Sunday, February 2, 2014

Featured Debut Novelist: Cathleen Armstrong

Cathleen Armstrong lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband, Ed, and their corgi. 

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Though she has been in California for many years now, her roots remain deep in New Mexico where she grew up and where much of her family still lives.

After she and Ed raised three children, she returned to college and earned a BA in English.

Welcome to Last Chance won the 2009 American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Award for Women's Fiction, and is the first novel in the A Place to Call Home series.  One More Last Chance is the second novel, releasing in May 2014.


The following is a January 2014 interview with Cathleen.

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ENTER THE GIVEAWAY
AT THE END OF THE INTERVIEW

Be in to win a copy of
Welcome to Last Chance
by Cathleen Armstrong


2 print copies to be won

Contest open to entrants worldwide.

Contest runs from 31 January - 14 February NZDT


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Tell us a little about yourself.

I live in the San Francisco Bay Area now, and have for the better part of two decades, but my roots are still buried deep in the southwest—particularly in New Mexico where I grew up and where my granddad homesteaded in the early years of the last century.

I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart forever—he’s from New Mexico also—and we have three grown children, and eight amazing grandchildren. Given another few hours, I would cheerfully bore you senseless describing how amazing each actually is. We also have a corgi who, unfortunately, firmly believes that that the corgi’s regal association is due to the corgi, not the queen.


What inspired you to become a novelist, and did you always want to write?

Is there a moment when one is inspired to become a novelist? I don’t know. I do know that I was creating stories before I could write. Before I got the whole truth/fiction thing down, I would tell my parents fantastic tales as if they had actually happened, and was always so frustrated that they seemed more interested in establishing veracity than in the story itself. Eventually, though, I got it sorted out, and have wanted to write since I discovered books.

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What do you think is significant about Christian fiction? 

Of course, one of the main things I hear from readers is that they love being able to immerse themselves in a story without being suddenly jarred by language or situations they find offensive. But beyond just being clean, Christian fiction, whatever the genre, offers a thread of hope, of redemption, of promise that you just don’t find elsewhere.


How do you hope your readers react to the stories you write? 

I hope readers love my characters. While none is based on a particular person, they are all people I know—big-hearted, helpful, loving…and flawed. I would love it readers would find themselves smiling and saying, “Oh, I know that person well!”


What has been the most surprising aspect to becoming a published novelist? 

I think deep in an aspiring novelist heart is the belief that you get published and Raptured on the same day. It doesn’t happen that way, though. The sun rises on Launch Day plus one just as it did on Launch Day, only now you have more work to do. You find yourself marketing Book I, editing Book II, and desperately trying to meet the deadline for Book III all at the same time. I will say, though, nothing quite equals the thrill of walking into a big bookstore and finding your book sitting on the shelf with all the other books just as if it belongs there.


How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?            

Not since I was a young mother with babies arriving with amazing regularity have I felt so inadequate to the task. And now, as then, my “I just can’t do this” is met with, “I know. But I can.” And as I rest in him and the panic turns to peace, I am reminded again of all those promises regarding his power and his presence.

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Other than being a novelist, what other goals do you have for your life? 
Most of my goals are travel related. I’d love to visit all seven continents (still have Africa, South America, and Antarctica to go), and all fifty states. I’d like to take a trip with each of my grandchildren to a place they would find interesting. I’d like to take my Spanish and French from tourist to fluent.


What do you like to do in your spare time? 

Did I mention I have a book due in a few weeks? I’m not sure I’m quite clear on the concept of spare time. But I seem to remember that I love to read. I love to cook. I love to just putter around my house and garden. And I love to travel, even if it’s just a day trip with my husband, stopping somewhere along the way for lunch.


What can you tell us about your debut novel? 

Welcome to Last Chance is about Lainie Davis, who is running away from a bad situation in California, only to find herself stranded in the tiny ranching town of Last Chance, New Mexico.  Lainie’s never had anyone but herself to count on, and she finds the folks in Last Chance too nice, too accommodating, and way too interested in her personal life for her comfort. All she wants is to leave, but the car that brought there isn’t going anywhere—ever again. Gradually, Lainie finds herself drawn into the small town dramas of Last Chance, and to a handsome local guy with his own secrets. But the threat that drove her from California hangs over her like a summer thundercloud, and she knows that one day, that storm is going to break.

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What stories can your fans expect from you in the days ahead? 

One More Last Chance, the second book in the series “A Place to Call Home”, comes out in May 2014. It’s the story of two more residents of Last Chance, Sarah Cooley and Chris Reed. I love their story and I can’t wait for you to read it. It can be read completely independent of Welcome to Last Chance, but since it does mention a few plot points of the first book, I don’t want to give too much away. The third book in the series, the one I’m finishing up now and yet to be named, comes out about this time next year. The “supporting cast” in all three books remains the same, with two different characters taking center stage in each.


What would you like to say to your upcoming fans in New Zealand and around the world?
It is such an honor to think that Welcome to Last Chance is being read on the other side of the world in places I’ve never been—although I’d love to visit you some day. I can’t help but think how amazed the 743 residents of Last Chance, tucked away in the far southwestern corner of the American southwest, would be if they knew!                   
         

Do you have any parting words?

Just that I hope you do feel welcome when you get to Last Chance. And that you, like Lainie, feel that it is a place you’d like to stay a while. God bless you all.



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Welcome to Last Chance

She's learned you can't count on anyone--but she didn't count on landing in Last Chance.
The red warning light on her car dashboard may have driven Lainie Davis to seek help in the tiny town of Last Chance, New Mexico, but as she meets the people who make this one-horse town their home, it's her heart that is flashing bright red warning lights. These people are entirely too nice, too accommodating, and too interested in her personal life--especially since she's on the run and hoping to slip away unnoticed.

Yet in spite of herself, Lainie is increasingly drawn into the small-town dramas and to a handsome local guy with a secret of his own. Could Lainie actually make a life in this little town? Or will the past catch up to her even here in the middle of nowhere?


Purchase Welcome to Last Chance
[Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle | 
The Book Depository]


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One More Last Chance

Sarah Cooley has come home to Last Chance, New Mexico, for one reason—because it doesn't change. After an engagement gone bad with a man who wanted to change everything about her, Sarah is more than ready for the town whose motto may as well be, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."

Chris Reed, on the other hand, wants nothing more than to spark some change in the little town. As the new owner of the Dip 'n' Dine, he's shaking things up to draw folks from all over the Southwest into his restaurant.

As it turns out, the winds of change are blowing into Last Chance—just not in the ways that Sarah or Chris might expect.

With the same evocative writing and fascinating characters that won fans for her debut novel, Cathleen Armstrong invites readers back to Last Chance for a soul-searching, romantic story of two people navigating the twists and turns of small-town life.

Pre-Order One More Last Chance
[Amazon.com | Amazon Kindle | 
The Book Depository]



Buy Cathleen's Books at The Book Depository

Free Delivery on all Books at the Book Depository

ENTER THE GIVEAWAY

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Be in to win a copy of
Welcome to Last Chance
by Cathleen Armstrong


2 print copies to be won
Contest open to entrants worldwide.
Contest runs from 
31 January - 14 February NZDT
Please comment about the interview, or leave a message for Cathleen Armstrong when making a blog post comment. Simply commenting about entering the draw or wanting to win the books does not qualify for valid entry into the draw. 

All entries must be made using the Rafflecopter contest to be eligible for drawing. Winning entries drawn will have their entry options validated before being accepted - if incomplete another entry will be drawn.


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