Keli Gwyn
Meet the Author: Kathy Harris

Kathy Harris is an author by way of a “divine detour” into the Nashville entertainment business. After graduating with a Communications degree from Southern Illinois University, she moved to Nashville, Tennessee to work with a well-known gospel music quartet. A few months later, The Oak Ridge Boys began their transition into country music, and Kathy had the opportunity to help build an entertainment empire from the ground up.

She worked her way to becoming a member of the Operations Management Team, eventually heading up the company’s public relations and marketing department. A lifelong fascination for books and editing led to her working as a book agent for Oak Ridge Boys’ vocalist Joe Bonsall.

For several years, Kathy freelanced entertainer biographies and wrote, as well as ghost wrote, news stories and columns for various music publications. She’s had non-fiction stories and devotions published. And just last month, her debut novel, The Road to Mercy, was published.

Kathy lives near Nashville with her husband and their two Shiloh Shepherd dogs. She regularly interviews literary and music guests on her blog, DivineDetour.com.

Welcome, Kathy. It’s great to have you here.

What an interesting career you’ve had. Your work with the Oak Ridge Boys must have been fascinating. What stand out as the three most interesting aspects of that experience?

Keli, thanks so much for having me here today!

It’s difficult to choose only three because I’ve had a fun career. Quite often it has been challenging, and I love a good challenge!

1) For several years we organized an annual concert at Reunion Arena in Dallas, TX. Stars for Children always featured a big lineup of pop and country acts. Proceeds benefited child abuse awareness and prevention. It was a lot of work logistically but very rewarding. I remember running around and around the indoor perimeter of that place chasing down talent, stagehands, etc. By the end of the night I was usually barefooted. Shoes were definitely optional after the first two hours and/or five miles, whichever came first : )

2) I don’t tour with them at this point, but I have gone on tour for many special occasions over the years. The biggest challenge in touring is overseas when you don’t speak the language. On one trip to France we stayed in a non-English speaking hotel. Just asking for a wake-up call or instructing a cab driver required diligence (and a good sense of humor—lol!).

3) Another wonderful experience was being a part of the entourage when the Oaks performed on the lawn of the White House for the Third Annual Congressional BBQ in 1983. Ronald Reagan was President at the time. A very special memory.

You spent a good deal of time immersed in the country music world. Are you a country music buff, or do you have another favorite genre? Who are your favorite singers or groups? Do you sing, too?

I love country music now, but I initially came to Nashville to work in Christian music. I sang in a semi-pro gospel group throughout most of high school and college, although I never felt I was good enough to pursue it professionally.

One of my favorite formats is Contemporary Christian. I love just about anything that fits into that format. One of my favorite new CCM artists is Karyn Williams. Karyn’s debut CD, Only You, is packed with great songs. One track, This Is Freedom, blew me away the first time I heard it. I got in touch with her through mutual friends, and she gave me permission to use the song as the soundtrack for The Road to Mercy book trailer. You can hear it if you watch the trailer below.

You’re a veteran interviewer. What are your best tips on how to conduct a successful interview?

LOL. You have to love asking questions.

Seriously, I think the best interviewers have a genuine interest in people and the topic of discussion. I love interviewing authors and musicians about their creative works and their faith. So, I suppose, my best advice would be to interview people who fascinate you and/or with whom you have a common interest.

I’m guessing those Shiloh Shepherds are great company. Where is your favorite place to take them walking?

Definitely THE BEACH. : )  However, that’s not something we can do very often. We have a great park close to our house. The dogs love going there. We usually take turns, i.e. one dog a day. Two 100+ lb. dogs are a lot to handle at once.

Let’s finish by talking shoes. Are you a cowboy boots, trainers, high heels, or flip flops kinda gal? (And why?)

I’m all about blue jeans and slides. I like simple and comfortable.

Kathy’s Question for You

In The Road to Mercy, Josh Harrison’s faith is tested. What good thing(s) do you think can come from having your faith tested? If you’re willing, give an example from personal experience.

• • •

The Road to Mercy

Josh Harrison, a contemporary Christian singer, and his wife Bethany face a difficult decision that also tests their faith. A rupture in Beth’s carotid artery leaves her on the brink of death even as she’s pregnant with their first child. While Dr. Ben Abrams urges her to terminate the pregnancy to save her own life, she and Josh step out on faith and decide to carry the baby to full term.

During the next few months, Josh struggles with his faith, Beth hides a secret that may destroy their marriage. She also discovers a decades-old connection to Dr. Abrams that could change his life forever.

• • •

• • •

Kathy’s Drawing

Kathy has generously offered to give away an autographed copy of her debut novel, The Road to Mercy, along with a copy of Karyn Williams’ new Contemporary Christian Music CD, Only You.

To enter the drawing, leave a comment by Sunday, Oct. 7. (Be sure to provide your email address in the appropriate field so I can contact you if you win.)

I’ll select the winner Monday, Oct. 8 and post the name here and in a comment.

Congratulations the Lindsay Harrel, winner of the drawing!

No purchase necessary.
Offer void where prohibited.

U.S. and Canadian addresses only.
Odds of winning vary due to number of entrants.

 

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Keli Gwyn
Romantic Proposals: At The Footbridge

Marriage proposals are special. Some are funny. Some are serious. And some are so romantic we can’t help but sigh.

When my writer friend and blogging buddy Gabrielle Meyer shared her proposal story with me, I did just that. I asked her if she’d be willing to share it here on my blog, and she said yes.

Here is Gabrielle’s beautiful story, one I’m sure you’ll enjoy.

❤❤❤

The first time I saw my husband, David, he was in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat, and I was in the audience. When he stepped onto the stage, I sat up straight, and when he began to sing, I melted into a pool.

Later, I was at a gathering with friends, when David walked in. I was talking with a friend about my job at the Dairy Queen. She was lactose intolerant and asked if there were any products available for people like her. I must admit, I wasn’t concentrating on the conversation; I was too busy watching David walk across the room, his handsome smile directed right at me.

This was the big moment! Butterflies flew through my stomach and my heart did a little flip. My friend, not knowing how historic this moment would forever remain, glanced at David and said nonchalantly: “Dave, have you met Gabe? She’s our friendly lactose dealer.” It wasn’t an ideal introduction, but we’d met!

Nine months later, after hours of phone calls, chance encounters and planned meetings, our friendship (finally!) developed into a romance, and we’ve never looked back.

David and Gabrielle Meyer celebrating their 11th anniversary.

In those early days David wrote beautiful poetry. As he prepared to leave for college, he read me one of his poems. He said someday he would tell me what it meant, but with the transitions we were making after graduation, I quickly forgot about it.

For the first two years we attended universities only thirty miles apart, and then David made a difficult decision to transfer three hundred miles away. We couldn’t imagine being separated, but living together before marriage wasn’t an option, as both of us had made a commitment to purity. We began exploring the idea of marrying while we were still college students. It hadn’t been our original plan, but the more we talked and prayed, the more we knew it was God’s best for us.

We picked out a ring, a beautiful vintage setting much like my grandmother’s, but he said the rest would be a surprise.

On a moonlit night in October of 2000, David came to my parents’ home and asked me if I’d like to take a walk with him in the park along the Mississippi River. The lamps on the trail offered a soft glow as we meandered hand in hand. When we came to the little footbridge on the path, David stopped and asked me to be his wife. With a little cry of excitement I said yes, and we shared a sweet kiss before he placed the ring on my finger.

David and Gabrielle Meyer on the Footbridge

In the joy of the moment, he asked me if I remembered the poem he’d written for me two years before, and that’s when he told me: “I wrote that poem the day I knew I would ask you to be my wife.”

The words to that poem, full of promise and hope, are etched into my heart. They graced the front of our wedding program and remain some of my favorite words ever written.

 ❤❤❤

Someday

by David Meyer

 I listen to the sound of my dreams, which seem to be singing your name

And I feel the madness of the love that my heart proclaims

And to you I shall give this love, to place on your lips so tender

Ah! It is you my love, my heart has been forever surrendered

As tender as a kiss on the footbridge, where the two destined lovers meet!

As beautiful as the morning snow and the smile that smiles so sweet

And if I could only be there to greet thee!

What a wonderful morning it would be!

On the footbridge where I shall meet thee!

Oh! What beautiful mornings we will see!

❤❤❤

Now that you’ve read Gabrielle’s story, don’t you agree that hers is a sigh-worthy proposal?

I love that poem and how David planned years before exactly where he’d take Gabrielle when he proposed to her. He certainly picked a romantic spot, didn’t he? And don’t you love that poem?

❤❤❤

Have you ever written a poem for your special someone?

Has your special someone written a poem for you?

☙☙☙

 Keli’s Book Release Blog Tour Appearances

A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California was officially released July 1. Many wonderful bloggers have offered to help me get the word out by hosting me on their blogs. I’ll be sharing the links to those posts at the bottom of mine throughout the tour, which runs though the end of this month.

July 11

Novel PASTimes ~ Interview and Book Giveaway
with Becky Melby and Cindy Thomson

Tag(g)lines ~ Tildy’s Character Interview
and Peppermint Giveaway with Melissa Tagg

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Keli Gwyn
Real-life Romance with Roxanne Sherwood Gray

I’m delighted to welcome romance writer Roxanne Sherwood Gray as my guest. We met online back in 2008, and I was impressed with what a sweet person she is. When we first connected, I learned that her life had undertaken an unexpected turn the year before, a sad one. In time the Lord blessed her with a wonderful surprise of the romantic kind. When I saw her at the ACFW Conference in September 2011, she was radiant.

I’ve invited Roxanne to share her real-life romance with you. Prepared to be moved.

• • •

My husband, Jack, and I were busy, home schooling parents of six. In our early forties, life was satisfying, but we wanted more. I dreamed of publishing a novel. With a master’s degree in engineering, Jack had spent his career in computer security and yearned for a Ph.D. in computer science.

When I was pregnant with our seventh child, I urged Jack to pursue his Ph.D. I knew that if we waited for the right time—an empty nest?—to pursue our dreams, we’d wait forever.

The Sherwood Family six months before Roxanne lost Jack.

So I wrote about a widow with a second chance at love, while Jack took college classes. We celebrated contest wins and courses completed. He was my biggest fan. I was his most avid supporter. We were on our way. It was just a matter of time.

Turns out, we didn’t have time. At least, Jack didn’t.

In 2007, on our twin daughters’ 17th birthday, Jack suffered a fatal heart attack on the way home from work. He left me with seven children—ages 1, 8, 10, 17, 17, 18 and 20—all living at home. I had to remember to breathe.

Did you notice the premise of my work-in-progress? A widow must decide if love is Worth the Risk. My heroine’s young son was named Peter. So was my youngest. She worried that her boys wouldn’t remember their father. My Peter was too young to remember Jack. It was surreal to be living my novel.

I’d written a heart-wrenching scene where Stephanie, my heroine, is forced to take off her wedding ring. I’d built up the tension, so it was a really big deal for her. One day, I decided to date and quietly slipped off my wedding ring—I’d already worked through my emotions writing that scene. I don’t know if this novel will ever be published. Maybe I was the one who needed to read it.

When I heard that high school classmate Steve Gray’s wife had died after a long illness, I sent him my condolences. He had no plans to remarry—and risk loving—again. I only wanted a friendship with him because he lived 1,200 miles away—and I’d known him since 5th grade. If we were intended to have a relationship, wouldn’t it have happened when we were young?

Steve and I began emailing and chatting. After several weeks, he finally called. God made us attracted to one another’s voices. We talked for two and three hours a night for months, revealing the depths of our hearts as God knit our souls together.

We laughed like giddy teenagers and knew phone calls weren’t enough. Finally, he visited so we could discover if our feelings were real. He’d already won my heart, and I soon fell in love with the rest of him. 🙂

Steve & Roxanne on their wedding day--June 18, 2011.

In some ways, pursuing a relationship was a risk. When we married in June 2011, we’d spent only 30 days together, usually 3-6 days at a time. We never dated, instead spending time discovering if we could be a family.

Two hearts united. Two families combined.

My children liked Steve immediately, but the four in college stayed in Texas when I moved to Florida to be married. Still, I knew God had handpicked Steve for me—and my three young sons.

Roxanne and Steve on their honeymoon in Antigua.

People ask when I’ll publish our story. For now, I’m still a novelist—with a new, fabulously supportive husband, who makes me laugh every day. He also says the most romantic things, and I’m tempted to stop and write them down for my hero to say. Instead, I enjoy the moment—and just hope I remember the words later.

As for my decision to marry Steve? Worth the Risk!

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Keli Gwyn
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