Thursday, May 16, 2019

Medieval Romances + Giveaway of Lord of Her Heart

Medieval romances are not a huge genre in Christian fiction. I've wondered about that because they are popular in mainstream fiction. Is it because there is usually a half-naked man on the cover? Or is it because women were thought of as useless and weak back then (or, at least, that is a general thought)?

That may all be true, but I'm here to argue for the medieval era. In my research, I found that women were not always under a man's thumb.

  • Matilda of Canossa (1046-1115 AD) was known for her military expertise in defending her lands and managing a vast kingdom.
  • Eleanor of Aquitane (1122-1204 AD) was the mother of King Richard I and King John. She participated in one of Richard's crusades and it was believed she rode into battle topless to distract the enemy. She was also a great patroness of the arts.
  • Christine de Pizan (1364-1430 AD) was a counselor to kings and aristocracy and was a proto-feminist very influential in her time. After her husband died, she was able to support herself with her writing.  
There were women in biblical times that rose into power and authority.
  • Deborah, who became judge over Israel. She went into battle one time at the request of the leader of the army. 
  • Abigail, who ran her household and estate for her drunk husband. 
  • Miriam, Moses's sister, who was prophetess in Israel.
This is what I love about researching! Learning new things that can change misconceptions about certain times or groups of people. 

That's one of the reasons I wrote Lord of Her Heart. I didn't want to write a bodice-ripper where the woman is wimpy and must be saved. I wanted to write about a strong woman who is not afraid to go after what she wants. I wanted to write a story that showed the courage in spite of fear in my heroine. We all struggle with fear and sometimes we have to take a step of faith to push us into our courage. I hope I accomplished that in Lord of Her Heart. 

Hopefully, medieval romances will become more popular in Christian publishing. Until then, I will continue to write them, because I love them. :)

I'm giving away a copy of Lord of Her Heart today! Your choice: ebook or paperback. US only on the paperback. Leave a comment below to be entered into the draw. Winner will be selected Saturday, May 18, and will be announced in the comments. 

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Sherrinda Ketchersid is a born and bred Texan, preacher’s wife, mother of 4 children, and works part-time as a bookseller at Amazon. With the children grown and out of the house, she weaves tales of fierce knights and their ladies in a time where men were warriors and women had to be strong enough to keep them in check.

After taking time off from writing, she has returned with a new motto in place to spur her on. “Writers write. Everyone else makes excuses.” ~Jack Bickham.  No excuses this time. She is weaving her love of romance with history to bring joy and the hope of love to those who may one day read her stories. Her first book, Lord of Her Heart, is available on Amazon.

You can connect with her through:
Newsletter: Sign Up Here
Website: sherrinda.com
Twitter: @sherrinda

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

#TipfulTuesday The Issues With Head Hopping



Last month, I read ten books, all published in 2018. That is a lot for me. Of the ten books, eight had more than one moment with head hopping. It’s an easy mistake to make. Anyone can do it. Perhaps this reminder will help all of us to weed out these moments.

What is head hopping? Head hopping is when a scene's point of view character sees, hears, feels, or knows the thoughts of another character in an unlikely way. 

For example: A scene is in Jane’s point of view. Jane is speaking with John Dear on the phone. The conversation ends. The call is disconnected. The scene continues with John throwing his phone on the floor and grumbling. He picks up Jane’s photo and … His actions or thoughts continue for a line or two before the scene returns to Jane’s point of view. 

Jane did not witness what John Dear did after the call ended, therefore, those aspects could not be in her scene. An author can begin a new scene or chapter with John’s point of view and include this information. OR. Jane can learn about John’s actions in some other way: a security camera, a bug in the room, another person reporting, etc. 

BUT his thoughts are his thoughts. She can’t possibly know them unless he tells her.

Writing in the omniscient point of view will not fix this problem. We tend to pick one character or another to tell a scene in today’s stories. That is the point of view. Also, I believe the omniscient point of view is taboo today. Stay tuned. It may come back.

I had an instructor who once told me to picture a camera with voice recognition in the eyes of the point of view character figuratively. Jane may see John Dear fall on the ice and cut his hand. She may hear him scream in pain, (or not), she may know what a gash on the hand feels like, and she can witness his body language. However, she does not know that inside his head he feels like a bumbling fool. That he screamed not from the pain but because he ripped his new pants. Etc. The scene can, therefore, include what Jane thinks John Dear is experiencing, but not what is in his head. Because….yep…that is head hopping.

When you edit your story, watch for head hopping. Words like: must, seem, etc., allow us to write things like, "John must really be hurting.”

Since I don’t know what you are thinking, I shall sign off with: May all your characters think only their thoughts. 

~Mary Vee
Next week I will be attending the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writer's Conference. My book, Daring to Live is one of the finalists. Please join all of us as we cheer on the Selah winners that Wednesday night.

Photo by Mary Vee- a few friends down the road from me
Link to Mary's books: https://amzn.to/2Fq4Jbm
Mary Vee -Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, was a teacher, a missionary, and married an Air Force vet. Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.
Visit Mary at her WebsiteBlog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter






Thursday, April 25, 2019

Two Epiphanies + A GIVEAWAY

During Holy Week, I (Laurie) had two epiphanies. First, have you ever noticed that so many of the verbs associated with the Lord begin with "RE"?

For example, He:

  • Resurrects the dead
  • Restores the broken
  • Redeems our debts and failures
  • Revives souls
  • Returns lost things
  • Refills what's empty
  • Receives the least of these
  • Renames the disenfranchised
  • Renews the weary
And so. much. more. Don't you think this common denominator only shows that our Father loves second chances? 

I've been listening to the newest album from the UpperRoom worship team on repeat. In their song "Healer," the bridge repeats these lyrics:


"You restore my heart over and over again."


As a writer, I'm always thinking of things in terms of recurring themes, common denominators, underlying significance, and meaning. My second epiphany was that second (and third and fourth) chances are what I love the most in fiction, whether it's characters rediscovering their worth after being stuck in lies for so long or romances in which people find their way back to each other at the end of the most unlikely roads. 

I think there's nothing our Father loves more than a second chance and people willing to drop their shame, fear, and failure to take it--to take HIM--and make the most of a new beginning. 

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If you're like us and love second chances in fiction, one of our favorite authors, Kara Isaac, has a reunion romance on sale this week! Comment on this post for the chance to win ALL MADE UP or buy it for $1.99 here: https://amzn.to/2Gv4gTz 


Tuesday, April 23, 2019

#TipfulTuesday Expectations: Influencers vs Street Teams




On the Writer’s Alley, we share writing issues almost daily. We bounce around the problems and discuss solutions because the author’s journey is one that can’t be traveled alone.

Today’s topic is Influencers and street teams. What is the difference? What are the expectations for the author? What are the expectations for the reader?  Both are such an asset for an author.

What is an influencer? An influencer agrees to read the author’s book and write a few reviews, say on Barnes and Noble, Goodreads, Amazon, etc. That is about it. If the influencer wants, he or she may volunteer to also write a social media post or two about this one book. Authors should not blindly send books to someone for a review. Typically, the author communicates with potential influencers, asking if he or she would like to read and review the book. This is how the author’s book rises to the top of a TBR (to be read) pile and gets a review sooner.

An influencer can be a friend, a librarian, a women’s study leader, a bookstore owner, a book club leader, local radio or TV host, bloggers, etc. Think outside the box and be brave. It never hurts to ask. Most people love to receive a free book. Some of the individuals should receive a paperback instead of an eBook or pdf of the story.

What is a street team? Street team members support an author’s work. They enjoy the author’s writings and like the opportunity to tell others about the author’s new releases. The group is led by the author or the author’s assistant. They design memes, share posts, write Tweets, Instagram, and Facebook messages about the author’s new releases. They can form a community among themselves to work on bigger promotional projects. A wise author will give street members the opportunity to recommit annually or some other time increment in case life needs require the member’s time.

Some Alley Cats have street teams. Amazing. Amazing people.

Some Alley Cats would appreciate an influencer. Some of you have time and would like to be an influencer. Then again, perhaps some of you need an influencer too!

So let’s get together! 

In the comment section simply state if you are willing to be an influencer: read one book and write a review. Say what genre you prefer.

Those who need influencers state the genre of your book. Typically, the author gives a pdf or kindle version of the book to the influencer.

Ready to help each other?

I know I am. I am looking for a few influencers for either my new fantasy for YA or for my contemporary women's.

Go!

Happy reading!
Photo courtesy: Pixabay

~Mary Vee
#Influencer #Streetteams #TheWritersAlley #authors #readers #amreading #amwriting #TheWritersAlley

Link to Mary's books: https://amzn.to/2Fq4Jbm
Mary Vee -Rock climbing, white-water rafting, and hiking top Mary’s list of ways to enjoy a day. She was homeless for a time, was a teacher, a missionary, and married an Air Force vet. Mary has been a finalist in several writing contests and writes for her King.
Visit Mary at her WebsiteBlog, and her ministry blog to families: God Loves Kids. Or chat on Facebook or Twitter
 Meet my new fantasy story, Fire and Thorn. 
A Story for Teens


The day the king of Aerlis heroically dies and his lovely queen is viciously carried off to the dark north, dragons invade the land. Crops and homes near the border burn to the ground. Prince Gilbert must give up what he wants most to save his father’s kingdom and himself. Far away lies the answer. Something unseen. To save the kingdom he must go on a quest to bring the unseen back. A quest filled with danger. There seems an easier solution in the vast north. One that offers great wealth and power. Time is short. One choice will save his kingdom. The other will silence him and his people—forever.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Bloom of the Cross for Writers

As Christians, Easter is THE day. It's the celebration of life - true life in Jesus.

It's the day we are reminded that Jesus has taken our crosses...our burdens, our failures, our sin...and nailed them to the cross. It's the day we are reminded that because of Jesus' resurrection, we have a new life, a beautiful life.

Jesus has taken the ugly, thorny cross of our sin and failure and replaced it with beauty and life. Real life. Joyful life. Life with meaning and purpose.

Our church flowers a barren cross every Easter. People file up to the front and place their flowers upon the cross, reminding them that Jesus replaces our failures with His goodness. What was once a cross of thorns and ugliness becomes a cross of velvet beauty.

That's what Christ does for each and everyone who believes in Him. He takes our failure and sin and turns it into success and beauty. He transforms us, loving us into becoming a person for His glory. A person of beauty. A person of joy. A person who oozes God's love.

As writers, we all struggled with feelings of failure, disappointment, angst, rejection, and despair. It's not an easy road. But like the picture of the flowered cross, when we give our hurts and rejections over to God, He redeems those feelings and replaces them with His love and encouragement.

We keep drawing close to Him, bringing our offering of words before Him each and every day. He will make our words bloom into something beautiful as we trust Him and His timing.

What has the bloom of the cross done for you? Are you experiencing His transforming power or are you struggling under the weight of the thorny cross?

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Sherrinda Ketchersid is a born and bred Texan, preacher’s wife, mother of 4 children, and works part-time as a bookseller at Amazon. With the children grown and out of the house, she weaves tales of fierce knights and their ladies in a time where men were warriors and women had to be strong enough to keep them in check.

After taking time off from writing, she has returned with a new motto in place to spur her on. “Writers write. Everyone else makes excuses.” ~Jack Bickham.  No excuses this time. She is weaving her love of romance with history to bring joy and the hope of love to those who may one day read her stories. Her first book, Lord of Her Heart, releases May 2019.

You can connect with her through:
Newsletter: Sign Up Here
Website: sherrinda.com
Twitter: @sherrinda

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Beware of the Dream

Beware of the dream, Writer.

At the beginning of this writing journey, I remember sitting around with my aspiring author friends and sharing our "dream publisher", our "dream contest win", our "dream career". Like when we were in high school crushing on the cutest guy, we'd crush on the possibilities for our stories. Kinda thrilling, actually. Declaring our very specific "dream" stepping stones would stir up anticipation for a dream-come-true, yet solidify a very stubborn expectation that the dream could only look a certain way.

 The thing is, this narrow focus on a specific something (or someone) distracted me from my unique path. I ignored places that offered potential growth, and I grew weary of the dead ends that cropped up because they looked different than what I expected. But, God's timing has been ever present, and I could only appreciate it once I finally surrendered the idolized "onlys" in my head.

 Remember, Writer, that the dream you create in your mind is not necessarily the dream God has already laid out for you. Take each step as it comes and don't ignore opportunity because it's not what you declared for yourself.

 The dream is much more thrilling when I am expectant for the next step and not stepping into self-prescribed expectations and crushing on a pipe dream that's just as likely to burst as it is to come true.

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Angie Dicken- Angie Dicken credits her love of story to reading British literature during life as a military kid in England. Now living in the U.S. heartland, she's a member of ACFW, sharing about author life with her fellow Alley Cats on The Writer's Alley blog and Facebook page. Besides writing, she is a busy mom of four and works in Adult Ministry. Angie enjoys eclectic new restaurants, authentic conversation with friends, and date nights with her Texas Aggie husband. 

Visit Angie online at angiedicken.com


Thursday, April 11, 2019

Welcome Heidi Chiavaroli + GIVEAWAY

Ashley here! We are so honored to have Heidi at the Alley today. I had the privilege of reading her newest release a little early, and it's both stunning and challenging. Be sure to read the whole interview and comment for a chance to win your own copy! 

Welcome, Heidi!

Thank you so much for having me, Ashley!

 1) Tell us the inspiration behind The Edge of Mercy and what you learned through writing it.

This novel was inspired by two things: my parents’ marriage, and a hike in the woods.
Growing up, I watched my parents go through a lot of marital tribulation. I can still remember pacing my dorm room in college shortly after 9/11, listening to my mother’s voice telling me she was coming home, that she and my dad wanted to work things out.
I’d thought there was no hope for them, honestly. But God had a different plan. This summer, my parents will celebrate thirty-nine years of marriage. Theirs isn’t an easy story, and it isn’t the same as Sarah and Matt’s story (the characters in The Edge of Mercy), but my desire to explore a failing marriage was definitely inspired by watching my parents wade through theirs.
Being married, I’m of course familiar with the many ups and downs of a marital relationship. I wanted to sink deep into a story that faces some of these tough nuances of marriage, what it means to truly love when we don’t feel like it, what it means for love to change and grow as we sink deeper into our marriages.
The historical portion of the story was inspired while planning a hike for my youngest son’s Tiger Cub den. We stumbled upon a massive boulder in the woods with a cave on its west side…along with a rather haunting legend to go with it.
I couldn’t get the legend out of my head, and so I imagined the circumstances behind it. From this local legend, my first time-slip story was born. It would be six years until it would see the light of publication.
I think this story taught me that love is more complicated—and more beautiful—than I previously thought. My historical heroine, Elizabeth writes, “Even as love is an object of but two people, it is shaped and formed by others, by the circumstances that surround it. It can grow, or it can shrivel.”
I’d never really thought about that before, but I think it’s true. How much did having children change my marriage? It certainly made it harder, but it also made my marriage stronger.


2) What was it like to become a hybrid author with this novel and experience the indie side of things?

It was a bit scary, and it also made me immensely grateful for my publisher! J

In all seriousness, I am glad to have put this novel out myself. It made me more confident in the world of publishing, and it’s fun to see what promotion efforts make a direct impact on sales. But it also made me aware of how much a publishing house works as a team with their authors, how each person/group has strengths to support each other. There’s definitely a place for both, and I can see myself continuing down both roads in the future.

3) What might readers be surprised to know about your writing process?

I don’t spend an awful lot of time writing!

It’s not that I deliberately plan it this way, it just always seems as if deadlines come quick. ;) I like to really settle my brain into the story, do a lot of research, visit the sites I’m writing about, etc. Usually I write a book in three months or so (not including editing).

4) I am always amazed by your gripping characterization. What process do you use to develop your characters’ POV?

Thank you so much! I used to do interviews, but I don’t do them anymore. If I can have a good handle on a story, and it’s a story of my heart, the characters usually seem to make themselves appear pretty naturally.

This certainly was not always the case, and even now I often struggle making sure my heroines will be liked by readers. On both The Edge of Mercy and my next Tyndale release, I’ve had to completely rewrite heroines to make them more relatable.

5) I’m always fascinated by how unique your historical threads are — what’s your secret for finding these little historical gems that feel so fresh to readers?


Awww, thanks, Ashley! When I have an idea for a time period I want to write in, I do A LOT of research, and I don’t stop until some nugget of historical fact grabs me. I always know when that is, because my heart beats fast and the story starts coming alive…and I’m excited to tell it!

So that's it, friends! Thank you for stopping by today, and a huge thank you to Heidi for the chance to chat about her writing. 

Heidi is giving away a copy of her newest release to one of our readers! For a chance to win, simply comment below and help me welcome her.

About Heidi Chiavaroli:

Bio: Heidi Chiavaroli is a writer, runner, and grace-clinger who could spend hours exploring places that whisper of historical secrets. She is an ACFW Carol Award winner and a Christy finalist. Both her debut novel, "Freedom's Ring" and her sophomore novel, "The Hidden Side" are Romantic Times Top Picks. "Freedom's Ring" was also a BOOKLIST Top Ten Romance Debut. She makes her home in Massachusetts with her husband and two sons. Visit her at heidichiavaroli.com





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Ashley Clark writes romance with southern grace. She's dreamed of being a writer ever since the thumbprint-cookie-days of library story hour. Ashley has an M.A. in English and teaches literature courses at her local university. She's an active member of ACFW, and when she's not writing, Ashley's usually busy rescuing stray animals or finding charming new towns. 
You can find Ashley on her website,  www.ashleyclarkbooks.com - she would LOVE to have you as a newsletter subscriber so you can get her weekly devotionals. You can sign up on her website.