A very busy lady, she also has another book releasing in less than a month!
I notice on your blog that you were inspired to write Destiny's Designs when you were working for an interior designer. I would love to hear where inspiration came to you for your other novels?
"The Perfect Proposal" was written while I was home taking care of my mother. Much of that book is based on personal experience (but not all of it).
"In Good Faith" features a girl who is in the Greeting Card Industry, a field in which I worked for over 10 years. Yes, I wrote and edited greeting cards for the 3rd largest company in the US - Paramount Cards. We were second to Hallmark and American Greetings. The company, however, unfortunately, went out of business in 2006, just shy of its 100th birthday. The rest of "In Good Faith" came out of a night class I took on writing! The hero, Aaron Carrier owns and air conditioning company. Carrier is a brand of air conditioner and it's a little inside joke that his initials are AC - air conditioning.
Do you have any wisdom to share for beginning writers? Maybe some gems you've learned along the way?
I would have to say be patient, be true to yourself and don't ever, ever give up. Also be the writer you are, not the writer "they" - meaning anyone - wants you to be. Read a lot and keep learning, good writing is very technical. Naturally, practice, practice, practice :-) Most of all, have fun.
Can you describe your writing space for us? What type of atmosphere do you like to write in?
What a nice question! More than anything I love to be near light, so I am near windows all the time. I've changed to a laptop now so I move around - but my favorite space is the bay window in our living room. So cozy! At night when I am burning the midnight oil, I re-locate to the kitchen table. There's a great view of the clock from there - and two windows where I can see the world of the night going by. I love classical music, and world music, so that is always playing, too.
Which of your heroines do you most relate to and why?
Hmmmm...Spiritually, I think it would have to be Lindsay Richardson in "The Perfect Proposal." The other heroines have all suffered much greater losses than I have, and have experienced deeper spiritual questionings. Lindsay was torn between her love and devotion to her family and the life God was calling her to with Dean Singleton Copley. She grew to understand that, with God's love and with faith, they were not mutually exclusive.
Has romance in your own life influenced the romance of your heroes and heroines?
Oh my goodness, every single hero is based on my husband, re-invented. lol. Guess it's a good thing he has so many dimensions to his personality!
We would love to hear more about Light of the Heart. I see it is the start of a new series. Can you tell us a bit about your main character in this series? Will the main character stay the same throughout the series?
It's so exciting to do a series, Julia, I can't begin to describe how wonderful it is.
Cascade Preston is the main character in the series, and the heroine of "Light of the Heart". The premise of the Sterling Lakes Series is how the renovation of the church in town leads to a rebirth of the entire town itself on many levels – physically, emotionally and spiritually, to name a few. “Light of the Heart,” book one on the series, deals with the effects of a difficult childhood on the heroine, Cascade, now a very successful stained-glass artist. As a child she knew her father was abusing her mother but was powerless to stop it. She was also aware as a child that the town knew of the trouble in her house, yet did nothing to stop it. Her anger and resentment are so intense that she refuses to return to Sterling Lakes. However, circumstances take a turn and the project to redo the stained-glass windows in the town church becomes hers. As she is challenged to let the light of God’s love shine into her heart, she also meets the hero, Dan McQuay.
She does not know this yet (in Book One), but her aunt will reveal to her that her mother used to be crying what she called a 'cascade' of tears before she was born due to her unhappiness. Only her faith saw her through those rough times. When she was born, her mother's tears turned from sorrow to joy, and the hope inherent in her daughter's birth inspired her to name her 'Cascade' as a reminder of the two-sided nature of all our experiences, and the redemptive power of God's grace. Her whole name is Cascade Grace Preston. She will appear in each book, but not as the heroine; each book will have a new heroine.
What do you hope the reader will take away spiritually from Light of the Heart?
This book deals with forgiveness, and I hope readers will see something in this book they can relate to in their own lives. Sometimes we have to forgive ourselves for the way things were, because they were out of our control. Developing an understanding of the levels of forgiveness, and the depth of faith involved in the process of forgiving is key to growing as a person, spiritually and on every other level as well.
I have always wanted to be able to share a mission of God's love through writing uplifting, inspiring books in His honor. It's so basic, to me -- to gladden people through reading, and to bring the Word of God to their lives in another way, and to reinforce the love of God in their hearts and the light of God in their lives.
What projects do you have coming up next?
The second book in the series, "Angels of the Heart" is due April 1st. This also is edgy inspirational romance - dealing with teenage pregnancy. Then I will rest my eyes for a few days! After that I will start Book Three, which is due September 1st.
Would you like to share an excerpt of Light of the Heart for our readers?
For your enjoyment, here's an excerpt from Light of the Heart. This is my favorite scene, when they still do not know each other very well and the go into the church together for the first time.
Cascade watched the sun, dappled from the leafy trees nearby, play across the firm planes of his face. "Being back here, I don't feel like anything has changed."
"Does that surprise you?" he asked.
"The way things are going lately, everything is coming as a surprise. I'm just trying to process it all."
"Want to go into the church?"
"Sounds like a great idea." She looked over at him but could not read his expression.
They walked past the dirt piles toward the front of the church. A songbird trilled in one of the rhododendron shrubs as they moved by. Sunbeams glinted off the colorful stained glass windows. At the top of the wooden staircase, Cascade held the brass handle to open the ornately carved door.
"Go on." Dan reached beyond her and held the door open for her.
She entered the vestibule, blinking her eyes as they adjusted to the darkness. Images of the past flooded her mind. Some of them good, some of them not so good. She turned to Dan. "Come with me."
"You got it."
They walked together down the main aisle. Cascade inhaled the familiar scents of wood, candle, and incense. She stopped midway and turned to face the back of the church.
"These windows are beautiful," she whispered, looking up at the large round West window. "This is where I was inspired to do what I do and to be who I am today."
"Impressive." Dan touched her arm. "Let's sit down here."
They slid into a pew and sat back against the smooth, varnished wood. Cascade slowly scanned the interior of the church, looking at each window. It was as if she were seeing it for the very first time.
She turned to say something to Dan. His eyes were closed, and he sat motionless. It looked as if he were in prayer. Could he be?
Cascade took the opportunity to admire him. His profile was softened just a bit in the filtered light. Dark hair and a firm, masculine nose were all balanced by the strong jaw line which composed the proportions of his face. His lips, curved into just a hint of a smile, were slightly parted. The shadow of his long dark eyelashes danced upon his cheek. To Cascade, he looked completely and utterly at peace.
She reached over and gave his hand a friendly pat. To her surprise, he took her hand, holding it gently in his. Warm and weathered, it fit hers just right. For a moment, she let herself feel protected. She didn't know what had happened since he walked into her life. Everything had turned topsy-turvy, but she knew one thing: Dan McQuay was some kind of wonderful.
Then she remembered his words the first time he visited her showroom: "I come into town, do the job, and leave. No ties, no friendships, no tea parties and barbecues with the neighbors. In and out."
What was she thinking? She snatched her hand away.
"What's wrong?" Dan looked at her.
"Sure there is. Your lips are all tight."
"No, I'm fine. I was honestly just thinking about you."
"What were you thinking?" He smiled.
She took a deep breath, and listening to all the choirs of angels rejoicing at the sight of his smile and wondered, Why me? This guy is way too dangerous. He's attractive, kind, smart…and ready to leave as soon as the job here in town is finished.
Just then, the church doors opened. A black-cassocked figure hastened towards them.
"Excuse me, excuse me. This area is restricted. Masses and confessions will be held in St. Luke's school auditorium or the rectory."
"We were just leaving, Father Greene. I'm on the construction crew, and we came in to say some prayers."
"Oh, it's you, Dan." The furrows in the priest's brow vanished. A saintly smile replaced his scowl. "By all means, children. Stay a long as you wish. We have to be extra vigilant because of the vandals."
"You've had vandalism problems, Father?" Cascade asked. "That's horrible."
The priest blessed himself. "Just dreadful, my dear. What they did to the statue of Our Blessed Mother Mary last month was unthinkable."
Cascade cupped her hands over her mouth.
"Any luck finding the culprits?" Dan asked.
"No. We have no luck here at St. Luke's."
"Well, Father I don't know about that. Maybe this is the day that all that is going to change." Dan's voice sounded strong and reassuring. He shook the priest's hand.
"There's always hope. I'm Father Greene, dear."
"Cascade Preston." She smiled and shook his hand.
Wagging his index finger, Father Greene said: "I've heard of you, but I can't remember why."
"Cascade's designing the stained-glass windows for the project, Father. She's originally from Sterling lakes."
Turning to Dan, Cascade saw him give an eager smile. What was he thinking?
"How wonderful," Father Greene blessed himself. "So good of you, Cascade, to give back so generously to the town that you called home."
"It's my pleasure, Father." Cascade answered. Did I just agree to do the windows?
"Oh bless you, my dear. Bless you." Father Greene checked his pocket watch. "It's been so nice to chat with you wonderful folks. I have confessors waiting now." Turning on his heel, he bustled off through the shadows to the door.
"What were you thinking, Dan? I haven't agreed to do the windows. Now that nice priest is going to be all disappointed and flustered when he finds out," Cascade whispered.
"He might not be," Dan answered.
"I'm infuriated. You weren't asleep at all. Were you really saying prayers?" Cascade asked as they walked down the aisle.
Dan nodded. "Were you?"
"Oh yes," she answered. "Without a doubt. Lots of special prayers. Now there's one more special intention on this list -- me getting out of helping Father Greene." She turned to face him. "You look like you're going to laugh!"
"Well, it's just that..." Dan's eyes seemed to twinkle as he looked at her. It turned Cascade's knees to jelly.
"Let's change the subject." She cleared her throat and gripped the edge of the pew to steady herself. "Before we go, I wanted to tell you that my parents were the first couple married in this church."
Dan's eyebrows shot upwards. "Quite a distinction."
"They started out with lots of hopes and dreams for a bright future, I'm sure. Life takes some funny turns." She sighed. "Look, I've been thinking, Dan, of how stubborn I've been about not working in Sterling Lakes. I've been holding on to that way of thinking for years now. It really hasn't made me any happier in the long run, to think like that. Just kept me tied to this town in a negative way. I think the fight is over. I want my life to be filled with light and beauty and color. And love. God's love."
She blinked away the tears that filled her eyes. "You were right. Abby was trying to do me a favor, and I think she did. It's through forgiveness that we are set free. Maybe it's time for me to forgive what happened in the past. At least I can start, and this might be a good first step. Plus, I would never in a million years disappoint that nice priest. Father Greene has enough to worry about without me adding to it. So if it's at all possible, could I do the windows here?"
Regina has generously offered an e-copy of Light of the Heart to a reader. TO ENTER, please leave a question for Regina about herself or her books. Include your email address: whoever (at) wherever (dot) com. Winner will be announced on 3/23/11.
For more information on Regina:
My website is http://www.reginaandrews.com/
Tweet me @ regina_eileen
And my blog door is always open: http://www.reginaandrews.wordpress.com/
Julia, thank you so much for having me today, it an honor, my friend. May God bless you, your loved ones and your writing.