Tuesday, February 17, 2009


March is such a great month! Not only does St Patty come visiting, but also we get to see spring and baby birds (or at least nesting mamas), and buds begin popping forth from the tiny branches of fruit trees and flowers that are tired of resting all winter.

Unfortunately, some of those buds that spring forth a wee bit too soon get caught when a late frost comes, and just like that (whoof!) they are gone, and then you don't know what to expect for cobbler time if your fruit doesn't show up when it's supposed to.

Speaking of cobbler, I have to tell you, I love not only eating the stuff, I also love making it, and finding the oldest recipes I can, especially the peach kind.

But really, that doesn't have much to do with St Patty who will come stopping by around the 17th of the this month, and partly to wish my husband and me a Happy Anniversary. As you know my last name (by marriage) is Connolly, so now you can see why that day is extra special to this Irish and Scots-Irish household.

We are looking forward to a grand day to remember just a little bit more how special we are to each other. (This year will make ... well, lots of years of together!) I know for some of you that was probably even before you were twinkles in your mom's and dad's eyes! Oh well. I got married REAL REAL REAL young. Honest!

Anyway, I wanted to remind you of that St Patty contest I told you about before. If you would like to win a special St Patrick's day prize along with a copy of my newest devotional, I would love to have you write in and tell me what you like about this day or even this month.

I will draw names at the end of the month. And I look forward to selecting one of you as my winner.

Tell your other friends to come by too. And I'd love to have you sign up to follow my blog.
Congratulations to Dena Murny! You have won a devotional and a pair of IRISH SOX!

Please Join Me in Welcoming Michelle Sutton!

Welcome Michelle! We are all anxious to visit with you for a while. Please fill is in the details of the delightful Michelle Sutton.

I’m Editor-in-Chief of Christian Fiction Online Magazine. I also am a member of ACFW and the AZ group CWOW (Christian Writers of the West). I have also authored several books. The first title, “It’s Not About Me,” was released in Sept 2008. The sequel is coming out in Sept 2009 and is titled “It’s Not About Him.” I am currently working on several other titles, coauthoring with folks, and have a variety of projects being considered by different publishing houses. When I’m not doing all of the above, I’m signing on the worship team at church, working for my government job, or spending time with my family.

SKC: You sound as busy as a worker ant! Now, tell us about the project you are working on now.

MS. Several projects I can’t discuss yet for various reasons. I did start a new stand alone title that I plan to putz around with between my other projects. Meanwhile, the cover of It’s Not About Him should be coming out soon, then come the edits, then the final product. I’ve got plenty to do.

SKC: How right you are! What inspired you to write YA novels, and do you plan to venture out from that as well?

MS: Actually, my YA title started out as women’s fiction and just ended up being called YA despite the universal appeal to readers, mainly because of the subject matter. All of my other books not included in this series are women’s fiction or romance. So branching out in to other genres isn’t an issue. I’ve already been there.

SKC: I've read your work and know how greatly it can be received by both young and old! How disciplined are you each day with your writing, and when did you begin to take it seriously?

MS: I pretty much took it seriously from the get go when I started writing in August of 2003. My family thought it was just a hobby for a few years, though, until I kept attending writers conferences and I wrote about five books (I’m long past that now.)

SKC: I often wonder if many families are like that. Mine thought the same at first too, Michelle. What is your favorite room in the house and why?

MS: All rooms are fine with me. I tend to stay in the living room because that way I can interact with everyone when we are home. In fact, that’s where I’m at right now.

SKC: A lot of my readers ask this question so I thought I would bring it to you as well. How do you come up with the names of your heroes and heroines?

MS: Honestly? I just let the character tell me what their name should be. I’ve never gotten stuck on a name.

SKC: Interesting! Can you tell us what you think is one of the most important things you have learned so far since becoming a published writer?

MS: It takes forever to sell a book, even with an agent. They say the average author sells their fourth book. Well, my fourth book is the one that got me my agent, but the fifth book is the one that actually sold. So I tell people to keep writing and don’t stop. Don’t fixate on one book. That will hinder your publication journey. I kept writing until something sold.

SDC: I like finding out your thoughts on agents and publishing. I think many will gain a better understanding of the publishing field by reading what you have written here, Michelle. What do you think is the most difficult for you, the beginning, middle, or the end of the story and why?

MS: None. I don’t find any part of the process difficult. I’m serious. I’ve written over ten books and have yet to get stuck anywhere. It’s like my mind knows just what to do and where to go. It helps that I mull stories over in my mind long before I start writing them.

SDC: Wow! I'll bet a lot of other writers would like to have your brain, then! That's great! If you could meet any author in the world who would it be and what would you want to say to them? Have you thought about that?

MS: I’ve already met so many famous authors, my favorites being Francine Rivers and Liz Curtis Higgs. I suppose I’d love to meet Ted Dekker. I’ve seen some video interviews and I think he’d be cool to meet in person.

SDC: I have to read up on Tedd Dekker. I, unfortunately, don't know him.

Michelle, I understand you have a book to offer one of our visitors. Please fill us in and also let us know where people can find you, as well.

MS: Yes, I’d love to do a drawing. But make sure if you enter your name that you are okay with reading an edgy, fast paced novel. This is not a sweet romance. It’s real life stuff with drama and trauma, but also romance and faith.

To find out more you can visit my website at http://www.michellesutton.net/ or my blogspot blog at
http://edgyinspirationalauthor.blogspot.com/ or my ning site
http://edgychristianfictionlovers.ning.com/ or my online magazine
http://christianfictiononlinemagazine.com/ . Peace!

And now we want to congratulate Annette Taylor, of
Albion, IL! Woo Hoo! Annette! Your book will be on its way! Please come back again for another offer soon here at A Pen for Your Thoughts!

Monday, February 9, 2009


Are you the one who is going to win?

Hey! All you love bugs out there....

Want to win a five-book new and used special for the Valentine Day love fest?

For the name I draw at random, I am offering Jan Watson's WILLOSPRINGS, M.L. Tyndall's wonderful REDEMPTION, Michelle Sutton's IT'S NOT ABOUT ME, my own signed copy FLAME FROM WITHIN, and Deborah Hale's CARPETBAGGER'S WIFE.

This is a quicky contest. But I'm anxious to see which one of you gets to win!

Drop a comment and be sure to leave your name and email addie so I can write you if you are a winner.

And take the time to check out Cathy Gohlke's interview below as well. She is offering up a free copy of her new book as well!

Yay! We have a winner! Congratulations to Marta Hoelscher of Wapakoneta, OHIO! That's awesome, Marta! The books will be on there way in the days ahead!
Let us know when they arrive!

Thanks again to all who participated, and I do hope you had a lovely V DAY!



Friday, February 6, 2009

Meet with Cathy Gohlke!

Welcome Cathy. Please tell us about yourself. I’m doing a little drum roll for you here… 

My walk with the Lord began at 11, and that walk, by far, is the most important aspect of my life. I’m blessed to be married to Dan (over 26 years) and to be the mother of Elisabeth (24) and Daniel (22). Although our children have grown and flown, Dan and I still live in Elkton, MD. I’ve wanted to write since I was five years old and learned that real people create the magic between the covers of books. My first novel, “William Henry is a Fine Name,” was awarded the Christy and my second novel, “I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires (a Civil War stand alone sequel) was included in Library Journal’s list of “Best of 2008.” God is full of surprises!

SKC: Thank you! Now, what books or project are you working on now that you would like to tell my readers about? 

CG: My second novel, “I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires,” is a Civil War sequel to the Christy Award winning novel, “William Henry is a Fine Name.”

Eager to fight for God and the Union, Robert, who is now seventeen, promises to wait until he is eighteen to enlist, then think long and hard before he agrees to shoot one of his countrymen, or kin, between the eyes. It is a promise he sometimes regrets, but keeps true, until the day a letter comes from his cousin, Emily.

The bonds linking family and the lines separating enemies become blurred for Robert when the cousin he loves begs him to aid her father, a Confederate prisoner of war, then travel south to help her care for his estranged mother. Unwittingly entangled in a prison escape, left for dead and charged as a spy, Robert must forge his anger and shame into a renewed determination to rescue his family. When confronted by a war and an enemy he no longer understands, Robert finds that the rescue, and its results, may not be up to him.

Honor and duty to God and country aren’t as clear-cut as he’d first believed.

SKC: What inspired you to come up with your very first book? I am curious. 

 From the time I first learned about the Underground Railroad as a child I’ve been inspired by the courage and daring of those runners, conductors, and station-masters. I’ve long wondered if I would have had the courage to carry out my convictions to help and protect others despite the dangers—to risk everything for people I didn’t know. Writing this book helped me explore that. I also feel passionate about the importance of making choices (not being a victim) and living responsibly with the consequences of our choices. I’m enthralled with the idea of how one life, committed and focused, can make a tremendous difference in this world. Those were underlying themes in “William Henry is a Fine Name” and show up in many things I write.

SKC: How long had you been writing before you got your first contract?

I’ve been writing in one form or another for much of my life. Before I began my first novel my work (prose and poetry) appeared in newspapers and periodicals, plays and monologues produced on local stages, and in “Chicken Soup for the Single’s Soul” and “My Turn to Care: Affirmations for Caregivers of Aging Parents.” My first novel percolated over a long period of time—maybe ten years. The actual writing of it was probably about thirteen months (spread over those ten years).

SKC: Are you in any Groups that help you in your writing? Would love to hear about them all.

 I have worked primarily with a critique partner over the years who happens to be my best friend as well as a wonderful writer. Our genres are very different, so we bring objectivity to each manuscript. My sister, younger brother, and a few other friends and colleagues read my manuscripts before I send them off to my editor. Each one brings a different expertise to the reading/editing table. From time to time I’ve attended different writers groups and currently meet with a Christian writers group in the Philadelphia area (PCFW), a chapter of ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers). We encourage each other, share resource materials and information, and sometimes do group book signings. We do not critique work as a group, but it is wonderful to be able to bounce ideas off one another. Accountability can be a good thing.

Although not a writing group, I would like to give credit to the Institute of Children’s Literature. I found their correspondence course most helpful. My writing is more for teens and adults, but the lessons were well organized and just what I needed. Learning how to outline and begin a novel helped me a great deal, and I was blessed with a wonderful instructor.

SKC: I would have to agree! I took advantage of ICL too, and I had a great instructor, just like you, Cathy. Wonderful experience!

Say, you were invited to speak at a Writer’s Conference. If you were to share with a more mature author about the writing field, how would you go about it? What would you tell them? 

 I would encourage all writers to maintain their priorities: God first, in all things, at all times, in all ways. Care for the family in which He has placed you. Maintain the relationships that He has provided in your life. Give back. Seek balance in your life and wisdom in your work. Hone your craft, day after day, year after year. Ask God what He would have you write, then wait for His answer. Know why you are writing what you are writing. Look at your life, at all the events—experiences, big and small, that brought you to this moment. Look objectively at your natural gifts and ask what you are passionate about—what makes you pound the table and weep, both for joy and in frustration. What is the unique gift, story, message, that you bring to the world? What is the story God has placed on your heart? Focus, work hard, and sing for the joy of working in partnership with our Creator.

SKC: Many authors are often asked how they deal with writer's block. How do you overcome it? 

 I don’t usually have writer’s block—or maybe I’m in denial. I resist taking myself that seriously. But, sometimes, if I’m feeling “stuck” I plow through. I force myself to write, even if it stinks. Once I have something on paper I have something to work with. That has been my habit. But lately I’ve been learning to wait, to pray, to praise, and listen. It is sometimes more productive than writing words I throw away. I’ve come to think that even as writers we deal with different seasons in our lives in different ways. Writing is fluid, so maybe, we should allow the water to flow around the writer’s block.

SKC: Good advice! What do you believe is the KEY to writing an exceptionally good book?

 Strong characters, a clear premise, a notable difficulty to overcome, a theme readers care about, the writer’s passion for their story, well honed prose, and a unique voice.

SKC: After you finish your present project what plans do you have?

 I’ve started my third novel. My working title is “Owen Allen’s Legacy.” It is 1912. Determined to escape an abusive past, fifteen-year-old Michael Dunnagan stows away aboard the luxury liner, Titanic. When Titanic sinks he is offered, through the sacrifice of his friend, not only a seat in a lifeboat, but Owen’s family and future. But Michael, who carries his own dark secret, finds that accepting and learning to live with such an amazing and unmerited gift is not easy. Nor is it easy for Owen’s younger sister, Annie, to forgive Michael for having taken her brother’s place. Through years of hardship and war (WWI) Michael and Annie seek and learn forgiveness and the ability to forgive. But will they survive to share the joy and abundant life they’ve just found?

Owen’s sacrifice and gift parallels, in part, Jesus’ sacrifice and gift so that we might live, and live abundantly. Michael’s struggle to accept that life, and Annie’s struggle to forgive, parallels our own.

SDC: Cathy, I understand you have a book to share with one of our readers. Tell us about which one you have. And don’t forget to give us your URL so people can come give you a visit! 

CG: I’m thrilled to offer one of your readers a signed copy of my newest book, “I Have Seen Him in the Watchfires.” To learn more about my books or life and family, to see photographs of historical sites that helped inspire my stories, to find recipes of foods mentioned in my books, or to stop by and chat, please visit my website at www.cathygohlke.com. I’d love to hear from you!

Thank you, Shirley, for this visit. Spending time with you and your readers is my great pleasure. May God bless and keep you, and all who take up pens for our Lord!
Cathy Gohlke

SDC: I can’t thank you enough for coming by to visit, Cathy Gohlke! (Want to be sure we all get the spelling of your name correct!) It means a lot to me and to those who are now coming here--many who are beginning to follow and subscribe to this newer blog! We all love to read, and I can wager a good guess, your books are going to be a demand on many shelves. I know they will be on mine.




Shirley Kiger Connolly