Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Glimpse of the Real Me

Do you ever wonder what people think? I mean REALLY think?


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Renee Blare

messy-room
The Mess
You tell people what you do. But does it register? Will they remember? Or does it slide in one ear and out the other…like a mother’s request for her kid to clean his room?

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Renee

I mean, take me for example…I’m a pharmacist. That’s not a surprise for people in my neck of the woods. After all, they see me in my white jacket from the post office to the grocery store. And I help them at the pharmacy on more occasions than I can count. Since I’ve been in the field for eighteen years, I can say I’ve earned every gray strand I attempt to hide with my local store's cheap hair color.



I love my customers, but I have to admit, I’m relieved to close the doors some days. Why?

As much as I like my career, I’m not a robot. I bleed—a fact people forget.

What do I do when the grind at the counter's over? I go home…and write. You heard me right! I write. Well, after snuggling with my wonderful hubby...I do miss him after working all day.

Oh, and did I mention this thing?
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Cooper, the Water Dog

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Poco, the Saint
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Shasta, the Tiger
He’s the live-wire of the house…a ten-month-old Labrador retriever named Cooper. Poco, our elderly cocker spaniel, and Shasta, my cat, tolerate him. I’ve actually caught them glancing at each other and rolling their eyes as if saying, “Him again?”

Of course, I could be doing it as well. The dog’s a menace. Hey folks, don’t tell James I said that. He adores his new pup.

Back to the books…yes, I’m an author. It’s my second job and one I love with all my heart. It’s quite the balancing act, though...and oh, yeah, it’s NOT a hobby.



Beast of Stratton by Renee Blare
My debut book


Did I say that too vehemently? Sorry, but I get a little hot under the collar when I hear that word. Even if it's in my own mind. After all, I write for the same reason I'm a pharmacist. Dedication, education, and devotion to a higher purpose. I work hard at it. It’s my job. Above all? I have a burning desire to help people. Don’t belittle it. I wouldn’t do it to you.

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Oath of a Pharmacist

If I had an Oath of a Writer, I'd have it hanging right next to my Pharmacist's Oath on my office wall. Okay, I'll step off the soapbox now.

Balancing two jobs can be mighty challenging. Dust tends to accumulate on the furniture in inches. Of course, Wyoming isn’t exactly conducive to a sparkling clean house. It’s dry…really dry. You sneeze and dirt floats in the air. Although it has been a wet spring. My asthma hasn’t stabilized for months. (Then again, maybe I’m just lazy.)

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Renee's Trinkets

But I've figured this cleaning gig out! Locked cabinets. I keep my favorite trinkets locked away from the elements. Less dusting that way. Life’s too short to worry about a little grime.

Grand Teton
Grand Teton
blare-family
The Blare's
You see, I love my life. I live in a gorgeous state. I have a terrific family who supports me…even while I work two jobs and spend most of my "spare" time buried in a computer.



But there’s one more thing...do you remember when I told you that I’m a pharmacist? And then I said I’m an author? Which one impressed you the most? What if I told you I’m a Christian?


Not just a passive-aggressive bench-warmer, but a creation-believing, soul-searching, Bible-marking, in-your-face follower of Christ. Yes, one of those exists in the medical field. And you're looking at her. Do I hear a collective gasp?

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Study Bible

As a pharmacist, I wear my white coat and serve those in need with the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ as my Guide and Deliverer. As an author? I pen His amazing message of hope, grace, and strength in tales of suspense, mystery, and romance.

I'm a testament to the fact that He’s always with us, even when we don't see, hear, or feel Him.

cross-renee
Cross

My deepest prayer will always be...that you know Him to His fullest. Believe me when I say, it's an awesome thing.

May you walk hand in hand with the One who gives life to the lifeless, joy to the miserable, and peace to the tortured.

In Christ,
Renee

Sunday, May 24, 2015

A Review: Hidden Storms by Nancy Shew Bolton

Hidden Storms


 A Tale of the Ugly Duckling by Nancy Shew Bolton


(See Giveaway Details following the Review)

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Nancy Shew Bolton's Hidden Storms:


Lilli Clarke. They call her the marked girl. Beginning at her left shoulder, a pink birthmark tracks up her throat just past her jaw, like a finger pointing to her brain. Abandoned by her family, she is ostracized by everyone but her grandmother and cousin Bert, Six years of dust storms have left sixteen-year-old Lilli close to death with dust pneumonia. Now she must leave the only real home she’s ever had, or risk death when the next storm hits.

Lilli is sent to her aunt and cousins in Florida to recover. The possibility of a different life presents itself, yet circumstances snatch it away, and she flees to New York City. Unable to find a safe place, she yearns for the storm ravaged home she left. All doors appear to be closed to her, and she resigns herself to the lonely fate of a marked girl. Once again, she is close to death, this time with no one to help her. Will this storm prevail, or is there a new answer for Lilli?


The Review of Hidden Storms:


A powerful reminder that prejudice preys on more than ethnicity or societal class or position. It lands on the head of anyone for any reason…if they’re different.

Such is the fate of Lilli Clarke from the moment she’s born. She’s not like others in her family or town. She’s different. People fear the mark stretching from her shoulder to her jaw. They call her cursed…evil and won’t meet her gaze. Despair beats at her like the dust eating away her lungs. And when she’s shipped away from all she’s ever known, instead of hope, Lilli finds more of the same…intolerance, revulsion, and fear.

Nancy Shew Bolton orchestrates a gripping tale of painful discovery as Lilli fights through a world of bias and dread. She turns each corner on her journey only to find her path dissolve into pieces…until she stumbles into a church. For the first time, light enters her life and a new journey begins…toward home and love.

A spin of the Ugly Duckling, Ms. Bolton adapts the fairy tale to the Dust Bowl of the 1930’s and captures the reader with her superb first person, present tense and lyrical prose. I give Hidden Storms five stars.



Giveaway!

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What do you think about the Dust Bowl of the 1930's?

Do you have a favorite fairy tale you'd like to see turned into a new book?

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One winner selected by random drawing on 5/31/2015
(5 comments required to validate giveaway.)



nancy-bolton-author
Nancy S Bolton

The Journey of Nancy Shew Bolton:

Nancy Shew Bolton is a wife of 41 years, mother of five grown sons, and grandmother to a boy and girl. Ever since she learned to write, she would jot down her thoughts and impressions in little snippets of inspiration in the form of poetry, song lyrics, or short essays. About six years ago, she decided to try her hand at writing a full length book. She's since written five works of fiction, two non-fiction, and is working on an idea for a children's book, as well as more fiction manuscripts.

Writing a full-length work is much more challenging than she thought, and she has received so much valuable assistance from other writers, especially from the ACFW critique groups. Her husband has been supportive of her long hours spent at the keyboard. Many thanks to her beloved Johnny! And now she's under contract with Prism Book Group with a novel set to be released in September 2014! What a journey!

Nancy loves to write character-driven stories about relationships of love and faith, since she is fascinated by the complexities within this emotional terrain. She thanks God and His Son for her life, her loved ones and the spark of creativity inside every person. She believes each person is a unique creation, with their own special voice and place in this amazing universe. God's handiwork amazes her every day!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

The Coffee Corner Welcomes Rachel James from Across the Pond!

The Coffee Corner on Inspirational Moments


Welcome back to the Coffee Corner, everyone!

I have a special treat from across the pond! Rachel James joins us with her new book, The Last Princess of Meigen. That's right, the one due out this week! So grab a cup of tea and settle in...here we go...



RB: Hi, Rachel, I'm so glad you're here. What can you tell us about your new book, The Last Princess of Meigen?
RJ: The Last Princess of Meigen, is the sequel to The Forgotten Princess of Elmetia. It’s an inspirational medieval romance, set in the 7th century when the tiny British kingdoms were gradually lost to Anglo-Saxon invaders. Elmetia and Meigen were real kingdoms located in what would become Yorkshire. There is not a lot known about this period of history, and even less known the Kingdom of Meigen.

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The Last Princess of Meigen

RB: Wow! The Last Princess of Meigen sounds awesome. And what a cool time in history! How do you decide what to write about and when do you do your research?
RJ: I begin the process by researching. I look into the history of a certain time period, in this case, 7th century Britain. As I find out about the tales and stories of that time, and glean information about historical events, I get my writing inspiration, and then start to work on a brief story outline. I research some more, finalize my outline, and then get writing. I find though, that my research is ongoing throughout the writing process. The more I learn, the more I realize need to know more!

RB: With it being a historical romance (and Christian, of course), how do you pick your character names?

RJ: I use this really clever tool in Scrivener (writing software), called the name generator. Using this simple feature, I can ask the widget to generate me a list of names, based on its origin. This is so handy when writing for the 7th century, as I can select names that have an Anglo-Saxon origin, or Celtic, or even Arthurian. Once I have a list of names, I shortlist a few that appeal to me. I like to go for ones that are easy to read/relate to, like Teagen and Alena (as opposed to names like Ethelburga!) From my shortlist, I look at the meanings, and select a name that sums up a person’s character. So for Sherwin, his name means ‘quick as the wind’, and as he is a nimble archer, I thought this would be perfect. Alena means light / fair.  I use the meaning of each name, to remind me of that person’s character. It helps me focus on what kind of person they are going to be.

RB: We know you're from across the pond...England. But writers can't being much different there than in the good ol' USofA, right? How long have you been writing and why did you start?

RJ: I’ve always loved writing, it was my favorite subject at school, without a doubt. But along the way of searching for viable career options, getting married and starting a family, the idea of writing professionally got pushed to the side. It was when I hit 30 that I started to contemplate the goals in life. I’d never pursued my dream of writing like I’d always imagined I would. At that time, I was studying toward a business degree, and I’d had enough of crunching numbers analyzing business strategies. I had the option of choosing a minor subject, and so opted for creative writing. Well, that was a wake-up call. It was like I’d forgotten about doing the thing that I truly loved. Studying creative writing not only gave me the tools I needed to begin writing novels, it gave me the confidence, that with hard work and dedication, my dream was entirely possible. The moment I started writing The Forgotten Princess of Elmetia, I knew I was hooked for life. That was two years ago, and I’ve been writing ever since.

RB: I'd have to say you're a writer in the best definition of the word. It's in your blood. LOL By the way, I love the titles of your books. How do you pick them?

RJ: My novel writing always starts with the title. I’ll research a topic, and a title just pops into my head. It serves as the initial writing prompt for the rest of the book. With my first novel though, the original title was just ‘Forgotten Princess’. I had the idea of a princess existing but forgotten about with regard to historical records. It was only after I’d written the book, and sent it off to be professionally critiqued, that the editor suggested I lengthen the title to The Forgotten Princess of Elmetia to add detail and intrigue. I’m glad I did! As the sequel, The Last Princess of Meigen just followed suit.

RB: Rachel, what’s your biggest challenge as an author?

RJ: Eek. Every stage has its challenges! I think though, that writing the book is the easy part. By far, the hardest thing for an author is the moment their work is released into the world of opinions and reviews! An author shouldn’t take bad reviews personally, but it does hurt to see someone unnecessarily pull apart all your hard work and slate it. Being able to put your chin-up, and carry-on writing (instead of crumbling in a heap and balling your eyes out) takes courage, and belief that God called you to be a writer in the first place.

RB: If you're like most authors (including me), you love to read. What’s your favorite book and where do like to read the most?

RJ: I don’t really have favorites, as I love such a wide variety of genres. As a child, the first to get me ‘hooked’ on reading, was a children’s adventure novel, ‘The Secret Island’ by Enid Blyton. I must have been only 8 or 9, but I loved it so much, I read it again and again! As a young adult, I loved ‘The Princess’ by Lori Wick. It comes of no surprise therefore, that my first ever novel features a princess and a secret island! My favorite spot to read is on a window seat, with a spectacular view, possibly with a warm fire burning close by, and of course with a hot mug of tea in my hand.

RB: What’s your writing spot look like?

Writing-Rachel-James
Rachel's Writing Space
RJ: I’ve tried many places to write, coffee shops, libraries, even the car, but there is no place like home. Here is my little writer’s room. Rather than rely on a journal, I pin all my ideas up on my wall, and have my ideas scattered all around me. I love it!
RB: I'd have to agree with you there. I've written in different places as well. Hospitals, parks, but I have to say...I like my easy chair the best.
 
Thanks for coming by the Coffee Corner, Rachel. It's been a true pleasure having you here.



Don't Miss Your Chance to Win a Copy of The Last Princess of Meigen

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Comment below for your chance to win an e-copy.
One winner will be chosen by random draw on 5/24/15.

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About the Book:

A captivating tale of love and duty as the last princess of Meigen searches for her true purpose amidst conflict and betrayal.
It is 626 AD, and the ancient Kingdom of Meigen is left vulnerable to neighboring Saxons. To unite the kingdoms and bring peace, Princess Alena must enter into a royal marital alliance. But when the handsome physician, Sherwin, befalls her, matters become complicated. Torn between obligations to her young son and country, she faces a difficult decision. Will Alena obey the king’s orders, or choose to follow her heart?

Don't Miss Rachel's Blog Tour Giveaway on June 4th for another chance to win! (Signed paperback!) Entry-Form
Release Date: May 22, 2015



About the Author:

rachel-james
Rachel James
Rachel A. James grew fascinated with the medieval time period as a child. Dubbed a bookworm from a young age, Rachel found herself surrounded by places steeped in history and adventure. She enjoyed trips with her family to visit nearby derelict castles and Roman ruins, and that coupled with a zealous imagination and love for stories, sparked her interest in knights, fortresses and ancient kingdoms.
Born and raised in England, Rachel now writes inspirational historical romance, she is also a pastor's wife and has three beautiful little princesses. She minored in creative writing at university and strives to entertain, inspire and encourage others in their own spiritual journey. She's also insanely addicted to romantic tales... combine it with a little history and a hot cup of tea, and she's smitten! Find her at www.rachelajames.com for more information.

Connect with Rachel

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Pen to the Page: The Art of the Book Trailer

Pen to the Page: The Art of the Book Trailer

Beast of Stratton: Simplicity in Motion






My book was out, but I needed a book trailer. How would I create one of the most influential pieces of material for my book?
I did what I always do…I learned about it. I soaked in as much as I could. I watched various styles of trailers…long ones, short ones, complex, boring. I read every blog and article regarding the process. I perused multitudes of pictures and listened to all types of music.
Finally, I was ready to tackle the mighty Book Trailer.
But when I began to piece things together, I discovered why I'm not a producer or director. It was harder than I dreamed. Nothing worked. It didn’t flow or look right. Or sound right. Needless to say, I stopped and started over...from the beginning.

I read the back of Beast of Stratton again. (Yes, the back cover copy!)

What was my book about…really? What did I want the reader to know in a few short words…after all, I had less than a minute (the recommended length of an effective book trailer.) 

How on earth was I going to do that? Frustration sent me to bed on several occasions.
And then one night, my husband’s words rang through my head…like a cymbal. “Simple, Renee, keep it simple.”
He’d spoken those words to me a long time ago, and it hadn't involved a book trailer. They were about the Word of God and my struggle to apply it to daily life. Back then, the busyness of thoughts and complexity of intellect interfered with His message. That night, as in the past, God’s voice wasn’t loud, but His message was clear.
Be simple, be real.
And I listened. I picked out a few pictures—a few lines. Matched the music, and the Beast of Stratton book trailer was born.


Beast of Stratton Book Trailer

If you make a book trailer, be simple…be real.
Whether your book’s a novella or an encyclopedia, your readers don’t expect a movie. They want the truth. They don
’t need a book (you've already written one), but expect entertainment. Give it to them! Offer a teaser…a puzzle, but always leave them craving more.

Beast of Stratton available for purchase (prices may vary):
AmazonBarnes & NobleSmashwordsAll Romance eBooksKoboiBooks, & other selected retailers.

In Christ,
Renee