Thursday, August 27, 2009

A BLUE & GRAY CHRISTMAS - Vickie McDonough, Lauralee Bliss, Tamela Hancock Murray, Carrie Turansky - 3 Free Books

This is the second of the Christmas novella collections I'm featuring this year on the blog. And the writing team is a really strong one. This will be a wonderful collection. The first author we're featuring is Vickie McDonough.

Welcome, Vickie. How did your story for the collection come about?
I wondered what would happen if a soldier from the North unwittingly fell in love with a woman from the South. My heroine has laryngitis, and the hero develops feelings for her because of her kindness to his mother and then grows to care for her. He doesn’t learn of her heritage until he’s already fallen for her. Makes for a great scene when he does find out. :-)

What are you reading right now?

I’m reading a contemporary romance by Gail G. Martin

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

I’ve written 8 Heartsong novels and 8 novella collections. If you’d like more info about my books, please visit my website:

Also coming out this fall is a Christmas novella collection called Wild West Christmas—but then you know about that, Lena, since you’re in it. :-)

Next April, my first long fiction book called The Anonymous Bride will be release.

Yes, we'll be hearing from Vickie again when I feature our novella collection. Vickie, what is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?

This collection was fairly easy because the stories aren’t tied together other than by the Civil War theme. Collections that have sibling stories or ones all set in the same town are much harder. You have to make sure the farmhouse or town setting stays the same in all stories, as well as the looks and personalities of the characters. Those kind are a challenge, but fun to do and to read.

How did collaborating with this team impact you?

I was able to deepen friendships with some ladies who I’ve worked with before.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

It varies. I look at their ethnicity sometimes. The location plays a factor. Where my character grew up is important. I wouldn’t name a hero from New York Billy Ray, but I might if he was from the South. Sometimes I just research an online Baby Name’s sight and search until I find a name that seems to fit the character.

What did you want the reader to take away from your story?

That God ordains our steps even when we can’t see it. He’s with us in the most difficult times and wants to comfort us, if we’ll just turn to Him.

Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?

Yes! Because it’s the greatest fiction writers group in the world!
What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?

I went to a conference once, and the speaker passed around a tin can filled with all kinds of buttons. She said the button was the key to becoming a good writer and had us each take one and save it until she was done talking. Then she told us, “The key to being a great writer is to keep your “butt on” the chair and write. If you don’t write, you won’t ever finish a project, and the more you write, the better your writing becomes.

Very good advice, Vickie. Now we're going to meet one of you teammates, Lauralee Bliss.
Welcome, Lauralee. How did your story in the collection come about?
It came from extensive research I had done many years ago on the Fredericksburg campaign and from my own personal interest in Civil War history, living here in Virginia. And from a personal belief in the importance of covenant within relationships.

What are you reading right now?
Home to Hart’s Crossing by Robin Lee Hatcher right now and other Christian fiction to come.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?
I have written over fifteen books in various genres, from contemporary romance to suspense to historical and yes, even a science fiction trilogy (yet unpublished). Beside this collection, my other book due out is a historical romance with Summerside Press – Love Finds You in Bethlehem, New Hampshire.

I'm looking forward to featuring the Summerside book. I have one comeing out in May. What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?
Making sure that I do not disappoint the other members of the team. It is a team effort all the way, even if the stories are not related to each other, per se.

How did collaborating with this team impact you?
It made me aware of the gifts we each have, the different styles of writing, and the importance of a good critique.

How do you choose your characters’ names?
Names just come to me.

What did you want the reader to take away from your story?
That no matter what happens or what trials we face, the covenant we make with our spouse is for life – until death do us part.

Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?
Yes. It is an invaluable place to network with other writers and grow in the writing ministry.
What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?
o never give up and to keep writing.
Now we're talking with Tamela Hancock Murray. Welcome, Tamela. How did your story for the collection come about?

I was challenged to write about the war from the Northern viewpoint even though I’ve lived in the South all my life. I felt led to write about a pacifist hero. Writing such a plot proved exciting and rewarding. Through Barry, I lived another viewpoint.

What are you reading right now?

I am reading MY SON JOHN by Kathi Macias. This is quite a compelling and moving story by a talented author.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

I have written many books, and all are listed on my web site at One of my recent titles is THE MASTER’S MATCH from Barbour Publishing, an historical story that one reader described as “part Cinderella and part My Fair Lady.”

What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?
For me, it’s writing a story that fits in well with the rest of the collection while being unique. This aspect is always interesting and offers many opportunities for growth as a writer. For example, I had the privilege of writing a western for the BROTHERS OF THE OUTLAW TRAIL collection. And I doubt I would have proposed a full length story such as the one I wrote for A BLUE AND GRAY CHRISTMAS.

How did collaborating with this team impact you?

I felt privileged to collaborate with such a talented team of authors. Writing with them, and about this era in history, expanded my horizons. I learned much about different events that took place during the war as I read their stories.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

One of my favorite books for choosing historical names is NAMES THROUGH THE AGES by Teresa Norman. This is an excellent resource for writers and a great read for historians.

What did you want the reader to take away from your story?

Through Barry’s difficult relationship with his brother, I hope to show the value of loving the unlovable. Through Arabella’s stalwart devotion to Barry, I hope to encourage readers to stand by those they love. I also hope to show that pacifism isn’t necessarily cowardice.

Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?

Yes, I am a member of this wonderful organization. They offer sweet fellowship and support each other in an industry that isn’t the easiest career path.

What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?

That if you write 1000 words a day, you will have a complete book in three months.
Now I'm introducing the last member of the team. Welcome, Carrie. How did your story for the collection come about?
Back in 2004 I was reading a book about women in the Civil War for a homeschooling project I was working on with my kids. Those one-page vignettes really stirred up my interest in the time period. Up until that time I had only written contemporary stories. I did some more research online and became very excited about several story ideas based on real people and situations. I shared the ideas with my critique partners, Vickie McDonough and Tamela Hancock Murray and also author-friend Kristy Dykes.
We met with Rebecca Germany at an ACFW Conference and shared the ideas with her. She agreed to take a look at our proposal, so we worked on that and sent it in. Though she liked the idea, she held on to it for a few years before finally contracting it in 2008.
Kristy was fighting a very brave battle against cancer at that time and decided to step down from our team. We invited Lauralee Bliss to be our fourth co-author, and she did a great job. We turned in our novella on February 1, and A Blue and Gray Christmas releases in September.
What are you reading right now?
I just finished reading Tammy Alexander’s novel, The Inheritance and enjoyed it very much. Other recent reads I would recommend: The Baby Bond, by Linda Goodnight. (Great characterization). Snow Melts in Spring by Deborah Vogts. (Wonderful debut novel).

What other books have you written, whether published or not.

Carrie’s Published titles:
Along Came Love, Steeple Hill Love Inspired
Wherever Love Takes Us in Wedded Bliss? Barbour
Tea for Two in Kiss the Bride, Barbour
Moonlight and Mistletoe in A Big Apple Christmas, Barbour
A Shelter in the Storm in A Blue and Gray Christmas, Barbour
Home To Fairhaven, Steeple Hill Love Inspired 2010
Carrie’s Unpublished:
Kenya Calling
Garden of Secrets

Coincidentally Yours
Surrendered Hearts

What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?

The first challenge is finding like-minded authors who are excited about the story ideas and willing to work together to develop complimentary novellas. I was very blessed to partner with Tamela, Vickie, Kristy, and Lauralee. Each woman is multi-published and very talented. I learned so much from working with them.
How did collaborating with this team impact you?

Working on this team challenged me to do my very best. We critiqued for each other as we were writing our novellas, and I think that made all of our stories stronger. I am very pleased with the final version that each author turned in. I’m confident our readers will enjoy this collection.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

I use baby books, and online lists. For historical books, I look at census lists from that time period. I also keep a running list of names I like.

What did you want the reader to take away from your story?

I hope readers of Shelter in the Storm will be reminded that God is constant strength and comfort when we go through the storms of life. He can be trusted to lead us and guide us, but we must turn to Him and trust Him each step of the way.

Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?

Yes, I have been a member of ACFW since 2000. I have learned so much from this wonderful group of writers! I don’t think I would be published if it were not for the friendships and knowledge I have gained from ACFW. I highly recommend it to all aspiring fiction authors.

What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?

Kristy Dykes encourage me to keep on writing and never give up. Her faith and trust in God and His goodness continue to inspire me even after her passing. Her example of balancing love for her husband and commitment to ministry as well as writing were also great examples that continue to impact me. I will always be thankful for her friendship and the way she mentored me in life and in writing.
Vickie, Lauralee, Tamela, and Carrie, thank you for spending this time with us.
Readers here's a link where you can order the featured book:
Leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. 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.
If you’re reading this on Feedblitz, Facebook, or Amazon, please come to the blog to leave your comment. Here’s a link.


Anonymous said...

I would love to be entered in your draw!
wandanamgreb (at) gmail (dot) com

G.R.I.T.S. said...

sounds like another great novella!!!! Please enter me!!!

Rae Byuel

Laney4 said...

Thanks for the heads-up re 1,000 words a day = 3 months to write a book. I had no idea that was what it equated to! 1,000 words doesn't sound like much, but I bet it seems like 10,000 when you're trying to write it!

Good luck and thanks for offering another great giveaway!

Sheila Deeth said...

It's the writing it every day that I struggle with, but the words do add up. I love Christmas novella's - just something about a nice short read and the family all around...

Lady Araujo said...

I enjoyed reading the interview.
This book sounds very good.
Please, enter me!
God's great blessings.

host said...

I really loved the interview and the book sounds very interesting! Please count me in on a giveaway

Cherie J said...

Enjoyed the interview! Would love to be entered in the drawing.

Sherry K said...

Once again great interviews. Thanks for entering me in the drawing.

Sherry K

raspberrygirl said...

Would love to be entered in the drawing. I love Christmas stories. :)

Thanks so much!

Debs Desk said...

I love Christmas stories and would love to be included in your giveaway.

~Tami said...

I hope to win!

Abi said...

Oh, I'd love to win this book. I love stories with Christmas settings. I love novellas too.
Please enter me. I pray I win too. Thanks.

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Carole said...

I love Christmas anthologies and look forward to reading this one. Thanks for the interview and chance to win copy.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Anonymous said...

Ooh... I can hardly wait to get my hands on a copy! A Blue & Gray Christmas sounds really good. Add to that the fact that I love reading Christmas stories, and I can hardly wait to see who won!
Thanks for entering me.


Wendy said...

I like novella's and this sounds good. Thanks for the opportunity.

Carrie Turansky said...

HI Lena and Friends,
Thank you for featuring Blue & Gray Christmas on your blog! We loved researching the Civil War and writing these novellas. I'm excited to see who will be the winners!

Linda said...

I absolutely LOVE Civil War books. Please enter me. Thanks.
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

judyg54 said...

Thanks for the interviews. I especially liked reading what the authors hoped we would learn from reading their story. Please sign me up for the chance to win this book!

Marjorie said...

A super great giveaway, please count me for this amazing book.

cenya2 at hotmail dot com

Emma said...

This book sounds wonderful.Please enter me in the giveaway.augustlily06(at)aim(dot)com.Thank you.

peachykath said...

These stories sound really amazing. Please enter me in the drawing for this book.


Vickie McDonough said...

Thanks, everyone, for your kind comments about A Blue and Gray Christmas. Good luck to everyone, and for those of you who don't win, I've heard that the book is in Wal-Mart stores

Megan said...

I love that it's about the Civil War... my grandpa passed his love of the civil war down to me! Thanks for the great interview and giveaway, Lena!


Ausjenny said...

Oh I love the picture on the front it looks so inviting.
looks like a great read and I LOVE Christmas novellas but we dont always get them here in australia.
Please enter me.

mez said...

Please include me in the drawing, A Blue and Gray Christmas sounds wonderful. Thanks!

Katherine said...

This book looks REALLY good. I have been a civil war re-enactor my whole life(almost 21 years), so I know that I would LOVE,LOVE,LOVE this book. Please enter me. I hope that I win!


Lauralee Bliss said...

I hope you all enjoy the collection as much as I enjoyed writing it and working with this terrific group of authors.

Rose McCauley said...

I love all of these authors's writing and I love Christmas anthologies, so sign me up!

lastnerve said...

This looks like an awesome book. Please enter me in the contest.

Thanks so much

Jo said...

I love reading Christmas stories and this sounds like such a great read. Please enter me in the drawing.


Virginia said...

Hello, ladies! "A Blue and Gray Christmas" sounds wonderful! I'd love to win! gcwhiskas at aol dot com

Marla said...

Please enter me in the drawing. Sounds like a great Christmas read. Thanks!

JenniferB said...

THis sounds great- wonderful giveaway!

adge said...

Please enter me in the contest. Thanks.

Brenda said...

Please enter me in the contest!
I love Christmas books.

dancealert at aol dot com