Friday, January 29, 2016

Book Report & #Giveaway - Chivalrous, by Dina Sleiman


It is about time!!!! Thank you Bethany House Publishing for publishing a fabulous book with strong, independent heroines!!! I loved the balance between femininity and independence. While romance was thick our heroine did not quail, quake and have moments of high emotionally whimpering. I love how she fought for herself and for those she loved. I enjoyed how she saw defeat and the humility of being defended yet still perfectly capable of doing the defending herself in many ways. I am thankful the balance of female roles was brought up in a heroine who found herself hand in hand as a valued, strong partner to the male and not someone who simply needed a hero. And yet, he was still her hero, and in many ways, she was his. The perfect balance of iron sharpening iron rather than the hero being the savior and the heroine, the saved with nothing to offer but supportive love.

Anyone who is looking for a Godly yet strong and balanced relationship in fiction, this one is for you. More heroines like this need to be written in the CBA.


AND! We're giving away a copy today so some other lucky reader can enjoy this great read!!


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Thursday, January 28, 2016

What Does it Mean to Have a Savior?


I've recently been pondering what it means to have a Savior in Jesus Christ.

Ever since I can remember, I've loved God and I've always felt immensely loved by Him. I wholeheartedly believe He created me for a reason. I was chosen, as we all are, and because I was chosen, then I must be valuable.

My relationship with Christ is the most important one in my life. Since I was a child, I have never strayed from my faith, but it has been tested during very difficult times and each time it has been tested, it has come through the fire more refined and deeper. I am radically in love with my Creator and I am not ashamed! He is more real to me than anything else and His love penetrates to the very center of my being. I can’t get enough of Him!

The decisions I've made in my life have all been made with my faith in Christ as my anchor and compass. I seek His wisdom and His guidance in every area, and I believe He has greatly, exceedingly and abundantly blessed my life. I cannot take credit for anything. Everything I have and everything I am is all for the glory of God.

I seek to be authentic inside my home and outside it. I can confidently say that what you see is what you get, not that what you get is perfect. I make mistakes every day. I fail at countless things, but I work to do better. I live what I believe and I strive to do it with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness and self-control.

As a child, I wanted a Savior. As an adult, on my knees, in complete wretchedness, I realized I didn't want a Savior anymore - I needed a Savior. I know that if it weren't for the grace of God and His unconditional love and forgiveness, I would be utterly and completely lost.

I live my life in abandonment to my Creator. I want to make good, sound decisions, anchored in the Ancient Word, that I pray will glorify Him and lead me on a path of righteousness, for His namesake. I want to have a pure heart before God and I don't want to be swayed by human philosophies and teachings.

And you know what? I love my life! I have peace, joy and fulfillment. I have fun, I feel complete, and I feel loved. I know the meaning of life and I know what my purpose is - and I want others to know it, too.

Do I have bad days, weeks, months? Yes. I have struggled with questions, doubts and trouble. I've been to depths so low I thought I could never climb out. I've been so riddled with fear, I thought I would be swallowed whole. And I've dealt with deep, weighty questions that have shaken the very foundation of my existence...

But, Jesus.

Through every situation He has been exceedingly faithful. God has met me in each pit I've been in and He's taught me, strengthened me and shown me His character and heart as He's lifted me out onto solid ground. Through it all, I've grown to know the One and Only and His strength has been made perfect in my weakness. To the depth of my pain and wounds, has been the depth of His love and healing. I am left breathlessly in awe before Him...

I aim to please my Father and to live my life for His glory and pleasure.

I love the moon. On its own, the moon is lifeless and barren. But, when it reflects the sun, it becomes radiant. That is how I want my life to be. I want to be radiant because I reflect the Son. That is what having a Savior means to me.

What does having a Savior mean to you?

Gabrielle Meyer
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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

New Cover Art!


Erica here: I can FINALLY post my new cover art! I got the mock-up weeks ago, and it's been killing me not to be able to share it!

His Prairie Sweetheart is my first Love Inspired Historical, and it releases May 1st.

Here's a bit about the book:


A Home for Her Heart

After being jilted at the altar, Southern belle Savannah Cox seeks a fresh start out West and accepts a teaching position in Minnesota. But between her students' lack of English, the rough surroundings and sheriff Elias Parker's doubts and distrust, Savannah's unprepared for both the job and the climate. However, she's determined to prove she can handle anything her new town throws her way.

Elias gives it a week—or less—before the pretty schoolteacher packs her dainty dresses and hightails it back home. But no matter how many mishaps he has to rescue her from, Savannah doesn't give up. Yet the real test is to come—a brutal blizzard that could finally drive her away, taking his heart with her…

You'll notice the lovely collie on the cover. In the book his name is Captain, and he has a major role in the story. The inspiration for Captain came from my friend Renee Chaw's lovely collies. I asked if she had any photos that I could send along to my editor for cover art inspiration, and she was generous and sent me some lovely pictures.



Aren't they gorgeous?

Some other pictures I sent along to help the cover designers were these:


I love this coat, and Yay! They put our hero Elias in it!


This is the actor, David Conrad, who was the template for my hero. I loved his casual, hands in pockets stance in this one, and the cover designer caught that persona perfectly!


I found this photograph on Pinterest when I searched for blond wedding updo. The moment I saw her face, I knew this was Savannah. I love that the hair in the cover and the hair in the picture match!


And this is the schoolhouse I envisioned. I am thrilled that the one on the book cover matches perfectly.




I am so excited for this book to release. I had such fun writing about Elias and Savannah, incorporating my research into Norwegian Americans and the Children's Blizzard. I hope readers like their story as much as I do.

His Prairie Sweetheart is available for pre-order HERE. And you can look for it May 1st wherever fine fiction is sold!



Executive Assistant
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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

What to fill your #coffee mug with

Winter begs for me to curl up with a good book and coffee. I'm currently reading the upcoming release from Dani Pettrey, Cold Shot and it is SOOOOOO good. But I need coffee to go with it. I know a lot of you love tea, but that's really Erica's "genre" of drink. So for those of you who love coffee and for those of you who dabble in it, I thought I'd share some of my favorites!!

Highlander Grogg is a go-to standby. Of course, I prefer it in the expensive, fair-trade bean style, but you can find this flavor in the more common grocery store bags too. It's warm and pleasant and not bitter.

Guatemalan is probably one of my favorites. I'm totally spoiled because my husband takes missions trip to Antigua and hauls back pounds of beans roasted over an open fire pit on a coffee plantation for me. I'm spoiled. I admit it.

There's a flavor at my local coffee shop called San Franciscan. Picture a dark roast, sort of like French roast, but without the bitter and super smooth. It's delish, and sort of smoky-flavored. This one I love on Wednesday mornings when it's hump day and I'm soooooo getting in the mood for something to help me over the hill.

When I want something nutty to match my personality, I choose Macadamia Nut. It's everything you want a nutty flavored coffee to be. Warm, soothing, sinus-infusing deliciousness. Sinus infusing only because I smell deeply of it before each sip 'cause it smells sooooooo good.

Yep. These are just a few of my coffee faves to go with my latest read.

What's in your cup and what book is going along with it? Leave a comment and I'll draw a winner of some coffee! :)


Monday, January 25, 2016

Anne's Top TV Picks

Winner of last week's give away of a copy of The Lost Heiress: Gail Hollingsworth! Yay, Gail!

Who doesn't love a winter evening spent by the fire, watching a fun TV drama and drinking hot chocolate (which, BTW, hot chocolate has been highly underrated on this blog!). Although the remote control is rarely in my possession at our house, I have managed to commandeer it for several of my TV favorites.

Many of our readers have asked about our favorite genres, books, and authors. When I don't have my nose in a book, I love spending some free time soaking up some TV favorites. And though I'm not a huge TV watcher and have been known to spend many a day off having never turned it on, I do have a list I love:

1. Downton Abbey: because, well, who doesn't love it? Such a classic. Superb acting. We enjoy having friends over on Sunday evenings to watch together!

2. Mercy Street: Masterpiece Theatre premiered this Civil War hospital drama last week. I am ecstatic! I love historical pieces, and those with medical history is all the more enticing for me. I have a little collection of antique medical books, and this story has me hooked! If you've never visited a Civil War museum, the one at Gettysburg is highly recommended. We visited it while staying in a bed and breakfast that had been used for a field hospital. If you haven't chosen a family summer vacation destination yet, consider Gettysburg.


3. NCIS: Light-hearted office camaraderie. Great characterization. Good crime mystery.

4. Castle: I love to see Castle's mind at work to solve a crime, through the eyes of a writer.



5. Bones: For Bones and Castle, I like the earlier seasons the best for the fun chemistry between the hero and heroine. But in Bones, I still love the crime solving, mixed with great science. Booth is sort of yesterday's cowboy, and Brennan is today's intelligent working woman who needs to be reminded to smile and have fun.

5. The Last Ship: This series is a speculative story of what our world might look like after a world-wide pandemic that wipes out communities, cities, and topples national powers. The story centers around a ship sent to find a cure, that returns home to find it might be too late. Again, I love the science--no surprise. But I love the interesting speculation too.


6. Finding Your Roots: Henry Louis Gates, Jr. showcases three well known public figures in each show and digs back through their family history using original documents and DNA. He's an expert in African-American history and often uncovers more of a family's roots than ever thought possible.


7. Who Do You Think You Are? This fun show features a celebrity in each episode, and takes their family tree back as far as possible. They show original documents, make site visits, and sometimes even connect with lost cousins from the mother country.


What next when Castle, Bones, and NCIS have nearly run their courses? I think I'm developing a Masterpiece Theatre addiction. I want to start at the beginning of Sherlock Holmes. And let's add Poldark, Home Fires, and the feature, Victoria, which is set to take the time slot from Downton Abbey!

Readers: What about you? What are your favorites?
-------------
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 22, 2016

Interview and #Giveaway with Cara Luecht


I'm thrilled to feature Cara Luecht again on our blog with her latest release. I was stoked to have dinner with Cara last September when we were fellow attendees at a writer's conference and then to find out the crazy dealio that she lives about 45 minutes away from me? Yeah. Cara, we need to hit each other up for some coffee!

Anyway, her book is on my TBR for sure!! Enjoy our latest sit down chatty-chat with Cara and don't forget to enter to win her latest! :)


_____________________________________________


What authors do you like to read?

I like to read a lot of different authors, but right now I’m busy with Louise Penny, Kristin Hannah, Suzie Finkbeiner, and a non-fiction anthropological study by T.M. Luhrmann.

What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?


Well, here’s just a simple little question! LOL! Dostoevsky and James Joyce are probably the two biggies. When I was in junior high and high school, I was addicted to Mary Higgins Clark, the Margo Mysteries (anyone remember those!), and any other mystery series I could find.

What’s more important: characters or plot?

When I write, I write for plot, because writing for character is my natural inclination. That way, I hope (between my nature and my efforts), that I find a perfect mix of the two.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author and what would it be?

I can’t think of one. Everything we experience in life is part of what makes us who we are, and if a character demands something from me, even if it uncomfortable, then I feel I should be willing to write it. If is conflicts with good taste, then I need to discover a way to write it. White-washing the world is neither realistic nor inspiring.

How important are names to you in your books and how do you choose them?

Names are very important, and they usually just come to me. Miriam (in Soul Painter and Soul’s Prisoner) was always Miriam, etc. But if I get stuck, I google baby names for the decade in which the character was born for inspiration. And I always check the meaning. I find it curious that even if I do not check the meaning before I write the character, usually the character seems to have developed the qualities the meaning of the name predicts—kind of like in real life.

What secret talents do you have? Because here at the CCC blog we have all kinds of them ;)

I play piano and sing. I also like to crochet and do other crafty things. I teach college composition and work in marketing. I like to design things. I like to bake, and I love canning jams and jellies.

What were you like as a child? Steady-going like our Anne, a tornado like Jaime, and adventurous soul like Erica, or an avid-reader like Gabrielle?


I have always loved to read, and I was the classic, responsible, firstborn. I was shy, but we moved a lot when I was a kid (10 different schools), so I had to learn not to be.

Characters often find themselves in situations they aren't sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?

I feel like this every day I stand up in front of my students. There is a moment when class starts where I realize that I am responsible for making the lesson engaging, and that they rely on me to teach them the things they will need to know in college, and I feel inadequate. Of course, I don’t run, but there are a few seconds where I wonder what I was thinking taking on that kind of responsibility.

What’s your writing goals for 2016?


I’m hoping to write at least one more novel, possibly two. But one of my characters is not behaving right now, so who knows. And, like most other authors I know, I am waiting to hear back on queries,
so all my plans might fly out the window with a single email.

Lastly, will you leave us with a snippet from your book that is one of your favorites and gives us a glimpse into its pages?

Here are the first few lines of Soul’s Prisoner:

Rachel eased along the seeping basement wall. Fresh linens, stacked high in her arms, almost blocked her view. The musty corridor reeked of hasty construction and paper-thin concrete. The polished marble floors in the halls above gave no indication of the dank underbelly where Rachel delivered clean laundry. Over her head, heaving mechanical guts twisted and disappeared into the ceiling, carrying cold water and flickering lights to the stomping nurses and their charges.

Condensation trickled from a shoulder-height steam pipe and collected in a slick, green puddle. Rachel stepped around it. At the far end of the hall, mildew overpowered the respectively benign odor of the underground. She filled her lungs with the stagnant air, because what came next was worse.



cara@caraluecht.com

https://www.facebook.com/author.cara.luecht/?ref=hl

www.caraluecht.com

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So...what's on your TBR pile for 2016? Who/what did I miss? Make sure you leave a comment cause I may need to add it to mine :)


________________________________


Professional coffee drinker, Jaime Jo Wright, resides in the hills of Wisconsin. She loves to write spirited turn-of-the-century romance, stained with suspense. Her day job finds her as a Director of Sales & Development. She’s wife to a rock climbing, bow-hunting Pre-K teacher, mom to a coffee-drinking little girl, and a little boy she fondly refers to as her mischievous “Peter Pan”. Jaime completes her persona by being an admitted social media junkie and coffee snob. She is a member of ACFW and has the best writing sisters EVER!

"The Cowgirl's Lasso", The Cowboy Bride's Novella Collection - Barbour Publishing - COMING MARCH 2016

"Gold Haven Heiress", California Gold Rush Romance Collection - Barbour Publishing - COMING AUGUST 2016





Visit Jaime's web site: jaimejowright.com


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Thursday, January 21, 2016

From Minnesota to Arizona

This week I traded -6 degree temperatures in Minnesota for 60+ degree weather in the sunny state of Arizona! My good writing friend, Lindsay Harrel, is hosting my family for seven glorious days. We've had fun seeing the Grand Canyon, going to an awesome train park, eating outside(!), going to an Old Wild West theme park, and so much more.

My family at the Grand Canyon Tuesday
 It's been fun visiting Lindsay and talking about all things writing, after all, that's what brought us together in the first place...but it's so much more. After three and a half years of friendship, several writing retreats and conferences, thousands of texts, and critiquing each other's writing, we've started to do life together. Through the ups and downs of our writing journey, and the highs and lows of everyday life, she's become one of my very dearest friends.


It's so important to have kindred spirits in life, and that's what Lindsay is. Our homes are over 1,700 miles apart, yet, somehow God crossed our paths. He knew I needed her friendship. We started our writing journeys within months of each other, and it's been exciting watching our real-life stories unfold side-by-side, as well.

I'm thankful for this week with Lindsay, and not just because it means I'm enjoying warm weather! I'm thankful because I get to spend time with my friend, and that warms my heart more than anything else.

Gabrielle Meyer
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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Death and the Civil War


Squee! A new book and a DVD!

Look what arrived at my house yesterday. A book and DVD combo that I've been wanting for awhile. I saw "Death and the Civil War" on PBS' American Experience about awhile ago and was fascinated. It is the history of the establishing of national cemeteries, and the efforts to identify, return to their homes, and bury the fallen of the Civil War.

Here's an excerpt from the PBS website:



By the time Robert E. Lee surrendered to the Union in April 1865, much of the work of death had only just begun. Tens of thousands of soldiers lay unburied, their bones littering battlefields; still more had been hastily interred where they fell, and hundreds of thousands remained unidentified.

"After the Civil War, the United States thought constantly about the dead, this constituency that was no longer there, and yet was so powerful in the influence it has on our nation, because the nation had to live up to the sacrifice that these individuals represented," says Drew Gilpin Faust, author of This Republic of Suffering, on which the film is based.

While Congress passed legislation to establish and protect national cemeteries in February 1867, the $4 million program would re-inter the bodies of only the Union Soldiers in 74 national cemeteries; all 30,000 African American soldiers were buried in areas designated "colored." White southerners channeled their deep feelings of grief, loss, rage and doubt into reclaiming the bodies of hundreds of thousands of their dead loved ones, abandoned by the federal government. The refusal of the victorious North to attend to the vanquished southern dead would have powerful consequences for generations to come.

Having visited the national cemetery at Andersonville Prison, learning about the tireless work of Clara Barton to identify the soldiers who had been relegated to mass graves and see them properly buried, I am eager to learn more. Clara ran the Office of Missing Soldiers after the war for the express purpose of identifying MIA soldiers' remains.

Often I am asked if I read history books only as research for novels. The answer is no. I am a history junkie, and I read history books because I love them. Sometimes what I learn ends up in a novel, but more often, I read history books for my own edification and education.

Question for you:

Do you like history? Have you visited a Civil War site?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

How To Say Goodbye

Dear Gramma,

You've always been able to 'get me' when no one else can. So I needed to write to you today about this ginormous hole in my heart. It is the kind that is there, deep and lonely, but I hide it well, because, like you, I don't normally cry and us strong-willed women bully through the hard times.

But, you told me once, sometimes a person goes away and you do what you need to do, even when the love hurts so bad and the ache is so great, you're not sure if you'll ever be whole again.

I've discovered something this week. I found the answer to that. I will never be whole again. At least not here, not in this life. Oh, I'll be okay, and I'll smile, genuinely smile, but all the while the gap in my soul will exist.

Inspirational quotes abound about filling this vacancy with hope, an eternal perspective, the joy of life in Christ, and reunions. While I believe them all, and find them to be wealthy with truth, today, I need more than prose. I need you.

So, maybe I'm selfish. Maybe I'm just a realist. But, grief is the price of love. A high currency and a painful one. Still, it's one I don't regret paying, though the pain of missing is sometimes stronger than the truth of Heaven.

Anyway, you've never given me a look of reproof. Okay, maybe that time I cheated in Go Fish. But in things of the heart, never. You and I, we wear our pragmatism on our sleeve, but our emotions are as wild as they are untamed. So today I wanted to confide in you 'cause I know you won't reprimand me . . . this hole? In my heart? You left it there. When you left me.

Today I'm supposed to say "goodbye" to you. The goodbye until we meet again, sort of goodbye. But really, Gramma? I don't want to. I refuse to. Because, today my sense of realism and deal-with-it doesn't have enough suck-it-up to survive. Today, I just need you. And you're not here. So, can you teach me one last thing?

How am I supposed to say goodbye?

Monday, January 18, 2016

Book Report & Giveaway: The Lost Heiress by Rosanna M. White

~~Downton Abbey meets The Little Princess
~~Grand enough for Masterpiece Theatre
~~An intriguing story of undiscovered identity
~~Aristocratic Secrets unravel in a brilliant
       plot of love and social power...

Roseanna M. White has taken a place on my favorite author list with her Love Inspired Love Finds You in Annapolis, and further built her popularity with her intelligent balance of plot and romance in the Culper Ring series. The Lost Heiress doesn't disappoint, as I knew it wouldn't.

Set in 1920, when British Colonial powers were still felt in India and Africa, Brook Eden leaves her Mediterranean home, the only home she's ever known, on a quest to Yorkshire, England, to discover what has always been missing--her true identity. When childhood friend and soon to be duke, Justin Wildon, uncovers proof she needs, he delivers her to the place of her beginnings.

Will the strengthened bonds with her father, rekindled after near two decades of searching, be enough to survive the unraveling mysteries of her mother's death?

Will the responsibilities of the dukedom that call Justin away, divide his attention and pull him further from the one endeavor worthy of his time? Will he return in time to save Brook from the same hidden threat that led to her mother's tragic loss?

~~~

The second in the series releases April 5th of this year, so you have time to read the first book before then! Aren't the book covers elegant?

Roseanna:
Q: What inspired you to write this series most?
Q: Have you ever traveled to England?
Q: What have you enjoyed the most about writing a series set in 1910 after specializing in the colonial era for so long?

Readers:
Q: Are you a Downton Abbey fan, and why?
Q: If you could have a service staff, which would you want most?
     A gardener? A cook? or a lady's maid?
Q: If you've been to England, what are the best places to visit?

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-------------
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 on:Facebook 
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Find me on: Goodreads 


Friday, January 15, 2016

Meet Susanne Dietze - #author with #Austen In Austen

I'm (Jaime) SUPER excited to have Susanne Dietze visit our blog today with her new novella release. She will also be in the upcoming release The Cowboy's Bride Collection that my novella is also in. :) She was gracious enough to answer some silly and serious questions from me too. Have a looksee  about this great novella collection and learn about Susanne! :)


Four Texas-Set Novellas Based on Jane Austen's Novels

Discover four heroines in historical Austin, TX, as they find love--Jane Austen style. 

Volume 1 includes:

If I Loved You Less by Gina Welborn
based on Emma 
A prideful matchmaker examines her own heart when her protégé falls for the wrong suitor.

Romantic Refinements by Anita Mae Draper
 based on Sense and Sensibility 
A misguided academy graduate spends the summer falling in love . . . twice.

One Word from You by Susanne Dietze
based on Pride and Prejudice 
A down-on-her-luck journalist finds the story of her dreams, but her prejudice may cost her true love . . . and her career.

Alarmingly Charming by Debra E. Marvin
 based on Northanger Abbey 
A timid gothic dime-novel enthusiast tries to solve the mystery of a haunted cemetery and, even more shocking, why two equally charming suitors compete for her attentions.




_________________________________

What authors do you like to read?

Too many to list! I’m drawn to historical love stories because I write them, but I also read a lot of contemporaries, mysteries, and YA.

What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
As a teenager, I read a traditional Regency romance called Scandal’s Daughter by Margaret Summerville that made me sit up and say, “I want to write this stuff!” It was such a fun moment that I remember exactly where I was—in a tent, beach camping with my best friend’s family. I’d wanted to be a writer before that, and read many books I’d loved, but that was when I knew I wanted to write romance.

On a personal level, the writings of St. Therese of Lisieux (and books about her) challenge me to serve God in my every action and situation, whether it’s washing dishes, changing a diaper, or spending time with others.

What’s more important: characters or plot?

I write romance, and that genre requires both! Rich characters fall flat without obstacles to overcome; likewise, it’s not easy to relate to a story if the characters don’t change or develop. However, it’s my opinion that many writers have an easier time writing one over the other. For me, it’s easier to write character development, so it helps me to brainstorm plots with a buddy.

Is there one subject you would never write about as an author and what would it be?


Politics! That’s a joke, although, really, it’s funny because it’s true.

I won’t write explicit stuff, but there’s a difference between writing about how a subject affects characters and writing a scene including it. Since I write “clean” books, I won’t descriptively show certain things, like sex, for example. However, that doesn’t mean my characters will never deal with issues relating to it. My characters’ lives are messy, just like real life is.

How important are names to you in your books and how do you choose them?


I love naming characters! Sometimes they come to me named, but other times, I have to consider their personalities and the time and place they live in. I enjoy looking at historical records for inspiration, like church registries, censuses, or Social Security lists.

What secret talents do you have? Because here at the CCC blog we have all kinds of them ;)

I can tell you one talent I do not have: snapping my fingers. I do the action but no cool sound comes of it. People have been horrified by my inability to do something so normal, but when they try to help me, they see I’m doing it right and they give up. I’m unsnappy. You know how some moms snap their fingers at their kids to get their attention? Yeah, I can’t do that.

What were you like as a child? Steady-going like our Anne, a tornado like Jaime, and adventurous soul like Erica, or an avid-reader like Gabrielle?


Oh, I was definitely an avid reader. When I wasn’t reading stories, I was making them up. Even when I was riding my bike down the sidewalk, I had a plot going in my head, like I was a Disneyland ride for invisible mini passengers or I was traversing a treacherous trail to get soup to a sick person. I never just rode a bike to get from point A to point B.

Characters often find themselves in situations they aren't sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?

Hmm, that’s a toughie. I can’t think of something shareable, but when I’m in a spot, I try to breathe, ask for God’s help, and exercise patience.

What’re your writing goals for 2016?


I have three deadlines to meet in the first half of the year. I am a plotter, but I need to be even more disciplined right now to get everything done in a way that makes me comfortable and gives me time for critiques and beta readers. That means planning: what to write, when to write, what’s for dinner, etc. Once those deadlines are met, I have some proposals to work on!

Lastly, will you leave us with a snippet from your book that is one of your favorites and gives us a glimpse into its pages?

Austen in Austin Volume I is a collection of four Texas-set novellas that retell Jane Austen stories. Here’s the opening page of One Word From You, my version of Pride and Prejudice with a Texas twist.

Urged by her family to marry for the sake of their dwindling finances, Eliza Branch prefers to pay for the remainder of her time at the Austen Academy by writing for the local paper. There’s plenty to write about now that railroad baron William Delacourt has come to Austin. His proposed northbound line may be good for local business, but she’s still stinging from his terrible first impression. If the rumors about William are true, then he deserves to be skewered in print. But when Eliza’s pen gets ahead of her conscience, it’s William who makes everything right—and the reasons behind his sacrifice just might be the story of Eliza’s lifetime.


“My affections and wishes are unchanged, but one word from you will silence me on this subject forever.” Mr. Darcy, Pride and Prejudice

CHAPTER ONE


October, 1883

“If it is indeed a truth universally acknowledged that a bachelor in possession of a lucrative cattle ranch must be in want of a wife, then Mr. Cray will be swapping vows before calving season.” Merriment pulled at Eliza Branch’s lips as she gazed past her parents at the darkness beyond the carriage window. “He doesn’t need our assistance to find a suitable bride.”

“This is no time for your odd sense of humor, Eliza.” The carriage bumped over a pothole, and Mother sucked in a hissing breath. “This headache!”

“I’m sorry, Mother. I didn’t mean to upset you. Are you ill?” Eliza bit the finger-seam of her glove and tugged, baring her arm to the evening cool. She cupped her hand over Mother’s smooth cheek. “You don’t have a fever.”

Mother’s head jerked back. “Still a hoyden after months of finishing school. Can no one persuade you to stop undressing with your teeth?”

“I didn’t rip the seam this time.” Eliza patted Mother’s knee. “Let’s turn back home. The Hales will understand if you’re too ill to attend the gala.”

“You mother’s fine,” Father drawled. “Hot with determination, is all.”

“No thanks to you, George.” Mother’s eyes flashed glossy as ink in the moonlight. “Now Eliza must wed Hezekiah Cray with too much haste for a proper society wedding.”

“I—what?” A nauseating sensation coiled in Eliza’s stomach, just as it did during her recurring nightmare of arriving tardy for a French exam at her finishing school, The Jeannette C. Austen Academy for Young Ladies. In those dreams, she couldn’t recognize the conjugations on the chalkboard. But Mother’s perplexing words boded a far worse fate than poor marks.

“Marry,” Mother reiterated, as if she were about to spell the word. “You’re nineteen. Plenty old enough.”

Eliza stifled a snort. She’d marry Mr. Cray, with his oily black hair, overlong mustache, and unsavory habits when his cattle sang in the church choir. “He gambles, Mother.”

“He can afford to. He has the touch of Midas with livestock.”

“And I do not.” Father sighed and stared out the window at the dark street.

Eliza’s mouth filled with fearful questions, cold and metallic as coins on her tongue. “What’s happened?”

“The cattle are diseased.” Mother massaged her temples. “Your father bred good stock with feral cows to produce some new kind of Longhorn. But he failed. The drought hasn’t helped, either. We must sell the ranch to keep the house here in town.”

Eliza touched Father’s arm, willing him to look at her. “It’s not so bad, is it, Father?”

He shrugged, but whether his action bespoke apology or resignation, she couldn’t tell.

_____________________________________

Susanne is offering a “One Word From You” Prize package: a copy of Austen in Austin, Volume I (paper or e-book, winner’s choice) that includes her novella, One Word From You; The Jane Austen Devotional hardback by Steffany Woolsey, and a pink pocket notebook. 

Enter using Rafflecopter on Susanne's website, www.susannedietze.com, through 11:59 pm PST January 15, 2016. 


There’s also a second giveaway put on by the authors, found on www.inkwellinspirations.com.

_____________________________________

Susanne Dietze began writing love stories in high school, casting her friends in the starring roles. Today, she writes in the hope that her historical romances will encourage and entertain others. A pastor’s wife and mom of two, she loves fancy-schmancy tea parties, travel, and curling up on the couch with a costume drama and a plate of nachos. Susanne is the author of six new and upcoming novellas. You can visit her on her website, www.susannedietze.com.

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

Website: www.susannedietze.com

Blog: www.susannedietze.blogspot.com

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13657688.Susanne_Dietze



Thursday, January 14, 2016

What Era Would You Choose?

I recently finished Julie Klassen's newest novel, The Painter's Daughter, set in England in 1815. When I closed the book I thought to myself the same thing I think every time I read a good book: I would love to live in that time period! I love the formal meals, the dancing, the etiquette, the large homes, the servants -- maybe I should clarify, I would love to be the Lady of the manor in 1815 and not the servant, definitely not the servant.

When I read Laura Frantz' The Colonel's Lady I wanted to live during the Revolutionary War on the Kentucky frontier. When I read Lynn Austin's Candle in the Darkness, I wanted to go back in time to the Civil War Era on a southern plantation. And when I read my all time favorite series by Maud Hart Lovelace (Betsy Books) I dreamt about living in a Minnesota town during the Turn of the Twentieth Century - if only for a day.

The beauty of a book is that it transports you to a different time and place, without the discomforts of reality.

To be honest, I like the idea of living in those time periods, but if push came to shove, I'd probably stay where I am.  Because who would have chosen to live through the Revolutionary and Civil Wars, while our country was being ravished and lives were being torn apart? And who would want to live during the Turn of the Century when there were no microwaves or dishwashers? Although, I think I could have managed if I had a servant.

Hindsight (and the skills of a talented writer!) can make any era look attractive over time. Who knows, maybe someday people will wish they could have lived during 2016. Maybe.  

The closest I'll ever come to living during the
Turn of the Twentieth Century. This is a picture
of me reenacting Evangeline Lindbergh in 1917
at the Charles A. Lindbergh Historic Site.
If given the chance to go back in time, I would choose to live during the period between 1890-1915. What's not to love about this time? It was a fun and exciting period in America History. Inventions were making life easier for the common man and allowing people the freedom for leisure activities. Clothing was beautiful, automobiles were all the rage, singing and dancing around the piano on a Saturday night was the norm and attending a movie matinee on Sunday afternoon was a weekly occurrence. Not to mention, servants were abundant! Side note: what ever happened to servants???

What about you? Have you ever read a book and wished you could step into that time and place? If you could choose one era to visit for a day, which would it be and why?
 
Gabrielle Meyer
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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Field Trip!

Erica Here: This past week, my kids and I had a field trip. This was the first in a long time, though it used to be our common practice. Now that the kids are grown up and we're no longer homeschooling, it's hard to get a time when everyone is off work.

But things all came together for last Friday. The kids and I had a great day.

The first stop was in Cannon Falls, MN, to a yarn shop. My daughter is an avid crocheter and knitter, and I'm so glad we stopped. I found some cool yarn for a baby blanket, and she found lots of yarn for lots of stuff!


Then, because we could, we stopped for an early lunch in Apple Valley at Chick Fil A.


Then we trekked west to Shakopee to shop at Eagle Creek Quilt Shop, which is charmingly housed in the antique Shakopee train depot. What a wonderful shop, with cheerful, helpful, knowledgeable folks.



Since I had Heather with me, and I wanted to make a quilt for her, it was so fun to have her pick out the fabrics and pattern. She decided on "Viewpoints" by Laundry Basket Quilts. Isn't it cute? I can't wait to get started...of course, I have to finish quilting my current project first...



After we finished up at the quilt shop, it was off to the Minnesota Historical Society to take in the new Suburbia exhibit (and shop for new history books, but that's a post for another day.) The kids particularly liked the 1960's station wagon. 



We enjoyed the view of St. Paul's Cathedral. Even in the middle of the city, snow and scale bring a hush.


While we tooled around the gift shop...well, Heather tooled, I drooled...over all the amazing BOOKS!...Heather found this little gem. I couldn't agree more!


After the history center, we went to Cossetta's, met friends, and dined on wonderful Italian food.


Then it was off to the Ramsey House After Dark Tour: Crime and Justice. We went with Gabrielle Meyer and her husband, and Michelle Griep and her husband. On the tour, we learned more about the trial and execution of Ann Bilansky, the first white woman executed in the state of Minnesota...and all the doubts that still swirl around her guilt or innocence. (More on this in another blog post, too!)





I loved spending the day with my crazy-wonderful kids. Fun, quilts, history. Check. Check. Check.

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