Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Christmas on My Heart: A Cinderella Christmas by Amanda Tru

Interview with Amanda Tru about her book, A Cinderella Christmas:

Alexis: What inspired you to write this story?

Amanda: I was in a car accident a couple of years ago. Unfortunately, I was at fault. After the accident was cleaned up, the cars were towed, and the police were gone, I sat on the curb waiting for my husband to come pick me up. Feeling very traumatized and upset, I cried while people walked by, not a single person bothering to look my direction or ask what was wrong. Because of that moment, I wondered how often I don’t see others in need on the sidelines of my own life. Dealing with the trauma from my accident and capturing the significance of that moment became the inspiration for A Cinderella Christmas.

Alexis: What does your story’s title, A Cinderella Christmas, mean?

Amanda: It’s an unexpected twist on the fairytale. In the story, Grant Dillon must find a mysterious woman who inspires his life to change after just one meeting. It is definitely a Cinderella story, but in the end, it also presents a challenge for us all to be the Cinderella this Christmas.

Alexis: A Cinderella Christmas is book two in your Christmas Card series. Tell us about this book and the series.

Amanda: A couple of years ago, I wrote the first book in the series with the idea of writing a book that could be used as an inspirational Christmas card. It’s amazing to realize that gifting an e-book could be less expensive than sending a card, but it’s often true! I wanted to tell a beautiful story that also communicated a Christmas inspirational message that would make the world a better place. It is a different genre than I typically write, and yet readers found it deeply meaningful. I wanted to write a second book, but I had no idea what it would be until I dealt with my own trauma from the accident. This series is my most personal, based on my own experiences, and I love to think that God has been able to use the tough things in my own life to now create two beautiful Christmas stories to inspire others.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s heroine Emily Jansen. What is she like? What drives her to succeed? What hinders her success? What are her dreams?

Amanda: Emily’s life is on pause after an accident in which she is at fault. She is an elementary teacher and a Christian. She’s a good girl who hasn’t ever purposely hurt anyone. Now, with the guilt of knowing the other driver was injured because of her and the uncertainty of whether she will be sued because of it, she’s paralyzed in every area of her life. Her current dreams consist of driving from point A to point B without a panic attack, putting one foot in front of the other to get through each day, getting through the next two years without being sued, somehow allowing God to show her how to help others so that no one else has to be ignored on the sidelines. Emily is a writer and has a heart for others but has trouble trusting God enough to put one foot in front of the other when she doesn’t know how her story will end.

Alexis: Why does Emily struggle with guilt and anxiety?

Amanda: Emily is the type of person who would never knowingly hurt someone and the fact that someone was hurt because she caused an accident is very difficult for her to deal with. She identifies herself as the bad guy in the scenario, and it completely rewrites how she views herself. She no longer trusts herself as a driver or a person of intelligence and can’t forgive herself for making a mistake. Driving is extremely difficult for her, and she has extreme flashbacks and anxiety every time she gets behind the wheel. It is a constant struggle for her to keep moving forward when she doesn’t know that she can trust herself or God.

Alexis: What does Emily’s special notebook look like and how does writing in it help her process everything?

Amanda: Emily’s notebook is a simple, bound pad with lined paper like one might find for a dollar or even 88 cents on a back-to-school special. I picture it as a black composition notebook, probably because that’s the current variety I use! Emily is a writer, though not professionally so. She writes as a way of dealing with the trauma of what she’s been through. If she writes something out, it is far less confusing and more understandable in the form of words on a page. Swirling, random thoughts become three dimensional when writing on lined, two-dimensional paper. Emily very much borrows this habit from her creator who really doesn’t know what she thinks until she reads what she’s written on a page!

Let’s talk about your hero Grant Dillon. What does he look like? What does he sound like? What is his passion? What breaks his heart?

Grant is a bit of a local celebrity, in part because of his writing talent and his good looks. He’s in his mid to late thirties and is tall and masculine with a strong jaw, warm brown eyes, and dark brown hair that falls across his forehead at just the right angle. He’s quite charming when he’s interviewing and on the job, but he sees the deeper emotion behind what casual observers see as a superficial story. Writing stories that matter is his passion, but that is trumped by his love for his daughter. Grant’s heart was broken with the loss of his wife, and though he tries his best, his heart breaks a little more each day he feels inadequate to connect with his daughter in the way she needs.

Alexis: At the start of your story, Grant has been a widower for five years. How is he coping with the loss of his wife?

Grant is similar to Emily in that the trauma of losing his wife has paralyzed him. He hasn’t been able to write like he used to, and he feels way over his head with trying to raise his daughter by himself. The intense grief has passed, but the day-to-day loss is what he can’t seem to get beyond.

What does Grant consider to be the challenges of raising his daughter alone?

Grant’s daughter, Mila, is fourteen. As she gets older, he realizes their relationship has changed. He can no longer make everything better with a kiss to an owie. He has trouble understanding the girl drama and doesn’t know how to relate to her. He feels that she’s moving away from him and connecting less, but he has no idea how to stop it and how a dad can also fulfill the role of a mom in her life.

Alexis: How did the death of Grant’s wife affect his successful journalism career?

Amanda: Before his wife’s death, Grant was a successful journalist who spent considerable time traveling to write prize-winning stories. He scaled back his career when he needed to stay with Mila, and the newspaper he works for agreed to let him stay local. He hasn’t had a big story since he became a widower, and the newspaper is getting anxious. Grant doesn’t seem to have the drive to do what he used to do, and his writing and career has been paralyzed since the day he said goodbye to Kristi.

Alexis: Why does Grant’s boss pressure him to write a prize-winning article?

She doesn’t give him a choice. He needs to prove that he is still a valuable asset to the newspaper, or he will be fired. His boss has a very hard edge to her personality and assigns him a seemingly impossible task. Then she attaches a deadline.

Alexis: How does a visit to a vet’s office inspire Grant and change his outlook?

Amanda: Grant witnesses a heartbreaking situation, and when he sees the brave way in which a young woman responds, he is touched and inspired. Then, when he finds a notebook that is left behind, he reads her writing and realizes he’s just witnessed her living out the beautiful, personal message she’d written. He is inspired to do the same and to share her message with others.

Alexis: What is it about Emily that inspires Grant and helps to heal his heart?

Amanda: Because Grant is a writer, he understands that the words in Emily’s notebook aren’t casually written. They are birthed from experience and pain. Grant is inspired because he recognizes that there is a story behind the notebook and that the pain behind the words has created something beautiful that is meant to become alive and be shared. Likewise, he wants to be brave beyond his own pain to see those around him in need. It is that sight beyond his own pain and the inspiration of Emily’s message that awakens his heart to live life differently and share that inspiration with others.

Alexis: What is it about Grant that makes Emily want to open her heart to him?

Grant’s belief in her when she has lost all confidence in herself unfreezes Emily’s heart. He sees strength in her weakness and beauty in her pain in a way that she can’t see herself. He knows her faults and all she’s done, and he deems her valuable still. It is the echo of God’s love in Grant that reaches Emily’s heart and causes her to trust that the One who loves her most intends to use her for something worthwhile.

Alexis: What life lessons are you trying to teach through Grant and Emily’s story?

Amanda: I don’t think my objective is to teach as much as it is to share. This is a message that is meaningful to me personally, and I hope it’s meaningful to others as well. I think everyone has felt both extremes at some point in their lives. Sometimes you’re the person sitting on the curb and crying while nobody notices. Sometimes you’re the person walking by oblivious or not brave enough to help someone on the sidelines of your life. I’ve been both. Since I wrote this book, the message has changed my own life. 

My prayer is the same as Emily’s: Give me eyes to see what isn’t shown, ears to hear what isn’t said, hands to do what You want, and the courage to not walk away.

My hope is that those who read this book might be inspired as well, and if just one person chooses to not walk away because of it, I consider that a success.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about A Cinderella Christmas?

: Every person who reads this book will connect in a different way or extract something different that they find most profound or meaningful. Whatever message God uses to touch you, that’s what I want you to hold on to. Capture that split second of inspiration, savor it and allow God to use it to write your own beautiful story.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Amanda! Do you have closing comments?

Amanda: If you read A Cinderella Christmas and enjoy it, please consider leaving a review and sharing it with others. I believe word of mouth is still the best publicity, and the highest compliment you can give an author is to recommend her book. Also, I love to hear from readers. If you loved this story or felt inspired, it would truly make my day to know about it.

Author Bio:
Amanda Tru loves to write page-turning books that inspire real-life Christianity while providing plenty of unexpected twists. She figures she loses so much sleep writing the things, it’s only fair she makes readers lose sleep with books they can’t put down! 

Amanda's current book list includes everything from historical, to action-packed suspense, to inspirational romance, to a Christian time travel/romance series. She is also the author and organizer behind the unique, multi-author Crossroads collection series.

Amanda is a former elementary school teacher who now spends her days being mommy to her four young children and her nights furiously writing. Amanda and her family live in a small Idaho town where the number of cows outnumbers the number of people.

Blurb for Amanda's book (A Cinderella Christmas

A notebook meant to heal one heart, inspires the hearts of many. 

Entirely at fault after a traumatic accident, Emily Jansen struggles with feelings of guilt, anxiety, and the desire to prevent others from experiencing something similar. To help work through her issues, she writes in a notebook and prays for God to open her eyes to see others in need. 

After Grant Dillon’s wife passed away, he scaled back his successful journalism career to better raise his daughter. Now his boss wants him back in the game. He must either produce a prize-winning article or find a new job. At a chance encounter at a vet’s office, Grant finds a notebook a woman left behind. Knowing that she will be the source for his story, Grant searches for someone he knows only by her inspirational writing.

Though just a simple notebook, the message inside could change the world. Its message both inspires Grant to act differently and produces a chain of events that changes lives forever. 

Will Emily's own very personal message heal her heart and allow God to use her pain for good? 

Will Grant’s search for the author of the notebook end with him finding his true Cinderella?

Connect with Amanda:
Website: www.amandatru.com
Newsletter (sign-up): http://eepurl.com/ZQdw9
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amandatru.author
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TruAmanda
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/truamanda/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5374686.Amanda_Tru

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