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BLOGWORDS – Thursday 15 June 2017 – CHAT THURSDAY – SERIOUSLY WRITE INTERVIEW BLITZ – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – SANDY ARDOIN

CHAT THURSDAY – SERIOUSLY WRITE INTERVIEW BLITZ – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – SANDY ARDOIN

“It’s important to let the seed of joy grow through the darkness of adversity.”

 

“In my fiction, I introduce you to imperfect personalities—men and women you can laugh with, cry with, and want to shake straight a time or two.

 

rem:  Hullo Sandy! Welcome to my little nest! Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

SANDY:  I’m originally from a small Indiana town, but moved to Texas at 16. My husband and I are empty-nesters. We’ve been living in North Carolina for twenty-one years and love it here.

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

SANDY:  I don’t like heights, but … I prefer the mountains to the beach. And I did not inherit my mom’s love of cooking.

 

rem:  I love the mountains, too! Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

SANDY: Absolutely coffee in the mornings, not in the afternoons. I don’t drink much tea unless it’s winter and the tea is hot. Then it’s generally Earl Grey. When I do drink iced tea, it’s sweet. Shh… Don’t tell tea connoisseurs, but I’m a big fan of McDonald’s tea! It’s like slurping melted sugar.

rem:  Hello? Connoisseur here! LOL But you’re right, McD’s does have good tea.

What’s the most random thing in your bag or on your desk?

SANDY:  The most random thing? The two-pound hand weights I never seem to use except as bookends. I have great intentions, but they rarely move from their duty holding back some of the notebooks on my desk.

rem:  Ya, I have “Thing 1” and “Thing 2,” former 12 oz Coke bottles filled with water for the purpose of using as weights. For lifting. They’re cute decorations, though… Your movie snack of choice?

SANDY:  I rarely snack while at the movies, but if I did, it would be popcorn with lots of butter and salt. At home, while watching TV, it’s ice cream, though I try to keep it to a minimum.

rem:  Yum to both! If you could go back in time, what era would you choose and why?

SANDY:  I would go back to the 1880s of the Midwest or West. I think it’s a result of being raised on ’60s westerns and growing up a horse fanatic. It’s a time when the world was starting to modernize (as we know it) with various inventions and conventions, yet there was still a wildness with the continued settling of the country.

rem:  The west does have a wild sense to it, doesn’t it? (also a kid of the ‘60’s) Would you bungee ?

SANDY:  I would not bungee. I prefer to use rubber bands for their original purpose. 😉

rem:  Bahahahah!  #bestanswerever Rolling Stones or Beatles?

SANDY:  I was never a big fan of either. Neil Diamond was my guy. However, I’d prefer the Beatles any day over the Stones. (Sorry, Mick.)

rem:  Ohhhhh, yeahhhhh, love me some Neil Diamond!  #SweetCaroline #CherryCherry, #SongSungBlue, #HelloAgain, #ForeverInBlueJeans  Oh…     What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

SANDY:  Foremost with Christian fiction, I think you know you’re getting a story that is clean, which is something you can’t always predict when picking up a general market book. I did a survey once and asked people why they read Christian fiction. That was the number one reason. There’s also the spiritual encouragement we get from the stories—seeing characters overcome through trusting God. Don’t we find satisfaction in knowing someone has found that faith, even if they’re fictional? Writing Christian fiction is good for me, because I always seem to learn something along the way—either from my characters’ experiences or researching the themes. It’s deepened my relationship with the Lord.

rem:  Well said, Sandy. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

SANDY:  Writers read differently than non-writers. Our minds are always on the lookout for those rules: no head-hopping, little to no telling, etc. It seldom happens, but I’ll pick a bestselling book that non-writers rave over. I can’t finish it, or if I do, I don’t enjoy it as much, because I’m always focusing on those things I’m taught not to do. rem: LOL, yes, I’m the same way!

My pet peeve is the repetition of a word within a short space or using a particular phrase repeatedly throughout a book. The more unusual it is, the more it stands out and becomes annoying to me. The only exception to a repeated phrase is if it’s a characteristic of a character used in dialog. As writers, we all have pet words or phrases. I certainly do. But it’s good to try to catch those things in the editing.

rem:  Ahem, I may or may not be guilty. Which is more important: plot or characters?

SANDY:  Back when I didn’t know anything, I would have said plot. These days, with deep POV, I think it’s the characters. Readers don’t want to read about fictional people. They want to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them and experience what they experience.

rem:  I like that, “stand shoulder-to-shoulder with them and experience what they experience.” What would you do if you weren’t writing?

SANDY:  Well … hmm … I don’t know. More gardening, certainly. Probably more shopping, in which case, I think it’s good I have something else to occupy my time each day.

rem:  LOL What are you reading right now?

SANDY:  At this moment, I’m finishing up Ronie Kendig’s new novel, Conspiracy of Silence.

rem:  That looks so good! What do you munch on while you write?

SANDY:  Other than eating my breakfast while I work, I try not to munch while I write. Sometimes I fail. In those cases, it’s generally chocolate-related.

 

rem:  Such discipline… Tell us a little about your writing journey.

SANDY:  Writing is something I’d always wanted to do, but didn’t have the courage to try until I found a community education class in my Texas town. We formed a writer’s group afterward, and I was hooked. I began with greeting cards and posters, then went on to short stories for childrens’ denominational publications after I became a stay-at-home mom. I also wrote adult short stories. It wasn’t until about eight or nine years ago that I was able to complete a novel—which will never see the light of day! Since then, I’ve concentrated on publishing novels and novellas.

rem:  Greeting cards! How fun! How long have you been a member of the Seriously Write team?

SANDY:  I had to look that one up. Dora Hiers invited me to do a post for her in January of 2013. Then, when one of the hostesses left, the lovely ladies invited me to take her place. They’re a great group of writers and friends, and I so appreciate them letting me join the blog!

rem:  It’s one of my [many] favourite blogs. What do you like best about Seriously Write blog?

SANDY:  Other than the helpful writing tips and encouragement—both spiritual and writing-wise—I like getting to “meet” so many writers and offering them a chance to add our blog to their tours when they have a new release.

rem:  And I get to meet all of you!  😉  How often do you post on the blog?

SANDY:  Altogether, I’ve done about eighteen posts since 2013. I started out doing something for every fifth Wednesday, but now prefer to give others the spot.

rem:  I love how ya’ll switch it up, and have your guest spots. You switched from writing short stories to novellas. What prompted the switch?

SANDY:  I actually went from short stories to novels when I felt the Lord telling me it was time to do so. I’d tried writing novels before, but it never seemed the thing to do at the time. But, you’re right, my first published book was a novella, and I’ve written a couple others since that aren’t published.

rem:  I like that your characters have “imperfect personalities.” What are some of the imperfections you give them, and what’s your favorite or worst one?

SANDY:  It seems so many of my heroes and heroines have difficulty with forgiveness—of themselves or others. I think it’s a universal theme in much of Christian fiction. Pride is the next biggie. I think my favorite imperfect character is a heroine in an as-yet-unpublished novel. She’s an incredibly strong woman on the outside, yet she struggles with a ton of guilt over her past actions (unforgiveness). She has trouble seeing herself as others see her. I think my worst imperfect personality is a secondary character from that same book—an antagonist. He’s arrogant and self-centered (pride), but he has potential and I so want to redeem him one day. 😊

rem:  That one’s a biggie! (forgiveness) What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

SANDY: Ha! No cave. And a coffeehouse is too noisy, not to mention I’d probably be on too much of a caffeine high to concentrate! I took over my daughter’s bedroom as soon as she moved out on her own. It’s a joke around here that it’s something she hasn’t gotten over yet, but there are no childhood shrines in this house! 😊 I shut myself in about 7:30 a.m. and for (at least) the first couple hours, I work on social media, emails, blogs—all the writing tasks that don’t involve my current project. At times, it’s most of the morning. Then I buckle down to get my word count in until about 5:00 most days. Saturdays are minimal, and I don’t work on Sundays.

rem:  Not so different to mine, only ‘cept shift it a few hours later in the day…  LOL What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

SANDY:  I struggle with a number of things, but doubt is a big one right now. Am I working on the right project? Is my plot compelling enough? Can I get the story across in an interesting way? I handle my struggles by continuing to work and do my best.

rem:  I think that’s universal for authors, isn’t it? Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

SANDY:  Definitely the creative aspect. I can’t remember a time when I haven’t had little snippets of scenes running through my mind. It’s good when I find a way to use them.

rem:  Yup, so true. What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

SANDY:  Giving life to “people” and situations—those little snippets I mentioned—and letting my imagination run. I’ve also enjoyed making other writer friends. The majority are people I’ve never met in person. Maybe one day.

rem:  What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

SANDY:  The hardest thing for me is marketing, especially in-person marketing. It’s easy to share memes and specials online and put myself out there on blogs, etc., but contacting people in person about my book is really stepping out of my comfort zone. The easiest part of publishing for me is holding my book after I’ve slaved over it for months.

rem:  Yes. What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

SANDY:  Recommendations: Persistence with writing growth and submitting. Patience with a slow-moving business. Development of an armadillo shell that wards off the gloom of rejection.

Don’t: Rush the process—enjoy the journey. Don’t think that a publishing contract is the end of the hard work—it’s just the beginning. Don’t ignore the value of making friends with other writers. They can become your greatest cheerleaders and provide the biggest shoulders to cry on when things go sideways.

rem:  Also yes. How do you choose your characters’ names?

SANDY:  For historicals, I like names from the period, however, I also like names that have a romantic appeal—at least to me. I skim through my baby name books and pick out something I feel matches the character or the story. It’s hard to explain, but a lot of times, I’ll see that character in my mind and a certain name seems right. For instance, Violet is not a name I thought I’d use for a heroine, but for the shy woman in my Christmas novella, The Yuletide Angel, it seemed perfect.

rem:  Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

SANDY:  I’m getting better at it. A synopsis is needed for submitting proposals, so I work out the main points and an ending. For my current project, I’m working on a scene-by-scene synopsis for my own use, but it’s not usually how I do things and I’m not sure how it will go.

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

SANDY:  A Reluctant Melody released last year and recently won the Grace Award for Romance/Historical Romance. It’s a second-chance love story involving a former bad boy and the woman he once romanced to get back at his brother (Hugh, the hero of The Yuletide Angel). Kit wants to buy Joanna’s house for a mission to drunkards. His offer gives her the power to save her best friend from an abusive husband. She’s forced to choose between her friend’s safety and risking what might happen if Kit comes back into her life and discovers the secret she’s hidden for years. It also contains a murder mystery, but it’s not the focus of the plot.

 

Right now, I have a historical romance proposal out and am awaiting word on it. I’m also working on my first proposal for a contemporary romance.

rem:  Love the mix and twists there. What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

SANDY:  I love the characters in A Reluctant Melody. Joanna was brought low, but it destroyed her youthful vanity and created strength, loyalty, and a reluctant compassion. Kit’s low point also created compassion and a need to help others through what he experienced. It deals with an issue many older (and, I’m sure, younger) Christians struggle with today, namely, the changed moral outlook of society. How do Christians respond to things like out-of-wedlock births? It’s been a personal struggle for me. How do I show kindness without seeming to approve of a lifestyle contrary to God’s marriage plan? It’s tough. I tried to show my characters as flawed human beings who reap the consequences of their actions. At the same time, I wanted to show that God’s grace can wipe out those sins and provide our happy-ever-after.

rem:  Powerful stuff. Tell us about why you wrote this book.

SANDY:  I find interesting secondary characters in books, both those I read and the ones I write, and want to know their stories. It’s why I like reading a series. Kit is a secondary character in The Yuletide Angel. As soon as his role in Hugh’s life popped onto the page, I knew I’d write his story.

rem:  Please give us the first page of the book.

SANDY:  From A Reluctant Melody:

            Joanna Stewart’s fingers waltzed across the silk covering her lap. Had the stripes of the dress fabric been piano keys, the cab of her brougham would be filled with the melody of Sullivan’s “Let Me Dream Again.”

            She halted the romping digits and gripped the material of her skirt in a tight fist. Dreams. She awoke to the pain they caused years ago … after the lie of romantic love dealt its deadly blow.

            A horse car rattled past on the tracks running down the middle of Broad Street. The bell dangling from the animals’ collars jingled with each plodding step.

            Joanna’s driver, Liam McCall, turned onto Cleary. When the carriage stopped, she peeked out the window and scanned the dry and dusty street in front of the Stewart Broom Factory. When was the last time she’d ventured out of her house and into the midst of strangers? A month? Two? She wouldn’t be in town now if Perry’s note hadn’t stressed the importance of their meeting.

            A man on a bicycle passed too close to the carriage and thumbed the bell on his contraption. Her horse shied and the brougham rocked. Joanna grabbed the window frame to brace herself.

            Using coarse language and the power of brawny arms, Liam brought the animal under control. A moment later, he yanked the door open and held out his hand. “Foul things, horses. If it were up to me, I’d shoot ’em all.”

            Inwardly, Joanna cringed. “Even work animals deserve our respect and compassion, Mr. McCall.” As he helped her down, his callused fingers swallowed her lace-gloved hand.

 

rem:  Very telling first page—lots of info in there. What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

SANDY:  The themes of the book involve grace and mercy. Joanna believes her past disqualifies her from God’s forgiveness. Kit has already taken hold of that grace, but he still hangs on to that need to make amends for past actions. I want people to know that they’re never too bad to receive God’s forgiveness if they ask for it, then those past mistakes are forgiven and forgotten.

rem:  Where can we find you online?

SANDY:

www.sandraardoin.com

Seriously Write

Facebook

Twitter

Google+

Goodreads

Pinterest

And I’d love to have you sign up for my newsletter. In it, I’ll keep you updated on my work, along with a few historical or other tidbits, polls, occasional giveaways or announcements about specials.

rem:  Anything you’d like to add?

SANDY:  Thanks so much for having me, Robin! What a pleasure and what great questions!

rem:  Thank you so much for chatting with us at my little nest today!

 

BLURB – A RELUCTANT MELODY

 

            Kit Barnes’ drinking ruined more lives than his own. Now sober, he wants to make amends by opening a mission for drunkards. The most suitable location belongs to Joanna Cranston Stewart, a love from his sordid past and the one person he hurt the most.
            A pariah among her peers, Joanna is all too eager to sell her property and flee the rumors that she sent her late husband to an early grave. But she will let the gossips talk and the walls of her rundown property crumble around her before she’ll allow Kit back into her life.
            When a blackmailer threatens to reveal her long-held secret, she must choose between trusting Kit or seeing her best friend trapped in an abusive marriage.
            Will Joanna risk another betrayal? Or will she find a way through the pain of the past to love and trust again?

 

 

“My job as a writer is to keep you turning the pages by creating realistic characters and exciting plots. My prayer is that from the story of at least one of my fictional people you will find inspiration for the trip along your own road of faith.”

 

 

 

#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Sandy Ardoin, Seriously Write Interview Blitz, The Yuletide Angel, Family Ties, A Reluctant Melody

 

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