Author Penny Zeller's Hailee

In the Piedmont Island Trilogy author spotlight today is Penny Zeller. Penny tells of being bitten with the writing bug at age seven when she began writing Bible stories in her own words! In fourth grade, she began to write fictional stories and “publishing” them in homemade wallpaper-covered cardboard books.

She writse a humor blog "A Day in the Life of a Wife, Mom, and Author", is an active volunteer in her community, and devotes her time to assisting, encouraging, and nurturing women and children into a closer relationship with Christ. When not dreaming up new characters for books, she enjoys spending time with family and friends and camping, hiking, canoeing, gardening, and playing volleyball. A very busy lady!

Let’s talk writing!

Anne - When did you first realize you were destined to write romance? 

Penny - Hello Anne! Thank you for graciously hosting me on your blog. It’s great to be here! I think I knew I was destined to write romance as early as the age of 10, when I made up this romantic suspense series. The main character was the handsome and fictional police officer, Josh McClain. Everyday, my younger sister and cousin would excitedly ask me what was going on in Josh’s life (and in the life of the main female character) and what crimes Josh had solved.

I loved telling them my sister and cousin stories about Josh McClain that I had made up in my mind from the night before (usually when I should have been sleeping!) and leaving them at a cliffhanger until I could make up some more details the following night. We still laugh about those stories, and in hindsight, I wish I had written them down!

Anne - Tell us about your book. 

Penny - Hailee is the third book in my Montana Skies Historical Romance Series, which began with McKenzie and Kaydie.

Following is a short blurb -

For years, orphan Hailee Annigan was just a ragamuffin in the Cincinnati streets, stealing food to keep her two younger brothers fed. Her thievery landed her in a home for delinquent youngsters, where her life was changed, thanks to her teachers. Now, nineteen-year-old Hailee excitedly heads to Montana to be a teacher, yet she's still plagued by her shameful past and the fear of never seeing her brothers again.

Based on his upbringing in high-society
Boston, no one would have guessed that Nate Adams would attend seminary and become a church pastor in rugged Montana. Even now, Nate's parents refuse to put aside their own plans for his future and accept his calling.

When their paths converge, an immediate attraction draws Hailee and Nate together, even as the pressures and demands of others pull them apart. Can the unlikely pair come to terms with their pasts and face the future together?

I’m excited about the new trailer for Hailee, which was just produced and can be found at http://youtu.be/LEGoM43jtwA
 
Anne – I love the trailer! Kudos on such a great visual for your book. Is there a message in Hailee that  you want readers to grasp?

Penny - My passion is to write books that impact lives for Christ. Readers can expect to share in Hailee’s pain and sorrow, as well as the joy she experiences. They will watch as her faith wavers and her heart breaks at the losses she experiences in life. They will share with Nate as he struggles to release to the Lord burdens he was never meant to carry. My books are character-driven, and as such, throughout the book and with a variety of characters, readers will catch a glimpse of struggles with forgiveness, Salvation, rededication to Christ, and the hope of a new life.

Anne - Any words of advice for struggling, unpublished writers?

Penny - God calls us all to do different things for His Kingdom. If He has called you to write, seek His guidance. Never give up, even when you feel like it or when someone has unkindly criticized you. Seek to please and honor Him in whatever  you write, whether it be for the secular or nonsecular market; whether it be fiction, nonfiction, poetry, song lyrics, or a screenplay. Find a mentor and be open to ideas and suggestions from one who’s “been there, done that.” One final note, join forces with other Christian writers. After all, we are all working for the same Boss. I give more tips for writers, including sticking with writing and how to prepare for a writer’s conference HERE.

Anne - Outside of writing, what accomplishment are you most proud?

Penny - I would have to say the accomplishments I am most proud of are my 19-year marriage to my wonderful husband, Lon. The other accomplishment I am most proud of is my two children. My oldest daughter, who is 11, spends a lot of time volunteering in Toddler Time at church. She also tutors younger children in their schoolwork. My youngest is the vice-president of a club that helps to support those misplaced by the earthquakes in Haiti. She also wants to be a missionary when she’s an adult.  I am praying that the Lord will continue to move both of my daughters’ hearts toward ministry.

Anne – Would you share an excerpt with us?

Penny – Certainly!

July 1893 • Cincinnati, Ohio
Hailee Annigan removed the discolored sheet of pa­per from the community board in the train depot. Time and weather had faded the poster, so the message was barely readable, but she had memorized the words:
Looking for Philip and Reuben Annigan.
If you have any information, kindly respond to:
Hailee Annigan c/o Dot Pangbourn’s Boardinghouse West Eberlee Street, Cincinnati, Ohio
She crumpled the paper in her hand and stuffed it into her purse. In its place, she posted the notice she’d written that morning, then stepped back to make sure it would be conspicuous to people pass­ing by or preparing to board a train.
Looking for Philip and Reuben Annigan.
If you have any information, kindly respond to: Hailee Annigan c/o Pine Haven School Pine Haven, Montana

For the past several years, she had replaced the posting every month, two times in order to alter the address where she could be located if someone knew of her brothers’ whereabouts.

Hailee swallowed hard to hold back her tears. She didn’t want to leave Cincinnati and diminish her chances of ever finding her younger brothers. However, she knew that a change in location would do her heart good, and that she was following God’s prompting to fulfill the dream she’d had in her heart since she was a young girl.

Tomorrow, Hailee would begin her journey of nearly two thousand miles to a place she’d never been, where she had accepted a job as the school­teacher. Yes, such a drastic change would help her to leave the past behind and start life anew.

She turned and trudged the short distance from the train depot to Austin Street. Her feet ached from all the walking she’d done in the past few hours, re­placing each of the seven postings in varied locations around the city. Now, she had one more place to vis­it—one more person to see—before leaving Ohio

Excerpt from pages five and six of Hailee by Penny Zeller, © 2011, with permission of the publisher, Whitaker House.

Anne – I’m sure I’m not the only reader wanting more! Where can readers purchase a copy?

Penny - Hailee can be purchased at your favorite bookstore or at online retailers, such as Amazon.

Anne - Where can readers find you on the web?

Penny - I love to connect with my readers at my website, blog, on Twitter, and on Facebook where I post updates about new books, giveaways, events, and Just-for-Fun Fridays.

Anne – Thank you so much for visiting with me on Piedmont Island, Penny!

FYI - leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Hailee. Winner will be announced later this week.
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