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

December 6, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
3 Comments

The Story behind 30 Days Hath Revenge by C. Kevin Thompson

Please join me in welcoming C. Kevin Thompson to the blog this week. He’s sharing a little bit about his new release, 30 Days Hath Revenge. Here’s a little bit about this thriller.

30-days-hath-revenge_2nd-edition-front-cover-002Blake Meyer dreamed of a peaceful end to a dutiful career with the FBI. Married now, his life was taking him in a new direction–a desk job. He would be an analyst. Ride it out until retirement. Be safe so he could enjoy family life.
But when a notable member of the IRA is murdered in his London flat, Blake’s secretive past propels him into the middle of an international scheme so twisted and sadistic, it will take everything Blake possesses–all of it–to save the United States from a diabolical terrorist attack.
Sounds like a great read. What sparked you to write it?

Thanks, Liz, for this chance to tell the story behind 30 Days Hath Revenge – A Blake Meyer Thriller – Book 1. Your readers will be the first official group to hear this story.

It all began with a conversation.

My wife Cindy and I are both in the field of public education. We were having a discussion one evening about some of the laws affecting education and how they are getting manipulated into something far different from the original intent.

For example, the laws concerning homeless children were originally designed to benefit a student who was suddenly homeless due to some catastrophic event, like the family’s house burning down or being irreparably damaged due to some natural disaster, like a tornado or flood. Or maybe the husband and/or wife lost his or her job and the family’s been evicted because they cannot pay the rent or mortgage. The McKinney-Vento Homeless Act was designed to help in these situations, so that children could still get their education without being penalized in any way for something out of their control (i.e., not be held accountable of lost textbooks, not be held accountable for unexcused absences due to the event, be provided special bus transportation, if needed, etc.).

However, as in many cases, students get savvier as they get older and learn how to find loopholes in laws.

High school students under the age of 18 who google “How can I become emancipated from my parents?” are finding out they too can fall under the McKinney-Vento Homeless Act, and it’s as easy as 1-2-3:

  1. Get into an argument with their parents and manipulate their parents to offer up the golden ultimatum: “If you live under my roof, you live by my rules. Otherwise, you can move out.”
  2. Once those magic words are given, the student moves out of the parent’s house and moves in with a friend’s family.
  3. Once this occurs, the student in considered “homeless,” and is afforded all the privileges McKinney-Vento has to offer.

At this point, students cannot be held accountable for attendance.  They cannot be held accountable if they lose or damage school-assigned property (i.e., textbooks, iPads, etc.). They can go to school when they wish. Stay home when they wish. There is no one who can hold the students accountable legally because the law protects them.

We also noted how many of these same “privileges” are afforded to English Language Learners, formerly known as ESOL. If students are considered ELL students, because of their language barrier, they too cannot be held accountable for many things until they reach a certain level of language proficiency and are dismissed from the program. This usually takes years.

In the midst of our conversation about how these laws get abused, my writer’s mind ran with it. “So, what if some terrorist organization used these laws against us? To their advantage, like high school students use the McKinney-Vento Homeless Act? And what if they coupled this with the issue of illegal immigration? Used unwitting illegal immigrants in a diabolical plan against our country? There would be nothing legally anyone could do about it.”

And that, my friends, is how 30 Days Hath Revenge was born.

c-kevin-thompson-author-photo-2-002KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister, an assistant principal in a middle school, a husband, father, grandfather, and drummer. A former Language Arts teacher, Kevin decided to put his money where his mouth was and write, fiction mostly. Now, years later, Kevin is a member of the Christian Authors Network (CAN), American Christian Fictions Writers (ACFW), and Word Weavers International. He is the Chapter President of Word Weavers-Lake County (FL), and his published works include two award-winning novels, The Serpent’s Grasp (Winner of the 2013 Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference Selah Award for First Fiction) and 30 Days Hath Revenge – A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, as well as articles in The Wesleyan Advocate, The Preacher, Vista, The Des Moines Register and The Ocala Star-Banner.

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.

Facebook Author Page – Stop by and “Like” his page

Twitter Author Page – Come follow Kevin

Goodreads Author Page – Add Kevin as a friend

Amazon Author Page

Kevin’s Website – Feel free to scroll down to the bottom of the home page and sign up for Kevin’s newsletter to catch the latest news!

Seriously Write – Kevin is a regular contributor for this site every fourth Friday of the month

Thanks so much, Kevin. You never know what will inspire a writer’s mind!

He’s giving away a copy of the book. Follow the directions below to enter.

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All the best with the book, Kevin!

November 29, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
3 Comments

The Story behind Mefiboset: Crippled Prince by Katheryn Haddad

Please welcome Katheryn Haddad to the blog this week. She’s here to share a little bit about her inspiring new release, Mefiboset: Crippled Prince. First, a little about the book.

0-mefiboset-kindle-medium-002Denied the throne as king of Israel and crippled for life at age five, Sett spends his early years fleeing his grandfather King Saul’s enemies. Inheriting his gigantic grandfather’s height and good looks along with his father Jonathan’s positive attitude, Sett uses his wits to get out of life-threatening situations in Israel, Babylon, and Assyria. Despite his handicap, the beautiful Kissara becomes his wife, King David becomes his friend, and the forests become his mission. Though he must constantly deal with three enemies who do everything they can to make his life miserable, Mefiboset, grandson of a king, is an overcomer, a climber, a conqueror who triumphs in the end.

Very intriguing. Why did you write the book?

THIS BOOK WAS WRITTEN TO INSPIRE THE HANDICAPPED.  I was determined not to write a woe-is-me kind of book, even though that is what you read about him most of the time.  Nothing kept my Mefiboset from getting around and living life more fully than most.

How did I determine that his feet were paralyzed? He mentioned to David his need to inspect his feet. Only people with paralyzed feet or with leprosy in them need to inspect their feet. With no feeling in them, they have no way to know if they scraped them or a sore came up during the day. With paralyzed feet, one cannot put their weight on them. Therefore, in the book, Sett invented 3-footed crutches that took the steps for him with his feet dangling above the floor. He went everywhere with them. Nothing stopped my Mefiboset.

And, oh my, Sett was handsome!  Surely, he took after his grandfather, King Saul, who was not only the height of today’s basketball players with other people coming up to his arm pit, but was the most handsome man in the land. Plus, he had to be muscular in order to basically support his weight with his arms instead of his legs.

Of course, he had wife! Check out his genealogy. He had a son named Micah, and Micah had four sons, and so on. I loved putting romance in this story.

Finally, I added a subplot that is only generally alluded to in the Bible. The Middle East was full of forests in Bible times. Even in Jesus’ day there were forests; otherwise, where did carpenters get their lumber from? What happened to the forests? Why did the Middle East become a desert?  So I made Mefiboset a forest preservationist, a naturalist way before his time.

Thanks for sharing, Katheryn!

katheryn-yellow-002Katheryn Maddox Haddad was born in the north, but moved to Arizona where she doesn’t have to shovel sunshine.  She basks in 100-degree weather and enjoys palm trees, cacti, and her computer with the letters worn off.  With a BA degree in English and Bible, she earned part of an MA in Bible, including Greek studies.  Every morning she sends out an inspirational thought to some 30,000 worldwide. She spends half her day writing and the other half teaching English using the Bible as a text book to Muslims around the world.  She has taught some 6000 Muslims and has converts to Christianity in hiding in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, Uzbekistan, and Somalia, Jordan, Palestine.  “They are my heroes,” she says.

CONNECT WITH KATHERYN MADDOX HADDAD:

Website: http://inspirationsbykatheryn.com

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Katheryn is giving away a copy of her book, either print or e-book. Follow the directions below to enter.

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Thanks for joining us, Katheryn!

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

The Story behind Almond Street Mission by June Foster

Please join me this week in welcoming June Foster to the blog. It’s appropriate that her new book, Almond Street Mission, takes place in part at a homeless shelter, reminding us to all be thankful for our blessings and to help those who aren’t as fortunate.

Here’s a little bit about the book.

almond-street-mission-final-002When a homeless man rescues Glorilyn from a violent assault, he’s not the man he seems. What powerful secret keeps him on the streets?

When Glorilyn Neilson’s nineteen-year-old brother, Tannon, goes missing without a trace, she’s frantic. Prayer and volunteering at the local homeless shelter in El Camino must fill the time until her sibling returns. But her sapphire eyes and auburn hair inadvertently cause a stir among the male population at the center. Her life changes one evening when she’s attacked by a burly vagrant intent on rape in the alley behind the building.

Jeremiah Goodman loves the Lord, but he’s homeless. When he witnesses a foul-mouthed vagrant overpowering one of the volunteers at the homeless shelter, he defends her, saving her from unwanted advances.

When Glorilyn offers him a way of escape from his impoverished lifestyle, he can’t tell her why he must live the life of a vagrant. What powerful secret keeps him on the streets?

June, what inspired you to write the book?

Almond Street Mission tells the story of Glorilyn Neilson whose younger brother, Tannon, has gone missing, hurling her entire family into turmoil. Prayer and volunteering at the local homeless shelter fills the empty, lonely hours. One evening, she’s attacked by a brawny vagrant intent on rape. Another vagrant, Jeremiah Goodman, defends her.

The mission director offers Jeremiah and young nineteen-year-old, Tank, a place at the shelter. But when Jeremiah later protects another vagrant in hopes of sharing the gospel, the director finds heroin on Jeremiah, and he’s booted out. Tank leaves with him.

On the street, Jeremiah and Tank try to scrape up a meal, but trash cans around the city park don’t provide food for their hungry stomachs. Taking a chance on getting arrested, they beg for something to eat in front of an elegant downtown Italian restaurant. Two older women walk out. One ignores them but the other looks at them with kind eyes and offers an entire pizza.

The scene is inspired by real life. My daughter and I were in Chattanooga, Tennessee, at an Italian restaurant. We each ordered a small pizza, but the waiter brought me a Hawaiian pie though I’d order pepperoni.

When I pointed out the mistake, the server gave me another, this time pepperoni, and told me to keep the first one. No way I could eat a second pizza, and we didn’t want to take it to the hotel, so I asked if he knew who could use it. He said the homeless congregate nearby, and he’d deliver it to a hungry person.

In the story, the other woman who gives the extra pizza to Jeremiah and Tank is above average height. That’s me, and my 5’10” height qualifies as tall! When Tank says “God bless you,” the lady says “He does, everyday.” The sentiments of my heart.

june-fosterAn award-winning author, June Foster is a retired teacher with a BA in education and MA in counseling. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood Series, Give Us This Day, As We Forgive, and Deliver Us, and Hometown Fourth of JulyRyan’s Father is available from WhiteFire Publishing. Red and the Wolf, a modern day retelling of Little Red Riding Hood and The Almond Tree Series, For All Eternity, Echoes From the Past, and What God Knew are available from Amazon.com. Misty Hollow and A New Family are published by Helping Hands Press and available at Amazon. June enjoys writing stories about characters who overcome the circumstances in their lives by the power of God and His Word. Find June online at junefoster.com.

Thanks for joining us! June is giving away an ebook version of this story. Scroll down to find out how to enter.

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Happy thanksgiving to all!

November 3, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
9 Comments

The Story behind Trust My Heart by Carol J. Post

We’re returning from a brief hiatus with another story behind the story. This time, please welcome Carol J. Post. She’ll be talking about what inspired her newest release, Trust My Heart.

Here’s a little bit about the book.

trust-my-heart-002Grant McAllister arrives in Murphy, North Carolina, with one aim: to sell his inherited property and leave as quickly as possible. The big-city lawyer has no interest in his late, estranged grandparents or the dilapidated mansion he just acquired. After his high-profile divorce, he should be avoiding perky reporters, too. But Jami Carlisle is honest, funny, and undeniably appealing.

After breaking up with her safe-but-smothering boyfriend, Jami is determined to ace her first big assignment. A story about the McAllister estate is too intriguing to ignore—much like its handsome, commitment-phobic heir. Thanks to her digging, the pieces of Grant’s fraught family history are gradually fitting into place, but also upending all his old beliefs.

The two draw closer as they share their dreams, until misread signals and misunderstandings begin to test their trust. But in the unspoiled beauty of the Smoky Mountains, there’s healing and forgiveness to be found. And for Grant, this unplanned detour may be just what’s needed to finally guide him home…

Sounds like a great read. What inspired you to write this book?

“Trust My Heart started as a joint venture between my older daughter and me back in the late 1990s. She was about sixteen at the time, and we thought it would be really fun to write a book together. Neither of us were published, and I think we made it through about three chapters before we fizzled out. Years later, I decided to pick up that story and dust it off. Not much of the original draft remains, but Jami and Grant, the hero and heroine, are easily recognizable in those early pages, as are a few of the plot elements.

“During rewrites, the story’s setting also changed, from a fictional town in the mountains to the real town of Murphy, North Carolina. Around the time my daughter and I were working on this, eight of us (my parents, my sister and brother-in-law, and my family of four) took a vacation to Bryson City, North Carolina. While there, my sister wanted to check out a one-acre plot of land that a co-worker of hers was trying to sell. Armed with directions, we made our way to Murphy.

“We never did find that plot of land. What we did find was 12 acres with a dilapidated 100-year-old log cabin that the six of us decided to purchase together. After a couple of trips up from Florida to replace the leaky roof and fix the septic system so the toilets would flush, we decided to all spend Christmas up there. The cabin had no heat, and we couldn’t build a fire in the fireplace, because the chimney had toppled years earlier. So we tried our best to keep warm by the wood-burning stove we’d installed on one of our previous trips.

“We eventually got the cabin completely restored, and over the years, we made a lot of good memories there. We also fell in love with the area—the beauty of the mountains, the laid-back way of life, and the friendliness of the people. When I decided to pull out the old “Jami novel,” I knew I had to move it to Murphy. It felt like the perfect backdrop for two wounded people to find wholeness and healing.”

Thanks for joining us, Carol. You know I have a soft spot in my heart for log cabins!

From medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special events decorating company, Carol J. Post’s resume reads as if she doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love for writing. She currently pens fun and fast-paced inspirational romance and romantic suspense stories. Her books have been nominated for a RITA® award and an RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Award.

carol-j-post-002Carol lives in sunshiny Central Florida with her husband, who is her own real-life hero, and writes her stories under the shade of the huge oaks in her yard. Besides writing, she works alongside her music minister husband singing and playing the piano. She enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly spoiled dachshund.

Connect with Carol at her website, www.caroljpost.com, Facebook (www.facebook.com/caroljpost.author), or Twitter (www.twitter.com/caroljpost). For regular updates, sign up for Carol’s newsletter (http://bit.ly/2dKK9CE)

Carol is giving away an autographed copy of the book to a U.S. or Canadian winner or an ebook for an international winner. Follow the directions below to enter.

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It’s been great to have you!

October 14, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
0 comments

Reader Survey – Favorite Genres

In addition to our stories behind the stories, I’m starting a reader survey series. I’d like to hear from you, what you like and what you want to read. Look for the surveys going up on my Facebook page .

old_and_new_booksSo, let’s start at the very beginning. This week’s survey was on what your favorite genre is. The results are very interesting. In first place was WWII fiction. Now, this is a very unscientific survey, and probably skewed to my readers 🙂 Suspense/mystery came in second. That makes some sense. WWII is full of suspense and even some mystery. All the rest (historical and contemporary romance, fantasy, and biblical fiction) tied for the bottom.

In the survey, I also asked for any comments. Here are some of the most interesting. Don’t worry if you answer these questions. I can’t see who answered them, so I don’t know who said what.

  1. Contemporary romance, because it’s romance without smut. (Amen to that!)
  2. Biblical fiction, because it’s thought provoking.
  3. Suspense/mystery because I like being surprised and trying to figure out what’s coming next.
  4. WWII because it’s my favorite time period.
  5. WWII. The main reason is because my dad was a WWII vet.
  6. Suspense/mystery because the books are exciting and real page turners.

One respondent pointed out that I didn’t have Amish fiction as an option. Palm to forehead! Well, that might be good for another poll. Stay tuned 🙂

Thank you all for your responses. It was fun to see what you all think and what you like. Authors love to hear from their readers. It helps us to know what to write! Look on my Facebook page for the next poll!

September 23, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
20 Comments

The Story behind When Loves Arrive by Johnnie Alexander

Our guest this week is a friend of mine, Johnnie Alexander. She’s a very talented writer and a sweet lady. She’s here to share the story behind her latest release, When Love Arrives.

Here’s a little bit about the book.

when-love-arrivesDani Prescott came to the children’s hospital to spy on Brett Somers–so how did she end up on a date with him? Weeks earlier she’d seen an interview in which he blamed her mother for the plane crash that had killed his parents. But the crash had killed her mother as well, so Dani can’t believe the story Brett’s trying to sell to the media.

Vowing to find a way to discredit the privileged–and maddeningly handsome–Brett, Dani has been following him and taking photos, hoping to find something she can use against him. But when she catches his eye instead, she quickly finds herself offering up a fake name and agreeing to a date. Brett knows this mystery girl is hiding something–but he’s got his own secrets to keep. What will happen when he discovers who she really is? Will Dani and Brett look beyond their own heartaches to discover a love that could heal their deepest pain?

Fresh, flirty, and fast-paced, When Love Arrives is an engaging story that will have readers falling in love with the characters as they navigate the tricky waters between romance and revenge.

So, Johnnie, can you share a little bit about how this story came to be?

I love story-behind-the-story posts. And I’d love to share with you the fascinating spark behind my latest story, When Love Arrives, the second novel in the Misty Willow Series.

Alas. There isn’t one.

But don’t go away! There is a story behind the series and an odd example of how a decision I made over ten years ago affected the characters in When Love Arrives.

The series’ first story, Where She Belongs, was written because I’m in love with a house I lived in when I was a teen. I often dreamed of living there again, but that never happened. So I created a character with a similar dream who had the opportunity to make it come true.

At the time I wrote the first draft, as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) way back in November 2005, I didn’t expect to write a series. But when the time finally came—about eight years later—to shop it around, my agent suggested adding two more story ideas to the proposal. I signed a contract with Revell, handed in the manuscript for the first story, and settled down to write the second.

Brett Somers, the hero of When Love Arrives, is a character in the first story, so I knew him fairly well. Dani Prescott, the heroine, is a newcomer, but I knew she didn’t like Brett because he had, without knowing who she was, done something to hurt her.
But what had he done?

I thought I knew, but about a third of the way into the story—well, let’s just say I was wrong.
I tried again with a different motivation for Dani, reached about the two/thirds point, and hit a wall. This wasn’t working either.

What is this story? I prayed as I walked the pasture to get my Fitbit steps. What is the reason for her anger?

I don’t remember how many days I prayed as I walked (and at other times, too), but I was in the pasture when the answer came.

Duh! Of course, that’s it.

The conflict between the characters in When Love Arrives is because of an off-the cuff decision I’d made a long time ago.

You see, in the first story, Brett’s cousin AJ is the hero, and AJ’s parents couldn’t be in his life. So, to put it delicately, I killed them.

In a plane crash with no survivors.

Brett ’s parents were on that plane, too.

Dani’s mom was the pilot.

When Brett publicly blames Dani’s mom for the crash, she is intent on finding a way to publicly humiliate him. This is the conflict that drives the story—a detail I stuck in “just because.”

Sometimes I wonder if our stories are somehow complete before we ever begin them. Perhaps the creative process is all about discovering a story’s “truth.”

It’s a mystery I ponder.

This I know: A simple decision made long ago for one novel is the story-behind-the-story of a second novel.

Thanks for sharing that with us, Johnnie. What an interesting peek into how a novel is written.

johnnie-alexanderJohnnie Alexander dreams up stories while raccoons and foxes occasionally pass by her window. Her debut novel, Where Treasure Hides, was a CBA bestseller and has been translated into Dutch and Norwegian. Where She Belongs (Misty Willow Series #1), her first contemporary romance, was a Library Journal Pick of the Month. Recent releases include The Healing Promise (Courageous Bride Collection) and When Love Arrives (Misty Willow Series #2).

Johnnie is marketing director for the Mid-South Christian Writers Conference and president of the American Christian Fiction Writers Memphis chapter. She lives near Memphis with Griff, her happy-go-lucky collie, and Rugby, the princely papillon who trees those pesky raccoons whenever he gets the chance.

Join Johnnie at www.johnnie-alexander.com to experience the charm of country living, the love of random travel, and the joy of treasured memories.

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Johnnie is giving away a copy of the book. Scroll down for directions on how to enter.

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Thanks for joining us, Johnnie, and sharing your story.

September 13, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
5 Comments

The Story behind The Things We Knew by Catherine West

Please join me in welcoming Catherine West to the blog this week. She’s sharing a little bit about what inspired her to write her new novel, The Things We Knew. Isn’t that a great title? Here’s a little bit about the book.

things-we-knewWhen their tragic past begins to resurface, can he help her remember the things she can’t?

After her mother’s death twelve years ago, Lynette Carlisle watched her close-knit family unravel. One by one, her four older siblings left their Nantucket home and never returned. All seem to blame their father for their mother’s death, but nobody will talk about that tragic day. And Lynette’s memory only speaks through nightmares.

Then Nicholas Cooper returns to Nantucket, bringing the past with him. Once Lynette’s adolescent crush, Nick knows more about her mother’s death than he lets on. The truth could tear apart his own familyand destroy his fragile friendship with Lynette, the woman he no longer thinks of as a kid sister.

As their father’s failing health and financial concerns bring the Carlisle siblings home, secrets surface that will either restore their shattered relationships or separate the siblings forever. But pulling up anchor on the past propels them into the perfect storm, powerful enough to make them question their faith, their willingness to forgive, and the very truth of all the things they thought they knew.

Oh, what a good-sounding read. What inspired you to write this book?

I’ve always wanted to write family relational drama, so a story with a large family, albeit dysfunctional, really appealed to me. I wasn’t quite sure how it would all turn out until I started writing. But I think every family has its own set of problems, a lot of times hidden behind closed doors, and I wanted to write a story that exposed this and said, it’s okay, let’s face this and see what God can do with it.

You live on the island of Bermuda. Is that what gave you the idea to set this story on the island of Nantucket?

I thought a small island setting would be dramatic and Nantucket appealed to me because living on an island myself, I thought I would relate to that kind of life, and be able to describe the weather with some accuracy. Being able to incorporate elements like the weather, using storms in certain scenes, added to the mystery of the story. Although Nantucket is very different to Bermuda, the atmosphere is very much the same.

Are there any special challenges you encounter in research and writing because of where you live?

Really, the biggest issue for me is not being able to get to anywhere easily for research. I was only able to research online for this story, and fortunately Nantucket is small enough, that by using Google Maps, I could ‘virtually’ walk around and get a feel for the island that way! But thanks to the internet, most research is pretty easy with the click of a button, and people are always willing to help via email etc.

What message do you hope your readers will take away from the book?

Truth is the backbone of The Things We Knew. I think the lesson learned is that keeping secrets of any kind is never a good thing. But there is always forgiveness, grace, and hope to be found in any situation.

What else are you working on?

I’ve just finished edits on my next release with HCCP, which comes out in March 2017 – The Memory of You.

Thanks so much for joining us, Catherine. The book sounds so intriguing.

catherine-west-author-headshot-001INSPY Award-winning author Catherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or reading books by her favorite authors. She and her husband have two grown children. Catherine’s novel, Bridge of Faith, won the 2015 Grace Award. Her new novel, The Things We Knew, released July 12th, 2016, through Harper Collins Christian Publishing.

Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at Catherine@catherinejwest.com; Website: http://www.catherinejwest.com

Catherine is giving away a copy of the book. Scroll down to enter!

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Thanks so much for joining us, Catherine!

September 9, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
5 Comments

The Story behind Breaking Barriers by Gail Pallotta

 

Gail Pallotta joins us on the blog today, talking about her new book, Breaking Barriers. Here’s a little bit about the book.

breaking-barriers-original-2-small-copyIn this action-packed thriller gunshots ring out as Ann Jones enters church. She hides in the bathroom until they stop then stumbles into the sanctuary. The congregation lies dead in pools of blood. To rebuild the church she starts True Light Guardians. At the first meeting she’s attacked by a terrorist but rescued by James Crawford. He melts her heart, cold from her father’s abuse, and they fall for each other. She’s afraid to commit to love that might grow angry later like the type she knew as a child. James yearns to stop other attempts on Ann’s life, but can’t. Tormented by her constant risks, he breaks up with her. When an assault sends her to the hospital, an unlikely ally shares Ann’s plight with James, but he reveals a lead that puts all three of them in even more danger.

That’s quite the premise, Gail. Can you share with us what inspired you to write the book?

When I learned that Joan Bauer Alley at Prism Book Group wanted to publish a series taken from I Corinthians 13: 4 – 8, I wanted to be part of it.

We all hear the passage again and again at weddings. We read it at church and in Sunday school.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves. Love never fails…”

Was there a line meant for me to explore? If so, which one was it, and could I write something worthy of it? I read the Scripture over and over. Finally, the words “it is not easily angered” stood out to me. Years before I had worked on a book with characters filled with anger toward Christians. I’d left the manuscript in a drawer, but perhaps it was time I got it out.

It became Breaking Barriers, Book #8 in the Love Is…Series

The heroine, the victim of those who seek to destroy Christianity, loves her faith so much she’s willing to defend it against the unsavory people attempting to wipe out Christianity—and her.

The hero not only brings romance to the story, but he shows the heroine the difference in a consistent loving guy and an explosive, angry person like her father who says he loves her, but acts as though he doesn’t.

portrait-shot-gail-pallotta-2Gail Pallotta’s a wife, Mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. A regional Writer of the Year for American Christian Writers Association in 2004, she was a 2013 Grace Awards finalist. Gail’s published five books, poems, short stories and several hundred articles. Some of her articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums.

Web site – http://www.gailpallotta.com

Blog – https://www.gailpallotta.blogspot.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorsandMore

Twitter – Gail Pallotta @Hopefulwords

Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01GGEX7Z8

Gail is giving away an e-book copy of Breaking Barriers. Follow the instructions below to enter.

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Thanks for joining us, Gail. It’s been great to have you!

September 7, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
15 Comments

The Story behind God Bless Us Every One by Eva Marie Everson

Christmas is knocking at the door. Crazy, I know. I saw my first Christmas ad on TV the other day. No, I really did. It was so shocking, I can’t remember what the product was. And both my husband and my daughter are singing Christmas carols.

So, I guess that means it’s appropriate to be hosting Eva Marie Everson this week. Her Christmas novella is releasing, and she shares what inspired her to write it.

Here’s a little bit about the story.

god-bless-us-every-oneCharlene Dixon—called Charlie by family and friends—is devastated at the recent loss of her job. For the last five years, the twenty-seven-year-old has blossomed as the activities director of an exclusive all-girls school. But when a misunderstanding with the head mistress leads to a pink slip right before the holidays, Charlie packs up dreams and returns to her grandmother, called “Sis,” who raised Charlie as her own.

When Charlie arrives—broken and confused—Sis immediately puts her granddaughter to work behind the scenes of the local school’s Christmas play, A Christmas Carol. When Charlie disapproves of having to work with Dustin Kennedy, the seventh-grade drama teacher, Sis encourages her to take a deeper look at why the book by Charles Dickens had been written in the first place and what the book could teach Charlie about the needs of the people in their own community.

So, Eva, could you share what sparked the idea for God Bless Us Every One?

First, I’ll tell you the story behind why I wrote the book. I wrote the novella, initially, because I was asked to. (Insert grin here.) I got a call from the editor at Abingdon, Ramona Richards, asking me if I was interesting in writing a Christmas novella …not a retelling of A Christmas Carol, which has been done to death, but a novella with A Christmas Carol as the thread.

Well now … that was a tall order, but I’ve never shied away from tall orders. So, I said “Sure.”

But if I wasn’t going to write a novella that was a retelling, what would I write about?

So, I decided to dig in and learn why Charles Dickens wrote his celebrated novel in the first place. And, I gotta tell you, I was intrigued. I was intrigued by what Dickens had gone through in his life, what he’d lost, what he’d gained. And I was intrigued by the period of time in which Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol. Christmas as we know it today didn’t exist up until that time. Dickens, with the writing of his short story, put the Dickens in Christmas.

But all the while, there was a problem which stemmed from the imprisonment of his father and the continued embarrassment his father put him through, even as an adult.

So I asked myself, “What if a young woman today had the embarrassment of a father and mother who had gone to prison and the father suddenly returned to make amends? Or, maybe it wasn’t amends? Maybe, like Dickens’ father, he is seeking a way to steal money? Secondly, what if the issue of hungry children and homeless families came into play?” See, this isn’t only an issue in our time; this was an issue in Dickens’ time. He sought to change that with his storytelling.

So Charlie Dixon, in my novella, learns much about a world outside of her own, and even more about love and forgiveness based on what she learns while co-directing her hometown’s production of A Christmas Carol.

Wow, what an interesting background to a story. I never knew all of that about Charles Dickens. Thanks for sharing.

eva-marie Eva Marie Everson is the best-selling, award-winning author of over 30 titles, both fiction and nonfiction. She is the president of Word Weavers International, the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference, and a popular speaker at writers’ conferences and churches. She and her husband make their home in Central Florida. They are the parents of three tremendously fine children and the world’s greatest grandchildren. They are owned by their dog.

Eva is also giving away a copy of the book. Scroll down for all of the details.

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Thanks for visiting with us, Eva!

September 2, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
4 Comments

The Story behind Starving Hearts by Janine Mendenhall

We welcome Janine Mendenhall to the blog this week. She’s sharing the story behind her new release, Starving Hearts. Before she shares with us, here’s a little bit about the book.

Starving HeartsSince her assault, Miss Annette Chetwynd has been plagued by nightmares and worries about an arranged marriage. But she yearns to find her anonymous rescuer. Unfortunately, her health and intellect prevent it. Both repel suitors and cause Annette to doubt God’s existence, at least until He answers her prayers in an unusual way…

Mr. Peter Adsley is joining the clergy, and he desires a godly wife by his side. After a failed attempt to obtain one, he engages in a clandestine meeting with the bewitching young woman who keeps crossing his path. But she is so unsettling.

Destined for disappointments, Peter and Annette both endure disgraceful situations. Will Peter’s faith sustain him through overwhelming setbacks? Can Annette overcome her doubts? Or will their starving hearts yield to the machinations of a mad man?

Janine, can you please share with us what inspired you to write this story?

The story behind Starving Hearts isn’t pretty. In fact, it used to wake me in the middle of the night.

After quite a few sleepless nights and rough next mornings, I decided I’d write it down if I dreamed it again. I even promised to include it in a book someday, if only I could get it out of my head. If you’ve read Starving Hearts, you’ll spot my nightmare scene in the book’s subplot about the slave trade. If you haven’t, all I can say is—much to my horror—my dream made it seem like I was right there watching the horrendous abuse of some defenseless slave.

Now, much to my relief, it’s buried in the heart Annette and Peter’s story.

Have you ever had any nightmares like that? How did you feel trying to get back into life’s routine the next day?

For me, the process was so disturbing, I began to wonder how that stuff got imprinted on my mind because I didn’t remember studying too much of it, at least not in such painfully vivid detail.

Then it struck me.

When I was a child, my parents forbade me from watching the film of Alex Haley’s Roots. I used to sneak out of bed and catch a few minutes here and there by hiding in the kitchen and watching through the food pass-through, though. And they never caught me.

Maybe those images were stamped in my mind way back then.

Anyway, as both an English teacher and an author, I’m very careful with plagiarism so I went back and watched Roots and Queen, its sequel, to confirm that I hadn’t accidentally copied them.

But there weren’t any scenes like the one I had in mind.

And the question kept haunting me. Where had I viewed or experienced those images?

Toward the end of the editing process, I made another concerted effort to present my worry about copyright issues to the Lord and prayed for Him to show me how I came to have such terrible dreams.

Thankfully, He revealed the source, which I had forgotten about, and sure enough, I found what had been locked in my memory when I studied it again.

I made adjustments to Starving Hearts to prevent copyright problems, of course. Now the scene, which shall remain a secret here, is in my book instead of my head.

Oh, no. I just had a thought.

What if you get nightmares when you read Starving Hearts? Just kidding, sort of. As of this moment, no one has contacted me regarding bad dreams so, I believe, you’re safe.

There is, however, another lesson to be learned.

Children with impressionable minds are sneaking peaks at all sorts of things that are inappropriate. It’s everywhere. Are you watching yours as carefully as I watched mine when they were younger? Just saying.

Thanks so much for joining us, Janine! It’s been great to have you. Sounds like a fabulous read. Another one on my TBR pile 🙂

Mendenhall (Can you find hidden titles of some favorite books/films I’ve added in my bio?)

In 1976, I watched Beauty and the Beast with George C. Scott, and now resistance is futile, especially where reading historical fiction and sewing Regency or Victorian gowns are concerned.

A couple years ago, I stayed up all night sewing an 18th century costume just so I could be Elizabeth Swann, for Disney Day at school.

My interest in historical fiction and fashion grew into a magnificent obsession with beauty and a happily ever after.

A couple years later on Halloween, I sacrificed my chance to dress up in a princess bride costume just so I could watch The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan with Lindsey Wagner.

That fateful evening, I discovered time travel and a new kind of love story.

Now I find (or lose) myself somewhere in time using: Downton Abbey, Pride and Prejudice or a number of other classics like Jane Eyre and Redeeming Love. 

I also cry over Amazing Grace, both the movie and the hymn.

But they are tears of joy over God’s blessings.

Then again, that could stem from being lost in Austen one too many times.

After thirty-eight years in Los Angeles, living in North Carolina is another gracious blessing. I’ll always be amazed by living trees and four distinct seasons.

They remind me that God is so awesome, even creation speaks of Him.

Social media is a mystery to me, however. I mean, who reads a book to learn how to use Facebook besides me, and then still messes up?

When they are not helping me figure out 21 century technology, my husband, Tom, and five children enjoy playing the piano and other stringed instruments; computer programming, solving math and physics problems, and doing other left-brained activities.

We also love and worship the Lord.

On that note, I truly enjoy worship songs, but if I attempt to clap while singing, it’s likely I’ll stop breathing so I don’t. Instead, I praise Him for His infinite sacrifice on my behalf and for the opportunity of sharing the Gospel in my historical fiction/romance novels and on my blog.

You can visit Janine at www.janinemendenhall.com/preview-starving-hearts