Upcoming Scavenger Hunt!

I’m pleased to announce I’ll soon be participating in a Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt that will award one winner a Kindle Fire HDX and another winner a copy of some exciting new fiction! My new novella, part of a Christmas collection with three other wonderful Christian authors, will release this fall. To help celebrate, I’m joining a bigger group of friends for this huge giveaway. Tune in again for more details on the Hunt, closer to its October 17th kick off!

SH_Fall2014_coversFINALI’ll be running another mini-contest here on my website in addition to the Hunt, for a small basket of goodies including a copy of the 4-in-1 Christmas novella collection I’m part of. So mark your calendar! The Hunt will run from October 17th until the 19th, 2014.

My Happy News

All_In_Good_Time_Screen_ShotI’m pleased to announce that my title All In Good Time has been named a finalist in this year’s Selah Award. Below is the official Press Release – take a peek, you may find some interesting new books to add to your reading list!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS CHRISTIAN WRITERS CONFERENCE 2014

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Contact: Eva Marie Everson, Contest Director

E:mail: blueridgecwc@aol.com

 

May 7, 2014

Ridgecrest, NC—Alton Gansky, Director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference, and Eva Marie Everson, BRMCWC Contest Director, announce the finalists in the 2014 Selah Awards, awarded to published authors each year during the “Blue Ridge”conference.

The Selah Awards are open industry wide and internationally to authors published by traditional and nontraditional publishing houses during the previous year. The awards will be given during the awards banquet held on Wednesday evening, May 21, at 7:30 p.m. Eastern Time. The 2014 Book of the Year award is chosen by the contest director from the top scores/first place recipients.

This year, finalists have been named in thirteen categories. They are (in alphabetical order according to the author’s last name):

 

Children (Tie for Third)

Michelle Medlock Adams—God Knows You (Candy Cane Press)

Burton W. Cole—Bash and the Pirate Pig (B&H Kids)

Hannah C. Hall—God Bless You and Goodnight (Thomas Nelson)

Jill Roman Lord—If Jesus Came to Visit Me (Candy Cane Press)

 

Inspiration and Gift

Debora M. Coty—Fear, Faith, and a Fistful of Chocolates (Barbour Publishing)

Cynthia Howerter & La-Tan Roland Murphy—Gods Provision in Tough Times (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Rose Chandler Johnson—God, Me, and Sweet Iced Tea (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

 

Christian Life

Jo Ann Fore—When A Woman Finds Her Voice (Leafwood Publishers)

Cynthia Ruchti—Ragged Hope (Abingdon Press)

Linda Evans Shepherd—Finding Gods Presence (Revell)

 

Bible Study

Nick Hawkes—The Bible on the Key Issues of Life (Wombat Books)

Beebe Kauffman—Isaiah: Setting Things Right (Lighthouse Bible Studies)

Erica Wiggenhorn—Moses: Every Life Proof of Gods Promises (Crossbooks)

 

Young Adult Nonfiction

Bethany Jett—The Cinderella Rule (Regal)

Kelly McIntosh (Gen. Ed)—God Hearts Me; Daily Devotions for a Girls Heart (Barbour Publishing)

Cyle Young—Belly Buttons & Broken Hearts (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

 

Young Adult Fiction

Elaine Marie Cooper—Fields of the Fatherless (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Tessa Emily Hall—Purple Moon (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Eddie Jones—Dead Low Tide (Zonderkidz)

 

First Novel (Tie for Third)

Dianna T. Benson—The Hidden Son (Ellechor Publishing House)

Carole Brown—The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Aaron D. Gansky—The Bargain (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Tessa Emily Hall—Purple Moon (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Fiction: Novella

Paula Mowery—Be the Blessing (Pelican Book Group)

Linda Wood Rondeau—A Christmas Prayer (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas)

Gina Welborn—Mercy Mild (Barbour Publishing)

 

Fiction: Speculative

Ian Acheson—Angelguard (Lion Hudson)

Lisa Belcastro—Shenandoah Crossings (OakTara)

Lisa Belcastro—Shenandoah Nights (OakTara)

 

Fiction: Suspense

Richard L. Mabry, M.D.—Stress Test (Thomas Nelson)

Linnette R. Mullin—Finding Beth (CrossRiver Media Group)

Jordyn Redwood—Poison (Kregel)

 

Fiction: Historical

Vikki Kestell—Joy on This Mountain (Faith-Filled Fiction)

Ann Tatlock—Sweet Mercy (Bethany House Publishers)

Liz Tolsma—Snow on the Tulips (Thomas Nelson)

 

Fiction: Romance

Rachel Hauck—Once Upon a Prince (Zondervan)

Maureen Lang—All in Good Time (Tyndale Publishers)

Davalynn Spencer—The Ranchers Second Chance (Love Inspired / Heartsong Presents)

 

Fiction: Contemporary Women

Normandie Fischer—Sailing Out of Darkness (WhiteFire Publishing)

Anita Higman—Winter in Full Bloom (Moody Publishers)

Cynthia Ruchti—When the Morning Glory Blooms (Abingdon Press)

 

Thanks to the generous support of Crossbooks and LifeWay/Ridgecrest, the banquet will be telecast live over the internet. To access the live stream during the awards banquet, click on: http://ridgecrestconferencecenter.org/christian-writers-live#.U2k6Y_ldUuc.

For more information, you may email Eva Marie Everson at BlueRidgeCWC@aol.com.

 Congratulations to all of the finalists! I’m thrilled to be in such wonderful company. :-)

Blogging over on Christians Read Today!

Just wanted to remind my readers that I regularly blog over on Christians Read! It’s dedicated to readers and hosted by various Christian authors. Click on the link for my topic today, about the memories that were stirred when I saw the movie The Railway Man this past weekend.

Hope you’re having a great week!

A Snapshot from Chicago history

I happen to be working on two new projects, both of which are set in Chicago, so I’m up to my literary ears in research. In other words, I have Chicago on the brain.

The first time I traveled to Europe, nearly 30 years ago now . . . excuse me as I gasp over how old that makes me feel . . . when I told someone I was from Chicago they would mimic a machine gun and inform me I came from the city of gangsters like Capone and Bugs Moran.

Ah, but there is so much more! My research proves it.

Although my 1895 setting falls after the 1893 Columbian Exposition World’s Fair, my characters surely would have been aware of it and the city itself would reflect having hosted such an event. Some of the legacy we still see today—like Cracker Jacks, for example. And of course the famous Ferris wheel.

1kEenVBIKNR9M5ZR8y7CInhbKlwocg1wbGrF4wmCOKgThe Ferris wheel is a story I almost wish I could include in my book. This original was far larger than any Ferris wheel we think of today. With 36 carriages each roughly the size of a train car, they were capable of holding 60 riders for a capacity of 2,160 people! It took 20 minutes per revolution, and cost 50 cents to ride two revolutions. Since most of the stories about the Columbian Exposition featured the giant wheel at least somewhere on its horizon, it obviously played an important part in the fair’s success.

But I said I almost wish I could include its story, and that’s because things didn’t end up so well for either the wheel itself or its inventor. After the fair closed in the fall of 1893, the Ferris wheel sat idle until the end of April, 1894. It was dismantled and taken to storage on flatbed train cars, but there were plans to use it again in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Bonds were sold to improve the landscaping of the still largely undeveloped area, and there were plans to build a restaurant and band shell, a beer garden and vaudeville theater. But the community voted down the idea to sell alcohol, so the plans soured from there. To make matters worse, once the wheel opened again, patrons didn’t come to ride the engineering marvel. Evidently its novelty had worn off, or perhaps it needed the backdrop and excitement of a World’s Fair to make the event more memorable.

So the Ferris wheel was sold to a junk company. It did have a brief resurrection when it was moved to St. Louis for the 1904 World’s Fair, celebrating the Louisiana Purchase. Once again the wheel played an important part in a fair’s financial success, perhaps confirming my suspicion that the surroundings played an important role in attracting riders.

But the giant wheel set neglected again after that fair closed. In 1906 it was destroyed with 200 lbs of dynamite. Reports say it crumpled slowly and it took another 100 sticks to finish the job.

George Ferris himself died of typhoid fever at only 37 years old, before the wheel was used for the second time and after having fought Columbian Exposition organizers for his rightful share of revenue the wheel raised during the fair. More sad than that, Wikipedia says his ashes sat unclaimed for a year.

Research often tempts me to write more stories than I set out to do, and perhaps there is a story here . . . but I’ve pledged to write happy endings, so I guess I’ll leave this one to someone else!

 

 

 

What I’ve Been Up To

For visitors who might have missed more current postings from me during my blogging hiatus, I wanted to write a note about what I’ve been up to lately. I’m glad to report to those who have expressed concern that everything is fine on this end. I’m healthy, happy, and hard at work!

In February I was offered a contract for a Christmas novella which will release later this year. So, despite some winter weariness after so many snowstorms and record-low temps, I was able to look out my window many times in March to see snow falling as I wrote the first draft of a Christmas story. :-)

I’m also busy at work with two new full length novels, one of which I’ve pledged to publish independently this summer. I’m so excited about this new opportunity! My friend Jane Steen has been a huge inspiration to me, who successfully published her debut novel House of Closed Doors and is well on her way to publishing the second book in the series.

While I do love writing for wonderful editors, it’s been a fun experience to tackle a new project directly with readers in mind. I’ve always thought of myself as a reader first, and every book I’ve written was a book I wanted to read. Because of that, writing on my own has rekindled a love for writing just for the pure joy of it—to be entertained by the story and characters and not worry about market trends or other demands.

Plus I’ve read some wonderful independently published books lately, starting with Jane’s. I also recently judged for a contest which included several books published this way, and thoroughly enjoyed most of them. Now is definitely the time to jump into these welcoming waters, and so far it’s been more than refreshing.

I plan to keep you posted on this new venture, so look for more information to come about this next new release!

I’ve also been doing quite a bit of reading, which helps so much to keep the creative juices flowing. Here are a few books I’ve been busy with lately:

Screenshot 2014-04-14 09.18.48

 

The Rosie Project is a fun book about a young man with Asperger’s who decides to go about the task of finding a wife in a rather systematic way! (Warning for gentle readers, however, the language isn’t exactly pure but it’s a fun read.)

 

Screenshot 2014-04-14 09.24.40

 

 

The Paid Companion is a secular romance about a woman hired to pose as the hero’s fiance. (Keep in mind that it’s a secular romance, which comes with the mandatory love scenes.) Amanda Quick is better known as Jayne Ann Krentz.

 

 

 

 

Screenshot 2014-04-14 09.27.36

 

 

Another secular romantic novel, The Firebird, is especially enjoyable as an audio book since the narrator’s performance is wonderful with a variety of colorful accents. Though this is a secular novel regarding a fantasy-type “second sight” gift, it’s a great example of fascinating research combined with stellar writing.

 

 

 

 

And up next on my To-Be-Read Pile from two of my favorite Inspirational authors, Tamera Alexander and Jill Eileen Smith:

A Beauty So Rare

Screenshot 2014-04-14 09.30.18

Screenshot 2014-04-14 09.31.53

Rachel, from the Wives of the Patriarch Series

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m also listening to comedian Tim Conway’s autobiography which has been fun, as well as some great non-fiction from another favorite, Beth Moore. I’ll soon be starting a Young Adult novel titled Daughters of Smoke and Bones by Laini Taylor—something I likely wouldn’t have come across except for the book club I belong to. I’ve been introduced to some great surprises that way!

As you can see, there are countless and wonderful ways to fill up anyone’s day. I hope you might find something here that stirs your interest.

And speaking of filling up my day, I’d better get back to work. Blessings to you on this start of another new week!

New Fiction!

Greetings, Readers! This week I wanted to tell you about my friend Gail Gaymer Martin’s upcoming book:

Screen shot 2013-12-16 at 9.42.51 AMThe Firefighter’s New Family


Love Inspired, January 2014 release


Book #2 in the Sisters Series 

A tornado may have left Ashley Kern injured beneath a fallen tree, but it’s her rescuer who plays havoc with her emotions. Firefighter Devon Murphy is everything the single mom could wish for in a husband: handsome, a doting father and ready to join his family to hers. But how can the pretty war widow make a life once more with a man whose career is full of danger? Devon has fought some pretty big battles in his life, but can he help Ashley conquer her fears and show her the safest place of all is in his arms?
(Book #1 - Her Valentine Hero, Feb. 2013)

 

4 star RT review:  In the second book in the Sisters series, strong characters demonstrate how we should not let fear prevent us from living the life God has planned. Martin is inventive with her offbeat comparison of a family to a puzzle.

Purchase at Amazon: click here

Purchase at Christianbooks: click here

Gail+Gaymer+MartinBio: Multi-award-winning novelist, Gail Gaymer Martin is the author of Christian contemporary romance, romantic suspense, and women’s fiction with 52 contracted novels and over 3-1/2 million books in print. Her novels have received several national awards, including: the ACFW Carol Award and RT Reviewer’s Choice Award. CBS local news listed Gail as one of the four best writers in the Detroit area. She is the author of Writer Digest’s Writing the Christian Romance and a cofounder of American Christian Fiction Writers  (ACFW) where she serves on the Executive Board. Gail is a member of Advanced Speakers and Writers (ASAW) as well as Christian Authors Network (CAN) and is a keynote speaker at churches, civic and business organizations. In her earlier professional career, Gail was a teacher of English, literature and public speaking at the high school and university levels and still enjoys teaching workshop at conferences across the U.S. Gail lives in Michigan with her husband. Visit her website here.

 

 

Visit Gail at: www.gailgaymermartin.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gail.g.martin.3
Twitter: http://twitter.com/GailGMartin
GoodReads: http://bit.ly/1e8Gt6D

Christmas Season

My husband teases me about the “rules” I have for holiday decorating – everything from when to hang the Easter blessings signs to flags in the windows for Fourth of July. On the first of October Halloween decorations go up, until some of the pumpkins get blended in with Thanksgiving pilgrims and turkeys. That leads right into the Christmas season with the most extensive displays, at least in our own modest way. Of course the actual date to bring out holiday decorations are different for each family, but around here I call it a routine rather than a rule. I like putting up my tree the day after Thanksgiving so we can enjoy it all the way through New Year’s Day when I take it down.

IMG_0218But this year we’re a little late. The house has been in disarray since before Thanksgiving because we’re putting in new flooring in our living and dining room. The plan is to add hardwood throughout the first floor, but it’ll have to happen in stages. It would have been nice to do it all and limit the disorder to one big mess, but since “we’re” doing it ourselves (and by that royal we I mean my husband) it would have been more crazy than just trying to empty these two rooms at one time!

The project is nearly complete, though, as you can see from this picture I took a few days ago before he finished the trim on the baseboard. We can finally get our tree up! It’s a bit late, but maybe that means we’ll just enjoy it more with this shortened season. So tonight while we have Pandora tuned to classic Christmas songs, we’ll be decorating the tree.

I’ll leave you today with one of my all-time favorite Christmas tunes, as performed by the Piano Guys:

Happy Thanksgiving!

Anyone who went through grade school in this country has probably heard about America’s first Thanksgiving: Pilgrims and Indians sharing a three day feast over the pilgrim’s first bountiful harvest.

George_Washington_by_Gilbert_Stuart,_1795-96What I didn’t know until hearing it on the radio was that George Washington was the first president to desire a national day of Thanksgiving. We’d just come through a fierce battle for independence. Washington knew this young country needed our own traditions. Something different from the ones formerly celebrated as subjects of the English crown, something uniquely our own.

So he dictated a Thanksgiving Proclamation, one filled with gratitude to the Almighty God. While it didn’t exactly join the country’s politics with religion, it did recognize the desire to give thanks to God for the many blessings bestowed on this country. To read the entire (but brief!) proclamation, click here.

Lincoln_O-60_by_Brady,_1862Amazingly enough, that proclamation was lost in the shuffle of paper when the capitol was moved from New York to Washington, D.C. While there may have been many harvest time feasts celebrated throughout the following years, it wasn’t until Abraham Lincoln issued another Thanksgiving Proclamation that this holiday became official. He wanted to remind the nation that even in the midst of war we had much to be grateful for. Read Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation here.

So as you enjoy your bounty and your family this week, remember to thank God for your many blessings, even after or within the midst of any earthly trials. You’ll be in the company of two great presidents if you do!

Thank a Veteran today!

512px-Postcard_with_flag_of_the_United_StatesEver since my father died several years ago, national holidays reminding us to thank a vet come to mind with deeper poignancy to me. My dad was a Second World War veteran, and survived things I cannot imagine facing.

He joined the Navy at just seventeen years old, a couple of years before the outbreak of war. After training at Great Lakes he was sent to California and assigned to the USS Oklahoma. Thankfully, he soon volunteered for duty in Asia and transferred to a small gunboat on the Yangtze River. That certainly spared his life when the Oklahoma was later sunk at Pearl Harbor. He worked in the boiler room, the bowels of the ship, and because it capsized he likely would have drowned along with so many others who were trapped below.

But while his life was spared, a fact to which I obviously owe my own life, he didn’t escape the horrors of war. My father had been sent to the Philippines just before Pearl Harbor was bombed. Although the Navy and the Marines put on the best fight they could, the area was overwhelmed by the Japanese military. My father was taken captive in the second wave of the Death March, sent to such infamously horrible prison camps as Bilibid and Cabanatuan. Ultimately he was taken to Mukden, Manchuria, where he spent the longest time of his three and a half years of captivity. He weighed around 100 pounds when they were finally liberated, having suffered disease, near starvation, slave labor, mysterious medical experiment injections, and even a friendly-fire bombing for which he carried a facial scar on his handsome face for the rest of his life.

To the day he died, my father had a remarkably soft spot in his heart for the Philippines. He fought alongside the Filipino fighters, who battled desperately to keep the Japanese at bay. In his last years here on earth, my father had a Filipino caregiver and they had long talks about the islands and how this man’s countrymen were brothers in arms to my dad and other Americans during that time. If he’s allowed to look down from heaven to see the devastation caused from the recent typhoon, and if tears were allowed in heaven, I think my dad would be greatly moved by yet another tragedy visiting that nation.

Please join me in prayer and support for our veterans, and for those suffering right now in the Philippines. And don’t forget to thank a Vet today for the freedom we enjoy!

The Best Two Questions

72px-Vraagteken.svgOver the weekend my Pastor wove into his sermon two questions Christians need to ask themselves and other Christians in their life. These two questions are familiar in our church, but they’re so foundational to a Christian’s life I’m all for repeating the idea.

So what should we be asking ourselves, and other Christ-followers around us?

  • What’s God doing in your life?
  • How can I help?

The idea behind this is that God is already involved in our lives. We don’t have to sit down and make a list of our goals and ask God to bless our plans. He already has a plan and wants what’s best for us—what we need to do is become more aware of where He’s leading us.

How do we gain that awareness? By seeing the opportunities around us that point to God’s glory. So often I forget that God didn’t create me just so I can have a fun and happy life. He created me to get to know Him, to be loved by Him and to let others know He loves them, too. So when I read the Bible I need to see if God is trying to tell me something for today, rather than just studying the text to gain knowledge about Christian history. I need to ask God outright to guide the moments in my day and ask Him to be my eyes, looking for His perspective instead of my own.

Ready to join me?