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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 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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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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MUSIC THAT LIFTS THE SOUL

Posted by on Apr 14, 2019 in Blog, Devotions, Uncategorized | 1 comment

There is something about music that draws us closer to God. So many hymns, as well as more contemporary pieces, touch my heart and intensify times of worship.

To celebrate Holy Week last year, I gathered an eclectic selection of music to listen to throughout the week, picking out special selections for each day. I had such fun doing this that I shared the links on my Facebook page. I share it now hoping it will bring you joy and draw you closer to Jesus this week.

Palm Sunday ~ All Glory, Laud and Honour  ~  King’s College Cambridge

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pHN8UAk6Yow

I Know That My Redeemer Lives

http://praiseandworshiplyricsandchords.blogspot.com/2009/08/my-redeemer-lives-mullen-music-and.html

Monday ~ In Heavens Eyes ~ Sandi Patti

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=389e0aLJJzU

Shine Jesus Shine by Hillsong (with Lyrics)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7OIwSQmyCg4

Tuesday ~I Can Only Imagine  ~ Bart Millard Mercy Me

https://www.facebook.com/icanonlyimaginemovie/videos/10156154869184810/

The Prayer ~ Celine Dion & Andrea Bocelli

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pb8Z_6HVutk

Wednesday ~ The Lord of sea and sky  ~ National Youth Choir of Scotland-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcL9S5a3weU

I’ve Just Seen Jesus  ~ Sandi Patti Larnell Harris

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_yLgtd_kkxw

Thursday ~  For Zions Sake ~  Marty Goetz

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xtKBZRJcEVM

Mary Did You Know 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JPsgIhlYQmM

Friday ~Via Dolorosa  ~ Sandi Patti

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7asEdmZsSPo

The Lords Prayer sung by Andrea Bocelli

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=50dLkv7v2TQ

Saturday ~

Jesus through the Bible !

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upyJ6smkv9g&feature=youtu.be

Messiah Hallelujah Choir ~Naval Academy Glee Club

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uTWQnsYARm8

Sunday ~ Crown Him With Many Crowns  ~ Sandi Patti

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kLXRU1Vdauw

He’s Alive  ~  Dolly Parton

https://www.facebook.com/DollyParton/videos/10153640169959755/

Christ the Lord Is Risen Today

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=15dmjnB8FZU

 

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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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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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