THE COPPER BOX

Today, we welcome debut author, Suzanne Bratcher, whom I met a few winters ago in Arizona. I’ve visited Jerome, the setting for her mystery, and even read a bit of the story early on. Suzanne is offering a free print copy of her novel to one fortunate commenter. Enjoy! 

Suzanne, I’d like to know how the plot idea came to you, and if you saw the ending from the start, or if the story evolved as you wrote. 

The plot grew out of the setting. Jerome, Arizona advertizes itself as “the largest ghost town in America” and “the billion dollar copper camp.” From my many visits to Jerome, I knew it would be the perfect place for a mystery, particularly a mystery with a connection to the past. I wanted to use the copper connection, which is so apparent in Jerome, so a copper box became the object someone was willing to kill for. I think of mystery writing as telling a story upside down and backwards. To do that I have to know the ending before I start writing.

Tell us how the setting influenced the characters of your novel. 

Because Jerome is a ghost town, I imagined characters who had come to Jerome to face ghosts from their own past. Marty Greenlaw’s ghost was a four-year-old girl with golden hair who appeared in a recurring nightmare, a child who turned out to be Marty’s little sister who died twenty-two years before. Paul Russell’s ghost was his dead wife Linda, killed in a car wreck Paul blamed himself for. He was in Jerome for the summer doing his best to fulfill Linda’s dream of rebuilding an old house across the road from Marty’s grandmother’s house.

 

Your title and cover certainly attract the reader – please explain how they came to be. 

I wanted a title that would make a reader wonder what the book was about. Boxes always make me curious because I wonder what might be in them. The cover was designed by Diane Cretsinger Turpin of Mantle Rock Publishers. Diane read a synopsis of the book and then asked me about covers I liked on books I’d read. I sent her several, and she went to work. She sent me three or four ideas, and I picked the concept of the young woman and the copper mine. This cover is what she came up with. I’m really pleased with how it turned out.

Do you have another book in the works? Tell us how it compares to The Copper Box

I’m finishing a romantic suspense novel called Guardians of the Canyon. I started it while my agent, Jim Hart, was looking for the right publisher for The Copper Box. Guardians is set in Arizona, and the two main characters are a woman and a man who fall in love, but the plot isn’t a mystery; it’s suspense. I’m also starting to consider possibilities for a sequel to The Copper Box. Jerome is a perfect setting for a series of mysteries, and Marty and Paul make a good team.

Any advice you’d give fledgling authors, and lessons you’ve learned along the way that might help others avoid pitfalls? 

Read, read, read! Find contemporary books you wish you’d written and study how the writer put the story together. When an agent or an editor makes suggestions about your writing, don’t get defensive. Listen and take it to heart. The published version of The Copper Box is very different—and much better—then my first vision of the story. The dual point of view, the starting point, and even the genre all grew out of comments I first took as criticism. But the more I thought about each comment, the more I saw new possibilities for the story.

Thanks so much for being my guest, and congratulations on your DEBUT AUTHOR DAY!!!  

Thanks for having me. I’d like to let your readers know of an early order incentive I’m offering. Anyone who orders the paper copy of The Copper Box by June 12 and sends a copy of the receipt to suzannebratcher@gmail.com will receive the free feature article, “The Story Behind the Story.” It tells about my personal connection to Jerome and goes into more detail about how The Copper Box came to be written.

Could You Write for Chicken Soup For the Soul?

Tracy Crump, our guest this week, has some ideas for writers – and a GIVEAWAY of one Chicken Soup for the Soul book. Enjoy! Welcome, Tracy. 

CS Inspiration for Teachers NEWHow did I come to publish eighteen stories in Chicken Soup for the Soul books?

It’s all Marylane’s doing.

Shortly after I began writing, I joined a writers group led by Marylane Wade Koch. One day she emailed to say Chicken Soup was doing a second book for the nurse’s soul. She knew I had worked as a nurse before I had children and encouraged me to submit.

Me? Nursing was so long ago. Besides, Chicken Soup would never publish anything I wrote. I let the deadline pass.

A few days later, Marylane emailed again. “They’ve extended the deadline for the nurse’s soul book. Why don’t you try submitting something?”

Ok. Now she was pushing. But what could I write about?

I finally thought of one story. And then another. And another. I ended up submitting five stories. They held three for consideration and chose two to publish. Me! In Chicken Soup for the Soul.

CS for Nurse's Soul-book jacket

So what I want you to learn from my story is: If I can do it, you can do it.

Excellent Market

Chicken Soup is a great market for both experienced and inexperienced writers. Open to submissions from anyone, each anthology features 101 stories from writers just like you.

Every book has a unique theme, and Chicken Soup usually has five to ten books in the works at any given time. They publish true inspirational stories and poems, and even though they are a general market series, editors allow writers to include an element of faith. What a great opportunity for Christian writers.

Nice Pay

While it’s not a fortune, Chicken Soup does pay a solid $200 per accepted story or poem. That’s not bad for a piece under 1200 words.

And contributors also get 10 free books per story published. They can be given as gifts or sold at back-of-the-room events. A nice perk.

Fun Workshops

Now eighteen stories later, I conduct workshops on writing for the best-selling series in publishing history. My writing partners and I teach what Chicken Soup wants, what they don’t want, and how to stir up a winning story. And attendees have a blast in our breakout sessions doing mind mapping and dissecting chickens. (Don’t worry—no animals are harmed in the making of a story.)

So why don’t you try your hand at writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul?

If I can do it, you can do it!

 

Thanks Tracy – I hope someone who reads this will give it a go!  

Bio: Tracy Crump loves to tell stories (the good kind) and has published two dozen of them in anthologies, including Chicken Soup for the Soul. She conducts workshops and webinars on writing for the popular series and recently began taking the show on the road, partnering with writers who want to bring “Stirring the Pot: Writing for Chicken Soup for the Soul” to their area. She has also published numerous articles and devotionals in publications such as Focus on the Family, Mature Living, ParentLife, and Upper Room. Her free writers newsletter includes original articles from industry professionals such as Liz Curtis Higgs and Angela Hunt as well as story callouts for Chicken Soup and other anthologies. Visit Tracy at www.TracyCrump.com or www.WriteLifeWorkshops.com.

Pursuing Gold – Striving for Excellence

Cynthia Simmons not only writes about characters who face huge odds, she’s faced them herself. Please tell us about your experience, Cynthia.

Have you ever faced a task so daunting and intimidating you wanted to run the opposite direction? I did. We homeschooled all of our children, but then the Lord presented me with a special gift: my fifth child with severe disabilities. I was already a busy mother, but had found my sweet spot, my comfortable zone in teaching.

When God landed sweet little Caleb in my lap, I was quite frustrated because I felt I couldn’t do more. That feeling only grew as he turned out to have grand mal seizures and multiple disabilities. The psychologist who tested my son commented on the myriad of weaknesses without corresponding strengths to help him overcome.

I remember telling the Lord I’d had enough, and that someone would write on my tombstone, “She Homeschooled.” Certainly I would be teaching him forever since getting him to learn even the simplest task took Herculean strength.

Just imagine teaching a child to count. I always handed my kids blocks, and we’d pick up a block as we said the numbers, “one, two, three, four.” That worked with my other children, but failed horribly with Caleb. You see, he expended so much effort to pick up a block that he couldn’t say the numbers. Getting the numbers in the correct order was almost impossible too. (We call that sequencing, which was one of his disabilities.)

Of course, I didn’t know the list of problems he harbored when I started. His bloodcurdling screams rattled me. Imagine your son screaming, “I’m stupid. I’m stupid, I’m stupid.” Oh how that hurt!

Looking back, I see the Lord’s guidance at his birth. We’d named him Caleb after the Caleb in the Old Testament who trusted God could defeat the Canaanites. After wandering in the wilderness with the other Jewish people, he was seventy-eight when he entered the Promised Land and eighty-five when he climbed the mountain to defeat the giants the Israelites had feared. We told Caleb that story so many times. His namesake persevered, and he and I had to do the same thing.

“…we exult in our tribulations knowing that tribulation brings perseverance…” Romans 5

I didn’t want to give up, though I often felt as if I were pushing a bus up a mountain. When I stopped to measure, I’d gone an inch. Caleb reversed letters and numbers, making it hard for him to read or write. I had to use special techniques to help him discern the shape and direction of anything on paper. We wrote letters in whipped cream, sand, cookie dough, and play dough.

It still took him months to connect the shape of the letter with the name and sound. After that gut wrenching battle, he learned to read and write. Caleb has boundless compassion for anyone unhappy or suffering. Just like a bee rushes to nectar, he finds that one discouraged person and tries to make him or her feel better.

I’ve given you a brief summary of Caleb’s intense battles. Now I understand staying with the job, and striving for excellence was what God wanted for my husband and I. Both of us grew during those grueling years. We worked hard, and God blessed our efforts. Let me encourage you to do the same in whatever difficulty you face.

 

PG cover

With his father dead and his business partner incapacitated, Peter Chandler inherits the leadership of a bank in economic crisis. With only a newly-minted college degree and little experience, Peter joins his partner’s daughter, Mary Beth Roper, in a struggle to keep C&R Bank afloat while the Civil War rages around Chattanooga. Political pressure for unsecured loans of gold to the government stirs up trouble as tempers and prices rise. Their problems multiply when Mary Beth discovers counterfeit money with Peter’s forged signature. Can they find the forger before the bank fails? The two friends must pursue gold on behalf of their business, as they learn to pursue their heavenly Father to find hope and peace. Cynthia is giving away a print copy of this novel to one commenter on this blog. 

Cynthia 3

A Chattanooga native, Cynthia L Simmons and her husband have five children and reside in Atlanta. A Bible teacher and former homeschool mother, she writes a column for Leading Hearts Magazine. She conducts writing workshops, served as past president of Christian Authors Guild and directs Atlanta Christian Writing Conference. “Cyndi” is fond of history and offers younger ladies the elegance of God’s wisdom. She hosts Heart of the Matter Radio and co-founded Homeschool Answers. Her author website is www.clsimmons.com.

An Unlikely Romance Author

Welcome to Janell Wojtowicz, with her debut novel, Embracing Hope. If you’d like to qualify to win an e-book copy, please leave a comment below. 

Embracing_Hope_CoverHow did you chose your genre, Janell?

If someone had told me thirty, twenty, even ten years ago that I would publish a Christian romance novel, I’d have guffawed and rolled my eyes. Puleeease! I’m a serious writer! I’ve reported on the Iowa caucuses, covered a murder in a small town, written fund-raising letters telling true stores of tragedy and triumph, and pitched centennial celebrations to national media.

No way would I write sappy love stories where there are always happy endings—usually with a handsome man on one knee holding a diamond in a little black velvet box—or better yet, a beautiful bride in a princess ball gown floating down the aisle to that handsome man.

Well, crow should be my main course at every meal. In November 2016, my debut Christian contemporary romance novel, “Embracing Hope”, was launched to the masses. I blame it all on a BBC version of “Jane Eyre” in 2007. The night after watching the movie, I dreamt the beginning, middle and ending of what was published nine years later.

When I first started writing the novel, I was hesitant to admit it was a love story, and a few times I got snickers when I told people. After all, they knew me as a journalist/PR professional who wrote about emerald ash borer, mission trips to China, and pig (yes, pig) judging at county fairs. Then I began finding women who said they liked Christian romance. It’s a clean, uplifting genre, they said. They aren’t reluctant to leave the book lying around the house where their daughters and granddaughters might find it and ask to read it. They don’t blush at erotic images or cringe at the foul language.

I’ve learned that there are THOUSANDS of Christian romance authors out there, and it’s a popular and growing book niche with millions of readers. Dare I admit that some of those ardent readers will find my novel sweet and sappy? Probably, after all, there’s a happy wedded-after—except not on bended knee or in a ball gown. My goal is to make readers cry, so keep a tissue handy when you read it. One reviewer told me she got so involved in the plot that she felt the need to pray for the main character! Yet Christian romance has attracted a growing audience because most novels have a message beyond romance. In my case, the message is of hope and forgiveness in the aftermath of tragedy.

I’m still a little hesitant to say I’m a romance novelist. Get over it, Janell! After all, if my brother, a Baptist preacher, feels comfortable telling his congregation that his sister wrote a Christian romance—and read it himself—then I can be comfortable admitting it, too.

My name is Janell Butler Wojtowicz, and I AM a Christian romance novelist!

 Thanks so much. I can relate, because I really didn’t plan on writing fiction, either. We appreciate hearing your story, Janell. 

Janell Butler Wojtowicz 2

Born and raised on an Iowa farm, Janell was one of those kids who loved to write the dreaded “What I did on summer vacation” essay. It’s no surprise she spent her entire 30-year career in writing. Much of it has been the “people stories” of trial, tragedy and triumph, which are reflected in her debut novel. Janell is a freelance writer/editor, and a member of American Christian Fiction Writers. She and her husband, Frank, live in New Brighton, Minnesota. She has two step-sons, a step-daughter-in-law and three step-granddaughters. “Embracing Hope” is her debut novel.

NOVEL SUMMARY

Christian college dean Drew McKinley mourns his dead wife and still wears his wedding ring.He stumbles on a desperate journey to understand God’s motives for her tragic death. Crossing his perilous path is Allison, a graduate student and new employee in the dean’s office. Even as she deals with financial hardships, she recognizes Drew’s unresolved grief from her own loss. Putting up a roadblock is Chris Whitney, the handsome but egotistical student senate president. He carries the secret burden of a dysfunctional family and a below-the-surface temper.

The road Drew must navigate is fraught with career upheaval, a reawakening heart, substance and domestic abuse, a violent assault, and the struggle for forgiveness and restoration. Will Drew finish his journey to embrace the hope God offers, the love Allison shares, and the guidance Chris needs, or will he turn his back on all three with catastrophic consequences?

You may reach Janell here:

 Buy Links for Embracing Hope

Building Suspense Until It Explodes!

Janie Winsell writes in a genre I’ve never tried to write, and actually haven’t read, either. So we get to explore new territory this week. Janie, please tell us how you got started in this genre and about the process.

Romantic Suspense has tightened my focus and caused me to search deep within myself for my author voice. I love building the anxiety of my story until it explodes. But, writing Romantic Suspense is double duty, requiring equal parts Romance and Suspense. Some writers may argue that it’s more one than the other, but I believe in equal representation of both for the book to be considered a true Romantic Suspense.

The Romance part is formulaic. The Heroine meets the Hero within the first chapter. They either hit it off, or they don’t for some reason. By the middle, they end up together, but then something happens and they break up. Then, at the end they get back together. Simple, I know. And don’t get me wrong, I love reading pure Romance, but then I discovered Dee Henderson, and all bets were off.

Unknown

Ms. Henderson wove such an intricate romantic story, but amped up the adrenaline with nail-biting suspense that had me flipping real pages faster than the Kindle feature. I was hooked. Still, I wasn’t sure I could pull that off in my own writing.

Then, my past crashed into my fiction writing, and a new series was born. The Singlehearted series is near and dear to my heart. Being a survivor of sexual abuse, I know all-too-well the struggles, insecurities, and anxieties that come with surviving. I wanted to write inspirational stories of survivors, but with the suspense that drove Ms. Henderson’s plots. I wanted readers to tear through my book’s pages, too.

Suspense is all about building up the tension in a story through multiple viewpoints: Heroine, Hero, and Villain. This gives the reader a broader story view. It’s not a mystery, so they aren’t trying to figure out who did what. In suspense, the reader knows who the villain is even if the heroine doesn’t. And that villain throws dilemmas in the heroine’s way.

Hunted Cover

Brooklynn, my series heroine, has finally picked her life up after a brutal rape three years ago. She’s met someone she can see herself dating, and she’s decided to go back to college and finish her degree.

Octavious (my villain) hates that Brooklynn lived, and now he’s come to finish the job. But he has another agenda: he wants her to pay for surviving first.

It becomes a cat and mouse game after that. Octavious does something, Brooklynn reacts, thinking she has the upper hand. But then another obstacle appears. Each obstacle becomes more dangerous until the tension explodes in the climax, and it looks as if Octavious has won.

All throughout this tension-filled plot, Brooklynn follows the romance guidelines–falling for the hero only to lose him and then get him back.

And now you know the ingredient list for my current Romantic Suspense series.

WOW — sounds like quite the challenge, Janie. One of my favorite quotes says, “Every once in a while, bite off more than you can chew.” I’ve found that we most often rise to the occasion! All the best to you in your writing career, and readers, Janie is giving a print copy of an inspirational novel she wrote to one of you who leaves a comment – enjoy! 

Writing Historicals withTamera Lynn Kraft

Using Historical Events to Create Fiction

By Tamera Lynn Kraft

I am sometimes asked why I write historical fiction. Many times, reading about historical events will get my creative juices flowing when I think about the lives and stories of people who lived during these times.

ResurrectionOfHopeCoverArt

For instance, in Resurrection of Hope, my recently released novella, the historical backdrop helped me create the characters and the story events.

At the beginning (1919), Vivian is depressed, and with good reason. In the last year, her fiancé died in the Great War, influenza stold her family, and she was evicted from her family farm because of her alcoholic father’s gambling debts. Enough to depress anyone, but many post WWI families faced the same turmoil.

Many men had died in Europe. At the same time, the great influenza pandemic killed over twenty million people. Very few families had suffered no loss from one of these events. Some families were completely wiped out. Another tragedy of the period was the rise of alcoholism and gambling addiction. A number of men lost everything, leaving their families destitute. This motivated prohibition.

Henry, the male main character in the story, had been a WWI doughboy. He had just returned from the war with all the baggage that came with trench warfare. Many his problems  with Vivian stemmed from his experiences fighting and losing his best friend in the war. The stoic tough guy image most men tried to live up to during that period of time made things worse.

In addition, on Palm Sunday, 1920, one of the deadliest tornado outbreaks in history swept the Midwest, especially Indiana and Western Ohio.

Pausing to announce Tamera’s giveaway of an e-book copy to one commenter!

Every story I write starts with reading about historical events and imagining people’s lives during that time. I’ve read historical fiction that could have taken place in any time period, but the writer loses an opportunity to make the stories come alive. Every good historical uses real events not just as setting, but as main characters.

Blurb:

Resurrection of Hope

She thought he was her knight in shining armor, but will a marriage of convenience prove her wrong?

After Vivian’s fiancé dies in the Great War, she thinks her life is over. But Henry, her fiancé’s best friend, comes to the rescue offering a marriage of convenience. He claims he promised his friend he would take care of her. She grows to love him, but knows it will never work because he never shows any love for her.

Henry adores Vivian and has pledged to take care of her, but won’t risk their friendship by letting her know. He believes she’s still in love with her late fiancé, and won’t risk heartache by revealing his true emotions.

Bio:

Tamera Lynn Kraft has always loved adventures. She writes historical fiction set in the United States because of the multitude of stories in American history. Her stories feature strong elements of faith, romance, suspense and adventure. She has received 2nd place in the NOCW contest, 3rd place TARA writer’s contest, and is a finalist in the Frasier Writing Contest, with other novellas in print. Her first full length novel releases in April. She’s been married for 38 years to the love of her life, Rick, and has two married adult children and two grandchildren. You can purchase her latest novella, Resurrection of Hope at most online stores including Desert Breeze. Join Tamera on her website at http://tameralynnkraft.net, her blog at http://tameralynnkraft.com, Facebook http://facebook.com/tameralynnkraft or Twitter http://twitter.com/tamerakraft.

 

Thanks, Tamera – all the best to you on your writing journey.

Journaling On Our Journeys…

My guest is Carol Round, the author of Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God  Journaling has definitely helped me along the way, so I’m glad to welcome Carol. She’s offering a free book to one person drawn from all commenters, so go for it! 

In a warm and conversational tone, Carol describes the benefits and practices of prayer journaling as a discipline to help the reader draw closer to God, discern that still, small voice and set the reader on a journey of spiritual growth. With biblical evidence of the advantages of this form of prayer, Journaling with Jesus: How to Draw Closer to God also provides real-life examples from other women who prayer journal as well the author’s own personal experiences. With encouragement, inspiration and resources offered in this book, women will be supported in their desire to grow spiritually. The final chapter in the book encourages the reader to sign a covenant with God to keep a prayer journal for 40 days.

Here’s a review of Carol’s book: five out of five stars, Lynnon July 12, 2014

I love this book. Unlike other books I have read on this subject, this one is very practical. The author helps you to grasp the vital importance of spiritual journaling. The author is very real, honestly sharing her own life experience. She also gives additional resources from other people to help you as you embark on your own journaling adventure. This book is great for people who have never started to keep a journal as well as for those who already are journaling. I often struggled to maintain the practice of keeping a spiritual journal in the past. Now I am more convinced of the extreme value and am very motivated to not neglect this opportunity to grow closer to Jesus.

journaling with jesus cover

And now, a few words from Carol: Journaling to a More Authentic Relationship with the Lord

Are you as close to God as you want to be? If not, did you know you can have a more authentic relationship with your Heavenly Father through the spiritual discipline of prayer journaling?

Through keeping a daily prayer journal you can

  • Learn to recognize the voice of your heavenly Father and come to know Him as your dearest friend. Your Creator God wants a relationship with you. John 20:27 says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
  • Journaling is a healthy habit helping you to slow down and eliminate “hurry” from your life. Can you relate? I can. Jesus was never in a hurry. How does this help your relationship with the Lord? James 4:8 tells us, “And when you draw close to God, God will draw close to you.”
  • Journaling allows you to appreciate the extraordinary in the ordinary. Those suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder find it difficult to find joy during the winter. One morning, I began to notice the beauty found in the grays and browns of a winter landscape. The limbs and bark of leafless trees drew my attention and I began to notice the patterns and shapes. I realized God’s beauty can be found in the ordinary. Psalms 17:1 says, “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship.”
  • Helps you to listen better—to God and to people. Learning to listen for the still, small voice of God teaches you to learn to listen to people. How often are we focused on what our response will be instead of focusing on what the other person is sharing? When we spend time with God, reading scripture and writing in our prayer journal, we’re focused on Him. In Mark 4:23-24, Jesus tells us “Anyone with ears to hear should listen and understand. Pay close attention to what you hear. The closer you listen, the more understanding you will be given—and you will receive even more.”
  • Builds your prayer life and increases your faith. By looking back through your previous prayer journals, you’ll see how faithful God is when we take time for Him, trusting that He knows what is best for us. Romans 10:17 says, “So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.”

Connect with Carol:

Blog: http://carolaround.com/
Book website: http://journalingwithjesus.com/
Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/carolaround
Twitter: http://twitter.com/carolaround
Amazon author page: http://www.amazon.com/Carol-Round/e/B0083ZEAWI/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_1

another 2015 publicity photo copy

Carol Round
Columnist/Author/Speaker

 

“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” <*\\\\><

On The Writing Process

Today, I welcome Connie Cockrell – we have yet to meet in person, but it’s fun to host an Arizona writer this week.

A 20-year Air Force career, time as a manager at a computer operations company, wife, mother, sister and volunteer, provides a rich background for Connie Cockrell’s story-telling.

Cockrell grew up in upstate NY, just outside of Gloversville before she joined the military at age 18. Having lived in Europe, Great Britain, and several places around the United States, she now lives in Payson, AZ with her husband: hiking, gardening, and playing bunko. She writes about whatever comes into her head so her books could be in any genre. She’s published fifteen books so far, has been included in five different anthologies and been published on EveryDayStories.com. Connie’s always on the lookout for a good story idea. Beware, you may be the next one.

She can be found at www.conniesrandomthoughts.com or on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/ConniesRandomThoughts or on Twitter at: @ConnieCockrell or on Amazon at amazon.com/author/conniecockrell

Connie, what motivated you to write fiction? 

I’ve always been interested in writing stories but I never knew how and with the press of working in the military and being a wife and mother and going to college, there just wasn’t time to figure it out. After I retired and moved to Arizona, my daughter moved in with us for a time. She met a young woman who was working on her first novel and told my daughter about National Novel Writing Month, a writing challenge to write 50,000 words, a short novel, in one month.

I asked my daughter how hard could that be and she challenged me to do and loaned me a copy of Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. Well, it was already mid-October, 2011, so I sped read through the book, put scene ideas on sticky notes on the back of the closet door and on 1 November, began writing my first book, The Bad Seed. I did the whole book in one month and it was pretty darned exciting. It took me months and months to rewrite and revise it but I did publish it in 2012.

Please tell us more …

One question I get all the time from readers is, “How do you write a book?” What they’re asking is, “How do you get started?”, “How do you know what to write?” and even, “Where do you get your ideas?”

The idea comes first. For me it’s usually plot. I see a documentary on TV, or read some trending memes on social media, or it’s a subject my friends are talking about. Anywhere, really. So, I get start with the question, “What if…,” then I take off. What could possibly happen in that situation? What people would be involved? How can I make the situation unusual? For example, instead of a down and out woman being the protagonist fighting against a corporate controlled world, what if I choose a woman from the upper 1% of the population? How would that change the story?

Then it’s a matter of writing those possible ideas down, lining them up, thinking up connecting scenes, maybe even adding a plot line or two. I arrange the scenes in some sort of order, doing my best to make sure the three or four-part story beats are in the right spots, and start to write.

After that it’s a matter of sitting down each day and writing to the scene. Do I stick strictly to the scene as written? Only as far as I get to the critical point, where the scene leads to the next one. But within the scene, I could create a new character from the past, I could reveal an unknown aspect of my character’s background. I could reveal a new plot line. All kinds of things could and do happen while I’m writing.

I don’t shoot for a certain number of words per chapter or book. It’s done when it’s done. Give it a try. It’s fun!

Connie’s giving away an e-book to a commenter. Just leave your contact info with your comment. Happy second week of January, 2017! 

Love in the Seams

Today I’d like to welcome, Jodie Wolfe. I understand you recently released a new book. Can you tell us about it?

Social Media 2015

Thank you for having me here today, Gail. I look forward to getting to know you and your readers better.

Love in the Seams is book two in my Twins & Needles Series. Here’s what it says on the back cover.

Seams Cover-promo-web

 

Mae Stafford longs for the companionship and unconditional love her sister has found in her new husband. But after years of refusing potential suitors because of a pact they made as children, Mae no longer has any choices left once their agreement is broken. She’s given up hope that God will give her what she desires most, a family of her own.

 

 

Instead of dwelling on what she doesn’t have, she throws herself into her work in her recently acquired local dress shop.

As a promise made to his late wife, Johannes Mueller agrees to travel west to be a school teacher in Calder Springs, Texas, away from the bigotry associated with being an immigrant in New York City. He hopes to improve his life and forget his loss. Johannes isn’t counting on his five-year-old daughter’s search for a new mother when they arrive.

His little LillyAnn finds ways to bring the seamstress and him together…often. Can he learn to embrace his German heritage and unlock his heart to love again?

I understand your first book is about Mae Stafford’s twin sister, Ellie, is that correct?

Yes. Hearts Tightly Knit is built on the premise of twin sisters who made a vow to always stay together and never marry. I wondered what it would take to persuade one of them to change their minds.

 In your new novella, Mae Stafford is a seamstress. Do you sew?

I do, some. I made a Victorian outfit that I wore at a genre dinner at an ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) conference a couple years ago. While I do enjoy sewing, my favorite craft is knitting.

GOOD GRIEF! I call that really sewing, girl! I do ok w/buttons and hems, but …

 Do you have any final thoughts to share about your writing?

The goal of my writing is to point to my Heavenly Father and the hope we can have in Him, no matter what our circumstances.

 Where can readers find you and purchase your book?

Website: http://www.jodiewolfe.com

Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/Love-Seams-Twins-Needles-Book/dp/0997502622/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478548961&sr=8-1&keywords=love+in+the+seams

Facebookhttps://www.facebook.com/Jodie-Wolfe-553400191384913/; https://www.facebook.com/jodie.wolfe.1

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JodieAWolfe

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/JodieAWolfe

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Jodie-Wolfe/e/B01EAWOHXO/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15220520.Jodie_Wolfe

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/116840153259583634192/posts

Fiction Finder: http://www.fictionfinder.com/author/?author=Jodie+Wolfe

Blogs I contribute to: Stitches Thru Time, Putting on the New and of course, Quid Pro Quills.

Thanks, Jodie. I hope your book sells extremely well.

Thank you for allowing me to stop by today, Gail to speak to your readers. I’m giving away a free sewing kit to one lucky commenter between now and November 19th. Winner will be notified.

Worth Forgiving

First of all, Janet, your title and cover are fabulous! If I had to pen your goal for this novel it’d go something like this. God’s love overrides our past failures and the injustices of life. By embracing his healing and guidance, we move out of the shadows into the light. Did I hit it pretty close?

Sounds good to me, Gail. My motto or tagline is “Writing with God’s Hope,” so all my books deal with addictions, compulsions, or hang-ups that can’t be healed without God. The first book in the series, Worth Her Weight, focuses on food addiction. Worth Forgiving hits drug addiction as well as prejudice against those who are ex-cons. The twelve step programs remind us we’re powerless over such thing. Like you said, only God’s love can override past failures and injustices. In this new book, we learn not only about forgiving others, but the difficulty in forgiving ourselves.

WF_fullcover_6-17-16

 You have definitely mastered the art of piling troubles on your heroine! How did you learn to do that? 

I once took a course that reminded us to be “mean” to our characters. I guess that idea stuck. We must raise the stakes and make it even harder to reach our goal in order to accomplish a satisfactory ending.

Tell us about your intended audience. I’m assuming it’s Christian readers, mostly women? Do you have an underlying desire to create empathy in your readership for the down-and-out of our society? 

Oh, wow, Gail. You hit the nail on the head, to repeat an old, forbidden cliché. My target audience for both books in the series is women 25-50 with some church background. For thirty years of my life, I suffered from food addiction. I struggled with depression, and my self esteem hit bottom before I was ready to let go and let God.

Twenty years ago, God healed me emotionally. I am not the same person I was through my twenties, thirties, and forties. Through His guidance and grace, I lost one hundred pounds, quit biting my nails, and came out of the shadows to accomplish His purpose

Before I even lost all my weight, I began teaching weight controlling classes. I have a heart for those who fight food addiction or compulsive overeating. I am blessed that through my suffering, God gave me more empathy for those who suffer any addiction. Even when I’m not teaching, I have others who contact me for prayer or encouragement for their problems. I feel so blessed by God to be used in the thing that is my weakest area. Isn’t that just like God?

I haven’t read the first book in this series yet, but assume we get to know the heroine’s sister Lacey much better in that one. Which character do you identify with most? How did that character first occur to you?

I would have to say Lacey. Though Worth Her Weight isn’t my story, still Lacey coped with many things that I dealt with such as the suicide attempt. Despite that, I find that I can identify with others like Katie in Worth Forgiving who Satan has captured and built mental strongholds that only God can break.

Please tell us how creating the two books differed for you. I’m into writing a series, also, and it’s fun to hear more details about this process. 

The most fun part is visiting the old setting and old friends that you “met” while writing the first book.

The hardest part is that everything in one character’s life affects the other characters, so it’s imperative to keep good notes. Since Katie was in prison for three years, her four-year-old daughter would now be seven. Since Larry was injured in the crime that Katie perpetrated, I had to remember to give him a limp. Just stuff like that. Good, better, excellent notes, I hope. LOL!

Finally, give us a little background about YOU – how did you begin writing fiction, and what did you do before? 

I’ve always loved writing fiction. That’s my passion. When my daughters were little, I wrote and sold a few short stories. However, I settled into a writing career after I retired in 2006 from being a bookkeeper and medical coder.

I had finished ten novels by the time I received my first contract. All were adult fiction, except for one young adult, and that’s what sold first. Victoria and the Ghost debuted in 2012.

Divine Dining: 365 Devotions to Guide You to Healthier Weight and Abundant Wellness was God’s surprise, my one and only, so far, non-fiction. He woke me up one night and gave me fourteen devotions to help overeaters. I thought it was just to help me, but four years and three hundred and sixty-five devotions later, both Pen-L Publishing and myself believed it was a tool to help others. Later, this year, they will release a workbook to compliment the devotion book, so my non-fiction days aren’t completely over. Neither are my fiction days, because the third in the Wharton Rock series should release in 2017.

owfi & Mothers Day 006

Worth Forgiving Second in the Wharton Rock Series

Prejudice and mistrust hinder an ex-con, drug addict’s new beginning. The state of Texas releases from prison Katie Smith. Full of optimism, she sets out to get a job, rent her own place, and make a home for her eight-year-old daughter, but Katie gave away her daughter three years ago. She could use a friend, but her past choices threaten to doom her to continued failure.

Larry Pullman graduated from seminary with high marks, but having no wife makes finding a preaching job almost impossible. It doesn’t help that running from God as a teenager gave him a past he can’t undo. All he needs is an ex-con, drug addict messing up his life, but then why did God lead him to her? Or did He?

Isn’t it enough that Lacey Chandler gave her sister’s daughter a home? Does that mean she has to clean up Katie’s messes forever?

Could it be that Katie is not Worth Forgiving?

PURCHASE LINK: Worth Forgiving

Janet is giving away an e-book of Worth Forgiving to one commenter here. Thanks so much for your visit, Janet.