Other People’s Children Author Ellen Fannon shares her story

I’m happy to introduce Ellen Fannon as my guest today on Jubilee Writer. She is an author who fits my description of a Jubilee Writer. I hope you are encouraged by her story.  

My writing journey has been long.  I have always had an interest in writing, although life got in the way and my writing was put on hold for a long time.  About forty years ago, I wrote my first novel, sent it to every publisher I could find and was summarily rejected by each one.  So I put it aside.  Then, in 1993, I developed the idea for a pet care column for our local newspaper, The Northwest Florida Daily News, which I pitched to the editor.  He liked the idea, and I wrote the column, Pet Peeves, for six years before taking an oversea assignment with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. While on the field, among other things, I wrote news releases and newsletters. About five years ago, I pulled out my novel, completely revised it into a Christian novel, and attempted to get it published again, and again, with no success.  Meanwhile, I was starting on my second novel, Other People’s Children. Then four years ago, I attended a writer’s conference in Blue Lake, Alabama.  At that conference, I learned so much about writing, publishing, and marketing.  I also met James Watkins (an editor and editorial director, author, and writing teacher) who was the first person to give me encouragement on my second novel.  I sent it to every Christian publisher I could find, and finally, eLectio, a small traditional publisher offered me a contract.  I also learned about Word Weavers from Eva Marie Everson and became a member of the Destin Word Weavers group.  From that group, I learned even more, including writing opportunities.  Since then I have been published in One Christian Voice, Divine Moments, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and contracted for a series of ten devotionals for the fall Open Windows 2020.  I have also won two writing awards.

My latest published project was in Divine Moments, Remembering Christmas, which came out in November.

 

Ellen, tell us about your novel.

Other People’s Children is based largely (although highly fictionalized) on my husband’s and my ten years’ experience as foster parents. My research was living the experience. Lol.

 

Several things inspired me to write Other People’s Children. First, I felt it was a timely book with a story which needed to be told.  With a child entering foster care every 120 seconds in this country, the numbers of children in the system just keep growing. This is largely due to an increase in substance abuse by parents. Sadly, as the number of children in foster care grows, the number of available foster homes is decreasing. I highly recommend that anyone considering becoming foster parents read this book.

Second, I have not seen another book written from the perspective of a foster parent. Most books, movies, etc. portray foster parents in a negative light, which gives those who are truly trying to make a difference in a child’s life a bad name.

Third, I wrote it for entertainment.  Other People’s Children is the humorous look at a very imperfect woman whose concepts of how things should be and how things actually often collide.

Fourth, I wrote it to present Christ.  Although not “preachy,” I wanted the message to come across that the main character, although often falling short, tries her best to be a good Christian wife and mother, who will not compromise her beliefs for anything, including political correctness.

What a great concept and so relevant. When did you feel called to write?

I guess my calling came quite early, although I didn’t realize it.  From the age of three, I drew pictures and “told myself the story” aloud (since I didn’t know how to write) as I went along. At the age of six, I wrote a book about John Glenn’s first space flight.  I was always making up stories throughout school, and in high school, I was the editor of the yearbook and the literary magazine.

Definitely have the writing gene. What verse inspires you?

I have so many favorite verses it is impossible to pick one. But I especially like Rev. 7:9 “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count from every nation, tribe, people and language standing before the throne . . .”  There is nothing more beautiful to me than to hear someone praising God in another language; and to know that people from all over the world are my brothers and sisters and will be in Heaven all together is beyond imaginable.

 

Thanks for sharing that. I love to ask my guests what they would tell their younger writing self.

Wow, that’s hard.  I suppose I would tell myself to start taking my writing seriously, earlier.  It is much easier to get published if you are already published, which makes breaking into the writing arena a vicious cycle.  If I already had an established name as a writer, I wouldn’t be working so hard in my old age!  But I had other priorities when I was younger, so I don’t know that I would have had the time.

God had his perfect timing for you. Still like the idea of not putting it off as advice for young writers.

Who is your best writing support?

My Destin Word Weavers group is my best support system.  These amazing people give me encouragement, honest critique, and a fount of helpful information.  Moreover, in a field where competitiveness is the norm, this group of people is always willing to celebrate every individual’s victory or commiserate each person’s struggles, whether they be professional or personal. I have learned so much from these talented, godly people, and not just about writing. Every time I am with this group I can feel the presence of the Holy Spirit.

What’s your favorite genre to read?

I read a lot of contemporary fiction.  My favorite is light, clean humor, like Kristen Billerbeck’s novels. But I also love medical and legal thrillers, suspense, and just about anything with a good story.

Where’s your favorite place to write?

My favorite (only) place to write is at my computer in my bedroom.

 

Back Cover of her five-star review novel: Other People’s Children

A journey about becoming the mother to more than forty children!

As a mid-thirties childless woman, Robin has all the answers on proper parenting. It doesn’t take long, however, for Robin to realize that her perfect parenting ideas and reality often collide – the result being an amusing journey of finding out that God, indeed, has a sense of humor. As she deals with the baggage, idiosyncrasies, unique personalities, and special gifts of each child that crosses her path, she finds that there is no “one-size fits all” to parenting. However, in spite of the challenges she and her husband face, they are determined to become the children’s strongest advocates in a flawed system that often fails the very victims it is designed to protect. The journey is often heartbreaking and frustrating, but these foster parents are firmly resolved that for whatever time they have children in their care, the children will know they are safe, protected, and loved by God, as well as by their foster parents.

 

More about Ellen Fannon

Award-winning author, Ellen Fannon, is a practicing veterinarian, former missionary, and church pianist/organist. She originated and wrote the Pet Peeves column for the Northwest Florida Daily News before taking a two-year assignment with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. She and her husband have also been foster parents to more than 40 children, and the adoptive parents of two sons.  Her first novel, Other People’s Children, the humorous account of the life of a foster parent, was released November 2017and is available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and the trunk of her car. She lives in Valparaiso with her husband, son, and assorted pets.

Please visit my website and sign up to follow my blog at: ellenfannonauthor.com/

The Northwest Florida Daily News,  nwfdailynews.com also posts my additional blogs online.  Please follow them there.

Other People’s Children can be ordered on Amazon:  www.amazon.com/Other-Peoples-Children-Ellen-Fannon/dp/1632134462.

Author Rebecca Waters shares how she started writing again after a tragedy

I’m delighted to have Rebecca Waters with me again today. Life events can happy which gets us sidetracked from writing. But it doesn’t have to be the end. I hope Becky’s story inspires you to press on and you discover a new author.

The Journey

by Rebecca Waters.

It was October 2014. Breathing on Her Own, my first novel, was a mere seven months old when my husband died in a bicycle accident. For months I lived in a fog. Although I had several “works in the mill” at the time of Tom’s death, I lost all interest in writing. I have often thought of that season of mourning as the time when the ink ran out of my pen.

 

I prayed about it. I know our days are numbered and trusted this was Tom’s time. I found comfort in that bit of knowledge. I also know God can see around the corners. I was sure He had given me the opportunity to write and publish because He knew I would need a dream I could lean on, something to occupy me, after that horrible October day.

 

Before Tom left this earth, even before Breathing on Her Own was released, I crafted two more novels and started a third. But even months after Tom’s death, I couldn’t bring myself to write. I wasn’t interested in talking with publishers. I felt guilty. I thought I was letting God down. He had given me this incredible opportunity and I was doing nothing with it.

 

I muddled through.

 

Eventually, I moved. First to a smaller house, then halfway around the world to the tiny southeastern European country of Kosovo. I accepted the challenge of teaching

Albanian fourth graders at an American school. Living in a different country was interesting, challenging, and rewarding. Moreover, I believe it fast-tracked healing in my life. While there, I managed to write a short blog post every week. It was all the writing I could muster. I did it mostly to assure my family I was safe, eating healthy, and making friends.

 

I had been in Europe for nearly seven months when a writer friend emailed me. She said, “I’ve been reading your blog. I don’t know if you realize this or not, but you’re writing again! You have your voice back!” She convinced me to submit my work to publishers via email. Encouraged, I submitted Libby’s Cuppa Joe to a publisher. Before I heard back, another small publishing house asked me if I had a story taking place in Ohio. They were putting together a collection of stories by Ohio authors with stories set in Ohio. They wanted a novella. I cut more than forty thousand words from one of my earlier works–in-progress and submitted it.

 

In June, when I returned to the United States, it was with a full heart and two publishing contracts. The novella was released in an anthology called From the Lake to the River in the fall of 2018.  Libby’s Cuppa Joe released in March 2019. I’m writing again. It feels good.

 

Now I understand. I didn’t let God down by not publishing after Tom died. I didn’t let God down when I didn’t feel like writing. He knew what was on the horizon. He knew I wouldn’t be able to write. He knew if I had forced myself to write during those early days following the funeral my stories wouldn’t be at all inspiring. They would be dark and sad so God gave me the books beforehand.

Libby’s Cuppa Joe has met with great success. It is the story of a young woman who opens a coffee shop in Door County, Wisconsin. But perhaps my favorite part of the story is the success of the Breakfast Cookies she serves at the shop. What makes those cookies special to me is that my sweet husband taste tested every recipe I tried. I know he would be happy I am once again finding joy in writing. Click here to buy.

 

Rebecca Waters Bio

 

Libby’s Cuppa Joe is Rebecca Waters’ second novel. Her first, Breathing on Her Own remains a successful stand-alone read. Rebecca has published several stories in the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul books as well as three books for writers: Designing a Business Plan for Your Writing, Marketing You 101, and Writing with E’s. To learn more about Rebecca or to read her weekly blog, visit www.WatersWords.com.

If you have any questions for Becky put them in the comments.

 

Dakota Peace author Megan Kinney shares her story

Today I welcome Megan Kinney. I received a preview copy of her debut novel Dakota Peace. it’s moving and wonderful. We’re going to learn about her journey and how she came up with the idea for Dakota Peace.

I’ve always loved to write, but I started writing fiction when I was pregnant with my first child over sixteen years ago. I was naïve enough to think that just because I had a great idea and the love of writing I’d be able to write a great novel. After my first rejection, I signed up for a correspondence course on how to write fiction, then I went to my first writer’s conference.  There I learned gobs of information about the writing industry, met some amazing people, and got my second rejection, but with it constructive criticism. Five years after writing my first novel, I completed my second and sent it to a publishing company for rejection number three. Four years ago, after a tragedy in my hometown, I decided to write in order to find closure. Two years later I went to another writer’s conference, and this time an editor liked my pitch, starting the two year process from rough edits to published manuscript.

I was inspired to write Dakota Peace after two police officers were killed in my hometown.  At the funerals, the same dispatcher who took the initial call when the officers lost their lives called the officers’ number over the first responders’ radios several times. Then in a ten-code she tells them their free to go home, to rest in peace, and that the other officers would take it from here. This tugged at my heart as I imagined the pain and courage of this dispatcher. In the following months, the story of a dispatcher struggling with burnout emerged.

Much of this story is from my own experience as a law enforcement wife and a foster parent as the main characters are searching for a kidnapped foster child. I ask lots of questions to experts I know whether they are dispatchers, police officers, nurses, or social workers. I had the unique opportunity to take a citizen’s dispatch course for four hours one night. That gave me firsthand knowledge of what a dispatcher does during a shift. Then lots of research is done looking things up online.

My favorite verse is Zephaniah 3:17. “The Lord your God is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you. He will quiet you with His love. He will rejoice over you with singing.” God delights over me whether the words are flowing or I’m struggling with edits or I’m just having a rough day. This verse says nothing about what I’ve done to earn His love because He loves me first.

If I could go back and give my younger self advice I’d tell myself to take every opportunity to learn about the craft of writing, start networking with other writers sooner and build a platform as soon as possible.

My favorite place to write would be either in my bedroom where I can look out over the neighborhood or at the lake, depending on what I’m working on and how much I need to concentrate.  Although I write modern-day women’s fiction, I love to read historical fiction. I love stepping into another time period through the pages of a well-written book.

Back Cover for Dakota Peace:

She went looking for peace, but trouble found her.

After a traumatic call, emergency dispatcher Natalia Brynner flees the city, desperate for some distance from her stressful life. Her peace is short lived when a flat tire strands her on the other side of South Dakota with nothing but her high heels and a speeding ticket. State Trooper Travis Wilkins offers to keep her company while she waits for a new tire, but the quick fix turns into an overnight stay which turns into an extended stay. She soon finds herself in the middle of a foster child’s kidnapping case helping the handsome law man. His presence doesn’t quite settle her anxious heart. With the support of her new friends and her blossoming relationship, Natalia starts to believe she could finally experience a peaceful life … until an armed madman threatens it all.

Facebook launch party is live today. 6-8 MST (& CST and 8EST) Here’s the link:

https://www.facebook.com/events/618959645602534/

 

More about Megan Kinney:

A foster mom and police wife, Megan Kinney combines her experiences and love of writing in her debut novel. When she’s not behind a book or computer, she’s enjoying the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband and four daughters.

Social media links:

megankinney.net

m.facebook.com/megankinney.net/

instagram.com/megan_kinney_author/

Buy links:

shoplpc.com/dakota-peace/

amazon.com/Dakota-Peace-Megan-Kinney/dp/1645262553

Also, Megan is offering a free e-copy of Dakota Peace to one lucky commenter. This is your chance to ask her about South Dakota, who resembles her police hero and dispatcher heroine. Or just to ask to be put in the drawing. The winner will be drawn on Friday.

 

Why price your book for free on Amazon?

I’ve run across more than one author who refuses to give their books away for free, for any reason. So why would I? My reason is simple. I’m investing in future sales and finding new fans. Amazon allows you to price your e-book for free or 99 cents for a few days a few times a year. This is a great way to get new readers. And a great way to find a new audience by using Bookio. Bookbub and other newsletter emails whose thousands of subscribers are looking for free or 99 cents book deals. They want to discover new authors in their favorite genres to add to their TBR pile. This gives great exposure and usually raises your sales rating on Amazon. I’ve found it successful in the past and am jumping on the bandwagon again.

The Cowboys, the novella collection my story Healing Hearts appears in goes on sale for free on Amazon from today, February 13th through the 17th.  Click link here. If you’ve never read this collection here’s your chance to read the e-book for free.

I used Bookio for my contemporary romance New Duet and it rose to #1 in Religious Contemporary Romance on Amazon during its free days. I’m hoping for the same result for The Cowboys this week in a different category, of course.

It will be offered in Bookio email list at the same time.

Click here to check out Bookio.

And to give me more exposure I’m part of the Love to Read Facebook Party. join me by signing up here. Several romance writers will be featured. We all get an hour each. I’ll be taking the 6pm Friday slot. I’m excited to meet potential new fans.

Additional exposure for the sale will be by my fellow-authors of The Cowboys who will post the sale on their social media multiplying my reach by four.

Why would I give my words away for free?

Let me repeat, I’m attempting to get more fans for one and building my sales numbers for another. These are essential if I want traditional publishers to be interested in publishing my work in the future. This is also important for those who self-publish, without the exposure, sales numbers will not grow.

Share any sales tips you have in the comments.

I’d love to see you at the Love to Read Facebook Party.  I’ll be featured at 6pm on Friday. Please stop by. Who knows you might find a few new authors to add to your TBR pile.

A character’s name must be distinct and not confusing

I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating make sure your character names are distinct. Why? What do I mean by it? If you’ve been following me you know I read a lot. One year I read 150 books. Yep, I’m addicted. So, I’m going to share a few character name rules that must not be broken and why.  Characters with similar names, names that don’t fit the character, the time period or are hard to pronounce.

Sound-alike

Sound-alike names confuse the reader. Remember those identical twins in your class who had names like Tom and Tim of Elisha and Alisha. Over time, their mannerism and quirks helped you tell them apart. Readers can find this confusing. I am reading a book with three boys named Daniel, Dean and Duke and two girls whose names are very close in spelling July and Julie. I’m confused trying to keep them straight because I don’t see them on the page like I would in a movie or TV. Anyone remember the three Darrels from The Bob Newhart Show. Or the multiple Nickys from My Big Fat Greek Wedding. They were easy to identify when they spoke because you could see them. It is best to have distinct names so the reader doesn’t have to sort them out.

Those of you who have read my novella Healing Hearts in Smitten Historical Collection: The Cowboys know the hero has an identical twin. Even though my hero has a scar, their names did not set him apart. Jedidiah and Zebulon had nicknames, Jed and Zeb. Two three-letter names that were could be confused. My critique partner suggested I change a name. Their birth names were twin sounding, but Zebulon’s nickname changed from Zeb to Lonnie. After introducing them as Zebulon and Jedidiah, They address each other by their nicknames. That’s what the readers remember. Jed and Lonnie are distinctive personalities and their names are different enough to keep them straight for the reader.

My WIP is the sequel to Healing Hearts, I’m telling Jed’s story. Here I find I’ve made this same mistake. I have Lonnie, Lilah, Lee, and Lemont. Lonnie has to stay because that was his name in Healing Hearts. Lilah was a nickname for Delilah. So I changed her nickname to Dee. Lee became Monty and Lemont at present hasn’t changed because he’s dead before the story starts but is mentioned often. The wonderful thing is I can use Find and Replace and change the name in a flash.

Names that fit the characters

Choose your character names carefully. If your hero is rugged and manly in every way Duke, Drake, Trey, Rocky, Clay, Dash, Tanner, Hunter for example. Any of these names aid in describing the character. These are great cowboy names. They could work for a military man along with Joe, Dan, Bud. Fred or George would not be as appealing for your macho hero.  A sidekick might be Abe, Sport or the most popular is Charley. The guy who doles out advice, is the rejected love interest, or the irritating little brother.

 

Our heroine, if she is in a historical, maybe Sally. Betty, Birdie, Maggie if she’s of a lower class while the socialite might have a name like Angelica, Beatrice, Margarette. Let’s face it a sophisticated socialite would never be named Cindy. Cynthia perhaps. That name was most popular in the 1950s and 60s as a baby name. And let’s not forget Cindy Lou Who from the Grinch Who Stole Christmas. Which brings me to my next point.

Time period

I read a lot of Historicals because I write Historical Romance. Finding a modern name for a character in the 1800s bothers me. Tiffany, for example, was a man’s last name in the 1800s. Tiffany made his mark around the globe for his jewelry. A baby name book will often give you the origin and most popular names of the period. Google the name. As much as you’d like to name your African American heroine Tamika if the setting is 1846 she’d more likely have a Bible name.

How do you say that name?

Fantasy writers often create names. Having an appendix with the phonetic pronunciation of characters’ names helps the reader not to stumble over it. If your novel becomes an audiobook, it makes things easier for the narrator. Some publishers don’t even ask your input when it’s in production. Afterward, you’re asked to read along with the narrator and send back any corrections. That means identifying every page, paragraph, and line. It’s painful to point out every place the name is mispronounced. Just sayin’.

There is much more that can be mentioned about character names but I’ll leave it with these basics.

By the way, my novella Healing Hearts part of The Cowboy novella collection will be free on Amazon starting Thursday, February 13th. If you love cowboy heroes grab a copy. The other three novellas in the collection are page-turners with swoon-worthy heroes. Click link after the 13th to order.