Friday, October 25, 2013

Kathleen Rouser: An Author Bridging The Past To The Present

Everyone's Story welcomes author Kathleen Rouser this week as its new guest. Kathy breaks into writing for the Christian historical fiction market with her novella THE POCKET WATCH in the release of Brave New Century. I've had the pleasure of knowing this talented author and lovely woman for a while now and must say that I can always count on her for a pick-me-up. When you read her interview replies I believe you'll agree that Kathy has great insight and a sense of cheer. Kathy is looking forward to hearing from you--she'd love to know what you enjoy reading about in a novel and what is it about history that captures your heart as it does hers.

THE POCKET WATCH by Kathleen Rouser

Isabel Jones, an orphan, receives a ruby ring from the mother she never knew . . . a lost pocket watch ties her to Daniel Harper, the doctor who saved her life. He doesn’t realize the importance of redeeming time until she almost dies during an influenza epidemic. Will he be compelled to help her find her lost past? 

                                  Questions for Kathy:
Kathy, your novella, THE POCKET WATCH, is part of the anthology Brave New Century. Whether the turn of the 19th or 20th or now the 21st each century, with all its changes, asks each one of us to be brave. How are your characters braving changes?

Thank you for having me on your blog this week, Elaine. It’s a blessing to be here.

People living at the dawn of the 20th century had some particular changes to brave, especially women. Women’s suffrage became a mass movement, for one. Middle class women were still considered the guardians of morality in society and the home. They had begun to affect change through organizations like The Women’s Christian Temperance Union. The automobile was still a new mode of transportation. Electric lighting began to replace gas lighting in homes.

Despite all of these exciting changes, my heroine, Isabel Jones, is facing something else. She has been raised in an orphanage and wants to know who her birth parents are. When she is given a ruby ring that her mother left for her, knowing her past becomes even more important to her.

Like many young women of the day, her world is small and protected. She aspires to one day marry and have a home of her own. She’s content to stay and help with the care of the younger orphans, but the director of the Protestant Orphan Asylum of Detroit has bigger things in mind for her. Mrs. Pleasance finds Isabel a position as a companion to an invalid. Leaving the orphanage each day to face the world and meet new people stretches Isabel to grow and change.
The hero, Dr. Daniel Harper, is charmed by Isabel, when he rescues her from an oncoming automobile. But he’s been betrayed and heartbroken before. He would rather bury himself in charitable work than risk that again. When a lost pocket watch ties them together and they both are caught up in caring for the orphans during an influenza epidemic, Daniel must decide whether to help Isabel find her family.

Kathy & husband Jack
Does Kathy, the wife and mom, brave things differently than the author Kathy? Any “secret weapon” up your sleeve?

I’ve found that no matter what area of life, career or personal, the best thing to do is cling to the Lord. I need to spend time in the Bible and pray for His help and strength often. I don’t subscribe by the adage that God doesn’t give us anything we can’t handle. He allows us to experience things that we can’t handle, so that we cling closer to Him. I guess that’s my secret weapon!

What is it about reading and writing about historical time periods fascinates you the most?

There’s just something about period clothing and genteel manners that seems more romantic to me. (Think Jane Austen’s novels or Lucy Maud Montgomery.) It fascinates me to think about how people, just like you and me, lived without modern conveniences, and how their decisions are influenced by their times. They often had more obstacles to overcome than we do, but had full, though often shorter lives.

Exploring those differences and putting characters in a historical setting allows me to escape as I write. I hope it would also give readers a chance to enjoy a slice of life in another time period. 

How do you believe your contemporary readers will relate to your stories set in yesteryear? Any common denominators of the two eras?

Despite the difference in time periods and changes in societal values, people are people. We often have the same goals as our predecessors: Safety, food, a home, peace, happy marriages, good family relationships and friendships. And of course there is the spiritual element. We all have that longing for the eternal, for a relationship with God, available only through His son, Jesus, because we are eternal beings and long to be part of something beyond ourselves.

I would hope that as readers see my characters facing challenges and learning how to trust God, they would be encouraged to apply the same thing to their lives.

Please share with us the highlights of working with your small press, Prism Book Group.

The nice thing about working with a small press like Prism Book Group is that they are open to new authors and different kinds of stories. The editors make sure their authors are networked through an email group and Facebook page, so that they can help promote one another.

Our acquisitions editor, Susan Baganz, has been delightful to work with. Owner/editor, Joan Alley, designs the covers and gives authors input on the decisions being made over them. It’s been a fun process. 

Lilybits sharing Kathy's office

Any tips for working in collaboration with other authors?

The days of the Internet and email makes working with authors who are many miles apart much easier than it was in the past. When Lisa was looking for people to contribute to an anthology of romances set in urban areas in 1900, I figured this was a good match for me. This was the era I had set a full-length novel in. I had also done some research on the city of Detroit for it.

It turned out that each of our heroines were orphaned or abandoned before or during the beginning of their story, unbeknownst to me. That had to be orchestrated by the Lord, I’m sure! Attempting to follow His leading, prayer with writing, being flexible on decisions about the manuscript can all help authors work together. I have been very thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to work with Lisa Lickel, Paula Mowery and Teena Stewart. It’s been a great experience. The people make a big difference.

You’re also now represented by a fabulous agent, Linda Glaz of the Hartline Literary Agency. Is obtaining an agent truly a must for the pre-published author?

Linda is wonderful. Her clients know she’s in their corner.

I didn’t feel ready to look for an agent until an editor had asked for my full manuscript. Options for pre-published writers are growing with the new smaller publishing houses starting out. However, an agent is wonderful for opening doors, which are otherwise closed, except at conference appointments. Write, keep honing your craft and don’t worry if it takes awhile to find the right agent.

Would you like to share with us on your current work in progress?

Sure. I’m currently working on the second novel in my “Hearts of Stone Creek” series, with the working title, A Good Medicine. Here’s the blurb: A widow and a pharmacist find a remedy for their lonely hearts comes from where they least expected.

It’s a historical romance set early in the 1900s. Maggie Galloway and Thomas Harper meet after their sons’ wind up in a fistfight. Since Maggie and Thomas are opposites, contentions arise between the two, before they turn to sparks!

As an aside, Thomas is the older brother of Daniel Harper, the hero in The Pocket Watch. Maggie is the sister of the male protagonist in the first novel in the series, As Rumor Would Have It, Ian McCormick.

I’ve also been working on a biblical novel dealing with both the birth and adoptive mothers of Moses.

Is there a certain passion/issue you’re longing to write about or a genre you’d like to try?

One of our pastors once mentioned a book, Under the Overpass, by Mike Yankoski, in a sermon. The author and a friend had decided to be intentionally homeless for a time, so they could understand the experiences of the homeless. They developed great compassion for these people, seeing Jesus in them.

I read the book and researched what circumstances could lead to a young man becoming genuinely homeless. I came up with an outline for a contemporary women’s fiction with a hero who is a homeless veteran. It is a heartbreaking issue for some veterans as they deal with PTSD, substance abuse and unemployment. I’m hoping to eventually be able to further develop that manuscript.

And, a bonus question for you, Kathy: What would you like to ask your future readers and fans?

What issues would you like to see portrayed in works of fiction?

Thank you again, Elaine, for interviewing me.

Kathy's Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Love #HistoricalFiction? See how it comes alive for author Kathy Rouser. (Tweet This)

Tricks author Kathy Rouser, of THE POCKET WATCH, uses to bridge the past to present. (Tweet This)

Author Kathy Rouser shares author-collaboration tips. (Tweet This)

Everyone has a story: Kathy Rouser shares her publication story. (Tweet This)

Author Bio:
Kathleen Rouser has loved making up stories since she was a little girl and wanted to be a writer before she could even read. Kathleen’s debut novella, The Pocket Watch, part of the anthology, Brave New Century, will be published by Prism Book Group this November.

She studied communications and English during her first college years and recently graduated with an Applied Science degree. Kathleen has been published in Homeschool Digest and An Encouraging Word magazines. She currently enjoys writing devotional articles for a local women’s ministry newsletter and interviewing authors for the Novel PASTimes historical fiction blog. Her desire is to bring to life endearing characters, who resonate with readers and realize the need for a transforming Savior in their everyday lives.

During a long career as a home school instructor, she reared three sons, with her husband. Along with her sassy tail-less cat, she lives in southeast Michigan with her hero and husband of 31 years, Jack, who not only listens to her stories, but also cooks for her.

Find Kathy At:
Novel Pastimes (co-blog)

Friday, October 18, 2013

Heather Day Gilbert: Trailblazing Down The Different Author Path

Everyone's Story has the pleasure to host author Heather Day Gilbert. Although I've known Heather for a while now--as a guest on this blog, visiting her blogs, and sharing support here and there--she is always amazing and inspires me. As a woman who doesn't give up, why shouldn't Heather set a fine example of forging ahead on a publishing route that is best for her and may ultimately suit her readers as well? Do you crave a particular type of inspirational novel that you're not finding on the shelves from traditional publishers? As either a writer or reader, how determined are you to create or find a good read? Both Heather and I look forward to hearing your views.

The Publishing Road Less Taken by Heather Day Gilbert

Following God's leading isn't always easy. I'm finding that, for a writer, you have to be in tune with God's nudges and follow them, no matter how crazy and off-the-wall it might look to others.

I could share several instances when I've done what I knew was the right thing, even if it didn't make sense. But the one I'm going to focus on today is my decision to self-publish my Viking historical novel, God's Daughter.

Most people who know me know I've been pursuing traditional publication in the Christian Book Association for some time. A bit over five years now, to be exact.
To be honest, God had to push me to even consider self-publication. And yet once I did decide to become a hybrid author (meaning I have an agent and a book out on submission with traditional publishers, while in the meantime I am self-pubbing another novel), the responses varied.

Most authors want the best for other authors. We usually try to build each other up, because we know we're all going to get rejected at some point or another. And rejection stinks. But let's admit it—it's easy for jealousy or misunderstanding to cloud our vision, so we make blanket statements that might not apply to every writer. I'm sure I've done that myself. It's good to remind ourselves that not everyone will have the same path to publication we did, or encounter the same obstacles.

So once I announced my hybridization, if you will, I was glad God had made it very clear that was the right route for my historical. Because as comments trickled in from other authors, so did my doubts.

For example, some thought it was the easy way out. I know that's not true, given how long I was out on submission with said historical. I can honestly say I tried every avenue I was willing to go down with this novel before deciding to self-pub.

Some thought I had to hire a professional editor. I totally understand the reasoning on that, but they hadn't been with this novel through its various incarnations, beta reads, and edits (in fact, I did pay for a 50-page edit early in the game, but I've learned so much since that time). They hadn't received the editorial reviews I'd gotten on it. They didn't know the editorial prowess of my crit partner! And finally, the money was not in the budget for an outside editor. What they might not have understood is that I wouldn't have published my novel if I didn't feel it could stand alongside other novels in the CBA and hold its own, from cover to content. It's just my own personal standard.

Some thought I should wait for traditional publication first. I also understand this reasoning—I mean, then you have a built-in reader platform, right? But I knew I had to get this book out while Vikings were trending in the media--various movies and TV shows release around the same time I'm releasing this novel. That was not an accident—I deliberately wanted a media overlap. Nothing like hashtagging #Vikings when it's not a football team people are tweeting about!

In the end, when God tells you to do something, you do it. You can't count the cost. There were so many times I could've said, "This time period isn't marketable because the publishers have said so. I should give up." Or "I can't self-publish because I haven't hired an editor for the entire manuscript." Or "I have no idea how to market this." There are so many excuses...and believe me, I did entertain them. But then I came back to this:

"If God be for us, who can be against us?" 

If God was in this venture, as I knew He was, no doubts could stop me. I had to move in response to His leading.

I don't know yet how God's Daughter will do, though I'm thankful that early reader feedback has been positive. But I can say I gave it 110 percent. I built my platform and marketed and edited and learned more than I ever wanted to know about formatting. I stuck with this dream until God decided how it would come to fruition—and it wasn't anything like what I had planned.

It was, in fact, bigger and better than anything I could've concocted.

Stick with it, author friends. In due time, you will reap if you faint not! Blessings to you all. And thank you so much for having me, Elaine. I always enjoy your blog!

Questions for Heather:

Did a certain inspirational song, Bible passage, or one of those wake-in-in-the-morning-ah-ha moments help you to listen to God more in your decision making about how to publish your Viking novel?

Ooh, very good question! I would say that talking with my crit partner and author friends, as well as my husband, helped open my mind to taking this step. Also, it seemed like something God had been bringing to mind for a little while, but I'd dismissed it because I didn't feel ready. It was just one of those things where you give up your dream (traditional publication) to the Lord, and trust Him to do with it what HE wants and get your book out to the right people. As for a specific verse—not one that really hit me, but quite often what I read in the Bible tends to line up with sermons and things my Christian friends tell me.

Did you receive any helpful advice from any publishing professionals during the process of self-publishing?

Another great question! Actually, mostly I talked to author friends who have gone down this path. One professional resource I love is Joanna Penn's blog, She has self-pubbed and has all sorts of up-to-date resources on self-pubbing.

Have you been devouring self-promotion information? What unique options are you trying?

I have read some excellent posts on it, but what I've done is go with my gut and targeted the media outlets I tend to use as a reader. I figure my target audience probably utilizes those outlets, as well (Pinterest, FB, and Goodreads factor in heavily). I've had some hits and misses, but all in all, you can't get discouraged. You just keep trying and seeing what people respond to.

I loved author Jessica Dotta's idea of an online FB "tea party" with people sending in photos of themselves and teacups. I did another take on that by having people send in photos of themselves and their favorite Bibles. I haven't gotten as many photos as she has, but the ones I have gotten are just stellar. I wanted to increase our appreciation for the abundance of Bibles we have, because my Viking main character didn't have one.

Have you learned any lessons from the self-publishing route that you want to use for your more traditional publications?

I guess I've learned that I'll keep writing what I want to write, whether traditional publishers pick it up or not. I no longer feel the crunch to fit my stories into "what's trending" in the CBA. I can just write for my readers...and that's exactly what I was setting out to do when I started writing!

Also, I feel I can have confidence with traditional publishers on the "platform" front. I will already have a reader base in place for any book they want to pick up. Even if the genre is different, my writing style and my use of married main characters will still be the same. Unless I branch into YA at some point...grin. 

What’s on tap for Heather next?

Wow. Good question—I'm wondering that myself! I have a paranormal novel I've wanted to edit for a while now and get out to readers. However, I figure I'll be working on the second Viking novel next, unless a publisher picks up my mystery—then the mystery would take precedence. But it takes longer to write my historicals—more like six to nine months as opposed to two to three.

Heather's Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Meet author Heather Day Gilbert, hybrid author & thankful about it. (Tweet This)

Author Heather Day Gilbert on Everyone’s Story: following God’s path for her Viking novel.  (Tweet This)

Everyone has a story: Heather Day Gilbert shares her different road to publication. (Tweet This)

Author Bio:
Heather enjoys writing stories about authentic, believable marriages. Sixteen years of marriage to her sweet Yankee husband have given her some perspective, as well as ten years spent homeschooling her three children. Heather is the ACFW West Virginia Area Coordinator.

You can find Heather at her website, Heather Day Gilbert--Author, and at her Facebook Author Page, as well as Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Goodreads. Look for her Viking novel, God's Daughter, coming to Amazon November 1, 2013!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Winsome Campbell-Green: Heal The Pain Of Unworthiness

Everyone's Story welcomes author Winsome Campbell-Green. I became acquainted with Winsome through the joy of visiting another friend's blog and am thankful I did. Winsome, indeed a beautiful person, writes and crusades for the freedom and joy one gains when partnering with God to help you through rough times. Winsome shares her reflections on this, as well as an excerpt from her book CURB YOUR THOUGHTS. She looks forward to seeing your comments.


“…Get excited about life! You can have, be and do anything you set your mind to. Believe in yourself. A simple affirmation of ‘I CAN DO IT’ will set your day rolling and put your life on the right path. Every good and generous thought, word and act makes a difference, in more ways than can ever be known. Being an optimist does not only mean seeing the brighter side of life. To be an optimist means to view the environment as a place to maximize your strengths and achievements while minimizing weaknesses and fears. It is difficult to change yourself in a day, but at least give it a try. Let go of fear and doubt; they will destroy you and your goals. A positive attitude in life will help you go places. Curb that fear and be the awesome person you are. Remember the words, “I CAN” and “I WILL”.
There was a time in my own life where I focused too much on the negative. It was the constant negative self-talk that left a cloud of darkness around me. As I mentioned I am not perfect, but I have fought my way through it. It can be really hard to break bad habits, but I do think it’s something that can be fixed. Without optimism in life, where would we be? To overcome years of negative self-talk I had to remind myself that I have a much bigger purpose. If you have not read Ten Life Changing Lessons, I went into details about the challenges I encountered such as the untimely death of my father. My story may or may not resonate with you, but I believe I learnt some valuable lessons. Optimism really got me through tough times. Whatever one is trying to accomplish, have patience and be positive. Challenge yourself to push through the doubts and fears to reach your goals. Being indecisive doesn’t get you anywhere. Opportunities rarely wait for self-doubt and insecurities. Optimism is the gateway to self-expression. It enhances self- confidence and boosts self-esteem. If you can start your day with an optimistic approach it will boost your productivity and facilitate healthy discussions and effective problem solving skills. Outline your goals and hold yourself accountable.
Try repeating the following positive affirmations daily and have faith that they will manifest in your life:
               God’s powerful love and light glows within and about me. I enjoy and love my wonderful life with no regrets...
               My positive attitude resonates with everyone I meet...
               My positive attitude motivates me to pursue my goals and develop every aspect of my life...”

From Tests To Testimonies: How Faith In God Can Transform Your Life by Winsome Campbell-Green

Where can I go from your spirit? Where can I flee from your presence?...All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be Psalms 139. 7-16

To accomplish anything in life takes confidence, courage, and faith in your abilities and talents. It is my faith in God that allows me to be the strong woman I am today. I believe that God wants us to soar because we have victory, freedom and excellence on the inside. Every challenge you face is aligned with His divine will and purpose for your life. However, He wants us to have faith, trust Him, pray and remind Him of His promises for our lives. God permits each of us to undergo a series of tests to see if we are willing to change our attitude towards Him, people and ourselves.

My tests were losing my father to cancer; loss turned my faith to cynicism. I made wrong choices in social acquaintances and disregarded God’s word. My connection to God was severed. I could not let go of the pain of the past. I had believed that I could achieve my goals in my own strength and I took all the glory of accomplishments as my own.

However, God is faithful, holy, forgiving and just. God has a way of reaching down to you even if you are not reaching up to Him. For me, He always used my Mom, close friends, complete strangers, but especially my loving sister to remind me of His love for me. He wants to use me to fulfill His purpose here on earth. I was amazed at the intensity of His efforts to prove just how much He loved me and the lengths at which He pursue me.

Naturally, I feared and doubted that God’s love for me was that powerful. When I measured what God had to offer against the world I was simply overcome with bliss that Jesus already took everything I felt with Him to the cross. I learned that the tests God permits are to discover how courageous I am. During these times I heeded His command “Do not be afraid” (Deuteronomy 20.3). 

I began to listen to His voice as He took me on a journey of self-discovery. One by one most of my dreams began to manifest. I began to see myself as God saw me that I am the daughter of a King who is not moved by the world for my God is with me and goes before me. I do not fear because I am His. He showed me that I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalms 139. 14) and I am clothed in strength and dignity and can laugh without fear of the future (Proverbs 31.25). Indulging and reminding myself daily of His promises in the Bible continually strengthened my courage and confidence.

Sometimes when God answers, what you want is not what you receive. When negative situations and emotions arise, praise God through it all. Never think He does not hear your prayers, but He is always listening. God answers in three ways: yes, no because He has something better, or maybe. The key is to let go and allow God to direct your life for a change. You render Him inactive if you try to rush ahead of His timetable for your life. For me by letting go of the past, I allowed God to open the door to my future. God already knows what you truly want to be. He has already assigned your “angels on earth”(friends, strangers, etc) into whom He has downloaded the Holy Spirit to reach out to you at the ideal time you will need them. God’s timing is perfect. You must believe you are blessed, favored and deeply loved by God. You are only required to keep growing in grace.

Everything I do is to the honor and glory of God and I make sure to give Him the credit. Instead of looking how far I have to go, I thank God for how far he has brought me. Having a grateful heart is a delight to God. Praising and worshipping God during the toughest of times allows to you to keep your mind focused on God instead of your problems. God will fight your battles, but you only need to be still. No matter what you are going through, God can turn your tests into testimonies.

Winsome's Ah-hahs To Tweet:

Everyone has a story: Winsome Campbell-Green shares her loss, struggles, and powerful comeback. (Tweet This)

Do you partner with God through rough times? Discover how to with author Winsome Campbell-Green. (Tweet This)

Winsome Campbell-Green: Who fights your battles? God or you? (Tweet This)

Author Bio:
I am a multi-talented young woman who has a passion for writing and inspiring people. I hold a Bachelor of Arts Degree with very high honors and hope to change thoughts and lives of people with my books. Currently I am working on more books that will provide greater insight. I hope to inspire young adults (male and female), especially women, who have struggled to find their true purpose in life and who now want to live a life of strength, promise, purpose, power and potential. I am happily married to my best friend, who is my loving husband, and enjoy traveling and experiencing different cultures. Being the cheerful woman that I am, I believe in celebrating life and accept each day with gratitude and love. My hope is that my books will continue to inspire and uplift readers from all over the world.

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