Monday, August 3, 2015

Where Treasure Hides by Johnnie Alexander | New Novel News

Where Treasure Hides
by Johnnie Alexander

Print Released August 1, 2015
Tyndale House
Purchase: Where Treasure Hides

Gifted artist Alison Schuyler and British officer Ian Devlin fall in love on the eve of war. But Alison’s spurned Nazi suitor has his own plans for her future. Will Alison and Ian hold onto their love despite the forces against them, or is it their fate to be separated forever?

Get to know Johnnie...

What are the names of your pets?
Rugby is my little papillon, a tiny furball who can tree raccoons. I also have twelve alpaca: Sassy, Starr, Sunny, Autumn, Winter, Spring, Charro, Shelby, General, Merry, SJ, and Snow.

Which of your characters do you secretly have a crush on?
It’s a toss-up, but I’ll say Ian Devlin from Where Treasure Hides. He has a mischievous glint in his eyes and a heart-flipping grin.

What's your favorite chore?
I enjoy feeding and watering the alpaca each morning. It’s a great way to start the day.
On hot afternoons, I spray their legs with water. They love it!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

3 Elements of a GREAT Headshot

It's that time again. Writer's conferences are coming up and every author is a-buzz thinking about what classes they will take, what appointments they will make, and whether or not they want to make a headshot appointment. Oh wait, maybe I'm just thinking about that last one since I'll be doing photography at the Realm Makers Conference and the ACFW Conference ;-)

Either way, I love talking about photography and I thought it would be helpful to give a few tips to my writer friends about the elements of a GREAT headshot. Whether or not you're getting photos taken at the conference or elsewhere, think through these things.

3 Elements of a GREAT Headshot 

3) The Photo
This first part involves a few things: quality of the image, composition, and background.

Hire a professional. I know, I hear you. "But Emilie, they are expensive". All I'll say to that is check out this post.
A professional photographer will help position you, but it doesn't hurt to take a look at other images online to know what you like. It can be helpful to have a few close up shots as well as a few further away. If that's something you want, just communicate that to your photographer. Take a look at this Pinterest board for some great ideas.
Again, this should be something your photographer is looking out for, but don't feel constrained to make your background fit a specific style. I understand that, if you're a suspense author, you may want something a little more eerie, but it's not a requirement. I personally believe it's more important to have a great quality image than it is to have something that represents what you write.

2) Style
So you've decided to get a headshot done...what do you wear? That's a great question and I think you've got a few routes. Which route you take will depend on what image you want to portray.

Business Professional
This gives off the impression that you are a professional at whatever you do. It's great to have a professional look, but you may want to mix in a few "less professional" looking images that showcase some of your personality as well.

Business Casual
This tends to be the most common type of style for author photos. For ladies, a nice blouse, possibly a blazer, and a few accessories. For men, typically a button up without or without a jacket. It says "nice" but also relaxed.

Casual will vary depending on your definition. I think t-shirt and jeans. But, I say that and you can dress that combo up pretty nicely as well. I would just stay away from the casual that is "sweatshirt and ratty (not trendy) jeans" ;-)

A word about style: Think about your audience and your brand as well! For example, someone like Michael Hyatt has many different types of headshots/images that range in style between Business Professional to Business Casual. You could make the case there are some "casual" shots too (though I'm not sure if button up is really casual). The main reason I'm pointing him out is he knows his audience. He speaks to those hoping to reach into the business market and wants his headshots (and all images) to show that he's comfortable in that world. As a writer, consider who you're reaching out to. Who's your audience? What do you want them to see about you? What's your personal style? (Note: If it's sweats...maybe dress it up a bit tough ha!).

1) Personality
So, this is where the magic happens (in my photographers opinion). Sure, you can pull together all of the great elements of a photo combined with dressing up in some great clothes, but the person being photographed steals the stage every time. That's YOU.

The #1 thing you must convey in your headshot is your personality. I realize that it's just a picture and not a living representation of you, but (aside from meeting you in person) your headshot makes your first impression. Don't be scared though, a good photographer should be able to recognize a genuine smile vs a forced one. Don't make them do all the work though. Be sure to take time between photos to relax your smile, and when possible think of funny or amusing things to create a genuine smile.

So there you have it. The top 3 elements of a GREAT headshot (in my opinion). If you'd like to read more about headshots take a look at these posts about what you're saying with your headshot: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.

If you're attending Realm Makers (August 7-8) or the ACFW Conference (September 16-19) check out my website about details or getting an appointment with me! 

Friday, July 31, 2015

These Are the Times that Try Men's Souls by Sandra Merville Hart | Guest Post

Thomas Paine, personal assistant to General Nathanael Greene, scanned the faces of his companions in the Continental Army on a cold day in December, 1776. The soldiers faced difficulties worse than separation from families and harsh winter conditions. The men were disheartened. How could an army one quarter the size of the British forces win freedom?

Paine understood their discouragement. Three thousand Colonial soldiers bravely stood their ground against a foe of thirteen thousand outside the fort at Washington Heights (Manhattan) until the British threatened them with cannons. One hundred forty-nine Colonial soldiers were killed or wounded. Over twenty-eight hundred at the fort surrendered. The Colonial Army also abandoned another fort, Fort Lee, in New Jersey.

Thomas Paine (From Wikipedia)
To make matters worse, General Howe's British troops pursued General Washington's retreating army across New Jersey. The soldiers marched through the colony for sixteen days until they reached safety across the Delaware River.

The loss of three thousand soldiers struck the struggling army a difficult blow. New York City and all of New Jersey were under British control. Eleven thousand colonial soldiers gave up and returned home between September and December. Army contracts expired on December 31st.

Paine remembered the impact of his pamphlet, Common Sense. His words, published earlier that year in January, had been read by thousands. His writing somehow resonated with people in all walks of life.

All thirteen colonies must know of the recent British victories. Paine imagined those at home felt discouragement similar to the soldiers. After he pondered the situation, he sat down to pen these words:

These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly.

The American Crisis went to the heart of the problem from these beginning lines. The Pennsylvania Journal published Paine's work on December 19, 1776.
Washington Monument

General Washington commanded the pamphlet to be read to his discouraged men. Paine's stirring words revived hope within their souls at a crucial moment. The results encouraged Washington. His plan for Christmas Day must succeed though he kept the details from his soldiers.

Regiments began assembling at specific crossing points along the Delaware River late in the afternoon of December 25th. Temperatures dropped causing the snow-covered ground to feel even colder.

Washington didn't want delays because after the troops crossed the icy river, they must march to Trenton, New Jersey for a surprise pre-dawn attack on the Hessian soldiers.

Unfortunately some soldiers arrived late to their designated areas. Snow, hail, sleet, and rain hindered their crossing. They contended with ice jams on the river. Dark, stormy skies made navigation difficult.

All this affected Washington's careful timetable. He almost abandoned the plan when faced with a three-hour delay. He trudged on.

Washington's surprise attack worked. The Continental Army won their first major victory.

Would the results have been same without Paine's passionate plea to stay the course? With all the obstacles that had to be overcome on that freezing Christmas Day and everything that led up to it, this author doesn't believe so.

Do our words matter?

You decide.


Sandra Merville Hart loves to find unusual facts in her historical research to use in her stories. She and her husband enjoy traveling to many of the sites in her books to explore the history. She serves as Assistant Editor for and contributes articles about history and holidays. She has written for several publications and websites including The Secret Place, Harpstring, Splickety Magazine, Pockets Magazine, and Her inspirational Civil War novella, A Stranger on My Land, released on August 21, 2014.

 A Stranger On My Land
Carrie and her little brother, Jay, find Adam, a wounded Union soldier, on their land after a battle near their Lookout Mountain home. Carrie takes Adam to the cave where her family has been hiding from the soldiers. Before long, she falls in love with him, but she can't save his life. He requires a surgeon. Carrie weighs the potential danger of revealing her family's hideaway with saving Adam's life.
Connect with Sandra...

Blog (contributor):  
Purchase: A Stranger On My Land

  • "Crossing of the Delaware," George Washington's Mount Vernon, 2015/07/27 
  • "Ft. Washington Captured - Washington Retreats through N.J -1776," HistoryCentral, 2015/07/27 
  • Paine, Thomas. "The Crisis," 2015/07/24 
  • "Thomas Paine," 2015/07/24 
  • "Thomas Paine Publishes American Crisis,", 2015/07/28

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Cathy Elliott {Writer Wednesday} + GIVEAWAY

Get to know Cathy...

Cathy Elliott is a full-time writer in northern California whose cozy mysteries reflect her personal interests from quilting and antique collecting to playing her fiddle with friends. She also leads music at church and cherishes time with her grandchildren. Cathy’s other plot-twisting works include Medals in the Attic and A Stitch in Crime.

Connect with Cathy...

--> Website & Occasional Blog:
Facebook: Author Cathy Elliott
Purchase: A Vase of Mistaken Identity

Author Interview | Cathy Elliott

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...Since high school, I wanted to be a writer, something I kept to myself. When my first book was published, a friend congratulated me, saying she knew I’d always wanted to write. What? Did I say that out loud?

...But it must have been obvious. I’d spent years reading books about writing, The Writer Magazine, taking an occasional writer class, attending author lectures, etc. Since I worked in a college library, all the new releases on the subject passed right by me. First. So, dedicating myself to the craft was my destiny. My happy ending.

...I keep writing because it gives me joy. Having books and articles published is the lovely by-product of the journey. But I write because I love to put those words on the page. And I love the writer community.

What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?
...After having three books traditionally published, that is a still hard question to answer. It’s all hard and all delightful. Most folks dislike the waiting, especially these days when they can just skip sending out a proposal and hoping for a sale by self-publishing their own books. Typically, we don’t like to wait for an editor to take a look or make a decision. I think that is hardest for most folks – but easier for me because I don’t mind waiting. In fact, I rather like my time in the waiting room. That’s where expectation & anticipation live.

Your Writing

Do you have a favorite character in this book? If so, why?
...A Vase of Mistaken Identity is the first of two of my books about amateur sleuth, Thea James, and the small town of Larkindale. I love Thea. But I cannot help but favor her grandmother, Gram, a British war bride with her bumbling ways. She is always “accidentally” spilling out Thea’s secrets. It’s great fun! 

A Vase of Mistaken Identity

Murder in Larkindale?

Thea James, proprietress of James & Company Antique Emporium, never thought murder would come to her small, surviving Gold Rush town of Larkindale. But when the Larkindale Lamplight reports the discovery of a body during the renovation of Larkin Lake Resort, Thea is caught up in the mystery.

Her world is further frenzied when she acquires a vintage vase from the town’s only homeless person. Thea finds a puzzling list tucked inside with four names written in a faded scrawl: two childhood friends from a summer camp, her sister Rosie, and . . . herself!

When the first woman on the list ends up in a coma and another mysteriously disappears, Thea knows she must save herself and her sister from harm. Her attempt to eliminate the vicious threat on their lives propels Thea to places she never wanted to visit.

Will she discover the connection before tragedy strikes?

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...Most are a fictionalized combo of both – based on someone I know and also spun out of my imagination. Occasionally, a character may be based on pure fantasy, unlike anyone I’ve ever met. But usually, characters are reality-based with imaginary traits.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I so admire the high purpose of many books and struggled for a time to find one for mine, as well. Then I received a letter from one reader who’d been given my book to read in the hospital during a chemo drip. It had helped transport her to another place, away from something hard for a time. I decided that providing a little mental vacation amid a difficult day was a good enough reason to write.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...No matter what the path – traditional publishing or self-publishing or another way - I would encourage every author to write for excellence over publication. Let good writing be your goal. Write the book of your heart, take the time you need, set your standard high, and in the end, you’ll have something to be proud of, no matter the publication path.


Do you enjoy hot weather or cold better? 
...Hands down, cool weather. Maybe it’s getting older or something, but I never complain in the winter, even if it is a teeth-chattering, frigid day. I’m silent about rain, sleet, or snow. Low temps are always welcome. But June, July, and August, my mood revolves around the weather. Is today over 100 degrees? Is it humid? Oh, no! Sadly, I whine all summer long.

...Hey, that’s not a very good way to end, is it? Let me say my “heat impairment” has increased my empathy for others who suffer the same way. I can really relate! (Better?)

...Thanks, Emilie, for hosting me. I hope one of your readers will enjoy winning a copy of A Vase of Mistaken Identity, rereleased in January 2015, with a cheerful new cozy cover. I’m so pleased to give it life again!

Thanks so much for visiting Thinking Thoughts today! I love that you mention the writer community as reasons you've continued writing. I just love the writer community as well and have met so many amazing friends (online and in person). Props to you for not minding the waiting time! I find I'm terribly impatient at times ;) And I love your answer to why you write - I think there is nothing better than transporting a reader elsewhere! Thanks again Cathy and readers, make sure you leave a comment to enter to win this deadly book - it's simply purrfect, don't you think? (Ok, sorry for the puns but I couldn't help it!)


It was awesome to have Mike on the blog last week sharing about Centralia. He graciously has offered 2 books for this giveaway which means 2 winners (of course). 

I'm excited to wish congratulations to...

Shane Werlinger & Kris Hughe

Please contact me using the form on the sidebar so we can get you your books!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Love In Mistletoe Springs with Ginger Solomon | New Novel News

Love In Mistletoe Springs
with Ginger Solomon

Published July 4, 2015
Indie Published
Purchase: Love In Mistletoe Springs

The Mistletoe Springs animal shelter loses their grant, endangering the lives of countless stray dogs, cats, even birds and turtles. The community attempts to save the shelter by running a Christmas in July fundraiser. Groups of volunteers scramble to get all the details together while managing their personal lives. For ten people, love gets in the way.

Get to know Ginger...

What are the names of your pets?
We have two dogs, a cat, and a bunny. Zorro is my blue-merle miniature Australian shepherd. Midnight is our black lab/mix. Peeta is the cat—a gray tabby. Sam is the bunny—a nice gender neutral name since we don’t know if it’s a he or she. :)

What's one chore you hate doing?
I only get one? Well, if you insist. I hate cooking. I have to do it nearly every day for a mostly uncertain number of people—anywhere from four to nine, which makes it difficult. I spend as little time in the kitchen preparing meals as possible.

Favorite dessert? 
A banana split. I just love all the flavors: chocolate, vanilla, bananas, strawberry sauce, pineapple sauce, hot fudge, whipped cream, and the cherry (more than one if I can get away with it). All of it together just sends my taste buds soaring and my blood sugar. J I don’t indulge often because of the caloric content. I am over forty—shhh, don’t tell—and it takes a little longer to burn those extra calories.

 In case you missed it, I featured Love In Mistletoe Springs on my recent blog post featuring some GREAT eBook deals! Right now it's only $0.99 - you can't beat that

Woohoo! We've got a winner for Anita Higman's Summer's List...

Congrats to: Terrill Rosado
*Contact me using the form to the side so we can arrange to get you your book!

But don't forget friends - there is still a chane to enter to win one of 2 copies of Mike Dellosso's book Centralia. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Keep An Eye Out | Great Deals on Kindle Books

Hello, my dear readers! So, I just thought I'd do something fun today because I know some authors who are having sales this week as well as some eBooks that are a great deal and they are by people you SHOULD be me!

P.S. All prices shown here were accurate when I posted this, but they are subject to change by will of the publisher, author, or price-gods ;)

by Mike Dellosso

Yep, Mike was on the blog this week but his book Centralia is on sale in eBook format for $2.99

{And there's still time to enter to leave a comment for him on his post - he's giving away 2 copies!}

In Between 
by Jenny B. Jones

The Cactus Creek Challenge
by Erica Vetsch

$3.99 on Kindle
Chasing Amanda
by Robin Patchen

What A Girl Needs: An Ashley Stockingdale Novel
by Kristin Billerbeck

$4.99 on Kindle
To Mend A Dream
by Tamera Alexander

Three Little Words
by Melissa Tagg

FREE on Kindle
 A Lady of Esteem
by Kristi Ann Hunter

I Hope You Dance
by Robin Lee Hatcher

$3.99 on Kindle

The Wedding Chapel
by Rachel Hauck

by Ronie Kendig

$7.99 on Kindle

Operation Zulu | Beginning
by Ronie Kendig

More Than This 
by Staci Stallings

Good Enough for A Princess
by Carol Moncado

FREE on Kindle

The Curse of Crow Hollow
by Billy Coffee 

A Cast of Stones
By Patrick W. Carr

Rules of Murder
by Julianna Deering
 Courting Miss Amsel
by Kim Vogel Sawyer

Take and Give
by Amanda G. Stevens

Pre-Order for $3.03

The Isaac Project
by Sarah Monzon

Love in Mistletoe Springs
by Lee Carver, Kimberly Rose Johnson, Lee Tobin McClain, Gail Sattler, Ginger Solomon

The Hesitant Heiress
by Dawn Crandal

Sailing in Style
by Dana Mentink

$4.99 on Kindle

Truth or Dare
by Denise Hunter

$0.99 on Kindle

All for Anna
by Nicole Deese

The Ryn | Eyes of E'Veria
by Serena Chase

$3.99 on Kindle

I decided to do this post of my own volition. I haven't read all of these, but I love sharing a good deal! And, as noted on my "About" page, I am an affiliate with Amazon and for some purchase links provided, I will receive a portion of the sale. This does not affect your purchase price in any way.