See You at Exalt!

Wow! Can’t believe it, but … two broken ankles didn’t keep away an invitation to serve during the annual women’s Exalt Conference this Saturday, October 20. It’s being hosted at New cup of coffeeLife Community Church in Oshkosh WI.

No, I won’t be speaking. But I will have a table to promote my novels, meet readers, and spread the news about Word & Pen Christian Writers. You never know. Writers and wanna-be writers may be lurking among the attendees. What fun it would be to encourage them.

So, if you live in the area and would like to attend, contact Cindy at 920-235-3670.

P.S. As you know, it never hurts when an event includes a fabulous speaker, outstanding music, and a scrumptious breakfast. Right?

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Her Deadly Reunion Debuts!

Can’t believe it!  The ink is barely dry, but this week Her Deadly Reunion, sequel to Her Deadly Inheritance, made two debut appearances:

First, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas put it up on Amazon for pre-sales.

Then, off to the Innisbrook Resort in Tampa, Florida for the SIBA — the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance — tradeshow (September 13-15).

SIBA identifies itself as “a trade alliance for privately-held, brick & mortar, commercially zoned, retail indie bookstores in the south.”

As you can see, publisher Eddie Jones put together a great display of LPC books for this event. And to my complete surprise, he included Her Deadly Reunion which first releases November 15 on Amazon. If you look carefully to Eddie’s right, you will see the first paperback copy of Her Deadly Reunion on the top shelf. Thank you, Eddie!

 

Meet Author Cindy Ervin Huff

Please help me welcome author Cindy Ervin Huff, friend and fellow writer for many years whose debut historical romance, Secrets & Charades, has won three awards. The most recent is the Serious Writer Medallion for 2018. Congratulations, Cindy!

Now how about giving us some insights and behind-the-scene peeks at your writing life and your newest release, New Duet?

Beth, I’m so excited to be your guest again. While I’m still writing historicals, I felt God telling me to write a story of broken people in a more modern setting. New Duet is a contemporary romance set in my hometown of Aurora, Illinois. It has a population of over 200,000 and lots of historical architecture. We also have a thriving art community which appeals to Isabella Wilson, my novel’s heroine. The veteran community in our city is very active as well. So, Dan Sweeney, New Duet’s wounded warrior hero, is getting all the help he needs after returning home. And of course, we have strong people of faith in our community. What better place to set a novel?

Book Blurb: Isabella Melinda Wilson has been squeezed into the music ministry model of her controlling husband’s making. Before she can leave him, he leaves her a guilt-ridden widow. Her mother-in-law is no comfort and presses the guilt button at every turn. Isabella flees to her sister’s home in search of her own identity and a new beginning.

Dan Sweeney has one goal. Be as normal as possible. After losing a leg, some fingers and his self-worth, he needs his service dog Brutus to help keep his PTSD at bay. Career-less and clueless about the future, he struggles to put his life back together.

Isabella isn’t looking for a new relationship and Dan feels unworthy of one. Can these two broken people heal into one whole love?

The idea for New Duet came while I served on a worship team. A writer’s mind can go to strange places! As I glanced over at the worship leader, I thought, what if he died? (No, I had no evil intent.) My characters tend to talk to me before I even get started on a novel. Isabella told me about her late husband, a worship leader, and her need to get away and find her art muse.

My son is a vet with PTSD which can take many forms and isn’t, as is often portrayed by Hollywood, a walking time bomb. Dan Sweeney has PTSD. He also has a prosthetic leg. Starting his life over after planning to make the Army a career is hard. He needs a service dog. Thus enters Brutus. This pitbull-shepherd mix was a delight to write.

Isabella Wilson goes from serving in the music ministry being remade by her husband to becoming a widow to discovering a new love who allows her to be herself. Thus the novel’s title, New Duet. And yes, some singing is involved.

I loved the opportunity to address domestic abuse within the Christian community and touch on what life is like for a disabled veteran. After all, God is the healer and restorer of the broken, and he gives us gifts we can use for his kingdom when we put him first.

In New Duet, readers will find lots of unique and fun characters who surprised me at times with their insights.

For me, the hardest part of writing any novel is editing. Man, I can miss the most obvious things! That’s why I rely on my hubby and my critique partners to point them out. I just was made aware of the audio app in Word. A monotone voice reads my manuscript. Wow! It is amazing what I see as I follow along. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about this app when I was writing New Duet. *sigh*

Anyway, I wrote the majority of New Duet during Speedbo, a NANOWRITMO month in March. I finished it in time for Write to Publish in June 2016 where I pitched it to my now agent Cyle Young. Then I continued editing it until it sold to Clean Reads.

Marketing is evil. I manage what I’m comfortable doing but hired a marketing person to do what I’m not comfortable with or good at. I’m doing more book signing this year. Some venues produce great sales, others are a bust, but if I relied only on online sales I might not build a fan base. Fans are the ones who buy books and tell their friends.

If I wasn’t confident God called me to write, I’d curl up into a ball and quit. His strength keeps me pressing forward. Authors kept saying. “Once you’re published the work is only beginning.” It’s kind of like labor. You don’t truly understand the pain until you go through it. Marketing and building a platform and fighting doubts about the quality of each new novel are a daily challenge.

My favorite things to do when I’m not writing are walking with my husband Charley and reading. I do lots of book reviews because I know how important they are for writers. I also love going to the theater to see super hero and Star Trek flicks. What can I say? I’m a geek at heart. Oh, and I love Hallmark movies. My hubby rolls his eyes at those. Hey, who doesn’t like a feel-good movie.

What am I writing now? I’ve just finished a novella for a Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas historical romance collection, The Cowboys. It will release in August 2019, and I’m happy to share the byline with Linda Yezak, Jennifer Hough Uhlarik and Sandra Merville Hart. Since I’m an 80,000-word gal, it was a real challenge to produce a complete story in only 22,000 words. Learned a lot. So excited for my fans to read the collection.

I’ve some other projects on my plate and a novel at the pub board, but nothing else to announce.

Thanks for letting me talk about New Duet, Beth.

Your’e welcome, Cindy. Was great having you visit. All the best to you and your books.

Readers, here’ s little more about Cindy and how to stay in touch with her:

Cindy Ervin Huff is a multi-published writer, and her debut novel, Secret’s and Charades, won the Editor’s Choice Award in 2014 and placed third in the Maxwell Awards in 2017 and took a first place Serious Writer Medal in 2018. Her contemporary romance, New Duet, released in May 2018. She has been featured in numerous periodicals over the last thirty years. Cindy is a member of ACFW and founding member of the Aurora, Illinois, chapter of Word Weavers. Although she has been creating stories in her head since childhood, it wasn’t until high school those imaginary characters began appearing on paper. After raising her family, she began her novel writing adventures. Cindy loves to encourage new writers on their journey. She and her husband make their home in Aurora, Illinois. They have five children and six grandchildren.

Visit Cindy on Facebook at www.facebook.com/cindyehuff, follow her on twitter @CindyErvinHuff, or check out her blog at www.jubileewriter.wordpress.com.

Facebook Author Page: https ://www.facebook.com/author.huff11/
Amazon Author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/cindyervinhuff
Google+:https://plus.google.com/u/0/117599590227912410637
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/8029703-cindy-ervin-huff
Twitter: https:// twitter.com/CindyErvinHuff

Links for Cindy’s books:

Amazon Buy link for Secrets & Charadeshttps://www.amazon.com/dp/1946016144/
Amazon Buy link for New Duet: https://www.amazon.com/New-Duet-Cindy-Ervin-Huff-ebook/dp/B07CRV or https://www.amazon.com/New-Duet-Cindy-Ervin-Huff/dp/1621357635

For those of you who would like a taste of New Duet, here’s the first page. Enjoy!

Chapter 1

Bitterness and Guilt

Isabella Melinda Marklin scurried ahead of her husband Ron. She reached the driver’s side door of the red Dodge Durango first. Ron closed the gap between. His breath brushed across the top of her head, “I’m driving.”
She faced him feeling for the handle and pulling the door open.
Anger flashed in his dark brown eyes. Melinda stood her ground. “You have one of your migraines. I’ll drive.” She climbed in before he could grab her arm.
“Fine.” Ron moved to the passenger’s side, slammed the door, and leaned back on the gray leather headrest. “It’s so bright.” His forearm covered his face.
“Here’s your sunglasses.” Melinda took them from the visor before gazing into the rear view mirror. The gravel driveway flowed beneath the tires. Her chest tightened and her hand shook as the gears shifted into drive.
Ron adjusted the sunglasses. “Can you drive a little faster?”
“No.” A tremble escaped her lips. White knuckles gripped the steering wheel. Fear wrestled her confident tone. “We’ve got time.”
“You’d better be right.” Ron massaged his temples with his index fingers. “If we’re late, it’s all on you.”
Typical.
Everything always seemed on her lately. Always her fault, always her problem. Blame had been the morning focus.

Reaching for Your Dream

What is it about a dream–that something we would dearly love to accomplish … if only? I wrote this piece as I struggled toward my dream almost eleven years before Her Deadly Inheritance appeared in print and e-book.

Maybe you’ve felt this way–or feel this way now–as you reach for your dream.

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 novel and worked on it some more. It’s just not getting anywhere.”

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

Oh, great! I palmed them away. “Please, Lord, if you have an idea to share, I could sure use it now.”

Commit your work to the Lord, and then your plans will succeed.  ~ Proverbs 16:3 (TLB)

What? Surely God knew I had dedicated each piece of my writing dream to him from the very beginning. Obviously, I was missing something behind those twelve short words.

Something important.

Several hours later, I pushed aside my concordances, commentaries, and dictionaries 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 involved more than offering a quick prayer before I barreled ahead with my 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, both writing and otherwise. It was praying, “Lord, here am I. Use me. What do you want me to accomplish today?”

I knelt down 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 my computer.

How glad I am to have learned this valuable lesson: Being a Christian writer isn’t a simple matter of being a Christian and writing. It’s being a Christian who lays her dream 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 am grateful that God continues to preserve that precious pattern.

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!

Copyright 2005 Beth Ann Ziarnik

Are you reaching for your dream? May I encourage you to work at it and stick with it until it’s accomplished in the Lord’s timing? It truly will be worth it all.

Remembering the Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Won’t be long before the fireworks light up the night skies again, right?

With the heat and humidity, indoors seems the best place for me–maybe you too! But this morning I enthusiastically decked out the house–inside and out–with 4th of July decorations that I remembered using during the local book launch party for Her Deadly Inheritance. Perfect!

That led to recalling those two fun summers Jim and I went to Munising and Grand Island, Michigan to research the setting for Her Deadly Inheritance. What fun we had participating in the old-fashioned Fourth of July celebration, beginning with the morning parade in town and ending with the evening fireworks over Murray Bay. Just about everything we experienced found its way into the novel–pie eating contest, chainsaw wood carving, free ice cream, firemen’s water hose fight, sack races, and so much more.

Which led to remembering Jill and Clay (my novel’s heroine and hero) enjoying their Fourth of July in the novel with a touch of romance and a whole lot of suspense.

And finally remembering you wonderful readers, wishing you the very best celebration and wondering how you are celebrating this very special day.

HOW ABOUT YOU?

What is your favorite Fourth of July memory? Or most memorable Fourth of July? I’d love to hear about it.

 

Four Recommended Reads

Okay! I couldn’t resist. Just had to tell you the news about my friend Karen Witemeyer’s new historical romance novel. Karen, who lives in Texas, sets her irresistible stories in Texas during the 1800’s. On a side note: She and Gloria Clover and I critique each other’s manuscripts, encourage one another, and cheer each other on. Congratulations on the June release of More Than Meets the Eye, Karen! Warning: If you read one of Karen’s novels, you will be hooked on reading them all.

More Than Meets the Eye by Karen Witemeyer — Many consider Evangeline Hamilton cursed. Orphaned at a young age and possessing a pair of mismatched eyes–one bright blue, the other dark brown–Eva has fought to find her way in a world that constantly rejects her. She’s made a safe haven with Seth and Zach, two former orphans she now counts as brothers. Seeking justice against the gambler who stole his birthright and destroyed his family, Logan Fowler arrives in 1880s Pecan Gap, Texas, to confront Zach Hamilton, the hardened criminal responsible for his father’s death. Instead, he discovers a man not much older than himself with an unusual family. When Zach’s sister, Evangeline, insists on dousing Logan with sunshine every time their paths cross, Logan finds his quest completely derailed. Who is truly responsible for his lost legacy, and will restoring the past satisfy if it means forfeiting a future with Evangeline? (Historical Romance from Bethany House [Baker])

And, as you all know, romantic suspense is my genre of choice whether reading or writing. Below are three new releases this month that you’re sure to enjoy!

Justice Betrayed by Patricia Bradley — It’s Elvis Week in Memphis, and homicide Detective Rachel Sloan isn’t sure her day could get any stranger when aging Elvis impersonator Vic Vegas asks to see her. But when he produces a photo of her murdered mother with four Elvis impersonators–one of whom had also been murdered soon after the photo was taken–she’s forced to reevaluate. When yet another person in the photo is murdered, Rachel suddenly has her hands full investigating three cases. Lieutenant Boone Callahan offers his help, but their checkered romantic past threatens to get in the way. Can they solve the cases before the murderer makes Rachel victim number four? (Romantic Suspense from Revell – A Division of Baker Publishing Group)

A Vast and Gracious Tide by Lisa Carter — After losing his closest friends and now his girlfriend to the ravages of war, Caden Wallis arrives on the Outer Banks for one final mission–to thank the woman who sent him a quilt while he was recuperating at Walter Reed Army Hospital. McKenna Dockery knows about loss. She juggles the family business, her ailing father, and an aging grandmother. Much to Caden’s surprise, she–not some elderly lady–is the quilter. The quilt was something she’d begun for her future husband but shipped to the military hospital after the tragic death of her fiancé. When a man is found snared in a net and murdered on McKenna’s property, she and Caden must work together to bring the killer to justice. (Romantic Suspense from Gilead Publishing)

Ransom of the Heart by Susan Page Davis — Police Captain Harvey Larson’s exhausting day takes a big detour when a teenaged girl approaches him at the diner, announcing that she is his daughter. When Harvey is on his way home from work a few hours later, his sister-in-law Abby calls him. She went to meet her husband for a dinner date and found a dead man on the floor at his place of business, and Peter has vanished. Harvey calls in his detectives and turns his car around. It’s going to be a long night, too. Once again, Harvey depends on his wits, his faith, and his squad, the Priority Unit, to solve a tough case and carry out Maine Justice. (Romantic Suspense from Tea Tin Press)