Friday, March 31, 2017

God’s Timetable is Perfect by Michelle Shocklee


Michelle Shocklee

I met Michelle Shocklee years ago at an ACFW conference, and we've kept in touch since. I’m so thrilled that we can celebrate the release of debut novel with her. Enjoy as Michelle shares part of her journey to publication. ~ Dawn


God’s Timetable is Perfect

The famous first line from the book Moby Dick is familiar to most of us.“Call me Ishmael,” Herman Melville wrote in 1851. Well, sometimes I want to tell people to “call me Sarai.” You know, from the Bible. The woman who waited most of her life for a child. No, I’m not waiting for a baby. God wonderfully blessed me in that department twenty-six years ago, and again two years later, with two of the most handsome, smart, talented, funny young men you would ever hope to meet. (Yep, I’m a bit biased and proud of it!) The reason I feel like Sarai, or Sarah as she was later called, is because I have been waiting to give birth to my first novel for ages. I mean, ages.

All my life, I’ve been an avid reader. As a young woman, I devoured Janette Oke books, dreaming of writing my own novel someday. That day came when I was twenty-five years old. I worked for a mortgage company doing icky things that involved massive amounts of numbers. Numbers and Michelle don’t typically get along, so the position was not a dream job. On my lunch hour, in order to get away from those icky numbers, I took my lunch to a nearby park and read. One day, the beginnings of a story popped into my head. Characters came to life. Plots sprung up out of nowhere. Excited, I started taking a large yellow notepad with me instead of books, furiously writing out the scenes as they appeared in my head like a movie. Months and months later, with a stack of several notepads in my car marked up with edits, I wrote THE END. Of course, I knew it would be a best-seller!

Fast forward to today, twenty-something years later. You’ll note my bio doesn’t say “best-selling author” Michelle Shocklee. Nope. You see, that manuscript—as well as the next six manuscripts—was never published. I’d made the mistake many newbie authors make, and that is believing I knew how to write a novel. Boy, did I have a LOT to learn!

My debut novel, THE PLANTER’S DAUGHTER, the first book in the Women of Rose Hill series, released a few weeks ago with www.LPCBooks.com. I am super excited! But you know what? I might not have ever written this particular book if I’d been published years ago. The journey to writing this book, which is truly the book of my heart, included rejections, revisions, and untold hours of writing books that will never see the light of day. And I am perfectly fine with that, because God’s timetable and plan is perfect. The years leading to this point were not wasted. I enjoyed a lot of life while waiting for the birth of this new “baby.”

Just as God fulfilled Sarah’s desire for a child, He is fulfilling my desire to be a novelist. But it’s in His timing, not ours, that dreams come true.





Adella Rose Ellis knows her father has plans for her future, but she longs for the freedom to forge her own destiny. When the son of Luther Elliss longtime friend arrives on the plantation to work as the new overseer, Adella can't help but fall for his charm and captivating hazel eyes. But a surprise betrothal to an older man, followed by a devastating revelation, forces Adella to choose the path that will either save her familys future or endanger the lives of the people most dear to her heart.

Seth Brantley never wanted to be an overseer. After a runaway slave shot him, ending his career as a Texas Ranger and leaving him with a painful limp, a job on the plantation owned by his fathers friend is just what he needs to bide his time before heading to Oregon where a man can start over. What he hadnt bargained on was falling in love with the planters daughter or finding that everything he once believed about Negroes wasnt true. Amid secrets unraveling and the hatching of a dangerous plan, Seth must become the very thing hed spent the past four years chasing down: an outlaw.




Born and raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Michelle Shocklee is a Rocky Mountain girl at heart. But after living in Texas the past thirty years with her tall Texan husband, she has grown to truly appreciate the Lone Star States rugged beauty. Her family lived in Williamson County, the setting for her debut novel The Planter’s Daughter, for more than twenty years. She and her husband currently live and work on a 400-acre ranch in the Texas Hill Country where they can often be found spoiling llamas, sheep, and chickens. She is a contributing author in numerous Chicken Soup for the Soul books, magazine articles, and writes the Life Along The Way blog.

The Planter’s Daughter is the first book in The Women of Rose Hill series, a historical series set on a Texas cotton plantation before and after the Civil War.

Visit these sites to learn more and connect with Michelle:







 

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Southern Literary Fiction in Three Easy Steps (Yeah, right…) by Eva Marie Everson


In a recent blogpost, Chip MacGregor predicted that Christian fiction as we now know it will cease to exist. Namely, he stated, because the readers who demanded 100,000 copies of the latest Amish romance had “aged out.”

Chip (who knows this industry, folks), stated further that the few Christian houses still publishing fiction will now look for “high-quality literary or women’s stories for a broader people of faith … rather than clearly religious stories aimed only at the faithful.”

I’ll admit, I’m doing a happy dance over here.

Authors of Southern fiction have known for a while that our work is either about poking fun at our people (think Mary Kay Andrews (Hissy Fit)) or we dig into the darkest elements of who we are (Pat Conroy (South of Broad).

Southerners are a complex bunch of people. We can praise God from one side of our mouth while quoting superstitions from the other. We are white verandahs and dark shadows in the cluster of live oaks dripping with moss.

But how do we differentiate between “fiction” and “literary fiction”? And what makes literary fiction “southern”?

Fiction is literature with madeup stories and characters. Literary fiction is symbolic or thematic fiction and should comment on something significant (such as the human condition). Literary fiction isn’t meant simply to entertain—such as genre fiction, which is meant to help you escape your reality. Rather, literary fiction sparks discussion—arguments even—around the dinner table, the water cooler, and on social media because it comments on the realities of life.

Literary fiction usually has complex/complicated characters (which is why Southern Fiction can so easily fit right in). Complex/complicated characters are multi-layered and, when brought together between the bindings of one book, form an onion-like story filled with sub-plots told without any sense of rushing.

Who better to fit the proverbial example than Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind? Southern literary fiction at its finest. Not because it is set in the South, but because its complex characters embody the Southern experience.

Writing literary fiction is as simple as one-two-three. (Okay, we all know there is nothing simple about it.) But if I had to give you three steps to writing in the literary style, they would be:
 
1.  Create characters who are complex. This means spending time working out the details of characters who are by nature one thing, but who have been shaped to something else by experience. Then, allow your characters to tell you a story that is bigger than you could have possibly imagined. Listen long. Listen hard. This won’t come in one sitting.
 
2.  Concentrate as much on your tone and voice as you do the theme of the story. Take your time with word choice and don’t let anything sway you from those that come from your gut. That doesn’t mean you’ll use three adjectives to describe one noun and three adverbs to describe one verb, but more that the nouns and verbs pop on their own. (Not to say you can’t use adjectives and adverbs … just be careful.)
 
3.  Take all the time you need. None of this will come overnight nor will it be written in a day. Or a week. And maybe not in a year. But when you are done—deliciously exhausted from the process—you’ll have something you’re proud of. You’ll say, “This is it. This is it.”

 
Eva Marie Everson is the bestselling, multi-award winning author of both fiction and nonfiction. Her latest work of fiction, The One True Love of Alice-Ann, is set in the south during World War II. Eva Marie is the president of Word Weavers International and the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference. She is a wife, mother, and grandmother.
 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Writing Stories is My Superpower? by Sandra Ardoin

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I’m writing I feel like a female version of Captain America. That shield goes up, those brain muscles pop out, and I’m able to fend off the enemies of my word count goal for the day—things like opportunities for new proposals, marketing, emails, social media, interesting and informative blog posts.

Other times…

I’m more like wimpy Stephanie Rogers, eager to join the fray but too weak to focus, too harried to sit still, and too insecure to believe I can write something worth the time and attention of readers.

Are you ever like that? Of course you are. You’re a writer.

Let me lay it all out on the table. Completing projects in the past year or so has been tough for me. Oh, I have good intentions. I even have good story ideas (seriously). But I’ve let myself be distracted by the shiny objects in the first paragraph. I’m proclaiming here and now, this year will be different. It’s already different. I have ambitions, and I’m growing those muscles that will lead to restoring my superpower.

Here are six ways I’m accomplishing that for 2017:                  
  • I wrote a business plan. It contains the projects I’d like to complete this year, as well as various marketing goals. It’s ambitious, and I may not succeed in getting everything done, but I’ve called them out, which gives me a written list to nag remind me. 
  • I have some nifty Excel templates. One is a To-do List. I use this to keep track of things needing to be completed during the week (or month) by date. It nags reminds me if I’ve missed my deadline, something my former written list didn’t do. 
  • Another template is a Project Tracker. I’ve listed the stories I want to work on this year, the projected begin time, end time, word count, and the word count I complete each month. When I’m done, I’ll include the actual end time and number of days it took to complete, so I have a record for future projects of the same length. 
  • I have a white board calendar on which I write the word count expected for the month, along with the count completed for each day, week, and the added monthly total.

The common denominator of the above? It’s in black and white (sometimes red and green). A written plan. 

Here are a couple of unwritten rules for my year.
  • I’m being extra careful about the amount of time I give to marketing, social media updates—all those things in the first paragraph. Yes, they’re necessary. However, if I never finish another book, I can market til the cows give chocolate milk, but have nothing new for readers. 
  • Naturally, I’ll still prepare proposals for special projects, but rather than let them deter me with shouts of “You need to work on me…just in case!” I’ll submit and return to my current WIP.

That’s my plan for keeping myself accountable. You probably know other ways to increase your writing superpower.

Your fellow writers would love to know what they are! In the comments, tell us something you do to accomplish your writing goals. 


~~~~~~



Sandra Ardoin writes inspirational historical romance. She’s the author of The Yuletide Angel and A Reluctant Melody, a 2016 Grace Award Finalist. A wife and mom, she’s also a reader, football fan, NASCAR watcher, garden planter, country music listener, and antique store prowler. Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Join her email community to receive occasional updates and a free short story.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

A Surefire Way for Writers to Fail at Social Media by DiAnn Mills

DiAnn Mills
A writer focuses his efforts on every task of this wonderful world of publishing. It’s a mix of the craft, social media, marketing, promotion, and meeting reader needs. For many, Social Media is met with groans, excuses, and do-I-have-to?

This blog post is to help you succeed not fail at social media.

Non-responsive is the biggest culprit that contributes to social media failure. The list below is short and simple. But if you’re guilty of any of the following, now is the time to mend your ways.

Writers who don’t take the time to thank, address, or value those who comment on our blog. These people are the ones who support us. They’ve taken the time to read our blog and type a response.

Writers who don’t respond to e-mails. I’m not talking about junk and spam. But I am referring to readers who contact you with a question. If the message is critical, then form a gracious response. If the sender is requesting for you to perform a service, then respond appropriately.

Writers who ignore comments on Facebook. No matter what is posted on your personal or author page, the sender deserves a “like” at a minimum. Be creative and allow that person to know you appreciate the time spent in composing a message.

Writers who don’t check Goodreads. If your blog is linked to your Goodreads Page, are you responding to those who comment?

Writers who ignore new Twitter followers. When you receive a new follower, do you take time to address them personally and thank them for the follow? Do you search for a post on the follower’s page that you can like or share? Do you read the new follower’s bio and make a comment?

Writers who fail to message and thank new followers on Instagram.

The one way to end your social media success is to do nothing when others are curious and inquisitive. Let’s help each other.

How do you manage your social media comments?
About the Author
DiAnn Mills is a bestselling author who believes her readers should expect an adventure. She combines unforgettable characters with unpredictable plots to create action-packed, suspense-filled novels.

Her titles have appeared on the CBA and ECPA bestseller lists; won two Christy Awards; and been finalists for the RITA, Daphne Du Maurier, Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Carol award contests. Library Journal presented her with a Best Books 2014: Genre Fiction award in the Christian Fiction category for Firewall.

DiAnn is a founding board member of the American Christian Fiction Writers, a member of Advanced Writers and Speakers Association, Sisters in Crime, and International Thriller Writers. She is co-director of The Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference and The Author Roadmap with social media specialist Edie Melson where she continues her passion of helping other writers be successful. She speaks to various groups and teaches writing workshops around the country.

DiAnn has been termed a coffee snob and roasts her own coffee beans. She’s an avid reader, loves to cook, and believes her grandchildren are the smartest kids in the universe. She and her husband live in sunny Houston, Texas.

DiAnn is very active online and would love to connect with readers on any of the social media platforms listed at www.diannmills.com.
Deep Extraction
by DiAnn Mills

Deep Extraction


A SUSPICIOUS DEATH, A SECRET PLOT, A BUDDING ROMANCE. 


A pacemaker should have saved oil and gas magnate Nathan Moore’s life. Instead, it provided his killer with a perfect means of execution. Special Agent Tori Templeton teams up with US Marshall Cole Jeffers to investigate Nathan’s murder and whether it’s connected to a recent bombing at one of Nathan’s oil rigs. The closer they get to finding the killer, and to each other, the more intent someone is in silencing them for good.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Stay True to Your Writing Path by Mary Manners



Stay True to Your Writing Path

 
Authors learn early in the journey that writing rarely takes a vacation. Ideas churn. Deadlines loom. Sometimes (lots of times) it's difficult to fall asleep at night with all those storylines and plot twists warring for attention. It's easy to get carried away in our make believe worlds and neglect real life. Thus broaches one of the great mysteries of life: How do we optimize time management in order to facilitate a balance between writing and family time, so we can get it all done? 

I work great under pressure and time constraints. Decades as a teacher and school administrator taught me to expect the unexpected and quickly adapt. Tackling half-a-dozen tasks simultaneously was commonplace, and I managed with ease. So, giving up my day job for full-time writing was destined to be a cake-walk, right?
 
Wrong. Now that I've retired to full-time writing I've had to develop an entirely new writing routine. It's much too easy to squander time when there are ten hours in the writing day instead on one or two. It's easy to stretch a thirty minute lunch to an hour, or an hour reading one of my favorite books into two. Time-suckers lurk around every corner so organization and time-management become more important than ever. Developing good habits (while discouraging those that quickly become not so good) is paramount if I want to avoid cutting into family time to meet deadlines.
 
 
If time management is an issue I have found a simple, foolproof solution: Take a deep breath and write. Set a writing goal and stick to it. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself. My goal is usually five for five. I must write 500 words before I break for a five-minute trek through the virtual world to see what’s going on, or before I indulge in a snack or a second cup of coffee. I set a timer and strictly limit myself to five minutes. This technique works very well to help tackle and tie up writing projects as deadlines close in. The promise of a snack or a walk through social media motivates me to get those words down on paper, yet I avoid getting carried away.

So, the next time poor time management threatens to snatch away writing time, step back, take a deep breath, and then dive back in to WRITE. Stay focused and enjoy the journey. Happy Writing!
 
~~~~~
 


Peyton Foster harbors a secret…from the day he first stepped into her life she’s loved Luke Maddox. Though she thought they’d developed a lasting friendship, events surrounding her mother’s death chased him away. It’s all for the best, since Peyton’s passion as proprietor of A Whisper in Time proves the perfect complement to her shyness—a much better fit than her former misguided schoolgirl attraction to Luke.

Luke Maddox feels a connection with Peyton Foster from the first moment their paths cross. But when he settles in Honeysuckle Cove, a past riddled by years traversing the foster care system leaves him longing to fit in, leading him to take part in a foolish school dare that costs him Peyton’s friendship. Haunted by the mistake, he searches for a way to mend the past and find a way back to Peyton’s heart. When a break-in at A Whisper in Time causes their paths to once again cross, Luke must make a choice—bare his heart and face the consequences, or allow the only woman he’s ever loved to slip away.

~~~~~
Mary Manners is a country girl at heart who has spent a lifetime exploring her joy of writing. She has two sons and a daughter, as well as three beautiful grandchildren. She currently lives along the sunny shores of Jacksonville Beach with her husband Tim.
A former teacher as well an intermediate school principal, Mary spent three decades sharing her love of learning with students from kindergarten through middle grades. While growing up in Chicago and as an undergraduate at the University of Illinois, Mary worked her way through a variety of jobs including paper girl, figure skating instructor, pizza chef, and nanny. Many of these enriching and challenging experiences led to adventures that bring laughs and insight to her stories. Mary loves long sunrise runs, ocean sunsets, and flavored coffee.
Connect with Mary at her website: www.MaryMannersRomance.com. “Like” her author page on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.
 




Friday, March 24, 2017

Where Imagination Meets Eternity by C. Kevin Thompson



C. Kevin Thompson
I recently came across two articles that spoke to different topics but had a similar message.

One article, from Mirror, in the UK, tells the tale of how a female author by the name of Enid Blyton apparently held a contest back in the day. The winner received a copy of George Elliot’s book, Silas Marner, with an inscription from Blyton congratulating the winner named Mary. The book was then acquired years later via some kind of estate sale by a bookstore in the UK and put on the shelves for one pound (£1). Someone bought the book, took it home, and found the famous author’s signature and note inside, instantly making the book worth several hundred pounds, much to the lament of the used bookstore owner.

The other article was about a Canadian pharmacist by the name of Dr. William Leslie who traveled to central Africa, spending 17 years of his life attempting to evangelize the region. He eventually left Africa believing his mission was a wretched failure. Now, 72 years later, what has developed into a thriving Christian community is nothing short of miraculous.

As writers, we often feel like Dr. Leslie, don’t we? We write stories. We write articles. We blog. We Facebook. We Twitter. We “pin” things of interest on Pinterest. We write more stories and articles, all the while seeing our work go largely unnoticed. It seems to “get noticed” in the exploding, noisy world of publishing requires something miraculous. It takes a great deal of faith and hope to keep after this writing deal we love so much when nothing miraculous is happening.

But who’s to say that one day, a book you signed for a reader or contest winner won’t be worth more than all your books combined? Or who’s to say a flourishing community of fans over the years won’t sprout up in little pockets, little dots on the globe, where you surely believed you had never penetrated?

We often limit ourselves. It’s not that God closes the doors. It’s rather that we do. “Oh ye of little faith” (Matthew 8:26). We sang the songs as kids. “My God is so big, so strong, and so mighty, there’s nothing my God cannot do.” Yet, He has chosen NOT to use us and our writing abilities. That’s what we rationalize, anyway. Instead, we believe God’s chosen Author X or Author Y. “He’s blessing them. Look at their Amazon rankings and number of reviews!”

Could it be that they are selling tons of books but making no impact on society? I’ve never heard of Enid Blyton. She sold 600 million books (partially because she wrote about 300 million…J/K, but close). I’m sure she was an excellent author, but her books didn’t impact me, and I’m sure I’m not alone. Oh, and by the way, none of her books have been made into blockbuster movies, either. Interesting.

Yet, one author who did make an impact on me was Margaret Marshall Saunders. She didn’t write very many novels. I only counted a handful online. The one I read as a boy was Beautiful Joe. It impacted me because I was given this book shortly after our family dog passed away. The one I’d grown up with since being an infant.

I said all that to say this: You just never know who you may be impacting right now, or in the days ahead. So, keep writing. Keep getting better at it. Don’t lose hope. You just never know when somebody wanders into a used bookstore and finds your signature on the inside pages. Or maybe a reader gets inspired and does wondrous things for the kingdom of God in a remote place. Or maybe a little boy finds comfort in your words after a devastating loss.

None of these things can happen if you turn off your computer, toss your pen aside, and say, “I quit.”

Keep writing, my friend, and be faithful to God. He has plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11).





Book 2 of The Blake Meyer Thriller Series

A Looming Attack. A Loathsome Abduction. A Lethal Assassin.

Supervisory Special Agent Blake Meyer has an impossible choice to make. After thwarting a massive biological attack on the continental United States, the contagion is still missing and in the hands of the enemy. So is his family. Abducted as an act of revenge.

The clock is ticking, and the chances of finding his wife and children wane with every passing second. The assassin behind it holds all the answers.

Or does she?

Three demands. Three choices.

Blake Meyer knows what must be done...but can he accomplish it before its too late? Time is literally of the essence. And double time will not be fast enough.



C. KEVIN THOMPSON is an ordained minister with a B.A. In Bible (Houghton College, Houghton, NY), an M.A. in Christian Studies (Wesley Biblical Seminary, Jackson, MS), and an M.Ed. in Educational Leadership (National-Louis University, Wheeling, IL). He presently works as an assistant principal in a middle school.

His latest book, 30 Days Hath Revenge - A Blake Meyer Thriller: Book 1, is now available! Book 2 of the Blake Meyer Series, Triple Time, is now available for pre-order! Book 3, The Tide of Times, will be out in August 2017! Also, the second edition of The Serpent’s Grasp will be out in May 2017 through Hallway Publishing!

Kevin is a huge fan of the TV series 24, The Blacklist, Blue Bloods, and Criminal Minds, loves anything to do with Star Trek, and is a Sherlock Holmes fanatic, too.

To connect with Kevin and learn more, please visit:

Website:                                www.ckevinthompson.com/
Kevin’s Writer’s Blog:        www.ckevinthompson.blogspot.com/
Facebook:                              C. Kevin Thompson – Author Fan Page
Twitter:                                 @CKevinThompson 
Goodreads:                           C. Kevin Thompson