Wednesday, February 22, 2017
I can describe this book no other way but a work of God. I hope you don't mind while I share this tale of of a hard-fought novel that wouldn't quit.
It had to come to life. For someone. Maybe you?
I started this book back in late 90's. Yes, 1990's! Originally it was keyed in on a Brother Word Processor. (I know this reveals I'm not 29 anymore. LOL) You see, I'm a writer from way back. At the age of fourteen, I lugged out a manual typewriter and plopped it on a waggling card table, ready to write the next equestrian wonder. I was a teen in love with horses. Ahhh, those innocent days!
But, as always, realty nosed in, and I got busy with. . .life.
And writing ceased.
That nugget of the need to write, however, had lodged itself permanently in my young brain. Fast forward through sporadic years of spastic writing here and there, some with a practical purpose, some just for dreams. Christmas plays, poems, journals. Notebooks of my chicken scratch writing (I'm not much of a neat freak. Sorry if this disappoints some.)
Then, marriage, kids, job, well, you know the drill. Category: This is Life, 101. And we were poor. We counted nickles just to do the laundry at the laundromat. Publishing? Phsaw. Just as well wish a year long penthouse stay in Hawaii with a million dollar expense account. Pretty much had the same possibility of actually occurring.
Then my kids left home. And God nudged me.
I extracted my files from the old Brother, and "The Secret Things" whispered to me. It wasn't ready to die. It was rejected time after time. Influential people scoffed at it. I started calling it my stepchild. No one wanted it.
I revised it. Rewrote it one, two, three. . .seven times. I revised the opening. It grew from novella-size to a full-blow novel. It started as a sweet romance and merged as a suspense. Wow, what a ride she gave me! I could tell you tons of more adventures she's led me on, but Daddy always said not to give away the farm. Suffice it to say, I've learned so much in the making of this novel.
Phew! I feel better. Confession is out. And I hope you don't mind the break in the interview format. Gee, I really hope you are still reading! 'Cause I'm getting to the nitty-gritty right fast. It releases this Saturday! Hallelujah, come fan me! I feel a little weak in the knees and that's no put-on.
"The Secret Things" is part of a series. The series is entitled Unchained Souls, and as you can tell, it's about secrets and revealing those secrets. (There's another one right now on my computer, whoop, whoop!)
And here's the blurb:
Boom! Need more? Of course you do! Here's the link! http://a.co/4MEIrtg Or if you like a solid paperback, go here: http://a.co/hJ4AXwB
I'm giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card to celebrate. Leave your email below to qualify for the drawing. I can't give it away unless 5 or more participate! So tell you friends and get them here! P.S. If you need some advice to spend a Amazon Card, let me know. . . . . :)
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
|Photo credit: Copyright Emilie Hendryx of E. A. Creative Photography, 2014.|
Brandy Heineman writes dual timeline novels from a Christian world view. Her passion for genealogy occasional inspires hare-brained schemes like a five-county research trip in a rented Mustang, but she usually sticks to sharing vignettes and research tidbits on her blog. Her debut novel, Whispers in the Branches, was a 2014 ACFW Genesis finalist and released the following year from Elk Lake Publishing. She currently serves as the Vice President of the ACFW North Georgia chapter, and she is represented by Jim Hart of Hartline Literary Agency.
Brandy and her husband, Michael, reside in the metro Atlanta area with their two demanding yet hilarious kitties. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or at brandyheineman.com.
So, would you order coffee, tea, or hot chocolate in our virtual coffee shop? Something else altogether? This is possibly the most important question…
Mmm! One tall cinnamon dolce latte, please!
So, so good! I approve. : ) Now, our second most important question of the day, if you could order anything in the world, what would it be?
Well, I’m using an app called Duolingo to learn Norwegian for book research, and it’s giving me a culture-crush on Norway. So I think I’d have to add a couple slices of brunost (brown cheese) to my order. Not sure how well it’ll go with my latte, but apparently it’s the most beloved of snack foods over there! I’m told it’s a caramel-y, sweet/savory, non-cheese-tasting food, and eventually I’m going to have to try it.
And, a related fun fact: Ikke alle brunoster er brune! ;)
Gesundheit. ; ) I love cheese! Although, the brown color might give me pause… And I’m over it.
Where is your favorite place to write? And why is that your favorite place to write?
Oh, this is a tough one because I’m always changing my mind. The couch! My desk! Moe’s! The library! I do need quiet to get much accomplished, though (or in the case of Moe’s, a dull roar that I can tune out completely). Most of the time, I end up at the dining room table because I like to have lots of space, and because that’s one spot where my kitty doesn’t try to sit on my wrists while I type.
Oh, man! I feel your pain! Maybe we should start a support group for writers with pets. Which brings me to my next question, do you have an odd habit that is only explained by your bookish, writer tendencies?
I don’t know how odd this is, but I hate reading back cover blurbs. I can’t always get around them, of course, but with books I already know I’m going to read, either those by favorite authors or those in series I follow, I avoid the blurbs like the spoiler-laced scourges that they are.
Also, I got tired of alphabetical shelves and organized my books by color a while back. So that’s fun.
Not too weird. ; ) I dislike it when blurbs are nothing but spoilers. *growls through clenched teeth* And I love your color coordinated shelves. They are so pretty! So, what inspired you to write Whispers in the Branches?
Whispers in the Branches is my genealogy-inspired love letter to my family, and the original seed of the idea came from a letter written by my great-grandmother. She lamented, once upon a time, that if anyone knew about not getting what they wanted, it was her.
That line affected me deeply. I knew something of her story—she had given up my grandfather for an in-family adoption in the Twenties, but never had any more children after her eventual marriage. I wanted to write, not specifically about her situation, but about that condition of desperately wanting something that you can never have, but somehow still getting what you need.
A love letter to your family… <3 Can you tell us what led to you writing in this genre?
I’m not sure, because I was well and truly committed to the dual-timeline format long before I realized it had an actual name! Timeslip sometimes involves a fantasy component of literal time travel, and sometimes transports the reader to the past through diaries, memories, and other narrative techniques. I have a soft spot for these kinds of stories, maybe because nostalgia is so intoxicating. (Laughs.) I love genealogy, antiques, and stories of times gone by. Sometimes the past feels so close. And it’s far too easy to get stuck there.
It can be fun to engage with the past… but as much as I enjoy it, I have to consider whether it’s a distraction to more forward-facing experiences of connection. I’m pretty sure Jeremiah 17:8 (”For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green”) is not about ancestral roots but spiritual ones. I want to write stories that peer into the past, find what’s painful and broken there, and hand it over to the Lord to do what only He can with it.
Oh, Brandy, that is beautiful! I’m a huge fan of Timeslip Fiction for all of those reasons! What message do you hope to convey to your readers with your stories?
That with God, you can overcome the past and find real connection!
Well said! Can you tell us a little about your next project?
Absolutely! I’m finishing up my next full-length novel, a romantic mystery called Like Honey for the Bones. For those who don’t share my aversion to blurbs, here’s what it’s about!
I love Jesus’ words in Matthew 13:51-52. In the preceding passages, Jesus tells several parables. Afterwards, when speaking with His disciples, He asks—
"Have you understood all these things?" They said to Him, "Yes." And Jesus said to them, "Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old."
A scribe wasn’t so much as writer as a lowly clerk. However, a head of household is a position of authority. I love these verses because it seems to me that Jesus was telling them that once you understand the stories of the Word, you can bring treasure out of them.
I love what God has shown you! Inspiring to every writer, no matter where they are at in their journey. *wipes away tears* Ahem, so, what are you currently reading?
I put some thought into my current picks, mainly because I just read a classic that I didn’t like at all, and now I need literary first aid! I decided on Almost Like Being in Love by Beth Vogt and Out of Oz by Gregory Maguire. I’m not too deep into either one yet, but I’m looking forward to changing that on the weekend!
Those sound like great reads! I can’t believe they are not on my TBR pile already. *hangs head* I will remedy that! ; )
Brandy has generously offered to give away one eBook copy of her novel, Whispers in the Branches!
Indulging in the attentions of the house's handsome caretaker helps numb her pain, but Abby's ex-boyfriend won't let go of the past. He hounds her about his new found religion in hopes of reconciling, but why reach for him or the God who couldn't or wouldn't spare her mom? In the stillness of the old house, the spirit world feels so close she can almost touch it.
But she doesn't know yet that there's more than one way to be haunted.
This giveaway is open worldwide! It will close on February 22, at 12 A.M. because Rafflecopter says. ; ) Enter using the handy Rafflecopter here ~
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Thanks for stopping by my writerly, bookish friends! <3 See you next time!
V. Joy Palmer
Wednesday, February 8, 2017
Jackie: Wow, that’s a loaded question, isn’t it?
I’m just… me.
I have two children that are nearly grown. A dopey dog named Banjo that’s a beagle mix of some sort. My husband and I will be celebrating our 29th wedding anniversary this year.
I’ve worked as a hairstylist, a daycare teacher, then later I worked with special needs kids in an elementary school. I attended college after my son was born and ended up with a degree in Rehabilitation counseling. And through all that, writing has woven itself around all my jobs and brought me to here: being a full-time author.
Other things I enjoy doing when I’m not writing: crocheting, reading, jewelry making, painting and drawing – though now I’m learning how to paint picture on my computer using Photoshop. From that, I’ve started doing covers for friends, and myself.
Gracious. You are quite the creative soul. Why do you write?
Because when I was in the 6th grade, I wrote my first real story. My teacher asked if she could read it to the class during our quiet time. It took her a week to get though my mystery story.
What amazed me was everyone listened while she read and they were always eager to hear more the next day. They really seemed to enjoy my story. When my teacher finished reading it, she told the class that she expected to see one of my book in a bookstore in the next 20 or 30 years.
From that moment on, I knew what I was meant to do. And even though I’ve tried doing other things – things that earned better money, I always found myself back at the computer, typing out a story that was plaguing me. The years that I didn’t write, I felt as if something was missing.
When I write, I feel complete. I’m at my happiest. And even if I never make a lot of money on my books, I have no doubt that I’m using the gifts I’ve been given to the best of my abilities.
Any letters I get from readers, or any nice reviews are all whipped cream on my chocolate fudge sundae. I love story. I love reading them and I love even more creating them.
So that’s why.
What a cool story. Kudos to that forward-thinking teacher. You write in several genres. What led you to do that?
I’m not sure. I love fantasy the most, but people seem to enjoy romances. I liked the ones I read and started praying about which direction to go in after I finished my fantasy series.
An idea came about a Southern girl named Haley Isabelle Madison, who inherits her family farm in Michigan. It’s a kind of a humorous fish out of water type of story.
I suppose the idea came from the fact that my husband is a Michigan Yankee and I’m from Southern California. And my family were all from Texas, which is how I ended up here when they decided to move back home. He moved down to Texas for work. I’m not a fan of Michigan winters, but I love the summers. And I love the small town his family lives in.
After I wrote the first book, Snow Belle, I still wasn’t sure if I should fork off from writing fantasy. I have a readership in that genre. Again I prayed about it and ended up with several book ideas for the Madison Creek series. I sure don’t want to waste good ideas when they come so easily. I made some notes and now I’m working my way through the book ideas.
However, I also have a new fantasy series idea in mind, too. Ah, so many stories buzzing around my head, so little time.
So, there you go. That’s how I ended up writing in different genres.
I understand the mind buzzing thing. But not everyone can put them into writing as you do.That takes talent. How do you develop your storyline?
Well, if I’m writing one of my fantasy stories, I’ll go with the Hero’s Journey plotline, if I feel it fits. And that plotline actually fits a lot of stories, fantasy or otherwise.
I also use a Three Act plotline that I got from a Scrivener template created by K.M. Weiland from her Structuring Your Novel books.
I do like having a guideline to go by. I don’t always write a story in chronological order. I get scenes here and there and like to have a place where I can jot down ideas as they come to me. Which is why I love working in Scrivener so much.
However, my outlines are not written in stone and I often end up deviating from them as the story comes alive for me and my characters begin acting of their own accord. So, in a way, I’m a Plotter who is also a closet Pantser. Which basically means, I set down my guidelines of how I want it to go, then hang on for the crazy ride my stories usually take me on.
Ah, I can relate! I'm a panster who also plots now and then. It obviously works for you because your books are intriguing and keep the reader's interest. Tell us about your series?
The following books in the series follow Alyra and her friends as they go out and try to help King Shaydon band the kingdom together to make a final stand against the evil ruler Darnel. There’s dragons, trolls, centaurs, warriors and other neat characters. Some you’ve heard of before, and some you haven’t.
Both sound interesting. How to choose? I know our readers are pondering that question, so give us a short blurb...
From The White Road Chronicles:
Welcome to the kingdom of Alburnium
If the Wizard of Oz swept you away and Narnia enchanted you, then follow the White Road Chronicles for a new kind of adventure.
Illuminated: Book One- begins with a girl in search of the truth.
Alyra, mockingly known as Princess, was captured at an early age by the evil ruler, Darnel, and brought up in the dark land of Racah. Now, at the age of seventeen, she considers herself nothing special. She has no recollection of who she is or where she came from. Her hope of ever finding freedom dims.
Until the messenger arrives. Until he brings to light the meaning behind the medallion she's kept hidden. Until she accepts the blinding truth.
Now she flees for her life.
Alyra's journey leads her down a narrow road with strange traveling companions. Together, they encounter a kingdom where nothing is what it first seems.
From the Madison Creek Bed & Breakfast series:
Welcome to Madison Creek Where Northern Hospitality Meets Southern Comfort
A Contemporary Inspirational Romance
Haley Madison packed her big dreams and drove to the Arctic. Well, all right, so it’s Madison Creek, Michigan. But for a Texas gal, this frozen land ought to come with a sled and huskies. If it wasn’t for her family’s rundown property, she’d have stayed where the sun shone bright and warm. However, she has grand ideas for her inheritance even if the town has thrown up their objections to her plans.
Ethan Winters hated going home and admitting failure. Sure, he has a special talent with the violin, but he has bigger ambitions than playing at the local bowling alley. And then there was the idea of facing his father. No, he wasn’t ready to go home just yet. He veered off the interstate and drove to a little town named Madison Creek. Maybe his luck would change.
When the southern Snow-Belle literally blows him off the road with her rogue snowblower... more than just his luck will change.
I know I'm intrigued. Thanks for letting me interview you and telling our readers all about your books.
You can visit Jackie Castle's website at http://www.jackiecastle.com/ and follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JackieCastleAuthor/
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
Good morning, all.
Today, I’m interviewing Cecily Wolfe, author of Throne of Grace, which is part one of a three-part series entitled Cliff Walk Courtships. Please join me in getting to know this exciting author.
Connect with Cecily online:
Book-specific playlists on Spotify as ceciwolfe
Hello, Cecily. It’s my pleasure to interview you today.
Hello, Angela. Nice to meet you.
It is my first full-length published novel. My novella, A Harvest of Stars, was released in June of 2016, and I have other unpublished manuscripts laying around somewhere.
What is the title of your latest book?
I have a difficult time coming up with titles. How did you choose the title?
God’s throne of grace is mentioned in Hebrews, as a source of mercy and compassion during times of difficulty and atonement. It seemed fitting for Josie and Arthur’s story, as they struggle with their own flaws and work towards directing their lives towards helping others, looking to God for guidance and forgiveness.
Did you design the cover?
Yes, I did. It is a stock photo I found searching for wedding pictures, and I played around with PicMonkey to end up with the final design.
What is the genre of your book?
Christian historical romance.
How would you describe the book to someone in a text message?
Sweet and hopeful.
Who is your main character and what problem does he/she face?
Arthur and Josie are the main characters. Josie faces the judgment of her neighbors and of the upper class, whom she relies on for employment, when she befriends Arthur, who belongs to that upper class. He, in turn, has to decide if and how he can find his own path rather than rely on his parents’ money, especially when they do not approve of his friendship with Josie, their housemaid, and his interest in opening a homeless shelter rather than follow his father into a financial career. Arthur struggles with his faith but sees the strength Josie holds in hers, and while his attraction to her is romantic, he sees her as a companion to walk with as he learns to reach out to and follow Christ.
What might draw someone to your character?
Arthur is very realistically flawed, and is afraid of how he can live a life without his parents’ money. Many of us are tempted to take the easy path in life, and even if we know it isn’t the one God would want for us, this temptation can still be a difficult one to fight. He is also very sweet and polite, and treats Josie like a princess. Josie, in turn, is very focused on helping others and has an unfailing faith that holds her steady, even when she doubts herself. She sometimes has a ‘bit of sass’ (as one Goodreads reviewer noted) and pushes past her fears to stand up for what she knows is right. The two of them together are sweet, strong, and successful.
What prompted you to write this book?
I write a lot of darker fiction (short stories, novellas) and during a long, hot summer a few years ago when I was having a variety of difficulties, I began to imagine a sweet romance based in faith, something I wish that my own marriage, which had ended in a very nasty divorce, might have been. Arthur came to me first, and then Josie, and my affection for one of favorite vacation spots, Newport, Rhode Island, stepped up to offer the perfect setting and time period.
What did you bring to the book from your own life?
Some of my own issues wrestling with guilt, forgiveness, and dealing with negative people in a firm but respectful way. These are common problems, and I hope that readers who finish Throne of Grace will feel better about their own faith journey and the promise of grace offered regardless of any mistakes we make on the way.
What makes your book stand out from other books like it?
What is one thing you learned from writing this book?
I learned a lot about the details of Newport in 1893, some of which I knew beforehand, but more importantly, I was absorbed in the emotional aspect of Arthur and Josie’s difficulties, and realized that my relationship with Christ was emotional as well. Approaching him with tears, with joy – our emotional range was created by God, as we are in his image, and all of those feelings are ways of showing the intensity of our relationship with him. I had never really considered that before, but the details of the inner struggles of both of these characters made me think on it in great detail
Let’s learn about you. When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a dancer and a lawyer.
Do you still want to be that?
I danced for many years until I decided to have a family, and feel very blessed to have had the opportunity to hone the skills necessary to be so dedicated to one physical activity. I find that devotion applies when I have to juggle responsibilities and priorities, and time management problems. I did get advanced degrees in college, but decided that law school, while intriguing in theory, was not going to lead me to a career I wanted to pursue.
When did you know you wanted to be an author?
When I was eight, I was fascinated by Helen Keller. I read everything in our little school library, then in our public library, about her. I then turned to my own imagination, and began to write stories in which Helen had adventures with her teacher, Annie. What did they do? How did Helen experience the world? These stories did not survive, but it was then that I started writing, and I have never stopped.
Did anything unusual or funny happen on your journey to becoming an author?
I may have mistyped something in a query a few years ago and had an agent who was very interested in the book I was submitting. I didn’t realize that the typo existed until the agent returned the manuscript, disappointed that it was a Southern gothic family drama, and not erotica. What was the typo? I’m not exactly sure, but I don’t write erotica and I can’t even imagine whatever it was that he might have interpreted as the promise of erotica. This remains a mystery to me, but an amusing one.
What books have influenced you most?
I have been reading Jane Austen since I was in middle school, and I appreciate her use of humor and sarcasm while dealing with very real social issues of the day. I would have to say that Emma is my favorite, and Emma’s realization that her words and behavior have power over others, both because of her social position and by the fact that other people have feelings and she can choose to be kind or insulting, stuck with me, even at that age. It is a very basic but important lesson that is easy to forget when we are busy dealing with day to day life, but I often think of Emma and the guilt she feels when she unknowingly hurts her old friend, who has been nothing but kind to her, and think twice when I consider how to speak with and treat others.
What’s the most times you’ve read a book and why? Title?
That might be Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood. I am a huge fan of Southern gothic fiction, and I think O’Connor has a whole mess of trouble going on in any of her stories. The Christian element is prominent, and faith is a very real part of her work. I have probably returned to Wise Blood at least thirty times since I first read it as an undergraduate.
What are three unusual things about you your readers might not know?
I love NASCAR! My favorite driver just retired, but I’ve been watching my whole life, so I won’t stop now. I love to listen to it on the radio, too – the excitement is continuous and contagious.
I love to bake. Sometimes I have trouble sleeping, so I bake. I have a close friend who has this problem as well, but both of our families benefit from our 3 am cupcake bake-offs.
I love to swim. I will swim regardless of the weather, and I have been almost kicked out of the neighborhood pool for staying in the water during a thunderstorm. I would live in the water if I could get away with it!
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
I went to New York City with a friend with only a few dollars in my pocket, after the price of the hotel and plane tickets. We did everything for free, and scored free food for participating in some surveys on the street, and just kept walking. We explored everywhere we could reach, and there was so much to see and do without charge. It might not have been the smartest thing to do, but I don’t regret it all these years later. It was truly a great adventure, and NYC is still my favorite city.
Do you have life philosophy? Favorite verse?
Return to God. Always. No matter what I do, I try to keep in mind that I have to return to God, and if what I am doing is not the path in that direction, I need to reconsider. I love the Gospel of John, and hold tight to John 3:16, which sums up God’s love for his people.
What advice would you give someone who wants to be a writer?
Just do it. And read. Read everything. Pay attention to life as you live it. Trust your heart and listen to your imagination. If there’s something stuck inside your head, write it out.
More about Throne of Grace
Newport, Rhode Island in the last decades of the nineteenth century was a stunningly beautiful and glamorous playground for the rich during the summer months, and a perfect setting for a romance between a rich young man from New York City and a local girl who works for his family. The two couldn't possibly expect to have anything in common, as he is expected to follow his father in a financial career and she is merely a maid with a mother who takes care of local children while their parents work. Arthur Davenport, spoiled and bored, unsure of his place in his family and in the eyes of God, truly meets his match in Josie Warren, who is often just a bit hard on herself for not being the perfect Christian in thought as well as deed. The two meet on the famous Cliff Walk, and neither of them can imagine where or how their instant attraction will take them as he struggles to make his parents understand that his calling is the same as hers, to help those less fortunate. He has no money of his own, and if they disinherit him out of disapproval, how can he help Josie, who has spent her life working hard to help support herself and her mother? More importantly, how can he convince her that he would gladly give up his life of luxury just to be with her?