Author and Life Coach Letitia Suk

Letitia Suk2Letitia Suk and I meant at my first Write to Publish Conference a decade ago. She has been acting chaplain for the event and her red hat has become the trademark. Need prayer look for the red hat. Tish is also in charge of the Paul and Timothy program which connects an alumni conferencee with a newbie. She’s also a speaker and life  coach. I’ve enjoyed getting to know her over the years and her newest book has me very intrigued. Welcome Tish.

Let’s get started at the beginning. Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

My writing journey started a long time ago! My favorite childhood books were the Betsy-Tacy series (Maud Hart Lovelace) and Betsy was a writer and I knew I was too. My first published articles were included in a newsletter insert for a diaper service in Ohio 😊.  The publication was called “The Wet Set Gazette” and it really gave me my start. No pay but lots of exposure. After multiple rejections, I sold my first piece to Family Fun magazine for $1 a word in 1998. Slowly other articles began to sell and my first book, Rhythms of Renewal, was published in 2009.

What is your latest published project.

My latest book is Getaway with God: The Everywoman’s Guide to Personal Retreat inviting women to plug their soul in for a long recharge like we do with our phones.

How do you research for your books?

Both of my books contain vignettes of other women on the chapter topic. I ask friends for contributions.

What inspired you to write Getaway with God?GWG cover(1)

I have been taking personal retreats for 40 years and in 2010 God invited me to take a five-day retreat at the ocean and covered all the expenses (details in the book!) It was very transforming and I knew before I left that a book would emerge from the experience. This is it!

Here is the back cover blurb for Getaway with God: The Everywoman’s Guide to Personal Retreat

What if a simple day away could transform your life?

Does spending time with God sound like just one more thing to check off an ever-increasing to-do list? How are you supposed to fit in anything that threatens to be more time-consuming? Too often there’s simply no room to experience the intimacy, grace, and peace that God offers us.

Getaway with God does more than invite you to step away from life’s pressures to take a personal retreat. It shows you exactly why you must–for your sake and for your family’s.

With grace and warmth, Letitia Suk provides step-by-step guidance and the necessary tools to enable any woman on any budget to plan time away, whether it’s a quick, half-day break or a week long time of restoration. You’ll find detailed steps for preparation, including descriptions of different kinds of retreats and how to choose the best one for you, and you’ll learn ways to bring the renewal you experience home with you. Practical appendixes identify retreat centers nationwide and provide exercises and prayers to kick-start your getaway with God.

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

When I was about nine years old I had a strong sense that I would be an influencer through speaking and writing. I remember the exact place where this occurred. Very defining moment.

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Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

John 10:10. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. My hope is that all women can experience more of that full life which is available to us here and now. My mission statement is to “Invite Women into an Intentional Life Centered in Jesus.”

 

 

 

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

Write first, edit later.

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

To call myself a writer, to own it. I am part of Kathy Carlton Willis’ WordGirls coaching group which provides great inspiration, motivation and tools for developing as a writer.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Historical fiction (winter) and beach novels (summer)

Where is your favorite place to write?

In my office on my desktop computer with music in the background and inspiring props all around.

What are you working on now?

My next book is about how to tell your story to the next generation in ten creative ways.

Contact Letitia Suk at:

Website: Letitiasuk.com

Email: Letitia.Suk@gmail.com

Blog: Hopeforthebest.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/LetitiaSuk

Twitter: @Letitiasuk

Book links:

Getaway with God: http://amzn.to/2rwpT0e

Rhythms of Renewal: http://amzn.to/2rwRjmD

Tish it’s been fun getting to know you better. Thanks for being my guest. You book should be on every Christian woman’s to-read list. I’ll get my autograph copy at Write to Publish.

These interviews always inspire me. Was there anything Tish shared that resonated with you? Please share in a comment below.

And if you wish to follow my blog don’t forget to subscribe.

 

 

Interview with Grace Award Winner Sandra Ardoin

Today I welcome Sandra Ardoin recent Grace Award winner for her book  A Reluctant Melody.  Congratulations, Sandy. Sandra Ardoin_Headshot

Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

Thanks so much for letting me share a bit about myself and my writing with your readers, Cindy!

I began writing in 1986. (Yes, all the way back then.) I started out with greeting cards and poster quotes—even had the fun of seeing a poster with my quote in a MOVIE! After a while, I wrote short stories for children’s denominational publications, then for adults. While being a SAHM, I only worked part-time until about 2008-09. That’s when I felt God opened that door to writing novels. From then on, it’s been my full-time job.

What is your latest published project?

My second book, A Reluctant Melody, came out last year. It’s the story of a secondary character from my first book, The Yuletide Angel. In A Reluctant Melody, Kit Barnes is a man saved from his wild lifestyle by grace. Now, he wants to open a mission for drunkards in a home owned by Joanna Stewart. Joanna, a woman whose affections he once stole from his brother, has yet to find that grace and must choose between protecting herself from a second betrayal by Kit and protecting her best friend from an abusive spouse. It’s a romantic story of secrets, second chances, and redemption.reluctant melody

How do you research for your book?

My research is mostly done online. There are some things I must know are possible before I begin the story—places, time frames, the best area to set the book, etc. However, many of the tiny details are researched as I go. It’s not an ideal way to do it, and I’m trying to get to a point where I can make a note and write on, intending to check the facts later.

A Reluctant Melody takes place in a fictional town, but is set in the North Carolina area in which I live, so setting wasn’t hard to write. And Google Books is my friend. I find so much information in the books of the era. I’ll even use them to check proper word usage. Chronicling America is a gold mine of information through the pages of the newspapers of the time. For instance, in my (as-yet-unpublished) novella about the Nome gold rush, I found quite a bit of detail through issues of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, including the ship my heroine would have taken from Seattle to Nome.

What inspired you to write your book?

I love reading a book and picking out a secondary character whose story I would like to read. This happens even in my own stories. I always find characters I think will make great heroes and/or heroines for another book. That’s how Kit came to be the hero of A Reluctant Melody.

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

I wouldn’t say I realized it was a calling. I consider it more a ministry. God has allowed me to do something I truly enjoy that helps this highly shy introvert to speak of the gospel. Writing was something I’d wanted to do for a long time and never had the courage to tackle. When I was still single, I took a writing class and thought I’d use it as a second income (hear me laughing!). I was hooked.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

I have several. Jeremiah 29:11 is a biggie for me with my writing, but Isaiah 55:8-9 are amazing for keeping my perspective as to who God is and who I am. Then, there are numerous verses in Colossians—one of my favorite books—such as Colossians 1:17 – “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Isn’t that encouraging?

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

“You got it all wrong, kid.” I’d tell myself that writing is harder than it appears. Finding a publisher is even harder. And NEVER EVER do it for the money. 😊

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

Other than writer friends who are incredibly encouraging, I’d have to say readers who leave reviews are my best support system. I don’t expect everyone to like my stories, but I’ve been blessed by good reviews so far. Even ones that are critical in some way are helpful, as long as they contain information I can use to make my next books better.

Available on Amazon

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

At this time, I write historical romance and it’s my go-to for reading. However, I thoroughly enjoy romantic suspense or mystery. I will read straight romance, but anything that has mystery and danger is tops on my reading list. I don’t even want to know what that says about me.

Where is your favorite place to write?

When my daughter moved out to be on her own, I took over her bedroom—something I’m not sure she’s gotten over yet. I painted, added my desk and other furniture, decorated with fun writerly things and antique knick-knacks, then shut the door on the real world.

How can people follow you and your work?

If anyone wants more info about my writing and what’s coming up, I’d be thrilled for you to sign up for my Love and Faith in Fiction newsletter and receive a FREE short story when you do. My emails go out quarterly, unless an exciting offer pops up that I think you should know about.

BIO:

Sandra Ardoin writes inspirational historical romance. She’s the author of The Yuletide Angel and A Reluctant Melody. A wife and mom, she’s also a reader, football fan, NASCAR watcher, garden planter, country music listener, and antique store prowler. Visit her at www.sandraardoin.com and on the Seriously Write blog. Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, and Pinterest. Join her email community to receive occasional updates and a free short story.

 

A Reluctant Melody – 2016 Grace Award Winner

Kit Barnes’ drinking ruined more lives than his own. Now sober, he wants to make amends by opening a mission for drunkards. The most suitable location belongs to Joanna Cranston Stewart, a love from his sordid past and the one person he hurt the most.

A pariah among her peers, Joanna is all too eager to sell her property and flee the rumors that she sent her late husband to an early grave. But she will let the gossips talk and the walls of her rundown property crumble around her before she’ll allow Kit back into her life.

When a blackmailer threatens to reveal her long-held secret, she must choose between trusting Kit or seeing her best friend trapped in an abusive marriage.

Will Joanna risk another betrayal? Or will she find a way through the pain of the past to love and trust again?

Links to purchase:

A Reluctant Melody

Readers, please share what comment of Sandy’s resonated with you?

There are more in depth interviews coming up and if you aren’t a subscriber you’ll want to sign up to meet some more awesome authors and learn their stories.

Snow Country Author Kristin Neva Shares her Writing Process

backcover-author-img_1340-1350x500c-1Today I welcome Kristin Neva. I just finished reading her debut novel Snow Country. What a fascinating read.  This is a longer interview then I normally post. But for those of you struggling with the writing life I think you will find her thorough answers inspiring.

Here is the back-cover description.

Shame desperately depends on secrecy for its survival in this multi-generational story of love and loss.

Jilted three weeks before her wedding, Beth Dawson escapes sunny California for the snowy Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where a young State Trooper challenges her to let go of her rules for Christian courtship. Her domineering mother chides her to stay single and wants her to talk her ailing grandmother into moving to Los Angeles.

Copper Island averages over 200 inches of snow annually. The fictional towns of Douglass and Quincy mirror the actual towns of Houghton and Hancock, and although the names of businesses and persons are imaginary, the history, landmarks, and spirit of the region described in the novel are real.

Kristin, settle in at the kitchen table. I’ve brewed some hearty Ceylon tea and I have a plate of scones, in honor of my Scottish heritage. Many of the scenes in your novel take place over steaming tea and nisu. (Defined in the glossary of Snow Country as Finnish for sweet cardomom bread.)

It’s such a great way to become friends — over tea and comfort food. When traveling with my husband on a business trip to Taiwan, I realized I had been missing out. I had grown up drinking and enjoying tea out of a box, but loose leaf tea took tea to a whole new level.

My character Grandma Lou always has loose leaf tea steeped in water heated on a wood stove. “Tea tastes better when it’s heated by wood stove,” she claims.

It’s funny, because the biggest pushback I get on the book is over my choice of tea selection and some of the esoteric details of drinking loose leaf tea. There are some people out there who take their tea very seriously. J

I read your first book Heavy, a memoir of the emotional rollercoaster of the first year your husband Todd’s ALS diagnosis. So, why did you decide your second book would be a novel?

I wanted to write what I love to read: small town fiction with quirky characters. I felt like our memoir, Heavy, was a book that should be written for others who were also suffering. Snow Country is just for fun, and it’s a creative outlet for me. It’s an escape from my real life and it’s a way to flesh out some of my thoughts on life, love, and loss in the lives of fictional characters who lead more fascinating lives than mine.

How did you come up with the idea for this Contemporary Romance?

The idea for Snow Country started with a scene based on my mother’s experience of learning to drive in the snow her first winter in the Copper Country after growing up in California. She got pulled over for driving too slow. And once, as a teenager, I led the police on a slow speed chase as I looked for a safe place to pull over. I wouldn’t roll the window down more than a crack, and I questioned if the officer who pulled me over was a real cop. As a brand-new driver, I couldn’t believe I was getting a ticket.

That’s basically the scene I begin with in Snow Country, and from there I let my main character work through some issues that resonate with me.snowcountry_bookcover

I’ve heard it said that everybody has a book or two in her. Authors might mine their own lives for the first book, and maybe the second, although I found I needed to interview some friends with different life experiences to flesh out some ideas for my second book, which is now in the editing process.

To be clear, my characters are not me or my friends, but an idea needs to begin someplace.

How did you go about learning the craft of fiction writing while being Todd’s caregiver?

I don’t think I would have devoted my time to learning the craft of writing had I not been Todd’s caregiver. Since he requires twenty-four hour care, it’s not possible for me to work outside the home. After I get the kids off to school, I generally have a couple hours to write. I listen to podcasts, watch YouTube videos by writing instructors, and read books on the craft of writing. I also analyze my favorite authors. Why do I like their work? What draws me in? What keeps me reading?

Todd edits and critiques my work and helps me brainstorm plotlines. It is good to have something to focus on other than the terminal disease. It has also been good for the vitality of our marriage. I take care of Todd, and he gives back by helping me with my writing dream. He is just so smart. Our biggest arguments are about word-use and he is usually right. I tell our kids, “Just so you know. This isn’t typical. If you get married someday, you likely will argue with your spouse about something other than grammar.”

A mantra we often hear as writers is write what you know. It shows in the wonderful setting you chose for Snow Country. Explain how you created the fictitious towns of Quincy and Douglass Michigan. What parts of the setting and characters mirror real people?

My husband Todd likes to say there’s more truth in fiction. Creating the fictitious towns of Quincy and Douglass, based on the real towns of Hancock and Houghton, allowed me to be even more true to life of the culture and spirit of the region. If I used the real towns and real businesses, I couldn’t possibly describe a snarky waitress who treats a guest with contempt because she’s on a date with the man of her dreams.

Nonetheless, locals who’ve read the book see right through the fictitious names. Just like the real Houghton, my fictional town of Douglass is named after Douglass Houghton, an American geologists, who explored Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula prior to statehood. My town of Quincy is named for the old underground mine that sits atop Quincy Hill above Hancock.

Douglass State, the fictitious university, is loosely based on Michigan Tech, but using a fictitious name allows my characters to have jobs and take classes that don’t actually exist at the real university.

The restaurant Cornucopia, where Beth and Danny go on their first date, isn’t based on any specific restaurant, but the sandstone building it resides in is inspired by a real building that houses a different restaurant.

I do, however, use the real names for the outlying areas that are not integral to the story. There really is a Brockway Mountain. There’s a charming town called Eagle River that really does have a park where locals feed the deer in the winter. Basically any place that’s tangential to the story and would only be described in a positive light gets to keep its real name.

The people are truly imaginary, although I pull traits from various people to inform my characters. Mak, for example, is the quintessential Yooper — he plows and makes wood, yet he’s unexpectedly intelligent. His wife Lorna always has a business idea, and that’s reflective of many Yoopers. My friend, a native of Arizona, was once trying to learn how to knit because she wanted to fit in with the locals. She said, “Everybody has something to sell at the Tori (Finnish word for market) except for me.”

Beth Dawson and Daniel Johnson have differing views about dating. Beth is by the book while Danny is less structured. As their relationship grows the battlefield focuses on trust. Your focus audience is YA and 20 somethings and you really bring up some interesting points about the true love waits message. You sprinkled the theme throughout your work without being preachy. Which character in this novel most mirrors your own heart on dating?

I find it interesting that you’d think of this book as targeted for young adults. Although Beth, my main character, is in her twenties, another central character, Grandma Lou, is in her seventies. Hoping that the varied themes of the book would appeal to a broader cross-section than your typical romance reader, I labeled the series a Copper Island Novel. I have gotten positive feedback from girls in their teens, middle-aged women, and women in their eighties.  What has been surprising to me is that the book has been well received by guys too.

To answer your question about my heart on dating: Like Beth, I started by the book. As a teenager, I read all kinds of Christian dating/relationship books because I wanted to do it right. Recently I went through some of my high school papers my mom had saved, and I had to laugh. For my tenth grade World Affairs class, I wrote a paper on communication in marriage. For a college class I took during my senior year of high school, I wrote a paper on abstinence. I had dating and marriage all figured out well before meeting Todd. I think it’s a good place for a young person to start, but like Beth, I had to process my ideals in light of the messiness of life and embrace grace.

Fortunately, Todd was patient with me. That scene where Danny tells Beth he loves her and she responds with “Thank You” — yup, that was our story. Of course, Beth is her own person, so I had to tell her story. The way my story worked out was that I resisted telling him that I loved him until one day I was shopping at a thrift store and happened to see a Carolina Herrera wedding dress on a rack. I lifted it up, and a woman said, “Hey, I was going to get that. That’s a $5,000 dress.”

Well, that’s not how thrift store shopping works. If you walk away from the rack, you lose. I felt my competitive nature coming out and I held onto the dress.

The woman asked me “Are you getting married?”

Todd and I had been talking about the possibility, but we had not yet dated for a year. He was ready to commit, but I was uncertain. In that moment I had to give her an answer, so I made a decision. “I’m getting married next summer.”

That evening, I met Todd at his condominium and told him I had a surprise. “I love you and I bought a wedding dress today.”

At some point, all of our lives become too complex for formulas. I was a perfect parent—until I had kids. And I didn’t wrestle with the problem of suffering until living with Todd’s terminal illness. As I approach my fifth decade of life, I am less by the book. My life philosophy comes down to the tagline I choose for my author website: Love and Grace on Copper Island.

sauna

Sauna

These characters value and celebrate their Finnish heritage. They still cling to parts of the language and most definitely the food. You paint their culture so differently than what we experience in other parts of the country. Is this true of Upper Michigan in your real world?

Oh, it is very true. One Amazon reviewer wrote, “I loved the characters, and they reminded me so much of my own family and friends.”

My husband and I are Finnish-Americans—third-generation Americans, yet we retain a slice of Finnish culture that is prevalent in the region where I live and write about.

The old Finns called this place Kuparisaari, Copper Island, and it was the favorite destination for Finnish immigrants from 1870 through the early 1920s. Many Finns escaped abject poverty for the promise of fortune to work in underground mines that supplied 90% of the country’s copper.

Since Finns once made up 20% of the population in the Copper Country, they had a noticeable impact on the local culture. My fifth-grade daughter told us the other day that her teacher asked for a show of hands of who has a sauna—every hand was raised. The streets in town are named in both English and Finnish. Many families retain Finnish names for their favorite dishes.

In my writing, I attempt to capture the essence of the culture, climate, and creation. The region almost becomes a character in itself. So much has already been written about Italians in Brooklyn, or the Irish in Boston. I hope to introduce the world to the Finns in the Keweenaw.

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You created drama with characters afflicted and affected by ALS in this community. Your husband, Todd, is fighting the good fight with ALS. How hard was that to write about?

ALS is a disease that is always in the forefront of my thoughts so it is not surprising that it would make its way into my writing. We write what we know. I still get tears in my eyes when I reread the scene I wrote about the ALS diagnosis. Some of the small details of our experience are implanted in my mind and they made their way onto the pages of Snow Country. Exam Room 2. Cold, hard plastic chairs. People diverting their eyes from witnessing our grief.

It is my hope that writing about ALS, even in a fictional work, will raise awareness about the challenges of living with the disease. I hope there will be a cure in my husband’s lifetime. Until then, people living with ALS need much more help than our current healthcare system provides.

What do you hope people take away from the story of Beth and Danny?

Life is messy, and there are no easy answers. Part of Beth’s disappointment with her broken engagement is based on the thought that if she follows all the rules, life will work out. I think the prosperity gospel has crept into Evangelicalism. There’s an idea that if we say the right prayer, then we will be healed, or if we follow the right rules, then life will work out. But we need to remember that Jesus promised we would have trouble in this world.

That being said, there is wisdom in some rules, and some of the pain of life can be avoided by making wise choices. Danny’s past catches up with him and he needs to live with the consequences of his choices. We’ll find out in book three how that subplot comes to a climax.

Is there anything you would like to mention about Snow Country or the theme that I’ve not asked?

People have described Snow Country as a Romantic Comedy. I can thank my husband for that. He often makes me laugh, and I file away things he says. As I mentioned, I thought women would be my primary audience, but I think the reason guys like it is because of the humor. Many of the quirky lines are courtesy of my husband, my biggest encourager.

This is Book One of the Copper Island Novel series. Can you give us a brief glimpse into the second book?

The second Copper Island book is Copper Country, a story of family and forgiveness. It’s about Aimee and Russ, who were minor characters in Snow Country.

Grandma Lou asks, “Where do people get this idea that dying people are more noble?”

Ten years after abandoning his family, Aimee’s father returns with throat cancer. Aimee wants to forgive him, but he’s as narcissistic and unrepentant as ever. She’s comforted by Russ, who’s everything her father wasn’t—present and gentle. However, a long-term relationship with him is unrealistic unless he’s willing to let go of his bitterness towards corporations, give up his off-the-grid cabin, and find a real job.

Copper Country will be out this summer.

My final question is something I ask every author I interview. What is one thing you would say to budding fiction writers as they journey to publication?

Enjoy the journey and view the challenges as learning opportunities.

We would all love to be the next John Grisham or Jan Karon, but we need to do what we do because we love it, and celebrate the small victories along the way. That’s what the National Novel Writing Month is about. Snow Country was my NaNoWriMo project three years ago. Getting those initial 50,000 words down was an accomplishment.

Then began the hard work of revision. I sought out honest, constructive criticism. Not all of the criticism made sense initially, so I worked to get to the root of the issues with my story. For example, one of my beta readers said she didn’t really like my main character, Beth. She couldn’t articulate why, but I eventually realized it was because Beth was too timid, too whiny. I had to show that she had sisu early on, even though part of her character arc was to develop backbone.

I celebrated when I found an agent, and though he did not end up selling my novel before he retired, I learned a lot from the process. My favorite rejection letter from a publisher was, “The pacing is too slow—much too slow.” That constructive feedback gave me something to work on.

Now I am learning about book promotion and challenging myself to step out of my comfort zone. At a community event, I approached a reporter and pitched my novel as a story. That led to a radio/TV spot—a whole new experience for me. I look forward to what’s next.

Author Bio:

Kristin Neva grew up in an old farmhouse on Copper Island in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula where the hard-working, rugged residents persevere through harsh winter weather, sustained by friendship and family, surrounded by natural beauty. As an adult, she lived in the Chicago and Milwaukee areas for seventeen years before returning to the her hometown with her husband and two children.

Kristin’s first book, Heavy, co-authored with her husband, Todd, journeys through the first year after Todd’s ALS diagnosis as the Nevas struggle to find meaning, hold on to faith, and discover joy in the midst of pain.heavy-cover-small

Links:

Blog: http://kristinneva.com/

Snow Country: http://a.co/i1ZR7vB

Heavy: http://a.co/9oe3x1a

It has been a pleasure to learn how Snow Country came to be.

Now for the fun part. Kristin is giving away one copy of Snow Country to a lucky winner. Post a comment asking to be put in the drawing. If you past along this blog on your Facebook you’ll get another chance and if you tweet it I’ll give you a third. Your on your honor so let me know where you posted it. I’ll post the winner on Friday.

A Visit with Author Lynn Cornell

Lynn Cornell-2I am so excited to welcome my friend and fellow member of my Word Weaver Aurora group to my blog today. He has been a faithful member and participant since our critique group formed. His insights have been so helpful. Now it’s my turn to pay it forward.

Lynn Cornell released his first novel last month. The Color of Redemption tackles racism from a different perspective. I so enjoyed reading the story of Katie Smith and her journey toward forgiveness.

Here is the back cover blurb.

Raising her family in the turbulent ‘60s in a segregated rural Alabama town, Katie Parker understood the ugliness of racism and Jim Crow all too well. Her farm, which she shared with her activist husband, became her oasis, her retreat. Here, she had control. Here, she could witness God’s handiwork in the beauty of the land. Here, she was at peace. But it was a peace soon to be shattered. After a devastating and horrible event, Katie moves with three of her four children to a relative’s house in a majority-white suburb of Los Angeles. Settling in, she was confident she had escaped the horrors of her hometown. But the memory of that horrible event, and the animosity and hatred it stirred in her, were not easily shaken. Though she escaped a segregated Southern town, racism and intolerance were not easily left behind. Oddly enough, it was her granddaughter’s addiction to drugs that led Katie on a path causing her to confront her fears and prejudices and face head-on the past that she thought she had left behind. Katie’s journey will introduce this generation to the ugly racism of the sixties and confront the racial realities that exist in the church today. The Color of Redemption will show readers how to break down these walls that separate Christians and deal with racial prejudice, not from a civil rights perspective, but a Christian world view dictated by the Bible.

 

I love that you wrote this in first person. Following the story from Katie’s perspective added so much depth. I haven’t read a story like this and so I want to start out by asking:  Why this book?

I have been a Christian since 1978. I’ve been a part of all black churches and all white churches (my presence at white churches excluded). I’ve found it troubling that the same racial feelings and opinions that exists in America exists in both churches. The Color of Redemption shows how Christians should view and resolve racial issues.

How did you research to get the clothing right? The setting? And dialect?

As a young boy, I spent summers in a small southern town and worked cotton fields to buy my school clothes. The color divide was marked by railroad tracks dividing the white side of town from the black side of town. I also lived in Los Angeles and found the racial divide marked not by railroad tracks, but by area of the city or suburb.

Who coached you on how a woman talks and thinks. You really nailed it.

That’s funny because I just picture in my mind how women I know would speak and react to situations. Of course, I get feedback from writer’s group, i.e. you, and I’ll ask my wife and daughter how something sounds.

I’ve heard you share your journey to publication. So, encourage my readers by answering these two important questions

 How long did it take you to get it published?

About ten years

What were some of the obstacles?

I think the biggest obstacle was learning how to write. I had written an entire first draft of COR and didn’t know what things like point of view or show and not tell were. Once I had taken the time to learn the craft of writing, the story came together and I was, with confidence, able to seek publishing.  I think some publishers were hesitant to tackle the issue of race. I had to have patience to find the publisher who was willing to publish my book.

We always end the journey in a better place than we began. Share some of the things you learned along the way?

The most significant thing I learned is Christians who view life through a racial prism fail to see the wonderful work of the cross. That’s the cure of racism.

What words of wisdom would you pass on to newbie writers?

I can’t say this enough, learn the craft of writing. Take the time to hone your skills. Then learn the publishing business, and yes, it is a business. With those two things, you’ll have confidence as a writer and in what you’ve written.

Lynn, tell us about your upcoming projects.

Currently I’m working on two novels, A Most Precious Pearl which tells the story of an immoral woman who discovers she is God’s pearl. In God’s Honor tells the story of an Iranian secret police woman who comes to faith in opposition to her strong Muslim tradition.

Thank you so much for joining me today. I hope everyone takes to heart your advice to learn the craft. And I hope my readers will take the time to purchase this thought-provoking, timely story.  Click here.

 Color of Redemption

Lynn’s Bio:

Lynn Cornell has been a Christian since 1978 and started writing in his forties, at the request of his wife. He’s currently working on three novels and two non-fictions books. Lynn has completed a children’s book, Obi’s Three Nails and four screenplays. His screenplay Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol received honorable mention in the Writer’s Digest competition.  The Color of Redemption was a semi-finalist in the Christian Writer’s Guild Operation First Novel contest. He is a member of Word Weavers.When not writing, he enjoys riding his bike. He’s been married to his wife, Beverly for twenty-three years and has five adult children and thirteen grandchildren. Visit him on Facebook.

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Ten years in the Making: A Book Contract

contract

 

If you follow me on Facebook, you saw my recent announcement. I received my first book contract. It only took 10 years to get there. Oh, let’s not forget 20 rejections, many rewrites and several edits. Years of improving my writing skills through online writing courses and writing books.  Ten years of attending conferences. Submitting to magazines and websites with both success and failure. I’ve made the acquaintance of many writers, both newbies and seasoned pros. During my ten year journey I have added agents and publishers to that list of acquaintances.

Help others on the journey

I’ve written over a hundred book reviews and supported my fellow-writers anyway I can. I enjoy helping promote their books and sharing words of affirmation when they were discouraged. I have purposed to invest in others while I worked toward the illusive contract.

Keep learning

Actions such as joining critique groups, following writing blogs and reading a lot propelled me toward the goal of publication. This has been ten years of perseverance and determination. I’d confess “I am a writer” when I wanted to keep that proclamation to myself. Established writers encouraged me to learn how to use social media.  Then I started this blog, Writer’s Patchwork, where all these writerly parts are sown together into the bigger quilt of gaining a contract. (Clever play on words.)

Cindy's Editor's Choice Award-2

My award. I am so blessed.

Never give up

Anyway, the point I’m trying to press home is don’t give up. Don’t get discouraged and keep helping others in the industry. Keep focusing on your goal and over time you’ll get that book contract.

Come follow me

It will probably be a year before my novel will be available for sale. During that time, I will be posting the next stretch of my journey. Even though I have a contract, a mountain-load of work remains to be done before I see my book in print. I’ll share my experiences in hopes of inspiring all of you to keep going. And give you a glimpse into the process of contract to book shelf.

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An Interview with Edie Melson and a Giveaway

While My Soldier Serves-2

Today I am interviewing author, speaker and editor Edie Melson about her book of prayer for family members serving in the armed forces. I grew up as an Air Force brat and had a son who served in the military making this is a subject close to my heart. Below is the cover copy which gives the best introduction to the content of her wonderful book While My Soldier Serves.

With over 2.3 million active and reserve military personnel, there are that many families who are waiting at home and praying for their well-being. While My Soldier Serves features 111 prayers for their soldier and 53 prayers for the one who waits at home. These thoughtful, specific prayers target the needs soldiers face every day such as for wisdom, strength, faith, protection, encouragement, comfort, and their team. Prayers for the one who waits at home include fear, loneliness, patience, faith, strength, and community. Written so that it can be used by anyone who loves a soldier, it is perfect for parents, spouses, friends, or even groups who band together to pray for our soldiers. Foreword by Todd Starnes, best-selling author and contributor to Fox New

Welcome, Edie. I’ve so looked forward to this interview I see you admiring my wall of photos. My father, father in law and son all served their country with honors. I prayed fervently the eight years my son served in the Army for both him and his family. I wish this book had been available then. Please, find a sit on the couch and help yourself to some brownies. After you’re all settled we’ll get started.

Tell my readers why you decided to write a book of prayer for soldiers?

This book was born out of my own need while our son was in the military and deployed in Iraq as a frontline infantry Marine. I couldn’t find a book like this, so I began writing out my prayers in a journal.

Share your process for putting this book together?

I began organizing this book by looking back through my own prayer journals. I looked at the things I prayed for our son over and over again. Those became the major headings. I also discovered that I also prayed for myself while he was deployed. So I included those prayers as well.

Did you do any research for this book or was it a child of your heart that needed to be shared?

No research, except for looking for applicable quotes to use in conjunction with the Bible verses. A lot of these prayers came—at least in a small part—from those I penned in my deployment prayer journal.

Edie, your words are powerful and speak from the heart. I’m sure many will find comfort and confidence in this book.

Tell us a little about other books you’ve published and what you have coming out in the future.

I have another book for military families: Fighting Fear: Winning the War at Home When Your Soldier Leaves for Battle. This one was published in 2011, by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. It’s more a devotional and addresses a military family’s ongoing battle with fear. Later this month, Worthy is releasing a prayer journal to go along with While My Soldier Serves. And in late July, I’m releasing a second book of prayers. While My Child is Away: Prayers for When We’re Apart, addresses the emotions of a parent when a child is away from home.

What one piece of advice would you give to new writers with a non-fiction subject burning in their heart?

Consider the reader first. We all have stories and experiences that we want to share because God has moved so powerfully in our own lives. But first and foremost, we must understand that the books we write are for the readers first and us second.

What wise advice. I think with While My Soldier Serves you have tapped into a real need for military families. This is a good measuring stick for writers. Who is our readership and will what we want to share meet a need?

Thanks so much for stopping by and giving us some behind the scenes insights into how you crafted While My Soldier Serves

Enter a drawing

Edie Melson is doing a giveaway. Those of you with children, spouses or friends serving in the arm services are going to want in on this drawing.

She is offering a choice of While My Soldier Serves or the Deployment Journal. Comment on this blog or on my Facebook page to be entered in the drawing. If you share my blog on your social media let me know and I’ll put your name in again.

As always we will allow comments until Friday. Then I’ll contact the winner to get mailing information to pass on to Edie.

Edie Melson

 

Edie Melson—author, blogger, speaker—has written numerous books, including While My Soldier Serves, Prayers for Those with Loved Ones in the Military. She’s also the military family blogger at Guideposts.org. Her popular blog for writers, The Write Conversation, reaches thousands each month, and she’s the co-director of the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. Connections: Social Media & Networking Techniques for Writers is a print expansion of her bestselling ebook on social media. She’s the Social Media Mentor at My Book Therapy, the Social Media Director for Southern Writers Magazine, and the Senior Editor for NovelRocket.com. Connect on Twitter and Facebook.

 

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Interview with Author and Speaker Shellie Arnold

spindlechair_cover

I am excited to welcome Shellie Arnold to my blog today. Her debut novel The Spindle Chair captivated me. It’s the kind of book you can give to a friend who is struggling with their past and is more likely to be read than a self-help book. Check out my review on Goodreads.

My hubby loved it too. His words, “This doesn’t read like Chick Lit.” Not that he actually knows what Chick lit is, but if my guy enjoyed it so will other men.

Shellie, welcome to Writer’s Patchwork. Take a seat and help yourself to some Chai Tea. It’s a pleasure to have you here today. I am so excited (I know I already said that) to learn all that went into creating The Spindle Chair. Let’s get started.

Shellie Arnold

  1. Where did the inspiration come for the characters and their stories come from?

Thanks for having me as a guest.

There are two parts to answering that question. First, prior to illness starting in late 2002, my writing interests sat squarely on the non-fiction side of publishing. After God healed me on May 18, 2005, my husband and I prayed for eleven months before I started writing again. I didn’t take for granted I knew exactly what God wanted me to do. During those months I got pictures in my head, snapshots really, and a scene from what became The Spindle Chair. I didn’t know what those images were for, but in conversation with God I felt He wanted me to pursue fiction, even though that’s not what I’d been pursuing before. I started studying craft and attending critique groups working on what became The Spindle Chair.

The second part of my answer is, that I’ve always wanted to help marriages. When I realized what the pictures in my head actually were—scenes from a novel—I knew I could write about marriages using fiction, and actually show people’s struggles and emotions, history and discoveries. That’s the journey I hope to show through my fiction—a real journey through something tough, that ends with a stronger, healthy marriage.

  1. You have a passion to build strong marriages. Tell us about that?

I’m from a broken home. I remember the moment I knew my parents’ marriage would end in divorce. I was devastated, and as I grew older I was frightened of the idea of marriage. I thought “Either there’s no way to be married without hurting each other, or if there is, God isn’t sharing the secret.” When I knew God wanted me to marry, I pretty much told Him I’d only do it if He promised to teach me how to do marriage. I want to share all I’ve learned the hard way, in the hope it will help others who have as much stacked against them as my husband and I did.

  1. Why choose a pastor as your main character?

Great question! As a new author, I really have to prove myself, and one aspect of good fiction is the situations presented must be believable. I knew what I wanted my main character and his wife to go through, but I also knew I wanted God to speak to them through scripture. I felt it would be believable—or maybe more believable—to have a young pastor remembering scriptures he’d memorized as opposed to a new convert or an “inactive” believer.

I really wanted to show how a past hurt or trauma can affect a life and a marriage. And, I wanted to show that although facing that hurt or trauma so God can heal it is a painful process, that process doesn’t have to destroy your marriage.

  1. What would you hope your readers take away from your story?

Another great question, and thanks for the opportunity to answer it, because this is my heart: I really want readers to know that God is always at work in their marriage, even if they can’t see it. He’s always reaching, always trying to grow us, heal us, change us—not only to be conformed to the image of Christ, but to also “become one.” I hope readers will take away hope—both the belief and the knowledge that no storm in marriage is evidence of God’s absence, but rather is proof of His presence and work and purpose in their lives.

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1941103871/

  1. Any other writing projects in the works?

Oh, yes. Many. I’m working on edits for book 2 of The Barn Church series. Sticks and Stones will be released in October 2016. I’m also writing book 3, Abide with Me, which is slated to release October 2017. The proposal for my first stand-alone novel is with the publisher right now, and while I’m waiting to hear back I’m writing that book. It’s about one-third complete.

I also write and produce video seminar teachings on various marriage topics, which are available through my web site www.shelliearnold.com. I’m giving away a complete teaching package BREAK THE CONFLICT CYCLE. Just log onto my web site and you’ll see it and other YOUR MARRIAGE resources available there.

Rise to Freedom cover resized

Finally, I’m working on my first non-fiction book. The topic is sexuality in marriage, and I have a much different take on the subject than other materials I’ve seen. I can’t WAIT to for that book to be published. I’m hoping for a 2017 release date for Awakening: Passion, Pleasure, and Sexual Freedom for the Christian Wife and the Husband Who Loves Her.

  1. Now for the question I always ask writers. (After all this is a writer’s blog.) What one tip would you share with up and coming novelists that you wish someone had told you?

Something I wish I’d been told…That waiting for the right agent is a smart choice. I had the opportunity at different times to sign with other agents, but I didn’t feel like I’d found a great match. That was difficult, turning down representation at times it seemed I was “missing” my only opportunity and wondering if I’d ever get another opportunity for representation. Some fellow authors thought I’d lost my mind.

Don’t settle for someone who doesn’t “get” what you’re doing, especially if you’re like me working in two genres (which is kind of taboo for a new author, and not readily accepted). Keep working on your craft, continue improving your work, and work on every project God tells you to work on. Eventually He’ll present you with the right match.

Giveaway

Shellie is giving away a teaching package called RISE TO FREEDOM to one lucky winner. She is also giving away a paperback copy of THE SPINDLE CHAIR to another winner. Just tell me in the comment section of this post on my Facebook page which item you would like to be put in the drawing for. You can be put in both drawings. I’ll draw the winners on Monday, December 14th.

More about Shellie Arnold

Shellie Arnold writes and speaks on marriage and family. She truly believes that despite baggage, neglect, or mistakes, when husbands and wives listen to God, they can live happily even after. Her passion is sharing how God has helped her do exactly that. She maintains a blog at www.shelliearnold.com, and is the founder of YOUR MARRIAGE resources. Shellie is a mother of three and has home-schooled for over twenty years. She lives in Ohio with her husband of twenty-nine years.

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