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Release Day Interview with Author Tanya Stowe 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! Today we’re celebrating release day with my fellow Romance Writers of America’s Faith-Hope-Love author, Tanya Stowe! Tanya and I have served on the board of FHL for the last couple of years and I have loved every minute of interaction with her. I’m so happy she is visiting us on her release day. Plus – she’s giving away an ebook of the book she’s releasing today! Read on to see how you can enter to win.

Tell us a little bit about yourself: My husband and I are high school sweethearts going strong after 43 years. We have 4 children and 21 grandchildren. My husband just retired. We sold our home, bought a luxurious motorhome and hit the road to travel the U.S. I’m looking forward to this new adventure.

Tell us about your current release: My current release is called That Doggone Baby. It’s part of the latest collection in the Heart’s Have series I’ve written with 4 of my “writing sisters.” We all met when we first starting writing and we love working together so much, we’ve started another series called Love at Christmas Inn. I can see us doing this for years!

If you knew ahead of time your book would benefit only one person on their spiritual journey, would you still write it? Yes, sometimes I write my stories just for myself. The story needs to get out of me and on paper so it will leave me along! Lol.

Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? No. Not ever. I guess I’ve been blessed.

What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? More reality. I think Christian Fiction, romance in particular, should deal with more real-life situations that Christians face daily.

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! But I have to constantly remind myself that I can’t write about life if I’m not living…and my husband is good about keeping me tethered in the real world.

Who was your first Screen/Musical Crush? Tom Select. I grew up in L.A. and when I was 16 he was all over the billboards. I said, “I’m going to marry that man.” But of course, I married a blond, blue-eyed, tall guy. That didn’t stop me from watching Magnum P.I. when it first came on. I was a big fan and continue to be. I think I like his westerns best of all though.

What is your personal, most effective way to get past writer’s block? Stop writing and find out where I went wrong. Usually if I have writer’s block I’ve made the characters do something that’s not right and my subconscious is screaming at me to fix it!

Have you always wanted to write a book? I’ve wanted to write for as long as I could remember. I wrote my first book when I was 11.

Do you have your plotline and character development already laid out before you begin writing a book, or do they develop as you write? Plotlines come to me automatically, like movies in my head…especially when I travel. Sometimes my problem is creating the right characterizations for the plot in my head. Sometimes they don’t work out and I have to change that original plot. That’s my biggest problem, learning to let go of that first idea that might or might not work.

Find Tanya online:





Find Tanya’s latest release:

Tanya is giving away an ebook of That Doggone Baby! Enter below!


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Interview with Author Randall Allen Dunn!

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’d like to welcome Randall Allen Dunn. I LOVE movies, especially action movies. I can tell, as I compiled this interview, that Randall and I have very similar styles in how we process entertainment and let that translate into our own works. Randall is a Christian thriller author, who listens to movie soundtracks to help him dramatize his scenes. I really enjoyed his interview, and am so excited that he’s giving away a paperback to one lucky winner — a reader’s choice paperback. You get to pick from three books he has available! Read below to see how to enter.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.  I’ll be married for 20 years this September. My wife and I have 2 adopted children, a ten-year old daughter and 6-year old son. I’m fifty years old, but I look like I’m about thirty and I think like a teenager. I still enjoy listening to the latest rock music, from both Christian and secular artists, though I spend most of my time listening to movie soundtrack scores that help me think up dramatic story scenes.

I write action thrillers that read more like blockbuster movies than novels. Action-packed, fast-paced & fun, with larger than life heroes facing off against diabolical villains and deep moral dilemmas.

Tell us about your current release. My latest novel is Den, an action thriller that fellow author Thom Reese described as “a one-person Hunger Games.” Amy Raven is a 20-year old basketball star who gets framed for using steroids and expelled. She takes a dead-end job at Grater Gameland, a refurbished theme park, to try to start over.

But it’s all a trap set up by the park owner’s son, Gunther Grater, a brilliant, infatuated game designer who’s rigged every ride to trap Amy for himself. He’s challenged other “Stalkers” to a violent all-night game, competing to win Amy as their prize.

Armed with a backpack of tools, Amy must fight her way through the park to escape the Stalkers, clear her name, and, most of all, survive.

What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? I feel the Christian market needs a more open mind regarding fiction and how it can be used. That includes publishers, writers, and especially the readers who set the demand for what’s published. When we look at classic fiction that presented Christian messages, like The Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings, A Christmas Carol, and so on, we see that ghosts & witches & elves can be used in fiction to help people discover the gospel. But today, people think a story with those elements can’t possibly be godly. Even classic horror stories like Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man, and Frankenstein, teach great morals about good and evil and the choices we make, and can easily be told from a Christian perspective.

Some Christian readers avoid all horror, because they think “horror” means all those gory movies that get promoted at Halloween. They don’t recognize that they’re already reading horror by Frank Peretti about demons invading a town, or that classic horror movies like “Jaws” teach great lessons about taking responsibility for a problem. They denounce Harry Potter, but happily accept the witchcraft of the Enchantress in “Beauty and the Beast” who curses a prince and all the servants in his castle. The value of that awesome Disney movie is that it demonstrates the power of transforming love. The fairy tale witchcraft in it – which we find in tons of fairy tales and cartoons and thrillers – is just a means to tell the story. We can enjoy these stories for the great lessons they teach, without fearing we’ll corrupt ourselves because we read a story like Narnia that involves fictional magic.

If I pitch a story to a Christian publisher about a cruel man who learns to be kind and selfless by a conversation with a pack of ghosts, they would never publish it because their readers would be too offended. Yet those same editors and readers would praise A Christmas Carol for its message. We need to learn how to discover the value of great stories now, not several decades from now. The church needs to take a leap forward and stop judging things by their outward appearance and the package it comes in, so they can find out what’s actually inside that package.

Who was your first Screen/Musical Crush? I grew up reading comic books in the ‘70’s, so my natural crush was Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman. I used to feel bad about that, because she is often seen as just a sexual fantasy character, until I learned more about what sets Wonder Woman apart from other heroines. She’s one of very few heroes who shows genuine mercy to her enemies, to the point that she has reformed some of them. The only other hero I have seen demonstrate this quality consistently is the Doctor from the “Doctor Who” series, always ready to forgive and restore villains who were trying to kill them and everyone else.

I’m so excited about the new Wonder Woman movie coming out next year, and how perfect Gal Gadot is for the part. After all the Wonder Woman bashing and failed attempts by writers and producers who didn’t get what the character was about, it’s great to see that they’re doing it right. Gal Gadot is stunning, but no one would watch those film previews and consider her a sex object.

What is your personal, most effective way to get past writers block? I don’t believe in Writer’s Block. If my mind and hands work, then I can physically write my name and address and other random things, so I’m never “blocked” from writing. However, I believe many people suffer from Perfectionist’s Paralysis, which makes them believe they can’t write because it won’t be good enough.

I learned to lower my expectations after reading Joel Saltzmann’s book, If You Can Talk, You Can Write. The first time I write anything, I expect it to be awful. So I’m not disappointed or afraid when it turns out bad. Because it’s normal for a first draft to be bad. That’s why we re-write, to fix the problems.

When I get stuck on what to do with a part of a story or I need to do more research for it, I make a note of what is needed, mark the spot with three asterisks so I can easily find that spot later, and keep writing.

I also don’t start a new story until I have a good idea of how most of it will come together. If I don’t feel I’m generally ready to write the whole story, I wait on it. I have such a big pile of stories waiting to be written that I can pick and choose that way.

What made you take the plunge and finally do it? A few years ago, I asked God what I could do to make extra money. Writing wasn’t working out for me and I even wondered if I was wasting my time doing it. I felt that God told me to do 2 things: get up at 5am in the morning, and do e-books. I wasn’t too consistent with getting up at 5am, but when I did, I had time to read my Bible and do some solid writing.

At that time, an agent felt sure she could sell my Indiana Jones-style adventure thriller, High Adventure, so I held off on self-publishing it. She shopped it to every major Christian publisher I had ever heard of, and it sat with them for almost a year before they all rejected it.

Meanwhile, I had another idea for a story about a 16-year old Red Riding Hood fighting werewolves. I was inspired by the “Red Riding Hood” movie and by “Once Upon a Time”, which turned Snow White in a Robin Hood-type outlaw living in the woods. The agent loved that idea, but I already planned to self-publish it. Even if a publisher contracted it the next day, they wouldn’t release the book for a year. I couldn’t wait that long, because I knew some other writer would land on the same fairy tale action thriller idea and claim I was stealing their concept. So I started self-publishing.

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 get an idea and make notes of scenes and aspects of the story. I also create my own pseudo-soundtrack CD’s for my novels and listen to them while I’m driving around, using the music to write out scenes in my head.

When I gather enough scenes and ideas that I feel ready, I start writing the first draft from the beginning, inserting the scenes I’ve already written and revising them to fit.

After I finish the draft, I create character profiles for all the main characters, and at least some of the minor ones. This helps me figure out their background, and most importantly, their relationship to other characters in the story.

Then I write the 2nd draft, using the details I’ve learned from my character outlines to fill out the story, making it more real. Then I find people to read it and give feedback. I tweak the story based on their responses, proof it some more, and then I’m done.

Who were some of your favorite authors as a child? I didn’t read much growing up. I watched movies and TV and read comic books.

I started reading more in high school and especially after college. My favorite author is Ian Fleming. People who have only seen the James Bond movies don’t realize how good a writer Fleming is. He uses a lot of symbolism and he’s a master of suspense. I’ve applied some of his techniques to my own writing.

I also enjoy reading classic literature, to discover what made it classic. I started this after an ex-girlfriend told me how shocked she was that I graduated with a theatre degree and wanted to be a writer, but I hadn’t studied much Shakespeare. That challenged me to read more classics and learn from the pros. Not Shakespeare and Jane Austen that she would have considered true classics, but the classic authors that would help me improve, like H.G. Wells and Edgar Allen Poe. Again, some people would dismiss these authors, instead of recognizing that Poe invented the short story and the concept of detective stories, even before Sherlock Holmes, and that H.G. Wells actually dreamed up all the science fiction concepts that are now cliché – time travel, an alien invasion, mutating people and animals, and invisibility – and he did it brilliantly. Those books are still great suspenseful reads.

Do you write your books for your own enjoyment or more for what you think people would want to read? Mainly for myself. I write the kind of stories I would want to read. I love action thrillers and movies, and I was always frustrated when I tried to read an action-adventure novel and found it contained almost no action. I expected an “action” novel to be packed with the same kind of scenes found in action movies.

I use films as my model for writing more than novels, because they do a better job of following the principles of classic storytelling, such as “show, don’t tell”. Movies have no choice but to follow that principle, because you can’t “tell” a movie. You have to show it through action. But many novels detail a character’s life story instead of letting the reader discover those details through action. I want every part of my books to draw the reader along, and I sometimes re-read sections of my stories just for fun. I know it sounds arrogant to enjoy your own work, but why would someone write something they don’t love? To me, writing is like reading your favorite story, except that you’re in control of it.

Which of your characters most reflects your personality? Jack Benjamin, from High Adventure. He’s a cross between Indiana Jones and George Bailey from “It’s a Wonderful Life”, feeling like he’s stuck in life, unable to pursue his own dreams. I’ve felt like that so many times, discouraged at my state in life, the way George Bailey was. But then I ultimately find encouragement, reminding myself that real life isn’t about the big successes but the small ones. Staying loyal to your friends, supporting and protecting your family, living an honest life. It’s easy for me to get caught up in the struggle of publishing success, and forget to spend time with God, with my wife and kids, and with friends. I also have a terrible habit of running late, which I made part of Jack’s character, along with a sense of feeling defeated and trapped in life, not recognizing how much he’s helping others. There’s a part of my personal experience in each of my main characters – times I’ve felt isolated and accused by everyone, felt like a hopeless failure, felt ashamed for how I’ve treated someone or disappointed them. But I think I packed most of my flaws into Jack Benjamin, to culminate his sense of feeling defeated, in spite of his awesome skills.

Which is another way he’s like me. I like to drive fast, and I’m very good at maneuvering through Chicago traffic while staying safe. When I was young and foolish, I drove much faster and more recklessly. I learned in my research that, for a biplane like Jack’s to take off, it had to reach a speed of 80 mph. And I thought, “Heck, I’ve done 80!”

The character I’m least like is Helena Basque – the Red Rider. She’s young, impetuous, daring, and constantly getting in people’s face, with no plan for how to get out of it. Kind of like James Bond, who should be quietly spying in the background instead of walking right up to the head villain and saying, “I think you’re behind all this. Now let’s slug it out.” I love Helena, but she’s a little crazy that way.

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 have a very clear idea of how a story will flow when I start it, with a general outline in my head of most major scenes. However, I discover and create some things as I’m writing. I might have planned to do a scene one way, but when I start to write it and see where the characters are positioned, I realized my initial plan doesn’t work and I have to adjust it.

In The Red Rider, the writing flowed more easily than anything I had ever written. I knew what would happen in every scene – except for the final climactic chapters. I had no idea exactly how it would all end, and it made me nervous, because I had so many great scenes in the book, I needed to create something colossal for the ending, and I had nothing. I toyed with two or three different ways to end it, with different types of battles in different locations. I finally got my climactic chase-battle-showdown that I wanted, and I’m really happy with it. But sometimes, you’ve got nothing, and you need to do the best you can and try to improve on it later.

Find Randall on his website.

Find Randall’s latest release online:

One lucky reader will win a paperback of your choice of either Den, The Red Rider, or High Adventure: The Solomon Ring of Kilimanjaro! Check out the Rafflecopter to see how to enter.
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Interview with Author Karen Jurgens

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 pleased to introduce you to Karen Jurgens! Karen has an amazing story of how God actively affected the plot of her book — read on to see exactly what happened with her most recent release, Desire’s Promise. Speaking of — she is giving away a copy of Desire’s Promise! See the Rafflecopter below to see how to enter to win your copy! And now, please enjoy getting to know Karen Jurgens.

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I was born with a big imagination. Since there were twelve years between my older brother and me, I grew up feeling like an only child. I spent my days different ways–acting out plays about a princess or a bride, playing school and house with my dolls, and devouring books—especially the Bobbsey Twin series. After I learned how to write cursive, I penned my dramatic stories and have been writing ever since. My innate love of English and French sustained me through a teaching career until I retired two years ago, and now I am a full-time author and blogger. I enjoy angling my fiction writing to minister to my readers, offering scriptural answers to life’s trials.

Tell us about your current release. My current novella is Desire’s Promise. Carlie Livingston is steering into her last year of college in Oxford, Ohio, confident that she and Lance Holloway are headed to the altar after graduation. Those plans are wrecked by her dad’s infidelity, causing her parents to walk through a messy divorce. Her mother insists Carlie will have the same fate if she marries her college sweetheart who comes from a secular family.

Carlie decides to put God’s Word to the test by letting Him take the wheel of her life. But if God is in control, why are all her close relationships crumbling?  Nothing makes sense. Just when it appears hopeless, Clay McKinney two-steps into her life, promising to provide everything she’s looking for in a mate. But if he’s God’s answer, why can’t her heart release Lance?

Carlie arrives at an unexpected destination on her journey of trust in Book 1 of the Desire Series.

Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? Yes, I initially felt pressured to compromise the gospel message this book carries. I attempted to gear it to young Christian adults searching for a mate, showing how seeking God’s answer solves the issue. I didn’t want the story to sound “preachy” not to dilute its biblical principles, so I re-wrote a few parts. At one point, I was ready to upload a new edition with a softer gospel, but my browser crashed. Three hours later I was back online, but it was well past midnight. Before shutting my computer down, I checked social media one last time, and that’s when my first review popped up. Five-star. And the most outstanding thing to my reviewer involved the strong gospel thread. As other reviews soon followed, they expressed that my book is unique because it offers real answers that young people need in this generation. That’s when I realized that writing for the Lord means no compromising. I am praying that the Lord will use this story to minister to anyone seeking a godly mate.

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 do some of both. I am a plotter and a pantster. I first map an outline of the entire story’s main plot and characters. But as I create a scene, the characters come alive, like actors on a stage, and show me what they want to say. It’s funny how they become so real to me, even creating their own subplots. If I ever reach an impasse, I give the scene back to the characters. Sometimes we have a tug-of-war. but In the end, everyone is satisfied. There’s never a dull moment when the creative juices are flowing.

What is your personal, most effective way to get past writer’s block? Prayer always comes first because everything I write is for God’s glory, and He is the real author behind the story. Second is physical activity. Whether I am cleaning the house or riding a stationary bike at spin class, my mind relaxes. That’s when the ideas flow, and I can visualize my next scene and how it will play out. If my ideas become stale, prayer and physical activity get them percolating.

Who was your first Screen/Musical Crush? I first fell in love with the most handsome man I’d ever witnessed on-screen. His dark hair, those darling dimples, the way he scrunched his eyes when he gazed into the eyes of his lover. His disarming smile, half-sarcastic, before those passionate kisses. No wonder a girl could practically faint in his arms. Who could it be? Only the charming Rhett Butler in Gone with the Wind. Clark Gable, that handsome devil, has always been my first Screen Crush.

What’s the first major news headline that you can remember and what do you remember? In second grade, my teacher quieted our class so we could hear our principal make an announcement over the intercom. Although we were very young, we learned a new word that day: assassination. Someone rolled a small television on a cart into our classroom, and we watched the live coverage of the news from Dallas. Everyone was shocked to realize that President John F. Kennedy had just lost his life from the bullets of his assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. That day will always live vividly in my memory.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers? Follow your heart; follow your dreams. Follow the Lord’s trail of rose petals as he gives you His words to write. Stay true to Him, and He will guide your work to the eyes that should read your message. Never worry about how many readers or reviews you have; only be concerned with God’s review and that you have done your best to please Him.

Find Karen online!

Twitter, Facebook, Her Blog, Her Website, Her Amazon Page

Find Karen’s latest release!

Enter to win a copy of Karen’s latest release, Desire’s Promise!
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