Saturday, August 10, 2013

Next Page… with Ann Gabhart and BlogTraveler Deb

An Interview with Christian inspirational fiction novelist, Ann Gabhart

Ann Gabhart
I opened my local Christian bookstore magazine a few weeks ago, only to see a notation beside your latest release, Small Town Girl. -“Available in JULY!!” - It was rather exciting to know this book was coming out this summer. I bet you have been busy and stoked. You are also celebrating the re-release and new covers of your first book set, The Hollyhill Series. I was drawn to your Hollyhill series first after picking one up at the library and got consumed in the drama between the romance and life issues of the characters. You will notice I’m gonna ask a lot of questions about Jocie and all her compadres. 

But first, to get started, please share with your readers (and those soon to join you and your characters on their life journeys!) a little bit about YOUR journey the last few months…

A - The last few months have been a little crazy for me. I had a July 1 deadline for my third Rosey Corner book, Love Comes Home. I struggled with the story. I always struggle with the story at some point in a book, but each time it happens it’s like it never happened before. Each time I decide what I’m writing is never going to work. LOL. This story was a little harder to write, not through any fault of my characters, but because of my limited writing time. My mother suffers from dementia. For three years, my sister and I and a couple of caregivers have been taking turns sitting with her around the clock. In the beginning, I could take my computer and get some work done while I was at her house. Now, she’s often agitated and upset and determined to “go home” even though she’s already at home. That makes it difficult to do anything writing related while I’m with her unless she’s sleeping. Funny, I guess that’s how I started writing – while my babies took naps. So in ways I guess I’ve come full circle in having to figure out ways to carve out enough hours in the day to get my writing done.  But staying with Mom is nothing like taking care of babies. It’s often stressful and always sad to see a woman who was always ready to help and ready to love and ready to be independent and take care of herself become so confused and unhappy. So for the last few months, my mantra has been “How much time do I have?” To get this or that done. To try to write a few more pages. To get the laundry done and the meals cooked for my husband. To see my grandkids. That’s one of the saddest parts for me. Not enough hours to see my grandkids as much as I’d like. They grow up so quickly. 

Now Available at!
 To make things even a little crazier, we built a room on the house and had new flooring laid in the kitchen and bath while I was racing toward my deadline. Well, we hired it done, but there’s still so much to clean out and move and decide on. In the middle of that, one of the workers ran over my dog, Oscar, and broke his leg. I love my dog, so we rushed him to the vet where he had to have surgery. Then he had a long recovery time of only being walked with a leash.
But I did get the story written after asking for a two week extension on my deadline. While I was feverishly hunting the words “the end,” my book, Small Town Girl, was poised to be released. That meant time to talk about it on my social sites, to send out a newsletter, to visit some blogs, and to host a few  giveaways. Plus, during that time I took a trip to St. Louis to the International Christian Retailers Show where I was privileged to meet so many wonderful people who are keeping Christian bookstores open and others in the publishing business who love Christian books. I gave away books right and left. So the last few months were crazy, but a lot of good things happened. I even got to see my grandkids now and again, and Oscar is back running and playing like the good dog he is. 

Those are hard things to go through. I will keep you in my prayers about the path you are currently walking and pray that you receive much strength from Jesus as He walks every step beside you. I am sure your Christian readers do, and will also continue to pray for you as well.

Q – Speaking of Christian readers, those who have followed your books since 2005 should know you have three separate series of books. Plus you have a few single titles. Have you embarked on a new possible series, perhaps? With Angels at the Crossroads? 

A- Angels at the Crossroads is not part of a series. In fact, it is the only nonfiction book I’ve ever
Get it now on!
written or plan to write, although I do toy with the idea of a devotional book now and again. Angels at the Crossroads is the life testimony story of a friend of mine. My husband sings in a Southern gospel quartet, the Patriot Quartet, and Jerry was the tenor in that group for a number of years. When he was a young person, Jerry had struggles with self worth. He got messed up with drugs and alcohol and went down some wrong roads. On one of those roads, he killed a man and was sentenced to prison for the crime. Angels at the Crossroads is the story of how the Lord put people in Jerry’s pathway while he was in prison to help him find the right roads back to the life he should have been living all along. When he was released from prison after serving part of his sentence, he promised the Lord he would tell his story wherever and whenever the Lord gave him the opportunity in order to perhaps keep other young people from making the same mistakes he had made. He often thought about writing his testimony down, but wasn’t gifted with the ability to write the story. Then the Patriots started traveling to their concerts in a big old bus and when I was able to go along with them, I kept hearing more of Jerry’s story until I felt the Lord was telling me to write down his amazing story of love and forgiveness. The story didn’t find a traditional publisher, so I self-published it. I had promised Jerry that if he let me tell his story, I would see that it got in print one way or another. That book has been a blessing to many. But no, it will never be a series. 

However, if things go well with an idea down the road, I may be writing a new series. Not sure enough of that to talk about it yet, but I have hope for the idea. And who knows? Maybe I’ll revisit Hollyhill or Rosey Corner again. Those characters have more living to do. For my next book, tentatively titled The Innocent, I’ll be going back to my Shaker village of Harmony Hill. So there are series all around. 

Wow. Non-fiction. This is why BT Deb should never judge a book by its cover! That sounds very interesting. I will be reading that one (Angels at the Crossroads) next. It is a passion of mine to seek out the many ways God can take each of our lives and make something beautiful out of something that is altogether terrible. I am thankful for the redemption He has brought to my life and close friends around me.

Now, going back to our first discussion…
The latest from the Rosey Corner Series just released this July. I started to read it. It opens with a wedding. It was reminiscent of the wedding at the end of your Hollyhill Series. You have a way as an author to get your characters into outlandish weddings. Humorous at times, and suspenseful at others. 

Q- Was your wedding a wild one? Or, is this just due to your active wild Kentucky imagination?
A - I suppose it’s mostly my wild Kentucky imagination. I got married at a very young age, seventeen, but we did marry in a church, the same little country church I still attend. I was very nervous, but then when I was standing in front of the preacher, who was a second cousin to my husband, I noticed he seemed even more nervous than I was. He was an older man who had married dozens of couples, but his hands were shaking so much, I thought he might drop his Bible. Then he asked me if I took “Dallas” as my husband. And I said I did. The only problem with that is my husband’s name is Darrell. His sister’s name is Dallas. I was too timid to correct the preacher when he said the wrong name and I guess my groom was too. The marriage license has the right names, so I think we’re still legally married. It’s made a great story to tell through the years, so maybe my wedding was a wild one, after all.

Speaking of which. The Hollyhill books (the first book set in a long time for me, that I have adjusted my busy schedule around to ensure that I completed reading their stories, fyi. BlogTraveler fans, Don’t judge. ;-)  ) have been brought back with all new covers. I finished reading the last Hollyhill book last week and was ever curious as to whether or not David’s ex wife was going to live.

Q- Do you plan to revive the plots at all for any continuations? 

A - I have some ideas for the future of those characters, but at this time, there are no plans for a third Hollyhill book.

Q - Do you think there is still room for a redemption plot for Adrienne in the 1960’s-era novels?

A - I sometimes think Adrienne might have a miracle cure that could turn her entire life around, but other times I’m not sure that would happen. However, either way, there could be room and time for Adrienne to find the Lord.  That’s the way plotting a novel can be. Many roads stretching out in front of you with twists and turns that you can’t see coming until you're actually following your characters along those pathways. 

In the Hollyhill books, I also noticed themes of redemption, teen pregnancy and other small town church family scandals. 

Q - Would you say that most of your books are geared for teens and young adults? 

A - Not at all. These books were definitely not geared to teens or young adults in spite of Jocie being a young viewpoint character. Young people have read and enjoyed the books, but they were written for adult readers. I did write eleven young adult or middle reader chapter books before I began writing for the Christian market. Those books, mostly published in the 1980’s and '90's, were coming of age stories. I enjoyed writing for young people, but my last twelve or thirteen books published in the Christian market are marketed for adult readers. It’s a bonus if young people like them too.  

Q- Why did you choose the setting of the 1960’s in this original set of your books?

The first of 3 in the Heart of Hollyhill series!
A - Before I wrote Scent of Lilacs, I had experienced a long dry spell in publishing. My stories were no longer selling to the general market publishers. So I decided to write one more book. I wouldn’t worry about markets or sales. I went back to that basic writing advice to write what you know. What I knew was small towns and country living. I picked the 1960’s because I remembered those years well from my younger days. It was a time of innocence but also of change and upheaval with the Vietnam War and Civil Rights Movement.   

Q - What is it like to be re-issuing a book series? 

A - I am very pleased that the publishers are re-issuing the Heart of Hollyhill books. I loved Jocie and her family while I was writing their stories and I’m blessed to see them back on the store shelves for new readers.

Moving along…
For those readers out there who like to read and collect all of your books, let’s provide a list of all your works. (Hyperlinks take you to information on Ann’s website about the books). 

The Shaker Books: The Gifted, The Blessed, The Seeker, The Believer, The Outsider

The Heart of Hollyhill Series: Scent Of Lilacs, Orchard Of Hope, Summer Of Joy

Rosey Corner Series: Angel Sister, Small Town Girl

Words Spoken True

Angels at the Crossroads


Interesting enough, your character Jocie, has a blog.  Jocie is one of the female leads in Gabhart’s Heart of Hollyhill book series. I find this very intriguing that she continues her “behind-the-book” life daily, paralleling our seasons with hers, in the ‘60’s, while we live here in the present, reading about her adventures. Jocie can be found at:
Q - Why did you choose to give her a voice outside the books in this manner?

A - I’m not sure how much longer Jocie will continue reporting from Hollyhill. I thought it would be fun to have her continue on the story of Hollyhill’s people with new bits about the town that might make readers remember when. In Scent of Lilacs, Jocie and Wes talk about writing a book about the strange goings on in Hollyhill, but when Jocie sat down to begin writing it, she found out it was more a book of the ordinary. I just started it for fun and to help promote the Heart of Hollyhill books being re-issued. I may continue it for a while if Jocie's blog picks up more followers. 

And YOU can do something about that, readers! Visit Jocie’s blog today!!!

And finally. The BlogTraveler Five. The five questions asked to everyone I interview…
Q – In 5 words or less, who/what is your target audience/reader base, now?

*      Readers who like good stories.

Q- What is the mission of your book ministry? 

*      I hope my stories entertain, encourage and empower readers.

Q- You have been publishing books since 2005. What responses have you gotten thus far, and what result would you want to see happen to the readers of your books? (5 yrs, 10 yrs, tomorrow?)

*      I’ve actually been publishing books much longer than that. My first book was published in the general market in 1978. My first inspirational fiction novel was published in 2005. Over the years, I’ve received many encouraging comments from readers and friends. When my first books were published those reader comments came by mail. Now e-mail and the social media sites make it very easy to communicate with and get to know writers. One of those e-mails I remember well was in regard to Orchard of Hope. A reader said reading that story caused her to rededicate her life to Christ. Other readers have shared that this or that mention of a Bible verse or story has sent them to the Bible to learn more about it.

I don’t know that my desire for response to my stories would change from today to tomorrow or years down the road. I still want to tell a good story that will make readers identify with the characters and share their challenges and in the process be encouraged in their own spiritual journeys.

Q- What’s your life Bible scripture right now?

*      I’ve always had difficulty picking just one Scripture verse, but right now I do think about  these two about strength as I deal with the hard issues of my mother’s illness. 2 Corinthians 12:9. “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” And  Philippians 4:13. “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Both verses are from the New King James Bible.

Q- Who is Jesus to you?

*      Savior, friend, Lord.


Q – For those interested, you can be found on the following social media links. Have you any others?

A - Yes.  
Get connected, folks! :) 
Q - Are you currently working on another book or books? That’s what I thought I was catching from your Twitter page… I noticed “Christmas at Harmony Hill” was just announced on your website.  A continuation in your Shaker book series?…Give the readers a preview about your September 1860’s-era release. 

A- Christmas at Harmony Hill is a first for me. I’d never written a Christmas novella before and wasn’t sure I’d be able to come up with a Shaker Christmas book, but I think the story turned out very well. Here’s Revell’s catalog copy for the book. 
      “It is 1864 and the nation is still torn apart by civil war when Heather Worth discovers she is with child. She has been working as a laundress with her husband’s army unit, but when the army gets orders to march south to Tennessee, Gideon insists Heather go home to have their child under safer conditions. Heather agrees, but returns home to another kind of devastation – deaths in the family and a father who refuses to forgive her for marrying a Yankee. With nowhere else to turn, Heather seeks refuge at the Shaker village of Harmony Hill where her great aunt Sophrena lives. There, after many peaceful years at Harmony Hill, Sophrena is having doubts about her Shaker path. Both women are in need of love and forgiveness – whether given or received. With Christmas coming, can the miracle of new life fill their hearts with unexpected joy?”
eBook Available 9/15/13 at!
The story is set in my Shaker village of Harmony Hill, but it's a stand-alone story. I do pull over a character, Sophrena, from my last book, The Gifted, but it's not a continuation of that story. More of an additional story about Sophrena who was the Shaker journalist in The Gifted.

Interesting. So it is more of an off-shoot. Multiple stories that intertwine with already established characters intrigue me. This is why I fancy Marvel Universe. I aspire to progress my screenwriting to such heights as your novels and novellas. Another book of yours I, and other Gabhart readers, will be looking forward to for sure. 

Q - So, Ann, give us a timeline of what to look for in the months ahead. Releases, new covers and such…

A - Christmas at Harmony Hill is scheduled to release on September 15. Then Orchard of Hope, the second title in my Heart of Hollyhill series will be re-issued with a new cover in October. The third Hollyhill book, Summer of Joy, will come out in March 2014. Of course, my book, Small Town Girl, was just released in July. It continues the lives of the characters in Angel Sister, but both books can be read as stand-alone stories although I hope, of course, that once you visit Rosey Corner, you’ll want to read all the stories about the Merritt family there. The third Rosey Corner book, Love Comes Home, will be out next summer.   

Q- In closing, is there anything else, new, that we haven’t covered? Or, would you like to say something special to your readers?

A - My readers are special and I appreciate each one of them. I’ve never wanted to be tied to just writing one type of book the way some in the publishing industry expect writers to do these days. So I’ve very much appreciated my readers giving my different types of books a try from my small town family stories to my Shaker books to my historical romance set in 1855 Louisville. I even dedicated that book, Words Spoken True, to those readers. “To my readers who have followed my story trail from Hollyhill to Harmony Hill to Rosey Corner and now Louisville.” And now I’ve gone back to Rosey Corner and Harmony Hill. So many wonderful paths to take as a writer and as a reader. Thank you all.
Gabhart at a book fair with grandkids ~ November 2011
**Readers, Please do keep Ann and her family in your prayers for God’s gentile hand of peace and strength throughout this time. **
Well, now you’ve seen it, readers. The past, the present and the… “Next Page” in the life of fiction novelist, Ann Gabhart’s book plans. Be sure to find her books available at,, and everywhere that Christian and fiction drama novels are sold! 

Books covers, and author photos courtesy of Ann H. Gabhart and Revell Books.
And this has been Next Page with BlogTraveler Deb and Ann Gabhart! 
Tune in next time on this same Blog Page for something else! Very awesome I’m sure! 

Chatta’ Latta!
BlogTraveler Deb 

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Deborah Ruth Dickson. Hence, the "dr" in @drdickson1 is on Twitter! "BlogTraveler Deb" has done interviews with independent Christian artists, authors and screen writers for her blog. She also spends her free time perfecting her unpublished Christian-genre lifestyle books, novels & screenplays.   

Artists include: Bryan Duncan, Mali Korsten, Dan Macaulay, Christopher ShawnShaw, John Tibbs, Fourfold, Jerry T-Wack and more in the works!