Tuesday, December 04, 2018

A Flight of Arrows ebook sale

Hear ye, hear ye! Check ye out this unbeatable price. Just be ye sure to read ye Book 1 (The Wood's Edge) in this series first!

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Photo Journey 01: A Dream Come True

Cape Kiwanda, Pacific City, Oregon/Photo credit: Lori Benton 
Oregon is a dream come true for me, and I mean that literally. 

I've had a few reoccurring dreams since childhood. One of the most vivid involves a visit to a well-loved park near my home in southern Maryland, where I lived until my mid-twenties. In the dream everything familiar is at once recognizable and astonishingly altered. The duck pond has become a sprawling lake. The little streams leading into and out of it are rivers rushing through boulder-strewn gorges. The wooded ridges are higher, steeper, the trails traversing them inviting me into a wilderness drenched in adventure. 

Whether this transformation is magic, or I've been given new eyes to see the wild and wondrous place this park has always been, I don't know. All I know is that this grand wild place is what I've always longed for. Delighted and free, I go exploring. 

It's a dream I've held onto for decades, one I've seen become a reality in many ways since my husband and I moved to Oregon in 1993. This place--the whole western United States, for that matter--is the embodiment of what I was longing for as a child growing up outside the Washington DC Beltway with a few parks and little plots of woods to play out my heart's longing for mountains and wilderness adventures. The Pacific Northwest contains so much vast, spectacular landscape to explore. Upon arriving that snowy late winter day in 1993 I felt as if I'd come home, but only recently have I come to realize there's a very specific reason why I have this longing for wilderness, why the natural world speaks profoundly to my soul. 

In Chapter 10 of his deeply soul-enriching book, All Things New, Heaven, Earth, and the Restoration of Everything You Love, author John Eldredge quotes Wallace Stegner: 

"Unless everything in man's memory of childhood is misleading, there is a time somewhere between the ages of five and twelve that corresponds to the phase ethologist have isolated in the development of birds, when an impression lasting only a few seconds may be imprinted on the young bird for life.... I still sometimes dream, occasionally in the most intense and brilliant shades of green, of a jungly dead bend of the Whitemud River below Martin's Dam. Each time I am haunted, on awakening, by a sense of meaning just withheld, and by a profound nostalgic melancholy. Yet why should this dead loop of river, known only for a few years, be so charged with potency in my unconscious? Why should there be around it so many other images that constantly recur in dreams or in the phrases I bring up off the typewriter onto the page? They live in me like underground water; every well I put down taps them." 

Putting aside for future meditation what that mind-blowing sentence "They live in me like underground water; every well I put down taps them" speaks to me as a writer who cannot shake certain themes in my writing no matter what story I set out to tell, I want to share what John Eldredge--who describes details of a similar childhood experience with a beloved setting, a certain bridge, in this same chapter--writes in connection with Stegner's quote above: "I now understand, some fifty years later, that the bridge under the cottonwoods was filled with "a sense of meanings" and "charged with potency" because the promise was coming to me through that place." 

What promise is he talking about? 

"Some sort of promise," Eldredge writes in Chapter 1 of All Things New, "seems to be woven into the tapestry of life. It comes to us through golden moments, through beauty that takes our breath away... It comes especially through the earth itself. That promise fits perfectly with the deepest longings of our hearts--the longing for life to come together as we somehow know it was always meant to. The whispers of this promise touch a wild hope deep within our hearts, a hope we hardly dare to name." 

That promise refers to the kingdom God will establish on a new-made earth, spoken of throughout scripture. Different experiences, places, pursuits, or hobbies speak to each of us of this promise. I most often glimpse it in the natural world, one of the reasons I'm so obsessed with wandering the Pacific Northwest with my camera. I also glimpse this promise in stories (something I share with Eldredge, and I bet most of you). No doubt that's why I've written them since the age of nine. 

For you it may be something else entirely that draws your soul and speaks to a hope in your spirit. But it's there, because, as Eldredge also writes, "Your heart is made for the kingdom of God. This might be the most important thing anyone will ever tell you about yourself: your heart only thrives in one habitat, and that safe place is called the kingdom of God." 

You know those questions that start with, "If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one...." If the choice of that one thing offered was a book, then aside from the Bible my choice would be All Things New. 

Find All Things New, Heaven, Earth, and the Restoration of Everything You Love by John Eldredge at  Amazon (I recommend the MP3 Audio CD version)

* * *

I post landscape photos from my travels, wanderings, and hikes most days on Instagram, most often with a very brief caption, but lately I've been desiring to delve a little more deeply with them, and so have begun what will be an occasional (weekly, maybe?) series of posts here, simply titled Photo Journey. I'll snag my favorite posted landscape photo from the previous week (or however long it's been) and write a little more about it, or on something inspired by it. This week's photo was taken last month on the Oregon coast, at a favorite beach/headland, Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area. There is a seriously humongous sand dune here (not pictured) that's a challenge to climb, but offers the most magnificent views of the coastline and the cape's sculpted red sandstone formations, one of which is pictured here.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The King's Mercy: cover reveal


For readers of Sara Donati and Diana Gabaldon, this epic historical romance tells of fateful love between an indentured Scotsman and a daughter of the 18th century colonial south.
When captured rebel Scotsman Alex MacKinnon is granted the king's mercy--exile to the Colony of North Carolina--he's indentured to Englishman Edmund Carey as a blacksmith. Against his will Alex is drawn into the struggles of Carey's slaves--and those of his stepdaughter, Joanna Carey. A mistress with a servant's heart, Joanna is expected to wed her father's overseer, Phineas Reeves, but finds herself drawn instead to the new blacksmith. As their unlikely relationship deepens, successive tragedies strike the Careys. When blame falls unfairly upon Alex he flees to the distant mountains where he encounters Reverend Pauling, itinerate preacher and friend of the Careys, now a prisoner of the Cherokees. Haunted by his abandoning of Joanna, Alex tries to settle into life with the Cherokees, until circumstances thwart yet another attempt to forge his freedom and he's faced with the choice that's long hounded him: continue down his rebellious path or embrace the faith of a man like Pauling, whose freedom in Christ no man can steal. But the price of such mercy is total surrender, and perhaps Alex's very life.

Available for preorder now. Releasing June 4th!

Barnes & Noble
WaterBrook & Multnomah

I realized recently that four out of my six covers to date feature a river. Obviously I write a lot about rivers! Not too surprising though, since river travel was one of the main ways to get about the backcountry and the frontier in the 18th century.

My WaterBook & Multnomah team (cover designers Kristopher Orr and Kelly Howard teamed up to design this one) and I really hope you like this new cover, and the story it promises. Please let me know what you think in the comments!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

When Credits Roll...

I like to play music on long road trips when I'm off somewhere to do some landscape photography (or running to WalMart, whatever). I like to sing (if not particularly well). It helps keep me awake on those long drives. I've always wished I had some musical talent. I've tried. I really have. There's a cello sitting over in the corner, which I keep in hopes that one day I'll have the time to really dig in and learn it, music theory and all. But that is not this day.

Today I thought I'd throw out a fun post with some of my favorite songs, ones I could imagine rolling at the end of a movie, if my books were ever made into movies. There's only one book of mine thus far that I haven't found a song for.

Many Sparrows doesn't yet have a song, but one day it'll pop up on my radar. For now though, here's some that I think are fitting for my other books.

For my debut novel, Burning Sky, I'd choose the song Going Home by Mary Fahl (used in the film Gods & Generals) a song that always makes me think of Willa Obenchain, and her quest to find a home, both emotionally and physically. Check it out:

For The Pursuit of Tamsen Littlejohn, I can well imagine credits rolling and the song I Won't Give Up by Jason Mraz (though I really love this cover by Peter Hollens) playing. I've never found a song that is more perfect for one of my story characters to sing to another. This one would be from Jesse Bird to Tamsen Littlejohn. It mirrors their journey through the story. Have a listen!

For The Pathfinders (The Wood's Edge, A Flight of Arrows) I'd choose Josh Groban's new release, Run. The first time I heard it I imagined Reginald singing parts of it to his daughter, Anna. And I imagined Anna and Two Hawks singing parts of it to each other. Other characters in the story seem to have a voice swirling through these lyrics too. This one makes me cry. Thanks, Josh.

I'm on the look out for that perfect Many Sparrows credit roll tune.... and one for my upcoming release, The King's Mercy, while I'm at it. 

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

5 For 5 Burning Sky winners!

Hey everyone! Thanks so much for sharing with me how you found my books, I enjoyed reading every one of your posts, even if I haven't had time to respond. I'm in the "final frenzy" stage of the content edits (first round, big story elements) of next year's release, The King's Mercy. I'm hoping to finish it in a matter of days, and at this stage I'm up at 4am and working for as long as the gray matter will keep firing, with no days off until it's done.

Random.org has chosen my five winners for a signed copy of Burning Sky, out of my personal stash.

1. Elsie Upton

2. thatssewtori

3. Desdemona

4. Kathleen Newberry

5. Alexia Bryant

Congratulations winners! I'll be emailing you shortly for a snail mail addy and can have your copies of Burning Sky in the mail by Friday (when I need to come up for air from this edit to do a thing or two outside the house) :)

Monday, August 06, 2018

Burning Sky turns FIVE: let's party!

Happy Anniversary Burning Sky!

How can it be five years already that you've been on bookstore shelves? 

I'm thankful for those five years and for readers whose support has made it possible to go on telling the stories that have stirred my imagination and my heart. Shall we celebrate? 

Thanks for entering! Comments and drawing are closed now. I'll post the 5 winner's names in a new post tomorrow (Tuesday 8/14/18)

5 For 5 Book Giveaway!!!

~ 5 signed copies of Burning Sky
~ 5 winners (USA addresses only please)

~ Leave a comment below telling me how you discovered my books, include an email address (masked is fine!), and you're entered!

~ Drawing ends a week from today, August 13 (let's say around 9pm Pacific time AKA my bedtime). I'll close comments, then let Random.org do the drawing and post the five winners on August 14 (I'll contact each winner privately as well, unless you haven't given me your email, then I'll have to choose another winner so please don't make me do that!).

If you've already read my debut novel, enter for a friend who hasn't. Check out the Burning Sky: Extras page for a link to the first two chapters, which you can still read for free.

Thank you, dear readers!

*See below for the gorgeous new cover of Burning Sky's latest translation, in Romanian!

Burning Sky
WaterBrook Press (Penguin Random House)
August 6, 2013 
New York frontier, 1784 

Abducted by Mohawk Indians at fourteen and renamed Burning Sky, Willa Obenchain is driven to return to her family’s New York frontier homestead after many years building a life with the People. At the boundary of her father’s property, Willa discovers a wounded Scotsman lying in her path and she feels obliged to nurse his injuries. The two quickly find much has changed during Willa’s twelve-year absence—her childhood home is in disrepair, her missing parents are rumored to be Tories, and the young Richard Waring she once admired is now grown into a man twisted by the horrors of war and claiming ownership of the Obenchain land.
When her Mohawk brother arrives and questions her place in the white world, the cultural divide blurs Willa’s vision. Can she follow Tames-His-Horse back to the People now that she is no longer Burning Sky? And what about Neil MacGregor, the kind and loyal botanist who does not fit into her plan for a solitary life, yet is now helping her revive her farm? In the aftermath of the Revolutionary War, strong feelings against “savages” abound in the nearby village of Shiloh, leaving Willa’s safety unsure. 

Willa is a woman caught between two worlds. As tensions rise, challenging her shielded heart, the woman once called Burning Sky must find a new courage—the courage to again risk embracing the blessings the Almighty wants to bestow. Is she brave enough to love again?

* Oh, look! I love this new Burning Sky cover from the Romanian publisher.