Meet author Joan C Benson

Joan C Benson is a wife, mother, grandmother, and author/speaker. She has been writing professionally for over thirty years, in addition to her career as an educator, serving primarily as a reading specialist. Her debut historical fiction novel was released in 2020. She has been published in multiple Christian magazines including LifeWay’s “ParentLife,” and Regent University’s “The Christian Leader.” She has published devotional writings on CBN.com. Joan also wrote children’s ministry curriculum for LifeWay Publishing.

Tell us about your newest book.

His Gift is historical fiction based on a true event in my mother’s life as a teen growing up at the cusp of The Great Depression. I was able to travel to her home in Royal Oak, MI, and did major research of the era and location for the setting. The nugget of the story conflict centers on the main character winning an audition to play the Rachmaninoff Concerto #2 with the Detroit Symphony. Molly, who was a senior in high school in the fall of 1929, was a gifted pianist with big dreams to concertize and travel the world. Though the book reveals her tender first love relationship with a good-natured boy named Jack, her main sights are to advance her dream of professional music. When the stock market crashes, her dream is threatened when her family has to move to Chicago, and even sell her beloved piano.

What inspired you to write His Gift?

His Gift was inspired from reading my mother’s diaries after she passed away. Through those short entries, I was able to imagine her as a young woman, hear her voice, and feel her heartbeat of aspiration and desperation when her world turned upside. I wanted to write the story because I felt it would enlighten anyone who had dared to dream and found themselves disappointed. Where was God in her turmoil? How did she reconcile her faith in a loving God despite her loss? The timing of the release of His Gift seems Providential as we have struggled with losses in the world-wide pandemic of 2020.

How would you describe this book to someone?

Brace yourself for a thrilling race through the twists and turns of a young woman determined to see her dream come true. On the cusp of the stock market crash of 1929, seventeen-year-old Molly has aspirations for a career in music after high school. With the passion of an athlete preparing for the Olympics, she trains relentlessly to become the best she can be.

As her world collapses in unimaginable ways, she is left to find peace and purpose in the midst of her crisis. The message of His Gift is universal to anyone who has ever dared to dream in spite of uncontrollable circumstances. The reader will discover with Molly, the hope and peace in a life when yielded to the Giver of all gifts.

What genre do you focus on?

I am currently working on a new contemporary fiction novel, so historical fiction is not my sole focus. I knew I had to share the story of His Gift, and it is obviously historically based. Though His Gift has a late teen main character, I have had great reviews from adults of all ages so I believe it is a book which transcends the classification of YA/NA to adult readers.

Why do you write?

I love to write to encourage people in their faith and give them hope … all ages of people. I love historical fiction because it provides an emotional and relational connection when facts don’t. However, I mostly am driven to write about things about which I feel passionate. My new novel is about the value of life, all lives.

Who is your main character, and how did you choose that name?

My main character is Molly, and I chose the name because my mother was Mildred/Milly. I had trouble creating my fictional character when I tagged her Milly! It seemed like I didn’t have the leeway to flesh out this character when I used my mom’s true name. It was kind of funny, actually, and I had family members tell me I should have named the character Milly. I considered changing the name back to Milly after the novel was finished, but by then, I was in love with “my Molly.”

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing a book?

Because I still do contract work, my schedule is not consistent, but erratic. At the end of a contract writing day, my creative juices are spent. So, I work it in when my schedule is slack, or I am not writing for someone else.

What is the hardest part of being an author?

For me, it is discipline to finish, and faith to believe you can do the job you feel you’ve been called to do. I found myself stuffing my manuscript back in the drawer many times without believing anyone would find it worthy of publishing. His Gift is historical fiction, which I was told is not popular as a genre these days. I also was told “Nobody would like to read about The Great Depression.” Honestly, God kept opening windows and doors that I kept shutting. I also find marketing and the heavy load social media plays to be daunting. Yet, I persevere.

What’s the best part of your author’s life?

My favorite parts of being an author are the creativity and being able to work from home. I love being able to invent the outcome of events in my characters’ lives. As you know, we can’t do that in real time, so it gives an author freedom and a measure of control we don’t often experience. I tend to be a home lover, and working from my own space on my own time is a joy. My two little Bichon Frisé pups sleep under my corner desk as I work, and my husband has his own computer desk in the same office. I find it very pleasant and peaceful to all be cozy in our space without the demands of the greater outside world intruding.

What’s one unusual fact about you?

I have four adopted now-grown children: a son and daughter adopted as infants, and two sons adopted at age twelve. I am also the stepmom of two lovely daughters. We have a total of eight precious grandkids from 26 to 8 years old. Sadly, they live in four different states, scattered from the east coast to the west coast.

How have you changed or grown as a writer?

I believe God once planted the seed of destiny to write in my life when I was a young child. I crafted a little booklet when I was about eight called, “The Keys of Gold,” referring to our Christian faith. Now as a grandmother, I believe He has called me to write His stories to a greater audience. My mechanical craft has improved through many years of educational writing projects, so now I can better glorify God and allow the creativity to flow.

What is your favorite pastime?

I have too many “favorites”—spending time with my family, walking at the beach, sunsets, music, swimming, reading, writing!

Do you have other books? We’d love to know.

My other books are trade books for children which were published for the educational market. There are many more, but two of these are on my Amazon author site:

A Woman of Action: Jane Addams (SRA/McGraw Hill- 2008 ASN: B003Y2QDTI)

The Unsigned Oath (McGraw Hill 2008 ISBN 978-0076087501

What are you working on now?

My contemporary fiction novel with a working title of Eva’s Choice. Having served as an advocate for our pregnancy resource center for a few years, I have many stories in my mind and heart. This first one is about my fictional Eva, who has a most difficult decision to make. She knows the consequences will be painful to someone she loves. What will she decide and can she find healing and hope?

Website:

https://www.joancbenson.com

Link to book:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/1649490305/

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/his-gift-joan-c-benson/1137413827?ean=9781649490308

Social media links: https://www.facebook.com/YIHAVEHOPE

Twitter: https://twitter.com/11Ccaj4life

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/joancbenson/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/20555254.Joan_C_Benson

Blog: www.bensonjj.wordpress.com

 

 

The Strauss’s on the Titanic

In October, I had the chance to visit the Titanic Museum in Cobh, Ireland while I spent the month with my family in Ireland and Scotland. It was an epic trip, and visiting the museum was a highlight, especially since I wrote about two of its passengers in my latest novella, Reagan’s Reward.

Nathan Strauss, brother of Isidor and Ida Strauss, owned one of the cottages adjoining Casa Blanca, on Cherry Island, setting for Reagan’s Reward. If you recall the elderly couple in the movie Titanic lying in bed as the freezing water filled their stateroom—that was Isidor and Ida Strauss!

Isador Strauss was an American Jewish businessman, politician and co-owner of Macy’s department store with his brother Nathan. Born in Bavaria, he immigrated to America when he was nine, served in the Civil War, moved to New York City in 1888, where he and Nathan Straus became partners of Macy’s and eventually took full ownership in 1896.

After spending the winter in Europe, Isidor and his wife were passengers on the RMS Titanic when, on April 14, 1912, it hit an iceberg. Once it was clear the Titanic was sinking, Ida refused to leave Isidor and would not get into a lifeboat without him. Ida is reported to have said, “I will not be separated from my husband. As we have lived, so will we die, together.” A touching tribute to a deep and abiding love, to be sure.

Here’s an excerpt from Reagan’s Reward about the Strausses:

Mrs. Bernheim picked up her teacup. “Did you know that the owners of one of the twin cottages, the Strausses, are your great-aunt and -uncle?”

Jacob shook his head. “No. Never met them. Will we meet them this summer?”

“They’re very busy people and only come here a few times each summer rather than staying the whole season, so we rarely see them.” Mrs. Bernheim paused, her shoulders slumping. Then she addressed Reagan. “I fear we may not see him at all this summer. Nathan Strauss accompanied his brother, Isador, and his wife, Ida, to visit Palestine earlier this year. Uncle Nathan returned early, but Isador and Ida died on the Titanic in April. So sad.”

Stifling a gasp, Reagan patted her lips with her napkin. “I remember hearing about that

famous ship going down in the icy-cold water. Such a tragic accident.”

Jacob turned to his aunt. “I’m glad Papa and Mamma weren’t on it. They took a ship to

Europe, you know.”

Mrs. Bernheim leaned over and squeezed Jacob’s hand. “Yes, but we got a telegram telling us they are safely there, remember?”

“I remember,” Jacob admitted.

Mrs. Bernheim continued to enlighten Reagan, warming her with the way she addressed her as though they were equals. “While Mr. Strauss was in Palestine, he established a domestic science school for girls, a health bureau, and a free public kitchen. He even funded the Nathan and Lina Strauss Health Centers in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Most interesting of all, Uncle Nathan believed that God spared him, so he is giving two-thirds of his fortune to help Palestine. An amazing man, to be sure.”

Check out Reagan’s Reward to hear more about this story and enjoy a journey into the past filled with fascinating history.

 

 

Meet Ginny Dent Brant

Ginny Dent Brant is a speaker and writer who grew up in the halls of power in Washington, DC. She has battled cancer, ministered around the world, and served on the front lines of American culture as a counselor, educator, wellness advocate, and adjunct professor. Brant’s award-winning book, Finding True Freedom: From the White House to the World, was endorsed by Chuck Colson and featured in many TV and media interviews.

What inspired you to write Unleash Your God-Given Healing?

It was the book I never wanted to write. When I met with the hospital chaplain about my grim cancer diagnosis, he encouraged me to consider my cancer as a gift from God to help others because I was a speaker and an author. My response was “No way. I don’t want this gift!” I never wanted to write or speak about cancer. But the more I learned from my research, the more I felt compelled to share with others what I’d learned so they might prevent cancer and avoid this nightmare. That chaplain giggled and told me, “I can see it now—your book about cancer which begins with these words, “This is the book I never wanted to write.”

How would you describe this book to someone in a 30-second blurb?

My cancer diagnosis sent me on a quest to discover what caused a health nut to develop an aggressive breast cancer. After three years of research, my book pulls back the curtain on cancer in a way rarely seen and answers the question “What can I do to help my doctor beat this disease?” I challenge you to change what your doctor has no control over—your lifestyle and health habits.

I connect the dots between nutrition, lifestyle, integrative and conventional medicine, and biblical wisdom to reveal how your body was created with self-healing mechanisms that work optimally when you do your part. Learn how to enable your body to work as God intended, thereby unleashing your God-given healing!

What genre do you focus on and why?

Both of my books are in the inspirational memoir category. I’ve done interviews for magazines with many Christian celebrities such as Elisabeth Elliott, Jonathan Cahn and Joni Earackson Tada. I’ve also done tributes to some of this world’s greatest Christian evangelists/teachers such as Dr. Billy Graham, Robertson McQuilkin and Chuck Colson after they passed. Writing about people and their lives and as well as rich experiences from my life seems to be my knack.

Why do you write? What drives you?

I know many of my writer friends love to write most of the time. I’m not one of those writers. I write only when inspired. It’s the inspiration that helps me to endure the hard work and editing that comes with any writing assignment! I’m totally driven by a message I feel led to give with the purpose of informing and inspiring others.

What is the hardest part of being an author? Why?

Writing is hard work. Letting the words flow naturally is not hard for me, but shaping and editing until you get it perfected is the hard part for me.

What’s the best part of your author’s life? Why?

The goal of my writing is to reach the reader. When readers let me know that my book on cancer has inspired them and given them hope, that’s the best part. My tribute to Chuck Colson showed a side of him that few people knew.

What’s one unusual fact about you?

I’ve had many rich experiences in life. I grew up in the halls of power of our nation’s capitol because my father served a senator and three presidents. I’ve also traveled to many countries where there is no freedom—China, Gaza, Yemen, and Romania as they were coming to freedom after Communism. This gives me a unique perspective. From my days growing up in DC to my travels in this world, I’ll never take my freedoms for granted.

What is your favorite pastime?

My husband and I love to collect old pottery and primitive furniture. We’ve dabbled in antiques much of our lives. In time, we furnished our entire house. We continue to go today, but mainly to help furnish the homes of our children!

Do you have other books? We’d love to know.

My first book, Finding True Freedom: From the White House to the World, is a father-daughter memoir that begins in the middle of the Watergate Trials and ends up on the mission field of Romania.

What are you working on now?

I spend much time researching new treatments and medical research related to health and wellness and cancer. This information is posted on my website blog at www.ginnybrant.com I continue to learn new insights to share with others. I also mentor cancer patients who are going through cancer treatments. I love being able to offer information and hope to those who are willing to receive it

Website: www.ginnybrant.com  (my cancer prevention blog is here)

Social media links:

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/ginny.d.brant

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/ginnydentbrant/

Pinterest   www.pinterest.com/ginnybrant

 

A Christmas Eve Wedding

Here’s a short excerpt from Reagan’s Reward, for your Christmas enjoyment:

Reagan giggled as she led him to a nearby loveseat and bid him to sit. She kissed his cheek. “Nothing could dampen this day, not even this snowstorm. The children are home for the holidays, and I’m ready to wed, dearest Daniel. Thank you for waiting so I could have this one season of teaching under me.”

The wind howled fiercely outside the window behind them, and they both turned to look, bumping heads in the process. They laughed at the mishap. Beyond the pane, the white flakes fell steady and strong, evoking a frown from Daniel. “It’s getting worse. I fear your family mightn’t make it to the wedding with all this snow. Should we postpone the service?”

“No! Not another day! All I want for Christmas is you, dearest Daniel Lovitz, and if they can’t make it, I’ll be happy if our wedding is no more than Pastor Mark and us. We can always celebrate with them another time.” Reagan held back the tears that stung the back of her eyes. Their nuptials simply must happen this very night!

~ ~ ~

Reagan enjoyed every moment of the pampering she received from Mrs. Goodwin, the pastor’s wife, and three other matrons of the church. They fawned over her like doting grandmothers, primping her hair, sharing their stories of wedded bliss, encouraging her as a bride. One woman shared pearl earbobs; another a pearl necklace; yet another her blue handkerchief, intricately embroidered with white hearts and the words, “I will love thee always.”

As Mrs. Perkins thrust the handkerchief into her hands, she planted a kiss on her cheek.

“Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. You are the tenth bride to borrow this, and each one has had such good fortune in their marriage. Why, I’ve counted thirty-six babies from these brides thus far.” She winked at Reagan. “And, I’m sure, more to come.”

Reagan’s face grew warm as she thanked her. She thought she’d be alone on this stormy day. But this town had become her home, and these people, her people. In four short months, she’d found more love and support than she’d ever known. Here, in this tiny hamlet of Alexandria Bay, she discovered community. People who cared for and sacrificed for one another. She found love, in the heart of a godly man who shared her faith and loved her deeply. In the eyes of little children eager to learn. In the faces of fellow parishioners and her students’ families as they passed her on the street. In the kindness of the Bernheims in giving them a honeymoon in New York City, where her family would finally be able to meet her beloved.

A gentle knock drew her out of her reverie as Mrs. Goodwin opened the door.

Mr. Goodwin tipped his hat. “Good evening, ladies. The pastor and the groom are awaiting the bride in the ballroom.” The older man tossed Reagan a wink. “See you downstairs.” He gave his wife a peck on the cheek before hurrying down the hallway.

Reagan giggled as she pinched her cheeks. “I’m ready. I am so very ready!”

The other women cackled on their way out of the room, leaving only Reagan and Mrs.

Goodwin. The older woman slipped her arm in the crook of Reagan’s and waved a hand toward the door. “Shall we?”

Reagan sucked in a breath. Finally. Finally, she would become Mrs. Daniel Lovitz!

Read Reagan’s Reward…for the rest of the story! Merry Christmas, friends.

 

Meet author Jayme Mansfield

Jayme H. Mansfield is an author, artist, speaker, and educator. Jayme’s award-winning books, Chasing the Butterfly and RUSH, are book club favorites. Her newest release, Seasoned, is a vintage love story with a modern day flavor. Her writing is filled with vivid imagery and a passionate voice as she melds inspiring writing and artistic talents.

Tell us about your newest book. 

Seasoned is a vintage love story with modern-day flavor. It is a heartwarming story of friendship, loss, and love. Two very special people navigate the different stages of their lives, from long happy marriages, to the loss of a spouse, and ultimately finding love again.

What inspired you to write (insert title)?

I was inspired to write Seasoned by the special, later-in-life love relationship my mother enjoyed with a wonderful gentleman for over a decade. Both had lost their spouse after long and happy marriages. Well into their eighties, they were fortunate to find and embrace a second chance at love. Their relationship was an inspiration and testimony to the truth that loves knows no age.

How would you describe this book to someone in a 30-second blurb?

Seasoned is more than a love story – it’s a human story. Eighty-year-olds, Essie and Lou, are widowed and lonely after long marriages. After online dating brings them together, each must decide if past secrets will keep them from a second chance at love. Through grace, forgiveness, and restoration, it’s never too late to start living the truth and embracing that love knows no age.

What genre do you focus on?

I’m fascinated by history. Whether my books are truly set in a historical setting or told from a contemporary point of view, I can’t help but weave the influences of past people, places, and events. But whether I’m writing a historical or contemporary book, my stories are really about people – I write books about being human—the trials and tribulation and the joys and celebration.

Why do you write?

It might sound cliché, but I write because my mind is filled with story. Even as a child, I had quite an imagination and was known to tell a story or two (yes, fibs and wildly imaginative concoctions!). When I began to write as an adult, I was hooked! Although one of the most difficult things I’ve taken on in life, writing is also one of my most natural expressions. It’s also my therapy. My stories help me make sense, or at least process, my world.

Who is your main character, and how did you choose that name?

Esther, or Essie White, and Lou Rizzo, aka, Joseph Marino, are the equally important protagonistsMustering the nerve to try online dating called for aliases for both Essie and Lou. Being Italian, Lou needed two names with that slant. The choice for Esther actually came from noticing a street sign! While on a walk and thinking about the initial story, I saw the name and it simply struck me. Funny where inspiration is found!

What’s the best part of your author’s life?

I always thought of myself as an extrovert, but the older I become, the more I appreciate, and even yearn, for thoughtful and contemplative time alone. Being an author meets me in both worlds—I have my time alone (albeit, characters are welcome companions) and also energizing and meaningful time with readers and other writers. I love opportunities to present and talk with others about my stories, cheer on other writers, and reach out to readers near and far through social media, my newsletter, and other fun marketing events.

What’s one unusual fact about you?

My heaven on earth is riding on horseback across a grassy plain. It’s a special escape in Wyoming I treat myself to whenever possible and a dream I hope to make a reality in the not-too-far-off future. Thus, my tagline, “Loosening the reins and leaning into the creative life,” is the real deal for me!

What is your favorite pastime? 

I have many, but it’s hard to beat painting in my art studio. That is my other passion – one in which, like writing, I become consumed in the creative process – a sort of heaven on earth. My acrylic floral abstractions, often on large canvases, are intuitive, bright and bold. They are often referred to as, “joyful and hopeful”, and for me, that is the greatest compliment of all.

Do you have other books? We’d love to know.

My other novels are Chasing the Butterfly and RUSH. Both are historical fiction. The first is set in the turbulent times of WWII in Paris and Provence. The second is based on my great-great grandmother’s life and her adventure in the 1893 Oklahoma Land Run. Both stories, and even Seasoned, contain an artistic theme, weaving the transformative influence of art.

What are you working on now?

I’m deep into a manuscript based on art forgery involving early 1900’s master painter, Modigliani. Though again fiction, the story is largely based on fact and history with fascinating characters navigating an intriguing plot with all sorts of bumps and hurdles along the way.

Website: www.jaymehmansfield.com

Link to book: https://www.amazon.com/Seasoned-Love-Story-Jayme-Mansfield/dp/1645262758/ref=sxts_sxwds-bia-wc-drs1_0?cv_ct_cx=seasoned&dchild=1&keywords=seasoned&pd_rd_i=1645262758&pd_rd_r=3f9ca9eb-b61c-485f-9cec-e471d44165d3&pd_rd_w=4j2lc&pd_rd_wg=878Ou&pf_rd_p=c33e4373-edb9-47f9-a7e6-5d3d6a7a4ad0&pf_rd_r=5F3ZDPKX54JN35D4A2AP&psc=1&qid=1605668472&sr=1-1-5e875a02-02b1-4426-9916-8a5c26cd5a14

Social media links:

FB: https://www.facebook.com/JaymeHMansfieldAuthor/

FB Group:

Twitter: @JaymeMansfield

IG: @JaymeMansfield

 

 

Meet author Cynthia Simmons

Cynthia L. Simmons is the mother of five grown children, former homeschool mom, a Bible teacher, past president of Christian Authors Guild, radio host, media coach, and columnist for Leading Hearts magazine. She writes both fiction and non-fiction. Since she loves history, she fills her presentations with lively stories from the past. While she speaks to women of all ages, she has a special place in her heart for young mothers and homeschool mothers.

Tell us about your newest book.

My new book, Valuing Gold, is the first in a series of three mysteries about a Civil War Bank. Money and banking were different during that era, and my mysteries give me a chance to share my research while sharing the joys of walking by faith.

What inspired you to write Valuing Gold?

I grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee where an important Civil War battle took place. The city has several historic sites we often visited when I grew up. I assumed everyone climbed on cannons and rode bikes on battlefields. My father researched so much on the guns that he could have led a tour of any of the museums. Naturally I love the era and I used my studies to write a historical fiction mystery.

How would you describe this book to someone in a 30-second blurb?

Uneasiness permeated Chattanooga where Mary Beth Roper grew up. Every conversation she overheard was heated, yet her banker-father was hesitant to reveal the facts. Will Tennessee secede and force them into a war? She was an adult and demanded he tell her the truth, yet she feared the fierce politics she’d seen. Then she learned a rogue customer threatened their bank. Somehow, she must find a way to work with Peter Chandler, her father’s partner, even though she can’t bear to be near him. As she unraveled an impossible puzzle, she learned to value her faith.

What genre do you focus on and why?

I love writing mysteries because I love reading them and sticking in mystery elements comes naturally. However, I also write devotionals and articles on history.

Why do you write?

The Lord blessed me, and I want to give that away. 2 Corinthians 1:4

Who is your main character, and how did you choose that name?

Mary Beth Roper is my main character. I chose a double name since that is common in the South.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing a book?

I outline the book with plot points and write from one point to the next. However, the story changes as I go. Sometimes my characters end up doing something I didn’t expect.

What is your favorite pastime?

I have several. My husband and I like ballroom dancing. I also enjoy growing orchids, resesarching, and reading.

Do you have other books? We’d love to know.

Women Who Overcame, Pursuing Gold, Pursuing Gold: A History and Critical Thinking Curriculum, The Lincoln Family Curriculum – available through Old School House Magazine

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a children’s book about coins and a book about Susannah Spurgeon.

Website: https://clsimmons.com

Link to book:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1649490801/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

Social media links: instagram.com/Cynthialsimmons twitter.com/CynthiaLSimmons, facebook.com/HrtMt, pinterest.com/cltsimmons, heartofthematterradio.libsyn.com, linkedin.com/cynthialsimmons