I am finally back on track with completing my book review schedule and am happy to share this review with you today. If you read this book or are now going to read this book, I'd love to find out your thoughts. Thanks again for stopping by The Mustard Seed. 

Title:  Kincaid’s Hope

Author:  Grace Greene

Publisher:  Turquoise Morning Press

Length: 298 pages

Category: Contemporary Romantic Suspense

Rating: Sweet                                      

Purchase Link Kincaid's Hope on Amazon

Beth Kincaid endured an unhappy childhood and left the small town life to start over in the city. Her bottled up emotions from the past cause her to live the “tidy” life she thinks she wants to live—yet does not realize isn’t good for her emotional sanity. When a personal crisis ensues, she must return to her childhood home and all of the issues from the past overwhelm her and are a catalyst to bring necessary change to her life. She discovers secrets and learns the truth about the woman who raised her. These revelations unravel her tightly-bound emotions and move her forward into a life-changing journey.

My review:

I read Ms. Greene’s debut novel, Beach Rental, and enjoyed that book and was not disappointed with her second novel, Kincaid’s Hope. This is a unique modern-day romantic suspense novel, with eerie gothic tones—a well-played combination, expertly woven into the storyline. This was a different type of book from Ms. Greene’s debut; yet, not in the least disappointing. Rather, she rode the wave of excellent writing in her first novel with the same complex writing style which easily draws the reader in to these interesting characters’ lives.

The characters were relatable and I enjoyed immersing myself into their story. Once I started reading, I had a hard time stopping at my self-imposed two chapters a night rule. I enjoy reading romantic suspense and loved the intense, suspenseful scenes woven into this novel. I highly recommend Kincaid’s Hope and look forward to reading more of Ms. Greene’s books.

My Rating (Kincaid’s Hope): 5 Stars—Outstanding Fiction

5 Stars—Outstanding Fiction: Rivals my love affair with the classics of Jane Austen
4 Stars—Top Notch Fiction: Highly recommend you read this book and watch this author
3 Stars—Ordinary Fiction: Not earth shattering revelation of greatness, but worth reading
2 Stars—Disappointing Fiction: Hoped for more and you won’t find this book fulfilling
1 Star—Not-so-good Fiction: Difficult to keep reading; you won’t want to read it either

(Disclaimer: I reserve the right not to post reviews with a rating below 3 Stars)

A gratis copy of this book was sent to this reviewer by the author / or publisher in exchange for an impartial evaluation.

Author Lisa K. Winkler is a guest today at The Mustard Seed for an interview. Hope you all can stay around to visit with Lisa. Let's meet her...

I have worked as a journalist and an educator.  I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, www.smithsonian.com. (April 24, 2009). Two essays have been published in anthologies:  “I’m Going to College- Not You!: Surviving the College Search with My Child.”  (St. Martin’s Press, 2010), and “Knit One, Purl Two: Life Lessons from Knitting” in Wisdom of our Mothers. (Familia Books, 2010).  A newspaper reporter before becoming a teacher, I write for professional journals and for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. (www.educationupdate.com). My interviews include authors, college presidents, scientists, and artists, among others, including Miles Dean in February 2009. I met Dean while serving as an educational consultant in Newark, NJ public schools and interviewed him for many months.   I hold a BA from Vassar College and an MA in Urban Education from New Jersey City University.  I have three children, three grandchildren, and love yoga, cycling, knitting reading, writing and cooking.

You can connect with Lisa online here:

Lisa's Website
Find Lisa on Facebook
Find Lisa on Twitter

Lisa, what was the inspiration for your latest work of non-fiction? 

As a teacher, I’ve witnessed how young people know little of history. In urban areas, youth learn about slavery and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a few more facts during February, Black History Month. Yet they have little if any connection with these historical figures. When I began my own reading after meeting Miles, I became fascinated with these people whose contributions to the development of the US are largely unknown. Most adults haven’t heard of these people. American history needs to include all races and genders to truly demonstrate who built this nation, their struggles and sacrifices and stories. From my research, I couldn’t find any records of other African Americans who have ridden a horse across the country in modern day, with this purpose in mind. A cross-country journey in itself is a story. I loved the idea of this young boy growing up watching western movies and television shows and dreaming that he too could become a cowboy.

What was the most interesting research you had to do for any of your books? 

I read a lot of books that I found in libraries or bought. These included biographies, geography and books about horses.  I consulted maps and also interviewed some of scholars Miles met on his journey. I poured through the Internet. I read Miles’ website and transcribed his podcasts he arranged with the Star-Ledger and interviews he conducted with people he met. I enjoyed reading about the black jockeys the most.

Are you currently working on any new book projects?

Yes. While completing the Educators Guide for this book, I decided to create an anthology of blog posts and have invited other bloggers to participate. The response has been enthusiastic. It’s fun to have another “project” in the works, that’s very different from my book.

Sounds like a very interesting project. Do you have any advice for beginning writers on how to write a non-fiction book?  Do you have any advice for them regarding promoting that book once published? 

With any writing, you have to be passionate and committed to the process. With non-fiction, I think you have to truly become obsessed with the subject to create a book. It’s not like fiction—you can’t make it up!

That said, I also believe it can happen—just don’t give up! It takes tons of patience, fortitude and sometimes luck to get published. With self-publishing there are many options to get your work out, but it’s a very tough (and can be expensive) road. Believing in your story is paramount. If you have passion for it, others will too. Also, there’s no “quick fix.” While an occasional book might sell hundreds of copies the first week, thousands the first month and so on, most don’t.  I believe marketing really becomes a personal adventure: why would someone want to read my book? I view it as my journey: one sale, one reader, one book at a time. If you care about the book, you have to put effort into marketing it.

Some of the best advice from an author I've heard in a long time. So true that if you have a passion for your work, others will too. What’s your writing schedule like?  When do you find time to write?

I’m best in the morning. I try to be at my computer by 5:30 or so and get something accomplished by 7. Then I have to eat breakfast. Then I try to exercise and then get back to work. Of course that routine is broken most days. I try to fit it in whenever I can. Now that the book is done, I’m less strict. Having a Blog: Cycling Grandma (also accessible via my website) keeps me disciplined. I try to post twice a week.

How did you find your publisher?  What was your journey to publication like?

I had submitted my book proposal and sample chapters to over 100 agents. After researching self-publishing, I felt this was the way to go. I’m not unhappy with my decision. I did have a professional copy editor and book designer and that made a huge difference in the book’s appearance and quality.

How have your friends and family received your career as an author? Are they supportive?

Yes! But I think also surprised that I became so obsessed with writing this book and actually saw it through! A bunch of friends came to my first book talk and it made me feel immediately relaxed.

Support of friends and family is so vital to authors. 

I'd love to hear about your book, Black Cowboy's Ride Across America. 

Growing up black in Brooklyn, Miles Dean wanted to be a cowboy. He galloped through the streets on his bicycle, ambushing outlaws on street corners, imitating the heroes he watched in television westerns. More than three decades later, he rode Sankofa, his 12-year-old Arabian stallion, from the African Burial Grounds in lower Manhattan, to the California African American Museum in Los Angeles.

Dean, a Newark, NJ schoolteacher, used an unpaid leave of absence to follow his childhood dream: his  5,000 mile- journey through 12 states  took six months.

Conceived to celebrate the contributions of African Americans in US history, this inspirational story brings the reader into large cities and small towns, connecting with the horseback ride and the many people Dean met. Through his daily regimen of riding his horse, the reader witnesses the physical and emotional discipline required to complete such a journey. 

I met Dean while working as an educational consultant in Newark and believed Dean’s mission and message would make a compelling story. On the Trail of the Ancestors: A Black Cowboy’s Ride Across America will resonate with animal lovers, horsemen and women, armchair travelers, and with educators, parents and young people who are part of the African American community or connected with it. 

Where can readers find your book online?

It’s available via my website, on Amazon, and other book stores. 

Lisa, thank you so much for guesting today. I enjoyed chatting with you and learning more about you and your work. 

Hope everyone can stay to visit with Lisa.


The winner of our April New Releases Clash is:

The Restorer’s Son-Expanded Edition by Sharon Hinck

A hearty congratulations to Sharon!

And a special thank-you to the following authors for being part of this fun week:

Susan Page Davis, author of Cowgirl Trail
DiAnn Mills, author of The Chase
Kate Lloyd, author of Leaving Lancaster
Nancy Herriman, author of The Irish Healer

ABOUT The Restorer's Son-Expanded Edition:
Book two in the groundbreaking Sword of Lyric series, The Restorer’s Son won a Carol Award for speculative fiction.

Plunged again into the gray world of Lyric and Hazor, Susan and Mark search frantically for their teenage son, Jake. All signs hint that a trusted ally has betrayed them and threatens their son. A target of assassins and more political intrigue, false leads and near misses beset their path, which leads them into the dark prisons of Hazor before the One’s purpose is revealed.

Cast out by those he trusts, the new reluctant Restorer prefers to cross swords with the One rather than submit to His will. Pursued by his calling, he journeys to Sidian, where he finds a boy without a home, a king with burning questions, and a nation torn by darkness. As he embraces the tasks the One has set before him, this new Restorer learns that the One requires his all—perhaps even his life.


*Have read the other books & the original editions & Sharon is a master story-teller...humorous, poignant, deep & lyrical! A must-read!
*I love and am impressed and inspired by everything you write, Sharon. God's blessings daily.
* I LOVED The Restorer! One of my all-time favorite books because it made me love Jesus more.
*I love, love, love The Restorer's Son. If you haven't read it, you should. (Make sure to look for the Expanded Edition to get extras.)
*Sharon is a wonderful wordsmith whose creative writing is experience validated. Can't wait to dig into this one.
*To be read? Maybe to be re-read... for the sixth time. I'm in love with The Sword of Lyric trilogy, and the extended releases are the perfect excuse to tell everyone I know about these books. The Restorer's Son is one of the most powerful fiction titles I've ever read, and it will be on my to-(re)read list for many years to come.

ABOUT the author, Sharon Hinck:

Sharon writes “stories for the hero in all of us,” about ordinary people experiencing God’s grace in unexpected ways. Known for their authenticity, emotional range, and spiritual depth, her novels include contemporary fiction such as The Secret Life of Becky Miller or Stepping into Sunlight and the groundbreaking Sword of Lyric fantasy series which includes The Restorer’s Son–Expanded Edition. She’s been a Christy finalist and won three Carol awards.
Sharon’s undergrad degree is in education, and she earned an M.A. in Communication. When she isn’t wrestling with words, Sharon enjoys speaking to conferences, retreats, and church groups. She loves interacting with visitors at her website and blog: sharonhinck.com.

Q and A with SHARON: 

Q. Besides an entertaining read, what do you hope people experience in The Restorer’s Son-Expanded Edition?

A. My hope is that readers will catch glimpses of the way the One speaks to each of us in the language we understand, and that we can go to Him with our difficult questions. For those who are walking very painful roads, I hope the story will help them feel acknowledged. The journey is hard, heroic, and sometimes frightening. But we are never alone.

Q.What was it like developing new material for this new edition?

A. Books are like children. I treasure each of them in different ways, and among the novels I’ve written, I try not to have favorites. However, I confess that The Restorer’s Son has an extra special place in my heart. Because of that, it was fun to revisit the characters and world of this story. Kieran’s attitudes were loosely inspired by a verse in Judges where Gideon is told God will use him to save his people. Gideon’s response is basically, “If God is for us, why have all these bad things happened to us?” It’s a question many can relate to, and part of the reason that Kieran is such a beloved character. 

The new devotion guide gives readers an opportunity to dig deeper into the Biblical inspirations that helped inform the book, as well as find personal application. About forty pages of new content, including bonus scenes and a new song composed for the book, make this edition a new experience. 

Q. Where can we buy the book?


To order The Restorer’s Son-Expanded Edition:

Kindle version:

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day. Author, J.F. Jenkins is a guest today at The Mustard Seed sharing her thoughts on this day and she's also doing a book giveaway, so stick around to chat. 

Growing up, Memorial Day had always been a time to get together with family and friends. We grilled, chilled, and chatted until the sun went down. No fireworks or parades, and it became a time for us to bond. A holiday I looked forward to every year, but not one I reflected on much. Then again, my family hadn't been directly touched by the military for a long time. And for families like mine, the true meaning of Memorial Day can get easy to forget.

Then it started to hit closer to home, and for the first time in a long time, I sit and reflect on Memorial Day. I think about my cousin and his wife (both serving on separate bases in the same country, last I checked) who have two toddler aged girls that they've only seen via Skype basically. They've only been able to spend a few months with their girls at a time. Or I think about my friends who have spouses over seas and never know when they're going to be coming home for good or if there is an end in sight. There's also my old co-worker who calls back asking for simple treats like coffee because the stuff they have where he is, isn't all too great. My parents friends who have kids over seas, kids who are my age with their own families.

And of course there are my two grandfathers who both passed away recently. Both were World War II veterans who served on the Pacific side of the fighting. During both of their illnesses, I became fascinated with their stories from a time so unlike today. At the same time, very similar too. The enemies may look different, but the motivations are still the same. We fight to protect those we love. It's part of our human nature. And it's this love that I'm thinking about the most right now. A love I'm grateful for and admire because it's so incredibly selfless.

So, let's chat...what are the top five random facts about yourself?

1. My eyes are two different colors.

2. I married into the family of relatives of Nathaniel Hawthorne.

3. I have a collection of autographed memorabilia for my someday office.

4. I don't plot or pants when I write. I Plants.

5. When I eat, I always finish eating one food before moving on to the next one. I never mix my foods together either.

Some interesting facts! Thanks for sharing. Why do you like being an author?

Sharing my stories and hearing what people think about them. Mostly though sharing my stories and getting them out there.

Who’s your favorite author of classic literature?

F. Scott Fitzgerald

What’s your favorite novel?

I don't think I can pick just one! There are so many I like. I suppose The Stand by Stephen King, or the Drawing of Three (also King).

Do you have a fond memory of interaction with a reader?

One reader sent me a Thank You card that was really sweet. I still keep it. :)

It's definitely nice hearing from readers. What was the happiest moment in your childhood?

Probably playing with my friends outside. We had some pretty crazy adventures at our respective houses, and they're the kind of memories I'll keep with me for my entire life.

I have six brothers and two sisters and remember those days playing outside in our own crazy adventures as well. Thanks so much for guesting. I enjoyed learning more about you and hearing your thoughts on Memorial Day. 

You can connect with J.F. Jenkins online here:

J.F. Jenkin's Website
A Dragon's Love Blog

Find J.F. Jenkins on Facebook 
Find J.F. Jenkins on Twitter

J.F. Jenkins lives in Minneapolis Minnesota with her husband, son, and two cats. She graduated from Bethel University in 2006 with a degree in Media Communication with minors in both writing and film. When she is not busy writing, she spends her free time playing games, reading, and spending time with her family.

Don't forget to hang around to visit with J.F. Jenkins to enter to win one of her six books. 

Ruth J. Hartman is a guest at The Mustard Seed today and she's sharing her thoughts on Memorial Day. Hope you can hang around to chat with Ruth and remember the real meaning of this special day.

Ruth J. Hartman is a published author as well as a licensed dental hygienist. She lives in rural Indiana with her husband of 29 years and their two very spoiled cats.

Ruth’s sweet, humorous romances revolve around dentistry, cats, or both.

For more about her books and writing

Connect with Ruth on Facebook

Memorial Day used to only mean a day off from school when I was a kid. Then as an adult, a day off of work. As a grew older, I learned about some of the Veterans in my own family. My dad served during the Korean War. He was away from my mom for a couple of years, only getting to return home briefly when my sister was born. He didn’t get to see her again until she was two. My father-in-law was in WWII. And my uncle was even awarded a medal of honor for bravery in WWII, although we didn’t learn of it until he was over ninety years old. He just never bothered to tell anyone. He said he didn’t think anyone would be interested!

But the veteran who really brought Memorial Day home to me was my husband’s young cousin. He served two terms in Iraq and had been home for a year or so when he was killed in a car accident just down the road from our house. It was shortly before his 27th birthday. He had a serious girlfriend and was in the process of looking for a job, since he’d just completed his college degree. On top of that, he was one of the nicest people you’d ever meet. It was a heart-breaking situation.

Sitting at the funeral, my first thoughts were: what a waste. What a shame. He had so much more life to live. And yes, while that’s true, it wasn’t up to me to decide that. But then several members of his platoon, dressed in their army garb, came in as a group and sat down. They were sad, of course, since they’d lost a very dear friend. But when I looked at their faces, what I saw was pride. They were proud of their comrade. Proud to be part of the army. Proud to serve their country in whatever capacity it required. No matter what.

So had our cousin. He’d been so proud to join the armed forces, to be a part of something larger than he was. He was so proud of his country.

I don’t think I will ever again take Memorial Day for granted. All I have to do is remember the looks on the faces of the army corp. at the funeral. And I know the importance of serving your country.

Rest in peace, Randy.

Ruth thank you so much for sharing your heart with us today and reminding us of the real meaning of Memorial Day and how we need to honor the men and women who serve to keep us safe and protect our freedoms. 

Can you tell us about Men in Uniform?

We admire a man in uniform, and what better way to celebrate it than a collection of stories inspired by men fighting to defend our country, and the women who love them? This sweet collection of romance spans the generations of men of valor from present day dating back to World War II. 

Where can readers find this book online?

Purchase Link for Uniform Short Story

I love the cover and this is a book definitely going on my TBR pile. 

If you'd like to enter to win in Ruth's book giveaway, don't forget to join the chat and comment. 

*guest post by April W Gardner

This week, Clash of the Titles is featuring five novels new to bookstore shelves. You don't want to miss a single one! They're already getting great reviews. Check them out on Amazon by clicking the cover images. You can also use the survey below to let us know which you're most likely to read first. Which one is going to the top of your TBR pile?

COWGIRL TRAIL by Susan Page Davis
Alex Bright is torn between supporting the cowboys who want to strike or the rancher who gave him his start. The boss’s beautiful daughter complicates matters when she organizes an all-woman outfit to replace the striking men.

THE RESTORER'S SON by Sharon Hinck
Cast out by those he trusts and preferring to cross swords with the One rather than yield to His will, Kieran flees to enemy Hazor, only to find that the One knows no borders. Pursued by his calling, Kieran finds a boy without a home, a king with burning questions, and a nation torn by darkness. 

THE CHASE by DiAnn Mills
To FBI Special Agent Tigo Harris, it's a cold case, but to writer Kariss Walker it's a story that she has to write despite the danger. 
When Holly Fisher's mother reveals a long-kept secret, that Holly's mother abandoned her Amish community where relatives still live, will Holly's yearning for family be strong enough to overtake her conflicted feelings of betrayal? Set in the heart of contemporary Amish country, Leaving Lancaster explores the power of forgiveness, reconciliation, and love where least expected.

THE IRISH HEALER by Nancy Herriman
Accused of murdering a child under her care, Irish healer Rachel Dunne flees the ensuing scandal while vowing to never sit at another sickbed. When a cholera epidemic sweeps through London, she feels compelled to nurse the dying daughter of the enigmatic physician she has come to love. 

Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey, the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Author Sunny Frazier is a guest at The Mustard Seed today sharing her thoughts on Memorial Day and she is also doing a book giveaway so be sure to stay and visit. 

Sunny Frazier is the author of the Christy Bristol Astrology Mysteries, “Fools Rush In,” and “Where Angels Fear.” She is also acquisitions editor for Oak Tree Press, a Navy veteran and former confidential secretary for a narcotics unit in the Fresno Sheriff's Department. 
Sunny Frazier's Website 

Books can be ordered at the Oak Tree Press bookstore , Amazon, Kindle and Nook. 


Remember the Maine, the Alamo, Pearl Harbor. But, for years the Pueblo Incident, as it was dubbed, has been buried under the carpet and consciousness of the American public.

I am a member of Post 3 of the American Legion, Hanford, CA. In our post is a diminutive man with a gray flowing beard and the Legion Motorcycle Riders nickname “Critter.” At every meeting there is a chair that is draped with a black cover reminding us of the POW's who remain unaccounted for. Critter is one who came back.

The USS Pueblo was hijacked by the North Koreans in 1968, the first U.S. Navy ship seized by a foreign military in over 150 years. One man died in the takeover, 82 crewmen were held captive, tortured and beaten for 335 days with no intervention from President Johnson or the Department of Defense.

Was the Pueblo a spy ship? Possibly. Captain Bucher claimed the ship was taken in International waters. Despite leading his men in spirited resistance during their captivity, Bucher was recommended for court martial upon his return.

The crew was held in two camps nicknamed The Barn and The Farm. They lived on turnips and two bathroom breaks a day. Remember the scene in Deer Hunters where the men are forced to play Russian Roulette? That's what they did to Bucher. When the Koreans filmed the crew for propaganda releases, they slyly flipped the camera the bird and used slang the Koreans wouldn't understand. Once this tactic was published in Time Magazine, conditions for the men got worse.    

This was no “Hogan's Heroes” or “Stalag 13.” This was the real deal. It happened when Americans were protesting the war in Vietnam and the military was looked down upon by the people they were protecting.

Finally, on December 23, 1968, the men were walked across the DMZ to South Korea and freedom. For their sacrifice they received little recognition. But, Critter remembers. His presence reminds us, at every meeting, that there are those who are lost to us and those who lost much of themselves in an incident people are willing to forget.     

Can you share with us about your book, Where Angels Fear?

Set in the Central Valley of California, author Sunny Frazier once again explores the rich agricultural region, rural law enforcement and crimes shrouded by Tule fog in this sequel to FOOLS RUSH IN. Amateur astrologer Christy Bristol finds herself on the fringes of Kearny society and a members-only sex club as she reluctantly takes on a missing person case. A prominent business man has disappeared and his wife cannot go to the authorities. Armed with only a prescription bottle and matchbook as clues, the young woman must face the Knights of Sensani and her own sexual limitations. 

Sunny, thank you so much for guesting today and I want to thank you for your service to our Country. 

Don't forget to hang around and chat with Sunny. If you'd like to be entered to win in her book giveaway, please comment on this blog post. 

Author Lee Ann Sontheimer is a guest at The Mustard Seed today. Hope you all had an awesome weekend and can spend some time chatting with Lee Ann. 

One of the most frequent questions I field as an author is how I come up with ideas. For me, there’s always a story behind the novel. Sometimes they’re personal and often they’re not. My latest release, In The Shadow of War, from Rebel Ink Press is my first full length historical romance. The time period is World War II and the physical setting is southwest Missouri where I now live. Camp Crowder, an actual Army training post, is pivotal to the story. Although the actual Army post deactivated in the early 1960’s, the military heritage continues with part of the original location serving as a Missouri National Guard Training Facility. A community college, the local Y, several industries, and more cover the space once home to Army soldiers and staff. Much of the once large post has also reverted to the wild, to the forests and the now overgrown fields which were once farms.

After moving to the Ozark region from the opposite end of the state, I attended classes at Crowder College. I wrote for the campus newspaper and penned a series of stories about the transition from Army camp to college. History intrigues me and I can get caught up in imaging the past. The premise of a local girl falling for one of the soldiers at the camp simmering in my brain for a long time and last year I sat down to write the tale. I chose to begin it in a contemporary setting, as an old woman remembers for her great-granddaughter, then tell the story as it unfolded.

Lee Ann, thank you for sharing with us. Can you tell us about your novel In the Shadow of War?

Here’s the blurb for the novel:

Her great-granddaughter wants to know if Bette remembers World War II for a school project and her questions revive old memories….

Small town school teacher Bette Sullivan's life was interrupted when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941 but her world changed forever when she met Private Benny Levy, a soldier from the Flatbush neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York stationed at Camp Crowder, the local Army base. 

Their attraction is immediate and mutual but as their relationship grows their love and lives are shadowed by World War II. As the future looms uncertain the couple comes together with almost desperate need and a powerful love they hope can weather anything, including the war.

Sounds like a great book. Can you share an excerpt with us?

And here’s a short excerpt from the prologue:


            Dainty African violets bloomed in the window sill despite the weather outside.  Snow fell at a fast, furious rate blanketing everything with white.  On any other Sunday afternoon Bette might’ve dozed, settled into her favorite corner of the couch, listening to some old black and white classic movie, but today she’d willed herself to stay alert.  Across the room, one of her great-granddaughters, April or Allie or something with an A, waited with pen poised to paper. She awaited the answer, but Bette just couldn’t quite recall the question.

            “Tell me again, honey, what you need to know for school,” she said.

            Ariel. She remembered now they’d named the kid for a mermaid in some Disney film. 

            The girl sighed. “We’re studying World War II in history and we’re supposed to interview an elderly person about what they remember.  Do you remember World War II?”

            “Of course, I do,” Bette replied, a little stung by the precocious question from a girl who might be sixteen.  Maybe she couldn’t always remember what she ate for breakfast or the name of the building’s maintenance man, but she recalled the past with amazing clarity.  “What about it, exactly, do you want to know?”

            “Like, I don’t know,” Ariel said with a flip of her abundant hair. “My history teacher just said to ask.  I’ve got to write a paper about it so just tell me something you remember about it.  Did you know any soldiers or anything?”

            “I did. There was an Army training camp in the small town where I’m from in Missouri,” Bette said, her mind drifting back across the country and over the years. “Your grandpa, no, I guess it’d be your great-grandpa, served in the Army and it’s where we met.”

            “Cool,” Ariel said. “So tell me about him.”

            Bette focused on the old sepia photograph of her husband on the wall above the television, the one where he wore his full dress uniform.  Beside it, the photo of her sitting in front of him just days after their wartime wedding reminded her of those days.  Memories rushed into her mind, heady and full-bodied like fine wine. “Okay, but Ariel, I have to start at the beginning.”

            “When?” the teen asked as she picked at a broken fingernail. “Don’t go all the way back to the dark ages, please.”

            For a moment Bette debated on whether she should slap the girl or not, but remembered most people frowned on such things today.  “It all started the day America got into the war, Ariel, on December seven, nineteen and forty-one, a day that will live in infamy.”

            “Pearl Harbor,” Ariel said, with sudden interest. “Yeah, I remember that from class.”

            “Good,” Bette said. “Now hush and I’ll tell you about living it.”

Where can readers find your book online?

Find In the Shadows of War on B&N
Find In the Shadows of War on Amazon
Find In the Shadow of War on Bookstrand
Find In the Shadow of War on All Romance eBooks

Where can readers connect with you online?

Lee Ann's Blog: A Page in the Life
Rebel Writer: Lee Ann Sontheimer
Seanachie Stories: Tuesday Tales And More

Lee Ann, so glad you guested today. I enjoyed learning more about you and how as a writer you generate ideas. 

Hope you all can stay and chat with Lee Ann. 

I remember when I was a novice writer and I had no idea what I was doing.  My journey has taken me a long way from those days, but I wanted to offer some advice for beginning writers.  

Get an Idea Journal

I still have one to this day.  Did you ever think of some great idea and then forget about it later on because you forgot to write it down?  I keep my journal handy and write down new book ideas and keep adding them to the list because I never know when I’m going to need a new book idea.

Write Every Day

You’re never going to accomplish anything in the writing world unless you put pen or pencil to paper or start typing away.  I know it’s hard and many times life gets in the way, but if becoming a published author is a dream of yours, then you need to write every day.  Now, this includes any type of writing, whether you are working on your WIP (work in progress) or writing a blog or writing articles for publication or just writing in your journal.  Keep the creative juices flowing and write every day.

Set Goals for Yourself

If you don’t set goals, you will have a more difficult time succeeding as an author.  There are immediate, short-term and long-term goals.  Immediate goals are those that will be done right now, like writing every day.  Creating a story outline and developing your characters, then starting the manuscript.  Short-term goals are those goals that will be accomplished in the next 6 months to a year.  Will you finish that manuscript?  Do you know how to edit it yourself and then find a professional editor?  Where are you going to go to look for a publisher?  Long-term goals will happen in the next year and following.  Once you’ve signed your first publishing contract, where do you see yourself?  Will you start work on your next WIP?

Write First, Edit Later

Not everyone is the same when it comes to their own editing process, but let me share what has worked well for me.  I do some story outlining (not always as strict a process for every manuscript) and then begin to write, always keeping in mind, my four main rules of writing and I don’t do a complete edit until I finish the entire manuscript.  If I start editing as I go, I will get discouraged and may never finish what I’ve started.  Now that I’ve gotten my four rules down, I feel more confident about my writing and have been doing an initial edit after each section I write so I won’t have to do a big overhaul at the end. 

So what are my four rules of writing ~ No. 1, Keep your POV (Point of View) straight and don’t head hop.  No. 2, Write in the active and not the passive voice.  No. 3, Make your dialogue action-packed and not stale.  No. 4, Watch for repeated words in your paragraphs, like too many sentences starting with “she” or “he” or other words.

Find a Critique Group or Accountability Partner

You need to join a writers group or have some sort of critique group that you can belong to.  You must have support as you learn the writing craft and go on your journey toward publication.  I am currently a member of the Christian Writers online group and I also have an accountability partner, who is my husband.  He helps me by always encouraging me and making sure that I am working on my WIPs and completing them and continuing on in my writing career. 

Create an Online Presence

Even unpublished writers need a website.  You may not have a lot of content to fill up ten pages, but that doesn’t matter; you need to start somewhere.  There must be a place online where potential readers and publishers and book reviewers can go to find you and your future work.  Once you sign a publishing contract that is not the time to create a website.  You need to create one before then and you will always be evolving and changing as an author and so will your website.  I am currently using www.weebly.com and it’s very user friendly and it’s free

You need to also utilize Facebook and Twitter and other social networking sites.  I would hold off on starting a Facebook Fan Page until you have your first book published (you can have unlimited followers there).  In the meantime, I would begin with a regular Facebook profile (I think the limit is 5,000 friends).  Also work on your Twitter profile.  If you have questions on utilizing social networking as a marketing tool, feel free to contact me and I’ll give you more tips.

Keep on Reading and Learning

Good writers are avid readers.  I have always enjoyed reading and I still do today.  The problem is ~ finding a balance between writing and reading.  Once I get in a good writing groove, I sometimes put reading on the backburner.  However, that is okay since if you’re inspired in your writing, you should go for it.  I just need to remember to take a break sometimes and get back into reading as well.  Always be open to constructive criticism from editors, publishers and book reviewers.  Take the good with the bad and don’t let it stop you from achieving your dreams.

Follow other Published Authors

I’m a published author and I still follow other published authors.  By follow I mean on social networking sites as well as their blogs.  Other authors can be a great resource to you.  As you watch what others in your field are doing, you can emulate some of their tactics, process what is good for your goals and what isn’t and then stimulate your own ideas as a catalyst from that interaction. 

Research your Publishing Options

At some point, you are going to need to decide how you want to get published.  Will you self-publish through a subsidy publisher and pay your own way?  Will you self-publish on your own?  Will you try to get published through a small press or mid-level publisher?  Are you shooting for the stars and will you try to get in with a larger, traditional publisher? 

Many smaller presses accept unsolicited manuscripts and you don’t need an agent to get you in the door.  Check the Writer’s Market; it is a great resource towards finding a publisher.  I remember the days of paying for postage and the SASE (self-addressed stamped envelope) and snail mailing manuscripts or chapters 1-3 plus a summary out to various publishers.  I’m glad those days are over and you can submit online now (of course there are still some exceptions).  If you want more details on this, just email me.

If you chose an agent, you will need to obviously pay this person.  Some of them get paid only if they get you a publishing contract and others want money upfront.  I signed with an agent once, but I was stuck for six months and could not simultaneous submit my manuscript to publishers while their agency had it; and they never got my manuscript sold anyway.  I like to work on my own, so I don’t have an agent right now.  Once I make the bestseller list, I’m sure I’ll get an agent for promotion, then.  Lol!!     

Never Ever Give Up

If becoming a published author is truly your dream, then don’t ever let anything pull you down.  I received many rejection letters before I signed my first contract.  If you want to become a published author, it will take hard work and discipline, but also determination.  Keep the hope alive!

The most important task for a writer is to keep writing books. Sounds simple but most often is not so cut and dry. Life gets in the way—you have to continually work on marketing your previous books and branding your name, among other daily tasks. How do you keep the creative juices flowing? Write every day. 

“It is by sitting down to write every morning that one becomes a writer. Those who do not do this remain amateur.” (Gerald Brenan)

“I write when I’m inspired and I see to it that I’m inspired at 9 o’clock every morning.” (Peter DeVries)

Now, for the record, I slack off many days and don’t always keep up with my newest WIP. As I mentioned, daily tasks, the day job, family and other things continually vie for my attention. It takes discipline to flex the writing muscle each day so let’s talk about some ways to make that happen.

  1. Set goals. There are three types of goals—immediate, short-term and long-term. Once you figure out exactly where you want to be, the journey towards getting there becomes a little bit easier.
  2. Make a decision. Decide to write each day—even if you only write in your journal, you need to flex your writing muscle every day. It’s how you grow as a writer and you don’t allow your skills to get stale.
  3. Be Flexible & prepared. Obviously, there will be days that you don’t accomplish each writing goal that you set out to finish. Be open to stretching those writing muscles so you don’t pull a muscle by too much rigidity in your mindset—not allowing for failure. Forgive yourself when you don’t reach your goals, but then get your but back in gear for a new start the next day.
  4. Deflect distractions. True, we won’t be able to rid ourselves of all distractions—unless of course, we decide to get stranded on a deserted island and write all day long…and even then, I think we’d find a way to distract ourselves! Set a specific time during the day where you can write and not be interrupted. If you write better in the morning, pick that time or in the evening etc., whatever works well for you.
  5. Welcome accountability. This is the one factor that we may not like—however, it will most likely help us the most in our quest to finish the next great novel. Find an accountability partner. Maybe it will be your spouse or best friend or fellow writing buddy. Whoever it is, you need to find someone that you trust to be patient with you, but also give you that push you may need to get back on track.
  6. Re-evaluate the plan. Don’t be afraid to reassess the situation—think of it as a necessary evil. Not many people like to get tested on performance, but if you truly want to succeed, you need to always be open to evaluating your progress. This process is hard for me, but I’ve learned to take a step back and assess the situation.
  7. Regroup & continue. Once you’ve assessed the situation and realized what’s working and what isn’t, take a breather and then get back to work. Just as with exercise, when you stop for a while, it’s more difficult to get into the routine again—but once you get back on track, you feel rejuvenating and energized with your progress. If you’re flexible and ready to work hard, you’ll figure out your own rhythm and what works best for you.
Currently, I’m enjoying the release of my newest book, Bella Lucia, and I’m busy making the rounds in my blog tour; however, I need to remember to take my own advice and continue to flex the writing muscle each day. I’d love to hear your thoughts and what steps you’ve found helpful in your own writing career.

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