GIVEAWAY & INTERVIEW: Author Krista Wagner

Welcome, readers! I have an author for you to meet today – Krista Wagner. I met Krista through our publisher, Clean Reads. And I am so excited for you to read more about her very intriguing book. And to see this fabulous cover! So, I won’t spend a lot of time gabbing here when I could be introducing you…

Thank you for being on the blog, Krista. First, can you tell us a little about this novel with the gorgeous cover?

A YA supernatural mystery, Cassi Is In A Coma deals with the worst kind of betrayal. The most liked high school senior is suddenly ostracized by all of her friends, and not given a reason. Seeking answers and feeling alone, she winds up falling ten stories off a water tower, which sends her into a coma. Did she commit suicide, like the papers say, or was she pushed? Through flashbacks, dreams, and an out-of-body journey, she will attempt to uncover the truth. Cassi is the third novel in the Small Town Secrets novel series.

I will admit this isn’t my primary genre, but I’m intrigued…

What was the inspiration for Cassi is in a Coma?

Everyone, at some point, has been betrayed, and often there is no explanation or justification. I wrote a story that we can all relate to, one that offers a way to get through a painful lonely adversity.

So true! I love this idea!

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

Yes! I have been writing since I was seven. I started penning plays and songs and then went to short stories and poems in high school, where I also contributed and edited our high school’s literary magazine and co-authored a zine. I have six novels published now, and am currently at work on the prequel to Intent, my spiritual dramatic thriller.

As much as we love writing, we all like some parts a bit less… What part of the writing process do you dread?

Timelines. Because certain events/plot points/character interactions can change, so do timelines. It is easy to lose track of them.

I, too, struggle with timelines…as a historical writer, some of mine are set (sometimes to much frustration). I find myself wishing away YEARS sometimes. Alas, they don’t let me change history…

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Take a break from your first draft, at least a couple of weeks, so that you can return to it with fresh eyes; this will allow you to see things you weren’t able to before. Having beta readers is invaluable—a myriad of perspectives can spot issues you won’t see, and get a good editor and proofreader.

What are you currently reading?

Fahrenheit 451

My readers know that I have to “set the mood” when I write. Most often that includes music. What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

I don’t typically, but I have been known to listen to 80’s music from time to time.

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

Yes, at night, at my desktop, when the kids are sleeping.

How long does it take you to write a book?

With revisions and editing, about a year, but if I committed to writing 10 hours a day, every day, I could have a finished product in one month.

Right? If only…

Thanks again, Krista, for being here and for chatting with us. I won’t keep my readers any longer from enjoying the wonderful tidbits below about Cassi in a Coma. So, without further ado…

Cassi in a Coma

“You are not wanted”

Cassi Walker has been Royal High School’s most-liked girl for the past four years, but a lot can happen in two days. Suddenly, she’s the school’s most-hated girl, but before she can figure out why, a ten-story fall off a water tower sends her into a coma. Soon, rumors start to fly that it was attempted suicide. Unfortunately, she has no memory of those final seconds before the harrowing event. Through a strange barrage of dreams, flashbacks, and an out-of-body journey, Cassi will attempt to expose the secrets and uncover the mysteries behind what happened to her. But will she be able to handle the truth?

Enjoy an Excerpt

“You will pay for it. You have to.” His voice was hushed, unlike the kind soft voice he’d always used with me. His eyes, which had once shone with warmth, were hard and flat. I detected a hint of disappointment there too, and I wondered what that meant.

His words haunting me, I found myself in turmoil not for the first time. The question that refused to be answered—what had I done?

“What did I do?” I said out loud.

“You know exactly what you did.”

Buy Link

Amazon

More About the Author

Krista Wagner is a 70’s product best known for her spiritual suspense and fictional realism. In addition to being a recipient of the Reader’s Favorite 5-star seal, she has been praised by award-winning screenwriter Sean Paul Murphy for her writing skill and strong plotting. Wagner holds an MFA in Creative Writing and is an English associate instructor with an indispensable faith in Christ.

Connect with Krista and her books

Find out more about Krista here: kristawagner.wixsite.com/author/bio
Follow her on Facebook: facebook.com/kristawagnerofficial/
Twitter: twitter.com/IntentBook04
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8509957.Krista_Wagner

GIVEAWAY

Krista is giving away an ecopy of her book featured on the blog today, Cassi Is In A Coma. Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

GIVEAWAY & INTERVIEW: Author Jennifer Pierce

Welcome, readers! I have a new author to introduce you to today: Jennifer Pierce. Her book has romance, suspense, mystery…what else? And an all star rating on Amazon. It seems you can’t go wrong! And one lucky winner will get to find out first hand! But lets not just take my word for it…I’ll step aside and turn this show over to Jennifer and her release so they can speak for themselves.

Welcome to my blog, Jennifer! Thanks for being here. First, can you tell us a little about your novel?

All Maggie Jones wants to do is sell her late father’s property and get out of Whitehaven, Texas as fast as possible—before she runs into the one man she’s spent the past six years avoiding. Someone has other plans for her, though. Sinister plans. And when a seemingly harmless act of vandalism turns into a series of menacing threats, she has no choice but to turn to last person on earth she wants to see for help.

Sheriff Cody Smith never expected to see Maggie again, especially after he’d broken her heart all those years ago. Maybe this is the second chance he’s always wanted. But when he realizes Maggie’s in grave danger, he intends to keep her safe at all costs. With lines from an old nursery rhyme as their only clue, he needs to find out who’s behind this deadly game before the rhyme ends and Maggie’s time runs out. Can he protect her, catch the bad guy, and make amends for past wrongs? Or will old wounds get in the way?

Nice. I like a good mystery! What was the inspiration for Hidden Danger?

I started with a scene where a woman comes back to town and runs into an old flame. It developed from there.

Not a bad place to start!

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

Being a writer was never on my radar. I actually wanted to be a veterinarian.

Not at all close…but when that writing bug get’s you. It tends to be a sure thing…

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

2015. My father died in January 2014. I spent the rest of that year with my nose in a book. I read 135 books that year. In 2015, I was reading and thought “I can do that.” And I did.

I like that.

And as much as we love writing, there are things we don’t like so much…for every author. What part of the writing process do you dread?

Editing.

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Keep writing, keep reading, keep learning. Follow your favorite authors on social media.

As much as conferences and books on craft feed our skills, I believe reading does as well. What are you currently reading?

JoAnn Durgin’s Gentle Like the Rain.

I have to set the mood when I write. Do you? What kind of music, if any, do you listen to when you write?

It depends on my mood. I have a playlist of love songs ranging from the 80s to present day. Mostly I listen to current Christian music.

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

It’s not my favorite but it’s my most productive, at work on my lunch break. I can’t focus at home even if I’m home alone.

I hear you. So much distraction at the house.

How long does it take you to write a book?

Hidden Danger took me about a year. I don’t think my second novel took that long.

Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

They say you write what you know. There are some things that happened in real life that I incorporated into Hidden Danger. The most obvious is my father died and we had to go through his stuff. We really did find lots of expired medications. Also, there’s a scene/story about a snake. It really happened.

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

My second novel, Expecting Danger, will release December 4, 2018. You’ll learn about Maggie’s brother Jacob. I’m currently working on book three in the Small-Town Guardians series.

Thanks again, Jennifer, for being on the blog! Now, readers, onto the details…

Hidden Danger

“Loved this book! I couldn’t put it down. I had to know what was going to happen next. The combination of romance and mystery was perfect. Maggie and Cody warmed my heart. I look forward to reading more books by this author.”

~ KB (Amazon Reviewer), 5 Star Review

Enjoy an Excerpt

“Well, if it isn’t little Magpie Jones. The prodigal daughter returns,” an unforgettable southern drawl announced from behind her. She’d know that voice anywhere. The voice that used to bring comfort now only angered her. She spun around, the last man she wanted to see occupied the waiting room seat.

“Well, if it isn’t the heartbreaking Cody Smith. I should have known I’d meet you at the sheriff’s office. It was only a matter of time before you were on the wrong side of the law.” Her words held the pent-up anger she’d thought she’d released a long time ago.

“Now, Magpie, don’t be like that.” Cody furrowed his brows.

“Don’t you Magpie me. You know how much I hate that name. My name is Maggie.” She crossed her arms over her chest.

Buy Link

Amazon

More About the Author

I live in Arkansas with my husband and two children. I’m a paralegal by day and a referee by night. I’m an avid reader with a to be read pile that will never be finished.

Connect with Jennifer and her books

Facebook.com/JenniferPierceauthor

Twitter.com/JennPierce82

Lovereadwriterepeat.wordpress.com

GIVEAWAY!

Author Jennifer Pierce is offering an ecopy of her book, Hidden Danger, to 1 (one) winner to be chosen by Rafflecopter. Please follow the directions below to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

SPOTLIGHT & INTERVIEW: Wendy May Andrews’s “Sophie”

Welcome to a special Wednesday, friends! I have an opportunity to introduce you to a book series that has so intrigued me that I am on the edge of my seat waiting for you to read about it! Fellow Clean Reads author Wendy May Andrews, whom you may have met here on my blog, is sharing about Book 1 in a new series (which I have already added to my TBR (To Be Read) pile). And the cover is AH-mazing. But I’ll stop and let “introduce” you to Wendy…

Thanks, Wendy, for being on the blog today. First, can you tell us a little about your novel?

Sophie is a prequel to a series I’m launching that will follow a group of young women as they escort a trainload of orphans as they head out west to start new lives. Each book will feature one of the young women and how this adventure leads her to love.

I am intrigued. My first love is clean Historical Romance. Can you share some of the historically significant events behind Sophie?

In the 1850s there were so many orphans due to the high death rate amongst the impoverished of New York. Mr. Charles Brace, a philanthropist who helped found the Children’s Aid Society, believed there’s always room for one more at a farmer’s table. He sent many of these orphans out west to be adopted into new families. It was a mutually beneficial arrangement. The farmers could use help and the orphans could use a family.

I am only somewhat familiar with this tidbit of history. And I’ve seen other novels featuring this piece of history. But I like your concept. Three women escorting a train. And you are sharing their backstories through these prequels. I LOVE this concept. What was the inspiration for Sophie?

A friend was adopting a child and I began researching the history of adoption. It was fascinating!

It is so true that writers find inspiration everywhere! That’s one of the best parts of the process for me. But we know it’s not all fun… What part of the writing process do you dread?

Editing. And blurb writing. Yuck! I love writing the first draft, though, and that makes up for it all.

That is the truth! That blurb writing will give a writer a complex (well more than we already have)!

Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

Well, you’re already a great writer. But always grow. The biggest room is the room for improvement.

Thank you! I hope I do always strive to improve. I ask this question because I know that everyone, no matter where they are in their journey has wisdom I can glean from. I am always looking to learn.

What are you currently reading?

I’m an avid reader so this changes too often to say. But a friend of mine just released the 2nd book in her series. Rebekkah Lee Jenkins is her name and the book is Hope in Oakland. I read it while it was in rough draft form. I’m anxious to read the finished product.

This is maybe the strangest question like to ask, but a lot of non-writers are curious about it… How long does it take you to write a book?

It really depends on what else life is throwing at me but I can write 1000 words per hour of decent first draft writing. Double that for editing. So a 50,000 word book is going to take at least 100 hours. That 100 hours could be all in one month or spread out over six months depending on life…

I like how you put that. Because it’s so true. There is rarely a “normal”. It all depends on that particular season of life.

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

I’m working on the first draft of the fourth book in the series. I love these books! This is my first truly planned series and I’m really enjoying the process.

Wonderful. I just want to say that this cover is FABULOUS! And I myself am eager to dive in. So, I won’t keep my readers from digging into this sneak peek of Sophie.

Sophie

the Prequel

Book 1 in the Orphan Train Series

His pursuit of her threatens everything – except her heart:

Sophie Brooks has lived at the orphanage since she was ten years old. Now nineteen, she’s not only a resident, she works there as well. It’s the only true home she can remember and she’ll do whatever it takes to keep it safe.

When her budding relationship with the son of one of the orphanage’s benefactors threatens the charity’s funding, Sophie must choose between her loyalties and her heart.

Enjoy an Excerpt

She was just pinning what she hoped was a gracious smile back onto her face while scanning the gathering crowd, looking for the rest of her group, when her gaze collided with that of the most handsome man she had ever seen. His blue eyes were so clear and bright, they reminded her of the Atlantic on a sunny day. His dark hair was almost black and was clipped short. It looked as though it would have a tendency to curl if he had not controlled its length. His square jaw and high cheekbones should have looked fierce, but his lips quirked up in the corners as though he had a propensity for smiling or laughing. Sophie’s breath caught as she tried to take it all in and once again found herself hoping her mouth wasn’t hanging open.

He strode toward her, as she was frozen in place. There wasn’t much space separating them, so he was beside her in a few paces.

“Good evening, miss. I haven’t had the pleasure of making your acquaintance. I just saw you talking with my mother.”

Sophie blinked and almost turned to look behind her before she remembered that she had just been speaking with Mrs. Rexford. Feeling a blush stain her cheeks, Sophie tried to achieve coherent speech, but nothing intelligent came to mind so she merely offered him a slight curtsy like she had done with his mother.

Buy Links

Available for free through Kindle Unlimited!

$0.99 for Kindle: https://amzn.to/2MUwCJ9

More About the Author

I’ve been writing pretty much since I learned to read when I was five years old. Of course, those early efforts were basically only something a mother could love J I put writing aside after I left school and stuck with reading. I am an avid reader. I love words. I will read anything, even the cereal box, signs, posters, etc. But my true love is novels.

Eight or nine years ago my husband dared me to write a book instead of always reading them. I didn’t think I’d be able to do it, but to my surprise I love writing. Those early efforts eventually became my first published book – Tempting the Earl (published by Avalon books in 2010). There were some ups and downs in my publishing efforts. My first publisher was sold and I became an “orphan” author, back to the drawing board of trying to find a publishing house. It has been a thrilling adventure as I learned to navigate the world of publishing.

I believe firmly that everyone deserves a happily ever after. I want my readers to be able to escape from the everyday for a little while and feel upbeat and refreshed when they get to the end of my books.

Connect with Wendy and her books

Website: www.wendymayandrews.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WendyMayAndrews

Instagram: www.instagram.com/WendyMayAndrews

Twitter: www.twitter.com/WendyMayAndrews

GUEST POST & INTERVIEW: Author Sarah MacTavish

Firebrand Book Club!

by Sarah MacTavish

Summer is in full swing! For a Texan like me, that means spending my days hiding from the heat indoors, and my evenings in the pool after the sun goes down (I burn like crazy). But I’m also a librarian, so it also means Summer Reading–busy days hosting fun (indoor) events for the community, helping swarms of kids and teens find books to read, handing out prizes…

Which inspired me this year to do something fun for my book, Firebrand. I’m currently hard at work editing the sequel, which should be out before the end of the year. So to get ready it’s release, I decided to host an online Summer Book Club during the month of July, with weekly live chats and giveaways as we read (or reread) Firebrand together.

Here’s a little more about the novel:

Firebrand is the first of a 4-part series about two abolitionist teenagers, Saoirse and Westleigh, as they survive one of the darkest chapters of American history, the Civil War. In the first book they find themselves struggling through the summer of 1860, trying to fight against the evils of slavery while also keeping their families safe, but they quickly realize they might not be able to do both. The story is told in two alternating perspectives: Saoirse Callahan, an Irish girl living in north Texas, and Westleigh Kavanagh, the son of a Pennsylvania sheriff.

All you have to do to participate in the book club is visit my website (http://www.sarahmactavish.com/book-club/) and sign up for my monthly newsletter, where you’ll get exclusive downloads, updates on upcoming novels, and be eligible for prizes in my drawings!

Then join me in July online every Sunday afternoon as we talk about the chapters for the week.

In preparation for this, I’m also releasing three short prologues each week that lead up to the events of Firebrand. You can find the first two for free on my website now (http://www.sarahmactavish.com/short-stories/).

That’s about it! You can find more details on my website. I hope you join me!

Thank you, Sarah! Both for the informative post and for being on the blog today. You know I love Historicals and I love how history inspires authors. Can you share the more historically significant events behind your story?

There was an event in Texas history called the Fires of 1860, or the Texas Troubles, that is the background for Saoirse’s part of the story. There was a series of mysterious fires that burned across most of the counties around modern day Dallas and Fort Worth that sparked rumors of an abolitionist-led slave uprising.

Today, historians think the fires were the result of a combination of volatile matches, Texas summer heat, and a drought. But at the time (just months after John Brown’s raid at Harper’s Ferry), most white southerners feared an insurrection, so North Texans created vigilante committees to interrogate (or worse) suspected abolitionists.

By the presidential election in November, over 100 people were killed, others run out of town, but there was never any actual evidence of a plot found. So Saoirse’s part of the story centers around trying to uncover the truth of what’s really going on.

Westleigh, on the other hand, is up against the Fugitive Slave Law, which required lawmen even in free states to aid in the capture of people who’ve escaped slavery, or face fine and/or imprisonment. When Westleigh finds out the man staying in their house is actually on the run, he has to keep it a secret from his father, the sheriff, and soon finds out he’s in way over his head.

Wow! So intriguing! What was the specific inspiration for Firebrand?

My mother. When I was young she gave me the idea of writing about an abolitionist boy from the South that runs away to fight for the Union Army in the Civil War. It was immediately interesting to me–a character that goes against the way he was raised to fight for what is right. That idea grew to include a girl from the north who disguises herself to fight as a soldier. Eventually the two characters swapped places, and I realized I wanted to start the story before the war, to give a better picture of why they both become soldiers.

Now I’m really hooked! I know we authors are always looking to the next thing…that imagination is always going… Do you have current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

Yes! As I said, I’m working on the sequel to Firebrand right now, Paladin. This will pick up at the beginning of the Civil War, when Saoirse, Westleigh, and their friends enlist in the Union Army. You can check out the book cover and description here! (http://www.sarahmactavish.com/books/paladin/)

Firebrand

In the summer of 1860, when slavery ruled the heart of America, two young abolitionists discover how dangerous it can be to believe in freedom for all.

Saoirse Callahan’s family is broken. Hunger forced them out of Ireland and they still struggle to survive in their new home, where scorching Texas droughts threaten their small farm. Then, on one blazing Sunday afternoon, a series of mysterious fires devastates the region. Whispered rumors of a slave rebellion soon flame into a statewide panic. Vigilantes scour the countryside for arsonists, targeting foreigners and slaves in a bloodthirsty witch-hunt. Saoirse is determined to find out how the fires really started, but the more questions she asks, the more she puts her family and friends in danger. And the truth may be more than she can handle.

Meanwhile, safe in Pennsylvania, Westleigh Kavanagh can call himself an abolitionist with little fear. But when he realizes his father’s new boarder is actually a runaway slave, he must keep the wanted man’s identity a secret. Because Westleigh’s father is the sheriff, and bound by law to help capture fugitives, whether he believes in slavery or not. Westleigh wants to protect his father from the truth, but the longer he lies, the greater chance they will all be caught. Then Westleigh makes his own discovery—an old forbidden journal that holds secrets of his father’s past. Secrets that lead to the Callahans. Secrets that, if unraveled, could destroy both families.

Enjoy an Excerpt

My cousin sank into the armchair and wilted, limbs sprawled. “There were fires in Denton yesterday afternoon,” he said hoarsely. “Dallas, too. Pilot Point. Corsicana…”

“All on the same day? But–”

“They figured ours started at the general store. Sam thinks it was those new matches everybody got in.”

“Just the matches?” I sighed in relief. “That’s welcome news.”

“It would be, if that was the word being whispered ‘round town–” he stopped to cough up more smoke. Then his head started to droop.

“Well? What are they saying?” I kicked his foot. “Jack!”

He lifted his red eyes. “Arson.”

Buy Link

Amazon

More About the Author

Sarah MacTavish is a small-town Texan with “Yankee” roots, and a heart that belongs to Ireland. In addition to being a writer she is also a teen librarian, incurable Star Wars nerd, and proud Hufflepuff. Her first historical novel, Firebrand, was described as “a moving, expertly written, and entertaining work of Young Adult fiction” by Self-Publishing Review. Connect with her online and get the latest updates about the Firebrand series at sarahmactavish.com

Connect with Sarah and her work

Website: sarahmactavish.com

Instagram: @sarahmactavish

Twitter: @sarahmactavish

Facebook.com/authorsarahmactavish

OVERCOMING GOOD CHOICES: Is there a best option?

We all make choices. Every day. Many times a day. To get out of bed, to shower, what to wear (a BIG decision for some), what to eat for breakfast, and the list goes on. Some of these decisions are so easy they don’t really feel like options any more. We do them automatically. The better choice seems obvious.

Choosing between staying in bed and getting out of bed, for example (if you are not sick or struggling in some other way), seems like a bad choice (or an unhealthy choice) versus a good, healthier choice. It’s pretty easy. (Although if you haven’t gotten adequate sleep, it may not always be so easy 🙂 )

Likewise, moderate choices in life about your schedule, for example, may come easily too. Do I say yes to this huge thing that will take up a lot of my time and doesn’t fit in with my goals? Or turn it down? Now, that’s relatively simple to see that you might should turn that down. The people pleaser in some of you is saying…yeah, right! I know. I’ve been there. It’s sooo hard to say ‘no’. But it is necessary. Let’s take this a step further.

What if the choice is between two good things? A pastor asks you to serve in a ministry at your church. That is an awesome thing. Nothing wrong at all with that. BUT…has God called you to it? Yes, we are generally called to serve. But we are not called to burn ourselves out. God equips and calls us to specific things. As I’ve said before, right now, I feel He has led me to focus on my family, my writing, and the moms ministry I am a part of. So, this request to be a part of another ministry is not a bad decision, but it may not be my best choice.

What if, for instance, God is nudging someone else? If you step into that role, that person will not have the chance to step up. They may end up feeling their help is not necessary and never step up.

And imagine what adding something to your already overwhelmed schedule will do? It may end up hurting your other calling, even if what you are doing is good. The things you have been called to may suffer for it. You are just one person. And can only do so much.

So this choice between good and good is actually a choice between good and BETTER. Maybe, even, you could say good and BEST.

If you have a full schedule, like me. And struggle to people please, you may need to remember that every time you say “yes” to something, you are saying “no” to something else already on your plate. So, saying yes to that added opportunity, means saying “no” to one of those three areas – my family (maybe dinner around the table, devotion time with my kids, etc), my writing (making a deadline, having the time to market, etc), or this moms ministry (I end up staying up all hours of the night finishing a talk for the meeting, I am rushing last minute to get a newsletter done, I drop the ball on my leadership team, etc).

Is it worth it?

When these opportunities present themselves, it’s all about perspective and wisdom.

I no longer answer with “yes.”  Or even “no.” I say “let me pray about it and check my calendar.” Then I weigh the time commitment and pray, seeking God’s will for my involvement. Then I can answer confidently. If they need an answer that second, it has to be “no.” Because I cannot know, but I DO know that my schedule is pretty tight as it is.

What about you? Is your schedule crammed as it is? Are there things you need to pare down? Say “no” to?

GIVEAWAY & GUEST POST: Author Leanne W. Smith

Up and Down Goes the Heart

by Leanne W. Smith

In April I flew to Chicago for a conference. April is a busy month for educators, and this conference took place during the highest peak of my work season. I was tired when I left, and tired when I came home.

Down goes the heart.

Still…perhaps due to the difference in routine tasks—an opportunity to step off the normal hamster wheel of my world—I returned refreshed, with a heart fuller of thought than normal.

And up again.

I flew Southwest on a Wednesday. The day before, a woman got on a routine flight like mine and didn’t live to reach her destination. I may never sit peaceably in a window seat again.

Down. 

After Ubering to the hotel, I realized Hamilton was playing down the street. So on Thursday between academic sessions I bought a prized remaining ticket.

It is heralded as a great musical for a reason. The writer in me was moved and thrilled by the story, the lighting, the music, the acting.

I walked away wanting to be a braver writer; believing once again in the power of words and stories well told.

And up.

Friday, on the flight home, I finished reading The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. Another kind of story—heart-breaking and beautiful.

And down.

While I grieved the atrocities of her first-hand account of war and its wide swath of horror, I marveled at the faith and obedience of her family…the ways they loved, and the shafts of light God sent them.

And up again.

I returned to my own house more appreciative of the comfort and sanctity of home, to find my gloriously uneventful life as I had left it—to French-press coffee on Saturday morning in my easy chair, Stan reading the Wall Street Journal beside me, its front page filled with another story of abuse.

Down.

A familiar walk through the neighborhood. The azaleas in bloom and my hostas peaking through the soil. Worship on Sunday with people I love.

Up.

Then learning of another shooting in a public place.

Some weeks the heart volleys up and down more than others. In seeking to end this week on an upswing, here’s a short snippet from The Hiding Place, in case your heart benefits from the power of words and story as much as mine does.

Once—I must have been ten or eleven—I asked Father about a poem we had read at school the winter before. One line had described “a young man whose face was not shadowed by sexsin.” I had been far too shy to ask the teacher what it meant, and Mama had blushed scarlet when I consulted her. In those days just after the turn of the century, sex was never discussed, even at home.

So the line had stuck in my head. “Sex,” I was pretty sure, meant whether you were a girl or boy, and “sin” made Tante Jans very angry, but what the two together meant I could not imagine.

And so seated next to my father in the train compartment, I suddenly asked, “Father, what is sexsin?”

He turned to look at me, as he always did when answering a question, but to my surprise he said nothing. At last he stood up, lifted his traveling case from the rack over our heads, and set it on the floor.

“Will you carry it off the train, Corrie?” he said.

I stood up and tugged at it. It was crammed with the watches and spare parts he had purchased that morning.

“It’s too heavy,” I said.

“Yes,” he said. “And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children. When you are older and stronger you can bear it. For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”

And I was satisfied. More than satisfied—wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions—for now I was content to leave them in my father’s keeping.

From The Hiding Place: The triumphant True Story of Corrie ten Boom 

Interview Questions

Leanne, thank you so much for those words. I love that reminder in the excerpt from The Hiding Place. But let’s get back to you and your works. What does your research process look like?

When I was working on my first novel, Leaving Independence, my youngest daughter and I traveled to Missouri. The largest overland trails research library is in Independence. We walked through an old cemetery, and a kind gentleman with a booming voice drove us around town in a prairie schooner with his mules. This time, my oldest daughter and I went to Colorado. We rode The Georgetown Loop through the Rockies, visited museums and a mining town, and I could see Hoke charging up over a hillside.

Wow! What a great way to get into the setting! Did you always want to be a writer?

Yes, for as long as I can remember. Two summers in college I worked for my county’s election commission. When new folks moved to town and registered to vote in those days, they often came by the office. I sat at the front counter and filled out the forms. One day when I asked a man, “Profession?” he said, “Writer.” My pen paused mid-air. It was by far the coolest answer anyone had ever given. I think that’s the moment it dawned on me there were real people who wrote for a living; it wasn’t simply the stuff of my dreams.

Tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb.

Finishing my first book was like having a first child. I thought, “There will never be a creative high to top this.” But finishing Contradiction was even more thrilling! The day I wrote the final scene I felt like David must have felt when he danced with abandon in the streets. I stayed in my living room, but my joy was no less thick.

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

Yes! Five: three historicals, a contemporary, and an adaptation. I really need to focus.

Thank you again, Leanne, for being on the blog and for sharing a bit more about your process and your work. Now, I’ll turn it over to my readers so they can jump into your newest release!

A Contradiction to His Pride

*This novel is set to debut June 12, 2018*

From the moment James met Corrine as they traveled the Oregon Trail, in Smith’s best-selling debut novel Leaving Independence, he couldn’t resist trying to win the sharp-mouthed beauty’s affections.

Now, as the core group of pioneers in Colonel Dotson’s wagon train begins to settle in Baker City, Oregon and build homesteads, James is restless to make his fortune so he can stake his own claim and win Corrine’s hand with honor.

But when James takes Corrine on an outing designed to impress her, things go tragically wrong. James foils a bank robbery and unwittingly sets a series of events into motion that shatter Corrine’s heart and now threaten her life, along with his and her older brother Charlie’s.

Soon there are several folks heading back down the trail—James, Charlie, Corrine, Harry and Tam Sims, the Baker City Sheriff, a newspaperman, a notorious criminal family, and Hoke Mathews—all set to collide in a final showdown in a Colorado mining town as outlaw Duke Walden seeks to make James pay for his heroic actions.

Enjoy an Excerpt

PROLOGUE

A cold wind rustled the leaves of the evergreens west of Baker City, building like the crescendo of a symphony. When the wind unfurled and swept into town, it lifted the top layer of a twenty-inch snow that had fallen the day before, sending icy sprays swirling over several residents who rushed to stand in the drifts and on the boardwalk following the gunshots.

James Parker wanted to give Corrine Baldwyn a day to remember him by, not a day to curse his name.

Now, as she thrashed while he tried to hold her, the blood from her hands raking stains over the sleeves of his coat, James squeezed his eyes shut against the wind, the ice, the snow and the slaughter, and wondered if she could ever forgive him.

Buy Link (for Pre-order)

Amazon

More About the Author

Leanne W. Smith is the author of Leaving Independence, On a Dark & Snowy Night (short story), and A Contradiction to His Pride.

In the 90s she wrote a family humor column for two Middle Tennessee weeklies called “My Two Cents.” These days she writes historical fiction novels and serves on the faculty of Lipscomb University’s College of Business.​​

Leanne and her husband, Stan, have two daughters and a son-in-law who make the world a more beautiful place through their art, design, photography, songwriting and mandolin-playing. Visit Smith’s website at www.leannewsmith.com.

Connect with Leanne and Her Books

Website: www.leannewsmith.com

Find her Social Media links are available on the website.

Giveaway

For a chance to win a free paperback copy of Leanne W. Smith’s newest book, A Contradiction to His Pride, enter below. (Only valid for continental United States.) Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter:

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If you’re on Goodreads, enter there by June 30th for a chance to win one of 12 free copies: https://bit.ly/2sxOjoy

OVERCOMING MY SCHEDULE: My 3-Fold Purpose

Ever felt overwhelmed by your schedule?

Had too many things on the “To Do” list than you could possible do that day? Orthat week?

Do you know all too well the intense stress of having too many things to do right now and nothing can be put off?

Brothers, sisters, we can commiserate together! You are in good company. These questions are solid YES’s for me. I have hunted and searched and tried numerous ways to hone and tune my schedule to make the most out of the time I have. I’ve even blogged about.

I have talked about “finding your purpose/goal/calling and take everything else out of your schedule”…

Now, that is all-star advice. Because, even though that other stuff may be good, it can be excess, clutter, things that would be, again, good, but not necessarily good for you at this time.

So, what’s the problem? Seems I found the answer: find my calling/purpose/goal and focus on that, letting the other things slide by.

And I have. My family (my role as mom/wife), my writing career (writing/marketing/editing/etc), and the moms’ ministry I help coordinate. These are the things God is calling me to right now in life. These are the things that fill my schedule and take priority. The other stuff…gets a harder look…realizing that if I say “yes”, I do so to the detriment of one of these things or to myself.

Here’s the problem…I tend to be a people pleaser. Yep. I said it. It’s not a bad thing. Having a servant heart is a very good thing. It is a gift. The challenge is taking responsibility over that heart. Because you were made for service, yes, but for service in some areas, not in all. You were not intended to wear to the bone, sacrificing your called areas, for the sake of service.

I recently finished Lysa TerKeurst’s book “The Best Yes“…and that book was soooo freeing! It spoke directly to where I was struggling–as a people pleaser; as a woman who has grown up in the church hearing how we are to serve, serve, serve; as a person who is just overwhelmed.

See, as TerKeurst presents, when you keep saying “yes” to things you aren’t called to, even for the sake of service, you may miss out on God’s specific calling on your life. To say “yes” to this thing, means to say “no” to other things. We all have the same 24 hours in each day. And we choose how we spend those hours.

And I, for one, would prefer to spend my life pursuing my calling, my purpose, than bowing to an insane schedule that is idealistic, yes, but also frankly unrealistic.

So, friends, let us evaluate where our heart is. Where our time is. And how we want to spend our days. Let’s be proactive, not reactive. (Placing things on our schedule, rather than adding things at the random requests of others.)

My default answer to a request now is “I’ll have to check my schedule and get back to you.” If they push for an answer now, the answer has to be “no”. I can no longer give of myself blindly.

There is a cost for every “yes”. I’ll say that again–there is a cost for every “yes”.

Count it.