Category: Author Interview

Author Interview - Christine Dillon

Author Interview | Introducing Christine Dillon and Grace in the Shadows

Today I’m interviewing author (and editing client) Christine Dillon. Christine has recently released her second novel, Grace in the Shadows, and is currently working on the sequel.

First, please you tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

This is always a tricky question for me. I’m Australian but I grew up in Asia, as my parents were missionaries. Since 1999 I’ve also spent 80% of my time in Taiwan working with the same organisation as my parents. To my delight, I recently discovered that I’m also a New Zealand citizen.

Yay! It’s always good to meet and interview a fellow Kiwi, no matter how remote the connection.

About Your Books

What kind of books do you write? Where and when are they set?

I have three published non-fiction books on discipleship (2009) and Bible storytelling (2012, 2017) and two contemporary Christian fiction novels. The stories are set in the mid to late 1990’s in Sydney, Australia.

What was your motivation for writing Grace in Strange Disguise and Grace in the Shadows?

As I discipled people in Taiwan and Australia I saw a widespread problem. So many people want to follow a God who blesses us on our own terms. But what if we feel disappointed with Him? What if we can’t see the blessing? I wanted to write about this whole issue of what is God there for?

I also saw some ‘lacks’ in Christian fiction. One was that there were too many ‘happily ever after stories’. I wanted to write fiction that was about obedience and submission to Jesus no matter what happened. I also wanted stories that were thoroughly Christian in the way that characters not only thought about issues but also shared Jesus with others. I don’t want to read books that tack the Christianity on top. I’d prefer those kind of books to not mention Christianity at all.

Lastly, I wanted to write fiction that was life changing. Fiction that spurred readers on to follow Jesus with more and more passion. Fiction that made a difference. Having seen the power of Bible stories, I knew that fiction was important. It’s another medium to impact lives.

I think a lot of people start writing novels because they want to read fiction with more “x” or less “y”. We’re all individuals, so fiction speaks to us all in different ways. As you say, it’s another medium to impact lives.

Where did the characters and story come from? What were your influences?

I never planned to write fiction as I was aware that it would be well beyond my abilities. But God seems to have had other ideas and thankfully it is not beyond his. The main idea for the story ‘downloaded’ (this is what it felt like) into my mind during a prayer day as far back as 2007. I put it on hold saying, “You’re going to have to push me to do this and give me the ability.”

Never say anything is beyond our abilities!

The push came in 2012 when I was reading a Francine Rivers set of novellas called ‘Sons of Encouragement’. Again the idea was clear in my head, “You’re a Bible storyteller. Write a biblical novel to practice writing fiction.” So I started immediately. The two practice stories I wrote are ones I hope to get back to soon. In 2013, I started on the ‘real thing’. Initially I thought it was a stand alone novel until told, “This isn’t one story, its one and a half.” When I recovered from the shock, I decided I’d be writing a trilogy. But it’s grown again. I can now see six stories.

Francine Rivers has been a big influence because she tackles issues. I wanted my books to make a difference in people’s lives like hers have.

Two other influences have been C S Lewis (how many people have his books influenced?) especially the Narnia series and The Screwtape Letters, and Randy Alcorn. They write in different genres but they’re life changing. Their stories teach deep truths but wrapped in fiction. They move our emotions and change our worldview. That is what I’m aiming for.

I agree—the best fiction is the kind that makes us reconsider our worldview and bring us closer to Christ.

Who is your favourite character, and why? Do you have anything in common with him/her?

I have quite a few favourites. Joy, who is a major secondary characters. The only thing we have in common is that we both speak Chinese. Naomi is also a favourite.

Josh and Dirk in book two. The only things we have in common is that we love Jesus and I’ve worked in a plant nursery before. Dirk is modelled on two men I admire – one was the boss of a plant nursery. I’ve also started to have fun naming people after various friends or names that my readers have chosen.

The character most like myself is Esther. We both like hiking and she’s a physiotherapist because that was something I felt confident writing about. The timing of the stories is quite deliberate because I wasn’t confident to write about physiotherapy after the date that I worked in hospitals. The hospital in my mind for her workplace is where I worked (although bits of it are made up). I prefer to work with real locations and then adapt from there.

I deliberately made Esther unlike myself in key areas so that people wouldn’t think she was me. I think she likes swing dancing and coffee. Too uncoordinated for one and not a fan of the other.

Will there be a sequel? When can readers expect to see this?

I am working on the third novel now and hope that it will be out by August 2019. There may be three more stories in this series. After that, I would love to write something different and am thinking of biblical fiction which would tie in nicely with my Bible storytelling ministry.

I know a few readers who will be glad to hear that!

About Your Writing

How long did it take between starting to write Grace in Strange Disguise and publishing it? What about Grace in the Shadows?

The first novel took four and a half years. That’s not unusual. I first had to learn to plot and then to write. Along the way I had huge numbers of things to learn in terms of marketing, setting up a website … it felt like doing several university degrees concurrently.

The second book only took about ten months. That was both because I already had material left over from the first book (although it had to be rewritten) and because I’d improved so much. I also had my team in place in terms of editors, beta readers and proofreaders. Everything ran more smoothly and I’m beginning to find my rhythm.

What is the hardest part of getting a book written, edited and published?

Everything is hard! A novelist has to have huge courage (to cope with the inevitable criticism) and determination to simply keep going. If I have to choose, I think the first draft is the most difficult. There are parts in the latter part of editing that I enjoy. The parts where I’m reading it out loud to catch errors and poor rhythms. That part is satisfying because it is taking something good and polishing it to high gloss.

What made you choose to self-publish?

Self-publishing is not for the faint-hearted or lazy. There is a HUGE amount to master especially in the areas of writing and finding good editors (I was blessed to find my ‘perfect matches’ the first time around but that was the result of prayer), marketing (an area most authors find difficult), and business.

Having been twice traditionally published I had some experience of the book industry. I wanted the freedom to set prices, give away books if I wanted … most of the time I’m loving it. Yes, I’ve probably sacrificed in sales at the beginning but the reviews have been good and word of mouth recommendation is spreading.

I have no time pressures except the ones I set myself. I’m someone with plenty of initiative and discipline and self-publishing suits me. I would not enjoy the pressure of a three book contract. My daily life is too busy for that and I regard the rest of my ministry/work as more important than writing.

I also love being able to choose the kind of stories I write and not be forced to stick to one genre.

What advice do you have for someone seeking to write and publish a novel?

  • Find a community who can help and support you. You’ll need it. I found mine with various Facebook groups – Australasian Christian Writers, Christian Writers Downunder and also Christian Indie Authors (much broader in terms of where authors are from). I also have a group of three other authors who can kick me or hug me (in my case virtually via the internet).
  • Work on your humility and also become confident about who you are in Christ. You must be able to cope with people tearing your work apart. Most of them do it out of love for you and it is much better to let them do it before you send your baby out into the big wide world. Make sure your motivations are for the glory of Jesus. Poor and selfish motives will only cause loads of pain.
  • Take things much more slower than your heart wants. The worst thing you can do is to publish too early and release an inferior product. I don’t want to run ahead of God’s speed. This is another reason I prefer to self-publish, so I can pray about the timing.
Great tips—thank you!

About Marketing

You have created your own book trailers. How hard was this? Was it worth doing?

It was impossible until someone on the Christian Indie authors group directed me to a free online company called Lumen 5. After that it was a matter of drag and drop as all the copyright images and music are already there. You can also add your own photos and music.

I hear you’re currently in the process of recording audiobook versions of both your novels. What made you decide to produce an audiobook, and record it yourself? How is the process going?

I am literally in the first week of attempting this. I’ve recorded and edited two chapters. Only forty something to go for book one. Then book two.

Audiobooks are a hugely expanding market. It makes sense to have books available in as many formats as possible to suit different kinds of buyers – digital books, print and now audio.

I was praying for someone to help me get started as I don’t have much confidence with technology and it was yet another new thing for me to learn. God has provided someone with a studio and the equipment a five-minute walk away. I can go there in the afternoons and do a few hours recording.

There are excellent resources online to teach you how to do it (which I’ve added onto my ‘self publishing’ board on Pinterest). Pinterest is my filing system for articles related to writing/marketing …

Please feel free to add some information about yourself (e.g. website, purchasing links, book trailer links) to the end of the post.

Thank you for joining us today, Christine! Readers, if you want to find out more about Christine, check her out online at:

Website | Facebook | Pinterest

And click here to check out Grace in Strange Disguise, Grace in the Shadows, and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon shop!

 

Introducing J’nell Ciesielski

Author Interview | Introducing J’nell Ciesielski

 

It’s Writer Wednesday! Today I’d like to introduce you to author J’nell Ciesielski. J’nell has recently released her first book, Among the Poppies, set in England and France during World War One. I reviewed it on Monday, and definitely recommend it!

1. First, please tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I’m originally from Florida which is known as The Sunshine State in America. I spent some years in Texas, then after college joined the Air Force where I was stationed in Germany for three years. Some of my fondest memories were made traveling Europe and meeting my husband. After our contracts were up, we decided to leave the military and come back to the States where we now call Virginia home.

2. It’s said that authors should write the kind of book they like to read. What is your favorite genre?

Oh, that’s easy 🙂 Historical fiction, particularly if it has a swoon-worthy romance. I love disappearing into bygone eras where honor was worth dying for, love worth living for, and culture worth preserving at all costs. The men seem larger than life, and the women were a force to be reckoned with despite their social constraints. Certainly we have a habit of viewing the past through rose-colored glasses, but history is unencumbered by the trappings of modern convenience where we’ve developed a habit of taking things for granted.

3. What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why or why not?

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald. It’s a story of Scott F. Fitzgerald’s wife and how she met the brilliant young writer and all their tumultuous years together. It’s sad, thrilling, heartwarming, enraging, and utterly unforgettable. You hear so much about Scott, but never about Zelda which is a shame because she is absolutely fascinating.

This book gives such an insight of the cultural revolution that stormed the world after WWI when all the movers and shakers like Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Picasso, Stein, and Porter collided on the colorful streets of Paris to change history forever. Highly recommend!

4. Tell us about Among the Poppies. Who will enjoy it?

Among the Poppies is about a young woman eager to forge her own path as England surges into the Great War, but a duty bound army captain has her rethinking her objections to settling down. Anyone with a taste for adventure is in for quite a ride. Danger is around every corner while love blossoms in the most unlikely of places. Friendships are forged, loyalty tested, and duty to one’s heart is laid on the line. These elements are grounded in rich historical detail as the war to end all wars explodes all around.

5. Where did the characters and story come from? What were your influences?

Like many people the world over, I got swept up in the whirlwind that was Downton Abbey. The elegance, the estates, the manners, and, of course, the clothes. Oh, to wear fancy hats again! Season two plunged the audience into WWI and there I saw it, Lady Sybil the nurse and her world-changing chauffeur love of a man, Branson.

I had to be a part of this world! Gwyn became a chauffeur’s daughter longing for adventure beyond the garage doors, and William is an army captain who, above all, desires order. But Gwyn is anything but orderly 🙂

I’d agree with that! Gwyn is a great character.

6. Who is your favorite character and why? Do you have anything in common with him/her?

That’s a toughie. I love Gwyn’s spunk and wish I had more of it, but at the end of the day it’s Roland who makes me smile. He’s charming, witty, and has a zest for life that balances out William’s seriousness. Even in the mud-bogged trenches that man finds something to laugh about, but just when you think he’s gone too far, he pulls out a depth of resilient understanding that takes your breath away. I wouldn’t say I have much in common with Roland, except our love for the finer things in life 🙂 I would be grateful to find my very own Roland friend.

7. Where do you get your character names from? I’m intrigued with this one because I have two William Crawfords in my family tree, and one was the right age to fight in WWI.

How fantastic to find William Crawfords in your tree! You’ll have to let me know if you find out that he did fight in WWI.

Character names are one of the, if not THE, most fun part of the writing process. I have no hard and fast rules to choosing the all important moniker, but I aim for something regional and somewhat era appropriate. Gwynevere Ruthers was so named because her mother loved to read and settled on the queen of Camelot. But Gwyn, being who she is, decided that Gwynevere was too stuffy and prefers to be called Gwyn. For heroes, I like a good strong, classic name. What could be more classic and English than William Crawford? Remember back when I mentioned that little show Downton Abbey? Crawford is my nod to the Crawley clan 🙂

I’m sure the Crawfords are honoured!

Sometimes a name just presents itself in a Hello! This is me! kinda way. When that doesn’t happen I peruse a list I’ve been making through the years. Some have been waiting a long time for an owner, but I know their day is coming. They just need the right character.

IMDB is also a great place to scroll through movie credits because they have thousands of unique names that I never would have thought to use.

8. A lot of research has gone into Among the Poppies. What the hardest part about researching a different time and a different culture?

Research is my absolute favorite part of writing. I love love love diving into all those details, most of which never make it into the story. History is fascinating. It makes us who we are, defines where we come from, and gives us passion to strive even further than we ever imagined possible. But it’s always a challenge understanding an unfamiliar world. The manner of speaking, dressing, thinking, laws, and societal roles are sometimes a minefield to navigate with our modern sensibilities.

9. What research tips can you share?

Read everything you can about the time period. Fiction written during the era so you can understand the inner workings of what concerned people, and fiction set during the era so you can put those bygone inner workings into a modern voice.

Diaries and first-hand accounts like Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain and The Roses of No Man’s Land by Lyn MacDonald were invaluable to me to learn precisely what these people were facing, their hopes and fears, and how the war transformed them. Old movies and of the era music are another touchstone for me. In fact, when Mary Crawley sang ‘If You Were the Only Boy in the World’ I knew I had to have that in my own story.

There is nothing like reading words written by the people affected.

10. What’s the most interesting factoid you found that didn’t make it into the book?

I never let a good factoid escape from my pages. There were a few that found themselves beneath my editor’s red pen, but I fought to keep them because as irrelevant as they may seem, these little elements add that bit of sparkle that take a story from good to remarkable. Burned soldiers suffered such horrendous pain that only Pekinese dog hair was soft enough to be made into blankets for their raw skin. It wouldn’t be the same, nor the truth, if I’d simply left it at a regular ol’ blanket.

11. Do your novels have an overt faith element?

No, though there is a thread of faith. All of my novels are told from a Christian world point of view with plenty of moral obstacles the characters have to face and overcome. I want Christians and non-Christians to pick up my book to find complexities and truth without a sermon.

12. What made you choose to write for the Christian market?

I don’t write for a Christian market, per se, but my stories are presented from a Christian’s world point of view with set morals and beliefs. Do the characters ever twist these to the fallacies of the world? Absolutely! But at the center there is a core of unalterable truth that can only come from God Himself. That is a part of me and I can’t imagine not being able to express it.

I think you’ve struck a great balance. As a Christian, I read Among the Poppies and clearly saw the Christian themes. But someone without faith could read it and not find the faith aspect overwhelming. It’s a great story.

13. What do you see as the main differences between fiction written for the Christian market compared with the general market?

There is a hope we can cling to in Christian writing that isn’t found in secular writing. Too often secular stories rely on sex, crude language, and titillating situations to convey emotions which I don’t feel comfortable being a part of. I don’t believe morals are something we can play fast and loose with despite what the world may try to convince us of.

14. What kind of support does your publisher give you? What are you expected to do yourself?

Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas is not a large publisher, but what they lack in size they more than make up in enthusiasm. LPC and my wonderful editor took a chance on a no-name newbie, offering invaluable advice to push me further in my writing abilities while not suffocating me. They’ve helped ease me into the industry instead of chunking me straight into the deep end.

Because they are a small publisher, much of the marketing falls to me. Setting up a launch team, creating Facebook parties, tweeting, blog posting, interviews, etc. I do though LPC does step in with promotional opportunities that I can’t manage on my own. Such as submitting Among the Poppies to Publisher’s Weekly and earning a review slot 🙂 Something I never could have done on my own.

Publisher’s Weekly? How cool!

15. What is the hardest part of getting a book written, edited, and published?

Finish writing it! Ha. That’s so easy to say, but sitting down day after day can be downright tough. Especially when the words don’t come and all you want to do is bang your head against the keyboard because you’re most likely the worst writer to ever live and no one will ever read the drivel you’re attempting to write. It’s not a task for the weak of heart. It requires a stubbornness that will carry you all the way through the valleys and straight up to the mountaintops.

The most important thing is not to give into discouragement. Push through those hard moments because at the end is a shining jewel that took years to polish.

16. What advice do you have for someone seeking to write and publish a novel?

Never give up! If this is truly a passion and you can’t imagine doing anything else, read, read, read. Reading expands your use of language and imagination. Learn everything you can about the craft and industry, enter contests, join writer’s groups, but most importantly, write. Write every day because that is how you become a writer instead of someone wishing they could write.

Thanks for visiting, J’nell! It’s great to hear more about you, and about the story behind Among the Poppies!

About J’nell Ciesielski

Author Photo: J'nell CiesielskiBelieving she was born in the wrong era, J’nell Ciesielski spends her days writing heart-stopping heroes, brave heroines, and adventurous exploits in times gone by.

Winner of the Romance Through the Ages contest and Maggie Award, J’nell can often be found dreaming of a second home in Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies.

Born a Florida girl, she now calls Virginia home, along with her very understanding husband, young daughter, and one lazy beagle.

You can find J’nell Ciesielski online at:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Twitter

About Among the Poppies


Gwyn Ruthers longs for adventure far beyond the stifled life society restricts her to as a chauffeur’s daughter. With the war to end all wars exploding across the Channel, Gwyn signs up to drive ambulances on the Front. Rambling over bomb blasted roads and living in mud bogged trenches is far from the exotic travels she had in mind. A simpler life doesn’t look quite as bad as she once thought. Especially when a handsome captain has her rethinking her objections to settling down.

You can find Among the Poppies online at:

AmazonGoodreads

And don’t forget to click here and read my review!

Stacy Monson - Three Psalms for Busy Women

Guest Post | Stacy Monson shares Three Psalms for Busy Women (and a #Giveaway!)

Today I’m delighted to welcome Stacy Monson to the blog. Stacy’s latest book, Open Circle, releases this week, and it looks like an excellent read. And she has a giveaway! And it’s open internationally! One random commenter will be chosen.

Psalms for Busy Women

Life can be crazy busy. Rather than put your head down and power through each day, find those touchpoint moments when you can seek God’s calm and strength. They need only be long enough to remember who He is, and who you are in Him.

Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.

– Psalm 103:2

It’s easy to get caught up in the stress of each busy day and forget to see where God is at work. He is at work, just rarely in big moments that involve fireworks, thunderous applause, and flashing lights (unless you count the miracle of nature all around us). He’s there in the smile of a child after a tantrum, the hug of a friend in the midst of bad news. The cry of a newborn, and the understanding tears of one who knows infertility.

It’s important to look back and recognize moments when we received exactly what we needed—a phone call, a hug, a job offer, unexpected good news. He surrounds us with people who know us and love us (anyway). He provides what we need to face each day.

Instead of focusing on what’s lacking, pause throughout your busy day to thank Him for all the blessings He showers over you, and praise Him with every fiber of your being.

Be still and know that I am God.

– Psalm 46:10

This isn’t a request—it’s a two-fold command. God knows there is little stillness in our high-tech lives. With calendars crammed full of activities, there’s no time to be still! So we must make the time. God tells us Be still. Only then can we know who He is. And this verse tells us He wants us to know Him. Amazing.

When we are still (in the car waiting for the kids, in the silence of early morning, or on a break at work), that’s when we can hear His voice, feel His presence, know He’s there. He is who He says He is: Creator of heaven and earth, lover of our soul, Lord over our calendars.

The God who created you knows you better than you know yourself, and loves you with a perfect, all-consuming love. When you take the time to be still, you can know who He is as well.

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing.

– Psalm 143:10

One of a woman’s greatest strengths can also be her greatest weakness. We are do-ers. When something needs doing, we jump in with both feet. Wobbling on our heels, we race from this commitment to that, leaping over obstacles, praying we stay upright as we take on yet another request. The flip side of this is burnout, resentment, and exhaustion.

How often do we pause and ask God if this new “opportunity” is what He wants for us? Instead of seeking His will for our many options, we make decisions based on the warm, fuzzy feeling of being needed, then we ask Him to save us from the issues of our own making.

The next time an offer comes your way, pause and turn your attention to the One who wants only the very best for you. Let Him teach you to say yes or no, to live on the firm footing of His purpose for you.
Great thoughts, Stacy. Thanks for sharing!

About Stacy Monson

Author Photo Stacy MonsonStacy Monson is the award-winning author of The Chain of Lakes series, including Shattered Image, Dance of Grace, and The Color of Truth. Her stories reveal an extraordinary God at work in ordinary life. Residing in the Twin Cities in Minnesota, she is the wife of a juggling, unicycling physical education teacher, mom to two amazing kids and two wonderful in-law kids, and a very proud grandma of 3 (and counting) grands.

You can find Stacy online at:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

Her newest book, Open Circle, releases June 21 (available for pre-order HERE!). Here’s a bit about the story:

Mindy Lee “Minnie” Carlson’s dream job has dropped into her hands, but there’s a catch. She has four months to revive Open Circle, the town’s only Senior Adult Day Center, or the doors will close, leaving her jobless, and the seniors she cares for stranded.

After decades traveling the globe and documenting the forgotten people of the world, Jackson Young discovers his beloved Grandma Em is still alive in Minnie’s small town. Overjoyed, he races back to his hometown to reconnect with her, only to discover she’s been Minnie’s surrogate grandmother for the past twenty years.

When Grandma Em has a stroke, his ideas about her care pit him against Minnie’s determination and expertise. For Grandma Em’s sake, and the future of Open Circle, they’ll need to do the impossible – find a way to work together.

To celebrate, Stacy is giving away a fun canvas tote bag with a paperback copy of Open Circle and other goodies!

(For a winner in the U.S. An international winner will receive an Amazon gift card of comparable value).

Stacy Monson Giveaway

Click below to enter the giveaway

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Introducing RJ Conte

Author Interview | Introducing RJ Conte and My Fault

Today I’m interviewing author RJ Conte about her writing, and her new release: My Fault. It looks like a fun read!

Welcome, RJ!

About You

First, please you tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

Hello!  I’m the oldest of four, formerly homeschooled, Christian wife and mother of three.  I’m an ESFJ from California who now lives in the Pacific Northwest.  😊

It’s said that authors should write the kind of book they like to read. What is your favourite genre? Who are your favourite authors?

Yes!  Issue-driven is my very favorite, but there’s so few true Christian issue-driven.

My favorite authors growing up were Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, and Ted Dekker.  I’d now add Bethany A Jennings, Susan Vaught, Kimberly Rae, and Elyse Fitzpatrick to that list.  😊

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why/why not?

Let’s see… I keep a file of every book I read all year.  I started that two years ago and it’s fun to look back and see what I read and what star rating I’d give it.  Each year I read over 50 books!  The last book I read was Windswept by Sarah Delana White.  It’s short and lovely – like candy.  I highly recommend it.  A sweet and unique little love story.  Sarah is an acquaintance of mine who I met through another friend, so it’s fun to read books from people you know in “real life.”

About My Fault

What kind of books do you write? Where and when are they set?

I write about those hard-hitting teen and young adult issues, but from a very overtly Christian point of view.  Every once in a while, I’ll write a little science fantasy short story – and I have plans for more speculative Christian fiction, but most of my books are contemporary and have some romance.  😊

Tell us about your latest book. What’s it about? Who will enjoy it?

“My Fault” is my first comedy. Usually I write extremely serious, often sad stories, so writing a comedy with a super quirky character was a brand new venture for me.  I LOVED doing it.  If people laugh half as hard as I did writing it, I’ll be thrilled.

“My Fault” is about a very outgoing, socially awkward young woman who is obsessed with getting to know the young man she hit while driving drunk, and making things right.  The guy is a quiet, serious, mysterious young man who seems overwhelmed by her yet doesn’t know how to say no to her.  They become really oddball friends who might develop further feelings for each other…

Well, if everyone from my 21-year-old fellow author to my 61-year-old father had a great time reading it, then I hope it will appeal to anyone!  Realistically, I expect all adult women will be its target audience.  😊

What was your motivation for writing My Fault?

I had just spent half of a year writing a much more serious, long YA novel, and needed a break.  Coming up with something short, sweet, and comedic over Christmas break was just what I needed to refresh my soul.  I also wanted to explore different ways young people get themselves into ruts when they think about God and their relationship with Him.  Cleo, the main girl, represents the young person who is flippant and apathetic about God, not even sure He’s watching or cares.  Grayson, the injured guy character, represents those who think God’s out to get them are always trying so hard to be perfect that they feel like giving up.  <3

Where did the characters and story come from? What were your influences?

The story is an idea I’ve always wanted to write.  I love the idea of love stories springing from strange places and circumstances.  I’ve always wanted to write a book about someone falling in love with the person they hit in their car.  But these specific characters sprang from specific trials I’ve had with people in my life.

Who is your favourite character and why? Do you have anything in common with him/her?

CLEO.  She says the things I sometimes only say in private to my husband.  She lets it all out, and it was a blast “being her” and in her voice and head.  😀

You said your main character is on the spectrum. Where did that idea come from?

Yes!  I never planned for Cleo to be an Aspy (have Asperger’s) but my mom, who worked with handicapped children and young adults as a school teacher, identified in that right away.  I embraced it and ran with it.  I’m not marketing her as official Asperger’s because that can be a sensitive topic to do correctly, and I wanted her to have the freedom to be herself, but between you and me and the blog readers, she’s definitely on the spectrum.  😊

What are you working on at the moment? What other books do you plan to write?

Right now I’m preparing to pitch that serious YA novel from last year at the Realm Makers writing convention in July.  I’m also loosely beginning to plot a speculative YA Christian book.  😊

About your writing

What motivated you to start writing?  When did you seriously start writing? How long did it take before you published your first book?

I’ve been telling stories since I could speak, and wrote my first story in my diary on my 7th birthday.  I didn’t self-publish for the first time, however, until I was twenty-years-old.

What made you choose to write for the Christian market?

I don’t have to support a family or write to market in any way, which frees me up to make my writing a ministry – and that’s what it is.  I dislike the business side of things, although I’m always learning and improving that aspect of my work, and really embrace my writing being a God-led ministry to young adults.  <3

What do you see as the main differences between fiction written for the Christian market compared with the general market?

Christians clamp down on anything original, and put writers and artists in a box.  Publishers for Christian fiction tend to be close-minded and unapproachable.  It’s sad, frustrating, and unfortunate, so to get my unique and REAL brand of writing out to young adults who desperately need something other than fluffy unoriginal love triangles, and whatever else the Christian market mass produces, I have to self-publish.  Thank the Lord that Amazon has really made it easy to do so, and that my books are now hitting readers successfully!

Do your novels have an overt faith element?

Yes!  I wrote two novellas, both my only books published under Clean Reads, and two speculative short stories, all of which are still moral in nature, before deciding once and for all that I want to exclusively write Christian fiction as a ministry.

Is writing for the Christian market harder or easier than writing for the general market? Why?

Yes.  Christians publishers tend to be picky, cliquish, and not open-minded, unfortunately.  ☹

What advice do you have for someone seeking to write and publish a novel?

Get coaching, take classes, read books on craft, and be prepared to spend the money to put out a book of value.  Don’t do anything half-hearted, and humbly join groups that will correct where you’re doing less than you could.  Listen to advice and learn from it.  Be open to change!

Thank you so much for having me!

About My Fault

“I realized his eyes had lost that wary look. They were the bluest blue. Bluer than my favorite coffee mug. Bluer than the Solonaise County Public Pool when it’s actually been cleaned at the beginning of the summer before all those little kids in their floaties come and pee in it.”

Quirky Cleo Stanton has a problem: she’s falling for the guy she ran over with her car when she should not have been driving.

The devout Christian and quietly mysterious, Grayson Fox is as cute as he is kind, begrudgingly putting up with Cleo and her motor mouth. But will he ever forgive her for crushing his leg? Can she break him out of his shell? And what hilarity will ensue when the flamboyant Cleo tries to draw him out?

Find My Fault online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

About RJ Conte

Author Image - RJ ConteRJ Conte has kissed only one boy in her entire life. And she married him, inspiring her to write about sweet or powerful love stories ever since.

She writes a blog on parenting, publishing, painting, and perorating at http://blonderj.wordpress.com/

She also has recently begun a book review and rating website for parents to make informed decisions on what to allow their children to read: rjconte.com/books

RJ Conte writes realistic, issue-driven fiction that explores human nature and the depths of the soul, while pointing readers to their Creator.

Find RJ Conte online at:

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

 

Introducing Jennifer Haynie

Author Interview | Introducing Jennifer Haynie and Loose Ends

I’d like to introduce Jennifer Haynie, author of Loose Ends, which I reviewed a couple of weeks ago (click here to read my review).  Jennifer is visiting the blog today to share a little about herself, her reading habits, and her writing.

About You

First, please you tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I grew up in North Carolina, right near Fort Bragg.  No, I’m not an Army brat.  I’m the daughter of a paediatrician, and my parents selected Fayetteville for its potential to grow.

How many books have you published?

I’ve published six indie books and one via a traditional publisher.  The publisher went out of business, so I’m seeking to rework the novel since it was my first novel ever published.

Which of your books is your personal favourite, and why?

Wow.  That’s a great question.  If I had to choose, I’d probably say The Athena File.  I greatly enjoyed putting the characters of David and Abigail together.  Jonathan, too.  I also liked the issues they dealt with because right now, they’re extremely relevant.

It’s said that authors should write the kind of book they like to read. What is your favourite genre? Who are your favourite authors?

Suspense is my favorite genre.  Some of my fave authors are Irene Hannon, DiAnn Mills, Lee Child, and David Baldacci.

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why/why not?

I just read an Irene Hannon novel called Tangled Webs which is the last instalment of her Men of Valor series.  Very good.  All three of those books were good.

Sounds great!

About your book

What kind of books do you write?

I write suspense novels that have inspirational undertones.  The characters are complex and real, with wide varieties of backstories.  I wanted to ensure that on some level, readers could identify with them.

Tell us about Loose Ends. Who will enjoy it?

Anyone who enjoys suspense, both men and women would enjoy it.  Also, I know there are many readers out there who crave a deeper relationship with the characters in suspense novels.  I make sure to include lots of action going on, both on an emotional and action level.

There is a lot of action and suspense in Loose Ends. Dare I ask how much of this is based on personal knowledge and experience?

Nope.  😊  None.  My life is pretty boring compared to Alex’s.

This is good to hear. Alex is kind of scary.

Loose Ends also features a variety of locations, some beautiful and exotic. How did you research these locations?

I like to look at pictures.  Also, sometimes, I’m lucky enough to have been close or to locales.  In Loose Ends, while I didn’t go to the British Virgin Islands, I’ve been to the US Virgin Islands twice.  Close enough.

Loose Ends also features characters from a variety of racial, cultural, and geographic backgrounds, which is outside the norm for Christian fiction. What inspired you to write across these boundaries, and how did you research this?

I recently read a blog about the need for diversity in Christian fiction and in fiction in general.  I kind of fell into having diverse racial and cultural backgrounds.  For some reason, the Middle East (and Southwest Asia) have always intrigued me.  I’ve read lots of books related to the cultures, and I also work hard as I revise manuscripts to put myself into the character, in essence, getting all the way into their heads.

Many of your characters have unusual names. What do their names mean, and does that influence their character or actions in any way?

I liked Alex’s name.  Of course, she’s named after her mother, Roya Alexandra Thornton.  Alex strikes her personality.  She’s a bold person, certainly not a timid girlie girl.

I think Jabir’s name is probably one of my favorites.  In Loose Ends as well as Panama Deception, he’s more laid back.  Jabir in Arabic means comforter, and as things unravel in Loose Ends, his role as comforter becomes apparent.

I love that!

Who is your favourite character and why? Do you have anything in common with him/her?

In Loose Ends, my favorite character is probably Alex, though I have to say that when I began weaving Tiny’s story into the plot, he grew on me.  But in terms of Alex, she and I have some common interests (I’m not a girlie girl either).  She also struggles to overcome, and I admire women who push through adversity to triumph.

I think that’s what I liked most about Alex as well!

Loose Ends has a lot more of a faith element than most Christian suspense novels I read. What made you choose to have such an overt faith element?

God gave me this gift of writing.  One of the reasons why He did so was so He could touch lives in an unusual way.  That’s probably the big reason why I have faith elements in my novels.  Also, sometimes I get the impression that some people, both those who are believers and those who aren’t, see Christians as boring.  Hah.  Far from it.  Christians truly living out their faith are dynamic people.

At the same time, Loose Ends also has more of a gritty feel than most other Christian suspense novels. It almost feels like a general market novel in that respect. Do you consider you’re writing for Christians, or that you’re writing novels with Christian characters?

I’m writing novels with Christian characters because I want those who aren’t Christians to pick it up and read.  I know that most non-Christians would never venture into the CBA.  If they did, many would see the plots as too unrealistic due to the restrictions many traditional publishers place on their writers.  Life is gritty, and I want my work to reflect that but also see that it’s possible to write a novel that’s more a reflection of the sometimes harsh realities in which we live yet show how Christian characters can overcome in such settings.

I liked the fact Loose Ends was a lot more gritty than most CBA fiction. I understand the restrictions CBA authors have, but wish it wasn’t so. It reinforces the insular Christian bubble.

What do you see as the main differences between fiction written for the Christian market compared with the general market?

I touched on it in the question above.  If a writer is writing in the CBA, traditional publishers often place restrictions on what characters can do, say, etc.  Think Love Inspired Romantic Suspense novels.  Sometimes, those restrictions can create unrealistic settings and scenes.

Love Inspired is probably one of the more conservative Christian lines, which is ironic considering they are part of Harlequin Mills & Boon, which have several imprints where the romance is a lot more hot and heavy. I guess they know their market and the expectations of their readers. But there are other readers who would like gritty faith-based novels.

What are you working on now? What other books are in the pipeline?

That’s a great question.  I’m what I call “hot-drafting” the second book to the Athena Trilogy, which will be called No Options.  Once I let that sit for a bit, I’m turning my attention to my first traditionally published novel, Exiled Heart.  Since the publisher went out of business last year, I got my rights back, and that enables me to rework it to be more of my current writing style (It was my first ever published, hence I don’t like my writing).  I hope to have that one out at the end of the year.

I’ve heard most published authors don’t like their early books, so you’re not alone in this.

You also told me you’re getting a puppy. How cute! Does s/he have a name? Are there pictures?

Clyde aged 8 weeksYes, we got Clyde on the 18th of March.  Now we have Bonnie and Clyde, the Outlaws.  I’ll be glad to attach pictures.  😊  Always.

What fabulous names! And cute puppy (just don’t tell my cat I said that. She’s the jealous type).
Thanks for visiting, Jennifer! Readers, what question would you like to ask Jennifer? Let us know in the comments.

About Jennifer Haynie

Author Photo: Jennifer HaynieAfter being an avid reader of suspense fiction for most of her life, Jennifer Haynie began writing and publishing suspense novels in 2012.  She has now written over five indie suspense novels.  In her spare time, she works for the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, enjoys working out, and loves traveling.  She currently lives outside of Raleigh with her husband and their Basenji dogs.

 

You can find Jennifer Haynie online at:

Website | Facebook  | PinterestTwitter

About Loose Ends

Hot off her first mission as a Unit 28 contractor agent, Alex Thornton wants nothing more than to focus on building a life with Jabir al-Omri, her best friend and boyfriend of five months.

A secret chains Jabir, one with such dire consequences that seeking freedom from it will cost him dearly. He finds himself caught between honoring those he cares about and being completely truthful with Alex.

Hashim al-Hassan craves vengeance against the woman who deceived him ten years before. The target of his wrath? Alex.

When Alex and Jabir receive an assignment to find the murderers of a shipping executive, their investigation brings them to the attention of Hashim. He begins stalking her. The bodies pile up, and people disappear.

Now, with Alex squarely within Hashim’s crosshairs, Jabir yearns to tell her what he knows. Yet the truth may destroy both her and those she loves the most.

Find Loose Ends online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

You can read the introduction to Loose Ends below:

Introducing Toni Shiloh

Author Interview | Introducing Toni Shiloh

Today I’m interviewing Toni Shiloh about life, reading, writing, and her latest release, Grace Restored. It’s contemporary Christian romance with an emphasis on Christian. Welcome, Toni!

About You

First, please you tell us a little about yourself. Where are you from?

I’m from the great state of Texas. I was born and raised there but I haven’t lived there since I was 18. I joined the Air Force straight out of high school, met my husband, and after serving and his commitment to the Air Force ended, we’ve moved based on his job. We now reside in Virginia with our two boys.

It’s said that authors should write the kind of book they like to read. What is your favourite genre? Who are your favourite authors?

I love romance books. I don’t care if the romance is historical, suspenseful, or even in a dystopian setting. As long as there is romance, I’m there. 🙂 My favourite authors (in no ranking order) are Ronie Kendig, Lynette Eason, Becky Wade, Jennifer Peel, Irene Hannon, Jennifer Rodewald, and Sarah Monzon, to a name a few.

Some great authors in that list 🙂

What was the last book you read? Would you recommend it? Why/why not?

The last book I read was Finding Evergreen by Jennifer Rodewald. It was superb. I would recommend anything she’s written, her books are that fantastic.

I’m currently reading Finding Evergreen,and will review it next week!

About your book

Tell us a little about Grace Restored. Who do you think will enjoy it?

I’ll tell you a little secret, Grace Restored is my favourite book I’ve written. I know some authors don’t choose, but Michelle and Guy’s story is it for me. The heartache they go through, the friendships that are made, and the discovery of God’s grace seals the deal. I think anyone searching for those elements in a story will enjoy it.

Grace Restored has a lot more of a Christian theme than many contemporary Christian romances I read. What made you choose to write for the Christian market and include such overt faith elements?

The grace I received from God was so overwhelming, I let Him know that I wanted to be used by Him. When I realized (through completing my Bachelor’s degree) that I had some talent in writing, I surrendered it to Him. I can’t imagine writing books without the faith elements because faith is my life.

And I love the way it comes through in Grace Restored 🙂

Quote from Grace Restored by Toni Shiloh: Michelle wished she had that kind of peace. Thankfully, the more she talked to God, the more it seemed within reach.

Most Christian fiction seems to focus on people of European ancestry, with the occasional Native American character. Why do you think this is?

I think statistically speaking there are more writers from a European ancestry than others. However, there are many African American writers in Christian fiction, they are just hard to find because they often end up in the African American section of a bookstore versus the Christian fiction section.

Guy is Haitian, although he was raised in Freedom Lake. How has his different cultural heritage influenced his life?

You can see the influences in his speech, his mannerisms when people are welcomed into his home. Like other people who have a different culture than the place of their birth, he can assimilate depending on who he is interacting with.

I loved the way he’d slip into a version of French.

There are a lot of broken characters in Grace Restored, which links to your main theme of restoration. What prompted you to choose this theme?

I knew Guy and Michelle would end up together before I wrote their story. As I wrote, Freedom Lake book one in the series, bits and pieces of their story came to me and I realized just how broken they were. I knew they needed to discover the saving grace of God and there the theme was born.

Grace Restored is set in the town of Freedom Lake? Is that a real place?

It’s not. I found freedom in creating a fictional setting. You can make it your own without the worry of offending people from an actual real setting.

You drop a few hints about the history of Freedom Lake as a town. What can you tell us about Freedom Lake, and how the town influenced your plot and characters?

Freedom Lake is based off a real place. In times of segregation in the US, African Americans needed a place to getaway and relax. There were AA towns in different places of the U.S. where they could go and vacation without the worries of breaking a Jim Crow law. Freedom Lake represents those towns but in a modern setting where segregation is no longer.

How interesting!

It is said that reading great Christian fiction should challenge the reader’s ideas and beliefs. How do you hope Grace Restored challenges your readers?

I pray that after they finish, they have gained compassion and empathy for their fellowman. That they will search themselves and see if they’re refusing grace in an area they desperately need it. Most of all, I hope it draws them closer to God.

What are you working on now? Can we look forward to another story from Freedom Lake?

Most definitely! Book three has already been written it just needs the wonderful works of revisions and editing. 🙂 Before I get to that, I will be finishing book four in the Maple Run series.

About Toni Shiloh

Author Photo - Toni ShilohToni Shiloh is a wife, mom, and Christian fiction writer. Once she understood the powerful saving grace of the love of Christ, she was moved to honor her Savior.
She writes soulfully romantic novels to bring Him glory and to learn more about His goodness.

Before pursuing her dream as a writer, Toni served in the United States Air Force. It was there she met her husband. After countless moves, they ended up in Virginia, where they are raising their two boys.

When she’s not typing in imagination land, Toni enjoys reading, playing video games, making jewelry, and spending time with her family.

Toni is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) as well as the president of the ACFW Virginia Chapter.

You can find Toni Shiloh online at:

Website | Facebook | Google+ | Instagram | PinterestTwitter

About Grace Restored

Michelle Thomas has it all. Beautiful and successful, she’s just opened her own law firm in Freedom Lake. What more could she want? When her old flame rolls back into Freedom Lake, she’s intent on ignoring him. But how can she give the widower and his precious twin girls the cold shoulder?

Still reeling from the death of his wife, Guy Pierre returns to Returning Home to take over as town sheriff and raise his twin daughters. Alone. Yet, life keeps throwing Michelle in his path and sparks of interest began to rise.

Will old secrets tear them apart again or can they find the faith to let God’s grace restore what has been broken?

You can find Grace Restored online at:

Amazon | Barnes & NobleGoodreads | iTunesKobo

Introducing Christine Dillon

Author Interview | Christine Dillon

Today I’m delighted to welcome author Christine Dillon, to share about the release of her debut novel, Grace in Strange Disguise. Full disclosure: I edited Grace in Strange Disguise, so of course I think it’s excellent.

Welcome, Christine!

Christine DillonChristine never intended to become an author. If she ever thought about writing it was to wonder if she might write a missionary biography. So it was a surprise to her to write poetry, non-fiction and now be working on a novel.

Christine has worked in Taiwan, with OMF International, since 1999. It’s best not to ask Christine, “Where are you from?” She’s a missionary kid who isn’t sure if she should say her passport country (Australia) or her Dad’s country (New Zealand) or where she’s spent most of her life (Asia – Taiwan, Malaysia and the Philippines).

Christine used to be a physiotherapist, but now writes ‘storyteller’ on airport forms. She has written a book on storytelling and spends her time either telling Bible stories or training others to do so.

In her spare time, Christine loves all things active – hiking, cycling, swimming, snorkelling. But she also likes reading and genealogical research, as that satisfies her desire to be an historical detective.

Welcome, Christine! We’ll start off with some quick questions so we get to know you a little better.

What is your favourite fruit?

Mango

That’s showing your tropical upbringing!

Which is your favourite season?

I love all seasons but winter. Spring for flowers and promise of summer, summer for clear skies and temperatures and autumn for crisp air and colours.

Where is your favourite place?

Anywhere in NZ’s great outdoors or Taroko Gorge in Taiwan or a valley in Malaysia where I went to primary school.

What is your favourite Bible verse?

1 Corinthians 1:27-29 God uses the weak … so that no one can boast before him. If I feel weak (which I do) then I qualify to be used by God.

I love that!

What’s something funny or quirky that not many people know about you?

I still collect stamps (NZ,UK, Australia) which is a hobby that doesn’t usually continue into adulthood.

My husband, father, and father-in-law all collect stamps. I preferred coins, especially as reminders of places I’ve travelled.

Now, let’s talk about your book, Grace in Strange Disguise. Here’s the description off the back cover:

Physiotherapist Esther Macdonald is living the Australian dream, and it doesn’t surprise her.

After all, her father has always said, “Follow Jesus and be blessed.” But at twenty-eight, her world shatters. Everyone assures her God will come through for her, but what happens when he doesn’t? Has she offended God? Is her faith too small? So many conflicting explanations.

Will finding the truth cost her the people closest to her heart?

What inspired the plot of Grace in Strange Disguise?

I never intended to write fiction but while I was having a prayer day, the idea for two novels dropped in to my head. It took more than six years before I wrote two practice novels and then dared to start working on the first of the two original ideas.

Who is your favourite character in this book, and why?

I’m not much of one to play favourites. I like Joy and Naomi because they’ve been through a lot but shine like refined gold. I like Rob Boyle and Paul Webster because they’re like so many non-Christian Australian men, using humour to avoid confronting Jesus. I had fun writing their dialogue. I have had many conversations like the ones in the book with Australian men.

I think Kiwi men are much the same. They only get really passionate and demonstrative when it comes to sport (especially when the All Blacks play the Wallabies).

Esther took a while for me to like because it isn’t easy to write the first part of a person’s journey when they are not mature. By the end of the book, I’d love to be her friend and sit around talking about the Bible with her, Gina, Joy and Naomi.

But novels are about personal growth, and that was Esther’s challenge.

Esther’s father and fiancé both have some misguided ideas about Christianity. How common are such ideas in the modern church?

Far too common. Many Christians don’t realise how strongly they’re influenced by the world around them – via media or what others say. What the Bible says can be drowned out. Knowing our Bibles takes hard work and so much of it is contrary to what we naturally think. For example, it feels so ‘natural’ to hold grudges rather than to forgive.

I constantly hear people say things that suggest that they really think that God should make their lives smooth or that he somehow owes them. One context that you hear these ideas is if you have ill health or a disabled child. Even Christians will suggest, “what have you done to deserve this.” Many people within the church are closet ‘Buddhists’ in that they really believe (deep down, like Job’s friends) the law of Karma is true (if you do good, good will happen and vice versa).

Is there a particular theme or message in Grace in Strange Disguise?

The title gives us one of the themes but you’ll have to read the book to work out how many of the characters the title is linked with. I’m aware of at least four, and there’ll be more in books two and three.

Grace in Strange Disguise raises ideas of what is God there for? What are his purposes for us? Why doesn’t he always answer our prayers in the way we want?

Will there be a sequel to Grace in Strange Disguise? What can you tell us about it?

Yes, at the moment I can see two more books. Iola, you’re largely responsible for this because you were the one who told me my ‘standalone’ book was really one and a half books.

Yeah … #SorryNotSorry. I think this version of Grace in Strange Disguise is much stronger than the first version I read, and I’m looking forward to the completed second book!

I’m only in the planning stages so I’m not ready to say too much. The best way to keep up-to-date is to become a ‘storyteller friend’ (subscriber) and/or join the Facebook group – storytellerchristine.

One of my favourite characters in Grace in Strange Disguise is Joy. Is she based on a real person?

Not really. But she is an amalgam of the people I’ve read about in biographies of Chinese Christians. People who stand firm for their faith no matter the cost. I wanted to have an Asian believer because I’ve lived and work as a church planter in Taiwan since 1999. I want my books to be broader than simply one people group. So the book reflects the backgrounds of many Australians in that we have people of Scottish, Irish, Chinese, Indian and Italian backgrounds.

New Zealand is a similar melting pot of cultures, although we have fewer Irish and Italians. We have a lot of Koreans in my city, which means we have some excellent Asian restaurants!

Joy tells stories taken from the Bible. What’s the story behind that?

In 2004, I was introduced to Bible storytelling. Once I got over my initial prejudices against it, I discovered a tool that I’ve used nearly every day since. My life and ministry is filled with telling Bible stories to people of all ages and nationalities, and training others in this tool. Joy’s use of stories gives me an opportunity to show people how to set up opportunities and to use it naturally in everyday life. Visit www.storyingthescriptures.com for more information.

What do you find is the easiest part of the writing and publishing process? What’s the hardest?

I find it different with non-fiction and fiction. For me the easiest for non-fiction was the planning and the hardest the editing.

For fiction, formatting proved to be the easiest because I use Vellum. It only takes about an hour.

Hardest was the planning process. However, if I do it correctly, then the writing should be much easier and the editing process should also be shorter (and cheaper).

What impact does your faith have on your writing?

I wouldn’t even have started writing if I hadn’t been convinced that God was asking me to do it. The journey is too hard unless you’re called to it.

There have been many times I wanted to quit and God has provided the perseverance or sent someone to encourage me or alerted me to a resource that will help me. You are one of those answers to my prayer.

Thank you! It’s been a pleasure working with you, and I’ve learned a lot from you as well.

What’s your favourite fiction genre, and why?

This is hard to answer. I like historical where I learn something. I also like thriller and mystery, but don’t think I’m clever enough to write them. I also like Christian fiction that deals with issues that we all face and that inspires me to follow Jesus more closely.

I think that’s the hardest kind of Christian fiction to write, but it’s certainly the most rewarding to read.

What book (or books) are you currently reading?

This changes rapidly at the moment and for the last nine months I’ve been reading Christian fiction, trying to understand the world I’m entering. I’m about to read my first Catherine West and Charles Martin. Both are Christian authors that have been highly recommended.

I know you only give five-star reviews to books you believe are impact into eternity. What are five Christian fiction books you’d place in this category?

* A Long Highway Home (Elizabeth Musser)
* Safely Home (Randy Alcorn)
* When the Shofar Blew and the Mark of the Lion trilogy (Francine Rivers)
* Screwtape Letters and the Narnia series (CS Lewis)

I haven’t yet read Safely Home, but I’ve read all the others and agree 100%.

Finally …

Where can we find Grace in Strange Disguise online?

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Kobo |Nook

Where can we find you online?

Author Website | Bible Storytelling | Facebook | Pinterest

 

Thank you, Christine! It’s been great to learn more about Grace in Strange Disguise.

Readers, what question would you like to ask Christine? Let us know in the comments! Meanwhile, you can read the introduction to Grace in Strange Disguise below, and go in the draw to win a Kindle copy.

Introducing Dr Richard Mabry

Author Interview | Dr Richard Mabry

Today I’d like to welcome author Dr Richard Mabry, to share about his new release, Cardiac Event. Richard says:

Richard MabryI’m a retired physician who, in addition to writing, is a husband and grandfather, plays (and enjoys) golf, and does the hundred-and-one other things that retired people do.

Now I’m writing what I call “medical suspense with heart.” My novels have been finalists for the ACFW Carol Award, Romantic Times’ Best Inspirational Novel and their Reviewer’s Choice Award, have won the Selah award, and been named by Christian Retailing as the best in the mystery/suspense/thriller category. My latest novel is CARDIAC EVENT, which has been given a 4 1/2 star rating and a “Top Pick” by Romantic Times. I’ve also published three novellas, the latest one DOCTOR’S DILEMMA.

Welcome, Richard!

We’ll start off with some quick questions so we get to know you a little better.

What is your favourite fruit?

Seedless green grapes (because I can grab a handful as I go by).

Which is your favourite season?

Spring (For those of you living where there aren’t four distinct seasons, let me recommend Texas. Sometimes we get all four within a day or two.)

New Zealand has the same problem. It’s supposed to be spring at the moment, and today has had bright summer sunshine and thundering winter rain.

Where is your favourite place?

I’ve been fortunate enough, in my days as a practitioner and later a medical school professor, to go all over the world, teaching and lecturing. But now I agree with the line from the Wizard of Oz—There’s no place like home.

What is your favourite Bible verse?

I hang on to Jeremiah 29:11, because I know that, however dark things look, God has a plan for all of us.

That’s probably my favourite as well.

What’s something funny or quirky that not many people know about you?

I’ve gotten to know a number of sports figures—former big league baseball players, professional football players, well-known golfers—and none of them asked for my autograph. Can’t understand it.

Funny!

Now, let’s talk about your book, Cardiac Event. Here’s the description off the back cover:

Cardiologist Dr. Kirk Martin continually crosses swords with Dr. Cliff Hamilton, so he is surprised when Hamilton asks him to care for him after a heart attack. When he is ready for discharge, Hamilton is found dead in his hospital bed, and Martin is suspected of murdering him.

After another doctor is found shot to death, Martin’s girlfriend, nurse Janet Rush, reminds him to be careful because he may be next. Can he save his own life while searching for the identity of the real murderer?

What inspired the plot of Cardiac Event?

Believe it or not, sometimes doctors get cross-ways with each other, and some of those enmities run deep. I started wondering, “What if one of those doctors was called upon to treat another in a life-and-death situation?” Then I took it further. “And what if the other doctor died?” That was the basis for the novel.

Sounds exciting! I’m about to start reading it, and will review it in the next week or so.

You’re a retired doctor, and you write medical thrillers. How much of your former life do you bring into your fiction?

I don’t have the advantage some people think I have, because I rarely incorporate a scenario I’ve experienced into my novels. However, I do have an advantage because I speak the language and know how doctors will react in certain situations.

Do you ever find yourself tempted to change medical fact to ensure a better story? How do you strike the balance between getting the details right, and writing a thrilling medical thriller?

Most of the time I stick to accepted medical facts, because if I don’t, someone who is in active practice will let me know. I can recall one time when I “invented” a disease and a treatment, and I got a number of queries from people who’d read Miracle Drug and wondered if they should be vaccinated for that potentially fatal infection.

I get the impression medical science is always changing. How difficult is it to stay up-to-date—both as a practicing doctor, and as a writer?

It’s very difficult. I haven’t been in active practice for more than a decade, but I still keep my license current and read the literature. Most of my research now is done on the computer, and I do a lot of it with each book.

What do you find is the easiest part of the writing and publishing process? What’s the hardest?

The hardest part? Coming up with a scheme for a new novel, without repeating myself. The easiest part for me? Revising after an editor has made suggestions. Notice I didn’t say anything about marketing and publicity. I was doing most of that myself, even when I worked with a publisher, so that hasn’t changed much when I “indie-released” Cardiac Event.

Interesting! I’ve heard a lot of authors say they loathe the editing process, so it’s good to find someone who doesn’t.

What impact does your faith have on your writing?

I tried writing novels that contained a “call to commitment” or showed a step-by-step “road to salvation,” but that didn’t work for me. Rather, what I do is portray real people—believers, skeptics, and searchers—in real situations and try to show how God can work in their lives.

I think you do a great job with that! Some authors can make that call to commitment or road to salvation work, but it’s hard to do without coming across as preachy.

What’s your favourite fiction genre, and why?

I read—and have read for years—mysteries and detective stories. They allow me to use my powers of deduction (if the author plays fair), and serve as a wonderful get-away from the problems we all face in everyday life. Besides, I can occasionally “borrow” one of the ideas I read there.

What book (or books) are you currently reading?

Although I will often take a break to read a new book, I find myself time after time re-reading the work of the author whose writing I admire: the late Robert B. Parker. He’s able to paint a picture, using simple, declarative sentences, a picture that lets me be a part of the action. I have to skip some of the language, but then again, I have encountered it on the baseball diamond and golf course, so it’s nothing new.

What’s next for you?

I’m doing the final edits on a novella that I’ll release about December 1. Surgeon’s Choice is about an engaged doctor who wonders if another doctor is behind a series of mishaps that he’s encountered. Then, when people start dying, he really gets worried.

Next year will see the release of my next novel, Guarded Prognosis. In it, a young surgeon gets a call from his father who has just received a potentially fatal diagnosis. The older man doesn’t want his son’s medical help, though. He simply wants a pledge of his assistance in ending his own life.

Finally …

Where can we find Cardiac Event online?

The e-book is only available from Amazon in Kindle format (although there is a free app, available from Amazon, that allows it to be read on computers). The print book is available from Barnes and Noble, and eBay.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble |eBay

Where can we find you online?

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Thank you, Richard! It’s been great to meet you, and learn more about Cardiac Event.

Readers, what question would you like to ask Richard? Let us know in the comments! Meanwhile, you can read the introduction to Cardiac Event below:

Author Interview - Janet Ferguson

Author Interview | Janet W Ferguson

Today I’d like to welcome author Janet Ferguson, to share about her new release, Magnolia Storms.

Janet W Ferguson

Janet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served as a children’s minister and a church youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. She writes humorous inspirational fiction for people with real lives and real problems.

Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and a few cats that allow them to share the space.

Welcome, Janet!

Hi! I’m super-excited to be your guest!

We’ll start off with some quick questions so we get to know you a little better. I highlighted questions you could leave out if you want to make it shorter.

What is your favourite fruit?

So hard, because I love food! I’m going with watermelon, especially the ones grown in Smith County, Mississippi.

Which is your favourite season?

I’m a summer girl! I like warm weather.

I agree! Snow is pretty to look at, but too cold for my taste.

Where is your favourite place?

The warm weather above goes with my favourite place—the beach! Most any beach with the summer sun will do! I often go to Fort Morgan, Alabama, and read my favourite novels on the shore.

Then you’ll love New Zealand. We have miles of beaches.

What is your favourite Bible verse?

Not sure how to pick just one, but I focused on Isaiah 61 in my first series. Each book took a part from the chapter as a theme.

  • Book 1: Beauty for ashes
  • Book 2: He binds up the broken hearted.
  • Book 3: He frees the captives
  • Book 4: They shall be oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord.

What a great idea!

I love the thought of how God heals our broken, messed up places. That’s the focus of my writing. Mostly because my own life has been pretty broken and messy at times, and I needed to grasp hold of His promises.

It’s a reminder we all need to hear sometimes. 

What’s something funny or quirky that not many people know about you?

Now, I have a lot here I could add, but I’ll go with being deaf in one ear. I’m constantly circling people to get them on “my good ear,” so I can hear them.

Now, let’s talk about your book, Magnolia Storms. Here’s the description off the back cover:

Maggie Marovich couldn’t save her father or her home from Hurricane Katrina, but she’s dedicated her life to meteorology so she can warn others when the monster storms approach. Except…she works three hours inland and rarely risks returning to her childhood hometown of Ocean Springs, Mississippi. Both her single-parent sister and the ship pilot Maggie once loved refused to leave the Coast, despite Maggie’s requests. Now a hurricane’s headed toward Mississippi, and Maggie’s sister is seriously injured, leaving Maggie little choice but to head south—into the storm.

The water and tides flow through Josh Bergeron’s veins, and he can’t imagine giving up piloting—even for the love of his life, the infuriating Magnolia Marovich. He tried to move on without her, marrying and having a child. But after his wife abandons him and his little boy, his career choice is threatened by the weight of his parental responsibilities. Moving next door to Maggie’s sister and sharing their child care seems like the perfect set-up. Until Maggie blows back into town.

Being forced to lean on Josh for help washes up the wreckage in Maggie’s faith. Where was God during the destruction of Katrina? Why do some prayers seem to go unanswered? Between the hurricane looming in the Gulf and another gale raging in her heart, can Maggie overcome her past and find the trust to truly live?

Your tagline is Faith. Humor. Romance. Southern Style. What does “Southern Style” mean when it comes to fiction?

The Deep South in the U.S. is known to speak more slowly, do life a bit more slowly…in a bit more relaxed way. We use the word y’all and have quirky phrases, and we’ve fried most any food you can think of. The South is famous for friendliness and hospitality, like we’re all one big family.

We wave at people in the neighbourhood and around town, when driving, whether you know them or not. We’ve often been trained in particular manners, like saying yes ma’am and no sir to anyone possibly older than us. It’s just a certain flavour that permeates the area where I live.

I had heard you were famous for your fried food. It sounds great to me … waistline? What waistline?

How does this relate to Magnolia Storms? I see plenty of room for faith and romance in that book description, but humour? (Humor?) How does that fit in?

In my real life, I often joke during hard times, or find humour in the midst of despair at some small thing. Maybe some silly thing happens during a crisis, like my cat chasing its tail, which breaks up the moment. I believe laughter helps get us through in dark situations, so I plug in a bit of comedic relief for my characters and my readers—a little romantic comedy amidst deep issues.

What inspired the plot of Magnolia Storms?

Researching the port of Mobile, Alabama, for my book Blown Together, I emailed a college friend who is a ship pilot. When he answered my questions, he also included of videos ship pilots transferring from their pilot boat to larger vessels to guide them into the mouth of the Mississippi River. It was fascinating and beautiful and exciting. I knew right away, I had my next hero!

Here’s a video (You might want to turn off the sound of the heavy metal music):

That brings Josh’s work in Magnolia Storms to life.

The other part of the story is Hurricane Katrina. Once the levees broke in New Orleans, many people missed the fact that the storm obliterated whole towns and communities on our coastline and wreaked havoc over three hours inland. For Mississippians, time is often divided Before Katrina or After Katrina. There are still vacant lots on our coast after over a decade due to the storm surge that was up to thirty feet high in places.

Magnolia Storms is asking one of the big faith questions—where is God when bad things happen? How was that to write, and to answer?

Writing it was hard but cathartic. Prayer and God’s answers are things I’ve struggled with as my mother died from Alzheimer’s, my son went through multiple joint issues and surgeries, and other trying storms in life. I believe that if I am wrestling with my faith and understanding, at times, then perhaps others are, as well, and God helps me work through these hard issues by processing them with my characters.

Is there a particular theme or message in Magnolia Storms?

Yes! The words from Isaiah 43, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you.” My heroine has an elderly aunt who is funny and provides wisdom throughout the novel. She offers this advice:

“Your faith can’t keep tossing and turning with the wind.” Aunt Ruth rubbed up and down Maggie’s shoulder. “Sooner or later, you must decide, ‘Though He slay me, still I will trust Him.’ Know that He is with you when you pass through the rough waters of life.”

Magnolia certainly has to pass through the waters. So does Josh. It’s a great message.

Magnolia Storms looks like it’s the first book in a new series. Is this the case? What can you tell us about the future books in the series?

It is a new series. I think each book will be only loosely tied by the fact that they are all set at coastal locations…I think.

The next one I’m working on deals with drug addiction, and it is set in St. Simmons, Georgia. The title will be The Art of Rivers. Addiction is such a tragic issue that touches most families these days.

How is Magnolia Storms different from your previous series? Will the same readers enjoy it?

All my books have grappled with difficult issues, but perhaps, Magnolia Storms has a tad less humour than the previous novels. The heroine is tougher and more stubborn than some of my past heroines. I like her, though. She is someone who is dependable and will get the job done or die trying.

What do you find is the easiest part of the writing and publishing process? What’s the hardest?

I love coming up with the idea for a story and creating! I hate editing and proofreading!!

What impact does your faith have on your writing?

Each time, I work through a sort of element of faith, so I’m studying, listening for messages from the Lord, and grappling to understand that piece of the puzzle. I think it helps me grow in faith.

Finally …

Where can we find Magnolia Storms online?

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Kobo | iBooks | Nook Goodreads

Where can we find you online?

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | BookBub

Thank you, Janet! It’s been great to meet you, and learn more about Magnolia Storms.

Thank you!! I’m so happy to be here!

Readers, what question would you like to ask Janet? Let us know in the comments!

Author Interview - Dena N Netherton

Author Interview | Dena N Netherton

Today I’d like to welcome author Dena N Netherton, to share about her new release, High Country Dilemma.

Dena N NethertonDena Netherton is the author of both Christian Romance and Christian Suspense fiction. Born and raised in northern California, she was educated at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, the University of Michigan, and the University of Northern Colorado.

Her many musical experiences as both a performer and teacher have provided her with delicious memories from which to draw when developing new characters and writing compelling stories.

Welcome, Dena! We’ll start off with some quick questions so we get to know you a little better.

What’s your favourite fruit?

Peaches. Definitely big, juicy peaches. Peach pie, peach preserves, peach ice cream. I could go on and on about peaches. Especially the ones you can get at a fruitstand near Palisades, Colorado.

Which is your favourite musical?

I’d have to say Fiddler on the Roof. The music is wonderful and the characters are richly drawn and authentic.

Where is your favourite place?

Bellingham, Washington. I’ve lived all over the country, and there are great things about each place. But the Pacific Northwest offers the San Juan Islands to the west, fun things to do in the city, and the Cascade Mountains less than an hour away. Seattle is only an hour south, and Canada is about fifteen minutes north. Love it here!

Sometimes there is no place like home. I love Oregon and Washington, because the hills and the trees remind me of my home, New Zealand.

What is your favourite Bible verse?

Gosh, there are so many. I think I’d have to choose this one: Colossians 1:13 “For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in Whom we have redemption.” (NIV Bible) Kind of sums up the Gospel, don’t you think?

A fabulous choice!

What’s something funny or quirky that not many people know about you?

I was terribly shy as a kid. Whenever I had to give a report or speech in the classroom, I’d be sick for days beforehand. But becoming a musical performer, and later, a teacher, knocked that trait out of me. Now, my problem is closing my mouth!

Now, let’s talk about your book, High Country Dilemma. Here’s the description off the back cover:

Fallon Hart has landed her dream job–directing the annual melodrama, Miss May’s Dilemma. But when Fallon arrives in Pine Ridge, Colorado, she finds her new apartment in flames. To make matters worse, her manager wants her to sing an impossible solo. Her family wants her to give up the theater and join the family jewelry business. And her selfish, controlling ex-fiancé wants her back. The biggest dilemma of all, though, is trying to make everyone happy.

Handsome firefighter, Lucas O’Farrell, is searching for his soul-mate, a lady who’ll share his love of the mountains, small-town living, and kids. He knows exactly what he doesn’t want: a sophisticated city girl like Fallon. But when they are cast as sweethearts in the melodrama, the attraction is hard to deny. Before he realizes it, he’s falling for her—hard—and it’s possible she’s starting to love him, too. But is love worth the risk if the she’s planning to return to Denver at the end of the season?

I’ve heard melodrama used in connection to (bad) fiction, but not to theatre. What is melodrama? Does it have other names?

Yes, Melodrama (note, that the term is capitalized) as a literary and dramatic form has been around for centuries. Today, Melodrama typically refers to 19th century dramas with accompanying music in which the plot is sensational and designed to appeal to the emotions.

Characters are usually sterotyped as either heroic (the strong savior), innocent (usually a helpless maiden), or the big, bad guy. There is a strong moral lesson attached. We writers avoid using melodrama in our novels, but Melodramas are supposed to be melodramatic.

Fascinating! I don’t think I’ve ever come across this type of drama before.

You have an extensive background in music and performance. How did that impact on your decision to write a novel about musical theatre?

I have so many memories of performing and of working with other singers, directors, composers, and musicians. Most of them are wonderful memories. But I’ve worked with a few really difficult directors or temperamental actors.

And I’ve had my own difficulties. I once had to learn the violin in a few weeks so I could play it onstage in an opera. I hope to write some more stories involving the theater, drawing from some of those challenges, but in a light-hearted way.

That would be a challenge! I’m told the violin is a difficult instrument to play well.

Who is your favourite character in this book, and why?

I had so much fun writing Mike, Lucas’s sidekick. We all have a ‘Mike’ in our lives. You know, the funny, irrepressible, loyal, got-your-back type of friend who’ll still be around when you’re ninety years old. Mike’s conversations with Lucas made me laugh. He’s the best kind of friend to Lucas: truthful, yet encouraging.

The character of Mike was inspired by memories of my twin brother’s best friend, Danny, in high school. Danny was always at our house, swimming in our pool, hanging out with my brother, drinking up all our milk. He was like a brother.

What idea would you like readers to take away after reading High Country Dilemma?

The theme of High Country Dilemma is God’s faithfulness. Whether we’re in the theater or in some other kind of profession, we all deal with the kind of fear which can keep us from being the person God has called us to be. Lucas helps Fallon learn that God can be trusted to strengthen and guide her, especially when she feels the weakest.

What do you find is the easiest part of the writing and publishing process? What’s the hardest?

The easiest part of writing is writing. Before I was published, all I had to do was think, research, create, and type. That’s all enjoyable and rewarding. But now that I’ve got some books traditionally published, my time is no longer my own. Juggling the amount of time spent writing, editing, communicating, doing social media, and posting my blogs takes skill and discipline.

It sounds like a challenge.

Is there an overt faith thread in High Country Dilemma? How does this impact the characters?

Yes, there is a strong faith element. Fallon’s faith has been severely tested when God didn’t rescue her from a humiliating event on stage. She fears having to step on stage again. Lucas has a strong faith, and as he grows to love her, he yearns to help her see that God can be trusted and relied on. She must keep her eyes on the Lord, and not keep dwelling over a past mistake.

That’s a great lesson!

What impact does your faith have on your writing?

I have loved writing since childhood, and I know the Lord put that ability in me for a reason. I also loved teaching, and I found tons of opportunities to write songs, and poems, and short plays for my elementary kids. Later, when my own children grew up, I clearly felt God’s call to begin seriously writing. He has led me to write devotionals, stories, articles, plays, and, eventually, full-length novels.

I love to write realistic characters who struggle with the same challenges us real-life folk do. I hope Fallon and Lucas and their friends remind readers that God is intimately acquainted with our fears and doubts, and He will help and strengthen us if we trust Him.

What’s your favourite fiction genre, and why?

It depends. Sometimes I only want to read sweet romances. Other times, I’m in the mood for a toe-zinging thriller. Last year, I read a number of non-fiction books, including biographies. I guess I’m an omni-reader!

I think that describes me as well!

What book (or books) are you currently reading?

I just finished reading a suspense novel by Michael Koryta entitled, Those Who Wish Me Dead. That book had be hooked from the first page.

Finally …

Where can we find High Country Dilemma online?

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Where can we find you online?

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram

Thank you, Dena! It’s been great to meet you, and learn more about High Country Dilemma.

Readers, what question would you like to ask Dena? Let us know in the comments! Meanwhile, you can read the introduction to High Country Dilemma below: