Friday, May 22, 2015

Guest Post: Author Catherine West on What Makes a Hero

Today at EIR we are pleased to welcome author Cathy West, whose latest novel Bridge of Faith released in April. Here's a little about the latest book to make my summer must-read list:

Click on the title below to find
BRIDGE OF FAITH by Catherine West at Amazon
Two lives taken down different roads
one enduring love
one shot at starting over.
If only they believed in second chances.

Julia Connelly is finally free from twelve long years in an abusive relationship. Now able to live the life she’s longed for, Julia takes her two children back home to Vermont, hoping for peace and healing. The last person she expects to see is the man she eloped with at eighteen—who then abandoned her two months into their marriage, with little explanation.

When an assignment in the Middle East ends in tragedy, popular news correspondent, Reid Wallace, returns to his hometown seeking answers and peace of mind.

Confronting his past was not in the plan.

Now he’s asking different questions. Like why the only woman he’s ever really loved still mesmerizes him. Why the haunted expression she wears reaches right into his soul.

And why her twelve year-old son looks just like him.

They say you can’t go home again. Sometimes you don’t have a choice.

What Makes a Hero?
by Catherine West, special for EIR

I Need A Hero …

I must have been about 3 maybe 4 years old at the time. Mom had recently returned to work, and my parents were struggling to find me suitable daycare. Of course I’m speculating. I don’t recall the exact circumstances surrounding the event, but I do remember, quite vividly, even after so many years, being in a strange room with lots of kids, and adults I didn’t like. I remember crying, wanting to go home. And being called a baby for doing so. By the kids and the caregivers. And then I was put in a high chair, which I was definitely too old for, which only made me cry harder.

At some point that miserable morning, the doors to the daycare flew open, he strode across the room, tie flapping, anger flashing in the blue eyes I loved so well. I don’t recall what words he spoke to the lady in charge, but I can imagine. Then he swept me out of that chair and into his arms, and took me home.

He set the bar high that day, my dad.

To this day, when I think about a hero, I think about my dad. He’s always been there for me, always been someone I can count on for anything, anytime.

Don’t we all long for someone like that? Someone to come along and sweep us out of trouble and off to safety? I do. Always have.

A hero has certain expected or necessary qualities, and they may be different for each of us. I recently polled some of my readers, asking for their definition of a hero:

Someone who puts the needs of others above his own.
Steadfast, might be flawed, loves unconditionally.
Willing to make sacrifices.
Protects, provides, pursues justice.
Honest, courageous, kind.
Lives out his faith.

I think we’re getting the picture. Of course in movies and many romance novels, the hero is always dashing or devastatingly handsome. That doesn’t hurt. ☺

Often though, when I think of heroes, I think of real men and women. Those who put their lives on the line for us⎯law enforcement, military, fire-fighters⎯those are the big heroes, the true heroes; they play on the front lines and they play to win. And sometimes they lose.

A hero is not perfect or infallible.

Part of the fun for me as a writer is figuring out just how flawed my characters are going to be. People expect perfection, and when perceived heroes fail, we feel let down. Sometimes even betrayed. But this is life. These are the hard moments that test our faith and our courage and force us to examine our own hearts. And when someone we’ve depended on lets us down? Maybe we need to offer a little grace. Because those heroes? They’re human, just like us. And yeah, they might fall. But they’ll get back up. They’ll keep on going. They’ll hold out to the end, because that’s the only way they know how.

A hero doesn’t quit.
Doesn’t stop loving.

In my latest novel, Bridge of Faith, Reid Wallace is a broken hero. He’s the hometown boy who’s made it big, and in the eyes of his adoring public, he can do no wrong. But Julia Connelly knows his story and isn’t about to let him forget it. Reid has ghosts that chase him and keep him up at night. When it comes to what matters, he’s failed. Failed so badly that he wonders whether grace, forgiveness and redemption are even possible. But one thing Reid does well? He loves. He acknowledges the mistakes he’s made and pushes through. He loves those who can’t love him back. And he doesn’t quit.

He’s my kind of hero, because I think we all know somebody like that. Imperfect, yet vulnerable, willing to risk it all for what they believe in, willing to sacrifice, and be there to pick up the pieces when it all comes down.

So let’s talk. What’s your definition of a hero?

CATHERINE WEST is an award-winning author who writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. Her first novel, Yesterday’s Tomorrow, released in 2011 and won the INSPY for Romance, a Silver Medal in the Reader’s Favorite Awards, and was a finalist in the Grace Awards. Catherine’s second novel, Hidden in the Heart, released in September 2012, was long listed in the 2012 INSPY’s and was a finalist in the 2013 Grace Awards. Catherine’s latest novel, Bridge of Faith, is now available on Amazon.

When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or tending to her roses and orchids. She and her husband have two grown children. Catherine is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, and is represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary. Catherine loves to connect with her readers and can be reached at

Connect with the Author

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Author's Casting Call, episode 22: Amy Sorrells Casts THEN SINGS MY SOUL

Welcome back for another episode of The Author's Casting Call at EIR. Today, Casting Director (and author!) Amy Sorrells is sharing the actors she would pick if her novel, Then Sings My Soul, was made into a movie. You can click on the name of the actor to open a new window to a pin on my Author's Casting Call at EIR Pinterest board (which you can follow for links back to all previous and future episodes of this feature) and get a glimpse into Amy's casting dreams. ~Serena

Here's a little about the book:

When Nel Stewart returns home due to the sudden death of her mother, she realizes her beloved father, Jakob, is struggling with dementia.

With the reappearance of a high-school sweetheart, deliveries from Ukraine addressed to her, and the discovery of a mysterious, vintage aquamarine gemstone, Nel senses God is pulling her into the past to restore their faith and their futures. Told partially through Jakob's flashbacks of fleeing genocide-ridden eastern Europe at the turn of the twentieth century, the novel combines elements of mystery, history, faith and romance to reveal how God redeems the broken years ... and our future.

Casting Then Sings My Soul
by Amy Sorrells, special for EIR
Envisioning my characters as actors and actresses on the Big Screen is the highlight of my novel writing process. And so, without further ado, allow me to introduce the cast for my new novel, Then Sings My Soul. Walter Matthau--if he were still alive--would be my choice for the often endearing, sometimes melancholy, and suprisingly humorous Jakob Stewart. At 94 years old, few actors could carry a role as much charming as it is tragic besides the iconic Mr. Matthau. Jakob's deceased wife, often referenced in flashbacks, would be played by the ethereally beautiful Katherine Hepburn (also if she were alive.) For Jakob's artistic and rather stubborn daughter, Nel Stewart, I choose Sandra Bullock. The role requires someone beautiful and independent, bohemian and pensive, but who can also laugh at herself. Who else but Sandra could fill such shoes? Jakob's brother Peter, seen in flashbacks throughout the novel, would be none other than Josh Hutcherson (of The Hunger Games films.) Besides the obvious Team Peeta/Team Peter parallels, Josh has the perfect combination of tender, brave and handsome required to get himself and Jakob through their perilous journey across Eastern Europe, and to suffer a sufficiently heart-rending hero's demise. Nel's old boyfriend would definitely be played by Harry Connick Jr. Devastatingly handsome and irresistible in a pensive way, the only drawback to having Mr. Connick in this role is that he is not a main character. How could Nel possibly resist her old, lumbersexual, high school flame if he were Harry? Finally, I'd cast Olympia Dukakis as Mattie, the quirky, independently wealthy widow next door. Loveable yet tough, demure yet no-nonsense, she'd portray the memorable neighbor reader's would expect in this supporting role.

AMY K. SORRELLS is an author and occasional poet writing words of hope for a hurting world. Winner of the 2012 Women of Faith Writing Contest, and a two-time ACFW Genesis Award Semi-Finalist, Amy got her start in journalism writing for medical publications and enjoyed a three year stint as a weekly op-ed columnist for her town newspaper. When she's not writing or reading, she can be found bare-handed in garden dirt or covered in paint while up-cycling found treasures. A graduate of DePauw University, Amy lives with her husband, three sons, and a gaggle of golden retrievers in central Indiana. 

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The Ultimate Romance -- guest post by author Pepper Basham

God Gave Us Stories of The Ultimate Romance
by Pepper Basham, special for EIR

I love to write romance stories. Almost every book I've ever written has had some form of romance in it. From World War 1, to Rom Com, to (dare I say it) maybe even a little vampire-ish, romance flows through my stories like chocolate through my diet. In my opinion, the story of true love is one of the most beautiful, hopeful, awe-inspiring, and uplifting stories we can ever write! I’m often excited and humbled by the opportunity to show the sweet connection between a hero and heroine, but most of my stories don’t solely focus on the two main characters falling in love. Sure, there is a lot of joy, excitement and pleasure in creating a beautiful romance between two people who have been broken in some way and find healing in the love of another person. It’s such a fascinating and rewarding adventure to write!

But what I enjoy even more is writing about the deeper romance. Within the stories that I create I love showing the romance of God for his people. It is a love that is powerful and transforming. It's a pursuing love. It’s the type of love that requires whole-hearted sacrifice, dangerous commitment, a furious jealousy, and an awe-inspiring sweetness. Beyond the fluff-and-stuff of heated kisses and racing pulses, there is a romance of the bridegroom for his tarnished bride.
In His grand design, God has called me to write romance that fits into the grander Romance of His grace. To weave a deeper love within the folds of my hero and heroine’s lives.
Wow! What a privilege!
Stories have been used for centuries to show deep truths in ways that reach the everyday heart. In the Bible we learn of them and some are even shocking, but they always have a deeper meaning. God tells stories with purpose – as many authors try to do, and those of us who are inspired by His love story can’t help but have it overflow into our writing.
The story of Hosea and Gomer, or Ruth and Boaz, even the Song of Solomon with its PG-13 imagery, are all used as smaller pictures of a deeper romance. Don’t you find it overwhelming and beautiful to know we are loved in such a way that nothing can separate us from the Lover of our souls? We are held secure in a passionate romance beyond imagining, beyond eternity!
Yes, there are beautiful classics with their witty or broken characters, they're passionate moments and flowery speeches, their valiant rescues and excellent sacrifices for love.
But none can truly compare to the beauty and excellence of our heavenly father's love for us.
In the everyday glimpses of the love we see through a man and a woman, a mother and her child, or the bond of friendship, we see glimpses of God’s fingerprints stamped into real life. We experience tastes of an ‘almost-but-not-yet’ kind of banquet filled with everything our hearts have longed to savor.
Writers have tried for thousands of years and will probably try for thousands more to portray the beauty of love through story – and we’ll continue to enjoy reading them just to get another glimpse.
We know in part the romance that reaches our souls, but someday we will experience in all of its fullness, how deep, wide, long, and high is the love of God through Jesus Christ.
But for now….God gave us stories.

PEPPER BASHAM is an award-winning author who writes romance peppered with grace and humor. She’s a native of the Blue Ridge Mountains, a mom of five, a speech-language pathologist, and a lover of chocolate. She enjoys sprinkling her native Appalachian culture into her fiction whenever she can. She currently resides in the lovely mountains of Asheville, NC where she works with kids with special needs, searches for unique hats, and plots new ways to annoy her wonderful friends at her writing blog, The Writer’s Alley. She is represented by Julie Gwinn and her debut novel, The Thorn Bearer, released in April 2015. You can connect with Pepper on her website at, Facebook- or Twitter at

Monday, May 11, 2015

The Author's Casting Call, Episode 21: Rachelle Dekker Casts THE CHOOSING

On this episode of The Author's Casting Call, Casting Director (and author!) Rachelle Dekker picks her dream cast for a film version of her dystopian YA novel, The Choosing

Sit back, grab some popcorn, and enjoy. 

As always, make sure you follow my Author's Casting Call at EIR Pinterest board for links to images of actors mentioned below, as well as links back to all previous episodes of The Author's Casting Call at EIR. ~Serena

Here's a little about the book:
Click on the title below to preorder
THE CHOOSING by Rachelle Dekker at Amazon
Like all citizens since the Ruining, Carrington Hale knows the importance of this day. But she never expected the moment she’d spent a lifetime preparing for—her Choosing ceremony—to end in disaster. Ripped from her family, she’ll spend her days serving as a Lint, the lowest level of society. She knows it’s her duty to follow the true way of the Authority.

But as Carrington begins this nightmare, rumors of rebellion rattle her beliefs. Though the whispers contradict everything she’s been told, they resonate deep within.

Then Carrington is offered an unprecedented chance at the life she’s always dreamed of, yet she can’t shake the feeling that it may be an illusion. With a killer targeting Lints and corruption threatening the highest levels of the Authority, Carrington must uncover the truth before it destroys her.

by Rachelle Dekker, special for EIR
(Click on the actors' names to open a new window with a Pinterest pic!)

I was asked to name what actors I think would play in The Choosing, if it were ever to become a major motion picture. Or at least who I would want to play each character. Oh what fun!

Carrington Hale: played by Chloe Grace Moretz
Reason: She resembles the character I’ve been seeing in my head for the last year, and has a likeable look about her. She also has a innocent quality that I think is key for Carrington’s character.

Remko Brandt: played by Diego Boneta
Reason: Long curly hair, dark eye, good jaw bone, so naturally his appearance is as Remko is described. Also he looks reserved and contemplative, and since Remko is a man of very few words this is necessary to his character.

Isaac Knight: played by Benedict Cumberbatch
Reason: He is tall and lengthily, handsome, but has a darkness about his face that could easily cause you to be hesitant about getting close to him. He would be perfect for Isaac. Appealing but dangerous.  

Dodson Rouge: played by Liam Neeson
Reason: Tough, years of hard work marked on his face, sharp with his words and a strong look that could command and kill. As head of the CityWatch, Dodson has to be all these things, making Neeson an easy choice.

Helms DeMarko: played by Tyler James Williams
Reason: His physical features favor Helms perfectly, and even though Helms can be serious, he has a goofy sense of humor that follows him, and this actor would portray that well.

Larkin Caulmen: played by Maia Mitchell
Reason: She seems whimsical and funny. Great curly hair and smile. Strong eyes, so that she comes across as kind but powerful. She looks like she knows who she is, and so does Larkin.

Aaron: played by Ross Marquand
Reason: Well first, he plays another character named “Aaron” on The Walking Dead, and the second he came onto the scene I said to my husband, “That’s what my Aaron looks like too!”  Kind eyes, calming voice, and the kind of person that looks like no matter what you did, they’d be there for you.

The oldest daughter of New York Times bestselling author Ted Dekker, RACHELLE DEKKER was inspired early on to discover truth through the avenue of storytelling. She writes full time from her home in Nashville, where she lives with her husband, Daniel, and their diva cat Blair. Follow Rachelle on Twitter and make sure you check out her Pinterest board for this book, where you can find links to book info, interviews, and more! 

Saturday, May 09, 2015

Book Spotlight! FALCON HEART by Azalea Dabill

New fantasy from a new voice! Check out Falcon Heart by Azalea Dabill

What it's about (from the book's Amazon page):

Click on the title below to find
Falcon Heart by Azalea Dabill at Amazon
A strange dagger... 
Adventure beyond fear... 

Slavers seize Kyrin Cieri from the coast of medieval Britain and sail for Araby. With a dagger from her murdered mother’s hand, an exiled warrior from the East, and a peasant girl, Kyrin finds mystery, martial skill, and friendship closer than blood. 

The falcon dagger pursues her through tiger-haunted dreams, love, and war in the Araby sands. Kyrin is caught by the caliph’s court intrigue and faces the blade that took her mother. One thing can give her the will to overcome, justice against hate, dagger against sword. 

Murder, sacrifice, vengeance...compassion and the art of war. 

Crossover: Find the Eternal, the Adventure 

Whether you love historical or Christian medieval romance with a touch of martial arts fiction, or need a young adult epic fantasy series for teens, Falcon Heart, Chronicle I is a solid choice. 

Read the excerpt of this medieval adventure and discover the magic of Falcon Heart. A medieval fantasy of romance and mystery from Britain to Arabia and back.

Sounds good, huh? This one is on my Kindle and I'm looking forward to reading it soon!


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