I’ve decided to celebrate fellow author’s releases. These will be clean adult fiction: romance, suspense, and/or inspirational. First up to be interviewed is Emily-Jane Hills Orford with Queen Mary’s Daughter, a historical fiction/fantasy.
“This novel is a masterpiece, written by a great storyteller, one who leads readers into the workings of the hearts of her characters and allows them to explore the conflicts inherent to human nature.” - Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
There are so many possibilities that affect the course of history. One change, one small item overlooked, can make a world of difference, not only in a person's life, but in the history and well-being of an entire nation. And then there are those multiple scenarios of what if? What if King James VI of Scotland didn't succeed in amalgamating Scotland with England? Would Scotland have remained free and independent and a nation of its own well into the twenty-first century? And would Scotland, this independent version, make its own decision to join the European Union when its southern neighbor was choosing to pull away? And, what if there was another heir to the Scottish throne?
In Queen Mary's Daughter (Clean Reads Publisher), author Emily-Jane Hills Orford presents another plausible timeline, one that incorporates both historical fact and fiction with the endless possibilities of time travel.
Where did the idea for this book come from?
First and foremost, my grandmother (Gran). She and I had a special relationship. When I was old enough, we traveled together. One special trip took us to Scotland where we traced Gran’s childhood memories (she was born in Scotland) and we followed the trail of Mary Queen of Scots. We had been enjoying a number of novels and biographies about the ill-fated queen and my grandmother ignited my interest by telling me about ancestors who helped in her escape from Loch Leven Castle.
I always wanted to write about Queen Mary, but it wasn’t until the Brexit debacle and the ongoing desire of the Scottish people to separate from England, that I started looking more closely at the stories around Queen Mary. I knew she had given birth, prematurely, to twins while imprisoned at Loch Leven. History records that the babies died at birth and were buried on the island where the castle sat. An interesting footnote states that the location of the burial and the babies’ remains have never been found. So, I started thinking, ‘what if?’. What if there had been another heir to the Scottish throne and Scotland never did amalgamate with England and Ireland? And my story unfolded.
How long did it take you to write this book?
For the first draft, just over a year. Then came all the editing.
Tell us about your revisions…
It’s a painful process for a writer. We have to be very self-critical and look at our own work from the perspective of our potential readers. Does it flow? Does it make sense? And watch out for all those typos – when we’re writing, fast, there are bound to be typos. Sometimes very humorous typos.
When did you know your manuscript was ready for submission?
After several full edits, I took the plunge and found Clean Reads. I worked with their editors and fine-tuned the manuscript even further.
What happened along the way in your submission process?
I really lucked in with Clean Reads. Queen Mary’s Daughter was only sent out to a couple of publishers before Clean Reads snatched it up. While I awaited the contract, I continued working on other writing projects, including my recently released Middle Grade fantasy novel, Mrs. Murray’s Ghost (TellTale Publishing).
When and how did you get the offer on your book?
Everything was done via email. Which was great. Ten years ago, I was still submitting manuscripts via snail mail, which, when adding the return postage, was becoming expensive. And it took longer to get a response, if I ever did hear back from the publisher.
Tell us about the editorial process…
I had already gone through several edits before sending out the manuscript. Clean Reads has a very intense process. I think I went through three different editors to get the manuscript ready for publications. It was a lengthy process.
Did you get to participate in the cover process?
Not really. But I’m pleased with the cover. It really captures the main character and the Scottish flavor.
How long did it take from offer to having the first copy in your hand or on screen (e-book)?
What marketing are you doing for this book?
I’ve participated in a lot of blog tours, advertising campaigns, seeking book reviews. I almost spend as much time promoting my books as I do writing them.
Anything else you’d like to share about your book’s journey from inspiration to publication?
I learned a lot of interesting details about Scottish (and English) history.
Where can you be found online?
Emily-Jane Hills Orford is an award-winning author of several books. Her recent historical fiction/fantasy novel, Queen Mary’s Daughter, is receiving rave reviews as is her recent Middle Grade fantasy novel, Mrs. Murray’s Ghost. She writes about the extra-ordinary in life, in both creative nonfiction styles and historical fiction/fantasy. A regular book reviewer, the author loves to read almost as much as she loves to write.
Where can your books be purchased?
On Amazon: https://www.amazon.ca/Queen-Marys-Daughter-Emily-Jane-Orford-ebook/dp/B079DMRRR8/
When I travel I like to take “light” fiction with me. By that I mean ones that don’t make me think too hard. I like to download them to my kindle app on my iPad, so I’m also not carrying extra physical weight.
The first one started out so well—set in Africa, viewpoint of a baby rhino, then switched to the people. I loved what the people were doing—saving at-risk animals. But there were sections where something would be shown and then it would be followed up with an unnecessary telling sentence. I don’t want to give an example from the book directly, so I’ll make one up:
Showing: Dark clouds scrolled across the sky and Lydia shivered in the sudden wind. Before she could reach the porch, rain stung her bare arms. A flash of lightening flared, immediately followed by a boom of thunder. Lydia ran up the steps and under cover, but she was already soaked.
Telling: It was a terrific storm.
D.B. Jackson says, “Trusting your reader means, in essence, not slowing your narrative to explain things that don’t need explaining.” (Italics mine.)
The next book. After an intense scene in the viewpoint of the child who is the main character, we hung around too long. She was only four. I remember a few powerful happenings from when I was very young, but not a lot of detail. The excessive detailed memories of a four-year-old made me lose my suspension of disbelief. It needs to be logical or we need to be provided with reasons why it is logical. I really like this post by Dr. Vicki Hinze on “Suspending Disbelief” where she discusses how to do it in your writing.
Later I was in disbelief again when the main character, now a teen, blamed herself for her older brother drowning in the pond. She felt it was her fault because she went off to do something else. Foreshadowing suggested it could have been suicide, but the character never thought anything about that possibility, ever, which would have validated the drowning and her feelings of guilt. I felt as if I’d been lied to. In Anton Chekhov’s famous book of writing advice, he says, “If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired.”
Note: I bought both of these books. I was trying new-to-me authors, and unfortunately they won't be new favorite authors.
So, my reading choices weren’t the most successful, but someone this week recommended the Netflix movie The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society and I loved it! Here’s a link to the trailer. I since discovered it was based on a book, so that’s my next reading choice.
What are you reading and learning from?
I haven't yet had the chance to read The Black Raven, White Dove (Clean Reads, 2017) by Elle Marlow yet, but this Christian inspired adventure romance sounds intriguing. And fun cover, right?
Here's the blurb:
Known as the Ice pirate, Stefan Ice captains the Raven, a wicked ship filled with treasures and haunting secrets. The one thing missing from Raven’s coffers is revenge. The only thing missing from Stefan’s life is love.
Bianca is the jewel in her father's crown. When she is captured and bound on the Raven, she becomes an unwilling pawn in an unknown feud between the dark pirate and her father. With every rock of the ship, Stefan steals her heart and unravels their tangled and tragic past. Bianca will need to rely on her faith and her heart to find God's purpose for her life. Is it with the legendary pirate?
Here's what Elle says about herself:
Hello, everyone! My name is Elle Marlow, and I am thrilled about my latest release, The Black Raven, White Dove. Never, would I have imagined penning an exciting pirate tale. See, I’m known for my western romances which can range from sweet to sizzling. So, when the inspiration came to return to my love of Christ and find a way to speak of it in an unique and fun way, pirates came to mind!
Crazy, right? Well, the way I see it, what a better way to showcase our true growth then through adversity. Bianca and Stefan have plenty to overcome in this romance. And when you’re on the high seas with such a rough crowd as the crew of the Raven, there are multitudes of ways in which to bring about hope and inspiration, and to show that God’s grace is for all—even crusty old pirates.
I had so much fun trying to take my “writer’s voice” to a whole new level with this story. I’m used to the familiar, “Yes, ma’am and howdy,” of my heroic cowboys. But, a good pirate isn’t too different from a good cowboy, I just had to think outside the box and reach outside my comfort zone.
I would love for you to dare to climb aboard the Raven take this, and many other journeys with me. Here is the Amazon link.
However, The Black Raven, White Dove is available where ever all good Ebooks are sold. See all my titles inside my library.
Guest post by Sara R. Turnquist
I’m here today because of my novel, Hope in Cripple Creek. I remember the day it went up for sale in the wee hours of the morning...I know, I was up at 2 a.m. checking on Amazon. It was there. And over the next 36 hours, I had many texts and e-mails from friends and family members congratulating me and wondering what it must be like for an author on book premier day. Or what it must be like to be a writer in general. It's never too late to find out.
Make the time for it. This is the most crucial thing about writing. You must carve out and protect the time. And you must practice writing. Work on short stories. Share them with your significant other and close loved ones who won't judge you but will give you some good feedback. If you don't have a clue what to write about, search for "writing prompts" and get ideas that way.
Join a Writing Group. Find a critique group that meets regularly. Preferably one that is led by a published author. And gather enough courage to participate by bringing in scenes or short stories to share with the group and open yourself for helpful critique. That is the only way to improve...by allowing iron to sharpen iron.
Go to a conference...or several. Conferences are like crash courses for writers and then some. You get to sit in on sessions about the craft of writing and you have the opportunity (in most cases) to pitch to an agent or editor or mentor. This is a rather unique experience and one I would encourage you to take every advantage of. Even if you don't feel ready. Make it a Q&A session or a practice session to ease into the idea of pitching. You can find a whole plethora of conferences here: http://www.westbowpress.com/authorhub/resources/events/default.aspx
Take an online class. I made the decision to join a national writing organization. I joined the ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) and they host a monthly online class that I participate in. It is perfect for me. They focus on a different topic each month and there are one to two lessons a week (not overwhelming, but just enough to keep the juices flowing). It keeps me on my toes.
Look for other opportunities to learn/network/connect. My critique group hosts workshops every few months that I participate in. I also joined a local chapter of the ACFW, which meets monthly. Additionally, I do what I can to interact with other authors via social media whether they are other authors that work with my publisher or other authors in the ACFW (they even have a Facebook group for several different genres, so I can connect with ACFW authors in my genre).
I believe that there are people born with certain talents and aptitudes. So, some people have more of a bend toward writing than others, and even some have more passion for it than others (and passion counts for a lot). But no matter your aptitude, natural talent, or passion, there is always room for growth and learning when it comes to the craft of writing.
Sara R. Turnquist Bio
Sara is originally from Middle Tennessee where she currently resides with her family. Graduating with a B.S. in Biology, she first pursued a career in the field of Zoo Education. She also enjoyed a short stint working in the field of Sleep Medicine. However, her great love of the written word drew her to write. She is an avid reader and enjoys reading and writing clean Historical Romance. Her travels have also served to inspire her writing. Sara is the author of The Lady Bornekova, The General’s Wife, Off to War, and Hope in Cripple Creek. She is also a member of ACFW. Website: http://saraturnquist.com
Hope in Cripple Creek
Tragedy strikes Katherine Matthews and the small town of Cripple Creek, Colorado. An epidemic teams her with an old enemy, Wyatt Sullivan, the town’s doctor. In the midst of desperation and death, Katherine has decisions to make. But she has no idea to what extent they will affect her daily life and livelihood.
The town is turned upside-down when the gold miners go on strike. The owners bring in outside reinforcements, ready to break the resolve of the Western Federation of Miners. Everything in an upheaval, Katherine faces a crisis of faith and hard choices. Will life ever be normal again?
I loved Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay! Found the book very difficult to put down--like in only set it down twice...
Sam (Samantha Moore) has been offered a scholarship to a prestigious graduate school on the condition she writes letters to her anonymous benefactor. Her letters to Mr. Knightley become more diary than letters as Sam works on demons from her own past and tries to quit hiding behind the fictional characters she loves (Lizzie Bennet, Jane Eyre, Edmond Dantes). She's also struggling to write well enough to meet the expectations of Professor Johnson, who's won multiple Pulitzers.
There's romance, mystery, and inspiration, too. The book came out in 2013 from Thomas Nelson. Visiting the author's website, I'm thrilled to see she has three more books out since this debut!
If you're a Jane Austen fan, you'll definitely want to read this book!
SM Ford writes inspirational fiction for adults, although teens may find the stories of interest, too. She also loves assisting other writers on their journeys.