Susan Page Davis on her Ladies Shooting Club Series  

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The Blacksmith’s Bravery—third and final book in my Ladies’ Shooting Club series—released November 1. I’m thrilled to see this one on the shelves and a little sad to be leaving the fictional town of Fergus, Idaho behind.
                When I first thought of this series, I wanted to write about a group of strong women who supported each other physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I wanted them to do something usually perceived as a man’s province. That wasn’t hard in the 1880s setting. My ladies wanted to learn to shoot.
                A murder in their town drew the women together out of fear at first. Widow Libby Adams, owner of the emporium, approached Gert Dooley, sister of the town’s gunsmith. She asked Gert to teach her to shoot her late husband’s pistol so that she could protect herself and her store. A rancher’s wife heard them shooting and asked if she could join them. Then the saloon owner, Bitsy Shepard, heard about it, and asked to tag along.
Gert and Libby were faced with some decisions. They could have said no and let it go at that, but they saw women who feared for their children and their own lives—women who had no men to protect them or who felt vulnerable when their men were off tending to their ranches or businesses. Some women were friendless and outcasts of society. Libby and Gert decided to welcome all women into their circle and to teach them all to shoot safely.
Their kindness and generosity brought them much more than they’d imagined. Women in the Shooting Club found friendships and wise counsel in addition to marksmanship.
Of course this upset the men in Fergus. They wanted their women at home in the kitchen, not out shooting up their stock of ammunition. In the first book, the club nearly tore the town apart. But by book 3, things have calmed down a little and most of the citizens have accepted the ladies’ newfound skill as an asset.
In keeping with the theme of the series, in the Blacksmith’s Bravery, saloon girl Vashti Edwards wants to take a further step into a man’s world. She wants to drive a stagecoach. Blacksmith Griffin Bane, who runs the stage line, wouldn’t consider himself intolerant. He just can’t imagine hiring a woman to drive stage. That’s plain crazy. He resists Vashti’s pleas to give her a chance, but finally allows her a toehold because of her shooting skill. She rides shotgun with an older, experienced driver on the Silver City run, and then gets him to teach her the fine points of handling a six-horse hitch.
When Vashti earns her spot on the driver’s box, a new problem arises. A gang of robbers has targeted the local stagecoach line. Once again, the Ladies’ Shooting Club is called upon to face down the outlaws.
I loved writing this series from start to finish. A research trip into the mountains of Idaho was a highlight. I learned so much—like how dangerous those mountain roads are, and how big crickets can get! The writing was spread over about a year for the three books. They stand alone, but as a trilogy they give the reader a full picture of life in this little mining town. The characters carry through from book to book, and you’ll see the romances blossom in fulfillment as you read on.
After the first book (The Sheriff’s Surrender) I received a few comments that the romance moved too slowly. I feel it’s realistic, and Gert and her sheriff do work through their issues and get to the altar in the second book. Her brother Hiram, the shy gunsmith, overcomes his extreme timidity with women and lets his feelings be known in The Gunsmith’s Gallantry. Again you see the fruition of this romance in the next book, while Vashti and Griffin are beginning theirs. I believe I married off four couples in this series, and hinted at a future for another pair. This is historical romance with a dash of mystery and suspense, and a spoonful of growing faith. But it’s not “passion at first sight.” Most of my romantic pairs in the series have known each other for years before acting on their attraction. But their relationships are as solid as the mountains they live in.
If you’d like to read more about this series and my other books, come visit me at www.susanpagedavis.com. Every month I give away a few books there (use the “Enter the Contest” form—I won’t use your address for anything else). I’d love to see you there. Right now I’m working on a new Prairie series about an Englishwoman who goes west to find her uncle. Look for the Prairie Dreams series next fall.
Susan Page Davis


Susan will give one copy of The Blacksmith's Bravery to a commenter on this post. Of all her books, tell Susan which one was your favorite and why. If you haven't read any of her books, that's okay, comment on why you would like to win this one. The drawing will be held on Monday the 22nd. Please be sure to include your email address if it isn't available in your profile.

An Inside Glimpse at the Writing of The Preacher’s Bride  

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The Very Beginning: 
One day as I was reading a biography about John Bunyan, I ran across a reference to his second wife, Elizabeth. I loved the brave way she defended John during one of his trials when he was under arrest for his “unlicensed” preaching.

Elizabeth’s strength to face a court of persecutors and her determination to faithfully support her husband touched me so deeply, I decided her little-known story needed to be told to the world.

The Research & Planning Phase: 
I spent about 6 weeks reading biographies and any other time-period books I could find. I sifted through plot ideas, wanting to stick as closely to the facts as possible but also knowing I would need to dramatize the story to bring it to life.

A large part of my planning involves the process of getting to know my characters. I use an extensive character worksheet (available on my blog for free). I tried to use what history knows about the real characters, but then fill in the rest and make them larger than life.

The Writing: 
I started writing The Preacher’s Bride in September 2007 and finished in May2008—so altogether it took me nine months, writing mostly in the evenings after the kids were in bed and occasionally in the afternoons or on weekends. (Since then, I’ve been able to work out a writing schedule that allows me more regular time.)

The Editing: 
I spent a summer self-editing the book, and eventually I hired a freelance editor to read through it. Her suggestions helped me polish my first chapter so that I was able to final in the ACFW Genesis contest in May of 2009.

The Querying Stage: 
During the months before I finaled in the contest, I had started querying The Preacher’s Bride to agents. I received rejections from all of them except one—Rachelle Gardner. She requested a full manuscript within days of the query, but then my book sat in her slush pile for months.

My contest final perked her attention and not long after that she offered me representation.

The Proposal Shopping Phase: 
Rachelle immediately went to work shopping my book. She pitched the idea to a Bethany House acquisitions editor at a conference she was attending. When she got home, she called me, told me Bethany House was interested, and we got busy writing a proposal to send to them.

We talked back and forth with Bethany House for two to three months before we finally settled upon a 3 book contract. They bought The Preacher’s Bride and also asked me to write two additional books, which I’m currently working on.

Where I’m at now: 
The Preacher’s Bride is currently available for order on Amazon.com, Christianbook.com, and other internet sites. It’s also for sale in most bookstores.

You can connect with me in LOTS of ways. Please stop by and say hi!

Website: JodyHedlund.com
Email: jodyhedlund@jodyhedlund.com
Blog: jodyhedlund.blogspot.com 
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorJodyHedlund
Twitter: http://twitter.com/JodyHedlund

Question For Readers:
Did anything about the start-to-finish writing journey of my book surprise you? If you’d like to sign up to win a free copy of The Preacher’s Bride, please tell us your favorite candy bar (because don’t you know, a writer’s favorite food is always chocolate?!) And don’t forget to leave your email address. The drawing will be held on Monday the 4th of October, 2010.

Bio: Jody Hedlund is a debut historical romance novelist who was a double finalist in the 2009 ACFW Genesis Contest. She received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Midland, Michigan, with her husband and five busy children.

Lionel Alford Talks About His Book Centurion  

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I was always intrigued by the statement of the centurion at the foot of the cross: “Surely this man was the son of God.” Perhaps my interest was because I served in the military and felt that my life was something like that centurion’s. In any case, I always wanted to know more about this military man and his statement. When I read Wallace’s book, Ben Hur and Douglas’s The Robe, I was left with more questions than answers. I wanted to delve deeply into the centurion’s life and know exactly who he was.

I began research into the centurion in the 1990s. Already, I knew his name. In Christian legend, it is Abenadar. He was said to be a man of mixed Roman blood. In early 1995, I wrote a short story about Abenadar. The main character was the woman who lived with him and the setting was their house following the crucifixion. Already I had begun to flesh out Abenadar. I made him a man of mixed lineage: Roman and Jew—otherwise Pilate would not have given the job of the crucifixion to him. He had to speak the languages of the people—again, otherwise Pilate wouldn’t have trusted him with the job. The woman who lived with him had to have been a woman of the streets—no other woman, other than a slave, would be able to associate with a Roman of mixed blood. He had to be competent. He had to be divided somewhat in his mind, but not his loyalties. The picture of Abenadar began to build. The picture of the woman he lived with began to come into focus. In the short story, I made both of them rougher than they ended up eventually, but that story was where the novel began.

I started writing the novel, Centurion, while I was flying in Europe in 1995. The first few chapters flowed. When you write a book about the life of a man, you need to start with his beginning, and the beginning of the centurion’s life was fundamental to his character. To be a member of a Roman Legion, he had to have a Roman father. To know the languages of the people, he needed to have a Jewish mother. Since the Romans, at the time, were attached to Herod the Great’s court in Jerusalem and there was a connection with Tiberius in Galilee, it was easy to build the character of both the centurion’s mother and father. She became a local bride to the Roman ambassador. Her home town was one of the largest in Galilee, Nazareth. From that, it wasn’t difficult to construct a possible interaction between Mary, the mother of Jesus and the mother of Abenadar.

The next step was the most difficult for me. I had to build the entire life of Abenadar. I chose to begin with his great step into the Legion. That was the real beginning of Abenadar as a military man. Years of research was poured lovingly into this portion of the book. It was a necessary and fulfilling step to build up the man who was to become the centurion at the foot of the cross. In the novel, the history about the Legions and about training, promotions, leadership, and structure is exact and exciting. At the same time, I laid the foundation for his loss of faith and his return to faith. He was, after all, a Jewish man in the Roman Legion.

Abenadar moved up the ranks to finally reach the position from which he would be called to play his greatest role in history. He wasn’t a man divided. He wasn’t incompetent. He wasn’t weak or foolish. He was one of Pilate’s favorites and yet a man of mixed lineage. I had not given up on his wife, or rather the woman who lived with him. The why of her existence was coupled with his. It had to intertwine. She had to be Jewish too, but able to live with a Roman Centurion. She had to be a woman of the streets. I chose to make her a woman who desired nothing but a home and stability. She had not lost her innocence in spite of her forced harlotry. She became a much less rough character than I first envisioned. She became the Centurion’s link to Jesus the prophet, the man he must eventually crucify.

So, in a nutshell, there is a part of the journey I made to write Centurion. It took a while and it was difficult, but when the manuscript was finished, it was whole and the men and women in it were whole. It let me understand just who was this man, Abenadar, the man who crucified Christ and who stated “This man was surely the son of God.”

How did Centurion finally get published? The job of finding a publisher was as difficult as the work of writing itself. Centurion was my sixth completed novel and the eighth I started. That means I had the experience of writing eight novels before I started looking for a publisher for Centurion. I started with Christian press and eventually sent it to a Christian reading service that supplied suggestions to Christian publishers. I received two offers to publish from that one input. Unfortunately, my email was toasted and I don’t have the records from back then, but Oaktara (Capstone at the time) made me a great offer and took my other novels into consideration. I never expected an inspirational press to want to publish any of my novels but Centurion. The novel was published by Oaktara in January 2008 after about a year from contract. Four of my other novels were published by Oaktara after that.

L. D. Alford is a novelist whose writing explores with originality those cultures and societies we think we already know. His writing distinctively develops the connections between present events and history—he combines them with threads of reality that bring the past alive. L. D. Alford is familiar with technology and cultures—he is widely traveled and earned a B.S. in Chemistry from Pacific Lutheran University, an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from Boston University, a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from The University of Dayton, and is a graduate of Air War College, Air Command and Staff College, and the USAF Test Pilot School. L. D. Alford is an author who combines intimate scientific and cultural knowledge into fiction worlds that breathe reality. He is the author of three historical fiction novels: Centurion, Aegypt, and The Second Mission, and three science fiction novels: The End of Honor, The Fox’s Honor, and A Season of Honor.

Linda Windsor Claims She Failed Her Way into Being Published.  

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Often when I’m asked about how I got published or how I managed to get twenty-nine books to date in print, I laughingly tell the inquirer that I failed my way to where I am today. That someday, if I ever do a keynote speech, I Failed My Way to Success will be the title. I guess I’ve just been too stubborn—or too stupid—to give up.

I wrote my first romance on a cast iron Royola typewriter with my three and five year old toddling around me back in the seventies. I did everything wrong. I sent it off on erasable paper—smudge city—with hand corrected typos and received an interesting offer from a well-known literary agency. For $350, they would read the manuscript and consider handling it. So for $350 very hard-earned dollars, I received a six page letter. Three pages were glowing with my ability to tell a story. The other three were scathing commentaries on my writing and the romance genre in general for not being literary.

My first advice? Beware of any agent who charges to read your material unless they are hired specifically to edit it. I was told that even if someone were to publish the book, not to come back to said agency because some publishers would print anything. Ouch!

So I sent it to another well-known agency. All ten pounds of it. I’d never heard of queries. In fact, I got this one’s name from the back of a book I’d read and liked. I hadn’t even heard of the Writer’s Market!

This man’s offer and commentary were far more civil and encouraging...and free. First, I was told that if I condensed the first three chapters into one, they would consider marketing it. I was also told that my writing reminded the agent of “wearing a Dior original to a dinner party…with gravy stains on it.” Yikes! I had a Dior original. Gravy stains could come out! Unfortunately, my marriage ended that year and I began life as a single working mom. The two books I’d written went into the attic and would remain in storage for around 15 years.

I’d tossed them in the garbage when my new husband and I were moved into our home, but he found them and asked to read one. It was that dear man who told me, “Hey, this is pretty good and I don’t even read this stuff.” He encouraged me to try again. So I did. And totally rewrote both books, researching deeper and improving them immensely. Thank goodness they hadn’t been published as they were.

So, my very first book came out in 1990 with Zebra Books titled Pirate’s Wild Embrace. (I did not pick the title.) It was released exactly 13 months after the same publisher had rejected it, not a word changed. But the second time it was submitted after my purchasing a Writer’s Market and shot-gunning queries to ten agents and ten publishers, it was by an agent who’d responded to my literary barrage. Zebra had a slot and my completed manuscript filled it. I went on to do another fourteen historicals for Zebra/Kensington and a contemporary for Kismet Romances. I guess one could say they slammed the door on my foot, but I didn’t take my foot from the door.

It was only after I’d sold five books that I discovered there were organizations like Romance Writers of America that would have been so helpful earlier on in knowing the business side of writing. So I learned most of what I’d done wrong after the fact and discovered there was a method to my writing madness by joining writers’ organizations. I also greatly improved my craft through this association.

I could go on and on about the rejections that turned into published books…when the time was right. Every manuscript I’ve ever written has been published, but not when I first wrote it. What can I say? The ideas were good, but it wasn’t their time or my writing level wasn’t right yet. I say this to encourage those of you who hide old manuscripts under the bed not to give up on them.

I failed my way into the inspirational market as well. I didn’t want to write inspirational romance because I’d read a few mediocre ones and judged the genre by the few. But I was four years without a contract from Zebra during the major publisher consolidations of the nineties. And here is an interesting tidbit. Even though authors were getting contracts cancelled and books returned, God saw that I had a book come out every one of those dry years. I’d written so many ahead and Zebra published them all. He even made certain I received wonderful rejection letters about how this project wasn’t what they wanted, but please send something else. In hindsight, He was failing me into the inspirational market. I’d exhausted my secular avenues and that was the only door open.

I went through it kicking and screaming like Jonah going to Ninevah. I’d been happy where I was, successful even…if I didn’t count four years on hold with no contract. Besides, those Christian characters didn’t have hormones! And I wasn’t holy enough to write Christian fiction. I was still a relatively new Christian—actually a returned one from a college/twenty-something period where I’d been educated beyond my spiritual intelligence. Finally I agreed to try. Told God I’d take Hi Honey I’m Home, written for Harlequin American, clean it up and do the best I could, but the spiritual part was up to Him. And please, God, don’t make it preachy.

I have to tell you, as the spiritual parts “came” to me, I found myself crying, deeply moved by what God was doing through me, a total screw-up. When I sent it off with a prayer at the post office, I felt for the first time that maybe God and I were on the same page after all. Maybe He could use me, ex-sexy historical author and baby Christian. And He could use my characters, even if they had hormones.

The book was rejected by Steeple Hill. Hindsight gave me the reason. God knew I still had a foot in the secular door, if I stayed with Harlequin. He knew my weakness. Instead, Hi Honey I’m Home was picked up by Multnomah Publishers as the launch book for their new mass market line. It made the bestseller list for a couple of weeks. But it was the fan letters that bowled me over the most. Yes, this character was still hot, but in addition, that character’s struggle touched someone’s life. A pastor’s wife vowed to renew her efforts to make her marriage work on seeing how hard the hero worked for his family, even though it took him away from them. Another person told me the theme in Not Exactly Eden of rejection and being surrounded, but not despairing had lifted her, a missionary’s daughter whose husband had abandoned her after she was handicapped out of depression. She would not despair.

The books went on and on. My historical Irish series, Fires of Gleannmara, won numerous awards including a Christy, but it didn’t sell well. And I was without a publisher. Yet, the research for that series and for the one beginning with this month’s release HEALER, Book one of the Brides of Alba series, helped me effectively witness to my daughter. She’d been stalked and assaulted in college, abandoned God in anger, and turned to Wicca-white witchcraft. That process, like my career, was not an overnight success, but five or so years later, she came back to Christ on Mother’s Day, one I will never forget.

And I developed a passion for reaching out to New Age believers using the history of the early church and of druidism’s acceptance of it in Ireland to make an effective case for Christ. I call it fishing from the other side of the boat. When they won’t hear Scripture, use history and science to back up Scripture. It got my little girl back in the boat and I have sold my Gleannmara books to admitted Wiccans and New Agers at medieval fairs as a result. What a joy it has been to establish what we have in common and build on it toward Christ.

Today I found out RIONA, the second book of that series will not be re-released. Again, poor sales of that line led to the decision. How does one explain pages of awards, but poor sales? That has been my story with several publishers. Great reviews. Wonderful awards, but sorry, they just didn’t sell as well as we’d hoped.

Yet, I am here to tell you that each time one door closed, God opened another that somehow was even better than the previous one. He keeps moving me from one failure to the next. Actually, the last time it happened, I told my agent I couldn’t wait to see what God had in store.

So now I have HEALER, a book of my heart. The proposal was another one of those secular historicals that morphed over ten years in the back of my mind into a moving inspirational saga set in Arthurian Scotland. HEALER is book one of the Brides of Alba trilogy, Alba being an early name for Scotland. And this is Arthurian Scotland—and King Arthur, for that matter—as never seen before.

The series focuses on three brothers, their respective brides, and how love and faith grow to enable them to survive those trying times of the Saxon invasion and the church's desperate measures to ensure the survival of Christianity. These measures include matchmaking men and women from the Davidic bloodline passed on by royal Irish and the apostolic bloodlines established in Britain by the first century family and followers of Christ. The historic Arthur in HEALER, one of at least two arthurs (a title) and definitely the last one, is a product of such matchmaking. So is the merlin (another title) Merlin Emrys, who in this case is a documented Celtic Christian bishop and druidic scientist. In fact most of the Arthurian figures were bred and raised by the Grail Church to become warriors, kings and queens of Britain to ensure the Grail Church's survival. Brenna and Ronan's conflict is a result of that matchmaking gone wrong.

Forced to live most of her twenty years in hiding from both her own clan and the clan who murdered her family, Brenna of Gowys wonders how she can possibly fulfill her mother’s prophecy that the Gowys seed will divide the enemy O’Byrne’s house and bring about a peace beyond his wicked ken. Brenna’s clan remnant would have her lead them to certain death against the stronger O’Byrnes. But Brenna is a healer, not a warrior. Nor is she the shape-changing wolf-woman of the hills as she’s rumored to be by the superstitious clans; although she does have a gift with wild animals, including her pet wolf Faol.

So when Brenna witnesses the ambush and attempted murder of a warrior during the annual O’Byrne hunt to find the wolf-woman, she does what she’s called to do. She brings him into her mountain hideaway to heal him, even if he could be her enemy. All she knows is that he is not just wounded in body, but in spirit; that he’d been there as a frightened child when her family had been slain; and that she has seen a future with him. But is her faith strong enough to follow the vision, no matter where it leads?

Please stop by my website at www.LindaWindsor.com and check out HEALER and sign up for my contest to give away a signed copy. It’s my first book trailer and I am over the moon with it and the cover. It so captures the essence of HEALER, my twenty-ninth book. Wow. I can’t believe it’s been twenty years since my mother gasped, “Linda, they put your real name on the cover!” of Pirate’s Wild Embrace. She just knew I’d get kicked off the church choir. Fortunately, my fellow Christians were full of grace toward this baby one.



I hope that the writers among you will be encouraged by the “failures” I’ve mentioned. I’ve often said that rejections are like footprints on the sand. If you don’t see them, you haven’t been moving at all toward your dream.

Basking in His love,
Linda Windsor



Laura Frantz Tells How Writer's Edge Helped Her Get a Contract  

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Thanks so much for hosting me today, Lynnette! It’s a joy and privilege to talk about my writing journey though to be honest, I’m still pinching myself. It all began in my childhood when I used to hang around the library and read all those little bios of historical figures. Being a Kentuckian, I was very enamored with Daniel Boone as my ancestors followed him into the area in the late 18th-century. Kentucky history forms the basis for my first 3 historical romance novels – The Frontiersman’s Daughter, Courting Morrow Little, and The Colonel’s Lady.

I’ve been writing stories since age 7, all historical, as that’s my passion. I wrote a novella at age 12 and then the sequel to Gone With the Wind in high school, then Dances With Wolves II and an English mystery, among other things. All of them were just terrible - with a capital T! It only took 40 years for me to take my scribbling to a publishing contractJ. It’s truly a miracle that I am published. I had no computer skills and no computer until the last few years (always wrote manuscripts out longhand), no writing friends, no agent, no writing conferences or connections, no critique partner, was unaware of the writing community blogging, etc. To complicate matters, I was teaching fulltime and married and had my children late, beginning at age 35. After the birth of my second son, I felt the Lord telling me to put my writing aside so I did for 5 years. None of this was conducive to publication, let me tell you. I felt farther from my dream than ever before.

In 2007, after feeling free to write again, I finished The Frontiersman’s Daughter which I had worked on over a ten year period. My grandmother, parents, and brother gifted me with a manuscript evaluation/critique with a wonderful freelance editor, Arlene Robinson. She suggested I tweak a few things and then put her stamp of approval on the manuscript. At the same time, I submitted several chapters to Writer’s Edge, a Christian manuscript submission service, which brings unagented writers and publishers together. Almost immediately I was contacted by several CBA publishers, large and small. Within six months, my dream editor and publisher, Revell/Baker Publishing Group, asked for a full of The Frontiersman’s Daughter. Later I realize how rare this kind of an opportunity is. I’ve heard that only Kristen Heitzmann and I have been picked up through Writer’s Edge.

I’d already begun working on Courting Morrow Little when Revell offered me a 3 book contract. I’d hoped to simply sell one novel so was astonished when they asked for two more. I’d recently finished the sequel to The Frontiersman’s Daughter, which was set in Scotland, but my publisher wanted me to stay on the frontier. I was thrilled to oblige and am now finishing The Colonel’s Lady which is due August 1st.

I think, deep down, that the Lord gifted me to write from an early age. There’s no doubt that He opened the door when the time to publish came about (His timing, not mine). Circumstances were definitely not in my favor. The only things that kept me in the game was a love for writing and the knowledge/belief that if I was ever to be published, He would have to handle all the details. And He did. I’m truly living proof that you don’t need any superfluous writing stuff to get in the door. If publishing is His plan for you, all you really need is Him – and the book of your heart.

I do think being a part of the writing community is very valuable. Last year I joined ACFW and attended their annual conference in Denver. Wow! However, if the Lord had allowed me to become involved in the writing community and see the level of competition and the difficulty of becoming a part of the CBA prior to publication, I think I would have quit. In His mercy and grace He withheld the very things I longed for for my benefit in the long run. I would have always written for myself, of course, for the joy of writing, but I would not have attempted to become a published author. He knew this, of course, and planned accordinglyJ. He is a very wise and personal God.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. ~Proverbs 3:5-6

I’d love to have readers visit me at laurafrantz.net!

Journey to the Seasons of the Tallgrass by Deborah Vogts  

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In April 2008, I received “the phone call” from my agent, Rachelle Gardner, that Zondervan had made an offer on the Seasons of the Tallgrass, a contemporary romance series set in the Flint Hills of Kansas—a place I dearly love. My long-held dream had finally arrived—my prayers had been answered. But the story didn’t begin there…it began many years ago when I attended Emporia State University and took a summer course called Flint Hills Folklore.

Along with classroom study, we took field trips into the heart of the Flint Hills and visited with old-time ranchers, schoolmarms and post-mistresses. It was such a delightful experience, especially our drives into the pastures. We would get on these back roads and drive over pasture guards into the open range. We would travel for miles without seeing another car or even an electric line—just pure, native prairie. That summer, I fell in love with the Flint Hills and it has stayed with me all this time, finally culminating in the contemporary romance series, the Seasons of the Tallgrass.

My first book, Snow Melts in Spring, begins when a horse is terribly injured. Right off, I had to know technical terminology and had to create a scene that was accurate and believable. To get it right, I contacted a handful of veterinarians, asked them a bunch of detailed questions all the way down to possible accident scenarios, which would create the type of injuries required for the story. I even shadowed one small animal vet for a day in order to get a feel for what a "day in the life" might look like for my character who was also a vet.

My hero in this book is an NFL quarterback, so I also had to know something about football. For this research, I went to the children's section of the library and checked out an armload of books. I also watched a lot of football games on television and asked my football-loving friends and family hundreds of questions--all so I could write two or three scenes with authenticity.

On one of my many road trips into the Flint Hills, my husband and I stayed at the Clover Cliff Ranch, a Bed & Breakfast owned by Jim & Joan Donahue. This place became the basis for the McCray's Lightning M Ranch.

For Seeds of Summer, which released the end of May, I learned about the Miss Rodeo America competition because my main character, Natalie Adams is a former Miss Rodeo Kansas and first runner up Miss Rodeo America. My research for this story included visiting with those at the Miss Rodeo America headquarters, as well as interviewing and questioning the current MRA at that time, Miss Amy Wilson, Miss Rodeo America 2008.

The highlight of this research occurred when I met and visited Amy at her home in Colby, KS. Amy was a joy to work with and is such a lovely person. My visit to her home was an unexpected blessing, as she shared some special moments from her time as Miss Rodeo Kansas and then as Miss Rodeo America.

I learned that Miss Rodeo America has a host of sponsors who shower their queen with lovely gifts, some of which include: a wardrobe of Wrangler Jeans, Justin Boots, Bailey Hats, fully tooled Court’s Saddle with custom Miss Rodeo America conchos and an official Miss Rodeo America trophy buckle from Montana Silversmiths. Accompanying the perpetual Miss Rodeo America tiara made by Landstrom’s Original Black Hills Gold Creations, Amy was given a wardrobe of matching jewelry. These items, along with other prizes were presented to her throughout her reign. To see some pictures of these items, please visit my blog post HERE: http://deborahvogts.blogspot.com/2009/07/visit-with-miss-rodeo-america-2008-amy.html

Seeds of Summer Book Blurb: When opposites attract, sparks fly--like an electrical malfunction. That's what happens when former rodeo queen Natalie Adams meets the new pastor in Diamond Falls. A heart-warming contemporary romance set in the Flint Hills of Kansas where a former rodeo queen abandons her dreams in order to care for her deceased father’s ranch and her two half-siblings, only to realize with the help of a young new pastor that God can turn even the most dire circumstances into seeds of hope. Spanning the Seasons of the Tallgrass, each story in this series reveals the struggle of the people who live there and the dreams they have for the land until they come full-circle in a never-ending cycle, just as man comes full-circle in his understanding of God.

Author Bio: Deborah Vogts and her husband have three daughters and make their home in Southeast Kansas where they raise and train American Quarter Horses. As a student at Emporia State University studying English and journalism, Deborah developed a love for the Flint Hills that has never faded. In writing this series, she hopes to share her passion for one of the last tallgrass prairie regions in the world, showing that God’s great beauty rests on the prairie and in the hearts of those who live there.
Visit Deborah at her web site: http://deborahvogts.com
Or her Country at Heart blog: http://deborahvogts.blogspot.com 

Carla Stewart Shares How She Received Over 40 Rejections Before Chasing Lilacs Was Picked Up!  

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A two-time ACFW Genesis winner, Carla Stewart is a Guideposts Writers Workshop alumna and has been published in Guideposts, Angels on Earth, and several regional magazines and anthologies. Her debut novel, Chasing Lilacs, releases in June 2010 with FaithWords. Carla enjoys a good cup of coffee, weekend getaways with her husband, and the antics of their six grandchildren.


Hi there,
My name is Carla Stewart. Thanks for allowing me to share a little about my writing journey and to introduce you to my first book, Chasing Lilacs.

Like most writers, the first book I wrote didn’t get published, although I had a lot of fun writing it because I was blissfully ignorant of things like too much description and starting with back story. I marched off to a conference and by some quirkly turn of events, an editor requested the full. He pointed out some of the major flaws, but ended with these words: “You have an engaging voice.” That bit of encouragement was all I needed. I concentrated on learning the craft and building a writing resume by entering contests and writing magazine articles and finding publication in anthologies. This, too, was fun, but I longed to write the novel of my heart.

The idea for Chasing Lilacs sprang from childhood curiosity—the occasional whisper of someone who’d had a nervous breakdown or shock treatments. Not only were these taboo topics for conversation in the 1950s, I later learned that the ailments themselves were often misunderstood and not always treated properly. As a writer, I wanted to explore what it might have been like for an adolescent girl from that era to have a mother with these problems.

The setting is similar to the one where I grew up in the Texas Panhandle: a close knit petroleum camp where neighbors helped one another and kept an eye on everyone’s kids. It was a more carefree time, almost magical, and I hope I’ve portrayed some of that feeling—Elvis on the radio, poodle hair cuts, endless hot summers, Grapette in a bottle.  

I began the story in 2004 and had only written a few chapters when I joined a critique group. They loved the story and helped me with so many things—writing craft, finding the heart of the story. Once I had a solid start, I entered two regional contests and received  second place awards in both of them. At this point, the novel wasn’t finished, but over a long summer, I did get it completed and began querying agents as this was the route I felt God was telling me to take. Six months later I had more than forty rejections and wondered if I would ever be published. 

About that time I heard about ACFW and joined my local group. I decided I would give my story one more try by having a paid critique at the 2006 conference. This was a turning point, but I still had much work to do. An agent from that conference requested a proposal and told me I wasn’t ready for prime time, but that my writing held promise. He advised me to hire a free-lance editor to read my complete  manuscript. I asked for a completely honest, brutal edit. By now, I knew if I was ever going to make it, I had to know the truth about my writing and my story. Boy did she deliver!

It took about three months to rewrite the story, which I entered in the Genesis contest in 2007 and was shocked when I won the Historical Fiction category. I resubmitted to the agent—Chip MacGregor—who passed it on to his new agent at MacGregor Literary—Sandra Bishop. I became one of her first clients, and after helping me polish the proposal, she sold the manuscript to FaithWords seven months later.

Now SIX years after I began writing Chasing Lilacs, I’m holding my debut book in my hands. Looking back, I see that timing was everything. My writing needed improvement. I didn’t have a platform, a website, or networking skills. I heard things like “Stories with a child narrator are a hard sell”, “We are only looking at contemporary manuscripts”, etc. We all know that the market shifts. Now historical fiction is all the rage and many books today feature teen protagonists. And hopefully, I’ve matured as a writer.

Timing, perseverance, heeding the advice of professionals, and prayer have all played a part in my publishing journey, and it’s such a thrill . . . and a privilege to be a writer.

Thank you so much, Lynnette for having me here. I’m always excited when I can connect with other book lovers. 

You can find me here:
Blog: Carla’s Writing Café (http://www.carlastewart.blogspot.com/ )

Chasing Lilacs is available online and wherever books are sold.

CHASING LILACS (FaithWords, June, 2010)

It’s the summer of 1958, and life in the small Texas community of Graham Camp should be simple and carefree. But not for Sammie Tucker. Sammie has plenty of questions about her mother’s “nerve” problems. About shock treatments. About whether her mother loves her.
As her life careens out of control, Sammie has to choose who to trust with her deepest fears: Her best friend who has an opinion about everything, the mysterious boy from California whose own troubles plague him, or her round-faced neighbor with gentle advice and strong shoulders to cry on. Then there’s the elderly widower who seems nice but has his own dark past.
Trusting is one thing, but accepting the truth may be the hardest thing Sammie has ever done.

A remarkable debut novel. Carla Stewart cleverly captures the stark simplicity of a young girl’s voice with all the masterful qualities of powerful prose. Unforgettable.”
—Susan Meissner, author of The Shape of Mercy


“CHASING LILACS is the kind of coming of age story that sticks to you beyond the last page. Unforgettable characters, surprising plot twists, and a setting so southern you’ll fall in love with Texas. Carla Stewart is a new talent to watch!”
Mary E. DeMuth, author of Daisy Chain and A Slow Burn



Janalyn Voigt Shares How a Story-Telling Session with Her Daughter Turned into a Trilogy!  

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“Mommy, tell me a story.”

Some things never change. When I was a child myself, the neighborhood kids gathered around in a circle and pressed me for the stories which sprang to mind with the ease of thought.

I peeked at my small daughter in the rearview mirror. Truth to tell, I was tired and didn’t really want to entertain her, but the hopeful look on her face brought a smile to my lips. “All right. Let me see.…Once upon a time there was a girl named…” I cast about for a name and thought of Cinda, the battered rag doll my daughter clutched… “Syl Marinda.”

I wove a story about a young girl of mixed blood who must rise above racial prejudice to unite a kingdom. My father was a half-breed Native American, and I’m sure I drew from his experiences in telling the tale. The story lodged in my soul and wouldn’t let go. Long after my daughter forgot about Syl Marinda, she haunted my thoughts. I could not rest until I gave her life.

I was a young writer still finding my way and my voice then. I watched the story of Elderland grow into a trilogy with alarm. I wasn’t entirely sure how to plot one book let alone three interconnected ones. I felt inspired when I wrote, but I couldn’t quite connect all the dots to draw a complete picture. I also needed to develop the discipline to see such a project through. I turned to a nonfiction project and left TALES OF FAERAVEN in a drawer.

Without knowing it, I hid that story away in my heart, too. When I suffered a series of rejections and disappointments in my quest for publication, I turned my back on ever writing my trilogy – or anything ever again. And that was that, or so I thought.

Years passed, and I fell away not just from writing but from the Lord. I needed to get back on track as a Christian. Once I did, I prayed for direction. Imagine my surprise when I received a call to return to writing, the dream I’d given up forever. Not only that, but I knew I had to take up the story I’d set aside so long ago.

DAWNSINGER, which will release with Port Yonder Press, is book one of TALES OF FAERAVEN. I found myself backing up in the story because I realized I had so much history to tell I needed to begin at a point before Syl Marinda’s birth. She doesn’t actually enter the picture until WAYFARER, book three. This works because the story is not just about Syl Marinda but rather tells through individual lives the saga of Elderland itself.

I still found it intimidating to plot three books, each with its own story arc, that tell a greater story together. I spent a great deal of time in prayer while writing DAWNSINGER, usually with my hands on the keyboard. Somehow, miraculously, it all came together. I know the Lord breathed life into my writing because so much of the allegory was unplanned on my part. I did not know until partway through that Nalyn, my female protagonist in DAWNSINGER, represents the Church. Imagine my amazement when I realized I’d written a scene where she falls asleep in the Place of Prayer! Just as with CHRONICLES OF NARNIA, Christians will best understand the allegory within TALES OF FAERAVEN, but a secular audience can glean something of value as well.

It took me a year to write and edit DAWNSINGER, but when I was ready to shop it around, I found the world of Christian publishing wasn’t ready to receive an epic fantasy trilogy. I had some interest from one of the few mainstream publishers willing to even consider a fantasy trilogy but no contract. Six months went by without any word from the publisher

Meanwhile, I wrote most of book two, DAWNKING and started Book Readers Central, a blog for readers where I provided author interviews and book reviews. C. Maggie Woychik commented on one of my interviews and, when I searched her name, I noticed she was an author herself. I invited her for an interview on Book Readers Central, she agreed, and a beautiful friendship developed between us as we came into continued contact with one another through blogs and forums online. I didn’t know at first that she was an editor for a brand new small publisher, Port Yonder Press. When I did find out, the fact intrigued me, but I still wanted closure from the other publisher. I hesitated and almost missed the window of opportunity when Port Yonder Press started acquiring in January. I tried to ignore the restless feeling that I should submit DAWNSINGER to Port Yonder Press. I was so undecided that I sent a Facebook email to Chila (the name the C. stands for) asking her if I should submit my manuscript or not. She asked me to send my proposal in and offered me a contract in February.

I hope you will see from my story that we can miss appointed opportunities if we hesitate but that God works to redeem our efforts and bring about His purposes through us anyway. He desires our faith, but He is bigger than our unbelief.

©2010 Janalyn Voigt

John Robinson - First Rejected, Then Chased Down  

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I’ve been married for thirty-seven years to my lovely wife Barb. We have two grown sons (one of them married, with a family of his own), and a little daughter waiting for us in heaven. Presently I’m director of business development with a company that does contracting work with the military and the federal government. The three Joe Box novels I have out are Until the Last Dog Dies, When Skylarks Fall, and To Skin a Cat. The protagonist is a Vietnam vet and former Cincinnati cop who now works as a private investigator. In the first novel he’s just recently come to the Lord, but given his violent past, he’s not really sure how—or if—it’s going to work out for him. Joe’s a transplanted Southerner with a strong code of honor, but he also has a dark side and a bit of a sarcastic mouth on him. Being that I’m from the South, Joe’s an amalgamation of several of my uncles, plus some of the guys I knew who’d served in ‘Nam. To my knowledge he’s a bit of an anomaly in the CBA, and was a real kick to write!
I also have an apocalypse-with-a-twist thriller called Heading Home, due out from Sheaf House this August. In addition to that I have another series started with a soldier-of-fortune named Mac Ryan, and the (working) title for that is Relentless; it’ll be out next fall. The sequel is called Burning River, but it’s not nearly done yet. Finally I have a spec-fic novel I’m currently shopping called The Radiance; it was also a ton of fun to write.
Surprisingly I get a lot of women who read my books. Bear in mind, when I set out to write the Joe Box series I specifically did it to give something for Christian men to read. Let’s face it; the CBA is chock-a-block with romances, but not a lot of hard-edged action novels, especially penned by men. I think I was as shocked as anyone when the distaff side seemed to like them as much as the men. For some reason Joe struck a chord with the ladies, but I’m not complaining!
I’d always liked to write, even from my early teen years, and when I was in college I was student affairs editor for the school paper. Years passed though, and that love seemed to fade. But a decade ago it came roaring back, and in an unexpected way.
It was New Years Day, 1999, and I was watching one of the bowl games on TV when suddenly I started seeing something different on the screen. Don’t laugh, but it was almost like watching a movie. When I roused myself I found only a few minutes had passed, but amazingly I had the entire plot of Heading Home completely lined up in my head; it was then just a matter of writing it down and editing it. That process took about a year. Finding a house that would take such a controversial novel proved to be a challenge, though, and it wasn’t until 2008 that it was sold to Sheaf House (as I said, it’ll be out this August).
During those intervening years I wrote and sold the Joe Box novels, and began the Mac Ryan series. Because of its theme and unconventional main character, Until the Last Dog Dies was a booger to get published. My agent shopped it tirelessly, but kept coming to me back with stuff like “they love your writing, John, but the character of Joe Box scares them to death; they’re afraid women won’t buy it.” To which I responded, “Jeeze Louise, it’s not written for women!” Months pass, and my agent finally says they’ve done all they could, but can’t place it with anybody. That’s in December of 2002. Flash forward to July of 2003. The CBA trade show is in Orlando that that year, and my agent is attending. As the story was told to me, the head buyer of one of the largest Christian bookstore chains is speaking with one of the marketing directors for Cook Communications, which owns RiverOak Publishing. They’re talking about this and that, and the buyer says in an off-hand way, “I heard you’ve bought a novel featuring a Christian private investigator.” The Cook guy says no, he’d heard wrong, they took a pass on it. To which the buyer says, “that’s funny; we could probably move a lot of units of that.” The Cook guy takes that info to his people, and they tell him, “how about that, see if it’s still available.” The Cook guy finds my agent and asks if Until the Last Dog Dies is still on the table. Stunned, my agent says yes, and they proceed to verbally cut the deal on the floor of the CBA. True story!
Someone once asked me if I have a favorite character that I’ve written. Besides Joe, Joe’s mentor, a crusty old retired Cincinnati cop, was fun. And interestingly enough Joe’s cat Noodles, who Joe rescued as a kitten from being burned alive in a fire, is also a favorite. They play off each other pretty well.
With my Mac Ryan character I wanted to take a man who was a little like Joe, but with a darker past, and then take him in different direction. The result is the spirituality is still there, but much more subtle; think the movie Signs, or Dean Koontz’s later works. Somebody once asked me what would be my advice to someone just trying to break into publishing in this day; I’d tell them a story I once heard about Winston Churchill. The time was either the late fifties or early sixties, and by then Churchill was quite elderly when he was asked to give the commencement address for a large university.
The day came, and the auditorium was packed with students and alumni wanting to hear strong words of wisdom from the man who’d basically saved Britain during the darkest days the country had ever known. Slowly Sir Winston took the platform. Standing behind the podium, he gazed out at the sea of faces.
Then setting his famous bulldog jaw, he ground out these words: “Never give up. Never, never, never, never give up.” He fixed them with a gaze of iron. “Never.”
And then he sat down.
And the place erupted in praise.
That’s what I’d tell people: “never give up.”
Just that.

When a Story Must be Told - by Gail Pallotta  

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Many published storytellers say they never quit, when the story within struggled to find an outlet. And that’s the way it was for me. After working as an editor and copywriter and publishing freelance articles, I wanted to write a book. Since I preferred to write a Christian novel I attended Christian writers’ conferences.

At the first one when I learned that many readers enjoy romance, Destin, Florida, came to mind. I’d traveled there for the past twenty-two years and watched the white-capped waves lap white, powdery sand glistening in a reddish-gold sunset. Even though my book would be an inspirational novel about faith I would make it a romance in Destin. After determining a genre I attended a four-day workshop on plotting books with James Scott Bell, an award-winning writer and frequent speaker at Christian writers’ conferences. Also, I read several Christian romance novels and noted the common threads in them, such as strong, handsome heroes. Then, I devised the following plot.

The heroine, Cammie O’Shea, who is a feature writer for a newspaper in Cedar Forks, Georgia, moves to take a position with a new paper, “The Sun Dial,” in Destin, Florida, after she suffers a heart-breaking split-up with her fiancé.

She has to interview, Vic Deleona, the hero and wealthy entrepreneur, to help get “The Sun Dial” off to a good start. Even though Vic is too busy with his real estate empire to even meet with her, his secretary gives her an appointment. However, from the moment he sees her, he wants to date her. In an attempt to get to know her better he schedules business appointments she must attend. Even though she is attracted to him, because of her recent heartache she never wants to date again. But she and a friend, Angie Jones, have break-ins at their homes, and Vic comes to their rescue. Just when Cammie sees a different side of Vic she receives an offer to return home to her old job. Will Vic win her heart, or will she leave Destin?

The answer to that question lay in the characters’ personalities, which I still needed to establish. I made a list of their likes and dislikes, including the foods they enjoyed and their activities, such as swimming. Before I started writing I also noted their physical appearances and wrote a few sentences about each of them. Even though I’d been in Destin many times, I researched the history of the town and the fishing industry there. I also interviewed a couple policemen about crime scene procedures, and spoke often with my husband, who is a residential builder, real estate agent and land developer. To incorporate Cammie’s job as a feature writer I called on my experience working for a retired Associated Press correspondent. By the time I completed my first draft my characters had taken on lives of their own in Destin, Florida.

After editing Love Turn the Tide several times I read it aloud to my husband and corrected the mistakes I heard. When I knew the words, paragraphs and scenes in my head so well I peered at the page without actually reading them, I edited the manuscript from the end to the beginning. Going backward made me see what I had written as if I were reading it for the first time. Lastly, I asked my husband and my daughter to proof the book and tell me about anything that seemed unclear or awkward to them.


After I made the corrections they suggested, I realized I only knew of publishers who accepted manuscripts through agents, and I didn’t have one. However, after two years of work I was ready to market my book, so I searched the web for a publisher. Sure enough, I found Awe-Struck, an E-publisher having a contest for a short, inspirational romance. I didn’t think I’d win, and I knew beyond a doubt that I was a computer klutz. But, I had nothing to lose by entering, and I easily could learn about cyber space if I were to win, couldn’t I? I did win and began my E-journey, which is another story.


But, I will say that I had a fantastic editor at Awe-Struck E-Publishers. Between the features I had written as an employed writer and the freelance articles I had sold, I had published around two hundred articles and had worked with numerous editors who had been helpful. I concluded that working with a good editor who knows the market was a plus. After meeting so many good authors online I also realized that every story had its own unique voice, depending on who was telling it. That made the struggle worthwhile for each of us.

A Tailor-Made Bride by Karen Witemeyer  

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The journey that brought A Tailor-Made Bride to publication is an unusual one, for it started with a different manuscript altogether. In 2007, I took my first completed novel to the ACFW conference. I arrived a day early and worked at the volunteer station stuffing envelopes. A woman worked beside me who shared my first name. Hmm…that's fun, I thought. However, as time ticked on, I picked up clues to her identity from others in the room. This was Karen Schurrer, an editor from Bethany House, my dream publisher.

I never worked so hard to act normal in my life! I resisted throwing my pitch at her, but two days later, I sat at her lunch table, and after everyone explained their projects, one brave writer asked if we could send her our proposals. She said yes.

After the conference, I immediately sent in my proposal and soon had a request for a full manuscript. Surely a contract was right around the corner, right? Wrong. The acquisitions editor, Charlene Patterson, rejected my manuscript. She considered the plot too unoriginal for launching a new author. Nevertheless, she complimented my writing and said there was one component to the story that she did like—the dress shop. Could I come up with a new idea surrounding a dress shop?

Now you have to understand, in the original book, the dress shop burned to the ground in the prologue. It didn't even make it into chapter one. Yet Charlene wanted me to create an entirely new book from scratch based on this shop idea. Could I do that?

By this time, I was halfway into a second book that was supposed to be a sequel to the one that had just been rejected. I'm the kind of person that can't stand to leave a job undone, and this second story could stand alone from the other. The only tie in was that the heroine had been a secondary character in the first book. So, I dug up my courage and wrote back to Charlene. I told her that I would absolutely work on some ideas for a dress shop book, but I was in the middle of another story that she might find interesting. I included a brief synopsis of the story and explained that I would like to finish it first before starting on another project.

She was very encouraging and said the book had possibilities and invited me to submit it when I had it finished. In the meantime, I worked up some ideas for the dress shop book and sent those in as well. She gave me some feedback, told me what she liked and what she would recommend that I change, and we left it at that.

Six months later, I finished that second book. The 2008 ACFW conference was only a few weeks away. Doubting Charlene would remember me, I held my breath and sent her a short note saying that I had finished the manuscript, reminding her that she had invited me to submit it, and offering to send sample chapters. To my shock, she not only remembered me but told me to send her the full manuscript. She also asked about the dress shop book and made arrangements to meet with me at the upcoming conference to discuss both projects.

Charlene shared the manuscript with Karen, my first editor contact, and both of them not only read it before conference, but sent me comments. They each met with me in person and confided that they were interested but were waiting to see what I did with the all-important dress shop book. At conference time, I had a synopsis and one whole chapter to show them. One chapter that I ended up completely scrapping after I visited with them. Despite that, Charlene told me that I didn't have to finish the entire story before I submitted to her again. Just get about 7 chapters in, she said, and send it in.

So I did. I wrote those seven chapters and e-mailed them to her. By January 2009, Bethany House offered me a three book deal launching with A Tailor-Made Bride, the dress shop book. Oh, and that second book that had been completed earlier? That one is coming out in October as Head in the Clouds.

As for developing the story for A Tailor-Made Bride, I knew my heroine would be a seamstress since my key prop was a dress shop. So next I had to think up potential conflicts. What if the hero had plans for purchasing that particular storefront, but the owner gave it to an outsider who knew nothing about their community? What if he hated dressmakers? But why would he hate dressmakers? What if something in his past led him to consider women who valued fine clothing as self-centered and vain? What if he had a sister, and this sister wanted to attract a beau and sought out the dressmaker's help?

The ideas started rolling. As for the theme of the book, the question that got me started was: What happens when believers disagree about what the Christian life should look like? I wanted to demonstrate that even small differences of opinion based on personal interpretations of Scripture and life experiences can cause tears in the fabric of unity that Christ desires for his followers. Since my heroine was a dressmaker, I selected inner vs. outer beauty as the point of conflict. And you might be surprised at where my two strong-willed characters end up meeting on the issue.

It usually takes me about a year to move from concept to completed book, including the time spent in research. However, with A Tailor-Made Bride, the publisher had an opening three months earlier than expected. I had to increase my pace, but I managed to get it finished in about 7½ months. Since turning in that manuscript, it took nearly another full year before the book made it into print. It's been a bumpy ride, but I'd do it again in a heartbeat.


Karen's Bio:

Karen Witemeyer is a deacon's wife who believes the world needs more happily-ever-afters. To that end, she combines her love of bygone eras with her passion for helping women mature in Christ to craft historical romance novels that lift the spirit and nurture the soul.

Karen holds a master's degree in Psychology from Abilene Christian University and is a member of ACFW, RWA, and her local writers' guild. She's an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. Karen makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children.


Book Blurb:

When a dressmaker who values beauty tangles with a liveryman who condemns vanity, the sparks begin to fly!

Jericho "J.T." Tucker wants nothing to do with the new dressmaker in Coventry, Texas. He's all too familiar with her kind—shallow women more devoted to fashion than true beauty. Yet, except for her well-tailored clothes, this seamstress is not at all what he expected.

Hannah Richards is confounded by the man who runs the livery. The unsmiling fellow riles her with his arrogant assumptions and gruff manner, while at the same time stirring her heart with unexpected acts of kindness. Which side of Jericho Tucker reflects the real man?

When Hannah decides to help Jericho's sister catch a beau--leading to consequences neither could have foreseen--will Jericho and Hannah find a way to bridge the gap between them?

Tommie Lyn Talks about Why She Chose the Independent Publishing Route  

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English was my favorite subject when I was in school. I always made good grades, particularly on the essays we had to write from time to time. And I loved reading fiction. I thought it would be wonderful if I could write stories that would give other people as much enjoyment as reading gave me.

So, when I was in my early twenties, I wrote a short story. It was awful. I concluded that, in order to write fiction, you had to have an inborn talent, one which I didn’t have.

I tried again when I was about thirty. I wrote a fictionalized account of a coming-of-age anecdote my grandmother shared with me. It was no better than my first attempt, and it finalized my acceptance of the fact that I had no ability to write fiction. I didn’t try again. Until I reached my sixties.

While doing some historical and genealogical research, I learned some things that demanded to be told. And I thought they should be told as fiction, because too many folks aren’t interested in reading history, but they will read entertaining fiction. I knew I had no ability to write it, though, so I tried to convince others to write it. No one would.

I wanted to forget about it, but the story burned in me. So I started trying to write it, with the same pitiful results I’d always had when I turned my hand to fiction. But this time, I didn’t quit trying. I couldn’t quit trying. The story wouldn’t let me.

I found out about an online writing class offered by our local junior college, and I decided to sign up. I would learn enough to write the story, or I’d fail, but either way, I’d give the story a chance to be told. Through that course, I learned of other fiction resources, and I began writing High on a Mountain.

About the time I completed those two classes, I retired and began writing full time. Six weeks later, the manuscript was finished. Or so I thought. (I’d never heard the term “rough draft” nor the concept of doing a “rewrite.” I had typed “The End,” so, in my estimation, my story was done). I did realize that it probably wasn’t the best it could be, so I paid an editor to polish it for me. (I didn’t know it was too rough to apply the polish at that point.)

The next month, I joined ChristianWriters.com, learned about NaNoWriMo and signed up. And when NaNo started two weeks later, I wrote my second novel, ...and night falls. It was during NaNo that I discovered how to let a story flow instead of trying to hammer it out and construct it, as I’d done with High on a Mountain.

A few months after that first NaNo, I attended a nearby writer’s conference and made pitches for High on a Mountain to two editors and two agents. All four requested sample chapters. I realize now, it was the unique storyline and my zeal for it that piqued their interest. But when they saw the writing, well, what happened next was inevitable...rejection, rejection, rejection.

Since that time, I’ve studied, researched, and learned more about the writing process. And I’ve rewritten, edited and tweaked the manuscript countless times (while, at the same time, writing three other novels). And I’ve gotten good rejections on my other novels: “It’s a well-written, intense story, and it will be published. Unfortunately, we can’t publish it because it doesn’t fit our guidelines.”

As I continued to learn about writing, I also researched various aspects of the publishing industry. I encountered one piece of information that gave me pause: it generally takes at least ten years for a writer to be accepted and published. I realized that at my age, I may not have ten years left for the waiting process.

So I decided to take matters into my own hands (as has been my habit in other areas of my life). I learned all I could about self-publishing, learned the pitfalls to avoid, and last February, I published my first NaNovel, ...and night falls, through Amazon’s CreateSpace.

It was a positive experience for me. I loved knowing that folks enjoyed reading what I’d written. I published my other two NaNovels, Scribbles and On Berryhill Road, then followed with Tugger’s Down several months later.

And in March, I finally ushered High on a Mountain into print.

Folks ask my advice about self-publishing, and I have to say, it isn’t for everyone. You must be a self-starter, ready to do whatever is required to promote your book. You must be proficient in English grammar, spelling and punctuation, or be ready to pay a professional editor to polish your manuscript.

You also must have the skills necessary to design both the cover and the interior layout, or be ready to pay to have those things done for you. I’m very blessed in that I’d worked in the field of graphic design. I enjoyed the cover creation, interior design and typesetting for each of my books.

But what I enjoy most is hearing from readers who’ve enjoyed my stories...NOW, while I’m still around to know about it.

Find out more about Tommie Lyn at the following locations:

Tommie's Website

Tommie's Blog

And the Winner is...!  

Posted by: Lynnette Bonner in
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Congrats to Joanne who won the give-away for Kristen Heitzmann's Indivisible!

You're going to love it Joanne! I'll contact you for your address and get this sent right off to you.

Book Review & Give Away ~ Indivisible by Kristen Heitzmann  

Posted by: Lynnette Bonner in
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From the Publisher:
An inseparable bond.
An insatiable force.

Battling his own personal demons, Police Chief Jonah Westfall knows the dark side of life and has committed himself to eradicating it. When a pair of raccoons are found mutilated in Redford, Colorado, Jonah investigates the gruesome act, knowing the strange event could escalate and destroy the tranquility of his small mountain town. With a rising drug threat and never-ending conflict with Tia Manning, a formidable childhood friend with whom he has more than a passing history, Jonah fights for answers—and his fragile sobriety.

But he can’t penetrate every wound or secret—especially one fueled by a love and guilt teetering on madness.

From best-selling author Kristen Heitzmann comes a spellbinding tale of severed connections and the consequences of life lived alone.

Here is a link to an interview Kristen did: http://www.multnomahemails.com/wbmlt/audio/Kristen_Heitzmann.mp3

My Review:

I loved this book. Of course, there have been very few Heitzmann books that I haven't enjoyed! In Indivisible the romantic tension is thick, the mystery is page-turning, and the secondary characters add just the right touch of glaze to the top of what is already a very tasty pastry. A very enjoyable read!

I'm offering a give-away for Indivisible. Leave a comment on this post and you will be entered to win the book. The drawing will be held next Friday the 21st, of May.

About the Author:

While home schooling her four kids, Kristen Heitzmann wrote her first novel. It became one of a five book historical series. Since then, she has written three more historical novels and eight contemporary romantic and psychological suspense novels including The Still of Night, nominated for the Colorado Book Award, The Tender Vine, a Christy Award finalist and Christy Award winning Secrets. She lives in Colorado with her husband Jim, sundry family members, and pets.
Learn more about the author at her website.

Sarah Sundin Shares Her Road to Publication  

Posted by: Lynnette Bonner in ,
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I come from stubborn stock. Stubbornness genes flowed from both sides of my family and puddled in my soul. Stubbornness can be seen as annoying mule-headedness or as true strength—persistence, tenacity. Without stubbornness, I wouldn’t have a book on the shelf.
My path to publication is unconventional. Although I grew up surrounded by books, I rarely considered a writing career. Instead, I studied chemistry and received my doctorate in pharmacy. After graduation, I chose to work one day a week as a hospital pharmacist so I could stay home with our three children. On January 6, 2000, when our youngest was a toddler, I had a dream with such intriguing characters that I felt compelled to write their story. Before that date, I’d never had an idea for a book, and after that, ideas flowed. It was as if God turned on a writing switch in my brain. The novel that came from that dream will never be published, nor should it, but it got me started.
Since God had called me to write and since our children were young, I decided if I was going to dedicate time to writing, I needed to be serious and pursue publication. I went to my first writers’ conference in September 2000 with a perfect 750-page manuscript and one question—how to find a publisher. That one-day conference showed me everything I was doing wrong. I came home with several books on writing craft and slashed my manuscript in half. I still had a lot to learn.
In 2001, I joined Diablo Valley Christian Writers’ Group. My writers’ group has taught me three main things: 1) how to write 2) how to handle critique, and 3) a writer needs other writers. Later that year I attended another conference taught by Lauraine Snelling. She taught me so much about plotting, characterization, and research. At that point I was playing with the idea for A Distant Melody, and Lauraine’s teaching got me off to a great start.
The concept for A Distant Melody came out of a “what if” question—what if a man and woman met at an event, truly clicked, and parted before exchanging contact info? Wouldn’t it be romantic if he went through great effort to track her down? It wouldn’t work in a contemporary setting—he’d “Google” her—but it made a sweet premise for a historical. My husband and I watched a History Channel special on the US Eighth Air Force based in England which flew over Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II, and I was hooked.
But a historical? Historicals require research! And I’d never flown a plane—how could I put myself in my hero’s seat behind the wheel of a four-engined bomber?
So for the next year I immersed myself in research. I read basic texts on World War II, the home front, and the Eighth Air Force. I checked out a “How to Fly” book to get the basics, purchased copies of the B-17 pilot’s manual and the Army Air Force training film (pure gold!), and ran the flying scenes past a pilot friend. For home front information, I used everything from Top Ten lists, to fashion style guides, to the Time Capsule series with extracts from Time Magazine. I loved my research so much that the story expanded to become a trilogy, with each book focusing on one of three brothers.
In 2003, my writers’ group encouraged me (pushed me?) to show my work to professionals, so I submitted at Mount Hermon Christian Writers’ Conference. I received good feedback from published authors, editors, and agents—and began accumulating a stack of “good” rejection letters. They liked my writing, my story, and my characters—however, historicals weren’t selling. They wanted chick lit. This continued for years.
I never wanted to give up on the series, because I loved my characters. However, in 2005 all doors to publication seemed closed and padlocked, and I wondered whether I had heard God correctly. Was I truly meant to write? Was I wasting my time when I could be doing something more productive?
That year at Mount Hermon I went for a walk under the redwoods and stopped to admire a little white flower. I praised God for the flower and felt touched—had He made that flower just so I would praise Him? Then I looked around me. Hundreds of redwoods covered the hills, and thousands more out of my vision, all surrounded by white blossoms. How many of those flowers would ever cause someone to stop and praise God? Were they created in vain? Did the Lord waste His time creating them? Of course not. God is a creative Being, and He made us in His creative image. In His mercy, the Lord showed me that even if my writing was never seen by another human being and never caused anyone to praise Him, I did the right thing obeying His call to write. I was not wasting my time.
So I kept writing. I kept submitting. I kept praying. Then at Mount Hermon in March 2008, I heard, “We don’t want chick lit. We need historicals.” And there I was with my trilogy close to complete. I submitted to Vicki Crumpton at Revell, and in September I was offered a three-book contract. A Distant Melody was published in March 2010, ten years and two months after that first dream. The second book in the Wings of Glory series, A Memory Between Us, comes out in September 2010, and the third book in August 2011.
Mother Teresa said, “God doesn’t require us to succeed; He only requires that you try.” If God has called you to do something for Him, measure your success through His eyes. Did you obey? Were you faithful? Did you persevere?
Stubbornness can be a serious fault, but when it’s applied to following God’s will, it’s a very good thing.