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...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Blog Alliance Partners!

*guest post by Gail Pallotta

Thank you to our blog alliance partners

Jessica Keller works from an office her husband set up for her in their Chicago home. Using a bright orange laptop she posts five days a week. She blogged big-time in college, garnering a huge following. She says, “It got to the point where people I didn’t know would walk up to me and start talking…about my life because they were addicted to my blog.” 
After graduation she ended that blog and went to work in the records department of law enforcement. She figured her blogging days were over, but she started writing novels. She thought about author blogs she loved and wanted to “create a place like that so…someday when a novel-length piece is published…” she’ll already have a blog.
Her blog reflects her love of baking, her communications and Biblical studies degree and her enthusiasm for books. She’ll read over one hundred this year. On Mondays she muses about life in general. Tasty Tuesdays give cooking advice and recipes. On Writing Wednesdays she shares her writing struggles and advice or hosts experts. Thick-of-it-Thursdays feature a spiritual message, and Fridays for Readers introduces new writers. At least once a month there’s a cookie give away. Yum.
During the past nine years she’s written articles, short stories and a novella and recently made the finals in three contests. When she isn’t writing she runs in 5K’s and mentors college-aged women. When asked for a random fact about herself she said, “I have two cats named for super heroes, Bruce Wayne and Clark Kent.”
Visit Jessica's blog here.

Carol Moncado blogs about life and writing from a big cushy chair in a basement in the Ozarks. She says the area “is slowly becoming my office/library.” She’s written on and off ever since she was a kid, seriously for the last two years. She blogs everyday attracting readers, other writers and friends who want to know a little more about her, her writing and the authors she likes. She says, “I try to have humor – and we all know laughter is the best medicine!I love to get comments.”
As for her writing, she’s currently blogging her way through NaNoWriMo. When she isn’t blogging or working on her own writing projects, she takes care of four children, reads and watches television. Her all time favorite show – NCIS.
When asked to share a random fact about herself she said, “When we moved into our first house, we moved on Friday the 13th to a house on Elm Street. We found and put an offer on our second [current] house on 06/06/06.”
Visit Carol’s blog here.

Marianne Evans started her blog, A Minute with Marianne, a little over two years ago. She says, “I loved the idea of chronicling my thoughts and expanding my writing platform…Call it ‘keeping up with the times.’” An added bonus. “It’s a blast…”
She posts almost once a week. A Minute with Marianne introduces readers to writers and books they may not otherwise hear about. Marianne says, “There are so many wonderful inspirational, Christian themed books out there. I love shining a light on them and getting the word out on new and exciting authors.” Her blog also covers writing inspirations, motivational tidbits, reviews and publishing news.
She keeps her blog casual with highlights on having fun, getting to know people and sharing a passion for great writing. When Marianne isn’t blogging, she writes.  She’s A Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence winner for Hearts Crossing. She was a 2011 finalist for Christian Small Publisher Book of the Year for Hearts Surrender. Marianne says she made the jump from secular romance to Christian Inspirational romance/fiction when “the call on her heart matched the ideas in her head.” Visit her blog here.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Book Release!

There’s a party going on!!

Historical fiction author April W Gardner is celebrating the release of Warring Spirits, the second book in her Creek Country Saga! Everyone who purchases Warring Spirits on Amazon on Thursday, December 15, 2011, will be entered into SIX different drawings for some cool and unique prizes. That’s right—ONE purchase. SIX chances to win. 


She’s also giving away personalized, signed book plates (labels for the inside cover). One for every book you purchase. That’s a lot of bang for your buck. Order today and cross a few names off your Christmas list!

So what’s this book about? Warring Spirits is the sequel to Wounded Spirits, April’s Grace Award winning debut novel. Here’s a bit about today’s featured novel: 

Where blood is spilt, unexpected love may bloom.

In 1816 Georgia, escaped slaves control the land just beyond the American border in Las Floridas. Lost somewhere between white and black worlds, Milly follows hope to the only place that can offer her refuge—the place Georgians are calling Negro Fort. The first, sweet taste of freedom convinces Milly that surrender is not an option. Death would be more welcome.

Major Phillip Bailey has orders to subdue the uprising and return the runaways to their masters. Forced to fight alongside Creek warriors—the same who etched the scars into his mind and flesh—Phillip primes himself for battle.  But inside, a war already rages—return for the woman he thought lost to him or concede her to the enemy she loves; follow orders or follow his heart.

Ready to learn more? Hop to APRIL'S PLACE to see what all the hoopla's about!

This is what author Lynette Bonnor has to say about Warring Spirits: 
“One of the best books I’ve read all year, Warring Spirits by April Gardner pulled me in and kept me turning pages all the way to the satisfying conclusion. Through the eyes of a mixed-blood slave, and a scarred and wounded major, you’ll encounter prejudice, heartache, loss, and a love so palpable you’ll feel it to your very core. Full of grit, realism, and edge of your seat action, Warring Spirits is a story not to be missed!”
                                                               Lynnette Bonner - Author 

I was thrilled to read Warring Spirits after having read Wounded Spirits. I looked forward to finding out what happened with Totka and Adela, the two main characters from the first book, which had left me hanging and begging for more. This book, however, shifts focus onto new and highly intriguing characters. Though I was reluctant at first to embrace their journeys--still eager to stick with the old characters--before long I was fully caught up in Phillip, Milly, Isum, and True Seeker's stories and felt more than satisfied with the experience of living in their world. Mrs. Gardner did a wonderful job of incorporating enough of Adela and Totka's story to keep her fans happy and content with its resolution.

Like the first reviewer said, I think this book is even better written than the author's debut title and I can't wait to see what else she comes up with in future novels. Many authors start off strong before quickly peaking. This one seems on a trajectory for a long and successful career.

If you like historical novels full of God's grace and sovereignty over each of our personal lives, read this book. No matter where you are stationed in life--at the top of the heap, from an abusive background, a victim of prejudice, an empty belly, or a traumatic loss--this book shows how God is present in our lives and circumstances, redeeming it all for those who call to Him. Highly recommended.
Michelle Massaro 

Sound intriguing? Head to APRIL'S PLACE to learn more! Or go straight to AMAZON to get your copy.

--April W Gardner is a multi-published author and the founder and senior editor of the fun literary site, Clash of the Titles.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Judging A Book By Its Cover

*by Michelle Massaro

Last week Clash of the Titles held their first ever Clash of the Covers. This fast-paced clash was different than their usual fare, because instead of judging the author's story, we judged how well their cover designs matched their theme or made us want to pick up the book. There were four books to vote on, from authors Cathy, Erica, Lacy, and Maggie. The books were Marrying Miss Marshal, Spring For Susannah, A Bride's Portrait, and Deeply Devoted.

It was a VERY CLOSE race and it saw enough voter participation to max out the scoreboards!

Some of the comments included:

Spring for Susannah - Susannah is aware of the man but she looks as though she could turn away, or turn towards him.

Marrying Miss Marshall seems to speak volumes about the heroine--just in her position.

The cover of A Brides Portrait, really sells the title by having the woman with a camera on it. Caught my attention.

I love cover C...looks like the "old west"!!!

Marrying Miss Marshal. Hmm, with that rifle laid across her lap, one wonders who's daring enough to approach her, much less marry her. Intriguing.

I loved A Bride's Portrait of Dodge City - it added so many components of the story into the cover besides just a profile :)

Love this (A) - it's intriguing. I'm not sure from the picture whether she's toting for justice, revenge, or protection. Makes me curious.

The Champion Book that was voted
Springtime For Susanna, by Catherine Richmond

This week, COTT is sporting a holiday/winter theme with host Gail Pallotta. We expect it to be another huge turn-out so please join us. We'll cozy up to the virtual fireplace, egg nog in hand, and browse for books. In this case, it's okay to judge the cover. =)

We’ll be taking a break December 26 – January 6
And then come right back on January 9 with a new clash that will – literally – take your breath away! If you're an author, don’t forget to check upcoming open clashes and submit

Friday, December 2, 2011

Rich Aunties and Uncles...

*A guest post by Jessica Dotta

We have much to be judged on when he comes, slums and battlefields and insane asylums, but these are the symptoms of our illness and the result of our failures in love.” -- Madeleine L'Engle

When my brother traveled to the Sudan he had an encounter that changed his life—and as it ends up, mine too.
He stood in Darfur at an orphanage filled with children leftover from the genocide. There were over 800 children, and during the night wild dogs were dragging them off and killing them.
My brother already felt shell-shocked from the travesties he'd witnessed in Uganda.
The day was hot. The sun beat down upon him. His camera had nearly been ruined from all the dust. He'd barely slept. His gear was heavy. Yet his conscience was seared by the numbness he felt, so he turned and confessed to a Sudanese pastor.
"We shall pray right now that your heart will be opened," he was told.
Not long after that prayer three young children approached Joshua and started to follow him. After a bit, his father nature kicked in and he stopped and sang Father Abraham. It didn't take long before the four of them were dancing and going through the motions.
When they finished, he asked the children to tell him how they came to be there.
The oldest, a girl, answered. "The soldiers came and shot my mother and father, so I came here."
The two other children nodded in agreement. "Me, too."
He was grief struck, but it was what transpired next that tore my heart. "Do you have a Mommy?" The little girl asked my brother.
"Yes," he answered.
"And a Daddy?"
Again, his answer was yes.
"Oh," she said, her voice hinting at a strange intermingling of numbness and grief.
Her question stirs me still. For I believe it came from her soul and revealed the thoughts of her heart. She didn't want to know what his country was like, what kind of food he ate, or what he did for a living. She had her own bullet holes leftover from the genocide. Her world consisted of this single question: Who still had parents and who didn't?
In her questions I heard her worry and fear. Imagine being trapped in a war-torn country, a land of famine, drought and disease. Imagine trying to survive it as an orphan with death threatening you every hour. No matter how much she's endured, at the end of the day, she's still just a little girl. And all she really wants is her Mom and Dad.
I imagined my daughter living as an orphan in the Sudan. If I were shot and dying, it would be my hope that my brothers and sisters would care for her. But what if her aunts and uncles were killed too? What was it then, that her parents hoped?
As members of the body of Christ these children are not alone. They have aunts and uncles. Multitudes and multitudes and multitudes of them. Talk about staggering! These kids are our nieces and nephews! Mine. Yours.
So who, I wondered, within the church has the responsibility to step in?
I didn't like the answer that came. Earlier that week I was shocked to learn that globally I was one of the richest people in the world—even though as an American, I'm pretty poor.
Like it or not I was the rich aunt. I had knowledge of the situation. That made me accountable.
I wasn't comfortable with the knowledge then, and I'm not comfortable with the knowledge now. But I am determined to do something. Anything.

That day Joshua had in his possession a picture book that someone had asked him to give to someone in the Sudan. It was a children's book with a story about how we have a Heavenly Father who always loves and cares for us. Joshua read the book and gave it to them.
An American woman took it upon herself to raise the money to build shelter. Every person who donated, even a dollar, helped to create a place where the little girl now sleeps safe from wild dogs.
When Joshua told me he's going to start a branch of Watermelon Ministries called Media Change, a non-profit encouraging Americans to give up a portion of the money spent on entertainment to serve those fighting world hunger and thirst, I wanted to support it.
For seven years he's helped non-profits raise money that serves the "least of these." He's seen the impact a small investment can have. This is a brand new initiative. He's not quite ready to launch, but you can sign up and be kept updated at http://www.mediachange.org/. His first goal is garner the support of 10,000 people who are willing to give $10 a month. I'm number #3.
This is only a blog post, but who knows what one blog post can do.
What if the task of helping others isn't as overwhelming as we make it?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Christine Lindsay: An "Ordinary" Woman with an Extraordinary God

A huge welcome to blogger and author Christine Lindsay!
I asked Christine who she is outside the realm of writing and publication and all that jazz.
"I am so ordinary, it's hilarious. I used to be an administrative assistant, going off to work in suits, high heels and makeup. Now that I'm following the labor of my heart (writing) I work in my home office and wear the closest thing I can get to pajamas—sweat pants and a sweat shirt.
"But there are times I have to go out and leave my beloved laptop behind along with my cat. Then I slap on some mascara, whip a comb through my hair, put on some decent slacks and head out the door with a cup of tea in my hands. I can drive with one hand and drink my tea with the other."
What "ordinary"? That's multi-tasking!
Christine admits that her life is "a whirlwind of stuff," between church and her family. But she still finds time to write.
I asked what inspired her novel, Shadowed in Silk.
"As a British immigrant, I grew up on adventure stories set in British Colonial India. That was as fascinating and adventurous a time in England's history as the Wild West is to Americans," Christine said. "Think gallant cavalry officers dashing off into the desert to bring peace to a volatile land. And think also of their English wives and sweethearts drinking tea and eating cucumber sandwiches in flower-laden gardens."
Ooohhh! And she's not even finished.
 "My number-one favorite book is a secular novel by the famous MM Kaye, Far Pavilions. I always wanted to write a book set in India but from a Christian viewpoint. So I have a Christian major in the British Cavalry charging forward on his steed, searching for Russian spies, trying to keep the peace in a land on the brink of rebellion, and helping a woman and her son who are being abused and neglected by her husband."
The heroine is not a Christian when Shadowed in Silk opens, and she falls in love with this dashing hero.
"He is committed to God," Christine explained. "There is no chance of a relationship between them. It's not a romance, but a love story that only God can sort out. It's also about women who suffer in all nationalities from abusive marriages."
Christine shares her own "true-life birth-mother" story on her website. Do not miss this testimony. Her birth-daughter, Sarah, modeled for the cover of Shadowed in Silk. Take a look at how it all came together—it's well worth the read.
Her blog's tagline is, "Writer of fiction that matters…to give hope, and strengthen faith on the long journey of life."
I asked her about that. Christine said her childhood was far from idyllic, and a series of painful events led to her giving up a daughter for adoption. That's when her surrender to Christ came about.
 "I'm drawn to write fiction that reaches out to people who suffer in these very unattractive situations. I would love it if we could all have storybook romances, but I see so much pain in the people all around me. But having seen what God did in my surrendered life, I write stories that will take that broken woman and spin a story around her that shows what God can do in a surrendered life.
"He really can give back to people the years that the locusts have eaten."
Why is she willing to give COTT space on her blog every other week?
"I find the COTT alliance an energetic group of writers that inspire me. I love the fun and camaraderie with the clashes," she said. "And it gets the word out to readers of all the great Christian fiction that's available. They are a great group of people to be affiliated with. I consider it an honor."
The feeling is entirely mutual, especially given Christine's beautiful purpose statement:
"The only reason I write or speak is to encourage others. Life can be tough at times. But we have a loving Heavenly Father who only wants to embrace us and turn our heartaches into our greatest joys.
"I know this to be true. I'm a walking billboard that He does give us back the years the locusts have eaten."