In Sara’s Surprise, her boss abuses her in lots of ways, as was all-too common in 1873. Women had no recourse and often feared they’d be blamed and dismissed from their jobs, so they kept silent. Back then, women were often devalued and unappreciated, under paid and treated poorly. And men took advantage of the cultural norms of the day.
As a single mom in the early 1990s, I was treated poorly too, and I regret that I was afraid to speak up and expose the nasty man who threatened, teased, and tormented me. As a leader in the organization, that should never have occurred, but it did. Thankfully, today’s climate is more open to reporting such abuse.
Have you ever been harassed by an employer? I have, and it’s pretty traumatizing. In this “Me Too” movement, lots of women are speaking up about their trials and tribulations in the workplace, so I decided to explore the topic from several angles. But in the midst of Sara’s trials, she falls in love and learns a lot about the art of baking French pastries.
In researching how to make pastries that’ll delight your palate, I learned way more than I’d ever dreamed. Like how to properly break an egg and how to cream sugar and eggs the right way. And did you know that you laminate Pain au chocolat? There’s much to learn about French baking, to be sure.
Want to know more about Sara’s Surprise? Here’s the back cover copy:
Sara O’Neill, works as an assistant pastry chef at the magnificent Thousand Islands Crossmon Hotel where she meets precocious, lovable, seven-year-old Madison and her charming father and hotel manager, Sean Graham. But Jacque LaFleur, the pastry chef Sara works under, makes her dream job a nightmare.
Sean Graham has trouble keeping his mind off Sara and Madison out of mischief. Though he finds Sara captivating, he despises LaFleur and misreads Sara’s desire to learn from the pastry chef as affection. Can Sean learn to trust Sara and can she trust herself to be an instant mother?
I hope you’ll pick up a copy and give some for Christmas gifts as it’s a lovely Christmas story as well. And if you ever get harassed, please speak up. You’ll be glad you did.
Susan G Mathis is a multi-published author of stories set in the beautiful Thousand Islands, her childhood stomping ground in upstate NY. Katelyn’s Choice, the first in The Thousand Islands Gilded Age series, is available now, and book two, Devyn’s Dilemma, releases in April, 2020. The Fabric of Hope: An Irish Family Legacy, Christmas Charity, and Sara’s Surprise are available now. Visit www.SusanGMathis.com for more.
Susan is also a published author of two premarital books with her husband, Dale, two children's picture books, stories in a dozen compilations, and hundreds of published articles. Susan makes her home in Colorado Springs, enjoys traveling globally with her wonderful husband, Dale, and relishes each time she gets to see or Skype with her four granddaughters.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Susan G Mathis
author of a thousand stories including Katelyn's Choice, Christmas Charity, and The Fabric of Hope
vice president of Christian Author Network (CAN)
Many thanks to Adam for stopping by.
Tell our readers a little about your writing journey.
I’ve loved to write stories since I was a kid and studied novel writing in college. I completed five unpublished novels, mostly for youth, before I began Fatal Illusions, my first published novel, in the spring of 2002 in conjunction with a Writer's Digest correspondence course on novel writing. In January 2006, literary agent Steve Laube, a well-known and respected voice in Christian fiction, responded enthusiastically to my book proposal and asked to see the entire manuscript. Of course, I was on cloud nine. Though he ultimately declined to represent me, he kindly gave me eight suggestions on how to make the novel publishable.
Energized, I followed his advice and got to work, but I still couldn't find an agent or publisher. A year later, I contacted Kregel Publications, not about my novel but about opportunities to edit books from home. The managing editor noticed on my resume that I had written several unpublished novels and asked to see my latest project. Kregel accepted it for publication in August 2007. God opened a door I never could have opened for myself.
What is your latest published project?
Kill Order, my third novel, is being released on August 15 by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Here is a short description:
When he sleeps, the forgotten terrors of the past come alive.
Grammy-winning pianist Landon Jeffers’s brain cancer has given him only a few years to live. But when he sleeps, the forgotten terrors of his past torment him. When he wakes, shameful memories come rushing back. Desperate for answers, Jeffers discovers that a brain implant intended to teat his cancer is really a device to control him, forcing him to commit terrible crimes. Now he’s being manipulated by an evil crime syndicate and a crooked cop.
What if free will isn’t? What if your every move is predestined? If you kill, are you guilty of murder?
What inspired you to write your book?
My dad, Larry, passed away from brain cancer in 2011, and several aspects of his cancer journey kicked off the initial story idea. One key detail involved a medical procedure; the doctors agreed to remove as much of my dad’s brain tumor as possible and replace it with medicinal wafers intended to fight the existing cancer. My mind began playing the what-if game. What if the doctor implanted something else, something that could monitor or even control my dad’s life? The story’s premise grew from there.
When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?
When I was a child, I began writing wildly imaginative pirate and fantasy stories. My first handwritten story was a fantastical tale about Captain Kidd’s spyglass. In high school, I also wrote and finished an unpublished novel called Down with the Ship. It’s such an Agatha Christie copycat that I laugh whenever I peruse it, but emulation is how a lot of authors get to be where they are today. Those were the early projects that inspired me to take novel writing seriously. When I won a high school award for creative writing, I wondered if God wanted to do more with my love for fiction. In college I won more writing awards, and though I studied journalism, I took as many creative writing courses as possible. God opened doors from there, and I’ve never lost my love for fiction writing.
Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?
Isaiah 41:10 says,
"Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my
righteous right hand." (ESV)
I've always loved this verse, and my wife and I included it in our wedding ceremony.
If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?
Writing the story is only half of the project. The other half is finding out what readers like to read, crafting the story for them by following publishing standards, and writing the story to the best of your ability. Then remember that publishers can take a very long to decide whether they want your work. Don’t get discouraged. Just keep going and waiting.
What is your favorite genre to read for fun?
Authors write what they like to read. When I was a kid, I devoured Hardy Boys books—yes, even my sister’s collection of Nancy Drew. I read Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Terry Brooks, Ray Bradbury, and Madeleine L’Engle. Eventually I gravitated to suspense fiction by authors like Frank Peretti, Terri Blackstock, and Mary Higgins Clark. I grew weary of whodunits and preferred suspense novels. I like novels that grab me around the throat, keep the pages turning, and never let go until the final period. Suspense novels filled with plenty of action and conflict captivate me like no other books I read, though I also have a fondness for good literature as well as for fantasy, history, biography, true crime, and science fiction.
Where is your favorite place to write?
I have been blessed with a wonderful home office. Though I often like to write in other locations, this is by far my favorite place. I can close the door, shut out life’s distractions, pray, and become immersed in my story. Now and then, if I need a break, I can glance out the window and delight in God’s creation.
What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?
I’m currently enjoying Mind Games by Nancy Mehl. I especially enjoy a good thriller, whether Christian or secular. Some of my favorite authors are Steven James, Terri Blackstock, Frank Peretti, Ted Dekker, and Brandilyn Collins. I like how they weave story threads together and craft their scenes in ways that keeps the plot moving forward. Their books are great examples of what works in suspense writing. I learn so much simply by reading their novels.
What is the best part of your author’s life?
I love hearing from readers who went to work tired because they stayed up too late finishing one of my novels. If I kept them immersed in my story, that’s a score in my book.
What’s one unusual fact about you?
When I was a kid, for a while I wanted to be a ventriloquist and had a “dummy” named Andy. But then I got braces and could no longer talk through my teeth like I used to. Andy sadly went into storage.
Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.
1. The amount of time each book requires from start to finish. Included in this is the long wait time from publishers.
2. The continually changing rules in writing and publishing. Just when you think you know what publishers are looking for, your agent tells you something else.
3. Book marketing. One cannot guarantee sales. I wish a book release was like the movie Field of Dreams. “Build it, and they will come.” If only it were that easy. There is almost an equal amount of work in just promoting the book.
On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?
I get most excited about the creative process when a plot development I never saw coming unexpectedly presents itself, taking the story in a new but stronger direction. This epiphany has happened to me several times.
Thank you for the opportunity to talk about my writing life at your blog.
Thank you, Adam, for stopping by. Congratulations on your latest publication: Kill Order.
Adam Blumer is the author of three Christian suspense novels: Fatal Illusions(Meaningful Suspense Press); its sequel, The Tenth Plague(Kirkdale Press); and the upcoming Kill Order(Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). A print journalism major in college, he works full-time from home as a book editor after serving in editorial roles for more than twenty years. He lives in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula with his wife, Kim, and his daughters, Laura and Julia.
Social media links:
How it all came together
Hope Bolinger started writing novels at CVCA ( Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy ) her junior year, and attempted to break into the publishing industry by her senior year. She quickly learned how difficult it was to land a literary agent or a book deal and self-published her first novel Unmasked before she graduated CVCA.
She left to pursue a professional writing degree at Taylor University where she published more than 300 works (short stories, articles, poems, etc.), but she still wanted to pursue her dream of getting a novel published.
While sitting in a Gen-Ed Old Testament class, the professor commented on an ancient text from Babylon known as the Book of Daniel: “Daniel and his friends would’ve been 15 or 16 when they were taken into Babylon captivity to start their three year education.”
Wow. That sounds like high school, Hope thought. And they stood strong, even when the King tried to kill them for not conforming. Thus, the idea for Blaze was born.
She met with a publisher at the Maranatha Writer’s Conference and pitched the book she’d completed in summer of 2017. They reviewed it, sent back several edits, and eventually offered a deal.
Blaze comes out June 2019, and is available for preorder until June 3rd.
“Vivid. The perfect picture of the adolescent human condition that both entertains and empowers.” - A. R. Conti Fulwell, author of An Angel in the Distance
Blaze peels back the curtains of our world’s desires, and reveals the beasts lurking behind. Packed with relevant topics and worldview, the book draws readers into a white-knuckle adventure where anything can happen—and anything can go wrong. Hope Bolinger delivers a fiery page-turner perfect for students and pyromaniacs, and shows what happens when we’re called into the lions’ den. - Caroline George, author of The Vestige
"Hope Bolinger is a fresh new voice in compelling YA fiction that's not to be missed!" Bestselling Author, Michele Barrow-Belisle
If you can't stand the heat, don't walk into the fire.
Danny knew his sophomore year would be stressful . . . but he didn’t expect his school to burn down on the first day.
To make matters worse (and they were about to get a lot worse), he — and his three best friends — receive an email in their inboxes from the principal of their rival, King’s Academy, offering full-rides to attend the town's prestigious boarding school. Danny wants nothing to do with King’s Academy and says no. Of course his mother says yes. So off he goes to be bullied and picked on for not being part of the popular and rich "in crowd."
From day one at King’s, Danny encounters hazing, mocking insults from girls at the "popular and pretty" table, and cafeteria food that, for such a prestigious school, tastes as if it were purchased from a military surplus supply warehouse. If he survives, Danny will have to overcome his fears of failure, rejection, and loneliness—all while standing strong in his beliefs and walking into the fire.
Hope Bolinger is a literary agent at C.Y.L.E. ( Cyle Young Literary Elite ) and a recent graduate of Taylor University's professional writing program. More than 300 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer's Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her column "Hope's Hacks," tips and tricks to avoid writer's block, reaches 2,700+ readers weekly and is featured monthly on Cyle Young's blog, which receives 63,000+ monthly hits. She is excited for her modern-day Daniel "Blaze" to come out with IlluminateYA (an imprint of Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). She enjoys all things theater, cats, and fire.
Preorder Link: https://www.amazon.com/Blaze-Hope-Bolinger-ebook/dp/B07Q44JDNQ/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=hope+bolinger+blaze&qid=1554054306&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull
Release Date: 6/3/2019
Blaze is available for preorder here: https://www.amazon.com/Blaze-Hope-Bolinger-ebook/dp/B07Q44JDNQ/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=blaze+hope+bolinger&qid=1554160236&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull
Pinterest Board: https://www.pinterest.com/hopebolinger/den-novel/
Spotify Playlist: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/4kXdjZSHqf09ooHU10dMjf
Webpage and game: https://www.hopebolinger.com/blaze
Amazon Buy Link: https://www.amazon.com/Blaze-Hope-Bolinger-ebook/dp/B07Q44JDNQ/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=hope+bolinger+blaze&qid=1554390640&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull
Hope talks about Blaze:
One usually wouldn’t think that the Book of Daniel could fit into a high school.
I didn’t, until a revelation hit me in the middle of an Old Testament class, my freshmen year of college.
Daniel, and his friends, mere teenagers at the time, had been stolen from Israel and taken into Babylonian captivity. There, they entered a three-year education where the King and his men attempted to stamp out any semblance of their prior culture.
But they stood strong anyway, and still managed to excel in everything they did.
Sounded like American high school.
I decided to take the idea and run with it. Blaze, a boarding school drama meets arson, comes directly from Daniel 1-3. The captivity all the way up to the fiery furnace.
Hope talks about a Tough Time in My Life:
Having recently graduated from college, I have entered a state of limbo. I applied to 120 jobs and only, in the past two days, heard back that one had interest. My parents had both split last year, and each is already married to another significant other or will be by the tenth of this month. I thought I’d meet the man God had called to be my husband in college, but after going on dates with dozens at Taylor University, and seriously dating a few, I have no prospects in that arena for the time being.
There’s a lot of limbo and waiting, but through it all, I’ve seen God.
Even in the pain of the divorce, I’ve met some wonderful new family members. Even in the frustration of the job search, I had more time to spend with folks I hadn’t seen because I was in Indiana for four years.
God’s taught me patience during this limbo period. He’s taught me to wait on Him, and I can’t wait to see how He’s been working behind the scenes.
Hope's Encouragement for Writers
Although writers may not be waiting for their significant other (maybe mine forgot his GPS and is just lost), they do experience a lot of times of waiting and limbo.
If you’ve entered that, fret not. The world of publishing works a lot like Stop and the Go Very Fast and the Stop Again. Authors who I represent who have more than 100 titles published still have to wait long periods of time.
Take a deep breath, and keep going. It’ll be worth it. God’s got this.
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