I’m so happy to have Sondra Kraak here today to talk about her book Two Ways Home, #2 in the Love that Counts series. I really enjoyed this fantastic story, full of whit and delightful characters that stick with you long after you finish the book.
A native of Washington State, Sondra Kraak grew up playing in the rain, hammering out Chopin at the piano, and running up and down the basketball court. Now settled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, she enjoys spending time with her husband and children, blogging about spiritual truths, and writing historical romance set in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She delights in sharing stories that not only entertain but nourish the soul. Her debut novel, One Plus One Equals Trouble, was a Genesis semi-finalist (2015) and the winner of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference Unpublished Women’s Fiction Award (2015). Sondra has since published three novels. You can connect with Sondra at:
A little bit about Sondra’s book Two Ways Home (Love that Counts #2)
Mary Smith was never one to back down from a challenge. Her father’s health may be failing, but their dairy farm was her mother’s dream, and Mary will do whatever it takes to keep her father from selling it—even if it means sneaking off to the next town to earn money by playing the piano in a questionable establishment. No one seems to understand why home is so important to her, least of all her childhood nemesis who’s just wandered back into town.
When injured Texas Ranger Luke Thomas is forced to return to Pine Creek, Washington, he’s hailed as a hero and thrust into the town’s first race for sheriff. But no one knows the secret he carried to Texas, nor the secret he’s brought home. Setting his perfect aim on returning south, he refuses to get tied down by the town’s admiration, his brother’s disapproval, or the spirited, hardworking dairy girl who’s less annoying than he remembers.
But strange things are happening at the Smith dairy and in Pine Creek, and Luke’s instincts tell him Mary is in far more trouble than she realizes. One thing is certain: “home” is about to get more complicated for them both.
Full of wit and romantic tension, this Christian historical love story sets forth the true meaning of coming home.
Welcome Sondra, I’m thrilled to have you here today and to get to know you and your fabulous books better. Let’s begin with a few fun getting-to-know you questions and then we will dive into the book.
Trisha: What is your favorite beverage?
Sondra: Sadly, coffee. That’s extremely indistinctive and ordinary. I drink it black, which is even more boring
Trisha: I also enjoy a good cup of coffee, however, I prefer mine with cream.
Trisha: What would you say is your guilty pleasure?
Sondra: Baths (void of bubbles). I would take one every night if I could. And Calvin and Hobbes comics. And if the use of parentheses could be considered a guilty pleasure . . . I’m guilty.
Trisha: My husband and Son love Calvin and Hobbes and through them I’ve gained an appreciation (we have a few Calvin & Hobbes comic books.) By the way, you are in good company with the parentheses my friend!
Trisha: Is there a place you have wanted to visit but haven’t yet?
Sondra: Jerusalem, Cairo, Aleppo. Unfortunately, not the safest area of the world to visit, so other than Jerusalem, this will remain an unrealized dream. Unless I go into black ops but considering my love for routine and safety, I don’t see that happening. Realistically, I hope to visit Hawaii, the only state I haven’t visited. Even more realistically, I’d love to visit the Belmont Mansion where some of Tamera Alexander’s novels are set (just five hours away from where I live! (see, more parentheses)).
Trisha: Only Hawaii left? Wow, I have some catching up to do!
Trisha: What is your favorite Bible verse?
Sondra: I truly don’t have one favorite verse because I love, love scripture so deeply and have been reading it since I could string letters into words. I do love the Psalms, though. They give voice to every emotion and experience. Favorite Psalms are 16, 27, and 119. Especially 119. My heart swells just thinking about delighting in the law of the Lord.
Trisha: Psalm 91 is my personal favorite, I also really like Psalm 119. Likewise, I cannot pick only one favorite.
Trisha: In your research for Two Ways Home, was there anything that surprised you?
Sondra: The history of the Texas Rangers is fascinating. Leander McNelly was Luke’s inspiration as a boy for joining the Rangers, and reading about McNelly’s escapades was fun. So much lawlessness back then and even the lawmen didn’t follow protocol all the time.
Trisha: That is an interesting piece of history. I went searching and found this photo of Leander McNelly at The Official Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and Museum (click on the link to discover more about the Texas Rangers).
Trisha: What was your inspiration for Mary and Luke’s backstory? (Their childhood friendship that grew as they did, into a deeper relationship)
Sondra: I love friendship romances where the hero and heroine start out with a deep level of knowing each other. Despite their teasing and surface annoyance with each other, Luke and Mary have that solid foundation. My own childhood played into the inspiration. I grew up running around with friends and getting into mischief while our parents were at Sunday evening prayer meetings. I imagined that same interplay between the children of Pine Creek. What I love about Luke and Mary is that they had a four-year separation, which is a lengthy time not to see each other, making their reunion at the start of Two Ways Home like a fresh beginning to their friendship.
Trisha: I agree, friendship romances are a favorite of mine also. Maybe because that is how my husband and I began. (photo credit: theparisapartment.tumblr.com)
Trisha: What was most difficult to write about when writing Two Ways Home?
Sondra: The ending. The original ending was different, and my critique partner said it wasn’t working. (My idea was to avoid melodrama, but in doing so, the ending came out flat and disappointing). So how things resolved with Mary’s stalker had to change. I raised the stakes, making things more serious.
My biggest issue in writing, in general, is transferring abstract ideas into a plot. I can think metaphorically about what home is and how Mary and Luke both miss the point of it, but to craft a story that shows this was difficult. I’m still new to fiction writing with lots to learn. Two Ways Home is only my third manuscript (second published). I feel like I’m still discovering how the story flows from me and how to balance what elements I think a story needs to have with what it organically needs.
Trisha: I really enjoyed the drama in the ending. It kept me on my toes! But I do understand the challenge of transferring the outline and abstract ideas into a plot. I began writing a book awhile back (shhh, my little secret), and while I have a great beginning and a full timeline, fleshing out the middle and filling in the plot has slowed me down.
Trisha: What book are you working on next?
Sondra: Three Words and a Kiss. This is Cam’s story. He’s the blacksmith in Pine Creek, and sort of the minister, too, since he preaches on the weeks the traveling minister isn’t in town. Readers have already matched him up with Grace, Luke’s sister because she’s loved him for years. Sorry. Not happening. Cam’s just not into her (which is author speak for I’m not into her as heroine material). He’s into smithy work and preaching.
Until Samantha Klein comes to town, heiress, investor, and new owner of his smithy. Her presence flips his world upside down, stripping him of all things familiar. Samantha—bless her spontaneous, compassionate heart—is instantly attracted to her employee, despite his refusal to teach her the trade. Coming out of a wealthy family in which she was ignored, she has a heart for anything wounded, disregarded, or victimized—including a duck. When the trouble she fled in Seattle follows her to Pine Creek, her penchant for helping the downtrodden threatens to overthrow the peace and simplicity of the town.
Trisha: I can’t wait to read Three Words and a Kiss! I completely understand about Grace. While I see where the others are coming from, she really just isn’t the right one for Cam. I look forward to getting to know Samantha.
Thank you Sondra for visiting, it was fantastic to talk with you about Two Ways Home and about your upcoming book Three Words and a Kiss.
Friends, now it’s your turn:
I’d love to hear from you, Did your love story start out as a friendship story?
Do you have any questions for Sondra?
The fun isn’t over yet! You will want to hop on over today, and visit my blogging friend Kathleen Denly’s blog page for some fun and games!
Blog Tour Stops
Saturday, May 20th — Fiction Aficionado — Interview & Excerpt
Monday, May 21st — Kathleen Denly — Game
Monday, May 21st — Joy of Reading — Author Interview
Tuesday, May 23rd — Faithfully Bookish — Setting Spotling
Wednesday, May 24th — A Baker’s Perspective — Character Spotlight Heroine, Mary
Thursday, May 25th — Singing Librarian Books — Character Spotlight Hero, Luke
To find Sondra’s books on Amazon, click the links below: