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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Guest Blogger Matthew Horn and The Good Fight


MATTHEW HORN is an aficionado of fiction. Spending his life reading authors such as Tom Clancy, Clive Cussler, and C.S. Lewis, Matthew has gained an appreciation for a good story. His first book, Heroism, written in 2009, is the compilation of ideas that have been building since childhood. Since then, he has developed many different stories and plans to continue his writing as more than just a hobby.

Matthew, 30, graduated from Rochester High School in 1998 and from Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management in 2002. He is currently the Chief Financial Officer for Modern Materials, Inc. in Rochester Indiana. He is married and likes to spend his free time writing and learning about the publishing industry. “As a new author, you probably spend more time learning the industry than you do writing.” Matthew’s second book, The Good Fight was published in March 2011. It is his first published work. “You always want to write from the heart,” he says from his home office in late October, 2010, “but it takes a special book to be from the heart and still reach out and make people want to read it.”

If you want to contact Matthew, please email him through his web site. You can follow Matthew on Facebook and Twitter.

by Matthew Horn
Published by Brighton Publishing


Jeffery Scott had always made it on his own. Unwanted by his family, Jeff spent his childhood being shuffled from family members to orphanages before finally ending up alone, homeless, and on the street. One night, in a dark, cold alley behind a local restaurant, Jeff’s life was saved by a dark suited, masked vigilante whose true identity was unknown to him.

Sixteen years later, he crosses paths once again with the dark suited stranger. This time, it is Jeff who saves the vigilante’s life. And this time he discovers the masked man’s identity. Jeff learns to understand the quest of good versus evil and becomes the protégé of the masked hero. Ultimately, he arrives at a crossroad where he must decide whether the quest itself is good or evil. Jeff’s inner struggles ultimately draw the line between what he wants to do and what he must do.

His decisions not only affect those he cares about, but they alter and shape the course of his young life. Through the mask of the vigilante, Jeff finds the courage and determination he needs to get an education, change his life and become the person even his own family believed he could never be.

Readers, buy your copy of The Good Fight today!


The Two-Sided Life of a Fiction Writer
By Matthew R. Horn, author of The Good Fight

The gorilla in the room for any new writer is that if they want to sell even one copy of their book, then they must do the selling on their own. Rarely, if ever, are new writers free to simply write. They must spend a portion of their time writing and the rest of their time building their platform.

A platform is like a fingerprint. It’s different for every writer, and every writer goes through the learning process of what their platform means to them. Will you have a larger presence in social media or in person? If you choose social media, what venues will you choose, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Goodreads, Pinterest, Shelfari, Anobii, Bebo, Flickr, etc.? Those are only a few of the options.

If you choose the real world to have a larger presence in, will you do a lot of book signings, appearances, and talks? Some authors may even try to do it all, but of course this leaves zero time to continue doing what all writers actually want to be doing, writing.

An author has to find a true balance between doing what he/she loves and doing what he/she must. This is where the fingerprint comes in. I find that some social media sites are simply more “my style” than others. For example, Twitter and its 140 character entries are simpler and less time consuming. I love that I can post 2-3 sentences and get out. I find with other sites that I tend to linger and wonder if what I’m writing is too long or should be changed.

Goodreads and LinkedIn are wonderful for making connections by getting into groups and talking about topics that we all have in common. I’ve met lots of wonderful people by getting into groups like these and the connections are invaluable. However, once I’ve joined 3 or 4 groups per site it can get tough to follow them all. It requires time, time I would rather spend writing.

The toughest question any author faces is what to do and how much of it? How is it possible to sell a lot of books while not risking your day job because of the hours and still finding time to write? Frankly, there is no good answer.

This elusive platform that I’ve been searching for has only recently started to show itself and I’ve been working at if for a year. How do I get more followers, friends, likes, etc.? It’s a mess, but I can share one thing that has significantly changed my perception and tactics.

In October 2010 when Brighton Publishing signed me to publish The Good Fight they told me that authors make terrible salesman. I didn’t believe them. The proof that they were right is that I have only just discovered that there is software that exists that can allow you to manage several social media sites from one page. Many of you probably knew about this long before I did. However, finding it has helped me immensely. However, what it truly taught me was to see the value of where I was putting my time. A salesman can’t afford to waste time on targets that don’t offer some type of encouraging response. I have a horrible time trying to inject The Good Fight into conversations with people for fear that they’ll feel it was the only reason I spoke with them in the first place. I have a horrible time hearing that someone isn’t interested in reading my book. As a result, I either don’t talk to people at all or I talk to them for long periods of time and never get a word in about being an author.

Once I discovered this software, I sat down with my wife to show her how neat it was. She has worked in sales since 2008 bringing half-million dollar accounts to our small family business. She pointed out to me my obvious failures. After my horrible initial reaction, I actually started to listen to her.

“You need to engage them, but don’t waste so much time on someone who has already told you that their not interested,” she said after looking at some of my Twitter conversations. “You need to move on to the next target, and quit chatting with everyone so much. Once they start talking with you, let them know you’re an author. Ask them if they want to read your book.”

“But won’t they be insulted?” I asked. “Won’t they be frustrated that I’m only talking to them to see if they’ll buy my book?”

“Why would they be? You’re selling your book. If they aren’t interested, then move on. There are something like 50 million people on Twitter. You’ve got your work cut out for you anyway if you’re going to try and get to all of them.”

Listening to my wife and remembering the words of my publisher seemed to create a new vision for me. I started to be able to see what on earth a platform was to me. I needed more confidence, a thicker skin, and some nifty software to help me manage it all. Since then I may have sold only 5 more books than normal, but its 5 books that I earned and my Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. groups are actually growing in numbers.

I’m still a new author and as such I cannot look back over a full career and tell everyone how to sell a lot of books. However, the advice that I can give is that you have to turn yourself into a salesman. Maybe none of us can do it by simply hearing the words. Maybe I don’t even know what it means yet. I’m not selling as many books as John Grisham, but maybe I’m on my way. Either way, I think all authors would do very well to quit worrying so much about what one person thinks about us or our work. Ask people if they want to buy a copy and if they say no, simply move on to the next. As my wife would say, “With billions of potential customers out there, it’s silly to care so much about what one thinks.”

* * * * *

Thank you, Matthew, for sharing with us today.

Reader Question: How would you describe your platform?

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name at domainname dot com/net) 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 contest is open to anyone worldwide.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Christy Awards and Carol Award finalists

I don't have an author spotlight this week, but I DO have some authors to spotlight. This past weekend, the Christy's took place. This is the highest honor for Christian fiction, as a kickoff to ICRS every year. On Monday, the Carol Award finalists were announced. This is the award given by ACFW at their annual conference in September.

And here are the winners/finalists:

Christy Award

Contemporary Romance
Wolfsbane by Ronie Kendig (Barbour Publishing)

Contemporary Series
The Amish Midwife by Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould (Harvest House Publishers)

Contemporary Standalone
Promises to Keep by Ann Tatlock (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

First Novel
Words by Ginny Yttrup (B&H Publishing Group)

Wonderland Creek by Lynn Austin (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Historical Romance
The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

The Queen by Steven James (Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Veiled Rose by Anne Elisabeth Stengl (Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group)

Young Adult
Waterfall by Lisa T. Bergren (David C Cook)

Carol Award Finalists

(winners announced in Dallas on Saturday, September 22, 2012)

Debut Novel:
Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott (Thomas Nelson – Ami McConnell, Editor)
The Loom by Shella Gillus (Guideposts – Beth Adams, Editor)
Give the Lady a Ride by Linda W. Yezak (Sky Sail [Port Yonder Press] – Chila Woychik, Editor)

Long Contemporary:
Lost Melody by Lori Copeland/Virginia Smith (Zondervan – Sue Brower, Editor)
The Search by Suzanne Woods Fisher (Revell – Andrea Doering, Editor)
Larkspur Cove by Lisa Wingate (Bethany House Publishers – Sarah Long/Dave Long, Editors)

Long Contemporary Romance:
Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones (Thomas Nelson – Jamie Chavez/Natalie Hanemann, Editors)
Lilly's Wedding Quilt by Kelly M. Long (Thomas Nelson – Natalie Hanemann, Editor)
My Foolish Heart by Susan May Warren (Tyndale – Karen Watson, Editor)

Long Historical:
Captive Trail by Susan Page Davis (Moody Publishers/River North – Deborah Keiser, Editor)
Fairer Than Morning by Rosslyn Elliott (Thomas Nelson – Ami McConnell, Editor)
Mine Is the Night by Liz Curtis Higgs (WaterBrook Press – Laura Barker, Editor)

Long Historical Romance:
The Maid of Fairbourne Hall by Julie Klassen (Bethany House Publishers – Karen Schurrer, Editor)
Lilies in Moonlight by Allison Pittman (Multnomah Publishers – Alice Crider, Editor)
To Win Her Heart by Karen Witemeyer (Bethany House Publishers – Karen Schurrer, Editor)

Falling to Pieces: A Shipshewana Amish Mystery by Vannetta Chapman (Zondervan – Sue Brower, Editor)
Died in the Wool by Elizabeth Ludwig/Janelle Mowery (Barbour Publishing – Rebecca Germany, Editor)
Yesterday's Secrets by Kelly Ann Riley (Guideposts – Beth Adams, Editor)

An Accidental Christmas from A Biltmore Christmas by Diane T. Ashley/Aaron McCarver (Barbour Publishing – Rebecca Germany, Editor)
Reese: All Along from Smitten by Denise Hunter (Thomas Nelson – Ami McConnell/LB Norton, Editors)
A Star in the Night from A Log Cabin Christmas by Liz Johnson (Barbour Publishing – Rebecca Germany, Editor)

Romantic Suspense:
Lonestar Angel by Colleen Coble (Thomas Nelson – Ami McConnell, Editor)
Deadly Pursuit by Irene Hannon (Revell – Jennifer Leep, Editor)
Wolfsbane by Ronie Kendig (Barbour Publishing – Rebecca Germany/Julee Schwarzburg, Editor)

Short Contemporary:
The Protector by Shelley Shepard Gray (Avon Inspire/Harper Collins – Cindy DiTiberio)
Lakeside Reunion by Lisa Jordan (Love Inspired – Melissa Endlich, Editor)
Oklahoma Reunion by Tina Radcliffe (Love Inspired – Melissa Endlich/Rachel Burkot, Editors)

Short Contemporary Suspense:
Double Identity by Diane Burke (Love Inspired Suspense – Sarah McDaniel-Dyer, Editor)
Nightwatch by Valerie Hansen (Love Inspired Suspense – Melissa Endlich, Editor)
A Deadly Game by Virginia Smith (Love Inspired Suspense – Tina James, Editor)

Short Historical (four finalists due to a tie):
Promise of Time by S. Dionne Moore (Heartsong Presents – JoAnne Simmons, Editor)
Revealing Fire by Connie Stevens (Heartsong Presents – Rebecca Germany, Editor)
Light to My Path by Erica Vetsch (Heartsong Presents – JoAnne Simmons, Editor)
The Deepest Waters by Dan Walsh (Revell – Andrea Doering, Editor)

Speculative Fiction:
The Story in the Stars by Yvonne Anderson (Risen Books – Reagan Reed, Editor)
The Chair by James L. Rubart (B & H Fiction – Julee Schwarzburg, Editor)
Broken Sight by Steve Rzasa (Marcher Lord Press – Jeff Gerke, Editor)

Over the Edge by Brandilyn Collins (B & H Fiction – Karen Ball, Editor)
Fallen Angel by Major Jeff Struecker/Alton Gansky (B & H Fiction – Julie Gwinn, Editor)
Freedom's Stand by Jeanette (J.M.) Windle (Tyndale – Jan Stob, Editor)

Women’s Fiction:
A Sound Among the Trees by Susan Meissner (WaterBrook Press – Shannon Marchese, Editor)
When Sparrows Fall by Meg Moseley (Multnomah Publishers – Jessica Barnes/Shannon Marchese, Editors)
Dandelion Summer by Lisa Wingate (Penguin Praise/Berkley – Ellen Edwards, Editor)

Young Adult:
Wreath by Judy Christie (Barbour Publishing – Rebecca Germany/Jamie Chavez, Editors)
The Merchant's Daughter by Melanie Dickerson (Zondervan – Jacque Alberta, Editor)
There You'll Find Me by Jenny B. Jones (Thomas Nelson – Natalie Hanemann/Becky Monds/Jamie Chavez, Editors)  

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Guest Blogger Kathryn Jones and Conquering Your Goliaths

Yes, I'm a day late...and according to my bank account, a few dollars short. :) But the guest post for this week is here today. Enjoy!


KATHRYN JONES has been a published writer since 1987. She has published various newspaper stories, magazine articles, essays and short stories for teens and adults. She is the author of: A River of Stones, a young adult fiction novel dealing with divorce published in 2002, and Conquering your Goliaths—A Parable of the Five Stones, a Christian novel published in January of 2012. Her newest creation, a Conquering your Goliaths—Guidebook, was published in February of 2012.

Kathryn graduated from the University of Utah with a B.S. in Mass Communication and a minor in Creative Writing. Her studies included work in creative writing, public relations and journalism. Recently, she has opened the doors to Idea Creations Press, a publishing services company that caters to writers and their writing, publishing and marketing needs.

by Kathryn Jones
Published by CreateSpace


David gathered 5 smooth stones to meet and defeat Goliath. What did these stones represent and how can you use them to feat your Goliaths in your own personal quests? Ms. Virginia Bean will show you how.

Travel with her on her own personal journey. See what she does. Learn how she grows. Discover what she becomes.

“Conquering your Goliaths—A Parable of the Five Stones” is for anyone desiring to travel beyond mediocrity, pain and fear. Learn of the great power within you, a power given to you from God, a power that must ultimately be unleashed to conquer the Goliaths in your own life. Come to an even deeper understanding of God and what he wants for you. Come…

Readers, buy your copy of Conquering Your Goliaths today!


The Writing Life of a Christian Fiction Author

It isn’t always easy being a Christian, and it isn’t always easy being a Christian Fiction author. I write what I know. I write what I believe, and not everyone is comfortable with that. I suppose the same is true with whatever religious persuasion and career that has become a part of your life.

Some people think romances are sappy and “all alike,” others will never pick up a western or a short-story collection because It’s just “not in them” to do so.

They like what they like.

Go figure.

We’re all different after all.

My life as a Christian Fiction author takes guts, primarily because much of what I write, others expect me to live. And if others don’t expect it, I do. (I try not to be one of those, “Do as I say, not as I do,” types of people). I am often running through the value of the five stones and coming to terms with where I am. I have lived the parable many times over, and continue to live them as I work on various aspects of my life.

If you haven’t yet read, “Conquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones,” let me give you a little heads up on what I’m talking about.

The five stones mentioned in the novel are these:

Listening. When it comes to listening to God in your life, consider listening to God when you travel throughout your day. That means when you’re driving to work, when you’re washing the dishes, when you’re ready to walk in to that job interview. My best days come when the conduit is open and my eyes are too.

Trust. Trusting in God and the gifts and talents he has given you is as important as listening to him. Have you ever listened in one ear and let it go out the other? True listening takes trust that what you’re doing in your life is good and that God is behind you.

Optimism. Being positive about what you’ve got going is a fine step in growing your spiritual life. Be optimistic about your gifts and what you have to offer the world. What you focus on comes back to you. If you’re focused on changing lives, then that is what will return.

Tenacity. We all get those old rocks in our shoes, but with tenacity, we keep moving forward. If your personal life needs some work, you get the help, if things need to be changed in your marriage, you change them. Tenacity is about never giving up—no matter what.

Constancy. Keeping constant with God is important. God will help us to keep constant at whatever we’re doing if we let him. Are you constantly berating yourself for lack of time to use your gifts and talents? Or are you coming up with ways to keep moving forward despite the difficulties? Being constant means you are focused in your desires to please God.

It isn’t always easy being a Christian Fiction author, just as its not easy being salesman, a nurse or an oral surgeon (add your own career here_________). But there’s something grand about knowing that God is there to help lighten the load; knowing that he is with you no matter what.

* * * * *

Thank you, Kathryn, for sharing with us today.

Reader Question: How does God help you in your life?

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name at domainname dot com/net) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win an 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 contest is open to US/Canada residents only.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Guest Blogger Jocelyn Green and Wedded to War


JOCELYN GREEN is an award-winning author and freelance journalist recently turned novelist. Her love of history, story-telling and the drama of the human experience combine in her new series, Heroines Behind the Lines: Civil War. She loves to research as much as she loves writing. Her favorite things include Mexican food, Broadway musicals, Toblerone chocolate bars, the color red, and reading on her patio. Jocelyn lives with her husband Rob and two small children in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Visit her at

by Jocelyn Green
Published by RiverNorth Fiction (Moody Publishers)


She fought to get her place, and she fought even harder to keep it.

In Wedded to War, tending the Union army’s sick and wounded would mean leaving Phineas Hastings, the man Charlotte Waverly’s mother, Caroline, approved of, for an existence Caroline could not understand. To honor the father she lost to Cholera, Charlotte chose a life of service over privilege—just as her childhood friend, Caleb Lansing, had when he became a military doctor. She quickly discovers that she’s combating more than just the Rebellion by working in the hospitals. Would the two men who love her stand by and watch as she fights her own battles? Or would their desire for her wage war on her desire to serve God?

Readers, buy your copy of Wedded to War today! The ebook is only $1.99 for a limited time!


The Work of Imagining

I had been a journalist and the author of nonfiction books for several years before I ventured into writing fiction. But I had never done as much research for one book as I did for my Civil War novel, Wedded to War!

When I share this with people, I usually get puzzled looks, and a comment along the lines of, “But you’re writing fiction. Can’t you just…you know, make stuff up?”

Margaret Culkin Banning said it best: “Fiction is not a dream, nor is it guesswork. It is imagining based on facts, and the facts must be accurate or the work of imagining will not stand up.”

In other words, yes, we can make up the fictional characters and the plot twists, but everything must be rooted in facts, or the story won’t be believable. My depiction of medical care during the early Civil War would fall completely flat if I had the doctors using equipment that hadn’t been invented yet. And my characterizations wouldn’t hold true either, if I didn’t thoroughly understand the cultural and gender roles of those living in Victorian Age. Even my settings would seem like only cardboard backdrops, rather than characters themselves, if they weren’t rounded out with accurate detail and description.

To research my novel, I visited historical societies in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in Frederick, Maryland, and Fort Monroe and other places on the Virginia Peninsula. But the Internet and old-fashioned library books were my best friends, too! Here are just ten of my most useful resources.

From Contemporary Historians:

Adams, George Worthington. Doctors in Blue: The Medical History of the Union Army in the Civil War. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1952.

Bacon, Georgeanna Woolsey and Eliza Woolsey Howland, edited by Daniel John Hoisington. My Heart Toward Home: Letters of a Family During the Civil War. Roseville, Minnesota: Edinborough Press, 2001.

Garrison, Nancy Scripture. With Courage and Delicacy: Civil War on the Peninsula, Women and the U.S. Sanitary Commission. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Da Capo Press, 1999.

Giesberg, Judith Ann. Civil War Sisterhood: The U.S. Sanitary Commission and Women’s Politics in Transition. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 2000.

Lee, Richard M. Mr. Lincoln’s City: An Illustrated Guide to the Civil War Sites of Washington. McLean, Virginia: EPM Publications, Inc., 1981.

Schultz, Jane E. Women at the Front: Hospital Workers in Civil War America. Chapel Hill: The University of North Caroline Press, 2007.

Wilbur, C. Keith. Civil War Medicine. Guilford, Connecticut: The Globe Pequot Press, 1998.

Primary Sources available online:

Documents of the U.S. Sanitary Commission No. 1-60:

Outlines of the Chief Camp Diseases of the United States Army

Medical Recollections of the Union Army

For a more complete list of my resources, and for character sketches, a timeline of events, maps and photographs from the early Civil War, check out the new Web site for Heroines Behind the Lines at

When writing historical fiction, my mantra is “the better the research, the better the story.” My only problem is knowing when to stop the research an start writing the book!

* * * * *

Thank you, Jocelyn, for sharing with us today.

Reader Question: As a reader, is it important to you that an author has done his/her homework—whether he/she has written a contemporary or historical novel? How do you react when you read something that seems out of place for the time period or context of the story?

ENTRY RULES Readers, leave your email address (name at domainname dot com/net) along with your answer to the question for your chance to win an 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 contest is open to North America residents only, but includes APO/FPO boxes too.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

July 2012 New Releases in Christian Fiction

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

Tidewater Inn by Colleen Coble — Welcome to Hope Beach Where the sea breeze is fresh, sun sparkles on sand . . . and trouble appears with the force of a hurricane. Inheriting a beautiful old hotel on the seaward shore of Hope Island could be a dream come true for Libby. The inn cries out for her restorer’s talent and love of history. She’s delighted to learn of family she never knew she had. And the handsome Coast Guard lieutenant she’s met there on the island could definitely be the man of her dreams. But Libby soon realizes that only way she can afford the upkeep on the inn is to sell it to developers who are stalking the island.… (Romantic Suspense from Thomas Nelson).

Love Finds You in Mackinac Island, Michigan by Melanie Dobson — Elena Bissette must choose between her family’s fortune and her heart’s desire. (Historical Romance from Summerside Press (Guideposts).

Oregon Outback by Elizabeth Goddard — Danger in life and love dog the trail of four rugged brothers. FBI agent Jonas vows to protect a dead man’s daughter. Rancher Carver goes head-to-heart with a female sheriff. Fearless Lucas is tamed by a beautiful bookkeeper. Justin seeks a fugitive heading too close to home-and heart. Will love be the brothers’ true calling? (Romantic Suspense from Barbour).

Wedded to War by Jocelyn Green — Charlotte Waverly leaves a life of privilege, wealth–and confining expectations–to be one of the first female nurses for the Union Army, only to find that her sweetheart disapproves of her newfound independence, forcing her to choose between love and duty. (General Historical from River North (Moody).

A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California by Keli Gwyn — A willful widow and a determined merchant find themselves fighting for a town’s business-and against their growing attraction. Who will win this contest of wills? (Historical Romance from Barbour).

Lakeside Family by Lisa Jordan — The one man she never wanted to see again is the only one who can save her daughter’s life. (Romance from Love Inspired).

Through Rushing Water by Catherine Richmond — Sophia has been proposed to so many times, she doesn’t recognize true love when it hits her. (Historical Romance from Thomas Nelson).

When Hope Blossoms by Kim Vogel Sawyer — Amy Knackstedt needs a fresh start; Tim Roper wants to escape his past. Will the crossing of their pathways lead to healing? (General Contemporary from Bethany House).

Decision to Love (Sacred Vows, book 3) by Michelle Sutton — Eight years after Hope and Tony’s affair ended, new problems arise that seem to have a ripple effect, some of which began back when they first met. (General Contemporary from Sword of the Spirit Publishing).

The Doctor’s Devotion by Cheryl Wyatt — When he fled Eagle Point years ago, former Air Force trauma surgeon Mitch Wellington left only broken dreams behind. Now he’s back with a new dream-opening a trauma center in the rural area and saving lives. He hopes to hire the quick-thinking nurse who impressed him during an emergency. But Lauren Bates lost her faith and doesn’t believe she deserves to help anyone. It’ll take all Mitch’s devotion to show Lauren that sometimes the best medicine is a combination of faith, community-and love. (Contemporary Romance from Love Inspired).