Tag: Christine Dillon

Do you buy and/or read books from debut authors?

Bookish Question | Week 107 | Do you buy and/or read books from debut authors?

Yes—both.

I get a lot of books from debut authors from NetGalley. I’ve now been reviewing for several years, so some of these once-debut authors are now established writers who’ve been added to my must-read list—authors like Kara Isaac, Melissa Tagg, and Becky Wade.

I have also reviewed books for many debut indie (self-published) authors.

Some of my favourites are:

Grace in Strange Disguise by Christine Dillon
The Escape to the West series by Nerys Leigh
The Criss Cross series by CC Warrens
The Land Uncharted series by Keeley Brooke Keith

Here are some debut novels I’ve read this year that I recommend:

The White City by Grace Hitchcock
The Baggage Handler by David Rawlings
Northern Deception by Laurie Wood
Whose Waves are These by Amanda Dykes
Love and Other Mistakes by Jessica Kate

What about you? Do you buy or read books from debut authors?

What titles do you recommend?

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!

 

Which lesser-known Christian authors do you wish more readers knew about?

Bookish Question #80 | Which lesser-known Christian authors do you wish more readers knew about?

It’s easy to find out about the big-name authors in Christian publishing.

Think Francine Rivers and Karen Kingsbury. It’s not hard to find out about some of the middle rank—the authors whose books you see reviewed, or you find on the shelf of your local Christian bookstore.

But, as a reader, it can be harder to find out about the lesser-known Christian authors.

It’s equally hard—or harder—for those authors to find readers.

I try and feature some lesser-known Christian authors on my blog, either through book reviews, author interviews, or First Line Friday posts. But I still have to find out about them somehow, and that’s often through them contacting me to request a review or interview.

Anyway, here’s my completely biased list of ten lesser-known Christian authors I suggest you watch out for:

What do you think? Which lesser-known Christian author do you wish more readers knew about?

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 54 | Grace in the Shadows by Christine Dillon

It’s First Line Friday! That means it’s time to pick up the nearest book and quote the first line. Today I’m sharing from Grace in the Shadows by Australian author Christine Dillon. It’s the sequel to Grace in Strange Disguise, and I think it’s even better! Here’s the first line:

First line from Grace in the Shadows by Christine Dillon: It was love at first sight.

What’s the book nearest you, and what’s the first line?

About Grace in the Shadows

Physiotherapist Esther has survived cancer, but wounds within her family remain unhealed. Is her revived faith the reason for the rift or could a simmering secret be the root cause?

Cosmetics consultant Rachel buried her past – and her father’s God – but the past refuses to stay buried. Will she continue to run or is confronting her pain the way to freedom?

Two women. Two different lives.

One collision course with truth.

Can God’s grace shine even in the darkest of shadows?

You can find Grace in the Shadows online at:

Amazon | Goodreads

Click the button to check out what my fabulous fellow FirstLineFriday bloggers are sharing today:

You can then click the link which will take you to the master page of all this week’s #FirstLineFriday posts.

And you can click here to check out my previous FirstLineFriday posts.

Share your first line in the comments, and happy reading!

Which Christian books have you recommended to a friend?

Bookish Question #48: Which Christian books have you recommended to a friend?

Lots! I am a book blogger, after all. A lot of my reviews are recommendations, although they’re often recommendations to the world at large rather than to specific friends.

So which Christian books have I recommended most recently?

The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner

Recommended to friends looking for a fun contemporary romance read, but one that’s both 100% Christian and 100% set in the real world with fallen people where not everyone is a Christian. Click here to read my review.

Grace in Strange Disguise by Christine Dillon


Recommended to someone looking for a Christian book that’s not a romance, and that makes the reader think.

I edited Grace in Strange Disguise, so haven’t reviewed it. But you can check out this review from Natalie McNee at Australasian Writers.

 

Atonement Child by Francine Rivers

Atonement Child is a classic story from the author of Redeeming Love, and A Voice in the Wind. It’s about a college student who falls pregnant after being raped (skip Chapter One if that bothers you), and who has to fight to keep her baby. It’s a challenging read, but it’s an encouraging read for people who are hurting. It also has the dubious honour of the book I loan out and never get back. I’ve now bought it three times. Yes, it’s that good.

Which Christian books have you recommended to a friend?

Let me know in the comments, then pop over to Australasian Christian Writers and join in the conversation!

Do you read books by new authors?

Bookish Question #33 | Do you read books by new-to-you authors?

We all have favourite authors—authors where we’ve read every novel they’ve written.

Where we stalk their websites and social media for cover reveals and announcements about their next release. Where we click the Amazon Kindle pre-order button as soon as it appears, or where we have a standing order with our friendly local Christian bookstore? (That is normal, right?)

[If you want to know my favourite authors, sign up for my email list and I’ll send you a list. Actually, several lists. One for each of my favourite genres. But they are all in one document. Although I need to update it.]

Then there are the good authors, the ones we’ll read if we find a book in the library, if it’s on sale on Kindle, and if we don’t already have eleventy-billion books in our to-read pile (I know some of you can count the number of books on your to-read pile on the fingers of one hand. Just don’t judge the rest of us. Please).

But what about new authors? Do you read books by new authors?

Of course, “new authors” can have different meanings. It could be debut author, where you’re reading their first ever book (like The Secret Life of Sarah Hollenbeck by Bethany Turner). It could be debut fiction author—someone with one or more non-fiction books who has now made the jump to fiction (like Grace in Strange Disguise by Christine Dillon).

Or it could be a new-to-you author—one who has published other novels, but none that you’ve read. I had that recently. I read Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan, thinking it was her first novel. It wasn’t, but her other novels were Love Inspired Suspense.

Being a book reviewer means I read a lot of debut authors, and new-to-me authors. In fact, I often seek out books from debut or newer authors, because I want to see what’s trending in Christian fiction. Who are the new authors? What genres are they writing? What is changing in terms of writing styles.

I want to know this as a reader, because I don’t want to miss out on good books from new authors. I want to know as a reviewer, so I can recommend books to people who will enjoy them. And I want to know as a freelance editor, because I want to know I’m giving my clients up-to-date advice.

And I don’t want to miss out on good books.

What about you? Do you read books by new-to-you authors?

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 10 | Grace in Strange Disguise

It’s Friday, which means it’s time to open the book nearest you and share the first line

Today I’m sharing from Grace in Strange Disguise, the debut novel from Christine Dillon:

“You have cancer.”

Acid surged in Esther’s throat. No, no, no. Impossible. She couldn’t have cancer. William Macdonald’s daughter couldn’t have cancer.

I edited Grace in Strange Disguise, which means I have already read it (and I’m anxiously waiting for my paper copy. But I’ve just had an email with the first four chapters … so it counts as my first line for today!)

About the Book

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?

 

You can check out what these lovely FirstLineFriday bloggers are sharing today:

Bookworm Mama | Singing Librarian Books | Faithfully Bookish

Radiant Light | Encouraging Words from the Tea Queen

All the Book Blog Names are Taken | Robin’s Nest

Fiction Aficionado | Bibliophile Reviews | Kathleen Denly

Lauraine’s Notes | With A Joyful Noise | A Baker’s Perspective

Joy of Reading | C Jane Read | Moments Dipped in Ink

Molly’s Cafinated Reads | Romances of the Cross | Christian Fiction Girl

It’s Storytime With Van Daniker | Reading Is My SuperPower

Alicia G Ruggieri | Susan Loves Books

If you would like to join FirstLineFriday, contact Carrie at at Reading Is My SuperPower, Rachel at Bookworm Mama, Sydney at Singing Librarian Books, or Beth at Faithfully Bookish. And check out my previous FirstLineFriday posts.

Share your first line in the comments, and happy reading!

You can find Grace in Strange Disguise online at:

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Goodreads

You can also click here to read my interview with Christine Dillon (and enter the giveaway), or click here to go directly to the giveaway page.

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.