A Chat With Christa Allan

Christa Allan, Author of WALKING ON BROKEN GLASS

After reading Walking on Broken Glass, I wanted to know more—more about the book and more about the author.  Funny how just asking for information leads to more than can be processed in one sitting! 

 This morning, I am pleased to share a recent interview with the book’s author, Christa Allan.  Her work has really touched my heart, and I am sure it will touch yours as well.  I can hardly wait to read more from her.

 God bless you, Christa.

 Lynn McMonigal

Tell us a little about Leah Thornton.  Where did she come from?  Is she a real person in your life?  Or does she exist only in the pages of your book?

 After spending so much time with Leah, I experienced separation anxiety when the book was published!  She’s not a “real” flesh and blood person, but I do see her as a composite of many women.

 What was the most difficult part of writing this book for you?

 This being my first novel, I struggled with self-doubt. Did my writing ring true? Did I say too much? Not enough?  I’ve discovered that writers write what most people think but hesitate to voice. Yet, I constantly had to quiet the voice in me that would whisper, “What if you’re just a wingnut, and no one else thinks this but you?”

 Reading Walking on Broken Glass was a very emotional experience for me.  It brought up a lot of things in my life that I had hidden for much too long.  Was writing the book as emotional for you?

 Absolutely. Although Leah’s experiences as a recovering alcoholic weren’t exactly my own, I still had to dig trenches in my twenty plus years of buried memory of having been someone who drank way too much too often.  And the journal entries were especially difficult, but I know they would reveal Leah‘s vulnerability and pain.

 What do you want readers to come away with after reading this novel?

 Hope. I want readers to close the book and know that God’s grace can meet them where they are, and that our God never leaves us in the trenches. I pray readers are encouraged to face challenges in their own lives or those they may witness in the lives of those they love, and find courage knowing that grace waits on the other side of the decision.

 Leah’s stronghold was alcohol, but the truth is we’re all addicted to something, If not alcohol, it’s other drugs, food gambling, shopping, pornography, sex, control, gossip, power…And those strongholds block our view of God and His promises of hope.

 The ending of the book left me with quite a few “What happens next?” questions.  So I have to ask—are there more stories about Leah and Carl in the works? 

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  Absolutely! I planned a prequel and a sequel. I’m just hoping that the sequel has an opportunity to become a book! Leah, Carl, Molly, Devin, Leah’s father and brother, and a few surprises are planned for the sequel.

 What else should readers know about you and your work?  Take as much space as you need!!

 I am so humbled by all that’s happened to me since Rachelle Gardner, my agent, sold the novel to Barbara Scott at Abingdon Press. Excited? Yes!  But, honestly, all I could think then and even now is, “Who am I that my dreams should come true?”   God’s generosity stuns me! In the two months since Walking on Broken Glass released, I’ve been so grateful that Leah’s struggle resonates in readers.  And that’s my passion for writing, to expose all the “elephants in the room” we don’t talk about, but surely are stepping on our toes and squeezing the life out of many of us.


Being Christian doesn’t exempt us from problems; in fact, it sometimes exacerbates them.  But often, because we’re Christian, we sometimes fear acknowledging that we’re struggling with issues.  So many of us suffer in silence, and to what end? “We’re only as sick as our secrets,” is an adage I picked up somewhere along the way that drives me to push the truth to the surface.  We can’t drive out the demons if we continue to feed them with despair.


Throughout the time I wrote this novel, well-meaning people advised me that the Christian market may not be ready for a novel rooted in alcoholism and recovery, and that being a never-before-published writer would certainly be the death knell. A few times, I actually tried writing something else. It didn’t work. I couldn’t abandon Leah.  Or she refused to go away!  I just felt so strongly that there were readers waiting for her story. 


I often tell my students that we never know just by looking at people what’s going on in their lives.  So many people look so bright-faced happy and pretty on the outside that we’re duped into believing they lead charmed lives.  Like those families in the picture frames sold in stores (who ARE those people, by the way?!). But turn those pictures over, and what’s there…nothing.   That’s not the life God planned for us. He wants our lives to be framed by His love. We called to compassion, and to consider that all those “pretty people” might just be waiting for someone to take them out of their frames.


And, finally, I hope my being published encourages everyone who reads this to hold fast to their dreams. Don’t let someone steal those dreams from you. Be prayerfully persistent, and believe that every “no” brings you a step closer to a “yes.”  No doubt there are those who are better writers than I; the difference is I didn’t give up. But I also didn’t do it alone. So, if your dream is writing or painting or singing or baking or doctoring or whatever-ing, surround yourself with a support team. Find people who are where you want to be, and be teachable. Know that someone, somewhere is waiting for your dream to happen because you’re going to make a difference in their lives.


Thank you, Christa, for taking the time to answer these questions. 

 Blessings to you Lynn for this opportunity to share Leah and myself with your readers.

You can read more about Christa Allan at her website, www.christaallan.com.

A Promise to Believe In

A Promise to Believe In, by Tracie Peterson

                Gwen Gallatin is cursed.  She knows it, even though those around her refuse to believe it.  But what other explanation can there be for the death that seems to follow her everywhere?  First, it was her mother.  Then her husband.  And now her father.  Gwen fears for her two younger sisters.  Her love for them is sure to get them killed as well. 

                Hank Bishop arrives in the Montana Territory’s Gallatin County shortly after Gwen and her sisters have buried their father.  If what he says is true, Gwen’s entire married life—all ten days of it—was a lie.  And if her husband, a man who claimed to love her unconditionally, could like to her, how can she ever trust her judgment of anyone else?

                A Promise to Believe In is a heartwarming story of love in the old west.  Tracie Peterson shows a tremendous knowledge of west and of social traditions of the late 19th Century.  Her descriptions make the reader feel as if a part of the story.  While reading this book, I could often feel the wind on my face and hear the beating of horses hooves.

                This is not just a tale of finding love on earth.  Throughout the story, Peterson shows the struggles people have had through the ages of understanding God’s love.  Believing she is cursed, Gwen finds it hard to think that God is really as loving as she has been taught.  Hank, in his own ways, has suffered a difficult life.  He has very little use for a God who could let such horrible things happen.  I had never really stopped to think before that the problems I face in my walk with God are problems that Christians in all time periods have faced.  This book made it much easier to relate to Christians who lived before me.

A Promise to Believe InBrides of Gallatin CountyTracie Perterson

Feet Washing

    Yesterday morning, we had a special speaker at my church. Mark Gorveatte, the newly-elected president of Bethany Bible College, stopped in to share with us. His message was on John 13:1-17, the story of Jesus washing the feet of his 12 disciples shortly before the Crucifixion. He explained that washing of the feet was a dirty job (which makes sense, as the people walked everywhere and they didn’t have the benefit of indoor plumbing or Dial soap), and that it was normally a job performed by the lowest servant or slave in the household. In this case, though, Jesus took off his robe, wrapped a towel around his waist, picked up a basin and a cloth, and proceeded to kneel in front of each of his disciples to wash their feet. He did it to show these men that they should not seek to be served, but rather should seek to serve those around them. Pastor Gorveatte said at one point, “You are never more like Jesus than when you serve others in love.”

Hearing that led me to the thought, “Who can I show God’s love to this week?” I thought about the young couple sitting in front of me—their 1-year-old daughter has been undergoing test after test for two weeks and the doctors still do not know what is causing her internal bleeding. I thought about our church pianist—she was nearing the end of a battle with pancreatic cancer, being cared for at home by her son, daughter-in-law, and grandchildren. I thought about the two young men sitting behind me—nephews who, through choices made by their parents and by me, have only recently come into my life. All of these were people I could send a card to and say a prayer for. Of course, I also thought about my children and the nephew I babysit 5 days a week. I could easily show God’s love to them through time spent playing with them and reading them stories.

As I pondered this, Pastor Gorveatte said something else. He had begun to talk about John 13:11: “For Jesus knew who would betray him.” Knowing that, the pastor pointed out, did not stop Jesus from washing the feet of Judas. He then talked about his own life, how washing the feet of anyone seemed like a pretty nasty thing for him to. “But for my child, I could do it. For my wife, I could do it. But for you? Probably not. And for someone who has harmed me in the past?” He shook his head. But Jesus didn’t make a distinction. He knew that he was doing a dirty job, and that Judas did not deserve the time or effort. Yet he still knelt before him, and tenderly, lovingly washed his feet. Pastor Gorveatte said that we all have people in our lives who don’t deserve our compassion, who have hurt us so much that they don’t deserve to have their feet washed by us. “But we need to do it anyway!”

Ever since then, I have been thinking about people in my life who have hurt me. Two in particular came to mind. These two men didn’t have the same kind of upbringing that I did. They didn’t have the same opportunities to know God and have a real relationship with Jesus that I had. They made some bad choices, and are now facing the consequences for those choices. Both have hurt me deeply. But does that mean that I should not show God’s love to them?

I’ve challenged myself this week to do something to show that love to them. Of course, I have prayed for them. To me, though, that wasn’t enough. That was more like doing something for myself, to remind myself that God loves them. But if I want them to know that love, I have to do something they can see. That is not an easy task when they are both behind bars! Still, I made special cards for them this morning and sent them out in the mail. I don’t know what will happen with that. The cards might be ignored. The men might think that I am an idiot, and just toss the letters into the trash. Or they might actually think about what I wrote. I hope they do. If they write back to me, great. If they don’t, I am not going to let that keep me from sharing God’s love with them every chance I get.

Does that mean that I trust them? Not hardly. The idea of seeing them when they are out of jail makes me nervous. I don’t want them to hurt me, my husband, or my children again. But I am willing to try. They are family, and that does mean something. I’m not going to just turn my back and cut them completely out of my life. Instead, I am going to lean on God and trust His protection and guidance.

The Sierra Chronicles, Part One

Love’s Rescue by Tammy Barley

                I’ve always been a bit of a history buff.  My favorite subjects in school were English and History.  Oddly, though, the two have never really come together.  I love history and love reading; I can even tolerate reading about history.  But reading a fictional account of a historic period of time?  No thanks.

                Not that I have never read any historical books.  L.M. Montgomery is one of my favorite authors ever, and I did rather enjoy reading Dickens.  Still, I never really thought of them as historical novels.  They were contemporary fiction at the time they were published.  But stories written within the past few years and set about 100 years before have never really held much interest to me.

                Until recently, that is.

                Maybe I was just reading the wrong authors.  Or maybe I chose books about a time period that I didn’t care much about.  I don’t know.  I do know that of the last six books I have read, four of them were set 100 years or more in the past.  Almost makes me wish I had discovered these authors long ago.

                Tammy Barley is one of those authors.  In Love’s Rescue, the first book in her Sierra Chronicles series, Barley tells the story of Jessica Hale, a Kentucky girl living in the Nevada Territory during the U.S. Civil War.  Her Southern accent, independent spirit, and loyalty to a brother serving in the Kentucky militia all give Union loyalists in the area reason to hate her.  When her family home is burned to the ground—with her parents and young sister inside—Jess begins to question the loving God she had always relied on.  Resentment toward Jake Bennett, a rancher who saved her life but may have contributed the deaths of her family, begins to build up inside of her.  Though physically safe, Jess needs to learn how to forgive and how to love in order to really be able to live again.

                This book is a very well-written western romance.  Through Barley’s descriptions of the Nevada Territory in general—and the Bennett Mountain Ranch in particular—I felt like I was right, in the clean mountain air.  I could hear the beat of the horses’ hooves and smell the trees and the creek.  The ending of the book was perfect—it cleared up a lot of loose ends, but left enough unresolved to make a reader anxious for the next book in the series.  I, for one, will be on the lookout for the next installment of The Sierra Chronicles.

Love's RescueSierra ChroniclesTammy BarleyWhitaker House.

An Awesome Find

     While on vacation at the end of January, I found myself in awe of the selection of Christian novels available at Barnes and Noble.  Believe it or not, this was the first time I had been in one of their stores, looking for Christian books.  (It was only the second time I’d ever been in a B&N!)  I wasn’t looking for any book in particular.  My hope was to find a new author, someone whose work I was not yet familiar with.  I think my husband was shocked that I over-looked all of the Karen Kingsbury books on display.  He knows she is my favorite author and sort of assumed, given the opportunity to purchase a few new books, I would choose something by her.  But I already knew that I would enjoy anything by Karen.  I wanted something new, something that I had never seen before, something that would stir my soul and make me think.

     After all, if the only Christian author worth reading is Karen Kingsbury, there would not have been so many other authors on display at Barnes and Noble!

     My eyes settled on Faking Grace, a book by Tamara Leigh.  I think it was the bright green of the cover.  It seemed a very entertaining contrast to the more subdued tones of blue, grey, and brown that seemed to grace the cover of most books in that section.  The copy on the back intrigued me.  Somehow, I found that I could relate to a woman running from a bad career choice and trying to figure out who she really is.

     Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put the book down!  In her quest to pay her bills and prove that she really was cut out for the kind of job she has always dreamed of, Maizy Grace Stewart finds herself in a maze of lies.  Her quick wit and sense of humor help her to navigate the maze, as well as learn more about herself and about the God she has pushed aside for much of her adult life.

     My favorite part of the book is the relationship between Maizy and her grandmother, Grace.  Grandma Grace is the only person who Maizy is able to truly be herself with; she is the only one who knows everything that Maizy is doing and how the young woman is struggling with her faith.  Still, it is Maizy who teaches the older woman a little something about God.  Forgiveness, she reminds her grandmother, is not something that is earned or deserved.  Christ gave it willingly and accepts anyone who claims to be a Christian to do the same.  A rift in the family is tearing Grandma Grace apart, though she doesn’t see any way to fix it.  When Maizy tells her, “You’re the Christian, Grandma.  I know that won’t make is led difficult, and there’s no guarantee she’ll accept your apology, but at least you will have done what you are supposed to do,” tears filled my eyes.  A very profound thought, one that was unexpected in this often comical story.

     Tamara Leigh has created, quirky, loveable characters.  I can see myself befriending Maizy or even Jem, an uncertain young woman badly in need of a true friend.  By the end of the book, I felt that I had made some new friends.  I was very sad to have to say good-bye to them.

     The romance between Maizy and Jack develops slowly, the way any good love should.  But it wasn’t as central to the story as I at first thought.  Sure, I was rooting for a happy ending for this pair.  More than that, though, I was rooting for Maizy to find forgiveness—from herself and from others.  The message of love, grace, and forgiveness in this book is one that I will not soon forget.

Nine Things Nathan Noticed at Night

A different side of life shows itself in the night. One evening, little Nathan notices this new world. He can see how God moves in the night, while we are sleeping.

Written by Christy Baldwin, Nine Things Nathan Noticed at Night is a beautiful story of one boy’s path to discovery. Each page tells not only what Nathan noticed, but gives Biblical perspective on what happens in the night. The bright, lively illustrations by Sarah Barnes help make this a must-read book.

My sons, ages 2, 6, and 9, crowded around me as I read the book. The youngest loved the bright colors. The older two enjoyed reading the Scripture passages together. They were amazed at how God can really be seen in everything around them. Reading this together was a wonderful experience. It was amazing to see God work in my children, to actually see them come to a deeper understanding of Him through the words and pictures in this book.

Nine Things Nathan Noticed at Night, as well as other books by Christy Baldwin, can be purchased from Tribute Books.