12 Tips to prepare for interviews

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

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

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

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

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

Healing Heart

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

Rescuing Her Heart is available for preorder.

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

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

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

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

Taking Care of the Author in You

This year was difficult for me. Unlike other writers who produced a few books during the pandemic, I went into sleep mode. My productivity wasn’t what I wanted. Even after retiring from my job in August I still struggled to get my productivity to the level it needs to be.

The one writer’s conference I attended this year had a week-long class call Soul Care for the Writer. I so needed that encouragement. Most of the time I would choose a continuing class on writing craft or marketing. But not this year. There were four of us in that class. Four women, who were honest about their need for spiritual refreshing. I came away feeling not only reconnect with Jesus but reconnected with who I am and why I write.

Quiet time

Photo by Wendy van Zyl on Pexels.com

The instructor encourages us to take time for ourselves. For me as a believer it is so easy to forget to spend that time in God’s presence when I’m trying to get writerly things done. When I sit before the Lord my day is better.

Journaling

She encouraged us to journal the insights we get during our quiet time. And have a prayer journal. Taking the time to write our prayers down slows my racing mind and makes me focus on the words on the page and the things in my heart I am praying about. Going back to The Word of God reminds me that I am His and His peace and confidence rest on me.

What a difference that time with the Lord makes in my focus. God gave me the gift of words. Now I am more connected to the source as I write. Even as I write fiction He is there with me easing my doubts and fears.

Tackling the Giant

Photo by Negative Space on Pexels.com

The biggest giant a writer faces is Fear. We start our writing journey as a wide-eyed optimist expecting everyone to love our words. We believe it is a best-seller. Then our critique groups shows us weaknesses. (We feel they hate it.) Editors reject it with out explanation. (We feel unworthy.)

Now we listen to The Voice in our head that tells us everything we write is crap. It’s a waste of time and why not just quit. This is the personification of the fear within us. We get so focused on what others think or say (our interpretation of what they said with a negative spin.)

This is the time to shine the light of truth on the fear. Spending time in prayer, listening to His voice helps build a wall around our hearts. Affirmation from His Word will help change our thinking. Friends who support our chosen vocation and support us in prayer are priceless gifts.

Failure is an option

The only way to fail at writing is to stop. Stop learning the writing craft. Stop exploring new markets and marketing. Stop going to your critique group. Throw your writing away and don’t look back.

Path may change

We may have the great American novel in us or on our computer. But God may direct us to write something else. A fellow fiction writer was at a Book Expo checking out fiction publishers. She noticed an academic publisher’s table and the germ of an idea came to her. She pitched it right then and there to the publisher and got a contract to write a cookbook. The notoriety she is getting for this book is building her platform. Platform is essential no matter what you write. In the future, her novel has the potential for good sales with her established cookbook fan base. All because she listened to the prompting from God and willingly walked a new path.

Photo by Rachel Claire on Pexels.com

Don’t feel guilty

It is important to have time away from your laptop. I am so intrigued by my friend Pegg. She raises sheep for their wool. Then cards it, spins it and knits it into wonderful items. She also cans many things she grows on her farm. All this while writing novels and editing others. Her hobbies keep her grounded. Another writer friend does photography and uses her photos as part of her social media platform. She loves taking a walk with her camera.

I know me and I am not crafty and I often forget to photograph events I attend and the beauty of nature. I love reading and being taken away to new places for a few hours. Do I truly have a hobby? Something that relaxes me and allows my subconscious to tackle story points while my heart listens to His voice.

I color. Yep. You read that write. I enjoy turning on background music and getting out colored pencils and coloring books and spends some time using my hands doing something unrelated to writing. Lately, I’ve discovered Word Find puzzles. I prefer them to crossword puzzles because I don’t have to guess the answer. The hobby doesn’t have to be making gifts for others or something you can sell. But it does need to be something you enjoy. It can be something you share. I love walking with my husband.

Closing thought

This writing life is stressful enough. Add the pandemic and other unexpected disruptions in our lives and we feel bogged down. I hope these few suggestions help you refocus.

What do you do to refocus?

Creating a Writer’s Mission Statement

Photo by Zen Chung on Pexels.com

For years I fought the notion of a mission statement. I’m a writer, not a company. Why on earth would I need one? And honestly, the idea of writing one was overwhelming. This past October I attended a writer’s conference and in one of my classes, we wrote our mission statements. It wasn’t as difficult as I’d first imagined. I see the value too. My mission statement reminds me of why I write and what I am focused on when I write.

Businesses create mission statements to tell the world what they’re all about in a few short lines. It’s a reminder to the organization of their goals in those few words. It’s the plum line of all they stand for.

As a writer, I need that same plumb line, so I don’t waste time writing anything that doesn’t match my mission statement. This statement reminds me of who I am.

Here is mine:

I believe your past doesn’t have to predict your future. As a writer who embraced a call, I didn’t feel worthy to fulfill I use my words and stories to give readers hope for new perspectives and new tomorrows providing a foundation of God’s love.

Before I could write my Mission Statement, I had to answer four questions. I’ve added my answers so you can see the process.

  1. What do you do with your writing?

I encourage, inform, and teach others with my articles and stories. My novels give hope that a person’s past doesn’t have to control their present or dictate their future.

      2)  Who do you do it for?

All those who want to mature in their writing and their faith.  Women read my novels and I hope the struggles of my characters are relatable.

      3) What makes you unique?

 I walked through this writing door with no formal education or college degree. I’ve taken the time to glean all I can through conferences and classes. Because God has given me the desire to encourage others to move forward, I share my writing journey in hopes they are inspired.

    4) What can your readers expect from you?

  Stories with characters that reflect real-life and relatable problems. Despite those problems, they learn to move forward.  Blog followers expect posts that give them hope for writing success. Posts that are uncomplicated and to the point.

I Believe

Begin your mission statement with the words I believe and based on the four questions above craft it. You’ll probably rewrite it a few times before you’ve tweaked it to a concise statement that inspires you every time you read it. This statement will remind you what your heart’s desire for your words.

Reminder and Focus

When I look at my mission statement, I am reminded of what I do and don’t write. I have no desire to write flat characters whose lives are easy and nothing ever goes wrong. That is not life. That has not been my experience. But neither am I comfortable writing dark prose that leave the reader with a shiver and looking under their beds. If I want them to shiver, I take them from the terror they face to healing balms of hope and overcoming before the story ends.

My mission statement keeps me focused on my purpose. And over the years just like Corporate America, we may feel the need to change our mission statement to reflect changes we sense in the writing industry and our writing niche. A mission statement isn’t meant to guide your whole life (but it might).

Changing

Writing trends change, and you may feel the need to change with them. At that point, a revised mission statement may be in order.

Care to share your mission statement in the comments/ I’d love to see it?

The Best Calendar for Writers in 2021

My kind of planner

I’m old school when it comes to calendars. Probably because I’m a list-maker, I find the more traditional calendar with large squares for each day works for me. I turn each daily task into a handwritten list I can check off then throw away. My calendar helps me remember where I’ve been and what’s coming up within my writing career. I sometimes use different colored pens or a pencil for things. I even write reminders in the blank squares of things due to the next month. It is messy, but I’m happy.

Phone calendar

The calendar on my phone is for doctor’s appointments, etc. I don’t like to work on my phone because of the keyboard size. However, those who love their phone will find that feature valuable. You can sync it with other online calendars.

Online calendars

Google calendars can be shared. Great if you are working on a project with someone. It makes co-authoring a book less confusing. There are more complex online calendars, like Airtable. You can create a year’s worth of social media ideas and then mark them as done once you’ve posted for the day. Airtable has a free version and a paid version that helps get other aspects of your writing life organized. You can also download printable calendars from the internet and create your own daily, or monthly calendar.

Chunky Calendar

A calendar I find useful for novel writing is the Chunky Method Calendar. Allie Pfeifer author of The Chunky Method created it. She teaches you how to determine your writing chunk. The chunk of words you can write before your creativity dies. For example if you can write 500 words a day then you can use the calendar to calculate what day you will complete your novel, this includes adding in time for edits and rewrite. Knowing the endgame makes writing so much easier.

Dot and Bullet journals

Then there are the dot journals. Each page you can add your own dates and use colored markers to organize your events and daily goals. Some come with stickers or you can purchase them separately. You can draw your own backgrounds or just doodle. For those who are artsy or love neat, colorful calendars, these are for you.

Your choice is the right choice

Whether you prefer a simple block calendar, ,an artistic or an online choice than that’s the perfect one for you. And if you have no idea, take the time to explore all of these options. Use a block calendar and color code it. Try google calendar at the same time. It won’t take you long to figure out which option is best for you.

The goal as writers is to get things done on time. A calendar is only one of the tools in your writing career to help you reach that goal.

What is your favorite calendar to use, and why?

Developing loveable Characters

By Zannie Marie Dyer

You’ve Got Mail movie poster

Character development is much the same for books as it is for movies. Think of a well-directed movie as a type of power-point presentation, visually showing the construction of a strong character. To make my point, let’s take a look at a fun, book-themed movie, You Got Mail, starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. The plot keeps the audience laughing and crying, and peeking around corners for the next scene, but there’s something more—the characters themselves. Hanks plays the part of a mega-bookstore owner, Joe Fox. Joe is comical, boyish, and loveable but also attracted to shallow relationships. Meg Ryan, Kathleen, is also an owner of a small children’s bookstore. Her honest innocence is endearing, but she struggles with a developing bitterness and letting go of her past. Lovable as they are, both characters have defects, and both are evolving. Most authors know that compelling personalities aren’t enough, and real people are a mix of both endearing and annoying traits. But, there is another necessary dimension.

Character’s Weaknesses

A character’s weaknesses must not only be shown, but it’s vital to reveal how the personality defects came to be. If a nice guy like Joe Fox is dating an annoying, selfish woman, the audience wants to know why. This question is answered in a scene where Joe is reminiscing with his father. With a touch of derision, Joe reminds his father of how he’d dated each of his childhood nannies, discarding one for the next. A light-bulb moment follows—now the audience understands why Joe behaves as he does. Compassion follows and the bonding between character and audience begins. The same principle applies to books.

Now, let’s take a look at the character, Kathleen. While Joe’s competing bookstore is enjoying great success, Kathleen’s business is quickly diminishing. Despite plummeting book sales and the loss of former customers, she stubbornly holds on. Is this good or bad? While viewers and readers enjoy optimism, they also dislike getting stuck in conflict. Kathleen’s lack of resilience could become an annoyance—new insight is needed to protect her likeability. This happens when Kathleen is shown standing alone in her bookstore, enjoying sentimental memories. As she thinks about her deceased mother, a scene from her childhood flashes across the screen. There, we see Kathleen and her mother dancing and twirling together inside a cozy little bookstore—the very same store she’s now fighting to keep. Instantly, the viewers’ hearts are grabbed. Now, we understand Kathleen’s anger and stubbornness. The same strategy needs to be used in books. A backstory behind a character’s quirks and flaws creates a sense of understanding. The reader begins to, not only want to know more about the character, they begin to care.

Defining Moment

It’s also important when writing to show the defining moments of a character’s growth. This is clearly demonstrated in the movie as we watch Joe and his girlfriend become trapped in a broken elevator. As he listens to her gripe about her fingernails, his expression of disdain tells all. He’s had it. Meanwhile, Kathleen is listening to her boyfriend ramble about his political ideals in the middle of a movie. She simply stands up and walks out. These are pivotal moments of emotional growth when both characters decide to move on from failing relationships.

Joe, fed-up with his family’s tradition of superficial relationships, begins to pursue someone new—and you guessed it—it’s Kathleen. She, however, still blames Joe for her shop’s failure and tension grows as she thwarts his advances. The dance of romance becomes intriguing as we watch them interact with new life perspectives, working to overcome past scars of love and loss. These types of scenes keep viewers and readers riveted; we all crave emotional fulfillment, and we want the same for our story friends.

Kathleen makes another leap of growth when she realizes she’s not only good at selling children’s books, but in writing them. She closes her shop and starts a new career as a writer. We applaud this move, for she’s become like an old friend who we want to succeed. Meanwhile, Joe, who we’ve come to love and understand, is wooing her with flowers and intimate talks. And, because we know the backstories, we forgive them their faults and want nothing more than for them to kiss and make-up.

The Heart

The heart of creating strong protagonists is to make them someone we’d like to spend time with. No one likes a perfect person—they make us feel bad about ourselves. In our flawed human condition, we yearn to be better, to be more like our Creator. These are the same principles we want to see in the people we read about. And as curious, relational people, we also long for the intimacy of knowing someone’s past and how they became the person they are today. This insight bonds the reader to the characters, making them much like dear friends or family members. Using just the right amount of a character’s backstory is the secret ingredient to a likable and multi-dimensional character.

I appreciate Zannie taking the time to share her insights into writing characters. If you have an additional tip share it in the comments.

Zanne Marie Dyer

*Biography

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

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

Connect with Zanne Marie Dyer:

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

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

Halloween A Time for Romance

Yes, the title is correct. No mistake. In times past, Halloween was considered a time for romance. Single young adults planned parties to bring couples together. There were no ghosts, goblins, or zombies. Masquerade parties were usually more heroic in nature.

A Halloween party in the 19th century were times for hopeful single gents to find the girl of their dreams. There were several ways the party might start. The hostess might invite her guests to jump over a broom before they entered.

Apples

Often there were apples with the initials of eligible bachelors on them. Some clever families who had apple trees placed a kind of a paper tattoo of the single gents initials on still green apples. When the apples ripened to red, the papers were removed, and the initials were green on the skin. (Maybe that how the silly tradition of reciting the alphabet as you twist the stem of an apple. The letter that breaks the stem is the first initial of your true love. Okay, I am dating myself.)

Back to the apples at Halloween parties of the past.

Single women might be given the opportunity to choose an apple when they entered the party, and the initials on the apple matched the man she would share the first dance with. On other occasions, the web game was played. A large web of colored sting is woven throughout the room. Each young lady chose one string and followed it through the maze to the end where a gentleman’s name was on a paper. Again her companion for the evening.

Melt Tin Soldiers

And odd tradition at some of these Halloween parties was melting tin soldiers. I suppose the soldier represented their future mate. Once the soldier was liquid form, the tin was dripped from a spoon into cold water. When the tin hardened, its shape determined the occupation of her future husband. If it resembled a boat, he might be a sailor, an anvil-a blacksmith, and so on. Kinda like guessing the shapes in the clouds, I suppose.

Proposals

The Proposal game another popular game. Each man in the room had less than a minute to propose to each woman. Once their time was up the woman would give the gent a paper heart for yes or a paper lemon for no. The man with the most yeses won, of course.

Dancing

There was usually dancing and refreshments.

For those out west, these types of gatherings were the only times the single people had to get together. Most were busy on their homesteads and helping with family businesses. This was the perfect time to begin courting.

Be My Halloween Sweetheart

Late in the century, Halloween cards were exchanged. Again with a romantic twist.

I find the idea of these sorts of parties intriguing, and perhaps I will add one in a future novel.

Speaking of novels.

I’d like to give away a copy of my very first novel, Secrets & Charades, to celebrate the contracts I just signed for historical romance numbers four and five. E-book only outside the US. Otherwise, I’m happy to send an autographed paperback version.

Click link to order. https://www.amazon.com/Secrets-Charades-Cindy-Ervin-Huff-ebook

Have a romantic Halloween with that special someone. Share what you think about Halloweens of days gone by in the comments to be entered for a chance to win.

OH NO!!! Another Change

WordPress has changed things up again. Each time I figure out how to maneuver through setting up a new post and can do it with ease, it changes. I’ve put off using the newest version, Guggenheim, because I don’t have time for more change. No, I don’t like dealing with change. There is enough of that on social media to make my head spin.

But this month WordPress gave me no choice. It’s not fair. I have no idea who decided these changes needed to be made. Reminds me of going to the grocery store and the aisles have been rearranged. The bread I planned take a minute to grab now takes extra time. The bakery items are now located in a different corner of the store. Even worse the store no longer carries that brand. I am left wasting precious moments reading labels to figure out which loaf is similar to my preference.

Two Choices

I have two choices regarding this new change: whine and complain or figure it out. The writing world, like my blog server, is constantly changing. If I’m not willing to learn new things and adapt, all those words I worked so hard to shape may never see their intended audience. There are times we need to abandon one technology for another. It’s not a bad thing to dip our foot into something new to see if it feels right. We just need to get past the initial shock of the shivery change.

The older I get the more challenging these changes become. Some things have been wonderful. For example, I am so happy that the PC has replaced the typewriter. Carbon copies and whiteout no longer plague me. I don’t miss putting a manuscript in the mail for a publisher with a SASE. But I do miss hand-written letters on lovely stationary, stamped and in my mailbox.

A New Kind of Different

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

I’m figuring out Guggenheim as I write this blog. It’s not so terrible after all. Give me a few more posts and it should go smoother. Now I feel embolden to figure out other programs. YAY!

How about you? What new technology are you struggling to conquer?

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

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

What inspired you to write your Too Blessed books?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

How can readers connect with you?

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

More about Debora:

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

Other links to engage with Debora:

Facebook: @authorDeboraCoty

Twitter: @deboracoty

Pinterest: DeboraCoty

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

What inspired you to write your book?

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

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

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

How did you create your story’s characters?

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

dark corners of my unconscious mind.

 

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

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

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tell us, where is your favorite place to write?

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

More about Zanne Marie Dyer

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

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

Connect with Zanne Marie Dyer:

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

 

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

 

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

 

http://zannedyer.com/

 

https://www.goodreads.com/ZanneMarieDyer

 

 

Now for the GIVEAWAY

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

 

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

 

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

From one Book Addict to Another- Book Reviews

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

Historical Romance

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

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

Would their love survive the invisible wounds of war?

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

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

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

 

Literary Fiction-Time Slip Genre

White by Denise Weimer book#1 of The Restoration Trilogy

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

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

Time Travel Romance

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

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

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

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

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

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

Contemporary Second Chance Romance

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

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

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

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

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

 

Christian Mystery and Suspense

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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