Saturday, December 9, 2017

War of Loyalties Giveaway Winners!!!

Friends, we have winners for the War of Loyalties giveaway, and I am thrilled to announce them below!!

Winner of the Grand Prize:

-Print Book
-Jaeryn Graham poster
-War of Loyalties mug

Jordan J 

Winner of the 2nd Prize:

-War of Loyalties ebook
-authentic 1917 postcard

Winner of the 3rd Prize

-War of Loyalties ebook

Lena T 

Congratulations, everyone!! I've contacted the winners by email and will be shipping out your prizes next week. And a huge thank-you to those of you who entered and spread the word! To run a contest with my first published book has been absolutely thrilling!

Friday, December 8, 2017

War of Loyalties Blog Tour Round-up

Today War of Loyalties had its first book signing, and we had a wonderful time. The people hosting it were so sweet, and I got to talk about writing, meet so many neat people, and sell copies of War of Loyalties! It's a wonderful way to close out the official blog party--with an in-person event. :)

But wait! We have 8 hours left to enter to win the prize pack!

Here's the grand prize pack:

First Prize Winner:
-Paperback copy of War of Loyalties
-“Jaeryn’s Vow” 8x10 poster
-Custom War of Loyalties mug

Second Prize Winner:
-Ebook of War of Loyalties
-Real vintage Folkestone postcard (this is a postcard that has actually been posted in 1917.)

Third Prize Winner: (open to international winners)
-Ebook of War of Loyalties

US residents only for 1st and 2nd prizes. Accounts created solely for giveaways not eligible.

Just click this link to enter the giveaway: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And if you haven't had a chance yet, don't forget to visit these incredible blogs who hosted me for the War of Loyalties blog tour!

Blog Tour Posts: 

November 30:

My Lady Bibliophile: Announcement Post 
Lydia Carns: Book Spotlight

December 1

Defending the Legacy: Book Spotlight
The Ink Lizard: Book Spotlight

December 2

Lydia Carns: Author Interview
My Lady Bibliophile: My Heart is Filled With Thankfulness 

December 4
Fullness of Joy--Author Interview 
Kaleigh's Book Reviews--Guest Post: The Heart of Story-crafting in War of Loyalties 

December 5
Sophia White--Guest Post: "Why I Love Historical Fiction" 
My Lady Bibliophile--Interview with Joy, Part 2 

December 6

Hanna-Col Writes: Interview with Terry O'Sean 

December 7

Curious Wren: Interview with Jaeryn Graham

December 8

The Herosinger: Author Interview 

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

A Chat with Joy, Part 2 {+ giveaway}

My lovely friend from Fullness of Joy hosted me over on her blog yesterday for an interview. I love this interview so much because it's not only a get-to-know the book interview, but a get-to-know the author interview as well. Joy thought up some incredible questions, and I'm so privileged to be able to hold part two of the interview on my own blog today!

19. Who is your favourite sidekick (secondary character) in a book/movie/show of your favourite genres? (You are welcome to choose more than one ;).

I adore sidekicks. They’re some of my favorite parts of a book or movie. Current favorite sidekicks include Higgins from North and South movie (his friendship with John Thornton is the best), Lord M from Victoria (yes, partly because I imagine him as Jaeryn) and Samwise Gamgee from Lord of the Rings. I also love the Captain in Cinderella. J

20. As you wrote War of Loyalties, were there aspects of the story that took you by surprise?

Well, Jaeryn kind of took me by surprise. He started out as someone entirely different. There was no mystery or thirst for power in the first draft—I mean, he was always a bit controlling, but not nearly the same as he was in the latest draft. He was a wonderful surprise, though.

21. How have you grown as a writer through attending writer’s conferences and taking writing courses/using how-to creative writing resources? What have been some of your observations of this creative field over the past few years?

I’ve grown incredibly. Writer’s conferences gave me the opportunity to be around people who spoke the same “writing language”, so to speak. It’s always encouraging to be around people who practice the same craft, and having the opportunity to meet authors and agents face to face was invaluable for getting to know the publishing world. It taught me a lot about how to create a proposal, which is a really detailed document, and I think that was a good test for me. Detailed documents aren’t my first love, and I needed that experience for the small business skills I’m using now.  

22. On a festive note, hands down, what’s your all time favourite holiday food and sweet treat?

This is SO hard. Especially because I can’t think of anything traditional…one of my favorite savory things to see every holiday is my great aunt’s cheese ball, which is a mix of cheeses and spices that you can use as a cracker spread. And for sweet, I love the eggnog shakes at McDonald’s! J

23. How do you think the main characters of War of Loyalties would react if he or she were introduced to you?

I think they’d look at me with kind of squinty, confused, slightly-troubled eyes and say “I had no idea you were the reason all of this is happening in my life.” XD

24. In one of your blog-posts, I believe you once pitched your novel for lovers of Dickens, the ITV Victoria series and those who love the olden style of storytelling! Can you share why the combination of those things are so special and stand out as reasons for why readers may want pick up War of Loyalties?

Yes! Well, first of all, War of Loyalties is so big, I try to pair it with Dickens because it’s one of those winding stories that’s designed to be enjoyed over a long amount of time. Also, while love is part of the story, there are lots of other little plots and dramas going on like Dickens. And thirdly, content-wise I know if people like Dickens they’ll approve of War of Loyalties because, sans language (which Dickens includes) War of Loyalties is directed to about the same age level. I also thought if people liked Dickens and Victoria, they would love historical fiction, too!  

25. I know editing & pitching your work has been a long process for you over the past few years. Can you share what this journey has been like & what role your beta-readers, street team, family and close friends played in bringing this work to life?

Yes! I had attended a couple of writer’s conferences by the time I finished the second draft of War of Loyalties (our local writers’ conferences are phenomenal, so I’m lucky!). However, I realized it needed some work, so I put it through one more draft before starting to pitch it to traditional editors. Even though the traditional publishing route didn’t work out for this book (it probably still could have, had I not wanted it published in time for the centennial of the story), I was honoured to talk to so many agents and editors, and I have a high respect for them in the industry.

26. Please tell us a little bit about the journey that brought you to publishing War of Loyalties, particularly your launching the Kickstarter campaign and how that was like!

Yes! I really, really wanted War of Loyalties to be published in 2017, 100 years after the story took place, and I knew to do that, it would have to be self-publishing due to the timeframe we were working with. I always knew pretty much which editor and which cover designer I wanted to use for my book. But for the budget I was working with, I could only think of two options: earn the money on my own, or look at crowdfunding. We'd supported a couple of Kickstarter projects before, so we were familiar with it and decided to give it a try. And God gave so graciously, and people gave so graciously. It really was incredible.

27. Is there a particular song or film that makes you cry every time you watch/listen to it? What is your type of comfort story?

I have many comfort stories, and that’s why I love collecting DVDs. Once I love a story, I want it near me. Two that come to mind are Amazing Grace and The Young Victoria. I used to tear up when I watched them, and the stories of perseverance and love inspire me so deeply on a heart level with my own drive to pursue passions and yearning for close friendship.

28. What have been some of the benefits you’ve experienced with self-publishing so far, and what have been its special pains?

I love this story so much that self-publishing has truly been a joy in being able to be involved in every part of the process. From the cover design to the editing, even to formatting it into a paperback, it really has been a joy. I get to help it all the way through until it launches (with tons of other people whose help has been phenomenal). The pains have been navigating formatting and font licensing. J

29. Can you share with us about the amazing cover-design of your novel, and how it came into being (designer, process, choices, etc.)? It’s stunning, and perfectly captures your novel’s essence to a T, honestly!

I would love to! The folks at Damonza did an incredible job. I picked Damonza because they do K.M. Weiland’s novels, and I thought they were so beautiful and professional. Initially Damonza sent me several covers to choose from, and while all of them were stunning, it was easy to narrow down this one. It captured the spirit of the novel so well, and I loved it best. That night was so special, opening the email, and showing it to my family. After I told them which cover and sent them a couple of small tweaks I wanted, they emailed back the changes, and the process repeated a couple of times until I was happy with the tiniest details. There weren’t any major changes, though. The folks at Damonza were so gracious, professional, and had a fast turnaround! I definitely want to work with them again.

30.  Which character in literature do you think is most like you, or maybe you identify with the most? If someone made a movie of your life, what actress would you cast to play you, and what would be the soundtrack of your life-story?

Oh, wow, this is a great question. For actress, someone once said Emily Blunt (I’ve only seen her in The Young Victoria) and I’ve always liked that choice. I think she could pull off the side of my personality that is always thinking, sometimes insecure, and loves close friends. I don’t know who I would pick to do the soundtrack, but Patrick Doyle would be cool, and I love Alexandre Desplat’s The Light Between Oceans soundtrack.

31. Have you done anything while writing for the sake of this novel that has pushed you out of your comfort zone or taken you personally to unexpected (though not necessarily unpleasant!) places you’d never have gone through/done otherwise?

Yes. Truly, the biggest thing I’ve done outside my comfort zone was returning to my mistakes to fix them after people looked at various drafts of War of Loyalties. It can feel incredibly crippling sometimes to return to a document with feedback about mistakes, even though they were so kindly given and so necessary. It’s a personal piece of you, and you have to figure out how to keep on going when that personal work isn’t just yours anymore. But I had to face the discomfort, which sometimes felt like it was freezing up my ability to move forward and edit the next thing. Each time I have faced the discomfort, my emotional strength has grown, God’s grace has been sufficient, and the book has turned out so much better. I’m grateful for that.

32. What’s your favourite thing about the online writing community (on twitter, instagram and through blogs) that you’ve been part of & what impact have they had on War of Loyalties and on you personally?

I love how people are so encouraging to one another. My circles are small, but people are always giving encouraging words and virtual snacks and cheering each other on. Writing community is so, so important for me because I hate writing alone without being able to talk about my project, so the fellowship is really appreciated! While I already had major drafting done on War of Loyalties before I talked about it online, the Twitter/blogger community received the characters with open arms as I posted blog posts, and their encouraging comments always gave me joy!

33. Now that War of Loyalties is published, what have you been working on lately? Can you tell us a bit more about your current writing projects? (Also a few snippets from your work would be a treat!)

Yes! I’d love to! I’m currently returning to my initial old love and trying to write a Sherlock Holmes novella of my own. That’s going to take some drafting before it’s satisfactory, though (I’m having a traditional Watson POV, and a POV from the main female character). I’m also looking next year at working on the second draft of War of Honor, and I’m outlining a modern-day book with Dickensian vibes, OCD, and female butlers.

Here’s a snippet from the Sherlock Holmes novella, which I’ve currently entitled Schuylock (see what I did there….)

“You were always an odd little woman, Victoria.” Wine splashed against the edge of a crystal glass, and she pressed her lips to it, letting the liquid barely touch. It was strange to think of the last of the London Hathaways holding a glass of wine as if it was a normal thing. The black and white chess pieces stood in battle array. Glancing at the board, she let a small, wolfish smile cross her face. Then she picked up the pawn piece on polished wooden board. “I believe it is checkmate, darling.” Then a flash, a crash, a fall, and checkmate turned into the last one she would ever have to give.

34. And finally, if there was one thing you wished to say to other young writers going through this journey, what would it be?

It’s a beautiful journey. It’s going to take a lot of time, but time as an apprentice to writing is time well spent. Settle into the journey, befriend people who are a step ahead of you, and take the time to find the heartbeat of your story. You will doubt yourself, there will be times when you think you can’t take this story any further, but if the heartbeat is there, then keep on going. Keep on going. Don’t give up. Let us cheer for you.

First Prize Winner:
-Paperback copy of War of Loyalties
-“Jaeryn’s Vow” 8x10 poster
-Custom War of Loyalties mug

Second Prize Winner:
-Ebook of War of Loyalties
-Real vintage Folkestone postcard (this is a postcard that has actually been posted in 1917.)

Third Prize Winner: (open to international winners)
-Ebook of War of Loyalties

US residents only for 1st and 2nd prizes. Accounts created solely for giveaways not eligible.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The War of Loyalties Tour {my heart is filled with thankfulness, part 1} + giveaway

I wanted to take a moment on the War of Loyalties release tour and record the graces that God has provided throughout this project. There are many. So many, I will probably forget some of them.

It's a quiet Saturday afternoon. And I can take time to stop and think.

schuyler, you are always thinking, good gracious 

Last year, in the last week of 2016, I saw a deal on an editing package from an editor I wanted to work with. It was a package I could afford, and it looked really good. But I had to make a decision in a few hours, and I hadn't done any research or asked for a sample edit.

I let the deal pass. I felt sick about it, but at the same time, I felt like it was wrong to book something that big so suddenly. I needed time to think and pray about it.

I always knew pretty much which editor and which cover designer I wanted to use for my book. But I also knew that on the budget I was working with, it wouldn't be possible. I could only think of two options: earn the money on my own, or look at crowdfunding.

Last summer I worked too hard for too long and ended up with some severe depression afterward. I knew that earning the money for the book coupled with getting the book itself ready could be a pretty toxic combination for overwork this year. So I started looking at crowdfunding. We'd supported a couple of Kickstarter projects before, so we were familiar with it. But we'd never done one in our own family. In fact, we've never really done fundraising of any kind. And it was a little nervewracking to consider.

I booked the editor for the part one of War of Loyalties, which I was able to pay for myself. Then I called a new friend who had done a Kickstarter and she generously gave me some advice on mine. I explained the project, ran my plan by her, and she was so encouraging and supportive that I felt empowered to give it a try.

So I collected reward ideas. Budgeted. Wrote up descriptions and shot a video on a rickety tripod. That day I felt more infuriated with the tripod than upbeat for the camera. It still makes me chuckle.

By that point, the launch was already delayed beyond what I had hoped--the start date wasn't until later in May. It would run for 30 days, and that gave me a tight turnaround time, especially because I wanted to book the editor before his schedule filled up. Also, Kickstarter is all or nothing. If you reach funding, you get it all. If you don't reach funding, you walk away without a penny.

It's a step of faith.

After intense pressure and a few tears (learning the ins and outs of sales tax) I was ready to go. But the day I wanted to launch, I did a few more calculations and realized the money I hoped to raise wasn't going to be enough for the entire project.

I think I ended up adding an extra thousand dollars.

This was later than I had planned, and more than I had planned. On a super small scale, it makes me think of Elijah building the altar before the Lord and then pouring water on it because a dry altar wasn't challenging enough (1 Kings 18).

But it was the only thing I could think of. And even if it failed, I had learned so much stuff that I knew the time was well spent.

Then we pushed Launch.

Kickstarter isn't for everyone. It hasn't worked for everyone. There was no magic trick or special ability or best practice that made it work for me. There were slow days when nothing came in. There were days when hundreds of dollars came in. There were dark days of feeling like a fraud, and days when I felt confident. But God kept reminding me to pray.

The end result was the sheer grace and generosity of God working through the hearts and incredible gifts of people who were willing to give. They gave and gave and gave. I remember one night when I was feeling like a fraud, I told my dad that I just wanted the book to be worth what they were giving. He told me, "They're giving because they love you."

When it comes down to it, this book was built on love ever since it began. It was love that made my parents educate me and teach me to read and fill up my soul with good books so that I could pour out words of my own.It was love that wrote the first draft of the book. It was love that made people pray for me through each re-write. It was love that made friends spend a summer helping me through the second draft of the book. It was love that made friends take WoL-themed pictures all around England when I could not come with them. And it was love that brought that Kickstarter all the way to 100% on June 22, 2017. And over all of it was the love of God, who gave so richly of his fullness to make this dream come true.

I'm so thankful for that.

That sale I passed up on? I got to work with the very same editor just the way I had wanted, and God provided every penny.

Next week I'll have more reflections on the journey. In the meantime, be sure to hop over to Lydia Carns' blog for behind the scenes questions about what inspired the WW1 setting and the characters in the book! And stay tuned for even more blog tour fun coming next week!

First Prize Winner:
-Paperback copy of War of Loyalties
-“Jaeryn’s Vow” 8x10 poster
-Custom War of Loyalties mug

Second Prize Winner:
-Ebook of War of Loyalties
-Real vintage Folkestone postcard (this is a postcard that has actually been posted in 1917.)

Third Prize Winner: (open to international winners)
-Ebook of War of Loyalties

US residents only for 1st and 2nd prizes. Accounts created solely for giveaways not eligible.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Announcing the War of Loyalties Giveaway Week

War of Loyalties is LIVE on the Amazon store. After six months of editing, praying, designing, and a concerted effort from friends, it's now

Book Description: 
April, 1917. A ring of German spies threatens the coastal town of Folkestone, England. Newly-recruited agent Ben Dorroll must uncover which British citizens are traitors to their country. When his first attempt at espionage falls prey to a trap laid by German sympathizers, the security of the British Secret Service is threatened. Feeling lost in a strange country and aching for a steady place to call home, he wants to resign and go back to his American medical work. But when he learns that his family identity holds the key to capturing the spy ring, Ben has no choice but to unite with the mysterious Jaeryn Graham so that the truth can be discovered. 

In the aftermath of the Irish Rebellion, Jaeryn Graham's British colleagues look warily on his Irish background. Always up for a challenge, he thinks his new mission in the Secret Service should be an opportunity to prove his prowess. But after encountering death and alienating two agents, he finds the road to victory isn't as easy as he thought. Unless he can win the loyalties of his newest assistant, Ben Dorroll, his secret ambitions and his perfect success record will be destroyed.

You can meet a precious charrie who will do anything for integrity. You can meet an Irish power king. A 16-year-old violin prodigy, and a jolly Irish rebel with a kind servant's heart, a young woman who is strong in the face of abandonment, and a blonde-haired sister with a love for home.

My heart is brimful with joy. We're snatching moments today to marvel and wonder in our home as we celebrate with family and friends, but very soon we're going to kick off the online party too. Tomorrow I'm over talking with Lydia Carns, so stayed turned at her blog here

But today, I wanted to tell you about a special giveaway that I'm kicking off from November 30-December 8th--with your chance to win a copy of War of Loyalties for yourself.

First Prize Winner:
-Paperback copy of War of Loyalties
-“Jaeryn’s Vow” 8x10 poster
-Custom War of Loyalties mug

Second Prize Winner:
-Ebook of War of Loyalties
-Real vintage Folkestone postcard (this is a postcard that has actually been posted in 1917.)

Third Prize Winner: (open to international winners)
-Ebook of War of Loyalties

US residents only for 1st and 2nd prizes. Accounts created solely for giveaways not eligible.

Just click this link to enter the giveaway: a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

War of Loyalties {how to support the book release + upcoming posts}

If you've been wondering how to support War of Loyalties this week, you're in the exact right spot. Here's a handy, easy how-to guide to things that every author loves to see for their book releases!
  • Add the book on Goodreads! This shows it to your friends and gets more people interested. 
  • Purchase the book for Christmas gifts for family and friends. :) 
  • Post pictures of you with the book on social media, or email them to me! 
  • Read and comment on the upcoming blog tour posts. 
  • Share the blog posts with others via social media or email! 
  • Review War of Loyalties on Goodreads or Amazon. 
  • Sign up for the McConkey Press newsletter. (check out the top of this page, on the right.)
  • Share the Amazon purchase links with friends who love books, historical fiction, and BBC dramas! (Coming tomorrow!)
  • Enter the giveaway! (Links coming tomorrow!) 

Be sure to join My Lady Bibliophile throughout this week, as I post links to interviews and guest posts on all kinds of wonderful blogs! I'm so grateful to the team of people who are joining up to spread the word about War of Loyalties, and can't wait to share it all with you! This post will have a master list of all the guest posts and where they're at, so be sure to check back in frequently!


Blog Tour Posts: 

November 30:

My Lady Bibliophile: Announcement Post 
Lydia Carns: Book Spotlight

December 1

Defending the Legacy: Book Spotlight
The Ink Lizard: Book Spotlight

December 2

Lydia Carns: Author Interview
My Lady Bibliophile: My Heart is Filled With Thankfulness 

Monday, November 27, 2017

War of Loyalties {meet Pearlie Dorroll}

all photos taken via Pixabay
This post is a little late...we finished up getting the book baby ready, and had to spend some days recovering...and now we get to spend the next ten days celebrating with you all. :) 

Just over a hundred years ago, in a little town in Virginia, there lived a girl who was used to being forgotten.

Sometimes she didn't mind. On good days, her brother came home after school and talked to her while he worked on homework. At the end of the night, he would pick her up where she fell asleep on his bed and take her to her own bed.

Other days, when he worked after school, she would make supper in the kitchen and wait for him to come back to her.

But ten years later, when her brother left for college, the girl came to realize that she no longer had people to remember her. So she loved the only thing she had left.

And that was home.

Home is all very well to love until home, too, is taken from you. Sent to a strange country with the hope of seeing the father she's never met and the chance to reacquaint with her busy brother, Pearlie finds herself thrust into a place where she is faced with disappointment and danger.

Loneliness she has been used to. Loss of hope is a heavy burden to bear.

Until a red-haired fellow with a Celtic cross tattoo walks into her life.

And everything changes.


Pearlie's favorite things: 

muslin curtains blowing in the wind // a beam of sunshine turning a glass jar of honey golden // a baby's laugh // tea with a friend // scrubbing floors all polished and clean // feeling the strong hug of someone she loves // penmanship all elegant and fine // someone to hold her when she cries // cherries tucked into a flaky pie crust //  first love //  evening lamplight shining on golden curls // an Irish rebel's grin 


He traced a hand down her arm. “What can I do? I want you to be happy here, but I have to keep you safe. Tell me what you want.”
Her breath drew slower as she calmed down, and her little white-gloved fingers twisted in and out of one another. “I want…I want a place that feels like home. A place where I can sweep the floors and put the washing on the line and polish the windows, and love it every day. When you were gone I didn’t have anyone to love, but I could always love home.” Her breath caught and choked. “I want to be loved. I want to see my father.”
Ben thought of Alisa, just come, alone, and desperately in need of help. Perhaps there was a way to fulfill two claims of duty after all. He took Pearl’s hand this time instead of her elbow, and she didn’t feel as tense under his touch. “Maybe I can give that to you after all. I was going to tell you, only you ran away before I came home for supper. Charlotte and I went to see Alisa Dorroll today. She has about a month until her baby comes, and she doesn’t have friends here. We mustn’t tell her who we are. It wouldn’t be safe for her. But if you came as a friend, then you would have an old house full of memory to care for, and I know she couldn’t help but love you. It would be your own place, to make a life for yourself for however long we’re here. Would you like that?”
She thought for a long moment as they took up their walk again towards the line of cabs. Then she nodded. “I would like to try it.”
“Grand.” He squeezed her fingers. “I’ll have to teach you how to actually use a Webley, just to be on the safe side. And mind, you’re not to breathe a word about our relation to her.”
“I can keep secrets.” She glanced up at him sideways.
Ben smiled wryly. “You’ve proven that. Let’s go home for supper.” 


Meet Pearlie Dorroll for yourself on November 30th, 2017. 

Join us tomorrow for a brief post on how YOU can help support the War of Loyalties book release--and don't forget that Thursday kicks off the War of Loyalties book release and blog tour!!! 

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