Author * Speaker * Editor

Excellent storytelling, accurate historical reporting, and gritty, persevering characters

April 29, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
0 comments

The Story behind The Crux of Honor by Paula Mowery

LoveIs_CruxofHonor copyPlease join me in welcoming author Paula Mowery to the blog this week. She has an interesting new release with a great story behind it. And, she’s giving away an ebook copy of it. Read the interview and scroll down for your chance to win.

Here’s a little more about the book.

Chelsea Wilson’s life is a constant reminder of what living dishonorably looks like. At every turn she continues to prove her mother’s shunning must be deserved.

Dr. Kevin Alley returns to the old home place to establish his medical practice. After running into Chelsea, he knows his love for her is still strong.

Chelsea is ousted from her small rented room when her mother bursts in, proclaiming Chelsea’s pregnancy.

Kevin takes Chelsea in, giving her space to live on the upper level of his house.

When Chelsea’s baby displays life-threatening symptoms, Chelsea must face her mother. Secrets unfold about Chelsea’s parents. Can Chelsea and Kevin uncover the secrets linked to Amish heritage in time to save the baby? Can the two find love together despite their history?

  1. What led you to write a book that involved the Amish community?

My husband’s first church to pastor out of seminary was in Southern Maryland. We found ourselves very near an Amish community. On our way to different places we would ride through the roads their houses and land were on. I was fascinated with their way of life. We discovered that the Amish had a market on Saturdays. We would stroll around and purchase many of their goods and produce. When life becomes hectic, I often think on the simple life the Amish portrayed. Theirs wasn’t an easy life by any means. I had watched small Amish men plow with those huge horses. But things didn’t seem so complicated. I also respected the way they helped each other. I remember an incident where an Amish man was killed. The neighbors stood in the yard of the family’s home in silence and respect. When a family needed a house or a barn, the whole community came together and built what was needed. That was so appealing to me having lived in places where I never even knew my neighbors. And in this area of Maryland, it seemed that the Amish and the Englisch had found a way to live side by side harmoniously.

  1. Why did you include a crisis pregnancy in the story?

My church association has its own pregnancy crisis center. I was asked to be the devotional leader which I did for about a year and a half. I have such respect for the women who run this ministry. They show the unconditional love of God in every way.

  1. What do you hope your readers get from the book?

As stated above, I hope readers experience the unconditional love available from God. My parents modeled God’s love for me, so it wasn’t difficult for me to believe that He could love me that way. But not everyone has had His love modeled for them. No matter how you may have been treated by those who should have loved you, God loves you with no strings and no grudges.

  1. Why did you want to become an author?

Becoming an author was a calling I received from God. There are messages He has for me to share through my writing. Nothing is more thrilling than for God to inspire my stories and then have them touch readers for His glory.

  1. What else do you have in the works?

Right now I am writing a sequel to my Christian romantic suspense which released in September of 2015 called For Our Good. The sequel is tentatively called Face in the Mirror.

I also taught a class at last year’s Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference about writing devotions. We culminated that class by writing a devotional for Christian writers from Christian writers. This devotional was contracted and is set to release on April 19. The publisher wants to do another one, so I am thrilled to be returning to the conference to teach this class again.

I’ve also been busy working on a pilot program, encouraging kids to write. This program is called TAG – Tomorrow’s Author Guild.

Paula Mowery

Paula Mowery is a published author, acquisitions editor, and speaker. Her first two published works were The Blessing Seer and Be The Blessing from Pelican Book Group. Both are women’s fiction, and their themes have been the topics of speaking engagements. Be The Blessing won the Selah Award in 2014 in the novella category. In November of 2013 her first romance released in the anthology, Brave New Century, from Prism Book Group. This book went to number five on Amazon’s bestseller category, historical Christian romance. Legacy and Love was her first solo romance and was a finalist in the Carolyn Readers Choice Awards in 2015. Her other titles include a Christian romantic suspense called For Our Good, a Christmas romance called Love Again, and a romance inspired from the Love Chapter called The Crux of Honor.

Reviewers of her writing characterize it as “thundering with emotion.” Her articles have appeared in Woman’s World, The Christian Online Magazine, and the multi-author devotional blogs, Full Flavored Living and Putting on the New. She wrote a section for Join the Insanity by Rhonda Rhea. She has devotionals included in several collaborative books.

Having been an avid reader of Christian fiction, she now puts that love to use by writing book reviews. She is a member of ACFW and also on the faculty for the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference.

Paula is a pastor’s wife and mom to a college student. She homeschooled her daughter through all twelve years, and they both lived to tell about it. Before educating her daughter at home, she was an English teacher in public school.

Learn more about Paula at her blog as well as find other links to connect with her at www.paulamowery.blogspot.com.

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Thanks so much for joining us, Paula!

April 22, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
7 Comments

The Story behind What Happened on Beale Street by Mary Ellis

Welcome today to Mary Ellis, who shares with us a fun detail about the true hotel which inspired her latest novel, What Happened on Beale Street.

Here’s a little bit about the book:

What Happened on Beale StreetA cryptic plea for help from a childhood friend sends cousins Nate and Nicki Price from New Orleans to Memphis, the home of scrumptious barbecue and soulful blues music. When they arrive at Danny Andre’s last known address, they discover signs of a struggle and a lifestyle not in keeping with the former choirboy they fondly remember.

Danny’s sister, Isabelle, reluctantly accepts their help. She and Nate aren’t on the best of terms due to a complicated past, yet they will have to get beyond that if they want to save Danny.

On top of Danny’s alarming disappearance and his troubled relationship with Isabelle, Nate also has to rein in his favorite cousin’s overzealousness as a new and eager PI. Confronted with a possible murder, mystery, and mayhem in the land of the Delta blues, Nate must rely on his faith and investigative experience to keep one or more of them from getting killed.

Welcome, Mary. Tell us a little bit about the location that sparked your story.

Location, location, location…those are the watch words when selecting investment real estate, a vacation destination, or a good place to retire. Mystery writers know that setting is also crucial to a story. For my latest romantic suspense, What Happened on Beale Street, I chose the opulent Peabody Hotel in downtown Memphis. When two detectives arrived to investigate the death of a friend, they chose a hotel in the heart of the blues music scene. I visited the Peabody several times and stayed once during research. Although I renamed the Peabody to the Carlton since I liberally changed details to suit the story, this historic landmark offered inspiration on many levels. Their hundred-plus years in business have produced plenty of intriguing vignettes, and sparked my fictional subplot about hidden jewels, missing for fifty years. While a guest at the Peabody I took the concierge’s tour and learned plenty about the fountain, a veritable masterpiece in marble.

peabody lobbyBut truly the Peabody’s premier attraction is their resident ducks, which spend afternoons in the fountain and off-camera hours in the rooftop Duck Palace (also accessible to tourists.) Twice a day the tuxedoed Duck Master marches his mallards from the palace into the elevator. With great fanfare at the precise hour, the elevator door opens and the ducks march down the red carpet, up a ramp, and into the fountain—all to the cheers and applause of a multitude of fans. In the late afternoon, the march repeats in reverse after the ducks finish their workday. I was lucky enough to observe a duck-flock marching in single file with soldierly precision to the Duck Master’s commands. On another occasion, I viewed a new batch of trainees and saw a different show indeed. (Ducks remain for a short period and are then returned to the wild.) When the elevator doors opened the Duck Master herded a squawky, rambunctious pack down the red carpet who definitely hadn’t grasped the concept of single file. What an entertaining show! Although there’s no need to hunt for missing diamonds since my story is pure fiction, the Peabody Hotel in downtown is one of America’s must-see landmarks. Whether for a romantic getaway or a quick stop to see the famous ducks, you may just find your own brand of inspiration.

 

Wow, Mary, how interesting! Thanks for sharing with us.

Mary Ellis has written twelve award-winning novels set in the Amish community and several historical romances set during the Civil War. Her latest, What Happened on Beale Street, is second of a new mystery series, Secrets of the South, from Harvest House Publishers. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught school and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate, a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. Mary enjoys traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming, and lives in Ohio with her husband, dog and cat. She can be found on the web at: www.maryellis.net or https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236

Mary is also giving away a copy of the book. Enter below.

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Thanks again!

April 19, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
11 Comments

The Story behind Bachelor Girls’ Guide to Murder by Rachel McMillan

Welcome to Rachel McMillan, with a very fun-sounding title to her new book. Here’s a little about the book:

Bachelor Girl's Guide to MurderIn 1910 Toronto, while other bachelor girls perfect their domestic skills and find husbands, two friends perfect their sleuthing skills and find a murderer.

Inspired by their fascination with all things Sherlock Holmes, best friends and flatmates Merinda and Jem launch a consulting detective business. The deaths of young Irish women lead Merinda and Jem deeper into the mire of the city’s underbelly, where the high hopes of those dreaming to make a new life in Canada are met with prejudice and squalor.

While searching for answers, donning disguises, and sneaking around where no proper ladies would ever go, they pair with Jasper Forth, a police constable, and Ray DeLuca, a reporter in whom Jem takes a more than professional interest. Merinda could well be Toronto’s premiere consulting detective, and Jem may just find a way to put her bachelor girlhood behind her forever–if they can stay alive long enough to do so.

Rachel, tell us about your research into Toronto in 1910.

Perhaps my favourite part about writing the Herringford and Watts series was the opportunity to fall in love with Toronto in a new way. When I was a kid living in small-town Orillia, Ontario, I lived for trips to the city with my family. I loved the way that the skyscrapers winked down at me at night and I loved the fact that there was always something going on. It didn’t shut down and sleep. There were always people moving, the subway whirring, the street – cars rumbling and music from buskers on street corners. I knew someday I wanted to be a part of it all.

When I moved to Toronto to study at University, I fell more deeply in love. One night, Maureen Jennings (one of my favourite mystery writers) gave a talk on Detective William Murdoch’s Toronto at the lovely old Enoch Turner Schoolhouse in the Corktown neighbourhood. Was I ever excited to be in the same room as one of my favourite authors and to get a book signed! Murdoch’s fictional Victorian investigations came alive with the pictures she brought showing early forensic deduction, workhouses and the poor conditions afforded immigrants, women and children of lesser means. While I definitely harboured a passion for Toronto history prior to that evening, it changed the way I looked at the city. While the Murdoch mystery books always had me excitedly recognizing neighbourhoods familiar to me in their Victorian counterpart, I now went out of my way to read more historical plaques and stop and stare more at each building.

When I decided to write the Herringford and Watts series, my first inclination was to explore Victorian Toronto — keeping in the theme of the Sherlockian influence. By this time, however, William Murdoch had made quite the name for himself world-wide thanks to a popular miniseries and then a popular television show. In America, his adventures are called The Artful Detective. Victorian Toronto already had a wonderful detective and his stories. So, I tipped my bowler at his influence and set to researching the Edwardian period instead. What I found therein was a goldmine of progress and change—especially for women and immigrants.

I count myself so fortunate to be able to write about the city in which I live and work. I often joke that Toronto is the one true love of my life. I hope you get a chance to visit someday.

Complete list of William Murdoch books: https://www.goodreads.com/series/43586-detective-murdoch

Sounds like a great read! Maybe a few of us will make it there one of these days.

Rachel McMillanRachel McMillan is a keen history enthusiast and a lifelong bibliophile. When not writing or reading, she can most often be found drinking tea and watching British miniseries. Rachel lives in bustling Toronto, where she works in educational publishing and pursues her passion for art, literature, music, and theater.

www.a-fair-substitute-for-heaven.blogspot.com

Rachel has been gracious enough to offer to give away a copy of the book. Follow the directions below to enter.

 

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Thanks so much for joining us, Rachel!

April 15, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
4 Comments

The Story behind Sofi’s Bridge by Christine Lindsay

Today, we welcome Christine Lindsay to the Story behind the Story. The research she did for her new release, Sofi’s Bridge is just fascinating. First, here’s a little bit about the book.

SofisBridge_w11814_750Seattle Debutant Sofi Andersson will do everything in her power to protect her sister who is suffering from shock over their father’s death. Charles, the family busy-body, threatens to lock Trina in a sanatorium—a whitewashed term for an insane asylum—so Sofi will rescue her little sister, even if it means running away to the Cascade Mountains with only the new gardener Neil Macpherson to protect them. But in a cabin high in the Cascades, Sofi begins to recognize that the handsome immigrant from Ireland harbors secrets of his own. Can she trust this man whose gentle manner brings such peace to her traumatized sister and such tumult to her own emotions? And can Neil, the gardener, continue to hide from Sofi that he is really Dr. Neil Galloway, a man wanted for murder by the British police? Only an act of faith and love will bridge the distance that separates lies from truth and safety.

Christine, tell us a little bit about your research into this book.

A nasty storm really can blow a steel bridge down and crumple it like tinfoil.

For Sofi’s Bridge I enjoyed researching train disasters. The Tay Bridge tragedy in Dundee Scotland 1879 was a sad one, but full of great details that helped develop the mystery in my novel. The noted Sir Thomas Bouch designed the bridge that would cross the deep watery span of the Firth of Fourth, a good 2.75 miles wide.

Bouch had success with this design for a viaduct in Wales, and the lattice girders, cast iron columns, and wrought iron cross bracings were as good a quality as was used to build the Crystal Palace in England. Looking back through, after the tragedy, the designer’s math was faulty. No one the night of the storm thought they would soon lose a train of 6 cars and the 75 lives on board.

The bridge seemed fine when it first opened in 1878, and a year later Queen Victoria crossed the bridge on her way home to England after her summer holidays at Balmoral Castle. But a mere 6 months later, winds in Dundee rose to 75 mph, gusting to 80 mph, and blew directly at right angles with the bridge.

At 7:13 the train slowed to enter the bridge and then built up speed to cross the almost 3 mile span of water. The signalman at the far-off bridge abutment saw the train enter the bridge, but after a while, with the howl of the gale and the distance with the train so far out on the long spanning bridge, the signal man could no longer hear the train. For a brief moment he though he saw a bright flash of light when the train was close to the middle of the waterway. Then total darkness.

A while later, the signal man could not believe reports that the train had not arrived on the other side of the bridge. Divers later discovered the train was still encased with the girders in the depths of the Firth of Fourth.

The wind, plus the train, equaled the collapse of the Tay Bridge. This mathematical dilemma is the foundation to some of the mystery in Sofi’s Bridge.

Investigations into the Tay Bridge disaster discovered a number of overall structure issues, but the greatest element was that the designer had not considered the extra weight of wind-loading.  The bridge had been designed against a wind loading of 20 pounds per square foot (psf), the usual margin of safety for this era. However, the designer had not made allowances for extra wind loading like that of the storm of December 1878 which was more like 40 psf.

Here is a short scene in Sofi’s Bridge where she attempts to show this math to the townspeople in the fictional town of Orchard.

~*~

A councilman set up the easel, and Mayor Frank smiled as he passed a piece of chalk to Sofi.

Taking a deep breath, she swept her arm and drew a strong, fluid arc across the board. Quickly sketching in the steep cliff sides, she added the triangular shapes of trusses, and the bridge came to life. With short jabs of chalk, she marked crisscrosses at various sections. “Here, gentlemen, is where the steel is too thin. This will escalate stress in these thinner sections.” She wrote a series of formulas on the side of the board and underscored them.

“It’s not just the dead load of its own weight that the bridge must sustain, but the tonnage of locomotives. Plus, the wind shear factor in these canyons will slam against the flat sides of railcars, acting in a similar manner as wind filling canvas sails on the surface of water—”

“How strong were the winds today?” One of the railroad dignitaries asked.

“Forty miles per hour,” another man volunteered.

“Which means the wind shear factor is…” Sofi scratched the chalk on the board and ran the calculation. “Which means on days like today.” She quieted her voice. “The bridge as it now stands will collapse. Maybe not today, but one day. Lives could be lost.”

To Read the first chapter of Sofi’s Bridge for free click HERE.

ChristineLindsayChristine Lindsay is the author of multi-award-winning Christian fiction. Tales of her Irish ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in Colonial India inspired her multi-award-winning trilogy Twilight of the British Raj, Book 1 Shadowed in Silk, Book 2 Captured by Moonlight, and explosive finale Veiled at Midnight.

Christine’s Irish wit and use of setting as a character is evident in her contemporary romance Londonderry Dreaming and newest release Sofi’s Bridge. A busy writer and speaker, Christine and her husband live on the west coast of Canada. Coming August 2016 is the release of Christine’s non-fiction book Finding Sarah—Finding Me: A Birthmother’s Story.

 

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

Please drop by Christine’s website www.ChristineLindsay.org or follow her on Amazon on Twitter. Subscribe to her quarterly newsletter, and be her friend on Pinterest , Facebook, and  Goodreads

Christine is giving away an ebook copy of Sofi’s Bridge. Follow the directions below to enter.
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Thank you for joining us, Christine!

 

April 12, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
5 Comments

The Story behind Sit, Stay, Love by Dana Mentink

This next story behind the story is so cute! You have to love a book with a dog on the cover. And a dog who plays matchmaker. Here’s a little bit about Sit, Stay, Love by Dana Mentink.

Take one abrasive professional athlete, a quirky out-of-work school teaSit Stay Lovecher, and an overweight geriatric dog, and you’re ready for a lesson in love…Tippy style.

Pro baseball pitcher Cal Crawford is not a dog guy. When he inherits his deceased mother’s elderly dog, Tippy, he’s quick to call on a pet-sitting service.

Gina isn’t thrilled to be a dog sitter when her aspirations lie in the classroom. Furthermore, she can’t abide the unfriendly Cal, a man with all the charm of a wet towel. But with no other prospects and a deep love for all things canine, she takes the job caring for Tippy.

As Gina travels through Cal’s world with Tippy in tow, she begins to see Cal in a different light. Gina longs to show Cal the God-given blessings in his life that have nothing to do with baseball or fame. When her longing blooms into attraction, Gina does her best to suppress it. But Cal is falling in love with her too…

Welcome, Dana. Tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write Sit, Stay, Love.

I realized my writing was going to the dogs when I started writing both a K-9 continuity series for Love Inspired Suspense and a dog-themed lighthearted romance for Harvest House simultaneously. For one, I was busily researching the amazing abilities of the bloodhound, and for the other, getting familiar with doxie antics. Both endeavors were put on hold when real life intruded. My beloved Nala, my neurotic, gentle-hearted canine companion of thirteen years passed away. Our collective hearts were broken and it was painful to continue to write about these various fictional dogs. The book Sit, Stay, Love was especially hard, since Tippy, the star of that book, is a thirteen-year-old mutt. Tippy is actually based on a real dog who was rescued by the Muttville group, a nonprofit based here in San Francisco which finds homes for senior dogs. Part of the proceeds from the book will go to this fine organization.

In the writing of that book, I was able to explore more deeply, more poignantly, the unconditional love of a dog, as I remembered the absolute devotion of my sweet Nala. As the book went to print, I was finally able to think about getting another dog. We adopted Junie, the doxie terrier mix who is nothing like Nala, but has somehow wound her way around my heart. Junie is a ball of energy, confident, eager to explore the world, and filled with joy. It’s no coincidence that the third book in the Harvest House series will feature a mischievous cutie pie terrier named Jellybean!

 I’m happy to give away a copy of Sit, Stay, Love. I hope you will fall in love with Tippy. I know I did!

Thanks so much for joining us, Dana. And for giving away a copy of what sounds like a really fun book. Scroll down for your chance to enter.

Dana MentinkDana Mentink is a two time American Christian Fiction Writers Carol Award winner. She is the author of over thirty titles in the suspense and lighthearted romance genres. Her suspense novel, Betrayal in the Badlands, earned a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award and she has also been honored with a Holt Medallion Award of Merit. She is pleased to write for Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense and Harlequin Heartwarming. Besides writing, she busies herself teaching third grade. Mostly, she loves to be home with Papa Bear, Yogi, Boo Boo, a dog with social anxiety problems, a chubby box turtle and a feisty parakeet.

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April 5, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
3 Comments

The Story behind If I Run by Terri Blackstock

Sooo very excited to have Terri Blackstock with us! I’ve had the opportunity to meet her, and she’s a sweet, gracious lady. I don’t know where all these suspenseful books come from. My mom has just discovered her and found she loves her books.

She has a new release, If I Run. Here’s a little blurb about it:

If I Run PKCasey Cox’s DNA is all over the crime scene. There’s no use talking to police; they’ve failed her abysmally before. She has to flee before she’s arrested . . . or worse. The truth doesn’t matter anymore.

But what is the truthThat’s the question haunting Dylan Roberts, the war-weary veteran hired to find Casey. PTSD has marked him damaged goods, but bringing Casey back can redeem him. Though the crime scene seems to tell the whole story, details of the murder aren’t adding up.

Casey Cox doesn’t fit the profile of a killer. But are Dylan’s skewed perceptions keeping him from being objective? If she isn’t guilty, why did she run?

Unraveling her past and the evidence that condemns her will take more time than he has, but as Dylan’s damaged soul intersects with hers, he is faced with two choices: the girl who occupies his every thought is a psychopathic killer . . . or a selfless hero. And the truth could be the most deadly weapon yet.

So, Terri, what inspired you to write If I Run?

I am a big fan of the movie The Fugitive, in which Harrison Ford plays the character Dr. Richard Kimble, who’s wrongly convicted of his wife’s murder, and escapes from prison to find the real killer—the infamous one-armed man. I also grew up watching re-runs of “The Fugitive” TV series starring David Janssen. I’ve always loved the elements of that plot that kept viewers on the edge of their seats. I think that premise was the launch pad for If I Run. I wanted to explore having a young, female fugitive running from a murder rap, and a heroic, but troubled, detective chasing her across the country.

As Casey Cox was born in my mind, I pictured this twenty-five-year-old woman finding her best friend murdered, then stumbling around the crime scene in shock, leaving indisputable DNA. I pictured her doing the opposite of what most of us would do. Instead of calling the police, she decides to run. She’s certain that she’s been framed for the homicide, and she believes that she won’t simply go to prison, but she’ll be the next to be murdered if she’s caught.

But since I write Christian novels, I was faced with a dilemma. Would my readers forgive me if I created a character who breaks multiple laws and flees from prosecution? I decided to make her an unbeliever with a value system different from that of a believer, and everything in her past drives her to do what she does. I’m hoping readers will go on this ride with me and allow Casey to be who she is—a person who has nowhere to turn since she doubts the existence of a Creator … until she can no longer ignore the way God works in her life.

The detective contracted to chase her across the country is a PTSD victim who’s recently been discharged from the Army, where he worked in the Criminal Investigation Division. I wanted him to be a man who leans heavily on his faith, but who can’t seem to overcome the PTSD that’s disrupting his life. He’s had trouble getting a job, but he’s contracted to go after Casey since the police department doesn’t have the resources to do it. He believes that bringing her back will prove that he’s up to the job, and that it might result in a permanent job.

Even though Dylan is Casey’s nemesis, I wanted their lives to intersect in a personal way. Dylan learns all he can about Casey’s past, and when he finds out that she discovered her father’s dead body when she was twelve—and that it was ruled a suicide—he begins to wonder if she has PTSD as well. Their common affliction becomes a point of common ground between them, and as he learns more about her, he discovers they’re more alike than he thought. And he wonders if she’s really a killer at all, or simply another victim.

Buy the book at the retailer of your choice here: http://www.terriblackstock.com/books/if-i-run/

Terri Blackstock PKTerri Blackstock is a New York Times best-seller, with over seven million copies sold worldwide. She is the winner of two Carol Awards, a Christian Retailers Choice Award, and a Romantic Times Book Reviews Career Achievement Award, among others. Her most recent suspense novel is If I Run, about a young female fugitive whose being accused of a heinous murder.  Other books include Truth Stained Lies (the Moonlighters Series), Intervention (the Intervention Series), and Last Light (the Restoration Series). See the complete list of Terri’s books at www.terriblackstock.com/books. Join her at Facebook (www.facebook.com/tblackstock) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/TerriBlackstock).

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Thanks for joining us, Terri!

April 1, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
9 Comments

The Story behind Barely above Water by Gail Pallotta

I’ve been excited by how many wonderful guests have joined us in the past couple of weeks. Gail Pallotta is no exception. She has a new book, Barely above Water releasing on April 15 as an e-book. If you read to the bottom of the post, you’ll find directions on how to enter.

Here’s a little bit about the book:

BarelyAboveWaterAn illness comes out of nowhere and strikes Suzie Morris. Her boyfriend dumps her. She has no living family, and her physician can’t diagnose the malady. Suzie relies on her Christian faith as she faces the uncertainty of the disease, and turns to a renowned alternative doctor in Destin, Florida. She takes a job coaching a county-sponsored summer swim team. She’s determined to turn the fun, sometimes comical, rag-tag bunch into winners. Her handsome boss renews her belief in love, but learns of her mysterious affliction and abruptly cuts romantic ties. Later he has regrets, but can he overcome his fear of losing a loved one and regain Suzie’s trust?

Wow, sounds great, Gail!

  1. Barely Above Water focuses on alternative medical treatments. What inspired you to write about that?

Ten years ago I grew very ill. After a month of tests, the doctor told me they couldn’t diagnose my malady, so they couldn’t treat me. I had no recourse except to grow sicker and sicker and had no idea where to turn for help. The last name of a chiropractor a friend of mine had seen ten years earlier kept popping in my head. I ignored it because I needed medical help, not an adjustment, but the name persisted until finally I called my friend and asked about him. He turned out to be David Lee, D.C., Ph.D., C.Ad., now an alternative doctor as well as a chiropractor. I scheduled an appointment, and he started treating me immediately for a toxic substance. Later, a scan at Dr. Lee’s office showed the bacteria for Chronic Lyme disease. Since then I’ve met and heard of many people suffering from Chronic Lyme disease, or an illness that can’t be diagnosed. Their stories touched my heart and inspired me to write Barely Above Water, which gives information about symptoms and treatments for the disease. The technical material is woven around a romance and a cute group of youngsters on a summer league swim team, so it’s fun as well as informative.

  1. What kind of treatments can someone receive at an alternative doctor?

Help abounds, and the therapies are not invasive. I’ll mention a few. Cold laser treatments regulate normal cell function, stimulate weak areas of the body by improving metabolism and circulation, and promote tissue healing. The cold laser penetrates clothing, but it doesn’t burn or cut. Dr. Lee refers to the laser light as an acronym for, Letting In God’s Healing Touch.

Pulsed electromagnetic therapy targets damaged cells. If they’re not too impaired, it pumps them up to restore their pulsating open / close mechanisms to make them work properly. If there’s irreparable damage, the treatment causes the body to throw off the inefficient cells so it can grow new ones. I’ve heard that some traditional medical offices now use pulsed electromagnetic therapy to alleviate pain in their patients.

Footbaths, technically speaking, are ionic cellular detoxifications. This is a fun therapy to discuss, because so many people have different opinions about them. Many believe those having the therapy place their feet in a basin of water, toxins come out, and the water turns yucky colors. Others hold to the theory that the footbath causes the body to throw off toxins later, and the different shades in the water are caused by chemicals created during the process. Quite a few agree that certain colors mean the footbath is working on particular parts of the body, such as white for the lymphatic system. They will help the body eliminate toxins, and that’s the important thing. There are quite a few other therapies available. According to Dr. Lee, it’s the synergy of all of the therapies working together that gives us the desired results.

For those with an undiagnosed illness, the biofeedback machine is invaluable. In lay terms, it’s a detection device. The patient is hooked to the mechanism, which is attached to a computer. Then a practitioner runs a scan. When the scan ends everything that’s wrong in the body shows up on the computer screen. For me, the first few scans showed only a toxic substance, but Dr. Lee kept running scans, and finally one revealed the bacteria for Chronic Lyme disease. I asked why it didn’t appear during the first scan, and he explained that the spirochetes of Chronic Lyme disease hide in the body. After Dr. Lee removed several layers of toxins, the spirochetes had nowhere to hide. Thankfully, by then I was already receiving treatments for the toxic substance.

Two experts answer questions about this mysterious malady in the back of Barely Above Water.

  1. The theme of the book is faith in light of uncertainty. How do you think people today relate to this?

I believe in times of difficulty and uncertainty everyone looks for hope. When we find our lives spinning out of control, we search for something to hold onto. Living in an imperfect world, the reality is, it’s highly unlikely any of us will escape without ever facing a mountain we feel we can’t climb. Or perhaps more appropriately, one we can’t move. “…I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move.” Matthew 17: 20

  1. What else do you have in the works?

I have a novella in Prism Book Group’s Love Is…Series, based on I Corinthians 13: 4 – 6. My book, Breaking Barriers, covers “love isn’t easily angered.” It’s scheduled to come out at the end of June. I’m also working on a contemporary romantic comedy series.

Portrait shot Gail PallottaAward-winning author Gail Pallotta is a wife, mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets, and getting together with friends and family. A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. A 2013 Grace Awards finalist, she’s been a best-selling author on All Romance eBooks. She’s published four books, poems, short stories, and several hundred articles. Some of her articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums. Visit Gail’s web site at http://www.gailpallotta.com.; her blog at http://www.gailpallotta.blogspot.com; Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AuthorsandMore; and twitter at https://twitter.com/Hopefulwords?lang=en

You can now pre-order Barely above Water on Amazon now. It releases on April 15th.

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Thanks for joining us, Gail! It’s been great having you!

March 25, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
4 Comments

The Story behind Friends and Enemies by Terri Wangard

I’ve had the  honor of endorsing this book, and I did so without reserve. Terri is a fellow WWII author and a fellow member of my local ACFW chapter. Her work has earned her several awards, and you’ll see why when you read her books. She’s giving away a copy of Friends and Enemies, so be sure to read through to the end of the interview and follow the instructions to enter!

Here’s a little bit about Friends and Enemies.

Friends and Enemies smallWidowed seamstress Heidi Wetzel finds new meaning in life by caring for evacuated children on a farm in war-torn western Germany. Never a supporter of National Socialism, she takes pleasure in passive resistance, but must exercise caution around neighbors who delight in reporting to the Gestapo. Having lived in the United States, she wonders about her friend Rachel.

Flying cadet Paul Braedel’s wife dies while he trains for the U.S. Army Air Corps. Following bereavement leave, he joins a navigation class. He’s lost his zest for life and heads to England, not caring if he lives or dies.
When he and his crew are shot down over Germany, he evades capture and, for the first time since Rachel’s death, hears the voice of God whisper guidance. “Find Heidi.”
Heidi meets a man she recognizes from her high school days in America. Aiding a downed airman is punishable by execution, but she agrees to help.
She takes him to the farm to pose as a convalescing German soldier. Through her brother’s underground contacts, Paul acquires German ID papers. Before he can journey along an escape route, they’re betrayed and the Gestapo comes calling. Together, Paul and Heidi flee across Germany in a desperate journey for Allied lines.
Thanks for joining us, Terri.

What inspired you to write WWII?I first wrote contemporary stories in the early 2000s. When I started writing again in 2008, I decided to try something else. I had a batch of letters written by distant cousins in Germany to my grandparents, who were sending them care packages in 1947-48. The letters are fascinating, and I wanted to do something with them, but didn’t know what. American Heritage magazine wouldn’t be interested in German letters. Then I realized I could create a story for these now-lost cousins.

Why is it so important to tell these stories?

The 1940s were a way of life that no longer is, and most of the people who lived through them and remember them are dying off. We don’t know what it was like to live in an all-out war effort. Picking up a history tome might be boring to many, but a story can capture attention.

Have you personally met anyone involved in the war?

A B-17 tail gunner flew on the flight I made in the bomber Aluminum Overcast in 2012. He answered a question I had. He was the only combat veteran I’ve talked to. Other elderly friends have told me things like how they did laundry in the 40s.

What appeals to you most about being an author?

Living vicariously through my characters. They do what I wish I could, like being an artist as Jennie is in No Neutral Ground, my May release. Actually living in a foreign country instead of a quick visit.

I enjoy the research, no big surprise for a former librarian. I do way more than I need to.

Your books are coming out back to back to back. How long does it take you to write a book?

TerriToo long! A minimum of a year. My current work in progress has been taking longer, as I keep interrupting it for edits and promotions. I have never had to write under a deadline, which is fine with me.

Terri Wangard grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, during the Lombardi Glory Years. Her first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. These days she is writing historical fiction, and won the 2013 Writers on the Storm contest and 2013 First Impressions, as well as being a 2012 Genesis finalist. Holder of a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science, she lives in Wisconsin. Her research included going for a ride in a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress bomber. Classic Boating Magazine, a family business since 1984, keeps her busy as an associate editor.
Connect with Terri:
www.terriwangard.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorTerriWangard
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/terriwangard/

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Thanks so much, Terri! It’s been great chatting with you. We look forward to your next book, due out in May!

March 22, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
3 Comments

The Story behind The Hearts We Mend by Kathryn Springer

I’m so excited to have Kathryn Springer as my guest here for the next few days. We met many years ago, and I’ve enjoyed getting to know her. She’s a wonderful author, and I can’t wait to read her latest release, The Hearts We Mend. If you read to the end of the post, you’ll have a chance to enter to win a copy of the book!

Here’s a little bit about it:

The Hearts We MendPlanning and Post-It notes are the epitome of Evie’s life. But when she meets Jack, her life gets more than a little complicated.

Thirteen years ago, Evie’s firefighter husband was killed in the line of duty, leaving her to raise their young son, Cody, alone. Now, Cody is marrying the love of his life, and as he packs up his belongings, the house feels as empty as Evie’s heart. But for all her planning and mad organizational skills, Evie could never have anticipated the dramatic shift her life is about to make.

Tattooed, rough-around-the-edges Jack raises quite a few eyebrows in the tight-knit community of Banister Falls. Where Evie’s life is stream-lined, Jack’s approach to living is moment-by-moment. But as Evie gets drawn into Jack’s world—a world that isn’t as safe or predictable as the one she’s worked so hard to create—he challenges her to open her eyes to the problems outside the walls of the church.

Jack doesn’t make Evie feel comfortable, but he definitely makes her feel something. Something she hasn’t felt since Max passed away—or, maybe ever. Because even though Jack isn’t anything like her late husband, he just might be everything she needs.

Welcome, Kathryn. It’s so much fun to have you.

Can you relate to Evie? How so?
Can I relate to Evie? Oh, let me count the ways! We both rely way too much on lists and Post-It notes for one thing!
Every season of life brings change and as a mom who watched all THREE of her children get married in the same summer I’ve had to adjust to the empty nest, too. Evie is questioning where—and how—she fits in her son’s life and wondering “what’s next, God?” I have to admit I’ve struggled with those things as well.

How do people who have a family member struggling with addiction inspire you?
I’m inspired by the way they “pray without ceasing.” Jack fights for his brother on his knees and I know people who are doing the same thing. I’m inspired by parents who say, “Whatever it takes, God. . .” and they mean it because they want their children to walk in freedom. They’re battle-weary but they trust God and lean on his strength.

You live in a small town. Is in anything like Banister Falls?
The town I live near is even smaller than Banister Falls, but one of the traits all small towns seem to have in common is a working, efficient “grapevine”. It doesn’t take long for news to get around! One of the things I love about them, though, is that people seem to feel more connected to each other and are there for each other when someone needs help.

If you could do one thing outside your comfort zone, what would it be?
Travel overseas. My husband and I sponsor two teenagers who live in Uganda and I would love to meet them in person someday.

Despite the heavy topic, you use humor in your book. Why?
Laughter heals. I truly believe it’s a gift from God. You have to find joy even in the middle of difficult things or those difficult things will just swallow you up whole.

What else is in the works for you?
Right now I’m writing the second book in my series for Love Inspired about three brothers who build canoes in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. There’s also a third Banister Falls novel in the works!

kathryn_springerUSA Today bestselling author Kathryn Springer grew up in northern Wisconsin, where her parents published a weekly newspaper. As a child, she spent many hours plunking out stories on her mother’s typewriter, which her older brother “published” for a nominal fee (he had the stapler!).

Kathryn is a fan of new beginnings and happy endings and she writes about both in the country home she shares with her husband, their spoiled Labrador retriever and a slightly overweight calico cat.

Learn more at kathrynspringer.com.

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Thanks, Kathryn!

 

March 18, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
9 Comments

The Story behind Restored by Tanya Eavenson

This week, Tanya Eavenson is our guest on the Story behind the Story. She has a fascinating look at how the Lord gave her the story at just the right time in her life.

Here’s a little bit about the book.

Restored_1400x2100Sometimes love arrives when you least expect it.

Dr. Steven Moore is known nationally for saving lives. If only he could save his own. Unable to deal with his cancer prognosis, he retreats to a happier time in his past—to the woman who once stole his heart.

Four years after the death of her beloved husband, bookstore owner Elizabeth Roberts still struggles to sustain her faith and joy in the Lord as she raises her two sons. She strives to find a way through her family’s grief, never suspecting a man from her past might offer hope for her future.

But how can there be a future when he’s only come to kiss her and says good-bye?

Read her story behind the story. When you get to the end, be sure to enter the contest to win a copy of Restored.

Welcome, Tanya!

RESTORED is the second book in the Unending Love series and it has taken me about six years to write. Not that it was difficult. I mean, it’s a story I wanted to write, one I knew I could write, but something was missing.

Four years ago, a friend and I attended the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. During the conference, we discussed RESTORED. We came up with different plots, but nothing felt right.

I decided then to take a hiatus from contemporary romance and to begin writing another genre I’ve always loved, historical romance. While doing research and working on my historical romance novel, doctors discovered I had cancer.

There are many times in a person’s life where he or she may reach an obstacle. It may be an illness, an accident or a difficult decision that must be made. I’d reached that point in my life. It was a defining moment, not only dealing with my cancer prognosis, but asking the Lord if He truly called me to write as I thought, or was I mistaken. I stuffed my historical romance novel away and almost gave up on God’s call to write.

But through the fears and searching for God’s direction, I learned He did indeed place this desire to write on my heart and no matter what I was facing in my life, it didn’t diminish His call. I’m inspired by the Lord to write inspirational Christian fiction so people may know the love of Christ. To know the depth He will go to have a relationship with us. And though we struggle, He uses us—people like me, the ordinary—to do out of the ordinary things. Unexpected things—like writing. This propelled me to write RESTORED.

 I began pouring into RESTORED the knowledge I’d gained through my own cancer and that of my stepfather and father-in-law, who were both diagnosed with melanoma. I know now that if I had written this story any earlier in my career, I wouldn’t be on such a personal level with my characters nor could I have written it from the heart.

I love this story. I love my characters, Steven and Elizabeth. RESTORED is a story about lost love being given a second chance when you least expect it. A story of how nothing is impossible with God.

Tanya Eavenson enjoys spending time with her husband, and their three children. Her fTanya Eavensonavorite pastime is grabbing a cup of coffee, eating chocolate, and reading a good book. Tanya is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Word Weavers International, and writes for Christ to the World Ministries. You can find her at her website http://www.tanyaeavenson.com/ on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google, or on Amazon.

Buy Links:

Amazon: http://ow.ly/YhprC

iTunes: https://itun.es/us/0XoMab.l

Barnes & Noble: http://ow.ly/YhpB1

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Thank you so much for joining us, Tanya! It’s been great having you here. I look forward to reading Restored.