Welcome back to another day at The Mustard Seed. Author Kris Bock is here to chat with us today and share about her favorite topic, which is writing. Hope you can stick around to chat. Let's meet Kris...

Kris Bock writes action-packed romantic suspense involving outdoor adventures and Southwestern landscapes. Whispers in the Dark involves intrigue among ancient Southwest ruins. Rattled follows a treasure hunt in New Mexico. In the upcoming What We Found, a young woman stumbles on the body of a murder victim. Kris also writes for children as Chris Eboch. Her novels for ages nine and up include The Eyes of Pharaoh, a mystery in ancient Egypt. Her book Advanced Plotting helps writers fine-tune their plots.

You can connect with Kris online here:

Kris Bock’s Website 
Chris Eboch’s Website for children’s books
Write like a Pro! Chris Eboch's Blog
Find Kris on Facebook
Find Kris on Goodreads
Find Kris on Twitter

So, let's chat. 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 originally went to art school and studied photography. I learned I didn’t want to be a photographer, but I got a great education in creativity and critiquing. I also started writing for the school paper and got interested in journalism. I went back to school for an MA in Professional Writing and Publishing at Emerson College, planning to focus on magazine nonfiction. I wrote my first novel – The Well of Sacrifice, an adventure set in 9th-century Mayan Guatemala for ages nine and up – as something fun to do in between looking for jobs. That led to a dozen more published children’s books (and an equal number of unpublished ones). Eventually I wanted a change and turned to writing for adults under the name Kris Bock.

What was the inspiration for your latest work of fiction? 

I’ve written about ancient Egypt, the pre-Columbian Maya, and kids who see ghosts. Even my first two contemporary romantic suspense novels were entirely made up, except for the realistic Southwest settings. But my newest novel is based on a real experience: two friends and I found a dead body. As you might imagine, it was shocking and horrifying and powerful, especially when we learned the victim’s name and that she’d been murdered. I was fortunate that the two men I was with were willing and able to talk about their feelings. From the start, I recognized the unusual opportunity for research, so I took 10,000 words of notes about everything we felt, thought, and did. I waited several years before I felt ready to revisit that experience, but it became the seed for What We Found, due out in August.

I cannot even imagine what that must have been like for you. Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

Most characters are entirely from my imagination, though there is a little bit of me in many of my heroines. Not necessarily me as I am now, but sometimes me as I was when I was younger. Also, in Rattled, the heroine’s best friend, Camie, is based on a close friend of mine – but I changed the character’s gender. It worked out surprisingly well, and the role model was flattered by the portrayal!

What was the most interesting research you had to do for any of your books? 

What We Found involves falconry. My husband and I met a falconer a couple of years ago, got to know him, visited his home, and went out on several hunts. (I’ve posted some of my falconry photos on my Picasa page, including shots of newborn hawks and falcons.) I wrote an article about falconry that was recently published in a local magazine, but I wanted to do more. Falconry turned out to be the perfect counterpoint to the murder mystery in What We Found, because of the metaphors it provides regarding predators and prey. I’ve always loved wild animals, so getting to be close to raptors has been amazing.

Sounds like amazing research and a great tie in for your plot line. 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?

Writing a book is hard. It can and should be fun, but it also takes a lot of work to make a manuscript into something other people want to read. Take classes – many are offered online, through the mail, or by local writing organizations. Attend writing events and network with other writers. (You’ll not only learn from them and build a support system, but the connections will help with promotion as well.) Focus first on learning to write. Then focus on learning to write better. Don’t rush the process – it may take years. Save stress over publication until you are far along on your writing journey, or you’ll just experience more frustration and disappointment by submitting (or self-publishing) work that isn’t ready.

As for promotion, it’s always going to be a challenge, and I’m still figuring it out. Doing guest blog posts, or getting reviewed on major blogs that have a lot of followers in your genre, seem to be good ways of getting attention for your work. But my best advice is to be patient, don’t stress over sales numbers or Amazon rankings, and focus more on writing your next book than on promoting your last one.

Very sage advice. I especially like your advice about not focusing on sales rankings and promoting your last book, but instead putting your energy into continuing to write more books. What’s your writing schedule like?  When do you find time to write?

I am a full-time writer. I make most of my money these days from writing articles, teaching workshops, and doing private critiques. I have to work pretty long hours sometimes to also find time to write novels, but I’m hoping they’ll provide more of the income in the long run. It’s an investment. I generally try to write a couple thousand words on my novel-in-progress in the morning, both because that’s my more creative time and because that way it’s sure get done. If I wait until I’m done with all my other work, I’ll never get to my personal projects.

How did you find your publisher?  What was your journey to publication like?

Remember that first novel I mentioned – The Well of Sacrifice? I got really lucky with that, because I didn’t make many of the mistakes first-time authors make. It was also an unusual topic and perfectly targeted for fourth and fifth grade classrooms when kids learn about the Maya. (Lucky again; I didn’t plan that.) I met an agent at a writing event and she sold the novel to Clarion. I was on my way!

Then my luck ran out. I didn’t sell my next five novels, largely because I was making all those mistakes I’d accidentally avoided with The Well of Sacrifice. (I prefer to think of those bad novels not as failures but as “learning experiences.”) I eventually got some work-for-hire jobs, and I finally sold the Haunted series, about kids who travel with a ghost hunter TV show. Then that series got dropped.

I decided to self-publish my Egyptian historical mystery for kids, The Eyes of Pharaoh, because I believe in the book but publishers weren’t buying much historical fiction. As I explored self-publishing, I came to believe it was a good decision for adult genre fiction as well, so that’s what I’ve been doing with my romantic suspense novels. I haven’t gotten many sales yet, but I’ve been focusing more on the writing than on promotion so far. I have gotten good feedback from readers (including people I don’t know!), so I’m confident in the material. I’m trying to be patient and build up my “brand” slowly by producing more good work and taking opportunities such as these to meet potential readers.

So very true that branding your name is much more important than marketing any one specific book. Continuing to write and finding new readers for each new book, will also bring in a solid readership base once those readers begin reading your backlist. How have your friends and family received your career as an author?  Are they supportive?

My parents have always been wonderfully supportive, even though the lack of security in a freelancer’s life makes my mom nervous. And my husband is amazing, backing my decisions even when the money isn’t coming in as quickly as we’d like. (I’d say I’m lucky, but I chose him, so it’s not really luck.)

Many of my local friends are science or computer types, so they don’t always “get” what I do, but they generally think it’s cool. And I have many writer friends around the world. I love going to conferences or retreats where I can spend days talking about writing.

I totally get the whole mom worried about a freelancer's life! Maybe our moms should chat. :) It's wonderful to have supportive family and friends. 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’ve been writing and teaching writing for many years, so I’m pretty confident in most of my skills. But transitioning from writing for children to writing for adults had some challenges. The longest children’s novel I’d written was 35,000 words. When I hit the 35,000-word mark in Rattled, I was exhausted! I needed to take a week off before I could get back to it, but I eventually got through the remaining 50,000 words. Fortunately, I knew length might be an issue, so I did extensive outlining before I started writing. I wanted to make sure I had enough material to sustain a full-length adult novel.

The other challenge was slowing down and allowing the main character’s introspection. Between my journalism training and writing for children, my style tends to be fast-paced and efficient, without many wasted words. But when writing romantic suspense, character is so important. Often my first draft of a chapter is primarily action and dialogue. Then I go back through and add the reaction in the character’s thoughts and emotions. I want to work even more on character arcs and fully developing the romantic subplots in my books.

Can you share with us about some of your latest books?

Whispers in the Dark
: A young archaeologist seeking peace after an assault stumbles into danger as mysteries unfold among ancient Southwest ruins. Can she overcome the fears from her past, learn to fight back, and open herself to a new romance?

Rattled: A legendary treasure hunt in the dramatic—and deadly—New Mexico desert.... The Victorio Peak treasure is the stuff of legends. When Erin, a quiet history professor, uncovers a clue that may pinpoint the lost treasure cave, she prepares for adventure. But when a hit and run driver nearly kills her, she realizes she’s not the only one after the treasure. And is Drew, the handsome helicopter pilot who found her bleeding in a ditch, really a hero, or one of the enemy? Just how far will Erin go to find the treasure and discover what she’s really made of?

What We Found (coming August 2012): Audra goes back to her small hometown after college, just wanting to fit in. Finding a dead body in the woods was not part of that plan. Simply reporting the body makes her enemies. Too many people have secrets, and someone starts targeting Audra. She’ll have to stand up for herself in order to stand up for the murder victim. And then, just maybe, she’ll find her own path alongside the wounded warrior who is as intriguing as the falcons and hawks he keeps. (Sign up for Kris’newsletter to get an announcement when the book is released.)

Thanks for sharing. I read and write romantic suspense, my favorite genre, so I'm sure I'd love your books. They sound very intriguing. Where can readers find your books online?

My Amazon Author Page
My Barnes and Noble Author Page

I hear you have a book regarding writing tips. What's that called and give us some more details. 

Advanced Plotting written under the name Chris Eboch, is designed for the intermediate and advanced writer. If you struggle with plot or suspect your plotting needs work, this book can help. Use the Plot Outline Exercise to identify and fix plot weaknesses. Learn how to get off to a fast start, prop up a sagging middle, build to a climax, improve your pacing, and more.

Thanks for having me today and giving me a chance to talk about my favorite subject, writing! 

Kris, thank you for chatting with me today. I found the interview to be highly interesting and I enjoyed getting to know more about you and your work. 

Hope you all can hang around to chat with Kris for a bit. 

Donald Levin is a guest at The Mustard Seed today. Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to come back again tomorrow to join in the Valentine's Day Blog party fun!

Let's meet Donald.

An award-winning fiction writer and poet, Donald Levin is the author of The House of Grins, a novel, and two books of poetry, In Praise of Old Photographs and New Year’s Tangerine. He has worked as a warehouseman, theatre manager, medical transcriptionist, advertising copywriter, scriptwriter, and political speechwriter. He is currently professor of English and chair of the Department of English and Modern Languages at Marygrove College in Detroit and lives in Ferndale, Michigan.

So tell us why you became a fiction writer? Was it always a dream of yours, or did you come to it later in life?

Yes, I have always wanted to be a fiction writer. And when I say “always,” I mean from the time I was a little boy, as long as I can remember. I was always writing stories when I was little. And I’ve always loved mysteries . . . when I was a boy I used to write stories based on the old Dragnet television series. When I was very young my father brought an old typewriter home, and as I look back on that today it felt as if I had found my instrument, just like a musician. I loved the heavy thunking sound it made when I would type the words in my made-up stories, and I loved the magical feeling of being able to make sensible marks appear on the page. I don’t think I’ve ever lost that sense of wonder at creating something where there was previously a blank emptiness. 

And isn’t that what art is? We conjure it as if magically out of the air, and suddenly there is a narrative, or a song, or a painting, or a dance, or any other thing that wasn’t there before, that helps us to understand who we are and where we came from. As the theatre manager in Shakespeare in Love said, it's a mystery. 

I should say that for a long time I had given up fiction . . . I was not having any success in my writing (in the sense that I wasn’t finding publication for the things I wrote) and after a while all the rejection just overwhelmed me and I decided I needed to pursue something else. It was a painful decision, but I knew I couldn't continue along that path. I was used to writing, so I found work as a writer of nonfiction . . . I became a hard-working professional writer writing almost every kind of thing there is to write for more than twenty-five years. My jobs ranged from speechwriter for the commissioner of the Department of Health in New York City to freelance industrial video scriptwriter on projects for clients like IBM and General Electric. As a writer I developed very disciplined work habits that I draw upon every time I sit down to write something today. When people say they’re stuck for inspiration I sort of snicker up my sleeve because I learned early on not to rely on the fluctuations of inspiration when I needed to write something; I learned how to staple my butt to the chair and get it done.

Well, to make a long story short, eventually I felt like I had come to the end of that way of living, and decided I wanted to go back to creative writing; I had never lost that need, and I felt the "chops" I had developed as a professional writer would come in handy. I also decided that I wanted to become a teacher, and help students learn to do what I had learned over the course of my working life. I was in my late 40s by the time I decided I wanted to teach in college, so I returned to graduate school for the doctorate I knew I needed. I started writing fiction again but at one point I began writing poetry and found that I enjoyed it quite a bit and thought, “Man, I’m never going back to fiction!” But then my college asked me to write our accreditation report, a three-year-long project that brought my poetry writing to a halt but did remind me how much I had enjoyed the long form of a book-length work. So I went back to writing fiction and the result was Crimes of Love. I still write poetry when I can; at this point in my life it’s more a matter of which I have time for. I think of poetry as a sprint whereas the novel is a marathon; both have their rewards and joys.

So it sounds like the moral of the story of your development as a writer is to stick with it?

Oh, absolutely. As I developed as a writer I had to deal with a lot of rejection, and that sort of forced me to come to terms with what I wanted to accomplish as a writer, and what it actually meant to me. And I realized that the important thing was to write, to create, to be a maker. I came to understand writing as a life expression, and I knew unless I did it I would always feel as though a part of me was missing. Sometimes my students who have an urge to write ask me if I think they should become a writer, and I always tell them no, don’t do it . . . that is, unless you can’t imagine yourself doing anything else. Then the answer is easy. That’s pretty hard-won wisdom for me.

Love that..."don't do it...unless you can't imagine yourself doing anything else." Precisely how I feel about writing! How do you go from an idea for a book to its completion? What is your process?

For me it’s very much a matter of making it up as I go along. I’ve heard some people (Joyce Carol Oates is one) who say they just outline the story and go ahead and write it. For me that would be boring . . . part of the adventure is starting out not knowing where you’re going to wind up. So when I’m writing a draft in fiction I have a general sense of what I want the narrative arc of the story to be, but then I try to leave myself open to going where the story and the characters take me. I always heed Hemingway’s advice to stop one day’s writing at a point where I know I will start the next day . . . but then I listen to the characters who tell me what they should be doing, and I listen to the overall story, and I go where all the signs point me. 

Then there’s an awful lot of revision involved. Because of the way I work, I never know how the story will end when I start out, so I always have to go back to the beginning to shape and craft the story. And then there’s a lot of revision after that . . . shaping the general movement of a the book, shaping scenes, figuring out how to move the story along as fast as possible, shaping sentences, and choosing words that say what they need to say. When I write I edit as I go along to a certain extent, but I don’t tarry overlong because I know I will be completely rewriting it as many times as necessary. For example, I rewrote Crimes of Love five separate times to get to the current version.

When I’m working on a project I write every day. If I have the luxury of being off for the summer or on sabbatical (as I was last fall) then I start work around 10 and write through till late afternoon; otherwise I write whenever I can fit in several hours at a time, usually the morning when I’m freshest. I’m pretty disciplined, as I said, so I can sit and work for hours. One of the things I learned as a professional writer is not to depend on inspiration; you create your own.   

What can you tell us about your new book?

Crimes of Love is the first in a planned series of mysteries starring police detective Martin Preuss. It’s about the search for a lost child. One cold November night, Martin Preuss is called out to join a frantic search for a seven-year-old girl with epilepsy who has disappeared from the streets of his suburban Detroit community. Unwilling to let go after the county sheriff’s office takes the case from his city agency, he strikes out on his own, following leads across the entire metropolitan region. Probing deep into the anguished lives of all those who came in contact with the missing girl, Preuss must summon all his skills and resources to solve the many crimes of love he uncovers.

Sounds fascinating! What was the inspiration for your latest work of fiction?

Well, there was a definite moment when I came up with the germ of the idea that became the book, but I don’t think I can talk about that because it would be a “spoiler” . . . to know where the original idea for the book came from would be to know a bit too much about how the plot turns out. Sorry! But I can say that I knew immediately it would be the first in a series of mysteries that followed a continuing cast of characters. I think readers enjoy encountering the same group of characters because they start to know them and enjoy their company, almost like a group of old friends.

I agree...book series tend to be very successful. I know as a reader, I enjoy them and I also don't like to let go of the characters I meet in stand alone titles. Do you base these characters on real people, or do they come from your imagination alone?

That’s a great question. It’s a little of both, actually. As a general rule, when I create characters I feel a little like an actor building a character for a role. Like many actors, I feel like I have to be certain of the exterior of the character first (how a character looks, how she sounds, what her taste in clothes is, what would make me recognize her in a crowd, and so on), and once I have a good sense of those characteristics then I can start working in toward the personality. I often find that I have to start using the exterior of someone I have seen and then I can develop an interior life for that person. Sometimes I’ll see someone in the street and file away characteristics to use later, for example. A lot of times my characters are combinations of personality traits and backgrounds from a number of different people. 

Every once in a while there are exceptions to this. In Crimes of Love, for example, there is a character named Toby, who is Martin Preuss’s 16-year-old son. Toby has multiple handicaps, and lives in a group home near his father. Toby is very much the beating heart of the book. Toby keeps his lonely, isolated father connected and grounded, and constantly reminds him (and us) what’s really important. Toby exists as a fully-formed character in the book, but he is a loving and precisely drawn portrait of my own grandson Jamie, from how he looks and acts to how he sounds. Jamie died this past September after having been in a coma all last year. I wrote Crimes of Lovewell before Jamie died but I had always planned to build into the book some of the amazing lessons I learned from him in his twenty-five years. And now the book serves as one of the many ways for me and my family to remember that extraordinary young man. All this isn’t necessary to understand Toby in the book, but it helps to enlarge your understanding of where the character comes from.

What are you currently working on?

I’ve just finished the first draft of the second Martin Preuss mystery, and I’ve begun the long and enjoyable process of revising that. I’m hoping for a summer 2013 release of the second Preuss book. I already have the ideas for the next books after that, so I’m hoping to be working with these characters for a good long while.

Where can readers find your book and connect with you online?

It’s available as a trade paperback through your favorite online book retailer, as a Kindle e-book, and by ordering through bookstores everywhere.

Donald's Website  

Any final advice for novice writers?

Yes . . . keep reading, and keep writing. And don’t let anyone ever discourage you.

Thanks so much for allowing me to speak with your readers today! I loved the experience.

You're welcome! Thanks for guesting at The Mustard Seed today. I enjoyed chatting and getting to know more about you and your work. 

Tiffany Colter is here at The Mustard Seed for an interview. Let's meet Tiffany...

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 always wanted to be a writer since I was about six years old.  When I was 10, instead of reading magazines about movie stars and make-up, I was reading Writer's Digest.  It's just all I've ever wanted to be, and it's really exciting to get to do that.

Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I tend to base my characters on feelings or emotions, not really real people.  For example, when I wrote my Daphne Winning story, I based it on the way I felt when I listened to a song from Phantom of the Opera named “Past the Point of No Return”.  As I listened to the song, I started getting a sense of what my story  character was thinking and feeling.  I developed the character around that. From the character I created the plot because I started to imagine their life, how they view others and their world.  

Next, I start to think of or experiences and emotion. I'll play with a little story in my head and think, “Okay.  If someone was feeling that emotion, what are they feeling and why? What's going on in their life?"  The story kind of builds around one particular emotion.  It might sound kind of weird, but it works for me.  And then other characters may be drawn from people I've experienced, but the primary characters—especially the one of two major characters—will usually come out of a specific emotion that I experienced or that I think about.  And then I develop the story around there.

What was the most interesting research you had to do for any of your books? 

I think the most interesting research was in my very first book only because I was learning the art of research.  For that book I had a character that was in a wheel chair so I actually rode around in wheel chairs to try to experience what some of the issues would've been. Also, since I had a couple of young children at the time and so did my character, I did things with my kids trying to figure out how a mom, who was used to walking, would navigate in a wheel chair.  

That was the most interesting for me because I really had to learn how to do it and explore that person's world. There’ve been other interesting things that I've read about and places that I've read about and places that I've seen while doing the research, but I really think that very first time understanding what research was really about was the most exciting 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? 

Most of my story ideas come about again because of a feeling that I've experienced.  I start out with an emotion or a circumstance.  When I was younger I used to be terrified of the dark (and by younger I mean in my late 20’s).  I was absolutely terrified of the dark and my brain would create all these crazy little scenarios of who might be walking by and what danger might be lurking in my basement.

I started to think of how I would get out of that situation and that's how I start my stories now.  I try to put somebody into a circumstance or a situation and then help them work their way out of it.  Really the process of creating a story is just answering the question what if.  I got that from Stephen King when I read his book On Writing a few years back.  He just says, what if this, what if this, what if this.  And that's really how my story is built, all of them.  I ask a series of questions.  

In terms of how long it takes me to write a book, I’ve written them as fast as 65,000 word first drafts in 20 calendar days. There are definite revisions that have to be done. My story “A Face in the Shadow”, which won the Daphne, I wrote that story in six weeks.  I wrote the first draft in six weeks, we got the edit and did the edits in about another month, month and a half, so in 12 weeks I had that story done.  I don't recommend doing it that way necessarily unless you're in the flow.  Other stories have taken me a year or more to really get them honed down.

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?

I think the best advice for beginning writers is to keep writing and definitely get feedback from people who know what they're talking about.  The caveat to that is don't take all advice from all people.  Not all advice is created equal.  When you're in a group it's tempting to try to change everything that everybody suggests, but you need to really look for what most of the people are commenting on.  That's probably your biggest trouble spot.  And also listen to see what they're saying.  If they just don't like a person's name, is there a reason?  I once had a story full of characters whose name ended in a long I sound like Jimmy, Jamie, Tommy, Chucky, Charlie, and that was annoying.  So when they said to change a character's name, it made sense.  But if you have someone else who simply doesn't like the name Alexa, well that doesn't mean you need to change it.  By contrast, if Alexa doesn't really fit, you need to have a reason to keep it.

And definitely on marketing, it is crucial that you work to develop relationships with people in the industry and who are interested in the subject matter of your book.  This is not to take advantage of people but you need to have a relationship and a rapport with people.  You need to serve them before you sell to them.  You need to be a part of that community and working within that community before you go off trying to push your books on them.  

Who is your favorite contemporary author?  Are you currently reading any contemporary novels?

I love Dean Koontz right now, and let me tell you why.  He has a really neat way of infusing faith in some of his books.  My absolute favorite is called The Taking, and I'm not going to ruin it by telling anybody what it's about, but as a Christian when I read that book I loved it so much it's one of only two books in my life that I've ever got to the end of and then went back to the beginning to start reading again.  I love to read contemporary novels.  I particularly love inspirational SciFi/Fantasy/Spec Fiction.  That is my absolute favorite and I read those whenever I can.

What’s your writing schedule like?  When do you find time to write?

I use a series of folders. Each folder is labled. It could be article ideas, rough drafts, revisions to be done, things to submit. Then I also have a folder by project, because I do things for other people. So whenever I have set time put aside to do my writing, I simply grab one of those folders. If I'm not in a very creative mood, I'll do revisions. If I'm in a super-creative mood, I'll do writing. I grab out my article ideas and write a rough draft.

If I've completed writing something and I need to spend some time or if I only have 10 or 15 minutes, I do research on markets and on where to send things. If I have a deadline coming up, then I go ahead and grab the project that has that deadline.

So really the way I schedule my writing is I set aside the time and I make sure it's productive. I don't sit at my computer waiting for the wonderful muse to strike me. The other way I find time to write, is I prepare myself for writing. So if I'm going to be writing at 10:00, I'm thinking about my stories before that. Or I'm at least thinking creatively. I'm trying to get myself into that space.

When I wrote my first book, I was seven months pregnant and I had a 20-month-old and a four-year-old. So I didn't have a lot of time. But I put the kids to bed at 8:30 and I wrote from 9:00 to 11:00 every night. So between 8:30 and 9:00, when I was picking up the house and cleaning up the dishes, I would be thinking about the story I was getting ready to work on. Then I wrote for two hours, and then I went to bed. So that's how I was able to get so much done, and I try to do that now. It's harder now that I run a writing company and I have so many other things pulling for my attention, but it's no different than any other 9-to-5 job. You just work around it and you make time, because if it's a priority you find a way to do it.

How have your friends and family received your career as an author?  Are they supportive?

Early on, my family and friends were timidly supportive. “Oh, that's nice.” You know, kind of pat you on the head. Then they wanted to know more about it. And then when it went on into the years and I still wasn't earning full-time income, then they started having some questions.

But in the last few years, they've gotten really, really supportive, because they see I take it seriously and now they take it seriously. The final big step was in March when I moved out of the house, meaning I moved to an office in the city and started working full-time, paying office rent, going to work and then coming home. When I took that seriously and I took that major step everyone’s attitude changed.

I realize not everyone can do that, but I had been working full-time as a writer for almost nine years, at that point. And it was a sacrifice for me then. It's been an adjustment and it's been hard, but by separating my writing time from my family time, it's allowed me to support my family better. It's allowed me to take my writing more seriously. And when I took it more seriously, they took it more seriously.

I can tell you when I go and speak at writers' conferences and when I counsel with writers, and even when I work with small business owners as Writing Career Coach, that many times the reason why our families are not taking our stuff seriously is because we're not taking it seriously. If I continually try to be a stay-at-home mom and then get mad at my family for not taking my writing seriously, then who's to blame, me or them? I cannot push my writing off as a low priority and expect them to make it a high priority. I have to be the one that says “No, I can't do that. I’m writing.”

Find Tiffany online:

Tiffany's website and blog: www.WritingCareerCoach.com

Her teaching website [
some free lessons, others for sale. A monthly subscription is available that gives add'l free lessons to members] is www.WritingCareerCoach.net

Tiffany, thank you so much for stopping by today. I enjoyed chatting with you and getting to know more about you and your writing. 

Please help me welcome author, Lynn Dove to my blog today. 

Lynn Dove is a graduate of the University of Calgary, where she earned her Bachelor of Education degree in 1981, she has spent the last thirty years teaching children in the private and public school settings.  In 2007, she earned a Masters of Religious Education degree from the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary, in Cochrane, Alberta, Canada.   

Thank you, Lynn for stopping by. Can you share a little more about yourself.

I am a Christ-follower, a wife, a mom, a soon-to be grandmother, a teacher and a writer (in that order).  I wear so many different “hats” that I find prioritizing them tends to focus me better.  I have been married to my best friend, Charles for 32 years and we have three wonderful children: daughter, Laurelle (husband, Matt) are expecting our first grand baby in February, and we have two live-at-home teenagers, Brett and Carmen.   I have been a teacher most of my adult life, and I still substitute from time to time at the private Christian school my teenagers attend.  I love volunteering and working closely with the youth in our church as well.  Lastly, when I’m not writing, I’m reading.   I love to blog and when I’m not blogging, I’m working on my next book.

Can you tell us more about your book, Shoot the Wounded

Shoot the Wounded, the first book of the Wounded Trilogy, is written for youth and young adults. It addresses how lies and gossip destroy a person's spirit and speaks to the heart of relevant themes such as bullying, teen pregnancy and family violence.  The story points the characters, and ultimately the reader, to hope in Jesus Christ.  

STW was a finalist in the 2010 Readers Favorite Book Awards.

Congrats on your book being a finalist. That's great!

What about the sequel, Heal the Wounded

Heal the Wounded, is the much-anticipated sequel to STW and the second book of the Wounded Trilogy.  HTW delves even deeper into the real world of teenagers trying to live out their faith in the midst of upset and struggle.   

Heal the Wounded, continues to follow the characters, Jake, Leigh, Mike (Jake's best friend), and Tim (Ronnie's brother) each of them dealing with the aftermath of their friend’s death in the first book. Jake is especially dealing with a variety of disappointments (“Job” experiences I call them) that cause him to question why God allows bad things to happen to good people. 

A new character is introduced into the story, Cassidy, a young cancer patient whose unquenchable spirit and faith impacts Jake, Leigh, Mike and Tim in a way that allows them all to experience God's grace and the power of His healing in each one of their lives.

Wow, sounds like two powerful books. 

Both STW and HTW have been selected as helpful resources on the world’s largest anti-bullying website: www.bullying.org

That's great. I'm glad your books are making a positive impact. Where can readers find your books and where can they find you online?

Books are available on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, on my website and around the world.

Readers may also connect with me on Twitter, Facebook my blog: “Journey Thoughts” and on my website: www.shootthewounded.org

Let's chat. Why did you become a writer?

I know this is a cliché answer, but I have always wanted to write.  I have written poetry and short stories since I was in elementary school.  I was always writing.  In fact my biology teacher in high school signed my Gr. 12 year book: “To the only literary biologist I know”.  My teachers could always count on me to give a lengthy treatise on any subject.  I did not have aspirations to be a novelist.  My debut novel, Shoot the Wounded, actually started out as a short story but 100 pages later, I realized I couldn’t call it a “short story” any longer.  Then it sat for ten years taking up valuable computer memory space until one day as I was deleting files I came across the story again.  It was my husband who encouraged me to finish it and then get it published.

Wow, love that. I can totally relate. I always felt called to write and started my first book when I was just out of high school and didn't get it published until years later. Do you tend to base your characters on real people?

I have three children and because two of them are teenagers and I write novels for teenagers, I have been very purposeful not basing my characters on any one of them.  It would mortify them!  Instead I try to draw on my experience with working with teenagers in general as a high school teacher and as a youth leader, so I kind of create characters that have a smattering of many individuals I know personally all rolled up into one cohesive characterization.  My kids still say that they see themselves in the characters.  I suppose that’s to be expected, but I pray that when they recognize themselves they see the character as positively portrayed and not the otherwise.

Any new book projects?

I have just released the second book in the “Wounded Trilogy”, Heal the Wounded and I am currently working on the third and final book in the trilogy, “Love the Wounded”.  I am hoping to have that released late 2011, God willing.  I am also working on a more autobiographical account of my journey with breast cancer in 2001. 

Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

I am asked this question a lot and my advice is always:  WRITE!  If you feel called by God to write, just write.  Decide in advance what your goals are for writing.  Is it for pure enjoyment that you write?  Is it something you do that is private or is it something you want to share?  Decide to whom you are writing.  Knowing your audience will also determine how you will write and what your focus will be when you write.  Also determine your “success” goals before you embark on the publishing journey.  Do you want to have a small, intimate audience or a world-wide audience?  That will help you set realistic expectations  when it comes to selling and promoting your work. 

I had no idea when I embarked on this writing adventure that there would be so much work involved in promoting yourself and your work.  As a Christian we revere humbleness, however for you to be noticed in the industry and to get your books into the hands of readers, you have to create a “buzz” about your work.  It takes a lot of time and it takes a lot of effort and purposeful networking.  I spent the past year building online relationships with hundreds of authors and industry professionals.  I read and reviewed books and I have a successful blog that showcases new and “seasoned” authors.  I have learned so much for those who have been in the industry a long time, and I have been blessed with incredible mentors along the way.

Some great advice. Thank you for sharing. What's you favorite work of literary fiction?

There are so many wonderful works of fiction it is tough to choose just one.  I love the classics but the book that inspired me to read (and then write) was Lucy Maude Montgomery’s, “Anne of Green Gables”.  I suppose being a Canadian, I gravitate naturally to Canadian authors and their work.

My sister and I are big fans of the Anne of Green Gables stories. Who is your favorite contemporary author?

Again there are so many wonderful authors out there.  I am an eclectic reader, meaning that I read all genres of fiction so my favourite Christian author(s) are Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury and Suzanne Woods Fisher and Janette Oke.  I also like Nicholas Sparks, and Jodie Picoult. 

I have a huge pile of books currently on my to-read list: The Search – Suzanne Woods Fisher, The Judging – Ellen C. Maze, My Mother the Man-eater – Tracy Krauss, Overwhelmed – Jennifer Barnes Maggio (non-fiction) and Heaven is For Real – Todd Burpo, to name a few. 

I love Karen Kingsbury's and Janette Oke's books. Have your family and friends been supportive of your writing career?

I have a hugely supportive family, extended family and friends.  My kids will no doubt be pleased to eat regular meals and have more undivided attention from me once my third novel is completed.  Right now they are content with take out and pizza…

My biggest fan is my husband, Charles.  He has been the one who encouraged me to publish in the first place (and he had never even read the book at that time).  My church family hosts my book launches and prays for me on a regular basis.  They realize that this is a ministry for me, and they have bought my books and sent them all around the world!  I am more than blessed!

That's awesome. Support from others is so vital. Thank you again for stopping by. 
I hope everyone can stick around for a while and chat with us. 

Karly Kirkpatrick is a YA writer, avid reader, high school German and French teacher, and mother of a toddler.  She is currently pursuing an MA in Writing and Publishing at DePaul University in Chicago.  She lives in Elgin, Illinois with her husband, daughter, and two stinky Shih Tzus. 

To contact Karly, read her blog, or find out about upcoming releases, go to www.karlykirkpatrick.com.


Fan page - http://www.facebook.com/karly.kirkpatrick#!/pages/Karly-Kirkpatrick/115316228502084

Twitter - http://twitter.com/#!/karlkirkpatrick

Into the Shadows is a YA paranormal novel and is available in eBook format at

Amazon.com -  http://amzn.to/c4QRzo

Smashwords.com - http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/27298

BarnesandNoble.com  - http://search.barnesandnoble.com/Into-the-Shadows/Karly-Kirkpatrick/e/2940011912733/?itm=1&USRI=karly+krikpatrick

It’s also available at Amazon UK.

A paperback version will be available later in November at Amazon.com.

Paivi Anderson has it all—friends, a spot on the varsity basketball team, wonderful parents, and quite possibly, her first boyfriend.  It was everything a freshman in high school could ask for.  Her perfect life begins to crumble when she discovers her name on a list distributed by a power-hungry presidential candidate. How could anyone think of Paivi as an Enemy of the State?  Could it be because of her special powers?  No one was supposed to know about them, but the mysterious messages in her tater tots say otherwise.  In INTO THE SHADOWS, Paivi quickly learns who her friends are and is forced into a reality she didn’t see coming.

1. What was the inspiration for your latest work of fiction? 

I wrote Into the Shadows because it was a mixture of two of my favorite things – the paranormal and history.  The book is set in modern day, but I used the historical elements of the Nazis’ rise to power and the early days of the Holocaust to create the plot.  I teach high school and I see students every day that complain about learning history.  My thought was if I took the main themes we hope to get from history and dress them up in modern clothes, it would still deliver a similar message.  Not all my books are like that, but I thought it was an interesting approach. 

2. Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?

I do a little bit of both.  Usually, I take the characters I know and enhance their traits, so they are exaggerated versions of the original.  I work in a high school and have access to a wide variety of characters on a daily basis, so that helps!

3. Where do you go to do your research? 

I usually only need the Internet to do research.  For my New Orleans book, I did purchase some books about specific people from New Orleans in order to make it more authentic.

4. 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? 

Every book is pretty much the same in terms of preparation.  I like to take notes, sketch out the characters a little in words, as well as write down everything in my brain about the plot.  It’s not super organized, just jotted in a notebook, but it gives me things to consider when I do write.  I like to write from beginning to end, it sort of plays like a movie in my mind and I type it out as I see it.  I only wish I could type faster.  My first book took roughly a year to write.  My second took about a month and a half. The third book required a couple of months of research, so I’ve only managed the 60 pages.  I hope to write the next books in 1-2 months.  I just have to make the time!

5. Are you currently working on any new book projects?

I have a completed YA contemporary novel, that I hope to release soon, about a drug-dealing cheerleader called The Green.  I’m 60 pages in on another YA paranormal set in New Orleans, titled Rising Sun. I will put both of those aside for November, while I work on a new YA paranormal, called Bloody Little Secrets, for NaNoWriMo.  In December/January, I hope to work on the sequel to Into the Shadows.  I figure that should keep me busy for a while!

6. 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? 

Write it down.  The first obstacle is getting it on paper (or in the computer).  So many people want to write and don’t know where to start.  Start on page one.  Don’t worry about rules and books and whatever.  You’ve read books.  Tell your story.  And then join a writers’ group, like SCBWI, RWA, SFWA, something like that.  They’ll help you find what’s good and bad about your writing.

It’s important to have a presence on the Internet, start a blog, or go on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads. Or all of them!  And just interact with people.  No need to sell your product.  Just be yourself.  That is sometimes the best marketing!

7. What’s your writing schedule like?  When do you find time to write?

Right now, I write when I can, which is mostly during my lunch hour at school.  It’s been harder to find time this last year than it was previously; I have a daughter (she’s 3) who takes up a lot of time.  My husband and I both work full time and we are both in school.

8. How did you find your publisher?  What was your journey to publication like?

My journey was a little different than the traditional path.  I started there first, submitting to agents and editors, just like everyone else.  But I was never successful in finding one.  After learning about epublishing and eBooks, I thought I might take a chance and try it out with a book that, while people were interested, never seemed to sell in New York.  With my first eBook coming out November 1, 2010, it’s a little early to say how it will go.  But at this point, if it’s successful, I plan to continue to use this format to release my books.  I have a pretty strong presence online, between social networking and blogging, and I hope that will translate into some eager readers.

9. How have your friends and family received your career as an author?  Are they supportive?

My friends and family are super supportive.  Never once has anyone thought that it was silly, or a waste of time.  They’ve been behind me 100% from the beginning.   Which is awesome, because I don’t think everyone gets that kind of support.  I was always embarrassed to mention that I wrote books to my non-writer friends or to acquaintances, because they always ask when your book is coming out, and I never had an answer.  But now that I do, I am a lot less hesitant to tell people about what I do.
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