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Happy Tuesday to you all. Today I have the pleasure of sharing an interview featuring Australian author, Ian Acheson. Since the names IAN and JAN are so similar, I will highlight IAN’s name in RED.

Hello, Ian. Thanks for joining us today. Let’s begin with a simple question: How long have you been writing and how did you come to it?

IAN: I wrote as a kid but didn’t take it up again until about 15 years ago. I had taken a sabbatical from Corporate life and my wife encouraged me to write that book I’d been talking about writing for the past ten years. So I did.

There had been a series of “God-moments” that had encouraged me to step away from the Corporate world for a season to see if I had a story in me.

JAN: What’s your preferred genre?

IAN: Speculative fiction with a sub-genre of supernatural fiction. My novels explore the thin veil that exists between the natural and supernatural worlds. No, there are not any weird creatures, simply angels and demons from a very traditional Biblical perspective that Frank Peretti brought to life in his “Darkness” series of the late 80s, early 90s.

JAN: Interesting approach. Tell me, why do you write?

IAN: To answer questions the Lord has put on my heart. So with Angelguard, the first in the series of the Angelguard Chronicles, I simply explored the question of how our prayer life can impact heaven. And in the sequel, Wrestling with Shadows (not yet published), I explored how the light and dark exist side-by-side in our lives.

JAN: How and where do you write? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

IAN: I’m definitely a pantser. I’ve tried being a plotter using a few different methods but my characters keep insisting they’ll tell the story and not me.

For Angelguard I was very diligent. Having read Stephen King’s book On Writing, my key takeaway was he wrote 2,000 words a day. So I adopted the same strategy. Incredibly, I generally managed to stick to that discipline when writing the first draft. However, I’ve found since those early days it’s been significantly harder to write so prolifically.

JAN: Yes, there’s this thing called life that interrupts our best laid plans. Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?

IAN: Ideas come from being widely read and keeping up to date with what’s going on in the world. Angelguard is a very global series with scenes in many different countries.

As I mentioned previously, I’m inspired by seeking with God to answer a question. It’s so mind-blowing having the Creator of the universe sitting alongside helping me to explore a question while writing a story.

JAN: That is mind-blowing. It’s something we need to remember as we work. How do you research and how do you know you can trust your sources?

IAN: I mostly use desk research, ie, the internet. But I will use publications like TIME and the like to give me certain insights. I typically will seek multiple sources on a topic so it serves as a form of self-validation.

JAN: What do you like most / least about writing?

IAN: Once again, I enjoy the experience of writing with Jesus. I also love research. I’m a Learner by nature so I am always seeking to learn things. I love hanging out with my characters and discovering more about them through the writing process.

I struggle with the “craft” side of things. The really basic stuff of making sure I use the correct sentence structure, showing not telling, etc.

JAN: We all have our stronger and weaker areas. What are some of the best methods you’ve found for promoting your work?

IAN: I’m not very good at this but the best promotion is, firstly, writing a great story. Secondly, having a tribe of readers that love your story and share it with others. Thirdly, allowing the Lord to guide your efforts. We need to remember He’s the best marketer ever.

JAN: What are your favorite / most effective social media?

IAN: My favourite is Twitter because it feeds my Learner trait and now that it’s 280 characters, yippee! I suspect Instagram is pretty effective at present and definitely one needs to explore both Amazon and Facebook ads.

JAN: How do you balance professional time with personal time?

IAN: This is challenging for everyone. Having a schedule is important, blocking out work vs writing vs personal time.

JAN: What are you currently reading? Do you prefer digital or print?

IAN: I read multiple books simultaneously. I’m presently finishing When Angels Cry by MaryLu Tyndall, which a supernatural-based story. It’s a lot of fun. Then I’m reading a bunch of Christian-living type books by AW Tozer and Heidi Baker, plus I’m teaching myself Lectio Divina Bible reading using Jan Johnson’s excellent “Meeting God in Scripture.”

I will always prefer reading print books but digital are so affordable that when you read as many books as I do you simply must buy ebooks to save money.

JAN: What are some of your favorite things? What makes you unique?

IAN: Like most Aussies, I love sport. These days it’s more about following it rather than playing. Liverpool Football Club have been a passion of mine for over 40 years and continue to bring me great joy and frustration in equal measure. I’m now a grandfather (of Moses) which adds a whole new dimension to life.

I love the theatre and movies, eating out with my wonderful wife, and I actively participate in a couple of ministries at church.

What makes me unique? Well, God has made us all unique. It’s really our entire makeup that brings about the uniqueness not just individual facets.

JAN: Well said, Ian. What keeps you going in your writing career?

IAN: Two things: the Lord keeps challenging me with questions and my characters keep taking me on new adventures.

JAN: How is your faith reflected in your writing?

IAN: Prayer is central to my stories, but most of my non-Christian readers say they skipped those sections. Ha.

JAN: What are some things you learned from your own writing?

IAN: The latest story is always the hardest one to write. Fortunately, some writer friends, one of whom has sold millions of copies of his books, confirm this is the same for them.

Nothing happens if you don’t show up to the keyboard. Don’t wait for inspiration. Something magical happens when you start writing.

Always leave some crumbs from today’s writing to start the next day as it helps motivate you to start writing next day.

JAN: Great writing advice. What is your ultimate writing goal?

IAN: To keep sharing the stories my characters bring to me to write.

JAN: Advice for beginning writer?

IAN: All of the above plus 2 other tidbits:

  • read a lot and write a lot
  • just because you have a story on your heart doesn’t mean anyone (outside of family and friends) should read it. Having judged many writing competitions, I’ve discovered some stories (especially memoir-style ones) need to be written but don’t need to be read by a wide audience. Why? Because the process of writing the story is where the fruit is to be found.

JAN: Interesting observations. Thank you, Ian, for taking the time to visit with me and my readers today. All the best as you continue with your Angelguard series and other writing.

Author Ian Acheson

Ian’s Bio

Ian Acheson is an author and strategy consultant based in Sydney, Australia. Ian’s first novel of speculative fiction, Angelguard was recognised with the 2014 Selah Award for Speculative Fiction. You can find more about Angelguard at Ian’s website, on his author Facebook page and Twitter

 

 

 

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International Christian Fiction – New Releases | March 2018 #giveaways

We have TWO giveaways for our readers in March:

Winning Miss Winthrop by Carolyn Miller

Catherine Winthrop has cried out to God too many times to count. Years ago, the man who stole her heart rejected her–and she’s never recovered. Now tragedy has brought him back into her life. This time it isn’t her heart he’s taking, it’s her home and her family’s good name–and she has no one to share her grief.

Jonathan Carlew’s life may look enviable from the outside–wealthy, handsome, landed–but the mystery surrounding his birth has shadowed his entire life. Now as he ascends to the barony, fresh challenges await, including a scheming mama who wants him to embrace power, even at the cost of losing love. How can he remain the kind, honorable man he strives to be and still meet the demands of his new society responsibilities?

These two broken hearts must decide whether their painful past and bitter present will be all they can share, or if forgiveness can provide a path to freedom for the future.

Set in the sumptuous salons of Bath, Regency England’s royal breeding ground for gossip, Winning Miss Winthrop is the first volume in Carolyn Miller’s new series. Fans of the wholesome and richly drawn first series won’t want to miss this new set of characters.

Giveaway #1 – Winning Miss Winthrop

Carolyn Miller is giving away a print or ebook copy (winner’s choice) of Winning Miss Winthrop. To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post and/or Carolyn’s Wandering Wednesday post on March 14.Receive two entries in the drawing by commenting on both posts. Please specify which giveaways you’re entering in your comment on this post.

Check out Carolyn’s post last Wednesday for more information on the giveaway and Carolyn’s journey in Bath – the English setting for her regency romances.

Available from Amazon.com

Ruhanna’s Flight and other stories by Jeanette O’Hagan

Tales of wonder, romance, adventure – dip into the world of Nardva with this collection of stories.

Ruhanna’s Flight – Ruhanna’s father is coming for a rare visit. In a flurry of excitement, she prepares for his arrival, when suddenly everything goes wrong and her life is in danger.

Ruhanna’s Flight and other stories included stories previously published in a range of anthologies plus never before published. While mostly set in the Southern Hemisphere of Nardva, it ranges across the ages – from early days of the Lonely Isles to the space age. A great introduction to this fantasy world of engaging characters and stirring adventures.

Giveaway #2 – Ruhanna’s Flight

Jeanette O’Hagan is giving away a copy of Ruhanna’s Flight. To enter the giveaway, please leave a comment on this post and/or Jeanette’s upcoming Bookish Tuesday post on March 27. Receive two entries in the drawing by commenting on both posts. Check out Jeanette’s upcoming Bookish Tuesday post on March 27 for more information on the giveaway. Please specify which giveaways you’re entering in your comment on this post.

Available from Amazon.com

The Heart’s Appeal by Jennifer Delamere

Strong-minded and independent Julia Bernay comes to London to study medicine and become a doctor–a profession that has only just opened up to women. She witnesses a serious accident, and through her quick actions saves the life of an ambitious young barrister named Michael Stephenson.

Coming from a family that long ago lost its money and its respectability, Michael Stephenson has achieved what many would have thought was impossible. Hard work and an aptitude for the law have enabled him to rise above his family’s stigma and set him on the path to wealth and recognition. But his well-laid plans are upended when the accident brings Julia into his life.

Michael soon discovers he’s met a woman every bit as stubborn and determined to make her mark on the world as he is. Sparks fly–but will they find common ground?

Available from Amazon.com

The Innkeeper’s Daughter by Michelle Griep

A London officer goes undercover to expose a plot against the Crown

Dover, England, 1808: Officer Alexander Moore goes undercover as a gambling gentleman to expose a high-stakes plot against the king—and he’s a master of disguise, for Johanna Langley believes him to be quite the rogue. . .until she can no longer fight against his unrelenting charm.

All Johanna wants is to keep the family inn afloat, but when the rent and the hearth payment are due at the same time, where will she find the extra funds? If she doesn’t come up with the money, there will be nowhere to go other than the workhouse—where she’ll be separated from her ailing mother and ten-year-old brother.

Alex desperately wants to help Johanna, especially when she confides in him, but his mission—finding and bringing to justice a traitor to the crown—must come first, or they could all end up dead.

Available from Amazon.com

The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel

Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide in her small Minnesota hometown and living with her parents, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.

When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb—a friend from her years in and out of the hospital—reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.

As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.

Available from Amazon.com

Fierian by Ronie Kendig

Abiassa’s people fall. Her Deliverers wait as Poired Dyrth marches unchecked through the Nine Kingdoms. He’s taken the Embers of countless Accelerants. He’s taken Zaethien and Hetaera, the mightiest cities of the Nine. He’s taken the blood of the royal family. Now Dyrth is after Haegan’s power—the Fierian’s power. And after that, he wants the world.

But Dyrth will not take it unopposed. Battered and outnumbered, the remnant of the Nine forge new alliances, make friends of enemies, and prepare to stand against the last great press of evil. In faith, they wait. The Fierian will come.

While war rages without and within, Abiassa’s people face their greatest need. But before the Fierian can fulfill his destiny, he has to defeat the enemy in his own mind.

Available from Amazon.com

The Golden Vial by Thomas Locke

Lady Shona, the newly crowned queen of the realm, is a leader without a throne. Pursued relentlessly by a dark force, her small contingent of loyal followers must make a difficult choice–flee or fight. Determined to save her land from nefarious threats, Lady Shona decides that she must seek out the enemy and attack them head on–a strategy that leads back to the region of the Three Valleys where Hyam was born.

Alas, Hyam has been struck by a mysterious illness that is silently sweeping through the realm. Known as the wasting disease, the sickness has no cure. But there is one shred of hope for Lady Shona and the realm–and it comes in the most unlikely of forms. A young orphan, untested and untrained, could well mean the difference between victory and total defeat.

Thomas Locke concludes his epic trilogy with a gripping tale of courage that will inspire readers to persevere even when all seems lost.

Available from Amazon.com

A Most Noble Heir by Susan Mason

When stable hand Nolan Price learns from his dying mother that he is actually the son of the Earl of Stainsby, his plans for a future with kitchen maid Hannah Burnham are shattered. Once he is officially acknowledged as the earl’s heir, Nolan will be forbidden to marry beneath his station.

Unwilling to give up the girl he loves, he devises a plan to elope–believing that once their marriage is sanctioned by God, Lord Stainsby will be forced to accept their union. However, as Nolan struggles to learn the ways of the aristocracy, he finds himself caught between pleasing Hannah and living up to his father’s demanding expectations.

At every turn, forces work to keep the couple apart, and a solution to remain together seems further and further away. With Nolan’s new life pulling him irrevocably away from the woman he loves, it seems only a miracle will bring them back together.

Available from Amazon.com

Reclaiming Shilo Snow by Mary Weber

She was far more capable than Earth’s leaders had accounted for—and they had no idea what she’d do next.

Known as a brilliant mind that could hack humanity’s darkest secrets, seventeen-year-old Sofi Snow is the most wanted teenager alive. She found her way to the icy, technologically brilliant planet of Delon to find Shilo, the brother everyone but Sofi believes is dead.

But as she and Ambassador Miguel partner to find her brother and warn those on Earth of Delon’s dark designs on humanity, Sofi’s memories threaten to overtake her, distorting everything she holds true. She knows the Delonese kept her in a dark, deceptive place . . . and destroyed a portion of her life. Now, the more they discover of Sofi’s past, the more Sofi feels herself unraveling—as each new revelation has her questioning the very existence of reality.

In this harrowing sequel to The Evaporation of Sofi Snow, Sofi and Miguel must trust each other and discover the secrets locked inside Sofi’s mind as the line between what’s real and what they imagine begins to slip away . . . threatening to take humanity with it.

March 2018 New Releases

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

Contemporary Romance:

Finally a Bride by Renee Andrews — Her dreams of love haven’t worked out, but veterinarian Haley Calhoun intends to grant an orphaned boy’s wish. She’ll heal Eli’s injured puppy—while resisting his charming counselor, Gavin Thomason, at the children’s home. Still mourning the loss of his wife and baby, Gavin believes he can’t commit again. But in losing their hearts to Eli, will Haley and Gavin discover they’ve found the family they need? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Love and Roses by Sally Bayless — Looking for a fresh start, former Manhattan lawyer Nate Redmond agrees to arrange the sale of the outdated Rose Park in small-town Missouri, not realizing it has deep sentimental value to his new neighbor, Abby Kincaid—a beautiful widow he’d like to impress. When their plans for the park clash, he learns he’s competing against the memory of her husband, a decorated war hero. With plenty of past mistakes hiding in the in the hedges, can Abby and Nate learn forgiveness and courage in time for love to grow? (Contemporary Romance from Kimberlin Belle Publishing)

Courting Her Amish Heart by Mary Davis — In this first book of the Prodigal Daughters series, Kathleen Yoder comes home after fourteen years in the Englisher world. Practicing medicine means sacrifice—no Amish man will want a doctor for a wife. Widowed Noah Lambright offers a cottage as her new clinic, seeing how much Kathleen’s skills can help their community. But as their friendship deepens, could love and family become more than a forbidden dream? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Amish Nanny’s Sweetheart by Jan Drexler — As nanny for her nephew, Judith Lapp is finally part of a vibrant, joyful Amish community instead of living on the outskirts looking in. But teaching her neighbors’ Englischer farm worker to read Pennsylvania Dutch wasn’t part of her plan. And the more time she spends with Guy Hoover, the more he sparks longings for a home and family of Judith’s own. Guy figured he would never be truly accepted by his Amish employers’ community – even though the Mast family treats him like a son. But Judith’s steadfast caring shows him that true belonging could be within his reach…if he and Judith can reconcile their very different hopes – and hearts. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

The Reluctant Groom by Kimberly Rose Johnson — When Ray O’Brien’s world is turned upside down, Katie Fairchild wants to help, but the personal cost is high. Neither desires a marriage of convenience, but when Katie blurts the first thing that comes to her mind Ray can’t dismiss her offer of marriage. It would solve all his problems except for one thing—they aren’t in love. Can these two friends team up for the greater good and perhaps find love along the way, or are their expectations impossible? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Anna’s Forgotten Fiance by Carrie Lighte — An accident leaves Anna Weaver with no memory of her Amish hometown’s newest arrival—her fiancé! After a whirlwind courtship, their wedding’s in six weeks…but how can she marry a man she can’t remember? Carpenter Fletcher Chupp takes her on a walk down memory lane, but there’s one thing he wants to keep hidden: a secret that might just lose him the woman he loves. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Grace Restored by Toni Shiloh — Michelle Thomas has it all. Beautiful and successful, she’s just opened her own law firm in Freedom Lake. What more could she want? When her old flame rolls back into Freedom Lake, she’s intent on ignoring him. But how can she give the widower and his precious twin girls the cold shoulder?
Still reeling from the death of his wife, Guy Pierre returns to Freedom Lake to take over as town sheriff and raise his twin daughters. Alone. Yet, life keeps throwing Michelle in his path and sparks of interest began to rise. Will old secrets tear them apart again or can they find the faith to let God’s grace restore what has been broken? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

General & Women’s Fiction:

Justice by Emily Conrad — Jake thought he was meant to marry Brooklyn, but now she’s pregnant, and he had nothing to do with it. Brooklyn can’t bring herself to name the father as she wrestles with questions about what her pregnancy means and how it will affect her relationship with Jake. If Harold Keen, the man who owns the bookstore across from Jake’s coffee shop, has anything to do with it, the baby will ruin them both. (General from White Rose Publishing [Pelican])

The Heart Between Us by Lindsay Harrel — When her heart donor’s parents give Megan Jacobs their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. (General from HarperCollins Christian Publishing)

Sweet Meets by Deborah Raney — From short stories to novellas, from contemporary to historical, all of award-winning author Deborah Raney’s short works have been gathered into one great collection for one low price.
Includes the following novellas and short stories: Going Once, Special Delivery, Haiti’s Song, Prairie Lessons, Finally Home, Circle of Blessings. (Women’s Fiction from Raney Day Press)

Historical Romance:

Seven Brides for Seven Texas Ranchers Romance Collection by Amanda Barratt, Susan Page Davis, Vickie McDonough, Gabrielle Meyer, Lorna Seilstad, Erica Vetsch, and Kathleen Y’Barbo — Join seven Texas Rangers on the hunt for a menacing gang, who run straight into romances with women who foil their plans for both the job and their futures. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

A Chance at Forever by Melissa Jagears — In early 1900s Kansas, Mercy McClain serves on the schoolboard, determined to protect Teaville’s children from the bullying she experienced as a child. When Aaron Firebrook, the classmate who bothered her more than any other, petitions the board for a teaching position, she’s dead set against him getting the job. Aaron has returned to his hometown a changed man and is seeking to earn forgiveness of those he wronged. He sets out to prove to Mercy he now has the best interests of the children at heart. Will resentment and old wounds hold them back, or can Mercy and Aaron put the past behind them in time to face the unexpected threats to everything they’re working for? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Ain’t Misbehavin’ by Jennifer Lamont Leo — In Jazz Age Chicago, Dot Rodgers sells hats at Marshall Field while struggling to get her singing career off the ground. Independent and feisty, she’s the life of the party. But underneath the glitter, she doesn’t believe she’s worth the love of a good man. Small-town businessman Charlie Corrigan carries scars from the Great War. After all he’s been through, he wants nothing more than to marry and start a family. But the woman he loves is a flamboyant flapper, used to a more glamorous life than he can offer. As his fortunes climb with the stock market, it seems he’s finally going to win her love. But what happens when it all comes crashing down? (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

A Most Noble Heir by Susan Anne Mason — A young man suddenly thrust into nobility is torn between the servant girl he hopes to marry and the father he’s always longed for. (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

Safe Refuge by Pamela S. Meyers — Wealthy Chicagoan, Anna Hartwell, is about to wed a man she loathes. The Great Chicago Fire erupts, postponing the wedding. After escaping to Wisconsin with her family she realizes she loves Irish immigrant, Rory Quinn, and prepares to break the wedding plans, which are still on. Then she learns a dark family secret that changes her life forever. (Historical Romance from Mantle Rock Publishing)

Husband by Arrangement by Angel Moore — Abandoned by her secret fiancé, the mayor’s pregnant daughter marries the sheriff. Can she overcome her past and help him save the town from corruption? (Historical Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Beneath A Prairie Moon by Kim Vogel Sawyer — Abigail Brantley grew up in affluence, but when she is cast from the social registers due to her father’s illegal dealings, she finds herself forced into a role she never imagined: tutoring rough Kansas ranchers in manners and morals so they can “marry up” with their mail-order brides. Mack Cleveland, whose father was swindled by a mail-order bride, wants no part of the scheme to bring Eastern women to Spiveyville, Kansas, and he’s put off by the snooty airs of the “little city gal” in their midst. But as time goes by, his heart goes out to the teacher who tries so diligently to smooth the rough edges from the grooms-to-be. How can he teach her that perfection won’t bring happiness? (Historical Romance from Waterbrook/Multnomah [Random House])

Romantic Suspense:

Beneath the Surface by Lynn H. Blackburn — After a harrowing experience with an obsessed patient, oncology nurse practitioner Leigh Weston moves home to Carrington, North Carolina to leave behind her troubled past. But when someone tampers with her brakes, she fears the past has chased her into the present. Leigh reaches out for help from her high school friend and volunteer underwater investigator, Ryan Parker. But when Ryan finds the body of a wealthy businessman in Lake Porter, the investigation uncovers a possible serial killer—one with a terrifying connection to Leigh and deadly implications for them all. (Romantic Suspense from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing)

Secret Service Setup by Jessica R. Patch — Secret Service agent Evan Novak becomes the target of multiple hit men when someone puts a two-million-dollar bounty on his head. Is it the gunrunner he’s tracking…or a traitorous agent? Framed and wanted, Evan reluctantly accepts protection from bodyguard Jody Gallagher, his former love who lost her Agency career because of him. But then the bounty is raised to include Jody… (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Fugitive Spy by Jordyn Redwood — A spy with amnesia—and a mission he can’t remember. When Casper English lands in her ER with amnesia, Dr. Ashley Drager learns he has a picture of her…and the same tattoo as her long-missing father. With a dangerous man after Casper, and his memories possibly holding the key to finding Ashley’s father, she secretly whisks him away from the hospital. But can she keep him alive long enough to help him regain his memories? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Savannah Harris has been an excellent investigative reporter, but after the shocking death of her family, regret plagues her for neglecting her husband and child in favor of her work., and she turns her back on her past life.

Except that things keep happening in the area where she’s chosen to hide away. Her best friend may not be who she says she is, and the guy living in one of the outbuildings has a lot of secrets.

Who can she trust? All she wants is to hide away from everything and everyone, but for some reason, she is the only one who can bring truth and justice to play for the migrant workers in the nearby fields and settlements. She’s long given up on God too, but her faith keeps showing up. How is she to keep out of the fray when she’s the one the people are counting on?

This well-written mystery kept my attention because of the characters as well as the plot. I wanted Savannah to come back from her self-imposed exile, but I didn’t want her hurt again. The romantic subplot is a strong point of this novel, as is the faith angle.

I also appreciate a plot that is unpredictable. It keeps me turning the pages. I was happy to discover that this book is the first of three in the Cape Thomas series. I will look for the others.

Christy Barritt

It’s called perseverance. That stubborn drive to reach for a goal. Dedication to a cause. Steadfastness. Endurance. Growing in spite of obstacles. Doing our absolute best.

These days of winter here on the prairies continue to drag. Temperatures are cold enough to freeze my brain. My focus shifts like the drifting snow and ideas are elusive. All I really want to do is curl up by the fireplace, wrap myself in a cozy blanket, and read a good book.

But where do those good books come from? They come from persistent writers who push through the dreary times when ideas are hard to pin down. They come through the tenacity of dedicated storytellers. Good books take work and resolve and heart.

Good books require effort, just like good marriages, good parenting, good friendships. All of life requires commitment to make it rich and worth living. But no one is going to do it for us.

I’ve come to the realization that no one is going to pull me along on the path to my goals. I’m the only one who can stretch to attain them. I’m thankful that over the years, God has pushed me in the right direction, helped me find connections, gently reminded me of my responsibility to apply myself to my calling (vocation, mission, passion). That’s because I foster my relationship with him. But the work is up to me.

Whatever your work, I encourage you to put your best into it and keep on keeping on. That’s what it takes to make a better world. I remind myself that God’s creation was never “good enough.” It was purely and simply “good.”

JAN: I am pleased to be able to interview another of my fellow Canadian authors today. Sandra Orchard, welcome to my blog.

Sandra Orchard

How long have you been writing and how did you come to it?

SANDRA: I started writing my first novel in the autumn of 2006. I’d been contemplating the idea for a while, then my husband, in desperation over the books piling up around our bedroom, suggested I write my own and so my journey began.

JAN: What’s your preferred genre?

SANDRA: I enjoy writing both mysteries and romantic suspense.

JAN: How and where do you write? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

SANDRA: I write on my laptop sitting in a gravity chair. I actually prefer to write longhand and used to when my daughter was still at home and would type out the pages for me. I’m a plotter, although I have “pantsed” the ending of several novels, when the villain didn’t turn out to be who I’d planned.

JAN: That’s fascinating. Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?

SANDRA: Ideas come to me from anywhere and everywhere—while reading articles, watching the news or a movie, during conversations, while driving, hiking, kayaking and more or less minding my own business. I might see a detour sign and imagine what my heroine would face at the other end. My Serena Jones Mysteries were initially inspired by an article about a Montreal art crime detective.

JAN: I’ve often wondered where that unique idea came from. How do you research and how do you know you can trust your sources?

SANDRA: I do extensive research. Over the years I have connected with trusted advisors in law enforcement, the fire department, the medical fields, the FBI and in occupations pertinent to the characters I am creating. For my Serena Jones Mysteries, I traveled to St. Louis to explore the city where Serena lives and to visit the FBI headquarters where she works and to interview her “colleagues.” I explored numerous art museums, read countless books on art crime, authored by the founder of the FBI’s art crime team, and top art crime detectives in the UK, NYC and California, and even a couple written by art thieves. I like to have a strong sense of the motivation driving both my heroes and my villains after all.

JAN: That sounds like a lot of work; it makes the story more credible when I know you’ve done your research well. So tell me, what do you like most / least about writing?

SANDRA: I love brainstorming new stories, especially with fellow writers and specialists. And I love the research, which inevitably spawns lots of potential directions and rabbit trails for the plot to take. I even enjoy editing. It’s a wonderful feeling to know the story is done and to be able to polish it until it really shines. My least favourite part, ironically, is the actual writing. It didn’t used to be that way. It is a side effect of having to write to deadlines and be creative and productive on a schedule.

JAN: Yes, creativity and deadlines are sometimes at odds. What are your favorite / most effective social media?

SANDRA: I love interacting with readers on Facebook. I don’t really participate in other venues. I have a presence on Pinterest and Goodreads, but I don’t hang out there.

JAN: It obviously takes a lot of time to research, write and market. How do you balance professional time with personal time?

SANDRA: Much better than I used to. I used to write and/or work at marketing as much as twelve hours a day. After my young grandson’s near fatal accident in 2016, I took five months off to be with him and the family in the hospital through his recovery. Since then I’ve been writing cozy mysteries for Annie’s Attic, which are only available through mail or e-book subscription, so no marketing is required on my part. This gives me much more time to spend with my young grandchildren.

JAN: Life has a way of highlighting priorities, doesn’t it? I didn’t know about Annie’s Attic. Must go there. What are you currently reading? Do you prefer digital or print?

SANDRA: I am currently reading a Mary Conneally historical romance novel. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a historical. It’s a nice change of pace. I prefer to read on my old kindle that reads like paper (not backlit), because I can enlarge the print and comfortably read for hours.

JAN: What keeps you going in your writing career?

SANDRA: The encouragement of my loyal readers to keep writing.

JAN: What are some things you learned from your own writing?

SANDRA: As I work through the goals and motivations, flaws and epiphanies of my various characters, I inevitably examine and work through my own perspectives on what they’re learning. I’ve also learned to seek the Lord’s inspiration daily. A metaphor he inspired for sea glass in Over Maya Dead Body is a good example of a nugget of truth that really resonated with me:  the sea glass “had once been an ugly piece of broken, useless glass that nobody wanted. But in being pushed around by the waves and roughed up by the rocks and sand, it was transformed into a beautiful, sought-after treasure.”

JAN: Lovely and inspirational. What is your ultimate writing goal?

SANDRA: To write stories that both entertain and inspire. I am continually amazed at the smallest thing in a story that might speak to a particular reader. Recently, it was the fact one of my older secondary characters felt comfortable enough in her own skin that she didn’t feel the need to dye her hair. It made a reader decide that she didn’t need to either.

JAN: That’s cool. Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

SANDRA: Don’t be in a hurry to publish. Enjoy the journey.

JAN: Thanks so much, Sandra, for taking the time to share your journey with us. I wish you God’s rich blessings as you continue on your way.

More about Sandra Orchard

Sandra’s Books

Some of Sandra’s stories

41xf2woejl-_sx317_bo1204203200_This little book—mine is copyrighted 1961—which I’ve had in my library for many years but never read, has now become an inspiration to me. I  pulled it off the shelf this January, with the hope that it would help me grow as a Christian. In the book, Tozer explores The Attributes of God: Their Meaning in the Christian Life (subtitle).

Chapters include discussion on God’s Infinitude, Wisdom, Omnipotence, Faithfulness, Goodness, Justice, Mercy, and many more, set forth with the idea that these attributes are not separate entities that stand on their own, but that altogether, they form a picture of God as He has chosen to reveal Himself to us through Scripture. (The Scriptures Tozer uses to illustrate his points are listed at the back of the book.)

Some of my favourite quotes from Tozer’s book:

  • “He does not possess [the divine attributes] as qualities; they are how God is as He reveals Himself to His creatures.” (p. 22)
  • “God has a voluntary relation to everything He has made, but He has no necessary relation to anything outside of Himself.” (p. 38)
  • “To believe in Him adds nothing to His perfections; to doubt Him takes nothing away.” (p. 40)
  • “The unbelieving mind would not be convinced by any proof, and the worshiping heart needs none.” (p. 65)
  • “The attributes explain each other and prove that they are but glimpses the mind enjoys of the absolutely perfect Godhead…To magnify any attribute to the exclusion of another is to head straight for one of the dismal swamps of theology…” (p. 85)
  • “Christ walked with men on earth that He might show them what God is like and make known the true nature of God to a race that had wrong ideas about Him…” (p. 90)
  • “To fear and not be afraid—that is the paradox of faith.” (p. 91)
  • “There is nothing in His justice which forbids the exercise of His mercy.” (p. 94)
  • “It is a strange and beautiful eccentricity of the free God that He has allowed His heart to be emotionally identified with men.” (p. 107)
  • “There is freedom to choose which side we shall be on but no freedom to negotiate the results of the choice once it is made.” (p. 119)

The last chapter offers, as the chapter title suggests, the Open Secret of how to grow Christ’s body, the church: Acquaint thyself with God. It must “begin with the individual.” Only as we acquaint and re-acquaint ourselves with God (read: lose some of our preconceived and sometimes false ideas of who He is), will we be able to properly represent Him here on this earth, and serve Him as we should.

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