Monday, August 4, 2014

Interview with Nancy Kimball and giveaway Chasing the Lion audiobook

Welcome Nancy! What a thrill to have you as an honored guest. I first met Nancy Kimball when she and I were finalists in the 2012 Genesis contest for unpublished writers. She is an amazing writer and a terrific person.

Thank you for having me! I remember that well because the other historical finalist was my crit partner. Secretly I think we both needed you to win so we wouldn’t have the awkwardness if she or I had one, LOL, so we cheered you long and loud for your well-deserved win that year. And by the way, my debut novel was that same story. He looks good all grown up, doesn’t he? =)

We are so happy to have you here this week, and that you have agreed to share a bit about yourself. I know we’re all going to enjoy getting to know you and your work better.

Q: First of all, granola with chocolate chips, celery sticks with organic peanut butter, or a decadent mocha frappe with New York style cheesecake?   ;)
How is pizza not among my choices? Where is the pizza, Kathleen? #highmaintenanceguest

Q: What causes are you passionate about, and how do they find their way into your writing?
Watch me keep being difficult, LOL, but for me it’s an attitude rather than a cause. I believe, and have personally experienced over and over, that no life is too messed up and broken to be used by 
God, and that no person is too far gone for the Lord to redeem. I think 
Christians have no trouble believing this, until we’re required to translate that belief into practical application, especially for ourselves. I already knew this in my own life, which I’d wrecked fairly well prior to writing this novel. However, I hadn’t realized how fully that truth for me had translated into my hero’s journey until we reached the end together. It was at that point we renamed the series “The Sword of Redemption” (from Forges of Faith). The same way our hero’s sword brought redemption to many throughout the story, it was the same way God through the sword of His word and the Spirit (Eph. 6:17, Heb. 4:12 ) brought redemption to my hero, and to me in my own life.
Q: If you could sit down and interview any person, fictitious or real from any time, who would that be and what is the first question you would ask?
Prince Jonathan, from the Bible, and my first question would be how did he remain faithful to God and loyal to two men he loved that were enemies for most of his life.

Q: Which parts of your heroine or hero are you, or do you aspire to be?
I am all the characters in Chasing the Lion. From the bravest of heroes like Jonathan and the deepest of faith Christ-followers like Nessa to the vilest of villains. (Caius Pullus & Valentina Florus anyone?) It was a great question, Kathleen, but I’ve found for me I have to continue to be as honest with myself as I am with my readers and it means owning I’m the villains just as much as the heroes and heroines. Like when a prism is held to the light, the refraction allows you to see all the colors individually that make the light. I’m the prism and the characters in this novel are my colors. Every last one of them.

Q: Tell us about your writing journey and how you came to the indie decision.
Chasing the Lion was my first NaNoWriMo project. The next two years were spent learning the craft of fiction and making it a publication ready novel instead of a beginner manuscript. After countless revisions and rewrites, I sold Chasing the Lion to a small press in 2013. Later that year the publisher and I chose to part ways because of contract issues and differing expectations of each other. For the first time I began to seriously consider self-publishing. I met Indie author Nicole Deese (a God thing) and after a lot of prayer and reflection, made the decision to self-publish in January of this year. For more on the how and the why I went Indie, see this post at Writers on the Storm.

Q:  What message do you hope your readers will take away from your debut? And can you hint at any works to come?
You have a choice with what to do with your suffering. This is driven home in a letter in the final chapter that is very special to me, and explained in the acknowledgements. As for my work in progress, it is the sequel of course!

In their quest to defend Rome and protect all they hold dear, our heroes will again be tested. Old enemies return, alliances are tested and a new threat greater than any they’ve faced is coming. Charging the Darkness (Spring 2015).

Q: Do you have a question you would like our blog readers to answer?
Yes! For the authors, I want to know if you write or edit to music like I do. And for readers, have you tried audiobooks yet? Why or why not? And I would LOVE to giveaway a copy of the recently released audiobook of Chasing the Lion. Trust me. I have one of the most amazing narrators the world has ever heard! (That was a God-thing too.)

***Listen to an excerpt from the audiobook here

Author, avid reader, and shameless hero addict, Nancy Kimball loves books, Ancient Rome, and all things gladiator. She makes her home in Houston, Texas with one very spoiled pitbull mix named Eric T. and still doesn’t understand the point of white crayons. Learn more and read the incredible story “Finding Jonathan” at her official website and connect with her on Facebook

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Elmira Prison Camp Sesquicentennial Living History Event May 3

Forgive me for being geeked out today. History has been a passion of mine since I was in middle school. (No need to tell you all exactly how many years ago that was. Suffice to say, my youngest child is now in middle school.) But not just history, local history. And Civil War history. It was like the perfect triumvirate of awesome yesterday when my family and I attended a living history event commemorating the Civil War prison camp's 150th anniversary along the banks of the Chemung River. 

A few quick facts about Elmira Prison Camp:
  • Called Hellmira by the Confederates imprisoned there.
  • From May 3, 1864 when barracks #3 were converted to house prisoners to July 1665 when the last prisoners were mustered out, 24 % of its population died.
  • disease, starvation, putrid water supply, exposure to extreme weather, and overcrowding are among causes of high death rate.
  • Highest death rate of any camp, North or South--even than Andersonville.
  • built to house 5,000 men, population swelled to 10,000 within weeks. 

bridge to Foster's Island--me in background
With this dramatic history, it seemed especially meaningful yesterday as the Chemung Living History Association came together with reenactors to present the event on Foster Pond near the actual campgrounds. 

fixin' tater soup

inspecting the troops before battle

Union soldiers fire first shots
Virginia Infantry answer the Union volley

Chaplain praying for dying soldier

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Viking Week: interview with Heather Day Gilbert, author of God's Daughter

Welcome Heather! We are so happy to have you here today and feature your book this week, and I am excited that you have agreed to share a bit about yourself.

Q: First of all to ward off this crazy, persistently chilly weather, French vanilla coffee, hot cocoa, or steaming tea?   ;)

Oh, boy. The answer is ALWAYS coffee for me, no matter what type! A nice cappuccino sounds really good today...

Q: What causes are you passionate about, and do they find their way into your writing?

I'm passionate about many things, but one issue that's found its way into all my books so far is the need to present marriage realistically. I think most married couples, if they're honest, would say they have gone through some really rough times, even if they're just newlyweds! There are seasons to marriage, and I feel it's important to show the ups and downs we all experience. Another topic I often find creeping into my stories is the supernatural, because I think it's a hard thing to understand—yet it's so important to look at it biblically.

Q: If you could sit down and interview any person, fictitious or real from any time, who would that be and what is the first question you would ask?

I think right now, it would definitely be Freydis, daughter of Eirik the Red, and the woman who will be the main character in my second Viking novel, Forest Child. She did some things historically and I really want to know the true motivations she had. However, I'm afraid I might hate her answers and then readers would hate her too! I'm really striving to incorporate the reality of her choices with the reasons that could have pushed her into them.

Q: Who have been your mentors, and how did they help you most?

My Grandma Wilcox, my great-aunt Jenny Lee (also a writer), my parents, my in-laws, my siblings...honestly, my family has been so supportive of every writing endeavor. But it's really the prayers that are the biggest help. Prayers are powerful, even if you feel like they're not being heard. My mom also taught me the importance of giving things up to the Lord—which means asking Him for guidance and then, often, taking those hard steps of obedience.

Not to mention my husband, who I would say has really pushed me to ask those hard questions of the Bible and has helped me understand it better. I have so much respect for him.

Q: Which parts of your wonderful Viking heroine Gudrid are you, and which are the heroine you aspire to be?

Great question! Our characters often reflect us in some ways as authors, and you really have to get into their heads when you write in first person, as I do. I'm more like Freydis in some ways and more like Gudrid in others. I feel compassion for others and have that desire to heal, like Gudrid. But I also tend to run out and fight, like Freydis. Also, my in-laws are a huge, loving part of my life, like they are for Gudrid—they are my family.

As to what I aspire to with Gudrid: I love her deep faith in God's goodness. I tend to question everything, but Gudrid tends to trust.

Q:  What message do you hope your readers will take away from your books? And can you hint at any works to come?

I hope they take away several things:

1) Vikings weren't that weird or different from us on many levels. They had the same motivations (just like humans throughout history).
2) Lust in marriage can be overcome, as well as a host of other misunderstandings.
3) Paganism was not a good thing for the Vikings.
4) Sometimes we don't give our spouses enough credit.

As far as upcoming novels, I have a contemporary Appalachian mystery, Miranda Warning, which will release (hopefully!) June 20, 2014 (West Virginia Day). I'm so excited about this book, which brings modern West Virginia to readers...and my main character, Tess Spencer, is close to my heart.

My second book in The Vikings of the New World Saga will be next in line for publication—Forest Child. I'm figuring this won't release until 2015. Again, Freydis is such a multi-faceted gal—an anti-hero in some ways—that I want to be sure I take time to get her right, plus integrate all the historical details properly.

Q: Do you have a question you would like our blog readers to answer?

I'd just love to know what you think about books with married main characters, and what the benefits/drawbacks of those might be. Since that's all I've written so far, I'd like your input (I have thought about writing YA or NA).

Heather has graciously agreed to give away an ecopy of her wonderful book to one lucky commenter. Please leave your email when you reply to be entered.

Author Bio:
Heather Day Gilbert enjoys writing stories about authentic, believable marriages. Sixteen years of marriage to her sweet Yankee husband have given her some perspective, as well as ten years spent homeschooling. Heather regularly posts on Novel Rocket about self-publishing.

You can find Heather at her website, Heather Day Gilbert—Author, and at her Facebook Author Page, as well as Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Goodreads. Her Viking novel, God's Daughter, is an Amazon bestseller. You can find it on Amazon and Smashwords.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Viking Week! God's Daughter by Heather Day Gilbert: review and giveaway

Has this long winter got you feeling like you've moved to Iceland, minus the volcanoes? It has for me. Here in upstate NY we have small glaciers in our back yards, and the reindeer are being rounded up for our monthly trek to the store. Well, maybe not literally. But it is starting to feel like it.

As they say, when in Reykjavik, do as the . . . . oh, wait. That's Rome. But as long as you've come for Viking week, pull up a fur and a cup of grog, and warm yourself by the fire. I have a story to review that I think you are going to love!

God's Daughter by Heather Day Gilbert.

This is not your mama's bonnet and buggy romance. This is a story in which heroines wear axes and know how to use them, where wolves--not diamonds--are a girl's best friend, and when men were either there to protect or pillage you. A girl had to be on her toes in 1000 AD, a time and place where winter sticks around most of the year and exploration to uncharted lands brings clashes with natives, unknown illnesses, mutiny among a rowdy crew, and rebellion among the slaves you rely on for daily living. And all the while you juggle that, you are caring for a newborn, delivering your sister-in-law's baby, and serving as healer. Not to mention dodging the pagan practices of the day, as you hope and pray you can influence others for the Christian God.

Sound like a good read? It was all that and much more. . .

One Viking woman. One God. One legendary journey to North America.
In the tenth century, when pagan holy women rule the Viking lands, Gudrid turns her back on hertraining as a seeress to embrace Christianity. Clinging to her faith, she joins her husband, Finn, on a voyage to North America.
But even as Gudrid faces down murderous crewmen, raging sickness, and hostile natives, she realizes her greatest enemy is herself—and the secrets she hides might just tear her marriage apart.
Almost five centuries before Columbus, Viking women sailed to North America with their husbands.God’s Daughter, Book One in the Vikings of the New World Saga, offers an expansive yet intimate look into the world of Gudrid Thorbjarnardottir—daughter-in-law of Eirik the Red, and the firstdocumented European woman to have a child in North America.

My review:
I've read dozens of inspirational titles in the last five years, and have loved a few, and enjoyed many more. What I value about any book is a fresh, original voice, learning a new history or setting, and falling in love with the characters. This book had it all.
Gudrid is a heroine in the true sense of the word, and her admirable strength and compassion in the face of powerful adversity and danger impressed me. But what will stay with me for a long time is her bared soul. As handy as she is with her Icelandic seax weapon and her ability to stand up against barbaric Viking men, what made me love her was her bared soul. She is a wonderful contradiction of strength and vulnerability, of morality and human weakness, of pain and healing. It was a pleasure to see how each of her longings and conflicts were resolved.
The author, who was new to me, had a lovely, "invisible" voice, meaning her vivid story world emerged in all five senses, while her intrusion in the story faded to nonexistence. The conflicts, tastes, longings, and experiences of each character were palpable, and told in first person present point of view, which added to the immediacy of the dangers, challenges, and hopes which move the story forward.
Likewise, the story delivered a powerful journey back in time to a thrilling time in history. I enjoyed learning about Norse custom and beliefs, particularly at a time when Christianity's influence challenged practices such as human sacrifice, rape and pillaging. The setting felt convincing, and in every way enhanced the page-turning plot.
I am eager to see the next installment of this series, and consider my week reading this book time very well spent.

As thanks for coming to our hearty Viking longhouse party, I am giving away my gently loved print copy of God's Daughter to one lucky commenter. Leave your name and email addy and I will select a winner on Saturday, March 8.

Stay tuned as on Wednesday, I will post an interview with Heather Day Gilbert and she will be offering an ecopy of God's Daughter to another winner, also to be drawn on Saturday.

Heather Day Gilbert writes character-driven novels that go beyond the vows, capturing the triumphs and heartaches unique to married couples. A graduate of Bob Jones University, she’s been married to her sweet Yankee husband for over sixteen years. After ten years of homeschooling and six years of writing, she really doesn’t have many hobbies. Born and raised in the West Virginia mountains, she believes that bittersweet, generational stories are in her blood.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Interview with Marji Laine and new serial romance A Dozen Apologies, with giveaway links

Welcome Marji! We are so happy to have you here this week, and that you have agreed to share a bit about yourself.

Q: First of all, hot cocoa, warmed mulled cider, or cappuccino?   ;)
Oh that’s easy! Hot chocolate with a little dollop of whipped cream and sprinkled with cinnamon. Mmmm!

Q: What causes are you passionate about, and do they find their way into your writing?
That’s a toughie. It’s not that I don’t have opinions, I do. But I’m a peacemaker. The only thing I’m truly passionate about is sharing the truth and love and grace of the Lord. And, YES, that finds its way into my writing quite a lot!

Q: When did you first know you were a writer?
I’ve dabbled for decades. Started a screenplay when I was 7. Lol! About three years ago, my mom challenged me with the question of what I would do if time and money weren’t an issue. I said, “Write!” without hesitation. I actually surprised myself because I had a strong scrap booking home-business. I didn’t surprise my mom, though. Even my sweet hubby encouraged me to focus my efforts on writing and eliminate as many interruptions as possible. Not an easy thing for a home-schooling mom of 4 to do, but writing became my fulltime career and I haven’t regretted it for a moment.

Q: If you could sit down and interview any person, fictitious or real from any time, who would that be and what is the first question you would ask?
Mara--main character
So many choices! I’d love to sit and chat with Laura Bush, Angela Lansbury, or Cleopatra. But if I have to ask a specific question … I think I’d like to chat with the main character in this collaborative novella with which I’m involved. I can’t imagine what she expected when she set out to apologize to all of the men she humiliated. But it’s easy to see from the picture why the men fell for her like they did.

Q: Who have been your mentors, and how did they help you most?
Lena Nelson Dooley has been so helpful to me. Not only has she helped me wade through the waters of this publishing realm, but she even encouraged me to pitch to my agent. I don’t think I would have been brave enough without her. Another couple of critique partners who have always been spot-on with their suggestions are Lynne Gentry and Kellie Coates Gilbert.

Q:  What do you hope your readers will take away from your books? And can you hint at any works to come?
In my books, I want my readers to find a character who lives out the faith she professes. Mara has an extraordinary experience in the first chapter of A Dozen Apologies that sets up the entire book based on her dedication to follow the Lord’s leading.

Q: Do you have a question you would like our blog readers to answer?
Yes! This story deals with a lady who is willing to take up almost any job she can find. Some of them are quite humorous. What’s the craziest job you ever had or the weirdest thing you ever did on a job?
Thank you for being with us this week. I wish you every blessing as you write for His glory!

Thanks so much, Kathleen! I’m really excited about A Dozen Apologies. It is a unique novella in several ways. First, the chapters are being posted, one per weekday, on the Write Integrity Press blog And the postings started TODAY! Second, there are 12 different authors for this one story, but the transitions are seamless. Third, after the first 13 chapters are posted, the readers have to decide the ending of the book. Each chapter has a different hero. The most favorite hero gets the girl.

And finally, once the ending is determined, the last chapter will only be available in the Kindle book itself. BUT, that book will be FREE for Valentine’s Day and the two days following, so everyone can enjoy the whole story.

You can find me at, on Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Google+.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

A Book that Read Me! God's Provision in Tough Times by Cynthia Howerter and LaTan Murphy--With #Giveaway

This 25 story collection was a gift to me by one if its contributors, Carrie Fancett Pagels. My review in no way reflects any obligation on my part to say something nice, or drum up promotion for it. I read this from cover to cover because it read me--my life situation needed the exact encouragement and faith that this collection of true stories of God's miraculous ways provides.

Being without work now for 10 months, my family has recently even lost our extended unemployment benefits. We've been waiting for over a month to hear back on a second interview, and our emotions have run high as we wait for something to break in our circumstance. We are people of faith, and we believe that God can make a way where there seems to be no way. And that is exactly what each of these stories is about--God opening up His abundant storehouse through unexpected and often miraculous ways. One author tells of unclaimed money they didn't know they were owed. Another tells of a phone number to a job connection that mysteriously appeared where it shouldn't have. Still another received an inheritance that had been tied up for years in court--exactly when they needed it most.

I loved the transparent and humble contribution by Cecil Stokes, the award-winning, uber-successful producer of Christian film and TV including October Baby. His pain, his soul-searching, his utter dependence on God for a few years as he trusted in God's leading, ultimately led to the pinnacle of his career so far. I related to so many of the different stories, sympathized with them all. Carrie Pagels talked about how her physical health led her and her family on a four state move within a year, and how the Lord finally brought them to their personal promised land. Cynthia's ongoing story shared through out the book in chapters was perhaps my favorite, as she challenged me to dare to believe not for just any job, but the right job. And to expect the Lord to meet our needs along the way.

All of these true stories blessed me as I waited on God, and read, and prayed over my own situation. Each of the authors' personal experiences gave me courage to keep believing, to keep trusting in a God that seemed to take away, but who also blesses and gives. For instance, this past week, we had finally run out of all of our money. My husband decided to organize our bills and paperwork and pray over each one. Hidden in the middle of the piles and stacks was a check we had never seen. It gave us enough to get by on, like manna--our daily provision.

Then, my husband received a call out of the blue yesterday to come to a training today--a Saturday. He is there as I type this, potentially starting a new job. He had to give up celebrating our son's birthday party, but we are hopeful, expectant. The faith that was stirred reading these testimonies of God's faithfulness played a role in our own breakthrough. Thank you Cynthia Howerter and LaTan Murphy, and especially to Carrie Pagels, for providing a copy to read, relish and review.

God is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we could ask, think or imagine. . . Let this collection build up your expectation for your own miracle.

Carrie Pagels has graciously offered to give away a copy of this book to one commenter. Please leave your email addy below if you wish to be entered. Drawing to be announced Wednesday, Jan 22 at 8 PM Eastern