Thursday, October 21, 2010

Christmas Mail-Order Brides

Just in time for the Holiday season, Barbour's collection of Christmas novellas made an enchanting romantic escape. Three mail-order brides head west to seek new lives and hope for love as they meet their matches through Mrs. Mayberry's Matrimonial Society for Christians of Moral Character. As a delightful conclusion, the fourth novella involves Mrs. Mayberry herself.

Carrie Turansky tugged on my heartstrings with Annika Bergstrom's story, a Swedish immigrant who must leave her newly married sister to seek a place and a husband of her own. When the man whom she believed to send for her rejects her, she faces the fear of abandonment, until an unexpected love blossoms right where God planted her. Tender, real and touching, this story kicks off the four-part novella collection with a gentle hero that stole my heart.

Next, Vickie McDonough brings an action-packed tale of a young emancipated orphan escaping the odious clutches of her new employer. Jolie Addams is bound for Nevada to set up house with a shop-owner, but when a gunman holds up the stage on which she rides and shoots her traveling companion, her plans take a detour. Can she find love in a hostile land where her very reputation is on the line? The chemistry between the hero and heroine in this novella had me up past midnight to find a great happily ever after.

Therese Stenzel writes a story of suspense and secrets between a woman scorned by her former fiance and a widower seeking a new start for himself and his daughters. Elisabeth Lariby is thrust into a contract of marriage with Zane Michaels, a gentle, philanthropic soul who longs to win her reticent heart. Their unsettled past seeks to drive a wedge between them, and they each must lay it to rest before accepting God's future for them.

Finally, I had the pleasure of reading my first Susan Page Davis story, and from the first lines, Mrs. Amelia Mayberry won me over. It takes a writer of refinement and grace to depict a character with those attributes, and Amelia was all of that and full of warm genuineness, too. Facing retirement from her matchmaking business, Amelia has one last loose string to tie--her late husband's best friend Lennox Bailey. She had failed in her prior attempt to find Lennox a suitable wife, but with God's help, she is determined to succeed this time. Will the matchmaker find the love she has sown out to so many other happy couples?

These engaging stories are sure to brighten many Christmas seasons with hope, love and a happily ever after.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer

Head in the Clouds by Karen Witemeyer is one of those stories that hearkens to fans of westerns and regencies alike. When gritty little heroine Adelaide Proctor, the daughter of a rancher, meets Gideon Westcott, son of an English Lord, the sparks fly.

Gideon needs a governess for his adopted daughter, and Addie needs a job after her hopes for love and marriage fizzle. When she starts seeing stars in her eyes at Gideon's smile, she must get her head out of fantasies of her own personal Mr. Rochester, especially when her young charge is threatened by a ruthless inheritance seeker.

Fast-paced and yet beautifully written, I found this second novel of Karen Witemeyer every bit as good as the first, with rich primary and secondary characters, visceral emotions, and a tangible setting. Highly recommended.

Karen Witemeyer is a very promising new author, definitely one to watch for. She has written this and the delicious historical romance A Tailor-Made Bride. She creates wonderful plots and realistic, human characters who steal your heart. You'll want to keep a watch for her books in the future.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Interview with Sandi Rog/Giveaway

I am thrilled to welcome Sandi Rog today. Sandi is the debut author of The Master’s Wall, a historical romance to be released November 1st. It is now available to pre-order from DeWard publishers .

Sandi writes a fabulous blog called Dare to Dream, and I just love the motto: WHEN THE WORLD SAYS YOU CAN'T, FAITH SAYS YOU CAN!
She also is the founder and chief contributor to the blog, The Book Doctor, where she provides tips to learn the writing craft.

A blurb about The Master’s Wall
He fights for his freedom. She fights for her life. Together, they fight for each other.
After watching Roman soldiers drag his parents away to their death, David, a young Hebrew, is sold and enslaved to serve at a villa outside of Rome. As David trains to become a skilled fighter, he works hard to please his master and hopes to earn his freedom. However, an opportunity to escape tempts him with its whispering call. Freedom beckons, but invisible chains hold him captive to the master’s granddaughter, an innocent girl with a fiery spirit. David vows to protect Alethea from his master, the murderous patriarch, and contrives a daring plan—sacrifice his own life to save hers.

Ahhh, that sounds heavenly. Sandi, welcome! I am beyond excited about your debut book. Tell me why Ancient Rome beckoned you to write this story, and how the characters were birthed in your heart.

Thank you, Kathy! I’m so thrilled to be here!
One of the reasons I chose Ancient Rome is because I wanted to bring the Biblical time period to life, to bring it closer to home. I lived in Europe for thirteen years, and one thing I learned about my American heritage is that we’re a lot like the Romans. For example, we’re sticklers on showering every day (Europeans believe showering everyday isn’t necessary). Likewise, the Romans were sticklers on bathing daily, and called all those outside of Rome who didn’t bath daily, barbarians. That for me is one of the more humorous comparisons. There are many others, but I won’t get into them here. My hope is if I can show that this time period really isn’t that much different from our own, then what we read in the Bible really isn’t so “ancient” that it can’t apply to us today. In those days, Romans had plumbing, they invented roads (many of which are still used to this day all over Europe), they had mile-markers, baths, swimming pools, curling irons (of course, not plugged in), amphitheaters, etc. Their neighbors, the Greeks, invented the Olympics, something we all look forward to once every four years. I can go on and on.

I came up with the characters by wondering what in the world it would have been like to live in that time if your parents were taken away from you because of their faith. How would that affect a child? Would it make him stronger in his faith? Or weaker because he was away from their influence? As I studied Jewish history (because my main character is Hebrew), I learned that sons were made to memorize scriptures. And so I thought, David, even at age ten, would have had the Word deeply engrained in him. He wouldn’t know everything, but he’d have a solid foundation. So, I tried to build on that with him. I also had the question: what if a Christian (because of persecution) was forced to be a gladiator? What if this Christian had the ability to defend himself? Wouldn’t it be a natural instinct to defend oneself against death? But what would happen if he was threatened with his life to then kill the person who tried to kill him? I deal with some of that (and a whole bunch of other things) in my next book.

I love talking to debut authors, because their excitement is so palpable it’s contagious. But your writing journey hasn’t always been ticker tape and toasts. What was the lowest time in your journey to publication, and how did you press on? What advice do you have for writers who feel like their day will never come?

Boy, that lowest time was so low I thought it was certain I would never be published. It’s a long complicated story, so I won’t get into it, but when I was faced with that time, I dreamed of my grandchildren coming across my stories and getting them published for me. Knowing that my children would have my stories and would be able to pass them down to their family was what I decided would have to be enough for me. I figured, I’d just self-publish a few copies for them and that’d be the end of it. It also broke my heart because I’d written this book (these books) for God, and I wanted Him to USE them for His glory. How could He do that if they were collecting dust in a drawer somewhere? God and I had a lot of talks about that. Or maybe I should say, He heard a lot from me during that time. LOL

As for advice for writers who feel that day may never come, really no one knows what the future holds. I can only tell you how I dealt with it. I actually liked the thought of my grandkids being so touched by my stories that they inspired them to remain faithful to God. I also imagined them falling so in love with my stories that they’d end up finding a publisher for me. But I told God that I wanted to reap the benefits of my labor, while here on earth. I mean, from heaven I’d likely be too busy and having fun up there to care. I also had to decide to accept God’s will for my writing. Yes, I was devastated thinking it would never happen (in my lifetime, lol), but I also had given these stories to God. I told them they were His books for Him to do with as He pleases. So, if for some reason, He didn’t want them published in my lifetime, so be it. I would have to find joy in that. It wasn’t easy, but like I said, I decided to put my hope in future generations of my lineage. If you’d like to read about some of my struggles with this, you can go to my blog. This post in particular talks about it: This will give you a hint of just how great that devastation was later. When you set your sights on greatness, the fall to the ground is a lot higher and harder.
Anyway, you just have to find something positive to focus on during that time, and trust in what God has in store. In the great scheme of things, He knows what’s best. Also, never give up. Half the work is writing the book. The other half is trying to sell the thing.

What do you wish for this book to accomplish, in terms of your readers, your career, and your genre?

I want it to encourage people to read their Bibles. To question what I’ve written and hold it next to the scriptures. I want them to move closer to God and realize just how passionate He is about them, just how passionately He loves each and every one of us.
As for my career, I think every writer dreams of becoming the next bestseller. Yes. I dream big. Even when being published through a small press. Why not? Since God can part the Red Sea, He can do amazing things with what I write for Him. And why can’t my book be born in a stable? LOL Okay, all that said, it’s all up to God. He knows what I want. The question is, what does He want?
As for my genre, I don’t really have a wish for that. What I mean is, I just want my story to inspire others to write the best stories they can, no matter what the genre.

God tends to speak to me through my own writing. Has this happened to you, and if so, what have you learned from this book?

I’ve learned to pray over everything, every line, every paragraph and every page. And this is no exaggeration . I want my work to be pleasing to God, so I ask Him constantly if there’s something in my work that He doesn’t approve of, to show me so I can fix it. I also ask Him to show me how to fix things, and He does! I’m not saying He speaks to me in this low, heavenly whisper. He usually sends a friend or a critique partner, or a sermon or a song, or a scripture, or whatever, my way to show me the answer. I just have to keep my eyes and ears open because I never know where it’s going to come from. That’s when I also pray and ask Him to help me not to miss it! I tend to get a little distracted and lost in daydreams—which are really my stories, but yah.

Do you have other books in the works?

Yes! Right now, I’m nearing the end of Book Two titled, Yahshua’s Bridge. If you’re wondering what in the world “Yahshua” means, it’s Christ’s name. I just love the thought of having His original Hebrew name on the cover of my book. Lord willing, after that will come “Father’s Rock.”
Thank you so much for having me, Kathy. You’re a fabulous writer, and I’m honored to be here.

Sandi, it is always a blessing spending time with you. You have one if the sweetest spirits I’ve encountered in my cyber travels, meeting Christian fiction authors. I wish you the utmost success with The Master’s Wall.

For a chance to win Sandi's book, The Master's Wall, all blog guests in the U.S. can leave a comment with your email addy. Follow my blog for an extra chance to win. Thank you for visiting today! Winner will be chosen at random Friday at 10 AM Eastern.