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Archive for January, 2016

Author Interview – DIANN MILLS

weekend with the writers banner 

On January 29 & 30, the second annual Weekend with the Writers Mini-Conference will take place here in the beautiful upstate of South Carolina which is my stomping grounds. So, this month I’m featuring the guest speakers at the conference in an Interview Blitz. Each week I will introduce you to one of the speakers at the conference. (three of whom I met at last year’s conference) Hope you enjoy getting to know each of the fanTAStic authors!

 

 

WEEKEND WITH THE WRITERS CONFERENCE

INTERVIEW BLITZ

 

“We are all driven by specific callings and goals. I call these passions. Obviously one of mine is communicating through the written word. This challenges me from day to day. I also believe in mentoring serious new writers.”

DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers; a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association; International Thriller Writers, and the Faith, Hope, and Love chapter of Romance Writers of America. She is co-director of The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country. Like Weekend With the Writers! So glad you’re here, DiAnn!

 

DiAnn was a guest speaker last year as well, and I was privileged to meet her and chat for a few minutes. I always look forward to her blog posts of writing wisdom and any of her fiction! Please give a big welcome to DIANN MILLS!

 

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“I’m passionate about story, the art of weaving unique characters with an exciting plot. I call the process a dance in which every aspect, technique, twist, and turn is a thrilling adventure for the reader and the writer.”

rem: Welcome to my blog, DiAnn. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised?

DiAnn: Rural Ohio.

rem: Where do you live now?

DiAnn: Houston, Texas for the past 35 years.

rem: Tell us three things about yourself.

DiAnn:

  1. I write while on the treadmill—about 6 miles a day.
  2. My 9 year old granddaughter and I are writing a fantasy book together. It’s almost done! It’s a together project. She is as involved with the writing process as I am.
  3. I’m hyperactive. J Doubt if that’s a surprise.

rem: I love the idea that you’re writing with your granddaughter! Might have to steal that from you! What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

DiAnn: Vanilla – I know boring.

rem: Not boring, classic. What’s your favorite cookie?

DiAnn: Chocolate chip!

rem: Also a time honored classic. If you could have any super power what would it be?

DiAnn: Read people’s minds

rem: Don’t we to a degree? As writers? Which Muppet do you most resemble? Why?

DiAnn: Kermit – I’m not green! He genuinely cares about others.

rem: I like Kermie! Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

DiAnn: Absolutely without a doubt black coffee – I’m a bit of a coffee snob. No tea.

rem: Yes to black coffee! Dogs or Cats?

DiAnn: None – Grandkids

rem: What a precious answer! Superman or Batman?

DiAnn: Superman

rem: Not me, it’s a Robin thing…. Vacation: beach or mountains?

DiAnn: Mountains

rem: Me too!! Sixteen years in Colorado ensured that. What is your most treasured possession?

DiAnn: My relationship with Jesus Christ.

rem: Nothing better than that! What is your greatest fear?

DiAnn: Don’t know!

rem: What a great answer! #nofear What is your greatest regret?

DiAnn: That I didn’t obtain my Masters – of course I could still do it.

rem: And knowing you, you will! What is your favourite quotation and why?

DiAnn: Winston Churchill: Never, Never, Never Give Up

rem: Never, ever. What do you do as a hobby?

DiAnn: Cook!

 

rem: I love to cook! Don’t go by recipes so much, though. What do you most value in a friend?

DiAnn: Trustworthiness

rem: What quality do you most admire in a man or woman?

DiAnn: Sincerity

rem: They go hand in hand, don’t they? When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you?

DiAnn: First line

rem: Narrow field! But telling. Your fiction pet peeve?

DiAnn: Lack of conflict

rem: Dull story without conflict, eh? Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

DiAnn: Some I remember vividly – but never read a book twice.

rem: So many books, so little time, how could we read them twice? (although I’ve read a few a second time.) Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

DiAnn: Joel Rosenberg

rem: If you could chose to be a character in a book, who would it be and why?

DiAnn: Tough question! Every female who was feminine, logical, gorgeous, and wasn’t afraid to love or make a sacrifice.

rem: Because you are feminine, logical, gorgeous, and not afraid to love or make a sacrifice! Who are your favorite authors to read?

DiAnn: Joel Rosenberg, David Baldacci, Harlan Coben, Steven James

rem: What is your favorite genre to read?

DiAnn: Romantic suspense or suspense

rem: Which is more important: plot or characters?

DiAnn: They are inseparable.

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rem: I knew you’d say that! hee hee What would you do if you weren’t writing?

DiAnn: Own a book store and coffee shop.

rem: And write in the back all day! wink wink

Tell us a little about your writing journey.

DiAnn: I started writing in 1996 when my husband dared me to write a book. My first book was released in 1998. Been writing ever since! Hard work. Each book gets harder, takes more time, and challenges me.

Apart from the above! I wouldn’t have started writing if my husband hadn’t dared me. “Stop telling me you’re going to one day write a book. Do it now. Quit your job and see if you can get anything published  in the next year.” I’m stubborn and accepted the challenge. That was in 1996. Sold my first book in 1997, and it was released in 1998.
rem: What is your writing routine?

DiAnn: Up early in the morning. Quiet time. Social media. Breakfast. Treadmill and write at the same time. Write until noon. In the afternoon I create blogs, read, social media, mentoring, and write more!

rem: Not a morning person here. I know I’ve tried! LOL Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

DiAnn: I have an office in my home! It’s a mix of a crystal chandelier, turquoise, white desk and book cases, grandkid pics, and FBI.

rem: Perfect set up!! What makes you struggle as a writer?

DiAnn: To make each book better than the previous book – deeper characterization and plot.

rem: I’ve just got the two out, and I did wonder how I’d top my first one! Seems I pulled it off, though! How do you handle it?

DiAnn: Prayer and hard work.

rem: No better way to handle anything in life. How do you balance the demands of speaking, writing, and coaching?

DiAnn: I’m scheduled, disciplined, and God is my top priority.

rem: Priority is critical. What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

DiAnn: Passion for the written world in a story than entertains.

rem: I love sinking into a story world. What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writers? What 3 things would you recommend not doing?

DiAnn:

Recommend:

  1. Write everyday
  2. Pray
  3. Read

Not recommend:

  1. Isolation
  2. Stop any of the first three
  3. Ignore social media

rem: Yes, yes, and yes, and yes, yes, and yes. Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

DiAnn: What-if in looking at media headlines.

rem: Never ending fodder, there. How many books have you written and do you have a favorite? If so, why?

DiAnn: Sixty six. Every book is a favorite. Every character is a friend. Every book that took more work. Every book that did well. Every book that didn’t do well.

rem: That’s a lot of books! And yes, each has its own flair ad personality. Which character in the story is most like/least like you?

DiAnn: In The Survivor and The Chase – Kariss Walker is the most like me.

Least like me: Tori Templeton, FBI Special Agent in the book I’m currently writing.

rem: Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

DiAnn: Deadly Encounter, book one in the FBI Task Force SeriesVeterinarian Stacy Broussard believed her Saturday morning volunteer horseback ride around Houston’s airport was trouble free until she discovers a dead body, a yellow Lab, and a drone. Houston FBI Special Agent Alex LaBlanc works domestic terrorism, but what he discovers stamps fear across the city.

Deep Extraction (working title) is book 2 in the FBI Task Force Series.

rem: Drones. Straight out of today’s headlines! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

DiAnn: Good always overcomes evil

rem: Yes, is surely does. You have a passion for the situation in Sudan. Talk about that, and your involvement with the Sudanese people.

DiAnn: In 2003, I became acquainted with the Lost Boys of Sudan. My heart went out to these orphans who walked across Sudan looking for hope, safety, and family. I was asked to write their story for a non-profit organization. The more I researched and interviewed the young men and those who worked with them, the more my passion for these courageous men and women grew. Abraham Nhial was one of those orphans, and now he is an Episcopalian Bishop in Southern Sudan. He and I worked together on the nonfiction book Lost Boy No More that is still in print. I also wrote two novels about the situation in Southern Sudan.

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rem: Thanks for joining us today, DiAnn. It’s been a pleasure having on my blog! She’s got a few books out, people! These is just a few of her titles!

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DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at www.diannmills.com.

https://www.facebook.com/diannmills

https://twitter.com/diannmills

https://www.pinterest.com/diannmills/

 

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#diannmills, #weekendwiththewriters, #authorinterview, #deadlock, #danceofplotandcharacter, #lostboysnomore

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Author Interview – LINDA GILDEN

weekend with the writers banner 

On January 29 & 30, the second annual Weekend with the Writers Mini-Conference will take place here in the beautiful upstate of South Carolina which is my stomping grounds.  So, this month I’m featuring the guest speakers at the conference in an Interview Blitz. Each week I will introduce you to one of the speakers at the conference. (three of whom I met at last year’s conference) Hope you enjoy getting to know each of the fanTAStic authors!

 

WEEKEND WITH THE WRITERS CONFERENCE

INTERVIEW BLITZ

Linda Gilden loves to share a great story and help you share your great stories. A frequent radio and television guest, Linda’s words of encouragement help you grasp the tools you need to make your writing and publishing dreams come true.

A wife, mother of three, mother-in-law of two, and grandmother of four children and two dogs, Linda has many wonderful sources for writing and speaking material. Her greatest joy is spending time with her family.

Written communication is important…it is important in our families, it is important in our work, it is important in our world. Just a short note can close a business deal, brighten a day, change a life.

Author of the popular Love Notes series, she is also the author of Mommy Pick-Me-Ups, Mama Was the Queen of Christmas, and many ghostwritten books. With hundreds of magazine articles to her credit, Linda Gilden is a prolific writer who loves to share a great story. As a freelance editor and writing coach working with publishers and individuals she encourages others to make their writing the best it can be.

 

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Please give a big welcome to LINDA GILDEN.

 

rem: Thank you, Linda, for being on my blog this week. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

Linda: I live in the country of the Upstate of SC. Love living here! Except for a few years in New Jersey and Portugal, I have always lived in this area.

 

rem: Howdy neighbor! (for those who don’t already know, I also live in the Upstate of South Carolina) Tell us three things about yourself.

Linda: I love writing and everything about it, especially helping others learn the process. I teach at many writers conferences every year, write articles regularly for several publications, and have 11 books (which is a shock since I loved writing articles and never really thought I’d write books!)

Even more I love being a wife, mother, and grandmother. Times spent with family are the ones I enjoy most. I am so blessed to live close enough that my family is able to visit often.

rem: I agree on both counts! Can’t imagine not writing, and family is everything. What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Linda: Homemade vanilla with lots of Nestle’s Quick on top.

rem: MMMMM What’s your favorite cookie?

Linda: Chocolate chip hands down!

rem: I got some Nestlé dough, c’mon over! Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

Linda: Plain Southern iced tea with sugar and lemon

rem: Lost me there, my years in Colorado converted me to a drinker of unsweet tea! (no lemon either! the horrors!!) Vacation: beach or mountains?

Linda: Beach. There is something about hearing the ocean in the background while you write that is inspiring.

rem: Oh my, now I need some time at the beach! What is your favourite quotation and why?

Linda: “If you want to change the world, pick up a pen.” By Martin Luther because I believe writers can change the world one life at a time!

rem: I like that, like it a lot. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you?

Linda: Reader engagement or lack of.

rem: Well, if the reader’s not engaged, what’s the point? What’s your fiction pet peeve?

Linda: Cliffhangers that make you wait until the next book to learn the rest of the story.

rem: Oh so frustrating! Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

Linda: I have read tons of books but the one I have read the most is the Bible.

rem: Always. And, it stays with us. Which is more important: plot or characters?

Linda: Plot

rem: What would you do if you weren’t writing?

Linda: Be miserable! Every time I walk by my computer it beckons me to stop and write something!

rem: Ya know, I’m sure I would too! Tell us a little about your writing journey.

Linda: I have loved to write ever since second grade, when I wrote the story of my younger brother’s birth. My teacher let me read it in front of the class, and I was hooked! However, because of a discouraging experience with a college creative writing professor, I gave up my dream of writing for many years. About twenty-five years ago, my husband encouraged me to pick up my dream again. I attended my first writers conference and discovered an exciting world I never knew existed.

rem: Rather amazing world it is, too! What is your writing routine?

Linda: I write best in long sessions, preferably starting right after I get up in the morning.

rem: I have to break mine up into manageable sessions, maybe an hour at a time, or a break every 1000 words. But I definitely can’t tackle writing (or anything) when I first get up! Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

Linda: It varies but as long as I can wear my pajamas I’m good!

rem: I’m with you on the jammies, 100%! What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

Linda: The feeling of doing exactly what I know God called me to do.

rem: A-MEN! What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer?

Linda: 1. Listen to other writers and learn all you can. Never stop learning. Join a critique group. 2.Don’t hold your writing too tightly. What you think is a children’s book may turn into a screenplay or something like that! Listen to professional editors and publishers when they critique your work. Many new writers put everything they know in their first article or book when they actually have many subjects to write about. 3.Encourage other writers who are not as far along as you are. There is always someone who can benefit from your knowledge.

rem: Good list, especially never stop learning. What 3 things would recommend not doing?

Linda: 1. Don’t feel like this business is a competition. God only made one you and only you can write in your voice and from your perspective. There is room enough in this business for everyone. Just make sure you rise to the top by providing excellently-crafted copy. 2.Don’t continue to feel like this is a hobby for too long. Treat your writing as a business. 3.Don’t miss opportunities. Keep your eyes and ears open for writing opportunities where you live, on the web, and everywhere else.

rem: Also a great list. Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

Linda: Family

rem: Oh! the wacky wonderful world of family! It’s never ending. Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?

Linda: I have different favorites at different times! At Christmas my favorite is Mama Was the Queen of Christmas because it encourages families to make memories as they keep Christ the center of their Christmas celebrations.

rem: Oh, I like that. Which character in the story is most like/least like you?

Linda: It would have to be Mama in Mama Was the Queen of Christmas.

rem: Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

Linda: I have three books coming out this year. Why You Do What You Do will be released in early February by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Words to Live By will be released by Worthy in July. Called to Speak will be released by New Hope – no exact release date yet. I am excited about all of them. Just finished the galleys for Why You Do What You Do and realize all over again how important it is to our relationships to understand each other. But every time I work on Words To Live By I get really excited about providing a word a week for readers to focus on.

I guess that is just a hard question because I don’t start a new book unless it is something I am passionate about. So throughout the process, God continues to confirm that my passion is well-placed. If ever that confirmation is not there, then either I don’t continue that book at the moment or find that without the passion the pleasure in writing it is hard to find as well.

rem: What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

Linda: I hope my readers will close my books feeling encouragement and enlightenment. I hope they will feel their time has been well-spent because in some way they received a blessing!

rem: That’s a good expectation for any author with any of his or her books. Thanks for joining us today, Linda. It’s been a pleasure having on my blog!

 

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FB – https://www.facebook.com/linda.gilden

Twitter – @LindaGilden

Linked In – #LindaGilden

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#lindagilden, #weekendwiththewriters, #authorinterview, #personalityperspectives, #calledtowrite, #mamawasthequeenofChristmas

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Author Interview – KRISTEN HEITZMANN

weekend with the writers banner

 

On January 29 & 30, the second annual Weekend with the Writers Mini-Conference

ill take place here in the beautiful upstate of South Carolina which is my stomping grounds.

So, this month I’m featuring the guest speakers from the conference

in an Interview Blitz. Each week I will introduce you to

one of the speakers at the conference. (three of whom I met at last year’s conference)

ope you enjoy getting to know each of the fanTAStic authors!

 

 

 

WEEKEND WITH THE WRITERS CONFERENCE

INTERVIEW BLITZ

 

“People often ask why I started writing and I say to get the stories out of my head. Some say they’d like to write a book, but I say if you’re not wracked with labor pains, there are easier ways to express yourself.”

Kristen Heitzmann is the bestselling author of contemporary romantic suspense, psychological suspense, and historical novels, including Christy Award finalists Indivisible and The Tender Vine and Christy Award winner Secrets. (this interviewer is reading and enjoying now!) In 2013, her novel The Breath of Dawn won both a Christy Award and Inspirational Readers Choice Award and was a finalist for a people’s choice award in the Netherlands. She is a fiction track and workshop teacher at American Christian Fiction Writers Conference and keynote speaker for women’s and writers’ conferences.

An artist and mountain hiker, Kristen lives in Colorado with her husband, pets, wildlife, and extended family.

 

“The writer’s mind is never still. Everything becomes a story, everyone a character. Read everything you can, learn and develop your craft. Good writing can be taught, but writers are born and commissioned.”

 

Please give a big welcome to KRISTEN HEITZMANN. Kristen was also at last year’s conference and I was privileged to spend some time with her. I had read Freefall several years ago and she immediately was one of my favorite authors. Seems we have much in common besides our writing!

 

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rem: Thank you, Kristen, for being on my blog this week. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

Kristen: I was born in Indiana but have lived nearly all my life in Colorado. My home is in the Rocky Mountain foothills, and I hit the trails alone every chance I get. In all seasons, the high altitude air, the smell of pine and shafting sunlight through the trees, and especially the stony creeks make me a happy hiker.

rem: Rocky Mountain High! I miss it! Tell us three things about yourself.

Kristen: Art is another passion, drawing, sculpting, and various crafts, as well as photography. I used to play musical instruments when I had time to be good at them. Was a concert violinist, and played guitar and tambourine in music ministry.

rem: This does not surprise me, we are kindred spirits. If you could have any super power what would it be?

Kristen: Healing. Hands down if I could do anything it would be healing the wounded.

rem: I think your words are healing. What is your most treasured possession?

Kristen: My imagination. Never a dull moment. LOL

rem: My imagination wonders what people’s minds do without imagination…What is your greatest fear?

Kristen: Being irrelevant

rem: Yeah, ouch. What is your greatest regret?

Kristen: Not having more time with my mom. I miss her.

rem: {{{{{HUGZ}}}}} What do you most value in a friend?

Kristen: Trust and confidentiality.

rem: Not much of a friendship without that, eh? What quality do you most admire in a man or woman?

Kristen: Wisdom and humor

rem: Humor is always good—with a dose of wisdom to know when not to be humorous. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you?

Kristen: Depth of characters. I know there are shallow people in the world, but I don’t want to spend time with them. I want fictional characters to fascinate, amuse, and tug at my heart.

rem: Read a great story last year, but couldn’t keep up with secondary characters for that very reason, the author didn’t give much more than the name. Your fiction pet peeve?

Kristen: Lousy dialogue.

rem: Well, who wants to talk to anyone who doesn’t dialogue back with you? Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

Kristen: Father Emilio Sandoz, The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

rem: Added to my reading list… Who are your favorite authors to read?

Kristen: So many! Craig Johnson, Louise Penny, Karen White, Suzanna Kearsley, John Lescroart, Dean Koontz, J.R.R. Tolkien, Mary Stewart, and Elizabeth Goudge to name only a few.

rem: That’s a great list! What is your favorite genre to read?

Kristen: Actually all kinds of fiction, though I’m not that into horror, only selective Koontz or sometimes Stephen King

rem: Same here. What is your Writing Routine?

Kristen: My routine is very freeform. If I’m breathing, I’m probably working in one form or another, reading, observing, or creating. I spend a lot of hours writing, sometimes into the night, sometimes all night. I’ve described my writing life like a river that continuously flows. People jump in and people jump out. Sometimes I climb out for a bit, but it never really stops.

rem: I like that, a river that flows, nice, and very apt. Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

Kristen: I write all over my house, inside and out. In my office, I have a treadmill desk since I really don’t like sitting much. My most fun writing is done on my phone while I hike the mountain trails by my house—multitasking at its best.

rem: Love that about writing while hiking! And just a little bit jealous! What makes you struggle as an author?

Kristen: All the other stuff I have to do that involves marketing etc. How do you handle it? I do what feels right and don’t force the rest.

rem: I know right!! Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing?

Kristen: Creating and editing are intermingled from start to finish for me. Writing a scene is like painting, broad strokes to start, then a more detailed brush to layer, then a touch here and a touch there. As the story moves forward, I regularly reach back, adding highlights and shadows, texture and tone. If I had to pick one, I’d say editing because it feels so good to pare down every nonessential element until the purest story remains.

rem: What a wonderful description of the process. What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

Kristen: What I learn about myself, God, and others in the process.

rem: And it is a continual learning process. What was the hardest thing about publishing?

Kristen: Not having the final say in the covers. The easiest? Having a sales team.

rem: What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer?

Kristen: Read, Write, Repeat.

rem: What 3 things would you recommend not doing?

Kristen: Don’t try to get an agent, don’t try to get a publisher, don’t even think about getting published until you’ve poured everything you have and are into writing the very best you can write and then learn how to write it even better. Trust me, you will look back and thank yourself.

rem: Sound advice, good wisdom in those words. Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

Kristen: I don’t know. They just spring out of my head. It’s a jungle in there.

rem: I hear that! LOL Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written?

Kristen: Probably The Breath of Dawn, though it’s best read in the whole series after A Rush of Wings and The Still of Night.

rem: If so, why?

Kristen: Morgan Spencer. His character arc spans all three books and he’s, well, sigh-worthy. But not for the usual reasons. Morgan is very ornery, very deep, and, okay, some of the usual reasons too.

rem: Ornery characters make for interesting reading. Which character in the story is most like/least like you?

Kristen: Quinn Reilly. She took Morgan on and met him toe to toe in a very cute and loving way. I guess that’s my style too.

rem: Tell us a little about your latest book?

Kristen: Told You So is my first novel written outside the strictest Christian market parameters. While I believe it is one of the most redemptive novels I have done, my hope in writing it as realistically as I did was to reach readers in need of these truths in a palatable form. It is a literary romantic comedy set in New York City that actually goes quite deep in the characters’ creative processes and backstories with themes of forgiveness, trust, beauty and art wrapped up in witty banter.

rem: What is your current project?

Kristen: I’m writing the second in the series, Told You Twice, that has taken characters form the first novel, along with new, into another rollicking adventure with undertones of New York street kids, loss and grief, and more forgiveness and trust. J

rem: Can’t wait to get my hands on these! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

Kristen: People are fallible and fragile. God is neither.

rem: Amen, Kristen, so true! Thanks for joining us today, it’s been a pleasure having on my blog!

“I merely scribe their thoughts, actions, and repartee.”

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www.kristenheitzmann.com

www.facebook.com/kristen.f.heitzmann

www.facebook.com/KristenHeitzmann?ref=hl

https://twitter.com/KFHeitzmann

 

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#kristenheitzmann, #weekendwiththewriters, #authorinterview, #toldyouso, #freefall, #rockymountainhigh

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Author Interview – RICHARD MABRY

 weekend with the writers banner

On January 29 & 30, the second annual Weekend with the Writers Mini-Conference

ill take place here in the beautiful upstate of South Carolina which is my stomping grounds.

So, this month I’m featuring the guest speakers from the conference

in an Interview Blitz. Each week I will introduce you to

one of the speakers at the conference. (three of whom I met at last year’s conference)

ope you enjoy getting to know each of the fanTAStic authors!

 

 

WEEKEND WITH THE WRITERS CONFERENCE INTERVIEW BLITZ

“He doesn’t preach.  He doesn’t teach.  He is a master at Show and Tell.” -The Suspense Zone. “… there’s more to [Dr. Mabry] than “M.D.” covers.” His medical specialty was otolaryngology (fun word that means ear, nose, and throat doctor.) He received the Air force Commendation medal for saving a girl’s life in the Azores and he says his greatest reward in medicine is “seeing patients get better under [his] care.”

I owe a particular thanks to Dr. Mabry for being a great resource in my research for my latest novel; one of my characters suffers a tragic accident and I needed to know what injuries were plausible from such a fall. Many thanks to Dr. Mabry for his help.

And now, please give a big welcome to Dr. RICHARD MABRY.

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rem: Thank you, Richard, for being on my blog this week. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

Richard: I was born in northern Texas, went to college and medical school in this area, had a three year “vacation” with Uncle Sam serving at the 1605th Air Force Hospital in the Azores, then came back to the Dallas area to practice. After I retired from medicine, we moved to a northern suburb of Dallas.

 

rem: I have not served in the military, but I am a military brat—USAF as a matter of fact. Tell us three things about yourself.

Richard:

  1. Along the way I’ve served as a music minister for three Baptist congregations
  2. I’ve played beach volleyball with the Pittsburgh Steelers in Hawaii
  3. I had a year playing semi-pro baseball, but although I could throw a curve ball, I couldn’t hit one.

 

rem: Vollyball, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Hawaii are not often seen together in the same sentence. LOL Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

Richard: Coffee in the morning—a couple of cups. Iced tea with artificial sweetener when we eat out.

 

rem: I gotta have my morning coffee, then I’m a tea drinker all day long, unsweet. Vacation: beach or mountains?

Richard: The mountains are pretty, but in my heart of hearts I still prefer the beach.

 

rem: Both have much to offer to the soul. What is your greatest regret?

Richard: It wasn’t until late in my life that I realized that the pleasure was as much in the journey as in arriving at the destination. I wish I’d learned that sooner

 

rem: Powerful lesson. I think perhaps the journey of learning that is part of the lesson. What do you do as a hobby?

Richard: I’m not sure whether it’s a hobby or an obsession, but since I’ve been retired I play golf about once a week, weather and schedule permitting. My golf partner and I don’t keep score, preferring to enjoy being outdoors and marveling at our occasional good shots while not worrying about the bad ones.

 

rem: Good way to play! When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

Richard: A story has to hold my interest in the first few pages. I have to want to know what comes next. Otherwise, I file it under “life’s too short.” And my pet peeve—one I’ve held since my first class in writing—is the author who switches point of view in the middle of a scene. That’s just wrong.

 

rem: Not only is that “just wrong” but confusing, too. Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?

Richard: I’ve read mystery, suspense, action, and thrillers for many years, starting long before I had my first novel published. Although there are numerous authors whose work I admire, when I need to escape for a while I pull out and reread books by authors like Robert B. Parker, Michael Palmer, Ross Thomas. Incidentally, all these men are deceased, which may say something about my taste in books.

 

rem: Sounds like your taste runs to classic, time-honored prose. What would you do if you weren’t writing?

Richard: My initial response is “Probably drive my wife crazy.” But in actuality, if God hadn’t directed my path toward writing, I’d probably still be teaching doctors-in-training, trying to pass on what I’ve learned in my time in practice.

 

rem: And that shows up in your writing, does it not? What is your writing routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

Richard: After coffee and breakfast, I repair to my tiny office, which is where I write, using a Mac laptop with a peripheral keyboard and monitor. Unlike some of my colleagues, I don’t set a daily or weekly goal for so many words or pages. A lot of it depends on the ideas buzzing around in my head, my schedule, and other things. But I always meet my deadlines.

 

rem: I’m so not a plotter/planner, and follow the buzzing in my head too, to a fault. That’s one of my goals for this year, to tighten that and be more productive. Tell us a little about your writing journey. How did you transition from doctor to author?

Richard: In 1999, my wife of forty years, Cynthia, suffered a sudden, terminal stroke. I started using journaling to help channel my grief. A friend read my raw journalings and insisted I write a book—something about which I had not the tiniest clue. But after attending a couple of writing retreats and studying numerous books on the craft, I began querying editors. (This was in the days before agents became the gatekeepers of publication). Several years passed, and like most authors I received a lot of rejections. But eventually Kregel Publications gave me a contract to publish The Tender Scar: Life After The Death Of A Spouse. I’m pleased to say that, after a decade in print, it’s still ministering to those who’ve suffered the loss of a loved one.

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At the first writing conference I attended, a couple of writers (James Scott Bell and Alton Gansky) suggested I try my hand at writing a novel. I accepted the challenge. After four years and four novels that garnered forty rejections, I got my first contract. My last book, Miracle Drug, was my ninth published novel.

 

rem: I’m so sorry about the loss of your wife. But I also can’t think of a better way to “channel your grief” and then to minister to others. Thank you for sharing your story with others who have faced the same loss.

Tell us a little about your latest book?

Richard: In Miracle Drug, a doctor is suddenly thrust into the role of personal physician to a former president of the US. Then that ex-president returns from a fact-finding trip from South America with an infection by a rare and universally fatal disease. The nurse who accompanied him is also infected…and she’s the doctor’s fiancé. When he learns of an experimental drug that may reverse the course of the infection, it turns out that there may only be enough to treat one patient.

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I hope your readers will check out that book, and will enjoy it the numerous others I’ve written, as well.

 

rem: I know I can’t wait to get my hands on it! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

Richard: When we look to God for help in our decisions, He’ll guide us in the right direction—but we have to be prepared to take the heat if what we do is unpopular or seems wrong.

rem: That’s a powerful message, Doctor. Thanks for joining us today. It’s been a pleasure having you on my blog!

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Connect with Dr. Mabry at:

Twitter: http://twitter.com/richardmabry

Facebook: http://facebook.com/rmabrybooks

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1Pa2xOC

 

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#richardmabry, #weekendwiththewriters, #authorinterview, #thetenderscar, #miracledrug

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Author Interview – EDIE MELSON

 

weekend with the writers banner

On January 29 & 30, the second annual Weekend with the Writers Mini-Conference will take place here in the beautiful upstate of South Carolina which is my stomping grounds.  So, this month I’m featuring the guest speakers at the conference in an Interview Blitz. Each week I will introduce you to one of the speakers at the conference. (three of whom I met at last year’s conference) Hope you enjoy getting to know each of the fanTAStic authors!

 

WEEKEND WITH THE WRITERS CONFERENCE

INTERVIEW BLITZ

 

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Please give a big welcome to EDIE MELSON. I had pleasure of meeting Edie at last year’s conference. She is a prolific blogger, as well as writing instructor with a focus on social media. Her blog, The Write Conversation, is loaded with guidelines and tips for getting the most from our online presence. She’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge MountainsChristian Writers Conference, the Military Family Blogger at Guideposts.org
and Senior Editor at Novel Rocket
“Edie Melson is a woman with a passion to share what the love of God looks like in practical application. Her heart to help others hear from God and find His path for their lives has connected her with women everywhere.”

 

rem: Thank you, Edie, for being on my blog this week. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised?

Edie: I was raised in Texas, in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area.

rem: And where do you live now?

Edie: I live in a suburb of Greenville, SC – in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

rem: We’re practically neighbors! Tell us three things about yourself.

Edie: I love to knit. I grew up with very creative parents, my dad was a classical musician & music professor at UTA (Arlington, TX) and photographer. My mom is an internationally known artist (watercolor & multimedia). I always say that I’m creative out of self-defense.

rem: Yarn seems to be a recurring theme, makes me want to dig out my knitting needles and crochet hooks! What’s your favorite cookie?

Edie: My favorite cookie is a decorated sugar cookie – decorated with royal icing!

rem: Sounds Christmassy! Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

Edie: I’m a hot tea drinker and I’m addicted to the Chai Tea Latte’s from Starbucks with a shot of sugar free vanilla syrup

rem: I’m not crazy about Chai but I do love a good cuppa English breakfast tea. Dogs or Cats? Which do you prefer? What are the names of your pets?

Edie: I’m equal – I have a dog, Jake, who’s 15 and is a German Shepherd/Chow/Mut. And a 10 yr old tortoise shell long-haired cat named Emily Dickinson

rem: That’s some longevity in your animal babies. What is your greatest fear?

Edie: My greatest fear is looking back and wishing I’d walked through more of the doors God opened for me.

rem: Me too, but I see it as a learning curve. What is your favourite quotation and why?

Edie: Therefore, if you extract the precious from the worthless you will become My spokesperson. Jeremiah 15:19. This reminds me that what I do isn’t perfect, I need to be willing to work to make it shine.

rem: That’s what He does in us, isn’t it? Extracts the precious from the worthless! What do you most value in a friend?

Edie: Loyalty and Honesty.

rem: Without that, it’s not much of a friendship, is it? When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

Edie: An unsatisfying ending. It doesn’t always have to be a happy ending – although that is my preference. But it needs to make sense and wrap up all the loose ends. I ALWAYS read the last page of a book before I buy it unless I know and trust the author.

rem: I try not to read that last page, but I agree about an ending that pulls things together. Else, what’s the point of the story? Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

Edie: There are two that are tied: GIANT, by Edna Ferber and GONE WITH THE WIND, by Margaret Mitchell

rem: GONE WITH THE WIND is a great classic! Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?

Edie: I love classic scifi – especially Isaac Asimov.

rem: What would you do if you weren’t writing?

Edie: I truly think I’d shrivel up and die. I’ve learned that I process life through words – that’s what helps me make sense of whatever is going on.

rem: You’re not the only one who’s told me that. And I think I do the same! Tell us a little about your writing/blogging journey.

Edie: I began to get serious about my writing in the late 90s. I started my blog in December of 2009 and now get between 30,000 – 50,000 unique views per month and have reached over 1.7 million views. I began as a freelance writer because I needed to earn money and published over 700 articles in 2010 and also in 2011. I’d always wanted to write books, but I believe that putting my time in as a freelancer taught me so much. It also allowed me to prove myself as a writer and gave me time to build a platform. In 1996, I was turned down by a major publisher because of having no platform. I think that is what has made me so focused on building a following. As of the end of this year, I will 8 published books.

rem: I for one am glad you focused on building a platform—and share your knowledge with the rest of us! What is your writing routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

Edie: I recently took over an upstairs bedroom for my office and love writing there. We also have a beautiful screened-in back porch and I LOVE to write out there when the weather is nice (about 9 months out of the year). I generally write creatively in the morning and edit/do email and things in the afternoon.

rem: Ah! The stuff of (my) dreams! What makes you struggle as a writer? How do you handle it?

Edie: I’m my own worst enemy. My internal voices are fearful and condemning. I have to work to overcome the negativity in my own brain.

rem: I am well familiar with those voices. Thankfully they are mostly silenced now. How do you balance the demands of speaking, writing, and coaching?

Edie: I’m still working on that, I definitely haven’t arrived. But I try to use what I call the chunky method. I break tasks into chunks of time and focus on one thing at a time, even though I do several things a day.

rem: Isn’t that the nature of being a creative? (And do we ever really “arrive?”) What do you enjoy most about being a writer/blogger?

Edie: To paraphrase Eric Lidell (Chariots of Fire) “When I write, I feel God’s pleasure.” It’s not always easy, but writing brings me joy. I also love working at home and setting my own hours.

rem: Love that quote! ‘Cause I feel the same way! What are your top 3 social media and networking recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

Edie: To Do:

  1. Be consistent. Small, consistent steps will get you much farther, much faster, than spending hours once every week or so. (And spend no more than 30 minutes a day on social media.)
  2. Don’t make it about you. I have what I call, Edie’s 5 to 1 Rule. For every 5 social media updates, you’re only allowed 1 about yourself or your product.
  3. Find your social media sweet spot and spend the bulk of your time there. We all have to do Facebook and Twitter (because that will net you almost 100% of your audience) but we don’t have to like them both. I’m a Twitter fan and get more interaction there, so I spend more time there. I still do FB, but I spend more time on twitter because I get more bang for my buck there.

Not To Do:

  1. Don’t chase every new platform. Do the basics, don’t try to do everything.
  2. Don’t use any picture but a headshot for your social media avatars and make sure they’re consistent from network to network so people can find you. (rem: by the way, I’m doing this now because I remember you saying at last year’s conference!)
  3. Don’t wait to build a social media presence. I have a friend who waited until after she had a publisher interested in her book and while they did eventually offer her a contract – it had NO ADVANCE. The reason was because she had no social media platform. Yes, spend the bulk of your time learning to write well, but DO NOT neglect doing social media at the same time. Remember, small consistent steps!

rem: Slow and steady, seems solid advice to me! Tell us a little about your books, Fighting Fear, Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle and While My Soldier Serves.

Edie: In 2006, our oldest son went from high school graduation, to Marine Corps Boot Camp, and on to Iraq as a frontline infantry Marine. I promised God if He stuck with us and helped us survive, He could do anything He wanted with my story. The first book, Fighting Fear, was published with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas and Eddie Jones (the publisher) helped shape that book. It’s a unique blend of devotional and anthology. Each chapter has several true stories of how someone coped with fear while their soldier was at war. It covers time from WWII through the Iraq conflict.

 

From there, I got the opportunity to start blogging with Guideposts as their Military Family Blogger.

 

That led me to my next book, While My Soldier Serves, with Worthy Inspired. I’ve been so blessed to work with Pamela Clements there as she shaped this book. This book is simply prayers for a soldier, written from the point of view of someone who cares about them. It’s appropriate for an individual or to use in a group setting. A lot of it was taken from my deployment prayer journal that I kept during our son’s two deployments. It’s been an amazing experience to be able to write an entire book of prayers.

rem: So touching and poignant, thanks for joining us today, Edie. It’s been a pleasure having on my blog!

 

edie - book images

 

You can find Edie at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/edie.melson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EdieMelson

Website: http://thewriteconversation.blogspot.com

Guideposts Blog: https://www.guideposts.org/users/egmelson

Amazon Fighting Fear: http://www.amazon.com/Fighting-Fear-Military-Devotional-Veterans-ebook/dp/B0065QXICK/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1451431330&sr=1-6&keywords=edie+melson

Amazon While My Soldier Serves: http://www.amazon.com/While-My-Soldier-Serves-Military-ebook/dp/B00TRAAZ90/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1451431330&sr=1-1&keywords=edie+melson

 

 

#ediemelson, #weekendwiththewriters, #authorinterview, #blogger, #TheWriteConversation, #novelrocket, #socialmediacoach, #whilemysoldierserves

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Slide1Have you discovered your identity? Have you questioned your identity? Your purpose? I have. I spent decades of my life trying to be someone I’m not. Trying to fit someone else’s idea of success. It didn’t work. I was good at it, whatever I put my hand to (there’s a Scripture about that) but that didn’t make me successful. I was a failure and I felt the weight of it every day of my life.

Slide2

My characters in my stories face such an ordeal. For reasons as different as you and I, as individual as snowflakes, my characters are searching for their own soul. Sometimes unaware, sometimes tangibly aware, and raw.

Slide3

Have you lived with a person you know is not who you are? I have. And so have my characters in my stories. I know you can relate, pretending to be something you’re not. Putting on a façade to please others, to make someone else happy.

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But what about you? Who makes you happy? How do you make yourself happy? Because truly, if we’re not—I’m not—happy with ourselves, we’re not going to be happy with someone else, either.

 

That’s been my years-long journey. Discovering who I am. The journey has been torturous at times, and painful. But there aren’t any shortcuts. Shortcuts only lead to delays and complications. I know, I tried them. So did Rose. (from Clara Bess, book 2 in my unsavory heritage series) And Rose died without letting herself be happy.

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Don’t let that be you. Fight for who you are. Know who you are, know yourself. I did it. My characters did it. You can do it, too.

 

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#identitycrisis, #burdenoffailure, #facade, #selfdiscovery, #IAMME, #ILIKEME

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