Friday, March 6, 2015

The Salt Covenants: A Novel on the Spanish Inquisition

“In her historical novel, The Salt Covenants, Sylvia Bambola paints a masterpiece with words.” Micki Sorbello, artist and free lance writer

The Salt Covenants 
by Sylvia Bambola

About the book:

“But these plans they have laid out for me like an embroidered rug, showing me where my feet must travel, is to me an awful penance for sins I did not commit.” --Isabel

Spain 1493: Millions of Jews are forced to convert to Christianity or flee their homeland or die. Caught in this web is young Isabel, who has broken her mother’s heart by her sincere conversion to Christ. But her conversion is not enough to shield her from the eyes of the Inquisition, and in order to save herself, she is forced to marry a man she does not love and flee to a faraway land with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage. Here she struggles to make a life in this wild new land, struggles to adjust to her new faith, and struggles to find love. But how is she to survive? With all the risks and hardships? And can she find love with the sophisticated Antonio Villarreal who unexpectedly enters her world? And what of the dangerous Enrique Vivar? Will his hidden agenda cost her her life?

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What others are saying:

“Bambola (Rebekah’s Treasure) elevates a simple historical tale into something transcendent, in this beautifully written novel about a young Jewish noblewoman, Isabel, who flees the Inquisition on Christopher Columbus’s second voyage to the New World.” Publishers Weekly starred review

“This is not a quick read, but Bambola (Rebekah's Treasure) adeptly depicts a time and place not often explored in Christian historical fiction. Her theme of loss of ethnic culture suffered by the Jews and Native Americans should resonate with readers. Isabel is a well-developed character living in a cruel world, who never succumbs to becoming cruel herself. There may be some crossover appeal to readers of Philippa Gregory and Alison Weir.” Library Journal 1/1/15

“Bambola’s gift for storytelling in this work of historical fiction is noting short of remarkable.” Sallie Yusko, pastor, founder of Women of Worth and Destiny, conference speaker and writer

“In her historical novel, The Salt Covenants, Sylvia Bambola paints a masterpiece with words.” Micki Sorbello, artist and free lance writer

What COTT voters had to say:
--It's been a long time since I've read anything set during the Spanish Inquisition. I would LOVE to get my hands on this book. :)
--Sylvia this looks very interesting!
--I really love the cover of "The Salt Covenants"! I have a thing for beaches and the model really makes an eye-catching cover. Plus the book description sounds really unique.
--I love books that touch the heart. By Chapter 3, I cried about the injustice of the Inquisition period. Sylvia must have spent hours researching the data given. Excellent and spell-binding !
--Sylvia is a very talented author. Her books are ones you don't want to put down.
--Sylvia this sounds fascinating.
--I totally enjoyed this book. I hated to put it down and was sorry when I reached the end. Great Job Sylvia!
--This is a fantastic book. Very impressed with this author! Well written as she takes you along the journey of the Inquisition and travels to the new world. Highly recommended!
--Sylvia your next book looks wonderful!!!
--Historical fiction is a challenge for an author to fit the characters to the time in a believable manner.. Sylvia Bambola does it!
--I'm sure God has given each of you such talent that you are pleased to share with us. However, I based my vote on the novel historicity displayed in The Salt Covenants. Rosie
--Your novels are always well researched and address interesting issues. This one is of particular interest to me because of the time period...amaangela
--Creative, ingenious, captivating...your books always take me With them! Looking forward to going on the Salt Covenant journey.

A moment with Sylvia:

What is the one take-way you’d like to leave your readers?

Answer: Well, there’s actually two. The first is that forgiveness is paramount. Both getting it and giving it. Without it we will never heal those deeply buried wounds. The other thing is that as Christians we must not allow history to repeat itself. The ill-treatment of Jews by the Church and the rabid anti-Semitism during the Spanish Inquisition was troubling. But now that anti-Semitism is once again rearing its ugly head, we, Christians, must take a stand against it, as well as to stand with God’s chosen people.

What do you find most challenging about being a writer:

Answer: For me, the most challenging thing is the marketing. I’m not a fan. But I do it. I suspect that’s a problem with most writers. Still, I’d like to be like Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote, whose only responsibility (regarding writing) seemed to be to write novels while someone in the background handled all the p.r. and marketing for her. I guess one can dream.

About Sylvia:

Born in Romania, Sylvia Bambola lived her early years in Germany. At seven she relocated with her adopted family and saw the Statue of Liberty and America for the first time. But the memory of those years in post World War Germany inspired her to write Refiner’s Fire, which won a Silver Angel Award, and was a Christy Finalist. Her frequent moves as an “army brat” gave her an opportunity to see America and fall in love with her new country. Bambola has authored seven novels, has two grown children, teaches women’s Bible studies, and is learning the guitar.


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


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