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Month: July 2018

Interview with Author Sara Foust and a New Release Giveaway!

Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I’m so happy to have as a returning guest author Sara Foust. For me, writing is something I have to do when I’m completely alone and everything around me is quiet. After working this summer with my kids home, my respect for homeschooling moms who also write went up a thousandfold. Sara is amazing — homeschooling, farming, fostering — and she writes one of my favorite genres, romantic suspense. Today we’re celebrating her latest release with her — and she’s giving away either paperback or ebook (reader’s choice) CAMP HOPE! Read on to see how you can win!

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I am a homeschooling mom of five. We live on a mini-farm in East Tennessee with sheep, rabbits, chickens, ducks, pigs, a pygmy goat, dogs, cats, and hermit crabs. We have two special needs children and spend a lot of time in therapy and on home therapies, but I love writing and make time for it in my “spare time” (ha!). I also recently started a freelance proofreading and editing business. We are very involved with church and 4H too.

Tell us about your current release:

AMY DAWSON directs a summer camp for foster children near Briceville, Tennessee. A foster mom for the first time, her responsibilities as mother to a traumatized child bring a whole new set of challenges and joys.

But when Amy’s four-year-old foster daughter is dragged into the mountains of Royal Blue by a former employee, parenting challenges are overshadowed by a new nightmare. The Sheriff’s department fails to procure viable leads, and Amy can’t sit idle. Her childhood friend and first love, JACK EVANS, returns to lend his skills as tracker. Problem is, he also stirs up romantic memories Amy would rather leave buried.

Jack struggles to let go of his past failures and prove his reliability by bringing Mattie home, but fears when he left camp nineteen years ago and failed to keep a promise to Amy he permanently lost her confidence.

As Amy plunges into the wilderness on horseback to search for Mattie, she must decide who she trusts, let go of her childhood traumas, and learn to rely on hope in God. Facing dehydration, starvation, and a convoluted kidnapper, will she succeed in recovering her precious foster daughter or get lost in the vast wilderness forever?

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, wyould you still write it? Absolutely. In fact, a friend of mine told me as she was reading my first book, Callum’s Compass, that it helped her see an area where she was struggling and turn it over to the Lord. Her telling me that was everything I needed to know that my book had made an impact. And, when I write, the stories help me. God knows what I need and often shows me ways to heal and areas to improve through my own books.

Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? I do. There is a lot of pressure, from many, many sources to conform or “improve” your writing. To limit the amount of prayer included or the amount of scripture reference. To limit the “preachiness” of your books. While I never want to write subpar stories, I do want to write what God gives me. I had just such an instance with my third book (coming March 2019) where there is a very touchy, hot-button issue I felt led to write about. I almost let myself become convinced to write the story differently so I wouldn’t offend anyone. But my cousin reminded me that my writing is a ministry and if I feel strongly that God is leading me, it is better to listen to Him than to man.

Who was your first screen/musical crush? I grew up in the 80s, so (embarrassingly enough) New Kids on the Block. I had a huge poster on my wall!

Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? I loved Nancy Drew. I had a goal to read every book. I didn’t make it, but I did read a lot of them. As an adult I collected many of the original version (you know, the textured yellow covered ones) and hoped my children would fall in love with them like I did. So far, none of them have. I also loved Roald Dahl, especially James and the Giant Peach.

What is one thing that you “never saw yourself doing” and either do it now or have done? God seems to have a fun sense of humor in my life. It seems like everything I’ve ever said “never” to, God has giggled and said, “Oh yeah? Watch this.” I didn’t ever think I would have sheep and pigs, homeschool my children, be a foster parent, or go on a mission trip out of the country. I have both, do this, did this, or just returned from a trip to the Philippines. I don’t say “never” anymore.

How old were you when you wrote your first book? I completed my first novel in 2016. I was 34. I wrote a lot of beginnings to novels as I was growing up, though. I knew in second grade that I wanted to write a real, long novel. But it seemed like such an undertaking, such a massive task that I never had the courage to pursue it for real until I lost my job as a medical transcriptionist and began praying about what came next.

Find Sara online:

Sara is giving away a copy of her latest release! Enter here:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Find Sara’s latest release online:

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Autism – Friends

I look back on our son Scott’s childhood and see where I made an assumption about autism that a lot of people mistakenly make.

Throughout his toddler years and young childhood, Scott never sought out other children. In social situations, he would find a quiet corner away from a crowd of kids and would play on his own. Until third grade, he couldn’t even differentiate between “he” and “she” among the crowd, and never knew anyone’s name. It was easy to generate an assumption that he didn’t want to cultivate friendships, that he didn’t care. In fact, those are the words I used, “He doesn’t care about other kids or having friends.”

Over the course of the last couple of years, I’ve realized how wrong I was. Right after we moved to Fort Knox, another family moved in with three children all around the ages as Scott and his brother Jeb. Scott connected with them in a way we’d never seen nor expected, and soon developed close friendships with them. They accepted him without reservation, let him set the tone for their interactions, and still sought him out to play or hang out. This was the first time in his life that he had friends like that. He’s had a school friend before, another child with autism, but their interactions were separate but together — coming together for play dates where they each went into their own corners to play. Not a lot of one-on-one interaction, just an understanding of acceptance. With these friends, though, it was true, full-blown, sharing thoughts and ideas and fears and imaginations. He completely blossomed and bloomed under their friendship and learned so much about interacting outside of the circle of just him and Jeb.

They moved right after school got out and he admitted not long after that he was lonely, and that he wished he had another friend.

Recently, he wanted to go to the mall to go to a store called Hot Topic. For those of you who don’t have children of a certain age who might not know, Hot Topic is the “cool” store – especially for us nerdy centric families. It has fun paraphernalia from all sorts of pop culture and music. He’d researched this store, what they carried, and the item that he wanted to purchase that was a “Hot Topic Exclusive”. He saved his money until he had enough, then we made our way to the mall one day in early summer.

Scott has serious sensory issues, and one that affects him in the extreme is hearing. He often wears noise-canceling headphones in loud areas. My husband and I have a pair in each of our vehicles, and Scott carries a pair in his backpack at school. We walked into the mall this day, and I held the headphones out to him, knowing how loud they play the music in Hot Topic.

“No,” he said, holding a hand up to ward me off, “I don’t need them.”

“Really?” I didn’t fight. It’s his decision whether he wears them or not. I just put them in my purse so that they’d be there in case he needed them.

“Really. Besides, I want the people at Hot Topic to think I fit in.”

That took my breath away. All of this assumption that he doesn’t care, that social situations are meaningless to him completely flew out the window.

He cares. He knows he doesn’t fit in. He didn’t say he wanted to fit in. He said he wanted them to think he fits in.

The problem is not a lack of desire. The problem is a different functioning brain that takes all of the social cues and nuances and skews them so that they’re not understood the way that you or I or anyone else with a normal neurotypical brain can read, understand, and respond to properly. It’s just easier for him to go into his own corner to play than having to deal with trying to read all of those signs and signals.

We’ve noticed, though, that as he gets older, he is learning how to seek out connections with people. If he sees a child his age with a T-shirt on with a recognized and loved character from a video game or movie, he’ll go out of his way to talk to that child. In waiting rooms, if someone is playing a game he recognizes, he’ll engage that kid in conversation about the game.

There was a time when I didn’t expect him to really have a close relationship with anyone other than Jeb. Now I know how terribly wrong I was. He just turned 12 and starts middle school in 3 weeks. I know that there’s someone else walking into that school that likes the same things, understands the subculture Scott loves the same way he does, and will be his friend. Whether he can filter through the noise and lights and activity around him enough to see that person remains to be seen.

halleeLOGOspinefinal

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The Beauty of the Brown Eyed Susan

This is a Brown-Eyed Susan. This is one of my favorite flowers. It is so simple in its beauty but looks strong and certain. The shape of the flower makes me think that it’s lifting its head and charging forward on a mission, embracing whatever the world is going to throw at it.

As I was walking with my dogs the other morning, I noticed they were blooming. I stopped to take a picture of them because I wanted to share with you my favorite flower. Then I came around a corner and saw another batch of them and something else occurred to me.

This is a simple flower. Golden-rod petals surrounding a brown center. It should be boring. It should be nothing special. But look at this picture. What do you see? Among a field of wildflowers, delicate white Irish lace, Purple Phacelia, White Violets, and other beautiful greenery, what stands out the most with its bold and bright colors, with its face lifted to the sky?

To me, the Brown-Eyed Susan shines from this little patch of beauty.

We all have been given something very special by God, something that He has endowed upon us to use to serve Him, to serve our neighbor, to take care of those who are in need, to encourage others, to teach others — something given to us to use as God needs it used.

Oftentimes, we feel unimportant, plain, boring, less than that person or this person. Not as beautiful, not as delicate, not as smart, not as graceful. Our brains get flooded with less than thoughts that bring us down and make us afraid to use this gift from God because we’re afraid we’re not good enough.

Let me tell you something – that’s a lie straight from the master deceiver who tricked Eve with the words, “Did God really say…?”

Every single one of us called by God have EXACTLY what we need to succeed for HIS  purposes. I know that I am tone def and cannot sing, read music, or play an instrument. That doesn’t mean that I feel less than capable of serving God than my talented musician friends. It simply means that He didn’t give me the gift of song! If I compare myself to them, of course I fall short. Their ministries are not my ministries, and mine are not theirs.

I don’t care if you’re a delicate flower with petals that look like intricate lace, or if you’re sturdy and strong with golden petals around a brown center – lift your face to God, embrace the gifts He’s given you, and use them to His glory. That’s all He wants from you, and that’s what your soul needs you to do.

Do it, and you’ll learn that you are worthy, you are beautiful, you are important, you are interesting, you are a piece of the intricate perfection that is God’s church, and you are on a mission that He KNOWS you can accomplish, because He’s the one who has prepared you.

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