Friday, July 25, 2014

Stephanie Landsem: Stepping Back Into The Biblical Days

Everyone's Story once again welcomes warmly author Stephanie Landsem. Look at Stephanie's  online reviews and you will read praises for her novels in all vital areas of storytelling: setting, plot, and characterization. In other words, in addition to Stephanie being a pleasure to work with and host, she's an author for other writers to learn from and for readers, truly an author to entertain and to make the reader think. I hope you are as thrilled as I am that she visits with us this week. Please check out Stephanie's Book Giveaway, and then the handful of questions she answers. If you have another question or would like to say hello, please leave a comment. We're both looking forward to hearing from you.

Book Giveaway:Stephanie is offering one copy of her novel THE THIEF to one randomly chosen commenter. The winner will be announced here on Friday, August 1st, between 5-6 PM EST. To be entered in the Giveaway, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!

Here's a glimpse from THE THIEF: excerpt

  Questions for Stephanie:
Tell us about your mindset as a contemporary author writing historical fiction. Do you go about your day, interacting with family and friends, running errands, preparing meals or snarling at the laundry mountain, in a constant how-would-they-have-done-it centuries ago? 

I love this question because I’ve always done that. Even when I was a kid I was fascinated by how every day tasks were done centuries ago— and became even more so as I had children of my own. I remember one beautiful summer day when I had three little ones and was pregnant with my fourth. I threw in a load of clothes, put some dinner in the crockpot and turned on the dishwasher, then took them all out for a day at the park with friends. I remember thinking, “Wow. That never could have happened even 100 years ago.” On the other hand, I sometimes envy my historical characters for their slower-paced lives that seem more family oriented than what we have today.

Now a multi-published author of historical fiction set in Biblical times (with THE TOMB releasing in early 2015), how do you see your reading audience and their reading desires and interests?

I see my readers as my biggest inspiration. Their encouragement and comments on my books are what keeps me going. From what I’ve heard from them, I believe my readers want two things: a good story and to deepen their faith. First, readers love to be transported into the fictional world and imagine that they are ‘right there’ in the story. Second, they want to have new insight into their faith. I often hear that my stories inspire readers to go back to the Bible and read it with fresh eyes and new understanding. My hope with each book is to deliver both.

In hindsight, what would you advise the debut author Stephanie Landsem? And projecting ahead with what you’ve learned so far on this published author’s journey, what type of things are you on the lookout to avoid in the future?

I’d tell debut author Stephanie to take a deep breath and keep her eyes on the horizon. It’s so easy to see the mountain of tasks for each day—word count, editing, marketing—and forget to raise my eyes up and remember why I’m writing books. I want to always remember how truly blessed I am to share these stories with my readers.

Has researching your novels taught you any fascinating wonders you’d like to share?

Yes! More than I can write about here. As probably any historical novelist would tell you, the amount of research we do to make our stories accurate is far more than you ever see in our books. There is so much left in my head that when I have time, I blog about my historical research on my website in case any readers want to learn about the cool things I find that didn’t make it into the story.

Other than Jesus Himself, if you could step back into the time of your novels to interview one person for research for a novel, whom would you choose? What top 3 questions might you ask?

That is a hard question! I just finished edits on my third novel in the series, The Tomb, so I would have to say that the one person I’d most like to interview would be Lazarus. I’d love to ask him what it was like to die and how did he feel physically when he came back to life in the tomb. And then I’d like to know what he was thinking when he walked out of that tomb and saw Jesus and his sisters.

Do you have a reoccurring author’s theme in your novels?

The underlying theme of all the novels in The Living Water series is this: What does it mean to encounter Jesus, the Incarnation of God?  Whether my characters are a poor Samaritan, a desperate thief, a Roman centurion, or lifelong friends of Jesus like Martha and Lazarus, each of them faces this fundamental question. In the end, I think it’s the ultimate question that we all must ask ourselves.

For fun: if you were gifted 3 weeks to reread 3 novels, which preteen novels would you gladly pick up again?

You really do ask some brutal questions, Elaine! Hmm. I’d go with the classics that bring back great memories of reading away the summer hours when I was a kid:

Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott (my favorite by Louisa)

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis (I know it isn’t a single novel but I’m a fast reader)

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley (I love horses and was sure I was going to be a jockey when I grew up)

Thanks for having me Elaine, it is always truly a pleasure to chat with you.

To view Stephanie's previous guest appearance on Everyone's Story, please see Illuminating History Through Fiction

Stephanie's Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Get into the mindset of Biblical fiction characters with author Stephanie Landsem. (Tweet This)

Like #BiblicalFiction? See what inspires author Stephanie Landsem. #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Writing Fun: Everyone’s Story hosts Stephanie Landsem #ChristianFiction #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Author's 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.

Places to connect with Stephanie:

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:

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