but with memory. In my writing, nursing becomes a metaphor for how we care or fail to care for one another—our families, our neighbors, our lovers. For me nursing, like writing, is that human place in which nurturing and mystery meet.” Author Cortney Davis takes her readers on this journey through the course of eleven books; some poetry, others fiction, and then there is her testimony written in booklet format. No matter what her writing style is labeled, she connects with her readers through true to life experiences and a relativity that any reader can associate with.

MN- You wrote your testimony (Is It A Baby, Or Just Some Cells) in 2007 and followed it with To Begin Again, a fictionalized medical novel based on your testimony, in 2010. What prompted you to write the fictionalized version as well?

CD- I wanted to give readers a more detailed picture of how healthcare professionals might deal with the topic of abortion, including giving graphic images of how abortions are performed, and especially relating how difficult it is to be a pro-life caregiver in today’s society.  In the booklet, Is It a Baby or Just Some Cells, I spoke of my own conversion from being a pro-choice nurse practitioner working in women’s health to being a pro-life nurse practitioner—but at some level I felt that my personal story didn’t give enough information.  In To Begin Again, I relate the story not only of Martha, who undergoes a conversion as I did, but also of other characters, some who are staunchly pro-choice.  I wanted to give both sides of the abortion debate, as seen by caregivers, letting readers travel the journey alongside Martha as she experienced her conversion to life. 

MN- Do you think readers—especially those that aren’t attached to a certain church or religious doctrine—will be open to your message in To Begin Again since it is not preachy or overly religious?

CD- Although I am Catholic and, in the book, Martha eventually returns to her Catholic roots, I wanted the book to be applicable to everyone—religious or not.  For me, the question of abortion transcends religion, and I very much wanted to avoid preaching or pushing any particular religion’s point of view. The practice of abortion is one that we must examine personally, humanly, and in the depths of our beings, regardless of what our particular faith allows or forbids.  The study questions at the back of the book are designed to bring everyone into the discussion, no matter their religion or their current belief regarding abortion.  I’m not na├»ve enough to believe that reading To Begin Again will bring everyone to instant conversion—although that did happen to one reader. I’ll be happy if reading the book introduces the subject of abortion to readers in a more personal and realistic way.  I think it’s easier to be pro-choice if you’ve never been in the room watching an abortion, performing an abortion, or speaking in the exam room to a woman whose grief after abortion is overwhelming.  

MN- The main character, Martha, finds that medical personnel that perform abortions aren’t necessarily bad people. In fact, they believe they are offering a much needed service to women. Have you found that ideology prevalent in healthcare facilities that you have worked in?

CD- Indeed.  Most caregivers who perform abortions fall into one of several categories, I’ve found.  The first category believes strongly that abortion is a woman’s right, that it is not ethically wrong, and that they are serving women by doing abortions.  A second category is made up of caregivers who believe that performing abortions is part of their duty as gynecologists and that women do have the right to choose. Although these practitioners do not necessarily like to perform abortions, they will. They often try to help women chose alternatives to abortion, and they do not necessarily believe in abortion on demand. A third group believes that while women have the right to chose, abortion is generally “wrong.”  These folks, like so many others, think that abortion is not for them but may be okay for others.  They more of less take a deep breath and do abortions when required to do so.  Other caregivers might engage in performing abortions initially but ultimately have to stop. Some residents feel obligated to do abortions in training but decide they will not do them in private practice.  Some very brave residents refuse to perform abortions under any circumstances.  

MN- Do healthcare providers become numb to what they are doing? Using terms such as “medical procedure” as opposed to “abortion” has to influence those giving, as well as receiving, abortions.

CD- I think that often providers become numb to what they are doing and, in some cases, this is necessary.  It’s difficult for an oncologist to witness how chemotherapy can sicken a patient, and yet the doctor must order the chemotherapy in order to save lives.  Abortion is a different matter.  Most providers—not all, but most—have to distance themselves from what they are doing and seeing during an abortion.  I think that only the staunchest supporters of abortion can perform one without having some emotional reaction.  I’ve seen medical students and residents find all sorts of ways to convince themselves that “it’s not a baby.”  And I’ve heard nurses tell patients “it’s not a baby; it’s only a tangle of cells,” and I wonder if this is to lessen the patient’s guilt or the nurses discomfort.  I find that pre-abortion counseling is often aimed at giving the least amount of information necessary.  Before any operation, a patient is given—or should be—specific information about what will be done, including full disclosure of risks, side effects and a detailed description of why the operation is needed.  Women who choose abortion are too often given very superficial information—I had many patients who came back post-abortion angry that they were not told the details of fetal development or about all the risks of abortion.  In one job situation, I was actually told not to give a woman any information that might lead her to change her mind about having the abortion!

MN- What is the bigger challenge; persuading women not to end their pregnancy prematurely through abortion, or persuading medical facilities not to offer the procedure in the first place?

CD- The reality is that it will be almost if not totally impossible to stop medical facilities from offering abortions, whether it’s Planned Parenthood, free-standing clinics, hospitals or doctors’ offices—our society is too deeply entrenched in the belief that abortion is a “right” and that we have no business imposing our beliefs on others.  I think that the challenge we might better embrace is to educate women, one by one if necessary, about their bodies, the gift of their fertility, how their cycles reflect their health, how to know when they are fertile and when they are not fertile, how a pregnancy begins and develops, how the woman and the child are uniquely bonded, how abortion harms a woman both emotionally and physically, and how to effectively avoid or achieve pregnancy, and so on.  We need to revision our sex education and begin treating fertility as a wonder and not a disease that needs to be eradicated.  I do this myself by teaching women and couples the Creighton Model of FertilityCare, a well-researched method of avoiding or achieving pregnancy that is based on a woman’s individual cycle and is highly effective.  If only I had know about this method when I worked in traditional OB-GYN!  The key to reaching women and teaching our society about the sanctity of life is not through shouting or, I’m afraid, even through marching.  The key is educating women and men, and that is a slower process than we might like.

MN- Having, expressing and living by moral convictions is tough in a society that demands political correctness. How do we stand by moral convictions when faced with those that believe having a choice should be an option?

CD- I believe that the personal, honest approach is always best.  I can only relate my experience, my conversion, my beliefs and let them be accepted or rejected by another.  I do not believe in force feeding either religion or beliefs—I know from personal experience that conversion occurs as it will, guided by the Holy Spirit, and in God’s good time.  All I can do is sew seeds, gently and kindly, and trust that those seeds might grow.  I remember very casual pro-life remarks that were made to me when I was still wearing a “Keep your hands off my body” button or attaching “Pro-choice” bumper stickers to my car.  At the time, I shrugged those remarks off—but they played around the edges of my mind and did their work.  I now have a “Choose Life” bumper sticker on my car.  Who knows how many idling behind me at a stop light or passing me on the highway will remember those words, and days, weeks or years from now find themselves choosing life?  We change others by our lived examples, much more than through argument.

MN- In addition to penning your testimony and medical fiction, you’ve written poetry. What comes most natural for you to write?

CD- I think that for many years poetry came more naturally to me, not that poems don’t require much revision and work.  But the impetus of my writing more often took poetic form.  I find now that prose comes to me a bit more easily, and yet my prose is often leaning toward the poetic.  Now I find that one genre influences the other, and I can happily go back and forth between the two.  Although I do find that if I’m working on a poetry collection, I don’t write any prose during those weeks, and vice versa.

MN- Your single most important passion in life would be......

CD- Just one?!  I have many important passions, among them my family, my writing, my work with women.  But the most important?  I think that for me the most important passion is, as I age, to continue to discover who I am, what I am called to do, how I am called to serve, how I can rightly praise, and how I can become holy within the confines of my earthly life.

You can learn more about author Cortney Davis by visiting her website. To order any one of Davis’ books, visit the following links:
To Begin Again   
Conversion / Return (poems)
The Heart's Truth: Essays on the Art of Nursing
Between the Heartbeats: Poetry and Prose by Nurses
Intensive Care: More Poetry and Prose by Nurses 

Note: As you research the work of Cortney Davis, please verify the spelling of Cortney as there is an Irish author by the same name but spelled as Courtney.

For more about Mary Nichelson:

This interview is courtesy of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Alvetta Rolle Interview (with Mary Nichelson)

Author Alvetta Rolle is not afraid to tackle tough social issues as they relate to women. She effortlessly confronts controversial themes such as infidelity and prostitution in her new novel The Mercy Seat.  She is a harmonious author, in touch with the psyche of women and the challenges they face, and knows how to articulate those emotions in an entertaining format.  Although Rolle’s first book, it is also the first in her Freedom Baptist Trilogy that will allow the reader to stay in touch with their beloved characters in every book; the very characters that became the focal point of our recent interview.

MN- The Mercy Seat is set in Las Vegas. It brings to mind the saying "What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas", but there is also a lot of symbolism there. Did you have a specific reason for using this particular city for your setting?

AR- I used Las Vegas, because we know it as Sin City.  Whenever, someone hears of Las Vegas, they think of someone living in debauchery, and doing something that is far beyond redemption.  This symbolized how Sofia felt about herself and her relationship with Julia, and it is also how Xavier and Felecia felt about their marriage. I used this to show that no matter who you are, you are never "too far gone."

MN- Sofia, the main character, gets caught in several social predicaments that are personal to women that I would like to address. The first being prostitution. Women of faith can be very critical when it comes to women of the night, but I have found that they end up doing so not by choice but rather they are pushed into it by necessity. Did your research for the book lead you to the same conclusion?

AR- It did.  I have found that most women are cautious.  I think one of the misconceptions about prostitutes is that they perform this act because they  enjoy sex and the act of being promiscuous. So, although a woman of faith would not want to be cautious she feels because of a man (particularly her man) may now be a target for this woman-she has to be. This caution will lead a woman to thinks she is protecting her marriage and her family. However, the truth of the matter is that these women usually, like Sofia, are recovering from scars from their pasts and/or are forced into this situation and are not promiscuous at all.

MN- Another area women are slow to talk about is in regards to emotional affairs, yet research shows they are as common as the physical affairs that men are tempted to engage in. Do you think women understand what an emotional affair is and more important, how to avoid having one?

AR- That is interesting, because some people say that as long as they have not physically engaged in the act, then they are not cheating. This would mean that people don't even define emotional affairs, as affairs. Felecia didn't think she was doing anything wrong by having dinner with Latimore. And in the beginning it wasn't a problem until she started having problems in her own marriage. I think that women do understand what an emotional affair is, but they don't understand the severity of it. For instance, because of our nurturing nature we may not think its a problem for that male coworker to offer us advice on our relationship, or meet him for an meal. Thus we really don't know how to avoid one because we think there is no harm in doing this. And there is no harm in it as long as we are whole. In order to avoid emotional affairs, however, we must not reach out and engage in this type of conduct when we are going through a struggle, or through a transition in life because 99% of the time it will lead to emotional infidelity.

MN- What can a woman do today to stop the progression of a troubled marriage she may find herself a part of?

AR- I know that this is something that is said a lot, but communicate.  I will go even further to say to limit the communication between you and your spouse, and if need be some type of spiritual counsel. I think the problem that most marriages have is that they communicate their issues to their family and their friends,and then finally bring that advice along with their own notions to the table when they are going to talk to their spouse. This means that the communication is not even pure anymore, because its been watered down with the thoughts of outside parties. So to stop a mole hill from growing into a mountain, address it as quickly as possible and limit the access you give others to your marriage.

MN- Every woman needs to have a Ruth Stills in her life. Have you ever had a mentor like Ruth helping you along your faith journey?

AR- Wow! The character of Ruth Linda Stills, was created in honor of the first spiritual mother I ever had, the late Evangelist Linda Ruth McNeill. She was the embodiment of what Ruth stood for. She knew how to love me and chastise me in one sentence, she introduced me to God's love. Today God has blessed me with many strong women in the faith who love, nurture and counsel me.

MN- Why do you believe the message of forgiveness and redemption is crucial for women to hear?

AR- I believe that this message is crucial for women, because many of us struggle to be whole, and self accepting. This aspect makes it hard for us to believe that there is a God who can redeem, forgive, and love us regardless of our past, and even regardless of our present state. When women, and even men can embrace this and even extend this to others, I truly believe that they can step into another realm of freedom. .

MN- The Mercy Seat does have a happy ending. Do you believe with God, no matter where a woman finds herself today, there will always be a happy ending?

AR- Of course! According to Romans 8:28, which states "All things work together for the good of those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose, and Jeremiah 29:11 states that God's plans for us is to give us an expected hope, and a future. This means that the ultimate and final plan for our lives as long as God is in charge can only end in happiness and fulfillment.

MN- Are there any more writing projects in the near future for your readers to be watching for?

AR- Yes! The Mercy Seat is the first book in the Freedom Baptist Trilogy.  It will be followed by Potiphar's Wife which will be released next year, and then finally Go Tell Pharaoh.  You will see all of the character's making appearances in each work, with insight on their individual lives.  For instance, Potiphar's Wife gives more insight into the life of Trent Watkins, Sofia's emerging love interest.

Author bio- Alvetta Y. Rolle is a poet, author, and above all else a child of God. Born in Dunn, North Carolina, she graduated cum laude from Kaplan University with a Bachelor's of Science in Organizational Communications in 2010. She has been happily married for seven and half years to her husband, Elrod and has four beautiful children ranging in ages from twelve to two. Alvetta currently resides in North Carolina. In her spare time she likes to volunteer with local organizations and persons in needs, as well as working on sequels to her debut novel, The Mercy Seat.

You can order your copy of The Mercy Seat through Ellechor Publishing or Christian Book. Com
Also featured in The Wordsmith Journal, interviews with Cortney Davis, Julianne Donaldson, and Donita K. Paul & Evangeline Denmark.

About Mary Nichelson:

This interview is courtesy of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Donita K. Paul & Evangeline Denmark Interview (with Mary Nichelson)

Recently, author Donita K Paul spoke candidly with me regarding her new book, Taming the Wild Wind. This month, I wanted to introduce another project Paul has successfully completed with her daughter, Evangeline Denmark.  The Dragon and the Turtle was a collaboration between family members written for the strengthening of Christian families everywhere. With the help of animated and memorable characters, central truths regarding friendship emerge to teach your children that adventure can be found even when some things are lost. As if a tempting storyline isn’t motivation enough, Paul and Denmark seal the deal with a recipe for Chocolate Chip Snappers, something no child can resist.

MN-Collaborating with a family member on this book made the process-
ED-More pajama friendly! You don’t have to dress professionally for the woman who changed your diapers.
DP-More fun and it wasn’t just one family member. We have two boys who contributed advice and enthusiasm.

MN-We decided to write a children's book because-
ED-Roger got lost! No, really. We had a character who had a problem. The obvious solution was to give him a story and another character, a friendly dragon, to help him solve his problem.
DP-I’ve always wanted to write a picture book. I made them when I was in elementary school. I took an excellent correspondence course from Institute for Children’s Literature as a young mom. I think picture books are special and am designing a blog called “Anatomy of a Picture Book.”

MN-I believe readers will love Roger because he-
ED-has the heart of an adventurer. Turtles are often portrayed in children’s literature as cautious and fearful because of their ability to withdraw into their shells. No, no, no. Turtles are nature’s tanks, and tanks are meant for rough and tumble, off-road activities.
DP-His imagination is vivid, and he throws himself into his make-believe. In the first book, he plays being a pirate to the hilt. In the second, he and Padraig even talk like British explorers.

Readers will enjoy identifying with a small red dragon with a big heart. Padraig knows friendship includes putting aside his own wants. The dragon is hungry, and he interrupts his scavenging for buggy snacks in order to help his new friend. Friends help us try new things like strawberries.

MN-Proverbs 17:17 represents our story perfectly because-
ED-Hard times are the true test of friendship. Even though they’ve just met, Padraig sticks with Roger like a brother. He refuses to give up on helping his friend even when the task of finding Roger’s home becomes increasingly difficult.
DP-It’s easy to be a friend when your friend has a party, and there are cookies and games. It is harder to be a friend when an onerous task, like packing and moving, is the activity for the day. A good friend helps in both circumstances.

MN-After reading The Dragon and the Turtle, we would like the dialogue between parents and children to be-
ED-focused on the friendship-building skills even young children can learn. How to talk to a new friend. How to ask them questions and share your own likes and dislikes. How to take those first baby steps into a “Putting Others First” mentality.
DP-spontaneous and guided. The parent should zero in on what interests the child, but also, take advantage of the teachable moment. No matter what the child latches onto in the story, there is always something to say about patience, kindness, perseverance, and relationships.

MN-The best part of Chocolate Chip Snappers is-
ED-not telling people about the ginger flavor and watching them try to figure out what that extra “snap” is.
DP-making them together. We are about to have a new contest at (where) parent and child will submit a dump cake recipe that they make up. The prize will be a safari hat.

Author bio: Donita K. Paul retired early from teaching school, but soon got bored! The result: a determination to start a new career. Now she is an award-winning novelist writing Christian Romance and Fantasy. She says, “I feel blessed to be doing what I like best.”

She mentors all ages, teaching teenagers and weekly adult writing workshops.

“God must have imprinted 'teacher' on me clear down to the bone. I taught in public school, then home schooled my children, and worked in private schools. Now my writing week isn’t very productive unless I include some time with kids.”

Her two grown children make her proud, and her two grandsons make her laugh.

Author bio-Evangeline Denmark is a children’s book author, novelist, blogger, and pajama enthusiast. She co-wrote The Dragon and the Turtle (Waterbrook Press, 2010) and The Dragon and the Turtle Go on Safari with her mom, CBA best-selling author Donita K. Paul.

Evangeline’s Blog, Breathe In Breathe Out, is filled with sympathetic humor for women who don’t have time to breathe in and breathe out. If you’re breathless and overwhelmed, this is the place for you!

Although she spends most of her time in PJs, Evangeline doesn’t have a single picture of her pink paisleys, electric blue jaguar print, stripes, solids, butterflies, moons and stars, or XOX tic-tac-toes. That’s probably for the best.

You can learn more about the authors of
The Dragon and the Turtle by visiting,
and their blog at

About Mary Nichelson: 

Other interviews features in the August issue of The Wordsmith Journal: Alvetta Rolle, Courtney Davis And Julianne Donaldson

This interview is courtesy of The Wordsmith Journal Magazine.