Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Fay Lamb {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Fay...

Fay Lamb’s emotionally charged stories remind the reader that God is always in the details. Fay has contracted with Write Integrity Press for three series. Stalking Willow and Better than Revenge, Books 1 and 2 in the Amazing Grace romantic suspense series are currently available for purchase. Charisse the first release in her The Ties That Bind contemporary romance series has been released. Fay has also collaborated on three romance novellas: The Christmas Three Treasure Hunt, A Ruby Christmas, and the newest A Dozen Apologies. Her adventurous spirit has taken her into the realm of non-fiction with The Art of Characterization: How to Use the Elements of Storytelling to Connect Readers to an Unforgettable Cast.

Future Write Integrity Press releases from Fay are: Everybody’s Broken and Frozen Notes, Books 3 and 4 of Amazing Grace and Libby, Hope and Delilah, Books 2 through 4 from The Ties that Bind. Also, look for Book 1 in Fay’s Serenity Key series entitled Storms in Serenity.

How to connect with Fay...

Blogs: On the Ledge, Inner Source, and the Tactical Editor
Connect with her on Goodreads
Facebook: personal Facebook page | Facebook Author page | The Tactical Editor (Facebook page)
Follow her:Twitter
Purchase her books here

Author Interview | Fay Lamb

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I started writing stories as soon as I realized letters made words and words made sentences. Of course, I had to learn to write those letters, but before then I told myself stories. I put the kids in the neighborhood in plays. In high school, I was known as the girl who writes.

...I believe the Lord keeps me writing. He did take it away from me for a while several years back, but when He allowed me to pick it up again, I had a new understanding of my Boss and just Who I worked for, and it wasn’t me, and it isn’t the readers. I just get the pleasure of working for Him, and I hope that my readers feel they are reaping the benefits as well.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?
...Yes, without a doubt, that novel would be Storms in Serenity, which has a tentative release date for next month.

...Storms, as my editor and I call it, is actually my life’s work. Thirty-five years and some 115,000 words went into the modern-day retelling of the aftermath of David’s sin with Bathsheba. The characters that fill the pages grew up with me. I used Storms to hone my writing skills, to learn the elements of storytelling. I didn’t think it would get published, but my editor thought differently, and I’m praising the Lord for it.

...Libby, my newest release, is another favorite. Libby entered the first book in the series, Charisse, and she took me by surprise. I’d written her as a tentative mouse, but Libby turned out to be able to hold her own.

What was the hardest thing about publishing?
...Finding someone to believe in me the way I believed in myself. Most authors, published or unpublished, know that believing in ourselves is a personal rollercoaster ride. One day you feel as if you have it altogether. The next day, you doubt your abilities. Learning that the truth about our abilities lies somewhere in between the two extremes was very hard for me.

The easiest?
...The answer to this surprises even me. I’m an introvert by choice, but I love working with authors. I love teaching. I love sharing my journey. I love making new friends, and writing has opened those doors for me. 

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why are you/did you write it? Libby is my current release.
...Libby Overstreet can’t see herself as anything but shy and socially awkward. She’s nearing thirty, and she’s never even been on a date. Then she meets the man of her dreams, but Libby knows he would never be interested in a wallflower like her. All she wants to do is to buy that garden nursery on the outskirts of town and settle down with the life she has always dreamed about.

...Evan Carter has been watching the sweet woman in the coffee shop for weeks when his friend tells him that the object of his affection plans to buy a garden nursery and needs Evan’s expertise as an architect/contractor.

...When they meet, Libby is more enamored of Evan and even more convinced that he would never look at her as anything but a friend. However, that’s far from the truth. Evan would love to get to know the innocent beauty God has placed in this path. Trouble is, he fears that a lovely flower like Libby will wilt under the sins of his past, and he’ll do everything in his power to keep that from happening.

Do you have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?
...Libby is my favorite character in the story. I tell everyone that she, more than any of my other characters, is me. Of course, I’m not as kind, sweet, and evangelistic and Libby, who can’t see that in herself.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...God tells us that we are wondrously made. This is a take-away that I’m still learning, and I want my readers to realize that they are not a good judge of themselves. How often do people give us compliments, and we wave them off? I’ve found that people don’t throw compliments around. Something about you must resound for them to toss one at you. Accepting a sincere compliment isn’t pride. I’m beginning to realize that when someone says something nice about me, whether it concerns what I’m wearing or what I’m doing, this is God’s way of impressing us with the truth of Psalm 139:14. The proper response to a compliment should be, “Thank you” to the person and “praise You” to the Lord because as that verse says, God doesn’t make junk.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...I get inspiration from locations and also from watching an actor/actress in a role. With Storms, the characters had long lived in my imagination. I can still tell you which actresses and actors I used to build each character. Of course, I wouldn’t do that because, well, the actors have aged, and so have I, but the characters are all eternally younger than me. The characters were with me a long time with no real place to call home. Then I visited a small Florida fishing town, and Serenity Key, Florida was born—and populated.

...With my Amazing Grace series, the location came first. I love the mountains of Western North Carolina, and I decided to create a few fictional towns like Amazing Grace, Ascension, and Abundance. The characters already lived or they were heading there. I just had to give them a story to show. 

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I write first to share a message. That message comes out in many different ways, but all of my stories share with the reader the truth of Romans 8:28, which at its basic meaning tells us that God is in the details—all of the details—of our lives. We wonder how even the worst of events can work together for good, and sometimes we scream to know why God would do what He does. I’ve done that in the past. Sometimes I still do, but then I realized that God, Himself, lived out this verse. John 3:16 says it all. God gave His only begotten son. Jesus, the son of God—very God—died on a cross. A hideous death He didn’t deserve, but in Jesus death on the cross I am blessed. All things do work for good.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Study the craft of writing. Success comes overnight to very few people. There’s a reason God has you waiting. Don’t second guess Him. Write, submit, study, and write some more. Wherever or however you publish, realize that in the Christian writing/publishing industry, more than any other such industry, what we produce affects others. Make sure it does so for the better.

Have you ever attended a writer’s conference? If so, which one(s) and what were most helpful about it?
...I’ve attended the American Christian Fiction Writers’ (ACFW) national conference a few times. I’ve also attended the Florida Christian Writer’s Conference as both attendee and faculty, and the Christian Author’s Guild, Catch the Wave Conference in Atlanta as faculty. Conferences are great for encouragement and learning, and they are a great way for writers to learn that the person hiding behind their computer might not be so strange after all.

..I’m praying about attending the Blue Ridge Christian Writers’ Conference this year. I’ve heard only great things about it.


What’s your favorite green food? (In honor of St. Patrick’s Day of course!)
...You know that little green strip in the middle of an Andes chocolate mint? That would be my favorite.

If you could travel to any location and stay there for one month (probably spending most of the time writing) where would you go?
...I do this on a regular basis. I’m lucky enough to have a place in the mountains where I can go and hang out to write and to take daily walks around the lake. I’m trying to convince my husband, though, that we also need a place on my real life Serenity Key. I have long dreamed of living there and looking out at the Gulf of Mexico for my every day inspiration.


Thank you so much for sharing with us today Fay! I love that you are pursuing the publishing of a novel you never thought would be published! I think it just goes to show how important it is for us writers to write what's on our hearts! And your inspiration is wonderful - I'd say you need a place on Serenity Key... ;)

Monday, March 24, 2014

5 Things I learned from 1 star reviews name is Emilie and last week I spent almost 45 minutes reading 1 star reviews on Amazon.

Yes, you read that right. I spent almost and hour on Amazon reading 1 star reviews. At this point you may be questioning my use of free time OR wondering why I would do this (or maybe both). At first, I was doing a little reconnaissance on some books I was interested in purchasing. I'm a review-reader for most products so I thought, Why not for books too?

Now, some of you authors out there may be thinking, "Don't judge my book by the reviews!" I agree, and I usually don't. But, it is helpful to see what others say. I'll assure you that I'm a fair review-reader. I don't only look at reviews when choosing a book but several factors (which will be a whole different post to come later). Anyway, back to the 1 stars.

I was reading through various reviews in all levels (1-5 starts) and, to be honest, the 1 star reviews were the most entertaining things! I started to notice some patterns emerge as I read them (I was reading 1 stars for multiple books, not just one). I started to take note when I noticed a few things mentioned several times by different reviewers and thought, This stuff is so helpful! And thus, this post was formed. I hope it's helpful!

||5 Things I learned about writing from 1 star reviews||

1. Don't be cliche or predictable
One of the main things people point out in their reviews is whether or not the story was cliche or predictable. Readers want something new and fresh--something that will take their breath away with creativity unexpected elements. No matter the genre, they want to be surprised. As a reader, I can completely relate to this. As a writer, I know how difficult it is. You start to think about that old adage, "There's nothing new under the sun", and wonder how you could ever come up with a completely new idea. I believe it's possible! We are all unique with our own special creative spice (as I like to call it). The trick is taking time to figure out what that looks like. I think the answer is having a good plot (with unexpected twists) and creating solid (and believable) characters.
Taken from Pinterest

2. Go deeper
Readers just aren't satisfied with the typical motivations. She's in love with. He thinks she's attractive. The bad guy wants to "win". Those may be true of your characters, but readers want something deeper, something that they can identify with. A great novel doesn't portray the perfect human, it shows the hero/heroin's flaws and deepest desires that motivate them in all of their actions (especially the bad decisions they make). It's time for writers (myself included) to dig deeper into our characters in a way that still allows readers to identify with them, but isn't afraid to make them genuine, flawed people. 

3. Make it believable/realistic
This goes hand in hand with number 2. Are your characters believable? Is the driving force of the plot realistic? This can be as simple as how a scene plays out or as complicated as the driving motivation of the hero.
Some tips for this:

Scenes: Make sure they could actually happen the way you describe them! This is one of my pet peeves as a reader. I am such a visual person that, as I'm following along in the story, I'm picturing how the scene is playing out. I will "see" if it isn't possible.
{See my post about word photography on Melissa Tagg's blog here}

Plots: This is infinitely more difficult than a scene because it traces back to the basic foundation of your novel. Is that believable? I have often found myself working under the guise of thinking, "It's Christian fiction, I can get away with an element of surreal events" just because God is involved. I'd say yes and no to this. I've read great novels that include an element of the Lord's interaction (check out Rachel Hauck's books) but at the same time that doesn't mean you can leave large gaps in logic. I personally believe God works in logical ways as well as the miraculous. To make your novel-life believable, apply those same principles. 

Taken from Pinterest
4. Make it good
Seems like a no-brainer, right? It's not like you're trying to write poorly, but for this lesson I'd say the key here is to take your time. Too many people publish before they are ready. It's extremely easy to get a book up on Amazon now and too many authors are jumping ahead to publishing an ebook when they should take additional time to make sure it's publish-ready.

Here are a few things to think through before taking the next step to publishing:
  • How much critique has my novel/work had? 
  • Has it been edited critically or just casually?
  • Am I ready to pursue writing actively (think about social media, seeking reviewers, and interviews)
  • Have I invested time in my novel/work to make it good? Is it the best work I can put out on the market at this point in my writing career. 
These are though questions, but ask them for the sake of growing and producing the best product you can at this point in your career.

5. You can't please everyone 
This shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone, but you can't please everyone. No matter what, there will be those that love to tear about even the best of books. I think the best way to handle those reivews (or critiques) is to ask 2 questions:

1) What was the motivation for this review/critique?
This helps establish if someone just had an axe to grind with you (for no specific reason even) which will color their review. Establishes how seriously you should take their comments.

2) Is there anything of substance or truth in this review/critique?
Look for the nuggets of truth nestled among the sharp thorns of harsh words. Could you revise your dialogue? Are your characters shallow? Did you plot require leaps of logic? If so, take these things into account for your next novel and move on in confidence!
Taken from Pinterest

Let's face it - getting a bad review or harsh critique is painful! The best thing you can do about it is look for the positive and press on.

**Just so you know this is not a complete list. I just pulled elements from various, random reviews. Some 1 star reviews are terrible and just plain mean. I tried to glean from the ones who appeared to be writing a helpful review, not something out of spite or anger.

Have you received a 1 star review or harsh critique? If so, did you learn anything from it? How did you cope with it?

Friday, March 21, 2014

Why I Read and Six Reasons Why You Should Too

This is my follow up to my previous post: "Why I Write and Six Reasons Why You Should Too".

If you're a writer I'm sure you've heard the phrase, "Write what you read" (or something close to this). I agree...but not 100% with this statement. It's similar to the idea of writing what you know. But what fun would it be if I only wrote about my personal experiences?

I went to the store today....
I baked cookies last night...
I ran 6 miles this afternoon...


BUT, if I were to write about things I'd like to know more about, that could be interesting!

This all ties into reading because I believe books offer just that type of experience. A well written novel will transport you to a new place and a new experience. A good book can draw images from thin air creating a new world for you to explore - all within the comforts of your own home or a local coffee shop. [It's important to note that I believe coffee and books--or writing--go hand in hand here ;)]

With this in mind, here are my reasons for why I think you should read. I don't care if it's a magazine or a thousand page novel - I will still argue you should be reading.

|| Six reasons why I think you should read ||

1. Reading is good for your brain
There have been many studies done and articles written on the fact that reading is, in fact, good for your brain. You are making connections from processing your thoughts from the words on the page to your imagination and creating connections and even mental images based on what you read. That's amazing and it's all from reading.

2. Reading allows you to experience things you normally wouldn't
Have you ever stopped to think how amazing it is that we have access to so much information in today's technological age? We can read anything, anywhere, at any time about pretty much any subject we could ever want to know about. That's the beauty of reading! It extends the knowledge you have that is gained only from your surroundings to push beyond the boundaries of your current life. I think of reading Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen and learning about life in Bath in the 1800s and how I can gain a view (albeit fictional) of what that was like. Nothing else, short of a time machine, could give me that experience.

3. Reading expands your vocabulary 
When I was younger, I remember reading and often having to ask what words meant. As I grew older, the words became common to me and I was able to enjoy them instead of being caught by their length or a definition I didn't know. Now, I enjoy it when I come across a word I'm unfamiliar with. I immediately open the dictionary app on my phone and find out what the challenging word means. When you read, you are always challenged to learn new things and new words.

4. Reading is a discipline
It's not always easy to sit down and read--especially if it's a textbook. Some of the longest nights I experienced in college where those where I had hundreds of pages to read for class the next day. Now, I am able to use my free time to read what I want, but it's still a challenge sometimes. I have books I want to read because I know I'll learn from them, but it's a discipline for me to set aside the time to do that. This discipline, if applied correctly, can overflow into other areas of my life as well, teaching me to be responsible with my time.

5. Reading is relaxing 
There is nothing better than settling down with a great novel right before bed. Suddenly, the stress of the day melts off as I'm lost in a fictional world. The only problem here is when I get stuck in a crucial part and find myself staying up much later than planned ;)

6. Reading is fun!
Yes, I stole this from my previous post, but it is just as true here as it was there. Reading is captivating, enchanting, and entertaining, but most of all it is fun. I love getting lost in a book and, when I've finally put it down again, feeling as if I've lost touch with close friends. Good writing can do that, and makes the experience completely worth it.

Taken from Pinterest
Some of this I'm sure you already knew, but have you stopped to take time to think about why you read? Or maybe why you don't? In our world today, life is constantly busy. We have more resources than any other time before us and yet we have less time with which to enjoy those resources. I hope that, as hardcover books go by the wayside and Kindles take their place, we will not forsake the act of reading for what it truly is: something beautiful.

***What about you? Do you enjoy reading? What do you like to read? Why do you like reading?***

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Nike Chillemi {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Nike...

Like so many writers, Nike Chillemi started writing at a very young age. She still has the Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned (colored might be more accurate) as a little girl about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes her bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better.

Nike is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and is its Chairman, a reader's choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She writes book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She was an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category and a judge in the 2011 and 2012 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories. Her four novel Sanctuary Point series, set in the mid-1940s has won awards and garnered critical acclaim. Her new contemporary whodunit, HARMFUL INTENT, is scheduled to release in the spring of 2014.

She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), Christian Indie Novelists (CHIN) and the Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers (Ning).

How to connect with Nike...


Author Interview | Nike

You and Writing

Who is one of your favorite authors and why?
...I have a list of authors who influenced me. The first is Robert Liparulo who wrote a villain that blew me away in COMES A HORSEMAN. When J. Mark Bertrand started his Roland March series, I thought, finally, a gritty Christian detective series I can't put down. Nancy Mehl sometimes takes my breath away with the beauty of her writing, all the while managing to pull me into a suspense novel. In a similar way Sibella Giorello pulls me in with the spunk and tenacity of her female main characters.
Share a writing-related milestone with us. 
...When I got the contract with Desert Breeze Publications for my debut novel, BURNING HEARTS (arson/murder and romance), I could hardly believe it because I was also offered a contract for the entire four book Sanctuary Point series. That series went on to garner critical acclaim and win awards.

How do you balance your time between writing and other actives? Any helpful tips, tricks, or suggestions?
...I don't eat, breathe, or sleep.
...No, no… but seriously, I try to schedule my time and when I can successfully do that, I'm nearly jubilant. That is happy time for me. But then the washing machine will need repair, or we'll have yet another snow storm. Snow must be shoveled and the car is stuck on the ice, or the like and I'm scrambling to keep up with all my writing/publishing obligations.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book.
...I'm actually in pre-promotion mode for my next book now. I don't have a cover, don't have a release date yet. The approximate launch for HARMFUL INTENT is April 15th.
...My heroine, Veronica "Ronnie" Ingels, has not had an easy time of it. Her stockbroker father was a habitual philanderer who left her mother when Ronnie was in high school and hid his wealth so he wouldn't have to continue paying the amount of alimony and child support the court had rightly stipulated. Ronnie was forced to leave the college she had been attending in Texas, return home, get a job, and take classes at the local community college. What I love about Ronnie is she is not a complainer. However, with marital betrayal running in her family, she can't understand why she's so shocked when her husband of one year cheats on her. The real shock is his murder with the local lawman pegging her as the prime suspect.

Who is your favorite character and why?
...Ronnie is my favorite character. She's a klutz, socially inept, but she's also persistent. She became a Brooklyn private investigator, thinking she can right some wrongs in the Big Apple. Then she finds her husband Mark has wronged her. She flies to Abilene, TX where Mark's murder turns her into a suspect as far as Deputy Dawson Hughes is concerned. Ronnie is given shelter under the wings of Hoot Dagney, owner of the Chuck Wagon diner and his waitress Bertha. These two are quirky, humorous characters who are Christians and who show Ronnie what a true love walk is. Ronnie stays in Texas to find the killer and clear her name, and is beset on all sides by culture shock. The pace is so much slower in Texas than in Brooklyn, she gets to ride a mule and spends time around horses and paddocks. She eats skillet fried mac 'n cheese. I love how she takes everything in stride and with a sense of humor. Humor always plays an important role in my whodunits.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...An important theme in the novel is how parental irresponsibility (sin) negatively impacts children, even into adulthood. Ronnie is socially insecure because of the feelings she still harbors (shame and guilt) due to her dad's repeated infidelity toward her mom. In fact she married a man (the murder victim in the story) similar to her dad, in that Mark cheated on her. That mistake only deepens her feelings of insecurity. I feel our culture is adrift and has to be reminded of the importance of home and family.


Favorite writing snack
...I have to have a mug of hot, black tea with a splash of milk nearby when I write. I love tea, particularly an English-type blend. I'm trying to stay away from sugary and fatty snacks. I've lost 25 pounds cutting way, way down on starch and eliminating processed foods as much as possible. I want to keep losing at a steady, reasoned pace until I reach my goal.
If you could go anywhere in the world for one month (for free) where would it be and why?
...I'd take my bathing suit, flip-flops, lap-top and go to a remote island in the Florida Keys. Then I'd write a murder mystery set on that key. Of course, I'd force myself to take breaks from writing to swim, crash in a lounge chair on the beach or at a pool (with a good murder mystery written by a fav author), and go out for candlelight seafood dinners with my husband. It's a dirty job, but I feel I'd have to volunteer to do it just to spare others. (LOL)

Thank you so much for being my guest today on {Writer Wednesday}! I am beginning to see the benefits to having a schedule for writing. It may take sacrifices but all good tings in life do! Your next book sounds exciting! Love the strong female characters in your novels and the humor present! I also agree with you that the concept of generational sin isn't thought of often enough and unfortunately plays a larger role in life than we often realize. And a bit congratulations on the loss of 25 pounds! That's wonderful and I hope that you do get that dream month vacation (hopefully paid for too hehe).

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Why I Write and Six Reasons Why You Should Too

For those of you who are writers, I probably don't need to convince you to write... I'm sure you do this already. But, if you don't, you should. And for those of you who may not enjoy writing, I'd still highly recommend you start writing in your spare time. That may be a journal or a note card or maybe you finally put words to paper about a great idea you had once. Whatever it maybe - I implore you to write and I'll tell you why...

||Six reasons why I think you should write||

1. Writing is a release 
There are so many things we've left unsaid. So many times we meant to convey a feeling or idea and then found ourselves too shy or angry or confused to get those feelings out. Writing is a fantastic release for this. For those aspiring to write fiction, the process of writing can release a lot of creativity in a productive way as you work toward the goal of crafting a story. Others can find that writing out emotions can help negate the negative affects of having said something you never meant to or the fond times of re-reading things like the reasons you fell in love with your significant other.

2. Writing stimulates imagination
I look into the distance and all I see is possibility. I see a love story forming, an unlikely hero emerging, or the happy ending to a devastating tale. Not all people think like this, I understand that, but writing can help to foster this type of imagination. If you're more of a practical thinker, writing can help you explore imaginative alternatives to practical ideas.

3. Writing helps create discipline
Sitting down to write in a journal or on a book every day is difficult! A great way to keep yourself accountable is to tell others what you are trying to do. For me, that's announcing to my friends that I am working on a book knowing they will ask me how its going. Per Google, it takes an average of 66 days to from a habit so make sure you stick it out!

4. Writing bridges the gap 
When you take the time to write things down - whether they are emotions or just daily events - you can tend to see them more clearly than if you allow them to stay trapped in your mind. This happens for me with a story. I'll see it in a hazy, undefined plot arc but once I start to write it out the reality of it becomes clear. Also though, I tend to see patterns in my own emotions or though processes when I journal out how I'm feeling. Writing can give clarity to issues and understanding to feelings at times.

5. Writing creates permanence 
I will never forget the beauty of holding the typed pages of my grandmother's story in my hands after she passed away (you can read a tribute post about her here). She has left her legacy not only in my memory, but in my favorite form of experience - her writing! I can think of nothing better to leave those I love than my writing.

6. Writing is fun 
Some of you will probably not (initially at least) agree with me here, but writing can be fun!!! Just think of the power of words on a page. We each have our own unique experiences to lend to our story telling and, though the process can be difficult, the end result (published or not) is something we have created! Laugh at your silly journal entries from a year ago, giggle at your silly character from your novel years back, or smile as you read your own heartfelt words written out of the creativity of your own mind. No matter what you write or who you write it for, make sure you enjoy the process!

From Pinterest

Remember: Don't get caught up in being perfect and do take time to write.

***What about you? Do you enjoy writing? What do you like to write?***

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Writing Sisters {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about The Sisters...

-->The Writing Sisters, Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers, were born into a writing family, and began critiquing manuscripts at an early age for their mother, Newbery winner Betsy Byars. They went on to become authors of more than thirty-five children’s novels. Their first book for adults is The Shepherd’s Song, Howard Books, March 2014.
How to connect with The Sisters...

Purchase their book here:The Shepherd's Song: A Story of Second Chances
Author Interview | The Writing Sisters

The Sisters and Writing

Tell us a little bit about "The Writing Sisters": How did you both start writing?
...We are sisters who grew up with a mother who was a writer. As children, we read our mother’s manuscripts but didn’t write our own books until we were adults. Children’s books were the way we both started. Our kids were young and we both wrote books during their naptime. We wrote individually and together for twenty years.

...After years of writing solo we teamed up with Mom to write four children’s books. Collaboration was fun and we all had a great time together. We wrote best at the beach or on weekends away in the mountains! When our mother retired from writing we decided to pray about what was next for us. Faith is important to both of us and we decided to dedicate our writing to God in whatever way He would use us. The result was that our career took a turn taking us from secular publishing to Christian, from children’s books to adults. Following God is always an adventure!

Their Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book. Why did you write it?
...The Shepherd’s Song is the story of a woman who, like a lot of us, wonders if her life has mattered. She writes out Psalm 23 for her son and is in a car accident later that day. As she is rushed to the hospital she prays, “Let my life count.” Her copy of the psalm then begins a journey around the world changing the lives of twelve different people.

...The idea for The Shepherd’s Song began in a small coffee shop in Madison, Georgia, where we meet every week to write. That morning we prayed for God to reveal our next writing project. Up till that time we had written children’s books individually and together and we thought we had come to the coffee shop to plan our next children’s book. Betsy had read the 23rd Psalm that morning in her quiet time and it was on our minds that day. We had both committed our writing to God and began to think the Psalm would be a good subject for a book. The problem was we couldn’t see it as a children’s book. As children’s writers it was hard to imagine writing a book that was longer than 64 pages! We knew that we could only do it with God leading us. The more we talked about the idea the more excited we became and we finished drafts of the first two stories that day.

Do you ladies each have a favorite character in this work? If so, why?

...Our main character Kate reflects a part of us and all people who at some point ask the question, “Has my life mattered?” We could both relate to her question and at different points in our life wondered if our lives had mattered.

Betsy: I relate to Kate the most when I think of the years when my sons left home to start their own lives. It was a time when I had been a mother for so many years and suddenly I was not needed in that role the same way. My life would become very full again as God blessed me with work but those were the times when I asked God to “let my life count” like Kate does in the book.

Laurie: As I have grown through different stages of life my definition of success has changed. Through college, parenting, empty nest my roles have been redefined again and again. Through faith my life has found meaning and eternal significance. More and more I realize how much the small things that we do matter in this life and beyond.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...There are so many powerful themes that flow from the twenty-third Psalm: God’s deep love and care for us and His protection and blessing. The idea of second chances permeates the book. God is constantly seeking us and restoring us. As we read scripture we are continually called into second chances, to start over again, to heal, to restore relationships, to begin to know God. No matter what has happened in our lives or what we have done, God is always ready to welcome us back into the fold. We hope that readers will take-away a fresh understanding of how much God loves them and seeks to have a relationship with them.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...Characters come from all different places. Physical traits can come from someone we know, or a stranger we spot on the street. Personality traits can also come from people we knew when we were children, or someone we read about in the paper. And sometimes characters come straight out of our heads with no connection to anyone. The feelings of the characters come from our own experiences. Grief, pain, love, shame, fear all are in some way and at different levels common experiences for everyone. 

When you write, what is the overall intention with your stories?
...When we decided that we were being called to write for God we took time to pray and reflect on what exactly we were called to do. Psalm 78:4 kept coming to us and we claimed it as our mission statement.
I will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the Lord.
...We thought that meant children at first but as we worked together and followed the ideas that came we began to see this verse in a broader sense. The next generation is also a generation of women and men. We felt that God prepared us to use our ability to write fiction to show the power of His Word in the lives of people.

Do you ladies have any advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?

...If you want to write, write. Don’t give up and don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. So many great writers give up at the first rejection. Rejection is a part of the experience and a way that God refines our work. Writing is a lifetime’s work and requires perseverance.

The Sisters

Have either of you ever attended a writer’s conference? If so, which one(s) and what were most helpful about it?
...We when decided to write for God we began to look for a Christian writing conference and found ACFW. Our first conference scared us to death - so many people. We quickly felt at home and made fast friends there. The atmosphere was different than conferences we had attended in the past. There was a feeling of love and grace and no sense of competition. That first conference in St Louis, we learned so much about writing and publishing in the Christian marketplace. Our second ACFW conference in Dallas was where we connected with Greg Johnson who became our agent. Most helpful was the chance to be in an environment where God was working - those divine encounters were what made the difference.

What’s your favorite green food? (In honor of St. Patrick’s Day of course!)

Betsy: Avocado - Everything is better with avocado on it. Just had a BLT with avocado at the OK Cafe.

Laurie: Fresh spinach in a Smoothie, I have one every morning.

If you could travel to any location and stay there for one month (probably spending most of the time writing) where would you go?
...We write best at the beach or mountains. There’s nothing like getting away and writing somewhere beautiful. We might write even better in a small cottage in Tuscany. Coffee and scones each morning on the veranda overlooking a sunflower field would give us inspiration. Long walks in the day would be necessary for developing the ideas. A great Italian dinner could top off the day with time to mull over the writing. When do we leave?
Thank you ladies so much for a wonderful interview. My readers got 'lucky' today and received two for one! I love your combined story - how wonderful to have writing introduced to you at a very early age. I love the verse that you mentioned--Psalm 78:4--and I think most Christian writers could carry this as a mantra for their writing. I'm excited to see where the Lord takes you both next - no doubt he has wonderful things in store. And if you're going to Tuscany...I'm coming with you ;)

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Princess Ever After by Rachel Hauck |RE:View

Sometimes, when I finish a book, I feel a small part of me has ended. Reading Princess Ever After, the second book in Rachel Hauck's The Royal Wedding Series, has left me feeling exactly this way.

Riding on the coattales of book one, Once Upon a Prince (my review found here) I found Princess Ever After to be just as delightful as is predecessor! How could I not love a book where an ordinary girl who likes to restore cars gets the opportunity of a lifetime to become a princess?

The fiery, red-headed princess-to-be, Regina, taunted me with her strong will and determined ideals. I found myself routing for her and, at times, frustrated with her resistance to something as amazing as being a princess (I mean come on, what girl doesn't want to be a princess!?). Then again, if faced with running a country, I'd probably be resistant as well! Then, of course, there was the handsome, ex-rugby playing Minister of Culture, Tanner Burkhardt with his own determined approach to life and secretive past. These two made for an explosive combination that set the stage for the perfect slow burning romance Hauck is so good at creating.

A talented author can create a world so real that you slip into it as if you'd always been a part of it. As if it were truth. I have found that to be true of Hauck no matter what she writes about. Upon entering the world of Brighton and now Hessenberg, my mind was awash with the colors, sounds, sights, and even smells of this delightful, fictional city. So much so, I wish it were real so that I could schedule a visit!

All in all, this was a world I did not want to leave. With both speed and hesitance I finished the book quickly, needing to know how it would all work out but not wanting the adventure to end. It leaves me looking forward to the third book rumored to be coming out in 2015 - which is much too far away in my opinion ;)

I highly recommend this book (in addition to book one) as excellent choices for lovers of southern fiction, romance, and the modern fairy tale! You will not be disappointed to hop in the car and ride out the adventure with Her Majesty, Princess Regina.  

Book Description:
*Description taken from Rachel Hauck's website

Regina Beswick never dreamed of faraway places. She’s happy with her life as a classic car mechanic and owner of a restoration shop.

But an unexpected visitor and the discovery of a fairytale, drawn by her great-grandma, causes Regina to wonder if she might be destined for something more.

Tanner Burkhardt, Minister of Culture for the Grand Duchy of Hessenberg, must convince the strong-willed Southerner, Miss Beswick, that she is his country’s long-lost princess. Failure could destroy his reputation and change his nation forever.

As Regina and Tanner face the challenges before them, neither are prepared for love to invade their hearts and change every thing they believe about themselves.

However, when a royal opponent nearly destroys Regina’s future, she must lean into God and trust He has sovereignly brought her to her true and final destiny.
Purchase the book here: Princess Ever After (Royal Wedding Series)

I received a free copy of this book for review purposes, but was under no obligation to read the book or 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.   

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Susan J. Reinhardt {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Susan...

Susan J. Reinhardt's publishing credits include her debut novel, The Moses Conspiracy, as well as devotionals, short articles, and contributions to anthologies. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers.

A widow, daughter, stepmom, and active church member, Susan resides in Pennsylvania. When not writing, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, couponing, gardening, and finding small treasures in antique shops.

How to connect with Susan...

Facebook Author Page:
Twitter: @susanjreinhardt
Purchase The Scent of Fear [here]

Author Interview | Susan J. Reinhardt

 Who is one of your favorite authors and why?

...Thanks for having me on your blog today, Emilie!

...It's hard to narrow it down, but Christy Award winning author, Cathy Gohlke, is one of my favorites. She's not afraid to tackle difficult subjects or give a realistic view of life in historical times. Yet she wraps it in a story with an element of romance to help the reader digest hard truths.

...Her writing skills and impeccable research make it obvious why she's won this prestigious award.

Tell us a little bit about your book.

...The Scent of Fear is the second book in a trilogy. While it's a stand-alone novel, readers have said The Moses Conspiracy gave them a good foundation for this story.

--> Here's the backcover copy for The Scent of Fear:
The Zimmermans enjoy the tenuous peace in the wake of their hair-raising year battling the New Patriots. Unexpected visitors once again throw them into turmoil.

Jim Kenneman, Director of National Security, masterminded the plan to break up a hate group ravaging the Christian community. Now, his enemies are out to eliminate him. Should he make a run for it or stick by his tried-and-true negotiating skills?

Monty Addison, a topnotch operative, carried out his assignment in Bird-in-Hand. A plot to destroy his boss sends him on a mission. Without agency sanction, it may cost him everything - his career, his family, and maybe his life.

Dr. Abby Weaver strives to save infants and toddlers in Holmes County, Ohio. When she meets two strangers, she can't get the tall, handsome one out of her mind. Will their paths intersect again or will dangerous times keep them apart?

What is one take away from your book that you hope readers identify with?

...I've read numerous account of seemingly hopeless situations that God turned into great victories. The Scent of Fear has a similar premise. The characters face insurmountable odds with courage. They stay the course no matter what difficulties come across their paths.

Thank you so much for being a guest on the blog again, Susan. I haven't read anything by Cathy Gohlke yet but, upon your recommendation, I'll definitely need to check out her writing! The Scent of Fear also sounds fantastic! I love your 'take away' for your books - I think one of the most amazing things Christian literature offers is a snapshot - a possibility even - of some of the wonderful things God can do (even if they just come from our writers minds).  I look forward to seeing more from you Susan!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

BIG News!

I'm going to preface this post by saying that the Lord does things in the most interesting, entertaining, and sometimes unexpected ways. I'm sure you can relate to this. Sometimes we think we have things figured out...then He comes along and does something completely different but no less amazing.

Several months ago, my dear roommate and friend, Jennifer, asked me to go with her to Dallas, TX for Thanksgiving. This sounds like a normal enough request, but the history leading up to this was a little different...

The Beginning

Jenn had been listening to podcasts produced by The Village Church in Texas for a long time. During the course of one sermon she was listening to, a gentleman was introduced at the end as the planting pastor to a new church in Washington D.C. My roommate, originally from the East Coast, has always loved D.C. and this church idea really captured her interest. I remember the next day that she came to me so excited about what she had heard the night before. She then told me she was going to contact the pastor to see how she could partner with them.

The next month or so, she got in contact with the pastor and his wife (Steven and Tiffany) and exchanged emails and phone calls with them. I wasn't sure where this was leading her, but I knew that she was excited and felt the Lord working so I was 100% on board.

[You can read more about her experience here]

That brings me back to Thanksgiving. As things progressed, Jenn seriously considered joining the D.C. church plant. When she was invited to share Thanksgiving with Steven and Tiffany and their two children, she came to me asking if I would join her.

I considered her offer for a week or so. In all honesty, my desire to have time to work on my NaNoWriMo book versus traveling to Texas with my friend was a tough decision. In the end though, I decided fellowship with my sister was more important than craving time for myself (and hey, I finished the book just fine anyway hehe). So off we flew, Texas bound with one suitcase to share between us and a lot of coffee in our systems. We had a blast traveling there and were excited to get to know this new family.

The Consideration

I remember sitting in the restaurant like it was yesterday. A nice secluded booth for good conversation, amazing fried rice, and a lot of questions. Our first lunch with Steven and Tiffany sparked something inside me. That was the first moment I felt it.

The draw to go.
The fear that followed.
The resistance to something new.
The excitement of adventure.

I experienced all of these emotions and more during that lunch. Steven shared his vision for the plant and as he described their heart for reaching the city of D.C. something stirred inside me. I'd considered moving for a little over a year but knew that a reason to move for me would mean having something to move to. That lunch gave me a lot of things to think about.

That night, back at our hotel room, I journaled my thoughts out and was struck by one statement that I could not get out of my head:

Don't live safe. 

Safe? What did that have to do with anything? But, the more I considered things, the more I realized that Santa Clarita, though a fantastic place to live, was extremely "safe" for me. Now, I'm not saying it's bad to live here or even that safe, but it does epitomize a safe life for me. The thing that remained to be seen was what it meant for me not to "live safe".

The Decision

I came home from a Thanksgiving spent with amazing people who already felt like family even though we'd just met, and asked myself the dreaded question: What about D.C.

I was assailed by doubts and questions: Should I move across the country to a city I've never visited? What would I do? How would I live? Where would the money come from? Could this small town girl live in a big city?

They were all valid questions, and natural progressions to my thoughts, but ultimately I knew that they clouded the issue. It wasn't about whether I could afford to move or whether I could find a job, it was about what I felt the Lord doing in my heart. I know, that's a tricky phrase to say - the idea of "feeling" being so subjective, but I knew that was part of my decision.

I had many conversations with my parents (who's opinions I hold very dear), close friends, and mentors in my life and then I made my decision. I remember the night vividly because I was driving down to Hollywood for a meeting and had just ended a phone call (on a hands free device of course!) with my parents. I explained that I'd made my decision and a peace fell over me. Right there, where Interstate 5 merges with the 170 reality hit me and I said it out loud:

I'm moving to D.C.

Yes, you read that right. I have decided to pack up everything I own and make the cross-country journey to Washington D.C. My roommate and I will be moving together at the end of July where we'll begin a whole new chapter in each of our lives.

Me, Jenn, Steven and Tiffany
It's exciting, scary, and exhilarating all at the same time! I can hardly believe it, but since I've made the decision, things that I've worried the most about have fallen into place. Those things that I can't plan on only act as a reminder that the Lord's plans will prevail and I must place my trust in a God who knows what I need far better than I ever could. I'm holding on to one of my favorite verses...
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6

I'm creating a newsletter that will go out about once every month. If you are interested in receiving updates on my journey to Washington D.C. and my part in Redeemer City Church, I'd love for you to sing up (you can use the form below). I promise I won't use your email to send you anything other than the newsletter - and I won't be flooding your inbox :)

Sign up for my newsletter here...
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< I'll be sharing more about my move soon and the exciting job I will be doing there in addition to the church I'll be a part of, but I wanted to share this new chapter with you, my dear readers and friends first. I covet your prayers for our team, for the church plant, and for my continued strength and wisdom. I've included a video below to give you an idea of the church.

Listen to the podcast Jenn heard [here]
Learn more about Redeemer Church D.C. [here]
Learn more about Steven and Tiffany's story [here]
Find out how you can partner with us and support the church [here]

Take a look at this video that explains a little more about the church plant...

Monday, March 3, 2014

Meet Me on the Dance Floor

***I'd like to introduce Jessica Everingham who will be guest posting on Thinking Thoughts today. Enjoy her insight into prayer and true success.***
God is far away, my life’s work is for nothing,
and I am all alone.

As a writer struggling to kick-start my career, self-doubt and discouraging thoughts come to visit me on a regular basis. This experience of waiting, along with some other disappointments, is testing my perseverance and faith.

This mental picture of prayer (below) came to me a little over six months ago, while I was at a prayer meeting for a youth outreach event. And it’s been refreshing water to a thirsty little flower:
The walls of my bedroom fall away as I step onto the dance floor. My pajamas have been replaced by the most elegant lace dress you can imagine. Fairy lights twinkle instead of stars. And He’s there. Waiting.

He is always there when I arrive - no matter what time of day or night. Dressed in His tux, hands outstretched, ready for me. Sometimes I’m so amazed that He wants to spend time with me, I fall on my face at the edge of the dance floor. I don’t move till He comes, picks me up and we start to dance. But other times, I fling myself at Him. He always catches me and holds me tight as I sob out my troubles. And then there are days when I just walk up to Him, step into His arms and we start to waltz.

We talk as we glide across the polished floor. I tell Him about my day, my worries, my relationships and my dreams. But the conversation isn’t the most important thing. Don’t get me wrong; I know He’s interested in what I’m saying. He smiles, He empathizes, He cries, and above all, He listens. And I’m definitely interested in what He has to say. But more than anything, I just want to be there. I just want Him to hold me. And He does.

My favorite time is when we’re slowly rocking; my face resting on his shoulder, His arms tight around me. It’s like His love soaks through my dress, my skin, into the core of my being. And it’s then that I remember.

I remember that it doesn’t matter if I’m a writer or not. It doesn’t matter if I’m successful, if I’m financially secure or if I’m popular. I don’t have to be where I expected in life; I don’t need to have everyone’s praise.

I am His. That’s all that counts. And when I remember that, that’s when my worries fade away and I have peace.
My prayer life hasn’t been the same since that day. God meets me on the dance floor all the time. I know that He’s never far away, and I no longer picture my prayers bouncing off the ceiling like ping pong balls. It’s such a relief.

Before the dance floor, I knew in my head that God listened, saw and cared about my life. And I tried to remember that. But it’s this experience of being stretched, hanging in there and meeting with God ‘personally’ on the dance floor, that’s helping me understand that truth in my heart.

On the dance floor I know that I’m talking to a Person, not a ceiling. I see the empathy in His face, feel the squeeze of His loving hug and remember the tremendous power that lies in those arms. The dance floor takes the focus off my problems, because when I’m there I’m confronted with the reality of Him: His endless love; His enormous power; His all-seeing wisdom.

And when I see that, I can’t even remember what I was worried about.

Jessica Everingham is a journalist, boarding school mistress, youth leader, aspiring author and blogger. She is passionate about writing articles, short stories and novels that peel back our subconscious attitudes and reveal God’s truth. She is busy editing the manuscript of her first novel, Open Your Eyes, and is beginning work on her second book.

Twitter: @JessEveringham
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