February 2018 New Releases
More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.
A Passionate Hope, Hannah’s Story by Jill Eileen Smith — Hannah has spent her life trusting God, loving her husband, putting up with abuse from a second wife and still she has no child–until one day she discovers the secret to her own heart’s longings and rejoices in what will soon become God’s promised hope. (Biblical from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)
Focus On Love by Candee Fick — In the standalone sequel to Dance Over Me, photographer-turned-actress Liz meets a freelancer who has put his career on hold, but when Ryan shows her what true love is all about, her life may never be the same. (Contemporary Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
Love by the Numbers by Laura V. Hilton — When false allegations by the bishop back home catch up with Lydia and threaten to ruin her reputation, can she clear her name and find lasting happiness? Or will her sunny disposition fade away into heartbreak? (Contemporary Romance from Whitaker House)
This Treacherous Journey by Misty M. Beller — Widowed and with child, Emma Malcom is fleeing arrest. Innocent of her husband’s crimes, she and her brother hope to make it through the Rockies to Canada for a clean start. When a city woman, heavy with child, appears on Simeon Grant’s doorstep with her injured brother, her presence resurrects memories he’s worked hard to forget. Widowed and childless because of his own bad choices, can he overcome the past that haunts him to give her the safety she needs? Will Emma break through the walls around Simeon’s heart before it’s too late, or will the dangers of these mountains be the end of them all? (Historical Romance, ACFW Qualified Independently Published)
The Lost Castle by Kristy Cambron — Ellie Carver arrives at her grandmother’s bedside expecting to find her silently slipping away. Instead, the beloved woman speaks of a secret past and castle ruins. Of a hidden chapel that served as a rendezvous for the French Resistance in World War II. Of lost love and deep regret . . . But her grandmother suffers from Alzheimer’s, and Ellie must act fast if she wants to uncover the truth of her family’s history. Drawn by the mystery surrounding The Sleeping Beauty—a castle so named for Charles Perrault’s beloved fairy tale—Ellie embarks on a journey to France’s Loire Valley to unearth its secrets before time silences them forever. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
The English Lieutenant’s Lady by Evelyn M. Hill — I’m not your enemy.” He held her gaze, willing her to believe the lie. It’s 1845. Britain and America both claim the Oregon Territory, and neither side is willing to back down. To survive, British Lieutenant Geoffrey Montgomery and American Lia Griggs both are pretending to be someone they’re not. The last thing either of them wants is to fall in love. And as the threat of war grows stronger, choosing to stay together could cost them everything they have. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)
The Widow of Rose Hill by Michelle Shocklee — Widowed during the war, Southern slave owner Natalie Ellis strikes a bargain with a Union Colonel to save her plantation and her son’s inheritance: in exchange for use of her family’s property, the army will provide workers to bring in her cotton crop. Natalie Ellis is everything Colonel Levi Maish loathes: a Southern slave owner. But the plight of the beautiful Widow Ellis stirs to life his compassion and the heart he’d thought hardened by war. While the army camps on her land, Levi finds himself contemplating a future with Natalie and Samuel. But when he learns where her husband perished during the war, he knows a life with Natalie is impossible. How could she ever forgive him for what he’d done in battle on the banks of the Bull Run? (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)
The Sea Before Us by Sarah Sundin — As D-day approaches, an American naval officer and a British Wren work together on invasion plans. But if he succeeds, will he destroy what she loves most? (Historical Romance from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)
Across the Blue by Carrie Turansky — A determined young aviator who strives to be the first to fly across the English Channel also longs to win the heart of an aspiring journalist who is secretly covering the race across the Channel. (Historical Romance from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])
The Mail-Order Brides Collection by Megan Besing, Noelle Marchand, Donna Schlachter, Sherri Shackelford, Michelle Shocklee, Ann Shorey, Liz Tolsma, Jennifer Uhlarik, and Kathleen Y’Barbo — Nine advertisements for brides lead to inconvenient complications in romance. Traveling west alone on a promise of marriage, each woman has her reasons to accept a husband sight unseen. Some are fleeing poverty or abuse while others simply seek hope for a brighter future. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)
High Treason by DiAnn Mills — CIA Operative Monica Alden and FBI Special Agent Kord Davidson face the challenge of their careers when a Saudi Prince’s life is threatened on American soil. (Romantic Suspense from Tyndale House)
As the ballistics and weapon’s expert for the FBI’s special task force nicknamed the White Knights, Rick Cannon has known the Department of Defense was developing self-steering bullets and feared their effects in the hands of the wrong people. Now his fear is coming true. The ammunition been stolen, and the Knights are called in to find the thief and stop the killings. When therapist Olivia Dobbs discovers one of her military clients moments after he is murdered, she becomes both the FBI’s prime witness, and suspect. But with a sniper now training his rifle on her, Rick must recall all the skills he learned as a Marine sniper to make sure the next bullet fired isn’t a kill shot that takes Olivia out. (Romantic Suspense from Faith Words [Hachette])
The Man He Never Was by James L. Rubart — In this fresh take on the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, James L. Rubart explores the war between the good and evil within each of us—and one man’s only chance to overcome the greatest divide of the soul. (Supernatural Thriller from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)
Today I’m happy to welcome author Ann Shorey as she shares about her story in the Mail Order Brides Collection.
Some of my readers know that I’ve often used my family’s history as a source for inspiration in writing my novels. For instance, The Edge of Light uses many details from the life of one of my great-great aunts. In The Promise of Morning, I went to my great-great grandparents’ lives for the storyline. The rest of my novels all contain tiny bits of family lore as well.
The takeaway here for new writers goes beyond “write what you know” to “write what you can find out.” What I know isn’t always a whole lot, but with an inquiring mind and a willingness to dig a little, I’ve learned that there is a world of story material out there, waiting to be pressed into a manuscript.
So, moving forward to my most recent publication, The Mail-Order Brides Collection from Barbour Publishing— here’s a bit of background for my contribution, “Miss-Delivered Mail.”
As far as I know there are no mail-order brides in my family history, so that part is fiction. But in “Miss-Delivered Mail,” the main character finds herself in Washington Territory in the 1880’s, where she meets the Halliday family. I chose this setting because the “Hallidays” in this novella are my great-grandparents. They are not the main characters, but they play an important role in the story. In real life, they homesteaded in eastern Washington in the 1880’s, settling there in the Coulee breaks long before the Grand Coulee Dam was ever imagined. Many of the descriptions of their lives and surroundings come straight from my grandfather’s memoirs.
So, now that you’re armed with insider information, I wish you happy reading! I hope you’ll enjoy “Miss-Delivered Mail,” as well as the other eight excellent novellas in The Mail-Order Brides Collection.
About her book: (Included in the Mail Order Brides Collection)
“Miss-Delivered Mail” by Ann Shorey
Helena Erickson impulsively decides to take advantage of her brother’s deception and travels to Washington Territory in response to a proposal of marriage intended for someone else.
The Mail-Order Brides Collection can be purchased from your local bookstore, or online at the following sites:
ANN SHOREY is the author of the At Home in Beldon Grove and Sisters at Heart series. She also has novellas included in the Sincerely Yours and The Oregon Trail Romance collections. Ann and her husband make their home in southwestern Oregon.
Today I’m happy to welcome author Georgia Ruth Wilson as she shares insights into her writing inspiration.
At a December wedding in Ft. Lauderdale last month, a stranger came up to me and said, “I hear you’re a writer. Have you ever written something that took you totally out of your comfort zone?” I proceeded to give him a synopsis of an unpublished short story about a granny witch in the Appalachians. His mouth dropped open. He said, “That’s not the answer I expected,” and beat a hasty retreat.
What did he expect? I am a writer.
In retrospect, I think he was fishing for a repeat of my experience in writing Lost Legend of Vahilele, a vision I had shared with a new relative at this wedding. And she passed it on! What did I expect? It’s a great story! But Vahilele was not out of my comfort zone. On the contrary, I feel very connected to this island. Vahilele is the ancient name for the Fijian island of Vatulele, my favorite place I have never visited but know instinctively. I’ll let my website page tell you about my journey in writing this book, about my vision of a Polynesian native who consumed my imagination.
I have been writing fiction for more than ten years and several of my stories have been published since moving to the foothills of the North Carolina mountains. In fact, I find my new neighbors inspirational. They have a deep connection with basic values, not with political correctness. They will “tell me true.” I was asked by one friend to record the stories of her brother who was at home in hospice care, and I posted them on my blog. I wrote about another neighbor’s long lineage back to Wales where an ancestral castle still stands. I am blessed to be invited to their family reunion every year.
Last year I was asked to write the biography of a local man who had spent his 88 years on the same intersection of two main roads. Highway 70 used to be a bustling east-west corridor past his house, and his father built a restaurant and the area’s first motel, stone cottages that now are sadly deteriorated. The interstate in the 60s changed the commerce of the entire county. He shared his history, including the frequent restaurant patronage of Billy Graham and his family. I felt honored to tell the Pete Gibbs story in The Bear Hunter’s Son.
Also last year, I collected four of my short stories in It Could Have Happened Like This, historical fiction highlighting major events in McDowell County. Two of them were based on local legends, and two highlighted catastrophic influences on past generations. The devastating flood of 1916 is the background story for a previously published murder mystery, “Dead Man Hanging.” I took the liberty of using an historical character as a fictional detective. Sergeant Daniel Kanipe was one of two survivors of the Little Big Horn. He lived in my little bitty town, Marion, NC. For real. Another event that received national attention was the deadly textile strike of 1929, a labor dispute that echoes in today’s violence of conflicting opinions. I told this sad story through the eyes of a young adult in “Summer of Dynamite.”
This year I am continuing work on a ten-year project that will now be a trilogy, if not a series, because the characters are all clamoring for a spotlight. My first setting is a fictional jewelry store in Knoxville, TN, and my first main character is a widow with a biracial four-year-old son. I was in the jewelry industry for fifteen years, at four different companies. Before that, I managed my family’s restaurant. Like my vision of the Polynesian native, many complex characters and intriguing experiences have crossed my path.
Nothing gives me more pleasure than sitting in my recliner with computer, in total silence, looking out the loft windows at Grandfather Mountain, remaking old stories and creating new ones. Stop by www.georgiaruthwrites.us and say hello. I’ll post a photo of a Fiji scene if you have one to share from your visit there.
Lost Legend of Vahilele
By G.R. Wilson
1950: The Storyteller
As evening shadows gather on the island of Vahilele, so do barefoot children eager to listen to this aged wise woman with piercing gaze and unruly silver-spun hair. My bronze arm stretches forward to stir the embers in the center of our circle. My tales stretch backward, the oral history of my tribe. Our future depends upon the lessons of the past.
“Deep within the long ago passage of man’s turbulent Dark Ages, the gods conspired to bring two worlds together. One world would end. We must never forget this story. It is our past and our present. Listen carefully, my little ones.”
They quiet in my presence, watching a tiny flame erupt as I ignite a beacon to guide them back to a crossroads in our history. “While war was waged in faraway lands, Muslims against Persians, Greeks against Romans, Saxons against Welsh, our little Fiji yanuyanu was isolated and unconcerned with worldly events.
“Our ancestors from Vanuatu in the west had braved unknown seas and settled on Vahilele with a desire to live in harmony, but they could not escape the tentacles of other societies that threatened to suffocate our independent culture. Royalty was held in high esteem because these leaders were thought to have direct contact with the tribal gods that brought the forces of nature together for good.
“Hundreds of years ago in Na Koro, the central village on our island back then, many huts of palm branches and bamboo clustered around a grassy clearing worn down to sand and clay by generations of brown feet imprinting a legacy.
“One day, a trading canoe returned from a neighboring Fiji island. The crew was very weak, and reported that many on nearby Viti Levu were sick and dying. They were thankful to get home. But they had brought smallpox back with them, and within a few weeks, hundreds of their tribe perished, including the king and queen of Vahilele.
“Their daughter Lapita was known for her beauty and gentle spirit. Her marriage to the High Priest had been broadly celebrated, and the birth of their son was a beacon of nui taka, the future. But the people were resentful that the power of royalty could not convince the gods to spare them in this attack by an unseen foe. They lost faith and hope. Many directed their anger and frustration at their remaining leaders, Lapita and her brother Tavale.”
Carefully considering my words, I sip my yaqona, our Fijian coffee, nectar of the gods. I wait for a latecomer to get settled, and then I continue. “One day a worse peril came to our shore. There was a conflict of wisdom. Our island vosa flowed naturally like air and water because we were a peaceable people. Other languages had many words for trouble.”
Through dusk and into darkness the youngsters absorb The Story. I weave a tapestry of oral tradition with my words and gestures, striving to vividly portray the personalities of the makawa, the ancient ones. As their mothers and fathers did before them, every child internalizes his own vision. Each one hears the same words but imagines different faces performing in their own minds, as I change my voice for each character. The story never ceases to mesmerize and inspire its listeners. The Story is borne on the wind. Forever.
Back to 650 A.D.
A deathly stillness surrounded young Siga as she walked the path to the Bure Kalou, the island’s temple. No island breeze stirred the fragrant hibiscus nor the elegant palm branches. She could not even smell the smoke from the great funeral pyre on the beach. It was as though the gods ceased to breathe upon Vahilele.
The royal family had not the power to save themselves. They had been afflicted with the pox one by one, as had hundreds of others. If the gods showed them no mercy, what chance did her mother have? Yet she had whispered that Siga must take water and comfort to Princess Lapita.
“Her son is the last of the royal family. She must be strong to care for him.” Nana struggled with her words, and Siga did not want to cause her mother more anguish. Although she did not understand why a small prince deserved her care when she could be helping her mother whose blood also ran from ancient veins, Siga obeyed.
Today I’m happy to welcome author Michelle Shocklee as she shares about her story in the Mail Order Brides Collection.
In To Heal Thy Heart, my novella in The Mail-Order Brides Collection, Phoebe Wagner travels from her home in Kansas City to the rugged New Mexico Territory to meet the stranger she intends to marry. But in 1866, train travel was not yet available in that part of the country, so Phoebe—or any mail-order bride of that day—would have been left with little choice. She must board a dusty, uncomfortable stagecoach for the 700-plus mile journey that would take nearly two weeks, assuming they didn’t encounter problems with the coach, the horses, or the weather. Luke, her intended groom, would have paid approximately $250 for her fare, and the route she would have taken is the famous Santa Fe Trail.
From 1821, the Santa Fe Trail served as a trade route between the United States and Mexico. Settlers used it as well, often facing terrifying situations including attacks from various Indian tribes, brutal weather conditions, and swollen rivers. But like Luke and Phoebe, those early settlers were willing to take the risks in order to be part of something new and fresh and exciting.
Growing up in Santa Fe, New Mexico, I often heard stories about the Santa Fe Trail. My family took many drives up the trail, now a highway, passing the same tree-covered hills and grassy fields as those brave pioneers. Even as a child my imagination ran wild, and I’d wonder about the people who traveled in wagons whose wheel ruts are still visible in some places. Who were they and what drove them to leave their homes and loved ones to come to a wild, untamed land?
Although Phoebe and Luke’s story is fiction, I would not doubt that many mail-order brides took to the Santa Fe Trail in search of true love. Did they find it?
About her book: (Included in the Mail Order Brides Collection)
To Heal Thy Heart by Michelle Shocklee
1866, New Mexico
When Phoebe Wagner answers a mail-order bride ad that states Confederate widows need not apply, she worries what Dr. Luke Preston will do when he learns her fiancé died wearing gray.
Purchase from your local bookseller or online at:
Christian Book Distributors: https://www.christianbook.com/brides-collection-historical-stories-marriage-precedes/megan-besing/9781683224440/pd/224442?product_redirect=1&Ntt=224442&item_code=&Ntk=keywords&event=ESRCP
Michelle Shocklee is the author of The Planter’s Daughter and The Widow of Rose Hill, the first two books in the historical romance series The Women of Rose Hill. She has stories in numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul books and writes an inspirational blog. With both her sons grown, she and her husband of thirty-plus years enjoy poking around historical sites, museums, and antique stores near their home in Tennessee. Connect with her at www.MichelleShocklee.com
Coming up with likeable yet flawed characters is always a struggle. I find my first draft is usually full of perfect people who always get it right, or else they are so flawed, nobody likes them. Then I have to go back in and tell myself that nobody is this good and they need at least one little thing they need to fix, or there’s no story. Or I have to temper all their issues with at least one redeeming feature.
For Mary Johannson, she had so many good traits—hard worker, thinks of others before herself, obedient, loving—yet the scars on her neck and arm from a fire she survived as a child constantly remind her that nobody could possibly love her. The years in the orphanage fed that lie, as she was passed over time and again for adoption. The opportunity to marry, sight unseen, seems the answer to her problems. And even better, a covenant marriage for twelve years or so, nothing expected except to raise this stranger’s children. Then she would be free to go wherever she wanted. Not that she had anywhere to go.
For John Stewart, he’s another good person that bad things happened to. His wife died, leaving him with two young daughters to raise. He has so many good traits, too—loving father, loving husband, industrious, loyal—so why did God abandon him? Why didn’t the Almighty choose to answer his prayers? And if not his, why not answer his wife’s? She loved God right to the end. Convinced he will never love again, yet he knows he needs help with his children. A covenant marriage seems perfect. No love. No intimacy. Just duty. Kind of like his relationship with God.
These characters both believe a lie—Mary’s that nobody could see past her scars, and John’s that he has had the one love of his life. We all believe a lie about ourselves. It might have to do with our past, with our present, or even with the bleak outlook for our future. What I hope readers will take away about this story is that God is bigger than our past, bigger than our mistakes, and has great plans for us.
1895, Train to California
John Stewart needs a wife. Mary Johannson needs a home. On her way west, Mary falls in love with another. Now both must choose between commitment and true love.
Mary Johannson has scars on her body that can’t compare with the scars on her heart. She is alone in the world, with no family, no prospects, and no home.
John Stewart is at his wit’s end. His wife of three years died in childbirth, leaving him with a toddler and an infant, both girls. Theirs was the love of fairy tales, and while he has no illusions about finding another like her, his children need a mother.
Though separated by thousands of miles, they commit to a mail-order marriage. But on their journey to Heartbreak, they meet another and realize the life they’d planned would be a lie. Can they find their way back from the precipice and into the love of God and each other, or are they destined to keep their word and deny their heart?
Buy link: http://amzn.to/2Cur1I4
Donna lives in Denver with husband Patrick, her first-line editor and biggest fan. She writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts. She is a hybrid publisher who has published a number of books under her pen name and under her own name. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters In Crime; facilitates a local critique group, and teaches writing classes and courses. Donna is also a ghostwriter and editor of fiction and non-fiction, and judges in a number of writing contests. She loves history and research, and travels extensively for both. Donna is proud to be represented by Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary Management.
www.HiStoryThruTheAges.com Receive a free ebook simply for signing up for our free newsletter!
Today I’m happy to welcome author Marilyn Meredith as she shares insights into her researching for her latest novel.
Many years ago, my sister did our family’s genealogy and gave all the family members a copy. While going over the facts of births, marriages and deaths, some puzzling questions arose.
First, I concentrated on my mother’s side of the family and began asking questions, but though some of my older relatives had suspicions or had heard family legends, no one really had satisfying answers. Ideas began building in my imagination, and I knew I had to do some research.
Because I enjoyed reading historical family sagas, I decided to write my own based on this genealogy. To do this, I researched all the places where the family lived and what was happening historically in the time period while they were there. This gave me a lots of ideas to use in the book, and some insights as to why things might have happened.
One of the biggest mysteries was the disappearance of a twin girl from her home in Wisconsin. No one ever knew what happened to her. My mother thought perhaps gypsies had taken her, but I couldn’t find any reference to gypsies being in the area during the time period of the occurrence. So what to do? From what I learned that was going on, I created a fictional scenario.
Of course I had no way of knowing the actual conversations that took place, but I attempted to recreate the most logical dialogue for what was happening.
Of course the closer to the present the story gets, the more it adheres to the actual happenings, though I did take some imaginative liberties in the interest of portraying a dramatic tale.
Writing this book was one of the most satisfying experiences of my writing life.
Trail to Glory was the first book of mine to be published. It is now out in a new version with a new cover.
About the book:
Based on the author’s family stories, the story follows the lives of several strong, independent women who are faced with danger, the responsibility of raising a family sometimes alone, and having to find a way to make a living on their own.
Trail to Glory is available for Kindle and in trade paperback.
First page of Trail to Glory
Mary could sense the note of frustration in the tall stranger’s voice as he spoke to Mr. Graham, the storekeeper. “Is this all you have in the way of clothing for little girls?” The dress he held in his large hands was beribboned and heavily trimmed with lace. The child he was shopping for stood beside him.
Mary smiled as she thought how inappropriate the frilly dress would be for the six or seven-year-old girl. Her straight ginger colored hair had been hacked off unevenly into a straggly bob. Her plain face was smudged with dirt and her thin body was clothed in a shirt several sizes too large, and an ill-fitting pair of overalls, one strap falling off her shoulders, pant legs rolled up above skinny ankles. The only articles of clothing which seemed to fit were on her feet—a pair of Indian moccasins.
The man was handsome in a rugged sort of way. A leather hat was jammed over thick, dark brown hair which curled above the collar of his doeskin jacket. He wore fringed pants, also made of leather, not unlike those she had seen on the Menominee, Winnebago, and Fox Sioux Indians of the area. His skin was tanned from the sun, and though he seemed disheartened at the moment, laugh lines were etched at the corners of his dark eyes. Mary guessed he was a fur trapper. The town of Woodlake, Wisconsin had begun as a small fur trading post, with Oshkosh as its closest neighbor. Mary was curious what circumstances had brought the backwoodsman to the incongruous task of shopping for a child’s clothes.
“Excuse me,” she said, surprising herself by her boldness. “Perhaps I may be of assistance.” The man turned to look at her. His smile was wide, his teeth strong and white. “Ma’am, I’d be mighty pleased with any advice you can offer. My name is William Van Vradenburg. I’m a trapper by trade—though it appears I’ll be seeking a different way to make a living now that I’m responsible for my sister here, Druscilla.”
He stuck out one of his big hands and shook Mary’s mightily. “The dresses she brought with her didn’t last long out in the woods. Besides she’s grown like a weed the past couple of months. Got the duds she’s wearing now from a farmer with a passel of boys who felt sorry for the tyke. Afraid I haven’t been any great shakes at raising this young ‘un.”
Mary responded to this outpouring with a smile, knowing instinctively the man wasn’t usually so talkative. “I’m Mary Harrington, one of the school teachers here in town. How old are you, Druscilla?”
The girl, not happy to be the object of so much attention, hid behind her brother’s leather-clad legs and murmured, “Seven, ma’am.”
“Mr. Graham, don’t you still have some of those ready-made chambray dresses like those Mrs. Otis bought for her daughters?” Mary asked.
While the storekeeper went to look for the requested items, Mary turned again to the trapper. “How long are you planning on staying in Woodlake, Mr. Van Vrandenburg?”
“If I can find a place for me and my sister to stay, I’d like to stick around at least until I find a plot of land somewhere. Guess I’ll take up farming.” Now that she knew the relationship of the child to the man, Mary was curious to hear the rest of their story. “Mrs. Brady has an empty room,” she offered. “Brady’s Boarding House—that’s where I live. When you are through with your business here, if you’d care to, you may come along with me and meet my landlady. We can see if her place would suit you. Three meals a day are included with the rent.”
“That’s mighty kind of you, Miss Harrington.
Sounds like one solution to my problems.” Mr. Graham returned with a dress nearly the right size for Druscilla. Mary held it against her and assured Mr. Van Vradenburg she could alter it to fit in a matter of minutes. She also suggested he choose some material for another garment or two, so he could hire the local dressmaker to sew others.
Marilyn Meredith is a fourth generation native Californian. The story of her remarkable ancestors contains many family legends. She is the author of many published novels including the Deputy Tempe Crabtree mysteries.
Today I’m happy to welcome author Barbara M. Britton as she shares some writing tips for 2018. Read through to the end to find out how to enter to win a copy of her book, “Jerusalem Rising”.
The new year is upon us. Many people look at January as a new beginning to life. For writers, January can be the month to edit your NaNoWriMo novel, set goals to make sure your novel grabs the attention of an editor, or continue marketing existing books. I recommend purchasing a few items in January.
My first go-to item is a small daily planner with squares for each day of the month. I place my planner on my desk right next to my computer. I note every writing related act on my planner. If I edit a chapter, it goes in a square. If I spend the day updating my social media, I note it in a square. You get the idea. The planner helps me calculate how much time I spent on reaching my dream of a finished novel. Too many blank squares and I may need to organize my life, so I continue making progress on my manuscripts. If I ever get audited by the IRS, I can show that my writing is a business and I work at it every day.
I will need computer paper and ink to draft a Writing Business Plan. What do I want to accomplish in 2018? I keep track of professional organizations and my participation in the classes they offer. What writing conferences will I attend? Am I entering contests or award competitions. This information needs to be in a document that I can update throughout the year. I also need to know what needs to be written. A manuscript needs a synopsis, possibly a proposal, a query letter, a blurb, a tagline, and whatever an agent or editor requests. I note, “need 1-2-page synopsis for ABC Book” in my plan. Throughout the year, when I finish a novel or class, or synopsis, I make sure to update my plan.
Writing a book takes money. In the beginning, you may only need to purchase paper and ink to print pages of your novel. If you write on notepads like me, you buy the pens and notepads. After a book is published, an author will need to have funds available to offer giveaways, run Facebook advertisements, and purchase swag. I recommend pre-published authors squirrel away tax refunds, or part of a paycheck in order to have funds ready to promote their book. Many authors do not receive advances, so expenses right out of the gate, are the author’s responsibility.
My publishing journey took nine years. Nine years from the day I decided to write a novel to the day my debut novel launched. What got me through the nine years? I made a point to attend local writing groups and make friends in the writing community. I also enjoyed writing my stories. Many of my books are based on Bible stories, so I relied on my faith in God to get me through those long years. I claimed Ecclesiastes 3:1, “There is a time for everything, and season for every activity under heaven.” I knew I would not be published one day later or one day sooner than God ordained. Love what you do, because a publishing contract can take a while. Find joy in the writing journey and the year will zoom by.
All the best to you in your writing pursuits in 2018!
If you’re a writer, what tips can you share with aspiring authors?
Please leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of “Jerusalem Rising.” Winner can choose their preferred format.
About the book:
When Adah bat Shallum finds the governor of Judah weeping over the crumbling wall of Jerusalem, she learns the reason for Nehemiah’s unexpected visit—God has called him to rebuild the wall around the City of David.
Nehemiah challenges the men of Jerusalem to labor on the wall and in return, the names of their fathers will be written in the annals for future generations to cherish. But Adah has one sister and no brothers. Should her father who rules a half-district of Jerusalem be forgotten forever?
Adah bravely vows to rebuild her city’s wall, though she soon discovers that Jerusalem not only has enemies outside of the city, but also within. Can Adah, her sister, and the men they love, honor God’s call? Or will their mission be crushed by the same rocks they hope to raise.
How deserted lies the city, once so full of people! How like a widow is she, who once was great among the nations! Lamentations 1:1
Seventeen-year-old Adah bat Shallum breathed deep. Deep enough to carry the pomegranate, cassia, and aloe scents from the length of her nose to the depths of her lungs. Was this fragrance a treasure or a stench? She trusted her senses. Her patience had produced a precious perfume worth several silver coins. Possibly some gold ones too. Careful not to spill a single drop, she poured her afternoon’s labor into small glazed jars, and lined them one finger length from the edge of the shelf and one thumb width apart. A piece of whittled poplar closed every opening and kept her fragrance captive.
“Adah. Judith.” The summons echoed down the street. A harsh inflection deepened her father’s voice.
She peeked through a hole in the wall—a rough-edged reminder of Nebuchadnezzar’s siege—and spied her father’s forward-leaning march. Wiping her hands on a clean rag, she scurried around the acacia wood table, a centerpiece to the small space she recently called her own. She crossed the threshold of her storeroom and hastened into the dirt lane.
Barbara M. Britton lives in Wisconsin and writes Christian Fiction for teens and adults. She has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. Barb brings little known Bible characters to light in her Tribes of Israel series. You can find out about Barb’s books on her website, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
Rock City, the fictional setting for At Home with Daffodils, my story in A Bouquet of Brides, is a made up town, but in my mind’s eye I saw the rolling hills around Parkhill, Oklahoma as I wrote. These are the same hills I roamed as a girl. I specifically picture the old general store in Qualls, Oklahoma, the same store used in the movie, Where the Red Fern Grows. I couldn’t resist naming some of my characters and landmarks with the names of real people and places from the area. I hope my friends and family back home will enjoy those nods to the actual location and real people I knew as they read. This picture shows my two youngest sons, Stephen and Sam, standing with yours truly in front of the country store, now a weekend restaurant called Jincy’s Kitchen.
Down the road from the farmhouse where I lived in northeastern Oklahoma was an old home place. You couldn’t see the building anymore, but you could see a field of daffodils (we called them jonquils) that someone planted years before. The picture below wasn’t actually taken there, but is similar to what I remember.
Every spring each year I eagerly awaited their arrival, as I did the tiny spring bluets and Virginia spring beauties that also grew in the area. After I moved to Colorado, my grandmother sent me the tiny flowers in February. She wrapped them in a damp paper towel, covered with plastic. She also sent jonquil bulbs, and so I have cheery yellow faces transplanted from Oklahoma that bloom every spring in my yard.
I hope you’ll enjoy At Home with Daffodils, set in the rolling hills of my childhood. The country is beautiful, the culture engaging, and the generous people are salt-of-the-earth. The best thing I received from those years living in the hills of northeastern Oklahoma is a relationship with Jesus. He is indeed the one who removes our shame and finishes the good work He begins in us—no matter how flawed we believe ourselves or our pasts to be.
In the collection, A Bouquet of Brides, you’ll meet seven American women who were named for various flowers but struggle to bloom where God planted them. Watch how love helps them grow to their full potential!
To celebrate the release of A Bouquet of Brides, I’m giving away a copy of the book. Enter the drawing by signing-up for my newsletter or leaving a comment on my blog during the month of January (USA readers only). Check out my website, where I have free resources and information about the Free to Flourish writing and speaking ministry.
Author, speaker, and mom of four, Paula Moldenhauer encourages others to live free to flourish. She shares this message when speaking at women’s events, and it permeates her written work. Paula has published over 300 times in non-fiction markets and has a devotional book series, Soul Scents. Her first published novella, You’re a Charmer Mr. Grinch, was a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards, and she now has six published works of fiction. Paula and her husband, Jerry, are adjusting to a sometimes-empty nest in Colorado. They treasure time with their growing family of adult children, spouses, and spouses-to-be. Paula loves peppermint ice cream, going barefoot, and adventuring with friends. Visit her at www.paulamoldenhauer.com
Today I’m happy to welcome author Sheila Ingle as she shares about the history behind her story. Read through to the end to find out how to enter to win a copy of her book, “Tales of a Cosmic Possum”.
Cotton mills in North and South Carolina hit a boom in the late nineteenth century, and hundreds of mills were built. They advertised for workers from the mountains and the farms. Employment benefits were posted, and company men visited homes to encourage families to move to the mill villages. Mill workers were promised a home, a school for their children, and a weekly pay check. For those, bound to worn-out farms, a mill village sounded like the “promised land.” They traded a lifestyle governed by the seasons to a lifestyle controlled by a mill whistle.
Adjusting to life in mill villages was not easy. Work hours were long, and the jobs were difficult. Women worked as spinners or weavers. A twelve-hour shift started at 6:00 A.M. or 6:00 P.M. Sundays were days to catch up with the garden, mending, sewing, canning, and cleaning; there were few empty hours.
Because their education was usually interrupted during third grade to start work, most women could write their names, as well as read and figure a little. As the girls stood on the edge of the spinning frames to reach the rows of spindles, their mothers modelled and taught the future cotton spinners beside them.
Would you believe that women held the majority of jobs in the textile mills? They performed the tasks that required prolonged concentration and manual dexterity.
Women walked to work and took their lunch. They wore homemade dresses, made out of feed or flour sacks, an apron, and knitted sweaters. Their white socks and solid oxfords came from the mill’s company store. In one apron pocket were scissors to cut the slubs of knotted thread and tie off the ends of the thread at their spot in the spinning room. Hankies, a box of snuff, and a wooden brush to clean their teeth were in the other pocket. Folded carefully was a paper poke on top of the handkerchiefs that held sandwiches, and perhaps an apple, for lunch.
Though the cavernous mill rooms were unheated, overhead pipes sprayed steam in the air to keep down the lint from the cotton. Twelve hours standing on their feet, breathing in lint, monotonously moving thread in a deafening roar of clacking machines was a quite a job for a girl or a woman.
Read more about women’s lives in the mill villages in my book, Tales of a Cosmic Possum.
Readers, leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win a copy of “Tales of a Cosmic Possum”.
About the book:
Tales of a Cosmic Possum is a group of short stories based on the history of eight women in my husband’s family who worked in the cotton mills of SC. They worked together in the mills, shared their gardens, attended church, and enjoyed the playing and singing of the songs from the Grand Ole Opry. When five of the brothers went off to war, those who couldn’t fight took care of their families. The Ingles stuck together, just like they were taught in the Appalachia.
“Be back directly, Tom,” Julie hollered into the house.
The weary wife shut the front door.
Locking it was unnecessary; no one secured their homes in the mill village of Cowpens, South Carolina in 1939.
Julie knew Tom didn’t notice her good-by. He missed so much, and not being able to hear isolated him. So often, she wished there was a contraption to help her husband perceive sounds again. If there were flying machines invented to fight a war, one of those smart scientists surely could create a much smaller device to amplify normal sounds. When Tom turned the radio volume up, Julie had to escape the deafening noise.
Just last year, in October of ‘38, Julie remembered how their neighbors sat and listened to that crazy actor scare half the country to death with his reading of The War of the Worlds. Sitting right next to their Philco radio on the kitchen table with the round button turned as far as it could go, Tom hung on to every word. She sat outside with their friends, the Hatchett and Thornton families, and they heard the chilling report of the Martian invasion loud and clear.
Inside the four-room house, Thomas Emory now nodded in his chair beside the stove. His father’s two canes lay beside him. On the table was a clean, orange ashtray, his tin of Sir Walter Raleigh’s tobacco, and a cup of strong, Cuban coffee. Julie bought the coffee at Dr. Till’s Drugstore; it was a special order, carried only for her veteran husband.
Sheila Ingle is a native South Carolinian. She is a graduate of Converse College and chose teaching as her profession. At USC Upstate, she taught English and education courses. Her two grandmothers instilled in her a love of history and storytelling, which led her into membership in lineage societies. Professing to be a late bloomer, she now is an author and writes about her state’s history. “Courageous Kate,” “Fearless Martha,” “Brave Elizabeth,” and “Walking With Eliza” are her four books for young readers about SC heroines during the Revolutionary War. The SCDAR awarded “Kate” a Historical Preservation Award. She enjoys leading writing workshops and speaking. “Tales of a Cosmic Possum” was chosen as a 2017 fall SIBA Okra Pick. Louise Penny, John Hart, and Jan Karon are three of her many favorite authors.
Hi everyone. I’m Suzanne Norquist, author of A Song for Rose in the Bouquet of Brides collection. If you haven’t heard of me, it is because I’m a new author. I’m honored to be in a collection with so many talented multi-published authors.
My story centers around an opera house in 1882 in the fictional mining town of Rockledge, Colorado.
With my daughter as my inspiration, I developed a character who wanted to be an opera singer. A new opera house in town would open the door for her dream to become reality. Before I researched the story, I thought the main purpose of an opera house was to host operas. That wasn’t the case. Opera houses held operas, but they served a greater purpose.
In mining towns, as well as other wild west towns, the main venue for stage-type entertainment—piano music and singing—was the brothel. When a town grew large enough and permanent enough, an opera house was built to serve the civilized ladies and gentlemen. The term “opera house” distinguished the entertainment venue from the brothels.
Although called an opera house, the theater hosted all kinds of entertainment—opera, musical theater, plays, vaudeville, and wild west shows. Traveling troupes would sign up to visit all of the opera houses in an area or on a specific route. One such route was the Silver Circuit, with stops in Denver, Salt Lake City, and a host of Colorado towns.
My heroine, Rose Miller, dreams of joining one such troupe. If only Patrick O’Donnell, the manager of the new opera house, would get out of her way.
Let Rose and Patrick’s story carry you to the heyday of Colorado opera houses in A Song for Rose in a Bouquet of Brides Collection.
Suzanne Norquist explores past and present through story.
Everything fascinates her, so she never settled on a career. She has worked as a sales clerk, chemist, professor, financial analyst, and even earned a doctorate in economics. As an author, she experiences different worlds without starting a new career every time. Research feeds her curiosity, and she shares the adventure with her readers.
She lives in Colorado with her mining engineer husband and has two grown children. When not writing, she explores the mountains, hikes, and attends kickboxing class.
She authors a blog entitled, Ponderings of a BBQ P.h.D. Sign up to receive her blog and receive a free five-day devotion.
Learn more at suzannenorquist.com.
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