How Sweet the Light Might Taste: interview with Joanne Bischof

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A few months ago this sweet lady named Joanne Bischof commented on a blog post of mine. Then we connected through Twitter and Facebook. Turns out, she is the author of the Cadence of Grace series, a beautiful trio of historical romances set in the Appalachian mountains at the turn of the twentieth century. Would you like to meet her? She’s answering questions about writing and grace today!

Rachelle: Hi, Joanne! A sincere welcome to Kindred Grace. We’re delighted to have you here to tell us a bit about yourself and your books! But first, let’s get personal. Tell us a bit about yourself.

Joanne: Thank you so much for having me! Growing up, I always had my nose in a book and my head in the clouds. As a girl, I was one part Jo March, one part Beatrix Potter, and one part Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was always writing, drawing, and living with my imagination in the past. Being a writer was always my normal for as long as I can remember. The earliest story I have saved is from the third grade and I don’t know if I would be here if it weren’t for the encouragement of my parents from the get-go when it came to my love of writing. I always hope to encourage my kids the way they encouraged me!

Aww, so that is why you dedicated your first book to your parents? Speaking of which, tell us a bit about your first book, Be Still My Soul. Can you share how the idea for Lonnie and Gideon’s story came about?

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 hadn’t given God much thought. By throwing them together in a shotgun wedding, I wondered how their story would unfold. Could true love rise from the ashes of broken hopes? This was the question I asked myself as Lonnie and Gideon’s journey began. I am amazed by what God can create out of nothing, and I wanted this love story to be a testament to His goodness and faithfulness.

What a story it is, too. And it continues! Your second book in The Cadence of Grace series will release soon. Can you give us a preview of what might be in store for Lonnie and Gideon? 

For those who’ve read Be Still My Soul, there is a little hint of what’s to come right in chapter one. As soon as people step into the first pages of Though My Heart is Torn, they quickly realize that something is about to happen…that Gideon, a redeemed womanizer who is so sincerely in love with his bride, Lonnie, actually has two wives—but he doesn’t know it. However, he’s very soon to find out for she’s quite ready to emerge from the shadows of his past.

I really want readers to take away from this story that, though it may tug your heart and although a tear may fall for this couple who only wanted each other, the happily-ever-after can still be all the more richer—purer, sweeter—if we find ourselves looking out from the darkness and wondering how sweet the light might taste and if one day we might see it again. Though all hope may seem lost and though weeping may endure for a night, joy comes in the morning.

That right tThough My Heart is Torn_CVR.inddhere is one of the reasons I love your writing, Joanne. Beautiful. And your books have one of the loveliest series titles: The Cadence of Grace. What does grace mean to you?

Thank you! I really wanted the series title to honor God’s goodness towards us.

In combining grace:  An unearned and unmerited favor; the absolutely free expression of the loving kindness of God to men finding its only motive in the bounty and benevolence of the Giver.

And cadence:  the modulated and rhythmic recurrence of something.

The idea behind this series is that God has a perfect plan…but it’s not always through calm waters. Nothing along the journey is for naught. Perhaps it wasn’t time for their happily-ever-after to come. Not just yet. I think the hero of the story, Gideon, still has some lessons to learn. He still has some growing up to do. I think that trials come into our lives, so that we might come out on the other end a little bit stronger and a little bit wiser. Not because God is unkind, but because He is gracious to give us that time of growth—when we need it the most.

Oh, wow, that hits straight between the eyes. Before I get lost in that thought, one last question about your books. When I had the privilege of reading Be Still My SoulI loved how Gideon is such an unconventional hero. He really grows from being almost a villainous character in the beginning of the book to someone who learns what it means to be redeemed from God’s grace…how did you come up with this non-traditional element?

Yes! He really was quite a villain in the beginning of Be Still My Soul, and truly, has been one of my absolute favorite characters to write. There were so many times I wanted to pull him back. Write his character a little smoother, a little softer—but nothing else would have been Gideon. I’ve experienced what God can do with a man like Gideon—what He can build out of nothing. Gideon had a huge uphill climb, but as the seed of the desire to change was planted and he began to yearn to lay aside his own selfishness, so that Lonnie might be loved the way she deserved, those first changes occurred. Taking a man who begins the series as the villain and progresses towards learning what it is to be a hero, was something I really wanted to do with this story.

You succeeded! So… what does a day in your life look like?

A day in my life includes my three wonderful kids. My husband and I chose to homeschool so they are with me all day, and I absolutely love it. I love that I can’t get any writing work done because I’ve got a baby on my hip and a six-year-old helping me get the eggs out of the coop or planting seeds in the garden and a three-year-old helping me make banana bread and singing our favorite songs together. Each moment is so precious. I write when they sleep, whether it’s nap-time or late at night and I am so thankful for these years I have with them! And we all have much to celebrate when their daddy gets home each night. Those are when some of our favorite memories are made.

Precious, indeed. So what is one thing you have learned from walking this publishing road during nap-times and after bedtime? What did you enjoy most about this journey to authorhood? 

What I learned while walking the publishing road is that joy isn’t found at the end of the road, it’s found along the journey. There are so many days when it was easy to think that maybe tomorrow would hold something wonderful, when in reality, we often have our hands full with that “wonderful” without realizing it. It might not be our dreams come true, but perhaps it’s an experience that God wanted us to walk through before we got to that moment.

One of the things I’ve enjoyed most about this journey to authorhood has been meeting so many amazing people. I didn’t know there were so many kindred spirits out there—women who love to write and love the Lord and together, we get to make a difference doing what we love.

That is something I’m coming to realize, also. There are more kindred spirits willing to say “me, too” than I ever imagined. Of those kindred spirits, who inspires you?

Oh wow, so many people inspire me. My mom inspires me as she walks the road of rheumatoid arthritis every day with a smile on her face and a song of praise on her lips. And young women like you inspire me! I love seeing that there is a new generation of Godly women rising up. It is such a blessing!

Thank you!! Lastly, what books speak to your heart? What are your favorite books (of any kind!) to recommend?

One of my favorite Christian novels of all time is Thorn in My Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs. It is a book that has always stuck with me. The heroine, Leana, is quiet and meek, but filled with a wisdom and a graciousness as she walks the pebbled road through her story. I absolutely loved it. I love finding books that not only tell a wonderful story, but turn the spotlight towards the One who loved us first, so that we might know that depth of love.

That is exactly why I love fiction so much. Yours included! Thank you so much for letting us peek into your life, Joanne!

Thank you for having me!

The Giveaway

Joanne would like to invite ya’ll to enter a giveaway for her book! Which book, you ask? That is up to you! Whether you’ve already read Be Still My Soul and would like to receive the second in the series OR you’re a newbie to the Cadence of Grace series, use the Rafflecopter form below to enter this giveaway for a chance to win your choice of either Be Still My Soul or Though My Heart is TornAlso, Joanne is hosting this giveaway of two prize bundles inspired by Lonnie and Gideon — be sure to check that out, too!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


    1. Great question, Rhonda. I have not been to this area of the Blue Ridge Mountains, but how I WISH I have!! I live in the mountains, but not in VA. I love mountain life and the people and it just home to me. I researched the area by reading or watching anything I could get my hands on about it and when I have a question that I just can’t find an answer to, I have contacts with the Patrick County Historical society and they are always so gracious to answer my questions or copy pictures for me, etc. Thanks! πŸ™‚

  1. Great interview, the book sounds intriguing. I would love to win a copy

    Glenda Parker

  2. Cindi Altman says:

    Loved the interview.
    My questions is, (actually, I have two πŸ˜‰ ) at what age (estimate is fine) did you realize God is the most important part of your life? What made you realize this?


    1. Ooh, Cindi, what a GREAT question!! I wish that I could say it was when I was young, and although I’ve had a relationship with Jesus for as long as I could remember, it wasn’t until two years ago, that I realized HE was the MOST important thing in my life. It took losing something very dear to me to learn that, but the fruit of that experience has been the greatest blessing in my life!

  3. I loved the interview Rachelle and Joanne! Especially this . . . “As a girl, I was one part Jo March, one part Beatrix Potter, and one part Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was always writing, drawing, and living with my imagination in the past.” Goodness, this was so myself as a young girl! Your books sound really lovely, Joanne, and even lovelier so, as I just so happen to live in the Appalachian Mountain Foothills; and love reading stories that are set in our beautiful area!

    1. Sarah,

      Just love that we have that in common! Thank you so much for your sweet words about the books and it’s always so wonderful to get to meet someone who calls that area home. I bet you have the most beautiful views from your front porch! πŸ™‚

  4. These books look so lovely! I had never heard about them until this post and I look forward to reading them someday. Thank you for hosting this giveaway. πŸ™‚

  5. Joanne, I’ve been drawn to books with an Appalachian setting ever since reading Christy by Catherine Marshall as a teenager, so I was delighted when Be Still My Soul came out. Even in this world of ebooks, cover art is still effective at initially catching our attention, and the art on your books is very appealing.

    I’m also a Liz Curtis Higgs fan. Have you ever heard her testimony of how she became a Christian? She could write a book on that topic alone!

    1. Carol,

      It’s so great to get to chat with you! It is so encouraging to know that Be Still My Soul fit right into your love of Appalachian fiction. It’s a special place and just feels like home each time I start a story. πŸ™‚ And thank you SO much for your sweet words re: the cover art. I am just blessed beyond words by these covers. They fit the stories so well and I just smile when I see them. πŸ™‚ Love Liz’s books and even more, her testimony of how she was a bad girl pursued by Christ! I had the pleasure of hearing her speak a few years back and got to sit with her over breakfast one morning. It was a treat!! She is such an amazing encourager. Warmest wishes!

  6. I would love to win,Enter me!!!
    Thanks for the giveaway and God Bless!!!
    Sarah Richmond

  7. Marissa E. says:

    Hi Joanne! I loved Be Still My Soul! So gorgeous! Do you have another series planned after the Cadence of Grace Series is finished?

    1. Hi Marissa!

      Great question! I have more stories in the works right now and I’m going to be working with my publisher to see what might be the best fit for future publication. I absolutely love my publishing company, WaterBrook Multnomah and hope to keep writing for them. Appalachian Romance is my genre of choice, and although I don’t know if it will be published, I’ve got a story idea in the works now that includes a school teacher and a coal miner…sort of an unlikely romance. It’s been such a fun story to work on. πŸ™‚

  8. I love the covers of both books – so simple, elegant, and heart-grabbing!
    I am the oldest of 6, and am from a homeschooling family. I and the next 2 kids have now been homeschooled until college. I loved it! πŸ™‚ Are you planning on homeschooling until college or high school (like other families I know), or have you not thought about that yet?

    1. Amanda, just thrilled to hear you say that. I love that these covers resonate with you! It is always such a joy to meet another homeschooling mom πŸ™‚ Waving!! We’re going to home school them through high school and then–I believe–will work with them in coming up with a game plan for the few years after that, whether it’s preparing for marriage or a new job adventure, or getting additional schooling for whatever vocation they choose. Wow. Those years seem like a long way off, but I just know they are going to come so fast. Thanks so much for stopping in for the interview. Such a treat to get to chat. πŸ™‚

  9. Loved THOUGH MY HEART IS TORN, and I love your over-riding idea for this series, Joanne. Grace is so prevalent in your books, yet not in an over-bearing way, in a natural way. The theme of forgiveness is there, too…love your writing!

    1. That means so much, Heather. Thank you! I’m so happy to know that theme resonates in the story with you. Oh, just does my writer heart good!! Hugs!

  10. Debbie Mitchell says:

    Great interview! Hello Joanne. I can’t wait for your interview on my blog; the more who know about your books, the better! I didn’t enter to win your books, of course, because I own them and simply adore them! Your writing truly touches a reader’s heart and soul. Thank you so much for following God’s path for your life. I, too, homeschooled my 3 kids and I loved every bit of it. God bless.

    1. Debbie – It’s so neat to know that you homsechooled! What a fun adventure that must have been. I’m loving it. Just cherishing this time with my kids. πŸ™‚ I am so looking forward to your interview! I’ve been working on your questions and I hope to have them back to you soon!

  11. Enjoyed the interview. My family homeschools too. I’ve enjoyed being able to spend more time with my family and get closer to them. πŸ™‚

    I can’t wait to read this series. Thanks for the giveaway!

    1. Hi Sarah!

      It’s always so fun to meet another homeschooler! I’m so glad you’re looking forward to reading the series. I pray they will bless you in some way. πŸ™‚ Hugs!

  12. Not only was this a lovely interview, but this really spoke to my heart this morning. Thank you for reminding me of the joy that comes when a trial is over!

    Also, Thorn in My Heart & the two books that follow are my favorite Christian historical fiction books. I have read them several times since the first time a few years ago. I fell in love with those characters, especially Leanna.

    I am so eager to read Lonnie and Gideon’s story, and the setting in particular calls to me.

    Thank you for the chance to win!

    1. Beth-

      I am so glad that this interview spoke to your heart! Just wish I could give you a hug. Liz’s books really are wonderful, aren’t they? Such powerful, moving stories that stick with you long after you’re done. All of mine are getting rather threadbare. πŸ˜‰ So great to get to chat with you!

  13. Connie R. says:

    Don’t know how to “tag” but I will share on FB.

  14. Connie R. says:

    I haven’t read the series, but I love the storyline. Would love to win a copy of the first one!

    1. Connie – Be Still My Soul is a great place to start! So glad you are entered. πŸ™‚

  15. Miss Joanne I always love reading your words…I am always so encouraged. I feel like you’re the big sister I never had. πŸ™‚ That bit about joy in the journey and those God expeiences along the way brought tears to my eyes. Kindred spirits indeed…love those. May the Lord continue to bless you with many happy moments and memories with your family, and many more years of joyful writing.

    Love in Christ,

    1. Miss Rachel, I wish I could tell you what good your comment has dome my heart. You just make me smile!! You are like the little sis I never had. πŸ™‚ I so admire you and Rachelle and all these lovely young ladies–your ministry and your heart for the Lord! Thank you so much for being such a sweetheart and it’s always such a joy to get to chat with you.

  16. Haven’t read any of your books, Joanne – but eager to become a fan. Love stories of Appalachia & books by Liz Curtis Higgs, also (have all of them). Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of your books!

    1. You are so sweet, Bonnie, thank you! If you get the chance to read them, I so hope you enjoy them! I love that we have a fondness for Liz Curtis Higgs in common. Hers are some of my absolute favorite stories! πŸ™‚

  17. I’ve heard so much about these books and am just dying to read them! The covers are soooo beautiful…

    1. Emily Rachelle ~

      Your sweet words are such a blessing on my morning. I’m SO glad you stopped in for the interview! πŸ™‚

  18. Ohhh, I would love to read “Be Still My Soul”!
    Do you have any real life inspirations for your stories?

    1. Jaclynn– That just does my heart good to hear it! πŸ™‚ I have lots of real life inspiration for my series…and sometimes, that makes it hard to write things through, but also, I think that it really helps me feel what my characters feel. I always pray that will make a richer experience for you all. Thanks for your sweet comment!

  19. Thank you for the giveaway and yes I have a question πŸ™‚ Who designs your covers? They are beautiful! And what is your favorite non-fiction book?

    1. Hi Samantha! ooh, fun questions! πŸ™‚ The cover is designed my the in-house designer for WaterBrook/Multnomah, Kristopher Orr. And the photo shoot was done by Mike Heath…such talented guys! I am so thankful for the covers they’ve done.

      I’m thinking of my favorite non-fictions and it’s so hard to choose…I read a lot of mothering books–books that encourage me in raising my kids up with love and character-building guidance— so one of those would probably be my favorite πŸ™‚

  20. Looks great! Thanks for the giveaway!

  21. Sounds fascinating and exciting!! I’d love to read these books!! πŸ™‚

  22. Lisa Medeiros says:

    Wow I can’t wait to read this series! The story sounds amazing… Although it sounds like I may need to have a Kleenex box nearby! πŸ™‚

    1. Hi Lisa! I am so glad the series sounds like one you want to read!! Yes, a box of kleenex will be handy. πŸ˜‰ I hope you enjoy it!

  23. This was a wonderful interview..thanks for the giveaway.

    1. Thank you Cara! You make my heart smile πŸ™‚ Thank you for your sweet comment and I look forward to checking out that book. I hope you have a great day!

  24. This was a wonderful interview! The heart of the author was really able to come out in it. Thank you!
    On another note… The covers of those books HAVE to be some of the most beautiful covers I’ve ever seen! Quiet grace really shines out of them.

    1. Jessiqua ~

      Thank you so much for stopping in for the interview! Rachelle just asks such wonderful questions…I was so blessed! And thank you SO much for your sweet words on these covers. I am so thankful for the designer and know he would be blessed by your thoughts!! πŸ™‚

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