Freedom River

WELCOME to Claire Sanders, award-winning inspirational fiction author. Claire tells us about her latest CIVIL WAR release here, and is offering a paperback copy of FREEDOM RIVER to one commenter. 

I know the following statement is an open confession that I am a book reading nerd, but I’m going to admit how excited I get when I find a new author I love.  Right away, I look up all of her publications and dive in.

I hope you’ll feel the same way about my newest release, Freedom River.  It is a historical romance set during the time of the Underground Railroad. Several of the characters and events are based on actual people and real situations.

Stories of people who fought evil with goodness have always intrigued me. The abolitionists who participated in the Underground Railroad knowingly broke federal law.  They risked imprisonment in order to follow the dictates of their conscience.  I sometimes wonder if I have the same courage of my convictions that they did.

There are four main characters in Freedom RiverConstance has joined the abolitionist movement in Ripley, Ohio, but has done little more than write pamphlets and attend meetings. But her minor role changes drastically when she is the only person available to help a runaway slave.

Micah, once a student of Reverend John Rankin, one of the chief architects of the Underground Railroad, spurned abolitionist teachings and became a slave catcher.  He’s sure he’s found sufficient justification for hunting runaways, until an escapee gives him reason to doubt.

Opal was born a slave.  She never considered escaping across the nearby Ohio River until her master gave her no choice.  Will risking her life and the life of her baby for an unknown future be worth it?

Charlie was born free.  Nevertheless, he helps runaways move to the next safe station or employs the men on his farm.  But what will he do with a beautiful woman who crossed the river with a baby on her back?

I’m sure you’ll find Freedom River to be an exciting and engrossing story.  Be sure to connect with me at any (or all) of the online sites below.

Click here to buy.

Claire Sanders is an award-winning author of inspirational novels.  Her attention is always drawn to stories about someone fighting for what’s right in the face of overwhelming resistance.  That, and a life-long interest in history led to an appreciation for the abolitionists who dared to break mankind’s law in order to uphold God’s law.

Claire writes about Christians in conflict. Never one to preach, she lets the plot reveal how the characters’ faith sustains them through the struggle. To find out more and see an complete list of her novels, visit her website –   www.clairesandersbooks.com.

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Connect with Claire through Social Media

Facebook  https://www.facebook.com/clairesandersbooks/?ref=bookmarks

Pinterest   https://www.pinterest.com/joannr2010/

Bookbub  https://www.bookbub.com/profile/claire-sanders

Dreams Deferred

Wow…if ever a cover provoked interest, this is it! And how fun to be able to bring to life story from your own family history. Readers, June is offering an e-book to one fortunate commenter, so please leave your response for a chance to embrace June’s unique plot!

 

The Story Behind the Story

Dreams Deferred is inspired by the true-to-life story of my great grandfather and great grandmother. I chose to set it in contemporary times, nevertheless, I borrowed many of the story elements from the true story.

Frances Mathew Halbedl grew up in the European Austrian Empire and followed tradition in which the oldest son became a priest in his family’s Catholic faith. After being ordained in Moravia, he immigrated to the United States in 1866 to serve in a parish in the state of Louisiana.

My aunt and mother always told the story of how one Sunday while saying mass, he spotted a young teen, much younger than my Mary Louise. He waited several years for her to grow up, then stepped down from the priesthood to marry her. I wish I knew some of those rich details of their courtship, but since I don’t, I fictionalized their romance.

They later moved to San Antonio, Texas, and had five children, three girls and two boys—Ida, Mamie, Alice, Roy, and Clifton, who was my grandfather. Just for fun in one scene, I imagined that Matt had a dream he was riding in a car with Mary Louise and the three youngest kids. In my story, the dream helped him realize how much he loved Mary Louise.

Mathew taught music both in the public school and privately. Later he became the first principal of a high school in San Antonio. In December of 2005, my husband and I visited San Antonio and looked up Matthew and Mary Louise’s house. The large, two-story home is still there on Roseborough Drive. We weren’t able to go in because it’s a private residence. But I had so much fun envisioning Matt and ML’s lives as they lived there with their children.

We also visited Clifton Halbedl’s home, which I remember from childhood. I also had the address for Mamie’s home, and we were able to go inside. A gracious lady who spoke no English invited us in. I have tons of pictures and hope to share them on my blog.

In the story, Matt gets a job at Jefferson High School. This is patterned after Thomas Jefferson High School where my mother went to school. Her name was Mary Louise, as well, named for her grandmother.

If I’ve learned anything from writing this book, I wish I’d probed for more information when my mother and aunt were still alive, but I’m grateful for what I do know.

You may contact June here: 

junefoster.com

https://www.amazon.com/author/junefoster

https://twitter.com/vjifoster

https://www.facebook.com/authorjunefoster

 

 

Purchase Link:   https://tinyurl.com/y3g555tz

From South Africa to Canada…a writing journey

Our guest this week has the unique history of moving from South Africa to Canada a couple of decades ago. That’s a long way–and Melony’s writing journey proves as exciting as such a long trek…probably more!

Discovering Purpose Through Writing

Who would have thought I’d be in my thirties when I decorated my first gingerbread house? I was even older when I discovered there were different kinds of snow. This South African girl had no idea.

Getting on a plane in 1999 to start a new life in Toronto, Canada with my husband was one of the best and hardest things I have ever done. It’s difficult leaving your familiar life, friends, and family to venture into the unknown. Yet Toronto was, and still is, where I am meant to be. Now I have two beautiful Canadian teenagers.

When I left the beloved shores of Durban, South Africa, I also had no inkling I would finally discover on the shores of Lake Ontario, Canada, what I wanted to be when I grew up. What started out as a private blog about my health and fitness journey on SparkPeople.com turned out to be the start of another journey—becoming a writer. Blogging taught me the discipline and habit of making time each day to tap away at the keyboard. Those ramblings paved the way to a more public blog about food, fitness, and nutrition. To be honest, I thought if I wrote a book it would probably be a cookbook.

God had other plans.

One day, at an event packed with artistic and gifted people, I came face to face with the fact that I too could follow my dream to create art. I realized for the first time I could do whatever I set my mind to do.

The Lord showed me that the only thing stopping me was, well… me.

I wanted to be a writer. Therefore, I did my research. E. B. White was one of my biggest inspirations and I realized that I wanted to be a nonfiction writer. E.B. White was a contributor to The New Yorker magazine and a co-author of The Elements of Style.Natural curiosity led me to want to ask questions, interview people and uncover the good news and meaningful stories within my community.

I read somewhere that you should start local and begin as soon as possible to collect rejection letters. They said that those would bring you closer to an acceptance. Therefore, I submitted my first article to my local newspaper, and did not get that rejection I thought I’d secure. So much for that.

That first article, published in our town’s newspaper in July 2010, had me hooked on writing. Since then, my writing journey has led me to interview sports and Hollywood celebrities, local philanthropists and authors.

Aside from my published work, I also started a blog on my new author website, interviewed Christian authors, and reviewed Christian Fiction. My world expanded in ways only God could accomplish.

Along the way, someone invited me to join a brand new writer’s group, which led to co-authoring a devotional for Christian writers and speakers. These women are now my dearest friends and loudest cheerleaders. The local Christian university uses the devotional, As the Ink Flows, as a resource and part of their curriculum. God is faithful to provide people to support us in our dreams. My husband has been a pillar of strength through it all.

Aside from doing communications for various non-profit organizations and freelance clients, these days I am focusing on my fiction work.

Looking back on that day when I said, “Hey, I want to be a writer”, I did not understand then where this wonderful profession would lead. I could never have imagined how God would use it in my life.

There is nothing more fulfilling than discovering your purpose and God’s will for your life.

Has it always been easy? No.

Has it been worth it? You bet.

Melony Teagueis a freelance writer who believes everyone has a story to tell and each story is unique and sometimes wilder than fiction. She loves to uncover the good news in society and writes human interest and community pieces. As co-author of As the Ink Flows, she loves to inspire and motivate others through her written words. In her spare time, she reviews books and interviews authors on her website. She also teaches seniors in her local community to write their own personal story. She writes Contemporary Romance with a dash of humor. Member of ACFW. Melony Teague was born in South Africa and now lives in Toronto with her husband, their two children and two cats.

WEBSITE: https://www.melonyteague.com/

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: https://twitter.com/MelonyTeague

FOLLOW ON FACEBOOK: https://www.facebook.com/melonyteague/

FOLLOW ON GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14249646.Melony_Teague

“Whether beginners or seasoned pros, writers and speakers of all types will find inspiration and gentle encouragement within the pages of As the Ink Flows. It’s a breath of fresh air for the creative soul!” — Carla Laureano, RITA® Award Winning Author

Grab your free sample copy of the e-book here: https://bookgrabbr.com/books/38096-as-the-ink-flows

GET THE BOOK:

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2NmyU4v

Christianbook.com: http://ow.ly/6Z7K30nNIig

Judson Press: https://www.judsonpress.com/Products/J237/as-the-ink-flows.aspx?bCategory=JPBKS!JPINSP

Barnes & Noble: http://ow.ly/A0EP30nNIzZ

SURRENDERED – New Release

I’m glad to welcome Jennifer Sienes this week, who shares her new release, Surrendered, with us. Jennifer, I can relate to the jumping around that sometimes occurs with publication dates for a series! Jennifer is offering a free e-book to a commenter this week. 

Since I was twelve years old, I’ve been writing stories. I even wrote fan-fiction before it was a thing—a Happy Days episode, which I’m sure dates me. I took every creative writing class I could, starting in high school, and even declared journalism as my college major until I realized I like fiction a whole lot more than truth, because I can create the characters any way I like.

Tess O’Shay, the main character in Surrendered,came by way of accident. She was a minor character in my first novel (which will be the last published in the series) and my critique group loved her. They wanted to know if she would have more scenes. She did not. In fact, she was deleted with the rewrites.

But I couldn’t get her out of my mind—it was like she’d become a real person and refused to be ignored. Surrendered was the first novel I wrote inspired by a fictional character rather than an incident. Tess isn’t based on anyone I know, just a figment of my imagination. I loved writing this story because Tess O’Shay and Jake Holland ran away with it and all I could do was try to keep up.

The first two novels I wrote were inspired by actual events—my brother’s suicide in the first and my daughter’s near-fatal car accident in the second. These are dark themes, yet I wanted to present them with humor and hope—both of which have gotten me through some tough circumstances.

I strive to create characters my readers can connect with—three-dimensional and human—but also fall in love with. I think the best books are those that leave us wanting more.

So you may be wondering where those first two novels are today. It’s true that these three novels are a series. However, what ties them together is the same small town (Placerville, California) and one side character (the voice of reason.)

When my publisher asked me to submit to her whichever was my favorite, I submitted Surrendered. Not because it’s a better story, but because I felt it was the most polished of the three. Book two (which I wrote second) releases next May and book three comes out May 2021.

There are a few more days to get in on the Kindle preorder perks. My publisher set the ebook at an introductory price, which will go up (by $1) after April 30th. Those who preorder will also receive the prequel novella, Julia, as a gift.

Preorder Link: https://amzn.to/2tusOWH

Paperback will be available afterl April 30, 2019

Amazon gift form for Julia:

Link: https://goo.gl/forms/7AGjBUr0y6KYBo222

The form must be filled out in order to receive the novella through the publisher.

 

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jennifer-Sienes-Writer-186643172596/

Instagram: instagram.com/Jennifer_Sienes

Goodreads: goodreads.com/Jennifer_Sienes

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jennifer_Sienes

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/Jennifer_Sienes/surrendered/

Joy After Noon

I’m welcoming Debra Coleman Jeter by sharing some advance praise for her novel, JOY AFTER NOON

Advance Praise for Joy After Noon

Jeter’s characters and scenery are so vivid and real that I felt I was right there sharing all their hope and fears. So looking forward to the next installment!—Jana Little

Debra Jeter does a beautiful job creating realistic characters whose lives intertwine in an honest and  purposeful way. I found myself still thinking about their stories once the book ended—Katy Owen

Joy After Noondrew me in and my heart ached along with hers as I followed her struggles. I found myself relating to many characters in the novel–cringing sometimes and laughing at others—Tracy Wilbanks

I was instantly drawn into Joy’s story. A beautiful story full of inescapably good characters – you get so pulled into their world that you miss them just as soon as the book is closed.—Paige Boggs

Debra is offering a choice of an e-book or a signed paperback of JOY AFTER NOON to a commenter. With that, take it away, Debra! Oh…

Joy After Noon is the first published novel in my new Sugar Sands series, set in the fictional beach town of Sugar Sands, Alabama. Initially, the idea behind my title, Joy After Noon, was that Joy’s life has been lonely (and joy has been elusive) since her parents died when she was sixteen. She has about given up on finding love when she meets Ray. She comes into his ready-made family and, for a time, this seems like a mistake. However, in the afternoon of her life, she finds love and joy.

When does the afternoon of life begin? Joy is much younger than I am, but she’s never been in a serious romantic relationship before, and she no longer expects one when she meets Ray. She does not consider herself particularly desirable or even attractive, and she’s thrilled that Ray finds her beautiful. Doubts emerge, though, after the honeymoon, and soon she begins to question his real motives in marrying her.

Yet, I think the concept goes deeper than this, and the afternoon of life does not begin at a particular age, or even stage of life. In the novel, Ray has been pursuing career success and material acquisitions, and experiences a significant change of direction. Some fairly disastrous events in his workplace precipitate the change—events that threaten not only his financial stability but the core of who he is.

Carl Jung says: “The afternoon of life is just as full of meaning as the morning; only, its meaning and purpose are different.” Jung goes on to describe life’s afternoon as the time when we begin to shift away from the ego being the dominant force in our life and move toward a journey that has real meaning.

I also like the following quote: In the afternoon of your life, you don’t do life. You do what resonates with the callings of your soul.

Communication and Missed Communication

In We Bought a Zoo, Benjamin Mee (played by Matt Damon) is grieving the death of his wife. At one point he remarks that a love like his for his first wife only comes along once in a lifetime. So we ask,  What would it be like to be the second wife to someone who had loved that deeply?

On the one hand, you might think he’s capable of great love and would make a wonderful husband. On the other, you might fear trying to live up to his expectations. How can you compete with a ghost?

My heroine Joy lacks self-confidence, especially in the domestic realm. Much of the plot hinges on her failure to express her fears and Ray’s failure to articulate his feelings. Like many men, he assumes Joy knows how he feels, and she’s not secure enough to tell him that she needs to hear it from his lips.

Another complication that often arises in second or third marriages lies in the step-parent’s relationship with their spouse’s children. Ray’s stepdaughters resolve to bring Joy down, and for a time their plan seems to be working—until it backfires with dire, unforeseen consequences.

My Process

I usually create an outline of key points in a story—and often even write the key scenes—before commencing to write from the beginning. I departed from this in Joy After Noon, where I started with an idea and some character work, then let the characters take me on their journey. I look forward to hearing from my readers to see if they cheered Joy on along the way.

Purchase Link for JOY AFTER NOON:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07P7S5Y7Z/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_bibl_vppi_i2

Contact Debra at:

Be the Writer’s MVP!

A warm welcome to Sandra Haven, a Developmental Editor for commercially and self-published authors. Have you thought of writing yourself? The first three readers to comment AND say he or she is interested in writing will receive a free PDF copy of Sandra’s book “How to Publish a Book, Novel, or Series.”

NOTE: if you think Gail does not have your e-mail, pls include it in your reply. 

How You Can Become A Key Player In A Series

By Sandra Haven

Who doesn’t like reading more books about the same great characters? Or in the same marvelous setting? I sure like to read them! It is like looking forward to a tasty second and third course in a yummy meal. We all have a favorite series author or two. You also find new writers, like some who participate in this blog, who will perk your interest.

Yet a series can let me down as well. As an editor who works with many series writers, I know a series can be tricky to write. And I know that authors are eager to please readers.

Authors are like cooks: they want to serve readers with satisfying results. Although the book they have already published and is in your hands, they are eager to know if it was satisfying. And your answer will help them refine the flavor of their next course—the next book in their series.

Here are things for readers to think about to help those authors to provide you with great stories:

Was the current book satisfying? Why or why not?

Every book in a series needs a thread of interest, something unresolved, to pull readers into the next book. However, if there is no sense of reward, no place of safety where the character can rest at “The End,” nothing is accomplished and readers can feel let down. How well did the current book satisfy you?

Did you read a later book in a series and feel lost?

Catching readers up on the backlog of previous book characters and issues can be challenging—but, maybe you happened to pick up Book 2 or 12 in a series. You should be able to plunge right in and enjoy that particular story without wondering who is who.  For instance, Susan Furlong’s Georgia Peach Mysteryseries offers the same characters and setting but with different mysteries (and a few peachy recipes!) in each book, each a complete story in itself.

Did you love something (a character or situation) but the author kind of skipped over it?

Did you wish there was more about Joe, that great minor character mentioned in chapter 6? Or did the main character’s problems with this or that seem glossed over? Whatever perks YOUR interest is what the writer wants to hear about. Which brings me to …

How to Help Your Favorite Writers

Tell the Authors!

Authors are nearly all online. Usually they have their own website or blog or FaceBook or other social media pages. Believe me, they are truly eager to connect with readers. They often tweak the next book based on what their readers say!

Want to see more about something, say Joe in chapter 6? Or hear how Stephanie dealt with her health issue? Or maybe you loved the mystery but found it a little too simple  or too complex? Let them know if you found an ending not as satisfying as you’d hoped for or if you got lost at some point. Find their contact information online and write to them.

Most authors would appreciate a note from you; however, many receive so many emails that although they read and consider all of them, they are unable to answer them. Many authors offer newsletters to deal with most of the questions that come up. You may discover what the author is planning next and get some insights on the stories. Sometimes there are other subscriber benefits as well, like special discounts.

I heard J. A. Jance speak quite some time ago about her mystery stories involving police officer J.P. Beaumont. The owner of a Seattle restaurant she had used in previous books asked if Jance’s restaurant owner in the book could have an affair with this cop. In the next book, the cop did enjoy a date with the owner!

You may not be able to spoon with one of your favorite characters, even within the pages of the book, but you certainly can dish out useful recommendations to the author. Then, the next time they bake up a batch of words to serve you, you just might find each morsel has the flavor you preferred in that satisfying read.

Sandra would love to hear from you.  www.Haven4Writers.com

 

The Mennonite Queen

Writing The Mennonite Queen

Welcome Patrick Craig! One glimpse of this heroine’s face piqued my curiosity – here, Patrick tells us a little more about how she came to be. And he’s offering a signed paperback copy to a commenter. Now, readers, delve into history!

When Gail asked me to write an article about my latest book,The Mennonite Queen, she mentioned that the historical setting, Poland in the 1500s, greatly interested her. And for history buffs, Poland does have a unique place in the European scene. From conquerors to survivors—the nation has always been in a state of flux and somehow at the center of European history—and a perfect setting for this book.

The Mennonite Queen is the final book in The Paradise Chroniclesseries, but is actually the culmination of all six of my Amish books—the Apple Creek Dreamsseries and The Paradise Chronicles. In these books I deal with the Hershberger family and in particular, one character, Jenny Hershberger.

In the first book, A Quilt For Jenna, Jenny is a lost little girl found by Jerusha Hershberger Springer in a terrible snowstorm—but the setup for the book details the Amish roots of the Hershberger family in Apple Creek, Ohio and how they came there from Europe in the 1700s. Then in the second book, The Road Home, a grown-up Jenny meets and eventually marries a very distant cousin, Jonathan Hershberger, who comes back to his Amish roots with Jenny’s help.

Creating a historical background for Jonathan’s family and their departure from the Amish faith at the time of the Revolutionary war set the stage for my historical Amish novel, The Amish Princess. And then, since I had been dealing with the women of the Hershberger family (Jenny’s Choice, The Amish Heiress) I decided that I needed to tell the story of the grand matriarch of the Hershberger family going back to the 1500s in Europe and use that story to establish the Hershberger ties to the Mennonites and the Amish.

So I cast about for a historical figure that would fit into my timeline and found the perfect heroine—Isabella Jagiellon, the daughter of King Sigismund I of Poland and the writer of the first edict of toleration in European history. I created a fictional three year-period in Isabella’s life where she meets and marries Johan Hirschberg, a stable boy in her father’s service and Jenny Hershberger’s great-great-great- (way-back)-grandfather. So now I had the themes of forbidden love and growing faith and I needed an exciting place to set the story.

In the Münster Rebellion, a group of Anabaptists, the predecessors of the Mennonite church, refused to let the Catholics and Lutherans persecute them any longer and overthrew the city of Münster, Germany in 1534. This led to a yearlong siege and the slaughter of the Anabaptists who did not starve to death in the seige. I thought this would be a great place to send Johan and Isabella, so I have them flee Krakow to avoid Isabella’s marriage to the King of Hungary and journey to Münster to join the revolution. But as many of these things turn out, the leaders of the so-called “Kingdom of Heaven on earth” were madmen who led their followers into a horrible situation. The star-crossed lovers flee Münster and end up in the home of Menno Simons who, with their help, becomes the founder of the Mennonite Church, which later evolves into the Amish.

I love setting real people into fictional settings so all the characters in The Mennonite Queenexcept Johan, Magda, Frederich and two of the minor characters are real people. The court of Sigismund, the city of Münster, the events and timing of the story, the life of Menno Simons, all those I gleaned from historical research. Johan’s name comes from an actual mountain in Switzerland where the Hershberger family originated. And I also don’t believe every book has to have a “happily ever after” ending, so The Mennonite Queen does not, bu tit is emotionally satisfying. I knew this was a good book when my wife, my line and copy editor, handed me the last proof with tears running down her face.

And that is the story of The Mennonite Queen.

 

Patrick E. Craigis a traditionally published/independent author. In 2013, Harvest House Publishers published his Apple Creek Dreamsseries. His current series is The Paradise Chronicles, published by P&J Publishing,andthe first book, The Amish Heiresswas published in 2015. It remained on the Amazon Top 100 best sellers list for seven months. The Amish Princesswas released in 2016 and The Mennonite Queen in April 2019. In 2017 Harlequin purchased the print rights for The Amish Heiress for their Walmart Amish series. That book will be in Walmart stores on April 2, 2019. Patrick signed with Elk Lake Publishers in March 2019, to publish his kids’ mystery series, The Adventures of Punkin and Boo.  Patrick and his wife, Judy, make their home in Idaho. Patrick is represented by the Steve Laube Agency.

 

 

 

Where can readers find Patrick online?

www.patrickecraig.com  Webpage
https://www.facebook.com/PatrickECraig  Facebook

https://twitter.com/PatrickECraig  Twitter
Where can readers purchase my books?

http://tinyurl.com/n6sfaggAmazon

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: