Cathleen Armstrong is the author of a delightful series entitled "A Place to Call Home," and I am very pleased to welcome Cathleen to The Power of Words today.
In my review, I described book #2, One More Last Chance (click title to see review), as "charming and entertaining, with good characterization and well-developed plot - a 'feel good' story that often had me reading with a smile." Cathleen's great sense of humor comes through in her writing and I enjoyed this story so much that it made my 2014 Favorites List!
Cathleen is graciously sharing a copy with one of you, details at the end of this interview. And she has obviously put a lot of time and thought into this interview, so I hope you'll enjoy all that Cathleen has to share . . .
Q: Please tell a little bit about yourself, Cathleen. Married with kids? Do you work full-time and write when you can squeeze it in?
I’ve been married to my high school sweetheart forever and we have three grown children, and eight amazing grandchildren. Given another few hours, I would cheerfully bore you senseless describing how amazing each actually is. We live in the San Francisco Bay Area with our incredibly bossy corgi. I write full time—and before that I went to school full time, and before that I “mommed” full time. I don’t seem to be that good at multi-tasking.
Q: What are three "fun" or "unique" things about you?
This question makes me smile—and wish I skydived (dove?) or competed in triathlons or something, but alas. So, here goes…
1) I have a passion for travel, and a secret goal of visiting all seven continents. Right now I lack Africa, South America, and Antarctica. However, a visit to South America may be on the horizon.
2) I am a rabid San Francisco Giants fan, and have been since long before they won three of the last five World Series. (Did I mention they won three of the last five World Series?)
3) I once went parasailing in Maui with Alice Cooper. (Yet, that Alice Cooper.)
Q: Short answer…
- If I could travel anywhere it would be on an African Safari. (Photo only)
- The best present I ever received was a surprise birthday weekend in a beach house filled with all my family.
- Farthest place from home I’ve ever been was Australia.
- The Last Movie I watched (in a theater) was The Hundred Foot Journey.
- My favorite movie is an old one—The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. (A writer has a home on a bluff overlooking the sea, a handsome ghost dictating a best seller word for word, and a faithful housekeeper always making her tea and urging her to take naps. What’s not to love?)
- Favorite snack: popcorn—with lots of butter
Q: Tell us about the book we're featuring today, One More Last Chance, and also about the series of which it is a part.
One More Last Chance is the story of Chris and Sarah and how change happens whether you like or not and sometimes in ways you never dreamed it would.
Sarah Cooley was born and raised in Last Chance. She’s come home to heal after an engagement gone wrong, and she wants to find Last Chance just as she left it—the same little town where she felt so safe growing up, But of course, things do change, even Last Chance.
The diner, which is the town gathering place, has a new owner, Chris Reed, and he intends to turn it into a destination restaurant, drawing diners from all over the Southwest.
Sarah sees him as an interloper, a culinary carpet-bagger at first and doesn’t much like him or his ideas. But when his seven-year-old niece gets more-or-less dumped on his doorstep, that starts to change, and both Chris and Sarah begin to pull together as Livvy burrows into their lives.
The series, A Place to Call Home, is about that heart’s longing to find a place to where one can belong. Without my really planning it that way, each book has one character who is newly arrived in Last Chance, and one who has come back home. Both are looking for a place where they can find acceptance, and redemption, and a place to call home.
Q: What will draw readers to the to the lead characters, Chris and Sarah?
I like Chris and Sarah. They are proof that opposites do, indeed, attract. Chris is a big bear of a guy, responsible to the bone, deeply devoted to his family, and perhaps just a little too serious. Sarah, on the other hand, is maybe a little spoiled, a little used to having things go her way. She’s petite—barely reaches Chris’s shoulder— and is generally happy and outgoing. Having two older brothers has taught her how to hold her own, and teasing steady, dependable Chris quickly becomes a favorite pastime.
Q: Does locale really influence the societies it produces? (One of my own study questions.)
Oh, I think it must. I have only lived in the west, so I can’t speak for the other regions, although I’d love to hear what the people who live there think. But the west was not welcoming. Summers in the desert were searing, and winters in the mountains came on suddenly and without mercy, Water was hard to find, and not always palatable. So people who challenged that inauspicious environment had to be tough, and optimistic, and resolute. They learned they had to depend on each other in order to survive.
Early in One More Last Chance, Chris finds himself wondering if people tempered by the harsh, unforgiving landscape, beautiful as it was, might be just a little inflexible themselves. I’d say that was likely.
Q: “Change” plays a prominent part in this story. Do you find change difficult to embrace? Any ideas for coping?
I have a daughter who was born looking forward to the next thing, eager to experience the new and different. She did not get that from me. I guess I love getting things just the way I want them, and having it stay that way forever. But of course, life doesn’t work that way. Whether you love change, or hate it, it happens, and I think learning to accept that is the first step in dealing with change. The second is realizing that there will be good in the new. The third is learning to let go, really let go, of the old. Looking back instead of forward is not at all useful. Ask Lot’s wife. (Actually, you needn’t bother. She’s not saying much these days.) I guess my number one strategy for coping with change is to keep your eye on the pillar of cloud by day, and pillar of fire by night, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. You’re not the one with the roadmap, but there is a promised land out there somewhere.
Q: What faith elements did you weave into the story?
Redemption and forgiveness, and the acceptance of both always play a huge part in my stories. The name of the town, Last Chance, is a symbol that until we draw our last breath, God is offering us another chance.
Well, Book 3 in the A Place to Call Home series, At Home in Last Chance, just released on January 6. Kaitlyn Reed and Steven Braden, the two characters most likely to have run out of chances in Books 1 and 2, get their own story. And if ever there were characters in need of redemption, forgiveness, and acceptance, these two are those characters. I’m really excited about this book, and the early reviewers seem to like it, too.
Book 4, Last Chance Hero, is a manuscript in its final stages of creation, and will be off to the publisher in the next few weeks. I don’t know the publication date, but if it goes like the others, it should be out in early 2016.
Q: How can we support and/or pray for you?
Well, there is plenty to pray for in the previous question! J Getting to write books people like to read is a blessing I’ve always dreamed about, but each day proves to me how inadequate I am to accomplish it on my own. I truly could not do anything without God’s constant presence and guidance, and I am so aware of that.
Also, within the next months, I will be leaving the San Francisco Bay Area, which I dearly love, so I’ll have plenty of opportunity to take my own advice on dealing with change. (Don’t you hate that?) Prayer would be greatly appreciated!
Q: Anything else you’d like to add?
Yes! The absolute, bar-none, best thing about publishing a book is getting to connect with people I’d never in a million years connect with otherwise, both through the book itself and through opportunities like this one. I’d love to get to know your readers better, and maybe find out a little bit more about them.! So please do drop by my FaceBook page (Author Cathleen Armstrong) or my website (CathleenArmstrong.com) and leave me a message. I’d love to hear from you!
May God bless you richly with his grace,
Carole: Cathleen, you are a charming and gracious lady with a strong faith, and I think I speak for all of us when I say how much we have enjoyed you being here. Please come back soon!
To enter the drawing for One More Last Chance, simply answer the following question that I asked Cathleen:
What is one travel desire, goal, or dream that you have?
BE SURE TO LEAVE YOUR E-MAIL ADDRESS in a safe format - [at] and [dot] - to be entered in the drawing. If you're willing, it's also helpful to share about this giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter.
"Likes" on my Facebook page, ThePowerofWordsBookReviews, are greatly appreciated, as are followers on Google+, Pinterest, Twitter, and this blog.
- Contest ends at midnight PST on Sunday, February 22.
- Winner will be chosen by Random.org and contacted by e-mail. Respond within 48 hours of notification or another winner will be chosen.
- Eligibility: US and Canadian residents