Thursday, December 27, 2007

It Finally Came!!!


What a wonderful Christmas Present! My first book, Seasons of Love, finally arrived yesterday. My grandmother was there and received my first signed copy. I hope you're Christmas was as wonderful as mine.

See you next year.

Blessings!
Beth

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

A Few Questions for Sharon Hinck


If you're on my newsletter mailing list, you've already seen my interview with Sharon Hinck. I'm sharing it again here.

I'm honored to have author Sharon Hinck answer a few questions about one of her two upcoming releases, Symphony of Secrets.

Beth: Tell us about your newest release, Symphony of Secrets.

Sharon: I'm very excited about this story. It's a new contemporary fiction coming out with Bethany House Publishing and was oodles of fun to write. It's got a single-mom/teen-daughter relationship with a bit of a Gilmore Girl vibe, some light mystery, a hint of romance, and it's set in the professional orchestra world. Amy was a fun character to write - an obsessed musician with some ugly secrets, few people skills, whose only god is music - but she made me root for her. And I loved watching how God wooed her through the beauty of music.

Here's a summary: "Talented flutist Amy Johnson's dreams come true when she wins a spot
with the Minneapolis Symphony. But this amateur sleuth has trouble concentrating on the notes as she begins to see devious motives behind her fellow musicians' many mishaps. Meanwhile, her musically talented daughter wants to give it all up for-gasp-the cheerleading squad! What's a musical mom to do? Can Amy fine-tune her investigation before the symphony is forced to close and she loses not only her dream job but her promising new relationship with its conductor?"

Beth: Are you musically gifted? What was your inspiration for this story?

Sharon: I play piano, guitar, and a very bad clarinet. Was a church organist for some years (studied pipe organ in college), sang with a variety of groups, deepened my crush on my hubby when we sat next to each other in high school band (although he switched to saxophone) and have always appreciated the power of classical orchestral music. So when I wanted an interesting career for my character, professional music was something I understood. Amy shares the neurotic-artist tendencies I'm so familiar with, as well as the passion to create something of beauty. I've also always loved Dorothy Gillman's Mrs. Pollifax books (a retired garden-club woman joins the CIA) and Jill Churchill's Jane Jeffrey novels (a suburban mom solves murders) so I thought it would be fun to make Amy a bit of an arm-chair detective (at least in her own mind). It made for a fun combination.

Beth: To date, most of your books have all been from a mom's point of view. Do you see that changing in the future and if so, how?

Sharon: I love exploring the heroic in people the world considers "ordinary" - like moms. So many of my protagonists have been moms. The Becky Miller books focused on the specific challenges women face in our culture (although I've heard from men who related to the depiction of family life, too). The Restorer's heroine was a mom; however, her journey wasn't about her family life. In The Restorer's Son, the main protag is a single man, and in The Restorer's Journey, the protagonist is a college age youth. In Symphony of Secrets I'm back to exploring a parenting relationship - but the dynamics of a young single mom with a teen daughter are an interesting new twist. Stepping Into Sunlight (a fall 2008 Bethany house contemporary fiction) again includes a woman who is a wife and mom. Those roles add extra challenges and conflict to the struggles the heroine faces.

Beth: What do your kiddoes think of their famous author mom?

Sharon: LOL! They groan when I make an easy baked-potato meal for supper AGAIN. They wonder when I'll get their jeans washed. They know enough to not be impressed - which is good. But they also show their support in surprising and tender ways. They've all participated in book launch events, given book marks to friends, read some of the books, patted my arm and reassured me I'm not THAT bad of a writer on those days I think every word I write is pathetic. They are a joy.

Thanks, Sharon, for joining me!

You can visit Sharon's website at www.sharonhinck.com

Blessings!
Beth

Friday, December 14, 2007

Interview with Leisha Kelly


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

Leisha: I grew up in the small town of Camp Point, IL, the middle child in a family with seven kids. We always had a full and busy household. All of us were involved in many extra-curricular activities. My mother was a librarian and I inherited her great love of books as well as learning to cook while she was working evenings. We have a very big family now. More than forty of us when we are all together. And those family times are very special to me. I also love music. I sing with the worship group at our church. I also teach young children on Sundays and teens on Wednesday evenings at our church. My husband is a wood and leather crafter, and my children love to be able to make things also, so another of my favorite things to do is an art or craft project with my kids. I am very blessed that both of my children (Justice and Hosanna) also love a good story. We have worked on several together and separately and will probably do much more of that in the future.

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

Leisha: Pretty much. I can remember writing at a very young age. I really don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing. I might have been as young as five when I wrote one of my first (short) stories, about a little Indian girl. But most of my stories stayed inside my head. I would let them roll in my mind from one scene to the next at bedtime, never really telling anyone about it. Mom said I was the easiest of all her kids to get to bed. She didn’t know it was because I always looked forward to selecting one of the several stories I always had going in my head and picking up where I’d left off the night before. I didn’t start writing down any novel-length projects until junior high or high school when I finally decided all those stories might be there for a reason. I decided to put them on paper and perhaps eventually share them.

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

Leisha: A difficult question. I expect my family, including my grandparents, were an important influence. I had an English teacher in Jr. High who encouraged me tremendously, convincing me that my writing really was good enough to share. She actually wrote on one of my school papers that I should consider being a writer. Talk about a boost! I had another English teacher in high school, and that was a funny situation because each year I was in high school they moved her to a different teaching level so that I ended up having her for all four years. That turned out really well for me because a teacher who didn’t know my work might have let me slide by easily because I was capable of making A’s without a great deal of effort. But good enough for the grade was not good enough for her when she knew I could do better. She called me on the carpet more than once for turning in a paper that was less than my best. She knew when I had better in me. She made me work to do the best I could and I was better for it. Besides all those, I am sure the authors I have loved down through the years (too many to list them all) have influenced my writing as well.

Beth: What is your favorite movie? Favorite books?

Leisha: Oh, boy. Another hard question. I am not completely certain. I have never been as much of a movie person, but some do stand out, in particular The Sound of Music, which my mother loved and introduced me to. My sisters and I went about the house singing songs from that movie, so it is a part of happy memories for me. Now my daughter loves the movie and the same songs so I continue to share them with her. About books, there is no way I could list all the books I have loved. But I would like to mention that the work of Laura Ingalls Wilder inspired me as a child and I continue to be awed by her accomplishment. The books she wrote are truly rare in that they appeal to such a wide age range. I’ve seen pre-schoolers sit in rapt attention when they’re read, older kids lap them up independently, and adults continue to enjoy them. Wonderfully amazing. Few people have a writing style with such broad appeal. Tolkien also amazes me because he created a world that is practically alive in its own right. I fell into those stories and practically forgot they were actually written by somebody. I love when that happens, when you get absolutely lost in the action. The works of C.S. Lewis inspire me, and perhaps oddly, Lee Strobel, for non-fiction. Beverly Lewis is a wonderful person and a wonderful writer who has perhaps led the way in writing gentle books for the heart. And Leif Enger, in his book Peace Like a River simply made me believe. It was a wonderful book. But there are so many other wonderful books out there.

Beth: Tell us about your newest release, Till Morning is Nigh.

Leisha: This is a story set in 1932, one year after the loss of the Worthams’ dear friend Emma Graham, and the Hammond children’s mother, Wilametta. Julia Wortham is trying to find a way to make Christmas merry for Katie, the little girl they’ve taken in, as well as all the other children. But with sickness in the house and everyone missing loved ones, it is no easy task. It is a home-made nativity set that finally sparks the Christmas spirit in the childrens’ hearts and inspires unexpected blessing.

Beth: What inspired you to write this?

Leisha: My own children. When they were very little, they asked many questions when we got out our little nativity set. As I told them the Christmas story, they decided it simply wasn’t right to set the whole set up together early in December, because “Jesus isn’t born yet” until Christmas Eve and the rest of the players could not possibly all be in Bethlehem so early. So we hid the baby, put the wise men at the far corner of the house, and set Mary and Joseph in “Nazareth”, the next room. Only the shepherds, and animals remained in “Bethlehem” with an angel sent ahead to prepare the way. Every day after that, we moved Mary and Joseph a little closer, and then after a few days, began moving the wise men too. On Christmas Eve, Mary and Joseph arrived in “Bethlehem” and the baby came out of hiding to be born and placed in the manger. The angels immediately flew to the shepherds who responded by coming at once to the stable. But the wise men would not arrive until late the next day. The children had such wonderful fun acting out the Christmas story through the month of December this way that our “traveling” nativity set has become a family tradition. I wanted to incorporate the whole idea into a Christmas story featuring the Wortham and Hammond families from some of my other books, and the theme (lines from the Christmas carol, Away in a Manger) just fit the whole idea.

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

Leisha: That the Christmas story is as relevant to us today as it has ever been. That Jesus is with us in all the things we go through in this life, in sorrow and mourning, in trials of sickness or despair, in poverty, as well as in blessing.

Beth: Do you tend to see the same Christian themes in your books and what are they?

Leisha: I believe I do, though I never sit down and plan a “message” for any book in advance. The most important theme, of course, is that we are never alone. That the Lord truly does love us and is present to be a comfort, a provider, a friend. We can lean on Him, no matter what we go through. He has the answers. There are difficult things sometimes, like George Hammond’s attempt to abandon his family, but the mercy of God is available to heal and restore. Nothing and no one is beyond His reach.

Beth: Closing thoughts you’d like to share.

Leisha: I would like to encourage everyone to remember not only the reason for this season, but the reason we are here in this world with hope for the world to come. We are made in the image of God to live for His glory. He loved us so much that He became one of us and sacrificed His life to redeem us. Now in response to His great love, we can choose to live a life of love ourselves.

A big thanks to Leisha for joining me during this busy holiday season!

Leisha Kelly's Website.

If you'd like to be entered in the drawing for Till Morning Is Nigh, post a comment below.

Blessings!
Beth

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Book Winner!

Congratulations to Susan Alverson for winning Terri Reed's Her Christmas Protector!

Susan, contact me with your snail mail addres.

Beth

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A few questions for Kathleen Morgan

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

Kathleen: I was an Army brat, lived in Germany twice as a child, plus Louisiana, Maryland, Texas, California, Florida, Virginia, Alabama, and, of course, now Colorado. Joined the Army on a 4 yr. nursing scholarship, put in 15 years active duty and 7 in the Reserves, lived in Germany two more times thanks to the Army, plus a year in Korea. Met my husband, a dashing Army helicopter pilot, while on active duty, had two children, plus inherited two more step children, both of which have now made me a step grannie. Hobbies are quilting, playing the folk harp, flower gardening, snow shoeing in the winter, reading and my dogs (especially the walking part. I’m getting a lot of walking of dogs of late.). And I really enjoy spending time with family and friends, especially my husband of 27+ years.

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

Kathleen: I always enjoyed writing as a child, as well as solitary imaginative play and making up stories to help put myself to sleep. Never saw it as a career field or aspiration then, though. I wanted to be a nurse!

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

Kathleen: I’ve learned so much from so many writers—especially from reading their books and analyzing how they did a particular thing so well—that I really can’t put my finger on just one writer. Surprisingly, I’ve also learned a lot about what not to do from books that just didn’t seem to work for me. And in my earlier writing years, I learned a lot from those in my critique group—especially if more than one person had the same problem with my manuscript. I tended to take those comments very seriously. Still, in the doing, I also learned that it ultimately was my story, not theirs, and I needed to be true to my voice and vision of it. I never let my stories become a melding of all my critique group partners’ writing styles. If their suggestions worked, and I felt I could incorporate them into my own way of writing, then I took them. And, if they didn’t, I didn’t.

Beth: What is your favorite movie? Favorite book?

Kathleen: Favorite book—Redeeming Love. Favorite movie? I like a lot of them for pretty much the same reason—LOTR for it’s wonderful detail and the hero’s journey; Braveheart for its depiction of courage and self-sacrifice; and The Matrix and the original Star Wars for its hero’s journey too. In fact, almost all the movies I’ve always loved and remembered best had a very strong hero’s journey element to them. Go figure. ☺

Beth: We share some of the same favorites! Tell us about your newest release.

Kathleen: A Fire Within is Caitlin Campbell’s story (Niall’s sister from Child of the Mist). The book begins in May 1568, and Caitlin is now 18. She has recently had her heart broken by a callous young nobleman, has a track record of not choosing men well, and then meets the hero, Darach MacNaghten, whose clan has been proscribed (outlawed, hunted men and women who cannot even use their own clan name anymore, wear their clan tartan, be taken in or aided by other clans, all with the intent to totally eradicate the clan) due to some brutal misdeeds perpetrated by Dar’s father and older brother. Not only is he everything Caitlin should be wary of, but he is a man of many secrets, none of which bode well for the Campbells. He comes to Kilchurn to free his older brother who’s imprisoned in Kilchurn’s dungeon and, when he realizes that plan has no chance of success, he seizes on another plan to facilitate his brother’s rescue. He kidnaps Caitlin to hold her as hostage until his brother’s freed. This plan, though so simple on the surface, soon leads to a clash of wills between two proud, headstrong people. And the problems only worsen the closer Dar’s plan draws to its unforeseen conclusion.

Beth: What is your creative process for writing your novels?

Kathleen: Generally, I start with an idea of at least one of my major characters—either the hero or heroine—and some aspect of their lives that will put them into conflict with the other. I’ll develop both out a bit, then start casting about for some time in history in which to place them, the more dramatic/catastrophic/or action-packed, the better. Then I’ll research that time period a bit to get a feel for potential events in which to place my characters, along the way fleshing out my H/H more and the beginnings of other strong secondary characters and how they will interact/play off/enhance my H/H and their struggles. I usually know when it’s time to start writing. I just get a gut feeling and an eagerness to get going. And I don’t have to have every “t” crossed and “i” dotted in my character profiles to do so. I just know, after all this time, when I know them well enough to get going. Not that I don’t keep learning more about them as the story goes on, though. Oh yes, I also have to know my story theme and how it’s mirrored in my H/H’s lives and conflicts, as well as maybe some of my other characters’ lives too..

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

Kathleen: Here’s the verse I used: Your heart was filled with pride…you corrupted your wisdom…you defiled your sanctuaries with your many sins…so I brought fire from within you, and it consumed you. Ezekiel 28: 17-18 KJV

Both the hero and heroine have to come to terms with the pride that has separated them from God, and even their fellow man and moral compass in various ways. And, once pride takes hold in their hearts, it corrupts their perspective and hence their actions. Only the cleansing fire of God’s love—and some harsh experiences—can heal them.

Beth: Do you tend to see the same Christian themes in your books and what are they?

Kathleen: I have different themes in most of my books, but primarily they touch on God’s great love for us, the power of faith and hope in our lives, and forgiveness, both of others and of ourselves.

Beth: What does your typical day look like?

Kathleen: I get up around 6:30 AM, make a cup of tea, do my morning devotions, then walk the dogs, shower, make coffee and finally feed the dogs (my dogs, BTW, of late consist of two Great Danes we recently rescued and an aging English Cocker Spaniel). Then I check emails and begin working on my current WIP. I take breaks to play with dogs, do chores, and eat lunch, interspersed with more writing. I try to finish writing for the day around 4 PM so I can walk the dogs again then make supper (in case you haven’t figured it out yet, Great Danes need a lot of exercise). Most evenings, I veg out in front of the TV and/or work on a quilt. Oh yes, I visit with my husband too. ☺

Beth: Sounds like having Great Danes is a great idea for writers since we need an excuse to get away from the writing and do a little walking:) What do you believe is the most important thing an author can do to catch an editor’s eye?

Kathleen: Work on grabbing the editor’s interest from page one, not only with an excellent opening hook, great characterization, and the promise of a complex, compelling story to come, but also with meticulous formatting, spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. Show right from the start you’re a serious professional on every level. There are plenty of other aspiring writers out there that’ll do that if you don’t.

Beth: 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?

Kathleen: One thing I had to really work on was building an extensive writer’s vocabulary, after years of pretty much possessing a medical vocabulary and just the rudiments of a literary one. Also, description. I get so caught up in the emotion and pacing of the story that I leave a lot of description out on my first draft. I always have to come back and put it in later. I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be one to load on the description, but I try to at least give enough information to set the reader’s imagination going. Not that I’m not always trying to come up with some new and unique way of saying something. I don’t want to become stale in my craft, so I try to keep stretching and learning.

Beth: Any marketing tips?

Kathleen: Word of mouth is always the best advertisement. A readers’ mailing list, whether email or snail mail, is worth its weight in gold. A website is also a great way for people to find you. Check out lots of websites for ideas on how to develop and improve yours. A letter to the reader in the back of your book is another good way to connect with the reader, and be sure to include your website or email address to contact you.

Beth: Closing thoughts you’d like to share?

Kathleen: Thanks for the opportunity to be interviewed. Hope I’ve been able to provide some useful insights into my writing process. In the end, though, you’ve got to figure out your own unique way of approaching a story. And that takes time, patience, and a whole lot of writing before you do. This isn’t for the faint of heart, you know. ☺ Oh yes, and my website is www.kathleenmorgan.com, where you can read first chapter excerpts of all my books, sign up for my newsletter, and contact me. Can’t be passing up a good marketing opportunity, you know. ☺

Thanks for joining me, Kathleen!

Kathleen's website: http://www.kathleenmorgan.com

Blessings!
Beth

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

CFBA: Interview with Virginia Smith

Virginia Smith left her job as a corporate director to become a full time writer and speaker in the summer of 2005. Since then she has contracted eight novels and numerous articles and short stories.

She writes contemporary humorous novels for the Christian market, including her debut, Just As I Am (Kregel Publications, March 2006) and her new release, Murder by Mushroom (Steeple Hill, August 2007). Her short fiction has been anthologized, and her articles have been published in a variety of Christian magazines.

An energetic speaker, Virginia loves to exemplify God’s truth by comparing real-life situations to well-known works of fiction, such as her popular talk, “Biblical Truths in Star Trek.”

Welcome Ginny!

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

Ginny: I was born and raised in central Kentucky. I’m the oldest of three sisters, and my Mom is remarried to a man who has two daughters, so we’re a real “yours & mine & ours” family! My passion as I was growing up was music, and I still love to sing. I also really enjoy scuba diving. My husband and I go diving in the Caribbean several times a year. And we love snow skiing, too, which is why we live in Salt Lake City part of the year. Some of the best skiing in the country is within minutes of our home there!

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

Ginny: No, not really. I never even thought about writing until I was in my mid-twenties. I’ve always loved reading, though, and one day I read a published short story with a HUGE plot hole in it. I thought, “I could do better than that!” So I did. I wrote a short story – a brilliant work of utter genius, in my and my mother’s opinions – and sent it to the same magazine. The rejection letter arrived in something just short of the speed of light. And there began a very painful lesson, that writing well is a lot harder than it looks.

But as I wrote that first story, I discovered a passion for writing that I didn’t know I had possessed. I kept writing, and kept submitting, and kept falling deeper and deeper in love with the process of writing. And then finally I received a book contract – twenty years after that first rejection letter!

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

Ginny: Different people have influenced me at different times in my life. I love science fiction and fantasy, and one of the classic masters was Isaac Asimov. That man was an absolute genius at the short story, and back when I first started writing I got a great deal of inspiration from reading his work. Then several years ago I read a book by Deborah Raney, and I thought, “Now THAT is great characterization.” I learned a lot about creating characters from Deb’s books. Just recently I’ve been trying to learn how to instill more suspense in my stories, so I read Brandilyn Collins’ Crimson Eve. Man, what a terrific book! The suspense starts in the first chapter and doesn’t stop until the end.

Beth: What is your favorite movie? Favorite book?

Ginny: I really don’t have favorites, because I enjoy so many! I love fiction in almost any form, so my tastes really vary. Some of my favorite movies are Notting Hill, 28 Days, Star Trek IV-The Voyage Home, and Stardust. As one of my friends said recently, asking me to pick a favorite book is like asking me to pick my favorite child! I can’t possibly choose! But the book that has impacted me the most in my life goes back to childhood – The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Mom read it to me before I could read myself, and that book painted vivid pictures in my mind about Jesus. When Aslan gave his life for Edmund, I put myself in his place and I got a glimpse of the sacrifice Jesus made for me.

Beth: Can you share about your newest release?

Ginny: Bluegrass Peril is my second mystery, and it’s my husband’s favorite. It’s set in Kentucky’s elite thoroughbred industry, and I had so much fun doing the research. We visited thoroughbred breeders, and went to the races, and went to a thoroughbred auction (I almost bought a cute little filly, until my husband threatened to tie my hands behind my back to keep me from bidding!). I interviewed a man who works for the Jockey Club, which is the organization that registers thoroughbreds. And I also had dinner with a guy who does a lot of betting… uh, shall we say ‘under the table.’ But the biggest influence on this book was a farm in Georgetown, Kentucky called Old Friends. (www.oldfriendsequine.org) It’s the only retirement farm in the country that houses retired champion stallions, because they’re so difficult. My sympathies were really aroused for those horses. Many of them show up in Bluegrass Peril, and though the horses in the book are fictitious, the stories behind them are real.

Beth: What is your creative process for writing your novels?

Ginny: I write in two genres—mystery and contemporary—and I have a different process for each. When I begin a contemporary novel, I usually start with a character and a situation in the character’s life that will result in change. I sit down and write without a clear idea of what’s going to happen in the story, and let the ideas develop as I work. But usually about halfway through I stop and create a high-level outline of the plot from that point to the end of the book.

With mysteries, my process is totally different. I start with a crime, and identify the main characters – hero, heroine, and villain. Then I develop the killer’s motive and alibi, and figure out how the hero and heroine are going to solve the crime. I come up with other suspects and their motives and alibis. For the next step, I use a technique I learned from my years as a computer system implementer in the corporate environment – I create a project plan. I start from the end point—the resolution of the crime—and work my way backward laying out every step that must happen in order to get my hero and heroine to that point. That’s my plot outline, which I use to write the book. As you can see, most of the work happens up-front, before the writing ever starts.

Beth: Do you have any advice for those of us hoping to write for LI’s suspense line?

Ginny: My primary advice is the same as it is for anyone hoping to write for any publisher – study the craft and develop your skills. Then to specifically target Steeple Hill, read tons of LIS books, because those are the ones the editors are buying. Work on creating good characters and on instilling suspense into your stories. (My editor is encouraging me to become more suspenseful and less cozy!) Oh, and keep in mind that Steeple Hill is a conservative Christian publisher, so make sure you study their guidelines and follow them. For instance using darn, or rats!, or any other mild expletives is a no-no!

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

Ginny: I don’t really have a strong message. I want people to enjoy the story, to turn the last page and say, “Man, that was a good book!” I hope they like the glimpse I give them inside Kentucky’s thoroughbred industry, and that they enjoy meeting the horses I depict in the story. If there’s a message, I think it’s that God guides us if we ask Him to. His law is written in our hearts, and when we pray, He shows us the way He wants us to go.

Beth: Do you tend to see the same Christian themes in your books and what are they?

Ginny: Probably the biggest theme that is repeated in my books is one that I cling to in my life. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” My characters often struggle because they don’t know what the future holds. If they –and we—could just grab hold of that truth, how much easier it would go for us!

Beth: What does your typical day look like?

Ginny: I write full time, and I treat that as my job. So I get up in the morning and spend a few minutes having coffee and quiet time with my husband. Then I go into the living room for private Bible study and prayer. Then I have breakfast. I used to check my e-mail over breakfast, but I discovered that practice can sidetrack my day, so now I take my breakfast into my office and eat while I reread what I wrote the day before. Then I immediately start writing. I take a break to go to the gym mid-morning (when I’m being good!), and for lunch, but then I go right back to my office. I work until 5:00 or 5:30, when it’s time to start dinner.

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

Ginny: Without a doubt, be professional. You might have a terrific story, but if your approach is unprofessional—typos in the cover letter, not following the guidelines, incomplete proposals, mistakes in the format of your manuscript, etc—it will never be read. Of course, you must have a terrific story, too, and your writing must be fresh and crisp and polished.

Beth: 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?

Ginny: The toughest part so far (because I’m still learning!) has been characterization. I want my characters to leap off the page, to be so real that people add them to their prayer lists. They’re that real in my mind, and I want to make sure they’re that real to my readers, too. Brandilyn Collins’ book Getting Into Character is excellent, and I use her interview technique with every main character I write. And of course reading books by other writers who have mastered characterization helps, such as Deborah Raney’s books. I like to read the opening scene and then stop and pinpoint, “What do I know about this character so far? How was that information relayed to me?”

Beth: Any marketing tips?

Ginny: Marketing could take up an entire interview on its own! I have learned so much about marketing in the past few years since my first book, Just As I Am, was released. But my most recent focus has been on creating a media kit. Media coverage of your books can have a huge impact on sales – just ask any author whose book has been featured by Oprah. But getting the media’s attention is hard, and one way to do it is to have a really slick media kit. I was invited to write an article for Cross & Quill on putting together a media kit, so I recently created one for my February release, Stuck in the Middle. The book isn’t even out yet, but that kit is getting attention! Not only from media, but from readers. People can go here if they want to see a sample media kit: http://www.virginiasmith.org/id5.html

Beth: Closing thoughts you’d like to share?

Ginny: To aspiring writers – don’t give up! The road to publication is rough and bumpy and long stretches of it are desolate and dull. But if the Lord has called you to write, you will eventually succeed. Remember – His plans for you are good plans!

To readers – I hope you like Bluegrass Peril! And I hope you’ll check out my website to read about my upcoming books, including a new mystery coming out next year!

To Beth – thank you so much! I really enjoyed this interview.

To all – Merry Christmas!

You can buy Ginny's book here.

Blessings!
Beth

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Few Questions for Terri Reed

Terri Reed grew up in a small town nestled in the foothills of the Sierra-Nevada Mountains. To entertain herself, she created stories in her head and when she put those stories to paper her teachers in grade school, high school and college encouraged her imagination. Living in Italy as an exchange student whetted her appetite for travel and modeling in New York, Chicago and San Francisco gave her a love for the big city, as well. From a young age she attended church but it wasn't until her thirties that she really understood the meaning of a faith filled life. Now living in the Pacific Northwest with her college-sweetheart husband, two wonderful children, and an array of critters, she feels blessed to be able to share her stories and her faith with the world. Terri loves writing for Steeple Hill Love Inspired and Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense.

If you want a chance to win a free copy of Her Christmas Protector, please post a comment below.

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

Terri: I was born in South Lake Tahoe and then moved to where my parents grew up, Sonora, California. I was a gymnast all through high school. I went off to college and then started modeling. I met my husband in college and we will be celebrating our twentieth anniversary in May. I love to read, garden (especially my roses) and I love dogs. We have two and are thinking about getting a third. I also love children and have two and take care of several others.

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

Terri: In seventh grade I declared that one day I would write a book. In high school and college my teachers encouraged my writing. When my mother in law learned I wanted to be a writer she bought me a simple word processor and said now write. So I started. Then I stopped for about five years and then when I became pregnant with my first child I started writing again. That was fourteen years ago. It took ten years to sell my first book.

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

Terri: Through RWA I have been influenced by so many wonderful writers, I don’t know if I could list them all here. Every workshop I go to I always come away with something new. I don’t believe anyone can stop learning.

Beth: What is your favorite movie? Favorite book?

Terri: My favorite movie…well, I have so many favorites. Sound of Music, South Pacific, FAME, Footloose, Flashdance, Kate and Leopold, Ever After. The list could go on forever.
Favorite book…again, so many. The SkyPirate by Justine Dare, Dream a Little Dream by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Someone to Watch Over Me by Kasey Michaels, Alone by Lisa Gardner, The Sinner by Tess Gerritson. Again the list could go on. I read all genres of Romance and Suspense/Thrillers.

Beth: Can you share about your newest release?

Terri: My November release titled, Giving Thanks for Baby is part of a continuity series for Steeple Hill Love Inspired. This book was emotionally hard for me to write. The heroines mother has Alzheimer’s. My own grandmother suffered the disease before she died, as did her three sisters. Also, in this book I dealt with some other touchy issues that I really struggled to present in a way that would be uplifting yet real. This book received 4 stars from Romantic Times Magazine and a very nice review.

My upcoming December Steeple Hill Love Inspired Suspense book, Her Christmas Protector, went through several alliterations before being published. This book also has received 4 stars from Romantic Times Magazine.

Beth: What is your creative process for writing your suspense novels?

Terri: The creative process is very fluid for me. I approach each book differently, depending on the type of suspense. When I plot for suspense, I look at the events as steps that build upward toward a major event, then more steps that rise toward the climactic scene that will put the characters on the path down to the resolution. Escalation is key, both in the plot and the emotional growth/reactions of the characters.

Beth: Do you have any advice for those of us hoping to write for LI’s suspense line?

Terri: That’s a hard question to answer without a trite response. One thing I would suggest is reading/studying suspense books outside the inspirational genre and outside the romance genre.

Beth: Do you tend to see the same Christian themes in your books and what are they?

Terri: There are recurring themes in my books. Forgiveness of oneself, others and of God. Acknowledging and accepting God’s sovereignty. Trusting God.

Beth: What does your typical day look like?

Terri: I write for four to six hours most days. Some days less, some days more depending on what else is going on and where in my deadlines I am. I try not to write when the kids and my husband are home. Family time is very scared to me.

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

Terri: Again, hard not to give trite answers. Go to conferences to network. Make your writing as flawless as possible. Know your craft. Never give up. Believe in yourself. Protect the work.

Beth: 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?

Terri: When I started to seriously pursue writing, I realized I knew nothing. English classes did not prepare me for writing fiction, especially romance. I love Dwight Swains’ book Techniques of the Selling Writer. I have read this book so many times over the years and every time I find something more to help me with my craft.

Beth: Any marketing tips?

Terri: You know this is my weakest point. I just want to write. I have joined with several other LI suspense authors for a blogspot @ www.ladiesofsuspense.blogspot.com
I do have a shoutlife page that I don’t update enough. I joined the Love Inspired Authors website www.loveinspiredauthors.com I don’t have my own website. Someday maybe I will, but for now, I just want to write. Steeple Hill has some wonderful promotional items for their authors so I do take advantage of that. I have joined with other authors to do postcards and bookmarks. I’ve done flyers for my books. But mostly, the best promotional/market thing any writer can do is keep writing.

Beth: Closing thoughts you’d like to share?

Writing isn’t an easy calling and publication doesn’t make it any easier. Accept your writing process and run with it. Pray before you sit down to write and always remember where your blessings (the words) come from.

Thanks Terri for a great interview. I hope you'll join me again!!

Terri is giving away one of her books so don't forget to post a comment to be eligible to win. You can visit her websites: http://www.ladiesofsuspense.blogspot.com and http://www.loveinspiredauthors.com/

Virginia Smith is joining me for an interview at the end of this week.

Blessings!
Beth

Monday, December 03, 2007

The Writing Journey

Two writers share about their writing journey, an interview about rejections and perseverance over at Deborah Vogts blog. Deborah interviews both me and Jill Eileen Smith.

This week I'm hosting two author interviews. A few questions with Terri Reed should be up this afternoon and later this week, I'll interview Virginia Smith. Be sure to post comments to be entered in the book drawings.

Blessings!
Beth
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