Kay Di Bianca – RUN TO WRITE

Kay DiBianca, a former software developer and IT manager. has run four marathons, fifteen or so half-marathons, and lots of shorter races. OK, YOU GOT OUR ATTENTION!!! Kay is retired and lives in Tennessee with her husband, Frank. Now, she’s writing fiction, and she shares with us the connection between her new vocation and her running.  AND she’s giving away a signed paperback of her novel,

 

If I could give you one simple thing to enhance your creativity and improve your writing, would you be interested? Good. I thought so. I’ll get to that in a minute.

But first, let me introduce myself. I’m a runner, but not a fast one. I’ve spent decades jogging on trails, at the track, or on my treadmill, and I usually listen to podcasts or audio books when I’m running outside.

A few years ago, I found myself making up stories of my own as I was exercising. One of those stories was so persistent in occupying my running time that I decided to write it down just so it would stop bothering me. That story turned out to be my first novel, The Watch on the Fencepost, recently released by CrossLink Publishing.

As I was busy working on the book, I began to wonder if the very act of running was somehow related to my desire to write a novel. We’ve all heard of the benefits of aerobic exercise to strengthen our bodies and reduce stress, but could it do more?

Recent studies reveal some surprising results.According to a 2016 online article in Quartzby neuroscientist Wendy Suzuki, exercise encourages the growth of cells in the hippocampus area of the brain. And research has shown the hippocampus is important in enhancing long term memory and even possibly – listen to this, writers – creativity. Dr. Suzuki writes that “… this discovery suggests that exercise might be able to improve the imaginative functions of the hippocampus …”

But there’s more. An article in the August 2018 issue of Runner’s World magazine states, “Studies have shown that running can help prevent obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke, some cancers, and a host of other unpleasant conditions. What’s more, scientists have shown that running also vastly improves the quality of your emotional and mental life. It even helps you live longer.”

Physical exercise isn’t always fun, and we should definitely seek our doctor’s advice before starting a new exercise regime, but the benefits are so enormous, we can’t afford to ignore them. We can live longer, happier, healthier lives and be more creative if we do just one simple thing: Run — or jog — or walk — or do some kind of exercise to get our brains moving along with our bodies.

Be strong and write well!

Visit Kay at kaydibianca.com.

 

Sand Creek Serenade

Jennifer Uhlarik, our featured author, discovered the western genre as a pre-teen when she swiped the only “horse” book she found on her older brother’s bookshelf. A new love was born. Across the next ten years, she devoured Louis L’Amour westerns and fell in love with the genre. In college at the University of Tampa, she began penning her own story of the Old West. Armed with a B.A. in writing, she has finaled and won in numerous writing competitions, and been on the ECPA best-seller list numerous times.

In addition to writing, she has held jobs as a private business owner, a schoolteacher, a marketing director, and her favorite—a full-time homemaker. Jennifer is active in American Christian Fiction Writers and lifetime member of the Florida Writers Association. She lives near Tampa, Florida, with her husband, college-aged son, and four fur children.

Jennifer is giving away one free paperback copy of her new novel to someone who leaves a comment. Welcome, Jennifer–please tell us about your research for Sand Creek Serenade–lovely title and cover, by the way!

When I first came up with the concept for Sand Creek Serenade, it was supposed to be a novella to be included in a collection about women working in a male-dominated field. I chose to write about a woman working as a doctor during the Civil War era. However, I didn’t want to dig into the Civil War itself. While I love that time period, I felt too overwhelmed with the volume of details I would have to research. You see, I’ve always shied away from those well-known, well-documented historical events because I’ve had a fear that I would get too many details wrong and hear from knowledgeable readers about my faulty research.

So rather than write about some Civil War campaign, I decided to research other events that might allow my doctor heroine show off her skills. I stumbled across the Sand Creek Massacre, thought it would be a good alternative more in keeping with my western brand, and wrote it into the synopsis. Only later, after the synopsis was written and submitted did I realize what a well-documented historical event the Sand Creek Massacre was. My fear kicked into high gear at that point. As I dug into the history, I found eye-witness accounts, historical records from the Congressional investigation that was done, and a plethora of non-fiction books chronicling the events before, during, and after the massacre. I’d stepped out of the proverbial frying pan and straight into the fire! I’ll admit that there were times I considered ways I could bail on the project.

The thing is, this story would not leave me alone. The characters and the story were so compelling that, despite the well-documented nature of the historical event, the story needed to be told. So I prayed a lotand dove into writing it. I poured over research books and historical records trying to be sure I got every detail correct.

I’m sure I didn’t.

Thankfully, the “perfectionist” mentality eased, and I found ways to stick closely to the historical timeline while telling a compelling fictional story. So Sand Creek Serenade was a learning curve for me. I had to learn to overcome the unnatural fear that I’d get history snobs emailing me to correct any research gaffes, but more importantly, it was a lesson in learning to trust God. I believe He called me to write this story and orchestrated every step from the conception of the idea on to its publication and beyond, but so many times through the process, I found myself having to hand this story back to Him and ask for His guidance and blessing, rather than relying on my own power to get it done.

I’m so very thankful for His faithfulness, and I’m praying the story He had me craft will bless readers!

 

 

 

Social Media Links:

 

Website: www.jenniferuhlarik.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenniferUhlarikAuthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JenniferUhlarik

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jenuhlarik/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jenniferuhlarik/

 

GRACE AND LAVENDER

I’m pleased to welcome debut author Heather Smith, who will describe her first novel for us. As you read on, you’ll see she’s offering a giveaway to a commenter, with a little twist. And I have to say, Heather, I love the sight and scent of lavender, so your cover is beautiful!

My debut novel Grace & Lavender has many themes, and I’m excited for readers to see how they all fit together. I’d love to know which ones appeal to you!

Cooking

My main character is an excellent cook. She’s even written a cookbook, which makes her a bit of a celebrity in her small town. It’s the love of cooking that helps Colleen first connect with a teenage orphan named Grace.

I’m not much of a cook, but I do okay keeping my husband and three children fed. I enjoyed coming up with the dishes that Colleen and Grace make together in the story.

Foster care/adoption

This is one of the most important “take-away” themes of my book. Through my characters’ stories, I want to encourage readers to consider making foster care and adoption part of their stories, too.

My family was licensed as a foster family in October 2018, and we are currently waiting on our first placement.  I look forward to seeing how God grows our family through foster care, and possibly adoption, in the future.

Soap making

The art of making soap plays a big role in my story. It was so fun to research the craft. There were lots of methods to learn about—hot process, cold process, melt and pour, glycerin—and I’ve considered trying it, if I ever take a break from writing.

The meaning of names

Throughout Grace & Lavender, we see that Colleen Hill places a lot of value on having a good name—a name that has meaning. That makes her the perfect person to explain to Grace what her name really means. But it’s both Colleen and her daughter Melody who are eventually able to demonstrate that meaning for her.

Purpose and possibilities

Colleen and Melody both seek to live out God’s purpose for their lives, though they go about it in very different ways. But they both discover unexpected possibilities through faith in these verses:

  • In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Proverbs 3:6
  • And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28

As I think about the themes of Grace & Lavender, I think about my life. When all is said and done, may this be my theme: “I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2

What’s your life’s theme?

 Thanks so much Heather – readers, please include your life’s theme in your comment, which qualifies you to win the free copy of Grace and Lavender Heather is giving away this week. .

 
Here are my contact links:

Can You See It?

I’ve learned about something new. My Iowa friend Jill came over to help dig out my water pipe after we had 36 inches of snow, and pointed out the BLUE SNOW she saw everywhere. At first I couldn’t share her excitement, because I didn’t know where to look.

But then, viola! Between the crevasses and cracks, it’s everywhere. With all the melting going on, there’s not so much now, but this morning I took some photos. Can you see it here?

Or here, even though these are just cell phone photos?

 

For me, this is a new phenomenon, and of course, scientists have an explanation:

As with water, this color is caused by the absorption of both red and yellow light, which leaves light at the blue end of the visible spectrum. When this light travels into snow or ice, the ice grains scatter a large amount of light.

Cool! Even in the midst of a massive snowfall, we can find something intriguing and (for me, anyway) exciting. Having lived in snow country my whole life, I have to wonder why I never saw this before. Maybe it’s because of the altitude here?

Whatever the reason, there it is. And like my friend asked me the other day, CAN YOU SEE IT? becomes the big question.

This question figures in many of the novels we read. The reader sees something the characters don’t, or vice-versa. In a mystery, we seldom see the whole picture until the end.

In the process of publication, things sometimes change. I should let you know that the release date for All For The Cause, in which the heroine and hero navigate many World War II questions, has been changed. You can now expect it to surface into the big, wide world in late March or early April.

In the meantime, keep your eye out for blue snow and the like!

And since few of my blogs are complete without a photo from Lance, here you go…see the blue?

LIV AND BREATHE

Misty Simon is our guest…a mystery writer for a change! She’s introducing her new novel, LIV AND BREATHE, and offering one free copy to a commenter.

Hello, blog readers!

When I think of things I’m thankful for, I can honestly say that the number is huge and I don’t really know where to start. But I’ll try…

I’m so thankful for the community of readers and authors I am a part of. The boosting, the love, the support and the friendships I have formed are such a huge part of my every day world. I adore the people I have met through writing and the chance to celebrate other people’s successes with them. To be on this journey with such amazing men and women makes the ride so much more than I thought it could be. There are tears of joy and sadness, laughing at the small things and in the face of the scary ones. Coming together to make the world a better place one page at a time, one reader at a time.

Life can knock you down but in the end it’s up to you what you do with that setback. Sometimes you just have to find the right perspective and make it into a positive.

Here’s my philosophy:

There will be a silver lining, even if you have to draw it with your own crayon!

Misty Simon…Knows Whodunnit

www.mistysimon.com

On that note I was very keen to write Liv and Breathe. It’s a story I started about sixteen years ago when my then two year old was taking a bath. I wanted to write a woman who had nothing when she was little and ended up with everything she wanted but with some strings attached that she couldn’t avoid. And when those strings got pulled what would she do to save her dream, her oasis, and the life she’d created from the ashes of the past?

And so Liv came to life. She’s feisty and smart and driven. But I had to put her up against someone who had those same qualities to challenge her and make her think and perhaps see that compromise or even just embracing what has happened instead of trying to force what you want to happen can make all the difference. I think Alex is up to the challenge and hope you will enjoy the journey they take together to make a life together out of the broken pieces they’ve been handed.

www.mistysimon.com

https://www.facebook.com/misty.simon.18

Buy Link: https://catalog.thewildrosepress.com/paperback-books/6488-liv-and-breathe-paperback.html

 

The Sky Above Us

A special welcome to award-winning World War II author Sarah Sundin. Here’s her latest novel, and Sarah is offering a giveaway of one signed copy of The Sky Above Us to one fortunate commenter between now and Feb. 18.  Thanks so much, Sarah.  

Tell us about your new release, please.

Burdened by his past, Lt. Adler Paxton ships to England with the US 357th Fighter Group. Determined to become an ace pilot, Adler battles the German Luftwaffe as the Allies struggle for control of the air before D-day. Violet Lindstrom wants to be a missionary, but for now she serves in the American Red Cross, where she arranges entertainment and refreshments for the men of the 357th in the Aeroclub. Drawn to the mysterious Adler, she enlists his help with her programs for local children. Adler finds his defenses crumbling. But D-day draws near. And secrets can’t stay buried forever.

Why did you choose to write about these aspects of World War II?

With each novel and each series I like to focus on different aspects of the war to keep things fresh. A few years ago, I thought it would be interesting to write a series about D-day, with three brothers fighting from the sea, in the air, and on the ground. My first series focused on bomber pilots, and a lot of readers told me I should write about a fighter pilot. What if I had a fighter pilot flying over the beaches of Normandy on D-day? That’s how Lt. Adler Paxton came to be.

For the heroine, I decided to have Violet Lindstrom work for the American Red Cross. The ARC ran Aeroclubs at the US airfields in Britain, arranging refreshment and entertainment for the airmen. That sounded like a fun and adventurous way for a woman to serve her country.

What unique aspects about your research can you share with us?

Although this was my eleventh World War II novel, each story presents new research challenges. Adler’s story was surprisingly easy to research. I’d already tracked down a lot of information on the US Eighth Air Force while writing my Wings of Glory series.

And fighter pilots love to tell stories. I found countless memoirs, oral histories, home movies, and photos. These were valuable to help me understand the mindset of fighter pilots, how it felt to fly a P-51 Mustang in combat, and what everyday life was like on the air bases in England.

Violet’s story with the American Red Cross presented a greater challenge. In general, stories from personnel in any support capacity are scarcer. I found a treasure trove of primary documents about the Red Cross on Fold3.com (a division of Ancestry.com). These provided many of the big picture details I needed about ARC services overseas. On the personal side, I perused the Betty H. Carter Women Veterans Historical Project on the University of North Carolina, Greensboro website. They’ve collected oral histories, photos, and documents from women veterans, including dozens of Red Cross workers. These helped me piece together the colorful bits about what life was like for these brave and resourceful women.

Bio:

Sarah Sundin is a bestselling author of historical novels, including The Sky Above Us and The Sea Before Us. Her novels When Tides Turn and Through Waters Deep were named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years,” and Through Waters Deep was a finalist for the 2016 Carol Awardand won the INSPY Award.A mother of three, Sarah lives in California and teaches Sunday school. She also enjoys speaking for church, community, and writers’ groups.Please visit her at http://www.sarahsundin.com.

Sarah has also shared this trailer for The Sky Above Us: you may view it here: 

 

Mothers In Waiting—Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms

Usually we welcome fiction authors, but non-fiction authors Crystal and Meghann Bowman offer so much to many women in this new publication. I can attest to the beauty of these heartfelt stories and the hope they offer. The authors have agreed  give away one copy of this book, published by Harvest House, so please leave a comment.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, about 10 percent of women in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or staying pregnant. That’s about 6.1 million women whose bodies work a little differently when it comes to having a baby. When infertility rules a woman’s life, the downward spiral begins.

Everyday experiences become painful reminders. She stays home from church on Mother’s Day, and she cringes when she receives another baby shower invitation. It also takes a toll on her marriage as making loves turns into making babies.

This is how my daughter-in-law Meghann felt for more than 5 long years. Besides wondering what was wrong with her body–and why she couldn’t do the one thing that a woman’s body is supposed to do—she felt alone. Surrounded by pregnant friends and happy baby announcements, she struggled with feelings of inferiority and sadness.

After several exhausting years, Meghann finally became pregnant and is currently the mother of two healthy little ones. Her desire is to offer hope and encouragement to other women who are walking that lonely path. She wanted to write a book and came to me for help.

Since her story is only one woman’s story, I had an idea: what if we collected stories from 30 women so we could have a wide variety of stories? Meghann said “Yes!” and the project began.

I thought it would be difficult to find 30 women to share their stories, but God brought them to me one after the other. It seemed no matter where I went, I met women who wanted to share their stories. Women of all ages, all ethnicities, and all walks of life offered their stories of infertility, surgeries, miscarriage, adoption, IVF failures and successes, as well as finding peace in being childless.

The result is a beautiful new book titled Mothers In Waiting–Healing and Hope for Those with Empty Arms.

 

Each story follows the same format: My Story; My Struggle, My Strength, and My Scripture. Each story is told through the voice of the contributor—honest, real, and heartfelt. There are no easy answers or simple solutions offered. But readers with aching hearts will find hope and encouragement from women who want to walk beside them, identify with their pain, and point them to God.

You can find this encouraging book here: https://www.harvesthousepublishers.com/books/mothers-in-waiting-9780736975360

 

 

 

Flights of Fancy

Welcome to Jen Turano, a Bethany House author who is releasing her thirteenth novel….Here’s a brief history of her writing.

Named One of the Funniest Voices in Inspirational Romanceby Booklist, Jen Turano is a USA Today Best-Selling Author, known for penning quirky historical romances set in the Gilded Age. Her books have earned Publisher Weekly and Booklist starred reviews, top picks from Romantic Times, and praise from Library Journal. She’s been a finalist twice for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Awards and had two of her books listed in the top 100 romances of the past decade from Booklist. When she’s not writing, she spends her time outside of Denver, CO.

Jen is offering a giveaway of one paper copy to a fortunate commenter…now, I hope you enjoy getting to know her better.

Tell us about your new release, please. Are you one of those who details the plot before beginning to write, or how does the process work for you?

“Flights of Fancy” is the story of Miss Isadora Delafield, an American heiress in possession of an annoyingly determined mother – one who believes nothing but an aristocrat will do as a potential husband for her one and only daughter. When the dastardly Duke of Montrose sets his eye on Isadora, she decides she has no choice but to flee New York until her mother comes to her senses, which sets the scene for all sorts of unlikely incidents when Isadora, oddly enough, finds herself living on a farm, taking on the role of housekeeper to Mr. Ian MacKenzie, a self-made man with more than a few secrets of his own.

The idea for the story came about as most ideas do with two words…What if. In this case I wondered what if, instead of giving into her mother’s wishes, Consuelo Vanderbilt balked and ran away instead of marrying the Duke of Marlborough. Just like that, a series began to take shape and before I knew it, I’d done a proposal for the American Heiress series with Isadora’s story being the first of the trilogy. I do plan out my stories in a lot of detail – mostly because I’m required to turn in a proposal to my editors first. Having said that, though, none of my stories ever turn out the way I originally intend, mostly because my characters always have a mind of their own and they take me exactly where I need to be taken.

What unique aspects about your research can you share with us?

The most interesting research I uncovered with this story revolved around the orphanages in Pittsburgh in the 1880’s. I was intending on using an orphan train as backstory for the children readers will find in the book, but then I ran across this book – “Child Care in Black & White: Working Parents and the History of Orphanages” by Jessie B. Ramey. It was a fascinating read – detailed how many parents used orphanages much like parents use daycare today, and because of that book, I completely changed one of the plot points.

How did you begin writing …and how has this vocation affected you?

Odd as this will probably sound, I never had any aspirations to be a writer when I was younger. My family leans more toward the sciences, and because of that, I never considered writing as a serious choice to pursue as a career. Much to my father’s concern, I decided to major in Clothing & Textiles because I wanted to become a buyer, and even though that was not a career he thought was suitable for me (one of my brothers is a surgeon, the other two are engineers) he figured that since I’d at least be doing a bit of math, it wasn’t a completely horrible major to obtain. I worked in retail for years before my husband and I decided we’d probably need to get around to starting a family. And because I didn’t think I’d win any Mom of the Year awards if I’d continue traveling after I had my son, I gave up my career to become a stay-at-home mom. When my son was in third grade, we decided to try our hand at writing our own book after reading a horrible series about a bird, and that’s when I really began considering pursuing a career in writing. I knew nothing about the publishing industry and certainly needed to improve my writing craft because, even though I’d always done well in English and writing classes, well, I’ll merely say that I had quite a few issues, each and one pointed out in detail by agents who were kind enough to lend me their advice, even if that advice was incredibly painful at times. After about seven failures, I finally landed an agent, and then she very kindly went out and sold “A Change of Fortune” to Bethany House. I’ve been writing for them ever since.

Thanks so much. I’m glad you persevered, and so are your readers.

 

Connect further with Jen at these sites:

www.jenturano.com

https://www.facebook.com/jenturanoauthor/

JenTurano@JenTurano

Earth to Gail…

Two nights ago, Lance took some photos of the moon just before it became a “blood moon.” This was about 9 p.m. Arizona time, and we could just see a rosy haze rising due to refracted light. 

 

He didn’t think they’d turn out, but…well, I’ll let you be the judge.

He’s been snapping dozens of elk, deer, javelina, and bird pics too…but this total eclipse only happens once in a… quite a few years.

I’ve neglected blogging for the past few weeks, and could explain that I’ve been head over heels into my next WWII story featuring the POW camp in Algona, Iowa. But that would sound like an excuse, so I’m just starting in again…hopefully you’re all in a compassionate frame of mind.

The good news is that I am approaching…not there yet, but CLOSE to completing this final (I HOPE!!) edit of a manuscript that has given me some surprises and frustrations along the way. Aren’t things supposed to become easier with practice???

And just for good measure, here are a couple more pics from our day trip to Sedona.

I love the way the background and foreground integrate. Reminds me of how the main characters and secondary characters in a novel complement each other.

Each of their personal stories shares a common premise. It stands to reason that during war, that premise may become even more complicated than normal.

Picture a small midwestern town chosen to host hundreds of Nazi prisoners…many of them from Hitler’s elite SS, taken captive in North Africa. What would it be like to guard them…to provide milk, eggs, and other essentials to feed them, knowing that chances are slim Allied prisoners were being treated according to the Geneva Convention? 

Doesn’t this sound a little complicated?  Stay tuned – ALL FOR THE CAUSE is on its way!

A New Year

From the beautiful Ponderosa Pine forest under the Mogollon Rim, some photos for you to enjoy, thanks to my husband. May 2019 be a succession of days in which you see beauty all around you.

For today, a glorious shot of this deer outside our door, our woodpile, and a red-named sapsucker getting the most he can out of our mountain oak tree.

Here’s to the MOST out of life for us all in 2019!