The Belsnickel

Welcome to Bonnie Swinehart, who has written two delightful children’s books. Here’s my review of the one she’s featuring here this week:

For eleven-year-old Benjy, growing up in 1930’s rural America provided plenty of opportunities to choose “naughty over nice.” And this eleven-year-old farm boy consistently veered toward naughty. Watching him mature through the efforts of his parents and teacher makes an engaging story. I had never heard of the Belsnickel before reading this book, and am glad I took the time.

Bonnie is giving away a print copy of her story to a commenter–perhaps it will make a gift for one of your grandchildren. Now, she describes the work that went into creating this book and shares a little about a second Benjy story.

Many hours of research and work come alive on the pages of Benjy and the Belsnickel, a chapter book for ages seven and up. The book’s setting is the 1930s in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. If you have never heard of the Belsnickel, the opposite of Santa Claus, your German ancestors might be able to tell you exactly who this Christmas character who originated in Germany really is.

Benjy, a loveable eleven-year-old prankster, finds himself in a heap of trouble over and over again. His main target is Miss Nettie, the schoolmarm, who teaches in a one-room schoolhouse.

At times his antics will make you laugh out loud while others will find you wiping away tears as he struggles to figure out right from wrong. His problems multiply when he is threatened with a visit from the dreaded Belsnickel. He has moments of disbelief thinking the Belsnickel is just an old folktale, but then he struggles with moments of deep fear that the grim legend may be true. It is during these moments of dread that he prays to God for help to be a better boy.

The story keeps you intrigued while guessing if the Belsnickel is real and who he might be. The story takes a twist and offers a surprise ending!

I was inspired to write Benjy and the Belsnickel after attending a performance featuring the Belsnickel while working as a newspaper reporter. I found it fun to see the children so fascinated with this creature. Contrary to being afraid, the kids sat close to him and listened intently. I was also inspired by my parents who grew up in the 1930s and attended one-room schoolhouses. Some of their stories made for wonderful memories which ended up in this Christmas book dedicated to them. 

If you turn the last page of the book with the yearning for it to go on and on, don’t fret! Benjy’s adventures continue in my newest book, Benjy and the County Fair.

The school year is over, and spring has arrived. With a sense of freedom, Benjy finds himself yearning for a new bicycle. Trouble is, he has to earn his own money.

On the last day of school, Benjy and his closest friend, Sarah, arrive at Benjy’s family farm to be greeted by three very cantankerous goats. When his pop announces the goats will be his responsibility, Benjy is filled with misery. 

Then one day his ma mentions the money she earned at the county fair, and a lightbulb pops on in Benjy’s head. Determined to earn some money for his bike, he decides to turn one of his new goats into a show goat. He also starts a vegetable garden where he hopes to grow the county’s biggest pumpkin.

Unfortunately, Bruce, the local bully, tries to undermine his efforts, and thoughts of revenge overtake Benjy.

Benjy’s goats, Hazel, Lucy, and Sadie turn his life upside down. Join Benjy as he shakes his head trying to decide if he should roar with laughter at the goats’ outrageous antics or kick the dirt in disgust.

Benjy and the County Fair was actually inspired by suggestions from my writer’s group to write about goats. I was intrigued with the idea of incorporating the goats’ antics into the book, and liked the fact that I would have to research everything about the subject. I was never a farm girl so there was definitely a learning curve. Also, I grew up in the carnival, so the idea of the setting being a county fair came so naturally for me. Writing the book was an adventure that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Both books as well as a study guide for homeschool education that accompanies Benjy and the Belsnickel are available online at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and at http://www.Whitespark-publishing.com

Bonnie Swinehart lives in Liverpool, PA, in Pennsylvania Dutch country. She’s both a journalist and a columnist, but her lifetime dream was always to write and publish a book. That dream came true when her Benjy books were published by WhiteSpark Publishing.

Bonnie loves to hear from her readers and can be contacted at bonnieats@yahoo.com.

A Fresh Start For Christmas

I’m so happy to welcome Kimberly Grist this week. In Fresh Start For Christmas, a part of the Spinster Mail-Order series, she writes about a 19th Century Pandemic that some of us may not recall from our history lessons. After listening to this old-fashioned love story, I can guarantee it will transport readers back to a time when things might seem simpler, when a childhood and youth spent in an orphanage were not unheard of, and an old-fashioned love story might develop across the miles through hand-written letters.

And Miss Jane Austen shares her wisdom at the beginning of each chapter–what else would anyone want for Christmas?

After the Civil War, the yellow plague epidemic and gold fever sent young men west. A Fresh Start for Christmas is a mail-order bride story based on a matrimonial service started by several pastors and an orphanage matron. The group bases the agency on Rebecca and Isaac’s story and work together to find a way to match women to Christian men in the west to form H.I.M.M., short for Heaven Inspired Matrimonial Matches. 

Kimberly is giving away a copy of Fresh Start For Christmas to a commenter, and below, she shares some of her rich research about Christmas celebrations in a bygone era. Now I’ll turn this over to her.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Did you know that the author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb” had much to do with shaping Christmas traditions that are still popular today?

Godey’s Magazine and Lady’s Book was an American women’s magazine published in Philadelphia from 1830 to 1878 and played an important part in shaping the cultural customs of the 19th century.


Sarah Josepha Hale, author of “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” was the editor from 1837 until 1877. When Hale started at Godey’s, the magazine had a circulation of ten thousand subscribers. 

By 1860 it had 150,000 subscribers and was the most popular journal of its day. Hale used her influence to advocate for the establishment of a national Thanksgiving Holiday and other various causes, including advocating for women’s education.

Best known for the fashion plate that appeared at the start of each issue, other articles and editorials helped shape many of the traditions practiced by American families today.

The above picture is based on an image of Queen Victoria and her decorated Christmas tree previously published in The Illustrated London News in December 1848. 

A revised version was copied in Godey’s in 1850 and removed what was referred to as royal trappings from Victoria’s tiara and Prince Albert’s mustache to remake the picture into an American scene. It was the first widely circulated picture of a decorated evergreen Christmas tree in America and was reprinted in 1860. By the 1870s, a Christmas tree was common in the United States.

Appearing in the December 1890 issue in Godey’s Lady’s Book, Hale wrote, At no time in all the year is the heart so filled with joy or the home so replete with genuine home love and home feeling as during the time that leads us up to the holiday season. Christmas Day is, to be sure our day of days-the most joyful of all the season; but surely every home-mother at least will agree that the days of preparation before Christmas are filled with a quiet, stead, soul-stirring happiness that could not be exchanged for any singe day of revelry. 

For is it not during the weeks that precede the holidays that we prepare gifts for our dear ones? Are we not busy planning and scheming and perhaps denying ourselves some coveted thing that we may enrich those we love? 

In Europe, it was fashionable to chop off the tip of a large fir to use as a Christmas tree. However, since this practice prevented the tree from growing taller and made it useless as a timber tree, statutes were enacted to limit people from having more than one tree. With the introduction of the “goose-feather tree” made in Germany as early as 1845, this problem was resolved. Goose feathers were plentiful, and what was perhaps the first artificial tree began to be produced as a cottage industry as the alternative to cutting a live tree. 

Meanwhile, in America, cut live trees were the cherished way to make the holiday come alive. German immigrants brought their portable feather tree to the United States and introduced the Victorian feather Christmas tree. However, using artificial trees did not become popular until Sears Roebuck first advertised artificial trees for sale in their 1913 catalogs.

Here is the gist of A FRESH START FOR CHRISTMAS:

Memphis Rose Griffin loves teaching at Counting Stars Children’s Home. The girls and staff are like family, and working here ties her to her mother, whose last wish was for Memphis to take her place as teacher. But something’s missing. Now at the age of twenty-eight, her teenage dream of having her own family has all but faded.

Until her pastor and the orphanage founder come with a proposal that will change her life forever. Should she become their first candidate for their new matchmaking venture? Though grim, at least her future at the orphanage is familiar and certain. Can she risk an unknown future with a man she’s never met?

The last thing thirty-three-year-old Mike Montgomery wants is to marry again, especially to someone he’s never met. His family has other plans for him and completes the application without his permission–even changing some of his preferences to make him seem more intriguing. Can two star-crossed candidates dare to dream again?

Purchase link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B081SF6HCK

Kimberly Grist is married to her high school sweetheart, Nelson, a former teacher and coach, now a pastor. They have three adult sons, one with Down syndrome, and they have a passion for encouraging others with family members with special needs.

I’ve enjoyed writing since I was a young girl; however, I began writing my first novel in 2017. Inspired by so many things life has to offer, one of which includes our oldest son’s cancer diagnosis, it’s especially gratifying to write a happy ending.

I believe you should come away refreshed and inspired after reading a book. In my personal life, I wear so many hats, working inside and outside the home. I work hard, try harder, and then begin again the next day. Despite my best efforts, sometimes life stinks. Bad things happen. I need and want an outlet, an opportunity to relax and escape to a place where obstacles are met and overcome. My stories are designed to entertain, refresh, and inspire you, the reader. They combine History, Humor, and Romance, with an emphasis on Faith, Friends, and Good Clean Fun.

Links:

Website:https://kimberlygrist.com/

F.B.https://www.facebook.com/FaithFunandFriends/

Sign up for my newsletter:  https://mailchi.mp/a920c145512a/kimberlygrist

Amazon: Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Kimberly-Grist/e/B07H2NTJ71

A Christmas Story

Mary Vee joins us this week, bringing her new novel, a great gift for mystery lovers. Mary writes “never give up” stories, and is offering a paperback giveaway to one commenter. Sounds great to me!

Thank you, Gail for inviting me to be a guest. I’m so excited to meet your readers!

Where Can We find Amazing Characters?

The best answer to this question is: characters can be found all around us. Not in movies or books, those characters already had their journey. Our character is among the people we see wherever we go. 

For example, I took a river cruise on the Rhine. The prices had dropped, drawing regular folk like me into a world I wouldn’t typically see. The first night, a woman of class, dressed for evening dinner, sat at the round table next to mine. She asked the waiter for tea. Moments later, a person at her table spilled a beverage. Liquid flowed across the table soaking everything in its path. The stylish woman scooted back and waved her fingers in front of her face. The waitstaff dashed to clean the table, replacing items and lavishing apologies to the noble woman. Her wide eyes proclaimed such aghast over the situation, but she spoke not a word. 

With the table finally ready, she slowly drew her cup to her lips then stopped. Above the rim and straight in her view was the remaining damp circle on the linen tablecloth. She slowly returned her teacup to the saucer. The next pause lasted only a moment before she reached to the place setting next to her, removed a sparkling white napkin from under the silverware, unfurled it, and draped it over the imposing damp area. Her satisfied shoulders rested in place. All was well with the earth once again. She picked up her teacup and drank.

This woman formed the bones of my next character. I have no idea her true name, but she has become an amusing, lovely woman of style and wealth who has a journey like any other character. One that reveals she too is loved.

So, Sylvia’s Secret, a Christmas story was born. Fifteen days before Christmas, the staff at Sylvia Duvet’s mansion discover she is missing. Her daughter arrives at Detective Carhill’s office in a panic, concerned the gossipers and media will create their own story, embarrassing the family name. After all, a wealthy widow only disappears if…she simply can’t bear to think of those possibilities. Sylvia Secretis on sale for only $0.99. The link is below.

Considering the difficult times we’ve all experienced in 2020, remember the wealthy in your prayers too. They suffer in a different way, but their hearts are hurt as much as ours. Money does not solve all problems. Only God does. We all need supportive, trustworthy friends. Jesus longs to be our friend, our tower of strength, our provider, our anchor…

May you be blessed with the peace that passes all understanding.

Here is a question for you: Name your favorite character and the book they live inside. Also, tell something fun/unusual/interesting about this character.

Answer in the comment section to be eligible to win a copy of Sylvia’s Secret. Sorry, US addresses only. If the winner prefers, an eBook will be sent.

Thank you for joining Gail and me today!

Mary’s fabulous website: https://www.maryveewriter.com

Book link: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Vee/e/B01N0XTYIQ

I’m excited to talk with you in the comments. If you’d like to chat more, visit me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram under Mary Vee.

Murder Walks on Peachtree Street

Welcome to Nancy Arant Williams, who lives in the beautiful Ozarks of Missouri. She’s highlighting her latest novel, and offering a free trade paperback of her trilogy called Bear Me on Angels’ Wings to one commenter. I’m particularly intrigued by how her writing career began later in life:

1999 should’ve been a good year for me, because my husband retired and we were moving to the beautiful Missouri Ozarks, where we were having a home built. But for me, it was a traumatic time, because it meant leaving Nebraska, the only home I’d ever known, as well as my network of friends, relatives and neighbors, our church, and our children and grandchildren.

I don’t acclimate easily to change, and was struggling, so my doctor put me on an antidepressant to ease the transition. We moved March 1, during a gray and icy spell in Missouri, into our unfinished home to complete it, and it was cold, muddy and not the least bit appealing. 

Once the house was finished, I had nothing to do with my time, so I asked the Lord what on earth I was supposed to do in such a foreign environment. And because I had never written a thing in my life I was stunned to hear him say, “Sit down, because I want you to learn to write for me.”

I argued for a while until I realized how therapeutic this would be. He even gave me dreams, with scenes and dialogue running through them, showing me the story in movie format. It flowed easily and filled my emotional bucket, until I was no longer depressed and had no further need for the antidepressant. Ultimately he showed me that this new niche was the perfect place to write, quiet, wooded, and on a small three-acre private lake, picturesque in every season. 

Writing was satisfying and fun because the characters were animated and zany; it wasn’t long before they seemed like real live people I’d love to know. Once the first book was done, it was clear there would be several more in a series. By the time I’d completed the series, Missouri felt like the home that I never wanted to leave.

Only God knew that my tough new start would open doors of destiny I could never have imagined, making readers laugh and cry. But best of all, they could see the love of God through fiction. Writing still fills my emotional bucket like nothing else, and best of all, there is no compulsory retirement date in my future.   

Peachtree contrasts with other books in that the characters are middle-aged, and the book is more slice-of-life than any single genre, containing humor, conspiracy, murder, romance, etc., which makes it stand alone.

Excerpt from Peachtree Street:

Makkie Yeats is a fifty-three-year-old retired RN, whose life has been turned upside down. She’s still struggling to adjust to the idea of once again living with her dominant, social-climbing older sister Zoe after their mother tricked them into moving in together. In fact, things have been in such an uproar that she’s stunned to realize she hasn’t seen or heard from her dear friend, Ferdy Wallace, the wife of their family doctor, for months. After several failed attempts to phone, she’s desperate for answers, so she drives to Ferdy’s house and presses the bell. 

     No answer. I rang again, and waited another minute, before circling to the back of the house, where sliding glass doors led into Ferdy’s room. The curtains were pulled and the slider was locked, leaving me feeling more frantic than ever. 

    At the front door again, I tried the knob. It wasn’t locked, so I walked in. I called, “Hello, is anyone here?” At the door of her room, I knocked, heard a faint sound, and let myself in. All I could do was stare in shock. Ferdy, a small mound under the covers, was nearly unrecognizable; she had aged at least twenty years since my last visit several months earlier. Her normally porcelain skin was gray and sunken and her frame skeletal. Her striking white hair was sparse and dull, and her eyes were glazed. 

    I took her hand. “Ferdy, It’s Makkie. Can you hear me?” 

    She turned her head slightly, trying to focus. “Makkie,” she whispered, then closed her eyes as if exhausted. 

    “Ferdy, what’s going on? Where’s Silvey?” Silvey was their live-in housekeeper.

Just then Silvey stomped into the room. “What are you doing here?” she demanded.

    “I came to check on Ferdy. What’s happened, Silvey? Why does she look so bad?”

    Her green eyes flashed angrily. “I don’t know exactly, but Doc’s taking care of her. Now you need to leave.”

    “I’m not leaving until I talk to her alone. So get out, close the door, and don’t let it hit you in the fanny on your way out.” 

    She left, but I knew she’d be calling Doc, and my heart skipped a beat as I realized the trouble I’d be in when he arrived. 

    “Ferdy, I need you to tell me what’s wrong. Can you do that?”

    She looked at me, trying to focus, and I could see she was drugged to the point of sedation. I took her hand in mine. “Ferdy, is Doc doing this to you?” She nodded with effort. 

    “I’m calling an ambulance.”

    Before thinking, I picked up her extension and heard Doc and Silvey talking. I heard him rage, “Well, get rid of her before she finds out!”

    I carefully hung up, dug my flip phone from my pocket and dialed 911. When I felt reassured that help was on the way, I lifted the fragile woman into her wheelchair and pushed the hair out of her eyes. 

    “I’m taking you outside to wait for the ambulance.” I pushed her down the hall at a fast clip and was pulling the front door open when Silvey rushed me. 

    “What do you think you’re doing?” she screeched. “You can’t take her out of her home. I won’t let you.” 

    “Just try to stop me.”

    “Don’t think I won’t You cant take her. You can’t!”

    I pushed Ferdy through the front door, heading for the curb. Silvey had followed us a few steps out the front door, only to turn back toward the house. Now I could hear her gaining on us. She whirled around in front of me and said, “Get out of here, Makkie, before I call the sheriff.” 

    I frowned. “Go ahead and call him. I’d like him to investigate exactly what’s going on here.”

    She stopped in her tracks, eyes aflame. “What do you mean, ‘what’s going on here?’”

    “You know exactly what I mean.” She backed off a little, and I had nearly decided to haul Ferdy in my car when I heard sirens. Turning toward the sound, I saw a blur of movement and was hit from behind with something heavy. I could feel my legs buckling, and my consciousness fading, a flash of pain at the back of my head. My next lucid thought occurred when I woke in the back of the ambulance . . .  

NEED SOME SWEETNESS?

Dana Mentink’s novel FETCHING SWEETNESS features a lovable canine, and sounds refreshing in this time of worry and frustration. I’m glad to welcome her to DARE TO BLOOM. She’s giving away a signed paperback copy (or e-book for international) to a commenter.

Hi, there! I’m Dana Mentink. I’m here to spread around a little sweetness!

In Fetching Sweetness, a novel I wrote for Harvest House, Rhett Hastings is a desperately unhappy corporate mogul, a worldly success. Stephanie Pink is hanging onto an identity that no longer fits God’s vision for her life. Two people who have made a muddle of things are struggling to discover their true identities. Can you relate? I sure can. In this ever changing world jobs, families, past times are being uprooted, changed up or distanced at a moments notice and it’s so easy to feel shaken to the core! 

But then… there’s Sweetness, the picture of contentment!

Processed with MOLDIV

He’s just a big goofy dog with bad manners and no pedigree who changes everything. Dogs do that, sometimes. Did you ever wonder why people just adore dogs? Sure they’re man’s best friend, but why it is so precious to enjoy the company of a dog, even a big elephantine and poorly trained critter like Sweetness? Here’s my theory:

-Dogs do not care a fig about what you’ve done in the world. Homeless, helpless, failed and floundering? That tail will still wag when you show up. Dogs are not confused by worldly identities. 

-Dogs forgive. Forgot the dog treat yesterday? Used a harsh tone towards Sparky? Didn’t make time to walk your pet? Dogs forgive. Today is a new day, a clean slate and another chance to be the kind of person God made you to be. 

-Dogs see your potential. So you’re not in perfect shape? So you didn’t finish school? Get that job? Hang onto that relationship? You have not accomplished the dreams you had for your life? The dog sees the great qualities you still possess even if you have lost sight of them. You were made to love. You were made to comfort others. You were made to make your way through this earth, and share burdens, joys and the Good News (in person or socially distanced…whatever way it works.) 

It’s so incredible, isn’t it, to know that no matter how we disappoint, fall down, succeed or don’t succeed, there is nothing that will separate us from the love of the God who made us? Now if that isn’t a sweet piece of news, I don’t know what is!  

Dana Mentink is a two time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner, a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and a Holt Medallion winner. She is a national bestselling author of over forty titles in the suspense and lighthearted romance genres. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense, Harlequin Heartwarming and Sourcebooks. She enjoys teaching writing classes at conferences, and loves to be home with Papa Bear, teen bear cubs affectionately nicknamed Yogi and Boo Boo, Junie, the  nutty terrier, and a chubby box turtle. You can connect with Dana via her website at danamentink.com, on Facebook, YouTube (Author Dana Mentink) and Instagram (dana_mentink.) 

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/dana

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Yorkshire Lass

Welcome to author Carol Nemeth with her Faith in the Parks series, where you’ll find suspense and romance. Carol tells us about her writing, and is giving away an e-book copy of Yorkshire Lass to one commenter.

His Perfect Timing

As an author who began writing as a teen, I was confident I would get published early too. After all, my love of writing was as heartfelt and important as any other author’s. Right? No doubt true, my love of writing certainly didn’t guarantee publication. Far from it. Not until our second child’s birth did I finish a novel and attempt publication.

That journey was fraught with disappointment, rejection and self-reflection. My first novel, Yorkshire Lass, was rejected time and again, leaving me to wonder if writing was God’s will for my life. Or had I pushed my plans ahead of His?

I prayed, If it’s not Your will for me to continue writing and pursue publication, then, Lord, please take away this love and desire to write. It never went away as I continued praying and submitting my manuscript. More rejections followed. One publisher gave me hope as they made manuscript suggestions with the idea they might take it. They didn’t.

Disappointment again filled me. I kept praying, but God was silent. Even in His silence, my desire to write and to publish my novel showed me He hadn’t said no. He was telling me to wait. Like most of God’s children, I struggled with waiting for His perfect timing.

Our daughter was born in 1990, and I began Yorkshire Lasssoon after that. It was finally published March of 2016, nearly twenty-six years after it was finished. I may never know all the reasons my Abba Father led me on that disappointment-fraught journey to publication, but He taught me some things.

His timing is always perfect, and I must trust His timing. The details of my life are better left in His hands to work out the proper time for them to happen. Psalm 27:14 says “Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”

I discovered God has our best interests at heart. Jeremiah 29:11 says “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” He didn’t withhold publication from me because He was angry or being mean. Whatever His reasons, He chose 2016 to publish my first novel. Since then we’ve published eight more books. He’s blessed me in ways I never expected.

American Jessica Montgomery arrives in WW I England to be greeted with the horrible news that local vagrants and homeless folk are being found murdered. With a killer skulking through the North Yorkshire Dales, she and Grandmother Morag McDonald fear for the safety of the orphans living at Hope Orphanage. With the help of local Dr. Garth Samuels, they do all they can to protect them. Is it a deranged individual who is the harbinger of death or could it be something far more sinister? As they search for answers to end the horror, Jess learns who she can and cannot trust, but it may be too late when she finds her own life in danger.

A native North Carolinian, I always loved reading since childhood and making up stories since junior high school. I worked in the National Park Service and served in the US Army where I was stationed in Italy. There I met the love of my Life, Mark Nemeth, also an Army veteran. After we married, we lived in various locations including North Yorkshire, England. We now live in West Virginia, where in our spare time, Mark and I enjoy camping and sightseeing. We’re active in our church and enjoy our two grown children, son-in-law and three grandchildren. I’m a member of ACFW and have written and published nine books.

You may connect with Carol here:

Amazon Author Central – https://amzn.to/2AbdKRa

https://www.jcarolnemeth.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/dashboard

https://www.pinterest.com/carolnemeth1/

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCnUhQR2avhaC3Pb-2nbozZg/videos

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/j-carol-nemeth

Monthly newsletter signup through my webpage or my Facebook Author page

Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days

People like me get excited about books for writing, so I’m thrilled to welcome Zoe McCarthy this week. For years, I followed her helpful blog posts that explained grammar and usage in a hands-on manner, and now has compiled them into a text that I’ve enjoyed perusing. And she is giving away a

My review: This volume literally (pardon the pun) bursts with necessary information for both fiction and non-fiction writers. Through the years I’ve consulted various grammar handbooks, and also used several in instructing college writing classes. I can heartily recommend this one. Concise and filled with down-to-earth examples, it offers treasure to serious writers.

I congratulate the commenter who wins her giveaway of a signed copy. To qualify, just leave a note for her in the comment section. And here is Zoe:

“You need to turn your blog posts into a book on writing,” an editor told me. Then a few weeks later, literary agent Diana Flegal said the same thing. She later wrote, “Since the market for fiction writers is tougher than ever, I bugged Zoe, and her agent, for a Zoe McCarthy writing book.” So, I took these professionals’ advice and created Tailor Your Fiction Manuscript in 30 Days.

On the eve of Halloween, I’ll share scary challenges that confronted me and snippet assurances I received in endorsements.

Overwhelming material.I’d researched and written over 150 posts on writing topics I’d used in writing my seven inspirational romances and teaching writing workshops. I didn’t want to dump posts into a book. How could I organize so many posts into a coherent guide for writers? Scary. I wish you could’ve seen the posts’ print-outs stacked into meaningful piles covering my office floor and furniture. Editor coordinator for Pelican Book Group, Jamie West, wrote, “A concise, detailed, step-by-step resource for all writers.”

Daunting dream. How could I structure the book to help writers get their manuscripts in shape and guide first-time writers in writing their stories? I wanted to free writers from experiencing rejections like I’d received on my journey. Freelance editor Denise Loock wrote, “If you follow her advice and implement her strategies, a publisher will be much more likely to issue you a contract.”

Perfection. Since Tailor teaches writing, I wanted it to be perfect. Recently I spotted a typo in one of my examples.Ugh. I wrote, “I didn’t steal this heroine.” I meant a drug, not a woman. Multi-published author Tanya Hanson said, “As an English teacher, I can attest that her tips on good grammar and her hints for excellent sentence and paragraph structure are spot on. But as an author, I also appreciate her ever-present advice that excellent skills are not enough: you must tell a good story, too.”

Confidence. No scary ghost can attack me on one aspect. I believe in Tailor. Multi-award-winning author and president of Word Weavers, Eva Marie Everson, penned, “Zoe McCarthy’s book is a fresh and innovative refocusing of your novel or novella. Through a few simple—and fun—steps, Zoe helps writers take their … manuscripts to a spit-polish finish.”

Aspiration.I hope Tailor will lessen fear of writing. Bestselling cozy mystery author and  Twitteriffic owner, Elizabeth Spann Craig, wrote, “Zoe M. McCarthy’s step-by-step reference guide leads you through the process, helping you fight feeling over-whelmed.” I smiled.

Links: 

https://www.facebook.com/ZoeMMcCarthyAuthor/

Little Reminders of Who I Am

Today we welcome Jeff S. Bray and his Hallmark-type novel. Having a male romance author here is unique, so I asked Jeff to share a little about his journey. Enjoy, and please see below for qualifying for his GIVEAWAY of a free signed copy of Little Reminders.

Little Reminders, as with most of my writing, began with a dream. However, the final product came out quite differently than the dream. Yet, two components remained the same, the characters and the premise of the novel that developed. I don’t want to give too much away, but the ‘reminders’ weigh heavily within the dream and the novel’s entirety.  

I really wanted to have fun with this one, since my first novel The Five Barred Gate was much more serious. It was about our freedoms as Christians being taken away from us and takes place in a dystopian world where being offensive to another person is illegal. I know that doesn’t seem so far-fetched. I wrote TFBG in 2016 and watched the world decline after it was released. Talk about seeing my writing unfold before my eyes.

So, with Little Reminders of Who I Am, I wanted to do a 180 through writing a love story, a true Hallmark-Saturday-in-your-pajamas book. And I do believe this novel delivers in spades.

My love for food comes from eight years of working in restaurants, which becomes evident in Little Reminders. By default, this makes me the cook in our family, where I am also a stay-at-home-parent of four boys and one girl. My wife goes to work, while I stay at home and run our household. Well, that is a half-truth. As a freelance writer, my job allows me the freedom of being at home. 

When I am not fulfilling a client’s demand, I am promoting Little Reminders, penning my next novel, or writing a blog for my website, Moments for the Heart. I enjoy what I do and have had a passion for writing since I was in high school. I would love for you to visit my website, follow me on my FB page, JeffSBrayAuthor, and check out Little Reminders of Who I Am. In fact, I am going to make this interesting.  If you complete the following two steps, I will enter your name into a drawing for a free signed copy of Little Reminders of Who I Am.

First, like and follow my Facebook page, JeffSBrayAuthor.

Second, leave a reply to this post saying that you have liked my page.  

That’s it. Do those two things and you could win a signed copy of my new release Little Reminders of Who I Am. Thank you again for your time and support. 

In His Exciting Service,

Jeff S. Bray

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/JeffSBrayAuthor/Website – https://www.jeffsbrayauthor.comTwitter – https://twitter.com/JeffSBrayAuthorInstagram – https://www.instagram.com/jeffsbrayauthor/LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/jeffsbrayauthor/Email – www.jeff@jeffsbrayauthor.com

The Firefly Warriors Club

Susan Count brings one of her middle-grade novels to us today. What a fascinating story of her writing method and how the idea for the FIREFLY WARRIORS came to her–and she’s offering a GIVEAWAY, too. Commenter’s choice of a $10 Amazon gift card or a signed paperback of this book.

This story is overflowing with information for young scientists, and the author integrates ways modern laws can be used to protect endangered species. What a great Christmas gift for a grandchild!

Now Susan shares her writing story with us:

Oh what fun it is to be a middle-grade author!

Selah’s Sweet Dream was my first book. I was 62. I had NO idea about craft, so I didn’t write it with middle grade in mind—it just turned out to be the voice of the story. Then a friend read and loved it, so I wrote to Dandi Mackall—you know her as a well-respected Christian children’s author. Bless her heart—she answered me. At her prompting, I joined SCBWI and worked with a critique group for two years on the novel. At the end, I was in love with the process and couldn’t stop writing. I still have that problem today.

I prefer to fabricate stories in a quiet zone. Out my window, my mind wanders across the forest and keeps me in a grateful state of being. I write at a fabulous antique desk that has secret compartments filled with horse story ideas.

My schedule changes with the seasons of life. The sunniest of times is when I can equally balance the best things in my life—riding my horse and writing my stories. When the weather is bad, I write more. If it’s glorious, then I ride more.

I’m not a fast writer because I re-read and then listen for the next line. Editing is my super-power but plotting is the greatest fun. I write the story beats on sticky notes and plaster them on a glass sliding door. I especially love to plot with my grandchildren. They are full of fun ideas. I have to keep asking them “and then what could go wrong” because they will stick a happy ending into every scene. How delightful to be a child. I feel strongly this age should have their hearts and minds sheltered from the world’s evils. If it were up to me, I’d keep them innocent for as long as possible.

My new release, The Firefly Warriors Club,is a major departure from the horse books I normally write. The story came about after the bushes in the forest surrounding our home came to life with thousands of twinkling lights. We’d never seen such a spectacular show and have not seen one like it since. Then I learned that many children have not only never seen the miraculous firefly, but have never heard of them. God filled our world with delights and clues to His existence. It’s our job to draw young readers near to the light.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B089M1XJXW/
http://www.susancount.com
https://www.facebook.com/susancount/
https://www.pinterest.com/susancount/
https://twitter.com/SusanCount
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14771062.Susan_Count

Middle-Grade Sci-Fi on Deck!

I’m happy to welcome Carole Marie Shelton, an award-winning writer. She’s the author of middle grade novel, Cosmic Chaos (Ashberry Lane, 2015), and the author of a soon-to-be-released picture book, Sasquatch Loves Bacon Day!(Clear Fork, 2021). She and her four children live in the Pacific Northwest where they enjoy hiking and seeking new adventures.   Carole is giving away TWO COPIES of Cosmic Chaos to commenters–great Christmas gift for a middle-grade child!

Our world was suddenly turned upside down. I was in the process of writing two separate middle grade novels, while also researching an idea for a sci-fi novel when I received a call that urgent help was needed. My extended family had an emergency, which resulted in my young cousin coming to live with us.

We knew it would be temporary, we just didn’t know how long. We welcomed him with open arms and enjoyed having him in our home. And through each day, every moment of his time with us, there was this quiet fierceness emanating from him with determination to get back to his mom, no matter what. 

It occurred to me that this was the same goal of the main character, Logan, in my science fiction story idea — to get back to his mom. And Logan is close to the same age as my cousin. I decided this was the time to write Cosmic Chaos, not later.  I needed to write while I could see and experience the intensity and longing coming from this young man so I could accurately apply it to my story.  

I finally completed the first draft about two years after Logan returned to his mom and the book was published just a few years later in 2015 by Ashberry Lane. I’m so thankful for my cousin’s stay with us; otherwise, that science fiction story idea may have never been written. 

Cosmic Chaos is a sci-fi middle grade adventure novel intended for older elementary kids:   

Twelve-year-old Logan lives inside the Luna Biodome on the moon. Not only is the moon dust making him sick, it also sets him apart from the other kids. While Logan is inside his new robot’s interactive program, his illness disappears and mysteries occur that he can’t explain. 

When Logan meets an annoying, yet undeletable program character named Amy, their misadventures awaken him to a glitch — a secret that could return him to Earth to track down his missing mother. But only if Amy will cooperate before the moon’s lockdown and before the new robot destroys him. 

Connect with Carole 

Website and blog: www.carolemarie.com 

FaceBook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCaroleMarie/ 

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CaroleMarie55 

Instagram:  https://www.instagram.com/carolemarie55/ 

To order Cosmic Chaos on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Cosmic-Chaos-C-M-Shelton/dp/1941720250/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=cosmic+chaos+shelton&qid=1601147968&sr=8-1
See More from Gail