What is a visceral response?

Visceral. Don’t you just love that word? A Judge’s comments that you need more visceral responses in your submission. A professional editor adds the comment, needs more visceral in your manuscript.

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There is no way you’re going to ask what it means. Don’t want anyone to discover you’re a novice, after all.

Now here’s your chance to find out. No one will notice you reading this on your phone.

After checking into several dictionaries, this adjective is used to describe things you feel in your gut, intuition, not a rational explanation, but you feel you know what’s best.

Visceral is derived from the word viscera. This refers to internal organs.

It’s not just a gut feeling, but a physical response to your environment. One beyond your control. Delilah James, the main character in my upcoming July 2021 release, Rescuing Her Heart was an abused wife. Every look, touch, and tone from Jed Holt, my hero, and any other male causes a visceral response. Her stomach tightens, her throat dries out, and at one point she faints. All involuntary responses.

Visceral responses are beyond your control. Think of a dirty diaper creating a gag response. Someone vomiting, causing others to do the same. Involuntary responses to stimulus.

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Describing visceral responses  adds to deep POV. Rather than saying, she hated Mortemer. You could write, Sharon’s hand fisted, causing the muscles in her forearm to ache when Mortemer entered the room.

Mary jerked back from the edge of the railing as light-headedness overtook her.  

With this sentence we don’t need to explain she is afraid of heights.

John’s face remained neutral, but his gut burned at Sherman’s remark. “I’m hooking up with Sally tonight.”

We know outwardly he is trying to be nonchalant, but he’s really upset.

Carol’s sweaty palms slipped off the golf club. She paused to wipe them on her shorts, before resuming the game of mini-golf.

Sweaty palms signals the reader she’s nervous. Did you want to wipe your hands on your pants just reading those words?

These are examples of visceral responses. (Although there are many better ones in print.)

They turn a flat character into a three-dimensional one.

The reader is experiencing what the character is feeling.

Visceral responses are so much more colorful than saying he had a panic attack.

Instead an author can add beads of sweat forming on his brow, chest tightening, breathing shallow, heart racing. He may he struggle to sit down. His shaky hand presses against his chest. His mind’s foggy or racing with thoughts of a past trauma. He might even roll up into the fetal position.

Love can be described as a tingle running down her arm, heart racing, warmth on her cheeks. And there are many more.

Past experiences are recorded in our brain and those memories effect, how we respond to people and situations around us. Your characters should do the same.

So, now you know. You can wipe those beads of sweat off your brow and grab a glass of water for your parched throat.

What are some of your favorite visceral responses to write?

Rescuing Her Heart is available for preorder. Preordering is a great way to get your copy as soon as it ready and it helps with my sales numbers out the gate.

As her husband’s evil deeds and abuse haunt a mail-order bride from the grave, can she learn to trust again and open her heart to true love?

On visitation rounds as a lay preacher, the last thing rancher Jed Holt expects is to be shot at from the barn next to a burned-down homestead. But the soot-covered woman hiding inside needs protecting, and Jed is the man to do it whether she likes it or not.

Delilah James’s nightmares began when she came to Kansas as a mail-order bride. Her husband was nothing like his letters. Now that he is dead, she can’t shake his abuse from her heart. Trusting men tops her never-again list, and taking a job on the Holt ranch as a housekeeper is a means to save money and bring her parents west. But her attraction to the compassionate former chaplain both angers and confuses her.

Jed has his own nightmares from a POW camp and understands Delilah better than she knows. Can two broken people form a forever bond?

Click here to learn about me.

Denise Weimer shares the funny thing about her newest release Bent Tree Bride

Denise Weimer is a wonderful editor and I dearly love her novels, both contemporary and historical romances. I’m  happy  she’s agreed to return as my guest. My specific question for Denise was what surprised her most during her process of writing Bent Tree Bride? Here is her answer.

If I had to pick only one thing that surprised me in writing Bent Tree Bride, I’d mention the rather shocking fact that this novel was researched and written in about six weeks. Before you rule it out as inferior historical fiction, hear me out!

This project came at a time right after I’d really immersed myself in my editing training and my new job as a managing editor with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. So first of all, my mind was working in efficient editor mode. I found myself cutting the fluff as I went, writing much tighter, and focusing on the romance and action. Because I was working in my favorite trope, Southern American frontier romance, the story fairly poured out.

The time frame did not mean I skimped on research either. I compiled a 45-page timeline crammed with historical events and topics, maps, and paintings. I watched knife-fighting and tomahawk-throwing videos. I even attended a living history at the site of the battle, Horseshoe Bend, which culminated the Red Stick War (part of the War of 1812 in present-day Alabama).

I’m not sure I’ll ever again match the pace I set when churning out Bent Tree Bride, but that’s okay. It’s a labor of love, and I believe it’s my best writing yet. Will you give it a try?

BACK COVER COPY FOR BENT TREE BRIDE:

Susanna Moore can’t get him out of her mind—the learned lieutenant who delivered the commission from Andrew Jackson making her father colonel of the Cherokee Regiment. But the next time she sees Lieutenant Sam Hicks, he’s leading a string of prisoners into a frontier fort, and he’s wearing the garb of a Cherokee scout rather than the suit of a white gentleman.

As both Susanna’s father and Sam’s commanding officer, Colonel Moore couldn’t have made his directive to stay away from his daughter clearer to Sam. He wants a better match for Susanna—like the stuffy doctor who escorted her to Creek Territory. Then a suspected spy forces Moore to rely on Sam for military intelligence and Susanna’s protection, making it impossible for either to guard their heart.

BIO:

Denise Weimer writes historical and contemporary romance and romantic suspense, mostly set in her home state of Georgia. She’s authored a dozen traditionally published novels and a number of novellas. As a managing editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, she also helps others reach their publishing dreams. A wife and mother of two daughters, Denise always pauses for coffee, chocolate, and old houses.

Grab a copy of The Witness Tree while it is on sale.

The Witness Tree, on sale April 5-12 for 99 cents in e-book: https://www.amazon.com/Witness-Tree-Denise-Weimer/dp/1645260623/

*The hero of Bent Tree Bride is a boy in the mission school for the children of Cherokee chiefs in The Witness Tree.*

(Cindy here) I’m excited to read my copy of Bent Tree Bride, I loved The Witness Tree and recommend if you haven’t read it first, do so. But Bent Tree Bride can be read as a stand-alone.

Pitch a pocket idea to an Editor

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I’d not heard the term before, but it perfectly described what is needed when pitching a manuscript to an editor. “in my pocket,” is any other manuscripts I might have finished, am working on, or have on my mind.

What else you got?

When you get fifteen minutes to pitch your work you don’t want the meeting to end too soon by presenting an idea that doesn’t grab the editor. Maybe they have already acquired something similar, or they are hoping for a different twist. That’s when they’ll ask, “What else do you have?”

It’s scary to say nothing or sit there in silence with sweaty palms. Instead, pull something out of your pocket. Have a sell sheet or pitch ready for that other book you’ve been writing or outlining. I pitched my idea for my October release off the cuff to a couple of publishers. The idea had been floating around in my mind, but I’d not done anything with it. They liked the idea and I got to work on book one in the Village of Women series, Angelina’s Resolve. I prepared a proposal and a summary of the book and a series.

A different publisher picked up Angelina’s Resolve and the Village of Women series. But if I hadn’t pulled that pitch out of my pocket I might have missed an opportunity. The idea for my July release Rescuing Her Heart was another pocket pitch. I wanted to write Jed ‘s story. He is the twin of Lonnie in my novella Healing Hearts in The Cowboy Novella Collection. Now it is book#2 in that series.

Pitch an idea for a different genre

A fellow author was at a book expo and although she wrote fiction she pitched an idea for a cast iron cookware cookbook to an academic publisher as she chatted with them about what they published. They like her idea and offered a contract. Then she set to work making that book a reality. This was her debut book, not what she had been focusing on but the notoriety from this book from a well-known publishing house may be just the catalyst to open doors for the kinds of books her heart desires to write.

I’ve heard the same thing time and time again from other writers. “I went to pitch ABC and they asked what else I had and requested the manuscript for XYZ.”

Fill your pocket with other ideas

As conference season is upon us again prepare not only the pitch for your completed manuscript and proposal but those might be nice ones too. Create a sell sheet with a summary of the story, word count and estimated time of completion. Your story may deviate from your original summary as your characters reveal more about themselves or your research takes you in an unexpected direction, but the idea is on paper. You’re ready to pull out of your pocket whatever else you think the editor might be interested in. They may even point out other editors who are better suited to your story ideas.

Have you ever pulled an idea out of your pocket that you hadn’t plan to pitch? Did it lead to a contract?

An Interview with best selling author Eva Marie Everson

I am beyond thrilled to have Eva Marie Everson as my special guest today. I’ve known this outstanding lady since starting my chapter of Word Weavers here in Illinois. She is the founder and president of Word Weavers International. Word Weavers made a profound effect on my life and I’m honor to have her grace my blog.

Yeah, a bit of a fan. Welcome Eva. I like to start by asking authors to share a little about their writing journey.

  I’ve written as far back as I can remember, and before I could put pen to paper, I made up stories and acted them out in the backyard of my childhood home. In 1996, I began writing for a children’s ministry. Then, in 1997, I began working on my first novel. Somehow, I knew it would be published! And it was; it was my third book published of the forty I’ve published since.

Forty is an impressive number. What is your latest published project?

  Dust

What inspired you to write your book?

The book came as an idea that formed after hearing the song Dust in the Wind by the 1970s rock band KANSAS. I questioned whether the lines in the chorus were true—are we just “dust in the wind” or do our lives really matter? And what about those who seem to be the “ordinary lives” of “ordinary people”? Can they leave extraordinary legacies? The story followed from there.

Wow! You have my attention. I have my copy and can’t wait to dig in. What kind of research was involved with this book?

I didn’t have to do a lot of research for this one. It begins in 1965 and goes to present time, all of which I lived through.

       So did it. 😊

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you? John 6: 68: Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Such a powerful verse.

Here are two questions I love asking authors.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing, what would that be?

 Don’t wait. Do it.

Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

 My Word Weavers Page 6 group.

Word Weavers is a wonderful supportive on so many levels.

Writers are told to read. What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

I read a variety for fun and I am hopelessly hooked on anything by Richard Paul Evans. We don’t write alike, but my books are often next to his on bookshelves (Evans/Everson). So, since he is a multi-multi-multi bestseller, that doesn’t hurt me too much! 😊

I’ll have to check him out.

Before you go, I want to know where is your favorite place to write?

 In my office. I seem to slide into another world when I’m here (I’m here now).

Thanks so much for stopping by.

I’m posting the back cover copy of Dust to tantalize my readers.

Can an ordinary life leave an extraordinary legacy?

In 1977, when nineteen-year-old Allison Middleton receives a proposal of marriage from Westley Houser, she eagerly accepts, having no idea the secret Westley carries—a secret that will change Allison’s life forever. But Allison rises to the challenge of raising Westley’s toddling daughter as though she were her own.

Over the course of their lifetime together, Allison, Westley, and Michelle form the strong bond of family. As Allison struggles with infertility and finding her way during a time of great change for women, others—some she knows and others whom she never meets—brush and weave against the fabric of her life, leaving her with more questions than answers.

From teen bride to grandmother, Allison’s life chronicles the ups and downs of an ordinary woman’s life to examine the value of what we all leave behind.

More about Eva Marie Everson

Eva Marie Everson is a multiple award-winning bestselling author of both fiction and nonfiction. She is the president of Word Weavers International, the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference, the managing editor of Firefly Southern Fiction, and a wife, mother, and grandmother. She and her husband are owned by a very spoiled cat. They make their home in Central Florida.

Connect with Eva Marie on social media

www.EvaMarieEversonAUTHOR.com

Eva Marie Everson’s Southern Novels on Facebook

Eva Marie Everson on Instagram

Eva Marie Everson on Pinterest

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Tips from My Own Writing journey

My debut novel Secrets & Charades released in 2017, ten years after I wrote the first draft and completed a fiction writing course. I received 21 rejections as I pitched that book to 21 different publishers. Each time I’d rewrite and improve the content based on what I was learning at writer’s conferences and on the suggestions I received from the publishers (if they gave any.)

I entered contests to get more feedback. I won the Editor’s Choice Award in 2014, which earned me coaching and edits to hone my story. That lead to publication. Since then, I’ve published two other novels with two more to release this year. And two more that have yet to find a home.

I learned a few important things during that ten-year journey from rough draft to publication.

  • Never give up on your dream.
  • Stay teachable, so you are approachable.
  • Network with other writers, editors, and publishers, you never know when the door will open for you.
  • Share what you know with novice writers.
  • Humbly receive critiques and advice from other writers.
  • Be thankful for all those willing to share their knowledge of publishing.

I discovered all these valuable tools while sitting in writer’s conference classes and workshops. I listened to the author’s journeys and found inspiration. I paid attention to changing trends and gained the encouragement to go on.

Authoring a book is hard work, getting it published is harder and marketing for good sales is the hardest of all. I went into this novel writing thing very naïve of those facts. I assumed because publishers requested my manuscript after my pitch that they would scoop it up. Had I known these same publishers review hundreds of manuscripts a month and may only choose a handful, I might have been less devastated.

If you are just starting your writing journey, learn all you can. And for the published author, never stop learning.

Hope this bit of encouragement benefits someone today.

Do you have a word of encouragement for other authors? Share in the comments.

Coming soon!!!

Rescuing Her Heart, book #2 of the Healing Heart Series releases July 6, 2021 and is available for pre-order.
https://www.amazon.com/Rescuing-Her-Heart-Healing-Hearts/dp/1645263193

A visit with Carol Grace Stratton and a Giveaway

Headshot session for Carol Stratton

I am excited to have author Carol Stratton on my blog today. I love her work and hope she inspires you as a write and piques your interest as a reader.

Welcome Carol, let’s start this off with a bit about your writing journey.

When I was in sixth grade, our town paper published an essay in their “Youth Said It” column. That was a thrill and seeing myself in print planted a desire in me to be a published writer. In high school I lived through a hilariously humiliating first date. I submitted it to McCall’s magazine and of course was turned down, but it started me thinking about writing. In college I started to major in English until the head of the English department (himself, a Pulitzer prize winning poet) would write snarky comments in red pen on how I might want to find another major. I put writing aside.

What a horrid man. Obviously, he was wrong.

It wasn’t until 9/11 that God turned a key inside of me and released my passion for communication. I typed up my thoughts on the national tragedy, walked over to our local newspaper, handed the editor my piece and held my breath. He skimmed through it, nodded, and said those magic words – “I’ll take it.”

When my babies grew up and left the nest, I remembered my earlier desires to write and attended Write to Publish in Wheaton Illinois one summer. I wrestled with believing I really was a called writer and prayed for a sign. After the conference I attended church with one of my friends and in the middle of worship, I began to cry. Well, I’m not a crier so I knew God was speaking to me. Suddenly He told me, “Pursue joy and comfort others.” That’s all he said. Not, “Become a novelist,” or “Write devotions.” But I knew it was His way of pushing me forward because it’s truly a joy to share my words with readers.

How wonderful.  

Expand on your calling to create words on paper to share with the world.

It took a while to realize I wanted to write. My creative outlet as a young mom had always been music, especially writing songs. But writing music became frustrating. When I figured out I could express myself better with words, and there was a pathway to sharing my stories, I was one happy camper.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

Yes, “Commit to the Lord whatever you do and he will establish your plans.” Proverbs 16:3.

I love that one. 

Now, let’s talk about your latest project.

Deep End of the Lake. It’s a sequel to my first novel, Lake Surrender.

How did you research for this book?

I lived in Michigan and worked with autistic children so most of my story is from memories of life up north.

What inspired you to write this particular book?

Working in an autistic classroom I wanted to write about my students. I also wanted to show the struggle that parents have with a child on the spectrum. These families tugged at my heart.

Next I’d like to ask tow of my favorite questions.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice for your younger self about writing what would that be?

 Write for the love of it, for the ministry of words. Don’t wait for family or friends to get on board and encourage you. Often they won’t understand.

So very true. Now, Who is your best support system to keep you focused on your writing?

My husband. At first didn’t understand my intense desire to keep on writing even when I had so many rejections (33 on a middle grade novel I’ve never published but who’s counting?) but now he’s my cheerleader and my literary muse as he helps me with my book titles.

That’s so sweet.

As a writer I’m an avid reader. What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Cozy mysteries and chick lit (humorous).

And my last question comes from the curious minds of new writers. Where is your favorite place to write?

I’d love a warm July day where I can stretch out on a lounge chair overlooking a Michigan lake. Anyone want to offer me a rental? Me too.

More about Carol Stratton:

A novelist, reporter and freelancer, Carol has penned 500 articles, and four books, Changing Zip Codes, the award-winning debut novel, Lake Surrender, (inspired by her work with autistic students), The Littlest Bell Ringer and the sequel to Lake Surrender, Deep End of the Lake. She loves to connect the modern woman to the truths of the bible through her stories.

An avid hiker and baker she also speaks to women’s groups such as Mothers of Preschoolers. Married to her literary muse, John, they have four children and eight grandchildren and reside in Clemmons. She loves to encourage new writers and readers who have moved.

Here’s the link to order her book:

You can connect with her at:

Carolgstratton.com. (website)

Twitter: @carolgstratton

FB: Carol Grace Stratton

Carol is offering a Kindle giveaway for her new novel.

Here is the back cover copy:

Who Says Giving Up Dreams Isn’t Success?

Ally Cervantes has all she wants in life—an upcoming wedding, a chance to prove herself with a writing gig, and two great kids. But her life turns for the worse when the unexpected happen and she soon finds herself struggling with a rebellious teen daughter, a shaky job, and a shakier engagement. With her newfound faith acting as a life preserver, Ally discovers if you’re in the deep end of the lake, you’d better learn how to swim. Although fiction, Deep End of the Lake, is written from the authors’ personal compassion for families who have the privilege and responsibility to care for a child with a disability. Having worked with autistic students, Carol has seen first-hand the stress and demands these parents face and wanted to capture in a story those pressures, all while providing the encouragement that a beautiful hope and faith can bring into the struggles.

It’s simple to enter the giveaway. Comment below and your name will be put in the drawing. Carol will draw a name Friday, April 2nd and contact the winner.

Click on the cover for a sneak peek.

Scots-Irish, Saint Patrick’s Day, and historical research

My family coat of arms

In March we find green decoration and clothing in honor of St. Patrick’s Day and Corn beef and cabbage on the menu in restaurants. And for those who live in Chicago, they dye the Chicago River green. Just so you know, the Irish do not celebrate St. Patrick’s Day eating corned beef and cabbage. That’s an American thing.

By the way, not all Irish are Catholic. My ancestors came from Ireland in the 1840s. They came through the port of New Orleans and they were Presbyterian. More specifically, they were Scots-Irish. Presbyterian Scots who immigrated to Ireland centuries earlier after William of Orange (Protestant king of England) conquered Ireland. Irish lands were awarded to those Scots who fought for the crown.

From the study of World History we see monarchs of different faiths moved their people into the conquered country to spread their religious beliefs. And those beliefs take a variety of forms, which is why a great deal of immigrants, even today, come to America for religious freedom.

Scots-Irish Presbyterians were no exception. The Irish did not embrace the interlopers. They were passed over for better jobs. (Sound familiar) Many Scots-Irish left Ireland for a better life in America.  They believed America offered them the opportunity to break through class barriers.

 Any immigrant from Ireland who came to America however, be they protestant or catholic in the 1800s were spurned and considered less than human by some. Most could only get the least desirable jobs, at least in the colonized part of America. Many became law-enforcement or entered the military.

 Moving away from New York and other large cities gave them the opportunity to better provide for their families. In the book The Other Irish: the Scots-Irish Rascals who made America, by Karen F. Mc Carty traces the history of the Scots-Irish in America. I discovered they were often offered homestead opportunities in areas that had problems with the Natives or during the time of colonization by the French. The Irish were the barrier between the wilderness and civilized people. Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, and Andrew Jackson were among some of the notable Scots-Irish who made a difference in America’s early history.

Pictured above is Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett and Andrew Jackson.

During the Civil War, any Irish immigrant who got off the boat was offered citizenship, in exchange for fighting in the war. There were Irish units on both sides of the cause. New immigrants didn’t care about the reasons behind the war, only the reward of citizenship. Many died before they achieved their dream of a better life.

When I think of St. Patrick’s Day I don’t think of green beer and rabble rousing but a man who cared deeply about the Irish people and God. That same deep faith came with the Scots-Irish when they came to America.

As a writer, I find the faith element important in my stories. As a historical writer, I want it to reflect the time period of my setting. And as one of Scots-Irish descent, I want to honor my heritage by getting the facts right.

Although they claim everyone is Irish in St. Patrick’s Day, where do your ancestral roots lie?

Who is your biggest encourager for your writing success?

My mother died a few weeks ago. She was my biggest supporter and fan from the very first poem I wrote in third grade until the day she died. Until she could no longer see well-enough to read, she read every word I wrote. Her encouragement kept me pressing forward, crafting words.

Mom loved her kindle she could make the words extra large
and enjoy reading once again. She loved a good story.

Writer’s need to surround themselves with encouraging people. I am grateful for my writer friends and my sister, Linda, who fill the void my mom left. Building a fan base is hard, stepping out to gather them in is an even bigger challenge.

That’s why I need my cheering section. I need my Word Weavers and ACFW critique partners. Without their input, I wouldn’t be publishing my fifth and sixth historical romances in 2021.

The writer friends I’ve met at conferences and in writer groups on social media make me feel less like an odd-ball while crafting fiction. I need the Serious Writers Family Facebook group and Serious Writer Club to give me additional tools to market my work. I need my editors who have such a gentle way of helping me polish my novels.  

Everyone one of these wonderful writers has become like family to me. And after losing my mom, they are more precious than ever. Some have so much more experience and can offer me wisdom and insights into writing craft. Others are like younger siblings. They look to me for help and encouragement.

Writing is a lonely endeavor. And if I had isolated myself, I’d have become weary and my words stale. And I am confident, without their support, that my mother’s passing would have derailed me and I would have given it all up.

Because of this wonderful support, I’m getting my writing legs back and doing a slow plod toward the goals I need to reach before my next book releases. My creative juices are finding their flow.

I know my mom is looking down from Heaven able to once again see every word I am writing. The thought makes me smile and empowers me to keep writing.

Who is your biggest supporter?

Check out my upcoming historical romance newest release. It’s available on Amazon for preorder.

Tips for doing research for an historical novel

One of my husband’s ancestors. Great resource for period clothes.

If you’ve been following my blog for any amount of time, you know I write Historical Romance. And one of the key things any historical writer or fiction writer in general needs to do is research.

When I get a germ of an idea and the plot noodles around in my mind, I do research. It can take days, weeks or months depending on how familiar I am with the time period, setting and other details beforehand.

Let me share how I research my first novel Secrets & Charades

The idea of a female doctor going west as a mail-order bride formed in my mind. I knew nothing about female doctors in the mid-1800s or if they existed. I’d read mail-order bride stories but didn’t understand the process. My thoughts on ranching came from watching Bonanza and Big Valley as a kid. And although I’d lived in Texas for a while as a child, I still needed to research setting.

Google it

First, I used the internet to answer some basic questions. Were there female doctors in that time period? Who were the notable ones? What was the male view of female doctors?

 I looked at historical maps (which are really hard to see online) for setting and railroad lines. And checked out ranching of the period.

Pinterest has boards of wonderful pictures of historical dress.

There are websites with photos of the time period and models in period dress. Those photos helped me describe the clothing. I found some interesting faces that helped me picture my characters.

And there are YouTube videos on a variety of historical subjects, from guns to preparing food in a fireplace.

Books, books, books

Where I really hit the mother lode of research was the library and used books on Amazon. My local library has a wonderful atlas of period maps. I was able to see the geography of Texas more clearly and where the railroad lines traversed the state in 1870.

I found diaries and biographies from women of the period, and books about cowboys and ranching. Large coffee table books with town scenes showed me the architecture of the time, and photos of homesteads and ranches. That’s where I learned about soddies and a dugout homes. I spent way too much timing reading about food preparation and how to cook a roast in a fireplace.

Those same books were great reference material for my last for historical romances.

Reenactments

I went to a Civil War reenactment encampment and ask lots of questions of the man playing the doctor. That information along with the research I did on female doctors helped me shape Evangeline’s backstory.  I used the Civil War reenactors’ insights to create a deeper backstory for Jake.

Living History Display

I purchased a few out-of-print books explaining the customs of the 1800s.

Some writers use historical accounts from their own families as a basis for their novel. I have some miners as minor characters in my recent novel WIP. My Welch ancestors moved to Southern Illinois and open coal mines. Mining was more privatized in the 1800s and that information changed the way I approached my setting.

Makes it feel real

Research is so important for believability. But you only need a sprinkle of details through historical novels to bring the setting and characters to life. Readers want to feel like they are there but not get bogged down with a history lesson.

Lastly

And one last key thought. You need to have a passion for what you are researching. Then the story you create is richer because of your investment in your research.

How do you research and what is your favorite resource?

12 Tips to prepare for interviews

Lawyers are always told never ask a question you don’t already know the answer too. And so it is when a writer is preparing for an interview. Here are tips to get you ready for just that.

  • Write out a series of questions about yourself and the book you will be promoting. Tailor them to various scenarios. Questions surrounding your writing journey, the what-if moment of your book, and how you got from page one to the end. Write out twenty questions knowing they will only ask a few of them.
  • Write out the answers to those questions. Then practice before a mirror answering those questions until the responses sound natural.
  • Often an interviewer will ask for a media kit. This is that lovely packet of info about you and your books. Include a series of suggested questions. Pick your favorite questions to include. This helps both of you to have a smooth interview.
  •  Having prepared a string of possible questions if the interviewer likes to interview off-the-cuff (I hate those) the answers you give will sound natural because they will more than likely be a variation on the list you prepared.
  • Practice your physical appearance. Sit up straight, don’t fidget, think about the position of your feet if you’re sitting. Do this before a mirror as well. If you can record yourself, you can correct things that might distract from your interview. I find myself wanting to itch my nose or push tiny strains of hair out of my face. It is very distracting on a video interview. While doing a radio interview, sit up straight and focus on the interview. Pretend the interviewer can see your face. I laid down part way through a podcast interview. When the interviewed aired, my voice dropped to almost a muffle at the point where I laid on the couch. UGH!!
  • Avoid filler words. If you ever took a speech class, you know what I mean. Rather than pause the speaker fills those spaces with Uh, you know, you know what I’m saying, ah, um and other slang word that become a distraction to the listener. After hearing a speech by the CEO of the company I used to work for, my co-worker had counted at least twenty times in his brief speech he’d said you know. Even though what he said was important, his pause words erased its value for that listener.
  • Talk slower. I talk fast, naturally. During a live interview, even a recorded one, you may find your voice speeding up, wanting to get every point in as quick as you can. Practice talking slower. Record yourself and listen to your pacing and pronunciation.
  • Don’t just focus on selling your book during the interview. Engage with your listeners. Save the last few minutes to give the audience the information needed for a purchase. If the interviewer asks if you have anything to add at the end of the interview, that is the perfect time to hold up your book, restate the title and give your buy links.
  • You don’t need to be perfect because your audience needs to feel they can connect with you. But you don’t want to sound so bad that it takes away from the message you want to get across. That’s why practicing the answers to your questions makes your conversation smoother.
  • Avoid profanity or words that may offend. Know your audience, you want to sound professional and prepared.
  • Know your audience so you can reach their felt need. As a romance writer, I don’t always focus on the romance elements in my books. I sold New Duet to a male veteran because my hero was a wounded warrior. I focused on the areas of my story that would appeal to my present listeners.
  • If the very idea of doing an interview terrifies you take a class. A public speaking class at your local community college is an option. There are organizations such as Toastmaster who can give you the tools you need to speak with confidence. Carol Kent’s Speak Up conference is a wonderful place to learn as well.

My last comment. Don’t be so critical of the details after hearing and seeing yourself in an interview that you crawl under your bed in humiliation. Each opportunity to share about your book you will get better. The interview I did where I laid down on my couch part way through to me sounded bad. I talked too fast and my voice wasn’t consistent. I was surprised to learn that interview was the most listened to podcast for three weeks running.

Do you have any tips to prepare for interviews? Share in the comments.

My novella Healing Hearts is part of this collection. It’s the prequel to my upcoming release Rescuing Her Heart. If you haven’t read The Cowboys here’s the link

Healing Heart

Lonnie Holt’s external scars remind him of his failures, his internal scars torment him. Genny Collins seeks safety at the ranch once owned by Lonnie’s uncle. When Lonnie and his brother arrive, sparks fly and distrust abounds. While Lonnie and Genny fight the love growing between them, his past haunts him, and her past pays them a visit.

Rescuing Her Heart is available for preorder.

As her husband’s evil deeds and abuse haunt a mail-order bride from the grave, can she learn to trust again and open her heart to true love?

On visitation rounds as a lay preacher, the last thing rancher Jed Holt expects is to be shot at from the barn next to a burned-down homestead. But the soot-covered woman hiding inside needs protecting, and Jed is the man to do it whether she likes it or not.

Delilah James’s nightmares began when she came to Kansas as a mail-order bride. Her husband was nothing like his letters. Now that he is dead, she can’t shake his abuse from her heart. Trusting men tops her never-again list, and taking a job on the Holt ranch as a housekeeper is a means to save money and bring her parents west. But her attraction to the compassionate former chaplain both angers and confuses her.

Jed has his own nightmares from a POW camp and understands Delilah better than she knows. Can two broken people form a forever bond?