Author Spotlight: Rachel D Muller | And a SURPRISE GIVEAWAY!

 

Today we welcome Debut Author:

Flower Corners Rachel

 

 She has come to share with us – a little of her own writing journey
and some of that much-needed encouragement.

She has also graciously offered to host a giveaway!

Thank You Rachel!

God Bless You!

 

OK, first – questions:

 

– Many authors say their first novel will never see the light of day. Was “Letters From Grace” your first completed novel?

In fact, it was not. The very first novel I wrote is set in the 1920s. However, when the premise for Letters from Grace came to me in the early morning hours of one August morning, I ditched the first novel and found myself completely lost in Grace and Luke’s story. The ideas came to me without hesitation.

As for the first novel, I still have plans to incorporate that into a series of its own…just a little further down the road.

 

– Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to self-publish?

There are so many little details in the publishing industry. I won’t get into all of them, but for myself it was more personal than professional. I had everything lined up; an agent, even a press! But the timing was all off for me. I’m thankful for the wonderful people God used in this process and decision. Everyone in the traditional publishing spotlight was incredibly supportive and understanding of my situation. All I wanted to do was write, and I had a whole series ready for publishing. All I needed to do was grab a cover designer and editor and hit the submit button.

This decision has also enabled me keep time as my own. I am in charge of my deadlines and how quickly I want the next stories to appear online. It has also gifted me with experience I never would have ventured into before. I am learning so much about marketing resources, cover design, formatting, and HTML codes–it’s all a new language for me! And I love it!

 

– Would you mind sharing with us a bit about your publishing journey? How did you find your cover artist? Who put together the insides for you?

My publishing journey has been amazing. So many agents and editors have encouraged and walked me through this process with invaluable insight! My cover designer is actually a well-known author. I contacted Roseanna White (Author of historical romance) when I learned of her cover design side business. I already had a sketch of what I wanted my cover to look like and sent that file over to her. She then chose the photos and models and based upon my questionnaire put together the most amazing cover…it was exactly what I imaged it to look like, but with so much more beauty than I could have hoped for (if that makes sense). I plan to use her in the future and can’t say enough about her talent in this area. She’s a peach!!

As for the inside layout and format, that was all moi. There were times when it was frustrating, but when I figured out I was doing it all wrong, the right way was so much easier. 😉

– Are you planning to continue self-publishing the entire series? Or… if a traditional publisher wanted to buy the rights, would you go that way?

As of right now, yes, I do plan to continue with self-publishing. The 2nd book in the series, Maggie’s Mission, is due for release in January, 2015.

If the Lord should move a publisher to contact me on publishing through their brand, I would take careful consideration in prayer before I gave my answer. There are many details that come into play, and depending on my standing as an author and the pros and cons of the business, I would need to consult with my higher authority. 🙂

 

– Do you have any special suggestions or advice you would like to share with struggling or novice authors out there?

I sure do. I would suggest those writers to keep plugging away in writing what they LOVE. Your best work will bleed through the outpouring of your heart. Listen to that nagging voice that says, “write the story.” I truly believe all my 5-star reviews have come about because I wrote what was on my heart.

Secondly, learn and ask questions. Don’t ever stop learning about the craft of writing. The industry is constantly changing. Rules have changed. Keep up with the latest news and techniques and incorporate those things into your writing.

And last, but not least, ask someone to critique your work and don’t be afraid to hear what you could do better. It will in fact enhance your writing capabilities and push you to put forth your best effort. I have crit partners and I still receive red marks across my manuscripts. It’s not a bad thing, and it will open your eyes to new angles and fresh ideas.

 

Thanks for having me here today!

 

Please join me in thanking Rachel for taking time
out of a very busy schedule to answer these questions for us.

 And I hope all of you have found this as inspiring as I have!

Keep reading for details on the giveaway.

 

 

Now for some other info about Rachel and her debut novel:

 

And you can find more on her WEBSITE.

Rachel Muller_Headshot

Obsessed with World War II since the tender age of 17, Rachel has been studying The Greatest Generation for 13 years and composing stories of love and war for three years. Her first project,Letters from Grace, claimed a spot in Harlequin’s So You Think You Can Write Contest in 2012 and semi-finaled in ACFW’s Genesis Contest, 2014. Letters from Grace, book 1 in the Love & War series, released September, 2014. She resides in Central Maryland with her husband and four children. Readers can learn more about Rachel at www.racheldmuller.com or find her on Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, and Goodreads.
You can connect with Rachel by clicking the links below:
Modern Belles of History Blog: www.modernbellesofhistory.com

Don’t miss Rachel’s DEBUT novel, “Letters From Grace”

Letters from Grace

Letters from Grace, Book 1 – Now Available! 
Get your copy at Amazon.com

Can she risk losing her heart and the man she loves…again?

Scarred from the death of her fiancé in World War II, Grace Campbell must learn to love again. Lieutenant Luke Brady could make falling in love easy…except he’s going to war. Only one thing will keep a delicate thread tied between—letters. But the suave Dr. William Keller enchants Grace with his charm and proposes marriage. She must choose between them. Will she settle for comfort and safety or risk losing her true love on the Normandy beaches?

Endorsements:

In LETTERS FROM GRACE, talented author Rachel Muller proves that nothing–fear, misunderstanding, lack of faith, not even war–can stand in the way of true love. Readers will identify with the tough choices faced by Muller’s characters, and wait with bated breath for the next installment in the Love and War series. Make room for these novels on your “keepers” shelf, because you’ll want to read the realistic, heart-pounding stories again and again! (Loree Lough, bestselling author of more than 100 award-winning books, including “A Child to Love” and “Those Marshall Boys” series from Harlequin Heartwarming.)

SOUNDS EXCITING DOESN’T IT!

 

 

WOW!

And this is only the first book of the series!

 

Rachel Muller is a particular inspiration to me for a couple of reasons.

She did what she was supposed to do. She wrote, rewrote, edited, had her work critiqued and rewrote again before sending it out to various editors and agents.

Her book was even a finalist in Harlequin’s “So You Think You Can Write” contest!

But, when it all came down to it, and when the timeline didn’t work for her, she knew it was more important that she get her story in front of readers – so she did what she had to do and self-published!

And I don’t know about you but I think her story is such an inspiration to writers everywhere!

GOD BLESS YOU RACHEL! And may you continue writing for years and years to come!

 

AND NOW…

… our GIVEAWAY!

 

Rachel has graciously offered to give away TWO prizes!

First Prize is ONE signed copy of “Letters From Grace”
and Second prize is ONE signed bookmark!

What do you have to do?

First you have to SHARE this post!

You can share it on the social media site of your choice!

Then come back here and post a comment below with the link!

 

FOR FACEBOOK:

Click HERE and share our Facebook Post.

And apparently Facebook will NOT let me see all of the shares due to privacy settings so…

You can chose whether to post a comment in this post with the link
or on the FB post itself.

 

The contest will run from today until October 6th.

Winner will be announced no later than October 7th

rules and regulations for all contests can be found HERE.

You will get one extra entry if you LIKE our post
and another if you FOLLOW our blog!

 

God Bless You all and Have a GREAT week!

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Valuable tips on Writing/Publishing by FABULOUS authors via MWG Conference 2014

2014 Conference in Ocean Springs, MS

This past weekend several of our authors attended the Mississippi Writer’s Guild 2014 conference and they wanted to share some of the things they learned from authors Melanie Dickerson, Jane Nickerson, Sandra Beasley & Terry Kennedy

 

Jane Nickerson opened the conference with her speech about the importance of accuracy in researching and writing. Jane writes historical fiction but we feel this information is just as valuable to the sci-fi writer as it is to the inspirational writer or the historical writer. Later in the evening, in a personal conversation, Jane made the point that even if you are making up almost all of your story (people, places and events), there has to be some element of truth to it or the reader will not engage with your characters – they won’t be drawn in to your world and the book will be boring to them.

Melanie Dickerson told a delightful story in her speech about an opportunity she was presented with to “Save the cat”. There is a book by the same name written by Blake Snyder and it tells us of the importance in making our characters likable! Melanie shared how adding just one scene in her book changed her hero from being brusque and unlikable to wonderful and lovable! What a wonderful tip. Not only does it show us that some things do not  require a complete rewrite, it shows us that sometimes the problem is in what we don’t have rather than what we do!

Sandra Beasley shared humorous anecdotes and curious trivia about writing her memoir and how surreal an experience it was to quit her “job” and get serious about being a full-time writer. She brought to light the struggles and comedic internal debates writers have with themselves about writing, working and procrastination. She also shared some very valuable tips on everything from developing a thicker skin to how to introduce yourself and your work to people in general.

Terry Kennedy made some very good points about the way our world views online publications and the writers who work for them. He offered a peek into this world that I admit, I knew nothing about and after hearing about the difficulties and stresses associate with it, I’m not so sure I want to. He shared facts and figures that gave a clear overview of the industry and how it has changed over the years – and is still in fact changing, every day.

 

Overall, an educational and enjoyable experience!

Thank You to Donna Mynatt, Rachel L. Miller & J.C. Morrows for sharing a bit about your experience!

 

Our recommendation to you all as writers, whether aspiring or published, is to attend as many writer’s conferences as possible. Even if you do nothing but pick up a few helpful tips, it is well worth the time. And every writer or agent or publishing professional that you meet will simply be a bonus. Whether you realize it or not, you will be making connections that may well carry you to your goals one day. Many writers will tell you that they met their agent at a conference, or they met their editor at a conference, or they were given valuable advice on how to edit their work and make it better from someone at a conference.

Bottom line – they are worth every minute and dollar.

God Bless and keep up the good work!

Now go write!

Author Spotlight: Jolina Petersheim

Today we welcome Bestselling Author:

 She has come to share with us, a little of her own writing journey
and even some of that much-needed encouragement.

Thank You Jolina!

God Bless You!

 

 

– Many authors say their first novel will never see the light of day.
Was “The Outcast” your first completed novel?

Oh my! I have two manuscripts in the desk drawer that will most definitely never see the light of day. My first, though fiction, highlighted my experience growing up on a Christian camp. My second novel was Southern fiction and dealt with racism and the destructive power of secrets throughout the tobacco-farming Ashinhurst family (I found the last name in an old graveyard). I dearly love both of these stories because they taught me writing discipline and gave me the confidence to know that I can actually create a novel; sometimes it’s really just a matter of sitting in a chair for a specified amount of time and putting thoughts in the word processor. Also, though I never imagine publishing these works, I have gleaned from them while working on my other manuscripts. The art of writing is never a waste of time!

 

– You have had an amazing rise to popularity.
Any special marketing techniques you feel may have been contributing factors?

Thank you! So kind of you to say. The only marketing tip I have that might be a little different from the norm is that I think we authors have to take social media breaks from time to time or else we risk suffering burnout. Because of this (and because I am just terribly irresponsible with technology), I don’t have a smart phone. I simply upload tweets to Hootsuite through my laptop and schedule posts to my Facebook author page. This gives me freedom to “unplug” and work on my story without being distracted. Then it’s a fun reward—rather than a drudgery—to check back in after my word count is completed and visit with my readers, who are also my friends.

 

– Would you mind sharing with us how many rounds of querying you went through before getting that “YES!”?

​As strange as it sounds, I actually never queried my agent. We discovered each other at an author reading because of our Pennsylvania Dutch last names and struck up a conversation. I had no idea he was an agent until he asked to see the portion of the manuscript I was working on: a modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter set in an Old Order Mennonite community in Tennessee, which would become my debut, The Outcast. I, of course, Googled him whenever I got home (I had to wait because I don’t have a smart phone) and about passed out. He was a very legitimate and respected agent! So I polished my manuscript for a month, sent it to him, and heard back within a few days. He wanted to read more. Therefore, I started writing up to eight hours a day, five days a week, and had the completed manuscript to him four months later. It was a wonderful, whirlwind experience—truly one of the highlights of my life!

 

– How much (if any) of your second book did you have completed before you signed a contract for the first?

A few months before my conference call with my publisher, Tyndale, my husband and I sat side by side at a frozen yogurt lounge with our newborn in a car seat between us and hashed out the plot for my sophomore novel, The Midwife: the story about a mother who risks everything to save a child not genetically hers. But, beyond that, the story itself was just a figment of my imagination. Once I signed that two-book contract, however, I knew it was time to get to work. My daughter was twelve weeks old when I started the first draft, and during the process of defining motherhood, I found I was discovering what it meant to be the kind of mother who would sacrifice to give her child life. It was a beautiful, challenging time, and I am grateful for it.

 

– Do you have any special tips or hints you would like to share with struggling or novice authors out there?

Yes, never, ever give up! That afternoon I met my agent, I was 12 weeks pregnant with our firstborn daughter and had reconciled in my heart that it was time to set my writing dream aside. Here, little did I know that God was just waiting for my complete surrender to His plan for my life to resurrect my lifelong dream of becoming an author! I love being able to work from home and be with our daughter (and with her sister who is due in September!) through every simple, exquisite moment. I know I am blessed.

 

Please join me in Thanking Jolina for taking time
out of a very busy schedule to answer these questions for us.

 

I truly hope all of you have found this as inspiring as I have!

 

And now for some other info about Jolina and her wonderful books

From Jolina’s website:

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I was born on a hot August day in the heart of Amish country. While my family moved to Tennessee when I was only three years old, my childhood was filled with stories of Pennsylvania Dutch ancestors hiding TVs from bishops and concealing permed hair beneath kapps. But this unique heritage did not interest me.

Instead, I pouted as my mother divided my waist-length hair into plaits and then forced me to change from purple overalls into a jean skirt and sneakers in preparation to visit our Plain friends—knowing, even at the tender age of six, that this combination was a fashion faux pas. Playing Hide ‘n’ Seek or Kick the Can with my Old Order Mennonite peers, however, I soon became grateful for that skirt, which helped me transition from Southern Englischer to intimate friend.

Years passed. I knew my Mennonite playmates had traded braided pigtails for kapped buns, yet on a visit to the community, I rebelled against my mother’s instructions and arrived with unbound hair. During supper, which was eaten beneath a popping kerosene bulb, the hostess came and stood behind my portion of the bench. She slid out my blue satin ribbon and plaited my hair as I stared into my bowl of grummbeer supp accented with homemade brot.

The winter of my seventeenth year, I returned to the community to visit my once-raucous playmate whose ill health had transformed her into a soft-spoken friend. The whites of her deep brown eyes had yellowed from liver complications. Her family and my own gathered around her bed, which was heaped with spinning-star quilts, and sang hymns whose Pennsylvania Dutch words I did not know, but whose meaning struck my heart with such clarity, tears slid down my cheeks.

One week later, I stood beside her grave, wearing a thick black headband to hide my newly pierced ears with the fake diamond studs that stabbed the tender skin of my neck and gave me a migraine further magnified by jaw-clenching grief. I remember how the somber community huddled around her family as if their physical presence could shield them, not only from the slashing wind and sleet, but from the reality that their dochder and schweschder’s body was about to be placed into the cold, hard ground.

I left for college that summer, almost eighteen years to the day I had been born in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I was the first person in my immediate family to attempt a higher education. As I unpacked my flared Lucky jeans and beaded sweaters into wobbling dorm drawers, I thought I was leaving my Mennonite heritage along with a certain broad-shouldered, hazel-eyed man whose father had attended my father’s Mennonite high school.

Three years, one death, and two lifetimes’ worth of tribulations later, I realized that I had not lost the precious attributes surrounding my Plain heritage, so much as I had needed to go away in order to find myself.

In the cool autumn of 2008, I married my broad-shouldered, hazel-eyed Dutchman; thus making my last name as difficult to spell as my first. I kept wearing my Lucky jeans and layering my wrists with jewelry, but I was also drawn to a simple life, reminiscent of the one I had once tried to flee. My husband and I purchased a forty-acre valley nestled at the base of softly rolling Tennessee mountains.

Upon moving into the haus my husband built with determination and his own two hands, I began to write a fictionalized version of a story that had once been told to me. A story regarding the power of desire and the reverberating cost if that desire is left unchecked; a story that, shockingly enough, took place in an idyllic Old Order Mennonite community.

In Nashville, I was introduced to a genial, white-haired man who was as excited to hear my Dutchy last name as I had been to hear his. He had attended the same Mennonite high school as my father (and my husband’s father) and, as a literary agent, he was interested to read the portion of the story that I had completed.

He read the first twenty-five thousand words while flying home from a book festival in Brazil and wanted to read more. I continued to write as my expectant belly continued to grow. Two months after the birth of our daughter, Tyndale House accepted the manuscript, as they were as excited to promote my modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter as I had been to write it.

And so, wearing Lucky jeans (the same pair, actually), chandelier earrings, and with unkapped hair, I continue writing stories about the Pennsylvania Dutch heritage that once brought me acute embarrassment, but has now become a creative outlet with no closing doors.

Thank you for joining me on this journey. . . .

 

And now for a look at her books:

Have you read Jolina’s latest book: “The Midwife”?

 

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The story about a mother who risks everything to save a child not genetically hers . . .

The Past — Graduate student Beth Winslow was sure she was ready to navigate the challenges of becoming a surrogate. But when early tests indicate possible abnormalities with the baby, Beth is unprepared for the parents’ decision to end the pregnancy — and for the fierce love she feels for this unborn child. Desperate, she flees the city and seeks refuge at Hopen Haus, a home for unwed mothers deep in a Tennessee Mennonite community.

The Present — As head midwife of Hopen Haus, Rhoda Mummau delivers babies with a confident though stoic ease. Except in rare moments, not even those who work alongside her would guess that each newborn cry, each starry-eyed glance from mother to child, nearly renders a fault through Rhoda’s heart, reminding her of a past she has carefully concealed. Past and present collide when a young woman named Amelia arrives in the sweeping countryside bearing secrets of her own. As Amelia’s due date draws near, Rhoda must face her regrets and those she left behind in order for the healing power of love and forgiveness to set them all free.

 

And her premiere novel: “The Outcast-A Modern Retelling of  THE SCARLET LETTER”?

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Raised in an Old Order Mennonite community, Rachel Stoltzfus is a strong-willed single woman, content living apart from mainstream society until whispers stir the moment her belly swells with new life.

Refusing to repent and name the partner in her sin, Rachel feels the wrath of the religious sect as she is shunned by those she loves most. She is eventually coerced into leaving by her brother-in-law, the bishop. But secrets run deep in this cloistered community, and the bishop is hiding some of his own, threatening his conscience and his very soul.

When the life of Rachel’s baby is at stake, however, choices must be made that will bring the darkness to light, forever changing the lives of those who call Copper Creek home.

 

 

 

Jolina Petersheim is a prime example of God moving us along on the path he has set for us.

While it is difficult for us to submit ourselves completely to God’s will, we must remember that He knows what is best for us and His will for us is so much better than anything we could ever imagine for ourselves.

This is one reason we have come together and created this community of friends. We need to support each other and reach out to each other and remind each other that God has a plan for every one of us! We only need to allow that plan to unfold in front of us and take the steps of faith that are so important.

 

God Bless You and Have a GREAT week!