NFL Draft Day. Every team has a need. Not every team selects or gets what they need. There have been some outlandish trades already and no doubt will be more made during the draft. If you're an NFL fan, this is an exciting day. I'll be watching.
Lord, you've blessed the personnel on this team. May your blessings and conviction continue, building up those who follow you, keeping them strong in you and in your mighty power. Apart from you, we can do nothing. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Thank you to all who sent their congratulations, offered compliments on the cover(s), and even purchased my new novel. You always touch my heart and I want to let you know how much it means to me. Your gracious enthusiasm is so rewarding, and all of you couldn't be better friends. I'm so blessed to know you - even if we've never met in person. You're the best. Thank you.
Lord, I ask that you would pour out your spirit on these dear friends. Bless them in your abundance as only you can do. Please provide for their every need physically, emotionally, and spiritually, and hold them close to your heart. Keep them safe from all harm. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Okay, rustic lovers. How 'bout this? Beautiful, isn't it? Love it.
God, it sounds repetitive to keep saying how your beauty is found in so much of creativity on earth. If it's beautiful, you had your hand in it. Thank you. It's such a treat to experience. Thank you, thank you, thank you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Well, okay, I blew it. Forgot to get a post ready for today. So, although this will mean little or nothing to you, this is our freshly painted shop. Of course it's not striking in this shot, but it really does look terrific in person. The sides and back are metal and they almost "glow" in the sunshine. A shout out to Wheeler Painting (Cornerstone division) for not only doing our kitchen redo but for their gifted efforts in making our new old home pop. The house will be the same colors as you see here. In case you're interested the paint is the high end Evolution from Miller Paint Company designed to endure all kinds of temperatures and weather conditions with a match to the shade here in the Direct To Metal (DTM) for the sides and back. So there you have it.
Father, you've blessed us beyond our ability to articulate. I've said it before and I mean it from my heart: thank you is never enough. You have restored what the locusts have eaten. Thank you eternally. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
So. No more Kate Beckett on Castle? I will assume the series will not be renewed for a Season 9. I mean, it's been Beckett and Castle from the beginning. I don't think it can effectively work without Stana Katic. Rumors have Stana Katic and Nathan Fillion at total odds with each other, unable to remain on set together other than to do their parts. Really? Sounds like hype and gossip to me even though these rumblings aren't new. And there are now opposite reports regarding Fillion's feelings about working with Katic.
Opinions from you Castle watchers?
Father, we're all desperate for you whether we know it or not. I pray those who don't know you will find you and the Truth you offer. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Or when we want to stay where we are. Like out in the sunshine on a lawn chair . . . or on a blanket at the beach . . . or in a comfy place inside . . . or wherever you happen to be that's conducive to getting away in the world of story.
What are you reading at this time?
Father, thank you for the pleasure of being able to read. It's a wonderful thing to read a good story and quite a blessing to write one. Help me to write the stories you have for me to tell. Apart from you, I can do nothing. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
After this, Jesus went out and saw a tax collector by the name of Levi sitting at his tax booth. "Follow me," Jesus said to him, and Levi got up, left everything and followed him.
Then Levi held a great banquet for Jesus at his house, and a large crowd of tax collectors and others were eating with them. But the Pharisees and the teachers of the law who belonged to their sect complained to his disciples, "Why do you eat snd drink with tax collectors and 'sinners'?"
Jesus answered them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance."
So we talked about voice, but there's something that contributes to voice yet stands on its own. A writer's style can eventually be recognized. I recently read an author's latest novel and was surprised when I didn't hear her voice or see her style. Because of that, I didn't really care for the book. For me, it wasn't "her".
Style is formed by the construction of sentences, the uses of verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and things like dashes, ellipses, sentence fragments, and generally whether or not a writer sticks to the more formal grammar or opts for the relaxed and rule-bending choices. Between voice and style, authors can become recognizable in their work even if they vary their genres. A good example of an author who I think has successfully established both his voice and style in different genres is Travis Thrasher. If you've read his rather large scope of differing types of novels, you know what I mean.
Another author who writes thrillers and has a distinctive voice and style is Robert Liparulo. His breakneck speed of thrilling plots only slowed slightly for one of his adult thrillers. It's his style to keep the action moving fast, and he does it well.
Have you determined what styles of writing are your favorites? I enjoy many styles and voices, and I love those that break the norms provided they tell a good story and don't write to show off their literary skills.
Father, we all need you. To use our gifts/talents for your glory, we need your direction. Please direct my writing. I'm desperate for you. Always. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Writers discuss voice frequently. Definitions can be found on most writing blogs. Complex or simple conversations about voice often occupy conference classes.
Here's the thing about voice. If you're a novelist, you've got one. Not everyone will like it. Some will love it. It's not particularly predictable because there's the element of story that weighs heavily upon judgment. Is it possible to have a great voice but not be able to write a good story? Possible? Yes. Probable? Who knows?
How do you describe - not define - a favorite writer's voice? If you write, how do you describe your own?
Father, you've given us the desire to write stories. We do it because our soul longs to tell stories. May what we write bring you pleasure. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Okay. Some of you won't like the ornate cabinetry and off-white wood. It contrasts with the dark wood of the large island which from this picture doesn't appear to complement the flooring. I like the brick back-splash behind the range and that section of counters. Is it possible to have too big an island? This doesn't appear to be a small kitchen but maneuvering around that island might prove to be tricky on the stool side.
Lord, there truly is something for everyone in the designs created. You know all hearts, wants, desires. Your creativity knows no bounds. Thank you for beauty that speaks to all hearts. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
The sensuous cover picture of Cassy Rivers, sister to former Marine Sniper Nicollette Rivers of Atonement fame, depicts the same spunk and sass although not quite as tough a demeanor as her older sister. Cassy survived her harrowing experience from Atonement but is still suffering the effects of having to go near the woods to investigate a tragic incident involving a co-worker. Added to that is the appearance of her former lover FBI Agent Boyce Hunt who is called in to investigate the unusual bank robberies in small town Eider in the McIntire County Series, Book 2 by Winter Austin, published by Crimson Romance.
Inside Born to Die we get a close-up of "Nic's" little sister in action, the lingering fear factor of her past experience, the intense pain and anger she harbors over her relationship with Boyce Hunt, and the inability to resolve her feelings toward her father.
We explore Agent Hunt's deeper motivations, his attachment to Cassy Rivers which he can't completely ignore anymore, why he abandoned her in her time of deepest need. As the contemporary phrase states, "It's complicated."
Grisly murders and unheard of bank robberies seem to be linked which means Agent Hunt might be around for longer than originally planned until he's called back to Tennessee regarding a case of personal concern. His partner Liza takes over while Cassy assumes Boyce will once again leave her behind in spite of his telling her it'll be different this time.
There are twists, turns, profanity, sexual tension and passion in this exciting novel which accelerates the plot as it moves along through each character's emotional crisis. Something's gone terribly wrong in this small town and county, and the FBI, Sheriff's and Eider Police Departments are on full alert. It's Christmastime, and some families clearly won't be celebrating this year.
Cassy outdoes herself in a scene where she and Agent Hunt are held captive in Cassy's home. We see the professional Cassy in action, the woman who's taken charge of her life since her terrifying escapade with a serial killer.
Winter links the crimes effectively, shows the intensity of a relationship that just won't die, incorporates a meaningful auxiliary subplot, and ties up the loose ends with an unexpected and satisfying ending. I highly recommend Born to Die (and Atonement) for those readers who can forge through a bit of bad language and some sexual episodes.
Father, only you can effectively direct our steps as writers. I pray that you would continue to show Winter where you want her to go with her writing and provide exactly what she needs to get there. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
One day as he was teaching, Pharisees and teachers of the law, who had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem, were sitting there. And the power of the Lord was present for him to heal the sick. Some men came carrying a paralytic on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd right in front of Jesus.
When Jesus saw their faith, he said, "Friend your sins are forgiven."
The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, "Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?
Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, "Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? Which is easier to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins . . ." He said to the paralyzed man, "I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home." Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, "We have seen remarkable things today."
*A reminder of Book 1 in the McIntire County Series before reading Born to Die.
Another fabulous cover from publisher Crimson Romanceand another sharp story from author Winter Austin. It's been pointed out here, and some of you agree, the full-face covers don't appeal to us with few exceptions, but this one is so attractive and fits the heroine's persona so well, it's hard not to like it.
Former female Marine Scout Sniper Nicolette Rivers is the talk of the town when she's called upon to keep her aim on a man threatening to kill his family in their home. Another deputy is sent away from the scene since it's his cousin holding the rifle on his family. While she waits for Sheriff Hamilton to give the order, distracting memories attempt to interfere with her focus. Fighting her way through their effects on her, she reluctantly readies herself for the shot.
"Atonement" is the word which keeps surfacing in the notes of supposedly suicidal deaths of several people. The expansion of Deputy Nicolette Rivers' (Nic) and Detective Conlan O'Hanlon's (Con) investigation into the rash of suicides in their small town is caused by the unwelcome intervention of FBI Special Agent Hunt. He adds more information, some forthcoming, some not so much.
The first chapter of Atonement is dynamite, intensity-laced, done perfectly, revealing PTSD symptoms in combat flashbacks, pushing immediate conflict, and exemplifying trained discipline. Winter Austin is noted for her smart, sassy, and traumatized female protagonists. Nicolette Rivers is no exception. She's barely likable at times, utterly out of control at others, and deeply hurting inside allowing no one to penetrate her vulnerability . . . most of the time. But Con has his sights set on those big time walls, intent on bringing them down, enduring her rejections to overcome the obstacles to her heart, all the while working overtime to discover who is really at the center of these suicides.
Because her father is a retired Marine who'd advanced high up the military ladder, there's been some sort of forced agreement over Nic's discharge. The remaining opinion of her father, who she calls "the General", is somewhere between sheer hatred and how she identifies him to her associate as "a cold-hearted bastard". Two events in her life have contributed to her strong feelings but it isn't until late in the story that we learn of them.
Nic's sister Cass adds to Nic's messy conflicted life when she shows up to monitor Nic's "condition". She receives Nic's wrath, but eventually Cass's connection to Agent Hunt and her cop instincts assist with the case until Cass's and Hunt's plan goes terribly awry.
Atonement gives the reader an intense, conflicted, and romantic story with a "red-herring" thrown in for good measure. Multiple peripheral characters make it interesting along with workplace agitation and small town suspicions of the unfamiliar. Taking a fair look at PTSD, Winter Austin invokes sympathy for her protagonist in spite of her sometimes irritating and cynical personality.
The only portion of the story which at first seemed to be abruptly inserted without a backdrop and as an afterthought, but eventually proved useful, was the initial appearance of Nic's horses. I love horses so any inclusion of them into a story is fine with me, but they weren't mentioned as needing care or being a part of Nic's life until their sudden introduction. It felt a bit awkward to me but that's no big deal.
I recommend reading any and all of Winter Austin'snovels if you like romantic suspense with good action, serious plots, troubled heroes/heroines, and satisfying conclusions. Atonement fills the bill. A worthwhile read.
Available May 18th, 2015
Father, continue to use Winter's talent for your purpose and glory. Give her the stories only she can tell. Bless her and her family with your direction and abundance. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
NCIS fans will no doubt welcome this handsome addition to the series while still mourning the departure of Michael Weatherly as Very Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo. The show will definitely not be the same, but let's hope there will be some redeeming episodes to usher in the newcomer and soften the blow of Tony's exit. The pressure is on for the writers.
Introducing readers to Winter Austin (aka Winter Peck), Part Two:
I know you do some research for your novels. How much and how do you choose to get your information?
Research is come as I need it situation. For my novel Atonement, the main character dealt with PTSD, that was easy, as it’s been plastered all over the news and social media. I belong to a lot of Facebook pages where veterans suffering from the disorder talk about what they're dealing with. Articles from reputed publications help me dig a bit deeper. I’ve seen first hand how this affliction affects the sufferer and their families. I’m pretty stingy on where I get my information, too, because there are so many biased pieces out there.
I write about cops, and I have a few friends who are police officers I can consult with. I tend to stay away form watching certain TV shows because of the misinformation they show in order to create the drama.
For the third book in my McIntire County Series, I’ve been reading and researching TBI’s (trumatic brain injuries) this came about after reading a long article in National Geographicwhile in my chiropractor’s office. I knew the next lead role in this book would have it, and it's a deceptive disorder, because many people, most veterans and NFL players, never know they have it until the symptoms get really bad, or worse, they commit suicide.
These are the subjects I don’t shy from. And no subject matter is off-limits to me.
Do you have a set pattern for your writing time? Is your family accommodating to your allotted times when you’re off in storyland?
I recently started a new job that was a prayer come true, I have more leeway with work time so I can get in my writing time. I enjoy the job I do, and that really, really helps with the creative juices.
Yes, my kids have been ‘groomed’ to know when to bug off and leave me alone. In fact they love where we currently live because they can run off to a friend’s house and give me hours of alone time to work—even their friends come over asking if I need to be left alone and they can take my kids. My husband is an Ag teacher/FFA adviser and so if I need him to be somewhere else, he just goes to his shop or his classroom to work. But if the family is bugging me, it’s a good indication it's time to stop and focus on them. Writing will always be there, my kids won’t be kids much longer.
Although you are a woman of faith, you’ve chosen not to write the “typical” Christian novels. You usually include a mention or demonstration of faith in your stories by a particular character, but you also inject some profanity and occasional circumstances which might offend the more rigid Christian readers. Generally speaking, this usually has to do with the audiences a writer hopes to reach. What is your reason for writing the way you do?
When I hoped to be published in the CBA market, I couldn’t break the curtain that editors demanded for books that were to be published. I struggled to even write a faith element that was accepted. To me, my faith is not in what I write, or what I do, it’s who I am. I’m not perfect and my characters aren’t perfect, they live in the real world, they’re influenced by the same things I am and how they react to it shows their faith.
I went where God led me. And He’s opened doors that were shut/slammed/locked in my face. I know His hand is in everything, because I have an editor who shares my faith and knows what I want my characters to say or do without flaunting it. I’ve been given a freedom that was never an option before, and that’s what Christianity is about: Freedom in Christ.
I write dark, gritty, bloody at times. I don’t mince words when it comes to the horrors men inflict on each other. And like I said before, when I’m told I can’t do something, because of x, y, or z, I rebel. I’ll prove you wrong. Personally, I don’t realize what I do until it’s on paper, but ask my editor, ask my readers, somehow, someway, I write characters that reach people, I don’t spew flowers, and rainbows, and God solves it all with His angels in the end. Life is hard, dirty, and ugly, and I don’t ever want to sugarcoat it.
What do you want your readers to take away from your books?
An understanding of what that person next to you might be going through. That maybe your life is reflected in the characters I’ve created. And that there is hope, and love, and faith, and the battle doesn’t have to end on a bad note.
Do you have a favorite story and/or character from your collection or are they all individually satisfying for you?
Right now, it’s hard to say, but I really loved writing Nic Rivers. She’s everything opposite of what a woman is supposed to be. I had a lot of fun just letting go with her, and she’s always been that way.
Her sister, Cassy Rivers, was great to write, too, but I had to be careful with her to not make her, as my editor said, a Nic 2.0. And she’s not.
Finally, what do you want readers to know about you, your writing, your opinion of “Christian fiction”?
Know that you’re going to get a great read, while I write more toward a thriller/suspense style the book is still a romance at the heart and my characters tend to show a more real life progression to their relationships than you might find in a mainstream romance.
As to my opinion of “Christian fiction,” I think there needs to be some huge changes made and for them to pay very close attention to the audiences coming up and what is being read in the indies, because that’s where the readers are going. Quite honestly, unless it’s been a non-fiction book my husband and I are reading, I have not read a Christian fiction novel in over 3 years.
So, there you have her. Thank you, Winter, for taking the time to share your thoughts on reading, writing, and Christian fiction. A lot of people who visit here share some of your views. I'm almost ready with my review of Born to Die, and I too loved Nic Rivers in Atonement. I believe I've read all of Winter's novels and have truly enjoyed them. Talented and entertaining with some twists you just don't see coming. Good writing.
Lord, hold her close and keep her safe. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Interview with Winter Austin (aka Winter Peck), Part One:
Winter, give us some background on you and your writing journey.
I’ve always wanted to be an author, as far back as the fourth grade when I learned that my all-time favorite author, Walter Farley of The Black Stallionfame, had become an author while he was in college. Granted, I never accomplished being an author that early in life, but the dream never died. Most authors will tell you that they have been complimented most of their lives with their writing abilities, and I’m no exception. I had teachers and countless others who noticed, and a few of those teachers tried to push me in that direction—and this shy small-town Iowa farm girl was petrified at times with going out in the big wide world with her talents, so I almost sabotaged my own dream with my fears. It wasn’t until I had a few people tell me I could never make a living doing it and that I shouldn’t waste my time after false hope that set the fires. Introvert went into hiding and the extrovert came out.
I started the serious journey to publication after the birth of my twin sons. Two more kids later, several moves, learning with each step of the way, a deployment, I reached a level that got me noticed by an agent, and finally I made it to my first writers conference. With a few more years under my belt, I landed my first book contract with the help of three other published authors, then there was a change in agents. But it was the four book contract with my publisher that I’m most happy with that happened in October of 2012. By that time the decision was made to leave the CBA market and join the general market where my style of writing was more accepted. The accumulation of years from the birth of my sons to publication was 14 years. 14 years of never giving up and never giving in when there was opposition. And I don’t regret one step.
Today I fight more with finding time to write while working, being an integral part of my kids’ lives, and all the trappings of promoting and marketing my books while people demand my time.
What kind of novels do you read?
I do have a short range of genres I love to read from, but you’ll always find suspense/mystery/thriller books on my nightstand or on my Nook. Far back as I can remember I’ve loved the mystery/suspense genre. I don’t read straight romances any more unless its from a certain author, if it's a romance it's always a romantic suspense or a paranormal or futuristic. Depending on the author, I will read some fantasy and young adult novels. And here as of late, thanks to my sons, I’ve fallen in love with the superhero/comic books.
Your female protagonists tend to be tough, smart, and sassy with hardship and/or sorrow in their pasts. Does that have any resemblance to personal history?
About the only thing my heroines might get from me is sass. I didn’t exactly have the hardships and sorrows in my life that I put my gals through. But I do draw from some things around me, that have happened, or what I’ve observed. I like to think of myself as tough in certain aspects, but I’m still a woman and I don’t make no bones about being that.
Winter's novel Born to Diebecame available on March 28th. To get the best preview to this novel, read Atonement first.
Lord, please continue to inspire Winter, direct her every step, and keep her safe from all harm. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.