Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Romantic Reads: Audra, Dying for Life

Welcome Carol J. Nelson to the blog!

She's here to talk about her book, Audra: Dying for Life.
Enjoy her interview!

Interview with Carol J. Nelson about Audra: Dying for Life

Alexis: Why did you write this book?

Carol: It started with a dream of a teacher in her classroom. When I awoke, I realized it was the plot for a novel. I hadn’t written anything in years, but since my husband was busy constructing a website for our church, I decided to fill some empty time with writing.

I wrote the novel, but it was long and ponderous. I did nothing with it. When my husband died in 2016, the Lord gently spoke to my heart that it was time to embrace my writing, but I knew I had to surrender it to Him and write to His glory. So, I rewrote the book motivated by a new perspective.

As I wrote, and later with the help of my editor, the themes of forgiveness, being restored to God, and seeking His will were developed more fully. I wrote this book, first of all, out of obedience to what I knew God wanted me to do. Secondly, I wrote the book with the hope that women, especially, would find a deeper walk with the Lord through Audra’s struggles and the changes God wrought in her life.

What makes Chandler’s Grove special to your characters?

Carol: For Audra, it’s her hometown. The most special thing for her is Chandler’s Grove Academy and her sixth grade English class. Her mother taught second grade there. Audra attended the school for eight years and returned to work there after college. Her second most special thing is the autumn colors of the cottonwoods in the fall.

For Dann Day, Chandler’s Grove is a haven. Still hurting from a failed first marriage, he’s recently fled Chicago to escape the clutches of another designing woman bent on rearranging his life. Chandler’s Grove becomes a place of healing for him.

The only special thing Heather finds in Chandler’s Grove is Dann. She dislikes almost everything else. She’s determined Dann will become her special man.

Alexis: Let’s talk about your story’s heroine Audra Knight. What does she look like? Sound like? Act like? Describe her personality and share the dreams of her heart.

I’ll let Dann describe her looks in a sentence. (He was) enjoying her long-lashed brown eyes as they held his, her pink lips as they curved, and her brunette hair as the ends curled and brushed her shoulders. She’s outgoing and comfortable with her best friend, Tamina York, and can share anything with her—well, almost anything. She has few close friends, but she’s well-liked by students and teachers.

She put men on the back burner of her life, partly because she didn’t want a husband like her father and partly because what her sister experienced scared her off. She has old-fashioned morals with a strong sense of right and wrong. She never considered the anger she’s stuffed for so many years to be a problem until anxiety over her health, old wounds stirred up, and antagonism from Heather all conspire to bring the hidden anger right out into plain view.

As for dreams, they all seem impossible. She’d held onto the hope of someday having a baby, but the visit to the gynecologist might bring that dream crashing down around her. Also, she allowed her father to talk her out of the deepest desire of her heart—becoming a full-time piano teacher. She regrets that. But her life is set and settled now. She’d never earn enough to pay living expenses with a handful of piano students. That dream will just have to remain a dream hidden in her heart.

Let’s talk about your story’s hero, Dann Day. What does he look like? What are his life goals? What are his character flaws? What are his strengths?

Dann has light-brown hair neatly groomed in a conservative side-part cut. He has straight eyebrows over gray eyes that sparkle when he’s happy or excited. Audra calls his handsome face even-featured. His life goals are simple. He wants a family, and he wants a room to set up his model trains.

As far as teaching goes, he feels called to be a mid-school band and orchestra director and has no desire to move up. He likes nothing better than to take a group of fifth grade students and turn them into accomplished musicians by the time they are ready to leave him for the larger world of high school music.

He’s such a nice guy, but he hates confrontations and he’d rather run away than tell a woman the relationship is over and make it stick. He’s hard-working and willing to accept a challenge. But according to Audra’s thoughts: Dann’s different from any man I’ve ever known—unlike any of the men in Chandler’s Grove, for certain. He’s the most honest, forthright man I’ve ever met. He’s divorced—so? 

That hadn’t changed her perception of him as a kind, sensitive, nice guy. 

Alexis: How does a visit to her gynecologist change Audra’s life?

Carol: From the moment Dr. Rhonda says she needs to do a biopsy, Audra’s aware that her life is changed forever. Fear, worry, and anxiety become her constant companion. Even when Tamina vows to stand by her, come what may, Audra can’t make the thoughts go away. It’s exhausting.

Couple that with mounting anger at Heather’s adversarial attitude and the growing suspicion she’s behind a dirty trick played on her, Audra’s frustration finally drives her to seek counseling from the pastor at the church Tamina’s started going to. It’s when the Lord enters the situation that real and permanent changes in Audra’s life take place.

Alexis: Why does Audra have unresolved anger issues?

Carol: They remained unresolved because instead of dealing with feelings of rejection and anger, she stuffed them. For years. Most of the issues centered around her father and not understanding the depth of his grief and descent into bitterness after her mother died. Then he unexpectedly died of a heart attack. It was too late to resolve their differences, and anger was left to fester. Audra laments to Tamina, “My anger has burst out of some secret closet, and I can’t get it back in because it’s grown fat and ugly and it won’t fit anymore. Oh, girl, I’m miserable.”

Alexis: What caused Audra to stray from God?

It wasn’t rebellion or chasing worldly enticements. She’d faithfully gone to church and Sunday school until her mother died when she was twelve. After the funeral, when she asked her father if she could go back to Sunday school, he said no, they didn’t need God in their lives.

What can a twelve-year-old child do in that situation? She couldn’t drive herself to church, so not going to church became the new norm. Slowly but surely, her knowledge of the Bible lagged, became neglected, and left her depending on the few scraps she remembered. It wasn’t that she no longer believed in God, but she had lost her trust. Little did she know that God never left her.

Alexis: What is it about Dann that interests Audra (beside his handsome looks)?

Carol: At first meeting, it’s his friendliness. Never having had much experience with men, she is surprised how comfortable and at ease she feels talking with him. However, with her newly discovered health problem, she absolutely will not allow any further attraction. Except there’s this mutual love of music that stirs her heart, and her own musical ability is probably the one area in her life where she’s genuinely self-confident. Then there’s his honesty, integrity, and love for his family. She feels totally safe with him. Oh, how long can she deny she’s attracted to him?

Alexis: What is it about Audra that makes Dann want to know her better?

Carol: Maybe it’s that refreshing girl-next-door innocence he senses. At least she doesn’t seem the type to dump her husband and run off to chase a career in modeling. Or the designing woman who wants to remake him in her own image or push herself on him like that Heather who’s been on the make from their first day at work. He’s new in town, and he needs a friend. Audra makes him smile.

Alexis: Who is Heather Easton and what role does she play in this story?

Carol: Heather arrives in Chandler’s Grove the same way and time Dann does. She’s been hired to teach sixth-grade math at the academy. She left Minnesota to escape her controlling mother whom she blames for ruining every relationship she’s ever had with a man. Out from under her mother’s thumb, there’s Dann as big as life. He seems to have eyes only for Audra, but she’ll get what she wants.

Alexis: What role does faith in God play in this story?

Carol: One can believe in God and know the blood of Jesus forgives their sin, and we say they have faith. But faith also involves trust. Trusting that God cares for us 24/7. Trusting that God knows what’s best for us and will lead us on the path He wants for us. Trusting that when the Bible says not to lean on our own understanding, that God wants us to depend on him for everything, all the time. Trusting that when God says forgive others, that He will empower us to do it. Audra, Dann, and Tamina all have to learn these lessons.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about Audra: Dying for Life?

No matter why or how long ago we strayed from God, he always wants us back. God gives us life. He wants us to live it with joy and to the fullest. Seeking God’s will always bring peace. And in the words of 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV): “Cast all your anxiety on him, because he cares for you.”

Alexis: Complete this sentence: If I were not an author, I’d want to _______________ because ________________________________.

Carol: If I were not an author, I’d want to become one because at 81 years old, there’s nothing I’d rather do, and I can’t not write.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Carol! Would you like to share closing thoughts?

Carol: Thank you, Alexis, for interviewing me. I think I know Audra better now than when I wrote her story! God bless you in all your endeavors.

Author Bio:

Carol J. Nelson lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where she spends most days writing Christian women's fiction. 

Although she started writing in childhood, it took a lifetime to know what her heart truly desired and needed to write—stories that touch the fabric of women's lives with hope, grace, and faith, combined with the little spice of clean romance women enjoy. 

She has three daughters, seven grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. She served as an aid in a nursing home, worked in the purchasing department of a large corporation, spent time as the head cook at an all-you-can-eat buffet, and went full circle to become a care-giver before settling in to her first love, writing. 

When she's not at the computer, church, gardening, cooking, and playing cards and games keep her busy.

Back Cover Blurb for Audra: Dying for Life 

When Audra Knight's gynecologist says, "I need to do a biopsy," it numbs her to the core of her being. She's young, single, and suddenly a potential cancer victim. 

It's really not the time to notice Dann Day, the handsome new band-orchestra teacher at Chandler's Grove Academy...and Audra's new co-worker. And why should he want anything to do with her? 

With her unresolved anger issues, the way she's strayed from God, and the fact that Heather Easton already seems to have claimed him for her own, getting involved would be stupid. Even if he was able to see past all of that, it could too easily end in heartbreak if she does end up having cancer. She doesn't want to put a man through that. 

But when Dann asks Audra's help on a school project, Heather's jealousy flares. It's the catalyst that amplifies Audra's anger, sending her back to God and church to find peace and the courage to truly live. However, there's on thing that can't be stopped...Audra's growing feelings for Dann. 

But how can she tell a man who wants a family that he might not be able to have one with her? As the pressure mounts, it becomes clear that the only one who can answer the question is God.

Buy Carol's book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble

United States of America residents ONLY may enter this book giveaway contest for your chance to WIN a copy of this book by filling out the entry form on the Rafflecopter widget below:

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  1. I am battling a disease and have gotten so mad at god and at points thought he is not listening as I am getting worse but it is me and not him so this book I know will help me and would lve to read and review on a few sites peggy clayton

    1. Thank you for your comment, Peggy. Yes, I hope you can read the book and review on Amazon or your social pages. I pray God will keep his hand of healing on you and bring you health.

  2. We all tend to bury our feelings to one extent or another. This sounds like a good exploration of what not dealing with feelings can do and how to come to terms with them.

    1. Thank you, Patricia, for you kind comment. I hope you can read the whole story. Carol

  3. This sounds like a really good book! I know I tend to keep my feelings buried to try and protect myself. I have been doing it for so many years that it's automatic now.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Amelia. I hope you can read the book. Carol

  4. I am intrigued to see how God will use this experience to get Audra back to Him.

    1. Thank you for your comment Sonnetta. I hope you'll have the chance to read the book and see how God worked to bring her back.


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