Hello readers! I am happy to welcome author Penny Zeller to Reviews By Jane this week!
that might surprise your readers?
Hi Kait! It’s great to be here.
I am a Christ follower, wife of 18 years to my wonderful husband, Lon, mother of two, and a Christian author and speaker. I am the author of several books and I have also written for numerous national and regional magazines. My work has also been included in several anthologies. I owe all my inspiration to the Lord – He truly is amazing!
Hmmmm…something about me that might surprise my readers? Something rather humorous is that I had two imaginary friends as a young child. They were two gray-haired grandpas (the ones from Sesame Street). I imagined they lived at the end of my street.
What inspired you to write McKenzie and Kaydie: The first two books in your Montana Skies Series?
My family and I were in a car accident a couple years ago where I suffered neck and leg injuries. During that time period of seven months, I was also hit with back-to-back bacterial infections. Because of the injuries and illness, I was pretty much homebound and my active athletic lifestyle suddenly became limited. I look back now and praise God that He gave me McKenzie, as well as two other manuscripts (another historical and a contemporary) I wrote in that seven month period of pain and illness. God took what was a difficult time for me and turned it around to something positive that can be used for His Kingdom – taking the time to write the books that I had always wanted to write.
He has since healed me and I pray daily that the path I have chosen in life will glorify Him. I think that’s why Jeremiah 29:11, which says, “’For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future’” is so close to my heart.
Wow! I am so glad the LORD saw fit to heal you! He is truly good. :-)
What prompted you to write in Montana Territory?
Our family has traveled extensively through Montana on road trips. We have visited two well-preserved ghost towns, which provided me with so much inspiration! I love the scenery and the history of Montana and couldn’t wait to base my characters in that setting.
I've been through Montana several times and have found it to be one of the most beautiful states in the country; I'll bet it makes a great setting!
Has your faith influenced your writings?
My faith influences my writing 100%. In November of 2000, I gave my writing to the Lord. I quit my fulltime job with a social services agency to stay home with my infant daughter. That was the start of my writing career, beginning with magazine articles in national and regional publications. My first book, a children’s book titled Hollyhocks, was published in 2003. I am humbled that God has called me into a ministry of writing. I speak from experience when I say that when He closes one door, He opens a (much better) one and I firmly believe that if God calls you, He will guide you.
I pray God will use each of my books to impact the lives of others for His Kingdom. For instance, in McKenzie, I have shown how God can and does change hearts and just like in real life, McKenzie’s heart was changed gradually as she came to rely on and put her trust in the Lord. I love the verse in Isaiah 64:8 that says “Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter…”
Because faith plays such an important role in my writing, I love the opportunity it has given me to share Christ with others. Being able to talk about my career has opened the door to sharing the Gospel in countless ways.
That is a great verse!
Did you base any of your characters on people you really know?
The characters in my fiction books are a potpourri of many different people. I love to people-watch, so this gives me a great resource for characters. For example, I will take the hairdo of the woman in the mall, the nose of the woman in the airport, the eyes of the woman in church three rows up, and maybe some personality traits of two or three people I know as acquaintances. I combine all of these attributes into one person to develop my characters.
Haha you're example "The nose of a woman in the airport" made me chuckle - but all in all, that's a brilliant idea!
Which book that you've written was your favorite to write?
Hmmm. Hard question! I loved writing McKenzie because the Lord gave me that inspiration while I was
recovering from our car accident. I have also enjoyed writing Kaydie because it is such a
testimony of how God can take something bad and use it for something good.
When you started writing, where did you begin? With an outline? Or did you just
jump into it and let the story form as you wrote?
Interestingly, I don’t write outlines for my novels. I dream up the entire book in my head as if I were watching a movie then write it down scene by scene. My husband and kids always tease me and ask if I’ve “watched” any movies lately *grins.*
Sounds a bit like how I operate. ;-)
You've written and published several books. Which one required the most research? Which took the longest time to write?
The book that took the longest to write was my second book, Wyoming Treasures. I interviewed 38 people – many of whom had experienced The Great Depression and World War II firsthand. I met some amazing people, many of whom are no longer with us. The book that required the most research was my most recent nonfiction book, 77 Ways Your Family Can Make a Difference: Ideas and Activities for Serving Others. For this book, I researched statistics and spent a lot of time in God’s Word correlating the Scripture verses with each project and the “Up for Discussion” questions at the end of each chapter.
Who would you have play McKenzie and Zach if "McKenzie" were made into a
I think that based on appearances, I would pick Hayden Panettiere for McKenzie and Geoff Stults for Zach.
Who is your favorite author?
I have several and couldn’t even begin to narrow it
down to just one!
Haha I am the same way!
Do you have another book in the making? Can you give us some insight on what it's about?
I just finished the third book in the series, Hailee, which is scheduled for
release later this year. Here's a little teaser about what's to come:
Times in Pine Haven have changed over the past few years. The town has doubled in size and Montana has become a state. Bethany Ethel is now the older sister to spunky seven-year-old twin brothers who find great delight in providing trouble for the new teacher, Miss Hailee Annigan. The Sawyers have added to their own family with daughter, Chloe; and Lucille Granger continues her antics as the town busybody.
Faith. Love. Hope. Forgiveness. This recent installment of the Montana Skies Historical
Romance Series explores all four in the continuing saga of a peek into the lives of those who call Pine Haven their home.
I'm also working on a historical romance series that takes place in the Post-Civil War Era.
I've finished book one in the series and have started writing book two.
How can our readers reach you?
I love to hear from my readers and can be found on the web at www.pennyzeller.com
www.pennyzeller.wordpress.com (my blog – a Day in the Life of a Wife, Mom,
and Author) http://www.facebook.com/pages/Penny-A-Zeller/96391560959?ref=ts
(Facebook) http://twitter.com/pennyzeller (Twitter)
Thank you, Kait, for inviting me to your blog. It’s been an honor to be here!
Not only has Mrs. Zeller been gracious enough to allow me to interview her, but she is also willing to giveaway her upcoming release - Kaydie - to one lucky commenter! One winner will receive a copy of Kaydie when it releases in April. USA ONLY!
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