Tag Archives: Reading

Author Spotlight: Rebecca Carey Lyles

 

This week I would like to introduce Christian author Rebecca Carey Lyles, author of the heartwarming Kate Nielson series. Rebecca grew up in beautiful Wyoming and currently resides in Idaho with her husband, Steve.  She writes in a warm, flowing style that puts her readers into the heart of vividly stunning locations alongside engaging characters facing what most would deem insurmountable obstacles. Elements of Christian love, faith, hope and trust expertly woven into riveting action produce stories that will keep readers turning the pages.

Her Kate Nielson series proves that fact as the books follow the life of a young woman from the confines of the Pennsylvania State Penitentiary to a fresh start at Wyoming’s Whispering Pines Guest Ranch. The stories feature romance and marriage to the owner’s son, even as she takes a defiant stand when evil remnants of her past catch up with her.

In addition to her fiction series, Rebecca also writes nonfiction and serves as an editor and mentor for aspiring authors. She and her husband host a lively and entertaining podcast, “Let Me Tell You a Story,” which can be accessed through a variety of podcast providers as well as her website:

http://www.beckylyles.com/podcast

She has several other projects in the works which, along with her complete bio, you can read about at:

http://www.beckylyles.com

Rebecca kindly agreed to an interview, which follows below.

SK: Tell us a little about yourself (background, hobbies, special interests).

RCL: I love the West! I grew up in Wyoming, met and married my husband in Colorado, and then moved back to Wyoming, where we raised our three children. Shortly after the last child left home, we moved to the Southwest (Arizona) and now reside in the beautiful Northwest (Idaho).

In addition to gorgeous vistas, the West offers friendly people, wide-open spaces and wonderful opportunities to explore the outdoors—hiking, biking, skiing, snowshoeing, camping, kayaking… The list goes on. I’ve enjoyed all the aforementioned activities, but the last couple years, I’ve mostly snowshoed in the winter and hiked in the summer with friends and family. My year-round exercise includes walking and yoga/Pilates classes. I also like to read (no surprise!), cook healthy stuff and hang out with other authors. Funny how we can talk books and plots and characters for hours on end.

SK: What made you feel you wanted to be a writer? 

RBC: As you know, writing seems to be in the blood or the genetic makeup of certain individuals. I’ve always enjoyed putting pencil or pen to paper, even when writing those dreaded high school essays. I wish I’d listened when my English/Lit teacher encouraged me to major in journalism…

But I was determined to attend a small Denver Bible college that offered only a handful of degrees, none of them related to journalism. Yet, that school was a great experience. It grounded me in Biblical truth and connected me with wonderful lifelong friends, including a certain cute guy named Steve, who eventually became my husband.

After graduation, I worked a variety of jobs, most of which were secretarial in nature. And then, almost as soon as our first child was born, I decided the literary path was more to my liking and something I could work at during naptime.

SK: How did you choose the genre you write in?

RCL: Looking back, I think I felt compelled to write faith-based fiction because I’d read so many less-than-stellar Christian novels. That was years ago, so I’ll be quick to say the market now offers a host of high-quality fiction books for all levels of readers.

SK: Where do you get your ideas? 

RCL: When I started writing my first novel and the first book in the Kate Neilson Series, “Winds of Wyoming,” my heroine was a young woman who wanted to move west—because the West is best (smile). As you can see, that was a rather weak premise. Took me fifteen years and multiple writing classes and seminars, how-to books and magazines, contests (with judge feedback) and critique groups to deepen the story.

And then came the night I was driving home from a Bible study at an Arizona women’s prison. Looking out across the flat dark desert, I had a revelation—the protagonist needed to be an ex-inmate. I’d met so many sweet women in prison who were flawed, just like I am. And, just like me, they longed for a do-over. My heroine, ex-inmate Kate Neilson, would move from Pennsylvania to Wyoming to “reboot” her life, not realizing her past would follow close behind.

In that first book, I wanted to honor prisoners’ humanity through a romantic suspense story. In the following books, “Winds of Freedom” and “Winds of Change,” I used the same characters to show that human trafficking is a tragic problem in America as well as overseas. My current series, which I hope to finish by late spring/early summer, delves into religious cults and their deceptive, manipulative, totalitarian practices. Despite the tough topics, every series has a happy ending (smile).

All that to say…I tend to tackle current issues. However, the idea for the first story in the “Passageways” anthology came to me in the middle of a Kohl’s Department Store. Kinda crazy, but it was a fun story to write.

SK: Do you work with an outline, or just write? 

RCL: Over the years, I’ve used several methods, one being Randy Ingermanson’s famous Snowflake Method. And over the years, I’ve learned I’m not an outliner, I’m not a plotter, I’m not a pantser (who writes by the seat of his or her pants). I’m a discoverer. For the cult series, I’ve read books, watched documentaries, interviewed ex-members and immersed myself in that world, disgusting as it is. I have pages and pages of notes and a general idea of where I’m going with the plot. But I’m always open to discovering the next scene, which oftentimes veers from my intended path—or the direction I assumed the story would go.

Some people say they write the ending or at least know the ending to a book before they write the beginning and the middle. I think I can safely say I have never known the ending of any of my novels until I was almost there. I always aim for that “happily ever after,” but I don’t usual know how it will materialize. In a sense, I’m discovering the story right alongside the reader.

SK: Did any particular author or book influence you, either growing up or as an adult? 

RCL: I loved “Heidi” because it’s a wonderful tale about a girl who’s sent to live with her grandfather in the beautiful Swiss mountains. Then there was “Christy,” a young woman who moved to the Smokey Mountains to teach. Notice a theme here? A book about a girl reporter’s adventures also intrigued me and helped spark the writing gene. Sad to say, I don’t remember the title.

In my twenties, “The Grapes of Wrath” captivated me during a Colorado blizzard (nothing better than having a good book to read when you have a legitimate excuse to stay home). Filled with beautiful writing, complex characters, heartrending challenges and a believable storyline, that book taught me about an important time in history I knew very little about. In addition, I learned the power of story is in the details.

One more—my last job in Wyoming involved working for a man named Chuck Box. At that time, his writing career was just beginning to take off. Written under the name C.J. Box, his many novels about a Wyoming game warden are now international bestsellers. Chuck is known for his amazing descriptions of the West. I recently heard him being interviewed on a podcast. He said description is not about the vistas but about the details. When I want to enhance my own portrayals of the West, I open a C.J. Box novel for inspiration.

SK: Your book titles (Winds of Wyoming, Winds of Freedom, Winds of Change) evoke images of living free in an unspoiled and wide-open territory; but winds also bring storms and uncertainty. What inspired these titles? 

RCL: I’m impressed with your insight into the titles, Sandra! What inspired the series titles? All that you wrote above. Some parts of Wyoming are known for wind, and I experienced plenty of it growing up. At times, the wind was helpful. When I walked the four or five blocks to school, the wind would blow me there, almost lifting me off my feet. But it was an ever-moving barricade on the return trip. I’d struggle all the way home, leaning into the wind. Before backpacks came along, an armful of textbooks served as ballast to keep me and my classmates from being blown to Nebraska.

Back to the book titles—winds are rarely constant. They come and go, blast and change course, cleanse the air or stir up dust devils, irritate or sooth, heat or cool, knock down or lift up. Metaphorically speaking, a fiction author’s job is to hit their characters with gusts that blow them off-course and then show their struggle to regain equilibrium.

For interested readers, the series has a prequel titled “Winds of Hope.” All four books are available at a reduced rate in a “Kate Neilson Series” boxset that’s available everywhere digital books are sold.

SK: How do you market your work? What avenues work best? 

RCL: Wow, I wish I had a good answer. For a time, Facebooks ads were the moneymakers. And then it was Amazon ads. Now, BookBub is the place to inspire readers to click the “buy now” button. The end result is that the best way to sell books is to write more books. Some people can whip out four or five books a year and develop a huge backlist (mine is growing at a much slower rate, but it’s growing). Series are good because readers who like the first book in a series are likely to purchase the others. Social media enables authors to connect with readers, some of whom will share our book news on their sites.

SK: What has been the toughest criticism given you as an author? What has been the highest compliment? 

RCL: Toughest criticism? Hmm. In the series I’m working on now, a beta reader who proofed book one said the second book needs more description and emotion because the protagonist comes across as plastic. Yikes! Back to the drawing board…

My highest compliment is when readers say, “I stayed up all night reading your book!” or “I didn’t get a thing done today because I couldn’t put your book down.” Warms an author’s heart, for sure.

SK: Will you have a new book coming out soon? 

RCL: I’ve written two-and-a-half novels of a three-book series set in Montana called “Prisoners of Hope” about a young woman trapped in a religious cult. The titles are “Shattered Dreams,” “Tangled Truths” and Tattered Veil.” My goal is to show how easily we can become ensnared by controlling groups and how hard it is to escape a cultic world. As I wrote above, I hope to publish all three books in late spring/early summer.

SK: What advice would you offer aspiring authors? 

RCL: Read, read, read to get a feel for tension, motivation/response sequence, structure and flow. Write, write, write to get a feel for pulling thoughts out of your head and arranging them in logical order on paper (or computer screen).

SK: Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans? 

RCL: Thank you, Sandra, for inviting me to be a guest on your blog. Great questions! And, a big thank-you to those who encourage me to keep writing. If you enjoy or profit from an author’s books or articles, consider telling him or her. Writers don’t need ego boosts. We need to know our hard work is valuable, that it inspires, informs, entertains or educates our readers.

If you enjoy listening to stories, check out the podcast Steve and I host. We call it “Let Me Tell You a Story” and feature a wide variety of authors and stories (real and imagined) plus fascinating interviews. http://beckylyles.com/podcast.html

Website: http://www.beckylyles.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaCareyLyles/

Twitter: @BeckyLyles

Amazon Author Page: https://tinyurl.com/y6kldx32

© Everthedreamer, 2019 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.

Advertisements

Book Review: Poppy Woods

 

 

 

POPPY WOODS: Nothing could break her spirit by [Adam, Lilly]

 

Fans of Victorian fiction are sure to enjoy this novel by Lilly Adam.  The illegitimate daughter of Lady Margaret Hutchinson and her lover, Poppy enters a world of rejection and adversity.  Refusing to even look at her daughter, Lady Margaret pays her housemaid, Nelly Driver, to take Poppy away.  Nelly takes the baby toward the country hamlet of Hurst.  Along the way she stops to rest, but places the infant in a poppy field several feet away so as not to hear her crying.  A passing miscreant named Sidney Woods finds the baby and picks her up, intending to raise her solely as a house slave.  Because he found her in a poppy field, Sidney names the child Poppy.

Abused, neglected, and half starved, Poppy nevertheless exhibits an obedient and pleasant nature.  She finds favor with most of the townspeople and the kind-hearted Greenfield family in particular.  Mrs. Greenfield attends to Poppy’s hygiene and gives her some decent dresses to replace the rags provided by the Woods’.  This arouses Sidney’s ire, causing him to mistreat Poppy even more.  One day, in Poppy’s absence, Sidney kills his wife during an argument.  He tries to lay the blame on Poppy, but the townspeople rally against him and Sidney lands in jail.  The Greenfields open their home to Poppy and during her time there she falls in love with son Arthur.

Arthur, however, falls for the daughter of an Italian family who moves into the Woods cottage.  When a family emergency calls them back to Italy, Arthur follows, hoping to win his new love interest.  A crestfallen Poppy, feeling she has burdened the Greenfields long enough, decides to find work in the city.  Fate reunites her with Nelly Driver, who succeeds in placing Poppy with the Hutchinsons.

Here the story takes a darker turn.  Lady Margaret had not recognized Poppy at first but over time realizes the truth.  As laudanum addiction erodes her mind, her behavior becomes increasingly bizarre.  Poppy must endure Nelly’s death, a kidnapping that places her, as a galley slave, on a ship bound for America, and finally her return to Hurst– only to discover that Sidney has escaped jail and, along with Lady Margaret, now seeks to kill her.  Can she possibly escape?  Dare she hope Arthur will return to save her?

I really came to care for this heroine and to admire the heroic Greenfield family.  While the romantic element was there, it was not overplayed and the suspenseful plot twists kept me turning pages.  In my opinion, it is definitely worth a  look.

You can check the book out here.

© Everthedreamer, 2019 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.

Life Changes and New Promotions

IMG_4572_DreamyHills 12_10

I’ve seen a LOT of changes these past few months, some good and others I thought I could never endure.  But looking back I see light and shadow, elation and despair, pain and jubilation all interwoven into the breathtaking tapestry composing my life.  Now, looking forward I choose to embrace life and dwell on the positive, washing bitter negativity into the past on rivers of forgiveness.  I cannot describe the liberation, the freedom, the excitement this new leg of life’s journey has brought me!

I’ve rediscovered my old love, the written word, as both reader and writer and will post reviews of books as I go along.  I am also offering a special end-of-summer $.99-sale on all of my Kindle books.  If you love fantasy and ghost stories, please visit my author page.

In the meantime, I’m working on the tale of how the ghost in my latest book, THE WINDWILDER HAUNTING, entered that unfortunate state.

3Debook-BellaWindwilderHaunting

© Everthedreamer, 2018 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.

 

Seeds for a story have finally bloomed!

sandy and MM

Remember this?  Well, the seeds this fire planted have finally bloomed, and at long last THE WINDWILDER HAUNTING, the first book of my BELLA series, is set for publication the middle of this week. . .

Once acclaimed the Crown Jewel of Twin Bridges, Washington, a derelict mansion with a sordid past sits condemned, awaiting demolition. At the eleventh hour its original owner’s great-grandson intervenes to rescue and restore it. But few rejoice, particularly those whose lives the malignancy within those walls destroyed.

When Philip Windwilder opens his home as a museum, Madelyn Springer eagerly signs on as a docent. Her life takes a spellbinding turn when she discovers a portrait painted nearly a hundred years ago of a woman bearing a remarkable resemblance to herself–a resemblance that arouses instant hostility from Lillian Carver, president of the Twin Bridges Historical Society, who remains determined to destroy Windwilder Mansion at any cost.

Madelyn’s intrigue with the enigmatic Windwilder plunges her into a rivalry for his affections with an influential and vindictive socialite. Madelyn redirects her energies to unlocking the mansion’s secrets, and as these come to light weird and frightening manifestations begin to haunt her. But what terrifies her most is that the people most involved in Windwilder Mansion’s affairs are losing their minds and that two of its original inhabitants still walk its halls.

3Debook-BellaWindwilderHaunting

Any history buffs will be happy to know that poor bedraggled house in the top photo has a happy ending and a BRIGHT future!  Learn all about Pasco’s Moore Mansion here!

© Everthedreamer, 2018 Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.

The Seeds for a Story

sandy and MM

The author standing on the porch of the burned Moore Mansion.

It’s amazing what can inspire a story.  The arson fire of a 93-year-old mansion along the Columbia River in eastern Washington sparked the plot of my novel-in-progress, The Windwilder Haunting, first book of the BELLA trilogy.

The James A. Moore House, also known as the Moore Mansion and the Big House on the Columbia, had enjoyed a colorful history and was one of the Tri-Cities’ last historical buildings. This grand home underwent many transformations:  Originally the water-front home of a well-to-do family, it became a speakeasy, a nursing home, a hippie camp, and finally a restaurant.

During my time there it was a restaurant, one I often passed as I crossed the blue bridge spanning the Columbia River between Pasco and Kennewick.  While curious, I never visited, which I regretted after the fire.  That conflagration, however, drew me deeper into the Moore Mansion saga than a restaurant visit ever would.

On May 9, 2001 I was working as a programmer/analyst at the Kennewick hospital.  It was one of those clear, fresh Mid-Columbia spring days that made you wish for a wide open field and the energy to run across that field forever.  A former I/T employee who now worked in the business building next door called our department around noon to report she’d just heard that the Moore Mansion had caught fire.  My imagination sprang into action even before my curiosity.  I dashed outside, stared for a moment at a tall column of smoke rising from the northeast, then jumped into my car.

Sunroof open, I headed for the blue bridge, planning to follow the highway west to the nearest interchange and then reenter the highway, crossing the river again in the southbound lane.  Even before I reached the top of the bridge I knew there would be no coming back on that highway.  Already southbound traffic had stopped, creating a jam extending for miles.  The house itself had become a torch, shooting red-orange flames 30-40 feet into the air.  Smoke and embers spread themselves upon the breezes, fanning out across the river and town.  The smoke didn’t smell like smoke.  It had a heavy, musty, almost moldy odor.  I wanted to stop but there was no place to pull off, and the state police were struggling to keep people moving.  You can read the Tri-City Herald account here.

Unable to return by the same route, I sought an alternate route, getting a last look at the doomed house from the cable bridge farther east.  The creative juices not only flowed, but gushed!  Already my mind had conceived a cast of characters and a plot entailing adultery, murder, dark secrets and ghosts.  I wrote the story, but never truly finished–until now.

And the Moore Mansion’s fate?  The day of the fire I figured the flames would burn the house to the ground.  When I drove past later that afternoon, the house, minus its third floor, still stood.  For two years the ruined structure awaited its doom.  Several declared its era over and called for its demolition, I joined forces with six other Tri-Cities women, and together we managed to raise enough interest to prompt one couple to step up to the plate.  They totally rebuilt the mansion and, in my opinion, the house is now more beautiful than before.  Today the Moore Mansion serves as a setting for weddings and other special events.  You can read more about it here.

NOTE:  My novel is purely fictional, with no historical references pertaining to the Moore Mansion or its owners, or to the Moore family.  I hope to release it in late April or early May.  Stay tuned!

© Everthedreamer, 2017  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited.  Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.

 

 

End of the Journey

IMG_3926

Spring is the season of rebirth and new beginnings.  Winter’s white blanket melts away, and the slumbering earth awakens.  Tender shoots spring from roots thought long dead, emerging shyly at first and then, emboldened by the warming sun and nourishing soil, they burst forth with vibrant life.

Castle of Blood, final book of the Dark Lords of Epthelion saga, begins in the spring.  Between the rocky spires atop a forbidding peak stands a beautiful castle of purest rose quartz, erected by a demon for his chosen one, a person he will endow with the Black Arts but carefully mold to his will.  So whisper the superstitious Rauths of Barren-Fel.  Hans Ogilvie rides to investigate, filled with dread, for he fears he knows the Chosen One’s identity.  The castle, if it exists, portends Hans’ death and Epthelion’s ruin.

When Hans does not return, Arganian mystic Arris Marchant rides to find him.  Initially, his brother, Davon, accompanies him; but a series of visions draw Davon to aid the beleaguered woodsmen of San-Leyon.  On their separate quests they battle shapeshifters, black magic, and an ancient evil they cannot kill.  And when Davon is later captured, Arris must somehow destroy this evil without killing his brother.

Throughout the story the demon’s allure draws even the most honorable of men to himself.  A beautiful ruler seeks to obliterate her own people and reinstitutes the gory rites of human sacrifice.  A tribal leader’s attempt to utilize a fearsome beast to evict raiders who stole their land ensnares him in a grisly contract he cannot break–and by his slightest misguided thought he murders his loved ones.  A stalwart warrior suffers a ghastly curse.  Only the demon’s destruction can free them–if Arris can accomplish this.

I loved creating this mystical tale with its exotic setting and colorful characters.  The last leg of this journey is complete.  I have now embarked on a new journey into paranormal realms, which proves every bit as intriguing as the Dark Lords of Epthelion.  I love sharing my worlds.  You can catch a glimpse of them here.

minicastleofbloodcover

Castle of Blood

© Everthedreamer, 2017  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without written permission from the author is strictly prohibited.  Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given.