Monday, November 15, 2010

No Other Review

In No Other, Shawna Williams has given us a love story that will tug at your heart and bring a tear to the eye. Jakob and Meri are teacher and student, but because of circumstances created by the war, Jakob is just now completing his schooling so he and Meri are near the same age. Jakob is dealing with the injustices inflicted on his family because they are German, and Meri is struggling to gain independence from her parents. The two are drawn together as they work on a drama Meri is putting together for a school production.  Meri knows nothing about the faith in God Jakob expresses and isn’t truly interested in finding out. The growth of their love and the circumstances around it lead to events neither anticipated and points out the fact that even a strong faith can lapse in a moment of weakness. A wonderful cast of secondary characters gives this story life and meaning that goes beyond our expectations.  

Shawna's Journey to E-publishing

The journey to publication is a winding, long path, unique to each author and different for every book. I guess I'm a bit fanciful in my pondering, but I like to imagine a book's journey, and ultimate destination, is something guided from above; tailor made for the story being told, and in essence, part of the book's story itself.

If you've read some of my previous guest posts, you may be aware that my debut novel, No Other, and my newest release, In All Things (No Other's sequel) were originally inspired by a dream. Before that dream I hadn't intended to be a writer. The dream was a unique story that became somewhat of an obsession, turned compulsion (to write), and then transformed into a deeply seeded passion. That's the short version, anyway.

Before I continue, I have a confession to make. Though my story, which became stories over time, was Christian fiction, before seeking publication I didn't read Christian fiction. I read mostly non-fiction, primarily historical, and several favorite secular authors – Tom Clancy and Tess Gerritsen to name a few. Beth Moore and Max Lucado were the two Christian authors that I read on a regular basis. Still, I knew I wanted to write Christian fiction. I had this story to tell!

While studying and researching, learning what it took to get published in the CBA, I came to understand that I was faced with a dilemma: shelf these books and write something else, or rewrite them (again) to exclude certain topics. I knew the second choice was something I couldn't do. For one, without those topics there wasn't much of a story. Second, I honestly felt that to have attempted it would have been disobedience on my part. I truly believe that the stories God gave me were a gift. They had a message and they served a purpose. I wanted that to be my reason for writing, not writing to get published. Though, I reminded God often that the published part would be nice too.

So that left me with option number one, which was okay if that's what God intended. Actually, I looked at it like this; if it was what He intended then I could go ahead and submit while working on another story (which comes out in December, btw).

From the moment I started looking into publishers something about a small press appealed to me. It may simply be that my husband and I have always been small business owners, and there is a joy in it that's hard to describe. I compiled a list of presses and agents that I wanted to query and decided to give agents who accepted email queries a try first. I sent my submission to eighteen of them. Sixteen rejected me based on the query, but I did get a couple of nice, encouraging letters in response, so it wasn't all bad. I had two agents ask for a partial and a synopsis.

The idea of an agent reading the synopsis freaked me out a bit because a synopsis is dry, and she'd read that there was a pregnancy out-of-wedlock and a student/teacher affair. While she'd know the setup, she wouldn't know the emotional complexity involved, and that neither of those things were glossed over or excused in any way.

I remember sealing the envelope for the first agent who asked to see a partial and having this distinct mental image of her eyes bulging from her head as she read the synopsis. She rejected the book. The second agent who asked to see a partial had my query for almost six months, so I had already signed a contract with Desert Breeze at that point.

While waiting to hear from agents I starting looking at the small presses on my list. There were several that held a strong appeal to me, but they were closed for submissions. I became aware of Desert Breeze through Michelle Sutton, who had a book about to release with them. What I liked was that this press was looking for Christian stories that tackled some of life's issues that a number of other Christian presses did not, as stated within their guidelines. That sounded a lot like my book. I have another small confession, though. When I initially submitted I did not realize that they were only publishing in electronic form. Not sure how that escaped me, but it did.

And I am SO glad!

I discovered this oversight several days later, and I won't lie, I debated withdrawing my submission. I really wanted my book in print. But... what was the harm in seeing what happened. My husband agreed. I used this waiting time to read a few books published by DB, learn about e-publishing, chat with DB authors through their loop, email a few to ask more personal questions, and Google the rest of them. It seemed that DB's owners were putting together a promising company.

When Gail offered me a contract I was still nervous. I prayed every day until the contract arrived, "God, if this is a bad idea please tell me because otherwise I'm going to sign it." The more I prayed, though, the more at peace I felt. By the time I'd signed I was so excited that I couldn't tell anyone about it without jumping up and down and squealing like a five year old girl.

It's been fifteen months since signing the initial contract and a lot has happened. Desert Breeze is continuing to grow. Digital publishing is taking the industry by storm. While I'd still like to see my books in print, the need isn't there. Every major book chain has an e-book division – the most recent being (DB has a contract with them). A number of new e-readers have hit the market and prices continue to plummet. One year ago a Kindle 2 was $300, now the Kindle 3 is $139. Point being, it's getting easier and cheaper to read an ebook in a convenient, comfortable fashion. My books are able to be shared. As of next month, I'll have three of them out there.

Thanks for the insight into e-publishing. I have a Kindle and really enjoy reading on it.
To read the blurb and a short excerpt, follow the links.
No Other, May, 2010
In All Things, Nov, 2010
Orphaned Hearts, Dec, 2010
Contact Shawna

Leave a comment below and be in the drawing for a pdf. file copy of this book as well as a locket that ties in with both books, but we can mail only to United States. Thanks for stopping by

Monday, November 08, 2010

The Perfect Blend

      In The Perfect Blend, Trish Perry gives us a “perfect blend” of characters who keep you reading just to see what will happen next. Steph Vandergriff is a mess. She’s been jilted at the altar by Rick Manfred who has disappeared, she’s in a strange town, and she’s cut off all ties with her family and friends back home who warned her about her fiancĂ© in the first place. As she sits on the steps of the building where her intended’s law office is, she cannot stop crying. Enter dear Millicent, owner of the tearoom across the street. She takes Steph in and ends up offering her a temporary job to replace a girl on vacation. After a few mishaps, Steph loves the work and Millie. In addition she makes friends with Christie and Liz who offer her a place to live. The problem is that Steph needs a permanent job so she can stay in Middleburg. Kendall James, the handsome owner of the inn where she’s staying, offers to help her find a job, but Steph’s clumsiness and distraction get her into trouble with each attempt. In the meantime she’s attracted to Kendall who is interested in more than finding Steph a job.  Just when their relationship seems to be blossoming, Runaway Rick returns, and Steph has some decisions to make. Can she stand on her own two feet and make her own decisions for her future? Interesting secondary characters, a beautiful historic town, new friends, and a few surprises make this a delightful book for reading curled up in your favorite chair with your own cup of tea.

Now hear from Trish and the story behind the story and the series.

It’s been such a thrill to start this new series! My dear editor at Harvest House asked me to consider a series centered on a cozy tea house, and I jumped at the idea. Although Milly Ashford Jewell, the shop owner, is about my own age, she’s quite a bit like my British mother—sharp, sweet, and interested in people and their happiness. The characters and stories in The Tea Shop Series are set in one of my favorite places ever. Middleburg , Virginia retains much of its historic flavor, with its old stone houses, elegant estates, rural farms, and small-town friendliness. I hope readers will be inclined to do exactly as you suggest, Martha—get comfy with a cup of tea and enjoy the read!

Love the tea room idea. Now if you'd like a copy of this delightful book, tell us what your favorite beverage is when you're writing or reading a good book. We'll put your name in and announce the winner on November 12.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Hatteras Girl Review

Hatteras Girl is a fun story of  friendship, love, and family. It’s a great book to take along when you know you’ll have time to read. It’s relaxing and as fun as a day on the beach. As Jackie Donavan approaches her thirtieth birthday, she has two dreams. One is to find a man to marry and second to own the Bailey House, a now closed bed and breakfast inn where she and her friend Minnie spent delightful afternoons as young girls. The book is full of fun, quirky characters you learn to love. Everyone from her Aunt Sheerly to Uncle Ropey and good friend Buck has Jackie’s best interests at heart, but their efforts don’t always go as planned. Then Davis enters the picture and Jackie sees him as Mr. Right and he holds the key to the Bailey House since he’s the grandson of the Baileys.  Just when she thinks her dreams are coming true, life gets a little weird. Davis offers to lease the inn to Jackie, but doesn’t tell her all the problems to be found in the old house.  The more she learns about Davis, the more she begins to mistrust him. When an old friend offers to help restore the inn, more bad news comes to light and Jackie has some decisions to make. Written from Jackie’s point of view, Alice Wisler gives us a most unusual love story with a few twists and turns that will keep you reading to find out how it all comes together. Read below about Alice Wisler and writing about the Outer Banks of North Carolina. She's a true "Hatteras Girl."
The setting for Hatteras Girl is the Outer Banks
because that's a charming place ---good for flying
kites, swimming, eating seafood, and letting the
wind blow your hair. While I enjoy many of
North Carolina's coasts, there is none
quite like the remote region of Hatteras. I
hold fond memories of the area. It's where I
learned to kayak (I let my characters kayak
on the Sound, too). There's talk of Blackbeard's
legend and treasure, fishing, and the most
beautiful lighthouse in the whole
world, Cape Hatteras. Kites fly best in Hatteras
(I flew one for hours one March) and you can't beat
 the dessert treats at the Orange Blossom Cafe and
Bakery in Buxton. The area is one of God's finest creations, but let
me be the first to bail out when a hurricane starts to come through!
I have always wanted to own a bed and breakfast,but am too lazy
to do so. I let my character Jackie be the one to take on the task in
Hatteras Girl, allowing the dream of ownership drive her to do the
hard work involved. I'll merely come and visit the famous Bailey
House and enjoy the lemon cookies (recipe in the back of the novel)
and breakfasts while I view the sandpipers on the Sound.

Thanks for including the recipe. I wanted some of those cookies several times during the book. Hope to make some soon.

Leave a comment and tell us your favorite place to relax for vacation and you might be the lucky winner of Alice's book. Drawing will be on Monday, November 8.