Guest Feature: Life in His Hands

Only in our stillness, not in our striving, will God speak to us and reveal things we could never fully understand on our own.

Today I am featuring Jill Holler’s new devotional – Life in His Hands. Be sure to enter for a chance to win a copy at the bottom of this post!

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The hearts and souls of Christian believers long for a deep connection with God, one that goes beyond the surface and into God’s heart. They long for a purpose that transcends the fading glory of this world and touches the eternal things of God. Life in His Hands is a call to all believers to seek the heart of God through the pages of His living word and discover the abundant life of faith that functions on the full power of a sovereign, loving God.

Based upon the author’s own struggles in finding purpose and experiencing genuine faith, the devotional readings in this book are a testament to the unstoppable power of God’s word to change a person’s heart, mind, and actions. They are an authentic voice of truth and love that offers strength to those struggling to gain victory over the challenges to their faith. Readers will discover the amazing, life-giving nature of Scripture, which elevates the voice of God above all other competing voices in this world and brings peace to the soul.

Life in His Hands offers eternal substance to those seeking a deeper relationship with God and a life of purpose in a world that offers only the temporary. The longings in our hearts will never find peace and fulfillment until we trust in the unchanging words of God and the redeeming hope of Jesus Christ. Before our creation, God created a specific, purposeful plan for each of our lives, and it is not beyond our reach. Instead, is it waiting to be awakened through the power of a living, active God.

…Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us... Hebrews 12:1 NIV

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The Best Writing is Born from Anguish

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Recently, I was spellbound by David Wilkerson, a well-known fire and brimstone evangelist whose message stirred my emotion, knowing he could easily bring most to their feet or their knees. Clips of his sermons are posted on You Tube. You can search for him there.

“True passion comes from anguish,” he said. His words flew into me like a fiery arrow, illuminating my past. Wilkerson’s message centered around anguish and how today’s church is void of it. He’s a big believer in, Cryin‘ Holy unto the Lord. He professes the church has gone soft, that we’re basically a bunch of babies who want to be soothed and coddled. That we no longer tarry for hours before the Lord, prostrate at the altar. That God wants to see our anguish over the state of the world and our Godless nation. Wilkerson has that pastor voice. You know what I mean? He’s learned how to wail when he speaks, allowing us to hear his heart as it breaks for the sins of mankind. And if you’ve grown up as a fundamentalist, it moves you. Even if you’ve never sat in a tent revival, I think it would move you.

Whether or not you agree with Wilkerson’s message, you have to agree that true passion is definitely born from anguish. As a writer, I believe the heartaches and hardships we experience give us plenty to talk about.

And plenty to write about …

But, let’s be clear. It’s not about anguish over a fender-bender. It’s not about a bad grade on a test. Or losing your wallet. Or a fight with your spouse.

Anguish, suffering, agony, grief, sorrow and angst … comes from a break in your spirit. A temporary disconnection with yourself and the world around you. The loss of anything dear to you creates real, gut-wrenching anguish. The kind you feel down to the soles of your feet. Buckets of tears. Nobody wants to experience it. Nobody wants to go through something like that, and I hope and pray you never do.

But if you do, what you do with that anguish, how you channel it, will determine your future in many ways. And if you’re a writer, it can propel you into another level. I’ve read books where I know, without a doubt, the writer has suffered at one point in his/her life. You can feel it in the way they put the story together. Raising the stakes isn’t so hard, because they’ve lived it.

Not a pleasant topic to blog about, but I think it needs to be said. Personally, I hope I never see another drop of anguish as long as I live. I’ve had my share. David Wilkerson can wail as long as he wants about anguish, but I never want to experience it again. Ever. It’s not a pleasant place.

However, I want you to remember if you’ve closed the door on your anguish, the memories of it … you may want to revisit that dark place again. Especially if you’re a writer. Your writing changes. Something inside you clicks and literary takes on a whole new meaning.

My passion was truly born from the sorrow, grief, and the anguish of my life. Now, I can truly say, the joy of the Lord is my strength. A scripture phrase that has almost become a cliché in Christian circles, has power and new meaning in me. At some point the tears have to stop. The river of sorrow has to trickle to nothingness. We have to move out of that place and use what we’ve learned to write the story of our life. It’s not something we want to think about, anguish, but be thankful for it. It’s made you who you are.

And despite the fire and brimstone, that’s a good thing.

Guest Post: Why Rose Chandler Johnson Writes Inspirational Southern Fiction

I’d like to welcome Rose Chandler Johnson back to the blog for a guest post on why she writes inspirational southern fiction, as well as information on her novel: My Father’s House.

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Growing up, life is idyllic for Lily Rose Cates due to one constant – her father’s love. But in her sixteenth summer, all that changes without warning. There begins Lily’s struggle to find herself and the life she’s lost. . . . Marriage promises fulfillment, but her happily-ever-after barely survives the honeymoon. Her husband’s sophisticated façade hides a brooding man with even darker secrets. When all illusions shatter, Lily must make hard choices – abandon her husband or risk losing much more than her marriage. She flees their home in Detroit and sets out on a fearful journey to a house in Georgia that her husband knows nothing about. This is one woman’s compelling tale of love and survival as she finds her way back home to who she’s meant to be . . . in her father’s house. “…had it not been for Annie Ruth, I would have ended up right there rocking on the front porch beside Mama. Annie Ruth took care of me. She and Mr. John drove up in his dusty pickup truck every morning at six o’clock. She got out and came in, bringing her life and soul into the house…We were her cherished charges, and I was like her own.” –My Father’s House

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Why I Write Inspirational Southern Fiction – Rose Chandler Johnson

 

As a Christian, I have a Christian world view and see the hand of God at work in our lives. I want my stories to reflect that view. As with any story I write, I not only want to give pleasure to the reader, but I also want to leave them with an overriding inspirational message or sense of hope. For my novel, My Father’s House, I wanted to write a story about a young woman with an indomitable spirit who in spite of devastating hardships, disappointments, personal loss and mistakes ultimately finds happiness. The story begins with a quote from the 23rd Psalm: Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.  

Still reeling from a childhood tragedy, Lily Rose seeks to fill the hole in her heart in marriage. Sadly, she finds herself in an abusive marriage. The question is: Will she survive it? Lily Rose’s warm heart endears her to the reader who wants to know that she’s going to be all right. Told from first-person point of view, the reader takes the journey with her, but the painful experiences are not the main focus of her triumphant story. When Lily Rose reconnects with family and faith, we get a glimpse of the bright future God has in store for her. One reader wrote that the story “made my heart smile.” I’m happy to accomplish that with this story.

The setting needed to play a critical part in My Father’s House as well.  So, with my roots firmly planted in Georgia, I modelled my fictional town after so many small Southern towns, and I set in some of my love of nature. Being a Southerner, I had definite ideas about elements I needed for this story to come alive. Besides fascinating characters and a distinctive setting, there had to be a little crazy, eccentric, and some downright meanness, mixed with suspense, romance, and lots of southern charm.  If the story makes you long for dirt roads and blackberry picking, shade trees and front porch visiting, then I’ve done my job.

There’s No Social Media Like Speaking to Readers Face-to-Face

 

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As a writer, my comfort zone, like most writers, is at home wrapped in the warm, soft blanket of creation. To create well-rounded, compelling characters, and pull them through the high stakes of their lives … there is simply no place I’d rather be.

But every so often, a writer has to get out and meet their readers. Word of mouth is truly the best way to sell books, but guess who must get that ball rolling? The writer. Once an event is booked, once you arrive on the scene, how do you size up the audience? Is the speech you have prepared the right one?

Be proactive. If you want to get an audience on your side, first you need to choose the right length of time to talk. Sometimes, even when they give you an allotted time to speak, you know after arriving, to shorten it, skip the Q & A, or change the speech entirely.

How can you make that decision? There is no fast rule here. You must learn to analyze each audience. I remember hearing that one pastor offered this silent prayer every time he stepped into the pulpit: “Lord, fill my mouth with worthwhile stuff, and nudge me when I’ve said enough.” Cute.

If you are the main event, if they came specifically to hear you speak, you possess much more latitude. But if you are the “scheduled speaker” at a business lunch, a monthly meeting, or a Mother’s Day event, if the audience didn’t come because of you, then do your homework and be prepared. Some folks in the audience, guaranteed, have never even heard of you. Unless you’re a celebrity author, you’ve got to make that group fall in love with you and want to take a piece of you home. Your book!

A program coordinator will typically suggest a specific length for your presentation, and usually it’s thirty minutes to an hour. Nod your head, appear appreciative, say thank you, then totally ignore whatever time frame they gave you.

Unless the entire program is focused on you and your books, meetings and conferences rarely stay on schedule. Technical glitches eat up time. Coffee breaks have a mysterious way of expanding. Attendees run late. Don’t assume you will get all the time you’ve been promised.

Event planners have an agenda. They think in terms of “time slots.” They need a speaker to fill their speaker slot on their schedule. Fine. But good speakers do more than fill time slots. As the invited speaker, your job is to entertain, enlighten, communicate and captivate your audience, all while selling your book(s) in the process. Tough process? You bet. But the good news, you can learn how to speak to your readers, be great at it, and have fun doing it!

Consider the place of the event. Is it inside or outside? Is it air-conditioned? Women and men? How many will attend and are the seats comfortable? It’s hard to communicate with an audience when they are uncomfortable. If you talk too long, they will tune you out. If it’s a lunch meeting, remember these folks need to get back to work. You want to give them enough time to buy your book!

What precedes your presentation? For example, if you’re scheduled to talk right after lunch, understand that lunch often runs overtime and so you might get less time to deliver your talk. Also, folks get sleepy. Don’t drag on and on. Give an interesting, quick, and to the point presentation. Talk in a friendly tone but don’t fiddle with your hair. And above all, remember to smile! Some say, “be yourself” but as a speaker you may want to spend your time as someone else! What a great excuse to do that! Crawl out of your own skin and into the skin of a well-known actor, or orator. Nobody has to know. Again, have fun!

On occasion the program director may want you to speak while the audience is eating. Try to get them to change this. People want to visit with those at their table when eating, not have to listen to a speaker. I know, crazy, but it happens.

Often a cocktail hour or a reception follows and the audience will be itching to get on with it. Not a comfortable situation to be in. But you have deal with this. Don’t just get through it, have fun with it. I’ve changed my speech several times, gearing it to the mood of the audience. If you don’t think you’re talented enough to do this, then I suggest you take a class in public speaking or join Toastmasters for a while, and learn how to manage your audience.

Always factor in a few minutes for starting late. I’ve sat in Rotary meetings that have run over, giving me a whole ten minutes to wow the room. I jump in with a quick reading, about a paragraph of my book, something funny, and talk about what will resonate with the audience. Enough to whet their appetite and buy the book. But never, ever look or sound irritated. Common sense, right? You’d be surprised.

When you arrive, are the women friendly? If it’s a mixed group, will that bother you? Do they welcome you warmly? Most do, but every once in a while you walk into a freezer. Truly, that’s when you make it a challenge. Your dog and pony show can surprise them, have them rushing to your table to buy your book after your closing remarks. Even if you’re a great speaker, be prepared for a non-responsive audience. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.

Don’t lecture. Find a coach to help you create compelling speeches about your work, research, and the book itself. Jodi Picoult is famous for her research prior to writing her novel. I’ve heard her speak on three separate occasions, and each time she spellbinds the audience with her story. I’ve also been in the audience of many other authors who put folks to sleep, or have no idea how to speak to a group. I’ve actually been quite embarrassed for them.

Allow time for someone to introduce you, and prepare that ahead of time. Make sure they have the correct bio in hand, or some interesting piece of news you would like the audience to know.

It’s okay to use your notes, walk around, or stand behind a podium. Dress for the event. Don’t overdress. And allow time for Questions and Answers. At most Book Clubs, the entire time is taken up in Q&A. It’s very informal and I love this. It’s easy, and the time goes fast.

But always, always allow time for selling your book.

Do your best. Once again, give the audience 100% and be prepared to shorten or change the speech upon your arrival. Never forget that the more you say, the less people remember. But take five minutes and read from your book. It doesn’t have to be from the first page, but make sure it’s a good part, and read in character if you can. I often turn into a Southern Fried Woman when I read. It’s just a part of me, so it’s easy. Find your niche. Know who you are as a writer and a speaker. It takes practice, hard work, and you must be fearless.

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But more than anything, know your audience. If you can learn to read the faces, your success rate climbs. In invitations to speak, and in book sales. I’ve been professionally writing and speaking for well over a decade now, and I can tell you there is no social media like meeting your readers face to face.

What Were You Trying to Prove?

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Every once in a while I’m asked to explain Televenge, because secular folks don’t want to be preached at, and Christians don’t want to face the darkness that exists within the church. Granted, faith is powerful, it can be exploited, but some have been crushed beneath the heels of their own pastors, and should we choose to write about it, it becomes a delicate balancing act.

It was my determination that Televenge evolve as a story about how those who abuse their position in the pulpit can over time; literally destroy those who faithfully sit in the pews week after week. I wrote it as a woman of faith, not “an angry lady jabbing at any one pastor or specific religion because a mean church hurt me once,” or someone trying to get attention. I can think of better, safer ways to call attention to myself.

For me, the gold perk of writing is working alone, months on end, in sweats and fuzzy socks with no thought of time or the way I look with no makeup. Despite what some may think, my faith sustains me daily. But I recognize that thousands have blindly followed only to have their family units, their core beliefs, and their way of life slaughtered by a “thus saith the Lord” from a man or woman in the pulpit. My biggest revelation, breaking free from my church, was that “touch not my anointed” works both ways.

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In the end and without hesitation or apology, and regardless of denomination, Televenge uncovers the madness within the church, as well as big flamboyant pastors and their miracles. But more than that, the story embraces the healing balm of Gilead, the real faithfulness of Jesus Christ, and the peace of God that passes all understanding.

My answer to those who hesitate, don’t over analyze it. Just jump in and enjoy the story.

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Interview: Kelly Hagen

Today on the  blog I have Author Kelly Hagen for an interview, I hope you enjoy what she has to say!

1.) When did you decide to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something?

Honestly, one day when my son was younger I sat down and wrote a little something for him. I never thought any more about it after that. It was just something special I had written for us at the time. Years later I ran across it again and decided to send it in to a publishing company. All they could do was tell me no, right?
Well, they didn’t tell me no, and “Jake and Jesus” has been on amazon for a couple years now. Since then I’ve went on to write three young adult/adult books which you can also find on amazon.

2.) Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from? Why do you write what you do?

God and life.
I write what I do because I think it is important for children, teens, and adults to know that Jesus loves them. To know there is a battle for their souls. And to know that, even when bad things happen, we can open our heart to Him and find healing.

3.) Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you? How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I’ve tried using an outline/plot, but it just didn’t work for me. Maybe I’ll get there one day, but for now I just see where the story/idea takes me. I don’t write unless I “feel” it. So it can be a slow process sometimes.
I think I’ve improved with “painting” the picture I hope my readers can see when they flip through the pages of one of my stories. I think this area will improve even more with prayer and more writing. It is all a learning process and becoming more comfortable and confident in what you are doing.

4.) What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing? If you’re a Christian, what are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future? If you would, please tell us what was the hardest thing about writing your last book? How long does it typically take you to finish your books?

The hardest thing for me is the silent period in between when I write. Sometimes there’s days or even weeks of nothing. Not a single word. That can be a little frustrating, but I’ve learned if I push or force the words, it doesn’t turn out pretty.
I think what I struggled with most when writing “Worthy” was finding the right balance and strength for each character. I didn’t want to portray any angel, demon, or human as to weak or to strong.
With my last three books it has taken me just around a year from start to finish. Which covers from when the first word was written, to the editing, cover design, formatting, and then publishing to amazon.

5.) Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.

I guess my three biggest frustrations would be:
1. What I like to call my “hurry up and wait” process
2. Marketing (not my strong point)
3. Making time to write when the ideas and words come at those “not so great” moments.

6.) On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?

I get excited seeing the story finally come together when I had no idea how it was going to happen.

7.) What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?

I’m not reading anything at the moment, but two of my favorite authors are Frank Peretti and Penny Zeller. I like Peretti because through his stories the spiritual world around us became more real for me. And Penny Zeller opened my heart to Historical Fiction. Love her Montana Skies series.

Kelly Hagen’s Published works:

1. Jake and Jesus Trailer
2. Haunted by the Past 
3. Trent: Everyone has a Past (Sequel to Haunted by the Past) 
4. Worthy
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Bio:
Kelly Hagen is the wife of a very hard working man and a stay at home mom. She has three children that she calls her “wonderful blessings” When she’s not spending time with her family or writing you can find her playing on the Wii, or planning/making lists. She also enjoys listening to music and watching her favorite shows.
You can find Kelly on facebook and twitter.
Facebook
Twitter
Email: author.k.hagen@gmail.com

#LeafyPages Twitter Chat!

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Tonight in just a half hour(9 Eastern, 8 Central, 7 Mountain, 6 Pacific) I will be participating in the #LeafyPages Twitter chat. Follow that hashtag on Twitter and you’ll be able to join in as we discuss how readers can help out their favorite authors. Be sure to stop on by!

 

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Interview: Tammie D. Croft

Today on the blog I have an interview with author Tammie D. Croft, and I really enjoyed reading what she had to say. You can read on below and find out where you can get a copy of her books!

1.) When did you decide to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something?

I began writing poetry when I was in my teens.  I have actually written many poems through the years, but because I took the gift for granted, I never saved any of them.  I was very young and never saw an opportunity.  I was simply pouring my heart out on paper.

By the early 90’s I was in my late 20’s and had written several short stories that were based on situations or people in my life.  Again, I wasn’t really aware of God’s call to publish at that time, so I didn’t keep up with them.  I didn’t even begin to journal until much later in life.

Through the next few years and a very difficult divorce, God began to speak to my heart about a book.  I had overcome so many issues in life, and I began to recognize God’s urging me to put my testimony into writing.

Finally at age 40, I began the book.  However, out of fear of rejection, it took me eleven years to complete.  I didn’t think that I would move past the fear, but I did, and the Lord began to encourage me more to move forward with the work.  I pushed through many obstacles, and at age 51, I finally self-published.

“Birth of a Heartache – A Broken Life Restored” was revised and completed early 2015.

“Saving Your Marriage is Saving Your Life” was also put into print in latter 2015.

2.) Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from?  Why do you write what you do?

From a very young age, my life has been filled with many traumatic issues.  As a young girl in my teens, writing was a way to release inner feelings of pain and frustrations that I didn’t fully understand.

As I grew to become a young woman, serious issues did not cease to come against me, so I continued to write in order to express myself through the circumstances.

Once I became a Christian, the Lord revealed to me that I could help others who have or are dealing with the same issues.  I have been able to endure and overcome and my writings are for teaching and encouraging people.  Unfortunately, there are very few problems in life that I haven’t experienced, yet they have all inspired me to write.  My writing ideas come from my life experiences, and will hopefully give me the ability to write Christian fiction.  Even though I am in my 50’s now, it is still my dream to be a published writer as an occupation.

3.) Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you?  How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

I would say that I work a little of both options.  I tend to start off with an outline, yet as I begin to write, the outline often changes.

With my writings being more for teaching purposes, the outlines are important.  They help me to stay on track and remind me of important points that I desire to get across to the readers.

Due to the way that my thoughts explore an idea, I generally find myself flowing with it, moving away from the outline.  I feel sure that when I begin to write more Christian fiction, it will be less by outline and more of flowing thoughts.

Over the years, my creativity has evolved from poetry and short stories to books.  The main increase being the revelation that my work is actually worthy of publication.  Not because of any secular success, but because of the encouragement that I have received from the Lord and the many comments that I have received from my readers who claim to relate to my story.  I have moved away from the insecurities of not being good enough to believing that I’m answering God’s call in my life which does make my writing good enough.

4.) What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing?  If you’re a Christian, what are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future?  If you would, please tell us what was the hardest thing about writing your last book?  How long does it typically take you to finish your book?

I would say that the most difficult part of the creativity process for myself would be allowing an idea to flow without losing the attention of the reader.  Expression is very important and I put a lot into finding ways to keep the reader’s attention and their visualization vivid.

I believe that a Christian writer faces many of the same challenges as any other author.  Depending upon the type of writing that they do, I’m sure they find it a challenge to compete for topics to write about.  With so many books out there to read, an author’s work really has to have a unique topic or story line that stands out above the rest, especially if they are a writer of a teaching style.  If they are writing on a popular topic, the content has to be a level above all others, because I believe that a reader who is seeking answers, desires to dwell deeper with each book that he/she reads.  Another challenge will always be the competition of beliefs among readers.  I feel that Christian writers need a strong understanding of Biblical truths in order to captivate and teach their readers rather than confuse them or cause questions which may lose them.  On another note, a Christian fiction writer must find it a challenge to write with full expression, while remaining in the confines of Biblical truths.  They can only go so far before crossing the line of Biblical truth and a fictitious story line.

The hardest thing about writing my last book, however, was neither creativity nor other typical challenges, but it was simply not having the time that I needed to complete all of the research that I wanted for the topics that I discussed.  I am not an author of a traditional publisher; therefore, I have to work a regular job.  My job, plus life as a wife, mother, and minister have made it very hard to pursue my best writing.  Time has been a major factor with all of my writing.  Time is my biggest challenge.  With that being said, all of my books have taken much longer to complete than they should have.  Even though each one has been finished in a different time frame, I have yet to complete a work within a year.

My plans are to end my regular job this year in order to go into full-time evangelistic ministry.  This will allow me much more time and opportunity for writing and book promotion.

5.) Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.

My first frustration was sending my manuscript to so many traditional publishers only to be rejected or ignored all together.  I had to come to the knowledge of the fact that it is almost impossible to publish traditionally due to so much competition.  If I were a famous, important person I would have a better chance, but since this is not the case, I have accepted the fact that my dependency for publication comes straight from the Lord.

I reverted to Print-On-Demand publishers, but was unable to afford the majority of them and was concerned about the ones that I could afford.  I now do self-publishing, and while they may not get the attention that they could, I work very hard to do my own promotion.  My prayer has been that God will help me to get the books into the hands of those who need them.

My second frustration has been the time that I spend editing my books.  So much has changed with grammatical rules and literary principles through the years and I find myself going to my teenage daughter for help in these areas.  Even though I spend a tremendous amount of time trying to edit to perfection, after publication, I still found mistakes and that was very frustrating for me.

My third biggest frustration would surely be promotion.  Especially having a regular job, it has been very hard to set up book signings, etc., and reach out beyond my community.  I realize that there is so much to do in order to promote.  Online is the best opportunity for spreading the word, and there is so much that I need to do in that area, yet I still have the obstacle of time.  I have much faith that once I leave the job, I will be able to apply much more time to these ideas and hopefully the book promotion will not be quite so frustrating.

6.) On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?

Being able to express my feelings and my passion for teaching is very exciting to me.  Being able to share my life’s experiences is most fulfilling when I know that someone else is helped along the way.  So many people feel as if no one understands them or how they feel, but the truth is that I understand.  Not only do I understand, but I have the answer to the problems and His name is Christ Jesus.  Being able to share the joy of the Lord and His mercies in our circumstances is very rewarding to me.  Some may think that this is not really creativity, but those who have suffered the same issues as those I discuss, seem extremely grateful that I put my experience into writing because of the help that they received from my words, and that is very exciting to me.  It shows me that the traumas that I have faced were not suffered in vain.

7.) What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?

I am currently reading the book titled “Destiny” by Rev. T. D. Jakes.  I greatly admire Rev. Jakes and his books are very enlightening if you are pursuing a higher calling in your life.  Rev. Jakes combines his own life experiences with some story-telling, plus awesome Biblical teachings, which help you to grow spiritually and understand your own calling.

I have been encouraged also by other Christian authors such as Joyce Meyer, Max Lucado, Kay Arthur, and Andy Stanly.  While their teaching styles are unique, their messages are all of spiritual growth and encouragement.  Beth Moore is another Bible teacher that has a very unique style and her writing of books and workbooks unveil her biblical knowledge.

8.) If you would like and have the time, write a paragraph or two about anything you wish.

“Live life today like there is no tomorrow.”  We’ve heard that statement through many years, yet for most of us, it doesn’t really sink in or become a principle until much later in life.  When our kids grow up and begin their own families.  When our grand-children begin to multiply.  When our hair gets grayer, our bodies get stiffer, and our days get shorter.  These are just a few things that cause us to live by that principle and try to explain it to the younger generation.  Our kids, however, don’t take it to heart anymore than we did when we were younger.  There must be a way to help them to realize how short that life truly is and how important that it is to value every day.

As I have watched so many members of my family, church family and very close friends pass away recently; I have truly begun to realize the importance of enjoying my own life now.  We are not promised tomorrow, yet we live at such a fast pace that we must believe we’re going to live forever.  Life is a journey that we all must take.  The Bible teaches us that life is uncertain, but death is sure.  According to Hebrews 9:27 – “And it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” We will all leave this world and we will stand before the Father and give account of the deeds we performed in our bodies while here on this earth.  We need to make every day the best that we can, understanding that we are only here by the grace of God and that our lives are to bring Him glory.  We should focus more each day on His will for us and less of our own will.  We truly need to live each day as if it will be the last.

You can visit Tammie on her website here and find her books their, Amazon, Lulu and Barnes and Noble.

Interview: Janet W. Ferguson

Today on the blog I am excited to have author Janet W. Ferguson for an interview!

 

1.) When did you decide to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something?  

I had an idea for a story in my head for seven years before I started the first book. I wanted to share an encouraging story for people with serious anxiety problems, but I was busy caring for my aging parents. In 2012, both of my parents passed away along with my mother-in-law within a sixty day period. It was a tough time for my family, and I realized that life is short. So I sat down to write.

2.) Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from? Why do you write what you do?

I was a late in life child. My sisters were 13 and 19 years older (I hope they don’t read this, ha.), so I grew up many times playing make-believe to entertain myself if neighbors or friends weren’t out to play. My imagination grew.

The first story I actually wrote, Leaving Oxford, came through my own experience of being in a bad car accident. I started having panic attacks while driving after it. I’m really open about my experience and found out that so many other people are plagued by either anxiety or depressive disorders. I knew that God had still been able to use me as a children’s minister, a youth volunteer, and in so many other ways despite my weakness. I wanted other people to know they weren’t alone, and no matter where they were in life, they were still glorious and useful in God’s eyes.

3.) Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you? How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?  

Oh mercy, I wish I outlined. I’m getting better…a little. I know the beginning and the end of my stories, but the characters take over the middle.

4.) What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing? If you’re a Christian, what are the challenges you believe Christian writers face now and in the future? If you would, please tell us what was hardest thing about writing your last book? How long does it typically take you to finish your book?

The hardest thing is trying to use what I call pretty words. Trying to phrase things in a different way instead of the same old, same old.

The hardest things for Christian authors is that Christian book sales and publishing are down right now. Support your favorite Christian authors! [Symbol]

Delving into the feelings of anxiety, panic, and loss to write scenes can be tough. That’s why I tend to add a bit of Mississippi-style humor. If I couldn’t laugh during the times when my mother was dying of Alzheimer’s, I would’ve gone crazy. Southerners love to laugh and bless people’s hearts.

I’ve written almost five books. Four of them took me three months each to write the first draft. I’ve spent a couple of years revising them, though, and I’m finally releasing book one. The last one is my favorite, but I’ve been working on that thing’s first draft for what seems like a year. I will finish it. Soon. I hope…

5.) Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.

It’s hard. There’s so much to learn. It’s hard. (My husband would say, it’s an expensive hobby, and writers don’t make much money these days.)

6.) On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?

I hope and pray that at least one person is encouraged by my story. It’s fun when your characters come to life, too!

7.) What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?

I just read a book by Jennifer H. Westall called Healing Ruby that was good. My favorite authors would be Francine Rivers, Charles Martin, and Lynn Austin. I’m a character-driven reader and writer, and they deliver. Those are all Christian authors. Outside of that genre, I’ve enjoyed Karen White’s books that were set in Mississippi and New Orleans. She uses pretty words and sets her books in areas I love.

8.) If you would like and have the time, write a paragraph or two about anything you wish.

Leaving Oxford my first book. If you or someone you care about has dealt with anxiety or similar issues, you may enjoy this clean but quirky romance set in Mississippi. If you buy it and enjoy it, I’d be honored if you would leave a review on Amazon. You can sign up for updates and other of my quirky personal stories on my newsletter page. http://www.janetfergusonauthor.com/under-the-southern-sun

Thank you for having me on your blog, Pam!

About Janet:

Janet W. Ferguson grew up in Mississippi and received a degree in Banking and Finance from the University of Mississippi. She has served her church as a children’s minister and a youth volunteer. An avid reader, she worked as a librarian at a large public high school. Janet and her husband have two grown children, one really smart dog, and four too many cats.

Visit her Website|Facebook|Twitter|Pinterest

 

Interview: Tyler Anne Snell

Today on the blog I welcome Tyler Anne Snell for an interview. I really enjoyed her responses so I hope you do, too!

 

1.) When did you decide to become a writer? In other words, what made you actually sit down and write something?

 

To be honest, I can’t remember ever wanting to be anything else. In fourth grade I wrote a book that filled a red, spiral bound notebook completely. Before I finished it, I carried that notebook everywhere, even on vacation. I became addicted to continuing the story. If I wasn’t writing, I was plotting. I always knew I wanted to write books but I don’t think it truly sunk in how much I enjoyed it until then. I also love to read and always have. I blame that love for bleeding over and creating a passion for writing!

 

2.) Every writer is eventually asked this question, but where do your ideas come from? Why do you write what you do?

 

The one thing I do more than writing is reading. I think once you read enough, different versions of the ideas you’ve read about start to crop up. Like, well what if this had happened instead of what the author did? Or, what if this world had this instead of that? If there’s a character or idea that I really, really take a liking to I sit back and question why. That sometimes can put me on the road to exploring my own version of what I enjoyed so much about another book or TV show!

 

Another huge part of my writing inspiration comes from dreams and music. I know, it sounds cheesy, but I have the awesome ability to usually be able to recall my dreams with detail. And boy do I have some crazy ones. More than a handful of books I have on the back burner originated from a part of a dream I had! And music? Well, it’s hard for me to listen to really awesome music without getting some sort of inspiration!

 

3.)    Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to see where an idea takes you? How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?

 

Before I started writing for Harlequin, I was definitely more of a panster. I started with a general idea of where I wanted the book to go and then flew by the seat of my pants as I wrote. However, when I started working on my Intrigues, which all have a mystery or thriller element, I needed to know as much as I could upfront to try and make the mystery part as convincing as possible. So I at least plot out the high points of action and the ah-ha moments to make writing faster and easier. I think the Harlequin Intrigues have helped me become more disciplined as writer, which certainly helps when it’s crunch time!

 

4.)    What is the hardest thing about the creative process of writing? If you would, please tell us what was the hardest thing about writing your last book? How long does it typically take you to finish your books?

 

The writing, to me, isn’t the hard part but the revision part makes me cringe! It’s often then that I find inconsistencies that don’t make sense or plot holes that have made it through without my noticing. Sometimes fixing these problems are a lot harder than adding in a few sentences or changing what’s already there. It can definitely throw off my writing game!

 

Speaking of problems that slow down the process, I had an issue with my last book that I usually don’t have to face. The fourth and last book in my Orion Security Harlequin Intrigue series is a straight up thriller. From the first chapter and on you know who the bad guy is, it’s just a matter of how our heroes are going to survive his attempts at their lives and stop him that keeps readers engaged. However, since it was a lot of action I had to make sure I kept attention on the growing relationship between the hero and heroine. I didn’t want their feelings to get lost in the sea of action. So it became a balancing act that normally I don’t have to pay attention to in a regular mystery!

 

As for how long it takes to write my books, two months is usually the norm for my Intrigues. Being my full-time job, it’s easier to do it within that time frame!

 

5.)    Name your three biggest frustrations about the writing business.

 

Let it be known I’m not actively complaining about this, because I understand it has to be done, but the biggest frustration I have definitely has to do with all the waiting that comes with publishing a book. Then again, I’m a very impatient person so I’m sure that doesn’t help! As for other frustrations…Does having to wait to see what reviewers say and waiting for social media feedback count?

 

Then again, that really just goes back to me being impatient!

 

6.)    On the flip side, what excites you the most about the creative process?

 

What will always excite me the most is the idea of building a world or characters for other people to enjoy. Especially if I truly loved creating them. It’s beyond fun to see what readers liked the most about one of my books and even what they disliked! Seeing how others react to my books is definitely one of my favorite things about writing books!

7.)    What are you reading at the moment, and who are a few of your favorite authors and why?

 

To be honest, my reading has taken a backseat in the last year. However, I’ve finally sat down with Patricia Briggs’ Mercy Thompson series (urban fantasy/supernatural) and blew through the first two books in two days flat. The third is waiting on my Kindle until I’ve hit a certain goal in my current novel.

 

And asking for favorite authors is usually a hard question for me. Or at least narrowing them down. However, I can say with certainty that I love almost every book I’ve read by Madeleine L’Engle, Charlaine Harris, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Joe Hill, and Kenneth Oppel. Oh and J.K. Rowling, of course. Also Daniel O’Malley’s The Rook is one of my most recommended books to other readers so that should say a lot about how I enjoy him as a writer!

 

8.)    If you would like and have the time, write a paragraph or two about anything you wish.

 

So I get a lot of questions about my current series, Orion Security, so I thought I’d get ahead of any more and clear up some things! Each book is connected by a security agency where the heroes of the first three books and the heroine of the fourth book work. While reading them in order would be way more satisfying so you can see the story progression of each character after their book, each novel can be read as a standalone. So, if you accidentally skip one it’s okay! You can either go back (which I suggest if only to see how the characters got to that point) or keep going!

 

Just to clarify the order though to those who want to read in order…

Private Bodyguard (#1) follows Private Investigator Darling Smith and Bodyguard Oliver Quinn through a small Maine town!

Full Force Fatherhood (#2) follows Single Mom Kelli Crane and Bodyguard Mark Tranton through Dallas, Texas.

Be on the Lookout: Bodyguard (#3) follows Scientist Kate Spears and Bodyguard Jonathan Carmichael through New York City.

And, the conclusion to the series, Suspicious Activities (#4) follows Orion Security Boss Nikki Waters and New Recruit Jackson Fields through Dallas, Texas!

 

Books 3 and 4 will be releasing in August and September of this year but are available for pre-order now!

ORION SECURITY SERIES
Currently available for purchase:

– My standalone Harlequin Intrigue MANHUNT!

– Books 2 and 7 of the TOUGH JUSTICE serial, WATCHED and BETRAYED!

– PRIVATE BODYGUARD and FULL FORCE FATHERHOOD!

– BE ON THE LOOKOUT: BODYGUARD and SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITIES available for pre-order.

OTHER BOOKS

 

To make things easier because they are available in a lot of places, all books out and coming soon are listed and linked on my website’s Book page!

 

About Tyler Anne Snell:

AuthorPicAboutTyler Anne Snell writes and reads a little bit of everything but has a soft spot for thrillers, mysteries, and sexual tension. When she isn’t writing or reading, she’s re-watching her favorite TV series or playing video games. The first book she finished in one sitting was a Harlequin Intrigue. It taught her to appreciate the power of a good book.

Tyler lives in Alabama with her same-named beau and their mini lions.

Visit her on her website or the following social media:

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