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Interview with Christy Distler 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 pleased to have author Christy Distler as my guest. Christy beautifully words how she gets past “imposter syndrome“, something for which I am painfully familiar with, in order to follow God’s will in her life. I hope you enjoy her interview as much as I did. Read on to see how you can enter to win an autographed copy of her latest release!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. My name is Christy Distler, obviously. For as long as I can remember, I’ve dreamed my most vivid dreams with my eyes wide open. Names became people—people who didn’t exist in this time and place but couldn’t have been more real in my heart and mind. So I’ve done the only rational thing: give them a voice by writing fiction.

My novels, whether historical or contemporary, delve into betrayal and reconciliation, faith and grace, and always involve the intertwining of cultures. When not writing, I work as an editor for Christian publishing houses and independent authors.

Obsession with words aside, I’m also a wife and the mom of kids and dogs. I consider dark chocolate a food group (level on the pyramid all depends on the day). I love to laugh. And I’m thankful. If I’m not reading, writing, editing, or involved with family and church activities, you can find me trolling yard sales and thrift stores. I live in the same Pennsylvania town where I grew up.

Tell us about your current release. As 1756 dawns, Isaac Lukens leaves the Pennsylvania wilderness after two years with the Lenape people. He’s failed to find the families of his birth parents, a French trader and a Lenape woman. Worse, the tribe he’s lived with, having rejected his peacemaking efforts, now ravages frontier settlements in retaliation. When he arrives in Horsham, the Quaker community where he was reared, questions taunt him: Who is he—white man or Lenape? And where does he belong?

Elisabeth Alden, Isaac’s dearest childhood friend, is left to tend her young siblings alone upon her father’s death. Despite Isaac’s promise to care for her and the children, she battles resentment toward him for having left, while an unspeakable tragedy and her discordant courtship with a prominent Philadelphian weigh on her as well.

Elisabeth must marry or lose guardianship of her siblings, and her options threaten the life with her and the children that Isaac has come to love. Faced with Elisabeth’s hesitancy to marry, the prospect of finding his family at last, and the opportunity to assist in the peace process between Pennsylvania and its Indian tribes, Isaac must determine where—and to whom—the Almighty has called him.

A Cord of Three Strands weaves fact and fiction into a captivating portrayal of Colonial-era Quaker life, including Friends’ roles in Pennsylvania Indian relations and in refuting slavery.

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? Absolutely. Even benefitting only one person would make it worth it.

Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? No. While I think (probably) every author wants to be successful, I love writing so much that I’d still do it even if I was the only person who ever read what I wrote. I certainly want to reach as large of an audience as possible, but I could never compromise my beliefs/standards to do so, especially if it included material that would be offensive to God and/or cause others to stumble.

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)? This was the hardest part of publishing for me. I think all writers suffer from some degree of imposter syndrome (doubting your talents or accomplishments). For a while, I was happy just writing because I love it, but then I realized that, no matter my doubts, God has called me to write stories that bring glory to him, and that by not sharing them with others, I’m not being obedient. My deepest desire is to be obedient to him, so I had to get out of my own way and let him lead.

What is your personal, most effective way to get past writer’s block? Going for a walk. For some reason, that always gets the characters talking to me. I also tend to write better if I’m listening to music that relates to the story. Of course, in the case of A Cord of Three Strands, that wasn’t possible since early Quakers didn’t participate in any type of music.

What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write? I’ve always been a writer. Somewhere in my mom’s attic, there’s a book I wrote (and she illustrated) when I was about seven. If I remember right, it’s called Unicornland.

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 mostly pants’d A Cord of Three Strands. For my WIP, which is almost finished, I decided it would be better to make a rough outline first, and that has definitely cut down on the writing time required. I’ve still made some changes along the way, but I’m pretty sure I’m going to stay a plotter from now on.

What is your preferred method of writing? Computer. I use Scrivener for storyboarding, keeping track of chapter word counts, etc., but I prefer to write in Word because I use endnotes to keep track of my research.

Here is where you can find Christy online:

www.christydistler.com

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Christy is giving away a signed copy of A Cord of Three Strands and a cord of three strands bookmark like Elisabeth Alden made in the book to a reader! See below how to enter to win:a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday Morning Coffee and Chat 9/14/20 – Where Do You Get Your Creative Inspiration?

Hello! Welcome to Monday Morning Coffee and Chat! Today I’m answering the question, “Where do you get your creative inspiration?”

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 Adam Blumer 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 excited to have mystery author Adam Blumer as my guest. I love that Adam and I have very similar writing philosophies – to write realistic characters battling real-world problems. Adam’s new release sounds SO GOOD – read on to see how you can enter to win a copy!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I grew up in lower Michigan and began writing at an early age, mostly pirate stories. I graduated to mysteries in high school and took novel writing in college, along with journalism as my degree. Winning a few writing contests in high and college fanned the flames of my desire to be a published novelist.

I live in Upper Michigan with my wife and two daughters, and I edit books from home for a living. In my free time, I work on my next clean Christian thriller. God opened the door in 2009 for me to publish my first suspense novel with Kregel. I’ve traditionally published three novels so far, but my fourth, coming out this fall, will be self-published. I believe in writing “Meaningful Suspense,” adrenaline-laced suspense that includes a redemptive message to encourage both believers and unbelievers.

Tell us about your current release. I was recently invited to join nine other Christian suspense authors for a novella collection called Mistletoe and Murder: A Christmas Suspense Collection, which releases on October 6. My contribution is the novella Death the Halls, which was a blast to write. I hope readers are able to get their hands on it and enjoy it. Award-winning authors contributing to the collection include Nancy Mehl, Loree Lough, Vicki Hinze, and Cara Putman.

What is Death the Halls about? Here is the back-cover blurb:

Two strangers join the Henry family Christmas reunion. One wants Lauren for a ransom. The other wants her dead.

Lauren Henry looks forward to introducing her boyfriend, James, at the Christmas family reunion at Henry Haven, her parents’ Upper Michigan getaway. But when two strangers surprise the family in a home invasion that turns deadly, they take Lauren as their captive.

Now she finds herself at the mercy of a man with a mysterious connection to her family’s past. The two men are at odds about what to do with Lauren. When tempers flare, she has only one option to stay alive: escape. Meanwhile, James becomes concerned that he may never see Lauren alive again. There’s one sure way to put his fears to rest: find her or die trying.

What is your personal, most effective way to get past writer’s block? I don’t usually struggle with this problem, but when I do, I get away from my computer, go for a walk, and pray. I ask God to help me sort through the story and find the right path. Then I take the advice of Steven James in his book Story Trumps Structure. I think about the story and consider what could possibly go wrong. Then I show the protagonist making things right. Usually at this point, a variety of options emerge, and I can take my pick.

Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? Yes, this is a very real pressure for anyone seeking to write books that will sell. A few industry professionals have told me, “Your next book needs to be secular” or “How about you try to remove religious references from your manuscript?” I believe in writing my tagline, “Meaningful Suspense.” That means I deliver not only an action-packed story but also a redemptive message. Without delivering the truth, what else is there but entertainment, which has no eternal value? That’s not the path for me. I’d rather write for a smaller audience that desires a strong plot wedded with a meaningful message.

What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? Depth. As I stated in my last response, there is pressure in the industry to either go secular or tone down the redemptive message. But when has there ever been a more opportune time in our world to share the message of Jesus Christ? A lot of Christian fiction is primarily written like secular fiction with God thrown in here and there with only a little meaningful takeaway. I believe in showing realistic character grappling with real-world issues and finding answers only God provides.

What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write? When I was a kid, I devoured Hardy Boys books—yes, even my sister’s collection of Nancy Drew. I read a lot of mystery and fantasy authors. All those novels inspired me to write my own stories. When I was a child, I began writing wildly imaginative pirate and fantasy stories. I rarely finished them, and I never had a plan. My first handwritten story was a fantastical tale about Captain Kidd’s spyglass. In high school, I wrote and finished an unpublished novel called Down with the Ship. It’s such an Agatha Christie copycat that I laugh whenever I peruse it, but emulation is how a lot of authors get to be where they are today. I loved writing fiction and couldn’t stop.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? If you’re a writer who wants to be a published novelist, be patient and work hard but keep in mind that doors will open for you only in the Lord’s timing. We can’t rush God. If He has prompted you to write, God gave you that desire for a reason. Explore what His will could be, but learn to wait on Him—perhaps even for a long time. When He’s ready, He’ll let you know. In the meantime, seek Him with your whole heart.

Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? (Book series, maybe?) Authors write what they like to read. When I was a kid, I devoured Hardy Boys books—yes, even my sister’s collection of Nancy Drew. I also enjoyed fantasy authors C. S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, and Madeleine L’Engle.

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 always begin a novel with a story premise in mind that I hope readers will find unique. Then I have a clear beginning path for my main character, perhaps even a possible ending. But then I mold the story and characters as I write based on the story world that emerges. I was a meticulous plotter and planner for my early novels, but more recently, I’ve discovered a much more enjoyable experience when I allow the story and characters to present new possibilities. I choose from those options as I move along. I assume that if I’m surprised by where the story goes, readers will be too. In my opinion, nothing is worse in a story than predictability. Though I may have a novel ending in mind, often new possibilities emerge as I draw closer to the finish line. Usually, an ending or even a plot twist emerges that is far better than anything I planned at the beginning.

Here is where you can find Adam online:

Website: http://www.adamblumerbooks.com/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/adamblumer

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/adamblumer

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2315682.Adam_Blumer

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

Adam is giving away an ebook copy of Mistletoe and Murder to a reader! See below how to enter to win:a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Interview with Daniel and Michael Jolls 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 excited to have the Jolls brothers, Michael and Daniel as my guests. I love the story of how they got the idea for their book. It’s also fun to find movie buffs who love what I love about movies. Looking over Michael’s other books, I feel a kinship to him. I have a brother who graduated from University of Southern California with a degree in cinematography – movies are what our family does, what our family loves, where we center a lot of conversations and arguments. I love talking to people passionate about movies.

Enjoy this interview as much as I did. Read on to see how you can enter to win an autographed copy of Michael and Daniel’s book!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. Michael Jolls is a film producer with over a hundred various productions, both large and small. He is the author of the books The Films of Steven Spielberg and Make Hollywood Great Again. 

Daniel Jolls holds a B.A. in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). He served as the student president of the St. John Paul II Newman Center at UIC from 2017 to 2018, and in the fall of 2017 wrote and presented a senior honors thesis entitled, “Mental Health in Cinema: A Spectatorship and Allegiance Approach.” He later presented a modified version of this thesis at the UNIV Congress in Rome, Italy in the spring of 2018.

 Tell us about your current release. Rev. William Netstraeter: A Life in Three Parts is the biography of a German immigrant to the United States in the 1860s who was made pastor of a small Catholic parish in rural Chicagoland. In his fifty-year tenure, Father Netstraeter oversaw the real-estate development for Chicago’s northside, influenced the educational system and local politics. Twenty years after his death, his life savings would become a source of controversy between Cardinal George Mundelein and Adolf Hitler.

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? (Michael) Sure! I guess if you were asking, ‘If I knew only one single person would ever read the book,’ that would be a little discouraging. But in this case, the very existence of the book, Rev. William Netstraeter itself, served a higher purpose of giving dignity to Fr. Netstraeter’s parish, St. Joseph’s Wilmette. About three months before formally starting the book, the Archdiocese of Chicago and Cardinal Cupich had targeted the parish for dissolvement. Should St. Joseph’s Wilmette be snuffed out as a parish, all the records which include the majority of the documentation on Fr. Netstraeter would have disappeared.

St. Joseph Wilmette’s buildings and cemetery are historical, therefore any acknowledgment to this historical importance of the land was a rebuttal to the Archdiocese’s shady attempt to sell it off. In 2015, long before this biography was considered for a book, the Archdiocese demanded the church, i.e. the congregants, to raise upwards of $1.5 million dollars to refurbish the buildings. Then, in the summer of 2019, out of left field, they announced that the school was closing in the middle of summer! They intended to shut down those buildings and simply informed the parents that the property was getting tossed on the real-estate market!!! Well, it’s much harder to do that when there’s historical significance tied to the place. The book was one of a few “monkey wrenches” tossed into the machinery to cease that process.

Now, along the way, if Fr. Netstraeter’s life work and story help strengthen someone’s spiritual devotion, that’s an added bonus. Even if you didn’t know the current nonsensical politics that ushered forth the book, the story itself is meant to inspire.

(Dan): Absolutely! For me, the book has just as much a spiritual component as a historical one. We are called to bring each other closer to God, using our gifts and talents to do so – so even if only one person happened to read our book and benefit from it spiritually, that’s still a “win” for them and for God. The same goes for people who write detailed memoirs or self-help books. If just one person benefits from them, they should be proud. It’s very humbling to think that people could be inspired by what my brother and I wrote.

What is your personal, most effective way to get past writer’s block? (Michael): I don’t really get “writer’s block,” but I have had moments where I get fixated on two or three sentences, and after fighting with it for fifteen minutes, I realize I’m just wasting my time. In most cases when that’s happened, it’s already the evening, so I stop and take a little break, get a light buzz going, and then the pen just magically turns on and the sentences flow perfectly. That’s the same approach with film editing: when something doesn’t work, all it takes is 3 seconds to make a digital copy of the original clips, and then just start trimming and cutting footage. The same is true with writing; stop overthinking and just start trying.

(Dan): While I do have a little humorous nameplate in my office that says “Write Drunk, Edit Sober,” I’ve yet to try alcohol as a means of getting past writer’s block. For me, I tend to do A LOT of pacing and music-listening to clear my mind and “get back in the groove,” so to speak. And as much as I hate to admit this, I also tend to get past procrastination/writer’s block by waiting until the last minute, so then I’m forced to finish the task whether I like it or not. Then, once I receive feedback from whoever, at least I can edit a finished work and not have to continue writing from scratch.

What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write? (Michael): There’s a duo answer to that question: first is “comfort zone” and second is “opportunity.” Going back to my high school years, I preferred essay and short-answer questions to multiple-choice questions. In college, I had an excess of papers to write and turn in, and if you do something enough times with rapid repetition, you get better at it. Then, with filmmaking as a profession, I was more comfortable with writing stuff. I don’t know how to properly format a screenplay, but when needed I could easily pop out a “script” of some sort — which is ironic because on my productions we rarely use a screenplay.

Anyway, when the opportunity presented itself to write and make money at it, I figured it wouldn’t be too hard. At the same time, in my professional line of work, being employed by countless Catholic churches, there’s a lot of writing involved, be it a letter to parents, notices for events, etc. Writing was always something that just came my way and I could manage.

(Dan): I always wanted to write because I find my thoughts are clearer through my writing than through my speech. In school, I could always articulate my thoughts better on paper than I could in class discussion. Writing is also therapeutic and allows more ideas to flourish, for me at least. Whether I’m writing analytically or personally, I often find that I’m at peace when I finish, because I had to get those thoughts out of my head and onto some paper. You could ask any of my closest friends — I write long personal letters. Subconsciously it helps me work out my own thoughts as I talk to my audience. It’s a very helpful exercise that ends up benefitting my work and the people who read it.

Do you have pre-determined length in mind when you first begin a book? (Michael): So far yes, but if you were to ask me that question again in five years I might say no. When I first started Rev. William Netstraeter I thought it would be a little shorter than it turned out, but it wasn’t long after we got started that I got a sense of the size and scope of the book.

(Dan): No. Though I have to be aware of my limits as I write, I don’t want to start out with a specific number of pages or chapters because I’m worried that would prevent me from saying everything I want (or need) to say.

What is your preferred method of writing? (computer, pen & paper, etc.) (Michael): Most of the time it’s pen & paper, but there’s always been exceptions. Generally, when I’m in the early assembly of a book, it’s almost exclusively pen & paper.

(Dan): Start with pen & paper but gradually move to the computer. I very rarely write full paragraphs on paper, but I have a journal that I will jot down any and all thoughts into during the day, during prayer, etc. As cliche as that sounds, it works. And I revisit those thoughts later and assemble them accordingly when I write on a computer.

Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? (Book series, maybe?) (Michael): I didn’t read as a child. I was just disinterested until fourth grade when we were forced to read 20 minutes each night for homework. Through September and October I slugged through it, but eventually the books themselves became mildly “cool.” We all started getting interested in what each other was reading. In fact, there was a small group of about three or four kids that would start picking up thick airport novels just to one-up each other, you know? That’s funny to think about in hindsight. A true story: in the spring of fourth grade there were three kids in the class reading To Kill A Mockingbird on their own. Why? Just because. I remember my Mom in particular thinking that was the weirdest thing she ever heard, and even inquired to the teacher who was just as miffed at it. Sixteen or seventeen years later I decided to actually read the book one summer and I realized how INSANE it was that my classmates, at the age of ten, were reading this book and acting like they understood it.

Anyway, so fourth grade was where reading became appealing, that spring a new Star Wars movie was coming out and the Star Wars books started appearing at Borders – for anyone that remembers those stores. I think I can safely say that reading for the remainder of grade school was an unhealthy level of Star Wars books and novels. When seventh and eighth grade rolled around, J.R.R. Tolkien was in, and by high school I switched primarily to non-fiction books.

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(Dan): Wow. It’s been a long time since I’ve revisited books from childhood. I identify more with the books I read in high school, but long before that, I loved fantasy novels. The Chronicles of Narnia will forever be my favorite, but I also remember reading a collection of short novels entitled Tales From Dimwood Forest by Avi (pen name) in 3rd grade that really captivated me. The books were simple enough on the outside – anthropomorphic animals (mostly mice) living in a forest much like every Disney movie ever made, but what drew me to those books was how “adult” certain things seemed to me as a child. A major character dies quite tragically in one of the books, there are couples and characters who are constantly working out their familial issues or romantic relationships, and the adventures never seemed too far-fetched to be ridiculous or too “childlike.” I loved those books as a kid.

Also, I never read Harry Potter until I was much older, but I read a series that was basically a knock-off called Children of the Red King by Jenny Nimmo. Think of it as a cross between Harry Potter and X-Men, but it doesn’t take as many risks in terms of character deaths or adult subject matters. Nevertheless, they were engaging enough for me by the time I entered middle school and branched into reading other types of fiction.

Do you remember where you were or what you were doing when you started this story? All too well. This book began in 2009 when I first learned the story of Fr. Netstraeter, who was practically an after-thought and nearly forgotten about. Jump ahead to February 2012 when I was hired to do a video production for St. Joseph’s Wilmette and I essentially pitched a documentary about Fr. Netstraeter. In the aftermath of the production, we did a commemorative picture book that was auctioned off at some fundraiser and… you know, that was that. Onwards to the next adventure.

Six years go by and then three events happen almost simultaneously that resulted in the necessity of this book:

The first, as I mentioned, was the Archdiocese announcement of dissolving St. Joseph’s Wilmette. The way they were going to do this was by merging it with a nearby parish, St. Francis Xavier. Now, here’s the honest truth: those two parishes hate each other. I’m not supposed to say that, but… the lies need to stop. These are two groups that have bickered for decades about everything. This is not a playful rivalry, but rather actual high society nonsensical drama of families scoffing at each other about who has the bigger bank account, houses, cars, etc. And just to boot, St. Joseph’s is conservative and St. Francis Xavier’s is liberal, but the geniuses at the Archdiocese who are merging parishes all over the Chicagoland area rarely consider grouping conservatives with conservatives and liberals with liberals. Naw, go ahead and stick two clashing theologies together because, you know, “harmony.” “Unity.” To my knowledge, since they did this, the infighting between the two “merged” parishes has only increased.

The second reason, which I made reference to previously, was how two weeks into summer vacation, the Archdiocese announces that St. Joseph’s School — a popular Blue Ribbon recipient with high enrollment — was going to close! It essentially confirmed everyone’s suspicions that Cardinal Cupich was targeting churches based on real-estate value and parishes that were “traditional.” St. Joseph’s Wilmette has a reputation of being a tad more orthodox than most, and that was something very much reflected in Fr. Netstraeter’s life. To be fair, St. Joseph’s Wilmette wasn’t the only parish that Cardinal Cupich has crippled for this reason. Everyone knows that a parish who leans more towards traditional Catholicism will be subject to scrutiny from the Archdiocese. I have done part-time jobs for three separate parishes in Chicago’s Jefferson Park neighborhood. The one that was the most “orthodox” and “traditional” got shut down. After that happened, the larger one that was pretty ecclesiastical, started drastically acting more progressive to play face with the Archdiocese.

The third and final event that really propelled the book into existence was when I got an email from Nancy Canafax, a former mayor of Wilmette, informing me that Fr. Netstraeter’s image was going to be embedded on a bronze plaque that was to be hung at New Trier High School (a school Fr. Netstraeter helped found in 1902). Because of this, I knew that Fr. Netstraeter’s story was going to become relevant again, and so just out of curiosity I started looking at the history I collected from six years ago. Well, in six years time, a simple online search yielded more information about Fr. Netstraeter than what was known at the time of the documentary production. That’s when the idea of taking that commemorative coffee-table book we made, and turning it into something more comprehensive came around.

(Dan): The timing couldn’t have been better for me. I graduated from UIC in 2018 and until the fall of 2019, my main job was in the produce department at a local grocery store which I had been working at since I started college. I had been applying to jobs and doing some writing projects on the side, but nothing major. I began 2019 by attending SEEK, an annual Catholic conference sponsored by FOCUS (Fellowship Of Catholic University Students). It’s well-known for booking Catholic celebrities to give talks: Dr. Scott Hahn, Fr. Mike Schmitz, Sr. Miriam James Heidland, and Lila Rose to name a few. This conference took place in early January, and at the time the church was in divisive turmoil yet again because of two things: the ongoing sex abuse crisis, and the fact that dioceses across the nation were suffering financially, much like the Archdiocese of Chicago. Granted, this didn’t strike me right away, rather, it sat in the back of my mind and was something to be aware of as I continued to live out my faith one day at a time. I knew on the last night of the conference though that I wanted to continue writing – especially at a time where nothing was stopping me yet it was so easy to be discouraged.

Fast forward to March, and my brother comes to me with an idea for this book on St. Joseph’s in Wilmette – more specifically, a book about their prominent pastor. The reasoning behind it was a no-brainer. History was being erased. The legacy of Fr. Netstraeter was going to disappear.

From what I recall, I initially started as an editor, and considering I still had access to online databases from school, I would be doing some research as well. It wasn’t until a bit later that we made the decision that I would also co-write. I didn’t have the same depth of knowledge that Michael had with the material, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t learn and develop a deeper appreciation for it. For me it was seeing the painful allegories between Nazi Germany and the German immigrants in northern Illinois: while the homeland burned under tyrannical rule, the “new land” was thriving. Religion as a belief or “interest” was being snuffed out in Nazi Germany, while in Chicago religious freedom was given its chance to flourish. This angle was what hooked me. And while we had plenty of support from family and friends, it was the support from the local Wilmette community that made this project worthwhile. People were excited at the prospect of knowing that the story of their home parish would be remembered in a concrete way.

Here is where you can find Daniel and Michael online:

twitter.com/jollsdan

https://www.facebook.com/michaeljolls

Daniel and Michael are giving away a signed copy of their book, Rev. William Netstraeter: A Life in Three Parts to a reader! See below how you can enter to win:a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Interview with Melony Teague 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 Melony Teague as my guest. I love reading about feedback from one beta reader that made writing her book worthwhile to her — I’ve had such similar experiences! Read on to see how you can enter to win a copy of her “Be Original” pin!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I’m a freelance writer who believes everyone has a story to tell.  As co-author of As the Ink Flows, I love to inspire and motivate others through written words. I write Contemporary Romance with a dash of humor. I’m a member of ACFW and The Word Guild. My favorite drink is a matcha green tea latte with white mocha and I’ve been known to eat vegetables for breakfast—well, pumpkin pie—same thing. I was born in South Africa and now live in Toronto with my husband, our two teenagers, and two cats.

Tell us about your current release. A Promise to Keep is about promises made and kept. Research librarian Savannah Sanderson wants to escape into her happily-ever-after novels with their larger-than-life fictional heroes. But a promise to her late husband has her attending her dreaded twenty-year high school reunion, and taking desperate measures just to keep her vow, even if she has to hide behind the décor to do it. Once a reckless troublemaker, Michael McCann fled town after graduation. Now a professional technical rescuer, he’s back for the reunion, but on his trip down memory lane, he soon comes face to face with unresolved issues, namely Savannah. Before the night is over, a pact between these two old friends will lead them on an adventure into uncharted emotional territory where Michael must confront his past regrets and find the courage to reveal the truth. But can Savannah fly from her sheltered nest and risk her heart on a real-life hero?

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? Yes, in fact it already had. It had a profound impact on one of my beta readers and that made the querying, pitching and all the edits and processes following that worthwhile.

Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? Not at all. I believe everyone has a story to tell, and also that they should tell it in their own way. I can’t help but write from my own world view or from who I am. I can’t fabricate what I’m not. I will always be authentic in my writing and no pressure would make me do otherwise. It’s just not who I am. I have my eyes focused on the eternal, not on fame and fortune.

What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? I love seeing authors be truly authentic and address the real and messy issues of life and how we deal with them. What niggles me is when a story is cookie-cutter and not based in reality, especially in contemporary stories. I love real, flawed and forgiven characters who I can relate to.  In A Promise to Keep we can relate to the struggles both main characters face and cheer them on as they learn to overcome. I love happy ever after stories because I believe there is always hope, even when it doesn’t look like it

With all those characters in your head screaming to get out how do you write fast enough to get it all down? Sadly, I don’t have that problem. I don’t have an overabundant imagination like some writers do. For me writing is hard. Really hard. It takes time and effort to get to know my characters and their stories. And sadly it’s not something I can rush either. However, once I get several chapters in and the characters have come alive, it’s a bit easier. But only a bit. I have to fall in love with my characters first and let’s face it, Michael McCann in A Promise to Keep is not hard to love. Savannah is someone I’d love to have as a friend.  Right now I’m working on my next story and these characters are giving me a run for my money.

What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write? When I told someone a decade ago that I wanted to write a book someday and they laughed at me I took it as a challenge. I was like, “Oh yeah, watch me.” But now that I’ve done it, I realize why they were laughing. It’s no walk in the park, but it’s worth it and it is what I was always meant to do. It just took me longer than most to figure that out.

Do you have pre-determined length in mind when you first begin a book? Yes usually, and you have to determine that in order to know where you are pitching your book to and how the structure and pacing of the book will map out. It’s a bit of math, which I loathe, but it’s helpful to know what you are aiming at from the start.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Keep writing, writing is a skill you develop over time by writing and writing more, and never giving up. In the end your perseverance will pay off, if you stick with it. Keep growing and keep moving forward, one step at a time.

What is your preferred method of writing? (Computer, pen & paper, etc.) Both, I brainstorm on paper. But I write on my laptop and edit on my desktop. It works for me.

Here is where you can find Melony online:

Website | Facebook | BookBub | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Amazon

Melony is giving away a ‘Be original” pin to a reader! See below how to 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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