|Amber and Sandra in front of Hola's Restaurant, Sunriver|
This summer I had the opportunity to meet Amber face-to-face and hear all about her wonderful job. I twisted her arm (no not really) but she generously offered to share some behind the scenes information about a traditional publisher and provide tips on marketing.
So I am delighted to bring back to Seekerville, and introduce you to my dear friend, Amber Stokes.
Amber Stokesworks as a content writer in the marketing services department of Harvest House Publishers. On the side, she self-publishes inspirational fiction depicting the seasons of life and love. Her passion for books compelled her to earn a bachelor's degree in English and to run her own freelance editing and publicity business for over a year. Happily, this new chapter of her career takes place in the Pacific Northwest—a part of the world she has always considered home.
I walk into the office and sit down at my desk in the corner cubicle. What will our readers say today, I wonder? I log onto my computer. I wait impatiently for it to load. I go online. And my breath catches in my chest until I see the new emails pop up in my inbox. I hear nothing—not even the sounds of geese honking on the marsh—just the beating of my own heart.
Perhaps that description of a typical workday in the marketing department is a bitmelodramatic. After all, when Meg Ryan wrote nearly identical words in You’ve Got Mail, she was falling in love.
But wouldn’t it be nice if there was a little more love involved in marketing?
On the road to falling in love—and staying in love—many attest to the need for friendship. You start as friends. You continue as friends.
Authors and publishers both want readers to fall in love with their brand. But first they have to show that they truly care about the people they’re marketing to. So, what might it look like to “market among friends”?
Here are a few ideas:
~ Friends share generously.
When a friend says they need to borrow our vacuum cleaner, we don’t hesitate. When Christmas rolls around, our friends are included on our shopping list. When we’re on a baking spree, our friends are often the recipients of the treats we’ve made. In other words, friends give.
What can authors and publishers give their readers?
A recent example from Harvest House Publishers can be found on the landing page we put together for Tony Evans’s new release, Praying Through the Names of God
. We created 52 visual devotions based on the book—each one including one of the names of God, its meaning, and a prayer snippet—to be delivered to subscribers’ inboxes one at a time, once a week for a year. These lovingly crafted devotions are designed to encourage and inspire readers.
Good friends give both ways, though. In return for offering gifts (such as free devotional pieces) to your readers, they might give you their attention, contact information for future marketing endeavors, and a chance to show them why they’d enjoy the stories you’re sharing with the world.
Don’t forget: The most important thing you can give readers is a reason to care. Make sure your presence, your personality, and your products are quality and genuine.
~ Friends remember special days.
Friends are the ones who remember our birthdays, the anniversaries of our losses and successes, and the little events that make up our day-to-day lives. Timing plays a part in friendships—whether it’s a card sent on the right day or a hug that’s given at just the right moment.
And timing should play a part in our marketing strategies.
Harvest House released a book titled As It Was in the Days of Noah
by Jeff Kinley earlier this year. Any other season or year, and the book would likely not have captured readers’ attention quite as much as it did. Why? Because the book’s release was timed to coincide with the buzz surrounding the arrival of the new Noah
movie in theaters.
If you plan on being traditionally published, you might not have a say in your book’s release date. But you do have the option to pay attention to what’s going on in the world—during both the writing and marketing processes. See what concerns are popping up in the news. Note which holidays are coming up on the calendar. Find ways to make your book relevant, to show readers you care about the special days that matter to them.
~ Friends listen to one another.
The most frustrating of “friends” are the ones who talk at us all the time instead of recognizing that we have something to say, as well. True friends give one another a voice. They feel free to talk, but they also make the effort to listen.
At Harvest House, we recently launched a new corporate blog
. You can find us on Facebook
and I currently manage one of our niche sites, AmishReader.com
(created especially for our Amish fiction fans). Yes, social media sites such as these do involve a lot of talking to readers. But they also offer platforms for discussion—a chance for readers to talk to us and tell us what they enjoy through comments and “likes” and shares.
Your brand involves more than the theme running through your books or the design on your website. It also involves your personality and the distinctive way you approach marketing. Help readers fall in love with your brand by treating them—and truly seeing them—as your friends.
Question: As an author, what little or big ways do you show readers you care about them? Or if you’re primarily a reader, what gestures from authors or publishers mean the most to you?
In honor of Harvest House Publishers’ 40th
anniversary, our marketing team is giving away four of our new releases—one book each to four different winners! The titles are: The Cure for the “Perfect” Life
by Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory, The Amish Blacksmith
by Mindy Starns Clark and Susan Meissner, Choose Love
by Stormie Omartian, and Get Unstuck, Be Unstoppable
by Valorie Burton. And I personally am giving away a Kindle copy of Bernadette Jiwa’s The Fortune Cookie Principle
, which is filled with lots of fabulous marketing advice and food for thought. Be sure to let us know if you have a preference out of these books in the comments section!
Thank you Amber. What a generous offer.
Amber loves Mexican food, so I brought a Mexican buffet. Help yourself to tacos, enchiladas, taco salad, fajitas and if its early morning, we have chorizo and eggs wrapped in warm tortillas. We also have chocolate velvet coffee and hot chocolate on hand (chocolate was originally from Mexico).
Thanks again, Amber.
Amber is at work today and will join us when she can. If you have specific questions, be sure and check back.
PEEPS!!!!!! A RARE RUTHY MONDAY-SIGHTING!!!! PAM HILLMAN NEEDED TO SWITCH THINGS UP FOR CONFERENCE WORK, AND WE KNOW I'M STAYIN' HOME, TENDIN' THE KIDS AND CHICKENS AND WRITIN' SUHWEEEET BOOKS, SO HERE I AM! HERE WE ARE!!! PARTY!!!!!
They're gone for most of the week! Oh, yeah, they're lingerin' today for the most part, but this week:
Oh mylanta, oh my stars, oh sweet saints be praised, it's PARTY TIME in SEEKERVILLE!!!!
(Runs, grabs hats, streamers, party favors, noisemakers, all the fun stuff needed to party like the monsters in "Where the Wild Things Are"
by Maurice Sendak, one of the Blodgett boys favorite books!) If you have a boy or know a boy or love a boy, run and buy this book and read it OFTEN.
You'll understand once you read it. Promise.
So while we party today, let's plan our strategy for this week. And if you whine, cry, moan, bemoan, fuss or bother me about being home, I'll smack ya'.
I'm SO NOT KIDDING!!!!
We are in the best of times while so much of the world is in the worst of times, so the absolute honor to stay home and be productive???? Oh gracious sakes to Betsy, there are folks round the world who would do anything to change places with us so for this week: NO WHINING. NONE. NADA. ZIP. ZILCH.
Because God has made us a wondrous world and most of the people reading this are thick in the middle of enjoying just that!
Monday: Read Ruthy's blog, take her advice and PLAN YOUR WEEK! Leave a comment to win something cool because Ruthy has the KEYS to the prize vault... Get the jump on others, and take the dive, swim with the big fish, put your butt in a chair, write 1,000 words and SAVE MONEY.
Tuesday: Implement the first step of your plan which should start with (but not be limited to) writing 1,000 words/day. Four pages. One thousand stinkin', measly words. Go for it, make it your NEXT GOOD HABIT as an author.
Wednesday: Write your 1K/day. Think about what you can give up to gain time out of your busy schedule. Television and facebook games should be the FIRST TO GO. There is no brain involvement in either, there is no valued family interaction in either, be big and brave and bold and sing the song from "FROZEN" and "Let it Go!!!!" (Yes, this is a live link to "Let it Go!!!" I love that song!!!! And the movie!)
Thursday: Pray. Pray unceasingly for the plights of the world and thank God you're here, you're American and you live in a land of plenty and then write 1,000 words. And then no matter what else you do on Thursday, you'll be 4,000 words AHEAD for the week.
And now time for a commercial announcement!!!!
SEEKER NOVELLAS ARE COMING SOON TO A KINDLE NEAR YOU!!! AVAILABLE NOVEMBER 10TH, AVAILABLE FOR PREORDER ON AMAZON ON OCTOBER 10TH!!!
Here is our historical collection:
And here is the contemporary collection!!!!!
How stinkin' cute are they????? Happy dancing in upstate to be part of this amazingly fun, beautiful collection of stories!!!! GRIN!!!!! Available for pre-order by October 10th, RELEASE DATE: November 10, 2014, $2.99 on Amazon!
We now return you to our regularly scheduled program, still in progress...
Friday: Don't pat yourself on the back, don't take the day off, don't turn the blasted TV on, don't reward yourself YET.... because it's not a habit yet. It's a beginning and a great one, but it's NOT A HABIT YET. Like any trend, it's only habitual if it becomes ingrained as part of your existence with little or no thought.... and that's what that 1K/day should be. AUTOMATIC. EN FUEGO. GET 'ER DONE.
Saturday and Sunday: For the full time or part time workers, this could be the day to DOUBLE the word count. I count Saturday and Sunday as 2K days.... because I get up early and get my normal work hour in, and then I come back a few hours later and hit the keyboard again.
And just like that, fairly painless, is 9K/week. I go to church, I spend most of Sunday with family around or working in the yard (that's my reward!!!!) and I know I've met my goals.
Steven Covey's #1 point in the "7 Habits of Highly Successful People" is to take responsibility for your choices and ACTIONS. That's clutch in any business model, and just as important for a writer in their singular "NO ONE SEES HOW LITTLE I DO" existence.
Don't be the statistic, go above and beyond the norm. The norm (or as Missy put it so perfectly two weeks ago) being average is NOT THE BAR you want ....
Raise your bar. Raise your standards. Increase your output.
Wait, I promised myself I wasn't going to boss you around, that we'd just party hearty like the wild rumpus in "Where the Wild Things Are"!!!!
I messed up. But, honestly, if I didn't love youse, I wouldn't yell at youse! :)
Believe in God, believe in yourself, believe in your worth and increase your effort. There is no secret road to success, it is simply building the platform of a solid work ethic and then delivering the goods. With so many open avenues to publishing these days, what on earth are you waiting for????
Go get 'em!!!!
Coffee's inside, there's tea, too and I've got a wonderful breakfast lined up for you! Danish and muffins and breakfast sandwiches on tender croissants.... come on in, leave a comment and I'm tossin' your name in the cat dish for something wonderful.... (scratches head, thinks, can't decide....)
And then pulls a $25 AMAZON GIFT CARD out of the vault!!!!!!
Who the heck put that there?????
Okay, leave those comments, don't stop writing, don't make me hurt you..... but go leave a comment and let's have a little Monday fun for stay-at-homes or still-at-homes! Let's do this!
It's the weekend before the ACFW Conference in St. Louis! #R-U-JAZZED?
Tina Radcliffe will be tweeting live from the Saturday night gala at https://twitter.com/TMRadcliffe Keep an eye on the ACFW Conference web page for the live blog link to the gala. Last year's is here. Join the Seekers Thursday and Friday night in the bar area for a late night chat.
If you are a Villager attending conference look for a Seeker and we'll give you a smiley face sticker for your badge to identify you as a Villager.
If you aren't attending and are an ACFW member you can join the ACFW At Home Conference here. Don't forget Ruth Logan Herne's Support Group Meeting on Monday.
We Have Winners
Be sure to contact us if you are a winner (send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with your snail mail address unless email is specified). We don't have time to track you down. Do let us know if you don't receive your prize in 6-8 weeks. Rules are located here, on our legal page
On Monday, Love Inspired Historical author Janet Dean challenged writers to torture their characters in her post "Raising the Stakes." She offered examples on how to create anxiety in our characters, even in what appears on the surface as routine events. Jenny Blake is the winner of a $10 Amazon gift card.
Triple Header! Helen Gray returned on Tuesday with the launch of the third book in her Ozark series, and her post, "Writing in Harmony." Cindy W is the winner of an Ozark Wedding.
Award winning author Debby Giusti bloged Wednesday,and shared information about the Writers' Police Academy she attended last weekend. Jackie is the winner a copy of her upcoming Love Inspired Suspense anthology Holiday Defenders, featuring her novella, "Mission: Christmas Rescue."
Thursday Seekerville was delighted to welcome two-time Golden Heart finalist and Indie author, Piper G. Huguley with her post, "Why You Should Submit to the RWA Golden Heart® This Year." Winner of a very nice $10 Amazon Gift Card is Preslaysa Williams.
Friday our guest was C. Hope Clark, author of both fiction and non-fiction and owner of the successful blog Funds for Writers. Funds for Writers has been named one of Writer's Digests 101 best websites for writers from 2001-2014. She shared how "Setting defines the place, the plot and the character's journey." Winner of her September release, Murder on Edisto, book one of The Edisto Island Mysteries is Vince Mooney.
Next Week In Seekerville
Monday: ACFW conference week begins today, and Stay-at-Home Ruthy Logan Herne is here to spur you in the right direction with her typical "Go Get 'Em, Tiger!!!" diatribe on how you should appreciate... and USE... this time. She's also doing a "Name Those Heroes" contest to find the best names possible for her upcoming wedding industry trilogy for Love Inspired!!! Plus, Ruthy will be secretly opening THE PRIZE VAULT.
Tuesday: Harvest House Content Writer Amber Stokes joins Sandra Leesmith today to talk about Marketing Among Friends - a current wave of marketing philosophy with good old-fashioned values. She's bringing some books to share, including 4 brand-new Harvest House releases (in honor of HH's 40th anniversary!), as well as a Kindle copy of The Fortune Cookie Principle: The 20 Keys to a Great Brand Story and Why Your Business Needs One by Bernadette Jiwa.
Wednesday: Author Nancy Kimball is our guest. Nancy returns with "Behind the Scenes of Audiobook Production." Nancy will be sharing a glimpse behind the curtain at how her debut novel Chasing the Lion was brought to life on audiobook. Plus she's giving away three downloads of her audiobook to three commenters.
Thursday: Please join us today when Jane Choate returns to Seekerville. Jane will be discussing the attributes of our characters and how we can delve deeper into their lives. Jane is a new Love Inspired Suspense author! Rumor has it she'll be giving away a copy of her October release, Keeping Watch, so leave a comment and let's make it an engaging day!
Friday: Seeker Tina Radcliffe is "Live from ACFW" in St. Louis where she is a 2014 Mentor of the Year Finalist and her release Mending the Doctor's Heart is a finalist in the short novel category. Today will be a photo opp day as Tina shares shots of friends of Seekerville at conference. SMILE FOR THE CAMERA!
It's coming this week! Mary Connealy LIVE WEB CHAT! You can join the Facebook page for Mary's Web Chat.The chat is on September 23rd at 7 pm Central Time.To find out more find the Author Landing Page & the Webcast Landing Page. Up for grabs are a Kindle HDX, AND the Trouble in Texas Series.
Harlequin Authors Stand Up To Bullying. Tina Radcliffe is part of this campaign.
In honor of fall with its wonderfully cooler temperatures and delicious scents of all things harvest, Second Chance Ranch is on sale for .99 on Amazon! And of course, Audra Harders is celebrating Second Chance Ranch hitting the Top 20 of the Amazon Contemporary Christian Romance list! Woo Hoo!!
Random News & Information
Stories about Christmas and the whole holiday season! (Chicken Soup For the Soul Story Callout)
Copyright Basics (SFWA)
Check out the DeskCycle (IB3Health)
The Secret Formula to Creating a Bestselling Book (The Future of Ink)
‘New York Times’ adds two faith-focused best-seller lists (Christian Retailing)
Permafree as an Indie Marketing Strategy~Interview with Traci Tyne Hilton (Novel Rocket)
Self Publishing 101 – The Quick Start Guide for Authors (Writer's Digest)
Jane Austen Fans Break World Record (GalleyCat)
Ask the Agent: What are the new companies making a mark in publishing? (Chip MacGregor)
HarperCollins has a new digital first imprint devoted to thrillers and crime fiction. KillerReads will publish two or three titles per month — crime stories, detective fiction, psychological thrillers, legal thrillers, and almost anything that fits under the umbrella of crime fiction. To celebrate their launch, KillerReads is opening for a limited time to submissions of complete manuscripts from unagented authors. You’ll need to submit a complete manuscript, a 500-word summary of the story, a one-paragraph recap of the story, a list of the characters and an author profile. This reading period will close on September 14, 2014, so get your submissions in now. Find all the details here. (Cindi Meyers Market News's Blog)
That's it! See you in St. Louis.
by C. Hope Clark My second mystery series came about almost as an ultimatum.
I adored my first series: knew its characters like my own family (better, actually), cherished the stubborn drive of the protagonist, but most of all, thoroughly enjoyed the settings in rural South Carolina, a state I adore. But the publisher wanted more diversity in my books, so they asked for a new series. Then they gave me three guidelines for it: a female protagonist with actual law enforcement background, lots of family angst, and a location in my home state since I wrote about it with passion.
I panicked starting from scratch.
The new protagonist took a while to gel because I wanted to feel her heart. Slivers of her came and went in my mind as did ideas on how to make her family a challenge. But the location? Where could I place an entire series and not feel like a cliché? Charleston, Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach were out. My readers knew that I wrote setting like a character, and I had to be in love with the place to enable a strong series with place. Then it hit me.
Rustic, secluded and devoid of neon and franchise, this beach had changed little in thirty years. Romantic, calm, a place of healing.
I visited Edisto first as a teen with my parents. Then later I found myself employed with the US Department of Agriculture in Charleston, and as manager of the office, had to know my clientele well. Edisto was that island furthest from the office. A location where I packed my lunch and gave myself plenty of time because I never knew when the drawbridge across the waterways would be up. Two lanes the whole way, lined with marsh, egrets, and palmettos, smelling of pluff mud. The farmers I served were in no hurry except during harvest, with tomato pickers sweaty and strong, the green fruit piled high in baskets and trucks while salt air wafted in from nearby waters.
Where I have a dear friend. A friend who is always there for everyone she knows. A friend who loves people, regardless their background. A woman who, in spite of being hurt by a long-time pal, explained to me that she cannot afford to lose friends because they all contribute something positive to her life. A deep soul whose laugh makes me smile.
Edisto is known by the natives as a place where you start another life, and leave another behind, with no obligation to share that past life to justify the present. It’s safe, on the edge of the world, where countless people escape for a week out of the year to pretend they live this leisurely all the time. Who also hoped to take a piece of it home somehow, in some way.
Where I’ve run off to in order to soothe a hurt. To forget painful people, to put life into a positive, proper perspective.
Where I took my old dachshund, newly blinded by glaucoma, so that she would feel wind in her face, bark, and walk without fear of bumping into obstacles. I can’t make myself remove the pictures from my camera of me holding her, the fall wind and spray in our faces as we sat on a pier there, remembering how we both needed that trip in order to heal a bit.
The protagonist fit this place.
She was broken, both by fate and some choices she made which cost her two family members. Returning to her Southern roots, she’d forgotten how much conflict existed under her parents’ roof after being away over fifteen years. With her memories faded over time, and her current pain so intense, how could she not make another mistake by returning?
Stuck in a world without her husband, with a child to finish raising, having forfeited a profession that once defined her, she found herself lost with no momentum to head in any direction. Until her father hands her the keys to the house on Edisto Beach.
As I embraced what Edisto Beach meant to me over time, I found my story. My character became three-dimensional as her pain wrapped around mine, making it tangible enough to put on paper.
A book I did not want to write became the book I had to write.
If you do an online search for Writing to Heal or Healing With Writing, you’ll find dozens of sites, authors, books, and blogs, all professing how stories exorcise our demons. It’s a tried and true practice with abused spouses, orphaned children, and wounded veterans. Sometimes we don’t know how hurt we are until we put it into words.
Often I’m asked how much of my writing is real, how much of the protagonist is me. Do I use my writing to heal?
No, I use place. This time it’s Edisto Beach, and for the next several books it’ll be Edisto Beach. Writing just happens to be the fruit of that healing.
C. Hope Clark’s debut novel of The Edisto Island Mysteries is Murder on Edisto, a work she’s amazed came from her hand. Released September 2014 via Bell Bridge Books, it’s available wherever books are sold. Hope is also author of The Carolina Slade Mystery Series, and editor of FundsforWriters.com, awarded Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past 14 years. Her newsletters reach forty thousand readers. www.chopeclark.com / www.fundsforwriters.com With Guest Piper G Huguley.
Thank you for having me to this wonderful blog. Seekerville has been such a friend to me and I’m glad to be able to be able to have something to contribute to this storehouse of knowledge. Folks may be in the midst of making a decision about whether or not to participate in the biggest, most prestigious contest of the year and I want to give a few more nudges in anyone’s direction if he/she are unsure if they are going to enter the Golden Heart®. If you meet the qualifications and are not published, you should enter and here’s why:
1. You get a great phone call. I don’t remember who called me last year, but this year it was Leslie Kelly. I immediately dubbed her Santa Claus. Because Old Saint Nick might as well have been calling me as her. Unbelievable.
2. You get a cool place of honor in all social media. Sometime later that day on March 26, all the new nominees get linked together in a place of honor on Yahoo. There are exchanges of twitter handles, e-mail addys, and a new Facebook page. Now you are in a class with some 30+ people. This represents power as shown in number 3…
3. I’m a loner nerd. It is true. In college, I was a worker loner nerd. Now I have sisters! When two of us Dreamweavers (Golden Heart® finalists class of 2014) made the quarterfinals in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, the Dreamweavers turned out in full force to leave us reviews and good wishes. It was awesome! As for the Luckies (class of 2013) since we have started to publish, we are having a fine time subverting the Amazon algorithms! (There is a very confused someone out in Washington State who cannot fathom why a New Adult novel about young people loving it up the newsroom seems attached at the hip to that Reconstruction era romance about African Americans—heh, heh.)
4. If your family doesn’t understand your current writing issue, your fellow Golden Heart® sisters will! These are folks who are practiced in craft and writing. They are champion readers. If you want to brainstorm, it’s not hard to find help to do that. A number of them already have a well-oiled machine in place to critique and brainstorm, since that’s part of what got them to the Golden Heart® in the first place. But no one minds helping you out in a pinch.
5. Make your announcement –any announcement-- in the e-mail forum you will be cheered! You may not think the announcement is such a big deal, but just reveal it to your fellow Golden Heart cohort and they will cheer you on! It makes you feel very good about yourself. I try not to abuse this privilege though. Writers need to be lifted up way too often…
6. If you don’t feel like hearing goofy contest comments, enter the Golden Heart®! You won’t get any here—it’s just a bunch of feedback numbers. I wish I could write a column about doing what you need to do to take advantage of the system, but I don’t know this new system. I know the one from the past two years, so my knowledge is meaningless here. I’m obsolete. I’m sorry. *dodges rotten tomatoes and eggs*
7. If your family is fed up about hearing about your Golden Heart® dress, snap a picture and put it up in the forum. Your fellow Golden Heart® folk will oooh and aaaah over the beauty that is to come.
8. When you get to RWA, you may attend a dinner with your Golden Heart® class. No loner nerd over here anymore! People will eat with me. Just because I wrote a story. That’s pretty cool.
9. It’s only $35.00! Yes, RWA waited until I was ineligible to reduce the price! Seriously. That’s a pretty good deal.
10. I am grateful for all of the friendship that people have extended to me over the years, whatever the origin. People gave me great comfort during the initial loss of my mother. In terms of my writing, I have benefited greatly from all of my writing friendships. The Golden Heart ®has allowed for the creation of yet another kind of writing friendship and I’ve been blessed by it.
Please notice that I did not indicate you should sign up for the Golden Heart® to make connections with agents or editors, to get a heart-shaped necklace, or so that you can be treated like a queen at the conference when everyone sees your pink ribbon. That’s because these things may or may not happen for you. A fair portion of both of my classes, the Luckies and the Dreamweavers, are blowing it out of the water with their agent news, acquisition news or sales numbers. But these things, to me, are icing on the cake. I have far more enjoyed the companionship and the warm embrace. Kind words from others, when people reacted in a way I didn’t expect, have sustained me. I am grateful for all of it.
What do you prize most about your writing friendships-- wherever they may take place?
Today Piper is generously giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one commenter. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.
Piper G Huguley is the author of the “Home to Milford College” series which follows the building of a college from its founding in 1866. The Preacher’s Promise is book one in the series. Upon release, the prequel novella to the “Home to Milford College” series, The Lawyer’s Luck reached #1 Amazon Bestseller status on the African American Christian Fiction charts.
Huguley is also the author of “Migrations of the Heart,” a five-book series of inspirational historical romances set in the early 20th century featuring African American characters. Book one in the series, A Virtuous Ruby won the Golden Rose contest in Historical Romance in 2013 and was a Golden Heart® finalist in 2014. Book four in the series, A Champion’s Heart, was a Golden Heart® finalist in 2013.
She blogs about the history behind her novels at http://piperhuguley.com. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and son.
The Preacher's Promise
“If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.”—Daniel 3:17
1866 – Oberlin, Ohio
Devastated by her father’s death days after her triumphant graduation from Oberlin College, Amanda Stewart is all alone in the world. Her father’s unscrupulous business partner offers her an indecent proposal to earn a living. Instead, to fulfill a promise she made to her father, she resolves to start a school to educate and uplift their race. Sorting through her father’s papers, she discovers he had carried on a mysterious correspondence with a plantation in Milford, Georgia. She determines to start her teaching work with the formerly enslaved. However, when she arrives, the mayor tells her to leave. There’s no where for her to go.
Virgil Smithson, Milford’s mayor, blacksmith and sometimes preacher man with a gift for fiery oratory, doesn’t want anything to do with a snobby schoolteacher from up North. On top of everything else, the schoolteacher lady has a will hard enough to match the iron he forges. He must organize his fellow formerly enslaved citizens into a new town and raise his young daughter alone. Still, his troubled past haunts him. He cannot forget the promise he made to his daughter’s mother as she died—that their child would learn to read and write. If only he didn’t have secrets that the new schoolteacher seems determined to uncover.
To keep THE PREACHER’S PROMISE, Amanda and Virgil must put aside their enmity, unite for the sake of a newly-created community in a troubling age, and do things they never imagined. In the aftermath of the flood that was the Civil War, God set his bow upon the earth to show love and understanding for humankind. To reflect God’s promise, these combatants must put aside their differences and come together--somehow.
The 2015 RWA Golden Heart® opens to entries on December 2, 2015. Details can be found here.
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