Grace Awards

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Archive for the tag “Thanksgiving”

Lynn Dean is a Thankful Indie Writer! ~ November 2015 SPOTLIGHT

In 2011 my first historical fiction, MORE PRECIOUS THAN GOLD, was a finalist in the Grace Awards. I was thrilled by the confirmation that people enjoyed my story and considered the writing good…but four years later the sequel remains half finished. Why, then, was I selected to write about writing and thankfulness?

 Life Happens

Life Happens

A funny thing happened on the way to publication. After I wrote my first project–a homeschool history curriculum–my brain was bursting with human interest stories I’d discovered during my research. I had a vision for any number of historical novels, but a job change for my husband meant a move and remodeling projects for me. Somehow I finished my first fiction project and started on the sequel but writing paused as our daughter married her sweetheart. Their happy day was the culmination of months of planning. As the year drew to a close, I had just time to develop a sort of “one off” project before the holidays.

HOME SWEET HOLE was an enjoyable experiment that linked my passions for writing, fantasy, and sustainable architecture. I expected to get back to my historical series after New Year’s, but 2014 turned out to be the year of parental care. We lost both our fathers that year after lingering illnesses, relocated both mothers, and helped them through four surgeries. Again toward the end of the year, I wrote Nabbing Saint Nickolas–a short piece we sent in lieu of Christmas cards. I told myself I was just staying in the game. Next year would be more productive…but the next year it was our son’s turn to launch. With our nest truly empty, I turned to writing once more, but over the years my direction had changed. Stories still fill my heart, but my non-fiction homeschool resources do a better job of filling my bank account.

Moral: Life happens! Instead of feeling disgruntled about “career interruptions”, I am grateful for the privilege of being an independent writer. Here is a partial list of the blessings for which I’m grateful:

  • My writing career is portable. My husband’s relocation meant the sacrifice of my “day job” but challenged me to make a switch and gave me the opportunity to commit to my writing craft.
  • As an indie writer, I control my schedule and my deadlines. Because writers write from their own observations about life, it is good to take time for the milestones that make memories.
  • I am free to experiment. Did I plan to write such diverse genres? No more than I planned anything else that has happened…but I have learned and grown from each experience. Writing Discover Texas developed outlining, research, and organizational skills. Writing historical fiction taught me to listen for my characters’ voices as I wrote dialogue and deep points of view. Home Sweet Hole taught me that not all projects are meant for a wide audience. I learned to enjoy the rave reviews and shrug off the complainers. Nabbing Saint Nickolas challenged me to tell a story and paint a vivid picture using few words. And the Homeschool Parents’ How-To Series is teaching me to press toward a challenging deadline and develop marketing strategies. Writing is, after all, a business as well as a passion.
  • Each experience allows me to explore. New genres! I’ve developed more flexibility in my writing. What readers like is not always what I like, and what I thought I’d like is not always what I end up liking best. New talents! Who knew I could enjoy illustrating so much? New technologies! I am constantly forced to learn faster, cleaner, and more efficient ways of doing things, and that knowledge carries into the next project!

Even though my career has taken unplanned detours, I’m thankful for each challenge along the winding road and for the freedom to explore that path and find contentment.

What about you? Has your career trajectory been a straight line climbing a chart to success, or have you discovered that some “setbacks” are opportunities in disguise?

Lynn Dean

 

 

 

Grace Filled Christmas Book Celebration

Courtesy of FreeImages by orangeNess

Courtesy of FreeImages by orangeNess

 

The Grace Awards Christmas Book Celebration is a time to think of the blessing the gift of a book can be at that magical time on Christmas morning, or any time during the holidays, and into the New Year. Many of the Christian authors who have been involved in Grace Awards activities over the years have gathered together to suggest a few books you might consider for holiday giving.

KATIE METTNER

December KissDECEMBER KISS is a sweet coming of age love story any woman would love for holiday reading. When Jay Alexander finds himself stuck in town square in his broken down wheelchair, he’s desperate for an early Christmas present. When December Kiss loads him into her four horse Cherokee Jay hopes he’ll be the one kissing her under the mistletoe Christmas Eve. Set in beautiful snowy southern Minnesota, Jay is determined to give December one thing for Christmas, her brother.  Reviewers call December Kiss “a must read” and a “heart touching story leaving you no choice but to fall in love with the characters.”

In SUGAR’S DANCE, When the gales of November blow early Sugar DuBois finds herself being hunted by a madman. Putting her trust in a man she’s never met makes her wonder if she will live to see Christmas. The first book of a four part series, readers will dance with Sugar and Van as he struggles to keep her safe AND heal her heart.  Sugar is dancing in a high stakes promenade with a psychopath and must summon her strength to find a way to save her brother. As winter descends upon Lake Superior, Sugar not only makes it to Christmas Eve, but along the way she finds faith, hope and the greatest of these…love.

NAOMI MUSCH

TrevelynIf you enjoy epic retellings of classic tales — think Once Upon a Time or Maleficent — then you’ll love TREVELYAN ~ A Tale of Beauty & The Beast. You might believe you know the tale, but you’ve probably not heard about the downfall of the kingdom, the warring faeries, the elves who fled the land, or the pair of swashbucklers and Belle’s three brothers who’ve set out on a quest to rescue her from the Monster Lord who has her bound. You’ve probably not heard about the hideous creatures and madness waiting to prey upon the careless in a land where faerie magic has taken an evil turn. Belle isn’t looking for love, nor does she intend to become a heroine of the land or to bring about the downfall of a wicked faerie queen. Yet, torn ruthlessly from her family’s side and brought to a place where magic is real, heroes and heroines rise in unlikely places… and a girl like Belle — and true love — can conquer all.

Sometimes a woman thinks about running away from home. In PAINT ME ALTHENA a 2014 Grace Award Finalist, Ava Day did. She and Ethan married young and had two little girls, but somewhere along the way, she lost herself. So Ava ran away and became Althena — an artist hoping to rediscover the girl she used to be. Three years later, she’s buried love and convinced herself her family has been better off without her. She’s started painting fantasy art again and lives with Dan, a lover whose idea of artistic expression is the ink on his arms and a purring street bike dressed in chrome Ethan’s been raising his daughters alone since Ava’s disappearance. Well…almost alone. He’s found refuge in faith, and understanding in Jackie, the lovely widow he met at church. But, when Ava’s bohemian lifestyle sours and danger follows, Ethan also discovers a clue to her whereabouts that lands her in the haven of his home again. Old feelings resurge, but their children no longer know her, and forgiveness is painful. Though Ava’s heart aches to recapture the past, neither Jackie nor Dan want to let go. Now conflict between her search for identity and Ethan’s new faith might break the safety net he offers.

TRACY KRAUSS

Lone WolfWhat happened to Thomas Lone Wolf? This is the question that seems to be on the minds of readers after reading my book WIND OVER MARSHDALE. Well, here is the answer! LONE WOLF is a novella length story that picks up where the other books left off – and just in time for Christmas. Thomas Lone Wolf has recovered from a brush with death – and from a broken heart. His work of opening a First Nations cultural center at an archaeological site near the town of Marshdale is almost complete. Once his son graduates from high school, he and his daughter will have to move on to the next project. Just when he has resigned himself to being a single dad for the rest of his life, he meets a woman who seems perfect. But can his wounded heart take a chance on love again?

Also new this year – NEIGHBORS! This fun filled romantic comedy series follows the lives of Lester Tibbett, former rodeo cowboy, and his sister as they move into an apartment in the city. Full of quirky characters, comical mix-ups, a bit of intrigue, and of course – just enough romance to spice things up! NEIGHBORS is available in nine separate stories, each one from a different character’s point of view. Or you can get the complete series as a paperback. Just in time for Christmas giving!

CAROL MCCLAIN

DWFReaders who love to laugh and can find the humor in life’s difficult circumstances will love DWF: Divorced White Female by Carol McClain. If they think they’ve experienced a mid-life crisis, Cheryl Chandler will prove them wrong with humor (and perhaps a lack of grace). Crisis comes when she’s ditched by a philandering husband, and left rearing three weird teens, and a toddler—her failed attempt to save her marriage. She knows only one thing will redeem her life: a man—any man so long as he’s hot. But how does a forty-something divorcé do that? The kids have the answer. Go online. And therein lays the rub. Kids. If she meets anyone, he would have to meet them. They wouldn’t let their mother hide them, no matter how much she begged. In DWF: Divorced White Female, inspiration woman’s fiction, readers have laughed and loved with the characters, and come away transformed and transported by Cheryl’s antics. This great gift is available on Amazon in print format. The e-book is available wherever ebooks are sold. An ideally suited gift for that loveable lady who slaves so hard for her family every Christmas, DWF is more than fluff. It’s fun with message.

BARBARA ELLEN BRINK

Split SenseSPLIT SENSE won the Grace Award for speculative Christian fiction. If you like suspense that takes you to the edge of your seat, mystery that keeps you guessing to the end, and characters who draw you in and make you care for them like family, then you’ll want a copy of this intriguing and highly entertaining thriller for yourself or to give as a gift this Christmas. Set in the city of Minneapolis, the story follows the lives of twins, separated at birth and reunited at the age of sixteen through one family’s grief and another’s need for power. One has the gift of telepathy. The other can heal through music. To the powerful men conspiring to possess them, their worth is immeasurable. Great read for teens-adults!

RUNNING HOME is an action-packed, inspirational, suspense novel with sweet romance. When Ivy’s husband disappears and criminal charges are brought against him, she packs up her children and runs home to Nebraska to escape the fallout. Danger soon follows and she’s in over her head. But where can you run when you don’t know who to trust? FBI Agent Sinclair is assigned to protect her and she has no doubt he’d do so with his life, but can she trust him with her heart? The first book in the The Second Chances series, Running Home is an exciting page-turner that makes an uplifting holiday read or a terrific Christmas gift for lovers of suspense! Great read for teens-adults!

NOVEMBER SPOTLIGHT: Elaine Marie Cooper

We are so blessed to have Elaine Marie Cooper here for our November/Thanksgiving spotlight Elaine’s THE LEGACY OF DEER RUN finaled in the Grace Awards 2012. When thinking of novels with themes of thanksgiving, selflessness, gratitude, and sacrifice, Elaine’s entire Deer Run series, set during the American Revolutionary War era, comes to mind.

 Thanksgiving Turkey Terror By Elaine Marie Cooper

The Legacy of Deer Run

As an author of novels set in Colonial Massachusetts—where Thanksgiving was THE holiday of the year—I have a personal, culinary dilemma. In my holiday scenes, I’m supposed to describe feasts for a large family in such a way that my writing seems as natural as Paula Dean in a Southern kitchen.

The truth is, when it comes to planning and executing a banquet in real life, I feel like a fish out of water. When I am the only one available to cook the turkey, stuffing and sweet potatoes, my anxiety level can exceed the red zone of hypertension.

That’s why it was so easy for me to describe the character of Susannah Dobbins in THE LEGACY OF DEER RUN as she fretted about Thanksgiving dinner. Fortunately for Susannah, she had guidance from the housemaid named Modesty, whose cooking skills far exceeded her social ones. Modesty tutors the helpless Susannah in the art of cooking, helping the inept, somewhat-spoiled Susannah become competent at cooking chicken over an open hearth and baking pies in a wood-heated oven that required keeping the temperature just right.

Hearth 2

Susannah scanned the room nervously. “What am I forgetting? 

“I think you’re forgettin’ to breathe, miss.” Modesty threw her head back and gave a hearty laugh as she returned to beat the egg whites for the green corn pudding.

“I am frightfully nervous. My last cooking endeavor was a disaster.” Susannah rolled her eyes at the memory.

The outcome, however, turned out to be a sumptuous feast as Susannah’s suitor, father and brother relished the meal.

Stephen took a swallow and set his glass down. “This looks most delectable, Susannah…and Modesty. I must say, dear sister, your cooking skills have improved immensely.”

Success for the fretful Susannah!

Elaine Cooper's Son, DIL 2

So where is a “Modesty” when I need one? Well, one Thanksgiving meal was a tremendous success—because it was cooked to perfection and displayed in beautiful array by my daughter-in-law, Kristen. She and my son, Ben, were living in Virginia at the time, and Kristen put on a display of sumptuous turkey with all the fixings that would leave you begging for seconds.

I’m not too proud to admit it: My daughter-in-law is a far better cook than I am. My son is a blessed man.

Turkey in Oven

So rather than wallow in self-pity about my lack of cooking skills, I think I’ll admire the delicious offerings of those more skilled than I in the kitchen, help clean up the dishes—and plan another novel at my laptop.

Let’s see…another sequel?

Purchase Links: THE LEGACY OF DEER RUN

Amazon/Kindle.  http://amzn.to/1aY0wjH

Barnes & Noble/Nook. http://bit.ly/1cJrOgz

Elaine Marie Cooper

Author Elaine Marie Cooper

***Photo of the hearth courtesy of Thomas Deitner

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