Friday, April 12, 2013

SUNDAYS IN FREDERICKSBURG, TEXAS - Marjorie Vawter, Connie Stevens, Lynette Sowell, Eileen Key - Three Free Books

Four of my friends have written a delightful book set in Fredericksburg, Texas. I've read it and loved it. They are our guests today. I'll be introducing them one by one.

Welcome, Marjorie. How did your story for the collection come about?
Once we had settled on the generational idea for our stories, I started thinking about what time period I wanted. Connie had already decided to do the first story, and I wanted to do the second one. I wanted my heroine to be at least 20 years old. That put me into 1918. The year World War 1 ended, the year the Spanish influenza was at its peak in the US. Then I remembered that my paternal grandmother lost her first husband to the flu. They had been married less than a year. So I had the first names for my characters and an historical event on which to center my plot. Everything else in the story is pure fiction.

What are you reading right now?
I always have several books that I’m reading for whatever strikes my mood. Drives my husband nuts. LOL Currently I’m reading A Confident Heart by Renee Swope, Picture Perfect by Janice Thompson, and Ring of Secrets by Roseanna White.

What other books have you had published?
This is my first published book.

What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?
For me, it was keeping all the details consistent between stories. I purposely waited until Connie had written her story before writing mine. But even though I read through her story several times, there were still a few details Connie caught that I needed to change. I remember in one place feeling very frustrated since I had to rework an entire scene near the end.

How did collaborating with this team impact you?
As the new author in the group, it was a very good experience for me, one I wouldn’t mind repeating. J Connie and Eileen are already my critique partners. And Lynette fit in like she’d been part of our group for a long time. It was great to brainstorm with them and to learn from them.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
Many times I’ve chosen family names or variations of them. But I also love to walk through old cemeteries and see the names on gravestones from the time period in which I’m setting my stories. Very interesting to see some names from two hundred years ago that we think are more modern.

What did you want the reader to take away from your story?
No matter what storm we’re experiencing in life (and there are many!), God is always with us walking us through to the other side. Friends and even family members fail us because they are human. But the Lord never, ever fails nor does He ever leave us alone. He’s our only true shelter from the storm.

Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?
Yes. I joined when ACFW was still ACRW and was a fairly small organization. But even then I could see the benefits of being surrounded with other authors, published and unpublished, from whom I could learn the most. Back then if we wanted a critique group we were assigned to one. And how I thank God for the group He placed me with! None of us were published at the time, but now most of us are. I grew tremendously as a writer those first few years, and now I’m able to give back. The encouragement and support I’ve received over the years is priceless.

What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?
Just write! When I was writing this story, I got hung up on the research and character studies. I wanted to know everything about Mildred and Nelson ... and they weren’t cooperating. Finally Kim Sawyer told me, “Start writing already!” And when I did, the characters started cooperating ... well, sort of! They kept a few secrets up their sleeves that I totally didn’t see coming!

Where can my readers find you on the Internet?
Twitter: @MarjorieVawter
Blog: The Writer’s Tool

Welcome, Connie. How did your story for the collection come about?
Fredericksburg, Texas, is such a quaint town, and I was fascinated by the unique history of the Sunday houses. The area is steeped in German culture, and the generations of German farmers who settled the area clung to their heritage tenaciously. My main character is Amelia, a school teacher with innovative ideas on how to teach and what to teach, and she stirs up controversy with the parents and the school board
chairman. In addition, she speaks little German, so she ruffles feathers among the traditionalists who insist the old ways are the best ways. The young man who lives in the Sunday house next door is Hank. As the oldest son, he is expected to follow in his father’s footsteps and work side by side with his father on the family farm. But his heart’s desire is to craft fine furniture. Amelia chose to become a school teacher because the occupation requires that she remain single. Hank’s heart is turned inside out by three orphaned children. So I’ve carved plenty of conflict into this story of two people who dare to break with tradition and do that which their hearts, and God, tell them to do.  

What are you reading right now?
I just finished TO WHISPER HER NAME by Tamara Alexander, and THE TUTOR’S DAUGHTER by Julie Klassen, and I just started WHERE WILDFLOWERS BLOOM by Ann Shorey.

What other books have you had published?

What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?
Of course, the four authors must constantly compare notes to ensure consistency, but that really wasn’t difficult. For me, the hardest part of writing a novella is the word count. Getting the story told in only 20,000 words forced me to tighten up sentences and scenes and still make the story engaging. There is no room for wasted words!

How did collaborating with this team impact you?
Every writer’s voice and style is different. Working with three other writers to produce four stories, all with threads that connect them to each other, is a learning experience. The brainstorming sessions and the critiquing of each others’ manuscripts taught me to appreciate how much these ladies had to teach me. 

How do you choose your characters’ names?
I have one of those “what to name the baby” books that I picked up at a yard sale for fifty cents. It lists the most common names of different historical eras, accompanying nicknames, different spellings, ethnic origins, and the meaning of each name. I browse through the book for names that speak to me. Then I make a list of possibilities based on the meaning of the name and whether or not the ethnic background works for my story. My only “rule” in choosing names—both given names and surnames—is that I don’t use names that end in S.

What did you want the reader to take away from your story?
In my story, HOPE’S DWELLING PLACE, I want to encourage readers to follow their dreams, but also be in tune with God’s direction to take them where they might not expect to go.

Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?
I’ve been a member of ACFW since 2000. It was American Christian Romance Writers back then. I was attending the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and had listened to Lynn Coleman speak about this new organization she and a few other authors had helped form. There is no way I can put a price on the fellowship and encouragement I’ve received through this organization. The many opportunities to learn, improve my craft, and connect to other people in the industry are endless. I owe ACFW a huge debt of gratitude for helping me achieve my dream of publication.

What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?
Don’t quit. Don’t give up. God won’t start something in your life that He doesn’t intend to finish. If God has called you to write, don’t you dare quit.

Where can my readers find you on the Internet?
My website is  Readers can also look for me on Facebook at

Here's Lynette. How did your story for the collection come about?
I knew I wanted to write a WWII era story, since Fredericksburg was the boyhood home of Chester Nimitz, admiral of the pacific conflict after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

What are you reading right now?
At the moment, I’m “between books,” as I’m completing a deadline this month. When I’m in the homestretch, the most important priority is my current deadline.

What other books have you had published?
Sundays in Fredericksburg is my most current title. It’s been a busy 2013. This year will see the release of my fifth title for Heartsong Presents, Love’s Stormy Gale, which is available now for a free download. Then in December my first trade fiction title releases through Abingdon Press and its Quilts of Love series, titled Tempest’s Course. I call it my take on a modern-day Gothic romance. Currently, I’ve also independently published a novella called Spring Comes to Barncastle Inn. We authors from the anthology Christmas At Barncastle Inn have started releasing follow-up titles to the original book, due to readers asking for more.

You must contact me about the Quilts of Love book. I’ll feature you on my blog. What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?
The storyline, for sure. As a writer, I want to do the best I can with these characters, showing a moment of their lives and how their lives are changed—within 20,000 words.

How did collaborating with this team impact you?
They have been in the same critique group for years and the “posse” welcomed me in and adopted me for a while. It was very easy to work with them.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
I think of the time period, especially if it’s a historical book, and I also think of my characters’ ethnic background. I go to a names web site and then start trying on names until I feel a name “fits.”

What did you want the reader to take away from your story?
God is still with us and has good things in store for us, even during our darkest hours, even when we don’t “feel.” It.

Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?
Yes. To me having the support of that group is essential for every writer, no matter where they are in their writing journey.

What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?
Never stop writing. Be open to change and working on those finer points.

Where can my readers find you on the Internet?
I’m active on Facebook at, and on Twitter I’m @LynetteSowell.

And our final author is Eileen Key. How did your story for the collection come about?
The Romancing America line was looking for unique sites for stories and we Texans, knew about the Sunday houses. Voila! A team was birthed.    

Actually, I’ve been to Fredericksburg, but only near the highway, and I didn’t know about the Sunday houses. I found it very interesting, and now I want to go check them out. What are you reading right now?
Allison Pittman’s February Release All for a Song. Her writing sings!

I love reading Allison’s books, too, but I haven’t gotten that one yet. What other books have you had published?
Door County Christmas, Cedar Creek Seasons, Dog Gone, Forget Me Not

What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?
Not stepping on each other’s storyline or theme or using the same “spots of interest” in a location. This one is generational, so it made it a bit easier.           
How did collaborating with this team impact you?
We are such good friends, and to know 3 others are praying for you as you write has a definite impact.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
I have a vague idea of what my character looks like, I then research a picture, and I suppose you could say, ask them! Secondary characters might be people I know. For instance, in this book I featured a friend and her husband, Jo Ann and David Henning, because she is such a supporter of my writing.

What did you want the reader to take away from your story?
We are saved by grace. Unmerited favor. And I want the reader to be entertained!

Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?
Yes, I am a member of ACFW because it’s the premiere organization for Christian authors. That’s where I learned how to write.

What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?
Write, read, write, read, and then repeat!! Keep on until you reach THE END. It’s so satisfying.

Where can my readers find you on the Internet? or on Facebook! See you there. Thank you, Lena

It has been a pleasure to host all of you ladies today.

Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.
Sundays in Fredericksburg (Romancing America) - paperback
Sundays in Fredericksburg (Romancing America) - Kindle
Today would be a good day to order them, because both the print book and the Kindle edition are at a special sale price.

Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. Please tell us where you live, at least the state or territory. (Comments containing links may be subject to removal by blog owner.)

Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.

The only notification you’ll receive is the winner post on this blog. So be sure to check back a week from Saturday to see if you won. You will have 4 weeks from the posting of the winners to claim your book.

If you’re reading this on Google +, Feedblitz, Facebook, Linkedin, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment if you want to be included in the drawing. Here’s a link.


Lyndie Blevins said...

Thanks for the opportunity to get this book.
Lyndie Blevins
Duncanville Tx

Margie Vawter said...

Thanks, Lena, for hosting us today. I'm very excited about Sundays in Fredericksburg and I love to hear comments from readers (or potential readers) about our stories. It was so much fun to write and to collaborate with the authors. I hope that joy comes out to the readers of Sundays.

scottsgal said...

Not sure if I've read a book written by 4 authors but I love romances set in Texas so sounds good
cheryl in IL

Heidi said...

I would LOVE to win this book, but I'm going to read it even if I don't. I love novellas!
Thanks for the great interviews!
Heidi, CA

Amy C said...

I have been wanting to get this.
Amy C

Anonymous said...

Looks Great!

Katie J. from FL

Mama Cat said...

Would love to learn more about Sunday houses! Especially as my heritage is German but from upper Midwest. Also a huge fan of the Barbour series and Heartsong Presents authors - you are all awesome! Jeanie in Phoenix

Cindy W. said...

Oh I just love a good anthology. Thank you for the chance to win this book.

I live in Indiana.

Cindy W.


Norma S said...

I would really love to win this book, that has 4 stories and 4 authors. Sounds like a great book 4in1 can't get any better than that, so please enter me. God bless you all.
Norma S. from Ohio

Wendy Newcomb said...

I would really like to win this book and I love the cover.

Wendy from FL.


Mary Preston said...

So pleased to meet everyone here today!!

I'm looking forward to lots of great reading.

Mary P


Judy said...

All these stories in one book! Some great reading ahead. It was a pleasure getting to know a little about each author.

Thanks for the chance to win a copy of, Sundays in Fredericksburg.

Judy B from Indiana

Vera Godley said...

Oh my this sounds delightful. I have always realized that America is a melting pot of peoples, but only recently have I begun to understand the plethora of German immigrants that settled over the territories from the upper regions of the Lake areas to Texas, from religious settlements to farmers and cowboys. Interesting. These Sunday Houses have piqued my interest as well as the gift of writers being able to collaborate on an entire book.

godleyv (at) yahoo [dot] com
North Carolina

Sarah said...

Enter me!!
Sarah Richmond

Jean said...

Thank you for the opportunity!

Jean Kropid
West Palm Beach, FL

Bookishqueen said...

I would like to win this book.
Rebekah TN

sm said...

Looks wonderful- 4 novels in one book by 4 authors I have not read as yet! Would love to win this.
sharon, ca

Library Lady said...

We have the Romancing America series in the church library.
Our library readers love these books.
Thanks for the opportunity to win one.
Janet E.

Abigail Richmond said...

Love the cover! Looks Awesome! Please enter me!

Blanch, N.C.

Pam K. said...

I was delighted to see there is a new book about the Sunday houses in Fredericksburg. When we lived in Texas, Fredericksburg was one of our favorite places to visit. We even stayed a couple of weekends in Sunday houses. I'd very much like to win a copy of this book.
Thanks for the chance.


Andrea Strong said...

Marjorie and I are in the same local ACFW chapter (MozArks--we became official last month), ans we're all so excited about this book. I'd just love to win it!

Andrea in MO

Judy Cooper said...

It would be a treat to win this book. Thanks for the opportunity to win. Judy C. Louisiana.

Katie G. said...

I would love to win!!! I'm from NC.

Katie G.

P.S. I'm having a book giveaway on my blog as well if anyone is interested in entering!

Veronica Sternberg said...

I love historical stories! I'm in MN.

Sharon Richmond said...

Enter me this book looks great!!
Sharon Richmond

rubynreba said...

I think this would be great to read a story by 4 authors. Please enter me. Thanks!
Beth from Iowa

Rhonda's Doings said...

love3 these authors and love Texas settings...I lived in Ft. Worth TX for 3 years while hubby went to seminary. I now live in Madison Heights VA

Rhonda's Doings said...

forgot my name in previous post....I am Rhonda Nash-Hall
and live in Madison Heights VA

Eileen Key said...

Ladybugs, due to technical errors on my part I'm sure...I couldn't post here all weekend. Thank you, Lena for hosting us. Let us know the winnner of our awesome novella.

Merry said...

I enjoy hearing how a book with several authors comes together. I love Texas and learning more of it's history through stories. Add me please!
Merry in TX