Friday, February 18, 2011

Interview with Tina Pinson, author

Welcome, Tina! I have read both of your books, and I am a solid fan. It’s funny how different In the Manor of the Ghost is from Touched by Mercy, and yet how many similarities they share. They are both authentic romances, brimming with redemption, featuring strong, courageous women, and where children play pivotal rolls. Both tugged at my heartstrings with the genuine goodness of your happily ever after endings.

KATHY: If you were to compare Touched by Mercy with a famous movie or two, which ones would they be and why?

TINA: Coming up with movies for this story isn't easy. But here are a few, Oliver Twist, Sound of Music, Bleak House. Allan has touches of Gary Grant, John Wayne, Gregory Peck, Jimmy Steward, Mr. Darcy, and Hoss Cartwright; tall, handsome, strong, funny and gentle and tender. And he's fashioned after Christ and what I believe a real man embodies. He, by being faithful and patient touches the lives of Samantha and Grimes whos lives have been marred by hurt and abuse.
Grimes and the other orphans give it undertones from Oliver Twist. Grimes is fashioned after the Artful Dodger, Tricks is a bit of Oliver, both living in a world with their own Fagin. A man who sounds like he cares for the boys he's supposedly protecting, but merely wants to use them to get what he wants.
The nuns at the Abby in the Sound of Music inspired the actions of the nuns at the orphanage. I see them with humor, gentleness and heart.
As for Samantha, she is somewhat like the Esther in Dickens Bleak House, only because Esther's godmother/aunt like Samantha's stepfather, and perhaps grandmother, make her feel worthless. And leaves her with feelings that she can never be loved. Feelings that Allan wants to erase.

KATHY: Same question for In the Manor of the Ghost.

TINA: I'd have to say, Beauty and the Beast meets Wuthering Heights and Phantom of the Opera put together would depict In the Manor of the Ghost.
Kaitlyn our beauty, weds our beast, Devlin Clayborne in a marriage of convenience and soon finds herself living in Clayborne Manor. The house doesn't sit on the moors, but it is somewhat a dark home, filled with secrets and a resident ghost.

KATHY: Let’s discuss happily ever after. Redemption is a theme we write about, but do you believe in it? I have been a Christian for over thirty years, and I still struggle with believing everything works for the good for those who love God and those who are called according to his purposes. Your books illustrate this scripture in some poetically beautiful ways. How has God shown you some happily ever after moments in your life? How have your books borrowed from these experiences?

TINA: Let me say WOW… Talk about some tough questions. For myself, I'd love to say I have no struggles with belief. But I do. I know everything works for the good to those who love God… I know we are supposed to give thanks in all things… I know we are supposed to count it all joy when we face trials.. I know we are to have an abundant life in Christ. But knowing all these things and living them constantly isn't easy. I too, struggle with the why and wherefores of life. Why do some people have financial problems and others don't? Why do some marriage last and some don't? Why do some people get sick and healed and others don't? Where is that happily ever after life I was supposed to have anyway?
Do I believe in redemption? Yes, I do. I believe God can and does redeem us, and uses us to glorify him even if we've truly failed or turned away in anger. That's what I talk about with Devlin in In the Manor of the Ghost. And Kaitlyn is given the task of breaking down the walls around Devlin's heart and home.
Samantha from Touched By Mercy, looks at the world with distorted vision. Coming from a "Christian Home" where the stepfather was abusive leaves her to wonder if there is a God at all. If so, why would he allow such things to happen? Allan is left to answer those questions and show Sam that God didn't abandon her. I use that he is a carpenter/woodworker, to depict the character of Christ working in our lives.
When I write the answers from Kaitlyn and Allan, it causes me to consider my beliefs. And maybe in some ways, I write them stronger because I know I'm probably more a Devlin or Samantha about then and need the reminder. If that makes sense?

KATHY: It does. Perfect sense. I need constant reminding.

TINA: Writing forces me to look at myself… who I am before Christ. It has helped clear up some of my own fears and misconceptions. Do I still question? Sure, especially when I get hit by something and feel like God stepped out somewhere.
But I have had some happily-ever-afters, although, they come at a price. Sounds like my views are conflicting. Let me explain. When I commit to what God wants, in my relationships and my life, things are, for the most part, better. I say for the most part, because life happens and bad things arise. Also, I tend to focus on the dismal sometimes… which brings me to another point. I can choose to dwell In the Manor of the Ghost, like Devlin, building walls, shutting people out and complaining. Or I can live like Kaitlyn, in faith, believing that no matter what, God is in control and he has a plan. Does that mean that life will always happy? No. Life has hard times, life has sorrow. God didn't say be happy. He said count it all joy.

KATHY: If one of your readers is struggling, say they believe they will never find their one true love, and that they are not worthy of being loved, how do you think Sam, your heroine would answer them?

TINA: The love of your life is already waiting… patiently for you. He made you fearfully and wonderfully. He knew you before you came into being. You are unique. You are lovely. You are fashioned by God's own hand. He loves you so much, he wants to wipe the tears from your eyes. So much, he died for you. When you see your worth through his eyes, and love what he so beautifully created, then you'll taste true love. Then… when, and if, God blesses you with someone to love and share life with on earth as he blessed me with Allan, you'll be able to offer them a true love as well.

KATHY: Beautiful answer, Tina. I couldn’t have said it nearly so beautifully.
And your hero Allan. I LOVED him! I loved how he takes the young man Zeb/Grimes from his past and models masculinity and tenderness to him. Woodworking is a wonderful metaphor you use to show the transformation of a life. Allan is a carpenter like Jesus. He has so many traits of the gentle Carpenter that I felt he was like Jesus with skin. Are there real men out there like him? (I know there are, my husband is one of them, but I want to hear your answer. LOL)

TINA: Yes, real men should emulate Christ in their actions and in the way they love. So should women. I've heard for years about how men should be strong in their homes and keep their wives in line. I always hear about how women should submit to men and lot of times the preceding verse is overlooked… Ephesians 5:21 says Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Some translations say Love.
So the starting point for real love is submitting to each other because of our love and reverence for Christ.
Allan could have pushed and prodded Samantha to see she was way off in her thinking, and that probably would have sent her further into confusion. Instead, he submitted to Christ and loved her toward truth be becoming the example of Christ's love in her life -- a hard task for men who want to fix everything. I think a real man who wants to live for Christ, knows the first step is realizing he can't fix everything, not without Christ working in and through him.
For Christ to work through him, he has give himself up and stop trying to be the big bad macho man. That's tough. That takes a lot more strength and determination in my book though then pounding someone into submission. Does that mean a man shouldn't be the fierce warrior sometimes? No, he has to be fierce, God created him that way.
And a women needs to realize that's ingrained in him, that he has to take a stand. And sometimes I just need to step back and let him handle the battle.
My husband and I used to be at odds over a few things. My writing and singing among them. I felt like he kept trying to hold me back, didn't want me to excel. Didn't want me to do what I felt God was calling me to.
But I could see areas where I wasn't letting him be what God wanted for him either. We finally talked it through and realized that we were putting up blocks out of fear and perhaps envy. Fear that living for God would pull us apart somehow. Kind of dumb in retrospect, but it was there. So we began to pray that God would mold us into the people he wanted us to be and use us how he desired, and things began to change. We began to desire the same things for each other, and we began to see that what God wanted wasn't going to tear us apart. If we followed his desires, they complemented who we were as a couple.
God knew my life had been touched with abuse. Thankfully, I had a father who tried to show God's love. I was afraid I would never find a man in my life to love me, but God blessed me with a gentle, tender and patient husband. As first I couldn't see me submitting, cause I had submitted before and been hurt. But I began to realize it was better for me to not do something if my husband disagreed. I began to find that with his help and encouragement I was moving ahead. And my husband, who had always had a tender heart, grew even more willing to do for me. I know he'd go to ends of the earth for me.

KATHY: Give us an excerpt of Touched my Mercy. I would love to share a taste of your wonderful imagery and clever phrasing and endearing characters with my readers.

TINA: Here's the scene with Allan and Grimes (Zeb) you spoke of. I think it needs little explanation.

"I'll have to admit you certainly had the touch with that cow," Allan chuckled, as he pushed the door to his cabin open a bit later. Actually, the cow had the touch with Zeb. She butted him into a nice, newly laid patty. Allan grabbed a sprig of weed from Zeb's head as he passed. "We'd better get you cleaned up before Sam wonders what you've been up to. You can strip down in there. I'll lay some clothes out for you."
Zeb hesitated. He looked at the back room and back to Allan then peered toward the door. His eyes filled with such fear, Allan expected him to bolt. But the boy stood frozen in the middle of the cabin, clutching his muddied coat to himself as if it were a shield. Shivering. His breathing labored, he gulped and swallowed hard enough his shoulder's lifted plum near to his chin. Allan was tempted to feel his head for horns.
He needed to console the boy and started forward only to stop when Zeb flinched and held his breath. His terror-filled eyes all but took up his face, saying more than Allan could bear to hear. Allan stepped back and managed a smile instead. "You go ahead and get cleaned up. Don't want Sam getting a whiff of you. I'll be out in the shed when you're done," having said his piece, he backed to the door and slipped out.
He wasn't surprised when the bolt slipped into the latch a short time after. Stepping into the shed, he gulped back a few fears of his own. He had an idea why the boy had those nightmares now. While he thanked the Lord for the insight, he slumped his shoulders in disgust. And hated being a man.
Allan was taking his frustrations out on a sturdy piece of cherry wood when Zeb found the courage to join him. Allan heard him come up. He stood near the door, afraid and uncertain. Allan kept on with his work, waiting for the boy to make whatever move he decided. He hoped he'd make it soon, because the warmth from the stove was rapidly evaporating, and cool air from the open door behind him took its place. Allan decided he'd freeze if he had to, but he wouldn't scare that boy no more.
"What ya doing?" Zeb whispered.
Allan glanced up then back to the wood, the boy stayed on the edge of his sight. With deft fingers he cut at the design. "Making a chair for my niece."
"Oh," Zeb replied. He reared up ever so slightly on the balls of his feet to get a better look. He looked about the room. "You make this stuff?"
"Yep," Allan replied, his eyes on his work. One more decisive nip with the chisel and with a stroke on the wood -- a gentle stroke he hoped Zeb hadn't missed -- he laid it aside. "Would you care to learn?" He met the boy's gaze.
Zeb shrugged nonchalantly, slipped his hands his the back pocket of his britches. "Don't know."
Allan brushed the flakes of chiseled wood to the edge of the table and caught them in his open hand. Dumping it in the bucket by his leg, he grabbed another piece of the chair and lay it before him. "It takes a lot of care and time, but I'd be willing to teach you."
The boy hesitated. Did he wonder if Allan would want something in return? Allan could almost hear the wheels in the boy's head spinning with the question. He wasn't sure how to placate the boy's fear. "I can show you, and whatever you make will be yours."
"Mine?" the boy whispered reverently. His eyes filled with renewed interest.
"Yours… you won't have to give me anything in return except your undivided attention when I teach you." Allan assured him. "Well?" Trust me, boy, Allan's heart cried out. It smiled when the boy closed the door and came, ever so slowly, to his side.
"Just my attention?"
Allan nodded. "I don't have to ask you to do your best." The boy's lips curled with hesitancy. It was a start, Allan decided. A small victory. He had only to be patient to win the war. "We'll start here." Allan pointed to a pile of wood.
Zeb seemed baffled. He tucked his hands deep in the pockets of the britches he'd borrowed from Allan. His brows furrowed.
Allan grinned. "I suppose, if you're like most boys, the only thing you know about wood piles is the discipline you received behind them."
Zeb snickered.
"We'll just help you see it from another perspective." Allan knelt by the pile. "Before we make any cuts or designs, we pick our wood." Allan lifted a small piece of oak from the pile and ran his fingers along the grain. "My father told me every piece of wood has a design in it. Like God put it there. You've got to get to know the wood, feel the texture..." It hurt for Allan to remember his father. His words were strong in his head as he studied the wood, remembering days in the woodshop under his father's instruction. Allan stood and held the oak out.
Zeb touched it with hesitant hands. He met Allan's eyes. "It's feels kind of warm. What's in this piece?"
Allan shrugged and suspired long. "I've been wondering that for a long time. Every now and then, I get a hankering to carve it, but I don't have a feel for the design in it. Maybe you do." Allan placed it in the boy's hand. As Zeb cradled it, Allan stepped around the table and picked up his chisel. "You get acquainted with that piece and, when you're ready, we can draw whatever you feel." He started on his chair again, aware of the boy who stared at a lump of wood beside him.
That's what you must do, son, the voice of his heart whispered. Try the wood, feel the textures, and chisel away the layers that have hidden the beauty for so long.
It will take some time. The layers are deep.
Yes, and it will hurt, but you must take care. You must remind him that I love him. Remind him that he is not alone. With patience and love, the design will come forth. With patience and care, a child will be whole again.

"Yes," Allan whispered. Taking his smallest chisel, he cut at the intricate design of the budding rose, wondering when the boy would shed his fears. Wondering when Sam would shed hers. Wondering how fragrant the blossomed rose would be. He had an itch to push the progress along with both of them but had learned from experience the cuts had to be made painstakingly slow. Otherwise, the design could be marred and ruined.
Painstakingly slow was killing him.

KATHY: Thank you, Tina. As always, it is fun hanging out with you and sharing your heart with others through story.

For more information on Tina, Touched by Mercy and In the Manor of the Ghost, please visit:
My website --
Purchase my books at:
Desert Breeze Bookstore.
Touched By Mercy
In the Manor of the Ghost

Touched By Mercy
In the Manor of the Ghost

Barnes & Noble
Touched By Mercy—
In the Manor of the Ghost

Christian Books Distributors
Touched By Mercy –
In the Manor of the Ghost

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lady in the Mist by Laurie Alice Eakes

Cinematic. Atmospheric. Sweeping. These descriptors are usually reserved for theatrical presentations, but I found Laurie Alice Eake’s novel Lady in the Mist brimming with these very qualities.
With writing that was insightful, intuitive, almost clairvoyant, Lady in the Mist enraptured me with a beautiful story of discovery, shame, loss, betrayal, hope, faith, and love’s redemption. Laurie Alice Eakes stands shoulder to shoulder with the greats with her deeply moving romance featuring Tabitha Eckles, a midwife caught in the middle of local and international crosscurrents, and Dominick Cherrett, an exiled Lord seeking restoration from disgrace.
Ms. Eakes’ romantic savoir-faire evoked the bittersweet beauty of falling in love in the most unaccommodating circumstance and choosing that love, defying reason, and risking all. She enlists deepest passion while maintaining the utmost purity in her writing, and then raises the stakes with conspiracy, suspense, and a plot that unfolds with increasing intensity.
Few novels have inspired my imagination as this one has. Set in coastal Virginia in 1809, the tale is told with beautiful imagery, historic detail that shimmers like gemstone, and with a soul that transcends time and place to deliver a powerful, emotional experience and a poignant message of grace.
This novel is the first in The Midwives series, setting the stage for more turbulence leading up to the War of 1812, and no doubt, more epic romance.

purchase your own here

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Writing Sabattical

November brought a big silent pause to my life. Even more than the busyness of Christmas preparation, and the need to find a job outside the home for the first time in a decade, I found that rejections and disappointments had sapped my desire to write. I was ready to call it quits.
My devoted friends and critique partners all encouraged me, but there was no returning in my mind. I said goodbye to a few writing groups, including an invaluable critique group full of very talented and dear folks. I would have left the rest, too, except I found my time consumed to the point of being unable to go online to do so. I grieved the loss of more years than I could count writing. I wondered what had it all been for?
I thrust myself into my retail job, working 38 hour weeks and desperately trying to keep up on my kids' homework and my housework, all the while dying to my dearest dreams and deepest desires. It was over, and I couldn't figure out why. Had God told me I was done, or had fatigue?
Then January came after the Christmas rush and my hours slackened off at work. I could breathe again. I dreamed a new story and woke to write it down in detail. I wanted to write, and the grief was gone.
My friends were right. God hadn't given me a moratorium, He had given me a sabbatical. And my head is clear enough again to love weaving words and story once again.
Thank you, John, Debbie Lynne, Leann, Suzie H, Suzanne C, Scribes 213, Barb, Tina P, crazy-hair Diane, MaryAlice, Nancy, Payton, Matt, Tracy, James, Gordon, Grace, Linore, Melanie, Laurie Alice, and my countless friends in this crazy writing world. You have all blessed and touched my life with your courage and tenacity.

Some words to ponder by a great Christian music artist, Jason Upton

No Sacrifice

To you I give my life, not just the parts I want to
To you I sacrifice these dreams that I hold on to

Your thoughts are higher than mine
Your words are deeper than mine
Your love is stronger than mine
This is no sacrifice
Here's my life

To you I give the gifts
Your love has given me
How can I hoard the treasures that you've designed for free?

Your thoughts are higher than mine
Your words are deeper than mine
Your love is staronger than mine
This is no sacrifice
Here's my life

To you I give my future
As long as it may last
To you I give my present
To you I give my past

Your thoughts are higher than mine
Your words are deeper than mine
Your love is stronger than mine
Your thoughts are higher than mine
Your words are deeper than mine
Your love is stronger than mine
This is no sacrifice
Here's my life