Saturday, November 19, 2016

A Book Birthday Bash - Faith Blum


Who doesn’t like a birthday party? Faith certainly does. November 19th was the third birthday of her debut novel, A Mighty Fortress. To celebrate, she has all sorts of fun going on. First, she’s released a newly revised version of A Mighty Fortress. Second, she has most of her published books on sale. Third, she’s releasing the box set of all five of her novels for a special discounted price. And fourth, but not least, she now has the audiobook of her AMF available! Read on for more party fun.

About the Book

“Stay back!” Joshua ordered.  He kept his eyes on the scene below while waving his arm in Ruth's direction.  “Get deeper into the woods and stay down low to the ground.”
Joshua hazarded a glance behind him.  He could no longer see Ruth and breathed a sigh of relief.  In one swift move, he grabbed his rifle and lay flat to the ground.  Extending the rifle, he aimed at the shorter man whose gun was pointed at Bradshaw. 

Joshua and Ruth Brookings are traveling by stagecoach to finally join their parents in Montana. Attacked by murderous outlaws, the teens barely escape with their lives and must survive in the barren Wyoming and Montana territories and escape the man who's hunting them.

Seven years ago, Jed Stuart ran away from home and joined Tom's gang. Jed is tired of the lawlessness and wants out. The only problem? He is the boss's right-hand man and will never be able to leave. And what's one more stagecoach robbery, anyway?

Can Joshua lean on God's strength to keep himself and his sister alive until they find a town?   Will Jed be able to face his anger or will it consume him completely? All three are running--the hunter and hunted. What will happen when they meet?

Audiobook


Faith is excited to announce that she partnered with Michael Stanton to produce an audiobook version of her book. We’re not sure exactly when it will be available, but if you sign up for her New Releases newsletter, you will get an email with the announcement.



Hymn Themes in Stories

Part of my brand as an author is that all the titles of my books are also hymn titles. This all started with my first published book, A Mighty Fortress. When trying to figure out the title for my book, I noticed that the hymn A Mighty Fortress was woven into the story many times as was the theme of the hymn. After that, I started looking for hymns that would work for each story. Often times, I had the title and hymn picked out before I had the story written or figured out. There were exceptions to this, of course.

As for how I wove the theme of the hymn into the story, it was sometimes hard to do, but most of the time, I did it unintentionally. When working with a theme in a story, unintentional weaving in is the best thing to do. I could never have done it without God’s help.


During the times the theme didn’t naturally come through, I would read through the story and look for places I could add it in without interrupting the flow of the scene or messing up the story. It can be challenging, but with God’s help, it can be done easily and well. 

About the Author


Faith Blum started writing at an early age. She started even before she could read! She even thought she could write better than Dr. Seuss. (The picture doesn’t show it well, but there are scribblings on the page of Green Eggs and Ham). Now that she has grown up a little more, she knows she will probably never reach the success of Dr. Seuss, but that doesn’t stop her from trying.
When she isn’t writing, Faith enjoys doing many right-brained activities such as reading, crafting, playing piano, and playing games with her family. One of her dreams is to visit Castle City, Montana, someday to see the ghost town she chose for her characters to live in. She currently lives on a hobby farm with her family in Wisconsin.
There are many ways to connect with Faith online. All of them can be found in one convenient place: http://FaithBlum.com. On her website you can find links to her various social media sites and both of her blogs.

Giveaway
Faith is offering three prizes!



Grand Prize:
·         Audiobook of A Mighty Fortress (MP3 download)—Could be a short delay
·         The Solid Rock Notebook
1st Prize:
·         Feather Quill Necklace

2nd Prize:
·         eBook set of Hymns of the West: The Complete Series

http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/9912248015

Hymns of the West, the Complete Series




Faith also just released her first box set, the complete Hymns of the West series. It’s available for a special discounted pre-order price until November 26th and will stay at that price until November 30th.

About the Book

Two Families…
The Brookings family move from Illinois to Montana to start a horse ranch. Their journey to Montana has hazards of its own, as does their life in Castle City, affecting each of them in various ways.
The Stuarts have been living a secluded life in Tennessee since the matriarch of the family died. When Jed runs away, they seclude themselves even more until a letter arrives that changes their lives—one at a time—forever.

Two Worldviews…
One family has believes in God with their whole hearts, living out their lives to the glory of God. The other family believes in God in a general sense, but they have no commitment toward Him or His ways.

One Providential God.
A stagecoach robbery instigates their meeting. Two years later, they meet again. Another year and their lives cross paths again. What happens when God's providence brings two families with two different worldviews together in ways only He could have planned?

Mega-Sale

Every eBook in the Hymns of the West series is on sale. A Mighty Fortress is permafree, and the other eBooks in the series are $0.99. In addition, the spin-off novella series has a book on sale as well.

Links:

Life and Salvation: Hymns of the West Novellas 1-3



Faith also has the paperbacks on sale if you buy them from Createspace with the discount codes.
$2.00 off (8.99) with code: MBJB3XSY
$2.00 off (6.99) with code: GQ3KTJYY
$1.50 off (9.49) with code:93LQLRJ8
$2.00 off (11.99) with code: TJXAYXD2
$1.50 off (10.49) with code: 7626YZAK
$2.00 (6.99) with code: V4Y5K46D

Tour Schedule

November 19
Bookish Orchestrations-Tour Introduction
Author Franky A Brown-Book Spotlight

November 21
Writing Dreams-Author Interview
God's Peculiar Treasure Rae-Character Spotlight-Joshua
Zerina Blossom's Books-Author Interview

November 22
The Overactive Imagination-Review of Be Thou My Vision

November 23
Frances Hoelsema- Book Spotlight
Thought of Anna S. Brie-Author Interview

November 25
Bookish Orchestrations-Candid Author Interview
Firethorn Blog-Author Spotlight

November 26
Writings, Ramblings, and Reflections-Character Interview with Ruth
Ladies in Defiance-Guest Post

November 28
Once Upon an Ordinary- Author Interview
Written Rest-Character Spotlight -Anna

November 29
The Overactive Imagination-Review of A Mighty Fortress
Jaye L. Knight- Character Spotlight-Caleb

November 30
Bookish Orchestrations-Tour Wrap-up and winner


Monday, October 10, 2016

Reversal Zone by J. Grace Pennington





J. Grace Pennington has published four science fiction novels. They each have a unique bent to them, but this one is very different. Each book is a standalone, but as with any series, you get more of the story if you read them all in order. In Reversal Zone, the main character, Andi Lloyd, becomes the only one who can save the ship and crew. Can she do it in time?

About the Book

Nothing is as it should be.

After weeks of boredom, Andi is excited when the Surveyor is called upon to rescue a freighter that mysteriously vanished in uncharted space.  Excitement quickly turns to unease when the ship encounters an unknown phenomenon—a cloud that appears not to exist.  But with the freighter's crew in danger, the Surveyor has no choice but to venture into unknown territory.

As soon as they enter the cloud, its unstable effects wreak havoc on the ship.  They're flying blind.  Every piece of equipment is malfunctioning.  And every member of the crew is unable to think straight or act like themselves—except Andi.

Now she's expected to guide them through the predicament with no previous command experience and no one to turn to for support.  And with each passing hour, it becomes clear that if they don't escape the cloud soon—they won't escape it at all.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01LZV1ILB

Excerpt

“Four degrees starboard.” Crash pointed, leaning over August's shoulder and peering at the navigation display.
            I sat in the visitor's chair on the port side of the bridge, watching as everyone went about their business.  Once I'd helped Olive, the nurse, finish unloading the new medical supplies, there was nothing to do in sickbay other than refill a few prescriptions, which the Doctor liked to do himself.  Thus Olive had gone to find her husband, our first engineer, and I had headed to the bridge. 
            I couldn't remember the last time things had been so uneventful.
            Uneventful for the Doctor and Olive and I, anyway.  Things did not appear uneventful for the Captain and Guilders.
            The Captain sat ramrod straight in his chair on the little platform in the command pit, glowering at Crash.  Crash ignored him, remaining draped over the back of August's chair.
            Normally the bridge was one of my favorite places to be, second only to sickbay.  I loved the open space to the front and both sides, the view of the stars as they sped past, even the sober gray-blue color of the walls.  I loved seeing how smoothly things ran, like the workings of the most intricate electronic device, and I loved the disciplined aura of the bridge team working together to get everything done.
            But today, it was different.  The color was the same, and of course the stars hadn't changed much.  The atmosphere, however, had something added to it, and that something was Crash.  The room even felt smaller, as though it couldn't contain two big personalities at once.
            “When I left, they were still in Delta thirty-five-sixty-seven,” Crash explained, straightening up and facing the Captain.  “That's as far as I can guide you for sure.  Pretty soon after that they disappeared from the scopes.”
            The Captain frowned and leaned forward.  “I'm still not clear as to why you left them.”
            Crash paced away from August, whose face relaxed slightly.
            I bit my lip.  No matter how much I'd missed Crash, it was never long before he began to irritate me.
            “I told you.  DeMille hired me to guide the Pigeon through some of the uncharted sectors to the rendezvous.  But Captain Dooley is just a little too set in his ways, and didn't ever listen to me, even though DeMille said he had to.”
            “That doesn't surprise me,” Guilders said.
            I shifted in my chair, trying to quell the restlessness.
            “I saw I was doing no good, and Dooley obviously didn't like having me there, so I left.  They were getting into territory even I hadn't explored, anyway.”  Placing his hands on his hips and standing with legs apart, he faced the Captain.  “Don't know if you know Dooley.  A very... possibly the most serious and emotionless man I have ever met.  Not a hint of fun or romance.”  He wrinkled his face.
            The Captain sighed.  “No, I don't know him.”
            “But he sounds like an entirely satisfactory person to me,” Guilders said without the slightest change of expression.
            I couldn't stop an amused snort, and Crash looked over his shoulder at the first officer.  “What was that?”
            “Nothing, sir,” said Guilders.  For a moment, I thought the “sir” carried a hint of sarcasm, but his face remained unchanged.
            “Mr. Crash,” the Captain questioned, “do you have any idea at all what could have happened to the Pigeon?”
            “No idea whatsoever.”
            The Captain cupped his clean-shaven chin in his hand and frowned.  “This doesn't add up.  A ship doesn't just... disappear.”

            “Well, this one did.”

Guest Post by the Author

I have a confession to make.  I love movies.  I love the craftsmanship that goes into making a truly excellent piece of cinema.  I'm a serious film buff who will lean over and whisper behind-the-scenes trivia to my boyfriend every time we watch something together.  I inhale making-of featurettes.  I don't just have a top ten favorites list, I have a top fifty.

But that's not the confession.  The confession is that lately, I actually like television shows more than I like feature films.

It may be partly because I'm busier, which makes it much easier to find time to watch something twenty or forty minutes long than squeeze in a full two hours.  But it's also because you can form a much stronger bond with the characters than you can in a single movie.  I love stories for many reasons, but first and foremost I love them for their characters.

Granted, you can get to know people much better in a book than in a movie, because you can delve into their inner thoughts and feelings in a way a visual depiction never can.  But still, nothing can beat getting to know someone over the course of many stories, seeing them act and react over a large span of time, watching them grow and advance in the world in more time than can fit into a single book.  In essence, a series is the TV show of the literary world.

And since I've watched a lot of TV shows, I've been able to identify a couple of pitfalls to try to avoid in my series.

1-Jumping the Shark

Okay, so I'm not the only one who has identified this.  The term was coined after an episode of Happy Days where the writers, having run out of better ideas, had their character Fonzie water ski over a shark.  It's basically any point in a series where something ridiculous is inserted because the story has run out of steam and the storytellers just throw something in that doesn't fit in order to keep their audience interested.  Even the best series can fall prey to this—one of my all-time favorite shows, Friends, started to lose traction several seasons in and incorporated an ill-fated romantic attraction between two of the characters that eventually fizzled out without really adding anything to the overall arc of the series.  While the actors were able to pull it off enough that it wasn't a complete disaster, it was disappointing to many of the fans.

The core problem?  These series went so long they ran out of things to do.  The amount of interesting things for a set of characters to do is not infinite.  And attempts to prolong a series past its natural “expiration date” often leads to shark-jumping that shatters the suspension of disbelief and bores the audience.  The solution?  Planning.  Plan out exactly what the series is going to look like, from start to finish.  Craft an entire, complex story that contains only what it needs to.  You can't run out of ideas if all the ideas are already there from the beginning.

I did this early on for my Firmament series—I planned out all the books before I even wrote the first one.  That doesn't mean I'm not willing to change the plan if I need to.  As I learn more about writing, I tweak it.  But I'm not going to just keep going aimlessly just for the sake of continuing it.  If anything, over time I've condensed it.  The series went from twenty-four books to eighteen, but it still begins and ends the same way with the same basic plot points in between.

2-The Customer is Always Right

This may be true in retail, but it's not the case in storytelling.  Audiences and readers may think they know what they want, but they don't.  They may clamor for their favorite character to be saved from death, or for their favorite pair to become romantically involved, or for a series to continue past its end date.  But while authors may not be perfect, they are the gods of their own stories.  Nobody knows the characters like they do.  No one else has spent the amount of time and effort on the stories that they have. 

One of the most famous examples of this is Sherlock Holmes.  After years of fame, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle had grown weary of writing his famous detective and decided to kill him off so he could move on to other things.  As a diehard Holmsian, I certainly wouldn't love this decision, but Doyle's cave to the public's pressure didn't produce the best results.  He resurrected Holmes in body, but most of the stories penned after that are missing a great deal of Holmes's spirit.  It would probably have been just as well for him to have left it alone and moved on to the things that his heart was truly in.

A more recent and more frustrating example is the television show Once Upon a Time.  Originally a brilliant, charming premise involving fairytale characters cursed to live in our world, over five seasons it has gone far beyond jumping the shark—it has jumped whole oceans in its absurd attempts to revive the spark that once made it such a great series.  But the last straw came when the writers, pressured by certain factions of their fanbase, added an LBGT storyline in one of their recent episodes.  Unfortunately, it did them no favors because it had nothing to do with the larger series arc.  It was clumsily inserted to appease the clamoring public, but at the end of the day it didn't even do that.  The conservative viewers weren't happy, for obvious reasons.  The LBGT viewers weren't happy, because it wasn't handled in a way that respected their community.  And the neutral viewers weren't happy because it distracted from the story in a completely unnecessary way.

The solution?  Once you make your plan, stick to it.  Not at the exclusion of truly superior ideas, but don't change your series plan simply because of pressure or fear of the reaction if you don't.  For my series, I do accept feedback from other writers, people whose ideas about story I trust and respect.  But there are some things I have planned for future books that I know certain people won't like.  Does that make me cringe a little bit inside?  Yep.  But I wouldn't have planned it if I didn't believe it was best for the story, so I'm sticking to it.


This book is the fourth in the series.  The first was published four years ago, in 2012.  I'm not getting them out as quickly as I'd hoped, but I know I'm doing the best I can and so I try to be content with that.  I try to follow my imagination where it wants to go, within the bounds of the principles of good writing and the parameters I've set for this set of eighteen stories.  In the end, I hope that it isn't truly eighteen different stories.  I hope that it's one, grand overarching story about a young woman who comes of age in a time when the firmament of space is just a simple shuttle ride away.

About the Author


J. Grace Pennington has been telling stories since she could talk, and writing them down since age five.  Now she lives in the great state of Texas, where she writes as much as adult life permits.  When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading good books, playing movie soundtracks on the piano, and looking up at the stars.

You can find out more about her writing at www.jgracepennington.com.


Giveaway





Grace is generously offering three prizes. A signed copy of each of her three previous novels in the series. They are each standalone stories, but they are also connected. If you would like to read more about them, you can read about them here: Radialloy, In His Image, Machiavellian.

To enter the giveaway, please fill out this form.
 

Tour Schedule 

Friday, October 7
Bookish Orchestrations-Tour Introduction
The Destiny of One-Guest Post
Rebekah Lyn Books-Author Interview

Saturday, October 8
Shout outs-Guest Post
Shire Reviews-Book Review

Sunday, October 9

Monday, October 10
Rachel Rossano's Words-Excerpt and Guest Post
In the Bookcase-Excerpt and Book Review

Tuesday, October 11

Wednesday, October 12
Bookish Orchestrations-Giveaway Winner