Shannon Dittemore
  • Shan’s Pick: Site of the Month
  • July3rd

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    It’s July, friends!

    Oh, you knew that.

    Right.

    Well, I betcha didn’t know this: My new “Site of the Month” is up!

    Please help me honor Julie Williams and her debut novel, “Where Freedom Lies.”

    Julie is a fellow member of Inspire Christian Writers and a gal I’ve had the privilege to get to know over the past several months. Her highly skilled red pen has proved valuable on my own writing journey, and she has taught me that it takes the eyes and ears of many others to fine-tune a manuscript. As she continues on the road to publication, I hope you will take a minute to visit her site. I assure you, it will be time well spent.

    “Where Freedom Lies” is a Christian novel of historical fiction that has been meticulously researched and delightfully written. Julie’s characters live and breathe on the page, pulling the reader into a time long past–a time that should be both remembered and celebrated. While the Revolutionary War is simply a history lesson for most of us, Julie’s heroine, Hannah, is living it. Through her eyes we watch as truth and fiction collide, birthing a story full of charm and wit while posing some heart-searching questions.

    As we honor the birth of our great nation, take this opportunity to glimpse into Hannah’s world. Put yourself in her shoes, not far from Lexington Common where her father and twin brother head into battle. Watch as Drew, a British soldier, marches toward Lexington–toward Hannah–changing both the war and Hannah’s life in ways she could have never imagined.

    I’m telling you, friends, it’s a great read.

    Check out Julie’s website for the first two chapters of “Where Freedom Lies,” and enjoy America’s 234th birthday! May America continue to be the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    God bless!

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  • June4th

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    I am a huge Jane Austen fan. Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Mansfield Park, Persuasion.

    Ahhhhh… I get goosebumps just thinking about ’em.

    So, when I was provided with Linore Rose Burkard’s third Regency Fiction novel to read and review, I was notably giddy. I ordered the first two novels from Amazon so that I’d be all caught up when the third arrived.

    I am happy to tell you that I fell in love with her stories.

    With a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature, Linore has put in the elbow grease and her novels show it. With a breathtaking sweep of England in the early 1800’s, her detailed writing pulls you into the story. From gown designs to architecture, Burkard has detailed settings deliciously idyllic, and in some cases appropriately forlorn. And she has done so with an expert hand. She then leaves a stage of quirky characters to keep you entertained and they do so with enchanting results.

    The three books have similarities–their cast for example, as well as overlapping story-lines and settings–but each has it own flavor. It’s own mystery. Each story has its own delightful twist. And, I turned every page with glee. I hope you will too.

    Her books have been marketed as “Inspirational Fiction for the Jane Austen Soul” and the tag-line fits perfectly. If you fell in love with Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, you’re sure to love Ariana Forsythe and Phillip Mornay. I’ve reviewed all three books and will include the link to the first book below. So, that I do not spoil your read, I won’t post the link to my reviews of her second and third books. If you’re desperate to read the reviews, I’m sure you’re savvy enough to find them.

    You can find a ton of information about Linore and her books on her website, which happens to be my June Site of the Month. Check it out and be blessed.

    Click here to read my review of her first novel, Before the Season Ends.

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  • April8th

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    The movie, Braveheart, reminds me of my husband.

    There was a time, before Matt and I were married, when our relationship became the object of scrutiny (that’s the kindest way to say it, friends). The situation was messy, ridiculous, and unnecessary, but through it all I learned something immeasurably valuable about my future husband: He was willing to fight for me.

    As an artsy soul, I can see the beauty in most any story, even when it conflicts with my Christian worldview. I have a certain affinity for star-cross’d lovers–stories of relationships either consumed by tragedy or thriving through it. Braveheart, Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Les Mis, The Count of Monte Cristo–all stories with insurmountable odds. Obstacles that the characters could neither control nor contain. In these five works, the characters chose to fight back. I can’t say it turned out well for all involved, but that’s literature mirroring life. That’s the risk you take when you’re willing to fight for what you love.

    These stories stay with their audiences long after the books are closed and the credits roll. Something about them resonates with us. We can identify with the characters and their struggles. We know the ache of wanting something so much it nearly kills us. We wish we could save them from the utter hopelessness of their plight because the despair tugs at our very humanity. And then there’s the ever-scripted ideal that there are things in this world worth fighting for. Because we’ve been there, we understand the cry of the hero’s heart when his actions say, “I may die swinging this sword, but still I’ll fight!”

    I’ve been disturbed by some of the things I’ve seen in literature and in the media of late, and I wonder just how much of real life these themes mirror. There seems to be a hopelessness leaking from the pages of books, from the screens of televisions. I see a new-found willingness to lay down weapons and surrender. I look around the battlefield of life where soldiers sit stunned by the obstacles before them, hurt by the things that have attacked them, and lonely in the emptiness that remains. I feel their willingness to be done with it all. I don’t condemn them. I understand. In some, I see a callousness–their faces set and determined to simply survive the hand they’ve been dealt. And, I’ll admit, that in some, very rare instances, survival alone is a victory indeed.

    But the rest of us may need to be encouraged with a call to arms. There are things worth contending for, friends, and we must be ready: Christ and His church, the truth, our families, our homes, our livelihood. We need to understand just what will happen the minute we lay our sword aside. We need to see, in our mind’s eye, the enemy of our soul attacking with unrelenting tenacity. We must rally ourselves. We must arm ourselves for the task at hand. We must surround ourselves with warriors.

    And this specifically, is why Braveheart reminds me of Matt. Because Matt’s a warrior. He’s willing to fight for what he believes in. I learned this firsthand before we were ever married. And, though I’ve been tempted to throw in the towel at times, with Matt’s hand in mine and our faces set on Christ, we haven’t given up yet. So today, I’ll let the Apostle Paul do the honors. Imagine him all decked out like William Wallace, riding a horse, his face painted blue. Hear the fire in his heart as he exhorts us:

    Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. –Ephesians 6:10-17

    On a separate, though related note, Matt’s new blog: MattCaffeinated is my April Site of the Month. Check it out. Be challenged. Be inspired.

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  • March1st

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    This world–the writing world, I mean–is all about self-promotion.

    It’s exhausting! There’s the day-to-day work of bugging friends and family with countless FB updates, striving to expand your platform through networking, and–oh yeah–there’s the actual writing, which I’m sorry to say can get eaten by the hungry self-promotion monster. There’s the other stuff too: query letters, submission materials, critique groups (where you routinely hand a fish hook–a really big one–to other writers and ask them for “honest feedback” praying, all the while, they don’t aim that hook right at your heart).

    Oh, and did I mention that we’re supposed to stay pleasant through the whole thing!

    But not too pleasant. We don’t want to appear annoying, do we?

    Sheesh! There’s lots to remember in this world of self-promotion.

    So, today I thought I’d introduce you to my rebellious streak. In an attempt to stave off vanity, my website has a special feature. I call it: Shan’s Pick: Site of the Month. You can find a link in the top slider on my home page. Click the right arrrow til you see it. There is also a link on the menu bar that will show you all the past and current winners.

    Each month, I’ll use this space to promote other people’s work! How exciting is that? These are people–writers, editors, agents, publishers–who inspire me and deserve a big ‘ol thumbs up from my chair here in Northern California. While writing can be a very isolating venture, and the journey to publication can be a very quiet and lonely road, it’s not something that should be attempted alone. On my relatively new quest, I’ve run into several wonderful people along the way who have helped shape my work and my perspective. They’ve provided encouragement and honest feedback (all without that scary fish hook).

    Let me introduce a couple of them to you:

    March’s Site of the Month Award goes to Declaration Editing. Never heard of ’em? Well then, you should definitely check out their site. Especially if you’re an author looking for some help. Once I had my first novel in draft form, I contacted Vinnie Kinsella at Declaration and paid him (sorry friends, editing isn’t free!) to critique my manuscript. His input was invaluable and I cannot recommend Declaration Editing highly enough.

    February’s Site of the Month Award (yeah, yeah, I know) belongs to Sarah Cunningham, author of Picking Dandelions and several other works that can be found on her site. As a member of The Fig Tree blog, I was given the incredible opportunity to read her newest book prior to release and review it on release date. Her words on change and growth are inspiring, and in a world that seems to shrink from both, her book is necessary! Read it! Check out her site for more details!

    So, thanks friends, for taking the time to check out these wonderful folks and their work. My thumbs up may not mean much, but in a world where support is an awful lot like gold, I think we should throw a bit more around. Makes us all a little richer!

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