Story Excerpts

Monday, March 16, 2015

Baby, Baby!

I had every intention of moving over to WordPress and getting my act together with a book review theme. But how many know that when a baby arrives...your best intentions, ha ha. Out with those tiny newborn diapers. :)

Did I ever mention that I was expecting again? Well, last summer God decided that I didn't need a career boost, I needed another baby.

Baby Girl decided to come into this world on the coldest night of the entire year, February 20th (it was seriously 20-something below zero), a full month before her due date. Yep, following in her brothers's footsteps, she was born at thirty-five weeks. Itty bitty thing at six and a half pounds, but she has her mother's healthy appetite. And she didn't have to do a minute of incubator time, praise God. :)

So yeah, I've been enjoying a new baby. A good baby. God had the best idea after all, and I have to admit, Baby Girl is worth so much more than a writing career, not that I've given that up, mind you. :) My writing and reading schedule has fallen by the wayside as you might expect, but I am strapping a notebook and pen to me, to snatch those few quiet moments for work on a new story. And that box of to-be-read novels? Right beside my recliner rocker.

It's good to be back! I feel more relaxed and at home on this blog, maybe because it's familiar territory.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Brentwood's Ward: A Book Review

Nicholas Brentwood doesn't earn enough as a Bow Street Runner to see his ill sister moved to the country and adequately cared for, so when the magistrate proposes a lucrative guard/detective assignment, he sets aside the knowledge that every other Runner has refused the assignment, and becomes the guardian of a willful young woman in the absence of her father.

Emily Payne intends to snag a husband this Season, but when her father departs England on short notice, leaving a lawman to protect her in his place, she'll have to outwit the pest to keep him from ruining her plans and prospects.

Historical Romance is a genre I will pick over others, especially when adventure and intrigue spice up the storyline. Michelle Griep has become a favorite author for that very reason--I know I can count on her for an imaginative plot I can't predict early on, a compelling romance, and an exciting trip back in time to Regency England. Having read the author's three other fiction novels, I expected plenty of action, surprising twists, and life-like characters at the "reins" of the story...not to mention Griep's wonderful Voice. I didn't lose any sleep over Brentwood's Ward, but the story did satisfy my expectations and entertain me from start to finish. The mystery wasn't easy to guess, and I was surprised by a twist near the middle-mark.

The scenes flow smoothly between the hero and heroine's point-of-views, with a smattering of the villain's POV later in the story. Vivid descriptions are skillfully woven throughout every scene--the author's masterful setting descriptions are a favorite aspect of her novels--and the story world is unique to Regency England. I never lost my sense of "place". The dialogue fits the time period for the most part--I did spot a one or two words that those of the early nineteenth century wouldn't use (such as "doggy")--but being so deep into the story, any other modern words/phrases were invisible. The characters' personalities consistently colored their speech and responses, and made for some fun banter--another favorite aspect.

Both Nicholas and Emily are well-developed characters, flawed, but likable. Their romance develops realistically, over time and circumstances, and as Regency propriety is observed overall, I was impressed with how the author turns heated looks and body language into very romantic scenes. (I say "overall" because the characters do share a few scandalous kisses. Not that I objected... :-)

If you don't like "preachy" stories, you may enjoy this one. The message of "look before you leap", and "trust God with what you can't control" is subtle and deeply planted in the characters' arcs and story concept.

Most CBA Historical Romantic Suspense novels can't hold a candle to the character/plot development, and fantastic writing presented by Brentwood's Ward. I wish there were more authors out there like Michelle Griep, because she can't write books fast enough for me! Truly, her storytelling ability is one-of-a-kind, and memorable in all the right ways. I would specifically recommend to fans of out-of-the-Austen-box Regencies, and Charles Dickens.

*I received a free copy of this book from the author, in exchange for my honest review.*

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Interview with Michelle Griep

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Yes, except for a short season when I kicked around the idea of becoming an astronaut. Two problems with that, though. First off, I hate science and math, both of which are slightly necessary to succeed in an aerospace career. Secondly, it was a total deal breaker when I found out that astronauts don’t actually wear cool Lt. Uhura uniforms.

What does your family think about your crazy career choice?

My husband knew I was certifiably insane when he married me, so no problem there. As for my kid, my oldest son thinks it’s great but only reads audio/technical textbooks. My second son reads my rough drafts, cutting out scenes that are too sissy and/or adding in some sweet moves to my fight scenes. My oldest daughter is too busy fixing her hair to notice that I write. And my youngest daughter is pretty sure Hollywood will make blockbuster movies of my stories, and can I please get her into a starring role?

What’s your favorite part of the writing business? What’s your least favorite?

I’m not going to lie . . . getting paid for penning down my daydreams is sweet perk. My least favorite writerly chore is marketing. There’s a reason I’m not a salesman. I stink at it.

 After becoming a published author, what surprised you the most?

The freak magnet effect. When people hear I’m a published author, suddenly I’m their BFF. I’m convinced that 99.9% of the population is wannabe-writers with not only novel ideas, but entire epic trilogy tales.

What event, writer, or book has most impacted your writing life?

My critique partners. These gals are ruthless. They’re cute when they wear their cheerleader costumes but my-oh-my…my head’s been on a platter many times over for lazy writing or a sagging plot. These writing buddies are always there for me whether I’m riding the crest of victory or weeping from rejection. I couldn’t play this game without them.

What are 3 things about yourself that might surprise your readers?

I can dance a mean polka. I hate fruit. Yes, really. No, I don’t even like strawberries. And I’m a recovering Trekkie. Old school, that is, none of this New Generation nonsense.
What do you struggle with most, as a Christian Fiction writer? How do you overcome it?
One of the biggest traps to snap it's sharp jaws into a writer's neck is measuring yourself up against sales numbers. It's a constant battle to remind myself that my immeasurable worth is found in what Jesus died on the cross, not on having my name in the #1 slot of the New York Times Bestsellers.
 How much of yourself is in your characters?
There’s a piece of me in every character—even the villains. Not that I have a split personality, mind you, but this phenomenon is pretty universal amongst writers. In fact, I’ve got a favorite quote from John Milton that sums it up quite nicely:
“For books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay, they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them.”
Sometimes your heroes are a shade on the dark side. Why?
Most heroes are too good to be true. I like to dress mine in unpredictability. Someone who's not necessarily safe to be around but always has his loved one's best interests at heart and will put his head on the chopping block to save them if need be. This reminding you of anyone? The same could be said for Jesus. I hope readers make that connection, subconsciously at least. Heroes are not always what we expect them to look like on the outside.
What type of books do you write?
The kind that keep you awake late into the wee hours, heart pounding, curious to find out what’s going to happen. And long after you’ve read the last page, stories that won’t leave your mind for days. But if you simply mean genre, then historical. My latest release is BRENTWOOD’S WARD. Here’s a blurb:
There’s none better than NICHOLAS BRENTWOOD at catching the felons who ravage London’s streets, and there’s nothing he loves more than seeing justice carried out—but this time he’s met his match. Beautiful and beguiling EMILY PAYNE is more treacherous than a city full of miscreants and thugs, for she’s a thief of the highest order . . . she’s stolen his heart.
Available in paperback, ebook, and audiobook formats at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other fine booksellers.
Why write this book? What was the inspiration?
What attracted my interest as an author was an old newspaper advertisement put out by Henry Fielding, the founder of the Bow Street Runners. It encouraged the public to send a note to Bow Street as soon as any serious crime occurred so that “a set of brave fellows could immediately be dispatched in pursuit of the villains.” I wondered about those “brave fellows” and what kind of villains they might come up against, and thus was born Nicholas Brentwood.

 If you had a superpower, what would it be? What would your name be? Would you wear a costume?

My superpower would be to see in the dark. Yeah, I know I could just cough up some cash to buy some night vision, but then I'd have to put it on and take it off and yada-yada. I can never see in the dark. I'm always tripping over something or running into a wall. My name would be "Princess Loo Loo of the Milky Way" (which is actually what I have Siri call me anyway) and you bet I'd wear a costume! I'm all about costumes! You should see my cape selection.
I'm curious about your recent trip to England: what about it made the biggest impression on you?
Gah! Only one thing? Probably the ever-present sense of history. To know you're walking where knights and kings tread. The highlight of my trip was sitting in the front pew of St. Mary Woolnoth Church, right in front of the pulpit where Reverend John Newton preached, mingling my prayers with countless others from centuries ago.
Parting comments?
Go for the dark chocolate. It’s healthier.

Thanks so much for being my guest today, Michelle! I always enjoy you're interviews, almost as much as I enjoy your books! ;-) Friends, Michelle's brand new release, "Brentwood's Ward", a Regency Romance with a Sherlock-Holmes-meets-Dickens-flair, is a Kindle steal for $3.82. I highly recommend it!
About the Writer
Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes—except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager.
She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones.
Follow her adventures at:
My Website: Michelle Griep
And all the other usual haunts: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Goodreads, and Instagram.