Shannon McNear’s debut novel The Cumberland Bride was released the same day my second story, A Heart For Freedom.
I met Shannon several years ago at an American Christian Fiction Writer’s (ACFW) Conference and couldn’t be more delighted for her.
The Cumberland Bride is compelling read about a family’s journey through the Cumberland Gap in the closing years of the 18th century. I found myself following their journey on a map. It is filled with engaging and courageous characters, action, adventure, romance, and struggle. Ms. McNeer has done her research and has given us a well-written debut novel. I’m looking forward to her next story.
2014 RITA® nominee with Defending Truth from A Pioneer Christmas Collection The Counterfeit Tory (Backcountry Brides Collection), May 2018 & The Cumberland Bride (Daughters of the Mayflower series), October 2018
Represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency shannonmcnear.com
Stop by 2Me From Him with Norma Gail for my interview about writing A Heart Set Free. Make a comment and there’s a chance to win a free book.
It has been fun getting to know Norma Gail. She is also a Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas author who has a heart for all things Scottish.
In her book, Land of My Dreams, Norma takes us on a journey through the high desert of New Mexico and the lush hills of Scotland.
Bonnie has traveled from New Mexico to Scotland to teach at a Christian school and to heal from the death of her parents and a fiancé who deserted her. There she meets fellow teacher and sheep farmer Kieran who is still suffering from the death of his wife and baby. As a result of their human losses, they have also both lost faith in God. This is a tale of their growing relationship, with its pitfalls and misunderstandings, and addresses the theme of being equally yoked. They each must address their journey with God, which has its own challenges. Land of My Dreams will keep your attention to the very end.
Elaine Marie Cooper’s second book in the Deer Run Saga will be released June 16, 2016
Promise of Deer Run is a tender historical romance that stands on its own, but also brings us back to the characters we loved in Road To Deer Run.
The year is 1790. The American Revolution is long since over, yet the battles still live in the hearts of the survivors.
One young veteran is haunted by the painful memories of war. He still awaits a father who has never returned from battle and feels the sting of betrayal from a former love. He withdraws into his own world, clinging to one hope: Perhaps his father still lives.
Only one person in Deer Run seems to understand him: Nineteen-year-old Sarah Thomsen, who feels a kinship with the loner veteran. She senses the wounds in his spirit as much as she struggles to bury her own traumatic memories of war. And the veteran’s search for his father touches a chord of empathy in Sarah, as she feels the loss of a father she never knew.
While the couple begins to find hope in a mutual affection, others determine to destroy it. Slander and misunderstandings ignite a fire of doubt and mistrust, destroying whatever faith they had in each other.
Can two souls longing for healing and trust love again? Can faith—and a family—be restored?
Come back tomorrow and find out about a childhood experience that left an indelible memory for Elaine and was a motivation behind Promise of Deer Run.
Award winning author Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of Fields of the Fatherless,Bethany’s Calendar and the historical trilogy called the Deer Run Saga. Her passions are her family, her faith in Christ, and the history of the American Revolution. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her historical novels.
Her upcoming releases include Saratoga Letters (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, October 2016) and Legacy of Deer Run (CrossRiver Media, Dec, 2016)
Cooper has been writing since she penned her first short story at age eleven. She began researching for her first novel in 2007. Her writing has also appeared in Fighting Fear, Winning the War at Home by Edie Melson and the romance anthology, I Choose You. She has also written articles for Prayer Connect Magazine, Splickety Prime Magazine, Better Homes & Gardens, and Life: Beautiful Magazine. She began her professional writing career as a newspaper freelancer.
I’m the daughter of Mennonite farmers. I grew up in an Amish and Mennonite community outside Kokomo, Indiana, and graduated from IndianaUniversity
more years ago than I’m going to admit to. I’m married to a truck-driving retired pastor and have 3 grown daughters and several grandchildren I’m not able to spend nearly enough time with. I also enjoy gardening, scrapbooking and other crafts, antiquing, traveling, and reading.
After serving as an editor with Abingdon Press for many years, in 2006 I founded Sheaf House Publishers, a small specialty press that publishes mainly fiction. I’ve authored 7 books, including book 5 of my American Patriot Series, Valley of the Shadow, which releases September 1. This series is the only comprehensive and accurate fiction series on the American Revolution. My other historical fiction series is the Northkill Amish Series, coauthored with Bob Hostetler. Book 1, Northkill, released in March 2014, and Book 2, The Return, is scheduled to release in October 2016. My standalone contemporary novel, One Holy Night, is set during the Vietnam War.
Northkill was awarded ForeWord Review’s 2014 INDIEFAB bronze award for historical fiction. One Holy Night, which released in a new edition in 2013, won the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year Award and was a finalist for the American Christian Fiction Writers 2009 Carol Award.
What sparked your interest in writing?
A dream, strangely enough. It was so vivid and compelling that when I woke up I knew I had to write the story to find out who these people were and why they were doing what they were doing. It turned into an epic medieval tragedy, which one of these days I will finish and publish!
What can you share about your journey to getting published?
It was a looong journey! I began writing in the late 1970s—after the dream. After years of working hard to learn the craft, a whole lot of research, and a number of close misses, I got my first contract for Daughter of Liberty and Native Son, the first two books of my American Patriot Series, which were published by Zondervan in 2004 and 2005. I ended up parting ways with Zondervan, and after I founded my own small press, I brought out the first edition of Book 3, Wind of the Spirit in 2009. Beginning in 2012 I published revised editions of all 3 volumes in the Heritage Edition and added Book 4, Crucible of War. Valley of the Shadow is the latest installment, and I’m planning 2 more volumes, which will carry my characters through to the end of the war: Refiner’s Fire and Forge of Freedom.
Do you have a writing schedule and special place where do you write?
I generally write in the mornings when my brain is fresher and I have fewer distractions. Then in the afternoons I try to focus on Sheaf House business and also promote my books. It doesn’t always work out perfectly, though, and I’m sure you relate to that! Life happens and things get messy. I’ve learned to stay very flexible.
I am blessed to have a dedicated home office. I know not all writers have a separate space available for their work. Although my office is small, I’m very grateful to have it. Without it I’d go crazy, especially when I’m researching and have resources spread over every surface, including the floor!
What words of advice would you give to beginning writers?
Read deeply the kind of books you love to read. Read the way you eat—to live. Then write what you love to read. Write about subjects and themes you’re passionate about. Don’t make getting published your main goal. Instead, learn to write with excellence, and then write the very best stories you can write. The rest will take care of itself.
Your latest book, VALLEY OF THE SHADOW, Book 5 in The American Patriot Series, takes place during the American Revolution. Please tell us a little more about the story.
In Valley of the Shadow, Elizabeth Howard is a prisoner aboard a British prison ship in New YorkHarbor, surrounded by the warships of the Royal Navy. British General William Howe has summoned Brigadier General Jonathan Carleton to surrender to him or she will be executed. Carleton knows, however, that Howe will never release her, but plans to execute them both as soon as Carleton surrenders. His dilemma is how to find and rescue her within an excruciatingly narrow timeframe when all the odds are stacked against him. From heart-pounding battles on the high seas, to the rigors of Valley Forge and the Shawnee’s savagely fought wars to preserve their ancestral lands, Valley of the Shadow continues the thrilling saga of America’s founding in an inspiring story of despair, courage, and triumph.
God often teaches us something through our writing. Is there a spiritual themeVALLEY OF THE SHADOW?
Each of the volumes in the series has its own theme, and the series itself also has an overarching theme. The theme addressed in Valley of the Shadow is learning to trust God in all circumstances and that literally nothing is impossible for the Creator of the universe. The theme of the series is the life journey to find one’s true home in God’s kingdom. While enduring the anguish of war and separation, Elizabeth and Jonathan discover that, even more than the grand ideal of liberty and the deep intimacy of earthly love, their hearts seek the eternal city of God, where they will no longer be aliens and strangers, and that true peace and lasting freedom are found in God alone.
Can you tell us anything about the next book in the series or a current work in process?
Currently I’m working on The Return, book 2 of the Northkill Amish Series, which I’m writing with my fifth cousin, multi-published author Bob Hostetler. This series is a fictional treatment of the well-known story of our Hochstetler ancestors who emigrated to this country in 1738 seeking religious freedom. They were drawn into the French and Indian War when Indians attacked their homestead in 1757. Three members of the family were killed and 3 were carried away into captivity, returning years later. Readers can find more information at www.northkill.com. The Return publishes in fall 2016, and as soon as it’s off my desk, I’ll get back to the last two books of the American Patriot Series.
Thank you so much, Joan, for being my guest. I know folks will enjoy your stories.
Thank you so much for having me, Janet! It’s been a pleasure to visit with you and your audience.
To enter the giveaway for a free copy of VALLEY OF THE SHADOW, please leave a comment along with your email address. The winner will be notified. Giveaway ends September 4th, 2015.
Author and friend Elaine Cooper has written some wonderful historical novels that take place during the Revolutionary War. After reading Field of the Fatherless, a gut-wrenching story about a battle that takes place on the same day of the battles of Lexington and Concord, I commented to Elaine that it must have been a very stressful story to write. That is when she told me that she was in the early stages of writing Bethany’s Calendar, the story of her family’s journey through her daughter’s symptoms, diagnosis, and later death from brain cancer.
I was profoundly moved by Elaine’s courage, faith, and
stamina to take on such a project, and told her I would be praying for her throughout this work so close to her heart.
Welcome Elaine. I believe that Bethany’s Calendar is your first non-fiction book. Please tell us a little about Bethany and what motivated you to write her story?
Thanks for having me, Janet. Yes, Bethany’s Calendar is my first non-fiction book and it definitely was the most difficult to write. I call it “the book I never wanted to write,” yet I felt the Lord clearly prompted me to put fingers to the computer and tell my daughter’s story. Once I asked friends to pray for me and I began the book, the words just flowed.
Bethany was an amazing young woman, so bright and full of life. She had so many plans and aspirations to do great things in the world—yet her life was cut short by the unforgiving disease of brain cancer. It wrought so many changes in her emotionally and physically. Yet the cancer could not destroy her faith in Christ. Her life and death reminds me of the verses in Romans 8:38-39. “For I am
convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nordemons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” NIV
Bethany’s Calendar is so personal because it deals with your daughter’s illness and death. How did your family react when you told them you wanted to write a book about it, and did they contribute to it in some way?
I first told my husband because I needed to know that it was OK with him. I also asked permission from my two sons to include them in the story. They were both very supportive and gave me the green light. Occasionally I’d ask for input from my husband and he would help with recollections.
Eventually I revealed my plans to others and really didn’t get much input from them because, for the most part, they were not here. Most of my family lives a distance away so they weren’t privy to the day-to-day events. But most were very supportive of me writing this memoir.
Writing this book made you re-live such a difficult time in your life. How did you prepare for this task, Elaine and face it day after day?
I always begin my day with prayer and definitely included prayers for strength, wisdom and discernment when writing Bethany’s Calendar. Since it’s a memoir involving real people, I had to be very careful how I worded things and had to keep the identity of some individuals private. When it’s a memoir, you have to be aware of possible litigation.
Mostly, I wanted to please my Lord with each and every word that I wrote and keep Bethany’s memory untarnished.
Did you find writing Bethany’s Calendar brought additional healing for you and others?
I can’t speak for others but for me, having Bethany’s story told keeps her legacy of faith and courage alive. It is a joy to have been able to reveal to the world just a small glimpse of the inspiring, fun and unforgettable young woman who we knew and loved. And to write tips that might help others on a similar journey with a loved one, adds extra meaning to her life. To turn our pain into a means of hope and help for others is a comfort. And I think she would be pleased.
One might think a book on such a painful experience would be overwhelmingly sad, but Bethany’s Calendar, while bittersweet, is incredibly uplifting as well as instructional. Please tell us how you framed the book to be such a helpful resource.
It must have been the Lord prompting me to peruse her diaries and pull out excerpts from her own writing. I found it amazing that nearly every excerpt I selected became the perfect introduction to each chapter’s topic.
The “Notes to Self” and “Notes to Others” that finish each chapter just seemed the perfect reflection on what I’ve learned in the ten years since everything happened. Sometimes the tincture of time clarifies and sorts through the darkness to find light. I pray these tips will minister to many.
I remember thinking as I finished reading Bethany’s Calendar, that in its publication, some of Bethany’s hopes are being fulfilled.
Yes. She is now a published author with her diary journals. That gives me great joy.
Thank you, Elaine. Where can people find your books?
Right now, Bethany’s Calendar is available at Amazon and select bookstores.
Elaine Marie Cooper has released her first non-fiction book, Bethany’s Calendar. It is a personal memoir of her daughter who died of a brain tumor and how the Lord was their strength during the darkest journey of their lives.
As a novelist, Elaine Marie Cooper has written Fields of the Fatherless and the Deer Run Saga. Her passions are her family, her faith in Christ and the history of the American Revolution, a frequent subject of her historical fiction. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her novels. Visit her website at: http://www.elainemariecooper.com
In January of 2002, Elaine’s world flipped upside down. What started out as a beautiful New Year for the mom of three, turned into a living nightmare when her 23-year-old daughter, Bethany was diagnosed with a terminal brain tumor.
In the months to come, Elaine not only used her nurse’s training, she learned to recognize the hand of God on her daughter’s life. Bethany’s Calendar tells the story of Elaine and Bethany’s journey and the many ways God helped their family to survive. It is a story of fear and faith, commitment and compassion, told with gut-wrenching honesty while sharing unwavering faith in God.
It is a joy and privilege to have an opportunity to interview Elaine Marie Cooper, a special friend and fellow writer. Her latest book, Fields of The Fatherless is a heart-wrenching story with characters that will touch your heart. It is also a tale of faith and forgiveness.
Please tell us something about yourself, Elaine.
Thank you so much for having me as your guest! It is my privilege to be here.
First and foremost, I am a Christian, wife, mom and GiGi to triplets who are almost four. I’ve been writing since I was very young but started my first novel in 2007. I never thought that I would be a writer of historical fiction but you never know what might happen with your life when the Lord places a love for both writing AND history in your heart! I am especially excited about my latest release, Fields of the Fatherless, as it is based on a true but little-known story that occurred in my hometown.
I’m going to start with some questions writers in particular may be interested in.
What sparked your interest in writing?
I’m not certain what sparked it but I know my father encouraged it. He seemed to understand my attraction to forming words into stories and I’m forever grateful to him. I know I loved poetry and music and often penned lyrics to songs. It was my series of humorous poems about the crazy life of motherhood that first attracted the eye of a newspaper editor who offered me a chance to freelance. That started the writing ball rolling for me. J
What genre do you like to write?
My favorite genre is historical fiction. Since I was a young girl in Massachusetts, I’d visit the historical sites where the American Revolution started and soak in all the information I could. Now that I live in the Midwest, on-site research for that era is a little more difficult but I make trips back to New England as often as I can. In between, I have my nose in books and online gathering as many facts as I can. I love the research. I’m such a history geek. J
Tell us about your journey to getting published. Did you get an agent before submitting to a publisher?
I’ve been on an atypical journey with my writing. When I started my first book, I knew nothing about the publishing industry; I just knew I felt called to write. When my first book was written in 2009, I began seeking out advice and heard the gloomy news that publishers were in a serious situation and few new writers were being picked up. Undaunted, I opted to self publish my first book. This was considered by most in traditional publishing to be the death-knell for an author. However, my first book has done modestly well and turned into a three-part saga. The third book in the saga was picked up by a small Christian publisher and they will pick up the first two books in the series this year.
My newest release was contracted after attending Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer’s Conference and I had an appointment with the acquisitions editor at Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Before the year was out, I received a contract for Fields of the Fatherless. I have yet to find an agent, although I have not been actively looking.
What is your writing schedule and where do you write?
I’m not sure that I have a writing schedule per se but between my part time jobs, blogging and manuscript writing, I feel like I’m writing non-stop. All of my computer work is done in my home office and it’s nice to have it separate from the rest of my house. That way, when my fingers are telling me it’s time to pause for awhile, I can walk out and take a break.
What is your process? (Spreadsheets, Outlines, Seat of the pants?)
If I had to define my style for writing, I’d say “seat of the pants.” But I am surrounded at my desk by books, notebooks and an occasional outline to keep me on track. Once the muse gets started, however, the books are temporarily set aside while the spirit moves.
What words of advice would you give to beginning writers?
Go to a writer’s conference and connect with writers and editors. Attend classes there. Listen and learn. Be a sponge and soak in every bit of knowledge to help improve your writing. And pray for the Lord to open the doors where HE wants you to write.
Ok, now the story:
Your latest book, Fields of The Fatherless, focused on actual events. Please tell us a little more about the story.
This story occurred at the very start of the American Revolution in my hometown of Arlington, Massachusetts. At the time, it was called MenotomyVillage. All the real events in my novel occurred the same day as the more-famous battles of Lexington and Concord, yet the battle of Menotomy saw more loss of life than any other town that day. It was the battle that occurred after Lexington and Concord, as the British troops were retreating back to Boston. By the time they had reached Menotomy on that retreat, the British were angry and out-of-control—and armed with plenty of guns and bayonets.
The story, written in fictional form, is told through the point of view of the 18-year-old woman who survived the battle. Betsy Russell was a real person who was very much a part of our history, yet has, for the most part, been unknown. I wanted to tell her story and the sacrifice that her family made that helped birth this nation
When I read Fields of The Fatherless, I was struck by its intensity and how emotionally draining it must have been for you. What inspired you to write this particular book?
I used to walk by Betsy Russell’s house when I was a little girl. (It is now known as the Jason Russell House and is a historical landmark.) When we were kids, my older brother tried to scare me by saying there was “blood on the floor” in there but I was quite intrigued by his description and never forgot the old two-story wood structure. A few years ago, I began to research that house and discovered the amazing story that so few seemed to know.
I was determined to share the family’s saga as well as the history of my hometown and, as with all my historical fiction, I wanted it to feel real. To do that, I tried to imagine everything that Betsy was experiencing during the months leading up to the war, as well as the terrible day of the battle, and the ensuing weeks that saw her mature in her faith and understanding of life. It was very emotional imagining all that Betsy went through and I often found myself in tears as I wrote Fields of the Fatherless.
God often teaches us something through our writing. What did you learn about life, faith, or yourself in the process of writing the Fields of The Fatherless?
I think my understanding was reinforced about how complicated life can be. How difficult it is when you have convictions about what is “right” yet how it can conflict with doing the right thing in God’s eyes. Life is never simple. But God always wants us to choose His way and that often is the braver—and more difficult—of two choices.
I know you are currently working on a book very close to your heart. Can you tell us anything about it?
My current WIP (work in progress) is called Bethany’s Calendar and is a far cry from my usual historical fiction. It is a memoir of my daughter’s journey in the last two years of her life when she suffered from a brain tumor. This is the book I never wanted to write yet I felt a clear conviction from the Lord at a writer’s conference three years ago that He would give me the strength to write this book. And He has. My hope with this story is that other families going through a serious illness of a loved one will be helped on their journey as I share my own. As a registered nurse, I also have some unique insight that I hope will help others. One thing is certain: Families in such a crisis feel so alone. I hope that my story can be a “companion” to them in their sorrow.
Thank you so much, Elaine, for being my guest. I know folks will enjoy your books.
Thank you so much for having me, Janet.
Where can readers find your books?
All of my books are available at Amazon.com in both paperback and e-book.