Monthly Archives: June 2014

Beautiful Beta Readers

boy reading
I love, love, love beta readers. These are the ladies who get the book a month before publication and read it then give their feedback on it. And they are an invaluable resource for an author. Especially this author. 🙂

For ‘Faith’s Keys’ I’ve had two hard working beta readers I’d like to thank. I don’t want to publicize their full names but I will gladly brag on their credentials. They are both public school teachers- one was even the ‘Teacher of the Year’ in my home state not too long ago. Both of them are avid Inspirational Romance readers and very Godly ladies. The best kind of beta reader is an English teacher- Thanks Allison & Lauren!!!

‘Faith’s Keys’ will be a much better book thanks to your hard work and insightful feedback. God bless you and your sweet families!

I’m counting down the days till the release of ‘Faith’s Keys’, the newest book in The ChristKeepers series of Medieval Inspirational Fiction.


Research for Faith’s Keys

Vlad the Impaler's Castle

Vlad the Impaler’s Castle

Whenever I write a historical novel there’s always a component of research to be added to the Writing Schedule. I put that in capitals because I’m one of those folks who has to write by a strict schedule or my discipline falls completely to pieces. So the Writing Schedule is very important- although I confess I hate it most of the time :). I try to get ten raw pages done a day on writing days- which are Monday through Friday. if I deviate from this goal, sometimes weeks disappear into the oblivion of playing, crafting, surfing, life in general, and my personal favorite- sitting on the deck swing with a great book and reading in between watching for the local dolphin pod. I really love me some baby dolphins!

But back to the topic of research. For Faith’s Keys there was not only a ton of research to be done on the time period itself, there was the tweaking of facts to fit my story line. OK, let me say this loud and clear for all those folks with PHD’s in Medieval History- I write fiction. Or as Chaucer says in the movie A Knight’s Tale, “Writers give the truth scope.”

So with that said, I try very hard to stay true to the flavor of the era I’m writing about, But I’m not trying to author a thesis on why Such and Such King lost the Battle of This and That. Most readers understand that fiction means not factual, so there’s no issue.

With the research for FK I learned a lot about fashion, jewelry, gunpowder, crusades, religions of the period, folklore, and herbal medicine. I must say it was all quite fascinating. Who knew Medieval ladies wore so many layers of underpinnings? The costumes you see at your regional Ren Faire do not come even close to the modesty maintained by these historical women.

And I learned that times were very hard in Medieval Scotland…really, really hard. Most babies didn’t survive and neither did their mothers. Men of all ranks most typically had many wives over the course of their lives for the simple reason that women died at an astounding rate.

When I was in Europe this past winter, remember my post about my broken wrist in Romania, I visited lots of castles and churches of the period. I added lots of these details to FK. But what surprised me most was The Peasant Village Museum in Bucharest. And yes its called Peasant. I asked one of our tour guides if that wasn’t considered a cultural slur. His response was, “No, of course not.” He said it so matter of factually, I felt rather dim even asking the question.

Peasants in the Medieval Period lived lives I would consider bleak. Those tiny thatched shacks I strolled through had no chimneys, no windows, and most of them you had to kneel down as if entering a cave to get into. Once inside there was no furniture, no kitchen goods to speak of, but loads of beautifully woven colorful woolen blankets. In fact it seemed most of the clothing was merely a cut down blanket that was hemmed and seamed on two sides. A few handy iron brooches made the garment fit whoever was wearing it. Kind of an ancient one size fits all approach.

As for dwellings, royalty had it little better than the peasants. I visited Vlad the Impaler’s castle up in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania.Let me tell you, that keep was COLD! And the twisty turny stairs, oh my Giddy Aunt! The folks living in the castle did have beds. And they did have a nice array of simple heavy looking furniture. The one nod to wealth in the whole place were the gorgeously carved mantels, braziers, and stove mounts.

So when you’re reading FK and you run across some lavish detailed descriptions, please know I reveled in some of those spots first hand. But don’t get me started on those Romanian farmers’ sheep’s milk cheeses.

Hope your day is blessed! Love Never Fails, Grace

Busy Day at Sea Glass Cottage

Sunset From the Deck at Sea Glass Cottage

Sunset From the Deck at Sea Glass Cottage

Whew! It’s been a really busy day here at Sea Glass Cottage. We’re still tying up loads of moving issues. And I went for my big once a month shop this morning. Then my husband took me out for lunch to our favorite Mexican hang out near the beach. It’s a real old timey sand on the floor kind of joint, but I’m so in love with their burritos :).

And I picked up the new framed cover art this morning as well- I always have a 12 by 18 poster of my new book covers made when they are released. I get them framed and hang them on the wall. At our old home I had a big office where the wall over my desk was the spot where I had them all hung. But here at Sea Glass space is more limited so I have what my husband calls my ‘Hall of Fame’ LOL. The hall leading out of the room I use as my office is very long and narrow and it is just right for all those framed covers. This evening I will add the ‘Faith’s Keys’ cover to the others.

My husband and I agree we’re so blessed that in this season of our lives we both work from home. God has been very, very good to us. On that note I will say we love for folks to join us at the beach whenever they can. And July is shaping up to be a busy month for entertaining here at Sea Glass. There is nothing better than spending the day down on the beach or on the boat then coming home and sitting with your guests on the decks and sipping lemonade just around twilight. The sky turns an almost otherworldly blue before the sun actually sinks into the water.

But all that hospitality along with releasing a book, researching a book, plotting the next book, watching the sunset over the bay with my Sweetie from the upstairs deck’s old wicker swing, moving my mother into her new Senior Village, keeping the house clean & the clothes washed, walking 4 miles a day, and co hosting a virtual book release party will make July really busy.

I’m so looking forward to hosting the virtual book release party. The marketing folks have got a great line up of give-aways [gift cards, autographed books, autographed bookmarks, and Faith’s Keys inspired jewelry] and fun games for that evening. I heard a rumor about music down loads and door prizes as well. I’ll be live to answer any questions about my books. Should be a really fun night. Hope you can drop by.

I’ll leave you with an image from one of the decks here at Sea Glass. Love Never Fails, Grace

Sunday Morning Musings

Ian MacAllister Laird of Clan MacAllister

Ian MacAllister Laird of Clan MacAllister

It’s very early here at Sea Glass Cottage. I’ve been out on one of our decks watching the water. I’ve called my elderly mother, a thing I do every morning just to tell her I love her. She will be moving down here to the beach too in just a couple of weeks. There’s a lovely Senior Village apartment with lots of Uno playing opportunities with her name on it:).

Today will be a low key stay-at-home day for me because I have a little ailment that keeps me from getting out and about this morning. With that said, I’ve had more than the usual hour I allot myself each morning to read the Bible and journal. So I got to thinking about how I began my love affair with words. I’d like to share some of that journey with you.

As a child I had a hard time learning to read. A really hard time. After repeating the second grade, the concept of phonics was still an auditory form of Egyptian Hieroglyphics as far I was concerned. But my breakthrough came in the third grade when I spent two weeks in the hospital. Now in those days hospitals were often quiet and grim places- no TV’s, no radios. That left reading.

Thankfully many of my family and friends brought me comic books. All of the sudden there was a picture that went with all those funny scribbles I’d never been able to translate into anything meaningful. Now I had a visual guide to the words! Almost like a miracle I learned to read during those momentous two weeks. And I’ve never looked back. In fact I became one of those really awkward children who read the dictionary or a handy encyclopedia when I ran out of library books.

Soon the library books, dictionaries, & encyclopedias weren’t enough and I began writing, just to fill the void. Let me tell you, I’m so glad some of my earliest efforts have been lost to the trash heap of time. Especially some really angsty poetry I wrote as a heartbroken teen and one particular Christmas play I wrote for church. It included this memorable line from Mary, “Joseph if we don’t find an inn soon, the Son of God will be born on the back of this donkey!” *Sigh*

Then there was the truly awful, never to see the light of day, romance novel I worked on with my college roommate. I’m really sorry you got stuck with all the typing on that one Porkchop [that was her nickname} And no, I never summoned up the courage to ask exactly why she was named Porkchop. Rumor around the dorm said it had to do with a particularly nasty pork-chop served to her in the college cafeteria. One that sent her to the infirmary.

I don’t want to forget the musical my husband and I began one summer’s afternoon by a South Georgia pond. We were having a romantic picnic. This work was to be based on a modern day retelling of the ‘Keystone Cops’ silent films. But alas we were young and in the first flush of our love for each other. We spent more time gazing soulfully into each other’s eyes than blocking out a play. 37 years later I still love to gaze into that man’s eyes :).

In the following years I began writing in earnest and learned more about myself and about the power of words. I wrote a spiritual advice column for a now defunct Christian magazine, ‘Making it Home’. I still have those clippings and I cringe when I read them. I was so sure I knew everything about being a Godly woman in those days. Now I’m older and wiser. Now I try to keep my mouth closed and pray for others instead of offering easy platitudes.

I was blessed to write for other magazines and newspapers. And I soon learned not everybody remembers the past the way I do. Case in point, my mom’s reaction upon reading an account I wrote of an especially hard Christmas we had when I was a kid. Her response was, “It wasn’t really like that.”

I was sorry to see her embarrassed. Even though she was represented in a positive fashion in the story. In defense, my memories are very different from her own. And I did win a journalism contest for that bittersweet retelling of a not so merry Christmas.

I’ve written many screenplays. Lots of them languish even now in a random producer’s slush pile. But some of them became shorts, pilots, award winning cable shows [Angel in the Aisles], and one even became a movie – “For a Time Like This’.

Writing screenplays taught me of my truest love in writing, dialogue. My epiphany came during the table read for one of the earliest pilots produced from one of my screenplays. It was called, ‘The Side Roads’.

It was so very exciting just to have a screenplay picked up to be produced. I got a little lightheaded and even saw dancing stars in my peripheral vision the same way I did the first time an editor called to speak with me about buying one of my magazine articles LOL. And I was overwhelmed to just be invited to sit at the conference table and listen to the professional actors bring the characters to life. I got so involved with their art that I failed to realize several of them were crying during a particularly poignant scene. The director stopped the table read so they could take a breath, get a sip of water, and get back in character.

That’s when I knew, knew, knew I loved writing dialogue. Dialogue, with God’s help, can impact folks in a powerful and uniquely positive way. It can reveal to them truths, again with God’s help, that they’d never considered before. It can help them understand they’re not alone in their struggles.

I’ve often been inspired to change my life by reading another author’s dialogue, especially dialogue written by one of my favorite Inspirational Fiction authors, Gilbert Morris. His novels have been a tool God has used in my own Christian pilgrimage many times. I pray every day that the Lord would use my poor efforts in the same way to help others.

So…sitting on the deck this morning watching the glassy bay, my mind was firmly planted in Medieval Scotland endlessly revising a bit of dialogue in ‘Faith’s Keys’, The ChristKeepers novel to be released in July. It’s a fault of mine to over think scenes, even after the manuscript is out of my hands. A beautiful blue heron flew right past my rocking chair earlier, but I was deep in a wintery swirl of snow and calamity amid clashing knights and spunky fair maidens. So I almost missed the heron’s graceful flight.

Speaking of The ChristKeepers, I’m posting an image I found the other day when I was hunting for book trailer material. It captures Ian MacAllister, the hero of ‘Faith’s Key’s’ perfectly. He’s so strong, yet so very broken. A Scottish lord with a horrid past and he’s a new Christian…makes for great chemistry with the equally strong heroine of this novel!

I pray your Father’s Day is wonderful, especially if you’re blessed to have a father still in your life here on Earth. Mine has been gone for many years now, but I always smile when I think of him. Happy Father’s Day Daddy, I sure hope there’s plenty of good fishing up there in Heaven for you today!

Love Never Fails, Grace

Sneak Peek at the Revised Cover for Faith’s Keys

Faiths_Keys_e_Book_finalHere’s that sneak peek of the new cover for Faith’s Keys I promised yesterday. I really love this cover. It communicates all the things I love about Faith of Sulksbury. It features the keys she collects, of course, but it also has a really vintage historical feminine feel to it as well. And I love the lavender stems. Since Faith is a village healer they are quite appropriate.

Thanks again to wonderful cover artist, Amy DeLoach. She always works closely with me and I’m always thrilled with her art!

Can’t wait to release ‘Faith’s Keys’ next month- the second book in my Medieval ChristKeepers series.

It sure was a great day at Sea Glass Cottage today! Hope your weekend and especially your Father’s Day is everything you hope it to be. Love Never Fails, Grace

Faith’s Keys

joie's keys
I’m busy wrapping up ‘Faith’s Keys’. I really love this book. It has everything I look for when I read. A strong heroine, a strong and handsome damaged hero, and loads of angst and humor. I know it doesn’t sound like those would go together. But I believe if a book doesn’t make you laugh, cry, and fall in love with the hero somehow it kind of misses the mark.

The cover has been a total do-over. While I love to see the heroine on the cover of a novel. The first cover was just too Xena Warrior Princess for me. The model looked strong but in a mean street-smart violent kind of way. Faith is very strong, but she’s also very, very feminine. So we’ve stepped back and started all over again. Hopefully I’ll be able to give you a sneak peek of the new cover this weekend.

Can’t wait to show it to you all!!
Love Never Fails- Grace

Congrats to Shirley Martin-Tutolo!

Loving This New Cover for 'The Giftlings'

Loving This New Cover for ‘The Giftlings’

Congratulations to the May book Give Away winner Shirley Martin-Tutolo! I put Shirley’s Grace Walton novel in the mail this morning. I sure hope she enjoys reading it.

Shirley is receiving a copy of my supernatural YA novel The Giftlings. As with all my books The Giftlings has a Godly romance as a major component of the story.

Teenagers Madison Jones and Will Stone share a very unique spiritual gift that makes them a target for the evil forces of this world. He’s a wrong side of the tracks kind of guy and she’s an innocent pastor’s daughter. Together they struggle to defeat demons and ignore the escalating chemistry between them.

The Giftlings is a romantic adventure with plenty of Young Adult angst. If you want a tale with lots of action, a sweet love story, and flavors of the Biblical supernatural, The Giftlings would make you or your kids- middle school age and above- a great summer read.

Hope your having a great summer!