Janice Boekhoff
 

New Novel from Crystal Joy—infused with her real experiences

Thank you so much for having me as your guest today, Janice! It’s been a pleasure to experience our writing journeys together, and it’s an added bonus that we get to experience motherhood together as well.

I’m a stay-at-home mom with three little ones all under the age of five. I’m already getting nostalgic knowing that my oldest is about to graduate from preschool, so I can’t imagine having a high school graduate. But I can relate to letting go of one of my babies—a book baby, anyway. I just published my fourth book, Shattered Heart. I’ve never felt more terrified to publish a novel.

I’ll back up a little. When I wrote the rough draft of this sweet and wholesome romance, I knew exactly what I wanted to happen in the plot. I knew what conflicts would arise in order for the characters to grow and change. I knew where the book would take place. Every book in this series is located in a fictional small town in Iowa (based the town off of the Village of East Davenport). I was so excited that the first draft was easy to write. That was a first for me!

However, when I started revising the novel I wanted to rip my hair out. The main characters, Amanda and Ethan, had conflicts to overcome, but their problems were too surface-level. At the beginning of the novel, Amanda Meyers’ dad is diagnosed with lung cancer. Her mom passed away when she was in high school and her dad’s diagnosis resurrects fears that she kept buried for a long time. As Amanda’s worries resurface, she takes it out on the charming and handsome oncologist, Ethan Contos.  

My biggest hurdle in creating depth to Amanda and Ethan was my lack of experience in hospitals. Even though I write romantic fiction, I strive to create relatable, authentic characters with deep-rooted issues, like you and me. In other words, I couldn’t “feel” their inner turmoil.

Until real life happened.

Last August, I gave birth to my third child, Savannah Grace. After spending a few days in the NICU for what seemed like extra fluid in her lungs, Savannah was discharged from the hospital. But after several days of being home, I noticed that Savannah was having a hard time breathing, especially while nursing. So I took her in to our pediatrician thinking he would give me some advice on how to position her differently, so that she could breathe easier. But that’s not what happened. Before I had a chance to explain my concerns, the nurse checked her oxygen level and called an ambulance due to an alarmingly low oxygen level. We spent a week at our local hospital. Doctors and nurses tested her for everything they could think of—but she seemed fine, except that she couldn’t breathe on her own.

We were transferred to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. At this point, they started testing her for rarities. And that’s when they diagnosed Savannah with Congenital Lobar Emphysema. You have better a chance of getting struck by lightning than having this condition. The best way I can describe it is like this: you have a lobe in your lung that expands like a balloon and pushes into the other lobes of your lungs—and in Savannah’s case, her heart. Once she was diagnosed, doctors immediately performed surgery. Watching Savannah being wheeled away into the OR was one of the scariest moments of my life. My prayers were set on repeat, but I felt an overwhelming peace that she would be okay. And she was. She is. Her lungs aren’t normal yet, but they are growing with her body. As she grows, she should be able to do activities and sports like her older siblings. Thank God!

After Savannah’s hospitalization, it took awhile before I attempted to write the final draft of Shattered Heart. But when I did, I poured my fears and worries into Amanda’s character. When Amanda cleans her dad’s house because she wants to kill off any germs that are a potential threat to her dad … That was me. After we got home from the hospital, I cleaned my whole house until it shined. When Amanda calls her dad at the hospital in the middle of the night just to hear his voice … That was me. I would go into Savannah’s room in the middle of the night just to make sure she was still breathing. When Amanda has a panic attack at the hospital … That was me. I thought I would pass out when I brought Savannah in for her first check-up (post-hospitalization) at our pediatrician’s office.

Besides one scene, I didn’t put my experiences in the novel on purpose. I was just polishing a final draft. But when I reread the final copy, I had tears in my eyes. There I was, in Amanda’s deepest darkest fears. Amanda and Ethan’s love story would not be the same if I hadn’t added my experiences.

This is why my heart picks up speed when I think about releasing Shattered Heart into the world. But I’m ready to let it go. I’m ready for you to read it. I hope Amanda and Ethan’s love story touches your heart as much as it touched mine.

Amanda Meyers is a force to be reckoned with, especially when her beloved father is diagnosed with lung cancer. She’s all too familiar with the heartache of losing a parent. But this time, she refuses to watch her dad suffer from the debilitating side effects of toxic medications like her mom did.

As a successful oncologist, Ethan Contos is more than capable of fighting for the lives of his patients. But when he starts falling for Amanda, he finds himself fighting a battle between two desires—pursuing the feisty daughter of an ailing patient and moving back to Greece to make amends with his parents. 

When Amanda’s dad urges Ethan to spend time with his daughter, Amanda and Ethan can no longer deny their chemistry. Between her dad’s deadly diagnosis, an ex-boyfriend who still cares about her, and Ethan’s impending move, Amanda can’t handle much more. Will her heart shatter to pieces, or can Amanda find a way to have her happily-ever-after?

Crystal Joy lives in Iowa with her husband and three growing children. She’s a stay-at-home mom with a heart for people. She loves getting to know them, writing about them, and inventing them. When she’s not hanging out with the hero and heroine in her latest book, she loves to dance awkwardly, watch reality TV, and visit real locations from her favorite books. You can learn more about Crystal Joy at her website www.crystaljoybooks.com.

Links:

Kindle– https://www.amazon.com/Shattered-Heart-Homeward-Bound-Crystal/dp/109717008X/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=Shattered+Heart+by+Crystal+Joy&qid=1558377666&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull
 
Nook– https://books2read.com/u/3yryqL
 
Print– https://www.amazon.com/Shattered-Heart-Homeward-Bound-Crystal/dp/109717008X/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=Shattered+Heart+by+Crystal+Joy&qid=1558377666&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull

 

What Do People Ask a Writer?

When people find out I’m an author, I get two reactions.

One: “Wow, that’s great!” Followed by many questions of what and how I write.

Two: “Oh.” Followed by a subtle eye roll and somewhat condescending questions about how easy it must be to use my writing to get rich without doing much work.

Thankfully, the first reaction is much more common, so I thought I would write up answers to the questions I’m most often asked. That way the next time someone asks me, I don’t even have to answer them, I’ll simply give them the link to this blog post (just kidding, I love to talk to people about writing).

Where do you get your ideas from?

Often from television. I love to watch a combination of science shows (think How the World Will End or Outrageous Acts of Science), true crime shows (Dateline or Fear Thy Neighbor), and adventure/history (Mysteries at the Museum or Expedition Unknown). So, my book ideas are really driven by my interests. 

But sometimes ideas will hit me out of the blue when I’m sitting at a stoplight or trying to pay attention in church, and I have to write them down or lose them, almost like God is playing a mischievous game of hide-and-seek inside my head.

What is your writing schedule like?

Routines feel like a too-tight sweater for me, and yet I get more done with a routine. So, I try to be flexible while giving myself freedom to get lost in the writing for longer than I planned or to quit early when I need to go to the grocery store because we only have ranch dressing and pickles left in the fridge. Usually, I write for a few hours while the kids are in school. I wish I could write longer, but when I do the errands pile up. Inconveniently, my kids and my husband need to eat more than pickles and ranch every day. At this stage of parenting, feeding the family is my biggest time sucker.

Where do you write?

My new home office!

That depends on what I’m writing. If I’m creating new words in a new story, then I work best
at a coffee shop with some distractions. But editing requires deeper concentration, and I prefer a quieter environment like the library or my office at home. But as most other writers will tell you, life is busy and you learn to write when you can. I’ve hand-written in the car pool line, in line to vote, and while waiting for kids at the dentist just to get the story out. And I have to get the story out, because that’s the only way it can take life in my books. 

 

Would you write other genres?

This usually comes from people who discover they like me as a person, but don’t like to read the genre that I typically write. The answer is yes, absolutely. I will write the story that comes into my head and excites me, then figure out which genre it fits best in. There are only two that I won’t write due to personal and moral reasons: Horror and Erotica.

Are you rich? How are your books doing? (A subtle way of asking, Are you rich?)

Nope, not rich. Most writers aren’t. In this new culture of self-publishing, there are more and more books produced every year and writers have the same problem as every other business person—how to get noticed among a sea of options. There are wonderful, fantastic books that don’t sell much, and there are awful books that make the best seller list, and then there’s everything in between. All I can do is write the best book I can, try to tell people about it, and leave the sales results to God. 

I could never be that creative, how do you do it? (said with a little bit of awe)

Many people look at art and artists as mystical people beyond comprehension, but the truth is we are just people who have a certain gift. God doles out the gifts and it’s merely up to us to use them. For instance, I have no idea how my son can swish a dozen 3-point shots in a row or how a friend of mine can make a gourmet meal for her family every night because I don’t have those gifts. If I could have picked my gift, for sure it would have been writing first, but I also would have liked for God to give me a beautiful singing voice (He didn’t).

I’ve always wanted to write, but I can’t …

This one isn’t a question, but I’m including it here because it comes up often and makes me a little sad. The words “I can’t” are always followed by a list of reasons why this person isn’t following their dream. The only thing I can do at that point is encourage them to let go of their fear and take the plunge. Writing can be addictive and time consuming, but it’s worth every moment when you hear from your readers and realize your book has really connected with them. 

Happy reading,

Janice

 

The Sound of Silver–Interview with Rachelle Rea Plus Giveaway!

Today I’m joining The Sound of Silver birthday blog tour! I’m posting today about Rachelle Rea Cobb’s second installment in the Steadfast Love series, an inspirational historical romance set during the 16th century!

Keep reading for info on how to win a FREE copy!!

the-sound-of-silver

ABOUT The Sound of Silver

The stalwart saint and the redeemed rebel. One fights for faith, the other for honor…

After Dirk rescues Gwyneth from the Iconoclastic Fury, she discovers that faith is sometimes fragile—and hope is not as easy as it may seem. Gwyneth continues her quest to learn more about the love of God preached by Protestants she once distrusted.

Meanwhile, Dirk’s quest is to prevent his sullied name from staining hers. Will his choice to protect her prove the undoing of her first faltering steps toward a Father God? Once separated, will Dirk and Gwyneth’s searching hearts ever sing the same song?

Find The Sound of Silver on…

Amazon Paperback: http://is.gd/1HwJoi

Kindle: http://is.gd/EZ7DJ1

Barnes & Noble: http://is.gd/qhoCTc

Books a Million: http://is.gd/M2y5P2

Goodreads: http://is.gd/iBE2lJ

Interview with Rachelle Rae

Rachelle is also the author of The Sound of Diamonds, the first book in the series, and a newlywed! This summer, she married a man with the same first name as the hero of the series! I’m joining in this blog tour to tell you a little more about Silver and spread the news about the rocking giveaway Rachelle is hosting—make sure you enter using the Rafflecopter form to win the lovely necklace pictured and your choice of any of the Steadfast Love titles!

  1. When and where did you first get the idea for the Steadfast Love Series?

A song I was listening to on the radio inspired the title of the first book. So I wrote Diamonds, but when I finished it, I realized to my great frustration that the characters weren’t done with their story, even though I had been quite adamant that I would write a stand-alone novel. But the story wasn’t finished, so I kept writing.

  1. Readers often pick out favorite quotes from a novel. Do you have a favorite of your own from The Sound of Silver?

Yes! In fact, my friend Mindy, a calligrapher, even created a beautiful piece of art from one of my favorite quotes: “Within the pages of books one’s heart can be revealed.”

  1. Can you tell us what first drew you to writing Inspirational Historical Romance?

My first exposure to the genre came when I read Heartsong Presents novels when I was twelve. Those small books introduced me to how much I believe in the power of story, especially love stories set in times gone by.

  1. I saw on your website that you also write reviews, articles and offer editing services. What’s one of your favorite things beyond writing novels that you enjoy?

Editing is such fun! I daresay I enjoy editing a page full of my own (or others’!) words just as much as I enjoy splashing words onto a blank page.

And now for the GIVEAWAY!

silver-faith-hope-love-necklace

Enter using the link below to win a beautiful necklace created by Baubles, Beads, and Stuff and your choice of any one of Rachelle’s three books (the series begins in Book One, of course, but in case you have one or two of her books already, Rachelle will gladly send you the next one to read!).

International friends, the paperback & necklace giveaway is open to continental U.S. addresses only (sorry!). But do still enter, because one international winner will also be chosen to receive an e-book.

Click here to enter!

7 Things I Learned at Disney World

Disney 2016 at Castle

1.   The surface of the sun has got nothing on Orlando. Seriously, I had sweat running down the back of my legs because my bootie was sweating.

2.   Older ladies or men (no discrimination here) in rented scooters navigating through huge crowds is a recipe for disaster. About a dozen times, I narrowly avoided becoming road kill due to these elderly drag racers.

Zach in Disney t-shirt

As a dinosaur fan, I love this!

3.   If Disney puts it on a T-shirt, someone will buy it—like this little beauty I bought for my son.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4.   My children hover too much. They kept stepping on the back of my sandals, causing the Velcro to fly open (painful, yes) and me to literally walk out of my shoes. My mantra became: DO NOT walk behind mom!

5.   The best way to take the fight out of my feisty kids is to dehydrate them, stick them on the surface of the sun (see #1) and force them to walk 20,000 steps per day (thank you fit bit for tracking our torture). They did all of this with surprisingly little complaining for the promise of a 3-minute ride every hour—amazing!

Riley fighting DV at Disney

You get him, baby girl!

6.   Watching your kids in Jedi robes on-stage fighting Darth Vader is truly the BEST thing EVER!! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7.   Walt Disney had it right. Life is so full of responsibility—work, school, cooking, cleaning. We all need to remember how to play, dream and imagine more. It’s good for the soul (at Disney, though, not so good on the bank account).

When was the last time you went to Disney? How was your experience? Tell me what your plans are for the summer to play and relax? 

Dangerous Diet Coke?

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At a conference I recently attended, I sat next to a woman who told me about the terrible side effects of drinking diet soda. I’d honestly never thought much about my love for Diet Coke and how it might be affecting my body. So, I decided to see if she was right (and not just some naturalist espousing the philosophy that I should only drink water and only eat tree bark with a side of seaweed).

Turns out, she might have a good point. Here are some of the results researchers have seen in studies on diet soft drinks.

  • Kidney trouble—processing the chemicals in diet drinks stresses the kidneys. A Harvard Medical School study found that women who drank two or more diet drinks per day doubled the risk of kidney decline. This concerned me because I’m prone to kidney stones already.
  • Metabolic Syndrome—according to a University of Minnesota study, consuming just one diet soda a day puts you at a 34% higher risk of metabolic syndrome (symptoms include belly fat, high cholesterol and higher risks of heart disease).
  • Headaches—most of the evidence on this one is anecdotal, but drinking diet soda has been known to trigger headaches and migraines in susceptible people (some of this may also be due to the caffeine in the soda, not the artificial sweetener).
  • Teeth—all soft drinks are acidic and diet soda is no exception. The citric acid in soda (pH of 3.2, compared to water with a neutral pH of about 7) will weaken and destroy tooth enamel. A case study in the journal General Dentistry compared the mouths of cocaine/methamphetamine users with habitual diet soda drinkers and found similar levels of tooth erosion in both.
  • Bones—the phosphate in diet drinks leaches the calcium out of your bones, putting you at higher risk of osteoporosis and fractures.
  • Type 2 Diabetes/Obesity—this is the big one (pun intended). Drinking diet soda can actually make you gain weight. Researchers have seen these effects but aren’t sure exactly why it happens. The leading theory is that the artificial sweetener in diet soda fools the body into thinking it is sugar, which triggers a flood of insulin to counteract the sugar in the blood stream. This then causes the body to go into fat storage mode, turning anything you eat into fat, plus it makes you more likely to overeat. One study from the University of Texas found that over 10 years, diet soda drinkers had a 70% greater increase in waist circumference when compared with non-diet drinkers.

Whew! That was a long list. Based on all of this, I have started a Diet Coke fast. It’s only been a week and it’s been harder than I thought it would be. Apparently, there’s something in there my body is craving (I don’t think it’s the caffeine because I usually drink caffeine-free diet). But I’m determined to stick with it for at least a month and see how my body feels after that.

How about you? If you’re a diet soda drinker, are you up for fasting with me?

As more research is done on the chemicals in our food and drink, it becomes more obvious to me that what God put down here for us to eat originally are the best things to put in our body—water, fruits, vegetables. I get it. I really do, but I just wish all the other stuff didn’t taste so good.

References: http://www.prevention.com/food/healthy-eating-tips/diet-soda-bad-you/obesity, http://www.foxnews.com/health/2013/10/29/10-reasons-to-give-up-diet-soda/

photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/58596940@N00/273375137″>IMG_0244</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/”>(license)</a>

 

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