Book Reviews and Giveaway — WRITING WITH A HEAVY HEART and NEVER ENOUGH — Author Denise Jaden

When author Denise Jaden shares the experiences that have influenced how she handles grief in her writing, she doesn’t mince words. A miscarriage, the death of her father in a workplace accident, the head injury of her son and her husband’s place of business burning down, all happened in the span of four months, and suddenly had her coping with unexpected loss and grief.

She says, “As much as I didn’t want it, I’ve had the opportunity to think on some teachable aspects of grief as I was walking my journey.” Not only did she think on them, she has utilized them to create a wonderful book for anyone writing about characters who are also dealing with loss.

In her first non-fiction book, WRITING WITH A HEAVY HEART: USING GRIEF AND LOSS TO STRETCH YOUR FICTION, Denise shares her ideas on how to add emotional layers to your writing about characters going through various forms of loss. She analyzes how individuals react in grief, and provides exercises to help writers apply these reactions to their characters.

It’s an invaluable resource for every writer. Released October 1st, the paperback version is available at Create Space and through Amazon.  The e-book is available at AmazonSmashwordsKoboDiesel and Sony. Check out Denise’s blog for a Goodreads giveaway. Also, if you send Denise your mailing address at d(at)denisejaden(dot)com with “Bookmarks” in the subject line, she’ll  be happy to send some bookmarks your way

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This is the second of Denise’s books to be released in 2012. In July I was pleased to attend the launch of her second YA novel, NEVER ENOUGH. It’s a remarkable story about two sisters each coping with their sense of self-esteem and inadequacy. About it Publishers Weekly said, “In her sophomore novel, Jaden (Losing Faith) offers an intimate and enlightened rendering of anorexia and bulimia…Loann’s fight against forces that might be beyond her control is both harrowing and inspiring. While Jaden does not provide simple answers for the problems presented, she dramatically illustrates the importance of speaking out and reaching out.”

Like Denise’s first novel LOSING FAITH, NEVER ENOUGH is another story that caught me up and kept me reading non-stop to the end.

I have a signed copy of NEVER ENOUGH to give away to one of you who leaves a comment below before noon on Sunday, October 7th. Please be sure to leave your e-mail address when prompted so I can contact the winner. Draw is limited to mailing addresses in Canada and the United States. Winner will be announced on Monday.

NEVER ENOUGH is available just about everywhere I look, including on Amazon.

If you’ll be attending the Surrey International Writers’ Conference, October 19-21, 2012 at Surrey’s Sheraton Hotel, I believe Denise will also have copies of her books available there.

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Book Giveaway Reminder (and Winner!)

It’s Tuesday! That means tonight’s midnight draw deadline is fast approaching. If you missed Friday’s interview with author Jody Hedlund, this is your opportunity to check it out and leave a comment to be eligible to win a free copy of her newest release, The Doctor’s Lady. Jody’s historical romances are getting great reviews — a third book will be released in 2012, and news is just out of another three-book contract with her publisher, Bethany House — so don’t miss this chance to win a copy.

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All the names!

It’s Wednesday morning now and we have a winner!

All the names of those who commented were included, except mine, Jody’s and her crit partner, Keli Gwyn, who already has a copy. Then I enlisted the aid of the very amazing DH, who, as you can see, pulled the name of Susan Reinhardt.

Congratulations Susan! I’ll be in touch shortly to make arrangements to get your copy to you. And thanks to everyone who joined in the conversation following Jody’s interview. I hope you all get an opportunity to read The Doctor’s Lady, too.

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Book Giveaway and Author Interview: Jody Hedlund

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I’m in two places at once today. You’ll also find me posting about sources of power on The Pastor’s Wife Speaks blog. After enjoying today’s interview with Jody Hedlund (and leaving a comment to be eligible for a free copy of her new book) perhaps you’ll click over and join me there.

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Jody Hedlund

I’m honoured to welcome author Jody Hedlund to my blog. I’ve been sold on Jody’s writing since before she published her first book. Her blog caught my attention back somewhere in mid-2009 as she shared her writing journey with great transparency and wisdom. Her faith also shone through each post, and I remember thinking that she was destined to have a ministry through her words.

Her debut novel, The Preacher’s Bride, was published last year by Bethany House, and her second book, The Doctor’s Lady, has just been released.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Preacher’s Bride, so was surprised to discover I liked The Doctor’s Lady much more. Its writing is tighter, the story line is smoother, credible conflict immediately captures attention and builds throughout.  It’s quite an adventure! Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop, and believe me, that isn’t usual for me with an inspy historical romance.

The blurb about The Doctor’s Lady says, “Priscilla White knew God wanted her to be a missionary, not a wife. Then, the missionary board declares the only way she can serve is to be married. Now, married in name only [to Dr. Eli Ernest], her epic journey west will test her spirit… and the new longings of her heart.”

INTERVIEW

Jody, what was the inspiration behind The Doctor’s Lady?  

This book is inspired by the true life story of Narcissa Whitman, the first white woman to brave the dangers of overland trail and travel west. In 1836, she married Dr. Whitman, and then the next day left her childhood home and would never return for the purpose of starting a mission among the Nez Perce natives.

It was my hope in this story to bring Narcissa Whitman to life. This heroic woman has often been ignored and at times even disparaged. In reality, she exuded incredible courage to attempt a trip many proclaimed foolishly dangerous. It was called an “unheard-of-journey for females.” Because of her willingness to brave the unknown, she led the way for the many women who would follow in her footsteps in what would later become known as the Oregon Trail.

What message do you hope readers take away from TDL?

I hope readers are inspired to try new things and brave dangerous prospects in the pursuit of their dreams. When we go after the things that matter, we’ll have to take risks and we’ll experience setbacks and obstacles. But if we persevere, we can reach our destination and do great things along the way.

I know you’re busy working on another book. What’s coming next? 

In 2012, my next historical romance releases. I’m really excited about this story because it’s set in my home state of Michigan. It takes place during the 1880’s at a time in history when the lumber era was at its height. The heroine of the story is a young woman, Lily Young, who is looking for her sister who’s caught up into the degradation of lumber camp life. While Lily searches for her missing sister, she fights against the evil that runs rampant around her, and she fights not to lose her heart to the lumber baron who turns a blind eye to the lawlessness of the lumber business.

People always seem curious about the life of a writer, so I have to ask, what do you like most (and least) about writing and being a published author?

As a writer, I love telling stories. I especially like the feeling that comes as I near the end of the book when everything looks hopeless, the characters are in big trouble, and somehow I’m able to wrap up the book in a satisfying way. I call it the first-draft love affair! I fall absolutely and madly in love with the story and think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.

As a published author, I love hearing from readers. I’m always thrilled to get emails or hand-written notes from readers telling me how much my story touched them.

I struggle the most during the editing phase of each of my books. The love affair that started during the first draft comes to an end. I fall out of love with my books. By the last edit—called the Galley Review—I finally reach a point where I loathe the book, think it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written, and wish I could just throw it away. During the Galley stage, I’m fraught with insecurity and fear. My agent did a great job of talking me off the cliff during my fears with The Doctor’s Lady. She encouraged and inspired me to keep going no matter what happens.

Now for a more personal question… one that our family always seems to toss around during summer picnics and BBQ’s: “If you knew you were going to be stranded on a deserted island for a month and could only take multiples of one meal with you, what would it be?” Our children always choose something very different from the adults. What would you take? 

If I were going to be completely honest, I’d have to say I’d bring nachos–the kind piled high with cheese, taco meat, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, lettuce, and tomato.

However, my motherly responsible answer would be to say that I’d bring a big taco salad–with lots of lettuce, tomato, taco meat, cheese, and chips. I think this would be a bit healthier than the nachos, and of course it would be one that included most of the food groups.

Could I sneak in a pan of gooey brownies too? =)

Of course! I think all writers depend upon chocolate to fuel their inspiration, don’t they? I like your food choice; nachos with cheese is my absolutely favourite snack!

Many of my readers are aspiring authors. Do you have any advice to share? 

Write a couple of books first and unleash your creativity. Then start reading books that explain how to write. Study techniques, practice them, and keep writing. When you begin reaching a level in your writing where you think you’re ready to start querying, get a critique partner to read your work, vamp up your online presence, and immerse yourself in the writing industry.

Thanks, Jody. I’ve loved having you here today. If readers would like to connect more with you, where can they find you? 

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GIVEAWAY!

I received a copy of The Doctor’s Lady from the publisher to review for this post, and I’m going to give it away to one lucky reader who leaves a comment here between now and midnight next Tuesday — that’s 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, September 21. Be sure to leave your e-mail when prompted so you can be reached. I’ll announce the winner Wednesday morning. The draw is limited to addresses in Canada and the USA.

UPDATE!

The draw has been done (see here) and Susan J. Reinhardt is the winner. Congratulations, Susan!

(The Doctor’s Lady can also be purchased at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Borders, and ChristianBook.com, as well as at most of your local bookstores.)

CONTEST!

Jody has an incredible contest running on her website. The Be a Trailblazer Contest has a pioneer prize package valued at $300! The contest is limited to residents of the USA, age 18 and older, but visit her contest page for all the details.

AUTHOR BIO

Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling book, The Preacher’s Bride. She is represented by Rachelle Gardner of the WordServe Literary Group. Jody received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children. Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady, was released earlier this month by Bethany House Publishers.

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The winner’s choice…

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I hope everyone enjoyed Monday’s author interview. The winner of a copy of Christine Lindsay’s Shadowed in Silk as chosen by the Random Number Generator, is comment #4 which, when you eliminate Christine’s and my comments, turns out to be Jeanette Levellie. Congratulations, Jen! I’m sure you’ll thoroughly enjoy reading it. You have the choice of an eBook copy now, or a coupon for the paperback version when it is released September 1st. Christine will be in touch with you to make arrangements.

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UPDATE

Please read Christine’s second comment below. She is giving away an additional eBook copy to another visitor who leaves a comment. Thank you for your generosity, Christine!

Book Review & Giveaway: Our Witchdoctors Are Too Weak

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What if there were no books written in your language? Not a single one. What if your language had no written form at all?

Most of us, especially if we are writers, take the written word for granted. Not everyone in our country can read, of course, but there are opportunities to learn, and books are always there, waiting to share their messages. Deep in the Amazon jungle, however, the remote Wilo tribe spoke a language that had never been deciphered. They lived in fear of evil spirits and witchcraft, unaware of the freedom offered by a loving God.

*OUR WITCHDOCTORS ARE TOO WEAK: The Rebirth of an Amazon Tribe is the personal story of Davey and Marie Jank, missionaries who ventured into the jungle to the village of Pakali on the Balawa River, braved snakes, alligators, hordes of gnats, and ten years of life in a mud and thatch hut to live with the Wilos. Challenged to learn their language and create a written version, Davey first had to build a relationship with them and learn the intricacies of their culture. His goal was to be able to transcribe scripture into understandable lessons of the Christian faith.

The Janks’ biography is a series of anecdotes written with humour and humility, illustrating the complexity of a primitive lifestyle mixed with the inner strength of a people anxious to discover the mystery of “God’s Talk”… the Bible.

I admit to some skepticism about how a tribe who managed to have matches to light their fires, aluminum pots for cooking, outboard motors on their dugout canoes, and store-bought clothes to wear could have remained isolated enough to miss out on other benefits of what we think of as civilization. I wonder, too, why Davey chose to wait ten years until he could use the Wilo language to create written lessons before he began sharing basics of the faith to help dispel the fear and superstition.

But despite my questions, this account of the Janks’ experiences blazes with authenticity. They write with an easy-to-read conversational style that takes us with them on a remarkable journey — an adventure of faith, sacrifice, and determination.

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I’m offering a free copy of the Janks’ OUR WITCHDOCTORS ARE TOO WEAK to someone who comments on this post between now and the end of the weekend… Sunday evening, 11:59 p.m. Pacific time. The winner will be determined by a random number draw.  So c’mon, say hello, and you might win yourself a good read!

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UPDATE MAY 2, 2011

For those who have been captivated by Davey and Marie Jank’s story, here is a link to the video of their May 2nd interview on the television show 100 Huntley Street. (I’m not sure how long the video will be available.)  http://www.100huntley.com/video.php?id=bo54RHhc17o

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Others also reviewing on this blog tour:

Carol Benedict
Valerie Comer
Carol J. Garvin
Tana Adams
Sharon A. Lavy
Jenn
Sue Harrison
Susan Panzica

Our Witchdoctors Are Too Weak
Davey and Marie Jank
Monarch Books (2010)

*This book was provided for review purposes by the publisher.

Giveaway Winner!

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It’s Friday and as promised I’m announcing the winner of Wednesday’s writing book giveaway.

The note stuck to my monitor is proof of my intent to select the last person to comment before the midnight deadline. So, Sandra Heska King, you’re the winner of the book of your choice from the five listed in Wednesday’s post. Congratulations! Please e-mail me with the title of the one you’d like and provide a mailing address: caroljgarvin [at] gmail [dot] com.

Book Giveaway – Last Chance

Just a reminder: tomorrow morning, Friday at 9:00 a.m. PST comments will close on the draw for Brandilyn Collins’ EYES OF ELISHA, a Christian murder mystery. Check out yesterday’s post for details and if you’ve never read one of Brandi’s books and would like to be in the draw, just add a comment. I’ll post the winner’s name at noon tomorrow.