Friday, June 23, 2017

Author Interview with Stephenia H. McGee

I'm so excited to host another author interview on my blog!  I don't do these nearly as often as I would like and they are always so much fun!  Today, Stephenia H. McGee has graciously allowed me to pester her with questions and I can't wait for you all to get to know her, too!  So, without further ado, meet Ms. McGee!


Stephenia H. McGee is a wife, mother of two very active little boys, author, and lover of all things historical. Stephenia currently lives in Mississippi with her husband and sons where she writes stories of faith, redemption and life steeped in the South.







(I'm not going to try and pretend I didn't send these questions a couple weeks ago)
To start off, some questions about yourself:

Your bio says you have two little boys, who I’m sure keep you on your toes!  What is something you enjoy doing in your undoubtedly rare moments of spare time?
I do, and they are very active! Whenever I find a spare moment, I like to sneak out onto the screened in back porch with a book and read while lounging on the outdoor couch. That’s my quiet and relax time. I also have a beautiful claw-foot tub that I like to soak in while reading.
That sounds lovely!  I love reading outside every chance I get in the summer!

What are three words you would use to describe yourself?
Tenacious, creative, dreamer.

Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?
I’m highly introverted. Myers Briggs personality test said 89%. Maybe that’s why I spend so much time with the people on the page… =)
Haha!  I can't say much, seeing as how I spend so much time with fictional people.  :)

How do you juggle writing with two little ones demanding your attention?
It’s a lot easier now that I do this full time and they are in school. When they were younger, writing really only happened whenever they were down for a nap or playing with their daddy. Now that they are both in school, I am able to work from about 8 – 3 (except for the two hours a day I teach a fiction class at a local academy).
Wow!  That's actually a lot more time than I expected you would have!  So writing is basically a full time job for you!

When did you first discover a love for writing?
I wrote my first story from a first grade spelling list. It was from the perspective of a pig on the Mayflower.
That sounds like a great read!  Maybe you'll have to rewrite it some day.  ;)

What is your favorite genre to read?
That’s actually a really hard one. I read everything. The only genre that doesn’t grab me too much is science fiction. Obviously, I love historical fiction and read a lot of that. But I also read suspense, fantasy, contemporary, speculative, and anything else that snagged my attention.
I'm glad I'm not the only one with eclectic reading tastes!  I do have to agree about Sci-Fi - maybe we're just not finding the right books?

Do you have any go-to authors that you just have to read their books?
I read everything by Tamara Leigh and Brandon Sanderson as soon as it hits the shelf.
I LOVE Tamara Leigh's books!  I've not heard of Brandon Sanderson, though . . . another name to add to the list.  :)

Being that we’re chocolate people around here, I have to ask - what is your favorite kind of chocolate/way to eat chocolate?
I adore chocolate covered strawberries. My boys know that for my birthday, Mother’s Day (or anything else I can convince them of) that Momma’s favorite treat is chocolate covered strawberries.
I bummed this picture from Google - don't they look yummy?!  Now I want some!  This is obviously a terrible question.  ;)

Now to switch gears a little bit, some questions about your books/writing:

As someone who hasn’t had the pleasure of reading any of your books yet, (they’re in my ever-teetering TBR pile!) is there one you’d recommend I start with?
I have to be honest, In His Eyes is my favorite. It’s a stand-alone so it’s a good place to start if you are new to my books. But if you are looking for a series, then I’d go for The Whistle Walk, which has been my most popular.


This book is on my Kindle, waiting for me to find a few spare moments!  I can't wait to dive in!  Look for a review to come! 

In His Eyes back cover copy:

Her heart sought shelter. Her soul found home.

 
Ella Whitaker rescues a newborn from the dying arms of a woman of ill repute and at long last she has someone to love. In need of a wet nurse, she arrives at Belmont Plantation just as Federal soldiers demand to speak to the owner. Thinking quickly, Ella masquerades as a Yankee officer's widow in order to have a roof over her head and a home for the child. 


Major Westley Remington has dedicated his life to serving his country. The Civil War has divided his family, torn his thoughts of glory, and left him with a wound that may never heal. Westley returns home on medical furlough to settle his father's estate at Belmont Plantation, only to find his home is being run by a fiery and independent woman--one many believe to be his wife. Now he is faced with a conflict he's never been trained to fight, and one she has yet to conquer.


If you were just meeting me and I’d never heard of your books, what would you tell me about them?
My books are stories of faith, love, and life in the Deep South. They all currently take place in actual Mississippi plantation homes, all of which you could visit.
I'm intrigued!  Oh, Work, why must you cut into my reading time?



Your books all appear to have a strong Civil War theme - what drew you to this particular time period?  
This was a very tumultuous time in our history as a nation. There were (and still are) strong feelings associated with the war. It is during this time of hardship that a lot of women had to discover their inner strength, rely on God and sharpen their faith, and fight for love and the things they held dear. All of these elements made fertile ground for growing stories.
(I can't add anything to this)

I love the tagline for your new book, In His Eyes!  “Her heart sought shelter.  Her soul found home.  Sometimes it’s the deception that leads to the truth.”  It just makes me want to dive in and learn more!  Can you tell me about the inspiration for this story?
I prayed over the book for several months before I began to write it. I felt like I had a pretty clear theme for the story. This book was going to look at who we are. Who are we in our own eyes? In the eyes of others? Who are we really to God? Ella emerged first with her personality and struggles, and the rest of the story came quickly after.
Okay, I love this!  I personally don't know anyone who hasn't considered this question at one point or another in their lives!  I can't wait to find out where these questions (and their answers) take your characters!  Are we positive I have to go to work tomorrow?

Do you have inspiration photos for Ella and Westley? (if so, can I borrow them?)
I do have some for Westley. For Ella, I have something even better. I have behind the scenes pictures from the cover shoot with Taylor, the lovely model who plays Ella.





Okay, Westley is very nice to look at . . .(rummages for a fan) ;)
And I love the photos of you and "Ella"!  That's so cool, that you got to meet her!  And she makes wearing that dress look so effortless!  :)


What do you hope readers with take away from In His Eyes?
I think we all struggle with feelings of inadequacy at times. Sometimes we forget who we are and whose we are, and it can lead to all manner of insecurities. In In His Eyes, Ella struggles with these things as well. Writing this book was a journey for me, one where God gently led me to discover some important truths along with Ella, and He encouraged me to never forget that no matter what else goes on in life—good or bad—my identity is always grounded in Him. It’s my hope that there is a reader out there somewhere that He has the same message for and that this story can help point them toward Him.

What is one of the most unique/odd questions someone has asked you about being an author or your books? 
I once had a man at a big literary event tell me that he didn’t read “pablum” (a soft baby food) and asked me if I thought there was really a market for such stuff. Since he was referring to a group of female authors’ fiction (mostly romance, which we all know there is a rather large market for), none of us were really sure what to say to him.
Haha!  Well, that was rather awkward . . . and he sounds like a bit of a snob!  I hope he picks up one of your books one day and realizes how wrong he was! 

What are some ways your readers can support and encourage you, both personally and as an author?
It really means a lot when readers will leave a review. It doesn’t have to be long, just a line or two will do, but it really makes a difference. One of the biggest highlights of my career, though, is when readers will email me and tell me that one of my books touched, encouraged, or ministered to them in some way. That’s such a huge blessing, and I can’t even express how much it means to me. Things like that really encourage me on the days when writing is hard. I also have a faithful readers team on Facebook that will pray for me and encourage me throughout the journey of each book, and I’m very thankful for them.
I want everyone to take note that Stephenia just gave us all permission to bombard our favorite authors with fan mail!  Go forth and share your enjoyment of their stories with others through reviews and with them through emails, Facebook, or "snail mail"!

Is there a question you would’ve liked me to ask that I didn’t?
Nope. These are great questions! =) I would like to share a few links, though, if that’s ok.
Of course!  I love links and their helpfulness!  :)

For In His Eyes, here are the Amazon and Goodreads links:
And my website is www.StepheniaMcGee.com

Any closing comments?
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with me today! These were some great questions and I had a lot of fun.   

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my slew of questions, Stephenia!  I'm so glad you were free for an interview and I can wait to start your books! 








































Thursday, June 8, 2017

My Review: Weaver's Needle


Description:
Two recovery specialists.
One murder.
A hunt for the Dutchman's Lost Gold Mine becomes a race of survival.
 
Former Army MP Landry Parker fell into the recovery specialist role quite by accident—to help her ailing father. Now that she's on her own, she is determined to prove herself and honor her family legacy.

After being shot in the line of duty, former police officer Nickolai Baptiste became a recovery specialist, and hes good at his job—maybe even the best.
           
A potential client pits Landry and Nickolai against one another to find the Dutchman's Lost Gold Mine map that was stolen from her murdered husband, and the potential payday is too enticing to pass up. The trail takes them from New Orleans to Weaver's Needle in Arizona where legend claims the mine is hidden. Landry and Nickolai are no strangers to adventure, but the unlikely partners quickly discover there's someone after the treasure and there are those who want to ensure the lost mine in Arizona's Superstition Mountain stays lost forever.

Can Landry and Nickolai work together despite their distrust of each other to save the legend before more innocent lives are lost? Will they find the real treasure isn't the gold, but something more valuable. . .true love and understanding?


About the Author:
Robin Caroll's passion has always been to tell stories to entertain others and come alongside them on their faith journey—aspects she weaves into each of her 25 published novels. When she isn't writing, Robin spends quality time with her husband of twenty-six years, her three beautiful daughters, and two handsome grandsons, and their character-filled pets at home. Robin gives back to the writing community by serving as Executive Director/Conference Director for ACFW. Her books have finaled/placed in such contests as the Carol Award, Holt Medallion, Daphne du Maurier, RT Reviewer's Choice Award, Bookseller's Best, and Book of the Year.


My Review: 3.5 stars
“Weaver’s Needle” is the first book I’ve read from Robin Caroll in quite a while and I was so excited to get started!  I loved her “Evil” and “Justice Seekers” series and was super stoked to see she had a new book coming out, so of course, I had to read it!  I can happily say that I enjoyed this book, though I do confess that there were a couple things I might’ve liked done differently.

I really enjoyed Ms. Caroll’s writing and definitely the mystery aspect of the story.  I was very intrigued at the story line, two Recovery Specialists pitted against one another to find a missing map first and I appreciated how she wove the story, keeping me on my toes and guessing “whodunit.”  Though it’s more of a treasure hunt than a murder mystery, the two were so intertwined that they often overlapped and had me playing out the same scenarios as Landry and Nickolai, trying find motive and wondering who was attempting to force them off the case.  The story did seem a bit convoluted, with several rabbit trails and side trips in their search for answers.  I also found myself getting lost a time or two, trying to keep up with all of the names and how each person fit into their role.  There were also a couple things that were restated, as though the author had forgotten that she’d already brought up a topic, so it was mentioned again.  Despite that, I definitely enjoyed the mystery side of things and was right there with Landry and Nickolai, wanting to search for the mine and see the hunt to it’s conclusion.
The characters are usually my favorite part of any book, but in this case, I didn’t quite connect with them as well as I would’ve liked.  Landry Parker and Nickolai Baptiste are both interesting characters, but they sometimes felt almost secondary to the mystery.  And I’m not entirely sure about the overall time line, but I do have to add that their romance felt a bit rushed, with how quickly everything was happening.  It also seemed that something would happen, such as a fire or a car accident, and instead of following that up, the suspense would taper off and the story would move to their personal lives.  I appreciated that the author was working to build characters that I would care about, but at the same time, it caused a bit of a lag in the story and I didn’t find it holding my attention as well as I would’ve liked.

This story focuses around a Native American legend and discusses their beliefs quite a bit, something that I found both interesting and a little difficult to read at times.  Some of their rituals are described from the perspective of someone going through them and there is some debate regarding what they believe, verses Christianity, and the author chose to leave it as a bit of a gray area.  I can appreciate her tact regarding a different belief, but at the same time, part of the ending left me a bit uncomfortable with the whole thing.

Overall, this was an interesting read that dealt with some unique topics and is one I would recommend if you enjoy mystery and treasure hunts.

*I received a complimentary copy of this book from Barbour Publishing and was under no obligation to post a review.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read my review!  I hope you enjoyed it and will stop back again, soon!
As always, if you're interested in learning more about the book, links are below.  :)

Have a joy-filled day!








Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Interview with Kara Swanson


I just love this quote!!


I'm so excited for this interview!  I was given the pleasure of reading an advanced copy of The Girl Who Could See and let me just say - IT'S SO GOOD!  And no, I'm not getting paid anything to say that - it really and truly is!  I'll have my full review posted in about a month, but I read it in one sitting and afterward, kinda looked around like "I'm really still here?"  I felt like my world had shifted, but there I was, still sitting on the couch, like I had been for the 2 hours before that moment.  SO good!  Anyway, gushing aside, are you ready to get to know Ms. Kara Swanson a bit better?  Then proceed. :)

About Kara:
As the daughter of missionaries, Kara Swanson spent sixteen years of her young life in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate with characters dropped suddenly into a unique new world, she quickly fell in love with the speculative genre. At seventeen, she released a fantasy novel, Pearl of Merlydia. Her short story is included in Kathy Ide’s 21 Days of Joy: Stories that Celebrate Mom. She has published many articles, including one in the Encounter magazine, and she received the Mount Hermon Most Promising Teen Writer award in 2015.


I don't think I said so earlier, but this is a great photo of you, Kara!   
Now, to pester you with questions.  ;)


About yourself:

Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?
Extrovert, but I definitely still need quiet time to myself.

One word you would use to describe yourself?
Vivid. I want to live in a colorful, vibrant, genuine way.
 That's a beautiful description! 

Your favorite color?
PURPLE
Purple is pretty great.  And my sister's favorite color, too.  ;) 

Something quirky about yourself:
I raised eight wallabies (mini kangaroos) as the daughter of missionaries in the jungles of Papua New Guinea.
Okay, now I need pictures!  That sounds adorable!  Google, here I come . . . .


Look at the adorableness!   Awww!  Now I want one!  (photo saved from a Google search - all rights reserved)

We’re chocolate people around here, so what’s your favorite way to eat chocolate? (and if you say you don’t like it, then we might not be able to be friends . . . kidding . . . . mostly)
I LOVE chocolate. Anyway is great—especially in a bar, where I can just savor that untainted chocolate taste (with lots of sugar, of course).

With summer upon us, what’s one of your favorite summer activities?
Sitting out in the sun, the warmth cascading over my shoulders, reading my favorite book.
Oh, yeah!  I LOVE doing that!  It's like a bookworm's happy place, I think.  Either that or snuggled up with a blanket in a comfy chair. :) 

Your favorite genre to read?
Young Adult Speculative. (sci-fi, fantasy, etc)
I'm just recently getting into that genre, so I'm going to need some suggestions (as though my TBR pile isn't tall enough!). 

Do you have any go-to authors when you have a few minutes to just sit and read?
Yes! Mary Webber, Shannon Dittemore, James Patterson (LOVE his Maximum Ride series), Rick Riordan sometimes…
[adds those to her ever growing list]

What movie do you think you quote the most?
Its hard to say. I quote a lot of Marvel Movies…Princess Bride…Narnia/LOTR ☺
Yes!  It's obvious now - we're supposed to be best friends!  "Inconceivable!"  And the Marvel movies . . . . [sigh].  My post for Captain America says most of it, but I could probably manage another without running out of talking points.

When did you know writing was most than just a past-time or required school activity for you?
When I was 17 and I coauthored my first novel with a friend. I realized how much I loved it. Absolutely loved putting pen to paper and creating worlds! And I’ve been pretty much a goner since.

About your book:


I just love this cover!!  The first time I saw it, I was instantly intrigued and knew I had to read it!

What genre is The Girl Who Could See?
YA Urban Fantasy/Sci-Fi

If someone (me) asked you about your book, knowing nothing about it, how would you describe it?
It’s about a girl who has an imaginary friend who’s never left. Because she continually sees things that shouldn’t—can’t!—be there, the rest of the world thinks she’s crazy. Only, she’s not. She’s the only one who can truly see, and if she cannot find someone who will believe her “delusions” soon—the world will be destroyed. ☺
Oh, now see, I want to read it again!  Wanna guess what I'm doing with my afternoon? ;)

 What was your favorite part of writing The Girl Who Could See?
Hmmm probably writing scenes with Tristan, Fern’s imaginary friend. He’s this snarky warrior stud who is just so much fun to write. I also loved writing the very last scene of the book. You’ll have to read it and find out why!
Yes!  The last scene is wonderful!  I confess, I was really mad at you after what I thought was the last chapter, but it was all good after I realized I still had one more to go.  And who doesn't love Tristian?  Especially with that description?  

Your least favorite?
Having to rewrite large sections because the plot wasn’t explained enough. It was needed, but those scenes were just added details to make it flow better, and thus not very pivotal or fun to write.

Describe The Girl Who Could See with 3 adjectives:
Riveting, enchanting and dangerous.
I can vouch that those are very accurate descriptions!  

Do you have inspiration photos for Fern and Tristian?  
Yup! Here:

Fern Johnson


Tristian Hunter


Oh, that's a great photo for Tristian!  Captures him perfectly! 


I know this is probably an author’s most disliked question, but . . . . Do you have plans for another book?  After you survive the launch of this one, of course  ;)
Absolutely! I actually have about six novels just waiting to meet the world ☺ I’m not sure exactly which one will be first, and how it will come about, but you can definitely expect to see more from me!
YAY!!!!!!!

You’re in the midst of releasing this book and obviously promoting it, is there anything your readers can do to support you, other than buying the book?
REVIEWS! Reviews are SO helpful. Amazon, Goodreads…these help to sell the book and make the ranking higher J Also, talking about the novella on social media and recommending it to friends is always so appreciated, too! Thanks everyone J

Is there a question you would’ve liked me to ask that I didn’t?
Nope! These were amazing J

Yay!  Kara, thank you SO much for taking the time to hang out with me and letting me pester you with questions!  This has been a blast for me!  Since I think we're about done here, is there anything you'd like to add?
Thank you so much for having me, Sarah! <3 I so enjoyed the interview and love getting to spend time with you and any readers. Have a great day!
Thanks Kara, you too!  :)  And you'll have to come back, whenever your next book comes out, so I can gush over it and I can think up some new questions for you.

Find Kara on social media:
Online at www.karaswanson.com
Twitter: @kara_author


Thank you so much for everyone who took the time to hang out with us today and read this interview!  If you're now as intrigued as I was, there are links below (it's on sale right now for $2.99 on Amazon Kindle, just FYI.  Or free if you have the Kindle Unlimited thing)  and the back cover blurb.



Description:
All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—but, what if she is the only one who can truly see?
Fern Johnson is crazy. At least, that's what the doctors have claimed since her childhood. Now nineteen, and one step away from a psych ward, Fern struggles to survive in bustling Los Angeles. Desperate to appear normal, she represses the young man flickering at the edge of her awareness—a blond warrior only she can see.
Tristan was Fern's childhood imaginary hero, saving her from monsters under her bed and outside her walls. As she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into hers, however, it only caused catastrophe. But, when the city is rocked by the unexplainable, Fern is forced to consider the possibility that this young man is not a hallucination after all—and that the creature who decimated his world may be coming for hers.


Check it out on Amazon