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.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Word of Inspiration: We are Adopted by God

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)

We do not have to be blood descendants of Christ or born a Jew to be children of God. We don't have to accomplish great works or be special people to be chosen. If we want to belong to God, according to His will, not ours, we have that right. We are his adopted children. What do all good parents do for their children? They love them. We are greatly loved by the God of the universe!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Find Your Characters as You Create Them

I'm a visual writer. This means that I see my characters, the setting, and watch the story unfold in my mind as I write. It's like I have a movie playing in my head.

By the time, my publisher asks me to fill out my book cover information with images that represent my characters, I've plowed through the story and finished the first draft. I know my characters intimately. This makes it harder to find images to represent them, since they are their own people. No one seems right. Just because an actress has blond hair and blue eyes, doesn't mean she looks enough like MY character to choose her. There are millions of people with blond hair and blue eyes and all of them are different.

To make matters even more difficult, sometimes my publisher will need the form filled out and returned in 2-3 days, or over the weekend. I end up spending hours browsing photos until I get a headache and then I solicit my husband's help. Often, he has also read the story and will be a huge help in weeding out people. 

Right now, I'm starting a new story. This time around, I'm searching for the right image as I create my characters. I'm not too emotionally attached to them, but I do have a vague sense of them. I don't know why I haven't done this before. Now when I get my book cover form from my publisher in six months, I'll be ready with my character images already selected. 

After going through this process several times, I would suggest finding your characters as you create them. 

If you're a writer, how do you select your characters? Do you manage the leg work at the beginning of the process or at the end? Do you feel like you need to know them better before you can select images to represent them?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Word of Inspiration: Faith is Unseen

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1

This is one of my favorite verses. In fact, for years I've had it taped to the bottom of my computer monitor as I worked year after year, praying and hoping, building faith that my books would one day be published. It wasn't something that was a reality, and with 122+ rejections from agents, family and friends began to wonder if I was chasing a pipe dream. Now it is a reality. Faith isn't something we can see, but it IS something we can hold onto. As children of God, we can take our dreams, ideas and concepts to Him, keep working and doing our part to make it a reality while we wait with patience and faith. When the time is right, God will make it a reality.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

CFBA Blog Tour - "Wedded to War" by Jocelyn Green


The
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Wedded to War
• River North; New Edition edition
by
Jocelyn Green



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Jocelyn Green is a child of God, wife and mom living in Cedar Falls, Iowa. She is also an award-winning journalist, author, editor and blogger. Though she has written nonfiction on a variety of topics, her name is most widely recognized for her ministry to military wives: Faith Deployed. Her passion for the military family was fueled by her own experience as a military wife, and by the dozens of interviews she has conducted with members of the military for her articles and books, Faith Deployed: Daily Encouragement for Military Wives and its sequel, Faith Deployed...Again: More Daily Encouragement for Military Wives. She is also co-author of both Stories of Faith and Courage from the War in Iraq & Afghanistan and Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front (forthcoming, May 2012). Her Faith Deployed Web site and Facebook page continue to provide ongoing support, encouragement and resources for military wives worldwide.


ABOUT THE BOOK:

When war erupted, she gave up a life of privilege for a life of significance.

Tending to the army's sick and wounded meant leading a life her mother does not understand and giving up a handsome and approved suitor. Yet Charlotte chooses a life of service over privilege, just as her childhood friend had done when he became a military doctor. She soon discovers that she's combatting more than just the rebellion by becoming a nurse. Will the two men who love her simply stand by and watch as she fights her own battles? Or will their desire for her wage war on her desire to serve God?

Wedded to War is a work of fiction, but the story is inspired by the true life of Civil War nurse Georgeanna Woolsey. Woolsey's letters and journals, written over 150 years ago, offer a thorough look of what pioneering nurses endured. This is the first in the series "Heroines Behind the Lines: Civil War," a collection of novels that highlights the crucial contributions made by women during times of war.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Wedded to War, go HERE.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

CFBA Blog Tour - "The Search" by Shelley Shepard Gray


The
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
The Search
Avon Inspire; Original edition
by
Shelley Shepard Gray



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Since 2000, Shelley Sabga has sold over thirty novels to numerous publishers, including HarperCollins, Harlequin, Abingdon Press, and Avon Inspire. She has been interviewed by NPR, and her books have been highlighted in numerous publications, including USA Today and The Wall Street Journal.

Under the name Shelley Shepard Gray, Shelley writes Amish romances for HarperCollins’ inspirational line, Avon Inspire. Her recent novel, The Protector, the final book in her “Families of Honor” series, hit the New York Times List, and her previous novel in the same series, The Survivor, appeared on the USA Today bestseller list. Shelley has won the prestigious Holt Medallion for her books, Forgiven and Grace, and her novels have been chosen as Alternate Selections for the Doubleday/Literary Guild Book Club. Her first novel with Avon Inspire, Hidden, was an Inspirational Reader’s Choice finalist.

Before writing romances, Shelley lived in Texas and Colorado, where she taught school and earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education. She now lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. Shelley is married, the mother of two children in college, and is an active member of her church. She serves on committees, volunteers in the church office, and currently leads a Bible study group, and she looks forward to the opportunity to continue to write novels that showcase her Christian ideals. When she’s not writing, Shelley often attends conferences and reader retreats in order to give workshops and publicize her work.

Check out Shelley's Facebook Fan page.


ABOUT THE BOOK:

The serenity of the quiet Amish community of Crittenden, Kentucky is disrupted when Abby Anderson discovers the body of Perry Borntrager in an abandoned well. Perry had been missing for months. Everyone figured he had left the order during his rumspringa. As friends and family reel from this news, and are faced with the first death by mysterious circumstance to occur in their small town in over 20 years, a homicide detective arrives to help solve the crime.

Before Perry disappeared, Frannie Eicher and Perry had been secretly courting. Now that it’s common knowledge that he was murdered, it’s up to Fannie to decide whether or not to tell everyone about the secrets he told her.

After much deliberation, she decides to tell Luke Reynolds, the visiting police officer, what she knows. At first, the two meet only on the context of discussing Perry’s death. Then, Luke begins to feel more and more at home, both with Frannie, and in Marion. The only problem is that he feels a romantic pull toward Frannie. She feels that same attraction toward Luke, but is afraid to give her heart to him. After all, she doesn’t want to leave her faith.

As Luke uncovers more secrets about Perry and the case draws out, his time in Marion runs out. He has to decide whether to go back to his job with the Cincinnati Police Department…or stay in Marion.

If you would like to read the Prologue of The Search, go HERE.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Word of Inspiration: Be a Stepping Stone to Christ, Not a Stumbling Block

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” (Romans 1:16) 

Some people are tempted to hide their Christianity, especially if they hold a public position that could cause them a bit of criticism or controversy, such as separation of Church and State. They feel like there is a fine line they must walk to preserve their jobs or a distance they must keep so they won't draw any attention to themselves that could be perceived as allowing their faith to affect their jobs. Others don't want to be seen as a Holy-Roller, Bible-Thumping Christians who are completely sold out to Jesus. They want to remain in the safety zone of being a Christian, but perceived as being normal--like the world.


Jesus didn't half-way die to bring us salvation. He went all the way, and we must go all the way in accepting Him. There is nothing to be ashamed of in our faith. It is the only way--the only power--that can bring salvation after death for those who believe. He died for everyone whether they are of Jewish descent or gentiles of any nation, race, culture or background. Be sold out to Christ. Be a living witness. Allow your life to draw others closer to Him--the truth. You may be the only stepping stone to Christ they will ever see or hear even if it is through your job or at school among your peers. Our daily lives mean more than we realize and the battle zone doesn't always take place outside of us, but sometimes inside of us, as we decided which days and in what circumstances we will be used by God. Be a stepping stone to Christ, not a stumbling block.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Touring Margaret Mitchell House & Rhodes Hall Castle

A few years ago, we had the great pleasure of visiting the Margaret Mitchell House. Margaret is the famous author who wrote Gone With the Wind.

Margaret Mitchell House


Even though the house is a three-story home built in 1899, Margaret and her husband only lived in a small apartment downstairs and it was here where she wrote Gone With the Wind. The house was divided into a total of 10 apartments in 1919. Margaret and her husband, John Marsh moved into the tiny apartment in 1925 when the place was known as Crescent Apartments. The space was very small and they have Margaret's black typewriter on display with pieces of her original work, as well as letters she had written to family and friends. 

Margaret was born in 1900 and in 1918 she lost her fiance in WWI, as well as her mother to a flu epidemic not long after. A couple of years later, Margaret shocked Atlanta Society by performing a provocative dance at a debutante ball and had a whirlwind romance with Berrien "Red" Upshaw, a bootlegger. The marriage didn't last long with financial problems forcing her to write for the Atlanta Journal Sunday Magazine. They divorced in 1924 and she married John Marsh within the year. He was a former suitor and an editor at the paper.

Margaret began writing Gone With the Wind and it took her 10 years to complete. It was finally published in 1936, and made into a movie starring Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh in 1939. It was only 10 years later in 1949 when Margaret was struck by a car while crossing the street and killed.

Most people would agree that Gone With the Wind is probably the greatest novel with the most copies ever sold and is still selling today. The same goes for the movie. It has become a classic. I was almost heartbroken when I was 12 and discovered that Margaret Mitchell wrote no other books.

Can you imagine spending that much time on one book? My first book took me several years, but when I decided to get serious about it, the project really took me 2 years. Then I began finishing at least one book per year, and now that I have deadlines, I'm trying to complete a book every 6 months.Some of my unpublished manuscripts will probably be rewritten--again at some point.


I discovered some things when I went to Atlanta and visited the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum. She wrote the ending first. None of her chapters were written in order. How does one write like this? I've never written a book out of sequence order, yet I hear that other authors do this all the time.

(The portrait of Scarlett O'Hara was used in the Gone With the Wind Movie.)

People criticized Gone With the Wind. They complained it was too long. The editors didn't like the name of her heroine, so Katie Scarlett O'Hara was a revised name. Margaret Mitchell didn't turn in one complete and tidy manuscript to her editor. She dumped it on him with various chapters in different manila envelopes in no particular order. He had to buy another suitcase so he could get the manuscript home.

She was a closet writer--she didn't want people to know she was writing a book. I've lost count of the number of times an editor has requested my work and my husband got excited and told everyone. Then the rejection would come and I'd be so embarrassed. Now I don't care if they understand or not. I know it's a blessing just to have the request, especially after they've already reviewed my partial. Something in my writing had to be good enough to pique their interest.

Rhodes Hall Castle


Rhodes Hall Castle was built by the man that started Rhodes furniture. He loved the European castles and wanted his home to have that kind of look. During Margret Mitchell's time, the house became the holding for the city's archives and records, so Margaret spent some time at this house researching history for her novel. It's down the street from her house, so we took a short walk and toured this beautiful home, as well.

Our guide took us to the top of the tower where we were able to go out and look over the city of Atlanta. It was beautiful, but windy. I could imagine writing a number of novels from the tower. I'm sure Margaret Mitchell enjoyed doing her research here. The house contains a carved mahogany staircase with stained and painted glass windows depicting the rise and fall of the Confederacy from Fort Sumter to Appomattox. It includes medallion portraits of several Confederate officers.

In 1901 construction on the house began. They hauled granite stone from Stone Mountain on the other side of Atlanta. It was built in the Romanesque Revival style and completed in 1904. It was wired for electricity and has over 300 light bulbs and call buttons, something that was very rare for most 1904 homes.

Have you been to either one of these homes for a visit?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

CFBA Blog Tour - "Short Straw Bride" by Karen Witemeyer


The
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
Short-Straw Bride
Bethany House Publishers
by
Karen Witemeyer
#christianfiction, #christianromance



ABOUT THE AUTHOR:


Karen Witemeyer is a deacon's wife and mother of three 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.

After growing up in California, Karen moved to Texas to attend Abilene Christian University where she earned bachelor and master's degrees in Psychology. It was also there that she met and married her own Texas hero. He roped her in good, for she has lived in Texas ever since. In fact, she fell so in love with this rugged land of sweeping sunsets and enduring pioneer spirit, that she incorporates it into the pages of her novels, setting her stories in the small towns of a state that burgeoned into greatness in the mid-to late1800s.

Karen is living her dream by writing Christian historical romance novels for Bethany House.


ABOUT THE BOOK:

No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.

Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet, when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.

If you would like to read the first chapter of Short-Straw Bride, go HERE.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Word of Inspiration: God Will Complete You!

“Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6) 

If you feel like you can't get your life straightened out, you keep messing up, and things will never be the way they should be, then meditate on this verse. It's meant for you. God put the desire in you to change your circumstance--to do better. This is the good work that He has begun in you. He is telling you to be confident in His work. God doesn't make junk. You were not born to be perfect, but to be made perfect in Christ. God will complete you!

Monday, July 09, 2012

Guest Blogger: Linda Rondeau - "Future History on America II: The Reformation"



Please welcome today's guest Blogger, Linda Rondeau! A graduate of Houghton College, she credits her experience in the drama of Human Services as the edge in creating unforgettable characters. She's a member of Florida Writers Association, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the owner and founder of Pentalk, a community of writers.  Linda contributes a monthly column to a community newspaper, This Daily Grind and also blogs at Back in the Daze. Also writing as Linda Wood Rondeau, she's published The Other Side of Darkness. Linda now resides in Jacksonville, FL with her husband Steve and their cat Duffer. When not writing, she enjoys theater, golf, and hiking. You'll find Linda on Facebook, Linked In, Goodreads, Twitter or on her website at www.lindarondeau.com.

Since this month's theme on my blog is about Colonial History, I asked Linda to talk about how her fiction book set in America's future compares to America's Colonial history.
 ____________________________________________

“Hegel was right when he said that we learn from history that man can never learn anything from history.” George Bernard Shaw

I love history and am a museum freak. Then why don’t I write historical novels though I enjoy reading them?

Maybe someday I will. For now, I enjoy blending history into my novels. In my first book, The Other Side of Darkness, an inspirational romantic suspense written under the name Linda Wood Rondeau, I weave historical references into a contemporary setting that creates an ethereal aura throughout the book.

M soon to be released novel, written under L.W. Rondeau, America II: The Reformation, begins the saga of a post apocalyptic world, a global government on the verge of civil war. It tells of the struggle of freedom, and the never-dying quest for individuality.  

Early America was formed by individuals who sought to make a better world in a new land, many to pursue religious freedom. Like-minded colonies banded together forming a separate government yet remained loyal to their mother country. As the colonies flourished, they became stronger, diminishing their dependence upon England. They even formed government apart from English rule. However, England could not afford to lose the wealth and goods the colonies provided. English rule became oppressive and the colonies rebelled to form a new nation. 

In America’s future, all nations have surrendered their sovereignty to form a global democratic government called The Accord, short-lived and replaced by an oppressive faux democracy called the Constitutional Government, so named for its Fourteen Articles of Constitution, where religious observance of any kind is forbidden. However, dissidents could leave the fortified cities and fend for themselves in uninhabitable areas called the outland, much like the colonists traveled to a new world for their religious beliefs. 

The Western America outland learned to band together and thrived, their goods and tribute to the Constitutional Government invaluable. When these communities formed a cohesive government called the Network, the core of The Constitutional Government: one nation, one world, one vision, becomes threatened, especially if these dissidents claim themselves an independent land. If they secede, other outlands are likely to follow suit, thus splintering the Constitutional Government, plunging the world into global civil war once again. 

To prevent this, the in-coming President of the Constitutional Government, has designed a Preservation Act which will make all dissidence, past and present, an act of treason punishable by death. The harsh stance of the Constitutional Government cannot quell the deafening cry for freedom.  


America II: The Reformation (Back Cover Blurb)

The year is 2073, and current governor of Western America Province, Edwin Rowlands, is poised to become the Constitutional Government’s second president. Many fear that the sweeping reforms found in his proposed Preservation Act will set him up as a dictator. If enacted, defection both past and present would become a crime punishable by death, thus bringing all outlands into crushing subjection. 

While most believe reform is critical, factions disagree on how to prevent the Preservation Act from becoming law. Ahmed Farid, second President, believes reform can be managed within the existing government. Leader of the Revolutionary Army, Jimmy Kinnear, trusts only in military intervention. However, Jacob Goodayle, Chairman of Western America’s illegal outland government, favors separatism. 

As tensions rise, civil war seems imminent. Who will be the voice of reason in a world on the verge of a third dark age? 


 

Monday, July 02, 2012

Guest Post: "Why I Don't Write Historicals" by Deborah Raney

Please welcome Author Deborah Raney. Her books have won the RITA Award, HOLT Medallion, National Readers' Choice Award, Silver Angel, and a Christy Award finalist twice. Her first novel, A Vow to Cherish, inspired the World Wide Pictures film of the same title. She and her husband, Ken Raney, have four children and enjoy small-town life in Kansas.
__________________________________

Last spring, when a friend invited me to post on her historical fiction blog, I was honored, but my first panicked thought was, "what on earth do I have to say about historical fiction?" While I love to read historical novels, I've only written one, a novella. (Had it been a full-length historical, I'd still be asking for extensions on my deadline!) The only thing that experience accomplished was to convince me I'd best stick to writing contemporary. Why? Oh, let me count the ways...

My first sentence of my first draft of "Circle of Blessings"––set in 1864 in the Dakota Territory––read something like this:

Heather Bradford grabbed her handbag from the credenza in the parlor and stepped out onto the back deck, panning the horizon.

My fingers paused on the keyboard. Was a purse actually called a "handbag" back then? Better check. Webster said the word "handbag" only came into popular use around 1862. My Heather lived in a rather remote area and was not especially fashion conscious. Not likely she'd have adopted such a newfangled term. Two hours of research later, I settled on "reticule" and hoped my editor would correct me if I was wrong.

Sadly, my research also unearthed the fact that Heather would have to wait at least sixteen years to call her sideboard/buffet a "credenza" since Webster dated that word at 1880. Okay, delete and replace. So now my first sentence read:

Heather Bradford grabbed her reticule from the sideboard in the parlor and stepped out onto the back deck, panning the horizon.

Hmmm...come to think of it, I doubt it was typical to build a deck onto homes back then. Or at least if they did, they'd call it something else. A porch? Or a veranda? Portico, maybe? Terrace? I highlighted the phrase "onto the back deck." My brother is an architect. He probably took some architectural history classes on his way to getting licensed. I could give him a call later.

I read my sentence again. Something still seemed "off." The word "panning" stood out somehow. I looked it up: pan [verb] –– to rotate (as a motion-picture camera) so as to keep an object in the picture or secure a panoramic effect. 1930. Shoot! It was a movie term. I couldn't use a movie term in a novel set in 1864! Delete delete delete. I was starting to hate this Webster guy.

Heather Bradford grabbed her reticule from the sideboard in the parlor and stepped out onto the porch[?], scanning the horizon.

Wait! Was "scanning" a printing term? You know: PSC. Printer/Scanner/Copier? Consult Webster. Nope, I was okay there. "Scan" was also a legitimate and ancient verb.

But my heroine's name didn't ring true. Sure it was one of the most common and popular names at the time I was writing that novella, but further research revealed that the name was almost nonexistent as a woman's name before 1940.

Okay, fine. I could change her name. My great-grandmother was born around 1880. It would probably be safe to use her name, Stella. Delete delete delete delete.

Stella Bradford grabbed her reticule from the sideboard in the parlor and stepped out onto the porch[?], scanning the horizon.

Three days and 578,642 dead brain cells later, I finally had an opening line for my novella, but by now I was second-guessing myself on every single word. Was the word "grabbed" in use back in 1864? Probably, but had the term made its way to the Dakota Territory by then? Was there even a horizon back in 1864? Sheesh!

I finally, finally finished "A Circle of Blessings" and it appeared in the lovely Christmas anthology, A Currier & Ives Christmas. This month, A Prairie Christmas Collection, a new anthology of historical Christmas romances, releases from Barbour Books and my name will be one of those on the cover. But don't let that fool you. My offering to that collection of wonderful stories is again "Circle of Blessings," the first, last––and only––historical piece Deborah Raney ever wrote.

And now you know why I write contemporary. And why I have such deep respect for the authors of the historical novels I love to read. My hat (or should that be chapeau?) is off to every one of them!