Romance, Research and Fun Factoids

Sandra Merville Hart is my special guest today. She writes Civil War Romance. I love historical romance. I’ve read a Stranger on My Land the first book in her Civil War series. I’m very interested in her newest release A Rebel in My House. Sandra tells us about it.SandraMervilleHart_Headshot2(1)

A Rebel in My House is set during the turbulent Battle of Gettysburg. The townspeople lived through a nightmare that extended months beyond the battle. This novel gives a glimpse of that suffering through the eyes of a Gettysburg seamstress. A Confederate soldier caught behind enemy lines after retreat needs her help. Sheltering him ushers in more difficulties than she ever imagined. Lines become blurred as her feelings for him grow. Loyalties threaten to divide them as Confederates seize the town.

Both have made promises to family members.

Some promises are impossible to keep.

How do you research for your book?

I read articles online to learn some initial facts. Then I check out nonfiction books from the library and take copious notes. I try to travel to novel settings. Visiting local museums and walking the historic streets piques my imagination. I learn the history and, along the way, the story is born.

What inspired you to write this book?

When it was time to write my next Civil War romance, I knew there was story waiting for me in Gettysburg. My husband traveled there with me. We spent long hours in the battlefields and attended several ranger tours.We took a private ranger tour with a Battlefield Guide who tailored the tour around my questions about Tennessee regiments. A hazy idea formed.

We visited museums in town and learned of the horrific nightmare the women and children endured. Then I knew I had to write their story as well as the experience of the Tennessee regiments.

Share a few Civil War factoids about Gettysburg most people are not aware of.

The Confederate Army gathered both runaway slaves and free citizens when they crossed into Pennsylvania in June of 1863. Many African Americans had fled by the time Confederate General Jubal Early entered Gettysburg on Friday, June 26, 1863, a few days ahead of the famous battle that began on July 1st.

After the battle, Confederates left behind 7,000 comrades too severely wounded to retreat.

The first Confederate soldier killed at Gettysburg was Henry Raison of the 7th Tennessee Infantry. The hero, Jesse Mitchell, in A Rebel in My House is from that regiment.

The Battle of Gettysburg ranks first among our bloodiest Civil War battles with over 40,000 casualties.

Now, I’d like to ask a few questions about you that my readers might find interesting.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

“I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.” Revelation 3:8 (NIV)

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

Start writing now. Don’t let someone else determine whether or not you follow your dream. Take writing classes. Attend writers’ conferences. Learn as much as you can about the craft of writing. Pray that God guides your steps.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My husband is amazingly supportive. If I tell him I need to go to Gettysburg for a research trip, he checks his work calendar to plan a week he can take off with me. I take photographs; he logs where the picture is taken. He helps me figure out directions and mileage between historical towns. When I’m baffled by some historical object in a museum, he helps me figure out how it might have been used. He is amazing.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

I love to read romantic suspense, cozy mystery, contemporary romance, but my favorite genre to read for pleasure is historical romance.

About Sandra Merville Hart:

Sandra Merville Hart, Assistant Editor for DevoKids.com, loves to find unusual or little-known facts in her historical research to use in her stories. Her debut Civil War romance, A Stranger On My Land, was an IRCA Finalist 2015. Her second Civil War romance novel, A Rebel in My House, is set during the Battle of Gettysburg. It released on July 15, 2017. Visit Sandra on her blog at https://sandramervillehart.wordpress.com/.

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A Rebel in My House Book Blurb: Click to order.

When the cannons roar beside Sarah Hubbard’s home outside of Gettysburg, she despairs of escaping the war that’s come to Pennsylvania. A wounded Confederate soldier on her doorstep leaves her with a heart-wrenching decision.

Separated from his unit and with a bullet in his back, Jesse Mitchell needs help. He seeks refuge at a house beside Willoughby Run. His future lies in the hands of a woman whose sympathies lay with the North.

Jesse has promised his sister-in-law he’d bring his brother home from the war. Sarah has promised her sister that she’d stay clear of the enemy. Can the two keep their promises amid a war bent on tearing their country apart?

If you’d like to find out more about Sandra visit any of the links below.

Sandra’s Blog, Historical Nibbles:  https://sandramervillehart.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sandra.m.hart.7

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Sandra_M_Hart

Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/sandramhart7/

Sandra’s Goodreads page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8445068.Sandra_Merville_Hart

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/100329215443000389705/posts

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Sandra-Merville-Hart/e/B00OBSJ3PU/ref=ntt_dp_epwbk_0

Book Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_j3JI-wECyY&feature=youtu.be

If you enjoy these author interviews and want to see more don’t forget to subscribe to Jubilee Writer.

Interview with Dystopian Co-Authors Glenn Turner & Angel Torres

Today is a first for me. I welcome Glenn Turner and Angel Torres to Jubilee Writer. They co-authored The Coming Future, a YA Fantasy. I’ve never had co-authors on my blog so I’m curious about your journey.

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Glenn: I grew up being a reader of science fiction, fantasy, and comic books.  I come from a fairly artsy family, and did a wide range of artistic activities, playing Keyboard, Guitar, Saxophone, French Horn, and Clarinet (maybe a few others that I forget now), as well as a bit of drawing and painting. When I was sixteen, I became a Christian, and I noticed in my Christian community that many folks did not approve of my love of fantasy.  So, with plenty of other things to focus on, my affection for that genre grew cold over the years.

Fast forward to my thirties where I had some free time at one of my jobs, and I just felt inspired to write a bit.  So I did.  And as I did, some of the old stories I read as a kid came to mind.  I began looking into fantasy again, and I made a discovery:  the entire Fantasy genre was started by two Christians: J.R.R. Tolkein, and C.S. Lewis, the latter of which was a prominent theologian.  I realized that some Christians that I had been around had wholesale rejected a literary genre that was created by two solid believers.

As I began writing some stories, I encountered Angel Torres at work.  Angel shared some of his work with me, and then asked if I would like to collaborate on a project with him.  So, began The Coming Future. Honestly, I didn’t take it serious at first.  But as we worked on the project together, I got to be like, “Man, this isn’t too bad. It might go somewhere.”

We finished our first draft in 2015, and got about the business of finding an Agent or a Publisher, culminating in Clean Reads accepting our work in January, 2017, and we were published on 6.20.17.

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Angel: I wasn’t much of a reader in my younger days; I was more into sports, friends, and video games. But everything changed in summer of 1998, when I put my hands on a video game that forever changed my life, Final Fantasy VII. My world was opened wide. I’ve always imagined himself being a professional basketball player, but now, my imagination was inspired by role-playing stories from movies and games. I filled up notebook after notebook with stories, but after moving from Puerto Rico to the United States, my creative vision shifted to writing song lyrics and pursuing the American dream. Then, around 2010, I met Glenn.

Tell my readers, about your project.

Glenn: I’d be happy too.

The Coming Future is a coming-of-age story about a young man, Aalok, who doesn’t quite fit into the place he was born in. He lives in a crystal city on a flat planet where the sun rises out of the sea and sets on the other side of the planet. Aalok belongs to the ‘owr clan, which is the clan of light.  But when he reaches the age where members of his clan begin developing abilities congruent with their clan, Aalok’s abilities are largely silent.  Instead, he begins having apocalyptic dreams of a coming disaster. Suspecting that this is a form of his developing ‘owr abilities, Aalok goes to his instructor at the school, and then the Prime Minister of his city, but his dreams are largely ignored; until the disaster actually happens. Aalok then discovers there may be more to events than natural coincidence.

Intermixed within the book are various struggles with school, sports, and girls, much of which are formed out of the authors’ personal experiences and observations of kids today. Angel, at the time of writing, was a youth group director.

This book was a fun write, and is a fun read.  It has elements of steampunk, fantasy, and a hint of dystopian future that should appeal to today’s young adult audience, but one of our reviews from Amazon reads:  While the story is obviously geared to young readers, it was a very enjoyable read for me, a great-grandma.

What kind of research did you do for The Coming Future?

Angel & I read a fair amount of young adult novels and I made a special effort to watch a few Steampunk movies and shows to better understand the genre. There’s something about Steampunk that just seems fun to me. (Editor’s note: Steampunk is history with a twist of modern science. For example: machine guns during the Renaissance period.)

You may not realize it on a first read, but the work is heavily influenced by the Bible. From the names, many of which are from Biblical Hebrew or Greek, to the clans, whose origins can be found in the first chapter of Genesis, there is a strong Biblical influence to the work.

Several other character names were derived from other languages as well.  For instance, the main character, Aalok, means ‘Light of God’ in Hindi, and he is from the clan of light, the ‘owr, which is the Hebrew word for light.

How does co-authoring work?  How do you guys do this together? 

Initially, the process was a little disjointed. Angel and I got together and discussed what we wanted out of a story. Who is our audience? What style?  What kind of ‘magic’ is in the story? What is our main character going to be like? What about supporting characters? The world? We answered and debated those questions a little, and initially, we agreed on most of that.
After that, I sat down and started writing. The first few chapters came out pretty quickly, and what we see now is pretty similar to what came out initially. Then, after 4 chapters or so, Angel began outlining each chapter with ideas that we wanted to put in the chapter, and I would flesh it out.  Most of the time, I included (almost) all of what he wanted, and then added a bit more as I was inspired.  I kind of walked through the story with Aalok, and thought, “What would he encounter next? What logically flows here?”  I also would ask, “How can I create some more conflict?” and I would sometimes think, “We need a new, interesting character here.”

All of the kids in school, with the exception of Tenebris Pruir, a raging nerd, were mostly Angel’s doing. Aalok’s Dad, the instructor from the exile nation/school, and the coach of the domeball team (domeball is similar to soccer, except, well, in a dome) we worked on together.

So our process was (1) work together on the concepts, characters, and setting, (2) Angel outlines, (3) I write out what Angel outlined, (4) Angel reads what I wrote, adds in a few details or things I forgot, or just stuff that would make it cooler, (5) I edit based on Angel’s feedback, (6) I go back to #3 and write out the next chapter.  Repeat infinitum, or at least until we are done!

What Inspired you to write The Coming Future?

Angel & I set out to write a fun book with relatable characters facing issues that teens face.  We wanted to write characters facing problems where they made good and sometimes bad decisions, and then saw the consequences of those decisions.  At the time we wrote the book, Angel served as a Youth Director at his church, and we modeled some of the struggles the characters face off of what he saw in the lives of kids he knew.

I love layered stories that you have to peel back, so within the book, there are multiple mysteries and things that are happening that you may not realize. Then, when you arrive at something that will come out in book 3, you will go back and look at 1, and realize, “oh, that was that the whole time, and I never saw it!”

We were also inspired by our youths and things that we just didn’t get growing up.  One silly example: as a kid, I never understood stretching before playing baseball. Neither does Aalok. He struggles through stretching exercises when playing sports, wondering why he is doing it.   He also finds himself without appropriate equipment for practice, making him a little unsteady and unsure of himself.  These are all things I’ve faced in my youth.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

Glenn: I very much love Matthew 6:33 – but seek first his kingdom, and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Growing up, I struggled with anxiety a lot.  Working as a Registered Nurse, I always found myself worrying about what I may have missed or forgotten.  This verse calms me and centers me, allowing me to direct my nervous attention to my God rather than my worries. Now, twenty years later, I find that God has given me grace to embrace this verse, and freed me from the worries of my youth.

Angel: My favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:11 – “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” God knows the plan that he has for me and by walking beside him, reading his word, gaining his wisdom and learning perseverance, I always find the love and joy that only he can provide}

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing? 

Glenn: I think much of my focus is self-motivated.  I feel like I have stories living inside me that want to come out!  In my work environment, I will sometimes have an hour or two of dead time without any responsibilities, so I use it to write.  But if I had to select some sort of muse, I would say it comes from conversations I have with my friend, Marc, whom I will be releasing a book and game with in 2019.  I am often excited about writing after chatting with him.

Angel: My best support system to keep me focused on writing is music. My passion and love for music has always been a core value towards the imagination to create stories just like The Coming Future.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Glenn: I love the fantasy genre.  Good ole swords and sorcery and saving the world.  I have enjoyed some urban fantasy as well.

Angel: I love everything in the young-adult fantasy genre.

Where is your favorite place to write?

Glenn: I dunno. I have a romantic image of myself writing in Medard Park in Dover, FL, but I haven’t gotten around to actually doing it yet.  Plus, I’m in the middle of July right now, and it feels like 100 degrees. I think my current favorite is on the back patio, overlooking some trees and, presently, a pond (though it dries up in winter).  It’s very peaceful.

Angel I love to write and get ideas in small close places, like my closet or even in the bathroom. Headphones, music and an open imagination.

Do you listen to anything while writing? 

Glenn: Hmmm… I don’t mind silence.  I like the sounds of nature.  But I also like a Pandora station I made that plays instrumental movie soundtracks.

Angel  I like to listen to instrumental music, like movie soundtracks and instrumental bands like “Hammock”.

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Back-cover blurb for The Coming Future

Living in a crystal city on a flat world, Aalok Collins is an ordinary boy living in an extraordinary place. But Aalok fears that he is a little too ordinary.

All Aalok cares about, besides playing domeball, and, much to his surprise, girls, is his final exam which will determine whether or not he can move on to the Academy next year, or whether he is forced into slavery or exile.  But as he waits on nature to develop within him the powers, or anima that all in his clan possess, he is haunted by dreams of an imminent tragedy.

As he begins exploring the meaning of his dreams, Aalok encounters a plot to take control of an ancient artifact which could change the base of power in the city of Sherendot, and possibly throughout the ‘owr clan.

About the Authors:

Turner & Torres is comprised of Glenn D. Turner & Angel Torres, who met at work at a doctor’s office around 2010. Sharing a love of writing, they began getting together at lunch to comprise a story that young adults could enjoy with characters that readers would be able relate to.

Glenn has some additional writing projects that he is noodling with that may be put into print someday. He deeply adores his wife and four children, and is trying to learn how to play nice with others.

Angel, too, is a dedicated family man who lives in the Tampa Bay area, working in the medical field.  He is excited about the Coming World, Turner & Torres’ second installment of the Aalok Collins series.

Thanks for stopping by, guys. Sounds like a fun adventure in store for your readers.

Click the title to purchase The Coming Future.

 

 

Larry W Timm shares His Suspense Writing Journey

Suspense writer Larry W. Timm is my guest today. I always love learning what passion brought an author to write their story.  I’m sure you’ll be encouraged by Larry’s journey.

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Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

The power of words has always fascinated me. However, it wasn’t until the last ten years that I finally decided to chase this dream. I joined American Christian Fiction Writers, and that led to some life-changing friendships that fueled the fire. I started studying the craft and business of writing, joined a local writer’s group, finished a couple of novels, started a few more, pitched my two finished manuscripts, refused to let rejections crush me, then signed a contract for my first book to be published with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. The road has been tough—with plenty of ups and downs. But, at the same time, it has been a thrill. I’m glad I’m on the journey!

What is your latest published project?

My debut suspense novel is called MURDER FOR EMILY’S SAKE. It’s about three women who are being stalked by a man who believes they are responsible for his teenage daughter’s death. He has convinced himself that had the women not confronted his daughter, Emily, outside of the abortion clinic and convinced her not to end her pregnancy, she would still be alive.

But they had spoken to Emily, and she had listened. Emily had made the decision to let her child live. Sadly, however, a few months later, a rare complication would cause Emily’s death in the delivery room.

Now, her father, sinking deeper and deeper into dark despair, vows he will bury the three women, just like he had to bury his beloved daughter. And he’s sure that after he buries them, they will eventually die…for Emily’s sake.

How did you research your book?

I drew from a variety of sources when working on a story. Like most writer’s, there are tidbits from personal experience that I used with the hopes of adding depth or believability to a scene. I also contacted people who answered my many questions. I also used the internet and the library, as well as various materials I have gathered over the years.

Basically, I do as much research as I think I need to do to make something believable enough that it doesn’t stop a reader from enjoying the story.

 What inspired you to write your book?

MURDER FOR EMILY’S SAKE grew out of an intense desire to write a story that highlighted the gifts that God gives to us, starting with the gift of Life. I wanted to use suspense as the fiction vehicle to both entertain and enlighten. My goal was to paint an engaging word picture of how Life is not only one of God’s greatest gifts, it is also one of the most fragile. I pray that readers will see that the sanctity of human Life is not only threatened before birth, but many times it is threatened afterwards by choices we make.

I was also inspired by my experiences serving with and around others who are on the frontline of the intense work of defending the lives of the unborn.

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When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

My fascination with storytelling goes back as far as I can remember. But a sense of “calling” began directing that fascination after I became a Christian in 1981. At first, I wrote non-fiction (devotional articles, ministry-related articles, etc.), but always wanted to also write novels.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would it be?

I love this question! I would probably go back to the evening of January 18, 1981. That was the evening I became a Christian. I would pull myself aside and say, “Don’t wait to start writing novels! Get started now!”

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

This is easy to answer! My wife, Kristal, (and our family) is my best support system as I stumble my way down the writer’s pathway. She has always believed in me, and made me feel like this was possible. And she’s been willing to sacrifice so I could go to conferences, writer’s groups, buy books, and spend money on various writing-related things. She’s awesome. She understands that writers are “different” and she puts up with me.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Suspense is my favorite, but I will read books from other genres. I suppose I prefer reading and writing suspense because it keeps me engaged in the story.

 Where is your favorite place to write?

Oddly enough, I don’t have a “favorite” place. Or, at least, I haven’t found one yet. The best places for me to write are places with a comfortable chair and room for me to pace. And if Dr. Pepper and snacks are allowed and available, that’s a bonus!

What are your goals for your writer’s journey ahead?

I hope to travel on both the fiction and the non-fiction roads. I have one more novel completed, and a few others started. I also have a series of 10-day devotionals finished, and more on the drawing board. And recently, a good friend and fellow-writer urged me to write a non-fiction book describing my family’s battle with my daughter’s cancer. I will do the best I can to pursue all of these things.

What could readers of this blog do to help tell others about your book?

Since “word-of-mouth” promotion is the most effective form of getting others engaged, I’d be grateful if those who read and participate in Jubilee Writer’s would post my website information on Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media venues they use. My website address is www.booksbylarrywtimm.com

Additionally, if someone reads—and likes—the book, I would appreciate it they would take the extra time to rate the book on Amazon and Goodreads. Obviously all 4 and 5-star reviews are helpful…especially 5 stars (wink, wink, grin).

Your novel sounds intriguing. I enjoyed having you as my guest.

Thank you very much for giving me the privilege of talking about my book, MURDER FOR EMILY’S SAKE.

More about the author:

Larry W. Timm is a husband, father, preaching minister with the Morton Christian Church is Morton, Illinois, and a writer.

Website: www.booksbylarrywtimm.com (the website has links for those who want to buy the book, as well as a “Contact” form for those who want to send a message to Larry.

 

If you find help and encouragement from author interviews like this one, and the writing tips I share don’t forget to subscribe. You can get Jubilee Writer in your email twice a week.

 

A Visit from Children’s Author Eve Culley

Eve Culley, author

Today I have as my guest another jubilee writer, children’s author Eve Culley. Her love of storytelling bloomed after her children were grown. I am encouraged you followed your passion, Eve. Please, share with my readers a little about your writing journey.

I started writing while I was in grade school. I continued writing through high school and then I allowed marriage children, college, and missionary work to slowly push my writing aside.  Instead I told stories to my children and grandchildren. There were sporadic times of writing but they were few and far between. The need to put words on paper surfaced when I retired. My joy as a writer and a storyteller bloomed again.

What is your latest published project?

My second book, Further Adventures in Barn Town, is due out the end of Aug. to the first of Sept. 2017. It is to be published by Clean Reads.  Adventures in Barn Town, was published Feb. 2016 by Clean Reads.

How do you research for your childrens book?

I research my stories in several ways. I pick peoples brains about the subject. I read, read, read either on the internet or in books about the subject and I “people” watch for the interaction and resolving of issues.  I say “people” watch when actually I am watching the animals I write about.

What inspired you to write your books?

I have all these story lines bouncing around in my head: main story lines, back stories of the characters. I write more fluidly, I think, than I speak and the stories push/demand to be let out. When the story is on paper, the characters are fleshed out, then there is room for the next story to push to be let out. But you asked what inspired me to write. Hmmm. It would have to be the interaction between my characters. I hear them speak in their own voices and they tell me their stories. I just write what they tell me.

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When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

I have always been told that I needed to be quiet, that I talked too much.  So I created worlds where I was in control, where I was safe. Writing, putting words on paper did that for me allowing that need to be fulfilled. I write for me, not so much the world. I am very thankful to the good Lord that people like to read my work, but truth be told, even if they didn’t I would still write.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

Jeremiah 29:11

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

Carve out a time between schooling, marriage, kids and continue to write.  What you need, what you desire is just as important as the rest of things.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My hubby is great about picking up my slack when I am writing, but I have to say that it is the work itself that keeps calling me back to finish, to start a new work, to continue to write.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

The “who-done-its”. Erle Stanley Gardner (Perry Mason), Dashiell Hammett (the thin man) and the like.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I have a T.V. tray set up in the living room with my laptop in front of my big recliner, that way I can be with my hubby as I write.  I pretty much tune everyone and everything out but at least I am there. (grin)

More about Eve Culley:

During the 1970’s and 80’s, my husband and I were missionaries working in the United States.  We worked in different church print shops where Bibles, New Testaments, and individual books of the Bible were printed in different languages and shipped around the world.  We traveled across the U.S.  to raise money for paper, ink and shipping cost for the Bibles.  A lot of travel was required to gather the necessary money needed. As we traveled I would tell stories to our two young sons of adventure, heroes, and villains.

Once our sons grew into adulthood the stories stopped.  When our grandchildren would visit, the stories were requested again until they too grew out of them. But the story telling refused to die and go away.  Instead a hunger grew in me to put my stories on paper and books grew out of them. I write adventures for children to read, believe in and take life lessons from.

Story-telling is as much a part of me as breathing. I have found that I have to tell stories and put them on paper. I need to make room for the other stories that are building in my mind and will need to be told soon.  So, enjoy the ride. Stripe, the Sheriff, and even Rooster Cogburn have a lot of fun they want to share with you.

Eve Culley –  blog https://barntown.wordpress.com/

You can order Adventures in Barn Town online at Amazon or Barnes and Nobel

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01KLLEXRS/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Barnes and Nobel https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/adventures-in-barn-town-eve-culley/1125994126?ean=9781621355984

I hope Eve’s story inspires you to follow your writing dream. It’s never too late. I’ve been posting a lot of interviews lately because I believe hearing other writer’s stories keeps us all focused on the journey to publication. It reminds us to never give up. If you have any questions for Eve post them in the comment section.

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Add Write With Excellence to your Writer’s toolbox

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I was good at grammar in school. Found it boring but did well. Remembering the fine points—not so much. As an organic writer, I have found that, something sounding right doesn’t make it correct.  When I got acquainted with other writers, I took their advice to heart. Jerry B Jenkins recommended The Elements of Style by Strunk and White. It’s the classic go-to book of grammar for writers. He said he reads through it every year. I determined to do the same. The original bookmark is still there. Halfway through, my eyes blurred. Don’t get me wrong, the information is helpful.  But The Elements of Style is not a cover-to-cover read. Then again, Jerry read through a set of encyclopedias as a kid.

A few years later I met Joyce K. Ellis, grammarian extraordinaire at a writer’s conference. She has a witty way of explaining grammar. Her classes at conferences were always fun to attend. And her grammar column in the Christian Communicator helped me remember what I’d forgotten.

I asked her when she was going to write a grammar book. I promised I would buy it. And over time—and with others asking the same question—Joyce wrote Write with Excellence 201. The tagline is awesome: a lighthearted guide to the serious matter of writing well for Christian authors, editors and students. It is a fun guide through the sticky parts of grammar and some basics we’ve gotten a little sloppy about.

This book is an easy, entertaining read. Each chapter is full of examples of proper grammar use. Lots of helpful stories and examples. There is a quiz at the end of each chapter. No grades here. The answers are in the back of the book.  So, you’re allowed the cheat if you get stuck. The index is a quick, very thorough reference for problem areas.

Write with Excellence is engaging enough to read from cover-to-cover. She even made me consider using the dreaded sentence diagram as a tool. (Maybe) I recommend keeping her book handy for reference as you write. It’s awesome to have at your critique group when questions arise. No more doubts about grammar issues.

I highly recommended adding this great resource to your craft books.

How many of you struggle with the finer points of grammar? What is your favorite resource?

 

Writing Prompts and Giveaway

writing

Have you ever been to a writer’s class where the teacher starts it out with a writing prompt? You get a few minutes to write something based on a sentence opener. A few brave students share their words. I hate it. Don’t misunderstand, I love writing prompts they get my mind engaged and the creative juices flowing.  I don’t want to share that initial mess with anyone. I always write poo my first attempt. There are moments I’m inspired immediately and the cleaver words flow onto the page. But that is rare.

The writing prompt isn’t designed to embarrass or prove what pathetic creatures we writers are. It’s a chance to loosen words from your brain. Like fruit trees the ripe ones fall to the ground first where they get bruise and rot in a short time. Later we get a ladder and pluck the ripe fruit by hand carefully placing it in baskets. The bruise fruit can still nourish as part of a pie or sliced so only the good parts show. But if they’d never fallen to the ground, we’d not have realized how ripe the fruit was getting. How ready we were to write those particular words. Creating something delicious for the reader.

Completing a sentence not of our own creation can open our mind to so many possibilities. A storyline forms, a call to action from deep in our heart takes shape or a long overdue belly laugh sets us in the right mood to open those neglected word documents.

Below is a list of prompts. Pick one.  No timer—just write. When you’re done reread it. How’d it turn out?  Did the exercise inspire? Are you ready to conquer those other projects?

Here they are:

Why is it Mildred always___________

 

“Harald, this is the last time______________

 

Willy raced ahead, his legs pumping hard on the pedals of his ten-speed. “Why ___________

 

“Pling, pling, pling water droplets beat against the pans covering the floor____________

 

Blood smears trailed along the kitchen floor to the back door where a large _______

 

Let’s make it more interesting

You can start with the prompt or put it anywhere within the paragraph or two or three or pages of words your imagination pours out for you. Have fun.

Anyone who is brave enough to share their creation (or a part of it if it goes beyond a few paragraphs) in the comments please do. If you prefer to tell me how doing this exercise help their creativity. Wonderful. All commenters will be entered into a giveaway.  I’ll send an autographed copy of Secrets & Charades to one winner.

If you’ve read Secrets & Charades I’ll send a copy of Writing in Obedience: A primer from Christian Fiction writers by Terry Burns and Linda W Yezak as an alternative.  So, enjoy the prompts. Write away and comment. The drawing will take place next Tuesday the 25th.

Don’t forget if you’re not following this blog but would like to please subscribe so you don’t miss a posting.

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A Visit with Novelist Janet Grunst

Today, I welcome Janet Grunst, another Jubilee Writer whose journey to publication was as long and full of life’s unexpected twists as my own. It’s a delight to have her join me today.

Janet S. Grunst 2

Share your journey with us.

In the early 80’s I wrote human interest columns for two local newspapers which got me interested in the vocation of writing. But I had a story that was germinating in my head and wondered if I could try my hand at writing stories.

I began reading books, writing fiction and asked God if that was the call I sensed He was giving me. With two very active preschool sons at home I needed to know it was His will and that He would make a way.

The Lord’s confirmation came through loud and strong and over the next year He provided the time for me to study the craft and research the historical era of the story.  I’m certain He helped me weave the tale. Then I studied how to market a manuscript to Christian publishers in an era when one didn’t need an agent. I submitted it unsuccessfully for several years.

I had to put the writing and searching for a publisher pursuit aside when life necessitated my getting full time employment to raise my sons on my own.

Many years passed, my children were grown, and my circumstances changed, including re-marriage. My husband read the story I’d written so many years before and encouraged me to once again try to get it published and continue to write.

So much had changed in the writing and publishing world in the intervening years. Lots of studying and editing ensued. I needed and found an agent who saw promise in the story and wanted to represent me. The advent of e-books, the need to have a platform, an online presence via blogging, websites, and social media required a lot of research, studying and developing a multitude of new skills.

Tell my readers, about your latest published project.

That original story, written so many years ago, was my debut novel published in December of 2016 ~ A Heart Set Free. I’m humbled and thrilled that it just won the Selah Award for Historical Romance in May.Other Cover A H S F - Copy(1)

Congratulations, Janet.

What kind of research did you do for A Heart Set Free?

When I started the story, it was in the era before the internet so I did a lot of research through libraries and reading everything I could get my hands on. I also visited an actual 18th century farm that was still operational not too many miles from my home. Since then, most of my research is via the internet or books.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

There are so many I love. Probably John 1:12 holds the most meaning.  “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” This verse truly spoke to me when my faith in Christ changed from believing in Him to also receiving Him and allowing Him to be Lord of my life. My faith traveled those critical 18 inches from my head to my heart.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

I would tell myself to not fear writing because I couldn’t make a living at it. Do it as an avocation and see where it takes you.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing? 

My husband, Ken, is such an encourager and will read anything I write. He is a luthier (builds guitars) so he understands that pursuing one’s vocation often means many hours of isolation on a regular basis.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Historical fiction. 😊But I also enjoy biographies, devotionals, and other fiction as well as non-fiction.

Where is your favorite place to write? 

My desksigning my first book contract(1)

 

Here’s the back-cover blurb for A Heart Set Free

In 1770, Heather Douglas is desperate to escape a brewing scandal in her native Scotland. Penniless and hoping for a fresh start far away, she signs a seven-year indenture and boards a British merchant vessel headed to Virginia.

Widowed planter Matthew Stewart needs someone to help raise his two young children. The tall blonde standing on the Alexandria quay doesn’t look like much after her harrowing sea voyage, but there’s a refinement about her that her filthy clothing cannot hide. Could God be leading him to take this unknown indentured servant as his wife?

When Matthew purchases Heather’s indenture, marries her, and takes her to his farm, she is faced with new and constant challenges. And Matthew wonders if they can ever bridge their differences and make a life together.

It is in the Virginia countryside that Heather begins her greatest journey, one of self-discovery and of maturing faith. Here, she discovers that her emotional and spiritual scars bind her far more than her indenture . . .

and love will finally set her heart free.

Author Bio

Janet is a wife, mother of two sons, and grandmother of eight. She lives in the historic triangle of Virginia (Williamsburg, Jamestown, Yorktown) with her husband. A lifelong student of history, her love of writing fiction grew out of a desire to share stories that can communicate the truths of the Christian faith, as well as entertain, and bring inspiration, healing, and hope to the reader.  She is represented by Linda S. Glaz, Hartline Literary Agency

Connect with Janet Grunst:

http://JanetGrunst.com                                                                                               http://colonialquills.blogspot.com/                                                                                       https://www.facebook.com/Janet-Grunst-Author-385405948228216/

Order A Heart Set Free at the link below

https://www.amazon.com/Heart-Set-Free-Janet-Grunst-ebook/dp/B01MQK0SXR/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1480454877&sr=1-2&keywords=A+Heart+Set+Free

There are more Author interviews coming this year. If you enjoy these inspirational stories and getting the scoop on new releases please subscribe before you leave this page. 🙂