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One of the very first authors to visit with us was Brenda Anderson (Pieces of Granite), and it’s always a treat to have her back again! Her newest novel, Planting Hope, is the third in her Where the Heart Is series. (While these books have connecting links, they are separate stories that can be read independently.) Before we visit with Brenda, let’s take a quick look at the story.
Family has always been the one constant in Jess Beaumont’s messy life, so when her parents separate, she puts “Operation: Planting Hope” into action. All she has to do is recreate the circumstances that helped her parents fall in love. Unfortunately, that includes the daunting task of restoring the family cabin’s gardens. When the handsome candy store owner shows up to help, she’s certain she has all the elements required for her parents’ love to bloom again. After all, flowers and chocolate are the perfect ingredients for romance.
Luke Harrison has spent his life trying to win his father’s approval, and a promotion in the family land development business would be a step in that direction. But when he inherits Gran’s candy store, his dreams of being promoted start melting away. Then his dad dangles a Vice President position in front of Luke, with one caveat—acquire the land on both sides of Gran’s store within five months, including the Beaumont cabin, and the promotion is his.
What at first seemed a simple challenge for Luke becomes a tangled mess. Buying the Beaumont cabin and land will nip his blossoming romance with Jess in the bud. Even worse, it could end her parents’ marriage. But if he doesn’t succeed, he could be trading in his corner office for the corner candy store.
Ready to read? You can pick up a copy here:
Welcome back, Brenda! Let’s start with a few fast favorites:
Favorite color: indigo
Favorite season: fall
Favorite writing snack: Lindt white chocolate truffles. Yum!
Favorite beverage: chocolate milk. Thought I rarely drink it.
Favorite animal: cats, particularly our nine-year-old sassy calico named Kisses.
Favorite movie: Oh, that’s hard! I love movies, and our family goes to several during the year. I thought I’d narrow down your question to Favorite from 2016, and I still couldn’t choose a favorite. So, how about the first movie I thought of from 2016? Hidden Figures. Such an inspiring film! One I’d highly recommend to anyone!
That is a good one! Favorite vacation destination: Probably the North Shore of Minnesota. No place is as calming. And when I’m there, God’s voice is so much clearer. No surprise, that’s where I’ve based my last two novels.
Favorite ice cream flavor: Schwan’s chocolate. No other chocolate ice cream can compare.
Tell us a little about Planting Hope. What inspired you to write this story?
My daughter and I were spending a few days along the North Shore of Lake Superior in Minnesota, doing research for a novel. As we drove along the scenic route, which takes you right along the shore, we discovered this adorable little candy store called Great! Lakes Candy Kitchen. Well, of course, we had to stop!
Before I entered this store, I had a stereotyped image of a clerk in my mind, someone like Mrs. Potts from Disney’s Beauty & the Beast. But the person who waited on us was a guy, probably in his 30s. My daughter said he reminded her of Luke from Gilmore Girls. I couldn’t argue with that. After we left the store, we both commented on our surprise at seeing him behind the counter, and we wondered what his story was. And the idea for Planting Hope was born! And, yes, I named my hero Luke because of the Gilmore Girls’ character—I’ll blame my daughter for that!
What a fun memory! Who is your favorite secondary character in this latest novel, and do you think you’ll include that character in a future story?
My favorite secondary character would have to be Mary Obermiller, the candy maker at the store, Superior Sweets. When I was considering names for the store, I had a contest on Facebook, asking for candy store names. Whoever offered the winning name would appear in the book. Initially, Mary was just supposed to be casually mentioned, but she ended up being a wise mentor for my hero, Luke. She’s quirky and sassy and super-talented and motherlike and always makes me smile. I’m hoping the character will make the real Mary Obermiller smile too. 😊
Very cool. Your stories always address some deep issues. What do you hope your readers take away from this novel?
So many of us find our value in how others perceive us. As a mom, I too often rely on my children’s successes, their behaviors, to lift me up. But they will let me down, and I will let them down. As a writer, value is too-often sought in reviews and sales. But poor reviews and lackluster sales too often label me as not good enough.
No matter how much someone on earth loves us, or we love them back, they will let us down, and vice versa. Our true worth, our only hope, the only unconditional and everlasting love, comes from God. He will never let us down, and He will love us through all of our messes. That’s what Jess and Luke (and I) need to take to heart.
That is such an important truth, and yet so many of us struggle to remember it! If you could offer a word of encouragement to an aspiring author, what would you say?
Persevere. God has given you a unique gift and a way to tell stories that only you can share. So press on through the rejections and the bad critiques and the naysayers and keep learning, keep improving, and you will succeed. Know that God’s idea of success most likely will not be the same as the world’s idea. It will be better.
Isn’t it awesome how His plans always turn out better than we could imagine? Can you give any hints about what you’re working on now?
With the release of Planting Hope, I’ve completed the Where the Heart Is series and my foray into Inspirational Romance. I’m eager and excited to dive back into family drama stories—they’re the kind of stories I have a great passion for and they energize me.
I haven’t put anything down on paper yet, but a story is playing out in my head about a woman who fights to free her wrongly-incarcerated husband from prison, and once he’s released, she has to fight even harder to save their marriage. (Psst: you’re the first to hear about this!)
How fun! Thank you for sharing that with us!! I can’t wait to hear more of the story. It sounds like it’ll be another great one! Thanks so much for taking the time to visit with us today, Brenda!
Your turn! Since the candy store plays such an important part in this story… What is your favorite candy?
More about Brenda:
Brenda S. Anderson writes gritty and authentic, life-affirming fiction. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and is Past-President of the ACFW Minnesota chapter, MN-NICE, the 2016 ACFW Chapter of the Year. When not reading or writing, she enjoys music, theater, roller coasters, and baseball, and she loves watching movies with her family. She resides in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area with her husband of 30 years, their three children, and one sassy cat.
You can connect with Brenda online:
Also by Brenda:
**Risking Love** (Where the Heart Is, book 1)
She holds the key to his heart, and his home. Can she risk falling in love with a man whose house she may have to take away?
Bank employee Lissa Morgan likes all the columns of her life to add up. From her job to romance, every major decision is planned out. But before she can go out on a date with Mr. Perfect, she attends a charity auction with her meddling mom who wins Lissa a date with thrill-seeker Caleb Johnson.
Caleb lived for adventure until heart disease stole his wife’s life. Then debt closed his business and now threatens to take his home. With a toddler to raise, he vows that his risk-taking days are over. But then he meets the cautious yet curious Lissa Morgan and decides it’s time to take one more risk—this time on love.
When Lissa learns the extent of Caleb’s debt, she wonders if she can collect on his heart if she forecloses on his home. And why is she falling for the wrong man—one who challenges her to leap from her orderly life and into his waiting arms?
**Capturing Beauty** (Where the Heart Is, book 2)
Photographer Haven Carlysle is a changed man. Six years earlier, he had run from his tragedy-filled life in Duluth. Now he’s back in town to capture the North Shore’s beauty … and to recapture the love of his son. But that means making amends with his ex-girlfriend too. When camera-leery Callie Beaumont steps in to bridge the relationship between Haven and his former family, he’s wary, but she’s his only hope.
Callie Beaumont is surrounded by beauty. Her parents are local news celebrities. Her sister is a model. And Callie is … Ordinary. All her life, Callie has longed to work outdoors soaking up God-breathed beauty, and the opportunity is finally on the horizon. But being the liaison between the handsome photographer and his son has thrown her dreams, and her heart, into chaos.
Can Haven capture her heart when she won’t let him capture her image? And will his poor choices cost Callie her dream job and him the love of his son?
Planting Hope Giveaway:
Brenda has generously offered to give away a paperback copy of Planting Hope. Giveaways are subject to the Giveaway Policy.