Saturday, May 27, 2017

Closed for a Season

Hey, everyone!

Sarah Holman here! My sister is getting married this summer. I am trying to balance all my online work but something had to give. So, there won't be any post on this blog for the summer. Homeschooled Authors will resume normal posting in September.

You can still contact us at homeschooledauthors@gmail.com

Sarah

Monday, April 10, 2017

A.J. Sky on Firestorm


A.J., welcome to Homeschool Authors! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thank you for having me!
I'm a contemporary Christian fantasy author with a passion for page turners full of mystery, adventure, fantasy, faith, friendship, courage, and light that shines in even the darkest places. I'm also a horse-loving Northwoods girl with a weakness for coffee, a graduate from a 30+ year veteran homeschooling family, and the fifth of six kids.

Everyone’s homeschooling experience is different. What do you think made yours unique?
The biggest thing that made my experience different from the other homeschoolers I know was being raised by a single mom, which meant facing a lot of extra challenges. Everyone had to pitch in to take care of each other and make ends meet. We went without a lot of things and went through some tough times, but it made us closer as a family and taught us invaluable life lessons like hard work, perseverance, creativity, teamwork, thankfulness for even the smallest things, and compassion and generosity toward others in need. It's also taught us to find humor and fun in seemingly dreary circumstances, such as when we couldn't afford heat. It got so cold we could see our breath inside, but everyone just laughed and joked about getting toughened up to the cold like our Viking ancestors. So hard times can make you strong and adaptable! The secret to getting along in all circumstances is simple: We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.

For a lot of years it felt like we were alone in our situation. Then my family participated in the Homeschool Legal Defense Association's single parent survey (January/February 2011 cover story of HSLDA Magazine, Single, Not Alone). That's when we discovered there are actually about 20,000 single parent homeschool families going through similar struggles across the country.

I wouldn't wish being fatherless (or being a single parent) on anyone, but God is the best Father in the universe, and He can work all things together for good.

How did being homeschooled prepare you to write?
It allowed my education to be adjusted to my personal learning style. It nurtured curiosity and a love for learning. It gave me freedom to jump ahead in areas where I excelled while lingering on things I struggled with until I got the hang of them. I am very much a learn-by-doing girl, and homeschooling gave me the kind of educational environment I flourished in. I'm so thankful that my strong and selfless mom chose to keep homeschooling us despite the mountainous hardships of being a single parent.

I also got a lot of hands-on and unique life experiences, which is fantastic food for a writer's mind! I've worked a wide variety of jobs, lived in a wide variety of places, and interacted with all different age groups. Many of those experiences have seeped into my stories and the lives of my characters.


What caused you to start writing?
Some things are just part of who we are. The passion for stories was always one of those things for me. I guess books are in my blood, because for as long as I can remember aloud reading and listening to audiobooks has been a favorite way to spend family evenings. Growing up, even when everyone was quietly doing their own thing while listening, it was a bonding time as we were all together and engrossed in the same world of the story. I can't remember a night when we didn't all beg for 'just one more chapter' when it was time for bed.

I remember looking through books when I was little and dreaming up my own tales to go with my favorite illustrations. Sometimes after watching a movie or studying a certain historic event, I'd make up a retelling in my head and tell it to my siblings. I scribbled bits and pieces of stories and poetry while practicing penmanship, which usually led to me getting caught up in my imagination and forgetting all about making my handwriting pretty. . .or readable for that matter. Then when I got older, I found myself choosing names for my future characters while other girls were picking out names for their future kids. When other girls wanted to go shopping for clothes I groaned, but no one could drag me out of a bookstore!

The older I got, the more I started to realize how my favorite books and movies, both fictional and true stories, had a profound impact on my own character and the shaping of my dreams. They were some of my greatest role models. Even Jesus himself, our ultimate role model and hero of the greatest book ever written, used stories to illustrate his teachings. Stories are powerful. They can literally shape people's character and even entire cultures.

Personally, great books have given me a lot of the same things that great friends bring to life. Inspiration, comfort, laughter, hope, encouragement, perspective, an escape, good memories, something to look forward to after a long day, etc. So in a way, being a storyteller allows you to be a friend and light in the lives of people you will never get to meet another way. And best of all, stories can outlive their authors and go on to touch future generations. A story told today can be treasured by a heart that starts beating a hundred years from now.

That's what really drew me to writing.


What inspired Firestorm?
A variety of things, including current issues such as human trafficking in the USA. The dragons themselves were inspired by a number of different things. I've always been fascinated with dragons, dinosaurs, mysterious beasts, etc. So when I started studying the King James Bible and discovered several mentions of dragons that newer translations had changed to things like 'crocodile' (which I found far less epic), it really excited my imagination. I love studying creation and the bizarre 'superpowers' found in many animals and decided to incorporate some of those things into my dragons. So although they are fantasy creatures, the inspiration for them came from a mashup of real-life animals.


Would you give us a synopsis?
Dragons were once considered mere legend. . .
but some legends live and breathe.

Growing up as a friendless kid constantly bullied for his disfiguring facial birthmark, Caiden Blade always dreamed of becoming a heroic defender of mankind. So when he gets an exciting job that promises to protect a small mountain city from the impending spread of a dangerous, newly discovered species once thought to be mythical, he couldn't be more thrilled. But the illusive mountain creatures he is sent to help capture are far from what he expects. . .

The small city of Paikka had been struggling in the aftermath of a terrorist attack when Doctor Maverick Blackwood discovered and captured dragons in the nearby mountains. That discovery transformed Paikka into a booming tourist hotspot. Everything from dragon claw jewelry to dragon fight video games are all the rage as dragon fighting becomes one of the nation's top televised sports.

But there is more to Doctor Blackwood than the droves of tourists and busy souvenir shop owners know. Something more than brutal battles between the dragons in his arena is going on inside the walls of Blackwood Tower, but no one in the now flourishing town wants to know what it is. . .except for Caiden Blade.

Who will enjoy Firestorm?
Anyone who likes a clean, fast-paced contemporary fantasy or action adventure read could enjoy it. The characters range in age from early teens to sixties, so even the grandparents will have a hero to root for!

Do you plan to write more books?
Absolutely! A StormBreathers companion book, The Dragon Diary, will be published shortly. Icestorm, the sequel to Firestorm, is already underway.

Where can people connect with you online?

My website: AJSky.weebly.com
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16033700.A_J_Sky
Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/AJSkyAuthor/

Firestorm is currently available on:
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/firestorm-aj-sky/1125511440?ean=9781538014851
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/A.J.-Sky/e/B01M5ION0E/
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/firestorm-71

Do you have any final thoughts?
A family snuggled up in the living room, listening intently as their mom reads a well worn and loved book that she cherished growing up and is now one of her children's favorite stories. A book that was passed on from generation to generation. A book that outlived its author and was a light in the lives of those who read it. . . That is my ultimate writerly dream.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Benita Prins on Sea of Crystal, Sea of Glass


Benita, welcome to Homeschooled Authors! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thank you for having me! I’m delighted to be here. I’m a homeschooled highschool senior whose favourite things in life are my faith, Baroque music, Middle-earth, and silence. Besides my love for reading and writing, I enjoy studying theology and philosophy, and I’m looking forward to studying liberal arts at a small Catholic college next year.

How did being homeschooled prepare you to write?
My greatest debt to homeschooling is the emphasis that was placed on proper grammar and especially learning to write well. I won’t say I liked writing essay after essay, but I’m very thankful for it, since it taught me to give structure and eloquence to a piece of writing.

What caused you to start writing?
All the stories I acted out with my sisters had to be written down eventually! I was enamoured of Little House on the Prairie for several years and every day after school we would go outside and pretend to be Mary, Laura, and Carrie. Unsurprisingly, my first books were mostly pioneer stories. Reading is a big thing in our family – my dad is a secondhand bookseller – and creating my own books seemed like the most natural thing in the world, I suppose.

What inspired Sea of Crystal, Sea of Glass?
I am passionately pro-life, and the initial spark for Sea of Crystal, Sea of Glass came when I was pondering on how our society unquestioningly accepts that abortion is a good thing, because it’s been established and promoted by the elite. In my book, the people of Kelyan follow the cult of the Illyrië, a key point of which is child sacrifice. The sacrifice is simply accepted by everyone, because they are familiar with it, and because everyone else seems to think it’s fine and they may as well go along with the crowd! I took this idea and the rest of the story flowed from it.

Would you give us a synopsis?
When faced with the impossible and the unthinkable, choose the impossible.

All that fifteen-year-old Einur Landman has left in the world are his flock of sheep and his beloved little sister. His entire life's purpose is to keep Lody safe from the evil ruling class. But he never expected that it would be his own name that was drawn for the child sacrifice. Leaving Lody with his promise to return, Einur escapes into the wild where he meets a stranger with a plan to bring down the Illyrië. Forced to choose between the unthinkable – Lody’s probable death – and the seemingly impossible, Einur takes the latter.

In his quest from his mountain village, through countless dangers, to the sea itself, everything Einur believes will be tested. For Lody's sake, can he make a final crucial choice and stand firm to the end?

Who will enjoy Sea of Crystal, Sea of Glass?
Readers of all ages and faiths have enjoyed Sea of Crystal, Sea of Glass, but the main audience is Christian teens. High schoolers who enjoy Tolkien, Narnia, or The Hunger Games will also enjoy Sea of Crystal, Sea of Glass.

Do you plan to write more books?
Certainly! I am working on three projects at the moment. The first two are fantasy; the third is a contemporary YA fairytale romance. The storyline is the ‘common girl meets prince and they fall in love’ one, and it takes place in Holland, where my grandparents are from. Although I love writing fantasy, I’ve had loads of fun exploring a completely different genre.

Where can people connect with you online?
benitajprins.wordpress.com
twitter.com/benitajprins
goodreads.com/benitajprins
facebook.com/benitajprinsauthor
plus.google.com/+BenitaPrins
pinterest.com/benitajprins

Monday, March 27, 2017

Daniel Mount on The Faith of America's Presidents


Daniel, welcome to Homeschool Authors! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Thanks for the opportunity! I'm a website designer by day and an author and songwriter in my off hours. I also love playing piano; I was a church pianist for eight years in my teens and early twenties.

Everyone’s homeschooling experience is different. What do you think made yours unique?
When I was fairly young, my parents heard a message called "Delight-Directed Learning" by Gregg Harris. The concept was to find an area that a child is already interested in, and connect those areas of interest to academics. It was pretty obvious by the time I was nine or ten that I loved history, so I ended up doing history-related projects as English and History assignments.

How did being homeschooled prepare you to write?
I doubt I would have become a writer were it not for my parents assigning me writing projects on topics I was interested in. I found run-of-the-mill essay topics in college as boring as anyone else! But I loved writing about topics that I loved.

What caused you to start writing?
I started my first major writing project when I was nine or ten. It was an aviation history newsletter that I put out for eight years, six times a year. About the time I started, I went to church with a B-17 tail gunner and a P-47 fighter pilot. They started telling me their stories, and I was fascinated! I started interviewing them and writing book reviews. I did that until I was eighteen or so, when college and a book project ended up taking precedence.

What inspired The Faith of America's Presidents?
As a teen in my high school years, I decided to try to find a book on the presidents, with a chapter on each president's faith. I found a number of related books, but I couldn't find anything that was current and focused on a president's personal faith and doctrine. So I decided to write one.

Would you give us a synopsis?
Sure! There's a chapter for each president from George Washington through George W. Bush. (It came out in 2007. I'm currently working on a second edition, updated and revised.) The primary focus for each chapter is the president's personal faith, both in piety and in doctrinal orthodoxy. For presidents where it's particularly relevant, I do examine how their faith impacted their presidencies.

Who will enjoy The Faith of America's Presidents?
Over the last ten years, I've found that most of the people who really liked it were pastors, homeschooling parents, or homeschooled students. Just because of its length, it tends to appeal to readers around 12 and up, though I do have one friend whose particularly precocious younger brother read it cover-to-cover at around age eight!
Most read selected chapters on the presidents that most interest them.

Do you plan to write more books?
Yes. In fact, I already have! Several years ago, I worked with Dianne Wilkinson, one of the most acclaimed songwriters of all time in Southern Gospel music, on her autobiography. It's called Dianne Wilkinson: The Life and Times of a Gospel Songwriter. I did a series of extensive interviews and turned it into the book.

Also, for eight years, I ran Southern Gospel Journal, a news website in that same genre. I wrote over 3,000 posts, containing over 1 million words. Last year, I took the fifty best posts and published them in book form as Southern Gospel Journal: An Anthology.

Currently, my primary book project is a second edition of The Faith of America's Presidents. Also, over the last few years, I've been slowly collecting notes and writing preliminary drafts on books on several topics, including the history of the text of the Greek New Testament and principles for how Christians should communicate in this internet/blog/social media era.

Where can people connect with you online?
My main website is https://danielmount.com/. I post songs I write at https://tomorrowshymns.com/. Finally, I launched https://expositorysongs.com/ last year after about five years of research. That site's concept is finding songs where the main idea of the song matches the main idea of a passage of Scripture. Presently I have songs from Romans - Philippians posted; I'm going through two chapters per week.

As far as social media, I use Facebook and Instagram mainly for keeping up with close friends and family. My only public account is on Twitter: https://twitter.com/danieljmount I left Twitter several years ago; I just returned a few days ago to set up an account so I could have something accessible to the public.

You know, I don't have any burning desire to be famous. I'm perfectly happy to work on my writing projects in peace and quiet. I've been close enough to various celebrities in various fields to know that it's not for me. It's my ambition to lead a quiet and peaceable life, and hopefully, once in a while, write something that's worth its readers' time.

Do you have any final thoughts?
Thank you for doing this website! It's a cool concept. It was neat to be browsing the Internet the other day and stumble across your post on my book. But it's even more neat to take part in your interview series. Thank you for this opportunity!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Faith Blum on Savior, Like a Shepherd


Faith, welcome back to Homeschooled Authors. What have you been up to since the last time you were here?
I honestly can’t remember when I was here last, but I think it was shortly after the publication of my second book. Since then, I was able to quit my part-time job to concentrate full-time on writing. It’s been great! Of course, that means I’ve been doing a lot of writing and editing and marketing as I work on serving God through this media.

What draws you to the old west?
Ever since discovering my dad’s Louis L’Amour book collection and reading my first one, I’ve been drawn to the ruggedness and wildness of the Old West. I think it’s such an open genre to explore and I’ve loved writing about that time.

What inspired Savior, Like a Shepherd?
One of my novellas. Seriously. I wrote a novella about a young lady who becomes a mail order bride and on her way to meet her husband, she comes in contact with Titus. Titus is a twelve-year-old orphan who is trying to take care of his brother and sister but is disadvantaged by the fact that he and his siblings were born illegitimately to a lady of the night. Adelaide does what she can, but I wanted to explore his story more and see what happened to him after she left.

Which character are you most like?
Adelaide Brown. I have an advantage that anyone who reads only this book doesn’t, I spent a lot of time with Adelaide while writing her story and this one. Miss Brown isn’t actually in this story for very long, but she and I are quite a bit alike in many ways, but not all.

Was this book harder or easier to write than your last book?
My last book published book was my novella collection, but all three of those novellas were published last summer, so I guess I’ll base it on The Solid Rock instead since that was my last published novel. Tough question, honestly. I think it was harder and easier in some ways. The Solid Rock came together so easily in the first draft and the editing went pretty smoothly. I had to add some scenes to both books and make some hard decisions about others. On second thought, I think they were really about the same. Savior, Like a Shepherd may have been a little harder mainly because I had to do a little extra research.

If you could spend a day with one of the characters from Savior, Like a Shepherd, which would it be?
You certainly know how to ask hard questions. All of them! Okay, that’s not a good answer because that would be too many people. I’ll say Tabitha from about halfway through the book. I’d love to sit down and talk to her for a while and see what she thinks about certain things that happen to her. (Sorry to be vague, I’m trying not to give too much away.)

What is next for you?
The next three books in the Orphans of the West series. All the books in this series are easily read as standalones, but they will also all connect in the next series, Soldiers of the West. Somehow. I have to figure that out exactly sometime.  Right now, though, I’m concentrating on the Orphans of the West. I have the second book in the editing stage and the third one will hopefully have the rough draft finished by the time this interview is published. That’s my goal anyway. Then I need to start doing a better outline for book four.

Where can people keep up with you?
How about too many places? I feel like I have too many social media sites and blogs. The best places are probably my Wordpress blog, Amazon, and Bookbub since you’d get emails from them either when I post or when I release a new book. If you want more fun details than those, Facebook and Instagram are probably the best places. Here are the links: Website | Wordpress | Blogger | Facebook | Pinterest | Twitter | Amazon | Bookbub | Instagram

Any final thoughts?
Thanks for letting me come by! It’s been fun!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Book Review: Finding Joy


Buy it Here
Age Appropriate For: 13 and up for mild romance
Best for Ages: 15 and up
Description: Sometimes, what looks like a dead end, is really a new beginning. 
A horrific accident changed everything for Parker Wilson. Unable to find solid footing in his disrupted life, he returns to his family's ranch, a place he thought he'd left behind for good. The scars on his face are a daily reminder of all he's lost, yet his mom still insists he needs to stop hiding and live his life again. The beautiful new employee she hires is the last thing he needs, despite his mom's best intentions, and he'll do whatever it takes to make the girl quit and regain the peace and quiet he prefers. 
Nothing short of desperation would force Chelsea Blake to work on a local cattle ranch. But if she's going to avoid her parents' judgment when they arrive in three weeks, she must turn the temporary job into a permanent one. Between dodging mud, feeding longhorn cattle, and dealing with a handsome boss who keeps giving her the cold shoulder, staying gainfully employed is proving to be a challenge. Chelsea may not be cut out for ranch life, but her determination to succeed is stronger than Parker's efforts at forcing her to leave.  
Unprepared to discover all they have in common, if they set aside their initial dislike, they just might find joy beyond measure.

I like deep books that make me think and inspire me. However, every once in a while it is nice to take a break and read something that is just light and fun. Finding Joy is one such book. I received a copy for review and curled up on a sick day to read. It was a good companion that left me feeling happy.

The setting was one that I know well, as I live in central Texas and we actually have a longhorn farm not too far from us. The author, I am happy to say, knew her stuff and took some time to give the reader a little of an education, without making it obvious that was what she was doing.

Both Chelsea and Parker were lovable and believable characters. They each have their own issues and struggles that help the reader feel connected to them. However, none of those issues are weird or so heavy that they keep the book from being enjoyable.

The romance was very sweet and not to overdone. Personally I thought there was one scene where Parker had his shirt off that wasn’t great, but the author didn’t go overboard, so it wasn’t an issue. The kisses were not drawn out to the point I was rolling my eyes or felt embarrassed. They were sweet, and then the characters moved on.

The faith aspect was there. It was not a major part of the story, nor do I think the story would have been the same without it. It felt as if it was just part of the normal rhythm of life, which is a good thing.

Overall, I thought the book was nice. I look forward to picking up more books by this author.


I recived this book in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review. All the thoughts are entirly my own.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Melanie D. Snitker on Finding Joy



Melanie, welcome back to Homeschooled Authors. Tell us what you have been up to since you were last here?
Thanks so much for the opportunity to come back and visit! A lot has happened in the last year and a half. I’ve published a handful of books, with my seventh novel, Finding Joy, coming out tomorrow. I did take several months off from writing last summer so I could focus on some other aspects of my life and family. It was a wonderful decision, and when I came back to writing, I felt refreshed and ready to jump back in.

How has writing the Love's Compass series impacted you?
Writing this series has grown into so much more than I originally imagined it would. When I wrote the first book, Finding Peace, I had hope that I’d be able to stretch the series into three books. But with each of them, the characters came alive, secondary characters begged for their moments in the spotlight, and I quickly discovered that the series had a life of its own. Finding Joy is now the fifth book with at least one more planned for later this year.
I think what keeps inspiring me to add to this series, and what keeps readers looking forward to the next book, is the connection between the characters. For example, I briefly introduced Chelsea in Finding Peace as Laurie’s sister. Now Chelsea finally gets her own story in Finding Joy, but we get all kinds of fun updates on Tuck and Laurie. We see brief glimpses of other members of the Chandler family as well.
All these characters have become so real to me and I have a hard time imagining writing the last book, because, in my mind, their stories and lives just keep building. I love it when readers tell me they feel the same way.

Were any of the events in Finding Joy based on your life?
Truthfully, who Parker and Chelsea are and where they’ve come from in life is nothing like what’s happened in my own life. lol But the setting for the book is loosely based on a place I had the opportunity to visit in person.
Parker and his family live on a ranch that includes a small herd of Texas longhorns. I’d personally seen longhorns from time to time traveling through Texas, but that was as close as I’d gotten. I’m incredibly blessed that one of my friends owns the Whining Bull Ranch and her family invited me to come by for a tour. Having the opportunity to witness the herd run together or feed a range cube to a longhorn just like Chelsea does in the book was an experience I’ll never forget.
I was thrilled to be able to take that one-of-a-kind experience and share it with my readers.

If you were given an opportunity to hang out for a day with either Parker or Chelsea which would you choose and why?
It would have to be Parker, and almost entirely because of the ranch. Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to ride horses, watch the cattle, and be surrounded by that kind of beauty every day?

What is your favorite quotable from Finding Joy?
Oh, that’s a hard one! Most of my favorites might reveal too much about the story line. How about one of my favorite short sections? Chelsea is so not used to working out at the ranch and the mud took care of her fancy shoes in a hurry. Parker suggested more appropriate footwear. So she went out, purchased some, and wore those the next day.
Chelsea intended to be downstairs early, but Parker was already waiting for her in the truck. 
“Hop on in.” There was no missing his scrutiny as he checked out her footwear once she’d climbed inside. “Those are an improvement. Not pretty. But an improvement.”
She lifted one of her boots and rested it on the dashboard. “Are you kidding? What’s wrong with them?” 
“Are they cowgirl boots or rain boots?”
Chelsea studied them and finally shrugged. 
“Exactly.” 
With a huff, she let her foot fall back down to the floorboard. Well, they were more appropriate, just like he’d asked. If he’d wanted her to wear a uniform, he should have specified. She could’ve sworn she heard a chuckle, but when she swung her head in his direction, his face was a stoic as ever.

Out of all the reviews you have received for your books, which one has touched you the most?
I’ve received many reviews that put a smile on my face and some even brought tears to my eyes. But I think this review by L. Johnson for Finding Hope is a favorite:
Having lost a Mom and a brother to cancer, it's not a subject I normally continue reading when it comes up in a book, but the author blended such dynamics of humor and hope into the storyline that I could not stop reading. She shows great talent in making the characters true to life, with all of the complex fears and strengths that people often carry, allowing them to be "real" to us and not just characters on a page. That is a real gift as a writer. I can't wait to read the rest of the series.

So what is next for you as a writer?
Now that Finding Joy is on its way to my readers, I’m working on the second book in the Life Unexpected series called Someone to Trust. This is Chess and Brooke’s story and it should be out in May. I’m also participating in a boxed set this fall (more details to come in a couple of months). And, of course, the sixth book in the Love’s Compass series this winter. I’ve got a full schedule and I’m excited about every project!

Where can people keep up with your writing?
I always love to keep in touch with readers and fellow authors. You can follow me at:
Website – http://www.melaniedsnitker.com/
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/melaniedsnitker
Twitter - https://twitter.com/MelanieDSnitker
Instagram - https://www.instagram.com/melaniedsnitker
Pinterest - https://www.pinterest.com/melaniedsnitker/
Amazon - http://www.amazon.com/author/melaniesnitker
Goodreads - https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8440136.Melanie_D_Snitker
Bookbub - https://www.bookbub.com/authors/melanie-d-snitker

Any final words of wisdom?
One quote in particular struck me a few weeks ago:
"A year from now, you may wish you had started today." - Karen Lamb.
That’s something I’m trying to keep in mind this year. If there’s something I want to learn how to do, or a change I want to make in my life, I want to start now instead of procrastinating. And that’s what I encourage everyone to do.
Don’t wait to eat healthier, learn to knit, or start writing the next great American novel. If you start today, just imagine where you’ll be a year from now!