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Wednesday, July 27, 2022

An Interview with Larry B. Gildersleeve on Blue By You!



Larry Gildersleeve


We’re excited to have Larry Gildersleeve visiting today. His latest novel ranked #15 on Barnes & Noble’s best-seller list a few weeks ago. I’ve read Blue by You, and it’s a wonderful book in the Christian Romance genre.

Larry, how did you choose this plot?

I was intrigued with the idea two people could have a very brief love affair, and when reunited many years later, only one has the ability to remember the other. And would it be possible for them to fall in love again, with one a total stranger to the other and without the shared memory of their earlier time together?

Readers are often drawn to a book description that reminds them of another book they enjoyed. Is that possible with yours?

Absolutely. Readers have told me that Blue by You reminds them of The Bridges of Madison County. My storyline differs in two fundamental ways. First, mine has a role reversal for the male and female protagonists; second, unlike Bridges, the two lovers actually do meet again decades later in a completely different setting.

How did you come up with the title?

I’m a huge fan of both Roy Orbison, who wrote and recorded Blue Bayou, and Linda Ronstadt, who covered the song more memorably, to me at least, than any other artist. As readers learn within the first few pages, Blue is the name of my male protagonist’s dog and is seldom away from his side, thus the wordplay title.

How long did it take from your initial concept to a published book?

About eighteen months to have a finished product I was proud of, and another four months or so to see it through the various steps to become available on the top domestic and international online distribution platforms.

Since you are self-published, did you work with a professional editor?

I did. The editor for all four of my novels is Lynda McDaniel, a widely-published and award-winning author of both fiction and non-fiction offerings. I live in Kentucky, Lynda lives in California, and we’ve never met. Each iteration of my full manuscripts has gone through a line-by-line exchange with Lynda before we’re both satisfied, and reached our destination.

How did you come to writing novels?

A long-deferred dream dating back to high school finally happened when I sat down at my computer eight years ago in my mid-60s and simply began to write. I found Lynda on a referral from an author friend who had worked with her, and through her editing and coaching she essentially taught me the ins and outs of writing fiction, though I still have so much to learn.

You write in the Christian and Christian Romance genres. How did that come about?

I’m a person of faith, so that part is easily explained. Long after I began weaving Christianity into my storyline with what I refer to as a “light touch”, to hopefully appeal to a wider, secular audience, I learned my genres are second only to mystery/thriller in reader appeal.

Do you have a formula that influences your writing?

I do. It’s evolved over the course of thousands of hours of research and study, as well as writing four novels. My books are dialogue-driven, much like a screenplay, with less attention than most authors to narrative descriptions of things like clothing or the physical environments the characters occupy. My chapters are short, and I strive for page-turning endings to keep the reader engaged. And fewer named characters, down to four or five in Blue by You from upwards of twenty in my first two books.

Are you currently working on another book?


Yes. Two actually. Remaining in my genre, one I hope will find appeal among first responders, and a second one with a Christmas theme. But I’m keeping the titles to myself since I believe they are both clever wordplay like Blue by You.

When they are published, please let us know so we can share them with our readers. Thank you for being with us today.


Larry B. Gildersleeve says, I am American by birth and Southern by the Grace of God." Larry was born in Knoxville, TN, and raised and educated in Virginia and Kentucky. A three-decade corporate career took him across the country and around the world before he returned to Kentucky in 2014 to realize his long-deferred dream of becoming a published author. His three Parchment Series novels were released between 2016 and 2019, and his fourth novel, Blue by You, was published in mid-2022. All of Larry's works of fiction will be in the Christian and Inspirational genres. He is a member of the Association of American Christian Fiction Writers, the Academy of American Poets, the Alliance of Independent Authors, the Author's Guild and the Bluegrass Writer's Guild. Larry is married; the father of two and grandfather of four.

Tuesday, July 26, 2022

What Happens After the Camera Leaves the Scene?


Chris Fabry


Bringing someone else’s idea to the page had always been a bit of stretch for me. I found it easier to build a world of my own characters and discover their struggles, foibles, and strong points on my own. I wanted that world to be something I understood before I typed the first words. Then I met the Kendrick brothers and a new world opened to me.

It began with the novelization of War Room, a script I fell in love with on a plane ride. It made me laugh and cry and had such an engaging character in Miss Clara, who seemed so real and genuine. I received an early version of the film that had a lot of material that was eventually edited out, but those scenes gave me extra storylines and ideas for the novel. I took the script and the video and wrote the story asking the question, “What happens after the camera leaves this scene?”

I’ve come to see that the creative process I go through in telling a story of my own is the same with an idea from the Kendricks, except they make all the hard choices, all the plot twists and heart-tugging scenes. I see their storytelling as the fence around the story I tell. I can’t go beyond the fence, but I do get to play in the pasture. Some wonder if that stunts creativity but I think it actually enhances it because I’m free to follow ideas and internal dialogue so that I go deeper into the story. I get to go where the movie doesn’t to make the book an extended experience for the reader.


Lifemark is unlike any film the Kendricks have done. It’s based on a true story that was made into a documentary. The Kendricks fictionalized the story somewhat, adding a couple of storylines to their film, and the end product is one that I believe will save lives. I literally believe that. I can’t wait to see an email from someone who says she saw the film and chose not to have an abortion.

The other help with the novelization of Lifemark was the main character, Melissa. I was able to talk with the real-life Melissa and ask questions about the situation she faced in school and with friends. She kept her pregnancy a secret, and she went through so much isolation and loneliness during that dark time.

I’m a big believer in letting the reader participate in the story, and I try to do that with each scene. I suppose this is the old, “Show, don’t tell” dictum, but giving the reader something to do is key, I think, in telling a good story that sticks. I do that by planting questions that linger for the reader and make them want to know where the story is going next.

My main job as a writer is to get out of the way of the story. If you read a sentence and stop to admire my wonderful prose, I’m not doing my job. I want the reader to encounter words on a page but actually feel they’re living the story. If you catch your breath as you read and say, “No, don’t do that” to the characters, I’ve done my job because I’ve gotten out of the way and the story has taken over

When I was a child, my mother would take me to my grandmother’s house where my uncles would be finishing their dinner. There, with smoke hanging heavy in the air, I would ask them to tell a story about their lives growing up. As they spun these tales in their West Virginia drawl, it was as if I were right there with them going hunting for coons or possums with nothing but a lantern and a burlap sack. I learned the power of stories in that kitchen, and every time I sit down to write, I try to capture the wonder I felt as a child entranced by their voices.

It took a long time for me to believe I could tell a story like that. I studied journalism in college and knew how to put a sentence together, but it wasn’t until I met Jerry Jenkins that I began to believe I could actually write for publication.

“If you want to do this, I can help,” Jerry said. “But it’ll hurt.”

I told him to bring on the hurt, then looked at the way he edited my stories. Why couldn’t I see what he saw in the editing phase? Why was I making so many mistakes? Through the course of several years, Jerry gave me an opportunity to write with him and learn how he crafts the stories he tells. He gave me the courage to believe I could actually write.

One of the most-frequent notes he would make on my manuscripts was “RUE,” meaning resist the urge to explain. “Give the reader credit,” he wrote. And that’s the key to a well-told story. Bring the reader into the action and dialogue in such a way that they participate, they become part of the story.

I hope Lifemark achieves this and actually catches the reader off guard with the life-giving story the Kendricks have brought to the screen.

Bio

Chris Fabry is an award-winning author and radio personality who hosts the daily program Chris Fabry Live on Moody Radio. He has written more than 80 books for children and adults.

Monday, July 25, 2022

The Stories Behind the Stories



Mary A. Felkins




This I Promise You, a jilted bride trope, is the prequel that kicks off The Heart of Moreland Manor contemporary romance series (released in May, Gardenia Press).

Story question ... What if finding your heart’s desire means entrusting it ... just once more ... to the one who broke it?


While hammering out the first draft, our church supported a backpack ministry that made a weekend of food available to food insecure students and their families. This inspired the idea of a heroine—an elementary school teacher—faced with the issue of food scarcity brutally evident in her students. When my father passed away this past March, the theme of faith in action ("I will show you my faith by what I do." James 4:18) came alive in the story. Dad taught the Gospel through his generosity and practical love for people. We, his blessed family, just had to watch.

When I learned that a brother-in-Christ had been wronged by another but who chose to offer the offender a pineapple ... literally ... as a peace offering, I knew I had to include this humble gesture in the book. Because, to my happy surprise, the unexpected offer healed months of hurt and estrangement between the formerly warring roosters.

Readers will enjoy a light-hearted take on the hero—a modern-day twist on the biblical account of Joseph, the favored son of Jacob—who is estranged from him family and falsely accused. In present day, the hero enjoys a posh life of a celebrity chef in New Orleans. When the past comes through his doors, it brings a long-awaited family reunion. But breaking his promise to the girl of his heart could be beyond forgiveness.

You Are the Reason, book 1 (Elk Lake Publishing Inc.) asks … What if you didn’t want your inheritance but it led to your greatest dream?

The story addresses the call that God places on our lives and our willingness to risk stepping out of our orderly existence. It elevates the divine value of hardship and rightly defines our identity found not in our success but in our relationship to God the Father as his dearly loved children.

The inspiration for You Are the Reason began with an 1846 manor house boasting 13,000 square footage. Madewood Mansion—formerly Madewood Plantation House—is located in Napoleonville, Louisiana on Bayou Lefourche (“Lay-foosh” ... yes, I Googled this). When Madewood operated as a B&B, my husband and I celebrated several anniversaries here. Under current ownership, the historic treasure is being restored and only available for daytime events.

Since I may have a teeny tiny fascination with houses, I wondered … what if an inheritance wanted its own happily ever after but the heiress wanted the house fixed up and sold asap—despite her late mother’s wishes? It was only right to satisfy the house’s desire.

But what to call the fictional Madewood Mansion ...?

During a drive from NC to Texas to visit my family, my attention snagged on a road sign marking the exit to ... Moreland. And then I knew ... Moreland Manor was established.


When Madewood’s previous owner first inherited the home from his mother in the 80s, he had no intention of opening it up for business ... until he received a timely call from someone interested in what they charged for overnight stays. He considered the costly electric bill, swiftly crunched numbers, set a price and became the proprietor of one of Louisiana’s most beloved historic B&Bs. I included this super fun backstory in the book.

The foundational plot ideas for this book are the result of brainstorming with Rachel Hauck during an intensive 5-day writer’s retreat in 2017.

Hollywood is no stranger to Madewood. Several major motion pictures have been filmed on location (among them, A Woman Called Moses and a remake of The Beguiled starring Nicole Kidman). On one occasion, Brad Pitt stayed overnight in the carriage house that sits behind the house.

The growing popularity of house restoration shows inspired the idea to include a film production company. Fictional MidDay Media is a spin on High Noon Entertainment, the production company that discovered Chip and Joanna Gaines. And not unlike what Chip and Joanna learned early on—the camera is always rolling. Yes, yes, clandestine romantic tension between heroine and hero is caught on film! Ah, the fun of writing romance.

What’s next?

Book #2 (Sweeter With You) and #3 (When You Smile for Me) will release in 2022 and 2023 respectively through Elk Lake Publishing, Inc.


Mary A. Felkins is an inspirational romance author, blogger, and contributor to writer’s blogs and online publications. Her debut novel, Call to Love, is set in Hickory, North Carolina, where she lives with her husband. They have four young adult children. She is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and My Book Therapy.

Her purpose in writing is to reclaim God’s intention when he created the world–to enable readers to know his heart and experience his love.

The unmerited gift of a large, unopened bag of Peanut M&Ms® will lure her from her writer’s desk. A surprise appearance by her teen idol, Donny Osmond, would also do the trick—although she’d likely pass out.

Upon introduction, if she likes your first or last name, expect to see it show up in one of her novels.


Mary A. Felkins’ books on Amazon https://amzn.to/3cxll0d


To receive Mary’s inspirational blog, quarterly author newsletter with giveaways, and/or launch team opportunities, subscribe via email at www.maryfelkins.com



SM links:

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maryafelkins/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaryAFelkins

Friday, July 22, 2022

Lover of Fairy Tales and Happily-Ever-After




 Jody Hedlund



Jody Hedlund is a bestselling and award-winning author who loves fairy tales and happily-ever-after's. She makes her home in Midland, MI, with her husband and five children. When she's not writing another of her page-turning stories, you can usually find her sipping coffee, eating chocolate, and reading.


What you may not know about Jody is she loves to visit lighthouses! "I’ve been to many around my home state of Michigan. And most recently I had the chance to go up into the Chatham Light on Cape Cod."


Jody has been married for over twenty-five years to her college sweetheart. She said, "My husband has been one of my biggest cheerleaders over the years, doing his best to understand and support my writing even in the days when publication was only the whisper of a dream."


Jody Hedlund is the best-selling author of over forty historicals for both adults and teens and is the winner of numerous awards. Check out her books on Amazon.com


Bethany House Publishers will release her new book, Falling For The Cowgirl in October 2022.


Here is a description:

Years ago, he shattered her heart. Now she must trust him with her life.

As the only girl in her family, and with four older brothers, Ivy McQuaid can rope and ride with the roughest of ranchers. She's ready to have what she's always longed for--a home of her own. She's set her heart on a parcel of land south of Fairplay and is saving for it with her winnings from the cowhand competitions she sneaks into--but her dream is put in jeopardy when the man she once loved reappears in her life.

After two years away, Jericho Bliss is back in South Park as an undercover Pinkerton agent searching for a war criminal. He has no intention of involving a woman in the dangerous life he leads, but one look at Ivy is all it takes for him to question the path he's set out for himself.

Even though Jericho tries to resist his longtime attraction to the beautiful and vivacious Ivy, he finds himself falling hard and fast for her. In the process, his worst fear comes true--he puts her smack-dab in the middle of danger. With Ivy's life in the balance, will Jericho give her up once again, or will he find a way back to her, this time forever?



Thursday, July 21, 2022

The Blackout Book Club Coming Soon



Amy Lynn Green

"Coming in November 2022, Bethany House Publishers releases Amy Lynn Green's new book The Blackout Book Club."


Amy Lynn Green loves books, history, and library cards and has all her life. She worked in publishing for six years before writing her first historical fiction novel. Amy is the author of Things We Didn't Say and The Lines Between Us. She is a Christian/Historical Fiction writer.


Her first novel is based on the WWII home front of Minnesota, the state where she lives, works, and survives long winters. She has taught classes on marketing at writer’s conferences and regularly encourages established and aspiring authors in their publication journeys. In her novels (and her daily life), she loves exploring the intersection of faith and fiction and searches for answers to present-day questions by looking to the past.


J'nell Ciesielski, bestselling author of The Socialite said, "Green weaves together the struggle of war, the resilience of the home front, and the love that can bind a community together in her latest novel."


For your enjoyment the description of her new book reads:

In 1942, an impulsive promise to her brother before he goes off to the European Front puts Avis Montgomery in the unlikely position of head librarian in small-town Maine. Though she has never been much of a reader, when wartime needs threaten to close the library, she invents a book club to keep its doors open.

The women she convinces to attend the first meeting couldn't be more different--a wealthy spinster determined to aid the war effort, an exhausted mother looking for a fresh start, and a determined young war worker.


At first, the struggles of the home front are all the club members have in common, but over time, the books they choose become more than an escape from the hardships of life and the fear of the U-boat battles that rage just past their shores.


 As the women face personal challenges and band together in the face of danger, they find they have more in common than they think. But when their growing friendships are tested by secrets of the past and present, they must decide whether depending on each other is worth the cost.


Amy Lynn Green. Truly a book you will want to read.


https://www.amygreenbooks.com/about



Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Come Behind the Pages of Sunburst….

Susan May Warren




“What do you mean I can’t attend my son’s wedding?”

This question, this thought circled my mind for the better part of 2020 as Covid swept the world. Amidst so many horrors was the realization that my son would be getting married in Italy, without his family present.

Not as terrible as so many other losses, but still, a major bummer.

Of course, we weren’t the only ones disappointed. His beautiful bride, Precious, was from Nigeria. They both lived in Italy, and while their Italian wedding was beautiful…it wasn’t a traditional Nigerian wedding. (and if you’ve never seen a Nigerian wedding, you are missing out!)


Another major bummer.


Our family had the privilege of meeting Precious the Christmas before, when our son brought her stateside for a holiday visit. She’d never seen snow before. Or experienced the deep cold of Minnesota. But she brought a warmth to our lives through her personality and her culture.

“Can I cook for you?” she asked a couple days after arriving.

“Yes!” 

We took a trip to the Nigerian market in Minneapolis and bought things that I had never heard of eating. Tripe. Crawfish powder. Bitter greens. Fish head. And…goat.


She cooked up a storm, and we gathered around the table for a spicy culinary experience. Goat soup is not for everyone, but the laughter as we ate it together and learned about Precious’ life in Nigeria, as well as their wedding plans, ignited a story idea.


What if an American guy fell in love with a Nigerian woman and had to marry her in Nigeria? What sort of traditions would he need to observe?

That began an exploration of Nigerian wedding customs. And, because Precious and Pete couldn’t return to Nigeria for their wedding, she and I dreamed up her perfect traditional Urohobo wedding. We spent hours on zoom talking about Nigeria—foods, customs, language (pidgin English) and traditions. I asked crazy questions (e.g. why does your father have three wives?) and she helped me plot a book that involved a lost love, a marriage of convenience, and an epic adventure through Nigeria.

 

Most of all, we created the fictional Urohobo wedding that she never got.

 Sunburst, book two in my Sky King Ranch series, came out June 6th. It’s a tribute and love story to my sweet daughter-in-law, and a deep dive into a culture filled with family, honor and love. It’s also a high stakes escape through a country that is besieged (mostly in the north) by violence by the Boko Haram and other guerilla groups.

I probably got a lot of things wrong. But what I received was a priceless introduction into the culture of my grandchildren, and a new addition to our family.

I hope you enjoy reading Sunburst as much as we enjoyed dreaming it up. It’s the second book in the epic adventure about three brothers who return home to their father’s bush service/ranch only to discover that trouble is waiting, in Alaska…and around the world. (Some of that trouble may be in Nigeria!)

Thank you for reading!



Susan May Warren





Susan May Warren is the USA Today bestselling author of more than 85 novels with more than 1.5 million books sold, including the Global Search and Rescue and the Montana Rescue series, as well as Sunrise. Winner of a RITA Award and multiple Christy and Carol Awards, as well as the HOLT Medallion and numerous Readers’ Choice Awards.

Susan makes her home in Minnesota.

Find her online at www.susanmaywarren.com, on Facebook

@SusanMayWarrenFiction
, and on Twitter

@SusanMayWarren.








Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Walking in Tall Weeds




Robin W. Pearson


I wrote my “debut novel”, technically, in the third grade with my best friend, Beth. My protagonist loved butter pecan ice cream (coincidentally). Early in my career, I wrote and edited for a school publisher, and then I produced articles related to parenting and homeschooling. After I had my first child, I was inspired to preserve our family history and memories, leading to my first novel, A Long Time Comin’.

I’ve loved reading books by Liane Moriarty and Bebe Moore Campbell, contemporary authors in the general market. Moriarty does an excellent job of portraying interpersonal relationships and conveying those subtle nuances that make a good story. While her settings are unfamiliar to me, she picks me up, plops me into the middle of her story, and makes me feel right at home. Yet she keeps me guessing until the end. I also invite my readers to come along on a four-hundred-page journey in my novels. They may not know where they’re going, but I try to make them comfortable, so they’ll enjoy themselves and hang on until the end.

And Campbell, is one of the first Black authors I read years ago. She was a phenomenal writer whose novels weave together the lives and backgrounds of all kinds of people. She used dialogue and lyrical writing to bring her characters to life, showing how their decisions and histories impact others. Her writing is lyrical and beautiful and blends elements of both literary and women’s fiction. I also consider my novels upmarket fiction, and my stories illustrate how our pasts can shape us and our relationships. As a faith-based writer, however, I show how God’s love transforms us and connects us to the world.

I've been asked what I look for when choosing a setting for my book. So far, I’ve set my books in fictional North Carolina towns because I enjoy writing what I know and where I know. While I try to put my characters in a type of “Anywhereville,” hoping that my readers also can see themselves there, I situate these towns near actual locations so there’s a real sense of place.

My research for my characters in Walking in Tall Weeds worked with furniture and interior design, which gave me the opportunity to explore two of my own interests. I enjoyed interviewing industry experts in Thomasville and High Point, North Carolina, and researching furniture making. A character in the book I’m currently working on is a jewelry maker, so I’m learning a lot about gemstones. I’m also talking to professionals who design and sell their own pieces to find out about their training.

Many books correlate love and romance with the young, but my latest, Walking in Tall Weeds, centers around a mature married couple who is still passionate about each other. They haven’t made their relationship a priority, nor have they addressed all the “baggage” they’re still traveling with after more than thirty years together.

I hope that when readers finish Walking in Tall Weeds, they will feel challenged to examine their heart and motivations and ask themselves hard questions such as “Have I chosen love and forgiveness over bitterness? Can others tell who and what I believe by what I say and do?” I want them to walk away feeling inspired to share this book because these characters and their story are a mirror, they can use to see themselves.


Robin W. Pearson’s writing sprouts from her Southern roots, her faith in Jesus Christ, and her love of her husband and seven children. All lend authenticity to her novels. After graduating from Wake Forest University, she has corrected grammar up and down the East Coast in her career as an editor and writer that started with Houghton Mifflin Company more than twenty-five years ago. Both her Christy Award–winning debut, A Long Time Comin’, and her second novel, ’Til I Want No More, have earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Follow her on her blog, Mommy, Concentrated, where she shares her adventures in faith, family, and Wfreelancing

Friday, July 15, 2022

Susan Sleeman Releases New Series, Steele Guardians!

Susan Sleeman


SUSAN SLEEMAN is the bestselling author of over fifty romantic suspense and mystery novels with more than one million books sold. She writes romantic suspense novels that are clean with inspiring messages of faith. Readers love her series for the well-drawn characters and edge-of-your-seat action. She graduated from the FBI and local police citizen academies, so her research is spot-on and her characters are real.

In addition to writing, Susan also hosts TheSuspenseZone.com. She has lived in nine states but now calls Oregon home. Her husband is a retired church music director, and they have two beautiful daughters, two special sons-in-law, and two amazing grandsons.


Susan Sleeman's new series, 
Steele Guardians book 1, Tough As Steele, has been released. If you love mystery and intrigue you will definitely want to get this book.

Searching for an abducted woman...
Detective Londyn Steele is thrown into the deep end when she’s assigned to find an abducted socialite. Problem is, her family’s company, Steele Guardians, was supposed to protect the family matriarch at her eightieth birthday party when she disappears, and Londyn fears her investigation will expose problems in her family’s company and bring them down. Especially when County Detective Nate Ryder declares jurisdiction over the scene, and Londyn must take a back seat in one of the most important cases she’s ever investigated.

Could put them in a deadly killer’s crosshairs.
Londyn has no choice but to work with Nate and bristles at his interference at first, but soon forms a working truce so they can combine forces to locate this missing woman before it’s too late. As they search for leads, emotions he hasn’t felt since before his service as a Navy SEAL come to the surface. He credits Londyn for unearthing the guy he used to be before his military service, and Londyn can barely fight her attraction for him. But when they fear the socialite was murdered and the killer is still hunting, seeking another prey, their feelings for each other have to be put on hold to stay alive.

Book 2 , Nerves of Steele has been released.

To learn more about Susan’s books sign up for her monthly email that includes exclusive excerpts, giveaways, and other goodies. http://www.susansleeman.com/susans-newsletter/

Or stop by any of these locations on the web.

Website - http://www.susansleeman.com

Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/SusanSleemanBooks

Twitter - http://www.twitter.com/susansleeman

Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/susansleeman/

Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4053429.Susan_Sleeman

BookBub - https://www.bookbub.com/authors/susan-sleeman

Amazon - https://www.amazon.com/Susan-Sleeman/e/B003ANF6Z8

Review Site - http://www.TheSuspenseZone.co




Thursday, July 14, 2022

The Warsaw Ghetto ~WWII


Casting light into one of the darkest periods of World War II, acclaimed author V.S. Alexander’s powerful historical novel tells of two Jewish sisters of Polish descent who unite in a fight to save their family from the Warsaw Ghetto.


V. S. Alexander said, " I'm happy to share my historical women's fiction with you thanks to Kensington Publishing. My novels feature strong women protagonists whose lives take them on incredible journeys in settings fraught with danger and intrigue. Along the way, they learn about life, love, and themselves.

"My writings include: The Magdalen Girls (2017), The Taster (2018), The Irishman's Daughter (2019), The Traitor (2020), and The Sculptress (2021). Two more novels are scheduled for the coming years. I hope you enjoy reading my books as much as I enjoy writing them."

Michael Meeske writes as V. S. Alexander and Vincent Wilde. Michael Meeske writes across genres, including women’s historical fiction, mystery, suspense, horror, and gothic fiction.


Description:

Based on true WWII stories of life in the Warsaw Ghetto during the Occupation and the women who served the Allies as agents and spies...


Casting light into one of the darkest periods of World War II, acclaimed author V.S. Alexander’s powerful historical novel tells of two Jewish sisters - one imprisoned in the Warsaw Ghetto and the other who joins the Special Operations Executive in a daring attempt to free her family from the ever-tightening Nazi stranglehold.

It’s not just a thousand miles that separates Hanna Majewski from her younger sister, Stefa. There is another gulf—between the traditional Jewish ways that Hanna chose to leave behind in Warsaw, and her new, independent life in London. But as autumn of 1940 draws near, Germany begins a savage aerial bombing campaign in England, killing and displacing tens of thousands. Hanna, who narrowly escapes death, is recruited as a spy in an undercover operation that sends her back to her war-torn homeland.

In Hanna’s absence, her parents, sister, and brother have been driven from their comfortable apartment into the Warsaw Ghetto. Sealed off from the rest of the city, the Ghetto becomes a prison for nearly half a million Jews, struggling to survive amid starvation, disease, and the constant threat of deportation to Treblinka. Once a pretty and level-headed teenager, Stefa is now committed to the Jewish resistance. Together, she, Hanna, and Janka, a family friend living on the Aryan side of the city, form a trio called The War Girls. Against overwhelming odds and through heartbreak they will fight to rescue their loved ones, finding courage through sisterhood to keep hope alive . .

Wednesday, July 13, 2022

What is Poetry?

 Sara M. Robinson





Inspired by a recent essay asking this same question, I started thinking more about all that I have written about poetry, as well as the poems I have composed. After all, what is this genre we are writing? I guess we could ask the other long questions, too. Why? How? Where, and When might be a little obscure as to poetry, but back to the first question: What is poetry?



Is poetry prose, simply written differently? Some poetry critics say that poetry is simply prose broken up into short lines. Really? That’s an over simplification of the most amazing literary genre that the human brain has created. There is method to poetry and the first step is compaction: every word must serve a purpose. Even prose poetry (to further confuse matters) has specific tasks, such as creative visuals. Poetry also relies on a peculiar kind of rhythm to state its case for being poetry. The rhythm or cadence can seem musical or it can match the rhythm of human speech. Poetry does not have to have rhyming lines, but the language must be true.



Writing of true, I emphasize that language must be true in that it represents a keen interest and application of words. This is not the same as truth. My mantra is: Poetry can always be fiction, but the words must reveal great truths. By means of example, Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in his seminal Democracy in America, “ …men in democracies, whose concerns are in general so paltry, call upon their poets for conceptions so vast and descriptions so unlimited.” These authors undertake such grand requests and respond with the gigantic to reach the multitudes. The risk is that poets get so lofty that they simply float away.



Poetry is the relevant genre of our times as well. We see in currently published works the anxieties, horror and redemptions that mankind faces. The world is brought closer to us and our own local geography is put right in front of us. Poetry is a mirror. Its reflections are created by words that make us either think, cringe, laugh or cry. At its best, poetry is a call to action. How?

Remember Amanda Gorman and her poem, “The Hill We Climb”?



Poetry is the all-inclusive “WE” for this planet. Poetry is more than a tie that binds, it is the rope of salvation. A rescue ship whose constant search is for more of us to save.



What is poetry? Perhaps the answer is what poetry is not.



Keep writing…


Sara M. Robinson, founder of the Lonesome Mountain Pro(s)e Writers’ Workshop, and former Instructor of a course on Contemporary American Poets at UVA-OLLI, was poetry columnist for Southern Writers Magazine and inagural poetry editor for Virginia Literary Journal. She has served as guest lecturer at UVA’s College at Wise, Wise, VA. Her poetry has appeared in various anthologies, including We Grew Wings and Flew (2014), Scratching Against the Fabric (2015), Virginia Writer’s Club Centennial Anthology (2017), Blue Ridge Anthologies and Mizmor Anthology (2018). Journals include: Loch Raven Review, The Virginia Literary Journal, vox poetica, Jimson Weed, Whisky Advocate, and Poetica. She is poet and author of Love Always, Hobby and Jessie (2009), Two Little Girls in a Wading Pool (2012), A Cruise in Rare Waters (2013 Stones for Words (2014), Sometimes the Little Town (2016), a finalist for the Poetry Society of Virginia’s 2017 Book Award. In 2019, Needville, her poetry about effects of coal mining on SW Virginia was released and in 2020 debuted as play in Charlottesville. Her most recent publication is Simple River (2020, Cyberwit).

https://saramrobinson.com/





Tuesday, July 12, 2022

What Do You Know About America's Nursing School and A Female Grifter?


 



Amanda Skenandore said, "I’m lucky. I come from a family of diehard scientists—the kind who tell jokes about irrational numbers and use the Vulcan salute instead of waving goodbye. But there was always room in our house for the arts too. My sisters—one a conservation biologist, the other an astrophysicist—paint and play the flute. My father, a physicist, is also a movie buff. My mother, a mathematician, dabbles in everything from theater to stained glass. Me, I’m an infection prevention nurse. But first and foremost I’m a writer. Even when my pen is still, my mind is aflight with stories.

"I’m lucky. I come from a family of readers. Books filled our shelves and trips to the library were routine. Even though I struggled with dyslexia and was slow to learn, my parents insisted I not give up. Now, I don’t read fast but I read often and wide—fantasy, scifi, paranormal romance, YA, literary, and of course, historical fiction.

"I’m lucky. I married a man of great character and enduring flexibility. When I told him at thirty I wanted to quit my job and try to be a author, he said go for it. When I’d gone five years without selling a book or finding an agent, he said try a little longer."


Amanda is a historical fiction writer and registered nurse. Her first novel, Between Earth and Sky, won the American Library Association’s Reading List Award for Best Historical Fiction. She grew up in the Colorado Rockies. but now lives in Las Vegas with her husband and their pet turtle Lenore.




Amanda's newest book, The Nurses's Secret releases June 28.
A Thrilling Historical Novel of the Dark Side of Gilded Age New York City. 

It's about a fascinating historical novel based on the little-known story of America’s first nursing school, as a young female grifter in 1880s New York evades the police by conning her way into Bellevue Hospital’s training school for nurses…


Based on Florence Nightingale’s nursing principles, Bellevue is the first school of its kind in the country. Where once nurses were assumed to be ignorant and unskilled, Bellevue prizes discipline, intellect, and moral character, and only young women of good breeding need apply. At first, Una balks at her prim classmates and the doctors’ endless commands. Yet life on the streets has prepared her for the horrors of injury and disease found on the wards, and she slowly gains friendship and self-respect.

Just as she finds her footing, Una’s suspicions about a patient’s death put her at risk of exposure, and will force her to choose between her instinct for self-preservation, and exposing her identity in order to save others.

Amanda Skenandore brings her medical expertise to a page-turning story that explores the evolution of modern nursing—including the grisly realities of nineteenth-century medicine—as seen through the eyes of an intriguing and dynamic heroine.

Monday, July 11, 2022

Who Doesn't Like Twists and Turns Involving the Bermuda Triangle!

 

Julianne MacLean



Julianne MacLean is a USA Today bestselling author of more than forty novels, including the Color of Heaven Series. Her recent release, THESE TANGLED VINES, was one of Amazon’s top selling Kindle ebooks of 2021. Readers have described her books as “breathtaking,” “soulful” and “uplifting.” MacLean is a four-time RITA finalist and has won numerous awards, including the Booksellers’ Best Award and a Reviewers’ Choice Award from Romantic Times. Her novels have sold millions of copies worldwide and have been published in over a dozen languages.

MacLean has a degree in English literature from the University of King’s College in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and a degree in business administration from Acadia University in Wolfville, Nova Scotia. She loves to travel and has lived in New Zealand, Canada, and England. MacLean currently resides on the east coast of Canada in a lakeside home with her husband. 

She invites readers to explore her website at JulianneMacLean.com for more information about her books and writing life, and to subscribe to her mailing list for all the latest news.


Her newest book, Beyond the Moonlit Sea released on June 14.

A gripping novel about one woman’s search for answers when her husband vanishes in the night.

Tanya Anne Crosby, New York Times bestselling author, said, "“I started this twisty, page-turning, five-hankie tale and didn’t stop till I was through. The multidimensional characters are artfully drawn, and you care, really care, what happens to them. The end was a bombshell, satisfying to the bone.”

Pamela Callow, bestselling author of the Kate Lange Thriller series said, “Bestselling author Julianne MacLean has outdone herself! Filled with as many twists and turns as the Bermuda Triangle itself, in this breathtaking saga of love, loss, and redemption, an unsuspecting wife attempts to unravel the mystery of her pilot husband’s disappearance—and discovers that the greatest unexplained force of nature is the power of enduring love. I could not put down Beyond the Moonlit Sea!” 

Friday, July 8, 2022

To All Soldiers and Those Who Serve From Home~ “Letters from Georgia”

Vickie Carroll




This is a tribute not only to the brave soldiers who fought in World War II, but for those left at home, especially the women. The women who carried this country on their sholders for years.

When I started writing, “Letters from Georgia” I thought I knew most everything about WW2, but I was wrong. I knew very little about the people who lived it. Though some in my family lived it—some were soldiers who lived through it, and there were some who waited on their loved ones to come home. Most never wanted to talk much about it when I was growing up. All I really knew or thought I knew about the real people in that generation, I picked up from movies.

As I dug down deep into that time, researching what they wore, ate, drove, sang, thought, and where they worked, and how the family was structured, I was hooked. Every day when I sat in front of my computer, I could hardly wait to go back to 1942, the year when things changed for my heroine and her family. I learned about ration books, victory gardens, and saving everything. I learned that women took over the jobs previously held by men and kept this country going, and their families fed. I learned that the men who went to fight were far braver than I could have ever been. Young men, some still in their teen years, leaving everything they knew and loved to go to someplace they could hardly imagine, to fight an enemy they had barely heard about before the war. They were off to fight other young men who looked just like them.

Those left at home had their stories too. Some romances ended forever, some held on to the hope their boyfriend or husband would return. Mothers prayed constantly they would see their husband’s or son’s face again. Very few seemed to think the fighting would go on as long as it did. I read about sugar rationing, and gas rationing, but then more—it was cheese, bacon, leather goods, and on and on. It was all about use it up and wear it out.

As I went even deeper, writing about Dan and Claire, I tried to get into the feelings, the thoughts, the private lives of my characters, and I became Claire, the young woman letter writer from Georgia, and Dan, the soldier writing to her from the other side of the ocean, and I lived both sides. I was the young soldier who became disillusioned by what he saw when he arrived in England, and I was the young woman who wrote him hoping to cheer him up with news from home, and all the while wondering how the war was going to end her dreams. It was during that process that I felt for a few fleeting minutes that I understood what it must have been like. Or as close as one who did not really live it can understand.

We see Claire, who is left at home, and Dan, a new college graduate who joins the army, wrestle with fear, love, insecurity, doubt, and never knowing what their tomorrow might bring. And we see what it was that made America strong, what it was that got them through, and why so many young men, and some women as well, were willing to risk their lives. It was the ultimate sacrifice for love. Love of family, love of country, and the ideals that were considered sacrosanct.

Even in the time of war, life goes on; even when they can feel that tension under the surface of everything they do, it must. But there is light, and there is joy, and there are dreams still simmering below the surface too, and there are new people who come into their lives. Dan and Claire can’t help but change, and both go through that time on very different tracks, and with different priorities. Finally, the question remains, can what “was” hold things together or have they outgrown who they were? Are their dreams still the same or have things changed too much?

Two things I like to put into all my stories, grandmothers, and dogs. I don’t know why, but now they are my good luck charms and I always put them in. This book was no exception. In this case, Claire’s grandmother plays a huge role in helping Claire find her way. Her grandmother owns a bakery, and she brings Claire in to help her, she says, but it is really to keep her granddaughter occupied. She subtly offers advice as she helps Claire to see beyond the moment, beyond her current situation, and to imagine a day when things will be different, better. She gives Claire space to think and gives her hope.

As much as I admire the men who fought that war, it is the women and children who stand out for me in the story. The wife staying home to work and raise the kids, the kids trying to go on with their lives, and of course, the grandparents, some who knew all about world wars already. I came to see them as heroes too. It was the women who kept this country afloat during the war years. They did the work of men, did the work of women, as mothers, and kept things going. But the war changed them in other ways too. Women learned that they were smart too, and they could learn to do many things. They learned they could do the same jobs that some men had done, and all while raising a family, taking care of the house, making their own clothes, and growing their own food. This was a lesson that some never forgot. When the men went back to the factories, stores, and mills, and were paid twice what the owners had given the women, a spark was lit, and it still burns.




Vickie Carroll is the author of over a dozen books. From “sweet” romance to cozy mysteries, and even a ghost story, she is now branching out. In her latest book, “Letters from Georgia” in the new Sweet Promise Press series, “Letters from Home”, Vickie writes about a young woman who is separated from her father and new boyfriend by WW2. As she waits at home with the rest of her family, hoping the world will right itself, she learns that the war changes everything, including one’s dreams.

The book should be ready to order late June, or early July via Amazon. The second in her two-book contribution will be “Letters from England” so follow her on Amazon and you can get a notification of when it releases.

Meanwhile, Vickie, needing a break from WW2, is already writing another series for Whiskered Mysteries publications. It’s a cozy mystery series with Abby Spenser, a sassy amateur detective, who of course, has a dog, but there’s a twist. The book, “It’s Only Murder” is set in Sweet Magnolia, Georgia, and Abby is a real detective. The only catch is, she is forced to retire at 58 due to a health issue. But she can’t keep her nose out of the detective business too long, much to her ex-partner’s dismay. Vickie says she has never had so much fun writing a book because the characters are almost talking to her!


https://www.facebook.com/moonlightwriter16/

Thursday, July 7, 2022

Robin W. Pearson Visits Suite T

 




We are thrilled to have Robin W. Pearson visiting today. Her new book, Walking in Tall Weeds, will be released July 19.

Congratulations Robin on this new book. I am looking forward to reading it.


I want to ask you what you do when you are writing and you get stumped?

If I’m having trouble making progress in a story, I start over from the beginning and reread. Editing helps me write new material and if necessary, go in a different direction altogether. I compare it to driving a car with a manual transmission: sometimes when you’re on a hill, you back up and then move forward.

Did you choose your genre, or do you feel it choose you?

I suppose I chose my genre when I ate my first helping of collard greens on a Sunday afternoon. My faith and my Southern culture shape my thoughts, my relationships, my parenting—how I see the world in general—so they certainly affect my writing.

Did you feel you had to make sacrifices to be a writer?

When my seven little people were younger, I regularly sacrificed sleep. I have several full-time roles, including parenting and homeschooling, so my daylight hours were full of caring for my family, teaching, and running my peeps around to various and sundry places. Actually, not much has changed!

I am sure like most authors you have been given writing advice. What is the best writing advice you have received so far?

Write daily. It’s like drinking water and exercising regularly. When I skip days working on my book, my creativity dries up and my connection to the story weakens; I lack the stamina and the will to write. Also, I have to spend valuable time reacquainting myself with my characters rather than making progress.

What advice have you been given you thought was bad?

Quit. When it seemed to take me forever to connect with a publisher for my first novel, A Long Time Comin’, a friend suggested that perhaps it wasn’t “meant to be.” I considered that idea for a hot second and prayed about it and realized that wait doesn’t mean no.

Between plotting, character development, dialogue, and scenes, which is easiest for you, and which takes a lot of effort?

Developing characters comes more naturally to me. I write what I hear and see, and as a mama of seven who spends lots of time with extended family and friends, I hear and see a lot. Plotting takes more time to develop. I’m a pantser by nature, so I often flesh out the story as I write. I’ll discover the “why” a hundred pages in and have to edit to make sure all the dots connect.

Do you have a schedule for writing?

I keep my computer with me, and I make the most of every opportunity to write, whether it’s fifteen minutes or two hours. Is that considered a schedule?

What is the best way you found to market your book?

Since I specialize in being me, not a salesperson, I focus on building authentic relationships within the writing and reading community. By sharing about my faith and my family, readers get to know the truth behind the fiction and learn more about my day-to-day inspiration. I think they connect to the way I share about my everyday struggles—from finding gray chin hair to “parenting” adult children—and they want to read more. They connect to me and to my work.

Did you actively build a network of readers and if so, how?

The main way I grow my readership is by consistently writing stories that address real issues that people can relate to. Also, I appear on podcasts, write articles, and participate in book-related events such as attending conferences and doing signings. I try to go where the readers are, whether that’s virtually or in person. Though I’m an introvert deep, deep down, I love connecting with others and discussing our family histories, writing journeys, and our favorite books (besides mine!).

Are you on the social media highway and if so, do you schedule times to post?

You can find @robinwpearson on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook, and on Pinterest, for recipes. I also have a website, robinwpearson.com, where readers can subscribe to my monthly newsletter, the Robin’s Nest. This summer my more organized family members have promised to give me a tutorial on scheduling posts.

What point in your writing career did you feel like you had gone from amateur to pro?

Even after more than two decades in the publishing industry, three books under my belt, and a Christy Award on my shelf, I’m still working on that! There’s lots to learn.

What advice would you like to give new authors that would help them?

Based on my own bad habits, I advise new authors to be true to who they are and answer the call God gave them. They shouldn’t measure their success or their struggle with other authors. When I’m tempted to peek over the fence at greener grass, I remind myself, “Only I can write my story.”


Robin W. Pearson’s writing sprouts from her Southern roots, her faith in Jesus Christ, and her love of her husband and seven children. All lend authenticity to her novels. After graduating from Wake Forest University, she has corrected grammar up and down the East Coast in her career as an editor and writer that started with Houghton Mifflin Company more than twenty-five years ago. Both her Christy Award–winning debut, A Long Time Comin’, and her second novel, ’Til I Want No More, have earned a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Follow her on her blog, Mommy, Concentrated, where she shares her adventures in faith, family, and freelancing.

Wednesday, July 6, 2022

The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip



Sara Brunsvold


I’m a sucker for intergenerational stories. There is something especially sweet about characters from different generations connecting in meaningful ways and to a fruitful end. In reading, I gravitate toward books featuring intergenerational characters (“Fried Green Tomatoes at Whistlestop CafĂ©” is among my favorites). In real life, I gravitate toward those who have walked ahead of me, wanting to hear about what they’ve seen along the path of life.

This love was instilled in me early on as I grew up on my family’s Missouri farm. Both sets of grandparents lived nearby and helped shape my worldview. They had lived through the Great Depression, World War II and many dramatic life events. The fact they were who they were when I knew them was no surprise considering what they had experienced. I treasure the stories they told me about their younger years, which served as my first real taste of heritage as well as American history in the Heartland. Today, I share those stories with my own daughters. The stories have outlasted virtually all other forms of inheritance.

Perhaps intergenerational stories are even sweeter to me now against the backdrop of the dismissive “OK, Boomer” mindset so prevalent in younger generations. What blessing this mindset robs from those who hold it!

The two main characters in The Extraordinary Deaths of Mrs. Kip reflect my love for these kinds of relationships. Clara Kip, a childless widow, is nearing the end of her life, which has been full of hardship yet breath-taking experiences. Aidyn Kelley is the striving twenty-something reporter who is assigned to help Clara prepare her obituary. What Aidyn sees as a menial task to get through, Mrs. Kip sees as a gift – an opportunity to invest in Aidyn stories that matter.

Though their coming together is the result of a random course of events, Mrs. Kip is intentional about pouring into Aidyn. She considers Aidyn and their hours together “precious” and prays for the words to speak.

But it’s more than just her stories Mrs. Kip aims to pass on to Aidyn. It is the lessons contained within them. More than anything, that’s the inheritance she wants to leave.

Isn’t that the goal of stories after all? To teach? To edify? To shape?

One of my favorite stories from my Grandma Kaden was about how her parents used to secretly squirrel away butter, flour and sugar for months. Then, on Christmas Eve, when the children had gone to bed in their small farmhouse, her parents would stay up and bake as many cookies as their meager stash would allow. When the kids woke up the next morning, every surface of the tiny kitchen was covered with cookies. That was their Christmas gift, and every child delighted in it. To this day, that story teaches me to be content, to be creative and to love sacrificially.

Mrs. Kip knows her headline-worthy life stories can change Aidyn’s career trajectory, but more importantly, she knows that her stories can change Aidyn’s life, if the child will listen. She believes that if she can draw Aidyn in – albeit through a slightly ornery method – Aidyn will awaken to the surprising rewards of putting self aside and valuing others instead.

I have no doubt that my grandmother and Mrs. Kip would get along. I have no doubt I want to be Mrs. Kip when I grow up. And I have no doubt that I will long be an Aidyn in pursuit of a Mrs. Kip.



Sara Brunsvold creates stories that speak hope, truth, and life. Influenced by humble women of God who find His fingerprints in the everyday, she does the same in her life and her storytelling. Sara’s recognitions include the 2020 ACFW Genesis Award for Contemporary Fiction. She lives with her family in the Kansas City area where she can often be spotted writing at a park or library. Learn more at

www.sarabrunsvold.com.

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