Join Our Chat With Author Kelly Irvin

Welcome, friends!

Today we’re visiting with multi-published, two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist, Kelly Irvin, who pens Fiction Punctuated by Faith

Author Kelly Irvin

Kelly has a rich story to tell, so gather ’round as she tells us a bit about her journey. Join the chat below and you’re eligible for a signed copy of Kelly’s latest Amish romance, The Saddle Maker’s Son.


Pre-Author Life of Kelly Irvin

Home Town Roots
Kelly with her sister and mom in Kansas

I was born and raised in the small rural community of Abilene, Kansas, which has as its claim home of Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Library and Museum, the Greyhound Hall of Fame, and being the county seat. I’m one of five children in a working class family. We lived on “the wrong side of the tracks,” and we learned to stick close together.

A Close Family

My dad taught us all sports and I have good memories of playing sports growing up. I wanted to be a professional baseball player. Or a writer. My sister and I had a “newspaper” in grade school and I wrote poems, plays, and short stories. In high school I served as editor of the newspaper and then of the yearbook.

I was a shy kid who dressed funny. (My dad was very conservative at a time when the sixties and seventies fashions were in full swing.) So I lived in books and found my niche in journalism.

College Years

In college I spent a year and a half at the University of Costa Rica as an exchange student, learning Spanish and acquiring a larger world view. A friend and I returned to the States via bus with our big red backpacks that identified us as a gringas everywhere we went. It was a wonderful, surreal experience.

Adult Life

newspaper-973049_1280Eventually I graduated with a degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and began working as a newspaper reporter. I always wanted to write fiction, but as a working class kid I was also very aware of the need to be able to support myself. For years, writing nonfiction satisfied me.

Getting Started

Then I married a TV news photographer and we moved to San Antonio where we proceeded to have two children back-to-back. The dream of being a novelist seemed farfetched. I worked full-time in public relations, went to volleyball and basketball games, and science fairs, and sold Girl Scout cookies. I loved being a wife and mother living in the ‘burbs, but as year forty-five arrived, it dawned on me if I didn’t make my move soon, I would never realize my dream.

So I sat down and wrote my first book in 2003. It took another two years to find an agent and five years to publish my first book.

Debut Experience of Kelly Irvin

A Deadly Wilderness by Kelly Irvin

Kelly Irvin_booksigning2
A Deadly Experience, Kelly’s debut

Now I feel as if I had two different “debut” experiences. My agent, Mary Sue Seymour, worked hard to sell my romantic suspense novels early in my career. It took three years, but she never gave up. She sold A Deadly Wilderness to mainstream publisher Five Star Gale in 2008. They publish library quality hardbacks sold primarily to libraries. There’s no widespread circulation to bookstores or much marketing, but I was over the moon. I spent many, many happy hours in my hometown library as a kid. To have my book in a library was the thrill of a lifetime. A perfect circle. 

Opening that box of books and seeing my name on a hardback was an incredible high. So was pulling the book off the shelf of my local library. Having one of my co-workers tell me she’d checked it out, read it, and loved it, blew my mind. Publisher’s Weekly called A Deadly Wilderness “a solid romantic suspense debut novel.” Sales were good. I was ecstatic.

No Child of Mine

Then Five Star Gale bought the second book, No Child of Mine. I learned so much from the experience. For example, try not to put much stock in reviews. Publisher’s Weekly panned No Child of Mine, saying it was “full of unhappy Christians. The only likeable characters were the children.”

Hurt would be putting in loosely. Sales weren’t great because librarians refer to magazines like Publisher’s Weekly to help them choose what to buy. I learned it takes a tough skin to be a published author. (Tweet That!) 

I love those books and I’ve proud of them, but nothing more was forthcoming in terms of romantic suspense sales so Mary Sue suggested I step outside my comfort zone and try Amish romances.

Amish, a Change of Direction for Kelly Irvin

Kelly Irvin_booklaunchkellywposter
To Love and to Cherish, a different kind of debut

Although I was reluctant at first, I eventually took it as a challenge and gave it a shot. Mary Sue sold my first manuscript to Harvest House Publishing before I finished it. I finally broke into the CBA with the The Bliss Creek Amish series: To Love and to Cherish, A Heart Made New, and Love’s Journey Home. To Love and to Cherish was the beginning of a new writing direction for me and one that has been wonderful.

Kelly Irvin_saddle-maker-final
Kelly Irvin’s latest novel

Then came The New Hope Amish series: Love Still Stands, Love Redeemed, and A Plain Love Song. And now The Amish of Bee County series: The Bishop’s Son, The Beekeeper’s Son, and The Saddle Maker’s Son.

Realization of a Dream

Seeing my books in bookstores. Having The Beekeeper’s Son and The Saddlemaker’s Son final in the ACFW Carol Awards Contest. Signing on with HarperCollins Christian PublishingBecause I took a chance. It just shows you never know what doors will open for you. You simply have to take a leap of faith.

A Determined Journey

Since I sat down to write that first book thirteen years ago, so much water has passed under that bridge. My kids were in middle school then. I remember Nicholas standing on the stairs, calling, “Kelly, Kelly,” because he couldn’t get my attention with “Mom,” I was so engrossed in my writing. It was so hard to balance a full-time job with motherhood, being a wife, and having my writing dream.

I arrived at work at 6:30 in the morning so I could write before my work day started. I ate my lunch at my desk so I could squeeze in some writing time. Nights, weekends. My husband and my children gave me the space to do that. They sacrificed so I could go to writing conferences. So I could reach my dream. I was and am so blessed.

Now I’m retired and write full-time. The kids are grownup and married. I have two grandchildren and my daughter Erin lives in Virginia with her sailor husband. I miss those days when they were close and all the fun we had as they grew and became who they are today. 

Encouragement and Advice from Kelly Irvin

Kelly Irvin_family-1150995_1280
Hug your loved ones.

My advice? Never lose sight of what’s important. Reach for those dreams, but don’t forget to hug your loved ones and tell them how much you love them every day. Strike a balance. Persist. Believe in your dream. And never lose sight of the One who has blessed you with the words.


Lord, we stand in awe of You, the Great Storyteller. We writers and readers of faith-driven stories bow in humility at Your blessing of words. And the privilege of sharing Your story. Let us never lose sight of the One who has blessed us with words. ~ For Jesus’ sake …



54 thoughts on “Join Our Chat With Author Kelly Irvin

  1. Thank you, all who participated in this chat. How wonderful to know readers out there in far-flung places are sharing in the words Kelly writes and gleaning from her messages.


    Cynthia Fernstaedt Martinez! Congratulations, Cynthia!

    P.S. Cynthia, please send me a message through this site’s Contact Linda form.

  2. Jan Hvizdos

    The Amish Bee County series really looks like a great Amish read. I’m so glad that you”drifted” to the Amish fictional novels and now include them in your writing genre.

    1. You’re entered, Jan. Thanks for participating!

    2. Thanks, Jan. I love hearing from readers who enjoy my books!

  3. Betty Hallett

    Would love to have this book

    1. You’re entered! Thanks for commenting, Betty. Kelly and I both appreciate the support.

  4. Loretta Shumpert

    So interesting to read this about you Kelly. Everyone has a background and now I know a little about you 🙂

    Please enter me, would LOVE to read your book.

    1. You’re entered, Loretta! Thanks for participating.

  5. Hi, everyone.
    The drawing will be Tuesday morning. Winner announced by that afternoon!

  6. Debbie Rhoades

    What a lovely blog post and interview! I gobbled up both of the previous Bee County novels, and they were absolutely wonderful. I love reading books where I learn something new, about a new area of the country, and you deliver. thank you for the chance to win!

    1. Thanks for your kind words, Debbie. Good luck to all on the giveaway!

      1. Lesa Harden

        I would like to know if I’m in the drawing for this book?

        1. Yes, you’re entered, Lesa! Thanks for participating! The announcement of the winner of the drawing will be Tuesday.

  7. Lesa Harden

    Would love this book, i love reading Amish books.

    1. Lesa, thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. You’re entered!

  8. cathychaney

    Would love to win a book.

    1. You’re entered, Cathy! Thanks for participating.

  9. Kelly,

    You are an amazing woman! I had not read about your road to publication before and to know that you are now writing while battling health issues is even more astounding. Your heart, strength, and humility all radiate through your writing and social media presence.

    Bless you!

    1. Kelly’s handling of her health issues has been inspiring to all of us. Thanks for joining our chat, Amanda. You’re entered!

    2. Thank you, Amanda! You are so kind. I love reading your Tweets! Blessings to you!

  10. Cynthia fernstaedt martinez

    Absolutely love your path in life and how wonderfully grounded you are in faith and family!

    1. Love having you as part of the chat, Cynthia. You’re entered!

    2. Thanks, Cynthia!

  11. Jackie Tessnair

    I enjoyed this post!I love Kelly’s books.I am looking forward to reading this book.Keep on writing these awesome books Kelly.

    1. Thanks for your encouraging comment, Jackie. You’re entered!

  12. Karen Martinitz-Eudaley

    I was hesitant to read Amish stories but Kelly’s are so well written I can’t put them down. I was on her yearbook staff at good old AHS but I picked the pages with pictures so I would not need to write very much. This is the one book left I gave not purchased so I would love to win.

    1. How wonderful that you knew Kelly way back when, Karen. Love it. You’re entered!

    2. Karen, you are so sweet! I’m so glad you enjoy these books.

  13. Susan Fletcher

    Very nice post that told me things I didn’t know about the author.

    1. Thanks for joining in the conversation, Susan. You’re entered in the drawing.

  14. Loretta Shumpert

    It was very good to read a bit about you, Kelly. I imagine that you are happy that you are retired so you can devote as much time as you wish to your writing. I would love, love to have a book written by you.

    1. You’re entered, Loretta. Good to have you with us.

  15. Lucy Reynolds

    I have the first two, so it would be wonderful to have an autographed copy to complete my set. Thank you for the chance. Love reading Kellys books and following on FB. Have a blessed evening ladies.

    1. You’re entered, Lucy. Happy you joined our chat.

  16. Debbie Hazelton

    You are so blessed, Kelly with your family and fulfilling your dream of becoming an author of some wonderful books. Thank you for the chance to win. Have a blessed day.

    1. You’re entered, Debbie! We love having you in our chat circle.

    2. Thanks Debbie. It really is a dream come true!

  17. Myrtle Thorn

    Would love to add The Saddlemaker’s Son to my bookshelf. Thank you for this wonderful chance

    1. Thank you for joining our chat, Myrtle. You’re entered!

  18. Reading about Kelly Irvin’s path to publication reminds me that God has laid out a different route for each of us. It’s fun seeing how he works in our lives. Well, most of the time. Sometimes patient is a challenge. But I’m glad Kelly was patient because now, through her stories, we’re in on her reward!

    1. Patience was never my strong point, Clarice, but then God gave me babies 17 months apart! He does have a sense of humor!

  19. Kat

    I love the book cover and would really enjoy adding this to my home library!

    1. You’re entered, Kat! Thanks for joining us!

  20. Kelly Tyree

    I love Kelly Irvin’s books! It is so neat to learn her history. I would love to win an autographed copy of her book. Her books have helped me to grow to love and respect the Amish community.

    1. You’re entered, Kelly Tyree! Thanks for your encouraging remarks.

    2. Thanks, Kelly! So glad you like them. And the Amish!

  21. Betty Hallett

    I would love to win this book. Thank you

    1. You’re entered, Betty!

  22. Pamela Pavkov

    I was a tomboy played all the sports as well as the boys but no teams for girls back then. I loved reading books in the crook of a tree which I was told wasn’t lady like. In high school I took a Journalism class, loved writing and became editor of our school paper and a weekly page on Saturday in the local paper. I would love to win an autographed copy of your book. I enjoy your books alot.

    1. Let’s hear it for the tomboy readers! You’re entered in the drawing, Pamela!

    2. Sounds so familiar, Pamela. I’m glad you like the books. That’s what a writer likes to hear!

  23. Angela

    I would love to be entered to win the book.

    1. You’re entered, Angela!

    2. Good luck, Angela!


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Author Chat: Pepper Basham

A Chat With Author Pepper Basham

Welcome! Today we’re chatting with award-winning author Pepper Basham. Jesus has given Pepper a part in the telling of His own story. He made her a character who tells of His goodness through writing.

Award-Winning Author14463775_10210620358245844_604034621_n

Pepper’s The Thorn Bearer received the Reader’s Favorite Book Award and placed as one of three finalist for ACFW‘s 2016 Carol Award in the Debut Category Gather ’round as Pepper gives us a peek into who she is, where she’s been, and what she’s learned along the way.



Add your own comments or questions in the Comments section below, and your name will be entered into a drawing for an autographed copy of The Thorn Keeper, Pepper’s second novel in her Penned in Time series.

Update: Winner of drawing was Brenda Murphree! Congratulations, Brenda!

~ ~ ~

Thanks so much for having me on, Linda!! It’s an honor to be with ACFW’s Carol Award winning author

Pepper’s Journey to Publication

I am a southern Appalachia girl, born and bred in Andy Griffith country. In fact, he was my fourth cousin. The accents and stories on the Andy Griffith show remind me so much of meandgranny1forwebthe world I grew up knowing, especially as seen through the eyes of my granny, who dreamed BIG for me.

Not surprisingly, Granny recognized my love for writing early on. When I was 10 years old she bought me a second-hand typewriter and said, “A writer needs one of these.” She was the first person to ever call me a ‘writer’ and the dream stuck. ☺ (Tweet That!)

Long in Coming

14445392_10210620359085865_1293459682_nBut it took a LOOOOONNNGGG time for the dream to turn into ink and bindings. I graduated high school, got married, received my master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology.

Along the way I birthed 5 kids, and eleven years after I started pursuing publication – I signed a contract for my first book. It was a long journey. I wrote bits and pieces of stories in between working full time and raising my awesome kids, but I’m so thankful for the opportunity to bring stories to life.

Pepper Basham’s Debut Experience: The Thorn Bearer with Vinspire Publishing.

14429280_10210620360245894_6294622_nAs you read in the first answer, it had taken a long time to get ‘the call’. I’d given up on this book I’d pitched for over a decade. But then…the right fit and God’s timing merged to create the perfect moment. I love this story – in fact I love the whole series, and enjoy hearing how the ‘heart’ of this book touches people’s lives. 

Advice from Pepper Basham

~Walk in your calling and focus on His stories. It’s so easy to light-pathway_1345753_960_720get bogged down in the ‘performance’ and numbers of writing and publishing. But God has a bigger Story in mind for us. He wants to celebrate who we are, where we are, how He’s made us, for His glory.

That means we can find peace in the ‘rat race’ of a profession fraught with comparison and self-doubt because we’re writing for Him…and He’ll take care of the rest. Of course, we should market as we can, write quality stories, and spread the word, but we shouldn’t be driven by that. We should be driven by His call in us to be storytellers.

writing-tablet-png~Write, write, write. An empty page does not a novel make ☺ If you want to be a writer, then the first thing that as to happen is get your words on the page. Daydreaming and brainstorming both have their places, but they rarely become a paper-and-ink reality until their on the page.

~Seek out Community. Lots of people say writing is a solitary journey, but it doesn’t have to be.

I’ve found that I’m a better and happier writer when basham_pepper-communityI surround myself with other writers, reader, and encouragers along the way. Truly, community breeds inspiration. I have found some of the dearest friends through reaching out in the writing world.

~ ~ ~

Thank you, Pepper Basham, for this peek into who you are, where you’ve been, and a bit about what you’ve learned along the way. I love how you describe a writer’s journey as “walking in your calling.” Nothing’s more precious than being called by Jesus to write His stories and accept the role of a character yourself.

Readers, what a privilege to know more about delightful Pepper Basham. It doesn’t get much better than knowing you’re a 4th cousin to Andy Griffith. Get to know Pepper better and check out her books at the following links:

Twitter: @pepperbasham

~ ~ ~

Dear Lord, we stand amazed at Your goodness. You’ve stooped to bless us with partnership in the telling of Your story. Thank you. Keep us ever mindful and faithful in our calling, whether as writers, readers, or neighbors. For Jesus ‘ sake.


8 thoughts on “Author Chat: Pepper Basham

  1. Brenda Murphree

    I really enjoyed reading about you. I’ve been wanting to read one of your books. This one looks very interesting!
    Thanks for the opportunity to win one!

    1. Brenda,
      Good luck in the contest!!

  2. I always enjoy reading about fellow authors–this time Pepper Basham, whose journey to publication would make a great novel in itself! I, too, get more out of my craft when I share my journey with other writers. We hold each other accountable while encouraging each other in the process. As a Christian, God has given us all the same command: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matt 28:19-20 NIV) How we do that is to use the gifts he’s given us. Thanks for sharing your gift, Pepper. And you, too, Linda. 🙂

    1. Amen, Clarice. Folks who haven’t read Christian fiction might not realize what a fertile field it is for the seeds of the Gospel. We’ve been blessed with a sacred privilege.

    2. Thanks so much, Clarice. Your encouragement means so much!

  3. Pepper, you and I share more than a calling to write. We’re both Speech & Language Pathologists–or I was once upon a time. The field has changed in the past half-century. My years as an SLP from 1968-1983 looked a bit different from yours in 2016, but at the core they’re the same: kids. I can’t imagine how you’ve tended your marriage, 5 kids, and full-time SLP–and write. Wow. That’s some dedication to writing. I pray God’s sweet hand of blessing will rest on you, your family, and your writing.

    1. I think it’s great to know you were a speech pathologist too, Linda. THank you for those prayers -and THANKS for having me on your beautiful blog!

      Sometimes I have to remember my own writing advice because the world on the other side of publication can be a tough place. Thankfully the One who has called us to write will also equip us for the journey!! THANK YOU!

      1. You’re so right, Pepper. We must support one another at every opportunity. Life in the publishing world isn’t easy–from our secluded writing locales to the public arena where our innermost thoughts are exposed. Our pastor, a very well known author, was gracious as always in congratulating me a few months ago on the Operation First Novel win. The first words out of my mouth were I feel so vulnerable. He reminded me what his wife always says when he begins to stew over some project: The Lord’s always helped you before, hasn’t He? Why wouldn’t He now? So I’ve tried to remember those words of wisdom when I feel vulnerable. If the Lord took my incompetence and turned it into an award-winning novel, He can surely handle my feelings of vulnerability. ~ I so admire you, Pepper, for finding writing time with all your life entails. Bravo!


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