Friday, November 21, 2014

Susan Meissner: Taking Sailing Lessons From The Master Mariner

Everyone's Story is pleased to host this week author Susan Meissner. Although I've read several of Susan's novels and love them all, I was attracted to another blog some months ago when Susan was interviewed on her current novel A FALL OF MARIGOLDS, which I've since devoured. What caught my attention was that the premise centered on how two different women from two different time periods continued on in their lives despite tragedies; the one from the early 20th century was a nurse on Ellis Island, a place where my own relatives were processed into the US. I'm happy to say that I won Susan's BookGiveaway and couldn't resist asking her to guest on my blog. I'm overjoyed that she agreed. Please join me this week when Susan talks candidly about some emotions that most of us can relate to--and interestingly, feelings that her characters in MARIGOLDS are forced to confront. And, with the holidays upon us, please check out Susan's BookGiveaway offer, one I'm personally spicing up with my addition of CHRISTMAS TREASURES: A COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES. Both Susan and I look forward to hearing from you.

Susan is offering 1 copy of her new release, A FALL OF MARIGOLDS. The winner will be announced here on Friday, November 28th between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment

***For an extra point in the contest for Susan's Giveaway PLUS the e-book Giveaway of the anthology I contributed in, CHRISTMAS TREASURES: A COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES, indicate that you have LIKED (or have LIKED in the past) my (Elaine's) FaceBook Page in your comment. Thanks and GOOD LUCK!***

What Ships Are For by Susan Meissner
I am in a passionate love affair with words but I waited a long time to do anything really creative with my love for writing. I was 42 before I wrote my first book even though I had wanted to write a novel since I was a teenager. I had been too afraid. I’d been afraid I wasn’t up to the challenge, afraid no one would want to read any book of mine, afraid of failing.

I was no stranger to fear. I had terrible fears when I was a kid – all unfounded and all due to a highly active imagination, which I am glad I have now but which did not help me when I was younger.
I was afraid of up-and-down horses on carousels. I was afraid of sunflowers that were taller than me. I was afraid to learn to swim, to ride a bike, to roller skate, to go down a slide, and of blimps flying above me. I was afraid of the robot on Lost in Space, Mr. Bubble, Mr. Peanut, the Michelin Man and Mr. Clean.
Obviously, I have gotten over these childhood fears. I did finally learn Mr. Bubble wasn’t going to start talking to me in my bathtub and the Michelin Man wasn’t going to chase me down the street and suffocate me with his tire arms.
But since I had a pattern of fearing things, I just adapted what I was afraid of. And even though I’d had several high school teachers encourage me as a writer, one in particular who knew I had it within me to be a published novelist, when I became an adult, I decided that kind of writing was just going to be a hobby and it would only be for me.

When I turned 42, I was editor of a weekly newspaper. But I wasn’t happy. I was restless. I wasn’t writing what I really wanted to write. What was burning within me weren’t stories about five generations of yodelers and the bank’s new manager and the high school debate team’s stellar showing at state. I had these ideas for swimming in my head and I was doing nothing about them. It took the death of my beloved grandfather, my Papa, to show me that my life was half-over – I was exactly half his age when he died. I finally understood I would rather live with rejection than regret.

When I finally quit my job at the newspaper to write my first book, I had no idea if anyone would publish it, I just knew I was meant to do this and I was going to be restless until I did. God has wired all of us for some unique purpose. But we have to be brave enough to take risks with our passions and strengths (instead of keeping them safe inside us) if we’re going to find out what that purpose is. When the book was finished, it took a frustrating year to find a publisher willing to take a risk on it. But it did happen. That was in 2003 and I have been writing novels ever since.

There is a saying that goes like this. A ship is safe in the harbor. But that’s not what ships are for.

If you’re in a restless spot, may I encourage you to consider if you’ve been at anchor too long? The wide sea beckons you. If you don’t at least try to do your heart yearns for, your outcome is the same as failing. You may as well give it a go! Why not give it your best effort and see what God may do with it. Regret is heavy weight, friend. Rejection is the easier of the two.

I will close with this lovely quote by Luci Shaw: “The cliff edge of our anxiety about the future may indicate that God is calling us to a new and different level of faith. When we walk, praying for guidance, to the edge of all the light we have and breathlessly take that first step into the foggy mystery of the unknown, we must believe that one of two things will happen; either God will provide us with something rock-solid to land on and stand on, or He will teach us to fly.”

See you on the horizon.

Susan's Ah-hahs To Tweet:

On Everyone’s Story: How did @SusanMeissner benefit from fear? (Tweet This)

Is fear hindering your writing? Bestseller @SusanMeissner shares her story. (Tweet This)

Author Susan Meissner: #BookGiveaway of A FALL OF MARIGOLDS. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Susan Meissner is a multi-published author, speaker and writing workshop leader with a background in community journalism. Her novels include A Fall of Marigolds, named by BookList’s Top Ten women’s fiction titles for 2014, and The Shape of Mercy, named by Publishers Weekly as one of the 100 Best Novels of 2008. She is a pastor’s wife and a mother of four young adults. When she's not working on a novel, Susan writes small group curriculum for her San Diego church.

Places to Connect With Susan

Friday, November 14, 2014

Angela Breidenbach: You Can Do It. Why Not?

Everyone's Story welcomes back, and very warmly so, author Angela Breidenbach. Although Angela has guested twice on this blog and I've met her a couple of times at ACFW Conferences, we don't know each other very well . . . yet we do, having such striking similar family backgrounds. And, of course, our love of story. Please join Angela this week as she shares her love of story and how her dad played a special role in shaping the power of storytelling for Angela. Please check out the special BookGiveaway. Both Angela and I look forward to hearing from you.

Angela is offering 1 e-copy of her new release, SNOWFLAKE TIARA. The winner will be announced here on Friday, November 21st between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment. ***For an extra point in the contest, indicate that you have LIKED (or have LIKED in the past) both  Angela’s Facebook Page and Elaine Stock's Facebook Page in your comment. Thanks and GOOD LUCK!

What Inspired Me? by Angela Breidenbach
People ask, "Isn't writing alone hard?" and then they ask, "Where do you get your ideas?"
I've been reading and writing since I was four years old. My dad taught me, really taught me. He'd say, "You can do it. Why not? Just try.
 Angela and her dad on their mountain
bike ride on the Hiawatha Trail for
his 80th birthday.
And my dad read to me. I can still hear his rumbly baritone voice in my head as he read Peter Pan, Snow White, Hiawatha, Pinocchio, and more. Oh I miss that voice.
And my dad listened when I told him my dreams. And Dad said, "Why not?" I knew I could be a flight attendant. Dad said, "Why not?" And then I knew I could be a writer. Again, "Why not?"
When my first book came out, Gems of Wisdom: For a treasure-filled Life, my dad drove 965 miles to be at my book launch party held at the Garden of Read'n in Missoula, MT. He had a lot of fun introducing his "author daughter" to friends over the last few years too. I had a lot of fun watching his chest puff out with pride. He believed in me before I ever sold a book.
That question of writing alone never fazed me. I don't feel alone. I hear the characters in the stories bringing them to life like my dad did for me as a little girl. I see the story unfold like a movie in my mind. Humorously, I can be so into the story that I have no idea of time passing or what might be happening around me.
I see stories in the lives around me, in the circumstances that pop out of an ordinary day, and in my incessant curiosity. I write because it's in my DNA. Storytelling is so much a part of me because my dad was a storyteller. He passed that part of him onto me through teaching me to read and write as much as reading to me. Stories have played in my imagination since before I walked. Stories change lives, enhance joy, and sometimes teach lessons. But mostly, I can't turn the stories off in my head. Dad opened the door to an inquisitive, imaginative mind. And for that, I can't thank him enough. I really missed Dad at the latest book launch for Snowflake Tiara. But I think he might have had a nice view. Why not?
I believe I can do anything I set my mind to because my dad taught me to try. "Why not?"
Here's a link to an article about learning flexibility when I lost Dad.
Angela's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Who most influenced your love of story? See who it was for author Angela Breidenbach. #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)
Everyone has a story! Angela Breidenbach: the role of #Parents and storytelling. #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)
Angela Breidenbach: What happens when a dad says “Why not?” (Tweet This)
Previous guest appearances by Angela on Everyone's Story:
Author's Bio and Places to Connect
Angela Breidenbach is a captivating speaker, professional judge of more than 500 books, writing/media coach, author of Snowflake Tiara: The Debutante Queen (2-1 Christmas anthology), A Healing Heart (a contemporary romance, Quilts of Love novel), with more books coming soon. She serves nationally as the Christian Author Network's president, is certified in mentor/peer counseling as a CTA life coach, as a Stephen Minister. With a volume of appearances on television, stage, and radio Angela loves to share her knowledge to build up others in the industry. Comedy by Writer and #Muse can be found on social media and their blog, A-Muse-ings at


The anthology has been released!! CHRISTMAS TREASURES: A COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES now can be purchased directly on Amazon at this link.

This week, Elaine Stock and Anne Garboczi Evans share their thoughts on music, and plus! Be sure to leave your comments for a chance win for the BookGiveaway offer below. Ho Ho Ho

I'm Elaine Stock, host of this blog, Everyone's Story. Both fiction wise and blog wise I enjoy writing and sharing stories of faith's role in life. From an early age I believed in God, though I was first baptized at the age of 22. Christmas is a beautiful holiday for me, one I'd really like to see celebrated more on a religious level than the on the commercial level it's spun on these past decades. As someone who hasn't spent her childhood worshipping with others, let alone celebrating holidays and sharing family traditions, I understand how, for some, the holidays can be a very lonely time of the year. Having little of family and friends doesn't help. That is how I came to think of my Christmas anthology story, THE FOREVER CHRISTMAS GIFT. When neighbors, Nevaeh--a young woman thousands of miles away from family--and Russell--an older man without family face celebrating Christmas by themselves, they wonder whether they are being asked to try out a forever gift that might possibly change their lives.

Music has always been a huge part of my life. I remember my mother playing her treasured records of show tunes, which I'm sure influenced me to love, love, and love both Broadway hits and classical music. Too shy to try out for choir, I played viola in junior and senior high school, only putting it aside to develop my passion for writing.

In THE FOREVER CHRISTMAS GIFT, which takes place in San Francisco, Nevaeh believes it is in her best interest to protect her heart by "escaping" from all things Christmas. Yet, she can't dodge the sights and sounds of Christmas joy and en route home, stumbles across carolers singing “Hark The Herald Angels Sing.”

It is my wish for all of you to be blessed with God's love and all the joy of Christmas--Christ's birth--year round.

You can visit more with me on Facebook. I'd love to see you!

I'm Anne Garboczi Evans, and you can find out more about me on my website. When I was first asked about the role of music in my short story for the anthology, I HATE CHRISTMAS, I responded by saying that there is an obnoxious reindeer decoration outside the story's coffee shop plays Jingle Bells.

To be honest, Christmas has never been a favorite time of year for me. I love summer, beaches, and sun-bathing much more than snow and fires. But one Christmas tradition strikes a special place in my heart as an author. Christmas Eve we always went to church. My favorite part of the ceremony was lighting the candles for "Silent Night." (Yes, I still behave like a 5 year old and refuse to blow out my candle until several minutes after everyone else's candle is extinguished. ;)) As a teenager, I went to church with another teenage aspiring author. Every year she'd finish at least one novel. And every Christmas Eve she'd print out a copy of her manuscript on an old inkjet printer and hand it to me. Invariably, I'd stay up to the wee hours of the morning reading her novel.

 Now, over a decade later, my friend has a book in print and I have a literary agent and am working on that elusive first book contract. I'm excited to see where the next ten Christmas Eves will take my friend and my publishing careers. ;)

I currently have two clean historical romance novels and six women's non-fiction proposals written. The book I'm passing around to publishers right now is about world religions. For No Fear: My Tale of Hijabs, Witchcraft Circles, & the Cross, I visited my local mosque, Hindu temples, Wiccan rites and more, and then wrote about what I learned at these places of worship and why I believe Christ is the one and only.

If you like the idea of No Fear and want to know when it comes into print, please visit my Facebook page.

Readers, whether it is traditional hymns or the Chipmunks singing, how important is Christmas music to you? One randomly chosen commenter will receive, upon release, an e-version of CHRISTMAS TREASURES: A COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES. Please leave your contact information within your comment. The winner will be announced on November 21st We're looking forward to hearing from you ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤  

Tweet These:
Like #Christmas? Author Interview: Christmas Treasures: A Collection Of Short Stories. #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

It’s out! It’s out! CHRISTMAS TREASURES: A COLLECTION OF SHORT STORIES is on Amazon! (Tweet This)

Friday, November 7, 2014

Julie Lessman: Romance, Pure And Simple

Everyone's Story welcomes first time guest and well known, beloved author Julie Lessman. While everyone and her sister may know of Julie, there are quite a few interesting insights about this author that you  will relate to, chuckle over, and nod your head in agreement with. I know I did! Please check out Julie's amazing BookGiveaway offer. This will be a very fun week here. Both Julie and I are looking forward to hearing from you.

Julie is offering 1 copy of any of her 12 books in either print or e-format within the US and e-format outside of the US. The winner will be announced here on Friday, November 14th between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment. ***For an extra point in the contest, indicate that you have LIKED (or have LIKED in the past) both  Julie’s Facebook Page and Elaine Stock's Facebook Page in your comment. Anyone who has already posted a comment prior to this added bonus can submit another comment. Thanks and GOOD LUCK!

When Certain Addictions Are Good by Julie Lessman
My name is Julie Lessman … and I am a romance addict.
However, Margaret Mitchell bears the blame. The moment Scarlett seared Rhett with a look on the winding staircase of Twelve Oaks, I was a goner, my brain irrevocably branded with the burning desire for romance. God help me, I was only twelve when some innocent, unsuspecting person put a copy of Gone With the Wind in my hand. I swear to this day that the binding not only burned my fingers, but it seared my life forever.
You see, when I read that novel at the age of twelve, I was swept away into the world of romance for the very first time. It captured me like no other book had done, and I immediately set out to write (along with thousands of other love-struck young girls, I’m sure), what I hoped would be “the great American novel.” Obviously my dreams of grandeur didn’t go anywhere, but I did write 150 single-spaced pages of a story that became the basis (some forty years later!) for my debut novel, A Passion Most Pure. Today, I like to think that not only are Margaret Mitchell’s fingerprints all over me in my religious devotion to passion, but God’s as well—merging my passion for romance with my passion for Him.
And speaking of religious devotion, I may well be one of the few GWTW fans whose obsession became a habit—a religious habit, to be exact, of the “nun” variety. Although I had read the book at the age of twelve (and reread it a gazillion times since then), I never saw the movie until I turned sixteen. Way back then (we won’t go into how far back that was), Gone With the Wind was re-released every seven years. So when I found out that a theatre in my city was sponsoring a free premiere for the local religious and clergy, I actually dressed up as a nun to go. One of my friends had a sister in the convent who loaned us novice habits and off we went! I sat there mesmerized, shoving free popcorn into my mouth as I watched the emotional tug-o-war between Rhett and Scarlett. It was one of the most thrilling times of my teens … until we ran into the nuns from our high school! I must have looked pretty convincing in the novice garb, though, because one of our nuns started talking to me about a vocation. Are you kidding? A nun who writes romance? Uh, no!
Why would a book like Gone With the Wind impact me so? Romance, pure and simple. Yes, Scarlett was selfish, but what drew me was the pull she had over Rhett—a man who wanted her but couldn’t have her. To me, seeing a strong, male type like Rhett Butler “who wasn’t the marrying kind” give in and marry her because he loved her and wanted to cherish her, spoke volumes. I sensed that was what romance was all about—finding a man who couldn’t do without you and to whom you were the most important woman in the world.

It wasn’t until I became a born-again Christian at the age of 23 that I learned it was a foreshadow of how God sees romance in Ephesians 5:25: Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” Now I am not saying that Rhett Butler typified the kind of love Christ had in mind, but he wanted Scarlett so badly, he was willing to give of himself to get her. No other woman alive could do that to him, only her.
Now to me, that’s romance in the most heart-pounding sense of the word, albeit a thin shadow of the kind of romance God longs to have with each us. His is a true passion, not just for us collectively as the Body of Christ, but individually as well, allowing each of us a piece of His heart that nobody can else can fill—only us. We are, quite simply, the apple of His eye, and with this kind of “unfailing” and “everlasting” love, is it any wonder that I’m hooked on romance?
Especially the God Who created it!

Julie's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Like reading #romances? Chat with “romance addict” author @JulieLessman. #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Everyone has a story: Why is @JulieLessman obsessed with romance stories? (Tweet This)

Why is Rhett Butler still seizing @JulieLessman’s breath? #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Author's Bio and Places to Connect:

Award-winning author of “The Daughters of Boston” and “Winds of Change” series, Julie Lessman was American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Author of the Year and voted #1 Romance Author of the year in Family Fiction magazine’s 2012 and 2011 Readers Choice Awards. She has also garnered 17 RWA and other awards and made Booklist’s 2010 Top 10 Inspirational Fiction. Her indie book A Light in the Window is an International Digital Awards winner, a 2013 Readers' Crown Award winner, and a 2013 Book Buyers Best Award winner.

Julie loves to hear from reader friends, so if they like, they can contact her and read excerpts from her books at, or through Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, or Pinterest or by signing up for her newsletter. Julie also has a blog “Journal Jots,” which is a very laid-back journal to her reader friends, or readers can check out Julie’s favorite romantic and spiritual scenes from each of her books on the “Excerpts” tab of her website. In addition, Julie can be found daily at The Seekers, a group blog of 13 published authors that inspires, encourages, teaches, and informs aspiring writers on the road to publication and beyond. Although Seekerville has been listed on Writers Digest 2013 and 2014 “Best 101 Websites for Writers,” it is also a blog devoted to readers as well.

Finally, Julie has the following freebie/sales/low-cost novellas currently going on:

FREE DOWNLOAD on her debut novel A Passion Most Pure, American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Debut Book of the Year with over 570 five-star reviews.

$3.99 SALE (or FREE on Kindle Unlimited) on Julie’s Irish Christmas love story, A Light in the Window—winner of three awards, and here’s the video to give you a peek—ALITW Video.

 Only $2.99 each for two brand new Christmas novella collections from the Seekers called Hope for the Holidays.  The historical collection features novellas from Julie Lessman, Mary Connealy, Myra Johnson, and Ruth Logan Herne, while the contemporary collection features novellas from Marcy Connealy, Mary Connealy, Audra Harders, Sandra Leesmith, Ruth Logan Herne, Tina Radcliffe, and Missy Tippens.

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