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  • 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

  • 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:

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
  • 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

    Buy linkhttps://amzn.to/2Uwejxt

    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.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
  • INTERVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Author Kathleen Neely

    Hello, all! I have a fresh face to introduce you to today, Kathleen Neely. Kathleen is another author I have encountered through ACFW. This wonderful organization allows authors to network and glean from each other in the most amazing way. I wish I’d joined sooner 🙂

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

    I love novels that focus on relationships, particularly inter-generational. I also enjoy reading stories that involve the legal system—law suits, court cases, attorneys. The Street Singer is actually my second novel, although the first to reach publication. When I finished my first novel and breathed a big sigh of relief, my mind went to work weaving story lines, building and discarding ideas, until I decided on what eventually became The Street Singer. This novel inspired me to dig in deeper and with the help of Carlson Meissner Hart & Hayslett, P.A. – Attorneys Representing Clients in Tampa, FL, I was able to learn more about how the characters developed. It’s about Trisha, a final-year law student, and Adda, a once famous recording artist known as Adaline. Although it’s their story, everyone loves a little romance. That keeps things interesting.

    The Street Singer blurb:

    Trisha Mills, a student in her final semester of law school, has fond memories of listening to the music of Adaline, a once famous recording artist. She learns that Adaline, now Adda
    Marsh, is a street singer in Asheville, NC. Adda’s sole means of support in her senior years comes from the donation box. Along with her meager possessions, Adda has a box labeled, “Things to Remember.” Adda agrees to show Trisha the contents. With it comes her story. Adda reveals her journey by sharing a few items at a time, beginning as a sharecropper’s daughter in Mississippi, to fame in Nashville, and to poverty in her old age.

    Trisha is busy cleaning out the home of her deceased grandfather, preparing to sit for the bar exam, and planning her wedding to Grant Ramsey. However, she cannot overlook the
    injustices that Adda has experienced. Aided by Rusty Bergstrom, an attorney who will work pro bono, Trisha convinces Adda to seek restitution. Will her growing friendship with Rusty Bergstrom affect her engagement to Grant?

    Sounds interesting. I love novels that give us multiple storylines like this. I always have to ask fellow authors: Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer?

    My advice is more for new writers. Surround yourself with people in the industry. Garner all of the help they can give you. I’ve found writers to be the best and most willing mentors. Read trade books on writing and attend conferences.

    That is sound advice. Never stop learning. Non-writers are always curious about the length of time to complete a novel. Now, most understand this varies from author to author. What about you? How long does it take you to write a book?

    Writing a book takes the better part of a year. About six months of that time is actually drafting the manuscript. After that, comes editing and rewrites. Unlike what I hear from many authors, I enjoy editing—not the line editing checking for every punctuation mark. Once the skeleton of a story is written, I enjoy embellishing it, bringing it to life with words. I go through my manuscript many times, looking to add sensory details and thinking through the emotions that should be evident. I use beta readers to review the finished work, then, if needed, will do further edits.

    You’ve got one on me. I certainly do add depth, but editing is not my favorite 🙂

    Can you tell us something about your newest release that is NOT in the blurb?

    I was mesmerized by a youtube video of a drum circle. I knew I had to have a scene in The Street Singer that included it. Here’s a link:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2O6melWFemg

    So cool! Lastly, do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share?

    I’m working on a story about a mother’s love. After a teenage pregnancy, she gave her baby up. Twelve years later, she has another chance to be part of his life. Until the unthinkable happens. That’s all you get. Sorry. No spoiler alert.

    Oh my goodness! What a teaser that is!

    Research in Writing:

    Research is a vital part of writing, and is not limited to historic settings. Most people know a little bit about the legal system. I knew enough to get myself in trouble if I hadn’t consulted an expert. Actually, two experts. I reached out to an attorney who read the legal portions of my manuscript and provided feedback on my misunderstandings, then passed it along to her husband whose area of law was more closely compatible.

    An interesting sub-theme shows the renovation of an older home. That research was easy for me. My husband has worked for decades in every area of home building. He walked me through each phase of the work.

    Thanks, Kathleen, for sharing your insight and for being on the blog! And now, it is my pleasure to introduce you all toThe Street Singer

    The Street Singer

    Enjoy an Excerpt

    Excerpt from The Street Singer

    “I done figured you knew. You wore them questions all over your face. She opened her water bottle and took a long, slow drink. Here’s what you gotta know. There ain’t no more Adaline. I’m Adda, my given name. That’s all I am.”

    Trisha nodded but remained unsatisfied. “Can I ask what happened?”

    Adda laughed. “Honey, age happened. You too young to understand. The body goes. The voice goes. The energy goes.

    “I know, but your records, they sold…maybe millions.”

    Adda chuckled at that. “Well, you be givin’ me too much credit, but yeah, they did sell back in the day.” Adda looked at her watch and took a bite of her sandwich. “So, I guess you’re wondering where all my money went.”

    Trisha backpedaled. The bluntness made it sound so callous. “That’s none of my business, but…”

    “You right there. It ain’t none of your business. But I’ll tell you anyways. My daddy, he was a sharecropper in Mississippi. We young’uns had to help when we got big enough to hold a shovel. I never got me past primary schooling. Them record people knowed it and all them fancy papers I signed didn’t give me much left over.”

    Trisha gasped. “That’s terrible.”

    Adda looked up from her lunch. “Oh, they treated me good. Real good. Set me up in a fancy place to live, bought me clothes and food. Dressed me for pictures and took me to the studio. But they never let me go places where I’d get to talk and never let me talk in microphones where I went to sing. Didn’t want me having no friends. I knew they feared my poor schooling would show. Them fancy papers I signed didn’t leave me much left over.”

    Buy Link

    Amazon

    More About the Author

    Kathleen Neely resides in Greenville, SC with her husband, two cats, and one dog. She is a retired elementary principal, and enjoys time with family, visiting her two grandsons, traveling, and reading.

    She is the author of The Street Singer, to be released in February, 2019. Beauty for Ashes and The Least of These will be released in 2019. Kathleen won second place in a short story contest through ACFW-VA for her short story “The Missing Piece” and an honorable mention for her story “The Dance”. Both were published in a Christmas anthology. Her first novel, The Least of These, was awarded first place in the 2015 Fresh Voices contest through Almost an Author. She has numerous devotions published through Christian Devotions. Kathleen continues to speak to students about writing and publication processes. She is a member of Association of Christian Fiction Writers.

    Connect with Kathleen and her books

    Website – www.KathleenNeely.com

    Facebook – www.facebook.com/kathy.neely.98

    Twitter – https://twitter.com/NeelyKneely3628

    GIVEAWAY

    Kathleen is offering a giveaway to one (1) winner within the continental United States: a scripture print (picture with related scripture). Please follow the directions on the Rafflecopter below to enter.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway
  • DEPRESSION: An Honest Look at Symptoms & Treatment

    Hey, all! I apologize for the delay in this series. We’ve had sickness, and houseguests, and you name it! But my burden for increasing awareness and understanding of depression and mental illness weighs on my heart (in a good way).

    So today, let’s dive into how to recognize if you or a loved one is experiencing a mental illness, such as depression.

    Are you just “under the weather”? Tired? Baby blues? Or is it something more? This whitesands gainesville centre say discerning if your symptoms are actually caused by a mental illness or something else can be more difficult than you’d think sometimes. But it is best to be aware of the common “calling cards” of these disorders so you can pinpoint what’s happening more easily.

    Each mental illness has unique makeup, and therefore, different symptoms, but there are some common things that tend to show up:

    • worry or fear that is excessive
    • Feeling overly sad or “low”
    • Problems concentrating and learning or just general confusion
    • Mood changes that seem extreme, even “highs” that feel somewhat euphoric
    • Irritability or anger that lasts or is intense
    • Shutting down and avoiding friends or any social situation
    • Having a hard time relating to others or even understanding their feelings
    • Tiredness, low energy, changes in sleep patterns
    • Increased hunger or a lack of appetite
    • Noticeable changes in libido
    • Reality doesn’t quite always seem right – delusions or hallucinations
    • Lack of insight – doesn’t notice the change in own feelings, behavior, personality
    • Alcohol or drug abuse
    • Headaches, stomach aches, other “aches and pains” that persist without a cause
    • Thoughts of harming self
    • No longer able to perform daily activities or manage daily problems or stress
    • Fear of weight gain that is overly intense or uncharacteristic concern with appearance

    There are also marked symptoms to look for in children as their behavior is usually more telling. For the most part, children do not know how to verbalize what they are feeling and thinking:

    • Notable changes in academic or school performance
    • Fighting or defiant behavior, or excessive worry/anxiety
    • Hyperactivity
    • Increase in bad dreams
    • Increased aggressiveness
    • Temper tantrums – more numerous than before

    If you think you have more of these than you should or you have a couple to a greater degree than is normal, REACH OUT! A trusted friend or supportive spouse is a great start. One of the things about depression and mental illness is that it alters your cognitive filter…you know, that thing that helps you identify thoughts as crazy or not crazy. A good, reliable friend can help be that filter for you in a non-judgmental way. Hear me – YOU are not crazy…you just need a little help.

    Your primary care physician (regular doctor) is a good next step. He or she can help with a diagnosis and get you the right kind of help. Being aware of the signs and symptoms above can aid you in this conversation. The diagnosis is the necessary first step as only then can your provider develop a plan for you…tailored to you.

    There is NO “one-size-fits-all” treatment for mental illness. But there are, again, common approaches. These include medication, talk therapy (counseling), and possibly life style changes.

    The NAMI (National Alliance of Mental Illness) HelpLine can assist in finding services and supports in your area as well: 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or [email protected]

    You can also text NAMI to 741-741 to interact with a crisis specialist.

    If you, or someone you care about, needs immediate help…do not delay. Call 911 or the Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255

    Join me next Wednesday. I’ll be sharing about things I’ve learned in my years living with chronic depression that have helped me along my recovery and kept me stable. Call them tips if you’d like…these are things that helped me and tend to be helpful to others. Maybe a couple will spark for you or your loved one. Again, mental illness is NOT a “one-size-fits-all” kind of thing.

    Thanks for joining me 🙂

  • Has Depression Become An Epidemic?

    I spent some time at a Women’s Retreat this past weekend and was struck by the number of women I ran across who had struggled with, at some point, a depressive disorder. And I thought about our country. The number of depression-related suicides we’ve seen in the last several years, and the sheer amount of those suffering whether in silence or opening up and sharing their struggle.

    Has depression become an epidemic?

    Well, first, I thought it might be helpful to seek out Webster and find out what “epidemic” actually means.

    epidemic – a widespread occurrence of an infectious disease in a community at a particular time

    Yes, usually “epidemic” refers to infectious diseases, but further looking determined that it doesn’t always have to. If a disease or disorder excedes 7.7% of the population, it is considered “epidemic”. But the definition does speak to a sudden upsurgence of instances in a certain area.

    Does this fit depression/mood disorders? Is it confined to the U.S.? Has there been rapid growth in the recent years or is there just better testing? More awareness? Less stigma so more willingness to report?

    Here are some of the facts:

    A study done by Harvard Medical School found that approximately 27.4% of United States adults experience a mood disorder (depression, bipolar depression, or seasonal affective disorder) at some point in their lives. As far as how affected they are, 45% experience “serious impairment”, 40% experience “moderate impairment”, and 15% experience “mild impairment”.

    And it’s striking younger and younger, too. A study found that those 18-29 years of age are more likely to experience depression than those over 60. And college students reporting a period of depression in the previous year (those that reported, depression is frequently an under-reported number) were 33% of the women in the student body and 27% of the males. That’s a big number!

    The suicide rate for adults has increased 25% since 1999. That’s absolutely crazy!

    The World Health Organization (WHO) projects that the level of disability and life lost due to depression will exceed that seen in war, accidents, cancer, stroke, and heart disease by 2030. WHO already sites depression as the #1 cause of illness and disability worldwide.

    Worldwide.

    This is not just epidemic. It’s pandemic!

    And just what does “pandemic” mean, you ask?

    pandemic – prevalent over a whole country or the world

    This is a major issue. Worldwide. And definitely within our country, our states, our communities. Our neighborhoods. Even, dare I say, our spheres of influence – our friends, families, and the people we interact with.

    So many lives, hurting, suffering – again, some in silence. And with a problem so big and so wide reaching, the hardest thing about depression (from someone who deals with chronic depression) is how isolating it can be. How alone you feel.

    This is a big deal.

    Join me next week. I’ll share more about the symptoms of depression, treatments, and some tips (for the one experiencing depression and for the one who sees a loved one struggling in depression).

    REFERENCES:

    www.nimh.nih.gov

    Psychology Today. Why We Can’t Stop the Depression Epidemic. by Jonathan Rottenberg, Ph.D

    https://www.webmd.com/