Friday, December 11, 2009

Book Signing Tomorrow!

Oh, goodness, in the midst of the blog tour rush, I totally forgot to post about the book signing I have coming up tomorrow! My local group, Middle Tennessee Christian Writers (MTCW), is having our annual Christmas brunch in the morning, and then this year those of us who are published—or about to be published—are participating in 2 book signings instead of the usual 1. It’s going to be a killer day, but we always have a huge amount of fun, and I hope you can join us!

The poster at left has the details of time and place. The first is from 1-2:30 at the Books-A-Million at Rivergate, just off I-65 on the north side of Nashville. The second is from 4-5:30 at the Books-A-Million at Mt. Juliet out on the east side off I-40.

I’ll be signing copies of One Holy Night for this Christmas season. For those of you who are fans of Tamara Leigh, please be aware she’ll only be participating in the first signing at Rivergate.

If you’re in the Nashville area, please do stop by at one location or another and join in the fun! We’d love to see you!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Blog Stop Change

There’s been a change to December 14 stop on the Wind of the Spirit blog tour. My favorite Christmas memory will appear on the As the Pages Turn blog. Below is the corrected full list. Be sure to stop by and leave a comment!

Tuesday, Dec. 1:
Wednesday, Dec. 2:
Thursday, Dec. 3
Friday, Dec. 4:
Monday, Dec. 7: (Between the Covers)
Tuesday, Dec. 8:
Wednesday, Dec. 9: (Between the Lines)
Thursday, Dec. 10:
Friday, Dec. 11
Friday, Dec. 11:
Monday, Dec. 14:
Tuesday, Dec. 15:
Wednesday, Dec. 16: (Thoughts in Progress)

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Amber Stockton Blog Tour

Looks like a bunch of us are doing blog tours this holiday season. My good buddy and webmistress Tiff Stockton is getting in on the action too. Below is the information on all her books. There are some great reads here! And don't forget, books make great Christmas gifts. So stock up for friends and family, and treat yourself as well for that much-needed break in all the holiday shopping!

Tiffany Amber Stockton is an author, online marketing consultant, and web site designer who lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart, and their baby daughter in Colorado. They also have a vivacious Border Collie mix named Roxie. Amber has sold eight books to Barbour Publishing with more on the horizon. Other writing credits include five short stories for Romancing the Christian Heart, and contributions to Grit for the Oyster and 101 Ways to Romance Your Marriage. Her goal in writing is to convey the message that God is always present, even during the most difficult circumstances. Read more about her at her web site: http:///

Tiff's Books

Promises, Promises
Barbour Publishing/Heartsong Presents
Book 1 of Liberty's Promise (HP #784)
Buy at
Release date: February 2008
ISBN-10: 1597899399
ISBN-13: 9781597899390

Raelene Strattford believes God has forsaken her, but her neighbor proves just the opposite while giving her a voice in a world where women have none.

Has God forsaken Raelene? What kind of God would take a girl's family and leave her alone in a wild land where women have no voice? When Gustaf Hanssen promises Raelene's dying father that he will take care of her, he finds himself bound to her happiness, her success, and her well-being in ways he never imagined. To keep his word, must Gustaf really oversee all of Raelene's affairs, find her a husband, and maintain her farm, while she does nothing but scorn him? Can God reach through Raelene's pain and self-centeredness and give her the love that awaits, if only she will accept His will?

Read the first chapter here:

Quills & Promises
Barbour Publishing/Heartsong Presents
Book 2 of Liberty's Promise (HP #803)
Buy at
Release date: July 2008
ISBN-10: 160260049X
ISBN-13: 9781602600492

Separated from Madison when he leaves to fight the French and Indians, Elanna Hanssen must choose between her heart and her head, especially when Madison's integrity is questioned.

Innocence paired with wisdom beyond her years--With these traits, Elanna Hanssen unwittingly captures the attentions of Major Madison Scott. Her honest desire to understand the war fascinates him, and he resolves to get to know this perspicacious young lady better. When he is called away to fight the French and the Indians, they begin a correspondence, cautiously baring their hearts to one another. Elanna has never known emotions like these before, but she is drawn to the integrity she sees in her major. When a writer for the first newspaper in the colony questions the major's credentials and activities, however, will she allow her heart or her head to rule? Can true love grow over such distance and around such obstacles?

Read the first chapter here:

Deceptive Promises
Barbour Publishing/Heartsong Presents
Book 3 of Liberty's Promise (HP #823)
Buy at
Release date: November 2008
ISBN-10: 1602601895
ISBN-13: 9781602601895

Living during the American Revolution and the formation of a new nation, Margret Scott gets involved with a spy and a life of deception that could endanger herself, her family and the man she loves.

Is deception fair in wartime? Margret Scott finds she must deal with this question as she becomes attracted to the enigmatic Samuel Lowe. As the tensions grow between the colonists and the British soldiers and loyalists, Margret struggles to determine where Samuel's loyalties lie, despite his reassurances that they lie with the colonists. Samuel's duties have him working for both sides of this war, and he is often torn between what is right and what is wrong. He promises Margret she can trust him, and Margret promises him she does. But can promises born in deception be trusted? Can relationships built in uncertainty survive?

Read the first chapter here:

Liberty's Promise
Amber's first 3 books repackaged into 1 volume
Romancing America collection, Barbour Publishing. Available for Pre-Order! Buy at
Release date: March 2010
ISBN-10: 1602607990
ISBN-13: 9781602607996

Publisher's description: Relive the birth of a new country as three women battle for determining to whom they can entrust their hearts. Raelene is all alone, but is there peace in following the wishes of her deceased father? Elanna is intelligent for her young age, but will her love for an older man turn into a passing fancy when his integrity is questioned? Margret's loyalties are torn when the colonists rebel, for how can a relationship with a British soldier built on deceptions survive? Will each woman find her place of freedom to embrace her faith and trust her heart to love?

Copper and Candles
Barbour Publishing/Heartsong Presents
Book 1 of Michigan historical series (HP #843)
Release date: April 2009
ISBN-10: 1602603405
ISBN-13: 9781602603400

A young lady of means discovers that keeping secrets, no matter how noble the intent, demands a price that she and a refinery worker, with all their resources, might not be able to pay.

Society teas and garden parties, shopping, gossip—life as a young lady of means may be fun, but Felicity wants to do more. Unfortunately, she finds that her position and wealth can sometimes hinder her efforts to help those around her in need. Thus, when a charity case falls ill and cannot work, Felicity determines to go to work as a commoner in Detroit's dangerous factory district. Relationships become complicated, however, and she soon finds herself falling in love with a worker from the copper refinery next door. She knows her family would never accept him as a suitor, but what's a girl to do? What she doesn't know is that Brandt has his own secrets and hides his identity just as carefully as she. Brandt and Felicity soon discover that deception—no matter how noble its intent—demands a price that even they, with all their resources, may not be able to pay. Can they survive the storm when truth is revealed?

Read the first chapter here:

Hearts and Harvest
Barbour Publishing/Heartsong Presents
Book 2 of Michigan historical series (HP #867)
Release date: September 2009
ISBN-10: 1602605769
ISBN-13: 9781602605763

A destitute young man fights society's mores to win the hand of his privileged sweetheart.

William's is a true riches to rags story...Once members of Detroit's elite society, the Berringer family lost everything they had in the financial crash of 1893. From a life of influence and privilege, they now find themselves working a potato patch alongside immigrants and other destitute folk on borrowed land. William's resentment toward his current situation—and mostly toward God for allowing it—simmers barely beneath the surface. All it takes is one charitable visit to the fields from a lovely society darling to burst his fa├žade of acceptance. Annabelle Lawson, convicted by her pastor's admonishing words, begins delivering food and water to the workers on her father's donated land. But as she learns the stories of the people who work there, she becomes increasingly drawn to their plight. Especially that of the inscrutable William Berringer. Can Annabelle and William overcome the stigma placed upon his family by a society that once embraced them? Will her parents remember their own meeting or forbid this budding romance altogether?

Read the first chapter here:

Patterns and Progress
Barbour Publishing/Heartsong Presents
Book 3 of Michigan historical series (HP# )
Release date: December 2009
ISBN-10: 1602606870
ISBN-13: 9781602606876

A farmer's daughter would rather turn back the hands of time than accept the fact that advancement in technology could be in God's plan.

Shannon Delaney was right. Every time she might consider changing her stance on what other people called progress, something bad would happen and she would be proven right again. Take the day Jacob Berringer almost ran her over in that new Model-T, for instance. And he had the nerve to suggest she'd been daydreaming? Or the Titanic. A marvel of modern invention. Look where that got them. Or how about the new tractor her brother insisted they try out. What did he get from that? A broken arm. Why can't things just stay the way they are—the way they should be? Jacob's got his work cut out for him, proving to the stubborn but beautiful Shannon that just because he works for the Henry Ford Company, he isn't evil incarnate. But something about her tells him she's worth the effort, and when Jacob puts his mind to something, he doesn't turn back. But will either of them look to God for direction?

Read the first chapter here:

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Wind of the Spirit Blog Tour!

Below is the schedule for the upcoming Wind of the Spirit blog tour. Don’t miss out—stop by these sites and leave a comment. You might find out some things about me and the series you don't already know!

Tuesday, Dec. 1:
Wednesday, Dec. 2:
Thursday, Dec. 3
Friday, Dec. 4:
Monday, Dec. 7: (Between the Covers)
Tuesday, Dec. 8:
Wednesday, Dec. 9: (Between the Lines)
Thursday, Dec. 10: Friday, Dec. 11
Friday, Dec. 11:
Monday, Dec. 14:
Tuesday, Dec. 15:
Wednesday, Dec. 16: (Thoughts in Progress)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

New Editions

In case I haven’t mentioned this before, we’re planning to release new, slightly updated editions of Daughter of Liberty and Native Son at some point in the next year or two—the exact date is still on the drawing board. As soon as we find a slot for them, I’ll announce the release dates here as well as on my Publishing Dream blog.

The new editions will be done in the same size and with covers consistent with Wind of the Spirit, including a larger font to make them easier to read. Zondervan, who published the first 2 books, made the text awfully small in order to keep the page count lower, and that’s something I’ve been wanting to fix for a long time. So as I can squeeze it into my schedule, I’m digging back through the manuscripts, correcting minor details and adding a bit here and there. Most readers who’ve read the original versions won’t notice the difference, but I’m incorporating some newer research to make the text as accurate as possible.

DOL has been finalized, but I’ve only gotten to chapter 7 in NS. In the meantime, I had an illustrator recreate the maps, and I just got the final files. So naturally I want to share! Aren’t they pretty? We added a few new details to the originals. Joseph Warren’s home has been added to the Boston map, and Tess Howard’s mansion is on the Boston area map. A few other features have been added as well.

I’ve always loved maps. A detailed map is a wonderful aid to help you orient the action in a historical novel, and these ought to help bring the story to life even more vividly.

After some feedback from a reader, I’m seriously considering having both books converted to Kindle format. WOTS is already available, and on Kindle the text can be enlarged to a comfortable size. It isn’t terribly expensive to have the text converted, but it’s another item that has to be shoehorned into the budget, so it may be the first of the year before they’re available in that format.

And then the question arises, what about Barnes and Noble’s new e-reader, and Sony, and so on. So far the books we have up on Kindle haven’t sold well enough to justify the expense, but they have to be marketed just like a print version, so that’s another thing we have to think about. If you have an opinion, please post a comment and let me know what your feelings are about e-books vs print books.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Blog Tour for One Holy Night!

Below are the dates and sites for the month-long One Holy Night Blog tour. Be sure to drop in on these blogs to check out my interviews, articles, and book trailer.

Some of the blogs are also doing a drawing for a free copy of One Holy Night, which received the Christian Small Publishers 2009 Book of the Year award. It would make a terrific Christmas gift for you or someone you love!

Monday, Nov. 2:
Tuesday, Nov. 3
Wednesday, Nov. 4
Thursday, Nov. 5
Friday, Nov. 6
Friday, Nov. 6
Monday, Nov. 9:
Tuesday, Nov. 10:
Wednesday, Nov. 11:
Thursday, Nov. 12:
Friday, Nov. 13:
Monday, Nov. 16:
Tuesday, Nov. 17:
Wednesday, Nov. 18:
Wednesday, Nov. 18:
Thursday, Nov. 19:
Friday, Nov. 20:
Monday, Nov. 23:
Tuesday, Nov. 24:
Wednesday, Nov. 25:
Friday, Nov. 27:

And coming up in December, Wind of the Spirit will be featured on a blog tour as well. Check back here later in the month for details!

Monday, October 5, 2009

Living History

One of the best ways to learn about the colonial period is to attend reenactments. Nothing can give you the feel and look of a historical period the way breathing in campfire smoke and mingling with people dressed in authentic garb and living like people of the era can. So this past Saturday I checked out a local reenactor encampment, Daniel Smith Colonial Days at Historic Rock Castle in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

This is one of the few colonial-era reenactments in this region, where the Civil War is still very much an issue among Tennessee natives, so I wasn’t about to let this opportunity pass me by. As you can see from these photos, it was a fine day, and the event was very well attended, which is immensely encouraging. And I got some pretty good photos, which might come in handy for various projects. Of course, it’s hard getting good shots with so many folks in modern dress wandering around.

In spite of being buried in business affairs, I have made a bit more progress on Crucible of War, though I definitely need to make a lot more if this installment is going to make the release date. One thing that’s hampered me is having a case of writers block. Luckily, my Sheaf House partner, Joy DeKok, came for a visit to meet some of our business contacts, plan, and brainstorm. Joy just happens to be a certified author coach, and on her last day here she began casually asking a lot of what if questions and suggesting possible scenarios. In one session we outlined the central crisis of the volume, and from that developed my characters’ goals, motivation, and conflict.

I was so excited that after she left I wrote the entire last chapter in almost one sitting. And boy, is it diabolical!! Talk about a cliffhanger! I’m going to try to cover the major part of 1777 in this book. The year starts off with the Battles of Trenton and Princeton, which are pretty exciting to begin with and will require some intensive research and plotting. Then the French and Spanish came aboard as allies to the Americans, the pivotal battle of Saratoga followed, then Howe’s campaign to capture Philadelphia and Washington’s subsequent campaign to take it back again.

And of course, Elizabeth and Jonathan’s story is going to develop apace, as is Pieter Vander Groot’s and Andrews and Blue Sky’s. So readers are in for some hair-raising and heart-wrenching reading that ought to keep them flipping those pages. That’ my goal, anyway. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Book Signing at 21st Century

Wouldn’t you know I’d forget to post the time for the book signing! It runs from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, October 3. I hope to see you there!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Upcoming Events

I’ve been out of town for several days, incorporating a visit with friends with a speaking engagement at a book club in the Warner Robins, GA, area. I had a great time while there, and the presentation to the Houston County Book Browsers went very well, with a number of the ladies buying my books. But the 7 hour drive home yesterday through storms was not nearly as enjoyable. It was a relief to finally get home safe and sound! And now I’m rushing to get caught up on the day-to-day minutia, as usual!

If you’re going to be in the Nashville area this coming Saturday, October 3, please join me and several other authors from the Nashville Christian Writers Association for a book signing at 21st Century Christian, 2809 12th Avenue South, Nashville, TN 37204. I’ll be signing copies of Daughter of Liberty, Native Son, and Wind of the Spirit, along with One Holy Night.

Also signing will be Darin W. Montgomery, Membership Guide to the Body of Christ; Dr. Etido Akpan, Strategic Alignment: The Business Imperative for Leading Organizations; Carol Harper, Through the Eye of a Needle; Robin Miller, A Biblical Journey of ABC’s; Sandy Griffin, Free to Be Me: Creating the Dance of Your Life; Chris Fenoglio, Kristin and the Santa Secret; and Catisha Asbury, Jesus Child: Christian Urban Poetry, Volume 1.

An American colonial and Revolutionary War reenactors event will be going on at the same time in Hendersonville. The annual Daniel Smith Colonial Days Reenactment and Fair takes place October 3 and 4 at Historic Rock Castle. I plan to drop by before or after the book signing or on Sunday as reenactors bring to life the period from 1779 to 1820. I attended last year’s event and it was excellent! This year I’m hoping to get some good high res pictures that I can use for covers for my series, including the new editions of Daughter of Liberty and Native Son we’ll be doing within the next couple of years. Bob Dulany of Dulany Printers, who participates as a reenactor, also has wonderful pictures available. Either way, I’m going to have excellent choices for covers for the entire series.

A final note: Although One Holy Night didn’t win the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year contest, I’m very honored that it was a finalist along with 4 other excellent novels in the Long Contemporary category. My heartiest congratulations go to Sharon Hinck whose novel Symphony of Secrets took top honors!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Encouraging Words

Quote of the Day

“But what do we mean by the American Revolution? Do we mean the American war? The Revolution was effected before the war commenced. The Revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments, of their duties and obligations. . . . This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people was the real American Revolution.”
—John Adams, letter to H. Niles, 13 February 1818

Recent Reader Feedback

We all need encouragement from time to time, and I’m convinced that those of us engaged in creative endeavors are more needy than most. Whenever I start questioning whether the effort I put into writing this series is worth it, I hear from some of my readers. Their kindness and interest in my books send me back to my computer and stack of resources. Below are several of the most recent e-mails and reviews I’ve received that got me fired up to dig in and write Crucible of War!

“I just received my long awaited 3rd book in the series, Wind of the Spirit, two days ago and finished it in 5 hours. How many more books are planned for this series? What are the titles and expected release dates? I have been thoroughly engrossed in this well-written series, and usually experience a real let-down when I’ve read the last page. So when will Beth/Oriole/Mr. Freeman//Healer Woman and Patriot/Jon/White Eagle be allowed to live as one? The suspense is torture! I [spoiler deleted] am awaiting the retelling of the Delaware Crossing and the Revolution’s fortunes in the next installment.”
—A real devotee (e-mail)

“I just finished reading Wind of the Spirit and it was just as terrific as Daughter of Liberty and Native Son were. After reading the end of Wind of the SpiritI have no doubt that you have plans to continue the saga. Do you have a timeline for the next and future chapters of this outstanding storyline ? As a selfish reader I hope Part 4 of the American Patriot Series is coming soon !!! Congtatulations on your success with this series and I look forward to the future volumes !!!”

“Good Afternoon Mrs. Hochstetler: I have just finished reading Wind of the Spirit. I enjoyed it as much as Daughter of Liberty and Native Son. However, it seemed that the story did not quite come to a conclusion. Are you planning a Volume 4??? I had put in my order for Volume 3 with CBD even before it was released. If there is to be a Volume 4, I don't want to miss it!!!”
—A faithful reader (e-mail)

I get e-mails like these from fans from time to time, and I always respond with my thanks for their kindness and all the details they asked for—and often possibly more than they really wanted to know. LOL! But I rarely receive a reply back. So I worry that my message either disappeared into cyberspace or ended up in their junk folder. So if you e-mailed me and you didn’t get a response back, that’s undoubtedly what happened. If any of my readers take the time to contact me, I’m certainly going to answer!

Here are a couple of online reviews of the series.

“Being a Civil War buff, I wasn’t sure I’d like anything from the Revolution. But as the characters in Daughter of Liberty came to life with visceral detail and emotional investment, I could not turn my back on them. The tension between determined and independent Elizabeth Howard and the complex and delicious Jonathan Carleton turned the pages like bacon curling in the sear of a frying pan. Even minor characters’ depictions take on three dimensions and add a realism very difficult to achieve. The complexity of intrigue and historical developments keeps the pace between lively and riveting. The last quarter of the book was a true climax and resolution—one of the best I’ve ever read.

“I have been to Boston three times in my life, briefly, and I have to say that Ms. Hochstetler’s period recreation of the town and outlying geography is remarkable. The current labyrinth of man-made landmarks all but obliterates the topography, but she depicts it in such a convincing and authoritative way that time rewinds and the reader experiences the innocence of the country’s birthing. The author’s command of history goes beyond impressive. Events, names, places, military accoutrement, and even clothing saturate this read with authenticity. I MUST find out more about Jonathan Carleton. He made a deep impression on me as a reader and now, a fan. On to Native Son, the second one in the series!”
—Kathleen L. Maher on Amazon

“J. M. Hochstetler takes us in her time machine and transforms poster-stamp names in history, such as George Washington, John Hancock or Samuel Adams, into real characters we can see, hear and at times even smell, like or dislike, depending on their moods or deeds. She helps readers reconnect to the pluck that built her nation’s love of freedom and independent enterprise. In these difficult economic times, Americans need to be reminded of the resourcefulness and courage of their forebears, of the united spirit that rescued them from poverty and tyranny, and to show them that once again they can rise to overcome oppressive conditions.

“This fictional trilogy set in the American Revolution is not only a thoroughly entertaining Five-Star read but also belongs in every library across the country, especially from middle schools to universities. As required reading, it would certainly make history the exciting study it truly is and give back to Americans pride in their heritage.”
—Bonnie Toews

My deepest thanks to everyone who has contacted me and/or posted an online review. I value your feedback more than I can say. Knowing that you care as much about this foundational period in our history and about the characters—real and fictional—that inhabit the pages of my books as I do keeps me writing!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Web Surfin'

In case you missed this bit of trivia, I based Daughter of Liberty on the 1982 TV movie The Scarlet Pimpernel starring Anthony Andrews and Jane Seymour. Odd’s fish, m’dear, what a romp it was, and though it’s a bit dated now, I still think it’s one of the best historical movies that’s come down the pike. So when I was doing a bit of Web surfing Tuesday and ran across the Web site Blakeney Manor, I was thrilled. To think that someone else was so obsessed with the inimitable Sir Percy and lovely Marguerite that they devoted an entire Web site and obviously hours and hours of effort and research to creating this site is mind boggling! Why didn’t I think of it first????

Go to Blakeney Manor to check out the original series by Baroness Orczy and the various movies as well as research links galore. There’s even a gift shop, though it’s pretty rudimentary. I hope they add to it soon. The thought of owning an object that sports “Sink me” or “Odd’s fish” or even “Noblesse Oblige” is just too delicious! And at the bottom of the home page you’ll find a link to a test to determine which Scarlet Pimpernel character you are, which includes code to embed it on your site or blog. You’ll also find it here down below on the sidebar. Naturally, I turned out to be Sir Percy himself! Here are the descriptions given.

On the picture of Sir Percy: You are brave, heroic, and very clever. Your enemies hate you. Everyone else adores you. You're a snappy dresser, and like every true Englishman, you just hate mushy sentimentality.

Below: You are a brave, heroic, and very clever Englishman with a philanthropic streak. You are the leader of fashion in London, live in a very big house, have a very beautiful wife, and a lot of lolly. When you're not playing the social fop, you enjoy organizing and carrying out dash-cunning rescues of poor little Frenchies from the scummy hands of the evil Revolutionary Government. Go you!

I must say that’s me—well, almost! No idea what it means that I turned out to be a man—undoubtedly there’s some Freudian implication there somewhere—but as long as you’re rich and an adventurer, does it really matter what sex you are? Somebody please send me the cash. Large bills, thank you! I’ll get started freeing those oppressed Frenchies right way!

I really cracked up when my middle daughter turned out to be Marguerite. Believe me, if you knew her, you’d know that was a foregone conclusion!

As if that wasn’t bad enough, my buddy Lori Benton started another nasty addiction by introducing me to a site called Morph Thing. You can use the images they provide or upload your own and morph 2 or more to create a blend. Lori has quickly become an expert at this, while I’m a little more morphing challenged. We’ve both been trying to come up with the main characters from our books, but she’s doing a lot better job than I am.

Here’s her version of Elizabeth Howard, which turned out amazingly close to the image I have of her in my head. She’s less glam, of course—no modern make-up was available in the 1770s, after all—but this is pretty much what Elizabeth looks like to me.

Her “parents” are:

Saira Mohan
Maria Menounos
Evangeline Lilly
Anne Hathaway
Catherine Zeta Jones
Ashley Greene

I’m also obviously culturally challenged because Anne Hathaway and Catherine Zeta-Jones are the only names I recognize! Haven’t a clue who the others are.

Lori almost has her hero, Ian, down pat, but I when I tried to create Jonathan Carleton I didn’t have much success. I know he contains some features from Philip Winchester and Simon Baker—like those fabulous blue eyes—but a morph of them ends up too much like one or the other. Lori tried adding several others to the mix, but we haven’t gotten there yet. We just need the right parents. If we ever succeed in creating him, I’ll definitely post the pic here so you can see what I see when I think of Jonathan!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Awakening the Muse

I’ve begun serious work on book 4, Crucible of War, and in addition to researching the actual historical facts, I’m thinking about theme, plot, and characterization. At this month’s meeting of my local writers group, Middle Tennessee Christian Writers (MTCW), we focused on Debra Dixon’s book Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, which I found very helpful in jump-starting the process.

Honesty, I’ve kinda been dreading diving into the long, intensive process of writing another volume in this series. So I was excited when this study provided some welcome encouragement and guidance. Because all good stories revolve around the characters who inhabit it, thinking about what drives them, and specifically about what drives my series characters in this particular volume, awakened the dormant muse with a vengeance. Good thing too because I was just about to give her a good hard kick in the hindquarters. LOL!

Deciding which historical events will be covered in Crucible of War was the easy part. Obviously there are the battles of Trenton and Princeton, and a fleet of battles during the summer of 1777 that followed. In this volume I also want to delve more deeply into the political wrangling of the period by involving Elizabeth with the Continental Congress and real-life people like John Adams and Benjamin Franklin. But what about my characters’ personal lives? How am I going to weave their individual stories into the real happenings in a way that keeps readers flipping the pages and looking forward to the next book?

And btw, boy, do I have a cliffhanger in store at the end of this one. It’s gonna be wrenching, to say the least! LOVE to torture my characters!

But back to the subject. Thinking deeply about my characters’ goals (what they want), motivation (why they want it), and conflicts (what’s standing in the way of reaching it) has me excited all over again. I’m basically a seat-of-the-pants (SOTP) writer, which means that carefully outlining the plot in detail before I begin to write doesn’t work for me. I’m too impatient to leap into the world of my characters and see what happens next. I want the characters to drive the story. They’re in the midst of certain life-changing historical events, interacting with the real people who lived through them and in many cases caused them. How do my characters react to all that? What events of their own lives intersect with the real historical events? That’s where goal, motivation, and conflict provides clarity, not to mention plot points.

In my next post, I’m going to talk more about each of my main characters—Elizabeth Howard, Jonathan Carleton, and Charles Andrews—and their individual goals, motivations, and conflicts. Of course, this is a work in progress, so parts will remain sketchy until I get deeper into the story. And as the story progresses, like it does for real people, some of their goals, motivation, and conflicts will change as they grow and mature. That’s what makes a well-told story so fascinating: It reveals hidden depths in our own hearts that inform our understanding of who we are and why we act as we do and enables us to change too. Hopefully in positive ways!

Now I’m looking forward to discovering what 1777 has in store for Elizabeth, Jonathan, and Charles. And I’m glad you’re joining me on this journey! I promise it’s going to be a bumpy, but exhilarating ride!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Reader Feedback

I thought I’d share several recent reviews posted on Amazon.

“Being a Civil War buff, I wasn’t sure I’d like anything from the Revolution. But as the characters in Daughter of Liberty came to life with visceral detail and emotional investment, I could not turn my back on them. The tension between determined and independent Elizabeth Howard and the complex and delicious Jonathan Carleton turned the pages like bacon curling in the sear of a frying pan. Even minor characters’ depictions take on three dimensions and add a realism very difficult to achieve. The complexity of intrigue and historical developments keeps the pace between lively and riveting. The last quarter of the book was a true climax and resolution—one of the best I’ve ever read.

“I have been to Boston three times in my life, briefly, and I have to say that Ms. Hochstetler’s period recreation of the town and outlying geography is remarkable. The current labyrinth of man-made landmarks all but obliterates the topography, but she depicts it in such a convincing and authoritative way that time rewinds and the reader experiences the innocence of the country’s birthing.

“The author’s command of history goes beyond impressive. Events, names, places, military accoutrement, and even clothing saturate this read with authenticity. I MUST find out more about Jonathan Carleton. He made a deep impression on me as a reader and now, a fan. On to Native Son, the second one in the series!”
—Kathleen L. Maher

“J. M. Hochstetler is able to bring history to life with her exceptional prose and attention to detail. If you want a Last of the Mohicans type adventure with a hearty dose of romance and realism, buy these books! My only regret is that she doesn’t write fast enough and there aren’t enough books like hers! Wonderful, inspiring, educational reading! Bless you, J. M.! I use your books for my own research!”
—Laura Frantz

“J. M. Hochstetler takes us in her time machine and transforms poster-stamp names in history, such as George Washington, John Hancock or Samuel Adams, into real characters we can see, hear and at times even smell, like or dislike, depending on their moods or deeds. She helps readers reconnect to the “pluck” that built her nation’s love of freedom and independent enterprise. In these difficult economic times, Americans need to be reminded of the resourcefulness and courage of their forebears, of the united spirit that rescued them from poverty and tyranny, and to show them that once again they can rise to overcome oppressive conditions.

“This fictional trilogy set in the American Revolution is not only a thoroughly entertaining Five-Star read but also belongs in every library across the country, especially from middle schools to universities. As required reading, it would certainly make history the exciting study it truly is and give back to Americans pride in their heritage.”
—Bonnie Toews

I’m working hard to make this series not only accurate and authentic to the time, but also a great read. Receiving this kind of reader validation makes all the effort worthwhile. Thank you, ladies, for your kind comments! You keep me going!

My next post will be about constructing book 4 of the series, Crucible of War. I’m going to have plenty to share about that in the coming months since it’s scheduled for a fall 2011 release. Stay tuned!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Adding Audio

When I created the One Holy Night video, I realized that adding an audio line would make the trailer a lot more effective. I originally wanted to use Simon and Garfunkel’s 1966 cut on the Parsley Sage Rosemary and Thyme album “Silent Night/7 O’clock News,” which would have been terrific background audio for this particular story. But the chances of getting permission, even for a prohibitive fee, were too slight to waste the time trying. I figured if they actually allowed me to use it, I wouldn’t be able to afford it anyway. So I resigned myself to doing a search on sites where you can download audio files.

I quickly stumbled across, where I found a track of wind blowing softly that I wanted for the trailer’s beginning and end. After doing considerable searching and comparing versions, I also snagged a recording of “Silent Night” with a lovely, haunting female voice at an affordable price. Good enough. That became my soundtrack.

For the Wind of the Spirit trailer, I wasn’t sure what kind of soundtrack would work the best, but I wanted something extraordinary. I’d decided the introduction would be the rolling growl of thunder at a distance. After listening to a bunch of versions on audiosparx, I settled on one that had just the effect I wanted. That took up about fifteen seconds, but the trailer was running about a minute and a half, so what about the rest of it?

I studied my images and began searching on sound effects and Indian chants that might fit. I found some hysterically funny files of stuff like an arrow being shot and thunking into a target, which sounds nothing like you’d imagine. I envisioned a long, hissing swish as the arrow arced through the air, followed by a satisfyingly solid clunk as it sliced into the target. Forget that. None of them lasted more than a couple of seconds, and they sure didn’t sound like a shaft hissing through the air. But I did find the sound of fire burning and some interesting Indian chants. They were all really cheap, so I bought them, while wondering how I was going to stitch them all together into a coherent soundtrack.

Then I decided to see if I couldn’t find a better Indian chant. I wasn’t really satisfied with the one I’d found, so on the off chance there might be something better that I hadn’t run across yet, I searched on Native American chant again. And this time as I worked my way down through the list of results, listening to each in turn, I hit the jackpot.

The first couple of seconds assured me I’d found my theme song. By the time it finished, I had goosebumps. It wasn’t an Indian chant at all, but a movie-style intro theme, and it absolutely blew me away! I was thrilled . . . and then I looked at the price.

$179.00. No cheaper personal use rights, either, just professional.

I got real close to the screen to make sure I wasn’t reading it wrong. Nope. I wasn’t.

I sat back, thinking rapidly. Okay. This is a book trailer, for Pete’s sake, not a movie trailer. Sure this theme is better than anything I envisioned in my wildest dreams, but get real. I’d already plunked down a larger chunk of change for my must-have absolutely perfect Native American images than I’d planned, and $179 more just wasn’t in the budget. I’d make do with something less expensive.

Except . . . this one was perfect!! And now I was going to be terribly disappointed with anything else. Oh, bummer. After thinking about it for a few minutes, I decided it couldn’t hurt to put it into my shopping cart so I wouldn’t lose it. Then I’d think about it for a few days. I could always come back and purchase it if I won the lottery. Of course, that would mean I’d have to start playing it, and I don’t gamble, sooooo . . .

So I clicked on the buy button. A screen comes up that asks you what rights you want to purchase, and there was a list of professional rights ranging from small business on up to movie and TV. Naturally I clicked on small business and was then deposited in the shopping cart. Not expecting anything, I glanced at the amount before closing out.


I let out a whoop that could have been heard from here to Nashville and raced to grab my credit card! All righty, then!!!! I was in business!!!! I downloaded that sucker in a heartbeat and immediately pulled up the trailer. I hadn’t gotten the timing right yet and not all of the effects and transitions were in place, but what the hay. I dropped that puppy into the audio line behind the thunder and fired her up.

The effect was jaw dropping. All of a sudden the entire video came together and flowed like silk!! It just swept me along from beginning to end, and hopefully does other viewers too. If you haven’t watched it yet, be sure to take a look and let me know what you think.

Because the theme is just barely over a minute long, I ended up having to splice it. That’s not too difficult in Movie Maker—couldn’t be if I managed to do it without even reading the directions. You can see the sound waves in the audio line, which helped me figure out where to make the cut. I pulled the track back from its end to cut off the conclusion, plunked the file in a second time, and pulled that one back from the beginning to leave only the end. Then by lengthening and shortening each segment bit by bit and running the video across the splice each time to test it, I was able to adjust it until I found a spot where the transition sounded reasonably natural, and where the two pieces together went all the way through the credit roll. So far nobody who’s listened to it has been able to tell where the splice occurs.

After I’d gotten all the transitions and effects the way I wanted them, I adjusted the length of time each image is onscreen to coordinate it as much as possible with the audio line, and it was finished. That’s all there was to it. If you haven’t tried putting together one of these videos, give it a try! It’s a tremendous amount of fun. It’s almost as much of a blast as writing the story in the first place, and if I can figure out how to do it, anyone can!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Finding Elizabeth and Carleton

Finding images to represent my hero and heroine turned out to be a lot more difficult than I’d anticipated. Because the story is set during the American Revolution, I had to have models who were costumed consistently with the era. The Native American frames, which I’d thought would be my greatest challenge, were taken care of, as were all the rest. How hard could it be to find a couple of 18th century portraits that would do?

First I tried a quick search on my old standby, istockphoto, to see whether I might be able to score real-life models more along the lines of Philip Winchester. Umm . . . no. Searching for both male and female models netted me faces that looked way too modern, even when no costume was visible in the photo. Dear Philip pretty much ruined me for the men, and hardly any were blond anyway. Don’t even get me started on the subject of the women who turned up, especially their hair styles. And every one of the people in their small selection of American Revolution images either had their backs turned or their heads cut off. Sigh. A general search on male models turned up . . . well, let’s just say I don’t want to go there.

Obviously, the only way I was going to find models in authentic costume was to locate 18th century portraits that fit my characters. I searched until my head swam and eventually came up with Sir George Kneller’s portrait titled Lady in a Green Dress. I was immediately enchanted. She’s lovely, and she IS Elizabeth! In fact, I’m thinking I may hire an illustrator to recreate her in the proper context for the Daughter of Liberty cover when we publish a revised version next May. Happily, although the portrait dates to 1703, the model’s costume is neutral enough in style to be acceptable—and it’s green, Elizabeth’s best color.

One down, one to go.

Finding Carleton was an entirely different matter. I soon discovered that most male portraits from that period are of men who are considerably older than Jonathan’s 33 at this point in the story. Undoubtedly that’s because they had arrived at a station in life where they merited and could afford to commission a portrait. I found a few of younger men . . . but how can I phrase this delicately? Umm . . . judging from the sample I found, British men of the period were, shall we say, not what most of us would consider model material. And there were very few blonds. It was mainly a choice of dark hair, red hair, or white wigs. Alas, Jonathan is decidedly blond.

I spent so many hours online searching for just the right man that I began to seriously consider just going with the photo of Philip Winchester in his Crusoe persona. But there was no getting around the copyright issue, alas. Not to mention that he’s way to recognizable, and a movie/TV star is not what I wanted to portray my character.

Back to the search. I scoured numerous museum Web sites, searching on well-known artists such as Gilbert Stuart, Charles Willson Peale, Joshua Reynolds, Jonathan Singleton Copley, and others. And this time I finally came up with a couple of possibilities. The leading contender quickly became a portrait of Captain George K. H. Coussmaker painted by Joshua Reynolds in 1782. There were several issues with this image, however. First, George is just too young. And he’s too pretty-boy pouty to be quite right for Carleton. Worse, he’s dressed in British uniform. Admittedly, Carleton was a British officer at the beginning of the series, but he was in the 17th Light Dragoons, not the First Regiment of Foot Guards. Helmet, not cocked hat. The uniforms are also different, though most viewers won’t know that.

On the plus side, he’s posed with a bay horse—white blaze, not black like Devil, but nevertheless, it’s a nice touch. And even though his hair is frizzy where Carleton’s is perfectly straight, it is light enough to be considered blond, especially once I did a color correction in Microsoft Picture Manager. Okay, so you can’t have everything. He does look mighty good in those tight white breeches and knee-length black boots. And considering that I couldn’t find anything else remotely acceptable, and most museums—the Met again in this instance—grant usage of images for non-commercial and/or educational purposes, I decided I’d agonized over this video long enough.

It turned out that once he was in place, George was small enough within the portrait’s context that the details were less noticeable. The whole worked well enough that I quickly became reconciled to losing Philip.

That left one last detail: the audio line. More about that tomorrow.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Constructing the Video

A video trailer requires many more images than a book cover. I’d need an image for each frame as well as a soundtrack. So in my script I noted where the audio line would come and, and then, beside each line of text, the kind of image that would best illustrate that segment. This is how the script looked after I added general image descriptions and indicated where the audio line would come in:

Audio: rolling thunder

1. Wind of the Spirit [cover background scene]

2. The American Patriot Series Book 3 [black background]

3. by J. M. Hochstetler [black background]

Audio: sound effects and/or music

4. A spy for General Washington [portrait of Washington]

5. Elizabeth Howard is drawn into the very maw of war [portrait of beautiful young woman]

6. Where disaster all but ends the American rebellion [RevWar battle scene]

7. Yet her heart is fixed on Jonathan Carleton [portrait of handsome man]

8. missing more than a year after he disappeared into the wilderness. [forest]

9. Now the Shawnee war chief White Eagle, [cropped cover]

10. Carleton is caught in a bitter war of his own [Native American image]

11. against white settlers encroaching on Shawnee lands [Indian battle scene]

12. the tender love of the beautiful widow Blue Sky [beautiful Native American woman]

13. and the schemes of the vengeful shaman Wolfslayer [Native American man]

14. Can Elizabeth’s love bridge the miles that separate them [distant vista]

15. and the savage bonds that threaten to tear him forever from her arms? [Native Americans]

16. The nation’s epic struggle for freedom continues . . . [black background]

17. Book cover

18. Credits

I had the full image of the background for the book cover for the first frame and easily constructed frames 2 and 3 directly in Movie Maker. An online search yielded the portrait of Washington I wanted on the Metropolitan Museum of Art Web site, with permission to use it for private non-commercial and educational purposes. Then in searching my old standby, istockphoto, for Revolutionary War images, I found a video clip of reenactors enacting a battle that would work perfectly for frame #6.

For the time being, a photo of Philip Winchester in his Crusoe persona at left that I copied off NBC’s Crusoe Web site stood in for Carleton very nicely in frame #7. His features are a bit more rugged than I envision Carleton’s, but he’s amazingly close, plus he’s dressed in a costume that is close enough even though it’s probably a decade off. The cropped Wind of the Spirit cover focusing on the Native American image went into frame #9. I also found a haunting image of misty woods that worked perfectly for frame #8 and a vista taken in upper New York state that beautifully supplied #14.

In addition to images for Elizabeth and Carleton, that left the Native American images I would need for frames 10, 11, 12, 13, and 15. I wasn’t very confident that I could find exactly what I needed, and I was (unhappily) prepared to make compromises if necessary.

Thankfully it occurred to me to do a search on Native American stock photos. I had no idea whether there were any sites that specialized in those, but I hit the jackpot immediately with Native Stock, which offers a wide range of images searchable by tribe. What a treasure trove! I’m sure I’ll mine this site again for future projects. Among the Shawnee images I found several of members of the Shawnee nation dressed in historic costume for a production about Tecumseh. It was even set in Ohio! They were perfect for my purposes, and I was pretty excited!!

Ultimately, my greatest challenge turned out to be finding images for my hero and heroine. The script required images for both Elizabeth and Carleton, but finding authentic-looking stand-ins for these two characters turned out to be hair-pullingly frustrating, made worse because I’d already found the rest of the images I needed and had them in place. And they looked great! I finally began to think I’d never be able to complete this video!

I’ll talk more about the hunt tomorrow.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Developing the Script

Some people recommend keeping trailers to under 1 minute. I knew that was going to be way too short to effectively tell this story. My goal was to keep the running time right around 1 ½ minutes. That’s about what the One Holy Night trailer came in at, and that felt not too long and not too short. To accomplish it, I needed to grab the high points of my copy, keeping in mind the images I’d need to illustrate them. After I condensed the wording somewhat, while adding a couple of important story elements, I ended up with this raw text:

“A spy for General Washington, Elizabeth Howard is drawn into the very maw of war where disaster all but ends the American rebellion. Yet her heart is fixed on Jonathan Carleton, still missing more than a year after he disappeared into the wilderness. Now the Shawnee war chief White Eagle, Carleton is caught in a bitter war of his own—against white settlers encroaching on Shawnee lands, the tender love of the beautiful widow Blue Sky, and the schemes of the vengeful shaman Wolfslayer. Can Elizabeth’s love bridge the miles that separate them and the savage bonds that threaten to tear him forever from her arms? The nation’s epic struggle for freedom continues . . . ”

After adding the introductory and concluding text, I created 18 frames:

1. Wind of the Spirit

2. The American Patriot Series Book 3

3. by J. M. Hochstetler

4. A spy for General Washington

5. Elizabeth Howard is drawn into the very maw of war

6. where disaster all but ends the American rebellion

7. Yet her heart is fixed on Jonathan Carleton

8. still missing more than a year after he disappeared into the wilderness

9. Now the Shawnee war chief White Eagle,

10. Carleton is caught in a bitter war of his own

11. against white settlers encroaching on Shawnee lands

12. the tender love of the beautiful widow Blue Sky

13. and the schemes of the vengeful shaman Wolfslayer

14. Can Elizabeth’s love bridge the miles that separate them

15. and the savage bonds that threaten to tear him forever from her arms?

16. The nation’s epic struggle for freedom continues . . .

17. Book cover

18. Credits

The text for a couple of the frames was a bit long, but I was pretty sure they were still short enough for viewers to read easily if the frame didn’t speed by too quickly. I knew I’d need to keep an eye on that.

Now that I had a script I was satisfied with, the next step was to determine the images I’d need for each frame. Most of them fell into place pretty quickly, but finding a couple I had to have gave me major fits. I’ll describe the process and the results tomorrow.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Creating a Video Trailer

Video book trailers have become so popular that it seems as if just about every recent release has come equipped with one. Authors and, in a few cases, publishers are racing to get one up on YouTube and other sites by the book’s pub date. There’s a lot of variation in quality, I’ve noticed, with some that look pretty amateurish and some that could qualify as professional movie trailer productions.

Even though I’ve been, as usual, so covered up it’s ridiculous, the temptation to get a trailer into the running finally ended up being too hard to resist. Admittedly I’m late jumping into the game since Wind of the Spirit released in March, but better late than never, right? And I’d done one for One Holy Night back in November, in the process learning a lot about using Windows Movie Maker, so I was up to the challenge. I don’t have PhotoShop, so I can’t create some of the nifty effects I’ve seen in other videos. But the OHN trailer got really good feedback, and I figured that, now that I had some experience under my belt, I could make this one even better. (To take a look at the result, click on the link at right, or scroll down to the bottom of the page where the video is posted.)

The most important thing I learned from my previous experience was that if you don’t start with a great script, you’re going to end up with a lackluster trailer. The script is a road map or bible for the production. It tells the story in as few words and images as possible (speed is of the essence in our attention-deficient culture) and also tells you what images you’re going to need. So I decided to resurrect some advertising copy I’d adapted from the book’s back cover copy and see what I could do. Here’s what I began with:

“Elizabeth Howard’s assignment to gain crucial intelligence for General Washington leads her into the very maw of war at the Battle of Brooklyn Heights, where disaster forebodes an end to the American rebellion. Yet all the while her heart is fixed on Jonathan Carleton, whose whereabouts remain unknown more than a year after he disappeared into the wilderness. Carleton, now the Shawnee war chief White Eagle, is caught in a bitter war of his own. As unseen forces gather to destroy him, he leads the fight against white settlers encroaching on Shawnee lands—while battling the longing for Elizabeth that will not give him peace. As the patriot cause falters, can her love bridge the miles that separate them—and the savage bonds that threaten to tear him forever from her arms?”

That was a promising start, but I knew a bit of tightening up was in order. Join me again tomorrow for a rundown on how I developed this into a focused, compelling script.

Friday, April 17, 2009

One Holy Night Wins CSPA Book of the Year Award

Tuesday I received notice that One Holy Night has been chosen as the 2009 Fiction Book of the Year by Christian Small Publishers Association! Needless to say, I am thrilled—and admittedly a bit stunned. I’d forgotten I even entered the contest. LOL!

It’s also entered in the American Christian Fiction Writers Book of the Year contest for long contemporary novels, and it’ll be interesting to see how it does there. Winners in all the categories will be announced at the ACFW conference in September, so I’ll have to wait a while to find out, and that’s always hard. In the meantime, however, Sheaf House will be doing additional promotions in upcoming weeks featuring the award and will also feature One Holy Night again for the holiday season.

Tomorrow, April 18, I’m having a book signing at the Perry Bookstore, 907 Carroll Street, in downtown Perry, Georgia, from 11 to 1. In addition to One Holy Night, I’ll also be signing Wind of the Spirit, and will have copies of books 1 and 2, Daughter of Liberty and Native Son, available at a discount. I appreciate your prayers for a good weather and a good turnout, and if you happen to be in the area, I would love to have you stop by! This is also the weekend for the annual Dogwood Festival in Perry, and there’ll be lots going on downtown, not to mention the Mossy Creek Barnyard Festival, which is close by. Come on out and join in the fun!

Below is an excerpt from a recent review by Jackie Cooper, who is known in the middle Georgia area as the “entertainment man” for his entertainment reviews. His short stories have been used as commentary on Georgia Public Radio and he is also a popular after dinner speaker as well as a noted author. Jackie’s latest release is The Sunrise Remembers.

“Author J. M. Hochstetler has crafted a story that will drive us to tears but also lift our spirits at the same time. . . . It is a “family” story that all readers can enjoy and one to which they can relate in some way. Hochstetler takes us on a journey with these characters as they move through times of joy and times of sadness. Each person described in the story comes alive and takes his/her place in the order of things. The author even brings in side characters to flesh out the story and she does it with inventiveness and skill. If you do not enjoy or appreciate a story of faith then this is not the book for you. But for those who do like this type of religious material as the backdrop for a good story, this is an excellent choice.”

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Wind of the Spirit Finally Up on Amazon!

My distributor fixed the problem with Amazon, and Wind of the Spirit is finally available there too! This has been hung up for a long time, and it’s a huge relief to get things straightened out at last. There were times when it felt like the battle scene above. I’ll tell ya, Amazon is the 600 pound guerilla when it comes to making your book available to the public. Can’t live with ’em and can’t live without ’em!

Anyway, all’s well that end well. There’s minimal editorial information on the listing at the moment, but as soon as I have time, I’ll send them a more detailed description and the endorsements. If you’ve read this volume, I’d really appreciate it if you’d take the time to post a review on Amazon, and CBD and help spread the word!

Of course, at the moment Barnes and Noble is out of stock, so naturally they’ve removed it from the title and authorname search. You can find it by searching on the ISBN, but I know most people don’t have that. Sigh. What a way to do business! There’s always a fly in the ointment, it seems. But to purchase or post a review there, just click here.

I have a book signing coming up on April 18 at the Perry Bookstore at 907 Carroll Street in downtown Perry, Georgia, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. If you’re in the Perry area, I’d love it if you’d drop by and say hello!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Interview and Book Drawing on Amber Stockton’s Blog!

Hey, everyone! Head on over to Amber Stockton’s blog and leave a comment on the March 13 post with my interview to be entered into the drawing for a free copy of Wind of the Spirit! You only have a week from yesterday to get in on the drawing, so you’d better hurry. I appreciate your support, and you may win a free copy of the latest installment of this thrilling story to boot!

Thursday my husband and I are heading off to Dallas for the Christian Book Expo, which runs from Friday, March 20th, through Sunday, the 22nd. More than 200 of your favorite Christian authors will present seminars, do readings and book signings, and participate in panel discussions, and more. The event is open to the public.

I’ll be signing Wind of the Spirit in the American Christian Fiction Writers booth on Saturday, March 21, from 3 to 4 p.m. So if you’re going to be in the Dallas area next weekend, I’d love to see you there!

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Drawings for Wind of the Spirit!

Hey, everyone, I have interviews coming up on several different blogs during the next few weeks. Here’s a schedule so you can check them out! Each blog is offering a drawing for a free copy of Wind of the Spirit, so comment on the post and you’ll be entered!

February 25, Today! I’m guest blogging about dreams on Jennifer AlLee’s blog This, That, and the Other Thing. Head on over right now for a shot at a free copy!

February 26 Lena Nelson Dooley, A Christian Writer’s World

March Afictionado E-zine

March TBD Tyora Moody

March 5 Novel Journey

March 10 Favorite PASTimes

March 12, 8:15 a.m. KREJ 101.7 FM Kelly Long Proverbs 31 Wannabe Club (The station covers southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma; call in to enter: 620-886-3537)

March 13 Amber Stockton Spotlight Interview. Hope baby doesn’t come early!

March 15 Wind of the Spirit is featured this week on Christian Authors Network You’ve Got Books fiction blog.

Naturally I’ll post any future appearances, interviews, and announcements as they come up!

Sunday, February 22, 2009


Wind of the Spirit is here! As you can see from the photo at left, I finally have this particular dream in my hot little hands, and I am one proud mama!!! Believe me, no matter how many books you publish, you still feel the same excitement when a new release arrives! And this book is GORGEOUS! It’s one thing to see the cover on my computer screen, but to see it in “real life” on the actual book is something else altogether. The interior is gorgeous too, with text that’s clear and easy to read.

I’ve even had my first book signing already!!! We picked up a couple of cartons of the books at the printer Friday afternoon for my own personal stash. Yesterday we had lunch with our Good Sam camping chapter, so naturally we brought copies along. Several of the members are following the series, and as the meeting broke up, Jay announced that they were available. I sold 11 copies, the first official sales! The only fly in the ointment is that I had a senior moment when I came back home from Georgia, and I left my beautiful bookmarks down at our winter digs in Perry. So I’ll have to mail them to those who bought a copy of the book when I get back down there.

Now I need to get busy finishing up several blog interviews I have scheduled for March. Yikes! This month is almost gone already and I seriously need to buckle down. I also need to prepare mentally for a radio interview I’m doing with Kelly Long on KREJ 101.7 FM in Medicine Lodge, Kansas, which serves southern Kansas and northern Oklahoma. In case you happen to be in that area on March 12, tune in at 8:20 a.m. We’ll be talking especially about One Holy Night and Vietnam, but we’ll touch on my series too. Radio is something I have no experience with, and my stomach clenches at the very thought. It sounded much less intimidating when I scheduled it several months ago, but that’s always the case for me with things like this. I’m much braver when the event is a bit of a distance in the future. So this should be interesting!

If my foray into radio turns out halfway decently, I’ll see if I can get a recording to post as a podcast on my Web site and blogs. I am soooo behind on all these technological bells and whistles everyone else has been using forever. There’s always something else to figure out, and my brain can only handle so much!

Also ahead: the big task of mailing out reviewer and influencer copies. And I need to open up WOTS for sale on the shopping cart, then have Sheaf House webmistress, Peg Phifer, put the link up on the Sheaf House site. No luck so far on getting it up on Amazon, though my distributor is working on that. Apparently there’s some kind of glitch in the system somewhere. But at least it’s available for pre-order on CBD and Barnes and Noble. CBD ordered their initial copies way back in November or December, and since they’re finally in the warehouse, the distributor should start fulfilling orders soon.

By the time I get back to Perry next week, I should also have delivery on the fabulous postcards for the series that Dineen Miller designed for me, so those will need to go out to libraries and retailers asap. I’ve got a pile of promo to do, plus I need carve out a block of inviolate writing time each week and get back to making progress on my own projects. As if that weren’t enough, Jay thinks we need to go to Christian Book Expo, so that’s suddenly popped up on the agenda for next month.

Peg mentioned that she needs a deadline to motivate her to write, and I’m the same way. So it occurred to me that I need to set a deadline to finish Northkill and another to complete Crucible. I’m hoping I can make great strides in finishing the first draft of Northkill this summer and have it ready for editing by the end of the year. Then I’ll be able to focus on Crucible. I’d like to put a pub date of 2011 on it, but more likely it’ll be early 2012—and that’s really not that far away. Time has a way of just zipping by.

I still have a considerable amount of research to do for book 4, and a bit more for Northkill as well. Thankfully the first quarter of that project is complete and in pretty good shape, and I hope it won’t take me too much longer to finish the rest. The challenge is to plug the dike against any leakage of other stuff into my writing time. But with my partner, Joy DeKok, handling all the advertising and promotion for Sheaf House now, that should open up a few hours each week to devote to my writing projects. I’ve been missing the discipline of putting words into that computer file, and I’m champing at the bit to get back at it!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Definitely a Go!

Earlier this week, my account rep at Christian Book Distributors e-mailed to ask me for a detailed 60-90 word summary for Wind of the Spirit. Hmmm . . . they wouldn’t be asking for that unless WOTS was definitely on track to be featured in their summer fiction catalog! Needless to say, I’m thrilled!

Just as exciting, Joy DeKok, our marketing and promotions expert at Sheaf House, is working on an ad campaign for our spring list, and WOTS will be featured in a full-page Sheaf House ad on the back cover of Home School Digest’s spring issue. It includes the covers of the first 2 volumes and a blurb about the American Patriot Series directed toward homeschooling parents and students. This is a giant step toward accessing a market we’ve been wanting to reach.

And wait until you see the postcards Dineen Miller is designing for me! They’re gorgeous! I can’t wait to send them out to libraries and bookstores and tuck them into copies of WOTS I sell personally so they can be handed on to others. Dineen is attempting to shoehorn the text I sent her into the available space—I ended up trimming it down again, and hopefully this time it’ll fit. Not that I tend to be wordy or anything! LOL! We’ll have just the essentials on the front, but once I upload it into VistaPrint’s template, I’ll squeeze in as much information on the back as I can, and then it’s off to the printer!

I also heard from a new fan this week who just finished Daughter of Liberty and Native Son and wanted to make sure WOTS is on track for the March release date. Indeed it is! We’re expecting delivery to the warehouse by the 20th. How exciting is that?!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Time for a Bit of Celebration!

There are a couple of exciting developments to report. First, Wind of the Spirit went to the printer, the proof came and was sent back with approval, and the print run will happen any minute. We’re right on track for that March 2 publication date.

Second, a week or so ago, my account rep at Christian Book Distributors had several questions for me because they were interested in possibly including WOTS in their summer catalog. I played it cool and gave him a more info than he asked for to make sure he impressed the catalog folks. Today I got an e-mail from the lady who sends me their POs when they order from Sheaf House. She asked for a cover image of WOTS and noted that their catalog department needs it.

Wooooooo hoooooo!!!!!! I’m pretty confident that means WOTS is going to run in the summer CBD fiction catalog!!! It’s already on their site for preorder. Just click on the link above. It’s also available for preorder on Barnes and Noble, though not yet on Amazon. But things are hopping. As you can tell, I can hardly contain myself! LOL!

Okay, enough celebration. Back to work. I need to get busy finishing up the interviews I have scheduled for a number of blogs, starting this month, and preparing for a radio interview coming up in March—more details on those later—and digging into some serious promotion. Unless something else really fabulous shows up between now and then, I’ll update this blog again when I have those copies of WOTS finally in my hot little hands!

I just can’t stand the suspense!!

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Almost Ready for the Printer!

We’re making great progress on getting Wind of the Spirit ready to go to press! The text has been flowed and the final edits completed. I’m really getting excited about finally seeing this puppy in print! I’ve even ordered some gorgeous bookmarks to hand out. Wait till you see those. LOL! I only have a pdf, which blogger doesn’t accept, or I’d post that too.

Take a look at the images at the left that show the chapter opening pages. We’re using the graphic shown on the first one for the chapters that take place with Elizabeth in New York. The second one is what the chapters set with White Eagle among the Shawnee will look like. Each graphic then also appears in the running heads and the breaks between scenes of those chapters to differentiate the two settings. Didn’t Marisa do a great job with this interior?

All I have left to do is to check through the pages one last time before I create the PDF for the printer. I want to make sure I caught and eliminated all the widows and orphans—the first or last line of a paragraph that flowed over onto the top or bottom of a page, where it sits all by its lonely self. I’ve read several books lately where the editor obviously didn’t know that you’re supposed to eliminate those.

I hate to say it, but I’m seeing a lot of sloppy editing lately—everything from grammar to punctuation to logic. I don’t know if younger editors simply aren’t properly educated and trained or if publishers are increasingly expecting their authors to pay freelancers to edit their books, with the to-be-expected uneven results. I know the economy is bad and everyone is trying to save money, which in a lot of cases means either letting old-timers who earn too much money go and hiring neophytes or transferring as much of the cost of production onto the author’s shoulders as possible. Whatever’s going on, quality, at least in the Christian marketplace, is plummeting in my humble opinion. I guess I’m one of those old-timers. I have every intention of making sure both the writing and the editing of all our books are stellar.

Design is another area that’s suffering. There are gorgeous covers, mediocre ones, and ones that make you wince, but that’s always been the case. But now so many of the current crop of fiction releases I’ve seen have interiors that look downright ugly to me—fonts that are harsh on the eyes, clumsily designed running heads and folios (page numbers) that are way too large, leading that is too tight or too loose. At Sheaf House, we’re going to make sure that both the cover and the interior are beautifully designed and that the text is attractive and easy to read.

Okay, enough qvetching, already! Wind of the Spirit will go to the printer by the 19th at the latest, with delivery to the warehouse by mid February. It’s set to officially publish March 2, but once it’s logged into the warehouse, it’ll start shipping to retailers and will also be open for orders on the Sheaf House shopping cart. It’s already available for pre-order on Barnes and Noble and CBD, though without the cover for some reason. I need to see what I can do about that asap and also contact Amazon, which so far hasn’t posted it.

Stay tuned for more news!