It’s another week at the Diamond Mine! And what a week it is! To break the election hubbub, we have a wonderful writer in our midst. We welcome Ryan Jo Summers to our corner of the fiction world. Make sure you check out the giveaway for a chance to win an amazing book after the interview! But right now, let’s get started…
About Beside Still Waters:
Top Journalist and corporate climber, McKayla Buchanan, is sent to a remote California mountain camp for inner-city, at-risk teens. Accustomed to political corruption and high-society drama assignments, she is suddenly a fish out of water. At Camp In As Much, she meets eight hostile and distrustful teens, assorted volunteers and rescued horses—and Clay.
Clay Michaels is the man who founded Camp In As Much and made it the success it is now. His hope for the highly recommended journalist is to come and write a feature to send seeds out to form other camps like his nationwide. He never considered the reporter would turn out to be a lovely woman, or for him to have such an attraction to her.
Between McKayla’s worldly experience and Clay’s strong faith, they form a partnership to help with the endless challenges of the kids. While McKayla’s assignment is supposed to be temporary, it isn’t long before she and Clay are each wishing it could last longer. A serious situation will force McKayla to decide if she can give up her worldly ways and place her faith in the same higher source that earthy and godly Clay does.
Amazon buy link: http://amzn.to/2dvkUEe
|Ryan Jo Summers|
A note from Ryan Jo Summers: The inspiration for this novel is rooted in a single catalogue photo. I work for a high fashion clothing retailer. A few years ago I was browsing through the latest style guide and one image caught my attention—and imagination. A handsome guy reclined comfortably in a high-back chair, modeling corduroy pants. He was holding a tome of literature, pretending to be reading, while soft light spilled out over him from the vintage lamp on the table. Literary classics are piled around him. The scene was peaceful and provocative, stirring something within me.
And the scene is replicated in “Beside Still Waters”. The hero, Clay Michaels, retreats to his den after a precarious situation with the kids at the camp. The heroine, McKayla Buchanan, finds him, and the camp dog, there. Clay is reading a copy of “Pilgrim’s Progress”, looking for insight to the circumstances. Her heart melts at the tenderness of the picture he makes. They chat a bit and then they go out to the labyrinth. With the full moon watching, they begin a walk that will bring them closer together.
Renee: Hello, Ryan! Welcome to the Diamond Mine. I’m so glad you’re here, and I want to hear all about you book. I bet everybody else does too, so…let’s dig in. What’s special about your new book, Beside Still Waters?
Ryan: Thanks for having me, Renee! Well…I’d have to say it’s the sheer number of supporting characters. The story line revolves around the hero and heroine, how their opposite lives, lifestyles and outlooks slowly work to bring them together. However, McKayla has a life back in LA when we first meet her. She reaches the camp she is assigned to report on and meets not only the hero, but eight kids, half a dozen volunteers, and even a handful of horses. Just keeping all those characters straight was fun. I tried to keep their names linked for simplicity. The three young men who stay at the camp part time and volunteer with the delinquents are Jake, Mike, and Zeke. All four letters, all ending in 'ke', and shortened forms of Biblical names. The two main volunteers are Heather and Amanda. Their initials form the word 'Ha', as in laughter. Volunteering should be fun, with lots of laughter. The teens are either one's your cheer for, want to hug or want to shake some sense into.
Renee: I’m so glad I’m not the only writer who has a ton of characters! LOL Even animals deserve the consideration. It is a challenge when penning a story and reading one, but sometimes the story calls for it. It can’t be written any other way. Speaking of challenges, what would you say is your biggest challenge as an author?
Ryan: Oh my, finding the time to write or promote! It seems I can't do both on the same day. I work, technically, three jobs. Full time in security on a second shift for a fashion retailer. I pet sit on the side, usually before work and weekends. That means I have to use the blocks between those two for either writing my current WIP, or promoting recent releases, or working on something like edits, free-lance articles, blogging, other submissions, or whatever writing project is on my desk. Any remaining time is spent on errands, housework, pet care, yard maintenance, and 'me' time. Suffice to say, my day is packed from crack of dawn to wee hours of the middle of the night with something to do! I wish I had more hours just to push everything else away and work on my work-in-progress.
Renee: Oh, Ryan! Are you sure we aren’t the same person in two different bodies? I can relate to everything you say. LOL Where do you write or get away from your stress of life? Do you have what I call a special, cherished spot?
Ryan: I am blessed to live near a national forest nestled in the Appalachian mountains. There is a river nearby that I love to go to. I sit by the edge, listening to the rapids rushing over the rocks, see the birds soar over the trees and watch the leaves grow green or fall in red-gold blurs. It is my corner of peace away from everything else. I might journal, I might write short stories or parts of others. I might do nothing but talk to God. We have lots of good conversations there. It's more 'our' spot.
Renee: I would love to see your beautiful getaway. I have a spot much like it in my Wind River Mountains. I hang out next to the Popo Agie River and watch the water run over the rocks. The sound is amazing and the smell of the pine trees…I would love to experience your Appalachians, too.
To switch topics, people always plan for the future to leave things, whether physical or not, for those left behind…a legacy. Have you thought of such and what your legacy would be?
Ryan: If I could leave a legacy, it would be my house. I just bought it two years ago (October 27, 2014) It was built in 1920 and I have enjoyed this charming old place. I would like one of the area colleges to take it when I leave this earth and use it as a writer-in-residence location for authors to come, stay, and work on their craft. I've contacted the colleges, explained my broad vision and how there is insurance to cover expenses, but have not had any interested parties. If anyone has any suggestions on how to engage the English departments from colleges in a writer-in-residence program, please let me know.
Renee: Oh, what a good question! I have no clue, but someone out there must know! Anybody??? Contact us or Ryan! What keeps you going, Ryan? Do you do or know something special or is it something else?
Ryan: God never does leave us. This I know. Like many writers, I also keep a journal. It is broken into periods of my life, that I call chapters. Something significant happens and I enter a new 'chapter'. The shortest chapter is a three month period I called 'Scattered like a Leaf in the Wind". The longest chapter is the current one, chapter 9, which has lasted two years and is called "By the Grace of God, I Made It: The Road Ahead". Prayers by the untold number go into each chapter. For chapter three, I was homeless. I'd been forced out of my rental by rain rot in the roof and black mold and a landlord who refused to make repairs. I was so sick, I had to leave. The plans to stay with family fell through and I found myself living in the back of my Jeep, traveling the highway between two states a thousand miles apart for three months. I cannot tell you how many times I felt abandoned, how I identified with Jesus as he cried out from the cross, and how I had to learn to stop depending on myself. Looking back at those pages today--about seven years later--is a strong testament to God's love, mercy, provision and how He keeps His promises in His time. It's hard to see that when you are caught in the heart of the storm. I have a quote that reads: Life is lived forward but understood backward. Nowhere is that more apparent than in reading my journals.
A special quote I love is more of a prayer. Lord, I can't say it in words. Can You just listen through my heart? Isn't that beautiful? I think of the promised Intercession Jesus spoke about, who would make utterances on our behalf. I lean on that a lot when things get too complicated to say it in words. Another one is God's dawn of deliverance often comes when the hour of trial is darkest. Is that ever true!
Renee: Yes, more so than most people ever realize. Have you ever heard the saying, “You can’t see the forest for the trees?” I think that sometimes we lose sight of the whole picture because of the mess in front of us. Whether it’s busyness, small things, or nutty, tedious things, they blind us to what’s most important…God.
Do you have something in your life which roots you or reminds you of God’s love?
Ryan: Pets-- I have seven pets, most are rescues. Five cats-- Whymzie Belle, age 12, Muldoone, age 12, Kryshnah, age 11, Aspen Kennedy, age 4, and Avery Faith, age 3. Aspen and Avery Faith are mother/daughter and I think I might be rounding their ages up a little more than they really are. Three were feral, with no home. Two were not able to stay in their homes. Now they fill my home with antics, joy and loving trust. I have a 21-year-old blue & gold Macaw named Taz. I've known him since he was an ugly, featherless chick and have lived with him since he was 4. He was raised in a pet store, boisterous and out of control and then isolated to an unlit room and lived in dark solitude for a year. Avian rescuers were trying to get him and a cockatoo out of there. I cut a deal and bought him, so the rescue group could get the cockatoo. Once I learned how to handle a big macaw, he and I have bonded and have a wonderful relationship. And yes, he does talk-- a lot! Lastly, March 22, 2015 I adopted a collie, a blue merle called Ty. He was removed from a bad hoarding situation along with eight other collies in a neighboring state. The collie rescue group in my state took all nine in. Two weeks later I met Ty. He was emotionally shut down, much like some of the characters in my book "Beside Still Waters". He was traumatized and displayed severe PTSD. It has taken over a year to get him to what might be considered normal, however he still isn't fully settled. I started a blog for him, Travels with Ty and our journey is chronicled there. My long term hope is to one day take it and make it into a book and send the proceeds to the collie rescue group I adopted him from. I also have some freshwater fish in two big aquariums in my study. The bio-wheel filtration sounds like surround sound waterfalls.
Renee: It’s sounds like a crazy world in your house! Fun, but crazy! LOL I like it. Well, let’s continue to explore the crazy world of Ryan Jo Summers. If you could spend a week anywhere, where would it be?
Ryan: Mmm, it would be one of two places. Either touring the New England coast in the Fall, with my dog and bird. I'd like to see Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine of course, and inland to Vermont. I want to spend time at the water, eat the local foods, tour the lighthouses, see the residents and absorb the regional flair. Bucket list trip # 2 would be a week on the North Carolina shore, again with my dog, staring at the waves, lighthouses, and boats.
Renee: Cool trips. Okay, that’s it. We have to be sisters. I love lighthouses. I got the dog, but umm…a bird? I can see hanging out in a lighthouse with you and your bird laughing at me when a seagull poops on my head. Sorry, but I can. Can we leave the bird at home? Please!?!?
Okay, I’ll stop dreaming now. Thanks for being with us at the Diamond Mine but before you leave, can you offer a bit of wisdom for the writers out there?
Ryan: A brief testimony? Sure, this is a true story. I experienced a sudden, unexpected separation after a 12-year marriage. Life's little surprises! I was devastated, humiliated, hurt, lost, adrift...you get the point. The courts were a terrible long story. I ended up, eleven months later, having to leave. I had no family, nowhere to go, no money, no hope and no clue. I had a map of the US on the wall in my office, and I kept staring at it. Where should I go? I have nothing but my pets and a few odds and ends. I kept hearing a quiet voice, "Asheville, North Carolina." I was always alone at the time. The voice persisted over days. I was in northern Michigan, where in the world was Asheville, North Carolina? I didn't know anyone there or where it was. I looked it up on the map...golly that was a long ways away! I relented, bought a plane ticket, and prepared to go down and check it out. The day I was due to fly in, I heard on the news the town was shut down to recent hurricane flooding. I asked out loud into the room, "Are You sure about this? It's shut down and flooded down there." I heard a distinct, soft chuckle and the whisper to go, and trust. So I went, flew in, landed in what looked like a swamp and fell in love. With the place, the people, the culture. I was catching them at their worse, just like I was at my worse. I found a place to rent and some leads on jobs. I returned home, arranged for the church van and a driver. It took time, patience, and trust, but it all fell together one day. With a tiny bit of cash, a rented van and driver, my pets and a few personal belongings, I left Michigan with my tail between my legs, my heart shattered and my faith fragile as a mustard seed. It took years-- 12 so far--to gain a foothold. It has not always been easy. I've stood on mountaintops (literally and figuratively) and fallen into the valleys of despair. My faith and trust has been stretched, shaped, pounded and flexed in some incredible ways. In my book, "Beside Still Waters", Clay explains how the prophet Jeremiah tells of the potter at the wheel, reshaping the marred clay vessel until it was how The Master wanted it to be. Clay explains that is what he's doing with the kids at the camp, letting God use him to reshape the marred kids into usable vessels. He was just The Master's potter at the wheel.
If I couldn't write, what would I do? I can't imagine not writing. Even if not for publication, I would still have to scribble something. I use poetry to cope with life's tragedies and challenges. I would still do that to deal with life. I would still have to journal. It's a mile marker and another coping mechanism for me. I would probably still blog my thoughts and Ty's journey, sharing them in cyberspace if anyone cared to read either one. I would still pen stories, if nothing else to fulfill my heart and maybe enter in writing contests. If I were to win, great. If not, at least I wrote it down. "Emily", a short of 740 words, was a dream that came to me. It's enigmatically mysterious and leaves me full of questions, and some friends think there was an Emily at some time and she chose me to write her story down. So I share "Emily" to anyone who wants to hear it, to grant her wish if she was real and just to write. Interestingly, I suffer from some chronic auto immune issues that sometimes affect my hands/ fingers. It is painful, if not impossible to write some days. I lean on Nehemiah, in chapter 6, verse 29 where he prays to God: "Oh Lord, please strengthen my hands!" I wonder about if the time comes when I cannot physically type or hold a pen. What will I do if writing were to be taken away from me? I like to think I would still find a way to get the words out. It might alter my career, but it cannot silence the desire.
In conclusion, first I thank you, Renee, for hosting me here on The Diamond Mine. It has been a great visit. I have one more quote I like: When it looks like everything is falling apart, that is when everything is falling together. That fact has proven true so many times. It just takes the faith the size of a mustard seed. Looking back, thanks in part to my journals, I have seen so many times God was at my side, holding my hand, sometimes holding me up, and always in control as life moved around me. I write different kinds of romance fiction, but Christian is my favorite. It is easier in that it's more honest than some other genres of fiction, but it's harder because it leads me to holding a mirror up to myself, doing some soul-searching, and dwelling deep into God's character, promises and plans. My journey with God always advances in leaps and bounds when I am writing Christian fiction, and I come away from the finished story with a better knowledge of God and me.
Thank you so much for a wonderful time, Ryan! It’s been a great interview and fun chat.
Now it’s your turn, folks!
Ryan is giving away one paperback copy of her book, Glimpse Eternity. The winner will be chosen from those who sign up for her newsletter.
1. Sign up for her newsletter at https://summersrye.wordpress.com/.
2. Mention the Diamond Mine to enter the giveaway and then comment below to confirm your entry!
This book is amazing and you will absolutely love it!
About the Author, Ryan Jo Summers:
Ryan Jo Summers writes romance across the genres. Her books contain love stories blended with any combination of mystery, paranormal, time travel, shape shifting, Christian and humor elements. She comes from a family of wordsmiths. Her dad is a songwriter and his aunt wrote poetry. Ryan Jo dabbles in poetry, short stories and non-fiction articles.
In her spare time, she enjoys cooking and baking, reading, spending time with friends,
growing plants, playing chess, mah jongg, and wiggly word find puzzles and exploring the great outdoors. She lives in the heart of Appalachia in Western North Carolina in a charming old cottage with a menagerie of rescue pets