Thursday, December 30, 2010

Intriguing New Year's Questions for the Reader, Writer, and Unpubbed ... Come See.

Maybe you've been wondering why E-Books are such a rage these days. Take a minute with Anne, and you'll see another reason to be excited about this popular new way to read a book.
Anne K. Albert has taught high school art, sold display advertising for a weekly newspaper, and worked for a national brand water company, but now writes full time. Her debut novel, DEFENDING GLORY, is the first book of the Piedmont Island Trilogy series about a small community where troubles outnumber residents. Released in 2010 by Vanilla Heart Publishing, it is available in e-book format and print. When not writing, Anne enjoys traveling with her high school sweetheart husband, visiting friends and family, knitting, crocheting, and of course, reading.
SKC: Hi and welcome to you Anne. We’re anxious to hear about your book in a bit. I will be asking you to share a blurb if you will. In the meantime, is there a message in Defending Glory you want readers to grasp?

Anne: I believe people come into our lives for a reason, and that’s exactly what happens when Mac meets Glory. The direction of his life changes forever. And, I might add, for the better!

SKC: How long does it take you to write a book? And how would you describe your specific writing routine?

Anne: When I give myself a deadline, I’m able to write the bones (or first draft) of a book in about six to eight weeks. The revision process takes another two or three weeks, but I prefer to take a break in between. Focusing on something other than the story for at least a week or so gives me clarity I don’t have otherwise if I rush through to “the end”.
As for having a specific writing routine, it varies. Either morning or late evening is my most productive time to write. However, my goal for 2011 is to complete two (but preferably three) books, so setting a minimum daily word count will also help.

SKC: I love Critique Partners and Critique Groups both. Are you a member of a critique group, or do you have a critique partner? Why or why not? If so, how often do you meet? And how do you see them as value?

Anne: I agree wholeheartedly about the merits of a critique partner and a critique group. I’ve had both in the past, and learned a great deal in the process. Now, I rely on beta readers to say what works and what doesn’t work in a completed manuscript.

SKC: What keeps you going with your writing in spite of the rejection notices that come?

Anne: I would love to say rejection did not get to me, but it did. I gave up writing twice. The first time was about ten years ago. I did not write a single word for about two months, and was practically bursting at the seams by the time I crawled back to the computer! I wrote three more novels. I also entered contests, analyzed the feedback, and kept writing with those recommendations in mind.

Defending Glory won two RWA sponsored contests for unpubbed writers in 2008. The rejections, however, continued to flow in. Worse, they included comments that praised my writing ability but basically said “not for me”. I found that SO much harder to swallow, and feared that perhaps I was being delusional. Who did I think I was? A writer?!

In August 2009, I broke my wrist, and hit rock bottom. I quit writing for a second time, and the drought continued for months. While my focus was on physiotherapy and healing, I was terrified because I honestly did not know if I would ever write again. The spark and urge to create had disappeared. Then, in the spring of 2010, a wonderful friend asked to read Defending Glory. We met for coffee afterward, and she talked about the story. Hearing it from her point of view, I realized how proud I was to have written it. With her encouragement, I began the submission process all over again, and in September 2010 Vanilla Heart Publishing offered me a contract. (So the moral of the story is never, ever give up!)

SKC: How many books have you written to date? Which one are you most proud of and why?

Anne: I’ve written five books to date. The first will never see the light of day. I’m in the process of revising book number two, and not sure what I’ll do with number three. Number four (Frank, Incense and Muriel, first book of the Muriel Reeves Mysteries), and book number five (Defending Glory) were released in late 2010, and I’m very, very proud of them both.

SKC: Of all the characters you’ve created, tell us about one that holds a special place in your heart and why.

Anne: I admire Glory, the heroine in Defending Glory, because she understands the trappings of a modern, affluent, and often aimless lifestyle does not necessarily equate with an emotional and spiritual wellbeing. She knows less can be more, yet she never lectures. She just lives by example.

SKC: What is the hardest part of writing for you and the most surprising thing you’ve learned from your writing?

Anne: Starting a new story is always the hardest part for me. Not because I don’t have any ideas, but because I’m a seat-of-the-pants author and I write in chronological order. I start at chapter one, scene one, and the beginning scene has to resonate with me before I can continue with the rest of the story and proceed to scene two. I’ll often write ten or more first scenes for the same story before I stumble across the one that “feels” just right.

The most surprising thing I’ve learned is that I am a seat-of-the-pants writer! I’d prefer to be a plotter. I’ve wasted years trying to be a plotter. I’ve even plotted two complete stories, but never written them. Why? Because I know what’s going to happen! Once I figured that out, I stopped trying to change who I am. And how I write. I’m a pantser!

SKC: Are you a glass half-empty or half-full kind of person? Let your answer to the question I just asked help you complete this sentence. “I’m happiest when….”

Anne: I’m a half-full person. Always have been. I believe people are about as happy as they decide to be.

I’m happiest when I’m writing and something happens that takes the story to the next level. That’s when I know I’m onto something worthwhile as a writer.

SKC: Give us a short blurb for your story. When you are finished, for your 3-part reflection question to one of our responders (so I can draw a winner’s name for your book)

Anne: Story blurb: Suffering from survivor’s guilt and unable to resume his career with the FBI, Mac McKeown moves to northern Minnesota to start over as a general contractor and forget that fateful day that changed everything. When he discovers the body of his nemesis on Glory Palmer’s property, along with a warning for her to leave while she still can and abandon her dream of building a Christian retreat, Mac realizes his past has come back to haunt him and an innocent woman’s life is in grave danger. He vows to keep her safe during construction of the retreat, but can he protect his heart as well?

(1) Being an UNPUBBED WRITER can be an exhausting endeavor, and achieving success can often take years. There is lots of advice on the Internet and in how-to books as to the best way to get a publishing contract. While they all have value, I believe a writer has to remain true to herself. She has to appreciate her limits, and know what line she will not cross. For me it’s writing a sex scene. I do not feel comfortable doing it, and as a reader I always skim over that section. 

“I’ll do everything and anything to get published, except _____________________________________________________________________________ "
(2) NEWLY PUBBED (and perhaps older) writers like myself have to come to terms with the changing publishing climate. Established NYC publishers are experiencing financial difficulties or bankruptcy, while emerging small and independent publishers are flourishing thanks to e-books.

Are you willing to embrace these changes? Will your views and attitudes on these changes aid or hinder your writing career?

(3) FOR THE READER: Both the heroine, Glory, and the hero, Mac, in “Defending Glory” relocated to Piedmont Island after suffering a personal tragedy.

Do you have a special place that calls to your soul? If so, describe it. What makes it so appealing?

SKC: All your questions are great, Anne. They really make us stop and think. And THANK YOU for offering to give a book to one of our responders!

We want to thank you so much for being here. Before you leave let us know where we can find you and your books.

Anne: The pleasure is all mine, Shirley. Thank you for having me! Readers can learn more about me and my books on my website  or at my blog: . DEFENDING GLORY is available in e-book format or print at various online locations, including, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and Vanilla Heart Publishing.

Okay, folks, it's now your turn. To win yourself a great read for the brand new year, write in and respond to one of Anne's questions. I look forward to maybe drawing your name in a few days.

Woo Hoo! A bunch of congrats are in order for Anne Payne of Vale, North Carolina! I know you're going to love Anne Albert's book! Do come back again.  

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

There's Hannah, There's Mary, and There's You and Me

Most of the time during the Christmas season, we want to remember to talk specifically about Jesus, because He is our reason for sharing this time together at all. It's never about us. It's about Him.
It sure makes a difference in the things we do and say when we remember why we come together.
Since A Pen for Your Thoughts speaks week after week of those things we reflect on, I also find myself thinking of the Biblical Hannah at this time of year. We read about her in the book of 1 Samuel.

The blessed Hannah (a little like Mary, the mother of Jesus) was first of all an intense prayer warrior as we read in 1 Samuel 1 and 2.

Hannah was married to a man they called Elkinah, who also was married to a woman named Peninnah. (God winked at things like that back then, but He's not winking these days, in case you were wondering).

Peninnah was a woman with a cruel tongue. Although it is not clear as we read the story, it's possible that Elkinah married Peninnah because Hannah could not conceive, and he was looking to have some sons.

But I wanted to share my heart with you about Hannah over the Christmas holidays to speak to the value of living a life of prayer and believing in our prayers because that was the kind of woman Hannah was.

Hannah would bear a son, who would be called Samuel, and who, himself, would grow up to become a man of prayer because of his mother’s witness.
Makes you want to ask yourself, "What is my witness?"

The name Samuel means “asked of the Lord.”
What are you asking the Lord about today?
Is it all all for yourself or is it for the betterment of others?

Hannah had a character that I would best describe as unblemished, pious, emotional, patient, trustworthy, faithful. (Sigh.)
How I wish I could say that about myself.
Though we don't necessarily read about her physical attributes, we learn from the way Hannah's described in character, she was definitely beautiful from within. The meaning of her name was gracious and favor. A woman with a gracious character who was favored by God because of it.

We read in 1 Samuel 1:

     "Now there was a certain man of Ramathaimzophim, of Mount Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah … And he had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah: and Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
     And this man went up out of his city yearly to worship and to sacrifice unto the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. (The difference between him and Samson who were both believers.)
     And the two sons of Eli (by Peninnah) … the priests of the Lord, were there. And when the time was that Elkinah offered, he gave to Peninnah his wife, and to all her sons and her daughters, portions: BUT UNTO HANNAH HE GAVE A WORTHY PORTION; for he loved Hannah: But the Lord had shut up her womb.
     And her adversary (the other wife) also provoked her sore, for to make her fret, because the Lord had shut up her womb. (she was a discourager rather than an encourager).
     And as he did so year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, so she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.
     Then said Elkanah her husband to her, 'Hannah, why weepest thou? And why eatest thou not? And why is thy heart grieved? Am not I better to thee than ten sons?'
     So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after they had drunk.
     Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the temple of the Lord.
     And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, 'O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaiden, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.'
     And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli marked her mouth.
     Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken. And Eli said unto her, 'How long wilt thou be drunken? Put away thy wine from thee.'
     And Hannah answered and said, 'No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. Count not thine handmaid for a daughter of Belial: for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief have I spoken hitherto.'
     Then Eli answered and said, 'Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him.'
     And she said 'Let thine handmaid find grace in thy sight.'
     So the woman went her way, and did eat, and her countenance was no more sad. And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the Lord, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the Lord remembered her.
     Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying Because I have asked him of the Lord…
     And when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bullocks, and one ephah of flour, and a bottle of wine, and brought him unto the house of the Lord in Shiloh: and the child was young. And they slew a bullock and brought the child to Eli.
     And she said, 'Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD. For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there.'
     And Hanna prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the Lord, mine horn is exalted in the Lord: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation. There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.
     And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived, and bare three sons and two daughters.
     And the child Samuel grew before the Lord."

     That was from part of the first and second chapter of 1 Samuel. We can read Hannah’s prayer, which reminds us of the prayer Jesus' mother Mary prayed when she was told she was to be blessed among women, and that the fruit of her womb would be the Son of God.
     Hannah was now going to be blessed with her own son who would become a true man of prayer. Let's see what she prayed and just how close to Mary's prayer it came.

  • Hannah prayed: “My heart rejoiceth in the Lord”
1. Mary prayed: “My soul doth magnify the Lord”
  • Hannah prayed: “Mine horn is exalted in the Lord”
2. Mary prayed: “My spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior”
  • Hannah prayed “My mouth is enlarged over mine enemies because I rejoice in thy salvation
3. Mary prayed: “He hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed
  • Hannah prayed: “There is none holy as the Lord 
4. Mary prayed: "For he that is mighty hath done great things and holy is his name"
  • Hannah prayed: "There is none beside thee"
5. Mary prayed: "And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation"
  • Hannah prayed: "Neither is there any rock like our God"
6. Mary prayed "And he hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts."

Hannah prayed and believed just like Mary prayed and believed.
Do we pray and believe our prayers?
Hannah dedicated her son to God. Mary dedicated God's Son back to Him.
Have we dedicated our children to God and left them in His hands?
Hannah was filled with faith and let God be her answer. Mary was filled with faith and let God be her Savior. Do we have hearts filled with faith and allowed God to make us into what He wants 
or do we often give up and always want things our way?

Although it was difficult to be so, Hannah remained patient. We know Mary must have been patient to go through what she went through to give birth to the Son of God.
Are we willing to wait on God’s answer
or do we try to work things out by ourselves again and again?

During this Christmas season, I can't help thinking about how Hannah’s faith was greatly tested. But when she was at her end, her husband encouraged her only in the Lord. Remember when he said, “Am I not better to thee than ten sons?”
This enabled Hannah to lift her spirits and go on. And as she did, she continued praying and believing and waiting for God provide her the answer. Then she had the faith to believe in what He could do.
Are we willing to do the same?

     If, during this Christmas season, you are being tested in your faith, or you see others being tested in theirs, how can you best be an instrument of encouragement.Take time this season to share the wonderful things God has done in so many peoples' lives thus far. Advising people around you to continue with their prayers, and in doing so, stay patient and believe. God won’t let the faithful down.

May you be blessed beyond abundance in the Lord during this Christmas season, no matter what you might be going through.  

Thursday, December 16, 2010

She Says People Need to Laugh More ...

At the top of your head, can you guess the author's name who has had twenty-six books published in between searching out some new exotic tea?

Bestselling and award-winning author, Anita Higman, has twenty-six books published (several coauthored) for adults and children, and she has been honored as a Barnes & Noble Author of the Month for Houston. Anita has a BA degree, combining speech communication, psychology, and art. Her favorite things include exotic teas, movies, and all things Jane Austen.

SDC: Over the last few years you have become both a well-known and talented writer, Anita. Before you tell us about your newest release coming, please fill us in on what got you started writing from the beginning.

Anita: Ever since I was a kid I wanted to be a writer, but my writing back then was remarkably terrible. No one told me that you had to practice writing just like the piano or tennis or anything else you wanted to be good at. So, because I thought I’d never improve, I put the dream of writing on a shelf for a long time. Years later I was reading a novel—can’t remember the title—when all at once, a bold and yet somewhat naive resolve settled in my spirit. I yelled to my husband in the next room, “I think I can do this.” It was a crossroads kind of life-moment. I wish I could say that my choice immediately led to the idyllic life, but my road was not a smooth one. But I kept after my dream this time, writing even when there was no inspiration and writing even when I thought I’d never get published. But I’m happy to say that persistence and practice finally paid off.

My latest release is a coauthored novella collection entitled, Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe. I had the opportunity to work with Irene Brand on this project, and we became good friends in the process. My novella is entitled, Once Upon a Christmas Eve, and it’s a love triangle—two men in love with the heroine, Holly Goodnight. I hope readers are entertained and inspired with the story.

SDC: I read in your blog, your purpose for writing and was blessed by that. What kind of response to you receive from readers who have been influenced greatly by one of your books?

Anita: I hope readers come away knowing that God is watching out for them. That he really works all things for good. I’m also hoping they have some chuckles along the way. People, all people, need to laugh more. It’s good for us in so many ways.

SDC: Do you work through an agent? If so, how did you go about finding yours, and what was your criteria for selecting?

Anita: Yes, I work with an agent. I’ve met agents in several different ways over the years, but I think one of the best ways to connect is to attend writer’s conferences. One important criterion is to make sure you get along well together. So, these one-on-one sessions at conferences are important. They give you time to chat and ask questions and get to know each other.

SDC: Anita, what’s your favorite Bible verse or verse that has sustained you recently and why?

Anita: I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. Psalm 121:1 (KJV) I can’t say that I’ve used this verse recently, but it is an important verse in my life. It has brought me comfort many times over the years when my husband was traveling.

SDC: I love that verse too. That takes me to a room that's special to us, oftentimes. Many writers have favorite rooms or spaces in our home or around our homes that we use to get our creativity juices flowing. Where is your favorite place to go and why? Does it often play any part in your story writing?

Anita: I do almost all of my work in my home office. That is where the juices flow for me. If I get stumped I usually run some errands, and by the time I get back I have my answer. So, I never underestimate the power of getting away from the computer for a few minutes to refresh.

SDC: I'm not sure why, but I discovered I haven’t yet had the opportunity to read one of your books. I hope to soon. Have you ever considered writing about a character who leaves the United States and goes elsewhere to find his or her love? What is your favorite place for a setting?

Anita: Good question. I would love to set a novel in Italy. My husband and I were there several months ago. Very beautiful. Very romantic.

SDC: Oh yes. You can't get much more romantic than that. Have you ever written anything that you had to later toss? How would you describe your OLD file system of “works in progress” that you chose not to pursue?

Anita: Yes, I have lots of old manuscripts that I now call “practice.” I doubt I would want any of them published. Most of them probably have as much depth as a puddle of rainwater.

SDC: (I'm laughing at that answer. Good descriptive way to put it. ) I understand you have a book you would like to share with one of our readers. That is always exciting to us here at the blog. Tell us which one you are planning to donate. Also, what question would you like to have answered to help me select the winner?

Anita: I’ll be giving away a copy of Love Finds You Under the Mistletoe. My question is this: Besides Christ’s birth, what do you love most about Christmastime?

SDC: Ah, it will be interesting to hear the answers to that one. It’s been a real pleasure having you here at A Pen for Your Thoughts, Anita. As we close, please tell us where your books can quickly be found and where our readers can look you up.

Anita: My new releases are usually at LifeWay, Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, and When a book starts to go out of print generally it can still be found on Amazon. Please feel free to drop by my website at .

READERS: As we move in to the Christmas week, be sure to answer Anita’s question above to try to win a copy of her book!

Merry Christmas and Lord's Blessings on Kim Thorne of Somerset NewJersey. You just won a copy of Anita's books! May it bring you great joy in the new year!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Who Knows? Who Cares? You Do. I Do.

Okay, it's true. This writing tip we are about to share with you all, doesn't have anything to do with Christmas. You won't mind that will you?
I guarantee you'll enjoy reading this great advice about how you might come up with a setting for your next book. That is, if you write books.
You don't write books? Well, that's okay too. For all of us, everything we do, every place we go speaks to who we are and what we know. What we want to know more about.
It teaches us more about ourselves. And teaches others more about us.

Read on, and we'll see what our tip writer Delia thinks.

 Does It Really Matter WHERE?

Delia Latham

It don’t rain in Indianapolis in the summer time…
And it don’t snow in Minneapolis when the winter comes…

Right. Try making a half-intelligent reader believe either of those lies. Even if they’ve never been to Indianapolis, never visited Minneapolis, Roger Miller’s old song let us all know without a single doubt that it most certainly does those things in those cities.

One of the many details an author has to consider when writing a work of fiction is where it will take place. It’s a little difficult to take a reader through an entire book without giving them some sense of location.

That said…does it matter what that place is?

While some books don’t shine a spotlight on any particular location, details provide at least vague hints. As a reader, if I come across a really unusual landmark or some sort of quirky weather in a work of fiction, my curiosity is aroused. If the author hasn’t spelled out a specific location, I start flipping through the book looking for one.

Do we reallyl want to force our readers to do that? I don’t! The best thing to do, then, is decide on a specific location for the reader to pinpoint on his mental atlas.

What in the world is a Mental Atlas?

One of the pluses to having a specific location in mind is that it forces the writer to adhere to a degree of accuracy, and that’s always good.

  • Ex: A tornado is ripping through my heroine’s neighborhood.
Warning sirens are screaming, and the whole family is headed for the storm cellar. It is to be hoped that I haven’t stated my setting as a fictional town in central California! If I have, most readers will close the book and find something else to read, because I obviously either live in some kind of alternate reality or I haven’t done my research.                                                 
  • Ex 2: A character has been viciously attacked by an alligator.
If the attack is crucial to your storyline, use it. But for Heaven’s sake, do not then tell us he’s in a hospital in Phoenix, Arizona! I’m not even sure there’s an alligator in that zoo…but I haven’t done that research. 
  • Ex 3: You want to set your novel in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, and the time of year needs to be mid-winter.
That opens up a lot of possibilities for an exciting storyline—good for you! Now don’t spoil it by sending your character outside wearing capris and a light cardigan. You’ll have to hospitalize her for hypothermia—and hopefully you won’t send her to UCLA for that medical care…

Location, Location, Location
Location, therefore, depends to some extent on your storyline. Or…if your location is set in stone, then your storyline needs to mold to that environment with accuracy and believability.

Other things need to be considered in setting, aside from the obvious weather conditions, or flora and fauna.


What about dialect? Stephen King is superb at pinpointing Maine as his typical setting simply by writing the dialect into his characters’ speech patterns. (Seriously, where else would a character spout “Ayuh” in every other sentence?) Southern states have a distinctive way of speaking, as well. And it shouldn’t be hard to identify a Cajun character’s location if you can master his language in your writing. (Have you read The Green Mile?)
 (And what about Brer Rabbit? Now, that's a book with dialect!)

Religious affiliations. Yep, setting matters. While nothing’s impossible (at least, not with God…), you’re a whole lot less likely to find an Amish community in the Los Angeles area than in say, somewhere around Philadelphia, wouldn’t you agree? And if your main character was born and raised in Utah, please don’t try to convince your reader that they’ve never met a Mormon. What are the chances? Little pockets of specific religious denominations do exist in various locations.

General settings. States and/or countries completely aside, local setting matters. Surfers don’t tend to congregate in Oklahoma. Beach settings aren’t often arid and dry. Setting can even be reflected in the foods your hero and heroine most often eat. If they live on the coast, chances are they eat more seafood than a character who lives in Kansas or Wyoming. You’ll find more collard greens on the table of a Southern character than one who lives in Los Angeles.

So many details that can make or break a story, little things that make it believable or totally unrealistic. Place has its place in every storyline. Location, location, location.

The answer is “yes.” It really matters WHERE.

© 2010 Delia Latham

Yesterday's Promise
Adam's Wings (coming this month)

Now, tell us about that favorite place you either like to read about at Christmas time, if there is one, or if you are a writer, write about anytime of year. And be sure to tell us why. Pick up your computer pen and share YOUR thoughts with us.

Graphics compliments of Ritva's Gallery and Julia Bettencourt.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

This Multi-Published Author Has a LOT Going On.

With a busy woman like this, you might wonder what this talented person does in her free time. Or maybe you might ask if she has free time at all.

Michelle Sutton is the author of over a dozen novels, a member of ACFW, a book reviewer, an avid blogger, the mother of two young college students, a wife of over two decades, and a follower of Jesus Christ.

SDC: We welcome you Michelle. Please take a moment to tell us about your book(s). I read one you wrote a couple of years ago, but have since fallen behind. I for one am really interested.

MS: Let's see. I have a bunch of books. I have two romantic suspense novels (they are in a series) and the titles are Danger at the Door and In Plain Sight. They are e-books with Desert Breeze. I also have a contemporary romance series set in Tombstone that features the actors who dress up on their free time and participate in local events. These three titles are First Impressions and First Love (I'm writing First Response right now.) Those are my five e-books. I currently have three paperbacks. The first is It's Not About Me (I believe that is the book you read), and It's Not About Him. These are Young Adult books and are available right now in the 75 author Online Christian Book signing bash (You can find the event online at Last, my other paperback that is also available as an e-book, is Never Without Hope. It's my Women's Fiction title. The next book in the series I am writing right now. It's called Their Separate Ways and it releases in July 2011. I also have the first book in the Healing Hearts series titled Letting Go, and that will be releasing as an e-book in February and in paperback format in August 2011. I have recently contract for a stand alone romantic suspense title through Desert Breeze called In Sheep's Clothing. That book will release in Sept 2011. As you can see, I've got a lot going on.

SKC: You sure do. I understand Edgy is the name of your game in some cases. It's an area of fiction I appreciate because it makes the ministering stories so true to life in many cases. What made you decide to write in your particular genre?

MS: Actually, I never planned to write edgy fiction. I kept having people tell me that's what my writing was. So the label stuck and I started an Edgy Christian Fiction Lovers ning site for people who enjoy that type of Christian fiction. But right now I am trying to steer away from that label a bit because I don't want to be known so much by the fact that my writing pushes boundaries. My new brand is Healing Hearts after my new series that begins with Letting Go. Since all of my books deal with healing hearts, it makes sense to focus on the ministry and the takeaway value of my novels and less on the fact that they may be a bit edgy. I want people to focus on the healing aspect of my books, so if you can help spread the word, that's great. You can see my new logo on my website,  and on my blog(s)

SDC: Tell us about some of your experiences with readers who’ve read your work and have been affected in some way. Do you get many letters?

MS: I get random e-mails all the time. In fact, I've gotten them on just about every book so far. It's always a nice surprise to find out that your novels have made a difference in someone's life. I probably get the most feedback right now from people regarding Never Without Hope. I couldn't tell you the number of heartfelt e-mails and letters I've gotten from women who felt like this book really touched them deeply. Some people told me in person with tears in their eyes that my book really blessed them.

SDC: Even the cover to your book Never Without Hope is enough to draw a reader's attention. After a long day of writing or doing revisions in a story what is the very first thing you do?

MS: Grab a book to read. I know, I'm such a fiction addict.

SDC: I love to read too, mostly late at night. How long have you been writing, Michelle?

MS: I started in August 2003 and haven't quit.

SDC: What do you say to encourage other authors who get rejection slips due to the style of their writing, and how have you reacted in the past when, and if you have received one?

MS: I've received so many but since I always submit through my agent, she is the only one who really knows the number. I'm guessing it's close to a hundred.

SDC: How did your present publisher find you?

MS: I have several publishers. They found me through submissions and queries.

SDC: What excites you most about your writing experience, Michelle?

MS: I love having characters surprise me with what they do and say. I also love it when I feel God is behind the story and He is nudging me in the direction He wants the story to go. It's always the most painful road, but ultimately the most blessed path the characters can take. But that's just like God.

SDC: What other books are your reading right now?

MS: It changes daily. I've read 108 or so books so far in 2010.

SDC: Wow! That's a lot. Remind us again of what you have in the works for later next year so we won't forget.

MS: I have four books releasing (so far) in 2011 and more in 2012 and 2013. I hope to keep my readers happy by supplying them with plenty of options.

SDC: I hear you have a book to offer our readers. What question can you ask that might prepare them for your type of writing, Michelle?

MS: I'd like to one more giveaway since there are a lot of people who wanted to win this book but didn't get the chance. This will be my final giveaway for the year. I'll be giving away Never Without Hope, which is my "adultery" story. I want readers to know that it's not for people who want an easy read. This story is full emotion, but I write what I like to read. And the affair isn't off camera. I wanted readers to really get into Hope's head, and that means going through the affair with her…from the exciting and addicting beginning, to the ugly and remorse-filled end. The reader will experience all of that. So if that's not something you want to experience, (it's also in first person POV,) then you don't want to enter the contest for a chance to win this book.

SDC: Thanks for pointing that out, Michelle. But it sounds like an enlightening book to me. I just might try for it myself! Thank you so much for coming by! I look forward to reading more of your work.

Readers. You noted above Michelle's giveaway option. The question for you to reply to is this. How do you think an edgy story that goes in depth about a person's personal life can minister to both a believer AND nonbeliever?

Congratulations to Sheila Deeth of Beaverton, Oregon. What a great Christmas gift. You'll be hearing from Michelle Sutton soon.  And have a wonderful time celebrating the birth of our wonderful Lord.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

There's Always Something About Mary ... Isn't There?

I'm continually amazed at what I learn about other authors out and about these days. This week I'm anxious to tell you about MARY.
Mary, you say? Which Mary?
Well, anyone called Mary usually has something great to tell, don't you think? Let's see what we'll learn from Mary Manners, this grand lady who hails from the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains of East Tennessee with her husband, Tim, and their daughter, Danni, as well as dogs Abby and Molly and cats Lucky and Gus. Mary is an award-winning, multi-published author of inspirational romance. You can visit her at  

SKC: Welcome to you Mary. I love that porch where you are standing! Tell us what book or project would you like to speak about this week?

MM: I’d like to tell everyone about my contemporary inspirational romance, Mended Heart

SKC: That's a great title. What inspired you to come up with writing in your genre?

MM: I like to share God’s many blessings with my readers, and give a message of hope and happiness.

SKC: And how important it is for us to hear and read those things in this day! How long had you been writing before you got your call (or email) from an editor?

MM: I have been writing since birth!! No, really…I completed my first full-length story in the sixth grade, but had been seriously pursuing a writing career for about three years when I got the email from Nicola Martinez at White Rose Publishing.

SKC: And what a joy it must be for you to be at White Rose. There are great people over there. What advice do you have for other new authors coming into the field of writing, Mary?

MM: Write, write, write! The more you write, the better you become. Also, submit your work to contests and take the judges’ feedback to heart. You can learn a lot from another reader’s ‘fresh’ eyes.

SKC: I've not been one to enter contests. Maybe I'll change that this coming year. How do you overcome writer’s block, or do you ever get that?

MM: I mow.


MM: Seriously…I live on two acres and when a block hits, I go out and push mow. It’s like taking a sledgehammer to a dam. During cooler months, I light some scented candles and just sit in front of the keyboard until the words come. I do not pass go…you know the saying.

SKC: I've NEVER heard that one before. What a great way to think! Hmmm. Mow. Okay, what do you think it takes to write a good book?

MM: A great imagination, outstanding imagery, and a desire to share what’s in your heart. I also think life experiences bring a certain authenticity to a person’s writing. The older you get and the more you experience, the better you can relate to what a character feels in any given situation.

SKC: Thank you for the wonderful insight, Mary. What is your process of writing a novel, briefly—from conception to revision?

MM: I begin with a phrase, idea or situation and build on it brick by brick, like building a house. I begin by writing in a steno pad—character names, quirks, fears, likes, etc. Then I weave the first few chapters before transferring over to my laptop. I don’t typically use an outline, but have a good idea of where I’m going. Sometimes I’m surprised, though, which is always good.

SKC: We hope to share one of your books with one of our readers this week. Are you ready? Think of something you might ask a fan that would spark your interest in subject matter for your next project. What would that question be?

MM: (Here it is) Have you ever said something in the heat of the moment that you wished you could take back, because it changed the course of a relationship forever? If so, what was it, and how would you handle the situation differently if you were given a second chance?

SKC: Now, that's quite a question for reflection! See that, readers? We thank you for participating, Mary! Before you leave, tell us where the readers can find you and your work.

MM: Readers can find MENDED HEART at  and at  or order autographed copies by visiting my website at 

SKC: Great. And I know someone will be looking forward to winning a copy. Thanks again.  Readers and viewers: Check out Mary's question for you above and send us your comments. Don't forget to include your email address for me. Names are drawn at random at the end. God bless you all.

Congratulations to Pegg Thomas of Ossineke, MI. You JUST won a copy of Mended Heart. Be watching for it soon. A great Christmas gift, yes? Blessings for a wonderful Christmas and New Year to you.