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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 Heather Day Gilbert 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 my friend Heather Day Gilbert as my guest. Heather and I have crossed paths in the publishing world for several years now. I love that she writes about Vikings – because they’re a part of my heritage, too. Read on to see how you can enter to win a copy of Heather’s latest release!

Tell us a little bit about yourself. I’m a mom of four, and three of them are in college this year! Talk about an empty nest. But we have a five-year old who will be home for many years to come! 😉 I’ve been an author for over ten years, and I’ve had five agents (six, if you count that I had two at once). So I’ve been in the writer world for a while now. I have eleven books out—five mysteries, two romantic suspense, three Viking historicals, and a nonfiction book on independent publishing.

Heather Day Gilbert, an ECPA Christy award finalist and Grace award winner, writes contemporary mysteries and Viking historicals. Her novels feature small towns, family relationships, and women who aren’t afraid to protect those they love. Like Belinda Blake, Heather plays video games, although so far she hasn’t done any exotic pet-sitting or hunted any murderers.

Tell us about your current release. My latest release (October 1) was Book 2 in the Exotic Pet-Sitter cozy mystery series, Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing. This series features an amateur sleuth who pet-sits exotic pets and reviews video games for a living. This book is set at a fictional wolf preserve in Greenwich, Connecticut, as well as at Belinda’s parents’ home in Upstate New York. This cozy mystery series has been so much fun to write and it just makes me happy. 🙂 I feel I’ve kind of found my writer “niche” with cozy mysteries, because I love developing characters while having a mystery to solve (I’m a HUGE Agatha Christie fan).

Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? Now that I’m writing for a mainstream publisher, I’ve had to think through how I approach my books (which hitherto have been Christian fiction). It really hasn’t been a far stretch for me to move into the mainstream world, because my books are still clean reads, with no cursing/sex or graphic stuff, and I’ve never quite “fit” into the Christian fiction world, where readers expect a heavier-handed Christian message. I love classics, and that’s kind of what I’m shooting for with all my books—an exploration of good and evil (with mysteries, in particular), with a strong moral tone. For instance, in my Exotic Pet-Sitter mysteries, the single main character doesn’t sleep around or live with a guy. I felt that was important to show that YES, some single women DO live that way. LOL! And she has a supportive family, which is often lacking with those angst-ridden amateur sleuths. Belinda is NOT an angst-ridden character! 🙂

What do you think is lacking in Christian Fiction? Christian fiction has come a long way as far as portraying realistic situations, but I’d love to see even MORE fiction focused on married couples, issues with teens, drugs, infidelity, divorce, etc. approached in a biblical way. Foster care is another huge topic that’s hardly touched in Christian fiction.

Do you write your books for your own enjoyment or more for what you think people would want to read? It’s a mixture of both. For my Viking novels, I wanted to tell the stories of these real Viking women who sailed to North America, largely because that’s part of my heritage. For my mysteries, I definitely write with a reader in mind, but I also write something that needs to come together neatly with a murderer who might surprise even me. Speaking of which…

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 submitted an extended synopsis (the entire plotline of the book) to my publisher and then I’ve completely changed whodunit as I wrote the book. I like to be surprised by the villain and in that particular case, the villain was too obvious, so I switched it. That meant I had to go in and rearrange clues/hints, but in the end, it all fell together nicely (Belinda Blake and the Snake in the Grass). I love surprising myself as I write…and really, it’s not me. The CHARACTERS surprise me.

What is one thing that you “never saw yourself doing” and either do it now or have done? I’m sure many moms have said they’ll never homeschool, then they wind up doing it. I thought I couldn’t, but then I read Lisa Whelchel’s So You’re Thinking About Homeschooling book, and it really shifted my perspective of what homeschooling methods could look like. I realized yes, I could do this, and I did wind up homeschooling my three oldest for years, one of them all the way from kindergarten through her senior year. But it’s not for everyone. It’s important to pray each year about the best choice for each child, I believe. Same thing with colleges.

Here is where you can find Heather online:

Website: http://heatherdaygilbert.com

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/heatherdaygilbert

Twitter: @heatherdgilbert

Instagram: @heatherdaygilbert

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7232683.Heather_Day_Gilbert

E-Mail: heatherdaygilbert (at) gmail (dot) com 

Heather is giving away a copy of Belinda Blake and the Wolf in Sheeps Clothing to a reader! See below how to enter to win: a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday Morning Chat 2/5/18 – Writing Suspense Series

Hello! Welcome to Monday morning coffee and chat!

I really appreciate all of the questions that I get from my readers. Today I’m answering the question:

“Will you ever write another series like the Song of Suspense Series?”

I hope you learn more about me as a writer through my response:

 

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