Winner of Christmas Eve Book Draw

Here we are — drum roll, please — the announcement of our Christmas Eve draw for a copy of Jody Hedlund’s new book, REBELLIOUS HEART.

Rebellious-Heart

When we counted the number of comments and eliminated Jody’s and mine, there were fourteen, and the Random Number Generator chose #10:

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DARLENE FOSTER

Congratulations, Darlene! I’m sure you’ll enjoy the book. If you’ll contact me by e-mail with your snail mail address I’ll send it off to you right after New Years.

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Book Review & Giveaway: REBELLIOUS HEART by Jody Hedlund

Author Jody Hedlund

Author Jody Hedlund

When I first encountered Jody Hedlund back in mid-2009, she was a new blogger seeking representation and publication for her writing. She often used examples from PILGRIM’S PROGRESS in her posts, and admitted a passion for John Bunyan. So it was no surprise when her first published novel was a story loosely based on the second marriage of John Bunyan. (THE PREACHER’S BRIDE, Bethany House, 2010)

In that book Jody’s writing transported me right into the story’s mid-1600s setting… something that rarely happens unless an author has done a remarkable amount of research and used the information effectively.

In each of her successive books, Jody’s knowledge of historical times – i.e., 1836 Oregon, 1880s Michigan, and 1763 Massachusetts – evoked the same reaction, and I’ve been drawn into reading a genre that previously had never appealed to me. I eagerly devoured her newest book, REBELLIOUS HEART, when it was released in September by Bethany House.

At the end of this post you can leave a comment and be entered in the draw for a copy of REBELLIOUS HEART. 🙂

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Rebellious-HeartREBELLIOUS HEART takes us into the lives of two people from vastly different backgrounds. Susanna Smith is a bright young woman of good social status who, despite being denied the education she desires, displays her intelligence and asserts her independence as she works for social justice. When she seeks to aid a runaway indentured slave, she is assisted by the son of a farmer, country lawyer Benjamin Ross, who is also involved in the pre-Revolutionary discontent of the time. Their developing friendship places Susanna and her family in great danger.

Inspired by the unique friendship of US president John Adams and his wife Abigail, the story places richly detailed and believable characters into historically correct settings while playing out a fascinating and fast-paced plot.

I asked Jody which scene in the story she found the most challenging to write…

“Which scene in Rebellious Heart was the most challenging to write? I’d have to say the first scene in the courtroom where Ben is defending Hermit Crab Joe. I always want the first chapter to accomplish many goals. But often that’s hard to do without being wordy (and potentially boring the reader!).

“My original version of the scene was MUCH too long. And once I’d written it, I realized right away that I would need to pare it down quite a bit. But at the same time, I was told I needed to add more period detail to the scene so that readers could understand right away that they were in Colonial Times. So essentially I had to cut AND add at the same time!

“Fortunately, I’m not married to my words and I can usually cut and chop without mortally wounding myself. The hard part was trying to figure out exactly what was necessary for the scene and setting and what was overkill.

“Once I had eliminated as much as I possibly could, then I had a Colonial “expert” give me advice on where I could add a little more period detail to make the chapter/book more authentic.”

That authenticity stands out in all Jody’s writing, but especially in REBELLIOUS HEART. If you enjoy good historical fiction, you’ll want to add this book to your list of must-reads!

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If you’d like to have your name included in the draw for a free copy of REBELLIOUS HEART, please leave a comment below and be sure to provide your e-mail addy when prompted. The draw will close at 11:59 p.m. on Christmas Eve, Tuesday, December 24th. I’ll be taking a blogging break during Christmas week, but will post the name of the winner on Friday, December 27th.

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You can find out more about Jody and her books on her website: jodyhedlund.com

She hangs out on Facebook here: Author Jody Hedlund and also loves to chat on Twitter: @JodyHedlund

She is represented by Rachelle Gardener at Books and Such Literary Agency.

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BOOK REVIEW: A NOBLE GROOM by Jody Hedlund

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Jody Hedlund

For someone who never used to read Christian fiction, I keep surprising myself by finding an increasing number of Christian novelists on my list of favourite authors. Jody Hedlund topped the list after the release of her debut novel, THE PREACHER’S BRIDE in 2010. Each year since then I have waited impatiently for, and eagerly consumed, her subsequent releases – THE DOCTOR’S LADY in 2011, UNENDING DEVOTION in 2012 and most recently A NOBLE GROOM, launched just last month.

Jody’s stories are historical romances, and the eras she draws from provide fascinating and authentic backdrops for her characters and their complex stories.  A NOBLE GROOM takes place in 1880, mostly in a rural German farming community surrounding Forestville, Michigan.

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About A NOBLE GROOM, from Jody’s website:

a-noble-groom-193x300“Recently widowed Annalisa Werner has the feeling her husband was murdered but can’t prove it.

Alone with her young daughter in 1881 Michigan, she has six months left to finish raising the money needed to pay back the land contract her husband purchased, and the land is difficult to toil by herself. She needs a husband. With unmarried men scarce, her father sends a letter to his brother in the Old Country, asking him to find Annalisa a groom.

For nobleman Carl von Reichart, the blade of the guillotine is his fate. He’s been accused and convicted of a serious crime he didn’t commit, and his only escape is to flee to a small German community in Michigan where he’ll be safe. He secures a job on Annalisa’s farm but bumbles through learning about farming and manual labor.

Annalisa senses that Carl is harboring a secret about his past, yet she finds herself drawn to him anyway. He’s gentle, kind, and romantic–unlike any of the men she’s ever known. He begins to restore her faith in the ability to love–but her true groom is still on his way. And time is running out on them all.”

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MY REVIEW:

Publishers Weekly says, “Hedlund intricately balances romance and drama…” but this is an understatement. More than balancing them, she weaves them together with breath-holding suspense, moments of danger and disaster, and the sweetness of a child’s trust. The sustaining faith of both Annalisa and Carl is evident, but there is no slick dishing out of the Christian message. Instead it plays out subtly in the motives and actions of the characters – a refreshing change from some Christian fiction where the stories are thinly veiled attempts to present salvation as the panacea to every dilemma.

While I found the romantic elements more dominant in A NOBLE GROOM than in Jody’s previous books, it isn’t at the expense of an exciting plot, well-developed characters or a vivid setting. They all entwined to keep me engrossed in the story from beginning to end. I highly recommend it.

The only problem with finishing it so quickly is once again I’m left impatiently waiting for Jody’s next book. REBELLIOUS HEART (where Susanna Smith and Ben Ross are caught up “in a very dangerous fight for justice” in 1763 Massachusetts), isn’t due for release until September. Another four months to wait! 😦

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Jody Hedlund is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Agency.

You can find Jody on her blog, along with reams of information for writers, or on Facebook and  Twitter.

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Good morning! There is a new post coming later this morning, but before I do anything else I want to announce the winner of the draw for a signed copy of Jody Hedlund’s new book, UNENDING DEVOTION. The number 7 was chosen by the random number generator:

and, excluding comments from Jody, her critique partner Keli, and me, the seventh person to comment was… ::insert drum roll here:: …

Emily Reilly

Congratulations, Emily! I’m sure you’ll love the story.
We’ll be in touch by e-mail to make the arrangements.

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Secrets and a giveaway from author Jody Hedlund

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Today I’m sharing in the excitement of author Jody Hedlund’s newest release, UNENDING DEVOTION. Publisher’s Weekly calls it “a meaty tale of life amid the debauchery of the lumber camps of 1880s Michigan . . . exciting and unpredictable to the very end.” This is stop #2 on Jody’s blog tour sharing fun secrets you probably didn’t know about her.

There’s also a signed copy of her book to be won. Check out the details below.

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Secret #2: The secret source of my writing inspiration

By Jody Hedlund, @JodyHedlund

The secret of my writing inspiration is my bed. Yes, I really do get most of my story ideas when I’m lying in bed at night before I fall asleep.

Ideas stay in my heart and mind at all times during the course of writing the first draft. But it’s at night, in the quiet of the house, when my mind slows down and when my body is at rest, that I can hear my characters, that I fall in love with them, and they become real to me.

Interestingly, the moment I turn my book in to my editors, the characters leave my heart and head. It’s as if hitting ‘send’ severs the tie with them—which thankfully prepares me to be more objective with my work during the editing phase.

After the story is out of my hands, then usually the very next night, as I lie in bed, I begin the search for a new story and new characters. I begin to sort through ideas, always trying to find something fresh and exciting.

In fact, if I don’t have direction for a story, I start to feel lost. Then when I’m lying in bed, my mind is restless. And that undercurrent of restlessness remains until I latch onto another story and new characters.

Of course, I do find inspiration from many other places besides my bed. I glean ideas from biographies, history books, interesting people, old photographs, etc.

But it takes a quieting of the mind and the peacefulness of rest for those ideas to simmer and to come to fruition.

Are you building enough quiet and rest into your life to fuel your creative energy? Where do you find your greatest inspiration?

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Thanks for sharing with us today, Jody! Next time I’m lacking a good story idea maybe I should just go to bed! 😉

 To celebrate the release of UNENDING DEVOTION, Jody is giving away a signed copy. Leave a comment  on today’s post (along with your email address) to enter the drawing. Valid only with US or Canadian addresses. Giveaway ends at 11:59 p.m. Thursday, September 6th. Winner’s name will be posted on Friday.

For more secrets about Jody and additional chances to win her newest release, visit her Events Page to see where she’ll be next in her “Fun Secrets About Author Jody Hedlund” blog tour. Also join in the Pinterest Photo Contest she’s hosting. Find more information about it on her Contest Page.

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Jody would love to connect with you! Find her in one of these places:

Website: http://jodyhedlund.com/
Blog: http://jodyhedlund.blogspot.com/
Facebook: Author Jody Hedlund
Twitter: http://twitter.com/JodyHedlund
Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jodyhedlund/

 

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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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Roaming Bookstores and Seashores

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Roaming a bookstore is something akin to roaming the seashore for me. There is exhilaration and discovery, the heady smell that is unique to the location. My daughter loves to do both, too, as her blog post and Flickr pictures yesterday attest.

Her enthusiasm for acquiring books reminded me of my recent visit to one of my favourite out-of-town haunts. A few days ago after travelling to my writing group meeting I took the rare opportunity to visit a mega Christian bookstore — Blessings Christian Marketplace.  I was looking for a particular book, which I didn’t find, but I still came home with four others! It just isn’t possible to escape a bookstore with empty hands!

Books by Mary Connealy

As I browsed the shelves it was a delight to discover the books of people I’ve encountered online. It felt a little like running into friends in the crowded city. Or coming upon an eagle “perusing the menu” on the salt washed shore. What are the odds, I often wonder after such encounters.

Seeing the books was a strange sensation… there was a recognition that sparked pride in the authors’ accomplishment. It made me wonder how I will feel the day I see my own title among them, if that day ever comes. At this stage of my writing career I can’t imagine it. But the sight ignited my enthusiasm to continue working towards that day.

The Preacher's Bride by Jody Hedlund

Code Blue by Richard Mabry

Books by James Scott Bell

What emotions do you experience when you visit your bookstore or library, or are you just focused on locating a book?

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Gull photo courtesy of pdphoto.org

Beautiful Blog or Blogger Award

Receiving an award is always an honour. There have been a number of awards circulating the blogosphere during the past year, each suggesting the recipient’s blog has been providing value to its readership.

Joylene Butler surprised me with the “Beautiful Blogger Award” last week. I was honoured by this award but I admit to a bit of confusion. She called it the “Beautiful Blog Award”, but as you can see, that’s not what it says on the award logo. Joylene’s version seems more appropriate. Most of my readers have never seen me, and those who have would be quick to agree that if the award is based on looks then I really don’t qualify! 🙂  Anyway, many thanks, Joylene! You’re very sweet and I truly do appreciate the acknowledgement.

I’m told the rules are simple: copy the logo, choose those blogs that you find most beautiful (sometimes that means words alone), and link back to the one who chose you.

So here, in alphabetical order, are the blogs (bloggers) I chose for this award. All are published authors whose blogging words either educate, encourage, or inspire me — sometimes all at once.

  • BERTRAM’S BLOG – for Pat’s openness and honesty about her life and writing.
  • LAURA BEST, AUTHOR – for her pride in and promotion of a Canadian heritage.
  • AUTHOR, JODY HEDLUND – for sharing her faith and publication journey with total transparency .
  • WRITER JENN – Jennifer Hubbard, for her constant encouragement of other writers.
  • RANDOM JOTTINGS – Richard Mabry, for his Godly humility and writing ethics.
  • A HOLY EXPERIENCE – Ann Voskamp, for the oasis of her beautiful words.