Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Guest Author Lillian Duncan: What To Do When Real Life Crashes Into Your Fictional World?


I hadn’t planned on writing a story, let alone a series featuring a crime-fighting speech-language pathologist (better known as an SLP), but three things happened within a few days of each other to inspire DEADLY COMMUNICATIONS.

First, my brother asked why I didn’t write a story featuring a speech-language pathologist. To which my answer was it would be difficult to come up with a suspense story with an SLP as the main character. After all, I know how boring my life is! I couldn’t even imagine how an SLP could get involved in a mystery.

Secondly, a few days later I was talking with someone whose daughter had been involved in a serious car accident and was now experiencing communication difficulties. He was telling me some of her specific issues. As an SLP, I could see how difficult that would be for her and her family.

Thirdly, as writers are prone to do, I was sitting daydreaming and had a vision of a young woman running through the woods and into ongoing traffic. The whole story came together in one sudden flash.

That’s all it took! My writer mind took over from there and DEADLY COMMUNICATIONS was born.

I thought it would be difficult to create a character who was so similar to myself. In fact, a lot of “writing experts” warn against it. But I thought it was fun. Not only is Maven an SLP, but she also developed Bell’s palsy just as I did. But other than those two things, we aren’t alike at all.

Of course, other people may disagree after reading the story, but I’m standing by it.

Along with DEADLY COMMUNICATIONS, I’ve written two other novellas featuring Maven, the crime-fighting SLP. All three stories practically wrote themselves. Who knows? Maven may have more escapades up her sleeves in the future!


So what’s the answer to the question, what to do when real life crashes into your fictional world? The answer is to write the story, of course!


About Deadly Communications:

Improving communication skills is never easy. In this case, it could be murder!

Maven Morris is a speech-language pathologist on medical leave–or as she likes to put it: out to pasture.

When she’s offered a lucrative position by one of the community’s most powerful men to help his traumatic-brain-injured daughter improve her communication skills, Maven discovers deadly secrets behind the iron gates of the mansion.

Now, she must find the courage to seek justice no matter who gets hurt–even if it’s he





About the Author:

Lillian Duncan: stories of faith mingled… with murder & mayhem.

Lillian is a multi-published author who lives in the middle of Ohio Amish country with her husband, two parrots, one Jack Russell, and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel she’s thinking of renaming Clifford since he keeps growing and growing and….

As a speech pathologist in the public schools for over thirty years, she worked with students of all ages with a wide variety of conditions, but especially with deaf and hard-of-hearing children. Whether as an educator, a writer, or a speech pathologist, she believes in the power of words to transform lives. especially God’s Word.

Lillian writes the types of books she loves to read—fast-paced mystery and suspense with a touch of romance that demonstrates God’s love for all of us. To learn more about Lillian and her books, you may visit her at www.lillianduncan.net or www.lillian-duncan.com. She also has a devotional blog at www.PowerUpWithGod.com.

Monday, July 21, 2014

COTT: O'Barr's Latest: Tender Shadows


Author Ann Gaylia O'Barr visits today!
She brings with her, in the form of her latest novel, all her experience as a Foreign Service officer in the turbulent Middle East. Tender Shadows is one of seven such novels and will appeal to lovers of foreign lands, culture, adventure, and romance.


PURCHASE

About Tender Shadows:

When Beth Wilhite’s U.S. State Department job assigns her to an uncaring Washington, D.C. following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, her intense loneliness leads her to make decisions that clash with her values. Then she receives a new assignment to the Middle Eastern kingdom of Al Hajar and a chance to serve with an old friend, Joe Harlan, widowed a few years before. Can she overcome the grip of past choices? Not yield to them again? Can Joe accept what she’s done…and move beyond, perhaps even to loving her?

Joe’s daughter, Annie, working under Beth at the U.S. embassy, deals with her own secret choice. And the young diplomat, Palestinian-American David Antony, struggles with traumatic stress because of a choice he made earlier in Iraq. Yet Annie and David are inexplicably drawn toward each other.

Together, might this thrown-together community find courage to live out his or her individual calling…for such a time as this? And find a forever love?


Meet Ann Gaylia O'Barr:

Ann has at one time or another been a full-time wife and mother, computer programmer, historic preservation planner, Foreign Service officer with the U.S. State Department, and, since 2004, full-time writer (more or less).  OakTara has published six of her novels. The latest is Tender Shadows, which came out this spring. Her last article was “The Diversity of God’s Call to Writers” in the winter 2012 issue of ACFW Journal.
Ann, many of the major characters in your novels are American Christians who serve their country at United States embassies overseas, as you did. What kinds of tasks did you and your colleagues perform overseas?

The work is tremendously varied. The web site www.state.gov gives some idea of what Foreign Service officers do. My job as a consular officer included aiding American citizens overseas. Some tasks were routine: renewing U.S. passports and performing notary services. Others were anything but routine, such as notifying families in the United States that a loved one had died overseas or visiting Americans who were jailed in the foreign country and reporting on their conditions--to the families and to the State Department.

How did your experiences influence your writing?

Observing the United States from other cultures, I developed an interest in why and how this country and its culture became what they are in the twenty-first century. The changes in our country from 1990, when I came into the Foreign Service, until 2004, when I left, have been tremendous. I was assigned to Saudi Arabia during both Gulf Wars (1991 and 2003) as well as the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. As we all know, the changes haven’t stopped since then.

Two observations stand out: 1) How decadent some foreigners judged our culture, based on the sometimes hedonistic lifestyles illustrated in the media. 2) For America to be the world power that it is, many Americans, including American Christians, often appeared not interested in what goes on in the world outside our borders.

A lot of my stories concern Christians working to explain the country they represent to foreigners. Beset with the same temptations and challenges that Americans experience domestically, they attempt to live out their Christian commitment in their foreign settings. The settings may reflect these temptations and challenges through a different lens.

Is this especially true for Tender Shadows?

I think so. A couple of the characters have strayed further from their commitments than in any of my other novels and struggle to find their way back. The small embassy community they inhabit means they work out their problems in closer quarters than in most domestic settings. Plus, foreign demonstrations at the embassy, along with concern over hostility toward Americans, heighten the tension and outline the challenges in a deeper hue.

Learn more about Ann's writing at these locations: 





Monday, July 14, 2014

COTT: Laureano Whisks Us Into Celtic Fantasy


Clash of the Titles is excited to introduce readers to C.E. Laureano's new release, Oath of the Brotherhood. We have heard nothing but good things about this book, which we recently featured on our site. Oath... is a stunning Christian Fantasy set against a Celtic backdrop. It's the first in the new Song of Seare series and will take readers through battles both physical and spiritual. Magic, prophecies, warriors, and romance...what's not to love? Take a look--


Q: What inspired the story behind Oath of the Brotherhood?
A: I’ve always loved both epic fantasy/adventure and Celtic fantasy, but I really hadn’t seen a lot of books that combined both, especially not for the Christian market. The dark ages period of Ireland’s history is so fascinating: high kings and clan conflict, traveling bards, and mercenary knights, not to mention the gradual Christianization of the country. I had fun incorporating all those details into my story world in a new way.

Q: What can you tell us about the main character?A: Conor Mac Nir is a king’s son who has been raised in fosterage (as was common with Celtic clans) by one of his father’s lords. But instead of being raised as a warrior as the king expected, he was educated as a scholar and a musician. When he’s clearly found to be unsuitable as a successor to the throne, he gets sent to a neighboring kingdom as a hostage to secure a peace treaty. Only then does he learn that his upbringing was no accident, and there are multiple parties pulling his strings behind the scenes.

Q: What was your favorite part of the story to write?
A: I really liked the fight scenes and the “training chapters” when Conor finds he really does need to learn how to handle a sword. The isle of Seare isn’t quite as disconnected from the rest of the world as the real Ireland, so I got to mash up some traditional western swordplay with Greco-Roman wrestling and eastern martial arts training methods.


I’ll admit that I also enjoyed incorporating the love story between Conor and the young healer/seer, Aine. Their relationship is deep and has a sense of destiny to it, even considering that they’re in their late teens, but I also think it’s healthy and grounded. They have a great deal of respect for each other’s callings and abilities.

FROM THE BACK COVER

An island at the edge of the world. An ancient prophecy. A reclusive warrior brotherhood. When evil encroaches, who will find the faith to fight it?

Author C. E. Laureano
To his clan, Conor Mac Nir is a disappointment—gifted with a harp, but hopeless with a sword. To the beautiful young healer Aine, he’s one whose gift calls out to her own . . . and captures her heart. To the reclusive warrior brotherhood called the Fíréin, he may be the answer to an ancient prophecy . . . if he can be trained to fight. Can Conor and Aine find their true path as an ancient evil engulfs the isle of Seare? Must Conor sacrifice everything he loves, even Aine, to follow the path God lays out before him?
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING

“Laureano pulls readers into this story and does not let them go. From the first page to the last, readers are gripped by the multifaceted story of Conor Mac Nir and Aine, who are trying to save the country from physical war and spiritual evil. 4 ½ stars.” – RT Book Reviews (June 2014 Top Pick)

“Rich with Celtic lore, battle, and competing magics, Oath of the Brotherhood is a heroic coming-of-age fantasy experience and an inspired series opener.” –Serena Chase, contributor, USA Today’s Happily Ever After blog

“Song of Seare is a promising new fantasy series with a vast storyworld that hints at more wonders to come. I loved this book!” –Jill Williamson, Christy Award-winning author of By Darkness Hid and Captives


Connect with C.E. Laureano: Web | Facebook | Twitter | Google+ | Pinterest
Buy Oath of the Brotherhood: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | CBD

Monday, July 7, 2014

COTT: Winner of the May Release Clash


And the winner is.....



OF THE PERSECUTED
by Angie Brashear

Congratulations, Angie!


This month's clash was a record-breaker from day one. As a hostess, one of the greatest things is seeing the voting numbers climb higher and higher. And I was thrilled to see so many turn out to vote during my clash. I love it! So thank you to everyone who voted and to our competitors - C.E. Laureano, Clare Revell, Hallee Bridgeman, and Kimberly Rae Jordan.

Here's what some of our voters had to say:

  • Angie is the best writer ever! Can't wait to get all of her books!
  • Nice job,was nicely written, I could understand enormously, and was amazed how much I loved this book. Waiting on another book by this lovely lady.
  • This book captures you from the very beginning. It is extremely well written. Once I started reading it I couldn't put it down.
  • As usual, they didn't make it easy for us this month. Well done, everyone.
  • Angie's hook is powerful, and I want to know more about her character just from that one sentence. My second choice would have been A Carol for Kent by Hallee Bridgeman. I love a good suspense too.
  • They ALL look good, but had NOT heard of Angie Brashear's book.....WOW, that one is DEFINITELY going on my to be read list pronto!! My vote is for both books: Oath of the Brotherhood and Of the Persecuted.....soooo cool :)
  • I am always so blessed by Christian novels! Thank you so much for using your God-given talent to bring honor to the Lord!

Back Cover Blurb:

Laila Pennedy awaits death by hanging. For the Rendow Clan rules the Woodlands Region, aiming to slaughter the Faithful. And she deserves to die. But Lars Landre, the man destined to lead the Faithful out of persecution, has other plans hidden behind his rare and mysterious blue eyes. Rescue.

Following the daring escape, Laila seeks the path of a warrior and vows revenge against the Rendow Clan. She embarks on a dangerous journey with Lars, one in which they endeavor to reach the promised safety of a magical village, to train for battle, and to ultimately assure freedom for those with faith in the Maker.

Clashes of weapons and souls. Brutal loss of lives. Unrequited love. How in all the Woodlands will Laila survive?



Author Bio:

When Angie Brashear isn’t working or taking care of her family, she writes. Usually at night after her kids fall asleep. She’s a fan of speculative fiction and an avid runner, both of which perplex her nonfiction-reading, football-loving husband. Saved in her early twenties, Angie is grateful for the Lord’s presence in all aspects of her life. She is originally from Rockland, Maine and currently resides in Cameron, Texas with her husband and three children. Follow her at http://angiebrashear.com
and
https://twitter.com/AngieBrashear. The majority of her interaction with readers occurs on Facebook.

Links to Of the Persecuted:

Reviews:
>What a breath of fresh air! This is not my typical genre, but I am so glad that I branched out and gave it a try. This story will draw you in from the very beginning, and by the time you finish you won't want it to end. The characters are believable and endearing. The plot takes unexpected turns, and leads the characters down paths that you had not imagined. You will finish this book renewed in faith and reflecting on your own spirituality. I highly recommend Of The Persecuted for adolescents and adults, but be prepared to miss out on some sleep. You won't want to put it down! K.P.

>I read this book in one day front to back without putting it down! I am an 8th grade student and I loved everything about this book from the Christianity, to the adventure. It was an exciting and thrilling book to read and I would recommend it to anyone! G.D.

>This is a gripping fantastic story of faith, sacrifice, and adventure. The author pulls you in from the very first line of the book. I was truly captivated with this story and read it all the way through in one sitting. It is an amazing and suspenseful book that compares the things the characters went through to the Bible in a fantasy sort of way. I just absolutely loved this book and I can’t wait to read more by this author.

>This book gets 5***** from me and I am highly recommending it to anyone and everyone. It is a must read story of faith, determination, adventure and suspense. You will not be disappointed. S.W.

Monday, June 30, 2014

COTT: May releases currently in the COTT arena

Hey there, readers. Michelle Massaro here, hoping you're suited up for literary battle. But first, we have some awards to hand out in the form of free books!

The winner of our June three-book giveaway is


Joan Bradley

Joan, you will receive the following novels:

Worth the Wait by Laura Jackson
Londonderry Dreaming by Christine Lindsey
Rebekah's Treasure by Sylvia Bombola

Congratulations! 
Be on the lookout for correspondence 
from the above COTT authors.

Now on to our Clash...


This month, the sands of our arena welcome 5 New Releases from a variety of genres. Which one will be the victor, receiving a free entry into next year's Laurel competition and a tour through our Blog Alliance? Check out each book then cast your vote below.


 
A young musician and scholar is forced to join a warrior-brotherhood to save his people. But is he willing to give up everything--even the woman he loves--to follow the path God has lain before him?

Oath of the Brotherhood by C.E. Laureano






Sunday's Child on life seas is tossed, awaiting the Lifeboat that rescues the lost

Sunday's Child by Clare Revell





Bobby Kent's name is synonymous with modern Country Music and he is no stranger to running from overzealous fans and paparazzo. But now he must protect his daughter and Carol, the mother of his only child, from a vicious and ruthless serial killer bent on their destruction.

A Carol for Kent by Hallee Bridgeman




Laila Pennedy awaits death by hanging. And she deserves to die.

Of The Persecuted by Angie Brashear

Ten years after he'd dumped her, Jessa is determined to not allow him to hurt her again. Lance was there to renovate her home, but could he change her heart?

Love Makes a House a Home by Kimberly Rae Jordan





Vote Below! Poll will be open through Tuesday night. Results will post next Thursday.


Create your free online surveys with SurveyMonkey , the world's leading questionnaire tool.

Friday, June 20, 2014

New Release: Precious Embrace by Donna B. Snow

My friend and fellow Pelican Book Group author, Donna B. Snow, has a brand new release today. PRECIOUS EMBRACE is the sequel to her earlier release, A PIECE OF HEAVEN. Congratulations, Donna...and Happy Reading to all of you! 

About Precious Embrace:

Laura Senton has found peace and happiness, knowing she’s right where she belongs, running her own kitchen at A Piece of Heaven, a Christian coffee house in Pingree, MD. Being partners with her dear friend, Trina, she has carved out a niche and counts her blessings daily for being able to do something she loves doing. When the sins of her past are brought to mind by the appearance of Sean Laylor, her teenage crush, Laura tries to hide from Sean, as well as her own feelings.

At first not recognizing Laura because she changed so much, Sean is at a loss as to why she tries to avoid him. He has no idea of what Laura went through years ago, or how she felt toward him, but he still feels a share of the guilt for her past once he learns  some of the choices she made.

Both covet the memories of their time together, but sins of the past can be a tough hurdle to get over.


A peek into Precious Embrace:

Trina’s voice carried in over the sounds of the crowd.

Laura set four salads onto the tray to fill the next order while she hummed along with the song. She loved this version. How amazing God’s grace really was. Not even a year since they opened the doors to A Piece of Heaven and already they were talking about expansion. Well, Jared was talking about expansion, probably because he would be doing the construction. But Trina, as usual, was dragging her feet. Getting that girl to commit to change was about as quick as tapping sap from a maple tree.

And Laura knew just how quick that was. After growing up in Vermont with forty maple trees to tap, she had learned patience when she was young, patience she had needed as she grew up.

Lise swept into the kitchen next and grabbed her dressings out of the fridge. “Can I have the bowl of chowder now, please? They want it with their salad.”

“How are you holding up tonight?” Laura asked as she ladled chowder into a bowl and turned to set it on the tray, placing a sprig of parsley on top and a crust of bread beside it.
Lise had only been with them for a few weeks and this was definitely a trial by fire.

“I’m OK,” she answered. “I’ve seen worse. The last place I worked was like this almost all the time, but I had to dodge grabbing hands while I delivered meals. That was the worst.” She laughed as she lifted the tray and headed for the door. “So, as long as I don’t have to worry about that part, I can handle busy, no sweat. Plus it’s not like this all the time, so—piece of cake.”

“No, silly. A Piece of Heaven,” she said and laughed


About Donna:

Donna is a native New Englander and has lived there all her life except for a year in northern California (which reminded her of home). She  loves the change of seasons and the beauty each one brings, and says there is no place else that will ever feel like home.

She's been married for 20 years and has one teenage daughter who will be going to college next year. 

An active member in her church, she is a member of the choir (along with her daughter), and she writes not just stories, but her own music as well (that she hopes to get published also).






COTT: Three Books--One Winner!

GIVEAWAY!
Winner announced at
Clash of the Titles
Wednesday, June 25, 2014


By entering the contest, you understand that:
The books may arrive in Kindle, Nook, or paperback format, according to each author's preference. 
Each author will send his/her book directly to the winner.
COTT cannot be held responsible for prizes not received.
Entry in this contest does NOT subscribe you to any feeds, newsletters, or other publications or networks