Let’s Chat! Crystal Joy

Welcome, Readers!

Crystal JoyI‘m very happy to re-introduce you to author Crystal Joy, who labels her contemporary sweet romances as deep-rooted romance.

Crystal is guest blogging this week about her new release, Shackled Heart

**Crystal is offering an ebook copy of Shackled Heart to someone who comments below!**

**Congratulations to Susan Snodgrass & Ann Ellison, winners of Shackled Heart drawing!**

Take It Away, Author Crystal Joy!

I’m so excited to talk about my latest release, Shackled Heart! It’s a contemporary romance novel that took me seven years to write and publish. Sharing this novel with readers is a dream come true! (Click to Tweet!)

Crystal Joy’s “What Ifs…” That Birthed Shackled Heart 

Charlie Grimm was in my head for a long time before I wrote the first draft of Shackled Heart. At first, I wanted him to be a man who had to go back to his small Iowa town, but didn’t want to. I wondered, what would make him not want to go home? Here was my thought process: Maybe he’s haunted by the past mistakes he made when he’d last lived in Maple Valley. What if he committed a crime there? If he committed a crime, then he would’ve gone to prison. If he went to prison, what kind of crime did he commit

Shackled Heart and Author Crystal Joy

The novel begins when Charlie is still in prison, waiting for his parole meeting. It took a lot of initial research to develop Charlie’s perspective. I’ve always been a rule-follower, or in other words a goody-too-shoes. I couldn’t imagine what it would be like to commit a crime and live in prison for several years. (Click to Tweet!)

Shackled Heart Gets Personal for Crystal Joy

hen life intervened. After I wrote the second draft, someone I love went to prison. Suddenly, I had a close-hand look at what a person goes through while incarcerated. As a result, I put Shackled Heart away for a while. I couldn’t separate my life from Charlie’s story and it hurt too much to write the book. (Click to Tweet!)

Eventually, as the shock and pain lessened, Charlie’s story still tugged at my heart, and I knew it was a book I wanted to publish. (Click to Tweet!)

The Story Takes Shape

Enter Mackenna Christensen (nicknamed Mac). She’s the heroine of the novel and Charlie’s parole officer. Thankfully, the research for her character was much easier because my dad was a parole officer. I could call him at any time and ask him questions. Fun story—I was talking to him on the phone and asking him a question about parole when I went into labor with my son. I’ll never forget that moment!

Even though the research was easier, Mac’s character was initially hard for me to relate to. She grew up with two alcoholic parents who didn’t love her. Her idea of love is very jaded and she believes love can’t possibly exist; otherwise, why wouldn’t her parents love her? In her mind, to believe in love would mean that she is unlovable. (Click to Tweet!)

Author Crystal Joy’s Journey to Understanding Her Characters

Mac is very different from me, but when the person I love went to prison, I grew to understand her character arc—experiencing her anger, compassion, and love for Charlie (not that she views it as love, at first). Once I understood both characters, I wrote two more drafts and went through multiple revisions and edits.

Like I said earlier, sharing Shackled Heart with readers is a dream come true. Charlie and Mac’s story is very dear to my heart because of the personal experiences I’ve had over the last few years. This may sound odd, but writing those initial drafts truly prepared me for real-world experiences. (Click to Tweet!)

From the very beginning, Charlie’s story was meant to be about loving someone despite their past mistakes. I hope that readers can see and feel this as they read the novel. All too often, society quickly labels someone once they’ve made mistakes. They are a prisoner, criminal, liar, thief, murderer, or a “bad guy.” But they are so much more. They are a person, they are human, and just because mistakes landed them in prison doesn’t mean they are unworthy of our love and compassion.

I hope Charlie and Mac’s story shows the stilting power of guilt, the necessity of forgiveness, and the beauty of falling in love. (Click to Tweet!)

A Synopsis of Shackled Heart

 After losing his wife in a horrific car accident, Charlie Grimm believes that he deserves to pay for the life he stole. Haunted by his irreversible mistakes, Charlie vows he’ll never fall in love again, and who could see past his criminal conviction anyway?

MacKenna Christensen strives to support all of her parolees. But when she discovers Charlie is her client, she refuses to help him. She can never erase the gruesome images of his wife’s death. Yet when she sees Charlie’s anguish, she realizes he’s not the reckless monster she imagined.

As the disdain between Charlie and Mac turns to desire, guilt tears them apart. Is Mac willing to take a chance on a client at the risk of losing her job? Can Charlie forgive himself and open his heart to Mac, or will she become one more regret?

About Author Crystal Joy

Crystal Joy lives in Iowa with her family. She has two young children, who love playing with dolls, building blocks, and riding bikes. When she has a free moment with her husband, they love to dance awkwardly, watch reality TV, and visit real locations from their favorite books.

You can learn more about Crystal Joy at her website www.crystaljoybooks.com. If you want to sign up for her newsletter, “From My Heart to Yours,” you’ll receive exclusive giveaways, opportunities to enter contests, and noteworthy news. Click on this link to sign up: http://eepurl.com/cHgfZ9

You can also connect with her at:





~ ~ ~

Lord, how marvelous are Your ways in all of Earth. You promise to straighten our crooked paths and remove the rocks along our way. Crystal Joy serves as a beautiful example of a young woman who has held to Your promises. We pray You will expand her territory and bless every single word she writes for You. 









8 thoughts on “Let’s Chat! Crystal Joy

  1. Ann Ellison

    A new to me author and her book sounds like a good one.

    1. Yes! Her personal connection to the “shackled” concept makes it very special. Thanks for stopping by, Ann. 🙂

    2. Thanks, Ann! I hope you enjoy reading my books!

  2. Susan Snodgrass

    Sounds good!

    1. Yes! Thanks for joining us, Susan!

    2. Thanks, Susan! I hope you enjoy reading Shackled Heart!

  3. Crystal, may I live with you? You are so lovely, inside and out. I just want to be around you 😊 Maybe some of you will rub off on me—like angel dust. Can’t wait to read Shackled Heart!

    1. Yes, of course, Linda! Please join me in Iowa. Thank you for your kind words. I’m excited for you to read Shackled Heart! Thank you again for hosting me on your amazing website.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join Our Author Chat with Dawn Kinzer

Welcome, Readers!

dawnkinzerheadshotYou’re in for a treat today. Dawn Kinzer, freelance editor and author of Sarah’s Smile and soon-to-be-released Hope’s Design, is part of a group of writers who publish the lovely blog for Christian writers, Seriously Write.

Dawn Kinzer writes fiction because she believes in the power of story to comfort, challenge, and inspire. (Tweet That!) Her work has been published in the Christian Fiction Online Magazine, Backyard Friends, The One Year Life Verse Devotional, A Joyful Heart: Experiencing the Light of His Love, and has been featured on the radio ministry, The Heartbeat of the Home. A mother and grandmother, Dawn lives with her husband in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Favorite things include dark chocolate, cinnamon, popcorn, strong coffee, good wine, the mountains, family time, and Masterpiece Theatre. Readers can find her at www.dawnkinzer.com.

*** NOTE: Everyone who joined our chat with a comment or question below was eligible for a give-away of Dawn’s beautiful historical romance, Sarah’s Smile. Drum roll, please!

*** Dum-da-da-dum!

The winner of the drawing for Sarah’s Smile is Tanya Hanson.

PS. We’ll be chatting with another great author tomorrow after 12 noon. Join the chat, and you’re entered to win.

See ya’.

~ ~ ~

Dawn Kinzer’s Beginnings

img_5024It only took three words for me to fall in love with the written word. See Spot run.

You may be old enough to remember the Dick and Jane books from first grade. Somehow I knew even at six years old that learning to read would open up another world for me. (Tweet That!)


I grew up in a small rural town in Wisconsin called Prairie Farm—and significantitemsinsarah%27ssmile I mean small. The population was and remains around five hundred people. I’m third generation—my parents and both sets of grandparents grew up there and lived in town or on farms.

High School and Beyond

Although Prairie Farm was a great place to experience childhood, by the time I graduated from high school, I couldn’t wait to leave for college. I majored in biology and minored in chemistry and graduated with a BS. Although I loved literature and writing and did well in those college courses, I didn’t believe I had enough talent to be a writer.

An Unexpected Development

books-1031699_1280But while co-leading a church drama group, a friend and I were challenged to write a full-length play. We ended up writing three. I realized that writing filled a creative need like nothing else. (Tweet That!) I devoted years to studying my craft, blogging, attending writers conferences, networking with others in the industry, creating a platform, and learning all I could about publishing. Although my requested manuscripts garnered some interest from agents and publishers, they never made it all the way to a contract offer.

Changes of Direction

direction-sign_directory-1161965_1280In the meantime, I grew weary of working for companies who valued profits over  customers or employees. Along the way, I realized that I had a knack for editing—and I enjoyed it. So, I spent a year learning important business practices, taking classes on editing and honing my skills, and gleaning what other freelance editors had experienced before leaving the corporate world seven years ago and launching my own business, Faithfully Write Editing.

How did Dawn Kinzer get here?

sarah%27ssmilecoverThere was a time when I thought I would never self-publish. You know the saying. Never say never. Yes, I’ve gone down the indie path. Sarah’s Smile, the first book in The Daughters of Riverton series, was released in October, and Book 2 in the series, Hope’s Design, releases November 11.

A respected agent lost my first manuscript and asked me to send it again—twice—over the course of a year. Then she dropped communication which discouraged me. I’m a “doer,” and I’m also kind of a control freak, so the thought of leaving my publication hopes in the hands of other people felt unsettling. At the same time, indie publishing was becoming a reputable avenue.

dawnandsonnySo, three years ago, my husband and I discussed self-publishing. What would that look like? What would it take to become an indie author? I was already freelance editing, so I had experience in running a small business. But to pay people to edit, proofread, and design covers? Spend money with no guarantee that we’d break even?

Then I knew without a doubt it was the path I was to take after my husband and I prayed about the decision and he felt complete peace about moving forward. At first I was shocked. He’s always so careful about budgets and making sure money is well-spent. But his confidence gave me what I needed to jump in. We agreed we had to view indie-publishing as something more than possible income—we had to embrace it as a ministry—a calling.

Debut Novel – Sarah’s Smile

dawnkinzer-novelarrivesWould you believe my hometown and the people who lived there in 1902 inspired the setting and some of the characters in Sarah’s Smile?

When you open the pages to Sarah’s Smile, you’ll find romance, heartbreak, secrets, scandal, and second chances.

Our heroine, Sarah McCall, is waiting to leave for the mission field when the man she once loved steps back into her life. Abandoned as a child by her mother and gambler father, she strives to overcome a tarnished history she didn’t create and a heartbreak she can’t forget.

church-pews-1190461_1280Peter Caswell returns to his Wisconsin hometown a pastor, dedicated to his four-year-old daughter and new congregation. But no matter how hard he tries to move on with his life, he can’t forgive himself for his wife’s death.

When Sarah learns that Peter is returning to Riverton, the letter giving her departure date for Africa can’t come soon enough for her. They were best friends—she loved him and supported his dreams—but he married another and broke her heart. Although ten years have passed since he left Riverton, Peter hopes Sarah still cares enough to give him a second chance. But a charming newcomer pursues her affections—and Sarah’s childhood nemesis manipulates her way into Peter’s life.

And of course the question is . . . will Sarah and Peter find their way to forgiveness and each other, or will past mistakes make a life together impossible?
cross-sun-background_god-1772560_1280I started out writing a romance about a young woman who couldn’t wait to leave her small town and make a difference in the world. But I ended writing a story about forgiveness—the grace to forgive, the willingness to accept forgiveness from others, and the ability to forgive ourselves. 

Advice for Writers From Dawn Kinzer

Some may choose traditional publishing. Some may choose indie-publishing. Others may want to live in both worlds as a hybrid. Regardless, there are decisions to make in terms of platform, marketing, website formats, blogs, social media, etc. etc. etc. So, whatever you choose . . . do what feels right for you.

Just as important . . . don’t forget to enjoy the journey. The friendships I’ve made with other writers have been and continue to be priceless.

~ ~ ~

Thank you for stopping by to chat, Dawn. Your journey, complete with unexpected curves and uncertainties, encourages us to keep pressing on.

Readers, here’s where you can find Dawn Kinzer and her books:

Author Website
Amazon Author Page
Blog: Inspiration/Book Reviews
Seriously Write: Blog for Christian Writers

Books: http://amzn.to/2fcFehw
Email: dawn@dawnkinzer.com

~ ~ ~

Lord, how marvelous are Your ways. They are beyond our understanding. We thank and praise You for never turning Your back on us and for molding our paths for Your purposes. Bless Dawn’s efforts for You. Thank you for Your faithfulness through all the seasons of our lives. ~ For Jesus’ sake


22 thoughts on “Join Our Author Chat with Dawn Kinzer

  1. A great article about your writing career, Dawn! I’m so excited about your books! God bless you, dear writing friend!

    1. Thanks, Melinda! You’re an inspiration to me! 😀

  2. Susan Hursh

    Well just wet (sp) my appetite Dawn! I’m looking forward to reading “Sarah Smiles”. Thank you Linda for sending this email. I love you sweet sister-in-law.

    1. Great to see you joined the chat, Susan. You’re entered, girl!

    2. Dawn Kinzer

      Nice to meet you, Susan! I hope you enjoy Sarah’s story. 😀

  3. Hi Dawn, what wonderful backstory to your personal story! I so enjoyed learning more about your writing journey and this lovely book. May God bless you… and Sarah and Hope! xo

    1. Thanks for joining the chat, Tanya. You’re entered!

    2. Dawn Kinzer

      Hi, Tanya! I’m so glad you enjoyed the article. Linda asked some questions and then cut me lose to respond. Thanks for the blessings! 😀

  4. Teresa Brooks

    Dawn ~ Thank you for sharing the back story of your writing. I am amazed at their perseverance and dedication it takes to get the words in your heart printed for the enjoyment and edification of those who read them! Well done!

    1. Thank you for joining our chat, Teresa. You’re entered 😊

    2. Thanks for your encouragement, Teresa! Yes, I don’t think most people understand what’s involved in getting a book written and published. But that’s okay! I don’t understand all that a mechanic does, but I sure appreciate having a car that runs well. 😉

  5. Pat Davis

    Thank you, Dawn, for sharing your background and your journey to publication and also for the advice you give to other writers seeking publication. I love your covers. May God bless your ministry.

    1. Thanks for joining the chat, Pat. You’re entered in the drawing 🙂

    2. Pat, I appreciate you taking the time to read the interview and comment. Thanks for the compliment on the cover – and for the blessing!

  6. robin Neill

    Great interview, I feel like I know Dawn now. Cant wait to read Sarah’s Smile.

    1. Thanks for joining the chat, Robin! You’re entered into the drawing 🙂

    2. Robin, thanks for spending a little time in my world. I hope you enjoy Sarah’s story!

  7. So happy for Dawn! Love learning about the story behind the story. The cover is just beautiful and I know the content is, too! Thanks, Linda:)

    1. It’s my honor to honor Dawn, Laura.

    2. Dawn Kinzer

      Thank you, Laura! I love the cover, and sometimes I can hardly believe it’s mine. My designer blessed me big time!

  8. Dawn Kinzer

    Linda, thanks so much for the opportunity to share my writing journey with you and your readers. ~ Dawn

    1. My pleasure and honor, Dawn.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *