Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt Stop #4

Welcome to the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! If you’ve just discovered the hunt, be sure to start at Stop #1, and collect the clues through all 30 stops, in order, so you can enter to win one of our top 5 grand prizes!

• The hunt BEGINS on 3/1 at noon MST with Stop #1 at
• Hunt through our loop using Chrome or Firefox as your browser (not
• There is NO RUSH to complete the hunt—you have all weekend (until Sunday, 3/4 at midnight MST)! So take your time, reading the unique posts along the way; our hope is that you discover new authors/new books.
• Submit your entry for the grand prizes by collecting the CLUE on each author’s scavenger hunt post and submitting your answer in the Rafflecopter form at Stop #30. Many authors are offering additional prizes along the way!

I'm so excited to be hosting Carrie Turansky in this year's Scavenger Hunt! Carrie and I both write English-set historical romance set in the early 20th century, and I've found her to be such a huge encouragement and supporter as I joined her in this era of writing! She has such a sweet and generous heart, and I've been really looking forward to Across the Blue. I have my copy sitting here beside me as I welcome her to my blog. =)

I've always been intrigued by those early pioneers of aviation. Here is a brief description of Across the Blue: This is a story of a young man with hopes of gaining the skies and a young woman with hopes of finding the freedom to be something other than a gentleman's wife. Travel to Edwardian England and the beginning of the age of flight.

And now, here's Carrie!

Those Magnificent Men and Their Flying Machines

By Carrie Turansky

Today we take airplanes and our ability to fly for granted. But did you know that in 1903 very few people believed the reports about the Wright Brothers’ flight at Kitty Hawk, NC? Many thought their claim to have achieved powered flight was wishful thinking or a prank at best.

Some newspaper editors and reporters called them dreamers or frauds who exaggerated what they had accomplished. Of course that only made the Wright Brothers more determined to prove they really had designed an airplane that could fly. And they spent the next few years giving demonstrations in the US and Europe to prove their claims were true.

Those who saw the demonstrations were amazed, and crowds flocked to watch those amazing men and their flying machines! Other aviation pioneers who had been conducting experiments and trying to get their airplanes off the ground took the Wright Brothers’ design ideas back to their workshops to improve their airplanes, and aviation exploded in the next few years.

That’s the backdrop for my new English historical novel, Across the Blue. The setting is Kent, England, in 1909, where James Drake, a brave young aviation pioneer, is working on his airplane design with the goal to be the first to fly across the English Channel. He hopes to win the prize offered by The Daily Mail of London and win the heart of the woman he loves, Bella Grayson. Bella has her own dream, to become a journalist and write for one of her father’s newspapers, in spite of her parents having a very different future in mind for her.

I loved doing the research for this novel and learning about the brave men and women who would not give up on the idea that powered flight was possible. Across the Blue weaves historical facts into fiction. You’ll read about the thrilling race to be the first across the English Channel as well as the exciting first International Air Meet in Reims, France. You’ll see what challenges they faced and how they overcame them.

Even if you’re not an aviation enthusiast, I think you’ll enjoy the romance, adventure, and inspiration woven into Across the Blue!

Carrie Turansky has loved reading since she first visited the library as a young child and checked out a tall stack of picture books. Her love for writing began when she penned her first novel at age twelve. She is now the award-winning author of nineteen inspirational romance novels and novellas. Carrie and her husband, Scott, who is a pastor, author, and speaker, have been married for more than thirty years and make their home in New Jersey. They often travel together on ministry trips and to visit their five adult children and five grandchildren. Carrie leads women’s ministry at her church, and when she is not writing she enjoys spending time working in her flower gardens and cooking healthy meals for friends and family. She loves to connect with reading friends through her website, Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter

Here’s the Stop #4 Skinny:

You can order Carries’s book on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, CBD, Lifeway,
or at your
local bookstore!

Clue to Write Down: have

Link to Stop #5, the Next Stop on the Loop: Carrie Turansky’s own site!

Lost or want a complete list of the stops? Find it Here!

But wait!
Before you go, I’m offering a PRINT copy of A Song Unheard AND this gorgeous sterling silver music note necklace! All you have to do is enter via the Rafflecopter form below! Giveaway will end 3/5/18 at 12:00am EST (USA only please)

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

Clearance Sale!

(Note: Not my actual house LOL)
Okay, so y'all should see my house. Pretty much every spare wall is lined with book shelves (shocker, right?), including my bedroom. Now, while the living room holds all my reading books, the bedroom is where I store my author copies. And there is literally no more room in there.

Yes, this is why I opened a store on my website, LOL. I have new author copies arriving every 6 months, and I absolutely must clear out some of the previous ones before I can shelve new ones.

Which is what leads me to this rather fun news. Love Finds You in Annapolis, Maryland, my first historical romance, has been handed back to me, and I'll be re-publishing it with a new title and cover (same interior). But meanwhile, I have 18 copies of the original sitting here, and they need to go bye-bye to make room for new books.

So... I'm running a $5 Clearance Sale on it! 

If you haven't read this one yet, it's a great chance to get it for a rock-bottom price. This sale will remain until all copies are sold!

About the Book

In 1784 peace has been declared, but war still rages in the heart of Lark Benton. Never did Lark think she’d want to escape Emerson Fielding, the man she’s loved all her life, but then he betrays her with her cousin. She flees to Annapolis, Maryland, the country’s capital, and throws herself into a new circle of friends who force her to examine all she believes.
Emerson follows, determined to reclaim his bride. Surprised when she refuses to return with him, he realizes that in this new country he has come to call his own, duty is no longer enough. He must learn to open his heart and soul to something greater… before he loses all he should have been fighting to hold.

Monday, February 26, 2018

Word of the Week - Family

Yet another word I just never bothered to look up...but once I did, I was a bit surprised!

German servants, early 1900s
German servants, early 1900s
Did you know that family didn't mean "parents with their children" until 1660, though it was an English word since the early 1400s??? I sure didn't!

So what did it mean before? "Servants of a household." Well, huh! Interesting. From there, it shifted every so slightly into, "all the members of a household; the estate, the property; the household, including relatives and servants." Keeping in mind this would have been during a time when relatives far and wide would often come to live under a single roof.

Family comes from the Latin famulus, which meant "a slave or servant." We're not sure where that word comes from in Latin, but we do know it was never used for our modern definition of "family." That was reserved for domus. (Think: domestic.) This obviously shares a root with familiar, which comes about because those servants were party to one's private affairs.

So then, from that broad sense of "one's entire household, including servants," the definition eventually narrowed again to be just "parents with their children."

As an adjective, family has been in use since about 1600. "In a family way" (pregnant) is from 1796. But one I found interesting is that family man as we know it now is from 1856, but earlier it was used to mean a thief! (Because of the fraternity of thieves. Think mafia family type of thing).

This is really just a snapshot of the word's evolution and current meanings, but an interesting one, for sure!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Thoughtful About . . . Preserving the Sacred in Historical Fiction

For the past few weeks...or perhaps months...I've had this realization swirling through my mind. One that explains why I like some historical fiction better than others. One that most of the world (or at least the mainstream world) doesn't seem to share.

My thoughts on this started when I read a bestselling ABA historical, The Alice Network, a few months ago. I'd been on the wait-list on Overdrive for months--so long that I'd forgotten I'd requested it, or why, or who recommended it to me by the time it actually arrived on my Kindle, LOL. But I read it, and overall I really enjoyed it. The writing is phenomenal, and the story was gripping--a dual story line, one about a female spy for England in WWI occupied France (hence why it was recommended to me), and the other just after WWII, following a young woman as she goes in search of her missing French cousin. It's been a while since I've read anything outside the Christian market, so there was a wee bit of culture shock to suddenly have bedroom scenes and bad language in front of me, LOL. But that didn't really get to me (I mean, I do watch TV, so that's not exactly shocking to my senses, much as I don't like it). It wasn't the historical character's rather modern take on sexuality--that actually had an explanation that built the character and was necessary for her development.

What bothered me was a relatively small plot point (and in no way ruins the whole book, which was fabulous): the fact that the author took an actual historical figure and turned him into an adulterer--excusing it by describing his wife as half crazy and self-obsessed. This isn't new in mainstream historical fiction--this is why I couldn't stand to watch Turn after the first season--but it bothers me. For so many reasons, it bothers me. Not just in this instance, but as a symptom of society's views today.

First of all, it goes against my personal code for writing historical novels (not that I hold others to my standard, but it's what got my attention about it first). I determined long ago the kind of historical fiction I wanted to write, and it obeys a simple mantra that I developed: Facts are sacred, motivation is up for grabs.

Which is to say, if something is recorded as happening, then it happened. Period. I will not mess with fact. But as for why things happen, why people make the choices they do...even if history gives us a reason, who's to say the writer of that history really knew what was going on in the person's heart or mind? The why is always open for interpretation in my book. And in my books. 😉

So I get a little twitchy when other historical writers play fast and loose with facts. But I can imagine the author of this book claiming that's exactly what she was doing--she was explaining the facts with this motivation. That this fellow was in love with her fictional character. Which is great...except that it means a historical figure was turned into an adulterer. By my definition, this changes his fact. Because it changes a person's entire moral fiber. It's one thing to create a fictional mistress for a known womanizer. It's quite another to take someone recorded as a man of upright character and decide he'd be more interesting if he had an affair. If it were me, I'd have no problem writing him as falling in love with my character--motivation--but I wouldn't have changed his fact. He never would have acted on it, and his nobility would have had the same effect on the heroine that his physical love did, to drive her onward.

With all the insistence that writers not defame historical figures (because let's face it, we never know when descendants might sue), I'm not sure how and why this particular defamation is okay. But in today's society, it seems to be. And that is what ultimately bothers me. Not that an author would do it, but that no one cares. I'm not just upset on behalf of the bygone people (though can you imagine if someone wrote YOU this way in 90 years??), but because it speaks to what our culture doesn't even consider bad anymore. Apparently it doesn't bother most of today's readers to think that a man cheats on his wife, especially if his wife isn't exactly likable.

That hurts my heart. And takes me back to my title. So much of the world today cares little for the sacred. And by that, I mean matters of faith and God and the Church, yes, but also those moral covenants we make with one another. When I speak of preserving the sacred in fiction, I want it to include faith, to include facts, but also to include that understanding of bonds, of covenants, of things larger than ourselves or our happiness.

It used to be that a person's reputation was everything. Today, it seems that being infamous is just as desirable as being famous. That notoriety has eclipsed respect. We've gone from making heroes of our villains to making villains of our heroes, and we don't even notice that we've done it. Our definitions have changed.

But I think the questions still need to be asked: What gives us the right to redefine what they believed, those who came before us? To change the type of people they were? We don't have to agree with it--with their stands, with their beliefs, with their facts. But all too often today, people want to change it. To turn ordinary, low-level authority military men into adulterers. To turn godly men who happened to fight for the Confederacy into villains. To strip Christians in history of the very things they stood for and not see the problem with it...because we don't value those things anymore.

But if we do that...who's to say our own beliefs--whether we think the sacred or the self more important--won't be rewritten after we have gone?

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Book Cover Design ~ An Unexpeted Legacy

A couple weeks ago, I shared a guest post from Amy Anguish about the difficulty of coming up with a title for her novel, An Unexpected Legacy (originally called For the Love of Smoothies). Today I thought I'd take you behind the scenes of the cover design process for the book, from when it was smoothie-focused to what we ended up with!

Amy is also generously offering a GIVEAWAY of her book to one lucky winner, so be sure to read all the way to the bottom for the entry form!

When we first began work on this cover, Amy and her publisher, Sandi, told me they wanted a couple sitting at a table with smoothies, looking at a photo album. Fluttering down there would be a ripped photo.

In this first version, I hadn't yet found a photo for the fluttering bit, so there's just a blank white piece of paper falling.

But this wasn't it. Sandi suggested we try one with the emphasis being on the smoothies, and with the font maybe written like a spilled smoothie. So I tried this. In here, we do have a ripped photo, as well as dog tags, as the hero had been in the military.

But this wasn't it either. None of us really liked that couple from the back. So for take 3, we decided to try out a couple holding hands on a table, smoothies at their arm, the ripped photo visible.

But this still wasn't the vibe they wanted. After taking some time to think and reconsider, Sandi let me know that she was trying to talk Amy into changing the title (as you can read about in the previous post), and that if we wanted a more serious image, the title needed to correspond. Part of the issue we were having with these versions was that it felt too light and fun for the story. I'm sure this is partially because of my font selection, which suited the title but apparently not the tone of the book itself.

Eventually, Sandi came back to me with a new idea, a new concept, and a new title. An Unexpected Legacy, she said. And let's try an autumnal look, with a couple viewed through a window. She also wanted something with a hint of the mystery aspect, the idea that the heroine's aunt is trying to keep them apart. I suggested a hand holding back a curtain. As long as it didn't look too creepy, LOL, she said that was promising.

Starting from there, I found, first, a window.

And a couple to be outside it.

Putting those together and adjusting the coloring/lighting on the window to look right, I had this.

I did lengthen his pants--they were shorts in the original photo, but a bit of smudging got those longer. And we didn't want her pointing, so I also lowered her arm.

Next came the curtain and hand. I found this photo on Shutterstock...

...and selected the hand and curtain, plopped them on top of the working image thus far, and adjusted the colors.

In this one, I also added a burst of light there where the sun was.

This, I thought, was a pretty good base. We have our main elements--couple, window, hand pulling back curtain--so now it was just a matter of getting the full look.

For starters, for the autumnal look, I wanted some deeper reds. So I added the Sutro filter.

I loved the depth and the tones that added, so then it was a simple matter of the finishing touches. At this point, I put the (new) title and author name on.

This was at about 90% in my opinion. But that last 10% is key. So to take it up another few degrees, I added two things. First, a fun little flourish behind the title, for a hint of the original whimsy.

And then light rays coming from that sun, because we all know how those gorgeous beams look, coming through a window in the fall. This is a very subtle change, but it adds something to the overall.

I still wasn't quite satisfied though. That upper left corner felt too empty. So I decided to add some autumn leaves.

Much better! These are using the Color Burn blending mode, which gives it that particular shading. Happy enough to show Sandi and Amy, I sent this version to them. Sandi asked if there could be a single falling leaf somewhere, which I thought was perfect. So I added that.

And here it is! This ended up being the final front cover, but Amy did still want to see it with her original title, so I made one with the same fonts but the old words.

Seeing the two side by side helped her decide on the new title, I think. =) But I promised that we could incorporate the smoothies and dogtags on the back. Using this image of the smoothies...

...and these dog tags...

...with this bokeh to add the same light and coloring as the front...

...gave me this.

Toss the words on the back, and voila!

So here's the full cover.

What do you think? Do you like the direction we ended up going in? The new title?

Interested in owning a paperback of this book? If so, you can enter the giveaway below!


Please enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway ends 2/27/18 11:59PST. US mailing addresses only. Void where prohibited.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Word of the Week - Scrapbook

A commonplace book, circa mid-1600s.
Photo via Beinecke Flickr Laboratory
This special request comes from Bev Duell-Moore. =) And hilariously, as soon she asked me to feature it, I did a quick search...which came in mighty handy just a few days later, when I needed a scrapbook in the historical line of my current story! So thanks, Bev. LOL

There isn't a whole lot of description on this word's history. It's quite simply scrap + book.  But you might not realize how old this concept is! Originally written with a hyphen, scrap-book (as a noun) dates all the way back to the 1820s. But even then, it was just a new word for a very old concept.

As early as the 1400s, people were making scrapbooks...and calling them commonplace books. These were books where they compiled recipes, quotations, letters, patterns, poems...any little thing they wanted to keep in a safe place for easy reference.

Vintage scrapbook (late 19th century) currently in
The Women's Museum in Dallas, TX - photo via Wikipedia
As the years wore on, this idea went in new directions. People would create scrapbooks to memorialize certain periods of their life, especially college. It became a popular alternative to journaling, because it included more than words, even in the age before photographs became easy to acquire and include.

So when did scrapbooking move from this centuries-old hobby to what it is today? That move is credited to Marielen Wadley Christensen who, in the 1980s, began creating family albums that were very stylized and put in protective sheets of plastic. In 1981 she published a how-to book on doing this, and the modern scrapbook was born. Today, of course, you can go into any craft or art store and find gorgeous supplies for this purpose.

Student's scrapbook, circa 1906, from Smith College.
Photo via Wikipedia
Do you do much/any scrapbooking? I've never been bitten by that particular bug, but I do appreciate looking at the beautiful books my sister has created!

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Cover Reveal ~ An Hour Unspent + GIVEAWAY!

Today is a very special day!

Not JUST because it is Valentine's Day...Although that is a pretty grand reason to celebrate.
Today, we are celebrating the cover reveal for An Hour Unspent, book 3 in my Shadows Over England series.

I am so grateful to the entire team at Bethany House for the dedication and thought that they have put into every cover in this series. An Hour Unspent was no exception...and this cover truly made me giddy when I first saw it...Ok, it STILL makes me giddy.

First...A little about the book...

Once London’s top thief, Barclay Pearce has turned his back on his life of crime and now uses his skills for a nation at war. But not until he rescues a clockmaker’s daughter from a mugging does he begin to wonder what his future might hold.

Evelina Manning has constantly fought for independence but she certainly never meant for it to inspire her fiancé to end the engagement and enlist in the army. When the intriguing man who saved her returns to the Manning residence to study clockwork repair with her father, she can’t help being interested. But she soon learns that nothing with Barclay Pearce is as simple as it seems.

As 1915 England plunges ever deeper into war, the work of an ingenious clockmaker may give England an unbeatable military edge—and Germany realizes it as well. Evelina’s father soon finds his whole family in danger—and it may just take a reformed thief to steal the time they need to escape it. 

Are you intrigued yet? If you have read the first two books in the series, you will know that Barclay and his "family" are a bit unconventional and fiercely loyal. I am so glad that I have had the opportunity to introduce them to you.

Now, are you ready? 

...Drum roll please....

...I give you....

...The cover...


An Hour Unspent

Keep an eye on the website for more pre-order options as they become available!

I absolutely love that inside-the-clock view! When my editor told me they'd be doing that, I was super excited, and I adore how it turned out. So unique! Such an interesting perspective! And featuring the daughter of my fictional clockmaker who tends to the clock in Big Ben...perfect. =)

I can not wait for you to read Barclay's story, which will be releasing in September! In the mean time, how about a little GIVEAWAY to tide you over until then?

I am giving away the FIRST two books in the series to ONE lucky winner. Please enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway will end 2/21/18 at 11:59pm EST. Open to U.S. mailing addresses only. Void where prohibited.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I want to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below.