Wednesday, September 28, 2016

We had a blast, but the routine is calling...

Erica here:

The past two months have been crazy. It started with an ER visit that sent our world reeling when my husband was diagnosed with a cancerous tumor. Many doctor visits, surgery, insurance, paperwork, more doctor's visits. Then a trip to Nashville, a trip to Galena, IL, a trip along the North Shore of Lake Superior. Then home, planning the funeral dinner for a dear saint from our church, laundry, Vetsch Hardwoods bookkeeping and quarterly reports...

And through it all, the increasingly uneasy feeling that it had been a long time since I had written any fiction. It had been a long time since I had spent time in my own head, dreaming, imagining, creating.

So now, after two months of upheaval, it's time to get back to my routine. Today, I will head to the coffee shop and begin writing a novella that is due in eight weeks. 

While I'm writing today, I thought I'd give you a quick look at some of the photos from our recent trip.


National Eagle Center, Wabasha, MN. This is Angel, a female bald eagle.

Sunrise over Lake Superior at Duluth Harbor.

A view of the Duluth lift bridge from Enger Park. (I used Enger Park in
my novel The Engineered Engagement.

Glensheen Mansion in Duluth, MN. (I will be using Glensheen as
the manor house in a new project that I will be writing soon! More details to follow!

One of the roses in the Lief Erickson Park rose garden, Duluth, MN

Two Harbors MN lighthouse.

Betty's Pies. Best pies on the North Shore!

Gooseberry Falls, Gooseberry State Park, MN

Beautiful Lake Superior...and wicked COLD! I stuck my bare toes in! BRRR!

The lighthouse at Grand Marais.

Me, entering historic Fort William, Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.
(More on this later, too!)

The Hull-Rust-Mahoning Mine in Hibbing, MN.
"The Grand Canyon of the North" (Those dump trucks are three
stories tall!)

One scene from the Four Seasons Room at the
Mill Lacs Indian Museum and Trading Post.
Visiting this Minnesota Historical Society Site means
I've visited 20 of the 26 sites run by the MNHS.
Do you have a comfortable routine? Do you miss it if things get disrupted?

SIGN UP FOR MY NEWSLETTER
Find me on AMAZON.COM
Find me on FACEBOOK

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Living In Real Life: How to Control Social Media, Instead of Letting It Control You

Jaime here! Anne's post yesterday on the Hashtag World was so poignant. And, today, my dahling coffee conspirator, sockaholic, and super de duper cool buddy, Katelyn S. Bolds has a few words for you, our readers. She's a marketing rep extraordinaire and while immersed in the world of making YOU hear about the GREAT new books coming from Gilead Publishing, she's also maintaining that precarious world of balance ... and rescuing me from blog posting when I'm groggy from mass amounts of cold medication. So Katelyn ... it's all yours!

_____________________________________



Social media doesn’t come naturally for anyone. Even the amazing Jaime Jo, who seems completely at home on Facebook Live, or my writing pal and best buddy, Nichole Parks, who has Pinterest power down to an art form.
Part of my job at Gilead Publishing is advising authors on how to balance social media IRL (In Real Life). From what I’ve seen most authors are either on social media TOO often, or claim they never have time for it.
Being present and living in the moment is hard in a world with devices that are ever buzzing and beeping. It can be easier to shut it all out. But writers need a social media presence and online platform. We need to do social media. Have our cake and eat it too, you know?
Somehow there should be a way to live life, write about life and share life on social media without us all going crazy. But then there’s my husband glaring at me from across the dinner table when I excitedly announce I gained another Twitter follower.
Yep. Okay, hon. I’ll put down the phone.
Part of balancing life and social media is just having the right mindset. Social media is a tool that I use. I am not a slave to it.

via GIPHY


   My Klout score is not life or death.
   My likes do not reflect how much God loves me.
   My followers do not dictate my self-worth (I have to remind myself of that one far too often).
In fact, for the last few months, I have steadily gained followers on Pinterest just to lose them over and over again. I can’t tell you how frustrating this is, but I know I don’t need to, because everyone is frustrated at some aspect of social media now and then. I have attended seminars and I know what works on Pinterest, but for some reason, I just haven’t found my tribe yet. (End side rant) But the important thing, is working on my Pinterest for five minutes a day, and then setting it aside and moving on with life.
Because without real life, there is nothing to talk about on social media.
No projects to pin. No pictures to snap. No memes to tweet.
Nichole and myself dedicate time each week to write down goals for our social media: How often we will post, how much time we will put in, how many followers we hope to gain. We each have a Post-it note taped to our computer to remind us when to Post IT.
The best way to balance life with social media is to make it real life. Find a buddy to help keep you on track.

If you follow me on anything, follow my lead in scheduling my social media around my life instead of my life around social media. If you still feel overwhelmed, I would love to help. You can find me at Marketing15.

____________________________________________________



Katelyn S. Bolds balances work as Web Editor, Author Services Extraordinaire, and freelance writer. She is married to coffee; also her husband. At times this DIY life might get a little crazy, but she takes it one day at a time. A little yoga, a lot of organization, and a holistic approach make for a Bold Life. Connect with her on Goodreads, Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest.

Monday, September 26, 2016

Monday's Devo: #TheLittleThingsAreBig

Anne here.

If you haven't noticed already, there's been a #Hashtag theme going in the last week.
That's because our church is doing a sermon series about social media that has got me thinking about how life has changed.

I vividly remember having a classroom discussion in fifth grade where we all imagined that someday our phones would have T.V. screens where we could see each other when we talked. My ten year old mind thought of a '50's style black & white 13-inch screen hanging on the wall over our black 1960's rotary phone, and we all giggled that we'd have to make sure we didn't have our pajama's on when we called our friends. Little did we know several decades later it would not only be socially acceptable to wear your pajama pants in public, but that the idea of seeing into everyone's lives wasn't far from off the mark.

Entered Cell Phones. Facebook. Twitter. Instagram. Periscope. FaceBook Live. FaceTime. Skype.

For better or worse, our world has forever been catapulted into an odd connection with our world that has moved our private lives into the public eye and risked our priorities.

Sure, social media has made it easier to connect, start a prayer chain, or encourage a friend.
But it's also put a false space into relationships that gets into the way of real intimacy. 

So this week I tried to leave my computer off when I woke up unusually early Saturday morning.
What if God had something to say in the early morning fog of my brain before the world noise started?


I sat drinking my coffee, in silence. Disconnected. Reconnecting.

No screen. No phone. No Facebook messages.
And I waited.
Waited to see who the Father would plant into my thoughts.
What His Spirit would say to my heart.
What word of Scripture might jump off the page.

I read a passage in Ezekiel (34) about God's disappointment when the spiritual shepherds failed to feed His sheep, and I wondered how they could have done such a terrible thing. (gasp #outrageous) Who would do such a thing? Like, were they too complacent, or shirking their duties--instead, scribing with a quill, their heads stuck in a scroll somewhere never bothering to look up? How blind of them! Or were they just having a little fun instead of taking things more seriously?


Enter #StillSmallVoice. Feed My Sheep. If you love Me, feed my sheep. Look up, it's serious. Could I be as off track and blind as those shepherds?


There have always been things that get between us and real intimacy with God and with each other. Things that get us off track. Things we should take more seriously. Whether shepherds of old or millennial hashtags, we all tend to lose sight, all the while reasoning to ourselves it's just a little thing--but when strung together, it's big. I'm sure those shepherds didn't set out to starve the sheep (they were just having a little fun). I'm sure they had good intentions. They were probably even working on a scroll campaign to get the word out about the problem of starving sheep (working on a GoFundMe account selling Q-tips to feed the starving sheep--yep, they were).

I leaned back in my comfy chair. Took another swig of my Starbucks Sumatra Dark Brew. Reconnection. I Prayed for the sheep the Father put on my heart. While praying, I wished I had some flowers to give the person on my heart. Not just any flowers, I wanted Sunflowers to cheer up this particular lamb. But my back yard doesn't have sunflowers, never has. Nice thought.

Coffee mug finally empty. I reached for my phone and texted my son who was bringing his new wife home for breakfast--pancakes or cinnamon rolls?  He voted cinnamon rolls. Hoping it would make them feel loved and well-fed, I hopped in the car to pick up rolls from the bakery.

I pulled into the parking lot. Only three cars---and a tent---with three ladies--and a table full of flowers---SUNFLOWERS. My heart surged. I emptied my wallet to buy them, and marveled that the Father cares that much about the little things we'd talked about while drinking coffee together in silence.

Suddenly, the little things.
Were big.
And I wasn't quite sure who was being fed. The shepherd or the sheep.


Are you taking time to look up?
Listening in the silence?
Taking the time to connect, to feed the sheep in your life?
Are you shepherding your relationships?

#RecoveringIntimacy
#DisconnectAndReconnect
#LittleThingsAreBig
#Struggles
#HeCaresAboutTheLittleThings
-------------
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.
Find me at: www.anneloveauthor.com
Find me on:Facebook
Find me on: Pinterest
Find me on: Goodreads
Find me on: Twitter
Find me on: Instagram

Friday, September 23, 2016

Interview & #Giveaway with Carol Moncado

Today, we have Carol Moncado visiting our blog! Seeing as my To Be Read pile is about 12-stories high, I (Jaime Jo) haven't had the opportunity to read Carol's work. So this interview is great for me too, learning about who Carol is and her novels!

________________________

Thank you so much for visiting us today here at the CCC blog! Can you tell us about your latest release and what inspired you to write the story?

It’s not TECHNICALLY my newest release (that’s Discovering Home, out last week) but it did come out in the last month and is the book that’s the closest I’ve come to a “book of my heart.”

Grace to Save started about four years ago when my “other mother” and I did Flash Fiction Fridays. We’d pick a prompt, write for five minutes, do minimal editing, then post. This particular one was on the 9th anniversary of 9/11 It changed a lot from there, but it started with the story prompt “Tim would never forget where he was when he heard planes had crashed into the Twin Towers.” Another one we’d toyed with was “Tim was the last person from Manhattan to know about the attack on the Twin Towers.” Like a lot of authors, I played a lot of “what if.”

What if someone wasn’t at Ground Zero because of a phone call earlier that morning? What if it was someone who very likely would have survived anyway? (He worked in the basement mall.) What if Travis doesn’t talk to his parents anymore but his mom calls to make sure he’s all right, and that’s how he finds out about the attacks? What phone call would have consumed him to the extent he didn’t already know? If the attacks don’t send him running back into his parents’ open arms, what would?

For Abi… What if she had a one-night stand no one knew about? What if the one person who supported her (older brother) died on 9/11 – but not at the Towers? What could make her give up her baby – and what could make her come back 15 years later?

So it opens on 9/11 and the first chapter is in 2001, then jumps ahead to 15.5 years later. Travis and his daughter have made a life for themselves. He’s the drama teacher at the local high school and even thinks he’s finally fallen in love. Then bio-mom shows up with an impossible request – donate bone marrow to Abi’s father – the one who made his daughter give up her baby and accused Travis of the unthinkable.

So what would happen from there?

As I dug into the hero’s background, I realized he could easily have been a Rich Mullins fan – just as I was. As soon as that clicked, some of the truths I learned from my years of listening to Rich Mullins’s songs began to permeate the story.

And fun fact? The teenager on the cover is my oldest daughter. I figure since I want to write more stories about Cassie in the future, I should probably keep my cover model close by ;).

Of all your characters in this story, which one did you enjoy writing the most and why?

Oh goodness. Probably Cassie. This book is a bit of a departure for me – the hero and heroine have their points of view, but their 15-year-old daughter does, too – in first person, because snarky teenager seemed to work better in first person.

Can you tell us about a scene that you wrote and eventually deleted? It’s always fun to know of the little details that didn’t make the cut J

Actually, I’m not sure I cut anything out of this particular one. I changed some things, but no scenes cut. I did write a “prequel” scene. The hero and heroine had a little bit of a history – Travis was Abi’s older brother’s best friend. I made reference to a time when they’d gone out with her brother and a bunch of his friends and somehow ended up hanging out alone together. I wrote that – complete with almost kiss ;). This reminds me that I need to polish it up and get it out there as a bonus J.

How did you decide on the setting/location for this novel?

All of my novels are set in the same fictional universe. This one is in Serenity Landing, MO – the fictional version of my hometown. The hero and his daughter have made cameos in other stories. It was a pretty easy decision.

What made you pick these specific names of your main two characters?

The hero was named after my favorite manager at my favorite Panera – Travis insisted I name my next hero after him. I did – and then the real Travis was killed in a car accident a couple weeks after I finished my first draft L. He left behind his long-time girlfriend and two young children. Travis and Cassie both have amazing blue eyes, because the real Travis did. Abi was named after a friend who won a drawing on my Facebook author page.

Because I wrote this during the first SpeedBo – Seekerville’s version of National Novel Writing Month – I needed to pay homage to that. Travis’s last name is Harders – after Audra Harders. Abi’s is Connealy – for Mary Connealy. And Travis’s parents? Julie (a writer!) and Keith!


Moving on from your story, tell us a little about yourself. We’ll help! What’s your least favorite household chore and why?

All of them? /thinks/ Folding clothes and putting them away probably tops the list – and cleaning bathrooms.

What are your hobbies outside of writing?

Television/movie watching. I’m no Tony DiNozzo, but I tend to binge watch my favorite shows and movies. I own NCIS, Big Bang Theory, and FRIENDS on DVD – along with a bunch of older, more classic, shows I watch with my kids – I Love Lucy, Dick Van Dyke, Gilligan’s Island, Boy Meets World, Full House, Cosby Show, Andy Griffith, etc. Weekly, I watch a bunch of shows. Probably too many ;). Thanks to the wonder of streaming, I’m currently working my way through Star Trek: The Original Series and Gilmore Girls is on my horizon. I tend to obsessively rewatch movies, too – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen Jurassic World already. I can quote Twister and Independence Day like nobody’s business.

And reading of course! Always reading!

Fall is upon us, and full of events. Are you doing anything special this fall season?

This year holds new events for me! My oldest daughter is a freshman this year – and she’s very active in her marching band! Tomorrow is her first competition. They didn’t march their show at the first football game because they weren’t ready. The last two games have been rainouts for the band anyway (too many instruments can’t handle that kind of wetness). This will be their first time marching their show in front of an audience. If things continue as planned, I’ll be a band mom until 2025! Longer if they all march in college!


We talk a lot about faith and how it weaves throughout our fiction, here at the blog. How has your faith affected/or not affected your writing?

My faith permeates my writing even when I don’t necessarily realize it. It’s not something I generally consciously weave in, but then at the end think “okay, I need to make sure the spiritual thread is up to snuff” and realize God’s already been working it in. The most obvious example is in Hand-Me-Down Princess. Prince Malachi has been telling his bride (they met at the altar) she needs to come to understand that her value is because she is a child of the One True King and not because she married the son of an earthly one. Okay. Cool. And then suddenly, it’s Malachi who has to grapple with the same concept – something he’d thought he’d learned years earlier. I didn’t plan it, but there it was… Go figure. God had it planned all along ;).

That said, Grace to Save is the first (and only(?) to date) novel I’ve written with the salvation message spelled out in it. Abi wasn’t raised in a Christian home, and this whole religion thing is a little weird to her. She doesn’t expect her daughter to donate bone marrow to the man who did awful things, but she has to ask anyway. Slowly, Travis and Cassie begin to show Abi the unspeakable, immeasurable, completely overwhelming Amazing Grace that God gives to all of us.


Tell us a little about a day in the life of you? Wake up time? Lounging in your jammies all day, drinking coffee, living the luxurious life of a writer ;)

This year’s a bit different. Officially, I’m taking the fall off from teaching a couple classes at the local community college, but the reality is that it will be hard to go back for a variety of reasons. Now that I don’t have anywhere I have to be on a regular basis… I work best late at night, so I’ve been staying up late and sleeping in – though some days I do get up and get my kids out the door when my husband has to leave early. Mostly they’re pretty self-sufficient in the morning which helps. I get up in the late morning and do miscellaneous stuff – cleaning, marketing, editing, whatever – then do my creative stuff after the kids go to bed at night. Not jammies, usually, but definitely comfy clothes :D. I need to get “working out” in there too.



We have a bit of a war going on here at the CCC blog. Anne and Jaime LOVE coffee and Erica and Gabriella enjoy a joyful cup of tea. What is your preference? Help us break this tie…

Uh… Dr Pepper. I don’t drink coffee or tea (of any kind).

And a few fun and quirky questions always reveal of lot from our authors who visit. So, first, if you were to take a boat down the Amazon river, what would you be most interested in seeing?

Oh, goodness. The resort at the end? Definitely not the bugs! But if the bugs were out of the way, I would enjoy all of the flora and fauna and animal life – as long as it’s not trying to eat me!

If you had a choice of living in any era other than the present, what would you choose and why?

Oh goodness again! Can I go with the future? Where there’s transporters so I can hop across the country, or even around the world, to see a friend whenever I want and still be home in time for dinner.

We’d love you have you share a snippet from your novel to entice us and hook us!  Please share something below: 


Travis leaned back on his hands and stared upward. Abi did the same. “Rich says something about how sometimes he looks at the stars and thinks about how God told Abraham his descendants would outnumber the stars in the sky and that one of those stars had Rich Mullins written on it.”

The sounds of happy high schoolers provided the background music for the vast emptiness above them. “Thousands of years ago, without light pollution, how many stars could Abraham have seen? Millions? Trillions? Gazillions? Who knows, but one of those stars hung there in the sky because of me. Because of Travis Harders. Because of Abi Connealy. It has my name or your name or Cassie’s name written on it. The God who can make all of this had me in mind when He hung a star. It’s so simple and so mind-blowing at the same time.”

Abi didn’t know what to say, how to react, but before she had time to, he went on. “I know you don’t believe in all of that, but it’s true.” When he looked at her, his blue eyes were as serious as she’d ever seen them. “God loves you, Abi. He was thinking of you when He created a star millions and millions of light years away in a spot you’d never visit. You were on his mind when He hung on the cross.” Travis stood, brushing picnic table dust off the back of his jeans. “If you ever want to talk, I’m here or my mom’s a great one to talk to.” As he walked off, he took several backwards steps. “God loves you, Abi Connealy. He always has. He always will.”

He turned, whistling loudly to draw the students back toward the bus.

God loved her? He thought about her while He created the universe?


She might be able to buy into the idea that a Creator existed, but that He cared so much about a woman who’d abandoned her baby? That didn’t seem like much of a God at all.


Enter to WIN a copy of Grace to Save!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thursday, September 22, 2016

Book Dedication

I've been working hard lately, putting in some serious word count to meet a deadline, so it was fun to get a surprise in the mail this week.

My next novel, A Family Arrangement, arrived on my doorstep much sooner than I expected. This is the first book in the Little Falls Legacy Series, a series I've wanted to write since I was a college intern working at our local historical society sixteen years ago.


One of the best things about publishing a story is writing the dedication. It's been my tradition to give the first copy to the person I dedicated the story to. It's fun, because they don't know who they are until I hand them the book. I have another story releasing in December in the Seven Brides for Seven Texans novella collection and the people I dedicated it to have no idea!! I can't wait to share it with them. :)

My first story was dedicated to my parents, the second to my husband, the third to my children, and the fourth to my sister, Andrea. Out of all the people in the world, she probably understands me the best. She is two years (and one day) younger than me, so we grew up very close. We spent hours, and hours, and HOURS playing make-believe when we were little girls, and a lot of that make-believe translates into my writing. Andrea was always a good sport and went along with pretty much any escapade I had in mind.


She is an interior designer and she owns a business with our sister-in-law Sarah. They repurpose furniture and make interior décor. This past weekend they had a huge show and they asked my other sister-in-law, Angie, and me to come to the show to hand out coupons to get people to visit their booth. We were called junk fairies. :) It was a lot of fun, and the perfect opportunity for me to surprise my sister with the book dedication.


I thought it was fitting that this picture represents both of us doing what we love.

So that's a little peek into my world this week! I'd love to know what you've been doing. Any surprises?

Gabrielle Meyer
Find me on Facebook
Find me on Pinterest
Find me on Twitter
Find me on Amazon
Find me on Goodreads
Find me on My Website
Sign up for My Newsletter
 
 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

My Amur Maple hedge. I LOVE the oranges and reds and yellows. 

Fall is on the way in earnest here in Minnesota. The trees are changing, the air is crisper, and football games are being contested. 

When fall rolls around, I love to make soups, and one of my favorites is Machine Shed Potato Soup. I feel pretty much like Betty Crocker when I make anything from scratch. :) So I thought I would share the recipe with you here, so you can feel like Betty, too!

2 1⁄2 lbs baby red potatoes, quartered
1⁄2 cup bacon, uncooked finely diced
1 large onion, diced
1⁄4 bunch celery, diced
2 quarts milk
1 quart water
4 tablespoons chicken base
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
3⁄4 cup margarine or 3⁄4 cup butter
3⁄4 cup flour
1⁄4 bunch fresh parsley, freshly chopped
1 cup whipping cream
1⁄2 cup colby cheese, Shredded
1⁄4 cup bacon, bits fried
green onions, chopped for garnish


DIRECTIONS
In large pot, boil potatoes in water 10 minutes. Drain and set aside. In large heavy pot, sauté bacon, onion and celery over medium-high heat until celery is tender, about 5 minutes.
Remove mixture from pot, drain bacon grease and return mixture to pot. Add milk, water, base, salt and pepper. Cook over medium-high heat until mixture is very hot, about 8 minutes, stirring often. Do not let mixture boil.
In small, heavy saucepan melt margarine. Add flour and mix well. Cook over medium-low heat until mixture bubbles, stirring 2 to 3 minutes to make a roux. While constantly stirring soup, add roux slowly until soup is thick and creamy, about 4 minutes.
Stir in parsley, reserved potatoes, and cream. Garnish with cheese, bacon bits, onions or all three.
Serve hot.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

#Giveaway w/ @KaraIsaac !

Jaime here! SOOOOOOO much has been happening in my neck of the woods that I completely spaced-bombed saying "hey" today! But I did want to share this: in 3 weeks, Kara Isaac, my beloved writing sister who plays footsie with me when we sleep at conference all smushed in a queen-sized bed to save $$, is releasing her second novel. Can't Help Falling is a stellar novel and you can take it from me that it is a pre-order MUST!

And .... there's a little potential something in it for you if you do! :)

See a message from K below:

#GIVEAWAY TIME!  (aka the part where I swallow my pride and beg you to pre-order Can't Help Falling)

So, it was pointed out to me recently that it's that time in the author cycle when I need to get asking/pleading/charming people into pre-order Can't Help Falling. Which, honestly, makes me feel like that uninvited visitor on your doorstep trying to get you to change electricity suppliers right when the baby just puked all over your front and the toddler is flailing on the floor screaming like a banshee because you wouldn't let her play with the carving knife.

But alas, this whole published author thing really only works if your books actually sell, which brings me to... PRIZES! Every week for the next three weeks I'm going to be giving away a prize pack to someone who has pre-ordered Can't Help Falling. I don't care whether it's paperback or e-book or who you order it from. All you need to do is send proof of pre-order to kara (at) karaisaac.com and you're in the draw. https://www.amazon.com/Cant-Help-Falling-Kara-Isaac/dp/1501117343/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1474403232&sr=8-2&keywords=can%27t+help+falling 


So here we go... Week One. Up for grabs is a copy of Melissa Tagg's fabulous new contemporary romance Keep Holding On, a $20 Amazon Giftcard, a block of my favourite New Zealand chocolate (winners choice of dark, white or milk) and, as a priceless bonus, my eternal gratitude.