Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Favorite Meet-Cutes: Guest Post with Laurie Tomlinson

Thanks for hosting me, lovely ladies of Coffee Cups & Camisoles! It's always a pleasure to spend time with these fun readers! 

I'm going to go out on a limb today and guess that many of you have seen the 2006 rom-com The Holiday. And if you have, you remember the cutest old man in the world explaining meet-cutes. 

Source: theholiday.tumblr.com

But if you have no idea what I'm talking about, a meet-cute is the moment our hero and leading lady first meet in the story. Whether they have history or are total strangers, it's the instant their "together" begins. 

Let me tell you about one of my favorite meet-cutes. In the TV series Rookie Blue, the heroine Andy McNally meets her love interest on her first day as a police officer -- when she arrests him and ruins his longtime undercover operation under the assumption he's a plain-clothes drug dealer. Her huge first-day victory instantly turns to humiliation after her enthusiasm causes her to miss his thinly veiled hints that he's actually an undercover officer and she's making a huge mistake. 

This creates a dazzling chemistry when Sam Swarek becomes her training officer. It sets Andy apart from the other rookies, showing her heart and gumption, and gives Andy something to prove to Sam. Though they may not have instantly swept each other off their feet with stars in their eyes, their initial reaction evolves into unwavering trust from which the best romances bloom. 

To me, there are a few elements that go into a good meet-cute: 
  • Their pre-conceived notions about each other and the information they gather from the first meeting. 
  • The chemistry, or the reaction they incite from each other -- even if it's not a positive reaction at first.
  • The circumstances that cause the hero and heroine to cross paths in the story. 
In my upcoming novella, That's When I Knew, my hero Nick and heroine Chelsea's meet-cute occurs at a charity softball game when she slides into second and sprays baseball field all over him. Because they grew up playing neighborhood baseball together in the summers, Nick instantly knows it's Chelsea. And her familiar cloud of baseball-dirt-hustle begins their new chapter with the nostalgic reminder of the respite they've been for each other in the past, even though their adult lives are much more complicated than the sweet summers of their childhood.

So, what about you? Do you have a favorite meet-cute? Certain elements you like to see in a first meeting? Tell us in the comments for the chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card!



About Laurie: Laurie Tomlinson is an award-winning contemporary romance author, freelance editor and PR consultant, and cheerleader for creatives. She believes that God’s love is unfailing, anything can be accomplished with a good to-do list, and that life should be celebrated with cupcakes and extra sprinkles. 

To connect with Laurie and find out news about her upcoming books releasing this spring, visit her websiteFacebook page, and Twitter.  She is also a regular contributor to The Writer’s Alley blog.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Monday's Devo: Occupy Me Lord...

Do you ever have days that have themes? Yesterday's theme was occupation.
I had some errands in the morning and a wedding to attend in the afternoon. I wouldn't have guessed the Lord's discussion with me would be about occupation. Yet as I attempted to empty my mind of the clutter of the week, to lift off my shoulders the things that weigh me down...I thought of my Jesus-yoga class from the week. It's about filling your mind, soul, and body with worship and scripture as you exercise. And as I meditated to relax my sore tight muscles, I felt the Spirit nudge me--don't just empty yourself, let Me fill you...occupy you.

Oh yes, Lord. Occupy me.  Hmmm.....

{oc·cu·py}
ˈäkyəˌpī/
verb
1.
reside or have one's place of business in (a building).
synonyms: inhabited, lived-in, tenanted, settled
"only two of the apartments are occupied"
live in, inhabit, be the tenant of, lodge in;
move into, take up residence in, make one's home in;
people, populate, settle; reside in, dwell in
antonyms:vacant, empty
2.
fill or preoccupy (the mind or thoughts).
"her mind was occupied with alarming questions"
synonyms: engage, busy, employ, distract, absorb, engross, preoccupy, hold, interest, involve, entertain, amuse, divert

Lord, yes. You don't ask us to be empty. You ask to fill us. Infuse me like a steeping cup of tea.


Lord, pour over me like a rich cup of coffee.


So I tried practicing the new occupation plan through the day:
Anxiety out. Peace in.
Lies out. Truth in.
Frivolous out. Noble thoughts in.
Selfishness out. Righteousness in.
Nasty, ugly out. Lovely, admirable in.

Then I headed to the afternoon wedding. Not exactly an event I thought I'd hear more about occupation. But the groom's father spoke about the journey of marriage often being like the journey of the Israelites as they came out of Egypt to occupy the promise land, characterized by unexpected battles, barrenness, wandering, trusting God's presence, crossing over into new lands--but also of the importance of God's instructions to drive out those who occupied the land. There was that theme, popping up again--when you sense a repetition--do you stop and ask the Lord to explain?

Perhaps this age old Bible lesson is more about our minds and hearts than physical nations and lands. Emptying so that God can occupy.

Phillipians 4: 8Finally, brothers {and sisters}, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthythink on these things. 9Whatever you have learned and received and heard from me, and seen in me, put these things into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.…

This is what it looks like to let God define His occupation?  He will "live in, inhabit, be the tenant of, lodge in; move into, take up residence in, make His home in; populate, settle; reside in, dwell" in me.

He will: "engage, busy, employ, distract, absorb, engross, preoccupy, hold, interest, involve, entertain, amuse, divert" me into His thoughts.

Readers:
What's on your mind this week?
What do you want to be occupied by?
BTW--don't forget my last week post still has a give-away through Feb 14th in case you missed it!
-------------
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
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Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Giveaway!

Erica Here:

To celebrate this month's launch of My Heart Belongs in Fort Bliss, TX, I, along with my fellow MHBI authors are giving away a loaded kindle fire to one awesome person!






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?

The book is available now at Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble and ChristianBook and wherever fine fiction is sold.

Be sure to enter the rafflecopter below for a chance to win a slate of books and a kindle fire tablet!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Five Ways to Support your Favorite Author

Gabrielle Here:


Before I began to write historical romances, I devoured them veraciously. I used to read two to three books a week. Some I borrowed from the library, but many of them I owned so I could lend them to my friends and family. I had my favorite authors, but I was discovering new ones all the time.

It wasn't until I began to write that I realized I could have been a much better reader all those years. How's that, you might ask. I was an avid fan, but I wasn't doing everything I could to support my favorite writers. I didn't even know that I could support them, other than reading their books.

But there's a lot more I could have done. Here are some of the ways I've discovered to support my favorite authors. If you're a regular guest on Coffee Cups & Camisoles, then I suspect you're doing these already. :)

1. Read her books. This might be fairly obvious, but then again, maybe not. If you truly want to support your favorite author, this is where it's at. Because the rest of the suggestions below hinge on this first point. :) Before I became a writer, this was one of the only ways I was supporting my favorite authors--this one and #3.

2. Leave a review. This one is where I failed at being a good support to my favorite authors--but I contend it was out of ignorance. I didn't realize how important reviews were, nor did I even know where I would have shared my reviews, if I'd written them. Now, however, I know that reviews are vital for books sales, especially in this day in age. When you go to your favorite online retailer, are you like me? Do you look to see how many stars an item has? Everything from books to kitchen sinks (I'm not kidding, I bought my kitchen sink based on reviews)! Some great places to share reviews are on Amazon, Christianbooks.com, Barnes & Noble, your blog, your Facebook page, and pretty much anywhere people will see it. Another great option is Goodreads. I didn't even know Goodreads existed until I started to write, but it's one of my favorite places to share my love of books now.

3. Tell your friends. Word of mouth advertising is still one of the best ways to spread news, especially when it comes to something we love. If you've read a great book, and you're still glowing from the experience, your friends will get excited to read it, too. This doesn't have to be limited to face-to-face interactions. You can tell your friends via social media, as well. If your friend loves it, she'll help spread the word, too, and then more people will discover the authors you love.

4. Ask your library to carry her book. Again, I didn't even know I could do this until I became an author! This is a great way for lots of other people to discover the books you enjoy reading. If they like what they read, they'll probably go looking for other books by that same author. It's another great way to support your favorite author and get her books in the hands of potential readers.

5. Send her a message of encouragement. The very first author I ever messages was Julie Klassen. I read her debut novel, Lady of Milkweed Manor, and saw she lived close to me in Minnesota. She left her email address at the back of the book and invited readers to contact her. I couldn't resist! I'd read hundreds of books in my life, but never once told an author how much I loved her writing--until that day. When she wrote back, I almost fell off my chair. :) Now, I love to write to my favorite authors and encourage them all the time, because I know that writing is hard and authors often doubt their ability. Whenever I receive a note from a reader, it brightens my day and gives me the encouragement I need to keep going. Some awesome friendships have developed because I took the initiative to message an author, one of those friendships is with Julie.

There are lots of ways to support your favorite authors, but these were the five that came to my mind. I feel blessed by my readers and all the ways they've supported me over the past couple of years. Just reading this blog is a huge support to Jaime, Anne, Erica and myself.

I'd love to hear your ideas! What are some ways you support your favorite authors?

Gabrielle Meyer
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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Cancer Fog

Erica Here:

This past Sunday, I attended the monthly meeting of the ACFW MN NICE chapter. I love this group! I leave there recharged and refreshed, with my writer-heart full. At the January meeting, I ran into a fellow writer whom I hadn't seen for a few months. We have also attended a monthly critique and writing group in the Twin Cities, but owing to one thing or another, I haven't been able to attend for what seems like forever!

Some of our MN NICE members on a field trip where we
learned about gangsters in St. Paul during the 1920's-30's.


Which meant I hadn't seen Chawna since before my husband was diagnosed with cancer. She was sweet and kind to ask how I was doing, and I quickly responded that we were doing fine, that my husband had recovered from surgery, that he was taking his medication (albeit with some grumbling), and that we were good.

To which she asked again, "But how are you doing?"

It's so easy to answer, "I'm fine." But I knew Chawna wasn't going to settle for that. Her question reminded me of something that had been going on during that time, and I relayed it to her, because as a writer, she would understand.

When my husband was first diagnosed, Cancer Fog hit my brain. Writing fiction seemed an impossibility. I couldn't think beyond doctors and diagnoses and decisions about things I never wanted to discuss.

But I was on deadline. I needed to finish a novella. So I forced myself to sit down and write.

However, when I did, I couldn't remember what I'd written the day before, couldn't remember where I was going with this scene. I felt I was wandering in a fog, trying to hold myself together and finish this project, wondering if it made any sense at all. I usually have great clarity when I write, am immersed in the project, and have a hard time pulling out of my fictional world to return to reality. Not so this time.



Thankfully, I made my deadline, though this was the most difficult novella I have ever written. And I began the wait for edits. Word trickled back that other authors had received their edits, but weeks passed and nothing for me. I worried and wondered, and I waited. (While I waited, I wrote a proposal for a new story and submitted it, and I began work on another project.)

And as time passed after turning in the manuscript, I was able to focus better, to put words into sentences, to create stories. As things settled down, I was able to write with more ease again. Huge relief!

And yet, what about my novella, Win, Place, or Show? I really wanted to ask for it back so I could read it with a clearer mind and heart and try to polish its rough spots. To explain to the editor that I had been under great stress and that it might not be ready...

By this time, seven of the nine authors had received their edits. I was trying to mentally prepare myself for mine...and then, they arrived. I sat and stared at my inbox. I didn't want to let my fellow authors in the collection down, and I didn't want to let my agent and publishing house down...but I couldn't even remember writing some parts of the story...Oh, stop fretting and open the email!

I was grateful to see that the project had been given to JoAnne Simmons, one of my favorite editors on the planet. She is above all kind, so I knew she would be gentle with my little disaster of a novella.

But when I opened the document, much to my surprise, beyond a few typos and forgotten words (I tend to leave out some words when I'm typing quickly) and one minor question at the end that needed a few words of explanation...the novella was complete, coherent, and accepted as is.

I was stunned...and happy...and humbled. Because I know it was a blessing from God, that He had been present in the writing, helping me when I couldn't help myself.

This last six months has been hard, I won't lie. For some writers, their writing is an escape from their real lives. For me, my writing is an extension of my real life. The veil between my actual and fictional worlds is thin. To write a novella on the heels of my life being turned upside down, I needed God's peace and strength...and He gifted me with both.

My novella, Win, Place, or Show, will appear in the Of Rags and Riches Novella Collection this July alongside novellas by Gabrielle, Jaime, and Anne...and some other fabulous writers. All the stories I've had published go on a special shelf together in my office, and I am flooded with gratitude and good memories when I look at them...but I have a feeling that this novella collection will be a reminder of the Goodness of God every time I look at it.





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Question for you...When has God shown up in a big way in your life?

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

The Day Cupid Shot Me - a Pre-#Valentine Story

There was nothing romantic about the day Cupid shot me. It was more like taking an arrow in the behind and then trying to sit comfortably afterward. I despised the man. He was cocky, arrogant, self-assured, goading, sarcastic, black-hearted, villainous, and his blue eyes were so blue they sucked you in like Caa the Snake in Jungle Book. He was, for all sakes and purposes, a pirate.

I must have felt the arrow hit me. That's probably why I was so cranky. He showed up at my church, had the guts to become a co-youth leader in my youth group (effectively stealing my thunder as the cool college-age leader), and stole all my friends--in typical black-hearted pirate fashion. They began to time us. Who could last the longest in the same room together. We made it, on average, twenty minutes. Then one of us would beg our leave and depart. Gladly. There is nothing worse than a pirate crashing the party. And, Cap'n Hook showed up often. Too often.

I drove to work distraught. Did God pick one perfect person for you or could you marry just about any Godly man and it would just be blessed? If God picked one perfect person, what if HE liked the person HE picked, but YOU didn't? I prayed - heartily. Who could I give God as an example of the worst possible person on earth for Him to designate as my future spouse, the father of my children, my hero, my best friend. I thought of Brock. I met him at camp. Physically unattractive - very! - but inwardly a teddy bear of gooey ooze. Ew. I'm not into ooze, but then he'd treat me well. I could grow to love him. Nah. There was one worse. Cap'n Hook. The black-hearted, good-looking, self-assured, priate. Oh, Dear Lord, please. There could be no one worse. No one more horrendous. No one more unwanted.

Have you ever heard what happens when you pray, "Dear God don't send me to Africa?" That's what also happens when you pray, "Dear God, anyone but him." It didn't help that all our friends got married and we lived in a small town. Our Youth Pastor prophesied we'd start dating by default simply 'cause there was no one else around. He was almost right.

I'll never forget the three long weeks when Cap'n Hook tried to redeem himself to me and disappeared to Columbia (yes the country of Guerrillas and drug wars). I wasn't worried about him. No. I was just ... bored. The tension had been removed from my life. The nasty man who picked on me incessantly, offered no compliments, told me the truth with the tact of Stalin, and who had ripped through the sarcastic digs to tell me I had a "nice face". There's compliments for you. A nice face. Guess it could've been worse.


He had the gall to return home. Tan. Blonde. Strong. In a plaid shirt that smelled of spices. With a smile that said he'd missed me too. But we'd never admit it. Never. Ever. Ever. ;)

_______________________________


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 atjaimejowright.com.

Web site: www.jaimejowright.com 
Facebook: www.facebook.com/jaimejowright
Twitter: www.twitter.com/jaimejowright 
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/jaimejowright 
Instagram: www.Instagram.com/jaimejowright 
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/13916081.Jaime_Jo_Wright
Periscope: @jaimejowright

Monday, January 23, 2017

Novella Sneak Peak & Prize Give-Away: A Chautauqua Setting

Anne here. Welcome to a sneak peak into the setting and times for my debut novella coming out in July this year with my fellow bloggers and five other authors! I just turned in edits this week and I'm getting excited to share it with all of you this summer and I want to share a favorite place with you. (no spoilers, I promise!)

Before the days of social media and Google search, there was a national educational movement that started in a tent revival site in Chautauqua, New York in 1874. The Methodist Church used the camp grounds after the tent meetings were finished for summer sessions to educate Sunday School teachers. It was dubbed Chautauqua Institution and soon spread across the nation as an ideal. Chautauqua became known not as a place but as a national movement of summer education where families spent the summers away from the coal polluted smog of the inner cities learning about culture, religion, music, politics, while enjoying the great outdoors.



It's the Chautauqua formed at Northern Michigan's Methodist Bay View Association that is the setting for my upcoming novella. Bay View is a private community of over 400 cottages overlooking Little Traverse Bay on the north side of Petosky. Most of the cottages were built after the Victorian style between 1870's and 1900 and are still maintained today. This example of a Queen Anne style cottage sits in the center of Bay View's campus and I was able to visit there this summer with my parents while attending our family reunion. My mother grew in a town nearby and my grandfather used to open and close the cottages for the season, as well as doing odd jobs for cottagers through the summer season. There are family stories of my great grandmother peddling garden foods and freshly butchered chickens to the resort inns and cottagers.


In the height of the popularity of Chautauqua, Bay View published a nationally read magazine, and opened an academy that boasted more than 700 students at one point. The magazine was used to study places and people, and was used for reading discussion groups. Thus, Chautauqua was somewhat the predecessor of modern day social media and Google searches--it was a place to meet people and learn things!
The setting overlooking the bay brought many northward on steamships and on the railways for summers full of lectures, classes, outdoor activities, and an annual music festival. 
The ideals that formed it were popular enough to draw well known singing groups, circuit speakers, the Custer family, the Hemingway family, vice presidents, suffragettes, and many more northward for the summer.



Can you imagine the center of campus filled with families in 1896? On our walking tour it was amazing to see all the cottages, large and small.



I can't wait to take my readers on a fictional tour of Bay View's Chautauqua in 1896! Hop over to my author page to watch for updates and more tidbits before release day in July. 
Sign up at my website for my newsletter between now and Valentine's Day and win a chance to own a copy of BBC's DVD of Victoria! You can also pre-order copies of Of Rags and Riches Romance Collection from the website. Since Queen Victoria is a topic of discussion between my heroine and my hero, I couldn't wait to share this with readers, plus I'm watching this season one week at a time on my DVR this winter! (holding myself back from gushing over this Gilded Age gem!!)



To enter the raffle: leave a comment on today's blog once you sign up for the newsletter on my website: anneloveauthor.com

Readers:
Have you been to Bay View, Michigan or Petosky?
Have you ever heard of Chautauqua before?
Did you notice one of the top pics shows students learning about Dewy Decimal System--who remembers what that is?! (thank the Lord for Google search, right?!)
-------------
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
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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, Joséphine 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)

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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 atjaimejowright.com.

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!
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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 at: www.anneloveauthor.com
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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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