April is National Sexual Assault Awareness Month

9780781404259_3D (3)April is BOTH National Sexual Assault Awareness Month and National Child Abuse Prevention Month.

In hopes of drawing attention to these important issues, David C. Cook is offering WHEN MOUNTAINS MOVE for FREE across ALL E-Book Platforms through April. 16.

Please click to DOWNLOAD your free copy of this novel today, and please share with others who may find hope and healing in this inspirational story.

Also, be sure to check out my latest newsletter to discover important statistics, resources, and updates.

Thanks for your continued commitment to making this world the best it can be.

Peace and love to all — and Happy Reading!

julie

What Kind of Person are You?

heartSometimes, readers ask me why I choose to write about dark topics such as domestic violence, sexual abuse, addiction, betrayal, and hypocrisy.

My answer is simple. I don’t know anyone, no matter how much they pretend it to be so, who hasn’t been touched by struggle in some significant way.

So my goal as an author is to explore these human journeys and to remind each reader that we are never alone in our suffering.

I also hope to show readers that recovery is possible, and that faith is the key to healing.

forgiveI’ve been thinking a lot lately about life, love, and the redemptive power of forgiveness. I realize, as Millie points out in Into the Free, that Forgiveness is a heavy word. To forgive someone is never easy, especially when we seem to have been hurt beyond repair. And let’s be honest…who hasn’t?

I know too many people who have been violently attacked, verbally abused, emotionally destroyed, or sexually victimized. I know soldiers who have sacrificed limb (and sometimes life), left their families, entered the battlefield, and returned with wounded body, mind, and spirit.

I also know parents who have lost their children to addiction, wives who have been betrayed by their adulterous husbands, men who have sold their souls to the fantasy of porn, and children whose parents have hurt them in ways too horrific for our imaginations.

Best friends and coworkers betray one another, fractured families carve deep ravines between loved ones, and the race for wealth, fame, or power lead many well-intentioned individuals to corrupt and selfish paths.

But despite all the hurt in this world, here’s what I believe.

  • Honest people trust others.
  • Joyful people love others.
  • Secure people see only the good in others.
  • Selfless people take great risks in order to help others.
  • Genuine people never turn their back on others.
  • Grateful people do not envy others.
  • Kind people do not intentionally hurt others.
  • Humble people celebrate the success of others.

What kind of person are you? Take away all the hurts and scars and protective barriers and now tell me, what kind of person are you REALLY?

Today, I challenge you to trace back through your life and find the true you. The YOU you were born to be before anyone hurt you. I am willing to bet you are honest, joyful, secure, selfless, genuine, grateful, kind, and humble.

Remember, you were born for a reason. Your life is for a purpose and no one has the power to strip you of your destiny.

Today, I am thinking of each of you. I pray you find the strength and the courage to stay the course. I pray you will never lose yourself because of other people’s destructive choices. And I pray that you will always keep in mind this one simple lesson: Love wins.

 __________________________________________________________

If you haven’t yet read Into the Free and When Mountains Move, please check your local library or Indie store for copies near you. I greatly appreciate your support!

Be sure to join us for daily discussions on the Southern Belle View porch, where I blog with the fabulous bestselling author Amy Hill Hearth on Wednesdays.

There, Amy and I gather with 8 other Southern Inspirational authors for lively chats. We offer special giveaways and engage with our readers, so come join the fun!

Don’t Miss Rose Hill Cemetery Costumed Tour

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The 4th Annual Historic Costumed Tour at

Rose Hill Cemetery, Meridian, Mississippi

September 28, 2013 6 p.m.

When I began researching the Romani Travelers for my novel, Into the Free…particularly the “Queen of the Gypsies” Kelly Mitchell, I was honored to have the assistance of Leslie Joyner who has spent years compiling records and archiving stories about the history of Meridian, Mississippi. She works for the Lauderdale County Department of Archives & History where she is currently publishing her second book about this rich culture. I’ve invited Leslie here today to tell you all about an annual event they host in Meridian, and I hope you’ll enjoy visiting the grave of Queen Kelly Mitchell and seeing her “come to life” in the upcoming cemetery tour.

INSIDER’S NOTE: In the novel, Into the Free, I renamed Rose Hill Cemetery. It is called Hope Hill in the book, but I drew the details of the location and the funeral from working directly with many wonderful researchers in Meridian, including Leslie.

Now…Here’s Leslie:

As you drive up the hill on 8th Street in Meridian, Mississippi you’ll see what to me is a huge cemetery surrounded by fencing. I had driven by this cemetery for years and always wondered about it. In 2010 I finally got the chance to get close and personal with the cemetery’s history, and the history of those that are resting there. My assignment from my supervisor, Ward Calhoun, Jr. in January 2010 was to research a list of about 20 people. At the time I did not know that a costumed tour was in the works so I began my research with focus.

Kelly Mitchell: Queen of the Gypsies, whose story inspired my debut novel Into the Free

Kelly Mitchell: Queen of the Gypsies, whose story inspired Julie’s debut novel, Into the Free

I spent the next several months researching what to me looked like it would be the most interesting of the subjects, the King and Queen of the Romani (Gypsies), Emil and Kelly Mitchell. Exactly how did someone not from Meridian, and perhaps had never even been to the area come to be buried in this cemetery?

I found that the Queen had died in 1915 during childbirth with her 15 or 16th child in Coatopa, Alabama and Meridian was the closest town that had access to an ice plant which would be needed to preserve her body. It would be many weeks for Kelly’s family and other Romani to make the trip by foot, train, horse or horse drawn wagon to pay their respects to the Queen.

Since her death nearly a century ago, her people come through Meridian to pay their respects, and to leave gifts at her grave. A small publication on the Mitchell family was completed in October 2010 and is available for purchase at the Lauderdale County Department of Archives and History, Inc. http://www.kithandkinofthesouth.org/rose-hill-books.html

Last month, I finally completed researching and writing everything that could be found on the other people that are portrayed in the tour: Lewis Ragsdale and John T. Ball, the feuding founding fathers of Meridian; John Taylor, Mayor of Meridian during the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1878; Mississippi Legislature and Confederate Officer William Patton; Marjorie Woods Austin, the founder of the Meridian Little Theater and so many more interesting individuals who helped to make Meridian a great city! The biographies of the people that are portrayed on the tour is called “The People of Rose Hill Cemetery: The Tour” and will be available on September 28, 2013 at our next tour!

King Emil Mitchell was distraught when he lost his much loved wife during childbirth in 1915

King Emil Mitchell was distraught when he lost his much loved wife during childbirth in 1915

You can keep up with the tour through our website and Facebook Page

http://www.historicrosehillcemeterytours.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Rose-Hill-Company/125210517551517

1 the crowd

If you do choose to go to the tour, be sure to arrive early…each year the crowds grow larger. Take a look at the line from 2011!

Julie’s bestelling, award-winning novel, Into the Free, is a coming-of-age tale set in Depression-era Mississippi. Many of the details are based on historical research from this region, including the Roma who caravan through town each spring to pay homage to their fallen queen. The sequel, When Mountains Move, launches SEPTEMBER 1. Learn more: https://juliecantrell.wordpress.com/order-books/

My Next Big Thing

So…here’s the scoop on the long-awaited sequel to Into the Free.

YBarks-300x287ou may have noticed authors posting recently about their Next BigThing. You can read about Carla Stewart’s next big thing by visiting her blog. My answers (below) are all about my upcoming novel, WHEN MOUNTAINS MOVE due to release THIS SEPTEMBER. Enjoy!
What is your working title of your book?

When Mountains Move (Hits shelves this September!)

Where did the idea come from for the book?

This book is the sequel to Into the Free and explores the next phase of Millie’s life. I always felt there was more to Millie’s story than what was shared in the first book, and I’m grateful so many readers have asked for more. I hope folks will enjoy seeing what happens next as Millie strives to create the happy family she never had as a child.

What genre does your book fall under?

It’s considered general fiction, inspirational fiction, Christian fiction, and women’s fiction. Some would call it romantic. It will also appeal to those who enjoy southern literature (since our main characters are southern), as well those who like books about the west (since they leave Mississippi to launch a ranch in the Colorado Rockies during WWII.) Choose your weapon. I don’t focus so much on how it’s boxed (I know that’s important, though). I just hope it’s a human story people like, no matter what they want to call it.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

I struggle with this question so much because I never picture any real person when I’m writing my characters. I would love my characters to be depicted by actors who have never been thought of as any other character on a large scale, so they can fully become Millie, Bump, River, etc. without other well-known personality traits blurring that presentation. That said, while watching Les Miserables, I thought Samantha Barks would make a perfect Millie (pictured above). That would be my dream.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
The book will be released September, 2013 by David C Cook, the phenomenal publishing company who produced my debut novel, Into the Free. I am represented by Greg Johnson, literary agent extraordinaire.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Oh goodness. This is a trick question. I really struggled to carve writing time for this sequel. I finally forced myself to focus for five weeks this summer and just get the story down on paper. That meant I had to work through five months of very heavy edits, of course. Believe me…it’s never a good idea to try to write a novel in five weeks. I remember hearing JK Rowling once admit she considered breaking her own arm to delay a deadline. I now understand how she feels. The pressure was intense.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Maybe the Big Stone Gap trilogy by Adriana Trigiani, or the Mitford Series by Jan Karon. Both are character driven series which create a world of believable people and explore the daily struggles and emotions experienced in real life. My characters live more on the gritty side of life though. I aim to show both the brutality and the beauty of this world, because life for a lot of people just isn’t pretty. But in the end, I hope my characters show how to rise above the struggles and never give up hope.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

Originally, I wrote my first novel just to see if I could do it. It was on my bucket list, and turning 35 was the trigger for me. I never planned to publish it. But after the story came alive to me, I felt nudged to share it. This book is a continuation of that story, so it was all inspired by a compelling desire to push myself into uncomfortable territory and to grow stronger, braver, and more creative in the process.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

Second chances. The mythic West, the Rocky Mountains, a girl trying to overcome her past. Gypsies, cowboys, ranchers. A young couple struggling to make ends meet and to love unconditionally despite many challenges to their new marriage. A journey of growth, as Millie develops deeper faith, a stronger spirit, and the ability to trust. Outlaws, renegades, and secret lovers. This book explores the complicated webs we weave, with secrets and sins, love and loyalty, faith and forgiveness. And hope.

 

2012 Highlights and BIG Thanks!

Image2012—WOW! What a year! It’s hard for me to believe one year ago I was still an unpublished novelist. SO much has happened during just one little spin around the sun…but to hit the highlights…since my debut novel, INTO THE FREE, was released in February (David C. Cook), this little book:

• Received a starred review by Publisher’s Weekly (HUGE honor!)

• Spent three weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List

• Landed a repeat spot on the USA Today Top 150 (Bestseller List)

• Became top Mover and Shaker on Amazon.com

• Earned the #1 spot on Amazon.com for paperback fiction and ebook fiction (I’ll never forget watching it slide past Hunger Games, Harry Potter, and 50 Shades of Grey! Unbelievable feeling for little ol’ me sitting on my sofa in my PJs shaking my head in shock.)

• Was selected by Books-a-Million for their national Summer Bookclub

• Was released as an audiobook by Oasis Audio

• Was released in Large Print edition

• Was selected as the number one title on the Top Fiction of 2012 list by Lifeway Booksellers

• Was selected as Top Novel of 2012 by USA TODAY book editor Serena Chase

• Was chosen by Harding University as a community read

• Was selected as a group read by too many wonderful bookclubs, libraries, and schools to mention (THANK YOU!)

• Has been nominated for several prestigious awards (results pending, keep your fingers crossed please…most results announced Fall 2013)

• Was optioned by a Dutch publisher with the foreign edition set to release later this year

• Has been optioned by a production company with high hopes of bringing Millie, Bump, and River to the big screen! (Again, prayers appreciated.)

And that doesn’t count the REAL honors I received this year, as I read emails, text messages, facebook posts, inbox messages, letters, and blogposts from YOU…supportive friends, family members, fellow writers, and readers. It’s been an absolute joy to travel this year to my first author events, writer conferences, and school visits, and I’ve very much enjoyed getting to meet so many wonderful people along the way.

This year, I’m counting my many blessings and hope each of you know…I consider you among my greatest gifts. Thank you for your kindness, your support, your friendship, your smiles, your encouragement, and your willingness to give this little story a shot. I can’t even say you’ve made my dreams come true because, honestly, I never dared to dream so big.

Now, I’m finishing the sequel with each of you in mind and I hope you’ll all enjoy seeing where Millie’s life takes her next. I’m excited about the next phase of her adventure, and I’m eager to share it with you. It’s schedule to be released September 2013, and the working title is WHEN MOUNTAINS MOVE. May you each have a wonderful 2013 and I sure hope your life takes you beyond your wildest dreams.

THANK YOU!

How to Write a Bestseller (even if you never took a writing class)

Thanks for joining us for the Write Now workshop on HOW TO WRITE A BESTSELLER (even if you never took a writing class). I enjoyed your questions during the workshop and have appreciated the feedback I’ve received from many of you since the call.

If you missed the free teleconference, a complete recording is available (and it’s FREE, too!) I hope you’ll enjoy this and many more of the free Write Now workshops available for writers.

As mentioned in the workshop, I relied heavily on two books to help me pen my New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling novel, Into the Free.

1. Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell

2. Save the Cat by Blake Snyder (a book geared toward screenwriting, but you can find free online beat sheet  calculators to determine the suggested page numbers for a novel – just google Blake Snyder Beat Sheet Calculators to find one that suits your needs.)

I also recommend:

Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott

On Writing by Stephen King

Outlining Your Novel by K.M. Weiland (I don’t outline, but I use this tool after I’ve written a novel to go back through and fill in any gaps.)

Write-a-Thon: Write your book in 26 days and live to tell about it by Rochelle Melander

I encourage you to share your favoritetricks-of-the-trade with all of us. Feel free to comment on this post, or share tips on my facebook page. You can also tweet your thoughts @JulieCantrell (#Bestseller).

Happy Writing!

j

Writers and Readers Reach Out 2012

Welcome to November – a month of gratitude and giving. This year, we are partnering with other authors by participating in Writers and Readers Reach Out 2012. The recipient of this year’s efforts will be Make Way Partners, an organization that works with individuals, churches, and other community action groups to help prevent and combat the evil of human trafficking and all forms of modern-day oppression.

If you’ll take the time to read just a few of the real-life stories on Kimberly’s blog of women and children who Make Way Partners has rescued from slavery, and for whom they provide long-term care, I believe you’ll want to participate in this beautiful journey of restoration.

Eight years ago, Kimberly L. Smith began chartering small mission planes to fly her into the war zone of Sudan where U.S. sanctions and Islamic regimes rendered thousands of orphans “unadoptable.” Providing food and opening a first-grade school, MWP partnered with an indigenous leader to rescue and care for these most vulnerable orphans.

Year-by-year, they’ve added a new grade to their school. Now, graduating eighth grade, the orphans of MWP have more education than many current leaders of their nation.

It is time to build a high school, making it possible for a generation of educated leaders to stop the cycle of violence and slavery. Read about a few of these amazing students and the complete high school proposal here: http://kimberlylsmithblog.blogspot.com/2012/10/battle-cry-by-guest-blogger-matt-mcgowen.html

I’m excited about the opportunity for us to join this effort and hope you’ll consider offering support as well. Just imagine…if we all pitch in, even a little bit, we could enable these children to attend high school. The trickle down effects of that opportunity are endless.

I encourage you to visit the website for Make Way Partners and learn about the many ways you can offer support.

For tracking purposes, if you choose to answer the field that asks where you learned about Make Way Partners, you can copy and paste the following label: WritersandReaders, Julie Cantrell (author)

Everyone can be of incredible assistance by using the power of social media to spread the news of this drive. When twittering or pinning this drive please use hashtags #WritersandReaders2012 or #WR2012. (My twitter handle is @JulieCantrell)

Authors and Bloggers: It’s not too late to join this effort. If you’d like to participate please comment below and contact audreym@makewaypartners.org with your blog site, Facebook page, website address, or any other acknowledgement you would like to use.

This year, let’s give others the chance to access safety, education, and spiritual/emotional/physical support even in the darkest corners of our world.

Thanks kindly!

julie