Category Archives: Guest Author

H.G. FERGUSON–AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT

Today I welcome back H.G. Ferguson as he answer some tough questions.

What genre(s) do you write in and why?

Horror and what I call “fantasy/horror historical.”  Horror is straight-up monsters, ghosts, things that go bump in the night — no demons, spirits or angels here, sorry.  Too many things are being called “horror” today both inside and outside of the Christian community.  Angels/demons/spiritual warfare is not horror.  Nor are stories that glorify evil, explore perversity and emphasize torture to such an extent it would disgust anyone, regardless of their views on faith.  For me, horror means monsters.  Jezebelle is as much a monster as she is a ghost, for example.   If there are demons or the devil, they need to remain in the background.  The focus is not on an invisible entity but on that THING smashing its way from a long-buried tomb to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting, sleepy little hamlet below.  Oops.

Fantasy/horror historical takes traditional elements of both the fantasy tale and the historical novel and pours in a generous helping of horror for both flavor and atmosphere.  My vampire tale New Blood falls into this category, set in French and Indian War Pennsylvania.  Another tale is set in a fantasy world using Eastern rather than Western Europe as its cultural model (Medieval Russia and its environs), but the bad things are undead creatures and hideous blendings of man and beast run amok, not orcs, trolls and Black Riders under other names.

And why do I write these things?  I write these things because if I do not, who will?

Or better yet…who is?

What is your “go to” routine that helps you get in the mood to write? Special beverage? Music? Etc.

Music.  When I hear music, I see things.  When I hear music, the emotional requirement of scenes and events seizes my mind and heart.  Every single story has its own “soundtrack” of inspiration I have culled from my own extensive personal collection of film and TV scores.  The music of Hans Zimmer, Jerry Goldsmith, James Newton Howard and Thomas Newman can be “heard” in Jezebelle. 

What can your readers expect from you next?

As yet untitled, but…

1855 Northern England, near the border of Scotland.  A place with a long and colorful history of strange events and even stranger legends.  The Hidden Folk, Mother Eve’s Unwashed Children, stir in the hinterlands as an ancient evil wakens.  Charlotte, a young woman with an past she cannot remember comes to work as an amanuensis at a secluded country manor, ruled over by a fine and noble gentleman whose mysterious wife goes about obscured beneath a veil and long sleeves and gloves and takes all her meals in privacy.  And when this awakening evil stretches forth its hand against this house, its Lord and Lady, and in particular against Charlotte, thrusting her into a nightmare beyond imagination from her unremembered childhood, can even the love of a dour, tormented groundskeeper save her?

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A native of Southeast Alabama now at home in Phoenix, Arizona, H.G. Ferguson has always loved the strange, the unnerving, the horrifying — in short, looking at things that go bump in the night, particularly monsters, outside the box.  A connoisseur of classic horror both literary and cinematic, he floods his writing with originality, creativity and a passion for Truth —  even when shrouded in shadows, like a candle flickering in a mortuary window.  H.G. is the author of New Blood, and his latest release, Jezebelle, comes out October 31 at Amazon.com

H.G. FERGUSON–TO RESEACH HIS OWN…I MEAN RESEARCH

This week I am thrilled to host author H.G. Ferguson as he shares some insight into his research process and how he incorporates that into the story without turning the book into a non-fiction info dump.

For a writer, regardless of genre or subject matter, research is critical.  But it is ever so critical (to quote Jezebelle) for writers of historical novels and stories to craft their tales as close to “historical accuracy” as possible.  French and Indian War British soldiers did not use bolt-action rifles, for example.  And even seasoned “giants” in the field can sometimes crash and burn, as when an unidentified bestselling romance novel author sets her story in 1811 and employs a drug in it that was not even discovered until 1836…

 

This does not mean every single thing must be perfect.  That’s impossible, as horror and historical novelist Robert R. McCammon pointed out.  In his Matthew Corbett tales set in early 18th century New York, he tells us he had to cut corners somewhere, and he did it with money to avoid confusing the reader due to the overwhelming variations in currency at that time.  But his depictions of dress, atmosphere and “feel” of that period are off the charts.  It can be done!

 

I am primarily a visual rather than a literary person.  That means I learn best visually.  And it is also the way I conduct most of my research into stories, whether contemporary or historical.  For Jezebelle I drew upon photos and artistic representations of antebellum southern belles, both from extant sources and contemporary re-enactors.  I also studied closely models, actors, actresses and performers in various media who suggested and/or exemplified certain qualities I sought in the characters.

 

I also paid very close attention to the antebellum portion of the immortal Gone With The Wind starring Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable in order to absorb the “feel” of that time and place so excellently evoked in that movie — the manners, the coquettish flirtation, the vanity, not just of Miss Scarlet but everyone.  I tried to “soak up” as much of the atmosphere and blend it into my story where appropriate.  Ten minutes spent on an accurate visual portrayal of these kinds of things is more effective — for me — than ten hours poring over “Daily Life in X Y and Z for Writers.”  The flip side of that is when I watched the 1992 The Last of the Mohicans for another story — 25 times.  Kid. You. Not.

 

I also draw upon my own experiences in what I write.  My father was stationed at Napier Field, Alabama during WWII and personally encountered German POWs set to work in the cotton fields.  This found its way into Jezebelle.  In 2003 while visiting my ancestral homeland I personally witnessed, in the heart of what was once a bastion of intolerance, a biracial couple in a restaurant just having a meal and enjoying undisturbed each other’s company.  This too appears in my story.  Local color, local texture.  Above all, truth.

 

And that’s the key to research.  Find the truth.  And tell it!

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A native of Southeast Alabama now at home in Phoenix, Arizona, H.G. Ferguson has always loved the strange, the unnerving, the horrifying — in short, looking at things that go bump in the night, particularly monsters, outside the box.  A connoisseur of classic horror both literary and cinematic, he floods his writing with originality, creativity and a passion for Truth —  even when shrouded in shadows, like a candle flickering in a mortuary window.  H.G. is the author of New Blood, and his latest release, Jezebelle, comes out October 31 at Amazon.com

 

The Thrill of Discovery in Research

Today our featured guest is Marilyn Turk, author of historical fiction and lover of all things history. She is sharing her favorite topic–discovering the story and the characters.

Read on to the end, as Marilyn will be giving away a free copy of her book.

Marilyn says:

People often ask me about the creative process for the story I’ve written, particularly, how I came up with the idea for the story.

My answer is: I didn’t. As a Christian writer who seeks God’s will in my writing, I believe God leads to me find the story, to discover it. I live near the beach and sometimes, I see people with metal detectors scanning the sand to find buried treasure, or more accurately these days, someone’s jewelry that got lost. I feel like finding a story is discovering the treasure lying beneath.

Or I relate to an archaeologist who digs below the soil to find civilizations long since forgotten. How exciting it must be to find the remains of a home, then a village, of people who lived in the past.

As a historical writer, I’m the archaeologist looking for lost stories of people long ago. The more I find out about a historical period or setting, the more I know about the people who lived during that time. And as I discover what their lives were like, I discover their stories.

The research is the most fun because I’m fascinated by information and little known facts I’d never been aware of before. I’m so excited when I find some tidbit or gem that will produce interesting details in the lives of my characters.

In my research for The Gilded Curse, for example, finding out about the history of Jekyll Island and its exclusive “Millionaires Club” was intriguing, introducing me to a world of yesteryear where affluent people once roamed a small island off the coast of Georgia. Some of America’s wealthiest and most famous individuals – Pulitzer, Goodyear, Rockefeller and Vanderbilt, to name a few – escaped to the island during the cold New England winters to play. The “gilded” society during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s brought all the comforts of home with them as they maintained their social lifestyle on a smaller scale.

But the Great Depression and World Wars changed the wealth and the climate of the country, and the gilded generation disappeared, along with their wealth and prestige.

Then along came my character Alexandra Smithfield, the last heir of one of those families. When Lexie returned to the island ten years after her family had left when she was a child, she discovered that in many ways, the island had changed. And in other ways, it had stayed the same. The Gilded Curse is Lexie’s story about what she finds out and how it will affect her life.

I hope you enjoy finding out with her.

Here is a short description of the book:

In 1942, Lexie Smithfield becomes the only heir to her family’s dwindling fortune after her brother is killed at Pearl Harbor. A mysterious telegram beckons her back to Jekyll Island. Ten years before, the family quit coming to the exclusive Millionaire’s Club after tragic events convinced her mother the island was cursed. Club Superintendent Russell Thompson knows the truth, but he swore never to tell. Will he and Lexie discover the real danger before it’s too late? Check out the book on Amazon at: http://amzn.to/1pkiaNJ

To enter to win a free copy of the book, leave a comment along with your email address, and we’ll enter your name in a drawing.

Marilyn Turk has been published in Guideposts magazine, Guideposts books – A Joyful Heart and A Cup of Christmas Cheer, The Upper Room, Clubhouse Jr. Magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and Lighthouse Digest magazine. Her Coastal Lights Legacy series features stories set around lighthouses. Her book, Lighthouse Devotions was published in 2015. Her weekly lighthouse blog can be found at www.pathwayheart.com. She lives in Florida with husband Chuck and enjoys boating, fishing, tennis, and gardening when she’s not climbing lighthouses or playing with her grandsons.

Nuggets of Writing Gold

Co-written with Leeann Betts: Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays and articles on the writing life and journey, full of nuggets of ideas and helps for writers at any stage of their career. Topics include the passion to write, making time for writing, organization, editing, dialogue, and a resource section. Available at Amazon.com Learn more.

Donna

Awaken~A Paula Moldenhauer Devotional

Guest Post from the author of Soul Scents: Awaken  

Ten Years and It’s Still True

Paula awaken

What I found was joyously stunning.

Recently I read through hundreds of devotionals I’d written over a span of more than ten years. I was deciding which devotional thoughts I wanted to include my latest book project, Soul Scents ~ A Journey in the Son’s Embrace, which offers four volumes of devotional reading: Awaken, Rooted, Bloom, and Flourish. As I read, made my choices, and edited my heart rejoiced because I still believed it all.

The journey of the last ten years has been arduous, but the glorious truths our sweet Savior taught me along the way stand the test of time.

I may have been naïve in 2004 before the big storms hit. Back then I wrote in wonder as I absorbed new understanding of who Jesus is.  I may not have understood how deeply the concepts I penned would be tested. I certainly didn’t understand what I was praying as I offered my thoughts of praise and surrender, nor did I guess how God would take me at my word.

But I’m delighted to report it’s all true.

I edited word counts and clunky sentences, but the foundational concepts which I so naively typed many years ago needed no revision. And guess what? The devotionals I penned a few weeks ago are again written in wonder as I “absorb new understanding of who Jesus is.”

In 2004 I invited readers to go with me on a journey into the heart of Jesus. I declared we’d never run out of places to discover, and we never have. He shows us glimpses of His character then allows life experiences to solidify the understanding of the insight. Over time He takes initial understanding deeper and reveals new wonders of His Person.

To be vulnerable, our family rode some difficult waters after the earlier devotionals were written. In spring of 2015 I tried to write about the really hard years, but I often dissolved into tears at the computer.

The Lord called me away from those efforts and invited me to spend time with Him. I journaled, did some more Bible study in the Song of Solomon, and rested. Truth be told I spent a lot of time talking to my plants last summer! And the Lord, always the Healer, did what He does best and healed me.

In the fall the Lord released me back into focusing on development of Soul Scents. I wasn’t really surprised (although I was very pleased) when those months of seeking God resulted in devotions for volumes 3 & 4 of this collection. Even though I believed I was not productive last year, I was writing the rest of this series without knowing it.

I love how organic that is.

I’m excited to offer fellow travelers a year’s journey in the Son’s embrace. It begins with volume 1, Soul Scents: Awaken, and continues with a new devotional book releasing each quarter of 2016.

Soul Scents: Awaken is available on Kindle and in print. 

 

Bio:

Paula headshot

Author, speaker, and mom of four, Paula Moldenhauer encourages others to be released into full potential through freedom in Christ and the empowerment of God’s grace. Published over 300 times in non-fiction markets, her first devotional book series, Soul Scents, releases in four volumes beginning with Soul Scents: Awaken. Paula’s first two novels released in 2012. Sometimes empty-nesters, Paula and her husband, Jerry, enjoy four adult children and a wonderful son-in-law. Paula loves peppermint ice cream, walking barefoot and talking to her flowers. For inspirational articles, book information, and speaking topics visit: www.paulamoldenhauer.com

There Was a Crooked Man

There Was a Crooked Man, book 2 in the By The Numbers series – join Carly Turnquist, forensic accountant, as she travels with husband Mike on a working vacation to a dude ranch in New Mexico – working for him, vacation for her. However, she can’t even get off the plane before she spies out a suspicious death, and Mike knows he’s in for trouble because she can’t turn off her mystery detection sensor. At the ranch, veiled innuendoes, an obviously frightened ranch owner, missing ranch stock and inventory, and a mysterious message in a Bible give Carly lots of fodder for her imagination, but when a murder happens and all the suspects are trapped due to a huge snowstorm, things turn dangerous for everyone. Can Carly identify the killer, or will he—or she—succeed yet again? Available at Amazon.com Learn more.

Soul Scents: Awaken

Guest Post from the author of Soul Scents: Awaken 

God’s timing: Terrible or Perfect?

Paula awaken

“It’s all about God’s timing—and honestly, God’s timing is typically terrible,” my nineteen-year old son said as we talked yesterday.

We laughed, but I get it. Life can feel like one long waiting game, especially when you catch a glimpse of where you want to be in the future and discover the journey there is longer than you dreamed.

But this week I’m standing in the glorious position of experiencing (not just believing by faith) the perfection of God’s timing.

I’ve dreamed of publishing a devotional book for many years. Last January I believed God released me to get serious about it. I’ve published both traditionally and non-traditionally with good experiences, but this collection was so intimate I wanted to publish it myself. I compiled devotionals I’d written over the years and began penning new ones, hoping to release for 2016.

That’s when it got rough. Writing about spiritual discoveries of recent years required digging deeper into a seven year period where life was really tough for my family. Instead of making progress I found myself sobbing at the computer. Eventually, I sensed God leading me away for healing time alone with Him. For several months instead of feeling like a productive author I curled up with my journal and some Bible study material, asking Him to give me insight into the journey we’d traveled. As winter turned to spring and summer I chose quiet days over work. Sometimes I prayed and processed. Some days I took walks and talked to my flowers!

And I healed.

Then fall came. I felt released to work again. Wouldn’t you know it? Suddenly writing devotions was almost effortless. Even stories of the hard times were no longer painful to tell. It didn’t surprise me my “unproductive healing season” was actually full of writing I now shaped to share with others.

Still, I assumed the “time off” meant my year devotional would release in 2017 instead of 2016 as I’d hoped.

That was before God swooped in and moved at a breathless pace.

Less than a month ago I suddenly realized the word count on the project was too much for one book. What I actually worked on was four separate volumes which collectively offer a year of devotions—and book one needed very little editing to be ready for publication. The same day I pondered this I “happened” to have a conversation with novelist Lisa Samson. When she learned I was working on a devotional collection she offered to design the artwork for it. She is launching a new art company which offers original illustrations, adult coloring pages, and other unique designs under the brand Lisa-Joy

Within 48 hours of this conversation, the Lord put together a talented creative team—artwork, book cover, editing, proofreading, formatting, and business consultant–who were committed to seeing the book to completion. Less than three weeks later we uploaded it to Amazon’s Kindle for a pre-launch celebration. The print version releases by Christmas! I’m still stunned to think my dream of offering others a devotional journey for 2016 has come true. I call it as my Christmas miracle.

And that’s why, at least today, God’s timing feels absolutely perfect.

Soul Scents: Awaken is available now on Kindle and in print. 

Bio:

Paula headshot

Author, speaker, and mom of four, Paula Moldenhauer encourages others to be released into full potential through freedom in Christ and the empowerment of God’s grace. Published over 300 times in non-fiction markets, her first devotional book series, Soul Scents, releases in four volumes beginning with Soul Scents: Awaken. Paula’s first two novels released in 2012. Sometimes empty-nesters, Paula and her husband, Jerry, enjoy four adult children and a wonderful son-in-law. Paula loves peppermint ice cream, walking barefoot and talking to her flowers. For inspirational articles, book information, and speaking topics visit: www.paulamoldenhauer.com

Second Cups and Second Chances Contest

I am a guest author on Sarah Ruut’s blog.

Do you ever wish you could have a do-over? Sometimes I’d like to start the day over. Sometimes the week. Sometimes the month…lol Whether things seem to fall apart around us or we’ve made a series of bad choices, wouldn’t it be nice to go back and do things different? Today we have the privilege of meeting Donna Schlachter, who I think understands that feeling… She is the author of Second Chances and Second Cups. Before we begin, here’s a quick summary of her book. Learn more.

Donna

No Accounting For Murder Contest

Leeann Betts is running a contest on her site through Monday, December 21. The prize is a $10 gift card and it’s a pretty easy contest to participate in.

Hop on over there by clicking here.

Donna

KILLING TRAIL: A TIMBER CREEK K-9 MYSTERY Part Five

Today is the final in a series of posts with Author Margaret Mizushima and Agent Terrie Wolf.

Release day in the life of an author is a very important day. KILLING TRAIL: A TIMBER CREEK K-9 MYSTERY is available now!

Author Margaret Mizushima and agent Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management answer questions about their affiliation and the book KILLING TRAIL: A TIMBER CREEK K-9 MYSTERY to be released on December 8, 2015 by Crooked Lane Books.

KillingTrail

What makes a strong author/agent relationship?

Margaret: As in any business relationship, communication and mutual respect are key. It’s important for teammates to have an equal exchange of talking and listening to assure they understand one another and arrive at mutual goals. This has been easy with Terrie, because she has excellent communication skills. Mutual respect is self-explanatory, but when it comes to specifics for an author/agent relationship, respecting an agent’s time is critical. An agent has many clients and must budget time accordingly. Don’t waste it.

Terrie:  My father always told me to stick with people you admire since they could teach you a little something about a lot of everything. So it is with Margaret. Not only do I admire her, but for everything I may have helped her learn, she’s taught me a little something (or a big something) in return. We like one another and as she mentioned, we trust one another. I can proudly relate that Margaret has taken the role of author seriously and we both believe in her mission. She meets her goals, welcomes insight, and wants to excel in every component of her business. We’ve developed a nice cadence and I can tell you the rejections, revisions, setbacks, personal losses and trials pale in comparison to the sense of elation I feel for Margaret. We have a long walk ahead of us, and that suits us well.

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Bio

Margaret Mizushima is the author of Killing Trail: A Timber Creek K-9 Mystery to be released December 8, 2015 by Crooked Lane Books. After earning a master’s degree in speech pathology, Margaret practiced in a hospital and her own rehabilitation agency, and now she assists her husband with their veterinary clinic and Angus cattle herd. Her short story “Hay Hook” was published in the 2014 Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers anthology Crossing Colfax. She enjoys reading and hiking and lives in Colorado on a small farm where she and her husband raised two daughters and a multitude of animals. She can be found on Facebook/AuthorMargaretMizushima, on Twitter @margmizu, and on her website at www.margaretmizushima.com.