Author Interview with Terri J. Haynes

Welcome to Monday’s author interview. Today I have the pleasure of interviewing one of our very own contributors: Terri J. Haynes!


~ About the Author ~

Terri HaynesTerri J. Haynes, a native Baltimorean, is a homeschool mom, writer, prolific knitter, freelance graphic artist and former Army wife (left the Army, not the husband). She loves to read, so much that when she was in elementary school, she masterminded a plan to be locked in a public library armed with only a flashlight to read all the books and a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. As she grew, her love for writing grew as she tried her hand at poetry, articles, speeches and fiction. She is storyteller at heart. Her passion is to draw readers in the story world she has created and to bring laughter and joy to their lives.

Terri is a 2010 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis contest finalist, and a 2012 semi-finalist. She is also a 2013 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award Quarterfinalist. Her publishing credits include Cup of Comfort for Military Families, Crosswalk.com, the Secret Place Devotional, Vista Devotional, Urbanfaith.com and Publisher’s Weekly.

Terri holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology, a Master’s degree in Theological Studies and a certificate in creative writing and graphic design, meeting the minimal requirements of being a geek. She and her husband pastor a church where she serves as executive pastor and worship leader. Terri lives in Maryland with her three wonderful children and her husband, who often beg her not to kill of their favorite characters.

Connect with Terri:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Twitter


~ About the Book ~

Special Agent Will Anderson is counting the days before he transfers from the D.C. Human Rights squad of the FBI, but he’s leaving behind everyone he loves. He is asked to interview a victim of suspected human trafficking, a simple task, but finds himself deeply involved in the case. Social rights activist, Savannah Elliott, has made a fresh start in Washington, D.C., but a routine consultation on a D.C. Human Rights case brings her face to face with a terror from her past. As Will and Savannah struggle to solve the case, they are forced to face choices, some they’ve buried for years. Will their decisions, past and present, bring them love and safety or will they lose everything, including their lives?

Amazon  //  Goodreads


~ Interview ~

KATIE:  Well, I suppose I can’t really say ‘Welcome to the blog’, since you’re one of our contributors, but thanks for letting me interview you, Terri. If I can just go back to your bio for a moment, homeschool mum (sorry—mom!), executive pastor, worship leader, freelance graphic designer, prolific knitter… That’s a lot of balls to juggle! How do you carve out writing time in the midst of all that?

TERRI: My secret is scheduling writing time. Because I am so busy, there is no carving out time. If I waited until I was free to write, it would never get done. My prime writing time is 9-10 pm and sometimes later. I also strive to make the most of every minute of my time. For instance, I live in DC metro, the land of traffic. So instead of just sitting in my car for an hour or more, I go to my local Panera and use that time to write until the traffic dies down. I also work in spurts. I have plotted two story ideas in one weekend. When I get into the zone like that, I find that I can get quite a bit done.

KATIE: Sounds like a smart move! I hate rush hour, and I’m sure my little home city has nothing like the traffic in DC metro. Your first full-length novel, Love Simplified, features a professional matchmaker who ends up with on a reality TV show, while Captured delves into human rights and trafficking. They’re pretty divergent topics! Where do you get your inspiration for your stories?

TERRI: My ideas come from all over the place. The world is full of ideas. Captured was inspired by a news story. I got the idea for Love Simplified from a television show about a relationship specialist. I have an extremely active imagination, and I think I could turn anything into a story. I have notebooks full of ideas, some of them sparked from the littlest things. I guess that means I will never be without book ideas.

KATIE: Lucky you! Unless they’re all clamouring to be written at once, I suppose! So is there a particular genre that you feel most at home in, either reading or writing?

TERRI: I am all over the place in both areas. I work in a bookstore, so I try to read broadly. My personal goal is to have a book recommendation in every genre. But if I had to narrow it down, I read more YA and historical. I’ve recently added culturally diverse sci-fi. I read a great Middle Eastern dystopian novel and a sci-fi short story by a Nigerian author. As far as writing, I lean towards romantic suspense and contemporary romance, but I have several historical, YA, and sci-fi ideas floating around in my head.

KATIE: I’m a bit of a genre-hopper myself, and I love your aim of having a book recommendation in every genre! Talking specifically about Captured for a moment, both of the main characters in this novel come from non-Caucasian backgrounds. What is their ethnicity, and how did that shape your characters?

TERRI: Both of my characters are black (it is my personal preference to be referred to as black). (KATIE: Good to know! I don’t know about others, but I’m never 100% sure of the best term to use.) It’s hard for me to think about how their ethnicity shaped them because they just are. In the past, I had editors, other writers, and readers tell me that the characters in Captured weren’t black enough. I still don’t understand what that means. There are many shades of brown in the world. I do believe that when there are black characters in a book, there is an expectation for them to be urban. Will and Savannah are professionals, just like I am and many other black people are. Yes, there some urban characters in the book, but race wasn’t the driving factor. I wanted to tell a story where anyone from any racial background could identify with the story. I wanted them to identify with Will’s desire to have something he couldn’t and Savannah’s desire to be free from her past. Those things happen to every culture, every race, and all people. It is a universal story. Captured isn’t a race story. It’s a people story.

KATIE: Great answer! And isn’t that the aim of all good literature? To find those elements that are universal to humankind and explore them in unique settings and situations? So, aside from an enjoyable reading experience, what do you hope readers will take away from Captured?

TERRI: The core message of Captured is to pay attention. Human trafficking is a serious problem in the US. But one has to wonder how traffickers can operate in the world unseen. I believe that, culturally, our focus is on ourselves. Very often, people are hurting and heartbroken all around us, but we are so self-centred that we don’t see it. And when we do see it, we don’t do anything about it. This behaviour is especially disturbing when it involves believers. There are many needs in this world that only Christ can fix. But how will that happen if Christ followers don’t have the awareness or the compassion to change the world? And I’m not only talking about the starving children halfway across the world. I’m talking about the hungry children right in our neighbourhoods and churches. Not only the marginalized and oppressed around the world but what about the people in our workplaces, our classmates or fellow church members? Do we see them? We should, because they are all around us. The scriptures say Jesus was moved with compassion when He saw Israel scattered, hopeless, and without a shepherd. We, His people, should also be so moved.

KATIE: So true! It’s so easy to get caught up in the busyness of our own lives, but imagine what an impact we could have if we all committed to being more aware of those in need around us. That’s a great message.

Let’s lighten thing up a little to finish: If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go?

TERRI: I’ve travelled a bit in my life, so I’ve seen some great places in the world like the Caribbean and Western Europe. I really loved Germany and St. Thomas.  But I would love to go to Italy, rent a villa, and eat as much great Italian food as I could handle.

KATIE: Oh yes! Pretty much anywhere in Europe would be A-okay with me! If you could assign one household task to the fairies forever, which one would it be?

TERRI: Cooking! I can cook but dislike cooking with a passion. I would rather clean bathrooms than cook. Besides, bleach and I are great friends.

KATIE: Hmm. Well, I’ll certainly let you keep the bleach. I’d definitely take the cooking! If you were a musical instrument, what would you be?

TERRI: As a singer, I consider myself an instrument. And I don’t think I would want to be another because my instrument, my voice, is always with me. I don’t have to lug around equipment. As long as I have a song in my heart, I have music.

KATIE: Beautiful! Isn’t singing a wonderful gift from our Creator? (And as a singer myself, I really should have thought of that! Lol!) What’s next for Terri J. Haynes, fiction author?

TERRI: Taking over the world. Just kidding. I’m not even sure I would want it once I took it over. My goal is to finish two manuscripts this year. I’ve finished one and am currently plotting another. I am also planning to another Brea Sutton novella to release later this year.

KATIE: Hahahaha! I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t want the responsibility of this world on my shoulders either. But it sounds like you’re on track with your writing goals! Thanks for chatting with me today, and God bless. 🙂


Interview by Katie Donovan

Inconceived (Sharyn Kopf) – Review

~ About the Book ~

Realizing you’re a spinster is one thing; understanding what that means and how to handle it is another. And it would seem Jolene, Uli, and Catie still have a ways to go before they truly comprehend what God is trying to show them not only in their desire to marry but in their longing to have children of their own.

As one relationship ends and another begins, Jolene Woods realizes she needs to finally deal with the guilt and regret of her past if she’s ever going to move on. And so she embarks on a journey she hopes will bring forgiveness … but may, in fact, only lead to more regret. Did she forever destroy her chance to be a mother in her youth?

Uli Odell has her own journey, though it’s more of an escape from the pain and embarrassment of a broken engagement. She ends up at her mother’s home in Iowa, separated from her friends and desperate for money. But there are some problems she just can’t run away from.

Though Catie’s heart is in a stronger place since she met God on a mountain three months ago, she still doesn’t have answers to many of her questions. Then the possibility of an unhealthy relationship and the reality of a life-altering medical diagnosis make her wonder if she’s figured out anything at all.

As their lives head off in different directions, each of these friends will need God—and each other—to find their way to healing.

Amazon  //  Goodreads


~ Excerpt ~

Sometimes all I want is a chance to start over. Not just with recent mistakes but with life. A series of potential do-overs scrolls through my brain as I add more concealer to cover the bags under my eyes—a natural consequence of a nightmare-filled sleep before the alarm went off at 6 a.m. so I could get to Easter breakfast on time.
Once again I had that dream. The one I’ve had periodically for most of my life, with minor variations. Always the baby crying. Lost. Pleading. And me, desperate and searching and powerless to do anything about it.
Much like thirty years ago. Only I wasn’t powerless. Just ignorant and immature and confused enough to destroy my own child. Twice. And now…
Stop it, Jolene.
But I can’t. The truth of my choice has haunted me for so long, but lately the grief has hit me with such force, I feel it compelling me to action. If only I knew what action that should be.


~ My Review ~

You may remember I did a book spotlight a couple of weeks ago for the novel Spinstered, by Sharyn Kopf. (If you missed it, you can find it here.) Today I’m reviewing the second novel in the series, Inconceived, which continues the stories of Catie, Jolene, and Uli: three over-forty women who are still unmarried and wondering what, if anything, they’re supposed to do about it. I do recommend that you read Spinstered first, and I will try to avoid giving spoilers for that novel in this review!

The first thing that struck me about this series was the engaging first person narrative that drew me straight into the heart and mind of each of the three characters. Regardless of how different my own circumstances are, it created an immediate emotional connection with these women that has only strengthened as I have walked through their stories with them, sometimes smiling at their wry observations and sometimes aching for the honesty and vulnerability they shared directly with the reader.

While there are developments in the stories of all three women over the course of the novel, Inconceived focuses more on Jolene, a not-so-young woman of Caribbean descent who grew up in a large family in the South. She runs Cocoon House (a home for women who are transitioning out of prison life), so she’s used to dealing with other people’s emotional baggage, but her own emotional baggage caught up with her at the end of Spinstered and she can’t run away from it any more. It takes her on a poignant journey—more so because of who walks it with her—and was a beautiful way of working through the emotional and physical repercussions of the choices she had made in her youth. If you are inclined to be an empathetic crier, you may want to have a tissue or two on hand!

I should add I was no less engaged in the developments in Catie and Uli’s lives, both of whom are still struggling in different ways with their spinsterhood and their desire for a husband. Regardless of whether the reader has been in similar circumstances as these women, at the core, their struggles are universal: Is our happiness found in God, or in our circumstances? Have we wandered away from God in our attempt to satisfy our needs outside of Him?

The final novel in this series is yet to be released, but I will be eagerly awaiting the conclusion to these women’s stories. I’m fairly hopeful for at least one wedding in there!


~ About the Author ~

sharynSharyn Kopf didn’t discover her voice until she found a way to turn grief into hope. For her, that meant realizing it was okay to be sad about her singleness. In doing so, she was finally able to move past her grief and find hope in God.

It also meant writing about the heartaches and hopes of being an older single woman. She published her first novel, Spinstered, in 2014, and a companion nonfiction version titled Spinstered: Surviving Singleness After 40 in 2015. Her work has also appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Splickety Love magazine.

Besides writing and speaking, Sharyn is an editor and marketing professional. She loves to connect with readers and singles on Facebook or email and has plans to start a monthly newsletter soon. In her spare time, she enjoys goofing off with her nieces and nephews, making—and eating!—the best fudge ever, long hikes through the woods, and playing the piano.

Connect with Sharyn:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Girls Night In (blog for single, over 40 women)


Review by Katie Donovan

Book Spotlight: Spinstered by Sharyn Kopf

Today’s featured book spotlight is the first in a three book series by Sharyn Kopf following three women—Catie, Jolene, and  Uli—and their struggle with singleness. Jolene is of Carribbean descent, but grew up in the South, and although the second book in the series develops her story more fully, it begins here, in the first book of the series.


~ About the Book ~

Three friends. Three stories. Three women trying to figure out how they ended up over 40 and still single. Committed to her job and pushing fifty, Catie Delaney has almost given up on her dream of love and marriage. Maybe, she tells herself, she’d be happier just embracing her singleness. Maybe that’s been God’s will all along. Catie’s friends, Jolene and Uli, have their own struggles with men, careers, and family. Then into this mix of feminine angst walks Brian Kemper-the latest GWP (Guy With Potential) to join their church’s singles group. But just as something seems about to happen between him and Catie, her world falls apart. With their hearts on the line, these three friends search for hope . . . and find it in unexpected places.

Amazon  //  Goodreads

~ Excerpt ~

Jolene

This is my day off, for heaven’s sake. The Lord’s Day. A day of rest. So why I’m spending it trudging up the side of a cliff is beyond me.
First, Tess and Catie sprinted ahead like gazelles toward a mountain stream. Brian was in a deep conversation with Doug and Lindsay, with Uli tagging along, followed by Scott and Ellen. And I trailed in the back like a caboose.
There’s a joke about the size of my booty in there somewhere.
Now, Brian seems completely entranced by Catie, and I’m still bringing up the rear. I see my red-haired friend glance over at our GWP (Guy With Potential), a look of complete shock on her face. What on earth are they talking about? I’d love to chat with Uli, who’s huffing along next to me, about what’s going on a head of us. But, Lord have mercy, I’d rather breathe at the moment.
I really can’t stand hiking. We’re human beings not mountain goats. A drop of sweat slides down the back of my neck. The climbing shoes forced on me by life in Colorado are beyond ugly. There’s grit in my teeth from the dust we’re kicking up, and I’m wheezing like an asthma patient without an inhaler. Not to disparage asthma patients. My younger brother has asthma. Still, this is no way to make an impression, good or otherwise.
But I hang in there because I refuse to let a pile of rocks come between me and Mr. Possibility.

~ About the Author ~

sharynSharyn Kopf didn’t discover her voice until she found a way to turn grief into hope. For her, that meant realizing it was okay to be sad about her singleness. In doing so, she was finally able to move past her grief and find hope in God.

It also meant writing about the heartaches and hopes of being an older single woman. She published her first novel, Spinstered, in 2014, and a companion nonfiction version titled Spinstered: Surviving Singleness After 40 in 2015. Her work has also appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul and Splickety Love magazine.

Besides writing and speaking, Sharyn is an editor and marketing professional. She loves to connect with readers and singles on Facebook or email and has plans to start a monthly newsletter soon. In her spare time, she enjoys goofing off with her nieces and nephews, making—and eating!—the best fudge ever, long hikes through the woods, and playing the piano.

Connect with Sharyn:  Website  //  Facebook  //  Girls Night In (blog for single, over 40 women)


Book Spotlight by Katie Donovan