Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Blogger's Block?

Just got home from th annual harvest party. The kids are wired with candy, their pupils are dilated. I am SO TIRED. Why do we do this to ourselves?

I wonder the same thing as I research an article on writer's block and I come across pages of articles on BLOGGERS BLOCK! Blogger's Block? Why do we do this to ourselves? Computers were supposed to make our lives easier remember?

If I wasn't so tired, I would list some of the best sites instructing you on how to battle blogger's block. So you can google it yourself. That is, if you're blocked.

Tomorrow!

Beth

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Marketing Advice

Tricia Goyer shares some good marketing advice on Can Blog. I haven't read much of this blog but maybe I need to!
If you can only do two things.

Also, consider hiring people (or bribing your kids) to help you. I've hire an assistant to help with my marketing. It's a sacrifice, but deciding to eat in, instead of going out to eat, can pay for quite a few hours of my assistant's time. For me, doing my best involves seeking help from others.
Beth

Are you Addicted?



Do you feel preoccupied with the Internet (think about previous online activity or anticipate next online session)?

Do you feel the need to use the Internet with increasing amounts of time in order to achieve satisfaction?

Do you feel restless, moody, depressed, or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop Internet use?

Have you lied to family members, therapist, or others to conceal the extent of involvement with the Internet?

Do you use the Internet as a way of escaping from problems or of relieving a dysphoric mood (e.g., feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)?

If you answered "yes" . . .well, you'll just have to read the rest of the article at The Center for Internet Addition Recovery.

Scary, huh?

*****************

I plan to post a review of Lorena McCourtney's Your Chariot Awaits. Loved the book! The writing was pure joy. I'll share some of that with you in the review. On November 7th, I'm in a blog tour for Sandra Glahn.

Finished two proposals this week! Yippee!

Sunday, October 28, 2007

CFBA: The Return



This week, the

Christian Fiction Blog Alliance

is introducing


THE RETURN

(Navpress Publishing Group July 13, 2007)

by

Austin Boyd

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Austin Boyd writes from his experience as a decorated Navy pilot, spacecraft engineer and an astronaut candidate finalist. Austin lives with his wife Cindy and four children in America’s “Rocket City”--Huntsville, Alabama, where he directs business development for a large NASA and defense contractor. His creative talents include inspirational fiction and poetry, finely crafted reproduction colonial furniture, archery and long distance cycling. He serves his community as an advocate for a crisis pregnancy center and as a motivational speaker in the area of lifestyle evangelism.

THE RETURN is part of the Mars Hill Classified Series with The Evidence and The Proof

ABOUT THE BOOK:

IS SEEING BELIEVING?

Six years after completing a manned mission to the Red Planet, Admiral John Wells is set to make another journey to Mars. But this time his crew is not alone, as John's team encounters a secret colony comprised of individuals pursuing John Raines' strange religion, the "Father Race."

While John begins to uncover a web of lies on Mars, his wife and daughter are struggling for survival on earth. Now John must survive his dangerous mission and find a way back home, even as a shocking plan begins to unfold millions of miles away on earth.

Austin Boyd is back with his third thrilling novel in the Mars Hill Classified series, full of high-tech intrigue, memorable characters, and adventure that transports readers to another world.

From the Back Cover:

With nothing left for him on Earth, Rear Admiral John Wells didn't hesitate to lead a third NASA team to Mars, but he never dreamed that one day they'd look out their laboratory module into the lights of a slow-moving vehicle not their own. In the third installment of the Mars Hill Classified series, life on Mars becomes increasingly more unpredictable as the past collides with the future and nothing, not even the dead, is as it seems.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, the fate of hundreds, including John Wells' family--presumed dead these last six years--rests precariously in the hands of Malcolm Raines, self-proclaimed Guardian of the Mother Seed and Principal Cleric of Saint Michael's Remnant, and his insidious plans for the Father Race.

Wells will find himself in a race against time and all odds to expose the truth: about Mars, about Malcolm Raines, and, if he's very brave, about himself.

"Austin Boyd is one of the brightest new voices in Christian fiction. His long association with the space program lends authenticity as he reveals the turmoil in the minds and hearts of those who are willing to risk everything by making that journey. In The Return, we learn that both human emotions and God's presence reach far beyond the pull of Earth's gravity."
--Richard L Mabry, author of The Tender Scar



Thursday, October 25, 2007

CFBA Tour: Illuminated


August Adams has failed his family before. He's sacrificed relationships in pursuit of adventure, fame, and money. Now the very lives of those he loves depend on his ability to decipher a centuries-old puzzle encrypted in the colorful hand-painted illuminations that adorn three rare Gutenberg Bibles.

It's a secret that could yield unimaginable wealth, undermine two major religions, and change the course of Western civilization. Two ruthless, ancient organizations are willing to do anything to get their hands on it. And August has the span of one transatlantic flight to figure it out.

If he fails, those he holds most dear will die. If he succeeds, he'll destroy a national treasure.

The clock ticks, the suspense mounts, and the body count rises as August pits his
knowledge and his love for his family against the clock, secret societies, and even Johannes Gutenberg himself.

"...this rare breed of suspense thriller combines mysterious hidden clues, secret societies, buried treasure, double agents, and the Knights Templar...if you turned National Treasure into international treasure, traded DaVinci codes for Gutenberg Bibles, married it to Indiana Jones, and added the pacing of 24 you'd be in the neighborhood of Illuminated...on a scale of one to 10, this one goes to 11."
-Aspiring Retail Magazine

You can buy the book here.
____________________________________________________________

I'm going to share something personal here. I didn't join CFBA in time to receive this book, but I wanted to post on it anyway. I bought it immediately. Never done that before. As soon as I saw the premise of the story, I wanted to drop to my knees and scream. Let's just say that maybe I did, in fact, do that. The reason? Well, if you've been writing for long you may have already guessed because you've experienced the same thing.

This was supposed to be MY story. My book. I've been percolating my idea and collecting and researching to write a very similar book and in fact, I'm reading Dan Brown books because I love his style! This is not the first time this has happened, nor will it be the last. Have you worked on a project only to see it in bookstores before you finished by another author? One might say that I should have been faster to write it. I have a friend who has written her books and they're circulating with publishers right now, and books are coming onto the market with the same premise and characters.

God knew of course, even as I prayed about my idea, that this book by Matt Bronleewe was already in the works. So I have to trust that Matt was the best person to write this book and that mine would be a far different story anyway.

Someone once told me it was like God sprinkles his ideas to a few people in the world, and then the first one to the finish line wins.

So I'm taking a poll (if I can figure out how to do it). Do you think I should write my story anyway, or fogeddaboudit. If I can figure out how to post the poll thing on the sidebar, you can do that. Otherwise just comment:) Imagine that Flood is playing now by Jars of Clay.

Beth

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

The new book cover is here!!!!


It's finally here. I received the revised book cover of my first book today. I present to you HP # 777. (and it's an awfully kewl number!)

Monday, October 22, 2007

Reviews, Book covers, and blog tours

Today begins the CSFF blog tour for Jonathan Rogers. I hadn't planned to participate in this one, but here I am posting anyway. The Bark of the Blog Owl. You can start at Becky Miller's blog. (her link below is Rebecca Luella Miller)

I have several book reviews to post here. Look for those as well as some upcoming interviews.

I've been anxiously awaiting my book cover so that I can promote and market my book more effectively. But it wasn't quite right, so they're making a few changes. And I've redone my website for the bazillionth time! (is that even a word?) Still working on it. I plan to add a personal blog to the site. I'd love to hear your opinion.

Revell sent me several of their Christmas titles to review today. Are the holidays already upon us?

In the meantime, I'm working on three anthology projects, a cozy mystery proposal, and another romance proposal for Barbour. All of this before I can get to three others that are waiting my attention.

Thanks for bearing with me through this personal update between interviews.

Blessings!
Beth

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Winner of Never Ceese is. .

. . .Jane Richer. Congratulations Jane! Now, if anyone knows how to contact Jane please have her get in touch with me and Sue Dent.

This has been great fun this week. Sue has a lot of fans so I'll have to have her back soon.

Have a great weekend!

Beth

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Book Giveaway and other news

I've given into pressure to give away one of the two copies of Never Ceese today! I use a very scientific method of selecting book winners. My daughter picks a number between. The winner of the first copy of Sue Dent's Never Ceese is Deena! Deena who are you and where do you live? LOL. You will need to contact me with your email and snail mail address.

You still have time to post a comment to win the last copy of Never Ceese.

The next few weeks are going to be very busy with blog tours for Sandra Glahn, Tricia Goyer and Stephen Lawhead. I'm hoping to have another interview available with Mr. Lawhead regarding his latest release, Scarlet.

If you'd like to read my previous interview with him last year click on http://favoritepastimes.blogspot.com/2006_09_01_archive.html.

Blessings!
Beth

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Vampires, Werewolves. . .Sue Dent! An interview

You have two opportunities to win a copy of Sue's book, Never Ceese if you post a comment. Or you can Buy This Book.

BG: Tell us about your life, where you grew up, your interests and hobbies.

SD: I’m a very creative individual and always have been. I enjoyed drawing from an early age. No, I craved it. Had to do it. I pursued this all through high school and decided to major in Fine Arts. I was lured away from art for a short stint and went into computers. Oddly enough, I use those now for my art and writing. Odd how that worked out. I graduated from Mississippi College with a degree in Business and a concentration in Data Processing. My last official job was with the Department of Natural Resources in Jackson, Mississippi where they created a position for me as a Technical Specialist IV. This is where the writing bug bit. During slow times, I would write, (yes, at work! Hey, I said slow times. LOL) Eventually this carried over into writing at home and then carrying a laptop around to write in other places as well. I’d found a new way to express my creativity and I loved it.

I also played professional Foosball for a while and even toured but that’s a whole ‘nuther story.

BG: Tell us about your writing journey. Did you always want to be a writer?

SD: I wouldn’t say I always wanted to be a writer. I’ve always enjoyed writing as much as I enjoy art. But writing is my focus now. It’s not messy nor hard to clean up. After I had the third story bouncing around in my head, I decided I might try to publish something so others could enjoy. I had no idea how the publishing process worked but I was willing to try and figure it out.

BG: Who has influenced you most as a writer and why?

SD:I guess John Grisham because his story telling ability really got me back into wanting to get something out there. Oddly enough, I lived down the street from his law office in Southaven, Mississippi, just as his second book was coming out. Guess I missed my opportunity to run up there and have a chat with him. LOL I did get a picture with him at a local book signing as he used to come to Jackson often. Other than Mr. Grisham, I suppose Roger Zelazney, Piers Anthony, Philip Jose Farmer to name a few.

BG:What is your favorite movie? Favorite book?

SD: Before Pirates of the Caribbean? Was there anything before Pirates? LOL *doing my best Capn’ Barbosa impression, “What arrrrrrrrr ya doin!?”
Favorite book? I absolutely love the Chronicles of Amber series by Roger Zelazny. Yes, I know that’s more than one book.
.
BG: Vampires and Werewolves, this is something new in Christian fiction. Can you share how you take what are typically evil characters and create stories of redemption.

SD: Okay, first off, I don’t believe vampires and werewolf’s are new to Christian fiction. There are tons of Christians I know who write and have written about vampires and werewolves and monsters and zombies etc . . . In that respect, there are already many Christian vampire and werewolf fiction novels out there.

What there isn’t, however, is a recognition of the genre as such, with “that” genre referring to Christian Speculative Fiction. There are a few stories on Christian bookstore shelves today that fit this genre but the genre itself is still very new. There are MANY Christian Speculative Fiction books on secular bookstore shelves, however, they’re just not called such.
I’m glad that readers are waking up and realizing that these novels exist, because the more they respond, the more likely authors like myself can get into more places, including Christian bookstores.

Sci-fi, Fantasy and Horror are all big markets but most writers don’t understand how to write GOD into the stories. Ironically, they’ve got the Satan part down pretty good. If I can help show it can be done, then I feel like I’ve done something. Vampires and werewolves, zombies, aliens, dragons, just another way for Christian to spread the news. Eric Wilson will have a vampire trilogy coming out this next year from Thomas-Nelson! I find this exciting.

BG: Tell us about your latest release.

SD: Forever Richard is the sequel to Never Ceese. I couldn’t finish Never Ceese in a word count most small publishers would accept from a debut author so I risked leaving Never Ceese hanging. You can read more about the premise of Forever Richard at
www.ForeverRichard.com

The site was set up for me by my new publisher The Writers CafĂ© Press. I cannot tell you how excited I am about working with this company. We’re holding our breath for an October 31st release but I won’t compromise quality to meet that deadline. We’re currently in the editing stages.

BG: What is the message you hope to get across in this novel?

SD: The same message I hope to get across in all my stories. That you can write a good novel in any genre without compromising who you are or what you believe.

BG: Can you share about your experience with small publishers and how you’ve found success?

SD: Yikes! Have I found success? I did find a publisher. With my professionally edited MS, I targeted any publisher or agent at WritersMarket.com that would accept an email query. I tried this first without a professional query letter or synopsis. If you want to know the difference this made, just count my rejection e-mails. Without the extraordinarily well-written query and synopsis, not one bite. With the extraordinarily well-written query and synopsis, a positive response ten minutes after I sent the second proposal out. “Intriguing,” it read. “Can we see the entire MS?”

Now before you go thinking JK Rowling success, nothing happened for me with this publisher until after I self-published and started trying to sell the book on my own with an ISBN I bought from Bowker all with my potential publisher knowing what I was doing. When I realized, after about six months, that the only way I was going to be able to get into bookstores was with a publisher, I called them back and asked if maybe I could say we were working together. I needed their wholesalers and distributors. This is when they offered me a contract and printed 5000 books.

Still, 95% of the publicity and promoting was done by me and that’s not a bad thing. That’s the ONLY way your book is going to sell. EVER!
I hear so many people say, “if J.K. Rowling can do it, so can I.” I’d like to take the opportunity to point out something very important here; J.K. Rowling is an exception, not an example. I suppose I could win the lottery too if the odds were better.

BG: You have an aggressive appearance schedule. What does your typical day look like?

SD: Whew! I thought you were going to say I had an aggressive appearance! :0 Okay, so the avatar I usually use is pretty aggressive looking, I’ll give you that. But my schedule is pretty lame. Right now, I’m trying to type till my fingers fall off. I have several readers who keep at me about this. LOL (E.J. put that whip down.) They’re ready for the sequel, not to mention my publisher who keeps saying, Sue, you do realize it’s October. ☺. Oh, but I was invited by Nicholas Grabowsky, author of Halloween IV, to the World Horror Convention this past March in Toronto Canada where there were several Christian Writers giving forums. One on Zombies! I didn’t make it to the forum but I understand his novel is up for a Stoker this year. It was so nice to go to an event like this and meet other like-minded authors, including Nicholas who did an excellent review of Never Ceese.

I also had the pleasure of selling my books at the FaithWriters conference this past August in Detroit. I play around a lot on the forums there and so enjoyed meeting all my friends. I sold out of everything I brought.

And then there was the book signing in Vestal New York with Bryan Davis that Kevin Lucia set up.
Okay, I guess that’s pretty aggressive and it pulls on my finances to do many of these events since I pretty much have to pay to get there and back. That’s hard to deal with sometimes when one realizes that an author pretty much doesn’t make any money back on their books until after they get the third or fourth one moving. By the way, moving means selling. Soooooooo . . . help me!

BG: Do you credit your book tours with your success?

SD: I credit a professionally edited MS and of course God, for my success. You have to have something to sell. My goodness! I don’t care how many tours you do, or how many blogs you write, if you have nothing to offer, people are eventually going to catch on. Now the book tours were definitely good, don’t get me wrong but I NEVER would’ve attempted one without a product I could depend on. I’d never written a book. I didn’t know what publishers were looking for. My editor did and I learned sooooooo much from her.

BG: What do you believe is the most important thing an author can do to catch an editor’s eye?

SD: Sick of hearing it yet? Have your MS professionally edited. Other than that, I wasn’t trying to catch an editor’s eye. The title “Editor” used in this instance, referring to an acquisition editor, was very confusing to me. I kept thinking, “huh, I paid an editor so I could get an editor to pay attention to my MS?” Well, yes, but an acquisition editor. There is a difference. I think acquisition editors should come up with a new title. LOL This is VERY confusing. But yes, they need to see the best you have to offer ESPECIALLY if it is your first attempt at getting published.

People like to ignore this step or avoid it altogether. Some simply say they don’t have the funds to pay a professional editor. Well, guess what, your competition is going in with a professionally edited MS and theirs is the one that’s going to get picked up. It’s a bigger turn around for the publisher and small publishers like that. Plus, it lets them know you’re serious about your work. Once you get a publisher, they pretty much have their own editors. YaY!
And here’s another learned lesson, the edits that PODs offer are not considered professional no matter how they represent it. Typically, they do a line by line proofread. Again, this is where I often see the J.K. Rowling flag flown high. Yes, J.K. Rowling is quite the wonder isn’t she? Able to self-edit well enough so that her reader isn’t distracted. Bravo but I’ll hold on to my lottery ticket thank-you!
Again, an exception not an example.

BG: What would you say was the toughest part of the writing craft for you to learn? Any tips for others who struggle with this same element?

SD: How to “know” when you “know” what you’re supposed to “know.” I’d say I had a tough time with POV but I just didn’t understand what it was at first. I read about it, listened to my editor, got it and no longer have problems with it. Thank-you so much Arlene and now, Cynthia. Show-not-tell was also difficult. Now I have great fun with this. Everyone tells me dialogue is my strongpoint but you were asking for the toughest part. LOL I’m sorry, writing is just not tough for me. If it were tough, I probably wouldn’t do it.

BG: Any marketing tips?

SD: Well, and this is going to sound strange but when I have a product I’m excited about, I want to tell everyone! When you have a good product, it can almost sell itself. Note the word almost. You do have to do a little work. I submitted to awards when I got brave enough. Submitting for a Bram Stoker worked out really well considering I didn’t expect anything to happen. Honestly, I don’t know what I did to get out there as much as I’m out there. I did deliberately do a few things but my goodness, I’m showing up everywhere. God is good! Maybe that was it! LOL

BG: I can feel your excitement in this interview! Closing thoughts you’d like to share?

SD: This genre is so needed in the Christian market place. So many good Christian teens are being drawn away by the alternative. The writers of this genre have so much heart. There is no better genre equipped to deal with the subject of good and evil. Ultimately, it is up to you to make sure we stick around.

Visit Sue's Blog: http://www.suedent.blogspot.com/
Or the Never Ceese Website: http://www.neverceese.com/

Thank you so much, Sue, for this interview. Very interesting stuff!

Blessings!
Beth

Friday, October 12, 2007

Book Winners!

Congratulations to C. Gwynn for winning a copy of Remembered by Tamera Alexander and to Lacy Williams for winning a copy of Who Am I? from Lena Nelson Dooley!

Blessings!
Beth

The Cozy Feeling of Murder and Mayhem

Let's face it. The only place where you can find humor in murder and mayhem is in a cozy mystery. Strictly speaking, there are many types of mysteries. But I'm referring to the sort that displays humorous antics and quirky characters. Jumble these together with a body, a collage of suspects, and you have yourself a cozy mystery.

For years I've been writing suspense-laden material whether a historical novel or a contemporary romance?they've all contained an element of suspense. But right now, I'm making the big leap from suspense to a cozy mystery. You'd think it would be an easy transition.

Not so. It's a completely different animal. There's a tremendous learning curve.

To read the rest of the article visit the

Keep Me in Suspense Website.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

A Few Questions for Lena Nelson Dooley


The first year I seriously began writing fiction, I attended my first writer's conference. There I roomed with Lena Dooley--a gift from God. Lena's been a dear friend and mentor to me since then. As the Lord would have it, my first book contract came in a three book proposal with Lena and Lisa Harris, two of my closest writing friends.

I'm honored to interview her today. The first book in our Massachusetts Weddings series releases this month with Heartsong Presents--Who Am I? By Lena Nelson Dooley.


BG: Tell us about your life, where you grew up, your interests and hobbies.

LD: I lived in Arkansas until I was 20 years old. My family moved to Texas, and when they moved on to another state, I stayed. My father was a fish culturist—one of the foremost authorities on raising channel catfish. So I spent most of my formative years out in the country on fish farms.

BG: Tell us about your writing journey.

LD: God told me to become a professional writer in 1984. You can read the testimony on the main page of my web site. www.lenanelsondooley.com I finished my first novel in January 1985. It took until 1992 to get it published. During that time I was learning a lot. Since 1992, I’ve had 15 book releases.

BG: Who has influenced you most as a writer and why?

LD: I’ve learned from so many people, it would be hard to name them, but my greatest influence is the Lord. He’s led me every step of the way.

BG: What is your favorite movie?

LD: I love romantic movies, and I love princess movies. The Princess Bride, Ever After, Cinderella (the multi-cultural one)

BG: How do you write in so many different genres?

LD: God gave me an imagination that takes me lots of places. I know that many people write in only one genre that fits their brand. My brand is: Characters Who Grip Your Heart. That’s why writing different genres works for me.

BG: Tell us about your latest book.

LD: Who Am I? is a contemporary romance with a touch of suspense. The heroine finds out after her mother dies that many things she’d been told all her life weren’t necessarily true. She goes on a search to find out who she really is.

BG: What is the message you hope to get across in this story?

LD: So many people try to gain their worth from so many external things. However, it’s only when we know who God created us to be that we truly have worth.

BG: You have 17 book releases now. Which is your favorite and why?

LD: I’ve been asked this before. I’ve laughingly answered, “The one I’m working on right now.” It’s hard for me to choose. I love the series repackaged as Minnesota Brothers. The ideas for some of the stories came from my family background. And writing Pirate’s Prize was so much fun. The book has been out over two years and is still going strong. All of the novella collections have been fun, especially the new one Montana Mistletoe which is my first Christmas collection.

BG: What are your future writing plans?

LD: I was at the ACFW national conference in September. My husband and I went out to eat with my agent, and Joyce and I discussed where we will go from here. I’m going to be branching out even more. A women’s fiction, another historical series, a cozy mystery, and other things. I’m excited about the future.

BG: What does your typical day look like?

LD: I like to spend at least six to eight hours a day at the computer writing. I do that four, five, or six days a week, according to whether I have a deadline or not. When I don’t, I have a little freedom to do other things—do things with daughters or granddaughters, meet friends for lunch, things like that.

BG: What tips do you believe are the most important writing tips?

LD: If you are a writer, you should write. That’s what writers do. Of course, I believe it is essential that a writer read. Read the kind of books you want to write, so you can see what is being published. Connect with other authors and learn all you can from them. I often point a beginning writer to American Christian Fiction Writers. There’s so much help available through this organization.

BG: Any marketing tips?

LD: Marketing is another facet of the author’s life. It’s important that the author partner with their publisher and even establish a presence of their own. I highly recommend the Internet. That’s where so many go these days. Start a blog that does something, not just random thoughts. Give the readers a reason to return and bring their friends. Join an online community. I write Christian fiction, so I’ve joined Shoutlife.com. But joining is not enough. Actively seek to add to your friends list. Then when you have an announcement, lots of people see it.

BG: Closing thoughts you’d like to share?

LD: I believe that God creates people to be writers. If you can connect words to make interesting sentences and articles or stories, God created you to be a writer. He does want you to learn the skills that make your words more powerful. In Second Timothy 2:15, we’re told, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Every writer/author needs to do that.

Thank you, Beth for having me. I’d like to invite your readers to not only visit my web site, but to also come by http://lenanelsondooley.blogspot.com where I interview other authors about their books and www.shoutlife.com/lenanelsondooley where I blog book reviews.

Thanks so much Lena!

If you'd like to be entered in a drawing to win Lena's book Who Am I? released this October, please comment.

Blessings!
Beth

Sunday, October 07, 2007

I got my copy!


. . . of Lorena McCourtney's new book, that is--Your Chariot Awaits: An Andi McConnell Mystery. Dear Lorena brought it to me at church this morning. That's right, I'm privileged to live in the same town with her:)

I can't wait to read this new series. Here's the back cover blurb.

A new "cozy mystery" series featuring a woman and her limousine!

In the course of one week, Andi McConnell turns 60, loses her job due to a merger, breaks up with her boyfriend, inherits a limousine, and then the body of her ex-boyfriend is discovered in the trunk.

Andi begins a diligent--if often bumbling and humorous--attempt to locate the killer. If nothing else, she'll keep the cops from trying to blame it on her. Throw in the friendship and assistance of Fitz, a former TV private eye, and this one-time insurance agent turned sleuth is the perfect combination of fun and mystery.


You can read the first chapter a here.

Be sure to check back to read the book review and an interview with Lorena!

Beth

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Thursday, October 04, 2007

A Few Questions for Tamera Alexander


BG: Tell us about your life, where you grew up, your interests and hobbies.

TA: I was born Georgia and grew up in Tucker (near Stone Mountain) and lived in the same house—with lots of stability and love—until I left for college. I’ve always enjoyed to read (as you might expect) and would spend hours alone in “those fiction worlds” imagining myself as the characters and living their adventures. I’ve always been detail oriented and when I was a girl, I actually cataloged every book in my library with the Dewey Decimal system and inserted check out cards into all of them. Apparently I had lots of time on my hands…

BG: Tell us about your writing journey. Did you always want to be a writer?

TA: I’ve always loved writing and dreamed of being a writer when younger, but never thought I had any talent at it. So I tucked it away…until God unearthed it again a few years back.

The first novel I wrote in 1999 is one I targeted specifically for Bethany House and their historical line. It got to the final review board but then was ultimately “passed over” in early 2002. There were problems in that novel and in my writing that I needed to work on, so they were right to let that one slip through their fingers! After that experience, I realized that if I was going to have a good shot at this publishing thing, I needed to get serious about learning the craft and addressing the weaknesses in my writing.

I joined American Christian Fiction Writers (HUGE for me!), and began dissecting novels—books that I’d loved and read multiple times—with the goal of finding out what made them ‘tick’ for me. I prayed that God would bring people into my life who would help me become a better writer by telling me what I needed to change, how I needed to grow. And He did. I’m so thankful for those writing partnerships.

BG: Who has influenced you most as a writer and why?

TA: Several people, some of whom I’ve never met (other writers), have inspired me. But one person whom I did know and who influenced me in a lasting way was my 7th grade teacher, Miss Debra Ackey of Idlewood Elementary School in Tucker, Georgia. In fact, I dedicated my second book, Revealed, to her with hopes that a copy of that book will some day find its way into her hands.

Debra Ackey encouraged my writing in what proved to be a very difficult time in my life. I was sexually abused as a young girl (my perpetrator was not someone from my immediate family nor a blood relation), and I was dealing with a lot of guilt, doubt, and repressed anger during those years. Writing served as an outlet for me.

Looking back at the stories and poems I wrote during those years, it’s easy to see that I was obsessed with death, and the source of those feelings isn’t hard to understand. With God’s strength and mercy, I’ve long forgiven the person who abused me, and I’ve thanked God often for placing Miss Ackey in my life at that time. She read so many (what I’m certain were) horrible poems on death and dying, and encouraged me anyway. She reached through the pain I was dealing with, past the ugliness I felt steeped in, and she breathed new life into my dry bones. I pray she’ll one day know just how much she did for me.

BG: What is your favorite movie? Favorite book?

TA: Sound of Music is my favorite “classic.”

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers is a special book in my life. It changed the way I view God and his love for me. Never before have I ever seen his unconditional love so clearly.

BG: Can you share about your new historical series?

TA: My next book (From a Distance) will be out in spring 2008 and it’s the first book in a new three-part Colorado Territory historical series with Bethany House. New characters, new town, new plots! Each book will tell the story of a woman who was first in her field or career. Elizabeth Westbrook is the heroine in From a Distance and she’s the first female photographer/journalist to travel and photograph the western territories.

You can check my website (www.tameraalexander.com) for a sneak peek of the cover (which we’re designing now) as soon as Bethany House has it ready!

BG: How does the creative process for developing a series like this work as a Bethany House author?

TA: I usually work on the overall series idea on my own then bring it to them and we discuss, just to make sure that four of their other historical authors aren’t doing the same thing. Editors are wonderful brainstormers. I love that part of the process.

BG: What is the message you hope to get across in this story? In the series?

TA: Themes always grow throughout the book for me. I often don’t know the exact theme(s) until I’m well into the story. Theme grows out of character motivation and subsequent experiences. In Remembered, a definite theme is that God works all things—both the ‘good’ and ‘bad’—for the ultimate and eternal good of the believer.

A second theme is similar in that God’s ways and thoughts (his plans for my life) are higher than my own. Rarely do I understand them or grasp what he’s doing at the time, much less down the road. I don’t have his perspective, his wisdom. Part of maturing, part of growing in my faith is learning that His ways are always better than my own. Not sometimes better, not most of the time better, but always—regardless of whether I understand them or not.

BG: What does your typical day look like?

TA: Up by 6:30 and at my desk by 8:00, dressed* and ready to go. I answer email then at 9:00 I typically “turn off email” and write. In a regular writing day, I’ll write 6 to 8 hours per day. When I’m on deadline and that “line where I’ll surely die if I don’t finish” is approaching, I can write up to 15 hours per day. But that is ONLY on deadline. Shoot me now if that were my regular day. ;)

*Okay, dressed may mean exercise pants and t-shirt, but still, I usually do “clean up” before starting to work.

BG: What do you believe is the most important thing an author can do to catch an editor’s eye?

TA: See the answer to Marketing tips below. Also, do your homework as to which houses are accepting what genres. Don’t waste your time (or theirs) by submitting a historical romance or sci-fi if that particular house isn’t acquiring those genres.

BG: What would you say was the toughest part of the writing craft for you to learn? Any tips for others who struggle with this same element?

TA: My first novel was rejected for plot pacing problems and character motivation problems—two things I set about to learn after that first rejection. And now (oddly enough) those two things are often mentioned by reviewers as strengths in my writing. But they weren’t at first.

I’ve got a list of books on my website (www.tameraalaxander.com) that I recommend for writers, and I also encourage writers to dissect novels. Pick them apart. Pay attention and learn from “that man (or woman) behind the curtain,” as Dorothy might say in Oz. I recently taught a workshop at ACFW on Dissecting Novels. I’ve learned so much from simply reading great novels and finding out what makes them that way.

BG: Any marketing tips?

TA: Write the very best book you can with where you are right now. A story that people will talk about. Word of mouth is still the best marketing tool around. Period.

BG: Closing thoughts you’d like to share?

TA: A verse that God is etching on my heart these days is found in II Corinthians 4:7 – But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

God has given us this treasure—a relationship with him, a promise of an eternity with him—in jars of clay, in broken, marred vessels in order to show that the transcendent power comes from him. It may flow through us, praise his name!, but it originates in the heart of the Giver. Not in the one gifted.

Our gifts, however imperfect and weak, are given to reflect his glory and are made “perfect” when we give ourselves and those gifts over to him. There’s no end to what God can do with someone who makes themselves totally available to him—something that’s easier written than done.

Thanks for the chat, Beth! Wonderful to be here.

Thank you, Tammy, so much for sharing with us!

Also, don't pass up the opportunity to win a autographed boxed set of the Fountain Creek Chronicles in time for Christmas. Go to http://www.tameraalexander.com/contest_gift_set.cfm

You have another opportunity to win here at my blog. Just comment to be entered into my drawing for a book from Tamera Alexander.

Be sure to check back for upcoming interviews with Sue Dent and Lena Nelson Dooley!

Blessings!
Beth
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