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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ann H. Gabhart and Scent of Lilacs


ANN H. GABHART has published over twenty novels for adults and children including her bestselling Shaker novels. A native Kentuckian, Ann lives on a farm in Central Kentucky. She’s blessed with three children and nine grandchildren. Scent of Lilacs, the first book in the Heart of Hollyhill series, was a Booklist Top Ten Book in Christian Fiction. The Outsider was a finalist for ECPA Christian Fiction Book of 2009. Visit Ann’s website, or share her writing adventures down on the farm on “One Writer’s Journal." And now Jocie Brooke, the lovable character from Ann’s Hollyhill books has her own blog,

by Ann Gabhart
Published by Revell


Life-changing events rarely happen in quiet Hollyhill, Kentucky, and when they do, they are few and far between. But for young Jocie Brooke and her family, they happen all at once during the humid summer of 1964. Though on the surface things are just fine, it seems like everyone in Jocie’s life has something they’re not saying, something they’re hiding from her—and from themselves. As Jocie digs into her family’s past, she stirs up a whirlwind of discoveries. Will she find the answers everyone so desperately needs? Or will her questions lead to truths better left hidden?

Combining unforgettable characters, true-to-life struggles, and the perfect dose of humor and nostalgia, this riveting story from bestselling author Ann Gabhart explore the very essence of new life and love.

Readers, buy your copy of Scent of Lilacs today!


Dark Valley Roads and Bright Mountain Trails
by Ann H. Gabhart

At the tender age of ten, I picked up a pen and started writing a mystery with a character based on me. Naturally. Wait, I’d better clarify that. She was based on what I wanted to be like and not how I really was–a very shy, farm girl. But my heroine was with it. Jo could solve mysteries like the Hardy Boys. As well as I remember, she wasn’t a bit shy, and she was really cute too.

So it all began. In the years since, I’ve had my mountaintop moments as a writer and my times of walking through discouragement valley. As a young writer, I was like someone walking along a beach picking up shells with the hope that each new wave of creativity would wash up the perfect story that might get published. I wrote one piece after another. A few did actually get printed in magazines and Sunday school papers. Then I wrote a novel and my writing goals shifted. No more short pieces for me. I wanted to write books.

My first book didn’t find a publisher. My second book didn’t find a publisher. My third book did. Talk about a mountaintop moment! My printed words inside a compelling cover were going to appear on store shelves everywhere. That was way back in 1978. I wrote another novel and Warner Books published it too. Two published books had to mean I’d found writing success. I was on my way!

Then I tumbled off that mountaintop down into discouragement valley. I wrote two more historical novels that were “not quite right,” according to the letters I got from editors, but they never said what was not quite right about my stories. I wrote more books. Got more rejections. My agent said my books were “too clean,” so I decided to reinvent myself and look for a new audience for my “too clean” stories.

That decision took me up some more mountain trails while eleven of my coming-of-age stories for young readers were published. I liked writing for young people, but alas, I took another tumble off the writing success mountain. My new stories began collecting rejects again. This time the trudge through discouragement valley went on for years. I began to wonder if I should just give up writing. Maybe I should concentrate my effort on work that promised a sure return instead of the hope of someday pay.

But I couldn’t quit. Writing is part of who I am. So I set out to once more re-invent myself as a writer. Since it was more than obvious I wasn’t cornering any markets, I decided to write the book I wanted to write instead of one I thought an editor might like. I came up with a story about a young girl and her father, a small town newspaper editor during the week and a preacher of a country church on Sundays. The characters and story are completely fictitious, but the background and setting came straight from what I remembered about my little hometown in the Sixties.

Jocie turned out to be a great character who sprang right to life in my imagination, and it was pure writer’s luck that Wes fell out of a Jupiter spaceship as he was passing over Hollyhill. Of course, that’s just a story Wes makes up for Jocie, but his and Jocie’s Jupiter talk adds a few smiles to the story. I stirred in some more eccentric small town characters including a crazy old aunt named Love who tries to keep Jocie in line by quoting Scripture at her. But all is not as it seems in my little town of Hollyhill or even with Jocie’s Aunt Love. While Jocie is bemoaning the fact that nothing ever happens in Hollyhill, a whirlwind of discoveries suddenly threatens everything she thought was true about her life. And of course, Jocie loves the scent of lilacs.

The characters in Scent of Lilacs found a home in my heart, and I was anxious and eager to tell their stories. The book snagged a loving editor on its first trip out and once more, I was up on one of those writing peaks. A low point came when Scent of Lilacs went out of print after a couple of years, but now the story is back as the first book in the Heart of Hollyhill series. Orchard of Hope and Summer of Joy will also be back out in the coming year and my Hollyhill characters will have the chance to find new readers.

Early on in my writing career I read something about treating rejections and acceptances the same – as the imposters they might be. Either one can knock a writer off course, because to be successful a writer has to keep plugging whether on the dark valley road or the sparkling mountain peak road. Up or down, a writer has to keep writing. That’s what writers do. That’s what I did.

To celebrate Scent of Lilacs back in print, I’m having a Celebration Giveaway on my website, First prize is a beautiful lilac leather-bound Grandmother’s Bible. Several other prizes too. Details on my website News & Events Page. Deadline for entries is April 1, 2013.

Reader Question: Have you ever experienced a time of discouragement that made you feel like giving up on a dream? If so, were you able to overcome it or did the Lord use the discouragement to push you toward a new goal or dream?

* * * * *

Thank you, Ann, for sharing with us today.

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a free eBook copy of the book featured above. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

This week, the drawing is open to US/Canada residents only.


Misty Dawn said...

This is interesting because something I was telling my husband just last night is actually the answer to this question. When I was halfway through college I made a sudden choice to change my major. I was typically an above average student, but ended up flunking out of my new major and went back to my old one so I wouldn't add a bunch of years onto my graduation date. For many years this ate away at my self image in regards to my intelligence. I'd always done so well, why was that major so hard? Finally it occurred to me that God directed my path. Looking back I can't imagine myself in that other career and I ended up enjoying what I'm doing and making better money than I would have had I been successful in that other major. Amazing how it can take some of us so long to be able to realize God's handiwork so many years earlier in our lives. -

Elizabeth Dent said...

I guess you could say that Yes I was discourage with life all together . Several years back I was told I had cancer. I thought I was going to die. Was so discourage & out about everything . Had not had any grand children at the time & did not think That I was going to live long enough to see any. To make things shorter I turn my life back around & gave it all to the Lord . Everything changed for the good. The Lord is so good.Thanks for the give away. I would love to win your book.

Robin in NC said...

We had only been married for 3 years when my husband had a massive, disabling stroke. My new husband had become a virtual stranger having to relearn how to talk & walk, then living with an unusable arm, a limp & loss of any self confidence. Fast forward 18 years & we thank God for giving us this test to bring us closer than we ever knew possible! We enjoy life & many of our newly wedded dreams have come true after all! Best of all, our faith has grown much stronger through these many years of laughter & tears!Thank you Amber & Ann! Robin in NC
RW620 AT aol DOT com

Ann H Gabhart said...

Love your stories, ladies. Thanks for sharing them.

Misty, do you remember that country music song several years ago about sometimes God's greatest blessings are unanswered prayers. Guess that might apply to your change of majors or attempted change. The Lord was taking care of you.

Elizabeth, it's so wonderful that you found the Lord while walking through that discouragement valley. It doesn't work that way for everyone, but it can if we just trust and keep walking. And I hope you are now surrounded with loving grandchildren.

Robin, blessings can come through the worst of times if we trust the Lord and keep trucking in our lives. It sounds as if you both were faithful to Him and to each other. Glad you found a stronger love and overcame the hard times you had to face. Laughter and tears - that's life. Glad they added up to joy for you and your husband.

carol said...

My email address is

I goofed and left it out of description of my paternal grandmother.

loretta said...

In one of the biggest events of my life, an accident happened in my family, the particulars I cannot share, that made me change courses and life has not been exactly what I would have chosen, but rather one that evidently God had planned for me. And I wanted His will, so I am content.

Suess said...

I have finally discovered in my life, that God is in control. I have had many disappointments and heartaches, but I just have to give them over to Him...again and again. He is, indeed, my refuge and strength. Sandi

Ann H Gabhart said...

Loretta, I suppose everybody has to face discouragement at one tme another. That's the way life is, but it's good when we can see that the path goes through and the Lord is in control.

Suess, I can tell you've found peace in knowing that. One of my favorite verses right now as I help Mom in her dementia valley is about how God's strength is sufficient. But I have to keep reminding myself of that.

Ann H Gabhart said...

Guys, I know it says an e-book, but if any of you would rather have a print book, let me know. I'm willing mail a print copy if that's what you prefer. I know some of my readers are still "book in the hand with no batteries needed" people.

Belinda said...

For me, it was right after my husband deployed to Iraq. I was lost, all of a sudden, I was home alone with the kids and all the parental responsibilities. I had been training for a marathon with Team in Training and it was almost race day. I couldn't do it, I was torn up. I went to the final meeting before we were to travel for the marathon to quit. I walked in the room, and they had a card and flowers for me, they had yellow ribbons for everyone on the team to wear in honor of my husband. How could I quit?

I was discouraged and afraid, but with the help of a great team, faith in The Lord I made it to the finish line. That marathon became a symbol to me during the year my husband was gone. When things would get hard, I would reflect on that first marathon and the sense of accomplishment.

I did something I didn't think I could do. I did something many people don't do. I did something I hard to work hard for the good out come.

Ann H Gabhart said...

Great story, Belinda, and shows what a difference the support of others can make. Sometimes we feel overwhelmed, and you certainly had reason to feel that way. So glad the Lord sent you blessings to get through the hard time.

Unknown said...

Which of us has not had those deserts of discouragement? I've had many, but when I almost died from Necrotizing Fasciitis,(flesh eating bacteria), it took 12 years of long hospitalizations, surgeries, rehabs, loss of physical mobility and the grace of God to see me through. God had given me the gift of music that I had used to serve Him, so when I couldn't walk on my own, and sat before the pc - I sensed God telling me to write for His glory. From that time on, my life has changed dramatically. It's taken me several years to learn ways to glorify God through writing, but I've got a start. I'm walking again by the grace of God and many surgeries - and am now singing again in the same choir that I directed 34 years ago. Thank you for asking. By the way, lilacs are my favorite flower. Thank you for this nice giveaway and the chance to win a great read.

In Christian Joy,
Barb Shelton
barbjan10 at tx dot rr dot com