Monthly Archives: June 2014

Love Redeemed

This week Kelly Irvin is here to share with us. Hi, Kelly. Please tell us about your book Love Redeemed.

Love RedeemedLove Redeemed is a very personal story for me. When I was eight months pregnant with my son (who’s 22 now), I lost a brother in a tragic accident. With this story, I explore those feelings of grief that are universal at the loss of a loved one. I wanted to explore the faith issues related to grief and death and knowing that God has a plan for each one of us and that he knows the number of days we will be on this earth. Love Redeemed also explores God’s grace and forgiveness. Phoebe and Michael make a decision that seems innocent enough, but has terrible consequences. How they come to accept God’s forgiveness and his grace and learn to forgive themselves is a story of love redeemed.

This sounds like a deep read. How long did it take you to write it?

This book poured out of me. I’m a fast writer because I used to be a newspaper reporter so I was accustomed to writing on deadline everyday. But I couldn’t get this story down fast enough. I think I wrote the first draft in three or four months. Then I asked my editor to take a look at it even though the book wasn’t due yet. She had some suggestions that really helped me with character development and making sure Phoebe and Michael were who I meant them to be as people. In the end, it took probably six months total for a 107,000 word manuscript.

Yep, I’d say that’s some fast writing. 🙂

How did you come up with the idea of this story?

As I said earlier, this really comes from a personal experience in my life, but also wanting to explore the spiritual theme of God’s grace and forgiveness. Sometimes we forget that He will forget anything if we ask him and repent. Forgiving ourselves can be the hardest thing to do.

How long have you been writing?

All my life. When I was in grade school my sister and I had our own little newspaper. I wrote short stories, poems and plays through middle school and high school. I received a degree in journalism and worked as a reporter for ten years before going into public relations. I’ve written nonfiction magazine articles, columns, and features as part of jobs throughout my career. I always wanted to write novels, however. I woke up on my forty-fifth birthday and thought, if I’m ever going to do this, I better do it now or it’s going to be too late. It took another seven years to get my first novel, a romantic suspense called A Deadly Wilderness, published. Love Redeemed will be my eighth published novel. I’m a late bloomer!

What is your favorite part of being a writer?

When I get into a story so deeply I’m lost in the characters and what’s happening to them. I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer so I don’t outline and sometimes a character will appear or one of the main characters will do something or say something that comes as a complete surprise to me. I love it when that happens. When the story takes on a life of its own and I’m just the conduit.

Finally my sixteen year old son was sitting next to me when I put this month’s interview questions together. I let him choose a question and he would like to know why all Great American Novels end in death?

I think many writers are also deep thinkers who are trying to puzzle their way through the really important issues that we face as human beings. We so want to be in control of our destinies and we’re not. We can overcome all/most obstacles, but not death. We all will face it and most of us don’t know when or where. That scares people, regardless of their faith. Death or the fear of death or trying to avoid death or trying to go on after losing a loved one to death makes for powerful stories. It certainly is a huge part of the story line and the faith message in Love Redeemed. I tried to reconcile our human fear of death with our faith in God and his promise of salvation and eternal life. He gave his only son so that we don’t have to afraid of dying. That makes for a powerful story too!

Thanks, Kelly!

Anyone who would like to be entered into a drawing for Kelly’s book needs to leave her a comment.
Drawing Rules: Drawing is open to USA mailing addresses only. The drawing ends 7/07/2014. The winner will be contacted by email on 7/08/14 and have until 7/13/2014 to respond or forfeit–no new winner will be chosen. Void where prohibited by law.

KellyFinal1Kelly Irvin is the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Hope Amish series, both from Harvest Housing Publishing. Her latest release is Love Redeemed, set in Amish country in Missouri, which debuted in March. It will be followed by the final book in the series, A Plain Love Song, in July. She is currently working on The Beekeeper’s Son, the first book in the Amish of Bee County series, for Zondervan. She has also penned two inspirational romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine.

The Kansas native is a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism. She has been writing nonfiction professionally for thirty years, including ten years as a newspaper reporter. She currently works full-time in public relations Kelly has been married to photographer Tim Irvin for twenty-six years. They have two young adult children, one gorgeous new granddaughter, two cats, and a tank full of fish. In her spare time, she likes to write short stories and read books by her favorite authors.

Until Death Do Us Part…

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This week we welcome guest blogger Lillian Duncan. Take it away, Lillian.

My husband and I fell in love, got married, and lived happily ever after! Or so the story goes, right? Well, yes and no.
I’m happy to report that my husband and I are about to celebrate our 13th anniversary. I don’t have a doubt in the world that we’re going to go the distance—you know… until death do us part.
That’s the yes part of yes and no. So, what’s the no part?
LIFE.
In the romantic suspense books I write, the story usually ends with the hero and the heroine finally expressing their love for each other, knowing that their future is bright and happy and perfect.
But what’s not written in my books is that life continues, and life isn’t always perfect. Some of it is wonderful and some of it is not!
But that’s when real love steps up to the plate, not the sweet, blissful, romantic love that happens in books and movies.
That breathless, romantic kind of love is wonderful. But real love goes deeper and is more meaningful than that. It’s the kind of love that only God can implant in our hearts. It’s the kind of love that takes commitment seriously. It’s the kind of love that stands behind those words—until death do us part.
In May of 2012, I was diagnosed with bilateral brain tumors. After research and listening to the doctors, it didn’t sound so bad. I’d have the treatments, and then our life would continue as it had which was good because I really loved our life.
But I was wrong.
Without going into all the gory details, I’m a different person now, and that means our life and our marriage is different as well.
My husband has been there through it all for me. Loving me, supporting me, taking care of me, making me laugh and not take myself or my situation too seriously. And never even complaining!
He should be the poster child for those words! I am so blessed to have such an awesome godly man as my husband!
With June being the wedding month, my prayer is that all of you who have said the vow or will be saying the vow know that they aren’t just words but a commitment to be taken seriously.

And interesting enough, I have a new release entitled UNTIL DEATH DO US PART. The book features newlyweds, Reggie and Dylan Monroe as they struggle to learn the real meaning of those words. Here’s a short blurb about the book:

Reggie and Dylan are married, but happily ever after seems far away as Reggie struggles to adapt to marriage. When Dylan receives a mysterious message from his best friend, he doesn’t tell Reggie. He only wants to keep her safe, but keeping secrets from Reggie is a bad idea—it only makes her more curious. And everyone knows that curiosity killed the cat!
To celebrate the release of Until Death Do Us Part, I’m giving away FIVE e-copies on my blog—Tiaras & Tennis Shoes at http://www.lillian-duncan.com. If you’d like to enter the contest go to the blog and leave a comment. Five winners will be picked on July 4th.

Lillian Duncan: stories of faith mingled with murder & mayhem!
Lillian is a multi-published writer with several Amazon bestsellers, including The Christmas Stalking and Betrayed. Lillian writes the types of books she loves to read—fast-paced suspense with a touch or two of romance that demonstrates God’s love for all of us Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives, especially God’s Word.
To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit: http://www.lillianduncan.net. She has a devotional blog at: http://www.PowerUpWithGod.com. Tiaras & Tennis Shoes is her personal blog at http://www.lillian-duncan.com.

UNTIL DEATH DO US PART BACK COVER BLURB:

When Reggie vowed until death do us part, she had no idea how close she’d come.

Newlywed Reggie Monroe struggles to find her happily ever after. As much as she loves her husband, she finds life to be overwhelming as she attempts to be the perfect farmer’s wife in rural Ohio.

When Dylan receives a mysterious message from his best friend, he knows trouble is brewing. To keep Reggie safe, he encourages her to visit friends, but keeping secrets from Reggie is never a good idea. It only makes her more curious—and everyone knows that curiosity killed the cat!

Until Death Do Us Part becomes more than words as Reggie struggles to stay alive and reunite with her husband.

Where Hope Starts

Where Hope Starts Cover resized
Karen Marino’s life is a nightmare. The New York City restaurant manager is a professional 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. Karen wants to do the right thing, but how do you forgive the unforgivable? As she searches for the answer, she uncovers a family secret that threatens to tear them all apart. Can she find her way back to the place Where Hope Starts?

Angela is having issues with her Word program and unfortunately the file with her interview she sent won’t open. I thought instead of asking her to re-write her interview we could ask her questions. She has graciously agreed to give a book away to one lucky commenter. If you would like to be entered to win her book ask her a question, and you’ll be entered.

The drawing is open to USA mailing addresses only. Drawing ends June 29th. The winner will be notified by email June 30th and have until July 5th to respond or forfeit the book. Void where prohibited by law.
publicity pic for bioAngela D. Meyer lives in Omaha, NE with her husband of more than 22 years. She homeschools their daughter and recently graduated their son who is now a Marine. She taught Bible class for over 35 years and served for over 2 years on the leadership team of her local Christian writers group. Her debut novel, Where Hope Starts, is a finalist in the Grace Awards. She loves God and her family and enjoys good stories, connecting with friends, taking pictures, and a good laugh.

What Fruit are You?

DSCF1902 No, I’m not talking apples and oranges but rather the fruit or the Spirit, as in love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. These are all attributes that should be evident in our lives according to Galatians 5:22.

Too often I have to remind myself to have patience, or self-control when I’m anxious about something like a book contract, or why my teenage son hasn’t called when he said he would, or why someone hasn’t responded to an email I sent two days ago. Yes, I realize these are all minor in the grand scheme of life, but we are all imperfect as much as we’d like to think otherwise.J

What fruit are you working on? Is there one that is harder for you than the rest?

I hope as you go about your daily routine and something strikes you the wrong way, or whatever your weakness is, you’ll remember to think about love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. I can’t tell you how many times, just focusing on these qualities has helped my response to be more appropriate to less than perfect situations.

Of the Persecuted

Before we begin the winner of last weeks drawing is Zoe M. McCarthy. Congrats, Zoe!

Of the Persecuted (ebook cover)Welcome, Angie Brashear. Please tell us about Of the Persecuted.
Of the Persecuted is a fantasy with a strong thread of romance geared toward young adult females. The story surrounds an insecure girl who believes she is no more than a burden to the people she loves. But in the midst of physical and spiritual war, and through the loss of loved ones, as well as the turmoil of unrequited love, she discovers her true worth lies in her faith.

Ultimately, my goal is to reach young adult females much like the lost, lonely girl I once was. As a nonbeliever for the majority of my life, I enjoyed reading speculative fiction and it was the The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis which ultimately opened my eyes to Christ. My prayer is that my stories will do the same for others. I also hope believers will enjoy the Christian undertones of my work.

How long did it take you to write?

As a mother of three active kids and a job outside of my home, I stay quite busy. I basically wrote into the wee hours of the night over the course of seven months. And I thought I’d finished a manuscript worth publishing in that time. Through many rejections, I learned I’d written my story in lackluster omniscient narrative, as well as filled the story with passive voice and stilted dialogue. The entire manuscript had to be reworked, which required studying the writing craft and an additional six months of late night writing.

Does this book stand alone? Is it part of a series?

Of the Persecuted is the first novel in the Legends of the Woodlands trilogy. While Book One focuses on persecution, Book Two will focus on forgiveness and Book Three will focus on sacrifice.

How did you come up with the idea for this book?

When I began to think about writing Of the Persecuted, I really only knew two things about the story. First, it had to be fantastical. Second, it had to be geared toward young adult females. As I thought about both, an image of a girl facing death by hanging flashed before me. Beyond that, I’m a panster and sometimes I wonder if that is good or bad for my writing endeavors. As I write I know exactly where I want to start and finish, but I fly by the seat of my pants when writing all of the details in between. In some ways, it’s a fun approach because my own characters surprise me with their decisions.

How long have you been writing?

I began writing Of the Persecuted in March 2012.

What is your favorite genre to read?

I love speculative fiction, especially fantasy. And especially if there’s a romance to accompany the magic of a new world.
If you have a bucket list what is one thing you still want to do?
My husband and I would LOVE to attend the Grand Slam tennis tournaments—the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open—all in one season. Hey, he won a Texas High School Football State Championship and I wrote a book, so we’re getting closer to sitting courtside with our awesome sun hats. LOL!

Back Cover Blurb:
Laila Pennedy awaits death by hanging. For the Rendow Clan rules the Woodlands Region, aiming to slaughter the Faithful. And she deserves to die. But Lars Landre, the man destined to lead the Faithful out of persecution, has other plans hidden behind his rare and mysterious blue eyes. Rescue.
Following the daring escape, Laila seeks the path of a warrior and vows revenge against the Rendow Clan. She embarks on a dangerous journey with Lars, one in which they endeavor to reach the promised safety of a magical village, to train for battle, and to ultimately assure freedom for those with faith in the Maker.
Clashes of weapons and souls. Brutal loss of lives. Unrequited love. How in all the Woodlands will Laila survive?

Thanks so much for sharing with us Angie and for offering to give away one copy of your book. Please leave a comment for Angie if you would like to be entered for a chance to win Of the Persecuted.

Drawing Rules: Drawing is open to USA mailing addresses only. The drawing ends 6/22/2014. The winner will be contacted by email on 6/23/14 and have until 6/29/2014 to respond or forfeit–no new winner will be chosen. Void where prohibited by law.

Angie Brashear - Headshot (2)When Angie Brashear isn’t working or taking care of her family, she writes. Usually at night after her kids fall asleep. She’s a fan of speculative fiction and an avid runner, both of which perplex her nonfiction-reading, football-loving husband. Saved in her early twenties, Angie is grateful for the Lord’s presence in all aspects of her life. She is originally from Rockland, Maine and currently resides in Cameron, Texas with her husband and three children. Follow her at http://angiebrashear.com, http://facebook.com/AngieBrashearAuthor, and https://twitter.com/AngieBrashear.

Who do you Listen to?

headshot oct 2012Guest blogger Yvonne Anderson shares with us today.

If you grew up going to Sunday School, you know the song: The wise man built his house upon the rock… The rains came down and the floods came up… And the house on the rock stood firm. When we run across the text it comes from (Matthew 7:24-27), we catch ourselves singing the refrain. Yeah, we know that one; check it off the list and move on.

As we rush through our busy lives, though, we sometimes forget about the rest of the building. If we make our house out of straw or sticks like the first two little pigs in the child’s story, the devil will huff and puff and blow that house down, leaving only the foundation (1 Corinthians 3:9-15).

In this passage, Paul doesn’t warn of any loss of salvation, but uses the analogy to illustrate how the wisdom of the world (vv. 18-20) amounts to little more than a house of straw. It won’t withstand God’s purifying fire.

This seems particularly applicable to me as a writer. I receive advice from one expert or another (each more experienced and successful than I) to consider my writing as a profession. I must plant my posterior in the chair and write every day. I must set aside a regular time and place and not allow people to distract me. If I’m to sell books, I must write more of them—two or three a year, if possible. I must build a platform, make connections, be active on Google+, Facebook, Pinterest. etc. I should stick to one genre and market my work to a specific audience. I should find what genre is selling best and write for that audience. I should read a lot. I should go to conferences. I need both a website and a blog. And I’d better get me an agent, or I’m dead in the water. Then, once published, I’ll need a publicist.

I’m not saying this advice misguided. No, these people speak from experience, sharing what’s worked for them. But is it the path God would have me to take? Should their goals be my goals? Does God want me to follow in their footsteps?

In Psalm 61:2, David prayed that God would lead him to the Rock. Not a foundation in this case, but something above ground. Something higher than what David could attain on his own—higher than human wisdom can grasp—higher than our efforts and our righteousness can take us. We don’t climb up to that Rock by asking other people for directions or following a road map. We can only get there by following God’s personal leading.

Yes, godly people often give good advice. Just because the person telling you something is a mere mortal, that doesn’t make them wrong. But remember Job’s so-called friends? Everything they told him was true, but none of it was applicable to Job in his situation.

When I hear pointers from authors about how to produce and sell more books, the advice doesn’t always seem practical for me. When I have done the things I’m “supposed to,” it doesn’t usually pan out as I’d hoped.

I must ask myself: what kind of building do I construct for the Kingdom by writing and selling books? Is this a material God would have me to use? Should my focus be quality over quantity? (Because it’s evident God has not made me a fast writer.) Could it be my writing doesn’t need to sell widely but must just reach a certain few? Perhaps my writing—the fact that I do write rather than what I write—will serve as inspiration to one of my grandchildren, or to someone else whom God will want to use. It might even be that all the writing experience I’ve acquired so far is merely preparing me for something else.

How can anyone know these things? They can’t. But God does. If He led me to write in the first place, He’ll take care of the rest. I need to be actively working at the tasks He’s given me (which include things other than writing), and working at them all diligently. But it’s vital that I build with the materials He provides. To let Him lead me. To be prayerful and discerning about the advice I receive, and follow God, and only God, in confidence.

The wise ones build upon the Rock. But they also look to the One who is higher than they. He can lead them higher than human wisdom could ever dream.

Lost and FoundYvonne Anderson writes fiction that takes you out of this world. Fly with her through the Gateway to Gannah for some serious sci-fi adventure.

Book 3 in the series launched May 2014.
Ransom in the Rock: What is a life worth? And who will pay the price?

Moon Over Maalaea Bay and Worldwide Giveaway!

SONY DSC This week we welcome romantic suspense writer Harry Wegley.
H. L. Wegley served in the USAF as an Intelligence Analyst and a Weather Officer. In civilian life he performed research in atmospheric physics. After earning an MS in Computer Science, he worked 20+ years in systems development at Boeing before retiring near Seattle, where he and his wife of 47 years enjoy small-group ministry, grandchildren, hiking on the Olympic Peninsula, snorkeling Maui whenever possible, and where he writes inspirational thrillers and romantic suspense novels.

Please tell us about Moon Over Maalaea Bay.
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When Lee Brandt’s bright, beautiful bride disappears on their wedding night in Maui, both Lee and the US government want her back, albeit for different reasons. Each takes drastic measures to find her. But Jennifer, an NSA research scientist, is in high demand. An international trafficking syndicate wants her for revenge. A wealthy, Middle-Eastern prince, who collects women, wants her for what she looks like. Foreign intelligence agents want her for what she knows. As the clock ticks down to Jennifer’s impending sale, her soon-to-be adopted daughter, Katie, flies to Maui and joins the search, ending up in the traffickers’ crosshairs. Could Lee choose between his bride and his future daughter?
A few hours before, Jennifer promised herself to Lee, until death parts them. Could she make death part them to avoid the horror and degradation of what the traffickers have in mind? If she did, would God forgive her?

How long did it take you to write?

I used scene cards to plot this story and I knew the setting well. The research and writing out scene cards took only about two weeks. The story took about four weeks to write and polish sufficiently to submit. So about 6 weeks from research to submission. This is by far the least time I’ve spent on a contract-winning novel. But I found that the short time frame kept the story logically tight and cohesive, which is what readers generally want in a thriller.

Is Moon Over Maalea Bay part of a series?

This is book 3 of a 4 book series, the Pure Genius Series. Though Moon over Maalaea Bay can be read and enjoyed by itself, the reader will realize there’s a lot of interesting back story mentioned.

How did you come up with the idea for this story?

Originally, I had planned to end a 3-book series with this story. While looking for an exciting way to end it, I thought about all the horrible things my hero and heroine had endured just to survive until their wedding day. Why had I treated them so badly? I wiped the tears from my eyes and then felt a sadistic grin spread across my face. Why not have my heroine abducted on her wedding night in Maui? The grin turned to a smile. Maui … research trip … the wheels began turning … tax deduction. All that aside, Maui was a great setting for a thriller once I found a way to create intense danger in a tropical paradise where bad things seldom happen. And I made a promise, then and there, that after this book, I would be nice to Jennifer and Lee. I kept that promise, because book 4 is all about their brilliant daughter, Katie, who is now 21-year-old Dr. Kate Brandt, a beautiful woman with a greater propensity for finding danger than her parents.

LOL. How long have you been writing?

I’ve published in the scientific literature since the late 70s, but only started writing fiction in 2010. I’ve completed seven novels and am currently planning my eighth. My scientific publications list is several pages long. As a computer systems programmer, I wrote over a million lines of code in several programming languages. But only when I started writing fiction did writing become a true delight.

What is your favorite genre to read?

That’s easy—thrillers and high-action romantic suspense. I do like characters with some depth to them and also enjoy the relational issues in a story. But what can I say? I’m a guy. There needs to be some action to keep my interest—more than just that final battle scene at the climax of the story.

What is your favorite part of being a writer?

By far, creating characters and plotting stories for them to live in is my favorite part of writing. There’s no other way to take people and make them do whatever you want without going to prison … or being committed to mental institution. In a sense, we get to play God. But we should take that role seriously, being careful about both how we fill it and what we are saying about Him in the process.

This question is from my 16-year-old son. He wants to know why all Great American Novels (the ones they teach in schools) end in death. Any opinions why these books are popular literature. i. e. Macbeth, Of Mice and Men, The Crucible.

I’ve not read anyone’s opinion on this, so I’ll just give you mine, for whatever it’s worth, first from a philosophical viewpoint, then using examples from real life.
Justice often demands the death of someone, particularly if that person has caused the death of another. Even after the fall, human beings still retain some sense of justice, a desire for it to prevail so that things can be set right. But we also retain, deep within us, the knowledge that we’ve all sinned and, ultimately, the punishment for that is death. Though Jesus can pay the penalty for us, many writers won’t acknowledge that and so they see death as the solution to their story problem. Granted, some writers are trying to make a social or political point, and they use death for the opposite reason, to highlight injustice. But the saddest thing is there are still other writers who end their stories with death simply because they have no answer to the human condition. They see no meaning or purpose to life, thus they have no hope. Consequently, their stories give us no hope, just death and a great sense of loss.
Next, let’s examine the worldview of those who write death and hopelessness into their story endings, writers such as Hemingway and Faulkner. Faulkner’s life was anything but exemplary—he lied about his life, shirked his work, and was removed as a scoutmaster for immorality. He believed human beings were too guilty of too many evils to deserve happy endings. To be fair to him, he did come down on the right side of some social issues. Hemingway was a modernist writer, helping to lay the groundwork for existentialism, which essentially says life has no meaning, so we each have to make our own. When he was no longer able to do that, he committed suicide. What I’m saying here is that it matters a great deal what a person believes. It impacts their life and their writing. The beliefs of these people, considered great American writers, provide them no basis for writing happy endings. Consider Christianity, which is all about the ultimate happy ending. Consider Christian writers and their stories. Big difference!

Wow, thank you so much for tackling my son’s question with such depth. I really enjoyed reading the answers to the questions Harry, and I think your book sounds fantastic!

Okay everyone Harry has agreed to drop the 10 comment minimum and he will send either one print copy to a U.S.A. mailing address or and Ecopy of his book anywhere that it is legal. Void where prohibited by law. The drawing ends June 15th. The winner will be notified by email June 16th and have until June 22nd to respond or forfeit the book.