Friday, February 28, 2014

Interview with Christian Author Ellen E. Kennedy

Sharon: Please welcome Ellen E. Kennedy to our Meet The Author Day. (She waits for the applause to die down.) Ellen, May I get you a cup of coffee? Tea? A soft drink? Or just plain water?

Ellen: Water with lemon, please. Or no lemon, whatever you have. Bottled water, or a glass of water or one of those Styrofoam cups with ice or maybe I could just step into the hall and use the water fountain. Whatever works for you. Actually, you know? I’m not really thirsty. Thanks, anyway! (The audience chuckles.)

Sharon: As long as you don’t mind if I drink my sweet white coffee!

So, Ellen, when and how did you get interested in writing?

Ellen: Though I majored in history, my career after college was as a copywriter.
I wrote commercials, newspaper ads, brochures, you name it. I used to joke that it fit my attention span: thirty or sixty seconds.

Sharon: Did you enjoy copywriting?

Ellen: It was fun and kind of exciting with a touch of glamor. I would produce and direct local TV and radio commercials. That’s about as close to show business as I cared to get because I hate rejection. (Which begs the question--an expression I dislike intensely, by the way--if I really hate rejection, why on earth would I become a writer?)

Sharon: Isn’t that the truth!

So when did you begin writing fiction?

Ellen: I began this novel-writing phase once our daughters were grown. Cozy mysteries in the tradition of Agatha Christie were what I read all the time, so that’s what I’ve tried to create in the Miss Prentice series, beginning with IRREGARDLESS OF MURDER and followed by DEATH DANGLES A PARTICIPLE. Titles amuse me, and it’s fun coming up with ones that reflect my character and her profession: a high school English teacher.

Sharon: Love the titles. I enjoy mysteries.
 

Who has been one of your best encouragers on your writing journey?

Ellen: My husband has been wonderful. He’s a mechanical engineer, with a number of patents to his credit, and understands the creative process. One of the most helpful things when working on a story is to bounce ideas off him. His reactions help me gauge how I’m doing. He’s also made some great suggestions, especially with titles and character names. We like to talk about these things as we ride together in the car. I admit it, I’m blessed.

Sharon: Yes you are.

Besides having your husband’s support, what makes your writing different than other writers? What is your brand? What can a reader expect every time he or she picks up one of your books?

Ellen: I don’t know if I’m all that different from others, but I will stress that I’m all about entertainment—wholesome entertainment. I’ve always loved mysteries and a number of years ago, I read a mystery that was so lousy, I literally threw it across the room (fortunately, it was a paperback) and declared: “Even I could write a better mystery than that!” So I decided to write something that I wanted to read. I think that’s the key.

My brand, if you will, is cozy mystery with a Christian world view. My books aren’t evangelistic, but my main character and many other characters are believers. I also like to think that my books are funny. One of the biggest compliments I received was in an Amazon.com review. The reader, a teacher, said that something I wrote made her spit out her latte. Here’s the quote she liked: (Amelia is saying that she gave up the idea of becoming a ballerina.)

“I had decided instead to become a teacher. Fortunately, body proportion is seldom an issue in my profession, as is clearly evident from a glance at the yearbook’s faculty pages.”

What I hope a reader finds in my books is an intriguing puzzle, some characters they like to spend time with and an occasional laugh--and all this without being grossed out or embarrassed.

Sharon: How do you choose the settings for your books?

Ellen: In the time-honored tradition of “write about what you know,” I decided to start the Miss Prentice series in my favorite place—the public library—in the town where I was raised in northern New York state. I never mention the name of the town in the books, and I’ve changed things like street names and stores, but for the most part, when I’m writing about Miss Prentice, I’m picturing the Plattsburgh of my childhood.

I have two other books, ANOTHER THINK COMING, an as-yet-to-be published novel, and TEXAS FIRES, a romance novella e-book I’ve self-published. They’re both set in Eastland, the tiny central Texas town where we raised our two daughters. I love that place!

Sharon: Of your own experiences, what influenced the writing of the Miss Prentice books the most? What features became aspects that were Amelia’s alone?

Ellen: Amelia Prentice, a high school English teacher, is an amalgam of the many teachers I’ve had, combined with my experiences as a substitute in my daughters’ high school. Many of her insecurities are mine, too, but I’m a little less na├»ve than she is. What’s more, it’s no secret that she’s a lousy cook, and I’m only a so-so one. She’s a lot prissier than I am, she’s a better teacher, I suspect.

As the series progresses, though, I find I’m incorporating more of my own experiences in the stories. A case in point is in the upcoming third book in the series, which will be released in September, MURDER IN THE PAST TENSE. I once saw in a tabloid newspaper that a long-ago acquaintance of mine--an actor--had been murdered and since the crime had gone unsolved, I decided to solve it--fictionally. I managed to include much of my experiences in summer stock theater in the story. It’s my favorite book in the series, so far.

Sharon: Now that is interesting! Would you say being published changed your life in any way?

Ellen: It’s a wonderful thing to be able to follow one’s own creative bent at a time when many people are retiring. Both my husband and I continue to work, and I think it’s awfully good for us!

 Sharon: In other words, being published makes you content. That’s great!

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

Ellen: To quote a character from that old TV show, The A Team, “I love it when a plan comes together,” or rather, when a plot comes together. It happened in IRREGARDLESS OF MURDER when I changed villains and suddenly, everything in the story up to then made total sense!

I don’t mind doing promotion for my books, but it’s terribly discouraging sometimes. Recently, it’s been like pulling teeth to find places willing to have book signings or guest speakers. Everything has become much more bureaucratic in the last few years. If it isn’t handed down from the head office, it’s not happening, so it’s hard to get one’s foot in the door. My publisher, though wonderful and highly professional, is very small and can’t do everything.

Sharon: Yes, that is true. Even the big publishers expect their authors to do a good bit of their own promotion.

Are you planning more books?

Ellen: Definitely! I’m currently working on number four in the Miss Prentice series, tentatively titled, INCOMPLETE SENTENCE. I have a general idea about the story: a serial killer who may be a guest at my character’s B&B. Haven’t worked out all the details yet, though.

My publisher has also expressed an interest in publishing ANOTHER THINK COMING, a full-length Texas novel. It’s about a grandma who takes the law into her own hands to go after a drug dealer, repents, but is suspected of murder, anyway. It has tragedy, comedy and redemption in it. There’s talk of making it a series, because the character of Hester MacBride is so funny and feisty. That’s in the future.

Sharon: How can readers find you on the Internet?

Ellen: I’m on Twitter as @eekmystery, and on Facebook as Ellen Edwards Kennedy. I love getting email: eekmystery@hotmail.com. My website, which offers sample chapters of the books and other goodies, is www.missprenticecozymystery.com. My books (both e-style books and paperback) are at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Christianbook and Deepershopping.
                                                                
Sharon: Thank you so much for joining us today. Do you have any parting words?

Ellen: I’d like to encourage readers to communicate with the writers who have entertained and enlightened them. Don’t be shy! And don’t hesitate to write honest reviews on the various review sites: Goodreads, Amazon, etc.


And finally, God bless you all! You’re the reason I keep at it. 

Q4U Readers: Thank you for joining us today. Can we have a show of hands on how many of you reading the blog today enjoy mysteries (Sharon raises her hand)

Monday, February 24, 2014

Kickstarting with Kimberly Payne

Welcome Kimberly. Please tell us about your book. 
My latest project is Adam’s Animals, a children’s activity book that features over 40 animals mentioned in the Bible and little-known facts about each. It is the second book in the Science and Faith Matters series. The first book, Trees of the Book – Learning from God’s Creation, is a colourful introduction to trees, leaves and their corresponding Bible stories.

Who is this book written for?
Adam’s Animals is ideal for 6 to 9 year olds, for home or school use and classroom sharing in grades 1-3 to supplement the Life Sciences Curriculum on Animal Life.

What was your inspiration for this book?
Years ago, my daughter wrote a little book called, “Did you know...fascinating and fun facts about animals around the world” as a fundraiser to go to camp. I helped her with it and loved discovering new things about God’s creation.

Do you have a favorite animal and why that one?
I loved learning about the leopard. This big cat can climb trees, run fast, and swim. He’s powerful and smart. My kind of creature!

Did you find anything particularly difficult in writing this book?
There was a ton of research. Not only did I have to dig through the Bible to discover the animals mentioned, but then I had to research each individually to uncover five unusual facts.

What do you hope this book accomplishes?
I hope that Adam’s Animals will fuel the desire for children to read the Bible and to also learn more about the animals that God created. Let me share a sketch and an excerpt:

Ant

Proverbs 6:6 “Go to the ant, you sluggard; consider its ways and be wise!See also:  Proverbs 30:25


The wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, wrote the Book of Proverbs – a book of wise sayings to help us live godly lives. In this verse, Solomon points out that it is foolish to be idle and lazy. He says that we should learn from the example of the ant who doesn’t laze around and wait to be told what to do, but is willing to work hard and do what needs to be done.

  Did you know?
·           Ants are from the insect family
·           Ants can lift 20 times their body weight
·           Ants have two stomachs – one to hold the food for itself and one to hold food to be shared with other ants
·           There are 3 kinds of ants in a colony: the queen, the female workers, and males
·           Ants communicate by using chemicals called pheromones
·           Ants don’t have ears but they “hear” by feeling vibrations in the ground 

That is interesting. Where can we find the Adam's Animals?
This is the exciting part! The book is still in manuscript form. I am hoping to bring the project to life with the direct support of friends, colleagues and family.

As the book creator, I have set a funding goal of $3500, with a deadline of February 28th, 2014. If you like my book idea, you can pledge any amount of money to make it happen.

Backing Adam’s Animals is more than just giving money. Writers need encouragement and you would be supporting my dream of creating a valuable resource for children and parents.

As a book backer, you choose from a number of rewards based on the amount of financial support you pledge. For example, backers who pledge a minimum of $5, will receive a choice of one of two of my e-books: 1) Fit for Faith - 7 weeks to improved spiritual and physical health, OR 2) Women of Strength - a devotional to improve spiritual and physical health. Backers who pledge a minimum of $15 will receive an autographed copy of Adam’s Animals. Backers who pledge a minimum of $175 will be listed on the “Dedication” page at the back of the book PLUS will receive an autographed copy of Adam’s Animals.
  
For more information on how this works, and/or to support the creation of Adam’s Animals please click here  You may use this short URL to share with others: http://kck.st/19NBYR6

Author Bio: Kimberley Payne is an award-winning self-published writer and a member of The Word Guild, Inscribe Christian Writer’s Fellowship, and John 3:16 Marketing Network.

She has volunteered as a teacher with many children’s programs at her church, as a teacher’s aid for student’s reading, and within the library at her children’s school.

Kimberley combines her teaching experience and love of writing to create educational materials for children about family, fitness, science and faith. You can find her on the web at these links: Kimberley’s website  Blog Facebook Twitter 

Illustrator Bio: The illustrator, Janis Cox, is an author, watercolour artist, wife, mother and grandma -- but most of all she's a faithful follower of Jesus. She's been retired from teaching for over 15 years but finds herself back into her passion of working with children.

Janis says, "I love painting pictures of animals and it will be a joy to create the illustrations for Kimberley’s new book. Plus working with Kimberley has always been exciting. Her enthusiasm always brings joy to my heart.” Janis’ website           
About the Publisher: Diane Roblin-Lee is the owner of byDesign Media, a custom publishing company which specializes in beautiful layouts and cover designs. With over 30 years in the publishing industry, Diane has written several bestsellers herself and takes pride in being able to help other writers to get their books out to the world. 

Her tag line, "From Manuscript to Market," covers the full spectrum of services, from editing and design, to publishing and international distribution. Helping her authors find pleasure and satisfaction in the publishing process is very important to Diane. Diane’s website   

To support the creation of Adam’s Animals please click here  You may use this short URL to share with others: http://kck.st/19NBYR6


Friday, February 21, 2014

Please welcome Beth Willis Miller to our Meet The Author Day.

Sharon: May I get you a cup of coffee Beth? Tea? A soft drink? Or just plain water?

Beth: Water is my beverage of choice, thank you!

Sharon: Here you go. (She hands Beth a tall glass of ice water.) Can you tell us a little about yourself?

Beth: Thank you, Sharon. I have a Master's degree in Education, in curriculum, instruction, and supervision. My expertise as a creative and critical thinking specialist is steeped in years of experience as a writer, presenter, educator and former Florida Department of Education State Consultant for Gifted Education. I am married with two adult children, and one grandson. I write articles on a variety of topics to inspire and encourage others. I am a contributing author in three books:Under His Wings: Truths to Heal Adopted, Orphaned, and Waiting Children's Hearts; 21 Stories of Generosity: Real Stories to Inspire a Full Life (A Life of Generosity); and A New Song: Glimpses of the Grace Journey. I am a member of AWSA, Advanced Writers and Speakers Association.

Sharon: Sounds like you have been busy. Who has been one of your best encouragers on your writing journey?

Beth: One of my best encouragers has been a published author of many best-selling books, Sherrie Eldridge, who is my co-author in, Under His Wings: Truths to Heal Adopted, Orphaned, and Waiting Children's Hearts. She is a fellow reunited adoptee, we met through her All-Adoptee Growth Group, and through my participation in this group, she has become both a very encouraging mentor in the art of writing, and a dear friend.
           
Sharon: How nice that you found each other! What is a summary of the book you and Sherrie co-authored?


Beth: Under His Wings provides a post-adoption growth experience for adoptees, ages 9 and upward. As adoptees read about Moses from the Bible, defensive hearts melt and adoptees realize they are just like the guy who was just like them but went on to be one of the world's greatest leaders. This gives them hope and helps them to realize that there is a way to get through seemingly impossible sadness, depression, and anger.
Perfect for:
  • All-adoptee growth groups
  • Parents who are mentoring teens
  • Adoptive parents and birth parents who want to better understand their child
  • Professionals who want a tool written by authors who have walked the walk
  • Any post-adoption group that has been touched by adoption
The workbook has four appendices:
  • Feelings Descriptor Chart (to help you wrap words around feelings)
  • Exhaustive List of God's Names (to help you identify your feelings about God)
  • Time-Line Exercise (to help you make sense of the broken pieces of your journey)
  • 12 Daily Healing Steps for Adopted, Foster, & Orphan Children's Hearts

Sharon: Under His Wings focuses specifically on individuals who have been adopted. Why is there a need for a book specifically for them?

Beth: Adoptees often have complex rejection and abandonment issues associated with being separated from their first family. They often don’t tell their adoptive parents, or later as adults, their husbands or even a best friend how they are feeling deep inside. This book reveals that those feelings are typical and that they are not alone. The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute reports that sixty-four percent of Americans have experienced adoption within their own families, among close friends, or have given up a child for adoption.

Sharon: What is Under His Wings intended to accomplish?

Beth: This book is intended to help adoptees determine what impact separation from their first family has had on their present day life. It involves a practical process, so that adoptees know beyond a doubt that they have worked through their painful past.

Sharon:  I have a grandson who could use this book. Can adoptees ever have peace when they’ve experienced such a painful past? What can you tell us about that.

Beth: Yes. My co-author, Sherrie Eldridge and I, believe there’s only one way to find peace with a painful past and that is through a personal relationship with God through faith in Jesus Christ. He alone, through His Spirit, can place a healing balm on our deep wounds. The Bible says: “You can’t heal a wound by saying it’s not there!” (Jer. 6:14 TLB)
We have found that in the places that hurt the most, God brings a promise from the Bible to our memory at just the right time. We have experienced comfort and growth through our growing relationship with Jesus and we long for the same growth for other adoptees.

Sharon: The title, Under His Wings, includes a Biblical reference, can you explain how this applies to healing hearts of adoptees?

Beth: Wherever adoptees are in their journey is exactly where they should be and their interest in this book would be an indication that their heart wants to be healed. The Biblical account describing God as an eagle teaching his eaglets to fly is exactly the process adoptees go through as they work through the chapters of the book. "Like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions."(Deut. 32: 11). We apply this verse by envisioning God as the eagle and the adoptee as one of the eaglets in his nest. First, he stirs up our nest by taking away the soft things in life. We complain to God and everyone within earshot. We don't like the pain. Why did we have to hurt like this? Then, God the eagle hovers over us, showing us the magnificence of his wings—his strength, majesty, power, and sovereignty. If little eaglets could talk, they’d say, “We never knew you were so big and powerful.” Notice that the eaglet’s attention is drawn away from the painful nest to God’s wings. Like eaglets, we want to know him more when we begin to discover his awesomeness is the pages of Scripture. After we have rested beneath his wings and allowed healing to begin, God invites us to ride on His wings, away from a painful past into an incredibly wonderful future…under his wings.

Sharon: If you could only say only one thing to an adoptee considering this book, what would it be?

Beth: This book has reinforced my belief in the sovereignty of God, that nothing comes into my life that is not filtered through God's hands of love. I believe there are no “accidents.” I believe God planned who my birth parents would be and who my Mom and Dad would be, and both influences, plus His, are needed to help me become all that He created me to be. I believe that God sees the end from the beginning. He knows me intimately, He knit me together in my mother's womb, one day I will see Him face-to-face and I will know as I am known...until then, I will expect a mystery.
                                                                             
Sharon: How can readers find you on the Internet?

Beth: Thank you, Sharon, it has been an honor to be featured on Meet The Author Day! Here is how readers can find out more about me:

Many Blessings,
Beth Willis Miller

Sharon: Thank you so much for joining us today. I like to wait until I have a big enough order on Amazon so that I can get free shipping. So I am putting this book on my wish list! 

Q4U Readers: Do you know anyone who was adopted? How do you encourage them?

Friday, February 14, 2014

Author Interview with JW Luff

Sharon: Please welcome JW Luff to our Meet The Author Day. (She waits for the applause to die down.)

We are so glad you joined us today JW. Is that an airplane you are standing beside? Or a helicopter? Tell me more about it.

JW: It's actually a Hughes 300 helicopter. Like the main character in my novels I  am dual rated. Certified to fly airplanes and helicopters.

Sharon: I find that fascinating since my husbands is a private pilot. He doesn't fly helicopters though.

JW: Thank you.

Sharon: Come on inside and get comfortable. May I get you a cup of coffee? Tea? A soft drink? Or just plain water?

JW: I would never turn down a cup of coffee from a pretty lady and thanks for having me.

Sharon: You are welcome. (She pours JW a cup of coffee and hands it to him) When and how did you get interested in writing?

JW: Well I've always loved to read especially science-fiction. But one of the things I noticed is that it's very hard to find Christian science-fiction novels. The majority of science-fiction that's being published is very anti-Christian.

Sharon: What makes your writing different from other Christian writers? What is your brand? What can a reader expect every time he or she picks up one of your books?

JW: The main difference is the genre, Christian science-fiction. Like I said before there's just not a whole lot of it out there. I believe it's possible with God's guidance to write an exciting story with good guys, bad guys, aliens, and far-off planets and have God's glory right in the middle of it.

Sharon: And you have been successful! Who is your best encourager on your writing journey?         

JW: Oh most definitely my wife Dora. When I began to write Virago 4 she was the only one that knew. She never pushed me, but she would ask occasionally how the project was coming and helped me with some of the research. Sometimes I wouldn't write anything for months and Dora would gently remind me that this wasn't just about me this was actually a ministry.

Sharon: I am sure she is right. What gave you the inspiration for VIRAGO 4? How was this story placed on your heart?

JW: God gave it to me. I've been asked before where I came up with the story. I use the example of an airplane flying. As a pilot I use my God-given talents to operate the aircraft. Although I am guiding it around it's held up in the air by the laws of physics. Those laws were created by God. Just like flying the plane I was able to transfer the story from my head to keyboard but the story itself came straight from God. I guess it started with a simple question: what would happen if a Christian pilot was hired by a secret government agency that worked with advanced aliens. Now every secular psychologist on the planet is convinced that if Christians find out extraterrestrials exist we are going to somehow freak out. What the government doesn't realize is that the advanced aliens not only know of God they actually know God. And He’s the one that sent them.

Sharon: What impact do you hope this book has upon the reader? Are there any themes you weren't expecting? Any that developed as the story progressed?

JW: First of all, when it's read by a Christian I hope they enjoy it and it helps to strengthen their faith. When it's read by a nonbeliever I pray it will cause them to start asking questions. The main thing I wasn't expecting was that it would turn into a trilogy. Within a week of finishing the first novel I had the storyline for the second. The Ebih. And I bring the story to a close in The Alal.

Sharon: Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career you are willing to share?

JW: By far the biggest difficulty is writer's block. There is so much stuff in the world that is screaming for your attention. It can be stress at work or the things you see on the news, the devil uses everything at his disposal to keep you from writing about God. For me to combat this I have to turn off the TV and basically unplug from the world. I listen to contemporary Christian music while I'm writing and that keeps the creative juices flowing.

Sharon: What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

JW: My biggest surprise was when I found out even though the publisher says they absolutely love it they still want a huge chunk of money up front. Two years ago it was $4000 per book it's probably more than that now. That's why I went through the self-publishing route. I use Lulu.com and all three of my novels are available through them along with iBooks Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble's.

Sharon: What’s the most surprising thing that’s happened in your writing career?

JW: I gave a friend of mine a paperback copy of my first book. He opened it up looked back at me with a frown on his face and said, “Dude it's not signed.” I guess I was a little surprised for someone to ask for my autograph even if he was just a friend of mine.

Sharon: Of course he would want a signed copy. Have you received any other particularly memorable reader response?

JW: Yes, I had a lady contact me and say that she didn't like science fiction. My novel was recommended to her by a mutual friend and she really enjoyed it. And was looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy.

Sharon: Are you planning another book? If so, what’s the story about?

JW: Yes I have another project in the works; it's probably going to be another trilogy. The first book is entitled: The Noah Equation. It takes place in modern times and is about a billionaire that has a “road to Damascus experience.” God sends him on a quest to recover technology from a UFO that crashed in Germany in 1936. The Nazis lost it in the closing days of World War II. But the problem is he's not the only one looking for it.

Sharon: How can readers find your books?

JW: You can find my books on amazon.com and Barnes andNoble
I also have four book trailers on YouTube.

Book Trailer for Virago 4

Sharon: Thank you for joining us today, JW.

Q4U Readers: Have you ever read Science Fiction or Fantasy? Have you tried any that is written from a Christian World View?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

CrossReads Book Blast, Timothy Phillips by Cliff Ball

Timothy Phillips

By Cliff Ball

About the Book:

Can a nineteen year old stay true to the faith he was brought up on when he's under the spotlight?
Timothy Phillips dreams come true when he's discovered by the producer of a national talent show. So what's the problem? The recording contract is not in the Southern Gospel he would prefer to sing. As he begins recording and performing the music, he encounters increasing hostility towards Christians. Can he stay true to his faith, or will he end up compromising his beliefs little by little the more famous he becomes? When his world comes crashing down, will he have anything left to help him stand as the end times approach?
LINK to KINDLE | LINK to PAPERBACK
cliff41 Cliff Ball lives in Texas, born in Arizona, is a Christian and is Baptist. Has two BA's, and a Certificate in Technical Communications from the University of North Texas. Has published ten novels and four short stories in multiple genres, but is currently writing a Christian fiction series called "The End Times Saga." Cliff's first taste of being published was when he won third in high school for a short story written in Creative Writing class for a young adult magazine.
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Enter below to enter a $50 Amazon gift card, sponsored by author Cliff Ball! a Rafflecopter giveaway This book blast is hosted by CrossReads. We would like to send out a special THANK YOU to all of the CrossReads book blast bloggers!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Please help me welcome B. J. Robinson

Sharon: Please help me welcome B. J. Robinson to our Meet The Author Day. (She waits for applause to die down.)

B.J., may I get you a cup of coffee? Tea? A soft drink? Or just plain water?

B.J.: Sweet tea please. Thank you.

Sharon: Here you go, B.J. Can you tell us a little about your family?

B.J.: I'm a mother of four, two boys and two girls living in Louisiana, and a stepmother to one daughter living in Maine. Between all of them, they've made me a grandmother twelve times. My husband and I live in Florida with our pets, a shelter cat named Frankie, a golden cocker spaniel named Sunflower, and a golden retriever named Honi.

Sharon: Aren't grandchildren wonderful! And now your pets keep you from having an empty nest! With your big family, can you tell us how and when you became interested in writing?

B.J.: I've been writing since a teacher submitted a short story about my dog to a local newspaper, and it was published. I had my first college essay published in another local newspaper, and my first short story won first prize at Southeastern Louisiana University's fiction-writing competition, was published in their literary magazine, Gambit, and later ran on the front page of a local newspaper in a three-week serial.

Sharon: How interesting! And how has your writing changed your reading habits?

B.J.: I enjoy reading books in the genres I write, romantic suspense and historical fiction. I also read many more history articles since I've developed a love for history of the Civil War and antebellum periods.

Sharon: That’s good. Reading is an author’s homework they say. Who has been one of your best encouragers on your writing journey?

B.J.: Recently, Eva Marie Everson, my former writing mentor, and my ACFW writing critique partners, but in earlier years, it was my mother, sister, and teachers. Last but not least, God encourages me through reading His word.                   

Sharon: He does help us doesn’t He? How do you choose the settings for your books?

B.J.: I have a love for the outdoors and old homes, and I think it usually shines through in my writing, since I set some of my novels at campgrounds or old plantation homes during the Civil War and antebellum periods. I'm also a country girl at heart and tend to set them in the country rather than the city. I love Tennessee and have used vacation travels in some.

Sharon: Is that what gave you the inspiration for River Oaks Plantation? How was this particular story placed on your heart?

B.J.: I toured a plantation home many years ago with my mother and was later able to tour the same place again with my own family. The love of the trees and rivers inspired the title, but the tours taken with family opened my eyes to a love of the era and its history.

Sharon: Love that cover, by the way!

Of your own experiences, what influenced the writing of Margaret Turnrow (Maggie) the most? What features became aspects that were Maggie's alone?

B.J.: I love gardens and flowers and upon touring the plantation's beautiful ones, discovered the owner in history came to the plantation as a young fifteen-year-old bride. She also loved flowers and gardens and wanted to model her own after gardens she'd seen on her honeymoon tour. This gave me the passion for my character Maggie, a love of flowers and gardens.

Sharon: What’s something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

B.J.: I wish I'd known earlier how valuable a good critique group could be because I feel I gained more through my ACFW group than any writing class I ever took.

Sharon: And then what mistakes have you made while seeking publication?

B.J.: There were times I was so anxious that I sent in manuscripts before they were ready back in the day when publishers would look at them. Now, that I am a better writer and know to ready the manuscript, publishers no longer allow submission without an agent. Had I known then what I know now, perhaps I would've found a publisher when they were accepting submissions without an agent.

Sharon: That is certainly possible. Have you received a particularly memorable reader response?

B.J.: I have received much memorable reader response in regards to River Oaks Plantation, but a comment a reader left on a review just the other day really stayed with me. She said she'd heard River Oaks Plantation was really a good book. That remark made me remember the value in word-of-mouth in getting out the word about a new book, and it validated that my writing grows with each book I write.

Sharon: That is so true, B.J. What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

B.J.: I love being a writer, the actual process of keying the book into the computer and going back layering and editing, feedback from readers, and the relationships I've made because of my writing. I've met people from all across the United States and Canada, as well as other parts of the world whom I would've never met if it were not for my writing. My least favorite part is coming into contact with people who try to scam writers, but I've learned to be aware of them, and I would never submit my book to a vanity publisher or pay to have it published.

Sharon: Are you planning another book? If so, what’s the story about?

B.J.: Yes, I actually have the first nine chapters completed on another Civil War, antebellum period novel titled Romance Under the Oaks, and it will be entirely historical fiction.

Sharon: Thank you B.J. How can readers find you on the Internet?

B.J.: Click on these links for my Author Facebook page , 
Twitter My blogAmazon Page.
                                                                
Sharon: Thank you so much for joining us today, B.J. Do you have any parting words?


B.J.: I'd like to thank my readers and supporters for your encouragement, reading my books, and for the wonderful book reviews you've left. Author feedback is valuable and appreciated. I have the best readers, and I love hearing from you.

Q 4 Readers: What are your favorite book(s) from 2013?