Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Beaded Hope Giveaway and Part 1 of Interview with Cathy Liggett

Greetings from Ruth Ann in South Africa. Today it's my pleasure to interview Cathy Liggett, who's giving away a copy of her novel, Beaded Hope. Please come back on Thursday, 9th December, for Part 2 of her interview.

Cathy Liggett has been a Midwest, Ohio, girl all her life – except for those 5 years when her one true love married her and whisked her off to live in New York City. Once the couple began a family, however, hometown ties tugged and they moved back to Ohio to raise their two children. Some twenty-plus years later they still make their home in the aptly-named Cincinnati suburb of Loveland. A Communications major and former advertising copywriter, Cathy feels blessed just thinking about the places the writing journey has taken her and all the wonderful acquaintances she’s made along the way.

Hello, Cathy, welcome to our blog.

Hi, Ruth Ann.  It’s so sweet of you to invite me!

Please tell us about your book, Beaded Hope, and what inspired you to write it.

Beaded Hope is a story about the power of faith and friendship. It’s about three American women—who are strangers to each other when they embark on a mission trip from Columbus, Ohio to Mamelodi, South Africa, each for their own self-serving reasons. Gabby is a Director of Children’s Ministries at her church and is running from a devastating loss—she can’t conceive a child. Cassandra is single, childless a bit older and is trying desperately to save her news anchor career by bringing back a great story. Heidi is a young widow who is hoping the trip will help bridge the gap that has separated her from her stepdaughter. What none of the American women expect is how profoundly their lives will be changed by the women they meet in SA, women who combat disease and poverty daily, yet still manage to embrace life with joy.

I was inspired to write the book after meeting a lady named Jennifer Davis about five years ago at my work. I work part-time at a hospital as a registrar and one day Jennifer sat down across from me at the registration desk, sporting a red beaded pin on her jean jacket. I couldn’t help but ask where she’d gotten the pretty piece of jewelry. After introducing herself, Jennifer told me the pin was crafted by a woman in South Africa and said she’d just started a nonprofit called Beaded Hope to help South African women provide for their families by selling their beaded jewelry in the United States.

I was thrilled to buy a pin from her that day, but I never really expected to see her again. It seemed, however, that God had a different plan. Jennifer and I kept “accidentally” crossing paths until finally it seemed too coincidental to ignore and we made plans to meet and chat. As Jennifer shared her photos and journal entries from her earlier trips to South Africa, I felt pressed to write about the people she spoke of. I'd published some romances prior to that and figured this would be a sweeping romance, covering two continents. But it just didn’t work in that genre. The book (I realized after many revisions) had to be more than romance. It had to be all about women bonding with one another through their struggles, dreams, hopes, and faith.

Have you always wanted to go on a mission trip to South Africa?

Jennifer will tell you that she always wanted to go to South Africa since she was a little girl. But I can honestly say traveling to Africa was never really a thought in my head. In fact, I’d already had a couple of rejections for Beaded Hope  by the time she called me out-of-the-blue, February 2008 and I’d put the project on the backburner.

When Jennifer called she said she knew it was last minute, but she was making a trip back to Mamelodi, SA at the beginning of March and felt drawn to invite me to go. At that time, my husband and I were planning a trip to Destin, Florida. Something drivable and restful—and more affordable. Africa seemed too extravagant.

But Jennifer also said in order to get decent airfares to SA we needed to make the reservations by that Friday—in just a couple of days. However, we could still cancel the reservations on the following Monday without a penalty if we felt we needed too.

With that option in mind, crazily we said yes, deciding we’d talk about it more over the weekend, figure out our finances and so on. So I called and made the reservations Friday morning and on Friday afternoon two things happened. Our daughter came home from college with a check for tuition we’d apparently overpaid. And in the mail not two hours later, we got an unexpected royalty check from my husband’s business. Together, those two checks equaled our airfares.

After that we didn’t question our going again. The fact is, though I longed to sell the idea of this book years before, I believe God knew I had to go to Mamelodi and meet face-to-face and hug-to-hug the women Jennifer held so close to her heart. My limited imagination would’ve never been able to depict the warmth, irresistibility and spirit of these ladies otherwise. 

Do you have any funny or interesting South African experiences you would like to share with our readers? Have any of these found their way into your book?

I didn’t have any funny incident that made its way into the book, but I did learn something interesting (the scary way!!). I learned what’s big and gray and wet behind the ears!

I became privy to that tidbit of knowledge when we went on safari in the Pilanesburg during our trip to South Africa.  We were so lucky to be able to take the “real” Mama Peggy and Mighty with us. They’d never done such a thing before, so it was a first experience for all of us.

It was bright and sunny when we got to the park that afternoon. After getting something to eat and letting the monkeys that populated the grounds entertain us for a while, we prepared for our safari that evening. By the time we set out, however, the clouds were rolling in. And, by the time we got to the furthest point along the dirt path, rain teemed down. Since the caravan (which held about 12-15 people I’d say) was canvas topped and had canvas sides, we were drenched and freezing in our shorts and spring parkas. Kindly, the driver high-tailed us back to the lodge and gave us a raincheck—good for the 6 a.m. safari the next morning.

It was our first night in a bed that felt like anything comparable to home. Even so, we climbed out of that comfortable spot (a bit reluctantly, I admit) at around 5 a.m. and set out in the van in the darkness once again.

It was truly breathtaking to see the sun rise over the African grassland and hills, and to see the animals in their natural state as well. Lion cubs with their moms rose up out of the tall grasses, stretching …giraffes dipped their necks to breakfast on leafy tree limbs … impalas slowly made their way to waterholes for morning drinks. Oh, and the birds we saw were incredibly beautiful! I love the cardinals, orioles and bluejays in my backyard in Ohio—but what a treat it was to see a European Roller—a bird many of you are probably acquainted with. Its colors are so magnificent!

Anyway, I’m not sure why but about halfway through the safari, the driver stopped the van and turned off the engine. I think he wanted us to look around and see some of the animals in the distance. My husband and I, along with a South African man with a huge camera, and a South African family (mom and son in one seat, and dad and daughter in a seat across the aisle), occupied the last two rows of the van which, again, was completely open, no windows, and had only canvas that ran around the sides.

Turning around to look out the back, our rear rows did see an elephant in the distance. An elephant that kept getting closer and closer and closer… The man with the camera had been on many a safari and knew the elephant was a young male and could tell from the seeping coming from his ears (just to let you know how close the creature had gotten!) that he was a young male during mating season and could be very easily agitated.

Oh, and the elephant was! Noticeably perturbed, he came about twenty yards from the van and kept ducking and raising his head, like he was trying to tell us that we really needed to be moving along. We thought he was completely right!! We began calling up to the driver to start the van! Please! But … the driver was preoccupied and talking, and no one at the front of the van seemed to hear us.

As we sat there, the elephant moved closer. Ducking his head some more, he didn’t look at all happy with us. We yelled to the driver again. By this time, he seemed to hear us, but wasn’t comprehending the situation at all. Oh, but the young male elephant was! He saw we weren’t moving, so he started to! He began to stomp determinedly down the path toward the van.

All of us in the back seats screamed at the driver some more. My husband (I’m guessing in an act of chivalry) pushed me out of the seat and into the aisle, away from the open back area. And, I’m telling you in all honesty, by the time the driver got the van moving, the elephant was a foot from the van, his head lowered and looking ready to charge. I can truly feel my pulse quickening right now, just remembering it!

I learned that when you drive away from a beast like that, you’re supposed to zigzag so they have a hard time catching you. Luckily, that’s what the driver did. He started the engine and gunned it out of there, zigzagging away from the young male who only ran after us for a little ways. The South Africans, who knew better than we did, had much to say to the driver when we got back to our lodging, and it wasn’t nice. The driver should’ve never cut the engine, they told us. What if when he went to turn on the van, it wouldn’t start again?

Whew! I’m just so very thankful it did! 

What a frightening experience!

Mama Penny and Jaleela, two of the South African ladies, are very strong characters. Are they based on real people?

Readers please come back on 9th December to read Cathy's answer.

Cathy has kindly offered to send a copy of Beaded Hope anywhere in the world to one lucky reader. If you would like to be entered in the draw, please leave a comment for Cathy and your email address on today's blog by midnight Thursday, 9th December. Leave another comment on Part 2 of the interview next week for an extra chance to win.  The winner will be announced in the Sunday Edition on the 12th December.

The giveaway is void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.


  1. Ruth, thank you for an excellent 1/2 interview. I look forward to reading the 2nd half. Cathy, thanks for sharing how your trip to S.Africa came about. As for the close encounter of a scary kind . . . whew! We had the back bumper of our car bitten through by a lioness a few months back in a game reserve. These stories all go to remind us that the wild animals are king in their own domain!
    I'd love to be entered into the draw for this book, if you're prepared to send to S.Africa.

  2. Loved your interview, Cathy. Enjoyed the story of that elephant! My husband and I travelled by bus from Harare to Zambia, saw some wild life and even more glad now the elephants we did see were so far in the distance! I certainly will be keeping an eye open for your book on our shop shelves here in Australia.

  3. Many thanks for the comments Shirl and Mary. Please add another comment with your email address in order to be eligible for the draw.

  4. Oops, sorry Ruth. Email is

  5. Cathy, I so enjoyed your elephant encounter story. We visit the Pilanesberg at least once a year and I love the peace and tranquility of this beautiful place. We have also had a few encounters with the notorious Pilanesberg elephants....scary but great stories to tell.
    Your book sounds fascinating and I would love to have the chance to read it.

  6. Thank you for this interview. I really enjoyed the book. I did a review of it on my blog. What fun to learn what parts of the story are based on fact or real people. Thank you for sharing.

  7. Oops. Sorry, Ruth. My email address is shirley(at)shirleycorder(dot)com.

  8. Thank you for that.
    It brought back memories from my childhood. We were driving as a family through the Hwange Game Park (in Zimbabwe) when we found ourselves in the middle of a herd of very large and very cross elephants and we were chased a little way by a mother who was trumpeting and flapping her ears madly!
    I'd love to read your book.


  9. a wonderful posting/interview...thanks for the opportunity to read this fabulous novel.

    kmkuka at yahoo dot com

  10. Hi,Everyone! I feel like I'm chiming in late here. To tell you the truth, I've barely been at the computer lately. Life has been sort of a blur with Thanksgiving, relatives visiting from Texas, my hubby's birthday, our 28th anniversary, and our annual Christmas OVRWA booksigning. I was just putting up some Christmas decorations today and as I was wrapping the banister with garland, I thought OMYGOSH! Ruth Ann said she was putting up this interview at the beginning of December - and it's already the 5th! Ruth Ann, thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to share my answers with you. And, to all of you who have posted, thanks for making me feel so welcome here! Like a lot of you have said, it REALLY is fun to think back about experiences -- and it seems those elephants give us plenty of memorable things to talk about! I enjoyed reading about your escapades as well! And, yes, I'd love to send a book to South Africa or anywhere. It's kind of fun just to address a package to some new place, you know what I mean?