Books

War’s Respite and Love’s Kindling

Posted by on Jan 24, 2019 in Blog, Book Reviews, Books, History | 6 comments

I’m pleased to feature Elaine Cooper the author of several Revolutionary War period books. Her Deer Run trilogy, Saratoga Letters and Fields of the Fatherless, all stories that linger in your mind long after you’ve read them.

Last week the first two stories of her Dawn of America Series set in Revolutionary War Connecticut released War’s Respite, a prequel novella, and Love’s Kindling.

What inspired you to write the Dawn of America Series?

“A ‘chance’ discovery while researching online revealed a historical incident that occurred during the American Revolution in Connecticut: The British troops attacked three towns along Long Island Sound in 1779. I had never heard of these battles before and was amazed by the significance of them. Yet the stories of the residents of New Haven, Fairfield, and Norwalk, Connecticut, seemed buried in the annals of history. I couldn’t wait to unearth the past, set in a fictional format!”

That reminds me a bit of Fields of the Fatherless, another little-known but significant event that took place at the same time of the battles of Concord and Lexington.

What made you decide to start the series with a prequel novella?

When I signed my contract with Burnett Young Books, the publisher wanted Book 1 to be a Prequel to Book 2, Love’s Kindling. I’d never written a prequel before and I found it completely enjoyable to go deeper into the back story of my characters. That’s how War’s Respite was birthed, as an introduction to the entire 4-book series.

War’s Respite

In 1763, the war with the French came to a close. While most Connecticut colonists breathed in relief, others are faced with unexpected conflicts as battles of a different nature ensue at home.

Veteran Abijah Whitney regrets leaving his pregnant wife behind when he was called away to war. The news of her death during childbirth, as well as the ugly brutalities of war, have left their mark. His only comfort is the knowledge that his daughter survived. But his plans for her upon his return will cause an uproar in many lives, including the aunt who raised her.

Primrose Allan’s sole consolation after the death of her sister in childbirth is the baby girl who lived. The aunt raises the girl as her own, fearing that one day the girl’s father might return for her. But Primrose never imagined the nightmare that would ensue.

Dr. Isaac Northrup is a friend caught in the middle of the turmoil. Always desiring to bring healing, he feels helpless in the events that cause pain and heartache to others, as well as himself.

Jonas Wooding, the town’s blacksmith, is caught in the strife, made all the worse by a serious epidemic. Bound by constrictions of local law and forced to face his own grief, Jonas’s trust in God is stretched beyond endurance.

When all seems lost, will faith endure?

War’s Respite drew me in immediately. Elaine’s thorough research of history was evident. She presented intriguing characters with overwhelming circumstances that kept me turning the pages to find out how they would be solved.

Love’s Kindling

During the American Revolution in 1779, Aurinda Whitney lives with her cold and calloused father, an embittered veteran of the previous war. Aurinda’s life changed forever when her father returned for her after that war, taking her away from the only place she’d ever experienced affection. Since her father blamed Aurinda for the death of his wife in childbirth, Aurinda is convinced she is unworthy of love.

Zadok Wooding believes he is a failure as he tends the smithy at home while others go to battle against the British. Just when he has an opportunity to become a hero, he is blinded in an accident. Now he fears he will never live up to the Biblical “mighty man of valor” for whom he was named.

When the couple meet they are both challenged to overcome adversity as well as their inadequacies. Unexpected secrets of their past emerge that can change their lives forever. But can they look past their present circumstances to heal—and find love?

Love’s Kindling is another well-researched Revolutionary War story filled with engaging characters, war action, broken relationships, and budding romance. The characters are plagued by the war around them but also battle emotional and physical challenges which threaten their growing attraction. The issues they face are not relegated to the eighteenth century, they’re timeless. There are faith lessons readers will remember long after the story ends.

We will have to wait for Books 3 Winter’s Ravage and  4 Courier’s Return. 

 

Elaine Marie Cooper has two E-book releases January 18, 2019: War’s Respite (Prequel novella) and Love’s Kindling. Paperback version of Love’s Kindling will be available. These books are the first two novels in the Dawn of America Series set in Revolutionary War Connecticut. Cooper is the award-winning author of Fields of the Fatherless and Bethany’s Calendar. Her 2016 release (Saratoga Letters) was finalist in Historical Romance in both the Selah Awards and Next Generation Indie Book Awards. She penned the three-book Deer Run Saga and has been published in numerous magazines and anthologies. You can visit her website/ blog at www.elainemariecooper.com

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“Therefore encourage one another …

Posted by on Jan 17, 2019 in Blog, Book Reviews, Books, Uncategorized | 6 comments

and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
1 Thessalonians 5:11

Fiction writers typically write in isolation. Well, except for the company they keep with their characters. We create, edit, and submit our stories to agents and publishers. We wait and hope someone else will see value in our work.

Authors are often filled with self-doubt.

If the story is published, then we spend time, effort, and money to publicize our work. We pursue a myriad of different ways to get the word out whether it’s through social media, advertising, contests, donations, articles, etc.

Sometimes … well, a lot of the time, it feels like self-promotion, which can be a real struggle for an introvert. So many authors are introverts.

Promoting our stories is essential, not only because we want to sell books, but others like agents and publishers have also invested time, effort, and capital in them.

 I’ll confess before I wrote books, I never submitted book reviews. I do now and I’m so thankful when a reader takes the time to write a review of one of my stories. It is a valuable and important way to bring attention to them.

            Did I mention that authors are often filled with self-doubt?

I’ve been finishing the third story in a series, one that has been a struggle but very close to my heart. I wonder—what if no one wants to publish it … or read it?  

 Often when I’m in the midst of wondering if this call to write is real, someone tells me how much they liked my stories. I think God prompts people to encourage others at just the right time in just the right way.

Yesterday, each of my books received unexpected words of praise from two different sources, and it meant the world to me.

In the morning, someone said they really enjoyed A Heart For Freedom and they were looking forward to reading the next book.

In the afternoon, I read this Amazon review about A Heart Set Free.

“If you enjoyed Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly, you will love A Heart Set Free. It is a story of desperation, hope, love, and forgiveness. I found myself totally enthralled by this story. The characters came to life off the pages and the descriptions had me visualizing each and every scene. This could totally be a movie. I can’t wait to begin reading book 2 in the series, A Heart for Freedom. I highly recommend this book.”

My husband makes beautiful musical instruments. I have friends and family who are amazing artists, fine writers, great bloggers, and others have exceptional gifts in the arts, academia, and even a beautiful ballerina. They all share their gifts with others.

Encouragement means so much. Perhaps someone you know needs cheering on. If you’re prompted, give them that gift. It might be just the moment they need it most.

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Shannon McNear’s The Cumberland Bride

Posted by on Oct 11, 2018 in Blog, Book Reviews, Books | 7 comments

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.

 Is she too naive to survive the journey,  or will she discover a strength no one knows she has?

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

 

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A Heart For Freedom

Posted by on Sep 29, 2018 in Blog, Books, History | 4 comments

Releases October 1, 2018

In writing a book series, it’s important that each story stands on its own. Readers may not have read the previous story, nor do they appreciate cliff-hangers for the next installment.

When I wrote A Heart Set Free, I planned for two more stories in this Revolutionary War saga.

A Heart For Freedom continues the Stewarts’ story five years after the previous book ends.

By 1775, the conflict has escalated between Loyalists and Patriots throughout the colonies. The Stewarts’ ordinary and the surrounding Virginia countryside are not immune from the strife, pitting friends, neighbors, and families against each other.

Matthew Stewart has avoided taking sides and wants only to farm, manage Stewarts’ Green, and raise his family. But political tensions are heating up and circumstances and connections make him question whether he should answer a call to aid the Patriot cause … with conditions.

Heather Stewart, born and raised in Scotland, has witnessed the devastation and political consequences of opposing England. Threatened by the prospect of war, she wants only to avoid it, and protect the family and peace she sought and finally found in Virginia.

The journey the Stewarts take is not an easy one and will involve sacrifice, and questioned loyalties. Lives and relationships will be changed forever. Ultimately the knowledge that God is faithful will equip them with the courage to face an uncertain future … with a heart for freedom.

I’m currently at work on the final story in the trilogy. 

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THE ART OF NARRATING AUDIOBOOKS

Posted by on Aug 7, 2018 in Blog, Books, Media Sharing | Comments Off on THE ART OF NARRATING AUDIOBOOKS

My debut novel, A Heart Set Free, was recently narrated by Cecily White. From an author’s point of view, I found the process of making an audiobook to be fascinating.

My publisher sent me some preliminary questions asking about the pronunciation of the characters’ voices, locations, and proper names. I selected the narrator’s accent-British-Edinburgh, age-adult, and style-feminine. Cecily read sample pages, and I was delighted. I answered some questions and she proceeded to narrate the entire book. I was amazed at the minuscule and truly minor corrections needed, and they were made. Narrators receive a percentage of sales of audiobooks. 

Perhaps, like me, you’re curious as to how someone decides to pursue this craft. Cecily White has generously offered to share some insights.

Cecily, please tell us a bit about your background.

I was interested in acting from a young age and went on to earn a Bachelor of Arts in Theater with an emphasis in Acting from California State University at Fullerton.  Two years later, I became a Christian and thought that surely acting was a thing of the past because my values were now at odds with most of what could be found on stage and screen.  To get grounded in my new faith, I attended Calvary Chapel Bible College, Murrieta Campus, and earned a Bachelor of Biblical Studies.  I also met my husband there!

What motivated you to become a book narrator?

One morning about three years ago, I heard a voice actor being interviewed on a podcast. He mentioned that voiceover had changed and that most voice actors did their work in a home studio. This passing comment was like a flash of lightning for me.  You can act at home by yourself?! I’ve always delighted in reading aloud to my children and we have had fun listening to audiobooks together on occasion. I never thought that it was something that I could actually do as a profession until I heard that podcast.

What was the process of entering this industry?

I looked it up online, of course! I spent the next two years learning about voice acting and the technical production that goes with it.  I watched webinars and videos, read articles and forums, and took an online class. At first, I thought that I would not be able to do audiobooks because it appeared that narrators were recording entire books in just a few days.  While this is true for narrators who work full-time at it, there are also opportunities for narrators who have time restrictions.  In my research, I discovered ACX, Audiobook Creation Exchange, which is a forum that connects narrators with people who own the audio rights to a published book. When I felt I was ready, I made a profile, recorded some demos, and started auditioning!

How long and how many books and what genres have you narrated?

I have been narrating for just over a year and in that time have completed seven audiobooks.  I started with a short non-fiction title, which made it easier to go through all the learning stages that happen with a first book.  After that, I have narrated what can be categorized as Historical Christian Romance.

How do you prepare? Do you read the book or parts of it before beginning the project or do you start without any background on the characters or how the story develops?

Because I don’t want to voice any story that dishonors God, I read the entire book before accepting a contract.  I also take that time to find out what accents and special pronunciations (such as medical, legal, or historical terms) are involved. Once the contract is set, I read the book again and make a note about each character’s personality and jot down any information that the author gives about his or her voice.  Then I spend a recording session making a small audio file for every character who has more than one or two lines, giving each a unique voice and if possible a “tagline.” This “tagline” allows me to quickly snap into a character when I hear the line and repeat it, even if I haven’t voiced that character for a few chapters.  After that, I plug away at the book, chapter by chapter.

Being a narrator requires playing many different roles, both male and female. What do you find most challenging about your work?

The most challenging part for me at this point is time.  I restrict my recording hours to the early morning because of my family.  Therefore, I finish a book much more slowly than a full-time narrator.  My priority is to savor this time with my children because they are growing up so fast!  I’ll have plenty of long, quiet days before I know it.

Do you have a particular genre you enjoy reading/narrating?

The genre I am narrating, Historical Christian Romance is a really good fit for me.  I enjoy the sweet stories, the variety of settings, and learning about the past. I’m definitely open to narrating other genres, though. As for reading, I love to read just about any Christian fiction.  I’m on a big suspense kick right now.

Thank you so much, Cecily, for opening the curtain so we could learn more about your craft.

BIO:  Cecily White is a wife, mom of four, homeschool teacher, and audiobook narrator.  As such, she has been married for 17 years, is soon to have another driver in the house (yikes!), currently teaches her two youngest at home, and looks forward to bringing more and more books to life! She can be reached at cecilywhitevoiceover@gmail.com.

 

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DISTRACTIONS AND OTHER NEWS

Posted by on Jul 27, 2018 in Blog, Books, Family, Uncategorized | 8 comments

Dictionary.com defines Distraction as that which distracts, divides the attention, or prevents concentration: that which amuses, entertains, or diverts; amusement; entertainment: and division or disorder caused by dissension; tumult.

I’ve been living with distractions for a few weeks.

~  Laddie, West Highland White Terrier joined our family at the end of June. He amuses, entertains, and definitely diverts our attention, making getting much-done very challenging. We love the wee pup, and we are all in the process of “being trained”.

~  A bad bout of lower back and leg pain has distracted and prevented my concentration, along with not being able to sit at my desk or anyplace else. Fortunately, it is finally diagnosed and I’m being treated with meds and the proper physical therapy so it should improve … soon, I hope.

~  My website was down for nearly three weeks causing some division and disorder by dissension and tumult. I’m grateful to now have an up-and-running website.

The answer to all of the above is patience and perseverance.

“Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope”  Romans 5:3-4

 

I’m eager to share some news: A Heart Set Free was beautifully narrated by Cecily White. Cecily did a wonderful job and didn’t let the challenge of some of the characters’ Scottish dialects slow her down. More on that in a future post.

 

In a little over three months – on October 1, 2018, A Heart For Freedom releases. This is the sequel to Selah Award Winner A Heart Set Free. It is is a stand-alone book that picks up the Stewarts’ five years later, in 1775 when the American Revolution begins. Here is the blurb from the back of the book:

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 available for pre-order on Amazon. I hope you will enjoy this story and consider writing a review.

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