Wednesday, June 17, 2020

"A River to Cross" by C.L. Smith -- Author Interview, Blog Tour, and Giveaway

About the Book

Book:  A River to Cross
Author: C.L. Smith
Genre:  Biblical Fiction
Release Date: November, 2017
2 A River to Cross FC copyAlthough human eyes see only a river separating Israel from the Promised Land, primordial powers of darkness are determined to prevent a crossing that will change the world.
In the thrilling sequel to Balaam’s Curse, Acsah, Othniel, Jonathan and their friends sort through the rubble of the Midianite war for pieces of the simple and innocent life they’ve lost. But there is no going back. While nearly drowning in personal rivers of disappointment, grief, and fear, they hardly notice the Jordan River slowly rising to an impassable, raging torrent. By the time they do, Moses is dead. Yahweh has made it clear that Joshua is his chosen replacement, but the people have little faith that this hesitant man can lead them into Canaan.
To bolster confidence, Joshua sends Salmon and another young spy across the river in a reconnaissance mission that plunges them into a world where evil prowls in broad daylight and death waits in the darkness. They escape the depraved city of Jericho only by the quick thinking of a Canaanite girl who risks her life in exchange for a promise of rescue. Now her life and the future of the world depend on crossing that river.
Author Interview

  1. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you?

Truth be told, I’m quite ADD. I’m not sure I could plot a story from beginning to end and follow the outline exactly as first imagined. My process is a lot messier. I know the basic outline from scripture. But often the characters themselves lead plot development in surprising ways. I have always loved watching people, trying to understand what motivates them. For the most part, the personality of each of my primary characters is set or strongly hinted at in their brief mention in the Bible. The actual drama, the amazing stories, the miracles and mayhem of claiming the Promised Land, has already been told through the grand panoramic lens of the Book of Joshua. I am retelling it with a close-up lens as the coming-of-age story of my characters. I ask myself, what would this look like through the eyes of Othniel, Acsah, and friends? Given what we know of each of their personalities, how would they react? 

  1. What, according to you, is the hardest thing about writing? (And 4.) Do you pen down revelations and ideas as you get them, right then and there?
Some days I am paralyzed with writer’s block. The conversations, the action, nothing seems to work. Then I find it is best to let it rest. Leave the keyboard. Eventually the solution comes to me. I might turn to one of my Joshua commentaries or research deeper into the geography or some aspect of ancient culture, hoping to notice something new that makes the scene work. Sometimes in my devotional reading a fresh understanding of God’s ways illuminates a section I am working on and gets the juices flowing again. When all else fails, I just sleep on it. I can’t count the times I have awakened in the middle of the night with a conversation between two characters fully formed in my head. I definitely jot those scenes down even if it is the middle of the night. 

  1. Do bits of yourself/friends show up in your characters?

I definitely look into my own heart when writing emotional scenes. Will my friends see themselves in my books? They might, if they look closely, but only as a composite with other similar people I have known. I sometimes use adaptations of the actual behavior or the words of friends to give my characters authenticity. If a scene doesn’t work, I sometimes feel my characters saying, “I wouldn’t say that or do that.” 

Take Othniel who is a still bit of a sleeper character in A River to Cross. Don’t dismiss him. His time in the spotlight will come in Book 5 (defeating giants and winning the hand of Acsah) and Book 6 (Rising as the first hero-judge of Israel.) When I first started thinking about the story of Othniel, I was struck with his resemblance to someone I know better than anyone else on the planet––my husband Eden. I dedicated A River to Cross to Eden. Like Othniel, he is reserved but confident. A natural hero. He is very capable of taking charge with ease in a crisis, but not so inclined to get up out of his chair for things he doesn’t consider critical. In college, he was a leader in adventures with his guy friends but quite shy around girls. He is a quiet hero, a man of few words. (Reread Othniel’s story in Judges. He never says a word.) I have years of situations to draw from that makes it easy to picture how Othniel might behave in various settings, and yet while I am writing, Othniel lets me know he is a unique man not to be forced into someone else’s mold.

A friend of mine has an adult son much like that. She was trying to convince him to join her and her husband on an Alaskan cruise. She showed him pictures and told him about all the things they would see. When she said, “Doesn’t that sound fabulous?” he answered, “Yeah. I really wish I wanted to go.” She told me that story as I was working on the first book and I adapted his adorable response to Othniel and plugged it into the first chapter when Othniel was asked if he was getting married. 

  1. When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?

I am in awe of authors who write a book or two a year. I can’t even imagine doing that. In fact, I never imagined being an author at all until it happened. I spent a significant portion of my life as a teacher of English. I love good stories, I enjoy writing, and I love working with people. Teaching was a perfect fit. I emphasized mastery of the language through writing––so my students wrote and wrote stacks of essays and stories. I edited and encouraged, but I never considered writing a book myself until this story called to me. It sat on back burner until I retired. Then the idea exploded from a single novel to a series. It is just the right fit for me now. Going to my keyboard to see what my characters will be up to next is even more fun than teaching.  

Click here to get your copy!

About the Author

CL SmithC.L. SMITH, former missionary and junior high English/history teacher, has been captivating audiences around the world for years with the timeless thrill of biblical tales. Now in her retirement years she is writing The Stones of Gilgal biblical novels. The books weave her lifetime love of learning and people into the fabric of obscure ancient texts, creating an unforgettable tapestry of rich scenes and colorful characters.
The narrative unfolds from the viewpoint of six minor biblical characters who experienced the miracles and mayhem of the era of Joshua (stories recounted in the last half of Numbers through parts of Judges) bringing this ancient world to life. This deeply-researched telling, of old stories makes them new again and relevant to our world today. She has completed three of six books in the series. The books are chronological, each adding layers to our understanding of the characters and their life situations, but each book can be enjoyed as a story complete within itself.
Learn more at

More from C.L. Smith

  • tried reading Old Testament stories and wondered why such violence is found in the Good Book?
  • heard anyone say, “I like Jesus, but the God of the Old Testament seems so blood-thirsty and vengeful”?
  • wondered how Joshua’s army—slaughtering whole towns because God told them to—was different from ISIS and other militant religious armies today?
Have you ever wished you had good answers for people who ask those questions?

Imagine a story that deals with those questions and reads like the high adventure of an epic fantasy novel. Well, you don’t have to imagine. The Stones of Gilgal novels tackle those tough questions.

 A River to Cross is the second book of The Stones of Gilgal series––but plunge right in! Each book can be read as a story complete within itself.

Background from book one: The children of Israel celebrate their arrival at the border of Canaan, their long-awaited Promised Land. But the evil prophet Balaam has been hired to stop them. His plot turns their joyful celebration into a nightmare. Balaam’s Curse threatens the very existence of God’s people on earth, leads to the death of the last of the Exodus generation, and leaves their children reeling.

Setting for book two: The crisis is past. Acsah, Othniel and friends begin picking up the pieces of their shattered lives. Their parent’s generation is gone, but against all odds, they survived the rebellion, plague, and war initiated by Balaam’s Curse. Like a loving grandfather, Moses gathers his people together for his final words. He reviews the covenant law and appoints Joshua as their new leader. The people grieve the loss of their mountain of strength. But inspired by the passion of his farewell speeches, the people look to the future with fiercely bright hope. They will cross the Jordan and claim their inheritance. What could possibly go wrong?

The Characters
Six of the major characters in this series are minor but real people found in scripture. They all came of age during the era of Joshua, experiencing the transition from the Wilderness Wanderings to finding a home in the Promised Land. They all crossed the Jordan, witnessed the fall of Jericho and the sun standing still at a word from Joshua—life-changing events shaping them for leadership roles as mature adults in the book of Judges.

  • Othniel, who becomes the first hero-Judge of Israel––Judges 3:7-11
  • Acsah, only daughter of the heroic Caleb––Judges 1:12-15
  • Rahab, the courageous Canaanite harlot not only saved by faith but honored with a place in the lineage of King David and Jesus Christ. Joshua 2
  • Salmon, prince of the tribe of Judah, future husband of Rahab––only found in genealogies: Ruth 4:18-22, Matthew 1:5
  • Phinehas, grandson of Aaron, warrior of righteousness and future high priest––Numbers 25, 30, Joshua 22, and Judges 20,
  • Jonathan, grandson of Moses––Judges 17-18
  • Plus Abihail, fictionalized daughter-in-law of the biblical Achan, Joshua 7

Blog Stops

Blossoms and Blessings, June 17 (Author Interview)
Batya’s Bits, June 17
Emily Yager, June 19
Betti Mace, June 20
Artistic Nobody, June 23 (Author Interview)
Mary Hake, June 23
Through the Fire Blogs, June 25 (Author Interview)
A Baker’s Perspective , June 28 (Author Interview)


To celebrate her tour, C.L. is giving away the grand prize of a $50 Amazon gift card!!
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.


Rita Wray said...

I liked the interview.

Debbie P said...

This sounds like a great book! I can't wait to read more.

marisela zuniga said...

Thank you for sharing the author interview, I enjoyed it!

James Robert said...

Congratulations on your new release and thanks for sharing your great book.