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Hallee Bridgeman Posts

Interview with Angela Ruth Strong 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 thrilled to have Angela Ruth Strong. I regularly stalk Angela’s social media because she very openly took us on her breast cancer journey and I so much drew from her love for her husband and her faith in God. In turn, I prayed for her regularly. To have her as my guest is very humbling for me. And — she’s giving away a copy of her latest book! Read on to see how you can enter to win!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I’m a remarried mother of three who is almost an empty nester here in Idaho. I just kicked breast cancer’s butt, and I’m currently trying to figure out if I’ve gotten lazy or I’m still recovering. When not lazy (or recovering), I paddle board, snowshoe, and ride behind my husband on our Harley. I also like to cook and eat really good food, so I follow Hallee’s dinner posts on Facebook.

Tell us about your current release. A Latte Difficulty is book #3 in my CafFUNated Mysteries. It follows a coffee lover and tea drinker who are as different as their favorite beverages but run a shop together where they sell caffeine and solve crimes. Each book is set during a holiday, so A Latte Difficulty involves an attempted murder during the Independence Day parade. All kinds of fireworks involved.

What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? I know of way too many circumstances where amazing books are rejected by Christian publishers because the ending isn’t “happy enough.” This is a trigger for me, and I ranted to my agent just last week. For example, while the movie I Can Only Imagine is one of my favorites, it’s also my husband’s story…but without the happy ending. When leaving the theater, he said, “Why didn’t I get that ending? Why did my dad have to die before repenting for his abuse and reconnecting with me? Did I do something wrong? Does God not love me as much as he loves Bart Millard?” And my heart breaks for readers of Christian fiction who need to know that when everything else goes wrong, as it often does, God is enough. The happy ending that matters most is in Heaven.

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. It’s only the characters who scream the loudest and the longest who get their stories told. Many ideas will never see the light of day. But according to the former president of Disney, that’s okay. Michael Eisner said something like, “If you don’t rush, then time will separate the really good ideas from those that only seemed good in the moment.” As an Idahoan, I would compare this to the story of the potato farmer taking the bumpy road to market because it made the largest potatoes rise to the top. Sometimes I have to slow down in order to offer my best.

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)? It’s okay if you don’t like one of my books because I’m always trying to write a better one.

Who was your first Screen/Musical Crush? I was probably in kindergarten when I realized Han Solo was also Indiana Jones, and I was done for.

What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write? My mom was a writer. I grew up reading her stories in Sunday school material and sometimes reading about myself in Women’s World. When I was a cheerleader in high school, I wrote about the time a basketball player dove out of bounds, knocking me into the bleachers and breaking four of my ribs. Mom helped me submit the story to American Cheerleader Magazine. After they paid me a hundred bucks and published it, I decided to pursue journalism in college. Selling a story has never been that easy since.

How did you make the initial step into writing your first novel. What were some of your major roadblocks and how did you overcome them? While I was writing my first novel in 2005, my first husband had an affair. I felt like God told me to stop writing for a year to really work on our marriage. I didn’t want to, but I wanted my husband to know he was my priority, so I did.

The following year, I finished writing the book with the help of Donald Maass’s workbook for Writing the Breakout Novel. It taught me how to write, and it’s what I always recommend to new writers.

I took that first novel to a writer’s conference where I met my critique partner, Christina Berry/Tarbochia. We bonded over shared stories of our husband’s infidelity. After that, our lives mirrored each other’s. We both finaled in writing contests, won scholarships, got agents, and sold our debut novels. Then her husband left her. I said to my husband, “I’m so glad I have you.” But a few months later he left me for another woman as well.

I was devastated but am very grateful that when he blamed my writing for our divorce, I could say, “I quit writing for a year to work on our relationship.”

But I still had to finish writing Love Finds You in Sun Valley as my own marriage fell apart. I didn’t believe in romance anymore, and I quit writing the genre after that.

Then I met Mr. Strong. He’s so amazing he makes the heroes in my novels look bad. His love changed my life. And now there’s nothing else I’d rather write about.

Though I was afraid to write again. I was afraid of making Jim feel like he wasn’t as important as my writing the way my first husband claimed. I cried in premarital counseling, and our marriage counselor said, “Angela, Jim is a different man, and it’s not going to be a problem in a marriage this time around.”

Jim has supported my writing journey over the last decade. That doesn’t mean I don’t have other roadblocks, but when you’re on a road trip with someone else, the miles don’t matter as much. I will be as content writing stories that never get published/produced as I will be in writing a NYT bestseller/Oscar winner. Either way, I have more to offer my audience because of what I’ve learned through my challenges, and I believe God will use my work if/when He wants to.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever had a great writing idea? I outlined The Princess and the P.I. on a napkin at Cheesecake Factory.

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? Yes. For Lighten Up, the first chapter I ever wrote was the last chapter. Then after writing the whole novel, the ending didn’t work anymore. I completely changed it, and I’ve probably gotten more reader letters about this book than any others. Author Jill Williamson even said, “I was reading the book and was like, ‘Angela can’t do that!’ So I skipped to the end, and after reading it I said, ‘Angela can’t do that either!’ But then I read the whole thing in order and it worked perfectly.’”

Lighten Up is about the daughter of a pastor who couldn’t forgive her dad for running off with the church secretary until she fell in love with her own pastor. I wrote it before my first husband left, and reading it afterwards actually helped me heal.

What is one thing that you “never saw yourself doing” and either do it now or have done? I usually rebel against writing exercises because I want to write my own thing, but my friend Hope Lyda put together the book My Unedited Writing Year, so I’m doing an exercise every day and sharing my favorite from the week in a YouTube video on Mondays. You’re invited to join me!!! https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCuraamNU_Ktic_gg6DGoFgg

Here is where you can find Angela online:

Angela is giving away a copy of her book to a reader! See below how you can enter to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday Morning Coffee and Chat 8/17/20 – Why Do You Write Christian Fiction?

Hello! Welcome to Monday Morning Coffee and Chat! Today I’m answering the question, “Why do you write Christian fiction?”

Answer my question on Inspy Romance blog post today and enter to win a 4-book hardback set: https://www.inspyromance.com/why-i-write-christian-romances-with-a-hardback-series-giveaway/

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

What’s Hallee drinking? Hallee’s Brew! Try it today! http://www.halleebridgeman.com/hallees-brew/
Do you want one of those cool cups? Get one here: https://www.halleebridgeman.com/ceramic-coffee-mug/

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Interview with Susan Miura and a Giveaway!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is where you can find Susan online:

twitter.com/miura100/

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

http://susanmiura.com/

www.instagram.com/susanmiura1/

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

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

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

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

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

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Interview with Becky Van Vleet and a Giveaway!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here is where you can find Becky online:

https://www.beckyvanvleet.com

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

https://www.facebook.com/authorbeckyvanvleet

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

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

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

 

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

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

Y’all, no.

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

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

Nevertheless.

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

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

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

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

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

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

No!

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

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

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

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

How do you feel about it?

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