Saturday, May 26, 2012

When You Write About the Human Condition, You Cannot Fail

So thrilled to welcome author and editor, Gail Delaney here to share with you a little about her life and her newest book.

Gail R. Delaney has been actively writing 'for publication' since 1996. The first novel she ever wrote is still sitting on her computer, waiting for the major rewrite that will make it acceptable. She says she has learned a great deal since writing that book, and it shows when she looks back at that rough draft.

Gail has had several novels published in the genres of contemporary romance, romantic suspense and futuristic romance. Her novels have received several nominations and awards since she was first published in 2005.

Gail and her family recently moved from the cold and blustry east coast to Southern California, and is loving every moment of sunshine she can soak in -- without risking a sun burn.

SDC: Thanks so much for joining us here at A Pen for Your Thoughts. How would you describe your author vision and how does it come through in your voice when writing?

Gail: My goal with each book I write is to create characters that make the reader feel. Sometimes that means I make you happy, sometimes sad, sometimes angry... but the important thing is to express the truest emotions of the human condition.

I have been told many, many times by readers that they felt every heartbreak, every moment of joy, every emotion because I write such character-driven books. So, I guess that would be the way my voice carries through.

SDC:  You are both an editor and an author. Doing both must keep you extremely busy. How do you coordinate both writing and editing and working on the side, and still come through with time on your hands, and to still be who you are?

Gail: Well, I never have 'time on my hands'. LOL  Just the next project. I have to categorize my hours and days. Sometimes I have no control over what I do when ( I have a Monday through Friday 7 to 4 day job), but I edit on my lunch hour. I know my evenings are for updates, reviewing files, emails, etc. Weekends are for website updates, correspondence, etc. Certain things are done on certain days. And if there are not glitches or bumps, I try to keep Sunday afternoon for my own writing.

SDC: Do you ever thread faith, love, and hope along with the reality of life work together in your stories? If not that, what inspires you as a writer?

Gail: Oh, I definitely would say I do, now more than ever. Hope is a big element of the Phoenix series. Without hope, we would have given up. But, they are all real people. People who get colds, or want more time with the ones they love, or get frustrated with their work. And I've woven more elements of faith into my books in the last few years simply because as a woman of faith, I tend to write characters with the same thoughts.

SDC: How long did you have to wait before getting published the first time?

Gail: I started writing my first book in January of 1996. I didn't get published -- and it was my second book -- until 2005. So, it took me nearly ten years.

SDC:  What room in your home or special place do you like to be that often play a part in your story writing and, if so, how?

Gail: I have an office where I do my 'editor' work, so I don't tend to write there. It's my way of dividing the two. I have a comfy chaise lounge in my bedroom between my side of the bed and the window with a nice view of the television, and I can see right out my bedroom door to the stairwell. I always leave the door open so my children freely come and go if they want, and that is where I camp out when I write. Sometimes, if my husband isn't home, I sneak into his 'man cave' and sit in his recliner to write. J

SDC: How does your family correspond with your time to write and do research for writing?

Gail: I have to categorize quite a bit. This time is for this, this time is for this. But, if my family needs me then the schedule goes out the window. My children know they can come to me even if I'm at the computer, which is often. And we purposefully set aside time just for us. Whether it be church on Sunday, evening meals together, or Saturday running errands. It's together time.

SDC: As an editor, how do you deal with your slush piles, Gail? Also, what question would you like one of our viewers to answer to help me select the winner of your newest book coming out?

Gail: I suppose you mean how do I shift through the submissions? I'll put it this way... the further I get into your book before I stop, the better chance you have with me. If I'm on page ten and still reading, you've grabbed my attention.

My Phoenix series is set in the not-too-distance future on an Earth where First Contact has happened, and we are now faced with the reality we aren't alone in the universe.

Readers, tell me... do you believe in extra-terrestrial life? If not in full, do you think there might be the chance? No judgments, no need for debate... just let me know.

SDC: Now, that's an intriguing question. Thanks. Please include your URL and where people can find out more about you and your books.

My website is where you can read about all my books.

You can also 'like' me at, which is a Facebook page for all my writing. I also have a specific facebook page for the Phoenix books alone, at

I have a free prequel short story for the Phoenix series, and if anyone would like a copy, they can email me at and I'd be happy to send them one. Or, if you just would like to tell me something, ask me something, etc... email me as well.

To Our Visitors: Let's take one more look at Gail's interesting question.
Readers, tell me... do you believe in extra-terrestrial life? If not in full, do you think there might be the chance? No judgments, no need for debate... just let me know.

We look forward to your responses. I will be drawing the winner's name in a few days.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Remembering What's Important This Weekend

A Memorial Day Message for Us All

                                                                  By Anne Greene           

                As the wife of a Special Forces (Green Beret) Colonel, Memorial Day holds a special place in my heart. The holiday is a day to remember those who gave the last full measure of devotion in the service of our country. We honor the sacrifice of those men and women who died on the field of battle.
                We acknowledge the debt we owe to those men and women who, because they cherished freedom, chose to live as warriors. Our military provides a bastion against our enemies. The valor and courage of our uniformed forces, from Valley Forge to Afghanistan, guards America’s freedom.

           Why are they so willing to fight and die? Because at the heart of America is freedom. The price is high, but freedom is worth dying for. So we remember the past because the price of forgetfulness is loss of freedom. On Memorial Day we Americans reconnect with our history and values to honor those who gave their lives for the freedom we cherish.
                Since the first colonial soldiers took up arms in 1775 to fight for independence, more than a million American service members have died to preserve that freedom. Each person who died was a loved one cherished by family and friends. Each was a tragic loss.
                Observing this day was born in 1863. The Civil War raged. Grieving mothers, wives, daughters, and sisters were placing flowers on confederate soldiers’ graves in Columbus, Mississippi. They noticed the nearby union soldiers’ graves were overgrown with weeds. They cleared the tangled brush and weeds from those graves as well, and laid flowers on them. When the Civil War ended, Henry Welles of Waterloo, New York, closed his drugstore and suggested that all other shops close for a day to honor all soldiers killed in the Civil War. So, in a land ripped apart by conflict, healing and reconciliation began. In 1882, the nation observed its first official Memorial Day to honor the sacrifice of all Americans who died for freedom.
                For decades Memorial Day in America meant stores closed and people gathered for parades and speeches and remembering. Sadly, today many Americans have lost this connection with our history. Memorial Day has degenerated into meaning a three-day weekend or a major shopping day. People have forgotten what the military stands for in our Nation’s history.

                We owe a debt of gratitude to those who sacrificed their lives so we could live free. So let’s not forget. Let’s remember what those who paid the ultimate price did for us. Let’s remember what they stood for. Let’s remember those who died for our freedom.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Tessa and her Harvest of Rubies

Tessa Afshar was voted “New Author of the Year” by the Family Fiction sponsored Reader’s Choice Awards 2011 for her novel Pearl in the Sand. She was born in Iran to a nominally Muslim family, and lived there for the first fourteen years of her life. Tessa then moved to England where she survived boarding school for girls and fell in love with Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte’s writings, before settling in the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds an MDiv from Yale University where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship at the Divinity School. She has spent the last thirteen years in full-time Christian work.

SKC:    We welcome you, Tessa. What book or project would you like to tell us about today?

Tessa: My new release is a historical novel called Harvest of Rubies. The central character, Sarah, is the prophet Nehemiah's fictional cousin who can speak several languages, keep complex accounts, write on tablets of clay, and solve mysteries. As a result, the talented Sarah is catapulted into the center of the Persian court—working long hours, rubbing elbows with royalty, and becoming the queen's favorite scribe. Yet a devastating past has left Sarah with two conclusions: that God does not love her, and that her achievements are the measure of her worth—a measure she can never quite live up to.

And then she meets Darius Pasargadae, a man accustomed to having his way. A wealthy and admired aristocrat, the last thing he expects is a wife who scorns him. Throw two such different people together and the sparks fly as Sarah learns to overcome the idols that bind her. 
SKC:   That sounds like a very intereseting story! What inspired you to become a writer?

Tessa: I couldn’t have been a writer if I weren’t a voracious reader; books have always formed an important part of my life. Making up stories in my head is just the other side of the coin. I love coming up with new plots and characters that capture the truth of God and challenge the lies that we seem to believe about ourselves.

SKC:   What encourages you to continue writing?

Tessa: I believe God has called me to write. Even on days when the writing isn’t going smoothly, I hold on to that conviction. Another encouragement is hearing from my readers. Just this morning I read the following comment in a reader’s review:I feel like Pearl in the Sand has forever changed my outlook on life.” I am not likely to ever meet this person face-to-face. Yet somehow through a work of fiction, God touched her heart in a substantial way.

SKC:   What message are you trying to convey, if any?

Tessa: Most of us don’t know our true worth in Christ. The majority of my stories grapple with this reality. Can you really believe, in spite of your history—your successes and your failures—that you hold more value for God than all of creation? Can you believe that Jesus considers you His treasure, not because of your accomplishments, but simply because you are His?

SKC:   What is your Tessa secret to writing a good book?

Tessa: Wished I could figure that one out! Free chocolate with every book? I’m not sure one can come up with a clear-cut formula for writing a good book. I know what I like to read: characters that grip my heart and make me laugh and cry. Plotlines that are believable and engaging. Themes that challenge how I view myself and others.  Add to this a distinctive voice and a few fresh surprises and I am hooked.

SKC:   What plans do you have for 2013, Tessa?

Tessa: I am contracted with River North (the fiction arm of Moody Publishing) to write the sequel to Harvest of Rubies for release early next year. Generally, I live life the way I write—by the seat of my pants! So I don’t have too many plans set in stone for 2013.

SKC: We appreciate that you are offering a book to one of our readers. What would you like to ask one of our readers today?

Tessa: Other than the Trinity, if you could choose one biblical character as your roommate for one year, who would she be and why?

SKC: Oh, I love your question. I am really looking forward to reading what our viewers answer to that one. THANKS so much for being with us, Tessa. Tell us how we can find you and your books.

Tessa: Shirley, thank you so much for inviting me on your wonderful blog. It’s been an absolute pleasure. You can find my books or e-books available at all popular booksellers. If your guests would like to visit me on my website, the address is or visit me on my Facebook author page where there is always some new discussion going on: 

Check out Tessa's great question for you above.
We look forward to hearing what YOU have to say. 
Be sure to leave an email address s
o when I draw the winner's name, I can FIND you.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

THE Strong Willed, THE Witty, and THE Often Very Opinionated-- ISN'T THAT WHO YOU'D LIKE TO READ ABOUT?

The watcher, the listener, and the schemer. Now, those are interesting traits for one author who will entice you to read one of her books if you haven't yet.

Anne Patrick has authored more than a dozen novels of Romance, Mayhem & Faith, including the award-winning and best-selling Fire and Ash, A Familiar Evil and Kill Shot.  Her heroines are usually strong willed, witty, and often very opinionated…combinations that usually land them in situations where death seems imminent.  When Anne is not working on her next novel she enjoys spending time with family and friends or traveling to foreign countries to experience new adventures. 

SKC:   Welcome, Anne. What around your community inspires you into picking up your pen and begin writing?

AP: I'm a people watcher so you can often find me lurking in a corner of our local coffee shop or cafe watching, listening and scheming. I also like to hike or take long walks around the lake to clear my head.

SKC: What would you describe as the moral premise of each of your stories, or with each book, or does it differ?

AP: I've found that most of my inspirational threads runs along the line of forgiveness. Whether it be self forgiveness or having difficulty believing in God's grace. In my books Fire and Ash and Kill Shot, my heroines struggle with both.

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

AP: When I'm working on a story I often times become almost possessed. My characters are in my head night and day. I sleep very little, only eat when I absolutely have to, unplug the phone, don't answer the door.  And if I'm unable to write, like when I'm at my day job, I have a digital recorder I use. After four to six weeks when the first draft is done I become normal again. Well, almost normal.
SKC:   What  favorite writings do you use to help you in your craft?

AP: My absolute favorite is Stephen King's book 'On Writing.' I've read it several times. I've also gotten some very useful information from Karen Wiesner's 'From First Draft to Finished Novel' and Chris Roerden's 'Don't Murder Your Mystery.'

SKC:  What do you do when you are not writing?

AP: I like to spend time with family and friends. I also like to travel, and I'm highly addicted to role-playing video games like Tomb Raider and Final Fantasy.

SKC:   Why did you select your publisher, or did they select you?

AP: When I first got serious about submitting my work, I made myself a challenge. For every rejection I received, I would send out four more queries. I initially landed six publishers in one year and have since narrowed it down to three where I feel comfortable.

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

AP: Writing the best story you possibly can is number one on the list. Once it's published, send it out to be reviewed to as many places as you can. Then you must promote yourself at every possible avenue. This includes a website and blog, Facebook, Coffee Time Romance etc, Place cover ads at popular review sites if you can afford it. Most are usually pretty cheap. Swapping blog posts and interviews is free and beneficial too.

SKC:  What is next on the horizon for you, Anne?

AP: The second book in my Wounded Heroes Series titled Trespasses is now available through my publisher and at most online bookstores. In July, I have another release titled Fire Creek. Then in February, book three of my series comes out and it's called Betrayal.

SKC: This has been a delightful conversation.  Tell us what question you have for the readers, other authors, and aspiring authors. Something that will get us to thinking.
AP: What book have you read that you wish you had wrote? Or non authors, what book have you read that touched you the most? 

SKC: What book do you have to donate and where can we reach you? 

Readers: Let's hear what you have to say to Anne's question for you. I will draw a winner in a few days:

ANNE'S QUESTION AGAIN: What book have you read that you wish you had wrote? Or non authors, what book have you read that touched you the most? Let's hear your answers. I will draw a winner from your answers.