Tell us a bit about you and your background.
I grew up in Estes Park, Colorado where my back yard was an adventure land complete with climbing trees, rock fortresses, and horses. Stories have been rolling like movies through my head since I was little, but I never wrote one down until after I read Frank Peretti’s This Present Darkness at age thirty-something. My first-ever novel, written in 1990, is safely buried in some computer file. A decade passed, and, on the stage of my mind, a girl washed up on a beach unconscious. I had to do something with her, and that turned into the first book in The Destiny Series. Between homeschooling and domestic chores, I wrote all 6 books in the series. Another decade passed, and, when I’m not playing with the grandchildren, I’m re-writing & editing the last three books plus other publishing projects.
What’s the logline that describes your writing?
Fiction that Heals the Soul
(The Destiny Series is a healing & redemption story of a former victim of sex trafficking – A fairytale-come-true for the oppressed)
What are your hobbies away from the computer?
Painting, hiking/walking, fitness & nutrition. The first two vie for first place. One of my favorite things to do, especially if it’s too hot to be outside, is paint to worship music. And then I’m always wishing I could carry my paints with me whenever I go hiking, too, but that’s ridiculously unrealistic.
Do you start a new story with the plot or characters first?
Definitely a plot. But as soon as the story starts rolling (about 4 chapters into it), I have to stop and interview my characters and lay out the setting, which I consider another character. If I don’t know the characters, I get bogged down.
Is your writing style planned or freestyle?
Both. I write purposefully and adventurously.
Have you traveled to any locations that appear in your books?
Yes. Most of the story takes place in Cleveland, where I lived for 8 years. And part of book 3 takes place in Colorado, where I grew up. I also traveled to the Caribbean where my protagonist came from. And I’ve often visited my parents on Kauai, HI, an island that helped me further form my setting for this and an upcoming romantic suspense.
Can you share a tip about what you do when you get stuck in creating a story?
Usually, as long as I have a solid moral premise—a complementary vice and virtue that unite the characters—I don’t get stuck. (I highly recommend reading “The Moral Premise,” by Stan Williams.) I also write by the seat-of-the-pants and without a filter about larger than life characters, which allows them to surprise me. For example, my peculiar protagonist (overcoming her sex trafficking background) spontaneously dances like a wild gypsy around a Zales store while trying on engagement rings (in partial rebellion), which draws security and forces Sedgwick the persnickety salesclerk to kick her out of the store.
Describe a normal writing day (or period, if you have other employment obligations).
My first hour of the day is spent in the secret place with my Heavenly Father, the true inspiration behind why I write. After that I’ll write or edit a chapter, workout at the gym, then return to a book or blog, according to my deadline schedule. If I have obligations/chores/errands in the afternoon, I’ll often return that evening to finish whatever I didn’t get to earlier.
What’s your dream vacation destination?
I love nature, hiking, and foreign travel. So a combination of those three would be my dream vacay. Swiss Alps?
In what genre do you read?
I prefer reading the genre I write. Suspense, particularly psychological suspense (B. Collins, T. Dekker, D. Koontz, F. Peretti to name a few); and spiritually intellectual fiction (i.e. Demon: A Memoir by Tosca Lee; C.S. Lewis). Not much else holds my attention.
Are you a pet person? If so, what do you have?
Domestic: Dogs top the list. However our shepherd mutt moved out with our daughter two years ago. I now happily live out my ‘puppy love’ vicariously through other dog owners.
Exotic: Penguins rock! Anyone acquainted with my quirky affection for penguins leaves posts and related pics/videos on my FB. My critique group in particular has become gifted at penguin comments.
What do you hope readers gain from your stories?
My heart is to see people healed, set free, and equipped in Christ. It’s hard for me to write a story that does NOT involve at least one if not all three of these elements. The most meaningful reviews and personal comments I’ve ever received are those that touch on any of these three areas. One of my readers/fans told me recently, “My friend really needs the healing your character experienced, so I gave her your book. She’s already asking for the next one in the series.” That blessed me!
Chiara escaped nineteen years captivity and is now rebuilding her life from scratch. Everything would be fine if there were no men around for her to hate.
Isaac goes overboard in trying to get the mysterious Chiara, a former sex slave, accepted into his community. Few are willing to look beyond her social bumbling to find her hidden worth.
Just when things couldn’t get worse, the FBI tracks Chiara down and coerces her into helping them catch a murderer/trafficker. Isaac’s wish to understand her unimaginable past comes true. He not only experiences her old world firsthand, he encounters the man who wants Chiara dead.
AMAZON (kindle and soft cover)
Barnes & Noble (soft cover only)
Clutching the stiff white bedding, Chiara flexed her feet, working strength back into her sluggish extremities. Not one window adorned the walls of this room, and she desperately wanted to see the real world. Jase had filled her head with glorious descriptions of neighborhoods and parks of amusement, stuff she’d only dreamed existed. The promise of getting to Ohio had helped her weather the past twenty hours.
“Trust me, Princess,” Isaac whispered. “Dr. Macon isn’t scum.”
You wouldn’t recognize scum even if one kissed you. Trying not to scowl at Isaac took up the rest of her energy. “Got it. Now go, so I can book out of this sterile jail.”
Adapt and conquer. Her tutors had dropped her into a variety of testing situations over the years and expected her to survive. Waking up half-naked with numb limbs must have missed their list of scenarios—at least the numbness part.
Most of her paraesthesia was gone. Dr. Macon said she could travel as long as she got rest and took the elephant pills that made her gag. The man also promised her ice cream if she let him interrogate her. Privately.
If he touches me, I’ll— She looked around for scissors. Knife. Anything.
Her side and arm burned like acid. To stay alert, she’d faked taking the painkillers. The throbbing reminded her she was alive. Reminded her how much freedom had cost.
The doctor entered and stood at the end of the bed. More gray strands had blossomed in his hair since yesterday, and his crow’s feet had extra pleats.
He crept within a meter.
Chiara sat up. If necessary, she’d strangle him with his stethoscope. How many times had he hassled her with that evil gadget? “What do you want to know?”
Posing with his hands in his coat pocket, he evoked images of the doctors she’d seen pictures of in textbooks. “What happened to you?”
“I was shot.” Maybe she’d appreciate hospitals more if she didn’t feel so incapacitated. There had to be something good about them or Isaac wouldn’t have made her stay overnight.
Macon rubbed one sideburn. “Your friends obviously don’t know much about you.”
“I thought this was our private conversation.”
Crossing his arms, he nodded. “Working in the heart of Miami, I’ve encountered my share of the abused population. Victims of violence, unfortunate souls born to troubled families. I’m not ignorant to the symptoms. Who did this to you?”
His finger zoomed toward her shoulder.
Realizing which area he was targeting, she blocked his hand. Chiara had never given her Omeàlan souvenirs a second thought. “Is it not common in Florida?”
His jaw dropped. “What labor camp were you—?” He sucked in a breath. “It’s illegal. An injustice against you.”
She winced. What could he know about injustice if he’d never lived on Omeàla? If she didn’t answer his questions carefully, she might end up back in that hellhole.
“It’s one of the few books that when I looked up from the pages it would take me a minute to realize I was sitting on my couch, not in Ohio helping Chiara adjust to her newfound freedom.” ~~Donna
J.A. holds a Bachelor’s degree from Colorado State University. She’s presently the Vice President of ACFW – DFW Chapter. She has published several articles, devotionals, and writes a weekly blog supporting the Christian walk. J.A. resides in Texas, where she serves at Gateway Church and loves on her children and grandchildren.
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