Skip to content

Category: Blog

Welcome to my blog! Please feel free to leave a comment – I love to hear from my readers! Also, check out this week’s interview with a Christian author. There are always giveaways with these interviews!

Interview with Susan Miura and a Giveaway!

Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I am so pleased to have young adult author Susan Miura as my guest. She is a fellow traveler and has the same passion for teaching writers that I have. I so much enjoyed her interview and hope that you do, too! Read on to see how you can enter to win TWO of her latest releases!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I’ve been blessed or cursed (not sure which) with wanderlust, so travel is a passion that has opened my eyes to God’s amazing creation and the incredible sameness and fascinating differences of people worldwide. It has been a catalyst for unforgettable family vacations that inspire conversations that make us laugh, contemplate, and feel grateful. It has also provided some nice artwork for our walls, since photography is also a passion! Top spot on the travel bucket list is currently Fairbanks, Alaska, to see the northern lights.

A few basics about me: I work in public relations for a Chicago suburban library and began my career as a newspaper and television reporter in the Chicago area and Albuquerque, eventually making my way back to Illinois. To date I have three published young adult novels, with a fourth releasing this October and my first women’s fiction title coming in 2021. I also have a Christian children’s book, Pawprints in the Snow, that features my wildlife photos and animal poems.

I’m married to a retired police sergeant, who’s very helpful with my crime scenes, and have a grown son, daughter, stepdaughter, and Cleo cat. Love them all to pieces!

I’m a longtime member of Willow Creek Church, president of the American Christian Fiction Writers’ Chicago Chapter, and a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Tell us about your current release. Beautiful Sicily is the setting for the first half of Shards of Light, the sequel to Healer. It is told from the perspectives of two main characters, Shilo Giannelli and her best friend, Melody O’Hara, who was adopted as a newborn and is striving toward a career as a professional ballerina. The story begins in a centuries-old convent on a secluded Sicily mountaintop, where Shilo is spending the summer with her great-grandmother; the only one who can answer questions about the power to heal – a God-given gift Shilo received just before her 17th birthday. While in Sicily, Shilo will discover the horrors of human trafficking and fight to shield the rescued girls living on the convent’s grounds. She will also learn the mysteries of her gift and encounter a force of evil that will take her to the brink of death. An ocean away, Melody will suffer a catastrophic injury that will lead her into darkness as she unveils an unimaginable truth about her Nigerian heritage. Though both girls’ stories involve some heavy issues, there are also touches of humor and romance throughout the book.

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? Absolutely! That’s an easy one! If I could look back on my life and know one person accepted Jesus or even took one step forward on their spiritual journey because of something I wrote, that would be huge. That would be worth all the time and effort, for sure.

Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? Yes, and in a way, I did. Not because of my publisher, though. It was my idea, because the Christian fiction market for teens is pretty small, and I wanted to reach more young adults with stories that tackled tough issues without graphic sex, violence, or swearing. So my upcoming release, Signs in the Dark, is more of a secular book, but still clean and containing Christian values. It’s about a deaf girl who gets kidnapped.

How do you push past the fear of your writing being average and be bold enough to sell it to a publisher(or agent or audience if you self publish)? I work hard to push past average with some hard-hitting (and sometimes dark) issues combined with enough action to keep readers turning pages. Shards of Light, for example, tackles human trafficking, adoption, depression, and a really evil guy. But there’s also a cool dog, a couple of very hot guys, and some feisty nuns to lighten the drama now and then. I actually enjoy talking to editors and make sure my pitches include all of the above, which usually results in a proposal request.

What is your personal, most effective way to get past writerís block? Take a walk. It has worked for me nearly every time. My house is on a small lake, which is really a blessing because I have such a beautiful place to walk, think, and pray. Plus, my office window looks out on the lake. It clears my head and soon the block just melts away and I can come back in and start writing.

What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write? I was the nerdy kid in school who loved English class and got excited about writing assignments. I won first prize in my grade school’s Arbor Day poetry contest and it was like a gateway drug! (But, you know, not as bad.) After that I was constantly writing poems and stories, then became a reporter for my high school and college newspapers. In my early 30s, I started getting the bug to write fiction. It took 20 years from the initial thought to getting a publishing contract.

How did you make the initial step into writing your first novel? What were some of your major roadblocks and how did you overcome them? I wrote a paragraph. Seriously, I didn’t even know if I’d get beyond that because I had a full-time job and two young children. It was an absolutely insane time to start a novel, but it was there in my head, day after day, and I thought writing the initial scene would clear it out. So, I wrote that paragraph and soon I was writing (in notebooks and on scraps of paper) during lunch hours at work, in my car during soccer practices, on the gym floor during basketball practices – wherever and whenever I could squeeze it in. That book became Healer…and took 10 years of revisions and polishing before a publisher said “yes!” Joining the American Christian Fiction Writers during that time was a real blessing. I learned so much from the workshops and discussions with fellow authors.

What is one thing that you never saw yourself doing and either do it now or have done? If I can change the question slightly…

When I attended my first writer’s conference and sat in my first writing workshop, I watched the presenter and absolutely knew I wanted to do that. I imagined myself up there, providing insight, helpful knowledge, and encouragement to other writers. At that point, I wasn’t even close to getting published and had so much to learn. But…I got there! Now I teach writing workshops and am excited to be one of the workshop leaders for the next Write to Publish Conference. It was supposed to happen last June, but a little pandemic got in the way.

Here is where you can find Susan online:

twitter.com/miura100/

https://www.facebook.com/susan.miura.1/

http://susanmiura.com/

www.instagram.com/susanmiura1/

Susan is giving away a boxed ebook set of Shards of Light and Healer to a reader AND a paper back of Healer to another reader! See below how you can enter to win:a Rafflecopter giveaway

halleeLOGOspinefinal

Pin It
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
15 Comments

Monday Morning Coffee and Chat 8/10/20 – The Whys and Whatfors of Homeschooling

Hello! Welcome to Monday Morning Coffee and Chat! Today I’m talking about our decision to homeschool our 7th and 8th graders, and how we came to that decision.

Preorder Alexandra’s Appeal for the September 29, 2020 release here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B08CBBP334?tag=hallethehomem-20

What’s Hallee drinking? Hallee’s Brew! Try it today! http://www.halleebridgeman.com/hallees-brew/

Pin It
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Leave a Comment

Interview with Becky Van Vleet and a Giveaway!

Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I am so happy to have Becky Van Vleet as my guest. Her award-winning children’s book sounds like such an adventure and how fun that they are all inspired by family stories! Read on to see how you can win a copy!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I have been married to my college sweetheart for 45 years. I live in Colorado Springs and I’m enjoying retirement from my teacher/principal positions. After raising four daughters (yes, my husband survived hormone hill), we are now enjoying life as empty nesters.  And certainly, the scampering around of eight grandchildren are an added blessing.  When I’m not busy with the Grands, I enjoy writing, gardening, oil painting, and hiking and biking around in God’s great playground He designed in Colorado.

Tell us about your current release. Talitha, the Traveling Skirt was published in August 2019 by Elk Lake Publishing Inc. Geared for ages three to eight, this fun tale takes young readers through three generations of little girls who wear a plaid skirt and get their pictures taken on their second birthdays. But Talitha encounters problems when she least expects them. And Tippy, the dog, even creates some of the problems. Filled with colorful and detailed illustrations, I believe young children will delight in this heartwarming story about a little skirt’s adventures. This children’s book has won two awards: The Purple Dragonfly Award, 2nd place, and EIE Award, 1st place. And I’m excited that Harvey, the Traveling Harmonica will be coming out soon as a companion book. I have plans to write two more “traveling” books, all inspired by true family stories, ultimately making these books a series.

How do you push past the fear of your writing being average and be bold enough to sell it to a publisher (or agent or audience if you self- publish)?  Admittedly, I struggle with this from time to time, so I have to work at pushing back the fear. When I write, I try to shoo peer pressure out the door. I read spectacular blogs and riveting books galore, but I won’t compare myself to other fabulous writers who have numerous published works. Un-huh, won’t go there!

What’s the first major news headline that you can remember and what do you remember?  I will never forget the headline of President John F Kennedy’s assassination. I was in the fourth grade in 1963, so I never would have thought to have saved the paper. But I sure wish I had a copy today. I remember feeling that our world was so horribly shaken as I heard my parents talk about this and our small black and white television was filled with this shocking news.

How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher?  I would have to say for me, it was the luck of the draw. I really did not know anything about the self-publishing and traditional paths and the differences. So, as I set out to publish my first children’s book, I got in touch with a free-lance editor for help. When all was said and done with editing and the proposal, she recommended Elk Lake Publishing, a small Christian press, to me. And it’s history from there. They are publishing my second book coming out soon.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?  I believe the most important advice I can offer, whether you are a teen or a retired senior, is to just start writing! I know this sounds like an overused cliché, but it’s so important. Write down your thoughts and ideas, start some files, take note of events in your life, and just write. You’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish. Don’t focus on publication—that can come later.

Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? (Book series, maybe?)  My two favorite authors as a young child were Beverly Cleary and Carolyn Haywood. Cleary wrote the Henry Huggins and Ramon Quimby series and Haywood wrote the Betsy and Eddie books. I loved my third-grade teacher when she read these books aloud for our class every day after lunch! These series are classics now.

What is one thing that you “never saw yourself doing” and either do it now or have done?  That’s an easy one. I thought I would never write a children’s book and have it published! But now my second one will be released soon and I’ve started my third. I’m also currently working on a YA book about my father’s service and adventures aboard the USS Denver in WW2. I’m enjoying this new path of writing immensely in my sixties!

Here is where you can find Becky online:

https://www.beckyvanvleet.com

https://www.instagram.com/becky_van_vleet/

https://www.facebook.com/authorbeckyvanvleet

https://www.pinterest.com/beckyvanvleet/boards/

http://www.beckyvanvleet.com/blogs/

Becky is giving away one signed copy of children’s picture book, Talitha, the Traveling Skirt, along with coloring pictures, geared for ages 3-8 to a reader! See below how to enter to win:a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

halleeLOGOspinefinal

Pin It
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
18 Comments

“I’m Tired of You” – Parenting in the Time of Corona

I read a blog post yesterday from a blogger that I have followed since Hallee the Homemaker was brand-new. So, about twelve years. This article completely gave me pause and I have been mulling over what a read for the last twenty-four hours and really feel like I need to address it. The gist of it was, in the face of Corona parenting, she was sitting at dinner with her family and looked at everyone and said, “I’m tired of you.” And then she followed that up with the fact that that phrase, “I’m tired of you,” is not in any parenting book, but it should be.

Y’all, no.

It’s possible that I’m coming at this with the perspective of someone who already has a grown child. My oldest is twenty-three, and she is grown and gone. And I miss her. On a good month, I see her twice. On a normal month, I see her once. And I love spending time with her, I love talking to her, I love interacting with her via text messages and Instagram and the ways that we interact as mother and daughter. But the fact is, there is a hole in our family because she’s not here anymore. Gregg and I had a job to do with her. We were to raise a wise, independent, functional adult who loves Jesus and obeys God. And we did that. We did it really well. But it doesn’t change the fact that that seat next to me at dinner time is empty.

I understand that perspective is unique to some people in regards to this concept.

Nevertheless.

I have a family because I want those people in my life. I married Gregg because I love him and respect him and want to live and do life with him. We made a family together and we love and cherish our children. We discipline them, mold them, love them, pray for them, pray with them, teach them — and that’s our job. There’s nothing about that job that’s easy. But, there’s nothing more rewarding than the end of the day as I think back to the day about what we learned and what we talked about and what I was able to teach our children. There is truly nothing more rewarding.

Like everyone else, our family has been home since mid-March. Unlike a lot of families, my husband’s job is something that can be done remotely. Because he is high risk, he has been home since February. We still don’t go to church . We don’t go to Bible study. We still don’t have play dates. Because Gregg is high risk. It is our family…all the time.

We are together two meals a day, sitting across from the table with each other. We come together we go apart. We come together we go apart. The boys have bedrooms that they go to and we have a large living room that they come back into. Gregg and I have offices that we go to and we have a large living room that we come back into. We watch movies, we play games, we talk to each other, we laugh with each other, and we are together most of the time.

And I don’t feel like I am tired of my family. I don’t feel like I need to break away from them. If I need a moment, I can go outside or go take a bath or something. And no one will bother me.

My point is, those words are not helping any parent. The perpetuation that that is a normal thought is not a healthy thing to put out to the world.

The concept that it’s not in any parenting handbook but it should be.

No!

No, it shouldn’t be. If that’s how you’re feeling, then there is something deficient in your mind, your heart, or in your parenting. And that is something that should be a very sincere and serious focus of reflection and prayer. Why am I feeling this way? What is deficient? How can I fix it? Here is a great resource where you can start exploring: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/

It’s not something for which we should strive, this normality of feeling like I’m tired of my family.

Also, to say that to your children in this terrifying, unprecedented time, when NOTHING in their lives are normal and they don’t even know how to process the news they hear or the conversations adults have in their presence… ya’ll, just NO.

Again, like I said, maybe I’m coming from a perspective of someone who already has a child out of the house and so I know what it feels like once they’re gone. Or maybe I am the one unique.

How do you feel about it?

Pin It
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
5 Comments

Interview with DiAnn Mills and a Giveaway!

Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I am thrilled to have my friend, DiAnn Mills, as my guest. DiAnn and I met years ago as we served together on the Faith-Hope-Love chapter of the Romance Writers of America, and I completely fell in love with her passion for writing stories that take her readers on an adventure! Our paths have crossed many times, and we always make sure to take time for a coffee or a meal, so that we can fellowship together and support each other. I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did — and read on to see how you can enter to win a copy of her book Where Tomorrow Leads!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. First of all, I believe my readers should Expect an Adventure. If I fail to send them on an unpredictable journey with twists and turns, then I haven’t done my job. I live in Houston, Texas, and I love heat and humidity. My writing began in 1996 when my husband challenged me to stop talking about writing a book and just do it. He encouraged me to quit my job and give myself a year to get anything published. And if it did, succeed, I wouldn’t need to return to my day job. I took him up on that challenge. My first book released in 1998, and I’ve been writing since then. But a huge changed happened in 2017 … now, my husband works for me. Originally, I wrote historical and contemporary romance. My reading habits were romantic suspense, and that became my writing genre. I believe in giving back to the writing community in the way of encouragement, prayer, teaching, mentoring, and editing. I also direct the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference with Edie Melson. We also are the directors for the Mountainside retreats.

Tell us about your current release. Heather Lawrence’s long-awaited vacation to Salzburg wasn’t supposed to go like this. Mere hours into the transatlantic flight, the Houston FBI agent is awakened when passengers begin exhibiting horrific symptoms of an unknown infection. As the virus quickly spreads and dozens of passengers fall ill, Heather fears she’s witnessing an epidemic similar to ones her estranged husband studies for a living but this airborne contagion may have been deliberately released.

While Heather remains quarantined with other survivors, she works with her FBI colleagues to identify the person behind this attack. The prime suspect? Dr. Chad Lawrence, an expert in his field . . . and Heather’s husband. The Lawrences’ marriage has been on the rocks since Chad announced his career took precedence over his wife and future family and moved out.

As more victims fall prey days after the initial outbreak, time’s running out to hunt down the killer, one who may be closer to the victims than anyone ever expected.

I had this idea 3 years before the coronavirus attacked our world. But it required so much research until facts and the right people entered my path.
My mission then and now is to show a story that weaves hope, reality, and the sacrificial work of first responders when a deadly virus spreads through innocent people.

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? Yes! I never know who or how many people will read my story. I believe God gives me the idea, so the reader may only be me.

Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? Not at all. I’m a storyteller, and my faith is shown in how a Christian character reacts and responds to the world. I don’t write sex, cursing, or violence for violence sake, because I write what I read: strong stories that are unpredictable and show character growth and change while reaching for a goal.

Fiction is not a platform to evangelize those who aren’t followers of Jesus. The faith aspect is not an engine additive. Unrealistic and predictable characters, preachy content, and verbiage only a Christian understands can be condescending to any reader. The practice lowers the importance of a writer’s first priority: entertaining the reader. The Christian novel is different because of the writer’s belief system. Good overcomes evil. Writers can give examples without trampling on the feet of unbelievers.

How do you push past the fear of your writing being average and be bold enough to sell it to a publisher(or agent or audience if you self publish)? Lots and lots of prayer! But I believe the fear is healthy. It keeps me relying on God instead of myself. The same fear that existed during writing book one stills stalks me.

What is your inspiration for writing? First: to entertain readers. Second: to inspire readers to be better people. Third: to encourage readers wherever they are in life. We live in a dangerous and unpredictable world. I want to show how God works through a character or characters to overcome evil for good.

What do you do when you hit a roadblock and have NO idea what to write? I go back to the beginning of the book and start reading. I also review my characterization sketch, research, and notes. At times, I consult a trusted writer friend. By the time I get to my troubled spot, I’m ready to write again.

I assume when you start a book, you pretty much have the plot laid out. Do you ever change your mind later on in the book, and go in a different direction? No! I don’t have the plot laid out. I’m an organic writer, which means everything rises from character. I will have an idea of what will happen, but it’s all discovery from what works best with the character(s).

Here is where you can find DiAnn online:

Website https://diannmills.com/

Blog https://diannmills.com/articles/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/diannmills

Twitter https://twitter.com/diannmills

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/diannmillsauthor/

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

BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/authors/diann-mills

YouTube https://www.youtube.com/user/diannmills

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/81639.DiAnn_Mills

Linkedin https://www.linkedin.com/in/diannmills/

DiAnn is giving away a copy of her book Where Tomorrow Leads to a reader! See below how to enter to win:a Rafflecopter giveaway

halleeLOGOspinefinal

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
26 Comments

Interview with Terri Wangard and a Giveaway!

Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! This week, I am so happy to have award-winning historical romance author Terri Wangard as my guest! Terri’s new release sounds SO GOOD! I am also fascinated by the story of Lusitania — and to have a history major with a master’s in library science write a book about it makes me think that it will reveal so much information I didn’t know before! Read on to see how you can enter to win a copy!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin, during the Lombardi Glory Years. My first Girl Scout badge was the Writer. These days I write mostly historical fiction, and won the 2013 Writers on the Storm contest and 2013 First Impressions, as well as being a 2012 Genesis finalist. I have a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s degree in library science. Classic Boating Magazine, a family business since 1984, is my day job.

Tell us about your current release. The Lusitania has always fascinated me, more so than the Titanic. Since I started writing, I’ve wanted to write a Lusitania story. Here is the blurb for Roll Back the Clouds:

A dream come true becomes a nightmare. Geoff and Rosaleen Bonnard embark on a once-in-a-lifetime voyage to England aboard the fabled Lusitania in 1915. Europe is embroiled in war, but the authorities insist the conflict shouldn’t affect a passenger liner.

Then, a German submarine hurtles a torpedo into the grand ship. Rosaleen makes it into a lifeboat, but Geoff is missing. She searches the morgues in Queenstown, heartsick at recognizing so many of her fellow travelers. Alive, but suffering a devastating back injury, Geoff is found in a Cork hospital.

While waiting for him to recover, Rosaleen is thrilled to meet her mother’s family, but a dark cloud hovers over her. The battered faces of dead babies haunt her. She sinks into depression, exasperated by Geoff’s new interest in religion. Her once happy life seems out of reach.

Will joy ever be theirs again?

What’s the first major news headline that you can remember and what do you remember? I think it was Robert Kennedy’s assassination. We were at a motel, and my parents were talking about it. In my vague memory, I can see them looking at a newspaper.

Who was your first Screen/Musical Crush? Donny Osmond

What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write? I wrote stories as a Girl Scout, since I received the Writer badge. I didn’t expect to write books though, until I read some stories that seemed to be written by formula. The names and settings were changed, but otherwise they were all the same. That prompted me to try writing my own book.

What is your preferred method of writing? I write on computer, but if I have an hour in the evening and an idea is percolating, I’ll write in a notebook.

How did you make the initial step into writing your first novel. What were some of your major roadblocks and how did you overcome them? I first wrote a book in the early 2000s. I sent it to a publisher. It took them a year to say No Thanks. I set aside my writing for a few years. Then, in 2008, I read Debbie Macomber’s Twenty Wishes, about women fulfilling their wishes. That made me decide to write again. I bought the laptop I still use today and wrote Friend & Enemies, the first of five novels, so far.

Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? I loved the Flicka, Ricka, Dicka series by Maj Lindman.

Do you write your books for your own enjoyment or more for what you think people would want to read? I write what I would like to read, and hope others do too.

Here is where you can find Terri online:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/AuthorTerriWangard

Twitter: @terriwangard

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/terriwangard

Instagram:  @terriwangard

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/terriwangard/

Website: http://www.terriwangard.com

Terri is giving away an ebook copy of Roll Back the Clouds to a reader! See below how to enter to win:a Rafflecopter giveaway

halleeLOGOspinefinal

Pin It
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
5 Comments
WordPress SEO fine-tune by Meta SEO Pack from Poradnik Webmastera