A visit with Carol Grace Stratton and a Giveaway

Headshot session for Carol Stratton

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

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

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

What a horrid man. Obviously, he was wrong.

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

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

How wonderful.  

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

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

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

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

I love that one. 

Now, let’s talk about your latest project.

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

How did you research for this book?

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

What inspired you to write this particular book?

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s so sweet.

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

Cozy mysteries and chick lit (humorous).

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

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

More about Carol Stratton:

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

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

Here’s the link to order her book:

You can connect with her at:

Carolgstratton.com. (website)

Twitter: @carolgstratton

FB: Carol Grace Stratton

Carol is offering a Kindle giveaway for her new novel.

Here is the back cover copy:

Who Says Giving Up Dreams Isn’t Success?

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

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

Click on the cover for a sneak peek.

A peek at Sherri Stewart’s newest work and a giveaway

Sherri Stewart is my special guest today. Like me, she is a Jubilee Writer. One who started her career later in life. I am so encouraged by her life message and her newest release.

Welcome, Sherri. I always like to start out these interviews learning about my guest’s writing journey.

I came to writing late in life, but my publisher has been helpful in keeping her writers busy writing for new series and collections. I’ve had a lot of careers: French teacher, Principal, Flight Attendant, and Immigration Attorney, which inform my writing a great deal. Word Weavers International opened my eyes to the world of writing and helped me improve. Now I run a freelance editing business and have too much work since March when the pandemic began. I guess there are a lot of writers who dusted off old projects during the last five months.

As busy as you are you’ve managed to get another of your own projects done. Tell us a bit about it.

The Promise Keeper is a romance novella that will also be part of a Christmas collection. The common theme is “Misstletoe,” missed chances. Readers who enjoyed Serendipity, An Affair to Remember, and Sleepless in Seattle will like this book.

I’m intrigued. I loved those movies.

All writers do research on some level to bring realism to their work. How do you research your books?

First, I read every book I can find on the period and place in which the book takes place. I watch every documentary on Prime and on YouTube. There’s a goldmine of information on YouTube. So for my latest release, The Promise Keeper, the characters meet in London at an Eagles’ concert, so I bought tickets to their concert at Wembley Stadium, and if the characters eat at a specific restaurant, I eat at the restaurant—even order the same food. I walk the streets to get a feel for the architecture, the atmosphere, the smells, etc. Sadly, because of the COVID virus, I had to cancel my trip to the UK. But I’ve been studying the Welsh language for the last six months, and I’ve watched every travel film I could find on Wales. Fortunately, some of the book took place in Atlanta so we were able to visit without fear of spreading the virus to other lands.

I appreciate that you didn’t let COVID keep you from your research. There is so much available information out there without traveling to a location. I love how immersed you get in your research. Can’t wait to read The Promise Keeper. We authors often get a germ of an idea that evolves from there. What inspired you to write your book?

I’m not a big chick-flick fan, but I have my favorites—Julia Roberts in My Best Friend’s Wedding, Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality, and Kate Beckinsale in Serendipity. In fact, it was Serendipity that made me start thinking, what if? There’s something charming about destiny bringing two people together, yet it’s even more exciting if the God who created us has a special someone in mind for us, and He brings us together in creative ways. That’s the essence of the providence of God. So I started thinking: What if God had two Americans who live far apart meet up in another country? Since they’d eventually return to their own homes, they’d have to make plans to meet up sometime in the future. Wales came to mind. I don’t know why because I’ve never been there, but since choosing Wales, I’ve fallen in love with the country and have been studying Welsh, which is a daunting language.

Wow! What a wonderful premise. Thank you so much for giving us a peek into your writing process and your upcoming novella.

A bit more about my guest:

Sherri Stewart loves a clean novel, sprinkled with romance, and a strong message that challenges her faith. She spends her working hours with books—either editing others’ manuscripts or writing her own. Her passion is traveling to the settings of her books, sampling the food, and visiting the sites. Sadly, her research for The Promise Keeper trip to Wales and London was canceled due to COVID, but she did visit Atlanta, and she’s still learning Welsh for a future visit. A recent widow, Sherri lives in the Orlando area with her lazy dog, Lily, and her son, Joshua, who can fix anything. She shares recipes, tidbits of the book’s locations, and pix in her newsletter. Subscribe at http://eepurl.com/gZ-mv9

A giveaway- who doesn’t love those.

 Sherri will do a giveaway of The Promise Keeper. Leave a comment here on teh blog for a chance to win. She’ll choose a winner on Friday to receive either a paperback or e-book copy.

Link for The Promise Keeper: https://amzn.to/2Y07QP0

 

Connect with Sherri Stewart

https://www.amazon.com/author/sherristewart/ 

https://www.facebook.com/sherristewartauthor/

https://twitter.com/machere

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/758893.Sherri_Stewart

www.stewartwriting.com

https://www.instagram.com/stewart_sherri/

https://www.bookbub.com/profile/sherri-stewart

 

If you are visiting for the first time and enjoyed this interview why not subscribe to get more sneak peek interviews and other writerly content.

 

 

 

An interview with Normandie Fischer and a Release Day Giveaway

Welcome, Normandie. I love your novels centered around sailing. Excited about your newest one  The Sea Prayers releasing today. I just got my preordered copy today. So excited. Before we talk about your novel let’s talk about your writing journey.

Author N Fischer

My brilliant eighth-grade English teacher inspired me to write poetry, and that poetic voice carried me through the turbulent teen years and all that came next in a life filled with messy moments. In my mid-twenties, I was hired as a proofreader and moved from that to copy editor and finally to senior substantive editor for a publishing company in Washington, DC—excellent for honing my skills in non-fiction and narrative non-fiction. It wasn’t until my early thirties that I decided to try writing fiction as a creative outlet. I’d been sculpting (mostly commissioned portraits by then), but I wanted more, and writing what I loved to read seemed to fill that need.

Do you have any idea how difficult it is to go from paring a manuscript to bare bones for a technical tome to enlarging those spare words to create a fictional world? I read every how-to book published by Writers Digest Books, and I wrote, slashed, added, rewrote, and learned.

My first foray into crafting a full-length novel brought accolades, a contest win, and my first agent, but no publishing contract. So I wrote another manuscript and another and another. By now I had a second agent to whom I submitted manuscripts from on board our boat, Sea Venture. I was having so much fun sailing the Sea of Cortez that I didn’t push very hard for greater success; I just wrote and rewrote in gorgeous settings.

By 2011, my husband and I had to return home to NC to care for my aging mama. My life as a published author began with the sale of my debut novel, Becalmed, (which happened to be my third manuscript) and its release in 2013. Now I write from the Carolina coast, which is spectacular in its own way, and instead of dodging hurricanes by sailing to a safe port, we dodge by driving to a safe haven.

What a wonderful adventure you’ve had. Now let’s tak about your latest publishing project?

Sea Prayers ebook 9

The Sea Prayers!

Release date Today!

A waitress, a megastar, and an ex-addict wage war for the heart of a young girl.

Thirteen years ago, a spiked drink left Agnes with a permanent reminder of the man who date-raped her.

Her daughter looks like him, sounds like him, and even listens to his platinum records (of course, the dude’s a mega star because nothing is fair) but Brisa is everything Agnes has in the world. At least, she is until the day this music star sets his sights on getting himself a ready-made family.

He’s got millions of dollars, millions of fans, a high-powered legal team, and half Brisa’s DNA. Agnes has a run-down house, a friend who’s almost three years sober and afraid to say he loves her, and a lawyer willing to work pro bono.

Oh, and the whole town of Beaufort. That’s right. She’s got all those Beaufort folk at her back, praying to the God she has rejected, and not one of them is going to let Brisa go without a fight.

Another story of faith and redemption from the author of Sailing out of Darkness.

What inspired you to write The Sea Prayers?

Characters show up in my head, hinting at a story through snippets of dialogue or a line of narrative. For The Sea Prayers, it was this one: “How had her accidental sperm donor—or, to be more precise, her rapist sperm planter—found her?”

I couldn’t wait to find out more. Think of the questions those words generate.

Who was raped? What was she like at the time of the rape—and now?

What made her vulnerable?

Who raped her? What happened to him?

Were there consequences for her? How does she deal with them?

What happens?

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

You don’t have to aspire to be someone else’s idea of great; you have to aspire to be the best you possible. Don’t put off beginning the process just because you imagine you’re better at something else and don’t ever let rejection hit a pause button in your head.

What’s next after The Sea prayers.

In what I imagine will be the final Carolina Coast story, my WIP, Shoal Waters, revolves around a woman who discovers that her memory is failing—and who tries to protect herself while she still can from her manipulative and very unhappy daughter. (I’m also working on a third Isaac’s House novel, just to keep my hand in the world of romantic suspense.)

What genre do you read for fun?

I require happy endings—or at least hopeful ones—in the books I enjoy. My attention was caught early on by comedy of manners authors such as Jane Austen and Balzac in translation, then by the humorous books of Georgette Heyer. But I read prolifically, which means I’m open to many genres if the books are well written (excepting futuristic, vampire, or erotica). Currently, my very favorite author is Charles Martin, who just writes good books.

More about Normandie:

A life-long sailor, Normandie Fischer has been writing and editing professionally since the seventies. She and her husband retired from cruising Pacific Mexico in their ketch, Sea Venture, to care for her aging mother. In 2013, the three of them sailed from Beaufort, NC, to NYC to publicize Becalmed and to welcome Normandie’s first grandchild, Ella, into the world. The Sea Prayers is Normandie’s seventh book, and number five among the Carolina Coast novels.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS:

My Website:

www.normandiefischer.com

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

Amazon Author:  https://www.amazon.com/author/normandiefischer/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WritingOnBoard/

Buy Links:

Carolina Coast Novels:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07H5PYJSW/

Isaac’s House Novels:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01MYV8IHQ/

The Sea Prayers

https://amzn.to/2wFSa5X

https://www.books2read.com/u/m0geDl

Thanks for sharing Normandie. Now for your giveaway. Comment on this post for a chance to win an e-book copy of The Sea Prayer.  Tell me what part of her interview inspires you and/or if you sail.  Winner will announced next Tuesday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Announcing My New Baby : New Duet

My new baby, contemporary romance, New Duet arrived May 1st on Amazon in e-book format. It already has 5-star reviews. Check out the wonderful cover.

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Here is the back-cover blurb.

Isabella Melinda Wilson has been squeezed into the music ministry model of her controlling husband’s making. Before she can leave him, he leaves her a guilt ridden widow. Her mother-in-law is no comfort and presses the guilt button at every turn. Isabella flees to her sister’s home in Aurora Illinois insearch of her own identity and a new beginning.

Dan Sweeney has one goal. Be as normal as possible. After losing a leg, some fingers and his self-worth, he needs his service dog Brutus to help keep his PTSD at bay. Career-less and clueless about the future, he struggles to put his life back together.

Isabella isn’t looking for a new relationship and Dan feels unworthy of one. Can these two broken people heal into one whole love?

Here’s the buy link for the e-book.

Paperback coming soon.

Why I wrote a contemporary romance

Writing a contemporary romance after writing a Historical romance was a challenge but so much fun. An editor at a conference asked me why I wrote a contemporary after writing a historican. I told him the  characters called to me. I had to write this story.

The struggles these characters face is in part things people I love have gone through. But the lessons they learn about life and faith are mine.

Stay tuned for some fun upcoming blogs. I’ll be talking about New Duet’s setting. And interviewing Isabella and Dan.

I hope if your purchase New Duet you will leave a review. That would be wonderful.

If you’d like to keep tabs on my upcoming babies, read other author interviews and learn writerly things please sign up to receive this blog so you don’t miss a thing.

 

 

 

An Interview with Carol Guthrie Heilman’s Agnes Hopper

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Welcome Carol, I  heard you found a transcript for an interview with Agnes Hopper. Tell me how she came to be first.

Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar began as a short story that ended when the seventy-plus widow ran away from her retirement home. When the curtain dropped on the final scene, I squirreled the story away. Months later, when I pulled it out and reread it, doubts about the conclusion gnawed at my writer’s gut. Would a feisty, headstrong, outspoken woman such as Agnes escape into the night and never be heard from again? “What if” questions began popping into my mind and would not leave me alone

And so I began a long discussion with Agnes. What if you bumped into an old friend who lived there and then you stayed around long enough to make some new ones? What if you began to realize the administrator of the home ran a tight ship for sinister reasons? Would you care enough to stick around? To become a voice for those who were afraid to speak up?

The novel evolved from there. Along the way Agnes and I fell in love with some quirky characters. Writing Agnes’ story has been an exciting journey. Her second book, Agnes Hopper Bets On Murder, has a release date of April 15th. We are conspiring on her next adventures in book three with a working title of: Agnes Hopper Acquits an Arsonist.

I dearly love the elderly, and that’s a good thing because now I am one. Agnes has a spunky spirit much like my mother’s and the humor often comes from my daddy, who was an Appalachian coal miner.

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The following interview takes place between a reporter, Jenny Lee Jones, from The Timely News of the small town of Sweetbriar and Agnes Hopper. The newspaper runs a weekly series called About Town and Sweetbriar’s retirement home was next on the list. Future installments will include Blind George’s Pool Hall, the Kut’n Loose Beauty Shop and Rodeo Rags.

The scoop on the initial interview with Jenny Lee Jones of the Timely News

Agnes Hopper:

As we had agreed by phone, I met a reporter on Sweetbriar Manor’s porch while the other residents were either napping or watching soap operas. A slight breeze carried the scent of confederate Jasmine trailing up a nearby lattice as we settled ourselves in our rockers.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Thank you for talking with me this afternoon, Mrs. Hopper. When I spoke with Miss Johnson, she said I was welcome to interview any of the residents—except you because she had recently determined you did not possess a sound mind. Naturally, my suspicious antennas went up, and since the cook informed me your administrator will be gone until suppertime, I made a beeline over here.

Agnes Hopper:

She said that did she? I’m not surprised. She runs a tight ship around here for reasons yet to be determined, but I’m working on it. Leave your card and when I figure out what’s really going on around here, I’ll give you a call.

Jenny Lee Jones:

You realize I don’t have to reveal my sources if you would like to speak up now.

Agnes Hopper:

Oh that woman would know. I’m not worried about myself, you understand, but there has to be a reason for a friend’s nightmares or fear in another’s friend’s eyes or . . .

Jenny Lee Jones:

Mrs. Hopper, why would you think your suspicions have anything to do with Miss Johnson?

Agnes Hopper:

Let me be perfectly clear. I will expose our unscrupulous administrator when the time is right.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Will you give me the exclusive when you do?

Agnes Hopper:

Agreed. Let’s change directions for now. Call me Agnes. Everyone does except my friend, Smiley. He’s called me Sis from my very first day

Jenny Lee Jones:

And why is that?

Agnes Hopper:

I think he knew right off I was madder than a wet hen to be in this place, and a little scared, too, so he tried to show me he was on my side and willing to be my friend.

Jenny Lee Jones:

So you’re saying you didn’t want to live here?

Agnes Hopper: I had no choice.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Could you explain that, Agnes?

Agnes Hopper:

First off, my little farmhouse burned to the ground. Who would’ve thought a pot of beans left on the stove could do such as that.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Is that when you moved here?

Agnes Hopper: Moved in with my daughter, Betty Jo. Me and my pet pig, Miss Margaret, that is. We lasted six months. My daughter and I came to the conclusion we couldn’t tolerate each other any longer.

Jenny Lee Jones:

You don’t say. I understand the Manor doesn’t allow pets. What happened to Miss Margaret?

Agnes Hopper:

My dear son-in-law, Henry, came to our rescue. Miss Margaret spends her days at his hardware store. He drops her off each evening at Ben Blair’s Llama Farm just outside town, plus she’s there on Sundays. Everyone loves the arrangement, except me. I miss her sweet presence something fierce.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Yes, well . . . Why did you choose a pig as a pet in the first place?

Agnes Hopper:

She did the choosing. My husband, Charlie, brought her to the house soon after she was born. The runt of a litter and her brothers and sisters kept her from her mother’s tits. We bottle-fed her for six weeks and then took her back to the barn. Well, that sow wouldn’t have anything to do with her. First thing we know Miss Margaret was on our front porch whining and crying like her little heart was broken. From then on, she was ours.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Let’s get back to the reason I’m here. Sweetbriar Manor advertises a rewarding, enriching lifestyle. Perhaps you have misinterpreted some conversations or even let your imagination run away with you. Miss Johnson has had a stellar reputation since she’s come to Sweetbriar.

Agnes Hopper:

For a reporter, you’re not a good listener. When I have my ducks in a row, I’ll contact you. If I’m right, that woman will end up in prison.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Have you considered counseling? You’ve had to grieve over losing your husband, your farmhouse, your pet pig, and your daughter’s hospitality. Sometimes anger makes us lash out at anyone who tries to help.

Agnes Hopper:

Like Miss Johnson?

Jenny Lee Jones:

She thinks you’ve demonstrated some irrational behavior, like when you talk to your dead husband, for instance.

Agnes Hopper:

My Charlie is a comfort and he can make me laugh when things get tough.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Have you made any other friends here? Besides the one who calls you Sis.

Agnes Hopper:

Pearl, my best friend in high school, lives next door. Then there’s William who always chews on a fat cigar and calls me Red, because my hair reminds him of his mother’s. Francesca, his sweetie, thinks she better than the rest of us, but she can play a mean piano. And Alice is a dear, frail lady who writes poetry, talks in riddles, and keeps some secrets bottled up inside. And the one who calls me Sis? He’s a small man with big brown eyes that could melt a rock. They’re all my friends, and if they don’t start speaking up for themselves—I’m going to have to do it for them.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Why should you get involved? If you stir up trouble, you could be asked to leave.

Agnes Hopper:

I have a plan. Even if Miss Johnson shows me the door, and even if our good sheriff won’t listen to me.

Jenny Lee Jones:

Have you always been this . . . this

Agnes Hopper:

Outspoken? Gutsy?

Jenny Lee Jones:

Overly suspicious.

Agnes Hopper: I have a sensitive nose and I smell something rotten in this place. Expect a call from me in about six weeks. Or maybe less.

We stood, shook hands, and said our good-byes. I hurried inside. It was past time to get this show on the road.

 

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Another adventure with Agnes Hopper.

What a fun interview. Thanks for sharing it. I’m part way through my copy of Bets on Murder. Can’t wait to find out who done it. Agnes is a fun detective. Click here to order.

About Carol:

Carol Heilman, a coal miner’s daughter, married her high school sweetheart, a farmer’s son. She began writing family stories, especially about her dad’s Appalachian humor, for newspapers and magazines. One day her mother said, “We don’t have any secrets any more!”

Carol’s books, Agnes Hopper Shakes Up Sweetbriar and Agnes Hopper Bets On Murder, were inspired by her mother’s spunky spirit and her dad’s humor. She is the recipient of two Carrie McCray awards for writing excellence.

Carol lives in the mountains of NC with her husband of fifty-plus years. They love to play cards, go antiquing, hike, and visit grandsons on the east and west coasts.

 

 

The Many Marketing Categories of Your Novel

genre1

Imagine we are in the hallway at a writer’s conference with a group of fellow-writers. We’ve been discussing highlights of the event and throwing out snippets of knowledge. Small incomplete bits that need further information. My post today is a snippet. One I need to understand more fully but thought you might find interesting. Or better yet you might have thorough knowledge and could share in the comments.

Marketing snippet

Here is my factoid about marketing. I’ve noticed it as I complete my second author kit for my upcoming Contemporary Romance. I’ve heard it mention by many publishers. I’m still a bit confused.

Authors define the genre their book falls in before they begin writing. We use that tag to focus our words toward those readers. This is the general category our book would be marketed in. Secrets & Charades is a Romance. More specifically a Historical Romance.

For marketing purposes, it can be placed in a variety of other categories. Because of its faith theme.

  • Christian Fiction
  • Christian Historical Fiction
  • Christian Romance
  • Clean Romance
  • Christian
  • Inspirational
  • Religious

Because of the cowboys:

  • Western Romance
  • American Western Romance

Amazon allows you to list your book under three categories. My understanding (this is where I remind you this is my hearsay in the hall) if you change the listing you could increase your sales. If a historical novel were a secular romance it might be categorized under some additional categories steamy romance, erotic romance, sexy romance.

Some of the categories cross over as far as audience appeal. If a prospective reader loves Historical Romance with lots of heat my novel might not be their cup of tea. But then again, they might love it because the storyline engages them.

My upcoming contemporary romance can be listed under Romance.

And because of its faith theme:

Christian Romance

Inspirational

My hero has a prosthetic leg so we can add Wounded Warrior Romance (yes, it is a thing).

It might even be classified under categories that appeal to dog lovers. My hero has a service dog.

Don’t choose wrong categories

Although we narrow our genre focus while we write our story we want to be sure we are marketing it to as broad a market as possible without missing the mark. My novels are not children’s books or sci fi. Neither contain gratuitous sex. Listing them as erotica will irritate perspective readers. (No need for angry reviews.)

Another example

A YA Sci Fi would be classified under YA fiction

Sci Fi

Fantasy

Dystopian

Again, if it has a Christian theme it might also be listed under Christian Fantasy

Christian Dystopian

Christian Sci Fi

Inspirational and Religious.

If there is a strong romance element it might be listed under YA Romance or Sci Fi Romance.

book genre cloud

Variety of categories draws more readers

Adults could find a YA book in the Sci Fi categories. Adults read YA, by the way. Men might find Secrets & Charades in the Western and my upcoming release in Wounded Warrior.

I’m too new to this publishing biz to have any idea what is the winning category. And some of the categories I mention may not be one anymore. Even so I need to have some alternative genre categories in mind to add in future marketing. And for me I leave the final decision to my publisher and my marketing gal. If your self-pub you might want to ask your successful Indie friends what they would recommend.

Okay readers, any of you have more snippets of information to share about this topic. Curious minds are desperate to know.

Want to continue following Jubilee Writer. Don’t forget to subscribe before leaving this page. Please and Thank you.

Secrets & Charades book trailer:

Interview with Douglas Cornelius Author of The Baker’s Daughter

Today I’ve invited another Jubilee Writer to share his story with us. Retirement can be a great time to write the novel of your heart. Douglas Cornelius has some helpful insights for novice writers. Thanks for joining me, let’s get right to it, shall we.

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Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

I must admit I am not someone who “always wanted to be a writer.” Yes, I enjoyed writing throughout a long business career. Then as retirement approached, writing for fun became an interesting challenge. I hooked up with a writers’ group at my church (Church of the Open Door, Maple Gove, MN) and felt called to a writers’ conference (’14 Colorado CWC). That’s when I found myself determined to become a writer. I was attracted to a certain niche genre: YA Christian historical fiction (that would hopefully also appeal to a wider spectrum of readers).

 

What is your latest published project?

The Baker’s Daughter under the LPC imprint was finally birthed on Feb. 1st of this year. It’s about teens using their faith in WW II Berlin to triumph over Nazi evil. It appears to be off to a good start. It’s exciting to get instant feedback from Amazon. (I’m also following up with a self-published teen piece from the Renaissance period: Da Vinci’s Disciples.)

How do you research for your books?

I’ll start by reading some other acclaimed books from the era I’m writing about. In the case of The Baker’s Daughter, I tried to digest Metaxas’ Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Moorhouse’s Berlin at War, and Frossard’s Forget Not Love, among others. Then I supplemented with internet research as needed.

 

What inspired you to write your book?

I believe God wanted to do a good work in me, so the Ken Burns documentary on WW II and a Great Courses piece on Christian martyrs combined to point me to my story. I wanted to focus on how a person might get to the ultimate form of love, sacrificial Christ-like love, as exhibited by the martyrs, Bonhoeffer and Kolbe—the latter giving his life for another in a concentration camp. I was intent on weaving them into the story while showcasing their love as an extension of God’s unconditional love. I also felt the stresses of wartime provided ample opportunity to create conflict, both external and internal.

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Click on cover to order

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

With the book theme about God’s love, I chose to make my blog about “Love Lived Large.” So, the scripture I cherish goes back to how it all started: “We love because God first loved us.” (1 John 4:19)

 

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

Remembering that God’s timeline is different from mine. I would advise young writers to set some personal goals, stay focused, and pray that God will lead you past the bumps in the road, in His time. I also highly recommend going to a conference to begin making connections.

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

My writers’ group at church has been invaluable as a means of consistent feedback, as well as keeping me on track.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Every once in a while, I like to pick up a delightful mid-grade book such as one I’m currently reading, The Land of Beyond Belief.

Where is your favorite place to write?

I have a comfortable wicker chair in a sunroom with big windows. The peace seems to override any distractions.

More about Douglas:

Douglas P. Cornelius is a life-long resident of the Twin Cities in Minnesota. He started writing historical fiction after retiring from careers at Target, American Express, and 3M. When not writing, he enjoys spending time with his wife, two children, three amazing grandchildren, complacent old dog, and frolicsome new cat Selah. The Baker’s Daughter is his debut Christian novel, one in which he hopes to inspire readers to reflect on God’s unconditional love while experiencing the challenges of confronting evil at a critical time in history.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/douglas.cornelius.96

Website: http://www.dpcornelius.com/

Twitter: @DPCBooks

Amazon Ordering: https://www.amazon.com/Bakers-Daughter-Braving-Evil-Berlin-ebook/dp/B01N1V2YB0/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1496258309&sr=1-2&keywords=the+bakers+daughter

Douglas, thanks for visiting Jubilee Writer. The Baker’s Daughter sounds intriguing.

Readers if you have any questions for Douglas ask them in the comments. And if you purchase his book and enjoy it. Please post a review. Reviews are the life blood of authors. 🙂

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Why Narrow Your Audience Focus

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Whose your audience.

No matter how I asked, “What’s your audience?” The author I was speaking with insisted “my books are for everybody.” This from a conference attendee who’d heard from the podium and in the classroom many times—you need to narrow your audience.

I write Historical and Contemporary romance. And everyone knows women are the biggest audience for romance. Some men read romance. But the focus audience is women.

I can say Secrets and Charades audience focus are people who love historicals. Or those who love inspirational fiction. Adding those demographics, I have narrowed my audience more.

We need to define our audience to market to those most likely to read our books. Boys do not read girl books. They don’t. But girl’s read boy books. Whether the main character is male or female, a girl will read it. This is why there’s a huge need of middle-grade boy’s fiction.  Harry Potter is a boy’s book series read by people of all ages around the world. Most boy’s books stay within the demographics of boys and girls between the ages of nine and twelve.

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It is important to narrow your audience even on non-fiction. This same conferencee insisted everyone needed to read the miracles God wrought in their life and the devotional would impact everyone. Although everyone might benefit from reading these books, everyone will not read it. The category everyone does not exist in marketing. Although everyone should read the Bible, it is still catalogued under religious. And as powerful as the words of a non-fiction writer may be there still needs be a baseline for your audience. The Purpose Driven Life was marketed to church people but has been read by the unchurched.

I saw two wonderful devotion designed for middle schoolers. The author had written two versions reaching both boys and girls. There were places to doodle. It’s unique to that age. Not my idea for personal devotions but I have one friend who has always doodled when she listens to preaching. It helps her process. Although she is a grandma, she might use these devotionals.

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Having a narrow focus can draw all those who love your subgenre. It can also draw those who don’t. Mom reads my historical and tells her teenage daughter a bit about the story. She decides to read it then tells her friends. Statistically, most teens are reading Sci-Fi and Fantasy. I may find a new fan base with other-world readers. History is another world. However, most of my sales come from romance readers.

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An audience focus that is too broad is like a play marquee that reads A Play. Your audience may not buy a ticket.

Limiting your audience focuses your writing before you get started. Your vocabulary and jargon must fit your audience. This makes it easier to market your book when it’s finished. Defined readership helps when you write your proposal and during appointments with agents and editors at conferences. It sparks more interest in your writing if your marketing audience meets a need of their house. “My book is for everyone” is a novice response. And no matter how much you believe that, it won’t aid you in getting a contract or even self-publishing sales.

Anyone have any tips for narrowing your audience focus? Please share in the comments.

Do’s and Don’t of Book Reviews

 

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Write a review it takes only a few minutes.

I last posted a how-to article on submitting book reviews on Amazon. Today I thought I’d do a refresher on the concept of a review—specifically reviews on Amazon and other book sale sites. In these reviews, don’t think you must retell the story. The book ad has a blurb describing the content. So, our job as the reviewer is to express to potential readers what we liked or didn’t like about a book.

Our review can be as simple as one line.

“I could not put this book down.”

“I read it in one day.”

“Not my cup of tea.”

None of these one-liners mention the story’s content. But, it’s their honest review. A friend asks you, “Did you see such and such a movie?” Your response might be. “It was cool.” Now if you know this person and you have similar tastes you’ll go see it.

A book review needs a bit more information because many strangers will be reading your comments. Two of the one-liners above tell me the book kept the reader’s attention and the third it didn’t. Add a line or two telling why.

Describe what you loved about it. “I loved not figuring out who done it before it was revealed at the end of the book.” If I am looking for a mystery this is a comment that gets my interest.

“Not sappy. Strong female characters. Interesting twists. More than a simple romance.” I love a romance with more than two people making eyes at each other.  So, this review has my interest.

“I learned so much about life during the Civil War. Well-researched.” I like historicals that are fact filled. I’d consider reading this novel.

Some reviewers copy exact quotes from the book. That is so cool. Tells me the writer is a great wordsmith if the reader is captured by the words enough to quote them.

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What not to review

I read a review of a thriller that I found odd. “Too creepy.” She said. The reviewer added she didn’t like being scared. Not sure why she read a thriller when the whole point is to scare the reader at least a little.

Don’t bother to review a book you haven’t finished. If you do, admit you couldn’t finish it and say why.

Don’t review a book from genre you never read unless you loved it. It’s not fair to the writer. You can’t give an honest review of a genre you don’t like. There are specific ingredients that make up each genre. If you only like pie then cake may never satisfy you even if it has won a blue ribbon.

There are rare occasions when I’m asked to review a book way out of my wheelhouse. And if I am surprised that the content interested me, I mention that in the review. But often, I’ll suggest the author find someone who loves their genre to review it.

Please don’t review a book you have never read because your friend told you it was terrible and ask you to help get the word out. The flip side is true too. Don’t give a 5-star rating to a book your friend loved but you never read it. Honestly, I’ve meant people who are lemmings when it comes to reviews. This is not fair to prospective readers.

Longer reviews

There are those who write wonderful long reviews that compare the book to others in the genre or other titles the author has written. This is helpful to many who follow a specific author.  These longer reviews can often capture the attention of a new readers. If the review of an up and coming Romance novelist is compared to Nicholas Sparks or Debbie Macomber their fans will probably buy the book.

Be kind

But you don’t have to wax poet or long. Just be honest. While you’re at it, be kind. Snarky lines only give you grief. I did that only once. The feedback from the irate author and his fake friends (he wrote more criticisms of me under various names.) was not worth the time it took me to be snarky. We are not Sisko and Ebert getting big bucks to be brash, so keep your criticism mellow.

Misspelling and confusion

Be sure if you mention a character that you have the name right. Someone praised my heroine using the wrong name. It’s easy to do. We get involved in the story and then the names get jumbled in our heads later. Try to have no typos, especially the authors name. Yes, I’ve done that too. I’ve caught myself misspelling a name. Yay for the edit button.

Recap

Be honest.

Be clear.

Be kind.

Be accurate.

Don’t give a bad review for a genre you don’t read.

Don’t review a book you’ve never read.

Don’t retell the story.

Final thought

Please, please, please don’t give spoilers. As much as you want to, don’t tell me the twist details.  Save those comments for your book club.

What are you favorite kinds of reviews when you are considering buying a book?

If you’ve read Secrets & Charades I hope you’ve posted a review. If you haven’t read it yet check it out. There’s a buy link below.

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Jake Marcum’s busy ranch leaves him no time for courting, and his wounded heart has no place for love. When battlefield nightmares disturb his peace and his tomboy niece, Juliet, needs taming, somehow a mail-order bride seems like a logical solution.

Dr. Evangeline Olson has no idea her niece is writing to a rancher on her behalf, and she sure isn’t interested in abandoning her medical practice for a stranger. But when an inheritance threatens to reveal a long-buried secret, she travels west to become Jake’s wife.

Jake soon realizes Evangeline is more than he bargained for, especially when her arrival causes a stir in the community. As the two try to find their way in a marriage of convenience, their fragile relationship is further tested by cattle rustling and kidnapping. Can their hearts overcome past hurts to create a real marriage

Click here to order

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Mark Twain, Jane Austin and Me: A Lesson in Grace

A memory from earlier writing days came back to me when I read these quotes from Mark Twain someone had recently posted on Facebook.

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“Just the omission of Jane Austen’s books alone would make a fairly good library out of a library that hadn’t a book in it.”
” I haven’t any right to criticize books, and I don’t do it except when I hate them. I often want to criticize Jane Austen, but her books madden me so that I can’t conceal my frenzy from the reader; and therefore I have to stop every time I begin. Every time I read ‘Pride and Prejudice’ I want to dig her up and beat her over the skull with her own shin-bone.”

If you appreciate his humor, you’re laughing. If you adore Jane Austen, you are probably glad the man died ages ago lest you beat him with a shin bone. I found a more interesting lesson here.

Reflections

Reading Twain’s quote reminded me of a time in the 90’s when a dear friend introduced me to her daughter. She wanted us to meet because we were both writers. Her daughter had been published in the United Kingdom where she had been living for several years.

When I inquired what she wrote the conversation went something like this.

“I write horror.”

I am sure my face contorted in some offensive fashion. “I never read horror.”

“What do you write?” I’m sure her lips were in a firm thin line.

“I write Christian fiction.”

“Anyone with a crayon can write that.”

Yes she really did say that. And yes my hackles were up.

I assume we managed to have a civil conversation. I vaguely remember she explained to me how she reprogrammed the number pad on her computer for Gaelic accent marks.

I don’t recall her name. Perhaps she was an award winning writer and sold millions of copies. In retrospect it should never have been about who wrote the more noble subject matter. It wasn’t about who was the better writer; it was about preference. Not only what we preferred to write but where our passion was. Our passions were polar opposites.

Passion seasoned with grace

There are readers from all walks of life who enjoy our passion driven words. As writers we do no one any good by threatening to hit another author with a shin bone. We need to exercise grace in regard to our differences. Horror is still not my genre of choice. But I have learned from Stephen King about writing. Having reviewed a few horror books, I have grown to appreciate their value. Ted Dekker never ceases to get his readers to think on a deeper level. The experience has broadened my reading choices to include intriguing stories in science fiction and fantasy.

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I am not sure what exactly Mark Twain didn’t like about Jane Austin’s writing style, and his remarks obviously didn’t stop readers from purchasing her books. (FYI: They were not contemporaries. Twain was born twenty years after Austin died. ) Had they been contemporaries his remarks might have put a wedge between them.

Thinking about his words I realized I missed a great opportunity. If I had been less offended by the horror writer’s genre, perhaps that writer and I would have developed a lifelong friendship. Perhaps I might even have learned something about the craft of writing from her. Or she might have discovered writers of Christian fiction who don’t use crayons and opened her own horizons to new possibilities.

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