writing

SPOTLIGHT & INTERVIEW: Author Sara L. Foust

Welcome to another Friday and another author on my blog! This week I have another special friend for you to meet. Although, this author friend is one I have met, face to face! Author Sara L. Foust and I met at a Writers Retreat that the writing ministry I help lead, Clarksville Christian Writers, hosted a few years ago. Sara was an absolute delight and I am all too eager to introduce you to her and her books…

Welcome to my blog, Sara! I’m so happy to have you visit. First things first…can you tell us a little about your novel?

On the surface, SIMON FINCUFF and FERN STRONGBOW have nothing in common. Simon has served his sentence, but his past conviction still haunts him. Fern is a veterinarian and grew up on an off-the-grid homestead. The one thing they share? Each has a dark secret they would do almost anything to protect.

When their current careers are yanked away, they are left scrambling to pick up the pieces. A reality television show falls into their paths, offering a life-changing opportunity that tests their resolve and their faith.

These two unlikely partners must battle to survive for thirty days in the untouched wilderness of Rarity Mountain with only a handful of survival items and a director who is out for drama, no matter the cost. With their lives and their carefully guarded skeletons on the line, they will discover how far they are willing to go to win the million-dollar prize for Survival Tennessee.

Ooohhh….sounds interesting. I love settings I’m familiar with. Being a Tennessee girl myself (as you know), I’m intrigued!

What was the inspiration for Rarity Mountain?

I enjoy watching survival shows and, after much prayer, God gave me the idea for Rarity Mountain. I’ve also thought East Tennessee is so wild in places, it would make a great location for a reality show, so why not write one?

East Tennessee is wild. And is ripe as an amazing setting for such a book. Love it! I love all the places inspiration can come from for writers.

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

I have always wanted to be a writer. I’ve also wanted to be a veterinarian, a horse boarding stable owner, a National Geographic photographer, and a mom.

I wanted to be a veterinarian for a short while. Quickly dismissed it. I know they love, care for, and help animals in pain, but I didn’t think I could mange the regularity of seeing animals in pain. Though I know that’s not what it’s really about…just a 7 year old girl’s tender heart…

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

Second grade.

Nice! And I’m sure, like most other writers, there are parts of the journey you like and parts you are not such a fan of. Is there a part of the writing process you dread?

I love writing. I love editing for other people. I do not love editing for myself. Once I write the story, I want to move on but I can’t and I have to go back so many times for thorough editing. Ugh!

I hear you! Once I’ve been through the story for the umpteenth time, I am soooo done! Soooo tedious!

What are you currently reading?

I am in between fiction books right now and reading a couple different self-help, psyche-understanding nonfiction books.

Interesting. I, too, try to keep my fiction and non-fiction running at the same time. I’m sure you find the same struggle I do…house and kiddos and ministry means the time left a balancing act between writing and reading. So difficult!

What about your writing process? What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I don’t listen to music when I write. Usually, I listen to whatever chaos is happening with my kiddos ha!

I’ve got plenty over here if you run out! Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

I tend to grab writing time whenever it is available, and I love writing outside. I think better with fresh air, sunshine, and birds chirping.

Sounds wonderful! I’m so glad it’s warming up. My deck is calling to me!

I get this question a lot…people seem very interested in writers’ processes and their productivity. So, about how long does it take you to write a book?

It takes me about 6 months to write a full-length book and then another 1-2 to edit.

Last question, I promise, then I’ll let my readers dig into Rarity Mountain! Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share? 

I am writing a book called, Jade Owl.  It is the first book in the Serafina Jones Chronicles and tells the story of a self-conscious archaeologist looking for pirate treasure somewhere in the Smoky Mountains.

Another book series based in this region. I love it!

Sara, thanks so much for being on the blog and taking the time to share about your writing and giving us a peek atRarity Mountain. So, without further ado, I’ll let you all (readers) jump right in:

Rarity Mountain

Excerpt

Dr. Fern Strongbow settled into a folding chair across the desk from Dr. Sylvia Greenlee. Fern popped a flower into her mouth and smiled as her friend and mentor grimaced. “Dandelion?”

Sylvia shook her head. “You eat some strange things, Fern.”

“They’re delicious.” Fern ate another yellow top and smiled. “What’s on the agenda for our weekly session?”

A dog whined in the next room, drawing Fern’s gaze to the office door. No doubt Max was having trouble awakening from his dental surgery. Pentothal did some strange things to their patients in recovery.

“I’m sure Kaylee can handle that.”

She was probably right. But what if Kaylee was otherwise occupied? Fern leaned back into the cold metal and sighed. “I miss the old chairs.”

“Well, they were worth $50 at the farmer’s market. Paid the water bill last month.”

Max whined again.

Fern’s gaze once again darted to the closed door. “You sure Kaylee isn’t busy with something else?”

“Max will be fine. We need to talk.”

Sylvia’s gaze landed on the wall behind Fern’s head instead of greeting her head on in that penetrating, straightforward way Fern had come to appreciate long ago. Strange. Did she have more news about the clinic? Fern’s pulse skipped.

“As you know, things have been tight around here. But I haven’t been completely honest with you about how bad things are.”

Fern’s stomach flip-flopped. Her chewing mouth stopped. “Oh?”

“I know I promised you partnership in another nineteen months, but we aren’t going to make it that long.”

Wait. What? Her pulse swished in her ears, thumping like the poor dog’s tail against his crate-prison in the next room. “What are you saying?”

“As of today, I’m seeking a buyer for the clinic. I’m sorry.”

Words ping-ponged around in Fern’s mind, but none of them found her mouth. She swallowed the bitter flower.

“You’ll be fine, Fern. You’re a survivor.”

Her neck stiffened. “Survivalist. There’s a difference. We’ve discussed it a million times.”

“I mean it. You are a survivalist, but you’re also a survivor.”

No, she wasn’t. She was a mess inside. Barely keeping it together so no one noticed. Where would she go now, with her dreams of part ownership in Knox Highway Veterinary Clinic dashed? Her safety net yanked away, feet dangling over open space, a chasm of uncertainty yawning below. How could she remain in control when everything was being turned upside down?

####

Simon Fincuff returned his attention to the strips of flooring. Not a hard floor to lay, but one that required his best work considering the customer. Arnie reminded him of that every morning when they arrived.

Mrs. Golden’s nasal squeak sounded from the other room. Growing louder with each word.

Upset again. Why didn’t that surprise him? Was it his imagination or did he hear her spit out his name?

Arnie’s muffled argument ended with the slam of a door.

Simon glanced up as Arnie entered the room, reading the words on his boss’s face before they formed on his lips.

Arnie shook his head. “I’m sorry, man.”

“Not your fault.”

“It’s different this time.”

Simon’s motions froze. The next words coming, the sentence forming in Arnie’s mind would change everything, wouldn’t it? Again.

“I’ve got to let you go, Simon. She insisted. I’m sorry.”

Heat burned Simon’s cheeks. “Not your fault.”

“She did a background check of her own, you know. I didn’t tell her.”

“I know.”

“If I have another job I’ll call you.”

Yeah, that’s what they all said. Once he’d been let go, he never got that follow-up call.

Simon gently gathered his tools and tucked them into his canvas bag. He didn’t say goodbye to Arnie or the job site. No one would miss him after a few days passed. Why couldn’t people see past his past? Yes, it was dark but there was light underneath. One he wanted to shine brighter than the penned ink of failure.

Another job lost. Another uncertainty looming. What was he supposed to do now?

####

“Come in, Betty.” Gregory Vanderbilt, III, laid down his pen and took the chewed lid from his mouth. “Don’t hover.”

“Sorry, sir. I didn’t want to interrupt.”

“We do this every day. What exactly did you think you were interrupting?”

“I don’t know, sir. Sorry.”

Gregory held out his hand. “List.”

Betty’s hands shook as she gave him the clipboard.

She wouldn’t last another week. He’d bet money on it. “This is all of them?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Buy. Pass. Buy. Buy. Pass.”

“Sorry, which ones?”

“Good gravy.” He picked up the pen and scribbled in the margins. Buy veterinary clinic. Pass putt-putt course. Buy television station. A good buy, that one. Buy the gas station. With an overhaul of its front appearance, it should be profitable. Pass on the bank. He owned enough banks already. Well, his dad did anyway.

Gregory thrust the clipboard into Betty’s hands and waved her out.

The Knoxville Sunsphere’s copper sides glittered under the gaze of a late summer’s sunset. Would Pops be satisfied with his purchases today? How would he react if he wasn’t?

Buy Links

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More About the Author

Sara is a multi-published, award-winning author and homeschooling mother of five who writes surrounded by the beauty of East Tennessee. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Animal Science from the University of Tennessee and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She is the author of the Love, Hope, and Faith Series, which includes Callum’s Compass (2017), Camp Hope (2018), and Rarity Mountain (March 2019).  She also has a story, “Leap of Faith,” in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Step Outside Your Comfort Zone and a novella, Of Walls (November 2018).

Sara finds inspiration in her faith, her family, and the beauty of nature. When she isn’t writing, you can find her reading, camping, and spending time outdoors with her family. To learn more about her and her work or to become a part of her email friend’s group, please visit www.saralfoust.com

Connect with Sara and her books

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SPOTLIGHT & GIVEAWAY: Author Catherine Brakefield

I have such a treat for you today! Author Catherine Brakefield is back on the blog sharing about her Destiny Series. And there is some fabulous bits of history in these books. I am soooo in love! But I won’t bore you with my thoughts…I’ll get you to Catherine as fast as possible!

Catherine Brakefield’s Destiny Series

Sara, it is a true pleasure to be back on your blog with you and talking about the third book in the Destiny series, Destiny of Heart. I was on last year talking about Destiny’s Whirlwind and really enjoyed myself!

Before I begin, I’d like to refresh you and your reader’s memory about the series:

Swept into Destiny, book 1, begins in 1857. Maggie Gatlan may be a Southern belle on the outside, but inside she’s a rebel. She meets the handsome, strong Irish immigrant Ben McConnell. Ben is enchanted by Maggie’s beauty and fiery spirit, but for him the South she dearly loves represents the injustice and deprivation he left behind in Ireland. As the country divides and Ben joins the Union, Maggie and Ben are forced to call each other enemies.

Destiny’s Whirlwind, book two, begins in 1898. Smallpox and the townspeople’s fears capture the McConnell family into its evil clutches. Collina promises her dying father that his legacy for Shushan will continue. Dashing Rough Rider Franklin Long offers his help and suddenly Collina’s heart has a will of its own. War calls him to the shores of Cuba. Collina is flung into a tangled web of deception and greed when a vindictive lawyer places the family in peril. Will Franklin return in time?

Tell us a little about your novel, Destiny of Heart?

Book three opens in 1917 and Ruby McConnell (Collina’s sister) is married to Stephen Meir. The story unfolds as they travel to the prairies of Colorado for Stephen’s health. Ruby’s sister Collina and Franklin Long are also in this story. Destiny of Heart covers a large span of history and three states: Colorado, Kentucky, and Michigan. The reader will experience the patriotic fan-waving that plunged America into World War I, as well as the extravagant lifestyles of the Roaring Twenties, and the grand old sport of fox hunting. 





Readers will experience those affluent lifestyles evaporating in a blink of an eye and Maggie, Ruby, Collina, and Franklin’s spirals into the Great Depression. Destiny of Heart concludes in 1933 after Theodore Roosevelt’s inauguration into the presidency and a life-altering decision must be made.  

Thank you for that wonderful synopsis! I am all the more eager to hear more! First, can you share the more historically significant events behind your story?

I’d love to! I could not rely solely on the internet for my research, nor modern-day history books or Hollywood movies. When I tried, I felt out of step with the story. I had one foot in modern pop culture and one foot in a watered-down version of the past. I sought out people who had lived the era and interviewed them.

WWI – troops marching toward the Battle of Somme

I learned that the typical American did not cherish the modern conveniences of their day. Their family, however, was a vital part of their existence. Wow! I realized that people of this century were polar opposites of their ancestors who did not carry a phone in their pockets or check the latest news, weather, and style.

Our children are brought up to believe they are ‘the enlightened generation,’ but I want my readers to experience a feeling of entering a time capsule. I decided not to watch any show or read any books dated from the 1960s forward.

History books published before 1959 gave me insight, as did old newspaper clippings and interviews. From the 1800s up through the 1940s scripture verses were a common part of everyday language. Some of you might recall seeing a Bible where your ancestors recorded their marriages, births, baptisms, and deaths within the reverend folds of their Holy Bible.

Wow! I so appreciate your dedication to your research!

What was the inspiration for your Destiny series?

My grandmother’s stories and my father’s memoirs are a major part of the Destiny series. My siblings and I would ask Dad, “What was it like back then?” So he wrote about the good ol’ days. We sure learned those days weren’t always so good. You will learn more about that in book 4, Waltz into Destiny, which releases on D Day, June 6.

I think what Harry S. Truman one said sort of sums this up: “There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know.”

Much that our young people are learning today about our America is a watered-down version of the truth. Much of our classic literature that I grew up reading are now being banned or edited. I feel this is wrong. I have heard the age-old jargon that history can repeat itself. So how can our young people know what not to do if they don’t know the truth about our American history? Hence, my reason for writing the Destiny series.

Enjoy an Excerpt

President Wilson’s words blared out. “The right is more precious than peace, and we shall fight for the things which we have carried nearest our hearts.

“Come on.” Stephen took her hand and they rushed down the stairway. Bus boys arrayed in flashing red and gold braided suits greeted her. Crystal chandeliers twinkled gaily about the lavishly decorated lobby of the hotel, accenting the deep red and gold drapes and rich mahogany furniture in the lobby.

The doorman opened the outside doors of the Grand Hotel; a gust of cold air greeted them. Snow lined the newly shoveled walkways. The horses’ neighs and the tinkling of sabers clashing against the soldiers’ stirrup irons mingled with the cheers of the crowd.

A regiment of the cavalrymen rode before them, the insignia of the crossed swords displayed on their sleeves and cavalry blankets. “How dashing.” Ruby squealed with delight. “I can envision that gallant Rough Rider Franklin Long there among them.”

“Far better it is to dare mighty things…even though checkered by failure,” Stephen said, quoting Theodore Roosevelt. “The United States became a world power because of the Rough Riders when America defeated Spain in 1898.”

The horses nodded their fine heads, and their flowing manes caught the sunlight and glistening snow, as they pranced forward as proudly as the foot soldiers in the snow that last evening and this morning.

Stephen laughed. “I seriously doubt we have seen the last of Franklin Long.” He drew her hand to his lips and kissed it. “Shall we purchase our tickets for tomorrow’s train to Colorado?”

“No, you mustn’t,” the woman’s voice vibrated with emotion. She dotted her eyes. Her embroidered handkerchief was moist. “The porter said the railroad crew just tunneled through a large drift.”

Stephen nodded. “He told me that Amarillo’s never seen a storm of this magnitude.”

The woman dabbed at her eyes again. “True. This morning I overheard one of the workers on the railroad crew tell the engineer that they hadn’t been able to clear all the track… He said the passenger car could become a steel death trap for those foolish enough to ride the iron horse tomorrow.”

More About the Author

I am an award-winning author of the inspirational historical romance Wilted Dandelions. My faith-based Destiny series includes Swept into Destiny, Destiny’s Whirlwind, Destiny of Heart, and Waltz into Destiny, which releases June 6.

I have written two pictorial history books. Images of America: The Lapeer Area, and Images of America: Eastern Lapeer County

My short stories have been published in Guidepost Books True Stories of Extraordinary Answers to Prayer, Unexpected Answers and Desires of Your Heart; Baker Books, Revell, The Dog Next Door, Horse of my Heart, Second-Chance Dogs, The Horse of my Dreams (releases on September 17);CrossRiver Media Publishers, The Benefit Package and Abba’s Promise; Bethany House Publishers, Jesus Talked to Me Today.

I am a longtime Michigan resident and live with my husband of 45 years and our Arabian horses in the picturesque hills of Addison Township. I love traveling the byroads across America and spoiling my two handsome grandsons and two beautiful granddaughters!

Connect with Catherine and Her Books

https://www.catherineulrichbrakefield.com/

Blog: Hopes, Hearts, & Hoofbeats: https://catherineulrichbrakefield.wordpress.com/

Twitter: : https://twitter.com/CUBrakefield

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

https://www.linkedin.com/in/catherine-brakefield-4710b315/detail/recent-activity/shares/

https://www.amazon.com/Catherine-Ulrich-Brakefield/e/B001H6UI8U/ref=dbs_p_ebk_rwt_abau

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3387463.Catherine_Ulrich_Brakefield

https://www.instagram.com/catherineulrichbrakefield/

GIVEAWAY

Catherine is offering a giveaway! A copy of Destiny of Heart or whichever novel the winner chooses in the Destiny series. Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below to enter:

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writing

INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Wendy May Andrews

Hello, readers! Author Wendy May Andrews is back on my blog today with a new clean Historical Romance. And the cover is oh so good! I won’t delay you any longer. Let’s get right to Wendy!

Hey, Wendy! Thanks for rejoining us on the blog. It’s good to have you back. I’m sure I’m not the only one eager to learn more about this new novel. So, what was the inspiration for The Debutante Bride?

This story explores the rollercoaster of emotions that could ensue if an arranged marriage starts off on the wrong foot. I’m always fascinated by the possibilities when a couple is forced together by circumstances. It wasn’t so uncommon throughout history. But what if there are too many factors tearing them apart? In this story, I wanted to explore how love could conquer the external and internal pressures society and we ourselves put upon relationships, but in the complicated context of the Regency era.

Interesting. I do love reading in the Regency Era, but have never tried to write in that time period. Just hasn’t spoken to me…or maybe it just intimidates me 🙂

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

I did go through a phase as a child when I wanted to be a writer but I thought it was too fantastical of an idea. Then I wanted to be a vet until I realized how allergic I am to cats. Then I didn’t really know what I wanted to do except that I knew I wanted to work in an office in a brand new building in my home town – it was so big and shiny. I took a couple side trips as an executive assistant and an insurance broker before returning to my first love – the written word.

I know…once you get bitten by the writing bug….as they say…

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

After I wrote my first book 🙂 I wrote my first book more as fulfilling a dare from my husband. I never really considered that it could be a serious pursuit. Then I fell in love with writing and the rest is history.

I hear ya! But as much as we love it, I know there are those things we don’t love as much. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Editing is my least favorite. By the time I’ve gone through the manuscript 35 times I’m ready to throw it across the room. But the discovery of first draft writing is the joy that keeps me returning story after story.

Isn’t that the truth! So many times through the manuscript.

Just for curiosity’s sake…what are you currently reading?

A non-fiction book on marketing. There’s always something more to learn.

Sometimes I like to write in silence, but most often I get the right mood going…music and everything. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I don’t listen to music while I’m writing. I think it would be distracting. I find music to be very inspiring. But I don’t want to run after new ideas while I’m working on my current WIP.

I can understand that. What about your atmosphere? Do you have a favorite time of day to write? What about a favorite place?

Whenever the words are flowing is my favorite time of day 🙂 But I’m a morning person so first thing in the morning is usually my most productive time. I have my computer set up in one room, so that’s where most of my writing takes place. But I carry a notebook with me wherever I go so that I can jot down any notes that come to me when I’m not in front of my computer.

Readers are always curious about this next question: How long does it take you to write a book?

It really varies for me from book to book, depending on what else is happening with LIFE while I’m writing. So anywhere from two months to two years has been my experience. I have written the first draft of a full-length book in as short of time as two weeks. But then there are the edits…

My last question…Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I’m currently in edits for my second Proxy Brides story – A Bride for Ransom (set to release in April) and brainstorming for the third. It has been a fun multi-author project to be a part of.

Wendy, thanks so much for your time and for sharing about your process. I know I’ve got readers eager to see your cover (if they haven’t peeked already) and read more about it. So, I’ll turn them loose to dive in 🙂

The Debutante Bride

First comes marriage, then comes love.

Miss Elizabeth Dunseith grew up in genteel poverty, happy despite her abusive father and weak mother. The marriage her father has arranged for her seems shady, but despite her fears for her future, Beth is relieved to get away from home with her handsome, new husband.

Justin Fulton, Earl of Westfield, is puzzled by the contradictory behavior of his purchased bride. One moment she is haughty and cool, the next she is warm and endearing.

Their relationship is just starting to develop when Justin’s meddling sister throws them off course and an old friend of Beth’s complicates matters further.

Can their differences get sorted before it’s too late to claim their happily ever after?

Enjoy an Excerpt

As she came to wakefulness, Beth held herself very still, momentarily surprised to find herself in a strange bed, but then it all rushed back to her consciousness. She was a married lady. A countess at that. And she had only met her husband thirty-six hours before.

The thrill of freedom flowed through her as she reminded herself once more that she would never again have to return to the house she grew up in unless she so chose. Of course, she would want to see her mother again, but she allowed herself to bask in the contentment she was experiencing. She wiggled her toes and stretched her arms, revelling in the new sensation.

The unknown factor of her new husband was obviously of concern, but so far, he had been remarkably even tempered. She would even go so far as to describe him as kind, at least what she had seen of him in their short acquaintance. Beth could not decide how she felt about how handsome he was. He was deliciously attractive, but she was unsure if that could be trusted. No doubt other women would find it to be a point in his favour.

Feeling surprisingly rested from the long day of travel but reluctant to climb from the warm, comfortable bed, Beth allowed her mind to drift as she thought of the varied events she had experienced over the last day and a half. It had all started when she had spotted her father’s carriage bowling down the road, and it had felt like she was in a runaway carriage ever since.

She pondered her new circumstances and allowed her mind to drift. After several moments of quiet reflection, Beth felt very much awake and remarkably cheerful. She blinked languidly against the sunshine that was streaming into her room. The sound of chirping birds filled the air, causing her to smile slightly. It was rare for her to awaken to such peace, so for a moment, she simply lay there in wonder at the feeling of lightness she felt. Then she remembered that she was free of her father forever, and although she had always been told the devil you know is better than the one you don’t, her naturally optimistic outlook allowed her to have some hope for her future.

Buy Link

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More About the Author

Wendy May Andrews loves words. She loves words so much she’ll even read the cereal box repeatedly. This love affair has lead her to her new love, writing. So far she has published thirteen sweet, historical romance novels. Wendy and her husband love to travel either for hiking or for research and they are happiest whenever they manage to combine the two. When not traipsing around the world, Wendy can be found in front of her computer or with her head buried in a book in their cozy home in Toronto. She loves hearing from her readers and hopes you love her books as much as she does.

Connect with Wendy and her books

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Wendy-May-Andrews/e/B002W42H3A

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

Website: http://wendymayandrews.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/WendyMayAndrews

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

Bookbub:  https://www.bookbub.com/profile/wendy-may-andrews

Pure Romance Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/readersofpureromance

Giveaway

Wendy May Andrews is offering an ebook copy of Book 1 in her Orphan Train Series to one (1) winner chosen by Rafflecopter. See directions below.

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