Friday, January 20, 2017

Interview & #Giveaway with Author Jocelyn Green

I (Jaime) am super pumped to have fellow Bethany House Publishing author, Jocelyn Green with us today. Her latest novel, Mark of the King has released this month to rave reviews and is top on my TBR list!

Enjoy getting to know Jocelyn and don't miss out the link to a wonderful giveaway Joceyln is hosting...


What drew you to tell the story of The Mark of the King?

First of all, the history was both fascinating and new to me. There are many excellent books set in the British colonies, but the French colony of Louisiana seems to be much lesser known. The years of forced immigration, whereby Paris cleaned out its prisons to populate a floundering wilderness, was just too rife with story potential to ignore. It’s a story of incredible hardship and courage, fear and hope, judgment and redemption. It also offered an opportunity to unlock a slice of American history most of us know little about, which appeals to me a great deal.

What is the “mark of the king”?
The mark of the king, as referenced in the title, has two meanings. The first is very literal. It’s the fleur-de-lys symbol of the French monarchy that was branded on certain criminals during the time the novel takes place, to permanently mark them with judgment. In the novel, this mark plays a big role. But there is a spiritual layer to the phrase, as well. As believers, we serve a higher King than any authority here on earth. Our lives are marked by His grace, no matter how scarred we may have been by judgment from others—whether that judgment was deserved or not. God’s grace covers all of it. Grace covers all of us.

Did anything surprise you during your research?

Oh, plenty. The biggie, and one that readers will see depicted in the novel, was a mass wedding ceremony in Paris, in September 1719, between 184 female convicts and the same number of male convicts who had only just met. I was also shocked to discover that of the seven thousand Europeans who entered the Lower Mississippi Valley between 1717 and 1721, at least half of them either perished or abandoned the colony before 1726. Other surprising things I learned:

  • · Early eighteenth-century French midwifes regularly gave birthing mothers plenty of wine to relax them during labor, and performed bloodletting to supposedly ease the delivery.

  • · In Louisiana, European settlers learned from the natives to use bear grease as mosquito repellant. 

  • · Since I have a pug in the story, I researched the breed to make sure they were around in the early 1700s. Along the way, I learned some fun and fascinating things that didn’t fit into the novel at all, but surprised and delighted me, as a former pug owner myself. For example, before her marriage to Napoleon Bonaparte, Jos├ęphine had her pug Fortune carry concealed messages to her family while she was confined at Les Carmes prison, it having alone been given visiting rights. In nineteenth century England, Queen Victoria bred pugs named Olga, Pedro, Minka, Fatima and Venus, and she helped establish the National Kennel Club. Here’s my favorite though: in seventeenth-century Italy, pugs rode up front on private carriages, dressed in jackets and pantaloons that matched those of the coachman. Ha! 
Which character do you most closely identify with in The Mark of the King, and why?

The world Julianne Chevalier inhabits—Paris, then New Orleans in the 1720s—is vastly different from the world I live in. But of all the characters in the novel, I relate to her the most. I share her strong desire to find purpose and use one’s skills and gifts wherever life leads. I also identify with her devotion to her brother and the pain of separation from him, since I greatly missed my own brother when he was a missionary—in France, in fact, where he met his beautiful wife, who grew up outside of Paris! On an even more personal level, my former tendency to withdraw from community when experiencing pain is represented in Julianne’s character, as well. I once learned the hard way that isolation breeds depression. So even though Julianne and I share very few circumstances in common, these deeper parallels are quite timeless.

Help us get to know YOU a little bit better ... When writing, what is your go to drink and snack to keep you energized and focused?
Favorite writing snacks include Greek yogurt with granola mixed in, or a small bowl of chocolate chips, almonds and craisins. I’ll have one or two cups of coffee in the morning, but in the afternoon I’ll opt for Oolong Tea. In desperate times, I will not turn away chocolate-covered coffee beans.

Have you visited all the places you've written about? Which was your favorite?

So far, yes I have visited them all. It’s hard to compare and pick favorites, but Gettysburg is right at the top of the list. One of the reasons for this is that it’s so easy to imagine the history that took place there, whereas Atlanta and New Orleans, for instance, have changed so drastically over the years they look nothing like they did during the time frames of my stories. I adored visiting France, too, of course, but it’s been a while. Let me take another trip over to refresh my memory and I’ll give you an update. ;)

Where do you like to write?

I usually write best in my office, surrounded by my research books, because I'm constantly fact-checking as I write. It's a laborious process. But sometimes if I get stuck, I find a change of scenery to be helpful. A local coffee shop or the university library where my husband works are great places to get the creative juices flowing again.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Family Heirlooms

Erica here:

Until I married my husband, I didn't have much of a sense of my own roots and family history. My parents both come from broken...dare I say...dysfunctional families. I knew some of my grandparents, but not well, and they didn't talk about where they came from or who their ancestors were.

And as a kid, I didn't pay much attention to that sort of stuff anyway. As I've gotten older, though, I am more curious about my forebears.

My husband's family, however, has documented it's roots back to well before the Revolutionary War. His father's family has traced it's lineage back to the 1720s in Switzerland, and his mother's family to before the Civil War in Germany.

I've delved a bit into my own history since becoming an adult, following my mother's family to it's Scots origins...Masons from Clan Sinclair and Wallaces from Strathclyde, and Pawnee from Oklahoma. According to one great aunt, we're also related to John Paul Jones of "I have not yet begun to fight" fame in there somewhere.  On my father's side, we're British of Norman decent.

Castle Sinclair Girnigoe, family seat of Clan Sinclair

I have some pictures, some documents, some letters, from my own family, and many more from my husbands. One of my treasures is a set of letters from Jakob Vetsch to his family while he was serving in the Union Army during the Civil War. They are written in German and translated into English for us.

I also have an empire style mirrored buffet in quarter-sawn red oak that once belonged to my husband's great grandmother. He remembers it sitting in his great-aunt's kitchen for decades, and when she passed, it came to us. I use it every day.

This is similar to the one I have.
Do you have a family heirloom that you treasure? That gives you a sense of time and place? Do you know its story? Do you imagine all the hands that have handled it, that have used it in everyday life?

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

January #Fiction Releasees

I'm excited to bring you our first month of 2017's new releases in Inspirational Fiction!! There's so many great novels coming out this year, it's not even funny. As usual, I'll post a book cover by the ones I'm personally adding to my 2017 TBR pile. Please leave a comment with your pics and I'll draw a winner for some coffee or tea to go with your read :) :)


January 2017 New Releases 

 More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Contemporary Romance:

Romance Grows in Arcadia Valley
by Valerie Comer, Mary Jane Hathaway, Elizabeth Maddrey, Danica Favorite, Lee Tobin McClain and Annalisa Daughety

-- Is love possible for a makeshift mom and a handsome widower? What about a bed and breakfast owner and the farmer next door? A curvy jilted bride and a mysterious, handsome chef? Then there's the real estate consultant and the grandson of her elderly client; a high-powered lawyer and a woman farmer, and a formerly engaged couple. Can love make a difference in their lives? Exploring food, friends, and family in Arcadia Valley, each of these novellas kicks off a three-book series, intertwined with the works of the other authors. This collection is only the beginning of your adventure! (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

 Restoring Love by Jennifer Slattery

-- Mitch, a contractor and house-flipper, is restoring a beautiful old house in an idyllic Midwestern neighborhood. Angela, a woman filled with regrets and recently transplanted to his area, is anything but idyllic. As Mitch struggles to keep his business afloat, and Angela works to correct the mistakes of her past, these two unlikely friends discover they have something unexpected in common--a young mom fighting to give her children a better life after her husband's incarceration. While both Mitch and Angela are drawn to help this young mother survive, they also find themselves drawn to each other. Will a lifetime of regrets hold them back from redemption and true love? (Contemporary Romance from New Hope Publishers)

Historical Mystery:

Murder on the Moor by Julianna Deering

-- Drew and Madeline Farthering visit the Yorkshire moor to catch a killer and solve a mystery that involves an old feud, a new rivalry and a huge, spectral hound that may or may not be a harbinger of death. (Historical Mystery from Bethany House [Baker])

Historical Romance:

A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander

-- A master violinist trained in Vienna, Rebekah Carrington manages to get an audition at the newly-formed Nashville Philharmonic. But the conductor--determined to leave his mark on the world of classical music--bows to public opinion. Women are "far too fragile and frail" for the rigors of an orchestra, he says, and Rebekah's hopes are swiftly dashed. Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb is Nashville's new orchestra leader. And despite a reluctant muse--and a strange buzzing and recurring pain in his head--he must finish composing his symphony before the new opera hall opens. But far more pressing, he must finish it for his dying father, who inspired his love of music. Then Tate's ailment worsens. Rebekah can help him finish his symphony. But how do you win back a woman's trust when you've robbed her of her dream? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

The American Heiress Brides Collection
by Lisa Carter, Mary Eileen Davis, Susanne Dietze, Anita Mae Draper, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Lisa Karon Richardson, Lynette Sowell and Kimberley Woodhouse

-- Meet nine young women in America between 1880 and 1911 who have been blessed by fortunes made in gold, silver, industry, ranching, and banking. But when it comes to love, each woman struggles to find true love within a society where "first comes money, second comes marriage." What kind of man can they trust with their greatest treasure—their hearts? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Two Suitors for Anna by Molly Jebber

-- In 1903 Ohio, a young Amish woman must choose between the life she has long planned for with her beloved Noah Schwartz, and a new, very different future… But Noah has a surprise for Anna: once they're married, he wants them to travel and live in other communities. Anna, who loves her home and her job at the quilt shop, is distraught when he takes her hesitation as rejection—and leaves. Daniel Bontrager's arrival adds to Anna's confusion. Since taking over his late brother's farm, the handsome roofer has offered friendship and gentle attentions. Yet the pull of first love is strong and deep, especially when Noah returns. Through each revelation, Anna must search her faith for guidance, knowing she is choosing not just a husband, but a life to nurture and to share… (Historical Romance from Kensington)

My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, Texas by Erica Vetsch -- Journey to Fort Bliss, Texas, where a battle of emotions versus ideals is about to be waged. When a high-steppin' eastern fashion artist, Priscilla Hutchens, swoops down on the fort to gain custody of her twin niece and nephew she is met with resistance by their uncle, post surgeon Major Elliot Ryder, who thinks he knows what is best for them. Who will win the battle? Or will a truce be called for the sake of love and family? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

  Dead Run by Jodie Bailey

-- Kristin James's morning run turns deadly when she's attacked by a stranger who's after something her deceased soldier brother stole overseas. Her neighbor Sergeant First Class Lucas Murphy steps in to help her and won't let her brush the attack under the rug. He'll do everything he can to keep Kristin alive, but he can't tell her that he's under orders to investigate her link to her brother's misdeeds. Kristin has no idea what the bad guy is after and doesn't want to believe that her brother wasn't on the straight and narrow. But as evidence against him piles up, can they catch the criminals without becoming the next casualties? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Justice Delayed by Patricia Bradley -- It's been eighteen years since TV crime reporter Andi Hollister's sister was murdered. The confessed killer is behind bars, and the execution date is looming. But when a letter surfaces stating that the condemned killer didn't actually do it, Detective Will Kincaide of the Memphis Cold Case Unit will stop at nothing to help Andi get to the bottom of it. After all, the person who confessed to the crime is Will's cousin. They have less than a week to find the real killer before the wrong person is executed. But much can be accomplished in one week--including uncovering police corruption, running for your life, and falling in love. (Romantic Suspense from Revell [Baker])

Undercover Protector by Elizabeth Goddard -- Undercover at a tiger sanctuary, Special Agent Grayson Wilde is convinced the owner's involved in a wildlife trafficking ring--until someone tries to kill her. Gemma's determined to rebuild the tiger oasis she lost when her family died, but someone wants her out of the way, and she's starting to wonder if her parents' and uncle's deaths were really accidental. Grayson says he'll do anything to protect Gemma, but she can't shake the feeling that her alluring new volunteer might not be all that he seems. With a vicious criminal closing in, though, she has to trust Grayson…because she won't survive without him. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Buried Memories by Carol J. Post -- A soldier hero suffering from PTSD and a young woman struggling to overcome a traumatic childhood fight for their lives and find healing together. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Still Life by Dani Pettrey

-- Blacklisted in the photography business over a controversial shot, Avery Tate answered an ad for a crime scene photographer. She expected to be laughed at, but crime scene analyst Parker Mitchell hired her outright--and changed her life. But six months ago, when her feelings for Parker became too strong, she left his employ to sort out her heart. Now, for the first time, Avery is facing the world that rejected her to attend the gallery opening of a photography exhibit and support her best friend, who modeled for the show. But the only image of her friend is a chilling photo of her posing as if dead--and the photographer insists he didn't take the shot. Worse, her friend can't be found. She immediately calls Parker for help. As Avery, Parker, and his friends in law enforcement dig into the mystery, they find themselves face-to-face with a relentless and deadly threat. (Romantic Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Supernatural Thriller:

Fatal Accusation by Rachel Dylan

-- Attorney Olivia Murray hopes her life in Windy Ridge will get back to normal after a hard-fought trial. But she soon finds out that the forces of evil have not given up. An embezzling scandal rocks the community church to its core. The New Age groups are ready to declare victory when a high-profile prosecutor files criminal charges against the local pastor. However, Olivia is not willing to give up on the community she's come to love. She takes on the defense pro bono knowing it could destroy her career, but it's a case she is called to defend. The battle will be fierce, but she's not fighting it alone. Her friend and fellow attorney Grant Baxter is by her side. Olivia must use all the tools in her arsenal to combat those who seek to destroy the believers in the community. If Olivia can't prove the pastor's innocence, more than her career is on the line. The entire community of Windy Ridge could fall to the forces of darkness. (Supernatural Thriller, Independently Published)


As I mentioned, leave the title(s) of your top picks for this month's read and I'll enter you to win coffee or tea (your choice)!

Jaime Jo Wright
Professional coffee drinker & ECPA/Publisher's Weekly best-selling author, Jaime Jo Wright resides in the hills of Wisconsin writing spirited turn-of-the-century romance stained with suspense. Coffee fuels her snarky personality. She lives in Neverland with her Cap’n Hook who stole her heart and will not give it back, their little fairy TinkerBell, and a very mischievous Peter Pan. The foursome embark on scores of adventure that only make her fall more wildly in love with romance and intrigue.
Jaime lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures

Monday, January 16, 2017

What's on Your Book Shelfie?

Shelfie (n.): a selfie of your book shelf; an app that catalogs your book shelf.

Anne here. The term shelfie was introduced to me this week by Beth Erin (thanks Beth!), but when I Googled it I found it's a commonly used term. Apparently it's also an app I'm going to have to check out!

So here's my shelfie for this winter's to-be-read pile:

I'm working through Mark Patterson's if while I'm walking on the treadmill in the morning. 
Laura Frantz's A Moonbow Night just came in the mail last week, and I made a trip to the local bookstore for Klaassen's The Innkeeper of Ivy Hill and Phillips's The Inheritance. 

I've read every single release from Frantz. This is my second read of Batterson's. I tend to read start to finish without many breaks when I read a Frantz novel. Whereas I like a slow digest over several weeks when I'm reading a nonfiction like Batterson. While I've never read Klassen novels, Phillips was second behind Jeanette Oke in forming my love of historical fiction in the 1980's when he edited George MacDonald's work for republishing. 

What about you? Do your shelves have strictly one genre, or a diverse variety? Do your shelves stretch to include new authors on a regular basis? And be honest: what percentage of your shelves hold books you've intended to read but haven't managed to crack the cover? Do you catalog them or organize them?

While searching "shelfie" I came across an app by the name:

It's designed for you to snap a selfie of your bookshelf and upload it to catalog your shelves. But apparently you can also use the app to order free e-copies of the books you've purchased, and interact with authors. What good are book purchases if they sit on your shelf unread because it's not accessible during times you might read them if they were on your phone or tablet? Have any of you tried this app, or a similar one? Do you use other apps for book-sharing or author connection?

What's on your shelfie?
Tell us if you'd use Shelfie for Christian authors!
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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Friday, January 13, 2017

Conspiracy of Silence - By, @RonieKendig - AMAZING new suspense fiction from @Bethany_House Publishers! #Giveaway included!

Jaime here! I have a special affinity for this novel. Mainly, because I love it's author, to death, but also because the hero is loosely based off of my son. What can I say, Ronie has good taste in boys? :) In fact, when she was writing it, I'd send her picture messages of my 4 yr. old flexing his muscles, dressed in camo, playing air guitar, or trying to look man-tough. Basically, my son was "Tox" (the book's hero) as a child.

If you haven't read Ronie Kendig's novels, now is a fantastic time to start! Conspiracy of Silence has just the right balance of romance, suspense, military, and history! Cole "Tox" Russell is sort of a military version of Indiana Jones meets American Sniper.

AND! If you're like, "not interested in military fiction", stop that! There's some delectable romance included and what's better than a hero wielding a weapon, a haunted soul, and tough-guy persona that seriously needs a woman's touch??

I love, love, love this book! It's on my list of BEST READS OF 2016. So to celebrate it, I'm giving away a copy!!! :) Enter to win and don't miss out on the grown up version of my Peter Pan. :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Assembling the Cast of Characters

Gabrielle Here:

I have just begun writing my twelfth novel. It's almost hard to believe! This story will be published with Love Inspired Historical in December, but it's yet-to-be-titled. Once I finish it, and my editor reads it, we'll toss some ideas back and forth until we come to a title we both like.

This will be the third novel in the Little Falls Legacy series, so some of the characters are carried over from the first two books, while some are new. The hero in this story is Reverend Ben Lahaye who was introduced in book #1, A Family Arrangement, and who plays a role in book #2, Inherited: Unexpected Family (releases in August). In both stories, Ben is instrumental in getting the reluctant hero and heroine together, so in book #3, it's his turn to get his happily-ever-after.

I always start with an actor or actress in mind when I create characters. I try to find one that fits my idea for looks and personality, based on movies I've seen them in.

Since I only do this for heroes and heroines, I didn't have an actor for Ben until it was time to write his story. Since Ben is the son of a French fur trader and an Ojibwe mother, he needed to have some Native American features. I scoured the web until I found just the right man. His name is Jerry Wolf. He's an actor I'd never heard of, but he looks a lot like I imagine Ben to look.

The heroine in book #3 is named Emmy Wilkes. I'm just getting to know her, but she's a deeply wounded woman who has set out on her own to see the west. She's strong, brave, and very feminine. I picture Jennifer Morrison who plays Emma from Once Upon a Time (the name was just a coincidence).

There are twin boys in this story who are orphaned and taken in by Ben. They will be based on my own twin boys, which should be fun. I'm changing their names, but everything else will remain the same about their looks and personalities. I used my four children as personality templates in A Mother in the Making, my first Love Inspired Historical, and those as some of my very favorite characters ever.

Here are my boys.

My older twin at the age of five, the same age as my character Zebulon in book #3.

My second twin who will be the template for my character Levi in book #3.

I just wrote the first scene of book #3 tonight, and I'm already in love with this story and these characters. I'll share more in the coming weeks, but wanted to give you a sneak peek at what I'm working on.

Your Turn: When you read a story, do you think of the characters' looks based on front covers? Or do you pick actors/actresses to keep in mind while you read? 

Fun side note: My author photo was taken the same day as the pictures of my twins. :)

Gabrielle Meyer
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Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Heroes and Heroines - a little differently

Erica here:

Recently I tackled a new project, one that is going to take me years to complete.

Those of you who know me, know that I like to write fiction, to sew, to crochet, and to quilt. But did you also know that I like to cross-stitch?

So, awhile back, while looking online at cross-stitch patterns (You mostly have to find them online because cross-stitch has fallen out of fashion in recent years and stores just don't carry the supplies and patterns like they used to.) I came across a site called Heaven and Earth Designs.

It was as if I had fallen down a rabbit hole! I might've been gone for days!

While there, I found the work of Aimee Stewart, and I loved her patterns! I picked one out, and this last week, I started it.

This one is called Heroes and Heroines, and I think it is stunning! But it is HUGE. And the stitches are tiny. (This photo doesn't even show the entire thing. The part I am working on right now is the stitched frame of the piece and doesn't appear in the picture.)

This is the first page of the pattern...and there are 185 pages! The pattern calls for 240 different colors of floss! I'm working it on 25 count cross-stitch fabric...that's 25 stitches per inch, and when it's done, it will be 40x29 inches.

This is how far I've gotten. :) And you can bet I work using a magnifying glass and strong light! You might also notice that I am using a fabric that has grids. This is the first time I've used something like this, and it is WONDERFUL! There are 100 stitches in each of those little squares, 10x10, and it is extremely helpful and makes counting and stitching in the right spot so much easier! I found the fabric on Etsy from a place called Tinge of Color Fabrics. I would not want to tackle this project without the gridded fabric, and the gray lines will rinse out with cold water and not show later

I have years of stitching ahead of me. I worked it out that if I put 1000 stitches a day on the project every day for two years I would still not be finished.

But you know what? I don't mind. I enjoy the stitching, and I love the subject matter, and I always know what I'll be working on.

I've had fun figuring out who the heroes and heroines are in the pattern. There are twelve couples. Can you name them? (Click on the picture above to make it larger.)

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