Thursday, June 27, 2013

Win a Book!

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing


When you leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, June 30, 2013 you'll be entered in the DRAWING for a copy of the book below. If you mention in your comment that you’re a follower (see in the left column “Join This Site” and “Follow by Email”), I’ll add your name a second time in the drawing. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. You can read details about my book giveaways at Disclaimers.


Cracks in the Ice by Deanna Klingel


Our guest is Deanna Klingel, author of Cracks in the Ice. Deanna lives and writes in the beautiful mountains of western North Carolina. She writes middle grade and YA (young adult) literature, inspired and encouraged by her husband and golden retriever, Buddy. Deanna will give away a copy of her book to the winner of a random drawing among commenters of this blog post.

Contacts for Deanna: http://www.booksbydeanna.com/, facebook Deanna K. Klingel, and twitter @deannakklingel.

  

Truth in Fiction
 by Deanna K. Klingel

          Readers of fiction, do you ever go, “yikes, I wonder if that’s true?” If you have to ask, then it probably is true, and it’s not there by accident. Fiction writers are attentive to research and details. They don’t “just make that up.” Historical fiction writers spend an equivalent amount of time researching on behalf of their story as they do writing it. But, all fiction has an element of history or event that requires research. The plot needs to make sense in the time period of the story. The character’s decisions must make sense based on their motivations, events and personalities. Fiction doesn’t get “made up” as it goes.         
         Having said that let me explain that characters do often lead their authors to new and unplanned places. This is what happened to me when I wrote Cracks in the Ice.
          The character Gina, as a young girl has a dream of Olympic gold as a figure skater. I did a lot of research on her behalf concerning the realm of figure skating in the 1950s. There were a lot of interesting scenarios Gina could have gone plotting off into, but my job was to keep her focused and on task. She wanted to be a figure skating legend. Together we’d keep our plot headed toward that goal.
          The internal development of the character, however, is a different matter. Once the character is established, she/he, is going to grow, change, and become more real as they live their life on the pages. The author has to respect that. While the author has to keep the character on her task, goal, her plot line, the character can take the author into new and surprising places on that journey.
          I knew and understood Gina wanted to skate. She made it clear she wanted to be in charge of her own life. “Okay,” I said, “I get that.” I’ll give her every tool she’d need to achieve that. Her struggle will be trying to be in charge, of anything. We’re skating along.
          Then she told me things about herself that I hadn’t known or realized. My playhouse had a table and two red chairs. I never knew who was supposed to sit in the second chair. She was lonely. Later, as a teen in the training center, without friends, she struggled to fit in. I sit quietly watching the girls taking sips out of their fancy flasks they carry in their expensive bags, secretly. They laugh; they just laugh and wriggle and squirm on my bed. Sometimes they get so silly they slop their booze on my bedspread. One night I finally give in. I take a sip. I want to laugh, too. Then I take some more sips, and I do laugh. I actually giggle, just like them.
          I looked back at earlier chapters and realized how Gina had been set up, unwittingly, by her family. Her uncle the mobster, never without a crystal decanter nearby, means well when he encourages her to celebrate her victories with a drink. Later as a young woman who doesn’t like the taste of alcohol, she’s instructed how to drink in moderation, how to be “classy” about it. When guilt clouds her vision and a rash decision changes her life forever, she hides in a dark bottle.
           I didn’t intend for Gina to become an alcoholic. I wasn’t writing a story about alcoholism. I didn’t know anything about alcoholism. But it happened. It’s where it was going from the beginning. I find several early passages indicating it. It’s easy to see it now, but I didn’t know it then. I didn’t know until Gina did, that her mother’s secret was alcoholism. Gina, I discovered in my research, has a genetic propensity toward alcoholism. I hadn’t known that.
           I had to follow Gina down her crack in the ice and wait for her to come back out and be my heroine, restored in health, ready for a future, with relationships repaired and under construction. She’d ride the Zamboni for the rest of her life, smoothing cracks and rough spots. That’s okay. Life’s like that.
          I had to research alcoholism in order to take this journey with my character. I learned why teens begin drinking. I found Gina right there with them. She had all the criteria. I learned what drinking does to teens. I saw her right there on my pages doing all those things. I learned about the difficult recovery process, and I was tormented watching Gina struggle with hers.
          My character taught me a lot about a very important issue. The research helped me present her to readers as a strong girl, a victim of loneliness and guilt, a girl with a trashed dream, and yet one of hope who can still be a winner. There are other victories besides gold medals.
          Every book I’ve written has helped me grow as a person by understanding the character that I “made up.” Characters take on living persona, not just for the reader, but for the creator. Research is an exercise in (hum along) “getting to know you, getting to know all about you…” Authors have to live in the skin, walk in the footsteps, and dream the dreams of their characters. It’s what makes the job so exciting and so difficult. We don’t just make them up. They are created.
          When you read a character that really grabs you, one that gets under your skin, one that you’ll remember, you can be sure the author did some research to make it “real.” The author kept the character on task, but stepped back and let that character develop into a believable “person” that you readers will love or hate.

Other works by Deanna Klingel:
Just for the Moment: The Remarkable Gift of the Therapy Dog, nonfiction, Seal of Approval Catholic Writers Guild
Avery’s Battlefield, middle grade historical fiction, Stars & Flags National Book Award winner
Avery’s Crossroad, middle grade historical fiction, Stars & Flags National Book Award winner
Bread Upon the Water, nonfiction, YA biography, Seal of Approval Catholic Writers Guild


Remember: leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, June 30, 2013 and you'll be entered in the drawing for a copy of Cracks in the Ice by Deanna Klingel. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. Please, please remember to leave your email address or I cannot enter you in the drawing. I will email the winner for his/her mailing address. I’ll announce the winner in Monday’s blog.

The winner of last Thursday's blog post for a copy of Collette's Crusade by Michelle Sutton is Patricia. I'll email you to get your mailing address and get the book out to you. Thanks all for commenting. Watch for more book giveaways.


Till next time … keep on smiling.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Meet the Characters

I want you to get to know some of the characters of my novel 
Beyond the Past, Book 2 in the Caney Creek Series. For the next few Mondays I’ll interview one of the characters and you can leave comments if you want. I think this might help you when you read my novel to know how these characters feel as they move through the story. If you leave a comment on this blog that is totally related to the interview I'll give you an extra entry in the next Thursday book drawing.

Today I’m talking with Caroline who lives with her son in Knoxville,Tennessee.


JO: Hello, Caroline. Do you live in Knoxville?

CAROLINE: Yes, I do but I grew up in Newton. When I graduated high school, my parents sent me to Atlanta to attend Agnes Scott College. I didn’t like it down there.

JO: How long did you attend Agnes Scott?

CAROLINE: One year.

JO: Why didn’t you attend Agnes Scott longer than one year?

CAROLINE: That’s an awful twisted up story. When I came back to Newton after finishing one year at Agnes Scott, I had plans to return to school that fall. But I met the best looking, sweetest boy ever. He didn’t have a car but I did. I would drive to his rooming house and pick him up. I drove him everywhere. He was shy at first.

JO: Why was he shy?

CAROLINE: Jimmy, that’s his name, grew up in the country on a small farm. He hadn’t been anywhere until he came to Newton and started working at my daddy’s mill. That’s where I met him—at the mill. I surprised myself the way I took on over him. He’d blush a lot when I touched him.

JO: Did he get over being shy with you?

CAROLINE: Yes, he did and we got along so well.

JO: Even though you say you got along well, you sound sad.

CAROLINE: Yes, I’m very sad. You see, we were intimate one time. One time that summer. When I came home from school for Christmas, I tried to tell him I was pregnant, but I didn’t get the chance. Christmas morning I was sick to my stomach and excused myself from the breakfast table. Mother followed me upstairs and I told her I was pregnant. Well, you would have thought I’d committed murder, they carried on so. They sent me away to my daddy’s sister’s in Knoxville. They told me to have my baby, give it up for adoption, or not come back home. When I saw my baby boy I could not give him away. I stayed with my great aunt until she died and willed her home to me and my son. I wasn’t able to get word to Jimmy what was going on.

JO: What did your parents have to say about that?

CAROLINE: Oh, by then my parents had disowned me and told me never return to Newton. When they told me to never use my last name for the baby, my aunt legally changed my last name to hers. So my son and I became James and Caroline Hensen.

JO: How old is your son?

CAROLINE: He’s twenty and attending the University of Tennessee. He met a girl and brought her home for me to meet. When I found she was from Newton, I put that and some more clues together to be almost certain she was Jimmy’s daughter. Through our children, Jimmy and I met again after twenty years. Our children were half brother and sister.

JO: How were you able to work that out?

CAROLINE: We explained to them how our past refused them a romantic relationship. We’ve visited with all of us in Newton and also here in Knoxville. Jimmy says we need to get together for our children’s sake. Both the children want us to get married and be a “real” family. I agree. But Jimmy’s little sister is in trouble in Atlanta and his best friend’s son is in trouble with the law in Newton. Jimmy thinks he can fix everybody’s problems. Every time I talk to him about marriage, he stalls for time—after his sister’s trial, after his friend’s boy gets straightened out, and of course he has to have time to run his mill. I tell him he’s thinking our situation to death.

JO: Are you a patient woman?

CAROLINE: As I’ve matured I’ve become a more patient person. But Jimmy is trying my patience to the breaking point. I’ve waited twenty years to have Jimmy back in my life. I just hope he doesn’t wait too long.


The winner of last Thursday's blog post for a copy of America by Jo Huddleston is Katie. I'll email you to get your mailing address and get the book out to you. Thanks all for commenting. Watch for more book giveaways.

Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Win a Book!

When you leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, June 24, 2013 you'll be entered in the DRAWING for a copy of the book mentioned below. If you mention in your comment that you’re a follower (see in the left column “Join This Site” and “Follow by Email”), I’ll add your name a second time in the drawing. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. You can read details about my book giveaways at Disclaimers.     


Collette's Crusade by Michelle Sutton


Our guest blogger is Michelle Sutton. Michelle is the author of over twenty novels with more to release in the next few years. She is an empty nester with two sons in college. She lives with her husband in sunny Arizona. 




JO: Welcome, Michelle. Please tell us a little more about yourself.

MICHELLE: In February I celebrated my 9th anniversary as a serious writer. I attended my first writer's conference in the fall of 2004 and currently have 20 books in print. Since I've been a social worker and/or supervisor for the past 25 years, I have plenty of fodder to make my novels interesting. This August I will be celebrating 23 years of marriage to the same man. We have two sons, ages 20 and 21, who are full-time college students. We've lived in sunny Arizona since 1991.

JO: What 3 fun or unique things can you tell us about yourself that we don’t know?

MICHELLE: Well, this isn't fun, but it's unique to me. I also don't know how well known this info is, but here goes…

I've lost both of my parents - one MS and one to cancer. My mom died in 1998 and my dad died in 2011, but they gave me the legacy of true Christian faith by having in a personal relationship with Jesus to pass on to my kids.

Also, the year before my mom met my dad, she was a nun in the Franciscan order. No, she didn't leave the convent because of my dad. She left because she wanted to have kids, and so she married and had me, my two sisters, and my brother.

My husband is almost twenty years older than me, and thus he is only ten years younger than my dad was. So when I tease and call him my old man, it's true.

JO: Please describe yourself with three words. 

MICHELLE: Creative. Persistent. Caring.

JO: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

MICHELLE: Reading historical fiction.

JO: How did you become involved in writing?

MICHELLE: I had a lot of stories on my heart and decided to give it a try. Then God gave me the stories he wanted me to share to reach hurting people and hopefully be used to heal broken hearts.

JO: Where do you write? Do you have a dedicated office or a corner or nook in a room?

MICHELLE: Yes, I have an office full of books and with two computers in it. One for me and one so my husband can pester me while I am trying to concentrate while I write.

JO: Do you always know the title of your books before you write them?

MICHELLE: About 90% of the time.

JO: Please tell us about Collette's Crusade.

MICHELLE: Collette's goal is to help needy parents -- just not her own. When she begins dating a handsome counselor and he takes her parents on as clients, things get complicated.

After her first day on the job, Collette believes she must be the world’s worst social worker. She’s never seen a cockroach, let alone an infested trailer. She's not sure how to deal with such living conditions, but she's required to fulfill her one-year contract, or repay the university for her full tuition, which costs much more than she'd make at the agency her first year. Enter sexy marriage and family therapist Mark Wilcox, and suddenly things don't look so bleak. That is, until she remembers he's the man who tried to discourage her from getting her Master's Degree in the first place. Proving him wrong gives her a reason to try harder to succeed. Then she finds out Mark has a secret. He's her divorced parents' marriage therapist. While her parents' eventual goal is to remarry, she's against it. Whose side will he take?

JO: What takeaway value do you hope your readers receive after reading this book?

MICHELLE: If you have a passion for something, don't let others’ opinions discourage you from loving people and serving God in the way you believe God has intended for you to go. Also, forgiveness is a critical component of peace. Without it, you have no peace and holding grudges only makes things worse.

JO: Where did you get the idea for your book?

MICHELLE: Part of it came from "Legally Blonde" because the heroine, Collette, is blonde and fashionable and she gets judged for it even though she's a smart and caring person. When I worked for Child Protective Services, they had a program where people could get a Master's Degree for free in exchange for working in the field (the school's choice) for a year. The graduates rarely made it to the end because the jobs are tough, and a number of them chose to pay the school back rather than finish their time. And I'm a social worker myself, so I wanted to write a story that encapsulated the funny, yet often disturbing aspects of the job that people would understand (not everyone is a wedding planner or works at a bank or managing a small business) and thus showing the hard work people who choose to serve the poor often deal with. I also had a good friend once (she was a doctor's wife) who told me she was thrilled when her parents' divorced. I found that intriguing and kept it in the back of my mind. This story has an element of that conflict in it as well. Oh, and there is another character who I created because I met the bass player in a Christian Rock band and thought, "he's the one!" So I interviewed him and told him I'd like to use him to inspire a character for a future book. He agreed. In the story, he's Collette's crazy cousin who is also her best friend. I told him I hope he didn't mind falling in love with a girl named Serena (book 2) and he laughed.

JO: Did you have to do any research for this book?

MICHELLE: I did some character sketches and some was taken from my own experiences in social work. I call this my "legally blond social worker story."

JO: How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?

MICHELLE: Started writing in 2003, went to my first conference in 2004, signed on with an agent in 2005, sold my first book in 2007 and it released in 2008.

JO: What advice would you give to writers who have been writing a few years but still haven’t interested an agent or publisher in their novel?

MICHELLE: Keep pressing on. If it's meant to be it will eventually happen. Honestly these days you don't have to have an agent for some legitimate publishers. Many are smaller presses, but with the smaller houses there often comes more freedom as a writer. I prefer that to a large publishing house who tells me what I can and cannot write.

JO: What are you working on now?

MICHELLE: Two books at the same time. I alternate depending on my mood. One of them is the second book in this series.

JO: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

MICHELLE: Learn as much as you can. Writing is a lot harder than you'd think.

JO: Please tell our readers where they can get your book.

MICHELLE: On the publisher's site (that's where we get the most from sales due to no third party taking a chunk of the profits) http://desertbreezepublishing.com or on CBD, Amazon and Barnes and Noble. These sites may take a few days to a few weeks before there will be a link to the book. Depending on when it releases this month (the 15th or the 21st) will determine if it's up by this interview or not. But it will be up for sure on Desert Breeze's site because it can be seen there ahead of time.

JO: Please tell our readers where they can find you online.

and many other places (facebook is michellesuttonauthor and author michellesutton), twitter is michellesutton, etc.

JO: Any parting comment?

MICHELLE: Thanks for inviting me. This book is currently only available in ebook format but next year it will probably be in print. More than half of my books are available in ebook format and in print.


JO: Michelle, thank you for visiting today and giving the interesting interview. Michelle will give an eBook copy of Collette's Crusade to the winner of a random drawing from commenters of this blog post.

Remember: leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Monday, June 24, 2013 and you'll be entered in the drawing for a copy of Collette's Crusade by Michelle Sutton. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. If you don't leave your email address with your comment I cannot enter you in the drawing. Please, please remember to leave your email address so that should you be the winner I can get in touch with you for your mailing address. I’ll announce the winner in next Thursday’s blog.

Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Win a Book!

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing


***Look for a new blog tomorrow (6-21) with a book giveaway***

When you leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, June 23, 2013 you'll be entered in the DRAWING for a copy of the book mentioned below. If you mention in your comment that you’re a follower (see in the left column “Join This Site” and “Follow by Email”), I’ll add your name a second time in the drawing. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. You can read details about my book giveaways at Disclaimers.      



America: Her Hope for the Future by Jo Huddleston
Available in paperback and eBook for Kindle

Before I wrote the Caney Creek Series novels, I had some short stories traditionally published. But my writing for publication began with nonfiction. I want to introduce you to one of my nonfiction books, America: Her Hope for the Future.


From the book's Introduction 
Nothing is ever so perfect that a little improvement wouldn't be welcomed. This principle holds true for America. Our country probably never has been perfect. Far from it or our history wouldn't be speckled with war and depression and poverty and discrimination.

But the pock marks of adversity can serve as stepping stones toward a better today and tomorrow. When in the spasms of hardship, we long for something better. Something that could work.

This "something" contained elements available today. Perhaps these elements could be blended into a palatable recipe to ease fears and tensions.


What some reviewers have said:

"Jo Huddleston takes a refreshing and healthy look at the virtues and lessons we learned from our past. The chapters on courage and patriotism show us that we can better understand the problems of the present, and be prepared for the future if we take the time to apply the wisdom learned from our past."
~Bob Riley, former Governor of Alabama

"A challenging, inspiring vision for America. Jo Huddleston's easy style of writing and her art of persuasion make readers of this inspiring work reflect on their lives with rededication and appreciation for the past.This excellent work can become a cornerstone for our homes, our cities and our country. This book is the hard rock of ethical values.
~T.D. (Ted) Little, former Alabama State Senator

"Jo Huddleston brings us a very apropos and timely book on the State of the Nation . . . very moving, practical, and patriotic."
~Ellen C. Maze, The Author's Mentor, www.ellenmaze.com


Remember: leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, June 23, 2013 and you'll be entered in the drawing for a copy of America: Her Hope for the Future by Jo Huddleston. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. Please, please remember to leave your email address so that should you be the winner I can get in touch with you for your mailing address. I’ll announce the winner in Monday’s blog.

NOTE: Read my Monday blog to visit with characters in Beyond the Past, book 2 in the Caney Creek Series. If you leave a comment there totally about the interview you'll receive an extra entry when you comment on the next Thursday's blog.


***Look for a new blog tomorrow (6-21) with a book giveaway***

Till next time ... keep on smiling.




Monday, June 17, 2013

Meet the Characters

Monday Meanderings

I want you to get to know some of the characters of my novel Beyond the Past, Book 2 in the Caney Creek Series. For the next few Mondays I’ll interview one of the characters and you can leave comments if you want. I think this might help you when you read my novel to know how these characters feel as they move through the story. If you leave a comment on this blog that is totally related to the interview I'll give you an extra entry in the next Thursday book drawing.


JO: Hello, James. Did you grow up in Newton?

JAMES: No, ma’am, I’ve lived in Knoxville all my life.

JO: So, I guess you don’t know the people from Newton that are in the Caney Creek Series books.

JAMES: Well, yes I do know some of the people from Newton. My mother grew up in Newton and I’ve met some of her friends. I hope to get to know them better.

JO: You look old enough to be out of high school. Am I correct?

JAMES: Yes, ma’am, I am. I attend school at the University of Tennessee, which is here in Knoxville.

JO: What are you studying at UT?

JAMES: I’ve finished my junior year at UT. I’ve been in the pre-law curriculum. But I think I’ll probably switch over to business and then go to graduate school and earn my MBA, Master of Business Administration. That will probably take me another two years after I get my Bachelor’s degree.

JO: Why aren’t you in the military serving in Korea now?

JAMES: Attending college gives me a SII deferment because I’m in college.

JO: Please tell me about your parents.

JAMES: Well, that’s a long story. My mom raised me here in her aunt’s house. The story is that my dad died in a train accident when he worked for the railroad. So Mom raised me by herself with help from her elderly aunt until she passed on. Her aunt willed my mom our home and some money. Mom doesn’t have to work.

JO: Do you remember having a happy childhood?

JAMES:  Well, yes. I always wanted brothers and sisters but it was just Mom and me. Mom is a great mother. I couldn’t ask for any better.

JO: Does your mom date gentlemen friends?

JAMES: No, ma’am, she’s never dated since I was born.

JO: Never?

JAMES: Never. You see, she loved a boy a long time ago and she won’t sully his memory by dating anyone else.

JO: Did her boyfriend die?

JAMES: No, ma’am, he didn’t die. Somehow they just got separated. I don’t know if I really ought to tell you about all that.

JO: Why not?

JAMES: Well, that’s her business. I’m not one who tells other people’s business.

JO: That’s an admirable trait, James.

JAMES: Thank you.

JO: I’m sorry you didn’t have a dad while you were growing up.


JAMES: That’s okay. I’ve found my real Dad. I’m hoping Mom will marry him and we’ll have a genuine family after all.



The winner of last Thursday's blog post for a copy of Hope from the Past by Joi Copeland is Rose. I'll email you to get your mailing address and get the book out to you. Thanks all for commenting. Watch for more book giveaways.


Till next time ... keep on smiling.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Win a Book!

Thursday Thoughts on Reading and Writing

When you leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, June 16, 2013 you'll be entered in the DRAWING for a copy of the book mentioned below. If you mention in your comment that you’re a follower (see in the left column “Join This Site” and “Follow by Email”), I’ll add your name a second time in the drawing. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. You can read details about my book giveaways at Disclaimers



Hope from the Past by Joi Copeland



Our guest blogger today is Joi Copeland who is married, has three boys, and is living the dream in Denver, Colorado. Joi loves being a wife and mom and also enjoys spending time with friends over a good cup of coffee or tea. She's been a Christian for over twenty years and is the author of Hope for Tomorrow and Hope for the Journey. Joi has graciously given me a copy of her new novel, which one of the commenters will win.


JO: Please tell us a little about yourself.


JOI: I've been married for 14 years to a wonderful man and have three boys. We've lived in Denver for almost 5 years now, and I love it!

JO: What fun or unique things can you tell us about yourself that we don’t know?


JOI: I had an extra thumb on my right hand when I was born. My parents had it cut off, but it was so rare at that time that the doctor put it in his medical books.

JO: Please describe yourself with three words.

JOI: Funny, Christian, introvert

JO: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

JOI: Reading, drinking coffee, spending time with family and friends.

JO: How did you become involved in writing?

JOI: I've always loved writing. When I was younger, I wrote stories all of the time. My family sat me down one day in 2008 and told me it was time for me to write. I went to bed a few nights later and woke up with my first novel in my head, Hope for Tomorrow.

JO: Where do you write? Do you have a dedicated office or a corner or nook in a room?

JOI: I normally sit in the corner of my couch with my laptop or go to Starbucks. :)

JO: Do you always know the title of your books before you write them?
 
JOI: Nope. Sometimes it takes me a while.

JO: Please tell us about Hope from the Past.

JOI: My newest title is Hope from the Past.  It's the third and final book in my Hope series. Arthur Hendrickson is running from his past while Steven Sorenson plans his future, and his dad, Jake, just wants to treasure each moment with his wife before the inevitable happens. Three men, three lives, three stories combined into one.

JO: What takeaway value do you hope your readers receive after reading this book?

JOI: Hope. That's what I desire for this series.

JO: Where did you get the idea for your book?

JOI: My father was in Vietnam. This book is dedicated to him.

JO: Did you have to do any research for this book?

JOI: A little bit. I had the opportunity of doing research for Emily's cancer and my dad's time in Vietnam.

JO: How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?

JOI: I've been writing since 2008. My first book was contracted in 2010. :)

JO: What advice would you give to writers who have been writing a few years but still haven’t interested an agent or publisher in their novel?

JOI: Don't give up! God has a plan and a purpose.

JO: What are you working on now?

JOI: I'm working on When Mercy Found Me and Sunshine in Spring. When Mercy Found Me deals with a woman who will never get married and the struggles she has. Sunshine in Spring is the sequel to Christmas Rayne. It's a novella.

JO: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

JOI: Join a critique group! They are so vital.

JO: Please tell our readers where they can get your book.

JOI: You can get any of my books on Amazon.com.

JO: Please tell our readers where they can find you online.

JOI: You can find me on FacebookTwitter, and my blog.

JO: Thanks for visiting with my readers today. And thank you for giving me a copy of your new book, which one of the commenters to this post will win in a drawing.


Remember: leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, June 16, 2013 and you'll be entered in the drawing for a copy of Hope from the Past by Joi Copeland. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. Please, please remember to leave your email address so that should you be the winner I can get in touch with you for your mailing address. I’ll announce the winner in Monday’s blog.

Till next time … keep on smiling.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Meet the Characters

Monday Meanderings

I want you to get to know some of the characters of my novel Beyond the Past, Book 2 in the Caney Creek Series. For the next several Mondays I’ll interview one of the characters and you can leave comments if you want. I think this might help you when you read my novel to know how these characters feel as they move through the story. If you leave a comment on this blog that is totally related to the interview I'll give you an extra entry in the next Thursday book drawing.


JO: Lynn Callaway, hello. Do you live here in Knoxville?

LYNN: The answer to your question is a little complicated. My home is in Newton where my daddy owns a hosiery mill. I attend school at the University of Tennessee here in Knoxville. I began my freshman year living in a dormitory. But—how can I explain this—I met a boy, James, and we liked each other. He lives with his mom not far from the campus. He invited me to his home to meet his mother. Oh, she is the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen and so nice. But anyway, she invited my daddy and me to visit her home during Christmas break. My home’s in Newton.

JO: That was nice. Was the visit a good one?

LYNN: To say it was a good one is a great understatement. James and I found out that his mom and my daddy dated twenty years ago. They explained to each of us what had happened to separate them and, of course, that James and I are half brother and sister. I don’t have any brothers and sisters and neither does James. He was elated to have an actual family. I was slow to become happy about all this. I wanted James to be my handsome boyfriend not my half brother.

JO: So where do you live now? It’s summer quarter, isn’t it?

LYNN: Yes, ma’am, it is. After the four of us had been visiting since Christmas, James’s mom invited me to live in her home. So, Spring quarter I moved into her home. The three of us—James, his mom, and I—travel to Newton together some weekends, and then sometimes Daddy comes up here for a weekend. We’re really a family except for a Daddy.

JO: Do you think your daddy and James’s mom will marry?

LYNN: I don’t know, but I sure do hope they do.

JO: How does James feel about that?

LYNN:  He hopes they get married too. We’ve talked to Daddy and Caroline, separately of course, about marrying. I think Daddy is trying to get a few loose ends tied up before they might marry.

JO: What loose things?

LYNN: Well, after my grandparents died, Daddy, being the oldest child, tries to hold the family together. I have aunts and uncles and cousins and he tries to help out anytime they have any problems. He helps out gladly.

JO: If they do marry, where will y’all live since your daddy owns the mill in Newton and you and James go to school here in Knoxville?

LYNN: I think that may be one of the things that’s standing in the way of their marrying. That’s for them to work out. James and I are willing to go along with whatever they decide, but getting them to decide is the biggest problem. Caroline’s home here in Knoxville and also ours in Newton are large and would have room for all four of us. It’s really ironic but the home Daddy and I live in is where Caroline grew up.

JO: Really?

LYNN: Yes, ma’am, her daddy owned the mill that Daddy owns now. When Caroline’s parents were killed in a car crash, their wills left the mill and their home to Daddy. But Mother never lived in our house with Daddy so it wouldn’t bother Caroline to move in with Daddy.

JO: Where is your mother?

LYNN: My mother died when I was two years old. Her sister, Daddy’s sister, and Daddy’s landlady helped him raise me. I really don’t remember my mother except for things Daddy tells me and the pictures he has of her. But I’m hoping I’ll get a new Mother before too long.


The winner of last Thursday's blog post for a copy of Calico Brides by Darlene Franklin is Barbara. I'll email you to get your mailing address and get the book out to you. Thanks all for commenting. Watch for more book giveaways.


Till next time … keep on smiling.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Win a Book!

When you leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, June 9, 2013 you'll be entered in the DRAWING for a copy of the book below. If you mention in your comment that you’re a follower (see in the left column “Join This Site” and “Follow by Email”), I’ll add your name a second time in the drawing. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. You can read details about my book giveaways and Disclaimers.   


Calico Brides by Darlene Franklin

I'm pleased to have Darlene Franklin with us today. Darlene Franklin is an active member of Oklahoma City Christian Fiction Writers, American Christian Fiction Writers, and the Christian Authors Network. She has written twenty-six books, has been published in twenty more, and has written more that 200 devotionals. Her historical fiction ranges from the Revolutionary War to World War II, from Texas to Vermont.

JO: Welcome, Darlene. What three fun or unique things can you tell us about yourself that we don’t know?

DARLENE: I think I’m unique in that I write full-time from my home at a nursing home. I sleep with a teddy bear named Michael. “Michael” was my daughter’s favorite boy’s name, and the bear is one of her last gifts to me before she died. My nickname is “Pancho Villa” because I wear a blue poncho to keep warm.

JO: Please describe yourself with three words.

DARLENE: creative, driven (with writing), compassionate

JO: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

DARLENE: I love to read and watch TV (especially reality shows). I also like a good bingo game every now and then.

JO: How did you become involved in writing?

DARLENE: I’ve always written—TV take offs as a child, newspaper as a young adult—but I began writing seriously, every day, in the wake of my divorce 22 years ago.

JO: Where do you write: Do you have a dedicated office or a corner or nook in a room?

DARLENE: I usually write at a table in our lobby, which has the only electrical outlets. Lately, though, I’ve been restricted to my room for health reasons, so I write at my bedside table.

JO: Do you always know the title of your books before you write them?

DARLENE:  Unfortunately, yes. I say “unfortunately” only because I have to come up with a title as part of the proposal process. The right title can capture an editor’s interest, but it’s hard. I often don’t know the best title for the story at that point. Of course, I’ve had editors change titles before. Since the title is a marketing tool, I appreciate the input from the professionals.

JO: Please tell us about Calico Brides.

DARLENE: While sowing good deeds, four Kansas women reap romance. Gladys Polson helps a crotchety widower. Annie Bliss knits for soldiers. Birdie Landry sews dresses for saloon girls looking for a career change. Schoolteacher Ruth Fairfield takes on three orphan children and their new guardian. How will God stitch love into their lives?

JO: What takeaway value do you hope your readers receive after reading this book?

DARLENE: Missions begin at home! Whom do you know in need (physical, emotional, spiritual) that you can serve?

JO: Where did you get the idea for your book?

DARLENE: I wanted to write a prairie romance collection, and what says “prairie” more than Kansas and calico? A sewing circle with a common goal was a logical fit for the novella format, and so my mind went to one of my favorite themes: missions.
Gladys seeks to serve a crotchety old hermit who happens to be the richest man in town.
Annie wants to knit mittens and scarves for men serving at the nearby fort.
Birdie wants to give other saloon girls a chance to “leave the life” by making them dresses suitable for respectable women.
Ruth wants to make clothes for children who lost everything in a fire.

JO: Did you have to do any research for this book?

DARLENE: Not a lot, only to confirm things like the presence of forts, newspapers, and colleges in Kansas in the 1870s.

JO: How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?

DARLENE: I’ve been writing seriously for 22 years. I sold my first article (a devotion) in 1993, but I didn’t contract my first book until 2003. That is now a decade ago. 30 books and 200 devotionals later . . . praise the Lord!

JO: What advice would you give to writers who have been writing a few years but still haven’t interested an agent or publisher in their novel?

DARLENE: That’s going to depend on the person. Write every day, if you can, but on a regular basis. Feel free to experiment with different genres. Attend and join writer’s groups where you will grow and make invaluable contacts.  Get involved with a critique group.
And the basic advice never changes: A good writer reads, reads, reads, and writes, writes, writes.
The writing muse can be a harsh mistress. I’ve spent years chasing the dream and letting too many other things go. But if you can’t stop writing—keep writing.
Oh, and a final thought: if you’ve spent several years on one book, move on to another book. Your first book is unlikely to sell in any case. You continue growing as a writer and learning more about marketing.

JO: What are you working on now?

DARLENE: I just turned in the manuscript for Homefront Dreams to my editor. So I get to spend a month or so working on proposals before beginning my next contracted book. I need to complete a synopsis for a proposal requested by the editor at Love Inspired Historical. Then I need to write two chapters each for that proposal and also for a book ready to contract with Heartsong.

JO: What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

DARLENE: See above. Don’t worry so much about publishing your book. Learn the trade. And the best ways to  improve, besides handing with other writers, are to read and write.

JO: Please tell our readers where they can get your book.


JO: Please tell our readers where they can find you online.

DARLENE:
http://darlene franklinwrites.blogspot.com
Also follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

JO: Any parting comment?

DARLENE: Thanks for having me as your guest today! In addition to fiction, I write a daily devotion at http://mydailynibble.blogspot.com. I’d love to have you join me in feasting on the Word of God.

JO: Thank you, Darlene, for spending time with my readers. Darlene has graciously given me a copy of Calico Brides, which one of the commenters on this blog post will win in a random drawing.


Remember: leave a comment on THIS post by 6 p.m. CT Sunday, June 9, 2013 and you'll be entered in the drawing for a copy of Calico Brides by Darlene Franklin. You must be eighteen, have a U.S. mailing address, void where prohibited. Please, please remember to leave your email address so that should you be the winner I can get in touch with you for your mailing address. I’ll announce the winner in Monday’s blog.

Till next time … keep on smiling.