Tag Archives: romance

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 – 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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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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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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A Valentine’s Day Romantic Remembrance

A Promise KeptThis Valentine’s Day, I’d like to talk about a man who truly cherished his wife. His name is Robertson McQuilkin, former missionary to Japan and later president of Columbia International University. At the age of 58, his wife Muriel was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. During the course of the next two decades, Robertson resigned his position and cared for her with such tenderness and affection that it can truly be said that Muriel was a cherished wife. Their story is told in this book, A Promise Kept, which says, “Sharing lessons learned from his own marriage, Robertson McQuilkin shows how weakness generates strength, servanthood births freedom, joy is found in a promise kept. For anyone who has ever loved.”

He writes, “In the summer of ’95 Muriel’s right hand went limp – the first major decline since she lost the ability to stand and feed herself eighteen months before. A little loss, you would think, but I shed a few tears. It’s almost like part of me dies with each of her little deaths. That precious hand, so creative, so loving, so busy for me and everyone else. But it wasn’t just the old memories. That right hand was the last way she had to communicate. She would reach out to hold my hands, pat me on the back when I hugged her, push me away when she didn’t like what I was doing. I missed her hand. Memories, sweet and bittersweet.”

My prayer is that we all  would learn to love as this man did. In our increasingly self-centered culture, it’s such a joy to know of people who devote themselves to God and family, and who love with selfless, tender care. springtime_tulips

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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:
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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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Protected: Amberly’s Amazon Rank is Rising!

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A Verse for Today – Perseverance

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Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.” – James 1:12

Remaining steadfast is all about perseverance – through trying situations and especially in relationships. Marriage, it’s been said, is meant to make us holy, not happy. Grrr. This rubs against all my idealistic romance-writer sensibilities. If you’re like me, you carry around lovely little snow-globe images of what relationships should look like, whether they be with our spouses, children, friends, co-workers, or whoever. And if you’re like me, you nurture and polish those images all the time, worshiping and perfecting them.

Right?

But if I’m honest with myself I have to recognize that all of life is meant to make me holy, not happy. All I have to do is peruse a few flannel-board Bible stories to see that. No snow-globes there. Amy Carmichael once wrote this to someone who had prayed for her healing:

“No good thing will He withhold from them that live a godly life.”

Amy wondered whether He’d prefer that the emphasis were on making sure we didn’t miss any good thing that might come from the illness, instead of: ‘Health is a good thing. Lord, give it.’” – Quoted from Candles in the Dark

Father God, let me respond to the stresses of life and relationship in ways that make me more holy.

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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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More Romantic Remembrances!

Our newest Romantic Remembrance comes from Voni Harris, whose fabulous blog can be found here.

Here’s Voni’s Romantic Remembrance:

Rich and I met at Drake University at Intervarsity Christian Fellowship. (I had to go to SOME kind of church to stay on God’s good side, and I worked on-campus on Sundays, but. Intervarsity met mid-week.) I remember being astounded that those people really believed that Bible stuff—to the point of actually living it. Rather shook my easy-believism to the core.

One day Sara Weddington, the attorney for Roe in the abortion case Roe v Wade, came to campus to make a speech, and I was assigned to interview her for my TV journalism class. To complete my report, I needed the name of a particular legal case about abortion, so I ran into the law library for help.

And there was Rich behind the desk. Just getting off work.

Abortion is one of his hot-button topics (he’s against it!), so he volunteered to help me. We began talking, and never stopped.

Soon, I realized two things: Our relationship was getting serious, and I couldn’t just say I was a Christian for Rich’s sake.

Those two things meant one simple thing: I needed to decide once and for all what I really, truly believed about Christ. And that is when I gave my life to Christ to do with as He wishes, and I’ve never looked back. He is God and He is trustworthy and good.

Rich and I drove from Des Moines to Wyoming so that he could meet my parents. While we were there, Mom and Dad took us out to eat at a pretty fancy steak place. Rich looked Dad in the eyes, and said, “I’d like your permission to marry your daughter, Sir.”

My Dad looked up, grinned, shrugged and said, “You’ll have to take that up with her.” Then he simply took another bite of his food.

So, Rich asked me to marry him, and I said, “Of course I will!”

On another note, this same father of mine announced, “Yo, Adrienne!” (from the Rocky movies) when the pastor asked, “Who gives this woman to be wed” during the wedding rehearsal.

Our wedding itself was, frankly, kind of empty. Since his family is from Indiana, and mine was from Wyoming, we met in the middle and had the wedding in Des Moines. Unfortunately, we scheduled it during Drake’s fall break, so very few of our friends were in Des Moines at the time. On the other hand, it meant so very much that so many of our family members were able to drive in. Their love meant a lot, because we knew they were sacrificing family vacations to support us.

I hope that our commitment to each other, through arguments, bad times, good times, celebrations, blah times and all, demonstrates the unconditional love that God has for us.

I hope that people see that Christ is the center of our marriage so much that His love cannot be denied because His love overflows to those He has put into our lives. Most especially our daughter, Leah.

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