Saturday, September 20, 2014

Laura Frantz--Critique, Interview and Book Give Away



Laura Frantz did it again….my fingers couldn’t resist flipping pages well into the night as Ellie and Jack’s story unfolded. My second reading this year of Love’s Awakening did not lose it's luster. Laura intricately weaves the strengths, weaknesses, and situations of each character—driving me to distraction with concern and curiosity. Her deeply layered characters and the society in which they live nearly come alive on the page! She wields her pen so skillfully with such natural flair that I easily envision that I’m stepping onto the nineteenth century streets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The fragrance of blooms and tension from danger—lurking just around the corner, as well as the joys and frustrations born naturally from human relationships kept me captivated. This Ballantyne Legacy novel absolutely lacks nothing in comparison with the first of the series, Love’s Reckoning.  Now that book three, Love’s Fortune, is published my advice to you is to run out and purchase them all-- if you have not bought the other two previously. I could read this novel till the pages fallout from overuse and not find myself bored.

Questions for Laura:

1.      Laura, how did you come up with Ellie Ballantyne and Jack Turlock’s personalities?  (Were their personalities inspired by anyone that you know?  Or maybe a combination of a few people?) 
LAURA - For Ellie, I tried to create a blend of her father and mother, Silas and Eden, yet made her the baby of the conflict which brought some conflict. Jack is a real man’s man, capable of great tenderness but saddled with an ungodly legacy. I’m not sure where Jack came from as he’s so very different than my usual godly heroes, but he’s wonderfully redeemable!

2.      Ellie and Jack’s story is so different from Eden and Silas’s story and yet so connected. Was it difficult deciding how this second story played out? 
LAURA- The tricky part was having the story take off in a direction I never intended, mainly the Underground Railroad theme. Yet it seemed to fit with Silas and Eden’s nature and those that followed them since Pennsylvania was such a pivotal state in terms of slave activity/abolitionists. Having the Turlocks support slavery and the Ballantynes dead set against it added to the story’s tension, or so I hope!

3.      I imagine that the span of research you accomplished for this series was massive. Was there a time-period you favored? 
LAURA - Yes, the research was quite daunting though I left 98% of what I learned out of the novel. Every era in this series fascinated me and each was vastly different, but I must say my love for the 18th-century and Silas and Eden’s day won out.

4.      Did this span of years effect how easily (or not) it was for you to write this story entitled Loves Awakening?
LAURA - Jumping 30 years or so between stories is hard to do both for the author and the reader as so very much is left out. But I tried to focus on the historical events that made the 1780’s and then the 1820’s unique and interesting.

5.      When do you gather photos of people that remind you of your characters as you imagine them? Your Pinterest collection is amazing! 
LAURA -Pinterest ( a virtual feast for me and by far my favorite form of social media if it can even be called that. I am constantly fed a stream of beautiful images that pertain to the story or give me ideas for another. Truly inspirational!
6. I saw your blog ( and I clicked on the trailer for your third book, Loves Fortune. You seem very involved with the design for your cover. Have you been that active in the design of the other two books in this series? 

LAURA - The credit for my involvement goes to photographer/designer Brandon Hill who is a very gracious, hands-on artist. He invited me into the studio for the cover shoot of Love’s Fortune and then we decided to maximize the day by creating a video, thanks to my publisher, Revell. It was a real thrill meeting the model that was my Wren (heroine) and also putting my paws on that lovely, historic gown. Truly a once in a lifetime experience! I’m so thankful.

7.      Laura was there anything more that you wanted to share with us about Ellie and Jack or other characters in this novel?
LAURA - I wanted to create two families, the Turlocks and the Ballantynes, that were quite opposite and left very different legacies, much like families today. The Camerons also come in in book 3, taking the story in a new direction.

8.      Would you suggest any historical sites to see in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh for those history buffs who can’t get enough? 
LAURA - Oh, how I love those 2 cities which are vastly different in terms of history. If you’re a colonial lover, Philadelphia is top notch with the Betsy Ross house and Elfreth’s Alley, Independence Hall and Christ Church. Pittsburgh has more of a frontier feel with Fort Pitt and the three rivers. Taking the railway between the two is an amazing way to see this richly historic, beautiful state!

9.      Everyone reading this post can visit for the interview we did on Loves Reckoning last year in August 2013. (I loved Laura’s answers and examples she shared!) I invite any interested parties to read her last interview to learn more about the Ballantyne Legacy!

10.  Do you have a favorite novel from this series? Why if you do? 
LAURA - Each of these books is like a child to me so they’re each dear to me for different reasons. But I know readers have favorites of the 3 which always mystifies yet delights me!

11.  Do you wish to tell us about your next novel or series you are working on? 
LAURA - I return to the 18th-century for a story set just after the Revolutionary War in Virginia. Cover art and titling are being decided now, my favorite part of the process.

12.  How do you want your readers and interested parties to contact you?

This is Laura's latest Ballantyne Legacy available in the stores this month! I've started my read and I invite you to begin yours!


To be a part of the book give away  please leave a comment with your email so that Laura can send you a signed copy of  her book! I wish you all could win and so does Laura...she is big hearted that way but only one of you can...maybe it will be you!!!!!!

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Devoted
By Susan Marlene Kinney
Pens of Praise Devotion      September 9, 2014

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. John 1: 14 NKJV

Names like Joseph, Abraham, Esther, and Job; Jesus, Matthew, and Peter, bring to mind biblical happenings, words which paint the picture of courage, faith, and overcoming. The rich reality of their circumstances, though they happened decades ago, redirected my steps and bent my decisions to follow paths less traveled by.
These stories’ importance, warm my blood with hope and longing. When I turn the crinkling pages of my New King James Bible, I watch Jesus inspire and lead the masses. His down to earth tales finger the hearts of His listeners as He weaves their experience and understanding of day to day existence into eternal patterns and focus. Jesus used the power of story to lead our understanding over the bridge spanning the gap between heaven and earth.
And onto the ultimate survival.

An Old Testament hero, whom I treasure, is Joseph. Near the end of his story he speaks with all the love and courage of a man who knows his God. Joseph spoke to his brothers and said, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore do not be afraid, I will provide for you and your little ones.” And he comforted them and spoke kindly to them. Genesis 50:19 – 21

In the beginning of Joseph’s story, his prophetic dream afforded a glimpse of what was to come. Life for Joseph unfolded in a way that he never would have expected. In spite of not understanding why the many trials and separation from his family happened, Joseph remained faithful to the knowledge that God was God. He was devoted to the Lord. Joseph persevered through each challenge and disappointment until he was fit to be trusted by God, so that he was in a position to be used to save many from starvation and extinction. Funny how after a trial, when we have held faithfully to the grace of the Lord, we sometimes see the why or the meaningfulness of our troubled circumstances.
 And we are glad!
We’ve become someone we never knew we could.
Stories internalize themselves into our thoughts and pattern how we view the world and our circumstances. The Bible is like a road map, which can lead our way through the brambles and weeds of difficulty, so that we can follow the footsteps of Jesus the Creator. He is the Author and Finisher of our Faith. I invite you to peruse the true, short stories in the Bible, to gain strength for your journey and peace and joy for your divine appointments.

What is that you say? Oh you do have a story!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Devotions...a Teaching

Devotions…a Teaching
What is Devotion….
What comes to mind when you hear the word “devotion?” Do you possibly think of an intimate relationship, one fortified with loyalty and undying love?  Is this an image that strings a smile across your lips while bringing happy memories or expectations across your minds eye?

The vision I see when considering a devoted family member or friend is someone completely faithful and eager to share their life and experiences. This would include someone without guile, who is willing to help and understand and ….be in my presence. All those qualities fit being devoted, because that’s what it takes when committing ourselves to knowing someone on such a deep level.

When I’m writing devotions for the Lord, I’ve felt worshipful….there is just no other word to explain the thrill and joy I’ve experienced when I’ve sat at His feet to adore Him. Exploring the Word and His presence and cuddling close to a new concept allows me to know him more.  Oh to be aware of His greatness! We were created for fellowship, imagine that!  He longs for our fellowship and gives us so much better than we can ever return back to Him, even before we ever consider Him worth a speck of our time.
Opportunities for Writing Devotions…
Publishers –Devotions I’ve purchased or received as gifts:
Ø  Summerside Press  www.
Ø  Whitaker House
Ø  Barbour Publishing
Ø  Infinity Publishing  (Self-Publishing)
Ø  Live Sentence Publishing LLC (Self-Publishing)

Others listed in the Christian Writer’s Market Guide 2014  (Jerry B. Jenkins)

Ø  Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas  - niche devotional complications considered.
Ø  Bethany House/ Revell/ Baker Books/ Chosen etc.
Ø  Guideposts
Ø  So many more locations listed in the Writer’s Market! Take a Peek!

Types of devotions:
In the body:
Ø  Experience – The body of the devotion expresses the writer’s experience in the form of a short story.
Ø  Christian Theology  ex. (Andrew Murray Dod’s Best Secrets)  & (Oswald Chambers My Utmost for His Highest)  
Added extras:
Ø  Quoted – These include a scripture quote or a person’s quote at the top or the bottom of the devotion. Some devotions have two scriptures or may have a bible and famous person quote.
Ø  Prayers – I’ve seen prayers located at the bottom of the devotion.
Ø  Chris Kincaid’s The Christmas Story  in 40 Days has lines which invite the readers thoughts.

As you can see there are many ways to write devotions. The most important consideration is how you wish to express this type of worship. Then you need to seek a publisher who is looking your layout style or else you can adjust what you have to fit their needs.

Happy writing!