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BLOGWORDS – Thursday 9 March 2017 – CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – ELIZABETH NOYES

CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – ELIZABETH NOYES

“Elizabeth Noyes, adventure-loving author, dedicated dreamer, and tireless traveler – and avid reader of romantic suspense, action adventure, and pretty much all genres.”

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“These full-length, nail-biting stories touch on hot topics in today’s culture, themes such as weapons smuggling, drug dealing, and human trafficking. Warning: You might also encounter an army of hot alpha males who meet their matches!”

 

rem:  Hullo Elizabeth, welcome to my little nest. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

ELIZABETH:  I grew up in Mobile, Alabama and lived there for 21 years. I now live with my husband of 43 years in a small town on the east side of Atlanta, Georgia. We are blessed to have both our children and their families live near us.

 

rem:  That is a precious blessing to have them nearby.  ❤  Tell us three things about yourself.

ELIZABETH:  1) I love to travel and have visited more than 50 countries on 3 continents. 2) I was one of the first women in the State of Georgia to earn a “D” license as a soccer coach, and had the privilege of coaching my daughter’s soccer team to a state championship. 3) I read voraciously, averaging 3-4 books each week, and pretty all genres.

 

rem:  1) Very cool, and very jealous. 2) Very awesome and way to go! And 3) Very impressed! Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

ELIZABETH:  High-test all the way. A little cream, a little sugar, and absolutely no flavorings. Just coffee, ma’am. Of course, being from the South, I’ll also take a tall glass of sweet iced tea with supper.

 

rem:  What do you do as a hobby?

ELIZABETH:  Writing, reading, writing, crocheting, writing, grandkids, writing, baking, and oh, did I mention writing?

 

rem:  So, you write a little, now and then, eh… What’s the most random thing in your bag or on your desk?

ELIZABETH:  I have this “thing” one of my grandkids made for me – it’s a mold of a rabbit. At least, I think it’s a rabbit. Yes, definitely a rabbit. I call him “Pete” and use him as a paperweight.

 

rem:  Pete’s a good name for a rabbit, if indeed he is a rabbit… What’s your all-time favorite movie? Favorite TV show?

ELIZABETH:  Without a doubt, my fave movie is Gone With The Wind. I know that in today’s times, it’s not a politically correct admission, but the epic-ness (is that a word?) (rem: it is if you want it to be word) still wows me. I mean, it’s got everything—romance, intrigue, war, good times, bad times, action, suspense. I think I  fell in love with movies and books after seeing it.

My favorite TV show goes waaaaay back to when I was a kid. I doubt many people will recognize it – Adventures in Paradise, starring Garner McKay. It was set in the Tahitian Islands, and featured a man who owned a schooner and made his living hiring it out. I think my love of travel stems from then. One of the travel bucket list items I recently checked off was Tahitia, Fiji, and Bora Bora.

 

rem:  Great choices! Would you bungee ?

ELIZABETH:  Absolutely not. I have a paralyzing fear of heights. I once froze mid-way across a narrow walking suspension bridge. My honey had to come back for me. I buried my face against his back, held on to his belt for dear life, and finally, somehow, managed to get off that thing. Never again. Can’t abide glass elevators. (shudder)

rem:  {{{{{HUGZ}}}}} I’ll be sure NOT to tell you if I ever do that!  😉  What is the first thing you notice about people?

ELIZABETH:  Their eyes. Whether they will meet yours. Whether they hold or shift around. Eyes tell you so much about a person.

 

rem:  So very true. What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

ELIZABETH:  I find it encouraging that so many Christian Fiction writers are willing to lay their beliefs out for everyone to see. Too many self-professing Christians today seem unwilling to take a stand for Christ, but when you put it out there in writing for the world to see—yeah, that’s a true believer.

One of my favorite sayings came from my daddy. “Why do you believe what you believe?” The characters in my stories often wind up in challenging situations where they have to make difficult choices. This, in turn, forces me to dig deeper into what I believe is the right thing to do, why, and the consequences that might arise from making a right or wrong decision. All too often, I learn more about myself than I wanted to.

 

rem:  Life is full of choices, difficult or not, and we all have made some wrong choices. It’s the human condition. I love that you wrote plays and were in the dramas club. Share with us a little about that.

ELIZABETH:  I had an English teacher in junior high and high school who discovered my knack for writing. I can thank Mrs. Strickler for nurturing my budding talent and encouraging me to explore possibilities. It was her guidance that helped me win a short story contest in 8th grade, write skits for the school pep rallies, and try my hand at a couple of plays. That’s when I discovered how actors ‘become’ someone else. Because that’s what writers do—we become our characters.

 

rem: I love that. I am an actress so I very much know what you mean. (ps, that also feeds to my characters as I write them.) And a campaign manager—what did that involve?

ELIZABETH:  Although we fail at editing our work, writers tend to see every mistake of someone else’s writing. A particularly glaring error (to me) on an advertisement my company produced caught my eye. I tried to discreetly point it out to the Ad Manager who’d created it, but with it already in circulation, she had to ‘fess up. My bosses’ (twin brothers!), put me in charge of screening everything that went out from the company after that. The position evolved from there.

 

rem:  What a neat chain of events! I also love that you say, “Working in a professional environment allowed me to hone my skills.” I think so often we tend to think time not spent writing has nothing to do with writing. How did your non-writing profession feed your writing?

ELIZABETH:  Business writing is black and white different from fiction, though there are gray areas they both share. In a business, mistakes reflect poorly on the company’s brand and their quality as perceived by the customer. An author’s writing is her product, her brand. Anything you put out there for public consumption reflects on you as a person.

This foundational element has always been structured into my writing, which isn’t always a good thing. I’m one of those who can always find something to change, even after a manuscript has gone to press.

 

rem:  No kidding! I am constantly tweaking, i.e. editing! When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

ELIZABETH:  My biggest pet peeve for anything written is editing. A few mistakes are forgivable, but when a piece is riddled with misspellings, improper grammar, and misused words—well, sometimes I just can’t finish reading. They stop me cold, which breaks the story flow. Outside of that, it’s the “telling” we always hear about. I’m like every other reader, I want to be sucked into the story so that five hours later I’m wondering where the time went.

 

rem:  Double no kidding! Which is more important: plot or characters?

ELIZABETH:  In my reader’s opinion, strong characters can carry a weak plot, but a strong plot won’t ring true with weak characters. When you combine both – yeah, that’s a winner.

 

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

ELIZABETH:  Travel. Love to travel. I married a military man and got to see a lot of the world. Even though we’re retired now, we still travel. To date, I’ve visited more than 60 countries on 3 continents, and have plans to see more!

 

rem:  See above comment: jealous, aka can I come with you? What are you reading right now?

ELIZABETH:  I’m reading the first book of The Watchman Series, entitled Ancient Lights, a Christian novel written by Dr. Ralph D. Curtin. It’s a paperback loaned by a friend who wanted my take on it. The novel has a unique conspiracy plot that involves the discovery of the long lost Urim and Thummin. It’s a complex weave with a heavy dose of theology, and quite historically enlightening.

 

rem:  My kind of story! Love me some good Biblical fiction! What do you munch on while you write?

ELIZABETH:  Oh, the pain! You reveal my secrets! (rem: tee hee hee) I think writers invented the term, ‘mindless eating.’ Let me count the snacks—popcorn, cookies, cereal, chips, leftovers, cheese, pretty much any leftovers. One moment my fingers are flying over the keyboard, and the next moment hunger strikes. I grab whatever is easiest, sit down at my desk again, and sometime later I discover the bowl is empty. Not good, not good.

 

rem:  Ya, that’s about how I do, too. Tell us a little about your writing journey.

ELIZABETH:  In my youth (meaning before marriage), I wrote all the time, but without a plan. It was just something that spilled out. Then life interrupted—I got married, moved around the world, had two children, and went to work. I look back and find it interesting that in all the jobs I’ve held, writing always managed to become a key function.

Over the years, I’ve always kept a notebook. Not journaling exactly, but close. And private. I never shared my words with anyone, not even my husband. I viewed it more as therapy than writing.

The turning point came after I read a book by a favorite author. I would buy his books without bothering to read the blurbs, that’s how much I thought of him. And then, ‘he done me wrong.’ He wrote a book that built the tension, built the suspense, built the anxiety—and bailed on seeing it through. It felt like he’d run up against a deadline and closed it out as fast as he could. Talk about anticlimactic! I haven’t picked up another of his books since. He betrayed my trust. That’s when I decided to write my own book.

Writing while you’re employed fulltime is difficult. You’re pretty much restricted to weeknights and weekends, and working around other commitments. That first book I mentioned above is what I now call “My Practice Book.” It’s awful, but I studied, went to seminars and conferences, read self-help books, read blogs, and joined a critique group (scariest thing I’ve ever done!). Best of all, I started a new book. Six long years later, I got up enough nerve to submit it to a publisher. The rest, as they say, is history.

 

rem:  Fictional history, right? What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

ELIZABETH: I mentioned my husband and I are retired now. He has an office upstairs at the front of the house. My office (which is the sunroom) is downstairs at the back of the house. We text each other several times a day. LOL.

I’m an early riser, usually up between 6-6:30 a.m. He’s gets up late, so I have the entire morning undisturbed. That’s when I do my best work, though I’ve been known to burn the midnight oil on deadlines.

 

rem:  so.NOT.a.morning.person. I do, however, envy you your sunroom! Someday… What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

ELIZABETH:  Perfectionism. I want it perfect in the first draft. I struggle against editing everything I write when I’m writing. Once I get into the flow, though, I lose track of time. This is both good and bad; good in that my word count soars; bad in that several hours can pass before I remember to get up and move around. Creaky joints don’t make for a happy writer.

 

rem:  Perfectionism is evil! Seriously, it’s a cruel task master! Excellence is more lenient and forgiving. Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

ELIZABETH:  There’s a sense of accomplishment with both. I love and hate becoming so immersed in a story that I lose track of time. Can’t tell you how many appointments I’ve missed because of this. But I also love the feeling of finding the exact right word or turn of phrase. I can spend hours on a single paragraph, which is killer when you’re trying to maintain a schedule.

 

rem:  Yes, yes, yes to “finding the exact right word or turn of phrase!” Especially when writing historical fiction! What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

ELIZABETH:  Hearing from fans who anxiously await my next book. I love when they tell me what they feel about my characters, challenge me about why I put them something, or how a situation made them reconsider their beliefs. It’s very affirming.

 

rem:  Also yes, yes, yes! What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

ELIZABETH:  The hardest thing about publishing is the wait. I’m not patient by nature.  The easiest is turning the final edits around. The sense of accomplishment is a great motivator.

 

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

ELIZABETH:  DOs: 1) Read a lot. All genres. 2) Trust your publisher/editor. They know what they’re doing. Learn from them. 3) Be patient. Writing is a journey. Publishing is process. And you are a work of art in progress.

DON’Ts: 1) Know why you write. There is no wrong reason, but understanding what motivates you can help steer the process for you. 2) Be meticulous. Too much editing is better than not enough. Take pride in your work, and make it the best you can. 3) Don’t ever give up. Sometimes the journey is about you, but sometimes God wants to use your work to reach someone else. Trust Him to do His thing.

 

rem:  When we as Christian writers realize our source—our Muse—we can immerse ourselves in it, and produce something to be proud of. How do you choose your characters’ names?

ELIZABETH:  I actually keep a file of names. Whenever I run across one in a book or someone I meet, I jot it down in my file. I also do a lot of research on names—their meaning, the era when they’re most popular, ethnicity, etc. I mean who today would name their child Elspeth or Barnabus? The name has to fit the time and geographical location.

 

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

ELIZABETH:  Yes and no. (smile) I have a good idea of the goal of the story, and I usually have the start and finish. The rest comes to me in scenes. It’s the connecting all the parts that hard. I will typically start out with an outline, though once I sit down to write, the characters have a way of directing their own story, so the initial outline and the finished product tend to differ.

 

rem:  I used to think I was doing it wrong because I don’t outline. Even when I try, it trips me up. I just listen to what the characters tell me, and basically take dictation! LOL Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

ELIZABETH:  I’m finishing up book 4 in The Imperfect Series, called Imperfect Lies. While I dub these as standalones, meaning you don’t have to read them in order, it is preferable to start at the beginning. The books revolve around a family—mom, dad, and five grown children—with each book centered around one of the siblings. All the other characters are woven through the series.

 

rem:  Um, yeah, sounds remarkably like my current series except that my four MC’s are not siblings but best friends, all telling their part of one overarching story. 😉 What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

ELIZABETH:  A couple of the scenes are humorous in a Men-Are-From-Mars/Women-Are-From-Venus kind of way. I like to make fun of how men view women, and vice versa. (rem: love this!)

As for why someone should read Imperfect Lies – it’s a journey, with ups and downs, and relatable moments for both men and women. The main POV character, Mallory, is about to have her carefully ordered world disrupted in a big way. James, the main male character, butts heads with her over and over again until he comes to understand that relationships require not 50:50, but 100:100 from both partners. This book touches on topics pertinent in today’s society, subjects like kidnapping, human trafficking, slavery, terrorism, corruption, divorce, drugs, and career decisions

 

rem:  Tell us about why you wrote this book.

ELIZABETH:  I love reading, but hate all the profanity, gratuitous sex, and over-the-top violence that proliferates in the literary world today. I write to give readers an alternative.

rem:  Thank you for that, Elizabeth, good on you! Please give us the first page of the book.

ELIZABETH: Keep in mind it’s still in edits and subject to change, but here it is:

 

  “Yes!”

            Mallory clapped a hand over her mouth, startled by how loud her shout sounded in the empty house. They knew her name. She wanted to giggle and jump up and down, shout it to the world. The New York Times had read her article. They’d invited her for a job interview.

            A dozen twirls around the kitchen left her a little breathless, but did nothing to slow the adrenalin rush. She flopped onto one of the tall barstools. Of all the times for her family to disappear on her. Here she’d just received the biggest news of her life and had no one to share it with.

            Well, there was TJ, but her brand new sister-in-law wouldn’t be free to talk until late in the afternoon. The principal of the elementary school where she taught frowned on cell phone use during class hours.

            She could talk to Jonas, but he wouldn’t be home until dark. Of course, she could run over to the big barn and … Nope. Her youngest brother would scowl at the interruption, listen without saying a word, grunt like a caveman, and go back to work.

            Her thoughts turned outside the family. Maybe she could go see her friend, Shea, at the diner. Or stop by Miz Tillberry’s. Or, there was always James.

            Her lips formed a soft smile as thoughts of the town sheriff filled her head. She’d fallen for him the day her oldest brother, Garrett, brought him home to the ranch to recuperate. A wave of nausea rose at the memory of the ragged gunshot wound in his side. A souvenir for his military service.

            “James, it is.”

            Even sheriffs had to eat sometime. And regardless of how he felt about her, James would always be her friend. She tapped out a quick text. YOU FREE FOR LUNCH? GOT BIG NEWS.

            His reply came back seconds later. SURE. COME BY OFFICE.

            Her stomach lurched. Would he hate the thought she might move away? Or wish her well and forget about her?

            Time for her battle gear. The black skinny jeans should get the job done, the ones Dad called ‘vacuum-sealed.’ Paired with her new Lively boots and the zaffre-blue cashmere sweater that made her eyes pop, a little mascara—yeah, that should work.

 

rem:  Oooohhhh, I like it! Love how you introduced a bevy of characters in those few lines—and the all-important James… What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

ELIZABETH:  That while my book is fiction, I’ve done my research and made it as realistic as possible.

 

rem:  The best fiction does that. Where can we find you online? (provide links)

ELIZABETH: I can be reached at my Website

 

www.ElizabethNoyesWrites.com

www.facebook.com/ElizabethNoyesAuthor

https://twitter.com/Enoyes5246

https://www.linkedin.com/in/enoyes1625.

https://www.amazon.com/Elizabeth-Noyes/e/B00IDV8MRG/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

 

 

rem:  Anything you’d like to add?

ELIZABETH:  I write in the Christian genre, but I take a different, more subtle approach than many Christian authors. I don’t preach. My target audience is not to entertain the choir. My goal is to reach those outside the church, those who love to read and prefer to not have the seamier content shoved in their faces. Instead, I sprinkle seeds of the gospel, and try to show the allure of Christianity through the lives and actions of my characters.

 

rem:  Methinks Christian Fiction as a whole is leaning in that direction. Thank you so much for chatting with us at my little nest today!

 

 

 “These full-length, nail-biting stories touch on hot topics in today’s culture, themes such as weapons smuggling, drug dealing, and human trafficking. Warning: You might also encounter an army of hot alpha males who meet their matches!”

 

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#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Elizabeth Noyes, Imperfect Wings, Imperfect Trust, Imperfect Bonds

 

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BLOGWORDS – Thursday 2 March 2017 – CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – DANA PRATOLA

CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – DANA PRATOLA

“If you know nothing else about me, know this: Jesus Christ is my Lord and Savior.”

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“It’s not your mother’s Christian Fiction.”

 

rem:  Hullo Dana, welcome to Robin’s Little Nest! Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

DANA:  I was born in New Jersey and am still here, but one day soon I’d love to move to a less expensive state, preferably one with NO SNOW 😀

rem:  South Carolina barely has snow, jus’ sayin… Tell us three things about yourself.

DANA:   I love Star Trek (original series only), I enjoy guns and shooting, I’m an excellent cook, but I hate cooking :/

 

rem:  Well that’s a slight conflict there. What is your favourite quotation and why?

DANA:  I have quite a few, but one of my favorites is, “You should never, never doubt what nobody is sure about.” (Willy Wonka).

rem:  Love me some Willy Wonka. What’s the most random thing in your bag or on your desk?

DANA:  I have a NO button on my desk that says different versions of…you guessed it, “No!”

rem:  What’s your all-time favorite movie? Favorite TV show?

DANA:  Jesus of Nazareth. My favorite TV show doesn’t exist anymore, lol. I’ve been watching vintage game shows on Buzzer TV and LOVE What’s My Line!

rem:  I love that show! #DrewCarey And excellent movie, too. Would you bungee ?

DANA:  Nope, but I will be zip-lining in a couple months through rural PA  😀

rem:  Can I come with?? What is the first thing you notice about people?

DANA:  Whether they’re male or female.

rem:  Haha, touché. If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

DANA:  Probably Dave Matthews. He’s so brilliant at what he does, and so unusual, and that makes for an interesting evening.

 

rem:  What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

DANA:  Christian Fiction has the potential to make people see spiritual truths from new perspectives. Each book, each character is another window into human behavior that readers might not otherwise see, and the plots reveal Biblical truths that they might not know unless they’ve been deeply exposed to the Word, and many readers haven’t been. How often will the common person meet a billionaire struggling with inferiority issues, or a woman trying to find forgiveness and healing after abortion and abuse? As for my own relationship with Christ, while I do write secular fiction under a pen name, seeing other Christian authors presenting the Biblical world view definitely keeps my main focus where it needs to be, hopefully drawing others to Jesus.

rem:  Dane, I love your answer. So simply put and so profound. I love your tag, “Not your mother’s Christian Fiction.” Explain what you mean by that.

DANA:  I’ve heard so many readers complain that a lot of the Christian fiction out there is too sugary and goody-goody. That’s the way it’s always been and what most readers of the genre were used to growing up. I don’t write that. Because life is harsh and often brutal, and people – even Christians – make plenty of mistakes, that’s what I write about, and I think it makes for an even stronger contrast and impact when you see love and mercy and healing come out of a background of abuse and hatred, rather than out of one where the character spends most of their time in church or “doing good.”

rem:  Ya, I’m not crazy about the “goody-goody” fiction either. Do gooder, Lollipop Characters (just made that up) gag me. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

DANA: Good question. Bad writing turns me off instantly. Boring writing takes a little longer to recognize, but when I see it, I stop reading because boring writing is bad writing. A pet peeve of mine is names that make me pause to figure them out. They don’t have to be so complicated! And don’t “fancy up” plain names. I’m not reading Jaiynne, I’m reading Jane. Stop wasting letters and making my eyes stumble. (LOL, can you tell that irks me?)

rem:  LOL I will take exception to this when writing fiction based on real characters, i.e. Heather Gilbert’s Viking books, and Cindy Thomson’s Ireland series. Which is more important: plot or characters?

DANA:  For me there’s no way to separate them. Plot is only interesting if you care about the characters and characters with nothing interesting to do are basically hollow.

rem:  See Lollipop Character comment above. What would you do if you weren’t writing?

DANA:  I’ve been asked this question a lot and I don’t have an answer. It’s all I ever wanted to do.

rem:  Took me a while (read years) to figure that out, and I do have a degree but it would be what I’d fall back on if for some bizarre reason I couldn’t be writing. What are you reading right now?

DANA:  I don’t have much time to read for enjoyment so when I do have a few days, I like to go to authors I trust, Nora Roberts, Stephanie Laurens, Julia Quinn and a few others. Writing is mostly reading, so I guess I read my work every day 😉

rem:  What do you munch on while you write?

DANA:  Everything. Salty stuff if I have it, like potato chips and Cheez-Its, but I also love gummy bears.

rem:  So, sweet and/or salty. (and sticky)  us a little about your writing journey.

DANA:  I always wanted to write, so that’s what I did, and while it took years to hone my craft (a process that’s never done, for me) (rem: no it’s not, ever, for any of us) getting published happened very quickly. It was definitely a move of God. When I finally finished my first novel, THE COVERING, I didn’t know what to do with it. I couldn’t afford a writer’s conference to make connections with publishers, so I prayed and asked God to make a way. Literally two days later, someone told me about an online writer’s conference where I could have a pitch session with publishers from houses I was interested in. That’s where I met Nicola Martinez, my wonderful publisher from Pelican Book Group (it was White Rose Publishing then). I talked to her for 5 minutes, she requested the whole manuscript, and a week later she offered me a contract 😀

rem:  SWEET!! What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

DANA: I have an office at home, that doubles as a yoga studio. My “routine” consists of getting up, doing yoga with my husband, then I write a little, shower, and the rest of the day I’m in and out of my office doing what I can as the mood hits if I’m not distracted.

rem:  What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

DANA:  Distraction and Procrastination. My husband also works from home so neither of us have a rigid schedule, which make distractions the norm. I try to work when I can, but with my thoughts interrupted, it can be hard to get back into a storyline. Added to it, I’m a procrastinator, so when I have the house all to myself and it’s nice and quiet, I may decide to watch TV, or clean out the cabinets, rather than write. I’m a mess!

rem:  When I lost my cable nearly four years ago, I was frustrated and angry. Not I’m glad I don’t have it—one less distraction… Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

DANA:   Editing. For me the hardest part is getting everything down in that first draft because I’m a natural editor – I edit as I write, which is one of the biggies writers will tell you never to do. So once the story is finally complete, I sail through edits.

rem:  Meh, I’m an edit-as-I-write, too. It’s what works for me. What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

DANA:   When I sit down to write, I feel like I’m doing what God created me to do. I may not have the right words yet, or the success yet, but it’s a process and I’m right where He wants me to be. Some people wait their whole lives to find that.

rem:  Girlfriend, we be’s in the same boat! What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

DANA:   The hardest thing about publishing with a traditional publisher is giving up control of certain aspects, like cover design and what I can do with my book. The easiest… Hmm. I’d have to say that they take care of editing to a large extent, which I love. In indie publishing, I have control, but then there’s no one to blame for my errors, lol. (rem: like, say, duplicate chapters… ) In either mode of publishing, though, promo is on me. I HATE PROMO. Not as much as snow, though.

rem:  Ya, I’m getting used to it, but still not crazy about it. What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

DANA:    1) Don’t take everyone’s advice. Some people are just dead wrong and so much of writing can be subjective. But if enough people tell you the same thing, you should definitely take a closer look. 2) Write the story YOU want to read. Don’t worry about taking out things you think others will find offensive or off-putting. Someone is going to complain about your story anyway. 3) Make sure you KNOW your characters going in. Plot is always moving around how a character reacts to circumstances. How that specific hero or heroine responds, determines what happens next. You won’t know that if you don’t know them intimately before you begin writing. Make a list of scenarios and how each person would react in that situation. It’s better than being surprised as you write, and leaving the reader feeling confused.

rem:  How do you choose your characters’ names?

DANA:   I try to pick names that haven’t been used to death, or if I have, just names I like that seem to fit. I give each one a lot of thought. For me the name needs to say something about the person. I’m working on another series (under pen name, Elaine Dwyer – the first book is out  😀 ) where the family is all named after a country (England, Ireland, Scotland and America). The fact that they share that speaks to how close they are as a family unit and that unity is important to the story.

rem:  Love that for names! Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

DANA:   I think of most of it, lol. I usually know how I want it to begin and end and the rest is just a means to get there 😀

rem:  So Pantzer, basically. 😉 Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

DANA:   I’m working on several at the moment, but the one that’s the farthest along is about a country music superstar whose wife leaves him, abandoning their two girls at an amusement park. He needs someone to watch his girls, so he turns to the park’s Princess Fedora and asks her to come home with him. Naturally, she’s lovely and sweet, and the makings for some nasty rumors, especially when his wife doesn’t return after weeks with no word and her parents accuse him of murdering her 😀

rem:  Even that bit caught me with the murdering bit! What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

DANA:   I’m a fan of two different worlds/lifestyles coming together and these two are pretty far apart. I love that he wants love, but has to face the fact that the demise of his marriage was mostly his own fault. And there’s the star-struck fan, who quickly sees he’s just a man, with problems and flaws that only help her love him more.

rem:  Tell us about why you wrote this book.

DANA:   Actually, I had a dream about a singer – Gary LeVox from Rascal Flatts. He was in an African themed Taco Bell with his two young daughters and a young woman, and the woman was trying to help him find his wife. Funny how the mind works 😉

rem:  The mind is a strange place, and a writer’s mind?? There’s just no way to categorize us. Please give us the first page of the book.

DANA:   Okay, but keep in mind it’s unedited and subject to change, so please be kind, lol.

 

           Selfish, spoiled, manipulative little…. Jack thought the words with enough force that it moved his lips, threatening to turn them into sound. His strides gained speed and length as he trekked the length of the enormous parking lot to the fence that ran along the highway. Again.

            He’d walked this route three times in the past half hour. Where was she? He checked his watch. Again.

            Eight thirty-four. The lines at the gate were already ridiculous. Even if Dora showed up now, his girls would only have the amusement park to themselves for a few minutes.

            She was always doing this. No regard for the girls or their wants. Always disappointing them, bringing them late, forgetting to pick them up…. She’d have to learn to better schedule her rendezvous. He swore he didn’t know how she kept her lovers straight or how she managed to fit them in between spa appointments and shopping.

            But, unfortunately, she was the most stable force in Kylie and Phoebe’s lives while he was on tour. Hell, even when he was home, he wasn’t home. He knew what a disappointment he was too, and that nothing was completely one person’s fault in a failed marriage, but he wished his kids could come out of this unscathed.

            Concealing the venom in his tone when speaking about their mother was hard and mostly he succeeded, but he couldn’t hide the fighting. They heard that, sometimes for hours on end. The silences were no better.

            Dora’s dark gray mini-van barreled into the lot, passing him, and stopping in front of the radio station entrance. Anger quickened his steps back toward her.

            The manner of her movements, lazy, heedless of her behavior, would have been enough to infuriate him, but her spine was straighter than it would ordinarily be if she was as carefree as she pretended. She was expecting a fight. And she was going to get one.

            His reflexive smile came to the forefront when seven-year-old Kylie flung the rear door back.

            “Daddy!”

            He extended a hand to help her out, gathered her in his arms and gave her a huge hug, as Dora unfastened four-year-old Phoebe from her car seat.

            “I can’t believe we’re here!” Kylie chattered, grabbing hold of Jack’s neck for another quick hug before he put her on her feet. “I kept telling mommy to hurry. I’m so excited!”

         Her exuberance only fueled his anger, especially when he caught the subtle smirk Dora tossed his way.

 

rem:  Sheesh, that’s a LOT packed in 413 words! I’m hooked. What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

DANA:   That we all mess up and often have a chance to rectify the situation to some degree, but accepting personal responsibility instead of making excuses, is so important.

rem:  So, so true. Where can we find you online?

DANA:

https://www.facebook.com/DanaPratolaAuthor

www.twitter.com/danapratola

www.danapratola.webs.com

http://www.goodreads.com/danapratola

https://www.amazon.com/Dana-Pratola/e/B005G40TAQ/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

https://www.pinterest.com/danapratola/

 

rem:  Anything you’d like to add?

DANA:   Thanks for having me! ❤

rem:  Always glad to have you, Dana. Thank you so much for chatting with us on my blog today! Pop in any time.

 

 

“Writing is my passion and my dream, and I know that if the words I write turn someone’s heart and mind toward Christ, I am fulfilling my destiny.”

 

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#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Dana Pratola, Descended Series, Jett, Sebastian, Aaro, Ulrick

 

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BLOGWORDS – Thursday 23 February 2017 – CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – ROBIN BAYNE

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CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – ROBIN BAYNE

“Robin Bayne. . . . . Writing with faith and hope. . . . about love”

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“Robin is the author of Christian and “sweet” romance”

 

rem:  Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

ROBIN:  I’m from Harford County, Maryland, and live only one county away from that now. It’s the “burbs” of Baltimore City, and I currently work my day-job there.

rem:  I’ve been to Rockville, MD (I think it was Rockville…) but never to Baltimore—but I used Baltimore in my second novel! Tell us three things about yourself.

ROBIN:  Hmm, three things.  In 2001 I won a P.T. Cruiser at a mortgage banking convention in Hawaii.  (And acckk, yes, you have to pay a lot of taxes when that happens.)  I’ve been married to my hubby for 26 years and we have worked together for most of that time.  Oh, and I like to write long-hand to get the words flowing.

 

rem:  I’m funny with typing VS long-hand—for stories I have to beon the computer, but to write poems or letters for my stories, it’s gotta be long-hand. Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

ROBIN:   Coffee in the morning, usually “Chocolate Glazed Donut” flavor from my Keurig. Tea in the afternoon, herbal. One of my favorites is Pear, another is Sleepy Time Vanilla.

rem:  Oh, that Pear tea sounds lovely. What is your favourite quotation and why?

ROBIN: “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they go by.”  –Douglas Adams.  Love this because it can apply to my day-job and writing commitments.  And I think I’ve actually heard that whoosh before!

rem:  PAHAHAHAH!!! I “feel ya” on that one! What do you do as a hobby?

ROBIN:  Recently I’ve taken up golf, to have a sport to enjoy with my husband.  I am not very good at it, though, and I haven’t started keeping score yet. But I really do enjoy going out on the course and trying to hit that irritating little white ball.

rem:  Never did get into golf, but I wouldn’t mind wandering the golf course—I love to be outdoors. Do you use sarcasm?

ROBIN:  Who me? Nah.   LOL

rem:  Exactly. Favorite season? Why?

ROBIN:  I love the fall. I love the cooling temperatures, the start of the holiday season, and the pumpkin-everything.

rem:  Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?

ROBIN:  For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also—Matthew 6:21. I discovered this verse when looked up my “birth verse,” my birthday is June 21st so the website gave me this one. I really think it says a lot if you think about it.

 

rem:  Good verse, and good reminder. What is your favorite bird and why?

ROBIN:  My namesake, if I have to pick just one J

rem:  Good choice, I agree. Do you like to fly? What’s the furthest you’ve ever flown?

ROBIN:  We used to fly often, furthest trip was to Hawaii.  The last trip was to Las Vegas, and we flew home exactly 24 hours prior to the 9/11 attacks.

rem:  Gasp! How crazy for you to watch the towers come down! When is your birthday?

ROBIN:    June 21—first day of summer and longest day of the year.

rem:  And the more day to celebrate with! 😉 What is your favourite birthday memory? All-time favorite birthday gift?

ROBIN:  When I was little my dad assembled this piece of outdoor play equipment that sat 2 kids and went round and round when you pushed and pulled the handles.  We called it a Whirlie-Bird. My sister and I spent a lot of time getting dizzy on that. Good times.

 

rem:  I remember those! And I loved ‘em! What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

ROBIN:  It has not really impacted it, but writing Christian fiction definitely supports it.

rem:  When ya writes what ya writes, ya just writes, right? When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

ROBIN:  Something too convenient, just unbelievable. It can throw me right out of the story. Truth is stranger than fiction….  Not the other way around.

rem:  Good answer, and I so agree with you! Which is more important: plot or characters?

ROBIN:   They are both such important elements!  You need great characters acting out a great story…if one or the other is missing, the story will fail.

rem:  I totally agree! What would you do if you weren’t writing?

ROBIN:  I’d read even more, and get out on the golf course more.  A round of golf can take over 4 hours, not to mention drive time to and from.

rem:  What are you reading right now?

ROBIN:  I am reading an inspirational Amish romance manuscript for my critique partner.

rem:  What do you munch on while you write?

ROBIN:  I try not to, but I love a cold Diet Pepsi on my desk.

 

rem:  Tell us a little about your writing journey.

ROBIN:  I’ve dabbled in writing my entire life, but didn’t get serious until I graduated from college. This was in my 30’s, as I went to school on weekends while working full time in the mortgage industry. Once I was finished I took what was my study time and began writing fiction.

rem:  You write both fiction and devotionals. Which came first? Which do you like better?

ROBIN:  I actually started with poetry, moved on to short stories and once I discovered how much I enjoyed reading romance novels, I started writing them. I still write some devotionals, and short anecdotal stories (like in “Chicken Soup for the Soul”).

rem:  Oh! Poetry! We should do a post o’ poems sometime—I was quite prolific with poems for a few years! Which is easier to write, fiction or devotionals? Why?

ROBIN:  Well they are like apples and oranges.  Fiction is never easy, but devotionals are difficult sometimes because you want to have that special “uh huh” moment at the end.  Sometimes it’s harder to write shorter.

rem:  Brevity isn’t even in my vocabulary…. Do you have a primary focus or theme for your devotionals?

ROBIN:  No specific theme, if I have an idea for one I will look for a verse to go with it. Sometimes I plan one based on the subject matter of the collection I am submitting to.

rem:  What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

ROBIN:  Either at my desk, or if writing long-hand I will curl up on the sofa. I don’t listen to music or anything that might distract me, but a quiet news show or tv golf in the background is helpful.  I call it “white noise.”

rem:  What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

ROBIN:  Just finding time to do it all–balancing the day job, housework, time with hubby.  And then there’s the marketing tasks…..

rem:  So many plates [to juggle], so few hands… Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

ROBIN:  I enjoy creating a story and editing my work later.  When official edits come in from my publisher, it’s not as fun. It’s more like work then.

rem:  LOL For me, they merge together and as an Indie, I don’t have “those” edits to contend with.  😉  What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

ROBIN:  As many writers say, the best part is “having written.”  Once a story is complete and polished I feel great.  (That is, until the editor’s notes come in, LOL.)

rem:  It’s still surreal to me I’ve written one—let alone three—novels! (and almost done with #4!) What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

ROBIN:  Read as much as possible, in lots of genres.  Get a critique partner or join an online group—writers always need a second set of eyes. And always let your work sit for a while before submitting it—you will be amazed what you pick up on after the piece “cools” a bit.

What not to do?   Submit your first draft.  Be upset when you start getting rejection letters. Be envious of other writers—their success does not hurt you at all.  Quit writing.  (Keep at it!)

rem:  Great points! Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

ROBIN:  I have no idea… they just happen. Sometimes when I’m pulling weeds or doing dishes.

rem:  That’s where the best ideas come from, right? The mysterious “out of nowhere.” How do you choose your characters’ names?   .

ROBIN:  No way to explain that either. Each character has a face in my mind, and the names just seem to match their personality

rem:  Kinda that way for me too! Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

ROBIN: No, I am a “pant-ster,” meaning I don’t plot and outline ahead of time. I do often have the ending in mine, then the story is the journey leading up to that final scene.

 

rem:  Hey! That sounds exactly like me! Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

ROBIN: It’s the setting that came first with this story.  If you want to virtually visit the actual inn that inspired my story…. www.lambandlion.com

My husband and I stayed there many years ago and had a wonderful time. The innkeeper helped him set up a candlelight bath for me…our room had a fireplace, sunken tub and a private deck.  The whole experience was romantic.

Currently, I am working on a Christmas novella set in Fells Point, a touristy spot of Baltimore.

 

rem:  What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

ROBIN:  My favorite part of “Reunion At Crane Lake” is the end…. But I don’t want to spoil it. If you enjoy short, contemporary, “clean” second-chance romance set at a charming inn….you might like this story.

rem:  Sounds lovely! (great teaser by the way… )Please give us the first page of the book.

ROBIN:

 

Colton Reece propped his weathered boot on the gray boulder marking the driveway. This was the place. He shut his eyes, feeling the warm breeze flick the ends of his hair, and drew a breath deep enough to drag in the smell of the flowers growing around the rock, whatever they were called. It was just as his grandmother had told him. He’d been here before.

He looked around, lowering his gaze to the uncut lawn surrounding the inn. An uneven carpet, the bald, earthy patches emphasized why he was here. This grass could be brought back with a little care. This was land he needed to own, land that needed him.

It felt like home.

It had been home.

And thanks to God’s grace, now he could remember.

Eyeing the auction sign swaying with the wind, Colt straightened, stretching. Getting this place back in shape wouldn’t be easy, but the lack of prospective bidders standing on the lawn was a good sign so far. Turning them away wouldn’t be pleasant, but there was no need for an auction now that he was back.

To think he’d nearly missed today, nearly let the place slip from him, to go to the highest bidder with a cold cash deposit. Colt rubbed his jaw, his fingers pushing his taut cheeks in circles, striving to ease the tension. He needed to walk.

 

rem:  Goodness, Robin, I was there with him! He’s gotta get it back, he’s just gotta! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

ROBIN:  Maybe that forgiveness and second chances can lead to happiness.

rem:  Indeed they do. Robin, thank you so much for chatting with us on my blog today!

ROBIN:  Thank you for having me!  I’ve enjoyed our talk.

 

rem:  Me too, come again anytime. Where can we find you online?

www.robinbayne.com

http://wwwwritingbetweensundays.blogspot.com

http://www.facebook.com/rlbayne

http://www.twitter.com/rlbayne

https://www.amazon.com/Robin-Bayne/e/B005FLUDFG/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1486771566&sr=1-2-ent

https://www.pinterest.com/rlbayne/

 

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#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Robin Bayne, The Artist’s Granddaughter, The Will of Time, Christmas Pearl, Reunion at Crane Lake

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BLOGWORDS – Thursday 16 February 2017 – CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – ROBIN PATCHEN

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CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – ROBIN PATCHEN

“I love helping authors polish their work.”

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“If time and money were no object, Robin would spend her life traveling. Her goal is to visit every place in the entire world—twice… so Robin does the next best thing: she writes. In the tales she creates, she can illustrate the unending grace of God through the power and magic of story.”

 

rem:  Hullo, Robin, and welcome! Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

ROBIN:  My family moved to Londonderry, New Hampshire, when I was three years old. I went to college in Boston and lived in that area until my husband and I moved to Oklahoma in ’96. We’ve been in in Edmond, OK, ever since

rem:  That’s gotta be some culture shock! Tell us three things about yourself.

ROBIN:  I’ve been told I’m a good cook, I love to entertain, and I desperately hate to clean.

 

rem:  We have more in common than our name then. What is your favourite quotation and why?

ROBIN: “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” C.S. Lewis. I’m not sure that this is my favorite quote, but it’s the one that comes to mind. I love it because I’ve known a lot of folks who’ve spent their lives scribbling “darkness” in their self-imposed prisons.

rem:  It’s a good quote, and very true, and I’m guessing that someone who reads the interview needs to hear it. If you could go back in time, what era would you choose and why?

ROBIN:  I’d like to experience America in the years between the Revolution and the Civil War when we as a nation were discovering who we were and what we were about. I would especially like to experience the Second Great Awakening. I’ve been thinking a lot about revival lately—and praying for another great revival in America—so perhaps that’s why I would like to see it firsthand.

rem:  Don’t see much on that piece of time—can I come with you? Would you bungee?

ROBIN:  Definitely!

rem:  Let’s do it! Favorite season? Why?

ROBIN:  Autumn, because I grew up in New Hampshire, where the leaves explode in indescribable beauty every year. Unfortunately, Oklahoma leaves leave much to be desired.

rem:  Ya, in New England I guess that’s a given. 😉 Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?

ROBIN:  Psalm 1:1-3. It was one of the first verses I memorized after I became a believer over twenty years ago, and it helped to solidify for me the need to memorize and meditate on Scripture. Even today, the Lord teaches me from this passage.

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.

 

rem: So powerful in its simplicity. If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

ROBIN:  My son is currently studying at Youth with a Mission in Hawaii, and I’ve learned a lot about the man who started that ministry, Loren Cunningham. I would love to get to know him and to hear his thoughts on revival in America and around the world.

 

rem:  I’ve heard of YWAM. What is your favorite bird and why

ROBIN:  I’m going to have to say the robin, and not just because I’m named after them. There’s something special about a robin bird. They’re not exotic. They’re not particularly special, and they don’t have the most beautiful plumage of the birds, and yet look how God allows those common birds to soar. I feel like a robin bird sometimes—commonplace, but with God’s love carrying me, even I can fly.

rem:  I love your reasoning—and ya, I can fly too! Do you like to fly? What’s the furthest you’ve ever flown?

ROBIN:  I love to fly! My father was an airline pilot, so I’ve done a lot of flying in my life. The furthest was probably to Rome when I was about 15. I was involved in an exchange program, so I went by myself to Rome to stay for a week with a family I’d never met. It was an amazing experience that began on the flight when there were no seats in coach or first class, so they bumped me upstairs to business class. The seat was so big, I slept on it like I would a twin bed. It was total luxury.

rem:  When is your birthday?

ROBIN:  December 12, just 13 days before Christmas.

rem:  We’re close, month-wise if not year-wise. What is your favourite birthday memory? All-time favorite birthday gift?

ROBIN:  Not that they were all birthday gifts, but many of my favorite gifts are the robins I’ve collected over the years. Most were gifts from my mother, but I’ve received some from my husband. A dear friend did a small drawing with colored pencils of a robin, which is a treasure, and my sister-in-law took a photograph of a robin just hatching in a nest. When I was young, I thought the robins were silly, but now that I’m older, I treasure them.

 

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rem:  Oh! They’re all so lovely! And I’m a wee bit jealous! What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

ROBIN:  Being a novelist is hard work. Attempting to write stories that glorify God and reflect truth is even harder. Dealing with rejection can be torture. My relationship with Christ has grown as I’ve learned to trust Him with all of it—the stories, the themes, the rejection. I have become more patient and more faithful as I’ve waited for the Lord’s timing in my writing.

rem:  Robin, you are so right. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

ROBIN:  I hate it when heroes and heroines do things that don’t make sense. If you want the heroine to go into the creepy basement all alone (like in every horror movie I watched in my youth) she’d better be on the hunt for a shotgun. When a hero or heroine behaves like they’re too stupid to live, I often don’t want them to.

rem:  Haven’t heard it put quite like that, but great point! LOL Which is more important: plot or characters?

ROBIN:  Yes to all. Without one, the other is irrelevant.

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

ROBIN:  I’d be an editor. Oh, wait, I am an editor when I’m not writing. J

rem:  Touché! What are you reading right now?

ROBIN:  Donald Maass’s The Emotional Journey, Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert, and I’m about to start James L Rubart’s The Five Times I Met Myself. I’m a little scattered with my reading these days.

rem:  What do you munch on while you write?

ROBIN:  I try not to munch, but I drink loads of coffee and tea.

 

rem:  Good on you! Such discipline! Tell us a little about your writing journey.

ROBIN:  I wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember, but for most of my life, I lacked the courage to try or even admit that dream. I didn’t start writing my first novel until I was forty, just (ahem) years ago. Once I started, though, I haven’t been able to stop. Through this journey, the Lord has given me the courage to share my work and the ability to do what I’ve done. He gets all the credit for the good things. The bad things—those were all me.

rem:  Yeah, well, you’re ahead of me! I was past fifty when I started… But yeah, can’t stop. What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

ROBIN:  I usually write standing at my kitchen counter, though sometimes I sit at the kitchen table. I love to write in coffee shops, but it’s hard to justify the cost when I can write at home for free.

rem:  I love the ambiance of a coffee shop—but I get too distract—squirrel… What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

ROBIN:  Every aspect of writing is hard. Every aspect of writing is joy. It just depends on the day. Right now, the problem is trying to figure out how to get my hero and heroine into the danger that will culminate in the climax. This isn’t the kind of problem normal people have at work. J

rem:  No, and I wouldn’t trade to normal for nuttin!! You’re a writer and an editor—do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

ROBIN: I write because you can’t edit a blank page. I much prefer editing.

rem:  Ha! Good point! Which came first, the writing or the editing?

ROBIN:  I’ve always been both a writer and an editor, but for me, editing is much more natural than writing. That’s why I rush through the first draft—because the magic happens in rewriting.

rem:  What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

ROBIN:  I get to do what I love all day, every day. It get to make up stories for a living. I get to string together letters and words and sentences and paragraphs and create something from nothing. It’s the greatest job in the world.

rem:  So true. What do you enjoy most about being an editor?

ROBIN:  I love to take a mediocre passage and make it sing. I love to take a scene that’s falling flat and make it soar. I love doing that with my own stories and with other people’s stories.

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

ROBIN:  What to do: 1-Read a lot of books, both within your genre and without, and both in the CBA and in the general market. 2-Read craft books and go to writers workshops and then try to implement what you learn. 3-Find some great critique partners. What not to do: 1-Take every piece of advice as gospel truth. 2-Discard every piece of advice because you’re sure you know better. 3-Break rules for no good reason or because you never bothered to learn the rules. Picasso is a great example of this. Before he painted his signature rule-breaking pieces, he spent years and years studying and perfecting the techniques to his art. Only then was he able to break the rules with style.

rem:  Super analogy! (and one of my cardinal “rules” – know the rules so I know how to break them.) Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

ROBIN:  I have no idea. The ideas just sort of come. It’s terrifying sometimes, because what if no more ideas come? And then I have to remember that God will provide the next idea when I need it.

rem:  Sheesh, we think a lot alike! How do you choose your characters’ names?

ROBIN:  I’m terrible at names and titles. Often, I’ll start with a nationality. For instance, the hero in the story I’m writing right now comes from a Germanic background, so I looked for German names and chose Garrison Kopp. The heroine’s last name is Messenger. I chose that because at the start of the series, she’s the only Christian in the group of friends—the messenger. I doubt any readers will pick up on that, though.

rem:  I dunno, I rather imagine some will. Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

ROBIN:  Usually, I have a good idea how a story will begin, I know what the major plot points will be, and I know how it’ll end. I like to follow the plot outline in Save the Cat, so I try to have a lot of those blanks filled in. But even if I plot the stories really well, I always end up changing things around when I’m writing, so I’ve learned that for me, a rough outline is the best plan.

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

ROBIN:  I just released the second book in the Hidden Truth series. It’s a romantic suspense called Twisted Lies. Here’s the blurb:

 

She thought they’d never find her.  And then her daughter vanished.

Marisa Vega’s life as an adoptive mom in a tiny Mexican village isn’t what she’d dreamed while growing up in New York, but as the target of a man who’s convinced she stole millions of dollars from his financial firm, Marisa believes hiding is her only way to stay alive. When her daughter is snatched and held for ransom, Marisa must discover who really stole the money in order to rescue her.

Months after being kidnapped, tortured, and left with PTSD, Nate Boyle is ready to live a quiet life in rural New Hampshire. When the source of his breakout newspaper article—and the woman who haunts his dreams—begs for help, he gets pulled into a riddle that’s proved unsolvable for nearly a decade.

Can Nate and Marisa unravel the years-old mystery and bring her daughter home?

 

rem:  What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

ROBIN:  The heroine, Marisa, has spent eight years in hiding because she was afraid of the people who had her fiancé killed, the people who believe she stole millions of dollars from them. But now her daughter has been kidnapped, and in order to save Ana, Marisa comes out of hiding to fight for her. I love the courage of a mother willing to face death to save her child.

rem:  Nothing like a mother (bear) fighting for her cub! Tell us about why you wrote this book.

ROBIN:  I started writing it because of the hero, Nate.  He was a secondary character in the first book of the series, Convenient Lies. Here was a guy who endured serious trouble in order to protect a woman who’d dumped him. And what he had to go through for her…well, I won’t give it away, but he captured my heart. He deserved to have his own story told.

rem:  Stories lurking everywhere, even within stories. Please give us the first page of the book.

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ROBIN:

Nathan Walter Boyle had come to New York City with a handful of dreams. He was leaving with a truck full of nightmares.

Well, not a truck, exactly. He stopped at the bay window and looked out front. There in his driveway sat the weird container his father’d had delivered. The Pod was as big as a Dumpster, only shiny and white.

Nate had called his father before the delivery truck pulled away. “A U-Haul would have been fine, Dad.”

“This will give you time to sort it all out.”

Nate had a lot more to sort out than just the paraphernalia he’d accumulated in the fourteen years he’d lived in the city. If only he could figure out how to pack the nightmares away along with the detritus of his life.

He grabbed a packed box from the kitchen table and headed for the front door. He stepped onto the front porch, where he took a deep breath and blew it out slowly, like he did a thousand times a day. All was well. The guys who’d taken him were dead. He was safe.

Tell his pounding heart that.

It was sunny and chilly, mild for late March in New York. Spring had always been his favorite season in the city. The once slushy streets were clear. Trees budded along the sidewalks. Flowers bloomed. Even the people seemed to reawaken after their long grouchy winters. As the weather warmed more, kids would soon skateboard along the sidewalks, cords dangling from their ears. In city parks, the thump-thump of dribbling basketballs would serve as the rhythm for the season, while little children’s laughter would supply the melody.

For just a moment, Nate wished he could stay.

 

rem:  Well that says a lot in a few words—as any good beginning should. What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

ROBIN: Nate is suffering from PTSD and feels like he can never play the hero—he tried that, and he failed. At the end of the story, his friend says something like, “A hero is someone who’s scared but does what he has to do anyway.” I hope the reader leaves with the truth that heroism isn’t the absence of fear but the courage to face yours fears and do what you have to do.

rem:  Face the enemy and don’t back down. Anything you’d like to add?

ROBIN:  It’s been a pleasure. You ask some hard questions!

rem:  Well, ya know, gotta dig a little to know you better. Robin, thank you so much for joining us today!  It has been my pleasure to have you here!

Where can we find you online?

ROBIN:

 

https://www.facebook.com/RobinPatchen

http://robinpatchen.com/

https://robinsredpen.wordpress.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Robin-Patchen/e/B00A289790/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_5?qid=1486665139&sr=1-5

And for regular updates and occasional freebies, join my newsletter:

http://robinpatchen.us10.list-manage1.com/subscribe?u=a8941bcf8b7c1f9b43c22164b&id=9937d87af3

 

 

“Robin’s red pen is the best thing that ever happened to my writing. Her grammar and punctuation edits are right on target, and her content suggestions always make my stories flow just a bit smoother. If you’re looking for an editor who’s unafraid to tell you what’s wrong, while freely praising what’s right, you’ve come to the right place.” – Sharon Srock, author of The Women Women of Valley View series.

 

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#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Robin Patchen, Robin’s Red Pen, Twisted Lies, Convenient Lies, Chasing Amanda, Finding Amanda

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY KNEWBIE KNEE

Knee replacement was one year ago today and I couldn’t be happier.

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BLOGWORDS – Thursday Saturday 11 February 2017 – CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – ROBIN E. MASON

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CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – ROBIN E. MASON

 

“I’ve always had stories in my head. And . I once said I should write them all down so someone could write them someday. I had no idea at the time that someone was me!”

rem

“I lived with depression for many years, and the inherent feelings of worthlessness and invisibility; I didn’t want to be who I was and struggled with my own identity for many years.  My characters face many of these same demons.”

 

rem:  Hullo Robin, and welcome to, uh, my blog… Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

ROBIN:  If you call me normal I’m offended.  😉  I was born in Mississippi but we moved a lot as I was growing up. I went coast to coast and back again—in utero! I now live in the upstate of South Carolina with my four feline fur babies. (Mama is now an outdoor cat, her choice.)

rem:  Tell us three things about yourself.

ROBIN:  I have three knucklehead – I mean wonderful grown children, and two beautiful grandgirls whom I love most dearly. My blood type is A-T+ (A-tea-positive). I am a pluviophile (lover of rain) and an ailurophile (lover of cats).

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rem:  Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

ROBIN:  Yes. Un. Coffee to start the day, cinnamon hazelnut. And tea, iced and not sweet the rest of the day. (thus A-T+)

rem:  What is your favourite quotation and why?

ROBIN:  There are so many that I identify with but this one speaks to me deeply: “What if I fail? Oh, but my darling what if you fly?” attributed to Erin Hanson

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rem:  What do you do as a hobby?

ROBIN:  Yes. I paint and draw, but I also sing, act, and play the piano—and will have a piano in my possession again soon! I also enjoy cooking, and not sure is this counts as a hobby but go for walks as often and as far as I can.

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

ROBIN:  Ha! My “desk” is more like a nest—the area immediately around me. The most random thing probably is a broken paint brush that I use to dust my keyboard.

rem:  What’s your all-time favorite movie? Favorite TV show?

ROBIN:  Movie, The Sound of Music. TV show… hmmm… Friends comes readily to mind. Gilmore Girls, Castle… guess that’s “a” favorite though

rem:  Your movie snack of choice?

ROBIN:  I’mma go with the classic popcorn but I don’t do the packs, I buy the old fashioned kernels; I do pop it in the microwave though.

rem:  What’s your favorite recent discovery?

ROBIN:  GoFundMe. I’d heard of it, but a friend suggested I start a campaign (for a car.) Slow going (so far) but it’s going. The link if you’d like to check it out is

https://www.gofundme.com/robin-needs-a-car

 

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

ROBIN:  Yes. (I use that snarky answer a lot, don’t I?) It would have to be a tour of different eras. I love history and would love to visit a bunch of different times. There’s something “romantic” about Medieval Ireland, but if I had to choose one time it would be when Christ was with us in the flesh.

rem:  Are you named after someone?

ROBIN:  Yes and no. My middle name, Elizabeth, was my mother’s name. But Robin came from a dream she had before I was born.

rem:  Do you use sarcasm?

ROBIN:  Who me? Never.

rem:  Would you bungee ?

ROBIN:  Absolutely!

rem:  What is the first thing you notice about people?

ROBIN:  Their smile or countenance.

rem:  Favorite season? Why?

ROBIN:  Spring. It’s a, er, robin thing.  😉

rem:  Hugs or kisses?

ROBIN:  Yes. (please)

rem:  Rolling stones or Beatles?

ROBIN:  Beatles à Paul McCartney

rem:  Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?

ROBIN:  Can’t choose a favorite, but Romans 12:2 has been my signature Scripture for years. Seems the whole of the Bible is about knowing Father God and becoming like Him.

rem:  If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

ROBIN:  This question always stumps me but in light of current events, I would love to spend an evening with our new President. I’m fascinated by the press (both sides) and intrigued by his charisma—and impressed with his action. And did I mention, no more PC talk!  #MAGA

rem:  What is your favorite bird and why?

ROBIN:  Really? You need to ask this?

rem:  Do you like to fly? What’s the furthest you’ve ever flown?

ROBIN:  LOVE to fly! I’ve been to Trinidad three times on mission trips, roughly 3000 miles.

rem:  When is your birthday?

ROBIN:  tomorrow

rem:  What is your favourite birthday memory? All-time favorite birthday gift?

ROBIN:  Eight years ago, my 50th. My kids love to rag me about how old I am, so I donned my best actress-granny persona and an extreme old lady costume. My oldest at the time was manager of a restaurant where we gathered for birthday dinner. He held the door for the dottering old woman—didn’t even realize it was me! Best gift—my new knee, one year today.

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rem:  What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

ROBIN:  I think Christian fiction is comparable to Biblical parables. I don’t market at CF but I am a Christian who writes fiction. It’s such a God thing, as I began to “dabble” in this passion that has always been in me, I began to see who I am, and the more I saw who I am, the clearer I can see who Father is; and the more I can see who He is, the better I can know who I am.

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

ROBIN:  Unrealistic dialogue.

rem:  Which is more important: plot or characters?

ROBIN:  I quote DiAnn Mills again, “They are inseparable.” (from my interview with her on 28 January 2016) The way I see it, one feeds the other.

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

ROBIN:  Bang my head against a wall, striving to be something I’m not—oh, wait, I did that for years. I do have my degree in Interior Design, and I do love designing. It’s something I can do when opportunity comes along. But writing is my love and my passion.

rem:  What are you reading right now?

ROBIN:  The Scarlet Coat by Angela K. Couch, [another] new favorite author

rem:  What do you munch on while you write?

ROBIN:  Chocolate is an easy go-to, but I love cashews and I try to eat fresh fruit when I can. Or cookies. (now I want cookies…)

rem:  Tell us a little about your writing journey.

ROBIN:  Actually I stumbled into my writing. I’ve always had stories in my head but didn’t know I was the writer until 1995. Fast forward to 2008 and I was out for a walk when my mind conjured up the beginning of Tessa. I went home and started writing. I also went back to school a few months later. After graduation and the big design career didn’t happen, I turned to writing. I haven’t stopped and I haven’t looked back.

rem:  What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

ROBIN:  In my “nest.” I am sitting on the couch, all my writing accoutrements within easy reach. I can even reach the printer if I stretch. I have to get through my emails and messages before I can focus on writing. If miscellaneous things are dangling in my mind, I get distracted until they’re quelled.

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rem:  What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

ROBIN:  Discipline / time management. I have my necessary docs open to serve as a constant “look at me” reminder. Once I get into my story, whatever point I’m at, the story takes over and I get my work done.

I take that back, my greatest struggle is the fatigue and weakness I experience with RA. I have the dubious luxury of staying home all day (disability) but I’m tired almost all the time. And that takes a great toll on writing.

rem:  Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

ROBIN:  I know I’m breaking a cardinal rule but I edit as I go. I love both aspects of writing, the creative part is the music on the page, and the editing is the fine tuning—and relentless practicing to make it the best it can be.

rem:  What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

ROBIN:  The stories, the people—both fictional and real. The network of friends. I’m a total Pantzer and I love seeing a story come together.

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

ROBIN:  DO: 1. Just do it. And keep doing it. 2. Network, get to know other authors. Build your writing community. 3. Know what works for you (trial and error) There is no “one size fits all” formula. BONUS: 4. Read. And read some more.

DON’T: 1. Don’t skimp on professional services: editing, cover design, headshot. No one can do it all. 2. Don’t compare yourself to other writers. Just don’t. 3. Don’t be afraid to share your work with others—and don’t eschew critiques from other writers.

rem:  Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

ROBIN:  All.over. Seriously, random thoughts, phrases, quotes—anything can turn into a new story.

rem:  How do you choose your characters’ names?

ROBIN:  The major characters introduce themselves to me. Supporting characters (I don’t like to say minor characters, I don’t want to hurt their feelings… ) I sometimes look for the right name—era, nationality, family names, etc, and on occasion I have posted on FB asking for suggestions.

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

ROBIN:  Nope. I jump in and know basically where it needs to end up. Other than that, I really don’t know.

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

ROBIN:  The Long Shadows of Summer is the first of four in my new series, Seasons. Set in 1912, it’s a cross between Upstairs Downstairs and Gone With the Wind. It’s one story arc told from the perspective of four different characters, all friends, and each with their own twist.

rem:  What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

ROBIN:  [so far] I wrote my first good kissy scene. Haven’t attempted that before. Read it because it’s a story of discovery, of learning her (Mercedes) true identity, which is parallel to learning who we are in Christ.

rem:  Tell us about why you wrote this book.

ROBIN:  Um, ‘cause they (the characters) started talking to me. And they were louder and more insistent than other characters waiting their turn.

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

ROBIN:

The Long Shadows of Summer – Mercedes Renaldi – July 1912

 

She looked so familiar to me, but I couldn’t place her. Sitting on the bench like she was outside Hooper’s Market. Her hat was at a rakish angle, her cocoa colored hair perfectly coiffed. Seemed there were tears in her green eyes. I was certain I had never seen her before. But she reminded me of someone…

It couldn’t be her, though. She was dead, we all watched her die. Floating away like that in the swamp. Her lavender dress billowed up like a balloon, her dark hair fanning out on the black water. We had made a pact, Pearl and Scarlett and me, never to tell anyone what happened.

>>> <<<

            I was the oldest of the bunch of us and we did everything together. As much as our elders would allow. My mother worked for Simone’s grandmother, Madame Antoinette Dubois. I helped Mamá most times, but sometimes I was allowed to play with Simone and her friend Pearl.

It happened in 1897, the summer I was eleven. Mamá didn’t make me help her as much in the summers and I was allowed to go outdoors with Simone and Pearl.  Scarlett’s Mamá, though, made her help with dusting the upstairs rooms, but she was permitted to come outdoors after luncheon was served.

Simone always was most daring, walking atop fences and climbing trees and such. That summer, though, it seemed she didn’t have a care. She wasn’t just daring, she was indifferent. She climbed higher than we had ever seen her climb. She would swing from the branches, like the monkeys we read about in our lessons, and then drop to the ground. She jumped right in the black water of the Santee River that day.

And floated away, pale as death.

 

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

ROBIN:  That we are all royalty in God’s eyes. These stories make the analogy (like a parable), all four girls (I say girls, they are young woman, in their twenties) learn something of who they really are.

rem:  Anything you’d like to add?

ROBIN:  I love what I do!

rem:  Thank you so much for chatting with us on my blog today!

ROBIN:  Any time.  Hee hee

 

rem:  Where can we find you online?

ROBIN:

 

http://robinemason.com

https://robinsnest212.wordpress.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Robin-E-Mason-Author-Artist/224223274404877
http://www.amazon.com/Robin-E.-Mason/e/B00MR5IQ9S
https://twitter.com/amythyst212
http://www.pinterest.com/amythyst212/

https://plus.google.com/u/0/108929134414473292325

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7808042.Robin_E_Mason

 

“I write stories of identity conflict. My characters encounter situations that force the question, “Who am I, really?” For all who have ever wondered who you are or why you’re here, my stories will touch you in a very real—maybe too real—and a very deep way. I know, I write from experience.”

 

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#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Robin E. Mason, unsavory heritage series, Tessa, Clara Bess, Cissy, Seasons Series, The Long Shadows of Summer

 

BLOGWORDS – Saturday 11 February 2017 – WHAT’S COOKIN’ IN YOUR KITCHEN – RANDOM RECIPES – ROBIN’S CINNAMON SWIRL CHEESECAKE

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WHAT’S COOKIN’ IN YOUR KITCHEN – RANDOM RECIPES – ROBIN’S CINNAMON SWIRL CHEESECAKE

 

I like to cook. And I like to invent my own recipes. And I like to try other people’s recipes. And now, I’m going to share them with you.

slide1note: not the work of my hands—my oven is out!

 

ROBIN’S CINNAMON SWIRL CHEESECAKE

Preheat oven to 325°

 

INGREDIENTS

Crust

1 ½      cups     graham cracker crumbs

¼         cup      brown sugar

½         teas      cinnamon

1          stick     butter, melted

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Filling

4          pkg      PHILADELPHIA Cream Cheese, softened (8 oz each)

¾         cup      granulated sugar

1          teas      vanilla

4                      eggs

 

Swirl Filling

½         cup      brown sugar

1          tbsp     ground cinnamon

 

Topping

½         cup      flour

½         cup      brown sugar

1          tbsp     cinnamon

¼         cup      butter, softened

 

 

DIRECTIONS

Combine ingredients for crust till mixture loosely crumbles.

Press into 9” spring form pan.

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In mixing bowl, beat cream cheese till creamy.

Add granulated and vanilla, and mix till well blended.

Add eggs, one at a time, and mix on low speed. *Do not over beat.

Pour mixture over crust.

 

Combine swirl ingredients and sprinkle evenly over cream cheese filling.

With toothpick or table knife, swirl through the batter till desired pattern is achieved.

 

Combine topping ingredients to form a soft crumbled mixture.

Sprinkle topping over the top.

 

Bake for 55 minutes, or until center is set.

Run knife or small spatula along rim of pan to loosen.

Allow to cool before removing rim.

Refrigerate for 4 – 6  hours.

 

Serve with cinnamon hazelnut coffee. Delicious.

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If you’ve a recipe you’d like to share leave a comment below or email me at robinemason212@gmail.com

 

NOTE: All recipes must be used with permission.

 

#Blogwords, What’s Cookin’ in Your Kitchen, #RandomRecipes, #AuthorsEat #AuthorsCook, Robin’s Cinnamon Swirl Cheesecake, Philadelphia Cream Cheese, Cinnamon, Hazelnut

 

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BLOGWORDS – Thursday 26 January 2017 – CHAT THURSDAY – REVIEWER INTERVIEW – CELESTA THIESSEN

CHAT THURSDAY – REVIEWER INTERVIEW – CELESTA THIESSEN

 

“Being a writer is magical – spinning nothing into stories – stories that can light the way to a different world.”

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“Settings are easy for me because that’s what’s always going on in my mind. I tend to spend very little time in the present in the real world. Most of my time is spent far away in fantastic places. I like my invented worlds because they’re unique and exciting and the dangers are life and death.”

 

rem:  Hullo Celesta and welcome! Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

CELESTA:  I grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. It’s the largest city in Manitoba – near the center of the continent of North America. I really enjoyed growing up there, right across the road from a huge shopping mall. It was a great place to live. Now I live in Steinbach, Manitoba. It is a very small city (more like a town, really) that is one hour away from Winnipeg. I just love it here because it’s so quiet, there’s no traffic and it’s a more Christian community with lots of churches and Christian heritage.

rem:  And not a little bit cold right about now, I imagine! BRRRR  Tell us three things about yourself.

CELESTA:  I’m a homeschooling mom, I have a business with my husband making apps for iPhone and iPad, and I write books for Jesus.

rem:  Books I knew, writing apps I did not! What do you do as a hobby?

CELESTA:  My hobbies are reading, taking photos and LARPing. Live Action Role Play(LARP) is like playing adventures dressed up in costume in a world like in Lord of the Rings.

rem:  LARP’ing sounds like so much fun – I’m an actress don’tcha know! What’s your all-time favorite movie? Favorite TV show?

CELESTA:  Soldier – I’ve watched that so many times. I just love that movie! As for TV shows, I don’t love them as much as movies but I recently enjoyed watching Super Girl. I also really liked Once.

rem:  Haven’t seen that one (Soldier) but will take your recommendation to see it! What is the first thing you notice about people?

CELESTA:  This is the first time I’ve actually thought about that question. But the first thing I notice about people is if they are looking at me. I guess I look to see if they are paying attention to me to see if I should try engaging with them. I find connecting with people hard so if they’re not even looking at me then I usually just go back into my own world in my head.

rem:  Interesting take on it but oh so true! Hugs or kisses?

CELESTA:  Kisses, totally. But hugs are nice too, but only with close family. I’m not a hug-everyone type of person.

rem:  I need some kisses in my life! Hugs too! Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?

CELESTA:  My favorite Bible verse is 1 Samuel 16:7b– “People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” I feel like a lot of people don’t understand me or get where I’m coming from. But God gets me. He made me the way that I am and he knows my heart.

rem:  Isn’t that so comforting, that no matter what, God “gets” us!! If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?

CELESTA:  My super-awesome, brilliant, patient, kind, supportive and attractive husband, Leo. I’m SO lucky ❤

rem:  Best.answer.ever What do you think is significant about Christian fiction?  How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?

CELESTA:  I think Christian fiction is important because it gives an alternative to the soulless, misleading mainstream fiction that is pushing the enemy’s agenda. It can lead people closer to the Truth (Jesus) and help people grow in their relationship with God.

 

I feel like God called me to write. I think being pushed outside of your comfort zone makes you grow. I always hoped I would be able write a book one day. Now I have over 30 books published. I couldn’t have done it without God. Writing has made me tune into him more and rely on him and follow him more closely.

rem:  I agree, well written Christian Fiction draws us closer to Father and to the Truth. And yes, I also believe Father called me to write. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?  

CELESTA:  I’ll stop reading a book if I don’t care about any of the people in it or if I can’t see it. Sometimes when I’m reading an indie book the description is so sparse or confusing that I have trouble seeing the story.

rem:  Yeah, I tend to go overboard with description… LOL  Which is more important: plot or characters?

CELESTA:  Honestly it’s characters. My favorite genre is sci fi so I love plot and action! But the reality is that I’ll read a good sweet romance if the characters are great and I’ll love it but I’ll drop a sci fi book if I don’t care about the people in it.

rem:  Isn’t that true in life, too, though? If we don’t care about the person we are less vested in what happens to them? What would you do if you weren’t writing?

CELESTA:  If I wasn’t writing I’m pretty sure I would feel way more miserable like I did for the first ten years of my working life – being a round block trying to fit into a square hole. I used to be a schoolteacher.

rem:  Oh how well I know the round block in a square hole syndrome!!  Too many years! And I’ve never been happier with what I’m doing than with my writing! What are you reading right now?

CELESTA:  I’m studying scripts right now because I’m going to write for TV one day. Also, I’m reading, Save the Cat – a book on writing screenplays. I feel like I’m learning a lot about story structure.

rem:  How fun is that! I mentioned I’m an actress, ya’d think I’d want to write scirpts but nope, no interest in that at all! LOL  What do you munch on while you write?

CELESTA:  Nothing. I need to focus and have trouble doing two things at once. I’m one of those people who can’t chew gum and walk J

rem:  LOL  I don’t listen to music (or nothing) at all when I’m writing for the same reason – too distracting. (I do have to eat though, blood sugar… ) Tell us a little about your writing journey.

CELESTA:  I wanted to be a writer since I was twelve years old. The summer when I was sixteen I really tried to write. But I found is SO difficult that I basically gave up on it as a career goal. Then when I was 32 God closed every other door to me so that I was forced to really consider doing this writing thing that I knew he wanted me to do all along.

rem:  Isn’t it “funny” how Father narrows our path like that? What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

CELESTA:  I write in my office. My office is the walk-in closet in my bedroom. My routine is that I wake up in the morning by 6am, sometimes earlier. I do some Bible memorization then I start in on my writing. I do most of my writing in the morning before 8am.

rem:  Yikes! And kudos to you, ya morning person you! LOL  What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

CELESTA:  The constant struggle is battling the enemy’s never-ending barrage of lies. I can’t do it. No one will read my stories anyway. What I do doesn’t matter. No one cares what I do. My stories aren’t any good. I’m not a real writer. I have 20 sticky notes up on the wall in my office. Everyday before I start my writing I read these things out loud to myself. On the sticky notes are Bible verses and other things I believe that God wants me to remember. I also sometimes listen to Christian music to drive away the paralyzing negative thoughts.

rem:  And he’ll do whatever he can to stop us from fulfilling Father’s will and plan for us, won’t he? You keep your focus on Father and His Word and the enemy (and his lies) can’t touch you! Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

CELESTA: Making up stories in my head is the easiest part for me. It’s the getting them down AND the perfecting them parts that are hard work.

rem:  Right. I’ve had stories in my head always! What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

CELESTA:  Spinning nothing into stories that can light the way to a different world.

rem:  Beautifully said, Celesta. What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

CELESTA:  The hardest part about publishing was learning how to do it and publishing my first story. Now the actual publishing of the stories is easy for me. Once you learn how to format them the right way for the different places then it’s easy.

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

CELESTA:

  1. Write what you love.
  2. Just write anything (you can always fix it later).
  3. Do what only you can do – tell the story that only you can tell. rem: love this one!

 

  1. Don’t Compare – Comparing is a trap that makes you lose! à If you think you’re better -that’s pride. If you think you’re worse you’ll just feel bad. Your journey might not be the same as other people. Success is to obey God.
  2. Don’t listen to the voices that tell you that you can’t do it.
  3. Don’t give up. If you don’t give up you will succeed, eventually.

 

 

rem:  You write a variety of stories—sci fi / fantasy, kids stories, inspiration, and a devotional—where do you get your greatest ideas for writing? (And how do you keep up?)

CELESTA:  I haven’t written a devotional. I have written a marriage book, though. After 20 years of marriage and walking a journey from a horrible marriage to a beautiful, fulfilling, God-honoring marriage I feel I have a lot to share on the topic J

 

I get ideas from life, TV, movies, books, dreams and after that I just make random stuff up. I never really know which ideas are the greatest until I start writing them down or sometimes when I hear others respond to the story. As for keeping up I’m still figuring that out. I feel like I’m juggling and I drop the balls sometimes.

 

rem:  Oops, thought it was a devotional!   :-O  What a wonderful testimony, and even more wonderful of you to share what you’ve learned. You’ve co-authored several books with your daughters. How do you balance that and who does what?

CELESTA:  When I write with my daughters I sit at my computer and write while they shout ideas and phrases at me that I incorporate into the story. In our story there is one character that represents each of them so that character usually speaks with my daughters’ exact words.

rem:  Sounds like a fun set up. I’m hoping to collaborate with my granddaughter – she’s eleven. How do you choose your characters’ names?

CELESTA:  To choose characters names I sometimes get help from Facebook friends. I describe the character and ask for help naming them. People tend to like that and I really appreciate their input. Sometimes, when I’m in a rush, I just name them the first name that comes to mind. When I do that, though, half the time I end up changing it because the name doesn’t end up suiting them.

rem:  I’ve done both but my main characters introduce themselves to me so their name is “predetermined.” Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?

CELESTA:  Never. About half of the time I have setting, main characters, problem and the resolution to the problem. But these latest two books I started writing with nothing at all and just pantsed it. (Wrote it flying by the seat of my pants.)

 

rem:  Ya, 100% Pantzer here! Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

CELESTA:  My current project is THE DREAMERS. It is a sequel to WHISPERS OF A FADED DREAMER – which is currently free on Amazon!

 

http://viewbook.at/Faded_Dreamer

 

rem:  What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?

CELESTA:  I like this book because it shows that God can rescue any situation, no matter how bad it is, if we turn to him.

rem:  I think that’s the saddest thing ever, for someone to feel God cannot reach into their circumstance and redeem it and them for His glory. Talk about lies of the enemy!  😥  Tell us about why you wrote this book.

CELESTA:  I just started typing and that’s what came out.

rem:  Pretty much my modus operandi. Please give us the first page of the book.

CELESTA:  Okay, how about I give you the first page of the first book in the series. Giving you the first page of the second book would be a major spoiler J

 

This is the story of a faded dreamer for that is what I am.

I was sitting on a large, flat rock on the sandy beach. With the city behind me, I looked out over the calm blue water as the sun shone down on me. But the warmth of the sun and the gentle breeze didn’t touch my soul. I was alone. The horror was fading but tears filled my eyes again. I’d lost everything. I wouldn’t be able to help anyone, ever again. Tears spilled out and coursed down my cheeks. I let myself cry. There was no reason to try to be brave anymore.

“Now, who will dream my dreams with me?” I whispered.

 

***

 

“Cara Pierce, you know I don’t like you helping all the guys all the time.” Dennis stood too close to me in the school hallway. He towered over me, regarding me with his serious blue eyes. He was so sincere but…really? Scolding me and calling me by my full name?

Taking in his lanky features and fair hair, I took a small step back and tried for a smile. “I help the girls too.” I didn’t like where this conversation was going…again.

“It’s just…I’m your boyfriend. I want you talking to me, spending time with me.”

“I know…but you’re not in my Math class. My teacher likes that I help the other students understand how to do the assignments.”

“That’s not the point. I’m a guy. I know what guys are like. You’re a pretty, blue-eyed red-head. I know what they’re thinking. You’re sending the wrong signals, Cara. I don’t like you flirting with other guys.”

I looked at him incredulously. “Dennis…it’s not flirting – at all.”

He had been talking so loudly that people were staring at us. Dennis glanced down at his watch. “Gotta go. The bell’s about to ring.” He turned away from me and walked quickly down the hall.

Reluctantly, I entered the brightly lit classroom. I took my usual place, at a desk beside Jason, someone who appreciated my help. But it really wasn’t flirting.

Our elderly Math teacher went up to the front and droned on for a while about the topic of the day. I tried to pay attention to the examples that he put up on the board. Opening my binder and pulling out a pen, I copied down the problems and their solutions. I wondered if I should feel angry at what Dennis had said or if I should feel guilty. But the truth was that I felt bad about it already and I wondered how I would be able to make things up to him. I’d have to make sure I wasn’t sending the wrong signals. I wasn’t trying to send the wrong signals. Were boys really so complicated? I sighed. Dennis was such a good guy. I really loved him. But I was just never able to do good enough – even when I was really trying. There was an ache in my heart again. It seemed like I’d been struggling with that for a long time. I blinked and tried to refocus on the examples. It would never do to cry in class.

Finally the teacher stopped talking and wrote down which questions we needed to do from the textbook. After re-explaining how to do these problems to Jason, I started on the questions myself.

“How about a little help over here, Angel?” a guy called from across the room.

 

rem:  Um, okay, I’m hooked! What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

CELESTA:  I hope they see truth in my books and feel hope.

rem:  And that’s what the life of a believer is all about, isn’t it? Anything you’d like to add?

CELESTA:  If you have kids you might also like to check out these interactive Bible story apps for iPad that my husband and I have made. http://visionsencoded.com/interactive-bible-stories/

 

rem:  Wonderful! I’ll check that out for my grandgirls. Celesta, thank you so much for chatting with us on my blog today!  It has been my pleasure to have you here!

 

rem:  And where can we find you online?

CELESTA:

http://viewauthor.at/Celesta

http://celestathiessen.com

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCelesta/

https://www.amazon.com/Celesta-Thiessen/e/B0073JA7DQ/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1

 

012617-celesta-thiessen-book-images2

 

 

 

#Blogwords, Chat Thursday, Author Interview, Celesta Thiessen, Whispers of a Faded Dream, Amber Rain, Dragon and Warrior, Salt Eden, Nightcat, Please Fix My Marriage

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Please give a big welcome to SHARON SROCK.

 

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“Sometimes a woman needs another woman to lean on, to draw strength from, to share her secrets with. Someone who knows the dark moments of her past and loves her anyway. Someone to tell her the truth, even when it stings. Someone to pray for her. Someone to remind her that God still loves her. Those are the stories I tell. Ordinary women, extraordinary faith.”
rem:  Thank you, Sharon for being on my blog this week. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

SHARON:  I was born in California, but I’ve lived all over.  It wasn’t until I was 14 that we moved to Tecumseh, OK. I’ve been in that area ever since.

rem:  I’ve bounced around a lot, too. Tell us three things about yourself.

SHARON:  Purple is my favorite color. I despise reality TV. I like to mow the grass

rem:  Ditto to all three! If you could have any super power what would it be?

SHARON:  Teleportation

rem:  Now that would come in handy! Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

SHARON:  Coffee, sweet, chocolate

rem:  Chocolate is ALWAYS good! Star Trek or Star Wars?

SHARON:  Star Trek!! Are you kidding? I have Star Trek uniforms in my closet.

rem:  A true Trekkie! Vacation: beach or mountains?

SHARON:  Beach. I was born close to the water and I think it calls to me (smile)

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

SHARON:  Consistency. I think it’s wonderful when you can look at a person and know that they are the same in or out of your presence. This is a person you can trust.

rem:  Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

SHARON:  Other than the Bible, I’d say TO KILL A MOCKING BIRD. I’ve probably read it a dozen times.

rem:  Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

SHARON:  Spock from Star Trek. He was such a complex character but he had a very human heart.

rem:  There’s that Trekkie again! What would you do if you weren’t writing?

SHARON:  Reading a whole lot more than I get to since I started writing!

rem:  I’m actually reading more since I started writing! Tell us a little about your writing journey.

SHARON:  I’ve had an easy journey compared to a lot of stories I’ve heard. I’ve only been writing for publication for six years. God has been good to me since I decided to obey His call in my life.

rem:  Funny how He works that out! What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

SHARON:  I still work full time so I write in whatever bits and snatches of time I can carve from my day. Breaks at work, lunch time. An hour in the evening…computer open in my lap on a road trip. It’s all fair game.

rem:  I can’t fathom working full time (I’m on Disability) and writing, too! What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

SHARON:  That first blank page of a new story is a killer. I just start writing and then I edit it until it says what I meant for it to say. I can’t go much further until that first page makes sense.

rem:  Not so different for me, I write, I edit, I write, I edit…til it’s done. Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

SHARON:  I think I like the editing. At that point I can finally print it out and have the results of the months of effort in my hands. It’s a tangible reward. The fact that I’m going to mark it up with a red pen doesn’t bother me at all.

rem:  I love holding the results of months of effort in my hands! What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

SHARON:  Having my work enjoyed by others. There is no greater blessing for me as a writer than to get a note from a reader, or a review, that says “This story touched me. Or “This story made me think.”

rem:  Or, as I heard last Sunday, “You’re such a great story teller.” What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

SHARON:  When I was writing for a traditional publisher it was the waiting…endless waiting! Submit a story…wait six months. Submit your edits…wait some more. Send off the finished book and wait nine to ten months for it to release. I’m not a good waiter!!!  Since I went indie, things are so much easier. The steps are all still there, but the months have been replace by days!

rem:  Another ditto—I do not wait nicely… What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would recommend not doing?

SHARON:  Things a new writer must do: Find a good critique partner or group. Join a good writing group. WRITE

Things a new writer shouldn’t do: Be impatient (And man am I preaching to the choir!) Think you can edit your own story…you can’t! Listen to the voices of the nay sayers. This is your dream, not theirs. You CAN do this!

rem:  I like that, “[don’t] listen to the voices of the nay sayers.” I don’t think I’ve had anyone say that before, but it’s so true. Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

SHARON:  I tend to wake up with story ideas in my head and voices whispering in my ears. I usually know the beginning and the end when I start. I get to fill in the middle.

rem:  Ditto, one mo’ ‘gin. Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?

SHARON:  CALLIE. She was the first, the fulfillment of a dream.

rem:  There is something special about that first book baby, isn’t there? Which character in the story is most like/least like you?

SHARON:  I’d have to say Callie. I knew so little when I started writing. I’d heard that you write what you know. Callie resembles me a lot in physical, work, and relationships. She is also the least like me. She out grew me very quickly and turned into this wise and patient woman. I invented her and now she is who I want to be when I grow up.

 

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rem:  Funny thing, I’ve a character named Callie, too; I’ll read yours if you read mine! Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?

SHARON:  I’m starting a new series, Tentatively called SISTERS BY DESIGN. I hope to release the first book before Christmas this year.

rem:  Oh! I love that series title! Please don’t change it… What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

SHARON:  That God loves us despite our fears, our past, our scars. ORDINARY WOMEN, EXTRAORDINARY FAITH.

rem:  Not terribly different to mine, now I think about it! Thanks for joining us today, Sharon. It’s been a pleasure having on my blog!

 

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http://www.facebook.com/SharonSrock#!/SharonSrock

https://twitter.com/#!/SharonSrock

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6448789.Sharon_Srock

 

#sharonsrock, #authorinterview, #ordinarywomenextraordinaryfaith, #callie, #terri, #pam, # samantha

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Please give a big welcome to CECELIA DOWDY.

 

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

CECELIA:  I was raised in Aberdeen, Maryland on a military base. Afterwards, I lived in the town of North East, Maryland. Currently, I live in Greenbelt, Maryland.

rem:  I started on a military base too. Moved around a lot after that. Tell us three things about yourself.

CECELIA:  I love desserts! I love baking (when I have the time)! I love to read!

 

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rem:  Must be why you have a “Bakery Romance Series!” What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? What’s your favorite cookie?

CECELIA:  Cookies and cream. Chocolate chip (made with milk chocolate chips)

rem:  I see a theme here… If you could have any super power what would it be?

CECELIA:  I would be a healer. If I touched an injury or a disabled person, he/she would be healed!

rem:  What a wonderful power to have! Which Muppet do you most resemble? Why?

CECELIA:  Funny you should ask me this question! I can’t really compare myself to the Muppets, but, I do admire Jim Henson, their creator. He’s an alumnae of my alma mater, University of Maryland. Years ago, when they erected a statue of him at UMD, I went to see it. He traveled around Europe, learned as much as he could about puppeteering. Reminds me of when I used to travel around to conferences, soaking up as much knowledge as I could about writing.

rem:  So co-alumnae! Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

CECELIA:  Coffee with cinnamon, honey and half and half!

rem:  I, too, love cinnamon in my coffee, brew it right in. Not sweet, though. Kids or pets? Names and ages?

CECELIA:  I’d love to have a pet, but, no time! I have one child, Christopher Toomer Junior (CJ). Ten years old.

rem:  Yes, yes they (pets) are, demanding and time-consuming. Superman or Batman?

CECELIA:  Batman!

rem:  Vacation: beach or mountains?

CECELIA:  Beach!

rem:  What is your most treasured possession?

CECELIA:  Honestly? I don’t know! Off the top of my head, I can’t really think of a treasured possession.

rem:  What is your greatest regret?

CECELIA:  Sometimes I wish we’d had more children. But, having one is nice. We can dote on our child!

rem:  I had always thought I’d be older and married longer before I had children, but if I had waited, they wouldn’t be the people they are; so thankful for who Father placed in my care. What is your favourite quotation and why?

CECELIA:  I don’t have one.

rem:  What do you do as a hobby?

CECELIA:  Baking, reading, watching movies.

rem:  I reckon that was a silly question, eh?  LOL  Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

CECELIA:  The Bible.

rem:  Always a good Book to read, always new. Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?

CECELIA:  Christian fiction is my favorite genre. Too many authors to mention. I love so many of them!

rem:  Same here, to both. Which is more important: plot or characters?

CECELIA:  Characters. If you have a good intense plot, it doesn’t matter if you don’t care about the people.

rem:  Yes, the story doesn’t really matter if you don’t connect with the people. What would you do if you weren’t writing?

CECELIA:  I’d like to become a professional baker if I could not be a writer.

rem:  Imagine that! wink wink Tell us a little about your writing journey.

CECELIA:  I’ve been writing for several years. I joined Romance Writers of America and attended their conferences. I learned a lot about the craft and the industry.

rem:  Writers conferences are invaluable, in so many ways. Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

CECELIA:  I have an office in my house.

rem:  What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

CECELIA:  Rejection. It gets easier as time goes on. Since I’m indie now, I don’t have to worry about rejection as much.

rem:  That’s a common fear for all of us, I think. Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

CECELIA:  Creating. There’s just something soothing and therapeutic about writing a story without having to worry about editing and such.

rem:  I do love when the muse is pouring forth! What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

CECELIA:  I love creating stories and hearing that others have enjoyed my novels.

rem:  Not much compares to readers gushing over what we’ve written! What was the hardest thing about publishing? The easiest?

CECELIA:  Rejection. Easiest? Can’t really think of anything easy? LOL!

rem:  You state on your website that, “I answer questions about writing, and seeking publication on my blog.” What is one key piece of advice you would offer?

CECELIA:  Get involved in a national writers group like RWA or ACFW. Go to some writers conferences to learn the ropes of writing and the industry.

rem:  I wholeheartedly agree! What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer?

CECELIA:  Writers conferences, get a good critique group/partner or an editor, read as many books in your genre as you can.

rem:  Tell us about your FanFiction. What is it and why do you write it?

CECELIA:  Actually, it was my sister who encouraged me to do that! She told me about fan fiction and that if I wrote it, I might get folks who liked my fan fiction to come and read my novels! It hasn’t quite worked out that way, though! LOL! Titanic is my all-time favorite movie and I wrote a fan fic where Jack Dawson lives. It’s always bothered me that he died at the end. It was like, the romance was not completed.

rem:  Kudos to your sister! Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

CECELIA:  I’m not sure? Ideas just come to me at different times.

rem:  I can relate to that. Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?

CECELIA:   No, not really.

rem:  Which character in the story is most like/least like you?

CECELIA:  Well, I share my love of baking with both characters, but, other than that, neither of my characters are like me. I guess both of them are least like me?

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

CECELIA:  Shades of Chocolate:

Toni enjoys making chocolate treats in her bakery. Haunted by her abusive past, she struggles with her faith in God. Her world changes when a handsome stranger arrives, reminiscing about his childhood. Jason Matthews misses his days of working in his family’s pastry shop. Estranged from his father, he longs to rediscover the joy and comfort from baking. When Toni’s life is threatened, Jason realizes how deeply he cares for her. Can Toni and Jason overcome their pasts and learn to trust one another?

rem:  Can’t wait to read it! (I do love chocolate… ) What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

CECELIA:  Have faith in God. No matter what you’re going through, pray about it, have faith that God will see you through your troubles.

rem:  Absolutely, I love to see that in the stories I read. Thanks for joining us today, Cecelia. It’s been a pleasure having on my blog!

 

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Twitter: https://twitter.com/cdnovelist

Facebook: http://bit.ly/1Tg7LMh

Amazon link for Shades of Chocolate:http://amzn.to/1Vf9K6i

Amazon link for my Author Page:http://amzn.to/1MGr6Yh

 

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#ceceliadowdy, #authorinterview, #shadesofchocolate, #bakeryromanceseries, #raspberrykissed, #sweetdreams, #lemonpoundcakerecipe

 

 

OLD FASHIONED LEMON POUND CAKE

1 ½ cups butter (3 sticks)
3 cups sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon lemon extract
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
6 large eggs
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup evaporated milk

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour 10-inch tube pan. Beat butter in large mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add sugar ½ cup at a time, creaming well after each addition. Stir in vanilla, lemon extract, juice and rind. Add eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition. Sift together flour, baking powder and salt; add to creamed mixture alternately with milk. Stir thoroughly after each addition. Pour into prepared pan. Bake until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, 70 to 80 minutes. If cake is not done after 70-80 minutes, bake longer, until wooden pick comes out clean. Cool for 20 minutes; remove from pan.

GLAZE:
Sift one cup of confectioners’ sugar into a bowl. Squeeze juice of one lemon into a separate bowl. Remove seeds from the lemon juice. Mix lemon juice with confectioners’ sugar and drizzle over cooled cake.

 

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Please give a big welcome to—

me

rem

 

 

rem:  Thank you, Robin for being on my blog this week.

Robin: Thank you. I’m happy to be here.

rem: Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

Robin: About me. I’m eclectic, I’m a singer and actress and artist, as well as a writer. I have three grown children and two precious grand girls. I was born at Columbus Air Force Base in Mississippi, we moved around a lot—I went from coast to coast and back again before I was even born!—lived sixteen years in Colorado, and now live in the upstate of South Carolina. I’ve been here for 28 years.

rem: Tell us three things about yourself.

Robin: 1) I love all things British and Irish, and I do a pretty good British and Irish accent; my favourite thing to say in accent, is, “I’m born in Mississippi.” 2) I have a twisted sense of humour. But I’m really fun to be with! 3) I had knee replacement seven weeks ago and I couldn’t be more satisfied or excited! (I’ve needed it since, well, forever really.)

 

rem: What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream? What’s your favorite cookie?

Robin: Ice cream: chocolate mint, close second, cinnamon swirl. Cookie: snicker doodle, close second, mint chocolate chip.

rem: If you could have any super power what would it be?

Robin: The way Samantha Stevens could speed herself up. I always have so much to do and not enough time to do it. There are two reasons for this: not the best at time management but also I get really tired really easily. (which is changing since my surgery!)

rem: Which Muppet do you most resemble? Why?

Robin: Big Bird? ‘cause,  you know, Robin, bird…  (I’m kind of out of the Muppet loop these days)

rem: Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

Robin: Yes. I drink coffee in the mornings, then tea the rest of the time (my blood type is A-tea-positive…..) Definitely not sweetened, coffee or tea. And coffee is cinnamon hazelnut, tea is Pekoe and green tea, no flavors.

rem: Dogs or Cats? Which do you prefer? What are the names of your pets?

Robin: I think I’m part cat. I like dogs okay, but I’ a cat lover. They are, Shadow (the Mama), Trinity Juniper Star, Jasper Jupiter Mars, Jacob Jeremiah, and Princess Penelope Primrose.

 

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rem: Superman or Batman?

Robin: Batman. Hello? Robin here….. #sorryhadto

rem: Vacation: beach or mountains?

Robin: Give me my mountains. #rockymountainhigh

rem: What is your most treasured possession?

Robin: Of things it would be my birthstone ring. It’s a pink amethyst, which is a rare color variation. My mother’s father bought it in 1919, forty years before I was born.

rem: What is your greatest fear?

Robin: Oddly enough, my fear used to be success not failure. Failure I knew, success terrified me.

rem: What is your greatest regret?

Robin: Being afraid of success for so many years.

rem: What is your favourite quotation and why?

Robin: There are so many that I identify with but given my aforementioned fear of success, this one speaks to me deeply: “What if I fail? Oh, but my darling what if you fly?” attributed to Erin Hanson (see greatest fear and regret)

 

 

rem: What do you do as a hobby?

Robin: Does research count? LOL When I’m not writing or reading, I like to paint and draw, I love to be outdoors and go for long walks. (which I’ll be able to do without pain as recovery from surgery progresses!) I also love to cook and bake.

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

Robin: Genuineness. Don’t play games with me, be real. Qualities that make a man or woman are integrity, honesty, compassion. Oh, and a sense of humour!

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

Robin: The story has to be real, plausible even fantasy and sci fi. And it has to be well told.

rem: Which book have you read the most in your lifetime?

Robin: Ummmm…. let me get back to you on that one…. I read few more than once.

rem: Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

Robin: Too cliché to say Robin Hood?

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

Robin: Too cliché to say Maid Marian?

rem: Who are your favorite authors to read? What is your favorite genre to read?

Robin: Favorite genre, easy, historical fiction, Biblical fiction in particular. Favorite authors include Tessa Afshar, Marian Merritt, Kristen Heitzmann, Valerie Comer, newcomer Connilyn Cossette—it’s a long list…

rem: Which is more important: plot or characters?

Robin: Yes. According to DiAnn Mills, “They are inseparable.” (from my interview with her on 28 January) The way I see it, one feeds the other.

 

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

Robin: Wishing I was. I’ve my BFA in Interior Design and I love doing it. But writing fits me like nothing ever has.

 

rem: Tell us a little about your writing journey.

Robin: I started writing in 1995 as a self-prescribed therapy; I was going through some pretty intense self-examination at the time, going to counseling and on anti-depressant. The writing “came” to me, naturally, and turned into something so much more. I started with my story (which will never see publication) and over the years, have written dozens of poems. In July of 2008, the opening of Tessa, my debut novel, came to me. I made a bit of a start, then lost a chunk (digital malfunction) and I abandoned it. I also went back to school, started with the 2009 spring semester, and that didn’t leave much time for writing (I was also diagnosed with RA during this time.) After graduation, and the anticipated illustrious career in Interior Design did not manifest, I set back to my writing; I got serious about it somewhere around September of that year, and by end of January 2014, Tessa was complete. The rest, as they say, is history.

rem: What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?

Robin: Routine, not so much. Although, the muse seems strongest in the afternoon and evening. (In fact, I just set myself an alarm for 5:00—I feed the fur babies at about 5:30 and was so into writing I missed it. Looked up and it was after six! Of course, this also means my supper is later rather than earlier…)

In preparation for surgery, I had to rearrange my living room (technically, two wonderful friend did this for me, and wouldn’t even let me help!) I now have a niche with my writing accoutrements at hand—I “nest” as I write and need everything within easy reach—and it works very well for me. Almost officey looking even.

 

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rem: What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?

Robin: Discipline? Focus? Staying off of Facebook….  (yeeps) Once I get into my storyline, at whatever point that might be, it’s pretty golden, and words flow. It’s just that “jump” over that hurdle; I think all writers struggle with this at one time or another.

rem: Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

Robin: Yes. Like plot and character, they are, for me, inseparable. There is the school of thought that you write the first draft without so much as glancing back over it at all, at all. I can’t do that, I need to review, see where I’ve been to get the feel for where it’s going. And yes, I edit as I go. Same principle.

rem: What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

Robin: The stories. As a plantzer  I don’t know [most of] the story until I write it. I know the general arc, and where the story needs to go to resolution, but how it gets there—no clue until the characters tell me!

 

 

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

Robin: The hardest? I had no clue what I was doing. The easiest? I had a friend who did!

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

Robin: DO: 1) Keep writing. 2) Network. Get involved in writing communities, both live and online. Be involved in the writing journey of other writers. 3) Never give up. 4) Don’t compare yourself – your writing or your journey – to another writer. What works, or fits, for one will and necessarily be the best plan for you. 5) One more nugget, which most writers accept as par for the course. Read. Read. And read some more. I have read some that were not what I would have otherwise read, and found that I quite enjoyed them. Like any other field, we are ever learning and growing, and honing our craft. (okay that was more than three… )
DON’T: 1) Ever give up. 2) Forego the value of editing! Or professioinal cover design. No one person can do it all. As an artist, it was hard to let go of my concept for my cover, but in the end I’m very happy with my covers! (designed by Victorine Lieske, by the way) 3) (don’t) take criticism personally. A good critique will have issues that may or may not hurt our feelings, but to produce the best we can produce, we must have more than our own eyes on our work.

rem: Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

Robin: Yes. Anywhere and everywhere. The most random thing can trigger a new story, a name, a concept…

rem: What do you like most about being a writer?
Robin: The creative process, which really isn’t much of a process at all. It’s amorphic, fluid, ever changing. While I know I need the [ahem] discipline, as a creative, this flexibility serves me well. I really love being able to tell a story that others enjoy reading. And as I’ve cast my networking net, I am thriving on the community of writers I am now part of!
rem: Do you have a favorite book or work that you’ve written? If so, why?

Robin: Third book in, and I could no more pick a favorite than I could choose a favorite between my children!

rem: Which character in the story is most like/least like you?

Robin: Cassie. She didn’t know her own amazing talent and ability. She didn’t loathe herself as I did, but neither did she know her worth, or really who she was; she felt invisible, and I very much relate to that.

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

Robin: Tessa, Clara Bess, and Cissy are all part of the unsavory heritage series. When I wrote Tessa, I had no idea of a sequel, let alone a series. Father God, however, had a plan. Cissy is the culmination of the generational story. It is where the “unsavory” begins, and loops back and forth between the 1860’s and current day; it is also the resolution of the unsavory heritage.

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rem: Why do you write Christian fiction?
Robin
: For me it’s an opportunity to express my faith without being “preachy.” There’s a time and place for traditional witnessing, but to me the greater value and effect is being real in what I believe and living my life accordingly; indeed, this opens the door for direct ministry. For me to be able to write the way I write – which I cannot market as Christian Fiction because of a few “no-no” words – and yet I am a Christian and I am an author, so my faith is in every word I write (yes, even “those” words) and my story conveys what I believe. In the grander scheme, Christian fiction is a platform that readers hold in their hands, and they may confront a Truth they never realized or understood before. If something I write gives a reader pause, plants a seed, or waters a seed planted, then my story is a success.
rem: What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?

Robin: Know who you are, and why you were created. Identity is from Father God, and He will bring us to our purpose.

rem: How do you hope your readers react to your stories?
Robin
: Like any other author, I hope readers fall in love with my characters. I hope they find some truth, something that speaks to them in the words I write. I hope some facet of my story rings true with my readers.

 

rem:  Thanks for joining us today, Robin. It’s been a pleasure having on my blog!

 

#robinemason, #authorinterview, #interivewselfie, #unsavoryheritageseries, #tessa, #larabess, #cissy

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Author Interview – HARRIET MICHAEL

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WRITING PROMPTS & THOUGHTS & IDEAS (oh my)

INTERVIEW BLITZ

 

Harriet is a Christian writer and speaker. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, magazines, anthologies, and devotionals including, Focus on the Family, The Upper Room, The Secret Place, David C Cook Company, Lifeway, Celebrate Life, and many others. She has written two e-books about prayer,

When the Psalmist penned the verse quoted at the top of my homepage, he penned one of the most beautiful verses in scripture. The verse is addressed to “all who fear God”. They are the ones who will be able to truly appreciate what God has done for a soul, because they have a story too – God has done something for their soul too. This blog is my story of what God has done for my soul and like the Psalmist, I invite all who fear God to come and hear (or in this case, read) what God has done for my soul.

 

rem: Welcome Harriet! So glad to have you on my blog. Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?

HARRIET: I was born in the jungles of Africa. Really. My parents served as missionaries in the country of Nigeria and the year I was born, they happened to be relieving in the very remote jungle village of Joinkrama. A year after my birth, they transferred to a less remote area for language school and eventually to the city of Ogbomoso. All of my childhood memories are from Ogbomoso, but we did visit Joinkrama once, so I have some memory of it. There really were monkeys swinging in the trees and elephants walking around in Joinkrama. I tasted elephant meat when we visited. One had been killed by a villager, so of course there was plenty of meat to share. J

My parents moved back to the US during the Nigerian- Biafran War. I lived my high school days in Bluefield, WV. After marrying, almost 37 years ago, my husband and I moved to Louisville, KY and still live here today.

rem: Not just to be cliché, but I’d love to visit Africa someday! Tell us three things about yourself.

HARRIET:

  • I have four grown children, three sons and a daughter.
  • I have only one grandchild (my daughter’s child). But one of my sons and his wife are in the process of adopting, so I will soon have two grandchildren.
  • Aside from writing, I work part time as a substitute teacher.

rem: Nothing like them grandbabies is there! What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?

HARRIET: Cotton Candy. I have a serious sweet tooth.

rem: I’d say so! If you could have any super power what would it be?

HARRIET: I’d like to beam myself places, like the people on Star Trek could. Remember that? I was a big Star Trek fan as a teen and always thought it would be nice to be able to be beamed where you want to go, instead of having to spend long hours traveling.

rem: I know right! Coffee or tea? Sweet or un? Flavored or not?

HARRIET: Diet Coke. Haha! But I like coffee and tea too, though I do not consume them often. But when I do, they are always sweetened.

rem: Haha! Ya got me! Vacation: beach or mountains?

HARRIET: Beach, for sure! I love the beach. My family went there every summer when I was a teenager. I don’t get to go as often now as I would like.

rem: I don’t guess so from Kentucky! If you come visit me, we’ll scoot right on over though! What is your favorite quotation and why?

HARRIET: “I believe in God as I believe the sun has risen –not only because I see it but because by it I see everything else.” –C.S. Lewis

rem: That’s beautiful What do you do as a hobby?

HARRIET: I love to garden, though I don’t have a real green thumb. Plants don’t always grow for me, but I sure do enjoy digging in the dirt and hoping they will grow. I also enjoy pencil drawing and do that on occasion.

rem: Oh! We are kindred spirit—digging in the dirt; I never outgrew that! And I love to draw, too. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?

HARRIET: I don’t like sad or terrifying stories. I know they sell but personally I don’t care for them. To quote my sister when she was talking about movies once, “I don’t pay to be made sad or scared. I can feel those ways all on my own without paying anything.”

rem: Good point. Who is your favorite hero of fiction?

HARRIET: John Ridd of Lorna Doone. Actually, Lorna Doone is my all-time favorite fiction book too.

rem: Sad to say, if I ever read it, I don’t remember it… Which is more important: plot or characters?

HARRIET: Characters, for sure. If the characters are real to me, I enjoy the book, even if the plot is not particularly riveting.

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

HARRIET: I only started writing a few years ago. I suppose if I were not writing now, I’d do much the same as I used to do—busy myself with hobbies, part time work, and being a wife, mother, and grandmother. But I am so glad God gave me the gift of writing and opened the doors to it. I love it so much. I feel like a kid who loves to play with the gift her Father gave her. I think I finally know what I want to be when I grow up.

rem: I feel the same way! Only ‘cept I’m not growing up! Tell us a little about your writing journey.

HARRIET: Writing is a new work God is doing in my old age. It’s a huge blessing to me and I can only hope it will bless others along the way too. I thank Him daily for opening these doors, even though as is often the case, it was born out of a difficult and even dark time in my life. Through these difficult days, I longed to understand prayer better, searched the scriptures for anything about prayer, and journaled. At the end of four years, I had a manuscript written.

 

Then in 2009, I attended a writer’s conference, hoping to learn how to get my manuscript published. I came home thinking that goal was unachievable. I had learned three things: 1) I knew very little about the publishing world, even after the conference, 2) I have editing issues. 3) I didn’t have a platform.

 

Writing still intrigued me. Actually, it did more than that; it pulled like a magnet. I had words I wanted to share and had spent the previous four years honing my ability to put them down on paper. (Learning to write on a computer came later. My 60,000+ word manuscript and my first few articles and devotions were all hand-written and transcribed onto a computer.)

 

My wheels started turning. If I could start getting small pieces published, then I would be scratching that writing itch while building a platform too. A platform, for those of you who are not writers, was defined to me as the number of people who would read something simply because it was written by you. For me at the time that number was a big zero. Well, my mom and dad would probably read it, so maybe that number was more like two. J

 

So, I shared my thoughts with my daughter, shortly after returning from the writer’s conference. I sheepishly told her about the workshop on freelancing small pieces and confessed my desire to try it. But who did I think I was fooling? I was not a writer.

 

My daughter looked up from her orange juice and said, “You know mom, the average American reader only reads at a sixth grade level.”

 

I burst out laughing and replied, “I can write at that level!”

 

And I sat down immediately and began transcribing a devotion I had hand-written in my journal onto my computer to send to The Upper Room. That devotion, titled, “The Day of Small Things” based on Zechariah 4:10, became the first piece I ever submitted. It was not the first piece I ever had published, because it takes a long time from submission to publication with some devotional magazines. It was published a year and a half later in the February, 2011 issue of The Upper Room.

 

Today I have well over a hundred published credits—devotions, articles, non-fiction short stories, online newsletters and magazines, and others.

 

rem: What an amazing and wonderful journey. What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy

HARRIET: I write anywhere and everywhere. I have a writing desk in my bedroom that faces a window. This is my favorite place to write, but sometimes I take my computer downstairs to the kitchen and sit at the table, and other times, I write while I am at work, during the period that the teacher I am subbing for would be planning. I never substitute on Mondays and set that day aside for writing, though sometimes life interferes.

rem: What makes you struggle as a writer? How do you handle it?

HARRIET: So far, I have not suffered writer’s block. Instead I have too many things rolling around in my head that I want to get down in written form. So, more than anything, I struggle with not having enough time to get it all done. How do I handle this? I just plow ahead and keep writing every chance I find.

rem: Me too, never enough time, translated, too much to do. Do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?

HARRIET: Creating, definitely! I actually have editing issues (trouble with spelling and punctuation). I benefit greatly from an outside editor. I have found that my strength is content and publishers often like what I have to say and send me contracts but then their editors go back over the piece—thank goodness!

rem: Even editing inclined people benefit from having their work edited. What do you enjoy most about being a writer?

HARRIET: Writing feels like playing to me. I think it’s my first language. I write better than I speak. And fiction writing, especially, feels like I’m a little girl again, playing pretend.

rem: Again with the kindred spirit! How incredible to play and get to call it work! What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer?

HARRIET:

  • Be persistent
  • Try freelancing some small pieces, especially nonfiction. Having contracts on small pieces is so encouraging. It brings in a little income while it also builds a platform.
  • Network—join groups, attend conferences, get to know other writers.

rem: Numbers one and three, check; number two not so much… Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?

HARRIET: Real life. For the most part I am a nonfiction writer and even the few fiction pieces I have written have been fiction based on fact.

rem: Tell us a little about your devotional books.

HARRIET: Among other things, I am a devotional, scripture-based writer. I have had numerous devotions and expository type articles published in magazines—The Upper Room, The Secret Place (Judson Press), Open Windows (Lifeway), SEEK (Standard Publishing), to name a few.

Recently I co-wrote a seasonal devotional book with childhood friend and fellow missionary kid, Shirley Crowder. That book is titled, ‘Glimpses of the Savior”. It contains six weeks of devotions from mid-November- the end of December. Many of the devotions share insights from our childhoods in Africa.

I also have another book coming out very soon from Pix N Pens Publishing. I consider that book, titled “Prayer: It’s Not About You” as my opus. That book took me four years to write and longer than that to get published. It is an in depth look at prayer from a Biblical perspective.

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

HARRIET: God’s word is the only reliable source for answers to life’s questions. Both of these books, bring the readers back to scripture and helps the reader gain greater insights into what God’s word has to say on certain topics, such as prayer.

rem: If we can point others to Father and His Word, then we have been successful, whatever field we’re in! Thanks for joining us today, Harriet. It’s been a pleasure having on my blog!

 

 

 

http://www.whathehasdoneformysoul.blogspot.com/

 

 

#harrietmichael, #writingpromptscrew, #authorinterview, #glimpsesoftheSavior, #theupperroom

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