Must Meet AND Read Monday: April W. Gardner

April W. Gardner

Morning, everyone! Today I am pleased to introduce you to, April Gardner.

April resides in Georgia with her USAF husband and two sweet kiddos. In her free time, she enjoys reading, gardening, and DIY. In no particular order, she dreams of owning a horse, visiting all the national parks, and speaking Italian.
Librarian, reviewer, and avid reader, April adores anything books. She writes a regular column for the joint blog, Reflections in Hindsight, and is the founder and senior editor of the website, Clash of the Titles. She is the author of the best-selling novel, Wounded Spirits.

I met April through a mutual friend, Michelle Massaro, and through COTT (Clash of the Titles). If you haven’t checked it out, you should. It’s a literary website where authors compete and readers judge! Tons of fun!

Everyone, meet April. April, meet everyone! Tell us about your first novel?       

My first published novel is Wounded Spirits, which is set in 1813 during the Creek Indian War in what is now Alabama.

I had the pleasure of reading Wounded Spirits when I won a drawing on a blog! I loved the book, felt like I was right there with them as they experienced war…and love! Sigh. 🙂 How did you come up with the idea for this book?

I grew up hearing that my many times great-grandfather was Chief Red Eagle/William Weatherford. Turns out, he’s probably not, but I still cherish as my own the stories of his bravery in the face of Jackson’s overpowering army. It was the story of his extraordinary leap from the bluff that made me wish to read the account in novel-form.

I’d never written more than a high school paper, but I figured that if this particular story was ever going to be written, why not do it myself? Eight years later, I held the book in my hands.

I loved that this book was set to real events. Which character was the toughest to write?                                                                                                       

Zachariah was probably the toughest. I have nothing in common with him, and he’s been through some pretty horrific stuff. Stuff I could only take a stab at imagining. How a person might respond emotionally, physically, and spiritually wasn’t the easiest to create. I pray I did it justice!

You did! My heart broke with him and cheered with him. Even though you haven’t been through some of the things Zachariah went through, would you say a little piece of yourself is in one or all the characters or not?                              

I actually try to steer clear of putting myself into my characters. It probably comes down to the fact that I’m a very private person, and even if no one ever knew that that particular part of my heroine was a look into myself, it still makes me uncomfortable. Yeah, I’m weird.

That makes sense. Now when we read we’ll always get the mystery of wondering if a little piece is you or not. At least the stalker in me will! What do you find most rewarding about writing and most challenging?                        

Most rewarding? Creating worlds and people to fill them. Most challenging? Returning to my own! I love every bit of my real life, but there’s something addicting about stepping into my pretend world. Once there, I get sucked in. Kinda like Facebook. Lol!

As they say in MS, “You ain’t just whistlin Dixie!” Or at least I think they say that here, I’ve never actually heard anyone but myself. I think all writers would have to agree. Stepping into storyworld is like crack.  Don’t even get me started on fb!

Tell us 3 random fun facts about yourself!                                                                           

  • I can solve a Rubik’s cube. It takes me about ten minutes, but I can do it!
  • I’ve visited 24 different countries on three different continents. Lived in five of them.    
  •  I frequently choke while drinking or swallowing my own spit, and, yes, it’s embarrassing.

 ROFL!! We’re going to have to Skype so I can experience the choking. 🙂 I couldn’t solve a Rubik’s cube if a gun was pointed to my head. 

If you could live off one food for the rest of your life, what would you choose?    

Rice. Love all forms of rice. Maybe because I was born in Asia?

That’s the only reason I would think , lol!
 What have you learned about the craft that you would like to pass on to other writers? 

I’ve learned that there is never an end to learning! Just when you think you’re arriving, bam! You realize how much further you have to go. Recently, I discovered author K.M. Weiland’s website. She’s a talented author who has boat loads of great tips for writers.

Thanks for sharing the tips and the website! Great advice. April, it’s been so much fun and I know everyone has had a blast getting to know you. What are some other ways they can connect with you?                                                         

I love to hear from my readers! You can reach me on Facebook, at my site  or at Clash of the Titles

Awesome! Just my own little plug here, Clash of the Titles has unpubbed weeks and it’s great exposure! I won my round and semi-finaled in the final clash. It was through semi-finals that I met my dear friend, and clash buddy, Jodie Bailey!

Here’s a sneak peek of Wounded Spirits and April has a question for you!

“On the frontier, Adela McGirth’s life is simple, rugged, and exactly to her liking. Her greatest concern is whether to marry the settlement’s most eligible young officer. When a distant war among the Natives spills over into a nearby skirmish, life takes a perilous turn. Deep in enemy territory Adela must choose between the man she loves and a baby that has yet to be born.
A peace-loving yet loyal Creek warrior, Totka is forced to align with the extremist Red Stick faction whose purpose is to eradicate the Whites from Creek soil. In the midst of battle, Totka is assigned to protect those he is expected to hate–and kill. Life was simpler before his enemy became a beautiful face with a quiet strength and dignity he cannot resist.
Having lived a life plagued with death and loss, Zachariah McGirth is a man on a mission – he’ll have his revenge or die trying. Blinded by grief, he can’t see his way clear of yet another tragedy. Why has God taken everything from him…or has He?”


How old were you when you discovered the love of reading, and which novel was it that first impacted you?

Must Meet Monday: Michelle Massaro

I’ve decided to add a new feature to my Mondays. Why? One, because I can. Two, because I know so many incredible people and have met tons of amazing writers on-line and I want you to meet them too.


Mondays have now become Must Read or Meet Monday. Today, I’m excited to introduce Michelle Massaro.

Crazy story…

I was bouncing around some ideas for a book title and wondered if what I was looking for had been used. When I googled it, it led me to a youtube. I watched the book trailer and then found Michelle’s blog. I saw she was a member of the CWG (Christian Writers Guild) and facebooked her. By the way my current WIP is not Beauty for Ashes. It’s Eye of the Beholder.

We started chatting online and became friends. We had the chance to meet in person at the CWG Writing for the Soul Conference in Denver. How cool is that? I know!

Everyone, meet my friend Michelle.

     Tell everyone a little about yourself!

       I like slow walks along the beach… ahem… I met Mike in eighth grade and we’ve been married almost 16 years.  I’m mom to four kids ages 2 to 15. I’m the Assistant Editor for Clash of the Titles, where one of my duties is overseeing the Blog Alliance, sort of my baby.  Currently, I’m working on a new draft of my first novel, Beauty for Ashes. I also sing on my church’s worship team. 
    How did you know you wanted to be a writer?
      For a long time, I denied it.  It sounded too lofty for me. (I’m very pragmatic). But being so introspective makes me imagine wild situations and think “what if”, and storylines birth themselves.  I’m also a tough critic, and would often think “hey, I could do better” when reading (lol, if only it were so easy). So I finally opened up a Word doc and began my journey.
She is a tough critic. I should know!
  Why do you write the particular genre/material that you do?
      I’m a deep thinker and feeler.  I want stories that resonate to the core.  My passion is evangelizing through fiction.  As for genre (Contemporary) there are two reasons: 1. There’s less research (ha!) and 2. It’s a world I can relate to.  The bills, the traffic, the speech, even the state of the church.
     What do you love most about writing? What do you love least?
      I love watching a story come to life.  Watching characters go from faceless shapes to complex human beings.  Writing a scene that makes me cry. I least love coming up with a new plot line. It’s scary for me, when those characters are fuzzy and the premise isn’t fleshed out. There’s nothing unique yet to give me validation as a writer.  Is that bad, to need validation as a writer?
     How do you come up with story ideas?
      Prayer!  I want to give God my pen, and to do that I know I must seek Him for what message He wants me to convey through my stories.  I wrote an article about this very thing: 3 Steps To Writing a Christ-Centered Novel here 
 What do you love in a good book?
      A spiritually and emotionally rich experience.  Sweep me up in your story world and leave my soul changed.  I love depth in a book.  Give me something real.
     Who is your favorite author and why?
      Francine Rivers, hands down.  Nobody can touch her as far as putting you in her characters’ world.  Her Mark of the Lion series had a huge impact on me.  From the opening line of A Voice in the WindThe city was silently bloating in the hot sun, rotting like the thousands of bodies that lay where they had fallen in street battles.—you are smack-dab in her story.  I dreamt of her characters, I longed to spend time with Hadassah and glean from her faith.  Francine inspires me to write stories that will elicit the same response in my readers.  I’d love to meet her one day.
    What’s your favorite writing snack?
      lol, I can’t help but giggle at this.  I’m all over the place.  Usually some form of candy like Reese’s pieces (love!) but I have to be careful or I mindlessly eat the whole bag (and not the snack-sized ones!)  Other times I have no snack and might forget to eat my meals altogether.
     If you could be one hero/heroine from a book who would you choose and why?
      Hmm. Good question. I’d have to go with Lucy from the chronicles of Narnia.  I’d love to dig my fingers and bury my face in Aslan’s mane.  And who wouldn’t want to live in a world with unicorns and mermaids, in a castle, with a magic flask to heal all wounds?
If you could be one villain from a book who would you choose and why? Goodness me! A villain?  Well… I guess I’ll say Cinderella’s wicked stepmother because I wouldn’t be doing my own housework.
  What is your current book titled? Share what it’s about! 
My WIP is a Contemporary Women’s Fiction called Beauty for Ashes:
John Douglas’ faith in God dies with his wife and daughter. His despair drives him to the bottle and then into the bed of a paid stranger. Broken by shame, John finds restoration in Christ and rebuilds his life.
But when his past comes knocking on his door, his future is shredded. He must decide whether to bury his secret, or risk his new life—and love—by revealing the truth. Can God make the tattered pieces of his life into something beautiful?

  What advice do you have to give others who want to write fiction.

 My advice if you want to write, first of all, is start! But also, take time to learn the basic skills before you begin a full-length novel.  Read blogs like this one, find articles on the writing craft, meet other writers. Get familiar with terms like POV, pacing, voice, and hooks.  It’s much harder to apply skills to a manuscript after the fact.  Trust me on this.

Here’s how you can connect with Michelle!
Watch the trailer: here 
 Find me on facebook twitter (@mochashello), and my blog Adventures in Writing  Drop by any time and say “hello”.

Oh! One last thing– what question would you like to ask the readers? (and thanks so much for coming by)
My question for readers is what was your favorite read in the last year or two.  Also, what do you look for in a novel? 

 Feel free to answer the question or leave a comment! Have a great Monday, friends!