I (heart) history – Sandra Merville Hart shares the research that brings her writing to life!

I’m honored to introduce you to another amazing author, Sandra Merville Hart! She writes Historical Romance in the Civil War time period – one that’s always fascinated me.

Her latest release, A Stranger on My Land, is a great novella, and now we get to see a glimpse behind the curtain into her life. Here’s a quick look at her bio before I introduce you. Enjoy!

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Sandra Merville Hart loves to find unusual facts in her historical research to use in her stories. She and her husband enjoy traveling to many of the sites in her books to explore the history. She serves as Assistant Editor for DevoKids.com where she contributes articles about history and holidays. She has written for several publications and websites including The Secret Place, Harpstring, Splickety Magazine, Pockets Magazine, Common Ground, Afictionado, and ChristianDevotions.us. Her inspirational Civil War novella, A Stranger on My Land, released on August 21, 2014.  It’s available on Amazon at  http://www.amazon.com/dp/1941103278

Hi Sandra! For those who haven’t read it, tell us a little bit about your latest release A Stranger on My Land. I love how the cover is a sneak peek into the story!

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My inspirational Civil War novella, A Stranger on My Land, released on August 21, 2014. Carrie and her little brother, Jay, find Adam, a wounded Union soldier, on their land after a battle near their Lookout Mountain home. Carrie takes Adam to the cave where her family has been hiding from the soldiers. Before long, she falls in love with him, but she can’t save his life. He requires a surgeon. Carrie weighs the potential danger of revealing her family’s hideaway with saving Adam’s life.

What was your inspiration behind this novella?

While researching for another Civil War novel, I read many biographies and diaries of soldiers from both sides. Among the surprises were many instances of families in the South living in caves for safety when the armies marched into town. The soldiers remarked about how cozy the women made these dwellings. When I discovered that some families on Lookout Mountain moved into caves, the idea for my story was born.

What made you begin writing Historical Fiction?

I love to read historical romance novels, especially when it gives natural glimpses into the way things used to be. My love for writing this type of book sprang from a love of history.

What spurs you to write?  

I actually get depressed when I can’t write. After a week’s vacation, I’m ready to get back to my current writing project. Writing feeds my spirit. I really enjoy it.

I can so relate to that! When God instills the gift of writing inside you, writing becomes part of what keeps you sane! What are you currently reading?

I have a stack of over ten books waiting for me to read. I will either read The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman by Carole Brown, A Little Bit of Charm by Mary Ellis, or The First Christmas Carol by Marianne Jordan as my next “for pleasure” read. It seems almost all of my reading is research related these days.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever had a great writing idea?

Some ideas have come to me just as I’m waking up in the morning. You know, that kind of half-awake, half-asleep state before you crawl out of bed. It seems the creative part of my brain keeps churning away while I’m sleeping and I often wake up with fresh ideas.

What is your next project?

My next novel will be another Civil War romance. It will be set in Gettysburg, a place that has captured my imagination. I’m planning a trip to Gettysburg to research for it. A beautiful seamstress and a war-weary soldier would never meet if not for the battle that raged outside her Gettysburg home.

Thanks, Sandra! It was great to talk with you!

And now for the readers… it’s your turn to share comments, tidbits, or other questions you have for Sandra!  Just CLICK THE PINK HEART,  and leave a comment!

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Missional Romance? Jennifer Slattery gives us the inside glimpse!

I’m thrilled to introduce you to another amazing new author, Jennifer Slattery! In addition to being an excellent writer, she’s doing amazing things to reach the world with God’s heart!

Her latest release, Beyond I Do, is a terrific read, and now we get to see a glimpse behind the curtain into her life. Here’s a quick look at her bio before I introduce you. Enjoy!

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Jennifer Slattery writes missional romance for New Hope Publishers, Christian living articles for Crosswalk.com, and devotions for Internet Café Devotions. She also maintains a personal blog at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com and writes and edits for Christ to the World Ministries, an international ministry that shares the gospel, via radio waves, with thirty-two countries.

Hi Jennifer, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a Midwestern transplant married to a handsome and hilarious railroader. We’ve got a teenage daughter that fills our home with laughter and the occasional eye roll. I love to read, have relatively little patience for movies, and believe every day must start with a ginormous amount of flavored coffee.

Now for those who haven’t read it, tell us a little bit about your latest release Beyond I Do.

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I’d love to! Beyond I Do is about a pharmaceutical representative whose quest for security caused her to lose of who God created her to be.

 Will seeing beyond the present unite them or tear them apart?

Ainsley Meadow’s encounter with a woman, her child, and their abuser sparks a passion that threatens her engagement. Will seeing beyond the present unite her and her fiancé or tear them apart? Raised by a hedonist mother, who cycles through jobs and relationships like wrapping paper on Christmas morning, falls into a predictable and safe relationship with Richard, a self-absorbed socialite psychiatrist. But as her wedding nears, a battered woman and her child spark a long-forgotten dream and ignites a hidden passion. One that threatens to change everything, including her fiancé. To embrace God’s best and find true love, this security-seeking bride must follow God with reckless abandon and realize that marriage goes Beyond I Do.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?

Writing very much comes directly from my relationship with God. I really believe He gives me the inspiration, and I can sense His abiding presence as I write. I especially love it when He leads me to a verse or passage that speaks hope to my characters and to me. He’s great at reaching us both at the same time!

What are you currently reading? I just finished Unplanned by Abby Johnson. Wow, that was a tough book, but also inspiring, especially the last chapter when she connected all the God-dots. It reminded me to keep doing whatever it is He is calling me to do, trusting He’s working out His eternal picture at every moment.

Is there a recognizable quality in your books, which makes them distinctly your own? Yep! I write missional romance, which means there’s always an outreach/missional angle. Because I’m all about outreach. After all, that’s the whole reason we Christians are still here, right?

I’m expecting big picture edits to come through on my second book, When Dawn Breaks, this month, so I’m excited about that. Here’s a bit about that book:

Jacqueline wants purpose and restitution, but must she relinquish her chance of love to find it?

A hurricane forces Jacqueline to evacuate. Looking to begin again—and reconnect with her embittered daughter—Jacqueline heads north. Reconciliation is hard, but she has a handsome new friend to lean on. Most importantly, she knows God is standing beside her.

When her daughter rejects her, three children abandoned by their mother open their hearts. But can God use a woman who dashed the hopes of her own child to bring hope to someone else’s? 

Thank you so much for having me!

Thanks, Jennifer! I’m glad you stopped by!

And now for the readers… it’s your turn to share comments, tidbits, or other questions you have for Jennifer!  Just CLICK THE PINK HEART,  and leave a comment!

Choose the Book Cover!

One of the most exciting parts of publishing, is getting to see the book cover! But I’m a little torn between several options, so I NEED YOUR HELP TO DECIDE!

This is for my upcoming release, The Lady and the Mountain Man, which falls into the Christian Historical Romance genre. The cover images below include both the front and back cover. Please let me know which most makes you want to read the book!

Or if you have better ideas, just leave them in a comment!

 

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The Words are His

God’s been teaching me a critical lesson about my writing.

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For a few years now, I’ve been amazed at the love God’s instilled in me for writing novels. It’s become my passion , where I can invest my energy and brainpower and every ounce of the creativity I never thought I had. Something I can work at, and be constantly learning. A place where I can strive for perfection.

But, lately God has made it abundantly clear to me that the writing is His. The words – whether they flow onto the page in harmonious magic, or whether I have to build each one from a desert of nothing.

The words are His.

What He chooses to do with them, whether they only plant a seed for one person, or whether they touch hundreds of lives. The difference these words make is His difference.

This may seem like a basic concept in the Christian life, but it is completely changing the way I approach not just writing, by every area of my life. My entire existence is to be a tool for God’s work. That took me a few weeks to wrap my mind around, but I approach things with a new perspective.

Everything I do should point to Him.

We sing a song at church with the words, “I breathe in grace, I breathe out praise.” And that’s the concept. God fills me up with his grace, so that I can pour out His praise in everything I do.

And as He chooses to bless this writing in some areas, and close the doors in other areas, it’s not my choice. These are His stories, and He has a master plan to use them in ways I may never know.

 

So now, I’d love to hear from you! How has God used you as His tool? How have you seen Him work in ways you would never have imagined? Here’s your chance to breathe out His praise!

 

Choose your favorite opening paragraph!

I need your help! I’m writing my latest work-in-progress and can’t make up my mind on the opening paragraph. Will you please tell me which you like best?

My working title is A Pony Express Romance and this first section takes place on November 30, 1860, in Ellwood, Kansas.

Option #1:

     The prick of his horse’s ears was Josiah English’s only warning of impending danger.
     His muscles tensed as his eyes scanned the roadside for whatever had the horse on edge. A rabbit about to dart from the bushes? A snake in the grass? Or a mountain lion about to strike?
     From nowhere, a rope settled around his shoulders. What? Josiah reached to pull it off, but before he could get a hand up, it jerked tight, strapping his arms to his sides. With a violent lurch, he was pulled from his horse, landing hard on the ground. The breath fled from his lungs and he pushed hard, fighting the weight that threatened to smother him.

Or…

Option # 2:

     “Don’t move, or I’ll shoot yer toes off one by one.”
      Josiah English froze.
     The rope that had settled over his shoulders tightened, strapping his arms to his sides and cinching up his chest. With a violent jerk, he was pulled from his horse, landing hard on the ground. The breath fled from his lungs and he pushed hard, fighting the weight that threatened to smother him.

 

 Or maybe you like a combination of these openings? Feel free to piece together your favorite intro, and leave it in the comments below. Thanks for your vote!

From Reading to Ziplining – Author Heather Manning Shares it ALL!

I’m thrilled to introduce you to another author friend, Heather Manning!

Her debut release, Swept to Sea, has been a smashing success, and now we get to see a glimpse behind the curtain into her life. Enjoy!

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Hi Heather, can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Hi! I am a young lady who loves to read—and write. My debut novel, Swept to Sea, released in November 2013, and has been on the Amazon Bestseller list for many of the following months. I live in Kansas City, Missouri, where I eat donuts, act in community theatre, and read every Inspirational Historical Romance I can get my hands on.

Now for those who haven’t read it, tell us a little bit about your debut release Swept to Sea.

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Swept to Sea is about a young woman—Lady Eden Trenton— who stows away on a pirate ship to escape marriage to an abusive man. After she is caught by the ship’s revenge-seeking captain, she grows to care for the man and his young son and finds herself questioning her original plans to achieve freedom.

Captain Caspian Archer has spent the last five years hardening his heart as he searched to find the man who killed his wife. When the young, tortured Eden Trenton appears in his hold, she may be just the thing he needs to help him realize to care for the family he has left.

What made you begin writing Historical Fiction?
I have always loved history. Ever since I can remember, I have always wanted to live in a different time period, so naturally, when I started reading, I almost only read historical fiction. It transported me back to the historical times that I adored. Then, when I began to write, it was only fitting that I wrote in that genre.

What are you currently reading?
I just finished reading Fair Play by Deeanne Gist and now I am starting Love Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell. Fair Play was SOOOO good!

Which of your characters most reflects your personality?
I think Eden probably reflects the most of my personality. I really enjoyed writing her. Also, she repeatedly accidentally hits her head…I think that came from me, too. LOL

Name one crazy thing you’ve done that is sure to surprise us.
Ummm…I have ziplined over huge canyons and the ocean in Mexico! Twice, actually. And I would love to do it again. It was so much fun.

What is one of your favorite parts about being an author? What do you like the least?
My favorite part is having the knowledge that somebody, somewhere where I have never ever been, somebody I have never ever met, has read my book and enjoyed it. That makes it all worthwhile. I love getting “fan” emails too. They make my days so much brighter. The thing I least like is the worry that at some point in the future I might run out of ideas and I won’t have any more stories to write…I love nothing more than constantly writing!

Thanks so much, Heather! I’m glad you stopped by!

And now for the readers… it’s your turn to share comments, tidbits, or other questions you have for Heather!  Just CLICK THE PINK HEART,  and leave a comment!

How the Movie Frozen Taught Me to Create Great Characters

I never thought I’d be writing about a Disney movie, but if you’ve seen the movie Frozen, it’s hard to deny it has a number of engaging qualities.

The story is cute, about two sisters. Elsa is the older and has magical powers to freeze anything she chooses. Anna, the younger sister and heroine, must find true love if she is to be healed from a frozen heart. While she expects love’s healing touch to come from her suitor, the true magic happens when she and her sister are reunited and share that special love that only sisters can.Frozen - Anna and Elsa

But what really has me watching the movie over and over…ahem…I mean letting my kids watch it over and over – are the characters. From a loveable talking snowman, to heroes that don’t always get it right. I love the characters!

There are definitely some lessons for writers to learn here. So how do you build characters that keep people re-reading your book over and over?

The best characters…do what you don’t expect. Take Olaf for an excellent example. He’s a snowman who loves summer and warm hugs. Who would have thought? Every phrase that comes out of his mouth has me giggling, or at least smiling, because it is so unexpected.

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The best characters…are real. I love the scene early on when someone is waking Anna to dress for the coronation. Her hair is rumpled and she’s mumbling answers, still half-asleep. It’s not her most attractive image, but the scene is hilarious because we can all relate!

Or what about the time that she was trying to appear stern and in charge when she was ‘commanding’ Kristoff to take her up the mountain. She meant to toss him the bag of carrots to prove she had everything under control, but her aim was off and she chunked him in the head. And then she couldn’t stop apologizing. Now doesn’t that sound just like something I’d do?FROZEN

The truth is, real people do and say things imperfectly. And so do memorable characters.

So now, my question for you is: What traits have you noticed in your favorite characters? In the books you’ve re-read enough to tatter the pages, what was it about those characters that drew you? Or maybe you have a favorite scene from Frozen that highlights another aspect of an excellent character?

Click the pink heart to leave a comment and join the conversation!