22 June 2014

Interview with Jill Stengl, by Carrie Fancett Pagels


Author Jill Stengl
Jill Stengl is the author of Until That Distant Day. When I first seriously started writing historical Christian fiction, I read a couple of Jill's books and loved her writing and her author's voice. But she'd stepped back for a while from her writing. Was glad when she started back again. Welcome, Jill!
Jill, welcome to Overcoming With God.  We appreciate your willingness to share your testimony of overcoming with our readers.  
Thank you so much for hosting me! I have often been blessed by the testimonies shared here. The sense of Christian community, of coming alongside to encourage and edify in love is a rare gift.
Would you tell us about one of the most difficult things in your life you have had to overcome, with God’s help? (transparency appreciated!)
Being a military wife for fifteen years was challenging for me in many ways. My husband, Dean, flew thirty-four bombing missions into Iraq and Kuwait during the first Gulf War while I stayed home with our three young children and wondered if he would be able to return to us. He was deployed frequently throughout his years of military service, which forced me to be a single mother much of the time. And after he left the military to become a commercial pilot, he was still away from home more often than not, which put an extra burden of stress on the family during crucial times in our older children’s teen years. And stress tends to bring out the best and the worst in people.
In most respects I was/am a good wife and mother; but all too often I have failed miserably! Being an airheaded, people-pleasing, know-it-all busybody has its hazards, I can tell you that much. *grin* Yet in His gracious kindness, God uses my failures to humble and discipline me. It is definitely an on-going process. I can always find new ways to embarrass myself, which gives God plenty of opportunity to further His work. 
Holding myself up as an example of how not to do it would not be my first choice for ministry—but whatever God can use is good with me! We Christians so often present only our successes to the world and hide our failures, which builds pressure on other hurting people to do the same. Not one of us is righteous; all of us fall short and desperately need God’s grace. And we need to offer love and grace as generously as God has shown it to us. 
Believe me, my dear husband and children have demonstrated abundant mercy and grace to me over the years! 
Until that Distant Day
Disability friendliness: Is this latest release available in audio format or do you have any other works available on audio?  Do your e-books have audio capability? Do you have any in large print?  
Sadly, no! I would love to offer these formats in future, however. 
In this latest work, do you have any topics useful for bibliotherapy, or therapeutic influence through reading about a disorder or situation? 
One of the central characters in Until That Distant Day suffers from adult-onset epilepsy. Several of my near relatives and friends are afflicted with this condition, yet few novels seem to feature epileptics as major characters. At the time of the French Revolution, victims of epileptic seizures faced being institutionalized (and quite probably experimented on) if their condition were discovered. 
Interesting fact: Napoleon Bonaparte was epileptic, even suffering grand mal seizures, yet managed to keep his condition secret due to devoted servants and officers who recognized that he was neither insane nor demon-possessed.
Also, my heroine, Colette, is dyslexic, another misunderstood condition at that time.
Thank you, for agreeing to answer these questions!
You are most welcome! Thank you, my Christian sisters, for extending love and friendship to me.
Jill’s links:




Until That Distant Day:
Barnes & Noble:

British Brides Collection: 

Giveaway: I'll be giving away a paperback copy of Jill's British Brides collection, with this interview.  We'll also be giving away a copy of Until that Distant Day, later in the week!




42 comments:

  1. Jill, thank you so much for being with us this week on OWG and for sharing your marvelous testimony! I can't imagine how difficult that must have been for you. Shouldering all the responsibility at home and having the stress of a husband who was continually in harm's way had to have been unbelievably stressful. We honor our military AND their families who give up so much for our freedom.

    Love the cover on Until That Distant Day! Gorgeous!

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    1. Thank you, Diana! I am blessed to be able to give emotional support and encouragement to my daughter-in-law Kristen, married to our son Tom who flies combat-search-and-rescue helicopters for the Air Force and is often in harm's way. It is different to now be in the position of mother to a military member--not particularly harder or easier, just different! I honor Kristen for marrying Tom with full knowledge of his dangerous job. She counted the cost and found him worth it. What mother could not adore a daughter-in-law like that? :-)

      And thank you! I could not be happier with my book cover.

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  2. Your book sounds great especially mentioning epileptics and dyslexics........I had both
    Im proud of you for putting that into your book
    God bless you
    Chris Granville

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    1. Thank you, Chris! I enjoy writing books about people who are just like us, imperfect and struggling, often failing, and learning to value God's grace and love. :-) Setting them in historic times brings the past to life for me.

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  3. I would love to win. angelachesnut246@gmail.com

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    1. Hello Angela! Thanks so much for your interest!

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  4. It is nice to meet you Jill. Thanks for sharing. Your book sounds wonderful. ~ blessings to you ~ lisastifler@yahoo.com

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    1. Thank you, Lisa! Blessings to you too. :-)

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  5. I enjoyed your lovely interview, Jill! Thank you so much for sharing your personal experiences.

    texaggs2000 at gmail dot com

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed it, Britney, and thank you for letting me know. :-)

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  6. Thanks for being here on OWG, Jill. I, too, give my family plenty of opportunity to show mercy and grace :) Isn't wonderful that they love us enough to do that? But most of all, that the Lord loves us and shows us so by being patient while we learn to be more like Him.

    My OWG Gal Pals, I haven't read any of Jill's books but all I had to read was "9 Romances from the Home of Austen and Dickens" and I am in on this one! Austen is my all-time fav author so I would love to read this anthology of British Brides!

    Y'all have a great day! Love to each of you...

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    1. The British Brides collection is a lot of fun. I had opportunity to collaborate with some amazing authors when we put together the original collections, and I'm delighted to see our stories back in print--and with such a beautiful cover!

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  7. Wow, I don't guess I've even heard of epilepsy coming on new to adults and --to my knowledge-- know no one, and you know several. One of the grandsons I'm rearing, he's fifteen now, started having seizures at age eleven. It's been very difficult. The medicines they want to give him make him like a zombie. Anyway, very interesting that you've written such a character. I'm so blessed to have my husband around all the time throughout my life. That would be the hardest.Celebrated 46 years of marriage yesterday. God had to help you through! I doubt you're much of an airhead *grin* if you can sit down and write a novel! Thanks for your openness, though. :) And thank you, Carrie for having Jill to OWG. I look forward to reading UNTIL THAT DISTANT DAY! Blessings from Texas!

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    1. Epilepsy is a difficult condition to live with, and yet I am seeing my loved ones overcome and accomplish amazing things. I am praying right now for your grandson, that his doctors will find ways to treat his condition without impairing his cognitive abilities--a relative of mine suffered with this for years but did finally get a college degree, taught school, and is now retired and pursuing glass-blowing full-time. I have SO much respect for him. And yes, three of my four relatives and acquaintances with epilepsy did not have it until they were young adults. Blessings to you, Caryl, as you raise your grandsons! I deeply respect your courage and commitment to these young men, who are blessed to have you for a grandmother.

      And oh, you would be surprised at how air-headed an author can be! I sometimes live in my imaginary world and forget important things like preparing meals for my husband and . . . um . . . sleeping. LOL

      Blessings to you from Wisconsin!

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  8. Extending my welcome to you Jill to OWG also. I was humbled to read your testimony for a few reasons. I completely agree with you how we only portray the 'good side' of us, thereby setting up unrealistic platforms for some who don't realize the universal struggles and various problems we all have. It does us all well to remember none of us are perfect! I'm another that is very grateful to a loving and understanding husband. Coming from a dysfunctional childhood does leave its emotional scars, but I praise God for His work and healing! I'm also incredibly grateful to people like your husband and son for the dangerous work they've done/still doing. Can't imagine how difficult that must of been for you Jill, but glad to know you had the Lord with you! Oh and your book sounds like fascinating reading... Interesting idea to feature adult-onset epilepsy in a main character! Beautiful cover too! :-)

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    1. Thank you, Noela! Yes, God has been teaching me through various trials that being "real" is vital to my Christian witness. Having one rebellious child forced my husband and me to recognize many things about ourselves and definitely forced us to our knees in humility. And sharing our struggles honestly has opened doors of ministry to other parents and people who somehow think they need to "get it all together" before they can come to God--which is totally backwards. He is the one who heals and grows us into His image--anything I try to do to improve myself is fake and usually self-centered. Not that I have this "down," by any means. As soon as I start thinking I do, I'll say or do something . . . and need that grace all over again.

      By the way, thank you for the beautiful reviews you've written for my daughter's books. You didn't know it, but you have blessed us both with your appreciation for her stories. :-)

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    2. Jill, thank you blessing me by your sweet comment! I had no idea you even knew I reviewed some of Anne's amazing stories. Please say Hi to Anne for me, and I pray for you both all the blessings of God on yourselves and your work! x

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  9. So much good reading. Hoping I win.

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    1. Thanks so much for commenting, Bonnie! Good luck. :-)

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  10. Jill, this sounds like an extraordinary story that I now have on my tbr list. Thank you for sharing so transparently. Isn't it true that Christian sometimes put up such a "perfect" front when we can minister and relate to others so much more if we are real. I think we want to be a "good witness" that we sometimes think we should only show our "good" side. Sounds like quite a journey with your parenting alone most of the time, it must not have been easy especially with the burden of concern for your husband. I have several relatives with epilepsy and was told how horrible it was for those in centuries past who had the disease. You have also brought attention to dyslexia which is another misunderstood condition. Looking forward to reading! Blessings as you continue to write.

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    1. Carla, thank you for blessing me with your comment. :-)
      So often we look at each other and think "How does she manage under those conditions?" without realizing that God gives each of us the "strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow" to live for Him in any situation. Even during the French Revolution. I cannot imagine anything more terrifying than . . . well, the Reign of Terror! Yet even then, God was near.
      Blessings to you!

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  11. What a wonderful interview! Your new book sounds wonderful. I shall be adding it and The British Brides collection to goodreads right now! I love your daughter's books, so it is nice to "meet" her lovely mother!

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    1. Hello Emma!

      Any fan of my daughter's books is my friend. ;-) I'm an Imp myself, you know. (I don't believe there is an age limit . . . Ha!)

      I hope you enjoy my stories. Those in The British Brides collection were written more than ten years ago, which is rather hard to believe. (It doesn't seem that long!) Anne Elisabeth has taught me so much about writing since then that I was able to complete my first full-length novel. Yay!

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  12. Thank you for the wonderful interview and the opportunity to win this wonderful book.

    mauback55 at gmail dot com

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    1. Hello Melanie!
      Thank you for dropping by and commenting. :-)

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  13. Wonderful interview. Thanks for sharing, Jill. It is so good to hear how The Lord helps us in all our trials and struggles. Your new book sounds fascinating and the British Brides sounds like a book I would greatly enjoy.
    bettimace at gmail dot com

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    1. You are so welcome, Betti. I hope God can use my stories (both the real one and the fiction ones!) to bless others--He knows what each of us needs each day!

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  14. Thanks for sharing your testimony. God certainly does use all our trials and foibles for our good! Can't wait to read your British Brides - I do love me some British, well, anything! Spot of tea?
    ~ Robin E. Mason
    robinsnest212.wordpress.com

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    1. You're welcome, Robin!
      Yes, please, to the tea. With just a drop of cream, if you please. ;-)

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  15. Ballrooms, gardens, and castles! Would love to have this collection to read~ thank you for the opportunity to win. Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]net

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    1. This collection is filled with fun stories by some amazing authors! :-)

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    2. YaY!! Thank you so much. Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House
      Ballrooms, gardens, and castles coming my way, winning The British BridesCollection!!

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  16. So much honesty aired here today. Thank you. You gave me much to think about.

    I look forward to catching up with your stories.

    marypres(AT)gmail(DOT)com

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  17. Hello Jill. Just want to say first that you are a beautiful lady. And, I love the cover of your book. As of now, I don't have a book by you, but hope to remedy that. Sounds like you have had a rough road with your husband gone so much. And, I can't imagine how scared you must have been with him being deployed so often. My step-son served in Desert Storm war getting Hussein out of Iraq, and we were watching the news all of the time. Wasn't fun. Sometimes we just can't help getting out of sorts. But GOD will help us always. I would love to be the winner of your book. Thanks Carrie for hosting Jill. Jill, I just love these OWG ladies. They are wonderful friends and encouragers. GOD bless.
    Maxie > mac262(at)me(dot)com <

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    1. Thank you so much, Maxie! :-) Yes, being a military wife and mother has been scary sometimes, but the peace God gives during the most stressful times of life is amazing. I am slowly learning (emphasis on the "slowly") to be grateful for the trials that send me running back into His arms. They aren't fun, but they do make me grow. And yes, "out of sorts" is a state we all share, isn't it? ;-) The Christian fellowship here on Carrie's blog is precious--we all need the love and security of real Christian family. Blessings to you, too!

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  18. JILL, I am assuming your are Anne Elizabeth Stengl's mom. CONGRATS on her Christy win for Dragonwitch!!!

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    1. Yay!!! Thank you so much, Anne! I was doing (mental) handsprings last night! I could not be prouder of my daughter. This is the THIRD Christy award won by her amazing fantasy series that packs a powerful spiritual message amid all the action, drama, and humor. It gives me great joy to see her dependence on God and His guidance and blessing on her career. I think I am more excited about her successes than I have ever been about my own! But that is motherhood for you. LOL

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  19. So lovely to read this interview and learn of your latest book! SO very true that the Christian world needs to demonstrate authenticity--none of us "have it together"--we are all ragamuffins in need of grace, every day! I miss my days at Grace with AE, but am so thankful that social media allows us to keep up with her literary and life adventures--as well as her mother's! :) Thank you to your entire family for using the skills that God has loaned to you--we are blessed!
    Amy K., greenisland1 at gmail

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    1. Hello, Amy! I so much appreciate your note and just read it to Anne Elisabeth over the phone! It really is wonderful for college friends like you girls to be able to keep in touch despite the physical distance, and I am friends again with many of my high school classmates! What an interesting world it is, with all kinds of new means of ministry. Thank you for your loving encouragement and interest in our adventures in writing. :-)

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  20. Thank you so much for the interesting interview, Jill and Carrie!!

    My sister-in-law could certainly relate to your years as a military wife, Jill!! I think the responsibilities of being a military wife are hard to understand if one has never been in the same situation - especially the wife of a military officer. My brother was a cargo plane pilot during the Vietnam War and is retired from the Air Force. My sister-in-law practically raised their four children by herself for a number of years while he flew to many different countries.

    I think it's only natural to want to put one's "best foot forward" and not easy to admit failures - however, it is through those failures that we learn the most, as do others from our example and testimony of God's provision during those times!!

    I haven't read any of your books, Jill, and would love to do so!! Thanks for the opportunity to win a copy!!

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    1. Hello Bonnie!

      Yes, transport pilots are always traveling a lot, in war time and peace time. It is a difficult life, but also filled with adventure and travel and wonderful friends all over the world. :-) Your brother did a great service for our country, and I am grateful to him.

      Thank you for the kind note and your interest in my stories! My first published book was about a USAF pilot . . . back in the 1990's. Ha! That is getting to be a long time ago now. :-)

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