trees and hills

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mary L. Ball: Staying True To One's Beliefs And Writing

Everyone's Story welcomes author Mary L. Ball. When Mary inquired about guest appearing on this weekly blog we corresponded and I jumped on booking Mary. Mary's introduction on her website says it all: "Writing is like a person's fingerprint; all authors are different. Each of us is unique." What encouragement to both readers and writers and all those who fall in-between! Mary elaborates more in her message below. She also shares an excerpt from her Book Giveaway of ESCAPE TO BIG FORK LAKE. We're both looking forward to hearing from you.

Book Giveaway:
Mary is offering one e-version of her Christian fiction novel ESCAPE TO BIG FORK LAKE to one randomly chosen commenter. The winner will be announced here on Friday, July 25th, between 5-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!

Here's an excerpt from ESCAPE TO BIG FORK LAKE:


Sam’s eyes popped open. She heaved a rapid breath.

A rough, sweaty hand rubbed her head. Hungry fingers clumsily caressed her hair and brushed against her cheek.

The air filled with an odd stench and assaulted her nose. Sam’s stomach churned. She swallowed back the nausea that stirred from the pungent reek of liquor.

With a quick breath, she squelched the panic that bolted through her like lightening and concentrated on the eerie shadow that lurked above her head.

The light from a moonbeam shined across the room and created a spotlight on the staggering silhouette.

Immediately, she recognized Rob.

She jerked her body up in an instant.

Quickly, her head hit the couch hard as her body slammed down tight with the cushions. Rob lashed out and grabbed the front of her blouse. The gold-colored shiny circles popped off as the cotton material ripped.

Sam clawed his face, managing to pull away and scramble to her feet.

She forged the strength from somewhere deep within and gave him a quick shove. His body fell backward.

Her heart leapt as she raced toward the simmering glow coming from the nightlight in the hallway. Rob dashed after her like a dog snapping at her heels.

As Sam approached her front door, her peripheral vision glimpsed the statue made of metal perched on the shelf over her coat rack. She knew the little figurine wouldn’t offer much defense because it was small and hollow, but what other choice did she have?

Quickly, she snatched up the horse. She whacked Rob, hitting him hard, then another time, until he staggered and fell.

Sam ran as fast as she could and left Rob lying on the hallway floor. A moan escaped his lips as a trickle of blood oozed from his head.

She scurried down the steps as remorse hit her. Of all the stupid things she could’ve done! Why had she forgotten to lock her door?

Sam dashed down the sidewalk. She was aware, vaguely, of the passing city blocks.

The sting of the air in her eyes, on her cheeks, slowly revealed the brutal chill. The February night embraced her entire body. Her skin tingled as the wintry air swirled inside her torn garment.

With shivering hands, Sam grabbed the fabric and held tight. She blinked and fought against tears as they trickled down her cheek. This was no time to cry—she needed to stay strong.

Blurred with emotion, she was grateful for living in the city. The streetlights shined on the sidewalk and gave her a clear path in the night.

After a few blocks, she slowed down to a jog, finally able to stop running. Sam’s heart beat in rapid succession as she leaned against a building and heaved, barely aware of the frosty concrete pressed against her back.

Sam concentrated on inhaling slow breaths in and out, until her lungs felt normal again.

She slid down the rough surface and landed flat on the icy sidewalk. Crouched down, Sam held her ribs as they throbbed.

Rubbing her cheeks, she swiped away the moisture that flowed over her face.

No, she wouldn’t give in to despair. Now she could go back to the police and get help. Maybe, with a court order, she could keep Rob away. She could concentrate on getting her life back on the right track.

Sam sat there in the dismal hour of darkness and focused on calming her shaky nerves.

Her emotions drained her. Hunkered down on the sidewalk mindlessly, Sam watched the nightlife across the street.

After what seemed like hours, pins and needles pricked her frigid, stiff body. She clutched at her torn top and shivered once more. How could she have nowhere to go? How did she manage to lose connections to all her friends? They had all married or moved away.

Totally alone, she knew there was no other choice but to return home.

We’re Different and That’s Okay by Mary L. Ball

I remember a time in my life when I strived to fit in with the crowd. I suppose we all went through those days, especially when young. As I grew older I discovered that being different wasn’t a bad thing, it’s most important to embrace the person you have become and to love yourself. To me that’s where it all begins. If you can look in the mirror, smile, and be satisfied with what you see, then you can accomplish many goals.

Life has many challenges. There were times when I’d second–guessed situations, which often tempted me to conform to someone else’s way of thinking, but in the end I made the right decision and stayed true to the woman I am.

Some people may think I’m too conservative; often others might regard my attitude as boarding on submissiveness. The truth is, I have grown to accept others are different from me and I can’t alter their prospective any more than I’ll let them change mine. On those occasions when I’m in a crowd and circumstances aren’t the way I would choose I just shrug my shoulders and stand tall. To me it’s not being indifferent; it’s leaving them to be whom they see themselves as.

If I can share a piece of advice, it’s to be true to who you are and stay in tune to your feelings. If you don’t like your reflection, then change and become all you can be. Adjusting your life can be difficult, but not impossible, not if you’re determined to make changes. Those who are strong on the inside overcome and soar to new heights.

I apply this to my beliefs and my writing. I’ll speak out about my faith. It’s a big part of who I am. The trust I have for the Lord shows in my inspirational novels. Never will I badger anyone to see Jesus as his or her savior, but I will tell all why He’s important to me. In the end, we each must decide and no one else can do that for us.

Be on guard. Don’t let anyone belittle you into thinking their method is the only way. Never conform to someone’s perception. One persons’ idea of being correct isn’t set in stone.

There will be times when we, as humans, are unsure. It happened to me in my writing a few years ago. I had an agent say that my stories were elementary. That statement made me question my writing ability. Months later, an acquaintance commented that my novels brought back memories of Grace Livingston Hill and her books. She went on the say I have the same writing style. Until then I wasn’t familiar with Ms. Hill’s novels. I decide to research her. Wikipedia states that Ms. Hill’s writing was simplistic. Her novels had romance and good versus evil, with at least one of the characters finding the grace to overcome challenges. Upon reading that I smiled and once again stopped debating the importance of what others think.  As an author, I’ll stand proud behind Ms. Hill.

Just like a fruit basket, we are all different. The dissimilarities won’t make us losers, and can’t guarantee prestige, but they do offer each of us the ability to be happy.  

Mary's Ah-hahs To Tweet: 
Author Mary L. Ball: Why being different in writing is okay. (Tweet This)

How Mary L. Ball chose not to let others’ negativity impact her writing. #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Everyone has a story: discover author Mary L. Ball’s secret for peace with one’s writing. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Mary L. Ball writes Christian fiction novels blended with romance.

She lives in North Carolina and writes stories that encourage readers to see the wonder of love and divine mercy.

When she’s not working on her latest story, she enjoys fishing, reading, and singing with her husband.

Places to connect with Mary:

Friday, July 11, 2014

Paulette Harper: Ways To Find Writing Inspiration

Everyone's Story welcomes author and speaker Paulette Harper. Anyone who knows me knows that I admire and applaud people who inspire others. This world is a tough place. We can all benefit from encouragement. That's why I was drawn to Paulette, an author who states on her website so well that I don't dare paraphrase: "Therefore, live life with purpose, dream big, don't limit God, stay focused and allow God to take you to places you have only imagined. You will not be disappointed." Wise and uplifting words to live by! Do you agree? Please check out the blurb on Paulette's lovely Giveaway novella, LIVING SEPARATE LIVES and her tips on finding inspiration for writing. Come say hello. Both Paulette and I look forward to hearing from you.

Book Giveaway:
Paulette is offering one e-version of her Christian fiction novella LIVING SEPARATE LIVES to one randomly chosen commenter. The winner will be announced here on Friday, July 18th, between 5-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!

Here's a blurb of LIVING SEPARATE LIVES:

Four Friends, One Secret and the Weekend That Changed Their Destiny

Candace Walker, Kaylan Smith, Jordan Tate, and Tiffany Thomas have their share of sorrows, but neither of them realizes how deep the sorrow goes.  What happens when they agree to meet for a weekend of relaxation in beautiful Napa County? Which one will leave the same or worse?

For Candace Walker, life has left her battered and bruised.  Kaylan Smith has struggled with prejudice from her in-laws. After fifteen years of marriage, bitterness is trying to raise its ugly head for Jordan Tate, whose husband wants to call it quits. And for Tiffany Thomas, dealing with rejection has never been one of her greatest feats.

Although they have been friends for years, they thought they knew each other well. But will a secret destroy their relationship and bring the sisterhood to a complete halt? Will they be able to forgive and allow God to mend that which might be torn?

Seven Ways to Find Inspiration for Writing by Paulette Harper

Every Writer needs Inspiration. No matter how many books one has written, there are times when we need a little inspiration to get us going.

Many times I sit at my computer, starting at the blank screen, waiting for words to start flowing. Sometimes they do, sometimes I need a push.

Here are seven ways you can get inspired:

1. Pictures

Whether you take them yourself, look through an old photo album, or spend some time searching through Google, photographs are a great way to find inspiration for your writing. There is a Facebook group that uses pictures for this purpose.

2. Books

I use this method a lot. Reading what other people have written may be enough to spark a few ideas you wouldn’t have otherwise had. Grab a book and mediate and let the inspiration flow.

3. Eavesdropping

I know it’s not polite to do but it does work. Next time you’re at work, the store or the coffee shop, pay attention to what’s going on around you. Listen to the conversations people are having. Body language says a lot. Watch the movement of the people around you. People live interesting lives and those lives are told in someone’s book, why not yours?  Remember always have a pen and tablet with you.

4. Experience

This is the best teacher. Sitting at home may not be the greatest idea to stir your mind. Go for a walk, sit at the park, run or ride somewhere, go sit at the beach. Keep your eyes and ears open while you do it. Through life experiences we can find plenty of inspiration. We can take what has happened to us or even to others and that alone can trigger an idea which can easily lead to some interesting writing.

5. Music

Some people can write while listening to music. If this is you, grab some of those tunes and go for it. Playing old tunes can sometime jar memories that can be used to get the juices flowing. Try finding music that you’ve never listened to and see what happens.

6. The internet

The internet has proven to be a great source of inspiration filled with knowledge, gossip and information—some truth, some lies. There are plenty of topics that can spark meaningful conversations amongst your friends and family but most importantly amongst the characters in your head.

7. Interview someone

Talking to someone whose story might be similar to yours is a sure way to get inspired. One word, one idea, one encounter can make all the difference in the world.

Are You Inspired Yet?

We are surrounded by information, people, by stories. Things we see, people we hear, any person you meet can bring the inspiration for your next best seller.

Be Inspired!

Paulette's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Everyone’s Story: Meet mulit-pubbed Christian novelist Paulette Harper. (Tweet This)

Stumbling on the blank page? Paulette Harper: Ways to find inspiration for your writing. (Tweet This)

#BookGiveaway of #ChristianFiction novella by Paulette Harper. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Paulette Harper is from Northern California who enjoys the beautiful weather, shopping and spoiling her two adorable granddaughters. A multi-published, best-selling and award-winning novelist, she also writes both Christian fiction, Christian nonfiction and children’s books. She is a blogger and entrepreneur who owns Write Now Literary Virtual Book Tours.

Places to connect with Paulette:

Friday, July 4, 2014

Cecelia Dowdy: When Faith, God and Scripture Direct One's Writing

Everyone's Story warmly welcomes author Cecelia Dowdy. Before I had the pleasure of meeting Cecelia at last summer's Greater Philadelphia Christian Writer's Conference, I saw her name a lot during my RWA days so it was exciting to finally encounter the lovely woman behind the smiling photograph. Cecelia is an author who loves to create stories about love and second chances, trials and hopes I'm sure many can relate to. Check out Cecelia's words on how she'd become an inspirational romance author, her Giveaway offer, and her interview. We're both looking forward to hearing from you.

Book Giveaway:
Cecelia is offering one copy  of her 3-in-1 (3 stories in 1 package) novel CHESAPEAKE WEDDINGS to one randomly chosen commenter. The winner will be announced here on Friday, July 11th, between 5-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!

Relax along Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay as you read about three strong African American women who suddenly face upheaval in life. Monica is caring for her abandoned blind nephew and trying to pick the proper tutor for him. Emily is struggling to save the family farm when a CPA turns up to do an audit. Karen has been deceived by her fiancé, and now she’s expected to trust a neighbor who knows too much of her business. Can God rebuild their tattered lives with new loves?

My Journey To Publication by Cecelia Dowdy

When I first started writing, almost two decades ago, inspirational romance was not a very common genre. As a matter of fact, there was not a lot of inspirational fiction available back then. Initially, I was not a part of any writers group or organization. One day, I was on my lunch break, and I didn’t have a book to read. I pulled out a pad of paper and a pen and I started writing. I’ve been writing ever since. I took one of my proposals and sent it to a freelance editor. In her edits, she asked if my book was an inspirational romance. Unfamiliar with the term, I researched it and my world was opened up into this fairly new genre of fiction.

Courtesy Google Images
I decided to focus on inspirational romance because my secular novels had an inspirational slant. I spoke about faith, God and scripture – I was writing an inspirational romance without realizing that’s what I was doing!

I then discovered Romance Writers of America and I joined their inspirational chapter, Faith Hope and Love. By attending their annual conference, and the local meetings, fellowshipping with other writers, I was able to make my first sale through a unique deal with Doubleday’s Crossings book Club. My acquaintance with another Christian fiction author helped me to land the sale. I later joined American Christian Fiction Writers, and I continue to be a member of both groups.

Although I don’t always make the book sales that I want, I still continue to write books that glorify the Lord. I love reading fiction where the characters have a faith journey. I love showing people who struggle with real-life problems, while relying on their faith in God. I enjoy seeing how the inspirational market has mushroomed and exploded, even creating various sub-genres within the Christian fiction sector.

A Few Questions for Cecelia:
You enjoy reading both secular and Christian fiction, but what is it about Christian fiction that keeps calling upon you to write it? 

I like reading the faith element in Christian fiction. Christian fiction shows how we need to lean on God during our troubled times.

Who is your reading audience? Who do you hope your novels will reach in the future?

Since I write Christian romance, I believe that my reading audience is Christian women. I’d like my stories to be translated into different languages and be available to people over the world.

Is there any one writing tip that you’d like to share that had proved instrumental in getting your first story published?

Attend writers’ conferences and fellowship with other writers. I found the connections made at writers’ conferences to be invaluable.

For fun: if you had all the time to spare and without worries, which 3 novels would you reread and why?

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides – no, this is not Christian fiction, but, this story was amazing!

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins – very dark stories, but, written in a way that I could imagine the story really happening.

The Wool series by Hugh Howey – again, this is not Christian fiction, but, I loved reading about the people living underground. It was written in a way that made me believe that it could really happen!

Cecelia's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Meet Cecelia Dowdy: An author concerned more about glorifying God than book sales. (Tweet This)

Love heartwarming, Christian romance? Win #BookGiveaway by Cecelia Dowdy. #ChristianFiction (Tweet This)

Everyone has a story: Cecelia Dowdy on road to #ChristianFiction publication. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Cecelia Dowdy is a world traveler who has been an avid reader for as long as she can remember. When she first read Christian fiction, she felt called to write for the genre. She loves to read, write, and bake desserts in her spare time. Cecelia loves to help other authors and she runs a fairly popular book review blog entitled Cecelia’s Christian Fiction Blog. Cecelia currently resides with her husband and her young son in Maryland.

Places to connect with Cecelia:

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