3 Questions Wednesday with Misty M. Beller

Misty Beller Profile Pic main3 Questions Wednesday welcomes  Christian historical romance author, Misty M. Beller. Don’t miss the opportunity to win her latest book, The Lady and the Mountain Call. You’ll find the details below. But first, find out her answers to our 3 questions…

What books have fortified you as a writer? How?

Misty:  I’ve always loved reading Christian historical fiction, so when I started writing my first novel, there was no doubt I wanted to write in that genre. I enjoy reading contemporary, as well, but when I’m working on the first draft of a story, I try to make sure I only read historical so I can keep the style and language fresh in my mind.

From a writing craft perspective, anything by James Scott Bell is so helpful. My favorite is the great Plot and Structure.

And, of course, my strongest inspiration is the Bible. Nothing I write would have value without the messages God gave us there!

I totally agree. : ) Now...

What secret talents do you have?

Misty: Oh, goodness. Probably not many. 🙂 I love to ride horses when I can sneak it in. I also play piano and was a music major my first year in college. Other than that, there’s not much secret (or maybe just no other talent. 🙂 )

Riding horses and playing piano seems like a lot of talent to me (I do neither). Last question:

If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?

Misty: I’m a southern girl, so it would most likely be a casserole. My husband likes to grill out, and I make a mean potato salad, but if I was the only one cooking, I’d most likely make my favorite Mashed Potato Casserole. The recipe was passed down to me by my mom, and is similar to shepherd’s pie, but even better!

Yum! I’d like to have that recipe. Thanks, Misty, for stopping by!

Misty is offering an e-book copy of her book, The Lady and the Mountain Call.Please leave a comment to be entered to win…


More about the author and her new book…

Profile Pic mainMisty M. Beller writes Christian historical romance, and is author of the bestselling Mountain Dreams Series, including her latest release The Lady and the Mountain Call.

Misty was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. About eleven years ago, she made a career change from farm life into the business world, where she worked as a Senior Manager and Director of Process & Training. She’s now loving the life of a full-time writer, wife, and mother.

You can find her on her website, reader blog, marketing blog for authors, Goodreads, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.

The Lady and the Mountain CallTheLadyandtheMountainCall

The wild Montana mountains are no place for an aging widow to live alone with dementia. And when Cathleen Donaghue discovers the poor woman’s condition, there’s no way she’ll walk away without helping. After all, she left her comfortable Boston home to help her brothers with their mining town medical practice because she wanted to make a difference. But the wild elements she encounters on this mission of mercy are nothing like she expected, especially the widow’s mountain man son who shows up out of the blue. 

Trapper Reuben Scott planned only a quick visit to his parents’ homestead to check on them and tan his winter hides, but the strange woman standing at his mother’s stove is a shock. And then she tells him his father has died and his mother is losing her mind. The sad news may bring an end to the life he’s loved—trapping, living in the wild freedom of these mountains, working closely with the Indians—no one demanding he measure up. But he’ll do anything for his family, what little he has left, that is. Even deal with the city woman who seems to connect with his confused mother. 

When tragedy strikes Cathleen’s family, she’s forced to choose between duty and the people who need her most. And the wrong decision could quickly lead to disaster. As the danger spirals out of her control, this impassive mountain man may be the only one with the skills to save her. But can she trust him with her heart, too?

 

The Autumns In My Life

By Betty Boyd 

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Autumn is truly my favorite season. I love the crispness in the air, the warm inviting afternoons. My favorite activity is photography. Since I am intrigued by the colors of leaves on the trees, this is the best time of year take photos, and offers the most fun in capturing the beauty Autumn has to offer. I also love to take advantage of the fantastic weather during Autumn.

Autumn is the most colorful season. I cannot get enough of the breathtaking pallet offered. Each tree, flower and shrub are bursting forth with their own unique grandeur of colors. I also like the smell of the leaves as they start to fall to the ground. Oh, what fun you can have just diving into a pile of freshly raked leaves!

Do you know the origin of this wonderful season?  No one is exactly sure except to say “falling” leaves has some merit. Eventually, when this term became popular in North America, and the result was from the word autumnus, an Etruscan word that maybe related to the Latin augere, meaning “to increase.”

Regardless, Autumn is such a positive season. Everyone needs more color in their lives and this season has it all. I need to drink up all that Autumn has to offer. I do not like that winter follows. The prospect of cold is one I do not relish.

Finally, Autumn is inviting, magical, and just down right cool.

So what is your favorite thing to do in Autumn?

pumpkinsComplete the prompt below for an extra entry in our blogaversary drawing! Submit your completed writing prompt via Comments.

Can you write a story with these four words?

  • Autumn
  • Color
  • Leaves
  • Crispness

AUTUMN

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Winds blow and seasons change. Spring is a time of rebirth, and autumn of dying off. Right? We tend to think of the seasons in order: spring, summer, autumn, and winter (and phooey to whoever said winter is the final season.) But is winter really the end?

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Like the seasons, our lives are constantly in flux, and we can embrace the changes. Or not.

Spring may be the time of new birth, but that’s not where new life begins. My tulips that are coming up didn’t suddenly, magically appear from nothing. I had to put bulbs in the ground, and I had to wait, through the winter months, to see the first results. That was four or five years ago, and now, being the tubers that they are, they are coming up in new locations too.

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Autumn is not so much a time of death and dying as it is making room and making ready for the new. Seeds dropped in the ground go through a transformation to become a flower or a stalk of corn or a pine tree. They don’t remain the same; what they begin as ceases to be so that what they are created to become can be.

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Not so different for us.

We have autumns in our lives when something we have held onto, something untrue, something we have outgrown, must fall off—or die—so that truth can abide, so that we can grow and mature.

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As I sat outside today, thinking on what to write for this post, I pondered the sky. The bright spring blue. And I thought of autumn, when the sky is a deep, rich azure.

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Autumn is a time when life slows down. I don’t mean the pace we humans put ourselves through. I mean nature. Plants go dormant, bears ready themselves for hibernation. Leaves, well, fall. And cast a magnificent carpet on the earth.

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But what of our lives? What is the autumn season in our lives? Is there that earthy aroma, that sense that something is dying off? Why do we think of that as a bad thing? I look back over the years, the many seasons, in my life, and I am oh! so grateful that some of my past has died and fallen away. I’m ever so thankful I’m not the person I was, even a few years ago. Even last year. I’ve grown, like an oak, and am stronger and a better person than I was in the past.

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But it didn’t happen without a few autumns and winters. Of course there are the spring and summers. But what happens if we don’t let go of what must die?

Ever watch the show, Hoarders?

I could write volumes about that. I did it for years, not hoarding per se, but holding on. I held on to beliefs—lies—about myself, about our heavenly Father. About the Truth even. You remember the snake? The lying, deceiving enemy of all we are? He made sure to keep me distracted so I couldn’t learn the Truth.

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But guess what. Greater is He who is in and with us!

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One definition of autumn includes, “A period of maturity verging on decline.” Which has a negative implication to it. Again, decline is not a bad thing. Didn’t Father God Himself have a day of rest? Doesn’t He expect us to do the same?

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When the nights become crisp again, and football and marching bands fill the air, when campfires and flannel are emerging, and winds turn bitter, we know it’s another transition. A season of letting go, of introspection and communion with Father. Listen, and hear His voice. What is He telling us to release, to plant for harvest in the spring? What must go to make room for the new? What will we prune away? What are we willing to let Father prune away?

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WRITING PROMPT:

The campfire burned bright, marshmallows turning golden then crispy. I reached for the pack of chocolate bars when…

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“I once said I should write down all the story ideas in my head so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!

Ms. Mason has been writing since 1995, and began working in earnest on her debut novel, Tessa in 2013. She resides in the Upstate of South Carolina since 1988. Besides Tessa, she has Clara Bess, book two in her unsavory heritage series. She is currently working on Cissy, the third and final book in the series. It will be released in September of this year.

Come visit me at:

http://robinsnest212.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Robin-E-Mason-Author-Artist/224223274404877

http://www.amazon.com/Robin-E.-Mason/e/B00MR5IQ9S

https://twitter.com/amythyst212

#autumn, #dormant, #transformation, #azuresky, #pruning, #hoarders, #campfires, #flannel, #smores, #albertcamus

3 Questions Wednesday with Karen Jurgens

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Karen Jurgens

Today, we welcome one of our own, Karen Jurgens, to 3 Questions Wednesday. Karen joined the team about a year ago, and has made herself invaluable to us by assisting with the editing and oversight. I am eager to see how she answers our questions, so here we go–

What books have fortified you as a writer? How?

Karen: My journey to become a professional writer and author began almost two years ago, so my library is small but growing. At ground zero, I added books I found online that spoke to my learning needs at the time. Later, I added ones recommended by authors in my critique group based on improving my specific areas of weakness.

Probably the greatest initial need was to learn to effectively use deep point of view, which I did by reading books on that topic and taking notes on card stock (I keep it next to my computer for quick review as I write—that’s the teacher in me). I also added The Emotion Thesaurus and The Negative Trait Thesaurus by Ackerman and Puglisi, which are wonderful references for helping to show and not tell.

Another useful resource has been Stein on Writing, which illustrates the writing techniques the author explains. Others are a variety of self-publishing do-it-yourself types from legal concerns to cover designs to finding motivation to never quit.

Sounds like a great “working” library. I’m a little envious. 🙂 Next question–

What secret talents do you have?

Karen: I have been interested in cooking as long as I can remember. In the late ‘50’s, my mother let me send away for Betty Crocker cake kits, and at the tender age of five, I was baking tiny spice cakes with caramel frosting, all from boxes to which I added water and stirred. By the time I was a teen, I read gourmet cookbooks like novels and took local cooking classes where I advanced to béarnaise sauce, French pastries, and homemade breads. Although I focus on healthy, lighter cuisine these days, I still enjoy making the rich, traditional menus at holidays.

I also adore acting. I grew up taking drama classes at the College Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati where I performed on stage as well as in my high school’s plays. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I researched my dad’s family roots that I discovered there was an actress in the family. I like to imagine that I inherited my love of acting from Adele Jergens, who made Hollywood movies in the 1940’s and ‘50’s.

How interesting! Sounds like a good story. If you love to cook, I’m looking forward to your next answer.

If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?

Karen: I’m so glad you asked because I love having company at my table! I would start off with a healthy kale, red cabbage, and avocado salad topped with a balsamic vinaigrette dressing. The main course would include roast chicken and new potatoes with garlic, parsley, sea salt and olive oil. I would add a green and yellow vegetable such as green beans and corn, or perhaps sautéed summer squash with minced onion, along with homemade dinner rolls. For dessert, I could offer you Neapolitan ice cream with a couple of ladyfingers or a goblet of fresh fruit laced with a splash of orange liqueur. We would follow up with after-dinner coffee and chocolates. (Dinner is served promptly at seven, so please don’t be late!)

I am seriously considering a trip to Texas after reading that menu! Mouth-watering! Thanks so much for answering our three questions.

Here’s more information about Karen and her books–


Karen Jurgens, a Cincinnati native, has been a Texan transplant for thirty years and counting. As a lifelong writer, she has written short stories since her elementary school days. As an adult, she earned an undergraduate degree in English and a graduate degree in French, which propelled her into high school teaching. Since 2014, she has begun a new career as an author, blogger, and speaker within the context of Christian ministry and is a member of ACFW. Her first contemporary romance novella, A Christmas Mosaic, was published in October, 2015, and is part of a multi-author anthology, Warm Mulled Kisses. Her second novel, Desire’s Deception, and will be published in September, 2016.

Warm Mulled Kisses 2Carlie Livingston is steering into her last year of college in Oxford, Ohio, confident that she and Lance Holloway are headed to the altar after graduation. Those plans are wrecked, however, by her dad’s infidelity, causing her parents to walk through a messy divorce. Will she have the same fate if she marries her college sweetheart who comes from a secular family? Her mother insists she will.

She tests God’s Word by letting Him take the wheel of her life. But if God is in control, why are all her close relationships crumbling?  Nothing makes sense.

Just when it appears hopeless, Clay McKinney two-steps into Carlie’s life, promising to provide everything she’s looking for. But if he’s God’s answer, why can’t her heart release Lance? Where will her final destination be on this journey of trust?

Buy link for Warm Mulled Kisses: http://www.amazon.com/Karen-Jurgens/e/B016CXTOOG


Karen blogs about scriptural answers to life’s trials at Touched by Him Ministries at www.karenjurgens.com.

Twitter: https://twitter.com/karenha00661653

Facebook Author page: http://www.facebook.com/TheKarenJurgens

Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/Karen-Jurgens/e/B016CXTOOG

Writing Prompts blog: https://writingpromptsthoughtsideas.wordpress.com/

Winter’s Sensory Appeal

By Karen Jurgens

Sensory appeal is a vehicle that transports the reader into a story, making it a real place. As we write, we need to paint the setting in such a way that it comes to life through the readers’ five senses.

Want a good shortcut? Cataloging personal memoirs of a particular season can come in handy for a reference. As an illustration, let me take you on a rambling journey of my recollection of Winter where touch, taste, sound, smell, and hearing punctuate my memories.

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Feelings

What do I feel when I think of Winter? Numbing cold. Growing up in the Midwest, we had wicked winters for as long as I can recall. No matter how many layers of wool and fleece, the bitter freeze cut through them like a razor-sharp knife. The temperature of my feet and hands remained like ice cubes no matter what, and it could be quite embarrassing when I was a teenager on a date—especially at the movies. A typical conversation ran like this:

Him: He drops my hand like he’d just touched a snake. “Why are your hands freezing?”

Me: Were they that cold? I had worn leather gloves to the theater. “They just always are.” I sigh as I retrieve my gloves and proceed to wiggle my hands into them. But my cheeks aren’t cold—they’re burning.

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Him: “Don’t bother. I’ll warm them up.” He scoops my hands into his and forms a heated tent with both palms, wrapping his fingers around mine.

Me: I snuggle up to his warmth, hoping he understands that it’s just my freeze-cat nature and not him.

My hands might have warmed up at the movies, but defrosting in a boiling bath every night was my primary relief. I soaked until my extremities resurrected, then slid into a thick nightgown and jumped into bed before my newly-found heat evaporated. Even beneath layers of blankets and quilts, the bed was icy-cold, and for the next hour, my feet turned back into icicles, chasing away sleep. (Why I never used an electric blanket or wore warm socks to bed, I’ll never know.)

But the story, like the cold, worsens. One winter, the real temperature dropped to minus fifty below zero, and the wind chill was nearly double. Although fires roared in all three hearths and the thermostat was set high, it was impossible to warm the house above sixty-five degrees. The corners of the kitchen ceiling closest to the outside wall formed ice, causing the heat from the ceiling spotlights to melt it into slow, spattering droplets.

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For the most part, the hard winters cast a frozen spell over the Midwest, wrapping everything in a white, paralyzing glaze. Snow lay in layers between the intermittent and endless storms, and on those rare, blue-skied days would slice a painful glare into eyes unprotected by dark glasses. The limbs of bare trees reached into the frigid air, begging the wind to soften its harsh blow. Flowers had deserted their beds long ago, and the lonely shrubs hugged together in shared misery. The animal and insect kingdoms gathered its members and retreated until warmer days, except for a few flaming-red Cardinals and their female companions who pecked at birdseed bells hanging from tree limbs, their only source of nourishment to stay alive.

Birds in the Park

Growing up in the City of the Seven Hills wasn’t all bad—the steep snow-covered slopes were perfect for sled riding. Bundled up like mummies in layers of sweaters, coats, and leggings topped with hats, scarves, mittens, and boots, we would drag our Radio Flyers to the top of a mountainous hill and then push off.

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The more timid kids lay flat on their stomachs, but the braver sat upright, racing to the bottom. The faster the descent, the rougher the ride, and by the time the parallel blades came to a stop, brains and body rattled together like marbles in a pinball machine. Laughing with relief that no one had plowed into a tree or had tumbled mid-flight and broken a rib (that time), we would race to the top and do it all over again, thrilling in the fear of reckless speed and good-natured competition.

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Packing our ice skates for lessons at Cincinnati Gardens was also a weekly ritual. All winter long we enjoyed parties at the indoor skating rink as well as those held outdoors at someone’s frozen pond. We glided arm-in-arm under a cold, black sky patterned with glittering stars, interspersed with breaks where we warmed up next to a bonfire. These memories are as sweet as the hot chocolate with melted marshmallows that we sipped, reveling in good friendships and fun during the carefree days and nights of that bitter season.

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But there were also opportunities for rest on snowy-cold afternoons. As silent snowflakes drifted from the clouds, I would take luxurious naps on the couch opposite our large fireplace where a toasty fire danced the cha-cha. The logs flamed until they glowed with cherry-red and orange embers, and the soft crackling and popping lulled me to sleep. Those naps folded me into a warm cocoon dotted with peaceful dreams.

Taste and Smell

To help conquer the distress of the unending cold weather, hot food and beverages played a crucial role in surviving the season. I enjoyed cooking as much as eating, so I spent time in the kitchen creating a variety of comfort foods. Christmastime smelled and tasted like gingerbread, cranberries, and spiced apples. _MG_3286_

The rich smell of roasted game fowl, the nuttiness of steaming wild rice, the sweet pungency of hot yeast rolls dripping butter, the sweet cinnamon of warm apple pies, together with the smell of fresh coffee laced with chicory, floated through the rooms of our home.

After the holidays came the slowest months of the New Year. The lagging month of January puffed out sharp spices of bubbling chili and spaghetti and the rich gravies of beef and vegetable stews.

My own Cincinnati Skyline Chili

My own Cincinnati Skyline Chili

February’s sweets lined a parade of cupcakes frosted with chocolate and trimmed with pink and red hearts. Valentine’s Day parties showcased stacks of finger sandwiches oozing soft chicken salad and luscious petit fours paired with vanilla ice cream.

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By the time St. Patrick’s Day arrived (which also happens to be my birthday), the entire house was wrapped in the aroma of sugar, vanilla, and baking powder from scratch cakes with gooey frosting, mounded high in sticky-soft swirls.

My birthday cake last year with my daughter, Meg.

What a wonderful relief to celebrate the end of Winter and the beginning of Spring!

Remember to enter our Blogaversary Celebration by leaving an answer to the writing prompt. You’ll be eligible to win a $100 Amazon gift card!

Writing Prompt: Using sensory details, write a description of Winter to keep in your writing file. When I think of Winter, I (feel, etc.) …

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Photos courtesy of MorgueFile