Friday, October 31, 2014

My Writing Process - A Behind the Scenes Peek

I'm blogging over on the Helping Hands Press blog! We're doing a blog theme of "My Writing Process"

When an author shares a sneak peek into their writing process, I feel like I'm going behind the scenes  on a movie set! I've really enjoyed this blog tour, and I'm excited to be a part of it today.
Story Ideas:
People often wonder how I come up with my story ideas. And I have to tell you, sometimes I don't know either! Every story is different, and the ideas come from different sources.  Sometimes they come from reading Scripture, hearing stories of people's lives, history, and sometimes they can even come from something you see walking down the street.
Here's a picture that I saw while browsing stock photos that inspired a story idea. When I saw this photo, I thought of a young woman who is the daughter of the Captain of a pirate ship. She is raised on board the ship, and sees the most horrid side of the criminals, and is never allowed off the ship. Somehow or another, one of the prisoners introduces her to Christ, and the difference she sees in that person makes a believer out of her. The prisoner dies on board the ship, but she is able to keep the prisoner's Bible. Now, she must convert her father, as Captain of the vessel, and then the mutant crew before they toss her into the sea, or give her a painful death.
What? You didn't see that whole story when you looked at the picture?

Inspiration and Getting in the Groove:
There are several things I use to "get into the groove" of a particular story. First, since I'm a very visual person, I will create a mock cover for the story that I'm working on. This really helps me because I can look at the cover and see the end result and the story concept in only half-a-second. These covers may or may not look anything like the final cover of the book, but it helps me to keep my focus and get excited about the story.
This is my mock up for my current work-in-progress. Again, not a real cover yet, just one for inspiration. :)

There were a couple of pictures that didn't appear on the HHP post. Here's the two look-alike pictures that were missing!
The Absalom look-alike picture
My WIP look alike picture

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Welcome Special Guest Shannon McDermott!

Welcome Shannon! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m an author of science-fiction and fantasy, as well as a YA detective series called the Adventures of Christian Holmes. I have two novels in print – The Valley of Decision and The Last Heir – and several novellas released as e-books.

How did you discover your calling to be a writer?
School. Those creative writing assignments got me writing before I was ten, and I never stopped. I enjoy the work, enjoy creating characters and their stories, and I’ve found it an excellent channel for my imagination and my thoughts.

What books have influenced your life most?
The Bible, first of all, for teaching me who God is.

What I Saw at the Revolution, by Peggy Noonan, was also influential because it taught me, at an early age, that the government is not a machine and power is not an impersonal force; it’s all driven by people, and there’s a human reason and a human motivation behind everything.

A History of the American People, by Paul Johnson, reinvigorated my interest in history and solidified my commitment to studying it.

The works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and G.K. Chesterton all influenced me – Lewis, by showing me both the intellectual justifications of religion and the imaginative expressions of it; Tolkien, by coloring my imagination with visions of heroes, epic struggles, and marvelous worlds; Chesterton, by his writing style and opinions, alternatively playful and profound.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
If I had to … I suppose Chesterton. He’s probably the writer who has influenced most my individual style, as different as I know it to be from his.

What is your favorite time in History?
Any time where great change is occurring – even at the beginning, where almost nobody knows it yet. How many people knew, in the 1760s, that the ideas of those radicals in Boston would drive a revolt that would drive a war? And how many people knew that it would end in creating the very nation and government that, two hundred years later, would be the most powerful in the world?

I haven't read your novels, can you tell us about your book The Valley of Decision.
The Valley of Decision is a fantasy novel, set in a world of mortals and Fays and hobgoblins. Keiran, my protagonist, is the Captain of the Hosts of Belenus, the “undying master of the north”. Although he holds a high position, Keiran is still owned by his master, Belenus; he is not free. The Valley of Decision is his struggle for freedom, for himself and his downtrodden people.

What was the most outstanding thing you learned while researching for this novel?
I learned that this whole web of stories we call fairy tales is much more varied and complex than I had imagined. In modern culture we have these neat categories, elves and dwarves and goblins, but in the old stories it’s not nearly so simple. There’s also a sense of wariness, and fear, that hangs over Faerie. Every wise human knew, in the old tales, to be on his guard around anything not human.

What do you want readers to take away from The Valley of Decision?

I hope they feel, when they close the book, that they have been on a journey and it was worth it, that they weren’t just wasting time. I hope I’ve given them some vision of the choices we all have, full of reward and risk and consequence.

Any fun behind the scenes tidbits you'd like to share with us?
I don’t think anyone noticed it, but Keiran goes through a lot of swords in this novel. He gives up his first sword to use a sword forged by the Trow; the sword forged by the Trow is taken from him, and he replaces it with a sword he takes; that sword is also lost, but he acquires another one, which he later gives as a peace offering. At the end of the book, he is holding a large and impressive sword taken from a field of battle.

Swords are such valuable objects, it really is careless of Keiran to keep losing and giving them away ...

What is the next project you're working on?
I am working on a manuscript titled The Shameful Years, book two of a sci-fi series I’ve started. In this story, I’ve dusted off the old obsession with Mars, combined it with the old trope of an abandoned space colony, and given it a modern twist: Suppose the people on Mars are abandoned simply because, in the wake of the Great Collapse, Earth decides it doesn’t have the resources to feed them?

I also decided to give full attention to both sides of the abandonment: Earth and Mars. So I have two storylines running alongside each other; I hope it turns out well.

How can readers find you on the internet?
My website is a great place; I have pages dedicated to my works, listings of guest posts and interviews in the About page, and a blog, where I review books and occasionally movies.

I am also on Goodreads, and I welcome friend requests. Finally, readers can drop by my Facebook page.

Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today, Shannon!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

You're Invited!

You're invited to join us for the official Facebook Launch Party for The Messiah's Sign!

We'll be chatting it up about the new release, discussing the history and setting, Bible trivia, and having a BLAST while offering some great giveaways.

Here's a few of the items you'll have the chance to win! We're giving away over $75 worth of prizes!

Be sure to invite your friends, because one we're giving away a CO-HOSTESS AWARD!
This award goes to the person who has brought the most friends along with them to the party! Winner will receive the authentic Holy Land Gift Set with a Co-Host(ess) certificate!

Join the fun on our Facebook page!

Hope to see you there!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Author Interview with Nancy Bolton

Today I'm excited to introduce you to a friend and debut author! Nancy Bolton is a part of my critique group, and I've enjoyed getting a sneak peek at her work. She's a talented storyteller. 

Welcome Nancy! Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Well, I’ve been married for 41 years, have 5 sons and two grandchildren. Though I’m closing in on 60, inside I still feel about thirty! Maybe because over thirty years ago, my husband and I both converted and I think walking with the Lord keeps you young! Children and grandchildren do, too!

How did you discover your calling to be a writer?
Well, I’ve always turned to writing to express my inner thoughts and inspired bursts of insight, but never really considered writing novels. I was much too involved in child-rearing, and since I seem to be somewhat of a helper and peacemaker, I did spend a lot of time helping church folks understand each other. Though, that vocation didn’t always work out in a smooth way! Some of you know what I mean!
Anyway, once many of my duties eased up, I decided to do as my father asked and write a memoir about the time my husband and I moved out onto 5 acres of undeveloped rural land with our five small sons. I started with that book (which I’m finally re-editing and hoping to get it published) and decided to try my hand at writing fiction.

What books have influenced your life most?
As a Christian, and a very curious one, the Bible, of course. Then, the “Little House” books as a girl, then “The Grapes of Wrath,” Shakespeare, and many of the classics as a teen and adult. When I was 16, I read “Gone With the Wind” straight through in 25 hours!

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
I’d have to say Laura Ingalls Wilder. Her straight-forward, honest style of expression always spoke to me. And the way Shakespeare could use words to evoke emotion always captivated me. Still does!

What is your favorite time in History?
I’d have to say the 1890’s to the present. It’s such a span of rapid change, debate and struggle. Very rich turf for a writer!

What was the most outstanding thing you learned while researching for The Right Ingredients?

Because this is one of my only contemporaries, I didn’t research much while writing it. I will say that because this was my first finished novel, I learned some outstanding lessons on how not to write!
Please tell us about your book The Right Ingredients.
 In this book, I wanted to show how God can take a fearful person and gently open them up, the same way he causes a flower to open and bloom by giving it just the right conditions.

What do you want readers to take away from The Right Ingredients?
That every life needs the right touch from the Master’s hand, in order to grow.

Any fun behind the scenes tidbits you'd like to share with us?
Only that in the course of writing this story, I experienced the same highs and lows as a parent with their first child. I made lots of mistakes, and had to do a lot of damage control and hard work to get it presentable to the world. But I did enjoy the process, though at times I felt I’d never get the hang of it!

Were any of your character's personalities based on real life people?
 Yes. Ann’s nervous shyness about a romantic relationship and her constant wondering about spiritual matters are similar to my own experiences. And Tom’s gregarious, fun-loving family is similar to my husband’s.

What is the next project you're working on?
A story that takes place in the 1920’s.

How can readers find you on the internet?
Here are my social media sites:

About Nancy's Book The Right Ingredients:

Ann’s hectic work responsibilities demand all her time and effort, and what was once a useful, satisfactory life has become a burden. Her bakery partner Susan has lost none of her enthusiasm for their business, and Ann can’t understand her exuberance, or her friend’s Christian faith. So she trudges along, hiding her dissatisfaction from Susan, resigned to a life of work, sleep and problems.
Unexpected comments offered by two different people cause a crack in Ann’s armor and her thoughts careen into unexpected directions. Attention from a young widower with a son challenges Ann’s resolve to stay safe and uninvolved. Susan’s example of faith through trial furthers Ann’s curiosity about God. Ann must choose to step toward the unfamiliar freedom of giving and receiving love, or stay in the shadows, stuck in the grip of past hurt and long-standing barriers.

Check out Nancy's book on your favorite retailer website!
Barnes and Noble: To buy on Barnes and Noble
Prism Book Group: Prism Book Group

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Devotional: Unbelievable Amounts of Fruit

Author and friend Michele Huey is hosting me on her inspirational blog, God, Me & a Cup of Tea. Here's a teaser:

Be patient therefore, bretheren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. ~James 5:7

I volunteer about half my time at a non-profit ranch in the Ozarks. One of the many things I help with is the harvest of pears when they are ready for picking. We went out to the  tree with ladders, baskets, sheets, and set to work. It was absolutely unbelievable how many pears were on that single tree! We picked bushels and bushels of pears until we had them coming out our ears. A lot of pears were eaten before they even reached the house. Some were stored in boxes in the cellar. We froze gallons of them, gave some away, and still some went rotten before they could used. Then there were the pears at the top of the tree that were too high for us to reach. How was it possible for ONE TREE to produce SO MUCH FRUIT?

Click here to read the full article:

I hope you'll stop by and join the conversation!