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Interview with Davalynn Spencer 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 Davalynn Spencer as my guest.  You know that a former rodeo reporter and wife/mother of rodeo clowns can write some seriously good cowboy romances! I loved her interview, her advice for aspiring writers, and especially love that she wanted to be my guest this week. Read on to see how you can win a copy of her latest release (which sounds so good!)

Tell us a little bit about yourself. As the wife and mother of professional rodeo clowns, I spent plenty of years on my knees outside the arena praying! But rodeo is also where I got my start writing nonfiction—there’s nothing make-believe about some of the wrecks I’ve seen. However, I always wanted to be a novelist, so after several years as a newspaper crime-beat reporter and rodeo journalist, I went after my dream. I also put all those years around cowboys to good use, and 15 out of 16 of my published titles—both historical and contemporary—have a cowboy hero. Gotta love ‘em, right?

Tell us about your current release. High-Country Christmas is a two-novella collection of unrelated stories set in the high country of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. In Snow Angel, Lena Carver lost something precious as a child at Christmas. Twenty years later, she’s about to lose her heart when a bruised and broken cowboy shows up at her physician brother’s home with a bullet-creased scalp and a mysterious dog. Just in Time for Christmas is the story of Abigale Millerton and the boy she grew away from. However, when she returns home to run her grandfather’s ranch, her neighbor Seth Holt is there waiting, as determined and true as ever.

With all those characters in your head screaming to get out how do you write fast enough to get it all down? What a great question! Writing fast isn’t the answer for me – it’s writing everywhere. I think I have the corner on the sticky-note market, and they litter my desk and computer screen. However, I’ve journaled since the sixth grade, so most of my ideas start there, in whatever color notebook I’ve chosen for the year. I’ve always said I self-medicate with words, so if it has to do with words, it’s in my journal.

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 write because I have to. It may have helped that I started as a journalist and developed a thick skin to criticism and a warped sense of time where deadlines are concerned. I’m simply compelled to write, whether anyone reads it or not. But I believe the big push for me came several years ago when I read a novel by a well-known author and was surprised at the style, wording, plot – everything. “I can do that,” I thought. So I did. By God’s grace and gift, I did.

What is your personal, most effective way to get past writer’s block? I’m not sure if I experience writer’s block the way other authors do. Rarely does a blank page (paper or pixel) stay blank if I’m within pencil distance. But sometimes I have trouble transitioning from one scene to the next in a story. When that happens, I scroll down in the document where I’m working and write another scene, completely unrelated to the one I’m struggling with. Once I wrote the ending to a story before I had reached the halfway mark. And that’s saying something for me, because I’m primarily a seat-of-the-pantser. No outlines for me, thank you very much.

What made you take the plunge and finally do it? I always wanted to drive an old Volkswagen beetle (bug). “Someday I’m going to have a VW bug,” I’d say. But it didn’t take long to realize that someday was never going to just show up and say, “Here I am. Time for a bug!” So I gathered my savings, hunted the newspaper, found two bugs (older models from the 70s) and bought one. That was only the beginning.

I always wanted to be a novelist too, and I read everything I could get my hands on. Soon all the articles were blending together and saying the same things. No one was going to write my book for me, so I set out to finish and sell the one I’d started. That was twelve years ago, right after a well-known author at a writer’s conference told me it was too late, that I should have started years before.

My tough, former-reporter skin got in the way of that advice, and my sixteenth title releases next summer.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? My advice is simplistic and mundane. It’s been repeated by countless people in various positions of leadership, stardom, whatever. Even Winston Churchill is reported to have said it.

Here goes:

Don’t quit. Never give up. You will fail only if you stop.

Where’s the strangest place you’ve ever had a great writing idea? In the parking lot at Big Daddy’s in Canon City, Colorado. A woman in the driver’s seat of the parked car facing me was on her cell phone, and in a flash, I got an entire story about a gal on the run from her money-hungry uncle/guardian who was forcing her into a money-making marriage. So she ran.

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 once got in an argument with my heroine about what her dog was going to do. (I know, that’s crazy. But you’re asking questions of a person who writes about people that don’t exist.) After a mind-bending discussion, I acquiesced and went with what she wanted. It worked. Actually, it was much better than what I was going to do because it ratcheted up the tension and the stakes.

Here is where you can find Davalynn online:

Quarterly Author Update and free e-book: http://eepurl.com/xa81D

Website: https://www.davalynnspencer.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorDavalynnSpencer

BookBub https://www.bookbub.com/profile/davalynn-spencer

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5051432.Davalynn_Spencer

Pinterest: https://pinterest.com/davalynnspencer/boards/

Davalynn is giving away a signed copy of A High-Country Christmas to a reader! See below how to enter to win: a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday Morning Coffee and Chat 11/16/20 – How Do You Do It All?

Hello! Welcome to Monday Morning Coffee and Chat! Today I’m going to answer the question, “You seem to have a lot going on. How do you get done what you need to get done in a day?”
Whew! Fun question!

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

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An interview with Jennifer Heeren 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 Jennifer Heeren as my guest. I love Jennifer’s perspective about writing for God and love the sound of her latest release. I’m in the midst of writing a book about a pregnant woman – in Atlanta – so it totally resonated with me. And any fan of Judy Blume can be a friend of mine. Read on to see how you can enter to win a copy of her latest release!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I love to write and want to live in such a way that people are encouraged by my writing and my attitude. I love to write devotional articles and stories that bring people hope and encouragement. My cup is always at least half-full, even when circumstances aren’t ideal. I regularly contribute devotional articles to Crosswalk.com. I live near Atlanta, Georgia with my husband.

Tell us about your current release. Twenty-two-year-old Lisette Carter is grief-stricken over her husband’s death—which occurred before she knew she was pregnant. Now in her last trimester, she meets David Baranski, who has a tragic past of his own. He seems to care for Lisette, but she’s not sure she can trust him. Besides, her sorrow and survivor guilt are all she can handle.

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? I had a person review my book that had been through a similar scenario that my main character, Lisette, went through. She related to Lisette’s story and said that it felt real even though I wrote it as a fiction story. I hope that my reader felt a little less alone while she was reading it. So, yes, if it was only written for her, it was worth it.

What is your personal, most effective way to get past writer’s block? I’ve found that the best way to stop writer’s block is to tell someone else my word count goal and then report back to them my actual result.

Have you always wanted to write a book? I wrote short stories as a teenager and then when I took a Creative Writing course in college, I realized that I wanted to write novels.

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 decide on the basic idea and then I prepare a basic outline that includes a theme for the story, some notes on the characters, inciting incident, and some conflict points along the way. Then I write the story which usually ends up shorter than I would like, so I go back and fill in missing details and scenes. The Story Equation by Susan May Warren helps with this. One of these days, maybe I’ll get all the information that I need before writing but so far that’s not how it has worked out. 😉

What is your inspiration for writing? I want to write stories that help readers see that hope can exist even when circumstances aren’t ideal. And, most importantly, that hope comes from God.

Who was your favorite author as a child? I loved Judy Blume books. She wrote beautifully about childhood problems and teenage angst. She writes both comedy and drama in a down-to-earth way.

Here is where you can find Jennifer online:

https://jenniferheeren.com/

https://www.facebook.com/HeerenJennifer/

https://www.goodreads.com/jennifer_heeren

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/jennifer-heeren

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCbgclJkWg3mFVvE_E8pJEjA/featured

Jennifer is giving away a copy of A Different Season to a reader! See below how to enter to win:a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Interview with Ann Brodeur 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 happy to have Ann Brodeur as my guest. I love stories about lost loves that reconnect, and it sounds like her new release is all that and more! I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did. Read on to see how you can enter to win a Christmas ornament!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I didn’t have a terribly exciting childhood, but I did have an active imagination. We didn’t travel, but that didn’t stop me from finding adventure in books. Perhaps it was those early years that whet my appetite for traveling God’s beautiful earth and for creating stories set in beautiful locations.

I’m a wife, mother of four, and a writer. There’s nothing we love better than packing up our travel trailer to explore Canada (and pre-COVID the United States), where many story ideas have been seeded and written down in a notebook just waiting to be told.

Tell us about your current release. My debut novel published by Anaiah Press, releases in two days on November 6.  SNOWBOUND IN WINTERBERRY FALLS is a novel about uncovering the pain of the past and trusting God’s leading. It’s a story of redemption and second chances, set in the fictional town of Winterberry Falls, Vermont during the most celebrated season of all, Christmas. A winter storm thrusts my heroine back into a town that only holds bittersweet memories for her, and onto the doorstep of the man who’d stolen her heart and disappeared twelve years earlier. The only way to protect the woman he fell in love with is to stay out of her life, but what’s a guy to do when she shows up out of the blue? And how will he ever keep her safe from the secret that will destroy her family when she’s stuck in town indefinitely?

A buried story.  A powerful senator.  A Christmas they won’t forget.

I love questions from readers!

Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? (Book series, maybe?) What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write? If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? Recently I was unearthing two boxes of favourite books I kept from my childhood in search of a new read for one of my daughters. To my delight, the books are still in excellent condition (after 30+ years) and I had a lot of fun sorting through my collection. I have the complete original series of Mandie books by Lois Gladys Leppard (all single released titles), the complete Elizabeth Gail series by Hilda Stahl and a good stash of original Babysitters Club books by Ann Martin. I also re-discovered my collection of Nancy Drew mysteries (both classic, Files, and my favourites – The Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys Super Mysteries).

At the bottom of one of the boxes was my diary I’d kept when I was ten. My girls and I read through the entries and enjoyed a laugh or two (what things a ten year old thinks about!).  One particular entry stopped me in my tracks: “To be a famous Christian writer would mean a lot to me. It would mean that I may bring people to the Lord.” So to answer your question, yes. It’s always been a dream of mine to be a writer and my career path has always included an element of writing (program notes for symphonic performances, grant writing for non-profits, articles for volunteer magazines).

Though I’m not a famous Christian writer, I’m living my dream of writing fiction from a Christian perspective. Maybe someday, I’ll achieve that first part. But if my writing leads one to or back to Christ, then the whole journey has been worth it.

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 think every writer experiences self-doubt at some point throughout the writing/publishing process. I’ve always been the kind of person to push through, especially when it gets hard. Artists pour so much of themselves into their work that there is always a bit of fear releasing it into the world. Writers depend on readers and their opinions, and they depend on the approval of acquisition editors if they choose to go traditional. A good friend said to me once when I received yet another rejection of my manuscript, “It’s not a definite ‘no’, it’s just ‘not right now’.” It has been a tremendous help mentally. But more than that, I know that if God has placed a story on my heart, He’ll help me write it and bring it to the right people at the right time.

What is one thing that you “never saw yourself doing” and either do it now or have done? I never saw myself eating bugs! A missionary friend brought back a specialty from the mission field – chocolate covered grasshoppers. And yes, I was one of the brave ones who ate one. And only one.

I also never saw myself camping. The first time I ever went camping was with my husband when I was three months pregnant with our twins. I hated tent camping, but he loved it (and I’m pretty sure my dislike of the activity had something to do with being unable to get comfortable on the ground to sleep with an oversized belly and having to pee every hour or two). But a few years later we bought a travel trailer and it is now my happy place.

Now it’s your turn for a question or two: What book has touched you the most in recent memory and how?

Here is where you can find Ann online:

Sweet Hope and Happy Endings…

https://www.facebook.com/annbrodeurauthor

https://www.pinterest.ca/brodeurwrites

Ann is giving away a Christmas ornament to a reader! See below how to enter to win:a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday Morning Coffee and Chat 11/02/20 – What do you collect?

Hello! Welcome to Monday Morning Coffee and Chat! Today I’m answering the question, “What is something you collect that’s odd?”

What a fun question! I hope you are able to learn more about me as I answer it. If you have a question for me, you can ask it at this link.

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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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