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Month: August 2017

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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Monday Morning Chat: Writing Realistic Characters

Hello! Welcome to our first ever Monday morning chat!

This week, and the following next two weeks, I’ll be giving away a full set of the Jewel Series books to someone who has asked me a question about any one of my books (and about me!) So, ask away! The link is in the sidebar. The more  questions you ask, the more chances you’ll have to win!

Here is this week’s chat!

Today I’m answering the question:

What do you find most difficult about writing realistic characters?

Love the question! I hope you learn more about me as a writer through my response:

 

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Interview with Amish Romance Author Jan Drexler 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 bringing you Jan Drexler. I loved Jan’s answers about her words glorifying God. AND – her story about writing her first book is so similar to mine! How exciting to have a testimony about how God brings the tools into our lives before we even know what he’s gifted us with! Please enjoy Jan’s interview and make sure you check out how you can enter to win a copy of her latest release, Naomi’s Hope!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I live in the Black Hills of South Dakota with my husband of thirty-five years, where I enjoy hiking in the Hills and spending time with our expanding family. I also love spending time with my rascally Corgi, any kind of needlework, and reading (of course!)

Tell us about your current release. Despite growing pains in her 1846 Amish community in Indiana, Naomi Schrock has settled into a comfortable life in her parents’ home with her adopted son, Davey. Surrounded by family and friends, she tries not to think about the fact that she’s not at the top of any man’s list of potential wives. Yet when Cap Stoltzfus moves into the area and befriends Davey, Naomi finds herself caught between the plans she has made for her future and the tantalizing thought that Cap might be part of a life she never dared to hope for.

When a couple shows up claiming to be Davey’s true family, Naomi and Cap must unite to make the decision that will determine the boy’s future as well as their own. How can she relinquish him to these unknown relatives? And can God somehow bring wholeness to her heart?

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it?  Yes, I would. As I see it, my job is to write the stories God lays on my heart. What happens to them after that is up to Him. If He chooses to soften even one person’s heart using a story I’ve written, I am honored and humbled.

Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful?  Not at all. I believe success isn’t measured by how many books I sell, but if my words glorify my Lord.

With all those characters in your head screaming to get out how do you write fast enough to get it all down?  I doubt if I ever will! (I have the same problem with the list of needlework projects I want to do!) When I was younger, I thought I’d have time to do everything – don’t we all? But as I approach a big milestone of a birthday (60 – can you believe it?), I know I have to be selective. Choose quality over quantity. So some characters, as much as I might like them, will never make their way out of my head. But the ones that won’t let me go? They’ll have their story.

How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher?  After college, and for a few years off and on in our marriage, I worked in book stores and libraries. I learned to know the publishing world a little bit, and had a fair understanding of how it worked. When I started writing, I wanted to be part of it – to see if I had what it took to find my way in such a competitive business. So traditional publishing has always been my goal.

What made you take the plunge and finally do it?  I had majored in English in college, with a creative writing emphasis, but never had the courage to submit anything, or the time to actually write anything. While our children were growing, I was up to my neck in homeschooling. Every time I thought, “Maybe now…”, God said, “Not yet.”

When our youngest children were in high-school, my husband gave me a computer for Christmas. It was a complete surprise. Until I opened that box, I had no idea my desire to write was so strong. When I started on another project a couple months later, God said, “Now.” A few years later, my first book was published by Love Inspired Historical.

Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write?  Before I begin writing, and after I’ve done the pre-writing work of developing my characters and reveling in the research, I lay out a skeleton plot of my story. I determine what is going to happen at the beginning and at the end, along with a number of plot points along the way. But as I start working, the characters quite often surprise me with plot twists and connections I never saw during my pre-writing work.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? I tell all aspiring writers the same thing – If you want to write well, you need to read well. Read widely and deeply. Read within your genre and outside of your genre. Read well-written books, classics, fiction and non-fiction. Learn from what you read – What makes you want to throw a book across the room? What makes you want to stay up all night reading? How does one author write dialogue that makes you feel like you’re eavesdropping? How does another author describe the setting so well that you feel the sting when the book’s hero gets a mosquito bite?

I can’t emphasize the importance of reading too much. If you don’t have time to read, you won’t have time to write. Reading feeds your writing.

Find Jan online:

Website: www.JanDrexler.com
Facebook:  www.facebook.com/JanDrexlerAuthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JanDrexler
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/jandrexler

Find Jan’s latest release online:


On Amazon:

>

At Barnes and Noble:
Naomi's Hope

At ChristianBook.comNaomi’s Hope, Journey to Pleasant Prairie Series #3
By Jan Drexler / Revell

Win a copy of Naomi’s Hope! See how to enter here:

 

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Autism, Third Wheels, and a Hammerhead Tadpole Trike

Our son, Scott, has been struggling to ride a bicycle for the last four years. Even at age eleven, he has training wheels. There’s still a wobble with training wheels and no real sense of security. If I tried walking alongside him and holding onto his bike to keep it steady, he would quickly let go of the handlebars and cling to me as if his life depended on it. With each wobble, absolute panic would generate terror that would freeze him from all movement. For four years, he was incapable of riding his bicycle.

We didn’t really know why.

Scott has a desire to be like other kids. He had a strong desire to ride a bike. His little brother has been pedaling without training wheels since about age seven. His friends in the neighborhood ride bikes all over. The best Scott could do was lie down on a skateboard and wheel himself along with his friends. Of course, this made him a bit of a third wheel.

We thought he might “grow out of it,” or that maybe just a bit more practice and exposure to the bike would lend him more confidence. For a long time, we thought it was weak muscles. If he only worked on his core, he’d have the strength to master the bicycle. Over and over again, every spring and summer, we kept trying to encourage him as he faced his fears and attempted to ride this bike.

It finally occurred to us that this was more autism related than a lack of strength or skill.

One of the senses that affects kids with autism is the vestibular sense. Our vestibular sensory system helps our bodies maintain balance and an understanding of spacial orientation in the world. Your vestibular sense keeps you upright, allows you to bounce and catch a ball, and helps you balance while you ride a two-wheel bike.

As we researched autism and all of the senses the condition affects, we discovered that to Scott — to his brain’s situational awareness in the world where all of his senses come in unfiltered and out of sync — his perception is that his life did depend on him clinging to me. Much like vertigo can attack someone with a fear of heights, as soon as those wheels wobbled even fractionally on his bike, his brain immediately told him that his life was in peril. No amount of encouragement could redirect him long enough to focus on his other senses and control the bike.

To our little third wheel, he felt like he was drowning while fleeing from a shark.

Hammerhead Shark
Hammerhead Shark

We struggled with what to do. Continue to encourage the bike? Insist that he keep trying? We found ourselves kind of on the fence about the best way to go forward. Next summer, he’ll turn 12 and will be experiencing that somewhat halcyon time between elementary school and middle school — yet he still couldn’t ride on bikes with his brother and his friends up to the local library or corner convenience store.

Recently, a friend hosted a lunch that allowed a couple of us with kids to get together and give the kids a play date while we moms enjoyed a beautiful afternoon of fellowship. This friend had an adult-sized “delta” trike – that is, with two wheels in the back. Scott got on that thing without hesitation and rode it like a pro – flying down the road as fast as he could pedal. Fearlessly. FAST and with a lot of strength. For the first time in his life, he rode.

Scott Rides a Delta Trike
Scott Rides a Delta Trike

Seeing him do this taught us that he isn’t afraid of riding – or even riding at high speeds. He isn’t weak. As soon as the large, wide, stable wheels of the trike supported him, he was completely fine.

Our third wheel son needed a three wheeled conveyance.

Gregg started researching trikes and autism and specifically the vestibular sense. He learned that the trikes with the wheels in the back, the delta trikes, while generally very stable riding in a straight line, can very easily tip over if the rider brakes and turns at the same time. The problem is that the front wheel is at an angle to the direction of travel and when the rider brakes, all of the body weight and centripetal force and kinetic energy of the rest of the entire trike transfers onto that lone front wheel which is already experiencing angular momentum. Flip!

In his research, Gregg found and purchased a set of plans from Atomic Zombie for a “Hammerhead Tadpole Trike”. A tadpole trike has two wheels in the front and the rear wheel is the braking wheel. This puts two wheels at a proper configuration to the circumference of the turn while the braking drag is all in the rear most part of the trike. This is called a “hammerhead” tadpole because the configuration of the steering linkage and the front wheel braces resembles a hammerhead.

hammerhead design
hammerhead design

The design has a complex Ackerman steering system that involves a principle which allows the innermost wheel to turn more sharply than the outermost wheel in a turn. That helps the trike remain upright and stable during a turn, even a fast braking turn. It is designed to accommodate riding through snow and ice, so Gregg knew that a similar design would work for Scott on grass, gravel, sand, or roads and sidewalks.

We just needed a couple of “donor” bikes and a good bike frame to build it. We live on Fort Knox, Kentucky, so he took the plans he’d bought to our neighboring town of Radcliff to Outdoor Ventures, a bike shop just a few miles up the road from us. They were very interested in the project and wanted to do what they could to help us get our young son onto his own trike. After talking with Gregg and meeting with Scott, the owner basically donated some bikes and bike parts to the project.

A coworker who Gregg has known since Afghanistan connected him with a friend, Al, who had the welding tools and skill needed to weld all the elements of the trike frame together. He obtained some steel and riding lawnmower steering bearings from the local Rural King and ordered a few spherical bearings just in case. After ordering various pieces and parts, collecting different bikes and bike parts, Gregg prepped what pieces needed to be cut or ground down and sanded, inventoried all of the pieces and parts, and delivered them to the welder, Al.

Gregg cuts apart some donor bikes
Gregg cuts apart some donor bikes
Donor bikes and bike parts
Donor bikes and bike parts

Donating all of his time and talents, Al welded the parts Gregg brought him and built the frame of the bike.

The "hammerhead" frame mocked up with tack welds and clamps prior to final welding
The “hammerhead” frame mocked up with tack welds and clamps prior to final welding

Being a true pro, Al gave the hammerhead an even wider stance for greater stability and strength.

the complex steering

Gregg purchased racing forks and mag-wheels from Outdoor Ventures, put a comfortable wide seat on it, tightened the brakes to hair-trigger responsiveness, and let Scott give it a go.

Scott loved it so much that he insisted he didn’t even need it painted. Despite that, Gregg took it all apart again, sanded down and smoothed out the areas where it was welded, teflon taped all the threads, and puttied all the spaces with JB Weld. Then he primed it and gave it a bright neon green top coat — Scott’s favorite color.

This past Sunday, our family rode our bikes/trikes to church together for the very first time.

We’re having to battle the words that other children say when they see the hammerhead for the first time. “That looks weird!” “What is that?” At first, these comments made Scott come home and not want to ride again. He thought the kids were mocking him, but we also heard them say, “I want a 3-wheeled bike, too!” “Can I ride it?”

Despite that, when he gets on the seat and starts pedaling and re-introduces himself to the freedom of wheels and the feel of the wind against his face, he realizes it’s okay if kids stare and ask him questions about it. Because he’s free. He’s having a real adventure, and little boys need adventure so they can grow into confident men. And he is able to join his brother and his friends as they storm the neighborhood on their bikes.

Gregg took them out in the neighborhood every night this week, chasing the sun, and watching him bike up hills, across grassy fields, and down the road without even slowing down, never afraid, ready to keep going forward. Last night, as they were putting the bikes away, Scott said, “Thanks for building this for me, dad. I love it.”

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Interview with Author Connie Mann 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 interviewing my very first U.S. Coast Guard Captain! I’m so excited! Please enjoy romantic suspense author Connie Mann’s interview. And — Connie is giving away a copy of either a paperback or ebook (winner’s choice) to one winner! See below how you can enter to win!

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Besides writing romantic suspense, I’m also a USCG-licensed boat captain. I work for the Silver River Museum (part of our local school board) and get to take 5th graders out on the Silver River in Florida. It’s a great job. Many of them have never been on a boat before and have never seen an alligator in the wild.

Our own children are grown and hubby and I spend every possible minute out on the water.

Tell us about your current release: HIDDEN THREAT, another romantic suspense, just released on May 30th. When Eve Jackson, passionate clean water advocate from DC, hears that a baby has been hospitalized from possible water contamination, she rushes back to her hometown of Safe Harbor, Florida, and starts flinging accusations around. Especially against local rancher Cole Sutton—who also happens to be her high school crush. But as she digs deeper and the danger around them escalates, she and Cole will have to work together to survive the investigation.

*This is the 2nd Safe Harbor book, after TANGLED LIES, but it is written to stand alone. You won’t be lost if you haven’t read the first one.

How do you push past the fear of your writing being average and be bold enough to sell it to a publisher? Almost every writer I’ve ever met has to fight off the doubt gremlins. They are sneaky beasts, whispering all manner of lies in your ear, trying to eat away your drive and passion for storytelling. The best weapon is to keep writing, no matter what.

What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write? I’ve dreamed of being a writer since penning an epic tale about my hamster in third grade. But it took years and years to find the courage to put pen to paper. And then it took more years to muster the courage to submit those stories. And yet more years of facing rejection after rejection before I finally got a story published.

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 always have a general plotline and character development in place before I start. Otherwise, I feel like I’m leaving town without a roadmap. But I have to be careful. If it’s too tightly plotted and planned, there’s no room for surprises and then I feel like I’ve already told the story before I start.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Those who succeed in this crazy business are the ones too stubborn to give up. Keep writing. Keep learning. Keep submitting. It’s still too soon to quit.

What is your preferred method of writing? (computer, pen & paper, etc.) All my initial ideas and brainstorming are scribbled on yellow legal pads with a #2 pencil. Then I start putting that info into computer files and go from there.

Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? (Book series, maybe?) I checked books out of the library by the armload and loved diving into another world. I wanted to BE Harriet the Spy. I dreamed of hanging out with the Little Women and knew I could solve mysteries as fast as the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew.

What do you do when you hit a roadblock and have NO idea what to write? If that happens, it usually means I took a wrong turn somewhere. My subconscious won’t let me move forward until I figure out what’s wrong. I do something else for a while and eventually (though never as quickly as I’d like), the answer pops up and I can keep going.

Find Connie online:

Website:  www.conniemann.com

Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ConnieMannAuthor?ref=hl#!/ConnieMannAuthor

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/CaptConnieMann

Pinterest.com http://www.pinterest.com/captconniemann/

Find Connie’s latest book online:

Connie is giving away either an ebook or paperback (winner’s choice!) of her latest release, Hidden Threat. See below to see how you can enter to win!

 

 

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Back to Work

After publishing A Harmony for Steve last September, my life got incredibly and overwhelmingly consuming and writing just stopped for me. I would sit at my computer every day and just.not.produce. I plotted out three different 4-book series and wrote the first three chapters of the first three books of each series and found myself totally unable to go forward. Every word that came out of me was forced in an agonizing way.

But, in all fairness, I was exhausted – emotionally, mentally, spiritually exhausted. I’d traveled for almost two years, speaking and teaching to various groups. Right after Harmony’s release, during the months of just September through November, I traveled back and forth from Kentucky to Tulsa, Oklahoma; Nashville, Tennessee; Knoxville, Tennessee; Portland, Oregon; Maui Hawaii; Washington, D.C.; and Sydney Australia. On top of the travel, I’d had some personal things that going on that drained me emotionally.

I needed a break, and sometime around March I realized that forcing myself to work wasn’t going to do anyone any good. I thought if I just stopped writing, I could maintain everything else, but I found that I couldn’t. Blog posts were hard, newsletters were hard, even maintaining my interview schedule was hard. So, around June, I let myself off the hook.

I had two years’ worth of annual calendars on my office wall with my writing schedule strictly outlined that I took down and tossed. I turned my computer off and put away writing and research books and closed my office door.

We had an amazing summer and I did very little in the line of “work” during it. I attended two conferences (and only taught at one) and did maintain a social media presence, but it was lighthearted and fun. We enjoyed pools, museums, family, and mini golf.

Today is the beginning of the first full week of school. I am finally excited about getting back to work and producing a new book. I have a new calendar (this one started in July so that I don’t see a whole 6-months of emptiness when I look at it) that has been filled out with a little bit less strict schedule. Since I usually don’t write during summer months, having an academic year calendar makes more sense for me, anyway.

I have a daily blog plan, and pray that I am able to get that into gear. It will include weekly recipes (yay! everyone’s favorite), and a weekly devotion from me, along with continued articles about parenting a child on the autism spectrum and my weekly interview with a Christian author (always with a giveaway!). I’ll also be back to contributing at the Faithful blog on a regular basis.

If you aren’t already subscribed to my blog, you might want to subscribe just so you can keep up. My next release should be Hallee Crockpotter and the Chamber of Sacred Ingredients, a slow cooker cook book. After that, I have a box set coming out with some amazing other Christian romance authors with an exclusive, never before seen book that will help launch a series that will publish sometime this winter. And — for those of you fans of the Jewel Series, look for another second generation novella – this one about Barry and Maxine’s daughter.

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