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Posts Tagged ‘Christian Writers’

Unbound is a fascinating fictional read that explores many themes, among them self-concept, sorrow, sin, God’s forgiveness and grace. One of my favorite lines is: “What was it about sorrow that made people insist their grief was unique, worse than anyone else’s.”

Ruthie Adrian has been living her dream life, but when that life is ripped from her, she feels she is paying for past sins. The mother-in-law she has always seen as a stable woman, suffers similar misconceptions. Both women have secrets that the author skillfully unravels as the narrative progresses.

The novel shows the story through the eyes of a very diverse array of characters, and their reactions to crises. They add tension to the plot, and raise the stakes considerably, keeping the reader wondering how much worse things can get before there is resolution.

A constant in the book is Ruthie’s passion: her alpacas…her biddies. They become a MacGuffin (something that reflects much that is happening in the story; it could have been told without them, but they add insight). The animals offer simple comfort, as well as a connection to the past, a distraction in the present, and a hope for the future.

The author has skillfully created this tale as a modern-day parallel to the biblical story told in the book of Ruth, with enough similarity to be recognizable, but enough variance to stand on its own.

Unbound is a thought-provoking book that leaves the reader considering the many themes that affect us all, and with the strong hope that God’s grace can change even the most dismal circumstances into opportunities for grace.

Five stars! *****

Author Eleanor Bertin

A fascination with the intersection of people and God’s Word inspires Eleanor Bertin’s fiction. Like the under-renovation century home in Alberta where she lives with her husband and youngest son, God is at work in her life and the lives of her characters.

See her website at eleanorbertinauthor.com

Read my interview with Eleanor.

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JAN: I am excited today to interview one of my new friends from the Mosaic Collection of Authors. Her name is Stacy Monson, and she hails from Minnesota. Stacy, how long have you been writing and how did you come to it?

STACY: I’ve been writing my whole life; well, since I could spell anyway. But while my family knew I loved to write stories, there were few others who did as I got older. I dreamt of publishing a book but didn’t think it would ever actually happen. Then, about 10 years ago, I was home early from work having picked up my Dad from cataract surgery, and he was watching Oprah while I worked nearby on a story. The show was on midlife opportunities (as opposed to midlife crisis), and by the end of it I KNEW God was calling me to step beyond my comfort zone and start writing for him. That was when I started my professional writing journey.

JAN: That’s cool. An unforgettable moment. Who are some of the people who most influenced your decision to write?

STACY: Aside from Oprah? 😊God put just the right people in my path at just the right time. A woman from church wrote for Harlequin, and she invited me to a local RWA (Romance Writers Assoc.) meeting. From there I learned about ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers), and began meeting more people who encouraged, taught, critiqued, and walked alongside me. Then the Mosaic Collection began to form and again God put just the right people in place to form the group. It’s been amazing.

JAN: As a recent fellow member, I concur! What’s your preferred genre?

STACY: To write, it’s definitely contemporary. While I love reading a variety of genres, I know I’m too lazy to write historical because all that research would squash my writing!

JAN: And here’s the cover of your newly released contemporary novel, When Mountains Sing. See my last week’s blog for a review. Stacy, how and where do you write? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

 STACY: I started out as a total pantser; didn’t have the patience to be a plotter. I’d just dive in and write, and then end up rewriting and rewriting. Now I’m what I called a plotting pantser. Creating an overall outline, and doing some character interviews helps me know who I’m writing about and the general direction of the story, but then I let it unfold as I write.

JAN: Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?

STACY: I’m a character-driven writer and reader, so my stories always start with a character idea. Something in the news or a story I hear from someone can get my “what would happen if…” wheels turning, and pretty soon I’m building a story around that specific character. New characters and events pop up as I write (suddenly the main character has a brother or sister I didn’t know about, or something happened in their past I hadn’t considered) so I adjust to that as the story unfolds.

JAN: Fascinating. So, even contemporary stories need some research. How do you research and how do you know you can trust your sources?

STACY: For When Mountains Sing, I definitely researched what specific tools/equipment were called, how they were used, etc. And while I’ve visited Winter Park, CO a number of times, I had to research the names of areas, where there was water, etc. Usually I’ll check several sources and if the information I’ve found is consistent, I know I can trust those sources. If not, I keep looking. Gotta love Google for that!

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

STACY: What I like most is the satisfaction of seeing a story unfold and how characters react to the issues that crop up. And especially how they come to understand who God is and what that means for their life. In some stories, the characters have had a basic faith/understanding of God and that has grown. In others, they had no knowledge of God and it was a game changer as they met people on their journey who introduced them to Christ, shared their faith, and helped the character get on the right track.
What I like least is writing the first draft. I much prefer the editing process, so I really have to force myself to get the story on paper in an absolutely rough, ugly draft, then I happily edit from there.

JAN: I’m with you there. What are some of the best methods of promoting your work?

STACY: Word of mouth and reviews are always the best ways for books to be discovered by new readers. It is very, very difficult to be noticed in today’s overcrowded world of books being released every single day. And as an indie author (self-published), I cringe at some of the very poorly written/edited indie books out there. Those books give the world a bad impression of indie authors. Those of us who put the time, effort, and money into making our books as professional as possible are impacted negatively by others who just wanted to “write a book.”

JAN: Yup, yup. What are your favorite / most effective social media?

STACY: A mix of Facebook and Amazon. I’ve found spending money on the ads doesn’t really generate much interest, while interacting with people, putting the book on sale occasionally, and posting other people’s impressions is far more effective.

JAN: Good to know. How do you balance professional time with personal time?

STACY: Now that our kids are grown (we have 4 grandkids now), I have a lot more time to write, so it’s not so difficult to balance the two. I can write late at night or early in the morning, or whenever I want, and still have space in my day for personal time.

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

STACY: I’m reading the 2ndMosaic Collection book to release, Unbound by Eleanor Bertin. I much prefer print but sometimes digital is easier (if I’m traveling, or find I have unexpected free time but don’t have the print copy with me).

JAN: Just for interest sake, what are some of your favorite things? What makes you unique?

STACY: Not sure about what makes me unique, but my favorite things are good books, good chocolate, and spending time with family (especially our grands). Favorite season is autumn (followed by my very, very least favorite, winter). Favorite color is purple. And I love creating new characters, new worlds, and new ways for God to show up.

JAN: What keeps you going in your writing career?

STACY: When I’ve gotten worn down or discouraged and decided to put writing on the back burner, God has provided just what I needed to recharge (a nice review, encouragement from friends and other authors). It’s a lonely process so it’s easy to get caught up in negative thoughts, comparisons to others who seem much more successful. Spending time chatting with other writers, encouraging them, and celebrating the milestones and goals of dear friends always cheers me up and sends me back to the keyboard.

JAN: You feel better when you cheer others on. I like that. How is your faith reflected in your writing?

STACY: I’m a follower of Christ whose main desire is to illustrate how much God loves us and longs to be in relationship with us. My stories always seem to have an element of identity in them–people searching for theirs, or the way they perceive themselves has changed. Always, it comes back to being grounded first and foremost in our identity as a child of God. He is what defines us, not the world around us, and that weighs heavy on my heart as I listen to people around me who struggle with understanding who they are and what their purpose is. When we follow the world, we will always be left wanting, and lacking in comparison to what the world says we should be/do/act, etc. When we follow Christ, we may still struggle but we can always come back to the foundation of our identity and start again.

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

STACY: I think identity is a theme in my stories because it’s something I’ve struggled with throughout my life. When I finally understood that I’m the beloved of God, even in my daily sins, it changed how I view the world. Each story unveils a new layer to that knowledge and understanding. It’s a process!

JAN: What is your ultimate writing goal?

STACY: Is dying at my computer a goal? Just kidding (sort of). I hope I never stop writing, and that God continues to speak to others through the stories He gives me.

JAN: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

STACY:  Know that this is not easy, no matter what anyone says. You will not (unless you’re one of those very, very few people who gets “discovered” early) become an overnight sensation. Never stop learning and growing, encouraging others and letting them encourage you. And compare yourself only to what God is calling you to do. Your journey will not look like anyone else’s and that’s okay! As long as you stay on your unique path, God will continue to unveil new things and lead you forward.

JAN: Thanks so much, Stacy, for taking time to answer these questions and let us get to know you better.

Readers, see below for Stacy’s photo, bio and social media links.

Author Stacy Monson

 

Stacy Monson is the award-winning author of The Chain of Lakes series, including Shattered Image, Dance of Grace,and The Color of Truth, and also Open Circle. Her stories reveal an extraordinary God at work in ordinary life. She’s an active member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and the MN Christian Writers Guild (MCWG). Residing in the Twin Cities, she is the wife of a juggling, unicycling recently-retired physical education teacher, mom to two amazing kids and two wonderful in-law kids, and a very proud grandma of 4 (and counting) grands.

 

 

 

Let’s Connect!

For news about upcoming books, contests, giveaways, and other fun stuff – stop by www.stacymonson.com and sign up for her monthly newsletter. You can find information about her speaking ministry there, as well.

Facebook         https://www.facebook.com/stacymmonson/

Twitter            @StacyMonson

Instagram        https://www.instagram.com/stacy_monson

Pinterest          https://www.pinterest.com/stacymonson/

Goodreads       https://wwwgoodreadscomstacy_monson

Books by Stacy Monson

When Mountains Sing, Book 1 in My Father’s House series

Open Circle

The Chain of Lakes series:

Award-winning stories of loss, redemption, love, and truth.

Shattered Image

Dance of Grace

The Color of Truth

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One of the best books I’ve read in a while, When Mountains Sing will live in my mind and heart for a long time.

Mikayla Gordon has always known who she is: an outdoorsy woman who prefers hiking and fishing to anything girlie. Although these interests have not helped her to fit in, she has maintained a strong determination to follow her dreams.

Then a long-hidden truth reveals that she has no idea who she is, that everything she believed about herself and her family is false. She is on the verge of losing it all, but instead of giving up, she sets out to find answers.

Running away from the present, looking for truth from the past, Mikayla ends up at an outdoor camp in the Rocky Mountains, and for once in her life, she fits in. When she listens carefully, she can hear the mountains sing.

On the journey to find her identity, Mikayla discovers many things about herself and others, besides facts that bring more pain. Can this mosaic of revelations work together to bring her closure and peace? She can’t remain hidden in this haven forever, especially with her twin sister’s wedding coming up. And what will she do with her strong attraction to Dawson Dunne?

What I liked most about this story is the theme that “Blood isn’t the only thing that makes a family.” (Location 857) “…family means working together toward a common goal, depending on each other, sharing daily life.” (Location 1416) Can this be true for Mikayla and her family? And what of the faith in God she sees all around her at the outdoor camp?

I found the characters strong and individual, each clearly delineated and purposed through theme and plot. The intensity of this story is eased somewhat by the presence of Lula, a small but mighty Chihuahua/Papillon puppy who joins Mikayla on her journey and brings joy into the chaos.

The tale moves along quickly, and it’s almost impossible to put down. The writing is tight and strong, pulling all the necessary elements together a weaving them into a memorable tapestry. This is the first book I’ve read by Stacy Monson, but I will be looking for more. Also, check out the Mosaic Collection of authors for more compelling Christian fiction.

Author Stacy Monson

P.S. When you’ve read this book, listen to the song, You Say, by Lauren Daigle. It fits the theme so beautifully, as noted by the book’s author.

Stacy Monson is the award-winning author of The Chain of Lakes series, including Shattered Image, Dance of Grace, and The Color of Truth. Her stories reveal an extraordinary God at work in ordinary life. Residing in the Twin Cities, she is the wife of a juggling, unicycling physical education teacher, and a proud mom, and doting grandma.

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Today, I’m excited to introduce you to Linore Rose Burkard. I read some of her work, then signed up to do an ARC review of her latest novel, Forever, Lately. I thought, why not make a deal? I write a review for Linore, and she does an interview for me. Thanks, Linore, for taking time to answer a few questions about your writing/writing life.

JAN: Hi Linore. How long have you been writing and how did you come to it?

LINORE: I started writing at age nine after reading My Side of the Mountain. The story, inwhich a young boy is able to live by himself in peace on a mountainside, coupled with the ways he learned to survive, thrilled me. I immediately wrote a copycat novel with myself as the protagonist. Unfortunately, I didn’t recognize this as an inkling that I was meant to write; even in college, since I worked full time and wasn’t certain I could ace a creative writing class, I never took one. I majored in English Literature, but didn’t take creative writing out of fear. Only God would turn that girl around to make her a fiction writer!

JAN: What’s your preferred genre?

LINORE: Though I am a multi-genre author, I think my favorite is Regency romance. My contemporary novels seem to center on more serious themes, so there’s no fun like Regency fun. Ever since I stumbled upon Georgette Heyer and Marion Chesney in my twenties, I’ve loved that time period and the sometime madcap humor it supports.

JAN: Ahh. I certainly see humor in Forever, Lately. Tell us, why do you write?

LINORE: I think all (Christian) writers suffer from a mixture of motives along the lines of, ‘I write because I’m called to write, because God has gifted me for it.’ AND, ‘I write because I can’t help it. I can’t stop.’ While there are times in life when we can get more writing done and times when we’re too busy with family, or ministry, or just plain life, a writer will always return to the blank page. I could no more give up writing entirely than give up breathing, and to some degree, I think that’s universal for creatives, whatever their given sphere. (On a less noble vein, I also write because it’s fun. When a work isn’t making me pull my hair out, I’m loving it.)

JAN: How and where do you write?

LINORE: I can write just about anywhere. I wrote my first book mostly in one room, a basement bedroom in our house on Long Island. But I also scribbled scenes while my toddler son crawled across my lap upstairs, or in the car while Mike drove us somewhere we had to go. Since then, I have written each book in different places as my office space has changed with the needs of the family. When my oldest daughter left for college, her room became my office. When she came back, I moved upstairs. Later, I had a room at one end of the house, but then my husband started working from home and he needed it. I’ve worked on books from the sofa, from a temporary desk, on writing retreats, and in someone else’s house in order to escape home distractions. I’ve camped out in a coffee shop for hours and done writing. For me, it isn’t the space that matters most, but simply focusing on the work. I strongly prefer quieter places, but if there’s one advantage of growing up in a family with eight children, it’s that you learn to zone out noise!

JAN: Wow, that’s focus! Are you a plotter or a pantser?

LINORE: I wish with all my heart that I could say I’m a plotter. I do start every book with a good idea of where it’s going and how it must end. Aside from that, I’m a dyed-in-the-wool pantser. I may have a vague idea of what the villain or major obstacles will be, but nothing too concrete. I admire plotters. I think their method is superior in terms of efficiency. But I find that the more I write even without detailed outlining, I waste less time writing unnecessary scenes. I think I’ve grown an inner sense of what’s needed and what isn’t. And it’s not something that can easily be taught. Once, during a stressful week of college, the Lord graciously gave me an outline. I mean that, word for word. It was for a paper that was coming due. And I got enormous praise from my professor for the resulting paper, the easiest one I ever wrote. (He called it “Brilliant” and other wonderful things. He was actually excited by it.) Besides learning how much God cared for me and how he knows everything, that experience taught me that GOD IS AN OUTLINER! Unfortunately, I still can’t write good outlines and stick to them.

JAN: We do what works for us. Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

LINORE: I see many, many first drafts of newer writers who don’t realize that what they’ve got is only a first draft. I wish all writers understood that nearly all books go through edits, and the newer the writer, the more editing is likely needed. Too often, with the ease of self-publishing today, a writer is excited to “finish” a story and they rush to publish it. If you are a newer writer, my advice is to find three people who do NOT love you, and have them read your work and give you feedback. And hire an editor with experience. The retired school teacher, though she taught English, is not equivalent to an experienced book editor. Your book took a lot of work. Now give it the professional touch it deserves with good editing and manuscript preparation.

JAN: Great advice. Thanks so much for spending time with us today, and all the best on your future writing.

Website: http://www.LinoreBurkard.com

Bio: Linore Rose Burkard is a serious watcher of period films. She wrote a trilogy of regency romances“for the Jane Austen Soul,” which opened the genre for the CBA. Now a multi-genre author, including a YA/Suspense Pulse Effex Series written as L.R. Burkard, Linore is also the founder of Lilliput Press, where  “little dreams become books.”  Raised in NYC, she graduated magna cum laudefrom City University. Now living in Ohio, she juggles family life with homeschooling, editing, novel writing, and publishing. She is Vice President of the Dayton Christian Scribes, and a Regional Director of CAN, Christian Authors Network.

“Heartwarming Regency Romance”
“Gripping Suspense”
Let’s Connect!

Linore’s latest time-travel romance, Forever, Latelyis available NOW  on  Amazon.

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August 2019 New Releases

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

Contemporary Romance:

The Butterfly Recluse by Therese Heckenkamp — Lila finds solace in her sheltered world by raising butterflies and surrounding herself with their gentle beauty. They’re all she needs—until a motorcycle-riding stranger roars up her driveway, invading her safe haven, throwing her life off-kilter, and forcing her to question everything. What exactly is he after, and what is he not telling her? In one intense night of desperation and revelation, Lila must confront her darkest fears—and hopefully discover that with faith and courage, shattered dreams can be restored, damaged hearts can love again, and broken wings can heal . . . maybe even fly. (Contemporary Romance from Ivory Tower Press)

A Glitter of Gold by Liz Johnson — Anne Norris moved to Savannah, Georgia, for a fresh start. Now her pirate-tour business is flagging and paying the rent requires more than wishful thinking. When she discovers evidence of a shipwreck off the coast of Tybee Island, she knows it could be just the boon she needs to stay afloat. She takes her findings to local museum director Carter Hale for confirmation, but things do not go as planned. Carter is fascinated with the wreck, the discovery of which could open the door to his dream job at a prestigious museum. But convincing Anne to help him fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle is no easy task. And working with Carter means that Anne will have to do the one thing she swore she’d never do again: trust a man. (Contemporary Romance from Revell-A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Hometown Healing by Jennifer Slattery — She’s home again, but not for long… Unless this cowboy recaptures her heart Returning home with a baby in tow, Paige Cordell’s determined her stay is only temporary. But to earn enough money to leave, she needs a job—and her only option is working at her first love’s dinner theater. With attraction once again unfurling between her and Jed Gilbertson, can the man who once broke her heart convince her to stay for good? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

General Contemporary/Women’s Fiction:

Grace in Deep Waters by Christine Dillon — William Macdonald is at the pinnacle of his career. Pastor of a growing megachurch and host of a successful national radio programme. Clever and respected, he’s a man with everything, including a secret. His wife has left him and he can’t risk anyone finding out. Blanche Macdonald is struggling. Her once rock-solid marriage is showing cracks. She promised to love her husband for better or for worse, but does loving always mean staying? Blanche desires to put God first. Not William. Not her daughter. Not herself. When is a marriage over? When do you stand and fight? (Women’s Fiction, Independently Published)

When Mountains Sing by Stacy Monson — Mikayla Gordon loves nothing more than sleeping under the stars, reeling in the “big one,” and long hikes in the wilderness. A medical crisis reveals a 30-year-old secret that turns everything she’s known and believed upside down, unraveling her dreams and her identity. In search of answers, she follows a trail from Minnesota to Colorado and discovers more unwelcome secrets even as she falls in love with the majestic beauty of the Rocky Mountains, and a wilderness camp leader who shares the greatest secret of all. Knowing her life can never go back to what it was, she must make decisions that will impact far more than just her future. (Contemporary from His Image Publications)

All In by L. K. Simonds — Cami Taylor: a blackjack dealer, a bestselling author, and a fraud. Cami’s boyfriend, Joel, loves her in spite of her flaws. He wants to marry her, buy a house on Long Island, and raise a family–a life that’s a million miles from Cami’s idea of happiness. Her therapist suggests compromise and trust, but Cami bolts like a deer. She breaks off the relationship and launches on a new quest for happiness, not knowing that a nasty surprise waits around the corner. What follows is a fight to the death. Who will be the one left standing? (Contemporary from Morgan James Fiction)

Historical:

Finding Lady Enderly by Joanna Davidson Politano — A rag girl accepts an invitation to become the lady she’s always dreamed of being, but some dreams turn out to be nightmares. (Historical from Revel – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

Historical Romance:

Lady and the Lawman by Crystal L. Barnes, Vickie McDonough, Annette OHare, and Kathleen Y’Barbo — Four historic stories of lawmen and the ladies who love them. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Farmer’s Daughter by Mary Davis, Kelly Eileen Hake, Tracie J. Peterson, Jill Stengl, and Susan May Warren — Enjoy five historical novels by some of Christian fiction’s bestselling authors. Meet daughters of prairie farms from Montana south to Kansas who find love in the midst of turbulent life changes. Marty’s nieces are kidnapped. Rosalind’s town is overrun by a railroad company. Amy’s jealousy comes between her and her twin. Beulah’s answer is needed to a marriage proposal. Lilly’s choice puts her at odd with her neighbors. Into each of their lives rides a man who may only make their situations worse. (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

The Cowboys by Sandra Merville Hart, Cindy Ervin Huff, Jennifer Uhlarik, and Linda W. Yezak — Taming the West–one heart at a time. Healing Heart: A physically scarred cowboy finds solace with a ranch girl who is hiding from her past. Becoming Brave: A cattle drover wants to get his boss’s heard safely through Indian Territory…as soon he figures out why a bloodstained woman is holding a gun on him. Trails End: Waiting for his boss’s cattle to sell, a cowboy takes a kitchen job at a restaurant where the beautiful and prickly owner adds spice to his workday. Loving a Harvey Girl: To improve the local preacher’s opinion of career women, a Harvey Girl makes it her mission to redeem a wayward cowboy, but finds herself longing for a husband, hearth, and home. (Historical Romance from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Lost in the Storm by Tamera Lynn Kraft — Lavena, a journalist during the Civil War, wants to become a war correspondent. She finally gets her chance, but there’s a catch. She has to get an interview from a war hero who has refused to tell his story to every other journalist, and she has to accomplish this impossible task in a month or she’ll lose her job. Captain Cage, the war hero, has a secret that will destroy his military career and reputation. Now, a new journalist wants him to reveal what he’s been hiding. He’d prefer to ignore her, but from the moment she came into camp, he can’t get her out of his mind. Leading up to the turbulent Battles for the city of Chattanooga, will Lavena and Cage find the courage to love and forgive, or will they be swept away by their past mistakes that don’t want to stay buried? (Historical Romance from Mt Zion Ridge Press)

Love’s Allegiance by Linda Shenton Matchett — Inspired by the biblical love story of Rebekkah and Isaac, Love’s Allegiance explores the struggles and sacrifices of those whose beliefs were at odds with a world at war. (Historical Romance from Shortwave Press)

The Brightest Hope by Naomi Musch — Five years after the Great War, Holly Allen is a well-adjusted war widow with a knack for running the family press. She’s over the days of waiting for a white knight to ride in and sweep her away from her cares. Besides, if Hugh Phelps is a knight, he’s certainly a black one—with his prison record, personal demons, and the ghosts of war that haunt him. When Holly hires Hugh, despite her reservations, it isn’t long before she sees the man he could really be, and as Hugh finds his niche at Allen’s Printing, he finds his lady boss equally appealing. Despite the attraction, however, Holly won’t let herself fall for a faithless man, and Hugh isn’t on gracious terms with God. Then, just when new beginnings seem possible, old heartaches from the war come calling. Now it might only be in letting go of everything dear that they both discover what real love is. (Historical Romance, Independently Published)

Annabelle’s Joy by Betty Thomason Owens — She’s waited too long. When Tom proposed last year, Annabelle wasn’t ready to open her heart to another man. Pain still held a thin crust around it. Time has healed her heart, but with a new woman in town, one who clearly has her sights set on Tom, does it matter if Annabelle’s heart is ready to love again? Folks in town are keeping a close eye on their pharmacist, hoping to be the first to hear the good news. He’s been courting the widow Cross for nigh on two years now. Annabelle Cross better wake up and put her dancing shoes on. Mr. Tom is prime real estate. (Historical Romance from Write Integrity Press)

Mystery/Cozy Mystery:

Hidden Secrets by Janet Sketchley — When an online vendetta against the Green Dory Inn escalates to physical threats, a cryptic message about a tunnel points to the property’s original owner, a notorious Prohibition-era sea captain rumoured to have left hidden wealth. (Mystery, Independently Published)

Murder at Rendsburg Resort by C. L. Wells — Trapped in a remote resort with a killer on the loose, the body count piling up, and no one else to save them, mystery writer Jill Pemberton must help find the killer before they claim their next victim. (Cozy Mystery, Independently Published)

Romantic Suspense:

Two Steps Forward by Luana Ehrlich — When CIA operative Titus Ray has an unexpected encounter with a Jihadi terrorist while he and Nikki are on their honeymoon in Morocco, he assumes it’s a coincidence, but when they travel to Israel for the second half of their honeymoon and encounter him again, he takes action, which takes him to Baghdad to prevent the assassination of a high-profile government official. (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Edge of Truth by Kimberly Rose Johnson — The DEA sends two of its best agents, Kara Nelson and Jeff Clark, to Central Oregon, to shut down a major drug ring. Kara and Jeff usually work alone, but Operation Trail Ride throws them undercover together in a way neither of them expected. A notorious Miami drug lord wants Kara dead. Can these agents pull off the greatest acting job of their lives—and manage the sparks flying between them? Or will they die trying? (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Speculative:

Redemption by Jacques R. Pye — Sterling Newman and Armena Sandal face death as they struggle to help the Alesandrans and the Kirilleans combat a force seeking the destruction of both worlds. (Speculative, Independently Published)

Young Adult:

Shards of Light by Susan Miura — Sometimes the pieces of a shattered dream can transform into something extraordinary. (Young Adult from Vinspire Publishing)

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JAN: Today I’m interviewing Canadian author, Sara Davison.

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

Sara Davison

SARA: I have been seriously writing for about 14 years, but it is something I have done informally all of my life. In grade 4 my class took a trip, and my write-up was chosen to go in the school newsletter. I can still remember the feeling of seeing my words in print and knowing others were reading them. I believe I knew from that moment on that that’s what I wanted to do with my life.

JAN: The power of affirmation. Who are some of the people who most influenced your decision to write?

SARA: Definitely my grade 9 English teacher who read several of my pieces of writing to the class and was a huge encouragement to me. My husband and family have also been a tremendous source of support – without them I never would have had the courage or tenacity to persevere in what can be a difficult and discouraging business. I’ve been a huge bookworm all my life too, so many, many authors have influenced me to want to imitate them and their incredible ability to take me away to another world. Writers like C.S. Lewis, Roald Dahl, Madeleine L’Engle, Louisa May Alcott, and Lucy Maud Montgomery, to name a very few.

JAN: What’s your preferred genre?

SARA: I never made a conscious decision to write inspirational romantic suspense, but every time I sat down to write, those are the stories that came out. I guess because it is my favourite genre to read. I definitely prefer contemporary to historical, and am always looking for a story that keeps me on the edge of my seat with my heart pounding, so romantic suspense is my preferred genre both for reading and writing.

JAN: Why do you write?

SARA: It’s a bit of a cliché, but true nonetheless—I write because I can’t not write. God gives me stories and story ideas and I feel as though I have to get them down on paper or I will burst. I completely understand Eric Liddell’s assertion that God created him fast, and when he runs, he feels God’s pleasure. I feel exactly the same when I am writing, as though it is exactly what I was created to do and the way that God wants to use me to bring glory to him, which I pray all of my writing does.

JAN: What a great feeling to know that God wants you doing exactly what you’re doing. How and where do you write? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

SARA: I love to write in coffee shops, but I do most of my writing in my office at home. I can’t write longhand as I am so out of practice that my hand quickly gets tired, and I can’t write nearly as fast as the ideas come to me, so I always use a computer. As for being a plotter or pantser, I’m actually more of a plotser or a pantter – somewhere in the middle of the two. I like to have a fairly good idea of where I am going with the story before I begin. I like to know the beginning and the end and to have a sense of how I am going to get there, but I don’t outline so tightly that the story and the characters aren’t free to take me where they will, because for me, that’s the fun of writing. I often sit down at the computer, as interested as any of my readers will be in seeing what is going to happen next. I also consider myself a reasonably lazy writer, so I only do enough research to ensure that what is included in the story is credible and accurate, but then I basically just like to make stuff up.

The Seven Trilogy by Sara Davison

JAN: Where do you get your ideas? What inspires you?

SARA: In the introduction to Stephen King’s book, On Writing, he says he enjoys getting together with other author friends because none of them ever asks where the ideas come from – they all know that none of them know. I was very relieved to read that, as I find this an extremely difficult question to answer. I have a lot of author friends who are inspired by what is going on around them. They get excited when we’re out when something happens or they see an interesting person and they immediately start scribbling notes down to use in their stories. I don’t see the world that way. Pretty much everything I write comes from inside somewhere, not outside me. I know that God gives me the ideas because I feel closer to him when I am writing than just about any other time – writing is a deeply spiritual experience for me in that way.

JAN: I guess I don’t agree with Stephen King on that! I’ve asked this question in countless interviews and received some fascinating answers, including yours! We’re all unique.

How do you research and how do you know you can trust your sources?

SARA: I’m not sure I understand the question – if it’s on the Internet, it has to be true, right? Ha ha. Okay, the thing is, as I mentioned above, I really don’t enjoy research and only do what I need to do in order to make sure that what I am putting in the book is accurate. I check more than one source (other than Wikipedia) online, but my preference is to have someone who knows more about a certain field or occupation than I do read it over. For example, since one of my main characters in The Seven Trilogy is in the military, I not only did research online, but one of my editors had been in the military herself, which was incredibly helpful. For Vigilant, since one of the heroes is a cop, I had a friend, a former police officer, read over the manuscript to ensure accuracy. For me it is easiest to just write the story and then have someone with more expertise check over it for me which, so far, has worked out quite well.

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

SARA: What I like most about writing is putting a book out there and then having readers respond with positive comments. The absolute best are the readers that tell me the book really got them thinking about God or examining their relationship with him. If I hear that anything in my books got people thinking or discussing anything, particularly spiritual matters, that is the greatest thrill of all. The downside of writing, of course, is that it can be an incredibly discouraging business that constantly undermines self-confidence. Over and over I have to remind myself that I am not writing for sales numbers, awards, accolades, or positive reviews. I am writing in obedience to God – to his calling on my life. I believe that because he gives me the stories, he has a purpose for them. If that purpose is for five people or five thousand or five million to read them, that’s up to him. I have to trust that if I write the books to the best of my ability and market them as much as time and resources allow, God will take care of ensuring that the purpose he has for them will be fulfilled. And at that point, whatever the response from others has been, I have to consider them a success.

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

SARA: Facebook is actually my favourite method of interacting with readers and promoting my work. Like most writers, marketing and promotion are the least appealing aspects of the writing business, but I do find an Author page on Facebook, or a closed launch team group, or writing or reading-themes groups are excellent ways to interact with other writers and readers, not only about my work but about the work of other authors I enjoy.

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

SARA: Not very well, to be honest. I love what I do – I write and I also have an editing business, both of which I do from home. The positives of that are that I don’t have to get up and go out in the morning, so it doesn’t matter to me what the weather or traffic is like. I love being home and being available to my three teenagers, and I am comfortable working in my office. The downside is that there is no way to punch out of work. Even when I do take a break to spend time with family or to watch something on television (usually sports), it’s in the back of my mind that I should be working. I have to be really intentional about taking breaks and about trying to let go of thinking about what I could be doing if I was back on my computer.

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

SARA: I am just about finished Lindsay Harrel’s The Secrets of Paper and Inkwhich is really good. Next on my TBR is Wooing Cadie McCaffrey by Bethany Turner. Actually not the genre I typically read, but I met both of them at the Christian Fiction Readers Retreat this year so I was interested in reading their books. I definitely prefer paper, but I am also slowly warming up to reading on my Kindle. It’s handy when I am out somewhere and waiting for my kids to come out of school or appointments, or sitting in a waiting room. And if the power ever goes out or I don’t want to disturb my husband when he’s sleeping, it’s great to be able to read without turning on a light. So I do enjoy it, but will always prefer the feel, smell etc. of holding an actual book in my hands.

JAN: Same. I’m getting more into Kindle because it’s so handy. What are some of your favorite things? What makes you unique?

SARA: Some of my favourite things are: live theatre; watching sports (especially hockey and baseball); chocolate; reading and writing, of course; going out for coffee with friends; movies, especially old black and white ones and most especially anything with Jimmy Stewart or Cary Grant; relaxing on the shore of a lake, road trips, spending time with my family, especially weekends away with my husband. I’m not really sure what makes me unique – I lead a fairly quiet life, by choice, so maybe what makes me unique is that I am never bored and, for the most part, I am deeply content.

JAN: I get that. What keeps you going in your writing career?

SARA: Three things keep me going—the deeply-held belief that it is what God has called me to do and it is how he uses me to bring him glory and to do ministry; the support and encouragement of family, friends, and other authors; and positive feedback from readers.

JAN: How is your faith reflected in your writing?

SARA: While I have a dread fear of writing anything that sounds preachy, I do hope and pray that clear spiritual messages emerge from my writing as readers read my books. Different books have different themes, but the one constant truth I pray all my readers take away with them is that they are never alone. God hasn’t promised us that we won’t have trouble or even suffer greatly in life, but he has promised that he will never leave us or forsake us, and that is underlying theme of all my books.

JAN: I’ve certainly “heard” that theme in your books. What are some things you learned from your own writing?

SARA: I strongly believe that Christian fiction needs to be rooted in solid theology, so I am very careful about what I include in my books. I check my own theology against the Bible and against the teaching of hundreds of years of church history and against solid contemporary theologians. If I can’t prove what my characters are saying or experiencing on a spiritual level from the Bible, I won’t include it in my books, so I have learned a lot of theology and doctrine since I have started writing, which actually could be included in my list of favourite things to do.

JAN: What is your ultimate writing goal?

SARA: My ultimate writing goal is to produce works of excellence that glorify God, draw others closer to him, and fulfil whatever purpose he has for them.

Sara Davison’s latest book

JAN: Any advice for beginning writers?

SARA: A writer I admire once said that we have no idea what we don’t know when we are starting out as writers. Personally, I have found that to be true, so the two biggest pieces of advice I like to offer beginning writers are 1) be teachable. Take every opportunity to learn and grow. Accept constructive criticism and try to learn something from negative feedback. Be humble and always, always strive to go deeper and achieve greater excellence with every piece of writing you produce. And 2) if you believe in your work, never ever give up. Perseverance is the key to making it in this crazy business, so take every rejection as an opportunity to learn and grow and to improve your writing and then submit it somewhere else until you find someone who believes in it as much as you do.

JAN: Great advice. Thank you so much, Sara, for taking the time to answer these questions so we can get to know you and your work better. I wish you all the best as you continue on in your writing career, as God has called you.

To learn more about Sara, check out her website. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter

 

 

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July 2019 New Releases

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

Contemporary Romance:

Hometown Hope by Laurel Blount — In the three years since her mother’s death, widower Hoyt Bradley’s daughter, Jess, hasn’t spoken—until she suddenly begs him to save her favorite bookstore from closing. Hoyt is desperate to hear his daughter’s voice again, but he and the bookstore’s pretty owner, Anna Delaney, share a less-than-friendly past. Working together is complicated enough…but can they avoid falling in love? (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

A Heart Surrendered by Joy K. Massenburge — Since her teens, pastor’s daughter Sharonda Peterson devoted her life to church service and solitude after the one night she gave Carl Ray Everhart everything. Sobered by a near-death experience, prodigal Carl returns home from an acting and singing career to serve as the worship leader at Sheronda’s church, and she finds that it takes every ounce of her resolve to resist his pursuits … not to mention memories that threaten to overturn the delicate balance she’s created. Can she finally surrender the one thing she’s tried all these years to protect: her heart? (Contemporary Romance from Harambee Press [Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas])

Starting Anew by Melanie D. Snitker — He’s afraid to trust. She has a secret that could change everything between them. Will they let go of their fear, or allow it to rob them of their chance at happiness? (Contemporary Romance, Independently Published)

Historical:

Underestimating Miss Cecilia by Carolyn Miller — Can shy, sweet Cecilia overcome her family’s prejudice to see a future with the recently returned prodigal son from next door? (Historical from Kregel Publications)

Benaiah: Might Man of God by PH Thompson — A novel of Biblical, historical fiction about Benaiah, one of King David’s mighty men, examining the premise: What happens when the king’s most obedient soldier is issued a wicked command? (Historical/Biblical from Word Alive Press)

Historical Romance:

Waltz with Destiny by Catherine Ulrich Brakefield — When the men and women of World War II marched off to war, they didn’t know what lay ahead. All they knew was that upon their young and inexperienced shoulders rested the plight of the free world. (Historical Romance from CrossRiver Media Group)

Thimbles and Threads by Mary Davis, Grace Hitchcock, Suzanne Norquist, and Liz Tolsma — Enjoy four historical romances that celebrate the arts of sewing and quilting. When Tilly, a schoolteacher; Alice, a bridal shop owner; Sarah, a seamstress; and Melissa, a rag doll designer, put needle and thread to fabric, will their talents lead to the surprising gift of love? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Refiner’s Fire by J.M. Hochstetler
Will the promise their hearts cling to finally find joyful fulfillment, or will war’s refining fire separate them forever? (Historical Romance from Sheaf House Publishers)

Where Dandelions Bloom by Tara Johnson — To escape an arranged marriage, Cassie Kendrick enlists in the Union army as a man, taking the name Thomas Turner. On the battlefields of the Civil War, keeping her identity a secret is only the beginning of her problems, especially after she meets Gabriel Avery, a handsome young photographer. Anxious to make his mark on the world and to erase past guilt, Gabriel works with renowned photographer Matthew Brady to capture images from the front lines of the war. As Gabriel forges friendships along the way, he wonders what the courageous, unpredictable Thomas Turner is hiding. Battling betrayal, their own personal demons, and a country torn apart by war, can Cassie and Gabriel forgive themselves and trust their futures to the God who births hope and healing in the darkest places? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

The Express Bride by Kimberly Woodhouse — Jacqueline Rivers manages a Pony Express station in 1860 Utah territory after her father’s death. There are daily stresses placed on her in this unconventional role—and now a government official is asking her to sniff out counterfeiters. When Elijah Johnson passes through on the stage while on an exhausting quest to find his boss’s heir, he doesn’t want to leave the beguiling station manager. In fact, he may never leave when caught in the crossfire of the territory’s criminal activities. Can she remain strong when secrets of the past and present are finally unearthed? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing)

Romantic Suspense:

Legacy Rejected by Robin Patchen — She’s not giving up her home, no matter what threats come against her. Realtor Ginny Lamont’s family has abandoned her, leaving her with nothing but a warning that she’s in danger. But Ginny’s built a home in New Hampshire. After a childhood of nomadic living, she’s not running again, certainly not because of some nameless, baseless threat. Real estate developer Kade Powers is thrilled to go out with Nutfield’s beautiful new real estate agent. But the prowler they surprise after their first date offers a glimpse into Ginny’s past and the legacy of lies her parents left her with. She brings a mystery, one he’s determined to help her solve. With Kade’s help, Ginny searches for the truth of her parents’ criminal activity while her enemies close in. When mobsters show up in her quaint New England town, will she find a way to bring them down, or will she lose the home—and the man—she’s come to love? (Romantic Suspense, Independently Published)

Suspense:

Storm Rising by Ronie Kendig — Mentioned in the pages of the Old Testament but lost to history, the Book of the Wars has resurfaced, and its pages hold secrets–and dangers–never before seen on earth. Tasked with capturing the ancient text, former Navy SEAL Leif Metcalfe is once more given command of his own team. But their best efforts are ruined when a notorious Bulgarian operative known as Viorica snatches the volume right out from under them. Iskra “Viorica” Todorova is determined to use the book to secure the thing that matters most–freedom. But a series of strange storms erupts around the globe, and the coming dangers foretold in the text threaten crops, lives, and entire nations. Though both are haunted by secrets of their past and neither trusts the other, Leif and Iskra must form an uneasy alliance to thwart impending disaster. However, the truth hidden in centuries-old words could unleash a storm of their own destruction. (Suspense from Bethany House [Baker])

Speculative:

The Story Raider by Lindsay A. Franklin — Deceiving an empire is a treacherous game. Tanwen and the Corsyth weavers race to collect the strands of an ancient cure that might save Gryfelle. But Tanwen has a secret–Gryfelle isn’t the only one afflicted by the weaver’s curse. As Queen Braith struggles to assert her rule, a new arrival throws her tenuous claim to the Tirian throne into question. Braith’s heart is turned upside down, and she’s not sure she can trust anyone–least of all herself. The puppet master behind Gareth’s rise to power has designs on Tanwen and the story weavers, and will stop at nothing to reclaim the throne. A plot to incite the angry peasants of Tir takes shape, and those dearest to Tanwen will be caught in the crossfire. As the fight for Tir consumes the realm, no one can remain innocent. (Speculative from Enclave Publishing)

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