Tag Archives: Christian fiction

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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Blog Tour

Hi, everyone! I’ve been invited to join a terrific blog tour by my dear friend and wonderful critique partner Selena Fulton , author of Never Let Go. Click on her name to visit her blog and check out her fabulous books! I’ll tell you more about Selena in a few days. Don’t forget to stop back and check it out!

The purpose of the blog tour is to introduce authors to readers & writers and have them answer a few questions about they like to write. Here are my answers:

1) What are you working on?

I’m working on a sequel to AmberlyFINAL Cover Image  300dpia thrilling, historical/fantasy Christian romance with touches of humor. In this second installment to the Crestmere Series, several new characters will be introduced while the plot takes some interesting, hair-raising turns! The Crestmere story has been gripping my imagination since I was twelve years old. It was my own private little story that I worked on for decades, polishing up bits here and there, day by day, entirely in my mind. But once I started writing it out, the characters grabbed the reins and made the story even better—starting me on an unforgettable journey that I don’t want to ever end!

2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?

The genre is rather unique in that the story takes place in “a world that might have been,” where history has played out a little differently than the way we know it. A world where marauders still sail in from the north to wreak havoc upon an island kingdom that looks and feels a lot like Eighteenth Century England—except that this island is ruled by God-fearing kings who strive to honor the Almighty while struggling to quench imperialistic outbreaks among the nation-states around them. So, although the story has the epic feel of a sweeping historical series, the fact that its history is a little different than our own places it in the realm of fantasy. But there isn’t any magic, other than the sparkling magic of irresistible, heartrending romance.

Readers who love the epic writings of Tolkien along with the dramatic romance of Austen and the Brontë sisters will relish being swept away to another time and place in a thrilling love story filled with adventure, intrigue, and heartfelt longing.

3) Why do you write what you do?

I delight in writing the kinds of stories I love to read! I love well-written, thought-provoking tales that carry me away to other lands—my favorite ones being those where wonder fires the imagination and chivalry still rules—and I especially adore novels that warm my heart and bolster my faith. My greatest desire in writing is to inspire my readers to love God with blazing passion and serve Him with every bit of strength they possess.

4) How does your writing process work?

I’m chuckling because I usually think of myself as a consummate planner and organizer, but I’ve found in writing that my characters and their stories rise up take on a life of their own, often leading me down unexpected paths. I recently came across an interview with Ray Bradbury and learned that he found the same thing very early on in his writing career. One of his stories kept changing on him, eventually taking him more than 40 years to complete!

I don’t intend to take anywhere near that long to write this sequel 🙂

 

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Guest Blog Post

On SeriouslyWrite:

Why Should I Include A Map in my Book? by Mary Elizabeth Hall

 Why Should I Include A Map in my Book? Well-drawn map illustrations add so much to publications, portraying the setting and its style in a unique way, giving readers a sense of era and location before they even turn the first page.  It allows them to visually enjoy the story or text you’ve crafted so carefully from words.
I don’t know if all readers are like me, but when I read a gripping, well-written story, I’m transported in my mind to a place where I can see the plot unfolding like I’m watching a movie. This draws me in and keeps me reading—because I’m dying to know what happens next! And when I can flip back to a map and “see” the setting in my mind and know what’s where with respect to everything else, I enjoy the characters’ experiences in an even more personal way because I feel like I know where they live and like I’m involved in their lives. I know how far the hero traveled on his tired old horse, or how treacherous the mountains appear that lie between the good guys and safety. How swampy is the swampland? How big is the lake? With a good map, I can visualize in my mind what the author’s trying to convey. When I read Tolkien, I have a feel for both the world he so masterfully created and the culture with which he wants to acquaint me because he drew elegant maps with delightful elements such as rune-style writing, early European type compass roses, and even personal touches like a little spider web in the corner. These are the types of things that tell me an author greatly wants to share his world with his reader.
Maps are especially important in books that flesh out historical events,  allowing both the casual reader and the informed history buff to accurately place the action and become familiar with the terrain as it appeared during the era in which your account takes place. This is a key element to engaging a reader’s interest, stirring them to want more. A well-drawn historical map will often prompt a reader to look up other maps from the setting in question and want to learn more about the book’s era—which in turn will make them want to read your next one!
Here’s the map I drew for my novel Amberly:
Amberly 72 DPI for Website
Map for Amberly
Dora here. Have you considered including a map in your novel? If you have included an illustration, would you care to share your experience? What type of feedback did you receive?

Amberly

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. Her heart is drawn to the handsome guardsman who rescues her, but is torn when he challenges her political ideals. Then she finds out he’s been keeping something from her—and her entire world turns over. Marsten longs for a God-fearing wife, but cannot marry the lady he desires. The sassy young schoolteacher he rescues catches his eye, but he fears she’ll turn out to be like the beautiful women who’ve broken his trust in the past. Journey with them through the spectacular but treacherous Aspian Mountains while they evade enemy pursuit and wrestle through the challenges of wilderness and budding love, only to run headlong into Ellie’s family—and a whole new onslaught of foes.

Mary Elizabeth Hall home educates her three daughters at home in sunny South Carolina. They laugh about how they can’t roast marshmallows without experimenting to see how various snack foods burn on a stick. With degrees from Cornell and Syracuse, Mary has a professional background in business management, but she’s found her true passion is for writing, editing, and illustrating. Website and Blog: https://maryelizabethhall.com/ Twitter: @mryliz Facebook: www.facebook.com/Maryelizabethhall Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/book/show/16037113-amberly If you’d like to inquire about having a map drawn for your novel, come visit my Illustrations page at: https://maryelizabethhall.com/illustrations/

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Blog Hop Interview

next bestG0474

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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