Title: Sing in the Sunlight Series: Chaparral Hearts Genre: Historical Christian Romance Length: 402 pages Publisher: Wild Heart Books Release Date: March 2, 2021
Richard Stevens isn’t who he thinks he is. Neither is the woman who now claims his last name.
Disfiguring scars stole Clarinda Humphrey’s singing career, her home, and her family, but she refuses to let her appearance steal her future. While attending The Young Ladies Seminary in 1858 Benicia, California, she finds a man who promises to love and cherish her. Instead he betrays her, leaving her with child, and Clarinda must take drastic measures to ensure her child doesn’t suffer for her foolishness.
Richard Stevens’s life hasn’t turned out as he expected, and when a shocking letter turns even his past into a mystery, he travels to San Francisco in search of guidance. On the way, he encounters a mysterious young woman hiding beneath
a veil. That night he experiences a dream that sends him on a quest to find the bride God has chosen for him. He never imagines she’s already told everyone they’re married.
Unwilling to lie, nor accept a marriage of mere convenience, Richard wants the real thing. Yet Clarinda’s not interested in love, only a chance to save her child. Can he help her rise above the pain that runs deeper than her scars to accept a love worth every risk?
Purchase Links (note: Sing in the Sunlight is currently on preorder):
Kathleen Denly writes historical romance stories to entertain, encourage, and inspire readers toward a better understanding of our amazing God and how He sees us. Award winning author of the Chaparral Hearts series, she also shares history tidbits, thoughts on writing, books reviews and more at KathleenDenly.com.
1. As writers, we tend to write from our own life experiences–who or what would you say is your greatest inspiration?
In regard to Sing in the Sunlight, I would have to say the biggest inspiration for the story was my daughter. She experienced a major trauma before we adopted her which left her with scars she’ll carry all her life. As a historical fiction author, her situation inspired me to wonder what life might have been like for her if she’d been born in the nineteenth century. Researching how those considered “other” were treated at that time inspired my heroine, Clarinda Humphrey. Besides their birthdates, another key difference between my daughter and my heroine is that Clarinda is much older when she receives her scars and she receives them in a different manner. This, combined with society’s reaction to her new appearance, leaves Clarinda with a lot of issues to struggle through. While Clarinda is not meant to be a representation of my daughter in any way, Clarinda was definitely inspired by her.
2. When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?
I always find this to be difficult question to answer, but I was inspired with the idea for my first novel in the wee hours of the morning when I was a freshman in high school. I’d never even considered attempting anything so long, but out of the blue, I awoke from sleep and immediately began jotting down the idea for a plot in a journal I had nearby. I worked on that story off and on for several years before finally putting it where it belonged—in the trash. A lot of people gasp when I say that. Especially when I include that I have zero copies of that first work. But I have no regrets. I needed to do a lot of maturing as a person and a writer before I was ready to write anything worthy of others reading it.
3. Baking is one of my favorite things to do–I love giving baked good as gifts at Christmas time. Outside of writing, what other activities do you enjoy?
Crafting! I have always been a crafter. It started with smelly markers, moved on to puffy paints, then wall paints, then knitting and sewing, and most recently I’ve gotten into the paper crafting world. I still sew when I can, but with four kids in the house, leaving a mid-process project lying out isn’t an option. I find paper crafting much more kid friendly. The projects are usually quicker and when I do need to come back to finish something, it’s much easier to put it away and get it out again.
4. Who are some of your favorite authors, and what genres do you enjoy reading the most?
Well, I could fill a blog with the answer to this question. That’s one of the reasons I started book blogging. I love chatting about the books I love and helping to spread the word about talented authors. My favorite genre, of course, is historical Christian romance. After that, come contemporary Christian romance, sci-fi, dystopian, and a little fantasy, too. To name just a few, here are some of my favorite authors in no particular order: Sondra Kraak, Tara Johnson, Pepper Basham, Rachel Fordham, Mary Connealy, Karen Witemeyer, and Regina Jennings.
5. What current projects are you working on? Please share if you can!
I’m currently working on the third book in my Chaparral Hearts series, Harmony on the Horizon. Here’s the official description for that book:
Her calling to change the world may be his downfall.
On the heels of the Great Rebellion, Margaret Foster, an abolitionist northerner, takes a teaching position in 1865 San Diego—a town dominated by Southern sympathizers. At thirty-seven years of age, Margaret has accepted spinsterhood and embraced her role as teacher. So, when Everett Thompson, the handsomest member of the School Board, reveals his interest in her, it’s a dream come true. Until her passionate ideals drive a wedge between them.
After two decades of hard work, Everett Thompson is on the verge of having everything he’s dreamed of. Even the beautiful new teacher has agreed to his courtship. Then two investments go south and a blackmailer threatens everything Everett has and dreams of.
As Everett scrambles to shore up the crumbling pieces of his life, Margaret unwittingly sets off a scandal that divides the small community and threatens her position as teacher. With the blackmailer still whispering threats, Everett must decide if he’s willing to risk everything for the woman still keeping him at arm’s length.
6. Creativity comes with its share of ups and down–what advice would you give to other writers who are feeling discouraged?
If you’re feeling discouraged, I would say two things:
First, if you’re discouraged because certain people don’t love your work, remember that writing is an art form and not everyone will enjoy your particular style. That’s okay. We’re all different and different isn’t bad. You just need to find the people who do enjoy your style.
Second, I would say to take a step back. Give yourself permission to take a small break and take the pressure off. Try to remember why you started writing in the first place. Find the fun in the process again. And as always, spend time in prayer. Ask God if you’re pursuing the path He wants you to. Sometimes the road is tough but you need to persevere. Other times the road is tough because it’s time to make a turn. Only God can help you discern which applies to your situation.
7. The literary journey holds so many memories! Are there any funny stories you would like to share with our readers?
Long before I was published or even had a contract, I entered the opening scene from Waltz in the Wilderness into a contest called, First Impressions. I didn’t honestly expect to place at all but was looking forward to getting some feedback from the judges. Well, one day I was just leaving the dental office with my kids when my phone rang. It was someone from the contest letting me know that I was a finalist in the contest! I tried to act all calm and mature until I hung up, but as soon as the call was over, I started squealing and seat dancing so much that my minivan was bouncing and my kids were like, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!” LOL Of course, once I told them, they were so happy for me, they started bouncing around too. For several minutes the whole van was bouncing in its parking space with lots of cheering and squealing going on. We must have been quite a sight.
8. What led you to writing your first book? Were there any specific moments you remember regarding the ideas for you Chaparral Hearts series?
Well, I already shared about my very first attempt at a novel, but my first historical novel began as a result of a failed attempt to crash a community college creative writing course. For those who don’t know there is a system that allows those who missed getting into a course (usually because it filled up before they were able to register) to attend the first class. If anyone who did register fails to attend the first class, the teacher has the option of
bumping them and inserting one of students “crashing” that day. Unfortunately, all of the officially registered students did show up, so I didn’t get into the class. BUT there was an assignment given that day which I decided to do anyway. That assignment lead to my first historical Christian romance novel, which is currently sitting on a shelf awaiting a major rewrite. It begins in Louisiana in the early 1840s, travels into Texas, and has a planned sequel that follows the Oregon Trail to (of course) California. I’ve learned a lot since then and look forward to someday making it worthy of publication.
9. Blogging is fun, but it can be a lot of work! Do you have any tips for new and experienced bloggers on how to make the most of your time when it comes to creating posts?
For new bloggers, my best advice is to under-commit yourself. If you think you can post five days a week, start with one. Burnout is real and it’s much easier to slowly ramp up than to scale back. You want to be reliable for your readers and the best way to do that is to not bite off more than you can chew right from the start. It’s a lesson I learned the hard way.
For experienced bloggers…I guess I would say that if you haven’t yet reached out to other bloggers to form connections, get on that! Bloggers are a wonderful bunch who generally love to support one another and you won’t regret the lasting friendships you’ll form.
10. How do you stay focused on the writing process? Especially when it comes to the year we have had—it can be so difficult to find the time or energy to be creative.
I’m not gonna lie, it’s tough sometimes. There are days when the last thing I want to do is park my behind in the chair at my desk and stare at a screen. However, there are four things that get me into that chair even on those days:
1) I’ve made a commitment to my readers. They’re having a tough year, too, and they’re waiting on my story that just might encourage them and brighten their dark day.
2) I’ve made a commitment to my publisher who has taken a chance on this new author and invested in me. The least I can do is honor my promise to deliver the best story that I can in as timely a manner as I can manage.
3) My kids are watching. They’re learning what it takes to make a dream a reality by observing what I’m willing to do and sacrifice to make it happen. They’re learning when it’s okay to take a break to invest in self-care, and when it’s time push through and do the hard thing. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, I’m a role model. It’s what I signed up for when I decided to have kids.
4) This is my calling. Deeper than the breath in my lungs, than the beat of my heart, I know that writing these stories is what God has called me to in this time and in this
place. I may have been clueless that the world would turn upside down this year, but He knew it. And He’ll carry me through it. Writing is as much a creative exercise as a time of communion for me. It’s difficult to explain, but because writing requires me to spend time with Him, I come away from it both exhausted and fulfilled.
11. What Bible verses give you comfort and peace? This is so important for life, but I know delving into God’s Word gives us so much, which in turn helps us to become better writers.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
12. As a published author, what advice would you give to beginning writers?
Learn your craft. If you think you’re ready to publish, ask three other published authors/agents/experienced editors, if they agree. The biggest mistake I see authors make is indie-publishing before they’re ready.
YouTube link to audio recording of Kathleen reading the first scene from Sing in the Sunlight:
To celebrate her upcoming release of Sing in the Sunlight, book two in her Chaparral Hearts series, Kathleen is offering a giveaway. One winner will receive:
· 1 signed, print copy of Waltz in the Wilderness (Chaparral Hearts book 1)
· 1 bookmark made and signed by Kathleen Denly
· 1 Chaparral Hearts pen
Open to U.S. winners, void where prohibited. Entries open until midnight on (seventh day after this post goes live). Winner will be announced on Kathleen’s Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram accounts and must contact Kathleen with your mailing address within seven days of announcement.