Monday, October 16, 2017

Happy 5th Blog Year!

Anne here.
It's been 5 years and 1233 blogposts since Jaime and I first launched this blog!!
There has been fiction, laughter, tears, faith, inspiration...and lots of COFFEE!!


We want to humbly thank you all, especially Erica and Gabrielle, for joining us here for the last five years. Erica joined us in November on 2014, and Gabrielle in March of 2015. It is a joy to share this space with you all.

When Jaime and I sat at the Blue Spoon Coffee Shop and brainstormed this blog world, we wanted it to feel like a welcome place around a coffee table, talking about life. Looking back, it's hard to believe:

We've done book reports on over 106 books. Wow. That's a lot!
We've done over 69 author interviews!
We've launched at least 10 new titles between the four of us!

Our first week five years ago, we invited everyone to our "virtual coffee shop" to get to know one another and chat about coffee, fiction, history, and faith.

In the beginning we took turns obsessing over coffee on Coffee Thursday before Jaime introduced a TBT feature for a while since we are history geeks who love yesteryear. We dreamed about our stories and shared our writing processes, our conferences, and introduced amazing authors. Over 25 devotionals morphed into a "Monday's Devo" piece that has featured over 46 additional devotionals. Book Reports transformed to Author Interviews as we got busier with our own writing. We've shared research trips, Erica's museum hops, and Gabrielle's history obsessions. We've shared our lives as writers, moms, wives, homeschool educators, and professionals--sharing our faith journeys through childbirth, miscarriages, birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, college years, weddings, and empty-nesting. Some weeks we feel like we've struck proverbial word-gold with our posts. Other weeks we just feel like its a pile of word-pieces that fall flat on the page of a cyber world of deaf ears. But as writers do, we keep hitting the key board in faith that some good will pour forth.

And best of all, we've shared all this with you, our readers--who've faithfully commented, lurked, prayed, read, and shared lives with us as well. How humbling. You've all made these times over this virtual coffee table....just plain sacred and fun!

We love you and thank you all!
Here's to the next leg of this journey!

Happy 5th birthday CoffeeCups&Camisoles!!
Jaime, Anne, Erica, & Gabrielle
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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.
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Friday, October 13, 2017

Writing a Spin Off

Erica Here:

Last week I turned in the edits for Prescription for Love, part of the First Love Forever Novella Collection coming out in 2018.


The hero of the story, Phin Mackenzie, is a character I created almost a decade ago. He featured in my book: Light To My Path, the second in the Colorado Dawn series.


Phin was a child, an orphan, and an expert pick-pocket. He was street-smart, cocky, and craving a family and stability. He had a huge chip on his shoulder, and he had a huge capacity to love and care for others.

When I created him way back then, I had a few fleeing thoughts as to how he might've turned out as an adult, what might've happened to him once he got the love and stability that he needed in his life, but...other stories intervened, other deadlines, other characters.

And, I'd never written a spin-off before. Not really. I'd written books in a series. All my stories written for Heartsong Presents are three book series. The North Star Brides trilogy is about three brothers living in Duluth in 1905 and centers around Great Lakes Shipping. The Idaho Brides trilogy is about three cowboy brothers living in Southwest Idaho. And Colorado Dawn is three stories set in a fictional mining town high in the Rockies. Each series had settings and characters in common.

But a spin off novella would be different. When I was approached about writing for the First Loves Forever collection, for some reason, Phin popped into my head first thing. Here was my opportunity to explore what had happened to that stubborn, fiercely-protective, loyal little kid.

The setting would be different. Phin would be a grown man. He would have become a doctor (as someone in Light to my Path had suggested.) And he would need to have a woman from his past come knocking on his door. (Because that was the theme of the collection. Reunion romances.)



So, pretty much everything in the story would be brand new, except Phin and his back-story. Only one other character from Light to my Path appears in the new story, though some are referenced to give the reader a peek into what happened to them in the intervening years.

After deciding these few things, the next task was to read. To read Light to my Path. After all, it has been a decade almost since I wrote it, and I would need to refresh my memory as to the details, to reacquaint myself with Phin and his back story.

I was reminded again of Phin's loyalty, his intelligence, and his fear of abandonment. All of these things helped make him the perfect hero for a reunion romance, since having he heart broken by the woman he loved would call into doubt all the things he valued most. And having her come crashing back into his life would cause the protective walls he'd erected around his heart and life to shake.

All in all, I really enjoyed taking a child from a previous story and 'growing him up.' Having a glimpse into his past to mold his future self.

And I'm looking forward to trying another spin-off if I get the chance!

How about you? Do you like a good spin-off story? Do you enjoy when an author takes a kid from a previous book and writes a story of them as an adult?



ERICA VETSCH can’t get enough of history, whether it’s reading, writing, or visiting historical sites. She’s currently writing another historical romance and plotting which history museum to conquer next! You can find her online at www.ericavetsch.com and on her Facebook Page where she spends WAY TOO MUCH TIME! www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/  

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Ten Qualities Every Fictional Hero Should Have

Erica here: How about those fictional heroes???



Heroes. One of the many reasons we love to read romances. Those dashing heroes! But what is it about them that we love? Is there something that they have in common that makes them appealing? This is something that's been rolling around in my head for awhile, and here is my (Non-exhaustive!) list, along with some of the templates that have inspired some of the heroes I've created.

1. A Sense of Humor. For me, a hero has to have a sense of humor, even if it's buried deeply or he's reluctant to show it. Wry, witty, dry, light-hearted, it doesn't matter the type, but it has to be there. He has to be able to laugh at the absurdities of life.


Ben Wilder - The Cactus Creek Challenge
Ben is probably the most lighthearted hero
I've ever written. He loves a good joke, and he can
see the humor in just about any situation. He even
takes an exploding outhouse and a tea party in
the jail in his stride.

2. A Purpose. To be a hero, a man has to want something, has to have a reason for existing. He can't just aimlessly wander through life letting stuff happen. He has to make things happen.

Branch Kilborn - Guard Your Heart7 Brides for 7 Texas Rangers
(Coming early 2018!)
Branch is all about being a Texas Ranger.
It's what gets him up in the morning, and it's
what drives him, even when others
might quit.
3. A Code. A fictional hero has to have a code of conduct that he believes in and that governs his life. As a reader, you don't have to agree with every aspect of this code, but it has to be there. He has to know right from wrong, and this code has to provide some of the conflict in his life. Things he wants to do but can't, because it would be wrong...things he wants to prevent or avenge, too. And things he must do because they are right, even if...or especially if...it costs him something in the end.

Bear - A Bride for Bear
The Convenient Bride Collection

Bear has to take in three little girls,
because to do otherwise would violate his
personal code...but doing it will cost
him his freedom.

4. Integrity. A true hero has integrity. He does the right thing, even when no one is watching. He is honest in his dealings with others, and he is honest with his emotions. Not manipulative, not scheming, not devious.

Elias Parker - His Prairie Sweetheart
Elias looks out for the new schoolmarm,
even though he knows she is unsuitable for
the job, and that if he doesn't help her, she
will return whence she came all the sooner.
5. Ability. A true hero is good at something, and usually in a way that no one else is. He has a special talent or personality trait that makes him stand out from the rest of the cast. This can be a unique occupation, or it might be something like his relentless pursuit of justice.

Max Kirkland - The Archaeologist's Find
The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection

Max is an Egyptologist, tops in his field. He's
tasked with curating the new exhibit for the
tomb he discovered in Egypt. He's the only
man for the job. 
6. Compassion. A true hero has a soft heart buried somewhere within his broad chest. Something gets to him, whether it's children, animals, the poor, or someone who is in a bad place where he's been himself. He can't be an emotional thesaurus in blue-jeans, because that's not how men are made, but he also can't be an emotional blank slate. He has to feel, and he has to feel compassion in order to be truly heroic.

Thomas Beaufort - The Bounty Hunter's Baby
Turns out Thomas is a sucker for a newborn.
And I'm a sucker for a big, strong man
holding a newborn! Swoon!

7. Appeal. Our heroes don't have to be handsome...though it is helpful if the heroine finds him so...but there has to be something appealing about them. It might be their gruff voice, or the green flecks in their blue eyes, or the way they always hold a door open for a lady. Nobody wants to read a romantic story about a man with bad teeth, a mean streak, or who is lazy. Make him desirable!

Oscar Rabb - A Child's Christmas Wish
(Coming out next month!!!!)
Oscar's obvious love for his daughter, his
devotion to his dead wife, and his strong, steady
personality are all appealing! Not to mention,
he's...dreamy!


8. A Good Weakness. Heroes need to have weaknesses that the heroine can see and feel a desire to help him with. A personality trait that she can help balance out. This is something that, if taken to an extreme, can prove to be the hero's Achilles heel.

Gard Kennedy - Win, Place, or Show
Of Rags and Riches Collection

Gard is a horseman, and he puts the needs
of his horses above his own. He needs
someone to show him that a love of horses
and a love of a good woman aren't
mutually exclusive.


9. A Bad Weakness. Heroes cannot be perfect. They cannot be the very embodiment of Prince Charming with no flaws, no lies they believe, no weaknesses that trip them up. That kind of hero is so...very...boring! The reader has to be able to identify with the hero, with his flaw, and how he (and the heroine) work to overcome it.

Bowie Hart - Love at Last
7 Brides for 7 Texans

Bowie was wounded and captured at
Gettsyburg, and he believes both his
disfigurement and incarceration made
him unworthy of the love and esteem of
others. His pride and self belief trip him up,
and he needs the love of a good woman
and his brothers to prove him wrong.

10. A Need. Heroes can be capable, but they can't be entirely self-sufficient. They have to need the heroine in their life. This can take a lot of forms, whether they have a concrete need of her to do something for them, or whether they have an emotional need of someone to love and protect, someone to love them. Or it can be both! In fact, it makes for a better story if it's both!

Elliot Ryder - My Heart Belongs in
Fort Bliss, Texas

Elliot is compiling a journal on
medicinal medicines of Native
Americans, and he needs someone to
provide illustrations. That's where the heroine
comes in. He also needs someone to help
him raise the twins he's inherited. That's ALSO
where the heroine comes in.


These are a few of the qualities that I believe all great fictional romance heroes possess...what do you think? What would you add to the list?

ERICA VETSCH can’t get enough of history, whether it’s reading, writing, or visiting historical sites. She’s currently writing another historical romance and plotting which history museum to conquer next! You can find her online at www.ericavetsch.com and on her Facebook Page where she spends WAY TOO MUCH TIME! www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/  


Monday, October 9, 2017

Rest vs. Control

Erica here:

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I attended a concert put on by Matthew Smith from Indelible Grace. Indelible Grace is a community of musicians from Nashville who write new music to centuries old hymns. The concert was great, and I was challenged by singing the familiar words in an unfamiliar setting. Isn't it interesting how doing the same-old, same-old can desensitize us. We can sing Amazing Grace without really focusing on the power and truth of the words.


But while the concert was refreshing and reviving, it was something Matthew said that really sent a shaft to my heart. He said that for a long time, he had been striving to find rest. To be still. To be quiet.

After all, rest is a Biblical principle and promise:


Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.



Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.



Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.



But Matthew Smith confessed, and my heart confessed right along with him, that what he wanted when he said he wanted rest, was in fact....

Control.


Rest could only happen when everything was under control. My control. Then I could be still, then I could be quiet. Then I could rest.

How deluded has my heart been? If I am striving for control, then I am not trusting that God is in control, or that His control has my best interests at heart. If I cannot rest knowing God is in control, then my faith in His ability is small, and I am attempting to put myself behind the wheel.

There is no rest there. True rest only comes when I bring all those cares and concerns to Jesus, give them over into his care, keeping, and control, and accept the gift of rest that he offers. Rest cannot be found elsewhere. Only in Jesus.

To learn more about Matthew Smith and Indelible Grace, visit http://www.igracemusic.com/



Quiet Hymns is the outpouring of Matthew's struggle to receive that rest from the Lord. You can learn more about the album by using the link below.





ERICA VETSCH can’t get enough of history, whether it’s reading, writing, or visiting historical sites. She’s currently writing another historical romance and plotting which history museum to conquer next! You can find her online at www.ericavetsch.com and on her Facebook Page where she spends WAY TOO MUCH  TIME! www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/  

Friday, October 6, 2017

Mrs. Oswald Chambers - The Woman Behind the Devotional

I (Jaime) have to say, in full admission, I'm not a huge reader of non-fiction. But Oswald Chambers greatly impacted my life. When I was graduating, an older woman in my church gifted me a copy of My Utmost for His Highest. While vintage in nature, it peeked my interest primarily for the depth in the short daily devotionals. And Chambers pulled no punches.

Confession: I always wondered what type of woman would be married to man like that.

Now I shall find out!

Join me today as I welcome a dear friend and agency-mate, Michelle Ule, who is the author of the latest book Mrs. Oswald Chambers.




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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?

My latest release is a biography called Mrs. Oswald Chambers: The Woman Behind the World’s Bestselling Devotional.

(That devotional, by the way, is My Utmost for His Highest).

I became interested in Biddy Chambers’ life after I wrote a WWI novel that involved Biddy and her husband Oswald as “marquee” characters—real people who appeared as themselves in a novel.

That book hasn’t been sold yet, but over the course of my research, I realized what an interesting character Biddy was (not to mention she stole a couple scenes and changed several plot points) and wondered why no one had ever written about her.

As my 8th grade history teacher said, “real life is often more incredible than fiction and true to boot.” Biddy’s life story had many challenges and twists and made for a fascinating tale.

Tell us about the setting of the story and why you chose that particular spot/area/region:

I didn’t have any choice in a biography, of course, but other than two trips to America and World War I in a YMCA camp in Egypt, Biddy lived her whole life near London, 1883-1966.

We’re currently acknowledging the 100th anniversary of the awful “Great War,” and there are many political parallels with modern life. It’s also a time period that set up the world for World War II (which had a marked effect on Biddy’s life) and present day Christianity.

Most people don’t know that Oswald Chambers basically led a revival among Australian and New Zealand troops during WWI, and that all of his books were published after his death. Biddy was left a penniless widow with a toddler in Egypt during a world war—a place dangerous with illness, insects and bad water in a time before antibiotics were invested.

When she returned to England in 1919, she chose following God over security and founded her own boutique publishing house 80 years before self-publishing became popular.

From her sacrifices came 30 books which have influenced Christianity up to today, including the devotional My Utmost for His Highest, which has never been out of print in 90 years.

 What is the primary spiritual theme of your book?

The major theme of Mrs. Oswald Chambers is how choosing to follow God’s will despite logic or even common sense can result in a contented life lived to God’s utmost glory. It’s about how God uses what Oswald called “haphazard” experiences to produce astonishing results that benefit the Kingdom of God. It’s also about a woman’s conviction that God never makes mistakes, which provides an encouraging example to all of us.
  
How did you determine what names to give your characters?

The original title of this biography was Beloved Disciple, because that’s the nickname Oswald Chambers gave Gertrude Annie Hobbs when he met her. His favorite sister was named Gertrude and he needed to differentiate them in his mind. He’d obviously seen Gertrude Hobbs’ commitment to God.

Beloved Disciple obviously is a mouthful, so he quickly shortened it to B. D. which morphed to Biddy and that’s what everyone called her for the rest of her life!

Which sub-character is your favorite and why?

The major secondary character in Mrs. Oswald Chambers was her only child, Kathleen. Every mother knows that a child changes how your life runs and what your focus needs to be, at least when they are young.

Within her busy life—she ran a Bible Training College with Oswald right after their marriage until they were to Egypt with the YMCA—it was easy for her to leave the child tending to well-meaning friends. Oswald and others challenged her that only she could be Kathleen’s mother.

That sat in her heart and was the impetus to several unlikely decisions she made over the course of her life—and ultimately led to the writing of My Utmost for His Highest.

Most of what we know about Biddy and Oswald’s life together comes through their opinionated daughter who sat for a series of interviews when she was 78 years-old!


Is there a back story to your book that helps the reader set the stage before opening to the first page?

The prologue sets the stage for the book—in it Oswald and Biddy enter St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and stop before a famous painting not far from the altar: The Light of the World.

There, Oswald proposed to Biddy by spelling out if she married him, their home would be meager, with their lives “going heart and soul into literary and itinerating work for Him. It will be hard and glorious and arduous.

This scene sparked the question—why would anyone accept such a proposal? Who was she?


Moving on from your story, tell us a little about yourself. We’ll help! What literary character is most like you and why?
 
Like Biddy, I’ve followed a man to unusual places (my husband is a retired naval officer), I’ve been the landlady to close to 20 people not related to us over the years of our marriage. I’m a writer who types fast (Biddy “took down” words in pencil on a pad at 250 words per minute, or twice as fast a normal person speaks), I have smart children and I love God.

Oh, do you mean in the literary world at large?

This was a fun question from that angle. I’ve decided on a mixture of three: Anne Elliot (Persuasion-- because people tell me things all the time), Hermione Granger (Harry Potter stories-- because she can't help herself as knowledge show off) and Rhoda of the Bible (Because she got so caught up in reporting the news, "Peter is here!" She foolishly slammed the door in his face and ran off to announce it!)

My husband, at least, has confirmed Mrs. Bennett is not the answer. There's a relief!


What hobby do you enjoy in your “free” time (‘cause we know you have tons of free time!)

I read a lot, of course, and I love to travel. I’ve been to the location of most of my book (just not Egypt, alas, which probably will never happen now).

Tell us about your pets (if you have some)!

Our 21 year-old Tortoiseshell cat Kali died in the spring and for my husband’s September birthday, we got an adorable Russian blue kitten named Tasha. We haven’t had a kitten since the last century, so this has been exciting. “Hey, sheath those claws!”  J

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 friend Lynn Vincent once said there’s no point in writing a book if it doesn’t nudge a person closer to God. Obviously, my Christian world view is part of every published book I’ve written (which includes five historical novellas), but is even more on display in Mrs. Oswald Chambers—since faith is the center of her life.

This book required an extensive knowledge of Scripture to be able to interpret some of the choices both Oswald and Biddy made in their lives. The final chapter, in particular, took a great deal of prayer and thought of how to write. Biddy’s final challenge involved losing her mind at an advanced age—what does that mean in the context of a life already sacrificed to God?

Ultimately, I came to the basic truth about God—that our relationship to God is not dependent upon our mental status, but is also the result of Jesus’ death on the cross. That’s given me a better understanding of what it means to be a follower and who really is in charge?


Because Jaime has some darker elements to her split-time historical and contemporary romantic suspense coming out this year, she likes to ask weird questions. So, if you were to find yourself stranded in a creepy old house at night, who would you want with you to keep you company?

My husband, of course, were you looking for a literary answer?

How about Pollyanna, who can always think of things to be glad about?  LOL

 Anne, Erica, and Gabrielle both write sweet historical romances. How does romance influence your own writing?

My husband is the hero of every book, of course.  J

Seven of my eight published books (all save Utmost Ongoing, which is a book of essays) have romance as an element. The surprise in Mrs. Oswald Chambers was how romantic Oswald was and the depth of emotion in some of his letters. I occasionally felt like a voyeur . . .

Romance allows a sometimes great play and description of emotions and most people are happy to have the romantic corner of their life reminded, tickled, or touched for good feelings. 

And for some extra fun . . .

If you could pick one superhero to save you from impending doom, who would it be and why?

Mrs. Incredible—because I’ve always respected her stretching abilities, good humor and recognition of what is truly important in the world.  J

If you could guest star in one TV show, what would be and what would your ideal role be?

Poldark . . . a French Huguenot refugee who encourages Demelza and Ross to talk out their differences rather than act them out!  (I’ve read all the books, I can make up my own character—which is what I always did as a child!)

Name one significant heirloom or keepsake you have and why it’s important to you:

My grandmother’s 1900 organ—a gift to her from her grandmother after she was caught too many times entering neighborhood homes when their owners were out, just so she could play.
  
We’d love you have you share a snippet from your novel to entice us and hook us! J Please share something below:

The fog gathered quietly in the moist winter night above London’s Thames River. Born of cold air, the murky cloudiness deepened and thickened as it moved over the water toward land. It crawled up the river banks north and south and cloaked feeble gas street lamps struggling to push back the dark.
As dawn broke and the sun rose, the fog and coal smoke mixture--first called “smog” in 1905--turned yellowish brown with a smoky, acidic smell. For young and old people suffering from inflamed lungs or fragile hearts, the sooty particulates swelled air passages and gripped their chests.
One 1895 winter’s day, the smog wisped through the massive Royal Arsenal walls ten miles east of Big Ben on the Thames River. It drifted by the Royal Army barracks and slipped along Woolwich’s narrows streets to a townhouse set behind a flower garden: # 4 Bowater Crescent.
            The smog’s microscopic particles slid under the door and found twelve year-old Gertrude Annie Hobbs. Her lungs seized into air-sucking spasms.

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Are you all as hooked as I am? I'm going to scoop up a few copies for some special women in life for Christmas presents. This is the type of book that will encourage your faith and inspire you with a strong woman who ended well!

Baker page has all the buying links: http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/mrs-oswald-chambers/384330  and here is Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mDPQsF  

Michelle is graciously offering a copy to a blessed winner! (Altho you'll have to wait a bit to receive it as it's not released until October 17th). Enter to win!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Interview & #Giveaway with Author Amy Sorrells

I'm (Jaime) pleased to host Amy Sorrells today! I love LOVE LOVE introducing you all to new authors and I don't believe you'll be disappoint here at all :) Not to mention, Amy is giving away a copy of her novel too, so don't miss out on that!

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You’ve had a new release! Can you share a little bit about it and how you first hatched the idea for this story?

This story was inspired by the story of King David’s daughter Tamar, whose devastating story is told in II Samuel 13. I had a conversation with God about why, after Tamar was raped by her brother, all the Bible says afterwards is that she “went on to live in desolation.”

I know God doesn’t want broken people to live in desolation, and that He wants—indeed, promises—we can live in joy and freedom. And so, while careful to say I am in no way “adding to the Bible,” I wanted to imagine what Tamar’s life might have been like, if she could experience the freedom and loving-kindness offered by Jesus. I set the story in more modern times to make it more relatable, and that’s how my novel was born.



What special research did you need to do for this novel and did you enjoy it or find it laborious?

I have reams of research I did for this story, yes! In fact, research is probably my favorite part of writing novels.

First of all, I knew nothing about pecans or pecan farming, except that I have always been enamored with the pecan farms we drive past when we vacation along the Alabama gulf coast. So I studied pecan books and farming blogs, watched tons of YouTube videos on pecan farming and cultivating and harvesting, and even befriended a family of pecan farmers in Southwest Alabama. They were graceful enough to read and early version and endorse it for me.

But pecans weren’t the only thing I researched. I had to make sure I had the right makes and models of cars that would be around in 1979; who was on the cover of magazines for scenes at the beauty shop; songs that were popular during that era; clothing; cotillion rules; square dance moves and songs; the oceanic biology of a jubilee; area tornado events and patterns; Hurricaine Frederic details (including phone interviews with area residents), plants and birds and fossils common to the area, and more. I had about five times as many pages of research as I did story by the time it was all said and done. 

What is the primary spiritual theme of your book, and if that’s not applicable, what do you hope readers take away from reading your novel?

The primary spiritual theme of How Sweet the Sound is definitely redemption. In the story, two terribly wounded women choose to react to their pain in two completely opposite ways. One “does everything right” on the outside but remains miserable on the inside. The second woman finds ways to embrace her pain and listen for Abba. The good news is, there’s grace overflowing for both of them, but whether or not they realize that grace determines the positive or negative impact they have on family and friends around them.

Though I didn’t set out for them to be, by the end of the book I realized the Harlan family is everyone’s family. They’re respectable, even admirable on the outside. But behind closed doors, great wounds and secrets fester, running deep and unchanging through generations unwilling to acknowledge the need to change and heal. But like the pecan trees in the Harlan family orchards, eventually the seasons call us to change and grow, and we all can, with Abba’s grace, if we’re willing.

Here’s a synopsis:

Wealth and etiquette can hide a lot of things in the South, as the esteemed Harlan family of sleepy Bay Spring, Alabama, knows. But behind the gentle facade of white pillared porches and acres of cultivated pecan orchards, family secrets smolder.

Young Anniston Harlan cares little for high society and the rigid rules and expectations of her grandmother, Princella. She finds solace working the orchards alongside her father and grandfather, and relief in the cool waters of Mobile Bay.

Anniston’s aunt, Comfort Harlan, has never quite lived up to the family name, or so her mother
Princella’s ever-apparent scowl implies. When she gleefully accepts the proposal of her longtime boyfriend, Solly, a flood tide of tragedy ensues that strips Comfort of her innocence and unleashes generations of family secrets, changing the Harlan family forever.

While Comfort struggles to recover, Anniston discovers an unlikely new friend from the seedy part of town who helps her try to make sense of the chaos. Together, they and the whole town of Bay Spring discover how true love is a risk, but one worth taking.

Moving on from your story, tell us a little about yourself. We’ll help! What literary character is most like you and why?

I’m not sure whether this is good to admit, but I definitely feel most like Scarlett O’Hara. She was brave but broken, did a lot of dumb things but also a lot of heroic things, had a lot of passion that did a lot of good when she focused it on the right things, and she wasn’t afraid to fight for what was right.


What hobby do you enjoy in your “free” time (‘cause we know you have tons of free time!)

I am crazy about DIY projects around the house. In particular, I am head-over-heels about the farmhouse-style craze. I live in the suburbs, but I’ve always longed to live on a farm. Since that’s not a possibility, I decided I can pretend I live on a farm by making the inside look like one. I’m working on our master bathroom right now. It’s been going pretty well, except for the other day when we accidently sawed a hole into the hot water main. (Thankfully, the plumber was scheduled to come the next day.)



Tell us about your pets (if you have some)!

We have three golden retrievers who are absolutely delightful. Zoe, who is 12, and Jaxson and Buddy, who are both six (although from different litters). Somewhere along the line, my husband and I lost our minds and convinced ourselves each of our three sons needed their own dog. Although crazy to outsiders, this has actually turned out to be a blessing. Few things make a disastrous day better than three, eighty-pound creatures thinking and behaving as if you’ve hung the moon just for them.


And for some extra fun . . .


If you could guest star in one TV show, what would be and what would your ideal role be?

I would love to play the role of Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie.

Name one significant heirloom or keepsake you have and why it’s important to you:

I am a packrat, so I have many. But I have to say it is a blue topaz stone cut by my grandfather, who was a hobby lapidarist. The stone is actually featured on the cover of my novel, Then Sings My Soul.



·       Readers can get to all my social media sites, including Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and twitter, by visiting amyksorrells.com

The following link provides readers with a way to find How Sweet the Sound at all their favorite retailers: https://www.tyndale.com/p/how-sweet-the-sound/9781496426130


AND! Don't forget to enter the giveaway! :)


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Monday, October 2, 2017

Buh-Bye Summer, Hello Autumn

About two seconds before Peter Pan
 took a dive into the water -- accidentally!
Did anyone else catch a glimpse of summer as it went sprinting past? I barely did. But what a fun summer it was. I took a few weeks off of writing to play with the kiddos. We spent a lot of time in the in-laws swimming pool wrestling, launching water grenades, and sunning ourselves. CoCo insisted on helping me plot my third novel for Bethany House, so we spent hours naming characters, planning their quirks, and I seriously think I have a little blossoming psychologist on my hands.

"Beach combing" along the Flambeau River
We also took a family vacation to Northern Wisconsin. It's my husband's childhood stomping grounds and pretty much my favorite place on earth besides Rome. (So similar, eh?). It was great to rest and relax, especially after my stint in the hospital. We all snuggled, fished, swam, hiked, ate brownies, argued, cried, laughed . . . you know . . . all the things families do on vacation right?

Funny how even the negative moments become precious in retrospect. Those struggles that last for a moment, but are ultimately conquered by love and family. Sometimes I sit back and watch my family as they interact and I can almost palpably feel the energy of the love they have for each other. CoCo and Peter Pan, Cap'n Hook to the kiddos, and then me included in the mix. It's a blessing I never want to take for granted but can only credit toward a lifetime of seeking the Lord with all of our hearts.

Heaven on a stick
 So . . . summer is full of pleasant memories. Good family times, traditions, stretching, and resting. Now we enter October with a flourish of fall leaves, chillier winds, sweaters, and of course, coffee. I'm so thankful for another season to pack away in my memory book I store in my heart.

What memories are you storing away this year?










_____________________________________

Jaime Jo WrightProfessional 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.

Friday, September 29, 2017

The Gift of My Twins + Giveaway!



Gabrielle Here:

This week I'm celebrating the arrival of my author copies for The Gift of Twins, my December Love Inspired Historical novel.


On Wednesday, I shared the dedication, which is written to four special friends, but today I thought I'd talk about the twins in the book, Levi and Zebulun Trask.

It's fun to use real people as inspiration for the characters in my novels, and that's just what I did in The Gift of Twins. The book features a set of fraternal twins and I used my own twin boys as a template, from their eye and hair color, to their personalities and mannerisms. I tried to imagine how they might react if they were placed in the same situations as the twins in my story, which was hard to do when life wasn't treating the Trask twins well. By using real people as inspiration for fictional characters, I hope to bring the story to life in a way that resonates with my readers.

The character of Zebulun Trask is inspired by my older twin who is sweet, silly, and compassionate.




The character of Levi Trask is inspired by my second twin who is curious, smart, and likes to be in control at all times.




My boys are now seven, but the twins in the book are five (these pictures were taken when my boys were five). If anyone knows my boys, they won't have a hard time figuring out which one is which in the story. :) 

Here's more about the story:

Unexpected Holiday Blessings

Finding twin five-year-old boys on his doorstep isn’t the first surprise Reverend Benjamin Lahaye has faced lately. Emery Wilkes, the new schoolteacher the town has hired, turns out to be a very pretty woman—not the man they’d been expecting. And though the twins and Emmy are only boarding with Ben until Christmas, the arrangement feels all too natural.

Emmy has moved to Minnesota to put loss behind her. Marriage would mean forsaking her position and her purpose, and Ben is an honorable man who understands her refusal to wed. But as he gets closer to tracking down the little boys’ father, Emmy realizes just how much she wants their sweet temporary family to become permanent.

Your Turn: If you could write a story using real people from your life as templates, who would you use and how would you describe them?

Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win a copy of The Gift of Twins!

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Gabrielle Meyer lives in central Minnesota on the banks of the Mississippi River with her husband and four children. As an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society, she fell in love with the rich history of her state and enjoys writing fictional stories inspired by real people and events.

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Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Book Dedication to Four Special Ladies + Giveaway!


Gabrielle Here:

This week I received a special package in the mail! My December Love Inspired Historical novel, The Gift of Twins. It's a bittersweet moment to hold this book in my hands, because it's my last LIH book and the last in the Little Falls Legacy Series, but it's Ben's story and he finally gets his happily-ever-after! 

It's also sweet, because this book is dedicated to four very special ladies. Beka Swisher (purple coat), Sarah Olson (pink coat), Lindsay LeClair (top row, far right), and Jessica Janski (green hat).




I met these ladies about eleven years ago, because all of them have children the same ages as mine and we became good friends during our years as MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) leaders. Five years ago, when I decided to pursue writing for publication, these ladies were some of the very first people I told. Not only did they cheer me on, they prayed for me, encouraged me, and supported me every step of the way. They were also the first people to read my very first novel, and their words of affirmation propelled me to keep going, even when the road looked daunting.

But what I remember the most is the night before I left for my first writers conference, when they gathered around me, prayed over me, and gave me an envelope filled with letters to read on my plane ride to Dallas, Texas, so I wouldn't have to go alone. I truly felt surrounded by their love and prayers that whole time I was in Texas, and those prayers have stayed with me ever since.

I've been looking forward to this dedication for a long time, and I'm so happy the day has finally arrived. I've already given each of them a copy and told them how much they mean to me--but I don't believe anything I could ever do would repay their greatest gift to me: their unwavering belief in my dream.

Thank you, ladies, for your friendship, love, and support. I hope you enjoy Ben's story as much as I have.


To celebrate, I'd love to give away an early copy of this book! Just fill out the Rafflecopter below!!

Here's more about the book:


Unexpected Holiday Blessings

Finding twin five-year-old boys on his doorstep isn’t the first surprise Reverend Benjamin Lahaye has faced lately. Emery Wilkes, the new schoolteacher the town has hired, turns out to be a very pretty woman—not the man they’d been expecting. And though the twins and Emmy are only boarding with Ben until Christmas, the arrangement feels all too natural.

Emmy has moved to Minnesota to put loss behind her. Marriage would mean forsaking her position and her purpose, and Ben is an honorable man who understands her refusal to wed. But as he gets closer to tracking down the little boys’ father, Emmy realizes just how much she wants their sweet temporary family to become permanent.

Your Turn: Do you have a special group of friends who have helped you believe in a dream? If you could dedicate a book to anyone, who would it be? 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Gabrielle Meyer lives in central Minnesota on the banks of the Mississippi River with her husband and four children. As an employee of the Minnesota Historical Society, she fell in love with the rich history of her state and enjoys writing fictional stories inspired by real people and events.

Find her on Facebook
Find her on Amazon
Find her on Goodreads
Find her on My Website
Sign up for Her Newsletter