Author Chat: C. J. Darlington

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control;
against such there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23 ASV

Reader Friends,

The Apostle Paul admonishes his student and beloved friend and helper Timothy in 2 Timothy 1 to hold onto Paul’s sound words and to guard the treasure committed to him in the faith and love of Jesus. He reminds the younger man that doing so is possible through the Holy Spirit which indwells him.

In Galatians 5 Paul speaks of the “fruits” of the indwelling Spirit. These come to mind when I read our guest author C.J. Darlington‘s answers to questions about her journey from aspiring writer to award-winning author and now publisher as co-owner of Mountainview Books LLC. In particular, four fruits of the spirit–love, joy, peace, and long-suffering–shine when C.J. writes about her Paint mare named Sky

Look carefully, and I think you’ll find the clues …

~~~

C.J. Darlington Welcome, C.J. What an honor it is to have you as our guest today. 

1) How would you categorize yourself as an author?

I mostly write contemporary stories that include elements of suspense, but I also have a lot of fun writing my speculative YA stories. It’s a great time to be a writer because we don’t necessarily have to stick to one genre. I love the variety!

2) You won the Jerry Jenkins Writers Guild Operation First Novel award for Thicker Than Blood. Can you give us a brief summary of the plot, C.J.?

thicker-than-blood-250Thicker than Blood is the story of two sisters who meet again after fifteen years of estrangement. The older, Christy, is a troubled alcoholic who works at a rare bookstore. The younger, May, is the co-owner of a failing cattle ranch. They both have something the other desperately needs, but they don’t realize it.

A bit about the main character … The majority of the story follows Christy, who is becoming adept at the intricacies of rare book buying and selling. She works at a four-story used bookstore called Dawson’s Book Barn. But on her thirty-third birthday she’s arrested for drunk driving and has to decide whether to return to her abusive ex-boyfriend or face the consequences. It isn’t long before she hits rock bottom.

The main theme? No one is ever too far gone for God. (Tweet That!) I also love weaving a story of sisterly love and devotion.

Where did the idea for the book come from?

It was always about two very different sisters. The plot grew from there. I loved being able to share about rare books, and that was something that developed over time. Christy was actually a real estate agent in early drafts! A first edition of Ernest Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls plays an important part in Thicker than Blood, which is especially neat for a book lover like me.

3) Tell us about the other three novels in the Thicker Than Blood series: Bound by Guilt, Ties That Bind, and the latest, Running on Empty:

Brief summaries and a little about the characters:

bound-by-guilt-250Bound by Guilt: A botched robbery at a used bookstore sends a teen girl on the run. The story focuses primarily on teen Roxi Gold who’s desperate for the love of a family. She’s been in and out of foster care since she was eight and just wants to fit in and have some stability. We also get to know police officer Abby Dawson who’s determined to find out who killed her brother.

ties-that-bind-250Ties that Bind: On a quest to find her father, a young woman discovers she has two sisters who have no idea she exists. Brynn Taylor has just gotten out of prison and is finally ready to fulfill her mother’s dying wish and find the father she’s never known. She ends up in the small cattle town of Elk Valley, Colorado, where her plans and her life begin to unravel.

running-on-empty-250Running on Empty: A lonely, down-on-her-luck young woman suddenly finds herself the guardian of her much younger half-sister. Not only is she blindsided with the news that she has a biological mother out there somewhere, but now she has to take care of Callie. But Del and Callie soon develop a sweet bond that I really enjoyed writing. Plus there’s a greyhound named Utah who I hope readers come to love too.

The theme of families and reconciliation is woven into all my stories (Tweet That!), right along with the theme of Thicker than Blood about the amazing reach of God’s love to all of us, no matter what we’ve done.

How would you compare/contrast the four novels?

I wrote all four with the intent that they stand completely by themselves. You don’t have to read Thicker than Blood to be able to enjoy Running on Empty, for instance. But there is a deeper experience if you read them in order. They all have the same flavor but take a look at a different issue.

Do the novels’ main characters intersect in the four stories?

Yes! That was something I enjoyed a lot. Most of the main characters from each book have a supporting role in the next.

In which main character do you find the most of yourself?

I think May Williams from Thicker than Blood is the closest to me in some ways. She has a deep love for animals and the outdoors and she’s trying to live a good Christian life. When she messes up and makes mistakes, which she does, she picks herself back up and keeps going. That’s what I hope I can always do in my life.

3) Your novel Jupiter Winds was a finalist in the 2015 American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award contest. How does it compare with the other four? How different was the writing experience?

jupiter-winds-250Jupiter Winds was a novel I wrote originally for pure fun. I had all these crazy ideas in my head and just spilled them out on the page, which I think allowed for some interesting plot twists! The book is different from my other books mostly just due to the genre change and that it features two teens. I came away from writing Jupiter Winds with a renewed respect for those who write fantasy and science fiction because world building is hard!

4) Having won Operation First Novel Award for Thicker Than Blood, you’ve been asked many times how the win changed your world. Now that you’re a publisher, how do the life changes compare?

Every new venture creates some great experiences. The great part about working as a publisher is the chance to bring even more stories to readers. I love great stories. Period. So it’s been a privilege.

5) How do you balance writing and publishing on a daily basis?

I am still learning! One thing I am discovering is the need to set a writing quota based on words rather than time.

6) Tell us about your Paint mare named Sky.horse-422111_1280

Sky is a sixteen-year-old Paint mare who has been such a blessing to our whole family. I have learned so much from this horse. Sky teaches me how to be patient, listen to animals, work hard, and have fun. (Tweet That!)

Have you written into a story an equine character with Sky in mind?

Not yet, but in Ties that Bind I wrote about a troubled horse named Lacey who was based on the horse I rode before we got Sky.

piercing-the-darkness7) You’ve said reading the Frank Peretti novel Piercing the Darkness was a turning point in your writing journey. Can you point to one scene or one element of the story that transformed or inspired you?

His character Sally Beth Roe is still one of my all time favorite characters. Her spiritual journey (I won’t give too much away) is beautiful. In fact, I think it’s time I picked the book up again!

8) Mountainview Books is a family endeavor. And home schooling was a family endeavor. How do they compare? Which has been the most challenging?

Each are uniquely challenging, but homeschooling taught me so many value things I am now able to bring to life as an adult. Pretty much everything I do stems back to the sacrifices my parents made to homeschool me. I am convinced I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.

8) Describe for our readers your spiritual purpose in writing for the Christian market.

You know, each book provides a different answer to this question. With Thicker than Blood I was focusing on a salvation message.

In Bound by Guilt it was about unconditional love.

Ties that Bind continues with that.

Running on Empty is about child-like faith.

And Jupiter Winds challenges us to realize no matter where we go, God is with us. (Tweet That!)

I also value just telling a good story and have learned not to try too hard to force a spiritual take-away.

9) What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from your writing/publishing experiences?

Oh, my. Trusting God with everything!

Thank you so much, C.J., for taking the time to chat with our circle of friends. You are a young adult possessed of uncommon wisdom. Thank you for sharing with us.

~~~

Did you see the fruits, Readers? Look at how C.J. described the lessons she’s learned from her Paint mare Sky:

…What’s patience if not long-suffering?
…Doesn’t listening to animals require a listener at peace?
…Doesn’t love of life require hard work?
…And isn’t having good fun just plain joy?

Father God, we bow before you as Creator, Sustainer, and Thicker-Than-Blood Friend. We thank and praise You for stooping to love us, for coming so near You’d reside within us. Keep us in You, the Vine. Feed us as we cling to You. And produce fruit from us according to Your perfect will. For Jesus’ sake …

12 thoughts on “Author Chat: C. J. Darlington

  1. Thanks so much for having me, Linda!

     
     
    1. Having you was an honor, C.J. Thank you for being our guest.

       
       
  2. I like your thought on not forcing a spiritual take-away, C.J. So many books that have challenged my faith really didn’t seem to have a spiritual agenda, but it was THERE.

     
     
    1. Thanks for joining the chat this past week, Gail. Sometimes I feel as if C.J. writes her books–and lives her life–rather effortlessly. And that’s a spiritual lesson in itself.

       
       
    2. It’s a challenging balance, I know, but you are right–sometimes we get the most out of books that were more subtle.

       
       
  3. G.J. Hoffman

    Thank you, Linda, for hosting this.

    And thank you, C. J. Darlington. It was fun to hear more about you.
    A couple of years ago, I picked up Bound by Guilt at a Barnes and Noble to read the back and realized you were an Operation First Time Novel winner. At the time I was taking classes from the Christian Writers Guild, so I actually knew what that meant. So I bought your book.
    I enjoyed it and found it refreshing, particularly because it was different from the run of the mill adult romance or teen genres. And, I just finished Ties that Bind a couple of months ago.
    I did not, however, know that you had published anything in the speculative genre so that was fun to find out here. I too love the fact that, as writers, we can jump from contemporary to speculative, or in my case, to period medieval.
    So, I’m curious. What are you working on now/next?

    G.J. Hoffman (https://whentherocksspeak.wordpress.com/)

     
     
    1. Thanks for joining the chat this past week, Given. C.J. and her writing and publishing story are an inspiration to both of us and many others.

       
       
    2. Hi G.J.! Thanks for the comment, and I’m glad you enjoyed the stories. Running on Empty was just released in December of last year (Book 4 of the Thicker than Blood series), but I just finished the first draft of the next Jupiter story (sequel to Jupiter Winds.) I am also in the beginning stages of a completely new book! I still don’t know where I’m going with it, lol.

       
       
      1. G.J. Hoffman

        Wow, sounds like you have been busy. 🙂 I look forward to checking out your other books. Thanks.

         
         
  4. C.J.’s books definitely held my interest–for all the right reasons: well-developed characters, mystery, tension, history, and clean, crisp, intelligent writing!

     
     
    1. Ditto, Clarice! Thank you for joining the chat.

       
       
    2. Thanks, Clarice! Appreciate it.

       
       

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Author Chat: Catherine Leggitt

Whether you turn to the right or to the left,
your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying,
“This is the way; walk in it.” 
Isaiah 30:21

Reader Friends,

The paths of the Lord lead straight to Him. His directions are perfect. Problem is, we don’t always take directions well, do we? Often we carve out our own way. We take detours over rocks and potholes, around sharp curves, and through dark tunnels where danger lurks. We want to follow His roadmap … but it isn’t always clear-cut … or is it? 

Thankfully, the Lord has promised to take the crooked paths we submit to Him and make them straight: In all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6 

Author Catherine Leggitt
Author Catherine Leggitt

Our chat today is with Catherine Leggitt, an author who’s learned a lesson or two about God’s directions, not the least of which is the subject of her recent novel, The Road to Terminus.

Gather ’round, friends, for an intriguing author chat. And thank you for joining our circle.

~~~

Hi, Catherine.
I’m so glad you could join our chat today.

road-to-terminus-cover-front-almost-final-2-2
An intriguing novel by author Catherine Leggitt set on 1955 Route 66

~First, tell us about your latest novel, The Road to Terminus. (We’d like to know where the idea came from and a bit about the main characters.)

In a nutshell, here’s what the book is about: The paths of three strangers collide on a desperate road trip along Route 66. (Tweet That!) One is running away, one is racing the clock, and the child who binds their destiny merely hopes to survive.  

One night in 2012 I dreamed about three strangers—a child, an older woman, and a fugitive—traveling in a car. When I awoke, I grabbed a pen and scribbled that idea down. Next morning I commenced pondering plot possibilities.

A close family member was grappling with addiction during that time. His struggle seemed unending and his battle for sanity had taken a toll on the rest of the family. Driving to an appointment one day, my husband Bob and I discussed the question of how many times a person must hit bottom before coming to that final place of surrender where change is the only option left. About then we spotted a sign for Terminous, California. Terminus means “the end of the road.” Suddenly, my emerging story had a name—The Road to Terminus. You might describe the plot as Pilgrim’s Progress meets The Perils of Pauline. (Tweet That!) 

Childhood road trips in my mother’s green-and-yellow Pontiac station wagon created a fascination with historic Route 66. Why not a road trip along The Mother Road? Sort of a metaphor for the journey to sobriety and peace with God and Man. My husband unearthed a 1955 State Farm Road Atlas, which he purchased at an antique store some years earlier. The maps indicated the exact placement of old Route 66. Setting the story in 1955 eliminated the problem of modern law enforcement technology. With a fugitive to consider, I needed to decrease the likelihood of rapid capture.

Then one weekend we visited my brother-in-law in the Mohave Desert. “Coincidentally” a Route 66 classic car show was being held in Victorville. As I snapped pictures of awesome pre-1955 autos, I got the notion that Stryker (the child) and George (the fugitive) might connect around their mutual love of cars. Bob’s passion for classic cars too proved quite helpful with the automotive details of the novel. In the motion picture version of my book, I picture Robert Downey Jr. playing George. Not sure who would play Mabel (the older woman). Maybe Angela Lansbury, but she may be a tad too old. (Well, a girl can dream!)

~A few years ago you wrote a cozy mystery series entitled Payne & Misery, which will be reissued by Mountainview Books soon. They sound intriguing. Please tell us a little bit about them.

The three cozies are collectively called The Christine Sterling Mysteries, featuring Christine Sterling as the amateur sleuth. (Okay, she may also be my alter ego.) Christine and her husband retired to the small northern California community of Grass Valley just like we did. In each book, Christine stumbles upon a murder. (That part never happened to me! Thankfully!) With way too much time on her hands, Christine proceeds to investigate—in a bumbling, non-official capacity that always gets her in over her not-yet-gray head.

~According to your website, www.catherineleggitt.com, you’re not only a writer but an inspirational speaker. Tell us about your last speaking engagement.

Leggitt_12218286_10207902243012488_270655293_oRecently it was my privilege to speak at a women’s brunch in Acampo, CA. The attendees included a wide age range. The chosen theme centered on coffee, titled “Perfectly Blended.” Decorations created out of brown and white coffee filters, containers of coffee, coffee cups and posters festooned tables and walls. (Thank you, Pinterest!) My presentation, “The Perfectly Blended Life,” included the evolution of The Road to Terminus. After publication, God revealed that my own “addiction” to food held me in bondage in the same way my dear loved one was imprisoned by drugs. (Tweet That!) Last January, God led me to a Leggitt_12236699_10207902242812483_818090021_onew way of eating and living, which produced the release of about eighty pounds and vastly improved my health. Along with the physical blessings, I acquired a deeper relationship with God and mental serenity. I am free at last!

~One of your recent blog entries describes your recent “adventure” in the airport parking lot. Your transparency provides a way for readers to connect. Talk about transparency in your writing and speaking engagements.

The only type of writing or speaking that interests me includes life lessons and principles God is teaching me. I use story as the vehicle for creating interest. My heart’s desire is that everything I say or write would reflect God’s glory and give Him honor for what He has done. (Tweet That!) The best examples I know come from what He is teaching me. If I am to be honest, I must speak of these things. I know no other way to connect with readers or audiences.

~Certain parts of the country recently have been blanketed in snow. In other parts, air conditioners have run non-stop. Describe the weather in northern California today.

Rain was forecast today and some fell in the night. Now the sun is out again. Earlier this week the sun made it comfortable outdoors—probably in the 70’s. Compared to other parts of the country in winter, this area has moderate weather–although we do get four beautiful seasons–which I can’t say for where I grew up in southern California.

~What part do you sing in the church choir? Have you always loved to sing?

Presently I am a member of the alto section. Besides the church choir, I sing with a group of ten creatively called, “The Ensemble.” I’ve been singing at church since I was a child. In college, I received a music scholarship, which I used for private lessons and to sing with a choral group.

~What’s your favorite meal to eat? And to prepare?

Growing up on a farm, I discovered Mexican food from the family of workers who lived on our property. It remains by far my favorite food. LOVE chili rellenos! Melted cheese, yum!! Along with plenty of homemade tortillas. Of course, I no longer eat those things. So, I’d have to say these days my favorite meal to prepare is seafood (salmon, shrimp, or ahi tuna), brown rice, and vegetables (any kind).

~What can we anticipate from Catherine Leggitt in the near future?

I have a couple of ideas percolating. I plotted a fourth Christine Sterling Mystery—one where Christine must finally curb her meddling and snoopiness. I’ve also written a stand-alone book called Dying to Be Noticed, which awaits publication. I plan to revisit that novel soon and perhaps rework the beginning.

~Thank you so much for joining us today, Catherine. Where may readers find you and your books?

It’s been my joy and pleasure, Linda. Great questions! Thanks for inviting me. Readers can connect with me at my website, www.catherineleggitt.com

Purchase links:
Amazon: http://amzn.to/1NOJ04V
Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/1PezVnZ  
Kobe Books: www.kobebooks.com
Deeper Shopping: www.deepershopping.com

Author Biography:
Catherine Leggitt is an author and inspirational speaker. A native Californian born in the Bay Area, she raised two daughters, taught school, and cared for her aging parents in southern California before retiring to the north end of the state. Proud grandmother of six brilliant children, Catherine studies the Bible, reads about a book a week, serves as a leader in Bible Study Fellowship, and sings in the church choir. These days Catherine also crafts suspenseful and convoluted plots—exploring God’s mysteries through fiction.

Catherine’s first series, The Christine Sterling Mysteries, includes Payne & Misery, The Dunn Deal, and Parrish the Thought. Her debut novel won 2nd place at the Orange County Christian Writers Conference in May, 2010 and was published by Ellechor Publishing in 2011. Subsequently Ellechor published The Dunn Deal and Parrish the Thought in 2012. Mountainview Books released The Road to Terminus September 14, 2015. They plan to reissue The Christine Sterling Mysteries in 2016. Another standalone book, Dying to Be Noticed awaits publication.

 

5 thoughts on “Author Chat: Catherine Leggitt

  1. This comment from Donn Taylor on Facebook: “I tried to leave the comment. THE ROAD TO TERMINUS is an excellent novel. Highly recommended,” but the site wouldn’t accept any URL I put into the blank for it. Glad to have this opportunity to leave the comment.

     
     
  2. ??? And you thought you really knew me, eh? Thank you for leaving a comment, dear friend.

     
     
  3. Marcia

    Good interview. I did learn some new things about Catherine.

     
     
  4. Hi Catherine! So excited to hear the Christine Sterling mysteries are going to be reissued. Loved TRTT.

     
     
    1. Thank you, Linda. I am excited also. I miss our editing sessions. Maybe we’ll all get back into our writing soon. I hope to.

       
       

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