Monday, December 31, 2018

My Pick for Favorite Fiction of 2018 - A Book Review, with Insight for Writers

As many books as I've read and enjoyed in 2018, none have touched me as profoundly as Joanne Bischof's Sons of Blackbird Mountain. In fact, I just finished the ARC of Book Tow on my Kindle, and OH. MY. GOODNESS The combo should be a movie. So good. You really want to read both to go the full circle of the story. Book two is available for pre-order.

Read book one now! Book two releases March 12, 2019.

Ms. Bischof's story of a young Irish woman finding a new beginning in the home of three Norwegian brothers, who live on a farm in the wilds of Appalachia, is perfectly plotted and beautifully written. Set in the 1890s, every character grabs you with a depth of feeling and personality in a truly unique story--especially the three Norgaard men. (Okay, they rather reminded me quite a lot of my three rough and tumble sons who also farm together and whose birth order and personalities coincide almost bizarrely with these characters. Maybe I was biased the moment the Norgaards started cleaning their guns on the kitchen table and one of them climbed up on the high beam to have a look-see down his rifle sight at the Klan approaching their mountaintop home.)

I heard rumblings all around social media about this story before I finally go it on my TBR list, but I'm so glad I finally did. There are so many nuances to this story that will touch you deeply, from the mounting conflict between the main characters as well as outsiders, to the beautiful and tender love story, to the realism and rich history... If you haven't gotten hold of this one yet, add it to your list!


As I mentioned above, Sons of Blackbird Mountain is perfectly plotted. Ms. Bischof does an exceptional job of illuminating back story in a way that advances the plot and character development yet never dumps information on the reader. She also takes us deep into the characters' points-of-view by consistently showing without telling. The way she presents the POV of a deaf-mute is artistic.

Read it, highlight it, take notes to see how it's done. If you want to develop your own voice and writing style, it's imperative to read good writing. Ms. Bischof is the kind of writer whose works you want to have on your shelf or Kindle just to study the craft well done.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

COURTING DANGER - New Release and Author Interview with Nike Chillemi

I am pleased to end  2018 by welcoming my special guest, award-winning author Nike Chillemi, who recently released her new romantic suspense novel Courting Danger. She's going to share the answers to a couple of questions that intrigued me about the book. I think you'll find the background to this novel interesting too.

I've so enjoyed developing a friendship with Nike on social media over the years. Even though we've never met in person, she is one of those people who I would count as a good friend. She has also consistently published page-turning detective fiction with great romantic threads. Here's what her newest release is all about:

About the Book:
Newly installed Pelican Beach, Florida detective Katerina "Kat" Andruko fears the prime suspect will get off in the murder of a teen with the help of the department's forensics psychologist, a man she's just started to trust.

This case has national security implications that gives former US Army Ranger, Dr. Dimitri Garmonin a chance to work with the FBI. The case could give him the chance to obtain the funds needed to expand his small Behavior Analysis Unit. He's unmoved by the chic FBI agent sent to assist but is intrigued by Kat with whom he shares a Slavic heritage.

Kat and her partner detain two wrong suspects, giving the department negative press. The predator turns his anger on Kat, targeting her. Can Dimitri use his profiler skills to catch this killer before he hurts the woman he's growing to love?

Questions for Nike:
Q:  I find this set up intriguing. The shared heritage angle is unique. Please give us some more insight into your main character(s). What does he/she do that is so special?

A:  In COURTING DANGER, both Det. Katerina "Kat Andruko and forensic psychologist Dimitri Garmonin have a Slavic background and so do I. This gave me an opportunity to draw from what I know (culture, food, religious attitudes), what I grew up with. Though parts of my psyche are imbedded in each of them, neither of them are me…not even close. They are defined personalities I created. They both share a few very special attitudes and values. They both live and thrive in modern America but have deep respect for old world Slavic values. In the modern world they live in and work in professionally, each wants to protect the innocent, find justice for victims, and keep Pelican Beach, Florida (the fictitious city they live in) safe.

Q:  This sounds like a pretty intense story too. How did the idea come to you?

A:  A while back the invasion of Crimea by Russia was 'the story' on all news television channels, and it flooded the internet. The image of Ukrainian Orthodox Priests in their robes standing in the war zone became seared in my memory. They defied Russian tanks holding Bibles and wooden crosses. It's like they were saying, "You have to come through us to get to our towns and the people." My heritage is Slavic. I know the culture, the foods, the religious values. Out of this COURTING DANGER evolved. Kat is an American girl who spent two years in Ukraine as a teen is now a detective in a Florida beach community. She teams up with Dimitri a Russian-born forensic psychologist who came to America as a boy. She initially distrusts him, still they must catch a killer.

About the Author:

Nike N. Chillemi writes contemporary detective and/or suspense novels with a touch of wry humor, and there's often a national security twist to them. She likes her bad guys really bad, her good guys smarter and better, and a touch of the comedic. Her newest endeavor is COURTING DANGER.
Nike is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and its Chair, a reader's choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She has been a judge in the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories; and an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category. Her four novel Sanctuary Point series (out of print), set in the mid-1940s has finaled, won an award, and garnered critical acclaim. The first novel in the Veronica "Ronnie" Ingels/Dawson Hughes series HARMRUL INTENT won in the Grace Awards 2014 Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller/Historical Suspense category. She has written book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and John 3:16 Marketing Network.

Twitter: @NikeNChillemi

Thank you for dropping by, Nike!

Monday, November 19, 2018

FREE Book Alert! The Deepest Sigh ~ Echoes of the Heart, Book One

It's updated! It's re-issued! It's The Deepest Sigh ~ Echoes of the Heart, Book One. AND IT'S FREE!

The paperback will be available soon (in time for Christmas!). If you recall, this series went out of print when the publisher closed suddenly last summer. In fact, Book Two ~ The Softest Breath, had only just been released. The good news is that The Softest Breath has now also been re-issued! It's available for $3.99.  

Have a lovely and blessed Thanksgiving, everyone! I hope you get time over the holiday to kick back and relax with a good read. ~Naomi

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

And the GRAND PRIZE Winner of the Mist O'er the Voyageur Prize Package Is... (BUT, Guess What...!)

I want to shout out a big THANK YOU to everyone who helped me kick off my book release for Mist O'er the Voyageur this month by entering the Rafflecopter for the prize package giveaway. I've been blogging all over the place, introducing the characters, the history, the ideas that sparked the twists and turns of the tale, and it has been a blast! I couldn't wait to wake up this morning and find out who won the giveaway. So now I've spun the rafflecopter, and a name has emerged as the winner. With no further ado...

Joan Arning!

For those of you who entered and did not win, you can still enjoy the story for FREE!

You heard that right. My publisher is offering the Ebook on Kindle for Free this week. So don't miss out, even if you aren't getting this pretty stack of goodies!

This offer could end at any time, so hurry!

Tomorrow, everyone who signed up for my monthly newsletter will be receiving my award-winning short story Ellie Hollis Gets Her Man and updates on future releases. You can still sign up here.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Oop! I forgot to post this week's ebook winner!

It's been such a crazy week! I did a drawing and then forgot to post the winner!
The winner for week #3's ebook drawing of Mist O'er the Voyageur is

Kathleen D. Anderson!

There's still time to enter for the Grand Prize package! Scroll down to the rafflecopter.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Meet My Character Guest: René Dufour from the Novel "Mist O'er the Voyageur"

Today I have an exciting guest on my blog. He's handsome, he's rugged, he's got a story that will intrigue you. In fact, he's a hero. His name is René Dufour, and he's coming to you straight out of my new novel Mist O'er the Voyageur.

Would you like to meet him?

(A broad-shouldered man enters, bronzed and wind-swept in appearance. He removes a red wool cap and pushes back unruly hair almost as black as his beard. Pressing the cap in his hands, he dips his head in greeting. He wears a white muslin shirt and buckskin leggings. A ceinture fléchée, or arrow sash, woven in hues of bright red and blue circles his waist. Dark eyes shadowed by thick brows intrigue me.)

(Ah, we have to keep a bit of the mystery, right?)

Interview with René Dufour:

"Welcome to More Reason to Write, Monsieur, Dufour." (I point to a seat.)

"Please, call me René, or simply Dufour. I do not stand on formality." (He settles in the wooden chair and lays the wool cap on his lap.)

"All right, René. Thank you for traveling down the lake to meet with us today. Was it a long journey?"

"I left my post not many leagues north only two days ago and came directly. My crew awaits at our encampment. Tomorrow we embark further into the west. The weather, it changes quickly now, and soon we must set out our traps."

"You will not be returning to Montreal this year?"

"Once in every three years I must return and give my report to the company. Last year I went to Montreal, so I need not return again for two more years." (Grins) "It was a visit like none I've had before."

"You met someone there, if I understand correctly."

"Oui, Madam. I met a fiery woman who wanted to spit on me." (Chuckles) "We had much to learn about one another."

"I don't want to give too much away to my readers. Let's back up. Tell us about your role as a voyageur."

(A nonchalant shrug from René) "It is the usual role. We voyageurs paddle our canots for hours on end. Sixteen in a day is usual, with a pipe stop once every hour or so. It is dangerous, of course. One cannot always judge the mood of the Great Lakes or the peril of the rivers."

"You are brave men indeed."

"So some say. It is a life many feel called to. Others come to it of necessity. I have been given the chance to rise in the company. Others are not as fortunate. I did not come into my job as clerk until after I had spent several years with the company."

"You refer often to 'the company'."

"Oui, I am employed by the North West Company, though there are others, Hudson's Bay and so on. Now even the Americans have formed a company bent on a quest for furs. There is much competition among the companies, and sometimes much fighting. There are even the unlicensed coureur-du-bois, the independent fur traders who follow no rules, but risk fines and forfeiture if they are caught."

"When did you join the North West Company?"

"I was a young man. I left my mother's home at sixteen and went to sea. After several years I returned and joined the company as an apprentice clerk. I cut my teeth for four years in the Upper Country, and eventually gained my own post at the head of this great lac Supérieur."

"There are many rivers that run into Lake Superior, so I can see the value of such a post. Still, you've moved on."

"Now I am supervisor of a large region of traders."

"And did you come to supervise your brother's post as well?"

(Nods. His expression grows taut.) "Claude was not always easy. More often rebellious, both as a youth and as a man."

"I see. Perhaps we will let the discussion of Claude rest."

"Merci, Madam."

(I raise a brow and a half smile.) "I would rather speak of Brigitte. You met her then, in Montreal, and she plied her way aboard your brigade."

"She came in disguise as a young man and tried very much to fill her oncle's britches as a voyageur. Unfortunately, her femininity was difficult to hide."

"And you discovered her."

"Not immediately." (He strokes his beard.) "Not without much trouble."

"You mean Gervais?"

"Oui, Gervais and many other men, not to mention the weight of the packs, the living conditions... a woman alone in a brigade of men. She was a temptation, even for myself, yet I felt responsible for her."

"You are somewhat older than she."

(He frowns.) "I have not forgotten."

"Perhaps it's best we end our discussion here and let readers of your tale discover more."

"Perhaps so. I have a long journey ahead, and it is time I depart. I hear the song of my voyageurs, and the lake calls me."

"Thank you, again, René. I wish you safety as you paddle your long canoe and a profitable sojourn in the wilderness."

"God is my watchman. Au revoir."

"Au revoir."

If you'd like to know more about René, Claude, Brigitte, and the rest of the voyageurs and men of the north, get your copy of Mist O'er the Voyageur here or try to win a copy using the Rafflecopter or by attending the Facebook event below! 

Visit and enter to win again on Monday, Oct 29 on Linda Yezak's blog.
AND if you like to party with other readers and have opportunities to win this and other NEW historical romance fiction, join me and authors Tamera Lynn Craft and Shannon McNear this Friday afternoon, October 26th at a Colonial Quills Tea Party on Facebook.

Enter the Rafflecopter

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Announcing Winner #2 of a "Mist O'er the Voyageur" Ebook (PSST! There's still time to enter for the next drawing and more!)

I can't tell you how much fun I'm having drawing names to win my three ebook giveaways this month. A week ago today, Mist O'er the Voyageur released, and the reviews are great! (Special thanks to any reader who takes the time to review the books they enjoy. It means a lot to authors.)

Remember, I'm drawing a name every Wednesday this month. Next week I'll have another ebook winner. Then, on October 30th, one entrant is going to win this grand prize package:

Signed Paperback, Watercolor Print "Estuary", Beautiful Journal, Notepad and Mini-Journal, Magnet and Marker Swag
If you didn't get a chance to enter, or if you want to enter again (yes, AGAIN for multiple chances!) you can still do so on any of the following blogs/dates:

Oct. 29: Linda Yezak

AND if you didn't sign up for my monthly newsletter, you might want to catch that. In November I'm sending out another award-winning short story. It's a fun one!

Now without further ado, the Rafflecopter has been figuratively "spun" and here is the name of today's ebook winner:

Gracie Yost

Don't forget to re-enter for the grand prize! 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

It's RELEASE WEEK! The Story Behind Mist O'er the Voyageur (And the First of THREE winners in the Rafflecopter Drawing!)

Often when a writer releases a new story into the world, they're asked, "What inspired you to write this story? Where did you get this idea?" Someone recently asked me that very thing about Mist O'er the Voyageur my new novel releasing today. Perhaps before I give the answer, I should post the story blurb so you know what it's about if you haven't already heard.

After her aunt's death, Métis woman Brigitte Marchal finds herself alone in Montreal. Uninterested in the convent and desperate to flee a loathsome suitor, she disguises herself as a young man to travel west by voyageurs' brigade in search of her long-absent, fur-trader father. But her inexperience and disguise don't hide her for long.

René Dufour yields to the unwelcome position of shielding Brigitte, but he cannot hide her identity forever. Keeping her safe while meeting his North West Company obligations and honoring his family promises may prove to be more disquieting to his heart than he imagined.

As Brigitte adjusts to the voyageur life on Lake Superior, she struggles to justify the faith she grew up in with the mysticism around her, but greater still is the conflict her heart must settle over who to trust in this rugged, unfamiliar country.

Many years ago, I wrote a novel called The Casket Girl (no longer in print), a novel or romance and adventure set during the French and Indian war. It was the story of a young woman who arrived in New Orleans in the mid-1700s in the manner of the fille du roi or King's Daughters. She wasn't a true king's girl, as they immigrated a big earlier, but her situation was much the same. Her journey took her from France, to Louisianna, up the Mississippi to Fort Kaskaskia, and eventually on to Detroit an then east into fringes of the Appalachian wilderness. (I sigh with sentimentality to remember that story. I'd like to rewrite it someday.)

Who remembers Catrine Lafonte?
As I wrote that book, the seeds of a tale sprouted involving a woman in the wilderness of Canada and the northern United States. At first I thought she might be another immigrant from France, but as I delved further into history, I realized that to write such a story, she must not be European or American. However, she could easily bMétis, as the Métis people were so integral to the fur trade and the settling of the upper Great Lakes region.

About that fur trade... The story idea also tied into a two decades old vacation experience when our family and some friends visited the Fort William Historical Park near Thunder Bay, Ontario. This was a totally unplanned event. Our trailer of camping gear broke down, and we were stuck in Thunder Bay for a weekend. However, stuck proved to be the wrong attitude, because it turned out to be one of the most fortuitous experiences of our vacation. We spent an entire day at the fort. It was a living history experience where we engaged in hands on learning about the past, including the hearty voyageurs, the local Native American culture, and the other fur traders and people of the upper Great Lakes. Story ideas began swirling in my brain.

Slowly the ideas found root in a character -- a woman of both Objibwe and French Canadian descent who I named Brigitte Marchal. I remember a November deer hunting season, sitting patiently in my stand on a snow-covered log in the woods, trying to ignore the biting cold seeping into my spine by creating Brigitte's story in my head. I started carrying a tiny 3x5 notebook to my stand with me along with the nub of a pencil (because ink would freeze) to jot down story and scene ideas.

All those notes and ideas were tucked away for a spell, but eventually Brigitte's tale unfolded and I began to write. The first draft was rough, and I spent several years honing it, while at the same time other stories took precedence. As I published an array of other books, I kept chiseling away at the sculpture that would eventually become Mist O'er the Voyageur.

I also wanted a special home for the book. A different home than my other stories. I don't know why. I guess it was because it was a unique kind of historical adventure, and I thought maybe it had a special future. It wasn't until a year ago that I signed a contract that would birth Brigitte's romantic adventure through Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas' Smitten imprint. Then the real work began. But that's a tale for another day.

During the month of October, I'll be drawing 3 names as winners of a Mist O'er the Voyageur e-book. (Check here again on 17th and 24th). 

A GRAND  PRIZE drawing will be held on October 31st for the prizes pictured at the end of the post. Enter using the Rafflecopter! (My apologies, but due to postage constraints, I can only mail physical prizes within the continental U.S.)

But's winner of a MistK O'er the Voyageur e-book is:
Kay M.
Congratulations, Kay!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
(Continental U.S. Only)
Signed Paperback

Philippians 4:13 Blue Soul Scrips Flex-Cover Journal, Small Floral Notepad and Journal

8x10 Watercolor Print “Estuary” by Northland Artist Viola Labounty
This is the St. Louis River estuary at the head of Lake Superior, the location of a primary setting in Mist O'er the Voyageur.

(Postcards, Refrigerator Magnet, Magnetic Bookmark)

If you can't wait, you can

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Seven Days to Book Launch, and Here's Where the Giveaway Party is Heading

It's kick-off month! No, not football. That was is sooo last month (Go, Pack, Go!). 
Mist O'er the Voyager releases in ONE WEEK!
That's the kick-off I'm talking about. I feel like shouting, "Touch down!"

Okay, enough with the football metaphors. I'm just so excited, I want to celebrate. SO, I'll be hopping around a bunch of blogs this month, talking about the book, historical highlights, my writing process, sharing background. THEN I'll be giving multiple chances to win an e-copy of the novel, AND everyone who enters will have a shot at the Grand Prize which includes a signed paperback copy of Mist O'er the Voyageur, a lovely art print, an inspirational journal, and other swag.


Entering is easy. Just head to the blogs and fill out the Rafflecopter entry form.

Here's where I'll be and when:
Oct. 29: Linda Yezak

I'll draw for the ebooks on the 10th, the 17th, and the 24th, and the Grand Prize drawing will be on the 31st. I'll announce the winners here and in my newsletter, so don't miss it!

Monday, September 17, 2018

Join an Historical Romance Book Launch Team!

Have you ever been involved in a book launch? 
Did you even know there was such a thing as a book launch team, sometimes called a street team? Well, there is, and today I want to give you an opportunity to join mine!

Wait... wait... hold on.
I don't know what you're talking about, Naomi.

Please 'splain.

No problem! A book launch team is a group of avid readers -- in this case historical romance fans (Christian fiction) -- who are willing to help share the love and get the word out to other readers about a book. In return, they get to read the book early and for FREE, share ideas, collect some fun book swag goodies and, to top it off, they get introduced to a host of new friends who share their interests and passions and find encouragement with one another.

Sound fun -- or at least possibly interesting? 
If so, then here's your chance.

I am adding members to my #MistOerTheVoyageur Launch Team right now. If you want to become a part, then this is what you do. First, make sure you're familiar with my novel so you can determine whether it's your type of read. There's no sense in joining a launch team if you don't feel wholehearted about the story. You can read more about the book here. Then just fill out the application. It's quick and easy, and its mostly to help me learn a tiny bit about you. Once the launch is over, the team will still stay connected on my private Facebook group page. You can select to stay on the team for further book launches if you want. (I will have at least two more next year.) 

Interested? Hey, then! What's stopping you from applying? I mean... free reads for a small investment of time and a little sharing the love? Here's the application:

Still not sure? Read more about my launch team right here: Naomi's Reading Getaway and Grace-Filled Launch Team

Sunday, August 19, 2018

You Won't Soon Forget this Beautiful Story - A Review of Stronger Than Mountains, a Novel by Lynn Dean

I stayed up late last night to finish Lynn Dean's Stronger Than Mountains, a western historical that's wild west adventure, women's fiction, and a family coming-of-age story all wrapped in one.

Sangre de Cristo Series ~ Book Two

It is the story of a man and a woman whose years of marriage and struggle to raise a passel of children in a hard but beautiful land has run them dry. Despite the dreams they began with, they've begun to live separate lives, unsure how to salvage their love and the hope for the future they once had. Meanwhile, there are obstacles to saving their family and their ranch -- big ones -- from floods and food shortage, to a desperate cattle drive, ambushing thieves, a difficult pregnancy, and a land war. Zeke and Millie are dealing with all these while trying to raise a daughter who is growing fast, and three restless boys who are each trying to make the sometimes risky leap across the chasm to manhood. Against this ever-increasing mountain of hardships, Zeke and Millie struggle to make sense of their lives and the love that once bound them together.

I admire Ms. Dean's writing style a great deal. By chapter two I was holding my breath, and when one of their sons did what he did (no spoilers!) my eyes got all misty. (Let it be known that I'm a hard case. Fiction doesn't get to me that easily.) Ms. Dean tells a story with beauty, depth, and authenticity. If you are married, you'll relate to her characters' troubles and striving in one way or another. As a parent, you'll be touched and encouraged, and you won't soon forget this moving and insightful tale.

Monday, August 6, 2018

Winner of Linda Yezak's Circle Bar Ranch Prize Giveaway!

Thank you to everyone who participated with your comments and follows during Linda Yezak's Ride to the Altar (Circle Bar Ranch Book Three) blog tour!

We have a winner for the prize package giveaway!

and the winner is:
Linda Orr

Congratulations, Linda!

Monday, July 23, 2018

Giveaway Tour for RIDE TO THE ALTAR by Linda W. Yezak

I'm thrilled to have Linda Yezak on my blog today. Linda and I have never met in person, and yet we go way back to the pre-Facebook days when we met on an online Christian Writers forum. It has been an honor to both grow a friendship and to follow her writing career ever since. Today she's going to talk about her summer, writing process, and characters in her new release RIDE TO THE ALTARShe's also offering a chance to win a terrific cowgirl giveaway package at the end of the post.

About the Book:

Cattle are dying on the Circle Bar, putting the Texas ranch in financial jeopardy. Newly engaged Patricia Talbert and Talon Carlson must root out the cause before they can concentrate on wedding plans.

But that mystery isn't their only obstacle. To placate her father, Patricia must return to her hometown of Manhattan to make amends with her mother, the interfering, dominating woman she has hardly spoken to in a year. Her father decides it is time for them to declare a truce, but considering the depth of anger she holds against her mother, how can she?

While she is away, Talon discovers that the attacks on the ranch are connected to the murder of his first fiancée over eight years ago. Memories plague him and emotions confound him as he scrambles to discover who is trying to destroy him and the ranch. By the time Patricia returns from New York, the strikes against the Circle Bar have become more aggressive, to the point of injury for one of the ranch hands. 

Before they can move forward together, each have to resolve the past. Their Ride to the Altar has twists and turns neither ever considered. Will they be able to start their new life with a clean slate?

     Interview with Linda

*    This has been a terrific series, especially for fun summer reading. How about your summer? With everything you're up to, are you finding ways to enjoy your summer or are you focused on writing projects throughout?

We're more likely to vacation in spring or fall, but summertime is reserved for festivals and book events, some of which we attend every June. Each year, I pay for vendor space in two festivals—the Blueberry Festival here in east Texas and the Polish Festival in central Texas. We've worked these two for so long, I have repeat customers. It's great to have a following, no matter how small. This year, we had the added benefit of a library event—held indoors, thank You, Jesus! Aside from these, I have one more event—a speech to the ACFW chapter in The Woodlands, near Houston, then things will quieten down until fall.

Even while I'm working the release of Ride to the Altar, I'm trying to find time to finish a historical romance novella. This one is called Loving a Harvey Girl, for The Cowboy Collection to be released next year by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolina's Smitten imprint. Time is moving much faster than I am. The story is due next month, and if my life doesn't slow down a bit, I may not make the deadline!

That sounds intensely busy! Writing is certainly a multi-tasking process. Speaking of that, readers have gotten to know Talon and Patricia like good friends. Can you tell us a little about your personal process for creating your characters? 

I'm a bit of a pantser and rarely do anything formally before I have a few chapters written. Of course, I have a general idea of what I want to do before I start, so I'm aware of the type of characters I'll need, but rarely do I have a clue as to their personalities. As I write, my characters introduce themselves to me, and as they do, I discover which will be used to make certain events occur in the story.

Sometimes, a character will want more of the limelight than their assigned role demands. With the first of my Circle Bar Ranch series, Give the Lady a Ride, secondary character Marie Lambeau was much more flamboyant than the heroine, Patricia Talbert. I had to tone her down considerably, but she's still a hoot. She matures over the course of the series and is Patricia's rock when it comes to matters of faith.

In my stand-alone The Cat Lady's Secret, one of the minor characters turned out to be the culprit who was burning down the town's historic homes. When it dawned on me that he would be the perfect one to be guilty of the crime, I had to actually do a character sketch and some free-writing to figure out why. Since he was such a minor character, I didn't have much of a clue about his background and what would drive him to commit such a crime. This was around mid-book, so I had to work within the perimeters of what I'd already written, but I also had to go back and weave in a bit more about him—a typical hazard of being a pantser. But spending time with the character enhanced the story.

For the Circle Bar Ranch series, I knew I was going to do a “fish out of water” story—city girl meets bull-riding ranch foreman. I also knew I had to avoid stereotypes, so Patricia Talbert has some knowledge about ranching, and Talon Carlson has a college degree. And, frankly, those tidbits of information were the only things I knew about the characters before I started writing. It was fun watching them develop, and now they're as real to me as my next-door neighbors.

Do you have a favorite character or character “type” you like to write about?

Hard to pick one. Over the course of the series, the characters I love most are Frank Simmons and Consuela Garcia. Both are secondary characters, but both add so much to the story. The oldest cowhand on the ranch, Frank tends to play Talon's conscience and Patricia's surrogate father while she's so far from her real dad.

But Consuela, the cook/maid/laundress/honorary-mama, is my favorite. She is high-tempered and outspoken. She loves fiercely and is highly loyal and also serves as a source of wisdom for Patricia. One of my favorite scenes featuring Consuela is in The Final Ride when Patricia's aunt Adele joins the cast. Adele is the quintessential New York snob who is accustomed to servants, and Consuela has never been treated like a servant her entire life. The scene in which Consuela confronts Patricia about her aunt still makes me giggle.

Because there seems to be fewer rules for writing secondary characters, I find them far more fun to play with. As long as they don't outshine the main character, as Marie once did Patricia, the sky's the limit with them.

I have to admit, I'm going to miss the cast and crew of the Circle Bar Ranch. I've already had one request to write a fourth book. It's tempting.

About the Author

Linda W. Yezak lives with her husband and their funky feline, PB, in a forest in deep East Texas, where tall tales abound and exaggeration is an art form. She has a deep and abiding love for her Lord, her family, and salted caramel. And coffee—with a caramel creamer. Author of award-winning books and short stories, she didn't begin writing professionally until she turned fifty. Taking on a new career every half century is a good thing.

Facebook: Author Page
Twitter: @LindaYezak
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Enter to win the fabulous cowgirl prize package!
Included in the prize basket are  a signed print version of the series, a 16-ounce Christian cowboy mug, a horseshoe picture frame, a Ph. 4:13 stretch bracelet, a cute set of magnetic page markers, and, just for fun, a Texas Rubiks cube. To enter to win, just leave a comment on something you've read here. Linda is visiting a series of blogs, and you can enter on every one. Her next stop to win is at Linda Glaz's blog.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Read an Excerpt and Get the Pre-Order Price on a New Historical Romance


To arrive in your mailbox in October, 2018

Mist O’er the Voyageur

a Novel of Romance, Adventure, and the Lake Superior Fur Trade

After her aunt’s death, Métis woman Brigitte Marchal finds herself alone in Montreal. Uninterested in the convent and desperate to flee a loathsome suitor, she disguises herself as a young man to travel west by voyageurs’ brigade in search of her long-absent, fur-trader father. But her inexperience and disguise don’t hide her for long.
René Dufour yields to the unwelcome position of shielding Brigitte, but he cannot hide her identity forever. Keeping her safe while meeting his North West Company obligations and honoring his family promises may prove to be more disquieting to his heart than he imagined.
As Brigitte adjusts to the voyageur life on Lake Superior, she struggles to justify the faith she grew up in with the mysticism around her, but greater still is the conflict her heart must settle over who to trust in this rugged, unfamiliar country. 
René’s shadow fell over her. “Marchal, if I am not mistaken. Brigitte Marchal.” His voice barely more than a whisper, pinned her to the ground. She was a fish caught on a spear with no hope of wriggling free. She looked up. His sharp eyes impaled her.
She lowered the bowl. Swallowed. The food stuck somewhere in her chest as she nodded.
Brigitte cringed and stared at his legs as he shifted his weight back and forth. Her gaze crawled slowly to the level of his hands on his hips, then slowly to his face. She quickly looked away.
“What were you thinking? Why have you followed me? You must return to your home, to the convent.”
She dashed a glance upward, but he wasn’t looking at her. His chest rose and fell. His gaze swept about them. Then he zeroed in on her again. A knot worked in his jaw. “I have no one to spare to take you back, but you willgo.”
Non.” She shook her head. “I am going on. I am hired by the company.”
“You cannot.” He looked as though he wanted to shake her, but men did not shake one another. They wrestled. They slung their fists. Did he wish she was a man right now so he could beat her?
“I must.” She set the bowl aside and pushed to her feet. Courage—nay, determination—burrowed deep in her soul. “I will not go back. I cannot. I will find my father, and if I do not, I will perhaps search for my mother’s people or”—she shrugged—“or go wherever the river leads me. I will not be a burden.”
A sigh rushed out of him. “You are already a burden.”
“How? I have paddled as long as the rest. No one knows who I am except for you.”
“We have traveled one day on a journey of weeks!” He lifted his finger into the air and pointed it in her face. “One day!” His face reddened.
She stepped back, but her back stiffened. “One day or a hundred. It matters not. I will work as hard as the others.”
“Tomorrow we portage the Long Sault. You know what that means?”
She gave the slightest nod.
“You will have to carry a pack. A pack which I doubt you can even lift.”
There lay the crux of her problem.
“Show me. Show me how you will carry them.” He marched several yards to a stack of bundles piled beneath the trees.
She stared at him, but he did not budge. He waited. She trudged toward him, stopping near a bundle of goods. Closing her eyes, she held her breath and lifted. The weight of it barely cleared the ground before it plunged back to the soil. She gasped as her face burned.
“In less than a day, I have discovered you. How long before these voyageurs do as well? And then what will you do? How can I protect you?”
“Protect me?”
Oui. Protect you. You are one woman among many men.” He needn’t say more.

Friday, June 15, 2018

A Shake-Up in Publishing and My Personal World -- But God's Got This!

What did Longfellow say,
"Into each life some rain must fall"? 

It's a rainy week, and I'm talking metaphorically, even though we're experiencing some powerful literal storms in Wisconsin as well. I received news yesterday -- as did the entire entourage of my fellow authors, editors, and cover artists at Desert Breeze Publishing -- that after ten years in the business, DBP is closing it's doors. There's nothing nefarious going on, no bankruptcy or anything like that. But as anyone knows, sometimes things come into our lives that force us to change direction, and my wonderful publishers Gail and Jenifer at DBP have reached a place where they feel now is the time to make this decision.

Of course, the many of us published by DBP or left with incompleted contracts are trying to wrap our minds and hearts around this news. Some of the authors had books about to come out that will be cancelled now, and some, like me, just had a new release that will be gone as quickly as it was birthed. At every end of the spectrum, there is sadness, and yet we are grateful for the opportunities we were given.

Here's the thing: God is not surprised.

When I signed with DBP almost nine years ago, I knew that small and independent presses often have brief lifespans. Good gravy, even big publishers get swept up into larger overhead organizations or sometimes bite the dust. I never expected DBP to go on forever, no matter how I dreamed it might for both the publishers and authors like me who found a welcome home there. Transition is part of the publishing world. I am thankful that Gail and Jenifer are working at making the whole dismantling  as smooth and painless as possible for us. They hope to go out in grace and style.

So, what does that mean for me and for those of you who have enjoyed my books? (I love you!
It means that VERY SOON my books will come down for Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christian Book Distributors, DBP, and other online retailers, probably before the end of JUNE.

However, this is not the end for my books!

I am praying hard right now for God's direction as I try to figure out the best plan for these stories I've poured my heart so deeply into. Some will most likely be independently re-released. This will give me a wonderful opportunity to do some tightening and re-editing -- maybe even adding some additional scenes (or not!). I'll have to give each book an in-depth study and see. Others may find new homes at other presses. There is not a real answer yet. I am fully at peace however, knowing that God is opening doors I don't even know about yet, and if He is choosing to close some, then that is well and good too. He's got it. I'm good. May he bless my publishers, friends, and fellow authors at DBP!

So, if you want to grab a LAST copy of any of my books or download an ebook, DON'T WAIT! I am going to have a few remaining copies on hand, but these won't last, and I will be saving them for close-to-home sales. 

~My Personal Silver Lining~

Amidst the rain clouds, I do have a silver lining. I still have the dear-to-my-heart historical novel Mist O'er the Voyageur releasing from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas in October. I will be able to put a lot of focus on that exciting, long-awaited release. I will also have a forthcoming novella published in an historical romance collection with several other LPC authors. Please consider signing up for my newsletter to be kept abreast of these releases as well as the future of my previous books -- and PLEASE keep me and the other DBP authors in your thoughts and prayers as we say goodbye to DBP and make the tough decisions for our works. 

With much appreciation and many grateful thoughts,

Friday, May 25, 2018

Page-Turning Tension in Three Strand Cord by Tracy Krauss - a Book Review

Tracy Krauss delivers another round of convincing characters and page-turning tension in Three Strand Cord. 

From the get-go, as we meet Tempest, Stella, and Cherise, the three best friend protagonists, their distinct personalities, quirks, and foibles make them individual and believable.  

The story begins with them in their early years when they are fraught with typical teenage angst, though their circumstances might be different than most. However, as the story spins on, Ms. Krauss does a superb job of weaving together three tales of young women in their twenties, still striving for emancipation and individual relevance while becoming embroiled in a riveting international intrigue through which they face powerful moral, romantic, and spiritual dilemmas. Ms. Kraus does an excellent job of weaving together those threads – along with the three strands of their friendship toward the climax. 

And if you like a good love triangle, there are several to go around. Ms. Krauss is an author who knows how to reel you in with some smoking hot romantic tension. If you like edgy, contemporary Christian romance with a strong thread of suspense that will keep you guessing, you’ll want to add this one to your must-read list.

I received a free copy of this book for review purposes. I always strive to give an honest review with the perspective of which genre the book was written in, regardless of whether the genre is a favorite of mine or not.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Christian Fiction Lovers, Heroic Women Facebook Party!

Here's a party you don't want to miss, coming up this Monday, 5/21! I'm not just saying that because I'm one of the authors presenting. I can't wait to hear about some of these books. There are several BRAND NEW titles across a range of genres so there's "literally" something for everyone. Plus, here's the perfect chance to get the scoop on each story straight from the authors themselves and to ask them the questions you've been wondering about. ALSO: if you'd like to get a little preview before the party, see each novel featured over on the Word Sharpeners blog.  Here's the link to the CHRISTIAN FICTION LOVERS HEROIC WOMEN FB PARTY!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The Pony Express Collection -- a review

The Pony Express Romance Collection: Historic Express Mail Route Delivers Nine Inspiring RomancesThe Pony Express Romance Collection: Historic Express Mail Route Delivers Nine Inspiring Romances

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I was excited to dip into the Pony Express collection of novellas because it brought to mind one my favorite television series of the early ‘90s. Anybody remember The Young Riders? Fun stuff. This collection is chock full of that kind of historical romantic adventure. I particularly enjoyed Pegg Thomas’s Embattled Hearts. It’s gritty, and her voice is very rich and strong – true to the setting and period, which is something I particularly like in historical fiction. It gives realism to the romance. I have a few of the stories still to read, but I look forward to some pleasurable hours ahead.

View all my reviews