Monday, June 20, 2016

5 Questions With Jennifer Brown Banks


Many of you are aware that Jennifer Brown Banks is a multi published veteran freelance writer. But did you know that she's also the manager at Coffeehouse for Writers? She's currently featuring a series on her blog, Pen and Prosper, called 5 Questions that interviews the CFW instructors. (You might remember my interview there a few weeks ago.).

Since Jennifer is so good at interviewing others, I thought it'd be fun to ask her to step up to the mic for a change. Let's see if we can surprise you with the "little known Jennifer facts" revealed here. 


Welcome, Jennifer! Would you care to share a little about yourself and your background? 

Sure. First of all, it’s a pleasure to be here; thank you for having me today. Where do I start? 

I have a very diverse professional and creative background. My career span has included: crunching numbers, working as an office manager in public relations, freelance writing, telemarketing, and online teaching (to name a few). Though my degrees are in Business, my passion is in writing. 

I knew your background was diverse but had no idea it included telemarketing. That must have been an interesting experience. Tell us, did you always want to be a writer? How did you know for sure? 

Growing up as a shy and awkward teen, words were my refuge. I did well in my academic studies, (particularly English and creative arts), but never really viewed writing as a career. My mom actually convinced me to seek publication for my work, and the rest, as they say…”is history.” 

Way to go, Mom! What foresight she had. You are blessed to have that support and encouragementWhat book title best describes your life or writing philosophy? 

I’d have to say “The Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren. 

Now there's a good title to live by! What would it surprise us to learn about you? 

Let’s see…that I’m extremely disciplined, (except for eating). I hardly ever miss an episode of the game show Jeopardy. I love herbal teas. I’m a good dancer. And that I can “rock the mic” at karaoke! 

Well, if it makes you feel any better, disciplined eating is not my specialty either. Lol :) What’s your favorite creative, but non-writing activity? 

I love to read, listen to music, shop at antique and thrift shops, make gift baskets, hang out with other creatives, and cook. 

Sounds like a great way to unwind and recharge. Thanks so much for joining us, Jennifer!

Thanks again, Karen!

Jennifer's Bio

Jennifer Brown Banks is a veteran freelance writer, award-winning blogger, writing instructor, and herbal tea lover. You can learn more about her at her blog, Pen and Prosper, or take her popular blogging classes at the Coffeehouse for Writers

More on Jennifer  

Stop by her blog and check out her book of poetry, 7 Wide, on Amazon. 


Just in Case You Didn't Know

The Coffeehouse for Writers offers quality, affordable online courses for writers at any level. Courses include Basic Boot Camp, Blogging for Profit or Pleasure, Making a Living as a Freelance Writer, Writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul, and Creating Characters. If those don't strike your fancy, CFW's classes also cover journaling, stress relief, editing your work in progress, and breaking into ebooks. For more info, visit the CFW site

Did you learn anything new about Jennifer? Have you ever taken any writing courses? What might we be surprised to learn about you?

Happy writing,
Karen

Friday, June 17, 2016

Book Review - No Other Will Do

No Other Will Do by Karen Witemeyer
Bethany House Publishers

Twenty something Emma Chandler, founder of the women’s colony in Harper’s Station, TX, is as spunky as they come. She is a champion of women, the sometimes battered, suffering casualties of society in 1894. Emma and her aunts created a safe haven for abused and homeless women, and the town is home to a bank, general store, cafĂ©, and boarding house, to name a few. Harper’s Station boasts no male residents. Just yet anyway.

Malachi Shaw is an explosives specialist working for the railroad in southern Montana. He had the privilege of living with Emma’s aunts when he was orphaned in his early teens.  He credits a young Emma with saving his life, and consequently they became fast friends. After he left Texas, he and Emma kept in touch through letters. Malachi promised Emma and the aunts he’d come if they ever needed anything.

There’s trouble brewing in Harper’s Station in the form of a masked man leaving threatening notes that say “Leave or die”. When he opens fire on the women during a meeting, Emma wires Malachi for help. Malachi drops everything and heads to Texas intent on helping the town’s residents.

The situation continues to heat up, literally, as the mysterious perpetrator continues to wreak havoc, setting fire to Harper’s Station’s church.  Folks in the nearby town of Seymour aren’t anxious to help, and the sheriff is occupied with cattle rustlers in the surrounding area.  So it’s up to Malachi, Emma, and the ladies to solve this life threatening puzzle.

In the meantime, Emma and Malachi get to know each other as adults, in person versus through letters, and find themselves increasingly attracted to each other. Malachi will do anything to keep Emma and those she cares about safe, and Emma is staunchly supportive of him as well. Not only are their crime fighting skills tested, but their convictions and faith in God are as well. To further complicate matters, Emma and Malachi believe that there is a traitor among the women. Someone is supplying the masked man with information and carrying out his tasks around town, including killing livestock.

Many secrets come to light as Emma and Malachi formulate a plan to meet the deadline the perpetrator has imposed. Tension mounts as precious hours tick away and lives hang in the balance. Will they catch the man responsible for the upheaval in Harper’s Station? I’ll give you a hint: this book has a happy ending in more ways than one, but it’s not without a wonderfully tense and action packed conclusion.

Ms. Witemeyer is a master at bringing the reader into the heart of the characters. I was engaged from the start, drawn to Emma and Malachi through their backstory and present challenges. Her characters are multifaceted individuals, real people to whom we can relate. The plot and setting are perfect complements to the characters, and she weaves rich historical detail throughout, further layering the story. It’s a wonderful balance of action, mystery, hope, despair, love, and faith that entertains and inspires.

I came away with not only the satisfaction of having read a wonderful story, but challenged to examine my own heart and faith as well. I hope Ms. Witemeyer continues this series of strong and inspiring women (and men!). This one gets two thumbs up!

Please note: I received this complimentary copy of No Other Will Do from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

What are you reading this summer?

Happy reading and writing, 

Karen

Monday, June 13, 2016

Meet the Blogger with Marja Meijers



June's Meet the Blogger features Marja Meijers, a talented author who lives in southern California and Holland. This globe trotting writer has written six books, which of course, are in print in the US and Netherlands. (How cool is that? :) 
  
Her latest book, Spirit of Truth, released this spring, asks "What is truth?" You might recall the Biblical account where Pilate questioned Jesus about this topic. Marja shares the historical background as she examines the definition of and the power within truth. Her gifted style resonates with readers across the globe, encouraging hearts as she challenges us to seek eternal truth.

Welcome Marja! Congratulations on your latest book! Can you tell us why you started blogging? How long have you had your current blog?  

Thank you, Karen, for having me on your blog, it is an honor and privilege. You were one of the very first bloggers I began to follow. When my first book ‘Sacred Sabbath’ came out my publisher recommended blogging. Believe it or not, but my first blog post is from May 16, 2006, I'm celebrating 10 years of blogging! 

Congratulations! What a wonderful milestone. Thank you for your kind words. It is an honor to hear that my blog was one of the first you followed. :) We have known each other for some time, haven't we? It's been a pleasure to follow your blog; I come away informed and refreshed. Would you share a bit about what your blog is about?  

The title of my blog, Fresh Insights on Ancient Truths, says it all: I am always trying to give a fresh perspective on certain Biblical truths and principles. Sometimes we have read a certain Bible passage so many times that we miss the clue. I always ask the Holy Spirit to bring a fresh wind and to help me to write about complicated things in a simple manner. From time to time I post news about my books. 

You do offer fresh insight and an interesting perspective. It always makes me think. What benefits have you gained through blogging? 

Well, first of all I receive so much encouragement from reading other blogs. It is amazing how often someone else’s blog post is timely for me! English is not my first language, so I also learn a lot from reading other posts, from the different words and styles. Being part of the blogging community has definitely helped me to develop my writing. I do feel a sense of belonging when I see how determined many bloggers are in their writing efforts, especially when it comes to the next step: publishing books. 

I wouldn't have known that English is your second language had I not learned that through your blog. I admire that! What projects are you working on right now?  

This month my sixth book came out: Spirit of Truth. Right now I am trying to decide what I should be working on next; another English book or a Dutch translation of one of my previous books. 

Sounds like you have many possibilities. I am sure whatever you choose will be a success. What might people be surprised to learn about you? 

Hmm…. Well, maybe that I sometimes struggle to hear from the Lord, because my head is so full of all the things I am working on. I then must force myself to let everything for what it is, grab my Bible and journal , go into my garden and let Him speak to me. Oh, and that we have no television in our house! 

It can be a challenge to get quiet and attain that peace and wisdom we need, I agree. What advice would you share with a newbie blogger? 

Keep your posts SHORT please and make sure to leave some comments on other people’s blogs. 

Excellent advice. Thank you for joining us, Marja! Wishing you well with your books and ministry. :)

About Marja 

Marja Verschoor-Meijers was born and raised in The Netherlands. She is a freelance writer, speaker and award winning author of several books on Christian living. Her books have been translated in Dutch, German, Italian, Spanish, Polish and Russian. Together with her husband Jan she is the co-founder of the non-profit organization Traveling Light. They offer practical help, financial support and spiritual encouragement to ministries all over Europe and the Middle East.
Spirit of Truth 

My Review of Spirit of Truth

Spirit of Truth begins with the Biblical account where Jesus stood before the Roman governor Pilate. Pilate asks, “What is truth?” It is an eternal and valid question, and Ms. Meijers examines it from numerous angles. She offers insight and a panoramic view of the topic, from Pilate and the Pharisees to those who knew Jesus from birth. Her fresh perspective reveals the deeper meaning and purpose of pursuing genuine truth.

Prior to reading this book, I had not considered interpreting truth from so many angles. I appreciated the challenge to examine how I view truth, as well as the encouragement to live accordingly. Readers will enjoy Ms. Meijer’s friendly, conversational style as she guides them on an insightful journey to define and apply Biblical truth in their lives. I recommend this book to anyone who is seeking truth, as well as those desiring a deeper relationship with the Lord.

Last Week's Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Susan Reinhardt, winner of Anchor in the Storm by Sarah Sundin!  

Have you ever traveled out of the US (or your home country)? Do you have any questions for Marja?

If you have a moment, hop over to Marja's blog where she hosted me for her Blogoversary's Bloggers@Work celebration. Have a great week!

Happy writing, 

Karen



Lemonade photo credit: Free Images

Monday, June 6, 2016

A Visit From Sarah Sundin

Since Sarah Sundin's newest book, Anchor in the Storm released last month, I thought it would be fun to hear about her latest story. Hope you enjoy visiting with Sarah as much as I do; it's always a treat to have her visit. In addition to great stories, her books offer inspiration and wonderful historical detail. She's graciously offered a paperback copy of Anchor in the Storm, so check out the giveaway details below.

Welcome back, Sarah. :) Congratulations on your newest book, Anchor in the Storm! Your stories are set in the WW2 era, both in the US and abroad. Where is this story located? How and why did you choose this setting? 

Thank you, Karen! Anchor in the Storm is set in Boston. The Waves of Freedom series required an East Coast city with a large naval presence and a Navy Yard. Since I have family in New England, I’ve visited Boston several times, and it’s one of our favorite cities. It’s so rich in history and color. When I found out US Navy destroyers were based in Boston, that sealed the deal!

Wow, sounds like wonderful way to vacation and research the story. What did your research entail? 

We tacked it on at the end of a family vacation. My husband had to return to California to work, but our teen son stayed with me an extra week. We visited most of the sites in the series, including the Charlestown Navy Yard and the Freedom Trail. I took pictures of trees and houses, much to teen son’s chagrin. We visited the National Archives in Boston (what a treat!). And we made the supreme sacrifice of sampling the Boston Cream Pie. 

It was good of you to make such a sacrifice for the the pie. Someone had to do it, right? Was there any particular scene or chapter that helped choose the title for this book?

I wanted to use the word anchor, not only for the nautical flair but for the meaning. The novel’s theme verse is Heb. 6:18-19: “We might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast.” When Revell came up with Anchor in the Storm, I hesitated—there were no storms in the story! However, I was still in the process of editing, so I added a squall to the climactic scene—and loved the result. 

Love that verse. It sounds perfect - I'll keep an eye out for that storm when I read the book. :) What are your favorite qualities about your main characters Lillian and Arch? 

Arch Vandenberg has been born into great wealth, but he’s determined to make his own way and to live a simple life. Meanwhile, Lillian Avery is always cheerful and driven, and she never lets anything slow her down. I really admire those qualities in them. 

Those are great attributes. You now have numerous published books to your credit. Is there anything that you know now that you wish you’d have known when you wrote your first book? 

As far as writing, not really. I made tons of mistakes with my first novel—so many that it will never be published. Nor should it be. However, if I’d known the “rules” beforehand, it would have paralyzed me and I never would have started. By writing one truly ugly rough draft, I learned I could finish a novel—which was vital for me. Then I learned the rules, and I applied them in the rewriting process. By the time I wrote my third novel, the rules became natural to me. 

I see your point. So I guess it's better to start out a little clueless, right? Lol Thanks so much for joining us. Wishing you many blessings your journey! 

Thank you Karen! 

More About Sarah

Sarah Sundin is the author of eight historical novels, including Anchor in the Storm. Her novel Through Waters Deep was named to Booklist’s “101 Best Romance Novels of the Last 10 Years,” and her novella “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” in Where Treetops Glisten was a finalist for the 2015 Carol Award. A mother of three, Sarah lives in California and works on-call as a hospital pharmacist.


A Peek at Anchor in the Storm 

For plucky Lillian Avery, America's entry into World War II means a chance to prove herself as a pharmacist in Boston. The challenges of her new job energize her. But society boy Ensign Archer Vandenberg’s attentions only annoy—even if he is her brother's best friend. 

During the darkest days of the war, Arch’s destroyer hunts German U-boats in vain as the submarines sink dozens of merchant ships along the East Coast. Still shaken by battles at sea, Arch notices his men also struggle with their nerves—and with drowsiness. Could there be a link to the large prescriptions for sedatives Lillian has filled? The two work together to answer that question, but can Arch ever earn Lillian's trust and affection? 

Visit Sarah
 
Website
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Giveaway Details

Sarah is giving away one paperback copy of Anchor in the Storm.

1) Open to U.S. residents only.  
2) Please comment, leaving your email address so I can contact you. 
3) I'd appreciate you following Write Now by Google Friend Connect or Facebook (see sidebar). 
4) Ends Thursday, June 9 at midnight Eastern Time. Winner will be notified by email and have 36 hours to respond or another name will be chosen.
 
What period in history interests you? Do you have any questions for Sarah? What projects are you working on this week?

Happy writing,
Karen