Thursday, May 29, 2014

How to Tell if You're in a Christian Historical Novel

Inspired by those AWESOME articles in The Toast

someone sets fire to your barn

there's no midwife in town and Eppy’s child is breech.

the mercantile is out of homespun calico

the stove in the schoolhouse sputters and embers catch in your eye just as the dashingly enigmatic new sheriff visits to pay you his compliments as guardian of his orphaned nephew (who is precocious but endearing)

you have a picture of your deceased parents in your reticule but the memory fades in your heart

the civil war embittered the man you hope will court you and he's still in love with his dead wife.

you answered the advertisement for helpmeets and you're on a train, the barren land whizzing past the window and taking your childhood in its stride. Down the track a widower awaits you. You've never kissed a man. You send a million cluttered musings heavenward.

You burned the bumbleberry pie

The cows are diseased

No one has fixed the fence.

There are not enough italics in the world to match the prayers inspired by the new minister’s homily on Ephesians

The oldest Wilcott child has dyslexia but it is not, as of yet, a diagnosable disease.

Will no one teach the gruff –but- gold-hearted blacksmith to read?

Your sewing circle has been stuck in Proverbs 31 for weeks

“With God as the center of your lives, you will build a home with grace as the foundation.”

Your new bustle is torn by your run-in with a stowaway sheep and an un-sturdy carriage wheel.

The banker- philanthropist-mayor-real estate-mining-tycoon is a wolf in sheep's clothing.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

A few Davinier shots

I loved Belle so much I saw it twice ( read my review here ).

A big part of why I loved the film so much was the hero who is just a totally Rachel-approved hero and one half of one of my favourite movie love stories in an age.

Seriously, it has been awhile.  Anyways. so I found you some pictures of Belle and John Davinier and you can go and gush and swoon.  SWOON


Monday, May 26, 2014

Where am I?

A few recent writing endeavours:

My review of For Such a Time for Novel Crossing
My picks for Top 5 Swoon-Worthy Heroes for Novel Crossing 
My review of the AMAZING film Belle for Breakpoint 

a bunny in a bookstore

One of my best friends got married on the weekend in gorgeous Port Hope, Ontario.  Port Hope has some great architecture and history ---and was even home to Joseph Scriven who wrote the hymn "What a Friend we Have in Jesus"

Another awesome thing? The venue for Jess' wedding played the role of Kingsport Ladies' College in Anne of Green Gables and its sequel. (Remember stupid Jenn Pringle? ) Because so much of the Anne movies and Road to Avonlea are filmed in gorgeous little towns around Toronto, I should start a walking tour business. Sorry, people, PEI is not used as much as you think it is....   here is a look at how Port Hope was used in the Anne movies 

It also has some great bookstores. Gryphon Books always has a little bunny hopping around and my friend and I made Bambi the bunny's greater acquaintance while book browsing
 best book  bunny EVER

Bambi loves books

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Heirs and Spares by J L Spohr

[From author's website :Visit J L Spohr on the web ]

Heirs and Spares is a book that never would’ve been on my radar if Hillary hadn’t mentioned it and I would’ve been sad because this book filled me with giddy joy.  It’s very much a tale of medieval political intrigue but while historically perfect is set in a completely fictional time replete of any recognizable figures. Thus, Spohr can play with her elaborate puppet show and she does: with a wink and a smile.

Oddly, it kind of creates an entirely new genre. There are thematic elements and the playing of scripture and religion and higher power which put one in mind of a Christian fiction novel ---and yet, there are gloriously lustily sequences which more than hint that the characters are involved in *ahem* fun exertions.   Spohr is an ordained minister and her knowledge of the Bible and of religion in past times is quite apparent here and infused intelligently. 

The sheer joy of this book is the personality effused on every page.  Spohr LOVES writing these people, they are her dearest friends and their gorgeous, opulent castle life is like her Barbie Dream Doll house and we, lucky readers, get a front row seat in the action of a brilliantly imaginative mind .

King William needs a queen and there’s a shortlist of gorgeous maidens; but he settles on the smart and spunky Annelore who is one of the most believable heroines in recent fiction I have read. Vulnerable and strong, Annelore is afeared of her sudden power as much as she is skeptical of a king she believes to be a brute.  Their matrimony is met with great excitement by the kingdom but with believable reticence on the part of both Annelore and Wills.   Perhaps the most perfectly executed scene ( believe me there are many contenders ) occurs just after the marriage ceremony as Wills and Annelore greet the commoners and Wills presents his wife for the first time. Annelore bows to the multitudes in a completely unprecedented and certainly unnecessary act: humbly winning their love without the slightest hint of conniving.

Their love is a slow-blooming one grounded in friendship first and foremost: a marriage of equal minds and sparkly banter that transcends the usual swooning and flirting of books of this ilk.   Realistically, Annelore---having often acted as a midwife in her home village---is mortified of childbirth and thus very hesitant to perform her wifely duties. There is something so soft and vulnerable and sweet about these early scenes: William knowing that conjugal duty and consummation is expected of a kingdom in need of an heir, but pressed to ensure that he is treating Annelore as a lady and Annelore wanting to do her utmost yet understandably shy knowing the high mortality rate of women who made it to the end stage of pregnancy.

I also genuinely enjoyed the relationship between Annelore and her father: who is saddened to lose a daughter whose mind he respects and whose character he treasures even as he knows she will do himself and her mother’s memory proud with her royal duties.

There are whispers of treason and the often unsavoury appearance of Annelore’s childhood flame; but they are just threads to add to the tapestry as a whole.  This is a story focused on the burgeoning relationship of two monarchs fumbling their way toward their magnanimous destiny while realistically and normally confronting each and every circumstance as one would expect two young people new to the job.

Wills does well at respecting Annelore’s opinion: immediately regarding her as an equal and finding himself attracted to her character more than he was attracted to some of the –erm—more physical charms of Annelore’s early competitors for crown.

I am so eager to dive into this world again and hang out with Wills and Annelore: they are friends --- book friends--- the best kind of friends 


"Think nothing of it, your Grace, the king said, "A lady who speaks her mind is one to be admired, is she not?"

"After a month of flattering fathers and fluttering eyelashes, William and his men reached Duven, the last duchy on their tour."

"She gave a laugh like a dove and blushed. Adorable."

"Acid burned Anna's stomach. Being bowed to, even by her father, was just one of the horrid things she'd never get used to."

"Beaubourg is no proper place for a girl of your mind, Anna. Love in a marriage you may not find, but you will find a whole world of ideas and knowledge..."

"Let him slay marauders in the woods and write laments to the stars for all we care."

"Then a smile, small and beatific like a Madonna's in an icon, played across her face. And he knew no matter what happened between them, he would remember this moment. The moment he watched a terrified girl become a queen."

"Oh-ho, so 'twas not merely my good teeth that brought you back?

"And where might we find that in the Scriptures?"
"The Lord has appeared to all number of people in dreams," William jumped back on the bed and rolled to her side. "And I do believe there was wrestling involved, at least once."
She looked down at him: "The wrestling you speak of and the wrestling of Jacob aren't quite the same thing."

"What did this all mean? Why did she feel as though some vital internal organ had left her body when those doors closed after him?"

"he tool hold of her hand. Her entire body responded as if he'd kissed her."

"Indeed my dear, that little head of yours does a mite bit more than look pretty."

"William the Just, am I?"
She threw up her hands: "I don't know what they call ye, William--- I made it up. 'Tis beside the point."

He grabbed her dour face and covered it with kisses. "Ah my darling wife, how glad you've made me."
"If calling you an ass gives you joy, I've a few other words I might share."

"You're the only person who's ever caused me to quake in their presence," he said, "That includes when my brother wanted me dead." He went to his knees in front of her, taking hold of her hands. "You have the power to completely unhinge me. I hate that."

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn

I am book-crushing on this book so hard I cannot even think straight.

I just wander around dreamily and want to draw Gabriel's name over and over on a notebook, scribbling hearts around it.

City of Jasmine is all of the books you love and all of the banter you love spanning through all of the great romances you love.  Its Lawrence of Arabia setting is populated by the brilliant aviatrix Evangeline Starke. Years ago at a New Year's Eve party on the cusp of the Great War, Evie met the dashing and improbably charming Gabriel Starke and eloped with him.  But as fast as you can say Percy Blakeney is a Demm'd Elusive Pimpernel he changed and got cold and their passion flickered dim.  Evie found herself married to a stranger and drew up divorce papers just as Gabriel was reported lost with the Lusitania.

Five years after his death, she senses him around her: in an old song and photograph, a few cryptic messages, the fact that try as she might to escape to the other side of the world--barnstorming with beautiful lipstick and gorgeously taut curls-- he is never far from her mind. Thus, it is rather convenient when he turns out to be not-quite dead after all.  In fact, very much alive and very much on the trail of a priceless religious artifact.

Nothing says couples' therapy like wandering through the desert being swung at, sliced at and shot at alongside a man who has become a stranger in life while still haunting your dreams.

If a book can be heartbreaking and beautifully funny at the same time: if it can have the first tang of a martini with immediate rush of intoxication even before your fingers fully tingle --- it is this.  If it can act as a looking glass to which you see, in heightened coloured goodness, all of the romances that have swept you into the past, then this is it.  This is it. This is Charles Boyer describing the subway to Hedy Lamar in Algiers. This is Percy kissing the stone steps where Marguerite's slipper has trod in The Scarlet Pimpernel this is Emerson Radcliffe and Amelia Peabody's first shirt-button-popping encounter in Elizabeth Peters' series.

And yet-- it is the best homage: for even as it wades wistfully into the great romances of the past, so Raybourn's voice is charmingly unique and knowing --- a sly wink and a raised glass --she knows you know and the whole thing is just jolly fun with this achingly perfect self consciousness.

  I cannot express how breathlessly in love with this book I am. I read it first in one sitting and then picked it up and began at the beginning and it has been lulling around in my brain like an unending tune ever since.

Can we have a moment to nod to Longfellow here and his ballad to gorgeous L'Acadie? Poetry is a major motif in the prequel novella Whisper of Jasmine as in this novel and it is five times more swoon worthy than the most blatantly visceral sequence d'amour you might ever read.    The characters are pitch perfect, the banter is sublime ( stay tuned for an entire blog post JUST on my favourite quotes) and the setting--oh the gloriously be-jewelled setting, sonorous and sweet with opaque and turquoise tones, whiffs of gorgeous scents, the lushly harsh desert, ancient ruins and the hint of mysticism at an artifact linked to Christ.

I cannot handle this book. I am just going to go pass out from sheer love in a corner and someone can bring me smelling salts.  I have been ruined for real life, I died a thousand deaths and I still taste my favourite words on the tip of my tongue.  This is a book I want to dream in.

NOTE: prequel novella is awesome and less than 2.00 buy them BOTH

Books I Read and Don't Have the Time to Write Full Reviews of all of them for Right Now

Villette by Charlotte Bronte
This is a go-to book for me but I hadn't read it in the past few years and it is seminal work in the Rachel canon interrupted by a few seminal years of personal growth. Could Lucy Snowe hold up?  What I learned is this: she is a dour and depressing heroine with a very interesting and weighty narrative that is, of course, genius. Graham Bretton is still a d-bag and Paul Emmanuel!
WELL! enough of these Byronic gruff heroes. Dudes a chauvinistic brute! he gets mad ALL THE TIME. He just yells at her and she sometimes stands up for herself; but I kinda just want her to roll her eyes and go: "he is SO not worth it" --but then he drowns and leaves her a school and her independence so she can eat all the
 brioches she wants and wear her red dress ( which is actually pink, M. Paul) and dream of dead nuns. Sounds like fun, Lucy! Also, your dead guy OWNED slaves. He sucks.

Simply Sara by Hillary Manton Lodge

Sara snuck away from the Amish world in the trunk of her brother’s girlfriends car and has immersed herself in English culture. There’s a lot to learn for fresh fish-out-of-the-water Sara. Luckily, she has a group of good friends---including her brother Levi and his girlfriend Jayne to help her. She watches movies, tries makeup, eats all sorts of interesting and fun things ( mostly thanks to her delightful foodie friend Gemma) and even lands a job at a local bookstore.

For me, the most interesting aspect of the novel was the realization of how difficult it would be for a young woman raised Amish to transpose herself into city life: from her first inklings of romance through her pursuit of a degree at Art School, I found Sara’s journey to be believable. I also liked a moment where the gruff-bookstore-employer/love interest reads Sara to sleep over the phone with some Narnia. Cute.

Ruth: Mother of Kings Diana Wallis Taylor I think the strongest aspect of this book was the cadence it held throughout which put me in mind of reading the rhythm of scripture. It must be difficult to revisit a story so often retold in fiction and Wallis Taylor's rendition especially differentiated itself in its inclusion of Reubenite history ( not just Moabite ) and in the backstory of Boaz and his family.

The Diviners Margaret Laurence
So my landlady had some books out to donate to charity and this was on top and I was like: did I read this in high school ( I read so much Laurence in high school ) and I couldn't remember so I read it and then I remembered I had.  And do you know what made me remember? My loathing for Morag. URGH! what is it with Margaret Laurence's heroines that make me want to throw things? It's bleak and sparse and an Atwood-ordained masterpiece, I am sure --but I am just too daft-- or too idealistic --or something and I can RESPECT it while not quite loving it.  Canadian Literature, everyone!

A Talent for Trouble by Jen Turano

This book was a little too light with a few too many conflicts between the hero Grayson Sumner ( who is basically just a brooder archetype with few unique elements of his own )and the feisty Felicia Murdock that could’ve been solved with just a casual conversation. I like a little meat in my historicals and I am not the ideal reader of this book. There were some interesting historical tidbits and I like the New York setting. This is my second Turano read and is a lot smoother to flip through than the first. I also like all of the euphemisms used to remind us that Felicia is well-endowed in the bust department. I found this genuinely funny because we don’t see a lot of busty CBA heroines.

The Language of Flowers: my friend Amy has been after me to read this for awhile and then it seemed everyone else loved this book, too. So I read it. It is a gorgeously lyrical exposition of love and loss that switches from current day San Francisco to ten years in the past.  The narrative slowly coughs up secrets and at its heart is Victoria Jones: a victim of the foster system. In a less-competent pen, Victoria would be insufferable : she is bitter and hard-edged and makes several choices that made me want to throw the book across the room. But, she is believable.  More impressively, she undergoes realistic change and it is her development that is the crux of the novel.  Fringing her adventures are a well-rounded cast of characters who populate her world as she slowly and surely ekes a life for herself at which the symbolic of meanings of flowers are at the core.  I enjoyed the soft romance between Victoria and Grant – the man whose love she is unsure she deserves.   A lot of interesting stuff about flowers here—like really---drawing from the Victorian Dictionary of Flowers that connotes the meanings behind the blooms that courted ladies would present with a hidden message to their lovers.

Grace’s Pictures: the first in the Ellis Island series by Cindy Thomson. I first met Cindy last year at the ACFW conference and she is a very sweet lady and very (rightfully) passionate about Irish history.   This series premise immediately put me in mind of the Molly Murphy series by Rhys Bowen: what with the Irish immigrant lady and the stalwart police officer ( Owen is a dish, FYI ). I enjoyed learning about turn-of-the-century photography and was impressed with the cloud that hung over the book –differentiating it from the sometimes saccharine tendencies of CBA fiction. Next up, we get Annie’s Stories which adds a bit of Frank L. Baum and Wizard of Oz --- so that is cool. 

I finished Meant to be Mine by Becky Wade (hold on for my Litfuse review of that ) and A Broken Kind of Beautiful by Katie Ganshert ( full review to come ) as well as the masterpiece For Such a Time by Kate Breslin which you will see on Novel Crossing soon as well as A Stillness of Chimes by Meg Moseley. Here is my review of Sweet Mercy for Novel Crossing  I also read Heirs and Spares by J L Spohr which I ADORED and will be reviewing soon as well as Whisper of Jasmine and City of Jasmine by Deanna Raybourn  and I died of happiness.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Loves Comes Calling by Siri Mitchell

Now this is a book I picked up and put down and when I picked it up again I think I am to blame for losing the flow.  Ellis speaks in quick succession and while I recognize that Mitchell's surprisingly historically brilliant stream-of-consciousness narrative is genius, I did have trouble propelling at the frenetic pace she sets for the reader.   That is a fault on my part and on the side of my experience with the book and not a result of anything subpar in its authorship.  I also really like to sink into historical romances--the romantic thread being a massive part of the draw ---especially in CBA fiction-- and Griff, the all-american footballer has never been my favourite archetype.  The adventure to get Ellis to Griff and to the realization that she deserves his stalwart and loyal affection is where the action takes place: hiccuped with moments of the smooth-talking Jack Feeney.    For those with a penchant for the flapper era they will find such a competent undertaking of 20s verisimilitude. And I must, must, must, must commend Mitchell on her daring and colourful ADHD type of narration that skips happily, frantically along with enough speedbumps and whirls and dazzles to keep you on edge.   Also, a moment for the dialogue: for writers wanting to immerse themselves in dialogue--well-rendered, accurate dialogue and interesting use of dialogue tags---this book is a bit of a master class.

Ellis, in modern era America, would be diagnosed as having ADHD: an interesting character trait to pit against a clashing, clanging kaleidoscope of an era where she is immersed into the life of a telephone operator, covering for a friend.   It is through the filter of this profession, however easily she came by it, that she is drawn into a side of Boston her upbringing could never have prepared her for: speakeasies and corruption, legislations too often faltering under the loose convictions of the mayor. An era that promised Prohibition but a seedy underside where liquor ran rampant: fast cars, electric marquis lights, hollywood and crime---all wrapped up in a glossy bow.   The endgame is to once -and-for-all unite the lovers and lead Ellis to the realization that she is worthy of being cherished for all her faults and flaws.

Griff: Harvard type, well-bred, upstanding football player; is  the type of hero that Ellis needs. He is a stabilizer.

Yin. Yang.

Can we now have a moment to speak to the Mitchell canon in general?  Have we ever seen an author with such range?  Seriously? I have read every book of hers back to the beginning (excluding the most recent Iris Anthony) and I cannot believe that she is able to excavate not only fresh material but a fresh way of telling said material. Further, there are no Mitchell archetypes.  No two heroines are alike, no two stories are told in the same way and she views each historical period through a lens perfectly Siri-coloured. More still, she seems to have the tendency to hop around historical periods in her body of work as her heroine Ellis flits from thought-to-thought. Around the same time that Love Comes Calling  was released, her general-market counterpart, Iris Anthony, released The Miracle Thief and every aspiring author's jaw dropped because, sheesh! she's amazing.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Author Q and A: Melissa Tagg

Melissa is totally my real life friend and my facebook friend! I am very proud of BOTH of these things. I am also proud that she writes lovely books and enjoys such great success!!!!  I am halfway through Here to Stay and it reminds of the Gilmore Girls ( one of the many passions Melissa and I share). She has  been a wonderful encouragement to me and talks me off ledges! and is just a swell egg!

1.) What is the one thing that has surprised you most about the publishing process?

How much work there is to do after turning the book in. LOL! Galleys, rewrites, marketing, guest blogging and interviews, etc, etc, etc. But it’s fun, so I’m not complaining.

Actually, you know what else surprised me? How much I’ve come to crave the input of my editors. I’ve heard some writers talk disparagingly about getting that ten-page revision letter or not liking what they’re asked to change. My experience has been incredibly positive. The editors have never asked me to change the heart of the story…instead, they’ve helped me explore and deepen and expose that heart in new and improved ways. I know without a doubt that Here to Stay is a much, much better story because of their input. (By “their” I specifically mean Raela Schoenherr and Karen Schurrer at Bethany house.)

2.) A lot a LOT of reviewers hone in on how humorous your work is. Is this something that just happens as part of the process; or is it something you are aware of while writing?

Honestly, a little bit of both. My favorite is when a funny line or moment just slides into a scene without me seeing it coming—when it makes me laugh as much as I hope it makes a reader laugh.

But there are other times when I do work at the humor. I can think of specific pieces of Here to Stay, for instance, when I felt like either I had too many heavy or serious moments in a row or when a first attempt at a humorous scene fell flat…and I had to go back in and ask myself, “Where’s the opportunity for humor here? Where’s the funny in this situation?”

3.) What is the one piece of advice ( or more than one, we’re not picky ) you would give to aspiring writers?

First off, join a community. J One of the very, very, VERY best things I ever did for my writing was to join My Book Therapy. Also, find a partner! And you know, it doesn’t have to be a critique partner. My writing partner (the fabulous Lindsay Harrel) and I adapted as we realized even more than feedback, what we really needed was accountability. Someone with whom to share our goals, excitements, disappointments, prayer requests, etc. I don’t know what I’d do without Lindsay and her daily texts.

Also, embrace rewrites. Writing a first draft can be fun. (Or in my case, terrifying…but that’s my own fear-of-the-blank-page exposing itself.) But in my experience, it’s in the revision process where the real magic happens. It’s as we plunge into the deep end of our stories that we discover layers and spiritual pearls we didn’t see before.

Oh and lastly, trust God for open doors. I know…I know. It’s easy to say, especially on the other side of that first contract. But more and more I’m just that convinced that so much of life and faith comes down to trusting God. He can open the most amazing doors in the most amazing ways.

4.) If you could live in Stars Hollow for a day, what would be on your list of things to do?

I love this question!! Here’s what I’d do:

Obviously eat breakfast at Luke’s first thing. Assuming he and Lorelei are still a thing, I would, however, refrain from flirting with the man. Then I’d take a nice long walk around town…stop in and say hi to Miss Patty, Gypsy, Andrew at the bookstore, Kirk, Babette and Maurry, etc. Then I’d have lunch at the Dragonfly Inn prepared by the awesome Sookie during which I’d ask her and Jackson to have an arguing match about vegetables just for old times sake.

And then I’d begin my real quest of the day: Searching for grown-up Jess, finding him, making him fall madly in love with me, all the while snickering to myself about what a ridiculous person Rory is for not realizing what a good thing she had when she had it…er, him.

Another option: I would also be perfectly happy with Max, I think. So if we’re in Stars Hollow circa the early 2000s versus now, in which case Jess is still in high school, then instead, not being the cradle-robber type and still assuming Luke is taken, I would track down Max.

WOW. That became an intense and confusing answer… :)

5.) List three favourite CBA books

This is HARD because there are sooo many I love. So these are the first three that come to mind in this minute…but there are many, many more on my favorites list.

1) Kristy Cambron’s The Butterfly and the Violin. This book hasn’t even released yet, but I love it sooo much. It has a dual contemporary and WWII storyline. And it’s just…beautiful.

2) Susan May Warren’s Daughters of Fortune series. Totally cheating here and lumping all three books together. This series just blew me away…it starts in the 1920s and by the third book is up to WWII. I adored…adored…adored these books.

3) Just Between You and Me by Jenny B. Jones. Not only did I love the story and connect SO much to the main character, but it was really the first time I saw that humor could be a main ingredient in a CBA romance.


Friday, May 09, 2014

Author Interview: the GORGEOUS Amber Lynn Perry

I recently read the lyrical and romantic So Fair a Lady and knew I wanted to feature the lovely Amber Lynn Perry again on the blog. So lovely, she is, that she is the cover model on that book! what a fun fact!  So Fair a Lady is on TWO top 100 best-seller lists on amazon and it will leave you craving the next in the series, which Amber assures me is in progress :)   Amber is an author I have really come to respect. And a person whose fresh and gentle spirit just breathes through her words. She's a special one, friends :)

When did you first discover you had been bitten by the writing bug?

Fun question!! I think I first got the bug two years ago, but my story actually goes back a bit further. When I was about 13 I got this "great idea for a story!" I remember sitting in my purple beanbag chair, daydreaming and writing for hours about a girl, a Patriot and a British soldier--I just KNEW this story would be published some day. *hehehehe* But I quickly gave up the idea when I realized it was such hard work and I forgot all about those delightful imaginary friends. Fast forward almost twenty years when I discovered historical Christian romance books. Bless my romance-hungry soul! I hadn't known there was such a thing and I read as many as I could get into my greedy little fingers. It was shortly after that time that I remembered my good friends (AKA "characters") from back in junior high and I thought I'd like to try my hand at bringing them to life once again--this time with a bit more perseverance. *wink*

Your prose really floored me. I must confess to being absolutely impressed. Did you have any professional editing done?

Oh my goodness, that is so generous of you. *blushing* I'm not sure I deserve that, but it means a lot all the same, thank you.
Professional editing? Yes and no. As I prepared for publishing I worked with the always-fabulous Tina Radcliffe. She helped me make sure the plot was working and that I was following all the basic writing rules. (Because I was a completely-new-with-absolutely-no-experience-writer.) As for line edits, etc--that was done by none other than the very best: my mother. Seriously! My mom is amazing, and even with no degree in English and no experience in editing, she is fabulous! I will always trust my books with her. Period.

When did the characters first pop up in your head?
This goes back to question one. *teehee* I loved these people and spent entirely too much time thinking about them and how to ruin--and then fix--their lives. ;)

Did you craft the series outline at once when you were plotting the books, or just the first hoping the others would fall in place?
Just the first. I wanted to think my crazy and completely sudden passion for writing would go somewhere, but I couldn't be totally sure it would, so I didn't plan ahead. But thankfully the way it turned out, I have at least three more books in the works--all with connecting characters. (I can't wait to share these other characters with the world. So fun! .... At least for me. *wink*)

How long did the research take? I mean your dedication to research is evident :)
Oh boy. That's a good question! I've been obsessed with all things "American Revolution" and "colonial era" since I was young. I visited Boston when I was 15, and I thought I died and gone to heaven. I mean, you would have believed I got tickets to a New Kids On The Block concert--I was THAT excited. While we were there we drove around Cape Cod and I was particularly struck by a little town named Sandwich. Yeah, I kind of giggled too--I mean, a town named Sandwich? *teehee* I've never forgotten that profoundly lovely place and I knew I needed to set my story there-- I just didn't know how completely fabulous it would be considering the time period I wanted to write in. All around, I have been learning about and studying the Revolution for years. But don't ask me to tell you too many specific dates--I'm embarrassingly bad with dates. ;)

What are three of your favourite Christian historical books ?
Only three?!?! You're simply cruel. ;)
The very first one that comes to my mind is A BRIDE MOST BEGRUDGING, by Deeanne Gist. There's just something so wonderful about that story, I've never been able to forget it. The next, THE MEASURE OF A LADY, also by Gist--I could not get enough of that book! As for the third? I could go SO many different ways. But I think I would have to say A HEART REVEALED by Julie Lessman. That hero!!! Seriously though, as you know, there are just so many Ah-MAZING historical romances out there, its just so hard to pick only three. 

Visit Amber on the web

Thursday, May 08, 2014

I have written forever---but only really written in the last year

I have been writing since I was 6 or 7 years old.  I have a rubber maid container under my bed at my parents' house full of foolscap paper of long-hand stories. I have computer files full.   I have read thousands of books (hundreds and hundreds of those Inspirational fiction, the marketplace I would most like to publish in ) and I have written thousands and thousands of pages.

I have only ever completed two novels. The second just went out on submission and it is a terrifying thing.

It is gut-wrenchingly terrifying. In fact, I cannot express how terrifying it is. Near the completion of the book I gave myself stress hives, hyperventilated and developed an eye-twitch. On the one hand, it is nice to be so invested in my art, on the other ---crazy much?

If you don't have to write, don't do it.  Honestly, don't.  If you think it is fun to rip out your heart and put it on a platter and serve it with a side of your vulnerability to the world at large, then I guess...go for it.  But if you don't have to, don't.

If you, like, can't NOT write, then you have to. I can't NOT write. I have been scribbling forever.  It was only last year that I took the first steps toward pursuing publication and landing an agent.  Writing is such a necessity to me that I wrote stories and novels and ideas long before I even wrapped my head around what would happen if someone else read it.  Which makes me believe that I am doing this for the right reason. I am rational to the point of knowing that even if I am published someday, it is a good thing I have a day job and it is a good thing I have enjoyment of the craft without needing immediate validation.  For most of my life, NO ONE read my writing and I have spent many many many wonderful hours playing and puppeteering  and fostering and perfecting.

Once you jump that first hurdle: two wonderful things happen. 1.) if you keep your writing to yourself you never receive feedback--be it criticism or encouragement. The BEST criticism helped me shape my second novel ( much of it gleaned from the time editors took to comment on what made them pass on my first manuscript--- INVALUABLE) and the encouragement ( often found in the same emails, or from my agent, or from friends who I FINALLY let see the light into my Word World ) is wonderful. It propels you first.
2. ) You want to keep writing more and you want to keep writing better. The addiction is now manic and you are obsessed with crafting and creating and testing and travailing.

Yes, you will be passed on ( I changed the wording of this because I internalize the word 'rejection.'  The editors who passed on my project were kind enough to shroud it in polite and professional manners. Not ONE was a "NO RACHEL IS A TERRIBLE WRITER, BE GONE WITH YOU. NEVER COME BACK *Slams Door*" I can't think of those emails as rejections, merely a puzzle piece that isn't fitting. Because of  a first round of passes from several places, I have ripped off the band-aid, and while I am sure there are days of red wine and chocolate ahead of me, I know what to expect because I have felt it.

Yes, you will have to be resilient.  When my first manuscript was not contracted, I didn't sit and weep over it. Instead, I used my online connections, my agent's savvy wisdom and ACFW conference appointments to brainstorm where my passion might filter next.  Thus, I have written two completely different historical novels in the course of year.  One was written in just over two drafts, the second 13 ! 13 drafts! *baffling*

I was able to find an agent very quickly ( the first one I queried and my first choice----writers hate me for this, mea culpa ) but the waiting for everything else is a look-up-and-a-year-has-passed situation. And yet I didn't sit around for any part of that. And if it takes another one year or two years or five years, I will keep writing until the right puzzle piece matches the changing market.

I am willing to do that because I am that invested.

All of this being said, it is still a nerve-wracking process and if I had undertaken it any earlier than the past year and a bit, I would not have been emotionally or confidently ready.  The years of my mom (#1 fan) and high school teachers and friends and colleagues and authors who read my blog who told me to finally show someone my stuff would have been wasted. I wouldn't have been able to handle the tenuous nature of the adventure I am still uphill climbing.

Alpine Path, y'all.

I have grown more as a writer and a person since the moment I sent a query letter ( nervously and with a major mistake on it ) and I cannot look back at the first bit of this journey and not be grateful.

Most wonderfully, I have met so many new friends---yes, flesh and blood friends---but also book friends.  Lovely fictional people whose voices I hear in my head and whose lives I want to paint on page .It's fun. They're my little doll-house people and I spring them to breathing life, move and position them and make them talk in an unending Barbie-doll-like scenario not unlike my playtime as a kid.

I love reading people's writing stories and I hope you like reading mine :-)

Tuesday, May 06, 2014



Had an INSANE week last week with my sister's wedding and all of that stuff: bachelorette, rehearsal, etc.,

Saw We Will Rock You and that was fun!

Also, reviewed A Table by the Window for Novel Crossing 

and was featured in the Great Films of 1939 series for Breakpoint about Love Affair

Tonight is the Mindy finale :-)