Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pirates, Princesses, and Peeking into the Marden's Mark Series #Giveaway

Howdy y'all! Crystal Barnes here and I've got a talented lady with me today who's as special as her name--my buddy and fellow author, Kathrese McKee! Kathrese and I belong to the same ACFW chapter here in Texas, but you don't always see her in our group photos because she's more often than not the gal behind the camera. :)

Welcome to Stitches Thru Time, Kathrese. For those of us who don't have the privilege of knowing you, tell us a bit about yourself.

Thanks, Crystal, I’m happy to be here. For those who haven’t met me before, I am an author, teacher, and editor. My goal is to write epic adventures for young adults and anyone else who enjoys pirates and princesses combined with life's difficult questions. That means exciting stories, appropriate content, and quality craftsmanship. I am married to my college sweetheart, and we have four children, two grown-ups and two teenagers, three girls and one boy. I wasn’t born in Texas, but I was born to Texans. I hope that counts.

What are you currently writing?

Currently, I’m working on the second full-length novel in the Mardan’s Mark series. The first book is Mardan’s Mark, and the second one will be Mardan’s Anointed. There is a novella, Healer’s Curse, that should be read between the two books. I call it a companion novella to Mardan’s Mark because it takes place concurrently with that book. Characters from Healer’s Curse reappear in Mardan’s Anointed.

But back to your question. Mardan’s Anointed is at 135,000 words and counting. I’m close to the end, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I will have to give it a savage edit to keep the word count reasonable. I keep thinking about J.K. Rowling’s books in the Harry Potter series and how they grew longer as she progressed.

Mardan’s Anointed has to be on the long side because Aldan and Srilani, the main characters, both go through huge changes in their lives. That requires space. It feels like I’m writing two books at once, but hopefully, readers will appreciate how their stories intertwine.

I love the covers of your books! They look and sound so intriguing. Where did you get the inspiration for your story?

I would say that the entire series was inspired by Old Testament stories, especially the story of Deborah, but it’s a mash-up of patriarchs, judges, and kings. And pirates. Ha!

But seriously, my children were my inspiration for getting started. Back in 2007, I challenged my oldest daughter, Sarah, who was a senior in homeschool, to do NaNoWriMo with me.

We both wrote up a storm that November, and I simply kept writing after NaNoWriMo ended. I have notebooks full of handwritten chapters that will (thankfully) never see the light of day.

Later—much later—I decided that I had to get serious about Young Adult fiction, and I rewrote Book One with the encouragement of Laura Anderson Kurk, my critique partner and mentor. She writes Contemporary YA, but she graciously helped me with my epic adventure fantasy. I will forever be grateful to her for getting me started.

I'm glad you're working to give our young folks something wholesome to read that includes a great and godly message. What do you hope folks will take away from your story?

I hope they will take away a deeper appreciation of God’s nature without feeling as if they have read a sermon. In my stories, the Creator is referred to as “El.” Naturally, I want my readers to experience a rollicking good time, but I also want them to think about the nature of God and his care for us. His justice and his mercy. His timing and his will. My characters get pushed hard to make difficult, life and death choices. They believe in El, but they have to learn to trust him too. I expect any mention of a Creator will put off some readers, but for those who are searching, I hope they will be drawn closer.

Sounds like a wonderful message that you've weaved into your story. Thanks for sharing, and speaking of sharing... 

Do you have a favorite scene in the book? If so, can you tell us a bit about it?

Hmm. Can I do that without spoilers? Well, I suppose anyone who reads the cover of Mardan’s Anointed will be able to figure out that Srilani’s transition to palace life from surviving in the wilderness isn’t going to be a smooth one. One of my favorite scenes is between her and her maid, Ana, as Srilani insists that she will be wearing a sword at all times from then on. Srilani asks Ana to procure a more attractive belt and scabbard. Here’s a snippet:

"But why? None of the other ladies at court wear swords."

Srilani gave an unladylike snort. "None of them have been stolen by pirates either.” She closed her hands into fists on her lap. “We were with a squad of soldiers when we were abducted. We were supposed to be secure. The one lesson I learned from that experience is that I am responsible for my safety. If Father sets guards around me, I can’t rely on them entirely.”

Ana’s sympathetic expression encouraged Srilani to finish her confession. “I keep thinking that if I had worn a weapon that day, been a little quicker, fought a little harder, then things might have turned out differently." She stood and picked up the belt. "So tonight, I will wear my sword in this ugly scabbard, but for tomorrow evening, I want something more fitting. Can you do that?"

Sounds like my kind of gal. :) Lots of spice. 

Tell us, what is the quirkiest thing you've ever done?

A few years ago, I went to the trouble and expense of learning to ride a motorcycle as sort of a birthday present to myself. I even earned a license to drive one. But since then, I’ve never been brave enough to try it. If I ever do get up the nerve, I want to try one of the three-wheeled motorcycles like the Can-Am Spyder.

When you do, I want a ride! :D 

Before I stop asking questions of you, please tell our readers where they can connect with you. Where can readers buy your book(s)?

Readers can connect with me at My books are available on Amazon, but soon, they will be available in more places. Crystal, thanks for including me in Stitches Thru Time. I had fun!

It's been a thrill having you here, Kathrese! I'm so glad you could join us. 

Folks, Kathrese has kindly offered to giveaway one FREE paperback copy of Marden's Mark to one of this post's commenters. (Sorry, only shipping within the US. Winner to be announced in Monday's Weekly Windup post.)  

So let's chat... How many of y'all like pirate stories? Do you or someone you know enjoy reading young adult novels? Have you ever ridden a motorcycle?

Friday, October 21, 2016

Interview With Caroline Gibson and Andy Carrington...from Undiscovered Treasures

I'm thrilled to introduce these two protagonists from the third book in the Appleton, West Virginia Romantic Mystery series: Undiscovered Treasures.
(Sabotaged Christmas, Book 1: (finalist in the Book Excellence Contest in Fiction), and
Knight in Shining Apron, Book 2.

Let's welcome these two that are featured in their own book!

Me: Caroline, let's start with you. Why do you  want to be known as Caro instead of your full name--Caroline?

Caroline: Because it's much too prestigious for me. I'm not a beauty like Starli Cameron (Peterman-Blair) or sweet and gentle like Toni DeLuca-Douglas, both are my very best friends. I'm just me, freckles, big mouth and undistinguished hair. I talk too much when I'm nervous and ask too many questions. I often speak my mind, to my own detriment. But I do love my business Undiscovered Treasures and I love God. 

Andy: Don't believe her. Let ME describe her: she's a talented playwright and seeing some success with her meaningful comedy plays. As she said, she co-owns Undiscovered Treasures, which is a thriving antique/collectibles and a little junk thrown in for full measure-business. She's a marvelous Youth Leader, and the young people adore her. She might not always have "dress sense," but she has a big smile and beautiful, expressive eyes. She's loyal to her friends, is caring and works hard for the underdogs of the town, and most everyone feels safe to confide in her. Most of all she's a faithful christian. She deserves to be called Caroline.

Me: Wow, that's some recommendation, Andy. Why did you decide to be an artist?

Andy: I didn't actually decide in the normal way. I've always known I loved creating and thought at one time I might become a teacher, then later a designer. But as time went on, I came to accept that my true love was painting--in oils. From then on, I haven't looked back.

Caroline: He's really good, too! 

Me: I can imagine. Can either of you explain to us what mystery is going on in your book?

Andy and Caroline speak together, then laugh. Andy speaks: Someone is stealing my paintings. Three of them, in fact. And one of a special painting I did was destroyed--slashed. 

Me: Can't you tell us who it is?

Caroline and Andy exchange amused glances, then Caroline speaks: Absolutely not. If you want to know, you'll have to read the book! :)

Me: That sounds like some good advice. Now, one final question:  I heard you both love the rain. Why? 

Andy, laughing: I'll tell you what. The first one who gives the closest answer as to why we both love the rain, I'll coax our author to send you a kindle copy of the book. How does that sound?

Caroline: Come on, Andy, give them another hint. 

Andy: Okay, but just one  word.

Caroline: Romantic city.

Andy: Hey, that's more than one word! 

Caroline, smirking: I know. I want someone to guess the answer! Oh, by the way, I hope whoever wins enjoys the book so much, they write a review. Authors love that!

Me, laughing at them: Thank you, Andy, Caroline. 

There you have it, Readers. Whoever can guess the answer to their question: rain, romantic city, and why they love the words, gets a free kindle copy of Undiscovered Threasures! 

Thanks for joining us today! 


Besides being an active participant of many writing groups, Carole is an award winning author and enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense, tough topics, romance and whimsy into her books, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons? 


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Stranded by Don and Stephanie Prichard: An Edge of Your Seat Story



First they had to survive the island … then each other … then their rescuer.

All Marine Corps reservist Jake Chalmers wants is to give his dying wife a last, romantic cruise to the Philippines. Unable to save her in a mass murder aboard ship, he washes ashore a jungle island, where he discovers three other survivors. Heartbroken that he failed to save his wife, he is determined not to fail these helpless castaways.

Federal prosecutor Eve Eriksson rescues a young girl and her elderly great-aunt from the same ship. They badly need Jake's survival skills, but why is he so maddeningly careful? She needs to hurry home to nail a significant career trial. And, please, before Jake learns her secret that she's responsible for his wife's death.

And survive they did! Oh My Gosh! There’s one thing I know for certain—if I’m ever stranded on a desert island, I want this hero to be there with me! The survival skills of the hero seemed real—no doubt due to author Don Prichard, who is a Viet Nam vet. The setting, the dangers, and the problems the cast faced all rang true.

I received a copy of this book as a gift last year when Don and Stephanie were spotlighted on my blog. I have to tell you I was blown away by this story. It has it all: danger, intrigue, adventure, and love. The perfect combo for a great story.
Don and Stephanie Prichard have written an exciting, throw-everything-at-the-characters, plot- driven book that also deals with faith issues. Each of the characters must face themselves and their belief, or non-belief, in God as they struggle to survive on a deserted island filled with danger at every turn. 

I personally like my faith elements to be organic, addressed in a realistic manner. At no time did I feel as if I was being preached to while reading about these characters and their faith. Instead, I was pulled along as they agonized over their flaws and issues and I rejoiced when they figured things out. For me, that is the benchmark of a great inspirational novel.

If you like adventure mixed with your inspirational elements, don’t miss this book!