Boondock Ramblings

Tell Me More About . . . Deena Adams, author

Deena Adams writes fiction and shares interviews about other authors on her blog and today she was nice enough to take part in my Tell Me More About feature.

Tell me more about   . . . is a bi-weekly feature which focuses on everyday people from all walks of life and professions. Each post highlights their work and the part they play in our communities.

Tell us a little bit about yourself, anything you think my readers need to know about the woman who is Deena Adams.

Thanks for the opportunity to share on your blog, Lisa! I was born and raised in northwest Georgia and married my high school sweetheart at age eighteen. I followed him around the country during his twenty-year Naval career until we settled in Virginia in 1994. We raised three children and have seven amazing grandkids we spoil as often as possible.

God called my husband to the ministry, and we planted a church in 1999, two years before his Navy retirement. He still pastors that church.

A few of my favorite people/things: Jesus, my family, friends, chocolate, reading, writing, comfy jeans, flip-flops, watermelon, and ribeye steak.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Growing up, English and Grammar were always my favorite subjects and where I excelled, but I never considered writing professionally until 2018.

In 2016, our best friends and ministry partners left our church and walked away from our friendship. I spiraled into a pit and struggled to find joy. After two years of wallowing in depression, I asked God to give me something to pour myself into. In the summer of 2018, He led me to pursue writing Christian Fiction.

I had no idea how to write a novel, so I scoured the internet for information. Innumerable YouTube videos, blogs, and online courses were my tutors. In November 2018, I participated in Nanowrimo (National Novel Writing Month), and in three months, I had written “The End” on a very messy, way too long, first draft. I was hooked and have thrown myself into this crazy writing life ever since.

Tell us a little about your already completed/published projects.

Instead of saying I’m unpublished, I like to say I’m pre-published. I’ve completed the first draft of two novels, and I wrote a novelette, which I offer free as a thank you for newsletter subscribers.

My first novel is about a guilt-ridden young widow who becomes a court-appointed special advocate for foster children to pay penance for her past sins. The novelette, Behind the Scenes, is a prequel to the novel and features the novel’s hero, a behavioral psychologist and homeless shelter manager, as a child.

Inspired by personal experience, the second novel is about a ministry couple whose teenage daughter runs away and returns home pregnant.

What are the main themes of your novels or stories?

My stories revolve around the topics of foster care, adoption, alcoholism, abortion, drug abuse, mental illness, rejection, death, etc.

As an avid reader, I’m drawn to real-life, deep issues where the characters face seemingly impossible challenges and overcome through faith and hope in Christ. If the books are based on true stories, even better. I read not only for enjoyment, but for spiritual growth and inspiration. So, that’s what I’m writing.

What advice would you give to other writers who hope to someday write and publish a book?

I’d say go into it with realistic expectations, and make sure it’s what God has called you to do, or you won’t stick with it. I jumped in with both feet and my head in the clouds, having no idea what I was getting into. There’s so much more that goes into publishing a book than writing it. I continually remind myself that God opened this door and led me through it, so I keep plugging along.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Sleep. LOL

Seriously, when I’m not doing laundry, cleaning the house, cooking, or taking care of those “have to” responsibilities, I’m usually in my office doing something writing related.

For fun, I enjoy hanging out with my family and playing board games. My son’s a board game fanatic and is always introducing us to a new game. And of course, I love reading every spare minute I can find, which is usually in bed right before I go to sleep. When the weather’s nice, I like bike riding.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

That I could just sit at my computer and type out an entire story without making an outline ahead of time. By nature, I’m a planner. I despise spur-of-the-moment decisions and always prepare for everything way in advance. When I tried to plot out my second novel, it didn’t work. The characters took me where they wanted to go, and it wasn’t where I had planned.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

When I was in elementary school, I wanted to be a teacher. As I got older, I wanted to be a lawyer but determined that would take too much schooling. I was a super-fast typist, so I considered court-reporting but I couldn’t decide and didn’t want to waste my parents’ money or my time, so I opted not to attend college, went to work at a bank, and then married six months later.  

For fun, what’s your favorite snack when you’re writing?

Trail mix.

Where can people learn more about your work and connect with you?

People can find out more about me and my work on my website. And I love connecting through my newsletter and on social media. If readers are interested in following my writing journey, subscribing to my newsletter is the best way to stay up to date. And subscribers will get a free download of my novelette, Behind the Scenes.

They can aslo find more information at the following sites:

Website

Newsletter Subscription

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram

Goodreads

Pinterest

BookBub


As a Jesus girl for more than thirty years, Deena understands how important hope is to daily life. That’s why she’s passionate about inspiring others through writing hope-filled fiction and highlighting other Christian authors on her blog. 

Deena is an active member of ACFW and two Virginia writer groups, board member of ACFW Virginia, founder of the Marathon online writer’s group, 2019 Foundations contest finalist, 2019 First Impressions contest double finalist and winner, and 2021 Genesis contest finalist.

She lives with her husband near the coast in beautiful Virginia. When she’s not writing, reading, or serving in her church, you’ll find her hanging out with family and friends and doting on her seven grandchildren.


Thank you to Deena for taking part in Tell Me More About . . . today. Do you know someone I should feature? Let me know in the comments.

Tell Me More About . . . Robin W. Pearson, author

Tell Me More About . . . is a feature which focuses on every day people from a variety of walks of life who impact the world around them in big or small ways.

Robin W. Pearson is one my favorite authors and she’s only written two books. Robin, if you are reading this, I’m not only saying this about you to flatter you. I love the way you weave a story. I’m very serious.

Her debut book, A Long Time Comin’ is award winning (the Christy Award which is one of the top literary awards in Christian fiction) and she released ‘Til I Want No More earlier this year and showed she’s not a one-hit writer. She’s just finished the manuscript for her third book and I am so excited to find out what it is all about I’ve been stalking her social media for when she shares that news. Okay, I’m not really stalking her social media. I am occassionally checking in for when she makes that announcement. Anyhow, let’s get on to telling you, my readers, more about Robin.

Thank you, Robin, for agreeing to take part in this feature.

First, tell us a little bit about your background. Where are you from originally? Tell us about your family, your interests and your hobbies, any jobs you had before you were an author. 

I’m a hugger by birth, though that may have something to do with being born, raised, and educated in North Carolina. After graduating from college, I took my hugs on the road when Hubby and I settled in Massachusetts. There, I started as an admin for Houghton Mifflin Company and worked my way up to an editor before we relocated, grew our family with a few dogs and more than a few little people, and I began freelancing as a writer and editor. A few years ago, Hubby and I returned to our home state, but I’d have to use both hands to count the number of times we’ve moved up, down, ad around the East Coast.  

As a wife, writer, and a homeschooling mama of seven, I don’t have much time for my “interests and hobbies.” In a perfect world, I would read as much as I wanted, do Sudoku puzzles and crosswords, watch crime dramas, eat Chinese and Mexican food (on separate plates, mind you), and stay up late and sleep in.  

You’ve had two fiction books published in the last couple of years. Tell us what inspired you to start writing fiction? If you don’t mind, please also share what inspired your first book A Long Time Comin’ and your second book, ‘Til I Want No More. 

My family inspired me to write—the people I came from and the ones who came from me. I wanted to preserve our traditions and stories and pass them along, and one day this fictional character popped into my mind—Granny B. She took a seat on her front porch with her bushel of butter beans and commenced to telling me her story about her children and her life in Spring Hope. There was nothing I could do but write it all down, and that became my debut, A Long Time Comin’.  

A different season of life and the Biblical story of Jacob and Esau inspired ‘Til I Want No More, my second novel. Like Jacob, my main character Maxine Owens is carrying around a life-sized burden she’s run from for years. But one day, her “Esau” showed up.  

I want to use my work—both my fiction and my devotionals—to show what real faith looks like in real life and in real time.  

What advice would you give to other writers who hope to someday write a full book or simply enjoy writing in general?

Throw away your laptop and find a job as a calculus teacher. Totally less stressful. If that’s not an option then… 

  • pray and seek God for your purpose and stay true to it,  
  • don’t keep track of the rejection letters or mount the commendations on your wall,  
  • take lots of notes, and write down your ideas, no matter how strange, inconsequential, or random, 
  • write regularly, 
  • write your own story, not someone else’s. 


What hobbies do you have outside of writing? If you don’t have time for hobbies, what hobbies do you wish you had?
 

I wish I loved to exercise, but I’m persnickety enough to make myself do what I don’t want to do…sometimes. And as much as I love food, I should be able to grow it. We started a container garden, so we’ll see how that goes. Also, I think as a homeschooling mama, I should be able sew or regularly engage in some type of craft-related, useful activity, but…alas, no. While I am creative and imaginative, these fingers were made for typing, playing the piano and board games, and pressing the buttons on my remote.  



What has been the best part of being an author? 

Doing what I love amidst the people I love where I love to be. It’s a gift from the Lord. And there’s nothing like hearing from a reader that something I wrote impacted or inspired them. So grateful! 

What advice would you offer to the younger version of yourself?
“Don’t let acceptance (or lack of it) make or break you. Believe what God says about you and to you. Remember He made you exactly the way you are, fearfully and wonderfully, despite anything else you see, read, or hear. Now, quit your whining.”

Please let us know about any future projects you may have coming up and where readers can find out more about you, your books, and future projects?

I’ve recently submitted my third manuscript to my publisher, so right now I’m checking my e-mail thirty times an hour for word from my editor and resisting the urge to pepper her with “So, what do you think?” emails. This next book is set for release in Spring 2022. Currently, you can read my first and second books wherever books are sold and on the shelf of your local library. Readers can learn more about who gives me gray hair and what makes me sing at RobinWPearson.com, in my Robin’s Nest newsletter, or find me on social media using @robinwpearson.  

I remember the first time my son and I read a Maureen Wright book. It was “Sleep, Big Bear, Sleep,” the sweet story about a bear who is being reminded by Old Man Winter that he needs to sleep for the winter, but doesn’t seem to be able to hear him, so instead Big Bear ends up on a middle of the night adventure.

Each night we read it, we couldn’t only read it just once. My son would ask for it to be read again and again and it was one of the few books I didn’t mind repeating. The story is creative and catchy and the artwork by Will Hillenbrand is mesmerizing. Flash forward to now and there are now three Big Bear books and a collection of other books by Maureen that I now read to my 4-year-old daughter. Her current favorite is also Maureen’s best seller, “Sneezy the Snowman.”

What’s special about Maureen’s stories, beyond the fact they are a delight to read and the artwork is so stellar, is that they are written by someone who lives in the town my children and I now live in. Even though I’ve seen her often, either reading her book at the library, or selling her copies personally at local events, I still feel like I’m meeting a celebrity each time I see her, maybe because her stories have been such a part of the bonding time with my children.

I’m so thankful to Maureen for taking a few moments to answer some questions for this weeks Tell Me More About . . . feature and that I’m able to introduce her special books to my readers.

45095165_166161841001041_1170191499384586240_nCould you tell us a little bit about yourself, such as where you grew up, family, etc. ?

I grew up in Athens, PA. I met my husband, Don, at Main Elementary in Athens in fourth grade. We have three grown sons, two daughters-in-law, and three little grandsons We live in Athens Township in the old farmhouse his great-grandparents built in the 1880’s.

When did you realize you enjoyed writing?
I was in third grade when I knew I wanted to be a writer I was doing a writing homework assignment. I even remember where I was sitting in the house that I grew up in when this feeling came over me — an awareness that I loved to write.

 What made you decide to write books for children?

I loved reading books to my children when they were young It was my favorite thing to do with them.

What inspired you to write the Big Bear series?

I am a lot like Big Bear. We both usually think we are right and most of the time we are both wrong!

Which of your books seems to be the most popular among children?

“Sneezy the Snowman” is my best seller. I recently received a framed copy of the book from my publisher because it has sold over 100,000 copies. It was totally unexpected. At the time, I was waiting for my niece to mail me a picture frame. When I opened the package, I wondered, “Why did Anna put “Sneezy the Snowman” in the frame?” Then I read the plaque on the frame.

 What authors have inspired you over the years?

I have been inspired by any well-written rhyming book.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, what is it?

If I have a story I’m working on, I am excited to get out of bed in the morning to work on it. I read aloud my stories dozens and dozens of times to get the rhythm right. Whenever my cat Juanita hears me, she runs to my side and sits on the arm of the sofa. She is always the first one to hear my stories.

Do you have future projects coming up? Books or otherwise?

My next book is “Super Rooster to the Rescue” due out in August of 2020. Rob McClurkan is the illustrator. It will be my tenth picture book.

 Anything else you would like people to know about you or your books?

I love reading to children and encouraging them to follow their dreams. I was rejected by publishers for twenty years before an editor, Margery Cuyler at Marshall Cavendish, took me under her wing. I will always be grateful to her for pulling my story out of “the slush pile.” (Unsolicited manuscripts on an editor’s desk.)


Do you know someone you think would be great for my Tell Me More About . . . feature? Maybe that someone is you! You, or the person you suggest, doesn’t need to be from my area to be featured. You can send any suggestions for features to lisahoweler@gmail.com or use the contact form at the top of the page.

When Dave Page found himself interested in growing a vineyard on his property in Columbia Crossroads, Pa., he had no idea the plot of land that he’d set aside for growing grapes would become a sought-after wedding destination for brides and grooms.

When you step outside the front door of Dave and Denise Page’s home there is a four-acre field lined with 1,800 grapevines of eight different varietals of grapes. Off to one side of what Dave calls “D’Vine Vineyard” (incorporating he and Denise’s names) is a handmade wooden pergola with a swing where brides and grooms pause to have their photos taken on their wedding day. Across the road from the vineyard is a rustic barn, sprawling cornfields, and a mini orchard of apple, peach and plum trees. Behind the barn is a pond that looks like a painting and an empty field perfect for setting up tents and tables for wedding receptions or other celebrations.

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DSC_2557Dave owns a total of 120 acres, part of which he rents out to a neighboring farmer to grow corn.

Denise says it was their niece who unwittingly started the now thriving wedding venue business in 2014 by telling the Pages she thought their rustic barn and the former working farm would be the perfect location for her wedding.

Though puzzled by the interest in the barn, built in 1907 by Dave’s great-grandfather, Fred, the Pages agreed to the request and began to prepare the space for wedding guests. The barn hadn’t been a working barn since Dave sold the cows off in the 1980s and was only being used to store equipment and hay. The Pages would soon learn that vintage, rustic, old-fashioned, or whichever term you might want to use, were becoming popular themes among young, and even older, couples as they looked for wedding venues.

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Their nieces’ wedding was photographed by Danielle Barden, a well-known wedding photographer from Tioga County, Pa., who shared the photos on social media, Denise says. The photos went semi-viral and more requests for the location began to flow in. The vineyard, located about 40 miles South of the New York Finger Lakes region, has booked close to 50 weddings and events since that first wedding in 2014.

DSC_2562The Pages were pleasantly surprised by the attention but didn’t make plans to quit their day jobs to start a full-time venue or event location.

Instead, Dave still works as a classifier for the American Holstein Association and Denise is a full-time nurse. A full-time event venue and winery may come someday, but not until they both retire, says Denise. For now, the pair books weddings or other events for the weekends, in a space where the renters do most of the work, including setting up and tearing down. Their children Brandon and Denee and daughter-in-law Cheryl help the Page’s run the business.

Denise and Dave never expected their site to become such an attraction, they say. The land began as a dairy farm more than 100 years ago and is one of only a few century farms in Bradford County. Five generations of Dave’s family farmed the land.

The farm was passed to Dave in the 1970s by his grandparents, Max and Louise VanVeghten. The barn is all the original wood, having only a new roof put on a couple of times over the years and some of the floorboards have been replaced. An addition was added around the time Dave took over. Dave has now turned the bottom of the barn, and part of the addition, into an area to press and ferment the wine, as well as a small bar area to be used to serve guests refreshments. The wine press is locked off from guests during events, per state law.

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Last year Dave also turned one of the old stalls into a changing room for the bride and her bridal party, complete with full-length mirrors, outlets for hairdryers and curling irons and even an old barber chair where hair stylists can prepare the bridal party members’ hair.

Dave added the deck to the back of the barn around the time of the first wedding.

Until he retires, Dave spends any free time he has testing wines, experimenting and sharing the results with a select few. He’s happy to show friends and family the wine bladder presses, the bulk milk tanks that he’s transformed to hold the wine, and the barrels where the wine ages, he says.

But for now he’s only making what he calls practice wine.

“We have a license in holding but we don’t bottle,” according to Denise. “We make wine for our own use. In the future probably we will do festivals.”

To learn more about booking D’Vine Vineyard visit their website at https://dvinevineyardandwinery.com/ or follow them on Facebook.

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Lisa Hurst is the author of a year long devotional she updates each week at 365 Days in the Presence. 

She also kindly wrote a guest post for this blog last year about victory.

Currently living in Athens, Pa., Lisa is a Southern girl (even if she is living in the North at the moment because, as “they” say, “you can take the girl out of the South but you can’t take the South out of the girl.”). She is the mom of four children and works from home in her and her husband’s business. She is a musician, worship leader, writer, and a strong woman of God.

Thank you, Lisa for letting me feature you on this installment of Tell Me More About…

000015__DSC9221Tell us a little bit about yourself.

I am from Arkansas. The South has roots deep down inside my heart. In the same breath I am content and flourishing here in PA, while longing for the comforts of “home”. There is such beauty here, don’t get me wrong, but I think most people love their home state most. We all look forward to being able to move back there one day.

My husband and I run Hurst Consulting INC (HCI). We are blessed to be able to work side by side. When we were first married we discovered that we could work well together in a business setting, so deciding to have this business was not a big stretch for us, relationally speaking. We have 4 kids, Noah, Naomi, Micah, and Hannah. We adore them. I really love watching different personalities develop.

What fills your days?

My days are full. Ha ha. After I take the kids to school, I am either volunteering at school, working with Chris, writing, or planning and singing worship. It feels like this is the busiest my life has ever been, but it’s also the most satisfying. I love leading worship. It’s my first love.

000002__DSC9067---CopyHow did you become interested in writing? You are also a talented musician. How did you become involved in music and what inspires your musical passion? How do you use your talent?

Some of my earliest memories involve making up songs and humming tunes. Music has always moved me in a deep, deep place. After graduating High School, I went on to college and earned a Bachelors in Music with emphasis on vocal performance. That is where I really began to walk into my primary calling as a worship leader. The ups and downs of life almost took me over during the college years, and worship became an escape. Now, I take great pleasure in leading others into the Presence of the Lord through worship. I lead worship in several different venues, with a variety of age groups. I guess you could say my days are full of worship.

I began to write during college. When I hit rock bottom and began to search out what it meant to walk with Jesus, I got a devotional that also had a journaling section. That was the best decision ever. Writing became a release to me. Now writing is like a conversation. I talk to God, He talks to me. I just love it!

000001__DSC9062---CopyShortly after I married Chris, God began to tell me He wanted me to be a writer. I said, “You’re gonna have to make that happen. I have no idea where to start.” So, the last 13 years have been a journey toward developing as a writer and taking one small step of obedience after another. Writing 365 Days in the Presence devotional is one of those steps. As 2017 was nearing its end, I began to ask God for a word for my life in 2018.

Every year I ask Him for a word, and every year He gives one and I spend the next year watching that word develop in my life. But this time when I asked He said, “365 days in the Presence”. And I would say, “Ok. Now, what’s Your word for 2018?”. Once again, I heard, “365 Days in the Presence”. Then I saw in a snapshot, that He wanted me to commit to writing a devotional and publishing it weekly through 2018. I agreed and immediately after I went public with the idea, He spoke my word for 2018 to me. How cool is that? He wanted me to first obey a new calling, then He released a sweet word for my year.

What inspires you beyond your writing?

I am inspired by many things, but one thing I love more than most is watching kids and teens learn to hear from God. I wish I had been taught to hear and worship at that age, so it brings me great pleasure and encouragement to lead them into His presence. Kids can hear so easily. It’s truly humbling to listen to how God speaks so gently to their hearts.

000009__DSC9141.jpgWhat is the best part of being a Mom and home-based business owner?

The best part of being a mom and home-based business owner is the flexibility. Being mom is my first calling and priority. Working from home allows me the luxury of helping at school, and dropping off and picking up my kids from school. I like to encourage and pray with them in the mornings on the way to school, and I like being the one they process their day with on the way home from school. That is important and sacred time.

In a final note, I would say that one of the most important things I’ve discovered about being a wife and mother is, I must keep growing and “becoming” even while I’m taking care of everyone else. In other words, I can’t use being a mom as an excuse to not be continually walking with and being changed by God. In fact, I’ve watched my husband’s love for me increase the closer I walk with Jesus, and my kids act more stable and secure when I’m in constant communion with Him and ministering as He leads.

If you know a person, place, book or event that should be highlighted through a Tell Me More About feature let me know in the comments or at lisahoweler@gmail.com

Tell Me More About: Sven Berger, photographer

I’m so excited to welcome Sven Berger to my Tell Me More About. . . feature. Sven is a favorite photographer of mine who I first discovered on Flickr. He captures beautiful, whimsical images of his children and life in Germany. He is from Dresden, Germany where he lives with his three children and wife. His images have a magical, mysterious quality about them and I have to explore each inch of the frame when I see them. After seeing what’s in his camera bag I admit I’m jealous of his equipment. That 70-300? Sigh. I need to find a way to get one of those! 

Thank you for letting me feature you, Sven!

Tell us a little bit about you. Your background, where your from, etc.

I am a married photographer and father of three kids. Born in 1972, I grew up in Dresden, East Germany. My love for photography started early, when I was at school. I studied to become an IT professional. But after the birth of my first child photography became a passion for me again, as I tried to capture every second of the passing time. I am passionate about documenting real life moments and I am a long time contributor for Getty Images and specialize in people photography.  
 

How did you become interested in photography?

I was interested as a child in photography … at that time it was the film camera. I was using my SLR EXA1b camera but sold it after the reunion of Germany. With the birth of my first child I knew I had to take pictures – a lot of pictures – so bought my first digital camera – my Fuji FinePix E900. But I noticed very quickly that I need a DSLR  so thaf started my love affair with Canon.

What’s in your camera bag? 

Canon – still Canon. I am using my Canon 6D, most of the time with my 70-200 2.8L lens. It’s perfect when you want to capture children.  

What are your favorite subjects to photograph? 

I love to take photos of people – from the newborn age on up. I love to capture the daily moments and sometimes I do some fine art shoots. I am not a landscape photographer. I just started food photography too, something that  I really love.

What interests do you have beyond photography?

 I love nature. I love to be out there and I love music. I was born in 1972 so I am a fan of the 80s and a big fan of Depeche Mode.

What inspires you? In photography and in life.

In photography I got my inspiration from other photographers. There are so many awesome and great artists out there. It is such a great opportunity for us these days – we are able to got so much information and there is so much inspiration out there.  In life I got a lot of inspiration from many great persons in Germany just like Vera Birkenbihl, Wolf-Dieter Storl and Christian Bischoff. I am trying to have my very own opinion.

What advice do you have for other photographers or artists?

Find your way and don’t stop walking or moving forward. Do it and you will have fun and success.

Who are some of your favorite photographers?

I adore Sally Manns work, Tytia Habing, Alain Laboile, Niki Boon, Cris Stephens. Yes all great black and white artists… and I know I forgot many.

Oh and I love the older work of Elena Shumilova and the magic which is Megan Loeks able to create. 

You can find Sven’s work at

www.svenberger.de

www.facebook.com/svenbergerfotografie

www.instagram.com/svenbergerfotografie

www.flickr.com/svenbergerfotografie