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Author Interview: Sarah Sundin + The Sea Before Us Giveaway

The Sea Before Us

It’s an honor to have WWII author Sarah Sundin with us today. Her latest The Sea Before Us in the Sunrise at Normandy series released just a few days ago. Have you ordered your copy? You’ll want to after this delicious interview!

  • Stay tuned til the end for a Rafflecopter giveaway of the book and a package of goodies: Keep Calm and Carry On Traditional English biscuits in a sweet little tin and a Loose Lips Might Sink Ships pin.

The Sea Before Us

In 1944, American naval officer Lt. Wyatt Paxton arrives in London to prepare for the Allied invasion of France, determined to redeem himself with the brothers he has betrayed. He works closely with Dorothy Fairfax, a “Wren” in the Women’s Royal Naval Service. Dorothy pieces together reconnaissance photographs with thousands of holiday snapshots of France—including those of her family’s summer home—in order to create accurate maps of Normandy. Maps that Wyatt will turn into naval bombardment plans. As the two spend concentrated time together in the pressure cooker of war, their deepening friendship threatens to turn to love. Dorothy must resist its pull. Her bereaved father depends on her, and her heart already belongs to another man. Wyatt too has much to lose. The closer he gets to Dorothy, the more he fears his efforts to win the war will destroy everything she has ever loved.

What drew you to write about three estranged brothers?

9-5 Telephone
Stereotypical tourist-in-a-London-phone-booth pic.

For the Sunrise at Normandy series, I wanted to explore D-day from the sea, the air, and the ground, seen through the eyes of three brothers. Most series are told chronologically, book two following book one, etc. But this series required all three stories to occur simultaneously, in parallel. If the brothers were in communication with each other, the first book would contain huge spoilers for the rest of the series. But if the brothers were estranged, they would be blinded to each other’s actions. Then I imagined a tragic sequence of events that thrust the Paxton brothers apart. This also lends the series an overarching theme of forgiveness and redemption that I love exploring.

In The Sea Before Us, Dorothy collects holiday snapshots. Why holiday snapshots?

This is a fun bit of historical trivia! In March 1942, the BBC put out a call for people to send in their favorite snapshots of the French coast for a contest. But they were secretly working with the Royal Navy! All those “holiday snaps” showed great details of the Normandy beaches that were used to create maps and diagrams for the D-day landings. In The Sea Before Us, Dorothy Fairfax is assigned to this project because of her own vacations in Vierville-sur-Mer, on what would become Omaha Beach. Since her family has been shattered by the war, she clings to her memories of their time in Normandy.

Why does Dorothy’s father depend on her?

9-5 Peter Pan Sarah
With the Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens, which plays a role in the story.

Reginald Fairfax, Dorothy’s father, became one of the most interesting characters in The Sea Before Us to me. He’s grieving deeply—but poorly. He barely eats, rarely goes to work at the company he founded, and ignores his daughter. Dorothy is trying to help him as best she can, and she feels that without her, he would surely waste away and die. This challenging father-daughter relationship produced the most poignant scene in the novel.

Describe Wyatt in one word.


Wyatt is a quiet man, dependable and loyal, determined to always do the right thing. The fact that he hurt one brother and betrayed the other has rocked him to the core, and he has dedicated himself to paying off his debt.

Other than the closeness of war, what are some elements pulling Wyatt and Dorothy together that readers can anticipate?

9-6 WWII Women S
At the Women of World War II monument in London, since Dorothy Fairfax serves in the Women’s Royal Naval Service.

Ironically, Dorothy’s father pulls them together. Mr. Fairfax is drawn in a fatherly way to Wyatt. Although Dorothy is trying NOT to get involved with Wyatt, she has to admit Wyatt cheers her father up. Also, Dorothy is alerted to possible embezzlement in her father’s company, and she enlists Wyatt—as an accountant—to investigate. And the more time they spend together…well, you’ll have to read the book to find out what happens!

Ooh! I can hardly wait to dive into my copy!! Thank you for joining us today, Sarah!

About SarahSundin Sarah Author Photo Tisha Martin Author Editor

Sarah Sundin is the author of ten historical novels, including The Sea Before Us. Her novels When Tides Turn and Through Waters Deep were named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years,” and Through Waters Deep was a finalist for the 2016 Carol Award and won the INSPY Award. A mother of three, Sarah lives in California. Please visit her at

Sarah’s Books


Barnes & Noble:

Rafflecopter Giveaway Details

  1. No purchase necessary to enter or win.
  2. Entrants are 18 and legally able to enter this giveaway.
  3. Giveaway will last two weeks from Friday, Feb. 9, to Thursday, Feb. 22.
  4. Winners must have a U.S. address.
  5. Winners will be announced via email and via social media, Friday, Feb. 23.

 In addition to winning a copy of The Sea Before Us, you’ll also enter to win a tin of English biscuits (NOTE: cookies contain gluten) and a Loose Lips Sink Ships pin.


Click the link below to:

Enter the Giveaway!

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Author Interview: Liz Tolsma + Giveaway

The Melody of the Soul (002)

Anna has one chance for survival—and it lies in the hands of her mortal enemy. 

Excited to introduce Liz Tolsma’s The Melody of the Soul and the chance to get to know a few of her characters. Plus, stay tuned for a Rafflecopter giveaway of Liz’s book, as well as winners from last week’s multi-author giveaway!

About The Melody of the Soul

It’s 1943 and Anna Zadok, a Jewish Christian living in Prague, has lost nearly everything. Most of her family has been deported, and the Nazi occupation ended her career as a concert violinist. Now Anna is left to care for her grandmother, and she’ll do anything to keep her safe—a job that gets much harder when Nazi officer Horst Engel is quartered in the flat below them.

Though musical instruments have been declared illegal, Anna defiantly continues to play the violin. But Horst, dissatisfied with German ideology, enjoys her soothing music. When Anna and her grandmother face deportation, Horst risks everything to protect them.

Anna finds herself falling in love with the handsome officer and his brave heart. But what he reveals might stop the music forever.

Why does Horst love art? 

He’s a very creative person. He understands and appreciates beauty, whether it’s in music, architecture, or drawing. It’s God’s gift to him, and he uses it.

What drew him to it in the first place?

His troubled past was haunting him. He knew what he’d done when he was young was very wrong. Like King Saul in the Bible, he was tormented, and the music and the architecture took him away from his demons and brought beauty back into his life.

How does Anna remind Horst of his mother?

Her gentle spirit, her love of music and all thing beautiful, her kind her. All of these are traits that Anna shares with Horst’s mother.

What are you working on next?

I just finished book two of the series, What the Heart Sings, which comes out in August. That one is set in Poland. Next up is book three with the working title of The Music Within. That one takes place in Hungary.

Thanks for coming, Liz, and for telling us about your book and your next projects! I’ve just received my copy of The Melody of the Soul and can’t wait to start reading! Readers, here’s a chance to learn more and Liz and to enter a giveaway for a copy of her latest book.

About Liz Tolsma 

Liz Tolsma headshot (2)Liz Tolsma is the author of several WWII novels and prairie romance novellas. The Rails to Love collection released in October 2016. The Matchmaker Brides collection releases in February 2017, and her next WWII novel, The Melody of the Soul, is scheduled to release in April 2017. She is a popular speaker and an editor. She has lived in Wisconsin most of her life, and she now resides next to a farm field with her husband and their two daughters. Her son proudly serves as a U.S. Marine. They adopted all of their children internationally, and one has special needs. When not busy putting words to paper, she enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping with her family. Please visit her blog, The Story behind the Story, at and follow her on Facebook, Twitter (@LizTolsma), and LinkedIn. She is also a regular contributor to the Pencildancer blog and the Midwest Almanac blog.

Connect with Liz






Book Trailer:

Buy Links


Barnes and Noble

Giveaway Details:

  1. No purchase necessary to enter the giveaway.
  2. Giveaway runs from Friday, January 26, 2018, to Thursday, February 1, 2018.
  3. Winner will be contacted via email.

Click the link below to enter the giveaway:


Multi-author book winners from last week:

  1. Breanna P. — won Sharlene MacLaren’s Their Daring Hearts.
  2. Becky S. — won Joyce Valdois Smith’s Grandpa Forgot My Name.
  3. Brenda M. — won Daisy Townsend’s Sarah’s Legacy, an e-book.
  4. Connie S. — won Pegg Thomas’s A Bouquet of Brides Collection (my story being “In Sheep’s Clothing”).

Congratulations, winners!!! You have been contacted via email.

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Ace Collins Author Interview + Giveaway

Ace Collins In Presidents Service 1 2 3 tisha martin editor

This week, I’m thrilled to introduce to you a fellow WWII author, Ace Collins. He’s a master storyteller. He’s recently released a new volume of In The President’s Service, a series about Helen Meeker, FBI aid to Franklin D. Roosevelt. If you like a thrilling adventure, wisecracks, and WWII, you’ll enjoy these cliffhanging books by Ace. Read through to the end because there’s a giveaway!

Why did you write historical WWII novels about the FBI serving FDR? Such a unique spin on WWII.

I was asked to continue the adventures of a character I introduced in The Yellow Packard. I’d really enjoyed creating Helen Meeker and given the chance to expand her character was a challenge I really wanted. She is interesting on so many different levels and she is also very complex. Thus a series would allow me to really explore all that and more. Plus, during the 1940s, one of the most interesting times in American history, we first began to see women entering worlds that had once been reserved for only men. So what an interesting period of time to have a female lead with courage, conviction, intelligence, and drive.

In the presidents series model Alison helen meeker AJ226sIncidentally, Ace uses model Alison J. as the inspiration for FBI agent Helen Meeker, the no-nonsense heroine of In the President’s Service series. She’s pictured here with a Screen Guide from July, 1942. Carole Landis is on the cover.

What you love best about your first three novels.

The first three created the foundation for the series, thus they gave me a chance to place our lead in the historical period and fully paint the times and the demands of those times. I think those books also pointed out that we don’t win in life all the time and thus my characters didn’t always win as well. Some even died. The loss the survivors experienced really hurt them and shook their confidence. That makes them much more real than those who just let everything roll off their backs and never question their actions. Finally, the books contain hard choices and complicated characters and these first three novels pointed [and] built on that and created a pattern readers could expect.

What was the hardest part during the process?

Making sure everything was as historically accurate as possible as I wound through the fictional adventures. That is where the research comes in. Normally novel series don’t have to concern themselves with facts; this one does. As World War II is so well documented I have to have things happening in the right order to the point of pinning down specific dates and times.

What did you learn from the writing, editing process?

Christmas Seals 1942An author should learn with each new project … the research demands it. In this case, reading old newspapers, magazines, watching newsreels, and listening to vintage radio broadcasts is giving me a new window to World War II. By using these sources I view reporting as it happened, not filtered by historians who have the advantage of knowing how things turned out. We often forget that in the early years of the war we didn’t know who was going to win.

What keeps you going?

I love to tell stories. That drives me. I love to do research. I have a quest to find out facts. This fuels all of that. Also, when you get to write a million words about characters, they become very real. I’m therefore driven to drag them out and play with them.

Who inspired you to write or helped you along the way?

The Cat's Eye Promo HeadshotRick Cox was an editor I had in my feature writing days who honed my work and taught me how to think like a writer. I had two English teachers in high school that pushed me to write and a college professor, Ann Miller, who told me I had the talent and imagination to be an author. On top of those, my Arkansas grandparents fueled my interest in storytelling because they were master front-porch storytellers.

Where did you find the most interesting pieces of information for your first three books?

Classic radio news programs and old copies of The New York Times were sources that really gave me some gems. I think including the music of the era, along with motion picture references and slang also created the right mood and those things came from books and movies.

What is inspiring to you?

To always continue to grow! I told someone when I was eighteen my biggest fear was stagnation. I didn’t want to get to a point and remain at one level and stay there. Writing is my avenue for avoiding that.

Fun Fact: The photos of the Christmas stamps and postcard are from 1942, the year that the first volume of In The President’s Service takes place.

Ace’s encouragement to youChristmasCapitol

My bestselling book of all time was rejected more than two dozen times over a decade before I found an editor who thought it had merit. So my best advice is … if you feel you have a good idea don’t give up. Keep pushing until you find someone who shares that vision.

In the President’s Series

In the presidents service ace collins tisha martin author editor historical fiction world war two

In 2017, new episodes from In The President’s Service continue to be released by Elk Lake Publishing. The most recent is The Cat’s Eye with another novel, The Red Suit Case, set to hit the market at Christmas. Others in this series include A Date With Death, The Dark Pool, Blood Brother, Fatal Addiction, The Devil’s Eyes, The Dead Can Talk, Bottled Madness, Shadows In The Moonlight, Evilution, Uneasy Alliance, The 13th Floor, and The White Rose.

About Ace

Citing his Arkansas heritage, Christy Award winner Ace Collins defines himself as a storyteller. In that capacity, Collins has authored more than eighty books for 25 different publishers that have sold more than 2.5 million copies. His catalog includes novels, biographies, children’s works as well as books on history, culture and faith. Collins’ hobbies include sports, restoring classic cars, Wurlitzer jukeboxes and running. He is married to, Dr. Kathy Collins, the Chair of the Department of Education at Ouachita Baptist University. The couple lives in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, and has two grown sons.

Purchase from Amazon :: A Reader’s Christmas Gift

Episodes 1-3 In The President’s

Episode 13 In The President’s Service

Here’s the Giveaway Details:

  • One winner will receive the first volume of In The President’s Service
  • Click the Rafflecopter Link to be eligible to enter the giveaway
  • Comment on my blog, answering the fun question
  • Share with your friends on your favorite social media links.
    Here’s the shortlink:
  • Giveaway ends Thursday, November 30, 2017
  • Winner will be contacted via email and announced Friday, December 8
  • Best of luck to you!

Thank you for reading and for entering and for sharing this blog post with your friends on social media.

For December’s blog giveaway, we’ll explore Christmas during WWII with a special FBI Christmas-filled giveaway with suspense, humor, and intrigue:

The Red Suit Case follows three FBI agents as they seek to discern the real meaning of Christmas through the eyes of a small boy who fears  Santa Claus has become a casualty of war.



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The Liebster Award — to encourage new bloggers

Leibster Award Tisha Martin Author Editor historial fiction new blogFirst off, I’d like to thank David Rawlings (click his name for his thought-provoking blog) for nominating me for the Liebster Award. David’s been such an encouragement to me, from the first time I met him at ACFW in 2016, in Nashville. We sat in a brainstorming group late at night, and he was the first to take interest in my plotting woes and help me work through them. I’m delighted to call him a friend.

The Liebster Award

This is how the Leibster Award works: it is an award given by bloggers to fellow bloggers and aimed to encourage writers. The rules for the Liebster Award are as follows:

  • Thank the person who has nominated you for the award and link to their blog
  • Write some random facts about yourself
  • Answer the 11 questions the person has asked you
  • Nominate up to 11 people for the award (comment on their blog to let them know)
  • Ask the people you have nominated 11 questions

Random facts about myself:

  • I’ve trained three horses: a pony, a Paint, and a mustang Paint.
  • I was born premature and my parents were told my twin and I would be deaf and blind and unable to live a normal, regular life. I guess God had other plans.
  • I graduated with a bachelor’s and master’s in ten years, debt free.
  • I started working when I was 14. My first job was at a greenhouse which is my all-time favorite place to be. The beauty of flowers is so inspiring.
  • My desk is never clean and I sometimes know where things are. (Okay, I guess that isn’t a random fact…)
  • I’ve never broken any bones.
  • I secretly wish I owned Belle’s library, and as a child, I was secretly in love with Adam Cartwright from Bonanza. Some childhood dream, eh?
  • When I was a child, I was deathly afraid of the Abominable Snowman from Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer.
  • I started writing when I was the ripe old age of eight and I almost plagiarized. Well…I guess there’s nothing new under the sun, but if you’ll keep reading, you’ll understand why.

My 11 questions to answer:

Who were your favorite authors as a child? Why? 

Growing up on a farm, I enjoyed the outdoors as much as I could, but when winter shut me inside, books were my best friends. I spent many Saturday afternoons reading Nancy Drew series by Carolyn Keene, Trixie Belden series by Kathryn Kenny, and the High Hurdles series by Lauraine Snelling. I loved mystery and horses, and if it could be combined into one book then that was bliss. I could list lots more series but these were my favorite.

Is there a country you have always wanted to visit, and if so, where?  

Oh, what a question! I have always wanted to visit Germany and the surrounding countries for the historical buildings, beautiful mountains, and the un-sweet sweets. If you’ve ever sampled Deutsche Kuche Kässe, you’re missing out!

What is your favorite kind of weather?

My favorite kind of weather is a where the sun is peeking through the color on a crisp, fall day.

Why do you blog?

I blog because, like many other writers, I have time just sitting in a barrel waiting to be drawn up and used. 😉

What started you writing? 

I started writing when I was eight years old. I reinvented Little Women. The characters were now me and my three sisters. I wrote the six-page story on chunky-ruled notebook paper. It’s titled “Three Sisters,” and stuffed in my old journals in a box somewhere. What really started me writing was Tall and Proud by Vian Smith, and I wrote about it in another blog post. Vian Smith wrote with such honesty and vivid characters that I wanted to write like that. I created a story set in Nevada (Bonanza, anyone? 🙂 ) during the late 1880s. From there, it morphed into 16 hand-written books on college-ruled notebook paper and bound with pieces of ribbon. This series of books is now known as my work-in-progress, To Rise Up, set in the Midwest during WWII. Amazing how things change. But I wouldn’t change a thing.

What are the challenges of being an author/writer?

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Motivation only comes from within. People can encourage me all day long (which is very nice and I am thankful for that), but if I don’t actually sit down and write then I’m not fulfilling a worthy calling. To keep myself motivated, I have Pandora playing (usually music-only movie soundtracks and upbeat classical music, or Big Band if I’m really on a kick), or I scour Pinterest for inspirational photos of what I’m writing.

If you could choose a place to write where would it be?

A place where the scenery reminds me of a summery fall and where I can look out a window at beautiful, colorful leaves. Okay, just give me a mural.

What difference does it make being a Christian and an author?

Hmm, for me, there’s not much difference. I’m a Christian who happens to write. I’m thankful for the opportunity to write so that God can be glorified and others may be encouraged.

What’s your work in progress?

I have several works in progress.

  1. A WWII historical home front novel, To Rise Up that’s completed but in the last editing stages.Here’s the blurb:
    There’s more than just a war on—there’s a battle brewing between father and daughter. Sixteen-year-old Laurie goes against her father’s wishes, while battling her stepmother’s recent death and her own physical illness, to retrain retired cavalry horses for the war effort.
  2. A WWI historical home front novel that’s in the beginning stages of being written.Here’s the blurb:
    Caught in their wealthy uncle’s espionage ring, two brothers must fight to protect each other until lies and deceit drive them apart.

Who is your ideal audience?

My ideal audience likes to relate with somber topics with a twist of hope and humor to highlight that life is always on-the-go and something funny can always be found through it.

My ideal audience likes stories that are similar to movies such as…oh, dear, I can’t think of any comparisons, since I don’t usually watch that many movies. This will have to be a future blog post. Good motivation to come back!

My ideal reader is someone who:

  • loves the American home front during the world wars
  • struggles with family relationships and broken dreams
  • sees that God is all-present in their situation and is there to reach down and lift them up
  • wants to draw authenticity and depth of situations from everyday life in the lives of characters that could very well mirror their own
  • desires to see the splashes of humor in seemingly hopeless situations

So, my blog nominees:

Crystal Caudill, a fantastic historical romantic suspense writer, fellow writer, and prayer warrior. It’s great to go on writing retreats with her. (We fill up on enough tea to make a balloon swell.) Visit her blog The Write Call and sign up for her newsletter that’s sure to tickle your funny bone more than once.

Jessica Stefani is a historical fiction/time travel writer who has been instrumental in our Unraveling History Critique group. I’ve also enjoyed going to writer’s conferences with her. Hop on over to her engaging blog as she talks about writing, juggling the mom/writer life, and thought-provoking topics.

Cathryn Swallia writes historical fiction with humor, depth, and romance.  Also a key contributor to our Unraveling History Critique group, I have enjoyed her engaging comments and interesting information. You’ll really enjoy her blog, The Cooperjack Journal, filled with historical research information, animal tales, and inspiring life stories.

Please follow their blogs. You will be as encouraged as I have been encouraged. In laughter and inspiration. Happy reading!

Winners from the first giveaway post!! Drum roll please….

  • Judy G.
  • Susanne M.
  • Mary T.
  • Paula S.
  • Amy C.
  • Amanda M.

Congratulations, ladies! Winners have been contacted via email.

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Perspective: Polio Interview with Starr Tillman

Since I enjoy researching and writing about the WWII American home front and polio, I’m delighted to introduce you to my friend, Starr. I met Starr through the Post Polio Facebook page and I was so inspired by her love for life and her beautiful heart. As I got to know her, it became apparent that a beautiful heart is all about having the right perspective. Starr, thanks for letting me interview you and for sharing your life with us.

1940s wheelchair
1940s wheelchair

My character, Laurie, contracts polio in 1943, a time when America was engulfed in the throes of a world war, but also, fighting a home front war, the war against the crippling disease. What is your polio story?

Starr — Where should I begin. I have thought about it for a long time. I became sick at age 6 months old. I was born to teenage parents, Mom was 16 and Dad 15. They did what all parents do and I was vaccinated on schedule. It was my third dose, which was the live virus which I contracted polio. I have had good times, bad time, sad and happy. But looking back I would not change a thing. It is what made the person I am. It got me to where I am today. I love my life and I feel very blessed.

I know hospitals are not fun, but you’ve talked about some fascinating stories between you and a boy you met while in the hospital. What is your favorite memory?

Starr — This is an easy memory for me. Christmas Eve, the hospital was empty just a few of us there. They would take us to the auditorium and show Laurel and Hardy’s March of the Wooden Soldiers. We had popcorn and laughed a lot. My husband and I were friends back then. We both were in and out of the hospital and it seemed it was always at the same time.

I’m sure being in and out of the hospital was a love-hate relationship, especially because your best friend became your husband. 🙂

How did you spend your summers after polio?

The Eye of the Mustang
Sister, the Paint Mustang

Starr — Well, I discovered early on that I was different. I didn’t go outside that often, most were spent indoors either at home or the hospital. But I found ways to enjoy the change of seasons. I watched the colors change, and saw life from a window. In my teens, my parents bought a horse, they thought it would be good therapy. And it was, because the horse became my legs. I was able to go where ever I wanted. I know this sounds strange but I would go to a grave yard with a pad of paper and draw nature. And talk to the graves as if they were old friends.

My character had a horse, too, and had to learn how to ride again. Riding is wonderful therapy for anyone.

How did you meet your husband?

Starr — We met when we were six. Both in the hospital for two different reasons. We were on mats in physical therapy waiting our turn. He and another boy were behind me laughing. They took turns pulling on my pig tails. I cried and they [nurses] had to take me back to my room. Yes, and I married him. But there were many stories between then and our marriage.

That’s funny and cute. I’m sure he’s glad you decided to marry him, too.

What is your hobby?

Starr — I have many. I paint, draw, write poems, write short stories, crochet, cook, compose music and play many instruments. I sang and gardened prior to PPS.

I enjoy poetry and the hope it gives. You wrote a poem about “Whispers of Heaven.” I liked this section you wrote:

A life unvarnished rattled with pain

And back to this life I did reclaim

The time has since has passed seeming far away

But still I am here and will remain

thinking of time and that I must stay

For all we are now, and all we’re to be

We must follow the path that leads to thee

I know not where nor do I the time

What life I now have alone it is mine

But knowing what waits beyond is not pretend

For each of us holds to love when it’s our life’s end.

From my research, I’ve learned that Post Polio is a syndrome where the challenges of polio come back after a 20-40 year span. What is your approach to PPS?

Starr — I deal with it day by day. I try to enjoy every day, and am very thankful that I am here. Because I know life can be gone in an instant.

Through your life experience, how have you become a better person?

Starr — I am more sensitive to other people feelings, and am very patient.

People/things that make you happy?

Starr — Well right now it is being a grandmother. I have wanted to be one for such a long time.

Who was instrumental in shaping you into the wonderful person you are today?

1940s ApronStarr — I would have to say my Mom, because she pushed me. She was hard on me, but did it to make me stronger. And also all the staff at the children’s hospital I spent most of my life in.

Encouraging advice to others, and something that I can infuse into my own character’s life?

Starr — Never be defeated, defeat the circumstance. Let go of pain, both emotional and physical. And last is to forgive all those who have hurt you, and forgive yourself. It will lift such a weight off you. I have found that if you allow the sorrow to fill you with hate, you will never have the love you seek.

Thanks for sharing with us today, Starr! Your story is beautiful, inspiring, and a great reminder that we can have confidence no matter what we go through. We all have challenges in life, and I’m encouraged by your outlook on life.


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Interview: Author Pitch Toolkit with Katie Morford Phillips

Cover Sheet

I’m excited to introduce Katie (Morford) Phillips, the creator of this amazing and easy-to-use author pitch toolkit. As a writer who’s agonized over knowing how to pitch to an agent or editor and what to put together, it’s a relief to know that this reusable toolkit is available. Before we get started, though, Katie…

Tell us a bit about yourself!

Um, where to start. I’m a slow writer, a fast fiction editor, and a voracious reader who grew up re-imagining the endings of books I didn’t like. My first published novel was a co-authored romantic suspense novel, Kenan, but I typically trend toward soft speculative fiction. I have a space opera fantasy in revisions and I am currently working on a YA historical urban fantasy (think Harry Potter meets X-men in WWII-era northern England). I married a ballet/swing dancer and love travel, strawberries, and Cadbury Royal Dark Chocolate.

Sounds like you have life moving in beautiful circles. Your YA historical sounds intriguing!

What is the Author Pitch Toolkit?

The Author Pitch Toolkit is full of tips to impress agents and editors, real-life examples, and reusable templates for your querying/pitching journey.

Tell your story with clarity and confidence!

Wow, I wish this toolkit available to me when I had first pitched, or even when I had created my first book proposal! I’m so glad it’s available now!

What drew you to the crazy wonderful world of gifting authors with your awesome pitch toolkit?

As first an author, then a publisher and fiction editor, I’ve had the unique opportunity to see the book industry (especially the querying/pitching process) from both sides of the table. When so many of my fiction editing clients expressed to me how lost and overwhelmed they felt trying to navigate the pitching process, I knew I had the experience and expertise to guide them to telling their story with clarity and confidence. As one of my multi-published clients said, “This is the toolkit I wish I’d had when I was first starting out!”

This is super exciting! I can’t wait for Authors to get started using the toolkit!

What’s your favorite tool and why?

I absolutely love the query letter, synopsis, and one-sheet templates. So many amazing stories are sitting on a shelf because their author is too overwhelmed to try pitching or hasn’t been equipped to communicate their story in an intriguing way. Many writers struggle to condense an entire novel into a synopsis or blurb. The templates are designed to be super simple, plug-and-play resources. They guide authors step-by-step through the process and eliminate overwhelm so they can reach their goals.

For me, I’ve always struggled putting my story into a synopsis or even a blurb. Now that I’ve had the chance to look through this amazing toolkit, I’m confident that using it will 100% chase away all those intimidating feelings about the whole pitching/proposal process.

What do you want authors to come away with after purchasing their Author Pitch Toolkit?

I really want authors to walk away with tremendous clarity as to their story and its strongest selling points, and therefore great confidence in their story. I want to take authors from overwhelm to enthusiasm, and guide them through sharing their passion with an industry desperate for fresh stories and voices.

Thanks so much for joining us today, Katie, and for introducing your very affordable Author Pitch Toolkit!

Authors, you don’t have to wallow in self-doubt and insecurity over pitching in front of agents and editors. An affordable $30 lifetime investment for today’s author. 

Purchase the Author Pitch Toolkit today!

About Katie:

She sKatie Morford Phillips Author Pitch Toolkittarted writing with a friend in high school and eventually branched out on her own and completed 11+ novels and novels (which will never see the light), although she does have one romantic suspense novel published. After three years in journalism and three years living overseas doing communications for a non-profit, she returned to her native Kansas to launch her own fiction editing career. Helping authors is her passion. She’s also co-founder of Crosshair Press, an indie publishing house specializing in adventure stories.

How can Authors connect with you?








Crosshair Press:

Amazon (Kenan, a romantic suspense novel):

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Interview with Debut Author Cynthia Roemer + Giveaway

In every person dwells a life-long dream, whether that is singing, acting, or–in Cynthia’s case–getting published. I believe I met Cynthia through one of ACFW’s e-mail courses and we discovered we both wrote about the Midwest from different time periods. How cool is that?

Every author has a journey of how they finally got published. Cynthia’s determination is really inspiring! Like many writers, she’s wanted to write since she was a teen or a student in college. While in college, Cynthia wrote the rough draft of “Under This Same Sky” but didn’t pick it up until 2012, when she was serious about getting published, and completed the rough draft in 2016.

Keep reading to the end because there’s a giveaway on Rafflecopter!

What do you love best about your novel?

It would have to be the message it portrays—that of surrendering to God, despite our circumstances. There are so many hurting people who don’t understand why God allows bad things to happen. While my novel doesn’t attempt to answer that question, it does seek to demonstrate that God is able to work through our hardships to draw us closer to Him.

What was your research path?

While in college, I had to do 300 hours of course-related work. As an English/Creative Writing major, I asked to be allowed to use that time to write and research my novel. Much of my knowledge of the 1800s came during that time of research. I also have visited places like New Salem Historical Site and have interviewed people who are knowledgeable of the time period.

Who or what inspired you to write?

I would have to say Laura Frantz’ book, The Frontiersman’s Daughter, had a huge impact on me wanting to write historical fiction. She has such a fresh, wonderful way of pulling you into her characters.

What’s inspiring to you?

In the spiritual sense, I’m inspired by nature’s beauty, God’s unfailing love, and Christ’s sacrifice. As a person, I’m inspired by people who go against the odds and have the courage to rise above them. Maybe that’s one reason why I write novels. I get to create characters who display honor and determination.

About the Book

Book cover - final

When a tornado strikes Becky Hollister’s farm in the spring of 1854, she must leave the only home she’s ever known, and the man she’s begun to love to accompany her injured father to St. Louis.

Through frequent correspondence with the handsome circuit rider back home, Becky’s heart becomes increasingly knit with his. But when word comes that he is all but engaged to someone else, she must call upon her faith to decipher her future.

Matthew Brody didn’t intend on falling for Becky, but the unexpected relationship, along with the Lord’s gentle nudging, incite him to give up his circuit riding and seek full-time ministry in the town of Miller Creek, with the hope of one day making Becky his bride. But when his old sweetheart comes to town, intent on winning him back—with the entire town pulling for her—Matthew must choose between doing what’s expected and what his heart tells him is right.


About the Author

Cynthia Roemer is an award winning inspirational author from central Illinois. She holds a B.A. in English from U of I of Springfield, IL, specializing in creative writing. A freelance writer since 1988, she has over 100 short stories and articles printed in various Christian publications. Her love of history and writing culminate in this, her debut novel. Under This Same Sky is the first book in her upcoming Prairie Sky Series. Cynthia writes from her family farm where she resides with her husband, Marvin, and their two college-aged sons.

She can be reached via:




Under This Same Sky may be purchased at:

Now, here’s what you’ve been waiting for!!

Click the link below to enter to win a copy of  “Under This Same Sky.”


a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Regency Author Interview: Carolyn Miller


I’m pleased to introduce my Aussie friend, Carolyn Miller, who has a debut releasing February 27 with Kregel Publications!! If you like Victorian Regency, you’ll enjoy her novel, The Elusive Miss Ellison!

Tell us why you wrote The Elusive Miss Ellison.

 I wrote ‘The Elusive Miss Ellison’ because I’ve always enjoyed reading Regency romance (thank you, Jane Austen) and wanted to create something with the wit of Georgette Heyer, yet with a heart of grace and redemption. The tagline I’ve used is ‘Pride, prejudice and forgiveness…’ (Hopefully that’s not too presumptuous!) I hope readers feel I’ve written something that entertains and gives hope.

I love your tagline — it’s perfect! Who doesn’t love a Darcy feel and a novel that offers hope? I know I do!

What do you love best about your novel?

I love that Lavinia Ellison is the smart ‘Bluestocking’ character, whose compassion for the less fortunate intrigues the haughty new arrival, the Earl of Hawkesbury. I think she is relate-able – she’s not perfect (but who is?), not particularly beautiful (hello?!), and although she gets things wrong at times, she’s aware of her faults and working to get better. She is certainly a very different young lady to those he’s met before!

Oh my. I’ve got excited jitters already. 🙂 Love that you’ve given us an imperfect character that we can learn with.

What was the most work for you during the process?

As this novel concerns a number of titled characters (Earls, Countesses, Baronets, etc), I found it a challenge to learn about the precise nature of social address. It can get confusing at times who is addressed as a ‘Lord’ or ‘Lady’ or who is merely a ‘Sir’, so there were many consultations with for matters of etiquette.

As a writer of historical fiction, I can relate! Research is always fun, though! What was your research path?

Thank God for the Internet – it’s amazing how much research can take place from my desk in my little country town. In 2015 I was very fortunate to visit my sister who was living in London at that time. My husband looked after our children for three weeks while I visited Bath, the Cotswolds, Ireland, Brighton, Scotland and Derbyshire – where the two ‘Pride and Prejudice’ films were set. Visiting places I had only imagined (or ‘visited’ via Google Earth), such as North Nibley where I had set a key scene, was really humbling. I LOVED it!

 Sounds so exciting, Carolyn! A London trip was perfectly timed!

What kept you going?

Apart from the contract? I’m fascinated by the era, this amazing time of manners and social decorum, ideas and industrialization, a polite veneer that couldn’t always hide a darker underbelly of poverty and social upheaval. Despite the differences to contemporary life, I believe many issues remain the same. For example, while attending church was the norm, active relationship with God might have seen a Christian labeled unkindly – which is not so different to parts of our culture today.

 Who was an influential person who helped you along the way?

Tamela was obviously instrumental. As an Aussie trying to crack the US market, I’ve needed to find those willing to help spread the love about Miss Ellison. Through writing connections in Australia I was able to connect with Kara Isaac (who wrote the excellent New Zealand-based ‘Close to You’) who connected me with Dawn Crandall (author of the Everstone Chronicles) who opened up her list of influencers, without reading more than the blurb! Their encouragement, along with that of Carrie Turansky, has really helped me feel like I’ve at least a toe in the door. God is very good!

Being from Australia, how did you tap into the US market?

After writing my first novel back in 2010 I entered a number of online writing contests to determine if my work was any good. Several manuscripts down, having started to final in contests, I entered the American Christian Fiction Writer’s ‘First Impressions’ contest, with my Romantic Suspense novel – which I won. The same work made the finals in the ‘Genesis’ contest, where one of the judges was Tamela Hancock Murray, who became my agent. Discussions about what genre to write made me veer towards the Regency time period – partly because of my love for Jane and Georgette, and partly because as an Australian, I had some qualms about writing about US settings for a US audience who would know such settings far better than I would! Tamela showed my work to a number of Christian publishers; Kregel Publications were looking to add the Regency genre to their catalogue, so it was timing made in heaven.

What is inspiring to you?

All sorts of things inspire me: art, nature, music, travel, people whose hearts are bigger than their wallets. I remember Becky Wade, an author I admire, discussing writing, and how she likes to distill the theme into one word. The word I’ve tried to centre my writing around is grace – God’s undeserved favour, and His enabling to do His will on this planet. My husband and I pastored a church for ten years, and through that time came to see how much God loves people, and that His plans are for restoration of relationships, and to bring hope to this world. Knowing this means I can take a big breath and relax, trusting that God is in control, that His love is real, and His plans are good.

Thanks for sharing your novel journey with us, Carolyn! I’m excited for you!

You can pre-order The Elusive Miss Ellison on



Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. A longtime lover of romance, especially that of the Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency.

Connect with her:                                                     


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Author Interview: Sheri D. Parmelee


Hello! Thanks for taking the time to read this blog post. We’re interviewing the wonderful Sheri D. Parmelee, who takes the world by storm — in the classroom and in her practical tips for daily living. I met Sheri at the 2016 ACFW conference, and we hit it off immediately. It was our first ACFW conference, and she was so encouraging to me every time we ran into each other.

Although she’s still seeking representation for her recent unpublished nonfiction book, Suddenly Single, I thought it’d be great to introduce what she’s doing. I hope you find it fascinating as much as I did.

Why did you write Suddenly Single: A Practical Guide to Maintaining Your Household When Your Spouse is NLA?

I wrote this book because my father had lost his wife of 67 years two years previously after a six- week illness and my Sunday school teacher’s wife of 46 years was in the process of dying; neither man had the slightest idea of how to take care of their houses. I still travel from Maryland to Florida once a month in order to clean my father’s condo. At 89, he is not likely to learn how to do it himself. My teacher’s daughters make trips from Pennsylvania and Illinois every two weeks, to cook two weeks’ worth of food and clean his home. I finished the manuscript the day after my teacher’s wife died; her illness was six months long.

While doing research for the book, I learned that many widows are in similar situations but on the opposite side of the discussion. They have no idea how to complete basic maintenance on their homes because their husbands “always did that.” Additional study showed me that both sides of the domestic equation need basic financial planning information and the book was born!

What do you love best about Suddenly Single?

What I love most about the book is that it can help someone answer the question “What do I do now?” It takes a very helping-hands approach to getting the individual organized and on track.

What was the most work for you during the process?

The most work for me was learning what my husband does to maintain our home. I had no idea about the steps in unclogging a rain gutter or mowing the lawn or keeping rodents at bay.

What did you learn from the process?

I learned from the process that there are many things that we each take for granted that our spouse does without comment.  I had previously written (and just had published) my dissertation on indirect communication and House, M.D., so I knew how to write but this self-help book was a different type of writing than the academic writing I was used to doing.

How long did it take for you to complete Suddenly Single?

It took me 6 months to complete my manuscript for Suddenly Single. I know you aren’t supposed to say that “it wrote itself,” but it really did come to me pretty easily, once my research was complete. It was a joy to write because I could picture the recently-bereaved individual picking up the book and finding answers to the most basic questions. Yes, someone could look things up online but many times we don’t know what we don’t know. This book tells that person what he or she needs to know about and then how to do it!

You’ve chosen a catchy topic. What inspired you toward the topic?

I was inspired to use the title Suddenly Single when I was talking to a friend about the book. I hadn’t come up with a title at that point in time, but I looked at her and asked, “What would you do if you were suddenly single?” That was the title that fit!

What kept you going?

The thing that really kept me going during the research and writing process was the feeling that I had information that could be shared with someone after he or she had emerged from the darkest days of his or her life. It was a very practical way to help someone I had never met and it totally motivated me to continue the writing process. It was truly a labor of love to help those who I got to know through the numerous interviews I did while researching the topic.

What has been the hardest thing about the process so far?

The hardest thing about the process has definitely been the search for the right literary agent. At a recent conference, three out of the four agents I pitched the book to wanted to read the manuscript, but I am still waiting to hear back from them.  The agent/writer relationship is like a marriage, so it is vital that the right agent and I are matched.

An influential person who inspired you to write or helped you along the way.

The person who inspired me the most during this writing process has been my sister-in-law Nancy Dean. She has read the manuscript from the very first draft and offered priceless advice about the writing and my approach to the various topics in the book. She also arranged several interviews with folks she knew would offer professional insights into things such as lawn maintenance and rodent removal.

What was your research path?

My research path began with “what do I know that I wish men knew about cleaning the house, the clothes cleaned, and the family fed?” It went from there to “what financial plans does everyone need to have in place?” It finished with “what do I need to know to maintain the house if something happens to my hubby?”

What is inspiring to you?

I am inspired by people like Emily Barnes, who wrote about home organization many years ago.   The late Erma Brombeck is also a hero of mine; I approach the topics in Suddenly Single with some of the humor that I hope emulates her style of writing.

Any encouraging word?

My book offers guidance on organizing and maintaining one’s home and argues that someone with no background in these types of chore can learn how to do these tasks efficiently and effectively. As a result of lessons learned herein, readers can become more confident in their ability to get their lives and homes under control. The panic that they initially felt should subside, being replaced with the calm self-assurance that their lives are now more organized than they previously thought possible.

Suddenly Single is for Baby Boomers who become unexpectedly unmarried. The Census Bureau states that as of 2013, there were 44.7 million Boomers aged 65+. Of these, 24.7% were widowed and 16.7% were divorced or never married. This equates to more than 18 million people! They usually played specific roles in their families; many of them are clueless about household management. My amusing book beats searching websites to learn how to clean, control finances, or shop for groceries.

Thanks for sharing with us about your book that’s in search of a home , Sheri! I’m excited to see what will happen in the future.

About Sheri D. Parmelee, Ph.D.

Sheri has undergraduate degrees in English and Communication from the University of Maryland College Park. She has an MBA with an emphasis in leadership from Liberty University and a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Regent University. Since 2006, sheri-parmelee-bio-photoSheri has been adjunct faculty member for three different colleges. When’s she’s not teaching, she’s caring for her father who became suddenly single, speaking at academic conferences. She shares many of her own experiences on her blog through humorous tales of driving with bald tires and a clicking engine; these days, she drives with a bald man and clicking joints.

You may learn more about her and download a free chapter of Suddenly Single from her website and glean many practical tips available on her blog at

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