Author Highlight: AnnaLee Conti

I would like to introduce Ambassador International author AnnaLee Conti as today's guest on Rebel Book Reviews.

Three gripping stories that explore the power of secrets, love, hope, and forgiveness.

The Alaskan Waters Series are compelling novels that take the reader on a journey using descriptive details and beautiful prose. 

Here are what some are saying about the books:

"This is a very touching story of a young and brave woman who must face her unexpected past in order to move forward." ~ Amazon reviewer for Beside Still Waters

"This second book in her series was such a poignant reminder that God is a God of second chances." ~ Amazon reviewer for A Star to Steer By

"This is such an exceptional novel because it is richly filled with so much historical information from the gold miners who sought their own future in the Alaskan wilderness and how the railroad lines were laid at the cost of so many shows great courage to reach out for an unknown future like Violet does." ~ Barnes and Noble reviewer for Beside Still Waters

I've had a chance to glance through these novels and they have captivated me. They are on my list of Ambassador International books that I wish to read as soon as possible. 

Read below to learn more about AnnaLee and her books.

RBR: If you had to break out of your comfort zone to write a novel, what genre would it be? Would it be different from your normal style?

AC: My previous three novels are historical fiction set in the early twentieth century in Alaska, where I grew up. I'd really like to write a novel set in sixteenth century France about the Huguenots. My American ancestor, a French Huguenot, escaped martyrdom at the repeal of the Edict of Nantes and was the first white settler in what is now Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Their story fascinates me. Writing a historical novel set in much earlier times in a country I've never visited would require much more research and a somewhat different style.

RBR: I have to say that I would definitely want to read a book about the Huguenots. One of my ancestors, who escaped persecution in Germany, had bought land from William Penn.

Readers enjoy reading about different locales. What would be the one place you would love to have as a setting for one of your novels? What makes that place appealing to you?

AC: To more accurately describe the setting for a French Huguenot, I'd really like to visit Strasbourg, France, since that is the place my ancestor lived before coming to America. In 1968, when my husband was stationed in Germany in the U.S. Army, we stopped one day along the Rhine River and looked across at that city, but he did not have an international driver's license, so we couldn't cross the river. I've always regretted that.

RBR: Authors are readers too. Do you have favorite author or book? What is a quote from that author/book that you like?

AC: I love Biblical fiction, but my all-time favorite is Two From Galilee, the love story of Mary and Joseph by Marjorie Holmes. Its ending is particularly poignant. A shadow from a wagon tongue falls across the sleeping Baby Jesus' sweet face in the from of a cross, and Mary realizes one day He will die on a cross for the sins of the world. Joseph comforts her with these words: 

This is our cross, Mary—to know that our son’s hour will come and we can’t stop it…But this is our blessing…to know that in his living and his dying he will be lifting the yoke somewhat for all men…There will be hope…for all people who are enslaved.

One of the first short stories I published was "They Killed My Son Today". As a young mother, I conceived that story out of the realization of how unbearable it must have been for Mary to see her perfect, innocent Son crucified as a common criminal.

RB: I've never known about Two From Galilee. I will be sure to find that novel now.

What is your favorite parable in the Bible? What is it about that parable that you like?

AC: I would say that the Prodigal Son is my favorite because it portrays the father-heart of God. The entire theme of Luke 15 is the lostness of mankind and how the loving Heavenly Father spares no effort to bring His lost ones back into fellowship with Him. When the prodigal returns and begs forgiveness, the Father greets him without reproach and restores him to his place in the family. What hope that story gives to all of us, who at one time or another, in one way or another, have broken God's heart! 

RB: Share a piece of your work, your favorite part, for the readers.

AC: My Alaskan Waters Trilogy of historical Christian fiction is the life and death saga of a Norwegian immigrant family who battles the beautiful but often treacherous waters of early twentieth century Southeast Alaska to find love and happiness in the midst of tragedies. All three are based on true incidents. This is how Book One, Till the Storm Passes By (2013), begins:

     I awoke with a start, my heart skipping like my fourth graders playing double dutch with their jump ropes. Even my fingers and toes were pulsing to the pounding rhythm. My body was clammy with sweat. My parched throat ached.
     A sense of profound loss sucked the breath from my lungs. I sat up in the predawn darkness and shivered as the chilly air turned my damp nightgown icy. I pressed my trembling hands to my cheeks and found them wet with tears.
     “Why now?” I moaned. I hadn’t had this nightmare in years—the one that had tormented my childhood. I thought I’d outgrown it along with my fear of the dark and the bogeyman.
     My bedroom door opened. “Evie, are you all right?” Mother asked. “I heard you cry out.”
     “Oh, Mother! Remember that nightmare I had every night as a child? I had it again. Why now?”
     She turned on the table lamp and sat on the bed beside me. Blinded by the soft light, I squinted at her as she pushed the damp hair from my forehead as though I were a little child, not her almost twenty-three-year-old daughter. She looked a little pale, but I assumed it was the lighting.
     “You want to tell it to me again?”
     Closing my eyes, I tried to gather the fragmented scenes of my kaleidoscopic dream. Drawing a deep breath, I licked my lips and attempted to clear the cotton from my throat. “It’s never a connected scenario—only flashes and impressions. I’m a little girl again, but I’m in a place I’ve never been except in my nightmare.” I paused and opened my eyes, looking beyond Mother, trying to see something I couldn’t quite grasp.
     “Is it always the same place?”
     “Yeah, I’m standing on a sandy beach surrounded by mountains. Water ripples at my feet. A beautiful woman appears. Her long blond hair is pulled back into a ponytail, and her scarf flutters in the breeze. Excited to see her, I wave. As she turns toward me, a monster looms over her head, and she suddenly disappears.”
     Fear and sorrow constricted my throat, and I broke off. Swallowing hard, I rubbed my forehead to ease the tension behind my eyes, but it didn’t help.
     “I’m sorry, dear.” Mother stroked my hand. “Is that all?” Her tone sounded strangely flat.
     “No.” I hesitated, trying to put into words what had only been pictures—like a rapid slide show. “After that, I see men running, people shouting, water splashing. Then the woman lies stretched out on the beach, cold and wet and still.” I shuddered. “So still.”
     “Do you know who she is?” Mother seemed to be holding her breath until I answered.
     “No, I’ve only seen her in my nightmare, but I throw myself on her, crying, ‘Mommy! Wake up, Mommy!’ She doesn’t respond. That’s when I wake up sobbing, feeling all alone and afraid.”
     As waves of sorrow washed over me, I shivered and lay back against my now-chilled pillow.

Although the trilogy, which is now complete, deals with one family through two generations, each book can stand alone. The sequels in the series are Book Two, A Star to Steer By (2015), and Book Three, Beside Still Waters (2017), published by Ambassador International

Bio: Annalee Conti resides in the Mid-Hudson River Valley with her husband, Bob. They have a son and five grandchildren. AnnaLee is a fifth generation ordained minister and a fourth generation author in her family. Her experiences growing up in a missionary family in Alaska provide inspiration for her writing. For years, she has been publishing short stories, articles, devotionals, church school curriculum on assignment, and since retirement, four books. 

Connect with AnnaLee Conti using the following links.

TWITTER: @AnnaLeeConti

This is such an exceptional novel because it is richly filled with so much historical information from the gold miners who sought their own future in the Alaskan wilderness and how the railroad lines were laid at the cost of so many lives.


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