Enter below for a chance to win a copy of Erin Bartels’s newest book, The Words Between Us.
Winner will be announced in the next Author Spotlight feature. Congratulations to Debra Patton for winning a copy of Tari Faris’s You Belong with Me.
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Erin Bartels enchanted readers with her expertly crafted debut novel, We Hope for Better Things. Now Bartels pens another thoughtful and lyrical tale in The Words between Us, which offers two distinct and yet parallel narratives that explore all aspects of life: family, loss, young love, coming-of-age, betrayal, regret, and forgiveness. Bartels pairs these themes with a celebration of the written word and shows that words have more power than we could ever imagine.
Reclusive bookstore owner Robin Windsor has been hiding under an assumed name to avoid association with her family’s past—one filled with corruption, extortion, and even murder. She thought she’d finally found sanctuary in a struggling used bookstore, but her past is quickly catching up with her. When she receives an eerily familiar book in the mail, Robin is thrown back to the long-lost summer she met Peter Flynt, the perfect boy who betrayed her trust and ruined everything. The first book, The Catcher in the Rye, is soon followed by the other books she shared with Peter nearly twenty years ago, with one arriving in the mail each day. These books leave her with more questions than answers and infuse her with a sinking feeling that she’s about to be exposed all over again.
With evocative prose that recalls the classic novels we love, Erin Bartels fashions a story that shows that words—the ones we say, the ones we read, and the ones we write—can help us form our own identity and assist us in finding our way again.
Author Spotlight with Erin Bartels
What is a Bible verse that inspires you to keep on writing?
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1
“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’” Genesis 1:26
Our God is first described in Scripture as a creator, and we most clearly image him when we create. An excellent book on the subject is Dorothy Sayers’ The Mind of the Maker. Reading that book helped me value my writing in a way I hadn’t before.
Describe the moment that you knew you were born to write.
Much like I couldn’t tell you the “day I was saved” because I was brought up in the church and don’t remember a time when I didn’t believe, I was brought up in books and don’t remember a time when I didn’t know they would be an important part of my entire life. I think I’ve always been a writer.
Visual arts, like painting and photography, are my escape from writing because they make me feel more spontaneous than meticulous.
What’s your strategy for coping with bad reviews?
Remembering that my book is not for everyone—and that’s just fine. There are plenty of readers out there and plenty of books for everyone.
If for some reason you couldn’t write anymore, what would you do with your gift of communication?
I think I would have made a good lawyer.
Describe your best writing moment.
The first time I actually wrote The End on a novel-length piece was one of my best writing moments because it was proving that I could finish something after years of false starts.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
When you take a hit, breathe out slowly and silently count to ten before crying. Most of the time, you’ll find you don’t need to cry at all. And when you get knocked down, get back up again. I think my father told me these things to cope with getting hurt in sports, but it works with much of life. Breathe and count to ten before reacting. You can handle more than you think you can. Never let them see they get to you. When you practice that attitude, eventually very little gets to you anyway. You become imperturbable and unoffendable. We could use a little more of that in our outrage-saturated world.
Erin Bartels is the author of We Hope for Better Things and has been a publishing professional for seventeen years. A freelance writer and editor, she is a member of Capital City Writers and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association and is former features editor of WFWA’s Write On! magazine. She grew up in the Bay City, Michigan, area and has spent much of her life waiting on drawbridges. She lives in Lansing, Michigan, with her husband, Zachary, and their son.