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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:

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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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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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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 Highlight – Selena Fulton

Author Spotlight – I get to introduce you to my dear friend and critique partner Selena Fulton, author of Never Let Go! Here’s some info about her:

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Selena Fulton, author of Never Let Go

Selena was born in a small town in Indiana and moved to Florida as a teen. Now that their daughter has grown, Selena and her husband are empty nesters – if you don’t count the bossy cat! She enjoys camping, morning strolls along the seashore, making jewelry, and reading.
A multi-published author, Selena belongs to First Coast Romance Writers, Romance Writers of America, and Ancient City Romance Authors. Currently VP of Membership and past Secretary for First Coast Romance Writers, she believes in “paying it forward” by working with fellow authors in her critique groups and judging contests. She recently signed with Entangled Publishing and the first book in her new series is scheduled to be out this fall.

Come check her out on Twitter or Facebook 
or go to her blog , because it’s all about the journey…

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