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Month: October 2020

Interview with Tara Ross 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 introduce you to young adult author Tara Ross. I love authors who dig deep and write about hard topics, and Tara has done that with her latest release. One of my favorite parts of this interview is when she says that she loves reading books that are just oozing with Jesus – yes! What a perfect way to say that! 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. Hello! My name is Tara K. Ross and I am the author the contemporary young adult novel, Fade to White. I have almost always lived in the suburbs of Toronto, but was born way up North in a pin-point town called Kapuskasing. I work as a school speech-language pathologist and mentor with local youth programs and am blessed with a ridiculously supportive family that grants me time to create stories which tackle the interplay of faith and mental health. When I’m not reading and writing all things young adult, you can find me rock climbing the Ontario escarpment, planning our family’s next jungle trek (for some time next decade) or podcasting as cohost of The Hope Prose Podcast.

Tell us about your current release. My debut novel, Fade to White, just released this past May 2020 through IlluminateYA/LPC Books. It explores tough topics like anxiety, self-harm and suicide through the perspective of a 16-year-old girl named Thea. Here is the back cover summary:

Thea Fenton’s life looks picture-perfect, but inside, she is disintegrating. Wracked by anxiety no one seems to understand or care about, she resorts to self-harm to deflect the pain inside.

When a local teen commits suicide, Thea’s anxiety sky-rockets. Unexplainable things happen, leaving her feeling trapped within her own chaotic mind. The lines between reality and another world start to blur, and her previously mundane issues seem more daunting and insurmountable than ever.

Then she meets Khi, a mysterious new boy from the coffee shop who seems to know her better than she knows herself—and doesn’t think she’s crazy. His quiet confidence and unfounded familiarity draw her into an unconventional friendship.

Khi journeys with her through grief, fear, and confusion to arrive at compassion for the one person Thea never thought she could love.

Have you always wanted to write a book? Nope! I am one of those strange cats who actually didn’t think she would ever write anything beyond professional assessment reports. I have always loved reading, from across genres and age groups. I fell in love with children’s books through my day job and have always participated in book clubs as an adult, but it was never one of my new year’s resolutions or bucket list items. When I had my first tiny human and my previous hobbies and volunteer commitments became difficult to maintain, I craved a new creative outlet that would also serve God and fell in love with writing.

What made you take the plunge and finally do it? At first, I thought that I wanted to write picture books, as this was my first love. I was extremely blessed to meet with a well-known Canadian author, Kathy Stinson, who gave me some brilliant advice. She suggested I try MG or YA, as that was the population I was the most familiar with from my volunteer and day job. She also suggested that I write about topics that I was passionate about and to enter writing competitions to help receive valuable critiques. That was all I needed to start. I wrote the first three chapters of Fade to White and entered into a Canadian writing competition for first-time writers, and won within my category. With the help of one of the judges, I then went on to write the rest of 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. I began writing Fade to White first as a creative outlet and then second as a form of self-healing and way to explore my own mental health and faith journey. As the story morphed into an entirely fictional journey for Thea, I realized how many teens own stories I was actually pulling on to create this one book. I can remember telling my husband, that it would all be worth it if I managed to have one young person read it and realize they were not alone within their own mental health struggles.

What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? I don’t know if it’s so much lacking in Christian Fiction as so much as young adult fiction in general. I would love to see stories that embrace a character’s faith as an integral part of their everyday life. Sometimes in Christian fiction, we get labeled as being clean, rather than faith-based. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy reading stories that avoid excessive language and sexual content as a personal preference, but I love stories that challenge me to think beyond myself to a worldview that is all-encompassing and so oozing with Jesus that even if His name is not directly referenced within a salvation prayer or confession scene, I know that He is there, impacting that character in ways that are transformational. I wish this type of transformation fiction could be found more frequently on regular old YA bookstore shelves.

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)? My writing is average, and I fully humble myself to this knowledge every time I send a draft to a critique partner or prepare the best version I can for my agent or editor. I am aware that I will always have room to improve and it is that realization that will prepare me to graciously accept feedback, to learn from award-winning novelists and to revise again and again and again. You will never improve in your craft if you are not bold enough to allow others into your process. And it is a process that can only improve with grace, grit and guts.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Finish that first draft. As painful as it may be to ignore all the other plot bunnies hopping through your mind, stick with one idea and work through all the story elements with that one concept. Writing a story from beginning to end is an education in itself, and even if it never makes it to publication, you will have figured out how to create believable three-dimensional characters, keep a plot moving forward, and discovered themes that you are passionate about sharing.

Here is where you can find Tara online:

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tara.k.ross/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/tara_k_ross

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18889509.Tara_K_Ross

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100014749334644

Tara is giving away a copy of Fade to White to a reader! See below how to enter to win:a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Interview with Amy Anguish 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 author Amy R. Anguish as my guest. I love how, like me, Amy gets ideas for plots and books during worship service. That happens to me all.the.time. I’m convinced it’s because that’s when I relax my control and really let God speak to me. Amy’s book, Saving Grace sounds incredible! Read on to see how you can enter to win a copy!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I am a mom of two, a wife of 16 years, married to my college sweetheart. I love cats, butterflies, polar bears, and happy flowers like zinnias, sunflowers and daisies. I eat way too much chocolate, love pop music from the 90s and 70s, and prefer my socks to be patterned instead of white. I read way too much and still have over 500 unread stories on my kindle. I am a people person.

Tell us about your current release. Saving Grace is a friend-to-romance story, but not a typical one. Through the whole book, Michelle doesn’t realize that Greg loves her and always has. And there are several moments when he begins to doubt chasing the dream of having her as his wife is worth it, especially considering she wants to adopt an orphaned child as her own.

Book Blurb:

What if saving Grace doesn’t mean what she thinks it does?

Michelle Wilson’s one goal in life was to become a top journalist at the local paper back in her hometown of Cedar Springs, AR. But on the way to bringing that dream to reality, a life-changing wreck interrupts Michelle’s plans and adds an orphaned baby into the mix. Now, she has tough decisions ahead—did God put her in that accident to save baby Grace? And if so, why is it so hard to convince everyone else she should be the baby’s new mommy?

Greg Marshall has been Michelle’s best friend his whole life. He’s thrilled she’s moving back home, but not so sure about her sudden desire to be a single mom. His feelings for her have grown through the years, but she’s never seemed to notice. Can he help Michelle with the adoption and grow their relationship at the same time?

What is one thing that you “never saw yourself doing” and either do it now or have done? So many things. One time, before we started dating, I told my now-husband, “I’d never marry a guy like you.” Talk about eating those words!

I also said I would never live in Texas, but we lived in Round Rock for five years and Tyler for 6. And loved it.

And being on YouTube. Add that to the list. I am one of three authors who run the channel Once Upon a Page, and we’re about to celebrate posting videos for a year. It’s been a lot more fun than I thought when I first agreed.

I also have had pink streaks in my hair about four times now. And I’d do it again. It’s really fun.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever had a great writing idea? I don’t know about strangest, but I can honestly say the most annoying place to get an idea is during worship services. Especially when it’s one that won’t leave you alone until you scribble something down on the edge of the bulletin. I sort of have to send up a “Sorry, God” as my mind takes me away from the sermon every now and then.

Do you have pre-determined length in mind when you first begin a book? Fun fact, I started writing full-length novels during Nanowrimo. The goal for that is 50,000 words. Once upon a time, I thought that was long enough. However, the last three years or so, I’ve upped my goal to closer to 75,000 words … and actually accomplished it in the 30-day timeframe. Novembers are brutal for me, but so worth it. Every single one of my novels that has been and is being published have come from participating in Nanowrimo.

How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher? Partly, I think I wanted to be published traditionally for the validation. Granted, the editing and having someone else pay the upfront costs that come with publishing are also major perks. But to have someone else look at my story and agree it was worth it to put out there where people could pay money for it? That was amazing. And I’ve had it happen four times now!

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? You assume a lot! Ha! I will say, when I start to write down a book, most of the time I know the beginning and the end, along with several scenes between. Other than that, I don’t always know what’s going to happen. I started out a pantser, allowing my characters to dictate what happened in my story. I’m more of a “plantser” now, planning more of it, or at least scribbling down the ideas as they come so I can arrange them in an order that makes the most sense. But my husband just shakes his head at me, because every now and then I stop writing and say, “Huh. I didn’t see that coming.” Why? Because one of my characters just said or did something that makes perfect sense, but it hadn’t even crossed my mind when I started writing the story. I’ve learned that if you develop your characters well enough early on, they’ll write the story for you. All you have to do is point them in the right direction.

Do you remember where you were or what you were doing when you started this story? Honestly, I was probably in bed. A lot of times, while trying to sleep, my mind wanders through story ideas, plotting out scenes, wondering what a character would do in this or that situation. I think the way this story got started was the idea, “What would happen if the best friend you’d been in love with forever finally came back home, but she didn’t come alone? Instead, she came home with a baby.”

Here is where you can find Amy online:

http://abitofanguish.weebly.com

https://www.facebook.com/amyanguishauthor

https://www.pinterest.com/msguish/my-books/

twitter.com/amy_r_anguish

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEiu-jq-KE-VMIjbtmGLbJA

Amy is giving away a copy of her book, Saving Grace to a reader! See below how to enter to win:a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday Morning Coffee and Chat – The Sunday Dinner Challenge!

Hello! Welcome to Monday Morning Coffee and Chat! Today I’m challenging families everywhere to the 2021 Sunday Dinner Challenge!

Join the Facebook group here: http://www.halleebridgeman.com/sunday

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

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Interview with Barbara M. Britton 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, Biblical fiction author Barbara M. Britton as my guest. Barbara is giving away a copy of her WWI romance Until June. I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did! Read on to see how you can enter to win.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I’m a Boomer who likes to think she has a lot of life left in her. I’ve been married for over three decades and have two young adult sons. I enjoy teaching the Bible and have taught Bible stories to children for many years. My husband keeps telling me to get rid of my puppets and props, but they are still in my basement.

I’m published in biblical fiction (what else) and historical fiction. I never dreamed of being an author. After praying for creativity for my chapel lessons, I had a prompting to write stories. I was in my early forties and had a busy household, but I sat down and started writing about the characters in my head. My fourth manuscript sold to a Christian publisher and that story was my first work of biblical fiction.

 Tell us about your current release. This has been a whirlwind of a year for me—pandemic included. I finished my daughters of Zelophehad series with the final two books about these faith-filled girls and released a WWI Historical. I thought my publisher would give me a break and release Until June in the fall, but it came out one month after my last biblical. No rest for the weary. My historical was influenced by a story I heard on a cruise ship excursion about a veteran and his caregiver living in a remote lodge in Alaska. A man and a woman alone in a lodge? My brain started working on a story about a wounded warrior and his spunky seamstress caregiver.

Book blurb for Until June:

When seventeen-year-old seamstress, Josephine Nimetz, agrees to take care of a WWI amputee in a remote Alaskan lodge to escape the influenza of 1918, there’s enough friction to melt the Mendenhall Glacier. Her position is only until June, and it pays well enough to overlook the hardship of managing a rustic home and a shell-shocked veteran, Geoff Chambers.

Geoff makes it clear that he isn’t too fond of the “runt” sent to take care of his needs, nor of her painful mistakes. Dealing with a depressed and addicted amputee, pushes Josephine to the brink of leaving, if not for the money her salary brings.

But Josephine is a perfectionist, determined to get Geoff back on his feet—figuratively. Though, sending a rich, handsome veteran back into society may cost Josephine the man she has grown to love.

Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? I’m laughing at this right now because I write biblical fiction. If I wanted to reach a larger audience, I would have chosen to write contemporary romance. The Bible is God’s Word—powerful, life-changing, and controversial. Someone who doesn’t know God will probably avoid reading anything associated with the Bible. Some might think the Bible is old and boring—they haven’t read God’s amazing stories. I always say, God has the best storylines.

In my first pitch session with an agent at my first ACFW Conference, I was told that the agent couldn’t sell biblical fiction and would I consider writing contemporary romance. I declined. God had given me a passion for teaching the Bible and writing about His Word. I wasn’t going to change what I wrote to earn more money. Someone else may have made the switch, but I stuck to my passion.

If you read what agents and editors are looking for at Christian conferences, you can see the call for more general audience stories. The general market is larger and more lucrative than the Christian market. More sales means more money for agents and authors. Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not, but we shouldn’t abandon stories that speak to God and His redemption. How about we consider writing Christian Fiction AND general market instead of Christian Fiction OR general market. I met a lady at church who came to faith by reading Christian Fiction. She wanted to know more about the “God” in the story.

I was at a book event where a woman whispered to me, “Are you a Christian?” I would hope so since I write biblical fiction. I thought it was sad that she had to whisper about faith. I love singing God’s praises. My books cry out about God all on their own.

What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? I didn’t know there was a Christian publishing industry until I sold my first novel. I came in the back door of publishing through a mentoring program. I believe a lot of Christians are like me and don’t realize there are a variety of well-written books from a faith perspective. People may have a misconception about Christian Fiction and think it’s very theological. We need to inform believers that Christian books come in all genres and reading levels.

I believe we need to write fiction that reaches the world for Christ. If Christians don’t write those stories, who will? We can write “sweet” books, too, but we shouldn’t abandon Christian stories. We just need to market them to a broader audience and let readers know that Christian Fiction rocks!

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)? Even after publishing several books, doubt creeps into my psyche. How do I know if a book is good enough? I have critique partners help me along my writing journey. I have beta-readers give me an honest assessment of my story. I have to trust the many years of learning and practicing my craft. I also ask God to help me write to the best of my ability.

Writing shouldn’t be a solitary endeavor. I’ve heard people say they are worried about other writers stealing their work. Well, story tropes have been around for centuries. You should trade pages with people you trust. If you are worried about your story being stolen, don’t post about it on social media. Have a small band of writers encourage you and push you to be the best writer you can be.

You’ve probably heard “You have to be in it, to win it.” You will never know if your story is good enough if you don’t send it out to agents or publishers. You may receive a revise and resubmit from industry professionals, but at least you will know what needs to be fixed.

How did you determine whether to self-publish or seek a traditional publisher? I’m not tech savvy. Technology can actually scare me. When someone tells me to learn new software by “playing with it,” I panic. My goal was to traditionally publish because I didn’t want to learn the formatting of books, the uploading, and do all the design work. I also wanted wider distribution channels. Now, there are companies to help an author do all the formatting and book graphics, so it’s a lot easier to indie-publish today. We also see hybrid authors that are traditionally published and launch books on their own. The publishing industry offers more paths to get your book out into the world than when I first started writing over a decade ago.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? I will pass on the advice that was given to me as a new writer. I was encouraged to join professional writing organizations and to attend writing conferences. With everything going virtual due to the virus, many conferences have gone online. I also encourage writers to get involved in local writing groups so they can meet fellow writers and build friendships. Wonderful information on the industry and writing craft can be found on blogs and social media, too.

Always keep writing. Be prepared for the question “What are you working on now.” You never know what story plot will sell. Don’t delete stories either. Older manuscripts may become popular.

Until June was a story I tried to sell and couldn’t find a buyer. Years later, my son texted me that someone had stolen my story. What? He had seen a movie trailer for “Me Before You.” That story has a similar trope, but my story has a happy ending, not a tragic one. I dusted my manuscript off (I had worked on it over the years) and sold the story to my publisher. God’s timing may not be our timing, but His timing is the best.

Barb’s bio:

Barbara M. Britton lives in Southeast Wisconsin and loves the snow—when it accumulates under three inches. She is published in Biblical fiction and enjoys bringing little-known Bible characters to light in her stories. Look for Barb to venture into Christian Historical fiction in 2020 with Until June. Barb is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Romance Writers of America, and Wisconsin Romance Writers of America. Barb has a nutrition degree from Baylor University but loves to dip healthy strawberries in chocolate. Find out more about Barb’s books at http://www.barbarambritton.com/books.html

Here is where you can find Barb online:

Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

Barb is giving a copy of Until June to a reader! See below how to enter to win:a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Interview with 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’m pleased to have fellow Inspy Romance contributor Toni Shiloh as my guest. It’s always fun to have someone I interact with regularly as my guest here, because it’s like I get a chance to show off my friends. I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did. Read on to see how you can enter to win a set of five Christmas wedding stories!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I’m a native Texan who now lives in northern Virginia. I’ve been married for fifteen years and we have two awesome young men we’re raising. If I’m not writing, then I’m probably reading or playing video games with the fam.

Tell us about your current release. Something Borrowed is a novella collection of 5 Christmas wedding stories. My novella, All the Moore, features Leilah Anderson and Reggie Moore. Leilah and Reggie met online playing video games. Leilah loves the anonymity of online presence because she can be herself and not be judged or pitied for being in a wheelchair. Reggie is intrigued by her and once he meets her face to face, wants a romantic relationship. But they’re thousands of miles apart. And oh yeah, Reggie has no clue of Leilah’s disability.

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? Without a doubt. It’s actually a question I answered early in my career after attending a writing conference where this was the subject.

What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? Nothing. And the reason I say that is because there are a vast array of authors who all bring something different to their writing which covers the spectrum. So if someone wants to read a lighthearted romance for entertainment purposes, there are those. If someone wants something with heavier topics, that can be found too. Do I believe there are more of one particular issue could be more prevalent, yes. And I’m doing my part in bringing more diversity to the genre.

With all those characters in your head screaming to get out how do you write fast enough to get it all down? I don’t, lol! I have a file of ideas with characters who wish to become a reality. What I do is write the characters who are screaming the loudest.

Who was your first Screen/Musical Crush? Probably Jordan Knight from New Kids on the Block. I remember having their tape, listening to it on my boombox, and wearing their t-shirts and singing loudly (and most likely, very badly).

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 know my characters before I start writing. I try and figure out as many details about them before I start writing. Sometimes little things pop up as I write and I learn more about them. As for plot, HA!!!, I have no idea other than it will end in a happily ever after.

Do you have pre-determined length in mind when you first begin a book? Always. Once the idea pops in my head, I know what length I want to make it. And I write accordingly.

Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? I read so many series as a child. Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys, Baby Sitter’s Club, Sweet Valley High, and many more.

Here is where you can find Toni online:

www.tonishiloh.com

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorToniShiloh/

twitter.com/tonishilohwrite

www.instagram.com/tonishiloh/

www.pinterest.com/ToniShiloh/

www.goodreads.com/tonishiloh

Toni is giving away an ebook to a reader! See below how to enter to win:a Rafflecopter giveaway

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