A Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander

A Note Yet UnsungA Note Yet Unsung by Tamera Alexander is a duet between two hearts who are trying to make their dreams come true. Rebekah Carrington watches the world of music from behind the curtain of social norms. A talented musician who has studied for years in Vienna, Rebekah isn’t allowed to perform on stage due to society’s rule against women performing. Refusing to allow the curtain to drop on her dream, Rebekah seeks an audience with the new maestro of Nashville’s symphony orchestra, Nathaniel Tate Whitcomb. Despite his compassion in her plight, the young maestro cannot break convention and offer this woman a seat in his all-male orchestra. Though their relationship begins with discord, as they work together to complete Tate’s symphony, despite his recurring headaches and dizziness, a friendship blossoms into something much deeper.

But neither Rebekah or Tate are completely what they seem. Secrets from their pasts keep a hold on their futures and they must work in harmony to have a chance for both of their dreams to come true.

A Note Yet Unsung 2

Tamera Alexander’s beautiful writing and heart-touching ability to draw upon the characters’ distinct differences to complement each other is masterfully done. What should we expect from a master storyteller, though? As a mountain girl, I was particularly delighted in the way Tamera described Appalachian people in a positive light, without sugar coating reality. The tenderness and fierce love of family shines through in these scenes, which were my FAVORITE scenes…and I’m totally biased 😊

Sweet romance, intelligent dialogue, and a gentle note of inspiration, bring this story together to leave a sweet melody lingering in your heart.

As a FUN extra, you can find the playlist for this book on Tamera’s website. Click the photo below to check it out!

You can find A Note Yet Unsung at:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Christian Book Distributors

About the Author

www.tameraalexander.com

Tamera Alexander is a USA Today bestselling novelist and one of today’s most beloved authors of Christian historical romance. Her works have been awarded and nominated for numerous industry-leading honors, among them the Christy Award, the RITA Award, the Carol Award, Library Journal’s top honors, and have earned the distinction of Publisher’s Weekly Starred Reviews. Her deeply drawn characters and thought-provoking plots have earned her devoted readers worldwide.

Tamera and her husband reside in Nashville, Tennessee, where they live a short distance from Nashville’s Belmont Mansion and Belle Meade Plantation , the setting of Tamera’s #1 CBA bestselling Southern series. Her upcoming series, the Carnton Novels , launches in fall 2017 with Christmas at Carnton  (October 3, 2017), a Christmas story, which is set at Franklin, Tennessee’s historic Carnton Plantation.

In the Kitchen with Marcy Farris

TRZkelliSo excited to have fellow Lighthouse author, Kelli Hughett, with me today…along with the main character of her debut, Red Zone. We had the opportunity to meet last year at ACFW and it was such a delight. (Check out her pic right here. She’s GORGEOUS with amazing hair) You can learn more about her at her website – http://www.kellihughett.com/.

You can check out her book here, http://tinyurl.com/on8wzyn. And because she’s SO sweet, she’s added a yummy recipe at the bottom of the post. Now….let’s get cookin’ 😉

“Hey, Girl!” Marcy licks batter from a finger and wipes her hands on a striped dish towel as she welcomes me into her kitchen. “Come on in.”

As a sport’s reporter, being in a kitchen for an interview feels way foreign. I like the change.

TRZcookingI can’t help grinning at mess on the counters. There’s a yellow bowl with remnants of spaghetti sauce, a cutting board with an array of chopped vegetables in the corner, a bag of chocolate chips, green food coloring, and flour smoothed out across a two foot surface where a rolling pin awaits. A framed picture of Marcy’s kids, Brant and Haley, hangs over the kitchen table in the corner.

I inhale. “Mmm. Smells heavenly.” I get out my camera and snap a candid picture as she closes a drawer with her right hip. “What’s on the menu today?”

Her eyes light up and she tucks a strand of dark hair behind her ear. “Rigatoni and Cheese, Caesar Salad, French bread, and Triple Layer Mint Brownies.” She tosses her dishrag toward the sink. “Sorry about the mess. I should clean up as I go, but I get so into the food that I forget.” She shrugs and pulls a chair out for me.

TRZkitchenI pull my notebook from my messenger bag, eager to learn her secrets. And maybe if she’s comfortable, she’ll dish about her relationship with former NFL great, Jack Briggs the NFL’s Gentleman Linebacker. (and one of People’s sexiest men alive) I’d done stories on him in his glory days, but the man evaded interviews with the press like a ghost.

A stream of bright Colorado sunlight warms the wooden table where I rest my hands. “I want to get to know you a little better, so let’s start with you. Tell me about yourself.”

“Now there’s a grand subject.” She smirks in self-depreciation. “I’m a homemaker for now.” She sweeps her hand around the room. “As you can see, I spend a lot of time in the kitchen.”

Do I detect a dream or two in for now? The smells coming from the oven make my mouth water. I smile. “I can tell. So, let’s get down to the food. What are you teaching me today?”

She pops up. “Let’s get started.”

She tosses me a pale green apron made of well-worn cotton. It smells of flour and Downy.

TRZtomato sauce“I’ve done all the prep work and you’ll be putting it together.” Marcy hands me a crisp piece of paper. “I copied the recipe.” Her eyes twinkle. “Print it with the interview or make it for someone special.”

I see my opening. “So, have you made this meal for anyone special lately?” The look in her eyes and the blush on her cheek says she doesn’t miss my meaning.

“There are a few special people in my life who love this dish.”

Rats, she’s Fort Knox when it comes to Jack, just as I suspected. I don the apron and sit back in the chair at the table while she pulls bowls out of the fridge. All the while, I get the distinct feeling she’s reading my thoughts as plain as if I’d spoken aloud.

She cocks her head and chews her bottom lip as if deciding whether to trust me. “You’re sitting in Jack’s chair, you know.”

I can’t hide my grin as I kick off my shoes, tuck my feet up under me and ready my pen. “I’m assuming you’re talking about Jack Briggs…”

TRZ(Want to read more? Red Zone, a romantic suspense featuring Marcy Farris and Jack Briggs is available in paperback or Kindle on Amazon.com)

Marcy’s Rigatoni and Cheese recipe.

8 oz Ground Beef

½ C Chopped white or yellow onion

1 Clove chopped garlic

1 Jar favorite spaghetti sauce

1/8 tsp Pepper

16 oz Cottage Cheese (not non-fat)

½ C Milk

½ tsp Salt

8-10 oz Rigatoni Noodles (Cooked 8 minutes and drained)

1 C Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (More if desired)

2 TBS Shredded Parmesan Cheese

Brown meat, onion and garlic until cooked through. Add spaghetti sauce and pepper. Simmer on low 10 minutes.

While that’s simmering, mix cottage cheese, milk, salt and noodles in a large bowl.

Layer in a glass baking dish: Noodle mix:Meat Mix: Cheese

(should have enough for 2 layers)

Sprinkle with Parm and bake for 20 minutes at 350.

Who’s Got Character with Jeffrey Overstreet

Aspiring minds want to know how the colorful characters behind Jeffrey Overstreet’s fantasy novels came into existence. Not only does Jeffrey blend the colors of story to create masterpieces worth reading, he was a film reviewer and columnist for Christianity Today for most of a decade and is sought after for his insights about faith and film.

 His film commentaries and reviews have been featured in many film magazines, even noted in Time, and he was awarded The Spiritus Award in 2007 for his remarkable writing in the field of Film and Theology.

Get ready for some excellent and detailed answers to the questions today.

Thanks Jeffrey for being a part of this. I chose this particular picture of you because I thought it was the perfect blend of your love for film and writing.

1. Who is your favorite heroine & hero you’ve ever written?

That’s like asking me to choose my favorite from my 23 nephews and nieces. But I’d have to say that Auralia, the central character of my novel Auralia’s Colors, is my favorite “heroine.”

And that’s funny, because Auralia’s Colors was going to be an experiment. I was going to try to tell the story of a character who never actually appears in the book. My early chapters were all about a character who had just passed through, and everyone was talking about her, or thinking about her, or discovering the effects of her creativity. But the more I wrote, the more I realized that readers were not going to tolerate this. They would want to meet Auralia. And even now that the book is published, readers still tell me: “I want to spend more time with Auralia.” I wish I could write a “director’s cut” and add some new scenes for them.

Since then, one of my young nieces has been given the name Auralia. So now, there’s a real Auralia running around! But last time I saw her, she was six or seven years old, and she announced that she wanted to be called “Stinky.” I told her that when she’s old enough to read Auralia’s Colors, she’ll find that poor Auralia gets called worse names than that. Auralia’s a sort of prophet, and you know what happens to prophets in their hometowns.

My favorite hero? Well, in the series The Auralia Thread, the ale boy is my favorite hero. He’s so small and humble, and he has such a heart to serve others, that he can slip in and out of places almost unnoticed and have a transforming effect on their lives. But he’s also a very lonely, bruised character, and I look forward to the chapters when we will see his tremendous suffering come to an end.

But the hero I love best out of all my characters is, well, green and feathered. And that book isn’t out yet, so you’ll have to wait for him.

(To read a review of Auralia’s Colors, check out this detailed and wonderful review: http://fantasybookcritic.blogspot.com/2008/01/auralias-colors-by-jeffrey-overstreet.html )

2. What is the ‘behind the scenes story’ for the creation of that hero & heroine?
To answer that, I’ll have to tell you about a place.

Back in 1996, Anne and I joined some close friends to go hiking near Flathead Lake in Montana, not far from where a friend of ours, the writer and pastor Eugene Peterson, lives.

I was feeling particularly grateful that day, because I was with inspiring friends, and I was still getting to know Anne. (This was a couple of months before she married me.) The more time I spent with Anne, the more I felt that I was receiving an extravagant gift. Anne is a very quiet and observant woman. She writes poetry because she looks very closely at the world around her, and she writes with great care about the mysteries she encounters there. Spending time with Anne, I was learning to slow down and appreciate things that normally I would pass right by.

So there we were, hiking through a landscape of extraordinary beauty. I felt as if my senses were sharper than they had ever been. I was overwhelmed by what I was seeing.

We were talking our childhoods, and our ongoing passion for fairy tales and the imagination. It was odd, that we would find each other in a world where most people think that fairy tales are just “kids’ stuff.”

Then Anne said, “Isn’t it a shame how so many people, when they reach a certain age, fold up their imaginations, put them in a closet, and forget about them?”

When she said that, I suddenly began to imagine a story. The story would begin with a colorless kingdom, where the stuff of creativity had become illegal. That city sat there like a pile of cold ash in the colorful forest. (You can see that on Kristopher Orr’s amazing cover art for Auralia’s Colors.) 

By then I realized that, in my mind’s eye, I was looking over the shoulder of a character: a young woman who was crying because of the poverty of that colorless kingdom. She then began to weave together an expression of love for those deprived people. It was a work of art, containing all of the colors in the world. All of the colors that the kingdom had lost.

Well, needless to say, I was intrigued. I knew I had to start writing about her. So I did, right there, that day alongside the lake. I wanted to follow that character around, much the way that I still enjoy following Anne around.

 The name “Auralia” came after a lot of playing around with words. I love the word “aura”, and the name “Laura” means “light.” After trying several variations, I arrived at “Auralia.” 

I had no idea that Auralia would lead me into a four-book epic. But she did. She’s a boundlessly creative character, so I try to do her justice on the page, but it’s difficult. She uses colors nobody had ever seen before, and how am I supposed to describe that? She crafts clever inventions for her friends, and extravagant works of art for the rest of the world. Sometimes they inspire, sometimes they infuriate. But they are all revelatory in their beauty. I would later learn as I wrote the sequel — Cyndere’s Midnight — that Auralia also was capable of some dark and terrifying art. She could craft expressions of the evil she saw in the world, as well as the evil in her own heart.

Auralia was inspired by Anne, yes, but also by other artists I’ve met who take the beauty they encounter, and troubles they experience, and weave them into art that is true and beautiful. She inspires me to make something out of my own experiences. And she doesn’t explain them to people, because she doesn’t understand them herself. In the same way, I can’t paraphrase the “lesson” of Auralia’s story, because that’s not my job. It’s a big mystery to me. My job is to write the story, and let the mystery speak for itself. (This is why I’m aggravated when people say Auralia is a “Christ figure.” Her story isn’t finished yet, and while she is creative, she is also capable of making mistakes.)

Auralia helps me believe that, even though I’m broken and unable to repair myself, the Great Artist can work through broken people. And if I let him, he will weave me into plans much greater than my own.

And the ale boy? Well, in retrospect, the ale boy reminds me of anybody who is inspired by great art, and who then tries to live differently in view of what they’ve experienced. Auralia’s colors open up the ale boy’s heart and fill him with a desire to help others see their way out of darkness. But I really don’t know where he came from. He showed up very quietly at first, just an “extra” in the cast of characters. He was so quiet that he got my attention. So perhaps, in that way, he was inspired by Anne as well.

 (To read a review of Cyndere’s Midnight, check out this site: http://www.faithfulreader.com/reviews/9781400072538.asp )

 Character Creation Tip For the Day:

Imagery and Senses. Characters who breathe, who cause an emotional reaction in us, whose stories stay with us long after the book has gotten lost on our shelves, are the characters who come alive through the use of senses and magic of imagery. When the reader can ‘feel’ or ‘see’ the characters fear, joy, pleasure, grief…then the character becomes more than two dimensional – he or she becomes a memory.

Tomorrow? 

Come join us to discover what historical romance author Tammy Barley has to tell us about her favorite characters.

Menu for Romance

Kaye Dacus has cooked up a delightful romance with the ingredients of humor, faith, and true love.

Recipe:
1 – party planner named Meredith Guidry who has been secretly in love with her chef-friend and coworker for over eight years.
1- Chef Major O’Hara who must decide between love, his mother, and the job he’s dreamed of
3 cups of romance – aged at about 8 years
1 ½ cups of uncertainty -(Meredith’s possible boyfriend, Major’s secret/mysterious mom, a few family crisis, and a lovely news anchor )
A handful of misunderstandings
A dash of humor

Blend well, bake for about 317 pages and you have a fun commercial break during the chaos of life.

Though Menu for Romance isn’t as exciting as its’ predecessor, Stand-In Groom, it’s still a pleasant dessert for an escape into the world of cooking, parties, crazy families, and, of course, romance.
To Win a Copy of Menu For Romance, just make a comment about what your favorite recipe is. Leave your email address and a name will be drawn on July 31st. The winner will receive a copy of Menu for Romance and a recipe for a wonderful dessert.menufor

Hook ’em with the first line

You’re standing in front of a shelve of deliciously tempting books inside Barnes and Noble or Books a Million…or even the library. The smell of imagination cooking between fresh print pricks your curiosity and you scan the rows looking for a title or cover to push you from temptation to commitment. Finally, something snags your attention and you draw the book from the shelf, the promise of a tantalizing visit to otherworlds tingling through your body. (okay, maybe I’m the only one who gets this feeling, but I also write fantasy so it works for me 😉

You slide your hand across the silken cover dancing with brilliant colors and a magical picture, finally flipping to the first page.

Once upon a time….

It was a dark and stormy night…

It is a truth universally acknolwedged….

Either the book grips you in the first paragraph and delivers on its’ promises from the back cover and the front picture, or you realize…this book is not for you.

Okay, so what makes a gripping first line…a first paragraph even. Part of it has to do with personal preference, I know, but first lines have a tendency to draw us in…catch us…hook us like a fish in the water.

With this thought in mind, I’ve listed a few ‘first lines’ in books (old and new) as an example. See what you think.

“Scarlet O’Hara was not beautiful, but men seldom realized it when caught by her charm, as the Tarleton twins were.” – Gone With the Wind

“Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show.” David Copperfield

“Tom!” The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

“I have just returned from a visit to my landlord – the solitary neighbour that I shall be troubled with.” – Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

“A gentle breeze from the north-east after a night of rain, and the washed sky over Malta had a particular quality in its light that sharpened the lines of the noble buildings, bringing out all the virtue of the stone; the air too was a delight to breathe, and the city of Valletta was as cheerful as though it were fortunate in love or as though it had suddenly heard good news.” – Treason’s Harbor by Patrick O’Brian

“Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four, Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, than you very much.” – Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

“A long time ago, when all the grandfathers and grandmothers of today were little boys and little girls or very small babies, or perhaps not even born, Pa and Ma and Mary and Laura and Baby Carrie left their little house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. They drove away and left it lonely and empty in the clearing among the big trees, and they never saw that little house again.” Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalss Wilder

“There is no lake at Camp Green Lake.” Holes by Louis Sachar

Now for some Christian Fiction examples 🙂 How do they compete?

“Oh, to be a calculating woman!” Julie Lessman’s A Passion Denied

“Nice girl gone bad. That’s me: Claire Le Noyer.” Kissing Adrien by Siri Mitchell

“Nothing like running late to make a wonderful first impression.” Stand-In Groom by Kaye Dacus

“The day was gray and cold, mildly damp. Perfect for magic.” The Book of Names by D. Barkley Briggs

“Breathe not a word of my visit, Jean. not to a soul.” Thorn in my Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs

“Bran!” The shout rattled through the stone-flagged yard. “Bran! Get your sorry tail out here! We’re leaving!” Hood by Stephen Lawhead

“Dragon riding isn’t all it’s cracked up to be,” Ashley grumbled. Enoch’s Ghost by Bryan Davis

Now, interestingly enough, these examples have something in common: They are out to get your attention BUT they use different means to get it.

– Some draw in the reader with ACTION. You enter the story in motion and are swept into the pages.

– Some use INTRIGUE…something’s ‘not quite right’, so your curiousity is peaked.

– Some use HUMOR and brings you in with a smile.

– Others use the UNEXPECTED – something is stated (kind of like intrigue) which is out of the ordinary so to keep from teetering on the brink of confusion, the reader must read on.

-Finally some capture you with WORDS, magically descriptive, palpable words which insnare the senses.

Any way you choose to do it, SOMETHING has to happen in that first paragraph which captures the readers attention to keep them reading…wanting more, inescapably attracted.