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Interview with Author Chad Pettit 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! I love how small this world is and how often I find myself connecting with the writers who are guests on my blog. As the daughter of an infantryman who grew up in Oregon, I’m thrilled to bring you Chad Pettit this week!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I’m a pretty regular guy with big dreams. I became a follower of Jesus Christ in 2007. Before that I was an infantry soldier with a couple of combat tours under my belt. I grew up in Oregon, but I live in Central Texas with my wife and kids. I teach English at an early college high school, and I have a goal of inspiring people to live their best lives through the message God has given me. I’m not big on hobbies, but I love a good book or a good movie. I’m definitely the kind of guy who can usually be found at home with family.

Tell us about your current release. Fate of the Watchman is a fantasy novella that tells the story of Lester Sharp, a man obsessed with his work and his own world. He doesn’t even know the rest of the world exists, but when time freezes, and he’s met by a very unlikely stranger, all of that changes. He soon finds himself witnessing tragedies he never could have imagined while trapped in a single moment of time.

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? Without question. I’ve had to tell myself this all the time. When I sit down to write, I pray first. I ask the Lord to help me write something that will help someone to be inspired, grow in their faith, or have their life changed through the story.

What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? A willingness for writers to tackle heavy issues and be bold. I think there’s a need for safe, predictable stories, but some truths are uncomfortable. How can a writer present a harsh reality to readers without representing that reality in a realistic way? I’m not talking about compromising or being profane. I am talking about being unafraid of breaking conventions and maybe even being controversial.

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 trust that this is what God gave me to write, and I believe that the talents and abilities I use to write come directly from Him. It would be wrong for me to hold these talents in, and it would be disobedient to keep these stories to myself. The fear will always be there. Doubt will always be present. But, so will the Spirit of God, and that is more powerful than all fear and doubt.

What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write? I honestly cannot remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. I’ve always loved reading, and every time I finish a book I look up the writer. This stuff comes to me; it’s always been a part of who I am. It’s difficult to describe how passionate about writing I actually am. Since I came to know the Lord and realized His desire for me to write, it has become a calling.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Don’t rush. Your stories are wrapped up in your experiences. The more life you live, the more believable your characters will be and the stronger your message will feel. The best thing you can do is to dedicate time to learning the craft of writing and honing your skills. Everyone wants to tackle a novel right out of the gate, but there’s a lot of value in writing short stories to develop as a writer.

I’m always intrigued by how writers get started…did you always have these books inside you and knew that you wanted to write them or did the idea just pop into your head one day and you decided to put pen to paper? I went through some real spiritual battles that shaped who I am. Most of them are difficult for me to talk about, but I learned how to overcome guilt, shame, heartbreak, and even betrayal through those experiences. That is the key to everything I write. The stories I create are just mediums of expression for those truths. From that root, an idea will sprout, and it grows and blossoms through a combination of brainstorming and prayer. The initial idea usually springs up when I’m doing nothing related to writing, like when I’m sitting in a church service.

Do you talk out plot lines with others, and if so, who? I really don’t. I talk to myself, and I like to think I’m a fairly reasonable guy. It goes around in my head for a long time, and then I start fleshing it out in a Word document or notes on my phone.

Where can readers find you? I send out a weekly devotion to email subscribers, along with excerpts from my books, a free book, and other exclusive content. People can subscribe through my website or by following this link: Subscribe.
www.chadpettit.net
www.facebook.com/ChadPettit.Writer
Twitter: @pettit_chad
Instagram: @chad_pettit

Find Chad’s latest release online:

Chad is giving away an ebook version of his latest release Fate of the Watchman. Here’s how you can enter to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Interview with Author Ane Mulligan 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’m so pleased to introduce you to Ane Mulligan. Ane and I have worked together with the American Christian Fiction Writers, and she is also part of the Writing from the Trenches book with me.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: While a large, floppy straw hat is her favorite, award-winning author Ane Mulligan has worn many different ones: hairdresser, legislative affairs director (that’s a fancy name for a lobbyist), drama director, playwright, and bestselling novelist. She firmly believes coffee and chocolate are two of the four major food groups. Ane resides in Sugar Hill, GA, with her artist husband and a lovable, goofy dog.

Tell us about your current release: A Southern Season – Four Stories From a Front Porch Swing is a collection of four novellas. Mine is A Magnolia Blooms in Winter.

With Broadway stardom within her reach, Morgan James returns home in winter to help an old friend. Maybe it’s just nostalgia, but when she sees him again, an old flame rekindles. When she’s called back to NYC to take the lead in a new musical, will fame be worth losing the man she loves?

Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? I have to know my characters thoroughly before I start to write. I’ve found if I know my characters as well as I know my best friends, then I can plot the novel by their motivation. Then, I can make a “map” of sorts for where the story will go. Once that’s done, I let the characters take it where they will. If I’ve done my pre-writing work well, they will highjack the story.

I’m always intrigued by how writers get started. Did you always have these books inside you and knew that you wanted to write them or did the idea just pop into your head one day and you decided to put pen to paper? My stories come from overheard conversations (yes, I eavesdrop) or from things that have happened in my life. In my first published novel, Chapel Springs Revival, it was an overheard conversation at church, in which a young woman told another that she wasn’t a Christian when she got married. When she learned God had a perfect mate chosen for her, she was going to divorce her husband and go find this “perfect guy.” From that, a wacky character called Claire worried about her marriage.

The second book in that series came from our son, who got himself a 21st Century mail order bride. He met online, conversed for a year, flew to Columbia and married her, then spent another two years getting her up here. He never told us until she was here. I told him for that (not telling us) it was going in a book. I do have to say our daughter-in-law is the best thing that ever happened to him, but of course, I had to add a lot of conflict for the book.

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)? That’s an easy one. I’ve had terrific critique partners since shortly after I started writing. We’ve been together for fourteen years. We push each other to reach beyond our comfort zones, and never allow each other to get away with mediocre. We all began to send out queries after a couple of years, and we usually were asked to send a proposal. Eventually, we all were signed with agents and soon enough afterwards, published.

What is one thing that you never saw yourself doing and either do it now or have done? Absolutely hands down, being a published author. I was always an avid reader. I didn’t buy shoes, I bought books. As a kid, my allowance was always spent on books, and I spent every Saturday in my home town library. After I got married, our one argument was how much I spent on books. And yet, it wasn’t until my husband voiced it, did I consider writing one myself.

Do you talk out plot lines with others, and if so, who? I absolutely do! My critique partners and I brainstorm together. Sometimes, a plot detail I might have imagined won’t work or isn’t plausible. If I get stuck, I immediately call Michelle or Lisa or Patty and talk it through. And when a character throws me a curve and it fits the story, I call for help again. Two or three heads are better than one. And a chord of three strands is strong.

At what age did you know you wanted to write? I’ve heard stories of people who were writing stories in childhood (which is what I’d expect). But I’ve heard of others who randomly started much later in life, and that is so interesting to me! As a child, I was ADHD long before they ever had a name for it. I played out the stories in my head with my dolls. They could go on for days and have many twists, but actual writing wasn’t in my sphere of interest, nor did I have the sit-ability. Besides, I planned on being an actress. I’m sure glad my plans and God’s merged. I couldn’t imagine a life more fun as mine is now. I write novels and I manage a Community Theatre. It doesn’t get any better than that.

How hard is it to come up with names for your characters? What are some of the sources you use? Names are important to me. They have to fit the era, the region, and the character. I have several sources. One is The Baby Name Survey Book, by Bruce Lansky & Barry Sinrod. It tells you what people think of when they hear names.

I also use Behind the Name: the Etymology of Names. They have two sites. One for surnames: http://surnames.behindthename.com/ and one for first names: http://www.behindthename.com/. You can search by nationality or alphabet.

I like the Social Security Administration’s Top Baby Names by Year. You can search as far back as the 1880s. It gives you the top 10 to 100 most popular names.
https://www.ssa.gov/OACT/babynames/decades/

Finally, I have used online Southern names sites, old church or club directories, newspapers, and I’ve gotten some great names from people I meet. I keep a file on my computer of names I’ve used and want to use. If you use an unusual name of someone you know, be sure you pair it with a different last name. However, I have one man who has shown up in most of my novels as a minor character. He was someone who encouraged me in my writing. He loved being a character, and I always portrayed him as sweet, funny and an encourager. Now that he’s in Heaven, his family still loves to see him in my books, and just writing his name gives me a boost.

You can find Ane on her  website, Amazon Author pageFacebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Google+..

Find Ane’s latest release online:

Ane is giving away a copy of her latest release A Southern Season – Stories from a Front Porch Swing! See how you can enter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Interview with Author Toni Shiloh 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 happy to bring you Toni Shiloh! Toni is giving away an ebook of her latest release, Finding Love — and you don’t want to miss this one. It sounds really good!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I don’t know why, but this question always makes me nervous. I guess that’s the introvert in me.  I’m a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. I’ve been a wife for twelve years this month. My husband and I have two boys, who keep me on my toes. I grew up in a household of girls, so the switch is like a cultural shock, lol. But I wouldn’t change a thing. I’ve been writing full time since 2014 and I adore it! I look forward to getting to know the readers.

Tell us about your current release. Finding Love is book two in the Maple Run series.

This story features Delaney Jones, sister to Dwight from book one, Buying Love. Delaney is a widow with twin boys (let’s here it for the boys!) who lives with her mother. Luke Robinson goes to Maple Run seeking absolution. He has a secret about how Delaney’s husband died while serving the country in the Army. I absolutely love these two and I hope you will too!

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? Definitely! That’s a question I had to answer early on in my writing career. It just so happens that I attended a conference where one of the instructors taught on this very subject. After searching and examining my heart I knew I would continue to write, even if I could only touch one reader’s life.

What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? Honestly, nothing. I know that may shock people since I’m a strong advocate for more diversity in Christian fiction, but everything that is lacking is changing. There are men who are writing my stories. Authors who are adding diversity. Writers who are tackling the tough subjects that mar our lives and remain in secret. Christian fiction isn’t a perfect genre, but neither are its readers and authors. I think we’re all working to better it.

With all those characters in your head screaming to get out how do you write fast enough to get it all down? Lol, I don’t. I have TONS of ideas mulling around in my head. Characters are all clamoring for my attention. Even though some of my friends call me prolific, I’m not God. So I write what I hear Him tell me to and look longingly at the ones waiting their turn.

Who was your first Screen/Musical Crush? Jordan Knight from New Kids on the Block, lol. I was young when they came out, but not too young to own a boom box and their tape. Since I grew up in the boy band craze I probably had a crush in almost every group.

Do you have pre-determined length in mind when you first begin a book? Oddly enough, yes. I’ve written novellas, novelettes, short novels, and full-length ones. Each time, I knew how long I wanted the book to be before I sat down and wrote it. It helped me know how detailed I wanted to be.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Step outside your comfort box! A lot of writers are introverted or just so full of fear they don’t know what to do first. Make a friend. The writing community is full of them. If you’re introverted, remember they may be too and make that move. If you want to write a book that’s different, remember you’re unique so your book will be too. Just don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever had a great writing idea? The shower? Lol, actually I think most people get their ideas there. The strangest place I had an idea was while walking through the Federal Triangle in Washington D.C. I’m still waiting for the opportunity to use that idea.

Find Toni online:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/authortonishiloh

Google+: https://plus.google.com/+ToniShiloh

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/tonishiloh

Instagram: www.instagram.com/tonishiloh

Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/tonishiloh

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/toni-shiloh

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

Blogs she’s a part of: http://puttingonthenew.com  ; http://heartwingsblog.com  ; http://diversitybetweenthepages.wordpress.com ; www.acfwvirginia.com/blog

Find Toni’s latest release online:

Toni is giving away an ebook of Finding Love! Here’s how you can enter to win:

 

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You would bless me if you added me to your Subscribe via any Reader feed reader or subscribed Subscribe via Email via email.
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Interview with Author Ruth Kyser 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 introduce you to Ruth Kyser. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all of Ruth’s responses to the interview questions, and hope that you enjoy getting to know her as much as I did! Plus, Ruth is giving away a paperback of her latest release, so read on to see how you can enter to win!

Tell us a little bit about yourself: I’m a native Michigander–wife, mother, and grandmother–who writes Christian Inspirational Romance. I’m a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, and I enjoy reading almost as much as I love writing!

When you grow up reading everything you can get your hands on, wanting to be a writer seems automatic. I didn’t actively embrace the notion, though, until I reached my forties. That was when I decided if I was going to write something worthwhile, I needed to get busy.

Over the years I’ve worked at a wide variety of jobs. I’ve been an accountant, secretary, co-owned a retail business with my husband for many years, worked as an office manager at a children’s summer camp, and was a professional insurance agent for twenty years. Currently, I’m working part-time as a church secretary. My current plant is to retire in mid-2017 to have more time to write.

Several years ago I wrote a mission statement that sums up my purpose for writing: “My goal is to write stories that entertain, but more importantly, educate readers about Jesus Christ and His love for them.”

Tell us about your current release: My most current release is a full-length novel entitled Without Regrets.  It’s a Christian Romance and tells the story of Rachel King. After her husband dies unexpectedly and leaves her with financial troubles, she loses their home and business–everything. She struggles for months to put her life back together and is just starting to feel as if she might survive when she receives a letter from an attorney—a letter that totally turns her life upside down. The book is set in Toledo, Ohio, and the Charlotte, North Carolina area–both places I’m very familiar with.

As for where the story line came from…Well, we’ve all have that ‘first love’ in our past–that one person we loved and lost. Even as we go on with our lives, we might wonder what life would have been like if we had married that person instead of our current spouse–or perhaps we never married at all.  Without Regrets takes you on a journey of faith, back into Rachel’s past, and through the heart-wrenching ordeal of one woman’s journey to forgiveness as she struggles with the “what ifs” of life. She knows she has God’s forgiveness, but can she forgive herself for past decisions that hurt others, and open her heart to love again?

2016 was a tough year for me. In a matter of six weeks, I had four dear friends (all my age or younger) pass away–which made me think about how precious life is, and how special our memories are. They were the only people that shared some of my memories, and they were gone.

That was when the idea for this story came to me. I was pretty sure others had gone through this same type of experience and loss as well or something similar and would be able to relate to a story along this line, so that is why I wrote it.

After all, who doesn’t remember their first love?

What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? As I read other author’s books, my personal feeling is that there is not enough true spiritual growth of the main characters in many of the stories out there. Some of the writing leaves me not caring much about the person at all–I don’t feel I’ve really gotten to know the real person.  My prayer is that I’m able to get the readers into the hearts and minds of my characters in such a way that the readers feel as if they have a new friend when they finish the books.

I also don’t feel there is enough scripture shared within many of the books written today. Stories don’t have to be preachy to get the message out, but briefly mentioning in a story that the main character goes to church isn’t enough. I’ve been told my writing has the Christian beliefs so much a part of who the characters are, that it doesn’t come across as preachy at all. I take that as a real compliment.

Whats the first major news headline that you can remember and what do you remember?  Okay. This is going to age me, but the most major news headline I can remember clearly from my childhood is the day President Kennedy was assassinated. I was in school that day, and we had just come back from a short recess/break. One of my friends was crying and said what I thought was “Kenny’s been shot.” We had a young man in our classroom named Kenny, and I was struggling with understanding how he could have been shot when our teacher came into the room in tears and announced the President had been shot and killed. It was difficult to believe it was true.

However, when I arrived at home from school I remember finding my mother and sister sitting in front of our small black and white television set, watching news coverage of it all. This was rare as we never had the TV on during the day, but we spent the rest of the day and evening, and the ensuing days sitting in front of that TV as what is now history unfolded in front of us. It was a time of great grief and shock in our country, and the only thing I can compare it to for the younger generations is to compare it to how we all felt on 9/11 when the twin towers were hit and the Pentagon attacked. It’s something you never forget.

How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher? For MANY years I submitted my works to traditional publishers, and I have the stacks of rejection letters to prove it. The last time I sent one of my manuscripts to a publisher, the managing editor had it in his possession for almost a year before I finally emailed him to find out if he was interested or not. He sent me back a very polite and helpful email, filled with nice things about my manuscript, but then added those dreaded words: “I’m sorry to say it doesn’t fit with what we’re looking for at this time.”

I have to tell you, I was very discouraged. But shortly after that, I received a Kindle from my husband. I went to Amazon to check out what books I could download and found tons of ebooks–some of them free. I downloaded several from well-known Christian authors, and a few from authors I had never heard of. I quickly discovered they were ‘independently published’ or self-published. Some of the books were very well written; others not so much. That is when I decided I had nothing to lose by jumping on the independent publishing train. I uploaded two of my completed manuscripts to Amazon and priced them at 99 cents each. After all, no one knew who I was.

Surprisingly, they began selling, and it wasn’t long and I was getting emails from readers wondering what I was writing next. So I started writing, and I’ve never stopped! Currently, I have eleven full-length novels published, and one novella (a brand new Christmas story–published the end of 2016.) They have all been published in paperback too, other than the novella. I hope to sometime add several other novellas to it and publish it as a book of shorts novels.

Even though it’s a ton of work, I’ve never been sorry I decided not to go the traditional route. Some people might need the validation of a publisher’s contract to know they are an author. I consider the reviews and emails I receive from my readers to be all the validation I need. And I love the freedom and independence self-publishing has given me. I decide what the title of the book is going to be; I decide what the cover will look like; I decide if a scene gets cut or not. True, I also do all the marketing, selling, and work involved, but that’s okay. I guess I’m a little bit of a maverick!

Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? Unlike a lot of authors, I never outline. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t have the whole story line in my head (at least the bones of the story–beginning, middle, and end) before I ever type a word. I’ve learned, however, that I have to really start writing the story before I know exactly what is going to happen and how it’s all going to play out. And there are always those secondary characters that appear I never even know about when I started. Makes it exciting!

I’m currently working on a couple of different story ideas. It usually takes about six months to complete a project, so the one I’m writing now should be available for release sometime in the summer of 2017. Then I hope to have another one ready to release around Christmas. At least, that’s the plan right now.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Read, read, and read some more.  Read the classics, read the genre of books you want to write. Study how they are written, research and learn the proper way to build a story and keep the reader interested. You can never read too much.Then get busy and write, and write some more. Once you get a completed draft, then the real work begins. Because your first draft is always terrible. So you’ll need to learn how to edit and re-write, and re-write again, and then proofread.

And then have someone else read it to catch all the mistakes you missed the twelve times you went through it!

If you don’t have the skills, then spend the money to have it professionally edited. Nothing is worse than reading a book that is poorly written. Don’t rush to put your work out there until it’s ready.

And if you really want to be a writer, don’t quit!

What is your preferred method of writing? (computer, pen & paper, etc.): When I started out (more years ago than I want to discuss…) I wrote everything in longhand on paper first, then painstakingly typed it onto paper with a typewriter. (Yes. I’m THAT old!) Now, I find it much faster and easier to type it into my computer. I type much faster than I write by hand, and the faster I can get my thoughts down, the better.

I do write my personal Bible studies and journaling all by hand, though. There is something special about holding a pen in your hand and putting your thoughts down on paper in your own handwriting.

Do you write your books for your own enjoyment or more for what you think people would want to read? I write books in the genre I like to read, and I write books that I hope and pray other people will also enjoy and want to read. I read a lot (last year (2016) I read 130 books, and I know what I like and what I don’t like. There is no way I can write a book that I wouldn’t enjoy reading. I’m just thankful that others seem to enjoy reading my stories too.

There’s nothing more exciting for a writer to read a favorable review or receive an email or note from a reader who was touched by something you wrote. THAT is what keeps me writing.

What is one thing that you “never saw yourself doing” and either do it now or have done?: Oh, this is an easy one. I have said for YEARS that I am NOT A PUBLIC SPEAKER!! I was the shy girl in school who almost became physically ill at the thought of standing up in front of the classroom to read a report.

I haven’t really figured out why, but for some reason as soon as you become an author, people automatically assume you would be ‘more than happy to come speak to our group’ about your books.  The first time I received a request for a speaking engagement, I wanted to run away and hide. No way could I do that, I told myself. But I went ahead and scheduled the date, and started working on what I was going to say.

I practiced that little fifteen minute speech for months–fine-tuning it, and re-writing it, and memorizing it, until I prayed I was ready. The day of the event came, and I discovered something. Talking about my books–the characters that I create, and the stories I write–wasn’t nearly as scary as I had thought it would be. And I also discovered that my most favorite part of the whole thing was the question/answer part at the end of my talk. I loved answering people’s questions about how I started writing, what I thought about the future of the publishing industry, and where my story ideas came from.

Just goes to show–you can teach an old dog new tricks.  And sometimes we need to get out of our comfort zone to find out what we’re really capable of.

God has truly blessed me with many new friends through my speaking engagements–in addition to being able to talk about my books.

Find Ruth online:

Blog, Facebook page, Website, Twitter, Pinterest

Find Ruth’s latest release!

Ruth is giving away an autographed paperback of Without Regrets! Enter here!

 

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I’m so grateful for your visit, today.
You would bless me if you added me to your Subscribe via any Reader feed reader or subscribed Subscribe via Email via email.
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