Friday, October 20, 2017

New Releases in #InspirationalFiction


October 2017 New Releases 

 More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.


Contemporary Romance:


The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner -- Becoming a Christian is the best and worst thing that has ever happened to Sarah Hollenbeck. Best because, well, that's obvious. Worst because, up to this point, she's made her very comfortable living as a well-known, bestselling author of steamy romance novels that would leave the members of her new church blushing. Now Sarah is trying to reconcile her past with the future she's chosen. She's still under contract with her publisher and on the hook with her enormous fan base for the kind of book she's not sure she can write anymore. She's beginning to think that the church might frown on her tithing on royalties from a "scandalous" book. And the fact that she's falling in love with her pastor doesn't make things any easier. (Contemporary Romance from Revell - A Division of Baker Publishing
Group)


A Waltz for Amber by Kimberly Rose Johnson -- Amber, a struggling dance teacher, is desperate to make a success of her studio. The quickly approaching Christmas recital should help except for one problem—the high school music teacher scheduled the holiday program on the same night, causing a conflict for her students. Will she be able to sustain her business or will she lose everything in the pursuit of her dream? Chris is thrilled to be back in his hometown. However, his past won’t stay in the past, and the pretty dance instructor is a constant reminder of his failings. He wants to make up for his youthful mistake directed at her, but how? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)


  Secret Christmas Twins by Lee Tobin McClain -- Christmas came early for Erica Lindholm! Suddenly a mom to adorable twin baby boys and part owner of a snowy small-town Pennsylvania farm, Erica is living her dream. Until the boys' estranged uncle, Jason Stephanidis, comes home to celebrate the holidays. The handsome, brooding detective turns out to be a natural with the babies...and with Erica's wounded heart. But if Jason knew the truth about their identities, her picture-perfect life could melt away. Will Erica's secret cost her everything? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

  Fall Into Romance by Melanie D. Snitker Surround yourself in the romance of the autumn season with 10 heartwarming, sweet novellas from USA Today, national bestselling, and award-winning authors. Each story takes you inside the heart of a small town—its people—and features adorable animal friends in need of a forever home. Take a trip to Romance, Oregon, where falling in love has never been easier and happily-ever-after is guaranteed! (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)



A Texas Holiday Reunion by Shannon Taylor Vannatter -- With her foreman out of commission, Resa McCall needs horse trainer Colson Kincaid to run her family ranch through the holidays. But having the handsome single dad back in Bandera, Texas, is unsettling. Colson broke Resa's heart years ago, and she can't risk getting close again. Still, working with him and bonding with his sweet little girl is making the ranch feel merry and bright. Being at Resa's side stirs up emotions Colson thought were long gone. But he has a powerful secret that could keep them apart forever. Can Colson give Resa the one Christmas present that might finally bring them back together—the truth? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Gift of Christmas Past by Cindy Woodsmall and Erin Woodsmall -- Arson wasn't the only fire that ignited between them. Promises shattered. Lies spoken. She was arrested. He returned to the safety of his wealthy parents. Almost ten years later, Hadley and Monroe are both specialists in the field of speech therapy. They meet again . . . thrown together to help a four-year-old-girl rendered mute after being rescued from a fire. Years of secrets and anger beg to be set free as Hadley and Monroe try to push aside past hurts and find common ground in order to help the traumatized child and her family. Can the love of Christmas past drift into the present, bringing healing and hope for all? (Contemporary Romance from Woodsmall Press)


General Contemporary (includes Women's Fiction):


Piper's Passion by Lee Carver -- Piper Jordan, an American reared in Brazil, had her pilot’s license before she could drive and her aviation maintenance certificate before her business degree. Pulled between two countries, two career paths, and separated parents, she strives to determine what is significant and what to do with her life. Kyle Chamberlain, pilot with Outreach for Christ, wears a wedding ring that says he’s not ready to date again after Rosanna’s death. Wielding a wrench with the cutest pilot/mechanic he’s ever seen turns his head. But would a dynamic woman with her talents and eventual inheritance accept his missionary life in the Amazon? (Contemporary Women's Fiction, Independently Published)

Grace in Strange Disguise by Christine Dillon -- Physiotherapist Esther Macdonald is living the Australian dream, and it doesn’t surprise her. After all, her father has always said, “Follow Jesus and be blessed.” But at twenty-eight, her world shatters. Everyone assures her God will come through for her, but what happens when he doesn’t? Has she offended God? Is her faith too small? So many conflicting explanations. Will finding the truth cost her the people closest to her heart? (General Contemporary, Independently Published)

Historical:


Lady Jayne Disappears by Joanna Davidson Politano -- When Aurelie Harcourt's father dies in debtor's prison, he leaves her just two things: his wealthy family, whom she has never met, and his famous pen name, Nathaniel Droll. Her new family greets her with apathy and even resentment. Only the quiet houseguest, Silas Rotherham, welcomes her company. When Aurelie decides to complete her father's unfinished serial novel, writing the family into the story as unflattering characters, she must keep her identity as Nathaniel Droll hidden while searching for the truth about her mother's disappearance--and perhaps even her father's death. (Historical from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

The Other Side of Freedom by Cynthia T Toney -- In 1925, a thirteen-year-old boy witnesses a crime—the murder of a family friend—and must choose whether to remain silent as his father asks or defy mobsters and corrupt police to save his family. (Historical from Write Integrity Press)




Historical Romance:


Christmas at Carnton by Tamera Alexander -- In the midst of war and the fading dream of the Confederacy, a wounded soldier and a destitute widow discover the true meaning of Christmas, the cost of love . . . and of loving again. (Historical Romance from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)




The Captive Brides Collection by Jennifer AlLee, Angela Breidenbach, Susan Page Davis, Darlene Franklin, Patty Smith Hall, Cynthia Hickey, Carrie Fancett Pagels, Lucy Thompson, and Gina Welborn -- Journey along as nine historical women are about to make their escape from some of life’s greatest challenges. Can their captive hearts be freed to dream, to dare, to love? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)



A Mountain Christmas Romance by Misty M. Beller -- Stripped of the family so important to his Viking heritage, Matthias Bjork is now on the hunt for his sister. Despite combing the entire Wyoming Territory, he hasn’t found any substantial leads regarding his sister’s whereabouts, but he has discovered a most unusual woman. Opal Boyd has finally found the haven she’s longed for all her life, in a most unlikely place—working for a German couple in this remote Wyoming mountain town. She learned long ago that most men couldn’t be trusted, but when a mountain man stops in the boarding house where she works, he seems to have the respect and affection of the two people she’s learned to trust implicitly. But when Matthias’ search for his sister takes an unexpected twist, Opal is forced to make a choice that will alter the course of her life—no matter which answer she chooses. When Matthias’ decisions land Opal in danger, what must he sacrifice to rescue her? (Historical Romance, ACFW Qualified Independently Published)


Fool’s Notion by Lisa J. Flickinger -- Feisty Alda Lealand braves fifteen hundred miles with a pack string of mules—and the help of an unexpected cowboy--to save the family farm. (Historical Romance from Forget Me Not Romances [Winged Publications])




Playing by Heart by Carmela A. Martino -- Emilia Salvini dreams of marrying a man who loves music as she does. But in 18th-century Milan, being the “second sister” means she’ll likely be sent to a convent instead. Ironically, Emilia’s pious older sister, Maria, would gladly become a nun. But Father won’t allow it—her brilliant language skills are too important to his quest for noble status. Emilia’s only hope is to prove her musical talents are as indispensable as her sister’s skills. First, though, Emilia must win over her music tutor, who disdains her simply for being a girl. Before she can carry out her plan, though, Emilia's mother dies in childbirth. In her sorrow, Emilia composes a heartrending sonata that causes the maestro to finally recognize her talent. He begins teaching her music theory alongside handsome violinist Antonio Bellini, the great-nephew of a wealthy marquis. The two begin as rivals, but Emilia gradually falls in love with him. (Historical Romance from Vinspire Publishing)

Historical Western:
Too Far Down by Mary Connealy -- A citified mine operator and a tough western cowgirl are the most unlikely couple of all as they team up to fight the outlaws that want the Cimarron Ranch. (Historical Western from Bethany House [Baker])





Romantic Suspense:


Dangerous Ground by Gayla K. Hiss -- Deputy Marshal Kate Phillips comes to the Great Smoky Mountains in search of answers concerning her uncle’s suspicious death, and finds herself in the middle of an ancient family feud and a land dispute with handsome first responder, David Jennings. (Romantic Suspense from Mountain Brook Ink)



Christmas Captive by Liz Johnson -- On his cousin's Christmas cruise wedding, navy SEAL Jordan Somerton anticipated having the typical best man duties—not facing down criminals boarding the ship. But when the luxury liner is infiltrated by men determined to kidnap the flower girl, he's plunged into an unexpected mission. Maid of honor and DEA agent Amy Delgado hasn't forgiven Jordan for a misunderstanding in their pasts. But with her young niece targeted, she must draw on Jordan's skills as a protector. Signs point to an inside job. With a traitor in their midst, can they ensure that every passenger returns home safely for the holidays…even as they find love amid deepening danger? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])


Speculative:


Transfusion by Victoria Buck -- The world's first transhuman must save the world, or save the woman he loves. (Speculative from Harbourlight Books [Pelican])





Suspense:


Kill Zone by Rick Acker, Christy Barritt, Patricia Bradley, Braxton DeGarmo, Luana Ehrlich, Heather Day Gilbert, Heather I. James, Robert Liparulo, Jordyn Redwood, and Jan Thompson -- Espionage, hacking, police procedural, international crime and intrigue, covert action, spy, secret police, revenge, snipers...and so much more! Ten brand-new, never-before published novellas of suspense, intrigue, and thrills from ten bestselling Christian thriller authors, all packed into this one anthology. (Suspense from Georgia Press LLC)

Monday, October 16, 2017

Happy 5th Blog Year!

Anne here.
It's been 5 years and 1233 blogposts since Jaime and I first launched this blog!!
There has been fiction, laughter, tears, faith, inspiration...and lots of COFFEE!!


We want to humbly thank you all, especially Erica and Gabrielle, for joining us here for the last five years. Erica joined us in November on 2014, and Gabrielle in March of 2015. It is a joy to share this space with you all.

When Jaime and I sat at the Blue Spoon Coffee Shop and brainstormed this blog world, we wanted it to feel like a welcome place around a coffee table, talking about life. Looking back, it's hard to believe:

We've done book reports on over 106 books. Wow. That's a lot!
We've done over 69 author interviews!
We've launched at least 10 new titles between the four of us!

Our first week five years ago, we invited everyone to our "virtual coffee shop" to get to know one another and chat about coffee, fiction, history, and faith.

In the beginning we took turns obsessing over coffee on Coffee Thursday before Jaime introduced a TBT feature for a while since we are history geeks who love yesteryear. We dreamed about our stories and shared our writing processes, our conferences, and introduced amazing authors. Over 25 devotionals morphed into a "Monday's Devo" piece that has featured over 46 additional devotionals. Book Reports transformed to Author Interviews as we got busier with our own writing. We've shared research trips, Erica's museum hops, and Gabrielle's history obsessions. We've shared our lives as writers, moms, wives, homeschool educators, and professionals--sharing our faith journeys through childbirth, miscarriages, birthdays, graduations, anniversaries, college years, weddings, and empty-nesting. Some weeks we feel like we've struck proverbial word-gold with our posts. Other weeks we just feel like its a pile of word-pieces that fall flat on the page of a cyber world of deaf ears. But as writers do, we keep hitting the key board in faith that some good will pour forth.

And best of all, we've shared all this with you, our readers--who've faithfully commented, lurked, prayed, read, and shared lives with us as well. How humbling. You've all made these times over this virtual coffee table....just plain sacred and fun!

We love you and thank you all!
Here's to the next leg of this journey!

Happy 5th birthday CoffeeCups&Camisoles!!
Jaime, Anne, Erica, & Gabrielle
-------------
Blog post by Anne Love-
Writer of Historical Romance inspired by her family roots. 
Nurse Practitioner by day. 
Wife, mother, writer by night. 
Coffee drinker--any time.
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Friday, October 13, 2017

Writing a Spin Off

Erica Here:

Last week I turned in the edits for Prescription for Love, part of the First Love Forever Novella Collection coming out in 2018.


The hero of the story, Phin Mackenzie, is a character I created almost a decade ago. He featured in my book: Light To My Path, the second in the Colorado Dawn series.


Phin was a child, an orphan, and an expert pick-pocket. He was street-smart, cocky, and craving a family and stability. He had a huge chip on his shoulder, and he had a huge capacity to love and care for others.

When I created him way back then, I had a few fleeing thoughts as to how he might've turned out as an adult, what might've happened to him once he got the love and stability that he needed in his life, but...other stories intervened, other deadlines, other characters.

And, I'd never written a spin-off before. Not really. I'd written books in a series. All my stories written for Heartsong Presents are three book series. The North Star Brides trilogy is about three brothers living in Duluth in 1905 and centers around Great Lakes Shipping. The Idaho Brides trilogy is about three cowboy brothers living in Southwest Idaho. And Colorado Dawn is three stories set in a fictional mining town high in the Rockies. Each series had settings and characters in common.

But a spin off novella would be different. When I was approached about writing for the First Loves Forever collection, for some reason, Phin popped into my head first thing. Here was my opportunity to explore what had happened to that stubborn, fiercely-protective, loyal little kid.

The setting would be different. Phin would be a grown man. He would have become a doctor (as someone in Light to my Path had suggested.) And he would need to have a woman from his past come knocking on his door. (Because that was the theme of the collection. Reunion romances.)



So, pretty much everything in the story would be brand new, except Phin and his back-story. Only one other character from Light to my Path appears in the new story, though some are referenced to give the reader a peek into what happened to them in the intervening years.

After deciding these few things, the next task was to read. To read Light to my Path. After all, it has been a decade almost since I wrote it, and I would need to refresh my memory as to the details, to reacquaint myself with Phin and his back story.

I was reminded again of Phin's loyalty, his intelligence, and his fear of abandonment. All of these things helped make him the perfect hero for a reunion romance, since having he heart broken by the woman he loved would call into doubt all the things he valued most. And having her come crashing back into his life would cause the protective walls he'd erected around his heart and life to shake.

All in all, I really enjoyed taking a child from a previous story and 'growing him up.' Having a glimpse into his past to mold his future self.

And I'm looking forward to trying another spin-off if I get the chance!

How about you? Do you like a good spin-off story? Do you enjoy when an author takes a kid from a previous book and writes a story of them as an adult?



ERICA VETSCH can’t get enough of history, whether it’s reading, writing, or visiting historical sites. She’s currently writing another historical romance and plotting which history museum to conquer next! You can find her online at www.ericavetsch.com and on her Facebook Page where she spends WAY TOO MUCH TIME! www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/  

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Ten Qualities Every Fictional Hero Should Have

Erica here: How about those fictional heroes???



Heroes. One of the many reasons we love to read romances. Those dashing heroes! But what is it about them that we love? Is there something that they have in common that makes them appealing? This is something that's been rolling around in my head for awhile, and here is my (Non-exhaustive!) list, along with some of the templates that have inspired some of the heroes I've created.

1. A Sense of Humor. For me, a hero has to have a sense of humor, even if it's buried deeply or he's reluctant to show it. Wry, witty, dry, light-hearted, it doesn't matter the type, but it has to be there. He has to be able to laugh at the absurdities of life.


Ben Wilder - The Cactus Creek Challenge
Ben is probably the most lighthearted hero
I've ever written. He loves a good joke, and he can
see the humor in just about any situation. He even
takes an exploding outhouse and a tea party in
the jail in his stride.

2. A Purpose. To be a hero, a man has to want something, has to have a reason for existing. He can't just aimlessly wander through life letting stuff happen. He has to make things happen.

Branch Kilborn - Guard Your Heart7 Brides for 7 Texas Rangers
(Coming early 2018!)
Branch is all about being a Texas Ranger.
It's what gets him up in the morning, and it's
what drives him, even when others
might quit.
3. A Code. A fictional hero has to have a code of conduct that he believes in and that governs his life. As a reader, you don't have to agree with every aspect of this code, but it has to be there. He has to know right from wrong, and this code has to provide some of the conflict in his life. Things he wants to do but can't, because it would be wrong...things he wants to prevent or avenge, too. And things he must do because they are right, even if...or especially if...it costs him something in the end.

Bear - A Bride for Bear
The Convenient Bride Collection

Bear has to take in three little girls,
because to do otherwise would violate his
personal code...but doing it will cost
him his freedom.

4. Integrity. A true hero has integrity. He does the right thing, even when no one is watching. He is honest in his dealings with others, and he is honest with his emotions. Not manipulative, not scheming, not devious.

Elias Parker - His Prairie Sweetheart
Elias looks out for the new schoolmarm,
even though he knows she is unsuitable for
the job, and that if he doesn't help her, she
will return whence she came all the sooner.
5. Ability. A true hero is good at something, and usually in a way that no one else is. He has a special talent or personality trait that makes him stand out from the rest of the cast. This can be a unique occupation, or it might be something like his relentless pursuit of justice.

Max Kirkland - The Archaeologist's Find
The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection

Max is an Egyptologist, tops in his field. He's
tasked with curating the new exhibit for the
tomb he discovered in Egypt. He's the only
man for the job. 
6. Compassion. A true hero has a soft heart buried somewhere within his broad chest. Something gets to him, whether it's children, animals, the poor, or someone who is in a bad place where he's been himself. He can't be an emotional thesaurus in blue-jeans, because that's not how men are made, but he also can't be an emotional blank slate. He has to feel, and he has to feel compassion in order to be truly heroic.

Thomas Beaufort - The Bounty Hunter's Baby
Turns out Thomas is a sucker for a newborn.
And I'm a sucker for a big, strong man
holding a newborn! Swoon!

7. Appeal. Our heroes don't have to be handsome...though it is helpful if the heroine finds him so...but there has to be something appealing about them. It might be their gruff voice, or the green flecks in their blue eyes, or the way they always hold a door open for a lady. Nobody wants to read a romantic story about a man with bad teeth, a mean streak, or who is lazy. Make him desirable!

Oscar Rabb - A Child's Christmas Wish
(Coming out next month!!!!)
Oscar's obvious love for his daughter, his
devotion to his dead wife, and his strong, steady
personality are all appealing! Not to mention,
he's...dreamy!


8. A Good Weakness. Heroes need to have weaknesses that the heroine can see and feel a desire to help him with. A personality trait that she can help balance out. This is something that, if taken to an extreme, can prove to be the hero's Achilles heel.

Gard Kennedy - Win, Place, or Show
Of Rags and Riches Collection

Gard is a horseman, and he puts the needs
of his horses above his own. He needs
someone to show him that a love of horses
and a love of a good woman aren't
mutually exclusive.


9. A Bad Weakness. Heroes cannot be perfect. They cannot be the very embodiment of Prince Charming with no flaws, no lies they believe, no weaknesses that trip them up. That kind of hero is so...very...boring! The reader has to be able to identify with the hero, with his flaw, and how he (and the heroine) work to overcome it.

Bowie Hart - Love at Last
7 Brides for 7 Texans

Bowie was wounded and captured at
Gettsyburg, and he believes both his
disfigurement and incarceration made
him unworthy of the love and esteem of
others. His pride and self belief trip him up,
and he needs the love of a good woman
and his brothers to prove him wrong.

10. A Need. Heroes can be capable, but they can't be entirely self-sufficient. They have to need the heroine in their life. This can take a lot of forms, whether they have a concrete need of her to do something for them, or whether they have an emotional need of someone to love and protect, someone to love them. Or it can be both! In fact, it makes for a better story if it's both!

Elliot Ryder - My Heart Belongs in
Fort Bliss, Texas

Elliot is compiling a journal on
medicinal medicines of Native
Americans, and he needs someone to
provide illustrations. That's where the heroine
comes in. He also needs someone to help
him raise the twins he's inherited. That's ALSO
where the heroine comes in.


These are a few of the qualities that I believe all great fictional romance heroes possess...what do you think? What would you add to the list?

ERICA VETSCH can’t get enough of history, whether it’s reading, writing, or visiting historical sites. She’s currently writing another historical romance and plotting which history museum to conquer next! You can find her online at www.ericavetsch.com and on her Facebook Page where she spends WAY TOO MUCH TIME! www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/  


Monday, October 9, 2017

Rest vs. Control

Erica here:

A couple weeks ago, my husband and I attended a concert put on by Matthew Smith from Indelible Grace. Indelible Grace is a community of musicians from Nashville who write new music to centuries old hymns. The concert was great, and I was challenged by singing the familiar words in an unfamiliar setting. Isn't it interesting how doing the same-old, same-old can desensitize us. We can sing Amazing Grace without really focusing on the power and truth of the words.


But while the concert was refreshing and reviving, it was something Matthew said that really sent a shaft to my heart. He said that for a long time, he had been striving to find rest. To be still. To be quiet.

After all, rest is a Biblical principle and promise:


Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.



Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him: fret not thyself because of him who prospereth in his way, because of the man who bringeth wicked devices to pass.



Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth.

But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.



But Matthew Smith confessed, and my heart confessed right along with him, that what he wanted when he said he wanted rest, was in fact....

Control.


Rest could only happen when everything was under control. My control. Then I could be still, then I could be quiet. Then I could rest.

How deluded has my heart been? If I am striving for control, then I am not trusting that God is in control, or that His control has my best interests at heart. If I cannot rest knowing God is in control, then my faith in His ability is small, and I am attempting to put myself behind the wheel.

There is no rest there. True rest only comes when I bring all those cares and concerns to Jesus, give them over into his care, keeping, and control, and accept the gift of rest that he offers. Rest cannot be found elsewhere. Only in Jesus.

To learn more about Matthew Smith and Indelible Grace, visit http://www.igracemusic.com/



Quiet Hymns is the outpouring of Matthew's struggle to receive that rest from the Lord. You can learn more about the album by using the link below.





ERICA VETSCH can’t get enough of history, whether it’s reading, writing, or visiting historical sites. She’s currently writing another historical romance and plotting which history museum to conquer next! You can find her online at www.ericavetsch.com and on her Facebook Page where she spends WAY TOO MUCH  TIME! www.facebook.com/EricaVetschAuthor/  

Friday, October 6, 2017

Mrs. Oswald Chambers - The Woman Behind the Devotional

I (Jaime) have to say, in full admission, I'm not a huge reader of non-fiction. But Oswald Chambers greatly impacted my life. When I was graduating, an older woman in my church gifted me a copy of My Utmost for His Highest. While vintage in nature, it peeked my interest primarily for the depth in the short daily devotionals. And Chambers pulled no punches.

Confession: I always wondered what type of woman would be married to man like that.

Now I shall find out!

Join me today as I welcome a dear friend and agency-mate, Michelle Ule, who is the author of the latest book Mrs. Oswald Chambers.




__________________________________________________--


Thank you so much for visiting us today here at the CCC blog! Can you tell us about your latest release and what inspired you to write the story?

My latest release is a biography called Mrs. Oswald Chambers: The Woman Behind the World’s Bestselling Devotional.

(That devotional, by the way, is My Utmost for His Highest).

I became interested in Biddy Chambers’ life after I wrote a WWI novel that involved Biddy and her husband Oswald as “marquee” characters—real people who appeared as themselves in a novel.

That book hasn’t been sold yet, but over the course of my research, I realized what an interesting character Biddy was (not to mention she stole a couple scenes and changed several plot points) and wondered why no one had ever written about her.

As my 8th grade history teacher said, “real life is often more incredible than fiction and true to boot.” Biddy’s life story had many challenges and twists and made for a fascinating tale.

Tell us about the setting of the story and why you chose that particular spot/area/region:

I didn’t have any choice in a biography, of course, but other than two trips to America and World War I in a YMCA camp in Egypt, Biddy lived her whole life near London, 1883-1966.

We’re currently acknowledging the 100th anniversary of the awful “Great War,” and there are many political parallels with modern life. It’s also a time period that set up the world for World War II (which had a marked effect on Biddy’s life) and present day Christianity.

Most people don’t know that Oswald Chambers basically led a revival among Australian and New Zealand troops during WWI, and that all of his books were published after his death. Biddy was left a penniless widow with a toddler in Egypt during a world war—a place dangerous with illness, insects and bad water in a time before antibiotics were invested.

When she returned to England in 1919, she chose following God over security and founded her own boutique publishing house 80 years before self-publishing became popular.

From her sacrifices came 30 books which have influenced Christianity up to today, including the devotional My Utmost for His Highest, which has never been out of print in 90 years.

 What is the primary spiritual theme of your book?

The major theme of Mrs. Oswald Chambers is how choosing to follow God’s will despite logic or even common sense can result in a contented life lived to God’s utmost glory. It’s about how God uses what Oswald called “haphazard” experiences to produce astonishing results that benefit the Kingdom of God. It’s also about a woman’s conviction that God never makes mistakes, which provides an encouraging example to all of us.
  
How did you determine what names to give your characters?

The original title of this biography was Beloved Disciple, because that’s the nickname Oswald Chambers gave Gertrude Annie Hobbs when he met her. His favorite sister was named Gertrude and he needed to differentiate them in his mind. He’d obviously seen Gertrude Hobbs’ commitment to God.

Beloved Disciple obviously is a mouthful, so he quickly shortened it to B. D. which morphed to Biddy and that’s what everyone called her for the rest of her life!

Which sub-character is your favorite and why?

The major secondary character in Mrs. Oswald Chambers was her only child, Kathleen. Every mother knows that a child changes how your life runs and what your focus needs to be, at least when they are young.

Within her busy life—she ran a Bible Training College with Oswald right after their marriage until they were to Egypt with the YMCA—it was easy for her to leave the child tending to well-meaning friends. Oswald and others challenged her that only she could be Kathleen’s mother.

That sat in her heart and was the impetus to several unlikely decisions she made over the course of her life—and ultimately led to the writing of My Utmost for His Highest.

Most of what we know about Biddy and Oswald’s life together comes through their opinionated daughter who sat for a series of interviews when she was 78 years-old!


Is there a back story to your book that helps the reader set the stage before opening to the first page?

The prologue sets the stage for the book—in it Oswald and Biddy enter St. Paul’s Cathedral in London and stop before a famous painting not far from the altar: The Light of the World.

There, Oswald proposed to Biddy by spelling out if she married him, their home would be meager, with their lives “going heart and soul into literary and itinerating work for Him. It will be hard and glorious and arduous.

This scene sparked the question—why would anyone accept such a proposal? Who was she?


Moving on from your story, tell us a little about yourself. We’ll help! What literary character is most like you and why?
 
Like Biddy, I’ve followed a man to unusual places (my husband is a retired naval officer), I’ve been the landlady to close to 20 people not related to us over the years of our marriage. I’m a writer who types fast (Biddy “took down” words in pencil on a pad at 250 words per minute, or twice as fast a normal person speaks), I have smart children and I love God.

Oh, do you mean in the literary world at large?

This was a fun question from that angle. I’ve decided on a mixture of three: Anne Elliot (Persuasion-- because people tell me things all the time), Hermione Granger (Harry Potter stories-- because she can't help herself as knowledge show off) and Rhoda of the Bible (Because she got so caught up in reporting the news, "Peter is here!" She foolishly slammed the door in his face and ran off to announce it!)

My husband, at least, has confirmed Mrs. Bennett is not the answer. There's a relief!


What hobby do you enjoy in your “free” time (‘cause we know you have tons of free time!)

I read a lot, of course, and I love to travel. I’ve been to the location of most of my book (just not Egypt, alas, which probably will never happen now).

Tell us about your pets (if you have some)!

Our 21 year-old Tortoiseshell cat Kali died in the spring and for my husband’s September birthday, we got an adorable Russian blue kitten named Tasha. We haven’t had a kitten since the last century, so this has been exciting. “Hey, sheath those claws!”  J

We talk a lot about faith and how it weaves throughout our fiction, here at the blog. How has your faith affected/or not affected your writing?

My friend Lynn Vincent once said there’s no point in writing a book if it doesn’t nudge a person closer to God. Obviously, my Christian world view is part of every published book I’ve written (which includes five historical novellas), but is even more on display in Mrs. Oswald Chambers—since faith is the center of her life.

This book required an extensive knowledge of Scripture to be able to interpret some of the choices both Oswald and Biddy made in their lives. The final chapter, in particular, took a great deal of prayer and thought of how to write. Biddy’s final challenge involved losing her mind at an advanced age—what does that mean in the context of a life already sacrificed to God?

Ultimately, I came to the basic truth about God—that our relationship to God is not dependent upon our mental status, but is also the result of Jesus’ death on the cross. That’s given me a better understanding of what it means to be a follower and who really is in charge?


Because Jaime has some darker elements to her split-time historical and contemporary romantic suspense coming out this year, she likes to ask weird questions. So, if you were to find yourself stranded in a creepy old house at night, who would you want with you to keep you company?

My husband, of course, were you looking for a literary answer?

How about Pollyanna, who can always think of things to be glad about?  LOL

 Anne, Erica, and Gabrielle both write sweet historical romances. How does romance influence your own writing?

My husband is the hero of every book, of course.  J

Seven of my eight published books (all save Utmost Ongoing, which is a book of essays) have romance as an element. The surprise in Mrs. Oswald Chambers was how romantic Oswald was and the depth of emotion in some of his letters. I occasionally felt like a voyeur . . .

Romance allows a sometimes great play and description of emotions and most people are happy to have the romantic corner of their life reminded, tickled, or touched for good feelings. 

And for some extra fun . . .

If you could pick one superhero to save you from impending doom, who would it be and why?

Mrs. Incredible—because I’ve always respected her stretching abilities, good humor and recognition of what is truly important in the world.  J

If you could guest star in one TV show, what would be and what would your ideal role be?

Poldark . . . a French Huguenot refugee who encourages Demelza and Ross to talk out their differences rather than act them out!  (I’ve read all the books, I can make up my own character—which is what I always did as a child!)

Name one significant heirloom or keepsake you have and why it’s important to you:

My grandmother’s 1900 organ—a gift to her from her grandmother after she was caught too many times entering neighborhood homes when their owners were out, just so she could play.
  
We’d love you have you share a snippet from your novel to entice us and hook us! J Please share something below:

The fog gathered quietly in the moist winter night above London’s Thames River. Born of cold air, the murky cloudiness deepened and thickened as it moved over the water toward land. It crawled up the river banks north and south and cloaked feeble gas street lamps struggling to push back the dark.
As dawn broke and the sun rose, the fog and coal smoke mixture--first called “smog” in 1905--turned yellowish brown with a smoky, acidic smell. For young and old people suffering from inflamed lungs or fragile hearts, the sooty particulates swelled air passages and gripped their chests.
One 1895 winter’s day, the smog wisped through the massive Royal Arsenal walls ten miles east of Big Ben on the Thames River. It drifted by the Royal Army barracks and slipped along Woolwich’s narrows streets to a townhouse set behind a flower garden: # 4 Bowater Crescent.
            The smog’s microscopic particles slid under the door and found twelve year-old Gertrude Annie Hobbs. Her lungs seized into air-sucking spasms.

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Are you all as hooked as I am? I'm going to scoop up a few copies for some special women in life for Christmas presents. This is the type of book that will encourage your faith and inspire you with a strong woman who ended well!

Baker page has all the buying links: http://bakerpublishinggroup.com/books/mrs-oswald-chambers/384330  and here is Amazon: http://amzn.to/2mDPQsF  

Michelle is graciously offering a copy to a blessed winner! (Altho you'll have to wait a bit to receive it as it's not released until October 17th). Enter to win!

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Interview & #Giveaway with Author Amy Sorrells

I'm (Jaime) pleased to host Amy Sorrells today! I love LOVE LOVE introducing you all to new authors and I don't believe you'll be disappoint here at all :) Not to mention, Amy is giving away a copy of her novel too, so don't miss out on that!

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You’ve had a new release! Can you share a little bit about it and how you first hatched the idea for this story?

This story was inspired by the story of King David’s daughter Tamar, whose devastating story is told in II Samuel 13. I had a conversation with God about why, after Tamar was raped by her brother, all the Bible says afterwards is that she “went on to live in desolation.”

I know God doesn’t want broken people to live in desolation, and that He wants—indeed, promises—we can live in joy and freedom. And so, while careful to say I am in no way “adding to the Bible,” I wanted to imagine what Tamar’s life might have been like, if she could experience the freedom and loving-kindness offered by Jesus. I set the story in more modern times to make it more relatable, and that’s how my novel was born.



What special research did you need to do for this novel and did you enjoy it or find it laborious?

I have reams of research I did for this story, yes! In fact, research is probably my favorite part of writing novels.

First of all, I knew nothing about pecans or pecan farming, except that I have always been enamored with the pecan farms we drive past when we vacation along the Alabama gulf coast. So I studied pecan books and farming blogs, watched tons of YouTube videos on pecan farming and cultivating and harvesting, and even befriended a family of pecan farmers in Southwest Alabama. They were graceful enough to read and early version and endorse it for me.

But pecans weren’t the only thing I researched. I had to make sure I had the right makes and models of cars that would be around in 1979; who was on the cover of magazines for scenes at the beauty shop; songs that were popular during that era; clothing; cotillion rules; square dance moves and songs; the oceanic biology of a jubilee; area tornado events and patterns; Hurricaine Frederic details (including phone interviews with area residents), plants and birds and fossils common to the area, and more. I had about five times as many pages of research as I did story by the time it was all said and done. 

What is the primary spiritual theme of your book, and if that’s not applicable, what do you hope readers take away from reading your novel?

The primary spiritual theme of How Sweet the Sound is definitely redemption. In the story, two terribly wounded women choose to react to their pain in two completely opposite ways. One “does everything right” on the outside but remains miserable on the inside. The second woman finds ways to embrace her pain and listen for Abba. The good news is, there’s grace overflowing for both of them, but whether or not they realize that grace determines the positive or negative impact they have on family and friends around them.

Though I didn’t set out for them to be, by the end of the book I realized the Harlan family is everyone’s family. They’re respectable, even admirable on the outside. But behind closed doors, great wounds and secrets fester, running deep and unchanging through generations unwilling to acknowledge the need to change and heal. But like the pecan trees in the Harlan family orchards, eventually the seasons call us to change and grow, and we all can, with Abba’s grace, if we’re willing.

Here’s a synopsis:

Wealth and etiquette can hide a lot of things in the South, as the esteemed Harlan family of sleepy Bay Spring, Alabama, knows. But behind the gentle facade of white pillared porches and acres of cultivated pecan orchards, family secrets smolder.

Young Anniston Harlan cares little for high society and the rigid rules and expectations of her grandmother, Princella. She finds solace working the orchards alongside her father and grandfather, and relief in the cool waters of Mobile Bay.

Anniston’s aunt, Comfort Harlan, has never quite lived up to the family name, or so her mother
Princella’s ever-apparent scowl implies. When she gleefully accepts the proposal of her longtime boyfriend, Solly, a flood tide of tragedy ensues that strips Comfort of her innocence and unleashes generations of family secrets, changing the Harlan family forever.

While Comfort struggles to recover, Anniston discovers an unlikely new friend from the seedy part of town who helps her try to make sense of the chaos. Together, they and the whole town of Bay Spring discover how true love is a risk, but one worth taking.

Moving on from your story, tell us a little about yourself. We’ll help! What literary character is most like you and why?

I’m not sure whether this is good to admit, but I definitely feel most like Scarlett O’Hara. She was brave but broken, did a lot of dumb things but also a lot of heroic things, had a lot of passion that did a lot of good when she focused it on the right things, and she wasn’t afraid to fight for what was right.


What hobby do you enjoy in your “free” time (‘cause we know you have tons of free time!)

I am crazy about DIY projects around the house. In particular, I am head-over-heels about the farmhouse-style craze. I live in the suburbs, but I’ve always longed to live on a farm. Since that’s not a possibility, I decided I can pretend I live on a farm by making the inside look like one. I’m working on our master bathroom right now. It’s been going pretty well, except for the other day when we accidently sawed a hole into the hot water main. (Thankfully, the plumber was scheduled to come the next day.)



Tell us about your pets (if you have some)!

We have three golden retrievers who are absolutely delightful. Zoe, who is 12, and Jaxson and Buddy, who are both six (although from different litters). Somewhere along the line, my husband and I lost our minds and convinced ourselves each of our three sons needed their own dog. Although crazy to outsiders, this has actually turned out to be a blessing. Few things make a disastrous day better than three, eighty-pound creatures thinking and behaving as if you’ve hung the moon just for them.


And for some extra fun . . .


If you could guest star in one TV show, what would be and what would your ideal role be?

I would love to play the role of Laura Ingalls on Little House on the Prairie.

Name one significant heirloom or keepsake you have and why it’s important to you:

I am a packrat, so I have many. But I have to say it is a blue topaz stone cut by my grandfather, who was a hobby lapidarist. The stone is actually featured on the cover of my novel, Then Sings My Soul.



·       Readers can get to all my social media sites, including Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook and twitter, by visiting amyksorrells.com

The following link provides readers with a way to find How Sweet the Sound at all their favorite retailers: https://www.tyndale.com/p/how-sweet-the-sound/9781496426130


AND! Don't forget to enter the giveaway! :)


a Rafflecopter giveaway