Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Stephanie Guerrero stops by and offers a giveaway!

Welcome Stephanie Guerrero!

Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Stephanie Guerrero. I am a Southern girl who married a tall, handsome mid-western turned pastor! We have lived a thousand adventures in our twenty-three years of married “happily ever after” and have four amazing children. I’m a former middle school reading teacher & curriculum writer; but traded 150 students a year to stay home with four of my own. I co-founded Sister2Sister Ministries, love music, travel, flowers, Mexican food and dark chocolate!




Why did you start writing? How did you start writing?

Originally, I was a middle school reading teacher who taught the elements of a story. When I made the decision to stay home with my growing family, I needed to do something for my overactive brain!  While my little ones would nap, I decompressed by writing. I promised myself that I would finish my book, and if no one else liked it at least I had the joy of writing. It took seven years to complete and three more years to publish. I nearly lost the manuscript twice due to computer viruses and mother board crashes!  There were times God would tell me to set my writing aside and focus on my family. Other times, He would tell me to pick it up again. It has truly been a joy and an adventure! I will also add that writing each book is an adventure in itself. What God is teaching me at that moment in life usually shines through My Novel Adventures! My latest novella: Cocoa Christmas Bride is no exception.


How did you select your genre?
I LOVE adventure, and I am fascinated by the way God brings couples together in love. Each one has a different story to tell. He is the ultimate matchmaker. I especially delight in the power of weaving His story into a grand adventure romance.
Love that, Stephanie!



What is your writing day like?
While writing Cocoa Christmas Bride, I was wearing many hats. J In addition to writing, I teach my four children (two high schoolers, a middle schooler and an elementary student) at home, am a Children’s Minister, co-founder of Sister2SisterMinistries and other crazy things. I aspire to write for about an hour and a half to two hours each morning from around 10am-noon while my children do online classroom videos. (I am not an early bird!) Mondays are dedicated to marketing during that time. Summer is a gift!


How do you organize your writing? (outlines/note cards/post-its)
I usually drag a spiral notebook along on our family adventures to get ideas started! We are surrounded by mountains and love to take day trips to go hiking/camping. I use my downtime in the car to brainstorm.
If you are familiar with writers you may know that there are generally two types: the plotters and the (by the seat of the) pantsers. I am a bit of both. I love to start with a basic plot and character or two, and then start writing. Along the way, I will stop and research, use a chart to develop my character’s quirks, etc; but I love to let the story lead.
During the planning of Cocoa Christmas Bride, I had a family member message me with a list of my husband’s family tree. I knew I had married a “prince among men”, but the number of kings and queens, dukes and earls in his line is shocking! The man is related to virtually every royal line in Europe! I decided to research one of his ggggreat-grandfather kings for fun and came away with amazing inspiration from the life of a truly magnificient yet humble man. The inspiration for a reluctant king being forced to take a queen was born! 


What's the most surprising thing a character has “told you”?
In Cocoa Christmas Bride, my female character Silvia Diamante chooses to be a person of strength yet vulnerability, of candor mixed with grace. I discovered personally that all these qualities can coexist in the life of a self-disciplined, Spirit-led individual. It is a tough balance to maintain, and writing my character challenged me higher. I had a moment of real soul-searching when writing certain scene in the book.




Do you have a list of characters that you're saving for future use? What kind of information do you keep on these characters
I usually have adventures or plots that I am saving for the future! Though I didn’t know it would revolve around cocoa or Christmas, Cocoa Christmas Bride  began this way! I toss the plot around in my head and daydream about it for a while. Eventually, a character takes it and runs with it! 


What does your work space/office look like?
I have an antique, Singer sewing machine, the kind that looks like a piece of furniture until you magically reveal the machine inside. It sits in front of a giant picture window with my laptop ready and waiting. I live on a desert mesa overlooking a river valley. From my window, I can see the cactus and Spanish courtyard of my front yard along with lights of my town in the river valley. Even now as I type, train whistles are blowing. I am blessed.


What is your go-to snack when writing?
Chocolate in any variety, I recently discovered cocoa nibs, the chocolate equivalent of a coffee bean! Writing a book about cocoa was a real treat! I also love hummus with either tortilla chips or snack peppers!
Cocoa nibs! I want some! :)


If you could only recommend one NOVEL, what would it be? Why?
If we are referring to one of my own, J it would be Shades of the Orient. It is a multi-layered plot with lots of twists and turns; it also has a lot of me in it. There are masks, intrigue and romance all wrapped around the themes of betrayal and grace.
If we are referring to a personal favorite read… Embrace the Dawn by Kathleen Morgan. It is a very adventurous, well-written historical about Scotland. The characters and setting drew me in and I even learned a few pointers on being a loving spouse!


If you could only recommend one CRAFT book (writing, no crocheting), what would it be? Why?
It’s an oldie, but really encouraged me to get started… How to be a Christian Fiction Writer ~ by Gilbert Morris. The man has published dozens of books, but described how he still receives rejections from publishers. He reminded me that sometimes a certain publisher isn’t publishing your genre, or may have different editors who like different styles. The point is… never quit.
He also keeps pictures of an eye, ear, mouth, nose and hand above his computer as a reminder to let the reader see, hear, taste, smell and touch the story.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Nothing helps an author more than positive reviews!!! If you are interested in reviewing or influencing for one of my books, please check out my amazon author page at: http://amazon.com/author/stephanieguerrero then contact me via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shadesoftheorient/ or email me: warriorranch@yahoo.com
I’d love to hear from you! Questions? Leave a comment below.
Two lucky posts will be selected to win the ebook: Love Found in a Christmas Village!

Thank you for joining us, today, Stephanie!
And readers, leave a comment with your email address! You want to win this book!

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Welcome Linda Baten Johnson and Cocoa and Christmas Crackers







Linda Baten Johnson has spent many hours packing and unpacking as she and her husband George have lived in 20 different places in the United States and enjoyed a stint in England. In between moves, Linda earned her Master of Arts degree in English and history, worked as a Realtor, a teacher, and logged many volunteer hours. One of her favorite volunteer assignments was at a lighthouse in a National Park where they were housed in the assistant keeper’s cottage.



Growing up in White Deer, a small town in the panhandle of Texas, Linda won blue ribbons for her storytelling ability. She still loves telling stories, reading stories, and sharing stories. She has written twelve books.





Why did you start writing? How did you start writing?
I started writing for my students. I taught in middle school and looked for ways to engage my students in the learning process. I wrote readers theater scripts about the parts of speech, about different types of writing, about research components. I even did a rap to help them remember the names and realms of the Greek gods for mythology.




How did you select your genre?
I started writing for middle school students, because that was the age I taught. My husband and I learned about the Friendship Train while on vacation and I later discovered the man who spearheaded the humanitarian effort, Drew Pearson, had donated all his papers to the LBJ Presidential Library which was close to my home. I was thrilled to be able to use primary source documents for my first book.
To stretch my writing, I entered a contest for a romance novella and it was accepted for publication, so I’ve been writing in that genre for the past few years.


What is your writing day like?
Coffee! I drink coffee and plan my day. I learned long ago that a life must be balanced, so I allocate time for spiritual, physical, personal, social, chores, and work. In the work aspect, a speaker at the last ACFW convention suggested we should be working on four books at all times—writing one, editing one, marketing one, and planning one. I’m trying to incorporate her suggestion.
Oh, I use a timer—I set the kitchen timer so I have to get up and turn off the incessant buzzing. That helps me focus when I’m writing, and keeps me from neglecting the other things on my daily list.
That is great advice, Linda! Thanks for sharing that!


How do you organize your writing? (outlines/note cards/post-its)
I wish I could be more of a plotter. I start with the “save the cat” outline, and write character sketches, but sometimes my characters change the stories.


What's the most surprising thing a character has “told you”?
“I’m not the person you think I am!” She was so desperate to leave New York City that she would lie, cheat, and steal to accomplish her goals. Since we write Christian fiction, usually our characters have a strong moral and ethical compass, so I was a bit surprised by her actions. 


Do you have a list of characters that you're saving for future use? What kind of information do you keep on these characters?
Yes. When I see an interesting looking person in line at the post office or in a restaurant, I’ll jot down some notes. When I overhear conversations, I may write down the dialogue, if it helps define a character. I’ve also created a spreadsheet on characters used in different books. That excel sheet has first and last names, occupation, home, hair color, eye color, quirks, distinguishing marks, and the book. Having a list keeps you from repeating names of minor characters.






What does your work space/office look like?
I’m lucky to have a converted bedroom I can use as my office. Special things in the office are pictures of my family, including grandchildren, to make me smile, a metal owl to remind me that readers are very wise, and a glass apple my mother-in-law gave me, which reminds me we are always teaching, in everything we do, say, or write.  


What is your go-to snack when writing?
I don’t really have one. Sometimes I grab a piece of fruit when that kitchen timer goes off!


If you could only recommend one NOVEL, what would it be? Why?
How can you only choose one? I think it would be To Kill a Mockingbird. The characters are amazing, the plot is compelling from start to finish, and having the story told through the innocent eyes of a child is genius.


If you could only recommend one CRAFT book (writing, no crocheting), what would it be? Why?
I’ve found The Emotion Thesaurus by Ackerman and Puglisi very helpful. They give suggestions of how emotions are shown.  I’m always fighting to show, not tell.


Is there anything else you'd like to add?
One thing that helps me is the adage: write it down, don’t write it right. It is so tempting to stop and edit or reread and change wording rather than move forward.


I’d like to thank you for inviting me to be with your readers. My next book is called Cocoa and Christmas Crackers. It will be both an individual book and part of a boxed set called Cocoa Christmas and they’ll be available in time to put in someone’s Christmas stocking.



Leave a comment and your email below to receive a PDF version of this amazing book!
 
www.lindabatenjohnson.com
https://www.amazon.com/Cocoa-and-Christmas-Crackers/

Thanks for joining us today, Linda!

Welcome Linda Baten Johnson and Cocoa and Christmas Crackers







Linda Baten Johnson has spent many hours packing and unpacking as she and her husband George have lived in 20 different places in the United States and enjoyed a stint in England. In between moves, Linda earned her Master of Arts degree in English and history, worked as a Realtor, a teacher, and logged many volunteer hours. One of her favorite volunteer assignments was at a lighthouse in a National Park where they were housed in the assistant keeper’s cottage.



Growing up in White Deer, a small town in the panhandle of Texas, Linda won blue ribbons for her storytelling ability. She still loves telling stories, reading stories, and sharing stories. She has written twelve books.





Why did you start writing? How did you start writing?
I started writing for my students. I taught in middle school and looked for ways to engage my students in the learning process. I wrote readers theater scripts about the parts of speech, about different types of writing, about research components. I even did a rap to help them remember the names and realms of the Greek gods for mythology.




How did you select your genre?
I started writing for middle school students, because that was the age I taught. My husband and I learned about the Friendship Train while on vacation and I later discovered the man who spearheaded the humanitarian effort, Drew Pearson, had donated all his papers to the LBJ Presidential Library which was close to my home. I was thrilled to be able to use primary source documents for my first book.
To stretch my writing, I entered a contest for a romance novella and it was accepted for publication, so I’ve been writing in that genre for the past few years.


What is your writing day like?
Coffee! I drink coffee and plan my day. I learned long ago that a life must be balanced, so I allocate time for spiritual, physical, personal, social, chores, and work. In the work aspect, a speaker at the last ACFW convention suggested we should be working on four books at all times—writing one, editing one, marketing one, and planning one. I’m trying to incorporate her suggestion.
Oh, I use a timer—I set the kitchen timer so I have to get up and turn off the incessant buzzing. That helps me focus when I’m writing, and keeps me from neglecting the other things on my daily list.
That is great advice, Linda! Thanks for sharing that!


How do you organize your writing? (outlines/note cards/post-its)
I wish I could be more of a plotter. I start with the “save the cat” outline, and write character sketches, but sometimes my characters change the stories.


What's the most surprising thing a character has “told you”?
“I’m not the person you think I am!” She was so desperate to leave New York City that she would lie, cheat, and steal to accomplish her goals. Since we write Christian fiction, usually our characters have a strong moral and ethical compass, so I was a bit surprised by her actions. 


Do you have a list of characters that you're saving for future use? What kind of information do you keep on these characters?
Yes. When I see an interesting looking person in line at the post office or in a restaurant, I’ll jot down some notes. When I overhear conversations, I may write down the dialogue, if it helps define a character. I’ve also created a spreadsheet on characters used in different books. That excel sheet has first and last names, occupation, home, hair color, eye color, quirks, distinguishing marks, and the book. Having a list keeps you from repeating names of minor characters.






What does your work space/office look like?
I’m lucky to have a converted bedroom I can use as my office. Special things in the office are pictures of my family, including grandchildren, to make me smile, a metal owl to remind me that readers are very wise, and a glass apple my mother-in-law gave me, which reminds me we are always teaching, in everything we do, say, or write.  


What is your go-to snack when writing?
I don’t really have one. Sometimes I grab a piece of fruit when that kitchen timer goes off!


If you could only recommend one NOVEL, what would it be? Why?
How can you only choose one? I think it would be To Kill a Mockingbird. The characters are amazing, the plot is compelling from start to finish, and having the story told through the innocent eyes of a child is genius.


If you could only recommend one CRAFT book (writing, no crocheting), what would it be? Why?
I’ve found The Emotion Thesaurus by Ackerman and Puglisi very helpful. They give suggestions of how emotions are shown.  I’m always fighting to show, not tell.


Is there anything else you'd like to add?
One thing that helps me is the adage: write it down, don’t write it right. It is so tempting to stop and edit or reread and change wording rather than move forward.


I’d like to thank you for inviting me to be with your readers. My next book is called Cocoa and Christmas Crackers. It will be both an individual book and part of a boxed set called Cocoa Christmas and they’ll be available in time to put in someone’s Christmas stocking.




 
www.lindabatenjohnson.com
https://www.amazon.com/Cocoa-and-Christmas-Crackers/

Thanks for joining us today, Linda!

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Teresa Lilly Stops By and Shares About her Christmas Cocoa Book

Welcome, Teresa! Thanks for stopping by and spending a bit of time with us today!


Tell us a bit about yourself:


.My name is Teresa Lilly.  I have about 17 novellas published in the Christian Ficition, about six children chapter books and over two hundred unit studies. 

Why did you start writing? How did you start writing?

I began my serious Christian Writing when my children were finally all done being homeschooled.  I quickly found my interest in pleasing publishers wasn’t what I wanted to do.  I wanted to have my own works published, so I opened Lovely Christian Romance Press and have been happily writing since.
And we writers thank you! You're a joy to work with!


How did you select your genre?

God selected it.


What is your writing day like?

I don’t start writing until 9pm at night and write til midnight.
Wow! That's crazy!

How do you organize your writing? (outlines/note cards/post-its)

In some cases I make a map of the town on a poster board. Sometimes just keep notes in a folder.




Do you have a list of characters that you're saving for future use? What kind of information do you keep on these characters

Just one in my head, but I sometimes write a paragraph outline of a story and keep that in my records for future novellas.


What does your work space/office look like?

I have an upstairs bedroom that is empty except my desk with my computer and a tv

What is your go-to snack when writing?

Cheese balls

If you could only recommend one NOVEL, what would it be? Why?

The Enchanted Barn by Grace Livingston Hill…. It’s the most beautiful book I’ve ever read.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Writers need to get their story out on paper and worry about fixing it up later.  Let the story flow…. And love what you do….and do it for you and God….

Thanks, for joining us, Teresa! Leave a comment below with your email address and you'll be entered to win a copy of her book! 

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Take a Breather and Hang out with Amanda Zieba today!

Welcome, Amanda! I'm excited to have you here today!

Amanda Zieba is a full time middle school teacher, a wife and mother always and a writer any minute she can squeeze in. She is the author of 7 books for young adults and children. Champion Chocolatier is her first book for adults. When she isn’t teaching, mothering or writing, she is building Lego creations with her sons or watching some sort of sports with her husband.


Why did you start writing? How did you start writing?


When I graduated high school and began to think about college I debated about majoring in education or some sort of writing. I didn’t know any authors. To me, they lived in a magical world of words… a place that seemed impossible to reach. On the other hand,  I knew what a life in school looked like. I knew many teachers. I knew their lifestyle. I had just lived it for 13 consecutive years. I liked school. I did well at it. And so, I chose the familiar. But less than two years into my teaching career, the writing itch began to resurface. I began writing “my novel”. A few years, a marriage, and two children after that I couldn’t ignore my desire to write. I began to look at my hobby with a new lens. I looked for paid writing opportunities. I practiced my craft. I published my first books. Almost eight years later, here I am, book number eight just published. Champion Chocolatier is my best work yet, and my first non-self-published book. I couldn’t be prouder of it. 
Congratulations, Amanda!


How did you select your genre? 

Fantasy and Historical Fiction are my favorite genres to read and subsequently my favorite genres to write. Realistic fiction just seemed so boring. If I wanted to experience something realistic, I could just turn on the TV, or look at my daily life. Why spend time in the real world when the imaginations of authors could provide someplace much more fun? So when Teresa (the publisher) asked me to write a realistic fiction story I was nervous at first. I didn’t want to write a boring story. But I was pleasantly surprised. I found that this genre wrote a lot faster. It didn’t require massive world building or rule creating. I could write about the world I knew in infinite detail without having to design it first… because I had lived in it for more than three decades. Finding interesting ways to convey the details of everyday life provided a new challenge, one that I really enjoyed.

What is your writing day like? 

As I mentioned before, I teach full time and have two kids. My husband also coaches baseball at the college level. (Don’t let the summer time sport mentality fool you. This is a five month commitment!) Needless to say, writing time can be hard to find, especially certain times of the year. When baseball is not in season, my husband works hard to make sure there is time for me to write. We have a deal called Writing Wednesdays. On Wednesdays after school I write until dinner. I don’t get the kids after school. I don’t make dinner. I don’t exercise. I write. It’s only about three hours, but I make the most of it. I also steal away on weekend conferences or retreats or workshops a few times throughout the year. On daily basis, I write mostly at night, when everyone else has gone to bed. I love that time because I feel like all of my daily responsibilities have been fulfilled and I can have a couple of hours for just me. 

How do you organize your writing? (outlines/note cards/post-its) 

There has been a lot of flack out there lately about being a pantser. But really, I think that is the style I adhere to best. First I write the scene that sticks out to me the most… the initial idea that makes me excited about the story. Then I jump around, repeating that process for multiple events throughout the novel. Next I write to bridge the scenes. To be honest it is not a very efficient way to write. Over time I have tried to refine the process, writing as chronologically as possible. But still, sometimes I get stuck and jump to the next scene I see clearly in my head. I have also started using some pre-writing workbooks, like the ones found on Kristen Kieffer’s site She’s Novel. (http://www.shesnovel.com) These templates help me think through my characters, world and plot before I write, so that when I do get down to business, I’m ready to go. 

What's the most surprising thing a character has “told you”? 
The name connections in the book Champion Chocolatier totally shocked me. I feel like it was a clever play on words that seemed masterfully planned, but to be honest, it just came to me (in Emmy’s mother’s voice). It was a sweet little treat, and I think it gives the story the something little extra to make it really good, rather than just good.

Do you have a list of characters that you're saving for future use? What kind of information do you keep on these characters

Names come to me, and also little pieces of information about them. I don’t write them down, but I probably should. For example, I want to write about a girl named Emerson, whose father is a University professor of poetry (and obsessed with Ralph Waldo Emerson). Despite her namesake, Emerson is nothing like the quiet poet her father wishes her to be, and despite her rebellious nature she can’t outrun her urge to fill blank pages with words. The conflict that builds between the two characters is sure-fire literary goodness. Don’t go stealing this idea… it’s gonna be a good one… one of these days. 
Love that! Can't wait to read it!

What does your work space/office look like? 
Usually my lap desk and computer. Like right now… recliner, green lap desk and shiny new MackBook Air. (Also… everyone else is sleeping.)

What is your go-to snack when writing? 

I could live on snacks and beverages alone. I often start out with a snack by my side (Sweedish Fish and a Diet Pepsi), but soon I get into a rhythm and they sit uneaten. Writing is one of those things for me that takes away the tired, the hungry, the urge to pee. I guess it’s a good thing I don’t get to write all the time!

If you could only recommend one NOVEL, what would it be? Why? 

What a terrible question to ask a writer!! The Tea Rose by Jennifer Donnelly is the book I recommend most often. It has everything. It is a historical fiction romance with suspense. Fiona’s dream is to own and operate a tea shop in 1800’s East End London. When her family is attacked by a serial killer and she must become a fugitive on the run, all of her dreams are forced to change. It is the first book in a series of great books about strong women, doing something that is important to them. Do yourself a favor and read it!

If you could only recommend one CRAFT book (writing, no crocheting), what would it be? Why? 

I love the Character Thesaurus Collection by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi. (Emotion Thesaurus, Positive Trait Thesaurus and Negative Trait Thesaurus). These books have helped me flesh out characters and take them from cardboard cut outs to real living and breathing people with quirks, flaws and motivations. They are a great addition to any writer’s bookshelf.

Is there anything else you'd like to add? 

I hope you love Champion Chocolatier as much as I do! If you have any young readers in your life, please visit my website to find some great reads for children of all ages. www.amandazieba.squarespace.com Happy Reading! 

Leave a comment below with your email address for a chance to win paperback copy along with a coco mug and packet of cocoa!