Best Selling Author Debora Coty shares her success story and a Giveaway

Today I am so honored to have a best-selling author on my blog. I hope her story inspires you to keep pressing in as a writer. And for those of you who are looking for something to help with stress you might try one of her devotionals. I’m getting ahead of myself. Debora Coty, welcome. Share a bit about your writing journey with us.

I was late to the writing party. I started writing professionally at age 45 when my youngest chick was about to fly the coop. At the time, I was a career occupational therapist (36 years) and piano teacher (25+ years) but felt like something was missing. I was supposed to be doing something else. Just couldn’t put my finger on it …

 

As I sat in a dentist’s office one day in 2002, praying about what that could possibly be, I reached down and picked up a magazine, then randomly opened it to a writing contest. A light bulb went on inside my head and I heard a still, small voice whisper to my heart: “It’s time.” I knew exactly what it meant. It’s time to chase the dream Papa God put in my heart as a kid: to write for His glory.

 

One enormous caveat: at the time I hadn’t written anything more than Christmas newsletters and medical charts for 25 years. So I took crash courses in grammar, punctuation, and creative writing, then found a mentor – a friend of a friend who had some experience in magazine publication.

 

My original goal was to have three magazine articles published during my lifetime. Largely due to my mentor’s input in helping me not look amateurish, I had ten published that first year.

 

Then I progressed to a newspaper column (which I still write today – kind of a Christian Erma Bombeck slice of life column). Then … books!

 

My first two books were YA historical fiction, and the third was a combination how-to/devotional for aspiring writers  – all three were published with a small press in South Carolina (Descriptions and titles of all my books can be found at my website www.DeboraCoty.com).

 

I was then able to land an agent, who opened the door to bigger traditional presses and better contracts, where I switched genres to women’s inspirational humor.

 

Now, 15-ish years later (don’t do the math), I’ve been incredibly blessed with over 200 published articles and 40 books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series, which has sold over 1.3 million books (and counting) in multiple languages worldwide.

 

I love how God grabs our attention in unexpected ways to show us His will. It is inspiring. So Debora, what is your latest published project?

 

The final two books in the Too Blessed to be Stressed series will come out within the next six months. Too Blessed to be Stressed: 3-Minute Devotional Journal for Women will release this December; Too Blessed to be Stressed: Devotions for Morning and Evening will release in February, 2021. And the original Too Blessed to be Stressed chapter book (which I call the “Mama book” because it birthed all the other “Baby Blessings” in the series) will be released in a lovely new slim-line edition this November.

 

What inspired you to write your Too Blessed books?

 

As with all successful nonfiction books, a societal “felt need” was first recognized: stress management. In this case I realized that women were seeking simple, doable tools to help them handle the massive stress they’re under these days, and practical encouragement to live their faith out loud through the fray.

 

My Too Blessed to be Stressed books are tailored to the needs of crazy-busy women – short chapters, applicable take-aways, pertinent scripture, lots of LOLs, and relevant (and often entertaining) real life stores to make memorable points.

 

I learned to specialize in sharing biblical truth gift-wrapped in humor.

 

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

 

Two, actually. My longtime favorite go-to scripture has been Phil. 4:6-7 NASB: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, through supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

 

Much of my Too Blessed to be Stressed material has come from my intensive study and life-application of this scripture.

 

As for my writing journey, my heart-sung praise passage in recent years has become Eph. 3:20-21 (NASB): “To Him who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly, beyond all that we ask or think, according to His power that works within us, to Him be the glory … forever and ever. Amen,” (emphasis mine).

 

I certainly never saw the label, “bestseller” coming, or the lovely writing awards with which I’ve been blessed. But I’ve always been a firm believer that if He wills it, He fulfills it … against all odds. And Papa God definitely has – exceedingly, abundantly, beyond all that I could ever ask or think, all through HIS power that works within me.

 

And if He can do that for me – an almost-over-the-hill, nonwriting hick from the sticks – He can surely do it for you, too.

 

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

Stop! Stop limiting your potential by fear, low expectations, or lack of energy.

 

  • Go ahead, boldly submit that piece! You won’t hit any baskets you never shoot.
  • If Papa God gave you the assignment to write, He’ll use your gifts and abilities. Now give Him something to work with.
  • “He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak,” (Isaiah 40:29). That means you.

 

All writers are encouraged to read. What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

My enjoyment of reading women’s inspirational humor is what prompted me to start writing it in the first place. I was then working two jobs, mothering, wifing (that really should be a word), and was heavily involved in ministry at my church. I asked Papa God for more hours in the day to get everything done. He sent me menopause. Then I had half the stinkin’ night to write too. I found that thanks to menopausal insomnia, I waxed most hilarious around 2 a.m.

 

I also enjoy becoming immersed in a good faith-based suspense novel or cozy mystery.

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

I’ve tried coffeehouses, as many of my writer buds prefer, but honestly, I’m far too distractible to make it work for me. [Squirrel??? Squirrrreeel?!!!]

 

I do better holed up in my writing cave (fam’s term for my home office), with a single sunny window capturing an inspiring view of my Creator’s beautiful handiwork, surrounded by happy memories via family photos and mementos galore, and motivational scriptures and quotes taped all over my computer desk. (Example from Corrie ten Boom: “Attempt something so BIG that unless God intervenes, it is sure to fail” – this was pretty much the only reason I finally tackled my 365-day devo, Too Blessed to be Stressed: Inspiration for Every Day, after I had fearfully turned down the project for two years).

 

Upbeat. Yep, I need upbeat vibes … and quiet. And chocolate. HEAPS of chocolate. My secret desk drawer stash currently holds three gigantic Cadbury bars (with almonds – breakfast of champs) and a bag of Dove mini’s (dark chocolate and mint swirl). There might be half a Snickers bar tucked behind the lamp too.

 

I call myself a choco-athlete, the step beyond chocoholic. I exercise just so I can eat more chocolate.

 

How can readers connect with you?

I love to have new friends join our fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) via my free e-newsletter and Too Blessed to be Stressed blog. Subscribe to both at my website www.DeboraCoty.com. Hugs!

More about Debora:

Debora M. Coty is an inspirational speaker and award-winning author of over 200 articles and 40 books, including the bestselling Too Blessed to be Stressed series, with more than 1.3 books sold in multiple languages worldwide. Debora was an orthopedic occupational therapist for 36 years and has been teaching piano for 30 years and counting. She adores swatting a tennis ball around a court, mountain hiking and beach biking. She lives, loves and laughs in central Florida with her longsuffering husband of 40+ years and 5 precocious grandpals who live nearby. Join Deb and her fun-loving community of BFFs (Blessed Friends Forever) at www.DeboraCoty.com.

Other links to engage with Debora:

Facebook: @authorDeboraCoty

Twitter: @deboracoty

Pinterest: DeboraCoty

We have a giveaway of her latest book Too Blessed to Be Stressed: a 3-minute devotions for Women. Just comment on this post and your name will be put in a drawing. Debora will contact the winner for contact information.

 

Zanne Marie Dyer Christian Counselor to Mystery Write and a Fun Giveaway

I’m delighted to have Zanne Marie Dyer with me today to share her transition from Christian clinical counseling to writing murder mysteries. She also has a fun giveaway. Thanks so much for being my guest today, Zanne. Please tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

As early as seven years old, I’d secretly ride my bike two miles, across a major highway, to get to the closest library. I’d sit on the library floor, like it was holy ground, pouring over books. Writing became a natural outflow of that young passion, scribbling ideas everywhere, even on my hands and arms. But life leads in many unexpected directions—mine led to a career in clinical counseling. My work put me in touch with many beautiful people, but where there are victims there are also offenders. It was at this same time, I met a few malignant criminal minds, up-close and personal. Strangely, these dark figures became an inspiration to not only write stories about crime and sociopaths, but to use words to bring light out of darkness.

You have me intrigued Zanne, the suggestion  that writers should write what they know resonates with your work. Now, talk about your latest published project.

 

My suspense novel, Dark Motives, has been recently launched. I’ve stylized this murder mystery to make readers feels as if they’re walking real-time beside the main character, Detective Jet Wholeman, as he solves a case of abduction and murder. Jet has definite skills, but he also has some serious distractions—a struggling marriage and an alluring journalist, busy weaving her web of seduction. Another layer of challenges emerge with the development of a local terrorist cell. This story has enough going on to entertain both men and women.

One of my objectives in writing this book was to recruit men to Christian fiction. By far, women are the greatest fans of this genre. I believe the lack of male interest is due mainly to the watered-down men portrayed in today’s books. With this in mind, I created an alpha-male detective. Jet has an irresistible, boyish charm—the type women crush on—but he’s also a guy that men can relate to. Although Jet is a flawed character, in danger of losing everything he holds dear, he faces many of the same challenges of a real man, in a real world. I believe this is one of the most significant factors in making men such big fans of this book. And for the record, this is not just another story about death and danger, but about the greater threat of a man about to lose his eternal soul.

I love your desire to grab male readers. My husband has begun to read more fiction since he retired. Strong believable male characters are so crucial to a great story. How do you research your books?

My husband specializes in criminal law, so he’s my go-to person for legal and criminal procedure. Also, his work puts me within reach of local police officers and detectives who’ve been kind enough to help me out. But my favorite research is in true-crime podcasts and television shows like Forensic Files, Criminal Minds (I fast-forward the darkest parts) and The Mentalist. I also love geographical, boots-on-the-ground research, and for Dark Motives this was a cakewalk—Fort Lauderdale is my hometown. The land of ocean, sunshine, palm trees and copious crime.

What inspired you to write your book?

As I said earlier, my background in psychology played a major part in my writing. I counseled many victims of heinous and violent abuse. Some of the offenders were not only untreatable but had a sadistic enjoyment for the pain they inflicted—clinical sociopaths. Some were so evil I wondered how they could possibly co-exist with the rest of us. Most mental health experts would say a sociopath is a combination of genetics and experience, but my faith told me there was something more. My quest to understand the warped wiring of these almost sub-humans intensified. With all of the research and information I had floating around in my head, it was only a matter of time before I was compelled to write a murder mystery. As I wrote, I made an unexpected, personal discovery. I realized that while I enjoyed helping victims in the healing process, my greatest desire was to stop the evil causing their pain. Clearly this is God’s job, not mine, but we all have our own flawed fantasy of justice; mine just happens to be expressed in a crime/detective novel. Uniquely, an author can use her imaginary super-powers to create good and abolish evil. Writing a book on good versus evil is pretty empowering, but the real power is in the Christian message.

Another great inspiration has been Word Weavers International. This large group of Christian writers provide support on many levels, but for me, the most profound help came in the form of their critique groups. In this format, members read an excerpt of a writer’s work and give skillful feedback about technique and content.

Yes, Word Weavers is a wonderful group. I’d recommend it to anyone wanting to improve their writing craft or a novice writer.

How did you create your story’s characters?

I think my characters are a combination of thousands of different people I’ve met throughout a lifetime. Some characters may be a combination of three separate people, others just pop out of my over-active imagination. But I’m sure I’ve met all my characters somewhere, at some time, and a few of them are still hanging around in the

dark corners of my unconscious mind.

 

When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

Since the day I became a believer in Jesus Christ, my desire has been to live-out my passion for him. When I first started writing, I told the Lord—If one person, just one person, becomes a believer because of my words, then I’ll deem myself a success. And I’ve stuck to that.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

Right now, I hold fast to a verse that I believe is most fitting for the times we live in. “Do not be overcome by evil,but overcome evil with good.” (Ro.12:21).

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

I’d tell myself—take writing classes! I’ve discovered writing is more than just fancy words and pretty adjectives. Stringing words together with clarity, visuals, and emotion is not only an art but a science.

That is so true. As a writer what is your favorite genre to read for fun?

To keep my writing sharp and up to date, I stick to the crime/detective genre.

But if I want to relax and escape, I go for historical fiction with a little romance thrown in.

Tell us, where is your favorite place to write?

I love a quiet place with a water view, but if I need a writing jolt, I run to the nearest coffee shop. But it’s much more than a caffeine fix I’m looking for. Somehow, the muted background noise of coffee dispensers, buttons and beeps, and quiet chatter seem to simultaneously calm and excite my brain neurons.

More about Zanne Marie Dyer

Zanne Marie Dyer resides in Daytona Beach with her husband and has three young adult children. As a former Christian Clinical Counselor, she became increasingly interested in the psychology of the criminal mind. Her dream to write has resulted in a new mystery murder novel, Dark Motives. She is now working on a sequel, focusing once more on Detective Jet Wholeman, and his unique style of tracking down homicidal killers. Additional projects include a series of devotionals on the mindset of being heaven-bound versus earth anchored.

Zanne is currently a Chaplain for Word Weavers International and provides periodic Christian counseling services at her local church. Her hobbies include water activities, painting, ballroom dancing, and spending time with her children and their families.

Connect with Zanne Marie Dyer:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/1951970551/

 

https://www.instagram.com/zannemariedyer/

 

https://m.facebook.com/zannemariedyer/

 

http://zannedyer.com/

 

https://www.goodreads.com/ZanneMarieDyer

 

 

Now for the GIVEAWAY

Zanne will do a giveaway for a copy of Dark Motives. Leave a comment here on the blog for a chance to win. A winner will be chosen from a drawing to receive a paperback copy. If you’re up to a fun challenge, please help name the killer/sociopath that will appear in her next novel. Simply add a first name in the comments section. This step is optional.

 

I know those who follow my blog are creative. Can’t wait to see the names you all post.

 

The drawing will be on Monday, September 28th, and Zanne will reach out to the winner for their contact information.

From one Book Addict to Another- Book Reviews

Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while has probably heard me mention I’m addicted to book. Here are a few I’ve read over the past few weeks that I’d like to share with you. I picked five from five different genres. I have read many more than these but it would make this post way too long and reveal just how addicted I am.

Historical Romance

Setting Two Hearts Free Book# 3 in Janet Grunst series is available for preorder. It releases November 6th. Reading the two previous books adds to the story. Those are A Heart Set Free and A Heart for Freedom.

I enjoyed my ARC copy of Setting Two Hearts Free it deals with rebuilding lives after traumas. Janet isn’t afraid to tackle the hard subjects. PTSD is not a new thing and Donald Duncan has to deal with it after returning home from the Revolutionary War. Well-researched, well-written, and very engaging. Once I read A Heart Set Free I’ve been a follower of this series. Buy link

Would their love survive the invisible wounds of war?

Donald Duncan joined the Patriot cause for noble reasons, battling the British while enduring deprivation and hardship on every side. The war has changed him, and now the battle is internal. Returning home to Virginia is in sight where a new life and his Mary wait for him.

Mary Stewart spends the war years with her family at Stewarts’ Green, helping them operate their ordinary. Daily, she prays for Donald’s safe return, eagerly waiting for him … until that day the evil side of war touches her.

Two hearts changed by a war that dragged on for six years. Two hearts left hurting and struggling to find the love and trust they once knew. Is there a path for them to rekindle what was lost; Setting Two Hearts Free?

 

Literary Fiction-Time Slip Genre

White by Denise Weimer book#1 of The Restoration Trilogy

This time-slip book uncovers a mystery in a family’s history. The author seamlessly takes us from modern time to the 1920s and back again.  I found this story both intriguing and educational. Denise takes the time to paint the setting and architecture of the restoration project in detail. There is no way a reader can’t feel like they are working alongside the preservationist. Can’t wait to read Book # 2 Buy link

In White: The Restoration Trilogy, Book One, as historic preservationist Jennifer and brooding bachelor Michael restore his ancestors’ historic doctor’s residence in a rural Georgia community, they uncover the 1920s-era prejudice and secrets that caused Michael’s branch to fall off the family tree. Jennifer is determined to fulfill her first professional position with integrity even if her employer lacks a proper appreciation of history. Far more challenging — and sinister — than the social landscape of Hermon are the strange accidents hinting that someone doesn’t want them on the Dunham property. Yet Michael’s and Jennifer’s pasts pose the biggest obstacles to laying a fresh foundation of family and community.

Time Travel Romance

I am a sucker for Time Travel stories and this one is unique. In Book 1 Cowboy Out of Time, a cowboy shows up in 1985 from 1885. He rescues Rose, the damsel who doesn’t know she’s in distress then they get engaged and disappear into time. I enjoyed their story and when the sequel came out I wanted to know where Hunt and Rose went. I wasn’t disappointed. The author has done a lot of research to make their rescue mission in Nazi-occupied France exciting. I love the author’s choice to break the rules a bit regarding what Time Travelers can and can not do. After all Time Travel is fictitious so why not make things more interesting by bending those rules. At times I thought the cowboy Hunt sounded a bit dumb. But he is a believable hero. Cowboys don’t back down from a fight. Rose manages to adjust to their plight and once the mission is complete they disappear into time again. Such a fun read. Buy link

Cowboy Ambushed in Time: A Time Travel Romance  Book 2 in the Rose Roamer Series by J. l Salter

Rose Roamer didn’t set out to become a time traveler. She and her brand new fiancé, Hunt Weston, just left 1985 south Alabama a moment ago. Now they’re huddled against a stone wall in a dark town somewhere else. Soon enough, they’re able to figure out their general location, but a lot depends on what year this is.

All Rose knows about Vector’s time travel assignments is that he’d sent a bewildered cowboy stranger 100 years into the future to save her life. In that process, they’d also fallen hopelessly in love. Now that they’re engaged, she assumes they are both being assigned to save somebody else — but who? Why? Where? And, importantly, when?

They’re about to realize how little they know about their new assignment from the mysterious Mr. Vector because he’s provided no explanations: just a torn poker card with a name, a place, and a date. Not much to go on when you zoom across time in the darkness.

A few things Rose knows for certain: it will be a lot different, quite difficult, and almost certainly dangerous. Something else on Rose’s troubled mind: who will they encounter in this different time and place?

Contemporary Second Chance Romance

I loved this realistic storyline of pain and restoration. There is a clear redemption message and we see the characters grow personally as well as being drawn together. Place the two troubled souls in a gossipy small town and you have a formula for a pot full of conflict. Well-developed and believable characters. I’ll be picking up the next book in the series when it comes out. Buy link

Matching Points (Driftwood Cover Series Book #1) by Nancy Farrier

Fresh out of prison, Asia Jessup wishes she could change her past and maybe her future. She has no family and no one to turn to, except for a newfound faith. She returns to the town where she spent a couple of idyllic summers to find the family she didn’t know she had. Her devastating secret won’t bring a joyful reunion. Will it destroy her last hope?

Ian Kittridge has his own thriving restaurant, is a respected business owner, and is active in his community. Thanks to a teenage Asia’s empathy one summer he’d been pulled back from the brink of ruining his life and ending up like his father-a murderer. He is working hard to eradicate the past and rise above the murmurs of “like father, like son.”

When Ian runs into Asia he can’t believe she’s returned to their coastal California town. Although he’s eager to reconnect, he isn’t looking for a serious relationship-he can’t take the chance of becoming his father. Asia can’t get close to Ian because of her shameful past and the sins of her mother and father. As Asia’s secrets quake the family she hoped to find, can she and Ian find their way through the storm, find a peaceful resolution, and look toward the future?

 

Christian Mystery and Suspense

This was a creative, fun read. I’m a fan of Leverage, a TV show about a group of con-artists who righted wrongs for the underdog. The Mischief Thief has the same mixture of intrigue and compassion. Most of the background was well-researched and the scenes were believable. The blood transfusion scene not so much. (I spent years working in a blood center which makes me a bit picky over details.) Despite that one scene I thoroughly enjoyed the novel. Watching Chaney change and Adam stretch beyond the boundaries of his comfort zone made this mystery so intriguing. Buy Link

The Mischief Thief (The Mosiac Collection) Rose and Thorne Book 1 by Johnnie Alexander

Two wrongs don’t make a right . . . except when they do.

For con artist Chaney Rose, life hasn’t been easy. In desperate need of cash, she readily agrees to find Mischief, a stolen racehorse. Hunting for clues, she breaks into the suspected horse thief’s home only to be caught—with a few pilfered items in her pockets—by the police detective who’s tailing her.

By-the-book Adam Thorne was fired from his church because of his father’s involvement with the valuable thoroughbred. In a burst of Les Miserables-inspired grace, Adam tells the detective that he gave Chaney the stolen items.

Adam wants Chaney to find his missing father. When Chaney learns that Mischief’s owner intends to kill the racehorse, she needs Adam’s help to expose the cruel plan before it’s too late.

Will a con artist with a conscience and a minister without a ministry risk imprisonment to do the wrong thing for the right reason?

What are some great books you’ve read recently? Please share and feed my addiction.

How an Iceberg is a Metaphor for a Great Story

Icebergs. I was thinking about icebergs this week.  The movie Titanic came to my mind, dragging with it the factual research I did just because I love learning about real events. That and more flowed through my brain in a moment of time along with the metaphor for writing a great story.

In case you’ve never thought about an iceberg, let me explain its deception. What you see floating on top of the water is only a fraction of what lies beneath.  A great story should be like that. The first page expands to the first chapter and holds your interest. Then as you turn the pages you go deep below the surface and find out the unexpected, the hidden things. Those parts of the story that bring it to life and take you on the adventure.

The iceberg which the Titanic hit was unexpected. It appeared smaller in the dark than it was, and the tragic adventure awaiting those unfortunate enough to draw near became the fate of the passengers.

Now, I’m not saying our novels should make people regret they read it.  Rather it should surprise them. The first page is in the middle of the action. The reader sees the action and wonders why and what is happening. If we throw a lot of backstory in the first chapter, then it resembles an inverted iceberg where all the height and breadth of it is there for all to see. Classic authors like Jane Austin and Charles Dickens began their books in such a way, telling us the why of the story and revealing the characters’ personality before we enter the scene.

The part beneath the water line is what makes the iceberg such a formidable foe for a ship or submarine that gets too close. Keeping that thought in mind consider the reader who discovers more of the characters and the story theme with every turn of the page. Now they are drilling down below the waterline and discovering more things of interest. An iceberg contains remnants of times past in its frozen layers. Once part of a larger ice mass, it now floats free in the water. As the reader turns pages of a novel he will discover the connectivity of characters with their past, the evil behind the idyllic setting, or the seeming uncrossable chasm between two lovers.

The difference between the massive ice and a novel is the conclusion. The iceberg will over time dissolve. What a boring fate. In contrast, a novel concludes with loose ends of the story resolved and the theme played, hopefully giving the reader a feeling of satisfaction as they reach the end. Or even better, a desire to read more from the author.

Writing life after Retirement

I’m Retired!!!

They say to wait until you make enough money writing to replace your job before you quit. My social security pretty much covers what I made at my part-time job. So, I think that qualifies.  Now that we are at last empty-nesters, our expenses have dropped significantly. I’ve worked part-time in some capacity for over 20 years. And before that, I homeschooled my five children for 15 years. Yep, and I still have most of my mind intact.

Choosing my own time to write.

I am a morning person. My most creative time is before noon. On my days off from work, I devoted my mornings to writing. Now I have every morning to write. Some may feel the need to hit the ground running. Me? I’d trip and fall in the process. Last week as my first full week of retirement. I took it slow. I need to figure out my new normal. Design a schedule that works for me and my husband. He is a writer too. We are also doing some rehab on our home and have ten grandchildren to spend time with. Did I mention I have five children? They have spouses. So yeah, it’s easy to get distracted from my writing goals.

Why retire?

When I was asked why I was retiring, I replied it’s time. I needed to devote more time to the thing I love—crafting stories. The company I worked for is now a new company under new management and the changes were—well changes. And some new software is on the way.

It was time. Stress from work made it hard to focus on writing. Wearing a mask for hours made me exhausted at the end of the day. And I’d felt God ‘s nudge back in 2019 that 2020 would be the year I would retire.

Is writing a real job?

Some who asked were the people who work those few-hours-a-week jobs to keep themselves busy. They had no idea how busy I would be writing every day. Most people haven’t a clue about all that is involved in creating a novel and marketing it. Even my son asked if I was going to get another job. He knows I have novels published. Yet, in his mind, it’s not a job. I love the sweet man and let his remark fade in the background.

Picking up the pace

Now on week two, I am ready to hit the ground at a quick walk. I have a to-do list and have scheduled my day to include time for things other than writing. I need to learn new marketing and find ways to improve my social media presence to name a few.  I’m more rested, less stressed, and looking forward to the days ahead. I’m sure I’ll continue to adjust my schedule as I navigate my new normal. So far it is everything I imagined it would be.

Have you retired from your job to write full-time? What does your day look like? Curious minds want to know.

 

 

Bogged Down by Murder’s Author and Editor Kathy Cretsinger

Delighted to have Kathy Cretsinger with me today. Welcome, Kathy.

Thank you, Cindy, for inviting me to be on your blog. I love writing and talking to people about writing.

My writing career began several years ago. My friend, Wilburta Arrowood, visited me and told me I could write. I’ll have to say I had doubts. I wanted to write but had no idea how to get started. Wilburta helped me to get the writing bug.

After attending several conferences, I decided to self-publish my first book, and I began Mantle Rock Publishing in 2012. Little did I know I would not have time to write for myself, but we published a lot of books in the last eight years, several were best sellers.

In July 2020, I sold most of the company to a friend, and she started Scrivenings Press. Now, I have time to write for myself and publish a few books for friends. This brings me to my first book in two years, Bogged Down by Murder.

My husband grew up in a community in Tennessee called Shady Valley. Shady Valley is a beautiful part of heaven nestled in the Appalachian Mountains. Three mountains surround the valley, and the Appalachian Trail runs through the top of Holston Mountain. The other mountains are Cross Mountain, which the Trail also runs across, and Iron Mountain. There is only one way to leave the valley without going over a mountain, the Gorge. The Gorge is part of Cherokee National Forest and includes an area called Backbone Rock. Beaver Dam Creek runs through the forest, filled with trout and rolling over rocks.

Inspiration for this book came from my daughter. We were leaving the valley after the Cranberry Festival a couple of years ago, and someone said something about Shady Valley. My daughter said, “Nothing shady ever happens in Shady Valley.” My brain began to turn, and I started working on this book. There are cranberry bogs in Shady Valley, not placed by human hands.

Shady Valley has a lot to offer people. It is secluded, quiet, and peaceful. We love to go to Shady Valley to visit with family, but we especially enjoy a slower pace of life. You buy with cash or check.

Tell us a bit about this mystery.

Imagine this. A city woman inherits a farm in Shady Valley, and she has to live there for six months to get the inheritance. She owns a large company that teaches people how to eat and live healthy. Shady Valley is a farm community. Most everything is either fried or not what she eats. She dreams of changing the community to eat as she does, no bread, fried food, potatoes, rice, sugar, or most meats. My mind began to go in different places, but I eat a lot like that. I knew the difficulties Daisy would encounter.

My writing this book, in particular, was encouraged by my husband and daughter. They kept me on track with everything. I had never written a cozy mystery, but now I love them. The series, Nothing Shady Ever Happens in Shady Valley, has several more books in my head. The next book will release in the spring, “Death by Doubloons.” My husband keeps telling me to finish other projects I’m working on and to finish this book on time.

My favorite place to write is in my office. The office is not the most glamorous place, but the best place for me.  I have Age-Related Macular Degeneration. I can’t see the screen of a laptop, but I have my laptop hooked up to a large screen. I have tried other places, but this is the best for me. I can think better, and I can close the door, even lock it.

A giveaway

There will be a drawing for a copy of Bogged Down by Murder. To qualify, you must leave a comment on this blog. The book releases August 31, 2020, but the E book is on preorder on Amazon. Click here.http://amzn.to/3iYcOnl

More about Kathy

Kathy Cretsinger and her husband migrated from the hills of East Tennessee to the flatlands of Kentucky several years ago to be close to their children and grandchildren. This brought another change in their lives. Kathy began publishing her books, and a few years later, she decided to help other authors who are having a hard time in the publishing industry by starting Mantle Rock Publishing LLC. Recently, Kathy sold most of her publishing company to Scriverings Press.

Kathy loves being close to her family and enjoys growing orchids, which continue to multiply. She is now finding more time to write the books that have lived in her head for the last few years. Visit her at kathycretsinger.com where she has a weekly blog.

Website kathycretsinger.com

https://www.facebook.com/kathycretsinger/

https://www.instagram.com/kathycretsinger4441/?hl=en

https://www.facebook.com/Kathy-Cretsinger-Author-108003947615643

 

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A List of Writing Craft books to Help make your Word Shine

We’ve written our first book all by ourselves. The words materialized on the page. It’s a best-seller.  So naïve. The publishers squash our dream of mega sales after multiple rejections. How is that possible?  Could it be we know nothing about creative writing beyond what we learned in English class? Time to get educated. Conferences are not always cost effective for newbies putting their toe in the writing river.

However, there are lots of writing craft books out there by well-established authors who took the time to share their best practices in a book.  I asked a few of my writer friends to tell me their favorite craft books and the response made me want to check out new resources. No matter what you struggle with as you create that manuscript there are books to guide you step by step. Most of the authors mentioned here have multiple writing craft books.   

Books that introduce you to the art of writing

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maas

(Donald Maas is the go-to guy for teaching writing excellence.)

Stein on Writing by Sol Stein

(A classic)

On Writing by Stephen King

(another classic)

The Emotional Craft of Writing by Donald Maas

21st Century Writing by Donald Maas

The Art of Fiction by John Gardner

The Irresistible Novel by Jeff Gerke

Story Genius by Lisa Cron

Books that speak to specific areas

Every writer stumbles with some aspect of writing. One of the suggestions below is sure to help.

How to manage your time to write your book

The Chunky Method by Allie Plieter

The flow and structure of your novel

First Pages of Best Sellers-What Works What Doesn’t and Why By C.S. Larkin

Super Structure the Key to Unleashing the Power of Story by James Scott Bell

First Fifty Pages by Jeff Gerke

Write your Novel from the Middle by James Scott Bell

The Last Fifty Pages by James Scott Bell

Specific areas writers struggle to grasp

Writing Unforgettable Characters by James Scott Bell

Voice: The Secret Power of Great Writing By James Scott Bell

Plot vs Character by Jeff Gerke

The Dance of Character and Plot by DiAnn Mills

Conflict vs Suspense by James Scott Bell

How to Write Dazzling Dialog by James Scott Bell

Writing Deep Viewpoint; Invite Your Readers into the Story by Kathy Tyers

Now you’ve finished your manuscript but do not understand the proper way to edit it. And rewriting is not very appealing after you’ve just sweated over 200,000 words. (please don’t even think about publishing that many words in one tome.)

Self-editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Brown and Dave King

Revisions and Self-editing for Publication by James Scott Bell

Murder Your Manuscript By Andrea Merrell

What about author blindness?

27 Blunders and How Not to Make Them by James Scott Bell

Writing with Excellence 201 by Joyce K. Ellis

What to do with your craft books

The key to success in learning the craft of writing when you acquire any of these books—READ them,  DO the exercises. Take the advice and apply it. It is better to buy one book and wear it out, rather than every book on this list, and leave them on your bookshelf. (Guilty.)

Then my last encouragement is to read in the genre you want to write. For example, if you want to write a thriller, read many, and study how the authors construct their stories. Read the best-sellers to discover how and why they are so popular. This applies to non-fiction too. Grab them up and observe the structure of the book. Most are available in e-book if that is your preference. There are hundreds of books available on writing craft. So, take the plunge and see if your writing doesn’t improve exponentially.

Add your favorite writing craft book in the comments.

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Ann Peachman Stewart’s writing passion sparked by caring for the elderly

Today I welcome writer Ann Peachman Stewart. She used her passion for the elderly and their families to find her writing niche. Welcome, Ann. let’s start out with a bit about your writing journey.

In 2007, my world turned upside down. Although my husband had suffered from worsening heart disease for several years before that, it wasn’t until the week he died that I realized I was going to lose him. I was 53, working full-time, one of my three children still at home and in the throes of grief. Nothing about my life made sense.

I decided to do what all the experts say not to—I made a major life change. I started a two-year course with the Christian Writer’s Guild. I’d always written and wanted to pursue it more, but life got in the way. The course changed me, and during the second year, I discovered I could write fiction, which blew me away. I went on to complete two more courses with them and had the input of amazing authors. I published articles, started a blog, wrote a novel, went to conferences, and continually worked to become a better writer.

This year has been another “turn my world upside down” year. Besides the pandemic, which has turned everyone’s world upside down, I retired. Three people who were special to me died of COVID-19. I finally started my website and moved my blog there. I’m transitioning my role from Advocate (my job) to supporting and advocating online. I also plan, this fall, to plot my next novel and begin to write it (again!)

Last week I officially retired from my job. I look forward to more time to write as well.

How did eldercare become your passion?

The short answer is: through working with them. In the 21 years I worked with elderly, I met wonderful people who changed me forever, bitter individuals who taught me how not to respond to life circumstances and many “characters” who generated great stories and taught me to laugh. I had many positions, but my title in the last years was Advocate. I supported the care partners who worked tirelessly to care for the elderly, their families and the elderly themselves.

I saw a gap. My residence had always esteemed the elderly. In the last several years they’d learned to respect and elevate the position of the care partners who looked after them. But the families…Those of us who worked as Advocates supported the families through admission to palliative care and death, but most homes didn’t have advocates or something similar. Families experienced unnecessary stress because of a lack of support. It became my dream to bring my blog to a place where I can support a wider audience.

This is so wonderful. Both of my parents had to transition to care facilities. Dad is gone but mom is now in a skilled care facility. With the pandemic, it makes things so much more difficult for caregivers. I so appreciate you.

Now let’s talk about your writing. What is your greatest writing challenge?

Right now, it’s SEO, search engine optimization. How to find my audience and have them find me? I’m trying to learn without spending more money, as setting up the web site was an investment. Second would be actually getting paid to write. Everything on the blog is free but I’m trying to submit more articles. Like many writers, I shy from marketing. Trying to push myself out of that comfort zone at least once each week.

I can so relate to the difficulty of marketing. I find it so much easier to help others. You have a passion in a specific niche. May God bless your search.

What inspired you to write the book you just finished?

The Trouble With Mom explores the journey of a dysfunctional family when their strong, choleric mother is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The protagonist, Marg always struggled with feelings of insecurity when it came to her relationship with her mother, but now found herself at odds with her siblings, her husband, and her daughter. While looking through paperwork at her mother’s house, Marg discovered the missing piece which explained everything and gave her insight into the trouble with Mom.

The families I worked with provided my inspiration. Most had some relationship problems before they became caregivers and the stresses of that journey exacerbated it. Fear made them angry and entitled, worry caused them to fight among themselves. Through developing a trusting relationship, I was able to support them and allay their worries and fears, but what about those families who had no advocate? That thought was my inspiration. My book is not published. YET.

Sounds like a great premise. And there are a lot of boomers out there in this situation. I look forward to reading it when it comes out.

When did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

In grade three I realized I could write (and I couldn’t do math!) but sometime during that first course with Christian Writer’s Guild, I caught a vision. I could write, be published, and make a difference. Wow!

I took that course. I understand the feeling.

Is there a favorite verse that resonates with you?

“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.”

I believe God plans to use me, and that’s incredibly exciting!

Definitely!

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

I love Christian fiction. When my church library closed with the pandemic I was bereft for several weeks until I discovered how to get free audiobooks online. Now I can do my housework and read at the same time! I learn from other authors and hopefully, it helps me improve my craft.

I’m about to make the leap to listening to audiobooks myself. Everyone I know who have loved the experience.

Now please tell us about your blog.

Started in 2012, Small Miracles seeks to provide support to those who care for elders. Do you give hands-on care? Are you a professional caregiver? Are you family of someone living in a care setting? Or perhaps you volunteer or have a friend you visit occasionally? Every one of these scenarios is a “care partner”—part of the team who cares for that person. My mission, through the blog, is to provide education, support, and resources to support you.

The name, Small Miracles, came from my belief that although the journey of the care partner is difficult, God supplies small miracles along the way to give us joy, if we look for them.

More about Ann:

As someone who worked among the elderly for 21 years, Ann Peachman Stewart developed a passion for respectful eldercare which provides purpose and growth to the end of life. In that time, she gathered a treasury of experiences and stories, some of which play out in the lives of her characters. In supporting families as they take on the role of caring for an elder, Ann empathizes with their confusion and fear and how it manifests. Dysfunctional families can become more so and relationships may become strained. She reaches deep to find both compassion and the ability to have difficult conversations. Her sideways sense of humor keeps her sane and she brings the richness of these experiences to her novel and blog.

Ann, writing from a Christian perspective, recognizes that people of faith, like other humans, sometimes fail when facing a crisis. She strives to bring authenticity to her characters as they stumble, learn, and grow.

Ann Peachman Stewart began her career with no education in this field but later obtained her Certificate in Gerontology with Ryerson University. A life-long learner, she completed the Apprentice, Journeyman and Craftsman courses with The Christian Writer’s Guild. She won awards for her fiction and non-fiction writing through Florida Christian Writer’s Conference and has been a Word Weaver’s president since 2011. She lives in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and is owned by a dog named Teddy.

Visit Ann on social media.

Facebook Author Page:

https://www.facebook.com/annpeachmanstewart.author/

Instagram:

https://www.instagram.com/annpeachmanstewart/

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/writeforhim

Linkdin:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/ann-peachman-stewart-356410a3/

Pinterest:

https://www.pinterest.ca/annpeachmanstewart/boards/

Website:

https://smallmiracles.online

 

Ann is doing a very special give away for September. A stress reliever box valued at $20. Click on the link below and refer a friend for another chance. Click the link in her social media list above to follow Small Miracle of you are interested in her eldercare help.

https://smallmiracles.online/win-a-stress-reliever-box-in-september/