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Month: December 2019

Monday Morning Coffee and Chat 12/30/19 – The BEST Week of the Year!

Hello! Welcome to Monday Morning Coffee and Chat! Today I’m talking about my calendar addiction and preparing mentally and spiritually for the new year.

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Interview with Karin Beery 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 have Karin Beery as my guest. Somehow, here in Kentucky, I have met so many Michigan transplants that I feel like I know the state and its people well. I recently polled Christian readers and asked for their favorite trope. Marriage of convenience was by far the number one answer – which is a lot of fun because you can do so much with those stories. Karin’s latest release is a marriage of convenience story. I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did. Read on to see how you can enter to win a copy of her latest release.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Born and raised in Michigan, I now live further north than I ever expected to live. The winters are long, but working from home makes them easier to endure—I love my bedroom-to-living room commute! I’ve set all of my books in Michigan because the climate is so vast: sometimes we have 100-degree days with lots of humidity and sometimes we have -20-degree days with -40-degree wind chills. Plus, there are still lots of rural areas where you can’t get internet/4G/cell phone reception, so it lends itself to creating all kinds of problems for my characters.

I love living near the water, having four seasons, kayaking, reading, spending time with my friends, playing board games, and watching football (I’d watch more hockey, but it’s on too late; I’m an early-to-bed, early-to-rise kind of girl). My husband is my complete opposite and my best friend. We have two cats and two dogs.

Tell us about your current release. I wrote Practically Married to answer the question, “What would it take today for two adults to decide to get married for practical reasons instead of for love?” (I love reading historical romance marriage-of-convenience stories, but didn’t want to do the research to make one historically accurate.)

The main focus of the book is the practical marriage between Russ and Ashley, but this is really Ashley’s story—with her people-pleasing tendencies, can she go through with the marriage and still make everyone happy, including herself?

Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? This is a great question, because you’ll notice Practically Marriage isn’t Christian fiction; it’s clean fiction. When my agent first pitched this manuscript years ago, we received great feedback from Christian publishers and general market publishers, but each wanted me to change something: Christian publishers wanted me to make it a historical novel and general market publishers wanted me to eliminate the Christian content.

I prayed a lot about it, and I decided to make the switch to clean, God-honoring fiction without the overtly Christian content. Then I discovered Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas—a general market publisher who doesn’t publish anything that breaks biblical principles. The owner explained his vision to me like this:

Medical missionaries don’t preach to patients while they reset bones or stitch wounds; they provide the medical care people need, then make sure people know how to contact them/find out more about God if and when they’re ready.

LPC’s goal (and mine) are to publish good (clean!) books that entertain without compromising my faith. If readers like my books and want to know more about me and my faith, they’re encouraged to reach out to me.

How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher? I did a lot of research before I made this decision. One thing I discovered is that it’s very difficult to make a living as a self-published novelist. It’s easy to publish books, but to make money ($10,000+ year) at it, you really have to be a business person. Everything falls into your lap, and you need to figure out how to do it all well. When you traditionally publish, you have a lot more help and a support system for many of the steps.

Another big reason I chose the traditional route is pride. I know that I struggle with pride, and it would be easy to say, “These publishers don’t get me/don’t recognize my brilliance/are just being bitter,” and publish my own book, but that would also be letting my pride tell me that I know more than people who’ve been in the industry for decades (versus my 2-3 years of novel-writing experience). I decided that I needed to trust the experts, not my own opinion of myself. Turns out they were right, and my writing has only gotten better because I listened to them.

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 create detailed characters before I start writing. I know the basics (age, height, weight, appearance), plus everything about their family, work experience, education, relationship history (friends and boyfriends/girlfriend), etc. Then I create personal and professional goals for each of them, including why they want to achieve those goals and what’s preventing them from achieving them. I’m adding a new layer for my next novel—core personality types.

Once I have that figured out, I ask myself, “How do I get these characters from Point A to Point B?” I don’t map it out, I just start writing, but I constantly check to make sure my characters act in ways that are consistent with the histories and personalities I’ve created for them.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Be teachable! I meet so many authors who want to do it their way. They think that 2-3 years of writing makes them experts, so they fight with editors and more experienced authors instead of learning from them.

A close second—work with an editor. Not another author or agents or retired English teacher, but an editor. I now work at a publishing house, and I see so many manuscripts that were “professionally edited” by people who aren’t editors, and those manuscripts are usually full of errors and weak writing.

Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? I read Francine Pascal’s Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High, but I really devoured The Baby-Sitters Club by Ann Martin and The New Files of Nancy Drew by Carolyn Keene.

Do you write your books for your own enjoyment or more for what you think people would want to read? Both! I really do love the stories I’ve written, which is one of the reasons I need an editor—I get so involved in the story that I miss the mistakes! I do hope, of course, that others will enjoy the characters and their stories as much as I do.

What do you do when you hit a roadblock and have NO idea what to write? I make myself write, even if what I write is terrible. That’s the beauty of the editing process—you can always cut it later! In each book I’ve had to force my way through a few scenes knowing that I’d cut them later; when I go back to edit, though, I realize the scenes aren’t as bad as I thought they were. If you don’t keep writing, though, then you’ll never make progress.

Here is where you can find Karin online:

https://www.facebook.com/authorkarinbeery/

https://twitter.com/karinbeery

https://www.instagram.com/karinbeery/

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/karin-beery

https://www.amazon.com/Karin-Beery/e/B07HQ2GZQS

https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2666258-karin

Karin is giving away an ebook or paperback (paperback to US only) copy of her book to a reader! See below how to enter to win: a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Christian Fiction Christmas Scavenger Hunt Winners!

I would like to thank everyone who took part in my first annual Christian Fiction Christmas Scavenger Hunt Round-Robin giveaway! It was wonderful to watch everyone experience all week long. I will be doing this again next year, so keep an eye out to enter again!

Be careful with your answers next year. We had to disqualify the person who originally won second place because they had a wrong answer. The rules were that you had to answer every scavenger hunt question correctly!

Without further ado, the winners are:

Third place $75 (USD) Amazon gift card: Joy jwi**ey8@me.com
Second place $150 (USD) Amazon gift card: Glenda hisl**glenda@gmail.com
First place $300 (USD) Amazon gift card: Joanna fair**art@live.com

Congratulations! Gift cards will be emailed out this morning!

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

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Interview with Heather Day Gilbert 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 excited to have my friend Heather Day Gilbert as my guest. Heather and I have crossed paths in the publishing world for several years now. I love that she writes about Vikings – because they’re a part of my heritage, too. Read on to see how you can enter to win a copy of Heather’s latest release!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I’m a mom of four, and three of them are in college this year! Talk about an empty nest. But we have a five-year old who will be home for many years to come! 😉 I’ve been an author for over ten years, and I’ve had five agents (six, if you count that I had two at once). So I’ve been in the writer world for a while now. I have eleven books out—five mysteries, two romantic suspense, three Viking historicals, and a nonfiction book on independent publishing.

Heather Day Gilbert, an ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love. Like Belinda Blake, Heather plays video games, although so far she hasn’t done any exotic pet-sitting or hunted any murderers.

Tell us about your current release. My latest release (October 1) was Book 2 in the Exotic Pet-Sitter cozy mystery series, Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. This series features an amateur sleuth who pet-sits exotic pets and reviews video games for a living. This book is set at a fictional wolf preserve in Greenwich, Connecticut, as well as at Belinda’s parents’ home in Upstate New York. This cozy mystery series has been so much fun to write and it just makes me happy. 🙂 I feel I’ve kind of found my writer “niche” with cozy mysteries, because I love developing characters while having a mystery to solve (I’m a HUGE Agatha Christie fan).

Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? Now that I’m writing for a mainstream publisher, I’ve had to think through how I approach my books (which hitherto have been Christian fiction). It really hasn’t been a far stretch for me to move into the mainstream world, because my books are still clean reads, with no cursing/sex or graphic stuff, and I’ve never quite “fit” into the Christian fiction world, where readers expect a heavier-handed Christian message. I love classics, and that’s kind of what I’m shooting for with all my books—an exploration of good and evil (with mysteries, in particular), with a strong moral tone. For instance, in my Exotic Pet-Sitter mysteries, the single main character doesn’t sleep around or live with a guy. I felt that was important to show that YES, some single women DO live that way. LOL! And she has a supportive family, which is often lacking with those angst-ridden amateur sleuths. Belinda is NOT an angst-ridden character! 🙂

What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? Christian fiction has come a long way as far as portraying realistic situations, but I’d love to see even MORE fiction focused on married couples, issues with teens, drugs, infidelity, divorce, etc. approached in a biblical way. Foster care is another huge topic that’s hardly touched in Christian fiction.

Do you write your books for your own enjoyment or more for what you think people would want to read? It’s a mixture of both. For my Viking novels, I wanted to tell the stories of these real Viking women who sailed to North America, largely because that’s part of my heritage. For my mysteries, I definitely write with a reader in mind, but I also write something that needs to come together neatly with a murderer who might surprise even me. Speaking of which…

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? I have submitted an extended synopsis (the entire plotline of the book) to my publisher and then I’ve completely changed whodunit as I wrote the book. I like to be surprised by the villain and in that particular case, the villain was too obvious, so I switched it. That meant I had to go in and rearrange clues/hints, but in the end, it all fell together nicely (Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass). I love surprising myself as I write…and really, it’s not me. The CHARACTERS surprise me.

What is one thing that you “never saw yourself doing” and either do it now or have done? I’m sure many moms have said they’ll never homeschool, then they wind up doing it. I thought I couldn’t, but then I read Lisa Whelchel’s So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling book, and it really shifted my perspective of what homeschooling methods could look like. I realized yes, I could do this, and I did wind up homeschooling my three oldest for years, one of them all the way from kindergarten through her senior year. But it’s not for everyone. It’s important to pray each year about the best choice for each child, I believe. Same thing with colleges.

Here is where you can find Heather online:

Website: http://heatherdaygilbert.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/heatherdaygilbert

Twitter: @heatherdgilbert

Instagram: @heatherdaygilbert

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7232683.Heather_Day_Gilbert

E-Mail: heatherdaygilbert (at) gmail (dot) com 

Heather is giving away a copy of Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheeps Clothing to a reader! See below how to enter to win: a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Enter to Win $525 in Amazon Gift Cards!! Christmas Scavenger Hunt Round-Robin

Merry Christmas! Welcome to the first blog in this Christmas Round-Robin!

Here’s how it works: At each author’s blog post, you will find a question that can be answered by checking out the free Amazon preview of their book. Provide the answer at this Google Form. Note: You must answer the questions for every author in the round -robin to be considered to win the $300 first place, $150 second place or $75 third place Amazon gift cards. At the end of my post is a link to the next blog, who will provide a link to the next blog, etc., to the very end.

I’m thrilled to get the chance to tell you about my book Christmas Star Sapphire. This book is in the second generation of my fan-favorite series, The Jewel Series, but you can read it without having read the rest of the series.

Joe Westcott is a Cru minister at an Alabama university where Madeline Viscolli is getting her Masters degree. Joe has a personal rule against dating any student, for any reason, but his attraction to Madeline makes him start to reconsider that hard and fast rule. Until he discovers that Madeline is not just a Viscolli, but is one of THE Viscollis.

Long ago, Joe made a decision to serve God well removed from his family’s life of wealth and luxury. Madeline represents everything he left behind.

It was a joy to write this book and delve into these characters. To date, it is one of my favorite books I’ve written. My husband’s cousin is a Cru minister, and it is our pleasure to donate a portion of every sale to Cru ministries. As parents of a college senior, we know how vital campus ministeries are to the students that attend colleges all over the world.

Let’s begin this scavenger hunt! Go to the book on Amazon at this link.

Find the answer to this question:

What is the name of Joe’s boat? 

When you have the answer, fill out this form and head on to the next blog!

Thank you so much for visiting! The next author on the tour is Carrie Turansky, who is telling us all about her Christmas book Snowflake Sweethearts. You can find it at this link. Remember that the round-robin will end on December 16th at 11:59 PM EST!

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Interview with Chloe Flanagan 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 have Chloe Flanagan as my guest. I LOVE the sound of her latest book (the computer nerds in my life rank up there as my favorite people), and I love that she listed Mary Higgins Clark as a favorite author! Read on to see how you can enter to win a paperback copy of No Longer a Stranger!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. First off, I’m thrilled to be here and want to thank you for having me. I’m an Oklahoma native but have lived in many different places in the US, including Texas, the Alabama Gulf Coast, Hawaii, Georgia, and New York City, where I went to college. I’m back in Oklahoma City now, where I’m a technical editor for an aerospace engineering firm, a blogger, and an indie author.

Tell us about your current release. My most recent release is called No Longer a Stranger, and it’s the third romantic suspense book in my An Offer of Grace Series. It’s the story about two very different people.

He’s a lovable goofball and computer nerd. She’s a tough ex-cop with a past. She enters his life to help resolve a blackmail and attempted kidnapping. Working on the case together dredges up old sins, new dangers, and a potential romance.

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? haha. I’m not even sure of that one person when I write a story, but the short answer is yes.

Before I started writing fiction, I began my blog The Candid Corinthian because I wanted a space to reflect on the experiences, struggles, and joys of my faith journey; I had a lot to process. What I found, as people started reading my musings, that some could relate to my experiences and even found encouragement in them. I think the process with fiction is somewhat similar. I tell a story with themes and characters that mean something to me and trust God to let that narrative find the reader it will resonate with. Naturally, I market and share my books to advance that goal, but at the end of the day, I believe there is a great deal of Providence at work in the process.

Who was your first Screen/Musical Crush? Timothy Dalton! He was my first James Bond, and I loved those movies. Also, of all the film adaptations of Jane Eyre, my favorite is the one where he plays Rochester.

How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher? I decided to self-publish because I wanted control over the process. Also, it seems to fit around my daytime career better than traditional publishing would. Right now, I work at my own pace, and I like that.

What made you take the plunge and finally do it? At the beginning of 2017, I made a resolution out loud to some friends that I wanted to write a book that year. My thought was that I’d adapt some of my blog posts into book form. But I really couldn’t get much movement on that idea as I explored my options. Then, just before July, I heard about Camp NaNoWriMo, the summer version of the National Novel Writing Month challenge. I challenge myself to take one of the dozens of story ideas in my head and flesh it out into 25,000 words in July. I did! By the end of the month, I was halfway through my first novel.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Sit down and start putting your story down on paper before you seek too much input from anyone else. The advice and critiques can get too noisy, otherwise. Once you’re on your way with that, you can focus on learning about your craft, studying the things that work in your favorite book and asking trusted reading/writing friends for feedback to make your work shine.

Most importantly, remember God put this story on your heart. Providence is invested in your bringing it about and the Spirit won’t leave you to tell the tale alone.

Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? I was a true bookworm! I really loved Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, Little Men, and Jo’s Boys. After that, I’d read almost anything, from Jack London to Mary Higgins Clark.

Which of your characters most reflects your personality? Marion Sloan, the main character in No Longer a Stranger and Regina MacArthur, a secondary character in this book and main character in the first book, both reflect my personality in different ways. They’re both tough and careful with their emotions, but God has a lot to teach them about community and friendship.

Here is where you can find Chloe online:

http://candidcorinthian.blogspot.com

https://facebook.com/candidcorinthian/

https://twitter.com/candidcorinth

https://www.instagram.com/candid_corinthian/

Chloe is giving away a paperback copy of No Longer a Stranger to a reading (US only)! See below how you can enter to win:a Rafflecopter giveaway

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