Saturday, May 31, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Hop

Memorial Day is set aside each year to honor the fallen... those who've given everything for our freedom. One day to wave the flag at half-staff or cry for those we've lost. Is it enough?
Not for me... I dedicate this week. I call it Memorial Week. For the fallen heroes, the wounded veterans, and all who have sacrificed for my freedom. I say, thank you.

My friend and crit partner, Amory Cannon (writing as Amryn Cross) sent me an email and said "YOU'RE IT!" Not to shy away from a challenge, I accepted. So I guess you'd like to know what all this is about, eh? Well, like the title suggests... my writing process. The how, what, and why of it? Literally. Four questions in all. Amory's answers can be found on her website if you're interested. As for me? Let's get started...

What am I working on?
Let’s see, right now I’m about halfway through my second book, Through the Raging Waters. Paul and Melissa battle Mother Nature in the town of Timber Springs, Wyoming when spring runoff hits during the storm of the century. A logging crew's missing and bigger obstacles than a raging river endanger the rescue party as the town stands on the brink of destruction. I’ll finish it then send it off to my editor before we start spit-shining the first book, To Soar on Eagles’ Wings due to be published by Prism Books in March of 2015.

In the meantime, I’m on pins and needles, waiting for the results of the 2014 ACFW Genesis Semi-Finals. Before Prism contacted me, I was one of the many… writing for the Lord… waiting for Him to move. Next thing I know... I send my my novella into Genesis... Prism offers me a contract on To Soar, then I'm a semi-finalist! Oh, He’s moving all right. Now I can’t keep up.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?
As far as the genre goes, I like to say I write Christian romantic suspense. You notice I don’t say romance or suspense individually. My writing is a mixture of the two... with a strong element of small town charm. I use a lot of description to bring the reader directly into the wilds of Wyoming and sprinkle the message of the Lord through the pages.
Wyoming life is tough. It can be brutal at times but also beautiful. Much like being a Christian. I use parallels and realistic scenarios to show faith and hope through often insurmountable odds bringing my characters to sometimes subtle, sometimes life-changing decisions.

Why do I write what I do?
It’s simple really. I write for the Lord. To testify to the Truth… to show His love, strength, and mercy to those who may not know it or, for whatever reason, need to hear it. To offer a little hope and faith in the midst of the storm of life.
Why Wyoming? I love Wyoming. It’s what I know. And the amazing things you read about in my books are real. I’ve lived them, seen them, or heard of them happening in the history books in that wonderful state.

But if I can ever get some money saved up, I'd love to travel. Maybe I’ll get to do some research in Ireland, Scotland, or Australia. I would love to write a book with a setting in one of those places, but I refuse to do it with Google as my only source of information.

How does your writing process work?

Ahh, well now… Where should I start? I’m as eclectic with my writing process as I am with my music! Everyone who knows me knows I listen to everything from Country to Jazz. Throw in Cajun and Christian and I’m in heaven.
That’s about how my writing process works. I’m serious! I start out with the characters profiles and their “stories.” I give them birthdays, characteristics, occupations, likes, dislikes, friends, enemies, histories, allergies. You name it. Even the minor ones. I even have a Pinterest board for the feature family of The Snowy Range Chronicles, the Fitzgeralds. (This is my Country Phase.)
Then I get out my white board and draw a time line. I wouldn’t call this plotting but it’s about as close as I get. The major events of the story go on the line and who’s involved. I have an overall Chronicle Timeline at the top of the board that I update as I go along in the new story. A notebook is next. Brainstorm time… I write down the major events on a piece of paper and brainstorm different ways to start the book. (This is my Jazz phase.)
After the brainstorm, I write. If I’m fortunate my editing brain doesn’t kick in and I can get some serious work done. Usually at the beginning of a book, I don’t have this problem. It’s halfway through a book (like now with Through the Raging Waters), it starts intruding. (This is my Cajun phase.)
Now what? When they’re finished, I send chapters to my crit group for critiques. I write. I edit then write. I blog. I write. I promote. I write. I work as a pharmacist then write. I spend time with my family then write. I go to writer’s meetings. I learn then write. I go to church and pray. LOL (I call this my Christian phase. It takes a lot of faith and His strength to finish a book. J )

So there's my writing process... what do you think? A little nuts or is it normal? Not sure? Me neither.
Do you want to know who I've tagged? I'm blessed to have four great writers answer the call. Check these great writers out:

BECKY LYLES

Although she lives in Idaho, Becky Lyles knows all about Wyoming. I met Becky when she guest posted on my blog, Inspirational Moments. We became fast friends as we talked about the wide open spaces and beautiful mountains of home. Don’t miss her answers. You’ll find them soon on her blog, widgetwords.



GINGER MARCINKOWSKI

Ginger Marcinkowski’s another wonderful author I met through my blog. She writes powerful, awesome stories. She has one scheduled for release in July! I love Ginger and I know you will too. She’ll have her answers on her blog, NovelTravelers so keep an eye out.



ANGIE BRASHEAR


Christian fantasy writer, Angie Brashear fashions fantastical realms and awesome characters in her young adult stories. Her debut novel, Of the Persecuted releases this month. Don't miss it. She's a true blessing and pleasure to have on my blog. I can't wait to read more from this wonderful author. You can find her writing process answers on her blog, Venturing to Other Worlds soon. 


MISTY RUSSON
Misty Russon’s a Rough Diamond Writer. What’s that? We’re a group of Christian writers mining for the Lord’s brilliance with graphite. Our crit group started a blog, The Diamond Mine of Christian Fiction. You may have heard of it. If not, that’s okay. You have now! Misty’s an unpublished but terrific writer who pours her heart onto the page. You’ll find her answers on her blog, mistysmusings 4u (as well as her writing!).



In Christ,

Renee
Christian Fiction... where the wild meets the Forgiven

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Special Coffee Corner Edition with Fantasy Author Angie Brasher:

Touch of Relaxation

I’m throwing a curve ball in the bottom of the ninth this time, folks. As you know, I usually spot a review on Inspirational Moments the last week of the month but instead, I decided to host a wonderful author. So grab a cup, get comfortable, and give a warm welcome to Angie Brashear. Here we go!


Welcome back to the Corner, Angie. Springtime’s in the air. It’s such a busy time of year! Your new book, Never Let Go is due to be released soon. How’s this affecting your schedule? Or need I ask?

I'm excited to visit the Corner again. Thanks for inviting me back, Renee. My schedule surrounding the release is…well, hectic. But also fun.

Never Let Go has actually been retitled. The new title, Of the Persecuted, reflects the theme of my debut novel. In the midst of working full-time outside of my home and raising three great kiddos, I’ve had the opportunity to spend time working with a new cover designer, editor, and formatter to finalize many necessary details to prepare for the release. Though I don’t have a moment to spare throughout each day, I’m grateful for my many blessings. Springtime only makes such activities much more enjoyable.


I can understand what you mean about not having a spare moment. I feel the same way. Sometime I pass myself walking out the door! When the Lord called you as a writer, did you think you’d be where you are today? Ever wonder if you heard right?


Doubting my ability as a writer and my relevance as a Christian, I ignored the Lord’s call to write. And I definitely wondered if I’d heard Him right. At the time—twelve years into a career in public education, in which I work with students with disabilities, and ten years into parenthood—I simply could not imagine taking on another task. Especially one which challenged me to step out of my comfort zone. But here I am, writing. Hoping to reach at least one lost, lonely teenager…


What an awesome goal! You have a beautiful, godly heart. I know this sounds a little odd, but… If God hadn’t made you put the pen to the page, what else do you think you’d be? Now, I’m not talking about “ordinary” run-of-the-mill careers here. The sky’s the limit. I once dreamed of becoming a ballerina. God nixed that one. Or maybe my own foolishness did… Either way, did you ever dream of being something?


Actually I did. An Olympian. I love to run, but life often gets in the way so my running career dwindled after college. But I do still imagine myself standing on a podium with Olympic Gold dangling from my neck. Hey, you never know…


I can see you now with the National Anthem playing in the background. Can’t you? Okay, back to the topic at hand. What do you write and why do you write it?


I write fantasy with a strong thread of romance. My goal is to reach young adult females much like the lost, lonely girl I once was. As a nonbeliever for the majority of my life, I enjoyed reading speculative fiction but it was the The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis which ultimately opened my eyes to Christ. My prayer is that my stories will do the same for others. I also hope believers will enjoy the Christian undertones of my work.


I can’t wait to read your first book, Angie. I believe God’s going to use your gift to reach both Christians and non-Christians alike. For those searching for answers or struggling to find their way, the Lord promises to never to forsake us. So even when we think we’ve been abandoned in our endeavors, He’s with us. What can you share with our readers to encourage them?


Laminin. A strange word, right? Especially if you’re not into science, which I’m not. But, in my opinion, all Christians should take the time to Google an image of Laminin. It’s a protein cell that holds the body together, a “glue” of sorts. And…it’s shaped like a cross. Eeek! The protein is reflective of God’s design. Colossians 1:17 says, “He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” So you see, Christ sustains us in so many ways. He never abandons us. How can we not be encouraged by such truth? I’m grateful to my friend and fellow author Ginny Hamlin for sharing the link to Louie Giglio’s exceptional description of God's greatness.


Awesome! God is so awesome. He’s in all things and cannot be denied. Thank You, Father.
Speaking of thanks, is there someone in your life you’d like to thank or hug? To give a heartfelt pat on the back for a job well done?


During the moment of my salvation, the Lord revealed to me all the occasions in which He’d protected me as a nonbeliever. Part of His protection included putting Christians in my path. One such Christian was my college coach, Lanny Pettit. I’m honestly not sure where I’d be without his influence. Coach Pettit was—and still remains—my coach, my mentor, and my friend. There simply aren’t enough words of appreciation or hugs to truly demonstrate my affection for him. But Christ looks very good on Coach Pettit!


Being a writer and author, especially with other full-time duties in life, can place quite a strain on a life whether it be Christian or not. So often, strength wanes in the face of the extra burden. How does your faith provide strength for you?


While in college, my cross country teammates and I lived by Philippians 4:13. We usually began and ended each day with intense and exhausting distance training. Because we aimed to glorify God with our efforts and attitudes, we focused on allowing Him to work through us. It is through Philippians 4:13 that my faith continues to provide me strength, for I’m motivated by the desire to glorify Him in all of my actions. I pray my endeavors as a writer do nothing less. In Him, we can do all things to His glory.


I agree and join you in those prayers, Angie. I admire you. You are quite the woman. Thank you for coming to the Corner today. I can’t wait to read Of the Persecuted. Let us know when it’s released. May we have a snippet until then?


Of course! And you’re very welcome. Thank you for having me back. I enjoyed it.




Laila Pennedy’s heart pounded.

The noose pinched her neck. She struggled for breath. Muffled voices drifted from the crowd up to the gallows. To her left, a long line of captives trembled. And right—past her brother—more than fifty Faithfuls hung limp, swaying above the platform. She stood on a large wooden barrel in the middle of the line. Too many would die today.

Beyond the mass of enemies, archers congregated amidst scattered stone cottages and log homes in the quaint village. Farther in the distance, the morning sun shone on the peaks of the Willow Mountains, her refuge since Faithfuls lost the War of Submission. Oh, what she wouldn’t give to be in the coolness of the upper forest, in exile with other Faithfuls. Safe from the enemy.

If only…. Instead, rivulets of sweat trickled down her legs inside fitted suede pants and into knee-high leather boots. Her shirt clung to her skin, the once beautiful cloth ragged and frayed. Her long, matted blonde hair stuck to her face and neck. So much for the gorgeous locks her mother once adored.

“Laila,” her older brother said, his raspy voice tugging at her heart as he too awaited death.

She forced herself to look into Niles’s tear-filled, deep green eyes and shuddered at the noose around his neck. If only she could reach out to him one last time, but her arms were bound behind her back. Soreness strained her shoulders. Her raw wrists stung under the taut rope, which had ripped open her skin.

“I’m sorry, Sissy,” Niles mouthed.

Sorry? She shook her head. No, this was her fault.




Giveaway!!!
Of the Persecuted 
Winner’s choice...

E-copy or Paperback edition, enter via Rafflecopter below



a Rafflecopter giveaway



About the Book:



Laila Pennedy awaits death by hanging. For the Rendow Clan rules the Woodlands Region, aiming to slaughter the Faithful. And she deserves to die. But Lars Landre, the man destined to lead the Faithful out of persecution, has other plans hidden behind his rare and mysterious blue eyes. Rescue.
Following the daring escape, Laila seeks the path of a warrior and vows revenge against the Rendow Clan. She embarks on a dangerous journey with Lars, one in which they endeavor to reach the promised safety of a magical village, to train for battle, and to ultimately assure freedom for those with faith in the Maker.

Clashes of weapons and souls. Brutal loss of lives. Unrequited love. How in all the Woodlands will Laila survive?










About the Author:


When Angie Brashear isn’t working or taking care of her family, she writes. Usually at night after her kids fall asleep. She’s a fan of speculative fiction and an avid runner, both of which perplex her nonfiction-reading, football-loving husband. Saved in her early twenties, Angie is grateful for the Lord’s presence in all aspects of her life. She is originally from Rockland, Maine and currently resides in Cameron, Texas with her husband and three children. Follow her at http://facebook.com/AngieBrashearAuthor and http://angiebrashear.com.




Lead photo credit: HalasiZsolt via photopin cc

Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Coffee Corner with Carole Brown

A Touch of Relaxation

It’s coffee time! The Corner welcomes Carole Brown. Join us while we talk about writing, life, hobbies, and books including her new release Hog Insane. Pour a cup, grab some cake, and get comfortable. Let’s get started…

It’s good to see you again, Carole. Welcome to the Coffee Corner. Your writing’s inspirational and a true pleasure to read. As a published author, what do you find is your biggest challenge?

Thanks so much for having me, Renee. Now that I have three books out, I would have to say finding the time to write and/or keeping to a schedule to accomplish my goals. I spend a lot time, purposely, on marketing. I enjoy it but I also realize it takes a lot of time.

Three books?

Yes, I have two fiction, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman and Hog Insane and one non- fiction: a companion book to my first fiction one: West Virginia Scrapbook: From the Life of Caralynne Hayman with discussion questions, tidbits of information about West Virginia, quotes, recipes and a fictional introduction to the origin of the Children of Righteous Cain.

Wow, you've been busy, lady. I remember The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman. What a powerful story. I’m sure more people would like to know about the woman behind such a book. What one word could be used to describe you? Your writing? Why?

Me? Passionate. I mean, I’m focused and serious about putting out the best I can write.

My writing?  Purposeful. I love to bring certain topics into my stories that can enlighten and/or encourage.

In The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman, abuse, revenge and redemption are prominent topics. Serious? Very. Important? Definitely. Real? Oh, yes! But in Hog Insane, the feeling is light and fun. Behind the scene is the thread of marital relationships. Minor, and written, I hope, in an unobtrusive way, but still there encouraging couples to work out their problems.

I enjoy including touches of romance, humor, wittiness or whimsy in my work. It gives serious novels a bit of lightness. Still, somewhere there must be a purpose.

What an awesome person you are, Carole. No wonder I loved your book. By the way, I might have heard you have a new one out. Can you tell us about it?

Love to! Hog Insane is a lighthearted and fun cozy mystery totally different from my first book. This is what it’s about:

A dead body, a missing motorcycle, a strange key, and dope are at the bottom of the trouble Denton and Alex Davies, and Taffy, their Jack Russell Terrier, run into when they head for their first stop in the Smoky Mountains immediately after early retirement.
All Denton wants is to fish and recapture his wife’s love. Instead, they find a body with a bullet hole in his head. None of the campground people, or even the sheriff, pretend to like Denton and his snoopy questions, and everyone seems to be lying.
Denton wrestles with his personal demons of self-blame over his nephew’s death while riding a bike. Alex resents Denton’s riding roughshod over her feelings. When he thinks her love is fading, he’s determined to woo her back. But if he doesn’t find the young man’s murderer, their love may stretch to the breaking point.

You think we can have a peek?

Since you asked so nicely! 

            
Chapter One

“You what?”
            “I bought—”
            “I know what you said,” I growled. A vision of my wife’s closet back home, filled with rows of shoes—basic colors like black, blue, brown, and white, and a rainbow of colors—flashed across my mind’s eye and nearly blinded me. Alexandria Davies had more shoes than any middle class lady should admit to.
We strolled toward the campground restaurant. The lights from the office behind us cast weird shadows on the shortcut path. I scowled and opened my mouth to let Alex hear why she didn’t need that eighty-sixth pair of shoes.
An explosive crack split the air around us and blasted the fussing right out of my head. I dropped to the mossy ground and pulled Alex down with me, breathing hard, my eyes searching the shadowy darkness closing in on us.
The throbbing rumble of a fast approaching Hog drowned out the creaks of nightlife, as the bike tore down the road that ran parallel with the path we were on. In a blur of silver and black, the sole rider wove from side to side in an imbecilic pattern.
Before I could dwell on it, a small, dark car roared by, twenty feet or so behind the bike. All the windows were dark except one, and something protruded from it. Something long, narrow, and ominous.
I blinked and hugged the edge of the road even tighter. Couldn’t be a gun.  Nah. Ludicrous. 

Oh, cool… I can’t wait to read this one, too. You know, I started writing short stories with a hint of intrigue when I was a kid. Now I write suspense. How did you start writing mysteries?

I love suspense and mysteries; have always loved them. My very favorite of all genres. I wrote youth mysteries when just a child and teen so it was natural to gravitate toward something that was and is a passion of mine.

Time for relaxation is a must. Do you have any hobbies crowded in your busy schedule?

Oh, yeah. I understand that!

One of my hobbies is collecting music boxes. Anything unique, interesting and/or old may attract my attention. Right now, I have over a hundred. The different kinds I own include: themed music boxes (like Christmas, weddings, love, Valentines), handmade (like the spider I created), old ones (like the couple dancing together). Some I’ve purchased; others have been gifts.

I also love quotes and handwrite them in journals when I can squeeze in the time.

Then I also take tons of pictures. Scenery and my grand boys are high on my interest list lately. I’m always looking for something different to photograph but sometimes you don’t realize you have a “winner” until after you see it in print.

Your hobbies sound very similar to mine. When I find the time that is. Although I don’t have as vast an assortment, I collect snow globes. It’s been a passion of mine for a very long time. I also love to take pictures. I’m the one with a camera in hand on vacation. I wish I had more time to do it. Back to the interview… What’s next on the literary menu?

Plans are for the release of the second book in my “Insanity” cozy mystery series sometime this summer. It’s called Bat Crazy and takes place in New Mexico. When the third book is released, it will be entitled, Daffy’s Duck.

Then the first book in my WWII Spies trilogy will be releasing later this summer, and let me say, I love the cover. It catches part of the third chapter scene perfectly. This series is dear to my heart in more ways than one. I truly hope your readers will stay in touch and look for With Music in Their Hearts!

Ohhh, bats… <shudder> Now I like the sound of Daffy’s Duck. What a neat title. Your Spies book too. Lady, you’re on fire! Thanks for stopping by the Corner today, Carole. I really loved having you.

Thank you, Renee. I’ve enjoyed answering your questions and appreciate the opportunity.

In addition to this awesome interview, Carole’s giving away one e-book edition of her new release Hog Insane. Enter for your chance to win now! Do you have any questions for Carole? Shoot away. Leave them in the comments section at the bottom of the post. Thanks for joining us today.



a Rafflecopter giveaway


About the Book:

A dead body, a missing motorcycle, a strange key, and dope are at the bottom of the trouble Denton and Alex Davies, and Taffy, their Jack Russell Terrier, run into when they head for their first stop in the Smoky Mountains immediately after early retirement.


Available for purchase here:
Amazon print:  http://bit.ly/1fd3cCQ
Amazon kindle:  http://amzn.to/1eDC39t
Books a Million:  http://bit.ly/1fd3cCQ
Barnes & Noble:  http://bit.ly/1dvNA6z


About the Author:

Carole Brown not only has her debut novel, The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman available for purchase now, but a companion book called West Virginia Scrapbook: From the Life of Caralynne Hayman, filled with tidbits of information about West Virginia, quotes, recipes from West Virginia and from Caralynne’s life, pictures and discussion questions for the novel. On November 18, the first book in her mystery series, Hog Insane, released. It’s a fun, lighthearted novel introducing the characters, Denton and Alex Davies.

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?


Connect with her here:


Join her on these blogs also:
Barn Door Book Loft: http://www.barndoorbookloft.net/


Lead photo credit: HalasiZsolt via photopin cc

Saturday, May 10, 2014

GUEST: Sherri Wilson Johnson's The Right Door; The Wrong Way



Recently, I was in downtown Atlanta with my son for an appointment and went to the restroom. When I got into the stall, the latch bolt wouldn't slide across into the keeper because it was misaligned. I had no way to lock the door and wasn't doing my business with it unlocked. So I decided to change stalls. However, the door wouldn't open.

I panicked!

I was stuck in the stall.

In a bathroom in downtown Atlanta.

With my son waiting out in the hall.

How in the world was I going to get out? I pushed and pushed. Squeezed and squeezed. Finally, I made my way out of the stall and into the one beside it.

As I unlocked the door of stall #2, I realized something profound—the door opened by pulling it into the stall. In stall #1, I was forcing the door open by trying to PUSH it. I'm pretty sure I broke the hinges on that door. You should've seen my son's face when I told him what I'd done.

And then something else hit me. Instead of feeling like idiots when we push through a door before God has opened it or assuming we're going through a wrong door, maybe we need to look at it like we're simply going through it the wrong way. Maybe we don't need to push so hard (or at all). Maybe we're right where we're supposed to be for this season (the whole "God's timing is perfect" thing). Perhaps we need to change our approach to a situation.

The wonderful thing about God is that He's patient and waits for us to figure things out. He always gives instructions. We just need to listen. Had I not been in such a hurry to use the restroom, I'd have noticed that I was pushing the door instead of pulling it.

Most recently in my life, this has applied to my writing. When I've gotten a rejection, my gut reaction is to blame it on the market or the narrow-mindedness of the editors. When I stop and think about it, I almost always see there's something I could do differently to make it better. Sometimes, I see the timing’s not right.

This applies to all areas of our lives. Jobs. Friendships. Ministry. Love. What door might you be trying to push through that perhaps you're not doing it the right way or it's just not the right time?

By Sherri Wilson Johnson


GIVEAWAY

For an e-copy of To Dance Once More
Enter Now via Rafflecopter!





About the Book: (the prize)


When Victorian debutante, Lydia Barrington, accidentally discovers that her father has promised her to the son of an unscrupulous businessman in payment for his own debts, she must make the biggest decision of her life…to concede or to fight. To Dance Once More explores the possibilities for a young woman, who longs to find God’s will for her life, yet is faced with a decision that will change her life forever. If she follows her heart, she disobeys her father; if she abides by her father’s wishes, she betrays herself.

About the Author:

Sherri Wilson Johnson lives in Georgia with her husband and two children. She loves dreaming of romantic places and romance in general–good, clean romance. She is a bird-watcher, loves the ocean, roller coasters, ice cream, her family and her Chihuahua. She is a writer, blogger, virtual assistant, freelance editor and a former homeschooling mom. Sherri is the author of To Dance Once More (OakTara), Song of the Meadowlark (OakTara) and To Laugh Once More (ChooseNOW Publishing, Dec 2014), and is a columnist for Habits for a Happy Home and Choose NOW Ministries.



Leading picture courtesy of  http://www.freedigitalphotos.net