Thursday, February 23, 2017

Carol McClain | Author Chat


Hello friends! Grab your favorite hot drink and welcome quirky and hilarious Carol McClain to the blog!

Buried in upstate New York, she's got to find something interesting to work on. She's been a high ropes instructor, a marathoner, and an English teacher before they called English ELA. Currently, she's a bassoonist, a stained glass artist and a writer.

She's always been a story teller. As a child, she composed plays and forced her friends to act. She'd help rally the neighborhood kids and together they'd re-enact their favorite TV shows. Sadly, when the boys played, she never got to be the heroine--just the damsel in distress. Since then she's discovered the benefits of needing rescue, and so it's a role she prefers.

Since she lives in a rural area, she found no way to meet a potential husband--so she went online. There she met her soul mate, and there, the story of her debut novel was born.

She spends her time now writing, playing with her Springer spaniel and exploring the world with her husband.
Let's get real...

What’s one thing you would like to impart to your readers about your books and being an author?
I learn best via example, and the best lessons I learn are from novels. I want my readers to go beyond the awful situations my characters get themselves into and learn their lessons without the pain.

My latest release, The Poison We Drink, deals with learning to forgive the unforgivable.

Forgiveness has nothing to do with condoning the wrong. It has everything to do with setting the captive free.

What’s one thing you must have/do in the morning?
We all know what the answer should be. Rise before dawn, pray and read Scripture and then go for a long run. Then, as the pink rays of morning rise over the east, we begin to type away in a whirlwind of creativity.

I do rise—but after Mr. Sun has shown his face. I do morning devotions. But once the caffeine has kicked in, I play Words With Friends and Candy Crush. I’m embarrassingly far along the Candy Crush road. Only five of my friends are ahead of me. When I passed my sister, I knew I had a serious addiction.
What actor/actress would play you if your life were a movie?
Carol Burnett—enough said.
What’s one of your favorite books?
Of mine, it’s The Poison We Drink. It’s complex. The theme of forgiveness has been hammered into my being almost from the moment I’d become a Christian.

Aside from my books—gems yet to be discovered by the NY Times, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. My high school students groan when I dig it out. Not one student ever understood my fetish with this book. But Dillard writes a poetic work filled with trivia and wisdom and spirituality. I don’t know how many times I’ve read it, but each time I learn new things about myself and life and God. (Note: in no way is this Christian literature).

Share one pet peeve you have.
My pet peeves are writing related. I despise the term: smile on her face. Where else is the grin going to show up? (Don’t answer). And if I read one more scene with a single tear flowing down the heroine’s face, I’m going to have a full-scale hysterics with myriad tears gushing from my azure orbs.

Coffee or tea?
In my scriptures—the Second Book of Opinions—there’s only one beverage worth indulging in—the rest are weak, watered-down substitutes. Dark roast, hot coffee drunk black. If you’re going to give yourself heart burn, why settle for anything less?

Creamy or smooth peanut butter?
Again, according to the dietary laws of 2 Opinions, chunky peanut butter is the only one that satiates. It can be enhanced by sprinkling trail mix on it.

Connect with Carol...
Blog: carol-mcclain.blogspot.com
Facebook: http://on.fb.me/1kq9DpL
Twitter: @carol_mcclain

The Poison We Drink 
by Carol McClain

Twenty-four-year-old hairdresser Torie Sullivan has given up on life. When her boyfriend betrays her, she careens her car into a ditch in a drunken fury.

After paramedic Adam Benedict rescues Torie from her mangled car, he learns she's the middle school bully who brutalized him. A week later, he discovers she lives in a lean-to in Hookskill Nature Preserve. Despite his hatred, his innate compassion won't allow him to leave Torie in the wilds. He offers her a room in his miniscule cabin.

After Torie's first night at Adam's, tragedy strikes his life, and he can no longer house her. His girlfriend, Maya Vitale takes Torie in. Though first-grade teacher Maya's past isn't as sinister as Torie's, she, too, hides a shameful secret.

The lives of three disparate friends collide and reveal the toxic pasts that threaten to poison their lives. Only by forgiving the unpardonable can they be set free. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Barbara M. Britton {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Barbara...

Barbara M. Britton lives in Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. She writes Christian Fiction for teens and adults. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. Barb kicked off her Tribes of Israel series in October with the release of “Providence: Hannah’s Journey.”

Connect with Barbara...

Website: www.barbarambritton.com
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter
Purchase: Building Benjamin: Naomi's Journey

Get to know Barbara...


You and Writing

People ask me if I always wanted to be a writer. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would be an author. Being an author wasn’t encouraged, or even taught, on career day at my high school.

Many, many years later, I was teaching chapel at my sons’ school when I got the prompting to sit down and write. After all, I had been adapting curriculum and writing my own lesson plans, so writing a novel couldn’t be that much different. Right? Wrong. It took me nine years to get a book published because of the drastic learning curve in teaching myself how to write a book and then how to go about getting someone to publish it. I have to pinch myself that “Building Benjamin” is my second book to launch. A third book in my Tribes of Israel series is already contracted.

This certainly wasn’t the career path I had chosen for myself, but I love teaching about the Bible, and now I get to write about Bible stories. God always teaches me something new when I study His Word. I hope my fiction drives readers back to the original text—the Bible.

Your Writing

Why did you choose to write a story set in Judges 19-21?
I thought I knew my Bible well. I had taught about Deborah, Samson, and Gilead in Sunday School, but I guess I never read the ending to the book of Judges. I never knew the tribe of Benjamin had almost been wiped out by the other tribes of Israel, and that a crazy Sodom and Gomorrah-like story happened in these chapters. I was even crazier to set a love story in this chaos. But somehow it worked.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
Naomi is my main character, so I have to give her a shout out. She is brave and committed to her family and to God. Naomi’s friend Cuzbi was so much fun to write because I pictured her as a Valley Girl transported to Ancient Israel. Cuzbi speaks her mind even if the truth hurts, and she can be self-absorbed and tacky in an endearing sort of way.

What’s the theme? How did you come up with it?
My theme is; Love grows where God grafts the tender shoot. This story is an enemies to lovers story. Naomi has an embedded anger against the Benjamites because they killed her brothers. When she is abducted by Eliab, she is furious. Eliab is her enemy until she discovers that he isn’t as bad as she thought. If the tribe of Benjamin is going to survive, the remaining men need wives. Can Naomi put her feelings aside for the sake of her people? Only God can change her heart, but it will require some tough choices.

Was there a passage of scripture you came across or used while writing it that you’d like to share?
I have Naomi quote Deuteronomy 6:18a (NIV) when she doesn’t know what to do while she awaits a rescue, “Do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so it may go well with you.” This is a verse that should guide us today. Naomi seeks God’s wisdom when she feels lost to her family and to her tribe.

You and Writing

Let’s talk about your writing life...

How long did you write before you got published?
I wrote for nine years before my debut novel, “Providence: Hannah’s Journey” was published. Providence was the fourth book I had written, but my first work of Biblical fiction.

How many rejection letters did you get before being accepted by a publisher?
Over my first four books, including “Providence,” I received over 200 rejection letters. And I was told by industry professionals to write something different than Biblical fiction because it was a hard sell. But I absolutely love writing this genre.

What’s your encouragement for younger writers aside from “keep writing”? We hear this a lot, but dig deeper. Is there something else that helped you?
I joined professional writing organizations and I got involved in their local chapters. This network of writing friends has encouraged me along the difficult path of rejection (note the 200 earlier) and the bouts of doubting myself and my writing ability.

On a practical note, I keep a small daily planner at my computer and I write down everything I do to further my writing career. If there are too many blank squares, then I’m not being diligent with my writing. I can say at this point in time, there is never a blank square except on Sunday. Once you have a book published, you have to put on the publicity hat too, and that takes additional time.

You

All right, let’s keep things real:

Flowers or chocolate? …Or books?
Easy peasy. Chocolate! Dark chocolate is my favorite.

What’s your most memorable (good or bad) Valentines date or gift?
See my answer above. One Valentine’s Day, my husband gave me six, waxy, old chocolates from a no name chocolate company. He worked five minutes away from two of my favorite chocolate companies. Sigh. Needless to say, he went out and bought me my favorites. I know, I am a chocolate snob.

What are you currently reading?
This question can get me in trouble because I have several friends who are published. I read mostly Christian fiction stories that have a romantic thread. With that answer I won’t hurt any feelings.

Thanks again for inviting me, Emilie!

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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Creating Catchy Characters


We've had some great guest posts on the blog this month talking about character development (like this post and this post) but today I wanted to add my two cents. I am by no means an expert on what it takes to create a great character, but I have read a lot and along the way I've picked up some tips about what makes a character stick to you. That is, what makes them "catchy". I'm mainly talking about main characters here, but some of these can apply to all characters in a book. Let's take a look...

Creating Catchy Characters

Make them real  
Yes, I am taking about fictional people, but to a reader that character will be as real as the person next door if the book is well written. Can I get an amen? You don't want to let the reader down. This doesn't mean crafting your characters after that same next door neighbor, but it does mean that you've thought through a lot of things when creating the character--and not just for the sake of the plot. Your characters all have motivations (even the secondary characters) and you need to know those.

I think David Baldacci is a fabulous example of a writer who makes all of his characters real, whether it be the mailman he uses to find dead bodies to begin the story or his main character who is motivated by a tragic past.

Help them stand out
No matter if a chracter is shy and introverted or wild and raucous, they still need to stand out in a readers mind. This is a combination of all of the things mentioned (as well as the authors voice and the plot) but creating a solid character is the first step to making them "memorable".  Usually, the thing I remember the most about a character is their transformation (talked about more in the next point) but it either personally affected me or changed them so much, and so "real-ly", that it seared that character forever into my mind. This happens by creating real emotions on the page, sharing them through Deep Point of View, and getting at the heart of who they are as a person.

A good example of this to me was Eliyana from Sara Ella's novel Unblemished. She stood out in my mind not because she was so "notable" in her surroundings, but because of how I was able to experience what she was going through in her thoughts. I rooted for her because I knew what struggles she was facing mentally. 

Give them a purpose
This seems simple enough, but if a character's purpose is simply to "accompolish this goal" or "be happy" your character will fall flat. They need external and internal things they desire (their goal), the impetus to achieve those desires (their motivation), and then the issues that arise when they try to accompolish this (the conflict).

Take a character named Sally. Let's say Sally loves playing piano but she has terrible stage fright. First, we must know that she desires to become a world class pianist because her mother was one and, though her mother is now dead, Sally want's her mother's memory to live on in her achievements (goal and motivation). But, Sally has debilitating stage fright (the conflict). It's not enough to simply have another character tell her to get over her fright so she magically does. The reader must experience Sally's stage fright through her internal thoughts, see the reaction to her piano skills (let's say they are exceptional), and then see why she eventually over comes that stage fright.

A great example of this is Nym in Mary Weber's Storm Siren trilogy. Nym is powered by some pretty incredible motivations (no spoilers here) that make her end goal and the achievement of that goal a wild and thrilling ride - but also one that makes her a catchy character!

Make them flawed
Oh boy! This is imperative! Your characters must have flaws! And, as you get to know them, you'll start to see those flaws and, what's better yet, how those flaws affect the characters end goal. I would  recommend giving your character two types of flaws (or you could call them a flaw and a quirk). A larger flaw (or flaws depending) that affects their character deeply and then a smaller flaw (or quirk) that makes them stand out.

For a flaw, I think of Haegan from Accelerant by Ronie Kendig. Haegan, though a fabulous character and filled with a lot of good things, also suffers from some pride issues which greatly affect him and those around him. 

For a quirk, Riden from Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller immediately comes to mind because of his "quirk" of liking things neat and orderly. Such a great little quirk that made me laugh and was used well to affect the plot without making it seem contrived. 


Give them a strength
Though I am sure there are characters out there (probably in books that I've read and have forgotten) who go through the whole book without showing true strength, but personally that's not a type of book I find joy in reading or one that (I would assume) sells well. I believe the worthiest, most memorable characters, are the ones that either have or gain a strength by the end of the book. Whether that be a supernatural strength, a personal strength, or a combination of both, it doesn't matter. They have something that makes them/helps them/pushes them to accompolish their goal. In some cases this strength is realized throughout the course of the novel, or it's bestowed on them (or they already have it) in the beginning and they have to learn to rely on it, but in all cases it's what gets them to their goal.

Ok, examples are plentiful in this area but I think of Frodo getting the ring to Mordor - this strength was not only his determination but also his friend, Sam. Then there's the Beast from Beauty and the Beast who learned that his strength wasn't in anger but in love. And Katniss from The Hunger Games who's initial strength comes from loving her sister and sacrifice, and then morphs into a responsibility to use her situation to save her people (still a strength born by love and sacrifice).

Those are just a few things that make catchy characters. What are some other things that make characters stand out? Who are some of your favorite characters? Why are they your favorites? 

Monday, February 20, 2017

Daughter of the Pirate King by Tricia Levenseller | Re:View

A surprising tale of strength, beauty, and deception. Daughter of the Pirate King will entertain and delight readers with witty banter, sword fights, and treasure. 

*** 

I requested this book on a whim. I mean...I like stories about pirates and the cover intrigued me so I went for it. I honestly don't think I even read the description (as you all know I like to do). And I was pleasantly surprised. I definitely want to get my hands on a hardback version!

From the beginning, I knew I was going to love Tricia Levenseller's voice and her complex character Alosa. I found myself pulled in and flipping pages as quickly as I could. Many nights I was up past my bedtime just to get in "one more page" which turned into chapters when all was said and done.

I really enjoyed following Alosa's story. As is a danger to most writers when writing in first person, a reader can become bogged down by the characters thoughts and desires but here I found hers to be helpful, informative, and easy to relate to. Alosa is a cunning and complex character and a whole lot of fun. As there is a romantic element, I'll also mention that Riden's character was intriguing to me. I won't say much more on this so you can make your own opinions, but I liked his character.

As for the plot and plot elements, I am a fan! At times, due to the circumstances that Alosa finds herself in, there is some repetition, but I honestly wasn't bothered by it. I felt as if Levenseller did a great job progressing the story so that, at a time where I would expect to get bored, something else would happen and pull me through. Thumbs up for that!

There were only a few things I wasn't a huge fan of. After the start of the book, I felt as if there was a lot of telling vs. showing. It's complicated by the situation Alosa finds herself in so I understand why it's that way, but sometimes it felt like she was thinking things to explain a situation, giving more information because we needed to know details in order for it all to make sense. I don't know if I have a great way around that fact because of the plot so, personally, I let this slide and just took the information for what it was. I also wasn't a huge fan of the violence because this is labeled as YA. Now, I've read much more violent books, but they weren't marketed as a fun YA read. Yes, I understand the reality of pirate life is messy and at times violent, but I think there were creative ways around the violence that Levenseller chose to ignore. Eh, just a personal opinion.

So, my recommendation: If you enjoy a good pirate tale that includes romance (because this certainly does) and some light-hearted elements of danger, then I really think you'll like this. It's entertaining, surprising, and an overall easy read. It's definitely not a 'dark' book and I found myself laughing quite frequently. If you aren't a huge fan of romance threads or are looking for a more gritty pirate tale, then this may not be for you.

*A note for my clean readers: Though this is still considered YA I would rate it more at a 17+ for violence and romantic elements.

My rating: 4.5*
Purchase: Daughter of the Pirate King

Book Description
(from Amazon)

There will be plenty of time for me to beat him soundly once I've gotten what I came for.

Sent on a mission to retrieve an ancient hidden map―the key to a legendary treasure trove―seventeen-year-old pirate captain Alosa deliberately allows herself to be captured by her enemies, giving her the perfect opportunity to search their ship.

More than a match for the ruthless pirate crew, Alosa has only one thing standing between her and the map: her captor, the unexpectedly clever and unfairly attractive first mate Riden. But not to worry, for Alosa has a few tricks up her sleeve, and no lone pirate can stop the Daughter of the Pirate King.
_______________
I received this book for free but was under no obligation to post a review. I do so under my own motivation and the opinions I have expressed in this review are honest and entirely my own. 


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Be a kid by Paula Mowery | Guest Post

Emilie here: I'm excited to introduce you to Paula Mowery as she talks about creating characters for children's books!

Be A Kid


As an author of two women’s fictions and six romances, I’m no stranger to creating characters. Of course, bringing women to life isn’t a struggle since I am one. Now, men characters can pose some challenges, but I do interact with men and live with one in particular, my hubby of twenty-seven years.

Recently, I started creating a children’s chapter book series. The main character is a feisty little girl named Chloe Ann Parker. My first idea for this character came from a little girl at my church, whose personality and cute looks are reflected in Chloe.

But then came the hard part. The story is told from Chloe’s point of view. I needed to write it as a child for children.

The following are tips and things I’ve learned in this journey to write like Chloe:

A child character needs to talk like a child. I work at an elementary school, so the first thing I did was to listen to the kids converse with one another. There are times I don’t write something in perfect grammar, because a child of Chloe’s age hasn’t reached that level of fluency yet.

A child has a different perspective than an adult. A child sees issues from how they specifically affect him or her. I had to think on that level and not just transfer an adult reaction to the child character.

What’s important to a child is often different than an adult. Children notice different things. They see things in light of what they can accomplish. They see things in their innocence.

Children learn different lessons. The themes and lessons learned are not to the level of an adult. Children aren’t ready to learn sophisticated lessons. They are still learning about the basics like what it takes to be a friend, what potential they have in math or spelling, and what’s for lunch.

At the beginning of this school year, I asked one of the first-grade teachers if we could pretend that Chloe was in her class. I would get her students in on it. The teacher and I sent home a permission form to use the first names of the kids in the class. Though it is often hard to get papers back from home, we received every one of those forms. I meet with the class every Friday afternoon before I leave. I normally arrive with questions about what they are doing in class or I pose questions about what they would tell Chloe in a particular situation. I then utilize their answers and create a post on my writing blog for kids. The kids give me answers and insights into their minds that make Chloe come to life as a first grader.

Part one of The Adventures of Chloe Ann Parker – First Grade is out just in time for Valentine’s Day. But don’t miss the first book from kindergarten. That first chapter book introduces readers to Chloe. But I am quite excited about this first-grade edition, since the first graders’ names from Mrs. Taylor’s class will appear in print.

In conclusion, I suggest if you create a child character, you hang out with children of that similar age. In fact, it wouldn’t hurt to immerse yourself and just be a kid!
_____

Paula Mowery has always been an avid reader of Christian fiction, especially romances of all sub-genres. She holds a Master of Education and taught English/Language Arts in public school and then came home to educate her own daughter, first through twelfth grades. She teaches at writing conferences such as the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. TAG, Tomorrow’s Author Guild, is a pilot program she is currently creating in which she teaches and designs writing lessons to encourage young writers as well as assisting teachers with writing instruction.

Paula is a published author in Christian fiction. One reviewer stated that her writing “thunders with emotion.” Her novella, Be The Blessing, won the 2014 Selah Award. Her story, The Prayer Shawl, from the book, Legacy and Love, was a finalist in The Carolyn Readers’ Choice Awards from North Texas Romance Writers of America. Her devotions have also been included in several devotional anthologies. Connect with her on her blog, www.paulamowery.blogspot.com.

T. A. G. stands for Tomorrow’s Author Guild. The goal of this program is to encourage the writers of the future. Because lack of purpose can equal lack of motivation, writing lessons are created and taught with the aim of sparking interest in the student and providing a platform in which to practice good writing skills. The writing lessons are created to help alleviate some of the pressure and demands of teachers so that they can accomplish the writing objectives in fresh ways. www.getkidswriting.blogspot.com

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Steen Jones {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Steen...

I was born and raised in Woodstock, Georgia. While I may have only recently rediscovered my passion for writing, I have always considered myself an artist and a storyteller. A couple of years ago, a story idea gripped me and wouldn’t let go until I wrote it all down. The Door Keeper is my debut novel and I can’t wait to pursue all of the other stories that have built up in me over the last three and a half decades.

When I'm not writing, reading, painting, or baking, I love spending time binge watching TV shows with my husband and playing in the pool with my two children at our home in North Georgia.

Connect with Steen...

Blog/website: thedoorkeepertrilogy.com
Goodreads: steenjones
Facebook: www.facebook.com/thedoorkeepertrilogy/
Twitter: @steenjones
Instagram: @thedoorkeepertrilogy
Pre-order: The Door Keeper 

Get to know Steen...

You and Writing


I've had a interesting journey with writing over the last thirty five years. I've only recently been reminded of my love for writing as a kid. Going through all of my stuff stored in my parents attic, I found illustrated books I wrote in elementary school and the English award I received for the 6th grade. However, it was never something I actually considered pursuing as a profession or even hobby. Drawing and painting took precedence and I studied those, letting writing fall to the wayside.

Over the past six years, however, writing became my coping mechanism. Having married young and given birth to two special needs children, journaling everyday became the way I managed and sifted through my emotions and helped keep me sane through a rather difficult period. It was only when a story idea gripped me that I actually considered writing something other than just in my journal.

The story for The Door Keeper was actually inspired by a real door I drove by one day. It was a free standing door, unattached to anything I could see and quite peculiar. I allowed my imagination to run free one day, imaging Narnia on the other side. Suddenly a story began to form and over the next four or five years, I would randomly think about it and jot more notes in my phone. Bored on day in January 2015, I wrote the outline for the first half of the book and actually got excited enough to start writing it. I didn't tell anyone what I was doing until I was about ten thousand words in. At that point, I knew I might have something.

Your Writing 

Do you have a favorite character in this work?
Absolutely. I adore Gabby, my main character's daughter. It's easy to love her because I based her on my own daughter. Her beauty, talent, and funny quirks. Writing Gabby was one of the easiest things I've ever done.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with? 
I hope my readers come away with the understanding of the dangers of living in fear. Fear is destructive and manipulative and allowing it to control your decisions can lead to an upsetting path.

What's the theme? How did you come up with it? 
My theme and tension in the book is the delicate balance of motherhood and destiny. I love the idea so much because as a mother and business owner, this is something I wrestled with for years, and still do honestly. I wanted to write a book that I could love and identify with, and what's better than mixing real life and magical worlds?

Is there a funny story associated with writing the book? 
Well, it was funny to me after the fact. I was at the lake with my family while writing one of the more intense parts of the book. I was sitting on the dock and in the middle of writing one of the major action sequences and got called in for dinner. I was so hyped up by what was happening in the story and mad that I couldn't continue to write what happened next, I slammed my computer down and almost threw it into the lake. Thankfully cooler heads prevailed. It was such a terribly wonderful cliff hanger, I decided to leave it that way. So hopefully, you get as mad at me as I did that day, if you have to put the book down at that spot.

Did you get to do any fun research for the book? 
Oh my heaven yes. I set much of the book in Italy, specifically the Amalfi coast. I have yet to go, (trip is in the works,) so my research days being immersed in Positano, Sorrento, and Capri were some of my favorite days. Almost everything I wrote about in those cities actually exist, so I wanted it to be as accurate as possible without having been there myself.

We're your characters easy to pin down or did you discover them along the way as you wrote the book?
 It was funny, I actually based most of my characters on people in my life. Turns out, they were all just a spring board because as the book progressed, they all took on a life of their own. It was an interesting process to watch and I didn't expect it. The story was the same way. I would sit down on some days and prepare for a certain scene, but end of writing something completely different. Sometimes, I swore my fingers had a mind of their own.

What's the most random thing you had to Google for the story? 
Ground sloths. Bus routes from Naples to Sorrento. Studies of Floriculture. Archaic weaponry. Just to name a few.

Writing

How long did you write before you got published? 
Before I say, just remember that for whatever reason, my story is an anomaly and feel free to be mad, angry or frustrated at me. I give you permission. And don't worry, I feel guilty sometimes telling people knowing what most people go through in this industry! Also remember, I chased down small indie publishers and didn't have the patience to wait for an agent or big publisher to notice me. I wrote the outline for The Door Keeper on January 11, 2015, sold it in March of 2016, and it will be released on February 20, 2017. It took me a year to write/edit, then a year for publication.

What's your encouragement for younger writers? 
Obviously, I can't speak into the long suffering pursuit of being an author, nor will I front like I can. But having raised two special needs kids, pursuing multiple careers, starting two different businesses, running one of them for five years, and being married for over fifteen years...I can speak into pursuing your dreams. If you have a passion, no matter what it is, be content and find joy doing it as a hobby on the side. Trust God's timing and him to provide the opportunities when you are ready for them. He knows so much more than we do.

What did you learn along the path to publishing that you'd care to share as encouragement? 
Now, this I can speak into. There is no wrong way to do this! There are benefits to being published by a large, well known publisher, and benefits for smaller indie publishers, same with self-publishing. I would encourage you to absorb info from all platforms and formulate for yourself what is best for you! Don't be afraid to take a path less traveled.

What does your writing process look like? 
In the morning, my writing sessions consist of coffee, blankets, music, and my dogs cuddled up on the couch with me. In the evening, there is a bed and a glass of wine.

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? 
I already mentioned I find my character inspiration in the people closest to me, heaven help them. Same with story, there are so many scenes in the book that are my real life. But I have to tell you, some of the best ideas and brainstorms have happened in the bath. Anytime I have a block or can't figure out to go next, I get in the bath. It's so weird, like my brain opens up in water. I'm sure there is something scientific about it...maybe I should google it?

You

What's one thing you are looking forward to this year? 
I can't wait for February 20th. I can't wait to be able to tell people where they can buy my book. I'm just going to be so annoyingly happy through this whole process.

What are your writing goals for this New Year? 
I'm already half way through writing the first draft of the sequel to The Door Keeper. So, I'm really hoping to finish writing it and attempt to have it out before next Christmas...fingers crossed!

What are you currently reading? 
I'm super excited to be starting the Harry Potter series this month. Don't judge! Better late than never, right?! 

The Door Keeper

Adventure. Love. Destiny. 

Single mom Eden Saunders has learned that tragedy is simply a part of life. Her mother died during childbirth, and her husband was killed just three years after they married. On a journey to discover where she comes from, Eden inherits the key to unlocking new worlds from her deceased mother—including the world that should have been her home. The only thing stopping her from exploring them is the fear of leaving her daughter behind. Caught up in the circle of legacy, Eden discovers the mother-daughter bond that even death cannot break.

Click here or visit Royal James Publishing’s Facebook page to enter to win a signed copy of, The Door Keeper by Steen Jones and a $20 Amazon gift card.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Cathy Liggett & N.J. Donner | New Novel News

The Sister's of Sugarcreek
 by Cathy Liggett

Published: February 1, 2017
Publisher: Tyndale House
Purchase: The Sisters of Sugarcreek

Many lives were changed the day a fire burned down Faith Community Church, devastating the small town of Sugarcreek, Ohio.



Now a young Amish widow, Lydia Gruber faces an uncertain future. Her husband, a craftsman and volunteer firefighter, always took care of everything, keeping her isolated from others in their community. Without anyone or any skills, how will she survive?



With the death of her beloved aunt Rose in the fire, single mom Jessica Holtz inherits Rose’s Knit One Quilt Too cottage. Though determined to keep the shop open in her aunt’s memory, she doesn’t know the first thing about knitting and quilting and begins to see her aunt’s dream slip through her fingers.



When Liz Cannon lost her dear friend Rose, she also lost her partner in the Secret Stitches Society—the name they gave themselves while delivering gifts of hope to troubled folks in the dark of night. Liz convinces Jessica to keep the anonymous society going, despite the younger women’s inadequacy with knitting and sewing needles. But soon Liz has problems of her own as the life she has rebuilt for herself begins to crumble again.



When Liz and Jessica choose Lydia for their first mission, the three women cross paths and form an unlikely friendship in the aftermath of tragedy. As they walk together through triumph and heartbreak—through grief and new chances at love—they begin to discover that with friends by your side, a stitch of hope can be found anywhere.

Get to know Cathy...

If you're main character celebrated Halloween, what would they dress up as?

There are 3 women in Sisters:

Lydia - since she's Amish, I think she should dress up as an Englischer

Liz - as Julia Child (she loooves to cook!)

Jessica - something ghoulish and scary for this single mom because believe it or not, in the book Jessica, her son Cole, and former best friend (soon to be more than that) Derek go to the school's Halloween Creepy Carnival and Derek reminds her how when they were kids she'd dress up in a scary costume and she'd jump out from behind things and try to scare him.

“I think she was trying to scare me away,” Derek said in a side whisper to Cole.
 

“Mommy tried to scare you?” Her son looked confused.
 

“Yeah, but I guess it never worked. I’m still here.” He chuckled at his own joke.
 

“I wasn’t trying to scare you away—it was just . . . you never seemed to mind.”
 

Which was the truth. Whereas other friends of hers back then might’ve thought she was weird, or uncool, and not understood she was just having fun, Derek simply accepted everything about her. Always. 

What's your favorite chore?
I'd say mowing the grass because it's not year round like laundry, you get to be by yourself and think, and sometimes when I'm out there getting all dusty and sweaty, I like to pretend that I'm a farmer's wife instead of a happily married suburbanite.

What are the names of your pets?
We have a boxer mix named Chaz that we rescued when she was one and a half years old. Yes, SHE. I personally don't think of Chaz as a female name (is it?), but we didn't want to change it and possibly confuse her, so we stuck with it.

Connect with Cathy: http://www.cathyliggett.com/

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The Blue Moon Narthex
by N. J. Donner

Published: February 7, 2017
Publisher: Steel Pages Press, LLC
Purchase: The Blue Moon Narthex


--> World War I is over. While the world rejoices, the battle to balance good and bad Karmanic energy rages on invisible to most people. Three teens find themselves hurtled across space and time into this conflict.

Many books have been written about the battle between good and evil, about dark forces trying to take control of the earth. What if there was a secret legion working to maintain the balance of good and bad in the world? What if it took such a legion of people to balance the Karma of the universe?

As young adults come of age and seek to find their places, and parents strive to instill values of thinking of others and working for the good of society, they need heroes they can look up to. Cole, Sophie and Britten are apparently normal teens. YA readers ready for new characters to love and big adventures to keep them turning pages, will connect with the three friends as they set out to solve mysteries left in the wake of train wreck and discover their part in the bigger story.

Get to know N. J....
 
If your book became a movie, who would you cast for your main characters?
I don’t have perfect actors that fit the main characters, but I picture very specific actors in some of the supporting roles:

Norm: Steve Bushemi. He’s skinny and goofy, but his range as an actor is vast.
Nigel Chabbet: Christoph Waltz. The best bad guy in the history of movies.
Maximus Dalton (Max): Michael Caine. Caine carries an air of wisdom and could portray a humble leader.

Favorite season? 
Has to be spring. My family and I are big campers and outdoorsy people. The winter in Nebraska gets long and when it does finally warm up, we’re very excited to get out and go on adventures.  
 
If your main characters were animals, what would they be?
Not too many people know, but the three main characters are based on my three kids. How they act and who they are in the story is based on their personalities. I let them answer this one.

Cole: He wants to be a panda
Sophie: She wants to be a white tiger.
Britten: He wants to be a monkey

I’m not sure if these portray the characters in The Blue Moon Narthex exactly, but these are their favorite animals.

Cats or dogs or both? 
That is hard to answer. Right now, my family has a German Shepard (Elka), a yellow lab (Gunner), and crazy cat (Cooper). The newest member of our family is a bearded dragon (Alibaster). You could say all animals, since we’re on the verge of starting our own domestic animal zoo.

Connect with N.J.: https://www.facebook.com/njdonner/

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