Friday, April 25, 2014

Kate Breslin: A New Author Gripping Readers With Story

Everyone's Story welcomes debut author Kate Breslin. I've had the opportunity to get to know Kate since we share the same literary agent and it has been exciting to see Kate emerge and blossom as an author. I'm halfway through reading her novel FOR SUCH A TIME and I urge all to read this remarkable story, which Kate is offering as a Giveaway. Check out the intriguing and reflective video she shares and the replies to a few questions I've asked her. We're looking forward to seeing your comments.

Book Giveaway:
Kate is offering one copy of her novel FOR SUCH A TIME to one randomly chosen commenter. The winner will be announced here on Friday, May 2nd, between 5-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!

Video of Kate's interview at Bethany House:

Questions For Kate:

I’m currently reading FOR SUCH A TIME and must say that I regret the other demands of my day that pull me away from the novel. What a gripping story. How did you slip back into that time era to capture the lifestyle and speech patterns of Europe in the 1940s?

Thanks Elaine! I think I was able to “mimic” the time period through reading books and watching movies from the era. A few modern day WWII movies that did a great job depicting dialog and dress are Schindler’s List, The Pianist, and Playing for Time.

Your novel focuses on a sad period of history. While writing it, did your heart ever stagger, leaving you to wonder how to finish such a tale?

I did get emotional writing the story. Even during the final review process, I became teary-eyed rereading certain passages. It reminded me of the real, painful stories I’d read about the Holocaust.

As both a reader and writer, the darker side of the human mind intrigues me. As an author for a Christian publisher and as a former bookseller, do you find the face of Christian fiction changing and can you offer any tips on how to appeal to the reader who may have boxed Christian fiction into a tight definition?

Great question! I think Christian publishers are becoming aware that the genre needs to cater to a wider range of readers—not only “cradle Christians” but worldly Prodigal sons and daughters who are returning to Christ. Diversity is good; by offering more “edgy” inspirational fiction, I feel publishers will attract more of the latter group, as well as some of the secular readership. Packaging is extremely important, of course, but stories should offer greater conflict, more relevant and controversial issues, and realistically flawed characters who struggle to find their way back to values and beliefs. Readers also need to be allowed to discover the spiritual message themselves—“less preaching means more reaching.” As a bookseller, I’ve heard this complaint from both Christian and non-Christian readers. Writing workshops teach “less is more” when crafting emotion into our scenes; the same might be applied to our spiritual message. Let the reader figure it out and it will mean more.

Mount Rainier--a view Kate
 often sees.
Was the road to publication short and smooth or long and gravelly?

I have to smile, Elaine—that’s the same metaphor I used in the Acknowledgements for my novel. Yes, it was a long and gravelly road, often full of ruts. I spent the better part of twenty years trying to publish in the general market and have the rejection letters to prove it. While that time did allow me to hone my craft, it wasn’t until I found my passion in writing inspirational fiction that publishing became a reality.

(Administrative note: sincerely and hilariously 
  coincidental, the two of us did create that metaphor

Any fun surprises as a debut author you’d like to share?

I’ve had some wonderful surprises, like receiving the first copy of my book in the mail from my publisher. One day, though, I was out marketing my book at libraries and checked my phone for email. There were several congratulatory messages and I had no idea why. It turned out that For Such A Time received a TopPick! review for inspirational fiction in Romantic Times magazine. I was thrilled!

And the opposite: as a newly published author, were there sacrifices you didn’t expect?

Absolutely! Time no longer exists in my universe. Between improving my online visibility, launching and marketing For Such A Time, and working on the next book deadline for Bethany House, I wish I had two of me right now!

What can readers expect next from Kate Breslin?

I’m working on another inspirational historical romance for April 2015 with Bethany House. The story is set in Britain during WWI. And as I love Downton Abbey, I’m having fun writing in this time period.

And for fun: if time constraints were not an issue, what 3 fiction books would you reread?

There are so many, but I choose: The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, The Secret by Julie Garwood, and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. I love them all!

Kate's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Meet up & coming author Kate Breslin on Everyone’s Story. #BookGiveaway (Tweet This)

Kate Breslin: should Christian fiction appeal to the reader wanting a different kind of read? (Tweet This)

Everyone’s Story: #BookGiveaway of FOR SUCH A TIME by Kate Breslin #ChristianBooks (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
A Florida girl who migrated to the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Kate Breslin lives with her husband, John, and a very spoiled cat named Coco. Kate has written several travel articles, published award-winning poetry, and her first manuscript, a Scottish historical romance, was an RWA Golden Heart finalist. FOR SUCH A TIME is her debut novel. Kate’s writing journey has been one of faith as well as success; after years spent writing novels aimed at the general romance market, she finally heeded God’s call to write stories of how His love brings two hearts together. When not plotting her next novel, she loves spending time with author friends, reading from her mountain of books, or watching anything Jane Austen on BBC. Kate’s also an avid gardener and enjoys taking long walks in Washington State’s many forests. A traveler as well, she’s toured most of the country at one time or another and also been abroad–Paris, Munich, Rome, Pompeii, Athens, even a day trip to Turkey.

Places to connect with Kate: 

Friday, April 18, 2014

Dr. Ryan Fraser: A Hope Dealer

Everyone's Story welcomes Dr. Ryan Fraser. My main objective of this blog is to uplift and encourage others by sharing personal stories of how God is always with us and loves us. Yet, life happens. Sometimes, the tragedy level is high, the stress seems ready to trip you, and the landing pad resembles shattered glass. I am awed at people who get through all these trials and offer a hand and listening ear to others in need. Please visit with Dr. Fraser this week as he shares the past that has shaped him to counsel others and follow his passion for writing. Dr. Fraser looks forward to seeing your comments and why you're fond of writing and reading.


 Dealing Out Hope by Dr. Ryan Fraser

I want to thank Elaine for inviting me to guest post on Everyone’s Story. I count it such an honor and am grateful for the opportunity to interact with this special community. I promise not to be boring.

The first indication that I was destined to write was when my marvelous fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Howell, informed the class that we were going to be putting on a play for our parents and families. The production was entitled, “The Small Miracle,” and would be based on the life of St. Francis of Assisi. She then proceeded to ask for some volunteers to write the script.

Her challenge captured my 10-year-old, starry-eyed interest. “Wow,” I thought to myself, “this sounds cool!” Without a second thought, my hand shot up along with a friend of mine. Surprisingly, nobody else took the bait. We were encouraged to share the workload, but within a couple of days, it became clear that my buddy’s initial enthusiasm had evaporated and the responsibility had fallen squarely on my skinny shoulders. But that didn’t bother me, and, quite frankly, I reveled in the chance to excel at something—to shine.

After several exciting days of writing and editing, the script was finished. We rehearsed for a couple of weeks and the play was a huge success. In fact, I was given the lead role of St. Francis. The panty-hose bald wig I got to wear was absolutely fantastic. Anyway, this was my first real writing project that required true vision and commitment. I was hooked. I relished the creative process and delighted in the sense of satisfaction that comes from completing a worthy and inspiring project. It was enthralling to me.

Throughout my life, I have had an ongoing love affair with words. Whether preaching or writing, painting word pictures for my audience invigorates me. Finding subtle and unique combinations of words, especially when employing the art of alliteration in turning a phrase, truly brings me joy. I can feel my chest warm as the words are welcomed like newborn babes to the white page and take on a life of their own.

The writing I do nowadays has shifted just a bit since the fifth grade. As a minister, counseling professor, clinical therapist, and preacher, my focus relates primarily to pastoral care and practical theology. I feel that God has blessed me with the tools, training, and talents to make a positive impact in the lives of those who are suffering and struggling. But my lived experiences have, of course, shaped me the most as a Christian and writer. I am a “hope dealer.”

As a sixteen-year-old growing up on the mission field in South Africa, I suffered a fluke gym accident and broke my neck resulting in two months of hospitalization. It changed my life forever and later led me into the ministry. In 2005, my son was diagnosed with leukemia at age four and our family went through three grueling years of chemotherapy at St. Jude. During that same time period, my wife’s kidneys failed and she required a kidney transplant. A couple of years later, she developed endometrial cancer. I am thankful to report that both she and my son are doing fine today.

However, these traumatic events have affected my priorities and perspectives in life and ministry. Whether I’m writing about marriage and family issues, anxiety, depression, grief, or guilt, it’s my passion to communicate biblically sound concepts and ideas that help people to live faithfully no matter their circumstances.

So why do I write? To me it’s a spiritual calling and stewardship. Writing is a unique ministry that touches people at a deep and profound level. Whether I’m writing books, magazine articles, weekly newspaper columns, blogging, posting on Facebook, or Tweeting, I seek to challenge believers and non-believers to grow in their faith in Jesus Christ. I want to point them heavenward.

Thanks again, Elaine, for this opportunity to share my thoughts. It’s good to remind myself of why I write. People need hope and encouragement. I want to help them find God’s peace along life’s pathway. This is why I deal in words.

Dr. Fraser's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
What’s a “hope-dealer”? Dr. Ryan Fraser! Find out why on Everyone’s Story. (Tweet This)

Dr. Ryan Fraser shares his life experiences that shaped him as an author. (Tweet This)

What do you have in common with Dr. Ryan Fraser? (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Raised on the mission field in South Africa, Dr. Ryan Fraser has been happily married to his college sweetheart, Missy (Housel), for 25 years. Together they have been blessed with two wonderful children.

Ryan holds a B.A. in Bible and Master’s in Ministry from Freed-Hardeman University, a M.Div. from Abilene Christian University, and a Ph.D. in Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Counseling from Brite Divinity School (Texas Christian University). He teaches courses in the graduate counseling program at Freed-Hardeman University (since 2006), has a private counseling practice, and counts it a privilege to serve as the pulpit minister and an elder for the Bethel Springs church of Christ.

Dr. Fraser has recently written a book entitled His Heart, My Hands (Caring Like Jesus) that should be available in bookstores soon. Another work based on his doctoral research was recently published, entitled: The Spiritual Narratives of Adoptive Parents.

Ryan likes 80’s music, is an avid hiker, thrives on Indian curry and Thai Food, and loves hanging out with his wife and kids.

Places to connect with Dr. Fraser:

Third Anniversary Thank You

It's Everyone's Story
3rd Anniversary!

Thank you for making this blog a true blessing for me. When I first began Everyone's Story on April 19th of 2011 I followed this mysterious stirring within me to develop an online presence, but what I received continues to amaze me every single day: an international following, the connection to the most phenomenal and heart-giving guests and viewers ever, and last but certainly not least, an unfailing and simple means to uplift others and share God's love.

I couldn't do this without any of you! I hope you will accompany me into the adventure of my 4th year.

And, Happy Birthday, Ma. April 19th would have been your 72nd birthday. Your love of the written word had inspired me to write. May you be in His forever peace.
--Elaine Stock

Friday, April 11, 2014

Lisa Carter: Proving There's No Expiration Date On Dreams

Everyone's Story welcomes author Lisa Carter. Lisa has a lot to share with us this week. Although it may be (finally!) spring, Lisa shares with us a heartfelt message about the lessons she has learned from her grandmother's Christmas cactus, applicable for every season of life. Her answers to a short Q&A are intriguing, and do check out her book giveaway and correlating book trailer of BENEATH A NAVAJO MOON. We have a little something for everyone this week, and Lisa to thank. Both Lisa and I look forward to reading your comments. 

Book Giveaway:
Lisa is offering one copy of her new release BENEATH A NAVAJO MOON to one randomly chosen commenter--US residents only. The winner will be announced here on Friday, April 18th, between 5-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!


 What I Learned from a Christmas Cactus by Lisa Carter

My grandmother loved Christmas cacti. Her house was filled with them in a range of pinks, whites, and reds. A Christmas cactus is thus named because they usually bloom around the holidays.  My grandmother died over twenty years ago, but sprigs of her original cacti were rooted into thriving plants today devotedly tended by her daughters and granddaughters.

A friend of mine has a family Christmas cactus that is 75 years old. It’s huge. Visitors and family members alike monitor its vitality and continued longevity. Maybe a Christmas cactus isn't important where you live. But most Southerners have a Christmas cactus story—and associated beloved family member—among their treasured memories.

What I’ve learned about life and God from a cactus:

To consider the legacy I will leave.

With a cactus, you must be careful not to over or under water. You stick your finger into the soil of the plant to test for moisture. You must examine the plant’s surroundings. Humid environments require weekly watering. Dry climates demand watering every 2-3 days.

In the same way, God looks at the soil of my heart. He is able to provide just the right amount of whatever He deems I need.

To trust the sunshine and the rain from God’s hand.

During autumn, the cactus should be watered less frequently to achieve maximum bloom. I stop watering my cactus mid-September. The key to beautiful flowers is: proper lighting, correct temperatures, and limited moisture. During daylight hours, my cactus remains in indirect light, but at night for a period of 12 hours I exile the plant to the darkness of an interior bathroom. And amazingly, after the plant endures these months of seeming unending drought—about Thanksgiving, buds begin to appear. Followed by radiant blooms come December despite harsh conditions.

Sometimes God allows a period of drought in my life. I feel like I’m sitting alone in the dark. But I’m never alone. And if I place the situations of my darkest times upon the altar of obedience and praise, times of refreshing come.

Often, I bloom the brightest after a season of drought.

Cactus should be pruned about a month after blooming to encourage branching out. I, too, usually can anticipate a pruning after a season of blessing and/or productivity. I do not relish this; but know to expect it. Though it hurts, pruning promotes new growth. And without it, neither I—nor the cactus—will ever achieve all we are capable of becoming.

Don’t fear the pruning.

Cutting off sections of cactus and planting into new soil can propagate entirely new plants. The blooming possibilities become exponential.

Be intentional in propagating growth in those around me.

Several years ago, God put it on my heart to get serious about this secret dream of writing I’d had since I was a child. In fact, He compelled me to take the stories that had been swirling in my imagination and write them down. That story became Carolina Reckoning. Aloha Rose was the result of a God-ordained reunion and in March Beneath a Navajo Moon released.

Sometimes people stop reaching for their dreams because of fear of failure. Yet I am the living proof that there is no expiration date on dreams. Rather in my life, God carefully orchestrated my experiences with the proper season and planted me at a place that would bring Him honor through my writing.

But the best thing about my cactus—

My Christmas cactus—started with such love by my grandmother and now carefully nurtured by me—sometimes blooms again, unexpectedly at Easter, too. Kind of how I want to live—as a repeat bloomer who blooms wherever God plants me, in all the seasons of my life for His glory.

As the holy season of Easter approaches, I pray whatever growth cycle in which you find yourself that you will dare to dream, consider your legacy, step out of your comfort zone, be intentional, and bloom gloriously for Him.

Questions for Lisa:
When I prepare for an interview I like to explore an author’s website in search of a quote. Your quote fascinates me: “Always there has been an adventure just around the corner—and the world is still full of corners” (Roy Chapman Andrews). Do you seek adventure, or enjoy adventure vicariously through your characters?

I’ve been blessed to have been a part of some amazing adventures in my life, including working behind the Iron Curtain (I’m dating myself) with the Underground Church and almost getting kidnapped in Morocco. I once had an English professor tell me I could make visiting the restroom a thrilling adventure. So I do a little of both—seek adventure out and create adventures through my characters, too. I still believe the greatest adventure of any we can experience is the journey of faith—oh, the places you’ll go, to quote Dr. Seuss.

Some writers are amazed by life lessons their characters teach, others are amused by word choices that come to mind that they’d never use unless in writing. While you write, do any pleasant surprises pop up that make the journey fun?

I am a discovery writer. I cast my characters with a face (usually a well-known model or actor). I know the situation and conflict of the beginning. Most of the time I know what happens at the end. The middle is usually murky. I begin writing and as I get to know my characters better and better, I just let them “have their head.” They always surprise me with where they take the story. I’ve learned to pay attention and hang on during the ride. It’s fun and humbling as the story/spiritual arc comes full circle.

For fun: if you were marooned on a desert island with three of your favorite authors (or perhaps the ghosts of past authors) whom would they be and why?

I’d have to pick Jack London for his survival skills; Elizabeth Peters to entertain us with her fascinating and funny tales of history’s mysteries; and Harper Lee because she’s so Southern and brilliant.

Lisa's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Everyone’s Story: author Lisa Carter shares lessons of life and God from a cactus. (Tweet This)

Lisa Carter: Why does God let a season of drought in your life? (Tweet This)

Visit with Lisa Carter, an author that proves there’s no expiration on dreams. (Tweet This)

Win #BookGiveaway of Lisa Carter’s Beneath a Navajo Moon. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Lisa Carter shares her own journey of faith regarding the sufficiency of the cross and His grace in her life. She is the author of two romantic suspense novels, Carolina Reckoning and Beneath A Navajo Moon; and Aloha Rose, a contemporary romance in the Quilts of Love series. Under a Turquoise Sky releases August 2014. She and her husband have two daughters and make their home in North Carolina. When she isn't writing, Lisa enjoys traveling to romantic locales, quilting, and researching her next exotic adventure.

Places to connect with Lisa: 

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