Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Interview & Book Giveaway with Author Shirley Kiger Connolly

It's a pleasure to welcome today's guest, author Shirley Kiger Connolly!

Q:  What was your inspiration for Say Goodbye to Yesterday?
A:  As the wife of a retired pastor, for many years, I have counseled Christian women about their marriages and life situations. Many times we were able to work through those situations together with the help of God and through inspiration from His Word. I also did a lot of research on events that actually happened in the nineteenth century with Army wives and through personal diaries. It's interesting how so much of this information was not freely discussed years ago.

Q:  How does your faith impact your writing?
A:  My faith IS my writing. It is me. So there isn't much I can do without my faith entering into the scenario of what I'm writing, doing, saying, or thinking. In one way or another, faith becomes the theme.

Q:  Do you plot out your story ahead of time, or do you think it up as you go?
A:  I can't plot my story out first. I've tried. What I do end up doing, rather, is begin to brainstorm my way through, at least for a while. Once I get through about five or six chapters, I can begin to go back and see the thread, and the outline begins to take form. I guess you would call me a pantser more than a plotter.

Q:  Do you treat yourself to something special when a project is completed?
A:  A new pair of shoes. Probably Mary Janes. I LOVE SHOES. (LOL)

Q: After becoming a published author, what surprised you the most?
A:  That my first book was really accepted! (As I look at that first book now, I realize how much I still didn't know back then about being a good writer, and what I've learned since then! I also know I STILL have a long way to go.)

Q:  If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
A:  I couldn’t NOT be a writer, Jen. But if I wasn't, I would be doing what I already do -- teach women, do needlework, decorate and re-design my rooms, tend my animals, doodle around in my greenhouse with my veggies and flowers, and, oh, yes, sing and play my guitar and piano more. But the truth is, I'd still find a way to write…something!

Q:  There’s been a lot said about the future of publishing and the possible death of the print book. What’s your take on e-books, self-publishing, and such?
A:  I am published through two small publishing companies, where one does both print and e-book, and where the other, still newer, is quite active with e-books and plans to add the print at a future date. I have come to love the e-books, where I thought I wouldn't. I enjoy the fact that they are so assessable and you can change the font size to whatever you want. If your eyes are tired, the e-book will read out loud to you. It saves room, for you can put thousands of e-books in one leather book-sized folder. You can make notes on your pages, if there's something you want to remember for later. Just lots of things. It doesn't mean I no longer read print books. I do. But it's true, they do fill up the bookcase awfully fast. No, I don't think the print book will ever completely die out.

Self-publishing is another story, at least for me, personally. I shy away from them, but I don't look down on those who choose to go that route if they can truly write. I treasure every copy editor that's provided for me through my publishers. They are such a great asset in helping me fix my problems before it's too late. I also wouldn’t want to have to PAY to have my book published as you do when you self-publish. To me, it's just not the same. Besides, I don't have that kind of money. But I guess there are many who have enough confidence in what they do to go that route. Knowing my limitations, I'm not one of them.

Scenario: You’re about to be dropped off on a deserted island. You can take along one survival item, one book, and one person (living or dead… but they’ll be alive on the island). What and who do you take?
A:  The one survival item I would take? The one survival item would probably a fruit bearing tree, like a coconut because it has meat and liquid in it to keep me alive. The book I would take: My BIBLE most definitely. The one person I would take: I think that would be my husband. He is such a part of me.

Thanks for visiting with us today, Shirley!

Shirley Kiger Connolly, a graduate of the Institute of Children's Literature, believes she uses both sides of her brain when it comes to writing. With her creative and inspirational mind she pens historical fiction romances, but with her more logical thinking cap, she writes nonfiction devotional books. It helps that she loves different hats. With another trusty hat she hopes contains a bit of wisdom, Shirley prepares and teaches Koinonia women's bible studies and mini-seminars and shares teaching reflections at retreats or luncheons. Outside her writing and speaking time, Shirley, an active mom and grandma, enjoys rearranging her furniture, cross-stitching, and watching old movies on TCM. As a part-time farm woman, Shirley devotes a lot of time to the veggies growing in her greenhouse, and mothers her chickens, ducks, dogs, and cats. She stays active in American Christian Fiction Writers and at Faith-Hope-Love, RWA where she presently serves as Critique Database Coordinator.

Scorned with disgrace, Annabelle Jordan and her daughters are no longer welcome in her reverend uncle’s community. She knows she needs a fresh touch of grace, but Annabelle’s in no mood to seek mercy. Not after carrying on her youthful affair with the same man, long enough to produce two daughters before she finally drove him out of her life.

Now without a home, Annabelle’s convinced her answer is to find the father again and force that marriage once and for all. At least the man who pledged her, his hand years earlier could provide her daughters the name, home, security, and future they need. Who else would show interest in a soiled, aging woman over thirty with two growing children?

That was before Major Carlton Radcliffe entered Annabelle’s life. How's she supposed to deal with a man far beyond her reach, loyal to the faith she's been fleeing, and honorably pledged to a wife and family of his own?

If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of the e-book, Say Goodbye to Yesterday, just leave a comment on this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on Monday, September 5th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Book Trailers that Work: Jane Lynch's Happy Accidents

We authors are all trying to figure out this new beast called the book trailer. Some have been more successful than others. Here's a great example of a trailer that works.

Why does it work? Because it perfectly captures the persona that actress/author Jane Lynch has created for herself. Rather than fill the video with text snippets, still photos and earnest music, we get a snappy look into what Jane might do at her local bookstore. Of course, she wouldn't really do this. Neither would you or I. But I think any author who's found one title of her book hidden in a corner wishes she could do something like this.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Author Connie Stevens Shares About the Scars We All Bear

Today's special post is from author Connie Stevens.

Have you ever wanted to hide? I’m not talking about playing hide and seek as a child or crouching behind furniture and jumping out to yell “Surprise!” to someone. I’m not even referring to ducking behind a display in a store because you just spotted your nosey neighbor and didn’t want to be engaged in an hour-long gossip session. There are some people who have found themselves in a dangerous situation and attempted to hide for protection, and of course we see news reports all the time about those who commit crimes and hide from the police.

In my latest book, SCARS OF MERCY, the main character, Everett, wants to hide. He’s not in trouble or danger. He doesn’t want to surprise anyone. His desire is to be alone. In fact, he wishes he could hide from himself. As this story unfolds, Everett loathes his own reflection. He survived the boardinghouse fire, but lives daily with the marks left by the flames. While he is grateful for his new-found faith, he doesn’t understand why God would allow the disfiguring scars, and he assumes he is destined to live a solitary existence.

We all live with scars—some are physical and visible. Others are emotional and known only to us. Regardless of whether other people can see our scars, human instinct drives us to hide those scars from the world. There is a deep, indwelling longing within us to be perfect, and when we aren’t, misplaced shame and humiliation compels us to seek a refuge. But where do we go to hide? Do we build a wall around ourselves? Do we withdraw from people? Sometimes painful experiences can motivate us to do that. It’s a defensive mechanism many of us have used at one time or other. Whatever our purpose, such actions always result in the same thing—loneliness.

In SCARS OF MERCY, Everett’s refuge was self-imposed solitude. Despite his loneliness, he might have been content to shut himself off from the world except for one thing—Tillie O’Dell. This feisty young woman sees Everett’s scars as noble and heroic, and she wishes she could make him see himself the way she does—the way God does. In trying to do so, she finds herself falling in love with Everett, changed from the hurtful, arrogant man he was to one redeemed and restored. This is much the way God sees us when we give ourselves over to Him.

I am reminded of the story in Jeremiah, chapter eighteen, in which the prophet went down to the potter’s house and watched the potter working on a vessel. But the vessel was marred—flawed—in the hands of the potter. So he started over again and remade the vessel into one of beauty and usefulness. This is a story of hope and second chances. The potter didn’t destroy or discard the clay. He reworked it. The flaw didn’t matter because the potter knew how to work around it. There was no need to hide the flawed vessel because the potter made it beautiful.

SCARS OF MERCY is a love story, but not just between Everett and Tillie. This story is an invitation to see God’s mighty, unwavering love for us, and how He wants us to hide ourselves in Him. Scars--whether visible or invisible, real or imagined, physical or emotional or spiritual--don’t have to be debilitating, because we have a God who hides us in the hollow of His hand.

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?
If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You
are there.
If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea,
even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall fall on me,” even the night shall be light
about me; indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You.
But the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You.
Psalm 139: 7-12 (NKJV)

SCARS OF MERCY releases this month with Heartsong Presents, and is the third book in the Willow Creek series.

Connie Stevens lives in north Georgia with her husband of thirty-eight years, John, and one cantankerous kitty. She and John are active in a variety of capacities in their home church. When she’s not writing, she enjoys gardening, sewing, reading, browsing antique stores, and collecting teddy bears. An avid Atlanta Braves fan, don’t call her while there is a game on. Visit Connie’s website at www.conniestevenswrites.com

Everett Behr turns away from people to hide his disfiguring scars. A budding friendship with Tillie O’Dell eases his loneliness, but asking her to endure the humiliation of being with someone like him is out of the question. Tillie sees past Everett’s scars to his heart. His courage and compassion make him a man of character, but how can she convince Everett his scars are beautiful to her?

If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Scars of Mercy, just leave a comment on this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on Monday, August 29th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Interview & Giveaway with Author P.A. Baines

It's my pleasure to welcome Splashdown Books author P. A. Baines to the blog today!

Q:  What was your inspiration for Alpha Redemption?
A:  Would you believe, atheism? I was heavily involved with discussing and debating Christianity with atheists on various Internet sites. It was suggested on more than one occasion that belief in God is irrational. That got me wondering what a purely logical creature would think if it read the Bible. At that moment one the main characters of Alpha Redemption, Jay, was born.

Q:  How do you come up with your story ideas?
A:  Usually it is a single scene that comes to mind, often while reading a book. I do almost all of my reading using audio books, and I often find my thoughts wandering. Sometimes an interesting scenario comes to mind, and sometimes that grows into a complete story.

Q:  How does your faith impact your writing?
A:  It is at the very core of my writing. I do not just want to write "stories". Rather, I want to glorify God through my work. He is at the center of what I try to do.

Q:  How long does it take you to complete a novel? How many drafts do you go through?
A:  The first draft of Alpha Redemption took three months. Add to that, two months of thinking about the plot, and another six months of revisions and editing, so about one year in total. My current story, on the other hand, was one I started five years ago but never got beyond the first chapter. The number of drafts tends to be quite low for me because I always edit my first drafts as I go. So, really, my first draft is more like a third draft.

Q:  After becoming a published author, what surprised you the most?
A:  The biggest surprise was that selling your story is as difficult (if not more so) than finding a publisher. People are generally quite reluctant to take a chance on an unknown author, so it is an uphill struggle. Good reviews help, but that does not necessarily mean people are going to rush out and buy your book.

Q:  What event, writer, or book has most impacted your writing life?
A:  I think "On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft" by Stephen King had the biggest impact on me as a writer because it showed just how difficult it can be to get published, even for someone as gifted as Stephen King. It also showed me that being "gifted" is not what it takes to be a good writer. You have to work hard and push on, even when the rejection letters come. So often we read about people hitting the big time with their first novel, of finding a publisher without even looking, but these cases are extremely rare and we should not look to them as examples of how the industry works. To be a writer, you have to be prepared for a lot of hard work and a lot of rejection. If you don't have a thick skin when you start out, you certainly will by the time you see your book on the shelves.

Q:  What’s the one far out sci-fi technology you’d most like to see become a household item?

A:  Anti-gravity devices. I think they would transform our lives. While this is something I would love to see, I am not convinced that it would be beneficial for everyone. Can you imagine how lazy it might make us? I think far more of us would become couch-potatoes if anti-gravity suits became available at our local supermarkets.

Thanks for visiting with us today, Paul!

Paul writes science fiction that is both contemplative and profound. Educated in Africa, he works as an analyst/programmer and is studying towards a degree in Creative Writing through Buckinghamshire New University in England. He currently lives in a small corner of the Netherlands with his wife and two children and various wildlife.
Visit his website at www.pabaines.com. He is also a member of the New Authors' Fellowship.

ABOUT THE BOOK - Alpha Redemption
From despair he fled, through tragedy he lived on, and journeyed to innocence.

His trajectory: the stars. His companion: a computer poised at the brink of sentience.

An unlikely friendship on a prototype spaceship at lightspeed towards Alpha Centauri, and redemption.

If you’d like to be entered to win the e-book, Alpha Redemption, just leave a comment on this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on Tuesday, August 23rd. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Enter the Thomas Nelson $10,000 Giveaway

From Thomas Nelson:

One of the highlights of our days in the Fiction department at Thomas Nelson? Receiving reader letters—either directly addressed to us or passed along from our talented authors. It’s critical to be reminded that at the end of our long days acquiring, editing, designing, selling, marketing, and publicizing books, those stories are reaching readers, striking nerves, changing lives. We want readers’ feedback. How stories have given you hope. Which authors’ series you can’t help from sharing with everyone you meet. We want to know what makes you stay up late in the night to finish a story, and conversely what turns you away.

We’re conducting a series of surveys—seeking answers from readers who love Christian fiction. Up for grabs is a free ebook for every respondent who completes the survery, as well as a $10,000 prize for one entrant. The responses we gather will help shape the future of the books we publish for years to come. As well as the data we’re collecting here, we’ll also seek more in-depth feedback from a panel we’ll develop over the next year. More details to come. The note below from one of authors gives a specific picture of how reader feedback shapes her work. In short, your opinion matters! We thank you for your time and appreciate your responding.

--Thomas Nelson Fiction

Dear Friends--

Your opinion matters. It really does. I love hearing from readers about what worked for them in a story and about what doesn’t work. Reader feedback changed the balance between romance and suspense in my novels. After the Rock Harbor trilogy, I wanted to write more suspense in my novels because that’s what I personally like. But readers really wanted more relationship and romance in the books so I moved back that direction to about the same mix of 50/50 that the Rock Harbor novels contained. I write for you even more than for myself.

I had no intention of setting a whole series of books at Bluebird, Texas. It was going to be only one book, but readers sent me requests in droves for more books. The fourth book in the Lonestar series, Lonestar Angel, will be out in October. The Rock Harbor novels were going to be complete at three. There are now five and I’m thinking about another one! All due to reader demand.

I’ve often asked for reader input on names and locations too. When I was struggling for a name for my hero in The Lightkeeper’s Ball, I turned to my readers. Harrison really fit my character, and my readers told me. Love that! When I was trying to decide on a location for the new Hope Beach series I’ve started, I asked readers. Their overwhelming response was for a series set in the Outer Banks so guess what I’m writing?!

That’s why we’re coming to you for answers. We want to give you what you really want! Don’t be afraid to let us know what you really think. We value your honesty and the time it will take to share with us. Looking forward to hearing what you have to say!

Your friend,

Colleen Coble

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Interview & Giveaway with Author Christa Allan

What fun to welcome back author Christa Allan!

Q:  What was your inspiration for The Edge of Grace?
A:  My brother, who is also my only sibling, told me over fifteen years ago that he was gay. I barely talked to him for years. We eventually evolved into an awkward relationship and that remained until our father died. At that point, I knew, that with our parents gone, we were all we had. Things grew better, and he and Ricky have been part of our family ever since…and they’ve been together for those fifteen years.

I struggled learning how to be the sister of a gay brother. I knew I wasn’t the only Christian with a gay sibling, so I figured we straight people had to come out of our own closets. When Ricky was beat up in the French Quarter and the last thing he remembered was the sound of his head hitting the concrete, that was my inspiration.

Q:  Do you plot out your story ahead of time, or do you think it up as you go?
A:  Both? I really, really, really want to be a plotter. But my brain really, really, really refuses to cooperate. I start with an organic plot (I think that’s a more interesting way to say I start with a murky idea), pound the keys for a few chapters, and then call my plotty friends and scream, “Good grief, I don’t have a clue where to go next.” They’re probably going to start blocking my calls, but until then, I rely on the plot-efficient to bring order to my chaos.

Q:  I'm the same way, Christa. Plotting sounds great to me, but I'm just not wired that way. Do you treat yourself to something special when a project is completed?
A:  Yes. Sleep.

Q:  After becoming a published author, what surprised you the most?
A:  Oprah ended her show without inviting me, Ellen has yet to call, and I’m not on the cover of Writer’s Digest. The marketing aspect of publishing surprised me in terms of the time, energy, and possibly money it required.

Q:  What do you think about writing contests? Have you participated in any? What’s the benefit to an unpublished writer?
A:  Long ago and far away when I started this crazy writing gig, a few writer friends whose steps I was following in the publishing minefield, suggested I enter writing contests. I’d not yet even finished half a book, but they thought the experience and the feedback would be helpful. So I did. Those contests provided, for the most part, valuable feedback. Plus, they forced me to put my work out to strangers who, like agents and editors, didn’t know I was sweet, charming, and generous. They were responding to my writing, not me. An important distinction.

Eventually, I stopped entering because if I wanted to publish, more than the first three chapters or fifty pages needed to be written. Some people become professional contest entrants who have refined the art of submitting polished three chapters. Now, sometimes contests can put your work in front of agents and/or editors, and I think that’s valuable. But, if not, then at some point a writer has to decide where to put his/her energy.

I’ve entered ACFW’s contests, never placed, but still found an agent and a publisher. I say that to offer hope! Also, every year and even in contests outside of ACFW, I would receive scores in the 90s and some in freezing temperatures. Guess what? I receive the same in reviews! Sometimes unpublished writers question other unpublished writers as judges. My philosophy is if you’re only writing for published writers, then you need to be writing “how to” books, not fiction. Not all of your readers will be published, and you can’t follow your writing. As my students say, “it is what it is.”

If you disagree with a judge’s comments, no problem. I disagree with a number of the reviews I’ve had. That’s the collateral damage of being a writer. And, before I take up all of Jennifer’s blog time…if you don’t agree with a judge’s comments, don’t send thank you notes with subtext that suggests anything but thanks. Unless, of course, you plan to respond to every one of your negative reviews!

Q:  What’s the one far out sci-fi technology you’d most like to see become a household item?
A:  One of those nifty machines like on Star Trek where you just say what food item you want and it appears. If course, I would probably need an at-home liposuction machine to go with it.

A true Southern woman who knows that any cook worth her gumbo always starts with a roux and who never wears white after Labor Day, Christa Allan writes not-your-usual Christian fiction that’s unafraid to tackle the tough questions. Walking on Broken Glass, her debut novel, released in 2010. The Edge of Grace released in 2011 and received a starred review from Library Journal. Three more novels with Abingdon Press follow in 2013 and 2014. Love Finds You in New Orleans (Summerside Press) is set to release in 2012.

Christa is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, Romance Writers of America and its Faith, Hope, and Love chapter. She also belongs to writing organizations in her community. Christa, a high school English teacher, and her veterinarian husband live in Abita Springs with their three neurotic cats. Christa is the mother of five and is totally smitten with her two grandgirls.

Thanks for hanging out with us today, Christa! And for all you readers, here's a special treat: The Edge of Grace is available for FREE on Kindle. But it won't last forever, so hurry on over there and download it while you can :+}

ABOUT THE BOOK - The Edge of Grace
An early morning call shatters Caryn Becker's world. Unable to cope with her brother’s news that he is gay, Caryn rejects him and disappears into her own turbulent life as a young widow and single mom. But when David is attacked and nearly killed, Caryn is forced to make hard choices about family, faith, and her own future; choices that take her to the very edge of grace.

If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of The Edge of Grace, just leave a comment on this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on Monday, August 22. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!

Monday, August 15, 2011

Mary DeMuth's New eBook a Must-Have for All Writers

Mary DeMuth is one of those authors who truly knows how to engage her audience. When you read 11 Secrets of Getting Published it's almost like you're sitting down having a conversation with her. Not to say that the book's not meaty, because it is. Just about everything a fledgling author needs to know is here: learning the craft, dealing with rejection, insights into the publishing industry, how to market, tips for conferences, and more.

While this book is awesome for those who have yet to publish, it's also great for those who already have a few books on the shelves. We can always use inspiration and encouragement, and this book is full of both. I particularly like "Quick Writing Advice", which is one of three bonus sections.

Right now, the book is at the rock-bottom price of $2.99. According to Mary's e-newsletter, it will go up to $4.99 on August 22nd, which is still a bargain. Download it today and take the first step toward a stronger writing career.

And if you don't believe me, hear what an editor had to say. He was so impressed, he wrote a song about it.

Note: I received a copy of this book from the author for review purposes. I received no financial compensation.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

CFBA Presents A MOST UNSUITABLE MATCH by Stephanie Grace Whitson

This week, the
Christian Fiction Blog Alliance
is introducing
A Most Unsuitable Match
Bethany House; Original edition (August 1, 2011)
Stephanie Grace Whitson


A native of southern Illinois, Stephanie Grace Whitson has lived in Nebraska since 1975. She began what she calls "playing with imaginary friends" (writing fiction) when, as a result of teaching her four homeschooled children Nebraska history, she was personally encouraged and challenged by the lives of pioneer women in the West. Since her first book, Walks the Fire, was published in 1995, Stephanie's fiction titles have appeared on the ECPA bestseller list numerous times and been finalists for the Christy Award, the Inspirational Reader's Choice Award, and ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year.

Her first nonfiction work, How to Help a Grieving Friend, was released in 2005. In addition to serving in her local church and keeping up with two married children, two college students, and a high school senior, Stephanie enjoys motorcycle trips with her family and church friends. Her passionate interests in pioneer women's history, antique quilts, and French, Italian, and Hawaiian language and culture provide endless story-telling possibilities.


An unlikely attraction occurs between two passengers on a steamboat journey up the Missouri River to Montana...

She is a self-centered young woman from a privileged family who fears the outdoors and avoids anything rustic. He is a preacher living under a sense of duty and obligation to love the unlovable people in the world. She isn't letting anything deter her from solving a family mystery that surfaced after her mother's death. He is on a mission to reach the rejects of society in the remote wilderness regions of Montana. Miss Fannie Rousseau and Reverend Samuel Beck are opposites in every way... except in how they both keep wondering if their paths will ever cross again.

If you would like to read the first chapter of A Most Unsuitable Match, go HERE.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Interview & Giveaway with Author Sarah Sundin

Please help me welcome today's guest, author Sarah Sundin!

Q:  How do you deal with writer’s block?
A:  I rarely get writer’s block. I have the book plotted out beforehand, so I know what I’m going to write when I sit down. However, sometimes the start of a chapter will hang me up for a while. My cure is to get a running start by reading the last chapter or two. If that fails, I just start writing something, anything, telling myself I’ll come back and find a better starting place later. The funny thing is those tend to be my favorite chapter openings.

Q:  How long does it take you to complete a novel? How many drafts do you go through?
A:  For the Wings of Glory series, each novel took about two years—one for research and plotting, and one for writing. I wrote the first two books before I had a contract, and I’ve lost count of how many drafts they went through as I learned more about writing and refined the manuscripts. Blue Skies Tomorrow “only” went through three drafts, which about gave me palpitations, but I’m writing cleaner and tighter now. For my next series I have to write a book a year, which is faster than I’m used to. However, my children are older now, and I have more time to write, so it’s working.

Q:  Do you plot out your story ahead of time, or do you think it up as you go?
A:  I’m definitely a plotter. I do lots of research before I start, plus character charts and outlines. However, I don’t always have all the plot points worked out in advance, and side characters have a way of springing out of nowhere. And despite my plotting, often a scene will turn out quite different from how I originally planned it.

Q:  After becoming a published author, what surprised you the most?
A:  I was surprised at how much juggling was required. Right now I’m doing publicity for Blue Skies Tomorrow, polishing the first book in my next series for its September 1 deadline, and plotting the second book in the series. In addition, social networking, blogging, and publicity stretch my multi-tasking skills.

Q:  What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to a fledgling writer?
A:  Be teachable and learn as much as you can about the craft of writing and the publishing process. Join a writers’ group, attend conferences, read books on writing, and join American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW). Keep writing, keep submitting, and keep praying.

Q:  If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?
A:  I might be working more hours as a pharmacist now that my children are older. Or I might be doing what I did before writing struck me—pathetic attempts at whatever craft was fashionable with stay-at-home moms. I tried stamping, stenciling, scrapping—I’m horrible at that kind of thing.

Q:  What does your family think about your crazy career?
A:  My poor scientific, business-oriented husband has been baffled by the whole thing, but he supports me. My two sons (13 and 18) are pretty excited, especially the youngest. My daughter, 15…well, she once declared (insert dramatic teen sighs) that I sought publication for the sole purpose of ruining her life. It’s no mistake that God gave me a publishing contract and a teen girl (who is bright and beautiful and witty, by the way) at the same time. She keeps me humble.

Q:  What’s the one far out sci-fi technology you’d most like to see become a household item?
A:  The Star Trek food replicator. Speak your order, it hums and sparkles, and voila! A full complete meal made to order. I want one.

Oh yes, put me down for one of those, too! Thanks so much for visiting today, Sarah.

Sarah Sundin lives in northern California with her husband and three children. When she isn’t ferrying kids to soccer and tennis, she works on-call as a hospital pharmacist and teaches Sunday school. She is the author of the Wings of Glory seriesA Distant Melody (Revell 2010), A Memory Between Us (2010), and Blue Skies Tomorrow (August 2011).

Blue Skies Tomorrow is the third book in the Wings of Glory series, which follows the three Novak brothers, B-17 bomber pilots with the US Eighth Air Force stationed in England during World War II. Each book stands alone.

Lt. Raymond Novak prefers the pulpit to the cockpit, but at least his stateside job training B-17 pilots allows him the luxury of a personal life. As he courts Helen Carlisle, a young war widow and mother who conceals her pain under a frenzy of volunteer work, the sparks of their romance set a fire that flings them both into peril. After Ray leaves to fly a combat mission at the peak of the air war over Europe, Helen takes a job in a dangerous munitions yard and confronts an even graver menace in her own home. Will they find the courage to face their challenges? And can their young love survive until blue skies return?


If you’d like to be entered to win a copy Blue Skies Tomorrow just leave a comment on this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on Sunday, August 14th. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Interview & Giveaway with Author Judy Christie

It's my great pleasure to welcome back fellow Abingdon Press author Judy Christie!

Q:  What was your inspiration for a series about the town of Green, Louisiana?
A:  A long-time newspaper editor and a southerner, I thought it would be interesting to plop a big-city journalist down into a little Louisiana town and see what happened. The first book was “Gone to Green,” about Lois Barker’s move to Green. But I knew immediately I wanted to write a series and let readers follow the characters. There’s always a lot going on in Green, from marriages to tornadoes to the current threat to close the school. Readers tell me they look forward to seeing what happens next. “Rally ‘Round Green” is the fourth book in the series. “Downtown Green,” book 5, will be out next year.

Q:  Have you always wanted to be a writer?
A:  I didn’t try to write my first novel until I turned 50. It was my birthday gift to myself, and I committed to write a novel before I turned 51. So, I sat down and stared at my laptop for a while and started typing. That was four years ago, and my fourth novel just released. I’m still amazed! I have kept a journal since I was nine and have all of them. For many years I was a journalist and wrote or edited daily. I love putting words together and consider it a wonderful gift from God. I also love to talk! 

Q:  How do you come up with your story ideas?
A:  I have tons of ideas waiting to be turned into novels. I get most of them by paying attention to the world around and making up crazy scenarios in my mind. I ask “what if?” a lot. I carry a notebook everywhere and jot notes on everything from how the sky looks to something one of my brothers tells me. Two of my Green readers recently gave me a subscription to their small-town newspaper because it reminds them of the fictional Green News-Item.I always see potential novels in that paper!

Q:  How does your faith impact your writing?
A:  I believe each of is created to do something with our lives and that we are to slow down and enjoy each day more, using our gifts. I trust God to guide me in my daily life and to help me take the best next step, whatever that might be. I pray every day – including about my work and how God wants me to use my time and energy.

Q:  Do you plot out your story ahead of time, or do you think it up as you go?
A:  I’m a Seat of the Plotter writer, a combination of seat of the pants and outlining. I always know the beginning and end of each novel when I start. I have a general idea of what will happen along the way, but much of it unfolds as I’m writing.

Q:  Do you treat yourself to something special when a project is completed?
A:  I celebrate everything! I think we all should enjoy life more. My husband and I throw a party of some sort for every book I have published – with cake and other refreshments. I have stamps made with the cover of my book on them and send out real snail-mail invites. And, I treat myself along the way. When my first novel sold, for example, I bought expensive and wonderful personalized note cards with a typewriter on them and use them to write notes to the many people who encourage me.

Q:  After becoming a published author, what surprised you the most?
A:  How hard it is to maintain the discipline of sitting down at the computer and writing. There are many distractions, and they all seem more immediate than the need to finish a manuscript. My agent told me early on to guard my writing time, and I try to live by that advice. I am thankful for the opportunity to be a writer. My mother worked in food services, and that’s much harder work than making up stories. I try never to whine about the job of writing.

Q:  What’s the most important piece of advice you would give to a fledgling writer?
A:  Sit down and write. I have a free, very un-fancy tip sheet I send to people who want to write a book. Just e-mail me at judy@judychristie.com if you want a copy. The sheet includes a handful of tips that have helped me.

Q:  There’s been a lot said about the future of publishing and the possible death of the print book. What’s your take on eBooks, self-publishing, and such?
A:  Our world is full of change, and somehow we adapt. When I was a teenager, I listened to albums, then 8-track tapes, then cassettes, then CDs and now my iPod. I still listen to music, just in a different form. I like to read certain books in their “old-fashioned” format, but I also enjoy e-readers. My goal is to write good stories that grab readers, no matter how or where they choose to read. I keep a close eye on trends but try not to obsess on this. I have an excellent agent, and I like working with publishing houses who know way more about publishing and distributing books than I do.

The first place Judy Christie ever drove was to the public library. A longtime journalist, she entered the newspaper world as the editor of The Barret Banner in elementary school. She loves primitive antiques with peeling green paint, walking in the park near her North Louisiana home and sitting on her vintage green Kitchen Couch! She’s the author of the Green series of novels and the nonfiction Hurry Less Worry Less series, including the upcoming “Hurry Less Worry Less for Moms.” Her first Young Adult novel, “Wreath,” will be released this fall. For more information, see www.judychristie.com. Judy loves to visit with readers on Facebook, too.

Rally ’Round Green (Abingdon Press) is the fourth book in the Green series, about the owner of a small-town newspaper in Green, La. Journalist Lois Barker Craig changes the town, and the town changes her. In book 4, newlyweds Lois and Chris want life to return to normal after a horrific tornado, but other threats loom on the horizon. Lois, Mayor Eva, and a group of Green School graduates unite to fight to keep their school open, with surprising – and unexpected -- results.

If you’d like to be entered to win a copy of Rally 'Round Green just leave a comment on this blog. I’ll pick a winner at random on Thursday, August 11th. NOTE: This time round, US addresses only. Please leave an email address so I can contact you if you're the winner. (To prevent spammers from trolling for your email, please use this format with the brackets--you [at] yourmail [dot] com--or something similar.) Good luck!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

New Christian Fiction Titles for August 2012

Here's a partial list of this month's new Christian fiction titles. I say partial because it only includes members of American Christian Fiction Writers. If your favorite author isn't here, that doesn't mean he or she doesn't have a new book. More in-depth descriptions of these books can be found on the ACFW FictionFinder website.

A Horseman’s Heart by Myra Johnson -- Romance from Barbour/Heartsong.  When Kip Lorimer shows up with a horse to donate to the family's equine therapy program, Sheridan Cross can't help but be suspicious. A cowboy a thousand miles from home and living out of a horse trailer? What's wrong with this picture?

A Most Unsuitable Match by Stephanie Whitson -- A Historical from Bethany House. They are opposites in every way. . . except how neither one can stop thinking about the other.

Agent Undercover by Lynette Eason -- Romantic Suspense from Love Inspired. A little boy with a secret, a killer with a vendetta, and a man and a woman who will stop at nothing to protect the child while catching the killer.

Aquasynthesis by Grace Bridges, Fred Warren, Caprice Hokstad, P.A. Baines, Adam Graham, R.L. Copple, Travis Perry, Mike Lynch, Keven Newsome, Kat Heckenbach, and Ryan Grabow.  -- Fantasy from Splashdown Books. From classic-style fantasy and science fiction stories, through speculative tales that delve deeper into motivations and meanings, we move from humor to sacrifice by a linking story that connects many very different themes.

Blue Skies Tomorrow by Sarah Sundin -- General Fiction Historical from Revell. In a time of peril, can they find the courage to confront their fears and embrace a love that lasts?

Edge of Grace by Christa Allan  -- General Fiction from Abingdon.  Unable to cope with her brother’s news that he is gay, Caryn Becker rejects him. But when he is attacked and nearly killed, she is forced to make hard choices that take her to the very edge of grace.

Lost in Dreams, Book Two; Altered Heart Series by Roger Bruner and Kristi Rae Bruner  -- Young Adult from Barbour. Eighteen-year-old Kim Hartlinger discovers the victory Jesus provides during the most trying of circumstances as she learns to lean on other Christians.

Marrying Miss Marshall by Lacy Williams  -- Romance from Bethany House. Her job is to protect the town... but who will protect her heart?

Out of Control by Mary Connealy -- Romance from Bethany House. Rafe Kincaid controls everything in his life . . .  until he meets Julia.

Ransome’s Quest by Kaye Dacus  -- Historical Romance from Harvest House.   Romance, intrigue, and swashbuckling leaps of faith create a wonderfully heroic close to this beloved series.

Something Old by Dianne Christner  -- Romance from Barbour.  Love is rarely plain and simple.

Surrender the Dawn by Mary Lu Tyndall  -- A Historical from Barbour.  You’ll be swept away in this seafaring romance between a plucky damsel-in-distress and a nefarious rake who’s selling out his country amid the War of 1812.

The Matrimony Plan by Christine Johnson  -- Historical Romance from Love Inspired.  A rich girl falls in love with a poor boy -- until the tables are turned.