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Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Snowflake Tiara... in Kenya?

My most recent book, Snowflake Tiara, co-written with Angela Breidenbach, released a few weeks ago. It contains a pair of Christmas romances not only set firmly in Montana, USA, but also meant to highlight Montana's 125th year of statehood as well as the 150th anniversary of its capital city, Helena.

Please don't make me turn in my Canadian card!

Admittedly, it seems very strange to showcase Helena, Montana, as thoroughly as I did in my contemporary novella, More Than a Tiara. While my story hinges on Angela's historical novella (set in 1889 as Montana becomes a state), its purpose is to spread awareness of needs in a far greater capacity.


One thing Angela's character and mine have in common is their compassion for children in need. In 1889, Helena was the last stop for the Orphan Train. Any unclaimed children were dropped off here. When Calista meets a mistreated six-year-old indentured servant from a brothel, Calista knows she must do something, not only for little Lea, but for all the children she sees on the streets.

Fast-forward 125 years. Calista's 3x great-granddaughter, Marisa, also has a heart of compassion for kids. This was primed during her years of modeling shoots in glamorous locations, like the beaches of Kenya, where she became acquainted with missionaries working among the Masai. Now that she's back on the family farm near Helena, Marisa and her mother open part of their property to young moms on social assistance, teaching them to grow and process some of their own food. At her core, Marisa has been challenged to meet the needs of children.

It's a sad fact that there are kids without nutritious food to eat all over this planet. Without safety. Without nurturing and love. And, in many cases, without people who care. It's so easy to be overwhelmed by all the need. I know. I'm there, hardly knowing where to start, knowing the problem is too huge for me. But not too big for God.

A vintage postcard from my father's collection

Snowflake Tiara is a pair of long novellas with a wintery Christmas setting. You'll enjoy cocoa and gingerbread cookies, sledding and skating parties, decorations and Christmas trees, and harps, penny whistles, and flutes playing Away in a Manger and other carols.

But throughout both tales of beauty, talent, and pageantry, you'll be reminded of children around the globe whose needs are much more basic. Like the little Lord Jesus, many little ones have no crib for a bed. The prayer in Away in a Manger asks God to bless all the dear children in His tender care. It's my prayer, too.

How can we help? This is my question for you today. I'm offering one ebook copy of Snowflake Tiara to someone who replies by comment before the end of the month. This isn't a competition or a "look at me and what charities I'm involved in" request. I'd like a thoughtful discussion of the topic.

The story's tagline? Is all about the children.

What if you were caught doing something good, but the man you loved didn't see it that way?


The Debutante Queen by Angela Breidenbach ~ 1889 (Helena, MT): Calista Blythe enters the first Miss Snowflake Pageant celebrating Montana statehood to expose the plight of street urchins. But if her hidden indentured orphan is discovered, Calista’s reputation and her budding romance with pageant organizer, Albert Shanahan, could both unravel. Will love or law prevail?

More Than a Tiara by Valerie Comer ~ 2014 (Helena, MT): Marisa Hiller’s interest in competing in Miss Snowflake Pageant for the city of Helena’s 150th anniversary is at zip zero zilch when she discovers the official photographer is Jase Mackie. Can Jase make amends for past mistakes and offer her, not only a tiara, but a partner in her crusade to help needy children and families?

Interested in reading Snowflake Tiara? I'm offering one reader a digital copy, your choice of mobi (for Kindle) or epub (for most other ereaders). If you'd like to put your name in the hat, please add your email address with your comment no later than Tuesday, September 30, replacing @ with (at) and .com with (dot) com.

"Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws."

Valerie Comer's life on a small farm in western Canada provides the seed for stories of contemporary inspirational romance. Like many of her characters, Valerie and her family grow much of their own food and are active in the local food movement as well as their church. She only hopes her creations enjoy their happily ever afters as much as she does hers, shared with her husband, adult kids, and adorable granddaughters.

Valerie writes Farm Lit where food meets faith, injecting experience laced with humor into her stories. Her debut novel, Raspberries and Vinegar: A Farm Fresh Romance, was awarded Best Contemporary Romance published in 2013 by The Word Guild.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

SUNDAY EDITION


Coming Up This Week

Monday

Christine Lindsay

Tuesday

Valerie Comer: Snowflake Tiara... in Kenya?

Wednesday

Rita Galieh: Words and Pictures

Thursday

Sara Goff

Friday Devotion

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Contest Winners


Jenny Blake is the winner of the $10 Amazon.com Gift Card (Narelle's post, September 15)

Congratulations Jenny!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

New Book Releases

Christine Lindsay's historical romance, Veiled at Midnight, Book 3 of Twilight of the British Raj series, will be a September 2014 release from WhiteFire Publishing.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance novella is included in Snowflake Tiara, releasing independently in September 2014. Her novella, The Model Queen, will be paired with author Angela Breidenbach's historical novella, The Debutante Queen, both set in the US.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Upcoming Book Releases

Narelle Atkins' contemporary romance set in Australia, Her Tycoon Hero, will be a November 2014 release from Love Inspired Heartsong Presents.

Sandra Orchard’s romantic suspense set in Washington State, USA, Identity Withheld, will be a November 2014 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Sweetened with Honey, Book 3 in the Farm Fresh Romance series, releases independently in November 2014.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in Georgia, USA, Hidden Agenda, Book 3 in her Southern Crimes series, will be a January 2015 release from Revell.

Donna Fletcher Crow's murder mystery set in England, A Newly Crimsoned Reliquary, book 5 in the Monastery Murders series "Murder stalks the hallowed shrines of Oxford" is available now in ebook format, and will be a January 2015 print release from Monarch Books. 

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in Paris, France, Taken, will be a February 2015 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Narelle Atkins' contemporary romance set in Australia, Winning Over the Heiress, will be a February 2015 release from Love Inspired Heartsong Presents.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Dandelions for Dinner, Book 4 in the Farm Fresh Romance series, releases independently in spring 2015.

Sandra Orchard’s romantic mystery set in Niagara, Canada, title TBA, Book 3 in her Port Aster’s Secrets series, will be a June 2015 release from Revell.

To find more International Christian Fiction books, please visit our 2013 - 2015 Book Releases page and Backlist Titles.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

8 Things I Wish You Knew About New Zealand

Good old Kiwiland. People in other places have various ideas about us, some right, some way off track, some merely insufficient to describe what we've got downunder here. I am now going to attempt to clear up some of these misunderstandings.

(An image of some classic Kiwi icons, generally known as Kiwiana. Which ones do you know?)

1. It's just like in the movies. You know, the ones with the hobbits and wizards and such. Amazing mountains, rolling plains suitable for epic battles, empty roads stretching to the horizons. You can even go and enjoy a banquet in the Green Dragon Inn. Everything you've seen in the background of those scenes - it's true New Zealand.

2. It's not at all like in the movies. They left out all our cities, our beaches, our farms and industrial areas. While the movie images are true, they are more like the half-truth we've all heard about. New Zealand is so much more than that.  Come and slog through a cow paddock, observe Queen Street for an hour, visit Takapuna Beach the day after Christmas - good luck finding a spot to lay out your towel!

3. It's really far from, like, everywhere. Supposedly it's only two hours' flight to Australia, but I've never been on one that got there that quickly. Call it four hours and we're probably nearer the mark. It's about ten hours from Japan, twelve from Hong Kong and the American West Coast; twenty-four to London, in either direction. I really wish sub-orbital transport would go mainstream.

4. It's not really that far from anywhere. Sure, so it'll take a whole day to get here, but pretend you're in your car and it won't seem so unreasonable. From most anywhere on the planet, you can catch two flights and be here no later than the next day. Okay, the flight is certainly gruelling - it's no pleasure to sleep sitting upright - but it's not the worst thing in the world by far.

5. It's a little small country. We have 4 million people, which is less than the population of Ireland, say, or Colorado or Missouri. We have a saying that the world's six degrees of separation become just two degrees hereabouts. Everyone's a friend of a friend.

6. It's a big, wide open country. There's lots of wild land and untamed space... if you lay a map of New Zealand over one of Europe, we'll stretch from the German North Sea coast all the way to the tip of Italy's boot, or from Seattle to San Diego. Admittedly some of that length is only a few miles wide, but that has the distinct advantage that no one has to live more than an hour from a beach.

7. We do speak English here. I'll never forget the lady I met on a Greyhound in Kansas: when I told her where I'm from, she commended me on my grasp of the language. Legitimate questions may arise as to our understanding of American slang, however I'm quick to assure folks that we do get most of our movies and TV from there. We learned to interpret.

8. We have our very own brand of English here. We share some of its words with other British-influenced lands, but much of our slang is home-grown. Heapsa poncey pavlova from the dairy at the bach in the wop-wops for Waitangi and a chocka tiki tour in sweet-as jandals, anyone? Don't let your noggin get munted, just have a cuppa and she'll be right.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Christian Fiction


Last time I posted I had just had our second baby girl.

That was seven weeks ago at the end of July.

And yesterday I had my last appointment with my OBGYN.

What does this have to do with writing you ask?

Well, I gave my doctor my first book, Highland Hearts, as a thank you gift.

And that brings me to today’s topic: Has anyone ever had a bad experience giving a reader a book or introducing them to Christian fiction?

I’m lucky to say that I have not. Most people are quite happy by the gesture—if not shocked to find out that they know an author—and I think that’s wonderful, because I didn’t know that Christian fiction existed until several years ago, and I wish I had known about it all my life, because from the moment I read my first Inspirational novel I was hooked. And now, I’m so glad that God has put me in a position to be an ambassador.

I have much to be thankful for this year and I hope you do as well!

Enjoy the remaining days of summer and God Bless!


Eva Maria Hamilton is the author of Highland Hearts, a Love Inspired Historical novel published by Harlequin. Her novel, Highland Hearts, won 2nd Place in the Historical Romance, as well as the Traditional/Inspirational Romance Categories in the Heart of Excellence Reader’s Choice Awards, and was an Inspirational Series Finalist in the 2013 Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.


Highland Hearts

Scotland 1748
The Battle of Culloden is over, but one Highlander’s fight has just begun…
Logan McAllister survived years of indentured servitude in the Americas to reach this moment. Now he’s returned to Scotland, ready to redeem the secret promise from Sheena Montgomery’s father – that his years as an indentured servant would earn him Sheena’s hand in marriage. But when he arrives home, he learns that Sheena’s father has died, his contract has been lost… and Sheena is engaged to another man.


To connect with Eva Maria Hamilton online, please visit her at 
www.evamariahamilton.com

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Hugh de Singleton: Surgeon, Bailiff and Reluctant 14th Century Detective

I’m only on book four in Mel Starr’s fabulous medieval mystery series, and book seven is already out in the UK! I’d better get busy.

I picked up The Unquiet Bones, Book 1 in the Chronicles of Hugh de Singleton, Surgeon, hoping for a good mystery ala Brother Cadfael and wasn't disappointed. Starr obviously has a thorough knowledge of the period and conveys his story in a compelling and convincing voice shot through with wisdom and dry humor. (“Pigs are much like men. Or perhaps men are like pigs: we think little of what today’s pleasure may cost tomorrow.” [A Trail of Ink, p 32-33])

 Recently I asked him to tell us a little about his main character.

 MS: Master Hugh de Singleton is a surgeon at a time (late 14th century) when surgery was just beginning to separate from barbering. Surgeons were considered "mechanics" at that time; they fixed what was broken, but were not thought able to cure disease. Of course, physicians could not cure disease, either. Hugh is from the manor of Little Singleton, in Lancashire. I chose that place because many generations ago my ancestor, Hucca de Singleton, was lord of the manor there. Nothing medieval remains.

LH: That is so cool! Hugh follows Henry de Mondeville in his surgery (allowing for more modern medical practice than typical of the era) and Master John Wycliffe at Oxford (giving him a proto-Protestant theology.) I love that Wycliffe, Oxford don and early translator of the Bible into English, is Hugh’s mentor and confidant. In A Trail of Ink the don's precious handwritten books are stolen, and Hugh must unravel the puzzle while taking advantage of his time in Oxford to woo the beautiful Kathryn Caxton, daughter of an Oxford bookseller. Are there other real historical persons who play major roles?

MS: Lord Gilbert Talbot and his wife, Petronilla, were real people. The sheriffs of Oxford which I name were also real characters. 

LH: Hugh’s home of Brampton is in the beautiful Cotswold hills west of Oxford. Have you visited there? What drew you to that part of the country?

MS: I chose Bampton as the setting for my series because of friends, Tony and Lis Page, who live there. My wife and I visited them in 2001, shortly after they moved there, and I recognized that it would be an ideal setting for the mysteries I wanted to write. Bampton Castle was quite large, but all that remains is a farm house called Ham Court which was once the gate house and a part of the curtain wall.

LH: Again the personal connection. I love it! You didn’t start writing seriously until you were retired. What made you want to tackle a second career and why this one?

MS: I believe that all who enjoy reading have at one time thought that they would like to try their hand at writing. And I enjoy history, having taught it for 39 years, so why not? 

LH: You taught US and world history. You have an MA in modern history. What made you choose medieval England for the setting of your Hugh de Singleton mysteries?

MS: High school history teachers have to be generalists. So, although my MA is in recent US and European history, I taught medieval history for many years and discovered a fascination for the period. I believe that we overlook the talents and skills of the medieval Europeans. An engineer friend of mine told me that he didn't think any engineers today could build the spire of Salisbury Cathedral using only the tools available to medieval men. 

LH: My art-historian daughter worked on the renovation of that spire during the summer of 1998. I'm very grateful that they used modern scaffolding to put her fourteen stories up and only the mortar was authentic. :-)

To my mind, mysteries are so difficult to plot. How do you go about it? Do you know when you begin whodunit?

MS: Some writers like to have their plot completely outlined before they begin a novel. I am not one of those. I'm as interested to learn how things will turn out as the reader is. I like to base my stories upon some real medieval event; for example, the plot of Rest Not In Peace turns upon the Statute of Laborers, designed to keep the lower classes in their place after plague struck

LH: Thank you, Mel.

These well-told mysteries are perhaps more slowly paced than a modern thriller, but all of life moved more slowly in 14th century England, and the sense of time and place are a major part of the attraction of this series. The books stand alone, but like in Ellis Peters’ Brother Cadfael series, relationships develop along the way, so they are best enjoyed in sequence, which is why I am anxious to catch up in time for the US release of The Abbot’s Agreement.

Here is a bit of the blurb: Master Hugh is making his way towards Oxford when he discovers the young Benedictine - a fresh body, barefoot - not half a mile from the nearby abbey. The abbey's novice master confirms the boy's identity: John, one of three novices. But he had gone missing four days previously, and his corpse is fresh. There has been plague in the area, but this was not the cause of death: the lad has been stabbed in the back. To Hugh's sinking heart, the abbot has a commission for him

I'm ready to delve into book 5. How about you?

---
LeAnne Hardy writes 16th century historicals set in England and Wales from her lake home in the northwoods of Wisconsin. Find out more about her life in six countries on four continents and the Glastonbury Grail series on her website.

Monday, September 15, 2014

How do you define an exotic setting? (plus gift card giveaway)

By Narelle Atkins

Last week I read Marion Ueckermann’s debut contemporary romance novella, Helsinki Sunrise, set on an island near Helsinki in Finland. A great read, and you can check out my book recommendation here. One thing that struck me as I read Marion’s novella was the authenticity of the Finnish culture and setting that flavored the story. I consider Finland an exotic setting, and a place I’d love to visit. I live in Australia and many of our American readers consider Australia an exotic setting. A country they dream of visiting in real life, and enjoy reading about in books.

North Curl Curl Beach in Sydney, Australia.
I belong to a Goodreads group with my Heartsong author friends and we have regular author Q and A chats with our reader friends. Our discussions have been an educational experience for me, as an Aussie, and I’m learning a lot about North America from our conversations. North America is an exotic setting from my perspective, and I love hearing reader friends talk about life in different parts of the world.

My conclusion is an exotic setting is like beauty, and very much in the eye of the beholder. We all have different ideas on which locations we consider exotic, often depending on our heritage and life experiences. I have a Friday Weekend Escape travel feature on my blog. Many of my guests showcase their home towns in locations I’d define as exotic.

I love travelling and reading fiction books set in different parts of the world. I was recently browsing our blog backlist titles page and 2013-2015 Releases page, which categorizes our book releases by country.

Through my reading I could travel to exotic locations outside Australia including: 
Closer to home I can read Christian fiction books set in Australia by Aussie authors including Mary Hawkins, Jo-Anne Berthelsen, Rita Galieh, Paula Vince and Dale Harcombe.

I can travel to other worlds and read sci-fi books by P.A Baines and Grace Bridges or fantasy by Valerie Comer.

Which settings do you consider exotic? Is there a particular exotic location or setting you enjoy reading, or would like to read? 

Leave a comment on this post with the name of a book you'd like to read that's set in an exotic location, and I’ll put your name in the drawing. One lucky reader will win a $10 Amazon.com Gift Card that they can use to buy the books on their wish list. Don’t forget to include your email address with your comment. Good luck and happy reading!


  
NARELLE ATKINS writes contemporary inspirational romance and lives in Canberra, Australia. She sold her debut novel, set in Australia, to Harlequin's Love Inspired Heartsong Presents line in a 6-book contract. Her debut book, Falling for the Farmer, was a February 2014 release, followed by The Nurse's Perfect Match in May 2014, The Doctor's Return in August 2014, Her Tycoon Hero in November 2014, and Winning Over the Heiress in February 2015.

Narelle blogs regularly with Australasian Christian Writers and Inspy Romance. http://australasianchristianwriters.blogspot.com/ 

She is also a co-founder of the Australian Christian Readers Blog Alliance (ACRBA).

Twitter: @NarelleAtkins https://twitter.com/NarelleAtkins

Sunday, September 14, 2014

SUNDAY EDITION


Coming Up This Week

Monday

Narelle Atkins: How do you define an exotic setting? (plus gift card giveaway)

Tuesday

LeAnne Hardy - Hugh de Singleton: Surgeon, bailiff and reluctant 14th century detective

Wednesday

Eva Maria Hamilton

Thursday

Grace Bridges

Friday Devotion

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

News

Valerie Comer's new release, Snowflake Tiara, is 99 cents on Kindle through September 14. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00N70PXZW

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

New Book Releases

Christine Lindsay's historical romance, Veiled at Midnight, Book 3 of Twilight of the British Raj series, will be a September 2014 release from WhiteFire Publishing.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance novella is included in Snowflake Tiara, releasing independently in September 2014. Her novella, The Model Queen, will be paired with author Angela Breidenbach's historical novella, The Debutante Queen, both set in the US.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Upcoming Book Releases

Narelle Atkins' contemporary romance set in Australia, Her Tycoon Hero, will be a November 2014 release from Love Inspired Heartsong Presents.

Sandra Orchard’s romantic suspense set in Washington State, USA, Identity Withheld, will be a November 2014 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Sweetened with Honey, Book 3 in the Farm Fresh Romance series, releases independently in November 2014.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in Georgia, USA, Hidden Agenda, Book 3 in her Southern Crimes series, will be a January 2015 release from Revell.

Lisa Harris' romantic suspense set in Paris, France, Taken, will be a February 2015 release from Love Inspired Suspense.

Narelle Atkins' contemporary romance set in Australia, Winning Over the Heiress, will be a February 2015 release from Love Inspired Heartsong Presents.

Valerie Comer's contemporary romance set in the US, Dandelions for Dinner, Book 4 in the Farm Fresh Romance series, releases independently in spring 2015.

Sandra Orchard’s romantic mystery set in Niagara, Canada, title TBA, Book 3 in her Port Aster’s Secrets series, will be a June 2015 release from Revell.

To find more International Christian Fiction books, please visit our 2013 - 2015 Book Releases page and Backlist Titles.