Main Character Monday: Anna Marie Johnson

anna's songWelcome to Main Character Monday. Today my guest is Anna Marie Johnson from Anna’s Song by Brenda Gates. Welcome, Anna Marie. Let’s get started.

If you could choose only one thing to buy without money being an issue, what would you buy?

Oh, dear. That’s a hard one. At the beginning of my story, I’d have asked for enough to pay for the best private detective in the world. By the end of the book? What I would give for a car! But then, they hadn’t been invented yet. Then there’s antibiotics—but they hadn’t been invented yet either. Can you buy an end to war?

World peace, then? How much better would everything be if we could really learn to love each other. And it wouldn’t take money to do it. The New Testament tells the story of two sisters who react to Jesus visiting in very different ways. Mary chooses to spend her time with him, while Martha chooses to see to the physical details of his visit. Are you more a Mary or Martha?

Definitely a Martha. I’m very self-sufficient and am driven to solve problems. I usually end up making things worse for my meddling.

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.” James 1:27 – Do you think this verse, lived out would have made a difference in your life? If so, how?

Most of my life I found religion to be useless. I became bitter and trusted no one. Then I met the Dickersons. They lived out this verse to such perfection that it broke me. They constantly lived seeking to help others—me included. Because of this, they were able to face their worse enemy and love him anyway.

It sounds like they made quite the impression in your life. What scripture verse would you claim as a life verse?

Psalm 40:3. “He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.” Because of my synesthesia, I could often hear the songs that are the essence of different people. I don’t know how to describe it aside from maybe the sounds of their soul? My own “song” was a tangle of chords that made no music. By the end of my story, God gave me a song of my own.

If there was one message you could give those reading this interview, what would that be?

Nothing you have done, nothing that has been done to you, can make you unlovable to God.

That is a powerful message for sure. Now for a little fun.

Indoor or outdoor: I’m more of an indoor girl. Boy! Was I stretched out of my comfort zone!

Writing or reading: Reading. I’ll leave the writing to my mother and sister.

Apples or Pears: Apples. Hard and sour. Kinda like me? Pears are too mushy.

Early Bird or Night Owl: Night owl.

Anna Marie, how would you describe Brenda Gates in three words?

Passionate, adventurous, mean. Look at what she made happen to me? No sweet and kind person would do all that.

Thank you to Brenda Gates for allowing me the opportunity to interview Anna Marie. You can find out the rest of Anna Marie’s story in Anna’s Song, which is available on Amazon.

Full of Character with Brenda Gates

nh brendaToday I have the pleasure of interviewing Brenda Gates, author of Anna’s Song, a great new time slip novel that takes readers from current day to the Civil War. Welcome Brenda.

What character from the books you’ve read has impacted you more than the others?

The one character that has impacted me the most of any I ever read, is Hadassah, in Francine River’s book Voice in the Wind. As a young slave girl who has lost everything, she had such a love for God that it spilled over into loving even the most unlovable people around her. Her relationship with God and how she spoke so intimately with Him struck me in such a powerful way. It spoke a truth to me and inspires me to want a relationship like that.

I’ve not read that one, but I’ve heard great things about it. I’ve read some of her other books, and she does a great job of creating her characters. Speaking of that, what character was the easiest for you to write?

I love writing villains and Jethro was super easy to write. Yikes! Hope that doesn’t say something sinister about me!

Scripture is full of real people with character to spare.  Which one do you most relate to or enjoy reading about?

I think I relate most to Ruth. She loved intensely, was very loyal and willing to do whatever it took to take care of her family. If that meant moving to a strange land and face possible rejection and unknown dangers—so be it. Her faith that God would care for them was remarkable. Two women, alone—in those days! Wow.

Do you plan your characters and their backstories before you begin writing or are you as surprised by them as your readers?

I do plan my main characters and their backstories before I begin writing. It often starts as an idea that I mull over for an extended period. The why this and then that. As I write, characters are added because they are needed. Some of those end up needing stories of their own, so I. work on them as I did the main character, but not quite to the same level of detail. As I wrote Anna’s Song, I added several characters that I loved so much I decided they needed a book of their own. Hoping to follow through with Sofia’s story, Jacob’s story and maybe a mystery involving Chachi.

If someone wrote a movie about you, who would you like to play your character? Why?

I can’t imagine a movie about me. BORING! I’m also one of the last to remember Hollywood actresses’ names. If fact, I had to google “Actresses over 50 with dark hair” to find someone to fill in here. I’m going to say Jennifer Connelly. Why? It’s a pretty random answer. Because she’s dark haired and pretty, (that google picture doesn’t look like she’s over fifty!!) and I would love to look like her?

I’d like to thank Brenda for joining me today. Come back next week for an interview with Anna Marie, the main character in her book, Anna’s Song. You can get your own copy of Anna’s Song here: https://www.amazon.com/Annas-Song-Cries-Earth-Travel/dp/173256020X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1547515654&sr=8-1&keywords=Anna%27s+Song+Brenda+Gates

Brenda’s blog can be found here: https://gatesgalwrites.wordpress.com/

In It Together

Today I had the opportunity to share in a special celebration. This morning I spent time at a local library with an author friend of mine who was launching her first book with a reading and signing. Nine months ago, it was her sharing in my book launch. It was an honor to share in her day as she did in mine.

Over the last couple of years she and I, along with the other members of our local writers’ group, have stood beside each other in the ups and downs of the writing process. We’re all in different stages, and we each have our own goals and focus. It doesn’t matter. Each member of the group has their own writing strengths and weaknesses. We’re there for each other to encourage each other when the writing gets tough or we find ourselves frustrated and discouraged. We energize each other for the next step. We learn together. And on days like today, we cheer each other on and share in the joys of success.

Writing tends to be a fairly solitary endeavor. It is made much sweeter knowing there’s a group of people in my corner cheering me on and picking me up when I fall.

gates2This feeling is something Anna Marie, the main character in Anna’s Song by Brenda Gates, hasn’t known since her mother and father disappeared without a trace. When her twin sister goes missing too, Anna Marie feels more alone than ever before. Refusing to give up on her sister and confused by mysterious and seemingly impossible clues to her sister’s whereabouts, Anna Marie begins to find people in her corner though she is unsure how she feels about their involvement.

When Anna Marie slips into the past her hopes of finding her sister grow, but the road to finding her isn’t a guaranteed success. And it definitely isn’t easy. Plunged into the middle of the Civil War, she faces dangers and obstacles she is not prepared for. But in these times, Anna Marie also finds what she’s missed in life. She finds people taking the journey by her side. They encourage her to be her best self. They hurt with her when she’s in pain. They teach her about herself and faith through their examples and words.

If she never makes it home and even if she never finds her sister, Anna Marie finds something that makes the sweet things sweeter and the tough things easier. She finds what friendship and family should be, and it makes all the difference.

That’s how it’s supposed to be. Not just for Anna Marie in Brenda’s book. Not just for writers and the writers’ groups they belong to. It’s supposed to be this way for believers too. Actually, it’s supposed to be this way especially for believers. 1 Corinthians 12:26 encourages us with these words. “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.”  This is just one of several instructions followers of Jesus are given in how we should interact with one another, and each scripture comes back to loving each other the way God loves us.

When we find this in our churches and with the believers in all areas of our lives, we experience one more amazing gift from God. Allowing God to use us to be this for others makes us the gift to them. Both work in our lives to ease the burden of hard times and increase the joy in the good. And it makes all the difference in the journey of our faith.