Thursday, May 30, 2013

The Next Big Thing!

I’ve been tagged to take part in The Next Big Thing by Janet Brown, author of Victoria and the Ghost and Divine Dining I answer ten questions about my next book then pass the baton on to another author. Follow the fun, and discover what writing adventures these authors have been up to!

What is the working title of your next book?

Seasons of Hope, coauthored with Jennifer Slattery 

Where did the idea come from for the book?

I grew up in Christian camping ministry in East Tennessee, so I wanted to profile a similar fictional camp with colorful characters reminiscent of my adventures growing up. I typically like to highlight an issue passionate on my heart. While Seasons of Hope doesn’t deal with a specific challenge like trafficking or same-sex attraction, the story does encourage the reader to ponder what it means to really forgive someone for abuse, not merely past offenses, but hurts that are ongoing and pervasive. Alcoholism is so rampant in our world and affects so many people that I wanted to highlight that addiction. To add layers to the conflict I brainstormed until I came up with my blind character, Loni, who sees more with her heart than the average person does with his eyes. This is largely what attracts Michael to her, since he’s been blinded by his own bitterness toward his father for so long.
In what genre does your book fall?
Contemporary romance
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

Ben Affleck for Michael. Although Ben’s ten years older than my hero, his face kept coming to me when I visualized Michael. And for Loni, Bryce Dallas Howard, who’s also a few years older than my heroine. 

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

A blind woman seeks refuge at Camp Hope only to encounter the man who took her sight. 

Who is publishing your book?


How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?

Four months. Since Jennifer and I are critique partners, I bounced the manuscript over to her. With such wonderful insights and skill, Jennifer spotted areas that required more depth and development. After prayer and thought, we decided to team up on this project. 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Hmm . . . not sure

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

My love for Christian camping and my heart for the hurting. I like to build characters that, prayerfully, the reader can identify with in her/his healing journey.

What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Prayerfully, readers will enjoy a good love story. But even more than that, I hope readers will understand that forgiveness is a choice. Regardless of the anger we might feel, we can by God’s grace choose to forgive. I often tell people, the ground is level at the foot of the cross. Jesus said to his abusers, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” As Loni told Michael, “Sin often doesn’t make sense.” How true! We commit acts of sin because we are sinners. When someone commits a sin against us, we can ask “why?” ‘til the cows come home, but we may never receive an answer to that question. At some point, after we’ve told the truth about the offense, in all its ugliness, and grieved the loss, we must make a solid decision to let the perpetrator off the hook. Every time we experience anger, we once again surrender the person and the situation to the Lord. In our surrender, by faith, God will eventually reward us with positive feelings. Praying for our enemies is one of the best ways to realize this. 

Now, to select another author to take part who will post their next big thing today.
Hop on over to Paul Mowery’s blog to catch her interview!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Writers, what do you do to refuel your creativity?

When my brain needs a break from writing, I turn to other creative endeavors, like arranging fresh flowers from my garden.

Doing artwork. I used a combo of pen and pastels to recreate my garden peonies. 

With the grandkiddos, I borrowed an idea from one of Martha Stewart's Living magazines and crafted lily pads out of coffee filters and food coloring for a children's tablescape. 

What do you like to do to refuel your creative writing batteries?  
Leave a comment to enter the drawing for a $10 Amazon gift card! 
Winner announced on June 10

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Songs in the Night trilogy by Jack Cavanaugh! Giveaways!

Jack Cavanaugh is an award-winning, full-time freelance author of twenty-six published novels. A student of the novel for more than three decades, Jack takes his craft seriously, continuing to study and teach at Christian writers conferences. He is the former pastor of three churches in San Diego County and draws upon his theological background for the spiritual elements of his plots and characters.
His novels have been translated into a dozen foreign languages, largely because of the universal scope of his topics. Jack has not only written about American history, but about South Africa, banned English Bibles, German Christians in the days of Hitler and Communism, revivals in America, end times and angelic warfare. 

His novel Death Watch has been optioned to be made into a motion picture by Out Cold Entertainment, Inc. 

Songs in the Night trilogy


How much evil can one generation of Christians endure? 

Germany. 1933-1989. Less than the span of a single lifetime. Yet during that time Christians in Germany faced the rise of Hitler, the unholy blitzkrieg of World War II, and Communism behind the Berlin Wall. Why didn’t they speak out? Many of them did. Arrests, labor camps, and executions drove them underground. Songs in the Night is their story.

What inspired you to write your novel?

When I set out to write a historical novel, I look for eras when the faith of Christians was severely tested. While writing The Victors (Book 7 in the American Family Portrait series), I created a character, a German soldier, who was a Christian. The idea of the plight of German Christians during World War II intrigued me. The Germans have such a rich Christian history, how could they allow a man like Hitler to rise to power like he did? 

I researched the topic further and discovered that the first prisoners of the internment camps were pastors who spoke out against Hitler and the Third Reich. Further research revealed that the first victims of the gas chambers were Germans, the elderly and disabled children. And I knew I had to write their story. The Songs in the Night trilogy follows a generation of German Christians before World War II, during the war, and under communism behind the Berlin Wall, believers who never bowed a knee to Hitler. 

The concept of German Christians surfaced again in a stand-alone World War II novel about an American nurse and a German soldier who were caught in the middle of the Battle of the Bulge, Dear Enemy.

I think I’m done writing about German Christians during World War II now. Then again . . . . 

Wow, I've always been fascinated with this time period and historical events surrounding Hitler's Germany. Chilling reminder that America may not be far from this scenario. Thanks for tackling this topic!

What is one fun thing my readers might not know about you? 

On the weekends, when I’m not writing, I like to draw and paint with oils. I’ve dabbled with oil painting on and off since High School, and have recently taken it up again. I know just enough about the craft to be in awe over the skill of master painters. 

I have also started designing my own book covers for my ebooks. I did the ebook covers for the Songs in the Night trilogy.

How vital for writers to tap into other forms of creativity to refuel their idea arsenal, and to simply debrief and relax with another art form. Thanks for serving as a good example of this!

To learn more about Jack and his writing, visit the following:

Twitter: novelistjack
Facebook: novelistjack 

Jack is giving away signed copies of the Songs in the Night trilogy (When Mortals Sleep, His Watchful Eye, and Above All Earthly Powers), so leave a comment to enter the contest!

Monday, May 20, 2013

What do you think?

My miniature rose bush has tripled in size since last year. Good on ya, snow!

And what's not to love about the whimsical, droopy head of the peony. Here for a short while, but gorgeous while they last!

Ah, the garden. Breathe in, breathe out . . .

"And He walks with me and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am His own.
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known."
I love the old hymn, "In the Garden," but I take issue with the last line. I suspect many have known the joy of walking and talking with the Lord in the beauty of a quiet garden. Yet, as I think about it, perhaps divine communion is unique for each Christ-follower. A tailor-made connection between God and His child.
What do you think?

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

MaryLu Tyndall and Debbie Mitchell on The Write Stuff today! Giveaway!

MaryLu Tyndall is a Christy Award Nominee and author of eleven Inspirational Historical Romance Novels.  Her books are not only known for their romance and adventure but for their strong spiritual themes. MaryLu has been walking with God for fifteen years, but prior to that, her experience as an agnostic has given her a unique perspective on all things both spiritual and carnal. Her life mission is to encourage believers to not take for granted the love and power of God and to live their lives fully for Him!  MaryLu lives in California with her husband, six children, and three cats.

Debbie Mitchell has taught Sunday school for over 20 years. She is a firm believer in reading through the Bible each year and is working on her 13th time through. Keeping in the Word and teaching Sunday School has helped her to recognize and face the enemy. She lives in California with her husband Jack and their two dogs. She has one son, two daughters, two sons-in-law and has been blessed with grandchildren that truly make her days. 

All aboard! From the shores of salvation to eternity's horizon, embark on a 180 day journey with Jesus at the helm of your ship. You'll encounter storms, ship wrecks, and battles but you'll also enjoy days of smooth sailing, glorious sunsets, and rainbows that span the skies! Life with Jesus is an adventure. He will never steer you wrong. Is your compass broken? Need some wind in your sails? Lost your anchor? Or maybe you've spotted an enemy ship on the horizon! Come aboard! Trust in the Captain of your souls. And hang on. You're in for the voyage of your life!

What inspired you to write your devotional, Pearls from the Sea?

Every Monday morning on my (MaryLu) blog ( for the past seven years  I post a short devotional. Just something the Lord has been speaking to me about or something that has leapt out at me from my Bible readings. My hope is that it encourages, blesses, or strengthens other Christians who come across it. Debbie Mitchell, who I met online, and who frequented my blog, kept telling me that I should gather all my Monday posts and put them into a devotional. I told her that I really wasn't a devotional writer, that this was just something I did on my blog, but she kept insisting!!  Finally, I told her that if she would write her own devotions, that I'd go in with her as a co-author on a devotional.  To be honest, (and she doesn't even know this yet) I didn't think she would do it! I was just trying to get her off my back. But she did! And her devotions were really good and inspiring. So, I figured this was from the Lord.  And who am I to not obey His will?   Hence, Pearls from the Sea was born!

To add to what MaryLu said above, I had only written one or two devotions before this and I never thought they were that good. MaryLu's devotions truly touched me and I just knew that others would be inspired and blessed by them. I guess when God lays something on my heart, I just can't help myself! And no one is more surprised than I am that I actually agreed to it! This is totally outside my comfort zone. I pray that many people are blessed by Pearls from the Sea!
Isn't it amazing all the new connections God brings about through cyberspace! While we know dangers exist and we must act wisely, you two formed a godly relationship that took you to places of ministry you never dreamed would occur. Thanks for listening to His voice! 
What is one fun thing my readers might not know about you two? 

Debbie Mitchell is a fan of my (MaryLu) fiction books and she contacted me one day to thank me for writing them and to tell me how much they blessed her. We became immediate friends! Though we both live in California and only about 5 hours away, we have never actually met!!

MaryLu Tyndall is basically a cat person. She likes dogs, but prefers to own cats. I (Debbie) am a dog person. I like cats, but prefer to own dogs. And to think we still like each other! Haha! 
Yep, it's a new age for writers. :) Technology has fostered writer connections and quickened output. 

Thanks for joining me today, MaryLu and Debbie! To learn more about Pearls from the Sea, log onto the following:

Enter to win an ebook copy by leaving a comment!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

For the Writer: Expect Criticism

If you write for a larger audience than family and friends, expect criticism. Not everyone is gonna like the things you say nor the way you say them. Several thoughts come to mind when considering how to deal with criticism. 

View every form of criticism as a learning experience.

Critique partners offer constructive suggestions on how to improve our writing. Readers sometimes offer harsh criticism on comment forums and review sites. Regardless the origin or intent of the one delivering criticism, his words can be turned into pure gold, if we view them as a way to grow, both as a writer and as a person. How is this possible? 

Pray first then practice humility.

I'll be the first to admit--criticism, whether intended to help or to hurt, can prick the heart and make me wanna kick the dog, if I had one. But if I'm always trying to defend my words or blubbering the injustice of criticism to others, I'm stuck. I'll never grow. And I'm investing precious energy venting rather than creating and tweaking. The best remedy I've found for dealing with the sting of criticism is prayer.

When you feel that stab of pain, take a deep cleansing breath and run to the Lord. Vent with Him, if need be, then ask Him to give you wisdom as you process the reader's words. If you sense the Lord leading you to reply, let humility guide your response. Often, a simple "thank you" for sharing your thoughts is enough to let the reader know you value his input. 

Choose wisely.

We need not address every reader concern, only those God leads us to interact with. Even the harshest comment may have a bit of truth behind it. And often, pain. While we may not be called as therapists, we are called to be sensitive to the needs of others. Hurtful words often come from a hurting heart. At other times, harsh words are the reader's way of struggling for answers. Rarely, is s/he attacking you as a person. The attack may very well be aimed at what you stand for. 

If the reader is challenging your faith, this may be a good opportunity to provide more witness. Again, let the Lord be your guide. Sometimes, a quiet prayer for the reader is all that's required. This, too, is an act of humility. And self-control. 

But most of all . . . love.

Allow yourself to grow as your reader audience grows. Learn to view every form of criticism as a learning experience fueled by prayer and met with humility, wisdom, self control, and love.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Rita Gerlach sharing about Thorns in Eden today!

Rita Gerlach writes inspirational historical fiction with a romantic bent, with unique settings in both America and England. She lives with her husband and two sons in a historical town nestled along the Catoctin Mountains in central Maryland. 

Titles are:
Before the Scarlet Dawn
Beside Two Rivers
Beyond the Valley
Surrender the Wind
The Rebel’s Pledge
Thorns in Eden & The Everlasting Mountains
Rita’s Blog: InSpire

Thorns in Eden
The Everlasting Mountains 
A 2-in-1 Collection / Historical Drama

John Nash journeys back to England before the first shots of the Revolution are fired. Rebecah Brent, a young woman who has known little more than the solitude of an isolated manor, has lost her father and is now under the control of a domineering patriarch. 

As their romance unfolds, they become trapped in a slanderous scheme forged by Rebecah’s uncle, Sir Samuel Brent. The door is rapidly closing to return to the Colonies, forcing Nash to leave England and return to a land immersed in one of the most infamous Indian wars in Colonial history. When an unselfish request is made by Nash’s father, Rebecah flees the entanglements of her uncle in order to be reunited with the man she loves. 

Can Nash protect his beloved from a renegade who has no allegiance to any nation, tribe, or creed, wanted for robbery and murder, who has vowed vengeance? In Thorns in Eden and The Everlasting Mountains, love and faith are the sustaining forces that cannot be overtaken by the vines of adversity.
As the firebrands of the Revolution grow hot, they marry and work together to build their estate, Laurel Hill. Facing a strange new world, Rebecah experiences the prejudice of being English, but finds friendship and acceptance in the wilds of the Maryland frontier. John Nash leads a band of rangers who protect the frontier families from Indian attack. His friendship with Chief Logan has not prevented the Indian War from reaching their peaceful home along the lush hills of the Catoctin Mountains.

Paperback release in early May

Thanks for sharing with my readers today, Rita! Much success to you with Thorns in Eden! 

The End of One Story, the Beginning of Another

I flip through the calendar, a gift from my missionary daughter. Family face after family face jump off the pages. Grandkids roasting mar...