Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Guest Post by Sarah Loudin Thomas

A few years ago, I had the privilege of stumbling across a pre-published author's blog. Sarah Loudin Thomas was at once genuine, kind, and welcoming. I loved getting to know her on her blog, Appalachian Blessings, and when I finally met her in person at the 2013 ACFW Conference, I immediately thought she had the biggest, most contagious smile I've ever seen. She is a gifted author, and a wonderful friend. Her debut story, Miracle in a Dry Season, has done exceptionally well, and I'm sure her second will be just as well received. I'm thrilled to have her on my blog today! She's talking about true love--and not the romantic kind...
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Until the Harvest is a love story. Oh, sure, there’s romance, but that’s not what I’m talking about. It’s ultimately a story about the greatest love there is—God’s love and how he expresses it through . . .people. My main characters have given up on love for a variety of reasons, but eventually they realize just how critical love is and how it can feel just as good to give it as it does to receive.
While I was writing this book we had a lively discussion in my Sunday School class about what it means to love one other. You know, like Jesus loved. Turns out it’s hard to do, loving like that. Pastor, author, and speaker Chip Ingram defines love like this: “The real me meeting real needs for the right reason in the right way.”
Which is harder than it sounds (and it sounds hard!). And yet the very week following that discussion was jam-packed with LOVE. I wisely made note of some of those moments (cause it’s so easy to forget!):
• My husband spent his birthday representing our church at a meeting in a city two hours away. Personally, I’m a big fan of my birthday and the idea of giving it up like that, well . . . that takes love!
• While we were at the meeting a friend with a pet-sitting business came to walk and feed our dog. She left a note saying, “This one’s on me.” After an eight-hour trip on a Saturday, let me tell you, that most definitely felt like love.
• I delivered the children’s sermon for a friend who was sick. I asked each child to say what he or she is thankful for in a lesson about being thankful. They gave great answers–family, food, Jesus, the Bible. After we prayed one little girl leaned over and said, “I’m thankful for you.”
• We went to see a 92-year-old neighbor who was in the hospital. We arrived about an hour before she was being taken to surgery. Her family said our timing was perfect–distracting her from the procedure she wasn’t looking forward to. She held our hands and said, “I love you so much,” over and over.
And there’s the thing. Throughout that week I had opportunities to give love, to receive love, and to watch others love. And no matter where I fit in the equation, I benefited. Like Margaret and Henry in Until the Harvest I experienced firsthand how love is a fire that warms everyone in its vicinity. And I stayed toasty warm.
How about you? How have you experienced love either by giving or receiving?
John 13:34-35 – “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
About Sarah: 
Sarah Loudin Thomas grew up on a 100-acre farm in French Creek, WV, the seventh generation to live there. Her Christian fiction is set in West Virginia and celebrates the people, the land, and the heritage of Appalachia. Her first novel, Miracle in a Dry Season, released August 2014 through Bethany House. Book #2, Until the Harvest, released May 2015. Sarah is represented by Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Literary Agency.

A graduate of Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC, Sarah once dreamed of being a marine scientist. But her love for words won out and she has spent much of her career in public relations and marketing. She currently oversees fundraising and communications for a Christian children’s home in Black Mountain, NC.

Sarah and her husband Jim live in the mountains of Western North Carolina with Thistle–the canine equivalent to a personal trainer pushing them to hike, run, and throw sticks. Sarah is active in her local church and enjoys cooking and–you guessed it–reading.

About Until the Harvest:
Take This Journey of Broken Souls Restored
and Tentative Hearts Brought Fully to Life
When family tragedy derails Henry Phillips's college studies, he's left unmoored and feeling abandoned. The only things that can tamp down his grief are the family farm, his fiddle, and an unexpected friendship with sweet but unusual preteen Mayfair Hoffman.

Unfortunately, Mayfair's older sister, Margaret, despite her spray of freckles and cute, turned-up nose, has a completely different effect. His grandmother's helper, she's always around, ready to push his buttons, and it seems at first that she doesn't care about his troubles.
Henry soon realizes, though, that Margaret's facing her own struggles. Mayfair's health and unique gift sit at the heart of those worries. Henry and Margaret soon find themselves relying on each other as potential tragedy collides with growing hope in a warm story of family bonds and the surprising ways healing finds us all. 
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Sarah, thank you for being my guest! Sarah has graciously offered to give away a copy of Until the Harvest to one lucky winner. Please comment on this post and enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win.
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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Guest Post by J. L. Mbewe (Jennette Mbewe)

Today I welcome a special guest. Jennette Mbewe and I met years and years ago in our hometown at a homeschool function. We became good friends and both shared our love of writing. A few years ago, we reconnected on Facebook and Jennette offered me my very first critique. Since then, I've watched her writing career grow and celebrated with her as she released Secrets Kept, which she'll share more about below. Thank you for stopping by, Jennette!
~ ~ ~ ~
When Gabe asked me if I would stop by her blog and share a bit about my writing, I was honored and a little nervous. As you all know, she writes inspirational historical romance, and she is amazing! I, on the other hand, write fantasy.


Yeah, that’s what I said.

But a good adventure with just the right amount of romance makes for a great read, regardless if the characters are elves and dwarves or cowboys and lumberjacks. Right?

I discovered my love for writing and reading like many other authors, when I was young, but never pursued it seriously until God spoke to me as an adult. I had been reading through the parable of the talents, and I felt God asking me, “What are you doing with what I gave you?”

“Um, what did you give me?” I had been so busy looking at everyone else and their talents that I had overlooked what God had given me. Writing.

I had no clue where to start, but I knew I wanted to create a story like Pilgrim’s Progress meets Lord of the Rings, but instead of coming to know Christ like Christian did in Bunyan's story, the characters would be walking out their faith. That the world would see a reflection of God, His principles working out in the lives of the characters throughout the story. But I didn’t want it to be obvious. Thus the story that would one day become Secrets Kept was born.

And then for the next ten years I learned about plots and characters arcs, head-hopping, and the industry. The hard way. And I'm still learning!

So why fantasy?

As a child I read almost anything I could get my hands on, but there was something about fantasy that drew me in. Chronicles of Narnia anyone? When I read fantasy, I am reminded of the awe inspiring God we serve. A God who created the world, named the stars, parted the Red Sea, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, and raised people from the dead. The God who set aside His glorious immortality and took on mortal flesh to live among us and redeem us. How crazy amazing is that?

When it came to writing, I knew exactly what genre I would write. Fantasy. The ability to create worlds, creatures, and wonders that reflected our world in some ways yet transported us to a place where the abstract became more tangible, the invisible more visible. To write stories where characters embark on epic adventures, discovering who they are and their true love amid great peril and fantastic landscapes, and where we can find echoes of truth, hope, and encouragement to live life to the fullest. What better way to portray the battle of good and evil?

And that is what I hope to accomplish through my writing. To create an adventure that burns on in your heart. If you'd like to learn more about Secrets Kept and the world of Nälu, just stop by my blog!

Thank you so much, Gabe, for having me!
~ ~ ~ ~
It was my pleasure, Jennette! Thank you for joining me.

Jennette has agreed to give away a copy of Secrets Kept to one lucky winner! Please enter the Rafflecopter below to be eligible to win.

About Secrets Kept

With a curse, she will build an army. With the dagger, she will undo the last sacrifice. But first the sorceress must find the secret keeper.

Torn from her homeland and thrust into a betrothal against her wishes, Ayianna learns her family has a deadly secret that now has her on the run. She joins forces with Kael, an embittered half-elf, and Saeed, an elderly High Guardian, to seek answers to her father’s death, the destruction of Dagmar, and the plains people’s bizarre behavior.

Ayianna discovers there is more at stake here than just her mother’s disappearance and her familial duty to her betrothed. The sorceress has cursed the plains people, and it is a race against time to release them before the sorceress resurrects an ancient evil.

About Jennette
Writing as J. L. Mbewe, Jennette is an author, artist, mother, wife, but not always in that order. Born and raised in Minnesota, she now braves the heat of Texas, but pines for the Northern Lights and the lakes of home every autumn. She loves trying to capture the abstract and make it concrete. She is currently living her second childhood with her wonderful husband and two precious children who don’t seem to mind her eclectic collections of rocks, shells, and swords, among other things. Here, between reality and dreams, you will find her busily creating worlds inhabited by all sorts of fantasy creatures and characters, all questing about and discovering true love amid lots of peril.
Her debut novel, Secrets Kept, was nominated for the 2014 Clive Staples Award.
World of Nälu

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Friday, May 8, 2015

The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection Blog Hop - Kathleen Y'Barbo

Today is the final day in The Most Eligible Bachelor Blog Hop Tour and I have the honor of welcoming author Kathleen Y'Barbo to my blog. Here's a little about Kathleen's story, and about her. Don't forget to enter the grand prize giveaway at the end of this post!


Bachelor's Name: Merritt “Rit” Baker, youngest of the Baker clan
Story Setting/Era: 1889, New Orleans and Texas

What makes him so eligible?
Rit is the heir of Baker Shipping, and when he’s not running his father’s company, he’s on horseback at the Baker Ranch in Texas

Does he want to be eligible, or is it something thrust upon him?
Definitely thrust upon him ... his father’s will has obligated him and his brothers to marry before they can receive their inheritance. His brothers quickly complied, but he is reluctant to marry for anything but love.

Who are the ladies contending for the bachelor?
Half the unmarried ladies in New Orleans! And Octavia Derby, heiress disguised as a middle-class typist with no experience. Because her mother has convinced her she will never be loved for herself if it is known she is an heiress, the last thing she wants is to marry a man with money, or let it be known that she’s also wealthy, before she can find a man who’ll love her for herself.

What must the ladies do to win his hand?
Rit is beating them off with a stick. And he’s using Octavia to help!

Inspiration for the story: While doing research on acceptable careers for 1880s women other than teaching or acting as governess for another novel, I came across a story about typewriter girls. Basically the forerunner of today’s admin or secretary, these woman did exactly as it sounds: they typed. Unlike their modern counterparts, there was little to no interaction with clients. Rather, they were generally closeted away on some top floor with their typewriters and their assignments. I imagined how a wealthy heiress on the run from an arranged marriage might relish that sort of anonymity, even if she can’t figure out how to use a typewriter. As I played with that idea, Octavia was born.

About Kathleen
Author Kathleen Y’Barbo is a multiple Carol Award and RITA nominee of more than fifty novels with almost two million copies of her books in print. A tenth-generation Texan and certified family law paralegal, she has been nominated for a Career Achievement Award as well as a Reader’s Choice Award and several Top Picks by Romantic Times magazine. A member of ACFW, NINC, and a former member of the Texas Bar Association Paralegal Division, she is currently a proud military wife and an expatriate Texan cheering on her beloved Texas Aggies from north of the Red River. She is especially excited that her novel Sadie’s Secrets, has just been named the 2014 Inspirational Romance of the Year by Romantic Times Magazine.


Today is the last chance you'll have to enter the grand prize drawing for a fabulous gift basket by the nine authors of The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection. You can find the link here at Coffee Cups & Camisoles blog.

Here's a list of everything in the basket:1. Collapsible storage cube.
2. A box of Ghirardelli chocolates
3. A book of MN stories called Bring Warm Clothes
4. A DVD (Nim's Island, Night at the Museum, & Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium)
5. A Gifts in a Jar recipe book
6. A whimsical little book of Dr. Seuss quotes.
7. A CD of Victorian Love Songs
8. A vintage-dressed lady Christmas ornament
9. A jar of preserves
10. A packet of lovely note cards
11. A little treasure box
12. A stuffed cow.
13. Dangly, sparkly earrings
14. A Starbucks gift card
15. A cotton tea-towel with a vintage typewriter on it
16. A turquoise cotton tea-towel
17. An apron
18. A miniature post office counter
19. In infinity scarf and fingerless gloves (In colors inspired by Egypt.)
20. A sweet little notebook with a penny-farthing bicycle on the front.
21. A copy of The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection -- AUTOGRAPHED BY ALL NINE AUTHORS!

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection Blog Hop

Today I have the privilege of kicking off a fun blog hop! The authors of The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection are talking all about our bachelors this week (could it get any better than that?!?!), and giving away a fabulous gift basket to celebrate the release of our novella collection. Read to the bottom to see how you can enter!

To get the party started, here's a little about my story, Four Brides and a Bachelor, and my very eligible bachelor, Luke Longley.

Luke Longley is dedicated and passionate
about his work with the Chippewa Indians
in Northern Minnesota--but he's also a
rule-follower and bends to the will of the
Mission Board, who demand he find a wife
Luke is a missionary working on the Red Lake Mission in northern Minnesota in 1852. The missionary board has told Luke he must be married by the end of August, or return east, forfeiting over two years of work with the Chippewa Indians. Luke has heard a single female missionary is living a hundred and fifty miles down the Mississippi River at the Belle Prairie Mission. With nothing to lose, he takes a canoe downriver and when he arrives at Belle Prairie, he discovers there is not one single female, but four, and all are eager to marry!
Here are the four young ladies he encounters. Forgive their unsmiling faces. They were actually quite excited to meet the handsome missionary. :)

Genevieve Pinet is beautiful, hard-working, and
intelligent. But she's also very aloof and distant,
and Luke wonders if she'll open her heart to love.

Hazel Smith has the most mission
experience, but her practical personality
leaves Luke wondering if she'll find time
for the little pleasures in life.

Mary Cooper is filled with joy and merriment,
but Luke questions if she'll hold
up under the realities of frontier life.

Sarah Ellis has a gentle, kind spirit, and all the
mission workers love her, but she tends to
break rules set in place to keep her safe.
Luke is a rule-followers, and fears he cannot
marry a woman who doesn't do the same.
The story is set on Belle Prairie in central Minnesota, along the banks of the Mississippi River. The setting is a real place, where a real mission existed over a hundred and fifty years ago, and the premise of the story is real, as well. One of the actual women involved was named Harriet Nichols and she wrote a letter home to her brother about the incident. She said: "There was romance enough acted here to write as good a story as you will find in any novel."

The Mississippi near Belle Prairie

Belle Prairie today
In the fictionalized story, all four ladies have been given the same instructions by the mission board: marry, or return east. But none of them are eager to go back to their old lives. Luke not only represents a way for them to stay in Minnesota, but he's also handsome, hard-working, dedicated to his calling, and passionate about his faith.

Luke spends the week getting to know each woman, and over the course of several outings, his heart begins to fall for one of them...but will he overcome the obstacles that stand in the way of his happily-ever-after?

Now for some fun giveaways!

Hop over to the Coffee Cups & Camisoles blog (here), to enter the grand prize drawing pictured below, and don't forget to leave a comment on this post to be entered to win a signed copy of The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection from me! I'll draw a winner on Friday after 7:00 p.m. CST.

Stop by Author Shannon McNear's blog today to learn more about her eligible bachelor, too. You can find that here.

Here's a list of everything in the basket:
1. Collapsible storage cube.
2. A box of Ghirardelli chocolates
3. A book of MN stories called Bring Warm Clothes
4. A DVD (Nim's Island, Night at the Museum, & Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium)
5. A Gifts in a Jar recipe book
6. A whimsical little book of Dr. Seuss quotes.
7. A CD of Victorian Love Songs
8. A vintage-dressed lady Christmas ornament
9. A jar of preserves
10. A packet of lovely note cards
11. A little treasure box
12. A stuffed cow.
13. Dangly, sparkly earrings
14. A Starbucks gift card
15. A cotton tea-towel with a vintage typewriter on it
16. A turquoise cotton tea-towel
17. An apron
18. A miniature post office counter
19. In infinity scarf and fingerless gloves (In colors inspired by Egypt.)
20. A sweet little notebook with a penny-farthing bicycle on the front.
21. A copy of The Most Eligible Bachelor Collection -- AUTOGRAPHED BY ALL NINE AUTHORS!
Also, stop back here on Wednesday to meet one of the other authors from the collection, Kathleen Y'Barbo.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Interview with Kathryn Springer and Book Giveaway

Today I'm welcoming a new-to-me author, Kathryn Springer. Kathryn and I are represented by Books & Such Literary Agency. I'm excited to get to know Kathryn better and to share her latest release, Dandelion Field, here on my blog! Please help me welcome Kathryn.
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Welcome to my blog, Kathryn! I’m thrilled you stopped by to visit today and talk about your newest release, The Dandelion Field.
Thank you for inviting me, Gabrielle! I’m excited to be here, too!
For readers meeting you here for the first time, can you tell us a little about yourself and your publication story?
I’m a small town Midwestern girl:) My husband and I are empty-nesters now, but I started writing when our youngest child napped in the afternoon. Short stories fit best in that season of my life (probably because I only had short amounts of time to myself!) and I wrote several dozen stories that were published in BRIO magazine for teen girls. When our son started kindergarten, I half-teasingly said to my husband, “I suppose you want me to get a job now.” I’ll never forget that conversation or his response. He suggested I stay home and write a book because that’s what I’d always wanted to do. His support and blessing gave me the courage to try. HQN Love Inspired (then Steeple Hill) published my debut novel, Tested by Fire, twelve years ago. I’ve written 21 books for LI and recently made the foray into long contemporary romance with The Dandelion Field.
I also started writing when my youngest were napping (they are twin boys and were two years old at the time).

Can you give us a brief synopsis of The Dandelion Field and a sneak peek at your next release? 
I’d love to! After Raine’s dad walked out, Ginevieve Lightly has never stayed in one place very long. When the car dies in Banister Falls, Wisconsin, Gin promises her daughter, Raine, they can stay there until she finishes her senior year of high school. Gin will do anything to make sure her daughter has a bright future, but that future is compromised when Raine reveals she’s pregnant.
Dan Moretti has lived in Banister Falls all his life. After losing his best friend while fighting a fire, Dan has devoted himself to helping guide Cody, Max’s son, through life.
When a small town scandal erupts, Dan’s loyalty to Cody and his mom, Evie, is put to the test when he finds himself drawn to Ginevieve Lightly. Dan makes his living coming to the rescue but the independent waitress is used to fighting her own battles. Can Dan convince a woman who doesn’t believe in happy endings to take a chance on a new beginning. . .with him?
A sneak peak at my next release. . .I am SO EXCITED to be finishing up The Hearts We Mend! It will be released in March of 2016, so be sure and watch for itJ Readers get to know Evie Bennett in The Dandelion Field but there’s so much more to her than meets the eye. Evie was widowed at the age of twenty-five and she never expected to find love again—but then she never expected a man like Jack Vale to walk into her life.
I’ve heard that some authors need a special environment to write (music, comfy chair, coffee shop, quiet room, desk, etc.). Do you have a special place you like to write?
I wish I was one of those writers who take their laptops to Starbucks (although the closest one is 45 minutes away!) but I’m at my most creative when I’m sitting at my desk. We live in the country, so it’s very quiet and peaceful and I have a beautiful view out my window. Our black lab, Bailey, and a calico cat named Sophie are my “office mates”. Sometimes I find them waiting for me at the top of the stairs if I’m late getting started in the morning!
My closest Starbucks is over thirty miles away. :)

What authors and stories have most influenced your writing?
I’ve always been a voracious reader (billboards, books, cereal boxes. . .) so it’s difficult to single out specific authors that have influenced my writing. I would have to say that all Christian writers owe a debt of gratitude to Janette Oke, though. Her book, Love Comes Softly, was a groundbreaker in Christian fiction. I was in high school at the time and I read her books as fast as they came out. Another one that immediately comes to mind is Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers.

When I was asked to sum up The Dandelion Field in one sentence (so hard for a writer!) it was, “God can turn the pieces of a broken past into a beautiful new beginning.” The key ingredient in the stories that influence my writing and the ones I love to read is hope.
We do owe a debt of gratitude to Janette Oke, and Francine Rivers. Both women have also influenced my writing.

Thank you for answering my questions, Kathryn! It’s been a pleasure having you visit my blog!
Your Turn Readers: What authors have had the greatest influence in your life?
Kathryn has agreed to give away a signed copy of The Dandelion Field! Please enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win.
*The winner of After a Fashion, by Jen Turano from last week's blog post by guest Courtney Phillips Ballinger is: Vicki Geslak! Vicki, I'll be contacting you soon!*
About Kathryn:
KATHRYN SPRINGER is a full-time writer and the award-winning author ofFront Porch Princess. She won the ACFW 2009 Book of the Year award forFamily Treasures. Her most recent book,The Soldier's Newfound Family, hit the New York Times best-seller list in November 2012.
Kathryn grew up in northern Wisconsin, where her parents published a weekly newspaper. As a child she spent many hours sitting at her mother's typewriter, plunking out stories, and credits her parents for instilling in her a love of books-which eventually turned into a desire to tell stories of her own. Kathryn has written 19 books with close to two million copies sold. She lives with her husband and three children in Marinette, Wisconsin. 
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Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Guest Post by Courtney Phillips and a Book Giveaway!

Today I'm welcoming a guest writer to my blog. Courtney signed with Books & Such Literary Management last year, and I was immediately struck by her authenticity and her faith. I'm excited to have her here today. She's talking about something I think we can all relate to in one way or another. She's also giving away a book!! (By the way, let's congratulate Courtney on her wedding!!)
Where You Ought to be in the Writing World
By Courtney Phillips

This year, young as it is, has ransacked my former plans.
If you would’ve told me six months ago that I would be getting married on April 18, 2015, I would’ve tsked (you know, that sound that tends to come off more rude than we intend).
Last winter I had extreme writing goals. My first novel was being shopped around to publishers, and I was neck deep in my second novel. 2015 meant finishing the edits for my second novel and—Lord willing—earning a publishing contract. I was doing everything I could to make this whole writing thing into a concrete deal.
Then, suddenly, I fizzled.
Book one, though praised, didn’t get contracted. My sweet agent spooned on encouragement, ensuring me this was the norm—authors’ first books were rejected all the time. Disappointment pinched, but common sense reminded me I’d heard about hundreds of other writers’ dealing with the same issue. I had to keep going. Keep writing. Keep improving. The Lord had me writing for a reason or else He would’ve stopped me long ago. I had to keep working.
And I did, until another dream appeared on the ring finger of my left hand. Suddenly, instead of plots and characters, I had a wedding to tend to.
So the writing stopped.
Sure, I poked around on my laptop, typed a little here and there, but my momentum slipped into a coma. Doubt needled and nudged until I wondered if I’d misread God’s intentions. Maybe He didn’t want me to write if I could be distracted so easily. Maybe the rejections were meant to show me I wasn’t going to be a published author. Maybe I’d jumped the gun when I announced my writerly ambitions…
Maybe I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. (A paralyzing fear if I’ve ever had one.)
This is the point where you expect the happy ending, right? You think next I’m going to say I got an email about my first book being offered a contract or winning a contest.
Nope. Nothing like that happened. My writing life is still in a bit of a stumped state.
And that’s okay because this is where I’m supposed to be. Right now, as I tap out this post, my heart is jittery. My mind is full of wedding details, and I cannot imagine how I would handle everything if I were also responsible for editing a contracted book.
This season I’m in, this pause I’m experiencing, is God-planned. He controls the tiniest detail, and He knows exactly what you and I can handle. He understands how fiercely we desire success—that one email from our agent or an editor, that one call that will mean we’re finally legitimate. But He also knows how much we can handle. His watch is a great deal larger than ours. He sees more than seconds, hours, and minutes. He sees futures we can’t imagine, blessings we’ll obtain if we’ll only slip our hands into His and let Him lead.
He knows where we are and where we’re supposed to be and how to get us there.
You want the good news now, don’t you? You want to click on your inbox and find your diligence has resulted in a contract. You want to feel like a real writer. You want to pretty up your website and see your stories on the shelves at Walmart.
Yet, we’re not there yet. But if we’re seeking the Lord, if we’re structuring our lives to please Him, if we’re satisfied with His Word, then we are where we ought to be.
Don’t give into the pressure. Don’t allow yourself to deflate. Enjoy where you are right this second. Enjoy your family and your hobbies and this precious life you’re living now. The time will come for you to move forward with your writing dreams.
Hold on. Appreciate this moment.
Our earthly plans can never compare to His heavenly ones anyway.
*Y’all, I’m giving away a copy of After A Fashion by Jen Turano to one commenter!!! You want to win this book, folks. Trust me. All you have to do is share what’s going on in your writing life (or non-writing life) and what God’s teaching you through it. :)

Meet Courtney:

Courtney Phillips discovered her love of writing as a teenager. After tasting her first sip of heartbreak, she decided to write her own happily-ever-after and never quit.

 She finaled in the 2013 ACFW First Impressions contest and the 2014 RWA Great Beginnings contest and also received an Honorable Mention from the Seekerville Perfect Pitch Contest. In July of 2014, she learned she was the overall winner in the RWA Touched By Love Award contest. Months later, she tied for second place in the RWA Lone Star Contest. (She’s kind of contest-obsessed.)

Courtney writes contemporary romance novels for the ones aching to find the right path. The ones who long for heart-stabling contentment. Combining God's Truth and a pinch of wit, she’s sharing the stories of imperfect characters in need of heavenly intervention.  You can read more about her or visit her blog at

**The winner of The Wood's Edge, by Lori Benton from last week's guest interview is Sylvia Miller!**
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Interview with Lori Benton and a Book Giveaway

It is with great pleasure that I welcome today's author to my blog. I met Lori Benton for the first time at the Books & Such Retreat in Monterey, California last October. I had not yet read Lori's books, though I had heard a great deal about them. When I had the opportunity to read and review The Wood's Edge, (you can see my review here) I jumped at the chance--and I'm so happy I did. I was instantly (I mean instantly!) captivated by her story. If you read no other book this year, read The Wood's Edge (but please read other books!!). I'm so excited to have Lori here today, and I'm even more excited to offer her book to one lucky reader!! See below for details.
~ ~ ~ ~
Welcome to my blog, Lori! I’m thrilled to have you visit for the first time and talk about your newest release, The Wood’s Edge.

Thank you, Gabrielle. I’m so pleased to chat with you.

I can’t wait a moment longer to start discussing The Wood’s Edge! I was given an advanced reader’s copy to review, and I was mesmerized by the story. Truly, it is now in my top five favorite! I couldn’t put the book down and I fell in love with Two-Hawks, Anna, Reginald, Lydia, William, Good Voice, and Stone Thrower.

The story explores the collision of British Colonial and Oneida cultures in the second half of the 18th century. How did your passion develop for this time period and subject?

I stumbled upon a passion for the 18th century and the particular types of conflicts it encompasses on something of a whim. After a season away from writing due to illness, I decided to try my hand at historical fiction. This was 2004, and by then I’d seen the movie The Patriot (with Heath Ledger and Mel Gibson), and knew I wanted my male characters clad in knee breeches. A little research told me I’d better choose the 1700s for that. I know, how utterly profound! Little did I know what awaited me in the pages of the now hundreds of research books that fill my bookshelves.

I'm thinking Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger have inspired many a writer. :) Our daughter Maryn is actually named after William Wallace's wife (Murron) from Brave Heart with Mel.

Your writing is beautiful and filled with depth and emotion. Which authors have influenced your writing the most?

There are so many, but at the top of the list are James Alexander Thom, Diana Gabaldon, Susanna Kearsley, and Ellis Peters/Edith Pargeter.

I love discovering new authors, especially ones that inspire other writers. I'll have to look into some of these.

The Wood’s Edge is rich with historical detail and a vibrant setting. How long did it take you to research this story? And what research tools did you use? Did you visit the setting?

I wrote the first draft of The Wood’s Edge in 2012; safe to say I was researching for a few months prior. A lot of the research for this novel happened while I was writing Burning Sky in 2009. Much of what happens in The Wood’s Edge and especially its sequel, A Flight of Arrows (spring 2016), forms the back story of Burning Sky. So it’s accurate to say I began research for The Wood’s Edge as early as 2008, though of course I didn’t know then that’s what I was doing.

I didn’t do any traveling for research this time around, unless you count multiple visits to the Mohawk Valley and points westward via Google Earth and other people’s YouTube videos. Amazing what you can find online these days.

It is amazing what research tools we have at the tips of our fingers!

If one of the characters from The Wood’s Edge could come to life, and you could spend the day with him/her, which one would you choose? And why?

I’m sure I’ve wished to be able to do this at some point with every single character in this book. But now that I have a little distance from it I’d say Two Hawks, because he’s the one most caught between two worlds in this book—a theme that continually draws me to write novels—and even more so in A Flight of Arrows.

I really enjoyed Two Hawk's character. He is caught between two worlds, and as a reader, you feel the pull. I can't wait to see where his story goes in Flight of Arrows.

For readers meeting you here for the first time, could you give us an overview of your writing and publication story?

It was long and winding. I began writing as a child, but didn’t get serious about it until my early 20s. 1991 to be exact. I wrote several novels and submitted them to publishers in the mid to late 1990s, but met with rejection. Then I faced cancer at age 30 (1999), and while I came through the treatment relatively unscathed (and have been in remission since) for the next 4-5 years I suffered a long term side effect called chemo fog. I wasn’t able to write much at all during that time. When my brain began to clear is when I decided to try writing historical fiction. That was 2004. I was very rusty, so it took a while—nearly four more years—to finish another novel and then edit into shape for submission. I was in no hurry however, and still discovering who I was as a writer, and all the changes God had worked in me through that cancer and non-writing experience. Around 2008 I felt I was again ready to submit my work to agents (the publishing scene had changed during my hiatus and a writer now needed an agent). It wasn’t until 2010 that I finally signed with my agent and not until 2012 that I signed a contract with WaterBrook Press for my first novel, Burning Sky. Which of course wasn’t really my first novel. Or second, or sixth. Some of those early attempts will never see the light of day, and rightly so. But maybe some of them will. Guess we’ll have to wait and see.  

I'm so thankful you answered God's call to be a writer, and continued to pursue the call even through the difficult seasons of life. Your writing has a great impact on me, and I'm looking forward to many more of your novels to come. Thank you for visiting my blog, Lori! I’ve had fun interviewing you.

Thank you very much, Gabrielle. My pleasure!

Lori has kindly agreed to give away a copy of The Wood's Edge to a reader. Please see the Rafflecopter below.

YOUR TURN, READER: Have you read any of Lori's books? What authors and/or stories have had the greatest impact on you?

Meet Lori:
Lori Benton’s novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching, Lori enjoys exploring the Oregon wilderness with her husband. She is the author of Burning Sky, recipient of three Christy Awards, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, an ECPA 2015 Christian Book Award finalist, and The Wood’s Edge.

The Wood's Edge:
At the wood’s edge cultures collide. Can two families survive the impact?

The 1757 New York frontier is home to the Oneida tribe and to British colonists, yet their feet rarely walk the same paths.

On the day Fort William Henry falls, Major Reginald Aubrey is beside himself with grief. His son, born that day, has died in the arms of his sleeping wife. When Reginald comes across an Oneida mother with newborn twins, one white, one brown, he makes a choice that will haunt the lives of all involved. He steals the white baby and leaves his own child behind. Reginald’s wife and foundling daughter, Anna, never suspect the truth about the boy they call William, but Reginald is wracked by regret that only intensifies with time, as his secret spreads its devastating ripples.

When the long buried truth comes to light, can an unlikely friendship forged at the wood’s edge provide a way forward? For a father tormented by fear of judgment, another by lust for vengeance. For a mother still grieving her lost child. For a brother who feels his twin’s absence, another unaware of his twin’s existence. And for Anna, who loves them both—Two Hawks, the mysterious Oneida boy she meets in secret, and William, her brother. As paths long divided collide, how will God direct the feet of those who follow Him?

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