As my Easter gift to 5 lucky people, I’m giving away copies of my book through GoodReads! Click on the link below and enter!
So my friend and brilliantly funny writer, Rhonda Hall, invited me to participate in a blog hop. Since I’m working on some new things, I thought it would be fun. Check out Rhonda’s blog at http://rhondamhall.wordpress.com/. And keep an eye out for her name. I’ve never met an author with such a gift for humor. Her characters are so realistic and her dialogue leaves you crying from laughter.
Okay, here are this “hop’s” questions and my (hopefully) brilliant answers.
1. What are you working on? I’ve got several irons in the proverbial fire. I’m sending my contemporary Christian novel, Winter Trees, out to get copyedited. Once that’s done, I’ll be putting it up through Createspace and Amazon. I’d like to finish my NaNoWriMo novel even though it’s a little darker than I usually write. I like the protagonist, a grieving teen named Leia, with a lot of family and school turmoil to overcome. I may never publish that one, but I need to finish it so I know what happens to her! Next, I’ve got to finish my YA trilogy, The Portals of Ayden. I’m stuck in the third novel, not wanting write out the mega-battle I know has to take place. I think I’m afraid because I know characters have to die and I don’t want to let them go. And finally, I want to start a novella on the prophetess, Anna. All this is between a spring marketing push for Woman of Flames.
2) How does my work differ from others in its genre? I’m really trying to walk a fine line between fiction that honors my faith, but will be enjoyed by people with no faith. I don’t want to preach to anyone, but I want my characters to serve as an example. I want someone who is hurting, who maybe has been hurt by organized religion, to still identify with my characters and their trials.
3) Why do I write what I do? To be honest, because I couldn’t find many novels whose characters were like me. I’m a mess. I have a lot of wonderful, messy friends. But we have a strong faith. Traditional Christian novels seem neater. There’s one “mess” and many “together” people. And then there’s a section that hits me over the head with THE TRUTH. I don’t want to hammer a sermon into my readers’ brain. I see myself as planting seeds. What happens after my story is up to the reader and God.
4) How does your writing process work? First I need to be inspired by a character or scene. Woman of Flames came about from the research I’d done when I performed a monologue about Deborah, the prophet. Other times, I’ll be free thinking (usually in the shower, go figure) and a scene will appear in my mind like a mini-movie. It’s usually some horribly traumatic scene–a woman grieving the loss of her fiancé (Winter Trees) or a modern teen thrown into a medieval jail (The Portals of Ayden trilogy.) The weirdest one was my contemporary YA. The opening line popped into my head one day, “If my father’s infidelity hadn’t already killed my mother, the endless rolling nothing of the Iowa landscape would have pushed her over the edge.” The line immediately drew me into this girl’s story.
After inspiration hits, it’s a process of sitting in front of my computer and spewing out the story. This involves a lot of coffee and my pajamas. I like to be comfy when I write and normal clothes constrict my creativity (don’t judge.) I don’t outline until the middle of story, until then, I free flow it. At some point however, I hit a wall and need to scratch out the bones of the ending.
Now for the next Blog Hop!
It’s my pleasure to introduce 3 authors I’m honored to call my friends. Steve Parlato’s YA novel, The Namesake, won the Tassy award. Chuck Grossart’s The Menegele Effect is a semi-finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest and Angela Meyer’s novel, Where Hope Starts is a finalist in the 2013 Grace Awards. Check out their bio’s and follow their links below! Thanks!
Steven Parlato is a writer, illustrator and Assistant Professor of English at Naugatuck Valley Community College in Connecticut. An occasional actor, he’s played roles including MacBeth, The Scarecrow and Bambi’s dad, the Great Prince of the Forest. Steve’s poetry appears in journals including MARGIE, Borderlands, Freshwater, CT River Review and Peregrine. His debut YA manuscript, JUNIOR, winner of the 2011 Tassy Walden Award for New Voices, was released January 18, 2013 by Merit Press as The Namesake. Recently, Kirkus called the novel a “memorable, disturbing story, carefully wrought.” Represented for fiction by Victoria Marini of Gelfman-Schneider Literary Agency, Steven is at work on his next YA novel. He’s a member of a YA author collective, Uncommon YA. You can also find him online at http://www.stevenparlato.com or on Twitter: @parlatowrites
Angela D. Meyer lives in Omaha, NE with her husband of more than 22 years. She homeschools their daughter and recently graduated their son who is now off to the Marines. She has taught Bible class for over 35 years and served for almost three years on the leadership team of her local Christian writers group. She loves God, her family, the ocean, good stories, connecting with friends, taking pictures, quiet evenings and a good laugh. Someday she wants to ride in a hot air balloon and vacation by the sea. www.facebook.com/AuthorAngelaDMeyer www.angeladmeyer.com
Chuck Grossart is a retired United States Air Force Lieutenant Colonel originally from the Denver, Colorado area. After serving his country for twenty years as a missile launch officer, space operator and strike planner, he settled his family outside of Omaha, Nebraska, where he continues to serve as a strategic plans analyst for the Department of the Air Force. He holds a BA in Political Science from the University of Northern Colorado, and a MSHRM from Lesley University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. His first novel, THE COMING, was a quarter-finalist in the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) contest. His second novel, THE MENGELE EFFECT, was selected as a top-three finalist in Audio-ON’s 2013 Aspiring Authors Contest. Chuck is a member of the Nebraska Writers Guild, and the Nebraska Writers Workshop. http://cvgrossart.wix.com/chuck-grossart
I had such high hopes for this month. I thought for sure I’d be over the crud that kept me down through February and yet…
Even with fighting this respiratory virus that mutates every other week, I am amazed at how many blessings God has poured out over my life. I have wonderful friends who continue to send encouraging notes or drop by with Chai tea to let me know I’m loved. My husband’s patience at having soup, yet again, for dinner. And I’ve been able to get ahead on the reviews I have to do this month.
The puppies are finally settling down, a little anyway. And with the improving weather they’ve been able to frolic outside while I rest on the recliner. Of course, that leads to a number of impromptu baths in the kitchen sink because of the mud! Below is a picture of Maizey, looking very pleased with her adventures.
And just when I succumbed to frustration that I wasn’t getting any writing done, God sent me two emails in one day. One was from an editor who wanted to buy a short humor piece I’d sent in on a whim. The other was for a piece I’d submitted to Chicken Soup for the Soul ages ago. I’d honestly forgotten I’d even sent it!
I hope, the next time I blog, I’ll be able to tell you I’m up and healthy and busy with marketing Woman of Flames. If not, I’ll continue to praise God for His daily blessings of medicine, food, Kleenex and a warm bed! I would love to hear from you and how God has blessed you this month!
I remember in my twenties being warned by older women in my Bible study not to pray for patience. “Pray for it, and the Lord will keep sending you ways to test your patience. Traffic jams, cranky kids, being on hold with insurance companies…you name it, you’ll have to deal with it!”
I’ve learned that trying to practice thankfulness seems to have the same effect. For the new year I started a devotional by Ann Voskamp about finding God’s gifts throughout each day. I absolutely love the devotional, but since I started it, I’ve been plagued by one test after another. Puppies that poop throughout the house and don’t sleep through the night; temperatures below zero with wind chills that would scare a polar bear; and coughs and flus that never leave. My family often finds me mumbling over my coffee as I try to focus my thoughts on God’s graces, rather than the pile of used tissues and cough drop wrappers threatening to overflow the trash can.
But, not surprisingly, most days this incoherent chanting of mine does produce the desired effect. When I thank the Lord for my warm house, comfy jammies and the wonders of Kleenex, my mood brightens and I’m not quite so miserable.
So far, February has been spent working on practicing thankfulness and not much else. I hope to have Woman of Flames up on Smashwords soon, but with my foggy brain, it’s been a slow process. I’ve finished 1 book review, revised two humor pieces for submission to a new venue and am struggling to complete my NaNoWriMo novel. I’m also hoping to start work on a novella about Anna, the prophetess. Years ago I wrote a monologue about her and the more I think about it, the more I think it would make a great story. My plan is to offer it free on Smashwords. I may try and publish it in paperback as well.
So that’s my February update. I’m thankful this month for my chiropractor (who fixes the pinched nerve in my neck when I cough too hard,) a patient husband, understanding friends, and God’s unending mercies.
Anyone else got something to be thankful for? Leave me a comment and let me know!
I thought March was the month that comes in like a lion, but this January has pounced on me like a wild animal as well. And me, without a whip or chair to keep it under control.
My first indication chaos had arrived came with the addition of two new puppies to our family. Maizey and Ollie arrived shortly before Christmas and haven’t stopped moving since. I am completely outnumbered by adorable four-legged cuteness. Instead of being distracted by shiny things, I now find myself saying, “Look at the fluffy!”
The pressure has started to market Woman of Flames. It’ s been difficult for my self-conscious personality to think of nice things to say about me. But I came up with several marketing pamphlets to hand out and have gotten my book on the shelves of the local Christian bookstore. I also participated in a local authors fair and had my first book signing.
The Sump Library in LaVista, NE did an awesome job arranging this event which included a panel of authors discussing their experiences with self-publishing. I had a wonderful time meeting with new people and even sold 11 books! Now that my toes have been dipped into the proverbial water, I’m ready to book a couple more signings around town.
I’ve also got my work cut out for me, preparing to speak at a woman’s retreat this spring and starting to write a new Biblical short novella that I’ll offer free for eBooks. Not to mention the two YA novels I hope to finish soon as well. And then there’s still the puppies who demand my attention at all hours of the day or else they chew every shoe, sock, and chair into which they can sink their tiny teeth.
I’m guessing this is my new “normal” and I’ll just have to get used to the faster pace and spastic balls of fur. As crazy as this month has already been, I’m excited for the upcoming year and all that God has in store for me.
I hear it from my friends. I hear it from my kids. “Where did the year go?”
Crazy to think we’re at the end of 2013. I thought this year would go slowly. After all, we had no major events planned. No weddings. No graduations. No big trips.
Instead, I started jogging through 2013 at a nice pace, only to find myself careening down the hill in December like the Dread Pirate Roberts in The Princess Bride. Bouncing head-over-heels in an uncontrollable free-fall. So many things to accomplish. Not feeling as if I’m ever getting anything done.
But I have.
I’ve written 12 humor blogs for www.thechristianpulse.com. I’ve written at least 20 new reviews for Thriving Family magazine, sold 2 pieces to Vista and completed Where Shadows Lie, the second in my young adult trilogy. I’ve also gotten 3/4 of the way through 2 new manuscripts, attended 2 conferences and taken 2 on-line classes in web page design. But publishing Woman of Flames is definitely my biggest professional accomplishment. Looking back, it’s been a pretty eventful year.
Here’s hoping 2014 will bring even bigger achievements. I start marketing Woman of Flames in the new year with a book signing at the Sump Memorial Library (January 11, 2-4!) I’ll be approaching several book stores in the area to arrange signings in their facilities as well. I’m hoping to head back to my native East Coast to do signings and/or performances in churches and stores in the spring. All this, as I continue to write my humor blogs, reviews, finish my 2 new stories and hopefully, self-publish another manuscript.
Those are my professional goals this year. How about you? I’d love to hear your 2013 achievements and your 2014 goals!
Just got back to Nebraska from a writer’s conference in Kansas. I always feel like I’ve been force fed information with a fire hose at these things, but they’re great places to learn more about the craft of writing and network with people. For an introvert like myself, however, they exhaust me. I got asked to send a proposal and the full manuscript of my YA novel, A Shattered Moon to a small publishing house. I have to think about this. I’m enjoying the success I’m having with Woman of Flames, and I’m beholding to no one but myself and God. It’s a nice place to be. Not sure I want to add a third party into this equation. Anyone else have thoughts on this? Opinions? Leave a comment and let me know!
So, Christmas is right around the corner! Why not enter to win one of 5 free copies of Woman of Flames that I’m giving away at GoodReads! If you’ve already read the book, you can give away the copy you win. If you haven’t read it yet, consider it an early Christmas present from me!
Thanks to my friend and brilliant author, Steve Parlato, for tagging me in The Next Big Thing! He’s written an awesome Young Adult novel called The Namesake. It’s a powerful book that I highly recommend. Take a look at his site!
So, here are the questions I’m supposed to answer about my soon-to-be released, Woman of Flames
What is the working title of your next book?
Woman of Flames
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Back when I was in graduate school, I worked on a play called Spread Your Garment Over Me. At that time, it was a two-person show about women in the Bible ( I’ve since performed it alone for churches across the country.) I split the monologues and songs that were to be performed with another actress. I ended up with Deborah. Although I’d read her story in the Bible, I needed to do some research about her in order to create a character. You have to remember, this was some (cough,cough) 25 years ago. I wasn’t able to find much about her, other than general commentary. A lot of her background information I just had to make-up. But it started me thinking, how did a woman rise to a position of authority in such a male dominated society?
In what genre does your book fall?
If I had to pick one, I’d say Historical fiction. Yes, the main character is Biblically based, but I’ve tried to create a story that a person with no interest in the Bible would still want to read and enjoy. My good friend and editor, Sherry Harris, has suggested it’s really a political thriller.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In a world ruled by men, one young woman defies convention to gather an army and free her people from slavery
What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?
That’s a tough one. Jennifer Lawrence from Hunger Games would be too old, but she has the quality I’d like to see for Deborah—beautiful but tough. As I wrote the character of Sisera, I always envisioned a man with eyes like Eric Bana. After seeing the new Mortal Instruments movie, I’m thinking maybe Jonathon Rhys Meyers could work. He has the right intensity and creepy factor. For Lapidoth/Barak….I have no idea!!
Who is publishing your book?
I’m publishing it myself through CreateSpace. Before I dropped my agent, I sent my manuscript to him. He told me (without reading it) that I’d have to cut 25,000 words. I poured over the story, cutting out whatever I could and only managed to make it down to 114,000 words. I hated what I had left. I’ve had numerous readers over the years tell me they actually wanted more scenes, none of them ever said it was too long. I decided to go back to my original story and publish it myself.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
It’s been so long ago and been through so many revisions…I think it took me a year.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
This is a tough one too. Perhaps Francine Rivers’ “Mark of the Lion” series. Or Dovekeepers by Alice Hoffman.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
When I graduated with my Master’s degree, eight months pregnant at the time, my advisor (and writer of Spread Your Garment Over Me- Gil Elvgren) told me that since I may not be able to perform for a few years, I should try writing, in order to stay in touch with my creative side. I spent the next several years working out scenes in my head. I didn’t begin writing down my stories until I started homeschooling my kids. I could work at the computer and still be close enough to supervise them (answer questions, make sure they didn’t kill each other!)
What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?
Several of the twists and turns of the plot actually came after researching the Jewish Midrash (oral history) about Deborah and Jael. I spent a lot of time at the Kripke Jewish Federation Library in Omaha pouring over their books. It was fascinating to read the ancient stories about these two women.
Now it’s my pleasure to tag a couple of my friends to participate in The Next Big Thing! Sherry Harris is a great friend, a fabulous editor and wonderful author of cozy mysteries. If suspense/horror is more your thing, here’s a link to Chuck Grossart, he always has something new to offer to keep you up at night (or at least keep the lights on!)
Here it is! Finally! The cover for my novel about the Old Testament prophet, Deborah. It’s a story that percolated in my head for about 10 years before I started to write it down. It took another 2 years to research and finish. It’s been “done” for about 3 years now, but I’ve been tweaking and editing it since then. This month will be spent putting it into a template, uploading it into CreateSpace, and proofing the galley print. My plan is to press the button to have it in print by September 1st, but that will depend on the galley printing/review time. At the very latest, it will be up by the end of September in both print and ebook form. I’m so excited and nervous to see what people think about the final product.
It’s another busy month. I’ve sent a query out to try to find representation for my YA trilogy and I’m finally designing a cover for Woman of Flames, my novel about the OT prophet, Deborah. Going through the manuscript one more time in order to catch errors, then I’ll have CreateSpace send me a couple of reader copies so I can see it in print. Once the print copy is set, I’ll format it for Kindle and Nook.
I’ve also started taking an on-line class in Website formatting. Hopefully, I’ll understand enough that I can give this site a much needed update. I’d also like to start a blog with my daughter Annie, my niece Rebecca and hopefully another YA writer. I think it would be fun to have multiple generations giving their reviews of the latest YA books. I also plan on profiling some of today’s YA authors.
I’m also still doing my monthly humor blog for www.thechristianpulse.com and 2 reviews for Thriving Family. A writer’s work is never done!