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Interview with Morgan Busse 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 Christian Fantasy author Morgan Busse. I love author who write what God places on their hearts, and Morgan is definitely that kind of author. She is also as a couple of rescue guinea pigs — a first for me! Enjoy Morgan’s interview – her insight is so good, and check out the giveaway for your chance to win one of her books!

Tell us a little bit about yourself I usually tell people I’m a writer by day and a mother by night. I’m married to an amazing man who serves as a pastor and is always making me laugh. Together we are raising four teens (yes, you read that right, four teens!). We are also in the rescue business and are currently owned by two rescue dogs, 2 rescue cats, and 2 rescue guinea pigs.

When I’m not writing, I love playing games with my family (both board games and video games), taking walks with my husband in the evening with our dogs, rainy days (happy sigh!), and a good cup of tea.

At the moment, I’m in the middle of moving from Illinois to Virginia and really excited about this new chapter in my family’s life!

Tell us about your current release Mark of the Raven is a coming of age story about a young woman who inherits her family’s ability to walk in dreams and discovers her family has been using their gift for hire: to find out secrets or to assassinate. Not everyone is born into a “good” family and I wanted to show that it only takes one person willing to break away from the past and ask questions to change not only herself, but her family, her people, and the world.

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? Yes, I would. In fact, I wrote a blog about my journey toward coming to that conclusion (what-if-only-one-person-reads-my-books). Writing is not for the faint-hearted and there are many times I’ve wanted to throw in the towel and walk away. But through writing, I’ve also come to understand God’s heart, and how great His love and grace is toward humankind. And if God wants to use me, my time, and my talents to reach only one other person, then I want to be used by Him.

Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? Haha, yes! When I get my royalty check or look at my Amazon ranking, there are times I’m tempted to write in more lucrative genres. But some of those genres would be akin to me selling my soul (erotica anyone?), and God hasn’t called me to write in other genres. And I want to see Christian fantasy flourish. The next generation is enamored with the supernatural, with the fantastical, with the spiritual, and what better story combines all of those elements than Christian fantasy. So I’ll keep writing stories about flawed characters in a different world who are looking for light and hope because there are people who want and even need these stories.

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)? As an introvert who is both shy and struggles with social anxiety, I’m very familiar with fear. But a long time ago, I decided I did not want my fears to stop me from living life. Every time I’m scared to step out (sometimes even out of my own house), I ask myself if I will regret not doing it. And the answer is almost always yes.

I apply the same principle with my writing. In the end, I will regret at least not trying. The worse thing that can happen is a rejection letter. And I’ve had worse things happen in my life. Most recently, my agent asked me if I wanted to submit my latest manuscript to Bethany House since he heard there was an opening. Part of me thought I wasn’t good enough for a big publishing house and wanted to just avoid the process. But I knew I would regret it if I didn’t try. So we submitted the manuscript and the name of that story was Mark of the Raven. And now you know the rest!

What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write? I’ve always been an avid reader for as long as I can remember (I wanted to learn how to read so bad my mom finally taught me when I was four). But I never thought of being a writer. What I didn’t realize is storytelling has always been in my blood. I was always making up stories, writing scripts to perform for my family, and dreaming. Always dreaming.

It wasn’t until my daughter was born and I needed something creative to do that my husband said I should write. Ha! No. I read books, I don’t write books. But he kept encouraging me, and after discovering there were hardly any Christian fantasy (this was back in 2002), and having an idea pop into my head that wouldn’t go away, I started writing, and I haven’t stopped. Daughter of Light was that first idea, now a book, and to date I have published 6 novels with another one releasing in April and I’m finishing up another one.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Write, write, write! Just like a pianist needs to practice every day, the best way to learn how to write is to do it. Along with that, learn how to write. There are many great books, blogs, and conferences out there that can assist you. But don’t let them paralyze you from writing. Keep on writing. And one more thing, finish what you started. It’s easy to go from story idea to story idea, but if you want to be an author, you need to finish the story.

Which of your characters most reflects your personality? All of my characters carry a part of me within them. Rowen from Daughter of Light is my fear of the sacrifices it takes to really follow God. Kat from Tainted carries my love of science and my wondering if I’m a monster and if there is any chance at redemption. Selene from is my persona: hiding my emotions and doing what I think will help the most people, but it may not be the right thing to do.

What is one thing that you never saw yourself doing and either do it now or have done? Writing! I was going to be a science researcher and work for the CDC. Instead, I chose to work my husband through seminary, then found out I was going to be a mom, then through my husband’s encouragement, became a writer. When I became a writer, I never saw myself winning any awards or writing for a big publishing house. I was happy with who I was and where I was. But God had other plans and I feel honored to have been a two time Christy Award finalist, winner of the Carol Award and Realm Award and writing for Bethany House. It’s been quite a journey!

Here is where you can find Morgan online: http://www.morganlbusse.com/ https://www.facebook.com/morganlbusseauthor https://twitter.com/MorganLBusse

Morgan is giving away a paper back or ebook (readers choice) copy of Mark of the Raven to a reader!
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Interview with Author Mary Lou Cheatham 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 introduce you to Mary Lou Cheatham. I had the pleasure of spending some time with Mary Lou at the American Christian Fiction Writers Conference this September, and I’m so excited that she asked to be on my blog!

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Hello, Hallee. Thank you for this opportunity. I grew up in south Mississippi between Hot Coffee and Taylorsville on a hill farm.When I was a child, we didn’t have television. For entertainment and edification, my family listened to the radio, read, played games, and visited relatives. In the evenings, my siblings, cousins, and I sat by the fire or on the front porch and listened to tall tales my parents delighted in sharing. They were two of the best story tellers who have ever lived.

When I was in the fifth grade, my teacher used to let me go outside and sit on the walkway if I finished my work before some of the others. She encouraged me to write poems. In the sixth grade I decided to write novels, but I didn’t get back to my writing plans until I was fifty something.

At every opportunity I took college courses. I taught high school English, as well as other grades and subjects. At the age of forty-two I became a registered nurse. My late husband, who was a musician and college band director, suffered from Guillain Barré Syndrome. Permanently paralyzed, he required constant nursing for five years. After he passed away, I devoted my time to writing.

Here are a few personal notes about my relationships. My daughter and her husband are agricultural advisors. She consults with dairymen throughout the nation about their calves and heifers. He works with farmers in Texas. Three years ago I married John Cooke, a retired petroleum landman. I inherited four stepchildren, their mates, and four grandchildren. John and I live in north Louisiana.

I’ve never been so happy about my occupation. I spend every minute possible writing novels. When I self-publish, it is necessary to contribute book covers. John has designed some of these.

Tell us about your current release: As Doves Fly in the Wind, was published in October 2017. It is available in paperback, audible, Kindle, and Nook forms. Here’s a synopsis:

Jessica Boudreaux Hays, a retired music professor, has recently moved to Rousseauville to open a bed and breakfast in her grandparents’ house. An attractive and talented fifty-five-year-old widow, Jessica loves to cook, entertain, and play the piano. Her life is filled with problems. Emmie, her younger sister who lives with her, cannot be left alone. The sisters recently lost their parents in an automobile accident. The residents of the village are charitable but superstitious. For some mysterious reason, they refuse to go near her or the bed and breakfast. Another frustration in Jessica’s life is her cyber romance with a mysterious stranger. 

Dale Bonnier, a fifty-five-year-old widower, pastors two small churches in rural south Louisiana. He inspires the people in Rousseauville with his compelling sermons. He is considerate and approachable but at times disorganized and impetuous. His parishioners, especially Jessica, find his preaching inspiring. 

Dale has a recurring problem with his past. In the 1980’s, when he was an intense young man, he destroyed his home and family as he sought to satisfy his cravings for illicit drugs. Thirty years have passed. God has forgiven him, but the past has left indelible scars. Can Dale forgive himself? He cannot turn his past around, but he hopes it will be used to influence and inspire others. 

Jessica tries to start over in Rousseauville, but she encounters unpredicted stormy times. Can she find acceptance? Will she ever find a man she can love and trust?

Do you have a particular character that you fell in love with and keep them alive in your mind? Trudy Cameron—I wrote a series, The Covington Chronicles. The third book, The Dream Bucket, has become the most popular. Trudy, a ten-year-old girl, loves Papa morethan anybody else until she hears him slap Zoe, her mother. Trudy is so angryat him she wishes he’d die. When he accidentally sets fire to the familymansion and dies in the fire, she is not prepared for the shock. In The Dream Bucket, Trudy is a spunkyred-haired girl who thinks she can fix any situation. My readers tell me theylike Trudy. In reviews people have asked for a sequel.

The next book in the series, Manuela Blayne, features Trudy telling a story in her own words about an African American friend who is sexually abused.

The following book, Travelers in Painted Wagons on Cohay Creek, shows Trudy in her young teen years as she becomes a love interest for her best friend Jeremy, who suffers from the stress of watching his mother die and being abused by his father.

One of these days, I plan to return to the series and write a love story about the grown-up Trudy during World War I. Did I say that this series occurs in the early twentieth century, a time I love?

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? Yes. My daughter asked me to write a daily devotional book for her. It was a delight to sit down and write all the things I wanted to tell her. Maybe I’d shared some of what I wrote, but it was good to give herthis book for Christmas. She thought of the title: Do You Know How God Loves You? This devotional book has touchedlives of readers, mostly missionaries, throughout the world. It has not soldwell, but readers download it when I give it away.

What is your personal, most effective way to get past writer’s block? Writer’s block is not, in my experience, a problem. I have countless books in my head waiting to get out. If I’m stuck working on one, I go to another and come back later. Also, if I’m not feeling creative one day, it’s okay. That’s a good day for editing.

Isthere a book you wrote that you didn’t think would do well and it did?The Dream Bucket is a book I wrote the way I wanted to. I didn’t expect anyone to want to read it, but I didn’t care. I tell it from two different heads at once. The first few chapters are ten-year-old Trudy’s story. Then abruptly I hop over to her mother’s head and tell the story in Zoe the mother’s distinctly different voice. I was surprised when it won a prize from International Writers Alive, received a stipend from ACX, and sold enough copies to give me QIP (qualified independently published) status with ACFW.

Doyou feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a largeraudience or be more successful? I don’t compromise my moral standards to reach alarger audience. A novel I’m writing now may be a little edgy to be accepted inChristian Fiction, but I am a Christian writing fiction, not a ChristianFiction writer. So far, as an independent publisher, I’ve written whatever Iwanted, but now I’m seeking a traditional publisher. Who knows how my writingwill change?

Back to The Dream Bucket, some reviewers have thought it was young adult fiction, but it is family fiction. It seems sad that some readers write reviews without reading the entire book.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?  Spend more time in the chair in front of a page foryou to fill it with your unique words.

Develop a thick skin.

Where can people find your books?Any bookstore can order them.

All my books are available on Amazon.com. Most of them are available at Audible.com

Secret Promise is available on the Lighthouse Page of Westbow Press. As Doves Fly in the Wind is also available at Westbow Press. These two books are available at Barnes and Noble.

Create Space sells several of my books in paperback form.

I use the name Mary Lou Cheatham, because I started signing with that name before I became a Cooke. At some point, I may start writing as Mary Cooke.

Find Mary online:

Facebook, Collard Patch Blog, Website, Amazon

Mary is giving away a paperback of The Dream Bucket. Here’s how you can enter:

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Interview with Author Richard Spillman 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 bring you author Richard Spillman. I have always pondered the question, What if Lazarus didn’t die after Jesus resurrected him?” Richard took that question, mashed it together with inspiration from a run-in with ISIS, and wrote a novel! How intriguing is that? I hope you enjoy his interview as much as I did. AND — he’s giving away an ebook of his latest release! See below how you can enter to win a copy!

Tell us a little bit about yourself: Richard Spillman is a retired Computer Scientist who typically writes Christian non-fiction (Do What Jesus Did is available on Amazon) as well as a Christian blog (spillmanrichard.com). His latest passion, however, is Christian fiction. His first novel, TheAwakened, will be released on October 1. The story asks the question: “What if Lazarus didn’t die a second time?” He was led to write it after avoiding being kidnapped by ISIS in the Philippines and then receiving death threats (to behead him in standard ISIS fashion) during the rest of his missionary service there. Besides the blog he is active web at spillmanauthor.com, on Facebook at bit.ly/spillmanauthor, on twitter (https://twitter.com/awakenedtrilogy) and instagram (http://ink361.com/app/users/ig-3176880720/spillmanrichard/photos) where you can see pictures from his missionary travels around the world.

How do you push past the fear of your writing being average and be bold enough to sell it to a publisher)?  The answer is I push. I have moments of self-doubt as I’m sure most writers have but I do not let them take over. In a way, I close my eyes, grit my teeth and send it out. Right now my editor has the second book in my trilogy and some days I wonder how much she is going to hate it.  But at those times I tell myself that when I finish making the changes she will ask for the book will be better.

Tell us about your current release: It’s called The Awakened published by Mountain Brook Ink and released on 10/1/18. I started it by asking the question: “If Lazarus didn’t die a second time what would he be up to today?”  This is the result:  Everyone dies once. But what if a chosen few were raised from the dead? 

Two thousand years ago Jesus resurrected his friend, Lazarus, who founded a secret organization: SOAR. Since then Jesus has added to the resurrected—The Awakened—to aid Lazarus in SOAR’s battle against Satan’s slaves, the UnVeilers. The threat is escalating. The UnVeilers have stepped up their attacks on mankind through a charming leader and a devastating series of bombings in Dubai and Tel Aviv. 

But the invasion doesn’t stop with international terrorism. The UnVeilers are searching for a secret that Jesus embedded in Lazarus’ journal that not even Lazarus knows—and it will determine the fate of mankind. After a failed cyber-attack against SOAR’s computers, Lazarus and his team of experts must find the secret before the UnVeilers do. What clue is he overlooking that could turn the tide of this ageless conflict? 

The souls fighting with Lazarus are weary, but the war against evil is far from won. Can Lazarus and his team set aside their longing for heaven and put a stop to these satanic attacks before it’s too late?

Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write?   When I sit down to start I know two things: (1) The beginning of the book, and (2) the ending of the book. The rest of the process is to find a way to link (1) with (2). Most of the time I end up with scenes that I never imagined until I sat down to write them but they ended up necessary to connect the beginning with the end. I surprise myself and it’s kind of fun.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Three things: (1) read a lot, (2) write a lot, and (3) go to book conferences. The first two isolate you while the third allows you to get to know other authors, hear their stories, and benefit from what they have done.

What made you take the plunge and finally do it? I always wanted to write a novel but I also wanted to teach at the university level. I selected Computer Science and Engineering as my field and went on to get a Ph.D. in the subject. That is a field that is constantly changing and as a professor you are expected not only to keep up but to publish as well. So I did all that and had no time for writing a novel. As soon as I retired I started my novel.

Do you have pre-determined length in mind when you first begin a book? I shoot for 90,000 to 100,000 words. That being said The Awakened came in at 130,000+ so I had to do some serious cutting. It was a lot of work but I managed to get it down to 96,000 words and while it was difficult to cut so much I had to admit that in the end the book was much better.

What is your inspiration for writing?  For The Awakened, it started with a run in I had with ISIS while on a short term mission in the Philippines. It’s a long story but they found out I was there working in some remote churches and they got the phone numbers of our team. As soon as I arrived they started to call and tell me to stop or they would hunt me down and kill me. I didn’t stop but when I got home I wanted to explore the nature of the evil I was exposed to, so I came up with The Awakened which is a story of a major conflict between good and evil.

Find Richard online:

Website: http://spillmanauthor.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/136973920372866/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/spillmanrichard/

Find Richard’s latest release online:

Richard is giving away an ebook of his latest release. You can enter with the Rafflecopter here:

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