Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Register to win Kelly Irvin's "A Plain Love Song"


We're happy to have Kelly Irvin with us today talking about her book,  A Plain Love SongPlease leave her a comment for your chance to win a copy. If you've not yet done so, please place your email address in the feedburner box to the right to receive email updates regarding book giveaways. To learn more about Kelly and her book, read on!

The Story behind the story
By Kelly Irvin

I had as much fun writing A Plain Love Song as perhaps any book I’ve written. I fell in love with both heroes, I got to write the lyrics for country music songs, visit Branson, MO, with my hubby, and try my hand at playing the guitar (total failure by the way). Having said that, the premise explored in A Plain Love Song is a serious one. For those ofus who aren’t Amish, it’s hard to imagine a faith that prohibits playing music on a guitar. But most Amish see playing instruments as a way of drawing attention to self, something they never want to do. Look at the adulation we pour out upon singers and musicians whobecome celebrities pinned under a microscope by the media. Autographs and screaming teenagers and the red carpet on awards night. For the Amish this is the antithesis of what they believe in. Keep yourselves apart from the world. Be humble. Be obedient to God’s will.

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve of what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”Romans 12:2 (NIV)

Adah Knepp knows what her District and her family expect of her and she wants desperately to be happy where she is. But the songs bubble out of her faster than she can write them down and she doesn’t know how to silence them. She loves her family and shethinks she’s in love with Matthew Troyer. Then she meets a cowboy musician named Jackson Hart who falls in love with her and makes it his mission to help her make her dreams come true. He teaches her to play the guitar. He shows her a life she could only dream of before. Bright lights, sequins, and music on every corner found in Branson, MO.

Adah has to make choices. Just as we all do. Her family and her faith or her dream of becoming a singer-songwriter. I know a little about how that feels. When I was younger I chose to give up a job that had me climbing the ladder to bigger, better market newspapers so I could follow my husband to a new job that would better his career. WhenI had children I chose to give up my newspaper career altogether and get into public relations in hope that the hours and pay would be better for the sake of my family. (Yes, I was naïve.) My husband and I chose to stay in a top twenty TV market rather than taking his career to the next level of a top ten market because San Antonio is a better place to raise children than any of those top ten cities. We sacrificed career dreams for family and time has shown that we made the choices right for us and our family.

Adah has to decide what she’s willing to sacrifice for her happiness and that of the peopleshe loves. That is a challenge faced across all faiths. What are you willing to give up for family and faith?

Monday, September 22, 2014

Angela Meyer's "Where Hope Starts"

Title: Where Hope Starts 
Publisher:  CrossRiver Media Group 

Cover blurb: In a city full of dreams… Karen Marino’s life is a nightmare. The New York City restaurant manager is a professiional success, but her marriage is in shambles. When her husband, Barry shows up drunk at her restaurant, she loses both. She flees The Big Apple and returns to her Midwestern home to sort through her options. But instead of answers, she finds an old boyfriend ready to rekindle romance, a family full of secrets and an angry brother bent on revenge.Still in New York, Barry fights his own demons. He knows he messed up, but is powerless to stop his rage and addictions. A fistfight on the streets of the city lands him in jail and forces him to face the possibility of a future behind bars. Karen knows holding onto her bitterness won’t repair her marriage. But how do you forgive someone when you don’t feel like it? As she searches for the answer, she uncovers the family secret that threatens to tear them all apart. Can she find her way back to the place Where Hope Starts?

1) How did this story come to you?
Although not about my family, my family did inspire the idea. My sisters and I used to talk about what had influenced us to be who we were. It was like figuring out a puzzle. I learned that no matter what, forgiveness had to be part of the equation if we were to become all that God had in mind for us. From there, I thought what if a family of siblings with a messed up childhood came together to figure out how to move beyond their past. And Where Hope Starts was born. 

2) Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.
I wrote Where Hope Starts about 3 years before I found my publisher. It went through several edits/revisions during that time. In the fall of 2011, I planned to attend HACWN writers conference, but had to cancel due to family budget. An anonymous donor provided a full scholarship for me to attend. At this conference, I met the acquisitions editor for CrossRiver Media Group and she invited me to send in my manuscript. They offered me a contract and over the next 18 months, I worked to develop my platform and prepare for my book’s release. It has been quite a ride.  

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
1) When I was in Junior High, I was in a clown troupe!
2) When I was a Senior in High School, I became a CNA (nurse assistant). 
3) I gave birth to both my kids without any medicine/pain reliever.  

4) What are you working on now and what's next for you?
The second book in the Applewood Hill series, Where Healing Starts, is due for release in 2015. I am currently working on the third book in the series, Where Joy Starts. 

5) Parting comments?
For new authors who are still working on their manuscript or looking for their first contract, get busy on your platform. It is never too early to start. And join a critique group- invaluable for improving your craft. 

6) Where can fans find you on the internet?
Website: www.angeladmeyer.com
Newsletter sign up: http://eepurl.com/Nxrsz  
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAngelaDMeyer  
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/angeladmeyer63/  
Google+ : https://plus.google.com/u/0/100594512535685420838/posts  
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AngelaDMeyer 
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC6pbnp73dVUxFHTxzrp9zxQOther 
Blogs I am a regular contributor to:www.Wordsowers.com www.puttingonthenew.com 

Bio: Angela D. Meyer is the author of Where Hope Starts, a finalist in the 2014 Grace awards. Her short story, More to the Story, was a genre winner for the 2014 Family Fiction short story contest and she is a contributor to the devotional collection The Benefit Package. You can catch Angela on social media encouraging women in their faith journey and watch her video devotionals on her YouTube channel. She lives in Nebraska with her family and is active in her local Christian writers group.



Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Laura V. Hilton's "White Christmas in Webster County"



1) How long were you writing before your first publication? How many manuscripts had you written by that time?  

Have you published any of your early works since? Do you plan to?  I started writing when I was in third grade. None of those early works were published. My first two books were published by a small press. And I wouldn’t publish any more of my earlier books without rewriting them. I have learned so much about writing since I first began.

2) What’s your favorite setting for writing -- at home, in a coffee shop, on the front porch, sitting cross-legged on the living room couch, etc?  

I sit in the living room, in the hub of the family. I have five children and a husband who like access.  I would love an office – someday. My living room is cluttered with writing books, reading books, homeschool books, notes, etc.

3) Are you a morning person? A night owl?  

More of a middle of the day person.

4) When working on a manuscript, what do you do when you get stuck? 

First, I pray. Then if an immediate answer doesn’t come, I pick up a book and read. Or research something I need to know.

5) Do you ever read your dialog aloud to see how it sounds? Have you ever performed
an action you want one of your characters to carry out in order to help you visualize or
describe it?
  

I have done both. Or had someone do it for me. If I am alone (no children around) I will sometimes read dialog out loud. Usually my daughter reads over my shoulder as I write and she’ll correct me.  As for the trying something to visualize it, I wanted to see what it would be like to kick the backseat of a car in from the trunk, and if they could kick out the tail lights. We didn’t actually kick them out – but it could be done.

6) How did you come up with the idea for your latest release? 

I wanted to do an Amish Christmas story and thought it would be nice to do one around my current setting. But I’m not as talented as some authors who do many different points of views and story lines in the same book, so I picked my latest release in which the hero had a twin brother and prayed about the story and the main points behind it.

7) Do you model characters after people you know? Are any of them (the real people, not
the characters) aware of it? 

Not intentionally. Sometimes I can see certain aspects of someone in my story. But, no, I never went around to the people that I unintentionally wrote about and said “you’re my hero in my story.” Or “You’re the bad guy in my story.”

8) Are your protagonists a lot like their creator? Or do you try to make them as unlike you as possible?  

Not very many of them are like me. A couple may have one of my traits – such as being quiet or shy.  But otherwise, no. They are very different from me.

9) Do you also write short stories, nonfiction, articles, devotionals, or other things, or are
you strictly a novelist? 
  

I have written some articles and some devotionals.

10) If you felt the Holy Spirit urging you to quit writing, would you do it? 

Yes. But it would be hard. Creating and the resulting prayer and Bible study is very much a part of who I am as well as the ministry He has called me to.

11) Do you read your reviews? Have you ever replied to one? Do you find they influence
your writing when you work on subsequent books?  

I try not to read my reviews. I am at the point where people randomly choose to write one star reviews. “I downloaded it not realizing it was a Christian book.” Or “There’s no sex, so it must be a book for early readers.” I do scan the 5 or 4 star ones occasionally, for marketing blurbs to quote.

12) What question do you find most annoying on author interviews?  What is the take away you intend for the reader to get from your book? 

 I am bothered by that because what I take away from the book and what God wants a reader to take from it may not be the same thing.  


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Amber Stockton's "A Grand Design"


 Blurb:
A fun getaway on a charming island may be just what Alyssa needs…if only she can let go of her past.

Fifteen years ago, Alyssa Denham stopped taking her annual summer trip to Mackinac Island, refusing to tell anyone the reason she avoided the island she loved as a child. Now here she is, unexpectedly on the island for two weeks with her best friend, Libby, trying to keep her secret buried.
 

Alyssa’s grandmother, who lives on the island, has asked Alyssa and Libby to help piece together a friendship quilt she had started years earlier. Their quest takes them to the homes of some of her grandmother’s long-lost friends, giving Alyssa amazing insight into her grandmother’s life…and attracting the attention of the handsome Scott Whitman.
 

Will memories of her past keep Alyssa from letting go? Or will she finally learn to trust and let God heal her fractured heart?

Amber Stockton’s ”A Grand Design”

Ever since childhood when I first saw the film, Somewhere in Time, starring Jane Seymour (Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman) and Christopher Reeve (Superman), I dreamed of visiting Mackinac Island (pronounced Mak-i-naw). If you want to step back in time and experience a little of life in the past, Mackinac Island won’t disappoint.

Once the writing bug bit me, I searched for a good story to set on Mackinac. It took two years after sending the story to my agent before I received a call telling me I’d just sold the book to Abingdon’s Quilts of Love line. This made me pause for a moment. Then, I replied, “That’s great, but there isn’t any quilt in that story.” She told me she’d added the quilt in order to submit it for consideration.

Grateful, but also perplexed, I now had to rework the entire premise and add in a quilt to be the unifying theme throughout the story. And I needed to do that in less than 6 months. Not an easy task for someone with absolutely zero quilting experience. The closest I’d ever come to a quilt was purchasing one in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, when I was in college. I don’t even know how to sew much more than buttons and a straight line. Add to that having two little ones (ages 3 and 5) underfoot all day, and the time to write becomes quite a challenge. But I’ve never let that stop me before!

A sale is a sale, right? And who was I to balk at having to rework my entire story? So, I set my mind to my task, consulted a friend who I knew quilted as a hobby, and wrote the book. After several months—and writing around a major home project of replacing our carpet with hardwood floors on one whole level—the story once called Adventure Island became A Grand Design and releases August 2014 from Abingdon.

Mackinac Island is vehicle-free, and transportation is limited to bicycles, horses, or walking. Utilizing your footwear allows you to take things slowly and investigate anything that piques your interest. The setting allowed me to bridge the gap between my previous historical novels and this contemporary one without losing the readership interest in all things historical. Though I haven’t walked away from writing historical, I am exploring other options to keep the writing steady. After all, an author is only as good as his/her next book.

Laying aside all this backstory, I had a fantastic time writing this book. Exploring the island, experiencing everything right along with my characters, and seeing the island through their eyes became an adventure in and of itself. Early reviews have come back stating this is my best story yet. But I'll let you decide.  Thanks for stopping by today and taking this journey with me.

For more information, visit these sites: www.mackinacisland.org, www.mackinac.com, www.michigan.org/hot-spots/mackinac-island, and www.grandhotel.com.

Tiffany Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since childhood. Today, she is an award-winning author and speaker who has partnered with Nerium International (stutas07.theneriumlook.com) in the anti-aging industry, helping others look younger and live better. She lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart Vaughn Stockton, in Colorado. They have one girl and one boy, and an Aussie/retriever mix named Roxie. She has sold fourteen books so far and is represented by agent Sandra Bishop. You can also find her on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AuthorAmberStockton) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/AmberStockton) as well as her web site (www.amberstockton.com)


For your chance to win Amber's book, answer either of these questions: 1) Where would you love to go if you could have your choice of any destination? 2) When was the last time you let a fear (either big or small) keep you from enjoying something life had to offer?


Monday, August 11, 2014

Mary Hamilton's "Speak No Evil"


Speak No Evil published by HopeSpringsBooks/Chalfont House

Cover Blurb: Having his younger sister at camp was a pain, but Taylor Dixon never expected the pain to go so deep.
At 15, Taylor dreams of getting his driver’s license and driving racecars when he’s older. Only his younger sister, Marissa, believes in his dreams, but her adventurous spirit keeps landing him in trouble. Dad won’t let Taylor get his license unless he stays out of trouble, and predicts he’s heading for the same jail cell as his once-favored older brother.
Taylor returns to Rustic Knoll Bible Camp, expecting softball, swimming and sermons. Then he discovers a classic Mustang in the camp’s machine shed, and the owner’s invitation to help restore it fuels his dream of driving race cars. But when Marissa falls for his snobbish cabin mate, the ensuing war of words and pranks escalates until it threatens to destroy both the car and his dreams for the future.
Will Taylor fulfill Dad’s prediction?
Or will the message of the old Mustang’s engine set him free from the prison he built himself?
Here’s a link to the book trailer: http://tinyurl.com/on44xf4

1. How did this story come to you?
Taylor was the bully who annoyed everyone in Book 1, Hear No Evil. I received several comments from readers that he was very appropriate to the times, so I decided to make him the star of the Speak No Evil. Making him likeable was a challenge, but the climax came to me early one morning while I was jogging. It unfolded in my mind as if I were watching a movie. So I knew where I needed to go with him.

2. Tell us about the journey to getting this book published.

I give my agent, Terry Burns, credit for this. He always suggests that if we have any ideas for a series, we should include a brief paragraph describing each successive book when we submit proposals. I received a contract for the first book, and a few days later, my editor sent me contracts for the two extra books I’d proposed for the series. As a new author, I never expected that, but Terry’s wisdom proved valuable.

3. Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
    1. When my kids were little, I’d buy gourmet chocolate chunk cookies and hide them in the freezer to enjoy when the kids were napping.
    2. I own a picture of Alan Alda (of television’s MASH fame) personally autographed to me.
    3. My name was supposed to be Mark Robert. My mother was so sure I’d be a boy that she didn’t bother picking a girl’s name…until after I was born.

4.What are you working on now and what’s next for you?

I’m working on See No Evil, the third book in the Rustic Knoll Bible Camp series. See No Evil will feature Steven, the blind camper from the first two stories. It’s due out next May.

5. Parting comments?
Although the book is aimed at 10-15 yr. olds, I’m finding a lot of adults are enjoying the series because it brings back memories of their own summer camp experiences. If you’re looking for a quick, fun read, I’d encourage you to try one of the Rustic Knoll Bible Camp books. Since each one focuses on a different character, they don’t need to be read in order.

6. Where can fans find you on the internet?
Website/blog: http://www.maryhamiltonbooks.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/maryhamiltonbooks
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/mhamiltonbooks
Twitter:@mhamilton122


 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Elizabeth Maddrey's "Hope Deferred"


Before I was first published, I wrote novels in several different genres. Well, I wrote the first three quarters of those novels at least. I never seemed to finish them. Then I started a romance. I love reading romance, so it’s not as if this was a new idea to me, but I’d had it in my mind that I wasn’t going to join the ranks of romance writers. But now I have and I’m firmly entrenched. I love it—and it’s so much less of a struggle than my other genre novels were. So, when I introduced a set of twin sisters in my novella Joint Venture, I didn’t think much about them. They were already engaged, so there was nothing left for me to write about.

 But a little whisper in the far reaches of my mind began. “What if…,” it said. I couldn’t shake it no matter how I tried. So, grudgingly, I sketched out a plan and chatted with my editor. She loved the idea. Secretly I’d been hoping she’d say no and I’d be able to move on. Stuck, I started writing. That became Faith Departed.

 Faith Departed is the beginning of a three-book series that follows sisters, June and July (pronounced Julie), as they and their husbands attempt to begin families. Hope Deferred, my July release, continues their story.

 Though my husband and I went through thirteen years of infertility, it was never anything I wanted to write about. Frankly, it wasn’t even something I wanted to talk about. Or think about. I imagine I’m not all that unusual. Infertility is hard. It’s hard on the individual and it’s hard on marriages. And it’s hard to talk about, even with friends and family. So generally speaking, people don’t. Which leaves you, the person hurting, to deal with your hurt on your own.

 It’s my prayer that as people read these books that they’ll get a little insight into how they can help friends who might be dealing with infertility. Or, if they’re going through it themselves, that they’ll realize they’re not alone.

 Bio:

Elizabeth Maddrey began writing stories as soon as she could form the letters properly and has never looked back. Though her practical nature and love of math and organization steered her into computer science for college and graduate school, she has always had one or more stories in progress to occupy her free time. When she isn’t writing, Elizabeth is a voracious consumer of books and has mastered the art of reading while undertaking just about any other activity. She loves to write about Christians who struggle through their lives, dealing with sin and receiving God’s grace.

Elizabeth lives in the suburbs of Washington D.C. with her husband and their two incredibly active little boys. She invites you to interact with her at her website www.ElizabethMaddrey.com or on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ElizabethMaddrey

 Social Media:
Website: http://www.ElizabethMaddrey.com
Facebook: http://www.Facebook.com/ElizabethMaddrey
Twitter: @elizabethmaddre
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/emaddrey/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ElizabethMaddrey/posts

Blurb:
Can pursuit of a blessing become a curse?

 June and July and their husbands have spent the last year trying to start a family and now they're desperate for answers. As one couple works with specialists to see how medicine can help them conceive, the other must fight to save their marriage.

 Will their deferred hope leave them heart sick, or start them on the path to the fulfillment of their dreams?


Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Gail Pallotta's "Stopped Cold"


Cover blurb:
Things aren’t what they seem in peaceful Mistville, North Carolina.
Margaret McWhorter enjoys a laid-back Freshman year in high school flirting with Jimmy Willmore, swimming and hanging out with friends—until that day. Her brother, Sean, suffers a stroke from taking a steroid. Now he’s lying unconscious in a hospital. Margaret’s angry at her dad for pushing Sean to be a great quarterback, but a fire of hatred burns inside her to make the criminals pay.
Looking for justice, she takes Jimmy and her best friend, Emily, through a twisted, drug-filled sub-culture. A clue sends them deep into the woods behind the school where they overhear drug dealers discuss Sean.
Time and time again they walk a treacherous path and come face to face with danger. Even the cop on the case can’t stop them from investigating. All the while Margaret really wants to cure Sean, heal the hate inside, and open her heart to love.
Read an excerpt at http://www.gailpallotta.com/id13.html

1) How did this story come to you? 
As a young adult I knew someone who took drastic measures because she couldn’t live up to “the best” label. I’m not sure if the phenomenon to always be number one has crossed the path of others or not, but I later witnessed more sad events when someone who’d always been the winner wasn’t. After I married, became a Mom, and worked with children, I saw lots of hearts breaking over not finishing first in sports, classes or activities.

Expressions began rattling around in my head. “ Well, we don’t have to be number one for God to love us” and “God made each of us special with a gift or gifts to use for him.” One day I decided to put my thoughts about being number one in a book. I’d always enjoyed Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys mysteries, so I wrote one similar. When I thought of winning, sports came to mind. Steroid use, it seemed pointed to a drive to be number one. From that point I added a lot of research then the mystery and characters. 

2) Tell us about your journey to getting this book published. 
Wow! I could write another book about the New Revised Stopped Cold’s path to publication. I first took a draft of the book to a writers’ conference, where an editor told me it wasn’t right for her list, but it was worthwhile. I should edit, rewrite and not give up on it until it was published. I followed her advice and took it to another conference. There an author told me the book had value and suggested a publisher. I sent it, and they did whatever they do with submissions for a year then returned it with a rejection slip. I put it in a drawer. 

Several years later I joined American Christian Fiction Writers, ran out of material for my critique group, and pulled it out of the drawer. They seemed to like it, so I ran it by my one-on-one critique partner, who worked on it even more and encouraged me to submit it. I sent it to few Christian publishers and an agent. They all rejected it, so I put it back in the drawer. One day I noticed a new publisher looking for Christian writers. I submitted, and she took it. The book started selling online and in bookstores, and I got good feedback. I thought things were going well for Stopped Cold until my publisher shut her doors. I had lined up signings and committed to a festival, but I had no books. The drawer was no longer an option. 

With lots of encouragement I sent Stopped Cold to three publishers, each of whom offered to take it. However, I needed print copies ASAP for my commitments. My critique partner encouraged me to ask if one of them would publish the e-books while I did print books. With the help of a lot of people Stopped Cold is out once again.

3) Tell me three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.  Hmm. 
I’m an Elvis Presley fan. 
I swim several miles in a week
I once chased a large iguana out of a yard and across a field to take its picture 

4) What are you working on now and what’s next for you? 
I’m organizing  promotion for the New Revised Edition of Stopped Cold and finishing a fun novella for Fairwilde Reflections, a series of retold fairy tales my critique group is doing. Two are out, At the Edge of a Dark Forest by Connie Almony and Red and the Wolf  by June Foster.  Coming soon, Mirror on the Fall by Mildred Colvin then mine, Mountain of Love and Danger, and finally Swept Away by Vanessa Riley. 

5) Parting Comments. 
Thanks for having me on your neat blog. I’d like to conclude with a few comments from some who’ve read Stopped Cold

From the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll, where Stopped Cold finished fourth:  

Very compelling with emotions and feelings that have been felt by everyone in their lives at one time or another. Everyone can relate to this book ! Great read for all, especially students and parents !

One of the best books recently published dealing with self-esteem, drugs and the drive to be #1 at any cost. A must-read for the young athlete and the family. 

Stopped Cold is an extremely good book to help teens make right decisions in their life. It is also a very good mystery.

I thought it was great Book I think all young people should read it. Opened my eyes.

This is an exceptional work and tells the truth of today.

Excerpts from a couple of reviews: 

“…follow Margaret’s journey to discover the depth of true character and faith not only in school and friends, but family.” Author and Book Reviewer Lisa Lickel. 

“They…” (the characters) “..are as finely tuned as a lovely stringed instrument, each having a different song to play in the story.” Book Reviewer Barbara Shelton.

6) Where can fans find you on the internet? 
My web site - http://www.gailpallotta.com
My blog - http://www.gailpallotta.blogspot.com
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/AuthorsandMore
Twitter - Gail Pallotta  @Hopefulwords