Today I’m excited to welcome AnnaLee Conti for an author spotlight. Read through to the end to find out how you can enter for a chance to win a kindle ebook from her Alaskan Waters Trilogy.
AnnaLee Conti is an author, teacher, and ordained minister. She and her husband, Bob, reside in the Mid-Hudson Valley. Together, they have pastored churches in New York State for more than 35 years. Her experiences growing up in a missionary family in Alaska provide inspiration for her writing. AnnaLee has also published numerous short stories, articles, devotionals, church school curriculum on assignment, a biography, and the Alaskan Waters Trilogy of historical Christian novels.
Truths I Learned From Fiction
Fiction is often described as “not true.” Good fiction, however, explores great truths. It rings true. While the stories are made up, good fiction mirrors life. It illustrates the results of good and bad choices.
I grew up in a missionary family in Alaska prior to television. To provide us with good reading material to fill the cold, dark winter evenings and the long, often rainy summer days, my father subscribed to a Christian book club.
Through fiction, I “experienced” the dangers of ignoring God’s will, the guilt of angry words that once spoken can never be recalled, and the consequences of unforgiveness and bitterness. The Christian novels I read influenced my world view and attitudes about life and love and helped me avoid making the characters’ mistakes.
Here are 12 truths I learned from fiction:
1. Do not marry an unbeliever. To walk together in life, two people must be headed in the same direction and share similar values.
2. Wait for sex until after marriage. Since God made us, He knows what will make us happiest.
4. Be quick to say “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you.” We all make mistakes and hurt each other, whether we intend to or not. Unforgiveness blocks us from giving and receiving love. Forgiveness overcomes even great evil.
5. Never part from a loved one on an angry note. Life is fragile and unpredictable. We never know when our words may be the last ones they hear from our lips.
6. To achieve happiness, become vulnerable. In order to love and be loved, we must be willing to risk rejection and emotional pain.
7. Never allow bitterness to take root in our hearts. Miss Havisham, the wealthy but eccentric spinster in Dickens’ Great Expectations, is a prime example of the destructiveness of bitterness.
8. Expect the unexpected. In life, as in a novel, anything can happen. It’s not over until it’s over. As long as there’s life, there’s hope.
9. Trust God always, even when we don’t understand His ways. Both fiction and biographies have cultivated my own faith.
10. Don’t assume the worst. Give loved ones the benefit of the doubt. Be willing to listen to their explanation.
11. Recognize that love is a choice, an act of our will, not a feeling (infatuation). Love chooses to put the best interests of another ahead of our own.
12. When reading about a Biblical or historical character, always check the facts to discover where the author embellished the story. That’s how I learned a lot about the Bible and history.
Reading Christian fiction inspired me to write it. Without being preachy, I want to give my readers a good story that inherently illustrates the value of choosing God’s way.
Question: What truth have you learned from Christian fiction?
To learn more about AnnaLee and her inspirational novels, go to her website at www.annaleeconti.com.
Author Interview Questions:
- How did you get started in writing?
When I was a young teen, my grandmother gave me copies of the nine Christian novels her sister had written under the pen name Zenobia Bird published by Revell. Captivated, I decided I wanted to write books someday.
Alaska’s majestic beauty also inspired me. Enthralled by the snow-capped mountains and bright constellations in the nighttime sky on long drives home from shopping trips or church events in other towns, I invented word phrases to describe what I saw and felt, often incorporating them into essays at school. And I romanticized about my future.
In college, where I majored in vocal music and elementary education, I took a course in advanced exposition. While my husband was in seminary, I worked as an editorial assistant at Gospel Publishing House. There, I polished my writing skills and began writing church school literature on assignment and articles and short stories for in-house magazines and take-home papers, which I continued to do for the next 25 years while we pastored churches in New York State.
- Where did you get the idea for your Alaskan Waters Trilogy?
After working off and on for 30 years on the faith-filled story of my grandparents, Charles and Florence Personeus, pioneer missionaries to Alaska, 1917-1982, I published Frontiers of Faith in 2003. As I researched that book, I uncovered incidents that triggered my imagination, and the concept for my Alaskan Waters Trilogy of historical Christian fiction was born. In 2007, I joined a local writers group and have now published my trilogy in e-book and trade paperback with Ambassador International.
Till the Storm Passes By begins at one of our favorite one-day getaway spots—Jamestown and Beavertail Lighthouse, which we discovered while stationed in Rhode Island in the Army in 1970-72. As I sat on the rocks watching waves from the Atlantic Ocean crash and splash, I plotted the story of Evie, whose childhood nightmare and a deathbed confession send her to Alaska’s Panhandle to unravel a past shrouded in mystery.
A Star to Steer By and Beside Still Waters soon followed in the life and death saga of an immigrant Norwegian family who battles the beautiful but often treacherous waters of early 20th Century Southeast Alaska in search of love and happiness in the midst of tragedies.
- How much of your life is in your books?
Till the Storm Passes By is set in 1953. My family was living in Juneau then. My own experiences there—a face-to-face encounter with a bear, the children’s home my parents operated for 5 years, trips on my uncle’s mission boat, a week on a salmon troller, my music and church life, summer vacations in Pelican with my grandparents—provide color and detail.
The other two books in the trilogy go back a generation to 1915-20. My grandparents often told stories of that period of Alaska history, but I also did extensive research online to supplement my personal knowledge the settings.
Leave a comment to be entered in a drawing for one Kindle e-book from my Alaskan Waters Trilogy (your choice of Book 1, 2, or 3).
First page of Beside Still Waters, Book Three of the Alaskan Waters Trilogy:
Boston, Massachusetts, March 1915
Aunt Mabel was dead.
Violet Channing unlocked the door to the three-room flat she’d shared with her aunt, her only living relative, now deceased. The cloying scent of her aunt’s floral perfume could not obscure the rancid odors of garbage and stale food in the stairwell or the medicinal smell of sickness that pervaded the apartment.
Violet clenched her fists. Aunt Mabel was too young to die!
Closing the door behind her, Violet surveyed the tiny living room. It was stuffed with the nicest things Aunt Mabel had been able to salvage when she lost her large, Victorian house in a wealthy neighborhood to the creditors after her husband died.
Slightly tattered lace curtains draped the lone window, the only source of ventilation—if it could be called that. The soot-ladened air from the tenements’ stark chimneys had permanently stained the curtains a dirty shade of brownish gray. Hand-crocheted doilies covered the head and armrests to protect the Victorian sofa she’d managed to save when her house was repossessed.
The apartment felt empty without Aunt Mabel’s dominating presence. She had tried so hard to make this cold-water flat look like her lost home. But the two of them couldn’t even afford enough coal to keep warm in winter or the doctor’s fees when she started coughing.
If only she’d stopped taking a lunch to work sooner to save up enough money for a doctor’s visit. Violet shuddered. Her aunt’s fits of coughing had worsened so quickly. She had refused to see a doctor until her sputum became tinged with blood. By then, it was too late.
“Consumption,” the doctor told Aunt Mabel. “Keep warm and rest.”