ABOUT AUTHOR: Serena B. Miller is the author of The Measure of Katie Calloway and Love Finds You in Sugarcreek, Ohio, as well as numerous articles for periodicals such as Woman's World, Guideposts, Reader's Digest, Focus on the Family, Christian Woman, and more. She lives on a farm in southern Ohio.

How did you come up with the idea for A Promise to Love?

A.     My dad once commented that his mother married for love, but that his father married for convenience. That statement was the basis for the birth of this book. My grandfather was an impoverished, widowed farmer with five children. He was a handsome man, and kind, but his land was thin and poor. The youngest child was just a few months old when they married. Grandma was a hired girl who walked past his house every day on her way to work and saw the mess the man was in. They had three children together after their marriage and my father was the youngest. He always found it remarkable that she loved and was loved by all the children so much that he was nearly ten years old before he realized that his mother was not the biological mother of all his siblings. As the youngest, he was frequently pressed into service to help her carry the family wash to “The Faraway Spring” which was our family name for a spring way back in the woods that never went dry (and which is mentioned in the book.) My grandmother always laughed that her “honeymoon” lasted for as long as it took for her and grandpa to walk the quarter mile from the small church where they were married, to their home. Upon her arrival, her immediate concern was the family’s laundry, which had piled up terribly. I believe she said it took her approximately two weeks to get that house whipped into shape, and then she went after “her” baby Bertie when Grandpa came home without him. The scene where she sits in the living room until they give the baby back to her is loosely based on a true account in our family of how Grandma fought to bring her own Bertie back into the house. At one point in their marriage, Grandpa told her that she was a better mother to his children than his first wife, and Grandma treasured that comment for the rest of her life. The book I wrote is not a biography (Grandma did not go through the fire of 1871) but there are bits and pieces of her life I enjoyed weaving into the story.   

 Why write Christian Fiction when you could write any other market? What’s the draw for you?

I’m not sure I could write any other kind of literature. Even if I tried to write secular stories, Christ has always been such a big part of my life, I think it would be difficult to keep a faith element out of them.   

What was your favorite scene to write in A Promise to Love? Why? What was your most difficult? Why?

My favorite scene to write was right after she’s been so terribly hurt by him for rejecting her, and she lays there in bed redefining the rest of her life with a man who does not love her. When he hears her chopping firewood in the middle of the night and goes to investigate and isn’t quite sure if he should get within swinging distance of that axe she’s wielding, it was quite satisfying to see him not sure how to handle himself around her.

The hardest scenes to get right were those happening during the fire. I had read so many first-person accounts of the horror of those few hours and I was trying to portray the reality of the enormity of the fire without it being too graphic. There were two scenes I wrote and then took out because the images (which were from real-life) haunt me still. I decided I didn’t want my readers to have to deal with those mental images, also. . 

 What questions and feelings do you want your book to provoke on a spiritual and emotional level?

My greatest hope would be that it might help each person reading the book to reevaluate and recommit themselves to their marriages and their families. The moment when Ingrid’s little step-daughter asks if she’s ever going to walk out on them, and Ingrid promises that she never will, is a pivotal one. It defines Ingrid’s faith and personal integrity. I hoped to leave the reader with courage to face the tough stuff of life with a little more nobility.

How does the cover process work for you? Did you have any say in picking out the cover for your books? I've really enjoyed them.

I am given a list of questions to fill out. Things like the color of hair, eyes, etc. Very mundane stuff. Then Revell’s artists take that dry-as-dust list of questions and create something magical. I've gasped both times I've first seen my covers. They were beyond anything I could have hoped for. I was especially impressed with the fact that A Promise To Love had Ingrid against a backdrop of cherry blossoms. In the book, trying to keep those fledgling cherry trees alive was a terrible ordeal for Ingrid and Joshua. The fact that the artist resurrected that beautiful dream of a cherry orchard and put it on the cover really got to me. I hadn’t even thought to mention the cherry orchard on the list.

What do you like most about the writing process? What do you like least?

I honestly love every bit of the process. The interesting research. The excitement of the rough draft. The self-editing process. I even enjoy, to some extent the editing work I do with my editor, Vicki Crumpton, because she always helps make the manuscript better. The only thing I do not enjoy is having deadlines. It seems that no matter how hard I work, I’m always down to the wire. On the other hand, if I did not have a deadline, I’d probably work on one manuscript forever and never start a new one. There’s a fine line between doing one’s best and becoming obsessive. I would become obsessive if deadlines didn’t force me to hand the manuscript over.

 Can you tell me about two WOW—moments you've had since being published? What made it a wow for you?

Oh my, the night I won the RITA for The Measure Of Katie Calloway was quite a WOW! I was up against such wonderful writers that I had not allowed myself to even dream of winning. I was just grateful for being a finalist. I couldn't attend the banquet because I was trying to push through to another deadline that was looming. I was in the same room as my husband, who was watching TV, when I saw on-line that I’d won. I was so shocked, I shrieked. My husband said, “You WON?” and then he jumped up and danced me around the room, both of us crying and laughing. It had been a long, hard journey to that point, and that sweet man had prayed me through all of it. Only two years before, he had been desperately ill and we had not been sure he would live. All I could think about that night was how incredibly grateful to God I felt that my husband was alive and healthy again and able to celebrate this good thing with me.

Another WOW moment was a much quieter one, but profound. A young friend, about fifteen-years-old lost her father suddenly. I had just published my first book, Love Finds You In Sugarcreek, Ohio, a book written against the back drop of Amish country and her mother had a copy. A few months later, my young friend told me that she had read that book six times while going through the days of her father’s funeral and visitation and the weeks afterward. She said that being inside the world I’d created felt like a safe place to be when things were so scary, and that it had helped so much. That book took many months to research and write, but I would do it again just for the comfort it gave that one precious girl. That’s the kind of comment a writer can live on for years.


A friend of yours has a time travel machine and will let you have it for a couple of days. What would you do with it? Any events you’d like to experience? If so which ones?

I’d kinda like to interrogate the Apostle Paul about some things that, in my opinion, could use some clarification. I’d definitely like to be one of the women at the tomb. It would be fun to talk with Lazarus for a while—after he’d had a bath and put on some fresh clothes, of course--but I’m assuming you’re talking about non-Biblical things? 

Outside of the Bible, I have often wished that I could go back in time and be present at a meeting between Abraham Lincoln and Ulysses S. Grant. I think of the deep depression that Lincoln fought, and the self-doubt Grant felt going up against the great General Lee. I wish I could go back and tell both of them that it was going to be okay and that they ultimately managed to hold our country together. I would also warn Lincoln to NOT go to the Ford Theater  Things would have gone so much better with the restoration of the south had he lived. Oh—and on the second day of my time travel, I’d love to go spend it with the great Shawnee chief, Tecumseh. I’ve always had a bit of a historical crush on Tecumseh. What a man! And if there was any time left over on the machine, I’d head on over to Monticello and hang out with Sally Hemmings for a while and see if I could get her to tell me exactly what the heck was going on between her and Thomas Jefferson!  

You are shipwrecked on an uninhabited tropical island with a group of Christians – all friends and relatives of yours. You all have to work as a team to survive. Many roles have to be filled. Which role do you think you’d play?

I’d be the one figuring out a hundred and one ways to prepare fish and getting huffy when not everyone liked my culinary experiments.

What THREE things would you not want to live without?(besides your bible, family and friends) 

1) I really, really love my home in the country that my husband and sons built.  It is my sanctuary. 2) I make my living with my computer, so that’s very important. (Although I’m pretty good with an old manual typewriter if push ever came to shove.) 3) My good, sharp, chef’s knife would be hard to live without along with my crock-pot which I rarely even put away.  

What movie impacted you most as a child? Why? If you didn’t go to the movies much what books impacted you the most? Why?

We didn’t have television or go to the movies when I was little, but The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder was unforgettable. That’s the book that made me realize that words alone could transport a person into another world. I read it in the dead of summer, and was so immersed in it, that I clearly remember looking out the window when I finished and being shocked that there wasn’t any snow outside.

What is something that would surprise readers if you told them? 

I rarely read fiction anymore. Actually, it surprises me, too. The problem is, I’m so busy doing research for future books, as well as writing my own, that there just doesn't seem to be much time left over. After a lifetime of being a voracious fiction reader, I miss it.   


If a reader is inspired by or simply just enjoyed a book that a Christian writer produced, please consider passing it on to another reader or recommending it to someone who would enjoy it. Perhaps even pray that it gets in the right hands and consider leaving it on a bus seat when you’re done. There is a lot of darkness in the world and we’re trying hard to use our God-given talents to light a few candles in as many homes as we can. Janet Oke once remarked that she considered each copy of any of her books to be a paper missionary. So do I.


Thanks for stopping by and letting us get to know you and your books better!
I’m so excited that Revell will be giving away 5 copies of Promise to Love this month. I’m also thrilled that you’ll be part of the discussion. It’s going to be fun!!

With a grateful Heart

Nora St.Laurent
The Book club Network CEO




  1. I would love to win this contest.

  2. I love the cover of this book. Great giveaway!


  3. Such a heart tugging story about her 15 year old friend. Thanks for the interview. Serena is a new author I have yet to read. Thanks for allowing me to get to know Serena and her books. :)