Pat Nichols Turned to Novel Writing after Retirement

Today I welcome Pat Nichols to Jubilee Writer, she and I have a lot in common. We share a publisher and are both members of Word Weavers and ACFW. And …well, I’ll let her tell her very interesting story. Pat

Eight years ago, my husband and I completed our retirement-travel bucket list, prompting the question, “What’s next”. Having spent twenty-five years in the corporate world, I was accustomed to meeting deadlines and accomplishing goals. It might sound crazy, but I kind of missed the fast pace. Not enough to get back in the rat race, mind you. But enough to consider starting a second career. One I believe God prompted me to pursue. Writing novels.

While I cut my teeth on two, not-ready-for-primetime manuscripts based on real people, three fictional characters began to form in my mind. Strangers with different backgrounds. Emily, from a small southern town, and Rachel, an Atlanta native. And Sadie, a convicted felon returning to the scene of her crime. They eventually found their way into my third manuscript.

From the beginning I’d planned to create an ongoing saga with a small town functioning as a key character. Thus, I researched everything I could find about series, finished book one, and began writing the sequel. Late in 2017 I was blessed with a contract from Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. Months into the editing process readers chose The Secret of Willow Inn as the title. It will be available on Amazon presale in late September or early October and released January, 2019. Earlier this year, I received a second contract for book two in the series, scheduled for release January, 2020. I’m currently working on book three and plan to continue the series until it comes to a logical conclusion sometime in the distant future.

I first realized a calling to write in the eighties during a three-year assignment as a public relations manager. Creating articles and stories for newspapers gave birth to my passion. Many years and numerous assignments passed before the opportunity to tap into my creativity resurfaced. Now with my computer sitting on a lap desk, I write five days a week from a recliner in my living room. The thrill of deadlines and goals mingled with the flexibility of retirement.

In addition to my friends in the North Georgia ACFW chapter and my Word Weavers group, my wonderful husband of fifty plus years is my best support. Although he doesn’t read novels, he listens to my draft, catches errors, and provides excellent feedback.

A friend recently asked how long I planned to continue writing. The answer? Until God takes me home or I wake up one morning and totally forget where I left my computer. I’m counting on the first happening before the second.

I feel the same way, Pat. Thanks for sharing your encouraging story.

Here’s Pat Nichol’s bio:

Pat Nichols launched career number two as a novelist, proving it’s never too late to follow your dreams. Drawing on years of corporate experience working with hundreds of amazing women from all walks of life, she creates stories about women who face challenges in the pursuit of their dreams. She lives in an Atlanta suburb with her husband of fifty plus years, is the mother of two, and grandmother of three. She is grateful for God’s blessings and unfailing love through all of life’s peaks and valleys.

Visit her on social media:

https://www.facebook.com/pat.nichols.52459

https://twitter.com/PatNichols16

https://patnicholsauthor.blog

 

Instagram

 

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Back Cover Copy of The Secret of Willow Inn:

Two women fighting for their dreams, one who’s long lost hers, are united by tragedy and a long-held secret.

Pregnant with her first child, Emily Hayes is eager to help her mother finish transforming an estate into the Willow Inn and write a novel about Willow Falls’ colorful history. A tragic event threatens her parents’ plans to refurbish an abandoned hotel and transform the obscure Georgia setting into a tourist destination.

Sadie Lyles left Willow Falls a murderer who’d killed the town hero. She returns as a despised felon and seeks solace in the town’s café. Emily struggles to unite the close-knit community and becomes Sadie’s biggest advocate. She strives to uncover the truth about the crime and save her town from dying.

To appease her father, Rachel, a VP in his Atlanta real-estate-development firm, relegates her acting dream to secret performances for imaginary audiences. After meeting charming, flirtatious Charlie Bricker, manager for Willow Falls’ future vineyard, she vows to break free from her father’s control.

If you enjoy encouraging author interviews and want to read more along with other writerly stuff don’t forget to subscribe to Jubilee Writer.

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A Visit with Devotional Author Martin Wiles

Devotional writing takes a special gift. Martin Wiles has it. I’m happy to have him as my guest today. Welcome Martin. As always, my interviews start off with my guest sharing their writing journey. martinwilesheadshot1

I played around with writing a little during college when my English professor forced the class to keep a journal. Initially, I hated writing in it every day, but as time progressed, I enjoyed it more and more. For some reason, my first genre of writing entailed poetry. Poetry wasn’t a genre of literature I had read earlier in my life, so I’m not sure why I was pulled in this direction. When my father died in 2009, I became serious about writing. How or why the two connected, I’m not sure. My father never wrote anything except the sermons he preached and the Bible studies he taught. Nor did he ever have anything published. I began writing devotions, and, eventually, began to think about having a number of those devotions put together in a book.

Devotions are not easy to write, and people don’t realize just how long it takes to write an entire book of devotionals. You’ve done more than one. Tell us about your latest published project?

Although I’ve had several articles and devotions published in a variety of publications, my latest published book is Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). This was a follow up to Grits, Grace, and God (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas). Since I’ve lived in the South my entire life, these titles were an attempt to put a Southern flare on the devotions. The titles are eye-catching.

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What kind of research goes into writing a devotional?

Since my books are devotional in nature, research normally isn’t required unless I choose to use an opening illustration that isn’t personal. Google is my best friend as I search for facts relating to the illustration.

What inspired you to write your book, and when did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

As mentioned earlier, my father’s death, for me, was the beginning point of my writing journey. My father was always there for me, but then again, he wasn’t there for me. Church consumed his life (He was a preacher.), and my brothers and I felt a little second class to his parishioners. When I lost him, I realized how much I missed the connection I wished we would have had. I suppose writing became cathartic, but then later became an endeavor to comfort those who were also going through difficult times of whatever nature. Eventually, the devotions became so numerous that I began pursuing putting them together in a book. As readers commented on how the words helped them, I became even more determined to pursue the gift of writing that God gave me. I think your experience resonates with readers. Thanks for your honesty.

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Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

Actually, two. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7 NLT). During a very difficult time in my life, when life virtually fell apart, I experienced that peace. I couldn’t explain it, but I bathed in it every day.

I love these verses too.

Now, I’m going to ask one 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?

No matter how young you are, when you know God has gifted you in an area, pursue the gift. I waited until the last quarter of my life to do so. I often think how much further along I might be with my writing skills and career if I had started earlier.

I can say amen to that.

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

First and foremost, my wife. She continually supports my efforts and tells me how proud she is of me, even when the rejection letters pour in. Of course, my mom is my biggest fan and brags on me to everyone—even when she sometimes gets the facts wrong. And then one special editor friend who encouraged me and helped me with the first devotion I submitted for publication. Because of her support, I’m now the Managing Editor of that same website.

What a blessing for you.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Though not one of the most popular, Historical Fiction is my favorite genre. I love history and fiction, and this combines the two and makes for a relaxing read for me.

Obviously, it’s one of mine too.

Where is your favorite place to write?

My favorite place to write is a place I don’t often get to write from: any place that overlooks a beautiful mountain view. I feel closer to God while in the mountains, and the ideas for devotions seem to flow freely there. In lieu of that, I rise at 5 each morning and retire to my chair or the kitchen table.

Martin, thanks for sharing bits of your life and your writing journey. You are also doing a give-away that works a little different than we usually do on Jubilee Writer. Can you please give us the details?

Yes, a Kindle version. The winner will receive a code     with which they can download the Kindle version of Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church.

As always, the winner will be chosen on Friday. I’ll send the winner’s name to Martin and he will contact you. If you are not a regular subscriber but want to enter please leave a comment with your email as myemail(at)my server(dot)com. I’ll pass a long the winners name and email to Martin. And as in all my drawing please leave a comment here on the blog not on other social media. So, if you are reading this on Facebook click to come to the blog and enter. Thanks.

More About Martin:

Martin Wiles is an author, English teacher, and freelance editor currently residing in Greenwood, South Carolina. He is the founder and editor of Love Lines from God (www.lovelinesfromgod.com). Wiles also serves as the Managing Editor for Christian Devotions and as an assistant editor for Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolina. Wiles has authored Grits & Grace & God and Grits, Gumbo, and Going to Church (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas), Morning By Morning, Morning Serenity, Grace Greater Than Sin (America Star Books), Authentic Christianity (Smashwords) and is a contributing author in Penned from the Heart (Son-Rise Publications), and Rise (Chaplain Publishing). He has served as Regional Correspondent and Sunday school lesson writer for the Baptist Courier and also written for LifeWay’s Bible Studies for Life curriculum. He has also been published in Christian Living in the Mature Years, Mature Living, Open Windows, Proclaim, The Secret Place, The Word in Season, Upper Room, Light from the Word, Reach Out Columbia, Mustard Seed Ministries, Journey Christian Newspaper, Common Ground Herald, The Quiet Hour, Power for Living, Halo Magazine, Joyful Living Magazine, Christian Broadcasting Network, Sharing, Today’s Christian Living, and Plum Tree Tavern. He is a regular contributor to Christian Devotions, PCC Daily Devotions, Theology Mix, Inspire a Fire, and is a regular columnist for the Dorchester County Eagle Record, the Orangeburg County Times and Democrat, and the Greenwood County Index Journal.

Buy links:

https://www.amazon.com/Grits-Gumbo-Going-Church-Martin/dp/1941103847

https://www.shoplpc.com/product/grits-gumbo-and-going-to-church

https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/grits-gumbo-and-going-to-church-martin-w-w-wiles/1124477466

Visit Martin:

Website: http://www.lovelinesfromgod.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/linesfromgod

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

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/martin-wiles-5a55b14a

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/martinwiles

Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/103365483951277333062

Don’t forget to leave a comment here to enter the give-away.

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J’nell Ciesielski stopped by to share her debut novel success and her writing journey

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LPC, Smitten Historical Author J’nell Ciesielski is my special guest. Her novel Among The Poppies is a wonderful tale set in World War I. I’m so excited to learn more about this talented author and how her debut novel stayed on the top of Amazon ratings on release day.

J’nell, let’s start with a little about your writing journey.

From an early age I was creating stories, but it wasn’t until college when it became serious. My first novel was riddled with beginner’s mistakes and will probably never see the light of day, but I kept at it. Kept writing, taking classes, studying the craft, and entering contests. Years later, after my third finished manuscript, I landed my wonderful agent. Another four years later and I got The Call on Palm Sunday. My first contract! Now life is a bit of a whirlwind, but at the heart of it I just want to write good stories.

I love your commitment to writing good stories. That is truly the key.

What is your latest published project.

My debut novel, Among the Poppies, was published only last month! It tells the story of a female ambulance driver who falls in love with a duty-bound army captain on the front lines of France during WWI.

I love historical romance, I find few set in World War I. Tell us how you did research for your book?

Since I was tackling an era somewhat unknown to me, I had to do a ton of research. No problem for me because I love research! It’s my favorite part of the writing process. I read every book I could get my hands on: fiction and non, biographies, diaries, first-hand accounts. I watched every movie pertaining to the period, listened to music of the age, and even spent a day watching videos on how to change a model-T tire. There’s nothing I won’t do to be as accurate as possible. Though I do leave room for fiction flourishes J

Research is always fascinating to me as well. What inspired you to write your book?

Like many people the world over, I got swept up in the whirlwind that was Downton Abbey. The elegance, the estates, the manners, and, of course, the clothes. Oh, to wear fancy hats again! Season two plunged the audience into WWI and there I saw it, Lady Sybil the nurse and her world-changing chauffeur love of a man, Branson. I had to be a part of this world! Gwyn Ruthers became a chauffeur’s daughter longing for adventure beyond the garage doors, and William Crawford is an army captain who, above all, desires order. But Gwyn is anything but orderly J

I have to  ask when did you realize your calling to create words on paper to share with the world?

Like most writers, I grew up with a passion for books. I’d gobble them up as fast as I could then sit down to pen my own. My first novel was in kindergarten where I wrote a love story between an apple core and a trash can. It wasn’t until I read Kathleen Morgan’s Embrace the Dawn where I finally thought yes, I can do this! No surprise the book was about Scotland J It was a turning point because I wanted to create stories and characters for myself and have it play out in a way that satisfied my imagination instead of waiting around for someone else to do it for me.

I love your honest answer. We’re shifting gears a bit now. Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

Romans 8:28 We know that all things work together for good to those who love God.

It reminds me that God is still in control.

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

Don’t stress so much. I’m a notorious worrier which I think lends itself from my being a planner. Things will work out exactly how and when they’re supposed to because God’s got this.

Amen, sister!

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

My husband. He gives me all the time I need to sequester myself in my office while he keeps our daughter occupied (which is a full-time job J ) and never ever complains. I bounce ideas off him, and he gives great advice on battle scenes and the inner workings of the male mind. He helps me remember why I love writing.

 You’re are truly a blessed woman.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Historical romance is my favorite! I can’t get enough of it. Highlanders, pirates, world wars, and once in a while a revolutionary tale. I’ve read a few contemporaries, but I’m really picky about those. When I read I want to escape, and modern-day life that I see every day is not an escape for me.

Where is your favorite place to write?

Since I don’t live on the water I have to say the second best place is my office. It’s pink, dotted with flowers, black and white pictures, and over the top girly. I love it!

The thing I am super interested in knowing is what steps did you take before your book was released to get your book at the top of Amazon ratings?

Let me just say that I am not business minded. Me and numbers make about as much sense as toothpaste and orange juice so when my publishing house started asking me about a marketing plan I froze like a deer in headlights. That being said, let me tell you what I did in hopes of helping others out there like me J

First, I wrote the best book I could. Without that nothing else matters. Long before that elusive contract fell into my lap, I joined writing groups and started mingling with people on social media. As an introvert I really had to push myself out of my comfort zone, but you know what? Writers are a pretty friendly group who are more than happy to help and lend advice. Here’s the important thing: I didn’t go into social media with the intent to advertise myself as a writer or my work. I simply talked to people, sometimes about writing, sometimes about what crazy thing my daughter did at school, or the latest book I’d just read, or favorite movies. It didn’t matter because the point was to get my name out there and make connections on a personal level. I can’t stress this enough because when it came time for release day, all the people that I had made connections with in the months prior were more than happy to help me out with.
Months before release day, I set up interviews and requested endorsements from other writers that I had become friends with via social media. Then, I set up a launch team to help get the word around about Poppies with Advanced Readers Copies. I’m blessed enough to have a very talented husband who happens to be a whiz on the computer so he designed a few graphics for me to share on social media, and gave a facelift to my website.

That’s basically it. I don’t have a big secret that I was just waiting to reveal on release day. The preparation started years before. First, by writing the best book possible, and then getting to know people, writers, bloggers, reviewers, and readers who could help put my book and name in front of an audience much larger and farther reaching than I could ever accomplish on my own.

I can see why that makes a difference. These are all musts for a successful launch but what was the key action on release day that made the difference?

I think this goes back to laying that foundation of personal contacts and making sincere connections. Other writers, bloggers, reviewers, and readers are some of the nicest people you could meet. They genuinely want to help and see you succeed and they were instrumental in promoting Poppies when release day came. Word of mouth spread like wildfire, so much that it took me by complete surprise! Poppies sold out twice within two days of release!! I believe that you can have all the fancy graphics and ads you want, but it’s word of mouth from fellow readers that gets books into the hands of readers.

Great tip J’nell and it definitely worked like gangbusters for you. Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your story with my readers.

Who is J’nell?

Believing she was born in the wrong era, J’nell Ciesielski spends her days writing heart-stopping heroes, brave heroines, and adventurous exploits in times gone by. Winner of the Romance Through the Ages contest and Maggie Award, J’nell can often be found dreaming of a second home in Scotland, indulging in chocolate of any kind, or watching old black and white movies. Born a Florida girl, she now calls Virginia home, along with her very understanding husband, young daughter, and one lazy beagle.

Among the Poppies FINAL cover

Among the Poppies blurb:

Gwyn Ruthers longs for adventure far beyond the stifled life society restricts her to as a chauffeur’s daughter. With the war to end all wars exploding across the Channel, Gwyn signs up to drive ambulances on the Front. Rambling over bomb blasted roads and living in mud bogged trenches is far from the exotic travels she had in mind. A simpler life doesn’t look quite as bad as she once thought. Especially when a handsome captain has her rethinking her objections to settling down.

Links for J’nell.

Social Media links:

http://www.jnellciesielski.com/

https://www.facebook.com/jnellciesielski

https://twitter.com/JnellCiesielski
https://www.goodreads.com/jnellciesielski

https://www.pinterest.com/jnellciesielski/

Order link:

https://tinyurl.com/ybg76f66

 

Grab this inspiring book and if you want to encourage J’nell in her writing journey leave a review.

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Celebrating Secret & Charades One Year Birthday and a Giveaway

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Today marks the first birthday of my debut novel Secrets & Charades. She had a long gestation period. Twelve years from concept to publication. Ten years in the writer’s womb doing rewrites, submitting proposals and receiving about 20 rejects. (The exact number escapes my memory. All new mothers forget the painful parts.)

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My award. I am so blessed.

Labor began when I won the Editor’s Choice Award in 2014. This resulted in two more years of laborious rewrites and editing with two wonderful book labor coaches Molly Really and Andrea Merrell.

 

Before my baby arrived, I had to wait for the Cover Design and do marketing to announce its release. I post the ultra sound photos of famous actors and models who represented my characters.

Talked about the historical content.

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When the Cover Design was finished, I posted it on my social media so everyone could see the cute outfit my novel would be wear.

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The big day came, March 15th, 2017 we had a wonderful launch party where I gave gifts to my guest to celebrate the arrival of my baby. A few weeks later I had a live launch and my guest cooed over my darling.  Recently, Secrets & Charades won the Maxwell Award. A proud mother moment.

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A year later it still has decent ratings. A sibling will arrive in May. My Contemporary Romance, New Duet is different from my Historical Romance. They will compete for my marketing time. Although we all know the newborn gets the most attention. Hopefully, by 2019 there will be some more Historical Romances joining my book family. I imagine a few contemporaries as well.

Oh, Secrets & Charades is being cloned as an Audio book coming soon. I am so excited. (More on that in another post.)

Thanks for stopping by and helping me celebrate and reminisce.

The Giveaway

I am giving away one autograph copy of Secrets & Charades and a $10 Amazon card to one lucky winner. Share this blog on your social media and post in the comments on the blog that you did, and you’ll be entered in the giveaway. Be sure to leave your email written as myname at my server dot com. I’ll contact the winner next Friday.

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Larry W Timm shares His Suspense Writing Journey

Suspense writer Larry W. Timm is my guest today. I always love learning what passion brought an author to write their story.  I’m sure you’ll be encouraged by Larry’s journey.

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Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

The power of words has always fascinated me. However, it wasn’t until the last ten years that I finally decided to chase this dream. I joined American Christian Fiction Writers, and that led to some life-changing friendships that fueled the fire. I started studying the craft and business of writing, joined a local writer’s group, finished a couple of novels, started a few more, pitched my two finished manuscripts, refused to let rejections crush me, then signed a contract for my first book to be published with Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. The road has been tough—with plenty of ups and downs. But, at the same time, it has been a thrill. I’m glad I’m on the journey!

What is your latest published project?

My debut suspense novel is called MURDER FOR EMILY’S SAKE. It’s about three women who are being stalked by a man who believes they are responsible for his teenage daughter’s death. He has convinced himself that had the women not confronted his daughter, Emily, outside of the abortion clinic and convinced her not to end her pregnancy, she would still be alive.

But they had spoken to Emily, and she had listened. Emily had made the decision to let her child live. Sadly, however, a few months later, a rare complication would cause Emily’s death in the delivery room.

Now, her father, sinking deeper and deeper into dark despair, vows he will bury the three women, just like he had to bury his beloved daughter. And he’s sure that after he buries them, they will eventually die…for Emily’s sake.

How did you research your book?

I drew from a variety of sources when working on a story. Like most writer’s, there are tidbits from personal experience that I used with the hopes of adding depth or believability to a scene. I also contacted people who answered my many questions. I also used the internet and the library, as well as various materials I have gathered over the years.

Basically, I do as much research as I think I need to do to make something believable enough that it doesn’t stop a reader from enjoying the story.

 What inspired you to write your book?

MURDER FOR EMILY’S SAKE grew out of an intense desire to write a story that highlighted the gifts that God gives to us, starting with the gift of Life. I wanted to use suspense as the fiction vehicle to both entertain and enlighten. My goal was to paint an engaging word picture of how Life is not only one of God’s greatest gifts, it is also one of the most fragile. I pray that readers will see that the sanctity of human Life is not only threatened before birth, but many times it is threatened afterwards by choices we make.

I was also inspired by my experiences serving with and around others who are on the frontline of the intense work of defending the lives of the unborn.

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

My fascination with storytelling goes back as far as I can remember. But a sense of “calling” began directing that fascination after I became a Christian in 1981. At first, I wrote non-fiction (devotional articles, ministry-related articles, etc.), but always wanted to also write novels.

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

I love this question! I would probably go back to the evening of January 18, 1981. That was the evening I became a Christian. I would pull myself aside and say, “Don’t wait to start writing novels! Get started now!”

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

This is easy to answer! My wife, Kristal, (and our family) is my best support system as I stumble my way down the writer’s pathway. She has always believed in me, and made me feel like this was possible. And she’s been willing to sacrifice so I could go to conferences, writer’s groups, buy books, and spend money on various writing-related things. She’s awesome. She understands that writers are “different” and she puts up with me.

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

Suspense is my favorite, but I will read books from other genres. I suppose I prefer reading and writing suspense because it keeps me engaged in the story.

 Where is your favorite place to write?

Oddly enough, I don’t have a “favorite” place. Or, at least, I haven’t found one yet. The best places for me to write are places with a comfortable chair and room for me to pace. And if Dr. Pepper and snacks are allowed and available, that’s a bonus!

What are your goals for your writer’s journey ahead?

I hope to travel on both the fiction and the non-fiction roads. I have one more novel completed, and a few others started. I also have a series of 10-day devotionals finished, and more on the drawing board. And recently, a good friend and fellow-writer urged me to write a non-fiction book describing my family’s battle with my daughter’s cancer. I will do the best I can to pursue all of these things.

What could readers of this blog do to help tell others about your book?

Since “word-of-mouth” promotion is the most effective form of getting others engaged, I’d be grateful if those who read and participate in Jubilee Writer’s would post my website information on Facebook, Twitter, and any other social media venues they use. My website address is www.booksbylarrywtimm.com

Additionally, if someone reads—and likes—the book, I would appreciate it they would take the extra time to rate the book on Amazon and Goodreads. Obviously all 4 and 5-star reviews are helpful…especially 5 stars (wink, wink, grin).

Your novel sounds intriguing. I enjoyed having you as my guest.

Thank you very much for giving me the privilege of talking about my book, MURDER FOR EMILY’S SAKE.

More about the author:

Larry W. Timm is a husband, father, preaching minister with the Morton Christian Church is Morton, Illinois, and a writer.

Website: www.booksbylarrywtimm.com (the website has links for those who want to buy the book, as well as a “Contact” form for those who want to send a message to Larry.

 

If you find help and encouragement from author interviews like this one, and the writing tips I share don’t forget to subscribe. You can get Jubilee Writer in your email twice a week.

 

Sarah Lynn Phillips Shares Her Story

My guest today is Author Sarah Lynn Phillips. Another Jubilee Writer. Penned Without Ink: Trusting God to Write Your Story  is a memoir of hope and inspiration. Welcome Sarah.

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Tell my readers a little about your writing journey.

I’m from the Buffalo, New York area, went to college in Tennessee, and married a teacher/educator from Michigan. Barry’s work led us to a school near Rochester, NY and a college in Northeast PA. God has given us three wonderful daughters and all these years later, two little grandsons. My husband unexpectedly passed away in May 2015. I’m still adjusting . . . grateful for God’s grace every single day.

Besides college papers, I didn’t write much until about sixteen years ago. At that time, I took a community poetry class and discovered I really enjoyed it. I soon found the courage to submit some of my work to small houses, and to my delight, had a few poems published. Little by little I crossed over into prose and found some success writing devotionals and articles. My mom introduced me to the Montrose Christian Writers Conference, and I later joined a critique group.

Share about your memoir.

In September 2016, Penned Without Ink: Trusting God to Write Your Story was published by Straight Street Books/Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. This inspirational memoir shares “My Story,” “God’s Story,” and invites the reader to reflect on “Your Story.”

Here is a book summary as found on my blog:

Penned Without Ink: Trusting God to Write Your Story will draw you into the true story of one family’s journey of faith. It begins with a near-fatal car crash, resulting in trauma, uncertainty, and life-long limitations. Their experiences will lead you to sit at hushed bedsides, observe delicate operations, and feel the angst of life and death decisions. In the midst of multiple layers of pain and loss, you will witness quiet miracles, sure and certain lights that pierce through the darkness.

With portrayals of both present-day individuals and biblical characters, Sarah captures the essence of hope born through her struggle to trust and rely on God. Between the lines, you will also uncover your own journey of trust. A faithful and loving God desires to write your life story—no matter what happens.

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How do you research for your book?

Accurate research was very important to me, but writing memoir can be tricky. Especially since I didn’t remember some of what happened immediately after the crash and beyond. I not only found news articles about the accident but interviewed a young woman from the scene – whose best friend’s aunt “happened” to be a friend of mine. My journals from that time period were probably the most helpful resources. I also interviewed family members and pieced together their stories with my recollections. I read each section with my husband, going over the last chapter just days before he passed away. I checked with nurses, a medical doctor, and a certified counselor to be sure I communicated those parts of the story with integrity. Photos of the crash and our recovery are on my blog under PHOTOS.

 

I also included many references to the Bible and not only carefully consulted context and commentaries but went over and over each reference in order to represent the Scriptures well. I depended on beta readers to catch errors I couldn’t see.

 

What inspired you to write your book?

The themes in my articles and devotionals often began with real life events, leading to come-along-side encouragement and hope. This became my pattern (http://www.sarahlynnphillips.com/p/my-stories.html).

After our family suffered the trauma and repercussions of a fiery car crash in 2003 and after months of recovery and years of adjusting to our new normal, I wondered if perhaps our story could encourage others. God opened doors for me to submit short pieces about our experience. I never dreamed of writing a book until later, but I needed these years to better learn the craft of writing and publishing. More importantly, I needed time to fully process what had happened to us and then be able to write about God’s grace through our suffering in a personal and realistic way that would lift others up.

After speaking on the topic of “story,” I began to seriously consider sharing our story in book format. It took multiple attempts using a variety of genres, but finally in 2014, I chose an inspirational genre and took the next year to rewrite my previous work. In July 2015, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas offered me a contract. I didn’t need to think twice!

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

For me, it was a gradual process.  As a young student, I struggled to “write” until a high school English teacher assigned a character sketch every week. Because of her line-by-line patience, I did well in college—writing papers that helped me make the Dean’s List.

The poetry class and small “successes” along the way led me, step-by-step, to the decision to write our story in book form. Writing a book begins with an idea . . . a dream . . . then a few false starts . . . tenacity . . . hard work . . . re-writes . . . multiple edits . . . finally a book proposal . . . hopefully a contract . . . more hard work . . . more editing . . . and then the marketing. And lots of courage. I count it a privilege to share God’s work “with the world.”

Do you have a favorite verse that resonates with you?

The theme verse I chose for my book is Romans 15:13: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit” (italics added).

My inspiration for writing comes from Ecclesiastes 12:9, 10: “Besides being wise, the Preacher also taught the people knowledge, weighing and studying and arranging many proverbs with great care. The Preacher sought to find words of delight, and uprightly he wrote words of truth.” These are my writing aspirations . . . so eloquently expressed.

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

Write with vulnerability. Avoid the extremes of sounding too plastic, preachy, or academic. It’s when you honestly write from your heart that you connect with your readers.

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

My writers’ group. There are six of us who meet regularly. Each brings a unique voice to the table. We take turns reading our work and critique page by page, line by line. We learn from each other, brainstorm ideas, and give suggestions. We go back and make our work better, so therefore read a fair share of re-writes. We give an encouraging word whenever we can and pray for each other. I have loved being part of this wonderful group of women, all believers in Christ whose goal is to glorify the Lord in all we write.

 

What is your favorite genre to read for fun?

I try to read a variety of genres to help me stay balanced and well-rounded, but if I just want to chill and relax I usually reach for historical fiction (many also published by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas).

 

Where is your favorite place to write?

My office. My resources are close by. It’s set up in a way that works for me. And I have two windows to offer inspiration!

 Check out her Book Trailer: https://youtube.com/watch?v=FryrDFsS73Y

 

Author Bio: Sarah Lynn Phillips is a freelance writer from Northeast Pennsylvania and has authored numerous articles, devotionals, and poems for both online and print publications along with her book Penned Without Ink: Trusting God to Write Your Story. Her life story has many wonderful chapters, but it has also taken some unexpected turns, including her family’s near-death experience resulting from a car crash and the untimely death of her husband. Through her writing and speaking, Sarah uplifts and challenges her audiences with her vision of hope in the hard times. She has three daughters and two grandsons. Winner of the Bronze Award in the 2017 Feathered Quill Book Awards Program for the Best Inspirational Category

Find Sarah at:

Her blog, Penned Without Ink at www.sarahlynnphillips.com.

Website: www.sarahlynnphillips.com  OR www.pennedwithoutink.com

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/sarahlynnphillips3

Pinterest:  https://www.pinterest.com/sarahlynnph/

Google+: www.google.com/+SarahPhillipspennedwithoutink

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15549995.Sarah_Lynn_Phillips

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SarahLynnPh

Linkedin:  www.linkedin.com/in/sarahlynnphillips

TO ORDER (Paperback OR Kindle Formats): 

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Penned-Without-Ink-Trusting-Write/dp/193849931X/

Publisher: http://shoplpc.com/product/penned-without-ink/

Have you ever thought about writing a memoir? Is there a memoir you’ve read that has inspired you? Share in the comments.

Behind the Scenes of Marriage: Make it or Break it

I’m so happy to have my favorite editor, Andrea Merrell, with me. I’ve invited her back to share about her new book, Marriage: Make It or Break It. Andrea, this is your first venture into a book about marriage.Andrea Merrell 2

Tell us about your passion for writing this marriage book.

After the release of Praying for the Prodigal, my daughter asked if I’d ever considered writing a book about marriage. The thought had never crossed my mind. She said because her dad and I have such a great relationship and over forty years of experience—with the good, the bad, and even the ugly—she felt I had a lot of wisdom to share with other couples. After promising to think about the idea (and especially pray about it), it became the only thing I could think about. There was almost a compulsion, an urgency to put my thoughts on paper.

What is the take-away you hope to impart to your readers?

I want my readers to realize that marriage is a God-ordained institution and one of God’s greatest gifts. A good marriage is a process, not an event. It takes commitment and a lot of work, but it’s so worth the effort. We have to put away our selfish desires and love each other the way God intended. My husband and I have learned many lessons the hard way, and we want to help couples avoid some of those rocky places. Two of the biggest keys to a solid, successful marriage are respect and open, honest communication. And there is no greater blessing than having your spouse as your best friend.

How much research did you do and what resource was the most helpful?

There were several resources that were helpful. One was The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Every couple should invest in this book. I’ve done quite a bit of research (and even teaching) on the five basic temperaments. Two of my favorite books on the subject are Personality Plus by Florence Littauer and Personality Perspectives by Linda Gilden and Tama Westman. I also gained valuable insight from Men Are Like Waffles—Women Are Like Spaghetti: Understanding and Delighting in Your Differences by Bill and Pam Farrel. This book explains the differences between men and woman better than any I’ve read. I also interviewed several mothers who are part of a blended family and researched other facts on the Internet.

Can this book be used in a group study?

Absolutely. The book is written in a casual, conversational tone with lots of practical information such as the different types of love, the five love languages, the four basic temperaments, choosing your battles, blended families, and avoiding what I call marital mischief. There are prayers and Scriptures to pray and questions in the back of the book that can be used in a group or for personal study.

Your title is intriguing. How did you decide on it?

I actually had a hard time with the title. All I could think of was Marriage, but I knew it needed a tagline or subtitle. About halfway through the process, I realized there are so many things that can make or break a relationship, so that’s how the title was born—Marriage: Make It or Break It. It’s really up to us.

Share with my readers a writing tip that has been your guide throughout your writing journey.

I’ve learned that the more transparent we are, the more impact our words can have. Pulling from painful experiences and being willing to expose both our strengths and weaknesses will resonate with our readers because they can relate. Everyone is looking for hope and a better way to do life. God doesn’t waste a single moment. If we’ve been through tough times and survived, we can share what we learned along the way to help someone else.

Author Bio

Andrea Merrell is an associate editor with Christian Devotions Ministries and Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas. She is also a professional freelance editor and was a finalist for the 2016 Editor of the Year Award at BRMCWC. She teaches workshops at writers’ conferences and has been published in numerous anthologies and online venues. Andrea is a graduate of Christian Communicators and a finalist in the 2015 USA Best Book Awards. She is the author of Murder of a Manuscript, Praying for the Prodigal, and Marriage: Make It or Break It. For more information visit www.AndreaMerrell.com or www.TheWriteEditing.com.

links to Andrea’s books

Amazon link for Marriage: Make It or Break Ithttp://amzn.to/2qxucJ7

Amazon link for Murder of a Manuscripthttp://amzn.to/1HlRLmy

Amazon link for Praying for the Prodigalhttp://amzn.to/1BFOhK9

Connect with Andrea

Twitter – https://www.Twitter.com/AndreaMerrell

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/andrea.s.merrell

Linkedin – http://linkd.in/1vSByxW

Goodreads – http://bit.ly/142LXjp

Google + — http://bit.ly/1Miy3dO

 Marriage cover

Here is the back cover blurb

Some say marriage is a dying institution. Others say, “Stop the bus and let me get off.” But Andrea Merrell—after forty-plus years of marriage—believes this God-ordained institution is one of His greatest gifts to men and women. Marriage: Make It or Break It is a result of a lifetime of trial and error, keen observation, and years of studying God’s Word. With her signature dash of humor, she takes a candid look at attitudes and behavior that can make or break a relationship, the difference in how men and women think and approach life, and the importance of honest communication. You’ll find danger signs, roadblocks to bypass, and Scriptures to personalize and pray on a daily basis.

This journey won’t be perfect, and the road is guaranteed to be full of potholes. But if you’re ready to learn a few truths that will make marriage strong—and a lot of things that will destroy it—buckle your seat belt and let’s get this bus moving.

Thank you for taking the time, Andrea. Definitely, a book worth checking out. It released June 25th. Click here to order.

 

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