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Interview with Author Lori Benton (Plus Give-away!)

Tue, 2017-09-12 05:34 -- Jocelyn Green
It's my great pleasure to have author Lori Benton here today! Lori was raised east of the Appalachian Mountains, surrounded by early American history going back three hundred years. Her novels transport readers to the eighteenth century, where she brings to life the Colonial and early Federal periods of American history. When she isn’t writing, reading, or researching, Lori enjoys exploring and photographing the Oregon wilderness with her husband. She is the author of Burning Sky, recipient of three Christy Awards, The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn; Christy nominee The Wood's Edge; A Flight of Arrows; and Many Sparrows. *Please note: Since Lori hails from Oregon, this is a great reminder to us to keep praying for the fires in the Northwest to be contained, and for all the communities affected, from residents to wildlife to first responders. Thank you! Before we get to her interview, here is the blurb for her new release, Many Sparrows: When settler Clare Inglesby is widowed on a mountain crossing and her young son, Jacob, captured by Shawnees, she'll do everything in her power to get him back, including cross the Ohio River and march straight into the presence of her enemies deep in Indian country. Frontiersman and adopted Shawnee, Jeremiah Ring, promises to guide Clare through the wilderness and help her recover Jacob. Once they reach the Shawnees and discover Jeremiah's own Shawnee sister, Rain Crow, has taken custody of Jacob--renaming him Many Sparrows--keeping his promise becomes far more complicated, the consequences more wrenching, than Jeremiah could have foreseen. I had the privilege of reading an early copy, and here's my take on the novel:  Stunning. Many Sparrows is everything I want in a book: settings that spring to life, characters I love, rich historical context, heart-wrenching drama, timeless spiritual insights, and prose that reads like poetry. Lori Benton handles the conflicted eighteenth-century with sensitivity in this tender tale of hope and fear, faith and doubt, of loss and new life. Truly, an inspired masterpiece sure to stir the soul. (Psst! You can read the first two chapters here!) My chat with Lori is below. Give us a glimpse into your research process. Is there any aspect of it which may surprise your readers?  LORI: I think readers would likely find my research more mundane than surprising. It consists mainly of pouring through stacks of books, taking notes, and creating a historical timeline when necessary. For Many Sparrows that timeline was crucial. It ended up being about 30 pages long, single-spaced, but it kept me from a lot of hair-pulling and rewriting/replotting as I worked to weave my characters’ stories in and out of dozens of historical events that occurred in the summer and autumn of 1774. That makes a lot of sense, and I operate the same way. A 30-page timeline, though? You have me beat, there! :) I love seeing the photographs you take and share on Facebook! Do you have any of the part of the country where Many Sparrows is set? LORI: I don’t often get to visit the settings of my novels while I’m writing, because I live 3000 miles away in Oregon! But for Many Sparrows I did. I journeyed back east and, together with novelist J. M. Hochstetler, traveled around Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, visiting sites we both wanted to research for our historical novels in progress.   Below is a photo of the area of Ohio where Cornstalk’s town and that of his sister, Nonhelema, once stood. The next photo shows a bend in Scippo Creek that ran between Cornstalk’s Town and Nonhelema’s Town. The photo below captures wildflowers growing along Yellow Creek, where it empties into the Ohio River. One of the surprises I encountered was our visit to the Point Pleasant battle memorial, on the point of land where the Kanawha River joins the Ohio, in West Virginia. There’s a walkway along the Ohio there bordered by a spectacular mural of the history of that area, including the battle that took place in October of 1774, and scenes depicting Shawnee life and culture. Below are some samples of this sprawling mural. Those photos are fantastic, and I'm delighted you made the trip with J.M Hochstetler! She is another favorite author of mine. If you were to make Many Sparrows into a movie, who would you cast to play the hero and heroine, and why? LORI: As early as possible in the writing process I like to find a model or actor who resembles my main characters. The choice is important. Something about the actor or model bleeds into who that character becomes on the page for me. I know this because I once switched actors midway through the writing process, when I found someone who looked more like the character than my original choice. Soon after, the character took on new layers and depths. I’m still amazed that happened. Maybe it’s like what an actor brings to their role on stage. The character they play is still the character on the page, but it’s also a blend of who the actor is. Just like an author pours herself out on the page, so too an actor brings something of herself to each role she plays. Apparently she does so even when she has no idea she’s been cast in a role in my story! For Clare Inglesby I chose Katheryn Winnick. In the roles I’ve seen her play, Katheryn embodies Clare’s strong-willed toughness, as well as the vulnerability that toughness hides. For Jeremiah Ring I’d cast Noah Wylie, as he looked in the series Falling Skies. Bearded! It wasn’t until I mentally cast him in the role that I nailed down my best description of him, given to the reader by Clare as they sit by a trail-side fire, early in their acquaintance. That is fascinating! I loved checking out your Pinterest board for the novel. The visuals are wonderful! I remember when you were in the writing process of Many Sparrows, you called this book your problem child. Can you explain why that was, and how you disciplined this problem child manuscript into shape? LORI: Oh boy, this book was so much harder to write than I expected it would be. For the longest time I simply couldn’t connect to my main character, Clare. I couldn’t get to the heart of what made her tick. I kept halting the writing process to mull her over, brainstorm ideas, trying anything I could to figure her out. Two things helped. As I mentioned above, she’s the characters I “recast” midway through the writing process. When I did, I began to get a better sense of why she was struggling so in her issues of trust and surrender. The second thing that helped me understand Clare was giving her nemesis, Rain Crow, more attention. When I stopped the writing process to really delve into this Shawnee woman’s back story, and figure out what her motivations and needs were, certain aspects of Clare’s deepest longings came into sharper focus. Writing is a mysterious process and no two books have come together for me in exactly the same way. Sometimes you have to keep trying this and that until you find what works. In that way they are like children! Other than that, this book got written on the wings of many prayers, my own and others. I know the Lord stepped in and helped, as He always does. I couldn’t write a novel without Him. My inadequacies are a bottomless well. But so is His grace, mercy, and help in time of need. I think most of us authors feel exactly the same way, that we are inadequate, but God is faithful to pour into our lack. What are you reading right now?  LORI: Finding time to read anything not work related is a challenge, but I usually have a book or two going. More if I can find them on audio. Right now I’m reading the latest installment of the Isabel Dalhousie series by Alexander McCall Smith. I recently read The Maggie Bright, a novel of Dunkirk by Tracy Groot (loved it, then went and saw the movie, Dunkirk and knew what was going on). Tracy Groot is one of my favorite authors. I'm a big fan of Tracy Groot, too! Thank you so much for being here, Lori!  Many Sparrows is available now at your local bookstore, ChristianBook, Baker Book House, Barnes & Noble, and Amazon. Visit Lori Benton at her Web site here. The Give-Away *UPDATE: The give-away is now closed. Congratulations to Diane Bell for winning, and thank you to all who entered! Lori is generously offering to one lucky commenter (U.S. only), a signed copy of Many Sparrows and the special gift she created to go with this book,  a companion photo book with quotes. It’s a hardback book she created with landscape photos interspersed with quotes from Many Sparrows. To enter, please leave a comment for Lori below, telling her one thing you enjoyed learning from this interview. I'll choose a winner at random on September 20, and notify the winner via email. The winner has three days to respond before I select a different winner.

Free to Lean Back-to-School Give-away

Sun, 2017-09-03 14:19 -- Jocelyn Green
Well, Labor Day is behind us and students are back in school. My kids are in third and sixth grades this year, and my husband is in graduate school while also working full-time at a university library. But learning isn't just for classrooms, is it? In fact, whether we realize it or not, all of us are being taught via hundreds of messages every day. Take a look at the bullets below and see if any of them sound familiar to you: You can and should do it all. Everyone else is doing it all. You need to be more balanced. Slowing down your pace is a sign of laziness. Your value is based on what you produce. Saying "no" to a request on your time is selfish. I could go on, but that list is getting a little depressing! For the record, every one of those statements above is false. But too many of us buy into them, which only leads to guilt and shame, and a striving after wrong priorities. Friends, it's time we all go back to school on this idea of balance. Cynthia is right (in the video above). If you're a believer, your purpose is far bigger than "balance." Free to Lean applies to any woman who is weary of striving for that unattainable notion, and is ready for the peace that comes with following God-led priorities. That could be a mother of small children, a college student, a company executive, a pastor’s wife, a caregiver for elderly parents—anyone! It doesn’t matter if you’re married, single, with or without children, or what you do during the day. If you’re tired of trying to do it all, sister, this book is for you. You can read more about the book here, but I'd love for you take a moment or two and see what other women had to say after reading it themselves. Below you'll find four different women sharing what they personally took away from Free to Lean. For more Free to Lean videos, see my PlayList on YouTube here. Friend, I hope you'll find a copy of Free to Lean for yourself. You won't be hearing just from me within the pages, but from more than fifty other women I interviewed for this project, and of course, from God's Word, too. He has plenty to say about how we order our days. The Give-Away I'm so excited about this Free to Lean Give-away! One luck winner will receive everything you see in the package below. A Free to Lean notebook, two Free to Lean post-it notepads, a bunch of bookmarks, two purple pens (my very favorite writing utensil) and a mug which says, "God never asked us to do it all." To enter the drawing, please use the Rafflecopter form below. (If you do not see the form, you can click here to be taken to it on a separate Web page instead.) A winner will be drawn and notified Monday, October 2. The winner will have three days to respond with a mailing address before I select a runner-up.  

Behind The Sword of the Matchmaker by Debbie Lynne Costello

Sat, 2017-06-10 10:31 -- Jocelyn Green
Today I'm happy to welcome to the blog author Debbie Lynne Costello, in celebration of her new medieval novella release, Sword of the Matchmaker! She is giving away a copy of either Sword of the Matchmaker of her novel Sword of Forgiveness (winner's choice of title and format). Leave a comment or answer one of the questions at the end of this post OR ask her a question to be entered.     PLUS Debbie Lynne is also giving away a choice of a kindle fire with Sword of the Matchmaker or a $50 Amazon Gift Card, $15 Amazon gift card and much more! Hop over to her blog post here to read a review of her book and to enter that give-away. (You can still enter a give-away here by simply leaving a comment.) Without further ado, here is Debbie Lynne! Have you ever wondered if it is true that we're taller than our predecessors? I've read and heard that our ancestors were short and just assumed that meant every generation before us, but that just isn't the case. According to The Year 1000 by Robert Lacey & Danny Danziger, one of the first things noticed about people living in or around the year 1000 is they were tall--very much like we are today. The truth is we are taller than most of our more recent ancestors (1700-1900). Georgian and Victorian England residents, who were malnourished and overcrowded, did not have the good health or the stature by the end of the twentieth century that we share today with our access to food and medicine. So when we picture those knights in shining armor as tall and muscular, good news, you are correct! According to Lacy & Danzinger, nine out of ten people lived in the country. A lush green and unpolluted land that provided plentiful food and nourishment, allowing the medieval man to grow strong limbs and very healthy teeth. So that knight who is the hero, guess what? He really does have a full set of white teeth! If these people were so healthy one would think they'd live as long as we do, but here the differences are drastic. Life was short. A simple cut or wound could take a person's life. In the medieval time period, an illness or childhood disease that today we can stop with a visit to the doctor could spread like a fire and wipe out a whole village. Because of this, a boy of twelve years of age was considered old enough to swear an oath to the king. Young girls were married off in their early teens to much older men. Life expectancy was almost half of what it is today. Most people died in their forties, and for a person to reach into their fifties was quite impressive and they were revered. Life for the average person was hard, but pretty simple. There obviously wasn't the local grocery or clothing stores for running down to get the needed item as we have today. That being said, television often depicts the medieval man like he only wore brown clothes and lived in a drab world. But that couldn't be farther from the truth. They may not have had the rich dyes that produce the vibrant colors we have today, but that didn't keep them from having colored clothes. They used vegetation to dye fabric and with those dyes they were able to produce bright yellows, greens, and reds. Speaking of grocery stores, what do you think might be a valuable food commodity in the year 1000? This food was considered so valuable it was even used to pay taxes. The food was honey. The 11th century man was known to say, It is a lucky day when a swarm of bees settled in your thatch. Thatch of course being what the medieval person used as a roof. For those who were lucky enough to have a swarm in their roof, not only received honey, but propolis, a building material, that is a reddish resin used by the worker bees. Propolis was a great healing balm used for treating wounds and was highly valued. But those bees nesting in the home owner's thatch, not only gave the owner honey and propolis, but the beeswax brought an even higher price than an equal amount of honey. I love the medieval time period, although I don't believe I'd like to have lived during that time. Life was hard. But it is a fun time period to write about. Most medieval authors take writer liberties such as, our heroes and heroines isn't depicted quite as hard as it most likely was, and our heroines are not young teen girls marrying thirty year old men.  So what do you think? Would you rather have writers take a few liberties and make their hero and heroine, an exception to the rule, or would you prefer to see history portrayed exactly as it was? The next stop in Debbie Lynne's blog tour will be on Anne Payne's blog on June 13. About Sword of the Matchmaker Penelope Beatty made up her mind long ago she would live and die a Scottish warrior not a wife. But when nearly all her clan is killed and she is betrayed, she loathes doing the unthinkable, but must seek the help of an Englishman who owed her father’s his life. Thomas Godfrey never married, but when a Scottish warrior lass shows up needing his aid, he finds her both annoying and irresistible. But the last thing he wants is to marry a woman who fights alongside him. If he was going to marry—which he isn’t—it would be to a soft, submissive woman. But when the Lady Brithwin meets the Scottish lass, she’s sure she’s found the perfect match for Thomas and nothing is going to stop her from seeing a summer wedding.                  Purchase Here More Medieval Fiction Love Medieval Stories? Read the first book in the Winds of Change Series, Sword of Forgiveness. After the death of her cruel father, Brithwin is determined never again to live under the harsh rule of any man. Independent and resourceful, she longs to be left alone to manage her father’s estate. But she soon discovers a woman has few choices when the king decrees she is to marry Royce, the Lord of Rosencraig. As if the unwelcome marriage isn’t enough, her new husband accuses her of murdering his family, and she is faced with a challenge of either proving her innocence or facing possible execution. Royce of Hawkwood returns home after setting down a rebellion to find his family brutally murdered. When all fingers point to his betrothed and attempts are made on his life, Royce must wade through murky waters to uncover the truth. Yet Brithwin’s wise and kind nature begin to break down the walls of his heart, and he soon finds himself in a race to discover who is behind the evil plot before Brithwin is the next victim. Purchase Here About the Author Debbie Lynne Costello has enjoyed writing stories since she was eight years old. She raised her family and then embarked on her own career of writing the stories that had been begging to be told. She and her husband have four children and live in upstate South Carolina. She has worked in many capacities in her church and is currently the Children's Director. Debbie Lynne has shown and raised Shetland Sheepdogs for eighteen years and still enjoys litters now and then. In their spare time, she and her husband take pleasure in camping and riding their Arabian and Tennessee Walking horses. Connect with Debbie Lynne! www.debbielynnecostello.com www.theswordandspirit.blogspot.com www.HHHistory.com https://www.facebook.com/debbielynnecostello https://twitter.com/DebiLynCostello https://www.pinterest.com/debbielynne1/ https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9458076.Debbie_Lynne_Costello https://plus.google.com/u/0/+DebbieLynneCostello https://smile.amazon.com/Debbie-Lynne Costello/e/B00TRT6RYS/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1494110062&sr=8-2

Signed Bookplates: Free to First Forty

Sat, 2017-03-18 08:46 -- Jocelyn Green
Thank you so much to all who participated in our Blog Hop Give-aways for The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection! The winners have been drawn and notified via email.  My co-authors and I have been blown away by the response to this novella collection. Listen to what just a few readers have been saying: "Each and every one of these stories is uniquely different and yet perfectly part of a whole; creating absolute pleasure within its pages and utter satisfaction for its readers." ~Rebecca Maney "Sometimes in novella collections there may be one or two stories that don't quite equal the others. Not so in this one. I found them all to be delightful. If you enjoy historical romance, this is a book for you." ~Pam K. "These books do not read like short stories. They were just good novels under one cover. I loved each character and felt their heartbeat of love and hope as I read."  ~Brenda Murphree Thank you to all who have read and reviewed this book! Reviews are so important and helpful for both the book and for potential readers.  If you have your own copy of the book, I'd love to send you a custom-made bookmark and a bookplate signed by all five of us. I have a limited number to send out, so it's a first-come, first-served basis. All you need to do is email me (jocelyn[at]jocelyngreen[dot]com) with a picture of you and your book, or it could be your book with your pet, or your book in your favorite reading spot. Be sure to let me know if I can share that photo on social media, and please include your mailing address, as well. (Those of you who already sent me these items after receiving my e-newsletter--your goodies are in the mail!) If you haven't gotten your own copy of the book yet, good news: I just noticed it's 40% off at Amazon, BarnesandNoble, and ChristianBook. (Also consider shopping at your own local bookstore!) I'll keep this drawing open until the end of April. Thank you, readers!  

Message in a Bottle Book Launch and Give-away! (Blog Hop Stop #5)

Mon, 2017-02-27 11:14 -- Jocelyn Green
Flames lapped at the monk’s robes. He raced down the corridors that crackled with the collision of dampness and heat, dodging fire-lit debris. So this was to be the end, then. The night the stones of Ballyfir Monastery would tell their last tale… So begins the tale of a humble monk, his unwavering courage, and the bronze bottle he sends into the night with a prayer that its contents might bring hope—the very word etched into the bottle—to someone, somewhere. The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection follows the journey of that same bottle throughout the centuries in five novellas. It travels the world and touches hearts… and today, we’d like to invite you along for that journey. Would you care to come along with us for a look behind the scenes in this short five-stop blog tour? At each stop, one of the five co-authors will interview another, to take you chronologically through the novella collection and unwrap some fun bonus material. Joanne is kicking us off with an interview of Heather, who wrote the first novella in the collection.  Oh! And don’t miss the chance to enter the giveaway (more information at the bottom of this post). Thank you for joining us, friends! Go Behind the Scenes with Joanne Bischof I'm delighted to be hosting Joanne on my blog today! I'm sure many of you already know and love her work, including her most recent full-length historical romance, The Lady and the Lionheart. Joanne Bischof has a deep passion for Appalachian culture and writing stories that shine light on God’s grace and goodness. She lives in the mountains of Southern California. When she’s not weaving Appalachian romance, she’s blogging about faith, folk music, and the adventures of country living that bring her stories to life. She is a Christy Award-finalist and author of Be Still My Soul, Though My Heart is Torn, and My Hope is Found (WaterBrook Multnomah).  1) Did you learn anything new in the research for The Swelling Sea? Joanne: I learned a lot about rowboats in the Victorian era! It seems such a small thing but rowing plays such a large role in this story that getting the details as correct as possible was really key. Feeling really outside of my element, I read articles about the different types of boats available during that time—both for leisure rowing, and for sport, which is what the team of four young men in this novella do. I also studied up on which colleges did or didn’t have a crew team in 1890. I watched dozens of videos on the sport and the techniques involved from rower positions to signals and calls. A friend who’s a rower helped me immensely with the details and what began as one of the biggest challenges of the research ended up being a really special collaboration. 2) What makes your heroine unique in this story? Joanne: I’d say definitely her memory loss. During a near-drowning, she suffered from oxygen asphyxiation as a child and has never fully recovered. Her symptoms not only included her having to relearn how to use some of her motor skills on one side of her body, but working on regaining her memory—and as the story plays out—learning to make peace with the possibility of not regaining some memories at all. Her personality is a lot of fun because she gets confused easily and it’s rather endearing. She’s also strong and determined, so she doesn’t let it beat her. I think it’s one of the reasons why the hero, Jonas, is first taken with her. She’s very unique and that made her a fun heroine to get to write. 3) What kind of role does the setting play in The Swelling Sea?  Joanne: The setting is a big one as the novella is set at the historic Hotel Del Coronado. As a native southern California girl, Coronado Island is one of my favorite places to visit. It’s just a two-hour drive from where we live and any excuse to head that way is worth it. Crossing over the great bridge is a magical experience and seeing the grand Hotel Del which was built in 1888 is even more special. I’ve visited it many times and each time, get to discover new nooks and crannies of the hotel. It’s iconic enough to have been filmed in “Some Like it Hot” alongside Marilyn Monroe, and has housed many famous actors and actresses as well as 14 US presidents from Taft to Kennedy. Walking its halls and corridors, and standing upon its beach is like experiencing a whimsical part of Victorian-era history. I hope that as readers discover it within Jonas and Rosie’s story, they’ll understand the magic pull it has and why I return to that place time and time again. 4) How does writing for a collection differ from writing your individual novels/novellas? Joanne: It differs in the sense that we all have a common thread to stick to. With this series, of course, the bottle, and what a fun one it was! What made this collection extra unique, is that it begins with a unified prologue and ends with an epilogue, both which tie the stories all together. The bottle also travels from novella to novella, so there is a commonality touching the hands and lives of all our characters. That made it really special. Not only for the stories themselves, but for getting to work that closely with the other authors. 5) Any lessons or elements of encouragement you hope the reader will take away from your novella? Joanne: This was the first time that I didn’t think I would be able to complete a deadline. Due to some personal trials, the writing for this novella was easily harder than any other story I’ve written. When I was near to giving up (and my agent and co-authors were rallying around me) what happened is that I began to simply write my heart right into the tale. Like Rosie, I didn’t have it all together, but like her, I wanted to cling to the promise that there is always hope. It was such a gift from the Lord, that amid my own struggles, I got to be a part of this collection centered around that one, incredible word. HOPE. My greatest wish for this story is to bring that very reminder to readers who might be going through their own trials or struggles. That it would be a reminder that we’re never alone, and the world is a large place filled with hurting people who struggle just like us. It’s a comfort in knowing that we walk shoulder to shoulder with so many others.   The Giveaway  Thank you for being here! If you haven’t had a chance yet, do hop over and enter this hope-themed giveaway, which we hope will be a blessing to our readers. Top 3 Reasons to enter: We want to celebrate you! We’re so thankful for our readers, and this giveaway is one way we’d like to thank you. Super quick and easy giveaway form—as simple as entering your name and e-mail, then clicking through to submit! As you’ll see, there is a chance for additional entries, but it’s entirely optional. …you could win a wee plot o’ land in Ireland! Not to mention this. . . And the . . . This was the final stop in our Message in a Bottle 5-stop blog hop! (Psst, if you missed my interview on Maureen Lang's blog, you can find it here.) If you’re just now joining us, do stop by Joanne’s post. She kicked us off with a wonderful interview with Heather and we’re so excited to share some behind-the-scenes fun from each story with you. Thank you for joining us! (One final note: If your comment doesn't appear on my blog at first, never fear. They will wait for me to moderate and approve them, which I will do as often as I can. Thank you for your patience with me on this, as I am finishing up my next novel this week, as well!)  

Give-Away Winners Announced!

Tue, 2017-02-07 15:53 -- Jocelyn Green
I'm pleased to announce the winners from my recent The Mark of the King five-book giveaway and blog tour. Thanks to everyone who entered! Congratulations to the winners: Mary Tullila, Vera Godley, Elisabeth Kim, Nikki McComas, and Susan Heim. My publicists from Litfuse Publicity Group will be in touch via email with details on how to claim your prize. You can also email your mailing address to info {at} litfusegroup {dot} com. Congrats!

Double Give-Away with Laura Frantz!

Tue, 2016-12-13 16:27 -- Jocelyn Green
I'm so delighted to share a release date with one of my favorite authors, Laura Frantz, whose book A Moonbow Night launches on January 3 right alongside The Mark of the King! To celebrate the "birthday" of both our eighteenth-century-set books, we are teaming up to give one lucky winner a set of both new releases! (Details on how to enter at the end of this post.) Here's the blurb for A Moonbow Night: Her wilderness survival skills are without rival.  But her greatest talent is keeping other people's secrets. After fleeing Virginia, Temperance Tucker and her family established an inn along the Shawnee River. It's a welcome way station for settlers and frontiersmen traveling through the wild Cumberland region of Kentucke--men like Sion Morgan, a Virginia surveyor who arrives at the inn with his crew, looking for an experienced guide.  Though he balks when Tempe is appointed to lead his team through the wilderness, it isn't long before Sion must admit that her abilities may outmatch his own. But can the tenuous tie they are forming survive the dangers waiting just around the bend? With her signature sweeping style and ability to bring the distant past to vivid life, Laura Frantz beckons you to join her in a land of Indian ambushes, conflicting loyalties, and a tentative love that meanders like a cool mountain stream. And the blurb for The Mark of the King: Life in This New World Requires More Strength Than She Ever Imagined After the death of her client, midwife Julianne Chevalier is imprisoned and branded, marking her as a criminal beyond redemption. Hoping to reunite with her brother, a soldier, she trades her life sentence for exile to the fledgling French colony of Louisiana. The price of her transport, however, is a forced marriage to a fellow convict.  New Orleans is nothing like Julianne expects. The settlement is steeped in mud and mosquitoes, and there is no news of her brother, Benjamin. When tragedy strikes, she turns to military officer Marc-Paul Girard for help, but does he know more about her brother than he will admit?  With her dreams shattered, Julianne must find her way in this dangerous land, where only grace--and love--can overcome the stigma of the king's mark upon her shoulder. Now, if you're already familiar with Laura Frantz and love her writing, the good news is that RT Reviews says you'll love The Mark of the King too! :)  What an honor! Some books just immerse the reader in the setting, and I think Laura's novels are all excellent examples of that. What is it about a book that makes you feel like you are "right there" with the characters? Leave a comment answering the question, and you'll be entered in the drawing! You may enter by commenting either here, or on Laura's blog. Your entry will be counted either way! *Enter by the end of Dec. 31. The winner will be announced on release day, January 3!   Bonus: Free Gift within Moments! Psst! If you're new around here, welcome! I'm so glad you've stopped by. Did you know that when you subscribe to my e-newslsetter, you'll receive a FREE Christian Historical Fiction Travel Guide? Plus, you'll be part of an exclusive mailing list that is the first to hear about new book releases. It's only mailed one to three times a year, depending on how many books I have coming out. Ready to subscribe and receive your free gift? Do it here. Thank you! (You'll get the link free link once you confirm from your email inbox that you really want to subscribe.)
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FREE Christmas Tale with Guest Post by Author Amanda Dykes

Mon, 2016-11-21 10:00 -- Jocelyn Green
I'm so delighted to hand over this blog space to author Amanda Dykes in just a moment. I've gotten to know her over the course of the past year or two as we have worked together on The Message in a Bottle Romance Collection, a set of five novellas written by the two of us, along with Joanne Bischof, Heather Day Gilbert, and Maureen Lang. This month, Amanda is gifting all of us with a free ebook of her Christmas novellette, Bespoke, so I invited her to come tell us about it. Below, she shares straight from her heart... I’m staring at this screen, at the carefully-laid plans for this blog post that I’ve been adding to all week, and wondering why it won’t come together. The plan is in my head, but I can’t lasso the words long enough to capture them. So I think—if it’s alright with you, I’ll just gently lay those plans aside, and instead share with you my heart. Here goes… A few years back, I wrote a story about a girl (Aria) and her father (Giovanni St. John). A tale of the tender but scarred terrain of their lives and the unexpected beauty found there in the brokenness. There are other things too—bicycles, blacksmithery, a secret symphony, a bundle of Christmas wonder… but looking at it right now, it’s that idea of the scarred terrain, destined for redemption, etched in my thoughts. You see, and I’ll mention this corner of my life just briefly only in order to share a little about where I’m coming from—parts of it hit home very closely for me this season. I’m living just such a story of a girl (me) and her father (who went home to Heaven this autumn). I’m not Aria, and my father was nothing like Giovanni St. John (other than being musically brilliant), but losing my Dad has my thoughts freshly rooting into the idea of redemption and beauty in the midst of heartbreak. Broken places heal, this I know. And the scars left behind tell stories. Of what happened, yes. But also—maybe even more than that? Of the One who knit that torn place back together, fashioned something beautiful of it. Long about the middle of that Christmas tale, there’s one little line that holds the heartbeat of the story: “…scars are places made strong again. They don’t function like they did before, but they’re strong for something. Something that matters.” (From Bespoke: a Tiny Christmas Tale) I got curious about that little word, “scar”, and looked it up. It’s from the Greek word eskhara, which literally means “hearth, fireplace”. A hearth—a holder of comfort, life, warmth. Could our scars—seen and unseen—embody such things? Could the most shattered places in our lives, when cradled in the scarred hands our Healer-God, be the places that offer the most comfort and hope to others if we dare to let Him use us in that way? Pondering these things, it struck me this morning as I was reading, and happened upon this quote: “…somehow there is good brokenness that grows out of every scar and wound we will ever suffer.” (Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way, p. 56). It’s the age-old, everlasting story of transformation and redemption, which I—and maybe you, too?-- am holding fast to it this year. It was my greatest hope when I wrote Bespoke that the tale of unlikely transformation might point to the greatest story of all eternity: God’s redemption in our lives. After all… Aria and James may have made something beautiful from something broken in the story, but we… we get to live the real miracle of beauty for ashes. “[He will]…bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes…” Isaiah 61:3 Bespoke: a Tiny Christmas Tale is a free download for just a few days more--until the end of November.--at Amazon, BarnesandNoble, and other retailers. If you’ve already downloaded it, I do so hope you’ll enjoy spending a wintry afternoon warming your heart by the Blacksmith’s forge or the Silent House’s hearth, listening in on the fishermen’s Christmas concert at Trouble Cliff. And if you haven’t had a chance to grab the book yet, may I invite you in to this enchanting Victorian island in the English Channel for a tale of hope and healing? The symphony is waiting… About Amanda: Amanda Dykes is a drinker of tea, a dweller of Truth, and a spinner of hope-filled tales. An emerging voice in Christian fiction, her novelette, Bespoke: a Tiny Christmas Tale, released to critical acclaim from Publishers Weekly, Readers’ Favorite, and more. She’s especially excited to be a part of the Message in a Bottle Romance Collection releasing this March, right alongside Jocelyn and four other incredibly talented co-authors!  

Easy Peasy Give-away of 55+ Inspy Novels!

Tue, 2016-11-15 14:49 -- Jocelyn Green
As we get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving, I want you all to know that I am thankful for you! So I’ve teamed up with more than 55 fantastic inspirational historical romance authors to give away a huge collection of novels, PLUS a Kindle Fire to one lucky winner! You can win my novel Spy of Richmond, plus books from authors like Connilyn Cossette, Elizabeth Camden, Kristi Ann Hunter, Michelle Griep, Roseanna White, Melanie Dickerson, Suzanne Woods Fisher, and more! This is the easiest drawing to enter I've ever seen. It will take less than a minute--maybe less than 30 seconds!  Enter the giveaway by clicking here: bit.ly/historical-inspy Good luck!

Interview with Amelia Rhodes + Giveaway!

Fri, 2016-11-04 16:13 -- Jocelyn Green
Happy Release Week to Amelia Rhodes for her new book Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community! My copy of this book is already well-loved. Whether you’re a seasoned prayer warrior or just beginning to talk to God, Pray A to Z is guaranteed to bring new meaning to your prayer life. Profound in its simplicity, this book is an invaluable tool to keep us in conversation with God, and to keep the needs of others at the forefront of our minds. Because we pray to a God who answers, I can’t wait to see how this book changes the world around us. Amelia is here to answer a few questions for us today, and her publisher has generously offered a free copy of Pray A to Z to TWO winners! (Details on the giveaway after the interview.) Q: Pray A to Z is not an instruction book on the mechanics of prayer, but rather a guide to praying for one’s community, born from your personal experiences. Where did the idea of praying from A to Z come from? One day within the span of a few hours, I received phone calls and text messages from a number of friends who were all dealing with very heavy struggles. Each one asked me to pray for them.  Of course, I said I would, but at that point I recognized how often I fail to follow through on praying long-term for people. As I prayed that day, I also asked God to help me with my prayer life. I realized how many people I knew were struggling with the same types of things — adoptions, cancer, marriages. The idea of praying by topic seemed natural, and then I decided to see if I could make an A to Z list of all the needs and struggles facing our communities today.  Q: You lead readers in praying through the alphabet for their community, but there are more than just 26 topics in this book. Share with us how the book is structured and how you have organized the individual letters. Each letter features prayers and prompts on five topics. Three topics for each letter focus on prayers of petition, and two focus on praise. So we pray about adoptions, abuse and alcoholism and then praise God for His abundance and that He is almighty. We pray for marriages, missionaries and ministers and those in the military while praising God for His majesty and mercy. Q: Why did you feel it important to include aspects of praise and adoration, rather than having only need-based topics? The needs get heavy and overwhelming. I found that incorporating praise brings the focus back to our great God. Praising Him helps us recognize how every need we have is met in who God is. Q: What are some of the prayer needs you cover in the book? I covered the needs of families in our communities, such as foster families, special needs families, pregnancy crises, raising children, marriages, divorce, adoption and infertility. I also take a look at many of the justice issues facing our societies today, including prejudice, homelessness, hunger, human trafficking, refugees and violence. The prayers also include topics related to how we interact with our communities, including generosity, kindness, estranged relationships, joy, obedience to God, vanity and our yearnings. Q: Why is it hard for us to pray with focused intention for the requests of those around us? Our world has become increasingly chaotic, with an endless stream of chatter and alerts from our tech devices. Every week the news reports more heartbreaking tragedies. I find with so many things calling for my attention, it can be easy to let prayer get squeezed out of the day. Sometimes I just don’t know where to begin, or I can’t find the words to express the ache in my soul. My heart and mind often jump from need to need. Writing and then reading these prayers and verses has become a starting place to bring my focused attention to God in prayer for my community. About Amelia: Amelia Rhodes lives in Michigan with her husband and two children. Amelia encourages women to discover who they are in Christ and to deepen their relationships with each other. She is the author of Pray A to Z: A Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community (Worthy Inspired, 2016) and Isn't it Time for a Coffee Break? Doing life together in an all-about-me kind of world. Her writing has also been featured in Chicken Soup for the Soul, The Upper Room, and GEMS' Girls Clubs.  Connect with her online at www.ameliarhodes.com. Twitter: @amrhodes Facebook: @ameliarhodeswriter Instagram: @ameliamrhodes   Giveaway Details! To enter the drawing for your own copy of Pray to Z, please leave a comment telling us why you'd like it! If you have subscribed to my (Jocelyn's) newsletter, tell me that in your comment and receive an extra point.  (Psst, if you haven't subscribed yet, you can do so right here--and receive a free gift when you confirm your subscription!) Thanks for your patience as I approve the comments as I have time! Be sure to include your email address so I can contact you if you win! Looking forward to hearing from all of you. Winners will be drawn using random.org on November 22. Winners, I will email you to ask for your mailing address. Pray A to Z is available wherever books are sold, including: Amazon, BarnesandNoble, ChristianBook, and BooksaMillion.  

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