WELCOME AUTHOR BRENDA H. COX
FEATURED BOOK: Tethered: The Life of Henrietta Hall Shuck, The First American Woman Missionary to China
AUTHOR’S NAME: Brenda H. Cox
PUBLISHER: CrossLink Publishers
GENRE: Creative biography / Historical fiction
STAND ALONE OR SERIES: stand alone
TARGET AGE: adult
IT IS MY PLEASURE TO WELCOME AUTHOR BRENDA H. COX TO THE OVER 50 WRITER. BRENDA SHARES WHY HER FIRST BOOK CAME INTO EXISTENCE AND GIVES US A GLIMPSE INTO THE FASCINATING SUBJECT OF THIS CREATIVE BIOGRAPHY.
BRENDA IS OFFERING A GIVEAWAY! SIMPLY LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW TO ENTER THE DRAWING FOR A COPY OF TETHERED.
A STORY THAT NEEDED TO BE TOLD
Brenda H. Cox
I received my first social security check after a 43-year career as an educator, and it shocked me. It was official. My career was over. I was retired. I was done. I was happy to babysit my two precious grandsons three days a week with my husband, and I enjoyed the adult contact in worship on Sundays, but there were three more days in the week to be productive. I had taught writing and taught teachers how to teach writing for my entire life, but when my husband suggested I write a book myself, I hesitated, thinking no one would want to read anything I had to say.
And then I remembered what I had told my students all those years: “Don’t tell me you don’t know what to write about. Everyone has a life; therefore, you have stories to tell. Everyone has opinions; therefore, you have an argument to craft.” I realized I wasn’t too old to tell my stories or craft my opinions and that I still had a voice. My strength as a writer had always been in argument or non-fiction, and my husband thought I should write an academic book and make a few bucks to put toward a new Corvette. He still thinks I should do that.
However, I challenged myself to tell the story of his third great grandmother, Henrietta Hall Shuck, in a creative biography/historical fiction piece. I can’t even decide what genre it is exactly, except that I believe her life story as the first American woman missionary to China will be a blessing to others and that I have been blessed beyond measure in writing it. As a Christian, my faith has been refined and strengthened in telling about the obstacles she and her husband endured traveling 19,000 miles on the ocean and visiting missionaries in Calcutta, Bangkok, Penang, and Singapore where she has her first child.
After encountering pirates, they reach Macau where they endure illness, poverty, and challenges from their own foreign mission board as they navigate the dangers posed by the First Opium War. When they think they may have to leave Macao, their fortunes miraculously reverse and they are asked to come to Hong Kong where they establish the first Protestant (Baptist) mission in China. Henrietta becomes the first Western woman to reside in Hong Kong, the first to educate Chinese girls, and the first American woman missionary to China. Her perseverance through trials modern Christians can hardly fathom and her trust in God’s providence for her life serve as inspiration for those today who find themselves in difficult circumstances.
As a writer, I have been emboldened to write another piece, again creative and not likely to finance Jim’s Corvette, but never think it is too late to begin a career as a writer. Not one of us is guaranteed another day whether we are twenty-six or sixty-two, so write your stories while you can whether you have three days a week or six. Compose on your laptop, or on a yellow legal pad, or on a Blue Horse notebook – whatever works for you.
What’s more, you have wisdom to offer that has been seasoned by experiences and insights through the years. Approaching publishers and agents is a daunting enterprise, and social media marketing has a steep learning curve, but if you have lived for more than fifty years, you have learned new things and overcome many obstacles that you can draw on for courage to attempt a writing career.
Book Cover Blurb for Tethered:
Tethered begins in 1835 as Henrietta and Jehu Lewis Shuck set off on an arduous 19,000 mile voyage from Virginia to China to establish the first Baptist mission in the “Celestial Kingdom.” In Tethered, Henrietta holds onto a leather strap nailed to the railing of their ship to keep from falling overboard, but her life is also tethered to her husband, to their mission board, and to God as she seeks to educate young girls whose lives were bound in centuries of traditions as brutal as the ligatures that bound their feet.
On their voyage they encounter a ship of convicts headed to Australia, British missionaries returning home from Ceylon, a whaler butchering her catch, and a slave ship that shatters Henrietta’s illusions of her genteel life in Virginia. During their visits with established missionaries in Calcutta, Burma, and Singapore they gain valuable insights that will help to prepare them for the challenges they will meet in Macau all the while developing a deeper relationship with each other.
The young couple’s marriage grows from a mission’s partnership to genuine love and is marked by humor and unflinching determination to minister to the poor despite illness, poverty, robbers, and opposition from the mission board at home in the volatile years of conflict in the First Opium War. By the end of her story, she has come to a full faith relationship with God and has become an icon in Baptist missions for American and Chinese Christians across two centuries.
Amazon buy link
DON’T FORGET TO LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE PLACED IN THE DRAWING TO WIN A COPY OF TETHERED BETWEEN NOW AND SUNDAY, OCTOBER 1ST AT MIDNIGHT MDT.
Brenda H. Cox is a life-long English educator at the high school and university levels. She earned a BA at The University of South Carolina, an MAT from The Citadel, and a PhD at The University of Georgia where she served as the Assistant Director of the Freshman English Program. She was affiliated with the National Writing Project site at Clemson University where she led the Writing in the Humanities Institute and is a member of the North Carolina Writers’ Network.
She has taught numerous writing workshops and delivered papers at state and national conferences and directed The Young Writers Conference at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she was an Assistant Professor of English Education. She has published articles in English leadership and in 18th century rhetoric.
In addition, she has served as a writing consultant in numerous school systems in the Southeast and in the American and International Schools in Kuwait. She also served as a Reader of Advanced Placement exams for The College Board, and her students have won numerous local, state, and national awards in writing. Brenda lives in Greensboro, NC and is married to Jim Cox. They have one son and daughter in-law and two perfect grandsons.
Connecct with Brenda online
WELCOME AUTHOR MICHELLE GRIEP
FEATURED BOOK: 12 Days at Bleakly Manor
AUTHOR: Michelle Griep
PUBLISHER: Shiloh Run
GENRE: Historical Romance
SERIES OR STAND ALONE: Series
TARGET AGE: 18-80
IT IS MY PLEASURE TO WELCOME AUTHOR MICHELLE GRIEP TO THE OVER 50 WRITER. MICHELLE SHARES SOME PRACTICAL TIPS FOR WRITERS TO TAKE THEIR WORK TO THE NEXT LEVEL, WHETHER SEASONED AUTHOR OR FLEDGLING NEWBIE.
MICHELLE IS OFFERING A GIVEAWAY! SIMPLY LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW TO ENTER THE DRAWING FOR A COPY OF 12 DAYS AT BLEAKLY MANOR.
NEW TRICKS FOR OLD DOG WRITERS
It’s never too late for you to up your game when it comes to writing. There are always ways to improve your craft, whether you’re new to the writing scene or, like me, have been around the writerly block a few hundred times. Here are some surefire tricks to take your writing to the next level.
Cut the verbosity.
In the words of bestselling author John Grisham:
“There are three types of words:
- words we know
- words we should know
- words nobody knows
Forget those in the third category and use restraint with those in the second.”
As authors, it’s easy to escape into storyland and over-write a scene using thousand-dollar words. Keep mind the KISS principle (keep it simple stupid) to keep your reader in that story world instead of scratching their head about what you’re trying to say.
Playing it safe with content makes for one yawner of a story. Take your characters to the hard places, tackling messy issues, because you better believe that’s where your readers live every day of their lives.
And speaking of characters, make each one full-bodied and complex. A villain can’t be all bad. Give him a quirk that will endear him to your readers. I know. That sounds counterintuitive, but it will make your reader really love to hate him because they’ll connect with him on an emotional level.
The flip side of that, of course, is to give your hero a flaw. Nobody’s perfect so he shouldn’t be either.
Tweak writing you admire.
Pablo Picasso is credited with saying, “Good artists copy; great artists steal.” Obviously, you don’t want to do time in the big house for plagiarism, but let’s dissect what ol’ Pablo is saying here. If you find a piece of great writing, see a sentence that makes you weep because it’s just that good, then take those words and play around with them. Use the concept and make the words your own. Tweak that good writing and make it great.
Incorporate any one of these three tips in your next piece of writing (or all three) to take your writing to the next level.
Blurb for 12 Days at Bleakly Manor
A mysterious invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home may bring danger...and love?
England, 1851: When Clara Chapman receives an intriguing invitation to spend Christmas at an English manor home, she is hesitant yet feels compelled to attend—for if she remains the duration of the twelve-day celebration, she is promised a sum of five hundred pounds.
But is she walking into danger? It appears so, especially when she comes face to face with one of the other guests—her former fiancé, Benjamin Lane.
Imprisoned unjustly, Ben wants revenge on whoever stole his honor. When he’s given the chance to gain his freedom, he jumps at it—and is faced with the anger of the woman he stood up at the altar. Brought together under mysterious circumstances, Clara and Ben discover that what they’ve been striving for isn’t what ultimately matters.
What matters most is what Christmas is all about . . . love.
Pour a cup of tea and settle in for Book 1 of the Once Upon a Dickens Christmas series--a page-turning Victorian-era holiday tale--by Michelle Griep, a reader and critic favorite.
Amazon buy link
DON’T FORGET TO LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE PLACED IN THE DRAWING TO WIN A COPY OF 12 DAYS AT BLEAKLY MANOR BETWEEN NOW AND SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 24TH AT MIDNIGHT MDT.
Michelle Griep has been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She is the author of historical romances: The Captured Bride, The Innkeeper’s Daughter, 12 Days at Bleakly Manor, The Captive Heart, Brentwood’s Ward, A Heart Deceived, and Gallimore, but also leaped the historical fence into the realm of contemporary with the zany romantic mystery Out of the Frying Pan. If you’d like to keep up with her escapades, find her at her website or stalk her online:
WELCOME AUTHOR JEANETTE WINDLE
FEATURED BOOK: All Saints
AUTHOR’S NAME: Jeanette Windle, Rev. Michael Spurlock
PUBLISHER: Bethany House Publishers
GENRE: Non-fiction True Story
STAND ALONE OR SERIES: Stand Alone
TARGET AGE: General Audience
IT IS MY PLEASURE TO WELCOME AUTHOR JEANETTE WINDLE TO THE OVER 50 WRITER. JEANETTE SHARES THE STORY BEHIND THE STORY OF ALL SAINTS, NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE.
Jeanette Windle’s latest book release, All Saints, is the inspiring true story of Karen Christian war refugees from Myanmar, a dying Tennessee church, and the miracle God wrought in bringing them together. The book accompanies the Sony Affirm movie by the same name, which released nationwide August 25th, nationwide. Affirm is Sony’s Inspirational branch that has released such movies as Courageous, Fireproof, War Room, Miracles From Heaven. Check out the movie trailer and nationwide list of theaters showing the movie.
The story centers on newly-ordained Michael Spurlock (played by John Corbett in the movie), whose first assignment was to pastor a Smyrna, TN, congregation of less than 25 remaining members while negotiating the sale of land and closing of church in order to pay off a crushing mortgage debt of almost a million dollars. Enter 75 Karen war refugees, mostly farmers in their own country, seeking a new start in America. What could one insolvent church about to close its own doors possibly do to help? Then God gently reminded Michael he’d not only provided All Saints with land, but just sent them experienced farmers. The ensuing quest to save All Saints and help the Karen holds all the drama, outright miracles, and roller-coaster ups and downs any action plot could ask for. In the end, it was not All Saints that helped the Karen nor the Karen who saved a dying church, but the coming together of the body of Christ from opposite sides of the planet into one community under God that became the salvation of both and the true ultimate miracle of All Saints.
Jeanette shares why she felt called to write this story: As a missionary kid growing up on the mission field in Colombia, I read the biography of Adoniram Judson, the first overseas missionary from North America, whose first Christian converts were in turn the Karen people of Myanmar (then Burma). Most fascinating were the tribal stories of the Karen themselves, which centered around an all-powerful Creator named Y’Wa, who like the biblical Yahweh placed the first man and woman in a beautiful garden. There they were tempted to eat forbidden fruit, thereby bringing sin and death into the world, by the Corruptor, who had once served Y’Wa, but been cast from Y’Wa’s presence for disobedience. Along with other biblical stories, Karen legend even spoke of a holy book, taken from the Karen but one day would be returned, leading the Karen to a better future and freedom.
While not all Karen became Christian, a large percentage did. I had followed the story of the Karen, from their courageous role in fighting for the Allies during WW2 to the genocide unleased on them when Japan’s puppet regime took control after the Allies pulled out, as well as their stubborn war of resistance and refusal to renounce their Christian faith. By the 1990s, an estimated half-million were displaced or living in refugee camps, mostly in Thailand. When I received a call from Bethany House Publishers, asking me to write the story of Rev. Michael Spurlock, All Saints, and a group of Karen Christian refugees now living in the United States, I was delighted and excited to investigate and write this story.
What I ended up discovering was far more than a simple story of refugees receiving a welcome by a Tennessee church. The stories of Ye Win, Father Bu Christ, and other Karen, the impact of the Karen’s faith on this Tennessee community and church, the journey to faith and ministry of Rev. Michael himself and his wife Aimee, the miraculous workings of God, even through tragedy and loss, in ways too implausible for any fiction plot, and the coming together of a community of faith that continues to impact lives to this day deeply touched my own heart and life even as I strove to capture this story in words.
What I found also inspiring and exciting is going back to North America’s first overseas missionary Adoniram Judson, whose ministry brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Karen. A ministry that has come full-circle with the Karen coming to North America and blessing our nation in turn with their faith and testimony of courage and steadfastness under brutal persecution.
I count it a great privilege to have been part of telling this story and even more so the ongoing relationships with members of All Saints, Karen and Anglo. As I’ve followed one after another of the Karen in Smyrna receiving their American citizenship, including Ye Win’s own wife just this past month, I am also reminded that we are privileged as a nation to have such people as new citizens of our country, the latest in a long heritage of refugees and immigrants adding to the strength of our nation.
I cannot recommend enough the message of this story, both in movie and book, for the body of Christ in North America and globally, but for all of us as human beings called to show compassion, love, and welcome to the stranger among us and to provide sanctuary to the orphan, widow, war-torn, hurting, and displaced, above all, those whom God brings by his own great love and mercy to our very doorsteps.
Jeanette Windle, an award-winning novelist and investigative journalist, has lived in six countries and traveled in thirty-five-plus. Those experiences birthed 16 fiction titles, including bestselling Veiled Freedom (ECPA Christian Book Award/Christy Award finalist) and Freedom's Stand, (ECPA Christian Book Award/Carol Award finalist), and such non-fiction titles as ECPA Christian Book Award/Christian Retailing Best Awards finalist Forgiven: The Amish Schoolhouse Shooting, a Mother’s Love, and a Story of Remarkable Grace and All Saints. Visit Jeanette’s website.
Reverend Michael Spurlock served All Saints Episcopal Church in Smyrna, Tennessee, for three years. He is currently on the clergy staff at Saint Thomas Church Fifth Avenue, NYC.
WELCOME AUTHOR SUZANNE J. BRATCHER
FEATURED BOOK: The Copper Box
AUTHOR: Suzanne J. Bratcher
PUBLISHER: Mantle Rock Publishing
SERIES OR STAND ALONE: 1st book of a series
TARGET AGE: adult
IT IS MY PLEASURE TO WELCOME AUTHOR SUZANNE BRATCHER TO THE OVER 50 WRITER. SUZANNE SHARES THE LATEST PHASE OF HER LONG WRITiNG CAREER.
SUZANNE IS OFFERING A GIVEAWAY! SIMPLY LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW TO ENTER THE DRAWING FOR AN EBOOK COPY OF THE COPPER BOX.
A NEW CHAPTER
Suzanne J. Bratcher
Two months ago, shortly after my sixty-eighth birthday, I opened a box and took out a copy of my first published novel. The Copper Box is a mystery shot with suspense and sprinkled with romance. I was at the beginning of the career I decided on sixty years ago.
When I was a third-grader, I read a child's biography of Louisa May Alcott. In the pages of that little blue book, I caught a glimpse of who I knew I was meant to be. I decided when I grew up I would write books like Little Women. A few years later I discovered Agatha Christie and decided to write mysteries. When I was in high school I began reading Mary Stewart. I changed my goal to writing romantic suspense. In college I majored in English and decided I wanted to write literary fiction like Flannery O’Connor or Carson McCullers. Though the specifics changed as I was growing up, my life goal stayed constant: I wanted to be a fiction writer.
But life didn’t cooperate. It pulled and pushed me in all sorts of directions. When I graduated from college, I was faced with the need to support myself. The best income a beginning writer could expect was ten cents a word for a short story, clearly not enough to live on. I didn’t come from a wealthy family like Annie Dillard. I didn’t have a spouse dedicated to supporting me while I became a writer like Ray Bradbury. Promising myself I would write on weekends and in summers, I accepted a job teaching junior high English.
Two years later, having discovered I was spectacularly unsuited to teaching exuberant pre-teens, I was in graduate school working on a degree that would prepare me to teach high school remedial reading. Three years later I returned to graduate school, this time to earn a Ph.D. so I could teach at the college level. (Maybe you’ve spotted the pattern: the older the students, the better I did.) When I was able to leave teaching and focus on my writing, thirty-eight years had passed.
But as I looked back over those years, I made a surprising discovery: writing wasn’t something new I was starting; writing ran through everything I’d done during those many years. It ran through my professional life. Though my first teaching job was language arts and my next one remedial reading, by the time I made my way into the university, I was a writing specialist. For almost thirty years I taught a wide variety of writing classes: freshman composition, technical writing, creative writing, even writing-across-the-curriculum. When I was required to publish professionally, I wrote two textbooks about how to teach writing.
Writing ran through my personal life as well. When I was a young wife and mother, I composed poetry in my head and jotted it down in stolen moments. When my marriage ended in divorce, poems became tiny lights that helped me find my way through a long dark stretch. Eventually I collected those poems into a chapbook I self-published. When I lost custody of my daughter, I took a correspondence course in writing for children. Inventing stories for my daughter kept me in touch with her. A few of those stories even found their way into print. In the middle years I published a handful of short stories and poems. I kept my dream of one day writing novels alive by studying the techniques of my favorite authors, attending fiction conferences, and plotting mysteries I rarely completed.
I’m sixty-eight with one published novel, but I’m not at the beginning of the career I dreamed of. I’m simply opening a new chapter of a life filled with writing.
Book Blurb for The Copper Box
Jerome, Arizona: the largest ghost town in America. Antiques expert Marty Greenlaw comes to Jerome to face the horror that haunts her dreams: Did she kill her little sister twenty-two years ago? Historian Paul Russell is there to face his own horror: Was the car crash that killed his wife his fault? Their lives become intertwined when an old lady dies on a long staircase in a vintage Victorian house. As Marty and Paul search the house for a small copper box Marty believes will unlock her memory, accidents begin to happen. Someone else wants the copper box, someone willing to commit murder to get it. As Marty and Paul face the shadows in the house and in their lives, they must learn to put the past behind them and run the race God is calling them to.
DON’T FORGET TO LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE PLACED IN THE DRAWING TO WIN A COPY OF THE COPPER BOX BETWEEN NOW AND SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 3RD AT MIDNIGHT MDT.
A preacher’s kid, Suzanne Bratcher grew up in churches in four states. A passionate reader, she began writing as a young girl. After graduating from Baylor University, Suzanne became a writing teacher. Over the course of her career, she taught high schoolers, college undergraduates, and public school teachers. Suzanne continued to write: publishing professional articles, two textbooks, short stories, and poetry. The Copper Box, a mystery shot with suspense and sprinkled with romance, is her debut novel. It is available in eBook and paperback at Amazon.com.
Connect with Suzanne online at:
WELCOME AUTHOR LYNNE TAGAWA
FEATURED BOOK: A Twisted Strand
AUTHOR’S NAME: Lynne Tagawa
PUBLISHER: Amazon kindle / CreateSpace
GENRE: Christian Medical Romantic Suspense
STAND ALONE OR SERIES: my husband wants a series LOL
TARGET AGE: adult G rated but references adultery
IT IS MY PLEASURE TO WELCOME AUTHOR LYNNE TAGAWA TO THE OVER 50 WRITER. LYNNE SHARES A LOOK BACK AT THE STEPS IT TOOK TO REALIZE THE DREAM OF HER FIRST PUBLISHED NOVEL.
LYNNE IS OFFERING A GIVEAWAY! SIMPLY LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW TO ENTER THE DRAWING FOR A PAPERBACK OR EBOOK COPY OF A TWISTED STRAND
TAKING A DEEP BREATH
I’m taking a deep breath. Relaxing. My debut novel, A Twisted Strand, is already out on kindle, and the CreateSpace physical version is just now finished.
All that work! Writing, editing, rewriting, submitting chapters for critique, editing some more, second-guessing myself, wondering if it was all worth it, and finally entering the painful homestretch of formatting and publishing. All done!
This novel started with a question: what would happen if a genetically engineered virus got loose where I live in South Texas? I also had a desire to communicate gospel truth in my story, specifically, the relationship of the Law of Moses to the gospel. I’d read “theological novels” before, and thought maybe I could do something a bit less rigorous but still manage to be helpful.
The first draft was fairly easy. For a while. Then I got stuck, because I knew nothing of story structure. I joined ACFW and read some books on writing. I never did manage an outline, but drew a flowchart instead, thinking that if I called myself a “writer,” I deserved some idiosyncrasies.
Then my husband got involved. He gave me a deadline—miss it and pay up with a Starbucks’ latte. That helped too. By the way, he got his latte, but I almost made it!
It took a full year after that to get to actual publication. I suppose some authors crank out long novels every year because that’s all they do. Most of us have other stuff on our plates. I teach part-time. Plus, I decided to take the time to get my story professionally critiqued, read by a “beta” reader, and then dissected chapter by chapter in an ACFW’s writers’ group. I felt as though I were in school. College, that is. It began to get taxing and even painful. I longed to finish.
Sometimes I wondered at the advice I received. Much was excellent. But in the end, I had to go with my gut, so to speak. I think if I were to give advice to a writer just starting out, I would say, “Be teachable. Be willing to learn. But in the end, remember, it’s your own voice and creation.”
I’m finding that writing is both public and private. The goal isn’t really self-expression, not for a Christian. We are governed by Christ in all we say and do. We are communicating a message to an audience, even if it’s couched as “entertainment.” But it’s private too. Our choice of topic, our style, and every other decision, large or small, are individualistic. Personal.
I chose to write about a virus because that’s what I know. I’m a biology teacher by training, and I’ve read almost everything Michael Crichton has written. I also enjoy history, and my current manuscript is historical fiction. So that’s me and my little niche. Yours will be different.
Back Cover Copy for A Twisted Strand
“Rachel froze. Buttercup lay motionless, and blood leaked from her nostrils. . . .”
After a painful divorce, Rachel Davis is ready to enjoy her new South Texas country home, raise her kids, and find some peace. Can she find the secret to making her heart whole again?
William Davis, MD, would do anything to take back his horrible mistake, but infidelity is more than his wife can forgive. He goes home to an empty house in Austin each night, trying his best to be a good dad from afar.
When Rachel discovers their Jersey heifer dead from a hemorrhagic fever, she quickly realizes that the disease may spread to humans. Working for an epidemiologist, she joins the investigation. The family vet sickens, and Will enters the battle against this mysterious virus. Is it natural? Or is it terrorism?
Estranged from God and from each other, Rachel and Will encounter the truth of the gospel and struggle to make sense of it. Is there hope? And is there hope for their relationship?
DON’T FORGET TO LEAVE A COMMENT TO BE PLACED IN THE DRAWING TO WIN A COPY OF A TWISTED STRANG BETWEEN NOW AND WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 13TH AT MIDNIGHT MDT.
Lynne Tagawa is married with four grown sons and three marvelous grandbabies. A biology teacher by trade, she teaches part-time, writes, and edits. She’s written a Texas history curriculum in narrative form, Sam Houston’s Republic, and has just published her debut novel, A Twisted Strand. Lynne lives with her husband in South Texas.
Connect with Lynne online: