Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Military meets Mexico? Interview with Author Heidi Glick


A former Marine determines to protect the woman he loves at all costs, and yet his own secrets might turn her against him forever.
When disabled ex-Marine Mark Graham reconnects with his best friend’s sister, he finds himself falling in love. But Beth Martindale’s presence is a constant reminder of events he’d rather forget.

Mark wants to move forward, but the secrets surrounding her brother’s death as well as his own confinement to a wheelchair threaten to tear them apart. When a psychopath who calls himself The Knight fixates on Beth,

Mark is determined to give her the protection he failed to give her brother on the battlefield, yet he discovers that a wheelchair isn’t the only impediment he has to keeping Beth safe.

Will terror win or can Mark find the strength of mind and body to rescue Beth and find his own redemption?

Heidi Glick has a B.A. in biology, a minor in Bible from Cedarville University, and a passion for writing Christian fiction. She has over seven years of technical editing experience, a certificate in technical writing from Cal State University, Dominguez Hills, and is working towards her Master of English at Utah State University.

Additionally, she is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and has written two articles for Intercom. When not working, Heidi spends time with her husband, son, and two dogs, Cocoa and Sparky in Ohio. 

For more information about Heidi, click here or blogs here and here. For more on the book, here or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Ten Questions for Author Heidi Glick

What should readers know about your latest release? Does it differ from your past books, offer a new perspective on a familiar topic, or shed light on a unique situation?

My latest release, Dog Tags, is a suspense novel set in Ohio and California. In it, a former Marine determines to protect the woman he loves at all costs, and yet his own secrets might turn her against him forever.

What was the main inspiration for the new book? Had the idea been on your mind for a while or just popped into it one day?

The main inspiration for my book is my character’s struggles. I think a lot of people will identify with him. The idea had been on my mind for a while.

Why do you feel compelled to write—in your genre or at all?

I feel writing is great way to express myself. I write in my genre because I enjoy reading suspense and constructing suspenseful events that will captivate readers.

How has travel been involved in your writing and/or research? What’s been your most memorable research experience?

For another book I’m working on I traveled to a local famous restaurant. Also, I purchased a travel book about Guadalajara and watched tourist videos set in Guadalajara for another story I’ve been working on.

Who has inspired you the most on your writing journey—a loved one, fellow author, favorite teacher?

My husband has inspired me the most by encouraging me to continue on my journey and to not give up.

What surprised you the most about the writer’s journey—publication, representation, platform building, the writing itself?

What surprised me the most was the writing itself. I once thought good writers were born. I know believe that good writers practice and practice and learn more and more about the craft each day.

If you could rewind time to when you began your pursuit of publication, what would you tell yourself?

Don’t give up. The journey is long and hard but worth it. Be open to criticism and learn all you can.

Now to have some fun with travel…

What’s your favorite place you have visited?

Mexico is my favorite place. The people there are really friendly. Also, while there, I met people who were content with very little and also very giving.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Or would you return to somewhere you’ve already been?

Right now I’d like to travel to Guadalajara.

And now a fun tidbit—if there was one special travel destination just for writers and you were the founder of it, what would the name be and would it be located?

The place would be Writersville, and it would be located on a beach.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Forgotten History Discovered


This writer recently realized I had missed a vital part of Louisiana’s history – Forts Randolph and Buhlow. I’m sure I heard about them when I was younger, but somehow it did not stick in my mind. Now though, I am fully aware of the two forts and their fascinating legacy after a visit to the Forts Randolph and Buhlow State Historic Site.
Recently I attended a weekend event at the site and which featured several areas of local history. The Central Louisiana History Days 2013 was held all-day Friday and Saturday with the public welcome to attend the free event as well as school groups. 

There was a replica Native American teepee and camp, a Civil War re-enactor camp, a Kisatchie National Forest display, a violin craftsman, an antique farm equipment exhibit, period music, a living history demonstration of quilting and candle and soap making from the Kent Plantation House and more.
Forts Randolph and Buhlow were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1981. The visitor center was only built in 2010 and includes exhibits on the Civil War Red River Campaign, an elevated boardwalk around the fort area with three ¼ mile walking trails, an overlook near Bailey's Dam site and an open field for Civil War re-enactments. 
The history of the forts began toward the end of the Civil War and involved the Red River Campaign of the Civil War, which was a Union effort to control Louisiana waterways. Troops entered the state from Arkansas, Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico. Many hard-fought skirmishes went back and forth between Union and Confederate troops.  

After the Battle of Mansfield (south of the town of Mansfield and northwest of Natchitoches), halting the Union advance to the West in Spring of 1864, Forts Randolph and Buhlow were constructed on the Red River at Alexandria by Confederates in order to repel future Union attacks through Northwest Louisiana. 
Construction, completed by March 1865, was under the command of Captain Christopher M. Randolph and supervised by a military engineer, Lieutenant Alphonse Buhlow, for whom the forts are named. A third and larger fort, planned for the Alexandria side of the river, was never built.
The earthen forts, constructed using local plantation slave labor, were fortified with cannon and over 800 soldiers. In addition to a Confederate troop buildup in the Alexandria area, the Confederate ironclad Missouri was anchored in the river opposite Fort Randolph, but the anticipated attack never came and no fighting ever took place. In May of 1865, the Confederates surrendered to Union forces, and the forts where occupied for a short while by the Union before being abandoned at the end of the war.
The historic site also includes the remains of Bailey’s Dam. The dam, remarkable for its design and the amount of time required in constructing it, allowed for the Union Fleet, under the command of Admiral David Porter, to escape below the rapids on the Red River at Alexandria during the Union retreat after the Battle of Mansfield. 
Called “one of the greatest engineering feats of the Civil War,” the dam designed by Colonel Joseph Bailey has left a lasting mark on the history of the region. The site is today commemorated with interpretive signage and a scenic overlook of the Red River. Plus quite fascinating for me is that my ancestor helped build these forts and guard them during the Civil War.

So have you discovered a historical gem in your state? An ancestor connection? What was it? Please share.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Crawfish – A Louisiana Staple


Me with a pile o' boiled crawfish!
Well I’d have to say that rice and our Cajun spices are a real staple of our cuisine, but crawfish is a delicacy associated with our state. And they are just mighty tasty too!
So here’s some info about our history of eating “crawdads” (as some of my family call them).
According to the Louisiana State University’s Agriculture Center, crawfish have been consumed for centuries by Native Americans and in many parts of Europe, but commercial sale of crawfish in Louisiana only began in the late 1800s.
At that time, supplies were harvested from natural waters throughout the southern region of the state. The first record of a commercial crawfish harvest in the United States was in 1880 from the Atchafalaya Basin in Louisiana.
Small harvests of farmed crawfish occur in other states, such as Texas, California, Arkansas and the Carolinas, but Louisiana is by far the largest producer of crawfish in the United States. Official estimates are not available, but industry experts estimate that Louisiana usually accounts for 85-95% of total U.S. production from year to year. 
We not only eat them boiled with corn and potatoes but also in other traditional dishes of gumbo, etouffee and more. Our crawfish boils are also held for family reunions, celebrations (I had one for my college graduation party) and other social events.
Some friends at a crawfish boil
Have you tried crawfish before? Did you like them? Do you have interesting cultural cuisine from your area? Please share.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Elves and the Bible? Interview with Author Stephanie Landsem

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Mara is a desperate Samaritan girl struggling to keep her family alive in the face of starvation and the threat of exile from their strict village. When a mysterious Jewish teacher transforms her mother at Jacob’s well, Mara hopes for a better life—until her mother’s past sins lead to a brutal stoning.

Only Mara can save her dying mother, but she’ll have the help of an unlikely friend: Shem, a hot-tempered young man on the run from the Romans. Shem risks capture to help Mara search for the man that Samaritans call the Taheb, the Restorer. Together, they travel dangerous roads into the hostile territory of Galilee. Their journey to the Taheb brings them burgeoning faith, unexpected love, and unimaginable heartbreak.


Stephanie Landsem writes historical fiction because she loves adventure in far-off times and places. In real life, she's explored ancient ruins, medieval castles, and majestic cathedrals around the world. 
Stephanie is equally happy at home in Minnesota with her husband, four children, and three fat cats. When she's not writing, she's feeding the ravenous horde, avoiding housework, and dreaming about her next adventure - whether it be in person or on the page. 
For more information about Stephanie, visit her website here.

Ten Questions with Stephanie Landsem
What should readers know about your latest release? Does it differ from your past books, offer a new perspective on a familiar topic, or shed light on a unique situation?
The Well takes the familiar story of the Samaritan woman who meets Jesus at Jacob’s well, and tells it from the perspective of her daughter, Mara. I hope that the reader can put themselves into the pages of the Bible and experience what it must have been like to live in those times, and imagine what meeting the Son of God might have felt like.
What was the main inspiration for the new book? Had the idea been on your mind for a while or just popped into it one day?
It really just popped into my mind one Sunday as I was listening to the Gospel account in John of the Samaritan woman at the well. As with so many Biblical accounts, there is so much left out. We hear that she had five husbands, but why? And why was she alone at the well during the hottest part of the day? Was her life better after she met Jesus, or perhaps she was punished from bringing him into her village? As I thought about it, the story of her daughter, Mara, came to me, and I knew that was a story that I wanted to write.
Why do you feel compelled to write—in your genre or at all?
I knew that I wanted to write historical fiction. The research is the part that I love the most and where I find the most interesting parts of the story. But I hadn’t really planned on writing Biblical fiction.
As I started writing Mara’s story, I found the intertwining of the Bible, my research, and my imagination to be exactly what I needed to keep a story fresh and exciting for me, and hopefully for my readers. The Bible has an infinite number of stories in it, and they all tell us something about ourselves and about God.
How has travel been involved in your writing and/or research? What’s been your most memorable research experience?
Even though I’ve never been to the Holy Land, my travels have influenced not only the way I write, but the way I look at the world. When you travel, history comes alive and the people you meet open your mind and heart to other cultures and languages.
Travel leaves an indelible mark on you for the rest of your life. For example, I love meeting people when I travel, and some of their character traits invariably make it into my writing.
Who has inspired you the most on your writing journey—a loved one, fellow author, favorite teacher?
My children inspire me. Years ago, my oldest daughter asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said I didn’t know. She said, “What would you be if you could be anything?”
I didn’t even have to think about that. I said, “I’d write historical fiction.”
“Why don’t you do it then?”
I said, “I don’t know how,” and she looked at me like I was crazy. “Then learn how!”
Kids are great — they try new things, jump into something completely new with enthusiasm and a positive attitude and they expect me to do the same.
What surprised you the most about the writer’s journey—publication, representation, platform building, the writing itself?
I think the process of writing is the most surprising thing for me. Some days, I really don’t think that I can write a particular scene. I’m sure it will be terrible, but I sit down and do it anyway. When I’m done, I can see that I was right. It’s terrible.
But the next day, when I sit down to look at it again, it’s not nearly so bad. After a brutal editing, I actually have something that I’m proud of. It’s happened over and over again, and it still surprises me!
If you could rewind time to when you began your pursuit of publication, what would you tell yourself?
Trust. Trust in God. Trust in yourself. Just do your best and keep at it and don’t worry. Of course, that pretty much applies to everything you take on, so it’s good for me to remember each day.
Now to have some fun with travel…
What’s your favorite place you have visited?
That is very tough. I suppose I’d have to say my favorite place is Rome. Rome is ancient and modern, beautiful and messy. It has such an amazing history that you can’t walk a block without seeing something awe-inspiring. And the food is incredible.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Or would you return to somewhere you’ve already been?
I think I would go on a month long tour of Australia and New Zealand. My family and I are huge Tolkien fans and would love to see the gorgeous views from the movies. Also we love the ocean and I’ve always wanted to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef.
And now a fun tidbit—if there was one special travel destination just for writers and you were the founder of it, what would the name be and would it be located?
That’s easy. Like Bilbo Baggins, I’d go to Rivendell, the perfect place to get away from busy life in the Shire (and those pesky Sackville-Bagginses). As Bilbo says in The Fellowship of the Ring: “I want to see the mountains again . . . And then find somewhere quiet where I can finish my book.”
Yes, a yearly retreat to the home of the elves would be just perfect. Anyone is welcome to join me, just bring your manuscript, your quill and ink, and leave the One Ring at home.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Penner's Spotlight - Morgan Tarpley - England

Pens on a World Map
Penner's Spotlight

Penner: Morgan Tarpley

Location: Gold Hill, Shaftesbury
England, United Kingdom


For all my faithful viewers and visitors in general, you may have noticed that over the past few weeks my blogging schedule has been a little off kilter. 

Well, like we all do, I had a sudden overload of commitments that I had to tend to...and I was off on my vacation/novel research trip to the U.K.! It was fantastic! :)

Voted the most idyllic scene in England - Gold Hill in Shaftesbury. Like something out of a storybook, right?!

I'll be filling you in on more from my trip soon! For now though, I would love to hear about your recent trip/vacation or an upcoming one! Please join the convo in the comments below.

Also if you'd love to share a bit about a current trip or one from long ago, I'd love to host you right here on a Friday. 
All you need to do is email me at morganltarpley@yahoo.com for more info or visit this link here for more information. I'd love to hear from you!

God Bless and Happy Travels!

Morgan Tarpley

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Bear sighting and the Amish? Interview with Author Laura Hilton


Janna Kauffman loves grocery shopping for the homebound in her Amish community. When Janna’s sister washes her hands of her rebellious daughter, Meghan, and sends her to live with her Amish relatives, Janna is spending less time shopping and more time explaining Meghan’s actions to police officer Hiram “Troy” Troyer.
Formerly Amish Troy becomes a regular part of Janna and Meghan’s lives as Meghan continues to act out due to her Englisch mother’s rejection.

Could God tame a headstrong teenager and help Janna and Troy find love in the midst of it all?

Award winning author, Laura Hilton, her husband, Steve, and their five children make their home in Horseshoe Bend, Arkansas. She is a pastor’s wife, a stay-at-home mom and home-schools three of her children. Her two oldest children are homeschool graduates and are in college. Laura is also a breast cancer survivor.
Her publishing credits include three books in the Amish of Seymour series from Whitaker House: Patchwork Dreams, A Harvest of Hearts, and Promised to Another. And the Amish of Webster County series, Healing Love. Surrendered Love releases April 2013, and the third book will release September 2013.

A non-Amish book The Appalachian Ballad Quilt will release November 2014 from Abingdon Press. Laura is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. Laura is a professional book reviewer for the Christian market, with over a thousand book reviews published at various online review sites.
For more information about Laura, click here or here. For more on the book, here or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Ten Questions for Author Laura Hilton
What should readers know about your latest release? Does it differ from your past books, offer a new perspective on a familiar topic, or shed light on a unique situation?



Surrendered Love varies widely from my earlier books, but it still seems to theme around forgiveness.

What was the main inspiration for the new book? Had the idea been on your mind for a while or just popped into it one day?
It popped in my head one day, and I wrote a blurb so I wouldn’t forget it – and then when I was planning a new series, I worked that one in. It was time.

Why do you feel compelled to write—in your genre or at all?
God called me, as a child, to write. It is something I have to do. What God has given me a passion for, He’s given me permission for.

How has travel been involved in your writing and/or research? What’s been your most memorable research experience?
I’ve traveled to and through Seymour several times. For the September 2013 release, Awakened Love, I went to Shipshewana.  I even researched the bear sighting—which really happened in Seymour for Surrendered Love –as well as  the buggy accident in Surrendered Love which also really happened.

Who has inspired you the most on your writing journey—a loved one, fellow author, favorite teacher?
That is hard to answer. My parents were encouraging. Another writer was encouraging. My agent was. And one man read my finished books and really encouraged me by telling others that my books had a message in them that must be heard. He bought copies of my books for missionaries.

What surprised you the most about the writer’s journey—publication, representation, platform building, the writing itself?
Marketing. I am not a self-promoter at all.  I am who I am. I devote my life to promoting other authors! It is so foreign for me to try to promote myself.  That is by and far the hardest thing for me as a writer.

If you could rewind time to when you began your pursuit of publication, what would you tell yourself?
Don’t jump ahead of the horse. Wait until a big house/agent notices you instead of going with a small press with substandard work. BUT that said, God has called some authors to self-publish. And not all small press writings are substandard. I’m speaking for myself only. Mine was, in my opinion, and no one else’s is included in that opinion.

Now to have some fun with travel…
What’s your favorite place you have visited?

The Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Someday I would love to set a book there. I do have a historical set there that a publisher is ‘holding’ and I have a contemporary planned, if God opens the door in that direction.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Or would you return to somewhere you’ve already been?

I would love to go to Prince Edward Island.  Shipshewana, and spend more time. Holland, Michigan. The U.P. of Michigan…a number of places. 
And now a fun tidbit—if there was one special travel destination just for writers and you were the founder of it, what would the name be and would it be located?

I am not a good title writer, so I would need to poll the audience for the name of the writing retreat. But it would be on the beach, definitely.
Readers, name this retreat – and you could win a copy of Surrendered Love. Leave your suggestion in the comments and include contact information!

Monday, June 3, 2013

The Penning Board 2013-22


The Penning Board
Items of the Week

Movie: “The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” (2005) –Georgia Henley, Tilda Swinton, Jim Broadbent and James McAvoy

Four kids travel through a wardrobe to the land of Narnia and learn of their destiny to free it with the guidance of a mystical lion. 

I had to pick a movie that features England and London, even though only for a short time, since I have just returned from a 12-day excursion across England. I can’t wait to tell you all about it in a future blog post.

The film’s based on C.S. Lewis’s famous series. Enough said.
 
See this movie. Read the book.

News: “A Boy and His Dog Bring Smile to Soldier Dad”

This is such a cute idea and it really shows the sweet relationship between a boy and his dog and a fun way to lift his dad’s spirits while overseas on military tour. Check this out and get ready to smile.
http://news.yahoo.com/#photoslightboxdarla=%252Flightbox%252Fa-boy-and-his-dog-slideshow%252Fboy-dog-photo--86000300.html

Do you have cute pictures of pets from when you or your children were little? Do you think your current pet/s would let you dress them up like this?

Book: “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis

Narnia … the land beyond the wardrobe, the secret country known only to Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy … the place where adventure begins. Lucy is the first to find the secret wardrobe in the professor's mysterious old house. At first, no one believes her when she tells of her adventures in the land of Narnia. 

But soon Edmund and then Peter and Susan discover the Magic and meet Aslan, the Great Lion, for themselves. In blink of an eye, their lives are changed forever. Enter this enchanted world countless times in The Chronicles of Narnia.

Sure, you should definitely watch the movie as I mentioned above – but the book is even higher recommended. Unforgettable book and series.

For more about the book, click here.

Bible Verse:
“A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.” – Proverbs 19:11 (NIV)

Travel Quote:
“Traveling is a brutality. It forces you to trust strangers and to lose sight of all that familiar comfort of home and friends. You are constantly off balance. Nothing is yours except the essential things – air, sleep, dreams, the sea, the sky – all things tending towards the eternal or what we imagine of it.” – Cesare Pavese 

Song: “Scarborough Fair/Canticle” – Simon and Garfunkel

Lovely, classic rendition of this English folk song by the famous American duo. Their version was partially modified using one of their songs.
Have a listen here.