Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Santa Cruz, California, October 28th, 2014

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Be Still My...altitude sickness!! My date with Joanne Bischof.

I left for Bolivia on October the 17, which was also my parent's anniversary. 
I had waited two long years to go back to the Andes and my beloved, beautiful Quechua people.

But one of the very serious downsides to being up at altitudes of 11,000 to 15,500 feet is a well known malady known as "altitude sickness".
Guess who got it and got shut down for a few days?

Yup. Me. 
I was in a wicked brain fog, combined with chest pain and was as weak as could be.

I'd brought a few books to read on the trip, but usually when we're up in the villages, there is NO time to read.
But, when you're on forced bed rest at the very nice, but very VERY basic hostel, there is ample time to catch up on your reading. 
So what did I pull out of my suitcase???

Joanne Bischof's debut novel. 

I'll skip the high praise and platitudes that everyone who's read this book is heaping on Joanne, and simply tell you this.

I read this book in two shots. 

Why two? Because the altitude sickness made me so tired, I fell asleep with the book in my hand.
Sorry, Joanne, but the brain was done.

I loved the way Joanne wove the story together, and didn't make the hero perfect.  I loved the colour she infused in her story world and I loved that the heroine ACHED, but still kept going.

This book is worth every penny!!

I had a chance to ask Joanne a few questions, so here is our discussion and please refrain from your cheering until we're done...I'm used to the screaming crowds, but Joanne is a woman of refinement and elegance and would appreciate polite applause and at least one well placed curtsy.

  • 1) When and why did you decide to become a writer?

  • I always had my nose in a book and my head in the clouds. Growing up, I was 1 part Jo March, 1 part Beatrix Potter and 1 part Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was always writing, drawing, and living with my imagination in the past. Being a writer was always my normal. I can never remember ever wanting to be anything else. I am SO thankful that God made that dream come true!

    2) Why Appalachian stories? Do you have a fondness for that area, of did the story dictate the location?

    As the idea for Be Still My Soul took seed, it unfolded to be a love story between two mismatched people—a marriage between a shy, innocent girl with a strong faith, and a cocky, confident bluegrass musician who hasn’t given God much thought. From the first moment, I knew the perfect home for this story was in Appalachia. Living in the mountains has cultivated a deep love of mountain life. Everything about it just says "home" to me and I think that's why it's become a part of my writing as well.

    3) Is there a bit of you in Lonnie? And if so, what?

     I'd say Lonnie and I have a good deal in common. Most of all would be a shyness that I'm learning to outgrow and over the course of the story, she does too. Second is being married to a man who wasn't a follower of the Lord. Readers will witness Gideon change and grow throughout Be Still My Soul, and in my own life, I am so incredibly grateful and thankful that a wonderful change has happened with my husband. About a year and a half ago, he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior and there has been much rejoicing in our home ever since!

    4) Where did the names come from?

    For historical fiction, I always like to find names that were around during a particular time. For this series, I searched for names that appeared in the Appalachian region, like Elsie and Lonnie. With the men, Jebediah and Gideon, it just felt natural for folks to call them Jeb and Gid and it's always fun when readers use those nicknames as well. Whenever a reader writes me to tell me how the story effected them or what the characters meant to them, it truly touches my heart. It's been such a blessing!

    5) Do you know any fiddlers, and can they play the Last of the Mohican's theme?

    Great song and I know some fiddlers 

    6) Can they play it over the phone for me?


    7) Oops, wandering...sorry...what is next for you as a writer? Will there be a Book Three in this series, or will you go in a different direction?

    There will be a book 3! I've turned the manuscript into my editor, gotten the green light on a title and am eagerly anticipating the cover art! I'm as excited about this story as the first two. I really hope readers enjoy the final stage in Lonnie and Gideon's journey.

    8)Is Be Still My Soul your first novel, or is that hiding somewhere in your house?

     I have manuscripts in my house that will never see the light of day and I'm so glad! Glad for that time of being able to just write as part of the learning process, even though the results weren't very good.

    9) What advice would you give newbs ...sorry, pre-published authors...who are just starting down Publication Road? 

    There are so many key elements to developing the craft of writing. Joining critique groups, going to conferences, studying craft books and reading great fiction are all great ways to hone those writing skills.
    And above all else, enjoy the journey. I've been on this road for years and I know many others have as well. I've learned more during this process than I ever expected. At times it was easy to get discouraged and just when I felt maybe nothing was going to ever happen, God carried me through a valuable lesson because His timing is perfect.

    10) And our last question, Ms Bischof, have you ever wanted to be a natural redhead?

     Yes! You know my secret shame. I would LOVE to have naturally red hair! I died it red once, and it didn't turn out to well. I haven't colored it since and in fact, actually cut my own hair. That's code for "don't look to closely" 

    Thank you SO much, Joanne! 
    I'm looking forward to the next book, 
    Though My Heart Is Torn, when we join Lonnie and Gideon as their story continues.

    If you want to get to know Joanne better, visit her at


    Well folks, that is IT for TFTR until after Christmas.
    Have a wonder filled, joyous, Christ centered Christmas. I'll see you back here before New Year's when I'll share my thoughts and goals for 2013. 


  1. Chiming in with polite applause, a well-placed curtsy, and -- oh, forget the restraint. Wildly clapping (in my heart-- don't want to wake the sleeping wee ones here) for you both!! ...and I, too, had a less-than-successful attempt at dying my hair red when I was 19 or 20. I'll leave it to the naturals. You do it well, Jennifer!

    1. I was a natural redhead, and still am to some extent, but thyroid disease turned my hair BROWN. I pay a very nice woman to make my hair look natural. She earns her dough!!
      Thanks for visiting, Amanda.

  2. Great interview! Very insightful, and it's so good to be able to get into a writer's head.

    Without a bone saw and scalpel, I mean.

    1. Thanks for the compliment. And yes, I do prefer questions instead of scaplels. But why am I even wondering if you have done that surgery? You know, the one the Mayans or Incas, or whoever, did?

  3. Hello, ladies! Such a fun interview. I love learning the heart behind a story - and this one is full of heart! Joanne, I so relate to being one part Jo March, one part Beatrix Potter and one part Laura Ingalls Wilder and living with my imagination in the past! You've just described me perfectly - it's so fun discovering a kindred spirit. :)

    Merry Christmas Jennifer & Joanne!

    1. Kindred spirit? Don't forget Anne with an E.
      Merry Christmas Gabrielle!!

  4. Loved your interview, Jennifer! And I love the way you spell "colour"!!! So sorry that you had altitude sickness and so glad that Be Still My Soul kept you company. Thanks for all the laughs and playing Promentory in your honor!!!!

  5. Thank you SO much for coming over, Joanne! And I spell 'colour' properly, just in case anyone is curious. Hanging out with Lonnie and Gideon was GREAT way to spend a day, laying on my bed by the window at Hostel Santa Cruz on Rua Pampa Limain Sucre, Bolivia.

    And thank you for understanding the epic nature of Promontory.

  6. I just love the both of you, redhead or no! I have heard nothing but great feedback on your book, Joanne. Looking forward to reading the next one. Such a fun interview--glad to know the wonderful testimony about your hubby. You write from the heart, girlie!

  7. HDG!!! Love you back, bigtime! ANd yes, isn't it awesome about Joanne's hubby?!?!?!

  8. I love red hair too, Jennifer! And yes, I've dyed my hair red numerous times. ;-) Joanne, every interview I read is making me more anxious to read your book. I'm rejoicing with you that your husband gave his life to the Lord! My husband also wasn't a Christian when we were first married, and while our first years were rocky, its been a blessing to watch him grow in the Lord. Bless you both!