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December 16, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
5 Comments

The Story behind Of Stillness and Storm by Michèle Phoenix

Please join me in welcoming Michèle Phoenix to the blog today as she shares the story behind Of Stillness and Storm. Here’s a little bit about the amazing-sounding book.

“I felt torn between two worlds. Each with its own mystery. One more captivating than the other, but the other more real and breathing.”

It took Lauren and her husband ten years to achieve their dream—reaching primitive tribes in remote regions of Nepal. But while Sam treks into the Himalayas for weeks at a time, finding passion and purpose in his work among the needy, Lauren and Ryan stay behind, their daily reality more taxing than inspiring. For them, what started as a calling begins to feel like the family’s undoing.

At the peak of her isolation and disillusion, a friend from Lauren’s past enters her life again. But as her communication with Aidan intensifies, so does the tension of coping with the present while reengaging with the past. It’s thirteen-year-old Ryan who most keenly bears the brunt of her distraction.

Intimate and bold, Of Stillness and Storm weaves profound dilemmas into a tale of troubled love and honorable intentions gone awry.

Wow, Michèle. What inspired you to write a book like this?

As an English teacher, I was constantly telling my students to “write what they know.” That’s exactly what I did in Of Stillness and Storm. My parents were missionaries to France for forty years, and I lived surrounded by devoted Christians whose hearts were in the right place, but whose priorities were sometimes obscured by their zeal to reach the unbelieving. Lauren and Sam—with their laudable strengths and deplorable flaws—are composites of the family friends who populated my childhood.

To be honest, I’d wanted to write a story set on the mission field for some time, but lacked that illusive but crucial spark that becomes the impetus to sit down and start typing. I had bits and pieces floating around my mind—hints of personalities and shades of conflict—but it wasn’t until 2012, when I traveled to Kathmandu for the first time, that the novel began to crystallize. I was struck by the beauty and brokenness of Nepal, and I saw in its desolate landscape and difficult living conditions a metaphor for the toll an honorable but reckless ministry can take on good people.

A story centered on a missionary couple’s personal journey from their first encounter to their moment of reckoning in the monsoons of Kathmandu quickly emerged from the geographical symbol.

I’ve never been someone who carefully crafts characters before the writing begins, so much of the initial process is just waiting around for them to reveal themselves to me. When Lauren first spirited her way into my mind, she carried with her the weight of a past I couldn’t wait to explore. The evolution of her marriage to Sam was a story I strove to treat with unflinching honesty. Describing the degradation of her bonds with a son she loved so fiercely was an aching exercise in resisting the urge to settle for happy endings. And Aidan’s reappearance in her life? A complete surprise, even to me. He emerged with those four simple words—is it really you—as I sat in the dark with my laptop one night, just as he did for Lauren in the story. And all of a sudden he became a pivotal influence in her journey and a galvanizing presence in her grappling with purpose and identity.

Of the books I’ve had published so far (there’s one more coming in September 2017!), this is the one that was the hardest to write. Though the first drafts of other novels took me just three or four weeks to pour out, this one took me months. And here I’d thought familiarity would simplify the process! There were times when I wanted to scratch it all and find another story to tell, but there was an intensity to Lauren’s “occupation” of my creative spaces that I couldn’t quell. So I powered through.

Once I found the courage to share what I’d written, early feedback wasn’t all encouraging—though it was exactly right. When my college writing professor, who had volunteered to read an early draft, sent a rather bluntly-worded email to me, I realized my best intentions and efforts were not paying off. “I’m past chapter eight,” she wrote. “What will keep me reading? Is it coming soon?”

Oh, the temptation to throw in the towel—or throw out the Macbook! I set the manuscript aside for several weeks, perhaps hoping that leaving it unattended would cause a sort of literary fermentation to happen that would miraculously elevate the novel from boring to readable. When the period of mourning (and rebelling and responsibility-deflecting) was over, I set to work deconstructing and reconstructing what I already had, shifting some scenes and deleting others, and generally distilling the book to its most basic, focused form.

Of Stillness and Storm was born.

Born in France to a Canadian father and an American mother, Michèle Phoenix is a consultant, writer and speaker with a heart for Third Culture Kids. She taught for 20 years at Black Forest Academy (Germany) before launching her own advocacy venture under Global Outreach Mission. Michèle travels globally to consult and teach on topics related to this unique people group. She loves good conversations, mischievous students, Marvel movies and paths to healing. Learn more at michelephoenix.com Twitter: @frenchphoenix

Enter below to be the lucky winner of a copy of Michèle’s book.

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Thanks so much for being with us, Michèle!

December 13, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
10 Comments

The Story behind Love in the Seams by Jodie Wolfe

Please welcome author Jodie Wolfe to the blog this week. I’m so happy to have her here as we’ve gotten to know each other on Facebook. Here’s a little bit about her new release, Love in the Seams.

Mae Stafford longs for the companionship and unconditional love her sister has found in her new husband. But after years of refusing potential suitors because of a pact they made as children, Mae no longer has any choices left once their agreement is broken. She’s given up hope that God will give her what she desires most, a family of her own. Instead of dwelling on what she doesn’t have, she throws herself into her work as the recent sole owner of the local dress shop. As a promise made to his late wife, Johannes Mueller agrees to travel west to be a school teacher in Calder Springs, Texas, away from the bigotry associated with being an immigrant in New York City. He hopes to improve his life and forget his loss. Johannes isn’t counting on his five-year-old daughter’s search for a new mother when they arrive. His little LillyAnn finds ways to bring the seamstress and him together…often. Can he learn to embrace his German heritage and unlock his heart to love again?

Welcome, Jodie!

Thank you for the chance to be on your lovely blog today, Liz.

Love in the Seams is book two in my Twins & Needles Series. Both books take place in the fictional town of Calder Springs, Texas. I loosely based the town from Blanco, Texas where my husband has family.

The series is about twin sisters who made a pact to never marry. I wanted to see what it would take for each of them to find a happily-ever-after of their own. I’ve always had a fascination with twins, especially identical ones. And no, there aren’t any twins in my family that I’m aware of. 🙂 I did have the pleasure of working with twin sisters who were my beta readers to make sure I got the interaction between the twins correctly though.

In my new saga, the hero, Johannes Mueller is a new schoolteacher in Calder Springs. I loosely based some of his job interaction with my experience when I student taught. Readers have told me how they have fallen in love with his precocious six-year-old daughter, LillyAnn. She has a tendency to say things that aren’t expected. I had a son who also had the ability to keep me on my toes because you never knew what would come out of his mouth when he spoke to people, particularly strangers.

Mae Stafford is an accomplished seamstress. While I taught myself to sew and have made quite a number of things through the years, I wouldn’t call myself an expert. Mae has given up believing that God will give her what she desires most but LillyAnn has other ideas in store for the two adults in her life. To purchase their story click here: http://ow.ly/8QpL306UyhR

Jodie Wolfe creates novels where hope and quirky meet. She’s been a semi-finalist and finalist in various writing contests and is a member of ACFW. When not writing she enjoys spending time with her husband in Pennsylvania, reading, walking, and being a Grammie. Learn more at www.jodiewolfe.com.

Social Media Links:

Website: http://www.jodiewolfe.com

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/Jodie-Wolfe-553400191384913/; https://www.facebook.com/jodie.wolfe.1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JodieAWolfe

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/JodieAWolfe

Jodie is giving away an ebook copy of the book to winners in the U.S. Enter below.

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Thanks again for joining us, Jodie!

December 6, 2016
by liztolsma@gmail.com
5 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

Newsletter:  http://bit.ly/1xKBK4B

Pinteresthttps://www.pinterest.com/haddad1940/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KatherynMaddoxHaddad

Linkedin: http://bit.ly/28WsEgZ

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1FR6uaU

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/28JKX8a

Goodreads: http://bit.ly/28NjHXGI

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
Comments Off on Reader Survey – Favorite Genres

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!