April McGowan

Hold the Light releases August 15th

Hold the Light releases August 15th. YES, I said August 15th. I know!! Right?!? SO excited. And I’ll be smack in the middle of the stupendously awesome Oregon Christian Writers Summer Conference. Talk about a fun week! All the things! I’ll also be mentoring at the conference, so if you’re a budding writer, sign up and let’s chat!

There’s a rumor I’ll have my author copies in time for the conference, which makes my little author heart go pitter-patter. (Update: I HAVE THEM. THEY ARE GORGEOUS!!).

There’s really nothing like waiting for a book-baby to show up. Okay…maybe a real baby. But a book baby is the very next best thing. To me.

I’m already getting feedback on the book, and it’s wonderful to hear that my prayers in my intentions and hope are touching hearts and bringing people comfort and encouragement. That’s the second best thing to holding the book baby–touching others with big ideas that I’ve had hidden in my spirit for some time. ALSO Hold the Light will be released in audio book form for the vision impaired and audio book lovers!

How can you help a girl get the word out about her book? Share this post, pre-order Hold the Light and please, please, please write reviews!

To pre-order, click HERE. And thanks so much in advance!

To an artist, the light is everything. So what is Amber supposed to do when facing blindness?

Amber spent her life adapting first to being abandoned by her birth mother as a toddler, and then to the death of her adoptive father in her teen years. Now she s moved past all that, loving life as an independent woman: she has a job as an art instructor and the perfect apartment.

But when a routine eye appointment reveals she’s losing her sight, life comes to a halt. Pressures come at her from all sides. Her mother, her boss, her boyfriend and her closest friend, Shannon, all have ideas about what’s best for her.

Even after her blindness counselor, Ethan, befriends her and opens her eyes to new opportunities and the possibility of a deeper relationship, one haunting question remains: How could the God she loved all her life turn everything upside down again?

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Guest Post: Author Dina Sleiman/Dauntless

Some time back I interviewed Dina after reading her novel Dance from Deep Within (click here to read the interview again). Today, I’m excited to invite Dina as a guest poster to share about her new release, a young adult series called Valiant Hearts. I’m just starting Dauntless now, and it’s excellent. Please give a warm welcome to author Dina Sleiman:

From Bethany House Publishers
Katniss Everdeen and Tris Prior, prepare to meet your historical counterparts!

Dina Sleiman

Photo by Silly Little Sparrow

 Hello and thanks for having me today. I would like to share with you about my YA inspirational medieval adventure/romance series. Yeah, that’s a lot of adjectives. LOL. This series is pretty unique, especially in the Christian market, and so requires quite a bit of description. But let me start by sharing a little of how it came about. A few summers ago I saw a picture of a female knight, strong and courageous, bold and valiant, and I realized that somewhere in my many years of marriage and raising children, I had lost my fight.

And you know what? I wanted it back!

Meanwhile, I had been considering trying my hand at a young adult medieval romance series for several years, but I didn’t have a strong idea. Quite a few more months would pass before everything came together for me. I was walking and praying about a series concept, when the BBC’s new Robin Hood came to mind with its bold Maid Marian who is a crusader for the poor in her own right, its female Djaq, and its tough villainesses. That’s when it hit me. Put strong, young medieval women in legendary male roles, et voila, my Valiant Hearts Series was born.

I’m so thankful for this opportunity to create strong and courageous role models for young women. I feel that all too often Christian girls are sent mixed messages. “You can be whatever you want to be, but you should be…” (insert small box of your denominational choosing here.) I want to inspire young women to be all that they can be and empower them to reach their full potential in Christ.

 

“What is a Valiant Heart heroine?” you might ask. A young woman who is both feminine and strong, vulnerable and tough, gentle and passionate. She is fearless, intelligent, and full of life. A heroine who contains within her both the tender beauty of a blossoming flower and the fierceness of a lioness. One who uniquely reflects her creator God and is willing to pursue her dreams with all her heart. A woman who is open to love, but not defined by a man.

Dinas Novel

Each book in the Valiant Hearts Series will feature a strong, young medieval woman in a traditionally male role as she lives out a story of adventure, romance, and faith. The series is geared toward teens, but will appeal to adults as well.

Shown above is Merry Ellison, my heroine for the Robin Hood inspired Dauntless. Merry will go to any length to save the outlawed children of Ellsworth from the treacherous King John. Dauntless is available now online, as an ebook, and in local bookstores. Click HERE for more information.

In book 2, Chivalrous, Gwendolyn Barnes longs to be a knight, but such cannot be her fate, even in the Camelot inspired region where she dwells. Meanwhile, her father intends to use her as a marriage pawn. In this story that flips the Lancelot/Guinevere legend on its head, Gwendolyn struggles with issues of gender and worth as well as her faith in God. Chivalrous is available for pre-order online and will release in September. Click HERE for more info and to preorder.

My heroine Rosalind for book 3 (working title Relentless) has a role in book 2 as well. I’m picturing Katie McGrath from the series Merlin. She serves as Gwendolyn’s handmaid in book 2, but in book 3 she will face her own adventure as she goes on crusade in search of redemption. I just started writing this one, and it will be fun to see where this story takes me.

And I have ideas for more: pirates, body guards, spies, even a quest!

I hope you will consider giving my Valiant Hearts Series a try, or perhaps purchasing it for some special young woman in your life! And please join me on my Valiant Hearts blog to stay in touch. http://valiantheartsseries.blogspot.com/

 

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Dina Sleiman writes stories of passion and grace. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Since finishing her Professional Writing MA in 1994, she has enjoyed many opportunities to teach literature, writing, and the arts. Her debut novel, Dance of the Dandelion with Whitefire Publishing, won an Honorable Mention in the 2012 Selah Awards. Also look for her novels, Love in Three-Quarter TimeDance from Deep Within, and her Valiant Hearts series with Bethany House Publishers. Dina serves as an acquisitions editor for WhiteFire Publishing as well, and she loves to teach at writers conferences throughout the US.

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Getting to Know you Author Elaine Marie Cooper

JPH04.14.0006HighRes (6 of 14)Elaine Marie Cooper is the author of Fields of the Fatherless, a historical fiction based on a true story from the American Revolution. She has also penned three historical romances: The Road to Deer Run, The Promise of Deer Run and The Legacy of Deer Run. Her passions are her family, her faith in Christ and the history of the American Revolution, a frequent subject of her fiction. She grew up in Massachusetts, the setting for many of her novels. Her new release is Bethany’s Calendar, a memoir of her daughter’s battle with brain cancer.

I recently read her new title. Here is my reviewBethany’s Calendar is a touching memoir of a mother’s last days with her dying daughter. It’s woven with raw emotion, tragic moments, and unbreakable threads of Godly hope. Each chapter begins in Bethany’s own words as excerpts from her journal, continues with the author’s heartfelt, hard-earned experiences and memories, and closes with a thought or devotional, always pointing back to The Comforter of our sorrows for strength needed for the next day—or the next hour. A good book entertains, but an excellent book changes how we feel and offers a new perspective that unobtrusively works its way into our consciousness. This is such a book. A must-read for anyone dealing with cancer or chronic illness in their own lives or the lives of a loved one.

Please join me in welcoming Elaine!

Tell us a little about your background and how you became interested in writing. I think most authors confess to a childhood passion for writing. J My early attempts at the craft were an assortment of short fiction, poems, and a television manuscript! I’m sure they were quite amusing. I never thought this interest would lead to becoming a writer but the Lord kept leading me onto that path, regardless of my own plans.

What led you to write “Bethany’s Calendar?” I have to say it was the Lord impressing the idea on my heart during praise and worship time at a writer’s conference. I had no intentions of 8ever writing the painful saga of my daughter’s battle with brain cancer. I thought I would only continue writing historical fiction. But like Bethany’s illness changed her plans, God changed mine.

What is “Bethany’s Calendar” about? It’s the story of facing my worst fear: losing a child. It’s also the story of how we helped her through that painful journey and how others in similar situations can be strengthened in their role as caregivers. This memoir is geared toward families dealing with serious illness, cancer sufferers, nurses, and friends of caregivers. I pray that what my husband and I learned during this crisis will give hope and help to others.

That must have been unimaginably hard to write. Reliving that painful time was at times excruciating. I had many prayer warriors lifting me up to help me through the writing of the chapters. What a blessing to feel the prayers of others.

In the book, you say ” Be aware that many times, the people who you think would be the most supportive and helpful, will let you down in one way or another. If there are friends or family who are draining you of emotional energy, it is OK to keep them at a distance until you are capable of dealing with them.” Why do you feel that way? I have spoken with others in similar circumstances and I receive nods of understanding. I feel that way because as the caregiver, you have to keep your patient the priority for your energy. If you allow others to sap your strength with their unhelpful behavior, you end up of hurting yourself as well as your loved one. But I also add that it is important to forgive. Usually these people are grieving as well. That’s excellent advice. It’s like on the airplane and you’re told  in case of emergency to place your oxygen mask first and then help those around you.

What’s the most important thing readers will learn from “Bethany’s Calendar?” I pray that readers will see how faith in God can help them through the most dire of circumstances. Life is not easy but the Lord has promised us He will never leave us or forsake us. I also pray that caregivers will learn ways to be advocates for their loved ones who are ill. Every patient, weak from illness, needs a strong supporter who is willing to go to bat for them.

Now that you’ve shared about your journey with Bethany, do you have any upcoming plans for new novels? Yes, I’m working on a historical fiction set in Saratoga, New York in October of 1777. And in October of 1977. And no, it is not a time travel novel. 😉

Would you share a Bible verse that is particularly meaningful to you? A verse that means a great deal to me is 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so our comfort overflows through Christ.” HCSB 

A friend from church sent me these verses during Bethany’s illness and it made such an impression on me. I realize now that the message of this passage of Scripture seems to have come full circle in writing “Bethany’s Calendar,” and I pray it brings comfort to others.

Finally, can you tell us when you’re not writing, what do you enjoy doing? Being with my family. Crocheting. Going to quality movies. Drinking tea and eating scones. Oh, scones, tea and movies. I’m all over that. If you’re ever in the PacNW, look me up 🙂 Thanks so much for joining us! I am so grateful you’ve taken the time to read this interview. And I pray that, should your family ever be impacted by cancer, that “Bethany’s Calendar” will help you in some way through your difficult journey.

Bethanys Calendar CoverYou can find Elaine Marie Cooper’s novel, Bethany’s Calendar on Amazon here http://buff.ly/12izRBy

Don’t go yet! If you have any questions of Elaine or myself, don’t forget to comment below!

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