Make your Own Hallmark Story This Christmas

I’m just going to say it. I’m really tired of hearing people put down the Hallmark Christmas movies. Yes, they’re predictable. Yes, most of them follow the same formula. Yes, they all star the same actors and actresses. But you know what? They are a welcome refuge from everything on the news and the crowds in the stores and the stress of the holiday season. I mean, really, there is a reason why they are so popular–who wants to spend more than two minutes thinking about everything that’s going wrong in the world today? Wouldn’t you rather be watching two people fall in love over the course of a holiday season with the most beautiful snowy backdrop in the most welcoming Christmas village kind of town? And who says that romances like that don’t really happen?

To prove my point, all I have to do is think about the conversation I overheard this past Saturday night. My girls and I hosted our annual Mother-Daughter Christmas party with dear friends from our community, parish, school, and family. After the party was over, Rebecca’s friends, most from other states, spent the night here at the house. As we were cleaning up, the talk turned to weddings, as it often does with post-college girls! Then several girls told the stories of how their parents met. Each one was more charming than the last, and my heart swelled every time I heard Rebecca’s roommate swoon, “I’m obsessed with this story, keep going!” Since I was there, Rebecca asked me to tell the story of how Ken and I met. It’s a lovely story that our family really enjoys sharing. And it was obvious that the girls all felt the same about their own parents’ first encounters.

The stories revolved around failed first marriages, high school sweethearts, second chance romances, and fate encounters. Each one was different, but they all shared one quality–in the eyes of their daughters, no matter what the circumstances were, the stories were enchanting tales of falling in love and living happily ever after. It didn’t matter if there was pain or strife involved, if there was swirling snow or the perfect cup of cocoa, or if the meeting took place at a bar, a frat party, or a gingerbread cottage (as so many HM movies do). The stories gave the girls hope that someday, they would all be featured in their own personal, Hallmark movie romance, just like their parents were.

You see, not every romance or happy story takes place in the perfect Christmas town where the non-believer comes around to joyfully celebrating the holiday with his or her new-found love while light snowflakes fall around them. But every family’s beginning has a story, and those who retell the story often see a fairy-tale unfold even in the most unlikely of circumstances. All of those girls made their parents’ romances sound like a Debbie Macomber novel (HM favorites) even if we all knew that the story was just an ordinary meeting between two ordinary people destined for an ordinary life in an ordinary town. There was no exaggerating or creating an epic bestseller from a comic book, but each story was special, and the girls all knew it. They all recognized that every story has the potential to be a Hallmark story, even the ones that go awry. Why?

Because, like many of the characters learn by the end of the two-hour movie, your life, your story, your family’s story, is what you make it. When we see our lives and the people in them as something special, unique, and to be cherished, we can all be just like the people on Hallmark. Sure, we won’t all have Balsam Hill Christmas trees or perfect sugar cookies in less than fifteen minutes, but we all have the ability to see the wonder of life and to appreciate our own stories and to pass this along to our children.

photo-6176892386934784So, this Christmas, when your family’s rendition of Hark the Herald Angels Sing doesn’t sound like a Blake Shelton-produced movie or your cookies aren’t picture-perfect, don’t worry. Your children will remember everything the way you make it out to be–The Nightmare Before Christmas or It’s a Wonderful Life. You’re living your own Hallmark movie every day. Write it the way you want it to be told, cherishing the good and bad, and smiling along the way. Bring happiness into the world. Celebrate the holidays with all the joy and enthusiasm found in a winning gingerbread house contest or a sleigh ride on a snowy mountain. Someday, you may look back and see your lives, your romances, and your Christmases for what they really were–stories better than a Hallmark movie.

What I was writing about a year ago this week: Seeing Jesus.

Amy Schisler is an award-winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture MeWhispering Vines, and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her follow up, Island of Promise is a reader favorite. Amy’s children’s book is The Greatest Gift. The suspense novel, Summer’s Squall, and all of Amy’s books, can be found online and in stores. Her latest novel, Island of Promise, was recently awarded First Prize by the Oklahoma Romance Writer’s Association as the best Inspirational Romance of 2018.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017), Island of Promise (2018).

Returning to the Island

Front CoverEighteen months ago, I introduced many readers to Chincoteague Island, a place long-known and loved by many in the Mid-Atlantic area. The response to the award-winning novel was overwhelming, and I fell in love with the characters as much as my readers did. In less than a month, on June 15, the sequel to Island of Miracles will be released. In this darker story, we learn that promises are like castles made of sand…

Kayla believed Zach was the man to repair her heart and her family. Zach believed Kayla was the woman to repair his soul. But Zach’s secrets are too big, his guilt too heavy, for him to keep his promises. He needs to get out now before he causes Kayla more heartache than the young widow has already endured.

There’s nothing like a crisis to bring two people together, and suddenly, the idyllic island off the Mid-Atlantic coast has those in spades. A serial killer has found his way into paradise, bringing Zach’s former life close to home, and Kayla is facing a health scare that is every woman’s worse nightmare. Will the tragedies they face pull them apart or bring them closer to fulfilling their promises to each other?

It’s a race for time that pits the island against an unthinkable evil and Kayla against her own body. I’ve had a few people ask why this had to happen? Why turn a beautiful haven into a house of horror? The reasons are both complex and simple. Unfortunately, we live in a world where even the safest places–schools, hospitals, movie theaters, our homes–are no longer safe. We also live in a world where we are confronted, sometimes on a daily basis, by sins of the past. For Zach and Kayla, each trying to overcome the horrors of their past, life on island is ideal. Surrounded by friends and family, nothing can take away their happiness. But every one of us knows that happiness can be destroyed by demons that attack from both the inside and outside at the most unexpected times.

Of course, Island of Promise isn’t a horror story, and it isn’t a harrowing roller coaster of suspense. At its heart, it’s a story of community and family and the ties that bind them together, a story of a mother’s unfailing love for her children, a story of redemption, and a story of love conquering all. 

I hope this book serves as a reminder that the one thing we can always expect is the unexpected. Bad things happen, but good things can come of them if we choose to have faith in the promise of the future. As a visitor to the island says in chapter fifteen, “A glass is an empty vessel until you fill it with water, or coffee, or whiskey, or whatever else you want to put into it. And then it’s full, full of something life-giving. And that’s how I felt. Empty until I found something to fill me up….Find the thing that fills you up. And cherish it with all your heart.”

I welcome you all back to Chincoteague Island for the second installment in the Chincoteague Island Trilogy. I hope you’ll come on over and stay for a while. The ice cream is cold, the oysters are hot, and the community is holding its arms open for you.

The second book in Amy’s Chincoteague Island Trilogy, Island of Promise, is now available to pre-order.

What I was writing about this time last year:  Mothers, Daughters, and Memories

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines,  and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her latest children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available; and her novel, Summer’s Squall, can be found online and in stores. 

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschislerand at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017)

A Sneak Peek and A Promise for More

 

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A view of Chincoteague Island from the Assateague Lighthouse

Over the past year or two, I have fallen in love with a particular family. I’ve cried with them through their pain and heartache. I’ve celebrated with them in their times of joy. I’ve cheered for their accomplishments. And from what I’ve heard, others are falling in love with them, too. No, I’m not speaking about the Pearsons of This is Us fame, though I truly love them as well. I’m talking about the Middleton and Kelly families, and if you’ve read my award-winning novel, Island of Miracles, then you know exactly to whom I’m referring.

 

A couple nights ago, Ken and I shared a toast over dinner. He raised a bottle of beer to my glass of whiskey (which, in case you missed it, is the new healthy drink of our age). We toasted to the completion of the first draft of the next installment in the story of Kate, Aaron, Zach, and Kayla. While it’s far from being a fete accompli, as there are still revisions, additions, corrections, etc. to be done, this is the first time that I finished a first draft and felt like I could send it off to the publisher as is. And I think it’s because I have gotten to know the characters and their stories so intimately that it feels natural to hammer it out in print. The words simply flow fro my fingers onto the blank pages, effortlessly filling the spaces in no time at all.

And since I’m so excited about this first draft, I’d like to spread some of the excitement around by giving you a sneak peek into one of the chapters of Island of Promise. Read, comment, share, and let me know if you, too, feel my excitement. I can’t wait for this summer to be able to take you all back to Chincoteague Island, to the place where miracles happened for Kate and Aaron and where promises are made and broken and made again for Zach and Kayla. So, sit back, relax, and take a short trip to the island. I hope it leaves you wanting to come back for more.

As soon as they got home, Kayla instructed the boys to do their homework, and she went right to work in the kitchen. She stirred the pot pie filling and started putting together the dough. She lost herself in the task, making her signature dish without a recipe and without having to think about the ingredients or the steps. Kayla was on autopilot, and she loved it. She reveled in the feeling of the smooth pie crust as she kneaded it beneath her palms. She stirred the thick filling again, tasted it, added more seasoning, and then tasted it again. It was perfect, and she allowed herself to take pride in her work.

This was what she missed, what kept her grounded. She loved Second Helpings and didn’t want to have to give it up, but she didn’t love the hectic pace at which she had to cook the meals. By providing dinner for sometimes as many as five or six families each night, she had lost the passion for cooking. She had forgotten how it felt to let the seasonings slowly run through her fingers as she dropped them into the pan, to knead dough until it was smooth and shiny, to place a beautifully prepared dish on the table and watch everyone enjoy their meal. She thought that she could have all of that and share it with others, but now she saw that all she was doing was hurrying through the process in order to have everything ready for pick-up. She was cooking her beloved recipes but without the love.

Using her palm, Kayla slowly rolled the dough into two perfect balls, setting one aside, and flattening the other onto the counter. She was in a trance, unable to see anything beyond the pate brisee as she rolled it out to the perfect size for the round baking dish.

“Did you not get enough to eat at your mother’s?” Zach asked, his voice soft and low.

Kayla’s trance was broken. She slowly looked up at him, feeling as if she was awaking from a dream. A dream where she was doing her favorite thing, with Zach lazily watching her as he leaned against the doorjamb, a look of pure love and admiration on his face. She blushed, realizing that she was not dreaming, and that that was exactly how Zach was looking at her.

“I’m sorry,” she said, hoping the catch in her voice didn’t give away the rapidity of her pulse. “I didn’t know you were there.”

“I could tell. You looked… peaceful.” He pushed away from his stance against the wall and walked toward the island where she rolled the dough. He spread his hands apart and placed them on the hard surface, surveying her work.

“I was remembering how much I love to cook, especially when there’s a special reason.”

He cocked his head to the side. “And the special reason?”

“It’s for Justine and Hank. Anne organized a meal calendar. She asked if I would donate a gift card or have a pizza delivered.” Kayla shook her head and smiled. “She should have known better than that.”

“She should have. You’d never send someone a pizza.”

Kayla looked up and saw the humor in his expression. He was teasing her, and it sure felt better than him feeling sorry for her. So often these days, she felt like everyone was looking at her with pity or trepidation. She much preferred being teased.

“How’s Nick settling in?” she asked as she rolled the dough over the thick, marble rolling pin and lifted it to the baking dish. She gently set it down over the dish and unwrapped the dough so that it fit perfectly inside the hollow of the dish.

Zach watched her with appreciation, and it made Kayla feel good. She was in her element, and she knew it.

“So far, so good. He’s checking the listings in the paper, circling potential jobs, and coming up with his plan of attack.”

Kayla turned to stir the filling and watched Zach, from the corner of her eye, break a small piece of dough off from the second ball and pop it in his mouth.

“I saw that,” she said without turning around.

“Man, I forgot that all moms have eyes in the back of their heads.”

“We do,” she said as she returned to the island. She pressed the dough onto the counter, sprinkled flour over it, and began to roll it out. “So, what brings you over, other than to steal a piece of pie crust. You can’t be hungry after Mom’s Sunday spread.”

“You’d be surprised,” he said, moving behind her to enjoy a giant inhalation of the pie filling.

“Don’t touch that,” Kayla commanded as Zach picked up the spoon.

“How did you—”

“Eyes in the back of my head,” she reminded him. “You didn’t answer me.” She finished rolling out the top of the pot pie before returning to the stove and turning off the flame under the filling.

Zach watched as she poured the filling into the pie shell and proceeded to cover the top with the dough, using the same maneuver she had used to lay the bottom crust in the dish.

“I wanted to make sure you don’t need anything before tomorrow.”

“You asked me at mom’s if I was ready.” She crimped the edges of the crust and poked three holes in the top of the pie.

“That’s not the same,” he said, opening the oven for her.

After placing the pie in the oven, Kayla noted the time and began cleaning up her cooking tools.

“I suppose it’s not,” she said, turning toward him and resting her back against the kitchen sink. “I’m good. The boys need to pack for Dad’s, but otherwise, there’s not really anything to do.”

“And you’re still holding off on telling them what’s going on?”

“Until I have a diagnosis, there’s really nothing to tell.”

“So, the boys have to pack. What about you?” Kayla felt a chill run down her back as he looked at her with such intensity that she felt naked.

“I’m good,” she faltered. “There’s not much for me to do.”

“How about that dinner?” He gestured toward the oven. “Can I take it to Justine and Hank for you?”

Kayla looked at the oven and thought for a moment before shaking her head. “I want to take it and let them know that I’m thinking of them. But…” She hesitated and lowered her voice. “Maybe you could go with me? Under the circumstances, I’m not sure I want to go alone. Todd is very close to Henry and wants to go with me. I’m afraid it might be difficult. I don’t even want to imagine what they’re going through.” She shuddered and glanced toward the den where the boys did their homework.

“Of course, we’ll all go together. What about EJ?”

“Well, he’s going to fight us, but I don’t think I can leave him home alone. I know he’s old enough to stay by himself, but until we know what happened to Henry…”

“I understand. I’ll talk to him. He’s Todd’s big brother and can take some responsibility for looking out for his little brother. Don’t you think?”

Kayla knew exactly where he was going with that and agreed wholeheartedly. If EJ thought he was helping his mom and being given the responsibility to look out for Todd, he’d take the task very seriously.

“Perfect,” she said. “The pot pie will be ready in about forty-five minutes. Should we meet at the truck, or would you prefer we take my car?”

“The truck is fine. I’ll talk to EJ and then go let Nick know what’s up.”

Kayla watched him go and let out a breath. As much as she hated to admit it, having Zach in her life felt a lot better than not having him around at all. But she knew better than to put her trust in him. He was still holding something back, and she needed assurance that they could count on him to be there when it matters. With her impending diagnosis and Henry’s disappearance, she realized all the more that you never know what the future will hold or if there will be a future at all.

Are you looking for a new way to meditate on the Stations of the Cross this Lent? If so, check out the newly revised edition of Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms. You can download the ebook version today!

What I was writing about this time last year:  Not a Thing Could Come Between Them

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and sweet, faith-filled romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me, Whispering Vines,  and Island of Miracles are all recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top inspirational fiction books of 2015, 2016, and 2017. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016.  Island of Miracles has outsold all of Amy’s other books worldwide and ranked as high as 600 on Amazon. Her latest children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available; and her novel, Summer’s Squall, can be found online and in stores.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschislerand at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017)

All I Want for Christmas…

Our alarm clock sounded at 4am Monday morning. For the third day in a row, in a string of many days to come, my husband rose early to go to his parents’ house to be there before his father woke up. Needing round the clock care now, his father can’t be left alone, and Ken’s mother can’t do it by herself. There’s only so much time his sister can take off, and his brother lives in another state. So, I set the clock Sunday night, kissed Ken goodbye Monday morning, and watched him leave the room, his shoulders slumped, his heart heavy.

A few hours later, I was on the way home from the gym when I heard the news that a bomb had been detonated on or near a New Jersey transit train at a station in NYC. I immediately stopped the car and texted my dear friend, George, a daily traveler on the NJT into NYC. Thank Heaven, the train was at another station, and he was safe. To say I was relieved is an understatement. I don’t think I can take more bad news. Between our family’s daily struggles, a number of sick and dying parents among the friends in our group this holiday season, a  cousin’s house burning down over the weekend, the never-ending news cycle of lying, corruption, and perverseness, as well as the threats to peace on earth, I’ve had enough of bad news. Haven’t we all?

hallmark_channel_christmas-620x412A little while later, when I sat down to work, an article in the Washington Post caught my eye. Titled, We can’t take any more of 2017, so we’ve turned to the Hallmark Channel in desperation, the article had me hooked. Though we don’t have cable, I’ve been stalking YouTube for Hallmark Christmas movies. I’ve been through every sweet Christmas movie on Amazon and Netflix, and I can’t get enough to satisfy my craving. I admit, I’ve always been a sweet movie fanatic, a Hallmark fan to the end. I tried paying for Hallmark Movies Now but found it a waste of money at Christmas time because it contains only a handful of holiday movies, and they’re all old. Not fair, Hallmark, not fair. I’d pay good money to have access to what’s on their channel without having to have cable. Do you hear that, Hallmark?

Anyway, back to the article. I think I speak for the masses when I say, we are ready for good news, sweet romance, and happy endings. And though these movies aren’t usually Christ-centered, they do offer those three things (my good friend and fellow blogger, Anne Kennedy, wrote a great blog that pretty much sums up the standard Hallmark Christmas movie plot).

Sweet RomanceWe all need hope and goodness in our lives.  Luckily, there are many of us out there, aside from Hallmark, working very hard to provide just that. There’s a whole category of fiction that is Clean and Wholesome Romance, or as it’s more commonly known, Sweet Romance. Sex, if any, is behind closed doors, foul language is kept to a minimum or nonexistent, and deaths, even murders, are not graphically depicted; yet the couple still finds their way to happily ever after.

I find it no coincidence that, just twelve days before Christmas, today’s Gospel reading is from Matthew 11:28-30:

Jesus said to the crowds:
“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened,
and I will give you rest.
Take my yoke upon you and learn from me,
for I am meek and humble of heart;
and you will find rest for yourselves.
For my yoke is easy, and my burden light.”

It’s crunch time. We’re all trying to keep our heads above water, and we all have things going on in our lives, but then we have this great reminder that no matter what’s going on, Jesus is there. He is not only the reason for the season, He is our hope, our counsel, our way to peace. Whether He’s acknowledged by the Hallmark Channel or not, He is there.

So, the next time you’ve had it with the news, or even with your own personal life, know that there is a place to where you can escape. And when you’ve run out of movies to watch on Hallmark, look for a clean and wholesome romance novel. And above all, look toward Heaven. There may never be a time without troubles or peace on Earth, but there is peace to come – a real-life happily ever after. I know a happy ending is all our family wants for Christmas this year. I’m pretty sure we’re not alone.

What I was writing about this time last year:  Lighting the Way This Christmas

9780692946176Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and sweet romance novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy followed up her success with, Island of Miracles, which has outsold all of her other books worldwide and ranked as high 600 on Amazon. Her next children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available. Amy’s novel, Summer’s Squall, is now on sale.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschislerand at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017)

 

Summer in December

My book, Summer’s Squall, is being featured on several blogs this week. Here’s what the bloggers are sharing with their readers.

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Do you like winter? There are a lot of people who don’t. Just remember, summer is coming. Yes, it’s about seven months away, but we can still celebrate it. And today, Amy Schliser is on the blog telling us all about her new book, Summer’s Squall.

About the Book

9780692946176Summer’s Squall, begins in Baltimore where Baltimore City Police Detective, Abe (Lank) Lankton, assumes he’ll be helping his cousin solve a minor problem when she calls and asks him to fly west. When he learns that he’s been called out there to aid in capturing an elusive stalker, his first instinct is go straight back to Maryland. However, when he meets the alluring victim, Summer Cooper, all bets are off. With his future, and his own life, in jeopardy, Lank must choose between going back to the life he knows in America’s Charm City or staying out west to help Summer. But Lank’s not sure that Summer is all that she claims to be or that the stalker even exists. One thing he knows for sure, Summer is guilty… of stealing his heart. Summer’s Squall is published by Chesapeake Sunrise Publishing and will be available in local book stores. It may be ordered through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, and most other online sellers.

About the Author

Picture2Award-winning author, Amy MacWilliams Schisler, grew up in Maryland, not far from Washington, DC. She graduated from Salisbury University with a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Political Science and from the University of Maryland with a Masters of Library and Information Science. Amy began writing as a child and spent fifteen years working as a librarian, a job she dearly loved, before becoming a full-time author. Her debut book was the beloved children’s book, Crabbing With Granddad, an autobiographical book about spending the day with her grandfather that is used throughout the state of Maryland as part of its Maryland history unit. Amy’s first novel, A Place to Call Home, was published in 2014 by Sarah Book Publishing. Her books, Picture Me and Whispering Vines, received 2016 and 2017 Illumination Book Awards, which recognize the best Christian themed books published both in the traditional book form as well as the ebook industry. Whispering Vines received a 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. She followed up her success with the acclaimed, Island of Miracles in 2017. Amy’s weekly blog currently has over 1000 subscribers, and topics vary from current events to her home life with her husband, Ken, and their three daughters, Rebecca, Katie, and Morgan as well as their two dogs, Rosie and Misty.

Schisler delights in speaking to groups, and more information may be found at her website: http://www.amyschislerauthor.com.

You may follow Amy online at the following places:

http://amyschislerauthor.com

https://amyschisler.wordpress.com

http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor

https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/amy-schisler

Twitter @AmySchislerAuth

Giveaway

Picture3Amy is generously giving one lucky person two signed paperbacks. One copy is for you and the other for your friend. You can enter here: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/9912248026/

Tour Schedule

December 4

Bookish Orchestrations – Intro Post

December 5

Lisa Swinton – Queen of Random – Book Spotlight

Letters from Annie Douglass Lima – Book Spotlight

Rachel Rossano’s Words – Book Spotlight

December 6

Rebekah Lyn Books – Book Spotlight

Amy Schisler, Author – Book Spotlight

December 7

Among the Reads – Book Spotlight

December 8

Adventures in Publishing – Book Spotlight

December 9

Bookish Orchestrations – Giveaway winner

Excerpt

Lank stood at the back door and watched the lightning. The mountains were invisible, shrouded in black from the ground to the heavens. Each bolt of lightning illuminated the sky with an iridescent glow that gave clear understanding of the term, electric blue.

“This is spectacular,” Lank said.

“It is pretty incredible,” Summer agreed. It was the first time they had been seen each other in forty-eight hours, and Lank couldn’t help but see the irony of them being together during a lightning storm. Every time he thought about her lately, he felt like he’d been hit by a bolt out of the blue.

Another strike hit a distant mountain with offshoots of light emanating from the bolt like the long, spindly branches of a tall, pine tree.

“The lightning is seriously intense,” Lank said, feeling like a kid mesmerized by his first storm.

“And dangerous. One strike to a dry, dead tree can start a fire that would spread for miles and lay waste to everything in its path.”

Lank marveled once again with his new appreciation for nature. “I guess that’s something I’ve never given a thought to. Forest fires are pretty non-existent on the east coast.”

“And pretty common out here. We had one about seven or eight years ago that spread all the way up to the base of the San Juan’s. You could see the haze and smell the smoke even with the doors and windows closed.”

Lank was speechless. He’d never seen such a beautiful storm, and it was hard to reconcile that with the destruction that he knew a forest fire could create. He turned to Summer.

“Why do you stay up here? So far from civilization? With bears and mountain lions and lightning that could burn down your house? Why, with everything you’ve gone through over the past couple months, do you stay in this house, on this mountain, alone?”

Summer looked at Lank and then turned back to the light show. She fiddled with the cross dangling below her throat as she watched the light flash across the sky. When she finally spoke, her voice was low, and her gaze was fixed on the black horizon with its intermittent blue light.

“Once, when I was younger, my parents took us to Disney World. It was a dream come true for me. Even Johnny, who acted like it was a stupid trip for his baby sister, had the time of his life. We went to all the parks, rode all the rides, watched the shows, and had our pictures taken with every Disney character imaginable.”

Lank watched her as she spoke. Her red hair hung loose around her shoulders, and the occasional flash of light made her eyes even greener than usual. She was the most beautiful sight he had seen since he’d arrived in Colorado. He watched her lips curve into a smile as she remembered her family trip.

“One night, we went to see Fantasmic, the light and water show. Have you seen it?” She turned and looked at Lank who shook his head, too awestruck by her to speak.

“It was this amazing show of lights and lasers and water spouts. But as I watched it, all I could think about was that it was made up. It was a technological wonder of grand proportions, but it was a show.” She turned back to Mother Nature’s show outside the window. “This,” she said as she gestured to the sky, “this is the real deal. This is a light show of epic proportions that Walt Disney could only dream of portraying with his fancy lights and music.”

Summer turned to Lank and smiled. “I wake up every morning with a heavenly masterpiece painted across the sky outside my window. I drive to work amid the majesty of the most beautiful mountains in the world. I see God’s version of a magical light show every time we have a storm. If I’m lucky, Black and I can spot a bobcat or a mother bear and cubs up on one of our rides. I walked through Cinderella’s castle, rode the Matterhorn, watched Fantasmic, and met creatures of all kinds in their costumes and wigs, but I never once saw anything that compares to what I have on top of this mountain.”

Without thinking, Lank reached up and tucked the stray lock of hair behind her ear. He felt Summer catch her breath at his touch. His hand lingered near her face before he gently touched her cheek and let his finger trail down her face.

“I’ve never seen anything as beautiful as what’s standing in front of me at this moment,” Lank said quietly as he lightly caressed her cheek with the back of his fingers.

“Lank, I,” Summer began to speak, but Lank put his finger on her lips.

“Shh,” he whispered. “You don’t have to say anything. I think you know how I feel, but I don’t think you know how you feel. Not yet.” He felt her shiver and saw the relief in her eyes. It was all he could do not to take her into his arms.

“As far as I’m concerned, I’m here on business. God help me, I might not sleep a wink waiting for you to decide what you want, but once you can see clearly and choose me for who I am and not what I can do to save you; once you’re no longer the damsel in distress but the strong woman I believe you to be, then I’ll be here.”

Lank leaned down and placed a soft, gentle kiss on her lips before backing away and heading upstairs to the room next door to hers. He had made up his mind, right or wrong. Summer was the only woman who had ever made him feel this way – focused yet confused, secure yet unsteady, manly yet like a child in need. He was too far gone to turn back now.

What I was writing about one year ago this week:

How Do You Measure A Year?

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages. She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her books, Picture Me and Whispering Vines, are recipients of Illumination Awards, placing them among the top three inspirational fiction books of 2015 and 2016. Whispering Vines was awarded the 2017 LYRA Award for the best romance of 2016. Amy followed up her success with, Island of Miracles, which has outsold all of her other books worldwide and ranked as high 600 on Amazon. Her next children’s book, The Greatest Gift, is now available. Amy’s novel, Summer’s Squall, is now on sale.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor, Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschislerand at http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books: Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016), Island of Miracles (2017), Stations of the Cross Meditations for Moms (2017), The Greatest Gift (2017), Summer’s Squall (2017)

 

 

 

To All of the Muses in My Life

IMG_1118I was blindsided last night by the outpouring of love and support that I received from so many people.  I held a launch party for my newest release, Whispering Vines, available today in print and ebook.  The large reception room at Scossa’s Restaurant and Lounge was standing room only with friends, family, fellow writers, and even strangers who all came to purchase my new book.  By the end of the event, I was completely sold out of that book and had sold numerous copies of my earlier books.  It was an evening I will never forget.

I often hear it said that the life of a writer is lonely and depressing.  Many writers spend their days in isolation, writing at home, locked away from the world.  Many of the world’s greatest authors lived painful lives of solitude, often turning to drugs or alcohol, with many committing suicide.  I’ve never been able to reconcile that type of existence with my own life.  I’ve been asked many times how I find time to write, and I’ve had several people tell me that I have to slow down, stop volunteering, and curb my social life and family trips.  It seems that now that I am an author, I am expected to close myself off from the world and spend twenty-four hours a day with my fingertips glued to the keys of my laptop.  Last night was a reaffirmation that becoming a hermit is the last thing I should do.

I thrive on relationships.  The more time I can spend with my family, the better. The times I’m able to sneak away with friends are blessings. Everyday interactions with other school parents and volunteers are essential to my well-being.  Leading a week-long volunteer camp is crucial for my happiness and feeling of self-worth.  And it’s from these many people and moments that I find my inspiration.  Most of my characters are based on people I know.  All of the settings are based on places I have visited.  And the storylines are always inspired by experiences I’ve had or stories I’ve heard from others.  Where would I be, where would my writing be, if I didn’t have such a strong connection to other people?

So I would like to thank everyone who has supported my writing, all of those who have bought my books, those who were at the party last night, and every person who has touched my life in some way.  You are all my inspiration, my muses.  They are your faces that I see when I am describing characters, your homes and your families.  They are our conversations that I recreate, and it is your friendship and love that resonates in the stories that I tell.  The success of my writing can be contributed to every one of you, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her latest book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her latest book, Whispering Vines, is now available for purchase.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books:  Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015), Whispering Vines (2016)

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Embracing the Romance

imageI’ve been running from it, kicking it away, fighting to hide it, and just plain old denying it; and now I’m coming out into the open to admit it.  I write romance novels.  To be honest, I hate genres.  I hate being labeled as any kind of author because I write what I write, whatever strikes my fancy, whatever my characters want the manuscript to become.  I have never intended to write a romance.  I once asked romance novelist Robyn Carr where she thinks I belong.  She didn’t hesitate, “You’re a romance writer.”  I could barely fake the smile that I returned to her as she beamed proudly at her proclamation.  “No, I’m not,” I wanted to scream to the room full of writers and fans.  I write children’s books, mysteries, suspense novels, and a blog.  I DO NOT write romance.  At least, that’s what I’ve always told myself.  Alas, here’s the truth: I DO write romance.  And here’s why…

  1. I like romance.  I like the happily ever after.  I like that when someone finishes my book, they are going to be crying happy tears because, as my editor said about my newest novel, Whispering Vines, “the book ended as it should.”  I like to put down a book feeling as though everything is right with the world, even if it’s just that little, contrived world of someone’s imagination.
  2. I love the romance community.  I belong to several writers’ associations.  None of them is as welcoming, supportive, charitable, and helpful as the romance groups I belong to.  I ask for reviewers, and they jump at the chance to read my books.  I ask for advice, and fifty people chime in to help.  Who wouldn’t want to be a part of a great community like that?  And don’t get me started on how devoted the fans are.  They’re the best!
  3. The sky is the limit.  While I really do not like labels, I have come to realize that, as a romance writer, one can really bypass labels or accept all labels as possibilities.  You see, as a non-romance fiction writer, I have several genres of choice: mystery/suspense, contemporary, historical, real-life crime, and so on.  But as a romance writer, I can have my cake and eat it, too!  I can write a mystery, then a sweet love story, then a historical romance, then a children’s fairy tale.  And there’s still more.  Again, the sky is the limit.
  4. Romance sells.  According to the Atlantic Monthly, romance sales “far outperform other genres of literature, including religious/inspirational books, mystery novels, science fiction and classic literary fiction.”  I guarantee that every person reading this knows a romance novel connoisseur (or is one herself).  You don’t?  Guess again.  They may be reading romance in bed after dark when nobody else sees it, but they’re reading it.
  5. It’s fun and satisfying.  Sure, I enjoy an accurate historical account, and they often help me sleep at night (or rather, fall asleep).  And a good thriller can be a real page turner.  But when it comes down to it, the books that keep me reading are the ones that give me something to root for.  Will Ella overcome her horrible curse and find true happiness with Prince Charmont?  Will Mr Darcy stop being an arrogant jerk long enough to see that he desperately needs Elizabeth in his life?  Will Scarlett ever see past her own selfishness and realize that all Rhett really wants in life is her?  These are questions that we must know the answers to!  And when that happily ever after comes (or the promise that “tomorrow is another day”), we are satisfied.  It leaves us with that glowing feeling that somehow, everything can turn out fine no matter what obstacles one must face even if we have to imagine that tomorrow, it all works out for the best.
  6. It doesn’t have to be about sex.  There is a big push today for books with explicit sex, but not all romance is written for people without imaginations.  While an honest, loving, uplifting scene of intimacy is just fine when appropriate, a good novel doesn’t have to include play by play sex scenes.  If the story can hold its own, it doesn’t need gratuitousness to keep readers interested.
  7. There’s already enough hate in the world.  Don’t we get tired of seeing bad things happen every time we turn on the news?  Must all television shows these days be built around the presence of evil?  Sure, bad things happen.  Even in romance novels.  There has to be some kind of roadblock to happiness, tragic flaws that the hero or heroine must rise above, perhaps even a bad guy wreaking havoc on the characters’ lives.  But in the end, romances all have one thing in common – the happily ever after.  And isn’t that what we all want out of life?  To live happily ever after?
  8. There’s always a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.  There are storms in life.  We’ve all faced them.  And it’s nice to have a reminder that if we stick around, put in some effort, and dare to take chances, not only can we weather the storm, we can see the rainbow and rejoice as the sun clears.
  9. A good man is hard to find.  Flannery O’Conner was right.  But in romance novels, even the bad boys are tamed by the love of a good woman.  Isn’t that why every girl has a fling with a rebel or someone from the wrong side of the tracks?  Don’t we all want to fall in love with Pony Boy?  Okay, that’s not a romance, but you get the point.  Does Sandra Brown have any male leads who aren’t brooding rebels obsessing over something in their past?  And don’t they always turn out to be the perfect man in the end?
  10. Because, in the end, love is all that matters.  Even St. Paul the Evangelist knew that.  Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”              Corinthians, 13:6-7

Who wouldn’t want to contribute all of that to the world?  So I write romance.  And I say, ain’t love grand?

Amy Schisler is an award winning author of both children’s books and novels for readers of all ages.  She lives with her husband and three daughters on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her latest book, Picture Me, is the recipient of an Illumination Award, placing it among the top three eBooks of 2015. Her next book, Whispering Vines, is now available for pre-order.

You may follow Amy on Facebook at http://facebook.com/amyschislerauthor on Twitter @AmySchislerAuth, on Goodreads at https://www.goodreads.com/amyschisler and on her web site http://amyschislerauthor.com.

Amy’s books:  Crabbing With Granddad (2013), A Place to Call Home (2014), Picture Me (2015)

Receive Amy’s Newsletter for News about Books and Events