By Deena Adams
Please welcome my online friend and Inspirational Romance author Lisa Howeler to the blog this week.
The second book in Lisa’s Spencer Valley Chronicles series, Harvesting Hope, released on August 12, and she’s offering the first book in the series, The Farmer’s Daughter, as a giveaway. Be sure to comment on this interview by September 7 for a chance to win!
Welcome to the blog, Lisa! Tell us a little about yourself and your family.
I am a former small town newspaper reporter, now homeschooling mom to two children, an almost seven-year-old and an almost fifteen-year-old. I have been married 19 years.
I bet newspaper reporting was an interesting career. Do you have hobbies you enjoy? What do you do for fun?
I photograph my family and life around me as a hobby. That is essentially my fun, besides writing and reading.
I also enjoy taking pictures of my family and would love to get more into photography. How and when did you start writing?
I started writing when I was very young and can’t remember ever stopping. I went to college for journalism and wrote for four different newspapers throughout my career.
I conducted interviews with U.S. senators and congressmen and covered stories with former presidents and murder trials during my time in newspapers. But I also interviewed everyday people in a variety of roles in life and I think the interviews with the people who weren’t famous to anyone but their families meant a lot more to me.
I began blogging at the last newspaper and continued that after I left the paper around 2011 to stay home with our son. In 2019 I started writing fiction.
Wow, you’ve had some awesome interview opportunities! Are any of your fictional works inspired by true events or personal history?
My first book, A Story to Tell, was inspired by the story of my great-grandparents. It wasn’t discussed much among family what really happened between them but there were whispers that adultery, alcoholism and abuse were involved. I took their story and “filled in the gaps”, so to speak. I imagined what really happened and went from there.
The second book with the same characters, A New Beginning, was completely fabricated.
Sounds intriguing. How long, on average, does it take you to write a book?
Most of my books have been written in six months, but that doesn’t count revisions, rewrites, and editing.
Oh, yes, the dreaded revisions, rewrites, and edits! What does your writing space look like?
Writing space. Ha! I write wherever my laptop and I end up. I often end up on the couch in the middle of all the craziness of life with two children, two cats (one of them a young kitten who is crazy), and a dog.
It’s great that you can focus and write your stories amid everyday life. How do you incorporate Christ and hope into your writing?
Through real life situations with raw people who are full of faults but want to be better. My characters are complex, imperfect, and some of their choices might rub people the wrong way.
I am a new writer so there may be times I don’t get it right when trying to explain that I don’t support some of the decisions my characters make. I hope I can continue to improve in that department.
I also hope that people will read the stories of my characters with grace and understand that these fictional lives are the real lives of people in a real, hurting, struggling world. If a person makes a decision the reader disagrees with, I hope they will realize that doesn’t mean I support that decision or I am promoting their life choice. I am telling the character’s story, not making the moral judgement on their actions. That is up to the reader and, if they were real, God.
I love stories with true to life characters. Congratulations on your most recent novel, Harvesting Hope, which released August 12. Which character in this story was easiest for you to write and why?
Actually, both of the characters were difficult for me to write. Jason was difficult because, yes, he was a man and I’m a woman writing a man’s point of view. He was also difficult to write, though, because of his past mistakes and how he struggled with it. It makes me put myself in the place of a person in my life who hurt me long ago and that was a really eye-opening experience.
Ellie was difficult to write because she is super organized and structured, as well as super stubborn, and I am stubborn but not organized or structured. At all.
I love how authors hear from God while writing their books. What else did He teach you through writing Harvesting Hope?
Patience and perseverance. He also taught me to ignore the voices of critics and push forward. I knew the messages I wanted to get across in this book and I had to shut out outside voices telling me readers of Christian Fiction wouldn’t read it. I’m actually fine if it isn’t a popular book and means something to just one person who can relate to the story of Ellie or Jason.
Ellie believes her life has to take the path she laid out for it when she was in high school and when it’s clear it isn’t going to, she feels off center and a bit lost, unsure who she is. On the other side is Jason, riddled with guilt and shame from past mistakes, unsure if God or Ellie will ever forgive him.
What was the hardest scene to write?
Without giving away spoilers, the hardest scene for me to write was an exchange between the main characters in their pastor’s office. It was highly emotionally charged and also a super awkward conversation that I think some readers of Christian Fiction won’t be comfortable with. It deals with the topic of sexual desire in a tasteful, but honest way.
Real life is messy, right? What do you hope your readers take away from the book?
I really want this book to be a message of forgiveness, of surrender to God and His plan. I want people to understand that God can forgive them of their worst mistakes, of the things they did that went against everything they believe in or had planned for their life.
A great lesson for us all! I wish you the best with this new book and with your others as well. Thanks again for sharing with us today.
Join the Conversation. Do you like reading stories with flawed characters in messy situations? What about stories that offer hope amid the struggles? What stood out to you in Lisa’s interview?
Don’t forget to comment by September 7 for a chance to win a copy of The Farmer’s Daughter!
Harvesting Hope by Lisa Howeler
Click the book cover for purchase link
Can she forgive him for what he can’t forget?
The last year has been a whirlwind of trials and triumphs for the Tanner family.
With injuries, near foreclosures, and a family tragedy behind them, Jason Tanner, the oldest of the Tanner children, is facing his own struggle after his longtime girlfriend, Ellie Lambert, overhears the secret he’d planned to tell her himself.
Now, in addition to trying to keep his family’s dairy farm sustainable during a hard economic season, Jason is dealing with the heartbreak of Ellie’s decision to end an almost 10-year relationship.
In an effort to bury his feelings, he throws himself into his work on the farm and into volunteering with Spencer Valley’s small volunteer fire company, where tragedy strikes the foundation of his faith during an already vulnerable time.
Ellie has her own challenges to face as she tries to navigate a time of life where her expectations have been turned upside down and shaken out.
As she copes with the decision to walk away from her relationship with the man she saw as her best friend, her flighty, less responsible younger sister shows up to further complicate an already complicated situation.
Lisa Robinson-Howeler is a writer and photographer from Northeastern Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and two children. She is a former small-town newspaper reporter who decided to write her first novel in 2019. Her fiction focuses on issues of personal failings and triumphs, romance, and personal growth through faith and life lessons.
Lisa has had her writing and photography featured in newspapers, magazines, and online nationally and internationally. In addition to being a novelist, she is a blogger and a homeschooling mother.
Please share this interview on social media to spread the word about Lisa’s books!
If you missed last week’s interview with Janine Rosche, find it here.