Thursday, March 25, 2010


Welcome to you Jim. So glad you could join us at A Pen for Your Thoughts.

Jim Rubart is a husband, dad, and marketing professional in his day job. He loves to water ski, play guitar, jump off cliffs and dirt bike with his boys, and go for long weekends and long walks with his wife. Jim and his family live in the Pacific Northwest.

SDC: So glad to have a nearby neighbor here this week! I read a little about you before I made plans to have you here, Jim. I was blessed by looking at some of your beautiful photography, I saw that you were from the Pacific Northwest, much like me, and the third thing I noticed was the creative way you wrote about the guy who sold his soul! Wow! What an interesting concept to write about. Now, you make me really curious about your books. As you open up to tell us about your book coming out soon, I’d also like to find out what makes you tick. What gets your subject matter going in your brain?

Jim: So cool that you read Sold My Soul To The Company Store! That was my first attempt at writing a tale that reflects my, uh, unusual take on story. I suppose my writing comes from being a kid that loved comic books and adventure stories growing up, but was at the same time sensitive to the under currents of powerful emotions and relationships.

SDC: Ah! Those wonderful comic books. I lived on them till I switched to books. Tell us, what kind of responses to you receive from readers or people who listen to you speak who have not yet come to know the Lord, or who have been influenced greatly by your witness and how do you make faith, love, and hope work together in your stories?

Jim: Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks. In other words I don’t know how I make them work together, they just do. God is in me. He’s given me the gift of writing, so weaving those things into my stories is simply Him coming out in me.

In sports, athletes talk about being the zone, where they’re not thinking about what they’re doing, they just act. That’s how my writing is. I feel like I’m not much more than a scribe. This isn’t false humility. I work hard at rewrites and polish, but the initial story flows out of me as if I’m watching a movie, so I have to turn to God and say thank you for giving me the gift of writing, You’re awesome!

SDC: He is indeed! What made you decide to write in your particular genre?

Jim: That’s a great question, because no one can really decide what my genre is. This was one of the reasons ROOMS didn’t sell initially. No one knew where to put it. A Seattle software tycoon inherits a home on the Oregon coast that turns out to be a physical manifestation of his soul. What genre is that? Suspense? Supernatural? Plus there’s a big romance. I wrote the story because that was the one inside that demanded to come out. It’s a story of healing and freedom, and I wrote it because it’s a story I needed to read. I need more freedom, more healing. But to answer your question more directly, I love contemporary settings flavored with the supernatural and the power of God

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

Jim: Hug my wife. She’s such an amazing support. Wise, compassionate, understanding. I couldn’t do this writing gig without her.

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

Jim: After they’ve had some time to work through the emotion I ask them if God can be trusted. If he can, then he is in control and knows what He’s doing, whether it’s a rejection or acceptance.

How do I handle rejection? I throw a massive tantrum worth of a three-year-old. Just kidding; my tantrums are very mild. (When my wife reads this she’ll say some peple will take that seriously.)

When I first jumped into the pub world my skin was paper mache thin. But after one particularly devastating rejection I stood with my wife and said, “I have to make a decision. I have to choose to not care what other people think. I need to decide once and for all if I’m a writer or not. I think we all have to come to that point to survive in the industry.

SDC: I do too! What excites you most about your writing experience?

Jim: Everything. It’s been incredible. I feel like I’ve been put at the top of this massive 60 foot wave on a surf board I’m on the ride of my life. But I have to say the most rewarding part has been meeting so many amazing people in this industry; authors, editors, agents … the only thing we’re certain to take in the next life is relationships, so I’m glad to be blessed with some wonderful ones.

SDC: I understand you have a book you would like to share with one of our readers. I appreciate that so much. What question would you like one of our viewers to answer to help me select the winner, Jim?

Jim: Here it is. What is the fear you know you need to step into that will bring you more freedom? And what actions are you going to take to step into that fear?

SDC: What a great introspective question for reflection! I'm anxious to see the responses that come in to that. Thanks. I must tell you, it’s been great having you here. Let us know where we all can reach you, Jim, and where we can find your books as they come out! I am really looking forward to reading some myself.

Jim: Thanks for having me! You’ll find ROOMS now, and my other books later on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and CBD, as well as in LifeWay, Family Christian storesMy author site is: and my marketing Web site is: Live free!

SDC: We look forward to all your responses as you write in with your comments. Don't forget to share your thoughts with regard to Jim's great question above. And please include an email address in case your name is selected. 

Congratulations to Julia Reffner of Fairport, New York! You have just won Jim's new book! Be watching for your gift in the mail soon!

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Welcome to you, Judy. It's great to have you here at A Pen for Your Thoughts.

     Judy Duarte always knew there was a book inside her, but since English was her least favorite subject in school, she never considered herself a writer. An avid reader who enjoys a happy ending, Judy couldn’t shake the dream of creating a book of her own.

     That dream became a reality in March of 2002, when Silhouette released her first Special Edition. Since then, more than thirty of her books have hit the shelves, including two inspirational women’s fiction novels and two novellas.
     Judy has won a Reader’s Choice Award, and in 2009, she won the Maggie and finaled in the Rita ® with MULBERRY PARK.
     When she’s not cooped up in her writing cave, she’s spending time with her somewhat enormous, but delightfully close family near the beach in Southern California.

SDC: Wow! You are a busy lady! You must keep your fingers on the keyboard most of the time. Before we start the process, Judy, what do you do when you are NOT writing?

JD: I’m involved with my local RWA chapter as a board member, which keeps me busy and connected to other writers. And I’m a part of the women’s ministry team at my church. I also have a big family that keeps me hopping.

SKC: What book or project would you like to tell us about today? I know there are three on the agenda.

JD: I’m excited about all of them—the reissue of MULBERRY PARK in mass market and BABIES MAKE FIVE, another Special Edition which will be released in May. But I’d like to focus on THE HOUSE ON SUGAR PLUM LANE, which is coming out in April.

     It’s the third inspirational women’s fiction novel in the Mulberry Park series, with new characters, as well as a one or two who were secondary characters earlier books.
     THE HOUSE ON SUGAR PLUM LANE tells the story of Amy Masterson, a single mother who moves into a Victorian fixer that had once belonged to the biological great-grandmother she’d never met. As Amy settles into the furnished old home, she finds a journal and gets to know a bit about Ellie Rucker, a woman who lived and loved decades ago.
     Before long, Amy learns that Ellie lives across the street, cared for by a neighbor. It seems an answer to prayer—until Amy discovers that Ellie has dementia and that a reunion is impossible. But love is a powerful force, and it’s never too late to hope—especially in Fairbrook—a town where miracles abound.

SDC: Sounds great! I'm going to HAVE to read your work! What inspired you to become a writer of inspirational books? And do you write anything else?

JD: I’ve been writing for Silhouette Special Edition ever since I made my first sale in 2001. I enjoy writing emotional, character-driven romances. But I also felt led to write inspirational fiction, especially for people who might not shop in Christian bookstores. And the Mulberry Park books have enabled me to do that.

SDC: What encourages you to continue writing as you do?

JD: After all these years, I can’t imagine not writing. The characters just won’t keep still, and the stories keep coming. I also believe that I’m doing what God wants me to do—at least, for now.

SDC: Now and then I ask this to other authors. Are you in any Groups that help you in your writing? Or ministry groups online? Tell us about them and a little about your publishers and how they found you.

JD: I’m an active member of my local RWA chapter (San Diego), so that helps a lot. I’m also a member of the Faith, Hope and Love chapter, an online group of Christian romance writers. That helps, too.
     And the members of my Thursday morning Bible study are very supportive and seem to understand the writing process—or at least, they try to. They’ve been a great source of spiritual support, too.
     Everyone at Kensington, the publisher of my inspirational novels, has been great to work with. They don’t actually have an inspirational line, but they liked the premise of MULBERRY PARK and bought three books in the series.

SDC: We all know as authors the importance of not getting too puffed up about what we do. I always seem to find at least one ghastly mistake in my novels AFTER they are published, and if anything keeps me humble that does, knowing it is too late to fix what is already in print. What is the one thing that keeps you humble about being a published author, Judy?

JD: Oh, Shirley. You, too? I can’t read my finished novels, either! You’re so right about it being a humbling experience.
     Another thing that keeps me humble is knowing that God has had a hand in what I’m doing. The talent, the perseverance, and the books belong to Him—even the books I write for the secular market.

SDC: I love that. God is what it's all about. If He didn't have a hand in this that we do, where would we be! What is your JUDY secret to writing a good book?

JD: I try to write the kind of books that I want to read—inspirational, emotional and uplifting. I like books and movies that offer me hope and a message that I can apply to my own life.

SDC: This has been a great interview, Judy. We look forward to the one question on your mind that you might ask someone coming to ask you to sign a book for them. We’ll take the comments that come in to select the winners of the generous offer of books you are willing to share with us.

JD: You know, there is a question on my mind. But I never ask. I don’t want readers to think that I’m digging for a compliment.
     What I’d really like to ask them is whether the story (I wrote) moved them or not—and if so, in what way. That way, I can stay on target when I write. And I can work harder to give the readers hope and a message they can apply to their own lives.

SDC: That's a great question to ask. Thank you. And we also thank you for being here, Judy. Please let us know where we can find all your books!

JD: The books are available at your favorite secular bookstores—both online and brick and mortar. They’re not in the Christian bookstores—yet. But who knows? Maybe someday.

(I pray and dream for the same thing, Judy.)
Congratulations to Martha Rogers of Texas! Be watching for your book. What a blessing!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Little Wisdom from the Irish

As you remember those wise ones
who have gone before,
respect  the wisdom in
what they have taught you

Never let yourself get lost in a situation

Wherever it is, let your home always be
your sanctuary.

Remember to put on the whole Armor of God
that you may be able to withstand
the wiles of you know who 

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Amber Stockton has something to say! Come on IN!

(Tiffany) Amber Stockton has been crafting and embellishing stories since she was a child. Today, she is an author and freelance web site designer who lives with her husband and fellow author, Stuart, along with their daughter and border collie in beautiful Colorado. Amber has sold eight books so far to Barbour Publishing with more on the horizon. Other credits include writing articles for various publications, five short stories with Romancing the Christian Heart, and contributions to the books: 101 Ways to Romance Your Marriage and Grit for the Oyster. Read more about her at her web site:

SKC: Many welcome greetings to you, Tiff. I think I’ve had you on before, so this will be a great opportunity to hear some updated news! What books or project are you working on now? Tell us about the circumstances that got this underway.

Tiff: Right now, although I don’t have any current contracts, I am working on two historical series. The first is set in Wyoming featuring a socialite artist from Philadelphia who accepts a teaching position out west so she can sketch the wondrous landscapes. She befriends a cattle baron and learns the ways of a ranch while discovering a simplistic way of life that fulfills her in ways far beyond her imagination.

The second series is focused on silver mining in Colorado, featuring 3 siblings who sold their mine to run a ranch but find their mine is still irrevocably entwined in their lives.

SKC: Both sound great. Do you still write under various pennames and how does that change with what you write? Or do you work under your own name?

Tiff: I began writing under Amber Miller, but when I married, I changed to Amber Stockton. Amber is my middle name, so I don’t know that I consider it a pen name as much as an alternate.  As far as I know, unless my editor asks me to change, I will be writing as Amber Stockton from here on out.

SKC: You last time told us you had been writing all your life, but did not get serious until much later. What has been the biggest factor in keeping you going, Tiff?

Tiff: That’s an excellent question. I’d have to say it’s the knowledge that what I write might touch someone’s life and be the words they need to read or hear. To imagine that the words I pen might be used by God to bless someone else is a powerful thought. Another factor is knowing that with each story I write and sell, I am able to stay home with my daughter and not have to go to work outside the home. That alone is enough to keep me writing the rest of my life.

SKC: I love that. How important it is to TOUCH SOMEONE'S LIFE as you say. Do you still work with CBA, or have you felt an interest in writing for the ABA as well? What are your thoughts about inspirational writers writing Crossover Stories?

Tiff: Yes, right now, I am working exclusively within the CBA. I don’t have a problem with inspirational authors writing crossover stories as long as their faith and their beliefs aren’t compromised simply for the sake of a sale. And personally, I haven’t had a desire to write for the ABA except perhaps in children’s books. That doesn’t mean the option isn’t still there should a door open, though.

SKC: It's nice that we all have choices, isn't it. I believe you once told me you often get writer’s block. How has that changed or not changed for you as you spend more time writing?

Tiff: Before I had my daughter, my “block” would happen because I wouldn’t know where to take the story. Now, the “block” occurs because I don’t have a lot of focus time. My mind and attention are so divided now with a lot of the focus going toward my daughter and her needs. But my husband is fantastic in taking over baby duty to allow me to write in the evenings and weekends. And nap times are a blessedly silent time that allow for some great focused writing phases. Of course, with this division, I have learned to write a lot faster and just get the story down. There is always time to edit and improve later.

SKC: That time for focus hits the nail on the head. I just spoke to our last author about that very thing. What is your advice to the aspiring writer or to someone who just thinks about the art?

Tiff: Writing is not for the faint of heart. It takes a lot of hard work, determination, patience, perseverance and faith. And it won’t happen overnight. You have to maintain a teachable spirit and be open to constructive criticism, no matter how far along in your writing journey you get. In the end, the rewards far outweigh all the sweat and tears you shed along the way. Most importantly, if you feel this is the path for you, never give up!

SKC: What do you do during the waiting period when editors are looking over your manuscripts?

Tiff: Write, write, write. I keep writing books. I seek out opportunities for articles. I work on marketing the books I have out and I look for outlets to pitch new stories in the hopes they might sell. Basically, I do anything that might help bring in the income and keep the career going.

SKC: We are looking forward to the book you have for one of the readers here. What is the one thing you would like to know about a follower of this blog, A Pen for Your Thoughts, Tiff?

Tiff: What *I* would like to know? And not one thing I’d like the follower to know? Hmm…I suppose I’d like to know whether that follower is a writer or a reader, and if a writer, where in the writing journey the follower is. If a reader, the favorite types of books the follower likes to read.

SKC: Thanks for that. The answers that come in will help all writers. It’s been a joy having you here, Tiff! Be sure to tell us where we can find YOU and your books in the days ahead.

Tiff: You can always find me at my web site or my blog. I update my books page with my latest releases and books coming soon. So, if you want to keep up with my career, you can check that page on my site. I also have a group on Facebook called Amber Stockton Readers that you can join. There are weekly discussions on my books and fiction in general. Then, my blog features author spotlights and book giveaways each week. Here are the URL’s:

Thanks so much, Shirley, for having me here today. It’s been a pleasure. And of course, I’d love to hear from you [and the others] in the comments. Thanks [to all] for coming by today.

Readers and writers: Now, for you. Take a few moments to respond to the above reflection in RED. Thanks so much. I hope you win the book!

Congratulations to Wendy Marple of Delano, Minnesota! You are our new winner. Woo Hoo! Watch for your book and be sure to try again anaother time.

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Welcome Ronie:

Thanks so much for having me. I’m delighted to be here!

Ronie Kendig has a BS in Psychology and is a wife, mother of four, and avid writer. Her novels include Dead Reckoning (March 2010, Abingdon Press) and Nightshade (July 2010, Barbour Publishing), Book#1 in The Discarded Heroes series. She speaks to various groups, volunteers with the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), and mentors new writers. Ronie can be found at

SKC: We are anxious to hear about your newest project, what inspired you to write it, and when we will have the pleasure of seeing it.

RK: I am so excited to share this story wit you. I had a lot of fun with Shiloh and Reece in Dead Reckoning. This is the story of a young woman battling for independence from her father’s career that shattered their family. Unwittingly, she’s embroiled in a nuclear arms clash that propels her into the path of a covert operative trying to rout the masterminds behind a dead drop in the Arabian Sea. Staying alive means surrendering her heart and becoming what she vowed she’d never be—a spy.
Honestly, the reason Dead Reckoning came to life was because the story of Shiloh’s parents never found a publishing home. In looking at the arsenal of story ideas I had to work on next, Shiloh’s story appealed to me the most. I loved the idea of a girl, almost completely shattered by her father’s espionage career, finding her footing in life and through a career eerily similar to what her father did. Yet it wasn’t a repeating cycle, but the way she found wholeness and healing. Dead Reckoning is available now at, B&N, and Amazon!

SKC: When did you know writing books would become the passion your heart, Ronie?

RK: I never really knew it would. In all honesty, it just sort of happened. I’ve always loved making up stories, and when my husband, sometime shortly after we married, that I try to get published, I rebuffed him. I did not want to jeopardize my love of writing with going through the pains of seeking publication. But eventually, he convinced me, and in 2002, I started the journey toward publication.

SKC: Besides that thought we all have to get our work published, what inspires you to keep going?

RK: Besides spiritual breakthroughs and touching the heart of the Father?...My family. Seeing the glimmer of pride in their eyes at seeing Mom published, knowing they are witnessing an example of hard work and dedication in bringing a big project to completion, and knowing that I am also sharing with them how to use the gifts God has given us in a way that glorifies Him . . . it’s enough to keep me writing.

SKC: Starting and ending a book is often the most difficult, for many writers. Describe how you begin and end your stories. If it’s easy, hard, seat-of-the-pants, or carefully thought out.

RK: For the most part, I’m a SOTP writer. I rarely ever start a story without developing the characters, interviewing them, sorting out their personalities/archetypes, and then I will pen the first three or four—sometimes six—chapters of the book. That’s when I’ll stop and develop a very loose synopsis just to get an idea of the story development. Then, on the sage advice of my “big brother” John Olson, I toss that aside and write. The story might adhere to the synopsis, but more often than not, the characters reveal to me how little I knew of their lives and character.  In all honesty, I’m “ending phobic.” I do not like writing my endings for two reasons: 1.) I’m terrified the ending will be awaful, which will mean I’ve let down the entire book/story/characters as well as myself, but also because 2.) it means the story is over. And that’s always a bittersweet day.

SKC: What do you believe is the KEY to writing a good book?

RK: Besides the requisite knowing the rules and knowing how to use them, I think deep POV is one of the most integral elements of a good story. If you don’t dig deep, if you aren’t in their head, the story will be flat.

SKC: I enjoy the deep POV that jumps out at the reader too. What do you do when you discover your daily writing time and time spent with other writers begins to interfere with your family time or quality time with God?

RK: The two don’t interfere. Sometimes a conflict of time might arise, but God and family come first. Of course, my family does realize that writing is my career, so there are concessions made. Evenings are mine to write (usually after the twins go to bed), and the family understands and supports that. If there’s a conflict of time (assuming I’m not under deadline), family comes first.

SKC: That's great to hear. On another subject, what would you say is the reason why so many authors have a difficult time coming up with their proposals?

RK: If I were to venture a guess, I would say they have hard time more out of a lack of experience. Proposals are just a dump of information—marketing, blurbs, bios, etc.—the challenging content is in the chapters. Good proposals take time and a careful, strategic eye. This isn’t necessarily your time to gleam and be flowery. Proposals are the tool to convince the publisher/agent/pub board/editorial board that you have considered the business end of publishing and have thought it through.

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

RK: I am in the throes of working on The Discarded Heroes now. Nightshade, Book 1, is at the galley stage, Digitalis, which is book#2 is being critiqued, and I’ll soon start book #3, Wolfsbane.

SKC: This blog, A Pen for Your Thoughts, is just that. Others' thoughts or reflections. We love to learn the what others think about any particular subject. It could be about your style of writing, about a believer’s walk, whatever. As we prepare to make available your new book for one of our readers, what reflective question would YOU like to ask, Ronie?

RK: Not a question so much as a challenge—where is your focus when you write? For me, that was the question that changed my life. To quote from my dear friend, Jim Rubart’s manuscript:
God does not give us our gifts so that we can find meaning in success or power, but for the sheer pleasure of seeing His child use that gift.
The greatest gift is not the contract or success (although they’re both very nice), but the true prize is the gift itself. Write to bring God joy in the fact that you are writing because He gave you a gift. That makes His heart glow!!

SKC: It has been a joy having you here! Please tell our readers where they can find you and your books online, will you, Ronie? And God bless you for being a part of the blog!

RK: Just about anywhere:
Twitter: roniekendig

Did you catch Ronie's challenge for you to try to win one of her books?
Where is your focus when you write?
If you are a writer, we would love to hear your thoughts about that.
And if you simply enjoy reading and NOT writing, let me add to the question as a reader.
What do you come across when reading that takes you OUT of focus in a story?

CONGRATULATIONS to our winner of Dead Reckoning, Linda Wagner of St Paul, Minnesota!
Be watching for your book, Linda. And thanks for following the blog.