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COTT: Beneath the Blackberry Moon by April W Gardner

Posted by Julie on February 23, 2016 in COTT, encouragement, Guest blogger, Writing |
The first three books in April W Gardner’s Creek
Country Saga
have just hit the Amazon shelves! They are now available
for purchase, but every subscriber to her newsletter gets the first in the
series for
FREE!
Scroll to nab your copy!
Beneath the Blackberry Moon will sweep you away to another time,
then make you sigh and wish you could stay just a little longer.

 

Don’t miss the opportunity to read a free book from April W Gardner.

 

I cannot put this book down! April Gardner crafts the scenes and
character interactions so well, you are there! What a powerful
story.
~Amazon reviewer
This newsletter goes out only a handful of times each year to announce new
releases, so no worries–your inbox won’t be bombarded. April is generous
to her email subscribers. Next month, each will receive another novel,
absolutely free! See below to learn more about Better Than
Fiction
.

About the book:
War, captivity, hunger that will not be denied. And a blackberry moon
with enough pull to endure the test of time.

Frontierswoman Adela McGirth has never feared her neighbors, the Creek
Indians, but a suspicious encounter with a steely-eyed warrior shakes her
confidence. As dreaded, a skirmish with the natives sends her family
fleeing into a hastily constructed fort. But no picket is strong enough to
hold off a party of warriors who fear nothing but the loss of their ancient
ways.

Totka Lawe, a Red Stick bound by honor to preserve his heritage, will do
what he must to expel the whites from Muscogee soil. But in the midst of
battle, he is assigned to protect those he’s expected to hate and kill. One
of whom is the copper-haired woman who has haunted his thoughts since that
strange night under the blackberry moon. The war was simpler before his
enemy became a beautiful face with a gentle warrior’s spirit he cannot
resist.

But what woman would have a warrior whose blood-soaked hands destroyed her
life?

Then again…does she have a choice?

PREVIEW BOOK BY CLICKING IMAGE

 



Learn more about this saga at
and Like her on
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Coming soon…
To
get your FREE copy of Better Than Fiction,
(releases April 2016)
Better than
Fiction
by
April W Gardner and Michelle Massaro

Romance novelist Meghan Townsend’s marriage is slipping, and no amount of
prayer seems to help. She aims to recapture her husband’s waning attention
by getting in shape and finds escape by crafting her own fictional love
story. Taking inspiration for the hero from a new friend—the attractive,
spiritual, and attentive Curtis Jameson—she pours her yearnings onto the
page, and craves the kind of pulse-pounding romance found in her book,
Racing Hearts

In 1916 Corona, California, motorcars are all the rage, and racing them is
what Meghan’s hero, Russell Keegan, does best. But when his competition
vandalizes his car, the only mechanic available is a greasy woman in a
man’s overalls.

After a racing accident claimed her father’s life, Winifred became the sole
breadwinner for her family. She is disdained as a female mechanic, but her
daddy’s trade is all she has left. Can she swallow her hatred of the races
and take up Russell’s offer of big bucks to fix his car, or will she lose
everything to mounting debt?

Under Meghan’s skillful pen, these two embark on a thrilling, adventurous
romance. But she finds that writing those love scenes with Curtis’s face in
mind takes her heart places it shouldn’t go. Will she realize in time that
real life can be better than fiction?

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Clash of the Titles Interview with Gail Pallotta by April W. Gardner

Posted by Julie on March 12, 2012 in COTT, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Writing |
*guest post by COTT Sr. Editor, April W Gardner

This week, it was my privilege to spend a few extra minutes with author Gail. Gail is one of the blog alliance correspondents at Clash of the Titles.

Her husband, Rick, says she’s the only person he knows who can go in the grocery for a loaf of bread and come out with someone’s life story. That’s probably because she inherited her mother’s love of people and enjoys talking to them. Working as an editor and freelance writer, Gail published a couple hundred articles. While some of them are in anthologies, two ended up in museums. In 2004, the American Christian Writers Association named Gail a regional writer of the year. She recently published her first romance, Love Turns the Tide. When she isn’t writing she likes reading, swimming, and getting together with friends and family. Gail wants to write books of faith that show God’s love. She and Rick live in Georgia. Just a couple hours north of me, actually! We’re practically neighbors. 🙂

Every COTT staff member is a professed child of God. Gail, can you tell us about your relationship with Christ?
I can’t remember when I didn’t love Jesus. My father’s father was a minister, so I grew up listening to Bible verses and references to Jesus. But my mother played a huge part in helping me establish a relationship with Christ. At bedtime she said prayers with me and told me stories from the Bible. First, she taught me “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep,” but even then I had a copy of “The Lord’s Prayer” hanging on the wall above the headboard of my bed. She taught it to me a few lines at a time. We soon started saying it instead of “Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep.” She also told me about the Crucifixion in her own words, explaining how much Jesus had to love me to die for me. She taught me to talk to Jesus, to say the things I was thankful for, to praise Him, and ask for things I needed. I did the same with my daughter. I’m so grateful for the many blessings Jesus has given me and that He’s always there for me. I don’t always get the answers I want to my prayers, but I get the answers I need to fulfill God’s plan for my life. Whenever I’ve needed a miracle, Jesus has supplied one. There are several hymns that touch on how I feel about my relationship with Christ. “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” and “He Leadeth Me” are two. My daughter recently gave me a CD, Elvis, An Evening Prayer. The first song on it, “His Hand in Mine,” conveys how I feel about my relationship with Christ. It’s an old gospel song written by Mossie Lister. It’s on YouTube. The URL is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ulTtL_YaC-w

Beautiful testimony! A mother’s faith is essential in a child’s life, and you’re proof of that!
None of us are perfect though, so what’s the craziest thing you did as a teenager? 

Gail Pallotta

I grew up at the foothills of the mountains. At a reunion a few years ago, many of us told our beloved biology teacher how much she meant to us. She replied, “Well, I had to teach biology. There was no one else in town that could.” Teachers were scarce. We had a very old algebra teacher. He couldn’t stay awake during class. Nope. He took the roll and told us to turn to the next chapter and work the problems. Then he pushed back his seat and propped his feet on the trash can. We’d give him about ten minutes, and he was out like a light. His classroom was in the basement with a window level to the ground. In the spring as soon as he started snoring, we went out the window, got in my friend’s convertible (she had the only car) and went to the lake.

No way! That’s so funny!! How long were you gone? What is something else people would be surprised to know about you? 
At age twenty-two when I graduated from college, I packed my clothes in a medium-sized suitcase and moved to a large city with eighty dollars in my pocket. Had no car, no job, and nowhere to live. 
Wow! You can’t leave us hanging, lol! How did that work out for you?

On a slightly more serious note, what is the nearest book to where you’re sitting? 
I love to read anything, non-fiction, fiction, any genre, Christian and many secular. But the book closest to me, probably because I also write as well as read, is Essentials of English.

I’d imagine that covers grammar? Forms of writing? Sounds like a must-have for every writer! What are three things you can’t live without?   
Faith, family, fun

Three very important f’s! Makes me wonder though, when I say the word “fun,” what’s the first thing to pop into your mind?

What is the message you most want to convey to readers with your writing? God loves you. Accept His love and let the greatness of it overcome the imperfections of this world. 

That brings to mind. John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” NAS (©1995)
Anything else you’d like to add? 
I was honored when asked to be part of the Clash of the Titles Staff. I love helping to promote Christian books and writers.
And we love having you!!
***
Get to know Gail better by visiting her website or her blog.

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COTT Announces Nancy Kimball’s Chasing the Lion Winer of the Unpublished Clash

Posted by Julie on March 5, 2012 in COTT, encouragement, God's Word, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Writing |
*Guest post by–COTT Sr. Editor, April W Gardner
*This clash sponsored by WhiteFire Publishing

The first five hundred words of any story are usually enough to clue us is as to the author’s style, the tone the book will take, and whether or not the story will hold our interest. It’s those five hundred from two different unpublished novels that Clash of the Titles presented to you last week. 

Will Ramirez’s Soul Yearning
and
Nancy Kimball’s Chasing the Lion


****

We asked our readers which they would be most likely to continue reading and this is how they voted:

CHASING THE LION
by Nancy Kimball

In addition to a hearty welcome to the COTT family, as announced yesterday, Nancy was invited by Astraea Press to submit a complete proposal for immediate review.


Maybe one day very soon, we’ll see Chasing the Lion come back to Clash of the Titles to compete as a published novel!

This is what our readers had to say about Chasing the Lion:

*The first excerpt really grabbed my attention- especially since it stirred my emotions… and my love of mystery. 
*What was the answer his mother gave that caused this strong boy to run away? Very well done!
* Who’s the dad?!?! I’m hanging off a cliff wondering!

About the novel
Author Nancy Kimball

From the blood-soaked sand of the Roman arena, a divine destiny will rise.
For as long as Jonathan Tarquinius can remember, everyone has wanted something from him. His brothers want him dead. His master’s wife wants his innocence. The gladiator dealers want him to fight, and die, for their greed. The humble slave girl who tends the wounds on his body and the hidden ones on his soul yearns for him to return to his faith in God.
God wants something from Jonathan, too. Something more than anyone could ever imagine.
What Jonathan wants is simple—freedom.
The young warrior’s journey will push him to the very limits of human endurance and teach him the only true freedom is found in Christ. The greatest battle Jonathan ever fights will not come in the arena, but deep within himself, when he is forced to choose between vengeance and forgiveness, knowing the fate of all he holds dear hangs in the balance.

***

Monday, March 5, COTT will see the start of yet another unpublished clash. This one however, carries the theme of speculative fiction, a newer genre that’s taken the market by storm. Come on by for another opportunity to vote and win a copy of previous COTT Champ Diane M Graham’s new novel, I Am Ocilla!


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COTT’s April W. Gardner Interviews Lisa Lickel

Posted by Julie on February 26, 2012 in COTT, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Writing |
* guest post by COTT Senior Editor, April W Gardner

The lovely Lisa Lickel has stopped by today to talk about her frigid Wisconsin winters, her 1830’s ship’s captain house, and her growing list of published novels. Join us!

Lisa is a Wisconsin writer who lives with her husband in a hundred and fifty-year-old house built by a Great Lakes ship captain. Surrounded by books and dragons, she is a multi-published novelist, has written dozens of feature newspaper stories, magazine articles, radio theater, and edits two magazines: Creative Wisconsin and OtherSheep. She is also the senior editor at Reflections in Hindsight.


Lisa is the author of A Summer in Oakville, co-authored with Shellie Neumeier, Meander Scar, Healing Grace, and The Gold Standard.

Wisconsin. Brrr! What’s the coldest weather you’ve endured?
Lisa: The thermometers read in the negative thirties. The temp has to be at least twenty below, not just wind chill, to call off school. Once it’s minus ten or colder, it doesn’t really feel much different because you still have to bundle up the same.

Negative thirties? It was 24 over the weekend here in Georgia. You should have heard the complaining! LOL I hope you have a warm house. Speaking of which, does your 160 year ship captain’s house actually sit on the lake shore? Which of the Great Lakes would that be?
Lisa: Where we live is inland from Lake Michigan about fifteen or so miles from Port Washington. It’s midway-ish between Green Bay and the current state line. The LaCrafts came to Wisconsin in the late 1830s and bought land as soon as the surveys were registered. I’m not sure exactly what they did or where they lived before this house was built in 1853, but I know that afterward he gave up his ship, which I’m guessing was a steamer or clipper with a merchant run between New York where they were from and Port Washington. Abraham Lincoln stopped at Port and speechified once, ya know.

Sounds like Captain LaCraft had a rather long and frigid buggy ride back and forth to his ship! Since you have such long, cold winters it’s a good thing your job doesn’t take you outside the home (much). How did your writing career get kicked off? 
Lisa: I was a church secretary knowing my kids were leaving home for adulthood and my job wouldn’t last forever I took the very expensive Christian Writers Guild apprentice course. I began writing for my tiny little local newspaper, features and government meetings, etc., which was excellent practice for “write tight.” Meanwhile a novel I wrote for the guild’s very first First Novel contest under Jerry Jenkins did pretty well, I wrote a cozy mystery for Barbour and signed with an agent from the guild about the same time, fall of 2007. And so forth.

Ooh, I’ve always wanted to take one of the Christian Writers Guild’s courses. Good for you for taking plunge, despite the cost!
I hear you love to travel. Do you have any funny travel misadventures you’re brave enough to share?
Lisa: Okay–my husband likes these travel books called “Moon Guides.” You should look them up – they’re fun. Sometimes a little out of date, as we discovered on one journey when we stopped at what was supposed to be a mineral springs spa in the middle of – wherever we were. The motel had just changed hands and the proud grandfatherly owner showed us around, leading the way down this huge scary hallway with, I KID YOU NOT, stained ceiling tiles drooping with insulation showing, rather actively inhabited cobwebs, just totally gross, to the last two rooms in the place which he had fixed up. Out comes a very happy smiling couple from one of the rooms, exclaiming their delight with the place; he opens the last door with a flourish to a very mildew smelling room, air conditioner running full blast and a bed with an obvious droop. I wondered…well never mind. Hubby felt sorta bad about leaving, but, I mean, really…would you?

You bet I would have left! Nope, no guilt there. And it’s too funny that the other couple were gushing over the place. I wonder if he paid his neighbors to say that? LOL
You’ve been on staff at Clash of the Titles since its birth. Which aspect the site do you enjoy most?
Lisa: Working with you, of course. (Aw! Thanks, sweetie. And, ditto!) Meeting all the fantastic authors and finding out behind-the-scenes things to do with their work. And what I truly find fascinating is exploring books from all the different angles, such as “Best Romantic Moment,” “Best Back Cover Blurb,” “Most Delectable Hero,” – okay, made that last one up, but…something in the future?

Hey, that’s not a bad idea! Raise your hand if you want to see a Most Delectable Hero clash! 
How many of your books have been published, and which one have you gotten most positive reader feedback on?
Lisa: That’s a nice way to put it, April. As soon as The Map Quilt releases in April, that will make full length novel number five; my first book, MQ’s prequel, is re-releasing later on. I received some nice comments on The Gold Standard, the first book, and I have the most reviews and intriguing public comments on Meander Scar, an unusual romance I did in 2010.


Congratulations on the upcoming releases! Whoo hoo!! Each book an author finishes whether it’s ever published or not is a massive accomplishment. And I LOVED Meander Scar. I think I read it in one sitting, and I’ve never done that before. Ever. 
So tell us about this book you have coming?


The Map Quilt releases in April of this year.
Just how high a price does a family secret command?
Death in rural Wisconsin is only the beginning to new chaos in Robertsville. What do a stolen piece of revolutionary agricultural equipment, a long-buried skeleton in the yard, and an old quilt with secrets have in common? Hart and Judy Wingate, who met in The Gold Standard, are back to solve the mystery of The Map Quilt. Hart’s new battery design could forever change the farm implement industry. But after the death of Hart’s most confrontational colleague in a fire that destroys Hart’s workshop, the battery is missing.
Throw in a guest speaker invited to Judy’s elementary classroom who insists she owns the land under Hart’s chief competitor’s corporate headquarters, and a police chief who’s making eyes at Hart’s widowed mother, it’s no wonder Hart is under a ton of pressure to make sure his adventurous pregnant wife stays safe while trying to preserve his company and his reputation.
It sounds like a lot of fun. You’re a talented author, Lisa, and COTT is privileged to call you its own!


Learn more about the talented Lisa Lickel at her site: www.lisalickel.com.

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Clash of the Titles: April W. Gardner Interviews Michelle Massaro

Posted by Julie on February 13, 2012 in COTT, Guest blogger, Julie Arduini, Writing |

*guest post by April W Gardner

“I often cry when I am in prayer for my children. When eternity breaks through the here and now and the only request left in me is please, God, bring my children into the Kingdom.” -Michelle Massaro

*****

It’s my immense pleasure to introduce a lovely woman to you today, and offer an opportunity to get to know her! Michelle Massaro is my right arm at Clash of the Titles. I’d be lost without her, but she’s so much more than just assistant editor at COTT.

Michelle married her high school honey, Mike, and they now have four amazing children. They are passionate Creationists and attend Living Truth Christian Fellowship in Corona, CA where they have taught Jr High studies and where Michelle is involved in the worship ministry. Michelle is also a homeschooling parent and an aspiring author of contemporary Christian fiction. She loves coffee, peanut butter M&M’s, and new eyeshadow. Her blog hosts weekly Story Improvs, where readers are encouraged to jump in and add to the plot. Above all, she is a follower of Christ Jesus, unashamed to stand upon the Word of God from beginning to end.

Michelle, I love your blog’s sub-header. It says “Follow my journey toward publication. Laugh, cry, point and stare– it’s all good. I’ll leave a trail so that you, my fellow author, may have a straighter path to finding your own elusive publishing contract. Adventure awaits. Let’s travel together…” 


Like they say in court, you’ve opened up a line of questioning. So! 
Regarding laughter…
Every time I watch Forget Paris, I laugh hysterically over Ellen driving down the road with a pigeon stuck to her head. Which movie makes you laugh hardest? 
Michelle: Wow. This was tough because I don’t belly-laugh often enough at all. But one movie that comes to mind is Meet The Parents. Some might be offended because there is some inappropriateness in there, but I can’t help it. It’s funny! There are so many quotes that get me going. Greg’s prayer at the dinner table for one: “and we thank you oh sweet sweet Lord of Hosts…for the …smorgasboard you have so aptly lain at our table this day and each day..by day…day by day by day…”.  LOL, I’m laughing just remembering all the hysterical lines from that movie!

You have me laughing, too! Visualizing Greg milking a cat… LOL
Regarding tears…
You and I are women. We’re allowed to cry anytime, anywhere. It’s our prerogative. I cried yesterday at the sight of traffic stopping for children exiting a school bus. It’s a touching scene–the world coming to a halt to protect our little ones. When was the last time you cried, and what was it over?
Michelle: It is a touching scene! (Thank you! I feel better now.) I cry all the time. Seriously. Usually nobody is around to see but I probably shed at least a couple tears nearly every day. I often cry when I am in prayer for my children. When eternity breaks through the here and now and the only request left in me is please, God, bring my children into the Kingdom. But I also cry over physical weaknesses, regrets, longings, and even Disney movies. In elementary school I bawled over the movie Annie and begged my mom to adopt some orphans. Today I teared up watching a scene from Mulan (when she resolves to take her father’s place in war), and my eyes stung listening to pianist Yiruma’s Kiss The Rain for the first time.

Raise your hand if you teared up during that little speech! Must move on to happier thoughts before I drip on the keyboard.
Regarding pointing and staring…
Our lives are so much more exposed now with Facebook, blogs, Twitter, and all the rest. It seems we can hardly say or do anything privately any more, which can be a blessing. And a curse. What’s the funniest social networking faux pas you’ve committed to date?
Michelle: This was hard too. (Great questions, April!) The closest thing would be when a secular writer I know posted about her new release on Facebook. She had some trouble with Amazon tagging because of the somewhat offensive cover image and turned to her FB friends for input on its appropriateness. I commented with a gentle opinion on why I thought Amazon might have tagged it the way they did, hoping to speak for the conservatives out there without being abrasive. What I hadn’t considered, was that by commenting, her book image would appear on my wall in my “recent activities” and moments later my MOM left a scathing comment below mine asking why on earth I was posting this image. I messaged her privately to adamantly explain that I wasn’t the poster, I was weighing in on the matter. I deleted my comment and told my mom she should do the same because obviously it was then going to be on her wall too. Oy vey! Lucky for me, the incident was small-scale and rather private. I suppose I’ve gotten off easy so far. But it’s never easy being “caught” by Mom.

That’s too funny! Mom’s are great at catching us with our hands in the cookie jar, no matter our age! 
Tell us about that trail you’re leaving for other writers. What was the last thing you posted about on Fiction Fridays?
Michelle: I’ve always posted things I learn and experiences I gain whether that’s contest feedback, craft techniques, social networking (alot of that with COTT), or opportunities to pursue. I sometimes use Fiction Fridays for hosting Story Improvs where readers get involved and write a story together one line at a time. Last week I posted an update on where I’ve been and what I expect in 2012 and I ended with a story prompt. This one is a little different than the Improvs. In this one, I challenged readers to take the prompt and expand it on their own blog, then send me the link. I don’t know how many will join the challenge and play the game, but it would be fun to see what different authors do with the same prompt. Wanna play? You can check it out right now: http://michellemassaro.blogspot.com/2012/02/fiction-friday.html

Oh! Sounds like fun. Y’all make sure you head over there and jump in on the action. You’ve been with COTT since the beginning as a vital staff member, but looking through the eyes of a reader/voter (which you also are!), which part of COTT do you enjoy the most?

Michelle: I’d have to say I most enjoy getting that slice of a story I’ve often never heard of, and then getting to hear how it came together from the author. It’s more personal and more focused than scanning amazon for sample chapters. And I can vote! Most of us love having a say in things and I’m no exception, lol. Being able to interact with the authors of the books I’m voting for makes me feel like I’m stepping into an elite circle of friends and as a reader, that’s huge.

I heartily agree! Thanks, Michelle, for being so gracious to open your world to us for a little peek. It’s been a blast! And now you must excuse me while I go dig through my DVDs for Meet the Parents. LOL
Michelle: April, thank you so much for this opportunity. I value your friendship and admire your work so much. I’m truly honored to be a part of Clash of the Titles.

We couldn’t do it without ya!

Readers, do you have a question for Michelle? And don’t forget, you can still comment on the Almost Kiss clash going on right now at Clash of the Titles!


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Interview with Rossleyn Elliott, Clash of the Titles 2011 Laurel Award Winner

Posted by Julie on January 18, 2012 in Book Review, COTT, Guest blogger, Writing |
*by Sr. Editor, April W Gardner


“I knew that I had just been given an amazing true story that needed to be told.” –Rosslyn Elliott, Clash of the Titles 2011 Laurel Award Winner

Portions of that story—Fairer Than Morning—won the majority of COTT reader votes in June when it took the victory in the “Best Protagonist” ring. In November, it competed against a long list of other COTT champion novels then took home the Laurel. More hearty congratulations go to author Rosslyn Elliott for her win.


Read June’s winning excerpt (excerpt B).
Read the Laurel Award winning excerpt (excerpt A)


The Saddler’s Legacy series is inspired by a real family in American history–the Hanby family, who are to this day the most celebrated citizens of Westerville, Ohio.

About Laurel Award-winning novel, Fairer Than Morning:
Ann dreams of a marriage proposal from her poetic suitor, Eli—until Will Hanby shows her that nobility is more than fine words.


On a small farm in 19th century Ohio, young Ann Miller is pursued by the gallant Eli Bowen, son of a prominent family. Eli is the suitor of Ann’s dreams. Like her, he enjoys poetry and beautiful things and soon, he will move to the city to become a doctor.


When Ann travels to Pittsburgh, accompanying her minister father on business, she meets Will Hanby, a saddle-maker’s apprentice. Will has spent years eking out an existence under a cruel master and his spirit is nearly broken. Anne’s compassion lights a long-dark part of his soul.
Through his encounters with Anne’s father, a master saddler, Will discovers new hope and courage even in the midst of tremendous adversity.


When the Millers must return to Ohio and their ministry there, Will resolves to find them, at any cost. If Will can make it back to Ann, will she be waiting?


Learn more about the book as Clash of the Titles staff interviews the author:

Hostess Raqul Byrnes asks, “What led you to use the inspirational Hanby family and how did you first come to know about them?”
Rosslyn: After I finished my doctoral dissertation, I decided to try my hand at writing my first historical novel. I was living in Westerville, Ohio at the time, so I decided to go visit a small local house museum so I could research all the kitchen artifacts and farm tools. Before the tour, a guide took me into an outbuilding and showed me a video about the Hanby family, who had lived in that house. By the time I stood up thirty minutes later, I knew that I had just been given an amazing true story that needed to be told. The Hanbys lived romantic, action-filled lives marked by courage, and most importantly, they served others out of faith and love.


Hostess Lisa Lickel asks,“Rosslyn, what does “nobility” mean to you and to the era of your story and today? What made you choose that character trait?”
Rosslyn: The origin of that word on the back jacket of the book is that when my publisher and I were creating jacket copy, I had to come up with a condensed way to describe what it means to find a man of true value. And both in Ann’s time and today, the words noble man mean a man of great worth and high virtue. It also made a nice contrast with the apparent gentility and breeding of one suitor, who would fit the other meaning of nobleman far more obviously than the ragged Will Hanby!


Assistant Editor Michelle Massaro asks, “What circumstances led up to Will Hanby’s down-trodden situation?”
Rosslyn: In the novel, we learn that Will’s parents and his sisters all died of a virulent form of tuberculosis which killed much more quickly than ordinary TB. (The novel never reveals this in such specifics, but the TB was disseminated bovine TB, for those who care, acquired through milk ingested on a visit to a cattle farm, when Will and his brother were not with the others!). Their deaths left only Will and his younger brother, who were forced to indenture themselves to farmers to avoid infection and work in exchange for food and board. The farmers were kind, but Will ends up under a much harsher master when he signs a new indenture with Master Good.  The historical facts behind what happened to the real William Hanby were somewhat different, but the effect was the same: out of dire poverty, he indentured himself in his youth to Master Good, and much of what followed was what also happens in the novel.


Talent Scout Katie McCurdy asks, “Which character, not counting Ann or Will, is your favorite? Did you have a certain character that kinda suddenly took a main role that you didn’t forsee when you plotted Fairer Than Morning?”
Rosslyn: My favorite supporting character is Ann’s father, Mr. Miller, whom I admire so much that I honestly wonder how I wrote him sometimes. His was the part of the novel that seemed most spirit-led. But the characters who suddenly appeared onstage who weren’t part of the novel at all, in the original sketchy outline, were Mr. and Mrs. Holmes and their daughter Amelia! They showed up on that steamboat and began to take on a life of their own, and before I knew it they were a major subplot.



Listen to Another Interview:
After her Laurel Award win, Author Rosslyn Elliott was also interviewed by Christian Authors Guild board member, Cynthia L. Simmons. This is a podcast you won’t want to miss. You can listen to in our sidebar or find it by visiting this link.


The second in the series, Sweeter Than Birdsong, releases next month and promises to be just as compelling as the first. Below, in two short, yet intriguing excerpts, the author shares a taste of what’s to come.

But first, here’s a brief summary of Sweeter Than Birdsong, book two in the Saddler’s Legacy series.


Music offers Kate sweet refuge from her troubles… But real freedom is sweeter.


In Westerville, Ohio, 1855, Kate Winter’s dreams are almost within reach. As the first woman to graduate from Otterbein College, she’ll be guaranteed her deepest wish: escape from the dark secret haunting her family. But with her mother determined to marry her off to a wealthy man, Kate must face reality. She has to run. Now. And she has the perfect plan. Join the upcoming musical performance–and use it to mask her flight.


Ben Hanby, Otterbein College’s musical genius, sees Kate Winter as an enigmatic creature, notable for her beauty, yet painfully shy. Then he hears her sing—and the glory of her voice moves him as never before. He determines to cast her in his musical and uncover the mystery that is Kate. Still, he must keep his own secret to himself. Not even this intriguing woman can know that his passionate faith is driving him to aid fugitives on the Underground Railroad.
A terrifying accident brings Kate and Ben together, but threatens to shatter both their secrets and their dreams. Kate can no longer deny the need to find her courage—and her voice—if she is to sing a new song for their future.


Excerpts:

Chapter One


Westerville, Ohio 1855
Her customary walk across the college quadrangle had become an executioner’s march.
Kate’s heeled shoes clunked over the flagstones. Her full skirt and horsehair crinoline dragged from her waist, too warm even for this mild May morning.
She climbed the stone steps of the whitewashed college building and laid hold of the black iron door handle with a clammy palm. The dim foyer led to the lecture hall. Her breath came faster and her corset squeezed her lungs. It had not felt so tight when the maid laced it an hour ago. Up ahead loomed the dark rectangle of the hall’s oaken door, which stood ajar.
She paused on the threshold. Inside the hall, a baritone voice lifted in clear, well-balanced phrases. The speaker’s persuasive power carried even here. Ben Hanby. He was the best orator in the class. She laid a hand to her midsection to quell the pulsing nausea there. If she did not go in now, she would not go at all.
At her push, the door swung open to reveal rows of masculine shoulders in dark coats, all heads turned toward the speaker. Each gentleman’s neat coattails fell open over his knees, black against the polished wood floor. Each white collar rose to the sweep of hair worn according to the current vogue, longer than a Roman’s but never past the collar.
On the raised platform beyond them, Ben Hanby stood, as natural and poised as if he were alone in the room, his dark hair thick over his brow. His eyes were intent, his face alive with interest in his subject, but his words floated past Kate in a wash of sounds her jumping nerves could not interpret. Of course speaking came easily for him—his father was a minister.
He finished with a question to the audience, and even her disrupted attention caught the subtle humor in the lift of his eyebrow as he delivered his line straight-faced. A chuckle rose from the young men, echoed in the lighter laughter of the small party of young lady scholars seated with their chaperone on the end of the front row.
Ben Hanby descended the stairs, the barest smile appearing as he exchanged glances with his friends.
“Miss Winter.” Professor Hayworth’s bass rumbled across the hall.
Heads turned toward her. Her skin tingled in waves of heat, her heart kicked in an uneven cadence. Could it stop from such fright?—the thought made it worsen, like a stutter in her chest that could not move on to the next beat.
“I am glad you choose to join us today.” Professor Hayworth spoke to her from the dais, beside the podium, full bearded in his formal black robe. “You have arrived just in time to give the first of our ladies’ speeches.”
She avoided their curious stares as her pulse quickened and her mouth dried.
“Please proceed to the podium,” he said.


******


All was quiet and dark. The boat bobbed like a cradle soothing a baby to sleep.
It didn’t calm Kate, who sat immobile in the prow. She laced her hands together in her lap where John Parker could not see them and dug her fingers into the back of her knuckles. She couldn’t stop the faint tremble that had started inside her and traveled to her hands. He mustn’t see her shaking or he would think her unfit for the errand.
The chirp of crickets set a rhythm for little splashes from the oars as John rowed them toward the Kentucky side. They were quite close now.
 She must shake off this dreamlike state. She peered at the riverbank as far as she could see to left and right. At least there was no sign of a lantern.
They bumped up against the reeds. John jumped out, heedless of the mud and several inches of water. He lashed the tow rope of the fishing boat to a birch tree.
She must move now. She clambered over the side and into the dark water.
The unfamiliar feeling of the breeches increased her sense of having traveled to some different life, some strange body. It could not be she, traipsing around the wild in men’s trousers. Someone else entirely had come on this errand—someone braver and stronger who just happened to resemble her on the outside.
A few waterlogged steps brought her to where John stood on the riverbank, like the shadow of a tree in the moonlight.
“This way.” He walked ahead of her, straight towards the thickest tangle of thorny bush.
****
If you would like to join the COTT Blog Alliance tour for this award-winning novel (Jan 14-18), please email us at contactcott(at)gmail(dot)com. 



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