Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Passing it On

“I am an author,” my 10-year-old granddaughter declares with a conviction many published adults would envy. And, indeed, she is. She will read the cereal box if she has forgotten to take a book to the table. She spends hours alone in her room writing stories. She has sleepovers with a friend, and they spend the night writing. And, like a young Jane Austen, she delights in reading her stories aloud to her family.

Of course, her writer nana is thrilled to encourage her. I pass on writing tips and ask her questions about her plot when she is stuck. I listen to her reading and congratulate her—as she truly deserves. I buy books for her and gave her a pink leather journal to write her stories in—although she has recently moved up to writing them on her brother’s computer.

And, dear to my heart, she is well on her way to becoming a devout Janeite. She reads the Little Miss Austenbooks (supplied by Nana) to her little sisters, and has read an unabridged Pride and Prejudice herself. I followed up her reading with a “book discussion group” between the two of us.

I have also give her Eva Marie Hamilton’s delightful Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility colouring and puzzle books, which we do together when I visit.

The crowning touch came on my latest visit when I was able to take her and her mother to the Pride andPrejudice Ball in Calgary. We began the day with English Country Dance lessons.

Then fashioned a Regency hairstyle for her.

Earlier in the week we had remodeled a Disney princess gown a friend had given her and used the cut-off sleeves to make a reticule. The perfect cloak was waiting on a cupboard—another hand-me-down from a friend. She was very concerned that everything we do be “period correct” which made the entire event a teaching moment—even to her lacing nana into her stays.

The ball was a true Cinderella dream. This was not a children’s event. Many an adult male registered surprise, then grinned, when he turned to “set” to his new corner and found she was four feet tall. Our princess danced every dance and never missed a step.

Will my budding author become a professional? I believe the odds are high. But if not, by encouraging her current interests I have helped give her a foundation for a lifetime of pleasure in books. That may well be the greatest contribution I can make to literature.

Indeed, passing on our knowledge and enthusiasms and encouraging the next generation is so much of what life is all about. Those of us who love books can support libraries, volunteer with children in schools, Sunday school and other community programs. Picking up on a child’s interests and encouraging them may well be the greatest contribution any of us can make.

Donna Fletcher Crow has 14 grandchildren, all of whom she endeavors to encourage in their varied interests. She has authored 2 contemporary mystery novels with Jane Austen backgrounds: A Jane Austen Encounter which visits all of Jane Austen's homes and A Most Singular Venture, murder in Jane Austen's London. She looks forward to passing  these on to her granddaughter as well.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Writing Through the Dark Times

It was the fall of 1994. My father had just been diagnosed with cancer. Apparently, the disease had been at work for a long time. At Thanksgiving, we traveled to my parents’ home in Alberta for a bittersweet weekend. 

Meanwhile, my mother-in-law, who had been feeling poorly for years, was told she had a brain tumor. Surgery would take place Thanksgiving Monday, so we rushed home from Alberta to see her before surgery.

We were in the midst of moving my in-laws to a retirement home in the city, and we were moving into their house. Through a number of renovations, moving households without the in-laws in attendance, visiting my dad and my husband’s mom—we carried on with force of will and prayer that sometimes seemed to bounce off the ceiling.

How did this affect my writing?

I obviously had long stretches of time where I couldn’t write, either because I was otherwise occupied, or because my mind was in neutral. But I did learn a number of things about life, about my level of endurance, about responses to trials.

What did I do with what I learned?

Over the years, I’ve transferred some of these experiences into the lives of my characters. This is not a manipulative move, but a logical use of suffering. Why waste it? We want our characters to be realistic, so we allow them to make convincing responses. We provide them with true-to-life challenges to deal with in our stories. We keep throwing difficulties their way, and look for their reactions.

As writers, we are always opening up our lives to public scrutiny by sharing our deep thoughts, our struggles, our victories and defeats…through our characters. We become vulnerable to our readers. That’s the name of the game. We are writing about life.

What else did I learn from the dark times?

That God is faithful all the time, even when we don’t realize it. That He is always seeking us out, offering comfort and healing. And that’s why I weave a thread of faith and hope into every one of my novels. I don’t want to force it; I want it to be organic to the story, but hope is something God has given me, and I need to share it with my readers.

For those interested in how my personal plot turned out: my dear dad passed away ten weeks after diagnosis, shortly before Christmas 1994. We miss him deeply, but he has gone ahead of us into glory. My mother-in-law’s surgery went well, only to be followed by a disabling stroke. She struggled for ten years before she passed on to her heavenly reward. We endured and healed, and are enjoying the lovely home we’ve now lived in for twenty-two years.

Life is not easy. Sometimes it’s very dark. But in Christ, we have hope in all things. That’s something I want to share.

Monday, May 22, 2017

A Season to Dance Cover - Go Behind the Scenes + Giveaway - by Patricia Beal

Hi everyone! So the debut has been out for a couple of weeks, and people love the cover. I want to give away a book, and take you behind the scenes for a look at the cover development and selection.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a paperback copy of A Season to Dance (void where prohibited)

My original idea didn't work out. I wanted something like this Picnic in Provence cover, but in yellows and oranges. Maybe a sunflower field, the Rhine, the girl. But my publisher doesn't do this kind of cover.

We needed a photograph and a person. I was given the opportunity to search a site and provide input, and I offered a dozen photos/ideas. One was a bride and flowers. The designer found a different image inspired on that bridal idea and that was the image that later became the cover. 

I'm so grateful I was able to give so much input. As most of you know, most contracts, mine included, give the publisher full control of the cover.

Here are other ideas we looked at.

This one was too happy. There are happy moments in the novel, but this cover doesn't reflect the overall mood. And while I like partial faces on covers, I wasn't too keen on this one.

And we looked at this option too. The idea could have worked. I love the tree branches and the flowers, but the model is too young for a story of second chances. Wrong hair color too.

So the bridal stood. I love it because it communicates the perfect mood and is so elegant. It's mysterious. She's walking into her story and reflecting at the same time. I'm so thrilled with it.

Promo image designed using PhotoFunia

What did you think about the other options we looked at? How about the process?

Remember to comment for a chance to win a paperback copy of A Season to Dance (void where prohibited).

Thanks for stopping by!


Patricia Beal writes contemporary Christian fiction and is represented by Leslie Stobbe of the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency. Her debut novel, A Season to Dance, is out now (Bling! / Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas 2017). Order here!

She’s a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and First Impressions finalist. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Cincinnati in 1998 with a B.A. in English Literature and then worked as a public affairs officer for the U.S. Army for seven years. Now, after a 10-year break in service, she is an Army editor. She and her husband live in El Paso, Texas, with their two children.

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Coming Up This Week 


Patricia Beal: A Season to Dance Cover - Go Behind the Scenes + Giveaway


Janice Dick: Writing Through the Dark Times


Donna Fletcher Crow


Ian Acheson

Friday Devotion 

Ray Hawkins: The Fragrance God Appreciates


New Releases

Patricia Beal's debut contemporary women’s fiction set in Germany and in the United States, A Season to Dance, is a May 2017 release from Bling! Romance / Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Sprouts of Love, Book 1 in her new Garden Grown Romance series (part of Arcadia Valley Romance multi-author series), releases independently in May 2017.


Upcoming Releases

Carolyn Miller's regency romance set in England, The Captivating Lady Charlotte, Book 2 in her Regency Brides series, will be a June 2017 release from Kregel.

Kara Isaac's contemporary romance set in Australia and New Zealand, Then There Was You, releases independently in June 2017.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Memories of Mist, Book 3 in her Urban Farm Fresh Romance series, releases independently in July 2017.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in Italy, Fatal Cover-Up, will be a July 2017 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Better Than a Crown, Book 3 in her Christmas in Montana Romance series, releases independently in October 2017.

Carolyn Miller's regency romance set in England, The Dishonorable Miss DeLancey, Book 3 in her Regency Brides series, will be an October 2017 release from Kregel.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Rooted in Love, Book 2 in her new Garden Grown Romance series (part of Arcadia Valley Romance multi-author series) releases independently in November 2017.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in USA, Vanishing Point: A Nikki Boyd Novel, will be a November 2017 release from Revell.

To find more International Christian Fiction books, please visit our 2013 - 2016 Book Releases page and Backlist Titles.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Devotion: Goosebumps and Tears

My heart has a way of recognizing truth long before my mind catches up. I can be washing dishes, driving my car or feeding the cat, but when truth hits home inside of me, two things happen - I get goosebumps all down my arms and I find myself blubbing. (Ugly crying, in case you didn't get it.) Without fail. Every time. It doesn't matter whether it comes through a movie, music or an ad on t.v... Prod. Bumps. Crying. That's just how it works.
As a writer, I get excited when I go goosies reading something I've written simply because I know what moves me will touch my readers. Maybe not all of them, but that's okay. 

Us creative types are 'moved, to move'. Rory Noland describes this dynamic beautifully in his book The Heart of the Artist. To paraphrase... when you watch a movie, hear music or see a painting that makes you want to weep - its because the artist felt deeply about what he was creating.
So I'm learning to breathe and write those things that don't sit comfortably. Awkward things that refuse to fit into my neat theological boxes and some days leave me with more questions than answers.    

There's a song that had me undone for weeks when I first heard it. Why? Because Matt caught the heart of the Father and sang it over me. Over you. Over a broken, hurting world. Truth got hold of my insides.

I'll leave you with the song as an invitation to explore those things that give you goosies and make your eyes leak... then write them!

Dianne J. Wilson writes novels from her hometown in East London, South Africa, where she lives with her husband and three daughters. She has just signed a three book contract for a YA series, Spirit Walkers, with Pelican / Watershed.

Finding Mia is available from AmazonPelican / Harbourlight, Barnes & Noble and other bookstores.

Shackles is available as a free ebook from Amazon & Smashwords.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Another SCAM?

Disclaimer: This is my personal opinion on something that could appeal to other authors.
Reaching for the moon

I have had several offers of interested parties – always concerned my Indie Published books will get the best exposure. One was a vanity press from the US who promised wonderful publicity … as long as I bought 1,000 copies.
This unique phone offer was that they would be prepared to set up my book at the Frankfurt International Book Fair. After several minutes of hype and a final pressure to accept as a “first come first served basis” I demurred saying I never did business over the phone. Almost immediately I received their publicity in my email box.
Wow, so impressive! READ ON ….. (note grammar)

“Discover how first time, unknown, self-published authors sell their book rights and gets a 5-figure book advance.”
Perhaps no venue on Earth reaches the depth and breadth of the publishing industry…
Have your book acquired by Traditional Publishers
Sell your other book rights (e.g. Translations, Film & TV rights, etc.)
Physically promote and sell copies of your book to booksellers (bookstores and libraries)
Expand your book’s market
Saving You the Hassle and Your Money
Attending the Frankfurt Book Fair is a big expense and requires not just a financial commitment, but also a large time commitment. Remember that you’ll need to do plenty of research and planning ahead to make the Fair a success for you.
Authors who does not have an invitation would need to spend $4,000 - $8,000 just to participate as they need to travel to Frankfurt, Germany and get themselves a stand to showcase their book.
However, LitFire is inviting you to be one of the authors whom we will represent in the Frankfurt Book Fair, so you do not have to spend for travel and save you the hassle doing all the preparations.
We will bring your book to the fair and take it directly to where the book right buyers, publishers, agents, and others can see your book!
What Do You Need To Do?
Prepare one copy of your book
Process the registration fee that the organizers require
Fill-out the order form
Total Package: $2,299
What you will get for the $2,299?
To make sure that your book won’t be buried in the back of the show; LitFire will prepare and execute four (4) publicity campaign for your book. It will gain maximum exposure and will be in the front and center! 

Are there any other such "generous offers" out there that you've personally come across? It's helpful for other writers to be forewarned.
Rita Stella Galieh is an Indie Publisher of a Historical Trilogy with another series on the way.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Let’s go on a walk …

By Iola Goulton

At the weekend, my husband and I often go out for a drive. We usually start with brunch in a nearby town—maybe Hobbiton (because we can), a beachfront cafĂ©, or somewhere more scenic. Then we might go to the beach, or have a look around some local shops.

Last weekend, after we’d had a lovely brunch at Flat White in Waihi, we drove to a nearby waterfall. Lovely. The sky was blue, and the sun was shining. There is a lovely view of the falls from the road:

The Waiere Falls spill over the top of the Kaimai ranges in the background. The falls are 153m (450ft) high, and follow the Okauia fault line (it pays not to think about what the phrase "fault line" means).

We have an excellent Department of Conservation who mark out trails to local landmarks. Some trails are mere walks—a couple of hours on a well-marked dirt track (no, not concrete footpaths or wooden boardwalks except in the most touristy areas). Others trails are longer, less well marked, and require a greater degree of preparation, and some knowledge of bushcraft. If we were doing that walk, we wouldn’t call it a walk. We’d say we were going tramping.

Then he suggested we walk to the falls. I was hesitant. I’d dressed in a skirt and leather jacket—appropriate attire for a drive and brunch. Not appropriate attire for a bush walk. Even if it was a walk, not a tramp. This is not the appropriate footwear for a bush walk:

He assured me the walk was flat. So I agreed. 

Waiere Falls, our destination, had a sign giving visitors some walking options— 45 minutes to the lookout, 1½ hours to the top of the waterfall, and a 7-hour tramp to cross the range. The walk to the lookout sounded manageable, especially as we passed through native New Zealand bus that looks as though it's straight out of a Lord of the Rings set:

As we progressed, we started going uphill. It was a gradual climb at first, and then it got steeper and steeper. I commented. Apparently, he remembered it being flatter. This is not a flat walk:

This was only half the staircase … and there was a lot of climbing before we got to the stairs. New Zealand Tramper describes this as a “cruisy gradual climb”. Yeah, right. Not in a skirt and ballet flats, when everyone else on the track was wearing leggings and trainers.

The fitness app on his iPhone says we climbed the equivalent of 64 flights of stairs. He says it can’t have been that much. I say it felt like all that, and more.

But the view was worth it:

Maybe next time I’ll have the energy (and the footwear) to get to the top of the falls! Yes, the track goes all the way up.

I’m sure there’s a life lesson in here somewhere, but between my muddy shoes and my aching calves, I’m having trouble finding it. Any suggestions?