Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Not So Happily Ever After -- Meet "Mad" King Ludwig II



Today I'd like you to meet an intriguing historical figure, the so-called "mad" king who inspired Disney with his Castle in the Clouds. Kind Ludwig II is reintroduced to modern readers in Not So Happily Ever After: The Tale of King Ludwig II by Susan Braun.



Think history is boring? Then you’ve never met King Ludwig II, who inspired Walt Disney with his magnificent castle in the clouds. He ruled Bavaria for twenty-two years, inspiring its people by his support for the arts. Yet he was known by many as Mad King Ludwig. He rarely appeared in the capital or attended any government functions. He slept most of the day and stayed awake all night. He dined with his horse and waved pistols at servants. He created a fantasy world inside his castles, complete with caves and trap-door tables. To this day, no one is sure exactly what caused his untimely death in a lake.

Who was this man: fairy tale king? Insane eccentric? Mad King Ludwig's life followed many twists and turns on its way to Not So Happily Ever After.


Interview of King Ludwig II

Hello, Your Majesty. Welcome to Secret Lives of Characters. Why don't you start by introducing yourself?

Gladly! Guten Tag! My name is Ludwig, of the House of Wittelsbach (we royals do our last names a bit differently). I am King of Bavaria, which is in southern Germany. And my name is not pronounced Lud wig, but LOOT vigh.

What can you tell us about your role in the story. Any profound regrets perhaps?

Oh, my life is full of regrets -- mostly I regret how misunderstood I have been. Many have called me a hermit, but that's mainly because almost everyone in my life has misunderstood me. My government ministers criticize me in the media, and then wonder why I don't want to meet with them. I was castigated by the public after I broke off my engagement with my cousin, Sophie. Yet I did this for her own good! Heaven knows, we both would have been miserable if we had married -- even though I do regret the tragic ending her life took.

Oh my! I'm already intrigued. Tragic romance does that to me. What compelled you to tell your story to Ms. Braun?

Susan has been fascinated with me for almost thirty years. Who can blame her? After all, I inspired even Walt Disney with my grand castles. I'm so grateful that she has kept my memory alive by helping many modern children learn that some dead, white monarchs really are worth reading about. She thought that kids and teens would enjoy my story, and who was I to say no? I'm not one to brag, but I *do* think my tale is worth telling.

Did you enjoy working with Susan, and did you find that the two of you have anything in common?

It was wonderful working with Susan. Since I'm on the other side of the grave, it was not a bit demanding on my part. She read many books about me, and found that yes, we do have several things in common. We both are introverts. We both love to read. We both love aesthetic beauty -- she and I would have had a wunderbar time discussing Wagner operas (although I still would prefer to view them privately).

I'm surprised to hear that you're an introvert. It makes it doubly wonderful -- oh, I mean -- wunderbar that you're visiting with us today. Without giving anything away, can you give us a hint at something  you learned in the course of living out your story? Can you tell us anything about how you felt, or what led to the darkest moment you recall?

I learned that I cannot trust others. This is sad, but true. During my last days, I was sorely disappointed that some of my most trusted advisers changed sides and turned against me. They cornered me in my own home, Neuschwanstein, arrested me, took away my crown, and declared me -- it still pains me to say it -- insane. No fate could be worse!

Insane! Oh my. Was there a point in your life that you felt God had deserted you, or that He was never there in the first place?

At the moment I was arrested and dethroned, I felt God had abandoned me. Throughout my life, through all my struggles, I always begged and sought for God's forgiveness. On my final day, I woke and asked (ach, the indignity of a king needing to ASK!) to attend church. My request was denied. I can only hope God forgave me for this; my intentions were good.

Well, God is good. I'm certain He forgave. What do you hope that readers will take away with them after hearing about your life?

I hope they will appreciate the many positive things I brought to my country: I hated war and only sent my troops into battle when absolutely necessary. I gave the world a gift of lasting beauty by patronizing my hero, Richard Wagner. If you've ever heard "Here Comes the Bride,"  you know at least one Wagner tune. And of course, millions have toured my three castles.

I haven't, but I'd certainly love to! Well, thank you for the insights, and for sharing a little bit about your Secret Life on SLoC.
Purchase paperback or e-book here: Not So Happily Ever After
 

About the Author - Susan Barnett Braun
Susan Barnett Braun grew up in the small town of Seymour, Indiana. She earned a BA in retail management from Indiana University and an MA in elementary Education from the University of Alabama. She taught elementary school for eight years in northwest Indiana. She wrote grant proposals which won a Lilly Endowment Teacher Creativity Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Study Scholarship.

After becoming a mom to three daughters, Susan found her calling in the home for several years. But as her children grew up, she returned to the keyboard. She has had work published in Parents, Children's Ministry, The Secret Place, Evangel, and Standard. She also writes online as a Featured Arts & Entertainment writer for Yahoo/OMG, and as a blogger at Girls in White Dresses.

Keep up with Susan's writings at her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/susanbarnettbraun
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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Celebrating a Win with The Black Rose & Clash of the Titles


Conqueror Button
ENTICING JULY 2012 RELEASE CHAMPION



I am so excited about this win on Clash of the Titles. Here's a big THANK YOU to everyone who voted The Black Rose as the most enticing July release -- the book you'd choose for your To Be Read pile. Next stop, The Laurel Award!


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Share some love and vote! Is this novel likely to end up in your TBR pile?

Can I ask you to share a little love today? I have a book featured in this month's new Clash of the Titles contest -- Enticing July Releases. The Black Rose is romantic women's fiction set in an 1890s northern Wisconsin boomtown. (Catch the blurb below.)

There are other titles in the contest that look pretty enticing too. All of us featured authors would sure love it if you'd go cast your votes for the book most likely to end up in your TBR pile.Voting runs today through next Tuesday. Then come back on Thursday to see which title received the most votes. The winner gets a tour with the Clash of the Titles Blog Alliance.


Thank you!



Despite the panic of 1893, logging reaches its golden era in the growing state of Wisconsin, and twins Jesilyn and Corianne Beaumont enjoy a comfortable life with family in the bursting Great Lake city of Superior. But when jealousy incites Jesi to seduce Cori's fiance, a flight and fall from grace lands her in a boom town brothel, where a fresh start is denied her.


Camp preacher Paul Winter longs to offer hope in the logging and mining towns of northern Wisconsin, but not in the way he expects when he meets a redhead he calls Pie Girl. He's never had to battle his own longings quite this way before.


Meanwhile, stung by Jesilyn's betrayal, Corianne's bitterness might separate her from a second chance at happiness and peace. Only by Grace can both women begin new lives, and budding love can bloom in places neither of them expect.


Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Authors: Is Book Touring Limited by a Tight Budget? Try Meeting Virtually.




While there are those authors out there touring cities with their novels and doing book store book signings, the bulk of us are home on our computers, clickety-clacking away, trying to find ways to connect with our audiences on limited marketing budgets. Wait -- did I say limited? I meant with pretty much no marketing budgets.

Enter Skype. I grew up watching the Jetsons, how about you? Remember how phone calls were face to face on a live screen? Such science fiction! And here it is!



Okay, Skype isn't a new thing to many of you. Skype is fun.You use it to talk to your missionary friends in another country, or your cousins in another the state. You ogle your grandbabies in another town and share tea with a friend across town before going to bed. But Skype is a great tool for the home-bound or town-bound author.

Several weeks ago I tried it for the first time, meeting with a book group seven hours away to discuss my novel The Green Veil, the first in my 3-book Empire in Pine series. The event was set up by fellow author Lisa Lickel who is part of that group. Lisa and I met by Skype a day or two ahead of time to make sure things would operate correctly, and to go over the format of the meeting. If you try meeting with a book group by Skype, I highly recommend you meet ahead with the coordinator too. You can get an idea of what the group is like, their tastes and interests, and work out any bugs with the system which for me happened to be a sound issue I was able to resolve before the actual club meeting.

  

Nowadays more and more book clubs are found online in the virtual community. Facebook pages, Yahoo groups, and Goodreads groups are just the tip of the iceberg. If you have a way to tap into these communities and also can connect to those clubs who are physically meeting in churches, libraries, and town halls all across the country, then why not offer to meet with them by Skype?

Even if they aren't discussing your book, they might be delighted to pick the brain of an author. And who knows... maybe you'll end up making new friends and fans in the process.

Skype is easy to set up, and it's totally free for making video calls. That makes it a perfect meeting and promotional tool for the budget conscious author who longs to make new, book loving friends.

Write on!

Jetsons image credit: http://jgkitchens.blogspot.com/2011/02/kitchen-planning-meets-jetsons.html
Skype book club photos courtesy of Lisa Lickel & the Boltonville Book Club

What ways have you found to interact with book clubs or fans on the internet?    Was it effective?

Friday, August 17, 2012

Meet Kiera Devan, Heroine of "Perilous Shadows", by Crime Fictionista Nike Chillemi


Guest post by Nike Chillemi


It's been such a whirlwind since PERILOUS SHADOWS came out one-month ago. I've hardly had time to catch my breath. So, being the ever practical one, Kiera Devane, one of my twin protagonists and my heroine, suggested she take this one. Frankly I was a bit relieved. So, I'll let Kiera take it away.
But first, here's what PERIOUS SHADOWS is about:
(Historical Romantic Thriller, late-1940s ~ Sweet romance, warm intimacy, sophisticated themes presented tastefully)

Pioneer newspaperwoman Kiera Devane is on a mission to prove a woman can do a man's job as she hunts a young coed's killer. Ace radio broadcaster Argus Nye lost one love to a murderous fiend and his pulse races as he tries to protect Kiera from herself as much as from this killer.

Kiera was doted upon by loving parent, but they were killed when she was a girl and she was shipped off to live with a socialite aunt who had little time for her. In her aunt's house, she learned life could be cold and cruel. As a result, she grew up to be an independent and demanding professional woman.

Argus Nye, still bereft from the loss of his first love, can't understand why this female reporter is mesmerizing him. As she takes chances with her life trying to catch a killer, he's determined to protect her.

So, Who Is Kiera Devane?

Like some people, I try to keep the details of my life private…extremely so. So I was a bit disconcerted when Scottish born ace radio broadcaster, Argus Nye came hurtling into my life, invading every corner of it. At first I was put out, but then had to admit he was a decent guy, and having someone care for me felt good.
If you've read the first two novels in Nike Chillemi's series, you'll know Argus has been a compelling secondary character in both of them. You'll recall in book one, BURNING HEARTS, he was desperately in love with Ada Pinter, the murder victim, and was beside himself after she was killed. Let's fast forward, as you say in your time. When you get into PERILOUS SHADOWS, you'll realize I don't have a very good track record with men. I've encountered a few who had less than honorable intentions. So, when Argus careened into my life I thought, that's my luck. The guy is on the rebound, but it turned out to be the real thing.
I guess I've got a competitive nature. In the news business a girl's got to be twice as good as a male reporter just to keep her job. I'm a pretty good reporter. I manage to scoop a front page story right out from under the fellas quite often. Of course, that's made some of them real mad and they've said unkind things about me. For instance, that I'd stab my grandmother in the back to get a story.
In PERILOUS SHADOWS, I scooped the big story right out from under Argus and he gave me credit for it on his broadcast. That was a first. So, I agreed to meet him for a bite to eat at the Tastee Diner. That's in Sanctuary Point, a tiny village on the south shore of Long Island, New York that was first settled by missionaries. Of course in the roaring twenties its inlets and docks were used to ship illegal whisky to the robber barons vacationing in the Hamptons. But that was a while ago. At the time this story is set, in the late 1940s, Sanctuary Point had just come through the World War II and like the rest of America had lost a number of her sons in battle in Europe or the Pacific.
It was a time when women who had held jobs during the war…the Rosie the Riveter types…were getting pink slips so that returning veterans of war would have jobs. But some stayed on and became what was then called "career girls." I was one of them. Lots of young women started going to college. PERILOUS SHADOWS opens with a perky and quite ambitious young coed from the local women's college found dead at WSAN radio station, where Argus worked. The girl was working at the station in a summer internship. Needless to say, that started me on a hunt for the killer. Argus convinced me since we were both on the same story, we should team up. There were times he not only had to protect me from the killer, but from myself.
Buy Links:
Amazon/Kindle: http://is.gd/yyGefm
Barnes & Noble/Nook: http://is.gd/RJF2zy
Desert Breeze: http://is.gd/SDIyt9

Excerpt:
PERILOUS SHADOWS
From Chapter Three

     Argus walked Kiera out of the diner and took her elbow as her heels tapped down the cement steps. Her suit was austere, yet somehow she made it sizzle. He shifted his eyes away so as not to be caught staring, but not before taking a second look. "I'll walk you to your car."
     "No,that's quite all right. I've been taking care of myself for a long time."
     "Still, lass, I don't feel quite right."
     "This is the Tastee Diner parking lot. It's well lit. What could happen?"
     Argus rubbed his chin. "Oh all right, if you insist. I'll say good night here." He’d tried to be the gentleman, but she was skittish as a young filly.
     "Trust me. I'm a big girl. I can take care of myself."
     Fighting against an uneasy feeling in his gut, Argus walked to his car on the other side of the lot. Since Ada's death, he'd become overprotective toward women. Fishing in his pocket for his keys, he heard raised voices. One of them, Kiera's.
     "Leave me alone. You cheated on me."
     Argus dashed for Kiera's car, thinking he recognized the male voice, yet he couldn't quite place it.
     "Give me another chance. You misunderstood. It meant nothing." Paul Gregorski, sportscaster at the station, had a hold of Kiera's arm.
     A jolt like an electrical charge shot through Argus. "Let go of her if you know what's good for you."
     Paul dropped the arm and turned to face Argus. "So, you bumped my show for your special report, and now you want my girl."
     "My relationship with Miss Devane is purely professional." He would not allow the slightest insinuation.
     Kiera squared her shoulders. "Look, Paul, I wish you well, but let's let bygones be bygones."
     The sportscaster slanted his head toward Argus. "I don't want to discuss this in front of him."
     "I'm not going anywhere unless Miss Devane asks me to leave."
     Kierapivoted away from them and pulled her car keys out of her purse. "I don't give a hoot what either of you do. I'm going home." She slid behind the wheel of the Pontiac, backed out of her spot, and gunned it out of the lot.
     Argus watched her signal light flash a right. She made the turn and her taillights disappeared into the twilight. He laughed aloud.
     Paul growled. "What's so funny?"
     Argus shook his head and walked to his DeSoto, got in, and put the key in the ignition, but didn't turn it on. She'd never be mistaken for a Carmelite nun. Not in a million years. Blunt, not soft and feminine like his Ada had been. And where'd Kiera get that short Betty Boop hair-do? Not his style at all. No Sir. Where Ada was a sensitive and godly woman, this one was so hard boiled he couldn't imagine her on her knees praying. So, why was she so captivating?


Nike Chillemi has been called a crime fictionista due to her passion for crime fiction. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 and 2012 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. She is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and its Chairman, a reader's choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. BURNING HEARTS is the first book in the crime wave that is sweeping the south shore of Long Island in The Sanctuary Point series, published by Desert Breeze. GOODBYE NOEL, the second book in the series released in December, 2011 won the Grace Award 2011 in the Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller category. PERILOUS SHADOWS, the third in the series released in July, 2012. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning).

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Life's Messes & Historical Novel Giveaway

It's another beautiful day! And I'm spending it (and tomorrow) with my friends over on the Novel PASTimes blog where they talk about all the latest historical, inspirational fiction coming out. They interviewed me with some tough questions about my Empire in Pine series and about writing. So I'm there chatting about life messes (writing what I know) novel sagas, and a quirky (family) thing you'll find in my fiction. I'm posing a question about reader preferences, and everyone who answers it will be entered in a FREE BOOK drawing of THE BLACK ROSE. Join me at NovelPASTimes!



Saturday, August 4, 2012

With a Little Help From My Friends - Tips for Starting a Writers' Critique Group

Guest post by Joan Leotta
 
As a writer and a performer, I can say that a critique group has been central to modest success, earning a fair amount over the years from hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles, and once in a while having the time to send out a poem or short story or even a book proposal--some of which have met success. Being in a writing group gives me a deadline and forces me to do what all writers know is really a great exercise, read my work aloud. The comments that dissect my work, whether I agree or disagree on the specifics, usually changes my work for the better. I hope this is true for my comments on the work of my fellow writers too. The group is also a source of information in the writing world beyond my own narrow interests.

In Northern Virginia, my first group started in a library with fifteen strangers and eventually reduced itself to four women. The group was eclectic---fiction, non-fiction, adult, children's and even poetry. We read to each other and commented on each other's work in progress, shared market tips, and celebrated successes and frustrations.

When I moved to North Carolina, one of the first things I did was find another critique group. My new group is also wonderful. We read, we share, and we write.

If there is not a group near you to join, here are some tips for forming one:
*        Decide what you want the group to be like--critique, exchange information, reading, all of the above?
*        Advertise your intent at the library or community center and among any friends you know who write.
*        It is generally easier to limit the type of work to be read and critiqued. My current group is adult fiction and non-fiction.
*        Define "critique" for the group at the first meeting. If the members do not know one another well, put the rules for critique in writing. A good critique begins with a positive comment, asks what the writer's intent is, and structures all other comments with the goal of making the writing better meet that intent
*        At that first meeting, stress that each person needs to be committed to making the other person's work more refined the otherperson's work and stronger.
*        Limit the amount of time each person has to share, read, and be critiqued -- bring a bell or timer to signal the time to change -- so that no one person dominates and each person has the same time.
*        Select a place and time that seems good for the person who will run the group and begin.
Everyone's work benefits when we polish the gems of others as well as our own.


Joan Leotta has been writing and performing since childhood. Her motto is "Encouraging words through pen and performance.” Her newest work, Giulia Goes to War is book one of a four part series, Legacy of Honor  that traces the women of a family and how they find love and independence from WWII era through the Desert Storm era.

Joan’s articles, short stories, and photography have appeared in many newspapers and magazines. She performs folklore shows and one-woman shows on Civil War and Revolutionary war figures at venues up and down the east coast and teaches writing, creativity, and storytelling for children and adults. She lives in Calabash, NC with husband Joe. You can learn more about her at www.joanleotta.com and can contact her to speak to your group at joanleotta@atmc.net .

 

Giulia Goes to War, Legacy of Honor Volume One
Anna Maria DeBartolo shook her graying head as she marched up and down in the small space in front of the kitchen sink. "I am a loyal American. We have a Victory Garden. I send my cans to the surplus drive." With the wooden spoon she held in her hand, she gestured toward the front of the house and the dining room window facing Main Street and continued, "I have two blue stars in the window -- both of your brothers are serving or did you forget, Giulia?...No! E unadisgrazia!"

Giulia gains her independence while still remaining a loving daughter and makes a life for herself in Wilmington, contributing to the war effort while beginning a romance with a boy who is not Italian -American, and saving the Wilmington shipyard from a spy's planned terrorist act in this action packed adventure of a young girl on the Home Front in World War II.,

Buy now from:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lumberjacks, Ladies, Land Barons, and Love -- Empire in Pine, a Series of HOT Summer Reads



What will you read during these final weeks of summer?
I hope to make your decision easier by giving you the highlights of this romantic series of historical fiction and sharing why readers think Empire in Pine is a series of HOT Summer Reads.

     
Empire in Pine Series
Historic, romantic, women's fiction -- a multi-generational family saga of love and deception, hope and turmoil, and the rise of a wilderness empire.
Purchase Links:

-- The Green Veil --
Empire in Pine Book One

One is the man she missed. The other is the man she married.


Lumberman's daughter, Colette Palmer has understood the industry since her youth -- and she's always loved timber cruiser Manason Kade -- even though he only remembers her as a child. Leaving Michigan to settle with her family in the Wisconsin wilderness, and separated from him by miles and years, compassion compels her to marry another.


Manason longs to plant roots of his own in Wisconsin Territory. But when he stakes his claim and challenges the illegal log harvesting of a rival company, Colette's husband swears to ruin him. Then one day Manason and Colette meet again. Now, an empire in pine hangs in the balance, and she will have to choose between her first love and her commitment to a difficult marriage.

A "HOT" Summer Read? Here's what reviewers say:

"Lovely, soft, quiet in some ways. Gritty and painful in others."

"Think Gone With the Wind, only not so long."

"Just when you think you know what's going to happen next, Musch throws in a spin and twist that'll take your breath away."

--The Red Fury --
Empire in Pine Book Two

Spurned twice since the death of her first betrothed in a logging accident, Lainey Kade has become the object of talk."That Lainey, she's a shrew all right. Not ever going to marry, likely," the gossips say. Fleeing heartache and flaunting convention, Lainey seeks solace instead in seeking adventure and breaking the rules.


Embarking on a journey where she hopes to put the past behind, Lainey crosses paths with brothers Zane and Kelly Beaumont and pretends to be a married woman. But they find her out, and she soon forges an adventurous companionship with these men whose nightmares since the Civil War have never let them return home. Following the lead of the next thrill, the ties of their friendship tighten, and Lainey denies love's rekindled spark. However, as fires rage across the Wisconsin wilderness, the brothers’ attraction may tear them each apart, and Lainey may be consumed by the fury burning inside her.

A "HOT" Summer Read? Here's what reviewers say:

"This is a powerful novel that will rip your heart out, so be prepared. It's a great love story of self-denial, trust, selfishness, courage, loyalty, and true love so passionate the red fury has nothing on it."

"The Red Fury is already on my Top Ten of 2012! Naomi Musch is a master at planting nagging questions in the reader's mind--questions that must be answered. Now."

"This is a story about Lainey Kade, her failed attempts at love, and how friendship, and selflessness can make love possible. I highly recommend this book and this author."

-- The Black Rose --
Empire in Pine Book Three


Despite the panic of 1893, logging reaches its golden era in the growing state of Wisconsin, and twins Jesilyn and Corianne Beaumont enjoy a comfortable life with family in the bursting Great Lake city of Superior. But when jealousy incites Jesi to seduce Cori's fiance, a flight and fall from grace lands her in a boomtown brothel, where a fresh start is denied her.
Camp preacher Paul Winter longs to offer hope in the logging and mining towns of northern Wisconsin, but not in the way he expects when he meets a redhead he calls Pie Girl. He's never had to battle his own longings quite this way before.
Meanwhile, stung by Jesilyn's betrayal, Corianne's bitterness might separate her from a second chance at happiness and peace. Only by Grace can both women begin new lives, and budding love can bloom in places neither of them expect.

A "HOT" Summer Read and a BRAND NEW Release! A reader says:

"Don't miss this series. The first novel, The Green Veil was terrific. The second novel, The Red Fury, was even better if it could get any better, and I'm reading The Black rose now. You'll be hooked in Chapter 1."

Purchase Links:

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Organized and Energized: Digging out the Nuggets from the Great Lakes Getaway

Revived and Re-writing



I'm still panning gold nuggets out of the river of information I mined at last weekend's Great Lakes Getaway, a retreat sponsored by the Minnesota N.I.C.E branch of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Hobnobbing with other fiction writers and sitting under the tutelage of well known suspense author Colleen Coble is in some senses overwhelming, and in others the most extreme of relaxations. But now I've had a few days to evaluate and organize my thoughts. I am energized on several levels. Here are some of the reasons why.

I was reminded of the reasons why my voice is unique, why I should protect it, and how.

I have my own set of passions, goals, life experiences, strengths, weaknesses, strategies, instincts, and sources of creative energy. I use all of these and more to infuse my writing style, so I shouldn't try to copy someone else's or let their voices get inside my head. I should embrace my voice and develop it into consistency.

I garnered some pointers in tackling big editing projects.

I enjoy editing for the most part, but that's not to say they aren't intimidating at times, especially under a looming deadline. Colleen shared practical advice from "sleeping on it" to tackling plot issues by using 3x5 cards to rearrange scenes or add story lines. She also suggested printing out the edit letter (that letter than comes from your editor with all the suggested changes) and systematically highlighting sections to start with.

I felt the push to find a critique partner.

That's someone I've been without for a while, but I am reminded there's nothing more necessary to a writer as a first line of defense when we've finished a manuscript and begun the polishing stage. In my writing life, I've probably learned the most and the best from those experiences of letting down the defenses, stepping away from the project, and absorbing the suggestions of someone with a fresh pair of eyes.

I recieved reams of ideas for creating larger than life characters able to snag their way into a readers' hearts.

I love characterization exercises, and now I have more! Have you ever considered such character questions as, What trauman happened to her during adolescence? What should she fear but doesn't? What makes her laugh out loud? What smell does she associate with her childhood and why? This is just a sampling. Asking the most inane questions of our characters can bring out some of the most interesting story details. For instance, when asking how my character sleeps, I realized she sleeps on her side, against a rock, fully clothed, with a knife tucked into her sash -- of course!

I brainstormed my way out of a WIP dilemma and connected to new friends.

We gathered in small groups to present our current WIP dilemmas -- airing out where we were stuck with character or plot. Everybody had a question on their hearts. But in our small groups we found a safe place to toss our stories out there and get feedback. Boy, did the ideas flow! There was a lot of "what if they... Could she maybe... How about if he..." ideas popping like buttered corn in the microwave. Out of the pile of it, I really found some workable solutions -- not to mention some connections with other writers who I can now call friends!

I found affirmation that sometimes we have to step out of the story and live real life.

We writers are living all the time in our character's world. We can't go camping without picturing a murder in the forest, or go shopping without overhearing conversations we want to write down. But sometimes we just have to allow ourselves the freedom of living real lives -- the ones God gave us.

On the flip side of that, I was reminded that the BEST fiction comes from the heart. It's the pouring out through our characters and their lives the experiences that will reach into the hearts of real people. Yet, we ought not be focusing on agenda-driven fiction. Agendas don't change hearts, God does. So we need to always ask, "God, what lesson do you have for me in this story?" Only then can we ask, "How and what do you want me to show others?"


Of course, these were just a few of the nuggets I retrieved while I talked and brainstormed and took some time to gaze out at Lake Superior. And now I have to get back to my WIP, while all this energy is stirring like a cauldron inside me.

Write on!

Amazon: http/tinyurl.com/7m5a5ah
Barnes & Noble: http/tinyurl.com/3gelmzp
CBD: http/tinyurl.com/72auylb
Desert Breeze / Other Formats: http/tinyurl.com/43jbuvd

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Launch Party! Leave a Comment to Win a Copy!





This is it! This week my new book hits electronic bookshelves at Desert Breeze Pub., Amazon, B&N, CBD, Sony, and pretty much wherever you find Christian eFiction. I'm loving the cover. I hope you'll take a couple of minutes to scroll down and read the brief excerpt below. It's some gritty historical fiction, and this scene is one of my favorites! Then, leave a comment to win a pdf. I need at least 10  original comments to pick a winner.

New! From Desert Breeze Publishing:

~ The Black Rose ~

Empire in Pine, Book Three


When fiery Jesilyn Beaumont gives all to steal her twin's fiancĂ©, a flight and fall from grace into Wisconsin's, boomtown dark side is long and hard. Can a disillusioned camp preacher help her find self-worth again, or will hope and budding love be choked by her thorny past?  

Read on, then leave your comment at the bottom. The most interesting comment will win a pdf copy of The Black Rose, the Empire in Pine series finale!  

Despite the panic of 1893, logging reaches its golden era in the growing state of Wisconsin, and twins Jesilyn and Corianne Beaumont enjoy a comfortable life with family in the bursting, Great Lake city of Superior. But when jealousy incites Jesi to seduce Cori's fiance, a flight and fall from grace lands her in a boomtown brothel, where a fresh start is denied her.

Camp preacher Paul Winter longs to offer hope in the logging and mining towns of northern Wisconsin, but not in the way he expects when he meets a redhead he calls Pie Girl. He's never had to battle his own longings quite this way before.  

Meanwhile, stung by Jesilyn's betrayal, Corianne's bitterness might separate her fom a second chance at happiness and peace. Only by Grace can both women begin new lives, and budding love can bloom in places neither of them expect.


EXCERPT:
Jesi's stomach flipped. She hadn't even realized they stood in front of Maisey's Bar. She gasped and ducked her head, but it was too late.

Johnny Ray leered at her. "Well... look who the dogs dragged back. I know you, red. You're the little gal who left me with the sore head and a whole lot of unfinished business." He stepped close and jerked her chin up with his beefy fingers.

Clay laid a hand across Big John's forearm. "See here, mister."

The bear shook him off like a pesky black fly. "And now, here you are. Right back where we last met. We can pick up where we left off, but maybe we'll have a drink and a dance first." Johnny Ray gripped her arm and twisted her toward the door.

"No!" She yanked free and fell against Clay, clutching him.

Clay backed up looking dumbfounded, with Jesi clinging to his coat front.

"Oh. I see. You're busy now." He threw Clay a look. "Better mind yourself, mister. Don't turn your head. She's a thieving, mean little thing."

She shook her head and glanced at Clay. He scowled and removed her hand from his coat. "Jesi?"

"Clay--"

"Jesi?" Another voice came from the street. Jesi twisted her head. Paul hoofed it around a pair of mud holes as he crossed the road. She turned back to Clay. His face had changed. His jaw was now set, and his brow dipped. His face had taken on the tell-tale shade of red it always seemed to turn when he was angry.

"What've you become?" he asked, his voice tight.
"Clay, no."

Big John burst out laughing. "What'd you think she was, mister? I can tell you what." He jerked his head toward Maisey's dark interior. "So can anyone in this fine establishment."

She shook her head. Tears blurred her vision. Gravy's piano playing clinked discordant tones in the background.

"Jesi?" Paul's voice, even but heavy with worry she recognized, rang out as he leapt onto the boardwalk. She turned to him, but didn't dare meet his gaze. She wiped the back of her hand across her eyes.

Big John kept laughing. Clay just stared at her, his countenance growing harder by the second. His eyes took on the shade of thunderclouds over Lake Superior.

"Is this how you've been living in Hurley?" His look scathed her. "Yet you were ready to try and fool me again."

She had no breath, no courage to deny it. Her heart had momentarily soared to the peaks, and then crashed down in a hideous mess.

His face contorted. "You're still nothing but a common trollop."

Paul's fist shot out without warning, catching Clay square in the jaw. He reeled backward off the boardwalk into the mud.

"Who the blazes are you?" John thundered, reaching for Paul's shirt.

Jesi covered her mouth and bit her palm.

Paul shoved a fist in his gut, but the big man merely cringed and pushed Paul back.

"What's your stake in all this?"

Paul found his footing. He glanced briefly at Clay, who'd gotten up and stood brushing mud off his suit. "I'll tell you." Paul took a run at Big John, crashing into his shoulder so that the brute fell hard against the side of the building. "She's my wife."
~~~~~

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Heart Rending True Story Behind the Novel, "A Hometown Fourth of July" by June Foster


Guest Post by June Foster

I'm so excited about my book, A Hometown Fourth of July, which comes out July 1 with Desert Breeze Publishing. The story is a romance about a young Hispanic man and the beautiful woman he leads to a relationship with God. In seeking his true identity, he finds it, but not in his birth family, as he'd always believed. Though the story is fictitious, the premise comes from a real-life situation.

When Max Tate meets Lynn Marshall at the annual Fourth of July celebration in his hometown of Ft. Freedom, Washington, he believes she holds the key to discovering his birth mother and his roots.When his dreams are shattered, he walks away from his faith and the woman he loves. Only God can reveal Max's true identity so he is free to love her and celebrate another Fourth.

Here's the story - the real one, that is.
                               
My husband loves to tell a story about his parents when they were childless. His mom and dad were of the Catholic faith, so after they'd been married for eight years with no babies on the way, they decided adoption would be a good route to begin expanding their family. They paid a visit to the Catholic Charities in Birmingham, Alabama. There they found a darling, four year old boy named Marshall and brought him home to be a part of their family.

For reasons known only to God, after two more years, Mrs. Foster found she was pregnant and delivered her first biological son, Mike. After that came my husband Joe, then Pat, then Helen, and finally Steve. Marshall was thrilled with so many brothers and a sister.

The story goes that Mrs. Foster decided that the two older boys, Mike and Joe, needed to learn that their oldest brother was adopted. She called a formal family meeting and made the solemn announcement about how Marshall came to their family. At the end of the meeting, Joe questioned his mother, "Marshall still gets to be our big brother, doesn't he?"

Even though my husband left for the army after he grew up, he and Marshall remained in touch. When we moved to Lacey, Washington where he lived, Marshall mentioned to Joe he'd be interested in finding his birth family but had no idea how to go about it. Since Joe had a good knowledge of the computer, he offered to help. Alabama, which had been a closed adoption state, opened their records up in the early 2000's, and Joe was able to find out some information.
               
Marshall was sorry to hear his birth mother had passed away ten years before, but was encouraged to learn he had a sister. Joe couldn't find a contact number for Marshall's sister, but located a number for Marshall's niece, his sister's daughter. Marshall was too ill-at-ease to make the call so Joe dialed the number while Marshall looked on, clasping his hands tightly in front of him.
               
When a woman's voice said hello, Joe said he was phoning on behalf of his brother, Marshall Foster, and that Marshall was looking for his sister. Joe asked if he had the right number. My husband thought the woman had hung up as he heard nothing but silence, then a sob carried over the phone. Finally, the woman said she believed he had the correct number. She was Marshall's niece and said her mother, Marshall's sister, had been looking for him for years, always hoping to meet her brother. Joe asked if the mother lived in the same town, and again, the niece let out a sob. She said her mother had died two months before.
               
Marshall was devastated, but his niece's promise to come to Washington to visit him with her other sister the following July, cheered him, and they made plans. But in June, just two days after Marshall's birthday, he died of cancer, never getting to meet even his nieces.
               
This sounds like a sad story, but wait. There's more. During the process of helping Marshall find his birth family, my husband and I had occasion to tell Marshall about our awesome and powerful God who sent his son Jesus to the earth to die for our sins. We shared how to have faith in the Savior and about our final home - Heaven. Marshall began going to church with us and gave his life to the Lord at Thanksgiving that year before the following summer. He started coming to Bible study in our home. We were warmed when he told us how he'd always felt empty. He pointed to his heart. He said he was no longer empty inside, and he finally knew who his real Father was.
               
Joe and I were present on that day in the middle of June when Marshall went to be with the Lord. I've never witnessed anyone die before, but I can say, truly, without hesitation, that the experience was beautiful. And I know that someday we'll see this wonderful man again when we join him in Heaven to be with Jesus forever.

A Hometown Fourth of July is available from Desert Breeze Publishing:
(And also available through Amazon, Barne & Noble, Sony, CBD, and wherever Ebooks are sold.)


June Foster is a retired school teacher with a BA in Education and a MA in counseling. She writes full time and travels in her RV with her husband Joe. June has written four novels for Desert Breeze Publishing. The Bellewood SeriesGive Us This Day –February 1, 2012,As We Forgive – September 1, 2012, and Deliver Us – April 1,2013, and Hometown Fourth of July – July 1, 2012. She's written two more books, The Way Home and Ryan's Father not yet published. June loves to write stories about characters who overcome the issues in their lives by the power of God. June uses her training in counseling and her Christian beliefs in creating characters who find the freedom to live godly lives.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

WARNING:  This post is more about questions than answers. So be prepared to be confused or if you’re not confused, then be prepared to leave comments so I can become unconfused!
To borrow the format of an old old song, how many words must a writer write before he/she becomes a writer? That is the question of the day.
Last year, my fourth book released (PURSUED, www.whiterosepublishing.com) and am only beginning to  look people in the eye and say, “I’m a writer.”
This is my first book published by a “traditional” publishing company. I self-published my first book, then had two published by a POD publisher. For me, I didn’t feel like I was a writer until I’d been validated by a traditional publisher, but that’s just me.
I know there are plenty of writers out there who haven’t even completed a book but they have no problem telling others they are a writer. And far be it from me to disagree with them.
Does a person become a writer as soon as they decide to become a writer? After they’ve written the first word, first paragraph, or finished their first book? Maybe, they don’t become a “real writer” until they’ve published a book?
Mmm. That could be a good definition. A person becomes a writer after they’ve published a book. Really?
I wrote for at least eight years before my first book was published. I wrote faithfully day after day, before work, after work, on weekends and holidays. Didn’t that make me a writer? And yet, at the time I didn’t feel like I could tell people I was a writer. Crazy, huh?
Let’s see what the dictionary says. Dictionary.com says an author is a person who writes a novel, a poem, or other written work.  Another definition is the maker of anything, the creator of anything.  Mmm.
I don’t see anything in the definition that you are only an author if your writing makes money, or if your book becomes a bestseller, or if everyone knows your name, or even if a publisher decides you are a writer.
Gosh, I guess I was a writer all along and just didn’t know it. To learn more about Lillian and her writing visit: www.lillianduncan.net
What’s your opinion? When does a person become a writer?
God Bless and Good Reading! Lil
BIO:
Lillian Duncan is a book lover as both a reader and a writer. Her tagline on her website (www.lillianduncan.net) says it all STORIES OF FAITH MINGLED WITH MURDER AND MAYHEM.  Tired of having to skip over all the four letter words and explicit sex scenes, she started writing the type of books she loved to read—suspense with a touch of romance.

To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit: www.lillianduncan.net.  She has a devotional blog at: www.PowerUpWithGod.com  Her most recent releases are PURSUED (White Rose Publishing) and DECEPTION (Harbourlight Books).
BOOK BLURB:
DECEPTION: 

Twins are supposed to have an unbreakable bond, but Patti and Jamie have serious “relationship issues.” Patti hasn’t seen Jamie since her twin ruined her upcoming nuptials years before. When a niece she knows nothing about calls, Patti must unravel the yarn of Jamie’s life and her disappearance.

Detective Carter Caldwell takes his job seriously, and it's his job to keep Patti and her adorable niece safe. But Patti is determined to help find her sister. Each step brings her closer to the truth, but pulls her further into a web of danger and deception.

Together, they must find the courage and faith to continue the search for her sister. Her journey will take her down a road of deception where they will have to fight for her life and the lives of countless Americans.

How Many Words Must a Writer Write Before They Become a Writer?

Guest Post by Romantic Suspense Author Lillian Duncan

WARNING:  This post is more about questions than answers. So be prepared to be confused or, if you’re not confused, then be prepared to leave comments so I can become unconfused!


To borrow the format of an old old song:
How many words must a writer write before he/she becomes a writer?
That is the question of the day.


Last year, I my fourth book released (PURSUED, www.whiterosepublishing.com) and I am only beginning to look people in the eye and say, “I’m a writer.”


This is my first book published by a “traditional” publishing company. I self-published my first book, then had two published by a POD publisher. For me, I didn’t feel like I was a writer until I’d been validated by a traditional publisher, but that’s just me.


I know there are plenty of writers out there who haven’t even completed a book, yet they have no problem telling others they are a writer. And far be it from me to disagree with them.

Does a person become a writer as soon as they decide to become a writer? After they’ve written the first word, first paragraph, or finished their first book? Maybe, they don’t become a “real writer” until they’ve published a book?


Mmm. That could be a good definition. A person becomes a writer after they’ve published a book. Really?


I wrote for at least eight years before my first book was published. I wrote faithfully day after day, before work, after work, on weekends and holidays. Didn’t that make me a writer? And yet, at the time I didn’t feel like I could tell people I was a writer. Crazy, huh?


Let’s see what the dictionary says. Dictionary.com says an author is a person who writes a novel, a poem, or other written work.  Another definition is the maker of anything, the creator of anything.  Mmm.


I don’t see anything in the definition that you are only an author if your writing makes money, or if your book becomes a bestseller, or if everyone knows your name, or even if a publisher decides you are a writer.


Gosh, I guess I was a writer all along and just didn’t know it.  What’s your opinion? When does a person become a writer?

God Bless and Good Reading! Lil
To learn more about Lillian and her writing visit: www.lillianduncan.net


Lillian Duncan is a book lover as both a reader and a writer. Her tagline on her website (www.lillianduncan.net) says it all STORIES OF FAITH MINGLED WITH MURDER AND MAYHEM. Tired of having to skip over all the four letter words and explicit sex scenes, she started writing the type of books she loved to read—suspense with a touch of romance.
 
To learn more about Lillian and her books, visit: www.lillianduncan.net.  She has a devotional blog at: www.PowerUpWithGod.com  Her most recent releases are PURSUED (White Rose Publishing) and DECEPTION (Harbourlight Books).

DECEPTION
Twins are supposed to have an unbreakable bond, but Patti and Jamie have serious “relationship issues.” Patti hasn’t seen Jamie since her twin ruined her upcoming nuptials years before. When a niece she knows nothing about calls, Patti must unravel the yarn of Jamie’s life and her disappearance.
 
Detective Carter Caldwell takes his job seriously, and it's his job to keep Patti and her adorable niece safe. But Patti is determined to help find her sister. Each step brings her closer to the truth, but pulls her further into a web of danger and deception.
 
Together, they must find the courage and faith to continue the search for her sister. Her journey will take her down a road of deception where they will have to fight for her life and the lives of countless Americans.
 AVAILABLE AT:
Harbour Light Books:
Amazon:
Barnes & Noble:
CBD:
http://www.christianbook.com/deception-ebook-lillian-duncan/9781611161465/pd/23410EB?item_code=WW&netp_id=967295&event=ESRCG&view=details