Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Author Behind the Story Series - Liz Tolsma

It's hard to believe summer is almost officially here (although for those of us in Florida, it's been here for a while). We started out as a tinderbox. Now we are about to start looking for Noah's Ark on the horizon. Dry one minute. Flooding rains the next. That's what we get for invading a swamp, I guess.

And should I note that we are nearly at the "six months until Christmas" stage of the year? Consider it a public service announcement. :-) 

It's also hard to believe that this is installment #6 of my Author Behind the Story series! How times flies!

This month, we want to welcome veteran author Liz Tolsma!

So, Liz, tell our audience, in 30-seconds or less, who Liz Tolsma is. Go!

I’m Liz Tolsma, a historical-writing, researching-loving, book-devouring, dog-crazy, gardening nut of an author who loves God, my high school sweetheart hubby, and our three children. I’m happiest in the woods or in or on the water – that is, when I’m not chained to my computer.


Before you ever got a notion of becoming a writer/author, how old were you, and what were you doing in that time of your life?

The notion first struck me when I was in the fifth grade (I’m not saying how long ago that was), when my teacher told me she hoped I would be a published authress someday. Though my life took detours into school teaching and raising a family, it was an idea I couldn’t get out of my head.

Interesting. I too am in education. Makes me wonder how many authors have been accomplished educators, dabbled in it for a short time, or were in the middle somewhere before chasing this dream. Speaking of education, what is your educational background?

I started my college career at Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania in the speech pathology department. After a semester, it was clear to me that wasn’t what I really wanted out of life, so I changed my major to elementary education and transferred to Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois. I chose those schools because they were colleges true to the Reformed faith. It was important to me to have a solid Christian education before I went out into the world, to have a biblical foundation for the rest of my life. I’ve never regretted that decision, and I’m thrilled that my daughter is going to be following in my footsteps.

Are you married? Single? Have kids?

My husband and I were high school sweethearts who endured four years of long-distance dating while we were in college. We’ve been married for twenty-eight years, and God blessed us with three beautiful children through international adoption. Our oldest and only son is 22 and serves as a U.S. Marine. We brought him home from Vietnam when he was 5 months old. Our daughter will be a high school senior in the fall and came home from Korea when she was 3 months old. And our youngest daughter came home from the Philippines when she was 5 years old. She has multiple physical and cognitive delays. We call her our “lifer” because she’ll always live with us, but she brings us so much joy.

I’m going to give you a shotgun list of favorites. List your favorite in each category and then tell us in one sentence why it is your favorite.

Favorite Food: chocolate
Favorite Drink: decaf Chai spice tea
Favorite Song: that changes from day to day. Right now, it’s probably Slow Down by Nichole Nordeman.
Favorite Non-Fiction Book (other than your own & besides the Bible): Inside Out by Susan May Warren and Rachel Hauck.
Favorite Bible Verse: Romans 8:37-39
Favorite Movie: Pride and Prejudice. The one with Keira Knightly
Favorite Actor or Actress: Tom Hanks
Favorite Novel (other than your own): That’s like asking me to pick my favorite child because I love so many!
Favorite Novelist (other than you): See previous answer ;)
Favorite Sport: baseball
Favorite Team (Can be any sport, any level): My daughter’s high school volleyball team because they endured a tough, tough season with grace and dignity.
Favorite Subject in School Growing Up: English and history
Favorite Subject Now: English and history
Favorite Teacher in School: Mrs. Rice, the teacher who inspired me to write
Favorite Time of the Year: fall
Favorite Place to Vacation: on a beach.


If you had one person you could meet (think ONLY Bible characters here) and could spend as much time as you wanted with that individual, who would it be besides Jesus?

Mary. I’d love to find out what her life was like, raising a child like our Lord. It would be a fascinating discussion.

Besides the usual things authors face, has there been an unusual event that changed your perspective about being an author?

I battled breast cancer at the time my first book was released and I was editing the second and writing the third. It taught me that I’m stronger than I thought I was and that I can handle the pressures of being a published author better than I thought I could. Even with the fatigue that came with my treatments, I was able to meet all my deadline. I also discovered that I have an amazing, supportive family who wants this for me as much as I want it for myself.

What’s the craziest thing you have ever done?

Lots of people thought we were crazy for going to Vietnam in 1995, just 20 years after the war. We were warned we would get a very chilly reception since we were going to be in Hanoi, in the north. Nothing could have been further from the truth. We were welcomed with opened arms and fell in love with the country. I'd like to do something even crazier some day and live there for six months or so.

Why do you live where you live?

I live in Wisconsin because this is where I’ve been since I was 8. My husband and I love the quiet countryside, the beauty of this state, and the changing of the seasons (though our enthusiasm for winter is waning the older we get). It’s hard for me to imagine myself living anywhere else.

We know “Readers are leaders, and leaders are readers.” Is there a book you’ve read in the past five years or so that has helped you become a better you? If so, which one was it, and how did it affect your life?

It’s hard for me to pick out one book. I don’t really read non-fiction, so I don’t have any “self-help” books that I’ve grown from, but I do read quite a bit of Christian fiction. The books always have such strong themes and messages, and I glean a little bit of knowledge about myself from each one. In the characters, I see myself reflected, and I grow and learn from that.

When you look for a new home, what are the things that are important to you?

It has to be in the country, on some acreage where I can’t see my neighbors. It must be warm and inviting, and something I could make my own. My husband and I aren’t against fixing up homes because when we’re done, then they reflect our own personal style. I have to have central air, solid surface counters, hardwood floors, and lots of storage.

Funny you should mention those things. My wife and I are in the midst of looking for a new home in a new location. We keep going back to the mountains of North Carolina in our searches, looking for many of the same things you listed. Of course, that's if a condo on the beach doesn't work out! And judging by your answers, you probably get that sentiment, too.


What Bible scripture has impacted your life the most, and why?


Romans 8:28, which reads, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” When I was struggling with infertility, the Bible study I was attending studied this verse one week. It was the same week that another woman just my age announced her second pregnancy and someone else asked for prayer for their 16-year-old niece who was pregnant. I had reached my breaking point, and clearly told God I thought this was all very unfair. The Holy Spirit brought this verse to mind, especially the words “all things”. I questioned him several times to make sure I understood that this meant absolutely everything in life, even infertility. He continued to emphasize all things. That’s when I was able to come to terms with the fact I would never have a biological child and was able to embrace adoption as the way to build our family.


Liz, it's been a pleasure having you as part of our Author Behind the Story series!

Readers, you can get or stay in touch with Liz in the following ways:

Her Official Website: www.liztolsma.com
Her Blog for Writers: Pencildancer 
Her Blog for Life in the Midwest: Midwest Almanac 

(With all those pages, makes you wonder how she finds time to write, right?)


Hope everyone has enjoyed the time together with Liz!

Until next time, May God bless you and America, and may you and America bless God!

Kevin 

You can visit Kevin @ www.ckevinthompson.com

A Blake Meyer Thriller - Book 1
A Blake Meyer Thriller - Book 2

Kevin's Selah Award-winning Debut Novel
coming out in second edition June 22!






Monday, June 12, 2017

Confessions of a Middle School Administrator (An ACFW Blog)



Like many of my writing colleagues, I have two jobs. The one I had when I entered this crazy business we call “writing,” and the job of being an author, marketer, bookseller, and all the other hats we authors wear. For me, one is by day, and one is by night. The first one “pays the bills,” and I often hope the second one will usurp the role of the first one someday.

At least, that is what I’ve been saying since my first book was published.


Read on...






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