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Thursday, March 21, 2013

I've moved!

Hi. I notice a couple of people are still stopping by this site, so wanted to let you know that if you should stumble onto it by accident, I'm not here anymore! Find Patti's porch at www.pattishene.com. Come on by and let me know you've been there with a comment! Thanks!

Monday, December 3, 2012

News From Nashville & Beyond

Once in a while, an author offers readers an in depth view of her work. Author Staci Stallings does just that as she takes us to Nashville for an interview with the main characters in her book, Cowboy.

Wait til you see the special offer Staci has after the interview!

News From Nashville & Beyond

Character Interview with Ashton Raines and Kalin Lane

(Transcribed from a television interview with “The Music Plays… World Tour” featuring opening solo artist Kalin Lane and headliner Ashton Raines, both accompanied by their wives, Beth Raines and Danae Lane.)

NFNB:  First of all, welcome to you all.  Thanks for sitting down with us.

Ashton:  Thank you for having us.

NFNB:  Let’s start with what it’s like to be on a world tour.  What cities?  What are the crowds like?

Kalin:  Well, for me it’s been an absolute dream come true.  I mean, getting invited to be here with Ashton who, let’s face it is the King of Country music right now.  Standing on that stage every night, hearing the fans singing my songs, cheering, in all these different countries…. it’s truly amazing.

Ashton:  I have to agree.  I stand down there as Kalin’s playing, and there’s just this incredible energy that sweeps through the whole place, no matter if we’re playing for 20,000 or 60,000.  To hear those fans, to get to connect with them.  It’s what I came here to do, it’s why I started singing in the first place, and to get to do it night after night has been such a blessing.

NFNB:  How’s it been working together?  The two of you play country music, but it’s really not quite the same kind of country.

Ashton (laughing): Yeah. I could never pull off the hair!  (Reaches over and ruffles Kalin’s famously stringy blond mane then shrugs.)  But it works, you know?  I play the more traditional stuff, Kalin rocks the house, it works.

Kalin:  I have to agree. I think it has really come together because we’re not two performers who happen to get on the same stage every night.  We really understand each other and respect each other for what life has thrown at us and the hard knocks it’s taken us to be able to play from the heart so to speak.  So it doesn’t matter that he plays the acoustic and piano, and I’ve got more electric and keyboards to my style of music because I think deep down we both really see that we’re doing what we love to do, making the kind of music we love to make.  When you do that, somehow the synthesis of what comes out of it just works even if on the outside it doesn’t look like it should.

NFNB:  You mentioned what life has thrown at you.  Would you call the road to get here bumpy or smooth?

(Ashton looks to Beth who smiles back, and Kalin grins at Danae who brushes her brown locks from her forehead and shakes her head with a soft laugh.)

All:  Bumpy.


Ashton:  Definitely bumpy.  (Beth nods, her eyes filled with respect and love as she looks at her husband, and the two of them share a moment.  When he turns back to the camera, Ashton seems to drift into another world.)  After my first wife died of cancer, there was a long stretch in there that honestly I didn’t even want to be here.  I mean here as in making music here, but even here as in on the planet.  Then one night I wound up in this little diner in the middle of nowhere (He looks over to Beth.)  And an angel from Heaven pulled me back and gave me a reason to keep on living.  (As if no one else is watching, he leans over and kisses.)  Thank you, babe (he whispers so the camera barely catches the words. Then he turns back.)  To be real honest, I’m not even sure I’d be here without her.

NFNB:  So Beth, what was it like?  I mean, he is Ashton Raines.  It’s like every girl’s dream to have the king of music to walk in and sweep you off your feet.  That must have been surreal.

(They glance at each other.)

Beth:  Well, to be honest with you, I didn’t even know who he was that night.

NFNB:  You didn’t?

Beth:  No, really I didn’t. It’s a long story, but let’s just say I fell in love with a man, not a music star.

NFNB: Okay.  Well… (Turning to the other couple.) Kalin, you also said bumpy.  Now we know a little about your career’s early fits and starts what with having to go back to your home country the first time around.  What was that like?

Kalin:  Rough.  Really, really rough.  To be honest with you, that first time I let the fame and the money and the adulation of all the people around me go straight to my head.  I fell in with a lifestyle I thought was great at first, but it caught up with me real fast.  When I lost everything–the dream, my meal ticket in Nashville and almost my life–I thought it was all over, you know?  Back then, there was no way I could have seen the amazing grace God was waiting to give me and the joy and the mercy and the grace He gives me every day now.  Getting to be here now, like this, with the Raines family, and my beautiful wife. (He turns to Danae and smiles.  She smiles back.)  I’m telling you it’s more than a dream come true.  In fact, it’s the reason I sing “Lucky” every night out there on stage.

That line about, “And it’s not fate, it’s not luck, it’s a gift from God above, that I found you, you found me, and we found love”?  Those aren’t just nice, pretty words. I really believe that, you know?  Because if it was not for God and the love of this wonderful, strong woman sitting next to me, I can almost guarantee I would not be sitting here today.  It’s more grace and love than I’ve ever deserved or imagined, I’ll tell you that.

NFNB:  Well, it’s almost time to wrap this up.  Closing thoughts, anyone?

Ashton:  The tour’s been amazing.  The fans, the cities, the experiences.  All out amazing.

Kalin:  Come out and see the show!

NFNB:  That’s it for now from News from Nashville & Beyond.  Now back to you in the studio.

Copyright Staci Stallings, 2012

Staci Stallings, the author of this article, is a #1 Best Selling Contemporary Christian Romance author and the founder of Grace & Faith Author Connection. Staci has a special surprise for you today and tomorrow only...

December 4 & 5


"One of the most gripping contemporary romances I've read in the past three years."  
--Michelle Sutton, Amazon Top 1,000 Reviewer

Timothy Ashton Raines is at the top of his game and the end of his rope until one night, he walks away from everything...

Available today as a free download from Amazon!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

An 1830's Thanksgiving

Ever wonder how our ancestors in 1830 celebrated Thanksgiving? Donna Winters shares what she has learned while researching her new novel.

For the past couple of years, I've been steeped in the history of 1830 for the writing of my latest historical novel, Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal. The story takes place in my hometown of Brockport, New York, and along the Erie Canal. With Thanksgiving a few days away, I got to wondering what the holiday would have been like for the characters in my story. In researching Thanksgiving in 1830, several delightful traditions surfaced which are not part of our modern-day practice.

My characters would have started their day with a church service. While some churches today hold Thanksgiving Day services, the vast majority with which I am familiar do not. The sermon, we can assume, would have focused on God’s provision for which the congregants could give thanks. It might also have focused on the history of the locale and or the parish. The latter was the case with the sermon I discovered at the Library of Congress website (link below). The sermon was dated Dec. 2, 1830, reminding me that in 1830, Thanksgiving was not a national holiday. Back then, each state’s governor would annually write a proclamation for Thanksgiving. While the week of the holiday could vary from state to state,it would always fall on a Thursday in late November or early December.

After church service, my characters would have returned home for a sumptuous feast. Their relatives for miles around would have joined them. The menu would have included several types of meat, not just turkey. By the way, the turkey wouldn't have been a plump butterball-type like we know today, but would have likely weighed ten to fifteen pounds at most, having thinned down under the strain of being driven (on foot) several miles to market.

The bird would have been cooked over an open hearth fire dangling by a string which rotated it, or in a new-fangled invention called a “tin kitchen” or reflector oven with a spit that turned. The stuffing for the turkey probably included many of the same ingredients we use today, and a few less common ones: chopped bread, beef suet, eggs, wine, salt, pepper, sage, and parsley.

One delightful dish that would have accompanied the feast, but is virtually unknown today, is Marlborough Pudding. This is much like our custard pie with a few additional delights such as pureed apples, lemon juice, and wine. The “pudding” wasn’t considered a dessert, but a main dish that was served alongside the meats and vegetables. In addition, the meal likely included hot slaw – braised shredded cabbage served with vinegar, salt, and pepper –and mincemeat pie containing real meat (beef) as well as suet, apples, raisins, and spices.

Now for the best part of Thanksgiving Day – a wedding. Since the harvest season was now over and the extended family had gathered in one place, Thanksgiving Day weddings were common. I can imagine my hero or heroine celebrating the wedding of one of their siblings on Thanksgiving Day. The groom would wear his tailcoat, the bride her best Sunday-go-to-meeting dress. The preacher who had expounded on the blessings of the Lord or the origin of the locale in his morning sermon, would arrive to unite the romantic couple in holy wedlock. What a delightful way to spend Thanksgiving afternoon!

To learn more about an 1830 Thanksgiving, watch the feast at Old Sturbridge Village here (approx. 3 min.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrJYS9nD2w0

You can get the recipes for stuffing and Marlborough Pudding, and watch them being created here (approx. 8 min.) http://www.wwlp.com/dpp/mass_appeal/taste/authentic-1830s-thanksgiving-day-feast

You can read the original text of the Thanksgiving Day sermon delivered on Dec. 2, 1830 at Ware First Parish (Congregational), Ware, Mass., here: http://archive.org/details/historicalsermon00reed

What about your Thanksgiving Day? Do you have favorite recipes, games, or other traditions you look forward to each year

You can connect with Donna at the following links:

http://www.greatlakesromances.com wholesome fiction for readers 12 and up
Facebook Profile: Donna Winters
Facebook Book Page: Great Lakes Romances

Here’s a little about Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal. (You can buy Bluebird of Brockport for 99 cents (Kindle) or in paperback format at http://ow.ly/eWu9y)

Dreams of floating on the Erie Canal have flowed through Lucina Willcox’s mind since childhood. Yet once her family has purchased their boat and begins their journey, they meet with one challenge after another. An encounter with a towpath rattlesnake threatens her brother’s life. A thief attempts to break in and steal precious cargo. Heavy rain causes a breach and drains the canal of water. Lucina comforts herself with thoughts of Ezra Lockwood, her handsome childhood friend, and discovers a longing to be with him that she just can’t ignore. Can she have a future with Ezra and still hold onto her canalling dream?

Ezra Lockwood’s one goal in life is to build and captain his own canal boat, but two years into the construction of his freight hauler, funds run short. With his goal temporarily stalled, and Lucina Willcox back in his life, his priorities begin to change. Can he have both his dreams — his own boat, and Lucina as his bride?

Donna adopted Michigan as her home state in 1971 when she moved from a small town outside of Rochester, New York. She began penning novels in 1982 while working full time for an electronics firm in Grand Rapids. 
She resigned from her job in 1984 following a contract offer for her first book. Since then, Thomas Nelson Publishers, Zondervan Publishing House, Guideposts, and Bigwater Publishing have published her novels. Her husband, Fred, a former American History teacher, shares her enthusiasm for history. Together, they visit historical sites, restored villages, museums, and lake ports, purchasing books and reference materials for use in Donna’s research.
Donna has written fifteen historical romances for her Great Lakes Romances® series. Recently, she turned her attention to her hometown on the Erie Canal and produced an historical novel, Bluebird of Brockport, A Novel of the Erie Canal, which released as a paperback in June, and has now been offered in Kindle format for 99 cents. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Introducing K Dawn Byrd's Amazing Love

I've been tweeting about this one for several days. Now it's time to give my readers a closer look at K Dawn Byrd and her new release, Amazing Love.

Welcome, Dawn! Tell us about your latest release and what you think readers will enjoy about it.

My latest release, Amazing Love, is the modern story of Hosea and Gomer. It was a tough story to write because my heroine suffers severe consequences for her sins, but it was necessary to portray how low we can go and how much God still loves us through it all. I hope readers will take away the fact that no matter what we do, God loves us with an unconditional love and is ready to accept us back into His loving arms.

What would you like readers to take away from your book?

Amazing Love is the modern-day version of the Hosea and Gomer story from the Bible. I'd like for readers to take away that God loves us with an unconditional love. My heroine, Dee, does some pretty terrible things and believes that God could never forgive her, but He does.

What did you learn while writing this book?

I learned that even though the Bible gives us stories about individuals who lived in Bible times, it's vague at times about specifics. This give a fiction writer a lot of leeway to let their imaginations run wild.

What is the toughest test you've faced as a writer?

Finding time to write. I work a full-time job and also a lot of weekends, which means that I have to be really devoted to my writing time. I set aside at least an hour every night, six days a week if possible. The fact that I start with a well-developed plot makes things move faster.

What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of, writing-related or not?

I'm proud of earning a master degree in professional counseling from Liberty University. I believe this degree helps me to understand my characters better and what makes them tick.

What kind of planning do you do before writing a novel?

I fill out character sketches in order to get to know my characters better. I ask myself what their goals are, what motivates them, and what's keeping them from reaching their goals. Sometimes, I start by writing a synopsis. This gives me information about the plot as it develops. I usually have a pretty strong plot before I actually begin the story.

Why do you write?

I write because I can't stop. It's more than a hobby, it's a passion. It's the most fun I've ever had in my life!

Are you a plotter or a pantzer?

A big time plotter. Because I write all of my books in 30-day marathons, I have to start with a thorough plot. That doesn't mean that sometimes the story doesn't take a life of it's own, surprising me when it takes me down a road I hadn't planned to travel.

What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?

Probably still riding a Harley. I sold my bike in order to have more time to write. On weekends, I'd rather curl up with my laptop and the story in my head.

What do you do for fun when not writing?

When not writing, I love to read. Romantic suspense or young adult novels are favorites.

What is your personal definition of success?

My personal definition of success has nothing to do with money. To me, a successful person is one who is happy and enjoys life.

How can readers get in contact with you? 

Email: kdawnbyrd@yahoo.com
Blog: www.kdawnbyrd.blogspot.com
Twitter: kdawnbyrd
Pinterist: kdawnbyrd
Facebook: kdawnbyrd
Youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLtz_kGEFFk&feature=plcp

Now a little more specific information about Amazing Love.

Gabe Knight, a pastor in a small coastal town, finds his life is turned upside down when Dee Dillow arrives and hires him to remodel an estate she's inherited from her aunt. Dee dashes his plans for wedded bless when on a drunken binge, she divulges that she's the highest paid call girl in Nevada and part-owner of the ritziest brothel in the state.

Gabe falls in love with her, but can't believe he's hearing the voice of God when a still, small voice tells him to marry her. After much questioning, they marry and he is deliriously happy. Until, Dee betrays him.

Gabe soon discovers just how hard it is to have the unconditional love God calls him to have for his wife, the kind of love God has for his children. When faced with losing her, Gabe realizes what true love is, how much it hurts, and just how much God loves and is willing to sacrifice for his children.

Interview with the heroine:

Dee, tell me the most interesting thing about you.

I'm not sure how interesting it is, but it would be pretty shocking to most people. I grew up in a brothel outside of Vegas. My mother owned it and since I was home-schooled, I spent most of my life there. I don't know exactly how it happened, but I became the highest paid call-girl in all of the state.

What do you do for fun?

Shop. I love fancy cars, fine jewelry, and designer bags and shoes. I also like to invest money. It's exciting to watch it grow. I left the brothel when I was teenager and ended up trying to survive on the streets when my mother turned her back on me. I never want to live like that again and that's why I save money.

What do you put off doing because you dread it?

I put off going to church with my husband, Gabe. I'm just not into all that religion stuff. I know he expects me to go, but I'm pretty good at coming up with excuses why I can't.

What are you afraid of most in life?

I'm afraid of having to live on the streets again as a prostitute like I did when I was a teen. I'm also afraid of going hungry.

What do you want out of life?

All I want is to have a family. I never even thought about a husband and kids until I met Gabe and now that's all I think about.

What is the most important thing to you?

My money and Gabe.

Do you read? If so, what is your favorite type of book to read?

Remodeling magazines. Gabe is remodeling a huge estate I inherited from my aunt.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

I'd want to make Gabe happy. He expects me to accept his God, but I just can't. It's hard to believe in a God you can't see.

Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?

No pets. I really don't have time for them.

If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?

I would go back to the day I was born and find a way to take me away from my mother. She allowed terrible things to happen to me.

Interview with the hero:

Gabe, tell me the most interesting thing about you.

I'm a preacher and God told me to marry a prostitute. Am I crazy? Am I hearing voices? I know God told Hosea to in the Bible, but this is 2012!

What do you do for fun?

I love working with my hands, especially carpentry work. I also own some old vehicles and like to work on them. Sometimes they're a challenge to keep running and my wife, Dee (the prostitute) hates them, but I can't afford all those fancy sports cars she drives on a preacher's salary.

What do you put off doing because you dread it?

I put off dealing with drama. An ex-girlfriend has stirred up all kinds of trouble in my relationship with Dee. Maybe I shouldn't look the other way so much. Maybe I should tell her like it is. I just hate hurting people and I have the church to think about. My greatest fear is that something will split it.

What are you afraid of most in life?

Dying alone. I want a wife and kids.

What do you want out of life?

I want it all. A wife. Kids. A little white house with a picket fence. Of course, I'll settle for Dee's mansion on the hill overlooking the ocean since that's where she wants to live. She inherited it from her aunt and I've been working on it for her.

What is the most important thing to you?

My faith. I've worked long and hard to get as close to God as I am and I don't want anything coming between us.

Do you read books? If so, what is your favorite type of book?

I read remodeling magazines.

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

If I could change one thing about myself, it would be my past. I didn't always live for God. I did my share of drinking and had my share of women. If I could go back in time, I'd live my entire life for God.

Do you have a pet? If so, what is it and why that pet?

No, I don't own any pets. I'm so busy with my job as a preacher and my side jobs remodeling that there's no time for them.

If you could travel back in time, where would you go and why?

I'd love to meet Hosea face to face. Dee has put me through torture. She's ripped my heart out. I'd like to ask Hosea how he dealt with that kind of pain when Gomer was unfaithful to him.

K. Dawn Byrd is an author of inspirational novels in several genres, including, historical, suspense, romance, and young adult. Some of her favorite things are chocolate, cars, and her pets. Her hobbies include reading, writing, and riding down country roads in the passenger seat of her husband's Corvette Stingray. When asked why she writes, her response is, "For the simple joy of placing words on the page!"

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Nano Day 11 - um - day 1?

OK, on October 31st, I signed up for that totally maniacal and obsessive November event, NaNoWriMo. For those of you non-writers who don't know what that means, it stands for National Novel Writing Month. It's a commitment to write 50,000 words during the thirty days of November.

The problem is, I'm a huge procrastinator. I often find a reason to do something else instead of doing what maybe I should be doing. Sometimes, though, there's a need that drives a person to where the decision finally has to be made to do what has to be done.

In other words, I've put off my writing for way too long, so long that I have this kind of dull ache deep inside that begs to be relieved. The remedy is to pull my long neglected novel up from the depths of my computer files, scan through the 100K+ words I already have written, and take it from there. 

Yeah, 100K is a lot for an unfinished novel, but much of it is rewrites of the same scene or even scenes I know will eventually be cut altogether. I got so tired of searching dozens of files with names like Chapter One (second) or rewrite of Chapter Four or rewrite of Chapter Six scene after Crit Group comments. You get the idea.

So, last night, I stayed up later than I should have, scanning through my 415 page document so I could "sleep" on how to advance the story today.

Finally, after church and spending some quality time with our daughter and granddaughter, I settled down and started writing.  It was slow going because I kept referring back to scenes and refreshing my memory of character names, but I did manage to get 1049 words on paper. 

Not a lot, but it's a start.  I'll do more tomorrow (maybe even later tonight if I can't sleep). Will I make 50,000 words by November 30th? Highly unlikely.  Yet, over the next twenty days of this challenge that remain, I'll do my best to peck the computer keys enough to rack up 20,000 words. 

Maybe I'll only hit 10,000. Still, that will be 10,000 more words than  I have today.

And the ache is starting to ease - a little. 

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