Jill Williamson’s Blog

A Hobbit Devotional by Ed Strauss

Posted by on Nov 14th, 2012 in Jill Williamson's Blog, Novel Teen | 1 comment

Hobbit DevotionalHere is a book that’s fun for the whole family—if you’ve read The Hobbit, of course. Each of the 60 devotionals are about 2-3 pages long and take a scene from the book and relates it to an every-day-life situation. A Hobbit Devotional gives readers a fresh way to enjoy Tolkien’s classic tale and practice spiritual growth. If you’re looking for a fun devotional book, what a way to start the day.

Age Range: 12 and up
Genre: devotional, nonfiction
Part of a Series: no
Pages: 320
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers

Write Now Relief: help the victims of Sandy and also get a little first aid for your novel!

Posted by on Nov 9th, 2012 in Jill Williamson's Blog | 41 comments

This is where you bid if you want to bid on a critique from me (Jill Williamson). Leave your bid in the comments section. If you’re interested in another author, check out the full list of participating authors here.

WHAT: Bid on a 50-page critique of your novel, I don’t care what genre it is. Highest bidder will send their amount to Samaritans Purse for their relief efforts for the victims of Superstorm Sandy.

WHEN: Begins Friday, November 9, ends Friday midnight EST November 16.

HOW: Place your bid in the comments section of this post. Monitor it closely so that you can re-bid if needed. Check back on this Facebook page for updates on all the bids. If you are the high bidder at the end of the week, make your donation and email a copy of your receipt to the author with your 50 pages. It’s that easy.

How much is a 50-page critique worth?

Most authors and editors can easily charge $35 an hour and a fifty-page critique is well over three hours of labor. But this labor of love is for victims who have lost everything. Their need is huge. One blogger who hosted a similar campaign last week had a top donation bid of $1,000 for a 50-page critique!

What will the critique entail?

I will read your fifty pages with an eye to giving you insights and feedback on all aspects of your story excerpt, including plot, character, story arc, mechanics, pacing, and reader appeal. If you also send me a one-page synopsis of your full story, I can give overall story feedback as well.

What is Samaritan’s Purse?

Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational evangelical Christian organization providing spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world. Since 1970, Samaritan’s Purse has helped meet needs of people who are victims of war, poverty, natural disasters, disease, and famine with the purpose of sharing God’s love through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Here is a video from Samaritans Purse on their efforts to help Sandy’s victims.

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How do I donate to Samaritans Purse?

You can head to the Samaritan’s Purse webpage on Hurricane Sandy http://www.samaritanspurse.org/index.php/articles/hurricane_sandy/

and click on the GIVE link imbedded on the page. Whether you are the highest bidder or not, do consider donating to this effort.

How do I bid?

Leave your bid in the comments section below. Thanks for your generosity in helping those in need.

An Interview and Giveaway with Eddie Jones

Posted by on Nov 8th, 2012 in Jill Williamson's Blog, Novel Teen | 29 comments

Today I’m talking with Eddie Jones. He is the author of the new teen mystery novel Dead Man’s Hand, which I reviewed here. His YA novel, The Curse of Captain LaFoote, won the 2012 Moonbeam Children’s Book Award and 2011 Selah Award in Young Adult Fiction. When he’s not writing or teaching at writers’ conferences, Eddie can be found surfing in Costa Rica or some other tropical locale.

Hi, Eddie! How did you start writing?

I started my sophomore year of high school and told my English teacher I wanted to write for Cat Talk, Millbrook High School’s newspaper. Mrs. Hough said, “Eddie, you can’t spell and you’re a terrible grammarian.” But I wrote a couple of articles. She seemed to like the way I could put words together, so I won a spot on staff.

My senior year Mrs. Pollard begged not to major in English. In fact, she was shocked I would even consider going to college because I’d never be accepted. She was right. NC State rejected my application. A few days later I made an appointment with the admissions office. The day of my interview I wore a pair of red and white checkered polyester pants my mom made me, white shirt, and a red tie. State admitted me into Industrial Arts, which I thought would be pretty cool since I though Industrial Arts meant I’d get to paint buildings. I flunked English 101 twice before passing with a D. I graduated from N.C. State four years later with a degree in English/Journalism and four years of writing experience for the Technician. I’m still a lousy proof-editor but I learned long ago storytelling trumps grammar.

LOL Wow, that’s quite a story. I hope you sent Mrs. Pollard a copy of one of your books. Tell us about your new release, Dead Man’s Hand.

First, it’s a fun, fast read aimed for middle school boys, but we’re also getting nice reviews on Goodreads from teachers and mothers. But my aim is to give boys a book they can enjoy, one taps into today’s fascination with the occult. This is the first book in the Caden Chronicles series and each story involves one element of the supernatural. Book one explores the concept of ghosts, spirits and what happens to our souls when we die.

You’re passionate about getting boys interested in books. Why do you feel it’s so important to get boys reading fiction at an early age?

Dead Man's Hand by Eddie Jones

Click to read my review.

I fear we’re on the verge of losing the male reader. I don’t mean men and boys won’t learn to read: they will. But the percentage male who read for leisure continues to shrink, and this could be devastating for our country. We can’t lose half our population and expect America to compete on a global level. Reading forces the mind to create. With video the scene and characters are received passively by the brain. There is very little interaction; it’s all virtual stimulation, which is different from creation. When you read, you add your furniture to the scene, dress the characters, add elements not mentioned by the author. This is why readers so often complain, “the movie was nothing like the book.” It’s not, because the book is your book. The author crafted the outline of the set but each reader brings their emotions and expectations to that book, changing it forever.

In general, boys would rather get their information and entertainment visually. This is one reason books have such a tough time competing for male readers. It can take weeks to read a book, even one as short as Dead Man’s Hand. Meantime, that same story can be shown as a movie in under two hours. So in one sense the allure of visual gratification is robbing future generations of our ability to solve problems.

I believe Americans only posses one true gift, creativity, and it’s a gift from God. Other nations build things cheaper and with fewer flaws. They work longer hours for less pay. But the thing that has always set America apart is our Yankee ingenuity. We have always been able to solve our way out of problems. That comes directly from our ability to create solutions to problems we didn’t anticipate. If we lose male readers and fail to develop that creative connections necessary for the brain to conceive of alternatives, then we will lose our position as the world’s leader. 

Interesting, Eddie. What advice would you offer to parents to get their children interested in reading at a young age?

Watch for clues. If your child shows any interest in reading, reward the activity with trips to book fairs. I remember in grade school how excited I got when we were allowed to order books. All we had to do was check a box, (or so I thought) and wham! A few weeks later boxes of books showed up and the teacher began dealing them to the students. I didn’t learn until later my parents had mailed the school money for those books. I still have most of them.

But not all children like reading and you can create an anti-reading environment if you push too hard. An alternative for boys are comic books, graphic novels, or simply cartoon books. I read a lot of Charlie Brown cartoon books and still remember the plot: Lucy has the football. Charlie wants to kick the ball. Lucy promises she will hold the ball in place, but at the last moment… We know this story because it’s repeated, not in a novel, but in a cartoon.

You’re writing for children right now with Zondervan. Besides the upcoming Cadence Chronicles Series, what are your dreams for your writing future?

Each day I walk around my yard reciting the Lord’s Prayer. This is my conversational time with God. Part of that prayer time is me putting on the armor of God. When I’m about halfway fitted out I say, “Lord place across my chest your breastplate of righteousness that my thought may be pure, honorable, and good and my dreams secure: my dreams of sailing around the Caribbean, writing a best selling novel, and surfing reef breaks.” Beyond that I don’t have any grand writing goals.

Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Write devotions, don’t focus on the praise, book sales, and reviews. Forget about trying to find an agent and editor. Once you’re successful, they’ll find you. Explore the wounds in your life and minister to others through your writing. If God allowed you to be hurt, you can speak to that with authority. The rest of us, cannot. Ask yourself where your passions lie. I love surfing. If I could do anything, be anywhere, I’d be in a hut on a beach surfing a point break alone. I love playing and hate work. This is reflected in the types of books I write. I love pulling for the underdog. This comes out in the ministry God gave me. Only you can write the stories God dropped in your lap, and if you do not, they will die.

Thanks for taking with me, Eddie! Where can we find out more about you?

Please come find me on www.Eddiejones.org.

I’m giving away one copy of Dead Man’s Hand. Enter on the Rafflecopter form below. 


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Dead Man’s Hand by Eddie Jones

Posted by on Nov 7th, 2012 in Jill Williamson's Blog, Novel Teen | 0 comments

Dead Man's Hand by Eddie JonesNick Caden and his family travel to Montana for a family vacation at Deadwood Canyon Ghost Town, where they’re entertained by such characters as Billy the Kid, Jesse James, and Annie Oakley. Nick would rather be in Las Vegas for a video game convention. But then Nick stumbles onto a dead body, and once he brings the sheriff back to the scene of the crime, the body is gone. Now no one will believe him. So it’s up to Nick to solve the crime himself—which is a hobby of his anyway. His parents want him to stay out of trouble, but Nick won’t stop until he solves the murder.

I don’t think there are enough mystery books or boy books for young readers that are written from a Christian worldview, so I’m excited about this book. And it reminded me of the Hardy Boy books I read as a kid. Nick and his family are not Christians, though, and there is a point where he asks his mom about the Bible and she makes it clear that she doesn’t believe the book is true. But Nick finds a Bible with highlighted passages that make him curious.

Nick was determined to solve the case. At first I was a little confused. I couldn’t tell if there really had been a dead body or if it was part of the Ghost Town’s act. And I wasn’t certain until the very end, which was kind of fun, to be kept guessing. Everyone is a suspect in Nick’s eyes, including his new friend Annie. He gathers his clues and processes them based on his “training” as a Cyber Sleuth, something he and his friends do in their spare time to solve cold cases. I’m still not sure how the highlighted Bible fit in to the mystery, but Nick figures it out and saves the day. This is a clean and fun story. Check it out.

*I received this book from Zondervan in return for an honest review of my opinions.

Age Range: 9 and up
Genre: mystery
Part of a Series: Book one in the Caden Chronicles
Pages: 224
Publisher: Zondervan
Released: 2012

The Winners of the Go Undercover Scavenger Hunt Are…

Posted by on Oct 30th, 2012 in Jill Williamson's Blog | 5 comments

The Go Undercover Scavenger Hunt has ended!

Congratulations to the winner of the $100 Barnes and Noble gift card, Matthew Schroll!

And the ten runners up who will receive spy kits are:


Congrats to all the winners, and thanks to all who entered!

The Winners of the Early Captives Giveaway are…

Posted by on Oct 29th, 2012 in Jill Williamson's Blog | 0 comments

Captives The Safe Lands

Thanks to everyone who entered my Bonus Contest on the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt. It was great to meet all you guys! I hope you all discovered many new authors to read.

I gave away five copies of Captives, my upcoming dystopian novel, which isn’t out until February. So, winners, the books won’t come in the mail until then.

And the winners are:

Kathleen E. Belongia
Melissa Jagears
Joanna Stricker
Elizabeth Libby Riggs, and
Andrea Munn

Thanks again to all who entered! 🙂


SCAVENGER HUNT STOP #20: Follow the clues to win a Kindle Fire, free books, and more!

Posted by on Oct 24th, 2012 in Adventures in Life, Jill Williamson's Blog, Novel Teen | 133 comments

Welcome to the Fall Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt! The hunt begins on October 25 at noon, MDT and ends on October 28 at midnight MDT. There are 31 stops on this tour where you will discover 31 new or upcoming novels. Sweet.

Collect the clues in red from each stop, beginning with Stop #1. Be ready to provide the completed clue quote, gathered from all 31 stops, within 24 hours of email notification or another winner will be randomly drawn. No need to email/submit it, unless you are notified on 10/29/12.

  • Grand Prize: A new Kindle Fire, plus 31 new novels! NOTE: Please comment at every stop that allows for comments to be eligible for the Grand Prize.
  • 2nd & 3rd Prizes: $50 Amazon, B&N, CBD or BookDepository.com gift certificate
  • Contest is open to international entrants. If the winner lives outside the United States, they shall win the equivalent in gift certificate funds to the prize in US dollars.

Meet Judith Miller

As part of the scavenger hunt, I’m hosting historical author, Judith Miller. Whoops! Judy’s an author of historical fiction, but she tells me she hasn’t quite attained an age that would qualify her as historical. She does say she’s almost there, but I know that isn’t quite true!

Judy loves history and has penned more than thirty-five books. (Penned is one of those authorly terms Judy likes to use—she’s really plunked out those books on her keyboard.) Her latest release, A Hidden Truth, begins Judy’s second series set in the picturesque Amana Colonies located in Iowa. 

Here’s what the book, A Hidden Truth, is about:

A Hidden Truth by Judith Miller

In the Amana Colonies, hidden truths are about to change everything for two young women.

When Karlina Richter discovers a new shepherd will be sent to her village, she fears she’ll no longer be allowed to help her father with the sheep, and she’ll be relegated back to kitchen work. Her fears increase when the new shepherd shows little interest in the flock—or in divulging why he’s suddenly been sent toEast Amana. Is he keeping secrets that will impact Karlina’s family?

After the death of her mother, Dovie Cates visits the Amana Colonies to learn more about the place where her mother grew up. But when Dovie begins to ask questions about her mother’s past, no one seems willing to reveal anything, so she decides to take matters into her own hands. Will the answers she finds spell disaster for her future plans and the longings of her heart?


A Scavenger Hunt Exclusive from Judy:

Like the Amish, the people of the Amana Colonies lived a plain life for many years. For that reason, and the fact that Amish and Amana begin with the letter “A,” the two religious groups are often confused. So, I thought you might enjoy learning a few differences:

The people of Amana no longer live what is thought of as a ‘simple life.’ By a vote of the membership the people of Amana ceased communal living during the Great Depression in 1932.

Prior to 1932, the women wore long, dark calico dresses, dark caps or bonnets when working outdoors and the men wore dark clothing, similar to the Amish, but a bit more colorful.

Although the families ate meals in a communal kitchen house (there were several kitchen houses in each of the seven villages) they were assigned living quarters that consisted of a parlor and bedrooms for their families. (Usually there would be two or three families in each of the larger homes—much like a small apartment building.)

The people of Amana were permitted to leave the Colonies at will, and were also permitted to return if they decided they couldn’t adjust to life outside of the villages. They were not shunned if they left and could come back to visit relatives whenever they wished.

The current descendants wear the more traditional clothing for the early church service on Sunday mornings that is in the German language and for special events where they give presentations regarding their heritage. Otherwise, their clothing is the same as yours and mine.

They still enter their meeting house through separate doors—the men through one door and the women on the other and they continue to sit on opposite sides of the church, as well. There is no musical accompaniment. The churches do not have steeples and appear very similar to other buildings in the community. Inside, they are very plain with wooden benches and minimal adornment so that attention is not diverted away from the Lord during worship services.

The people of Amana have always embraced and encouraged machinery and time-saving innovation whereas the Amish shy away from technology. (The first radar range was made in Amana and the appliance factory still remains in Middle Amana, although it is no longer owned by the Amana Corporation.)

If you want to learn more about the Colonies, you can visit this website: http://www.amanaheritage.org/

Make sure you grab a copy of Judy’s book where you can learn even more of these interesting historical facts. You can find a copy:

Thanks for visiting my blog, Judith! Your book sounds wonderful! I love the cover. And what an interesting post about Amana vs. Amish. I never knew those things. Very neat.

Scavengers, before you go, write down this STOP #20 clue: What I

Your next stop is Judith Millers’s own blog. Have fun!

BONUS PRIZES! I recently turned in the edits for my February 2013 dystopian release, Captives (the first book in The Safe Lands dystopian trilogy). In celebration, I’m going to give away five copies of this book when it releases to five lucky participants of this scavenger hunt. All you need to do is:

  1. Captives The Safe LandsLike my Facebook Page and leave a comment on it saying, “I found you on the Fall Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt” (if you already Like my Page, leave the comment and say “I’m participating in the Christian Fiction Scavenger Hunt” and …
  2. Sign up for my quarterly ezine which is only sent out four times a year. Your name on the newsletter signup must match your name on Facebook. If you’re already a subscriber to my newsletter, first click on the link and make certain your name is subscribed as well as your email address. Then private message me on Facebook with your email address so that I can verify and get your name entered in the drawing.

All eligible names will go into a hat for a drawing after the close of the scavenger hunt. Winners will be announced on this blog, on Facebook, and via the email address signed up on the newsletter mailing list. I will mail out the winning books in February.

Good luck in both the scavenger hunt and in my bonus contest! And as always, look under Contests and Freebies to see what other giveaways you might be able to enter on my site.



Posted by on Oct 19th, 2012 in Jill Williamson's Blog, Podcasts | 0 comments

CLICK HERE to download To Darkness Fled-Episode 42

In this concluding chapter of To Darkness Fled, Achan leads his first war council and receives an answer from his future bride.

Please note, I must stop podcasting for now. I don’t have the time to keep up with the project. I’d like to come back to it someday. But since it takes me 3-5 hours per chapter, I’m not sure when that might be. Thanks for listening! 🙂


Posted by on Oct 13th, 2012 in Jill Williamson's Blog, Podcasts | 0 comments

CLICK HERE to download To Darkness Fled-Episode 41

The knights confer to decide who shall become Achan’s bride while Sparrow watches from within the castle walls.

From Darkness Won Book Trailer

Posted by on Oct 12th, 2012 in Adventures in Life, Jill Williamson's Blog | 0 comments

It’s come to my attention that while I posted the book trailer for From Darkness Won on my website and my Facebook and YouTube pages, I never wrote a blog post for it! So sorry! It’s been a busy summer into fall. 

Here is the wonderful masterpiece put together by the talented Nightwing Studios group. They are amazing! Leave a comment and let me know what you think. And be sure to point out if you see someone familiar…

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