Tuesday, November 17, 2015

COTT: FREE Kindle! To Celebrate Five Years of COTT!



Happy Birthday, COTT! 

We're half a decade old!






To celebrate FIVE YEARS of Clash of the Titles, we're GIVING AWAY some fun gifts. 
You can win books by Gail Pallotta and Lisa Lickel, 
or even a KINDLE FIRE!!





Raffle opens right now!
Closes Monday, November 30.
There are several ways to enter the drawing outlined in the RaffleCopter below. Winners will be drawn and announced on December 2nd. 

Please note: All entries are optional, but
the more you rack up, the higher your odds of winning.
To boot, you're showing support of those who've donated prizes. Not to mention, some of the entries come with their very own freebies!

Thank you!

Check out all the ways to enter...!


*Our newsletters will not clog your inbox. We send updates VERY sparingly.*

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, November 9, 2015

COTT: And the Winner Is...


Congratulations to


A Noble Masquerade
by Kristi Ann Hunter!

Book Blurb:
Lady Miranda Hawthorne may long to break free of her ladylike expectations as he approaches spinsterhood, but finding herself intrigued by her brother's new valet is more rebellion than she planned. When she accidentally begins exchanging letters with a long-lost duke, things become even more complicated. Especially when hidden state secrets and dangerous encounters prove everything isn't exactly as it seems.

Reviews:
4 1/2 stars and Top Pick! from RT
Debut author Hunter pens a fantastic Regency romance. The characters are endearing and their motivations are not always what they might seem on the surface. This air of mystery adds depth to the tale. The romance portrayed is top notch and will cause readers to sigh with delight in the end.

A few words from our voters:
  • Kristi Ann Hunter is a fantastic author!
  • Go, go, go Kristi! Love the cover and the title!
  • Kristi Ann Hunter, i loved this book. great characters and wonderful story line.
  • Kristi Ann Hunter, you rock and your book is awesome! :D



Kristi shared the below information with us, too!

Book News:
An Elegant Facade, the sequel to A Noble Masquerade, is available for paperback pre-order on Amazon.

Book club prize packs are still available for book clubs that select A Noble Masquerade.
http://www.kristiannhunter.com/#!bookclubs/c1gbn


Ongoing Contests:
12 Books, 12 Winners Christian Historical Romance contest. A Noble Masquerade is one of the books that will be given away.
http://dawncrandall.blogspot.com/2015/11/win-one-of-twelve-new-paperback-releases.html?m=0

Caught You Reading Contest where you could win a sneak peek at my next novel.
http://www.kristiannhunter.com/#!contests/calh

Buy Links Available here: http://www.kristiannhunter.com/#!a-noble-masquerade/c190y 


Author Bio:
Kristi Ann Hunter graduated from Georgia Tech with a degree in Computer Science but always knew she wanted to write. Kristi is an RWA Golden Heart contest winner, an ACFW Genesis contest winner, and a Georgia Romance Writers Maggie Award for Excellence winner. She currently lives with her husband and three children in Georgia. Find her online at www.kristiannhunter.com

Monday, November 2, 2015

COTT's September Release Clash


Welcome back to our arena! We have six authors stepping onto our sands, ready to wield their mighty pens. Please look at each of their covers and descriptions and choose which one looks most appealing to you. Which would go on the top of your to-be-read pile? Be sure to make your choice in the actual survey, as those in the comments section alone won't be calculated into the results.

Let the game... BEGIN!
~~~

A Tide Worth Turning by Beth Wiseman:
In her newest novella, A Tide Worth Turning, author Beth Wiseman dives deep into the heart of a woman who is bound by what she believes to be true, and how she reacts when these false beliefs are brought to light.  The book is a fast read, with many dimensions of secrets and a love story that is pure and heartfelt giving readers a glimpse of how deep God's love is for us,  that forgiveness is a choice and how letting go of the past can set you free to love unconditionally.


Beyond the Cherokee Trail by Lisa Carter:
When Linden Birchfield arrives in the Snowbird Cherokee community to organize the 180th commemoration of the Trail of Tears, she runs head on—literally—into arrogant former army sniper Walker Crowe. A descendant of the Cherokee who evaded deportation by hiding in the rugged Snowbird Mountains, Walker believes no good can result from stirring up the animosity with the white Appalachian residents whose ancestors looted the tribal lands so long ago.


When Love Returns by Kim Vogel Sawyer:
Riddled with doubt, will Suzanne find strength in God to send her precious daughter on a search for her roots? And will lingering regrets rob Paul and Suzanne of a second chance at love?




The Isaac Project by Sarah Monzon:
With commitment their only foundation, and love constantly thwarted, can an arranged marriage find happiness in the twenty-first century?






The Lost Heiress by Roseanna M. White:
When Brook discovers she is an English heiress, it seems all her dreams of belonging have come true. That is, until a threat from her family's past resurfaces, jeopardizing her future--and her very life.





A Noble Masquerade by Kristi Ann Hunter:
Lady Miranda Hawthorne may long to break free of her ladylike expectations as she approaches spinsterhood, but finding herself intrigued by her brother's new valet is more rebellion than she planned. When she accidentally begins exchanging letters with a long-lost duke, things become even more complicated. Especially when hidden state secrets and dangerous encounters prove everything isn't exactly as it seems.

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Saturday, October 31, 2015

Books I'm Grateful I Read Giveaway Hop 2015



Books have been an important part of my life so it is difficult to pick a few and say these are the books I'm grateful I read. Instead, let me list some of my favorite authors along with links to their Amazon page.

James Michener

Jan Karon

Dee Henderson

If your name is selected, my gift to you will be your choice of one book (paperback or Kindle edition) written by one of these three authors.

Three winners will be selected randomly by Rafflecopter. You may enter the drawing more than once. See the following for details.

Ra Rafflecopter giveaway R

LL

Monday, October 19, 2015

COTT's 2015 Laurel Award Winner


2015
LAUREL AWARD WINNER!

On September 2, 2015, The Bound Heart took home Clash of the Titles's fifth annual Laurel Award. Over the course of six weeks, the novel's first chapters were read and judged by avid readers of Christian fiction who determined The Bound Heart to be the worthiest to receive the 
2015 Laurel Award.
Clash of the Titles extends a heartfelt congratulations to author Dawn Crandall for her exemplary writing. We wish God's richest blessings on her future work. 

About The Bound Heart:
One accidental kiss. That was all it took to throw Meredyth Summercourt’s world upside-down. Determined to marry the ever-elusive Vance Everstone, she simply doesn’t have the time or the desire to fall for her friend Lawry Hampton. However, with Vance out of the country and Lawry constantly at her side, Meredyth can’t help but wonder if what’s holding her to Vance is nothing more than a desire to redeem herself from their unfortunate past.


When Vance comes home to stake his claim on Meredyth, will she be strong enough to break free from the tangled web she’s convinced she deserves? Or will she find the strength to accept that God’s plan for her life could include redemption... and quite possibly the love of her best-friend?


About Dawn:

A graduate of Taylor University with a degree in Christian Education, and a former bookseller at Barnes & Noble, Dawn Crandall didn’t begin writing until 2010. That is the year she shared with her husband her long-time dream of writing books. He encouraged her to quit her job and to pursue her passion to write stories. Apart from writing books, Dawn also recently became a mother—she and her husband were blessed with a baby boy in March 2014. She also serves with her husband in a premarriage mentor program at their local church in Fort Wayne, Indiana.


Connect with Dawn online:

www.dawncrandall.blogspot.com
www.FaceBook.com/DawnCrandallWritesFirst
www.twitter.com/dawnwritesfirst
www.APassionforPages.blogspot.com
www.pinterest.com/dawnwritesfirst
dawncrandallwritesfirst@gmail.com

Monday, October 12, 2015

COTT: 2014 Olympia Winner Now Available for Purchase!

COTT's 2014 Olympia winner, Reclaimed, launched in September! Author Jennifer Rodewald is pleased to put this winning title in front of readers, especially the COTT judges who fell in love with her story.


About the book:
Suzanna Wilton has had a heavy share of heartache in her twenty-seven years. Left wounded by a marriage cut short, she leaves city life to take up residency in a tiny Nebraska town. Her introduction to her neighbor Paul Rustin is a disaster. Assuming he’s as underhanded as the other local cowboys she’s already met, Suzanna greets him with sharp hostility. 

Though Paul is offended by Suzanna’s unfriendliness, he can’t stop thinking about her, which unsettles his peaceful life. Intrigued by the woman who lives down the road and propelled by a sense that she carries a painful burden, he frequently drops by to offer help as she adjusts to rural living.
Just as Paul’s kindness begins to melt Suzanna’s frozen heart, a conflict regarding her land escalates in town. Even in the warmth of Paul’s love, resentment keeps a cold grip on her fragile heart. 

Will Suzanna ever find peace?

PURCHASE

Q: Jennifer, what message or theme do you hope readers will take with them after reading Reclaimed?

A: I put up a promo meme the other day on my Facebook page. This one:


One of my friends posted this response: so thankful He does.
That’s it. Right there. 
I write women’s fiction with strong threads of romance, but my heart’s desire is always to point to the romance of heaven, to reflect back to the King’s heart toward his reclaimed bride. He knows every wound, small and festering or fresh and gaping, and He LOVES us. He holds out hope and healing, He waits for us to run into his arms with our heartaches. I think almost every woman’s heart longs for the love of a good man, but ultimately our thirst is for Love. Agape Love, the kind that pours out from heaven to satisfy our thirsty hearts.

About the author:
Jennifer Rodewald is passionate about the Word of God and the powerful vehicle of story. The draw to fiction has tugged hard on her heart since childhood, and when she began pursuing writing she set on stories that reveal the grace of God.

Jen lives and writes in a lovely speck of a town where she watches with amazement while her children grow up way too fast, gardens, and marvels at God’s mighty hand in everyday life. Four kids and her own personal superman make her home in southwestern Nebraska delightfully chaotic.

She would love to hear from you! Please visit her at authorjenrodewald.com or  www.facebook.com/authorjenrodewald.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Finding Free Books Faster

I was on Goodreads yesterday looking at who had a copy of my books. I was surprised when I found one person who claimed to have more than 8,000 books on her Kindle. I'm not sure of the book limit for a Kindle, but I know you don't have to have all your books on the physical device.

When Amazon first came out with free books for the Kindle, I grabbed every book that even came close to something I may read one day. Before I knew it, I had more than a THOUSAND books. 

I now have so many books on my Kindle, I'll probably never read them all. 

To limit the number of books I get and to improve the possibility that I will actually read a book downloaded, I've come up with a method to find free books. Here's how it works.

Instead of subscribing to the electronic newsletters announcing free books, I periodically (weekly is probably best) look for books I like to read. My favorite fiction is Thriller/Mystery/Suspense. So, I select a book in that category, M.K. Gilroy's Cold As Ice, for example, and find it on Amazon.com. Next, click on Kindle Edition, scroll down to where it says "Look for Similar Items by Category" (near the bottom of the page). Look for the tag that matches your interest. In this example, it will look like this:


Click on Suspense. This will take you to a page showing a long list of books in the Christian Suspense category. Look on the far right side of the page where it says "Sort by" and select "Price Low to High" from the pull-down list. When you do you'll see the list sorted with the cheapest books on top. Naturally, the free ones are shown first. If you decide to "buy" one, make sure it is still free when you get to the page to buy it. If you already own it, Amazon will warn you before you buy it.

Oh darn, I just ordered ten more books while I was there researching this article. And, here's something else to watch out for, the last one I ordered was $.99 and I didn't notice. I can ask for a refund, but for a buck it's hardly worth the effort.

Have fun.

Another way to get free books is to check for GIVEAWAYS. These have deadlines so do it quickly.



COTT: Winner of COTT's September Clash!


Congratulations to...

by Mary Ellis

About the book:

What Lies Beneath the Black Water of the Bayou?

Hunter Galen, a New Orleans securities broker, suspects his business partner, James Nowak, of embezzling their clients’ money, but he’s reluctant to jeopardize their friendship. After James turns up dead, Hunter realizes his unwillingness to confront a problem may have cost James his life.
Nicki Price, a newly minted PI, intends to solve the stockbroker’s murder as she establishes herself in the career she adores. As she ferrets out fraud and deception at Galen-Nowak Investments, Hunter’s fiancée, Ashley Menard, rubs her the wrong way. Nicki doesn’t trust the ostentatious woman who seems to be hiding something, but is the PI’s growing attraction to Hunter—the police’s only suspect—her true reason for disliking Ashley?

As Hunter and Nicki encounter sophisticated shell games, blackmail, and death threats both subtle and overt, danger swirls around them like the mysterious dark water of the bayou. Only their reliance on faith and fearless determination give them hope they will live to see another day.

PURCHASE


What COTT voters had to say:
--I normally enjoy reading mostly Amish fiction. But, because Mary Ellis is such a wonderful writer, I would choose Midnight on the Mississippi.
--Mary Ellis, Looking forward to reading this.! Congratulations !
--Love to read books written by Mary Ellis. She writes great stories.
--Mary Ellis as with all your books i love this one too, you amaze me each time i read one of your books, they just get better and better
--Mary Ellis, wishing you much success with this one!
--Just love Mary Ellis writing style and always look forward to new releases !!
--Love your books, Mary! Best of luck with MIDNIGHT ON THE MISSISSIPPI!
--Go Mary Ellis! Your books are always wonderful
--Mary Ellis pulls you into the story in the first few pages!
--Mary Ellis, love her work. She writes a character so well, you can feel like you know them, and you can't wait to see what's on the next page.
About the author:
Mary has written twelve bestselling Amish fiction novel along with three historical romances. She is currently working on a romantic suspense series called Secret of the South mysteries for Harvest House Publishers. First of the series, Midnight on the Mississippi is set in New Orleans and was given 4 1/2 stars by RT Book Reviews. Book two, What Happened on Beale Street, is set in Memphis and will release in March. She is a former middle school teacher and lives in Ohio with her husband, dog and cat. She can be found on the Internet at her Website or on FaceBook.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Celebrating the 60th Amazon Review for THE VENGEANCE SQUAD


In celebration of the 60th Amazon review for THE VENGEANCE SQUAD, I've lowered the price for the Kindle edition from $2.99 to $1.99.

This is temporary, so get your copy soon!

When Chris McCowan's fiancée, 24-year-old Sarah Eason, is killed during a bizarre robbery near Austin, Texas, an unlikely trio teams up to find those responsible for her death. The trio, Chris, a 31-year-old computer science professor, Percy "Tex" Thompson, a 40-year-old wheelchair bound ex-con student of Chris', and 65-year-old head librarian Liz Siedo, pool their talents to find the criminals after local law enforcement agencies have given up.

Chris wants an eye for an eye even if it means giving up God and the church where he and Sarah were to be married. He sets out to learn the tricks of the trade from his ex-con student, all while continuing to teach and coming to terms with his grief. Angela, who claims to be an FBI agent, joins the Vengeance Squad to help the three find the killers.

Sidney W. Frost is a former computer science professor, ex-marine, and author of Where Love Once Lived, a prize winning inspirational novel.

Monday, September 14, 2015

COTT: Thoughts from an Award-Winning Author: Q and A with Sylvia Bambola

This week we're proud to introduce Sylvia Bambola and her beautiful book, The Daughters of Jim Farrell! With a wonderfully unique background and several published novels to her name, see the advice she offers other writers.

First, a peek at her latest book:

The Daughters of Jim Farrell by Sylvia Bambola

Pennsylvania 1873: When, in the harsh world of Pennsylvania coal country, Jim Farrell is hanged for murder, his wife and three daughters must turn their beautiful home into a boarding house in order to survive. But struggling beneath the shadow of shame becomes too much for eldest daughter, Kate, who resolves to clear her father’s name, and in spite of her mother’s admonition to “let it go,” convinces her sisters to help. All too soon their dangerous quest rips the family apart. Will it also cost them the men they love?


Q&A with Sylvia:

Q. What are the main themes in your new historical novel, The Daughters of Jim Farrell?

A. There are a few but I’ll mention only three. The first, and I believe the most important, is the issue of forgiveness even in the face of the ultimate sin—that of having a loved one killed unjustly. All of us will have opportunities in our lives to forgive wrongs. And the importance of doing so cannot be understated. Jesus says in Luke 6:37 “Forgive and ye shall be forgiven.” That’s a stunner. And means what it says. So we cannot afford to harbor unforgiveness of any kind. And forgiveness isn’t a feeling, it’s an act of will.

Another theme is the tension between labor and management. And this tension seems to be intensifying as politicians seek to divide us by income and pit us against each other. The Bible cautions us that “if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” Labor needs management (and entrepreneurs, etc) to create jobs and management needs labor in order to make their companies successful. We are ONE nation under God. We need each other to succeed.

Finally, what family hasn’t seen its share of sibling rivalry? The Daughters of Jim Farrell touches on this as the three sisters struggle to find their identity and place in the family.

Q. What is the one thing that influences your writing the most?

A. In a word—Scripture. The thing I love about writing fiction is that it’s a nonthreatening way to share spiritual truths. Like the parables in the Bible, story and characters can bring these truths to life.

Q. You now have eight published novels. What would you say to those writers just starting out?

A. I would make these four recommendations:

1) Get connected. That means join a critique group, go to writing conferences and become an on-line member of associations like ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and others.

2) Learn your craft. Take no short cuts here. Learn and employ good writing techniques and understand that good writing means LOTS of rewriting.

3) Learn about marketing. You the author will be required to do most of it even if you are fortunate enough to be picked up by one of the Big-5 traditional publishers.

4) And finally, NEVER give up. This is generally a long and bumpy road full of ups and downs. I personally don’t know any “overnight wonders” those who have taken about a year to write their first book which then becomes an over night success. Most published authors have written for years before getting published. Remember, the spoils go to those who persevere. 

Meet the author:

Born in Romania, Sylvia Bambola lived her early years in Germany. At seven she relocated with her adopted family and saw the Statue of Liberty and America for the first time. But the memory of those years in post World War Germany inspired her to write Refiner’s Fire, which won a Silver Angel Award, and was a Christy Finalist. Her frequent moves as an “army brat” gave her an opportunity to see America and fall in love with her new country. Bambola has authored eight novels, has two grown children, and teaches women’s Bible studies.

Connect with Sylvia Bambola:

website: http://www.sylviabambola.com/books
goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/83706.Sylvia_Bambola
facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Sylvia-Bambola/78754640991
twitter: https://twitter.com/sylviabambola
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Daughters-Jim-Farrell-Sylvia-Bambola/dp/0989970787/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1435785514&sr=1-1&keywords=the+daughters+of+jim+farrell
Barnsandnoble.com:
http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-daughters-of-jim-farrell-sylvia-bambola/1122239437?ean=9780989970785

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

COTT: Announcing the 2015 Laurel Award!



2015 LAUREL AWARD WINNER

Author Dawn Crandall's novel 
The Bound Heart
is the winner of Clash of the Titles's fifth annual Laurel Award.



CONGRATULATIONS, DAWN!

Dawn will receive the following: a beautiful banner to display on her website; a year-long page on COTT dedicated to the winning book, The Bound Heart; a "Heart of the Matter" radio interview with author and Christian Authors Guild board member, Cynthia L Simmons; a feature tour on COTT's Blog Alliance; a lovely plaque.

The Bound Heart was chosen by a panel of judges who narrowed the list of competing novels to three. From there, the panel put their choices to a straight vote. Dawn's novel, The Bound Heart, took home the crown.

Special thanks to each of our judges who volunteered their time to this contest!

BRIEF SUMMARY OF The Bound Heart
One accidental kiss from Lawry Hampton. That was all it took to throw Meredyth Summercourt's world upside-down. Determined to marry the ever-elusive Vance Everstone, she simply doesn't have the time or the desire to fall for her best friend...

Stay tuned for the full-length feature of Dawn's winning novel, The Bound Heart!



Monday, August 31, 2015

Blog Hop: September is for Sequels


JOIN THE FUN!

AND WIN SOME GREAT PRIZES
HERE PLUS OTHER PARTICIPATING BLOGS


CHRISTIAN BOOKMOBILE IS GIVING AWAY A FREE COPY 
(KINDLE OR PAPERBACK)

THE SEQUEL TO

***

IT'S EASY TO ENTER!


Next, go to other participating blogs.

LLL
LLL



Sunday, August 30, 2015

COTT: And this clash goes to...


A BRIDE AT LAST by Melissa Jagears! Abandoned by his mail-order bride, Silas Jonesey has fought an uphill battle to recover from a pattern of poor choices. Now his prayers for reconciliation have finally come true and his estranged wife has contacted him with her whereabouts. Kate Dawson was supposed to be a mail-order bride, but upon realizing she'd been deceived about her intended groom, she's now settled into life as a schoolteacher. When the mother of a student passes away, Kate assumes she'll take on care of nine-year-old Anthony--until two men suddenly show up in town, claiming to be the boy's father. Silas can see Anthony loves Kate, so he enlists her help in reaching out to the boy and attempting to prove his paternity to the court. When a common interest in Anthony leads to an interest in each other and Silas and Kate begin to think they can overcome their rocky start, neither is prepared for the secrets and past hurts that have yet to come to light. Can Silas, Kate, and Anthony's wounded souls bind them together or will all that stands between them leave them lonely forever? 








Here's what Publisher's Weekly has to say: 

In [Jagears'] latest novel [A Bride at Last], . . . the characters are all well-balanced and engaging: Silas' struggle with his failed marriage, struggling faith, and dark past makes him sympathetic; Kate's commitment to Anthony gives her depth and pathos; and their romance develops realistically . . . a memorable read for fans of redemptive historical romances.

Check out her upcoming release, With This Ring?

A historical novella compilation of four award winning authors - Karen Witemeyer, Mary Connealy, Regina Jennings and Melissa Jagears Four top historical romance novelists team up in this new collection to offer stories of love and romance with a twist of humor. In Karen Witemeyer's "The Husband Maneuver," Marietta Hawkins decides to grab the reins when the ranch foreman she loves seems to be leaving forever. Regina Jennings offers "Her Dearly Unintended," where friends stranded by a rising river pretend to be newlyweds when a dangerous stranger arrives. Mary Connealy's "Runaway Bride" finds a Texas ranger getting more than he expected when he rescues a young woman fleeing a dangerous arranged marriage. And Melissa Jagears' "Engaging the Competition" finds a young woman forced to assist the man she's often sparred with after an accident leaves him helpless. Each tale is a fun blend of history and romance that will delight readers.

Find it here on Amazon

About Melissa:

Melissa Jagears is a homeschooling mom who writes Christian Historical Romance after everyone is asleep. She’s the author of the Unexpected Brides Series with Bethany House. The prequel ebook novella, Love by the Letter is free to try. You can learn more about her, her books, and where she hangs out online at www.melissajagears.com

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Beginnings that Grab the Reader and Carry Her Along to the Last Page.



I gave a talk in Mexia, Texas about my writing journey. It seems everywhere I go there are people who want to write a book. In this group of 12-15, three were writing. I told them how I got started, the classes I took, the organizations I belong to, and the importance of joining a critique group.

I also talked about ways to organize a novel to keep the reader interested from start to finish. This lead to a discussion of the importance of the first scene. Writers tend to start the book a few pages, sometimes chapters, before the action begins. In my first book, Where Love Once Lived, I stripped off page after page of the beginning while at the Yosemite Writers' Conference preparing to read from my work in process the next day.

I did more stripping and editing when I got home. Here's what I ended up with:

Karen felt loved on Tuesdays.

She was fifty-three and divorced with a college-aged daughter at home who’d probably flee the nest soon, leaving Karen to live alone. She’d missed her chance for happiness. Still, she wasn’t sad. Teaching and her volunteer work as a lay minister, hospital chaplain, and member of her church choir fulfilled her. To be honest, she wanted more. She wanted the special kind of love she felt on Tuesdays.



This is not great, but it's not bad for a first novel. Readers should want to know why Karen felt loved on Tuesdays and, perhaps, wonder how she'd missed her chance for happiness. She seems to have a good life, but something is missing. They learn a little about her, age, family, job, church, etc., without getting bogged down in too much backstory.

My second novel, The Vengeance Squad, is written in first person with a young male protagonist. There is a prologue, too short to warrant chapter formatting, which I placed above the Chapter One beginning. See how this grabs you. Would you want to read more?



I’ll never forget the look on her face. It sustained me for months afterward. Without the memories, I wouldn’t have survived.



Chapter One


Sometimes it worried me because I thought I must be wrong, but there were times I could read her mind. I’d heard stories about couples who had been married for years who experienced a level of silent communication, but Sarah and I had known each other for only two years. Perhaps it was the intensity of love for one another rather than the length of time together that made the difference. Quite honestly, the love we shared was stronger than I believed possible. It was as if God brought us together and blessed the joining of two faithful servants of the Lord. I thanked Him daily for that.


The prologue gives us a glimpse into the future and, hopefully, a desire to know what happens. The first paragraph of Chapter One gives the reader an understanding of how in love the narrator is.

Love Lives On, my third novel, is a sequel to Where Love Once Lived. It also ties in some of the characters from The Vengeance Squad. I don't call them sequels because each will stand alone. However, I think readers would enjoy them more if the books are read in chronological order.

Here's how Love Lives On begins:

Karen Williams was fifty-four and divorced for so long she'd given up hope for that special marriage everyone talked about, but few probably had experienced. Then, a year ago, her life changed. Her college sweetheart charged back into her life, acting as if he'd never stopped loving her. He was waiting for her at the altar now as she touched up her makeup in the bride's room of her church.
She hurried to apply mascara, but her right hand wouldn't be still. The pencil hit the table with a soft clunk. Tears followed. Tears from nowhere. A glance into the mirror showed mascara running down both cheeks. What was happening?
Was it that feeling of unworthiness that crept in when she least expected it? Couldn't be. God had forgiven her long ago, but she would never forget what had happened. Second thoughts? Definitely not. She loved Brian and he loved her. He would never do anything to hurt her. Not again.


This excerpt is a little longer because the backstory was necessary to remind readers of the last book or to introduce Karen to new readers. It was her wedding day. Why was she crying? What did she do that caused her to need God's forgiveness? What had Brian done before to hurt her? Will the wedding go on as scheduled?

Presenting questions at the beginning will cause the reader to seek answers by continuing to read.

My fourth novel, The Vengeance Squad Goes to England begins this way:

Tex removed his ten-gallon cowboy hat, swiped his brow and leaned back in his wheelchair to get his hug. I stood behind him knowing I'd be next. But nothing happened. Liz sat at the end of the conference table with her head in her hands.
My friend and former computer science student, Tex Thompson, locked his eyes on mine and I stared back at him in disbelief. Something was wrong. Liz Siedo, the happiest librarian in the world, the person who accepted God's will in every situation and hugged everyone who came within five feet of her, was either sick or depressed.




When I give talks, I tell people not to try to write the perfect beginning before finishing the rest of chapter one. If you do, you'll never finish the book. Write the whole thing and then come back and rewrite the first chapter. Often, my characters have something to say about the endings and the results lead to the need to make changes to the beginning. For example, when I wrote Murder in Sun City I didn't know who the killer was until I was halfway through the book. This caused a need to change the beginning. Here's the original opening:

"Liz! Are you okay?"
I looked up at Margie and wondered if I was. I wiggled around before I answered. "Nothing seems to be broken. I guess I'm lucky I landed on my God-made cushion."
I could tell Margie was amused by my comment because she was clearly trying not to make light of my mishap. So I laughed to let her know it was okay. I'd never been embarrassed by my ample bottom and was rather pleased with the way it broke my fall today. I wished I hadn't left my coat in the bookmobile, but it was such a short walk to Sharon's house.
Margie laughed. "Well that's good to hear. When I saw you slipping and sliding on that iced driveway, I knew you'd end up falling. "Watching you throw books into the air like that was the funniest thing I've seen in some time. Then she sobered. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't be laughing at your fall."
"That's okay. Glad to brighten your day. Besides, I'm not hurt. Just not sure how to get up."


Besides the unexpected turn of events as I got into the book, there were other reasons to change this beginning. It just didn't grab me.

I should explain that this is the first in the so-called bookmobile series where the reader sees things through Liz's eyes. If you've read the other books, you know she is large, but happy and confident. So this beginning is to let you know she sees herself the same way other people see her. It's okay, but it is irrelevant to the story. It doesn't ask questions. It doesn't cause the reader to want to keep reading. Hopefully, the revision below does:


Margie was waiting on the icy driveway as I parked the bookmobile in front of Sharon's house. Had she been crying?
I climbed out and gave her a hug. "Are you okay?"
She held on a little longer than usual. "I'm okay."
I pushed away and looked into her eyes. "Something's wrong. You've been crying."
"No." She brushed at her eyes with a gloved hand. "Must be from the cold."
I knew she needed to talk. "Why don't you wait in the bookmobile and get warm? I brought those books you asked for."
"Okay." Margie didn't look at me as she spoke. "I guess you should see Sharon first."
I stepped into the library and picked up the five books I'd brought for Sharon and a white paper bag.
Margie moved back to give me space. "What's in the bag?"
"Some scones for Sharon. I got them at the library coffee shop while I was loading books this morning."
"Scones?"
"Hey. Come with me." I held up the bag. "Carry this for me. I've got enough for all of us."



I will probably change this more before it is published, but I think this works better. What do you think?

If you are a reader only or a writer and reader, check some of your favorite books and see if the magic began on page one.


I talked about this in a previous post where I included the openings of some Pulitzer Prize winners. See Pulitzer Prize First Sentences. Some are better than others. What do you think? Would you read the books based on beginnings, or only because it won the Pulitzer Prize?

Monday, August 24, 2015

COTT: The July Clash is on!

Beautiful New July Covers!

Welcome, fellow book lovers! As we wrap up summer, we're bringing you four wonderful reads to take out on your deck chair. From the mountains to the rugged west, these books offer a great variety of escapes. But if you could only pick one, which would make it into your need-to-read pile? Vote at the end--and don't forget to leave a kind word for your favorite author.



The Lady and the Mountain Fire by Misty M. Beller 
Claire Sullivan's desire to help others carried her all the way to the Montana Territory to care for her blind grandmother, but the callous, hardworking doctor she meets there doesn't fit her expectations. When disaster strikes their rough mining city, Claire must face her her greatest fear to help the man she's come to love.
Purchase on Amazon




A Bride At Last by Melissa Jagears
Silas and Kate are both wary of love after failed mail-order engagements, but when a common interest in a motherless boy leads to an interest in each other, they begin to think they can set aside past hurts. However, neither is prepared for the secrets that have yet to come to light.
Purchase on Amazon




To Soar on Eagle's Wings by Renee Blare
While the sun shines in Timber Springs, snow falls on the Snowy Range, and trouble’s brewing in the meadows. The area’s new game warden, Steve Mitchell launches his first wildlife investigation of the season, but the trouble follows him—straight to town.




The Daughters of Jim Farrell by Sylvia Bambola
Pennsylvania 1873: When Jim Farrell is hanged for murder, his three daughters resolve to clear his name. But all too soon their dangerous quest rips the family apart and could cost them the men they love.



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