Monday, November 26, 2018

The Plum Blooms in Winter by Linda Thompson ends December 3rd

Please welcome Linda Thompson to my blog this week! Linda has recently joined us on the Heros, Heroines, and History blog (HHHistory) and so I've recently been privileged to get to know her. I'm so glad she has joined us here this week! Linda has written a WWII story fiction but based on a true story. Read on down to hear her interesting story as well as how to enter in the giveaway.


If I’d Known Then…

I suppose every published author has their journey. Their tale of inspiration, toil and rejection. My publishing saga started the day my husband, Michael, thrust a military history book he’d been reading at me. “You need to read this story,” he said, a ring of awed excitement in his voice.

The book was The First Heroes by Craig Nelson. It’s an account of the Doolittle Raid of April 18, 1942, the very first Allied bombing raid over Japan. And Michael was right—the story he flagged for me grabbed me.

After the raid, eight downed airmen were captured by the Japanese. They endured forty months of every hardship Japan threw at their prisoners in that war. Starvation, systematic torture, solitary confinement, neglect and abuse. Only four of the eight made it home.



This wartime poster shows Doolittle Raider Lieutenant Robert Hite, captive in Tokyo. April, 1942.

But somewhere in the middle of that span, the four who remained received some reading material, including the gem of all gems, a Bible. The opportunity to read the Bible in their dank individual cells impacted them all. For one man, in particular, that gift of a Bible transformed his prison experience. The love of God through Christ consumed him, to the point where he yearned for his Japanese captors to understand it too. He developed a certainty that the Lord was calling him to return to Japan as a missionary—a living object lesson of God’s forgiveness through Christ.

After the war, he returned to Japan, ultimately spending decades ministering there. My novel focuses on how the Lord used this transformed heart to transform another life. Specifically, a young woman who intended to assassinate him for the role he played in the death of a man she loved. (True story.  )

My husband fingered his copy of The First Heroes and pinned me with intent brown eyes. “Someone should write a book about this.” I prayed about it for some time and put out my fleeces, and ultimately concluded that, yes, I was that someone. “Here am I Lord. Send me.” (Is 6:8)

As a marketing professional, I was a prolific writer. But fiction is a very different beast and honestly, I had no idea what I was getting into. I figured a couple of years and I’d knock this thing out. Ha! More than six years later, I signed my publishing deal with Mountain Brook Ink. Six years of steady effort, of critique groups and classes and conferences and paid editors—and the learning process isn’t cheap, by the way!—and, of course, those infamous rejections. 

That’s the part of the journey I want to talk about today. I definitely had what I’ve come to think of as my “Mount Moriah moments.” If the manuscript was my “child of promise,” if I picked it up because the Lord had called me to it, was I ready to surrender it on His command as well?

If you’re a Christian writer, you’re probably familiar with Allen Arnold and his book, The Story of With. It’s an extended allegory of a creative who seeks self-actualization and worldly success, but without a deep partnership with her Heavenly Father. She ultimately learns that the endpoint is not the point. The real point is the journey—with God.

My most discouraging “Mount Moriah moment” came a couple of years ago, when my first agent dropped me. I didn’t even know that was a thing! And you had to be kidding, right? This person had seemed committed to my success. Had been generous enough to coach and mentor me through several revisions. Only a few months earlier my manuscript had garnered a significant industry award, which I know would not have happened without that agent’s guidance.

Me in 2016, the evening I was blessed to win the ACFW Genesis contest at a big glam awards ceremony. Pinch me!


I couldn’t fathom going through the process again—the query piles, the hopeful meetings at conferences, the emailing of book proposals and samples, the waiting, waiting… waiting. And, to add insult to injury, that email came just days before Christmas.

Lord, what are you telling me?

He was telling me what He tells us all. At the end of the day, it’s not about any earthly outcome. It’s about our relationship with Him. About relying on Him through the journey.

“Count it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials. For the testing of your faith produces endurance.” (James 1:2-3) Hardships come to prove—and in many cases, improve—the quality of our faith. And that’s the outcome that actually matters.

Naturally, I meditated on scriptures on waiting. “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength” (Is 40:31), right? I noticed for the first time that the word for “wait” in this passage has a sense of being intertwined.

From the Complete Word Study Bible:

קָוָה qāwāh: A verb meaning to wait for, to look for, to hope for. The root meaning is that of twisting or winding a strand of cord or rope….

I should be so intertwined with my Lord that my will disappears into His! Didn’t Jesus also say something like this—something about abiding? “As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” (John 15:4)

Today, my saga appears to have ended in what the world would call success. A respected agent (Wordserve Literary) and a quality publisher. My novel based on the Doolittle Raid to be released as of December 1. And it’s a beautiful “book baby,” if I do say so myself! Thank you, Mountain Brook Ink!

But the real end game isn’t a pretty book. Or even solid sales. It’s impact on hearts and lives. I can hammer out words and my publisher can bind them into a book, but only the Lord can produce that spiritual harvest. I’m waiting and praying to see what He will do!

And if He should call me to put my WIP in a drawer and my writing career on the altar again? Well, I think I’m ready for that too.





Have you ever had a mission you felt came from the Lord? How did it work out?

What’s your favorite WWII story, book or movie?



GIVEAWAY

Answer one or more of the above questions and be entered into the drawing for The Plum Blooms in Winter, Paperback or ebook.



ABOUT LINDA:

Linda Thompson stepped back from a corporate career that spanned continents to write what she loves–stories of unstoppable faith. Her debut novel, The Plum Blooms in Winter, is an A.C.F.W. Genesis award winner. Linda writes from the sun-drenched Arizona desert, where she lives with her husband, a third-generation airline pilot who doubles as her Chief Military Research Officer, two mostly-grown-up kids, and a small platoon of housecats. When Linda isn't writing, you'll find her rollerblading–yes, that does make her a throwback–taking in a majestic desert moonrise, or dreaming of an upcoming trip. She and her husband recently returned from a tour of Israel and Jordan and a visit to Wales. Next up: Seattle and Charlotte.

Linda loves to connect with readers! Linda’s website: http://lthompsonbooks.com

Follow Linda on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or Instagram (@lthompsonbooks).




A taut, crisp debut achievement that colorfully evokes the Pacific theater of WWII. Start this one forewarned: it's a stay-up-all-night read."

-Jerry B. Jenkins--21-time New York Times bestselling author (Left Behind, et al)

A Prostitute Seeks Her Revenge--In 1942, Miyako Matsuura cradled her little brother as he died on the sidewalk, a victim of the first U.S. bombing raid on Japan. By 1948, the war has reduced her to a street-hardened prostitute consumed by her shame.

A WWII Hero Finds His True Mission--Dave Delham makes military aviation history piloting a B-25 in the audacious Doolittle Raid. Forced to bail out over occupied China, he and his crew are captured by the Japanese and survive a harrowing P.O.W. ordeal. In 1948, he returns to Japan as a Christian missionary, determined to showcase Christ's forgiveness.

Convinced that Delham was responsible for the bomb that snuffed out her brother's life, Miyako resolves to restore her honor by avenging him--even if it costs her own life. But the huntress soon becomes hunted in Osaka's treacherous underworld. Miyako must outmaneuver a ruthless brothel owner, outwit gangs with competing plans to profit by her, and overcome betrayal by family and friends--only to confront a decision that will change everything.



Monday, November 19, 2018

Snow Angel by Davalynn Spencer ends 11/26

Be sure to read on down to see how to enter to win Snow Angel. 

Many little things from my life make it into my historical novels and novellas, including something as simple as the smell of wood smoke on a chilly fall morning.

When I step outside to take my Queensland heeler, Blue, for a walk, that sweet woodsy smell greets me from my own chimney. Though I have electric heat, it’s only a backup, and I warm my home with a woodstove. There is something cozy and companionable about building a fire each cold morning, pulling my rocker close, and watching through the stove’s glass door as bright flames embrace the logs.




Some mornings, dawn arrives with spectacular beauty, washing the horizon in blazing red and gold. A sunrise like that usually signals a storm, so after walking Blue up the hill, around the bend, and back, we return home where I split firewood. Fall temperatures in Colorado can fluctuate overnight as much as 30 to 40 degrees, so preparation is key.



My recently released Christmas novella, Snow Angel, is peppered with such details – the scent of wood smoke, a rocker by the fire, the chock of an ax splitting wood, and a companionable dog. The story is set in the 1880s along Colorado’s Front Range, and yet these same details fill my life now in the twenty-first century. I count these simple elements as the Lord’s timeless blessings, and they warm my heart as much as my home.


Do you have a special tradition or everyday task that warms your heart in a simple way? Or is there something you do to prepare for colder weather and seasonal change – maybe reading Christmas stories – that prepares your heart as well as your mind? I’d love to hear what those traditions are in the comments below. Thanks for reading! 

GIVEAWAY: Answer the above question for a chance to win an e-copy of Snow Angel. Don't forget to leave your email so we can contact you should you win!

As a child, she lost something precious at Christmas. Twenty years later, she's about to lose her heart.
Lena Carver works as her physician brother’s medical assistant, housekeeper, and cook despite her disfigurement from a childhood accident. Each year, the Christmas holidays come with contradictions—cherished memories of a mysterious encounter and painful recollections of a great loss. She lives with the belief that she is beyond love’s reach, until a dark-eyed cowboy arrives broken, bruised, and bent on changing her mind. 
Wil Bergman wakes in a stranger’s house with a busted leg, a bullet-creased scalp, and no horse. Trail-weary, robbed, and penniless, his dreams and plans for a future are suddenly unattainable. Forced to recuperate in the home of a country doctor, he finds himself at the mercy of a surgeon whose sister’s healing touch has power to stitch up his lonely heart and open his eyes to the impossible.
ABOUT DAVALYNN
Davalynn Spencer is the award-winning author of ten inspirational Western romance titles, both contemporary and historical. She is a former journalist, the wife and mother of professional rodeo bullfighters, and chief wrangler of Blue the Cowdog and mouse detectors Annie and Oakley. Contact her via her website at https://www.davalynnspencer.com .
Links:
Snow Angel buy link: https://amzn.to/2pPaLbE
Quarterly Author Update and free ebook: http://eepurl.com/xa81D






Monday, November 12, 2018

Make Haste Slowly by Amy Rognlie ends 11/19


Please welcome Amy Rognlie to my blog this week. Amy is giving away a pdf copy of Make Haste Slowly. Be sure to leave your email and a comment to enter. 

Setting in Real Life

Fiction writers know the importance of setting. If the same storyline with the same characters was set in Victorian England, it would somehow be a totally different story than one set in the 1900’s in wilds of Alaska, wouldn’t it?

Anyway, as a writer, I got to thinking about the importance of setting in my own life story. I have author friends who can write anywhere at any time. I have difficulty with that, probably since I am such a homebody at heart. Writing in the same room at the same desk day after day helps me stay focused. I enjoy the physical setting of my office; my sense of “settledness” when I’m there. I’m blessed to have a dedicated space for writing and thought you might enjoy a little peek inside.

Otherwise known as "the office," the place where I create characters, plots and titles draws me in with open arms. Sunshine streams through the divided-pane windows, as the salmon-pink geranium, crowded next to the aloe plant, soaks up more than its share of the hot light, barely shaded by the lacy curtains. The African violets lift their velvety leaves in the morning, then shrink back into the shadows in heat of the afternoon, while I type words and paragraphs, and more words and paragraphs and sometimes a whole book.

The books crammed onto my shelves reflect the various interests of a lifetime...theology, World War II history, knitting, prayer, gardening, writing, teaching, and a row of colorful journals, chronicling my inner life. Some of the journals are wire-bound, making it easy for me to flip through the bygone years of my life. Three other journals are cheap and flower-covered, from the bargain bin at the craft store. But it's the words that are important. The smell of the ink and the decades-old pages...the blurred spots where tears have dropped onto the pages, the litany of prayers prayed, and answers received. I run my hand along the shelf, and dust sticks to my fingers. Life has been too busy lately. 

I close the door against the sounds of my life...the dog's nails clicking on the hardwood floor, the baseball game droning along on the TV with no one watching it...the whoosh and whirr of the air conditioning. I am in my own world of quiet, alone with my thoughts, yet spurred on by my goals. 


Amy Rognlie writes inspirational fiction, including mysteries and historical novels. When not writing, she is teaching middle school language arts or leading a Bible study at the local jail. Amy lives in Central Texas with her husband, dogs (including a pug, of course), and a plethora of plants, yarn, and books.













Where There's a Will BCC: A mysterious postcard,
a decades-old mystery, and a cranky realtor have suddenly thrown Callie Erickson’s plans into a tailspin. Callie, Todd and friends have their hearts set on building Hope House, a home for sex-trafficking victims. But before they can make much headway, Callie is confronted with the mysterious death of someone much closer to her than she’d like.



Was it murder? Callie isn’t so sure, but with Todd’s help, she’s doing her best to find out, even as she is drawn deeper into their relationship. Can she trust herself to love him? In the meantime, Aunt Dot and Harry are dealing with intrigue of their own. Will Harry’s missing relatives ever be found? As Callie delves deeper, she learns startling answers to these questions and to the questions of her own heart.


Monday, November 5, 2018

Stagecoach to Liberty by Janalyn Voigt

A Little-Known Story from the Wild West

Have you ever relocated, only to have it not work out to your advantage? Most of us move to improve our circumstances, but sometimes we run into problems. When the new home is in a foreign country, add in the element of the unknown, and troubles take on a certain intensity. I learned this when I moved to the Australian Outback with my husband for a stint at a remote military station. Going to town on the bus turned into a traumatic experience when I couldn’t remember my address on the return trip. I’m sure I left my handprint embedded on the steering wheel after driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road. And I’ll never forget the tall ostrich-like bird that chased me. How was I to know he was the neighborhood’s pet emu with nothing on his mind but the possibility of a handout?
Traveling to a foreign country drains a person of energy, and navigating one threatens your self-confidence. On top those challenges, what if the people who brought you there betrayed you? That was the case for some of the girls who entertained in Wild West dancehalls. 
While researching Montana Gold, a western historical romance series, I stumbled across a reference to the young women who traveled to America from Hesse, a part of Germany. During impoverished times, the ’hurdy-gurdy girls’ played and danced to draw crowds of customers to buy their homemade brooms. These women came to the notice of unscrupulous people who promised them a better life in America and money to send home to their families. The women arrived in America with little recourse but to rely on those who had brought them.
The fate of the hurdy-gurdy girls largely depended on the treatment they received. Some lived well, but others fell into poverty. Often sick, the less-fortunate among them lived a hard life far from their homeland. Not all became prostitutes, but some did.
What I learned changed my image of dancehall girls in the Wild West. I’d accepted the stereotypical image of them as willing prostitutes. The reality was far more complicated. Not all hailed from Germany. Most were American women drawn from farms or mills by handbills promising easier work in the West. Widows or single women of good background also wound up in dancehalls.  
Stagecoach to Liberty gives a different view of the hurdy-gurdy girls of the American West. Elsa, the heroine of Stagecoach to Liberty, wants to remove herself from a burden on her widowed mother and to help support her younger siblings. Heartsick and far from home, she doesn’t trust the man and woman who lured her and others from their village. Bound by the contract she signed and obligated by the cost of her fare, Elsa feels trapped. When she meets a handsome stranger with an Irish accent on the stagecoach, however, her hope to escape revives.
The perspective I’d gained from overseas travel gave me a window into the trials of the hurdy-gurdy girls. Their story was largely untold but I felt an important one.
About Stagecoach to Liberty
Can a desperate young woman trust the handsome Irish stranger who wants to free her from her captors?
Elsa Meier, a talented young Hessian girl who plays the hurdy-gurdy and dances, signs a contract to entertain miners in the Wild West. Elsa travels to America in the company of Miles and Alicia Peabody, the brother and sister who persuaded her mother to allow her to go. Elsa hopes for freedom and the chance to send money home to help her family. Instead she comes to the attention of a wealthy and unscrupulous man. On a stagecoach traveling into Montana Territory, Elsa conveys her peril to a handsome stranger with an Irish accent. 
Con Walsh, on a quest to find out the truth about himself, stumbles into a dangerous situation involving a frightened young woman in need of rescue. Despite his own pressing troubles, he finds that her safety matters to him more than his own.
Set in Montana during its gold rush -- a time troubled by outlaws, corruption and vigilante violence, Stagecoach to Liberty explores faith, love, and courage in the wild west. This story can stand alone or continue the saga that began with Hills of Nevermore and Cheyenne Sunrise.
About Janalyn Voigt
Janalyn Voigt’s father instilled a love of literature in her at an early age by reading chapters from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Robinson Crusoe and other classics as bedtime stories. When she grew older and her father stopped reading stories at night, she continued putting herself to sleep with tales she ‘wrote’ in her head. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Janalyn became a voracious reader, something she credits with teaching her to write. She trained as a classical vocalist, which explains why her writing is often described as musical.
When she's not immersed in one of her story worlds, Janalyn can usually be found weeding the garden, spending time with her family, or reading.
Find out more about Janalyn Voigt: janalynvoigt.com