INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Lucy Thompson

Hello, again, readers and fellow writers! I have another fabulous visiting author for you all to meet today – Lucy Thompson. She is also offering a GIVEAWAY (details below)! I met Lucy through the ACFW Historical Fiction Facebook page. You have certainly heard me rave about ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) before. But this is a great example of the networking and connections you can make through the genre pages set up. They have them for all genres. Not only can you network with other writers in your genre, you can ask questions and get great advice. It’s priceless!
But I don’t want to take too much of the spotlight off Lucy who is here to talk to us about her books. So, let’s see what we can glean.
Welcome, Lucy! Thanks for being on my blog today. First, can you tell us a little about your novel.

A cowboy! A mail order bride! Some cute kids and bossy siblings.

What more could you want? (Apart from the book :)

Colorado, 1881. Lydia Walsh is on the run. The quiet rancher she marries and expected to find safety and protection with turns out to have three siblings, next to nothing to live on, and is a crack shot who may or may not be one of the states best cattle rustlers.

Beau Harding wants to keep his family together and do the right thing by them. His mail order bride comes with her own set of baggage: two more mouths to feed and empty hearts begging him to fill. The job he took for some quick money gets him thrown in jail for rustling, and then to clear his name he takes on another job–and learns that his wife may have been the one plotting his family’s downfall all along.

Interesting! I know that inspiration can come from so many different places. What about for you? What was the inspiration for Mail Order Surprise?

Jesus. (Seriously!) Old movies. I’m a shameless borrower. I “borrow” from old movies, books, newspaper articles, random conversations overheard on the train, family skeletons… You name it, I borrow inspiration from it. For Mail Order Surprise I drew inspiration from a few musical classics: Calamity Jane and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

Love those films. I definitely get how films and other stories inspire.

Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

I always knew I would write. Just like I always knew I’d buy a house. Careless confidence perhaps? One day after church I decided to sit down and write a book. All I knew about it was that there was a girl getting off a train. No name. No backstory. No idea that she would arrive home to a house in a mess and three unexpected brothers to wash/cook for. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

🙂 So fun! I’m a pantser too (write “by the seat of my pants”, without plotting or outlining)…I love discovering the story as I write it. But it’s not all fun and games. There are things about the craft that each writer doesn’t like as much… What part of the writing process do you dread?

Seriously. Coming up with all the STUFF that happens to a character inbetween the opening and closing lines. I like to just make it up as I go along but it does take me longer to write that way. :-/

The struggle is real!! 😉 I always ask other authors this question: Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Yes! Join a writing organization. ACFW or RWA. American Christian Fiction Writers have an excellent critique group that will help hone your writing along with a monthly workshop you can opt into. Well worth the membership price.

For writing books I highly recommend Susan May Warren’s Deep and Wide. It is SO good. I was highlighting notes in the intro! Also recommend The Emotion Thesaurus and Rivet Your Reader with Deep Point of View.

Love, love, love this advice!!

When I write, I have to get in a rhythm, set a mood. Music is a big part of that. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I listen to EPIC music!! At least that’s what the youtube title says. Ha ha. I like this music as it has no lyrics, is reasonably fast paced (so encourages fast typing/thinking), doesn’t give me a headache if I listen to it through headphones for hours on end, and is uplifting.

I start with this one first: Epic Music Mix: Fate

Then this hour long one: Best of Epic Music 2012

Let me sneak this one in: Can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

The blurb for Waltzing Matilda:

Waltzing Matilda by Lucy Thompson – Sydney, Australia, 1821
Henry didn’t plan on a runaway convict masquerading as a shepherd. Or on the woman’s baby. Keeping them safe will cost him his freedom—or will it?

Something NOT in the blub: in Australia in 1821 the act of dropping one’s handkerchief at the feet of a female convict was considered a proposal.

You bet I used that in my novella.

Here’s what my extended plot/blurb says:

Escapee, Matilda, will die before returning to the Parramatta Female Factory. Last time someone offered her “kindness”, she ended up pregnant.

Six years since Henry Powell completed his sentence he’s increased his sheep herd to head inland.

What he didn’t plan on was a spitfire runaway convict masquerading as a drover—with a baby.

Henry’s offer to return is the last thing she needs. Still, his dreams of new horizons spark a longing. She’s captured and returned to Sydney. Her freedom costs his prized handkerchief—his proposal. Together, they trust God for their happy ever after in the Australian bush.

Thank you so much, Lucy, for talking with me today and for sharing about your works. I look forward to reading more!

Mail Order Surprise

Enjoy an Excerpt from Mail Order Surprise

Close enough to reach out and touch her, he could count the golden flecks in her eyes. He grinned. Only married a few hours and already he felt poetic. He backed off a pace from the distraction she presented. “So, what do you think?”

Lydia blinked, lashes brushing her cheek. “About what?”

“About the house.”

Shutters closed over her face, leaving a polite mask. “It’s nice. Large and … airy.”

Beau followed her gaze as it tracked over the workbench, the table his Pa built with its six mismatched chairs, the sideboard. What did she think about his home, really? Now that he was taking a good look at it, he probably should have washed up last week. Or at least set the dishes to soak.

He let out a huff. “Be honest—the place stinks and needs a decent clean.”

She raised a brow. “You think?”

He nodded, not too hastily, in case she thought he was desperate. If he didn’t already know how ridiculous he’d look, he’d get down on his knees and beg for a clean plate and a hot meal. He crossed his arms and worked his jaw. “Could do. I’ll let you decide what’s best, though.”

Lydia moved to the large black stove that dominated one wall. With a wave, she swirled the dust motes silhouetted against the stove and they twinkled out of sight to blend in with its tarnished nickel plating.

She checked the firebox and then propped her hands on her hips. “I’m thinking fried pork and potatoes. You have a side of pork, right?”

His head bobbed of its own accord. It was their last side of pork, and he’d gladly hand it over, sacrifice it on the altar of good eating.

One delicate finger tapped against her cheek. “And biscuits.”

His knees wobbled. “With gravy?”

She leveled him with a frown.

He hastily swallowed the saliva that had pooled in his mouth. “But only if you want to.”

“Beau….” Lydia shook her head. “One simply does not make biscuits without gravy.”

“Yes!”

She startled at his near shout, her hands flying to clutch her chest.

He grinned. “Sorry. It’s just….” He shrugged. “Gravy. I knew I did the right thing marrying you.”

She considered him with a look that said he’d taken leave of his senses. “Okay.”

His wife could look at him any old way she liked, he was gettin’ gravy and biscuits.

More about the Author

Hi! My name is Lucy Thompson. I’m a stay-at-home mum to five precocious children and wife to the ultra-handy Dave by day and a snoop by night, stalking interesting characters through historical settings, and writing about their exploits.

I enjoy meeting new people from all over the world and learning about the craft of writing. When I can be separated from my laptop, I’m a professional time-waster on Facebook (really!), a slave to the towering stack of books on my bedside table, or can be found hanging out with my five children.

My home is in central Queensland, Australia where I do not ride a kangaroo to the shops, mainly because my children won’t fit.

Buy Link

Amazon: http://amzn.to/22iGjlX

Connect with Lucy and her books

Giveaway

To join the giveaway, please follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter below. Lucy is offering one (1) ebook copy of Mail Order Surprise. You can gain entry points by posting a comment on this blog, visiting Lucy’s Facebook Author Page, and visiting my Facebook Author Page. Best of luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

INTERVIEW & SPOTLIGHT: Author E.A. West

Hello, all! Guest author Friday is here again. Today, I have author E.A. West talking about her latest release, Redeeming Honor. I won’t spoil the fun by telling you about the book prematurely though. You have to read on for that 🙂

I met E.A. West through a publisher we have both worked with called Clean Reads. Not only is Stephanie (the owner) a wonderful person to work with, she has created a Facebook page for the Clean Reads authors. We share advice on all kinds of things and anyone is free to ask questions. We help encourage and spur one another on. It’s pretty unique and very helpful. I just love it! Anyhow…that’s how I met E.A. West. She is here with me today sharing about this latest release. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in…

Welcome, E.A. West! Thank you for coming on my blog today! First, can you tell us a little about your novel.

Redeeming Honor is an inspirational romance novel featuring an American heroine and an Afghan hero. Here’s the back cover blurb:

Meghan Carpenter loves God, her yarn business, and her twin brother Ryan — a former marine who currently lives with her. When she agrees to let his wounded buddy live with them on her small Indiana alpaca farm, she expects an American marine. What she gets is a former Afghan interpreter who’s painfully shy around women.

Scarred from the war, both physically and emotionally, Basir Hamidi is grateful for a place to live. But his attraction to Meghan is a problem. With his honor destroyed by events in his homeland, and nothing to offer her but his broken, scarred self, he vows to avoid her and protect her reputation. Yet he is drawn to her with a strength that can only be God’s leading. For a man who has lost everything, letting go of the past is a difficult process. When he must also redeem his honor, his only chance of success is to rely on God.

Wow! What a great blurb! I am intrigued… What was the inspiration for Redeeming Honor?

I’ve included combat veterans in several of my books, and in the course of researching those characters, I learned enough of about Afghan culture to be intrigued. I watched several interviews and documentaries on PBS that mentioned interpreters, and my imagination had one of its infamous “what if” moments. In this case it was, “What if an Afghan interpreter got injured and sent to the United States? What if he met the sister of someone he’d worked with in Afghanistan?” The story grew from there.

Love it. Inspiration comes from all kinds of places… Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

I actually hating writing when I was a kid, even though I’ve always loved to read. I have learning disabilities (including dyslexia) that made expressing myself with words difficult, so becoming an author never even entered my mind. When I was a kid, I dreamed of being an artist, a horse trainer, or a vet. Sometimes I wanted to be a farmer.

I guess there is truly never a challenge that can’t be overcome with determination. What an amazing testimony! When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

My freshman year of high school, I took a writing class for English. I wasn’t excited about it since I’d spent my entire school career up to that point avoiding writing as much as possible, but my mom insisted I had to take the class. One of our assignments was to make up a character and write a profile for him/her. Something about creating my character and writing about him unlocked my ability to express myself through writing. I no longer hated writing and started creating stories for fun. I haven’t stopped since.

Good. I’m glad this assignment connected you to your future. I always have to pick other authors’ brains…do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Read excellent writing, including in the genre you write. The more you read, the more you learn what works and what doesn’t. It also helps to study the work of popular authors to figure out what makes readers keep coming back for more.

Great advice! What about you? What are you currently reading?

The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien. I’ve loved the Lord of the Rings movies for years, but I’d never read the books. Now that I’m reading the first one, I wish I would have read the series a long time ago. It’s an excellent book, but so different from the movie!

I read them a long time ago. I should look into them again. Interesting enough, I am listening to the score from the movie right now. It’s part of my writing playlist. I generally (but not always) need music to get in the writing mood. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

It varies. Sometimes I need silence to write. Other times I write with anything from classical music to heavy metal playing in the background. It all depends on my mood.

Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

I do most of my writing in the late afternoon or at night. I’ve always been a night owl, so I work with my internal clock. My favorite place to write is anywhere with few or no distractions. If there are other people around or a lot of noise, I have a hard time focusing.

I hear you! My kids can be uber distracting…as can be the house. I find evening to be most productive, but because my kids are at home in the evening, I’ve shifted to writing more during the day.

I usually ask this just for sheer interest: how long does it take you to write a book?

It depends on the book. I once wrote a novella in a week, but one of my novels took around seven years to finish.

This question is for my readers. Can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Basir’s family had to cut ties with him to keep themselves safe. Working as an interpreter for the American military has made a lot of Afghan people and their families targets for the Taliban. Including that bit of reality in Redeeming Honor is my way of acknowledging the often unrecognized sacrifice those brave interpreters have made.

Wow. How sad. You really have got me with this one!

Thank you again for being on my blog today! I have enjoyed learning a bit more about your newest release and about your process. Now, I’ll get out of the way and let you all get more into Redeeming Honor.

Redeeming Honor

Enjoy an Excerpt

The oven timer dinged, and Meghan grabbed a hot pad. Golden-brown cookies filled the air with the delicious scents of vanilla and chocolate. She set the tray on the granite counter, shut off the oven, and then turned to the task of transferring chocolate chip cookies to the cooling rack.

As she set the baking sheet in the sink, the front door opened. Meghan’s heart jumped, and she hurried from the kitchen, eager to see which of Ryan’s friends would be living in her house. She stepped into the hall and spotted her brother and a swarthy-skinned, black-haired man wearing huge dark sunglasses. Each of them carried a black suitcase.

Ryan grinned as his friend closed the door. “Hey, Meghan, this is my buddy Basir Hamidi. Basir, meet my sister, Meghan.”

The black-haired man removed his sunglasses to reveal a pair of wire-rimmed glasses and scar tissue around his tawny-brown eyes. “Thank you for letting me stay in your home.”

Meghan swallowed her surprise at his heavy accent and pushed aside her sorrow that he had endured something terrible to cause the scars. Regardless of what he had been through, the only thing that should matter to her was helping him to feel comfortable in her home. She offered a warm smile and clasped her hands at her waist. “I’m glad I had an empty guestroom for you. I’ll let Ryan give you the grand tour of the place while I put the finishing touches on lunch, but remember that this is your home, too, for however long you need it.”

“Thank you.” He inclined his head, his right hand over his heart. Then, he lowered his hand and glanced at Ryan.

Her brother slung an arm around Basir’s shoulders and guided him to the stairs. “Your room’s up here.”

Meghan returned to the kitchen and struggled to wrap her mind around her new houseguest. She’d expected an American marine, but her brother had brought home an Afghan man. Had Basir somehow become a marine? Had he been part of the Afghan army? Questions flowed in a steady stream as she chopped hardboiled eggs for the chef’s salads she’d planned.

Buy Links

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

iTunes

Kobo

Pelican Book Group

More About the Author

Award-winning author E.A. West is a lifelong lover of books and storytelling. In high school, she picked up her pen in a creative writing class and hasn’t laid it down yet. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys reading, knitting, and crocheting. She lives in Indiana with her family and a small zoo of pets.

Connect with E.A. West and her books

Website: http://eawest.mcphitty.com

Newsletter: http://eawest.mcphitty.com/newsletter.html

Facebook Author Page: http://www.facebook.com/pages/EAWestAuthor

Twitter: http://twitter.com/eawest

Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/authoreawest

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/eawest

GRIEF: A Unique Story

What does that title mean exactly? I mean grief and grieving are as old as the world, right? From the minute Adam and Eve lost their son Abel to his murderous sibling’s anger, there has been grief.

Wait…take that back. Perhaps even one could say from the moment sin entered the world, the open communion with God was broken, man had to toil for food, and woman had great pain in childbirth (come on, ladies, you hear me). Perhaps that was when grief entered the picture.

But certainly not when it showed up at my door.

Yet, that is exactly what I am telling you.

Your grief is unique. Your pain is not only real, it is different than any pain anyone has felt.

As much as it is the same.

One of the things that I absolutely abhor that we do to ourselves, is that we rationalize our emotions….especially our pain and grief.

“there are worse things” “I’m not as bad off as         

“I should be grateful for what I have”

The fact that others may have it worse, does not (listen to me), DOES NOT diminish YOUR experience of YOUR pain.

The fact that there are many good things in your life does NOT diminish the hurt you feel over your LOSS even as much as these blessings may comfort you. And I firmly believe that our God is big enough and understanding enough to give you that: space for your grief all the while knowing that it does not mean you aren’t also grateful for His goodness.

Your pain is your pain.

It is important that you give yourself the space, time, and moments to sit in your grief. To lean into your grief even. If you stuff and deny it…it will create a bitterness that eats you up.

And remember, God understands loss…perhaps better than we realize. He gave His only Son. Turned Him over to die a criminal’s death. God turned His back on His suffering Son while He died, forsook Him. So, God has experienced that kind of pain.

I say this, not so you will compare your pain. Please don’t. But to encourage you that He does get it.

In your realm and breadth of experience, you have your set of emotions. To what extent you have known loss is unique to you. Don’t discount your knowledge of it and feelings because you think you shouldn’t feel that way or that you should “be over it by now”. Or anything else that someone else tells you. Let you be you. Deal with it as it comes to you. And know that you are coming to a place of “new normal”…not trying to return to the way things were. That life is gone. Yet another reason to mourn.

Come to grips with new normal as you are able.

And find peace. In your time.

INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Lauren Brandenburg

Welcome to my Friday blog! As you know, I host authors on Fridays. And we are entering December with no exception. But with a real treat. I have author Lauren Brandenburg on today. I met Lauren through the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). She is the President of our local chapter, but I actually met her in Dallas at a national ACFW conference about three years ago. Lauren is a gifted writer, has a warming personality, and flawless taste. I really wish I could introduce you in person! But I know you will get a peek at how great she is through her honest interview.

Lauren is also offering a GIVEAWAY!! The details of the giveaway are below. Enjoy!!

Thanks for coming on my blog today, Lauren. First, can you tell us a little about your novel?

Orlo: The Burdened is the second book in the Books of Orlo series, which is actually the second trilogy in The Books of the Gardener. In the first book (spoiler alert!) Orlo wins a tournament allowing him access to a more extravagant lifestyle than the simple life he had as an orphan in book one. Orlo now has everything he ever wanted—the tall tower, the fine clothes, the lavish dinners, and an assignment of prestige as an inventor’s apprentice. The only piece missing is the people he once called family. With his guardian released back into the World, and her husband rumored to be lost, Orlo is now under the watchful eye of a talented, but manipulative inventor. When an unlikely artist uses his unique ability to show Orlo the Way that he has forgotten, Orlo will set out on a quest to the World to restore truth and return his household to the Conclusus.

As with all my children’s books they are appropriate for ages 8+ and are totally cringe free (no inappropriate language, relationships, etc.)

I like the sound of that (“cringe free”). Sounds like an intriguing story. Did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

Oh yes! I always dreamed of being Jo March from Little Women. I also dreamed of being an archeologist, surgeon, and Solid Gold dancer (true story). But at the end of the day, I saw myself teaching and writing stories . . . and then falling in love with a man I didn’t even know I loved (just like Jo!). That all happened . . . cue “When You Wish Upon a Star”.

Love it!! You’re own fairytale come true 🙂 But you and I both know it’s not all rainbows and sunshine 24-7 in the writing world. There are somethings we enjoy more than others. What part of the writing process do you dread?

The first draft! I really should be throwing down a chapter right now instead of doing this interview. But, this is a lovely distraction . . . First drafts are the worst! Even though I tell my writing students over and over how the first draft doesn’t matter, you just have to get the clay on the wheel (thank you, Tosca Lee), I’m still a horrified mess as I force my fingers to get those words on paper.

I’m the same way, my friend. That perfectionist in me just wants to edit as I write! What is that?

You mentioned Tosca Lee…(love her, by the way)…and I know that it is true we are always learning from each other, whether it be through workshops or just intuitively picking up from what we read. Stephen King even says “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.” Apparently, he thinks learning from other writers is very important. So, I always ask…what are you currently reading?

This time of year my reading list is all over the place. I am about to dive into A Christmas Carol – Dickens is my classical go to (and it’s almost Christmas), and I am nearing the end of A Cricket on the Hearth. I just finished up Sara Ella’s Unblemished. I try to keep a book in play—you know, a book with more of a non-fiction, Biblical worldview feel. Currently, I’m picking at The Reason for God by Timothy Keller. And because, again, it’s Christmas, I’ll re-read Letters From Father Christmas by Tolkien.

You’ve got it going on for sure!! I am a fast reader, but there is so much on my plate, I can only juggle two books at a time (like you, a non-fiction and a fiction).

Now, when I go to write, I have to get the set up. For me, that includes music. What about you? What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

Movie sound tracks! I have a whole playlist for each series! Orlo likes to listen to the soundtrack from Sherlock Holmes—it has that steampunk kind of feel, the instrumentals from Edward Scissor Hands, Chocolat, Big Fish, Stardust, and the 2003 version of Peter Pan.

Oooohhh…I think Orlo and I share a similar taste in music!

Let me see if I can be a bit sneaky here and get you to tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Orlo: The Burdened is the longest of all of my children’s chapter books. I believe it comes in somewhere around 71,000 words. One of my most favorite parts in when a character from my second novel, Boone: The Forgotten, makes a needed appearance. Fans of The Books of Boone will know him instantly and Orlo fans will enjoy meeting this unusual character for the first time.

Neat! I’ve heard you’ve got something neat in the works, but I’ll ask for the readers: Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

Yes . . . I’ve written my first novel for adults, and I love it so much! It’s not speculative like my children’s novels, but it is a bit quirky. I’ve titled it The Death of Mungo Blackwell, but that could change should a publishing house find a better fit. (Fingers crossed . . . not for the title change but for the publisher.) More so than anything else I have written, I can’t wait to get this in the hands of readers. It’s just fun, and true (um, err, some of it), and oh so lovely!

I am excited for it! Thank you again, Lauren, for coming on my blog! I am eager for my readers to get a better look at Orlo: The Burdened, so I won’t ramble on. I will, however, encourage everyone with middle-grade readers in their houses to check out these books. Lauren is just fantastic!!

Orlo: The Burdened

A new gardener has entered the Hall of Keeping, removals have ceased, and a ban on using giftings in public has been put in place. Despite the changes, Orlo has everything he ever wanted—the tall tower, the fine clothes, the lavish dinners, and an assignment of prestige as an inventor’s apprentice. The only piece missing is the people he once called family. With his guardian released back into the World, and her husband rumored to be lost, Orlo is now under the watchful eye of a talented, but manipulative inventor. When an unlikely artist uses his unique ability to show Orlo The Way that he has forgotten, Orlo will set out on a quest to the World to restore truth and return his household to the Conclusus.

Enjoy an Excerpt

“Quickly, Orlo! We must hurry!” The layers of Evangeline’s red dress flashed in front of Orlo. The doors opened and then shut behind them, one after another as they ran through. “Hold onto your thoughts. She is listening for you!”

Orlo did as the messenger instructed. He blocked every thought of books, the Gardener, and the people of the Liberum from his mind. He had chosen to come back to the Conclusus to bring the truth of the giftings to the people. They had a choice, to live free from the law, and he was the proof.

Orlo passed through another door, hoping this was the one that led to the Hall of Keeping with its gigantic hidden tree and single red apple. He prayed it still grew safely in the middle of the empty shelving where he had last seen it. Out of breath and fighting with everything in him to suppress his fear, he reminded himself . . . he chose this.

More About the Author

Lauren H. Brandenburg is a speaker and advocate for home education, as well as author of the middle-grade series The Books of the Gardener (Boone: The Ordinary, Boone: The Forgotten, Boone: The Sanctified, Orlo: The Created—a 2017 finalist for the Selah Middle Grade Novel of the Year—and Orlo: The Burdened.) She is also the creator of the creative writing curriculum The Engaged Writer, designed to encourage hesitant young writers. Her novels are recognized as a “Top Safe Read” and “Top Read Aloud” for young readers in the homeschool community. Lauren blogs about her family’s journey through The Doubling Project—a homeschool project turned family lifestyle started by her husband Jamie with their two children in 2016—and considers herself a collector of lovely things. Lauren and her family live in Nashville, TN.

Connect with Lauren and her books

Buy Link for gift-able signed copies (Great for kiddos for Christmas!): https://squareup.com/market/tbotg

GIVEAWAY!!

Lauren will be giving away a copy of Orlo: The Burdened to one winner chosen by way of the Rafflecopter below. You can gain entries by posting comments, following it to and liking Lauren’s Facebook Page, and following it to and liking my Facebook page. Entries will be accepted until Thursday, December 7, 2017, at 11:59 pm. Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway