Category Archives: Interviews

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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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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Interview by ACFW Indiana!

Come leave a comment on my interview by ACFW Indiana!

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Blog Hop Interview

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I’ve been linked in a blog hop and asked about new releases! Here’s my interview:
What is the working title of your book?
Amberly
Where did the idea come from for the book?
I’ve had the story behind Amberly and the rest of the Crestmere Series in my mind for more than 35 years. I realized two years ago I was forgetting parts of it, so I began writing it down! Friends loved chapters I sent them and begged me for more, and the writing / learning / revising process began. The idea came from my dreams of exploring the ideas of romance and relationships in other times and places.
What genre does your book fall under?
Romantic suspense, in a setting similar to eighteenth century England.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Oh, that’s such a great question! I know exactly what (or who) each character looks like, but don’t know whether certain actors would be the best ones to play these roles. Marsten’s face (but not his hair) looks exactly like a Perry Ellis model named Tommy Dunn. I spotted Tommy on a wall over the men’s suits at Dillards two years ago. His face is just like the one I’ve envisioned in my mind for thirty five years (which is rather funny because I doubt that Mr. Dunn’s even thirty five years old). Eleanor looks like a particular photo I saw once of Catherine Zeta Jones, but she acts more like my feisty Irish ancestors. Mayor Williamston in my mind looks like Theoden actor Bernard Hill. Margaret Williamston’s a bit trickier. I have an image in my mind of what she looks like, but don’t know who might portray her best. And as for Hrunfaldr the Norlander chieftain, I picture Thor actor Chris Hemsworth – but he’d have to be about thirty years older!
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Snatched by coldblooded enemies as a declaration of war, Eleanor Williamston finds herself caught in a deadly snare—miles from home and lost in the wilderness, where her heart is drawn to the handsome guardsman who rescues her, but then is torn when he challenges her political ideals—and then reveals something that will make her choices even more difficult.
Where can your book be purchased?
Amberly is available on Amazon and all the usual places.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I pounded out the first draft of what became the first two books over four months during late summer and early fall, 2010. I’ve spent the two years since then revising both manuscripts, while learning from writers’ conferences and working with critique groups.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Amberly has similarities to novels by Jane Austen, Liz Curtis Higgs, MaryLu Tyndall, and even has touches that would appeal to lovers of Tolkien, epic classical literature, and poetry.
Who or What inspired you to write this book?
While I was growing up, I became fascinated with the notion of twin heirs to royalty, born in the forest so no one knew which was the firstborn, coming to trust only in one another and determined to someday reign together. I enjoyed mulling over the unique joys and challenges this might present, and soon their adventures together began in my mind. Other characters joined them, and their stories matured while I did. When I became a believer in Christ, their lives and struggles blossomed like mine with desire to please God while struggling against forces from without and within that seek to oppose Him. Now I see these stories as a means to share with others in an enjoyable way some of the crucial things I’ve learned about life and love, providing a legacy of Biblical truth for generations to come. It’s my hope and prayer that readers will come away loving God more deeply and desiring to serve Him better.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
To me, the setting of a story is as much a character as the hero or heroine of any story. Since I’ve always viewed these stories like a movie playing in my mind, I’ve sought to convey the richness and beauty of the surroundings so the reader is swept away into the world of the characters, and can see and feel what they do. Readers and reviewers have commented enthusiastically on this, so it appears other people enjoy immersing themselves in the world of the stories they read as much as I do!
Check out some other great author blogs too:
Rebecca Davis for gripping missionary biographies
Fay Lamb for romance and family
Selena Fulton – It’s All About the Journey
Susan Tuttle’s Encouraging Small Steps that Lead to Giant Leaps in Christ
and Kathryn J. Bain for clean fiction with an edge!

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An interview by Kristy Cambron!

Kristy invited me to be a Fan Fridays guest host on her blog! Check out the interview here.

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Interviewing Kathleen Freeman, Genesis 2012 Winner!

I had the privilege of “meeting” Kathleen Freeman last year through ACFW.com’s Scribes critique loop. She did valuable critiquing for me on Amberly –  and wrote at least two of her own books during the same time! It was with great pleasure that I was able to watch via Live Feed while she won the highly coveted Genesis Award last week for her novella, The Broken Feather. Here are her responses to a few questions:

  1. Tell us about The Broken Feather. What made you want to write it?

The Broken Feather is the legend of a girl fighter in ancient India. She’s clumsy and odd, facts that the other girls remind her of on a regular basis. Then, a market tournament goes horribly wrong with an accusation of cowardice. Her village rejects her, and she’s cast out of the Kalari school with no hope for a future. She finds a broken feather waving on the riverbank. The Feather gives her the courage to keep going, to try something new. Out of the ashes rises a life, wonderful beyond her wildest dreams.

I had a dream one night, and like many of my dreams, it birthed a story. Yes, I dream with an odd vividness. So then, the mystery began. I had to figure out who this girl was, how she could possibly be a fighter in ancient India, and what was going to happen to her after her village rejected her. I started writing and kept writing until all those questions fleshed out. It, of course, took countless hours of research. Good thing I adore learning.

2. How long did it take you to write?

Well, I’ve been a writer since I learned to string words together, but this is the story I cut my novel teeth on. I “finished” it about thirteen years ago. Time flies. It’s mostly been put on the back burner since, as I’ve researched, refined, hooked the chapters, and learned from talented crit partners. In that time, I’ve worked on other novels and ideas, as well as raised two wonderful sons.

4. Tell us about other stories you’ve written.

Other novels? The Happily Ever After Company is about a woman who makes a huge mistake and has to flee for her life. Up the Sycamore is about a young man who moves to a small town and despite every intention to be king of the school, makes friends with the town outcast, a boy with a horrible mystery surrounding him. No One Would Know is about a woman who risks life and family, angering people in high places, to solve the mystery of her best friend’s death. Then, there is The Hobo and the Swan, a work of literary fiction and passion of many readers. It’s the story of a girl growing up in the Great Depression whose life has been about survival. She has little to lose. Then she meets Eddie, the boy who has lost even more, and she has to choose between her survival and his.
Like my characters, my writing isn’t standard. My work all involves finding hope in hard times, both of which I’ve seen in abundance. Only my articles have been published at this point, though some novels are coming close, so, perhaps soon.

5. Do you tend to be an outline or freeform writer?

Panster or outliner, that is the question. A vague outline always forms in my head, but it’s something I jot down rather than rely on. I’m a connections person and story is so dependent on what my characters do and decide. I tend to let them tell the story. Usually I can guess where they’re headed, but often, I’m only a step ahead.
I keep finding that they have their reasons for behaviors and beliefs and those epiphanies help enrich the story in ways an authoritarian approach never would, sometimes changing the course of the plot. I guess, in that way, all my stories are mysteries.

6. What are you working on now?

In the works? I have several in various states of completion. Children of Revolution, the story of a young French lord trying to save his children is almost finished.
My website has many of my stories and concepts for the future.

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