I snapped the above photo during a candlelight stroll through Niagara-on-the-Lake this past weekend–a beautiful reminder of the most precious gift we can ever receive.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.” John 3:16-17
May His light shine through you this holiday season.
I’m taking a blogging holiday for the rest of December but hope to “see” you here again in the New Year. Or on Facebook (posts in the sidebar of blog) before then.
I’m delighted to introduce you to Maggie K. Black, another Canadian author new to Love Inspired. Although I’ve never met Maggie, she actually lives only a couple of hours away from me! And we hope to change that not-meeting part very soon.
Here’s what I’ve learned about her so far…
Tell us a little about yourself:
I moved around a lot when I was growing up. There was a lot of instability, and not a lot of access to good books. So I started trying to write my own. When I was in my late teens I decided to go into journalism, because I love meeting new people and telling stories. I’m really thankful for 15+ years I spent as a journalist, because of the people I got to know and the places I got to go. It gave me a lot to write about. I’ve always known in my gut that my deepest dream was to write novels, but it wasn’t until my daughters were born, that I finally took the time to really do it.
Tell us about your latest book. What inspired you to write this particular book?:
Killer Assignment is about a journalist named Katie who is being pursued by ruthless kidnappers. Our hero is a war-zone engineer who’s running from his own past.
The whole concept actually started as a bit of a dare from my former coworker Paul. My writing work has taken me all over the world, and at the time I was with for a technical charity that works in the Middle East and Africa. Some of the engineers were sitting around talking about their most dangerous moments—kidnappings, robberies, stuff like that. (Truth be told, I probably put them up to it). One of them dared me to write a romance book where the hero was a dashing engineer who’d gone through all these things. … and wouldn’t you know, the idea stuck with me, so I did.
That’s where Mark comes from. Katie is based more on me, and on the struggles I’ve had feeling trapped in a situation which wasn’t quite right for me.
Her name comes from Taming of the Shrew actually, because while I deeply love Shakespeare I have always hated how that particular play strips the heroine of her strength and voice when she finds love. I’ve always been determined to create women who find love, healing, security and faith without ever losing their strength and determination. One of my favorite things about Killer Assignment is where we know Katie is headed at the end of the book. I’ve gotten more comments on that than on anything else in the book.
What are you working on right now?:
I’m very excited to announce my next book—DEADLINE—will be out in the summer of 2014 from Harlequin’s Love Inspired Suspense. Our journalist is a disgraced journalist who’s in a race against time to expose a ruthless serial killer. Our heroine is the killer’s intended target. But she’s carrying secrets of her own, and was warned by police not to trust her life to the handsome, daredevil reporter. It’s set on Manitoulin Island.
How do you get to know your characters?:
I actually assign each of my characters a theme song, which, for me, sums up how they’re feeling. Then I listen to that song when I’m trying to get into the character’s head.
Oh, wow, that’s cool. I just started doing that with the last book I wrote. Could you share an example?
For Mark that song is actually Africa by Toto.
“Gonna take a lot to drag me away from you. There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do.”
Mark is willing to battle an entire army to protect Katie if that’s what it takes. In Killer Assignment the threat keeps escalating, until they’re alone against an entire group of armed kidnappers. In that moment Mark makes the one call he’d sworn to himself he’d never make, because it’s the only way he can think of to save Katie’s life.
That’s a pivotal moment in his story.
Do you put yourself into your main character, or do you find yourself borrowing from family or friends as your characters develop?
Usually each character I write is based on a handful of real people I know, including parts of myself. And I tend to know the characters so much better than ever appears in the book. I could write a whole book just on Ethan for example—I know him that well. Celia and Sunny as well.
(Oh, and while “Katie” came from Shakespeare, and both “Armor” and “Shield” came from the sense of closing yourself off from others for your own protection—“Randall” comes from the purple monster in Monsters Inc!)
Is there any scene in your book that came from a real-life happening?
The attempted kidnapping Katie survives at the beginning of the book is based on something terrifying that happened to me as a teenager.
For me, writing is one of the tools I’ve used to transform terrible memories into something awesome and life-giving. One of the things I particularly wanted to touch on in Deadline is how we can be held back from living the life God wants for us by traumatic things in our past, and how to get the help we need to move though them.
That is an awesome testimony to how you’ve done that yourself, Maggie.
What are your favorite themes to write about?
I am passionate about people figuring out who they were meant to be, and learning how to love and accept themselves. There’s nothing I love more than writing about people learning who God has designed them to be, and the absolute joy which can come from that. At the end of Killer Assignment, Mark and Katie haven’t just found love, they’ve find a new purpose and calling for their lives. That excites me.
Does your faith affect your writing? How?
Faith affects my whole life, and in turn my life affects my writing.
When I first started I was really held back by always questioning what God wanted me to write, as if God was on the loudspeaker and I was just the secretary taking down dictation.
More recently I’ve come to realize that God designed me to be a person who writes, and that when I write I am pouring myself into doing what I was made to do.
I now think of God more like a parent who hands us this amazing craft and paint box full of talents and gifts, and then actually has faith in us as we learn how to use them to create amazing things.
Do you have a favorite scripture? If so, why is it your favorite?
When I was writing Killer Assignment I had Psalm 139 running through my head—especially the line “Oh Lord, you have searched me and you know me.” Today, the passage on my mind is from Matthew 12 and also Isaiah 42. In The Message, referring to Jesus, it says, “He won’t brush aside the bruised and the hurt and he won’t disregard the small and insignificant, but he’ll steadily and firmly set things right.” I love that aspect of God.
Could you share something about your day-to-day life that might help a reader to feel as though they know you a little better.
I have two amazing daughters, who are both in elementary school. Every morning, after I walk them to school, I walk my dog through the park to this little creek which runs behind my house. I try to pause on the bridge long enough to still all the nagging, negative voices in my head, and focus my heart on who I am, and who God has called me to be. Then I go home and plug into writing until it’s time to pick the girls up and be a mom again. At night, I usually try to go to Curves or Zumba right before bed. There’s something about dancing badly but happily with a group of other ladies at the end of the day which really energizes me!
Where can fans find you or your books on the internet?
Readers can find Killer Assignment at Amazon and elsewhere.
Your Turn: Has anything happened in your life that would make a great story?
P.S. My newsletter with this year’s Christmas romance mini-novella went out to subscribers yesterday. The link didn’t work so I sent a second email with one that did, and…I’ve since fixed the other so that both should work now. I’m sorry for any frustration that caused! If you’ve subscribed and don’t see the email in your inbox, please check your spam folder. And it’s not too late to receive the story. Click here to subscribe
This year the Love Inspired has welcomed two new Canadian authors to our family.
Both had releases this past summer, which I missed, because I was eyeball deep in meeting deadlines, and enjoying my new grandbaby. (Have you noticed that I mention him every chance I get? )
So with apologies for my tardiness, I’m delighted to introduce you to the first, Patricia Johns, who hails from Northern Alberta, where some of those rumors that we live in igloos might just originate!
While Patty is new to Love Inspired, she is not new to publishing. In fact she already has 13 books out, in various genres, with small presses under her maiden name Patty Froese.
And no, Johns is not her married name. Her married name is Patty Nithemuka, but since that’s unpronounceable, she chose the pen name of Patricia Johns, because her hubby’s first name is John.
Her debut Love Inspired contemporary, HIS UNEXPECTED FAMILY, released in July 2013.
I invited her to answer a few questions so we could get to know her better…
First, tell us a little about yourself.
As you said, I’m a Canadian living in Alberta, Canada. And yes, the winters are long and cold, but that suits me just fine since I write full time and can stay on the right side of the window. Not all of Canada is as cold as our neck of woods, for the record. I’ve been writing seriously since I graduated from my BA in English Literature. I horrified my parents by quitting my sensible full-time job and taking a part time gig that paid just enough to rent a small room and eat on the cheap. It paid off, because I wrote my first published novel in that little, leaky room, and never looked back.
I’ve written in other genres from Ancient Christian historical to kids books, but Harlequin has always been my goal. I’m thrilled to have my first romance out!
Tell us how you got The Call.
I got The Call on my birthday. I was getting over a nasty flu, so I sounded miserable, but I was over the moon to be offered a contract! My little boy was tugging on me for attention, my fever was soaring, and I was perfectly thrilled.
What’s the single biggest thing in your writing life you can point to as contributing to getting The Call?
I learned early on to keep trying and trying, and if I hadn’t stuck to it, editing and re-editing, even completely rewriting the story, I wouldn’t have finally gotten that contract. It all comes down to being willing to do whatever it takes.
So true. What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started on your writing journey?
It’s actually a matter of what I’m glad I didn’t know back then. I’m glad I didn’t know exactly how much work it would be to get here, because I might have just crumpled in despair. It was worth it, though. I love the novel writing process, so it’s been a lot of fun along the way.
What are you working on now? Is there another LI book on the horizon?
There IS another book on the horizon. I’ve been offered a contract for a cowboy romance with Love Inspired. (I don’t know a release date yet.) Come by my blog to stay posted! As for what I’m working on now… more Love Inspired novel ideas, of course!
That’s awesome! Congratulations, Patricia. And thank you for being today’s guest.
Blog readers, as Love Inspired fans know, the books go out of print very quickly and then are only available used or as Ebooks. Thankfully, despite my tardiness in inviting Patricia to my blog, His Unexpected Family is still available in paperback from online retailers.
Here’s the back cover blurb to whet your appetite:
When a baby is dropped into her life without warning, Emily Shaw is overjoyed. It’s a bit odd that her distant cousin named single Emily as guardian, but she’s thrilled all the same. She never thought she’d get to be a mom. Another unexpected blessing is that baby Cora arrives in the arms of police chief Greg Taylor. Despite all three of them instantly bonding, Greg has promised himself he’ll never be a father. And now Emily’s smooth-talking relative is challenging her right to raise Cora. Will Emily have to make an impossible decision between the child she already loves and the man who loves her?
I hope all of you have a fabulous week. I’m looking forward to my daughter returning this weekend after 3 months in Australia!
Oh, oh, oh and…
There’s still a couple of days left to enter my international giveaway for a bunch of different books, including advanced copies and the option to gift your prize to a friend. Click here: ENTER GIVEAWAY
Your Turn: Any questions for Patty?
P.S. Just in case you missed my FB announcements or notices around the blogosphere this past week… next Sunday, I will be emailing all my newsletter subscribers an exclusive Christmas romance mini-novella. If you’d like to receive it, please subscribe by clicking here: http://bit.ly/OrchardNews
Discover a whole new world of Christian fiction authors
I have invited the creator of the newly revamped Christian Fiction Site, Soul Inspirationz, to share a bit of the site’s interesting history and exciting future. It is an awesome resource for readers and will soon become a go-to site to sort through the exploding indie market in Christian fiction. At the end of the post, we’ll also be sharing an exciting giveaway we’re hosting at her site.
Hi, my name is Ellie and I run Soul Inspirationz // The Christian Fiction Site. I live in New Zealand, and thanks to the internet, have been able to express my love of Christian fiction over the years with readers all over the world by sharing what I find on the website.
It all started back in 1998, when I was an internet newbie, and I watched someone else make a “homepage” as they were known back then. I saw the HTML code and what it did, and thought, “I can do that!” So of course, I did. So, just like everyone else at the time, I started a homepage about me and the things I liked. But just like everyone else’s homepage, it was rather boring. I wanted to share more about what I loved – which was Christian fiction and music.
At the time, there were a few websites that shared information about CCM music, so it wasn’t very original to duplicate something that was already being done. It was easier to link to those sites from my homepage and focus on my other great passion… fiction. But, there were no publisher websites to look at. Not a single author website. No Facebook. No Goodreads. Not even MySpace was available then. Just Amazon.com. So, I started with the authors I loved most at that time – Janette Oke and Gilbert Morris. I created pages that listed their books. And it really didn’t take long to complete those lists (Gilbert Morris was still only halfway through writing his House of Winslow series back then).
At that time, if I wanted to hear more about the next book my other favourite authors were bringing out, I had to search long and hard for them – and realised it would be the same for everyone else as well. Working voluntarily in a Christian bookstore here, I had the advantage of having access to the publisher catalogues, so knew what to look for, but of course, the average reader did not have such information at their fingertips. And that’s when the idea to create a website listing monthly Christian fiction releases was born.
It started out small, simply called “Ellie’s World of Christian Fiction”, but by 2002, the monthly listings of new releases were getting a lot of attention from readers, authors, librarians, and even publishers, so the site was renamed “The Christian Fiction Site” and given a new look. Still, a primitive look compared to today’s standards, but back then, the only way to create a free website was the hard way – typing in the HTML code from scratch. In addition to listing the new releases, I had the opportunity to interview a few Christian novelists as well.
By 2007, I had a full-time job that took all my time and energy, so unfortunately had to stop updating the website as it was too time-consuming, and I couldn’t keep up with the monthly lists. At about that same time, though, other sites were established and were able to pick up where I left off. And although my efforts were gone from the website, my love for Christian fiction remained. (You can still see the old website in its archived state here.)
Just over a year ago I found myself with enough time on my hands to investigate re-establishing the website. With advances in website creation during the past five years, I found that if I chose the right option, it didn’t need to be as time-consuming as it once had been. So, after a bit of research, I settled on Weebly and started the new website on Christmas Day 2012. By mid-January the new site was launched, rebranded as Soul Inspirationz // The Christian Fiction Site, and the first author’s interview with Julie Lessman was posted on the all-new blog.
(now with giveaways) were fun, by August I noticed that unlike I had previously thought, there was still nowhere on the internet listing monthly fiction releases like I used to do them. So…
in September, the first of the monthly new releases posts was published, complete with book giveaways, and a new era was born. CBA Trade titles are listed at the beginning of each month, and Category Fiction is listed in the second half of the month (Love Inspired and Heartsong Presents). A new section focussing on novel releases has also since been added to the main site.
was added in August, and has become a hub for readers to share what they love about the books they read, and ask other readers about authors and novels they are not familiar with.
So, what does the future hold?
With a shift in the way novels are published in recent times, there is a whole new frontier to be explored with the showcasing of
indie Christian novels.
Without the publishing houses to screen the novels for content and quality, readers rely on the honest reviews of others to determine whether a title is worth reading or not. And without the marketing prowess of the publishing houses, authors are struggling to get their novels “seen” by the audience they are intended for.
So this is where Soul Inspirationz // The Christian Fiction Site can step in.
Over the coming months a new feature service will be available for readers to find quality indie Christian novels to read, and for indie Christian novelists to list and advertise their titles to readers.
Once there is something in place, you will be the first to know
I hope you take the time to visit and browse through all that Soul Inspirationz has to offer. Dozens of Author Portfolios have been added, with hundreds more to come. Featured Authors have been spotlighted all year, with at least one scheduled every week. Sign up to receive the blog notifications by email, so you don’t miss out on any of these Featured Author Interviews or the monthly new release listings. You can also find Soul Inspirationz on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Have Your Say:
In the comments section below: Let me know what you love to see in a website dedicated to Christian fiction. What would you like to see more of? Is there anything you would like to see less of? What would make your browsing for your next read easier? Are book reviews helpful or do they influence your reading choices in a negative way? What about book trailers, do they work for you? I would love to hear your thoughts!
Giveaway for Sandra Orchard’s Deadly Devotion and Blind Trust
Soul Inspirationz is hosting a rafflecopter giveaway for a copy of Deadly Devotion for you or a friend of your choice, and an advanced copy of Blind Trust, once available, plus additional prizes contingent on the number of entrants. You get more chances by doing things like sharing the post, liking Sandra’s FB page etc., but there are 2 mandatory questions to answer to enter. You can view the copter here or at Soul Inspirationz. All entries are thrown into the same hat. (Giveaway void where prohibited.)
Please spare two minutes today, and join me in remembering the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our freedoms.
This music video is a poignant reminder of its value and makes me cry every time I watch it.
A Pittance of Time by Terry Kelly
In Flanders Fields
My dad serving in the British army as a young man in the early ’50s
In Flanders fields the poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row, That mark our place; and in the sky The larks, still bravely singing, fly Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are Dead. Short days ago We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved, and were loved, and now we lie In Flanders fields.
Take up your quarrel with the foe; To you from falling hands we throw The torch; be yours to hold it high. If ye break faith with us who die We shall not sleep, though poppies grow In Flanders fields.
(written by Liet.-Col. John McCrae, a Canadian medical officer serving at Ypres)
An American woman, Miss Moina Michael, wrote We Shall Keep the Faith in response and wore a red poppy as a way to keep faith with the war dead. She later proposed the idea of selling poppies to raise funds to help ex-serviceman, a tradition continued to this day.
Debut suspense author, Janet Sketchley, shared these simple tips in her recent author newsletter and I thought they were so good, I asked her if I might share them here. In these times, when so many forms of entertainment compete for people’s attention, we need to let others know that there are entertaining, wholesome and inspirational alternatives.
Reading a good book?
Talk about it, in person and online. Just quick comments, nothing scripted or fancy.
Finished reading a good book?
Consider a quick review on Amazon, Chapters, Goodreads or wherever else you have an account. Tell what you liked/disliked and why, so others will know if it’s something that matters to them too. Please, no spoilers!
Share your copy with a friend, or donate it to your public or church library.
Say hello to the author on social media.
Writing is a lonely business. If you see an online interview or review, leave a friendly comment. As well as encouraging the author, comments can make the site more visible to others. This goes for Facebook posts too.
Speaking of Facebook and other social media, remember the “like” and “share” buttons.
If you share a post or a link on Facebook, write something about it in the status part of the message. If only the link address shows up, people aren’t very motivated to read it.
I love how she’s connected the theme of her book to non-fiction helps such as Freedom From Fear by Grace Fox in this offer.
Speaking of showing love to authors, I want you to know how much I appreciate you taking the time to visit my blog, and those who leave comments here and on FB and who write me encouraging notes or who write reviews or share my bookmarks or my book or ask their library to order it in etc. etc. etc. I feel very blessed by the support my readers have expressed.
Your Turn: What’s the most creative or influential way you’ve shared Christian fiction with others?
Girl with books image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Heaven’s Prey is a novel of suspense and redemption, so let’s have some fun with a “blog chase.” Follow the trail between Oct. 31 and Nov. 7, 2013 for a chance to win a print copy of Heaven’s Prey.
You’re at the third stop in the chase. Welcome! You’ll need to visit each stop so you’ll know the answers for the quiz at the end … that’s how you enter the prize draw. To start at the beginning, click the arrow:
Back to the start
Let’s peek into the story world:
Disconnected images swirled in Ruth’s mind. Susan as a golden-haired six-year-old, in a blue flannel nightgown with white kittens on it, glowing with excitement over her first sleepover with Auntie Ruth and Uncle Tony. Susan the poised young woman, crossing the stage to accept her nursing diploma. The frayed teddy bear she’d taken with her to Toronto.
Frantic questions rang in a mental voice-over to the memory collage. What about my dream? God, where were You? Or couldn’t You do anything after all?
Tony’s breath warmed her hair. In the midst of the blackness, Ruth blessed this man who never said “I told you so.” She wrapped both arms around his thick waist and held on.
Ruth’s eyes were so dry they burned. Part of her heart begged God for help, but part held back. Her niece was dead. Murdered. And God … God hadn’t spoken after all. Hadn’t intervened.
Stepping out of the story …
Did you know? The ship on a Canadian dime is Nova Scotia’s most famous schooner, the Bluenose. (Link: Official Bluenose site)
Photo credit: Janet Sketchley
Heaven’s Prey releases November 1, 2013. Visit Choose NOW Publishing to read a sample chapter … just don’t forget to come back to the chase! Preorder links are on the Choose NOW site as well.
This week, I’m delighted to introduce a brand new inspirational romance writer to you!
Kristin Wallace writes stories filled with love, laughter and a leap of faith. When she’s not writing her next novel, she works as an advertising copywriter for clients that have included the Miami Marlins, Discovery Networks, Radisson Seven Seas Cruises, The Peabody Hotel and Sea World. She also enjoys singing in the church choir and worship team and playing flute in a community orchestra.
Her debut novel, Marry Me, represents a 17-year journey toward publication.
Growing up Kristin devoured books like bags of Dove Dark Chocolate. Her first Golden Book led to Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nancy Drew, Encyclopedia Brown, C.S. Lewis and the Sweet Valley High series.
Later, she discovered romance novels and fell in love all over again. So it’s no surprise that Kristin would one day try her hand at writing them.
Marry Me is a contemporary inspirational romance set in the fictional, Southern town of Covington Falls, Georgia.
Here’s the blurb:
She’d vowed never to fall in love…
Julia Richardson is no fan of weddings. A lifetime of watching her parents treat relationships like the flavor of the month has taught her that love is for fools. Then she learns her former stepsister is having a crisis with her pregnancy. The crisis has Julia returning to the small Southern town – and the family – she’s been avoiding for years. Before she knows it, Julia’s been pressed into service running her stepsister’s wedding planning business.
Julia doesn’t know a garter from a garden hose, but now she must navigate couples along the bumpy path down the aisle – despite wardrobe malfunctions, killer bees, and plenty of near disasters. In the midst of it all, Julia makes the most unexpected discovery of all…Love, with Seth Graham, the widowed local minister! Julia’s been running from love and everything spiritual for most of her life. It’s not until she finds the courage to stop running that she finds her own “I Do” moment.
Many writers choose a theme song for their work in progress, to help them get into the mood of the story or their character. After all music can evoke a wide range of emotions. Fear. Joy. Heartache. A rallying to action. A frenetic sense of spinning out of control. All of which are wonderful fodder for a rewarding reading experience. Right?
So, this past week, I decided to experiment with it for my current wip.
I’m working on the firefighter story for Love Inspired Suspense that I’ve mentioned here before. The heroine is in witness protection and, of course, the bad guys have located her. She feels as if her life will never be her own again, certainly will never be the life she’d dreamed for herself. So…
I chose the song I Dreamed a Dream as sung by Susan Boyle for my heroine’s theme song.
Each morning before I start writing, I play the song, and yes, sing along, imagining myself as my heroine–imagining the dreams she has that she believes are lost forever.
The music stirs in me all the emotions my heroine is feeling and that I want to get onto the page. And I find that it really helps get my creative juices flowing.
I don’t write with the song playing in the background. In fact, I never write with music with lyrics playing in the background (even if what’s playing is an instrumental version) because the lyrics will play in my head and distract me. I simply use the song to kick start my writing.
Your Turn: When and why do you listen to music?
Image courtesy of fotographic1980 at FreeDigitalPhotos.net