Yes. It is Thursday. So why am I posting a 3 Questions Wednesday interview? Because I zealously overbooked yesterday and I like each guest to have their own day. And today’s guest, my friend, Janalyn, has a new book just released. Make sure and read to the end to enjoy a short excerpt from Hills of Nevermore.
So let’s get to the first question:
What inspires you?
Janalyn: Many of my best book ideas have come to me while in nature. The sensation of not being completely in control takes me outside my comfort zone, where inspiration breathes more readily into my soul. The beauty of my surroundings brings out the poet in my soul, and God seems very near.
Beauty bringing out the poet in us. I love that. Now…
You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?
Janalyn: I’m the variegated crayon because I’m so eclectic. I’ve tried to fit into a one-genre-per-author publishing world, but that’s not how I’m wired. I’m a storyteller in the old-fashioned sense of the word. If I lived in a primitive culture where people gathered around the fire to socialize, I’d be the one spinning tales. That’s exactly what I did as a child. The neighborhood kids would sit around me on our front lawn and beg me for just one more story. I don’t remember anything I told them, but I must have known how to please my audience.
A Romantic Times review of Hills of Nevermore (Montana Gold, book 1), which just released May 1st, credited me with skillfully weaving together several genres. While that’s a nice compliment, the truth is that I just told the story.
Storytelling is a wonderful talent. Last question:
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Janalyn: I didn’t give it much thought until I turned twelve. That’s when my sixth-grade teacher suggested I consider becoming a novelist. His suggestion came on the heels of a rollicking short story I wrote for his class about some sort of high-seas adventure I’ve since forgotten. Despite my stint as the neighborhood storyteller, I had to move past my painful shyness and self-doubt to believe that I could write books.
Even then, I let a serious case of impostor syndrome hold me back. If you’re not familiar with that term, it’s when you sabotage your own success because you don’t believe you deserve it. It’s not uncommon among high achievers in particular. I had no clue I suffered from this affliction until I wrote a post about it for Live Write Breathe, my website for writers, and noticed familiar symptoms.
Recognizing that impostor syndrome holds you back takes you a long way toward overcoming it. Now I question every self-limiting thought and step out in faith to accomplish things I never thought possible.
We’re glad you overcame. 🙂 Thanks so much for dropping by today, Janalyn!
Janalyn is giving away a free copy of DawnSinger, the first book in Tales of Faeraven, which readers liken to a medieval historical novel despite its epic fantasy tendencies. Comment to enter.
Purchase Hills of Nevermore (just 99¢ for a limited time) and receive a free copy of Hearts Reunited, a western historical romance by award-winning author Miralee Ferrell. Read the details here: http://janalynvoigt.com/hills-of-nevermore-launch.
Enter the giveaway drawing to win a free antique locket like the one in the opening scene of Hills of Nevermore: http://janalynvoigt.com/hon-locket-giveaway.
A headstrong young princess and the guardian sworn to protect her travel on winged horses across dangerous territory in a desperate bid to fulfill prophecy and release restoration into a divided land.
Can Mercedes and Jesse set aside the old family feud and find their way back to the love that had only started to blossom when Jesse left?
Hills of Nevermore
By Janalyn Voigt
In an Idaho Territory boom town, America Liberty Reed overhears circuit preacher Shane Hayes try to persuade a hotel owner to close his saloon on Sunday. Shane lands face-down in the mud for his trouble, and there’s talk of shooting him. America intervenes and finds herself in an unexpectedly personal conversation with the blue-eyed preacher. Certain she has angered God in the past, she shies away from Shane.
Addie Martin, another widow, invites America to help in her cook tent in Virginia City, the new mining town. Even with Addie’s teenage son helping with America’s baby, life is hard. Shane urges America to depart for a more civilized location. Neither Shane’s persuasions nor road agents, murder, sickness, or vigilante violence can sway America. Loyalty and ambition hold her fast until dire circumstances force her to confront everything she believes about herself, Shane, and God.
Book’s Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1943959269/
Janalyn Voigt’s lifelong love of storytelling began in childhood when she dreamed up her own bedtime stories. She grew into a precocious reader, a pastime she credits with teaching her to write. Janalyn trained formally with Christian Writers Guild.
Today she is a multi-genre author and literary judge. Janalyn is represented by Wordserve Literary. Learn more about Janalyn, read the first chapters of her books, subscribe to her e-letter, and join her reader clubs at http://janalynvoigt.com.
Links to Janalyn Voigt Online:
Website for authors: http://livewritebreathe.com
Sign up for Janalyn’s mailing list: http://janalynvoigt.com/join-e-letter
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Janalyn-Voigt/e/B008CEX4P4
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JanalynVoigt
Goodreads Author Page: http://janalynvoigt.com/goodreads
Bookbub Author Page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/janalyn-voigt
Hills of Nevermore
Idaho Territory, May, 1863
AMERICA WATCHED HER WAGON TRAIN SHRINK steadily in the distance, dust billowing in its wake. How could it have traveled so far in such a short time? Oh, why hadn’t she let someone know she’d needed to stop? Her friend Addie, taking a turn holding America’s baby, might not look for her unless Liberty woke and cried for her mother. Bill Baker, driving her oxen for a spell out of kindness, wouldn’t notice her absence for some time.
“I can’t have lost it!” Tears blurred the trail beneath America’s feet. She’d been a fool to wear the locket Kyle had given her. She should have kept it stashed away. When she’d felt her necklace’s chain break, she’d stopped walking at once. Why couldn’t she find it? If she didn’t come across the locket soon, she’d have to leave it behind. Catching up to the wagon train would take some doing even now, and every passing moment carried her baby, only three months old, farther away.
A meadowlark trilled, the song a sharp accent against the deeper thud of hooves.
A shiver ran down her spine. She jerked her gaze upward.
A spotted pony pranced on the path. The rider on the horse’s back watched her from dark eyes. Beneath the quillwork adorning the brave’s chest, his skin gleamed the color of robust tea. A black stripe of paint slashed across the bridge of his nose. Two tight braids fell to the sash that bound fringed leggings at the waist. Strips of cloth crisscrossed a wide forehead, and feathers fanned sideways behind his head.
A group of Indians on ponies clustered beside him. One of them called out, laughing.
The brave held up his hand for silence.
Wisps of hair escaped America’s bonnet, stinging her eyes. She clawed them away with a trembling hand. One thought crashed into another, beating to the rhythm of her wild pulse. Could she outrun them? No. What would they do to her once they caught her? Horrible. She trembled at the very idea. They could scalp and murder her. Or. If they let her live, that might be worse.
With fear burning the back of her throat and her heart pounding like the wings of a canary against the bars of its cage, America walked toward the brave. Her legs shook so badly that they threatened to collapse. But she lifted her head high and pretended chance encounters like this happened every day.
She picked her way through the sagebrush and bunch grass beside the trail. The spotted pony snorted and showed the whites of its eyes. The leader’s dark gaze swept over America, making the hair on the back of her neck prickle.
The ground gave way as pain shot through her foot. She pitched forward and sprawled beside the pony’s prancing hooves.
The brave gave a command in his native tongue that quieted his pony. He leaned down to her. She stared at the hand he extended, then past it to his face. He watched her with an expression that told her nothing.
She pushed to her knees, drew breath, and took his hand.
The brave tugged America upward and caught her in a strong grip, lifting her to sit in front of him. She perched before him astride the pony with her skirt riding up to her knees. Heat rushed into her cheeks at being so immodestly displayed. He tightened his arm around her middle, and she fought the urge to scream. Whatever he intended, a clear head might help her survive. He’d spared her life so far, but for what purpose? She’d heard tales of women forced to live with natives but had never thought such a fate might befall her.
The pony lurched into motion beneath her and went through its paces, finally stretching into a gallop. The wind of their passing fanned her face. The thundering of hooves told her the other braves followed. The ground sped by as they overtook the train and curved into the path it would travel.
But this made no sense. Why would the brave carry her toward, rather than away from, the wagon train? Did he mean to trade her for goods?
A shout went up from the wagons.
The pony slid to a stop, and her captor lowered her with swift ease. He wheeled his pony to face his waiting companions but looked back with a smile touching his lips. “Brave woman.”
“You speak English?” The words jerked from her.
His smile broke into a grin, and the pony plunged forward as the shadow of a cloud raced over the ground.
America stared after this brave who had turned from captor to rescuer. He’d done none of the things she’d dreaded and everything necessary to help her. His behavior didn’t reconcile with what she’d been told about Indians, but now was not the time to puzzle that out.
She ran toward the wagons with the prairie wavering through a sheen of tears. Two riders pulled ahead of the train to meet her. America’s joy at being set free plummeted at first sight of the red-headed miner, Pete Amesly. Why would the last person she wanted to see right now ride out to meet her?
Grant Hadley, the wagon train’s scout, reined in his Morgan beside her. “Are you all right?”
Pete drew in his chestnut quarter horse on her other side and peered at her with narrowed eyes. “What were you doing with those Indians, anyways?”
“I’m well, thank you,” she answered Grant, ignoring Pete.
The grizzled scout squinted. “What happened?”
“I stopped for a few minutes and came across some Indians.” Describing her actions made them seem even more foolish.
Pete snorted. “Why would you do a fool thing like that?”
Heat flamed across America’s cheeks. She wasn’t about to tell Pete about Kyle or the locket he’d given her.
The wagon train reached them then, sparing her from commenting as the oxen lumbered by on either side. Here on the flat prairie, the drivers fanned out their wagons to avoid breathing one another’s dust.
“That’s not important.” Grant sent Pete a scalding look before returning his attention to America. “Let’s get you back to your wagon.”
“There’s Addie now.” She gave him a grateful smile and moved off to intercept her friend. Walking a safe distance beside her wagon and the oxen driven by her mop-headed son, Travis, Addie cradled Liberty in her arms.
“I was wondering where you were.” Addie gave her a quiet smile. “My arms are starting to ache.” She looked past America to Grant and Pete. “Gentlemen?”
America took Liberty’s weight into her arms and held her daughter close. Here was a treasure more precious than any locket. She fell into step beside Addie with tears blurring her vision.
Grant kept pace astride his Morgan. “She’s had some sort of mishap, ma’am.” He cleared his throat. “Maybe you can ask her about it. Find out if she’s come to harm in any way.” His ears turning pink, he gestured with his head to Pete, and they rode off.
Addie turned a frowning face toward her. “Tell me what happened.”
“He helped me.” America spoke on a note of wonder.
“Who helped you?”
“The Indian brave. I thought he meant to kill or kidnap me, or else trade me for goods. But he helped me instead.”
Addie shook her head. “Tell me from the beginning.”
“I lagged behind the wagon train.”
“You left the train on your own?”
“It was more like it left me, but yes. I meant to stop only for a short while to—well, to look for something I dropped.”
“But you know not to fall behind. Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Mr. Hughes was talking with you, or I’d have said something. I didn’t want to call attention to myself. I was bound and determined not to slow the train.”
Addie sighed. “Does this have anything to do with Pete Amesly’s objections to your joining us?”
Moisture prickled America’s eyes. “Maybe he’s right. I can barely do my share with a baby to take care of.”
“That’s hardly your fault. Granted, if you had asked to join the train when we first set out, our captains might have refused, but leaving you stranded at Fort Bridger would be quite a different matter. Christian charity required us to rescue a widow in need. Under the circumstances, no one minds doing a little extra work for you.”
“Oh, pshaw! Pete is so taken with gold fever he’s lost his manners. The others don’t feel the same.”
“I fear he may be right, though. I’ve slowed the train and taken others from their own chores to attend mine. I can’t help feeling like a burden.”
“Why, America Liberty Reed! I’m appalled you would say such a thing. I don’t know what I’d have done after my Clyde—” She took a breath. “After the accident, I felt I couldn’t go on. My son tried to support me, but Travis had his own grief to bear over his father’s loss. Your company eased us both. You’re a blessing not a burden and remember—I need your help cooking for the miners at Bannack.”
The idea of cooking for miners held little appeal, but other options were in short supply. “I’m touched by your kindness, although I’m not sure why you want to cast your lot in with mine.”
Addie smiled. “That’s easy. Having your help makes me feel less—alone. And you need a friend. Never mind all that about not knowing you well, by the by. I’m a good judge of people, and I could tell right off you’re decent folk.”
Addie’s judgment of people must have faltered, but no need to tell her that. Liberty stirred. Her blue eyes opened to stare at America—eyes like her father’s. America hitched a breath.
No one ever had to know her secret.