Author Interview: Elaine Marie Cooper

Since I absolutely loved reading Saratoga Letters (October 2016), I’m pleased to welcome author Elaine Marie Cooper. She made stepping into Revolutionary War times so real I could weep for her characters. Thank you for agreeing to answer a few questions about your writing adventures, Elaine. We’ll get started in a few moments.

elaineBut first, here’s quick look at Saratoga Letters: It is 1777. The Battle of Saratoga, a turning point of the Revolutionary War, encourages the American Continental Army with their first great victory. But there seemed little to celebrate for one patriotic woman forced to nurse wounded British soldiers right in their war camp. Thrust into deception by a cruel Loyalist uncle, Abigail is forced to lie in order to survive, all the while dealing with fears that challenge her faith. Danger stalks her everywhere, yet her salvation springs from an unexpected source.

Then …

Two hundred years later, on the anniversary of the Battle of Saratoga, thousands arrive from Europe and the United States to celebrate the event—including descendants from the war. One young American, Abby, meets another offspring of a British soldier. When her life is threatened, Abby turns to the only person she knows at the event—her British ally. Can she trust him with her life? Or will he betray her in the same way Loyalist spies betrayed her ancestors? Perhaps letters from long ago will reveal the truth.

Now back to Elaine … would you tell us a little bit about yourself? When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I was about eleven-years-old when my dad encouraged me to pen my first short story. I am forever grateful that he gave me the confidence to try.

What attracted you to writing historical romance during the American Revolution time period?

Since I grew up outside of Boston, immersed in the landmarks of the American Revolution, I also grew to love the history of our country, the stories and lifestyles of Colonial America. Add my own family history, and I was ready to write historical fiction!

9781938499142Where did you get your unusual story idea for Saratoga Letters?

Writing two different love stories 200 years apart was not my normal plot line. Yet my writer’s muse was piqued when I visited Saratoga: A park ranger told me about the bicentennial celebration of the 1777 Battle of Saratoga … and I lost my motel key! The lost key morphed into a mystery-suspense story that connected to the past.

What was the most challenging about writing Saratoga Letters?

Definitely the research! It became a nightmare. But with the Lord’s help, I managed to pull the story together. It was actually easier to get the information needed for 1777 than to gather the facts for 1977. I made a series of phone calls and sent emails to numerous people in the Saratoga Springs area to dig out the details of the bicentennial celebration. Now I can’t wait to meet the many historians and others who helped me in my research to thank them in person.

So, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?

I always hope readers will understand that our ancestors who lived long ago were not unlike us in many ways. They shared the same hopes and dreams, and while times and customs change, what is in the hearts of mankind—both good and evil—remains the same. And God continues to seek the hearts of men and women to serve Him today, just as He did long ago.

What do you like best about the writing life?

Working in my jammies? LOL!

Oh, my goodness, I do that, too! Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I just want to say “thanks” to readers who enjoy my stories and take the time to share their thoughts in reviews. It means so much that others are blessed by my stories, and I praise God Who has given me the ability to write.

Here’s more about Elaine:

Elaine Marie Cooper’s other published novels include Fields of the Fatherless, Bethany’s Calendar, and the historical trilogy the Deer Run Saga. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her historical novels. Her upcoming release is Legacy of Deer Run (CrossRiver Media, Dec, 2016), Book 3 in the Deer Run Saga.

Find out more about Elaine on her website/ blog, www.elainemariecooper.com

 

Revealing December 2016 New Romantic Suspense

I’m excited to share American Christian Fiction Writers announcement of  two new christmasromantic suspense releases this month. Twelve other Christian novels in five other fiction genres are also listed at the above link.

Now …

For your convenience, I’m revealing here the two romantic suspense stories–one by Liz Johnson and the other by Susan Sleeman–both excellent authors I can easily recommend. Also, in keeping with this blessed season we all love, Christmas is a part of each story’s setting.

Enjoy!

Romantic Suspense:

hazardous-holidayHazardous Holiday by Liz Johnson — Just in time for the holidays, navy SEAL Zach McCloud returns home from deployment–and discovers someone wants his family dead. When he married his cousin’s struggling widow, he vowed to help her and her seriously ill son, and now he’ll risk everything to protect them. Even if their arrangement is only temporary. Kristi’s certain an unhappy client from the law firm where she works is determined to hunt her down. But when a sniper bullet wildly misses its target, they begin to question whether it’s really her someone wants dead. Working together, can they figure out why they’ve been attacked…and keep little Cody from the nefarious forces dead set on making this Christmas their last? (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

christmas-conspiracyChristmas Conspiracy by Susan Sleeman — When Commander Jake Marsh loses control of a hostage situation and Tessa Long is injured, guilt eats at him. He blurs the line between the professional and personal, and visits Tessa at the hospital. But when a man tries to kill her in her hospital room, Jake disregards all of the rules and regulations that have allowed him to control his world and vows to keep her safe no matter what. Trouble is, the situation brings back memories from his childhood of the loss of his entire family, and for the first time in twenty years, he fears he’s no longer in charge of his life, and knows when he’s out of control bad things happen. Very bad things. (Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired [Harlequin])

Aspiring Writer – The Snag

In this fascinating world of writing, doubts assail. Especially when our beloved book manuscripts receive one rejection after another.

The Snag

Lord, have I waited too long?

I finished my novel, this time without the niggling feeling that insisted something still needed fixing. I sent it to a published novelist who had offered to read it, and she declare it ready for publication. I then set out to find an agent … 

… only to quickly hit a snag. No replies to many query letters. A polite “pass” on every requested proposal.

smiley-worryTimes are hard, Lord, but what’s this all about?

Fear barreled into the dark of my bedroom and hissed in my ear, “Why are you writing your next novel? No one’s even interested in publishing this first one. You don’t have what it takes. What a waste of time! What a waste of the many years you’ve invested.”

Tossing and turning, I finally abandoned my bed and turned on the light in my office. While I prayed and read my Bible, God encouraged me to continue my writing journey.

I gazed at my bookshelves, and then grabbed a book from one of them. I devoured its chapter on finding and working with an agent. The author advised writers not to feel to hurt if an agent wasn’t interested in a first novel. I sighed heavily and read further, my attention soon snagged by the suggestion that a new author might want to query a new agent.

It couldn’t hurt to try. I did have such an agent in mind.

Working through the night, I tweaked and polished both the proposal and the query letter. Would this new agent be the answer to my prayers?

I didn’t know. What I did know was that while “pressed on every side” as I attempted to market this novel, while “crushed or broken” by the current lack of response, the Lord wanted me to “get up again and keep going” ~2 Corinthians 4:8-9, (The Living Bible, Tyndale House Publishers).

God wanted me to trust in him completely (Proverbs 3:5) and work hard (Proverbs 22:29). He wanted me to keep going until I reached my goal.

***

Dear Reader, have you hit “the snag”? Are you trying to find an agent without much success? Since God sent you on this journey for good purpose, Iurge you to push past each obstacle until you reach your goal. 

Until next time … blessings to you!

~ Beth

Copyright 2011 Beth Ann Ziarnik

Aspiring Writer – The Unexpected

As unpublished novelists writing our stories with no contract in sight, we sometimes wonder. Will all this dreaming and effort take us to the land of published books? And then, along comes …

The Unexpected

Am I getting close, Lord?

That Spring, I decided to find out and entered my novel in the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Genesis Contest for unpublished novelists.

Weeks later, the scores from three judges arrived. What would one day become Her question-reallyDeadly Inheritance didn’t final, but oh, how exciting–it had missed by a mere fraction! One of the judges, a multi-published romantic suspense author, gave my entry an astounding perfect score and assured me I had a publishable manuscript.

Lord, is it true? Is she right?

A month later at the Write-To-Publish Conference, the manuscript evaluations for the first chapters of my two novels came back running over with enthusiastic comments. The publicist who evaluated them urged me to use her name and contact a Guideposts editor she believed would be interested.

I was stunned. Really, Lord? But God had more encouragement in store.

During an evening critique session at the same conference, a well-known author of romantic suspense listened as someone else read a portion of my manuscript. “Now that’s great writing! ” she said.

I was overwhelmed.

Then in September at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference, agents and editors and published authors shocked me with their enthusiasm about my novel. One agent told me the publishers gathered at that conference were looking for romantic suspense. I could hardly believe it. Somehow my novel and I had arrived at just the right time. A time when Christian publishers were for writers of my genre.

What happened, Lord?

God’s answer was abundantly clear. “For the Lord is a just God. Happy are all who wait patiently for him” ~Isaiah 30: 18 (The Living Bible, Tyndale House Publishers).

After years of working and years of waiting, I was surprised to discover my novel’s time was near.

***

Dear Reader, you may be hurting. You may wonder if all your hard work will ever result in a published novel. Please don’t give up. God is with you and working behind the scenes to bring you to that right moment.

Until then, believe in your growing ability and God’s purpose and for your writing. Trust in his timing.

~ Beth

Copyright 2010 Beth Ann Ziarnik

Aspiring Writer – The Dreaded Fog

Really? I’m not done yet? Like any other writer, we want our words to sing right out of the gate. Well, at least after a few revisons. But what happens when we’ve done all we can, and it’s still not enough to get published?

The Dreaded Fog

But, Lord … I thought it was finished!

I recalled the moment I wrote the final word of my novel and breathed such a sigh of satisfaction! Heroine and hero had lived through dreadful danger and discovered true love. Better yet, they surprised me with the unique way they concluded their story. 

Yet all the rewrites I’d labored on, perfecting the story, were not enough? My novel required yet more work?

Well, I won’t do it. I don’t want to do it. I … sputtered to a stop.writers-fog

To be honest, I simply had no idea what to do next. Following the advice of mountains of books, articles and classes, I’d already put to use everything I learned about writing novels. What more was there?

Confused, I wandered in a fog for two months, doing my best to ignore that troublesome novel. Besides, I had plenty to keep me busy–including my (yea!) new novel.

Yet my first novel, the one that would one day become Her Deadly Inheritance, refused to let go. It waited in silence until I could stand it no more.

Okay, I did want to do whatever it took to bring it to a publishable state, but … was I even capable?

I closed my eyes and sank back in my office chair. Slowly breathing in and out, I sought the answer to my dilemma from the one Source I knew had the solution.

Lord, what will it take? What must I do? Please show me the way through this unfamiliar territory, this terribly dark place.

Words I’d read earlier that morning came back to me.

“I will answer them before they even call on me. While they are still talking to mea-light-in-the-fog about their needs, I will go ahead and answer their prayers” ~Isaiah 65: 24 (The Living Bible, Tyndale House Publishers).

I perked up, suddenly recalling I had ordered a book about revision and self-editing. Was this God’s answer?

Of one thing I was sure. Before I ever called out to God, he saw my need and went  ahead to answer my prayer. Without a doubt, he would also show me the way out of this awful writer’s fog. He would enable me to take my novel to the publishable level. If only I didn’t quit.

***

Dear Reader, many challenges test a writer’s resolve. Are you In a fog? Call out to God, and you’ll find his answer already on its way.

~ Beth

Copyright 2009 Beth Ann Ziarnik09 Beth Ann Ziarnik

Aspiring Writer – The Frustration!

Writing is hard work! And sometimes, as we try to find those just-right words or that other element to take us to where we know we’ve nailed it, frustration builds up. An awful place to be.

So here we are, continuing the aspiring writer’s journey to publication–mine actually–but not so different from many others. I’m told that even well-published writers working on a new project wrestle with it.

The Frustration

I slumped at my desk and closed my eyes in an effort to trap the tears that threatened to escape. “I’m ready to give up, Lord! I’ve worked on this manuscript and worked on it some more. It’s just not getting anywhere.”frustrated-writer

“I’m weary of the battle, Lord. I don’t think I’ll ever finish.” Tears traced wet paths down my face.

I palmed them away. “Please, Lord, if you have any advice to share, I could use it right now.”

Commit your work to the Lord, and then your plans will succeed.*

What? Surely God knew I had dedicated all my writing to him from the very beginning.

Commit your work to the Lord, and then your plans will succeed.*

Obviously I was missing something behind those twelve short and loving words. Something important.

Several hours later, I pushed my concordances, commentaries, and dictionaries aside and picked up what I had distilled from them. I stared at the pages. So that was the problem.

Committing my work to the Lord was more than offering a quick prayer before I barreled ahead with my writing plan. It was spreading everything before the Lord each morning — my manuscript, plans, deadline schedules — and most of all, myself. It was sharing my difficulties and delights with him, whether writing and otherwise. It was praying, “Lord, here am I. Use me. What do you want me to accomplish today?”praying

I bowed my head to do that very thing.

Before long I saw significant progress in the novel’s development. Excitement about the project returned! I couldn’t wait to get to my desk each morning and boot up the computer.

How glad I am the Lord shared this valuable insight: Being a Christian writer isn’t a simple matter of being a Christian and writing. It’s being a Christian who lays her writing gift at the feet of the Lord and obeys him. As I look back, every one of my published manuscripts was a fruit of God’s plan, not mine. Painful as all the years of struggle have been, I’m grateful that God continues to preserve that precious pattern.

* Proverbs 16:3 (NLT)

***

Dear Reader, this piece has been a long time coming, and now you know why. Until next time . . . look to the Lord. He will help you overcome your frustrations!

~ Beth

Copyright 2005 Beth Ann Ziarnik

PLEASE JOIN THE CONVERSATION: We all have frustrations. How has God helped you overcome yours?

November Romantic Suspense Releases for Book Lovers

Can’t get enough of those wonderful romantic suspense novels??? Well, here’s a fresh release to entertain and inspire you from my friend, Marji Laine.

maji-lanes-counter-pointCounter Point by Marji Laine — Her dad’s gone, her diner’s closing, and her car’s in the lake. Cat McPherson has nothing left to lose … except her life. And a madman, bent on revenge, is determined to take that, as well. Her former boyfriend, Ray Alexander, returns as a hero from his foreign mission, bringing back souvenirs in the form of death-threats. When several attempts are made on Cat’s life, she must find a way to trust Ray, the man who broke her heart. (Romantic Suspense from Write Integrity Press)

Do you enjoy other genres, too. Go to American Christian Fiction Writers November Releases at https://www.acfw.com/blog/acfw-new-releases-november-2016/ to find new fiction releases in the following categories:

  • biblical (1)
  • contemporary romance (5)
  • contemporary women’s fiction (1)
  • historical (3)
  • historical romance (8)
  • speculative (1)