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Follow my journey toward publication. Laugh, cry, point and stare-- it's all good. I'll leave a trail so that you, my fellow author, may have a straighter path to finding your own elusive publishing contract. Adventure awaits. Let's travel together...



Sunday, November 30, 2014

Advent Begins!

Tonight my family lit our first Advent candle of 2014. I don't know if you follow the tradition, but in our household we only loosely follow the usual "model." I don't stick with the candles' meanings of hope, joy, etc. I instead choose four topics to lead us up to Christmas. In the past I've focused on prophecies of the Messiah for example.

This year I wanted to tell the whole story. After all, how can we expect our children to feel "a thrill of joy" about Christ's birth if they don't have an existing understanding of our desperate need for a Savior? So my plan is as follows.

Week 1: Creation and the Fall
Week 2: The Effects of Sin
Week 3: Signs of His Coming
Week 4: Birth of the Savior

I intend to make these very very simple so my five year old can understand. But I think in so doing, the rest of us are blessed as well. Below is the message I prepared and read at our candle lighting tonight and I thought I'd share. I hope it blesses you.

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When God made the world, a long time ago, He made everything very GOOD. There was nothing to complain about or be afraid of. People could hang out with wild animals without danger. [What’s a wild animal you’d like to play with if it wasn’t dangerous? A lion? A crocodile?] And growing food was easy because there were NO WEEDS. The Bible says there were no thorns even! So the rose bushes would never be sharp. Also, nobody got stomach aches or sore throats because there were NO SICK GERMS.

It was wonderful. Totally amazing. Perfect. And it would have stayed that way forever if the first people had trusted God when He told them that one single tree in all the huge garden they lived in would ruin everything if they ate from it. In fact, if they ate from that tree, it would make them start to die. So God told them about that dangerous tree and not to eat it. But all the other trees were healthy and yummy and they could eat anything else they wanted.

But they didn’t believe God about the bad tree. Eve and Adam hung around that tree looking at it, wondering what it tasted like. Satan hung out there too, in the form of a serpent, and he convinced them God was lying. That the tree’s fruit would make THEM like God too. And instead of believing what God said about the tree, they believed Satan and so they ate the fruit. And from then on, everything changed.

Sickness, thorns, pain, embarrassment, and death entered the world. Wild animals became dangerous and might bite. Adam and Eve could no longer live in the perfect garden (of Eden), they had to leave that place. And in fact, they began to grow old and eventually die. Their children were born this way as well. Every baby ever born from then on—all the way down to you and me—would have the same problem. Things were not perfect any more.

God punished the serpent making him slither on his belly, and He also gave a prophecy for the future. God told Satan that one day a child would be born who would “stomp his head” and undo the damage caused by Satan’s trickery. That child would be the one to save the world from the death that came because of SIN.

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Next week when we talk about the effects of sin, I plan to share some easy illustrations to help explain how we've ALL sinned and have no hope of saving ourselves. See you then--and have a wonderful first week of December!


Saturday, November 8, 2014

COTT's September Clash Champion


And we have a champion! 

Congratulations to clash winner Sharyn Kopf and her book Spinstered: The Novel. A touching debut, Spinstered began as a nonfiction book idea and, through God's design, became a novel that will speak to many women. For those in the Cleveland area, Sharyn will be selling and signing her novel at the Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy Craft Fair in Cuyahoga Falls on Saturday, November 15, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and she'd love to meet you there!

Early reviewer Anne Lemon says this about Spinstered:"Spinstered is a poignant and realistic portrait of extended singleness. It offers comfort and hope to readers who have never married and are brokenhearted about it. It's also just a plain good read that single women will see themselves in, laugh, and maybe cry, too. ... In Kopf's novel, just like in real life, the gut-punches of our alone-ness don't always get resolved in a marital happy ending. But she offers the promise that we all can have the prize that Catie ultimately finds. For this message of hope, single readers will be grateful."


Spinstered, The Novel: 

Three friends. Three stories. Three women trying to figure out how they ended up over 40 and still single.

Committed to her job and pushing fifty, Catie Delaney has almost given up on her dream of love and marriage. Maybe, she tells herself, she’d be happier just embracing her singleness. Maybe that's been God’s will all along.

Catie's friends, Jolene and Uli, have their own struggles with men, careers, and family.

Then into this mix of feminine angst walks Brian Kemper—the latest GWP (Guy With Potential) to join their church’s singles group. But just as something seems about to happen between him and Catie, her world falls apart.

With their hearts on the line, these three friends search for hope ... and find it in unexpected places.

Purchase Spinstered, The Novel:





Pull up a chair now and join us for a look inside the creation of this book, and a glimpse of its author's heart.
Let’s start at the beginning—how long have you wanted to be a writer and what did you envision for your writing life?

I knew I wanted to be a writer when I wrote my first poem at the age of 5. And, for the longest time, that dream meant being a romance novelist. In my 20s, I saw myself becoming the clean, Christian version of Kathleen Turner’s character in Romancing the Stone—enjoying a life of adventure and romance and lots of bestsellers.

So, what happened?
Well, things didn’t turn out the way I imagined. (Do they ever?) On October 15, I turned 51 and, though I suppose I’ve had a few mild adventures, I still dream of true love and being such a popular novelist that even people in the jungles of Columbia have heard of me.

Then, in my 40s, I realized I needed to write about my single heart and broken dreams. When I started working on Spinstered, it was a nonfiction book about grieving singleness. I took the seven stages of grief—denial, disbelief, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression and hope—and applied them to what I was dealing with as a 40-something single woman.

A few years later, while at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, a friend encouraged me to focus on my fiction writing. As a result, Spinstered the Novel was born.

What are some of your strengths as a writer?
Years ago, I had the privilege to work for the in-house radio marketing department at Focus on the Family. I learned I not only love writing scripts and dialog but I’m pretty good at it. I even won a few awards while I was there.

I’m also passionately committed to making my manuscript as good as I can. Though that can also be a detriment because I’m a bit OCD about it, which means I have a hard time letting something I wrote go until it’s perfect. And it’s never perfect.

Continuing that thought, what are your weaknesses as a writer?
Well, to be honest, I don’t write as much as I should. I think it’s a mixture of fear and laziness. Fear that what I write won’t be any good. And the laziness that comes from letting other things distract me from what I know needs to be done. Like spending too much time on Facebook.

Why did you decide to self-publish Spinstered?
That’s a long, sad story but suffice it to say I went through a disappointing contract experience that did not end with a published book. In the meantime, numerous interactions with singles fed the urgency I felt to get this book to the audience I know is out there.

My choice was to start over with submitting to agents or editors—a process that can take years—or self-publish. Since the novel had already gone through several rounds of edits, I knew I could have it ready within a week or two. In fact, I was able to make my goal of taking copies to the Labor Day Singles Retreat at Ridgecrest Conference Center near Asheville, NC. I sold several copies there and made some great connections. It also led to my first 5-star review!

What’s next?
First, I plan to finish and self-publish the nonfiction version—Spinstered: Surviving Singleness After 40—in the next few months. In addition, I wrote an unrelated novella titled Cold Read that I hope to have available soon. Finally, I have two sequels to Spinstered the Novel in the works. Book two will be titled Inconceived and I’ll probably name book 3 Altared. Of course, all of that could change. I’m open to whatever God wants to do!


About Sharyn:
Spinstered is Sharyn Kopf’s first novel. Over the years, her work has included co-authoring a book about traumatic brain injury, penning scripts for stage, and writing for newspaper as well as Focus on the Family radio.

Every Friday, Sharyn ponders the over-40 single life at www.girlsnightin40.com, the blog she shares with two other authors. For her day job(s), she works as a literary publicist for Route 1 Manuscripts and teaches high school English at a small Christian school.

She lives in Bellefontaine, Ohio, just five minutes from her favorite people in the world—her family. You can connect with Sharyn through her blog or on Facebook.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

COTT'S September Releases Clash



Welcome to the September clash!!

Five new books for your bookshelf this month! From suspense to humor, these books are the newest addition to CBA. Which one lands at the top of your to-be-read pile? Based on what you see below, please choose the book that grabs you--the one you'd read first. Cast your vote below and help bring one book to the top of the pile!


Winner announced right here on Thursday, November 6!



A TIME TO DIE by Nadine Brandes

In a world where everyone has a Clock showing their day of death, Parvin Blackwater tries to find meaning in her last year alive by rescuing Radicals from the government’s crooked justice system. When the authorities find out about her illegal activity, they cast her through the Wall -- her people's death sentence.

Purchase A Time to Die





CHAPEL SPRINGS REVIVAL by Ane Mulligan

Best friends Claire and Patsy embark on a mission of mishaps and miscommunication, determined to restore warmth to Chapel Springs —and their lives. But with a friend like Claire, you need a gurney, a mop, and a guardian angel.

Purchase Chapel Springs Revival





A PROMISE TO PROTECT by Patricia Bradley

Acting Sheriff Ben Logan hasn’t heard from Leigh Somerall in a very long time, but it doesn’t mean he can get her—or their whirlwind romance of ten years ago—out of his head. In a steamy small town riddled with broken promises, one woman’s secret could change everything.

Purchase A Promise to Protect





KEPT by Sally Bradley

Thirty years into life, Miska Tomlinson is left with nothing but pain, loss, and a boyfriend who won’t leave his wife. But when Dillan Foster moves in next door, Miska realizes that she’s on a path of self-destruction and that there are honorable men—like Dillan who, now that he knows her past, wants nothing to do with her.

Purchase Kept




SPINSTERED THE NOVEL by Sharyn Kopf

Catie, Jolene and Uli aren't sure how they ended up over 40 and still single, but when a new GWP (Guy With Potential) enters her life, Catie begins to think there might be hope ... until her life falls apart. With their hearts on the line, these three friends search for love and find it in unexpected places.

Purchase Spinstered the Novel

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Friday, October 17, 2014

COTT presents Veiled at Midnight by Christine Lindsay




EXPLOSIVE, PASSIONATE—JUST LIKE REAL LIFE—by Christine Lindsay

Seeing the second generation of one’s literary family in the explosive and passionate completion of my series is almost as much fun as watching my real life adult children grow up.

There were hard decisions though. Just like in real life. My setting is one that some readers don’t think they will be interested in. That is until they actually start reading the books. When my sales numbers weren’t as high as some of my peers I wondered if I should chuck the whole idea of finishing this series and start over in a more marketable setting.

But I believe in longevity, the long, slow cook…like raising a family. I stuck with my artistic integrity and finished this series that I believed in. I’m glad I did. The first two books have garnered critical acclaim.

I've watched with pride as the three main characters of Veiled at Midnight, Captain Cam Fraser, his sister Miriam, and the beautiful Indian Dassah whom Cam loves, grow up in the first two books.

In Shadowed in Silk, the reader first meets Cam as a three-year-old boy who doesn't understand why his natural father is unkind to him and his mother Abby when they first arrive in India.


It’s also in the first book that Dassah is mentioned. Here’s that snippet.

“This morning,” the elderly Miriam said, “a poor woman came from one of the villages. Her labor advanced quickly and well. Her husband told her if the baby was a girl to be letting it die.”

Abby held back a cry. “Was it a girl?”

The elder Miriam smiled. “I convinced the mother to leave the infant with us. I am calling her Hadassah, an old Bible name.”

From the moment I first wrote this scene I knew I wanted this baby girl to be the heroine of the final book.

In Book 2 Captured by Moonlight we are introduced to Miriam, Cam’s little sister.

The pram jiggled, setting the toys and trinkets attached to the hood to jingle and clatter. In response, a soft coo issued from within, along with two woolen, booty-covered feet kicking and setting the toys to tinkle again. The little rascal was awake. Abby leaned in and picked up Cam’s nine-month-old sister, Miriam. After kissing the corn-silk hair, she passed the baby to Laine.

You will notice that Cam’s little sister is named after the elderly Miriam in Book 1. This namesake will be just as heroic in the final book.

I had such fun planting the seeds of a passionate romance in book 2 that would burst into full bloom in the final book.

Here’s the first snippet of Cam and Dassah’s romance from Captured by Moonlight.

At five, Cam already showed the tall frame he’d inherited from his natural father, but Cam emulated the character of Geoff. How that boy adored his step-father. As soon as the boy noticed Laine, he ran in her direction and wrapped his arms around her waist.

“Laine, you came.”

“You don’t think for a minute I’d let you sail to the Orient without my goodbye kiss.” Laine kissed him twice on the cheek, and he fidgeted to be free. “And here’s one from your little friend, Hadassah. I saw her tonight at the mission, and she was rather put out that you weren’t there to play with her.”

“Dassah is just a baby.” Cam squirmed out of her arms, a sharp furrow between his brows. “Enough kissing, Laine. You’re much more fun on the cricket pitch than acting like a girl.”

“Oh but I am a girl, and I admit that I like kissing very, very much. You won’t appreciate that fact about girls for a few years, but my dear young man, the day will come....”

In Book 3 Veiled at Midnight these three characters, Cam, his sister Miriam, and Dassah are adults and are heroes and heroines in their own right. One of the fun things about tying up a series is you get to draw on old family sins and emotional pain to rise up again in the next generation. Just like real life. Here they are, all grown up.

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Book Blurb:

VEILED AT MIDNIGHT—Book 3 of the series Twilight of the British Raj

As the British Empire comes to an end, millions flee to the roads. Caught up in the turbulent wake is Captain Cam Fraser, his sister Miriam, and the beautiful Indian Dassah.

Cam has never been able to put Dassah from his mind, ever since the days when he played with the orphans at the mission as a boy. But a British officer and the aide to the last viceroy cannot marry a poor Indian woman, can he?

As this becomes clear to Dassah, she has no option but to run. Cam may hold her heart—but she cannot let him break it again.
 
Miriam rails against the separation of the land of her birth, but is Lieutenant Colonel Jack Sunderland her soulmate or a distraction from what God has called her to do?

The 1947 Partition has separated the country these three love…but can they find their true homes before it separates them forever?

ABOUT CHRISTINE LINDSAY:

Christine Lindsay was born in Ireland, and is proud of the fact that she was once patted on the head by Prince Philip when she was a baby. Her great grandfather, and her grandfather—yes father and son—were both riveters on the building of the Titanic. Tongue in cheek, Christine states that as a family they accept no responsibility for the sinking of that infamous ship.

Stories of Christine’s ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in Colonial India inspired her multi-award-winning, historical series Twilight of the British Raj, Book 1 Shadowed in Silk, Book 2 Captured by Moonlight. The last book in that series Veiled at Midnight is releasing this Oct. 15, 2014.

Londonderry Dreaming is Christine’s first contemporary romance set in N. Ireland.
Christine makes her home on the west coast of Canada with her husband and their grown up family. Her cat Scottie is chief editor on all Christine’s books.

CONNECT WITH CHRISTINE:
Please drop by Christine’s website http://www.christinelindsay.com/ or follow her on Twitter and be her friend on Pinterest , and  Goodreads

Q & A

Are you open to new settings providing you knew the story was good?

How do you feel about stories set during true historical events such as wars?

Do you like a good love story (set in a historical novel), which is somewhat different from a straight romance novel?


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