Friday, October 31, 2014

Winners!!!!!!!

I failed to complete the drawing last week. Totally my fault. So I'm announcing two winners!

This week's winner of Nancy Kimball's Chasing the Lions is Terri!


And last week's winner of one of Tamera Kraft's books is traveler!



Have a great weekend!

Cindy
www.cindyswriting.com

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Review: The Glory Field


Walter Dean Myers

The Glory Field

By Walter Dean Myers
Scholastic, May 2008

About the Book

Spanning nearly 250 years of African American history, this emotionally charged saga of the Lewis family traces an ongoing battle for freedom and equality. Beginning with young Muhammad Bilal’s journey from Africa in 1753 and ending with a 1990s family reunion set on the plantation where Muhammad was a slave, this series of resonant stories shows how each generation comes of age by taking a stand against oppression.

All through the Civil War, Great Depression, and civil rights movement, the family’s strength and determination continue unabated. In his typically taut, economic prose, Myers (Somewhere in the Darkness) illuminates shadowy corners of history and reveals the high cost-and the excruciatingly slow process-of justice. The obstacles facing the Lewis family will be remembered as clearly as their triumphs, and readers will come away from this novel with both a broader perspective on social conflicts and a more profound understanding of the past.

My Review

Recently released in a new paperback edition, The Glory Field is a true must-read. Why? It’s practically perfect in every way. It is a novel that traces a family from its Sierra Leone roots to what was at the time of its publishing modern-day, urban America.

The Glory Field loosely weaves together the story of one family through multiple generations. Our story begins with a brief vignette (1753) focusing on Muhammad Bilal, a young boy who is captured and sold into slavery in the South. Many settings, many narrators, many individual stories and legacies that collectively capture the African-American experience: 1753, 1864, 1900, 1930, 1964, 1994. It is an emotional, well-written, almost poetic journey. Very heartfelt. Very real. Very moving. The characterization is wonderful.

I really came to love and care for all the characters across the generations. I’ve read a few other novels through the years that have sought to tell a multi-generational story, but none have been so effective, so masterfully done.

If you love historical fiction, then you must read this one. It’s a truly great novel.

“We come a long way and we got a long way to go. You can’t make much progress if you don’t leave home, but you can sure mess yourself up if you don’t remember where home is.”

Becky’s Book Reviews
Operation Actually Read Bible
Young Readers

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Nancy Kimball: Not afraid to ask for expert help



Welcome back for our second day with author Nancy Kimball!

Nancy, what’s the most interesting (or unusual) thing you’ve done in the name of research for one of your books?
This one is easy! There are two world-renowned experts in Roman and gladiatorial history, Andrew Wallace-Hadrill of the University of Cambridge and Kathleen Coleman of Harvard University. They would turn up in all the documentaries I was watching for my research and most of the publications. Dr. Coleman was also the historical adviser to the Gladiator film (though the film went against her suggestions quite a bit). I’m a person who thinks big, and I tracked down Dr. Coleman’s contact information and reached out to her. Truthfully, I expected her not to respond, but not only did she respond, she was so helpful in providing me access to the offprints of every journal article and report I asked for. So don’t ever be afraid to reach out to someone beyond your depth/league because you never know if the answer might be yes!


When starting a new project, do you tend to begin with an event or certain time during the war and create the characters to live it, or do you start with characters and then find their story?
The characters. I always glimpse the characters first and then explore them. What do they want most? Why? And what is in their way? Once I have a more focused view of that, I start to mine my historical timelines and see where that might best fit. With Chasing the Lion, it was incorporating the assassination of Caesar Domitian into my story. With Unseen Love, my Ancient Roman romance releasing next year, it was incorporating my blind heroine’s quest for a husband among the forbidden romance blooming with the hero, her guide slave. For them I chose incorporating the great fire under Caesar Nero as the historical event that would undergird their story.


What’s your favorite way to unwind and come back to the “real world” after you’ve been immersed in writing?
Between books I binge on a particular television series and pretty much watch entire seasons in days. And it is eclectic, ranging from Justice, Deadwood, Downton Abbey, to The Sopranos (current series) and an entire anime series once, Full Metal Alchemist. That and start a new campaign of Rome: Total War where I always, ALWAYS play as one of the Roman factions. Depending on how deep the emotional trauma ran to bring a particular story to the page, I will also whip out my coloring book and crayons. I enjoy coloring and find it relaxing.


What advice can you share with novice writers?
Study craft. Read outside your genre. Learn the “rules” and know why they are what they are so that when you break them, you know why you are doing so and can justify it for your story. Always have an answer to the question “why do you write?” and what your primary goal is for your work. Reevaluate both of those things periodically because the answer may change. Knowing why you write and what you want for your work makes all other writing-related decision making much easier.


Reading fiction can be a way to escape reality for a while, but those stories can still teach some valuable lessons. What points do you hope readers take away from your books?
Great question. When readers finish my book, my biggest goal is for them to feel it was time and money well spent. As I write, I allow the stories of my own life to infuse the work with honesty and depth, out of the deep places of my own past. But again and again I find from readers who write to me that the Lord uses different scenes or characters to impact them in different and often unique ways. That’s really been a special blessing to me to share in having been a part of that for my readers.


I can imagine how that would impact any author, and help you realize all the work and honesty really are worth it. Thanks so much for joining us this week – we’ve enjoyed getting to know you better!

And, visitors, don’t forget to answer Nancy’s question to earn your chance at a copy of Chasing the Lion (paperback, ebook, or audiobook forma – your choice!). Here’s her question for you again:

While I’m not the expert on gladiators that Dr. Kathleen Coleman or Andrew Wallace Hadrill are, ask me something about gladiators or their history. I’ll tell you what I know, and it might surprise you. Like it did me to learn rarely was a contest ever to the death.

Ask your question in the comments section and be sure to include your name and email address (spelling out ‘at’ and ‘dot’ to help cut down on spam, please). We’ll see you again tomorrow!


To learn more about Nancy and her books, visit her online:

  • Website: http://www.nancykimball.com
  • Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorNancyKimball
  • Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/Nancy_Kimball/ 
 


Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Let's visit with author Nancy Kimball!



This week we welcome Nancy Kimball as our spotlight author! Author, avid reader, and shameless hero addict, Nancy Kimball loves books, Ancient Rome, and all things gladiator. She is a two time American Christian Fiction Writers Genesis Contest Finalist, and former president of her local ACFW chapter, Writers on the Storm. She makes her home in Houston, Texas with one very spoiled pitbull mix named Eric T. and doesn’t understand the point of white crayons.



Nancy, welcome to Novel Pastimes! Can you share with us about your path to becoming a writer?
I was one of those kids who always had their face in a book and loved writing stories. College would eventually destroy this love of reading and writing, but thankfully it revived in 2010 when I participated in my first NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writers Month). I did make my fifty-thousand words in thirty days, though it would be nearly a year before I had a complete manuscript. I joined a writers group and pursued traditional publishing for the next three years, learning a lot about craft and making wonderful friendships along the way. In April of this year my team and I self/Indie published Chasing the Lion and have been blessed to see it embraced by readers of many genres.


Congratulations on the release of Chasing the Lion! Tell us a little about the story and your hero and heroine.
Thank you! Chasing the Lion is the story of a young Roman noble, Jonathan Tarquinius, who is betrayed into slavery and must fight to save the life of the woman he loves and free Rome from a tyrant Caesar. The true romance, in all its pain and beauty, is the Lord’s relentless pursuit of Jonathan. As part of that journey, another romance develops between Jonathan and Nessa, a slave-girl. They lead a cast of characters readers both love and love to hate (Caius anyone?), and I’m grateful to have been chosen to steward their story.


What drew you to writing about ancient Rome and gladiators? What’s your favorite thing about that time period?
The Ridley Scott film Gladiator with Russell Crowe has always been one of my favorites. My favorite computer game is ROME: Total War, so when I sat down to brainstorm a setting for my story, I knew that’s what I wanted to write about. The more I research that time and its rich history, the more I love it. My favorite thing about Ancient Rome is the lasting impact their culture has had on world history. There is a reason we still say all roads lead to Rome, and the Flavian Amphitheater (known today as the Colosseum) hosts more than 5 million visitors a year. I haven’t been yet, but a friend visited earlier this year and shared photos from his trip with me and my readers.


Oh yes, Russell Crowe and Gladiator make lots of us want to visit Ancient Rome. :-) Where did the idea for Chasing the Lion stem from?
When looking at the story of Joseph from the Bible, (one of my favorites) I asked myself what would have happened if Joseph hadn’t been steadfast in his faith. Would the Lord have relentlessly pursued him to bring him back to faith and still use him to change the future of a nation? Or would he have risen up another in his place?  So I brought that question into my love of gladiators and Ancient Rome, and it would become the foundation of the spiritual thread for Chasing the Lion.


You share on your website a great God-timing story about finding your cover models. It’s quite a story, but can you tell us some high points or things you learned from it?
That was quite a story! My main take away from that experience was you need to make a plan and work the plan, but be ready when God is doing something completely different. So what seems like a disaster in progress can end in something so far beyond your own expectations if you are tuned in to the Lord and open to following His lead. Even if it is into an unknown. This would happen with the narrator for my audiobook. It was an absolute God thing we were able to work together, and again, was above and beyond anything I could have done on my own just like my cover model.


What’s the most interesting (or unusual) thing you’ve done in the name of research for one of your books?
Visitors, come back tomorrow to read the great answer to this question and to learn more about Nancy and Chasing the Lion. Plus, answer her question here for your chance to win a copy of Chasing the Lion:

While I’m not the expert on gladiators that Dr. Kathleen Coleman or Andrew Wallace Hadrill are, ask me something about gladiators or their history. I’ll tell you what I know, and it might surprise you. Like it did me to learn rarely was a contest ever to the death.

Ask your question in the comments section and be sure to include your name and email address (spelling out ‘at’ and ‘dot’ to help cut down on spam, please). We’ll see you again tomorrow! 



Thursday, October 23, 2014

Review: The White Princess


The White Princess

The White Princess

By Philippa Gregory
Touchstone, April 2014 

About the Book

When Henry Tudor picks up the crown of England from the mud of Bosworth Field, he knows he must marry the princess of the enemy house—Elizabeth of York—to unify a country divided by war for nearly two decades.

But his bride is still in love with his slain enemy, Richard III—and her mother and half of England dream of a missing heir, sent into the unknown by the White Queen. While the new monarchy can win power, it cannot win hearts in an England that plots for the triumphant return of the House of York.

Henry’s greatest fear is that somewhere a prince is waiting to invade and reclaim the throne. When a young man who would be king leads his army to invade England, Elizabeth has to choose between the new husband she is coming to love and the boy who claims to be her beloved lost brother: the Rose of York, come home at last.

My Review

I love Philippa Gregory’s novels. So far every one that I’ve read has held my interest to the end. This one was a bit more challenging than others for some reason. It took me a lot longer to read than usual, despite the interruption in my life and routine that made reading anything challenging. I did identify with the heroine and loved how the story ended with the White Princess finally understanding what Queen Anne went through when she—Elizabeth, the White Princess—was the apple of King Richard’s eye. I liked how it tied to the other book, Lady of the Rivers, which I found very hard to put down.

The element of the missing York princes and the legend of what may have happened to them—which no one knows for sure—mingled with the curse Elizabeth made with her mother on whoever killed prince Richard, became a subtle, yet integral part of this novel. I loved that element of intrigue. Also, the fear and trepidation that Elizabeth’s husband went through as long as the people of England wanted to replace him with a York prince made this story tie into others I’ve read as well. I felt for Elizabeth and hurt for her being forced into a loveless marriage with a king who essentially raped her in the beginning. There was no love in their marriage, and if she had been anyone other than a York princess, the fate of being matched with the usurper, pretender Tudor king would not have taken place.

All in all, this was a good story about what it may have looked like during the time when the Tudor’s feared that their throne would be taken over by a York. The ending left me feeling a bit sad, and I agree that the guilt felt by the king was well-deserved. The coolest part is that the next segment of the story follows history. Arthur marries Kathryn of Aragon and dies, thus she is remarried to Henry, who becomes the famous Henry VIII, who is well known for his many wives and lack of a legitimate male heir, resulting in the Virgin Queen.

Healing Hearts . . . fiction making an impact on real lives

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Tamera Lynn Kraft's Search for History Part Two

Today we're delighted to welcome Tamera Lynn Kraft back to Novel PASTimes for the second part of her interview. Tamera has always loved adventures and writes Christian historical fiction set in America because there are so many adventures in American history. She is married to the love of her life, has two grown children, and lives in Akron, Ohio.


Tamera is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire For Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist. She has curriculum published and is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd.

Welcome back, Tamera. What was the greatest challenge in writing your books?


I suppose my greatest challenge is being accurate with historical detail. I am a stickler for researching my stories, but it seems no matter how much I research, there’s probably something that I’ll miss. I try to be okay with that, but I’m not.

What do you hope readers remember after your stories ends?

Even though my stories are historical, the emotions and turmoil the characters go through are every bit what we go through today. I hope that my readers see themselves through my characters and take away something that helps them in their everyday life.

Also my stories tend to be heart wrenching. I want my stories to grab hold of my readers, entice them into my story world, and not let them go until the last page. If I’ve done a good job, the story will stay with them long after that.

What surprised you most as you wrote your books?

I always find surprises when I’m researching my books. For instance, in A Christmas Promise, I was surprised to find out that the Moravians started many of our Christmas traditions back in the 1700s.

When I wrote Soldier’s Heart, I researched my hometown, a small town in Northeast Ohio, and was surprised to find out that Ravenna was once known for top of the line carriages and hearses and that Abraham Lincoln once stopped there to make a speech. I had grown up in Ravenna, and I didn’t know about either of these facts.

I never know what interest fact my research will turn up.

What’s next for you?

I keep writing and turning stories into my agent, Linda Glaz from Hartline. She is currently working to find a place for three of my stories. She’s as tenacious as I am when it comes to never giving up.

Do you participate in author book signings or events? Where can readers find you?

I do participate in book signings on occasion, usually near where I live in Akron, Ohio. My readers can also find me at these online sites.


What are you currently reading?

At the moment, I’m working to finish editing my newest novel. But I did recently finish reading Mary Ellis’ new Civil War novel called The Lady and the Officer. It was a great read. I also recently read a WW2 spy novel called With Music in their Hearts by Carole Brown. It will be out in November.

Which of your books would you love to see turned into a movie?

All of them. I can picture each one of them as a movie when I’m writing them. I even have the actors picked out to play the different characters. If a movie was made of one of my novels, it would be difficult to use my choices though. I love classic movies, so most of the actors I would choose are either too old or dead. For instance, A Christmas Promise would star Gregory Peck and Ingrid Bergman. A novel I recently wrote would star Humphrey Bogart and Audrey Hepburn. So if I ever do have one of my books made into a movie, I’ll have to leave the casting to someone else.

Thanks for interviewing me. I enjoyed it.

Thanks for being here!

Tamera is also giving away a copy of one of her books. To enter, please answer the following question in a comment: What favorite Christmas traditions do you use to celebrate every year?

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tamera Lynn Kraft's Search for History Part One

Today we're delighted to welcome Tamera Lynn Kraft to Novel PASTimes. Tamera has always loved adventures and writes Christian historical fiction set in America because there are so many adventures in American history. She is married to the love of her life, has two grown children, and lives in Akron, Ohio.

Tamera is the leader of a ministry called Revival Fire For Kids where she mentors other children’s leaders, teaches workshops, and is a children’s ministry consultant and children’s evangelist. She has curriculum published and is a recipient of the 2007 National Children’s Leaders Association Shepherd’s Cup for lifetime achievement in children’s ministry.
Welcome to PASTimes! Thanks for joining us and sharing a bit about your writing world. Tell us about your latest book.

A Christmas Promise is a Moravian Christmas story set in the wilderness of Ohio. In 1773, there were a band of missionaries and Lenape Indians celebrating Christmas at Schoenbrunn Village, the first settlement in Ohio. They’d come to this wilderness and started the village a year earlier to preach the Gospel to the Lenape, also known as the Deleware.

This is the setting for A Christmas Promise. John and Anna settle in this Ohio village to become Moravian missionaries to the Lenape. When John is called away to help at another settlement two days before Christmas, he promises he’ll be back by Christmas Day.

When he doesn’t show up, Anna works hard to not fear the worst while she provides her children with a traditional Moravian Christmas.
Through it all, she discovers a Christmas promise that will give her the peace she craves.

Tell us about your books. What drew you to write them?

My stories always come from interesting things I learn about history, usually American history. For instance, when I visited Schoenbrunn Village and found out about the missionaries that lived there, I wondered what their lives would be like. Did they ever worry about the dangers of raising their families in the wilderness among hostile tribes? That's how A Christmas Promise started.

Another novella that was published, Soldier’s Heart, came about when I read about the heroic Ohio Seventh regiment that lost most of their men in their last battle. I wondered what it would be like for a soldier returning home from the Civil War with PTSD after losing his men in a time where there were no treatments for it.

Another one of my stories that hasn’t been published yet is about a woman abolitionist who attends Oberlin College, the only college before the Civil War that allowed blacks and women. She returns home during break to confront her father who is a slave owner. I wrote that story after reading about the women who graduated from Oberlin and how they were involved in every social cause in the late 1800s including abolition. I started wondering what it would be like for an abolitionist to stand up to her family. It’s called Red Sky over America.


As long as there are interesting facts to read about in American history, I’ll never run out of story ideas.

Tamera will be back tomorrow to tell us more about her writing. She's also giving away a copy of one of her books. To enter, please answer the following question in a comment: What favorite Christmas traditions do you use to celebrate every year?

And be sure to come back tomorrow for the rest of this interview.