Diane Samson shares about Gems of Fire and her writing journey

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Welcome Diane E. Samson, author of Gems of Fire. It is a delight to have you with us to talk about the writing life and your debut novel. Let’s start off with you telling my readers a little about your writing journey. There are areas that  parallel mine and many authors I’ve interviewed in the past few years. So exciting to see that.

I loved reading as a young child, but the beginning of my writing journey began with reading C.S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia in third grade. Although I might not have understood the underlying parallels until I was older, I remember clearly thinking to myself that I wanted to make other people feel the same magic, wonder and adventure that I felt from reading those books.

I was the editor of my high school newspaper, which for high school, was a rigorous program. My teacher encouraged me to major in journalism in college, so I earned a degree in magazine journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia and began a career in that field. Though I worked in journalism, I still held close the dream that someday I’d write fiction, but at the time I’d use up all my words at work. So, I didn’t begin my fiction journey in earnest until I stayed home with my children and also worked as a freelance writer.

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I wrote Gems of Fire (working title was Finding Anna) during my children’s nap time and sometimes late at night. I finished the first draft more than ten years ago. I pursued agents and publishers at writing conferences and was even asked to submit some sample chapters to a famous editor, but in the end, no contracts came. Life got busy. We moved twice. While living in Connecticut I became friends with an incredible woman who worked for a literary agency. She was kind enough to read and edit a few chapters of my manuscript as well as coach me on my writing, including recommending several books to read and apply to my work. I spent the next year re-working my manuscript. I submitted to #Pitchwars and then to #PitMad, which led to a contract with Clean Reads. I am overjoyed to be a published author as of November 2018. A writer’s journey can be lonely, but I had a lot of help along the way.

Your story reminds us it truly takes years to get your first book out there. Thanks for encouraging us all to press on.

Now tell us about Gems of Fire.

My debut young adult fantasy is Gems of Fire, released Nov. 6, 2018. It’s about a princess overcoming fear and figuring out how she fits in her world.

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Palace of Sunderland. Paradise to the peasants. Prison to sixteen-year-old Anna, daughter of the king. She can never escape the castle’s cold walls and scorning disapproval of her father and his brute royal counsel, Seamus. She’ll always live in the shadow of her late mother the queen. Will they ever see her for who she really is?

A riding accident lands Anna in the hands of traders who sell her as a slave in distant Kasdod to none-other than her father’s enemy, Lord Anwar. After overhearing a dangerous plot to conquer Sunderland and kill the royal family, Anna must escape and warn her father, even if it means facing her greatest enemy.

With the doom looming over her, Anna is approached by a dangerous-looking man in the dark. He claims to want to help her, but can she trust him with her secrets? The perils of the journey ahead will push Anna to the limit and answer the one question that has always plagued her. Will she ever be enough?

Anna’s adventures continue in the next book in the series, Valley of Bones, which I’m still writing. I’ve especially enjoyed plotting all three books and am excited to see where Anna’s journey has taken me.

 

Sounds exciting. Your cover is stunning.

 How did you research for your fanatasy world?

Part of Gems of Fire’s fantasy world is loosely based on a medieval European culture, but Morocco serves as the loose setting for the desert scenes. I also researched weapons, sword fighting, armor, moon phases, approximate distance one could travel in a day on horseback and other details. Though it’s set in a fantasy world, I wanted to the details to feel authentic.

I love when fantasy authors research real time things and add them to their stories.

What inspired you to write your book?

The inspiration to write has always percolated in the back of my mind. I was often plotting stories in my head. Specifically for Gems of Fire, when I transitioned from a working woman to stay-at-home mom, I sometimes felt like I was locked in Anna’s room with her. Though I loved being at home with my children, writing was a much-needed creative escape for me.

I can never answer this question without referencing not only Narnia, the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, but others such as Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, the City of Ember, Graceling series, Throne of Glass series, and the incredible, wonderful Seven Realms series by Cinda Williams Chima, which begins with The Demon King.

Writers write what they know as well as what they love. Clearly you love fantasy. As an avid reader of the genre you can craft a compelling story. Love it.

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

It’s hard to just have one favorite verse. Proverbs 3:5-6 is always a comfort, while Romans 8 continues to be one of my favorite chapters. A passage that resonated with me while revising Gems of Fire and now writing the next two in the series is Psalm 18:30-36.

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

I would invest in a mentor early on. I had learned what I could about writing, but until someone sat down with me and showed me how to apply writing principles specifically to my own work, I got stuck at a certain level.

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

Writers need to be self-starters, but we also need community. Right now, my community is mostly online, but I have been part of a writers’ group in the past.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

I almost always read young adult fantasy with romance subplots. Can’t get enough!

I am not surprised. 😊

 Where is your favorite place to write?

I enjoy writing in a quiet place, in view of nature. Our home backs to a small lake, so it’s a perfect setting. I’m not a coffee-shop writer because I get too distracted.

What a wonderful setting. Thanks so much for being with us today. Readers, continue scrolling to learn more about Diana and a chance to win a copy of Gems of Fire.

 

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Don’t you just want to open this cover and read. Check out the order links below.

 

More about Diane:

Diane E. Samson is the author of Gems of Fire. She was lucky enough to grow up on acreage just north of Kansas City, Missouri, with horses and dogs in the backyard. When she wasn’t dreaming of Narnia, she was outside riding her horse, training her dog or spending time swimming at the lake. Her love of words led her to earn a degree in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She subsequently worked as a reporter, editor and in public relations. After moving around the country, she has returned to the Kansas City area where she lives with her husband, children and dog. She will never be without a golden retriever.

Visit Diane on social media:

Website: http://www.dianesamsonauthor.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/diane_samson

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

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dianesamsonauthor/

Order Gems of Fire :

Amazon order link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07JWB434F

Barnes and Noble order link: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/gems-of-fire-diane-samson/1129907813

Giveaway!

Diane is giving away an e-book or signed paperback version of Gems of Fire to one lucky winner. Sign up for her newsletter following the link below for a chance to win. Winners outside the US will be sent an e-book copy only.  Drawing will be December 15th.

Diane’s newsletter gives you exclusive updates, new release info and author news https://mailchi.mp/737d6fa20356/authordianesamson

 

 

 

Interview with Author and Speaker Shellie Arnold

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

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

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

Shellie Arnold

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

Thanks for having me as a guest.

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

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

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

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

  1. Why choose a pastor as your main character?

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Any other writing projects in the works?

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

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

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

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

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

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

Giveaway

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

More about Shellie Arnold

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

If you’d like to continue following my blog sign up in the right column.

 

Interview With Carole Brown Author of The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman

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I took my preview copy of The Redemption of Caralynne Hayman as we traveled out of town. My hubby got little conversation from me. When I did talk it was to exclaim over the progress of the plot in the novel. Carole Brown has taken on the dark subject of religious cults and delivered an  important message for believers. Today, I am privileged to have Carole visit my blog.

Carole, it is a delight to have you share with my readers today. My first question is one every writer wants to know. What compelled you to write such a work?

Thank you so much for inviting me!

My husband came up with the idea! We take an interest in many news items especially unusual events happening in the United States. When the cult in Texas, a few years ago, caught our attention, we began a “what if” session.

Ÿ  What if a woman turned on the cult? You read of incidents of people escaping or leaving a cult and sometimes even the reason. I wanted to give her a huge reason to stay but rebellious enough to work against them.

Ÿ  Why would she do this? There had to be something so catastrophic, so horrid, she would risk everything.

Ÿ  What would give her enough initiative to do that?  What could that exact “something” be?

After answering those questions, the plot exploded from there.

I remember meeting a woman who had left the Children of God cult. Her story was similar to your novel. What research did you do to create the world of The Children of the Righteous Cain?

I, too, have known of a few cults and that knowledge lent itself well in this story. Even with that, I still wanted more information so was able to speak to several people who had more knowledge about cults; what were some of their actions and how did they think?

Ÿ  Some have weird rituals.

Ÿ  Most are manipulative and loyalty plays a huge part.

Ÿ  Many require monetary sacrifices.

Ÿ  Usually the leader is the ultimate speaking and commander.

I didn’t want to use an actual cult so went with creating one. I wanted something with some ancestry history, one big identifying emblem, and some very demeaning and controlling factors.  An action that would turn a normally quiet and cult-law-abiding woman into a vengeful person.

A tattoo seemed a good answer to the emblem problem. I did quite a bit of research on tattoos, trying to discover the right one for the story. Eventually I realized nothing would succeed any better than an eye. Chapter one gives the reader a hint.

I needed to decide on a setting and at first considered Ohio, but it didn’t feel right.  My second choice was West Virginia (I didn’t want to set it out west). With it’s beautiful mountains and the many back roads, it’s Appalachian history, and the possible seclusion ability it afforded, I knew I’d found the perfect place.

I found Dayne MacFarland and Cara Hayman believable characters. Some of their reactions reminded me of people I know. How did you craft these characters?

Caralynne was perhaps the hardest. I needed to make her vengeful, yet show her as a loving person capable of so many positive things if given the chance. Writing her as a devoted mother–bringing in all the sweet things she thought and did for her daughters and for her friends in spite of all her misguided planning against the men of the cult gave her a balance that very well could (and does!) take place in real life.

Dayne’s character: When my husband and I plotted the story, we knew Caralynne would need a decent and good influence in her life; someone who understood the cult ways, yet be convinced that change for them would also be better. What better way to establish a history than to have a young man who grew up at the same time as Caralynne. Then have them separated for a time and reunited; both changed from different circumstances and events of life. Though Dayne was a basically good man, he still was human: a bit prone to being stubborn as evidenced in his arguments with Professor Moore in college; a bit prone to anger at injustice (which is really a good thing, yet it must be focused in the right way). I wanted a man who showed sympathy and love toward Caralynne’s daughters and strong enough to stand for what was right and not frightened when threatened with ruin.

He was easy to write and I believe easy to sympathize with and love.

I love gentleness, strength, and deepness in a character even when they’re flawed in many other areas. It was easy to create Dayne’s personality as such because I kept visualizing the good influences he had in his life (in spite of being surrounded by such evil men): his parents and Professor Moore.

Is there anything you would love to add that I may have overlooked?

Here is the description of the plot.

Caralynne Hayman is angry and bitter over the abuse and death of her eleven-year-old daughter at the hands of a radical religious cult – The Children of Righteous Cain. So when her husband, a founding member of the cult, suffers a massive heart attack, Caralynne allows her husband to die.

Caralynne’s secret seems safe until Dayne MacFarland returns determined to learn the truth about the cult. His investigation and his rekindled love for Caralynne leads the pair toward a confrontation with the group’s leaders.

Can Dayne’s love for Caralynne bridge the gulf of anger and bitterness that divide the community? Or will Caralynne’s deadly secret prove too high a price for her redemption?

I hope readers will take away a greater sense of sympathy for those caught up in abuse or unusual situations. And for those who may read the book and hurting from any kind of abuse, please don’t give up. There is always hope.

You mentioned you are writing the next book in the series. I loved finding closure at the end of this novel.  Yet, it left me with many questions that still needed to be answered. Can you share a few teasers regarding what the next installment holds?

Here’s a brief and rough blurb:

It begins with a baby kidnapping. Elder Simmons, the antagonist, will not let go. He is determined to wreck vengence upon the MacFarlands, even if he has to do it from prison.

Cara and Dayne, now happily married, go through trials that will shatter their self-complacency and test their love. Dayne will be lied about and like Joseph in the Bible must hold steady for God’s timing. Cara has suffered hurts and abuse from her former marriage. With Dayne she thought everything would be smooth sailing. But when the lies surface, can she trust him, does she love him enough to stay strong for his sake? Will her mustard seed faith grow or be uprooted?

When is your book available and how can my readers get their own copy?

October 21st. The link is http://www.amazon.com/dp/1938499948/

Carole’s Bio and links

Besides being a member and active participant of many writing groups, Carole Brown enjoys mentoring beginning writers. She loves to weave suspense and tough topics into her books, along with a touch of romance and whimsy, and is always on the lookout for outstanding titles and catchy ideas. She and her husband reside in SE Ohio but have ministered and counseled nationally and internationally. Together, they enjoy their grandsons, traveling, gardening, good food, the simple life, and did she mention their grandsons?

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Connect with her here:

Personal blog: http://sunnebnkwrtr.blogspot.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CaroleBrown.author

Twitter:  https://twitter.com/browncarole212

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/sunnywrtr/boards/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/5237997-carole-brown

She is also part of several other blogs:

Geezers Guys and Gals:  http://geezerguysandgals.blogspot.com/

Stitches in Time:  http://stitchesthrutime.blogspot.com/

Barn Door Book Loft: http://www.barndoorbookloft.net/