Please welcome, Author, Laurie Larsen to my blog today.Laurie Larsen is a mom, a wife, a Christian woman and a professional Project Manager. And she’s the award-winning author of 5 novels, including her latest release, The Chronicles of Casey V. You can visit Laurie online at www.authorlaurielarsen.com.Laurie, can you share some information about your book and where readers can find it online?
The Chronicles of Casey V is a fun, sassy story for lovers of Young Adult fiction. We follow our 16-year-old heroine, Casey, to her first job as a counselor at a summer camp. Combine a summer romance, a mystery, a nearly Broadway-caliber show, a major trauma in the life of her best friend at home, and two broken bones, for which Casey is so totally responsible, this has got the makings of an awesome summer!
Link to Laurie’s website which contains a link to purchase the book: http://www.authorlaurielarsen.com/CaseyV.htm
Why did you become a writer…was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life? I always wanted to be a writer. I was a huge reader and writing just sort of came as a natural follow-on. Shortly after graduating from college, I began several manuscripts that I was never able to finish. I attempted my hand at writing free-lance articles for magazines, but it never worked out. I think I just wasn’t writing the right stuff. It wasn’t until I was a very, very busy working mother of two toddlers – life was about as hectic as I could imagine it – when the bug to start writing my first romance took hold of me and wouldn’t let go! That was about eleven years ago. I’ve written eight novels since then and had five published.
What was the inspiration for your latest work of fiction? Casey V was my first work for Young Adults. I wanted to write a fun, action-filled story that would appeal to teenaged girls. I’d been reading lots of great YA books and series and thoroughly enjoyed the genre, so I wanted to try my hand at it. I wanted to write the book from the point of view of the teenager and I wanted it to be laugh out loud funny. Fortunately, I had two teenaged nieces (who I dedicated the book to) to help me get the voice just right. The last thing I wanted was to sound like a middle-aged mom trying to sound like a hip teen!
How do you go from an idea for a book to the birth of the story? Is the process the same for every book you write? How long does it take you to write a book? I generally start with a “what if” question. For example, what if a girl who never worked in her life, goes away to camp and everything that she’s responsible for turns disastrous? That was what I started with for Casey V. Or my book prior to Casey – my 2010 EPIC Award winner, Preacher Man: what if a woman who doesn’t have a faith in God falls in love with a minister? Once I have a “what if” that intrigues me, then I start thinking about the characters, letting them evolve. I have to have at least the main characters – the woman, the man, maybe a child or a friend. So at this point I know the “who” and the basic premise – the start of the book. That’s usually enough to write the first scene – maybe even a whole chapter. But what’s going to happen for 250 pages? Now is when I start letting my imagination run away with plot. This process could take a few days, weeks or months, depending on how stubborn the book is being. Once I start writing, I know enough to keep me going for a few chapters before having to stop and brainstorm again. My average time for writing a first draft is 6 months, final draft, another 6 months.
Are you currently working on any new book projects? Yes! I’m working on my first non-romance inspirational novel. It’s a story about a middle-aged teacher, grieving from a recent divorce and her college-age daughter announces plans for a summer abroad opportunity. As summer approaches, she realizes that for the first time in 20 years, no one needs her. How will she possibly fill her empty, lonely days? On a whim, she jumps in the car and takes an unplanned road trip. And discovers that although she’s at the lowest point in her life and thinks there’s no use for her – God has different plans. She manages to make a difference in the lives of a bunch of people she meets along the way, and ends up having one of the best summers of her life. In addition to this new inspirational fiction manuscript, I have three contemporary romance manuscripts that I’m going to polish up and submit in 2011.
Who is your favorite contemporary author? Are you currently reading any contemporary novels? My favorite author is Pat Conroy, a southern epic writer who lives in South Carolina and manages to infuse the beauty and majesty of the ocean into most of his novels. The ocean is my favorite spot in the world so it’s no wonder that I connect with him. His novels are like old friends of mine. I’ve read all of them numerous times, and often pull them out when I need to nurture my writer’s soul after a particularly hard critique, rejection or review. He’s also very generous to other writers and fans of his work and I respect him for this as well. A few personally written emails from him are among my treasured possessions.
What’s your writing schedule like? When do you find time to write? When I’m working on a manuscript I try to write every day, even if it’s only for a page or two. With my full-time work schedule and parenting responsibilities, I feel that if I can write 10 new pages a week, I’m satisfied. I do it by not letting myself off the hook. I have a voice at the back of my head that starts squawking at me when I’m doing, or even considering doing things like … watching TV, talking too long on the phone, spending too many minutes on email or Facebook! My guilty conscience drives me to the computer and my latest manuscript. It’s not original, but my motivation to spend my time in the right ways is the following thought: everyone has the same 24 hours in a day. It’s not that you don’t have time to write – it’s that you’re not choosing to use that time correctly.
I love that! It's so true that if we manage our time more efficiently, we can get a lot done.
How have your friends and family received your career as an author? Are they supportive? I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive group! My mother is, and has always been my biggest fan. My first three or four novels, I’d print off chapter by chapter as I was writing them and hand them to her. She’d read them and give me her thoughts as I was writing the next chapter. For each of my published books I held big book signings or launch parties, and my local group of supporters made each one a huge success. Now, I not only have my supportive friends and family, but because of my website I have a large address book of supporters/fans across the country and even in other countries that send me their love and support through the internet and I am so grateful for this network. Many, many people approach me and say, “I want to write a novel. But you’re actually doing it.” So I guess in a way I’m living their dream. I’m thrilled to have them join me on the author’s journey. There’s plenty of fun and excitement to go around. Laurie, thank you so much for stopping by. I enjoyed learning more about you and your work.
“The mark of a good writer is one who can hold two opposing opinions in his head at the same time.” ~ Source Unknown
I found this quote in a collection of quotes from Rosemary Friedman, entitled, A Writer’s Commonplace Book. I like this quote because it reminds me that a good writer can master the art of proper usage of Point of View and does not head hop from one character to another.
I used to have a real problem with writing proper point of view and I head hopped between characters; this must have driven my readers crazy. Now that I have a good sense about this and know how to write in the right way as it pertains to POV, I notice how the story flows more smoothly when you don’t head hop. This makes for easier reading and your audience of readers will appreciate your work more thoroughly.
When writing a scene, keep to one character’s point of view and you will see great results in a richer, more enjoyable novel. Allow the reader to get into one character’s head at a time. You can “hold two opposing opinions” in your head “at the same time;” however, as the writer, you must be able to let only one of those opinions reign supreme in a single scene.
How do you know if you’re head hopping? If your character can get into the other character’s head in the same scene, you’re not achieving your goal of sticking to one point of view per scene. Only write in that one scene what your character can see and feel and hear. If you start also writing what the other character can see and feel and hear, then you’re head hopping. This is confusing. It may seem like you are being unfair to the other character, but you’re only really being unfair to your own writing and to the reader.
If you stay within the boundaries of one point of view per scene, you will get more creative and you’ll find ways to get your point across with only staying in one character’s mind at a time. This will enable you to more fully develop that character. In another scene, you can stick with your other character’s point of view. This way he or she will get more fully developed as a character.
Writing without head hopping really brings your writing to a whole new level. I’ve learned that the hard way and feel that I am always learning as a writer and hope that every novel I write only gets better.
Please welcome inspirational romance author, Delia Latham to my blog today. She has a very encouraging story to share about her writing journey.
I was through writing. Done. Finished. Ready to throw my computer and every book I owned out the door.
After two books in print, I hit a really tough spot in the road. Received a number of “thanks, but no thanks” replies from agents I’d tried to acquire, and wasn’t having any better luck in the way of publishers. Discouraging, but I wasn’t yet devastated.
Then I received an “analysis” of one of my books from a manuscript submission entity whose name I won’t mention. It was a crushing example of criticism on the flipside of “constructive.”
I read the two-page letter, and let it slip from my numb fingers onto the floor. The edges of my vision went dark. My chest closed up, and for a moment or two, I could not breathe. Literally. That’s how harsh the words of that “analysis,” and how deeply they affected me. In a nutshell, the person who analyzed my manuscript said I was not a writer, that the storyline lacked any merit whatsoever, and that no publisher would read past the first page.
Did I cry? Oh, yes. After I forced myself to pick up that poison missive off the floor and read it again, I threw myself what could technically have been termed a “hissy fit.” Stomped my feet, yelled, slammed things around my office. I stopped short of throwing anything against the wall, but just barely. After I exhausted myself, and cried until no tears remained, I lay on the sofa in my office and made a decision.
I was through writing. All that effort, all that labor, all the love I put into my books—and this was what people thought of it? (Notice how hurt and confusion turned that one person’s opinion into the be-all and end-all of everyone’s opinion, in my mind.)
But then…I slid off the sofa onto my knees. I took it all to God, and ranted and raved into His ears. I reminded Him how hard I had worked to make my words edify (as if He didn’t already remember). I told Him (like He didn’t know) how I’d prayed and sought His face before each and every writing session, in a sincere effort to make my words encouraging and uplifting to those readers who knew Him, and to reach out to those who did not.
Gradually, a measure of peace eased into my heart. Something moved me to send out one more manuscript, and provided the shaky courage to do so. Just one more. If it had been rejected, I sincerely believe I would never have written again. And I guess God knew I’d reached the end of my ability to take rejection. We all have our human limits, and for that moment in time, I had reached mine.
That “one more manuscript” I allowed myself to risk sending out was Destiny’s Dream. The folks at White Rose Publishing loved it, and contracted not only that story, but an entire series, of which Destiny’s Dream is the first.
I believe my own special angel directed me to White Rose Publishing. God promised to give His angels charge over me, to keep me in ALL my ways (Psalm 91:11). My writing ministry—yes, that’s how I think of it—is one of those “ways.” I haven’t a single doubt that I was divinely guided to this publisher. God soothed the ache in my heart, and fixed what the unconstructive criticism in that letter had seriously broken within me.
My point? Don’t give up. When you reach the end of your rope…let go, and let God be God. He’ll cushion your fall, heal your wounds, and set your feet on the path He intends them to follow.
Will I receive other rejections? Yes. As long as I’m writing and submitting my work, there will be rejections. It’s part of the process. I’m able to take them again, for a season. God did that for me, too. Of course, my hope is that I never again have to endure that same kind of cruel, unconstructive bashing, but if I do…I’m sure the tears will come again. I’ll probably have myself another childish tantrum, maybe even slam a few more things around my office.
And then I’ll drop back onto my knees and tell my heavenly Daddy all about it. I’ll let Him be God.
He’ll fix it again.
Wow, that's very inspiring. Thank you for sharing. Do you have any favorite quotes to share?
I have so many “favorite” inspirational quotes. May I share two?
Sure, we'd love for you to share them.
“Never, never, never, never, never, never, NEVER give up.” — Og Mandino (The experience I related above is a perfect example of why this is so important to remember.)
And my current favorite, from Max Lucado: "A woman's heart should be so hidden in God that a man has to seek Him just to find her."
I love those. Can you share some information about your current release?
My current release is titles, Destiny's Dream.
Is a little respect too much to ask at a parent’s funeral?
Apparently it is for Destiny May. Clay Gallagher is built like a small mountain and far more vocal than is fitting when he shows up late to her mother’s “going away party.” When it turns out he’s not even at the right funeral, Destiny demands retribution in the form of an escape from the day’s dreary proceedings. Spending time with a handsome stranger who makes her laugh is more therapeutic than fighting with her overbearing family.
Clay finds Destiny beautiful, charming...and intelligent. So why is she stubbornly determined to open a Christian dating service? Clay has little respect for such a frivolous profession, and doesn’t think the small, conservative town of Castle Creek will welcome such a progressive business. But when Destiny is threatened by an anonymous caller who deeply resents her and what she does for a living, Clay makes it his business to keep the saucy redhead out of harm’s way.
Trouble is, spending time in her company weakens his defenses, and Destiny may be the one thing Clay can’t escape...if he even wants to.
Delia, thank you so much for stopping by today and sharing your encouraging story of your writing journey. It's awesome how God is always watching over us and He has a wonderful plan for our lives.
Please welcome Margaret Compeau to my blog today. You can visit her website at: http://margaretcompeau.weebly.com/index.html. Margaret, we'd love to find out why you became a writer. Could you share that with us?
Writing has always been a passion of mine. Ever since I was a young child, I always loved creating stories on all different types of genres. Mystery/romance was my favorite genre- still is. My earliest memory on deciding to become a writer is when I was probably 6 or 7. My family and I were sitting in the kitchen at the dinner table and I told my mother I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. My mother's response was “That's good. You can be a journalist.”
However, being a writer wasn’t my first job. Life happened, as it most always does, I took a job at Hannaford Supermarkets as a Deli Clerk. “It would help me pay the bills” I said. In the back of my mind I always knew that writing was what I truly wanted as a career. Somehow writing always managed a way to sneak back into my life; whether it was in my work life (writing contest slogans for the latest Deli food contests) or my personal life (keeping an online diary). Then I woke up one morning when I was 27, and realized I was in a job that I truly couldn't be happy in. I owed it to myself to be happy in my work and personal life. From that day forward I devoted my time to writing and building a career as a freelance columnist and author. I spent every waking moment I had researching the writing business, jobs, etc. I still spend extra time researching the business when I am not attending class for my BA in English. I think it is important to learn the rules of the road to writing and every aspect of it.
I have been a freelance writer since 2010, but I still have a lot to learn about this business. It has given me the freedom to spend more time with my family and I love my career now.
What I've learned in this business is if you really want to write then perseverance is a must! Rejection is a part of this business and there will be a lot of it. Learning how to deal with rejection is an important part of survival. It is important to remember that even the great writers of this world (Stephen King, John Grisham, etc.) have received their fair share of rejection letters too. Keep in mind that you cannot please everyone. There will be people that love your writing, like it, or just plain hate it. Stephen King said in his book entitled On Writing, “if you write [or paint or dance or sculpt or sing, I suppose], someone will try to make you feel lousy about it, that's it.” Keep these words in mind the next time you receive a bad critique. How you deal with the bad days is up to you. What matters is that you dust off your laptop, sit down to write, and look towards the future.
What is your first response on the release of your book? After putting all of my energy into this book, it is exciting to see the final result.Your book has been out for a few months. Can you tell us more information about it?It's titled Cupid's Stories. This three-part chapter book is filled with 14 love poems. Vibrant photos and embossed writing makes this book stand out from the rest. Poems include titles like Out of the Shadows Comes Fire and Ice, To My Love, Loves Road, and more.Thank you for sharing about your journey to become a writer and about your book. Do you have any other books coming out soon?
Yes, Timothy's Bath. It's about an adventurous bear who refuses to take a bath and causes a whole lot of mess in his trail. Between an overflowing bath, disappearing Timothy, the mysterious duck, and many more adventures your child is sure to love this cuddly bear. It will be released soon. It was great having you as a guest blogger today. Please share the link where readers can find Cupid's Stories online.
Purchase Link: http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/mcompeau20100
Please join me in welcoming inspirational romance author, Anne Greene to my blog today. You can visit Anne's website, http://www.annegreeneauthor.com. Her books can be purchased at WhiteRosePublishing.com and on Amazon. Her blog is also on her website.
Readers can reach Anne through WhiteRosePublishing. She’d love to hear from you. If readers join her website, they can leave comments. She is also on Facebook where comments are welcome.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
ANNE GREENE delights in writing about wounded heroes and gutsy heroines. She writes both historical and suspense novels. After falling in love with several countries and their people, Anne set a number of her books in exotic locations. She and her hero husband, Army Special Forces Colonel Larry Greene, have visited twenty-five countries, including three communist countries. A visit to Scotland resulted in her newest book release, Masquerade Marriage, published by White Rose Publishing. When she’s not deployed with her husband, Anne makes her home in McKinney, Texas. Two of her four children live nearby. Tim LaHaye led her to the Lord when she was twenty-one and Chuck Swindoll is her Pastor. In 1990, Anne graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Literary Studies from the University of Texas, Dallas. Her highest hope is that her stories transport the reader to an awesome new world and touch hearts to seek a deeper spiritual relationship with the Lord Jesus. Please share what your books are about.
A SECRET LIST
To protect his loved ones and escape the dark fate of his brothers, a noted warrior abandons his identity. Hiding from relentless soldiers who want him dead, Brody MacCaulay vows to protect the woman he loves more than life, more than freedom, more than Scotland. But his presence throws her into danger.
A VOW HONORED
To escape an arranged marriage to an abusive noble, a Lowland Lady weds a stranger to save his life. But vows spoken do not make a marriage, especially when Megan MacMurry holds a different love inside her heart.
A SACRIFICE MADE
Outlawed, and with a price on his head, Brody condemns himself to a life of heartbreak without Megan. Wanting her desperately, knowing he can't have her, he heads alone to certain death... Do you have any excerpts you'd like to share?
EXCERPT FROM MASQUERADE MARRIAGE
Like a determined hero, the fugitive warrior strode through the door at the far end of the tiny stone kirk.
Megan’s eyes widened. Her clenched jaw relaxed. Some of her dread dissolved.
“Impressive.” Molly, Megan’s Irish maid, whispered from where they stood together in the vestibule.
He stopped in front of the hand-carved altar and half-turned toward her. Megan pulled in an uneven breath. This Highlander, wearing formal kilts, was no scrawny lad grown older, nor was he a big, hairy Scot with a bushy beard. The tall, strapping soldier stood with legs braced as if about to do battle.
Her heart skipped. Though she’d known Brody when she wore short skirts, this blond warrior was far more than she expected. Her pulse throbbed in her temples. Doubt niggled her brain. Brody was too tall, too obviously a Highlander. How could she hope to pass him off as a Lowland Laird? He appeared to have too big a chip on his shoulder to let her command him.
Brody’s thick sandy hair swept the collar of his linen shirt. Lace-trimmed cuffs matched the white jabot at his muscular throat. A silver broach clasped his crimson and black tartan to his wide right shoulder. His claymore, dirk, and thick sword belt startled her.
Megan suppressed a shudder. The English outlawed kilts. With his dress, Brody spat in the face of the English and further imperiled his life. Why?
His intense sapphire stare blazed a trail across the empty wooden pews toward her. His eyes made her feel dizzy as if she just danced a fast reel with a lively partner.
Molly grinned and handed Megan the bridal flowers.
What had she gotten herself into?Love that excerpt. Thank you, Anne, for sharing that with us. Can you let us in on the reasons you wrote this book?
Why I Wrote Masquerade Marriage
During a long visit to the Highlands and Lowlands of Scotland I became intrigued with why Highland Clans no longer occupied the Highlands. You’ll find the surprising answer in my book Masquerade Marriage. I’m of Scottish ancestry as are so many Americans, and bagpipes music makes my heart sing. I fell in love with the awesome country and the friendly, complex people. So, being a writer, of course I had to write of what I knew. I love the clear fresh air, the handsome people, the amazing openness of the country, the castles, and the Scots' violent, adventurous history. In the next few years I plan to add Cailin and Fiona’s love stories to Megan’s legendary love.
I also write contemporary suspense novels. I have a sassy detective novel, a modern day cowboy suspense, and a Coast Guard mystery, all set in my home state of Texas in the works. Did you know parts of the Civil War were fought in the west? I have a novel in the pipes that is a second book of a family saga which occurred in Talaquah, Oklahoma. I also have a World War II Women Pilots love story. I’d love to know if you prefer historical novels to contemporary novels. I’m taking a poll, so could you leave a comment?Please feel free to leave a comment for Anne. We'd love to know your opinions.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers on how to write a book? Do you have any advice for them regarding promoting that book once published?
Beginning writers have so much help these days. Join a writing group like Faith, Hope & Love and American Christian Fiction Writers. There she will find enormous help and support. She will find classes on everything from writing query letters to sending out proposals. And she can join a critique group who will help her hone her writing skills. She can send her work to contests and receive fantastic feedback on improving her work. She might even get an invite to send a full manuscript and get a contract.
The writer would be way ahead of the game if, before she nears publication she sets up a website and a blog. These days a writer must publicize her book as well as write an awesome story. With a blog, facebook, and website she can develop her own group of followers who will, one hopes, want to buy her book when it is released.
Do you have any writing idiosyncrasies?
I’m such a perfectionist, I have to have my house cleaned, my workroom tidy, and my little Lhasa Apso at my feet before I can sit down at my computer. I need a hot cup of tea in the winter and a diet coke in the summer. Because I don’t want to gain weight (a writer’s malady from sitting for hours in front of the computer), I don’t eat any yummy chocolate or any food when I’m writing. Instead I chew gum. I chew a lot of gum. I usually work in four to six hour stretches and I try to get up every two to three hours to get the blood running, but I get so involved in my story-that doesn’t happen! I try to get some exercise before I begin work, but get so obsessed with the story, the exercise sits on the shelf. When I’ve written myself into a corner with no way out for the characters, I sleep on it. Usually in the morning, I’ve had a break-through dream. If that doesn’t work, a bubble bath sometimes gives me the right ideas. I’d rather write my stories than go to a movie, watch TV, or read someone else’s book. I get really obsessive.
How have your friends and family received your career as an author?
My husband from the beginning has been my staunch supporter. I can’t say enough good things about the ways he helps me. He’s an encylopedia of knowledge, and knows how to spell, and punctuate. Before I had a critique group he was my critiquer. As a published author, he tells everyone he sees about my books, and hands out my cards. My immediate family takes my writing in stride, not impressed, not unimpressed. When I finally tell them I’m a published author, my friends are astounded. I seldom to never talk about where I spend my days and what book I’m working on.
What’s the most challenging aspect of writing for you? POV issues; using too much passive voice and not enough active words; active dialogue, or something else?
The most challenging aspect is the publicity. I love to spend my time writing, not selling.
If you didn’t write, what would you do?
I’d like to be an archaeologist. I’d love to spend time on a dig and unearth treasures of the past. I like the camping out with like-minded people who get their hands dirty and keep their minds agile. I’d like to sit around at night after a profitable day in the field and discuss larger than life characters who made a mark in time.
Why do you write in your specific genres?
I love history—and mystery. These are the types of books I enjoy, both to learn something new and to exercise my puzzle-solving bent. All my books include suspense and mystery, even the Historical Romances like Masquerade Marriage. My books always include adventure, romance and suspense with a large dose of characters learning their most important lessons.
What is you least favorite aspect of writing?
I love it all. I love the initial meeting the characters and finding out what they want to do. I love fleshing out backgrounds and settings. I love watching the characters and transcribing their actions to the page. I love rewrites and working with words to express exact meanings. I love polishing to see if I can make the story even better. My least favorite aspect of writing is the publicity part. It’s not enough these days for a writer to tell an awesome story, the writer must also sell that story to readers, and get her name known. That means book signings and making public appearances. That’s hard for most writers who would prefer to be sitting quietly at home rather than being the center of attention at some store or library.
What other books have you written? I particularly like the sound of your sassy detective, please will you give us some teasers about these books?
My sassy detective is a bit like the Janet Evanovich character, Stephanie Plum, except Holly Gardens is a Christian with a Christian world view, and she has two men deeply in love with her. She rescues both of them, but having been dumped at the altar by a third, is unwilling to risk her heart again. This is a first book in a series of mysteries that she and the two male detectives solve. Each contains the growing tension of which man will ultimately win Holly. Holly’s overriding passion is to be a light in the dark underbelly of society as she solves mysteries. She’s also out to find the culprit who murdered her detective father and painted him as a drug dealer. Each mystery she solves brings her a little closer to finding her father’s killer and taking the detective agency out of the red.
How long have you known that you were a writer? Did you receive a clear “call?” Or have you just loved writing all your life?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. But when my youngest left the nest for college, I took serious inventory of my life to see what I wanted to do besides sell real estate and run a photography studio. After serious prayer, I talked with a Psychologists friend who questioned me on what I loved to do. I never mentioned writing, but after hearing my many answers, he said writing looked like the best career choice for me. I was so surprised and delighted to receive this audible answer to my prayers.
How do you spend your writing days?
Mornings I work out at the gym, do my errands, cook, and clean my house. Then I write from approximately 1:00 to either 5:00 or 6:00 pm if I have an appointment that night (singing – social, etc) or 9:00 pm to 10:00 pm if I have no appointments. Sometimes I don’t work that late, I relax and watch TV or play games. I’m an avid game player. But whenever possible I write six to eight hours a day, excluding Sunday.
Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?
If I’m under deadline I can write an 85,000 word novel in six months or less.
What is the spiritual message in your book?
God is in control. A person doesn’t always see God’s hand working in their lives unless they look back in wonder at what God has done. Discovering God’s will for one’s life is both vastly rewarding and extremely helpful.
Do you do much research?
I do a great deal of research for all my books, including the contemporary ones. I always visit the setting and get some good pictures. Then I find books about the history and time. Small details I research on the internet, but the important ones come from non-fiction books. I am extremely careful in my research because if a reader discovers one error, then I lose credibility. If I’m writing detective, I have a detective look over the manuscript before I send it out. If I’m writing WW11 stories, I find someone who has been there. I always find a person who has done the job I’m writing about to look over the finished manuscript. Of course, when I go further back into history I have to rely solely on the non-fiction books. But I enjoy research and often do far more than I ever use in any one book.
Thanks so very much for interviewing me!Anne, you're welcome. I enjoyed the interview and learning more about you and your work!
I'd like to welcome, Author, Tanya Stowe to my blog today. You'll be encouraged by her inspiring story.
I published my first book, a time travel romance called, Time’s Embrace, in 1992. Shortly afterwards, the industry took a downswing and my publisher closed my line. That made me an ‘orphan’ with no publisher for the sequel I had already started.
It was very discouraging. I had a great big new house and a great big mortgage so I took a day job. I worked part time and wrote in the mornings before I went to work. I wrote three or four full length manuscripts but didn’t sell any of them. I wrote articles, did press releases even did some advertising but I couldn’t sell a book length fiction. I began to wonder if the Lord wanted me to move into grant writing so I could help so many wonderful non-profits who needed help. Each rejection convinced me even more, especially since when I received another rejection, I felt the work was missing something.
I seriously considered leaving fiction writing for good. I prayed and prayed because writing was all I ever wanted to do. Each time I prayed, I felt that I needed to be doing more, doing the Lord’s work somehow. Writer friends suggested I write Inspirational but my genre was time travels and I didn’t think I would fit into the Christian market so the struggle continued.
I discussed it with my priests and every time I did, they told me that if the Lord had put writing in my heart, He meant for me to do it, just maybe not the way I wanted it to happen.
Taking that to heart, I finally left my day job to write full time. I had a great mainstream idea that I worked up and sent everywhere…even to a book doctor! When I received the last rejection for it, I literally had no place else I could send it. I threw the rejection letter on the floor, picked up my Bible and said to the Lord, “Tell me what else I should do because I’m done!”
I opened the book to a place in Hebrews and the scripture in front of me said “Persistence is thy training.”
I didn’t want to go back, didn’t want to keep hitting my head against a brick wall, but I knew that I needed persistence in my spiritual life as well. Over the days and weeks the Lord’s quiet voice prompted me to go back to my very first manuscript. I took my very first manuscript, changed my hero to a dedicated Christian man, changed my heroine to a fallen away Christian and wrote the book it had always been meant to be. As soon as I was done, I knew this book was finally finished and I sold it in six months.
So now I say to those who are frustrated, “Persistence is thy training.” It, teaches us patience and how to listen to the Lord. If we listen, He will tell us how that book should be! Tanya, please share your favorite inspirational quote; it doesn’t have to directly apply to the writing craft:
I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13 I love that verse. It reminds me to continually find my strength in Jesus. We'd love to find out more information about your current release.
My current release is, Tender Touch, published through White Rose Publishing. It's an inspirational historical romance and is available in eBook format. Here is the purchase link: www.whiterosepublishing.com www.Amazon.com
Lacy Butler is graced with the gift of healing. She can save strangers…even those undeserving…yet fails to save her mother. Rejecting her gift, God, and society, she's content to live alone high above the mining town of Harperville. But her solitude is shattered when Royce Darnell builds a water flume through the middle of her mountain. To protect her sanctuary, Lacy sabotages his efforts. Little does she expect Royce to track her through a blizzard and end up half frozen to death on her doorstep. She can heal him, but why should she when he threatens to steal her peace...and her heart? With the livelihood of the miners and their families depending on his project, Royce refuses to stop building, no matter how good the reason or how lovely the masked saboteur turns out to be. Besides, he's convinced God wants Lacy to use her gift for good and not to hole up in her cabin like a reticent recluse afraid of human contact. But first, she must learn to trust, and Lacy doesn't trust anyone, not Royce and especially not God. Soon Royce finds himself in a battle to save the two things he loves the most…Harperville and Lacy. Is his faith strong enough to save them both?
Tanya, thank you so much for stopping by today and sharing your inspirational story of your writing journey. I enjoyed learning more about you and I'm sure your story is a real encouragement to other authors.
JoAnn Durgin is a member of ACFW and its Indiana chapter. Awakening is her debut novel. She was a finalist in the long contemporary romance category of the 2010 RWA/FHL Touched by Love contest, and is a regular blog contributor with Hoosier Ink and Reflections in Hindsight. JoAnn is also an active member of the John 3:16 Marketing Network and the My Book Therapy Voices where she has won or placed in several of their quarterly Flash Fiction contests. Above all, she loves to share the redeeming love of Christ through her stories.
Please share some information about your new release.Awakening
10 Digit ISBN: 1926712560
Publisher: Torn Veil Books (Winnipeg, Canada)
Lexa Clarke signs up for a short-term summer mission in San Antonio with TeamWork Missions, hoping to make a difference in the world. TeamWork director Sam Lewis has a job to do and can't afford to be distracted by the petite, feisty blonde. But when she tumbles into his arms from the top of a house they’re rebuilding, Sam suspects his life will never be the same. A God-fearing man. A God-seeking woman. A combustible combination.
Where to Buy:
Why did you become a writer…was it a dream of yours since you were younger or did the desire to write happen later in your life?
I’ve been an avid reader my entire life and ideas for novels simmered in my imagination for years. However, it wasn’t until I was a young, stay-at-home mom in Philly that I tried my hand at penning one. I love creating characters and their stories, and making them so real they jump off the page and into the hearts and minds of readers. After writing a few stand-alone novels, I put my writing aside for a decade to raise our three children. But the Lord blessed that time with valuable life experience, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that publication will happen in God’s timing. He will open the doors (and close the doors) of His choosing, in His timing, not mine.
My debut novel, Awakening, was published by Canadian publisher, Torn Veil Books, in late 2010. I write what I call contemporary romantic adventures. Romance is my first love, but as both a reader and an author, I also need more than romance for a novel to be fully-developed and emotionally satisfying. Throw in humor and some witty banter, dramatic conflict, a moving plotline with adventure and a hint of intrigue, and you’ve got my kind of book. That’s what you get with Awakening! It may be a cliché, but I write what I like to read. Following your passion as a writer does make a better book. One of the most precious things in life is that first blush of love, that rush of adrenaline at a glance, a touch, a kiss… I love the hope and joy to be discovered in an uplifting romance.
What was the inspiration for your latest work of fiction?
This particular story is precious to me because it was written more than a decade ago and is loosely based on my own love story with my husband, Jim. Awakening is set in Texas (one of several reasons for the beautiful yellow rose on the cover), and Jim and I met in Dallas. Sam and Lexa are uniquely special to me and become my core characters and mentors in a continuing series as they minister and interact with volunteers in Sam’s TeamWork Missions organization.
Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
Most of my story ideas, and some of my characters, are inspired from newspapers, magazines, television or radio programs, my kids, church sermons or Sunday school lessons, snippets of conversations in the grocery store…you name it. Practically anything is fodder for my fertile imagination. I find people absolutely fascinating and sometimes play armchair psychologist in trying to figure them out – what makes them tick, motivates them, excites them or saddens them. One of the things I tell my family and friends is to look out because they never know when something they say might end up in a book! A lot of the strength of character, unwavering faith and goodness in Sam Lewis is based on my Jim. Some of the feistiness and stubbornness in Lexa Clarke (yes, Lewis and Clarke – they are adventures, after all) is based on yours truly, but I choose to believe I also share my heroine’s resourcefulness and resilience. When Lexa talks about her grandmother in Awakening, she’s describing my grandmother.
What was the most interesting research you had to do for any of your books?
One of the books in this first series features a NASA shuttle commander, Will Lewis, the younger brother of Sam Lewis, the core character introduced in Awakening. I’ve never read a Christian romance with an astronaut for a main character. I needed to do enough research to make it interesting and exciting – and correct – without going overboard with the technical aspects. My research of NASA and the shuttle program, in particular, was fascinating. The internet is a marvelous resource, and so timely and expedient! After my research, I have even more respect for our astronauts – their intelligence and selfless service to this country. At the end of the book, I quote Ronald Reagan’s speech about our lost Challenger astronauts, the fallen star sailors. After writing Will’s story, it makes me cry every single time I read that poignant speech and how Reagan said that every one of the Challenger astronauts encouraged the program to continue should they perish. Awakening, the first book in the series, takes place in 1997, and because the NASA shuttle program was scheduled to end in 2010 (now in 2011 with Congresswoman Giffords’ husband scheduled to command the shuttle’s last mission), I had to watch the timeline carefully for all the books (yes, they’re all written, but I’m not revealing how many there are).
I love Will because he undergoes the most dramatic personal transformation of all my characters. He is a geeky scientist and can’t talk to a woman to save his life. To his immense surprise, he unexpectedly falls in love with the girl next door. Before his scheduled mission to the International Space Station, he risks everything he’s ever wanted, and everything he’s ever trained for in the space program, all for the love of this woman. And that’s even before his mission lifts off, and yes, Houston we have a problem. But God’s ways are powerful and mighty, and I did a ton of research to find a loophole with a particular situation when a shuttle is in peril upon reentry.
Even with Awakening, I made a phone call to a certain office, shall we say, in San Antonio to make sure I had the facts straight for a particular scenario that would have happened in 1997. I spoke to a lovely supervisor named Sylvia, and she confirmed that I had my facts straight. Again, I found my loophole. You’ve gotta love them when you can find them, and they fit seamlessly and beautifully into your plot – surely it must be by God’s design! It’s one of the most thrilling aspects of writing for me.
How do you go from an idea for a book to the birth of the story? Is the process the same for every book you write? How long does it take you to write a book?
Each story is different, but I don’t spend much time thinking about it before the actual writing begins. I’m what is termed a SOTP writer, meaning I write by the seat of my pants. What I love most about the creative process of writing is sitting in the chair in front of the computer screen and seeing where my imagination and the Lord take me. It’s fascinating and awesome. Getting the story down on paper first is the primary goal. Then I can go back and rewrite, edit and tighten it. What’s odd is that I rarely change much of what I initially write. Sure, there are revisions and rewriting, but the basic story always stays the same. Of course, that could change down the line when an editor tells me I need to delete something. I don’t have a problem filling the required number of words. If anything, I’m too long-winded. And, yes, I realize I’m an anomaly in that I write quickly once the manuscript begins to form and take shape. For example, I wrote Awakening in less than two weeks, but I wasn’t working outside the home at the time. Other books can take a few months, but at least for me, it’s thankfully not a shortage of ideas or inspiration that slows me down, but a lack of time.
Are you currently working on any new book projects?
I’m always writing something. I’m actually two-thirds of the way through the seventh (yes, seventh!) book in the second series, but have been stalled since March when the contest season began, and then with the contract from Torn Veil, the editing process began. I miss the creativity of writing. About two months ago, I started something totally new (and a stand-alone) simply because I had to write. No matter how I work it, this one is a romantic suspense. I have intrigue in my other novels, but this one is different. It’s good to stretch as a writer and try different things. It might work, it might not, but I’m following the Lord’s leading and my instincts. I’m hoping I can continue with it, but I really need to finish that seventh book first. Normally, I write chronologically, but with this one, it’s the first time I’ve already written the ending and need to go back and fill in the blanks. I know where it’s going, but it’s been so long since I’ve worked on it that I have to read it from the beginning again to get into the story again so all the details work and it’s cohesive.
Do you have any advice for beginning writers on how to write a book? Do you have any advice for them regarding promoting that book once published?
My best advice is simply to write. Like anything else, practice and experience do make you better at it. You learn to cut out the extraneous and develop your own unique style. Read other books, especially in your genre. Learn what works and what doesn’t for you as a reader, and that will help you as you write your own stories. Another tip? Read your work aloud, especially dialogue – it will help you know what’s natural and what sounds stilted. Infuse your characters with personality quirks, mannerisms, words and habits that will endear them to your reader. Think of beloved characters in movies and on television. What makes them special, different, and draws you to want to spend time with them? Another piece of advice is to be passionate about your characters. If you love and care about them, your story will shine. It’s all that more interesting to the reader when the author is enthusiastic about the story.
Especially working with a new, small, Canadian publisher, I’ve learned that a large part of the post-publication marketing process rests squarely on my shoulders. I understand that’s often the case now even with the big, major CBA publishers. I never guessed the amount of time it takes, but it helps that I’m a born marketer. I always said I missed my calling in my daytime job, even though I’ve always loved working in the legal field. But the Lord knew the best marketing job for my heart – telling others about my characters and my books. As far as advice for new writers, try to accomplish the following in order to promote your book, according to your own timetable:
*Pray, and commit your writing, health and efforts to His will, first and foremost
*Establish a website
*Join the ACFW, CWG or other national or local writers’ groups – attend workshops and conventions, if possible
*Find critique partners
*Start writing blogs – either create your own to develop a following or join a website where you can write a blog on a regular basis
*Schedule guest interviews on blogs
*Make acquaintance with local bookstore owners
*Talk with people in various local civic and charitable groups, etc. to possibly arrange speaking engagements
*Spread the word about your book in your workplace, church, groups, wherever you see people on a regular basis
*Join social networking sites with which you’re comfortable (I went on Facebook kicking and screaming, but I believe it has helped in certain ways, and it’s easier to send messages via Facebook than e-mails)
*Be willing to give away a few books to blog winners or for basket giveaways at events
*Have bookmarks/postcards printed – mine is glossy and features a miniature version of the book cover on the front and has a mini-synopsis, my tag line (Awakening the Spirit of Romance), my photo, website and where to buy information on the back. I hand them out anywhere and everywhere and believe they’re a great marketing tool.
What’s your writing schedule like? When do you find time to write?
No question – finding the time to write is my biggest challenge, especially with a full-time job, a part-time job (I actually just gave my notice – something had to give), and a busy family. The only way I can write is generally to do it between the hours of 11 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. It helps that I’ve always been a night owl. I was literally one of those girls under the sheets with the flashlight, devouring the latest Nancy Drew mystery (my $5 weekly allowance would buy three hardback books – it was the highlight of my week!). So, it’s not so much a question of balancing as whether or not I’m feeling creative during those hours. If I can’t sleep and feel the inspiration, I’ll crawl out of bed at 4:00 a.m. to write. Writing keeps me sane. Seriously. It’s my solace, my peace and my time to connect with the Lord. Thankfully, the words just flow. The slogan, “I’d Rather Be Writing,” was made for someone like me.JoAnn, I definitely agree with that slogan and your sentiments. I'd rather be writing, too!
How did you find your publisher? What was your journey to publication like?
Believe it or not, it was rejection from a big-name agent and a multi-published author that spurred me on to keep striving toward publication. I’m tough and don’t like being told I can’t do something. Where others might throw in the proverbial towel, I kept going. After all, they only reviewed the first three chapters of my story. I knew if that one entity of God’s choosing could review the entire manuscript, they’d see the value in the work as a whole. The second part of the equation in my journey to publication was rejection of another kind – being laid off from my paralegal position; the Lord gave me the gifts of time and a generous severance package in which I enjoyed four months to make the necessary contacts in the writing world and for the Lord to connect me with my publisher, new Christian romance publisher Torn Veil Books of Winnipeg, Canada.
One night, I googled “Christian Romance Publishers” and came up with quite a lengthy list. I visited each website on the list. Some were out-of-business, some didn’t publish my genre, but maybe 10% of publishers on that list were possibilities for my type of manuscript. Plus, I didn’t have an agent (and still don’t), so that eliminated a few of the publishers. Then I sent out e-mail queries, including to Torn Veil Books, and the rest is history. What I find significant is that Torn Veil was the first entity who looked at the entire manuscript (as opposed to only the first three chapters) – and this was after I couldn’t get an agent to take me on or other publishers to look at a full based on the first three chapters! The first three chapters are the absolute hardest to write and polish, but by the time it was published, those chapters sparkled! Another interesting thing is that my manuscript was the last one Torn Veil reviewed before cutting off submissions. Literally, the day after they acknowledged their receipt (which I appreciated), they posted on their website that they were no longer accepting submissions. The publisher confirmed that Awakening was, in fact, the last one they received for review – proving again that in some circumstances, it does help to be last!
What’s the most challenging aspect of writing for you? ~ POV issues; using too much passive voice and not enough active voice; trouble creating active and engaging dialogue; using too many similar words in starting sentences; or something else?
I’m most frequently guilty of the sins of repetition and omission. It’s like I get a word stuck in my head and use it several times within a short section – even sometimes in the same sentence! It drives me crazy. And since the mind’s eye works faster than the human eye, you sometimes “see” a word that’s not really on the page. Sometimes I leave out the articles like “the.” No matter how many times I look at something, it seems there’s always something I miss. That’s why a second, or seventh, or fifteenth pair of eyes is always a good thing as a safety net.
College journalism and English courses taught me the mechanics of writing, but it wasn’t until I joined the ACFW and attended conferences and workshops that I truly learned how to write. POV was perhaps the most difficult thing for me to learn, and I’m still working on it. I don’t write first person, mainly because I don’t especially enjoy that perspective. But I do like that deep inner POV where you feel like you’re inside the mind of the character. I had a scene in Awakening where I was guilty of hopping between Sam and Lexa’s heads in the same scene. It worked for me, and no one who read it was confused as to which “head” they were in at the time, but I learned that, as a writer, we should never do that. You need to separate sections by line breaks or chapter breaks. I have a scene in the third book where I get in both the hero and heroine’s head at the dinner table, and I love it. I’ll hate to give that up!
Natural dialogue is a real strength for me, I believe. And, for some reason, I especially love writing from the male perspective. It’s more fun than writing from the female POV. Getting deep “inside” a character makes them all that more real to the reader and brings them to life, so much so that they can almost jump off the page and into the mind and the heart of your reader. That’s what will keep them riveted to your book and what will help them remember your characters and their stories for a long time after they finish the book. And that is quite an accomplishment to which we should all strive.
JoAnn, thank you so much for stopping by today. I loved learning more about you and your books and love of writing!
I’m a true romantic at heart. I guess that’s why I love writing romance novels. I’m a big fan of romantic comedies and dramas, anything with a happy ending. What’s your favorite romantic movie?
Without a doubt, I have several that are my favorites, but the top ten are The Cutting Edge, The Notebook, Knight and Day, Pretty Woman, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, The Wedding Planner, While You Were Sleeping, Emma, Sense & Sensibility, and P.S., I Love You.
One of these days, I’d love to have my book made into a movie. Wishful thinking, maybe, but in the meantime, if you’d like to check it out, you can find it here: Mr. Shipley’s Governess. Find it online
In honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d start a conversation about marriage proposals. My husband proposed to me when he took me out to dinner and I had actually been really sick with the flu for a few days and did not want to go out. My sister knew he was going to propose and she urged me to get ready. My husband had given my engagement ring to the waiter and asked that he put it in the champagne glass that he brought out. I was so out of it, that even after I took a drink, I didn’t notice the ring in the glass. After my husband pointed out the ring, I was surprised, but excited and he got down on one knee and proposed. Of course, I said yes. It was a day I’ll never forget.
What’s your proposal story? I’d love to hear it.
Here is an excerpt of the proposal scene from my latest inspirational romance, Mr. Shipley’s Governess. Find it online Sophie looked around. “You know, this church looks strangely familiar and I don’t understand why. I’ve never been here before. Have you been here?” She titled her head. “Maybe I’ve just been to a similar church in the past.”
Sebastian put his arm around her as they sat in the pew. “Or maybe you’ve seen photographs of this church.”
“That’s possible. I could just be thinking of all the photographs and information in the guidebook.”
He squeezed her hand. “Could it be that you’ve seen photographs of this church from your parents’ wedding album?”
She looked at him in silence and then the reality of his words dawned on her. “Are you saying--” She dared not finish for fear of crying.
“Yes, my love, your parents got married in this church.”
“But, how did you know?”
“Let’s just say I did some digging, and I really wanted to make this trip to Ireland special for you.”
She sat forward in the pew and took in the serene surroundings. “Wow. That’s all I can say right now.”
“I hope you can say more because, I have something important to ask you.” He knelt down on one knee.
She could barely breathe. Fear and happiness threatened to overtake her at the same time. She watched in amazement as Sebastian began to speak. “Sophie, I love you.” He reached for her hands and held them as he continued. “You are such a beautiful woman inside and out, and I need you in my life. I can’t imagine living my life without you in it, by my side. You are my special treasure and I am asking you to be my wife.”
Pulling back one of her hands, she wiped away the tears on her cheeks. “Will you marry me, Sophie?” He reached into his coat pocket, pulled out a small red velvet box, and opened it. She stared at the sparkling diamond ring inside. Sophie exhaled and moved away slightly. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine, just overwhelmed.”
He moved to sit next to her and kissed her lightly on the lips, then leaned back and smiled.
She gently caressed his face. “You really want me to be your wife?”
“I do. Is that so hard to believe?”
“I feel like I’m in a fairy tale and am afraid to dream of a life with you.”
“The dream is real and with God at the center, we can make it possible.”
She started to smile through her tears. “Yes, Sebastian, I’ll marry you.”
He placed the ring on her finger. They kissed and tried to be respectful of the holiness of their surroundings. Sebastian turned to his new fiancée. He kissed her cheek and expressed more vibrancy then she’d ever seen from him. “I’m so excited. You’ve made me the happiest man alive.” They hugged and he twirled her around. She never wanted this moment to end.
In my latest inspirational romance, Mr. Shipley’s Governess, I loved writing the first kissing scene between the main characters, Sophie and Sebastian. Their love story is sweet, but the first time they kiss, they feel an electric connection and that starts them on a trail towards romance.
The first kiss happens when Sebastian finds Sophie reading in the library of his Family’s London townhome. Sophie is a huge Jane Austen fan and Sebastian enjoys bantering back and forth with her over whether or not she thinks he is as charming as Mr. Knightly from Austen’s novel, Emma. When Sebastian can no longer stand to refrain from touching her soft lips, he corners her and they share that sweet, but passionate first kiss. Here is a short excerpt. I hope you enjoy it.
We enter the scene mid-way through their bantering…
“I see. You’re all about a woman’s prerogative.”
“Yes, I live by that rule.”
He played along, enjoying the playful banter. “Oh, so you’re one of those.”
“You’d better believe it. It’s my prerogative to change my mind whenever I want.”
He fluidly maneuvered his way to the ottoman where her feet rested and he sat down. “I hope you don’t change your mind about me.”
“Well, that all depends on you.”
“I’d better be on my best behavior then.”
Sophie got up quickly and before he realized it, she walked across the room to the bookshelf. “So, you really read Emma, too. That’s still surprising and sweet.”
He followed her. “You’re avoiding any serious conversation, young lady.”
She moved away, running her finger along the spines of the books. He kept following, backing her into a corner. She leaned her hands against the windowsill and backed up as far as possible. She laughed nervously. “So, tell me again why you interrupted me.”
“I did it because I’ve wanted to do this for a long time now.” He cupped her face, tracing the outline of her lips with his thumb. Then he lowered his mouth to hers and kissed her gently, at first, but soon his fervor matched hers. She put her arms around his neck and moved in closer. Finally, they pulled away from each other, both breathless. “I…I’m sorry.”
She touched his cheek. “Don’t be. I’ve wanted you to do that for a long time, too.”
He squeezed her hand. “I should get back to work. David’s going to wonder what happened to me.”
Sophie gave him a flirty smile. “Oh, I’m sure he knows.”
“Now try not to compare me too much to Mr. Knightly because there’s no contest, really.”
As he walked out of the room, he still felt the warmth of her lips on his and the softness of her body in his arms. He chided himself. “Shake it off, man.” Then he walked down the hall in search of his brother.
Find my book online: http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-mrshipley039sgoverness-481158-149.html