Author Spotlight – Jeanne Gassman

Jeanne Lyet GassmanJeanne Lyet Gassman’s debut Christian historical novel, a compelling story called Blood of a Stone, is scheduled for release from Tuscany Press in March, 2015. Don’t miss it! The book already has 4.8 stars on Goodreads from pre-pub reviews. Reviewers have praised the book for its immersion into time and place, complex characters, and fast-paced plot.

 Set in the first century on the edges of the Roman Empire and the Jesus movement, Blood of a Stone is a sweeping story of murder, betrayal, love, and the search for redemption.
 
Faced with the brutality of slavery, young Demetrios confronts his master and flees by the blood of a stone. Determined to escape his past, he struggles to create a new life and a new identity with his friend and fellow escaped slave, Elazar. However, freedom has its price. Secrets cannot remain secret forever. A chance for love is lost. Elazar betrays Demetrios to a so-called prophet named Jesus of Nazareth. Fearing the Roman authorities and Jesus, Demetrios risks everything to silence those who would enslave him again. His quest leads him to startling discoveries and dire choices. Demetrios must answer the question we all ask: Can we ever be free of our past?.

 

I was delighted to have a chance to interview Jeanne about her book, and here’s what she had to say:

  1. Jeanne, Blood of a Stone is a gripping First Century story set in the Roman Empire. What made you decide to write about this period? And what kind of research did you do to accurately portray this setting? 

Believe it or not, the story of Blood of a Stone was inspired by a dream my husband had. He told me about this vivid dream of Burt Lancaster directing a movie about an escaped slave in First Century Palestine. I latched onto the idea and whipped out 65 pages of a novel in about three days. Some of those pages even made it into the final version of the book! Of course, the need for more research is what ultimately slowed me down. I had to stop spinning my tale at some point and go back and research the time period and lifestyle.

My research for Blood of a Stone took me in all sorts of interesting directions: I collected a huge library of books and professional journals. I interviewed experts on flora, fauna, clothing, and customs. I visited museums and botanical gardens. I even cooked a few of the meals mentioned in the book, using spices I knew would be available during the First Century. During the final revisions of the book, I worked with a historical expert who reviewed the entire novel for historical accuracy. He was a wonderful resource, and we had a great time bouncing ideas back and forth. We discussed everything from character names to hair styles to magic spells.

  1. While I’m reading the story, I can feel the angst of your main character Demetrios, a Roman slave who suffers severe abuse at the hands of his merciless owner. Can you give us some insight into why you chose to write about the life of a slave during this time period?

As a slave during this time period, Demetrios belonged to the lowest stratum of society. His father sells him for a pittance to a brutal Roman master who abuses him, but Demetrios refuses to remain a victim. In Blood of a Stone, I wanted to explore what it would be like to rise out of slavery and create a new life and new identity. How would a character’s past life affect his present choices? Could he reinvent himself? Could he find peace and happiness? Or would his past overshadow his efforts to become truly free?

  1. What do you hope readers will take away from your fascinating story?

The central theme of Blood of a Stone is one of forgiveness and offers a message of Christian hope. Aside from experiencing the world and life of First Century Palestine, I would hope that readers would find inspiration from Demetrios’s story.

  1. What do you plan to write next?

My next book, The Double Sun, will be completely different in that it’s set in mid-20th century America during the Cold War. It’s a story about a family whose lives are deeply intertwined with the atomic bomb tests in Nevada and the nuclear industry. However, if Blood of a Stone is successful, my publisher and I have talked about writing a sequel about Tabitha. I adore Tabitha and know her story well. It would be a pleasure to revisit this world and follow Tabitha’s life journey before and after Demetrios. (Hint: That’s as close I will get to a spoiler!)

JEANNE LYET GASSMAN lives in Arizona where the desert landscape inspires much of her fiction. She holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and has received fellowships from Ragdale and the Arizona Commission on the Arts. In addition to writing, Jeanne teaches creative writing workshops in the Phoenix, Arizona, metropolitan area. Her work has appeared in Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal, Red Savina Review, The Museum of Americana, Assisi: An Online Journal of Arts & Letters, Switchback, Literary Mama, and Barrelhouse, among many others. Blood of a Stone is her debut novel. Find Jeanne online at: www.jeannelyetgassman.com
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Author Interview – Kristy Cambron!

Kristy Cambron PromoI’m so excited to introduce you to Kristy Cambron! She’s a dear friend of mine who has been fascinated with history since hearing her grandfather’s stories of his experiences as a B-17 co-pilot in WWII. She writes vintage-inspired, historical Christian fiction titles, which placed first in the 2013 NTRWA Great Expectations & 2012 FCRW Beacon contests, and finaled in the 2013 Lauries. Her debut novel, THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN (Hidden Masterpiece #1) released in July 2014 from Thomas Nelson (HarperCollins Christian Publishing), and is a nominee for the RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Inspirational Novel of 2014. A SPARROW IN TEREZIN (Hidden Masterpiece #2) will release from Thomas Nelson in April, 2015.

She’s a proud first-time aunt, who lives in Indiana with her husband and three football-loving sons (where she can probably be bribed with a coconut mocha latte and a good Christian fiction read).

Butterfly and Violin

The Butterfly and the Violin 

“In her historical series debut, Cambron expertly weaves together multiple plotlines, time lines, and perspectives to produce a poignant tale of the power of love and faith in difficult circumstances. Those interested in stories of survival and the Holocaust, such as Eli Weisel’s Night, will want to read.” —Library Journal, Starred Review

“. . . debut novelist Cambron vividly recounts interwoven sagas of heartache and recovery through courage, love, art, and faith.” —Publishers Weekly

A mysterious painting breathes hope and beauty into the darkest corners of Auschwitz—and the loneliest hearts of Manhattan

Manhattan art dealer Sera James watched her world crumble at the altar two years ago, and her heart is still fragile. Her desire for distraction reignites a passion for a mysterious portrait she first saw as a young girl—a painting of a young violinist with piercing blue eyes.

In her search for the painting, Sera crosses paths with William Hanover, the grandson of a wealthy California real estate mogul, who may be the key to uncovering the hidden masterpiece. Together, Sera and William slowly unravel the story behind the painting’s subject: Austrian violinist Adele Von Bron.

A darling of the Austrian aristocracy, talented violinist, and daughter to a high-ranking member of the Third Reich, Adele risks everything when she begins smuggling Jews out of Vienna. In a heartbeat, her life of prosperity and privilege dissolves into a world of starvation and barbed wire.

As Sera untangles the secrets behind the painting, she finds beauty in the most unlikely of places: in the grim camps of Auschwitz and in the inner recesses of her own troubled heart.

Kristy, The Butterfly and the Violin is a warmhearted, tender story set against the dramatic backdrop of World War II. What made you decide to choose this time period?

More than ten years ago, I was a young art student in a college history class. I remember the distinct moment when the professor presented a topic I’d never heard of – the art of the Holocaust – and I was captured from that moment on. I devoured books on the subject (especially Elie Wiesel’s Night, which I still read every year). I remember hearing that whisper in my soul, that this topic was special; the art of creation and worshiping God, even in the midst of the most horrific of circumstances one could imagine – it’s a stunning expression of beauty that I’m still trying to understand. And though it’s a very weighty subject, I wanted to give a voice to these known artists, to help others hear their story. So I stored the idea away, hoping that someday I’d know what to do with it. It just so happened that God opened the doors for it to become a book a decade later.

 I know you love Jane Austen novels, like I do. Were you influenced by Austen while writing The Butterfly and the Violin? Or by any other authors?

I actually started my writing career penning stories in the Contemporary Romance genre, though I noticed early on that all of my story ideas centered around vintage themes – including the writings of Jane Austen and Regency England. I’d written four contemporary manuscripts before I tried crafting a historical storyline. It was in writing the first few chapters of a historical novel that I finally felt at “home” as an author. Using the research from my undergraduate work in Art History/Research Writing years before, I was able to really dig in and focus on the topics I love in both art history and classic literature. So while Jane doesn’t have a specific mention in these books, I do mention other classic novels: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN, and Dickens’ Little Dorrit in A SPARROW IN TEREZIN.

My favorite novel actually does have a connection to classic literature. (Click here to see my Video Café segment, where I answer the question of my favorite books.)

Who is your favorite character in The Butterfly and the Violin, and why?

What a fabulous question! While many aspects of Sera’s character includes things I naturally gravitate to (Paris, art history, Manhattan, to name a few), I have always felt a particular kinship with Adele. I love her journey in this book. I was moved by the depth of her faith, and how it guided her in the most dire of circumstances. And her strength – even that which she wasn’t sure she possessed – was something that served as a witness to me in my own life. Portions of Adele’s story were edited while at the local cancer center as my Dad underwent chemo, and the remaining chapters were edited in the weeks after he’d passed away in late 2013. So the strength that Adele was able to summon in the midst of her grief displayed a deeper level of hope that even I could draw from as the author who created her.

What ways are you finding most effective for marketing your debut novel, and what are you planning to release next?

Right now, we’re working on bringing the follow-up novel to THE BUTTERFLY AND THE VIOLIN to store shelves in April, 2015. A SPARROW IN TEREZIN tells the story of the children of the Terezin ghetto, north of Prague. The historical story continues with one character from The Butterfly and the Violin, as well as introducing new characters who live through The Blitz in London and the war-torn world of Nazi-occupied Prague. Sera and William will be back in the contemporary storyline, though their journey to happiness is tested in similar ways to the characters in WWII-era Europe.  

Readers can click here to read the back cover summary, and can click here to read a deleted scene from the book! And I hope everyone stops by my website in the weeks to come. I should have some exciting news to share about what I’ll be writing next. It’s still historical fiction, but it’s a new genre for me. I can’t wait to share this story with you!

Thanks for stopping by today. I love to get to know readers! I look forward to connecting with you on social media. And if you’re an aspiring writer, I hope to meet you at the national ACFW Conference in September 2015.

Butterfly and Violin

The Butterfly and the Violin, Hidden Masterpiece Book #1 – Available now – and a wonderful holiday gift!

A Sparrow in Terezin

A Sparrow in Terezin, Hidden Masterpiece #2 – Coming, April 2015!

With joy,

Kristy Signature

Kristy - Casual

 You can connect with Kristy at:

Twitter: @kcambronauthor – Facebook: Kristy Cambron – GoodReads: Kristy Cambron

Website: KristyCambron.com

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Time to Banish Your Christmas Cactus to the Garage!

Do you have a Christmas Cactus that never blooms at Christmas? Here’s the secret to GORGEOUS Christmas blooms:Flowers 010
This Christmas Cactus is the daughter of my mom’s plant – which is older than I am! She (the plant, not my mom) had a habit of blooming every few years or so in odd times like July. I’d read they need to be ignored in an attic or cellar to prompt blooming, but I never had the heart to force mine into dormancy until a few years ago. I did a little research, gave her a shot of Miracle Gro on the day after Thanksgiving, and banished her to my garage for the month of December, watering only a little bit once or twice a week. Voila! Buds started to form. I brought her back in and gave her nice, warm sunshine – and the buds did nothing. Back to the garage! This time the buds grew. I didn’t bring her back in until the first flower bloomed.

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Now she’s happy as a clam and blooms away every Christmas! It turns out Christmas Cacti need 13 hours of darkness at temps between 50 and 70 degrees F to be prompted into blooming.

 

 

 

Go figure. If you did that to me, well, let’s just say blooming’s the last thing I’d think of doing.

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After the blooms drop off, I give her a pruning haircut to stimulate thicker growth and more blooms for next year, and I’ll send her to the garage again next Thanksgiving!

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I Will Give Thanks!

Lord, let me never forget to give thanks for all Your kindness! I don’t deserve it, yet You’ve blessed me with fabulous family and friends, a wonderful church, and especially the gift of salvation through Your Son’s sacrifice on my behalf. Let me never forget to honor You!

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“Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good, His love endures forever!” – 1 Chronicles 16:34

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 “In everything give thanks!” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18
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 “Give thanks to the God of heaven.” – Psalm 136:26
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“Give thanks to the Lord of lords, His love endures forever.” – Psalm 136:3

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“Enter hHs gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to
 Him and praise His name!” – Psalm 100:4IMG_8095

“Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains.” – Genesis 49:26 IMG_8089

 “I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.” – 1 Corinthians 9:23IMG_8049“Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” – Colossians 4:2

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Author Spotlight – Kathryn J. Bain!

Image of Kathryn J. BainTonight I have the privilege of introducing you to another one of my fabulous writing critique partners, award winning author Kathryn J. Bain! Kathryn’s sixth book, The Visitor, was released on October 14. Her awards include the Heart of Excellence Readers’ Choice Award and the Royal Palm Literary Award for Inspirational Fiction.

After being President of Florida Sisters in Crime from 2010-2012, Kathryn is currently the Public Relations Director for Ancient City Romance Authors. Kathryn has also been a paralegal for over twenty years and works for an attorney who specializes in elder law. Whenever any of the rest of us in our group write a crime scene, it has to pass muster with Sergeant Kathryn!

Kathryn grew up in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. In 1981, she moved to Boise, but it apparently wasn’t far enough south, because two years later she headed to Jacksonville, Florida and has lived in the sunshine ever since.

Product DetailsThe Visitor:
What you can’t see can kill you!

 When Christine Westman bumps against a stranger in a Jacksonville supermarket, he gives her only one month to live. A killer moves into Christine’s walk-in closet and watches her nightly preparing for the day of her death. Can Christine survive when midnight hits and The Visitor comes calling?

Beautiful Imperfection:Product Details
Would God bring her through cancer to die at the hands of killer?
When witnesses to a mass murder start dying, breast cancer survivor Teddy Federline must push aside her anger and trust an ex-boyfriend to ensure she lives long enough to testify against the killer.

Detective Sloan Michaels still has deep feelings for Teddy but realizes that after the way he left her years ago, he has a lot of making up to do. Now, he must keep his focus on the case and off the woman he loves. If Sloan doesn’t keep Teddy safe, he’ll never get a second chance.

I thoroughly enjoy critiquing Kathryn’s stories – mainly because I never have a clue what’s going to happen next, and she’s a master at drawing out suspense! All her books can be found here. Don’t miss any of them!

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Autumn at the House of Hall

IMG_8044IMG_8040I SO love fall! Time for apple picking, baking, and making decorations! I’m reminded of God’s creative love for beauty, and so thankful for all His blessings!

“Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs!”

– Psalm 100:2

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Author Spotlight: Fay Lamb!

Tonight I have the opportunity to introduce you to another fabulous writer and critique partner of mine, Fay Lamb – author, editor, and writing coach! And today’s her birthday, too!Fay Lamb

Her emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted three series. Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, Books 1 and 2 in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series are currently available for purchase. Charisse and Libby the first two novels in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series have been released. Fay has also collaborated on three romance novellas: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt, A Ruby Christmas, and the newest A Dozen Apologies. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Future releases from Fay are: Everybody’s Broken and Frozen Notes, Books 3 and 4 of Amazing Grace and Hope and Delilah, Books 3 and 4 from The Ties that Bind. Also, look for Book 1 in Fay’s Serenity Key series entitled Storms in Serenity.

Fay loves to meet readers, and you can find her on her personal Facebook page, her Facebook Author page, and at The Tactical Editor on Facebook. She’s also active on Twitter. Then there are her blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor. And, yes, there’s one more: Goodreads.

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