Friday, September 4, 2015

Susan Anne Mason: The Courage To Dream

Everyone's Story welcomes back author Susan Anne Mason. One of the things I've come to enjoy about hosting authors on my blog is that I get to see their writing careers blossom through the months and years since they've been on last. That's the case with Susan! It was a delight to walk into a store just last week and to see her novel on the shelf. I'm so happy for you, Susan! Yet, ever wonder about the effort it takes to accomplish what Susan has--not only the physical part about sitting down to write and committing to do so, but the emotional journey of many ups and downs? Susan shares with you insights about this journey. Also, check out her cover blurb of IRISH MEADOWS. Both Susan and I look forward to hearing from you!



Just One by Susan Anne Mason

Thank you for having me back on your blog, Elaine! Last month my first historical romance, IRISH MEADOWS, came out with Bethany House Publishers. I am thrilled at the wonderful response this story is receiving, especially since at one time, I doubted it would ever get published.

I wrote most of Irish Meadows during the November Novel Writing Month in 2011. I continued working on it and finished the book by Christmas. (Keep in mind this was a VERY rough draft!) I worked on editing the manuscript for probably a year and then started entering it in contests.

At the ACFW conference in 2013, I came prepared to pitch Irish Meadows to both agents and editors. I was aware that it posed some challenges, such as the fact that it contained two distinct love stories, and the fact that one of the heroes was in the seminary studying to become a priest! Sure enough, these issues were huge stumbling blocks, and I got nowhere with my pitches—only lots of advice how to change my book.

But I loved my story and I had no intention of changing it. I had faith that either the right editor would come along, or I’d eventually publish it myself. In early 2014, I learned that Irish Meadows won a contest I’d entered and that Dave Long from Bethany House wanted to see the whole manuscript! I was so excited that he loved my book and couldn’t believe it when a few weeks later, I was offered a 3-book contract!!

The moral of the story is that it only takes one person to love your story. Keep on trying to find the right fit and don’t give up!

Note: Book 2 in the Courage to Dream Series, A Worthy Heart, releases in January and is available for pre-order on most sites!



Book cover blurb for Irish Meadows:
Irish immigrant, James O’Leary, has spent his life building Irish Meadows into a thriving horse farm and is not about to let hard economic times threaten its success. He intends for his daughters to marry prosperous men—ones who will secure the family’s rightful place in society, and at the same time, guarantee the future of Irish Meadows. Both girls, however, have different visions for their futures.

Brianna and Colleen O’Leary know their father expects them to marry well. Yet despite his wishes, Brianna, the quieter sister, dreams of attending college. Vivacious Colleen, meanwhile, is happy to marry—as long as her father’s choice meets her exacting standards. When stable hand Gilbert Whelan returns from college and distant family member Rylan Montgomery stops in on his way to the seminary in Boston, the two men quickly complicate everyone’s plans. It will take every ounce of courage for both sisters to follow their hearts. And even if they do, will they inevitably find their dreams too distant to reach?

Susan's previous Everyone's Story's feature: When God's Dreams Are Bigger Than Ours

Susan's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
#HistoricalRomance author Susan Anne Mason @samason: It takes 1 person to believe in your writing! (Tweet This)

Author @samason: When courage to dream becomes the reality for publication of your novel. (Tweet This)

Everyone’s Story: Meet Susan Anne Mason @samason, writing romances sprinkled with faith. (Tweet This)

Authors' Bio:
Susan Anne Mason describes her writing style as “romance sprinkled with faith.” She particularly enjoys exploring the themes of forgiveness and redemption in her stories. Irish Meadows is her first historical novel and won the Fiction from the Heartland contest sponsored by the Mid-American Romance Author chapter of RWA.
Susan lives outside of Toronto, Ontario, with her husband, two children, and two cats. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and Romance Writers of America (RWA). Learn more about Susan and her books at www.susanannemason.com.

Places to connect with Susan:


Friday, August 28, 2015

Rick Barry: Do You Have Regrettable Elements From Your Past?

Everyone's Story welcomes multi-published author and church-planter/missionary, Rick Barry. As a co-client of our agent, the amazing Linda S. Glaz, I've had the pleasure to get to know Rick these past few years and I'm thrilled he agreed to be my guest. An encourager, Rick shares with us this week how to let go of the past in order to move forward and parallels this with the characters of his new release this September, THE METHUSELAH PROJECT. Please check out Rick's dynamic BookGiveaway. Both Rick and I look forward to hearing from you!




BookGiveaway:
Rick is offering 1 printed copy of  his novel THE METHUSELAH PROJECT to 1 randomly chosen commenter. The winner will be announced here on Friday, September 4th between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment (you may choose to use the Contact Me form to privately send me your email address--the form is in the right-hand sidebar on the blog's main page, toward the bottom).


Back Cover Copy:
During World War II, German scientists started many experiments. One never ended. 

Shot down over Nazi Germany in 1943, Roger Greene becomes both a prisoner and an unwilling guinea pig in a bizarre experiment. Seventy years later, Roger still appears as youthful as the day he crash-landed—and he’s still a prisoner. Nearly insane from his long captivity, Roger finds his only hope in an old Bible.

Not until our present time does Roger finally escape from the secret society running the Methuselah Project. When he does, the modern world has become a fast-paced, perplexing place. His only option is to accept the help of Katherine Mueller—crack shot, go-getter, and attractive to boot. Can he convince her of the truth of his crazy story? And can he continue to trust her when he finds out she works for the very organization he’s trying to flee?


You’re Not a Prisoner of Your Past by Rick Barry

Right now, someone reading these words feels hindered by the past. You might be a woman who had a child out of wedlock and gave it up for adoption. You may be a man who fought and struggled to open his own dream business—only to see it collapse in dismal failure. That regrettable element could be any of a thousand things, but even if you read nothing else in this blog feature, understand this: you don’t have to remain a failure because of your past.

In my new novel, The Methuselah Project, my main character Roger Greene is haunted by mysteries in his own past. In fact, he doesn’t even know exactly who or what he is because his earliest childhood memories are of the orphanage where he grew up. Even though Roger is intelligent, even though he’s handsome, and even though he becomes an ace fighter pilot in World War II, as an adult he struggles with his own sense of self-worth.

Why didn’t he grow up with a regular family like other kids? Was he the unwanted result of an illicit affair? Perhaps the unfortunate offspring of a prostitute? Or maybe he had a mother and father who were so dirt poor that they simply could not afford to keep him? But no matter which scenario was true, why was it that no one at the orphanage had ever offered even the vaguest of answers to his questions? Making matters worse, after German fighter planes shoot down his P-47 in WW II, Roger doesn’t get sent to a regular POW camp. Instead, he becomes an unwilling guinea pig in a secret Nazi experiment.



Roger’s romantic interest, Katherine, must also face questions from the past. I won’t reveal the plot, but many of those problems exist in the person of her one living relative, Uncle Kurt.

Failure to separate yourself from the past—mistakes, shortcomings, unwise decisions, whatever—makes you a victim. That attitude is like living with an enormous anchor shackled to one leg, and that anchor prevents you from achieving happiness and your full potential. But your life doesn’t have to be that way. You can learn from past mistakes. You can ask for God’s help in overcoming the source of unhappiness and plant your feet on a new path in life. God is an expert at redeeming lives and giving them new directions.

At this point, I don’t want to offer spoilers about my suspense novel and its dose of romance. What I can say is that both Roger and Katherine must face their past, each in his own way. The Methuselah Project packs a variety of emotions. Readers will alternately laugh, cry, share the characters’ frustrations, and fear for their lives. In the end, though, is that satisfying conclusion that makes the journey worth it all.

If you decide to read The Methuselah Project, I hope you’ll tell me. Better yet—tell others if you like it!

Rick's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Like #ChristianSuspense novels with a twist? Meet author Rick Barry @WriterRickBarry #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Everyone’s Story: @WriterRickBarry, author WW II #suspense #BookGiveaway of The Methuselah Project (Tweet This)

Are you a prisoner of your past? See what author @WriterRickBarry advises. (Tweet This)

Authors' Bio:
Rick Barry has authored three novels (Gunner's Run, Kiriath's Quest, and now The Methuselah Project), plus hundreds of published articles, short stories, and devotional pieces. He speaks Russian and has visited Eastern Europe over 50 times. His experiences have included skydiving, mountain climbing, rappelling, camping in Russia, visiting Chernobyl, white-water rafting, and visiting World War II battlegrounds. He believes that all experiences in life provide fuel for a writer's imagination.

Places to connect with Rick:
  

Friday, August 21, 2015

Patti Shene: God And Gunsmoke

Everyone's Story warmly welcomes writer, blog(s) owner, and radio personality, Patti Shene. Though I've known Patti from the past years of visiting on our mutual blogs and sharing encouragement via social media, I've only come to learn that we've had several close encounters of actually meeting face-to-face. One day, Patti! Thankfully, this sweet woman will be my guest this whole week. I hope you find her as uplifting as I do. Both Patti and I look forward to hearing from you.


Who Would Have Thought? By Patti Shene
When I reach back into the inner recesses of my childhood memories, the evening of September 10, 1955, rises to the top. I still recall the grainy black and white picture that held my family and I spellbound as the television show Gunsmoke debuted before the viewing public. I was all of 4 years old.
We watched in shock as the main character and hero of the show, Marshal Matt Dillon, fell under the gun of a formidable adversary. The professional skill of the acerbic Doc Adams, in conjunction with the determination of the hero, found him healthy enough by the close of the half hour to defeat the villain in a dramatic final scene.


That first episode spawned the era of the western in the world of television broadcasting. I followed Gunsmoke, the first adult western, throughout its twenty year run and many other shows in the genre as well.
Even though Gunsmoke, was set in Dodge City, Kansas, this Long Island, New York girl developed a fascination for the state of Colorado. Hence my subscription to Colorado magazine when I became old enough to earn my own money and spend it the way I wanted.
My first “real job” as a nurse in the Hudson River Valley found me making good money, living on station for very low rent, and a non-driver. I had plenty of money in a savings account when I earned my first vacation.
The ad in the back of Colorado magazine for an eleven-day horse pack trip in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado offered a dream come true. Over forty years later, that trip stands out in my memory as one of the most thrilling experiences of my entire life.


I suppose that is why, if I could only complete one novel in my lifetime, it would be Magic Moments in Time, a fictionalized account of that trip. The dramatic events that occurred stemmed from the interpersonal relationships that developed, and the struggles of man against nature forced on us by terrain and weather.
The opportunity to view massive stone-faced peaks and lush, green, lake-dotted valleys from a height of over fourteen thousand feet cannot be duplicated in the most rugged vehicle manufactured. Travel on foot or horseback through densely wooded trails leads to switchbacks that jut out over dense wilderness ten thousand feet below. The grandeur of God’s unlimited creativity is manifested in every square inch of ground and an infinite sky, not dotted with twinkling stars, but highlighted by a solid path of light miles wide known as the Milky Way.
A month from the day I arrived home from that breathtaking excursion, I was working in Colorado. To this day, I live in a town that sits on the Santa Fe Trail, surrounded by ranches that comprise literally thousands of acres, wake up to the lowing of cattle that graze in the pasture next door, and, enjoy watching the rodeo events that highlight the summer season.
Reminders of our local American history, from the museum that boasts hundreds of 19th century artifacts to the Kit Carson Chapel that memorializes the famous American frontiersman, keep my interest in the American west alive. Frequent encounters with friends who tend their herds, mend fences, ride horses, and wear their cowboy boots and jeans to church feed my romantic fascination with the lifestyle of the modern day rancher.
If I ever publish a novel, I can about guarantee my readers will encounter within its pages a cowboy or two, a few horses, wide open spaces, and the black velvet sky that burns in my memory from that long ago mountain adventure.
Oh, and our lives do tend to move in circles. Sixty years after watching that first Gunsmoke episode, I live in the very town where one of the show’s most famous actors, Ken Curtis, who played Deputy Festus Haggen, spent his childhood.

Patti's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
What does God, His grandeur, and Gunsmoke have in common? Visit with @PattiShene for the answer. (Tweet This)

@PattiShene on Everyone’s Story: Can life move in a positive circle? (Tweet This) 

How does a Long Island gal end up in Colorado and loving every moment? (Tweet This)

Authors' Bio:
Patti Shene hails from Long Island, New York, but has made her home in colorful Colorado for over forty years. She has been married to husband Manuel (lifelong nickname: Speedy) for almost 38 years. They have one daughter one son, and one granddaughter.
Like many writers, Patti has carried stories in her head since she was a kid. She’s had a few things published in the local newspaper, a local magazine, and edits her church newsletter. She is published in two anthologies.

Patti has three (western!) novels in progress and writes an occasional short story, poem, or blog post. She is a member of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and Toastmasters International. Patti has served on faculty at the Colorado Christian and Greater Philadelphia Christian Writers Conferences as well as the IdahopeWriters Conference.

She hosted Lit(erally) Speak(ing), a Blog Talk Radio show currently in the process of restructure with plans to return to live broadcasting in a few weeks. She enjoys hosting writers on the show and on her three blogs, found at her website.

Places to connect with Patti:




Friday, August 14, 2015

Kate Breslin: What Subliminal Message Does God Put On Your Heart?

Everyone's Story is thrilled to welcome author Kate Breslin as this week's guest. I've been privileged to get to know Kate these past few years and to see her blossom from debut author to multi-award finalist, and now Kate's sophomore novel is freshly released. Congratulations, Kate! What I enjoy the most about Kate's novels, that although they're fiction, they portray that how in desperate times such as war how two people can find love and forgiveness in their hearts and how God works for the good in this world. That said, please check out Kate's BookGiveaway**(see note on bottom)  offer and the commentary she's chosen to share with you this week. Both Kate and I look forward to hearing from you.


BookGiveaway:
Kate is offering 1 printed copy of  either NOT BY SIGHT or FOR SUCH A TIME to 1 randomly chosen commenter, US only. The winner will be announced here on Friday, August 21st between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment (you may choose to use the Contact Me form to privately send me your email address--the form is in the right-hand sidebar on the blog's main page, toward the bottom).

Book Jacket Blurb for NOT BY SIGHT:

In the spring of 1917, all of Britain's attention is on the WWI war front and the thousands of young men serving their country on the front lines. Jack Benningham, dashing heir to the Earl of Stonebrooke, is young and able-bodied but refuses to enlist despite the contempt of his peers.

A wealthy young suffragette, Grace Mabry will do anything to assist her country's cause. Men like Jack infuriate her when she thinks of her own brother fighting in the trenches of France, so she has no reservations about handing him a white feather of cowardice at a posh masquerade ball.

But Grace could not anticipate the danger and betrayal set into motion by her actions, and soon she and Jack are forced to learn the true meaning of courage when the war raging overseas suddenly strikes much closer to home and their fervent beliefs become a matter of life and death.

God’s Takeaway Bonus For Readers and Writers by Kate Breslin

Elaine, thank you so much for hosting me this week on Everyone’s Story! And I love your tagline, “Rejoice in the Good Stuff, Ignore any Discouragement.” Words to live by!

This week, I’d like to talk about the marvelous ways God works in our lives, through the books we read and as authors creating stories. Many readers I’m sure will agree they’ve read a scene in a novel that has given them timely inspiration, or a passage from Scripture that spoke to their hearts at just the right moment. As writers, these messages work on a more subconscious level, but they still ring true. In my debut novel, For Such A Time, I wrote about a woman with the courage and faith to stand up for her people, to the point of risking death. It was also a message about love, and how that powerful Force can conquer the worst kind of evil. In writing the story, I found my own sense of courage, just like my heroine, along with a deeper understanding of my faith. I strengthened my conviction to continue writing inspirational stories regardless of whether I published a book or not.

In my second novel, Not By Sight, the message was a bit different. The main recurring theme deals with the peril of judging others. In the opening scene, my heroine, Grace Mabry, has preconceived notions about our hero, Jack Benningham. She assumes he’s a coward who refuses to enlist in the war, simply because he’s in London and not in France fighting alongside her brother. She’s also heard the gossip at her father’s London tea establishment, declaring the future earl of Stonebrooke to be “a playboy and a gambler who stays out until dawn.” Grace’s opinion is therefore already formed when she confronts him at a London costume ball and hands him a white feather of cowardice. She has no idea he’s working undercover for the Crown, or that her actions will set into motion events surrounded in danger and betrayal. It’s only later in the story that she realizes her error, feeling the sting of her own prejudiced blade when she finds her reputation maligned.

Once again, I wrote the story, aware on a subconscious level the lessons God was putting in my path. I became attuned to those times when I exercised my own assumptions, making rash judgments about a person or situation without obtaining all of the facts. (I confess, while working on Not By Sight, I was surprised at how often I caught myself.)



Making quick judgments is easy nowadays, as a barrage of media is thrown at us, each station, newspaper, even Internet blogposts reporting the same incident with different slants. Oftentimes the stories get blown out of proportion in an effort to attract new followers or viewers. With our busy lives, it’s too much trouble to “sift through the chaff to get to the wheat” of a story, and so we take what we’re given as fact. Thankfully, we have a bit more control when it comes to our own circle of family and friends. If not, we might all be lambasting one another. (grinning)

A second theme that plays into the first is a Scripture passage and part of my novel’s title: “We live by faith, and not by sight.” (2 Cor. 5:7 NIV) For our hero Jack, that means choosing to see with his heart and not things as they appear on the surface. For Grace, it’s learning that there’s always more than one side to a story.

For me, it’s a reminder to cling to the Truth and ignore what the world would otherwise have me believe. These are my takeaway thoughts as a writer; those subliminal messages God puts on my heart. Yet I also know each person can discern something different from a book or a passage in Scripture, so it’s my hope that readers will receive from my stories the message God wants them to hear most.

KATE's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Everyone’s Story: @Kate_Breslin shares insights from writing her novels #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Author @Kate_Breslin asks: does God place subliminal messages on your heart? (Tweet This)

@Kate_Breslin: God’s takeaway bonus for #readers and #writers #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Authors' Bio:
Former bookseller-turned-author Kate Breslin enjoys life in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and family. A writer of travel articles and award-winning poetry, Kate received Christian Retailing's 2015 Best Award for First Time Author and her debut novel, For Such A Time, is a Christy award, RITA award, and Carol award finalist. Kate's second novel, Not By Sight released in August, 2015. When she's not writing inspirational fiction, Kate enjoys reading or taking long walks in Washington's beautiful woodlands. She also likes traveling to new places, both within the U.S. and abroad, having toured Greece, Rome, and much of Western Europe. New destinations make for fresh story ideas.

Places to connect with Kate:

**It's summer and time to have a bit of fun. Please take this month's new Poll on the right-hand sidebar on your summer reading pleasure. You'll earn an extra BookGiveaway point for Kate's offer if you take the poll and comment about it within your blog comment (and yes, I'm going on the honor-system). And, if you've already took August's poll, let me know and I'm sure I can give you an extra point too (wink wink). Thanks!


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