Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Lyn Cote is my guest today - leave a comment and maybe win a book!

Hi everyone, Lyn Cote is my guest today. I'm so excited she's agreed to answer a few questions so we can get to know her better. Please leave a comment and possibly win a copy of her newest release, Her Captain's Heart.

1. Plug time! Please tell us a little about your latest release and why readers should run out and buy it as soon as it hits the shelves. I’m very excited about Her Captain’s Heart, the first in my “Gabriel Sisters” series, which follows each sister as she tries to help the US heal after the Civil War. Verity Hardy is a Civil War widow and goes to VA to teach at a Freedman’s School. And finds that the Civil War hasn’t really ended in the hearts of the people.

2. If you’re like me, you’re always writing something whether on the computer, in your head, scratch pieces of paper, etc. Where do you get your ideas? What triggers a story idea for you? I always start with setting and a time period. I like to watch my characters “brave the storms of history.” In my own life, I survived the assassination of JFK, Watergate, the Cold War, Vietnam War, two Gulf Wars, recessions, 9/11 and what we’re experiencing now. History impacts every life. And often pushes us and my characters to our limit of bravery, endurance and phileo or brotherly love. I also focus on women who were what I call “passionate participants of their times.” Women who took the Great Commission and the Golden Rule to heart and then tried to take them into the world.

3. In your opinion, what’s the toughest thing you find about writing? The easiest? The hardest is trying to choose and arrange words so that what I am seeing, hearing, touching in my mind go down on the page so that a reader GETS it all. The easiest is coming up with a new story “bud.”

4. When did you start writing for publication and what did people say when they found out? I had kept it pretty quiet. Some people were thrilled; others were tart. I took both with salt. God gave me a gift and as long as He’s happy, I am.

5. How long did it take you to get published? 1984 to 1997

6. How do you choose your settings for each book? I look for an area that experienced “exciting” history. Usually that means a lot of turmoil and conflict and change—not comfortable periods.

7. What would you be doing with all the time you spend writing if you weren’t writing? I’d keep my house clean! And make gourmet meals. And lose weight. And take up ballet. Ah, strike that last one.

8. Where’s your favorite place to write? On the front porch overlooking the lake in the summers; in the winters, in my recliner looking out at the snowy pines and frozen lake.

9. How do you make time for God in the craziness of life? My dh and I use Our Daily Bread devotional and I have a special prayer journal and a book “Praying God’s Will for My Daughter.” I read a page a day of scriptures about God’s promises for my son and daughter (I make the book work for both.) and then pray for them, their future mates and children.

10. Tell us a little about your family. My dh and I have been married 34 years and raised two children. We are grateful that “our anchor” has held. I call him my real life hero. And he is!

11. Who are your favorite authors? Georgette Heyer’s class Regency romances, Phyllis Whitney, Mary Stewart, Francine Rivers, Kathy Herman’s mysteries, Sharon Dunn’s funny mysteries and Sandra Byrd’s chicklit.

12. What’s next for you in the world of publishing? In February 2009, the first book in my Texas Star of Destiny series The Desires of Her Heart will debut. I did a lot of research on Texas history 1821-1847 and was amazed at the changes and unbelievable true stories that took place there. I often say that I use authentic history in my stories because what actually happened can often be more wild or interesting than anything I could make up!

13. What do you hope people take away from when they finish reading your book? Hope and love for others.

14. How many books have you written? List them for us so we can be sure to find them in the bookstore or online!  Well, why don’t you just drop by my website and click Lyn’s Books. Her Captain’s Heart is #25.

15. What advice do you have for a beginning author? Again, drop by my website. I have a page about Christian Publishers and advice.

16. Any parting comments? Please drop by www.LynCote.net and see what I have for readers, who are some of my favorite people!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Inspirational Suspense Author Barbara Phinney - Win a Book!

I am so pleased to have Barbara on my blog today. She has graciously agreed to pop in occasionally and answer any questions not already answered in her interview. Be sure to give her a warm welcome and leave a comment so you can be entered in the drawing to win her latest release, Deadly Homecoming. Welcome Barbara!

A little bit about Barbara:

After she retired early from the military, Barbara decided to turn her creativity toward writing. Romance was a natural choice for her, because she likes happy endings, but she was actually scared that inspirational romance would be too hard and confining. That changed when she put pen to paper. Everything came together easily, and wasn’t the least bit confining. She thanks God for that. Now she writes for Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired Suspense line of books, with Desperate Rescue out in September 07, and Keeping Her Safe in June 08 and Deadly Homecoming in December 08.Barbara spends some days volunteering at her children's school, some days writing, and every day feeding a muse that seems to be working all the time. She and her retired husband live in rural New Brunswick, Canada, and when they aren’t volunteering, they enjoy a little camping, and traveling and hanging out with family and friends.

Interview Questions:

Plug time! Please tell us a little about your latest release and why readers should run out and buy it as soon as it hits the shelves.
Deadly Homecoming is the story we all need to read. We’ve all done things we regret and in this story, my heroine must learn to face her past and accept it. Another interesting fact about this story is that the back cover blurb reflects the original story idea and not the story that was finally published. Everyone should read it to find out what the differences are!

How many full manuscripts did you write before you sold? Or if you’re pre-pubbed, how many have you written to date?
Too many really bad ones. Ones that had ‘cliched’ scrawled along the top when I got them back! Ahh, live and learn.

In your opinion, what’s the most fascinating thing about writing?
It’s exciting for me to just sit and let the (sometimes bad) words flow. It’s great when odd things that have popped into your work become important foreshadowing later on in the novel.

What’s something you can tell us about yourself that most people don’t know?
You mean a skeleton? Well, without disclosing those, I think that most people don’t know that I am really afraid of promotion and going to conferences. It’s a vicious circle, actually. I won’t go because I’m scared, and because I don’t go, I can’t conquer that fear.

When did you start writing for publication and what did people say when they found out?
I started to write for publication shortly after I retired from the military, because I wanted to make a little money. (Little being the word here) But I knew absolutely nothing about writing, except how to string words into a sentence. People have always supported me. I can’t remember anyone criticizing my choice of genre.

What is your favorite food?
Shepherd’s Pie with either custard tart or cheesecake for dessert. It’s hard for me to resist those foods.

Tell us a little about your family.
My husband and I have two teens, a girl aged 18 and a boy aged 16. We live in a very rural area of New Brunswick, Canada, on land that was my husband’s grandfather’s. All my in laws live close by, so we see each other frequently.

Who are your favorite authors?
Tough choice! I enjoy Linda Hall’s books and Rick Warren’s, too. It’s not so much about favourite authors, but favourite settings, plots and suspense. Give me a good book set in South America, or a plot like ‘on the run’, with lots of suspense, and I know I’ll enjoy it.

What are you reading now and what’s in your “to be read” pile?
I’ve just finished off The Fruitful Life by Jerry Bridges. I hope to delve back inot my LIS books now, especially those with exotic settings.

Do you set out to write each story with a particular theme or does the theme develop as the story does?
I set out writing a story with a particular setting and conflict in mind, then very shortly after, I have a theme, mostly because I need to know my ending before I finish. That’s because editors want to know it too. That must really irk ‘pantser’ writers, but I’m not one of them.

Do you have a particular method for tracking the details in your story? Can you tell us a little about this?
I have a couple of methods. First up, I will, if possible, fill out the art facts sheets on my characters. But I’ve started using index cards because I need a detailed synopsis anyway for submitting proposals. Index cards are handy and can be stuck up on the walls of my office. They’re handy for lists and scene blurbs.

Who has had the most influence on your life in general? In your writing life?
The Lord. He has helped me tremendously. Next in line is my family. They put things in perspective and keep me writing. Probably as an escape!

Do you have an agent? If yes, did you have the agent before you sold your first book or after? If you are yet to be published, you can skip the second part of the question.
No. I always tell people that I couldn’t even buy an agent!

What advice do you have for a beginning author?
Keep writing. Keep submitting. Don’t be put off by rejection. Deepen your emotional conflict by reading things like the Bible and self help books. They show themes and character depth if you study them. You don’t have to just have ‘purple prose’ or lots of fancy words to be published. Just tell a gripping story.

Any parting comments?
To the unpublished authors – never give up! Write those bad stories and learn form them. Try not to be slighted by rejections. They hurt, but move on.
To the readers – take the time to read and savour the books you enjoy. Share them and promote reading. It’s a way to stimulate our aging brains and relax our tired bodies. Tell the author how you feel about her books, but more importantly, tell the editor! They need to feel the pulse of readers in order to keep giving you what you want in great reads.

Thank you so much for being here, Barbara! It was a pleasure getting to you a little bit better.

All righty everyone, leave those comments so you can be entered in the drawing to win Deadly Homecoming.

You can find Barbara at www.barbaraphinney.com

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

December already??

How can this be? I haven't even taken my kids' Christmas picture to send out to the bazillion folks who are expecting it. I haven't gotten the tree skirt under the tree yet. Of course I have been a little busy with homeschooling and writing and laundry and co-ops and getting a new dishwasher (yay!) and piano lessons, karate lessons, acting lessons, drum lessons, a little more writing, and and and....

Okay, so maybe the Christmas letter won't get out this year. Is it really that important? I'm trying to decide. On the one hand, I've heard that a one-page dissertation on the happenings of your family is egotistical and boring to some people. On the other hand, I know of some who will be greatly offended if I don't send it out. And the list of "receivers" has grown so long, it actually costs about a paycheck to mail it to every one, not to mention the cost of printing the pictures that accompany the letter. Bah humbug? No, just wondering....If anyone has any comments on this, please feel free to let me know.

And be sure to stop by on December 5th for an interview with Barbara Phinney and the chance to win a copy of her latest Steeple Hill Suspense release Deadly Homecoming.