Shannon Dittemore
  • Guest Blogger
  • November29th

    44 Comments

    32authorSmall-iPadminiYou’re here! You’ve made it to stop #19 on the #32AuthorHunt! I hope you’re enjoying yourself and entering to win lots of prizes.

    Here’s how it works: Collect the clues at the bottom of each post, beginning from Stop #1. Once they’re all collected they’ll form a phrase. Simply fill out the Rafflecopter form at the last stop and you’re all entered to win an iPad Mini and 32 books, one from each author on the hunt! This hunt is open to the US only. Sorry, international readers.

    If you’ve missed a stop, are starting here, or if you have completed the hunt and are ready to enter the entire phrase to win, head on over HERE.

    I have the privilege of introducing you to author, Kerry Nietz. His newest book, Amish Vampires In Space, made quite a splash a few months ago and I think you’ll enjoy reading his thoughts on the whole thing.

    Kerry Nietz - Amish Vampires in Space - Book CoverHere goes!

    Okay, Kerry, before we go any further: Amish Vampires in Space? What is that about?

    What, you want me to give you the plot?

    No, I mean, that seems crazy. Why on Earth would you write such a thing? And who published it?

    Well, it doesn’t take place on Earth—

    You know what I mean.

    Right, I know what you’re getting at.

    The story’s genesis goes back a couple years. Amish novels were all the rage, and my publisher, Jeff Gerke, sent out a mock cover to the Marcher Lord Press authors. An obvious spoof. It featured a bonneted female vampire with some Amish paraphernalia behind her. Also behind her was a large window with a view of an orange planet. Enough to make it clear that the setting was in space. The novel’s title was Vein Pursuit and it was part of the Amish Vampires in Space series. Jeff said it was the ultimate speculative novel! A genre crossover that was sure to be a hit. He shared the joke at writing conferences he attended, as well.

    ASCSwithEmblemA year or so passed, and at one point I told him that someone should write that Amish Vampire in Space book. I didn’t think it was me, because I tend toward hard science fiction, and the title screams: Camp! Plus, I had a trilogy of my own to finish. (The DarkTrench trilogy, which started with the award-winning A Star Curiously Singing.)

    Then last year I got this idea about how it all might work, and not be campy. A theme emerged along with a couple key characters, so I started writing. Before I knew it, I was 30,000 words in. I emailed Jeff to tell him what I was doing. When he stopped laughing, he encouraged me to continue. I finished last June and sent it to him. He liked what he read, so went through the editing process.

    Amish Vampires in Space was published in October 1st of this year.

    Wow, so you essentially took a joke title and ran with it.

    Pretty much. A joke title that turned into 135,000 words of story.

    Sounds hefty.

    I’d avoid dropping it on your foot, but it really isn’t that big. The print version is just over 600 pages, but there’s lots of bonus material in there. Samples of other great Marcher Lord Press stories—three in the print version, six in the eBook!

    The story itself is around 500 pages.

    Huh. So was it fun to write? Any big challenges?

    It was great fun to write. A speculative novelist’s playground! Plus the characters really drove the plot. They just started showing up on the page and took over. AViS is my longest book, but it felt like it could’ve been much longer if I hadn’t reined the characters in a little.

    The biggest challenges were a) creating authentic Amish characters, and b) contriving plausible science fiction vampires. I had some help with the first one, in the form of a friend who’s an Amish romance writer.

    I was pretty much on my own with the second….but not really. God is always gracious to me when I’m doing research. Providing just the right science or intriguing idea when I need it.  It is a difficult process to describe, but it has happened with all my sci-fi books. It is typically like “Well, Lord, I’ve written myself into a corner here…whoa, oh wait, this will work. Thanks!”

    So you have other science fiction books. Do those mock other cultures as well?

    Hold on, let’s get one thing straight:  My intent in writing Amish Vampires in Space wasn’t to mock the Amish at all. To me the whole scenario seemed more interesting if everything was played straight—including the Amish and their culture.

    MaskCoverTo that end, I asked my Amish fiction writing friend to read the completed manuscript. He had lots of good suggestions to make the Amish portion more authentic, but he didn’t find my portrayal exploitative. At least, no more so than the scores of Amish novels that are already out there. And in some ways my portrayal might be more genuine, because I don’t overly glamorize the culture either. I tried to write them like any other free willed people: capable of both good and evil.

    I often explore other cultures in my books, though. My DarkTrench trilogy speculates a world under sharia (Islamic) law. Those books center around this techno-slave named Sandfly. He has an implant in his head to help him connect to the future version of the internet, but it also controls his behavior. Again, the intent wasn’t to exploit or demean, but to extrapolate a future that some in that culture would like to see happen. (Just search for “caliphate” to see what I mean.)

    I also have a book entitled Mask that examines a slice of American culture. More specifically, the idea that everything is up for a vote, including sometimes what is considered “good” and “evil.”

    Sounds like you’ve written a fair amount of words.

    I have over 560,000 words in print now. Hard for me to believe. I’m actually sort of shy.

    Hmm…me too. So what advice do you have for aspiring authors?

    Start early. You might get published before you die.

    What?

    LOL. That’s something an elderly author once told me on a plane. We happened to be sitting next to each other on a flight from Detroit to Seattle. (I worked at Microsoft at the time.) When he told me he was a writer I said that I always wanted to write.

    “Start early,” he said. “You might get published before you die.”

    That’s good advice for any dream, actually: Start early, you might accomplish it before you die.

    Kerry Nietz_Author PhotoYeah, that’s something to think about. Thanks for sharing.

    Welcome. And now I want to say “our books”.

    What?

    That’s the clue for the scavenger hunt folks. Write this down before you move on: our books.

    Right. Is there anything else you want to say?

    Sure, my website is www.kerrynietz.com. I have an author page on Facebook, as well. Please check them out, and buy my books!

    Isn’t Kerry a riot! I hope you enjoyed his interview as much as I did. Be sure to tell him so in the comments here and check out his books.

    BEFORE YOU GO, write down the Stop #19 clue:

    our books

    Your NEXT STOP is Kerry’s very own website.

    33authorHunt-nextStop

    *BONUS PRIZE! If you’d like to win a book from my Angel Eyes trilogy (winner’s choice), leave a comment here about Kerry’s interview. I’ll announce the winner at the conclusion of the scavenger hunt.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  • October17th

    296 Comments

    250scavengerhunt

    This is my first scavenger hunt, you guys, and I’m stoked! So many fabulous authors are taking part. The hunt begins Friday, 10/18 at noon (Mountain Time) and ends on Sunday, 10/20 at midnight. You have oodles of time to visit the 25 stops, so enjoy the trek, okay? This is a fabulous way to discover new authors and their novels.

    Here’s how it works: Collect the clues in RED on each post, beginning from Stop #1 and finishing at Stop #25, then fill out the Rafflecopter form at Stop #26, back at Lisa’s site.

    So what are you playing for? Glad you asked! The grand prize is a fancy shmancy iPad Mini! *crowd goes wild* Our second and third place winners will receive a hard copy of every book on the hunt. That’s 25 books, worth over $300. And yes! The contest is open internationally. So, let’s get started!

     MaryLu TyndallMLtyndall-Headshot

    Please help me welcome my lovely guest, MaryLu Tyndall. MaryLu describes herself as an introvert, patriot, mother of six, the neighborhood cat-lady, tall ship enthusiast, friend of pirates and mermaids, obsessive compulsive control freak, history lover, hopeless romantic, and a sword wielding princess-warrior of the King of Kings. Oh yea, and she also writes novels! You can find MaryLu at http://www.marylutyndall.com

    It’s such a privilege to have MaryLu with us today. Her books are immensely popular and have inspired many. Her newest is titled Elusive Hope. Isn’t that a gorgeous title? Here’s a little more about the book:

    In a colony named New Hope, while their friends are seeking a Southern utopia. . . .
    Elusive HopeCoverHayden is seeking revenge. Relentlessly.
    After years of all but selling his soul to track down his scoundrel of a father, Hayden Gale discovers his search must continue in South America, where his father is reported to be helping colonize Brazil. Hayden has nothing more to lose, certainly not a good reputation, and vows to keep pursuing–at any cost–the vile man who he believes killed his mother.
    Magnolia is seeking a way out. Desperately.
    She’s in the jungles of Brazil against her will, but what choice does Magnolia Scott have? Her father insisted on uprooting their family to escape the uncertainty of Southern life after the Civil War. But how will she survive without all she holds dear—wealthy suitors, beautiful clothes, summer balls, and slaves waiting on her every whim? She vows to find a way to get back home—and attaches herself to handsome Hayden Gale.
    As they journey toward Rio de Janeiro, they both seek to use the other for their own purposes. Deceptively. Falling in love was never part of their plans. . . .

     

    Here’s MaryLu now, sharing some thoughts with us inspired by this captivating story.

     

    Would You Want to Peek in a Mirror that Reflected Your True Character?

    by MaryLu Tyndall

    We humans are quite obsessed with our appearance, aren’t we?  We scrub and clean and soften and stretch and pull and tone. We get our nails done, our hair done, our face done. We primp and polish and preen. We buy the latest fashions and makeup. Sometimes I wonder what is it all for? Especially when I notice my body aging anyway!

    Yet societies throughout the ages have always elevated human beauty above most every other attribute. It’s quite baffling since outward beauty is the one thing we humans have the least control over. Yes, we can dress nice and put on makeup, but we can’t truly change the way we look. (Unless you have tons of money and a good plastic surgeon!) Regardless, we are either born beautiful or we aren’t.

    The heroine in my new release, Elusive Hope, is a very beautiful woman. With long hair the color of sunshine, eyes as blue as sapphires, and a figure to put Helen of Troy to shame, Magnolia Scott never lacked suitors vying for her hand.  Trouble was, since she was a little girl, that’s all she was valued for. Her father considers Magnolia his ticket to recover the fortune stolen from him in the Civil War. With her good looks, the family can procure an excellent match with a wealthy gentleman.  So, not only do her parents focus entirely on her beauty, Magnolia grows up believing her appearance is her sole value. She spends her days enhancing her outside while neglecting her character and heart.WomanwithMirror

    But then an angel gives her a mirror. Not just any mirror, but a mirror that gives her a glimpse past her body and into her soul and spirit.  And she is horrified at what she sees!

    Her story got me to thinking, what would I look like in such a mirror? How beautiful is my spirit and soul or is it old and wrinkled and ugly like Magnolia’s was in the story?  Would I be pleased with the appearance of my spirit?

    monsterI believe before we submit to God and invite His Spirit to live within us, our spirits look something like this grotesque creature to my right. But once God sets up shop within us and He starts to work, we begin to change. It’s a slow process, but as we submit to His gentle blade, a cut here, a twist there, we start to look a lot better.  Magnolia found this out the hard way, yet once she realized it, she began to allow God to work on that image in the mirror!

    In the end when we shed this old body, it is only our spirit and soul that will remain. What we end up looking like is up to us. Will we shine like the stars in heaven? Or will we be dark and lumpy?

    I don’t know about you, but I’d love to have a special mirror like Magnolia’s so I could check on my progress daily!

    You can find Elusive Hope at the following retailers:

    Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Christian Book | Deeper Shopping

     

    The Scavenger Hunt Skinny

    Before you go, write down the Stop #8 clue:

    genres–

    Your NEXT STOP is MaryLu Tyndall’s very own website.

    *BONUS PRIZE! If you’d like to win a book from my Angel Eyes trilogy (winner’s choice), be sure to leave a comment here about MaryLu’s upcoming book or her inspiring post. I’ll announce the winner at the conclusion of the scavenger hunt.

    a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  • June29th

    3 Comments

    Once again, I have the honor of presenting a guest blogger. Please welcome Marni Arnold. When I read that her blog, Relevant Brokenness, exists to tell others that “brokenness isn’t a weakness, it’s an opportunity to allow God to put the pieces of your broken heart, mind, and life back together,” I knew she’d have something worthwhile to add to our discussion here on brokenness.

    Looking back upon my life, I see a trail of moments where I’m utterly disappointed in myself over.

    o Moments where I could’ve done things differently.

    o Moments where I could’ve thought about things, or people, differently.

    o Moments where I could’ve been more grateful for the moments I’ve had in a period of my life

    A life lived deep in regret, I’ve learned, keeps you far from the fulfilled life; and gets you nowhere fast.

    Upon speaking with my mother recently, I noticed a re-occurring theme in her life that is has mirrored my own life for far too long – unThankfulness. A life buried deep in regret of what hasn’t been accomplished, and still desires to be fulfilled.

    I’m not going to get into gory detail of what my mother has done, or hasn’t done, but I can tell you this much – she is despaired over where her life is at. Disabled and prone to illness as easily as one breathes; and I can tell she is utterly dissatisfied with her life in how it has turned out.

    Anger toward God exudes through her very pores, and seeps through the very utterings of her tongue in bitterness and harshness. It ails my heart for my mother, and for myself; for I have recently realized I’ve mirrored this very behavior many times over in my own life.

    Recently engrossing myself in Ann Voskamp’s, “One Thousand Gifts”, I’ve begun to see the error of my own ways in duplicating a life of unThankfulness.

    A thankless life to the gift-giver Himself, God, creates embitterment that leads to a despondent life that decays the core of who one was created to truly be.

    Being prone to depression myself, and deeply experienced it after the birth of my own son, it’s easy to live a thankless life. It’s a dark world that is lived in past regrets, bringing them to the forefront of your mind where it lies to you that you’ll never amount to much more than you already have in pain. That your life is worth nothing more than pain itself – so there is no use in trying.

    I’ve lived in the dank, stagnant, wretched area for so long – and a breath of fresh air has recently entered my soul reminding me that small moments of my life matter.

    From the speck of light that peeks in through the curtains to wake me up out of my slumber, to the crumbs left on our son’s chair after enjoying a graham cracker in a chipmunk-like fashion, to watching my husband relax on the couch after a hard day’s work – always open armed to embrace myself or our son; or to show endearment for a feline companion.

    These are all gifts, beautiful gifts, that are easily over-looked (especially in moments of depression). Darkness can hide the beauty of God in your life; therefore, the gifts He has to offer must intentionally be sought out with passionate fervor.

    I’ve lived the thankless life, as I’ve been so easily taught how to do through an example from someone I never expected to learn this from. Yet, because He is such the redeemer that He is…I am finding freedom in the smallest of moments (even washing the dishes by hand now), because I’m intentionally seeking the gifts He gives to me on a moment by moment basis.

    It’s bittersweet to look upon the ones you love, and know they’ve not been the best example to you. From this, it’s easy to become embittered with them – yet, even in the moments of recognizing the poor examples of others through their lived out lives, these too are gifts. These are blessings that should be counted, for without them – we’d never know the very things we need to change in our own lives.

    I thank God for my mother. She may not completely understand that, especially at times when we have space between us – but I do thank God for her. Even in all the hurt I have experienced with her, and through her example in my life – I count her as a gift. For I would’ve never known to…

    o …love the way I love, without her .
    o …embrace the best out of the worst, without her.
    o …thank God for my life, and every moment of it, even when in moments it can seem to be so lonely, without her.

    Life is but a strung together series of moments that is shorter than we realize.

    Our breaths are numbered, our days counted…and we have but one choice concerning enjoying it to it’s fullest. Give thanks in all things…even the despairing moments.

    Thankfully…to God…I’ve chosen to start giving thanks, and choose to continue to give thanks even when it gets dark.

    ———————–
    Blog: http://relevantbrokenness.com
    Twitter: @marniarnold
    Email: marni@relevantbrokenness.com
    Facebook: http://facebook.com/marniarnold
    Vimeo: http://vimeo.com/marniarnold

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  • June18th

    7 Comments

    It is my pleasure to introduce you to my very first Guest Blogger, Karen Daly Cook. I met Karen through a friend and quickly fell in love with her passion to help the broken. Karen describes herself as a therapist-in-training but I guarantee you’ll get so much more than that when you visit her blog, The Couch.

    It was a typical summer day and I was seven years old. Skinny, quiet and afraid…I knew what awaited me and yet I lacked the ability to control my own fate.

    I was laying on my big four – poster bed. Through the open window I could hear kids playing outside and wished that I could join them, but that was not my decision to make and I knew better than to fight it.

    I could feel the cool sheets under me as the breeze fluttered around me gently sweeping over my skin and through my hair.

    I think it is this moment of tenderness and peace amidst the dread that stands out in my memory the most.

    From my place on the bed, I watched the breeze blowing the curtains as if watching a TV show. The curtains floated with ease and grace as they danced with the wind creating intriguing shadows with the afternoon sun.

    Warm summer winds filled my room with the sweet smell of freshly cut grass along with the lingering scent of fabric softener on my pillowcase.

    These sweet aromas were a stark contrast to the putrid smell of sweat, hot breath and angry words.

    As I lay there with veiled tears and body numbing pain, I would retreat to a place where no one could hurt me.

    In my imagination I would fill my room from floor to ceiling, using up every molecule of empty space in my room. I would stack beds, dressers, desks, lamps, bookshelves, bicycles and anything I could think of to pack every conceivable pocket of vacant space in my room to keep the monster away from me.

    This was the game I played in my mind to protect my heart and soul from the devastation that was being done to my body.

    I felt broken, dirty, damaged, lost and ashamed.

    As I attempted to fill the spaces in between, I was unaware that there was another force at work in my life and this force was God.

    It would be many years before I would come to know God and begin a relationship with Him, but I see how He protected me, provided for me and prepared me for life in Christ.

    As I look back at that part of my life, I see God’s fingerprints all over my life. It is not the life I would have chosen but knowing what I know today – I wouldn’t change a thing.

    God has taken a fragile, broken and lost little girl and has redeemed and restored me to be a woman who loves Him deeply. God created in me a heart to know and love Him and to help others find wholeness, health and healing through relationship with Christ Jesus.

    So friends, I hope that if you find yourself in a broken, shattered and fragile place, that you will seek the One who can redeem any circumstance or situation.

    God can restore us heart and soul and bring us to a place of healing when we surrender our hearts to Him and allow the Lord to have His way with us.

    I know it is difficult to trust after betrayal and hurt, and so does God. He gave His one and only Son, Jesus, as a sacrifice so that we could live in right relationship with Him.

    He knows a thing or two about trust… will you trust Him with your heart today?

    Grace & Peace ~ Karen

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