Monday, September 29, 2008

A VERY Interesting Story! Come visit with Dee Owen

Hi Dee. Please tell us about the author of your newest book.

My mum's name was:
Marjorie Grace Patricia Bridget Owen born on September 11th 1911 in England and endured the bombardment of World War II. As far as we know, she was born out-of-wedlock with an Irish Lord for a father and a Russian princess as her mother.

Although her life before working is somewhat sketchy, her career, as a major London department store clothing buyer, was long and interesting. Members of the Royal family were amongst some of her more famous clients.

Marjorie found time to write many short stories and four novels ranging from romance to mystery. She did not attempt to publish any of her writings.

We can only surmise that she wrote for the joy and did not wish to seek any recognition or fame.

Marjorie passed away on March 28th 2004, after a very full life, at the age of ninety-three.

Mum had told my husband, Mike that she had written a couple of stories and let him read them some years ago. She expressed no interest in having them published at that time.

He was never aware of the amount that she had written until she passed away. Mike, being an only child and having no Aunts or Uncles, is the sole heir to Marjorie’s estate. He discovered the box full of Mum’s writings on clearing her flat in England and took them back to the USA.

As an avid reader, I, Dee (her daughter-in-law) became fascinated with Mum’s stories and books. All her writings were hand written on legal size paper or note books and on both sides of the paper.

I began reading some of the short stories (there are fifty plus). After reading a few, I was hooked and decided to attempt the monumental task of transcribing them to computer.

Mum’s writing was not the easiest to read, however, I set myself the challenge and was going to follow through. At first, Mike assisted with the ‘translation’ of Mum’s hand writing. At times we became frustrated with each other and Mum.

After a couple of stories, I became an expert, reading Mum’s writing and even improving my own typing skills and speed. As yet, I have not completed the task, with a few more stories to go and two novels, after three years of work. I decided to see if my opinion about Mum’s writing skills were correct and began submitting several of the short stories for publishing.

Several of Mum’s stories were accepted for publishing by online magazines and were published without pay. But exposure is important. A small success spurred me to try for bigger things.

The first book of Mum’s was published on March 15th 2008. “Ladies of Class” by Vintage Romance Publishing. Both Mike and I are really happy and hope that the book will be a success and lead to further books and stories being published.

Our blog for Mum’s writings is The website is

SDC: How interesting, Dee! Tell us now about your book. I haven’t read it yet.

DO: In the book Ladies of Class, Richard Hayward’s promotion and move from the big city life to the sleepy town of Burshill, England, has been shattered. Sir John Bury needs a murder solved. Clues take him from Burshill to California, Paris and London and back in time. As the story progresses the plot thickens. Richard Hayward's reputation as the youngest officer to be promoted to Detective Chief Inspector precedes him. Richard hoped his recent transfer and move to Burshill would allow him a quiet convalescence from a broken leg. But his peace was soon to be disturbed by a phone call from Sir John Bury, the Chief Constable.

A murder had been committed that night and Richard's ability to solve crimes, in spite of his unconventional methods, were needed before his duties officially began.

The results of his investigations and travels, in search of clues and answers to the apparently senseless murders are surprising. Several ladies of a particular ‘class’ become part of the inquiry. As the facts begin to unfold, they not only amaze Richard, himself and the community of Burshill, but extends all the way to the top brass of Scotland Yard. In the face of adversity, Richard manages to outwit the criminal and emerges triumphant

SDC: You have a pen name. Tell us how you selected Marjorie.

DO: Well, (as you saw by the bio) I didn’t write the book! It was written by my husband’s mother, Marjorie, who passed away at the age of 93

SKC: Why mystery?

DO: Mum was an avid reader and liked murder mystery stories.

SDC: After a long day of writing or doing revisions in a story what is the very first thing you do?

DO: Well, I did several rounds of edits on Mum’s book, with much advice from our publisher. The first thing I would do, is jump in the pool and swim a few laps!

SDC: How long have you been writing, Dee?

DO: We’re really not sure how long Mum wrote for. When she passed on, we found the four novels and fifty plus short stories she’d written. Reading them, leads me to believe that she started writing in the late ‘40’s early 50’s.

SDC: How do you encourage other authors who get rejection slips?

DO: Keep on trying! With Mum’s work, I started with submitting her short stories to online magazines for free. Then someone suggested I should try to get one of her books published. I did and had quite a few rejections, but kept persisting and now its published!

SDC: Do you think you will move from a small press publisher to the larger ones, and what made you decide to choose Vintage?

DO: Vintage Romance were looking for books with historical content. Ladies of Class goes back in time to pre – World War 11, so I think that was one of the reasons I tried them. If LOC sells well, Mum wrote a sequel and I would like for VR to publish it. I think the larger publisher’s are a bit too competitive for me! If things went well with two books…who knows. I may have to hire a ghost writer!

SDC: What advice do you have for other aspiring authors coming into the field of writing?

DO: Trust yourself. Have confidence in your writing. Write from the heart.

SDC: What excites you most about your writing experience?

DO: The thing that has and still excites me about the process of having Mum’s works published is, just that, seeing her name recognized, seeing and touching the first book in print, the whole experience and ongoing!

SDC: What other books are your reading right now?

DO: At the moment I reading for my Certificate of education units to maintain my Educational Therapist status. Neurophsyiologic basis of language and other research.

SDC: Have you begun anything new since the project you just finished?

DO: No. Just waiting to see how LOC sells before attacking the sequel!

Thank you so much for joining us, Dee! This was a very interesting interview!

For anyone interested in winning a copy of Dee's book, please drop us a comment here! We would love to hear from you and will be selecting our winner in a couple of weeks.

People can purchase a copy of Dee's book by clicking on and/or going to Dee Owen's website, which is listed under authors.


Friday, September 26, 2008

I See God in the Simple Things (Coming in January!)

I thought you might be interested in what's coming out this January! For the next few months I will share a little reflection you might find in my new devotional I See God in the Simple Things!

I hope you will enjoy. Please feel free to comment.

Strawberries in the Stew Pot

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to His purpose.
Romans 8:28

Trials and those unadorned and dreadful-appearing days often get me down, and sometimes, I am unable to pull myself back up.
My yellow-feathered young rooster, Blondie, went through his own kind of trial and dread when my four ornery New Hampshire Red cockerels, my barnyard bullies, severely attacked him one day. (I dubbed them my wild Strawberries back when they were feisty chicks.)
Not only did they squish Blondie into the fence, leaving feathers flying and blood sprouting from his tender wattles, they also plucked at his eyes with their beaks and stretched his neck until it looked as if it was about to twist right off.
Poor baby! My Blondie boy, out there having himself a Blondie day.
I remember running to my rooster’s rescue, scooping him up, and holding him tightly to my chest, as I rearranged his feathers and reassured him as best I could. I was there to protect him, I thought, so I whispered softly, “Blondie, you’ll be all right. I’m here now.”
Do you ever have Blondie kinds of days when you feel as if you are being spiritually or physically squished, maybe plucked and stretched beyond measure?
The Lord never fails to come running, to offer His reassurance and to turn those unpleasant circumstances into good ones. He has a way of showing us how we can survive even the most difficult trial.

One big squish for me was my discovery of breast cancer, which naturally followed with surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. I thought that horrendous trial would never end, but I got through it.
Another continual plucking, which has grated on my nerves since I was aged sixteen, would have to be my chronic seizure disorder, and the medication upon which I must totally depend. After all these years, I still find myself wondering if I will ever come to accept that plaguing thorn in my side.
Paul’s words from the thirty-seventh verse of chapter eight in his letter to the Romans deal with that for me.

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to His purpose.
What shall we then say to these things?
If God be for us, who can be against us?
Romans 8:28, 31

The Lord Jesus Christ knows what I go through. He knows what you are going through right now, too. He and the Father talk about our circumstances all the time, making plans on how they can make our crises into blessings worth remembering.
I believe God holds us extra tightly during those times when we feel bullied the most, regardless of whether it is a spiritual matter, a physical limitation, or even an emotional distress.
The promise Paul wrote in the thirty-seventh verse of that same chapter I keep posted in almost every room of my house just to help me remember.

…in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.
Romans 8:37

By the way, I should tell you. Those four wild Strawberries of mine, in due time, lost their bully status when they became the tender dark and white meat in my dumpling pot, and Blondie, after that, happily became chief fowl ruler of the entire chicken yard.
Remember this. With the help of God, those unfortunate Blondie days and the wild Strawberry experiences that come against all of us will one day end up in the proverbial strawberry fields forever. I hope you believe that too.

I know you can think of a time or two when the Lord has done just that for you. He has such a wonderful way of coming through.

Come Meet Vickie McDonough With Me!

SDC.Welcome to A Pen for Your Thoughts, Vickie! Tell us a little about yourself first.

VM. I’m an Oklahoma native, a wife of 32 years, and mother to 4 boys. I have a sweet daughter-in-law and an energetic two-year-old granddaughter. I’ve been writing for seven and a half years now.

SDC. Does where you come from or where you live now work into any of your writings?

VM. Definitely. Having grown up in Oklahoma, I’m familiar with the state’s unique history. I have a whole series set in the years just before statehood called Oklahoma Brides. This book is a re-release of three Heartsong novels compiled into one book. It’s about brave women and tough men who carve out a life when times were difficult.

SDC. Who are your favorite characters in the book that are coming out now and why?

VM. Mariah Lansing aka Drew Dixon from Wild At Heart is a woman who writes dime novels. She’s spunky but a bit na├»ve. When a rancher challenges her to get her facts straight about the West, she accepts his offer to visit his ranch in North Dakota. But he’s expecting a man, not a woman who draws trouble like flies on a horse.

SDC. I love your original titles. They in themselves draw my interest to read your books. How do you come up with them, or are they chosen for you?

VM. I’m fortunate to work with a publisher that usually lets me keep the titles I’ve selected. My titles generally evolve from a line in the story or something that encompasses the overall idea of the book. With The Bounty Hunter and the Bride, I got the title idea first and wrote a story to go with it.

SDC. What made you decide to write in your genre and what advantage do you see in the reading audience you have? How do you respond to them when they write to you?

VM. I chose to write Christian romances because that’s what I read. I especially love historicals with cowboys and horses. I grew up watching all those cowboy shows of the late sixties, and my heroes have always been cowboys and lawmen. So it was just natural for me to write about them when I started out. Although I’ve now written a couple of contemporaries, my favorite genre is still historical romance.

I love it when readers write to me. I haven’t gotten all that many letters, but I try to respond to each one I do get.

SDC. What pleases you the most about your writing experience?

VM. It’s hard to narrow down. I’ve been in awe of how God has directed my career and the doors He’s opened for me. I never saw that coming, but am very grateful. The thing I think that has pleased me the most is all the wonderful friends I’ve made along the way. My writing buddies are some of my closest friends now. Another perk is that I’ve gotten to travel to writers conferences all over the U.S.

SDC. This is one of my favorite questions to receive from those who interview me, and to give to others. If you were to turn your newest story into a film, who would you want to be the heroine and hero?

VM. In Wild At Heart, the hero, Adam McFarland, is a rancher who loves to draw. Because of something that happened, he gave up his drawing but he sorely misses it. He’s a bit moody because of it. I’d like Christian Bale to play him in a movie. For the spunky heroine, Reese Witherspoon would be perfect.

SDC. Sounds fun! What other genres or subgenres might you tackle if any?

VM: I have a novella set in Ireland, and two contemporaries. I also have a story, Spinning Out of Control, which is set in Virginia in 1804, but for the most part, my books are set in the late 1800s.

SDC. What kinds of books do you like to read besides these?

VM. I like to read just about any historical setting except for Regencies. I enjoy suspense, but not mysteries as much. It doesn’t matter really. If it’s a good Christian fiction book with a sweet romance and a faith message, I’ll like it.

And finally from Shirley: THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US, VICKIE. I understand you want to give out a book to one of our fortunate readers who writes in. Which one will you offer? And where can people come visit you and find out how to get your present books as well as your upcoming releases?

VM. I’m delighted to give one of your readers a copy of one of my books. How about letting it be their choice of any book on my website, as long as I still have copies of it?

SDC: Sounds great to me!

VM. Guests are welcome to visit my website: to find out more about my books.

You can order most of my books from or or they can get autographed copies by emailing me at

Thanks so much for allowing me to be a guest on your blog.

From Shirley: Guests! Please drop a comment to Vickie! I know she will love to hear from you here at A Pen for Your Thoughts!

Monday, September 1, 2008

New Winner selected! Try again for October!

Congratulations to our two OCTOBER Flame from Within signed copy contest winners! Hope you enjoy the book, Cheryl Shryack of Yakima, Washington!

October signed book contest has now begun! Drop me a comment or email me at with your name and email and the state you live in for an opportunity to now win my Signed Book! Also included will be a bookmark and a magnet. For the month of October I will be giving out two books!

Thanks and blessings to you, Shirley
To order your own copy, please click picture below.

A Visit with Teryl! Come and say hello!

Welcome Teryl:

Teryl: Thanks for having me—it’s an honor!

SDC: Tell us about yourself!

Teryl: I was born in Texas, raised in PA and remain a Gemini in personality too. I am fortunate to have published an inspirational Regency romance (A Sensible Match), a play (Good Friday Grace) and curriculum (lots of stuff at Group Publishing). My day job is as Director of Adult Ministries at my church, but my most important 24/7 “work” is as Mom. I have a degree in Elementary Education, but have focused on inspirational writing in all genres at this point of my life.

SKC: Before you tell us about your writing, we’d like to know what you do when you aren’t sitting at your computer! In other words, what are your hobbies, loves, things like that?

TC: I love to read of course. But I am also a big fan of creative problem solving (reading about/creating inventions or ideas). I sometimes work on origami, curriculum and plays. I have also been trying to learn more about moviemaking, music and art to enhance the “write” side of life. I like to teach, horseback ride and make fun of reality tv in my spare time.

SKC: Now, Teryl, will you tell us about the book you have out or the newest project you are working on now?

TC: A Sensible Match, my first novel, is based on the idea of whether a part time Good Samaritan can pick and choose whom to love as well as whom to show charity. I’ve been out doing the book talks and signings and enjoying the status of “real” writer from this blessing.

I recently finished the sequel/companion to A Sensible Match. This book follows Abby’s sister to Bath and describes her (literal) pursuit of romance. Courting Constance asks if you can “make” someone love you and the results of the answer to that question. It has been a blast to write because Constance is so funny. For example, her attempt to serenade her chosen conquest with a flutist fails with the mistaken hiring of a bagpiper. It was a joy to make all her attempts to impress backfire, because I actually did use some of the “wooing” ideas on my poor spouse and was fortunate that they worked!

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

TC: I think God inspires everyone with ideas; we just have to be intentionally looking for and using them. I’ve been writing or telling stories since I was at least in first grade that I can remember. I keep going by getting excited to see where the story takes me because I am as much a reader of my own stories sometimes as those that might read it later.

SKC: How do you come up with some of your dialogue in your book, Teryl, to keep it realistic with each character?

TC: I daydream it as if it’s a play happening in front of me. I also use some techniques from playwriting such as “plants” (foreshadowing) or surprise twists (have the dialogue not follow the expected route). I often give each character a catch phrase to help keep them separate as individuals too.

SKC: What are some favorite writing helps books you’ve used, to help you in your craft?

TC: I am not traditional—I love the creativity books to help me write such as Caffeine for the Mind, IdeaSpotting and A Whack on the Side of the Head. If I use writing books at all, I try to focus on unusual ones to get unique ideas such as Save the Cat! (Screenwriting), Word Magic, Secrets of Comedy Writing and that neat writing book by Patrick McManus (Deer on a Bicycle).

SKC: How do you settle in on creating your settings? Your backgrounds? Creating your color schemes?

TC: I try to choose an interesting place that hasn’t been done to death but has some meaning to me—whether in its beauty, in the story structure/theme or even in my own background. Settings are something I am still working on, because I usually “hear” my stories instead of envision them. Some writers can see the story as they write, but my characters talk to me so I feel a stronger connection to the dialogue and getting the voices right. I guess my “radio writing” is due to starting in plays first, but historical fiction demands that setting is just as much a character as any other in the story.

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

TC: In A Sensible Match I used symbolism—Abby doesn’t want to be a preacher’s wife (hence the humor in her name) and Edwin is her dueling counterpart (and foreshadows with his name). Some of the people have last names of actual places in the Cotswolds as a tribute to the place while some of my favorite authors’ names are snuck in with some inside jokes due to the characters they play. In some other books I’ve used baby name books to get the right “meaning” to a name or I’ve used street and place names as a personal tribute, but I have to admit some names just come to me.

SKC: Sometimes writers have a difficult time with their sagging middles. Do you have any point in your novel when you come to a stand still? If so, what do you do to boost yourself? To get going again? To get out of that lull that sometimes comes?

TC: Every once in a while I “paint myself” into a corner by not always following the outline or by letting my characters take over and run wild. Then I may ask my kids for help (creative outsourcing of ideas) or skip over the writer’s block to write a scene I’ve been waiting to do and then come back to the problem (which is then easier to chip away at from the backside). Usually these ways help or brainstorming it out will do the trick. (Oh, and if the kids do come up with the “best” idea —the one I actually use—they do get a royalty payment!)

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

TC: There’s never enough time to promote your book or thank the readers who do it for you and second, all writing skills are needed to be successful, not just the ability to tell a good story.

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

TC: The beginning of a story is harder. I love good endings so often I have the title and direction of a book first; it’s just hard for me to pick the best place to start the adventure. You set the tone or hook with the start, so it really matters where the characters are and what they do first.

SDC: What were some of your favorite books as a child? And did they have any effects on how you write today?

TC: I loved everything—folktales, horse stories (Walter Farley), mysteries (Encyclopedia Brown) and humor (O. Henry, Twain). These influenced my books today by helping me know the heart of the story—the characters. In my teens I read Georgette Heyer and Louis L’amour which taught me a great deal about dialogue, research and how to fall in love with a specific time and place.

SDC: You and I write for the ABA, which has given us the opportunity to reach out to a different audience many times. Is there a reason you chose this market, specifically, and will you spread your wings further in the future or do you plan to stay over here?

TC: ABA--(American Booksellers Association). I intend to be a “Roaring Lamb”, writing inspirational things that can also be marketed successfully in the secular sector—so I hope to write for many audiences. My goal is to write several different types of stories so that I stay out of a rut, develop name recognition and can market to various readership niches.

SDC: What is next on the horizon for you in your writing?

TC: I have a western still out under consideration and Courting Constance under consideration as well. This fall I will work on a sci-fi book that is “historical” and I hope to get another play in to Contemporary Drama Service. I’d love to work on a book with my daughter after these are completed and I have to go over my son’s screenplay when he’s done too.

You may contact Teryl directly at

To win a signed copy of Teryl's debut novel, leave your comment with an email address. We will contact the winner in a couple of weeks!

A Visit with S. Dionne Moore

Join me as we come together with Sandra Moore, debut author, who will be sharing with us and has asked her heroine to join in on the conversation as well! Also, leave your comment for a chance to win a free signed book!

S. Dionne Moore is a bunion-free supermom who resides in PA with her husband and daughter. They are all busy guarding their socks as watching where they step as they welcome the addition of a tiny, very unhousebroken, sock-loving Maltipoo named Rebel. She writes between running to the door and saying, with a fervent prayer in her heart, “Want to go outside? Let’s go outside.”

SDC: So you are a debut author, Sandra! Congratulations! Tell us how you got where you are today, the title of your novel, its publisher, and its release date.

SM: Well I got where I am at present because I spent last Monday packing everything up in suitcases and toting things to the car—yeah, we just moved. Again. We’re finishing our forever home and hope to make the final move by October 1, 2008. What a day that will be!

Until then, why don’t I tell you what you really want to know? J My very first book, a cozy mystery by Barbour Publishing, entitled Murder on the Ol’ Bunions, released in April 2008 and will release to retail stores this fall.

SDC: What is your book about and how did you come up with the idea for it?

SM: Oh dear. The doorbell is ringing. Hold on a bit.

What a treat! LaTisha just arrived and is practically pushing me out of the way so she can answer these questions.

LaTisha: Murder on the Ol’ Bunions is about me trying to figure out who killed my ex-boss, Marion Peters. About walked myself silly talking to people because the list of suspects wasn’t short, I can tell you that. Lot’s of people in Marion’s little black book. And the part about coming up with the idea? They say write what you know, so I got my friend here, S. Dionne Moore, to sit herself down long enough and peck away on the keyboard as I told my story.

SDC: Which character in your novel was the most difficult to flesh out and why?

LaTisha: I talked to S. Dionne so much about Maple Gap that she knew us all real good before even starting the story. When she got stuck trying to get a character right, we talked about it until it came out the way I wanted it to sound.

SDC: How do you plan to build and grow your audience and fans?

LaTisha: Feed ‘em and they’ll grow. Trust me on that.

SM: I think she means the book, LaTisha. How will we market the book?

LaTisha: We? Honey, I leave all that stuff to you. I’ve got grandbabies to visit and love on.

SM: LaTisha has agreed to make guest appearances on blogs and, uh, interviews, so I’m hoping people will love getting to know her better that way. I’ve done several interviews and have plans to do a tour with the Christian Blog Alliance in September, as well as an interview with Anne McDonald and guest blog on Novel Journey. I’ll also do some booksignings this fall.

SDC: If you were to take your heroine to church with you how would she be received the way she’s portrayed in the beginning of your story?

SM: LaTisha went to make herself a mocha. I always have her favorite mix on hand. J LaTisha’s got a little problem with pride-

LaTisha: I saw what you just typed!

SM: But her biggest struggle in the story is dealing with Empty Nest Syndrome. After seven children, the last one off to college a couple of months before Marion is murdered, LaTisha is planning a huge Easter dinner, but her children start canceling on her, which deepens her frustration and melancholy. Of course she does come to grips with it, filling the void with her schooling and solving her first murder. So I think her inner struggles are normal and natural. She exudes a warmth that draw people to her and help them overlook her, uh, eccentricities.

SDC: Would most women be drawn to your hero immediately or is it possible they would be irritated by him and why?

LaTisha: What kind of question is that? Honey, Hardy’s all mine. He’s my milk chocolate baby and you better be remembering that.

SM: Hardy is the most easy-going, gentle-spirited man you’ll ever meet.
LaTisha: *Hmph*

SM: I’ve had several readers say how much they love him. LaTisha and Hardy balance each other, and they’re the best example of how a mature married couple interacts that I can think of.

SDC: What is the first thing you think about when you rise in the morning?

LaTisha: What I’m going to cook that’ll get Hardy’s old bones up off that bed.

SDC: After you get this debut novel off the ground, where do you go next?

SM: Polly Dent Loses Grip is the title for LaTisha’s second book, which we’re editing now.

SDC: Every writer struggles about something. What do you struggle with in your writing?

SM: *eyeing LaTisha* Characters who want to take over the story?

LaTisha: I think you’re biggest struggle is dangling modifiers and how you use prepositions to end sentences with. Then there’s those times I’ve had to explain the terminology used in my police science courses.

SDC: Where can readers find out about you or your writing online? Please include the link for purchasing your book!

SM: My Website is You can purchase my book through my Website under BOOKS. There’s a link that will take you to the order page to join the Heartsong Presents: Mysteries! club and a phone number if you want to order a single title.

I also run frequent contests. Currently the contest is answering the questions: “What’s that draped on the arm of the chair on the cover of Murder on the Ol’ Bunions?”

I’m also a columnist for Novel Journey, posting a new author interview every Tuesday.

Thank you so much Sandra, for sharing a little something about yourself at A Pen for Your Thoughts.

Sandra is offering a signed book to the fortunate winner. Send in your comments and an email address where we can contact you. We will let you know in a couple of weeks!