Thursday, October 31, 2013

NaNoWriMo Prep: 5 Keys to success while writing a novel in a month!

From Pinterest
Ah is almost that time again, isn't it?

The time when thousands of people will go without sleep, exist solely on coffee (and possibly chocolate), and type/pen/carve out 50,000 words formed into a story that, before November 1st, had no existence.

I live for National Novel Writing Month!

I am looking forward to NaNoWriMo (for short) starting November 1st, and have mixed emotions of anticipation and dread. I mean, talk about pressure. Here you are, deciding to put a huge sizable goal in place for all to see. But, seeing as how this is my 5th year, I can say with confidence that it's worth it!

I know there are all sorts of great blogs out there giving writerly advice for NaNoWriMo success, but I thought I'd like to add my humble voice from my own past experience.

NaNoWriMo - 5 Keys to success while writing a novel in a month!

1. Get a Buddy
This is my first year of having a dedicated NaNo buddy and I am so EXCITED! My dear friend Corrine and I have been planning and plotting for a few weeks now - all mental, mind you (oh, hehe, no pun intended!). The anticipation itself will probably be enough to hold is into Week 2. For my first piece of advice, I say find someone who loves to write, and rope them into attempting NaNoWriMo with you. Hey, the worst that could happen is you start a great novel and don't finish it in a month ;)

2. Tell the World 
That's right. Telling everyone and anyone creates an interesting thing. Accountability. Suddenly, every one of your friends who knows you're writing a novel acts as a personal motivator for you! There are good sides and bad sides to this (constant questions about your noveling progress when you're in a bit of a dry spot can be...less than helpful) but I think the good outweighs the bad. Use their excitement to propel you forward and keep you on track.

From Pinterest
3. When all else fails - fake it!
Yes. You read that right. I'm encouraging you to make things up! Oh wait - it's all made up ;) One of the hardest things about writing a novel is all of those pesky details. I often find myself wondering, "Hum, what type of gun would my killer use?" Or, "If she was thrown off a cliff here, would someone see her?" (Don't worry - these are all fictional situations people... I write romantic suspense!).

When you don't know something, skip it! I tend to write things in all caps like: "He took the GUN from her, its cold weight familiar in his hands." So that I know to come back to it. You can also highlight etc. If it's more of a lengthy section, I suggest keeping track of needed research areas in a separate document. Don't do the research during November - it will only slow you down. Just power through and fake it til you make it, as they say.

4. It's a stepping stone
I know you're out there. Those of you who are afraid. So afraid that the minute you put ink to paper (fingers to keyboard) you're idea will lose its creative luster. Do NOT allow those thoughts to stop you from writing. Sure, you're idea may be amazing and sure, you may mess it up by writing it out, but the best part about that is you now have something tangible to work with. Too many people allow this fear to cripple them, stopping them from actually writing, because they are afraid it wont match up with how brilliant it was in their mind. Here's news for you - if it's in your mind, no one can see it's brilliance. Think about that, then start writing November 1st (hehe...)

From Pinterest
5. Put it in perspective
If you've committed to writing a novel in a month, that is a HUGE accomplishment in and of itself. But let's be honest. You can't expect greatness from 30 days of haphazard writing in the midst of a crazy life. The scenario may change if you are a professional writer (please Lord, let me know what that feels like some day) but I'm assuming most of you, like me, have jobs to go to, friends to meet with, and maybe even children to take care of (bless you who do, because I can't image having to balance that with writing and a job just yet). We need to have a healthy perspective about what we are doing.

Writing takes work. To finish 50,000 words in only 30 days (1,667 words a day, mind you) is a huge accomplishment but it's just the tip of the ice berg. Rewriting, editing, critiques and revision are all part of the writing process, so at the end of the month, sit back and pat yourself on the back - you deserve it - but then get right back to it. Finish up the novel, then start back at the beginning again.

Are you joining me in writing a novel for NaNoWriMo? If so, please comment below so we can keep in communication (we'll be virtual writing buddies!). And, make sure you check out their amazing website to sign up and keep track of your progress.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Natalie Monk {Writer Wednesday}

So excited for today's interview with writer Natalie Monk! She's been gracious to do a GIVEAWAY as well so make sure you leave a comment below for Natalie! I'll announce the winner next Tuesday, November 5th.

A little bit about Natalie...

A farm girl from the time she could shimmy under a string of barbed wire, Natalie Monk writes Inspirational Historical Romance spiced with southern humor and small-town oddities. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, and winner of the 2013 NWHRWA Lone Star Contest in the Inspirational category.

Natalie is a homeschooled preacher’s kid from North Mississippi, a piano teacher, her church pianist, part-time portrait photographer, and certified wedding planner. She loves sweet tea, reading, girl talk (usually about books), porch swings, and watching old movies with her family.

How to connect with Natalie...


Writer Interview | Natalie Monk 

You & Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...My mom introduced me to Microsoft Word at 13 years old. I began three or four stories, wrote a couple chapters, and lost momentum. I found out why when I started studying the writing craft (what I didn’t know I didn’t know) two years ago.
...In praying about a career course, writing always came back as the major thing. Sometimes giving up looks so easy. And it is. But that’s when a writer has to decide what or Who he/she is writing for. My mom also keeps me going. She’s been my cheerleader and coach wrapped up in one.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why are you/did you write it?
Here’s a little blurb about Heart of Valor:
Former drunk Blane and Temperance activist Valor must ignore their mutual heartbreak and work together to care for his injured brother. While they struggle to save his farm from auction, make the town dry, and fight long dormant attraction, a killer watches with plans of his own.
...I was inspired to write Heart of Valor when my hometown divided over the issue of legalizing alcohol. I attended meetings for the Citizens for an Alcohol-Free County, which sparked my research of The Temperance Movement. I have seen the effects of alcohol abuse in people I love and desire to bring a message of hope and redemption through this story.
...Set in 1878 Mississippi as the farming community regains their feet after the Reconstruction Era, the story has recurring themes of alcoholism, domestic abuse, prohibition, and forgiveness.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...God’s love and redemption are always available to us. Most of the time it is our own pride or stubbornness that stands in the way of healing. We have to be willing to relinquish that pride in order to accept it.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...The initial spark for this story came from the Biblical parable of the Prodigal Son. My characters mostly come from imagination. To see my visual inspiration for the characters, visit my Character Inspiration Pinterest board.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...To bring them characters and situations that will let them know they are not alone, whether in laughter, love or loss. Most of all, I hope to draw readers to a deeper understanding and relationship with Jesus Christ, Who is everything to me. If I get to heaven and one person was encouraged in their Christian walk, or came to a saving knowledge of Jesus because of my writing, that would be my greatest reward.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?

...Read! Recent fiction in your genre, books and blogs on writing and publishing… Learn how to write your queries, proposals, and marketing materials way before you think you’ll need them! Start building a following of readers early on. And most of all, WRITE. Write what you love, and never forget why you love it.


In honor of the fall, what’s your favorite fall treat? ...Apple Cider with Red Hot cinnamon candies melted in. Oh, and those candy corn pumpkins on the side! Mmm!

When you were a child, what did you dream of growing up to be?
...Midwife, private investigator, archaeologist, Criminal Justice sketch artist, drama teacher… So, I decided to write novels and “be” them all. :)

...Thanks for having me, Emilie. What a fun interview! Since my story is set in Mississippi, I’m giving away this boutique burlap pillow, handmade-in-Mississippi and embellished with chevrons and a cotton boll. Cotton plays a significant role in Heart of Valor and is a widespread symbol of the South.


Thank you so much for your interview, Natalie. We have much in common and I hope that I will soon be reading a copy of Heart of Valor! I also enjoy using Pinterest to do research for my books :) It makes it so fun!  

And thank you for this amazing giveaway. Someone will be lucky to win this cute pillow. Can't wait to hear from about your writing in the near future!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Jeannie Campbell {Writer Wednesday}

Happy Wednesday to you all! I wanted to start off this post with something a little different before we dive into meeting the wonderful Jeannie Campbell.

As many of you know, I run a small photography business in addition to my writing and my work at the church. Well, I hit a milestone last week and reached 400 likes on my photography Facebook page *grins*. As a way of saying thank you, I'm offering a giveaway on my photography blog. I know a lot of you dear readers aren't in the area, but if -by some chance- you are near by Santa Clarita or know someone who is, feel free to send them to my blog [here] to check out the giveaway!

Ok, on to meeting the lovely Jeannie for our {Writer Wednesday} post!

A little bit about Jeannie...

Jeannie is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (MFC # 45366) in California. She currently serve as Head of Clinical Services for a large non-profit, and she’s worked with families, teens, parents, and kids for over 10 years.

You name it, she’s worked there: a crisis pregnancy center, psychiatric hospital, drug rehabilitation, elementary and high schools, college campuses, multiple non-profits and homeless shelters, a foster family agency, and in private practice. But in June 2011, Jeannie added one more location: the internet. She loves her day job so much, she crossed over to diagnosing make-believe people. (Just don’t tell her clients, or they might question their decision to get help from her!)

In addition to being a therapist, Jeannie is also a freelance writer, author, editor, and book reviewer. She writes a quarterly column for the ACFW Journal, monthly columns for Christian Fiction Online Magazine and Choose Now Ministries, and have been featured in several other e-zines, newspapers, and blogs. Two of her manuscripts have been finalists in the Genesis contest for unpublished writers, sponsored by the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), of which she is a proud member.

How to connect with Jeannie...
Jeannie's writer’s guides available for sale in her Therapy Store:
     Writer’s Guide to Personality Disorders
     Writer’s Guide to Personality Types
     Writer’s Guide to Breaking Stereotypes
     Writer’s Guide to Creating Rich Back Stories
     Writer’s Guide to Grief
Preferred purchase link to your book:

Author Interview | Jeannie Campbell

You and Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing? What has kept you writing?
...I started writing as a little girl when I got my first journal at age 6. I moved on to angst-driven middle grade and then young adult, following my own developmental progress. Writing is breathing to me. If I don’t, I’d scream…or seriously need therapy.

Your Writing
Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently? Why are you/did you write it?
...I’m writing a new adult trilogy currently. It’s a result of my having stumbled upon an incredible psychological theory about love that really resonated with me. The theory is triangular, stating that love has three sides: commitment, passion, and intimacy. I got the idea to have a heroine who experiences each side of the triangle with a different guy, one for each book. It’s more of a coming of age-type novel, one that I am writing mainly to engage that huge population of readers on Amazon who would rather read the NY Times and USA Today best sellers for teens, which are basically erotica for teenagers. I’m writing this series from a biblical worldview, but I think the book will appeal to these readers, and perhaps show them a different way.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...I hope that young girls, at that impressionable age of 16-22 or so, will realize that their worth is not defined by whether they are with a guy or not. I certainly want them to know that they don’t need to go into relationships hoping to “save” the bad guy, which is presented in so many novels geared toward this age group.

Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...Definitely based on real life. As a therapist, I see a broad array of humanity every day that walk into my office. I never base any character on any one person or client, but make them montages of the people I’ve worked with or have somehow been associated with. I honestly don’t believe there is a better occupation by day to get fodder for bring a writer by night.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Not to give up. Even if people don’t get it, don’t get you, don’t understand the draw…you keep writing.


In honor of the fall, what’s your favorite fall treat?
...I’ve been seriously scarfing down Oreos with the Candy Corn filling. Oh. My. Gosh. Have you tried these? Amazing. It’s like candy and a cookie at the same time.

When you were a child, what did you dream of growing up to be?
...I thought I’d be a vet through middle school…and then a journalist in high school. I did major in journalism, but double majored in psychology as well.

Thank you so much Jeannie - what a fantastic interview! The series you are currently working on sounds like a fantastic idea. We are definitely in need of books with a biblical world view that isn't afraid to tackle real-world problems. I can't wait for them to come out. And no - I have not tried the Oreos with Candy Corn filling...I'm afraid to buy a carton of those or else...well...they'll be gone much too quickly ;) Maybe I'll bring them to an event and snatch one hehe!

Thanks again Jeannie! And I know I've benefited from your articles for ACFW - keep up the great work! And readers, make sure you check out her Therapy Store!

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Jesus Is... (part 1) {Thinking Theology}

I thought about posting my response to the Strange Fire conference... But then, after reflection and prayer, I thought it would be more beneficial to call us to something rather than discourage us from something.

As Christians, what are we most concerned with? Being like Christ, or being like...something else? Maybe a favorite theologian or a well-formed ideal? In this short mini-series I just wanted to focus on who Jesus is.

He's loving. He's just. He's Lord

I know these things are really simple, but sometimes it's the simple things we forget. Of course, there is so much more to Christ than just these three things, but I just wanted to pick three to focus on.

Jesus Is...Loving
13 Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. 15 Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” 16 But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” 17 They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” 18 And he said, “Bring them here to me.” 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Matthew 14:13-21
13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.
Mark 10:13-16

35 And Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. 36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; 38 therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”
Matthew 9:35-38

These are just a few examples but wow...the compassion and love of Christ is amazing! I love this description of His compassion by Spurgeon

Jesus' reaction to his compassion:
  • He spent time with the people (even when he didn't feel like it)
  • He fed the hungry
  • He healed the sick
  • He gave comfort 
  • He was gentle
  • He told them the gospel 
  • He prayed for them 
This isn't all-inclusive, but what a list.

Can we say that we respond to others like Christ did while He was here on earth?  

And then He encouraged us with these things:
30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” 
 Mark 10:30-31
 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
John 15:13

I hope that tonight, we can think through the love and compassion of Jesus and ask the Lord to help us to be marked by these things as well. I know that's my prayer.

>>Do you have other examples from the Bible about how Jesus is loving? What about things in your life that show His compassion? I'd love to hear from you in the comments below!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Real Men Don't Text by Ruthie and Michael Dean | RE:View

 More ACFW Headshots

That's right, Part 2 is now up with author headshots galore! Check out the post [here].

This post features some wonderful up and coming authors as well as established ones like Elizabeth Goddard (her most recent novel Riptide is now available for purchase) and Brandilyn Collins (her latest novel, Dark Justice, is on my reading list!!).  Hop on over to my photography blog and check out what all the excitement is about!

Real Men Don't Text by Ruthie and Michael Dean

I can't even tell you how much I liked this book! Initially, I'd seen something on Facebook from Rachel Hauck recommending it and I though, "OK, I want to read this!".

I'm so glad I did. 

Written by Ruthie and Michael Dean, this refreshing take on dating in today's culture is not only honest, but accurate! They tackle such topics as texting as it relates to dating, sex before marriage, true beauty, red flags in relationships, and so much more! There's humor, but behind that is truth always searching for the deeper issue.

I found myself highlighting numerous portions and often being challenged at how I look at dating with the influence of texting now so prevalent in our culture. I also appreciated how honest they both were about their own failings and their fresh perspective on living as a Christian.  I could tell Ruthie wasn't talking about her struggle with current Christianity for shock value or to be 'seeker friendly'. She was being honest about her own experiences and was faithful to always bring it back to Jesus!

Another portion that really challenged and encouraged me was her section on beauty (Chapter 5). I believe self-image is one of the largest things women struggle with today and that also plays a role in how (and who) they date. The Dean's were so faithful to give great examples here and to be honest about what guys are (and should be) looking for in women beyond just appearance.

I highly recommend this book to you if you are a single woman (ok, I'd even suggest it to married women too for Chapter 5 alone!). You will find beautiful truth lovingly written into the pages of this book. Allow yourself to read the chapters, honestly assessing where YOU are at. Ruthie and Michael are faithful to ask some tough questions, but you can tell their heart behind it all.  Great read, but even better than that, fantastic takeaways!
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, October 16, 2013

Deborah Piccurelli {Writer Wednesday}

A little bit about Deborah...

Deborah M. Piccurelli is an advocate for sanctity of life, and tackles such issues in her novels, weaving them into compelling stories. She lives in New Jersey with her husband and their two sons.

How to connect with Deborah...

Twitter:!/DebPiccurelli (or @DebPiccurelli)
Purchase her book here:

 Author Interview | Deborah Piccurelli

You & Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing?
...Writing is something I always liked, even in school. Reading good books made me want to write them. 

What has kept you writing? 
...I didn’t actually begin writing books until some years after I had my children. What has kept me doing it for the past approximately 15 years is, again, I just love doing it. I love creating worlds, and characters, and plots.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written?
...I’ve only had two published, so far, so I can’t really say either one is a favorite. I do so like the one I’m currently working on, though. If so, why?
...There are a lot of elements that are much different from anything in my other works.

What was the hardest thing about publishing? 
...Ha! The actual getting to be published. After that, I’d have to say marketing and promotion. The easiest? Seeing the actual book in print, holding it in your hands, breathing in that new book aroma...

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book.

Here is the back-cover blurb:

...Investigative journalist, Amber Blake, is a little person bent on payback for the death of her average-sized twin sister. Enlisted by her former partner and estranged husband, Evan, she poses as a counselor in an abortion clinic to expose the doctor responsible for fetal harvesting. As a Christian, she struggles with concealing her beliefs to maintain her cover, while the doctor’s romantic overtures tumble her stomach. Amber agrees to date him for the sake of the story . . . but nothing prepares her for what’s behind a mysterious door in his office.

Why are you/did you write it?
...Romantic suspense is my favorite genre to read, so naturally, it’s my favorite to write. I chose the premise because my brand is to write issue-related stories, and abortion is certainly a big issue these days.

Do you have a favorite character in this work?

...For some reason, Evan is my favorite. If so, why?
...I guess it’s because his personality seemed to take over. He has courage and is opinionated, but he is also gentle and loves with all his heart and soul.

What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...That we should do all we can to protect the precious life that God has given to each and every one of us. Especially the innocent ones.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters?
...Everywhere. Newspapers, magazines, television, the Internet. Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...Usually, the stories are based on real life issues, but the characters are primarily imagination.

When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I want to entertain, inspire, encourage, make an impact on the lives of readers and, yes, make them laugh, too.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Never give up. If the Lord has placed the desire in your heart to write, then He will equip you to do it. It could take years, but it will eventually come to fruition.


In honor of the fall, what’s your favorite fall treat?
...Pumpkin pie, and pumpkin flavored everything.

When you were a child, what did you dream of growing up to be? 
...I guess my aspirations weren’t very lofty by today’s standards. I wanted to be a secretary. Back when I was a young child, I thought it looked really neat to be sitting at a desk, tapping away at a typewriter (I’m really dating myself, here), or sitting by the boss’ desk taking dictation, while he spoke a mile-a-minute. And I became just that.

Will you participate in National Novel Writing Month?
...I've never had the chance to do that. I bought a book on it some years back, too. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get to do it this year. 


Thank you so much for sharing with us, Deborah! Your novel sounds intriguing! I love you you say to "never give up". I firmly believe that writing and the desire to write is God-given! And I'm right there with you about pumpkin everything! I am so happy it's fall - I just bought my first pie pumpkin last night and I cant wait to cook it up and make some pumpkin bread. Thanks again for sharing!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Star Trek Into Darkness and Fall Thoughts...

First things first - the winner from Gail's giveaway is:


Gail will be in touch with you soon to get you your ebook copy of her novel Stopped Cold! Congrats!


What do advanced technology and fall have to do with one another? be honest, not much. But, it just so happens that I watched this lovely movie recently and it's finally turning fall-ish so I though, why not?

Have you had the chance to see this movie yet? I've admitted before that I'm quite the Star Trek fan (Next Generation being my favorite) but I was very impressed by both of the new Star Trek movies. They have been action packed, exciting, and not completely separate from from their Star Trek roots. I enjoy Chris Pine's acting as well, and think that Zachary Quinto does a fantastic job at being Spock.

On to things of fall...

The leaves are rustling, temperatures dropping, and pumpkins popping up all over the place. That's right, it's finally FALL! This is probably my most favorite season with winter coming in at a close second. I love curling up with a blanket and a hot mug of (insert your favorite warm drink).

For me, fall is also an inspirational time. I think, if I could, I'd write about fall during fall all the time. Of course, that's not possible...but still, a girl can dream, can't she?

What is YOUR favorite part about this season? Or maybe least favorite if you aren't a fall fan.  We had a lot of great input on Laura Hilton's post about our favorite fall snack, so let's switch it up...

What is your favorite fall ACTIVITY? 

I'd love to hear from you in the comments below :)

Monday, October 14, 2013

A Little Reminder

First off, just a reminder to comment on last week's {Writer Wednesday} post with author Gail Pallotta to enter for a chance to win an ebook copy of her novel Stopped Cold! I'll be announcing the winner tomorrow so leave your comment by 9pm tonight!

E.A. Creative Photography
I've been having so much fun getting to know the authors who's headshots I did at the ACFW Conference! If you missed it last week, I posted the first of my 3 part post of headshots. You can find that post [here]. I'm excited for the next post and getting to share more about these amazing authors.

To the side, you can see just a few examples of the headshots. I just love seeing their bright smiles and remembering my time with each of these dear people.

I'd highly suggest you check out the post so that you can not only see their photos a little larger, but also so that you can follow links to their blogs, websites, and books!


In other news, I've been preparing madly for NaNoWriMo (more on this in another post coming soon...). Yes, reading and writing friends, I'm gearing up for a month of crazy, novel-writing fun and hecticness that is National Novel Writing Month. I'm really excited for the plot I've decided to go with and can't wait to start on it. But - wait, I must. There's no writing (on this book at least) until November 1st!

What have you all been up to? 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Gail Pallotta {Writer Wednesday}

Hello and happy Wednesday! It's been a full few weeks for me but I'm happy to announce that I've finished all photos from the ACFW Conference! This means I may actually get some time to write here or there ;) But, for today, I'm excited to introduce you to author Gail Pallotta. Give her a big welcome!!

She has also offered to do an ebook GIVEAWAY of her novel Stopped Cold. Make sure you comment below (by 9pm Monday the 14th) to enter for a chance to win this novel! I'll announce the winner next Tuesday, October 15!

A little bit about Gail...

Award-winning author Gail Pallotta’s a wife, Mom, swimmer and bargain shopper who loves God, beach sunsets and getting together with friends and family. She’s been a Sunday school teacher, a swim-team coordinator and an after-school literary instructor. A former regional writer of the year for American Christian Writers Association, she won Clash of the Titles in 2010. Her new teen book, Stopped Cold, is a best-seller on All Romance eBooks. She’s published short stories in “Splickety” magazine and Sweet Freedom with a Slice of Peach Cobbler. Some of her published articles appear in anthologies while two are in museums.

How to connect with Gail...

On staff at:
Twitter: @Hopefulwords
Purchase her book: on Amazon

Author Interview | Gail Pallotta

You & Writing

Tell us a little bit about yourself: How did you start writing?
...I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. The first published work was in a grammar school newspaper a friend and I put out. 

What has kept you writing? 
...It’s a part of me, what I do. My husband probably has the best explanation. He says I have pretend people running around my head, and I have to let them out. LOL.

Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written?
...They’re all special in their own way.

What was the hardest thing about publishing?
...It’s hard to say which is more difficult, finding a publisher or promoting the book. The easiest? I’m not sure anything about it is easy, but the most fun part is getting the story down on paper.

Your Writing

Tell us a little bit about your book or what you’re working on currently?
...Stopped Cold is a Christian teen sports mystery set in a small town in the North Carolina mountains, but things aren’t what they seem in Mistville. Margaret McWhorter enjoys flirting with Jimmy Willmore, swimming and hanging out with friends—until that day. Her brother, Sean, suffers a stroke from taking a steroid. Now he’s lying unconscious. Margaret’s angry at her dad for pushing Sean in sports, but a fire of hatred burns inside her to make the criminals pay. Looking for justice, she takes Jimmy and her best friend, Emily, through a twisted, drug-filled sub-culture. Even the cop on the case can’t stop them from investigating. All the while Margaret wants to cure Sean, heal the hate inside, and open her heart to love.

Why are you/did you write it?
...First of all, I wanted to write a fun book. As a youngster I loved mysteries, especially when the kids, like Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys, solved the case. My book’s reminiscent of those amateur sleuths.

...The message rattled around in my head for a long time. Over the years I’ve seen instances when not being number one created great pain for a child or young adult. Whether the pressure came from within, peers, siblings or parents, the need to be “better than everyone else” rather than “the best one could be” often hurt and sometimes led to destruction. We don’t have to be number one for God to love us. He’s given each of us a gift or gifts to use for Him.

Do you have a favorite character in this work?
...I like them all, but if I had to choose, I’d pick Margaret. 

If so, why? 
...She’s someone I can relate to, sympathize with and definitely root for her. I want her to succeed in finding the drug dealers who hurt her brother and to find peace through her faith.

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

...God’s given each of us a gift or gifts to use for Him.


Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters?
...Life. Sometimes I experience something. Sometimes I observe something. Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both? Both.
When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories? 
...To write something people will enjoy reading that adds meaning to their lives.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?

...Keep writing, learning about writing and don’t give up.


In honor of the fall, what’s your favorite fall treat?
...Chocolate. Hmm. Did I say chocolate?

When you were a child, what did you dream of growing up to be? 

...I’ve always loved to write, but at one time I remember wanting to be a detective.

Will you participate in National Novel Writing Month? If so, what’s your plan to keep your writing on track? 
...No. I’m working on several projects that are keeping me busy.

Thank you so much for this wonderful interview Gail! I love your husbands explanation of why you keep writing! I too experience those "imaginary people" :) I really connected with what you said about being the best or being first. I see it often in the teens that I work with through my church - there is so much pressure on them to be the best in sports or school or music etc. and that transfers over into how they view God loving them. Almost like they have to be good enough for Him to love them. It's such a dangerous lie to believe.

Thanks again for sharing with us and for offering the GIVEAWAY! Don't forget, Readers, leave a comment below to enter for a chance to win Stopped Cold!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Rebecca Carey Lyles {Writer Wednesday}

Hi, all. Welcome back (or for the first time) to Thinking Thoughts. Today's {Writer Wednesday} post features a second-timer to the blog, Rebecca Carey Lyles. If you missed her post last time, you can find it here.

A little bit about Rebecca...

Rebecca Carey Lyles grew up in Wyoming, the setting for her Kate Neilson novels. She currently lives in Idaho, where she serves as an editor and a mentor for aspiring authors and as a coach for women transitioning from prison to life on “the outside.” Winds of Freedom is the sequel to the award-winning first book in the Kate Neilson series, Winds of Wyoming.

How to connect with Rebecca...

Facebook: Rebecca Carey Lyles
Twitter: @BeckyLyles 
You can purchase her book here.

Author Interview | Rebecca Carey Lyles

You & Writing

You visited my blog several months ago to talk about your first book in the Kate Neilson Series, Winds of Wyoming. Now the sequel is available, Winds of Freedom. How many books are you planning to include in the series, and what’s the purpose of the series?
...At this moment, all I can foresee for the series is a trilogy. I feel like Kate’s story will be complete with the publication of the (unwritten) third book, Winds of Change. But you never know. Something in book three could change my thinking. If not, I’ll finish the first book in a Montana series I’m planning.

...The purpose of the series has been to first of all portray incarcerated and formerly incarcerated individuals as real people trying to become good citizens, not monsters bent on terrorizing society. Yes, I know prisons are full of evil people (actually, we’re all evil until we’ve been cleansed by Jesus’ blood). However, while involved with prison ministry, I discovered that many if not most inmates are products of dysfunctional childhoods and poor choices who want to grow beyond their upbringing and failures. Secondly, I want to depict the challenges ex-inmates face when they’re released, from finding a job to beginning a new life, to avoiding old habits and hangouts, to establishing a sense of self-worth and a solid relationship with God.

What is writing like for you? Do you find it hard or easy?
...I wish I could say writing is easy for me, but I’ve always found it difficult to drag thoughts from my head through my fingers to the computer. What seems to work best for me is to slap down a rough draft and then go over my work again and again to get it to make sense. Even then, I desperately need my editor’s assistance plus input from beta-readers and proofreaders to create a quality final product.

Your Writing
Where did you get your idea for your newest book?
...The idea for Winds of Freedom came years ago when the relative of a neighbor walked into an airport restroom and never came out—as far as her husband and children knew. Although they didn’t see her exit the restroom, she must have snuck past them wearing a disguise, because they later learned she’d slipped away to start a new life. Several weeks after her disappearance, she returned to pick up her clothing and other personal items. She didn’t tell her husband where she was living or what she was doing, only that she no longer had to clean house or take care of children. To add to the mystery, she was wearing a collar around her neck.


Tell us more about Winds of Freedom.
...Here’s the blurb: 

Winter storms blast across the Whispering Pines Guest Ranch, and a cold wind blows through Kate Neilson’s soul. Despite her pain, Kate’s well-being takes a backseat to the needs of loved ones: her best friend, who’s been ensnared by evil; her failing great-aunt, whose dementia care keeps Kate guessing; and Laura and Mike Duncan, whose ranch and livelihood are threatened by a land-grabbing neighbor.
What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?  

Sometimes people find themselves in abusive situations that are nearly impossible to escape. 

...I trust Winds of Freedom will inspire readers to pray for those in bondage and assist them however possible. Here’s the scripture I included at the beginning of the novel:

“Listen to my cry, for I am in desperate need; rescue me from my persecutors, for they are too strong for me. Set me free from my prison, so I can thank you.” Psalm 142:6-7a (NLT/NIV)

When you write, what is your overall intention for your stories?
...Other than what I said above about supporting inmates, ex-inmates and those trapped by abuse, I pray my writing draws readers to a deeper relationship with God. I also strive to make the stories suspenseful with a bit a humor added here and there. 

Here’s my tagline: Contemporary Christian Romance Set in the West and Salted with Suspense.

What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Don’t be afraid to dump your most beautiful writing. My original beginning for Winds of Wyoming was sooo lovely—and sooo wrong for the story.

What’s your favorite activity in the fall?
...Besides crunching through leaves on my daily walks, I like to bike the greenbelt along the river and drive through the mountains to see the changing leaves. This fall, I have the added joy of watching my daughter marry her longtime love.

Thanks so much, Rebecca, for joining us here on the blog. I loved hearing about your next book - sounds exciting and intriguing - and I love the takeaway you give. I believe every author, no matter what they write, carries with them a theme. It may not always be worked out in the same way, but I think you can see it through their writing. 

And great advice to those who are aspiring to be published - I've learned that lesson myself. Sometimes you have to get whole books out of your system before truly finding your voice. 

Thanks again!