Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Olympia Finalists!

by Michelle Massaro

Hello, hello! Today is a big day!

I am very excited to announce this year’s Olympia Finalists!! Please congratulate:

*Kelly Goshorn
*Madelyn Herbert
*Mary Vaitkevicius-Vee

All three authors’ entries will go to our Round 3 judges: Karen Ball, Becky Philpott, and Becky Wade (links below)

The winner will be announced on April 8th!  But in the meantime, I had a little Q & A with our finalists:

Q: What genre and how long have you been writing? 

I write YA mystery/adventure/with droplets of speculative fiction. I have been writing for ten years flittering from one genre flower to another. Last year I landed on a mystery flower and tasted the sweet nectar of the genre. It has become my intrigue and stay.

A Farewell, Mrs. Wheatley is a historical fiction novel that was developed out of my undergraduate thesis on Phillis Wheatley.  My writing today finds its roots in everything that I have read.  Growing up, I would sleep with books under my pillow and my Mom and I would spend hours at the library. (We even discovered that a library card has a 100 book limit.)  As a college student, I was an English Major with a literary emphasis.  I gained exposure to the classics while learning how to understand the analytical and critical aspects of reading.  When I started my Master’s program in Creative Writing, I had a strong foundation that allowed me to explore writing that reflects literary knowledge.

Ever since Laura Ingalls peered into Almanzo Wilder’s eyes and called him “Manly”, I’ve been a pushover for historical romances. But, believe it or not, I wasn’t much of a reader until my sister introduced me to Janette Oke’s, Love Comes Softly. It’s been a love affair ever since.
So many writers say they’ve wanted to write since they were a child. That is not my story. I have always enjoyed writing, but not even in the deep recesses of my mind, did I ever aspire to be an author. In fact, my only experience was writing research papers for my history classes in college and graduate school. My youngest son enjoys writing and he inspired me to tinker around with writing fiction. It didn’t take long for the “bug” to bite. I’ve been earnestly writing historical romance for a little more than two years.

Q: What does Finaling in the Olympia mean to you? 

Where would any writer be without readers? That’s who we write for. We long for someone to step into our story world, fall in love with our characters, and take their journey with us. Having people who love inspirational fiction as much as I do say they enjoyed my story is a tremendous blessing. I pray daily that God would inspire me to write stories that encourage and entertain others, while glorifying Him.

Finaling in the Olympia contest is like receiving a hug from God. I am humbled and encouraged beyond my wildest imagination.

Being a finalist in the Olympia is very motivating as a writer.  So often, as writers, we discredit our own work.  We find reasons to push it aside and discard it before we even give it a chance to succeed. We tell ourselves that we are not qualified to write.  But finaling in the Olympia reminds me that writing is a calling.  Writing is a vocation. God has given writers the gift of words.  I look forward to responding to God’s calling.

Q: What advice would you give other unpublished authors out there?

If you mom likes your work – believe her! Every writer needs someone to hold them accountable and to provide motivation.  For me, that is my mom.  I have been ready to push A Farewell, Mrs. Wheatley aside many times and not finish. But what keeps me going is her honest feedback after each round of revisions. This manuscript would not have been written if it weren’t for her support.

The advice I'd like to share with fellow unpublished authors is taken from one of my favorite movie quotes: "Never give up. Never surrender." Anything worth pursuing will not have an easy road. Each step forward is an accomplishment, each step back is a lesson. I haven't crossed the publication finish line, yet, but with God's help, I will one day and so can you.

Oh wow, what a question! Two things: 1) Don’t Quit! Believe in yourself and the story God has placed on your heart! Determine in advance that you will not give up—even if you only have a few hours each week to write. Read books on the craft or attend a conference, but keep learning and keep writing. 2) Join a critique group. I joined American Christian Fiction Writers last May and immediately began subbing on their Scribes critique loop. Some of those initial critiques were painful (wincing now), but the amazing community of Christian writers gathered there want to help you succeed. Many of those first critiquers have become trusted friends whose comments and suggestions I rely on heavily.

Fantastic answers from all of you, and what a wonderful glimpse into each of your hearts. Clash of the Titles is rooting for all of our contestants and praying the best for each of you!

If you’re an unpublished novelist interested in entering the next Olympia, submissions open in the Fall. Dates to be announced.


Thursday, February 26, 2015

The Winner of the February 2015 Clash of the Titles

A big thank you to all four authors for sharing news of their wonderful new releases!
 One voter sums it up

"All of these books sound so good. I would really like to take a vacation where I could just read, read, eat, read, eat, and did I mention read some more? Well, all of your books sound amazing like you! May God bless each of you as you endeavor to do His will. May you shine for His glory."

Congratulations go to Marissa Shrock for her young adult novel!

Voters had lots to say about The First Principle, many comments from Marissa’s students.

It is a wonderful book! I loved it!

To God Be the Glory...

Really interesting, great book

Very good. My favorite book.

It was amazin’

This is the best book I have ever read.

This book looks so interesting! I look forward to reading it!

While all sound like good reads, I love the concept of a young, pregnant girl fighting against mandatory abortion.

Great book. Looking forward to the sequel.

Great concept!

Great book with lots of non-stop action and wonderful character development. It belongs on your must read list.

It is inspirational even to a grandma like me to read stories such as this.

Bless your efforts!

The latest comment from a teen reader:

 I absolutely loved The First Principle, a dystopian story with a Christian twist....Tear-jerking, heart-racing, and beautifully written. -- Tessa, 16
About The First Principle

In the not-too-distant future, the United Regions of North America has formed. Governors hold territories instead of states, and while Washington, DC, is gone, the government has more control than ever before. For sixteen-year-old Vivica Wilkins, the daughter of a governor, this is life as usual. High school seems pretty much the same–until one day, that controlling power steps right through the door during study hall.

When Vivica speaks out to defend her pregnant friend against the harsh treatment of Population Management Officer Martina Ward, she has no idea she’s sowing the seeds of a revolution in her own life. But it isn’t long before she discovers her own illegal pregnancy. Now she has to decide whether to get the mandatory termination–or follow her heart, try to keep the baby, and possibly ruin her mother’s chances at becoming president.

A rebel group called the Emancipation Warriors, who are fighting to restore freedoms once held unalienable, offer her asylum. Can Vivica trust these rebels to help her or will they bring everything crashing down around her? Accepting their help may come with consequences she isn’t ready to face.

Buy Links

Amazon paperback

Amazon kindle

 Marissa Shrock is a writer and language arts teacher who enjoys working with her seventh grade students. She is a graduate of Taylor University and has completed the Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild Apprentice, Journeyman, and Craftsman courses. She is a member of ACFW.

Marissa has written articles for teens and adults in Evangel and Encounter. The First Principle is her debut novel.

In her spare time Marissa loves spending time with family and friends, shopping for cute clothes, traveling, baking, playing golf, and reading. Her favorite genres are young adult, suspense, and science fiction.

Visit Marissa’s web site site


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

January New Releases Clash

Hostess: Gail Pallotta

January 2015, brought us many great fiction books. Contemporary, historical, young adult futuristic and a suspense novel round out this month’s Clash. Which of these will you put at the top of your to-be-read list?


During the 1960s, Henry Youngblood feels the call to plant a new church.
Meanwhile, his wife wonders how to pay the bills for the new baby, keep their teen-aged daughters under control, and temper the family’s dreams with reality.


Spain 1493: In order to flee the Inquisition, Isabel, accompanied by the husband she was forced to marry, must sail with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the Indies. There, amid the hardships of the New World, her character is forged and her destiny reshaped as she comes to terms with who she is.


When Jen unravels the family scandal within the walls of an English country manor, will she reveal the truth she’s hidden for so long as well? Or will she choose to live the lie in order to keep the man she loves?


Sixteen-year-old Vivica Wilkins never questions her country’s pregnancy termination law for underage girls until she becomes pregnant. Now she must comply or fight to save her unborn child, but fighting means Vivica must abandon her mother, a powerful governor, and side with a rebel organization that’s determined to start a revolution.



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