Friday, August 30, 2013

Stephanie Landsem: Illuminating History Through Fiction

Everyone's Story welcomes debut author Stephanie Landsem. Ever wonder what it would be like to slip back into the past and live one day out of thousands of years when people did not enjoy the benefits of contemporary life with our medicine, space travels, communication, and, fortunately in many countries, enjoy the right to worship? When I met Stephanie Landsem I knew I had to feature a guest who can guide us down a street from the Biblical-historic era. Visit with Stephanie this week and see how she got her start in writing. She's offering a great Giveaway of her debut novel, THE WELL (see below). Both Stephanie and I are looking forward to your comments and visiting with you.



Book Giveaway:
Stephanie is offering to one randomly chosen commenter a printed edition of THE WELL. The winner will be announced here on Friday, September 6th, between 4-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks! 





The Power Of Story by Stephanie Landsem

Since The Well was released in June, I’ve had the chance to talk to many readers and there are two questions I get the most: How did you start writing and why historical fiction? My website says “Illuminating history through fiction” but that’s just the end of the story. The beginning was another matter.

From my earliest days, I loved history and daydreamed of far-off times and places. And I loved fiction: historical fiction, thrillers, mysteries . . . anything I could get my hands on. Still, I was a pragmatist—practical, sensible—writing stories as a career was nothing more than a flight of fancy.

So I went to college ready for hours in the lab as a biology major. Instead, something happened halfway through my freshman year . . . I took my first college level history course. Pragmatism flew out the window and I spent the next four years studying ancient Greece, imperial Russia, and medieval Europe. Unfortunately—and just as I’d suspected— there weren’t paying jobs for people who could write a thesis on the differences between Spartans and Athenians.

As twenty years passed, I exchanged research papers for marketing, and marketing for the joys of motherhood. Four children, volunteering, carpooling, and answering the inevitable what’s-for-dinner had filled my days for so long that when my youngest daughter entered school, I wasn’t sure what to do.

“What would you do if you could do anything?” my oldest daughter asked me one day.

Anything? I had to think about that. My answer came harder than I expected, perhaps because it had been buried for so long—percolating in the back of my mind as I’d changed diapers and read bedtime stories. “I guess I’d write historical fiction.”

“Then why aren’t you doing it?” she asked, with all the confidence of a twelve year old who still thought her mother could do anything.

Why, indeed? Because I didn’t know where to start. Because I’d never taken a writing course in my life. Because I might not be any good.

But my daughter was right. It was time to try. And if I fell flat on my face it wouldn’t be because I didn’t’ give it everything I had. I had a story, one that had come to me one morning as I’d heard the gospel account of the Samaritan woman at the well. And so I sat down to write.

The first day, I felt like an imposter. Who did I think I was . . . Anita Diamant? Francine Rivers? I was no Biblical scholar and certainly no wordsmith. Heck, I didn’t even know what a synopsis was. But I did want to help people experience the kind of life Jesus lived—to imagine meeting the Incarnation face to face. And so I started typing.

It wasn’t easy. But with hours of research, an online thesaurus, and plenty of prayer, I finally saw a book take shape. I was so proud when I wrote ‘the end’. I couldn’t wait for someone to read it. I gave the book to my eldest girl, by that time 14, and paced the floor, waiting for her verdict. It came, quick and brutal.

“Mom, it’s boring.”

Argh! I knew it. I shoved the manuscript in the bottom drawer of my desk and vowed never to write again. But after I had my cry, my daughter suggested gently. “More action, less history.” And I tried again. And again. And again.

Every revision improved and refined the story and taught me something new about writing. By the time I entered The Well into the Genesis contest in 2011, I felt that I might even have a chance.

The Well went on to final in the Genesis and the contest helped me get an agent and a publishing contract for not one, but three Biblical fiction titles. Today, I’m a full-time writer of historical fiction with one book published, another on my editor’s desk, and a third in progress. (That eldest daughter is in college majoring in English, of course.)

My goal each day is simple: to transport my readers into the pages of the Bible; to bring the people, places, and cultures of the past alive through the power of story; and yes, to illuminate history through fiction.

Questions for Stephanie:
How do you slip out of the present and into the world of far ago yesterday to write your stories?

The more research I do in the time period the easier it is to completely immerse myself in the story and characters. The story just seems to flow when I can clearly picture the details of the time period. Sometimes, I'll hit a roadblock—some historical detail I don't know: A character is locked in a room, but did doors have locks? How did they work? What did the keys look like? I found out that I can't let those roadblocks slow me down. I use an @ sign to mark the place where I need to do some more research, and then dive back into the story.

What lessons have your Biblical time era characters taught you that you were surprised is still applicable to today's lifestyle?

The more I write about historical characters and enter into their lives, the more I realize that their motivations and struggles are fueled by the same needs that we have today — needs to belong, to be loved, and to find meaning in their lives and ultimately a need to find and know God.

Have you had to make any unexpected sacrifices in becoming a full-time professional author?

Well, I knew this year would be hard. I have one book out, one in production, and another to finish writing. So yes, I've had to give up any free time that I used to have. I try to still be available for my family, but even that is hard sometimes. Fortunately, I'm blessed with an understanding husband and kids. When I tell them I need to write, they are more than happy to head out the door and get dinner at their favorite restaurant!

Stephanie's Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Meet Biblical-historical author Stephanie Landsem on Everyone’s Story. (Tweet This)


Everyone has a story: biology major Stephanie Landsem turns author. (Tweet This)

Daughter to mother: Why aren’t you writing a book? And, mom, Stephanie Landsem did what? (Tweet This)

Win Stephanie Landem’s #BookGiveaway of THE WELL. (Tweet This)

Author Bio:
Stephanie Landsem writes historical fiction because she loves adventure in far-off times and places. In real life, she’s explored ancient ruins, medieval castles, and majestic cathedrals around the world. Stephanie is equally happy at home in Minnesota with her husband, four children, and three fat cats. When she’s not writing, she’s feeding the ravenous horde, avoiding housework, and dreaming about her next adventure—whether it be in person or on the page.


A Note From Elaine:

In following professionals' advice, I've started an Author's Page on Facebook. I'd love for you to Like it at : https://www.facebook.com/AuthorElaineStock

Thanks ♥


Friday, August 23, 2013

Candace Calvert: Holding Onto The Rein Of Faith

Everyone's Story is thrilled to host this week multi-published author Candace Calvert. I met Candace at the first ACFW Conference I attended and was touched by her warm greeting to me, a perfect stranger. Who would have known that we both had to overcome similar ailments and struggles? And that's one of the many reasons why I'm glad Candace is here with us because, as you will see when you read about her accident, we all fight the need to control our own lives only to find out time and painful time again that it's impossible. On a lighter note: I'd been so mesmerized by Candace's story that when typing this intro it just sunk into my mind that she's been offered a new 3-book contract on top of the 5 novels that she has published already. Congratulations, Candace! I am so very happy for you  And, check out the awesome Book Giveaway Candace is offering--you're going to love it! Both Candace and I are looking forward to seeing your comments.


BookGiveaway:
Candace is offering to five randomly chosen commenters one printed edition of one of the titles seen on this segment, with each winner receiving one book . The winners will be announced here on Friday, August 30th, between 5-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks! 




A Woman of Strength by Candace Calvert

“For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:10                                                      
I slid my boot into the stirrup that April day clueless I was about to face death, a ride that would forever change my life. I only knew spring had finally come after the most soul-bruising winters I’d ever experienced. In the previous eighteen months I’d endured the unexpected and painful end of a twenty-three year marriage followed by a flood that threatened what was left of my broken home. But on that April day I prided myself on being a survivor. I was a devoted single mother, a veteran ER nurse, an avid equestrienne and, mostly importantly, a Strong woman—capital ‘S.’ Things were under control again. I was fearless. Only weeks before, I’d proven it by strapping on a parachute and leaping from a plane at 13,000 feet. A skydiver, not a castoff wife: strong!

Wrong.

Only minutes after I settled into that saddle, my young thoroughbred spooked and then bucked, hurling me over his head and onto the ground. I heard bones shatter: eight ribs (one that bloodied my lung), my upper back, and my neck-- in three places. When I struggled to haul myself from the dirt, a shard of bone bit into my spinal cord causing my right arm to burn with searing pain. And then it went numb. Somehow I crawled through the fence, staggered back to my house and phoned for help.

Lying on a trauma gurney in my own ER, I felt anything but strong. Neck collar, oxygen, IV, urinary catheter, eighteen merciful milligrams of morphine, x-rays and a CT scan—I was on the wrong side of the stethoscope. The emergency team, my dear friends, did everything possible to help me, but before long I’d hear concerns about permanent spinal damage. My fear returned with a vengeance. I was losing control.

I had believed this to my core: A strong woman stays in control, always, and doesn’t fully trust anyone. After all, I’d trusted my husband and he left; I’d trusted the security of my home and the floodwaters came. The big question hit me as hard as that fall: Did I trust God? I prayed to Him, I worshipped Him, but did I really allow myself to depend on Him? A little card tucked onto my dresser mirror read, “Let Go and Let God,” yet I’d fought desperately to keep life’s reins in my own hands. And they were yanked away.

In the following months as I worked in physical therapy to regain full use of my arms, I had time to ponder and to pray. I wondered about my need to feel strong. Was it simply armor to ward off other unimaginable hurts? I began to set new priorities, evaluate success and survival in different ways. With great relief, I let God take the burdens from my battered shoulders. I began to feel, deep in my soul, that my life had been spared for a reason. God had a plan for me.

“By Accident,” the inspirational account of my riding accident, appears in Chicken Soup for the Nurse’s Soul and was my first published work. Since then I’ve published five (going on six) full-length Christian fiction novels, and recently signed a contract for three more. As with most authors, each story contains a bit of my own DNA. Disaster Status is the story of a feisty ER nurse who learns the difference between being a strong woman and a woman of strength. Code Triage is the heart-tugging story of a couple headed for divorce. And in Trauma Plan, a nurse who suffered a broken neck is determined to return to the career she loves. It even has a skydiving scene!

I have no doubt that God’s plan—the miracle that saved me that spring day—was to prepare me to write stories that inspire, encourage, and offer hope. Sometimes I joke that God had to drop this stubborn woman into the dirt and break her neck to finally get her attention. He made me weak long enough to teach me the difference between being strong and having strength.

 That difference is faith.

Thank you, Elaine, for hosting me here. I love this opportunity to connect with your readers!

Candice's Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Meet author and equestrienne-accident survivor Candace Calvert. (Tweet This)


Staying strong when things are out of control? Visit author Candace Calvert to see how. (Tweet This)

Candace Calvert on Everyone’s Story: when God lifts up your burden. (Tweet This)

Candace Calvert #BookGiveaway offer to 5 winners! (Tweet This)


Author Bio:
Candace Calvert is a former ER nurse who believes love, laughter and faith are the best medicines. Her Mercy Hospital and Grace Medical series offer readers a chance to “scrub in” on the exciting world of emergency medicine—along with a soul-soothing prescription for hope. Wife, mother, and very proud grandmother, she makes her home in northern California. 

Link up with Candace at:
Website
FaceBook
Twitter
Authors’ Galley Blog




A Note From Elaine:

In following professionals' advice, I've started an Author's Page on Facebook. I'd love for you to Like it at : https://www.facebook.com/AuthorElaineStock

Thanks ♥




Friday, August 16, 2013

Ed Chevrette. Jr.: Trusting On Solid Wings


Everyone's Story welcomes pilot and author, Edward Chevrette, Jr. I was introduced to Ed by a fellow parishioner and friend in church (hi, Bobbie!) and am excited to host Ed this week, not only because he has lots of exciting things to share but because he's also from my little corner of the world. Ed, a pilot, an award-winning flight instructor, and author, shares how he got started writing about his flying. He also would like to offer to 2 lucky winners an autographed copy of his  non-fiction book WINGS OF FORTUNE. Please see below for details. This exciting read is perfect for the plane enthusiast, as well as for any writer in need of research on piloting/aviation. Enjoy your visit with Ed. He's looking forward to seeing your comments.


Book Giveaway:
Ed is offering to two randomly chosen commenters a printed edition of WINGS OF FORTUNE. The winner will be announced here on Friday, August 23rd, between 4-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks! 

On Writing and Flying by Ed Chevrette. Jr.

I had always wanted to document my flying experiences for my family and friends, just a small ledger, or perhaps a paperback book, some reference for them to read and enjoy what I had experienced during my days as a pilot.

I hadn’t a clue how to write, let alone publish a document that was worth reading. On a lark, I went to the library and started writing on a computer and transferring this information to floppy discs that I purchased for 0.25 each, not knowing that this was the first step in what proved to be one of the most amazing experiences of my life.

June of 2007, the first copy of Wings of Fortune was printed, it soon appeared in two local bookstores in Troy and Albany, NY. December of the very same year I had my first book singing; from there I had several book signings, the book became a local best seller in a national book store locally as well as on line through the Troy Book Makers. By request, I have made several personal appearances for local pilot and library groups. At present, my book is available as an e-book through several stores and outlets including Amazon.

What is unique about the book, is that it is not only a memoir, and part of our local aviation history, but the book is written in the first person, so that the reader can be totally immersed in the stories, not just read about the experiences. As a reader, you will experience flying from the basic fabric covered Cub, to the cockpit of a sleek corporate jet. The reader will meet the pilots and share their camaraderie and humor; experience their tragedy and personal triumph. 

All the stories in my book are true and factual. For publishing purposes I had to change the last name of the characters, but they too, are real. Some of the aircraft are still around and flying to this date.

There are several incidents in the book the required some form of emergency procedure. One really stands out: I was on top of a snow shower at 8,000 feet, when I noticed that our electrical system was failing. I called Poestenkill airport to inform them of my predicament. I was informed that the airport had their own electrical problems and were in the process of repairing the problem. It was shortly after this we had an on board electrical fire which rendered the system inoperable. Lighting up cigarettes’ one after the other to monitor our flight instruments, we had no way to navigate or communicate.

Several minutes passed, when we were given a reprieve; a large hole in the cloud cover was our window of opportunity, for at the base of the cloud was the lighted runway at Poestenkill. We were all quite weary after our landing, when to my astonishment, it began to snow quite heavily while at the same time the runway lights were once again out of service. Fortune had shined its light. 

Questions for Ed:
What are the top character traits a pilot should have?

The top quality..Integrity, an absolute must especially when situations are not at their best.

You've probably heard such axioms related to trusting God during stressful times such as "There are no atheists in foxholes" and others murmur "When flying, I feel the closest to God ever." Do you have an original to add when it comes to flying without feet firmly planted on the ground?

There are many axioms, and I will not add any more here, other than the fact that the lure of flying is very difficult to resist and even harder to explain.

Did you have to overcome any fears when you first began to fly?

This answer should bring a smile to everyone's face; yes I was fascinated by anything that left the ground and stayed airborne until a predetermined time to return, and although I have a fear of heights, I found that not to be a factor when airborne. Wish I could say the same for standing on top of a ladder.

Ed's Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Meet pilot, award-winning flight instructor, and author Ed Chevrette. (Tweet This)

Everyone has a story: check out pilot Ed Chevrette’s. (Tweet This)

Need flying research? Like true aviation stories. Visit with Ed Chevrette. (Tweet This)

#BookGiveaway of WINGS OF FORTUNE by Ed Chevrette, pilot. (Tweet This)

Author Bio:
Born in Sunbury,PA and raised in the Capital District of New York, Ed graduated from Albany High School and attended Albany Business College. It was during this time he was a member of the local Cub Scout and Boy Scout organizations, afterward becoming a Cadet member of the local Civil Air Patrol Wing where he was the first Cadet to earn his Private Pilots License.

Ed began his flying career as a part time flight instructor at the Loudon Airport (now closed), and later at The Schenectady County Airport, Albany, Round Lake and Poestenkill airports on a full time basis. As the Chief Flight Instructor at the Poestenkill Airport, he instructed the ground and flight courses for an FAA Approved Flight School; this to include Private, Commercial And Instrument Flight Courses he personally wrote, and added to the curriculum, two Flight Instructor Courses, Multi Engine,and Airline Transport Pilot Rating Courses for both Single and Multi-Engine Aircraft. He was also under contract with The United States Navy to teach the basic flight courses to the ROTC Cadets at RPI in Troy, NY.

During his active flying career Ed was the holder of the coveted Gold Seal Flight Instructor Rating. Other accomplishments include an Associates Degree in Business Administration, Associates in General Science, Airline Transport Pilot Rating with a Learjet Type Rating, FAA Certificate of Accomplishment for 10,000 consecutive hours without an aircraft accident.

He enjoys watching the accomplishments of his three children in their adulthood, and enjoys living alone, his few close friends, golf, keeping fit and writing.

Links to connect with Ed:

More information of interest:



A Note From Elaine:

In following professionals' advice, I've started an Author's Page on Facebook. I'd love for you to Like it at : https://www.facebook.com/AuthorElaineStock

Thanks ♥

Friday, August 9, 2013

Sharon Srock: An Author's Lessons From Her Writing

Everyone's Story is pleased to host author Sharon Srock. This is Sharon's 2nd appearance on this blog (see her first visit here) and it's an awesome thrill to have watched Sharon on her journey from debut author to multi-published author. Sharon offers a reading excerpt from her novel TERRI and answers a few questions for us. Please join us this week for some fun, and if you have another question for Sharon leave it in a comment. We'd both love to here from you.


Book Giveaway:
Sharon is offering to one randomly chosen commenter one copy her novel THE WOMEN OF VALLEY VIEW: TERRI. The winner will be announced here on Friday, August 16th, between 4-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks! 



Blurb of Terri:
Despite a bustling day care center and a new foster child, Terri Hayes hungers for a family of her own. Then a plumbing mishap leaves her homeless and questioning God’s plan. Steve Evans’s gracious offer of his basement apartment as a temporary solution is an answered prayer.

Steve is a successful writer and a good father, but Terri is horrified when Steve’s book research leads him to a harsh confrontation with the parents of her foster child. She needs to distance herself from Steve, but her efforts fall short as his two scheming daughters plot to make Terri their new stepmother.

Will harsh words and sneaky plans drive Kelsey’s family further apart and put a wedge between Terri and Steve? Or does God have another plan in store?


An excerpt of Terri for your reading pleasure:

The Women of Valley View: Terri by Sharon Srock

Terri Hayes chewed her bottom lip and prayed. Outside her windows on this sunny Friday afternoon, the Oklahoma summer persisted in spite of the September date circled on her calendar. Her hands sweated, and she clasped them behind her back. She would have raked them through her hair, but she wanted to telegraph calm and collected, not the nervous anticipation churning like ocean waves in her stomach. The weeks of preparation, the evenings spent in class, the hours of prayer, all came down to this.
The curly black head of her visitor disappeared under the kitchen sink. Terri heard grunts and clanks as the woman shifted and examined the contents of the cabinet. Her visitor stood and yanked the top of her crisply tailored suit back into place, her stern face thoughtful as she scribbled notes on a clipboard.
Despite Terri’s desire for calm, her lip chewing graduated to nail biting. Had she missed something? “Ms. Wilson, I…”
Cindy Wilson held up a hand. “Please, Ms. Hayes, I prefer to conduct my investigation uninterrupted. We’ll discuss my findings when I’m done.”
 Terri swallowed her comments with a nod and trailed behind the imposing African-American woman whose job it was to poke and prod into every corner of Terri’s home. She ran through her own mental checklist as they proceeded from room to room. Outlets covered, medicines locked away, cleaning supplies stored out of reach, covers on all of her trash cans. A second perusal of Ms. Wilson’s expression produced no further insight. Pass or fail? Terri shook her head. I wonder if this woman plays poker.
Terri opened the door to the larger of her two spare bedrooms. The odor of fresh paint drifted out to greet them. This was the pride of her summer. She motioned her guest inside, aching to point out the highlights of what she’d worked so hard to accomplish, but she held her peace in the face of Ms. Wilson’s strident and silent inspection. More notes on the clipboard, murmurs, and hums. Approval or disapproval? How can I tell?
Inspection completed, Terri followed her visitor back to her sunken living room and made an effort to gain some control over the situation. “Have a seat, Ms. Wilson. I have iced tea or soda if you’d like something to drink”
“No, thank you.” Ms. Wilson sat on the sofa and studied her notes. Her pen tapped an annoying beat as she read. Terri took a chair across from her and waited in helpless anticipation.
“It says here that your decision to apply to our program was motivated by a television show. Can you clarify that for me, please?”
Terri clasped white-knuckled hands in her lap. “It was a documentary. I cried for the whole hour. It broke my heart to see so much to be done and so few people willing to make a difference.”
“So this is an emotional decision on your part?”
“Yes…I mean no. I—”


Questions for Sharon
I met you as an about-to-be debut author. Now, your third title is about to be released. What advice can the published author Sharon give the pre-published writer Sharon?

To slow down and enjoy the moment. I'm closer to sixty than I like to think about and, for me, there's been a certain urgency with every step of the journey. That first contract, the first edits, holding that first book in my hands. There are times when I've allowed the joy of those things to be overshadowed by what comes next.



There are just so many little steps that have to be followed to launch a book. It can be a lot overwhelming and a little pleasure stealing. When TERRI released last spring, I was still trying to promote CALLIE. I am so NOT good at being the person at the front of the room.

So breathe, enjoy the step you're taking today and let tomorrow's step happen tomorrow.

Do you keep a particular reading audience in mind when you write your stories? What makes you gravitate toward this readership?

I really don't. When I started CALLIE, I just knew that I wanted to appeal to a broad readership so I wrote in characters from age twelve to sixty.

I'm going to share a secret with you. I don't read much women's fiction. I'm more of a romantic suspense, mystery, courtroom drama type reader. So the fact that I write women's fiction remains a mystery and surprise. I've got readers that are men, kids as young as twelve, and women in their eighties. I'm amazed and all I can say is that it's a God thing.

What life lessons have your "ladies" (your characters) taught you? Any surprises?

Every book has yielded a surprising lesson to the author.

CALLIE taught me that God isn't satisfied with us parking next to our past failures, or successes. If we're parked, we aren't moving, if we aren't moving, we aren't growing.

TERRI taught me to trust in God's plan for my life, even if it felt wrong. He wants us to move from point A to point B, but the journey is rarely in a straight and predictable line.

PAM taught me lessons in forgiveness that I'm still processing.

SAMANTHA is teaching me lessons in endurance. Not so much in the story I'm telling, but the writing has been more of a challenge this time. But, we're getting there.

THANKS!!!!!

Sharon's Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Learn how new author Sharon Srock made journey from debut to multi-published. (Tweet This)



Everyone’s Story new #Giveaway: Sharon Srock’s THE WOMEN OF VALLEY VIEW: TERRI (Tweet This)

Discover why Sharon Srock has such a diverse reading audience. (Tweet This)

Bonus: Sharon, and her publisher, Pelican Book Group, have a bonus for you. Just click here.

Author Bio:
Sharon Srock went from science fiction to Christian fiction at slightly less than warp speed. Twenty five years ago, she cut her writer's teeth on Star Trek fiction. Today, she writes inspirational stories that focus on ordinary women using their faith to accomplish extraordinary things. A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Sharon serves her local chapter in the role of treasurer. Sharon lives in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma with her husband and three very large dogs. Her books include: The Women of Valley View: Callie and The Women of Valley View: Terri, both of which are currently available. The Women of Valley View: Pam will release in early 2014.

Connect with Sharon here:


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