Author Spotlight: Erynn Newman

 

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Erynn Newman is a new writer friend of mine—and local too—I met her at church! Erynn is the author of two fascinating books—First Light, where the compelling story of Drew and Elisabeth begins, and Out of Darkness, Erynn’s new release, which continues their story. Here’s an intro to First Light:

Drew and Elisabeth meet as teenagers, and they fall in love. Sounds like a perfect recipe for happily ever after. But when Drew’s father is killed at the Pentagon on September 11th, he finds himself spiraling into an abyss of rage. To avoid dragging the woman he loves down with him, he has to walk away, even if it means losing her forever. He joins the CIA and eventually makes things right with God, but is it too late to make things right with Elisabeth?

First Light is available on Amazon at: http://smarturl.it/FirstLight

And then the newly released sequel, Out of Darkness:

Out of Darkness - Ebook Small

A bride and a widow in the same day, Elisabeth’s prayers are about to be answered . . . if the CIA, international arms dealers, and her best friend don’t stand in the way.

Elisabeth Allen gave her heart to Jesus as a little girl and to Drew Marek as a teenager. When their wedding day finally arrives, it’s the happiest day of her life—until a car bomb transforms her dream come true into a living nightmare. Three years later, she’s beginning to figure out life without Drew—with the help of his best friend and CIA partner Gabe. But then something unexpected happens . . .

Out of Darkness is available on Amazon at: http://smarturl.it/OutOfDarkness

Erynn graciously answered some interview questions for me:

Who are your favorite characters in First Light and Out of Darkness, and why?

W​ow! No easy first pitch, eh? Of course, I love them all, but I’ll focus on my two main heroes. When I started writing Out of Darkness, I thought I had created the perfect character in Drew. I was hopelessly in love with him, and Gabe was just a blip, just a side character, good for a few laughs and maybe a little bit of an “awww!” moment, but then he started to really come alive, and take over a bit, and the story became just as much his as anyone’s. A LOT of readers have come back to say that they’re Team Gabe. And I’m so glad that others see in him what I do, but I have this little fear that the “bigness” of his personality overshadows Drew’s steady loyalty, his relentless love, and his quiet poetic soul. And even though he’s a bit broken and not so perfect anymore, he’s still Drew. I don’t want to choose anymore than Elisabeth did. I definitely love them both (and I think it’s okay to), but in the end, Drew is still “the one.”​​

 

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What do you think readers will find compelling about the stories?

I hope it’s the emotional realism. From the highs of falling in love and having long held dreams come true to the lows of having everything they’ve ever wanted stripped away in a single moment, I’ve tried to paint a realistic picture of what it looks like to be led through the full landscape of human emotion, to trust when you have no idea what God is doing. ​​​
I think Drew and Elisabeth and Gabe bring all those emotions to life. In all their brokenness and grief, they’re still funny and hopeful and real. And they’re asking the same questions we are. I think readers will find a little of themselves in each of them.

Why do you write the kinds of stories you do?

​I love​ stories. I’ve been creating them in my head since I was a kid, and love stories in particular have always resonated with me. I wanted to write the kinds of stories I love to read. But I also want my stories to point to the Gospel . . . the ultimate love story. That’s where my tag line came from: The Gospel in truth and fiction. 

​I think fiction is one of the best ways to reveal truth and speak directly to hearts. I write what I write because I want to show the world the beauty of ​real love.

How do you hope your readers will be inspired or changed by reading your stories?

​ I think we can all relate to the emotions that accompany loss. Maybe we haven’t lost a spouse, or been held captive and tortured for three years, or had our dream come true ripped from our hands just as soon as it was realized, but we’ve all lost things we longed for, and we’ve all been broke​n by that loss​. I hope we can see ourselves in these characters in the midst of their grief, and I hope that, like them, we’ll find that when we have nothing else, God is still good, and He is enough​.​

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

Out of Darkness isn’t your typical “Boy meets Girl” romance or even your typical ​suspense where the hero has to protect the heroine from the bad guy and save the day. The story begins with Happily Ever After, and the hero is the one who needs saving. So it takes several popular tropes and turns them on their head.

What was your publication process like?

​Long and winding.​ I started writing this story almost ten years ago. I learned that I was doing everything wrong. I stopped and wrote other things. I got better. I finished a first draft. I rewrote it a thousand times. I sent it off to agents. I got rejected.

I waited. And then my dream agent, the one I’d submitted to fully believing it could never happen, offered me representation.

​Then we submitted to publishers. And waited. And got rejected. Many responded that they loved the characters, loved my writing, but they just didn’t know how to market the story. They asked me to change things that felt like ripping out the heart of the story. And I couldn’t do it. So I was left with the choice to shelve it and write something new or to indie publish.

And then I had a baby, and my husband got really sick, and I focused on taking care of them. I started editing for income, and I helped many authors launch their books into the world. And I wondered when it would be my turn A few of my clients are indie authors, and they encouraged me to take a leap of faith and so, because I believed Drew and Elisabeth and Gabe deserved to have their story told, I chose to send them off into the world on my own . . . or with the help of some wonderful friends.​

What are you planning to work on next?

​​I’ve started another stand alone romantic suspense—about an ex-Army Ranger who has to protect his younger brothers when the youngest witnesses their parents’ murder—but I also have these voices in my head that are saying maybe someone else from Out of Darkness deserves to have their story told. I just don’t know what that story is yet.

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-Erynn Newman

NovelistEditorDreamer.

Follow me on Twitter & Facebook

Represented by: Books & Such Literary

Newsletter (where subscribers can get First Light for free): http://smarturl.it/GetMail
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ErynnNewman
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorErynnNewman/

Website: https://erynnnewman.com/

 

 

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Easter Cookies

Easter Story Cookies

To be told and baked the night before Easter

 1 cup pecan or walnut halves, to be broken          

Pinch of salt

1 tsp. vinegar                                                            

1 cup sugar

3 egg whites                                                               

½ tsp cream of tartar                                               

Adhesive tape

1 Bible

 Wash and dry hands. Gather above ingredients. Preheat oven to 350o and lightly grease two cookie sheets (or cover with baking parchment).

Place nuts in a re-sealable bag. Give participants wooden spoons (or a rubber mallet) and let them pound the nuts into small pieces. Set aside. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by soldiers. (Read John 19:1-3)

Let each helper smell the vinegar. Then measure 1 teaspoon into the mixing bowl. Explain that while dying on the cross, Jesus was thirsty and soldiers gave Him vinegar to drink. (Read John 19:28-30)

Separate the eggs. Add the whites to the vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. (Read John 10:10-11, 28)

Sprinkle a little salt into each person’s palm, and let each one brush it off into the mixture. Then they can taste their salty palms. This reminds us of salty tears shed by those saddened by Jesus’ death. (Read Luke 23:27)

So far, the ingredients aren’t very appetizing, but now sugar and cream of tartar are added, and you must trust that these will produce a pleasant result. Explain that the sweetest part of this story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He makes it possible to know Him and belong to Him. (Read Ps. 34:8 and John 3:16)

Beat with electric mixer on high speed for 10 to 20 minutes or until stiff, glossy peaks form. Point out the pearly white color, the color of purity in God’s eyes for those who have been cleansed from sin by Jesus’ death. (Read Isa. 1:18 and 1 John 3:1-3)

Fold in nuts. Drop rounded teaspoons of the mixture on the cookie sheet. Explain that each mound resembles a rocky tomb like the one in which Jesus’ body was placed. (Read Matt. 27:57- 60)

Place the cookie sheet in the preheated oven, close the door, and turn the oven completely OFF. Hand each participant a piece of tape to secure the oven door. Explain that Jesus’ tomb was sealed. (Read Matt. 27:65-66)

Time for bed! Explain that we may feel sad and disappointed to leave the cookies in the oven with the door closed. Jesus’ death seemed final to His followers, and they were in despair when the tomb was sealed. (Read John 16:20 – 22)

On Easter morning, open the oven door and give everyone a cookie. Point out the cracked surface of the cookies, and then take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter morning, Jesus’ followers were amazed to find His tomb opened and empty. He had risen! (Read Matt. 28:1-9)

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Italian Tiramisu Cheesecake

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This gorgeous, easy cake is wonderful for holidays!

Ingredients:

  • 24 lady finger Italian cookies
  • 12 Oreo-type sandwich cookies
  • 1 tsp finely ground espresso
  • 1.5 cups brewed espresso (6 T separated out)
  • 8 T butter, softened
  • 36 oz. name brand cream cheese, warmed to room temp
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 8 oz. heavy whipping cream
  • 4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
  • ½ cup milk
  • 1 packet of white chocolate instant pudding mix
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup cocoa powder (OR)
  • 1 bar dark chocolate for curls
  • Baking parchment
  • Spring-form pan
  • Cake pan slightly larger than spring-form pan
  • Larger pan for water bath

Instructions:

First, preheat oven to 350 and line a 9″ spring-form pan lined with parchment paper (place a round piece on the bottom and a long strip along the sides).

Step 1: Prepare the Crust

  1. Finely grind the sandwich cookies, lady fingers, and espresso powder in a food processor.
  2. Add melted butter and pulse until fully mixed.
  3. Press mixture down onto the parchment on the bottom of the spring-form pan.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from oven and set aside.
  6. Turn oven down to 320

Step 2: Cheesecake Filling

  1. Beat 32 oz. of the cream cheese, butter and sugar in an electric mixer until smooth. Stop mixing a few times to scrape down the sides .
  2. Add eggs one at a time while mixing.
  3. Add 6 T of the prepared espresso, vanilla extract, and then flour, scraping down as needed.
  4. Pour half of the cheesecake mixture onto the crust in the spring-form pan.
  5. Dip the lady finger cookies in the remaining espresso and line them up to form a single layer over the cheesecake mixture, cutting to shape as necessary.
  6. Pour the remaining cheesecake mixture on top.
  7. Place in water bath – use cake pan under spring-form pan (to keep water out) inside large, deep pan filled partway with warm water.
  8. Bake for 50-60 minutes at 320 degrees. The middle of the cheesecake will still be a little jiggly.
  9. Turn the oven off and let the cheesecake reduce temp in the oven for 45 minutes.
  10. Remove it from the oven and let it fully cool on a counter top.
  11. Refrigerate overnight.

Step 3: Whipped Topping

  1. Beat the heavy whipping cream until stiff peaks form. Chill in refrigerator while preparing the remaining ingredients.
  2. In a separate bowl, beat the remaining cream cheese, milk, and pudding mix until completely smooth.
  3. Stir the chilled whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture until it is fully combined.
  4. Place mixture into a piping bag with a large tip, such as Wilton 2A, and then decorate the top of the cheesecake.
  5. Dust the top with powdered cocoa (OR)
  6. Shave on chocolate curls.
  7. Keep chilled until ready to serve.

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New Release by Kathryn J. Bain!

cover-takeherbreathaway-4Kathy Bain is a writing critique partner of mine, and she’s just released a new spellbinding novel in her Lincolnville Mystery series, called Take Her Breath Away. Here’s an interview we did to celebrate its release:

Mary: What prompted you to write Take Her Breath Away?

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Kathy: My Lincolnville Mystery series came from an idea because of Toby Keith’s song “God Love Her.” I liked the idea of the Bible on the motorcycle, it just took off from there. In Take Her Breath Away, my lead characters, Ty and Rayleene, were two minor characters, married to each other, from previous books. In the last book, it was announced they were separated. This is the story of them working their way back together. 
Mary: How do you come up with your gripping story ideas?
Kathy: I get them everywhere. In my first Lincolnville Mystery, Matthew, my hero, keeps a secret from the heroine, Lydia. The idea of the secret actually came from a news story in NE Florida. (Love Law & Order’s “ripped from headlines”). An officer stopped two guys on a motorbike. The driver of the bike was pulling something from his pocket, and the officer shot and killed him. Turned out to be a bag of marijuana. In my book, things were a bit different, but the gist of the news story is still there (innocent man killed by officer).
Mary: Which one of your characters in the Lincolnville Mystery series would you say is most like you, and why?
Kathy: Oh, my, that’s a hard one. Age-wise, it’d probably be BJ, the heroine in One Last Breath, only because she’s retired and I’m 55. Personality-wise, I would have to say Sheryl is probably the closest. She uses humor a lot, yet inside she’s not as secure as she portrays. (You’ll find out more about that in the fifth and final Lincolnville Mystery.)
Mary: Which authors have most heavily influenced your writing style?
Kathy: I love Terry Blackstock and Dean Koontz. They both have spiritual aspects in their books. Ms. Blackstock writes Christian novels and Koontz, while not a Christian author, is a Christian man, so he puts aspects of that in his books. They also like a lot of suspense.
Mary: Is there a message you want to get across to your readers?
Kathy: I seem to use forgiveness a lot. Not just God forgiving us, but us forgiving ourselves and each other. Sometimes it’s easier to believe God forgives our past sins than it is for us to forgo the guilt of our pasts.

Take Her Breath Away is available here.

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Easter Story Cookies!

Easter Story Cookies

With Bible story – to be baked and read the night before Easter

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 Ingredients:

1 cup pecan or walnut halves, to be broken          

Pinch of salt

1 tsp. vinegar                                                            

1 cup sugar

3 egg whites                                                               

½ tsp cream of tartar                                               

Adhesive tape

1 Bible

 Wash and dry hands. Gather above ingredients. Preheat oven to 350o and lightly grease two cookie sheets (or cover with baking parchment).

Place nuts in a re-sealable bag. Give participants wooden spoons (or a rubber mallet) and let them pound the nuts into small pieces. Set aside. Explain that after Jesus was arrested, He was beaten by soldiers. (Read John 19:1-3)

Let each helper smell the vinegar. Then measure 1 teaspoon into the mixing bowl. Explain that while dying on the cross, Jesus was thirsty and soldiers gave Him vinegar to drink. (Read John 19:28-30)

Separate the eggs. Add the whites to the vinegar. Eggs represent life. Explain that Jesus gave His life to give us life. (Read John 10:10-11, 28)

Sprinkle a little salt into each person’s palm, and let each one brush it off into the mixture. Then they can taste their salty palms. This reminds us of salty tears shed by those saddened by Jesus’ death. (Read Luke 23:27)

So far, the ingredients aren’t very appetizing, but now sugar and cream of tartar are added, and you must trust that these will produce a pleasant result. Explain that the sweetest part of this story is that Jesus died because He loves us. He makes it possible to know Him and belong to Him. (Read Ps. 34:8 and John 3:16)

Beat with electric mixer on high speed for 12 to 15 minutes until stiff, glossy peaks form. Point out the pearly white color, the color of purity in God’s eyes for those who have been cleansed from sin by Jesus’ death. (Read Isa. 1:18 and 1 John 3:1-3)

Fold in nuts. Drop rounded teaspoons of the mixture on the cookie sheet. Explain that each mound resembles a rocky tomb like the one in which Jesus’ body was placed. (Read Matt. 27:57- 60)

Place the cookie sheet in the preheated oven, close the door, and turn the oven completely OFF. Hand each participant a piece of tape to secure the oven door. Explain that Jesus’ tomb was sealed. (Read Matt. 27:65-66)

Time for bed! Explain that we may feel sad and disappointed to leave the cookies in the oven with the door closed. Jesus’ death seemed final to His followers, and they were in despair when the tomb was sealed. (Read John 16:20 – 22)

On Easter morning, open the oven door and give everyone a cookie. Point out the cracked surface of the cookies, and then take a bite. The cookies are hollow! On the first Easter morning, Jesus’ followers were amazed to find His tomb opened and empty. He had risen! (Read Matt. 28:1-9)

 

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Who has been forgiven much…

IMG_8916Do not be overly concerned about your defects. Instead concentrate on having an unceasing love for Jesus, and you shall be much forgiven, because you have loved much. (Luke 7:47). However, we need to be aware of the tendency to seek the good feelings and selfish thrills of love (which are the by-products of love) instead of love itself. We can so easily deceive ourselves on this matter.

– François Fénelon, 17th century Archbishop and spiritual advisor to courtiers of Louis XIV.

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Spring! A Few Favorite Springtime Quotes

springtime_tulips

I’m so thankful for spring! Where I live spring comes early – crocuses and daffodils popping up in February, sometimes even late January. My seven year old daughter Megan says she likes spring because the flowers bloom and there are Easter Egg hunts on Easter. And since Easter is my favorite holiday of the year because our Lord arose on that day, this is always a joyful time of year for me. I hope it is for you as well.

And so we should have a few favorite springtime quotes:

“In the Spring, I have counted 136 different kinds of weather inside of 24 hours.” – Mark Twain

“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep spring from coming.” – Pablo Nerud

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” – William Shakespeare

“The front door to springtime is a photographer’s best friend.” – Terri Guillemets

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“The flowers appear on the earth, the time of singing has come, and the voice of the turtledove is heard in our land.”

– Song of Solomon, 2:12

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