Wednesday, July 23, 2008

A Visit with Leanna Ellis

Winner of the National Readers’ Choice Award and Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart Award, Leanna Ellis writes women’s fiction for B&H Publishing. Her latest book, Lookin’ Back, Texas will be released September 2008. Visit her website at

SDC. We’re anxious to hear all about you, Leanna in reference to why you chose the interesting subject manner you chose for your books!

LE Thanks for having me, Shirley! It’s nice to be here.

SDC: Describe your book coming out and if you have time, we would love to hear about some of the others, as well.

LE My second book for B&H Publishing (which is actually my 14th published novel) is called Lookin’ Back, Texas. It’s about a devoted wife and mother who must return to her hometown of Luckenbach, Texas to help her mother plan her father’s funeral. Trouble is – he isn’t dead! And neither are the secrets she buried there years ago.

The first of my women’s fiction titles was the launch book for B&H Publishing Group called Elvis Takes a Back Seat. It came out last January and I’ll be giving away a free copy here on your site. It’s about a young widow who determines to fulfill her husband’s last request by hauling a three foot bust of Elvis strapped in the back seat of a vintage Cadillac from Texas to Memphis to return it to its rightful owner. The road trip with her eccentric aunt, who knew the King of Rock n’ Roll, and a temperamental teen, hits roadblocks and detours as the three women uncover pieces of their own past along with the bust’s mysterious history. The discoveries change the course of their lives forever.

SDC. What kind of audience are you writing for or do your books fit any age group?

LE I mostly write for women but I’ve had letters from male readers, too. I don’t think my books are aimed at a particular age. Usually I have characters of all ages in my books, so there’s always a character a reader can hopefully relate to.

SDC What do you enjoy the most about your writing experience?

LE I love having written. Actually, I love the creative process. I love when a character knocks on my sub-conscious and begins to tell me his or her story. I love the excitement that generates. I love when dialogue between characters just won’t stop in my head until I go write it down. I love finishing that first draft. But then I love digging back in and strengthening the story. But there’s nothing quite like holding that baby for the first time and opening the cover to find my words printed on the page.

SDC What irks you the most about your writing experience?

LE Irks me? Hmmm. Sometimes the writing business is frustrating for new writers and experienced writers. Your favorite editor leaves. Or has a baby. The market changes. The book you love doesn’t sell as well as you had hoped. All sorts of things can happen that make the writer feel out of control. And maybe that’s the lesson we’re to learn. We ultimately have no control in such a subjective business. We have to really lean on the Lord.

SKC: What inspires you to keep going?

LE Oh, I’m a fairly determined type of gal. But I do have to just stop and pray and ask the Lord what He wants me to do. What is His plan? But all sorts of things inspire me, from answered prayers to new ideas to reading about folks who have reached their dreams. We all have dreams and they’re important to God.

SDC: Do you personally promote your book and name, or do you leave it to your publisher and what do you feel is the best way for you to get known by the public?

LE I’m not very good at tooting my own horn. That’s probably the hardest aspect of the writing biz for me. Thankfully, my publisher is very proactive. But I maintain a website, attend signings, speaking engagements, answer emails from readers, do interviews, etc... I think ultimately the best promotion is a good book for readers.

SDC: So many of us, as authors, spend a lot of time reading. What books do you have on your nightstand and in your reading room that you are working your way through? And do you have any you recommend to us?

LE I usually have two to five books that I’m reading at the same time. I know … crazy. Or so my hubby thinks. J Some of my favorite books are: To Kill a Mockingbird, A Year of Wonders by Geraldine Brooks, The Other Boleyn Girl by Phillippa Gregory, Francine River’s Redeeming Love, Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Lives of Bees, Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, The Kite Runner by Kahaled Hosseini. Stop me! I could go on and on about some great books I’ve read. I love talking about books!

SDC What is the latest thing you learned about writing that you would like to share with us?

LE I’m constantly reading books about writing. I’ve been reading James Scott Bell’s latest on revision. His book on Scene and Structure is excellent. Often I reread books I’ve had on my shelves for years. But recently I bought the dvd of Chris Vogler and Michael Hague on the inner and outer Hero’s Journey. Fabulous. I also really like to purchase the cds at conferences I attend so I can hear other writers who I may or may not get to hear in person.

SDC: Where can we come visit you and pick up one of your books today?

LE You can find me at any bookstore like Barnes and Noble, Lifeway Christian Stores, Books a Million, Borders or online at, Crossings and On my website, I have a schedule of upcoming events. Hope to see you there!

THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR sharing with us, Leanna. THIS WAS INDEED AN HONOR and blessing!

Thanks for having me, Shirley! It was my pleasure.



A Visit with LA Linda Krueger

MEET LA (Linda)! I was born and raised in San Diego, California. After my husband and I got married we were moved to Jacksonville, Florida, compliments of the United States Navy. We now live in the northwoods of Wisconsin with our son and two cats. When I was growing up I always thought it would be great to have “real” seasons that change and now I have them!

SKC: Tell us about the book you have out or any newest project you are working on.

LK: Terror By Night is a Christian thriller that takes place in Southern California. Here’s what I have posted about it on my website:

Something sinister is going on in the beautiful beach town of Santa Juanita, California, but not even the target of the plot knows what's really happening. Naomi Thompson suddenly feels as though she is living in the nightmare that has terrified her since childhood. With her life crumbling around her, Naomi begins searching for answers, but will those answers bring her the peace she so desperately craves? Ultimately Naomi must make a choice that will change her life forever, but with her decisions being influenced by unseen powers, will she make the right choice?

Find out in L.A. Krueger's latest Christian thriller, Terror By Night, as you step behind the veil between the reality we know and the unseen spiritual reality that surrounds us.

The sequel to Terror By Night is in the works. I thought I had it mapped out, but the characters had different ideas and I’m in the process of reworking it. The working title for it is In The Secret Place. I do know that in it we will see the consequences of the decisions that Naomi made in Terror By Night, as well as some very surprising turns of events for she and her husband Mark. I can’t wait to get it done!

SKC: Both sound interesting! What else do you write?

LK: My first book is a humorous autobiography about my experience as a Navy wife. It’s called When Will My Ship Come In? The Misadventures of a Navy Wife. I also write articles for my website, Under The Shadow Of His Wing (, which are commentary and Biblical studies. I also try to keep up with my three blogs -,,

SKC: What inspired you to begin writing in the first place, Linda, and what keeps you going?

LK: When I was in the second grade I wrote my first book. It was very short and bound in construction paper covered cardboard. It was also completely plagiarized from an episode of Outer Limits, but it was enough to get me hooked on the idea of writing. As I grew up I wrote lots of poetry, but it wasn’t until I was an adult that I really thought of becoming a real, live, published author. The thing that keeps me going is really the plots and the characters themselves. Once an idea or a character gets in my head I simply must do something with it. I must have at least eight different book projects in various stages of completion at the moment. I honestly don’t know what it would be like not to write.

SKC: How disciplined are you each day with your writing, Linda, and when did you begin to take it seriously?

LK: I try to do some writing every day, but at this point my priorities have been changed a bit. We homeschool our son, so his education has to come first. That means that I don’t get to write as much as I’d like to, but I do keep my hand in it. I’ve got a large notebook where I keep my story ideas and notes. It’s very important that I be able to jot these things down as they come to me otherwise I’d either drive myself crazy trying to remember them or they’d float off and be lost forever.

I think I honestly started to take my writing seriously after my mother passed away in 1996. I had written before then and knew that I really loved to write, but there was something about losing my mom that woke me up. She had always said that I should write a book. I only wish she had been alive when I was published. I also knew that I had stories to tell and things to share and that I had been given a wonderful gift to be able to communicate. I didn’t want to waste that gift – and I knew if I didn’t get those words out and on paper I’d burst!

SKC: What are some favorite writing you use in the way of books you have used, to help you in your craft?

LK: When I first decided that I wanted to write I did a lot of reading. I read books in the same genre that I wanted to write. I learned from both the books that were well written and from those that were poorly written. I also read a lot of Writer’s Digest magazine and took one of their correspondence courses on novel writing.

SKC: What do you when you are not writing?

LK: Think about it! Just kidding. I’m the main educator of our son and that takes priority over just about everything else. Homeschooling sounds like fun, and it really is, but it’s a huge responsibility. If I think about it too much it can be really daunting.

I love working with digital graphics and have recently begun making digital scrapbook pages for our family. We’ve had two boxes filled with photographs following us around for years. Now I can finally do something constructive with them, as well as with all of the digital photos we have. I love the creativity in it. I also love to work on cross-stitch, knitting, and crocheting. I’m an avid reader and love to listen to music, too.

SKC: How do you come up with the names of your heroes and heroines, and your other characters?

LK: Well, some of the names were just there. It’s almost like meeting someone for the first time. They have a life complete with name and baggage. When I need a name I’ll sometimes scan through a baby name book. Meanings of names are important to me, so I like to make sure that the name would fit with the character’s character. For the angels in my novel, some of them I just knew their names, but for others I actually scanned through the Bible and found names that sounded good for them.

SKC: Do you run a theme through your stories and how do you go about working it in?

LK: I never really thought about that before, but I suppose that there really is a theme running through Terror By Night. It would be one of good versus evil, right versus wrong. Since it wasn’t really a conscious thought on my part I couldn’t really say how I worked it in to the story. Rather it is the meat of the story so it naturally runs through the story.

SKC: What do you think is one of the most important things you have learned so far since becoming a published writer?

LK Writing the book is the easy part. It’s the business side of writing – marketing and publicity – that’s really tough. I’m very thankful that my husband, Dan, is very supportive and is willing to help me out with it a lot. I’d be just happy as a clam writing, writing, writing, never having to think about “business!”

SDC: What is the most difficult for you, the beginning, the middle, or the end of the story?

LK.: Yes! Honestly, I think that whatever part of the story I’m in is the most difficult for me at that moment. In starting a story you want to make sure you have a good opening to grab your reader’s attention, so that’s very important. In the middle you need to make sure that you don’t lose your reader by slacking off too much and coasting to the end. And with the ending, you need to wrap things up sufficiently so that your reader feels satisfied – even if you plan on writing a sequel. Each book, whether it is a single work or part of a series, needs to be able to stand on its own.

SDC: What is next on the horizon for you?

LK: I have a number of articles lined up to write for that I’m very excited about. I just need to get my research wrapped up for those. And I really do feel like I’m zeroing in on the direction for In The Secret Place, which is very exciting for me. Now all I need is about another 24 hours in a day and I’ll be all set!

LAKrueger’s Books –
Books can be purchased directly from her website, or through Barnes & Noble –

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Too Hot to Think...or Breathe!

Yesterday was a difficult day! The soaring temperature rose to 109 degrees here in Brookings, a record for this area, and higher than it's been in the last 75 years! The day before that it was 103!

On the day before, old lowly me was sitting here in my parlor-office writing away--faithful to my daily routine (as best I could be in the state I was in), and trying to stay on task until my own designated temporary quitting time, which is around 3-ish. That's when Brit Hume comes on the Fox channel down here in Southern Oregon. Sure, it was a measly 103 degrees, but I got so sick from the heat I almost fainted. (Some people call that a near heatstroke.) Only prayer got me back to myself by late that evening.

Well this hotter night, we were preparing to have guests over for our regular Tuesday night Bible Study. But by the time 7:00 came around...oh, my! It was probably over 95 degrees just in our livingroom. Even with fans going in a couple of rooms and all the doors and windows going, and all of us drinking iced tea and V-8s, and whatever else we could find around the house with ice, we still nearly suffocated by the time it was over and everyone returned home at 8:30.

At least I wasn't sick again the second night. But I sure felt sorry for my two wonderful dogs, Heidi (0ur Border Collie) and Eli (our Aussie). And man, did I pain for my sweet chickens in their chicken house! They have to be closed in at night because of the critters out and about. Then, there was my three cats, Allie, Ben, and Arabelle. (Oh, wow! How would you like to be a bundle of fur at a time like that?)

Back to my story....

After everyone returned to their homes, my husband decided to take the dogs on their one final walk for the day, you know, so dogs can do what they do.... And thankfully it was a simple narrow walk which wouldn't take much time. (I never did teach them how know, do what dogs must do, at least not in the two powder rooms inside our house.)

Well, I can tell you now, it was a big mistake...him taking those dogs out on an exerted walk in that kind of heat. Just like me working too long in the hot parlor the day before.

After they returned and our little Eli (who had never experienced a heat wave like we were having) started acting very strange, and the next thing we knew he was down on the ground stiffening up and going into convulsions. The poor guy was having a heatstroke!

I watched the little guy suffering and jumped off the porch, my husband following me, and we immediately turned on the hose and started washing him down. (It would have been the second time in the evening we had washed our Eli down to cool him off.)

He continued with his seizure, and having extreme difficulty breathing, and I ran into the house to look for our dog medical book while Tom continued washing him down and talking to him. I was looking high and low for that dumb old thing to make sure we were indeed, doing the right thing!

Naturally, in times like this, it would figure I could not find it anywhere!

So, I got on my knees and just started praying for the Lord to intervene as we had to do the night before for me, and asked the Lord to please bring our little dog back to us! What else could I do?

I so believe in the power of prayer and that my God can do all things!

When I returned to the front of the house I slowly watched and helped as little Eli (short for Elijah) started returning to us. But he was so disoriented we had no idea if he'd gotten brain damaged in the circumstance or not.

Since I can relate to a seizure situation (I have a seizure disorder myself which I must control by daily medication) I figured Eli probably needed nothing less than sleep and relaxation after what he'd been through. (Not that in the past my family has had to get the hose and water me down because of it, I mean, if I happened to miss a med and have a seizure of some kind! But who knows...maybe they have wanted to turn the hose on me!)

Anyway, I was right. (No, not about the hose on me)

Eli just needed to be dried with a towel and layed at my feet in the livingroom with the fan closer to him so he could rest for the remainder of the night.

I do know the importance of staying on task just like I'd been doing the day before...and yet, because I did and wasn't considering the situation, I over-exerted myself and made myself sick. (Perhaps I should have thought about that.)

The dogs (and Tom) were used to staying on task too, by taking that walk. And yet, they should have reconsidered the situation by looking around at the elements. (Tom should have.)

Thankfully, once again, prayer brought things into perspective. God showed us in no uncertain terms that regardless of how much of a narrow road any of us are on, as we do what we are accustomed to doing, there are times when we should use a little more common sense (which he gave us in the first place).

I'm so glad we have Him to go to when we don't always think quite straight.

Can you think of a situation where you didn't use YOUR common sense and something happened because of it, and God had to pull you through?

Perhaps not. But maybe you have.

What was your situation?

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