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Friday, October 17, 2014

Guest Post - Amber Schamel Interview

Today we're interviewing historical author Amber Schamel.
Bestselling author Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. She has a passion for history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest". A homeschool graduate from a family of 12 children, Amber found her calling early in life. First published at age 21, she has continued to hone her craft. Between ministry, family and working in their family businesses, Amber loves to connect with readers. Find her on the Stitches Thru Time blog, or on any of the major social media sites. 


Amber, can you tell us about your new release, The Messiah's Sign?
Sure! Thanks so much for having me on the blog today. This book released just yesterday, so I'm so EXCITED to share it with readers.
The Messiah's Sign is the second book in the Days of Messiah series. It follows the storyline of Book One, but from the husband's point of view. Here's what it's about:
Dreams…they shouldn’t bother him, but when Tyrus’ worst nightmare is vindicated, he has no choice but to face reality. His wife has been unfaithful, and God has punished her with the most feared disease in the land: leprosy. Banishing her to the leper colony, Tyrus struggles to raise their son alone and protect him from a merciless outlaw. But when Malon begins following the teacher from Nazareth, what remains of their business and reputation is at stake. Can Tyrus save his son from the beguiling lies of a false Messiah before he loses the only thing he has left?


What sparked this story?
Book one started as a short story, but a lot of people told me I should expand it. I picked up the story and began thinking about what the entire story would be like, and that's when the Lord drew back the curtain to show me not only Aaliyah's story at the leper colony, but also the story of her husband and son. Tyrus—as the heartless husband that banishes Aaliyah to the leper colony—is the villain of book one, so I wanted to show readers his side of the story.

What do you want readers to take away from The Messiah's Sign?
As hard as you try, you will never be sufficient on your own. It takes Christ working in you.
For those that have read volume one, I want them to realize that you cannot hate someone until you de-humanize them. The villain of book one becomes the hero of book two, and we see the motivations behind his 'heartless' acts. In truth, Tyrus was doing the best he could. If we can empathize with people in our lives, it will go a LONG way in keeping the roots of bitterness at bay.

What are you working on next?
I am finishing up a really fun series with three other historical authors on the signers of the Declaration of Independence.
I'm also setting to work on a Christmas story set during the Civil War entitled The Christmas Pardon.
In the aftermath of the Civil War, a young lawyer battles with the U.S. Supreme court. In what seemed to be a Christmas miracle, he had secured a pardon for his friend from Lincoln himself. The army executed the boy anyway. On the fifteenth anniversary of his death, will the lawyer finally clear his friends name and bring justice to his memory?

 I'm running a giveaway for a fan to pick the name of my two main characters! You can enter the giveaway here: http://www.amberschamel.com/contests.html


Thank you for joining us today, Amber.
Thank you for hosting me! It's been a pleasure. I'd like to invite each of you to join me in celebrating my new release on my Facebook Launch party tonight! We'll have trivia, giveaways, behind the scenes tidbits and TONS of fun. Join us tonight at 6pm mountain time! https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmberSchamel


Sunday, October 12, 2014

Writing Contest

Mark Miller's ONE is a spiritual anthology featuring true stories of faith from best-selling and critically acclaimed authors around the world.



The 2015 edition is going to be a little different. It will be written by YOU! All of the stories in the 2015 book will be by first time authors. 20 stories will be selected from all submissions.

If you have a story to tell and have NEVER been published, this is your chance. We want to hear your story.

Beginning October 1, 2014 and running through January 31, 2015, submit your story by FB message to MarkMillersOne - www.facebook.com/MarkMillersOne

Be sure to "like" the page while you are there and share it with your friends.

Now for some details:

*This contest is open to everyone 18 years and older, or 12 to 17 years with signed consent of a parent or guardian.

*The writer must NEVER have been published, either traditionally or self.

*The story must be an original work and not infringe on anyone else's copyrights.

*The story will be published by Helping Hands Press in the 2015 edition of ONE. As such, Helping Hands Press will retain all print and digital rights of the story for five (5) years from the date of publication. Selected authors will also have the opportunity to contract with Helping Hands Press for future works, but are under no obligation.



*Submissions should be in a Word-compatible document. A minimum of 1,000 words, but no more than 10,000 words. Stories must be inspirational or faith-based, preferably Non-Fiction (sorry, no poetry). Stories containing profanity, sex, or violence will be automatically disqualified.

*Winning selections will be personally edited by Mark Miller. Any and all submissions, in whole or part, may be displayed on the ONE Facebook page for promotional purposes.

*Contestants agree to donate all proceeds from the sale of ONE 2015 to a charity selected by Mark Miller, MillerWords.com or Mark Miller's ONE.

Please feel free to share this event and invite any aspiring author you know. Please post any questions to this event page.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Book Announcement - Melissa Studdard - I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast

This is a press release from Saint Julian Press about my friend Melissa Studdard's newest book.


Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Other Fine Book Retailers

With Whitmanesque exuberance and voracity, Melissa Studdard’s I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast is a collection that devours the world even as it offers it—a collection that, through all its doubts and wounds, through “fire, ice, hurricanes, tsunamis, and quakes” arrives “with that tornado in its throat”— love—to spark renewal again and again. 


Noting the voluptuous, yet spiritual thrust of the book, Robert Pinsky states, “Melissa Studdard’s high-flying, bold poetic language expresses an erotic appetite for the world: ‘this desire to butter and eat the stars,’ as she says, in words characteristically large yet domestic, ambitious yet chuckling at their own nerve. This poet’s ardent, winning ebullience echoes that of God, a recurring character here, who finds us Her children, splotchy, bawling and imperfect though we are, “flawless in her omniscient eyes.” 

Poet Cate Marvin observes, “In so many ways the poems in this book read like paintings, touching and absorbing the light of the known world while fingering the soul until it lifts, trembling. Gates splayed, bodies read as books, and hearts born of mouths, Studdard's study, which is a creation unto itself, would have no doubt pleased Neruda's taste for the alchemic impurity of poetry, which is, as we know, poetry that is not only most pure of heart, but beautifully generous in vision and feeling.” 


Melissa Studdard is the author the bestselling novel, Six Weeks to Yehidah, and other books. Her works have received numerous awards, including the Forward National Literature Award and the International Book Award. Her poems and short writings have appeared in dozens of journals and anthologies, and she serves or has recently served as a reviewer-at-large for The National Poetry Review, an interviewer for American Microreviews and Interviews, a professor for Lone Star College System, a teaching artist for The Rooster Moans Poetry Cooperative, an editorial adviser for The Criterion, and host of Tiferet Talk radio.

I Ate the Cosmos for Breakfast, poems by Melissa Studdard, is published by Saint Julian Press







Sunday, August 31, 2014

5th Blogiversary Celebration

Five years. That's right, I'm celebrating five years of my blog. Looking back at this year's posts, I see there aren't too many, but there's good reason for that. I'll get to that in a moment. There are lots of things to cover.

First, I want to say that Robin Williams made my day. Please don't take this the wrong way. I am not trying to make light of a tragic situation. I know both depression and addiction are powerful diseases. My point in saying he made my day is that it emphasizes no matter how successful or financially well off you are, you are still not immune. It reminds me that chasing every last dollar and stressing over bills is not the answer. We live in a beautiful world and need to focus on the truly important things.

Now, as soon as I can put my soap box away, let's get on with the party...


A little bit further down this post, you can find details on the blogiversary prizes. Some of you may have noticed that I have been a bit absent from the "writing world" coming close to a year now. At least, I hope you noticed. Well, there's good reason for that. I've actually been living a childhood dream.


I'm currently a Walt Disney World Monorail Pilot! Ever since I was a little boy, I wanted to drive one of those things. Last November, an opportunity arose and I took it. Let me tell you, the actual drive training is one of the most challenging things I've done in a long time. Every minute has been worth it! I am having a blast and spend my days with some absolutely amazing cast members.

As for my writing, I have some plans and things are coming together. 



My friends at Helping Hands Press (www.myhelpinghandspress.com) are helping me celebrate this blogiversary for the next 25 days. I have two projects that I am working on for them. Quite a while ago, I started co-authoring a story called Amish Wonder. When finished, it will be a novella about a young Amish boy thrust out into the secular world. For fans of the Defective Amish Detective, I will be re-editing those stories into a complete novel with a nice surprise on the end.



I am also working with Dinosaur George Media on two different series. Ask DG is a question and answer picture book for young readers. Book 2 will feature illustrations from the very talented Victor Donahue. Both Ask DG and Dinosaur George and the Paleonauts book 2 are expected to be available by Christmas. You can find these books and more here: store.dinosaurgeorge.com



And the one that started it all - The Empyrical Tales. Book Four of the Empyrical Tales will continue the story of Zandria and Olena by telling the tale of The First Queen. The whole series will be revamped and re-introduced soon. Until then, I will keep those details under wraps. Please visit my official website for more details and the series and my other books - www.MillerWords.com

While you are there, please check out my new online store, where you can get autographed copies of all of my paperbacks at a special price with free shipping.

In five years of writing, blogging and social media, I have met some fantastic writers and been blessed with some great fans. I've received humbling reviews and inspiring emails. I've tried my hand (not always successfully) in many different genres and have something for most every type of reader. To celebrate, I am giving away the gifts. Here are the links to five of my paperbacks available through Goodreads.com:














In addition to the paperbacks, Helping Hands Press has put together a prize pack of selected eBooks (mine and some of my author-friends). Lazarus Filmworks, for whom I wrote the adaptation of Daniel's Lot, is also including some prizes. Please be sure to visit both of my sponsors. This part of the giveaway will be done through Rafflecopter exclusively on my blog. You can earn an unlimited amount of entries by using social media once a day for the next 25 days.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

In closing, I want to express my gratitude. That is one thing of which I have an abundance and can afford. I am full of thanks for all of my experiences over the past five years. I am thankful for the people, both real and virtual, that I have met. I am thankful for the opportunities I've had. In this time, I have also watched my family grow and change and I thank God for that gift. Please feel free to share this post and all of the prize links. And, as always, I appreciate any comments on my blog.


Thank you for the past five years,
and I look forward to the next five!
Mark

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Guest Post - Joseph Max Lewis

Happy Fourth of July!

            Imagine how the signers of The Declaration of Independence feel while looking down from heaven and listening to their critics. The thought never occurred to me until my publisher asked me to write a fictional short story relating how John Hancock experienced the 4th of July. Before starting, I read Herbert S. Allan’s even-handed biography of Hancock. Yes, the Founders were all human - Hancock was vain and a clothes horse, for example. But when you study the founding of America from the perspective of a Founder, the greatness of these men staggers you.


            “But they didn’t free the slaves and women and blacks couldn’t vote!”

            Guess what?  No one could meaningfully vote and everyone, everywhere, was in some form of bondage. The English themselves were “subjects.” Except for royalty and a small number of men in a handful of tiny Greek city states, no one had ever controlled their destiny. 

            Writing in the first person forces you to see things through the eyes of the character or historic figure, to imagine what they felt, wanted and thought. The Founders were operating in uncharted waters, laying the foundation to free all mankind and making things up as they went. They were doing it while at war with the most powerful Empire on the face of the planet. On January 1, 1776, George Washington discovered he had only 8,000 enlistments instead of the 20,000 planned. Georgia and South Carolina announced they would not sign if slavery were denounced, let alone outlawed.

            As I imagine Hancock saying, “The hard truth is we will not free the Negro slaves . . . not because we don’t want to, but because we can’t. The southerners would revolt . . . freeing the black man will require a war and the forces of liberty are barely able to fight one war, let alone two.”

            On July 4, 1776, the Founders were almost to a man well educated, affluent and doing quite well as subjects of Britain. In the 18th century, traitors were hung from a gibbet with their hands tied behind their back. Rather than breaking their necks, the traitor took about ten minutes to strangle to death. Traitors’ property was forfeit, so their families were left impoverished. While the Founders were signing their own death warrant, Benedict Arnold was trying to keep his army from disintegrating as he retreated from the disastrous Canadian campaign. "I have often thought how much happier I would have been," said Washington, "if, instead of accepting a command under such circumstances, I had taken up musket on my shoulder and entered the ranks.”  

            They were great men, yet consider the petulance with which they are treated. While reviewing “The Price they Paid” email about the Founders, the left wing site “Snopes” called it part true, part false. Why? Here’s an example: “Francis Lewis had his home and properties destroyed. The enemy jailed his wife, and she died within a few months.” Snopes - “yeah, well . . . she was already sick.” Seriously. I paraphrase, so check it out for yourselves. Part of the disdain appears to be petty racism, sexism and anti-Christianity - the Founders were white male Christians - but there may be something deeper. Writing about an attack on the Framers, Professor Walter Williams wrote, “If I believed in conspiracies, I'd say (Time’s) article is part of a leftist agenda to undermine respect for the founding values of our nation.” 

            Hancock might have said, “No doubt, those who hate liberty and embrace hate amongst the races will use this against us not only now, but far into the future. We can only trust this and future generations will be wise enough to detect the charlatan, understand his aim and reject his deception. That battle is for another time, and will be fought by other men. We must fight the one in front of us now.”

This is a column of opinion and satire. The author knows of no undisclosed facts.  Contact Lewis, the author of John Hancock, in Remington Colt's Revolutionary War Series, visit him at josephmaxlewis.com and click on Rimersburg Rules.  © Joseph M.  Lewis


To link to listen in on the blogtalk radio show with Joseph Max Lewis discussing “The Declaration of Independence”: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/gelatisscoop/2014/07/03/joseph-max-lewis-discusses-the-declaration-of-independence

To stop by Mr. Lewis’ website and connect with him: www.josephmaxlewis.com    



Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Star Wars Stuff

Well, Episdoe VII is officially under way. Principal cast has been announced and shooting has started. As a life-long fan, I have much confidence in JJ. Contrary to many, I totally enjoyed what he did with Star Trek and thought Into Darkness was better than his first one. To me, it seems Mr. Abrams is a fan first and a businessman second. I hope that he makes my beloved universe his own, acknowledges the fans and makes something not only for kids, but also those of us who never really grew up.

Star Wars Weekends 2007

I have my hopes for what I would like to see in the new trilogy; characters like Mara Jade and events like the death of Chewbacca. Don't get me wrong - I don't want to see Chewbacca die. Jar Jar heads that list. Chewbacca's death was an epic moment and a great sacrifice. He swore a life-debt to Han and it should be a necessary moment, even if it does not occur as it did in the Expanded Universe novel.

The cast consists of a young group of relative unknowns. Sound familiar? Still, there is one Harry Potter alum, two from Coen Bros and one that endured Attack the Block. One of the biggest treats for me is to see Max Von Sydow join the ranks of Alec Guinness, Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. In case you are not familiar with this legendary actor, he starred in the classic Strange Brew.

I could rant about how great the original trilogy was, everything wrong with the prequels and what they musn't ruin in the new movies. I won't do that. We all have our own opinions and own hopes. Isn't that what Star Wars is really about...hope? It is adventure, humor, mystery, love and good conquering evil. On top of all that, it gives us hope...hope that there is something bigger, greater out there - something that binds the universe together. It gives us hope that we can revisit our childhood and remember the things that made us happy.

Star Wars remains one of the earliest inspirations for my own writing. The Hero's Journey is a universal map that applies to my first novel, The Fourth Queen. I even tried my hand at some SW Fan Fiction (which might end up on this blog some day).


"They're for sale, if you want them."

As I continue my training in the Jedi way, I find that I can part with material things. To that end, I have created a Facebook album featuring over 300 figures collected since 1995. Feel free to make me an offer on any or all of them.



As always, thank you for reading my blog. 
Please be sure to visit me on FB: www.FB.com/MarkMillerAuthor




Thursday, April 24, 2014

What Would You Do?

First, let me ask: When did we, as a people, stop caring about doing what's right and start only thinking of ourselves?

I know I am generalizing, but I am bombarded daily with acts of selfishness and buffoonery that show no compassion or consideration. I know there are good people in this world (I try to be one of them). Still, my sense of justice is assaulted constantly by those that simply don't care.

With that out of the way, let me get to the reason I asked you here. There is a certain high school student, let's call him P, to maintain his confidentiality. P stands for Pinocchio because this student does not lie, fib, or even swear. His moral compass makes mine look like a Cracker Jack toy.

P is in a predicament. In one of his classes, it seems that the majority of classmates are OK with cheating. Over the past several weeks, they have been sharing answers to quizzes and tests, going so far as to text them or write them on the side of a coffee cup. Worse yet is that they are getting these answers from a Teacher's Aid. In case you don't know, a Teacher's Aid is supposed to be a student of strong character entrusted with helping the teacher. In this case, the Aid is helping other students cheat.

P has a problem. He does not feel he can go to the teacher or administration about this. P is worried about repercussion from his fellow students. In this age group and moral climate, repercussion could easily become physical. P also does not feel he has the support of the administration. Previous experience proves as much in a case where he tried to resolve something anonymously and then the teacher (different than the one above) singled him out to the class because that teacher had some backlash from administration. I should also mention P was a victim of bullying at a younger age. Administration did nothing in that case either, so P has little faith in them and knowledge of the capabilities of his classmates.

What is P supposed to do? What would you do, as a parent or student? It is possible that the teacher won't find out and nothing will happen. If the teacher becomes aware and P does not step forward, what happens? Is P's silence self-preservation or complicity?

I invite comments, suggestions and debate on this topic. Please post comments on this blog, share on Facebook or email me.