A Season for Everything
Recently I’ve been revisiting an old story I first wrote back in 2010. It’s set in a beautiful part of Canada that my husband and I were blessed to visit a number of years ago (I have pics on my website: www.carolynmillerauthor.com). It’s been fun to see the various changes I’ve made to this story over the years, and to see how my writing has improved since I first wrote it as my second ever novel-length story. I’ve always wanted to see this contemporary novel published and had almost become resigned to it being one of my ‘practice’ stories, one of those stories destined to never see the light of day that are written as I learn how to write. I thought it was a practice story. But now I’m not so sure.
There are seasons in life. Here in Australia it’s winter, a time when not much grows, trees stagnate, and the weather can feel rather bleak. But it IS still a time of preparation. Trees are still alive, they’re simply waiting for the right time to put out leaves, put out fruit, to grow into what they’re destined to be.
Much like us. Anyone who has ever started a diet or an exercise regime knows it’s a long haul deal. You don’t tend to see success after a day. (Such a shame!) Nope, it’s week after week of making healthier food choices, walking, weights, and staying disciplined when we don’t feel like it. But that time of preparation ultimately does lead to a new season – one where we’re happier and fitter and like how we look at the beach. (Can anyone say Amen?)
As an author, I’ve come to realize there are also seasons in a writer’s life. Seasons of preparation, when the computer fills with the practice novels, seasons of praying and connecting and waiting for that golden opportunity to come to fruition, seasons of rejection, failure, more preparation, and seasons of (varying levels of) success, etc.
Sometimes the waiting period, that time of further preparation, can seem unending. But I believe if our times are in God’s hands, then He knows exactly the right time for something to happen.
Because seasons change. Suddenly the time of preparation becomes one of production, and if we’re not ready, we can miss our moment and shrivel into missed opportunity and regret.
I was challenged recently about whether I was living in faith or fear, a question that kept pecking at me. Did I trust God enough to work things out in my future, and to have a go, even if the golden dream I envisaged didn’t actually come true? Or is it better to hold on tight, never dance with the possibility of failure and rejection, and live with this slight feeling of regret that I never chased the opportunities when they presented themselves?
I’ll confess there have been times I have not done things because I was scared of what the result might be. But I’ve also had moments when I’ve needed to trust God to open doors, and have sent emails to people when I’ve been (literally) shaking with fear, believing they will help me, and have seen God use those people to do abundantly more than I imagined.
I want to walk by faith, not stagnate in fear.
As a Christian author I know my trust is not to be placed in my reviews or sales, or whether this publisher or that one accept my manuscript. My trust needs to be in God, the Ultimate Author and Perfecter of our faith. I believe it’s His prompting that makes us suddenly feel a need to work on something, so that it’s ready at the right time for when a publisher (or reader) needs to read it.
My publishing journey beagn because my publisher ‘just so happened’ to want to expand into historical fiction, and my agent ‘just so happened’ to present my first Regency novel at just the right time. Since then I’ve published nine books with them, with more on the way. I think that was a God thing. But it wouldn’t have happened if I hadn’t done the work and written the words when there was no contract in sight. The reason I could publish 9 full length novels in three years was because I had four of them already written and polished.
If we say we have faith but aren’t preparing for our future, then I wonder if we really do have faith or if it’s more wishful thinking. God responds to faith. God is our trust, the One who can make things work out or not. He knows the seasons. Noah had to build his boat by faith, not by sight, and then saw the season change in the most dramatic way ever.
So that decade-old story I thought might be relegated to a dusty corner of my computer? I sense I’m heading into the season where it will now see the light. So I’m busy preparing, getting ready for the next season. And I’m trusting God that He will continue to guide my path.
How about you?
All About “MAP”s – Multi-Author Projects
MAPs have many benefits besides flat out being fun! An organizer comes up with an idea and puts out the call for authors, usually a year or so in advance, but often only a few months. Sometimes individual invitations are issued, but however it happens, a group of authors sign up on a joint project.
This year, I’m involved in six MAPs plus a full-length novel for my Cross Timbers Romance Family Saga in January. Usually, the captain/organizer/admin sets up a few rules like an adhered-to minimum word count with a loose average around twenty-five to thirty-five thousand words. Leaders aren’t as concerned about overages. Most titles launch at $2.99.
The benefits include authors sharing readers—I’ve increased readership on every map I’ve been in. All MAPS depend on cross promoting one another. So you promote their stories then when your debut comes, all the other authors help you promote yours, giving every author an amazing reach—-add to our benefit list!
A basic foundation idea unites the individual books which authors publish themselves. For instance, in the Lockets and Lace Collection, a Bavarian jeweler in Saint Joseph who makes lockets is in common.
One of the characters in every story buys a locket there or has a locket that came from him. Plus, there are special pieces of lace as well. Only bloggers at Sweet Americana Sweethearts are invited to write a Lockets and Lace story, which is another way the authors get together.
In the Prairie Roses Collection, a MAP I organize annually for an early May launch to catch Mothers’ Day, the connection is a covered wagon journey.
Covers are almost always done by one designer and the same with different models, paid for by authors, and should be reasonable
My July 2020 release is A NURSE FOR JACOB, book four of Nursing the Heart Collection. I was given the premise that a group of nurses graduate in the spring class of 1868 from the fictional Harrows School of Nursing.
Clara Barton is affiliated with the school and uses her connections across the county to find the new nurses’ positions. Some to hospitals, others to doctors’ offices, and a few go into private nursing, serving an individual.
Where the nurse lands is up to the author. Ours goes to New Orleans and to Tourno Infirmary where she meets and has a romance with a Doctor Jacob Johnston. So, while the different titles in a collection have a connection, each is a standalone story.
Scheduled to launch December 15th, my QUINCY’S QUIXOTIC BRIDE is in the Matchmaker’s Mix Up Collection wherein a Chicago matchmaker—Agatha Sinclair has finished her work matching all the couples that month, then her cat knocks her file box off the desk, scattering all those looking for their perfect match for which they have paid a pretty high price.
Another MAP I founded three years ago is the popular Thanksgiving Books & Blessings Collection. It launches in September.
Each year, my Thanksgiving title also fits in the Cross Timbers Romance Family Saga, so the characters in my personal series are already well known by my readers letting them enjoy the MAP story.
New-to-me readers are introduced to my non-MAP series with the same characters they’ve just met and fallen in love with. That’s another benefit, crossing over with your personal titles.
In my Matchmaker’s Mix Up, readers meet a young lady who comes to Texas to meet her match Quincy, a chef at the Lowell House hotel in Dallas.
Those characters include Morgan and Charity from the Cross Timbers Romance Family Saga book four LEAVING TEXAS which happens to be on sale for 99c this week. At the end of that story, the couple is getting ready to build the Lowell House hotel.
All of the MAPs I’ve been in are historical Christian or clean romance. Like birds of a feather, “Stories of a genre MAP together,” targeting the readers who love that genre.
I highly recommend authors getting together with other authors who write the same genre and taking part in a Multi-Author Project. They provide comradery, increased pre-orders and sales, and expand your readership. I love MAPs, and here are the ones I’m in for 2020: Lockets and Lace, Prairie Roses, North & South: Civil War Brides, Nursing the heart, Thanksgiving Books & Blessings, and Matchmaker’s Mix Up!
I am so pleased to give away an eBook copy of a Celebrate Lit Reader’s Choice Award for 2016, THE BEDWARMER’S SON!
Reviews have called it my magnum opus . . . or a piece de resistance. A beautiful love story set in Dalton Georgia where a man’s life hangs in the balance.
Hope you enjoy this story, and if you do, consider leaving a review. I certainly will appreciate it 😊
Linda Brooks Davis
Thinking About Christmas in July
This tree skirt heralds each of the Twelve Days of Christmas. What strikes me from my later-in-life perspective is all the busyness contained in the days themselves. Makes a head spin: a partridge and turtle doves, French hens and swans, blackbirds and geese; cows with maids milking them; drums and pipes; ladies twirling and lords leaping. Imagine the turmoil and racket!
On top of that, there’s a collection of gold jewelry to keep one’s eyes on.
As I look back over the years of Christmas memories, I don’t wish for more gifts, more social gatherings, or more decorations. I certainly don’t wish for more maids, ladies, lords, birds, cows, drums, or pipes. If I could change anything about Christmases past, I’d spend more together time with my family. I’d bake a couple dozen cookies instead of twelve dozen and one cake, not three. I’d pull out two bins of lights, not eight.
I’d sit longer with my little ones on my lap. I’d read longer with them at my knee. I’d include them in the decorating and think more about the sweetness of their memories of home than how perfect everything looks. I’d choose one social event and spend the others laughing and singing with my family.
And I’d get more rest. Exhaustion can lay a fuzzy patina over every single memory of Christmas. Just ask Ella McFarland Evans.
This lesson that took me multiples of decades to learn is summed up in a quote by sweet Andrew in A Christmas to Remember.
We need more of you, Ella, not more gifts.
Nowadays, I view that tree skirt through a different lens, one perhaps not unlike the lens with which we writers and readers view the end of a heart-touching story: sweet satisfaction. I can’t alter past Christmases, but I can determine the shape, texture, color, and sound of the Christmases that remain.
I can’t make Christmas 1975 less busy. But I can submerge Christmas 2020 in joy, love, and contentment. And I can make this year’s observance a Christmas to remember by recognizing the all-consuming love that’s woven into that family heirloom.
This July and always, I pray the good and perfect gifts of love, joy, and contentment will saturate your world. God bless.
Marguerite Martin Gray
I am busy, busy writing this summer about my favorite place on earth: Chenonceau, France. My research and writing always begins with a familiar setting. I find inspiration in the walking: my footsteps before my characters begin their journeys. I think I could write a story without visiting the place, but if at all possible, I want the experience before I write.
About ten years ago, I decided I wanted to explore the world of my ancestors using what information I gained from my great great-aunt and my father. I set my course for Charleston, South Carolina, alone for the first time in a while, leaving the children with my husband. As I walked, looked, and studied that beautiful city from the perspective of the 1770s, I knew what I wanted to write. The cobblestones, the old buildings, the paintings, the history, offered the backdrop I needed to formulate a novel that turned into a series, Revolutionary Faith.
The Charleston Museum founded in 1773 is one of the oldest museums in the U.S. I spent hours probing the exhibits for facts, pictures, and tidbits of interest in order to take away a vision of life in this colony around the American Revolution. I was so enthralled by my discoveries in the museum that I made the grand opening of the museum a focal point in Hold Me Close, Book One. The heroine Elizabeth Elliott participates in the establishment of the museum. Later, the museum poses as a site of contention between the Loyalists and the Patriots. If I had not visited Charleston, I don’t know that I would have stumbled on the museum in my readings. I’m thankful that I walked the extra blocks to step into this place of history.
My characters needed a house to buy. I found the house on Church Street where my relatives had lived. I tried my hardest to get a tour but with no luck. Contented with pictures of the outside and photos of period furniture from the museum and the Heyward-Washington House two doors down, I walked the neighborhood. Around the corner on Tradd Street, I established where I wanted the mercantile which played a vital role in the series. So, I had a house for Surround Me and Books three, four, and five. Success!
One of my favorite things to do in any old town is to wander the cemeteries, usually attached to a church. I knew the church and its teachings would interact with all my characters. Faith at any degree permeated the people on the verge of independence. I chose St. Philip’s Church to ground my characters. I have relatives buried in the church’s cemetery, so it was an easy pull. My major characters are married there. It is central—a symbol—of God’s presence in their lives. Although the doors would close for a time during the war, their hearts remain connected.
I spent hours walking the perimeter of the harbor, including the park. The huge mansions interested me, but the harbor drew me more. This is the view that has not changed in centuries—the rivers and the Atlantic. How many hours had my characters stared into the depths longing for a conclusion to the battles? Their gazes welcome loved ones home after long voyages. The ships brought needed supplies and arms. Hopes and dreams bobbed on the waves. My eyes became their eyes. The smells of salt water, fish, and rain awoke what they would have felt. I walked, and I consumed the worth of the harbor.
The Custom House
What a role this building played in the revolutionary years in Charleston! A meeting place for Loyalists, for Patriots, for good news and bad, for dances, for celebrations. And then, a prison where the Patriot leaders and sympathizers filled the dungeon. The Custom House is prominent in Book Five, Wait for Me. On the tour, I could almost smell the bodies of 300 men and women and see the filth and cramped conditions of the prisoners held by the British.
Could I have written my series without physically walking the streets of Charleston? Surely with the help of others who had first-hand accounts of the city. But I wouldn’t trade my four trips to Charleston over the years!
Walk with me through the history of Charleston in the novels of Revolutionary Faith.
Misty M. Beller
The Story Behind the Story: Love’s Mountain Quest
Love’s Mountain Quest was one of the hardest books I’ve ever written, even though I LOVE Isaac and Joanna and their story. What made this book so hard was the fact that I wrote most of the story during my third trimester of pregnancy with our son!
Our little Matthew is our fourth baby (and first boy), so I was VERY heavy with child during the last three months I carried him, and that was the time that I’d scheduled to write Love’s Mountain Quest. Needless to say, the words were not flowing very well. My creativity was as exhausted as the rest of me! I could see Isaac and Joanna’s story in my mind, but showing it for readers using real words was the hard part.
Thankfully, I have an amazing editor at Bethany House (waving at Jen Veilleux!) who helped me massage the first draft, pushing both me and the story to be the very best we could be. Unfortunately for her, the edits for this book were the first bit of writing I did after taking a short maternity leave after the birth, so my brain was still a bit mushy from all the post-partum hormones and lack of sleep a newborn always brings. Jen’s patience through the process was remarkable, yet I so appreciate her determination not to stop until we had the very best book possible.
Our little Matthew just turned one, and Love’s Mountain Quest is finally making its way out into the world. Because of Jen, I’m so excited to share it with you! I can’t wait for you to meet the characters and story I love so much. 🙂
Wild Heart Books featuring Renae Brumbaugh Green
Behind the Scenes of Lone Star Ranger by Renae Brumbaugh Green
I’ve been a fan of historical romance from the moment I graduated from The Babysitter’s Club. A friend of mind introduced me to the Love Comes Softly series by Janette Oke, and I was hooked. In college, between exams and extracurricular stuff, I read those books like they were M&Ms. That’s why, when I started writing grown-up fiction, I knew historical was my genre.
But there’s another reason—perhaps a more compelling reason—why I had to write The Texas Rangers series. See, my granddaddy was a Texas Ranger. Not the baseball player kind. The gun-toting, cowboy-hat-and-badge-wearing kind. As far as I know, he was not a master of any kinds of martial arts, so if you’re a fan of Walker, Texas Ranger, I’m sorry to disappoint.
And he was not alive during the late 1800s, as are the characters are in this series. Grandaddy died in 1980 when I was 12 years old. He was a good man, known for rescuing puppies and bringing small gifts and toys to children in stressful situations—i.e. when their parents were arrested. My favorite memory of him is sitting on his lap, falling asleep to the sound of his big, round pocket watch ticking. I have a picture of myself, age three, sitting on his knee while he typed up his reports. I love that typewriter picture, and find it significant since I’m now a writer.
Grandaddy was Robert Everett Smith, and Grandmother (yes, I called her that—she was very formal, but also very sweet) was Ellie Marie (Edgar) Smith. The two lead characters in Lone Star Ranger are named Rett (Everett) and Elizabeth, in their honor.
Like Grandmother, Elizabeth is refined and formal, yet strong headed, with her own lady-like brand of spunk. She hails from Boston, and is a little overwhelmed at the grit and gravel of Texas lawmen. But she’s not intimidated—not even by handsome Texas Ranger Rett Smith.
Thanks so much for sharing in my cherished family memories. I hope you enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed writing it!
—Renae Brumbaugh Green