Monday, February 20, 2017

Valentine Matchmaker Collection with Why Not? by Debra E Marvin ends Feb. 27

Please give Debra a warm welcome here at The Sword and Spirit! It's so good to have you on the blog this week, Debra. Be sure to read on down to see how to enter to win the whole Valentine collection of 9 novellas!

Singing those old Writer’s Blues!

Thank you so much for hosting me, Debbie Lynne. I’d also like to thank you for helping so many authors promote their work over the years. It’s been quite a few years since I met you as part of an online group of historical fiction authors!

Many authors may have heard that we are likely to put ten years into this career before becoming published. That number has certainly changed by the accessibility of self-publishing. But I have to agree that it takes years to really be ‘halfway’ ready for publication. I admit that year after year, I’d look at my writing and see room for improvement in what I once thought ‘pretty good!’.

To write for a traditional publisher is a dream for most authors. But it takes getting a foot in the door and the percentages are extremely low. First—find an agent. Not easy. They are not going to take on the work unless they are very sure they can sell it. Then, on any given day, an editor may give that work a glance and turn it down. Why? Because she just bought something similar, or it’s not a genre that’s selling to their customers… etc. Publication is just as much timing as it is quality.

On my journey, I grew weary. Opportunities seemed to come and then disappear. For unpublished authors, most editors want to see a completed manuscript, not just a proposal. After spending six months or a year, or more, on one story, the editor’s hurried assessment can quickly end the dream.

I began to see writing as a bad relationship. I put effort in and received nothing back (or so it seemed). I worked full time and I wanted to spend time with family and friends, but writing meant spending a day at the computer instead. So, I stopped writing. Except I wasn’t ready to give up the writing life. I thought about stories, I loved hearing about what my writer friends were working on—in other words, I still thought like a writer.

But I sure enjoyed being ‘a normal person’ for a year or so.

Until I was offered a contract on an old project!

That was a couple years ago and since then, I’ve published novellas with two small publishers and have a novel coming out with another later this year. It’s just as difficult as I remembered! But the separation period was helpful. I don’t have any real suggestions for new writers as to where to draw the line in priorities. It’s difficult. If you’d like to be casual about writing, and set your own schedule and publish on your own, you’ll have control over your so-called free time. But you’ll still have to market if you want more than your friends and family as readers. If you’re determined to succeed, this is a great time to be a writer! But the massive volume of writers publishing digital books means that it’s very difficult to be noticed. Today’s writers are also marketers. And most authors don’t like that one bit! 

Connect with me on Twitter , Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Website, Blog, and Follow my Amazon Author page. (Phew!) I currently have a promotion for new subscribers to my newsletter—I’m giving away a $25.00 Amazon gift card to one of the next fifty who sign up.

I’d bet that most authors have considered throwing in the towel. Let’s chat! First off—what do you think of all the baggage we carry around with us? I’m talking about the umpteem ways we try to connect with readers as evidenced by the above paragraph. Crazy, isn’t it? 

I’d love to hear from new, and experienced writers, as well as meet new readers! I’m giving away a digital boxed set of my latest release. Why Not, set in 1914 Grand Canyon Village, is one of the nine novellas in the Valentine Matchmaker Collection from ForgetMeNot Romances. 

To enter if you're a reader or a writer, tell Debra what draws you to this novella collection and why you'd like to win! Or tell her what you think would be or is the most difficult thing to do as a writer and why. Would it be dividing your time, the actual writing, the marketing, the rejections, or something else? DON'T FORGET to leave your email address! If you are a follower of my blog, kindly remind me for an extra entry. Also, share on Facebook and/or twitter for another entry!

Why Not?

Love Puts These Two On the Edge!

Grand Canyon, 1914
Society girl Amber Wynott’s wintry escape to the Grand Canyon provides a chance to pursue her dream and prove she has what it takes to be a successful architect. It doesn’t take long to realize the incredible scenery can’t hide the simmering anger between ‘railroad money’ and the struggling locals.
Which side is master builder Stone Morrison on?

Amber has met her match in the handsome, hard-headed man. He’s been directed to keep an eye on her, but when iron meets iron—oh the sparks! As their unlikely old matchmaker tells them, pride goes before a fall, and this is a bad place to fall. Will danger finally knock some sense into the pair?

Monday, February 13, 2017

Entangled by Julie Arduini ends 2/20

Please welcome Julie Arduini to my blog this week. Julie is giving away ENTANGLED in choice of paperback or ebook. Read on down to see how to be entered.

Balancing Fitness and Writing

Julie Arduini

If you look up the definition of fit, I assure you my picture won’t be there. Weight has been an issue my entire life and now that I’m moving into my late forties, everything is a challenge. Last year everything flipped on me and I found myself exhausted, not sleeping, gaining weight and generally feeling blah. Exercise was impossible. On top of that, I couldn’t find the balance between exercise and getting writing done. It always felt like a choice. And honestly, I chose writing.

I finally went to an endocrinologist and my lab results gave me direction. I switched to low carb/high protein eating and added a supplement and prescription. I had my energy back and some weight loss, but I still needed to get regular exercise in. I still struggled finding the balance. If I walked my neighborhood, it was a good forty-five minutes. Biking was about twenty, but it was uncomfortable. I’d use videos, but it still took time out, plus showering. Beyond writing, I’m a wife and mom. The house, husband, and kids needed my time and I just couldn’t figure out how to get it all done.

Then came Carrie Underwood.

I don’t remember where or what I was reading, but she mentioned that when she is on tour, she has a bike pedal machine that lets her get some cardio in. She could use them under a desk or on the floor while watching TV or whatever. That really got me curious. I went on Amazon and saw the one she mentioned, plus other versions that were similar. I liked what I saw, so I put it on my Christmas list.

The bike pedals have been an answer to prayer. Before I shower and get started with my day, but after the youngest is off to school, I go on my tablet as I watch the news. I won’t allow myself to do that unless I am pedaling. I can usually get 45 minutes of reading done, but more than that, about 4500 steps. Once I’m dressed for the day, when I do devotions, read emails, and even write, I keep the pedals under the table. I go much slower, but pedal as I can and I often get a couple more thousand in. By the end of the day while also doing wife and mom things, I’ve had between 8-11k steps in for the day. I feel great, I go to bed exhausted, and I’ve accomplished all my goals.

I realize I need to incorporate some upper body strength to it, but for now, this works. We now have a second set of pedals we keep in the family room. As the kids are doing homework on the computer or watching tv, they pedal. It’s kept us active this winter, something that has always frustrated me as we never seemed to be able to figure that out once our pool closed in the fall.

I’m wrapping up the last book in my Surrendering Time series, and I’ve asked readers what surrender issue they would like to read about next. The answer was loud and clear---they want to read a contemporary romance who struggles with weight. I am really excited to start plotting my next series, and I will definitely write what I know when it comes to that surrender.

If you are struggling with exercise, I hope something here encourages you. Your health is important. I pray you find an answer like I did.

Is eating well and exercise a struggle for you? If you are a writer or otherwise have a job that requires you to sit down a lot, how do you stay active? 

Julie is giving away a copy of her book to one lucky winner. Answer one of the questions above to be entered in the drawing. Don't forget to leave your email address so we can contact you should you win. 

Entangled: Surrendering the Past

Book #2, Surrendering Time Series
Julie Arduini

“You need to leave me alone. It’s the least you can do.”

Carla Rowling has been given her dream of attending cosmetology school. The gift is so generous she feels unworthy because of choices she made as a teen. The pressure mounts as Carla juggles school, is a single mom, helps her best friend Jenna plan her wedding, spends time with boyfriend Will Marshall, and deals with the fact that her son's father is back in their lives.

Will Marshall is the one Speculator Falls resident everyone can count on. His truck deliveries are reliable. He's the first to help friends like Ben Regan with boat work or be a card partner with Bart Davis. Will's ready to settle down with Carla, loving her is natural. He's bonded with her son, Noah. But when Carla starts cosmetology school, she puts emotional distance between her and Will.

Can Carla release her past and create a future full of highlights, or, will she burn her options worse than a bad perm?

Purchase Link:
Amazon (Kindle and Print):

Entangled is book #2. Although it can standalone, if you’d like to read Entrusted: Surrendering the Present first, click here:

Julie Arduini loves to encourage readers to surrender the good, the bad, and ---maybe one day---the chocolate. She’s the author of ENTRUSTED: Surrendering the Present, as well as ENTANGLED: Surrendering the Past. The last book in the series, ENGAGED: Surrendering the Future, is coming soon. She also shares her story in the infertility devotional, A WALK IN THE VALLEY. She blogs every other Wednesday for Christians Read. She resides in Ohio with her husband and two children. Learn more by visiting her at, where she invites readers to subscribe to her monthly newsletter full of resources and giveaway opportunities.









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Monday, February 6, 2017

Eagle Harbor, Michigan

 Please welcome Naomi Rawlings to my blog!

Do you enjoy visiting small towns? What about towns tucked away and hidden in an obscure place most people wouldn't notice? Some of my favorite towns to visit are the small, out-of-the-way, historical ones. I always find myself asking questions like, "Why was this town established?" "What caused people to settle here?" And if it's something of a ghost town, I then wonder, "Why did people move away?"

Most of the time these questions pop into my mind as I'm driving through somewhere, and I don't really think about them again. But a writer's brain can be a bit of a scary place, and sometimes I find my imagination running away from me. That's how I ended up with the Eagle Harbor Series.

Eagle Harbor, Michigan is located on the northernmost tip of Michigan's Keweenaw Peninsula. It sticks up into the wild, cold, and often-dangerous waters of Lake Superior, which in turn makes it prone to violent storms. Driving through the town today will only take you a handful of minutes. You'll pass several blocks of houses, a restaurant, hotel, and active lighthouse before proceeding up the Lake Superior coast to the next small town.

While it's a beautiful place to live, there's absolutely nothing around it. So when I visited the town for the first time (probably about 5 years ago now), I found myself asking what prompted people to live there? Why would a town form way up north in the middle of nowhere on a forgotten stretch of shoreline?

The answer is the shipping industry. With all the trucks, railroads, and cargo planes we're surrounded with today, it's easy to forget that transporting freight used to be done solely by ships, and then by a combination of ships and rail. For a town like Eagle Harbor, which gets over 200 inches of snow per winter, running a rail line all the way up to the norther tip of the continental U.S. wasn't very practical, nor was keeping the rail clear of snow in the winter.

However, the richest copper deposit in the United States runs just a few miles inland from Eagle Harbor. With it's natural bay that offers protection from Lake Superior, Eagle Harbor developed into a busy but small shipping town in the 1840s. The town saw a lot of people move through it's port, but most of them didn't stay. They were headed inland to work the mines. As the copper mines along the Keweenaw Fault continued to produce and the mining towns grew bigger, there was more and more copper to ship out if this isolated area, as well as a growing demand for food and supplies to be shipped in to the mining towns. Several natural harbors along the Keweenaw Peninsula soon grew into small but busy shipping towns, one of which was Eagle Harbor.

When I started writing the Eagle Harbor Series, I was captivated by how isolated the town was, especially since the shipping season only ran for six months. During the winter, ice and other weather conditions made shipping on Lake Superior impossible. (Actually, Lake Superior is still closed to shipping today for two to three months every winter because of how dangerous the lake is.)

So I endeavored to write about a town where everyone knows everyone else, where the mistakes you made 10 or 20 years ago are never quite forgotten, but neither are the good deeds you do. And of course, with the importance of shipping, I simply had to make the first book in the series about the very real, very historic Eagle Harbor Lighthouse and a lightkeeper. It's been a fun series for me because of the little parts of history I've gotten to bring to life. I hope some of you will enjoy reading about it.

Tell Naomi if you like small towns and if you do what do you like about them. 
If you’re interested in learning more about the series, (and reading about how people from the 1880s handled all that snow) you can grab the first novel, Love’s Unfading Light, for free today.
Try Love’s Unfading Light for Free.
Amazon ~.~.~ iTunes ~.~.~ Nook ~.~.~ Kobo

What about you? Do you enjoy visiting historical small towns? Do you enjoy novels based on real places that you can visit today? Or do you prefer a completely fictional setting?
Tressa Danell is finished with men—from the wastrel who left her a widow, to the smelly trapper who keeps proposing, to the banker who wants to repossess her bakery. Every hour is spent working to pay off her late husband’s debt and keep a roof over her son’s head, though it’s doubtful she can do both for very long. But one thing’s certain—she’ll never be beholden to a man again.
Tired of living in a small town that blames him for actions his father committed ten years ago, Mac Oakton is scheduled to leave Eagle Harbor. So why does the pretty widow at the bakery keep tugging at his heart? He can’t get involved in her predicament when he’ll only be around for two more weeks.
But when Tressa’s burdens overwhelm her, they both face a decision. Can Mac set his own plans aside to help? And can Tressa accept his support if that means giving up her independence ... and being obligated to a man again?

Try Love’s Unfading Light for Free.
Amazon ~.~.~ iTunes ~.~.~ Nook ~.~.~ Kobo
Want to learn more about Naomi or the Eagle Harbor Series? Visit Naomi’s website at