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Meet Jennifer Lamont Leo Author of The Violinist in The Highlander’s Collection

Posted by on Oct 29, 2019 in Blog, Books, History, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Meet Jennifer Lamont Leo Author of The Violinist in The Highlander’s Collection

Jennifer Lamont Leo is one of the authors of The Highlanders: A Smitten Historical Romance Collection. Her story, The Violinist, the last story in the collection.

Please tell us something about yourself and how long you’ve been writing.

I’ve always loved reading and writing, but I didn’t start writing fiction in earnest until we moved to Idaho about thirteen years ago. My first novel started out as Nanowrimo project (National Novel Writing Month), where participants are challenged to write a 50K word novel in a month. By the time the story was published it was almost unrecognizable from that early attempt, but I still recommend Nanowrimo to new writers as a way to light a fire under an idea and get the words flowing.

Is The Violinist your first novella? Did you find writing it more or less challenging than writing a novel?

It’s my second novella. I found it as challenging to write as a novel, but in a different way. In a novel, the action has to be sustained over a longer span, but there’s room to explore different characters and ideas. A novella, being shorter, needs to be more concise and focused, which presents its own set of challenges.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I’m very much a plotter. While some things may change as I go along, I need to start out with a pretty detailed road map. (Which is the way I drive, too, so at least I’m consistent.)

Was there anything that surprised you about writing this story?

As a child I was given violin lessons and played in the school orchestra, but I didn’t love it. So I was surprised that the violin played such a central role in the story.

Did you determine the storyline first or the era?

I knew I wanted to set it against the backdrop of the early 20th century, my favorite time period to write about. It was an era of great change and drama in the U.S. and elsewhere, with two world wars, the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, and all sorts of social upheaval. But for the novella, of course, I had to narrow it down. When I chose to bring my Highlander to Idaho as a logger, I set the story in 1915 since that was the heyday of logging here in the Northwest and fit with other events I wanted to include.

Please tell us what the story is about.

In 1915, Scotsman Callan MacTavish is working as a logger in northern Idaho. Beneath his rough plaid flannel shirt beats a homesick heart –a heart soothed only by the sweet violin of the local music teacher, Rose Marchmont. In order to spend time with Rose under the watchful eye of her disapproving family, Callan signs up for music lessons, with a surprising outcome that will tug at readers’ heartstrings.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

People are not always what they seem at first glance. We shouldn’t be too quick to judge based on outward appearances.  Everyone has a story.

What are your social media sites?

Website: http://jenniferlamontleo.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/JenniferLamontLeo/
Twitter: JennLamontLeo
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/jennyleo/


Author Bio:

Jennifer Lamont Leo captures readers’ hearts through stories set in times gone by. She’s the author of You’re the Cream in My Coffee (winner of an ACFW Carol Award) and Ain’t Misbehavin’, both set in Roaring Twenties Chicago. In addition to historical fiction, she writes magazine articles on history-related topics and hosts two podcasts, “A Sparkling Vintage Life” and “North Idaho Nuggets.” She is also a copywriter, editor, and playwright. The Chicago-area native now writes from her mountain home in northern Idaho, which she shares with her husband, cat, and abundant wildlife.

 

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Meet Naomi Musch Author of A Tender Siege in The Highlander’s Collection

Posted by on Oct 22, 2019 in Blog, Books, History | Comments Off on Meet Naomi Musch Author of A Tender Siege in The Highlander’s Collection

Naomi Musch is one of the authors of The Highlanders: A Smitten Historical Romance Collection. A Tender Siege is the second story in the collection.

Please tell us something about yourself and how long you’ve been writing.

How long? Hm…I don’t remember when I didn’t write stories. I’ve been writing since elementary school, and all my adult life, in various venues.

Is A Tender Siege your first novella? Did you find writing it more or less challenging than writing a novel?

I have written several novellas, though not all are published yet. My first published novella was Heart Not Taken, published in 2010. I wrote the story of a high school English teacher struggling with his faith and a beautiful landscaper who renovates his heart and spirit along with his cabin property as an exercise to challenge myself in shorter form, because yes, I find writing novellas to be a very unique challenge. A novel gives the writer a lot of room to develop character arc and numerous tangled story threads. In a novella, it’s challenging to show an entire character arc and to limit the use of multiple story threads. I’ve simply been at the novel-length form longer. That said, I feel pretty confident that the story and character arcs in my new novella A Tender Siege are successfully woven.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I definitely use a plot, especially when I’m plunging into that first draft. That doesn’t mean I can’t veer from it if I experience a voila moment. I often do. Occasionally I swing substantially wide of the outline. If I begin to feel like I’m floundering or can’t quite get my character to tell me what to do next, then I return to the plot—the drawing board, as it were.

Was there anything that surprised you about writing this story?

I’m most often surprised by secondary characters. They have a tendency to walk onto the screen and get involved in ways I haven’t plotted or expected. Maybe it’s because I haven’t spent as much time thinking about them (though I usually do after the fact). Maybe it’s because they help me to see my main characters better, through the eyes of someone important to them. I had at least one such surprise in A Tender Siege.

Did you determine the storyline first or the era?

I determined the era first in this particular story. I knew I wanted to write about Pontiac’s War, and I knew that there were highlanders involved (quite a bit during the French and Indian wars, in fact). I had to figure out which battle would best work for a character, and then I had to figure out the back story of that character—who turned out to be Lachlan McRea, of his Majesty’s 42nd Highlanders. Lachlan is a widower. His backstory plays into his reason for being there as well as his reasons for behaving as he does.

Please tell us what the story is about.

It’s August of 1763. Wounded in battle at Bushy Run in the American wilderness, Lachlan McRea of His Majesty’s 42nd Highlanders pleads with God, yearning to be reunited with his lost wife and child. As death hovers near, he is discovered by Wenonah, a native widow doing all she can to survive alone while avoiding the attentions of a dangerous Shawnee warrior. In aiding one another, their perils increase. If Lachlan can let go of the woman he once loved, he might find healing for both body and soul.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

A Tender Siege is certainly a story of second chances. Lachlan’s deliverance demonstrates how God comforts wounded hearts and even wipes away tears in ways and places we seldom expect.

What are your social media sights?

Let’s get better acquainted! My website is easy: NaomiMusch.com Please sign up for my monthly newsletter Northwoods Faith & Fiction for non-spammy news and updates and follow on the social media platform where you most like to hang out: Bookbub, Goodreads, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

Author Bio:

Naomi is an award-winning author who crafts her stories from the pristine, Lake Superior northwoods, where she and her husband Jeff live as epically as God allows near the families of their five adult children. Naomi is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the Lake Superior Writers. Though she has written in a variety of venues on topics ranging from homeschooling to homesteading, her great love is historical fiction. She enjoys roaming around on the farm, snacking out of the garden, relaxing in her vintage camper, and loving on her passel of grandchildren. Naomi would love to meet with and speak to your group. She would also enjoy connecting around the web.

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Meet J’nell Ciesielski – Author of Night Fox in The Highlander’s Collection

Posted by on Oct 15, 2019 in Blog, Books, History, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Meet J’nell Ciesielski – Author of Night Fox in The Highlander’s Collection

Over the next few weeks, I’m featuring one of the authors of  The Highlanders: A Smitten Historical Romance Collection. This week, I’m pleased to introduce J’nell Ciesielski, author of Night Fox, the first story in the collection.

J’nell, please tell us something about yourself and how long you’ve been writing.

Like most writers, I can tell you that I’ve loved reading for a very long time, but it wasn’t until I was a junior in college when I started to write my first real novel. It took a few years to actually finish and it wasn’t very good, as most first novels aren’t. Then I started my next and then my next. It wasn’t until six years ago when I got my agent and then two years ago when I landed my first contract. It’s been a long journey and one I’m excited to see where it’ll go next!

Is Night Fox your first novella? Did you find writing it more or less challenging than writing a novel?

Night Fox is my second written novella, but the first one I’ve had published. It was both challenging and easier than a full-length novel. More challenging because you have to cram an entire story into a very short amount of words, and easier because you can strip away all the extraneous lines and focus on the central story. And for a romance writer, that means more love.

Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?

I’m a planner in life and on the page. That being said, while I do have a plot it’s not necessarily written line for line without room for budging. I have certain plot points I want to hit, but I don’t always know exactly how I’ll get to them until I’m actually writing the scene. This can often lead to fun little surprises that I never considered before but can make the story more wonderful.

Was there anything that surprised you about writing this story?

How much fun it can be to write a female vigilante. I’ve never written one before and most stories have the men cloaked in black and holding roadside stick ups. No one expects a woman to be terrorizing the town!

Did you determine the story-line first or the era?

I’m most comfortable writing in the Jacobite Era of Scotland, specifically around the 1745 rebellion. For Night Fox I wanted to touch on something a little different and so chose the lesser-known 1715 rebellion. Once I had that, I settled on a fun take of Robin Hood by giving it a different spin with the woman as the thief.

Please tell us what the story is about.

After the failed Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, war-weary Deven McLendon returns home to discover a thief creating chaos on his lands. But this thief isn’t like any other. When Rooney Corsen sets out to steal jewels to repay her family’s debts and keep a roof over her little sisters’ heads, never does she imagine snagging the laird’s heart instead.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 

Sometimes people do the wrong things for the right reasons. Try not to judge them too harshly.

What are your social media sights?

http://www.jnellciesielski.com/

https://www.facebook.com/jnellciesielski

https://twitter.com/JnellCiesielski
https://www.goodreads.com/jnellciesielski

https://www.pinterest.com/jnellciesielski/

 

Author Bio:

Believing she was born in the wrong era, J’nell Ciesielski spends her days writing heart-stopping heroes, brave heroines, and adventurous exploits in times gone by. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages contest and Maggie Award, J’nell can often be found dreaming of a second home in Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Born a Florida girl, she now calls Virginia home, along with her very understanding husband, young daughter, and one lazy beagle.

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Celebrating the one year anniversary of the release of A Heart For Freedom with a giveaway

Posted by on Oct 2, 2019 in Blog, Books | Comments Off on Celebrating the one year anniversary of the release of A Heart For Freedom with a giveaway

It’s been a year since A Heart For Freedom released and I’m celebrating by offering a chance for one person to win either a print or Kindle copy of the book. Become a subscriber (on the sidebar) to my website for a chance to win A Heart For Freedom, winner of the Christian Indie Award.

The winner to be selected from all new subscribers to my website Oct. 2 – Oct. 9, 2019. Eligibility for a print copy – must be in one of the lower 48 states.

He longs for freedom, but he won’t risk those he loves.

Matthew Stewart wants only to farm, manage his inn, and protect his family. But tension between the Loyalists and Patriots is mounting. When he’s asked to help the Patriots and assured his family will be safe, he agrees.

She’s seen the cost of fighting England, and she wants no part of it.

In Scotland, Heather Stewart witnessed the devastation and political consequences of opposing England. She wants only to avoid war and protect the family and peace she finally found in Virginia. But the war drums can be heard even from home in the countryside, and she has no power to stop the approaching danger.

The consequences are deadly.

When Matthew leaves for a short journey and doesn’t return, Heather faces the biggest trial of her life. Will she give up hope of seeing him again? Will he survive the trials and make his way home? What will be the consequences of his heart for freedom?

A Heart For Freedom is the second book in this Revolutionary War Saga.

It follows A Heart Set Free. Watch for further updates.

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Never Underestimate the Heart of a Highlander

Posted by on Sep 14, 2019 in Blog, Books, History | 2 comments

I’m excited to announce that The Highlanders is now up for ebook preorder.

I was delighted when Pegg Thomas, Publisher for Smitten Historical Romance, an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas asked me to be part of this novella collection. None of us knew what the other authors were writing about or in what era it took place so it’s been such fun reading the other’s stories. 

Here’s a preview of what our Highlander tales are about.

Night Fox             By J’nell Ciesielski

After the failed Jacobite Rebellion of 1715, war-weary Deven McLendon returns home to discover a thief creating chaos on his lands. But this thief isn’t like any other. When Rooney Corsen sets out to steal jewels to repay her family’s debts and keep a roof over her little sisters’ heads, never does she imagine snagging the laird’s heart instead.

A Tender Siege        By Naomi Musch

Pontiac’s War, August 1763: “I beg Ye to take me.” Wounded in battle in the American wilderness, Lachlan McRea of His Majesty’s 42nd Highlanders pleads with God, yearning to be reunited with his lost wife and child. As death hovers near, he is discovered by Wenonah, a native widow doing all she can to survive alone while avoiding the attentions of a dangerous Shawnee warrior. In aiding one another, their perils increase. If Lachlan can let go of the woman he once loved, he might find healing for both body and soul.

The Year without Summer            By Janet Grunst

Shoved off his family’s land in Scotland in 1816, Grant Cummings looks for work in Ulster, Ireland. He needs money and a home to raise his young brother. Molly MacGregor loses her father and his income, but she has no time to grieve as she sews and spins to earn enough to keep her and her young brother alive. Renting out the hut on their land might be the answer, but only if she can overcome her prejudice against the handsome Highlander who moves in. Her heart might soften toward him, but not when he plans to set sail for America.

The Violinist           By Jennifer Lamont Leo

In 1915 Idaho, homesick lumberjack Callan MacTavish despairs of ever seeing his Scottish homeland again. With kindness and patience, music teacher Rose Marchmont reaches a part of Callan’s heart he’d long ago locked away. She sees beyond his rough exterior to the artistic heart beneath. He longs for more than he can offer her, but she doesn’t know about the secret trauma that keeps him from crossing the sea.

Choosing a cover can be very challenging. So many options displayed more of our Highlander than seemed appropriate for our stories. So we were thrilled when one of our authors, Naomi Musch, suggested her son might fill the bill.  That’s the story behind our handsome cover model.

If you enjoy reading novellas please tell us why.

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TRANSITIONS

Posted by on Jun 30, 2019 in Blog, Devotions, Journal, Uncategorized | 6 comments

A recent “significant” birthday has made me feel a lot older than I did last week. I decided not to dwell on the fact that I can’t do, and shouldn’t do, some of the things I did even a year ago. I’m thankful for reasonably good health, the ability to do the activities I enjoy, even if at a slower pace. I learned a long time ago, my attitude determines how I navigate through life’s transitions.

Webster’s defines Transition as “a passage a movement, development, or evolution from one form, stage, or style to another.”

Many friends are going through their own transitions, whether it involves downsizing, moving, an illness, job change, or the death of a loved one. Some of us embrace changes and view them as new adventures, while others find unexpected developments in their lives difficult. But transitions are inevitable.

“Change is always in your favor when you’re walking with the Lord.”

Words from a wise friend

The Bible is filled with stories of how God’s people journeyed through transitions, and it resulted in transformation.

God told Abraham in Gen 12:1-3 to “Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you”

God didn’t reveal where Abraham was to go, just to trust Him for the outcome. Over time, and not without some poor personal choices, Abraham listened, obeyed, and learned to trust God.

In Deuteronomy 31:7,8 we read, “Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the Lord swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Job, was full of transitions, mostly losses, but it was a picture of Job’s faithfulness despite his struggles.

Ruth’s left the land and idolatry of Moab to travel to Naomi’s homeland and embrace Naomi’s faith in the one true God.

Daniel’s and Esther’s stories are dramatic transition and transformation stories where they journey from places of insignificance to positions of great power.   

in Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8 Solomon tells us:

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:                  

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing                                a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”    

Our Heavenly Father offers courage and direction for all situations. Carol Stratton, the author of Changing Zip Codes, says “When we do our part and take the first step, He will watch our back and take away our fear. We need to take the first step.”

“The task ahead of us is never as great as the Power behind us.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

We can trust God to guide us for every transition we face.

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;

I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”

Psalm 32:8

And in His equipping us experience transformation.

“I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

Philippians 4:13

What season of life are you in? Are you enjoying the fruits of your labor, or dealing with discouragement, decisions, disease, or depression? Perhaps you are enjoying reflection, renewal, and rest.

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