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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Londa Hayden on Writing and Using Press Releases

LONDA HAYDEN is a freelance writer and founding president of Bartlett Christian writers. She lives in the Memphis area with her husband and three sons. Recently, she joined the staff at Southern Writers Magazine. For more about her books, visit her website at http://londahayden.com.

“How To Write and Use A Press Release” by Londa Hayden

A press release is something every author needs to help promote their book. There are many different ways to use a press release, which can help open doors to speaking engagements and booksignings in the future. A press release is a newsworthy story, written in third person, with the intent to promote a special event, person, service, or product. This type of journalistic content usually accompanies a press kit or pitch letter. However, it can also be sent out alone via email, fax, or snail mail to various media outlets and other targeted markets.

Janet M. Thaeler, author of I Need A Killer Press Release - Now What?, tells authors to optimize their press release for online visibility. Thaeler says, “One of the main mistakes authors make is not including keyword phrases and hyperlinks to where the book is sold or to the author's website in the resource box at the bottom of the article or in an email signature.” Using the keyword tool kit available for free on Google.com is a user-friendly process that every author should learn how to do. She also advises to include pictures and videos with hyperlinks in the captions that will help rank the article higher in the search engines. “An emailed press release is useful…assuming the content is high quality and well targeted.”

The basic elements of a press release should include: the title of the book, the author's name, the publisher, a one line hook, a picture of the author and book cover, an appealing and compelling description of what the book is about, a short author bio and contact information, the author's website, and where the book is sold and may be purchased or downloaded in various digital formats. Also, provide hyperlinks within the the online version. This should all fit on one page or a page and a half at the most. Respect your reader's time by keeping it short, brief, and to the point. Remember, your press release is only one among hundreds that are being submitted on a daily basis. You really only have a 15 to 30 second window to make a lasting impression.

Once your awesome press release is ready, make a list of your targeted markets. Beside each listing, include the website link or mailing address. Prepare to post your press release on public websites that offer high Internet visibility; be sure to include those keyword phrases both in the title and in the body of the article. Be sure to post your press release on your own website and your social networks. Also, send out an email blast to your writer buddies, fans, family, and friends and ask them to post a blog and share it on their social networks.

Submit your press release to local newspapers, which may in turn offer the author a write up in the community section or perhaps even an interview. Submitting to local and even national radio stations may also provide more visibility. It never hurts to ask. A press release may also be sent via email or personally delivered to local bookstore managers in order to open the doors of communication to request a booksigning. Many book reviewers who blog about new releases are more than happy to read your book and offer a write up on their website and a review on Amazon.com, which also increases your google ranking. If you hear of such book reviewers, send them a press release and ask them about their review prodical. Offer them a free signed copy of your book and perhaps a second signed copy to give away as a contest promotion.

In a free webinar, Publicity insider Bill Stoller, recently discloses his Ten Commandments of Press Releases:
  1. Be thou professional at all times
  2. Thou shalt not advertise with pumped up claims
  3. Thou shalt not be boring
  4. Thou shalt be brief and to the point
  5. Thou shalt know thy reader or recipient
  6. Thou shalt use proper tenses
  7. Thou shalt keep thine article visually appealing
  8. Thou shalt tell a story including the what, when, where
  9. Thou shalt not bear false witness
  10. Thou shalt understand thine own limits.
This free webinar is still available online at http://www.prweb.com. Click on the learning tab.

If you are published by a traditional publisher, then request the publisher's permission to use the press release they provide for your personal marketing endeavors. Here is a list of websites where you can publish your press release for free:
Another great way to find specific press release submission services is to do a search for "free press releases" on Google. Have fun!

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Thank you, Londa, for sharing with us today.

TODAY'S POST IS INFORMATIONAL ONLY. NO GIVEAWAY.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Ann H. Gabhart and Scent of Lilacs

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ANN H. GABHART has published over twenty novels for adults and children including her bestselling Shaker novels. A native Kentuckian, Ann lives on a farm in Central Kentucky. She’s blessed with three children and nine grandchildren. Scent of Lilacs, the first book in the Heart of Hollyhill series, was a Booklist Top Ten Book in Christian Fiction. The Outsider was a finalist for ECPA Christian Fiction Book of 2009. Visit Ann’s website, www.annhgabhart.com or share her writing adventures down on the farm on “One Writer’s Journal." And now Jocie Brooke, the lovable character from Ann’s Hollyhill books has her own blog, hollyhillbookofthestrange.blogspot.com.


SCENT OF LILACS
by Ann Gabhart
Published by Revell

ABOUT THE BOOK

Life-changing events rarely happen in quiet Hollyhill, Kentucky, and when they do, they are few and far between. But for young Jocie Brooke and her family, they happen all at once during the humid summer of 1964. Though on the surface things are just fine, it seems like everyone in Jocie’s life has something they’re not saying, something they’re hiding from her—and from themselves. As Jocie digs into her family’s past, she stirs up a whirlwind of discoveries. Will she find the answers everyone so desperately needs? Or will her questions lead to truths better left hidden?

Combining unforgettable characters, true-to-life struggles, and the perfect dose of humor and nostalgia, this riveting story from bestselling author Ann Gabhart explore the very essence of new life and love.

Readers, buy your copy of Scent of Lilacs today!

AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR FEATURE AUTHOR

Dark Valley Roads and Bright Mountain Trails
by Ann H. Gabhart

At the tender age of ten, I picked up a pen and started writing a mystery with a character based on me. Naturally. Wait, I’d better clarify that. She was based on what I wanted to be like and not how I really was–a very shy, farm girl. But my heroine was with it. Jo could solve mysteries like the Hardy Boys. As well as I remember, she wasn’t a bit shy, and she was really cute too.

So it all began. In the years since, I’ve had my mountaintop moments as a writer and my times of walking through discouragement valley. As a young writer, I was like someone walking along a beach picking up shells with the hope that each new wave of creativity would wash up the perfect story that might get published. I wrote one piece after another. A few did actually get printed in magazines and Sunday school papers. Then I wrote a novel and my writing goals shifted. No more short pieces for me. I wanted to write books.

My first book didn’t find a publisher. My second book didn’t find a publisher. My third book did. Talk about a mountaintop moment! My printed words inside a compelling cover were going to appear on store shelves everywhere. That was way back in 1978. I wrote another novel and Warner Books published it too. Two published books had to mean I’d found writing success. I was on my way!

Then I tumbled off that mountaintop down into discouragement valley. I wrote two more historical novels that were “not quite right,” according to the letters I got from editors, but they never said what was not quite right about my stories. I wrote more books. Got more rejections. My agent said my books were “too clean,” so I decided to reinvent myself and look for a new audience for my “too clean” stories.

That decision took me up some more mountain trails while eleven of my coming-of-age stories for young readers were published. I liked writing for young people, but alas, I took another tumble off the writing success mountain. My new stories began collecting rejects again. This time the trudge through discouragement valley went on for years. I began to wonder if I should just give up writing. Maybe I should concentrate my effort on work that promised a sure return instead of the hope of someday pay.

But I couldn’t quit. Writing is part of who I am. So I set out to once more re-invent myself as a writer. Since it was more than obvious I wasn’t cornering any markets, I decided to write the book I wanted to write instead of one I thought an editor might like. I came up with a story about a young girl and her father, a small town newspaper editor during the week and a preacher of a country church on Sundays. The characters and story are completely fictitious, but the background and setting came straight from what I remembered about my little hometown in the Sixties.

Jocie turned out to be a great character who sprang right to life in my imagination, and it was pure writer’s luck that Wes fell out of a Jupiter spaceship as he was passing over Hollyhill. Of course, that’s just a story Wes makes up for Jocie, but his and Jocie’s Jupiter talk adds a few smiles to the story. I stirred in some more eccentric small town characters including a crazy old aunt named Love who tries to keep Jocie in line by quoting Scripture at her. But all is not as it seems in my little town of Hollyhill or even with Jocie’s Aunt Love. While Jocie is bemoaning the fact that nothing ever happens in Hollyhill, a whirlwind of discoveries suddenly threatens everything she thought was true about her life. And of course, Jocie loves the scent of lilacs.

The characters in Scent of Lilacs found a home in my heart, and I was anxious and eager to tell their stories. The book snagged a loving editor on its first trip out and once more, I was up on one of those writing peaks. A low point came when Scent of Lilacs went out of print after a couple of years, but now the story is back as the first book in the Heart of Hollyhill series. Orchard of Hope and Summer of Joy will also be back out in the coming year and my Hollyhill characters will have the chance to find new readers.

Early on in my writing career I read something about treating rejections and acceptances the same – as the imposters they might be. Either one can knock a writer off course, because to be successful a writer has to keep plugging whether on the dark valley road or the sparkling mountain peak road. Up or down, a writer has to keep writing. That’s what writers do. That’s what I did.

To celebrate Scent of Lilacs back in print, I’m having a Celebration Giveaway on my website, www.annhgabhart.com. First prize is a beautiful lilac leather-bound Grandmother’s Bible. Several other prizes too. Details on my website News & Events Page. Deadline for entries is April 1, 2013.

Reader Question: Have you ever experienced a time of discouragement that made you feel like giving up on a dream? If so, were you able to overcome it or did the Lord use the discouragement to push you toward a new goal or dream?

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Thank you, Ann, for sharing with us today.

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a free eBook copy of the book featured above. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

This week, the drawing is open to US/Canada residents only.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Marsha Hubler and Bachelor's Choice

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MARSHA HUBLER
BEST-SELLING AUTHOR OF THE KEYSTONE STABLES SERIES
And THE LOVES OF SNYDER COUNTY AMISH/MENNONITE SERIES

MARSHA HUBLER has had a background conducive to effective writing. She has a master’s degree in education (focused on learning disabilities) from Bloomsburg University, Bloomsburg, PA, and has been an educator for over forty years. She had co-founded two private schools, Kreamer Christian Academy, Kreamer, PA, and the Bethesda Prep School, Milton, PA, and had served as teacher/administrator in each. She is presently a PA certified homeschool consultant, working out of her office in her Middleburg home, where she lives with her husband and two dogs.

Marsha has owned horses for over 20 years, therefore knows her horse facts in and out. She also lives in central PA, “Dutch” country, highly populated by the Amish and Mennonite, who have been a valuable first-hand resource for Marsha’s latest project, THE LOVES OF SNYDER COUNTY, a series about the Amish and Mennonite folk in the beautiful Susquehanna Valley in central PA. A follow-up project she’s working on now is THE SNYDER COUNTY QUILTING BEE, 12 short stories about characters from THE LOVES OF SNYDER COUNTY. The three books and short stories (seven to date) are in e-book format with BACHELOR’S CHOICE, book one, the first to be released in hard copy as of November of 2012.

Marsha is excited that her eight-book “Keystone Stables Series” juvenile fiction published by Zonderkidz has become a best seller with over 100,000 in print. She also is quite proud of her last two stand-alone books, RICKIE RIDES TO THE RESCUE and THE SECRET OF WOLF CANYON. She has 14 books in hard copy print with her Amish/Mennonite fiction series for ladies joining her publishing credentials.

She hears from her fans on a regular basis. Several have said they have started to seriously think about God, and one gal wrote that she was thinking of killing herself until she read one of Marsha’s books.

“That’s the best pay any writer could ever get,” Marsha says. “I write not only to entertain but also to encourage my readers. Every one of my books has a positive outlook on life with solutions to every problem with God’s help.”

Her life verse is 1 Corinthians 15:10a: “But by the grace of God I am what I am …”

Visit her at www.marshahubler.com, http://marshahubler.wordpress.comhttp://www.facebook.com/marsha.hubler.3, or http://horsefactsbymarshahubler.wordpress.com. She loves to hear from her readers of all ages.

BACHELOR'S CHOICE
by Marsha Hubler
Published by Helping Hands Press, a division of Trestle Press

ABOUT THE BOOK

John Friesen is a bachelor at the age of twenty-three and is having the time of his life. One of the most handsome eligible young men in the Mennonite community, John has never been in a hurry to choose a wife and settle down. He’s not a bit worried about being “passed over.” He enjoys the simple life of helping his dad with the family farm and breeding registered Tennessee Walking horses on the side.

Every unmarried gal in the Mennonite community has her eyes on John, not only because of his stunning looks but his godly, quiet demeanor and kind, gentle ways. Whenever the gals are together, John’s the talk of the quilting circles and Sunday fellowships after church. Three girls, in particular, care deeply for John and secretly determine to win his heart in their own special way. Only a serious accident—a fall from his horse—leads John to the one girl who will love him unconditionally. But which one does he choose?

Readers, buy your copy of Bachelor's Choice today!

AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR FEATURE AUTHOR

If You'd Like to Write a Book

Over the last twenty years, I’ve met dozens of folks who have told me they want to write a book. Some of them I’ve met once over a lunch date, where they lamented about having this “marvelous” idea but didn’t know how to get started. (I think they actually wanted ME to write it for them.) Many of these folks actually attended our local critique group for a while and had their first few pages critiqued, never to be seen again. Some folks have called me; some folks have sent me sample pages for me to review; some have even paid me to edit a few of their pages, but to date, few of these folks have ever been published.

What is it about writing that makes it so difficult to be published?

The answer is simple: professionalism and patience. Let me explain.

Too many folks in the general populous have the following mistaken impression about writing: “Oh, I have some time on my hands right now; I think I’ll get a book published.”

Few, if any beginners, realize the depth of commitment it takes to “get published.” And most beginners have no idea what it takes to get a book published, unless they plan to put their own money up front and self publish, which can run into the thousands of dollars and often produce a very poorly written work.

My advice to all beginners has always been the same. I’ll share the most important aspects of “getting published” in the following list. For you who are contemplating writing and trying to get your name in print, please take these points to heart. If you do, you are well on your way to becoming a published author, but it will take hard work and a lot of time, sometimes years. I have listed the following points in the order of importance:

  1. Commit several hours a day to writing. Realize that editing and revising your work many times over is the actual “writing” part of the craft.
  2. Learn the craft by starting out with short stories and articles. A book can come later after you’ve mastered good writing techniques.
  3. Purchase several “how to write” books and read them from cover to cover.
  4. Read published works in the genre in which you’re interested in writing.
  5. Join a local critique group and be prepared to accept their criticism. This is hard on the pride factor, but it’s essential to making you a better writer.
  6. Attend writers’ conferences where you learn about all aspects of writing: writing proposals, fiction vs. nonfiction writing, marketing, social networking, editing, different publishing houses, etc. Meet editors and agents, who might take an interest in your projects.
  7. Study the market and send out queries by following the guidelines of the companies in which you are interested.
  8. Build your credit listing with published short stories and articles. Then you might get a publishing company’s interest in your book idea.
  9. If you plan to self publish, BY ALL MEANS, hire a professional editor to edit your work. You want to publish a work of which you can be proud. Too many folks ignore the fact that their manuscript needs help. Printing a work of poor quality not only degrades the writer but also is a poor reflection on the writing/publishing world itself.
  10. Once you are published, be prepared to spend a lot of time marketing yourself. Develop a platform where you can make personal appearances or speak to different interest groups who would want to buy your book. Develop a presence online in social networking sites like Facebook and Pinterest.

Well, there you have the nuts and bolts of getting published. If you’re sincere about your desire to be published, follow these ten suggestions, and as you develop your writing style and determine not to quit, you just might one day hold a published work in your hands of which you can be proud.

Reader Question: Marsha has a Master's degree in what field? What's the highest level of education you've completed and what was your motivation behind wherever you stopped?

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Thank you, Marsha, for sharing with us today.

ENTRY RULES - There is no giveaway with this post today. Come back next week for a new post, or check out the previous posts and leave a comment on any that are still open.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Matthew R Horn and Nothing Good is Free

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

MATTHEW R. HORN learned the value of a good imagination at an early age, growing up in north-central Indiana. Bob Kane and Bill Finger's Batman, Clive Cussler's Dirk Pitt, and Ian Fleming's James Bond were constant visitors to Matthew's imaginative world.

At the age of 14 Matthew began taking writing classes from none other than his own mother. Having a Master's in English, she wanted her children to be able to communicate properly with the written word. Of course, Matthew hated this. However, nearly twenty years later the lessons learned combined with the imagination born from sheer boredom have cultivated a desire to share his imaginings.

To better tell his adventure stories, Matthew began taking lessons in Martial Arts in 2011. Having achieved a Red Belt in Tae Kwan Do and having broken his nose during a sparring session, Matthew has a unique ability to combine his imagination with real-life experiences to tell stories in a way that are creative and adventurous, yet gritty and realistic.

In September of 2011, Brighton Publishing made Matthew's second book, The Good Fight, his first published novel. The sequel, Nothing Good is Free, is now out in eBook and will be released by Brighton in paperback in March 2013. The final installment, The Price We Pay, is currently being written and is tentatively scheduled to be released during the summer of 2014.

You can contact him by clicking the "Email the Author" link from the homepage of his web site. You can also follow Matthew on both Facebook and Twitter.

NOTHING GOOD IS FREE
by Matthew R. Horn
Published by Brighton Publishing

ABOUT THE BOOK

Detective Martell of the Chicago Police Department has a big problem on his hands when he discovers a connection between a recent drug bust and a case he worked on in the ’80s. Not sure if he can trust his peers, Martell goes to the one person he knows he can count on: Jeff Scott.

Jeff has taken over as the city’s vigilante after Jim, his predecessor, was killed in a drug bust. Toward the end, Jim’s demeanor took a turn for the worse as he became more violent in his work and went after bigger thugs, which ultimately led to his untimely demise. The last thing Jeff wants is to let a life of violence get the better of him and end up like Jim. So, in a pursuit to avoid the same destiny as his mentor, he seeks the truth about Jim and the life he led before the two joined forces.

In his heart, Jeff knows right from wrong, but in his work, the distinction isn’t always clear. He doesn’t want to let the vigilante lifestyle take him over, but he has responsibilities: to look out for the little guys.

Being the city’s vigilante, however, becomes a bit more complicated after he’s spotted doing what he does best. An assignment from Martell puts him under the microscope of the Chicago Police Department. Vigilante work is supposed to go unnoticed as Jeff intends to stay anonymous to the public and criminals alike…

…but now he’s gotten himself noticed—and in a very big way.

His do-gooder, crime-fighting ways put him in the wrong place at the wrong time and now he has the Chicago Police Department on his trail.

To complicate matters further, when he isn’t wearing the vigilante suit, he’s trying to maintain a relationship with his girlfriend. But now her new job is taking up all her time, just when Jeff needs her most. He fears he’ll lose her to her hectic schedule and a schmoozing boss, and the only way to make things right is to be the best vigilante that he can be.

To add to the mess Jeff has gotten himself into, there is a new vigilante in town—and it isn’t Jeff. Now, the only question is…

Will this new vigilante work for good or for evil?

Readers, buy your copy of Nothing Good is Free today!

*If you order this book between now and March 16, make sure you visit the John 3:16 Marketing Network launch page and enter your sales receipt in the rafflecopter for a chance to win a Kindle, a $50 Amazon gift card, and a $10 Starbucks card. Must order by March 16 to take advantage of these great prizes.

AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR FEATURE AUTHOR

Fictional Storytelling: Not as Easy as Advertised

How many obstacles are there in fictional storytelling? Lots. Of course if your goal is to tell stories orally to your children then consider yourself nearly obstacle free, unless you lose your voice or forget the story you were going to tell. If you have ever dreamed of being a writer however, you are going to have to face the facts; it’s hard. The first obstacle to consider is the same barrier you might consider in anything you do. You must learn the fundamentals. Don’t go and challenge Michael Jordan to a pick-up game of basketball unless you know how to shoot a jump shot. No one is error-free, but knowing the difference between a predicate and a participle is more than helpful. It’s required.

The second obstacle to consider is figuring out if you even have a story to tell. How many times have you tried to tell a story to a friend or loved-one that made you roll on the floor laughing, but left your friend or loved-one wondering why you bothered to retell it? It has happened to all of us at one time or another, but when it happens trying to retell a joke it’s no big deal. If it happens with a five hundred page epic novel then it’s no laughing matter.

The third obstacle is actually a combination of hundreds of smaller obstacles. Now that you know your fundamentals and have decided you have a great story to tell, you have to actually start telling the story. Creating settings, characters, dialogue, etc. hopefully comes easily to a writer, but what about the initiative to get started and keep going on a regular basis? Simply finding the time can be a challenge, especially if you have a job that is not centered on writing.

The number of obstacles continues to the point where even a writer creating an article about obstacles will eventually choose to quit counting. Why would anyone go through all of these obstacles without a guarantee of success; love. I wish I had a more tangible answer such as: financial security, international fame, etc. The truth is that it is important to the writer. It becomes more than just a hobby. Readers who close a book and say to themselves, “That was wonderful,” have just had an experience that will never be exactly equaled. It was created by one person and fully enjoyed by another. It’s personal and satisfying.

Think of the last great book you read. Do you recall the author? In my experience, I can remember my age and sometimes even where I was when I read certain books. I recall just getting a Kindle Fire for Christmas two years ago. I downloaded Treasure Island on a whim, and now feel that it’s one of my all-time favorites. I read in bed before going to sleep, on lunch-break at work, and at the breakfast table until I finished it. The author is not alive enough for me to contact him and thank him for creating such a work, but if he were he’d get a pretty nice email from me. I might even follow his blog.

Consider these obstacles the next time you decide to write something or even the next time you sit down and read a book. There’s probably a lot more to the creation of it than we give it credit for. Is it coincidence that you are holding this particular book, or is it Divine intervention?

Reader Question: What is the most memorable book you remember reading and why?

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Thank you, Matthew, for sharing with us today.

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a free eBook copy of the book featured above. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

This week, the drawing is open to anyone worldwide.

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Kay Marshall Strom and The Hope of Shridula

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

KAY MARSHALL STROM is the author of forty-two published books. A 21st century abolitionist, she travels throughout the country and around the world speaking on God’s priorities: acting justly, loving mercy, and walking humbly with God (Micah 6:8).

THE HOPE OF SHRIDULA
by Kay Marshall Strom
Published by Abingdon Press

ABOUT THE BOOK

India, 1946: For forty-eight years, Shridula’s father and his family have toiled as slaves in the fields of the high-caste Varghese family, all because of her grandfather’s small debt. At 54 years old, her father, Ashish—whose name means Blessing—is worn out and aging fast. His one joy is his only child, now twelve years old. He doesn’t even mind that she is a girl.

Shridula was born, her mother insisted on giving her a name that also means Blessing. Ashish gazed at his newborn baby and said, “Perhaps the name will bring you more fortune than it brought me.”

His words proved prophetic in ways Ashish could never have imagined. And when the flames of revolution brought independence to India, they seared change into Shridula’s soul.

Readers, buy your copy of The Hope of Shridula today!

AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR FEATURE AUTHOR

The Truth About Fiction

To Marilyn, I wrote. Blessings! Kay Marshall Strom. I smiled as I handed the signed copy of The Hope of Shridula to the tall woman before me.

“Is it true?” Marilyn asked.

“It’s historical fiction,” I explained.

“But is it true fiction?”

Hmmm. True fiction. By definition, fiction is a product of the author’s imagination. Even so, Marilyn’s question set me to thinking. Just how true should fiction be? Six years ago, on my fifth trip to India, I read John Grisham’s book, The Testament. It tells about just-out-of-rehab attorney Nate who is under orders to locate a young missionary in the jungles of Brazil and inform her that she is the sole heir to a huge fortune. Poor Nate gets more than he bargained for, including malaria. On the way down the river, he cries out in agony that he’s dying. The boat captain tells him to go to the bottom of the boat, lie down, and cover himself up with an old tent. If he’s still alive when they get to the mouth of the river, he will survive.

A week later, in a village in India, I went to bed feeling sort of icky. In the middle of the night, I woke up shaking with chills so bad I cracked a tooth. I stumbled out of bed and fell on my face. Before long, the chills changed to a roaring fever. In my badly addled mind, I reviewed each of Nate’s symptoms and checked them off in my sweat-drenched body. Yep, I had malaria. Get to the bottom of the boat, I told myself. Pull the old tent over you. I struggled back into bed and pulled up the cover. If you’re still alive when you get down the river, you will survive. I was and I did.

How true does fiction need to be? True enough that someone in the throes of malaria will not be led astray.

My Blessings in India trilogy—The Hope of Shridula is book 2—is set in 20th century India. It’s a world strictly controlled by a punishing caste system. Shridula and her family are at the bottom. Untouchables. So low, they must never let their polluted shadows pass across the shadow of anyone high caste. They must sweep away their disgusting footprints, beat a drum to warn of their approach. It’s a harsh world. Still today, many in the dominant high castes have no desire to have the caste system examined too closely. Also, the contrast between Hinduism and Christianity is sharp, and not appreciated in most of India. So how do I paint such a canvas?

Not with one-sided thoughts. Nor with exaggerated words. Certainly not with bad Indians and good Christian Europeans. No, no, that would never do. But I do need to portray it truthfully. My job as a writer is to find that balance.

The Hope of Shridula is set during a pivotal time in Indian history: the country’s fight for independence from Britain, and the horrifically careless partition of Muslim Pakistan from Hindu India. In my search for balance, I interviewed many people, including an old man who took part in the partition. He could tell only so much of his story at a time before sobs overtook him. “So horrible!” he would cry. “I do not want to remember.”

How true does fiction need to be? True enough that history is not distorted. True enough that those who lived it, or who inherited the memories, will not be insulted or angered.

Shridula’s story is fiction. The setting, however, is true. I researched through stacks of books. I talked with Indians and Pakistanis. I went to India and saw the landscape, watched the washer caste washing clothes in the river and a man scrubbing down his elephant. Watched people bathing in that same water and collecting it in jars to drink. Visited the markets and bought mangos and custard apples, and spices from brightly colored displays.

How true is fiction? True enough, and in the right places.

The Hope of Shridula is true fiction.

Reader Question: How much truth do you expect in the fiction you read?

* * * * *

Thank you, Kay, for sharing with us today.

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a free autographed copy of the book featured above. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

This week, the drawing is open to US/Canada residents only.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

March 2013 New Releases in Christian Fiction

More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW Fiction Finder website.

Catching Her Heart by Carolyne Aarsen — When they fell in love that summer, Jess Schroder never knew the secret Naomi Deacon carried away with her. Eight years later, she’s back in Hartley Creek – a nurse’s aide devoted to healing others. As she gets to know the good, caring man Jess has become, Naomi realizes they both deserve a second chance. Is Jess ready to let Naomi past his defenses? (Romance from Love Inspired).

Moonlight Masquerade, A Regency by Ruth Axtell — Lady Celine Wexham seems the model British subject. French by birth but enjoying life in 1813 as a widowed English countess, she is in the unique position of being able to help those in need-or to spy for the notorious Napoleon Bonaparte. When Rees Phillips of the British Foreign Office is sent to pose as the countess’s butler and discover where her true loyalties lie, he is confident he will uncover the truth. But the longer he is with her, the more his staunch loyalty to the Crown begins to waver. (Historical Romance from Revell).

Rekindled Romance by Lorraine Beatty — Back home again to regain her health, Shelby Russell finds herself babysitting for Matt Durrant’s adorable kids, but the trouble is, Matt’s the man she jilted for her career years ago. (Romance from Love Inspired).

The Hidden Son by Dianna T. Benson — When U.S. DEA Special Agent Lelisa Desmond refuses to follow an order to bury evidence in a high profile case, her superior inexplicably hires a hit man to kill her. Lelisa barely survives the first attempt on her life, but someone close to her is mistakenly murdered in her place. Lelisa sets off on a daring mission to bring down the man who ordered her execution. A man with powerful friends who will stop at nothing to protect his son. Can she take him down, before he sends someone else to silence her forever? (Suspense/Police Procedural from Ellechor Publishing House).

Strand of Deception by Robin Caroll — Strand of Deception offers romance, suspense, and a lively debate about the impact of DNA testing, for better or worse, on the United States justice system. (Romantic Suspense from B&H Publishing).

Swept Away by Mary Connealy — Ruthy MacNeil is rescued from a flood by Luke Stone…who is on his way to fight the man who killed his father…so unfortunately, there are more chances to die in Ruthy’s immediate future. (Historical Romance from Bethany House).

Scorned Justice by Margaret Daley — Texas Ranger Brody Calhoun realizes the attack on his high school sweetheart’s brother is more than it seems. Judge Rebecca Morgan is in the midst of a trial involving the Russian Mafia and suddenly her life is in danger. (Romantic Suspense from Abingdon Press).

When Truth Whispers by Dora Hiers — After a humiliating breakup, best-selling romance author Teal Benning flees to Promise Lake to complete her current novel, minus paparazzi and flashing cameras. Suffering from writer’s block and a broken heart, Teal accepts the offer of help from neighbor, Hunter Miciver. Hunter longs to be more than the friend who picks up the shattered pieces of Teal’s heart, but when Teal finds out his secret, will she see him for the man he is? (Contemporary Romance Novella from White Prose Publishing (Pelican).

Journey’s Embrace by Dora Hiers — After an injury forces Deputy U.S. Marshal Sage Michaelson off duty, he heads to his hometown with two things on his mind: recuperating and reevaluating, but Sage can’t refuse his best friend’s plea to keep a protective eye on his little sister after someone ransacks her house.
Flight Medic Delaney Hunt has loved Sage forever. But, he’s all about control while she takes risks. She doesn’t need Sage looking over her shoulder. But when things go wrong and she finds herself hanging by her fingertips, who does she call to rescue her? (Contemporary Romance from White Rose Publishing (Pelican).

Angel Falls by Connie Mann — A fiercely protective Brazilian orphanage director and a burned-out Army Ranger are forced together in a deadly race to save one helpless baby. (Romantic Suspense from Abingdon Press).

Love Will Find a Way by Pamela S. Meyers — When April Love opens her new eatery and catering business in an old Victorian in the village of Canoga Lake, Wisconsin, trouble is afoot. During renovations, she discovers evidence that the home had once been the hideout of a famous gangster. When several break-ins and an attempted arson fire threaten the grand opening, April and handsome fiancĂ© Marc Thorne wonder if the gangsters still around? (Cozy Mystery from OakTara Publishers).

The Survivor by DiAnn Mills — Kariss helps a woman involved with a 23 year old cold case and steps into a viper’s pit of danger. (Romantic Suspense from Zondervan).

When Memories Fade (Victory Gospel Series 2) by Tyora Moody — Angel Roberts has embraced her new faith, but past memories remain fresh. After her beloved grandmother suffers a stroke, Angel sets out to investigate a mystery that has lingered since she was five years old. What happened to her mother? She teams up with investigative reporter, Wes Cade, a man obsessed with his Alzheimer stricken grandfather’s remaining memories. As Angel lets her guard down with Wes, his determination to get the story could push her to the edge. Is his interest in her or the story? (Romantic Suspense from Urban Christian).

Love for the Right Reasons by Donna L. Rich — Beverly Lahmeyer falls in love with her new boss, but devastating news brings their relationship to a halt. (Contemporary Romance from Heartsong Presents).

Mountain Homecoming by Sandra Robbins — In the second book in the Smoky Mountain Dreams series, the Martin family realizes their way of life is changing as the lumber companies begin to invade their remote valley deep in the Smoky Mountains. (Romance from Harvest House).

The Tempted Soul by Adina Senft — A childless Amish woman is tempted by medical technology to betray her beliefs. (Contemporary Women’s Fiction from Faith Words (Hachette).

Antique Dreams by Amber Stockton — Fulfilling a deathbed promise, Aaron Stone encourages Lillian Bradenton to bring life back to a boarded-up bookstore, but before he can make good on his promise, he is called away to settle a family emergency, leaving Lillian to wonder if she’s lost him forever. (Historical Romance from Heartsong Presents).

Forsaken Dreams by Mary Lu Tyndall — Forsaken Dreams launches readers on a romantic adventure as Colonel Blake Wallace leaves the war-torn South behind to build a utopian society in Brazil. But will unexpected dangers on the ship and the secret of one captivating lady keep him from beginning anew? (Historical Romance from Barbour Publishing).

Ring of Secrets by Roseanna M. White — Love has no place in a world of spies. (Historical Romance from Harvest House).

Friday, March 01, 2013

Guest Blogger Elizabeth Baker and JaKobe's Assignment

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

ELIZABETH BAKER is an author and retired counselor drawing on thirty-five years of experience helping individuals apply biblical principles to real-life situation. She holds Bachelor and Master degrees from Liberty University and a Doctor of Religion and Society from Oxford Graduate School. Currently retired, she lives in Pittsburg, Texas where she concentrates on her writing. A widow since her mid 30's, Elizabeth has four grown children, fifteen grandchildren, and six great-grands.

JAKOBE'S ASSIGNMENT
by Elizabeth Baker
Published by EBB Publishing

ABOUT THE BOOK

Pastor Jonathan Phelps has always believed in angels. Yet, the idea of unseen beings actually roaming the halls of Grace Community Church never entered his mind. Angels had some kind of purpose somewhere but the thought of a warrior showing up in his office would have shaken him to the core! Angels never did things like that. Did they?

It’s been 700 years since JaKobe worked on earth, but when his curiosity is piqued by Rachael’s strange request, he finds himself once again on assignment doing the very things he once thought were behind him forever. Serving Adam’s offspring and advancing the Kingdom while enemies multiply on every side is all in a day’s work. And, this specific assignment is one job JaKobe is determined to finish before midnight.

Readers, buy your copy of JaKobe's Assignment today!

AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR FEATURE AUTHOR

Does Your Guardian Angel Tell Jokes?

According to a recent AP poll nearly 8 out of 10 Americans believe angels are real. But how these beings operate, what they look like, and exactly how they impact our life is wide open for anyone’s guess. Some believe good humans become angels when they die. Others see them as frequently manipulating matter—such as turning a car to avoid an accident. Medieval theologians debated how many could dance on the head of a pin and some modern Christians wondered if they can read minds.

Yet for all the curiosity surrounding them, angels seldom make their way into Christian fiction. A few classic works, such as C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, feature spirit beings and modern authors sometimes offer them minor roles. But if you want the scoop on angels, chances are you will end up wading through dusty, non-fiction tombs. This is a bit strange for according to the Bible, angels are sent by God and commonly take part in the daily life of Christians.

I’ve always been curious about these heavenly beings and their scarcity in Christian fiction added fuel to the flame. The possibility of using angels as fictional characters became a challenge that was simply too tempting to pass up. Could I remain biblically accurate and at the same time give imagination free reign on details not found in scripture? I thought so.

However, if I had realized all the convoluted twists involved in the research, I might have given up before the first word was typed. Angels often leave more questions in their wake than answers!

The first hurdle I had to clear was the fact that most popular ideas about angels are either blatantly wrong or woven of more speculation than biblically revealed truth. For instance, while we might bend over the crib of our newborn and coo, “Mamma’s little angel,” the truth is angels and humans are totally different creations. Angels are not, and never have been, human in any form. While the Bible sometimes describes them in human terms and apparently they look a bit like us, angels are as different from humans as dogs are different than turnips.

Many popular ideas about angels are based on medieval art rather than scripture. You will seldom find a picture, figurine, stain glass window, or tomb stone with a wingless angel. Wings and halos are considered basic angelic necessities, but none of these things are true. Although the Bible states Seraphim, Cherubim, and Living Creatures have wings, when angels are described no wings are mentioned. Angels move through the air, but wings are evidently not a necessity.

Yet despite all the challenges, writing JaKobe’s Assignment was at times pure fun. Once I separated biblical truth from popular opinion, the field was wide open to let my imagination roam. For instance, the Bible states one angelic task is to evaluate both humans and situations, but no mention is made about how they accomplish this. Could they use some kind of high-tech tool? Why not? We know good angels fight against bad angels, but the methods used in warfare are not identified. Filling in the gaps and blanks with colors of my own choosing was delightful!

JaKobe’s Assignment is not a book for every reader. The plot has a “thoughtful” feel rather than high drama. No shoot ‘em up bang-bang or thriller car chases. The romantic element is a tender view of marital love rather than boy-meets-girl while the slow pace of small-town living is woven with quirky characters, humor, and a surprising glimpse of what reality might look like if we could see the spirit beings surrounding us.

I suggest readers sample the book first by reading a few pages on Amazon or Barns & Nobel. Also, for a free, brief Bible study and scripture references that inspired specific statements/plots in the novel, check out, “The Truth About Angels,” http://tinyurl.com/cv8a88w. Or, download a fun quiz for kids of all ages, “Your Angel IQ.” It’s free at http://tinyurl.com/a6dh7sa.

This brings me back to the beginning. Does your guardian angel tell jokes? Mine does. If you want to know more, JaKobe’s Assignment is available for Nook, Kindle, and print.

Reader Question:  Do you, personally, believe in angels? Leave a comment telling me why or why not. One lucky responder will receive a free copy of JaKobe’s Assignment.

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Thank you, Elizabeth, for sharing with us today.

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name [at] domainname [dot] com) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win a free autographed copy of the book featured above. If you do not answer the question, and your email address isn't provided, you will not be entered.

This week, the drawing is open to US/Canada residents only.