Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Say Hello to Linore Burkard for a Brand New Year at A Pen for Your Thoughts.

Linore Rose Burkard creates Inspirational Romance for the Jane Austen Soul. Her characters take you back in time to experience life and love during the Regency England era (circa 1800 - 1830). Ms. Burkard's novels include Before the Seasons Ends, The House in Grosvenor Square and, The Country House Courtship. Her stories blend Christian faith and romance with well-researched details from the Regency. Readers experience a romantic age, where England from the past comes alive and happy endings are possible for everyone!

Just a teensy hint of Linore’s newest:

Mr. Peter O Brien felt surely he had a devil plaguing him, and the devil’s name was Mr.Phillip Mornay…

SDC: Just by reading the first couple of lines of The Country House Courtship, to me, is quite intriguing and makes me want to read on. Join me, please, in welcoming this week’s author, Linore.

Before we start the process, Linore, what do you do when you are NOT writing?

LB: I’m often busy just keeping my family supplied with meals and everything else they need; cleaning, and cooking and chauffeuring—all the things moms must do. I also teach my first grader at home, and on the fun side, I like to read on my new Kindle, watch movies with the family, join my 12-yr old as we solve Nancy Drew games on the pc, and other stuff. I also love to do a couple of jigsaw puzzles every winter, or at least one big one. (And I’m very picky about them; they have to be gorgeous.)

SKC: I enjoy jigsaw puzzles too, and wish I had more time for them. It’s nice to see you TAKE the time. You look as if you are in the middle of a solid career in Regency writing. Tell the readers what brought you to Regency. And are you also published in anything else, or do you plan on working other genres into your platform? If so what?

LB: I’ve said many times that Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen were my main influences as far as writing regencies. I do have a bunch more regency novels I’d like to have published, but as for adding other genres, yes, I’ve never actually seen myself as ONLY a regency writer. I have a wide variety of manuscripts sitting in my files that I’ve started, or completed, from contemporary to children’s, to other historical time periods. In time, I expect the best of them will get published.

SDC: That will keep you even busier! How long does it take you to complete a manuscript? And how do you determine your settings?

LB: Completing a manuscript varies by book, for me. If I have a deadline, I finish by that deadline, and if that means I’m spending most of the day writing or editing to do it, then so be it. I can’t really say how long each manuscript takes as I’ve only had three published, but the last two were under six months.

SDC: Tell us about more of your unpublished work and what you plan to do with older material.

LB: Well, if I ever stop getting great ideas for new material, I’d love to go over my older stuff with my (now) better trained eyes. As I said, I have manuscripts in many stages of completion, some just about finished, or done. But the book that grabs my interest most is the new one I’m working on at any given time. Right now I’m doing a regency time-travel, and I love it.

SDC: Time-travel is going strong right now. Good idea. Since Regency deals with a short time period, what do you do to keep your stories fresh?

LB: The period is only short in terms of the “political regency.” In other words, when the Prince was actually appointed Regent. (1811-1820). But the stylistic regency is anywhere from 1800 or so to about 1830. That’s a lot of years, and I haven’t found any need to use most of them. It’s a great era, and even if you limited me to only one or two years, I could still see a lot of different stories happening in that time frame.

SDC: Thanks for explaining that, Linore. I think more need to know the details of Regency. I enjoy reading the titles to your work. How do you come up with titles and the names for your characters?

LB: Thank you, Shirley. Titles and names are strange creatures: Sometimes they come to me effortlessly, and other times I have to go through a number of discards before I settle on one. For a character, for instance, I might choose a name, but then the character becomes someone who, to me, doesn’t fit that name. So I have to find another one. Movie credits are fabulous places to find names, but I never use anyone’s first and second name as it appears in a credit. I might take one person’s first name, someone else’s last name (and make it a middle name for my character) and then another person’s last name. This can be fun, but it can also be exasperating. I’ve had books where I’ve used different names for the same character until the book is almost finished! I have to try them out sometimes, before I can tell whether they truly fit the character or not.

SDC: I should have asked you how it feels when a publisher decides to CHANGE your title after you have worked so hard to come by it. Oh, well. Maybe next time I shall. Every writer has a process that fits her or him personally. Now, it is your turn. How do you settle into your page goals, your chapter goals, your storylines, and the rest? And do you create character studies to work with?

LB: I work most often with “scene” goals. In other words, I get an idea for a scene that helps move the book along, or develop a character, and then my goal is to write that scene. Sometimes in the process of fleshing out a scene, I’ll end up writing three or four scenes. That’s how it works for me. I only use chapter goals in the beginning if I’m having trouble getting started, and I only need character sheets if I don’t know a character well.

SDC: Working with chapter goals sounds like a great process for someone like me, who sometimes has problems getting off the ground. Thanks, Linore! By the way, who do you enjoy reading? And do you have a favorite scripture that keeps you going every day? If so, what is it?

LB: My reading time has really suffered since I started writing for publication, and since I’ve had five children (laugh). But I still like to read the old classics best, or non-fiction, such as Christian living books. I occasionally read and review books for other authors, but my favorite reading is 19th century stuff, or earlier, and research books.

SDC: The readers look forward to having the opportunity to win one of your books, Linore. Tell us about the book you are donating, and please share a reflection question the readers can write in to respond with.

LB: I’ll give a free copy of any of my three books. If the reader is new to me, they can get my first book since they are a series. Any of the books can be read as a stand-alone but most people prefer to read them in order, and I do think that it is more enjoyable to read them that way. It’s just more fun when you already know the characters and how they met, and so on. So, if you win a book, you can request any of the three in my Regency Series.
Before the Season Ends
The House in Grosvenor Square 
The Country House Courtship

A reflection question I’d love to hear your answers to is:

What are you most hoping for when you sit down and open a new book from a Christian author? Is it to be entertained? Is it for escapism? Is it for heart-wrenching emotion, or do you prefer a fun and enjoyable love story? If you can please try to zero in on what you MOST hope for from a new book. I’d love to hear about it. Thanks and I’ll check in and comment back when I can.

And thank you, Shirley, for having me and my books on your lovely blog.

SDC: My pleasure. Thanks for being a part of A Pen for Your Thoughts, Linore. As we close out today, please let us know where we can buy signed copies of your work.

LB: Autographed copies are available on my website: http://www.LinoreBurkard.com/books.html

GUESTS…Be sure to follow through with Linore’s great question to reflect upon. I think these are the questions all authors want to know the answer to.We look forward to hearing from you here at A Pen for Your Thoughts.
Congratulations to our winner T. Anne Adams Bivinetto of Rancho Palos Verdes, California! Be watching for Linore's book in the next few days.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

RONICA has some great gift ideas for your favorite young person!

Meet Ronica!

Ronica Stromberg is the author of a picture book, The Time-for-Bed Angel; a middle-grade mystery, The Glass Inheritance; and two novels for tweens and teens, A Shadow in the Dark and Living It Up to Live It Down. She also has stories in 18 anthologies and writes regularly for inspirational children's magazines. She enjoys reading mysteries, literature classics, children's books, and romances in her spare time.

SDC: It’s good to have you here, Ronica. What are some of your favorite themes you write about these days? Do you see them changing?

RS: My latest books, A Shadow in the Dark and Living It Up to Live It Down, just came out in the past two months, but I actually wrote them eight years ago. Both are aimed at tweens and teens. In A Shadow in the Dark, young teen Kirsten Hart keeps seeing a shadowy figure at her neighbor’s window and becomes a sleuth to discover who this girl is and why she doesn’t come out. Kirsten soon finds herself on a journey of understanding God’s purpose for every individual. She struggles with her new faith in a Heavenly Father because her earthly father has let her down so many times. In Living It Up to Live It Down, she befriends a pastor’s daughter, Sarah, as someone to lean on and learn from in the faith. But Sarah has gone astray and could use a little help herself. While the first book in this series is a mystery, the second is a more humorous “problem” novel. I find myself moving toward more humor in my writing although the books still deal with themes such as peer pressure, fitting in, and seeing God in daily life.

SDC: Both sound great and perfect for Christmas gifts for young adults. What are your plans for the Christmas holidays, Ronica?

RS: I’m of Scandinavian descent and it’s fallen to me to make the lefse (a traditional Norwegian flatbread) for my family this year. After making it, my husband, children, and I will travel to my home state, Iowa, to spend with the rest of my family. I’ll also do a book signing at my hometown’s independent bookstore and maybe take in the Christmas parade.

SDC: What a great idea. I would love to taste lefse sometime. I also love to find out what others are going to do at Christmas. But let's jump back to your books for a few moments. Do you ever get the opportunity to share yours in school settings? If so, tell us about that.

RS: Oh-h-h, yes! I regularly read in schools, teach about writing, and lead workshops in which children work on improving their own writing skills. The topics I teach on are listed at my site, http://www.ronicastromberg.wordpress.com/ , under the page titled “visits, talks, presentations, and signings.” This last year I was a featured author at several literature festivals and young writers’ conferences, and I especially enjoyed that. I learn about as much as from the children as I teach.

SDC: All sound like fun. There is something special about working with children. I have always loved it too. Why don't you tell us next what your biggest plans are for 2010?

RS: I’m hoping to get back into the workforce part-time (either as an in-house editor for a corporation or government agency, as I used to be, or performing clerical work) and continue marketing my books and working on an inspirational romance and some smaller children’s projects.

SDC: You will be a busy woman! I met you when we became critique partners once. Are you still critiquing other people’s manuscripts, Ronica? How easy or hard is it to critique a story you are not enjoying?

RS: I enjoyed our critique exchange, but not every exchange goes that well. What’s most discouraging about critique exchanges is, often, you start critiquing another person’s manuscript and see right away it will never pass muster. Then you’re faced with hours of polishing on a manuscript that will likely go nowhere, and the critique you get in exchange will probably hold little value. It’s important when exchanging critiques to have a partner who’s at least as far along in the process as you. Not everyone can afford to go to conferences or take classes to improve skills, but everyone can check out books on writing from the library and learn that way. So if you get a partner who is at least studying the craft on her own, that’s someone you can work with.

I had the great fortune recently to have an award-winning, multi-published romance author critique the first three chapters of a romance I’d written. My manuscript came back with some hard-hitting critiques. I was elated. I had finally gotten answers to the question, What can I do to get to the next level? I wish I could make this romance author my critique partner permanently, but realistically, my critiques wouldn’t sufficiently pay her back. And a critique really needs to be mutually beneficial.

SDC: Thanks for giving such good advice on critiquing. I understand you will offer Living It Up to Live It Down to one of our readers. What question that relates to the Christmas season would you like to ask today?

RS: What is your favorite childhood memory of Christmas?

SDC: Perfect question for the holidays. I love hearing about people's childhood memories. I just did one at a brunch I spoke at recently which I turned it into a short devotional. While we wait for answers from others, tell us where we can find you and also your books.

RS: I keep a blog/Web site at http://www.ronicastromberg.wordpress.com/ . The publisher for my latest books is Royal Fireworks Press, and anyone can order A Shadow in the Dark and Living It Up to Live It Down from them by phone, mail, or online at http://rfwp.com/series96.htm#897 .

SDC: Thanks so much for your update, Ronica. I'm glad you came to A Pen for Your Thoughts.

Congratulations to Bethanee Bottoms of Oregon, the winner of Ronica's new book. Watch for your copy soon, Bethanee. And thanks for being a part of A Pen for Your Thoughts.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I Wonder if You've Met Nick Daniels. (You will love his question for you.)

A little about Nick:
     Nick was born in the late 1970s, in a bustling city in South America. He wrote his first short story in third grade about a explorer lost in the Amazon jungle, then discovered Jules Verne during sixth grade and was hooked into fiction for life.

     He spent the next few years reading literature classics (mostly Dostoievsky) and contemporary Latin American writers such as Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Jorge Luis Borges, Julio Cortazar, and Mario Vargas Llosa, plus every book in the library that piqued his interest.
     At age fifteen, he decided to write a novel about a woman who loses the ability to love. It remains (thankfully) unpublished.
     After graduating from journalism school, Nick moved to the United States to continue his education and write about science and faith issues. He worked as a science writer for several years until he gradually found his way back into fiction.
     Nick now lives on an island in the pacific, in what can be described as a writer's paradise.

SDC: Tell us about what you are writing now, Nick.
Nick: I’m working on an end-times thriller about a Muslim militant who goes to Jerusalem to help his Jewish childhood friend find his missing brother. It’s an explosive and controversial novel and I’m having a lot of fun writing it.

SKC: Sounds like interesting reading. How did you gain your interest in writing? Did it have anything to do with where you were raised?
Nick: I don’t remember anyone in my family being a great reader, that’s just a virus I caught myself and made me spent many days and nights devouring stories in my bed. Having so many stories in my head, I knew I could tell some of my own, and that’s how I began writing.

SDC: Great way to put it, Nick. So, after a long day of writing or doing revisions in a story what is the very first thing you do?
Nick: I usually write late at night when the kids are sleeping and the world is quiet, so when sleep is stronger than the will to write, I just turn the light off.

SDC: I't s not always easy to concentrate when there is a bunch of noise, is it. I saw by your bio that you have a romance hiding somewhere in your files. Why do you NOT want that to be published?
Nick: It’s bad, really. That was an exercise in writing when I was in High school, and believe me, you don’t want to read it. If I knew then what I know now, it would be very different. But I enjoyed writing that one, I must say.

SDC: I'll wager we all have one of those hidden somewhere in our files! Do you write for one publisher, Nick, or do you use more?
Nick: Right now, I don’t have any commitments with just one publisher. In fact, I’m on a period between agents—ended up my contract with one, and looking for a new one.

SDC: It never hurts to keep those options open; I agree. You say you took Journalism. I did as well. Were you once planning to write as a reporter or newscaster? Was it Jules Verne that completely turned you around? How does science with faith work together in your writing?
Nick: Journalism was my profession of choice, simply because it would allow me to earn my living doing what I love, writing. For a while I thought I was going to be a TV producer and actually did some work as a screenwriter, but then decided to become a science journalist. I hated biology during High School, but in college I found myself very involved in Christian apologetics. That’s when I found a new meaning for science and how it could be used to defend the faith.
I worked as a science writer full time for more than five years but always had fiction in the back of my mind. Slowly, I began reading novels again, and working on my own. And here I am.

SDC: A great combination I think. So tell us, what excites you most about your writing experience?
Nick: Plotting. I have lots of ideas, but I enjoy sitting there and imagining how to make things worst for my characters, then start writing and finding out that many more possibilities open before me—unexpected things happen on the page and the characters begin doing their own thing. It’s a process of discovery that cannot be described, a crazy interaction between your brain, your fingers and the computer.

SDC: Sounds like you are definitely a plotter over a pantser then. I see by your bio also that you are well-read. Who else do you like reading and why? And what other books are your reading right now?
Nick: I’m always reading five or six books at a time: a book on writing, a book on Christian living or apologetics, a novel or two (of course), a research book for my work in progress, and a business/marketing book. Why these categories? A book on writing because you can never stop learning about your craft.\; novels because they are addictive; apologetics because I’m the co-host of an apologetics podcast and every week interview authors about their books (check out the podcast at www.breakingunbelief.org). And marketing, because all writers must know how to market or they will starve.
So here’s the breakdown of what I’m reading right now: Novel: Whispers by Dean Koontz;Apologetics: Unveiling Islam by Ergun Caner; Christian living: Christ the Healer by Bosworth; Research: Jerusalem and the Holy Land (Travel Guide)
I just finished The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass (Writing) and All Marketers Are Liars by Seth Godin (Marketing).

SDC: What a combination. But you sound a bit like me, Nick. I am usually reading all different things at the same time (or in the same period of time). There is just so much good stuff out there, and especially when it comes to research. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Nick: Take writing seriously, as you would any job. That means, get over your excuses for procrastinating and not writing and just sit down and do it. It’s the only way. You become a writer, by writing.

SDC: Great advice. Thanks. I understand you have a book you want to donate to one of our readers. Tell us about that book, and when you are finished, what reflection question would you like to ask for our readers to comment on in hopes to win your book?
    Nick: Of course. My first novel is The Gentlemen’s Conspiracy, which takes place in 1836 London, and tells the story of amateur geologist Daniel Young, who starts inquiring about his best friend’s murder and discovers a plot to overthrow the king of England. Plunged into a crisis of faith and separated from the woman he loves, Daniel must stop the killer before becoming the next victim. He soon realizes that the conspiracy not only threatens to destroy the king, but the foundation of Christianity itself.

Okay, here’s the reflection…. Psalm 11:3 says, “When the foundations are being destroyed, 
what can the righteous do?” … How do you think modern thinking is attacking the foundations of Christianity and what can we do about it?

SDC: Wonderful question for the readers to reflect on. I am looking forward to reading the comments that come in and hope you will get an opportunity to respond now and then. Thank you so much for joining us here at A Pen for Your Thoughts, Nick. Please be sure to write down where we can find you online and where your books are available.
Nick: Thanks, Shirley. Please visit my Web site at http://www.nickdanielsbooks.com/ and get a copy of my book at Amazon.com, BN.com or your local bookstore. Be blessed!

Check above for the reflection question and do write in. We look forward to hearing from you. I hope you win the book!  And we want to congratulate Phil C of Oregon! You have just won a copy of Nick's books! Be watching for it.