Saturday, September 21, 2013

Amber Schamel's The Healer's Touch

Have you ever had a false label attached to you? Did anyone ever shun or cast judgement upon you for a sin or crime you never committed? Have you ever questioned God on why something happened? What did you do to deserve such punishment and turmoil?

In Amber Schamel's story, The Healer's Touch, we are brought into Aaliyah's world and how it was turned upside down within moments. The heartache of becoming an outcast because of a disease and the burden of carrying a false label of a sin you did not commit. Some things happen that we do not understand the reasoning behind, things that are out of our control. Through Aaliyah's story, the reader learns that Jesus is always in control and there's a reason for everything.

You will be touched by the heart-rending story and brought into a different world celebrating the wonderfulness of Christ.

Read more about Amber below and check out her story, The Healer's Touch, at Amazon.

Tell us a little about your book and yourself.

AS~ The Healer's Touch is the first book in the Days of Messiah Series. Aaliyah's last chance at winning her husband's love is destroyed when she is banished from her home as an 'unclean' sinner, exiled to the leper colony. When a chance at being cured comes in the form of a rumor, she must risk her life to appear in public, or die a leper.

I am a twenty-two year old gal who lives at home with her family and loves the Lord with all of her heart. I was homeschooled throughout my education and love history, travel, children, singing and piano. In between family life, work as bookkeeper and marketing director in our family businesses, and volunteering at church and camps, I write in my spare time. (Ha!)

How did the idea and/or inspiration of writing this book come about?

AS~ In 2007 I originally wrote The Healer's Touch as a short story and people loved it, but told me I should expand it to tell more of the story. So I did. :)
It was inspired by the accounts of healing in the New Testament and the Lord really showed me the similarities between the terrible disease of leprosy and the emotional disease of bitterness.

Your book has a strong faith element. How natural was this to write about?

AS~ It was very natural and easy for me because my faith is a part of my every day life. It would be hard, and probably awkward to write anything else.

What do you hope readers take away from this book?

AS~ My prayer is that they come to the same realization that Aaliyah does, that bitterness is a terrible disease that is far worse than leprosy. And Jesus Christ is the only one that can heal us of that disease. 
Which of the characters in the novel is most like you and why?

AS~ Aaliyah is probably most like me. I have struggled with a lot of bitterness as she does, and her personality is a lot like mine.

Who is your favorite Biblical character and why?

AS~ Jesus of course. ;) Because of the love He showed to all of us and the example that He set.

What’s your favorite and least favorite part about being a writer?

AS~ My favorite part about being a writer is when you are really in the writing groove and the Lord is anointing your writing. It is one of the most wonderful feelings in the world and the story really comes alive to you. My least favorite is all the marketing and legwork that goes along with being an author.

What advice would you have for writers hoping to follow in your footsteps?

AS~ Be teachable, develop a tough skin and start building your platform even before you're published. I made the mistake of thinking I could work on developing my social media, blogs etc after I was published, but when I finally did get there, I realized I needed it yesterday!

Other than writing, what else occupies your time?

AS~ My mother is expecting her 12th child and I still live at home with all of them, so my time is filled with family duties, bookkeeping and marketing for our many family businesses, church activities as well as volunteer work.
Thanks, Amber, for being a part of this blog. I pray for success in your writing and that it will continue to touch others. Readers, find Amber on Facebook and follow her and her journey.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Karen Gass & Morningshine

A little bit about Karen Gass' Morningshine: ...the story of a group of women. Some live near each other and a few others live hundreds of miles away. These are ordinary day, God decides to do a work--using them in His plan. Morningshine proves the point that God doesn't call the equipped, he equips the called. By being open to what God has shown them, these women make a huge difference in the lives of one of their neighbors, changing both the takers and the givers.

Join Carrie, Elanor, Connie, Lydia, Martha, Esther, and Gert in this fabulous story about their struggles and defeats, their triumphs and faith. See how God uses them as vessels to reach others around them. An intimate look at faith within different women and the effect it has on them all.

Read below for more about Karen Gass and her book, Morningshine.

Tell us a little about your book and yourself.

KG~ I've been sewing since I was 9 years old. As soon as I learned to sew, I started making my own clothes and just about everything else if I could afford the fabric. The minute I got my allowance - I hit the fabric store. That was in the old days when $5 would buy a pattern, fabric and zipper! Fast forward about 25 years and I moved from garment sewing to quilting. I made and sold quilts at craft shows, and then moved into quilt designing. I had a quilt book published, Log Cabin Quilts: A Brand New Story by Karen Murphy. It's out of print now, but it was unique because each chapter had a fictional story that continued throughout the book. I also love to knit, crochet, embroider and am currently learning about polymer clay! I love to do things with my hands. The last year or so, I spent learning about couture sewing, pattern making and learning how to fit a garment to a 'body' - usually called clients! I am recently widowed, and living with my sister. I have 3 grown children, and 13 grandchildren, with another due in November. Love my grandbabies.
So, it was only natural I'd write a book about quilting! A quilting group, actually, and how God used them in the lives of a family living on their street. I don't think you need to be a quilter in order to enjoy the book, because it's also Women's Contemporary Fiction. You'll get to know these six women intimately, see their struggles and experience their triumphs as they go through day to day living. I think there is something in every one of them we can relate to, in one way or another. As God weaves His tapestry in our lives, we very rarely get a glimpse of the finished piece. In Morningshine, we get to see how God moves and puts together unrelated incidents as a result of prayers and trusting in him. God doesn't always call the equipped, but He always equips the called!

How did the idea and/or inspiration of writing this book come about?

KG~ After I had some foot surgery, I was to stay flat on my back, with foot elevated for 7 days. That sounded torturous with nothing to do but watch television. Well, my mother rustled up a laptop for me, and I thought it would be a good time to start a newsletter for my quilt designing website. I thought a short story might be a cool thing to include, so I started what turned out to be a 300 page book! It simply took on a life of it's own. Each character came to life and told me about herself, and the events that followed were just as thrilling for me to read and experience as it was for some of the people who've read the book. I don't know how that happens, other than to give God the glory, but it is an incredible process. That was ten years ago. I worked on it off and on, but never could find the ending. I shared it with a group of women friends, and they loved it and truly harassed me to finish it. (in all love they harassed) I finally did, and decided to self-publish it on Amazon.

Your book has a strong faith element. How natural was this to write about?
KG~ I believe my book does have a strong faith element, but it doesn't preach at you on every page. It was very natural to write about about God and the way He works. My fingers simply flew over the keys of my computer, hardly keeping up with my thoughts and what I wanted to get down on paper before the thought flew away. 

What do you hope readers take away from this book?
KG~ I hope they realize we are never without hope. Even when we are at the bottom of the barrel, there is most likely someone, somewhere praying for them. It might even be a stranger. I know I've had times when I've felt the Lord move me to pray for a person I see on the street, or hear about on the news. Maybe someone I've chatted with in the store, waiting to check out. If we are open to the Lord's leading, we can hear His voice telling us 'That person needs prayer, don't worry about the why, I already know it." And so I pray for them until I no longer feel that compulsion and I know I can't be the only one!

Which of the characters in the novel is most like you and why?
KG~ I think I put a little of myself into every character - I just couldn't help it! But, if I had to pick one that was (and I emphasize the 'was') most like me, it would be Eleanor. She was in a hopeless situation, and had no clue how to change it, or even if she should change it. So, she just kept plodding along, unhappy, but keeping a routine and doing the things that needed doing. I was in such a situation at the beginning of the book, so I know how she felt. Useless and hopeless. My situation today is completely changed, but she remains close to my heart. 

Who is your favorite Biblical character and why?

KG~ It changes as life changes. But right now, my favorite person is Rahab. She was, as we know, a prostitute, but God loved her and used her in important ways. She was in the line of Jesus - how cool is that? God loves us - period. His redemption for us was and is complete. It holds no 'excepts'. Jesus died and rose again for Every Single Person on this earth, no matter what they do, or did, or thought. The grace of God is just that - complete and total Grace. He showed that particularly in the case of Rahab. For whatever reason, she was in an unseemly profession. We don't know what led her to that place where she felt that was the only recourse left to her in order to live and eat. But God had His eyes on her and had plans for her. She was brave, and let God use her to warn her family and to hide the spies. This story in the Bible tells me that God loves me. Simply me. It's not about how good I am, or how obedient I am, or the good things I may do for others. He loves me when I'm not good, when I disobey, and when I don't do the good I know I ought to do. Even if I'm disobedient to Him, He can still use me. He will still provide for me, He will still pour out His love on me. He will do what He needs to do to bring me back to obedience, but the measure of His love doesn't change. The story of Rahab is the epitome of that situation and I love that about God. I wish I was more loving towards people who 'I' think may not be doing right. Our human condition does that. One day, we won't have to deal with that anymore!

What’s your favorite and least favorite part about being a writer?
KG~ My favorite part is when the words come so fast I can barely get them down on paper! When the story jumps up and waves flags and says, "Look at me over here, I have story!" and four other characters do the same thing! It's like going to the circus with things going on left and right. I love it when I can laugh or cry at my own story, that is writing itself on paper and things happen that I'd never thought of - it's exciting!
My least favorite part is when the words don't come. I think I've come upon my little theater group asleep and they are all groggy and begging me to go away and leave them alone. And of course, the end of the story is hard, because I have to leave all these people and places that I've come to love. I've poured so much of myself into them, and now I have to say good-bye. This is one of the reasons Morningshine turned into a series. I simply could not get everything into one book. And now, as I'm nearly done with the second book, I keep thinking of new things! My three book series may turn into more - who knows? 

What advice would you have for writers hoping to follow in your footsteps?
KG~ Go for it! There is nothing more satisfying than seeing the story in your head, come to life on paper. Write every day, write whenever you can. And read good books. The more good books you read, the better a writer you will be. And ask God to direct you in this area, what does He want you to write? What is He putting on your heart? If you have the desire to write, and you are walking in His will, then He has probably given you that desire. Use it to glorify Him. It's a gift He has given you.

Other than writing, what else occupies your time?
KG~ After almost 40 years, I am finally going to college! After I graduated from high school, I did not go on to college. I wish I had. But, as I write this, tomorrow (Sept 3) is my first day. I'll be working towards my BA in Creative Writing. I want to learn how to do what I do - better. I know it will take a while, but I am determined and very excited. That is the major thing occupying my day. Then I am also the Editor for The Quilt Pattern Magazine which is online. I also make doll clothes for a company that resells them. I have a few sewing clients I make clothes for. And then, I sew for myself or my family, I knit and crochet, and now the polymer clay is encroaching into the last available ten minutes of my day. I also spend part of every day, writing. Usually every day - some days it just doesn't happen. There is about a dozen other things I do spread out over the week - designing quilts for my sister's fabric, writing quilt patterns, editing others manuscripts and doing their layout, I think I just really like to stay busy. And God is very good to me, sending me work to take care of my expenses. They aren't many, but He is awesome in sending me what I need. My hope is that I glorify Him in all that I do. 

Thanks Karen for being a part of this blog and for your great interview. Blessings in the success of Morningshine. It will surely connect and talk to those who read it.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Jessica Dotta & Born of Persuasion

It stands to reason why Born of Persuasion was a book that captivated me. In The Words of Jessica: Born of described as Downton Abbey meets Wuthering Heights.
I never understood the hub-bub of Downton Abbey until last year when I finally caught an episode on the Mississippi Public Broadcast Network. Needless to say, I was hooked. Now take that desire to watch the series play out before me and couple it with my love of Wuthering Heights, how could I not read Born of Persuasion. Hard to believe this is her debut novel; a great book (and I haven't finished it yet--sliding reading time in between painting, selling of home, packing, writing, homeschooling, and Angry Birds competition with husband) and one I definitely recommend. Check out Jessica at her Facebook page and read below for more about her and her book, Born of Persuasion.

Tell us a little about your book and yourself.

JD: Born of Persuasion is my debut novel, the first of a trilogy. It's best
described as Downton Abbey meets Wuthering Heights.

Here's the blurb:
The year is 1838, and seventeen-year-old Julia Elliston’s position has never been more fragile.
Orphaned and unmarried in a time when women are legal property of their fathers, husbands, and
guardians, she finds herself at the mercy of an anonymous guardian who plans to establish her as
a servant in far-off Scotland.
With two months to devise a better plan, Julia’s first choice to marry her childhood sweetheart is
denied. But when a titled dowager offers to introduce Julia into society, a realm of possibilities
opens. However, treachery and deception are as much a part of Victorian society as titles
and decorum, and Julia quickly discovers her present is deeply entangled with her mother’s
mysterious past. Before she knows what’s happening, Julia finds herself a pawn in a deadly game
between two of the country’s most powerful men. With no laws to protect her, she must unravel
the secrets on her own. But sometimes truth is elusive and knowledge is deadly.

Here's my bio:
Born in the wrong century–except for the fact that she really likes epidurals and washing
machines–Jessica Dotta writes British Historicals with the humor like an Austen, yet the
drama of a Bronte.
She resides lives in the greater Nashville area—where she imagines her small Southern
town into the foggy streets of 19th century London. She oversees her daughter to school,
which they pretend is an English boarding school, and then she goes home to write and
work on PR. Jessica has tried to cast her dachshund as their butler–but the dog insists it’s
a Time Lord and their home a Tardis. Miss Marple, her cat, says its no mystery to her
as to why the dog won’t cooperate. When asked about it, Jessica sighs and says that you
can’t win them all, and at least her dog has picked something British to emulate.

(*ds:  I believe your dachsund is preparing to be the next Doctor. The Doctor may not be ginger, but being a dachsund would be a first.)

How did the idea and/or inspiration of writing this book come about?

JD: I started this story in my late teens, though I found it a bit too difficult for me to continue with it. I'm a seat-of-the-pants writer, which means I write as I imagine it. As I wrote, the story it became clear that the majority of the characters had ulterior motives.
At that time, I didn't care to drag my protagonist through the discovery of what those motives were. The story, however, haunted me. And I'd often find myself wondering what those characters had been orchestrating.
Over of the course of a decade, every time I saw down to write, this story would present itself to me again and again, waiting to be written. In my late twenties, I finally sat down and allowed myself to explore it.

Your book has a strong faith element. How natural was this to write

JD: The faith element in Born of Persuasion is akin to novels written in the 19th century.
Faith and church played a major role in the Victorian era. So much so, that The Church
of England was part of the government at the beginning of the century, and society as a
whole operated on the same moral code. This trilogy dives into the heart of English law,
as it was defined by the church.
Also, there is a theme in the series about the cost of following Jesus. How we handle
a clash between our beliefs and our personal desires is explored. When it comes to
balancing the faith element, I'm comfortable because I don't worry about convincing
the reader to change their mindset, but rather I focus on making the character's growth

What do you hope readers take away from this book?

JD: By the time readers finish the trilogy, I hope their perspective is opened to realize how
wrong it is to predetermine someone's worth or value. I hope they want to start seeing the
great potential that is within each one of us.

Which of the characters in the novel is most like you and why?

JD: I might regret saying this later, but I'm most like Julia, Edward, and though you won't
meet him until the second book, Isaac. Through Julia, my protagonist, I've explored the
deep sense of loss I've experienced, through Edward my unrelenting sense of conviction,
and lastly through Isaac my deep longing to see the past amended .

Who is your favorite Biblical character and why?

JD: Oh, that changes all the time! But this week, I like Noah. Think about it, the poor guy has
been picked on for almost all of human history.
While he was alive, he was mocked as he built an ark that God told him to build. Likely
enough people thought he was crazy. Now that he's dead, he's stilled mocked in our age.
People scoff at the story, calling it a children's tale.
Imagine being called to become the laughing stock of your generation by following what
God told you to do, and then becoming scoffed by future generations. You've got to have
a unique personality to deal with that.

(*ds: I never thought of it this way before, but it's something to consider. Noah is a great role model for us all in this day and age.)

What’s your favorite and least favorite part about being a writer?

JD: Favorite Part: The feeling I get when I find the exact combination of words to capture
the thought or emotion I want to communicate.
Least Favorite Part: The ping-ponged nature of the business. One day you're swamped,
the next day nothing is happening. Or for a season everybody wants to talk to you, and
then nobody does.

What advice would you have for writers hoping to follow in your

JD: Educate yourself about the business. Visit sites like Novel Rocket and learn how others
launched their books.
Network by attending writer conferences. It's really important.

Other than writing, what else occupies your time?

JD: I'm a single, working mom, so I'm not granted a lot of free time. But when I do have
some, my favorite type of evening or Saturday afternoon is spent with a small group of
very intimate friends. I also love crafting, thrifting, cooking and decorating. 
Of course reading a great book is at the top of my list, or watching a movie! Nowadays
you can also find me on Facebook!

Thank you SO much for interviewing me! I really appreciate it!

DS: You are so very welcome, Jessica. It was a great honor to host your book and to learn more about you.

Sharon Srock & Callie: The Women of Valley View

With an impending house sale and looming move, I've been remiss in reading the stories I feature. As I write this blog, I am in the middle of Callie: The Women of Valley View. This is a captivating story written in the old style that reminds me of the older writers like Margaret Mitchell and Georgette Heyer. Her story of loss, faith, and forgiveness is a wonderful and endearing story.

Read more reviews about Callie: The Women of Valley View at And as I am finishing this well written and engaging story, please read below for more about Sharon Srock and her book. Some of her answers were surprising. :-)

Tell us a little about your book and yourself.
SS: Book blurb:
Three dire circumstances. Three desperate prayers. One miracle to save them all.
Callie Stillman is drawn to the evasive girl who’s befriended her granddaughter, but the last time Callie tried to help a child, her efforts backfired. Memories of the tiny coffin still haunt her.
Samantha and Iris Evans should be worried about homework, not whether they can pool enough cash to survive another week of caring for an infant while evading the authorities.
Steve Evans wants a second chance at fatherhood, but his children are missing.  And no one seems to want to help the former addict who deserted his family.
For Steve to regain the relationship he abandoned, for his girls to receive the care they deserve, Callie must surrender her fear and rely on God to work the miracle they all need.
Sharon Srock went from science fiction to Christian fiction at slightly less than warp speed. Twenty five years ago, she cut her writer's teeth on Star Trek fiction. Today, she writes inspirational stories that focus on ordinary women using their faith to accomplish extraordinary things. A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, Sharon serves her local chapter in the role of treasurer. Sharon lives in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma with her husband and three very large dogs. Her books include: The Women of Valley View: Callie and The Women of Valley View: Terri, both of which are currently available. The Women of Valley View: Pam will release in early 2014.Connect with her here:
How did the idea and/or inspiration of writing this book come about?
SS: That's probably the hardest question I've ever tried to answer. When I started writing Callie's story, I hadn't written anything is almost 20 years. The friend who encouraged me to start again suggested I write what I know. I was teaching 5th grade Sunday school at the time and the automatic opening scene was one of Callie with her class. That scene didn't even stay in the finished book, but it gave me a place to start.
I didn't have any real direction, didn't know a thing about the mechanics of writing, I just wrote what I felt God was giving me.

Your book has a strong faith element. How natural was this to write about?
SS: It turned out to be the most natural thing in the world. I've attended church my whole life, but I'm not a very vocal person. Callie gave me an outlet to share my faith in a very non threatening way.  
What do you hope readers take away from this book?
SS: The understanding that God never judges us like we judge ourselves. He wants us to stretch and grow. Bumps and bruises along the way are a normal part of the process. Slef blame and self doubt are just that...SELF...not God.
Which of the characters in the novel is most like you and why?
SS: Callie of course. More in the beginning than at the end of the story. Callie is a woman of strong faith and wisdom. I want to be more like her when I grow up.
Who is your favorite Biblical character and why?
SS: Jael from the 4th chapter of Judges. I don't think she woke up that morning planing to nail Sisera's head to her kitchen floor, but she had the courage to act on it when God gave her the hard job.
What’s your favorite and least favorite part about being a writer?
SS: Favorites--watching the story unfold, finding all the little surprises along the way.
Least favorite--the neverending waiting. It seems like every step has a list of things you need to wait for and patience has never been one of my virtues.
What advice would you have for writers hoping to follow in your footsteps?
SS: Find a good writers group and a critique partner you trust. I was lucky enough to find both those things early and they have saved my sanity and moved my writing along faster than anything I could have done for myself.

Other than writing, what else occupies your time?
SS: Oh let's see. I have a full time job, and a part time job. The joys and challenges of marketing and promotion. I have a husband, 6 kids, and 22 grandkids and great grand kids. And every once in a while I manage to turn the computer off, get the house to myself and sneak off for 30 minutes of "Me" time.
Thanks for being a part of my blog, Sharon. Looking forward to the rest of the books. Oh, and thank you for making my To Be Read Pile even longer than before. God Bless!