Character Monologues: Rachel Nichols

Hello, my name is Rachel Nichols, and I am a senior at Cloverdale High.  I have so many great friends, and I enjoy hanging out with everyone from youth group and school Bible Study.  Last year, my friend Brent was the school Bible Study leader, and he asked me to take over for him as leader now that he’s away at college.  I was so nervous to lead the group at first, but I have had a lot of support from my friends and family.

I absolutely love my boyfriend, Brandon.  We have been dating for a year now, and we have had some great times together.  This week, Brandon and I talked, and he told me about some decisions he and his family had made, which will affect all of us.  I will have to say goodbye to him in January since his family will be moving to the southern part of the state.  I don’t know how I’ll get through the next few months without crying.  I hate crying in front of other people, especially Brandon, so I refuse to cry.

My new friend, J.C., has been a great distraction with everything that’s been happening with Brandon.  She just moved to Cloverdale from New York City, and I love spending time with her!  She makes the best homemade brownies with this incredible mocha icing!  You just have to taste them! 

But I’m sad because J.C. doesn’t appear to know Jesus as her Savior.  I’ve invited her to youth group and Bible Study, but Jamie and her other friends are making it hard for me.  I can tell she feels drawn to the life she used to know in New York, but I pray she will see her need for God and accept Christ into her life.  She’s a great person and quickly becoming an amazing friend.  I would love to share my faith with her.

I can see that Brent is concerned about J.C., too.  They have a relationship that is hard to put into words, but I know God is at the center of it.  I have been praying that my witness toward J.C. would be effective, but I know full well that Brent may have a greater impact on her life.  I have been praying for him as he shares Christ’s love with her.

Well, I need to be planning tomorrow’s Bible Study lesson.  I’ll see you in the pages of The Promise! 

In Him,


Character Monologues: J.C. Cameron

I am beyond excited to release to my readers, The Promise, a coming-to-faith story, told from the point of view of three teenagers. Although the book will not be told from the first person (use of “I”), I thought it might be fun to introduce you to my three main characters and tell you their story through their eyes. First up is J.C. Cameron. Enjoy!

J.C. Cameron

Hi, everyone! My name is J.C. Cameron, and I am seventeen years old. I hail from the not-so-small city of New York, and at the beginning of this school year, my family and I moved to the smallest town ever— Cloverdale, California. One day late this summer, Mom came home from work and just announced that we were leaving. She never admitted it, but I think she got fired from her job. An old college friend told her about Cloverdale and a job opening, and just like that, we packed up and headed out west.

At first, I hated it here. I couldn’t believe there weren’t any cabs or even city buses! It sure made it hard to get anywhere on my own without my driver’s license. My older sister Clarissa doesn’t like to be bothered with carting me around, so I wasn’t surprised to be left without wheels for the first few days of school.

But then everything started to change. I met Jamie, one of the most popular girls in school. She has an awesome car (Okay, it’s her dad’s, but she still gets to drive it anyway) and the coolest group of friends. I’ve already been invited to a few of the parties at Jamie’s, and in many ways, it’s like being back in New York.

But there’s another group of friends, too. I met Rachel in choir, and she’s the leader of this school Bible Study. She goes to a youth group at her church, and one night, she invited me to go with her to a bonfire. We made brownies together and brought them to share with everyone. I felt so welcome there, and I’m seriously considering going back again sometime.

Rachel and her friends are great, but there’s someone else, too— this guy named Brent. If you want to know more about our friendship, you’re going to have to read The Promise. I can’t spoil the ending for you, but I truly believe God brought Brent into my life for a reason.

So until you read my story, it’s farewell for now.



A Piece of me

“Every author in some way portrays himself in his works, even if it be against his will.” ~Goethe

This statement is so true, especially when it comes to my characters.  When I was writing Beyond the Fury, I can recall my editor remarking, “Wow, Caitlyn is you to a T!”  I would try to deny this, but deep down, I knew it was true.  If I lived in Wisconsin in 1899, I would be Caitlyn Schmidt down to the core. 

But the portrayal of myself through my characters didn’t stop there; this carried into St. Croix Chronicles as I introduced my readers to independent spirit and budding writer, Elaina.  My traits were easily visible in this character, and as I worked to craft The Promise, I wondered where I would find myself in the midst of the story this time around as well.

Interestingly, I discovered pieces of myself in all three main characters in The Promise.  As I completed the book, I found that I had learned a great deal about myself through the experiences recounted in the novel and through the personality of my characters.  Through J.C., I experienced the pain and uncertainty that sometimes comes with change and following God’s plan for one’s life.  I cried with her and rejoiced in her victories.  Through Rachel, I sang with passion and shared my gifts for God’s glory.  I identified with her tender heart and compassion for those who have yet to embrace a saving relationship with Christ. 

Through Brent, I prayed for those closest to me, that they might one day come to know the truth and find salvation in Him.  In many ways, Brent’s prayers, thoughts, and inner struggle were parallel to my own spiritual condition at various points in writing the book.  Although Brent’s leadership and mentoring skills are far beyond my humble ability, I identify with him, and his character best matches mine throughout The Promise.   

If you know me well, perhaps you will find me within the pages of The Promise.  Maybe you will even find a piece of yourself within the book, for it is my prayer that these characters will resonate with you no matter where you are in your faith journey.  May The Promise be used by God to tell my story, your story, and most importantly, His story. 


My new book, The Promise, is set in Cloverdale, California, a community 85 miles north of San Francisco.  For those of you who have read my first two books, Beyond the Fury and St. Croix Chronicles, the setting for the new book might be unexpected.  The writing experts say it is best to write about what you know, and even though I have only visited California, I felt I knew enough about the locale to get by.  I had my reasons for setting the book in Cloverdale, and I would like to tell you why I chose this northern California community as the base for my novel.

The Promise begins with a drastic change for my main character, J.C.  Born and raised in New York City, she is forced to endure a move to “hick-town USA.”  She doesn’t understand why she has to live in Cloverdale, California, and it isn’t until the end of the book that she comes to realize the greater purpose in her mother’s hasty decision to relocate. 

I set the book in California simply to create the greatest physical distance between the east and west coasts of the United States.  Throughout the book, J.C. battles through relationship struggles and an unmistakable pull toward faith— both elements leading her to experience increasing transformation in her heart and soul.  She travels a great distance in her spiritual life throughout the book, and this comparison is felt in her distance from the home where she was born and raised. 

You might be wondering why I chose Cloverdale in the midst of so many other cities throughout the great state of California.  Well, the selection process was rather simple in the beginning stages.  I wanted a town in northern, California— hills, valleys, vineyards, and picturesque lakes and rivers.  I was looking for a quiet, little town, set far enough away from the bustle in LA in the southern part of the state.  Enter Cloverdale: population 8,454 and nestled in the midst of rolling hills and wine country.  Initially, my editor picked the town off the map and suggested it.  I knew next to nothing about the town, but I soon learned I had chosen what may arguably be the coolest town in California. 

The town is home to the yearly Old Time Fiddle Festival, which gives local amateur musicians the opportunity to showcase their skill in a fiddle competition.  Cloverdale also hosts a yearly citrus festival.  Contestants create showpieces from the fruit, and the sculptures are judged with the chance to win prizes.  There are livestock competitions, wine-tasting events, a talent show, queen coronation, and a carnival, among many other events throughout the course of the citrus fair.  In completing research on this fascinating town, I knew it was the right community to be featured in my book— a small town with enough culture to supplement J.C.’s journey in coming to faith. 

As I was working through the process of editing the book, I experienced many moments of doubt.  I wondered if the time was right to release the book, if my readers would like it, if I had conveyed what needed to be said throughout the course of the story, if the setting was effective for the storyline…  It was during one of those moments of doubt when my editor directed me to go to the homepage.  That particular day, the website was featuring their top ten list of most fascinating small towns in the U.S.  Cloverdale, California was among the towns featured, and I had to smile.  I wondered if this was a small way in which God was confirming His vision for The Promise and its message.  The Promise certainly wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t for Cloverdale. 

The Onion

For quite awhile now, I’ve thought about having a guest blogger for “Cassie Contemplates…”  This week, I would like to finally make this a reality.  My friend, Katie Bothum, has played an integral part in my music career and now in my quest to find workable alternatives for some of my food allergies.  Katie and I spent most of a week together recently— cooking, baking, writing silly songs, and just generally having a great time.  During the week, she posted a blog that caught my attention, and I’d like to share it with you.

Katie’s blog, “Sunflower’s Quest,” ( is a set of entries focusing on finding hope in the midst of life’s struggles and disappointments.  I am eager to share her words with you this week, and with her permission, I am reposting the below entry for your reading pleasure.

 Wednesday, April 27, 2011

 Hope and the Mighty Onion…

 Hello! I would like to take the time to wish those of you following my blog a late Happy Easter! I hope you enjoyed your time with the family or even just devouring those marshmallow peeps and chocolate bunnies!

Anyway, I wanted to share something with you today concerning my never-ending quest to find hope. Anyone remember the movie SHREK? The first one. There’s a scene in the movie where Shrek explains to donkey about how there are more to ogres than many people realize. He used onions as an example and here it is for further clarification.

Too many times I’ve seen hope diminish in my life by being written off as something I’m not. Shrek had the same problem. All he wanted was to live in his swamp and do his thing. Tired of being harassed and hunted like he was some kind of evil monster just because that’s the way it always had been. As a pastor’s kid I’ve been written off as someone who should have been the “perfect Christian.” I was also supposed to be popular, outgoing, constantly bubbly and making people laugh. I was to be a female image of my father. Sadly, I was not and people began to cause trouble by thinking there was something severely wrong with me instead of accepting me as I was. It was very hard for me to open up and trust anyone, even God. Granted, there were a few that saw I had “layers” and could not take me at face value. I am very thankful for those friendships; they were the ones who made it easier to trust again, especially after some of the things I’ve been through.

None of us are perfect and sometimes we just need someone to just accept that above anything else. A simple act of kindness like listening or even standing up for someone can really go a long way. Is it always easy and could you lose a lot in return, probably but the end result of hope in that person’s life is long worth it! It also blesses you in the process…doing the right thing!

Now, I know not everyone likes onions and that’s fine. Not everyone will like you and want to be your friend. Some people just don’t get along no matter what is said and done. But realize the many uses for the onion, it can be sweetened for soups, can add flavor to any pot roast, and is pretty darn tasty when battered and deep-fried hahaha! Even if you’re an onion, there are uses for you…yes, there may be tears involved but the end result is good….delicious even! Snack on that and try to help out the “onions” in your life, Donkey and Shrek became friends and saved the day in the movie, maybe that could be the case for you. Or not, but either way it’s worth putting a little bit of hope back into this “label-maker” world.