Interview Elsewhere (at Charlie’s blog)

Charlie Holmberg

If you’ve ever wondered what my latest book is about, or who is my favourite author… you know, earth shattering questions like that… then I invite you to skip on over to the “Myself As Written” blog where I’m being interviewed today by freelance editor and aspiring fantasy author Charlie Holmberg.

If you’re not up to skipping, I won’t mind at all. But since I’m not writing anything else here today, it’s gonna be a mighty boring place if you decide to wait around.

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Book Giveaway and Author Interview: Jody Hedlund

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I’m in two places at once today. You’ll also find me posting about sources of power on The Pastor’s Wife Speaks blog. After enjoying today’s interview with Jody Hedlund (and leaving a comment to be eligible for a free copy of her new book) perhaps you’ll click over and join me there.

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Jody Hedlund

I’m honoured to welcome author Jody Hedlund to my blog. I’ve been sold on Jody’s writing since before she published her first book. Her blog caught my attention back somewhere in mid-2009 as she shared her writing journey with great transparency and wisdom. Her faith also shone through each post, and I remember thinking that she was destined to have a ministry through her words.

Her debut novel, The Preacher’s Bride, was published last year by Bethany House, and her second book, The Doctor’s Lady, has just been released.

I thoroughly enjoyed The Preacher’s Bride, so was surprised to discover I liked The Doctor’s Lady much more. Its writing is tighter, the story line is smoother, credible conflict immediately captures attention and builds throughout.  It’s quite an adventure! Once I started reading, I couldn’t stop, and believe me, that isn’t usual for me with an inspy historical romance.

The blurb about The Doctor’s Lady says, “Priscilla White knew God wanted her to be a missionary, not a wife. Then, the missionary board declares the only way she can serve is to be married. Now, married in name only [to Dr. Eli Ernest], her epic journey west will test her spirit… and the new longings of her heart.”

INTERVIEW

Jody, what was the inspiration behind The Doctor’s Lady?  

This book is inspired by the true life story of Narcissa Whitman, the first white woman to brave the dangers of overland trail and travel west. In 1836, she married Dr. Whitman, and then the next day left her childhood home and would never return for the purpose of starting a mission among the Nez Perce natives.

It was my hope in this story to bring Narcissa Whitman to life. This heroic woman has often been ignored and at times even disparaged. In reality, she exuded incredible courage to attempt a trip many proclaimed foolishly dangerous. It was called an “unheard-of-journey for females.” Because of her willingness to brave the unknown, she led the way for the many women who would follow in her footsteps in what would later become known as the Oregon Trail.

What message do you hope readers take away from TDL?

I hope readers are inspired to try new things and brave dangerous prospects in the pursuit of their dreams. When we go after the things that matter, we’ll have to take risks and we’ll experience setbacks and obstacles. But if we persevere, we can reach our destination and do great things along the way.

I know you’re busy working on another book. What’s coming next? 

In 2012, my next historical romance releases. I’m really excited about this story because it’s set in my home state of Michigan. It takes place during the 1880’s at a time in history when the lumber era was at its height. The heroine of the story is a young woman, Lily Young, who is looking for her sister who’s caught up into the degradation of lumber camp life. While Lily searches for her missing sister, she fights against the evil that runs rampant around her, and she fights not to lose her heart to the lumber baron who turns a blind eye to the lawlessness of the lumber business.

People always seem curious about the life of a writer, so I have to ask, what do you like most (and least) about writing and being a published author?

As a writer, I love telling stories. I especially like the feeling that comes as I near the end of the book when everything looks hopeless, the characters are in big trouble, and somehow I’m able to wrap up the book in a satisfying way. I call it the first-draft love affair! I fall absolutely and madly in love with the story and think it’s the best thing I’ve ever written.

As a published author, I love hearing from readers. I’m always thrilled to get emails or hand-written notes from readers telling me how much my story touched them.

I struggle the most during the editing phase of each of my books. The love affair that started during the first draft comes to an end. I fall out of love with my books. By the last edit—called the Galley Review—I finally reach a point where I loathe the book, think it’s the worst thing I’ve ever written, and wish I could just throw it away. During the Galley stage, I’m fraught with insecurity and fear. My agent did a great job of talking me off the cliff during my fears with The Doctor’s Lady. She encouraged and inspired me to keep going no matter what happens.

Now for a more personal question… one that our family always seems to toss around during summer picnics and BBQ’s: “If you knew you were going to be stranded on a deserted island for a month and could only take multiples of one meal with you, what would it be?” Our children always choose something very different from the adults. What would you take? 

If I were going to be completely honest, I’d have to say I’d bring nachos–the kind piled high with cheese, taco meat, sour cream, salsa, guacamole, lettuce, and tomato.

However, my motherly responsible answer would be to say that I’d bring a big taco salad–with lots of lettuce, tomato, taco meat, cheese, and chips. I think this would be a bit healthier than the nachos, and of course it would be one that included most of the food groups.

Could I sneak in a pan of gooey brownies too? =)

Of course! I think all writers depend upon chocolate to fuel their inspiration, don’t they? I like your food choice; nachos with cheese is my absolutely favourite snack!

Many of my readers are aspiring authors. Do you have any advice to share? 

Write a couple of books first and unleash your creativity. Then start reading books that explain how to write. Study techniques, practice them, and keep writing. When you begin reaching a level in your writing where you think you’re ready to start querying, get a critique partner to read your work, vamp up your online presence, and immerse yourself in the writing industry.

Thanks, Jody. I’ve loved having you here today. If readers would like to connect more with you, where can they find you? 

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GIVEAWAY!

I received a copy of The Doctor’s Lady from the publisher to review for this post, and I’m going to give it away to one lucky reader who leaves a comment here between now and midnight next Tuesday — that’s 12:01 a.m. on Wednesday, September 21. Be sure to leave your e-mail when prompted so you can be reached. I’ll announce the winner Wednesday morning. The draw is limited to addresses in Canada and the USA.

UPDATE!

The draw has been done (see here) and Susan J. Reinhardt is the winner. Congratulations, Susan!

(The Doctor’s Lady can also be purchased at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million, Borders, and ChristianBook.com, as well as at most of your local bookstores.)

CONTEST!

Jody has an incredible contest running on her website. The Be a Trailblazer Contest has a pioneer prize package valued at $300! The contest is limited to residents of the USA, age 18 and older, but visit her contest page for all the details.

AUTHOR BIO

Jody Hedlund is an award-winning historical romance novelist and author of the best-selling book, The Preacher’s Bride. She is represented by Rachelle Gardner of the WordServe Literary Group. Jody received a bachelor’s degree from Taylor University and a master’s from the University of Wisconsin, both in Social Work. Currently she makes her home in Michigan with her husband and five busy children. Her second book, The Doctor’s Lady, was released earlier this month by Bethany House Publishers.

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Interview: Author Christine Lindsay

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Today I’m pleased to share an interview with debut author Christine Lindsay.

I discovered just recently that Christine and I are almost neighbours. We both live in BC’s Central Fraser Valley just outside Vancouver, which is on the Pacific coast of Canada, about 200 miles north of Seattle.

Christine says it’s a special time in her life as she and her husband enjoy the empty nest, but also the noise and fun when the kids and grandkids come home. Like a lot of writers, her cat is her chief editor.

She writes historical Christian inspirational novels with strong love stories. She doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects such as the themes in her debut novel SHADOWED IN SILK, which is set in India during a turbulent era. Christine’s long-time fascination with the British Raj was seeded from stories of her ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in India. Shadowed in Silk won first place in the 2009 ACFW Genesis for Historical under the title Unveiled. Shadowed in Silk is being released by WhiteFire Publishing in two stages this year, first as an eBook on May 1, 2011, and as the printed version September 1, 2011.

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Christine has kindly offered to give away of a copy of SHADOWED IN SILK in either the ebook or paper format to someone who comments on this post before 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, May 3rd. If the winner chooses the ebook it can be claimed this week. If the winner’s choice is a paper copy, a coupon will be issued for when it’s available in print.

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CG:             SHADOWED IN SILK is your debut novel. Please tell us about the story.

CL:  After the Great War, Abby Fraser returns to India with her small son, where her husband Nick is stationed with the British army. Nick hasn’t written in four years, and when Abby finally catches up with him, she discovers that he has become a cruel stranger.

Major Geoff Richards is broken over the loss of so many of his men in the trenches of France. While Geoff is a devoted Christian, he struggles with anger over the way his British peers treat the Indian people he loves. Geoff also can’t help but notice that Nick Fraser is mistreating Abby and her little boy. Meanwhile Geoff is ordered to search out a Russian spy, throwing him into Abby’s social circle.

Abby discovers that Tikah, one of the servants, is more of a wife to Nick than she is. This other woman is Muslim, and she also is mistreated by Nick.

Amid growing political unrest within India, and threats from Afghanistan, tensions rise.

Abby and Geoff, caught between their own ideals and duty, stumble into the path of the Russian spy, and straight into the fire of revolution.

Shadowed in Silk deals with—and I think delicately—a tough subject, spousal abuse. It’s about how women are often mistreated in eastern cultures as well as western.

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CG:            Where did the idea for this story come from?

CL:            I’ve always loved novels set in India, especially those by the great MM Kaye. But the story of Abby came about from watching my mum who was abused by my father when I was growing up. However, I want the readers to know there are no overt graphic scenes of violence in the book. In fact I’ve been told that I deal with the subject in a delicate manner. And there is so much more in the book. There is romance, and great adventure, as well as true historical events that shook the British Empire.

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CG:            This isn’t your first published work, is it? Would you like to share a bit about your contribution to THRIVING AS AN ADOPTIVE FAMILY? 

CL:            I contributed to the non-fictional book compiled by David and Renee Sanford who are adoptive parents. I am a birthmother—a woman who relinquished her child to adoption. Adoption changed the way I look at everything, especially how I view God. I wanted to show how birthmothers often feel invisible.

It used to be that a great many birthmothers couldn’t even talk about their experiences, or the pain of giving up their child. Most birthmothers relinquish their child out of tremendous love for their baby. I wanted people to understand that.

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CG:            Everyone has a story about “the call” and “how I found my agent/editor/publisher.” Can you share a bit of the journey that led you to your publisher, Whitefire Publishing?

CL:              Shadowed won the 2009 ACFW Genesis under the title Unveiled, and that garnered a lot of buzz for me and my book. But most of the CBA houses passed on it. At the same time, my agent decided to leave the business, and another very well known agent was ready to sign me up.

But after I gave this new agent the bad news, that about six of the major houses had already turned SiS down, she had to back out of her offer. I was pretty devastated. I’d been writing seriously for about ten years.

So there I was about two years ago—agent-less, and with a book no one wanted. I went on a missions trip to India, and was willing to give up my desires for a fictional career in order to do non-fictional work for free. That was when God seemed to bring my dead and buried fictional book back to life, and I got the call from WhiteFire. It just goes to show that you can’t out-give God.

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CG:            How long did it take you to write SHADOWED IN SILK?  Was the first draft close to the finished product or did it go through multiple revision transformations?

CL:              Multiple revisions for sure. I was working full-time when I first started researching this setting and era.  And the actual writing took a while because of my job. It probably took about four years in all, on a part-time basis. But I’m glad I didn’t give up on it. As people are reading it, they are delighted with the exotic setting and historical detail, and I’m pleased with how it all turned out.

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CG:            Are you a writer who plots and outlines first, or do you dive in and figure things out as you go?

CL:             I outline first, but as I write I often find the story takes on a life of its own, as I’m sure you’ve heard before. The characters start to come alive. So I am a bit of both—an outliner, and a seat of the panster.

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CG:            Give us a glimpse of where you do most of your writing.

CL:             In our new townhouse there is a nice little office that overlooks a pasture. I sit on our old couch and tap away on my laptop, usually with the dog at my feet, and the cat beside me.

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CG:            Were there doubts, low times or obstacles for you along the way? How did you overcome them?

CL:            Oh my goodness, were there doubts, etc. Many, many times. But each time I would relinquish my hopes and ambitions to God in the same way I surrender myself to Him as a living sacrifice each day. What’s the sense in banging your head against the wall, if something you want isn’t God’s plan for your life?

So I was always willing to give up my dream if the Lord wanted me to do something else. But each time I asked Him if I should quit, He would do something amazing to encourage me to keep on. One year He arranged for me to win a scholarship to the ACFW conference.

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CG:            Do you have any advice for writers who are a step behind you in their pursuit of publication? Anything that you wish you’d known before you waded in yourself?

CL:             It will probably take you a lot longer than you think to polish your craft, and for the Lord to set up certain things for you to be noticed, to be in the right place at the right time. It will cost you much more than you realize in time, energy, and maybe even cost you financially. To become a writer can often mean giving up things in order to follow that calling. It’s not about making money. In fact you could make more money at your old day job. Ask God first if He wants you to do this. And surrender yourself to Him every day, and keep in mind—it’s all about Him. Nothing else is worthwhile.

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CG:             I understand SHADOWED IN SILK is being released as an e-book now, and then in book form in September 2011. What are your marketing and promotion plans.

CL:            Promotion is harder than writing the book. Very uncomfortable. WhiteFire will use every connection they have—and they have many. Because it’s a small traditional press just starting out, they have a small line, and can easily promote each of their books fairly.

As for me, I am getting the word out on a more personal basis. Naturally, I’ll do all I can online to make Shadowed be noticed. But at the same time I never want to be pushy. It’s my desire that in every communication I have with readers, that I encourage them in some manner. It’s not about me just selling my book. I want to remain true to my prayer—to help others come to know God better. That means my book may not sell very well. But the Lord will provide my daily bread.

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CG:            Where can people buy copies of SHADOWED IN SILK?

CL:            The paperback format will be released September 1st but is currently available for pre-order at Amazon.com. The ebook version is available now in all formats from eBookIt and in Nook format from Barns & Noble.

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CG:            What’s next? Do you have another story in the wings?

CL:            I have two—one is the sequel to Shadowed in Silk, and it’s called Captured by Moonlight. It will continue on with two of the characters from SiS, and will have lots of danger and suspense as well as romance.

The other book I’m working on is a historical romance set in Washington State in 1910. I call it Sofi’s Bridge for the time being. It’s about a young woman who feels duty-bound to ignore her artistic gift. And in 1910 it wasn’t very acceptable for a woman to want to design bridges.

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CG:            Anything I haven’t asked you that you’d like to take the opportunity to mention?

CL:              Like I said before, you can’t out-give God. After my reunion with my birthdaughter, I began to relive the pain of giving her up in the first place. God comforted my heart by encouraging me to write. So my birthdaughter became my muse. Through no planning on my part, it just all sort of happened quickly, the Lord arranged for my daughter to be the model on the front cover of my debut novel. Only a tender-hearted Father would do something so intricately kind.

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CG:          Thanks for sharing your publishing story with my readers, Christine. I wish you God’s continued blessings  and much success with SHADOWED IN SILK.

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If you have any questions for Christine, please leave them in a comment below. And don’t forget… someone who comments will win a copy of Christine’s new release, SHADOWED IN SILK. 🙂


          Christine’s email: Christine.lindsay.writer@gmail.com

          Websitewww.christinelindsay.com

          Contributor to: International Christian Fiction Writers Blog

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I’m somewhere else today

I’m not here today because I’m there… there being Keli Gwyn’s “Romance Writers on the Journey” blog, where Keli and I are having a cosy chat. Please click on over and join us. There’s virtual popcorn to munch as you read, and at the end of the interview there is a draw. Keli will draw the name of one lucky person who leaves a comment on her blog by midnight September 14 (Pacific Time) and that person will win my “Writing on the Run” kit. I hope it’s you! 😉

Update: I’ve been advised by Keli Gwyn that the winner of the draw is a fellow Canadian, Tricia Saxby. Congratulations, Tricia! I’ll be sending the writing kit off to you shortly.

Not Yet… Noooooo!!!

We wandered the gardens this morning, the dog and I. He caught up on wildlife scents while I checked out how things had survived the weeks of our vacation abandonment.

There weren’t a lot of blooms on the potentilla and I was surprised to find the dogwood leaves fading and the ‘Autumn Joy’ sedum heads already blushing early hints of what later will become a rich rusty red. That’s when it happened.

My next step caused a crunch and I discovered the leaves. The sheltered half of the recently mown lawn, spread green in the shade of hemlock and alder, was sprinkled with fallen leaves. My heart rejected what my eyes couldn’t deny. It seems we’re going to have an early autumn this year and I’m so not ready, even though it’s my favourite season.

There are good things about changing seasons but I never manage to accomplish everything intended before it’s time to move on.  I had goals for this summer – to polish a final draft of one novel and seek agent representation for it, get a contest entry ready for submission and resume working on a suspended w.i.p. I made it only half way through the list. Drat!

I’m happy to have the novel ready for submission, but the agent I planned to approach is currently not accepting queries so I’ll have to decide whether to sit on it for a while or look elsewhere. Maybe I’ll drag it along with me and pitch it at the conference I’m attending next month. I did meet the contest deadline with not one but two entries, but the other unfinished novel is still waiting for attention. Did you have goals for this summer? Did you reach them? If not, what got in the way?

Officially summer isn’t over until the Fall Equinox, which arrives this year on September 23rd. That means I have two weeks yet. I’m taking part in Shari Green’s ‘Back to the Books’ challenge with a declared goal of BIC (Butt in Chair) for two hours a day, five days a week. There’s no telling how much I could get written on that w.i.p. in twenty hours if I start right now, is there? I’m off to find the file.

Oh, but I can’t go quite yet. I promised more info about next week’s interview with Keli Gwyn on her Romance Writers on the Journey website. Keli interviews both debut and aspiring authors and she was kind enough to invite me into her realm for a chat. I’ll have a link to the interview on Monday along with a picture of what I’m donating for a draw. It’s a “Take It With You” writing kit for writing on the run. It’s everything you need  for those creative times away from your computer… a zippered case containing a writing journal, notebook, pens, pencil and highlighter, index cards, sticky notes – even a bar of organic dark chocolate to tempt the muse.

Some lucky person who stops in at Keli’s blog and comments on the interview will win the kit, and I hope it will be you. (You’d love it; I know you would!) Hope to see you there on Monday.

News ‘n Notes

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: JENNIFER HUBBARD

On Thursday I’ll be posting an interview with debut author Jennifer Hubbard. Jenn’s contemporary YA novel THE SECRET YEAR is being released this week by Viking (Penguin).

P.S. – Jenn’s agent, Nathan Bransford, even has a coordinated teen diary writing contest over on his blog. If you’re feeling creative and have a teen voice go check it out here. Contest deadline is 4 p.m. Pacific time tomorrow (Wednesday, January 6th).

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APPLE TABLET E-READER

First it was Amazon’s Kindle, the Sony e-reader, B&N’s Nook and Borders’ Alex. Now rumors are suggesting the soon-to-be-released Apple’s Tablet will outshine them all as “a multimedia device that will let people watch movies and television shows, play games, surf the internet and read electronic books and newspapers.” [Wall Street Journal] As a long time Apple aficionado, I’m more than a little curious about Apple’s January 27 media event.

E-book sales are a small but growing market and e-book readers continue to compete for our dollars. The Tablet is apparently going to be a premium mobile device that will do what Apple has always done… be unique and cost more. Just when I’m almost talked into considering an e-reader it looks like I won’t be able to afford the one I want. Drat!

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PUBLISHER’S LUNCH reports that after ten years of no profits, US-based Joseph-Beth Booksellers are anticipating growth in 2010. In an interview spokesman Neil Van Uum said, “Van Uum’s rule of thumb is the longer you can keep someone in a bookstore, the more likely he or she is to spend money there… For each store, he’s hired two marketing and events coordinators to create a yearlong calendar of book signings, orchestra performances, photography shows and craft workshops.” That’s the kind of optimism I like to see.