Holding On: an inspirational romance (Love Blooms at Bethel Book 1) by Deborah Heal
A modern retelling of the Old Testament story of Ruth—a sweet romance about courage, loyalty, and second chances.When Julia passes through the small town of Coldwater, driving her screeching pickup with her mother-in-law and everything she owns in the RV they’re towing, all she wants is to get Helen settled on what’s left of the family farm and hurry back to civilization.
Julia’s still mourning her husband, and so romance is the last thing on her mind. But whenever Neil Ashe shows up, the attraction between them flares—even though his divorce has left him leery of city women, and she’s not interested in muscle-bound farmers, no matter how handsome they may be.
Julia soon realizes she’s going to have to stick around to help Helen hold on to her forty-acres because someone is after them. Besides, how could she leave her mother-in-law to the tender mercies of the legalistic bullies who have taken over Bethel Church? They pick at Helen like Job’s “friends,” telling her God has cursed her. Why else would her husband and both sons die in tragic accidents?
Julia is determined to deal with everything on her own, just as she’s been doing ever since Lucas died. But Neil thinks it’s his job to make all their problems go away. Will Julia stubbornly go it alone, holding on to both her pride and the memory of her husband, or will she ask Neil to come to the rescue—and into her heart?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
I was born in Eldorado, Illinois (Be sure to pronounce that with a long A.) but grew up in Woodburn, a tiny village in Macoupin County. We lived in a house over 100 years old and I often wondered about the people who had lived there so long before.
My husband Bob and I farmed and raised a family there in Macoupin County. When the kids were old enough I went back to college, majoring in English with a minor in Creative Writing. Afterwards, I taught high school English, including creative writing, composition, grammar, and literature. I loved teaching young people, except for grading compositions of writers who didn't want to write, leaving me no time to do what I had always wanted to do—write.
I remember one time when I was four. I scribbled furiously on my paper, and then took it to show Mommy. “Is it writing?” I asked. “No, not yet,” she answered. I went busily back to scribbling with my stubby pencil in just the same way, it seemed to me, grownup writers did, hopeful that the next time I showed her, the lead on the paper would have been transmuted into fine words.
I was in 8th grade when I first began to get the dream of being a published author. We had to write a story and mine was a scary one about being unjustly confined to a mental hospital. (The author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest may have stolen my idea.) My teacher wrote on the top of my paper:
Be sure to give me a signed copy of your first book!
It's been a long time since 8th grade, but that dream at last came true with my first book Time and Again.
MY INTERVIEW with DEBORAH HEAL:
You were raised in an interesting community. What was special about it?
You know how it is. The place you grow up is special to you, whether it is to anyone else or not. Woodburn is only a tiny unincorporated village—a bump in the road, a very small road at that. But I learned from reading the county history books in our library that it once had been a thriving little town. Abraham Lincoln actually delivered a political speech there in 1840 and visited it and other villages in the area on more than occasion, including the now defunct Miles Station, the setting for my first book Time and Again.
I love Historical places!
You used part of this area as the foundation for your Time series. What led you to use the different areas in your books?
They tell you to write about what you know, so that’s what I did. I didn’t feel competent to write about the big sweeping topics, such as the Civil War or the life of Abraham Lincoln. So I zeroed my lens in on the small topics that no one else was writing about. Every little town or village has plenty of history worthy of being retold. And most of it is, or should be, universally relevant to readers everywhere. Even so, I’m amazed that I have readers in the UK, Australia, Canada, and even India.
I think, not so unlike us who are interested in areas of other countries...
You taught High School for many years. Have there been instances when you implemented this experience in creating individuals or script in your books? If so, give a few examples. If not, from where do you get the inspiration to create the characters and dialogues?
I believe everything I have experienced, every person I have known, makes an impact on my writing to one degree or another. I can’t think of anything specific from my high school classes that appeared in any of my novels. However, several characters in my short stories were inspired by real people and events in my own life. I give those stories away free to anyone who subscribes to my newsletter. You can find out how to do that on www.deborahheal.com.
Quite a few people I have known outside the classroom are the inspiration for various characters in my books. I find it quite cathartic to make mean, nasty people into the villains of my stories. Naturally, I change the names to protect the innocent!
We never know what we say or do will be reflected in places we would never anticipate!
Your first three mysteries had an element of genealogy & time travel in them. The second series, ‘Rewinding time’ -which I unfortunately didn’t get the opportunity to read – continued with the same genre, correct? At least one of these were based on the Trail of Tears. I truly would like to read them one day soon. This is such a toughing event in history. Tell us a little about the content of this series.
Yes, the Rewinding Time Series actually has even more of a genealogical theme. Eleven-year-old Merrideth from the trilogy is now all grown up and a history professor at a small college. She uses the same amazing software to virtually rewind time in order to see the past as it really was--Something I’ve always personally dreamed of doing—both for her historical research and her sideline genealogy business.
Each of the five novels in the Rewinding Time Series deals with a different historical event in various small southern Illinois towns. Book one tells the story—or rather one small part of the story--of some of the earliest pioneers to the Illinois Country in the 1790s. Book two deals with the heartbreaking story of the Cherokee Trail of Tears as it pertains to their cold, miserable journey through southern Illinois. Book three is about river pirates on the Ohio River who preyed on pioneers coming down the river on flatboats. Book four imagines what it was like when Charles Dickens visited the small town of Lebanon, Illinois during his tour of America. And finally book five tells about the building of the largest collection of Sears catalog houses in the world in Carlinville, Illinois.
I am certain I would enjoy them every bit as much as I enjoyed you "Time" series!
This newest book - Holding On – is a slightly different genre. Tell us how it is different and will it be part of a series or a “stand alone”.
While the other books have an element of romance in them, Holding On is my first all out Christian romance. It is book one in a three-book series called Love Blooms at Bethel and is a retelling of the biblical story of Ruth and Boaz, which I always thought was totally romantic. The over arching theme of the series is about the struggles in a church between those who try to live by grace and the hypocrites who want everyone to live by their man made rules. Nothing pleases me more than when reviewers say Holding On is more substantive than most typical romances. I did try to make it so.
Yes, that is one of my favorite Old Testament stories, as well.
What is you next “big project”?
I’m working on the second in the series, Two Hearts Waiting. It is set in the same small town and church and some of the earlier characters reappear, but the main character is new. Life keeps interrupting me, but I hope to have it done mid-year.
Within the next five years, what goals would you like to have fulfilled?
God willing, I’d like to write a stand alone romance about a very interesting Scottish ancestor of mine who ended up a slave in the sugar plantations of Barbados. And I plan to write a children’s story for each of my five grandchildren. Two are already written and just need to be illustrated. It’s very fun and satisfying to give them such a gift.
That all sounds so exciting!
Thank you Deborah for this interview and for your generous donation of Holding On to the Lucky Winner of this Giveaway! (U.S./Can Winner will receive a Print Copy, otherwise an International Winner will receive an e-copy)
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