Friday, June 29, 2012

Carla Olson Gade: A Maine Gal Writes About The West

Everyone’s Story welcomes author Carla Olson Gade. Carla lives in Maine, one of my favorite states to visit, and if you ever try driving from New Hampshire into Maine during the summer months, you will discover that there are droves of us diehard Maine fans that head north to scenic Maine. So, how does someone with a love of the Northeast end up writing about the old Western days? Come for a visit with Carla and find out. Also, enjoy some beautiful photos from Carla!

  1. Book Giveaway of Carla’s THE SHADOW CATCHER’S DAUGHTER

Carla is generously offering 1 copy of her new release to one randomly chosen commenter. Please leave your email address within the body of the comment. The winner will be announced Friday, July 6th. Here’s a blurb:
Set in Colorado & New Mexico in 1875, The Shadow Catcher’s Daughter is Carla’s debut novel, released through Harlequin’s Heartsong Presents book club. Eliana Van Horn aims to make her mark by joining her father as his photography assistant on an expedition to survey and document the placement of a marker at the intersection of four southwest boundaries. Living in the shadows of his native heritage, a half-Navajo guide, Yiska Wilcox, is thrown off course when The Shadow Catcher’s Daughter opens up the uncharted territory of his heart. As they travel through dangerous terrain in New Mexico and overcome barriers of culture, faith, ideals, and secrets that they both keep, they at last discover common ground and stake a chance on love.

How Does A Lover of New England History End Up Writing A Western Novel?
By Carla Olson Gade

I’ve been writing since I was a child and still have a story I penned in sixth grade. Over twenty years ago I had aspirations of getting published. At that time I wrote articles, devotionals, and stories for my children. For the past 12 or so years I’ve been writing inspirational historical fiction “stories” and began my pursuit to learn the craft of writing for publication and preparing to be an author.

Fort Knox on the Penobscot River with the quaint town of Bucksport in view. (Taken from the Penobscot Narrows Observatory -tallest public observatory in the world)

Since I grew up in New England, I’ve long been fascinated by the bountiful history there. Home for me as a child was Massachusetts and I spent many occasions visiting places like Boston, Plymouth, and Cape Cod. When I was in grade school my hometown of Wrentham celebrated its tri-centennial, which was great fun for a child like me with an enormous imagination. I think that was one of the catalysts that inspired me to learn more about the past – events, places, and the people who lived then.

My imagination always soared as I wondered about the “true” stories from history, and New England has a lot of them. You’d think that might make me become a non-fiction author, a biographer or such. In fact, I have written many non-fiction pieces through the years. But I recall the times of being enchanted by a wonderfully told story…and so often that is how I learned best. When I started reading inspirational historical fiction, not until I was an adult, I realized that was the type of story I wanted to tell – rich in history and woven together with faith.

        Heard of deer on their daily visit to my former neighbor's farm in Fairfield, Maine.

So how did I end up writing a western novel?

Darlene Franklin presented the concept to me for the historical series Love in Four Corners. She invited me and Susan Page Davis for this series, each of us setting our novel in a different time period relating to the Four Corners Monument at the intersection of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona – way out of my element. Yet, I have enjoyed reading some fiction set in the west, and addicted to Bonanza and Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, I thought I could meet the challenge. After doing a bit of research for the novel’s setting I was hooked and The Shadow Catcher’s Daughter was born.

When I did my research, I became fascinated with the idea of my characters joining a survey expedition, fictitiously of course, though the survey is an historical event. I appointed Yiska as the guide and Eliana as a photography assistant. By the way, Shadow Catcher is what Native Americans called photographers, thus the title! I believe it was providential for me to write this when I did as this book became a tribute to my stepfather who passed away during the writing of it. He was my go-to guy when I needed someone to answer questions about the Wild West.

And there you have it! I have lots of stories yet to be told and my next two books releasing are set in colonial New England – Colonial Courtships this October and Pattern for Romance in 2013. But you never know, I might have another western in me yet!
    Portland Head Light House on the rocky coast of Portland in Casco Bay, a family favorite.

Have any interest-turn-motivation stories for writing or reading that you'd like to share with Carla? She'd love to hear from you.
Author Bio:

Carla Olson Gade has been imagining stories most her life. Her love for writing and eras gone by turned her attention to writing historical Christian romance. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Maine Fellowship of Christian Writers. An autodidact, creative thinker, and avid reader, Carla also enjoys genealogy, web design, and photography. A native New Englander, she writes from her home in beautiful rural Maine where she resides with her “hero” husband and two young adult sons.

You can find Carla on the web at:    

Autographed copies are available through Signed by the Author.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Ward Foley: Thanking His Lucky Scars

Everyone’s Story welcomes Ward Foley as its new guest this week. Ward, aka Scarman, was born with a rare congenital disorder called Arthrogryosis Multiplex Congenita (AMC), a painful and often debilitating disorder. Instead of letting AMC control his life, Ward followed the path that God wanted him to walk down. Along the way he met many special people, encountered extraordinary life lessons, and encouraged countless of souls. How? As the title of his memoir says, he thanked his lucky scars! On his FB page he often highlights children with AMC, saying “My Favorite (name of person)." I’m honored that My Favorite Ward is paying us a visit.

Book Giveaway: Ward is offering a copy of his book THANK MY LUCKY SCARS to 2 different lucky commenters. I just finished reading this book last night and can easily say that this is the most uplifting book I have ever read. For ease, please leave your email address within the comment.

Ward would like to share this with you:

Ward, I congratulate you on choosing such an excellent, eye-catching title for your memoir, THANK MY LUCKY SCARS. It well expresses your positive attitude. We all have scars, whether physical or emotional. Through God’s grace we’ve become stronger people because of these scars. Do you have any encouragement to those with tender, fresh scars?

Thank you. A friend who designed the cover of my book also suggested the title, and I agreed.

Good question! We’re not given a good life or bad life. God gives us life and it’s up to us to make it good or bad. We all have scars, (some we can see and some we can’t) some emotional, some physical. My work with recovering alcoholics and addicts has taught me that sometimes emotional pain is harder to deal with than physical. And my work with Hospice has shown me that being there for others, just being available can make all the difference.

But, the key thing in dealing with any type of scar is to allow yourself to make mistakes. It’s okay to say, I hurt. It’s okay to mess up. Sure, you have to love others unconditionally but it’s very important to love yourself unconditionally!

And, give to others. You’ll be amazed at the peace you will receive by both getting out/over yourself as well as by helping others. Helping others can truly be one of the greatest gifts to our self.

You write about how a disability does not equal the end of life but rather can be the beginning. Please explain.

Here’s the reality: no one really has the control they think over what happens in their life. I first began to realize this when working with dying patients in Hospice. When we become more vulnerable by accepting our weaknesses then we can actually become stronger and begin to find peace.
Recovering alcoholics, addicts, and parents who have sadly lost a child seem to like THANK MY LUCKY SCARS the most because of the message of hope. Hope is something we all need. When we accept and embrace the hardships we will then begin to heal. When we TRY to take the worst and make it a positive we begin to see hope.

You “bribed” a friend to accompany you cross-country while you bicycled with promises of seeing miracles. Would you like to share one of these experiences?

We never expected to meet the people we did. One of the biggest miracles occurred in Dallas-Ft. Worth. The TV news picked up my story of bicycling cross-country. This resulted in me meeting a family who had a boy with AMC. Unfortunately, their boy had died. I still keep in touch and what a blessing this family has been to me throughout the years.
In comparing children with AMC to celebrities, you try to remember everyone is equally famous in the eyes of God. Beautifully stated! Yet, you confess you’ve had trouble believing this about yourself. Please share.

One of the hardest things for me was accepting myself. I always wanted to be “normal”—whatever that is! By accepting myself as is—the whole package deal—my life changed for the best. It emotionally liberated me. I realized it’s okay to be who I am. Everyone’s normal is relative to himself or herself. God loves each of us for who we are.

I can relate to your frustration about trying to do the best in life, but sometimes it’s not “good enough.” When you relayed this to your friend Steve he replied: “He knows it.” Share with viewers about who He is.

Although it was Steve and I, alone in the room, I know that God spoke though him, that God was saying directly to me that He knows I am trying the best that I can and that is all that matters. Society says success is about money. Who has the biggest house, the best job, etc? That’s not God’s definition. Success is not about being on Oprah, but visiting with someone and or offering a smile to a stranger. Focus on God. Walk with God. The expectation from society and us is a lot of that weight that presses down on our shoulders.

I just read a great quote by actor Martin Sheen: “The most important thing is that regret is useless and faith is necessary and love is everything.” Any thoughts?

I agree 100%. It’s all about that unconditional love I mentioned—the unconditional love not of only others but of yourself. I once gave a speech to 400 kindergarteners up through third graders in a Christian school. I tried to phrase things simply: God is love. The more you love the closer you are to God. And, resentment of others takes us away from that love, God.

By the way, I still have those 400 thank-you cards that those kids sent to me.

You go by the AKA “Scarman.” How do you hope God sees you?

Ward's favorite Alayna with her doll
I believe God sees all of my good, all of my bad, and accepts me for who I am. He knows I keep trying and sees my true heart.

I have several ladies who volunteer to make blank cloth dolls. We then distribute them at AMC conferences—and wherever I go—and ask children to draw in their scars. By doing so I’m hoping they learn to love and accept who they are, and that God loves them just the way they are.

That’s what this life comes down to: unconditional love for yourself, for others, giving yourself to others, and finding the peace that God wants you to enjoy.

Have you been on the receiving end of any encouragement? Or, have you uplifted anyone's spirits? Ward will enjoy hearing from you.

Author Bio:

Ward Foley was born with multiple birth defects and very little chance to live.  But he did, only to undergo decades of surgery, agonizing rehabilitation, ridicule, and humiliation. He was also severely burned in a deep fryer, beat up, and almost killed by a drunk driver.

In his mid-twenties, Ward married and adopted two infant children. Relocating from California to Kansas, he coached little league, taught Sunday school and served as a community volunteer. Today, Ward is a happily married man and his two children have recently graduated college.

It turns out that each “scar” in his life brought Foley one step closer to the people and experiences that would give him what he wanted most.

After the death of a close friend, Foley found himself entering the world of hospice care and a circle of people who had more to teach him than he ever imagined.

Since the publication of his memoir, Thank My Lucky Scars, in 2006, Ward has emerged as a popular and sought-after motivational speaker, in addition to his regular hospice work. He has spoken in myriad venues across the country, bringing forth a different kind of hope with his message of faith, endurance, and inspiration.

Relevant Links:

You can find Ward at:

Friday, June 15, 2012

Ane Mulligan: The Queen Of Platform

Everyone's Story welcomes Ane Mulligan. Everyone, it seems, connected to writing knows Ane! And loves Ane. With grace, humor, willingness to roll up her sleeves to combat hard work, and most of all, her eagerness in helping others, there's a great reason or hundred and so to admire this very special and lovely woman.

Ane is sharing with us tips for mastering social media rather than social media mastering/controlling us. Please join us for fun and awesome information. Ane looks forward to hearing from you if you'd like to ask her advice on building your author's platform... of if you'd just enjoy saying hello. And, of course, I'd enjoy hearing from you as well.

Questions for Ane:

Sara Wannabe-Author has prepared and perfected her pitch for the upcoming writer’s conference and has built up a solid platform. Yet, she struggles with the logistics of how to work the platform success into her pitch. Does she start with a hooking story concept and then casually drop a “oh, by the way, my very active social media site BetterThanFaceBook.Com is doing gangbusters worldwide,” or do you suggest the opposite?

Always start with the hook. If they're interested then you launch into your platform, but after you've discussed the story.

Courtesy Google Images

Ane, I admire your Internet presence, especially how you come across enjoying the time you put into it. What tips can you share in time management: platform building vs. writing time?

It's a balance, but I spend 3-4 hours a day writing and maybe 2 on platform building.
That time can be broken into small chunks, too. During lunch, I check Facebook, coffee break gets a tweet or two. It's manageable if you don't get caught up in the social media.

With Novel Rocket, I have my days booked into next year already. During the 3rd week of then month, I email next month's guests, reminding them of their dates and their deadlines. I can take the guest post as early as they want to send it, but the deadline is 1 week prior to posting. That way, if they miss the deadline (rarely happens) I can either write something or pull from another source and schedule it.

The biggest problem is controlling your social media time. When I first got involved, I spent way too much time and deleted my accounts. A year later and lots wiser, I reopened them. Now I have my personal blog auto-posts to Facebook and Twitter, and I blurb Novel Rocket on those as well. That takes all of 3 minutes.

Is there such a creature as Over-Platform in that too many venues can work against you?

Well, too many social media can waste your time—especially if you're friends with all the same people. I choose to use the largest, and those that will return the most for my time. For instance, the largest demographic on Pinterest is of stay-at-home moms. And a huge number of those are readers.  

So choose the social media or platform that will give you a large audience of readers. One of the best for that is The Book Club Network, which connects writers with book clubs. 

Other than your own sites or friends or your Great Aunt Tilda’s The Lost Soul Blog (only kidding!), what are some of Ane Mulligan’s favorite sites to enjoy downtime? 

I just gave you one, The Book Club Network, and others are Girls Write Out, Southern BelleView, Seekerville, Chip MacGregor's blog, A Life in Pages, and the list goes on. I join a lot of blogs and get them via email. I save them for after dinner viewing while the hubs is watching a sporting event. ;o)

If Story is King Platform is Queen by Ane Mulligan

In the court of publishing, if story is king, platform is queen. You’ve written a great novel, but so have a lot of folks. How do you sweeten the deal to increase your odds of earning a publishing contract? By having a ready-made readership before you’re published.  

When I first started writing, I heard one of the things an editor will do when considering your proposal is look at your Internet presence; they Google your name. I tried it and came up with nothing. Nada. Zip.

So, my critique partners and I worked hard building a web presence. First, we started Novel Journey (now Novel Rocket), which has been listed in Writers Digest's 101 Top Websites for Writers numerous times.

The next steps were a website, a personal blog, and taking advantage of all the social media that came along: Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and a host of others.

Some cool benefits have come my way from the hard work. While I don't have a book contract yet, I'm often asked to endorse books as senior editor of Novel Rocket. It cracks me up, but there it is. Google my name today and see what you find. If I'd been trying to keep a low profile, it hasn't work.

I'm often asked, "What should I put on my blog?" Here's a few ideas:

Tie the blog topic into your writing. For example, if you are a devotional writer, have a devotional blog. If you write westerns, your blog could be cowboy focused, etc.
Romance writers could feature “how they met” stories, etc. Below are ideas of things to include:
  • Hobbies
  • Your journey
  • Links to other blogs or news articles
  • Book reviews
  • Find a niche (eg. review only writing ‘how to’ books, blog just writer’s conference information, all about your favorite writer (make sure this is a big name)
  • What have you searched for on the Internet and weren’t able to find?
And here are few traffic secrets:
  • Link to other blogs (networking)
  • Lots of Content (this doesn't mean long posts, but lots of fresh ones)
  • Blogrolls/Rings
  • Feature other blogs (or give awards for the best western blog, writer’s blog, etc.) The winner will mention the “award” and link to your site
  • Send an e-mail to everyone in your address book about your blog launch
  • Add your blog address to your email signature
  • When you write articles, etc, make sure your site is plugged
  • Leave comments on other blogs. Add buttons to Tweet, Facebook, Google+, etc your blog post
A WORD OF CAUTION: Be discerning on what you put into cyberspace. The publishing world is incredibly small, and one post taken the wrong way, can come back to haunt you. When in doubt, cut it out.

You can find me hanging out at Novel Rocket or at Southern-fried Fiction, my personal website/blog. Follow me on Twitter or Facebook.

Thanks for having me! 

Author Bio:

Sr. Editor of the award-winning literary site, Novel Rocket, Ane Mulligan is a published playwright, a syndicated blogger, sought after book reviewer, multi-published playwright and humor columnist for ACFW's Journal, as well as being a three-time finalist in the Genesis and BRMCWC Writers fiction contests. 

Friday, June 8, 2012

Pat Simmons: Listening To God And Finding Family Along The Way

Everyone's Story welcomes author Pat Simmons. Pat is an amazing and fascinating woman, accomplishing the publication of several single-title novels, a career in media for 20 years, and  family genealogy research, unlike myself who keeps saying I'll do it one of these days. Yet, if you ask Pat, I'm certain she'd say her life revolves around what God wants for her.

**Book Giveaway**

Pat is graciously offering one copy of her new release THE GUILT TRIP to one randomly chosen commenter. For convenience only, please leave your email address within your comment. Thanks!

First, A Few Questions for Pat Simmons:
I’m particularly fascinated and awed of your genealogical research on your family, especially because my own family has seldom shared any details. Has knowing your past re-shaped your present? 


And, do you believe this knowledge is helping you to take certain distinct steps toward a future that you may not have thought twice about if you hadn’t known your heritage? 

My research on my mother’s side has led me to Robert Jamison, the man who enslaved my second great-grandmother. Living in his house, as a guest, was John Wilkinson who fathered two sons with my second great-grandmother. As an African-American, I’m saddened by what my ancestors went through, but knowing the facts strengthens my resolve and being a Holy Ghost filled Christian, I know I can go through anything and make it like they did. Since I weave genealogy into my Guilty storylines, it’s important to provide the history and then give a Christian response.  

The RT (Romantic Times) Convention is a huge event. You oversee the media publicity for these mega annual functions that bring publishers, authors, and book fans together under one roof. Coupled with your media background in radio, television, and print, I’d think this is instrumental in your own promotion of your novels. Any tips in circulating the buzz? 

Oh, Elaine, how much time do we have? My background does help, but it is not enough time in the day to write and promote. Sometimes, it feels like I have to choose either one or the other. I’m big on promotional items and give-a-ways. I sign at several military bases throughout the year that puts me in contact with people from all over the country. That’s in addition to being on Twitter and Facebook. I also have a newsletter that I send out on a monthly basis. Last year, with the encouragement by a friend, I started to write ebook novellas. That has drawn people to my main books. I have polo shirts and hoodies that my family wears whenever we are out. I participate in vendor days at companies. I go to conferences armed his postcards and flyers to hand out and I do workshops…are we tired yet? LOL.

In working with you preparing this blog segment, your sense of humor is copious and delightful. How would you describe your novels—humorous, pensive, or a touch of everything? 

Humor first and definitely emotional. I want people to believe I’m a nurse or teacher or military brat or whatever role my character is playing and I want my readers to see the location.

When not working—writing, promoting, researching of any nature—what does Pat Simmons claim as downtime? 

Sew, but even I put myself on a schedule for that. I put one load of clothes in and when that cycle is finished, I’m finished sewing for the day. I also schedule my housework, breakfast, etc. It’s the only way I can multi-task.

Thanks for hosting me, Elaine. It’s been fun!

A Different Kind Of Brand by Pat Simmons
Genealogy was my brand before I even knew there was such a thing in publishing.  Guilty of Love was actually the third novel I wrote, but the first one that was published. The amazing thing is I didn’t want to write the story because of the subject matter: abortion. After I gave it some thought, I realized that I could write ten novels and none of them would be successful until I wrote the one God told me to. Let me tell what Jesus did. That book broke sales records for the imprint that year. It also established my writing career. The Guilty series now called the Jamieson Legacy will probably go to seventeen books. Look at Jesus. What would have happened if I didn’t say, yes Lord?

Prior to starting that book, I became interested in my family’s genealogy. I decided to incorporate some of my family names into the stories in hopes of tracking now distant relatives who might pick up the book and recognize names.

I chose Charlotte for my main character’s mother. Charlotte was my maternal grandmother and my maternal great-great grandmother. Then on to the last name. I needed something that had a distinguished ring. Somehow Jamiesons stuck, thus creating Parke K. Jamieson VI. He and his brothers became the strong, successful and confident men who were the tenth generation descendants of a royal African tribe.

My maternal grandmother’s last name was Wilkerson. I located Charlotte Wilkerson along with her two sons: William (my great grandfather b. 1866) and his brother Samuel (b. 1868), on the 1880 census. I hit a wall when I went back to the 1870 census. I couldn’t locate them. I turned to other genealogy enthusiasts to help in the hunt for Charlotte Wilkerson and her two sons who would have been four and two. It’s amazing how savvy some these sleuths are. A few days later, they came back with information that made me hold my breath.

It appears that Charlotte’s last name was actually Jamieson. Eerie, huh?  I had no idea I was giving my character the exact FIRST and LAST name after an ancestor.

Since 1870, was the first year blacks were counted as free, I searched the 1860 slaveholders’ schedules. Sure enough, Robert Jamieson was the slaveholder over my great-great grandmother. In his household, there was a guest and “teacher in the academy”, John Wilkerson (my white great-grandfather).

So for six years, the Guilty series has captivated Black and White readers alike with strong Black families and historical facts that are weaved into contemporary storylines. Now the Guilty series is called The Jamieson Legacy under the Lift Every Voice imprint.  My newest release is The Guilt Trip. 

Do you have a question for Pat on genealogy or PR methods? Want to share how you trust God in your writing? Pat looks forward to hearing from you.

Author Bio:
Pat Simmons is a self-proclaimed genealogy sleuth. She is passionate about researching her ancestors, then casting them in starring roles in her novels.  She hopes her off- beat method will track down distant relatives who happen to pick up her books. She has been a genealogy enthusiast since her great-grandmother died at the young age of ninety-seven years old in 1988. 

She describes the evidence of the gift of the Holy Ghost as an amazing, unforgettable, life-alternating experience. She believes God is the author who advances the stories she writes. 

Pat has a B.S. in mass communications from Emerson College in Boston, Massachusetts. She has worked in various media positions in radio, television, and print for more than twenty years. Currently, she oversees the media publicity for the annual RT Booklovers Conventions. 

She is the author of eight single titles and several ebook novellas. Her awards include Talk to Me, ranked #14 of Top Books in 2008 that Changed Lives by Black Pearls Magazine. She is a two-time recipient of the Romance Slam Jam Conference’s Emma Rodgers Award for Best Inspirational Romance for Still Guilty (2010) and Crowning Glory (2011).

Pat has converted her sofa-strapped, sports-fanatical husband into an amateur travel agent, untrained bodyguard, and GPS-guided chauffeur. They have a son and daughter.  

Pat’s interviews include numerous appearances on radio, television, blogtalk radio, blogs, and feature articles.

Links To Find Pat:

Pat's Websites:

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