Monday, October 27, 2008

What do you give thanks for?

In my story about Amethyst Rose, my heroine goes through a time when she loses nearly all she loves and those she has cared for all her life. It brings her pretty far down in her thinking about her own life and even whether it is worth it to go on.

In my contest for November, I would love to hear from you about something unique you want to give thanks for.

We all know life is, indeed, special. We all must have something for which we can look up and say, "Thanks God."

What do you have to offer? I would love to hear.

I will select a winner by random drawing to this contest the weekend following Thanksgiving. The winner will receive both a signed copy of Flame from Within to have for her or his own library or to give as a gift to a friend. And also, in that package will be a memory from our trip to Ireland.

Let me hear from you!
(artwork by Julia Bettencourt)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Please Welcome Trish Perry with Me!

Trish Perry is the author of the contemporary romantic comedies, Beach Dreams, Too Good to Be True, and The Guy I’m Not Dating (all from Harvest House). Her next novel, Sunset Beach, will release June 2009. She writes a monthly column, “Real Life is Stranger,” for Christian Fiction Online Magazine. For seven years, Trish edited Ink and the Spirit, the newsletter of Washington D.C.’s Capital Christian Writers organization (CCW), and then she turned over the reigns to keep from going nuts over too many pans in the writing fire.

Trish holds a B.A. in Psychology, was a 1980s stockbroker, and held positions at the Securities and Exchange Commission and in several Washington law firms. She serves on the Board of Directors of CCW and is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers group and Romance Writers of America. She lives in Northern Virginia with her teenaged son.

SKC: You’re all over the place, I’ve noticed, Trish! Tell us all about what you are doing, and how you got there!

TP: Am I all over the place, Shirley? I guess that’s a good thing! Having recently returned from the American Christian Fiction Writers conference and having heard many times how important word of mouth is, I would hope to be in as many places as I can. Like most writers, I’d rather just write, but much of my time is devoted to trying to develop an Internet presence, enter novel-writing contests, and that kind of thing. All with the hope of exposing people to my books. Interviews like this are a complete Godsend, Shirley, and I appreciate the exposure. You just never know who might feel led to read something you wrote—God has an amazing way of putting the right reader with the right book. I’ve heard about that often from people who happened to read one of my books without realizing it was going to be suited to their current need. I love when He does that.

How I got here: before my novels started getting published, I published numerous short stories, essays, devotionals, and poetry in Christian and general market media. It was all a matter of doing the work, submitting, learning, and networking. The more you know, and the more people you know, the greater your chances of bringing your work to fruition.

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

TP: I didn’t notice how much I enjoyed writing until I was in college. I was well into my adult years when I finally went back to school. Although I majored in Psychology, I started taking as many creative writing classes as I could. I prayed like crazy for guidance before deciding whether to go on to grad school for Psychology or whether to write. I received my very first acceptance, for an inspirational poem in The War Cry magazine, the week I graduated. The timing of that inspired me.

Even with the thrill of publishing, some days it’s hard to keep going. Not that I don’t write every day. I just don’t always feel like writing on my current project. Deadlines help in that regard! Sometimes it just doesn’t matter if you feel like it or not—when you commit to turn in a project on a given date, there’s no such thing as “I don’t feel like it.”

And I know the Lord blesses His writers abundantly, in so many ways (and I don’t just mean His published writers).

SKC: He sure does. I believe that too. Tell us, how disciplined are you each day with your writing, and when did you begin to take it seriously, Trish?

TP: I’m always more disciplined when I’m under a deadline, Shirley, and the closer the deadline gets, the more disciplined I become. Sad, but true. I hope to improve upon that—you’d think I’d learn after three deadlines, wouldn’t you? My current deadline is December 1, so I’m writing a specific number of words, without fail every day.

I got serious about writing back in the 90s, when I felt the Lord wanted me to shift my path from Psychology to writing. I put everything I could into learning the craft and getting exposed to others in the field. And I wrote and submitted constantly and learned all about rejection.

SKC: I love to find books that help me with my craft. What are some favorite writing helps books you’ve used to help you?

TP: One of the first writing books I read was Get That Novel Started, by Donna Levin. Levin’s book convinced me I was capable of writing a novel. Albert Zuckerman’s Writing the Blockbuster Novel is excellent for learning to weave character and plot effectively. My copy of Browne & King’s Self-Editing for Fiction Writers is heavily highlighted, and I re-read the highlights before turning in any of my manuscripts. Finally, I’m currently reading James Scott Bell’s Plot and Structure, which gives me a new writing idea every day I read from it.

I’m a firm believer that novelists should avidly read novels. But if you want to write well, you should always be reading a book or magazine about the craft, as well.

SKC: I just read that book myself of James Scott Bell's. I loved it! Do you have a special Trish spot for writing, and if so where is it? How does it work with a family full of boys?

TP: Actually, I only have the one boy, my brilliant, hilarious, teenaged son. But I do have a difficult time writing when he’s home, unless he’s deep into his homework. When he’s home, we tend to share space—he’s my top priority in life, and I want that time with him. I don’t get to have him home that much longer—college looms! So we both work in the cozy space just off the kitchen, and we bounce thoughts and ideas off of each other constantly. We each have a desk and a computer, and a table for handwritten work.

I try to get the bulk of my writing done while I’m alone. I’m not one of those people who writes well in the middle of a boisterous coffee shop or with mood music playing. I’m easily distracted, and I create best when completely alone and surrounded by silence.

SKC: For some, it is difficult to have noise around. Trish, I loved the way you interviewed me by asking me about cast characters in a film in regards to my hero and heroine in my book Flame from Within. How do you come up with the names of your heroes and heroines? Do you work up character charts?

TP: Up until my third book I did character charts. But then I learned about Microsoft OneNote, which is like a notebook on your computer. Now I create visual files for each of my books, and I have a separate page for my characters. That page includes everything I need to know about each of my characters, including what they look like, their familial relationships, their history, their likes and dislikes, as well as links to where they went to college, where they met, where they frequent during the novel’s progress, that kind of thing. I almost always have OneNote open while I write, because I’m constantly using, or adding to, the information I might need to remember later in the story.

With regard to coming up with names, that varies. For the novel I’m working on now, I had a reason for my main character’s name to have to do with music, so I played with musical terms until I found the right name. And I have two Russian characters, so I used a baby-name site and a Russian-surname site for ideas. For two of my other characters, they’re twins, and I wanted one to have a softer name than the other—for them I simply sat and thought until the right feel came along.

SKC: How do you work that place in the story where sometimes a reader puts the book down and forgets to pick it back up again?

TP: Hush, Shirley! We don’t want any of those anywhere near our books, do we? Eek!

I tend to have short chapters, which isn’t deliberate, but it moves the reader along quickly. However, that also allows for plenty of stopping points, as you mention above. So I try to end my chapters with a suggestion of trouble or intrigue or a foreshadowing of some kind, to motivate the reader to turn the page.

SKC: Okay, so I shouldn't have asked that question! LOL. So , will you tell us, what you think is one of the most important things you have learned so far since becoming a published writer? (I mean besides what to do when you get to the unmentionable parts....)

TP: God is running the show. When I start to feel dried up, I realize I haven’t been starting my day with Him enough. I try to go to him, silently, every morning, but sometimes I simply forget. And I pay for it later on those days, because I need very much to aware of His constant presence and guidance in every facet of my life and my writing.

Also, I know I started writing because He drew me to it. I loved studying Psychology, and I know He drew me to that, as well. But I know that, should He ever draw me away from writing and toward something else, I’ll follow. By keeping my mind focused that way, I can be sure I’m doing His will, regardless of success or rejection. I don’t want to base my life’s work on success or rejection. I want to base it on what He wants from me.

SDC: You are so right! God IS running our show, isn't He! Trish, I want to thank you very much for crossing over the internet and joining us. Please tell us where readers can find you. I also understand you have a new book you would like to offer to one of our lucky guests. Is that right?

TP: I love visitors at my website where I have information about all of my books and links to Amazon for each. I also feature signed book give-aways every week!

And, yes, I’d love to give away a copy of my latest release,
Beach Dreams, to one of your readers, Shirley! I look forward to that.



Meet Alice Arenz, folks!

The mother of two grown daughters and grandmother of three, (Alice) A.K. Arenz has a two year degree in Office Information Systems from Northwest Missouri State University, where she also worked for several years. While with the College of Education, A.K. assisted with the college accreditation both at the national (NCATE) and state (DESE) levels. She’s found this experience and that of being Administrative Assistant to the Chair of the Department of Computer Science and Information Systems to be invaluable tools for her writing.

Since reading Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series as a child, A.K. has been creating her own stories. Her earliest publication was in the small, family-owned newspaper where her articles, essays, and poems were frequently included. From this early beginning, she honed her skills through university courses, studying Writer's Digest, how-to books on the craft, and through frequent submissions. In the mid-nineties, her writing earned her a stint with a well-known New York literary agency, and, although it failed to produce the hoped-for results, her determination to press forward eventually led her to Sheaf House.

A.K. has had poetry accepted for inclusion in various anthologies, as well as in the Maryville Daily Forum newspaper. She won an honorable mention and publication in the chapbook Look Who's Writing in Northwest Missouri, had a small article published in Family Safety & Health, and was the creator, editor, and head writer for a nationally registered fanzine.

As a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, A.K. has found the fellowship of both published and non-published members an inspiration. She has been a judge in the ACFW Book of the Year contest since 2005 and participated in judging ACFW’s 2007 Genesis contest for unpublished authors.

She lives in Missouri with her husband and two Himalayan cats. The Case of the Bouncing Grandma is her first novel.


SKC: What books or project are you working on now?

AA: I’m currently working on the second in The Bouncing Grandma Mystery Series, The Case of the Mystified M.D.

SKC: What inspired you to take up the craft of writing, Alice?

AA: The love of the written word. However, to be perfectly honest, I don’t often feel as if it is me doing the writing. I truly believe that whether I’m writing for the ABA or the CBA, it’s a calling from God.

SKC: What did you do when you received your first contract?

AA: Called my family, bounced off a few walls, called some more family, danced a jig, and called more family!

SKC: That's a kick! So tell, us, why have you chosen your particular genre?

AA: My preference in reading is mystery/suspense. This was the first time I’ve tried anything other than that. A cozy is a whole other animal.

SKC: Can you tell us something you have learned or are learning that you’d like to share with others coming in to the field?

AA: When my husband talks about my writing, he often tells people that writing the book was the easy part—everything that comes afterward is the hardest. I’ve often thought of correcting him and reminding him that facing a blank screen and filling it isn’t that easy, but have refrained from doing so. After a lot of thought, I realized that in many ways he’s right. Yes, it’s often a struggle to get the story out (I understand this as I’m going through my first writer’s block ever!), but once that story is written—even if it’s already been accepted for publication—you have a long road ahead of you with edits, re-writes, promotion, etc.

SKC: What kinds of movies do you watch to get ideas, or do you do that?

AA: I used to watch a lot of movies – don’t seem to have time anymore. Inspiration would come at different times, with different genres, etc. I love the movie Somewhere in Time, but I think it’s the music more than the movie than makes me want to write. Titanic is the same way. Then you have something totally silly and fun like What’s Up Doc? I love the slapstick and the timing.

Bottom line – I don’t really watch movies to get my ideas. The ideas just suddenly appear.

SKC: What’s your advice to other authors with how they can come up with cliff hangers?

AA: If you want to write a cliffhanger, you have to read and study them. Think about what you’ve read or seen in TV or movies. Take what you feel works, and then make it your own.

SKC: Good ideas, there. Why do so many authors have a difficult time coming up with their one-line blurbs and synopses do you think?

AA: Um . . . because it’s next to impossible to shrink a full-length, 70-100,000 word manuscript down to one-to-two pages or a single sentence. At least it is for me!

SKC: I have to agree! After you finish your present project what plans do you have, Alice?

AA: I wish I could tell you I’ve thought that far into the future, but I haven’t. Though, I do have a women’s fiction that I would like to finish and find a home for.

SKC: What a great interview! I can’t thank you enough for coming by to visit! God bless you, Alice! I understand you are offering a free copy of The Case of the Bouncing Grandma. Do you have any comments for those who write in?

AA: Thank you very much for having me, Shirley, it’s been a pleasure. God bless you and all your readers.

SKC: A pleasure! How can readers reach you to learn more about you and possibly purchase your work?

AA: To learn more about me, you can visit my Web site at or The Case of the Bouncing Grandma is available in bookstores and online at,,,, and other online bookstores.