The MacGregor Legacy - For Love or Loyalty

1760 Scotland - To atone for her father's evil, Lauren Campbell agrees to help Malcolm MacGregor. By the time she realizes she's the bargaining price to free Malcolm's mother from indentured servitude, it's too late.

Path of Freedom, Quilts of Love series

1858 North Carolina - When Quakers Flora Saferight and Bruce Millikan embark on the Underground Railroad, they agree to put their differences aside to save the lives of a pregnant slave couple..

Highland Sanctuary, (Highland series - Book 2)

1477 Scotland - A chieftain heir is hired to restore Briagh Castle and discovers a hidden village of outcasts who have created their own private sanctuary from the world.

Highland Blessings, (Book 1 - Highland series)

1473 Scotland - The story of a highland warrior who kidnaps the daughter of his greatest enemy and clan chief to honor a promise to his dying father.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Send Your Questions & Suggestions


With the new year approaching, I'd like to know if you, my blog readers, have questions about writing and publishing that I haven't covered. For my readers who aren't writers, are you enjoying the book reviews and author interviews? What about the historical topics and facts I've covered? Have these been interesting? Would you like to see more devotionals? I'd like you all to tell me what you'd like to see from my blog.

One thing I'd like to do for the rest of December is post reviews and book announcements for new Christmas stories that have been published. I have an interview coming up with fellow Abingdon Author, Myra Johnson. She'll be discussing her new book,
One Imperfect Christmas. After I finish reading Missy Tippens' A Forever Christmas, I'll write a book review, and plan to cover a couple of other books.

Also, I plan to give everyone a chance to share some Christmas recipes, family traditions, and a special event or gift that touched you. I believe that sharing moments like these help keep the true meaning of Christmas alive in our hearts. They're fresh, gentle reminders of what God can do through the season and throughout the year. I hope you'll participate.

Start sending your questions and suggestions!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Christmas at Billy Graham Museum


For those of you who live within driving distance of Charlotte, NC or are interested in the ministry and history of the Billy Graham ministry, I'd like to tell you about Christmas at the Billy Graham Museum. The outside of the museum is built in the shape of a barn and looks like a renovated farm, obviously to represent the Graham farm.



It's a free and wonderful experience for the whole family everyday after 5 PM except on Saturdays. They offer free horseback carriage rides on the estate. The lines can get pretty long and it is on a first come, first serve basis. Last year it was cold and we let my father-in-law sit inside where it is warm because of his health. When we were getting close to being next, my husband went to get him. I only mention this as an alternative for the elderly or disabled. We brought those self-heating coffees and those kept us quite warm and so I would recommend it, although you can buy coffee or hot cocoa inside, as well as eat dinner.



They also give every family a free Christmas keepsake ornament. You can visit the Billy Graham farm house where Billy grew up to age nine. His father built the home in the 1920's and they have it decorated with furniture and appliances as it was back then. Please be aware that only the first floor is available for touring, but I still thought it was worth the visit. The photo to the left is the outside image of the house, which has been relocated to this spot. The original site was on Park Road, a few miles south of this location.



There is also a bookstore and a museum you can tour, as well as a live nativity scene outside, including a live camel and donkey. It's lit up and looks beautiful in contrast to the darkness. The photo to the right was taken by my phone camera. If you look closely you can see the camel sitting down on the grass in front of the nativity scene. You can also walk a short brick trail to the garden and where a monument is located.

Links to:
The Billy Graham Museum
The Billy Graham Library

Monday, November 23, 2009

What I'm Thankful For


In the spirit of giving thanks this week, I wanted to share some of my thoughts and the wonderful things I'm thankful for.

I'm thankful for my salvation and the growing relationship I have with Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

I'm thankful for my loving husband and sweet daughter, and my extended family who are always there to support me and encourage me when things get tough.

I'm so thankful that my daughter has been healed from her life-threatening seizure disorder. Even though this occurred years ago, I'm thankful everyday. Sometimes I'm moved to tears when I think of all she has overcome and the fears that my husband I no longer live with.

I'm thankful my daughter is doing so well she was released from speech therapy and occupational therapy last month. We are seeing her overcome more of her delayed developments, and we are so thankful for God's grace to her.

I am thankful that my brother's back surgery went well this past summer and he's recovering just fine.

I am thankful that my youngest brother rededicated his life to God last month. He still has a long way to go to overcome some other issues, but I see him trying and I hear it in his voice every time we talk on the phone. God is so good!

I'm thankful I wasn't laid off from my job this year, and I still pray for my co-workers who were, as well as my family members who have lost their jobs--my father, my brother, and two uncles.

I'm thankful for our health--even though we're getting older and my hubby is now needing bifocals, dental work, and I'm struggling with dry eyes--we are healthy! We can exercise and we have so many abilities that we sometimes take for granted.

I'm thankful we had another year with my father-in-law. Even after triple by-pass heart surgery and lung cancer surgery, and a heart aneurysm that he has to live with, he has outlasted some of the grim projections we received from his doctors. God is still on the throne and with Him all things are possible!

I am thankful for the new addition to our family, my sister's new baby girl, Sarah Elizabeth Moore. She is so precious!

I am thankful that after thirteen years of writing, over 122 rejections, three agents, and seven full-length, completed manuscripts later--I finally have a debut novel coming out this spring! God is so faithful!

I am thankful for my life and this journey God is taking me on--and all the things I don't have time to list. When I sit down to really think about it--I am so humbled by God's grace.

For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. (2 Corinthians 4:15)

Friday, November 20, 2009

19th Century Pianos


People in the 19th century didn't have radios, CD players, ipods, or live stream music from the Internet. If they wanted any kind of music, they had to produce it themselves. Therefore, among those that could afford it, one could walk into most any home and find a piano of some sort--much like today you'll find it rare to walk into a house and not find a TV. A young woman was expected to play the piano and it usually qualified as part of her studies.



The first photo in this post is of a mahogany square piano dated 1790. It was made by Charles Albrecht in Philadelphia. I apologize that the image isn't better or up close. I took this image in the Joseph Manigault Museum House in Charleston, SC.



Pianos first originated from the clavichord and the harpsichord. The clavichord was widely used through the Medieval period through the Renaissance era. The haprsichord is much larger as a winged shaped instrument with strings perpendicular to the keyboard. It was invented around the middle ages (abt. 1500).



In the 1720's Bartolomeo Cristofori of Italy inventend what we know as the modern piano. It virtually replaced the clavichord and the harpsichord in many homes. Throughout the next century, many changes where invented and adapted to the modern piano.



The second photo is of a pianoforte dated 1820. It is made by William Rolfe & Company in London and sold by Siegling Music House of Charleston, SC. I apologize for the lack of clarity. I snapped this photo through the glass at the Charleston Museum and I couldn't use a flash.



This final photo is of a beautiful piano that is one of my favorite antiques. I love the unique carving of the wood. It was made in 1860 by Timothy Gilbert of Boston, MA. It belonged to Mary Jane Williams (1833-1904), wife of James Harvey Carlson. It was donated by their great-grandson and now sits in the Rosedale Plantation House in Charlotte, NC.




I love piano music and I often listen to a CD of Beethoven or Bach, Claude DeBussy or Peter Tchaikovsky when I'm writing my Regency and Victorian era novels. I'll share a secret with you. I've always dreamed of playing the piano. When I was little, I begged my mother for piano lessons, but she said we couldn't afford a piano for me to practice on or the lessons. I never got my oppoturnity to play the piano. It's still a dream that I hope isn't too late in my adult heart. But now with working full-time, writing and researching all the time, and being a wife and mother, I don't know when I could squeeze it in. So I'll do the next best thing, keep pounding out my stories on my keyboard. It's ironic, but I suppose I was destined for a keyboard--just not the piano.



For now I'll listen to others play beautiful piano music.



But...maybe...one day...

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Wild Card Book Review - "The Swiss Courier"


and the book:


The Swiss Courier

Revell (October 1, 2009)


ABOUT THE AUTHORS:





Tricia Goyer is the author of several books, including Night Song and Dawn of a Thousand Nights, both past winners of the ACFW's Book of the Year Award for Long Historical Romance. Goyer lives with her family in Montana.

Visit the author's website.



Mike Yorkey is the author or coauthor of dozens of books, including the bestselling Every Man's Battle series. Married to a Swiss native, Yorkey lived in Switzerland for 18 months. He and his family currently reside in California.

Visit the author's website.



Product Details:

List Price: $13.99
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Revell (October 1, 2009)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0800733363
ISBN-13: 978-0800733360

AND NOW...THE FIRST CHAPTER:


To the Reader

In the early afternoon of July 20, 1944, Colonel Claus Graf von Stauffenberg confidently lugged a sturdy briefcase into Wolfsschanze—Wolf’s Lair—the East Prussian redoubt of Adolf Hitler. Inside the black briefcase, a small but powerful bomb ticked away, counting down the minutes to der Führer’s demise.


Several generals involved in the assassination plot arranged to have Stauffenberg invited to a routine staff meeting with Hitler and two dozen officers. The one o’clock conference was held in the map room of Wolfsschanze’s cement-lined underground bunker. Stauffenberg quietly entered the conference a bit tardy and managed to get close to Hitler by claiming he was hard of hearing. While poring over detailed topological maps of the Eastern Front’s war theater, the colonel unobtrusively set the briefcase underneath the heavy oak table near Hitler’s legs. After waiting for an appropriate amount of time, Stauffenberg excused himself and quietly exited the claustrophobic bunker, saying he had to place an urgent call to Berlin. When a Wehrmacht officer noticed the bulky briefcase was in his way, he inconspicuously moved it away from Hitler, placing it behind the other substantial oak support. That simple event turned the tide of history.


Moments later, a terrific explosion catapulted one officer to the ceiling, ripped off the legs of others, and killed four soldiers instantly. Although the main force of the blast was directed away from Hitler, the German leader nonetheless suffered burst eardrums, burned hair, and a wounded arm. He was in shock but still alive—and unhinged for revenge.


Stauffenberg, believing Hitler was dead, leaped into a staff car with his aide Werner von Haeften. They talked their way out of the Wolfsschanze compound and made a dash for a nearby airfield, where they flew back to Berlin in a Heinkel He 111. When news got out that Hitler had survived, Stauffenberg and three other conspirators were quickly tracked down, captured, and executed at midnight by a makeshift firing squad.


An enraged Hitler did not stop there to satisfy his bloodlust. For the next month and a half, he instigated a bloody purge, resulting in the execution of dozens of plotters and hundreds of others remotely involved in the assassination coup. The Gestapo, no doubt acting under Hitler’s orders, treated the failed attempt on the Führer’s life as a pretext for arresting 5,000 opponents of the Third Reich, many of whom were imprisoned and tortured.


What many people do not know is that Hitler’s manhunt would dramatically alter the development of a secret weapon that could turn the tide of the war for Nazi Germany—the atomic bomb.


This is that story . . .



1

Waldshut, Germany

Saturday, July 29, 1944

4 p.m.


He hoped his accent wouldn’t give him away. The young Swiss kept his head down as he sauntered beneath the frescoed archways that ringed the town square of Waldshut, an attractive border town in the foothills of the southern Schwarzwald. He hopped over a foot-wide, waterfilled trench that ran through the middle of the cobblestone square and furtively glanced behind to see if anyone had detected his presence.


Even though Switzerland lay just a kilometer or two away across the Rhine River, the youthful operative realized he no longer breathed free air. Though he felt horribly exposed—as if he were marching down Berlin’s Kurfürstendamm screaming anti-Nazi slogans—he willed himself to remain confident.


His part was a small but vital piece of the larger war effort. Yes, he risked his life, but he was not alone in his passion. A day’s drive away, American tanks drove for the heart of

Paris—and quickened French hearts for libération. Far closer, Nazi reprisals thinned the ranks of his fellow resisters. The young man shuddered at the thought of being captured, lined up against a wall, and hearing the click-click of a safety being unlatched from a Nazi machine gun. Still, his legs propelled him on.


Earlier that morning, he’d introduced himself as Jean- Pierre to members of an underground cell. The French Resistance had recently stepped up their acts of sabotage after the Allies broke out of the Normandy beachhead two weeks earlier, and they’d all taken nom de guerres in their honor.


Inside the pocket of his leather jacket, Jean-Pierre’s right hand formed a claw around a Mauser C96 semiautomatic pistol. His grip tightened, as if squeezing the gun’s metallic profile would reduce the tension building in his chest. The last few minutes before an operation always came to this.


His senses peaked as he took in the sights and sounds around him. At one end of the town square, a pair of disheveled older women complained to a local farmer about the fingerling size of the potato crop. A horse-drawn carriage, transporting four galvanized tin milk containers, rumbled by while a young newsboy screamed out, “Nachrichten!” The boy’s right hand waved day-old copies of the Badische Zeitung from Freiburg, eighty kilometers to the northwest.


Jean-Pierre didn’t need to read the newspaper to know that more men and women were losing their lives by the minute due to the reprisals of a madman.


Though the planned mission had been analyzed from every angle, there were always uncertain factors that would affect not only the outcome of the mission but who among them would live. Or die.


Their task was to rescue a half-dozen men arrested by local authorities following the assassination attempt on Reichskanzler Adolf Hitler. If things went as Jean-Pierre hoped,

the men would soon be free from the Nazis’ clutches. If not, the captives’ fate included an overnight trip to Berlin, via a cattle car, where they would be transported to Gestapo headquarters on Prinz-Albrecht-Strasse 8. The men would be questioned—tortured if they weren’t immediately forthcoming— until names, dates, and places gushed as freely as the blood spilling upon the cold, unyielding concrete floor.


Not that revealing any secrets would save their lives. When the last bit of information had been wrung from their minds, they’d be marched against a blood-spattered wall or to the gallows equipped with well-stretched hemp rope. May God have mercy on their souls.


Jean-Pierre willed himself to stop thinking pessimistically. He glanced at his watch—a pricey Hanhart favored by Luftwaffe pilots. His own Swiss-made Breitling had been tucked inside a wooden box on his nightstand back home, where he had also left a handwritten letter. A love note, actually, to a woman who had captured his heart—just in case he never returned. But this was a time for war, not love. And he had

to keep reminding himself of that.


Jean-Pierre slowed his gait as he left the town square and approached the town’s major intersection. As he had been advised, a uniformed woman—her left arm ringed with a red

armband and black swastika—directed traffic with a whistle and an attitude.


She was like no traffic cop he’d ever seen. Her full lips were colored with red lipstick. Black hair tumbled upon the shoulder epaulettes of the Verkehrskontrolle’s gray-green

uniform. She wielded a silver-toned baton, directing a rambling assortment of horse-drawn carriages, battered sedans, and hulking military vehicles jockeying for the right of way.


She looked no older than twenty-five, yet acted like she owned the real estate beneath her feet. Jean-Pierre couldn’t help but let his lips curl up in a slight grin, knowing what was

to come. “Entschuldigung, wo ist das Gemeindehaus?” a voice said beside him. Jean-Pierre turned to the rotund businessman in the fedora and summer business suit asking for directions to City Hall.


“Ich bin nicht sicher.” He shrugged and was about to fashion another excuse when a military transport truck turned a corner two blocks away, approaching in their direction.


“Es tut mir Leid.” With a wave, Jean-Pierre excused himself and sprinted toward the uniformed traffic officer. In one quick motion, his Mauser was drawn.


He didn’t break stride as he tackled the uniformed woman to the ground. Her scream blasted his ear, and more cries from onlookers chimed in.


Jean-Pierre straddled the frightened traffic officer and pressed the barrel of his pistol into her forehead. Her shrieking immediately ceased.


“Don’t move, and nothing will happen to you.”


Jean-Pierre glanced up as he heard the mud-caked transport truck skid to a stop fifty meters from them.


A Wehrmacht soldier hopped out. “Halt!” He clumsily drew his rifle to his right shoulder.


Jean-Pierre met the soldier’s eyes and rolled off the female traffic officer.


A shot rang out. The German soldier’s body jerked, and a cry of pain erupted from his lips. He clutched his left chest as a rivulet of blood stained his uniform.


“Nice shot, Suzanne.” Jean-Pierre jumped to his feet, glancing at the traffic cop, her stomach against the asphalt with her pistol drawn.


Suzanne rose from the ground, crouched, and aimed.


Her pistol, which had been hidden in an ankle holster, was now pointed at the driver behind the windshield. The determined look in her gaze was one Jean-Pierre had come to

know well.


One, two, three shots found their mark, shattering the truck’s glass into shards. The driver slumped behind the wheel.


As expected, two Wehrmacht soldiers jumped out of the back of the truck and took cover behind the rear wheels.


Before Jean-Pierre had a chance to take aim, shots rang out from a second-story window overlooking the intersection.


The German soldiers crumbled to the cobblestone pavement in a heap.


“Los jetzt!” He clasped Suzanne’s hand, and they sprinted to the rear of the truck. Two black-leather-coated members of their resistance group had already beaten them there.

Jean- Pierre couldn’t remember their names, but it didn’t matter.


What mattered was the safety of the prisoners in the truck. Jean-Pierre only hoped the contact’s information had been correct.


With a deep breath, he lifted the curtain and peered into the truck. A half-dozen frightened men sat on wooden benches with hands raised. Their wide eyes and dropped jaws displayed their fear.


“Don’t shoot!” one cried.


The sound of a police siren split the air.


“Everyone out!” Jean-Pierre shouted. “I’ll take this one. The rest of you, go with them.” He pointed the tip of his Mauser at the men in leather jackets.


The sirens increased in volume as the speeding car gobbled up distance along the Hauptstrasse, weaving through the autos and pedestrians. An officer in the passenger’s seat leaned out, rifle pointed.


Jean-Pierre leaned into the truck and yanked the prisoner’s arm. Suzanne grabbed the other. “Move it, come on!”


Bullets from an approaching vehicle whizzed past Jean- Pierre’s ear. The clearly frightened prisoner suddenly found his legs, and the three sprinted away from the speedingcar.


Jean-Pierre’s feet pounded the pavement, and he tugged on the prisoner’s arm, urging him to run faster. He could hear the screech of the tires as the police car stopped just behind the truck. Jean-Pierre hadn’t expected the local Polizei to respond so rapidly.


They needed to find cover—


More gunfire erupted, and as if reading his thoughts, Suzanne turned the prisoner toward a weathered column. Jean-Pierre crumbled against the pillar, catching his breath.


The columns provided cover, but not enough. Soon the police would be upon them. They had to make a move. Only ten steps separated them from turning the street corner and sprinting into Helmut’s watch store. From there, a car waited outside the back door.


Another hail of gunfire struck the plaster. Jean-Pierre mouthed a prayer under his breath.


“Suzanne, we have to get out of here!”


She crouched into a trembling ball, all confidence gone. “They’re surrounding us!” The terror in her uncertain timbre was clear. “But what can we do? We can’t let them see us run into the store.”


“Forget that. We have no choice!” Jean-Pierre raised his pistol and returned several volleys, firing at the two policemen perched behind a parked car.


“Listen to me,” he said to Suzanne, taking his eyes momentarily off the police car. “You have to go. You take this guy, and I’ll cover you. Once you turn the corner, it’s just twenty more meters to Helmut’s store.” His hands moved as he spoke, slamming a new clip of ammunition into his pistol.


“But what if—”


“I’ll join you. Now go!”


Jean-Pierre jumped from behind the protection of the column and rapidly fired several shots. One cop dared expose himself to return fire—not at Jean-Pierre but at the pair running for the corner.


No!


Jean-Pierre turned just in time to see Suzanne’s body lurch. The clean hit ripped into her flesh between the shoulder blades. She staggered for a long second before dropping

with a thud. The gangly prisoner didn’t even look back as he disappeared around the corner.


I can’t lose him, Jean-Pierre thought, remembering again the importance of this mission.


Yet to chase after the prisoner meant he’d have to leave his partner behind.

Suzanne . . .


He emptied his Mauser at the hidden policemen, ducking as he scrambled toward his partner. Sweeping up her bloody form, he managed to drag her around the corner to safety.


“Go,” Suzanne whispered.


“I can’t leave you. Stay with me—”


Her eyelids fluttered. “You need to go . . .” A long breath escaped, and her gaze fixed on a distant point beyond him.


Jean-Pierre dropped to his knees and ripped open Suzanne’s bloodstained woolen jacket. Her soaked chest neither rose nor fell. He swore under his breath and brushed a lock of

black hair from her face.


Jean-Pierre cocked his head. Incessant gunfire filled the air. His colleagues were apparently keeping the German soldiers and local Polizei at bay, at least for the time being. He knew only a few valuable seconds remained to escape with

the prisoner.


He planted a soft kiss on Suzanne’s forehead. “Until we see each other in heaven,” he whispered.


Jean-Pierre darted to a trash can, where the shaken prisoner had hunkered down, covering his head. The resistance fighter clutched the man’s left arm and hustled him inside the watch store, pushing past two startled women. The rear door was propped open, and a black Opel four-door idled in the alley.


With a few quick steps, they were inside the vehicle.


Before the rear door was shut, the driver jerked the car into gear, and the Opel roared down the tight alley. The door slammed shut, and Jean-Pierre glanced back. No one followed.


The car merged onto a busier street, and only then did Jean-Pierre sink in his seat and close his eyes.


Soon they’d arrive at a safe house pitched on the Rhine River. And later, with the dark night sky as their protection, a skiff would sneak them into the warm arms of Mother

Switzerland—a skiff piloted by the mentor who’d recruited him. His nom de guerre: Pascal.


Jean-Pierre’s mission would soon be complete, but at what cost? Another agent—a good woman and a friend—had been sacrificed.


He had followed orders for the greater good, to save the life of a nameless prisoner. He only hoped this mission was worth it.


Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey, The Swiss Courier: A Novel,

Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, © 2009. Used by permission

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Writing the Christian Romance"


If you ever struggle with writing about relationships and showing them progressing at an appropriate level, then I would suggest reading the book, Writing The Christian Romance by Gail Gaymer Martin. She builds insight into different kinds of personalities and how they respond to other personalities. I especially like the analogies and examples she uses in showing the gender differences in thought pattern, behavior, and responses.

When I'm writing the POV of a man, sometimes I'll have my husband read it and he'll tell me, " a guy wouldn't say that." And of course, then I want to know what he would say. My husband can give me ideas, but it usually comes in the form of a modern guy and I'm usually writing about 19th century England or medieval Scotland. Then I'm left to translate, which can be even harder, if I don't understand the character's train of thought.

Writing the Christian Romance helped me connect all these things together in my writing. When I started implementing some of these suggestions into my writing, I noticed a difference in my critique partners' responses to my work-in-progress. Some of the information in this book we already know, but it's presented in a way that helps us better utilize what we know.

The book covers the difference between sensuality and sexuality. Gail compares Christian romance to secular romance and gives you an idea of how much is too much and explains how different publishers have various thresholds. This is a huge topic of debate in the Christian romance publishing industry. She gives some great adivce on how to use sensuality to one's advantage without it crossing the line.

Some other great topics included in the book are: the power of emotions and senses, spirituality in romance, writing believable dialogue, introspection, plotting a Christian romance, and how to sell a Christian romance novel.

Writing a Christian Romance is a wonderful writing resource I wanted to share with you. It's available on Amazon and Writer's Digest.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

CFBA Book Review - "A Measure of Mercy"



The


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


A Measure of Mercy



by


Lauraine Snelling



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Award-winning and best selling author Lauraine Snelling began living her dream to be a writer with her first published book for young adult readers, Tragedy on the Toutle, in 1982. She has since continued writing more horse books for young girls, adding historical and contemporary fiction and nonfiction for adults and young readers to her repertoire. All total, she has up to sixty books published.

Shown in her contemporary romances and women’s fiction, a hallmark of Lauraine’s style is writing about real issues of forgiveness, loss, domestic violence, and cancer within a compelling story. Her work has been translated into Norwegian, Danish, and German, and she has won the Silver Angel Award for An Untamed Land and a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart for Song of Laughter.

As a most sought after speaker, Lauraine encourages others to find their gifts and live their lives with humor and joy. Her readers clamor for more books, and Lauraine would like to comply ... if only her paintbrushes and easel didn’t call quite so loudly.

Lauraine and her husband, Wayne, have two grown sons, and live in the Tehachapi Mountains with a cockatiel named Bidley, and a watchdog Basset named Chewy. They love to travel, most especially in their forty-foot motor coach, which they affectionately deem “a work in progress”.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Eighteen-year-old Astrid Bjorklund has always dreamed of becoming a doctor. She had intended to study medicine in Chicago or Grand Forks, but when a disaster wiped out a major portion of her family's income, Astrid stayed home instead, receiving hands-on training from Dr. Elizabeth.

Joshua Landsverk left Blessing two years ago, but he's never forgotten Astrid. Returning to town, he seeks to court her.

Astrid is attracted to him, and when the opportunity unexpectedly opens for her to go to Chicago for medical training, she finds it difficult to leave. Love blossoms through their letters, but upon arriving back home, she makes a heartbreaking discovery. She learns he's left town--again. Believing Joshua no longer loves her, Astrid makes an impetuous, heart-wrenching decision.

Will she regret the choice she's made? Will she have to give up love to pursue her dream?

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Measure of Mercy, go HERE.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Wading through Suggestions


The other day I sent out a book blurb for feedback on a couple of writing loops I'm on. In good faith, several writers sent back some comments and a couple tried to reword everything. I went through all their suggestions and realized I couldn't go with what each person said. Some comments contradicted others, and a few changes didn't sound any better than what I'd already written, and some suggestions were better. If I had been a new writer, I would have thrown up my hands in eternal confusion.

I took a day or took to evaluate the plot points that needed to be on the back cover blurb, and I realized that some of the motivational questions people were asking didn't need to be answered on the back cover. It stirred the interest I wanted to pique and that is the purpose for the back cover copy. I prayed about it and with patience decided what suggestions I wanted to keep and which ones I needed to ignore.


This is part of writing. Yes, what I had written would have worked--and in my humble opinion--it was good. But what I was after--was to make it better. My friends helped me do that, but first I had to wade through the varying opinions on how to make that happen. When you ask for opinions, that's exactly what you'll get, a wide range of varying ideas and thoughts that are as different as day and night, and very subjective.

I now have a great back cover blurb--or what I think is great. It wouldn't work for everyone, but I'm hoping it will work for those who have similar tastes as me. I believe these individuals will eventually become my core readers--the ones who like most of what I write--because we have the same interests and tastes. And as a result, I'm very thankful to my writing friends who took the time out of their busy schedules to give me suggestions. That is what these writing loops are for--to help each other.

What about you? Have you ever asked for help on something and the help you received seemed overwheing or confusing? How did you wade your way through it?

Friday, November 06, 2009

Looking for Influencers

I'm now looking for influencers. If you aren't an author, you might be wondering what that is. Influencers will pass out promotional items such as bookmarks, flyers, postcards, and business cards to church friends, local libraries and bookstores. If you have a blog or website, you could post an announcement about my book, or a link to my website or blog, review my book, or interview me. If you belong to a readers book club, you could suggest my book.

The idea is to generate awareness about my book,
Highland Blessings. I would be forever grateful, plus I'll send you a copy of my book as soon as it is available. You don't have to do all of these things, but I would appreciate influencers to do at least 2-3 of these suggestions. I posted this on my Facebook Fan page yesterday so I apologize if this is a repeat for you.

If you are interested, please send me an email at jt4novels@yahoo.com and type "Influencer" in the subject line. I'll then request your mailing address so I can send you a package of materials.

For those of you who are authors, I'd be interested in hearing other ideas of how you promoted your debut novel, or how other authors you know might have promoted their book.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

CFBA Book Tour - "eye of the god"



The


Christian Fiction Blog Alliance


is introducing


eye of the god


Abingdon Press (October 1, 2009)


by


Ariel Allison



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Allison is a published author who lives in a small Texas town with her husband and three young sons. She is the co-author of Daddy Do You Love Me: a Daughter’s Journey of Faith and Restoration (New Leaf Press, 2006). Justin Case, the first of three children’s books will be published by Harvest House in June 2009. Ariel is a weekly contributor to www.ChristianDevotions.us and has written for Today’s Christian Woman. She ponders on life as a mother of all boys at www.themoabclub.blogspot.com and on her thoughts as a redeemed dreamer at www.arielallison.blogspot.com.


From Ariel:
I am the daughter of an acclaimed and eccentric artist, and given my “unconventional” childhood, had ample time to explore the intricacies of story telling. I was raised at the top of the Rocky Mountains with no running water or electricity (think Laura Ingles meets the Hippie Movement), and lived out the books I read while running barefoot through the sagebrush. My mother read to me by the light of a kerosene lantern for well over a decade, long after I could devour an entire novel in the course of a day. Authors such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkein, George MacDonald, and L.M. Montgomery were the first to capture my heart and I have
grown to love many others since.

ABOUT THE BOOK:

eye of the god takes the fascinating history surrounding the Hope Diamond and weaves it together with a present-day plot to steal the jewel from the Smithsonian Institute.

We follow Alex and Isaac Weld, the most lucrative jewel thieves in the world, in their quest to steal the gem, which according to legend was once the eye of a Hindu idol named Rama Sita. When it was stolen in the 17th century, it is said that the idol cursed all those who would possess it. That won’t stop the brilliant and ruthless Weld brothers.

However, they are not prepared for Dr. Abigail Mitchell, the beautiful Smithsonian Director, who has her own connection to the Hope Diamond and a deadly secret to keep. Abby committed long ago that she would not serve a god made with human hands, and the “eye of the god” is no exception. Her desire is not for wealth, but for wisdom. She seeks not power, but restoration.

When the dust settles over the last great adventure of the Hope Diamond, readers will understand the “curse” that has haunted its legacy is nothing more than the greed of evil men who bring destruction upon themselves. No god chiseled from stone can direct the fates of humankind, nor can it change the course of God’s story.

If you would like to read the prologue and first chapter of eye of the god, go HERE.

Ariel is a fellow author with my publisher, Abingdon Press.

Monday, November 02, 2009

The Balance of Pacing


Pacing is the steady flow of the story, whether it be a fast pace or slow. Action scenes increases pacing, while reflective scenes slows pacing. Too much action can cause confusion and give the reader no time to reflect on what is happening, while too much reflection bogs the reader with unnecessary insight and detail in a character's thoughts and risks boring the reader. This is why proper balance is so important for a book's pacing.

Depending on the type of novel, an excellent strategy on pacing is to write an action scene and follow with a reflective scene. A suspense or thriller novel may require a more intense strategy of action scenes before a reflective scene. Action scenes are also a great way to enhance a sagging middle.

Ways to Increase Pacing
1) Introduce Conflict -- Create an obstacle that would prevent a character from achieving a goal. As soon as one conflict is about to be solved, introduce another conflict, or if possible, one that is worse.
2) Dialogue -- Intense or amusing dialogue can also increase pacing. It makes the flow read faster and can reveal new conflict, show tension, or reveal backstory in a way that doesn't slow pacing, but increases curiosity.
3) Foreshadowing -- Alerting the reader to potential conflict, not only increases pacing, but gives something for the reader to anticipate without knowing how an event will happen or how it will affect the characters and their decisions.
4) Add a Subplot -- By adding a new element or subplot to the story, the stakes are raised and a character's motivation can change.

Ways to Slow Pacing
1) Layer in Backstory -- Use backstory where necessary to help a reader understand a character's motivation to achieve their goals.
2) Stretch the Tension -- During a reflective scene, delay a person's decision or action by showing another POV, or have a secondary character interrupt the action. These techniques slow the action, while deepening the impact.
3) Use Introspection -- Show the internal thought process of a character's reaction to an event in an action scene.

Are there any other ways you change the pacing in your novels? What are some reasons that motivate you to consider pacing?