GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: Author Hannah R. Conway

Welcome, friends! I have a special treat for you today. I have author Hannah R. Conway on my blog today. She is a bestselling author, for one. Beyond that, she is a writing mentor (mine, in fact) and is very knowledgable in the craft of writing. She is also a phenomenal speaker. I can’t say enough good things about her! But I’ll let you meet her yourselves:

History Doesn’t Have to Repeat Itself

I’m so excited to be Sara’s blog & give away an eCopy of my latest novel, Up in Smoke! Enter to win at the end of this blog post!

Again, I’m super excited to be here. Sara is a dear friend, and talented historical fiction author.

I must say, though I write contemporary romance with elements of suspense and with military themes, I truly have a love for historical fiction. History in general brings a smile to my face, so much that I hold a degree in History, and even teach World History. So, anytime I get a chance to plot and shoot ideas back and forth with Sara, I’m all ears. The way she weaves history and fiction—beautiful!

Somewhere not so deep within me, lives a historical fiction story. One day y’all I will write it!

One of the things I love, and hate, about history is how it repeats itself. Historically speaking, we as a society forgo the lessons of our ancestors and doom ourselves to repeat their mistakes. Teaching history allows me to see those patterns, explore them, and discuss with my students ways we can prevent similar outcomes today, or in the future.

While it’s easy for me to cast a stone at our ancestors, and even present day folks for ridiculous repetitive destructive behavior while waving a pointed finger shouting “haven’t you learned anything?” I’m not innocent.

Countless times I’ve made the same mistake…sometimes knowingly. Ugh. Sad truth.

While writing my latest novel, “Up in Smoke”, my main character, Leanna Wilson, has a history of repeating her past mistakes too. Guess she and I have something in common. At a tender age, Leanna’s heart was broken by her first love, and the betrayal of her best friend. When Leanna’s life gets tough, she runs and puts her hope in people and things that do not fulfill, nor satisfy. This becomes a cycle in her life—history repeating itself.

As I continued to write Leanna’s story, I found myself identifying with her more. She and I both had a problem of letting the wrong history in our lives repeat.

How do we solve this problem?

Huff. Sigh. Groan.

And then it hit me. Wisdom. Wisdom only from God. He has to teach us the way, show us what needs to change in our lives, and create the change in us.

Isaiah 1:17 tells us to learn to do what is right.

How do we learn? By reading what God has to say in the Bible, and doing what it says. Eventually, the history repeating in our lives will be the right kind, the kind that lead to life, peace, and joy.

It seems Leanna and I have had to endure many self-repeating history mistakes, but it also seems like she and I at least now know how to get out of that cycle.

Let’s pray that we all will allow God to teach us the way, and the right kind of history to repeat.

Thank you for those words, Hannah. And for being here. Let me snag you for a few questions.

First, what motivated you to start writing novels?

This deep, deep desire; like, if I didn’t write, I would explode! Truly, I’ve enjoyed creating stories from a very young age, I simply needed to live a little before putting anything permanent down.

What a neat thought on that “live a little before putting anything permanent down”. I like that.

What author would you most like to meet?

Just one? I’d have to say Tosca Lee. Her stories pull me in, keep my up way past my bedtime, and leave me salivating for the next novel. Fan-girling a bit over here!

I know what you mean. I have a couple of those authors on my list 🙂

Where do you see yourself with your writing 5 years from now?

You know, I have a few goals regarding my writing career. I plan to write one book and one novella each year. Within five years I plan to write full-time for a living—say goodbye to the classroom, and increase my speaking platform. Lofty? No way.

I say that’s totally a manageable goal. And I believe in you!

Up in Smoke

Life heats up for Leanna Wilson when an accident claims her parent’s lives. Her dreams of a high profile law career are reduced to rubble when she returns home to assume custody of her sister, Brie. Without the financial means to take legal custody of her sister—or a binding will to place her safely in her arms—Leanna’s future becomes more uncertain than ever. Already prepared for a blazing custody battle, with less than capable relatives, Leanna’s world is set ablaze when her ex-fiancé complicates matters in an attempt to destroy her future and her faith.

US Army, SSG Garrison Burke has spent the last few years alone—balancing flag and fatherhood since the tragic death of his wife. Facing deployment, Garrison is desperate to find a safe caretaker for his son, Ezra—preferably anywhere but the abusive home he grew up in. So, when Leanna Wilson walks unexpectedly back into his life, he’s not sure if she’s a blessing or a curse. More importantly, Garrison cannot seem to forget how he betrayed Leanna many years ago. Yet, as Leanna and Garrison begin to run out of time, they start to see that the solution to their problems might lie within each other, but will they forget the past and allow their broken hearts to mend? As sparks begin to fly and their love is rekindled, a marriage of convenience will either make their wildest dreams come true or cause their best-laid plans to go up in smoke.

Buy Link

Amazon

More about Hannah

Hannah Conway is a military wife, mother of two, middle school teacher, and speaker. Her novels are a deployment experience of their own, threaded with faith, and filled with twists and turns sure to thrill, and encourage. Hannah is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and My book Therapy. She and her family live near Nashville, Tennessee.

Connect with Hannah & her books

www.hannahrconway.com

Giveaway

I (Sara) am so excited to tell you about this giveaway. She is offering one (1) ebook copy of her newest release Up in Smoke. Hannah’s book has been well received and well reviewed (including by yours truly). You can earn entries through the Rafflecopter below. Just follow the instructions!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

AUTISM: The Diagnosis

***When our son, Andrew, was first diagnosed, we started a blog (that we didn’t keep up with very well) called “Andrew’s Journey”. This is the first entry in that blog (edited for this post’s purposes).***

Andrew at 2

It seems like a lifetime ago that our pediatrician said to us that there was a possibility our sweet 2 year old, Andrew, might be autistic. It seemed unreal and I didn’t want to believe it was possible, so I just didn’t. But we agreed to have him tested to ease our doctor’s mind. What was the harm?

The first evaluation was with the Tennessee Early Intervention Services (TEIS). They nailed down his developmental delay and speech delay, but didn’t see anything that pointed to autism. We’re golden. (Sigh of relief.)

A couple of months later, received an unexpected call from the Vanderbilt Children’s Development Center. Apparently, Andrew was on their wait list to be tested by their psychologist. Okay, so this is the autism evaluation. Hold breath again. After solving a little hiccup with insurance (aren’t those fun?), we prepared ourselves for the 4 hour evaluation.

The test itself was pretty comprehensive. They asked me a LOT of questions and played with Andrew in both structured and freeform activities. There was no doubt in my mind they would confirm TEIS’s findings of some developmental delays and a speech delay.

I miss that ignorance.

After all was said and done, the diagnosis was “Autism Spectrum Disorder”.  No one was more shocked than I.  I mean, I knew he had some challenges, but nothing I had read in my (admittedly limited) research on signs of autism seemed to fit my little Andrew.

So right there, in front of the evaluating team members, I started to cry. And cry and cry and cry. I didn’t stop crying for an hour. I cried when I told my husband on the phone while Andrew and I made our way home. I cried when I told my parents. I cried as I looked at my sweet boy in the back seat who had, in my opinion, been given a life sentence.

Over the next few days, my husband and I grieved. We grieved the life we had hoped for Andrew and the inability to use the word “perfect” in the same sentence with “Andrew”. And I was angry with God and the choice He had made for my son. So angry that, even a week and a half later, I couldn’t bring myself to pray.

In the next week, Greg and I dove into the information Vanderbilt had provided us (they sent me home with a packet). And, the more we read, the more overwhelmed we became. There seemed to be two questions pop up for every one answered. But neither of us wanted to trust the internet.

I knew Andrew was (and is) the same boy he was before the diagnosis, that we now simply have a name for what he’s struggling with. It just takes a little while for that realization to travel from my head to my heart. And my husband and I have both struggled with the inability to call him “our perfect little boy” anymore.

Once I was able to get my head above water, I started sharing with my closest friends. The amount of love, support, and sympathy we received was so touching. One of my dear, sweet friends and sisters in Christ shared a truth with me that has really been a turning point for me in my own journey to process the diagnosis. After she extended her sympathies and assured me we were in her thoughts and prayers, she then said, “Praise Jesus that Andrew was fearfully and wonderfully made. And while this diagnosis is a shock to you all, it is not a shock to the One Who formed him in your womb.”

At first I thought it was odd that we should praise Him at all, but my heart softened to this truth and I began to see light in the midst of my grief. Andrew is fearfully and wonderfully made. God promises this. God formed him in my womb. And for whatever reason, this was always His plan for us and for Andrew. The truth is that He will lead us and equip us on this uncertain road with all of it’s ups and downs, twists and turns. Even more than that, I can begin to say that Andrew is perfect…because God made him and he is a miracle.

***

The blog article went on to share our intentions for the blog.

But, I want to share with each of you that this road has been hard, it’s been sweet, it’s been trying…it’s been everything it promised to be and more. And Andrew is just 6! But the victories have been tear jerkers. The first time he spontaneously said, “Mommy, I love you”, I had to bite my lip to keep from bawling in front of him. And those months when he would self-harm were heart wrenching as you can imagine.

No, it’s not easy. It’s not fun. But it is his journey. Our journey.

INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Tracy Popolizio

Hello all, and welcome to another Friday post! I have a great author to introduce you to. This is another Historical Fiction author friend I have met through the ACFW Historical Fiction Facebook Group. As you well know, I cannot say enough good things about ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). If this is your first time on my page (first: Hey! Welcome! Glad you’re here!), check out this post to learn more about ACFW (it is another author interview, but I share a bit about ACFW and some of the perks).

Author Tracy Popolizio is here today to share her book, The Longest New York Minute via interview and in a giveaway (details below). It is an interesting title, don’t you think? And it has an even more interesting thought behind it. Before I spoil the interview, let me just step out of the way and let you find out for yourself.

Welcome to my blog! Thanks for visiting today. First, Tracy, can you tell us a little about your novel?

A thirteen-year old girl, Jessica Bianchi, lives with her Christian family in an apartment in New York City. Her biggest problem is that her father doesn’t seem to understand her anymore. Life continues but then Tuesday, September 11, 2001, happens. The safe, secure world Jessica knows crumbles right in front of her eyes. The Twin Towers are attacked, her father is missing, and her mother is in another state. Jessica’s faith is tested in ways that didn’t seem possible. In The Longest New York Minute, I wanted to recap the events of the day from the perspective of a young girl.

Wow. What a hard day of events to take on. What was the inspiration for The Longest New York Minute? Was there something that made this story worth it?

My daughter was in 4th grade and came home from school interested to know more about 9/11. When I couldn’t find anything age-appropriate for her to read, I decided to write a story for both my children so they could have an idea of what happened.

I commend you. That is no easy task. Especially with such a heavy subject. But we do need to make such important parts of our collective story accessible to our children as it is appropriate.

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

No, I wanted to be a teacher. I used to write poetry and a few short pieces of work, but it was never something on my bucket list.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Probably only after I finished The Longest New York Minute did I realize I wanted to do more.

Interesting. You made it through a whole book…and one that must have had its challenges before you got bit by the writing bug (so they say). But, as you surely know, it’s not all roses and sunshine. There are parts of this whole gig that’s not for the faint of heart. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Always the editing. It’s always been a very difficult thing for me, even in high school. Now I think I dread it because it reveals the area I struggle most-forming the words in the most meaningful, effective way to reach the reader.

You are not alone 🙂 The longer I interview authors, the more I get this response.

I think it’s important for writers to always be learning…and there’s a lot we can learn from each other. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Honestly the best advice I keep telling myself too is to give the entire piece of work to God. Let Him guide you through every step of the way.

I like that. A little while ago, I did an exercise in which I sought out a common core element in my novels. I won’t spoil everyone’s reading experience and give it away…but faith was at the very core. His guidance and purpose for me is very central. I couldn’t do it without Him. No doubt.

Just as we learn from each other, I think so much of what we know at the start is what we have intuitively picked up from reading. And continue to. So, I always ask: what are you currently reading?

Letters From Rifka, by Karen Hesse. I’ve been reading books that relate to the book I just finished to help me with wording, details, etc. This book follows a young Russian Jewish immigrant to America.

I totally set up a writing atmosphere. It just helps me focus better. What about you? Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

I seem to write the most at night just because it’s when I have the most time. When I can, I love to do my writing in the morning or later at night when everyone is asleep. My favorite place is probably the new office my husband made for me, sitting at my big desk that used to be my grandma’s with my cup of tea.

I can just picture it! Makes me what to tap away at the keyboard 🙂

Tracy, I gotta ask…can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

A young Jewish Christian boy helps Jessica find strength in God.

Intriguing… One last question and I’ll let you go. Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

YES! I am so excited, I just finished the first edits of my second manuscript. I’ve been working on it for about a year and a half and I am so thrilled that it’s nearly finished. The story takes place in Nazi Germany and is based on real life events of a young girl. This is a very special project because I was personally asked by the woman’s husband to write a story about her. It’s fictional, but after meeting with her a few times I incorporated events that she remembered from her childhood into the story.

Great. Now I’m totally intrigued and I have to wait (not my strong suit) 🙂 Love, love, love historicals over here.

At any rate, thank you so much, Tracy, for joining me today and for sharing about your book and giving us some insight into your process and yourself. I can’t wait to introduce my readers to more info on the book and give them details on the GIVEAWAY!! (Details below.) So, without further ado, let’s jump right in:

The Longest New York Minute

“I’m so excited to see a book that is encouraging and edifying for youth. This is a must read! A great read really for any age! The characters draw you right in. This book is also historically accurate and you get a real feel for what it was like to be in NYC during 911.” ~ 5 star Amazon Review

Enjoy an Excerpt

She held her breath as a second airplane made its way into the picture and, just as they predicted, collided with the second tower. As much as Jessica wanted to look away, she couldn’t…Every student in the room was speechless. The teachers had composed themselves long enough to try to help the students. From the weight of the silence in the room, it seemed like a ton of bricks was hanging over everyone. Then slowly, a little at a time, students and adults began to sob together. First the younger ones, then slowly it spread across the entire room. Slowly, Jessica felt suffocated by a fear she had never felt before as the realization hit her like a cold bucket of water. Her father! Her dad! All her anger and resentment took a backseat as new emotions swept over her. Was he inside the restaurant eating breakfast? Where was he? New Jersey?

Buy Link

Amazon

 

More About the Author

Tracy Popolizio works with young children as a preschool teacher. While she has written pieces of poetry and short stories in the past, she is looking forward to using her writing as an avenue to draw young people closer to the Lord. She likes reading historical fiction and inspirational books that challenge her to soar even higher. In her free time, Tracy enjoys camping, running and taking walks with her husky, and spending time with her family. Tracy lives in Connecticut with her husband and two children and is blessed to be close to their extended family, enabling them to enjoy time together.

Connect with Tracy

Website: http://www.tracypopbooks.com/

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/TheLongestNewYorkMinute/

Blog: www.whatareyouthinking247.blog

GIVEAWAY!!!

Tracy is offering a paperback copy of her book, The Longest New York Minute, to one winner, within the continental United States, who will be chosen by the Rafflecopter below. Please follow the instructions on the Rafflecopter. Entries will be accepted today through Thursday, January 11, 2018 at 11:59 pm.

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INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Kadee Carder

Welcome to a different kind of Wednesday! First of all, it’s my birthday. Happy birthday to me! Secondly, we have a returning guest. I know what you are thinking…it’s Wednesday, not Friday…guest authors are on Friday. Well, this is a special guest and I made an exception. My friend who I have never met in person, author Kadee Carder, has added a new book to her repertoire. And I just had to introduce you to it.

Some of you may remember Kadee from her Insurrection Trilogy. I met Kadee through our common publisher, Clean Reads. Kadee stands out because of how she truly inspires other authors and helps everyone along on their journeys. Not only their writing journeys, but where they are in life. That is a special quality and I admire her for it. But, let’s jump right in and get to her book!

Hey, Kadee! Thanks for being on my blog today. I’m excited to hear about your newest release. What was the inspiration for Here Be Dragons?

My preacher introduced the idea that people who do not know God are simply prisoners of war. What better way to free prisoners than by love? What better way to fight darkness than with light? Do we work on earth to accomplish material things or do we share encouragement, love, inspiration, and good works in the name of someone much greater than ourselves? Do we humbly help and teach? We humans aren’t just here on this planet to make money or fill time. We are here for life, and a life full. God put each of us here, doing good work he created long ago for us to do. We don’t do any of it for our glory or success, but to free the prisoners of war.

For those who are meeting you for the first time, tell us…did you always want to be a writer? If not, what did you want to be when you were a child?

I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a child. I dreamed of walking in the big, puffy white suit and dancing on the moon. Now I guess my sci fi novels are the best way for me to get there!

What suggestions do you have to help me become a better writer?

To become better at anything, two words a wise woman once told me: Persistence. Consistency.

Write every day, and teach others to write. Make a list of words you misuse or overuse, and in editing, yank those suckers out of there, especially passive voice (is, was) and unnecessary words like “that” and “there.”

That is the truth! Good words. We are always learning from each other. Speaking of…as you know, we learn directly and indirectly (through reading others’ works). What are you currently reading?

I’m currently reading Royally Entitled by Melody Delgado.

Another Clean Reads author…and in my genre! I think you will find it a delightful read.

I always set a mood when I write… What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I adore 90’s punk rock like Angels and Airwaves, Blink 182, Green Day, Skillet, and epic music like Imagine Dragons. If it’s a good workout song, I probably dig it, especially for my battle scenes.

Neat. I wouldn’t have imagined any different 🙂 Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

I love the night. While the stars shimmer, they whisper songs of hope and freedom. And secrets. My favorite writing process includes taking a nice, slow walk at dusk as the stars begin to fall, and then sit down in my media room at my desk and tap, tap, tap into the night. It’s a fabulous evening when I can process the gravel of the road, the crunch of shoes upon pavement, and the whispering of life through the trees’ dancing.

Wow. How inspiring! How long does it take you to write a book?

Every book works differently! Insurrection began as my thesis for my Master of Fine Arts degree and I wrote the first draft in a month. Then in editing I chunked the first 30,000 words and added way too many in about two more months. Incomplete took approximately three months, and Indelible approximately four or five. Here Be Dragons I worked on for about four or five months.

My most recent manuscript took seven because I’ve been teaching more consistently, researching, and learning about mindset shifts. In his memoir On Writing, Stephen King wrote a manuscript shouldn’t take more than three months or the characters/plot get convoluted. I have to agree that the seven-month journey with this last novel was too long and I had several edits to help navigate some inconsistencies I discovered, but again, every novel has its own life and discovery. I needed to learn certain lessons before I could write the book, and time is one of the best teachers of all.

I love how you call it a journey. It truly is. You take a journey with your characters. Sometimes you map the path they take, sometimes they go “off trail” with you.

I have to ask…could you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

While researching Australia and all of its beautiful locations, I walked the streets of Perth in Google Earth. Off the coast of Perth lies an island named Rottnest Island. It’s home to a cute lighthouse, several hotels and camp grounds, and beautiful beaches. I decided my characters just HAD to spend some time there facing their monsters. I mean, if you’ve got to train for your life, shouldn’t you get to do it in an exotic locale with fabulous sunsets?

I can so picture it! One last question before I let you go: Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I recently submitted a finale for my Alliance Military Guard characters to my publisher and I’m hoping to get a contract for it. I’ve done a lot of mindset work recently, on dealing with rejection and facing your fears. What does a hero do when she’s faced her fears…and they killed her? All people contend with a cup of wrath, a yoke, and a cross to bear. You must believe in yourself, your Alliance, and consider challenge an opportunity for growth. These ideas are what I’ve put into the fifth and final book with my Alliance characters.

Sounds like a great way to tie up a series. Thank you, Kadee, for joining me again on the blog and for your time. Now it’s time to turn our attention to Here Be Dragons and give the readers a little taste:

Here Be Dragons

 

Alliance Military Guard sent the order. Sergeant Tucker Thompson acquiesced. Hopping on a plane to his long-lost Australian birthplace, he’s been charged with his toughest mission yet. Thompson must rally his company of soldiers to prevent a new generation of weaponry from breaching the world’s borders.

Pound the war drums. Rattle the cages. Here be Dragons.

Enjoy an Excerpt

Creeping through the sultry space, footsteps steady and stealthy, we readied our weapons. Blood and fire pulsed through my veins like they’d done so many times in training. This was the game, after all. These Alliance builders loved their long hallways.

Our rustling stirred up dust underfoot, and cement beams overhead groaned in disuse.

“How many feet‘re we underground ya think?” Hawk asked from the back of the line.

“Don’t ask.”

Flashlights and head lamps illuminated the way before us, stark tile work on the ground cracked and chipped. With every few feet we advanced, the walls became more fractured and peeling, as if a wave of tremors had rippled outward from the explosions of the bombing. Like vines along the paint, crevices in the cement grew substantial and entangled. Cautious and wary, we proceeded.

After several minutes of quiet steps echoing along the corridor, someone’s beam of light caught a fleck of darkness upon the wall.

“What’s that?” Norita asked.

Burkman shined his light to the scrawled paint upon the wall. The black paint dripped the warning: Beware.

Buy Link

Purchase here be dragons on kindle unlimited for only $4.99:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0787PKJJF/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1513231085&sr=8-1&keywords=kadee+carder+here+be+dragons

More About the Author

Fierce yet sparkly, I help seekers find brave new worlds. The goal is magic, the medium is ink, and the fuel is coffee. And sometimes pizza. I teach English on the university level when I’m not dancing around the living room with my family, lifting heavy at the gym, traveling the planet, or binging superhero shows.

The INSURRECTION trilogy, Here Be Dragons, and non-fiction inspirational Ignite roll out perilous motives, twisty plots, and daring protagonists. Grab some real estate and your copy of my latest adventure, and follow along at KadeeCarder.com.

Connect with Kadee and Her Books

Visit http://www.kadeecarder.com for inspiration, radio interviews, gift certificates, freebie codes, and more!

Website: kadeecarder.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kadeecarderink/

Instagram: kadeecarderink

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCAkYQcShpWHBua-7VVi9Swg

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/kadeecarder/

Twitter: @kadeecarderink

And please feel free to subscribe for encouraging blogs! Kadeecarder.com

I’m giving away a free, empowering e-book to those who subscribe to my email list at kadeecarder.com. Titled IGNITE, the 60-page book offers a serving of inspiration, a dash of hope, and a cup of grace to help you get kickin’ on those challenging tasks you’ve got to do!

GIVEAWAY

A free copy of the Alliance Military Guard Training Guide containing 10 workouts! With over ten years of experience specializing in metabolic conditioning, and as the official trainer of the Alliance Military Guard, Fit By Faith© owner Krista Johnson has created ten workouts to get you in gear and ready to crush life. Utilizing a variety of whole-body strengthening techniques, your FREE WORKOUTS will be just what you need to start your new year off the right way. Each of the ten workouts can be completed at home or in a gym, and takes approximately thirty minutes or less.

For a chance to win this fabulous prize, follow the Rafflecopter instructions below:

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